Childhood Memories of the 90's

Scrunchies, Tinkerbell peel-off nail varnish, Clark's Magic Steps shoes, traffic light lollies, Care Bears, Family Ness, bum bags, Duck Tales, Keypers, friendship bracelets, Kangaroo shoes, Cupcake Dolls, Chewits, scratch and sniff stickers, Forever Friends or yin yang 'best friends' necklaces, Keds, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Bucky O'Hare, My Little Ponies, 'Waterfalls' by TLC, Hypercolour T shirts that used to change colour (Global Technacolour), Shaggy 'Mr Boombastic', Roller Discos, mood rings, 'Saturday Night' by Whigfield, Pogs, cycle shorts, bouncy balls, Rednex 'Cotton Eye Joe', Tammy Girl t shirts, 2 Unlimited 'No Limit', Strawberry Shortcake, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Ace Of Base 'All That She Wants', playing 'it' (tag), Roald Dahl books, Scatman John 'I'm a Scatman', Clarissa Explains It All, Get Your Own Back, Milkybars, 5ive, Girl Talk, Gladiators, Trio biscuits, Don't Forget Your Toothbrush, Sleepover Club books, Noel's House Party, The Queen's Nose, Koosh balls, Mrs Doubtfire, hair mascara, The Animals of Farthing Wood, shag bands, Hanson, puffa jackets, snap bracelets, Art Attack, jelly shoes, All Saints, recording cassette tapes from the radio, school discos, The Outhere Brothers 'Boom Boom Boom', Disney VHSs, Girls World, Dream Phone game, Pinky & The Brain, Right Said Fred 'I'm Too Sexy', Push Pops, N-Trance 'Set You Free', Fun House, Polly Pocket, Wuzzles, floral leggings, Silly Putty, Furby, Super Soakers, A1, Skip It, Etch-A-Sketch, ALF, playing 'stuck in the mud', Backstreet Boys, body glitter, Matilda, playing 'kiss chase', Kappa trousers, Club biscuits, playing British Bulldog, Blackjacks and Fruit Salad sweets, girls doing handstands up against the fence, Take That, Flumps, making grass nests and houses when the school field had been mown, Teeny Terrapins and Happy Hippos in Kinder Eggs, Biff & Chip books, Round The Twist, Keenan & Kel, stretchy tattoo chokers, Sharky & George, making daisy chains, Spirograph, Dinosaurs on TV, Home Alone, Talkboy, Rescue Rangers, Tazos, The Secret World of Alex Mack, E.T., Rainbow Brite, View Master, shellsuits, Trolls, Haddaway 'What Is Love?', candy necklaces, The Demon Headmaster, Biker Grove, Talkback Dear Diary, Grange Hill, The Babysitter Club books, Sweet Valley High, Saved By The Bell, Sister Sister, B*Witched, Cleopatra, playing cat's cradle, clapping rhymes, Barbie, Sylvanian Families, Animal Ark books, Gina G 'Just a Little Bit More', Knightmare, He-Man, The Neverending Story, Impulse, Sun In, N Sync, Boglins, Ghostbusters, Raggy Dolls, Transformers, Captain Planet, Tamagotchi, Chumbawamba 'Tubthumping', Wagon Wheels, Saddle Club books, Potsworth & Co.

The Travel Book

One of Eric's favourite games with Alex is to look at the world map and point to the different countries, and Alex will say the places in lots of funny voices.  He's started to understand that when Alex works he goes to different countries and that his Grandma has just got back from travelling around America.  
Eric's been unwell for the last few days with a virus that's also given him conjunctivitis, so he has been tired and miserable.  To cheer us up today I decided to get out The Travel Book so we could look at all the countries, and it has been a surprise hit! 
The book has a page per country, with lots of information for would-be-travellers (I bought it before my gap year that never was) and the pictures are amazing.  As well as a 'top things to do' and 'top things to see' for each country, there is also a 'getting under the skin' section, with ideas of what to read, listen to, watch, eat and drink. 
Eric and I talked about the different countries we would like to go to, how you get to different places, and what it might be like there.  We made up stories about the people and the locations in the pictures. 
One of Eric's favourite countries to look at was Finland and he said he'd like to go to the United States.  I still dream of going to French Polynesia, the Cook Islands and the Galapagos islands (I'll get there one day!)

I'd definitely recommend this book to those planning a trip.  It's not as in depth as the individual Lonely Planet or Rough Guides, but it's brilliant for inspiration and fantasy.  And great for learning about travel and different places with your kiddos, or as the backdrop for making up stories.  Have you got this book? Let me know what you think!
Hopefully he'll feel better soon!

Mother's Day Present Ideas 2014

Mothering Sunday is on the 30th of March this year, the perfect day to show your love and appreciation for your mum or the mother of your children!  If you've got a child under five then they probably haven't got a present or card (after age five they might have made them at school, but check!) so that falls to you partners.  You might also be thinking of getting a gift or card for your friend or relative who has a new baby but be stuck for ideas.  Every mum is different and the best gift is always the most thoughtful, not the most expensive, so here are some ideas to get you started for every budget.

Budget £0 - £5

  • Framed 'number of days you have been my mum' card
I love this card, £4.95, from Ruby Wren Designs, and I think you could easily frame it to make it into the loveliest gift.  It is personalised with the right amount of days and you can choose the colours, patterns etc.  

  •  Vintage vase
These pretty vintage milk bottle vases are from Made With Love Designs, and cost £3.95, but you could also pick up vintage milk bottles or vases in charity shops.  Just add a single bloom like the photo = perfect present!

  • Mother's Day Tokens
Why not make some Mother's Day tokens for your Mum or with your children for your could personalise them to be all her favourite things, e.g. 1 cuddle, 1 cup of tea, 1 trip to her favourite place, 1 home-cooked meal plus the washing up done etc.!
Best of all you can be as creative as you like and they are free!  

  • Card and cake!
I think this Belle & Boo card, £2.50, from Etsy would be really sweet along with a homemade cake!


  • Something Homemade
If you have young children why not make something together? Homemade gifts are the best and most special.  There are tonnes of ideas on Pinterest!

Budget £5 - £10

  • Recycled Notebook
A delightful notebook, £7.50 from Lou Brown Designs, for list-making or creative mamas.

  • Framed tea towel or fabric
I absolutely adore this, but given framed as a lovely piece of artwork not as a tea towel! Please don't give her a tea towel or anything reminiscent of domestic chores and drudgery (unless you're also promising to wash up!) This beaut is from Lilac Coast and costs £8.95. 

  • Picture book
If you're buying a present as the partner of a mother of young children, how about a book for them to read together? One of our favourites is Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney (this edition costs £6.99 from Waterstones), which has a lovely message for Mother's Day.  
  • Handmade Jewellery
I think these handmade, ceramic and silver Forget Me Not earrings from Etsy are the sweetest.  And they're only £8! They make me wish my ears were pierced.  Do check she has pierced ears though...I'm always being given earrings and mine aren't!

Budget £10 - £20
  • Collection of charity shop books. 
One of my favourite presents to give or receive is a pile of vintage books from a charity shop.  You can buy lots of different individual books, special editions of their favourites or a collection of books centred around a theme they love...old illustrated fairy tale books, sewing and craft books, interiors books, annuals from the 1960's, vintage Penguin classics, whatever you think they'll like! Our local Oxfam bookshop has a special section for antiquarian and vintage books and has absolute gems, I always want to buy them all. 

  • Fancy gardening bits
For the gardening and mid-century modern enthusiast how about these amazing Orla Kiely gardening gloves, around £15?  Yes these are what I'm getting my Mum.  She doesn't read my blog so don't worry, it'll stay secret!

  • Filled photo album
I love flipping through actual physical photo albums and reminiscing.  Any presents involving photos are brilliant in my book!

  • Book Journal
I really need one of these, so surely other mums who like to read do too?! I forget which authors I have liked, which books I hated, which books I wanted to look for at the library, etc.! Mummy brain never leaves you! This Moleskine book journal, £12, is wonderful (and you can buy it in Waterstones or other places if you are boycotting Amazon!) They also make travel journals, film journals, food journals etc.!

  • Box of yummy things
For mamas with a sweet tooth this Sweet Sampler box, £16, from Ms Cupcake contains 2 cookies, 2 cookie sandwiches and 2 squares selected from whichever flavours are fresh in the bakery that day.  YUM! 

Budget £20 - £30

  • Bunch of flowers
A total classic Mother's Day present! Try to find local, seasonal, UK field-grown, preferably organic flowers.

  • Something from Lush!
I love the 'Mum' gift, which costs £28.95, as it contains my new favourites the Secret Garden ballistic, Mum bubble wand and Rose bubble bar, alongside the amazing, healing Dream Cream moisturiser.

  • Screen printed sweatshirt
The T shirts and sweatshirts from Lost Shapes are the best presents for any occasion at all! They're hand screen-printed on 100% organic, environmentally-friendly, fairly-traded cotton, so are a guilt-free buy.  They feel so soft and I love the designs.  I have this 'Another Nice Day' sweatshirt, which was £26 and I love it.

Budget £30-£50

  • A Framed Papercut

How lovely is this handmade, framed papercut, (£40 from Etsy)?! It is just perfect.  No more words!

  • Spa day with a massage (including babysitting!)
One thing everyone needs but mothers don't always have the time for is relaxation, so a spa day is a really lovely present.  If you're a daughter buying a present for your own mother maybe you could go together for a bonding day? Or if you're a partner buying a present for a new mummy, make sure you arrange babysitting and bear in mind that if she's breastfeeding she might not be able to leave the baby for more than a few hours, so plan around this!  If you're in the south west of England I'd highly recommend the Relaxation Centre in Clifton, it is a really peaceful little oasis in the middle of the city.  There are two hot tubs, two saunas, a steam room, a plunge pool and a relaxation room where you can have a cup of tea and a teacake!  I'd also really recommend the Lush Spas.  There are 6 around the UK, and they are English-themed, so feel really cosy and homely, and the treatments are completely amazing.

  • Fingerprint Jewellery
One of my favourite presents I've ever received is a silver necklace engraved with Eric's name and date of birth, and printed with Eric's handprints (mine was from Fingerprint Jewellery).  I treasure it and wear it every day, so I really would recommend this as a gift. 

I hope this gives you some ideas! Do you have any other recommendations? Let me know in the comments...

Technology Tickets

Something we've been trying out lately are Technology Tickets.  We went through a phase where Eric only wanted to watch films...all day long.  Film after film after film.  The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends no more than one to two hours a day of educational, non-violent programs for pre-school-age children, so we wanted to make sure Eric wasn't watching more than this.  We want films to be enjoyed as a small part of his wider experiences like playing outside, building things, cooking, playing board games, reading, going for walks, playing imaginary games, playing hide and seek, going to the park, etc.! We didn't want him to just be watching TV!

As a way to quantify the amount he was watching and so he would understand this boundary we made Technology Tickets: 10 tickets, given every week on Monday, each ticket worth 30 minutes of screen time.  We decided that 5 hours over the course of the week would be a good amount to still allow Eric to enjoy watching films which he loves, would fit into our family life, and would be within the recommended guidelines.  Eric has autonomy over when to use them, and understands that he gets 10 which have to be swapped in. 

When they are spent we hang them up on a hook in  the kitchen.  We don't take them away as a punishment or add any as a reward.  We really enjoyed designing and making them together and Eric and I each have our favourite ones! So far they're working really well for us and have created a much better balance.

Great Adventure # 6

We took advantage of the amazing weather today and headed out to explore an area we haven't been to before called Cothelstone, in the Quantock hills.  It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day and there were lots of other families, couples and dogs out walking, so there was a nice, friendly atmosphere.  Firstly we played a bit of rugby as we were walking along, and then we found some big sticks to use for walking sticks.  This soon descended into a game of 'lightsaber fighting'.

The path forked and Eric decided he wanted to go left rather than follow the  main path, and we found a path through the woods.  Alex received a phone call so Eric wanted to play hide and seek with me for a while.
We were looking for signs of spring, and found some gorse flowering.  It smells beautiful - like coconut!
Our path turned really muddy which made Eric happy.  Then we went through the woods to rejoin the main path and admired the amazing view over the hills. 
Eric insisted on a carry from Alex, but it was just a ruse to steal Alex's sunglasses and he immediately got down and ran off with them! He loves playing tricks at the moment.
The path forked again and Eric was really excited to find the arrows pointing which way you can go.  He chose to go left again, which would take us up to the top of the hill.  The surroundings got more rugged and Eric decided to fill his pockets with a 'collection of special stones'.  We sat and had a little rest to enjoy the sunshine and Eric counted and arranged his stones. 
We also lay on our backs and saw that the moon was in the sky as well as the sun!
We decided to carry on up to the top of the hill and were really, really excited to see a herd of wild ponies.  They stayed near us for a while, galloping around, and came really close to us.  It was amazing.
We found a pool of water which Eric wanted to paddle in, but as it was quite deep we asked him to check the depth with one of the walking sticks.  He found that really fun and that became the game. 
We were nearly at the top, but Eric was getting a bit tired so we decided to save something for next time and we came back down the hill. 
On the way down we climbed some trees.
We went home and had tea and cinnamon doughnuts in the garden, then a hot, bubbly bath and our favourite dinner (which Eric ate all of - a first!)  It was such a perfect day.