Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Help create a New Sofia the First Story on Twitter and win with #SofiatheFirst

To celebrate the launch of the brand new LeapReader junior  Sofia the First book, LeapFrog are asking you to help create a brand new Sofia the First story on Twitter.  This will take place tomorrow (Thursday April 24th) and LeapFrog will be giving a LeapReader Junior and LeapFrog' s new Sofia the First book to the best story tweet.    

Getting involved couldn't be easier, simply Tweet a line using the hashtag #SofiatheFirst and @ tag a friend to continue the story. 

What will your story be?   Erin and I will be starting our own #SofiatheFirst story over on twitter (@welshmumof3boys) and will then be asking one of my followers to continue the story.  

Each person must use the hashtag #SofiatheFirst and @ tag someone to continue the story.  

The winner of the LeapReader Junior and LeapFrog Sofia the First book will be announced on Friday 25th April by LeapFrog (UK) @LeapFrog_UK 

Be sure to join the fun on Twitter and follow the hashtag #SofiatheFirst 

Where or What will Sofia the First do....


Monday, 21 April 2014

Legoland Windsor - fun for all the family

Last Sunday we were lucky enough to be invited to the opening of Pirate Shores with it's new features.  Sadly castaway camp was not ready yet but we still had access to the Jolly Rocker and Knights Kingdom.  Plus lots of pirate fun along the way.  

We arrived at 8.30am to check in and were greeted by some friendly faces.  We were given maps of the resort and wrist bands to wear.  Then we were ushered through the gates to wait near the shops until everyone arrived.  This gave us the opportunity to have a chat with others that were there and get our bearings.  Once everyone had arrived we were told to follow the skull and crossbones which would lead us to our destination.  The boys loved following the trail which lead to Pirate Shores.  There we were greeted by some Pirates who welcomed us and handed out pirate eye patches to the children with drinks bottles.  Then it was time to enjoy the rides that had been opened to us.  The older two boys and dad of 3 headed straight for the Jolly Rocker while I watched with the younger two.  They came off with big smiles on their faces and eager to try out more rides.  So headed over to the Knights Kingdom to find some more rides, I have to say it was lovely being able to get on a few rides before the public came into the park.  I'm not one for roller coasters but to Rowan wanted to go on one so agreeing I took the boys on the small one while dad of 3 waited with Erin, I have to admit it really was quite good fun.  Next Dad of 3 and the older two wanted to try the Dragon, a bigger, faster roller coasterSo I took the younger two to the viewing platform to watch.  

By the time we had been on rides six or seven times we noticed members of the public had arrived in the park, it was kind of like a wave of people descending making their way to the rides.  We stopped to get a drink and decide where to head next.  We worked our way around the various areas with dad of 3 and myself taking it in turns to go on rides with the boys.  

As we walked around there were lots of Lego models to be seen both Incorporated into rides but also throughout the different areas.  The detail in them was fantastic and they looked so life like.  Walking through Mini land was fun trying to spot the landmarks we recognised and gave the opportunity to take a break from rides for half an hour or so.  

By midday we realised that Erin had yet to go on a ride and although we were unsure how she would react we decided it was time to find something for her to do so we headed to Duplo Valley were the rides are geared to children aged three and under.  They were also ideal for Rowan who was delighted to drive the train on one of the rides.  Erin seemed to really enjoy the few rides she went on especially Storybook Brook which she went on three times!  

The older boys were keen to have a go at the driving school and thoroughly enjoyed this experience.  It was quite funny watching them drive around in the cars, Luc showed he knew he had to keep to one side of the road and stop at traffic lights etc while Trystan wanted to make sure he covered the whole area and although was careful was a bit more hap hazard about the course he took.  

One of my favourite rides was Atlantis, we were all able to enjoy this one as a family and was a very calm ride compared to some of the others.  Erin's face when she spotted the fish was lovely.  I could have stayed on Atlantis for longer as it seemed to be over too soon.  

We had lunch from one of the burger bars and took it out into the sunshine to enjoy before heading off to enjoy yet more rides.  We were so lucky with the weather that day, the sun shone and it was quite warm.  The boys were upset that we wouldn't let them enjoy the water area in Duplo Valley despite having their costumes with us.  But I didn't feel it was that warm and was worried about Rowan's asthma playing up.  So promised them that we would plan a return trip when the weather was warmer so they could enjoy the water. 

There is so much to see and do in Legoland that even after we had spent seven hours in the park there was still things we had not seen and rides we had not been on.  Making it quite easy to visit the park over two days if you have the opportunity.  We were lucky to be given fast track entry for the rides and they certainly meant we didn't have to queue for any longer than twenty minutes which on days that are extremely busy like the one we visited on it makes things so much better.  

Our top tips for enjoying Legoland Windsor - 

1. Arrive early so you can park and be ready to get your tickets at 10am
2. If you can afford it get Qbots (fast track entry) for the rides, they are well worth the price and will ensure you can enjoy lots of rides.
3. Take a picnic, I like the fact that Legoland allows you to take picnics with you.
4. Take your swimming costumes to enjoy Duplo Valley 
5. Try to plan in advance which rides you want to get on, head to those at the far end of the park and work your way towards the entrance as the majority of visitors will work the other way around.  

We had a fantastic day at Legoland Windsor, there was something for all the family and we would love to go back and see those bits we didn't have the chance to this time.   

Disclaimer - We were given tickets to Legoland as part of the event we were invited too however the content of this post is 100% my own.  

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Silent Sunday

Revisting a favourite place - Dyffryn Gardens

When myself and dad of 3 bought our first home together it was in the South Wales Valleys some twenty minutes from Cardiff.  It was close to dad of 3's family, his work and a close commute for me to get to university.  Then when I qualified I worked for the local authorities surrounding us.  Although we spent so time visiting local places it tended to be the cinema, restaurants and shops but when our eldest two sons arrived things changed.  Don't get me wrong I've always enjoyed open spaces, the sea, parks etc but they all took on a new meaning for us when the boys arrived.  

Weekends were spent exploring the local area to find family friendly places that we could enjoy as a family.  I can't remember how we discovered Dyffryn Gardens but I remember feeling we had discovered somewhere special.  Somewhere that the boys could run, ride, climb trees and somewhere that was frozen in time

Our first visit was some nine years ago now but I still remember driving down the track not quite sure if we were in the right place.  I think there was a little hut/shed to one side of the parking area which was manned by the Friends of Dyffryn Gardens.  A group of people who were trying to save Dyffryn and it's treasures.  We paid a nominal fee and continued along the path.  Stopping quite suddenly when this big stately house came into sight.  I remember looking at Dad of 3 and exchanging looks and smiling.  We continued around the back of the house taking in the vast gardens.  Even back then the gardens where breath taking,  I remember thinking where to start.  There was a huge lawn set out into different sections, one with a fountain and a water feature running almost the whole length of it. 

Dyffryn Gardens quickly became a favourite place to visit, taking back our parents and trikes etc on numerous visits.  Each time we discovered more of what Dyffryn had to offer.  Many conversations were had about how we would love to go inside the house and discover it's secrets and that we hoped one day Dyffryn Gardens would be saved.  

We moved away from the area and to West Wales when Trystan was 18 months old.  The weekend before we moved was the last time we visited Dyffryn.  Several times over the last seven years we have said we must visit Dyffryn Gardens again but we have never managed it.   I discovered last year that Dyffryn Gardens was now in the care of the National Trust, I can't tell you how delighted I was.  

Sadly the opportunity never arose to visit last year but I was determined we would visit soon.  So on Wednesday when I took the children to Cardiff along with my mum I knew it would be an opportunity to go.  I packed a picnic, the sun was shining and I for one was excited.  My mum was attending a meeting in Cardiff while I was taking the children to Dr Who's Monster Day out in Cardiff Bay with one of my brother in laws.  The night before I had told my mum that I was planning to head to Dyffryn Gardens for our picnic.  

As is often the way best made plans don't always run to plan, my mums meeting over ran which meant we lost an hour of the time I had hoped to spend at Dyffryn.  Undeterred I got everyone in the car and made our way towards our destination.  The car park was packed when we arrived and everyone was starving so we unloaded our picnic and headed on to the grass just behind the parking area.  There was now a fantastic looking children's play area, cafe and visitors centre where the old hut/shed had once stood, already I could tell Dyffryn had been brought back to life and was being enjoyed by so many people.  

Checking the time after we had eaten I realised that we would need to be back on the M4 within half an hour if we were to avoid the rush hour traffic so our time was limited.  We all need the toilet so we put the picnic things back in the car and headed to the new toilet block.  My mum then knowing how much I wanted to go inside bought us all an ice cream and we paid and headed through the gates.  The children were all excited, the older two only had vague memories of our visits here and where eager to run on ahead.  

Seeing the house open and live breathed into it was lovely, I was just sad that we would be unable to go inside on this occasion.  We rounded the corner into the grounds behind the house to be greeted by people enjoying the sun and surroundings, a game of croquet on the lawns ( something I remembered always been set out) and others enjoying the gardens.  It was wonderful to see so many enjoying themselves and the gardens.  We had enough time to walk across the back of the house, along the path down the length of the first lawn before we had to head back to the car.  None of us wanted to leave, I wanted to explore again and look inside the house but I knew if we didn't head home now we faced rush hour traffic and potentially a very long journey home.  I promised the boys we would be back soon, our brief visit had reminded me of how much I love Dyffryn Gardens.  So now I need to work out when we can return, it will have to be soon and several hours will be needed to explore this hidden gem. 


Saturday, 19 April 2014

Country Kids - A morning in the sun, laughter, fun, tears and lambs

National Trust - Llanerchaeron

On Tuesday morning I decided we would head out for the morning.  I had to collect something from Aberaeron and thought it would be the perfect excuse to call in at the near by Llanerchaeron, a National Trust property. I made a picnic and once the little one I had for the day arrived we all got in the car to make the thirty minute journey to Aberaeron.  Thankfully I was able to pick up my package without trouble and within a few minutes we were making our way towards Llanerchaeron.  

There are times when I think my idea's are mad and it would be far easier to stay at home and today was one of those days.  Heading out for a picnic with five children, two of which weren't keen on going out to start with really could only spell one thing right?!  The thing is I'm of the frame of mind that if the sun is shining which is was, you have to give things a go, if it ends in disaster you learn from it, if its successful then fantastic, the children have had a great experience and learnt new things hopefully.  I really hoped I wouldn't regret this outing. 

Anyway arriving at Llanerchaeron we could see straight away that it was busy.  I laid down some ground rules with the boys, the standard, no running, no shouting, don't pick flowers etc I decided to take the single buggy with us, it would come in handy for the picnic even if one of the younger two didn't use it.  I had a family day pass which would give us all entry into so we headed over to the reception building.  Handing over the pass to the gentleman at the desk we then made our way through the door to head over the lane into the grounds.  By this time the boys were all excited and the younger two picking up on the boys excitement were giggling away.  

We had been told that there would be the opportunity to feed some lambs in an hours time and I had already decided heading into the house with the five children would not be a good idea so I asked the older boys to work out the way to the lake.  Trystan and Luc quickly spotted the signs pointing in the direction of the lake and we set off.  Luc pushing the buggy with the picnic in it while I walked along with the younger two, both enjoying the fresh air and the flowers around us.  There were a few other people along the path also enjoying the grounds and the sun.  

Carpet of Daffodils
We rounded a corner to walk along one of the outer walls of the walled garden and were faced with a carpet of daffodils.  They looked lovely in the sunshine and the children quickly wanted to smell them.  After five minutes we continued along the path with Rowan and Trystan slightly a head of the rest of us.  Suddenly Trystan called that he had found the lake, I told them to stay away from the water.  

As I emerged from the path with the younger two and Luc I could see Trystan and Rowan watching the ducks on the lake.  Erin spotted them too and squealed with delight pointing at them.  We watched the ducks and ducklings for five minutes before we continued on the path around the lake. 

There were lots of interesting looking trees that the boys immediately wanted to climb and explore.  They found one that they could actually stand inside and were quick to take it in turns doing just that.  Not wanting to be left out Erin was keen to join in and with a little help from Trystan managed it.  The little one I was looking after was happy to watch not wanting to venture over himself.  

Tree climbing fun
Look we can climb inside
We continued a little further until we came to a bench, the perfect spot for lunch.  So I set about handing out sandwiches.  It was so peaceful and although I had had to tell the Trystan and Rowan not to wonder off and not to get too close to the water, so far all was well.  

Rowan and Trystan enjoyed their sandwiches sat near the edge of the lake with an inquisitive duck coming to see what they were doing.  While I sat on the bench with the younger two and Luc.  After twenty minutes I realised there was only fifteen minutes until the lamb feeding so I asked the boys if they wanted to head over.  We packed up our things and started along the path again.  I knew I would have to stop and change nappies once we came across the toilets too and the younger two were getting tired.  

Without warning Trystan and Rowan decided now was a fantastic time to start messing around!  The two younger ones started to get tearful, Erin refused to go in the buggy and she didn't want her little friend to use it either but he didn't want to walk any further!  So somehow I managed to half carry half walk the two little ones along the path while Luc pushed the pushchair and Rowan and Trystan disappeared from sight! Goodness knows what anyone passing us thought!  I was worried about where the two boys had disappeared off too although they knew we were headed for the farm yard.  Luc bless him tried to help calm the younger two down but without much success.  

Somehow we reached the toilets and after nappy changes peace was restored.  Rowan and Trystan appeared from the bushes, apparently they were hiding!  I reiterated that they needed to listen and not run off.  With that we set off again towards the farm yard where we saw a group gathered.  We joined the group and headed into one of the buildings were we found some lambs and piglets.  The wardens were preparing bottles of milk to feed the lambs with.  Luc joined the other children on the bales of straw ready to have his turn while I showed the younger two the animals.  Rowan and Trystan decided they didn't want to wait and went off to investigate a model cow at the other end of the building.   

Rowan though quickly spotted Luc feeding a lamb and came to join him for a turn.  Erin was fascinated and kept telling me 'baby' pointing to the lambs.  It was quiet busy and it was all suddenly too much for Erin's little friend and he wanted to leave the building when a lamb came to say hi!  By this stage Trystan had also managed to fed a lamb so I quickly ushered my lot out of the building.  
Feeding the lambs

I explained to the boys that the younger two were tired and it was time to head home.  Trystan and Rowan wanted to stay longer and protested all the way back to the car.  Car loaded we set off, the two boys still unhappy about leaving!  Almost as soon as we left the car park the younger two children were fast asleep and I told Trystan and Rowan to use the journey home to think about their behaviour.  

The first half of the trip had gone well and everyone had enjoyed, sadly the second half had not gone well and I was left feeling disappointed in Rowan and Trystan's behaviour.  I don't think I was asking to much from them.  The rest of the day passed uneventfully although I felt like I had failed somehow, maybe I shouldn't have attempted a trip out with five children on my own, had I over stretched myself.  I don't think I had, for what ever reason Trystan had decided not to behave and Rowan had followed his brothers lead.  It's something that we've experienced off and on for a while now with Trystan but then why should everyone else miss out because he can't behave!  What would you have done? 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Project 365 - week 16.

The first week of the Easter holidays is drawing to a close.  It's been a week full of laughter, fun, new experiences and the odd tear along the way.  The sun has shone all week and has lightened everyone's spirits which has helped the long car journeys we have done again this week.  Dad of 3 and myself are shattered and so are the children now but we now enjoying a couple of relatively quiet days compared to the last three weeks.  Here's what we have been up to.

Sunday 13th April - 

We were very lucky to be invited along to Legoland for the opening of Pirate Shores, sadly it was complete but we had an absolutely fantastic day enjoying the rides and I even got to see the lovely Mummybird  

Monday 14th April - 

I can't believe how grown up my eldest is starting to look recently.  I noticed today that he seem to have shot up too which probably means new clothes will be needed very soon.

Tuesday 15th April - 

We braved a trip to one of the local National Trust properties today, me and five children, I really don't know why I thought it was a good idea!  I love this photograph of Trystan and Rowan though, it was taken before tantrums and tears kicked in!  

Wednesday 16th April - 

A trip to Cardiff provided us with the perfect opportunity to stop at another National Trust property.  It's somewhere we spent a lot of time at with the older two when we lived in South Wales and before the National Trust took over.  We only had twenty minutes after stopping for a picnic but it reminded me how much I love the place and that we really need to go and spend a day exploring it very soon.  

Thursday 17th April - 

A couple of weeks ago I made the decision to try Bento lunches with the younger two.  Rowan especially is a grazer and often doesn't eat much.  But in the three weeks or so since starting to make Bento lunches I've seen an improvement.  I've also been making them for Erin and one of my minded children and they two have been enjoying them.  Today's lunch was ham Rabbits and Teddy Bears, Teddy Bear cheddar, mini cocktail sausages and mini scotch eggs.

Friday 18th April - 

We've had a relatively quiet day today, a leisurely morning with a trip to our local B and Q for supplies to make a start on the chicken enclosure.  Dad of 3 constructed a gate and stained the gate and posts ready to start work tomorrow.  I did the ironing and then enjoyed cuddles with Erin while I caught up with the news.  

Saturday 19th April - 

Today has seen dad of 3 working on the chicken enclosure while I did some baking.  I made two coffee loafs, two lemon drizzle and one chocolate loaf.  Two of which were then delivered to my parents much to my dad's delight.  In the meantime Dad of 3 dug out eight holes and concreted posts in place.  He also completed the gate with chicken wire.  Fingers crossed the concrete hardens over night so we can run the chicken wire along the posts.    

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Monday, 14 April 2014

Why should you adopt an animal from a Rescue Shelter

If you’re thinking about getting a pet for your family, you’ve most likely started to research pets that are available in your area on various selling sites like Gumtree and Preloved. However, with an estimated 55,000 pets that needed homes and were under the care of the RSCPA in 2012, it’s obvious to see that there are so many pets in rescue centres that need our help.

What is a rescue shelter?
A rescue shelter – also known as pet homes or rescue centres – refers to a place where stray, abandoned or unwanted animals are looked after by the workers or volunteers. Depending on the type of shelter, there can be animals of all species, ages, backgrounds and temperaments. Some of the pets in homes may have suffered serious abuse or neglect. Others may have been given up because their families could no longer adequately care for them anymore.
All good rescue shelters will look after their animals and work with them to improve their heath and behaviour, and claim to never rehome an animal that isn’t ready to leave yet.

What can you expect from an animal in a rescue shelter?
There are many concerns people have when it comes to heading to a rescue shelter to get a new pet, and most of them are myths or very outdated. As mentioned above, animals in competent, modern shelters will be treated to the highest standards and will be nurtured in terms of their health and happiness. Therefore the idea that all animals in adoption homes are aggressive and untamed is just not accurate anymore.
Whilst it’s impossible to state that all of the animals will be exceptionally well behaved and healthy, it’s important to remember everything they’ve been through and to take these things into account before dismissing them. They may have been subject to horrific cruelty, or, at the very least, may have been moved around a lot.
What are the true advantages of adopting a pet from a shelter?
When you adopt an animal from a rescue shelter, you are essentially saving a life. There are more animals than homes and overpopulation is a common problem in shelters. To tackle this, some have no choice than to put the animals to sleep (though this is becoming rarer). Also, the animals in shelters are much more likely to have been neutered to eliminate the chance of them being able to reproduce into an already over-crowded world.
Additionally, they will give you a good idea about the animal’s temperament and background which you aren’t likely to get from a breeder (or an honest idea, at least). They will have been treated with the best veterinary supplies at and other well respected animal care product manufacturers.
Shelters also often are a much cheaper way of obtaining a pet, as pet shops and independent breeders can charge as much as they like and they will often want to make a large profit. Most shelters generally just ask for a donation to cover things like admin fees and one or two of their vaccinations. 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Project 365 - week 15

This week has been a long week, the boys were still on a high after our trip to the Warner Bros Studio Tour and spending time with their cousins.  It was the last week of term too for the boys and it was really showing, they've all been snappy, tired and generally not wanted to do much including not wanting to get up in the mornings.  So when 2pm yesterday (Friday) arrived they were so relieved to be starting the Easter Holidays.  Here's our week -

Sunday 6th April - 

After a fantastic week and knowing we had another busy week ahead I took some time to catch up with the weather forecast for this coming week. Over the years I have found that the forecast featured on Country file is the most reliable and I actually enjoy watching Country file too surprisingly.  It's kind of a mark that the previous week is ending and a new one is arriving in a way in our house, a sign it's bedtime on a Sunday night too for the children.  

Monday 7th April - 

I spent the day catching up on housework and preparing things for the next few days.  Erin was happy to spend some quiet time helping me off and on but also spent a lot of time playing with her Hello Kitty teddy that my aunt had knitted her for her birthday.  

 Tuesday 8th April - 

 We're all loving the lighter evenings this week and the dry weather is a bonus.  Even the chickens are enjoying being out in the garden for longer in the day.

Wednesday 9th April - 

 This afternoon after school the older two boys built a rocket.  When they came to launch it in the gardens the chickens couldn't resist coming and joining in the action.

Thursday 10th April - 

The last few afternoons I've noticed that Kitty has been looking for somewhere new to nap.  While the little ones were napping this afternoon I discovered she'd found her new spot in the corner next to the front door but also on top of dad of 3's trainers and sleepers! maybe she misses him during the day!

Friday 11th April -

This morning during breakfast Rowan was talking about shapes and how you can make shapes.  After he finished his toast he made a triangle out of his crusts!  

Saturday 12th April - 

Grandma came to house sit for us this afternoon and brought easter eggs for the children.  They really weren't impressed to be leaving them behind!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky