Me and the #earlybirdchallenge

I am awake early a lot. My 15 month old likes an early start. 6am in a lay in for him. I may be awake early but I don’t get up. I tend to spend the next hour trying to get him back to sleep – normally it’s a fail. So although I am awake, it’s all wasted time. The Boy rarely goes back to sleep.

So when Free Office Finder asked me to get involved with their #earlybirdchallenge I agreed for a few reasons. The first being I needed to break the morning cycle we were in, secondly because there are loads of benefits in getting up early and thirdly, because the emphasis of the challenge is on doing something for you.  I like the thought of having some me time. Who doesn’t?!

Early Bird Challenge

So on Wednesday morning, The Boy woke up, I got him some milk, settled him in bed with Phil and got up properly. It was about 5.45, so I knew I had over an hour before Phil had to start thinking about leaving for work.

So I had a shower, uninterrupted.
Then I made a coffee and headed to my computer and started writing.
I wrote a lot. I enjoyed writing.
I had time when I had energy to just crack on.
And I felt so accomplished.

I did think about getting up and going for a run. But I thought, actually, right now, it would be more beneficial for me to spend some time writing. The running needs to start happening, but to be honest, I live on the beach and its cold, windy and scary being out so early alone when it’s so dark out there. Excuses I know.

I am going to keep getting up when The Boy wakes me up though. Even if its doing mundane things like the housework or prepping things for school. At least it’s not wasted time which actually is quite stressful!

Next challenge is to get to bed at a reasonable time. I am going to start aiming for lights out by 10.30 and going up to bed about 10. I should start getting my recommended 8 hours, rather than the 5ish I currently get. Wish me luck!

The Gallery: Talent

SwimmingThis week I received an email from Little Leg’s swim school saying they want to move her up to level 2 after half term because she’s progressing so well. She’s only been having lessons since the beginning of September so I am thrilled for her.

The thing about Little Legs is she is very determined and very competitive. VERY competitive. She always wants to win and she always wants to go first. She’s super-confident. She has a winner’s mentality. I see it in her already.

Now that reason I am telling you both of these things is because they’re related. Little Legs swims with her pal, who didn’t get moved up. No drama there. But I found myself wondering why just Little Legs had been moved up. I started thinking that it was to do with external factors – maybe they needed her spot in the beginners class, maybe it’s because she’s 5 now. I had no evidence to support this, in fact, I had evidence telling me exactly why she has been moved up:

I am very pleased to be contacting you with regards to L’s swimming lessons, it has been brought to our attention that L is progressing very well and her teacher would like her to move up to group 2, Well done L!

So I gave myself a slap. She’s been moved up because she’s progressing well and her desire to be the best means she digs deep and goes for it. There’s no external factors but here I am, her mother, taking her accomplishment away from her. What is that about?

I read a post recently (see here) and it really resonated with me for lots of reasons, which I wont go in to now, but I realised by playing down Little Leg’s achievements (although never to her) I am actually, subconsciously, teaching her not outshine others. What kind of life lesson is that? I also realise that I’ll start feeding her self-limiting beliefs. I feel totally ashamed. So ashamed I went out with her a let her have a bloody Disney click-click doll (or whatever they’re called) as a treat for working so hard at swimming and at school.

I will no longer be apologising for Little Legs wanting to win. I won’t apologise for her super-confident-wanting-to-go-first ways. After all, it’s not like she has a problem with taking it in turns or anything like that. I have tried really hard to make her confident, self-assured and to have a voice. I want her to be able to take a compliment, love herself, know that saying no is OK.  Doubting her abilities and holding her back goes against everything I want for her.

Little Legs has got talent. I can’t tell you exactly what that is at the moment, but I know when she finds her thing, with her determination she will succeed.

As for the photo. That was taken when she was just three in Florida. She loves the water and really has no fear.

Linking up with The Gallery: Talent

 

The cutest thing ever.

Cuteness

I love this photo of Little Legs. It captures her so well. Her silly, funny side. She is the cutest thing ever. And she’ll be five in ten days time. FIVE. It’s all going too quickly.

In the last few weeks she’s learned to ride her bike, has started school and figured out how to put her seatbelt on herself. She’s getting more and more independent. I fear that when she actually turns five she’s going to declare herself a grown up! It’s the kind of thing she does. She’s already told me she’s good enough on her bike to cycle to her friend R’s house by herself. Good enough she may be. But she’s four.

She’s also loud and excessively competitive. Determined. She never gives up. If there’s something she wants to do, she gets stuck in to it. She once spent hours trying to do a HAMA bead heart. Her stubby little fingers knocked them over a hundred times. But she stuck at it. She persevered and she was as proud as punch when she told me it was ready to iron. She’s not touched HAMA beads since.

I’ve encouraged her independence and encouraged her to have a voice. I encourage her to say no. I want her to be strong enough to say no as she grows. If she can’t say no to people she knows, how will she ever have the strength to say no to people she doesn’t know, people overstepping boundaries?

I feel I am about to go on one now. So will stop this post sharpish, perhaps I’ll come back to it another day.

But seriously, isn’t she the cutest thing ever.

Review: Lego Movie

The kids love lego. Little Legs likes building buildings with it, and The Boy loves ramming as much as he can in his mouth before I take it off him. Phil got Lego for Christmas last year. We are a Lego loving family! (Remember my Lego facts post?). When The Lego Movie popped through the front door from suppose.com Little Legs was very pleased.

The movie is okay. Little Legs watched it solidly all the way through. When I asked her what she thought about it, she informed me that we shouldn’t use glue when we do Lego-ing. I told her we don’t use glue. But by then she’d moved on to other things…

I’ve tried a few times since to get her to provide some input in to this post. But she’s not playing ball. 4 year olds eh. I can tell you that the fact she sat and watched it all means a thumbs up from her. I’m personally not the biggest fan, but I did like the gags in there and I couldn’t help but compare to Wreck It Ralph. That’s a lot to do with the characters all being aware of who they are though I guess. But then I struggle watching most animated movies! The movie has a great story which I think is supposed to be bringing together the whole ethos of Lego, but for me, it doesn’t quite ring true as I’m still silently raging about the Lego Friends products. Anyway …

If you’re looking for a movie which the whole family are probably going to enjoy with a nice little story, a very sweet ending then you’re sure to enjoy this. Little Legs approves.

ps. Phil just read this and said I need coffee or something as I sound grumpy! He wanted me to say: It’s a really good movie that the kids loved and he really liked it too. Eloquent eh.

Disclaimer.
The lego movie was sent to us for free.
Words are my own. Obviously.
You can read more about all this in my disclosure policy.

Pinterest Fail #1: Ombre Cake

Little Legs 5th birthday is coming up and she has requested a Frozen-themed party. So I have been pinning away tat-free Frozen ideas for her party over the last few weeks. One of the ideas I spotted were beautiful ombre cakes.

We have had a rough few days. The Boy has been poorly which ended up with us visiting hospital again which resulted in us all feeling shattered. (He’s OK, nout to worry about). So today, we thought we would have a chilled out day and practice making the cakes I had pinned. We’d made a rainbow cake before so we thought this would be easy.

This is what we were aiming for, as spotted over at Two Sisters Crafting:

Disney Frozen Cake Ideas - Ombre Cake

And this masterpiece is what we ended up with:

Ombre Cake - Pinterest Fail

Not quite as pretty is it. The biggest fail is Phil didn’t actually realise that we were doing the ombre thing, so just shoved them together in any order. Next is the fact two cakes are pretty much the same colour. We didn’t think to leave one food colouring free. And finally, we overcooked every single cake. Damn it.

So this is the first of my new series, Pinterest Fails because I so know there will be more of them (as there have been quite a few before this one!). Phil is planning to right these wrongs and will be making these for the birthday party. Will keep you posted on that.

Kids in the Kitchen with Betta Living

I have been meaning to write this post for weeks now, but with Little Legs starting school and BG school launching, it’s been moving down my To Do list. Anyway….. back in the summer, we were sent a big box of goodies from Betta Living for their Kids in the Kitchen initiative, we had a quick peak and then put it to one side as we were off on holidays. Two weeks later on a rainy day, I had a grumbling four-year old who was moaning she was bored and I was boring (as if!) and even The Boy couldn’t entertain her, so we got the box down. The box was full of stuff to do. Good stuff. Stuff that pleases kids! Stuff that pleases parents too, because the ideas are all kind to the pocket! Which is good, because the cost of keeping a child entertained over the six-week school summer holiday is estimated to be anything between a whopping £1,000 to £1600. Yep. A lot isn’t it. There’s 20 days of activities in that box and the cost of doing them all is just £50. You really can’t complain!

Although the summer holidays are well and truly gone – it’s all conkers and daddy longlegs here – the list is still doing the rounds now. It’s brilliant. Many of the ideas are free or really cheap, and loads can be done with what you already have in the kitchen. It’s actually perfect for rainy days whatever the season. Here’s the full list:

Kids in the KitchenSo we worked through the list. Little Legs favourite thing to do, by far, was mixing bicarb of soda and vinegar. THE JOY she had from the ‘explosion’ was unreal! We failed miserably at some activities, like Weetabix Jenga. Little Legs loved they were banana Wheetabix and demanded we ate them, so we did! She loved biscuit decorating, and we decided to ice numbers and letters on them – perfect before she went back to school.

Kids In The Kitchen - Betta Living

So if you’re looking to keep the kids entertained (half term is coming) do head over to their site and see what you could get up to!

This is a sponsored post.
Please see disclosure policy for full information.
All words are my own.

Today is a bad dog day

Today has been awful. Terrible. My dog bit someone. A child. Totally unprovoked.

It wasn’t a savage attack, it was a snap, which caught her. We’d been for a walk, the children throwing the ball for him. He’d been happy, showing no signs of any stress. Then suddenly, he snapped at her. For nothing.

Thankfully, the child’s mum was fabulous. I felt awful taking her home and telling her my much loved dog had bit her. She could tell I was distraught. She told me not worry. But I am worried.

My dog has always been around children. I am shell-shocked. I am GUTTED. I’ve put him out in the garden and don’t know what to do now. Although I know what I need to do.

My children are 1 and 4.
I can’t have a dog who will snap at children in my home.
It’s that simple.
And that makes me sad beyond belief.

I have been researching.
Trying to justify it.
I can’t.

My dog is well exercised and social. Our dog walker takes him three times a week in addition to the walks we give him just so he gets to be social with a group of dogs. There’s never been a problem. He’s well fed. He’s well loved. We have never hit or been abusive to him. When he was a puppy I took him to classes. I rarely need walk him on lead. He’ll stop at every road and wait for me to tell him to cross. He recalls perfectly. He responds to the heal command and walks just behind me. If I do tell him I need to put a lead on him, he comes and sits ready for it. We make him work his mind as much as his legs. Our kennels tell us how brilliant he is. We are responsible dog owners.

He’s getting on a bit. He’s grumpy. He’s achey.
Reasons perhaps. But not an excuse.
And if it is a reason, it’s only going to get worse.
His back leg arthritis is particularly bad in the winter.

My dog bit someone. A child.
The trust has gone.
And it’s with a heavy heart we know we need to re-home him.
I am gutted.

 

How to teach a child to ride a bike

At the beginning of summer Little Legs got a new bike. She’s four. The intention was that we would get her off her stabilisers and riding on two wheels by the end of summer. We tried but failed miserably. She had fear and we had the wrong approach. The stabilisers came off and went back on a few times.

Last Sunday, she wanted to go out on her bike. I decided it was the day she would be riding without stabilisers. So off they came, and down the park we went. I knew Little Legs could ride her bike. I knew it. She’s always zipped about on her scooter, one legged, she does tricks and is confident on it. I also knew when I was taught to ride a bike, we didn’t spend all summer trying, we went out and did it in one afternoon. So I changed my approach.

How to teach a child to ride a bike

How to teach a child to ride a bike

Before you start, drop that saddle as far as it goes. They need to feel secure.

Secondly, make them ride their bike without using the pedals. Take them off if you can, so you have a balance bike. We didn’t take ours off, but made Little Legs sit on her bike and push herself along to the park. A few minutes journey. Push, push weeeeee. The weeeee being feet in the air. Just for confidence.

Now for the important bit. Practise falling off. I know. Right. But bear with me. The fear is about falling. That needs to be overcome. So I got her on the bike and told her we were going to fall off. Controlled falling. I tipped the bike to the side, she ended up on her arse. LAUGHING. We did this a few times, and then she was like, hell no mama, and put her feet down to stop the falls. I made this a joke, mock telling her off, while Phil jumped up and down and praised her for putting her feet down. This went on for about 5 or 6 minutes. The fear of falling had gone.

Next we decided that it was time to just do it. We got her on. Promised we were gonna hold her until she was ready, gave her a good push and made her pedal pedal pedal. And she did. She decked it a few times. But because she knew falling off was okay, she jumped straight back on. Within 20 minutes of us getting to the park she was riding her bike.

We didn’t worry about steering. She just rode. She loved it. By the time an hour was up, she was riding her bike brilliantly. We were no longer pushing her, just helping her balance as she started.

Next comes starting off. I have to give Phil praise for this. I was trying to instruct her but Phil decided to show her. They sat on their bikes together and Phil demonstrated what to do. Five minutes later she had nailed it. This meant we didn’t have to keep running the lengths of football pitches to help her back on.

We went home. Little Legs with bruises on her legs but happy and so very proud. She called both sets of grandparents and her Aunty to let them know. She went to bed thrilled. She wanted to ride her bike to school the next morning, but I said no. I didn’t want to rush the whole pavement and road cycling, so instead we went back to the park and rode the paths after school. Me on my bike, her on hers. I said she can go wherever she wants and I would be right behind her. We rode around that park a lot. She now had the confidence to ride on concrete.

Today, this morning. Phil and i decided to ramp it up a level and go for our first family bike ride. We rode down to our normal coffee shop on the beach for milkshakes. Little Legs had a few fears as the pavements were narrower than the paths on the park, but she nailed it. After our drink we carried on riding. We rode round our local ‘lake’, and then all the way back home. She was buzzing. She complained a little her legs were hurting from the cycling, but the promise of a Moshi monster ice-lolly when we got home gave her the final kick she needed. She made it home.

Little Legs rode about two miles today. No falls. No fear. She was thrilled. I was thrilled. I have said we can now ride our bikes to school on Monday.

I showed a friend a video of Little Legs riding her bike during the week, and we decided to try the same approach with her little girl. Also four. I taught her how to fall off and then did everything else I have said here. On Tuesday afternoon, both four-year-olds were bombing about on their bikes on the green. Thrilled. Seriously. T H R I L L E D. And so very proud.

The Gallery: School

first day at school 2014

It doesn’t seem more than a week or two since I wrote about Little Legs finishing pre-school. Now she’s started reception and is loving it. Last week she did half days, from tomorrow she’s full time all week. My only concern is lunchtime, her only concern is whether she will get to sit next to her best pal. She’s a confident little thing, the change has been no drama at all. I’m thrilled about this but my heart aches a little too. I just hope she enjoys school as much as I did.

Linking up with The Gallery.

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