11 Years in Our House – It needs some TLC

My house isn’t perfect. I’d love it to be bigger and not have pebble dash on the outside, but the state of the uk economy means that we can’t afford to move from our 1960’s semi detached house. That’s ok really – we have lovely neighbours, my daughter can walk to school, it’s close to bus stops and to a convenience shop with a post office. We have now been here for 11 years and when we moved in we did quite a few things to the house. Now, through wear and tear, things need updating and changing. You can’t live in a house for that long and not do some repairing and updating really.

Some of the things are big projects – adding a downstairs toilet and changing it from a lounge dining room to a kitchen dining room. Other things less so – updating the front garden, making a crafting area and replacing the family bathroom.

The bathroom got done a few months ago and we love it. Our plumber is a perfectionist, and this has resulted in a great bathroom. Bathroom

Before and After

We could t make it any bigger, but it is more practical and feels bigger.

The front garden is more or less planned, so we should get started on that soon, but we might wait till spring time now.

It’s lovely to see your house have some up to date improvements and get to use the space better.

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Toys and Gifts for 6 Year olds

My daughter has just had her 6th birthday. Which meant she had a party for around 30 of her friends, and resulted in lots of gifts, plus she got gifts from us and her wider family. This is very very kind of people, but it does lead to an excess of things. It does also mean that I can write this piece.

LOL Surprise Dolls

I should say that my daughter loves being like all the other girls in her class and following the latest trends, which at this point seems to be these dolls. LOL Surprise Doll

LOL Surprise Doll

You unwrap them to reveal parts of the set clothes, bottle, shoes etc with the doll in the middle. The plastic ball is also to store and carry the doll in.

The original was around £60 when it came out, but they now make smaller, collectible ones for £5.99, £10.99 and £29.99.

From my perspective, ugly plastic tat. From hers and her friends, the best thing ever!

Barbie Rainbow Lights Mermaid

Barbie, Dreamtopia, Barbie Rainbow Lights Mermaid, Barbie Mermaid
Barbie Rainbow Lights Mermaid Doll

This is Barbie, but not as you know her! You can’t dress her up and play with her. What you can do though is add her mermaid tail, swim her in water and watch her tail light up.

This is great fun to play in a sink of water or as a more grown up bath toy.

My daughter asked for this after we saw it last year in an aquarium gift shop. I can’t fault her for still wanting it over a year later.

Build a Bear

There is something magical about visiting a Build a Bear workshop for a child. Mine loves the place. The staff in the shops are both helpful and lovely with the children. The bears aren’t too expensive, it’s the accessories that add up – these are definitely worth asking family for as birthday or Xmas gifts or getting them to save pocket money up for.

That said her present from us this year was a Build a Bear Fairy, including light up wings and dress.

Having been a few times, over a few years, I would say they are best from 5 years onwards, or rather this is the age when the bears are getting most played with.

They are also doing a birthday bear where you just pay the age of the child. If you go on your birthday to get it, the staff will sing happy birthday to you and give you a happy birthday hat too. This was loved by my daughter.

Galt Rainbow Science Set

My daughter became interested in science this summer, and my husband did a few experiments with her that she loved. This got me thinking about birthday presents for her. I spotted that Galt, a British company, make various science sets for children and some can be used by 6+ year olds. Perfect, I thought. The rainbow one looked like something she would enjoy, so I asked her aunty if she could get this for her.

Galt Rainbow Lab, Science for kids, 6+years oldGalt Rainbow Lab

We have already had this out and she spent a good hour doing “experiments”. We only stopped as we needed to leave the crystals, but we did then keep going back to see how they had changed. Fascinating for all us.

Arts and Crafts

My daughter is a big arts and crafts fan. Whether it’s drawing, making things with play doh, Hama beads, painting, making things. She will often be found sitting at our table doing something arts and crafty.

She can now indulge her favourite thing for months on end with all the craft kits that she received as presents. Many were from Galt – First Pottery, Flower Lights, Cute Charms, and Felt Friends. Also, she got a mould and paint fairies, a floral crown to make, colour a rucksack, and Unicorn scratching art.

All are great for 6 year olds. Some may need more parental help than others, but that’s fine, it’s lovely to do things together. We will put them away and get them out on rainy and chilled out days.

Stationery

My child likes drawing and writing, so notebooks, art pads and pens are a winner for her. They can look so pretty too.

One gift was a lockable journal from Smiggle. This she adores. Wrtiting in it and telling me “no peeky peeky”. It has a hiding place too.

Board Games

One of her favourite activities is playing board games. There are lots that she likes.

Two new ones that she got and that are winners have been:

Pass the Pigs. A great handbag game for restaurants and quick games in the morning.

Bugs in the Kitchen. A tactical game to get the bug in to your corner.

I will do a separate post on board games, as there are too many to write about here.

LEGO

Loved by most kids, my daughter has a slight love of it and certainly likes going in to their shop and playing with whatever is out. She wouldn’t ask for LEGO as a gift though, but I know lots of 6 year olds who would.

We got her a set of the new Power Puff GIrls LEGO, as she likes watching them on you tube. She put it to one side when she received it on her birthday and didn’t show any real love for it. Roll forward a few weeks, we took it with us to a trip to her grandparents house and she sat for an hour happily building it and has played with it since.

LEGO, LEGO powerpuff GIrls, powerpuff GIrls, LEGO setsLEGO Powetpuff GIrls

She is a LEGO people person and making sets. Only occasionally will she sit and make random things from our LEGO create boxes.

You can’t not like LEGO really. It’s robust and sparks imagination. My husband and I still like it now, so are happy to join in with her.

Dolls

She didn’t get any new traditional dolls for her birthday, but dolls that she still has are still played with. Dressing, feeding, carrying in a toy baby carrier that we have. I can see how this would be a good present still for a six year old.

Books

You can never go wrong wrong with good books as a present. Not instantly loved by a 6 year old, but always enjoyed. At 6 picture books are still good and she reads some of it with us now, but we are transitioning to novels. We have read Roald Dahl books and Kes Grey, “The Trouble With Daisy” series. Our next ones to read will be Enid Blyton ones.

Jigsaw Puzzles

We bought her a new 150 piece jigsaw puzzle, knowing that she has a love/hate relationship with these. She didn’t look ecstatic when she opened this gift.

Jigsaw, orchard tits, orchard toys jigsaw

Orchard Toys 150 Piece Jigsaw

We tackled this over two days and once it took shape, she got her self in to doing it and was very proud of her achievement (and did say”phew!” as well). We adults enjoyed helping her with this too, but then we quite like jigsaws.

As usual, I was impressed with the quality and design of this Orchard Toy product. We have several games and jigsaws by this company.

It was good to be able to see places that we had been to and where we live on the map.

I hope this list has given you some ideas and inspiration for gift buying for a 6 year old. There are such a lot of things out there that you can get and will really give them pleasure, both by themselves and as part of family time.

The Princess and The Giant – Outdoor Theatre Review

Earlier this year I saw that Harewood House was showing a children’s musical – “The Princess and The Giant” performed by Folksy Theatre. It was an outdoor theatre production, and so I had vision of sitting in the sunshine over the bank holiday weekend, with a picnic and watching this play.

Folksy Theatre, The Princess and The Giant

The play was based on a book of the same name and by Caryl Hart. I didn’t know the story, but decided to book it as we all like going to the theatre and the outdoor experience wold be an added bonus.

In the meantime, I bought the book and both my daughter and I loved it. It’s a modern take on these kind of stories, with the Princess being brave and trying to find out why the Giant is so upset and angry. It was also a book suitable for a 5 year old. Phew!

The day of the play arrived and the heavens opened. As the day went on, I wanted to sit on the soggy grass, getting rained on whilst watching a play less and less. Luckily, in the afternoon, Harewood House took the decision to move the theatre in to the Church. We were just recommended to wrap up warm and bring a cushion along.

It all worked out well in the end. The book translated well in to an hour long children’s musical. The actors adapted to their change of venue too. The songs were catchy enough for the children and they all enjoyed having some actions and little bits to join in with. The Giant puppet was a triumph. We adults enjoyed ourselves too. The story worked well being turned in to a 1 hour long musical and each actor played their parts and instruments very well indeed.

Quote from my 5 year old daughter “It was Lovely.” When asked if there was a best bit, she said “All of it was the best bit. ”

Harewood House, Harewood House Church, The Princess and The Giant

Of course our daughter wanted a photo with “Sophie” at the end.

I’d highly recommend this play, if it tours near to you. I’d say that it would work well for 3-6 year olds. I will be looking out for what Folksy Theatre are doing next year.

Libraries Summer Reading Challenge Review

This year, as my daughter can “read” (she’s completed reception class) I thought that we could try the libraries reading challenge, in the hope that it would encourage her to keep reading over the summer.

The theme for this year has been The Beano and called “Mischief Makers Summer Reading Challenge”. I may have been more excited by this theming, as I used to love reading The Beano comic.

Mischief Makers Reading Challenge, libraries, children reading, library books, Leeds libraries

It started well. On our first trip to our local Library in Leeds just after school broke up, we signed up. This began with a find The Beano characters that were hiding around the library and a leaflet where you could write the 6 books that you read and rate them. It also had stickers to collect to add to a Beano Town picture – this also taught her about grid references.

Off we went to choose our library books to read. They had a good selection of early readers to choose from, I chose some appropriate ones, whilst she looked at the picture books and chose some for bedtime stories. I still wasn’t sure how keen she would be to read them, especially as I had picked them.

Never fear over the next few weeks she happily read them and sometimes it wasn’t the early reader book that she read but one of the other books that we had taken out for me or my husband to read to her. She also was happy with the concept of putting a book mark in on the longer books.

She also enjoyed writing what she had read in the leaflet, giving them a rating (everyone got 3 stars!) and going back to get more stickers.

Best of all, today she received her certificate for reading 6 books this summer and has proudly put it up on her bedroom wall.

I would recommend giving this a try for your children each summer. You might find that the thought of collecting stickers and getting a certificate is just the encouragement that they need to keep reading. Plus, they get to choose what to read, unlike school. It’s also lovely to use your local library and expand your choice of books that you read.

This summer my daughter read:

  1. Shark in the Dark by Nick Sharratt
  1. Snow White by Maggy Moore
  1. The Bunk Bed by Jackie Walter and Chris Borges
  1. Flat Stanley on Ice by Lori Haskin Houran and Jon Mitchell
  1. Scraps Best Stick by Sue Graves
  1. In My Heart by Jo Witek

Childs Farm Moisturiser

The best way to control Eczema is to use an emollient – moisturiser to you and I! The tricky bit is finding a product that works for you, so that you don’t have resort to using a steroid cream, that thins the skin in the long run. .

Both my husband and I understand Eczema. We have it. Mine is much better since I became an adult, and I had hoped that my daughter would avoid this, after all I breastfed, but alas no. She suffers around her mouth, on her torso and hands. What I thought was a rash round her mouth, turned out to be Eczema – it looks different to the eczema I have had for years. When the allergy consultant, pointed this out – we were at the appointment for something else, I was a little surprised. “Do you have a moisturiser?” She asked. “Yes” I replied “Aveeno” We had been perscibed some, when my daughter was younger for a patch of Eczema on her legs.

Well Aveeno became one in a line we tried, as despite Aveeno being a Drs choice to prescribe for Eczema, and a lot of people saying positive things about it, my daughter had a reaction to it, alongside each subsequent one the dr prescribed. I even tried a Kiehl’s sample of a children’s moisturiser – reaction.

Back to the GP’s we went. A request for another allergy appointment was sent off. Then a few months later (it takes 6 months to get an allergy appointment in Leeds). It said, that she is likely to be a preservative allergy and to try an ointment based emollient. We did. I hated it – greasy hair, greasy clothes. However, hard I tried, I couldn’t stop the grease effect. I do appreciate the brilliance of ointments, after all, as a teenager an ointment steroid was the only one that worked for me.

I went looking again for moisturisers. I tried Lush’s Dream Cream. The one with out the preservative. This has lots of great reviews from eczema sufferers. I use it and also think it’s great. She reacted! Then I read great reviews about Childs Farm Moisturiser. By this stage, I just had to try it. The grease was really frustrating me!We already used Child Farms’ shampoo, bubble bath and soap. It wasn’t expensive, so was worth dropping in to my shopping basket for a try. To be honest, at this stage I wasn’t very optimistic.

A miracle happened. She doesn’t react to it. It does it’s moisturising job and her eczema has disappeared.

The dermatology dr that saw my daughter this week, could say nothing except, she sees this product a lot now and that it is highly perfumed. If you are perfume sensitive, then this may not be for you. My daughter can cope with perfume.

It’s not expensive, albeit costing me more than the free persecution, but this is a small price to pay. It’s full price is £3.99, you can often find it discounted though.

It’s recently been difficult to get, because of positive news articles. In my eyes, it deserves it’s praise, for being a product that works for some people with eczema, where others haven’t. I now keep a spare bottle in. Since using it, we haven’t needed to use the hydrocortisone cream either.

If you are struggling to find a moisturiser that works on your child or you, it would be worth trying this one.

Running – What’s Happened To Me?


I only put my my new running shoes on at the beginning of May and started run walking with my C25K app, and now I’m running on holiday. I’m doing this partly because I really want to, and partly from fear that a Week missed will set me back. 

Running earlyish in the morning (about 7.45am) is nice. It’s quiteish apart from other runners and walkers, but boy is it hard. Running in the heat has nearly finished me, but I ploughed on and achieved my goals. I had to accept that the heat would make me slower, and there is no point comparing myself to the faster runners that I could see. 

The best things about about holiday running are: the sunshine and blue skies, alongside running in different scenery. This is all followed by a fantastic sense of achievement. You feel so proud of what you have achieved. 

I’m not fast. I think that’s just me, but time will tell as I am relatively new to all this. There is no point comparing myself to others really. We’re all built differently, so how can I properly compare. I just need to make my own sensible goals and see if I can achieve them. 

I’m writing sitting by the pool where we are staying and running isn’t far from my mind (hubby and daughter are off playing on inflatables), I am reading “Your Pace or Mine” by Lisa Jackson. I’m throughly enjoying this book so far. It’s making great holiday reading and is inspiring. 


Next on my list, when I get home is to book two 10K races. Both to keep me going and motivated, but as part of my half marathon training. 

Currently, I haven’t thought beyond 4th Match and “The Big Half”. For now, that is enough. 

Now do I have enough kit? The sales are on………….

Running – It’s Gotten To Me Already 

I am only on week 4 of my couch to 5k training plan (illness has slowed me down a bit), but I have already booked races. 


Not so silly really, it is definately easier to run when you have a goal in sight. The last time I ran, I did this, so that I could raise money for The British Heart Foundation. My dad had, had a heart by pass operation, so when I found out that they were putting on a race locally, I entered with my hubby, trained and ran 5k. The race spurred me on. That time, no running light was flicked on but I continued other fitness that I enjoyed. 

This time and following on from my hubby running 10k’s, I had decided that I would get to 10k and run 10k races. Then I watched “Mind Over Marathon” and was inspired by their stories and effort. When I saw that “The Big Half” was announced, I excitedly texted my hubby suggesting that we enter. I was surprised when he said yes, as 5 days earlier he said entering a Marathon would be madness, and how would I fit training in. I’m not sure that I really want to run a marathon. Certainly not yet. That evening, we entered. It’s a new half marathon by the London marathon organisers, which follows half of the London marathon route. It’s not till March 2018 but gives me the push to keep going with running. 

I should reach being able to run 5k in another 5 weeks, so between then and next March is quite a while. What will I do in between. I’ve already booked the “Big Fun Run” being held in Leeds in August. I’ll be running for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. It’s a 5k run, so I though that was a good start. Then I’m planning to do the “Abbey Dash” in November, a 10k race. I’d like to find another 10k race in Jan / early Feb. 

I’m enjoying running so far. I like the fact that I’m doing it and achieving it, but I am also enjoying the time to myself and listening to my music – although occasionally, I have to fast forward past a children’s song that pops up!

Will I get to a point when I think “I can’t do this”, at the moment I don’t know. I hope not, and I am sure the road to a 13 mile race, won’t be easy. I have colder days to come, when I realise that I won’t want to go running.  Hopefully, I will be spurred on by needing to complete a 13 mile race.  

Running – The start of something?

I’ve been watching as more and more of the people I know have taken up running, many by starting with couch to 5k. I have run before. I trained with my hubby to do a 5k race with him for the British Heart Foundation about 13 years ago. Post this, I have run on a treadmill as part of a gym routine. I’m not a natural runner. I’m not a natural exerciser either, but I need to get fitter and do something that fits in with working, running a home and having a 4 year old. 

My hubby runs. Not regularly, but most years he spends several months training for a 10k race. I am lucky have someone at home for support and advice, although we can’t run together this time round, as someone needs to look after the 4 year old!

A few weeks ago, I made the final decision to go for it. Although eager to get going, I knew that I had to get running shoes first. A bit of online research and asking people who I know run led me to go to a shop that does gait analysis. They said that I over probate, which fits in with being flat footed, so I knew I wasn’t being conned. What I was shocked about, though, was the price of them. I’ve paid £115 for a pair of Saucony Omni 15. I wasn’t expecting to pay more than £60! I had good help and advice from Up and Running, so decided to buy these from them. Knowing what works for me now, I may be able to pick up bargains online next time. As they are good for 500 – 600 miles, that will be in quite a while. 


They took 3 weekends to buy, having tried one pair at home and not liking it, then the shop needed to order a different size in. It’s worth being sure you have bought the right ones though. 

I am lucky enough to already have suitable clothes. Clothes that I had bought for other exercise that I have previously done, but I soon realised that I need 3 outfits for 3 runs. Being a working mum, most of my washing gets done at the weekend. You have to make life as easy as possible and not let something as simple as this be the excuse for not running. 

Next was to choose an app, so that I have a training plan to follow. For me it came down to which one was free, as well as one that was good. I found one by Public Health England on the App Store that looked just the job. It is a 9 week programme, with running 3 days a week, with the days in between as rest days. You get to choose your celebrity trainer – I’ve chosen Jo Whiley to join me on my run. It works well. She motivates you and tells you when to run, when to walk without you having to remember what you need to do and when or keep looking at your watch. 

I have done 3 runs so far, only the beginning but so far I am super proud of myself – for starting and for achieving “runs”. 

I am not necessarily enjoying running yet, but I am enjoying having time to listen to music that is on my phone and the upbeat feeling you get at the end of a session. 

My next decision, is whether to sign up for a race. 

Weleda Skin Food

I read about this in Sali Hughes book “Pretty Iconic” and thought that I should get a tube, especially as it wasn’t too expensive and could be bought at Holland and Barrett. 

I’m not sure that I really knew what I was going to do with this, so after a first try, I put it away. 

Then it’s moment arrived. My hands had got so dry that they had split. I decide to get my tube of Food Skin out of the drawer and use it as hand cream over night. The next day my skin has started to repair itself. I was so impressed with this. I kept using it for a few more days. 

It’s second job, was my legs becoming dry and flaky. Food Skin made them better overnight. 

I now know, that it is the product to have around, when your skin needs rescuing. I’m not sure that I would use it on my face (you can) as it feels rich and a bit greasy. 

It has a medicinal smell about it. Not unpleasant at all but not my favourite smell. It doesn’t put me off from using the product though.

I’m really not sure how I missed this product, as I have used Weleda Calendula Nappy Cream and thought that this was a great product for babies bottoms.  

For those who have not heard of the brand, Weleda is a German company that began in 1921 as a pharmaceutical laboratory, with a medicinal plant garden. Today it is a manufacturer of holistic natural cosmetics. 

Worth a try. Comment below and let me know what you think too. 

Who Said Riding A Bike Was Easy….

….Or not all children are the same. 

We bought our daughter a balance bike when she was 2 years old. Was she interested – no! Then when she was about 2 and 3/4 years old, she decided now was the time to ride. 


(Riding her Frog Balance Bike on The Otley Chevin.)

At 3 years old we started going to lessons with In Gear Cycling on the beautiful Otley Chevin. She had things to learn, and learn she did from Jonny. She stated off as the slowest in the group and nearly a year later she became the fastest. 

She was ready for a bike around June 2016, so after some investigation, we decided to visit Islabikes on our way back from our summer holiday in Devon. After all, they are lightweight aluminum kids bikes, designed to fit a child rider perfectly. All my research said that a lighter bike is easier to learn on. Supposedly, a move from a balance bike to a pedal bike is a doddle. Many just get on and go. 

At our Islabike visit (30 minute session booked in advance), she was measured for the correct bike and taken out on the track to try it. As I had suspected, she did not just get on and go, but we adults liked the bike and decided to buy one. It had to be pink!

Islabike Cnoc 16
(An impressive quality kids bike)

Since we got it, we have tried to get her riding it but she just didn’t get pedaling, so in the summer, I even booked her in for a session with Dave Burns of I want to Ride My Bike. He said that in an hour session, he gets kids riding. Ha ha! Not her, she was one of his very few failures. He uses Islabikes in his sessions. (I would still highly recommend him)

In the autumn, Jonny told us only to bring the bike to her cycling lessons. She was getting closer to riding but other things failed her. Firstly being too cold – I then bought her a warmer coast. Next week her feet got wet in her mesh trainers – I bought her some gortex boots. Now lessons for the beginners class are off till spring time. 

We have been taking her to the park to practice and at almost 4.5 years old, she is nearly getting the hang of cycling. We can’t let go of her yet though. 

I had envisioned the transition from her balance bike to cycling being easy peasy, after all, I kept reading this, and my nephew had shown this to be true. Really I knew it wouldn’t be like this for her. She can be slow to pick up new skills (balance bike) but when she is ready she will be ready. She does things at her own pace. She can be stubborn too, which doesn’t help. Also, she had never used anything with pedals before this bike. I think, If she’d used a tricycle, I’m sure that this would have helped. 

She is her own person and will be pedaling all by herself very soon. I keep forgetting that 4 1/2 is still a young age to learn to ride.