Sunday, 29 December 2013

"Never be a food snob. Learn from everyone you meet - the fish guy at your market, the lady at the local diner, farmers, cheese makers. Ask questions, try everything and eat up!"


While at a recent visit to Ikea our little play food enthusiast fell in love with their children's kitchen so as we had come to the decision to transform part of the boys room in to a laboratory for Seth we wanted to also do something as exciting for Opeie to wake up to on the big day. Ever since the boys had started playing with their play food we knew we wanted to get them a kitchen and start to build up a collection of children's kitchenware. With Opeie and Mrs M living with serious allergies and dietary issues, the food we eat and where it comes from is really important to us as a family so the fact that the boys actively take an interest in this during meal times and during their role playing is really great.


The plan for Christmas as with Seth's area of the room for a science lab was for Opeie to have his own little diner so that he could serve us and his toys (who are now used to his picnics) food till his hearts content, so while we were painting Seth's wall we were doing the same with Opeie's, creating an area of their room for role playing and food education. 


We had a great selection of products from various places and plenty of things from our kitchen for the boys to use making their playtime a little more enjoyable. The night before our Christmas myself and Mrs M set the area up ready for Opeie to wake up and it ended up looking really nice. 


Opeie was really excited about his new play area and it was great to see that Seth loved it too and was looking forward to playing with his little brother and teaching him what he had learnt from us in regards to food and its preparation. Today's culinary task 'Make some Opeie friendly chocolate' using the inside of his Advent calander as a mold. I'm sure Mrs M will be writing about this soon over at naturalveganecomom.com so check it out.


Opeie's Diner is now open for business and serves food daily. His specialty yesterday was potatoes with jam, delicious (organic potatoes of course). The area is so much more than a play diner, since playing with the play food this year it has helped Opeie with learning colours and counting, hopefully with the use of the large blackboard for his menu it will encourage reading and writing during the coming months. In the mean time though we can enjoy being served a plate of fish bones to accompany our pasta and cheese.


Along with Seth's Lab, Opeie's Diner has served as another great way for us to spend time playing together as a family and if the past few days is anything to go by both areas of the boys room are going to keep us very entertained.




Saturday, 28 December 2013

"A scientist in his laboratory is not a mere technician: he is also a child confronting natural phenomena that impress him as though they were fairy tales."

The past few weeks have been hectic, were usually so organised around Christmas time but because of the holiday late in the year by the time we got back we had loads to do, plus we've been re-tiling the kitchen and painting the house. If you are a regular reader you'll know that for the past 2 weeks we've dropped off the radar a little. Christmas has passed now, Mrs M is back at work and I've got some serious catching up to do.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Seth's Christmas list and how he hadn't asked for anything for himself but wanted Santa to give his presents to homeless children. It was so sweet of him and  the letter will be cherished. Well we made some donations and helped out at the local food bank which we will continue to do. Although Seth's jesture was truly amazing it did leave us in the position of not knowing what to get him. 

Myself and Mrs M had a chat one night and she came up with a great idea which we put into action straight away. Seth loves anything science, he could happily sit all day doing experiments and mixing chemicals (safe ones of course), so we thought it would be a really nice surprise on Christmas morning to wake up to his very own laboratory. 


We had so much fun organising things without him knowing and even managed to paint him a huge blackboard using chalkboard paint on his wall and kept it hidden a whole week before Christmas. It was touch and go a few times when we though he might rumble us but it all worked out and was kept hidden until the big day.

We found some great science things for gifts that we knew would go great in his lab and we were both really excited about setting things up while he was asleep waiting for Santa's arrival. Our Christmas Day was on Boxing Day due to Seth not being with us on Christmas morning so on Christmas morning while most people were opening their gifts we were putting the finishing touches on Seth's big surprise. A few nights back a light bulb went off in my head and I though 'I wonder if there is an 'Se' on the periodic table?' I was about 75% sure there was a 'Th' and thought it would be great to use them on the design. Luckily I was right and selenium was right up there with Thorium, it was obviously meant to be. 


On Christmas night we went to a party at Laura's folks and we took our good friend Chris with us which worked out great as he was there to give me a hand when we got home moving Seth's furniture out while he was sleeping. I had been stressing that we wouldn't get away with it as there was a huge unit to move out but we were surprisingly quiet moving it. We spent the next hour setting it up with beakers full of colourful liquids and various science equipment.


Bless Seth, when he woke up in the morning he wasn't sure what it was in the dark but after waking us up we followed him in and let some light into the room. He was a very excited boy and has been sitting at his desk ever since looking quite chuffed with himself. Theres no shortage of chemicals to mix and specimens to examine, its a mini scientists dream come true and Seth has been making the most of it.


In the past few days we have built a windmill (although we are yet to get it to work), had an Alchemy session (okay maybe that's a little OTT were no where near the discovery of the elixir of life just yet, we'll just call it chemical mixing) and Seth and Mrs M made their own bouncy balls (very clever). We've got plenty of experiments lined up for over the holiday and now we have the space and materials for Seth to let his scientific mind run wild.



The whole thing including the desk and fittings cost under £100 which was great and the look on Seths face was priceless. Its so important to get involved with the things that your children are interested in and although for Seth this is a great present its also a great way for us to spend even more quality time as a family.


Of course we couldn't leave little Opeie out, what could we have done for him to wake up to on his Christmas morning? Click here to find out.




Sunday, 15 December 2013

Gifts from thePirates in Orlando - Competition winner(s)


Okay so i know that I'm a day behind, my bad, but its what happens when your days are taken up with none stop running about, playing and generally making sure that the boys are having an amazing time. I thought that the only fair way to pick a winner is to let that 2 year old angel of ours do it. So the names went in to a hat and the winner is Emma Kinsley, well done Emma. I will contact you shortly and thank you for the lovely email you sent last week.


Opeie clearly enjoyed being clapped and cheered pulling out a piece of paper and showing it to us and got a bit 'winner happy'. So because he pulled out two extra names (and because i have an abundance of chocolate left) i will be sending two runners up prizes to Nik Nak and Molly Kay and i think you both made it quite clear in your comments what you would like.


Thank you everyone who took part its nice to be able to share the goodies that we brought back, plus it means that my waistline should stay roughly the same for another week of so. Merry Christmas guys xx


Saturday, 14 December 2013

Gifts from the Pirates in Orlando - Disney Hollywood studios


I didn't really know what to expect of Hollywood studios, apart from knowing that star tours was there I hadn't really looked in to what else was there. I prefer to just find out on arrival, i like exploring. Thanks to Visit Orlando, Hollywood studios was the first Disney park for us to visit during our stay in Orlando and I don't think we were prepared for the busyness.the Disney parks are so different to the others, when you are at them you kind if feel like everyone in Orlando has decided to flock to the same place, there are tourists everywhere. We arrived early and was guided to our parking spot, as with all the parks (it's a little annoying considering the cost of tickets) there is a charge for parking ($15). The car park is a bit of a trek but luckily there are shuttles that take you from car park to park which is really handy.


At the park the streets are brimming with happy faces. There are street performers using the streets like a stage and it really is a magical experience. 


First and foremost we had to go and find where it was that you meet Wreck it Ralph, Opeie had been going on about meeting him for months and he was so excited. For some reason I assumed that Wreck it Ralph was one of Disney's less popular characters and we would walk straight up to him for pics, classic school boy error. The wait was 45 minutes and if it had been anyone else I'd have said lets go, but it wasn't 'anyone' it was Wreck it Ralph so waited we did. The boys started to get a little irritated in the queue but that was soon forgotten when they finally got to Ralph and Vanellope...


After meeting them we noticed the queue for meeting Minnie Mouse was really short so she jumped up to next on our list. I loved the posters that were up where the queue was, Disney remakes of old films.


Seth really wanted to go to the Star Wars section of the park (and so did I secretly shhhh...) on the way there we walked past the Toy story ride which Opeie was desperate to get on but it was an 85 minute wait, the wait times for some of the rides are crazy and although I'd love to go on them, standing in a line for the best part of an hour and a half isn't my idea of fun. Before reaching star tours we noticed the arena for the stunt show which looked great so we made a note of the times and headed on our way (with shows and wait times etc its a good idea to plan your time there when you arrive). 


When we reached the Star wars ride we were greeted with another long queue (40mins but apparently this isnt a long wait time according to staff) but Seth was desperate to get on, Turned out we were only waiting 20 minutes which was a nice surprise. Opeie had dropped off at this point so me and Seth went ahead. We met a really nice chap in the queue who was telling us about the dark knight rises being filmed right by his work and how he got to watch the filming, it made the queuing go a lot quicker. The ride was great but Seth had got a taster for rides again and wanted to fully explore his new found love.

After the ride we met up with Mrs M who had sweet talked some fast passes for the Toy Story ride which was great (Its handy to know that these fast passes are available throughout the Disney parks so find the fast pass kiosks or chat with staff). Opeie was still flat out so we swapped children and Mrs M and Seth went on the Muppets 3d ride while I explored the area and took a few pictures .


Then the time had come for the stunt show. I didn't really think it was going to be my cup of tea but it was great. Seth really got into it, it was so well done. They explain how car stunts are done and what tricks and camera angles are used. They showed a few stunts fully explaining them all in detail and then at the end put them all together for a short movie scene it was so interesting. Mrs M got the new lens out again and got some fab shots of the action. There was a huge explosion at the end with flames and while all the children in the audience gasped or screamed, Opeie simply shouted YEEEAAAH!!!


The show was on for around half an hour (which flew by) and before we knew it we were making our way back out of the arena and heading off to the toy story ride. On the way we stopped for some photos with a Toy Story soldier. It's great at the parks that there are characters about to have your photos taken with if breaks up the sometimes lengthy walks between rides.


The Toy story ride was awesome and the boys really enjoyed it. I'm not sure I'd have felt the same had I have had to wait for 85 minutes to go on it though. The queuing was the one thing that really let the park down, i know it cant be helped, it is Disney after all but as i have said before for me, queuing for ridiculous times just takes the fun out of being there. Mrs M really wanted to go on the Aerosmith ride but again the queue was crazy so she decided against it.

The busyness and queuing eventually got the better of us so we left the park and headed over to Epcot (which i will write about very soon). It was a great afternoon at Hollywood studios and we didnt hear the end of meeting Wreck it Ralph so it was worth it just for that.








Friday, 13 December 2013

“Young cat! If you keep Your eyes open enough, Oh, the stuff you will learn! The most wonderful stuff!”


The boys are bookoholics which i love, when Opeie is feeling tired at home and wants to relax he will usually request 'books and bed', this is one of my favourite times of the day. If you are a regular reader then you will know that Dr. Seuss makes an appearance at our house daily.  Today when Opeie requested 'books and bed' i realised just how much Opeie takes in when he is being read to.  This is just part of the reading session we had. While reading a Dora the explorer book Opeie started reading on his own and i had to stop him and get it on camera...





Thursday, 12 December 2013

“When I give, I give myself”


Seth has made me so proud this Christmas in fact both our boys have proved once again how thoughtful and kind they are and overall how much they love each other. The week we came back from our holiday we brought up the subject of this years letter to Santa. Now Seth knows what a good boy he is, there's no fear of ever being on the naughty list so he would be well within his right to request anything, this is Santa we are talking about after all. That night he disappeared to his bedroom and returned with this...


'Dear santa claws pleas cud you bring homeless children some presents and pleas cud I have a sprise. Thank you'

I could have cried when reading it. Seth proceeded to explain that he didn't really need anything this year and he would like some things to go to people that really need it, he really is one of a kind. Of course we had planned to help out people less fortunate than us as we always do but more so now for Seth's very kind request. His selflessness didn't stop there though. Seth had made it quite clear that there was a specific present that he would like to buy for Opeie, we explained that it may take Seth some time to save for it, but Seth said he wanted to save his pocket money and do whatever he needed to make sure his special little brother got this special gift. So over the last week we have been clearing Seth's room of unwanted toys and selling them on so that he would have the money for his Christmas gift. 

Today was the day that we finally made the £40 that he needed after selling his unwanted things and also a few nights back helping Mrs M to part with £5 for a bulk payment of smoochies. That never works for me! One of the great things about this situation is that it has taught Seth that items such as these don't come easily, it has taught him a valuable lesson in the value of money and what it takes to get what you want. A lesson that i think would be beneficial to all children. He couldn't wait to go to the shops so after tea  I said I'd take him. Seth looked so chuffed as he paid the shop assistant and i assume he will be even happier when he sees the happiness on Opeie's face.


It seems that Opeie too has taken on his brothers kind nature too, today i sold some of Seth's unwanted books to one of the moms at the school. I handed her her £1 change and she kindly handed it to Opeie and said this is for you, he looked so excited and couldn't wait to show Seth and Mrs M. When i asked him what he wanted to spend his money on he simply replied 'Christmas present for Seth'.

It seems we are bringing the boys up just right. great morals and a sense of selflessness that you don't see a lot in children these days. I'll say it again, I'm so very proud of the way they are turning out and i am very smitten by my two Special boys.

Part of the story may have resulted in the purchase of an item but the words of Dr. Seuss are permanently etched in to our family's ethos...






Wednesday, 11 December 2013

"What is there more kindly than the feeling between host and guest?"


I had big plans for getting out and doing something this morning with Opeie but as i dragged our wheelie bins down the path before getting in the car to take Seth to school i buttoned up my coat and watched the steam come from my mouth as it hit the cold air, it was freezing. Winter is well and truly here. We loaded the troops into the car and as i looked back in the mirror before heading off i saw snot running down Opeie's face almost reaching his lips, ewww! it was clear that we weren't going anywhere today. We did our usual rounds and when we got home i asked Opeie what he wanted to do? "Picnic with my toys!". A boy that knows exactly what he wants, nice and easy for me.

I went hunting for our parasol that has been in the cupboard under the stairs since the warm weather upped and left, i thought I'd go for a sunny day kind of picnic, we didn't want the make believe sunshine melting our Haba cheese after all. Opeie loves role playing with his play food and he loves feeding his toys. I guess he sees me helping him all the time with things and then wants to recreate that with his favourite characters.


As always there were no shortage of guests and on the menu Haba's finest cuts of meat, fruit and vegetables and a cheese selection that was worthy of the finest imaginary crackers, all courtesy of The Toadstool. Opeie likes to be the head chef, Waiter and Host and as he served up the food he made idle chit chat with his guests.


I really love how much Opeie loves role playing and it is so good for his development. Its great for his speech and his confidence and its so nice to play with him and listen to all of the things he has picked up from us, the books he is read and the programmes he loves. His love of play food is what has been the driving force for his Christmas present this year. Since receiving these from The Toadstool they have become one of the firm favourites during play time and i cant recommend them enough. If you are stuck for something to buy your toddler then look no further than this great site that has a huge selection on offer. These are perfect as stocking fillers. Word got round about what was being served and toys were queuing around the block.


Play food isn't all about the roleplaying, as a toy and as a learning tool it can be very versatile. Finding coloured plates and then organising the food on to the correct plates by colour is a favourite game of Opeie's and with the smaller items like the cheese and meats you can make fun counting games. Its one of the great things about playing with your child, whatever you are doing they are always learning, taking everything in.


It didnt get any warmer outside but with warm food in their bellies and endless cuddles from a very loving host the toys and Opeie continued to have fun throughout the afternoon.

For a great selection of soft play food perfect for your role playing children visit thetoadstool.co.uk






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