Travel Chaos

I recently read an article in the paper about airport travel.  I wasn’t sure exactly where the article was going, but stuck with it till the end anyway.  I think the point was to prove or disprove the complications faced by people flying – although I failed to pin point it exactly.  Nonetheless, about to embark on our first family package holiday, if nothing else, it did make me think.

We have been away once already this year. To Pompeii, Italy.  And whilst we had a bit of a parking issue which meant we only just made it to departures in time, had a poorly child and a delay because of a technical fault, I have to say it actually went fairly smoothly.

We flew with BA who I know have had quite a lot of ‘bad press’ lately (and with good reason), but our personal experience with BA has been fantastic.  Aside from the delay caused by a technical fault, and the food in-flight being just a bit rubbish, we were all placed together on the aircraft (without us paying extra) and essentially it was a really good all round experience. As was the overall experience at both airports, Gatwick and Naples.  But! (and there is always a but), we went in May and not August.

We are now undertaking holiday number two, to Crete, in what is likely to be the busiest time of the year – The Summer Holidays. Its all been booked through LoveHolidays.com who so far, have been very good. On the face of it, its almost like having the best of both worlds – a package holiday, but booking each element independently and therefore hopefully saving you a bit of money.  We can only wait to see if this really works in reality.  We fly out, very early from Gatwick with Thomson.  We then have taxi transfers to our hotel, and then that’s it – the hotel is our base for the next 7 days.

My concerns; at the moment, lay mostly with sitting together on the plane, but then I consider the seemingly escalating heat in Europe and the possibility of no air conditioning, and then the equally possible long delays at the airport on return, and, and, and…. I could go on.

I could tie myself up in knots about it, but there is little point.  We will all be there soon, one way or the other.

Happy Holidays!

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A Starting Point

So.

I haven’t written anything in ages and ages. And ages!

A lot has happened.  TT has completed his first year at school and has just started in Year 1, I have been ill (which is ongoing) and my husband has announced he wants to return to work.  I think it’s safe to say that we’ve seen the good, the bad, and ugly over the past year.  There are really no excuses for me not writing – I just haven’t felt like it. Now though, it feels right. I’m ready for ‘The Return’  – *cue dramatic music*

I realise as I’m writing this that in fact I have been writing over the last year, I’ve just not been using my blog.  I’ve been writing stories for TT.  Stories about his dinosaurs – Stanley, Terry-Dave and Tom.  Actually, I promised TT I would write another one a while ago which I should really do and maybe I’ll put one on here at some point too.  I don’t proclaim to be a literary genius but TT seemed to enjoy them and that’s the important thing.

I think most people take a break now and then from their blog.  I know this isn’t my first. and I always start off with the best intentions of keeping it going ‘forever’.  I’m a little wiser now.  I will blog when I want to. When I feel I have something to write about. When I want to share things.

That time is now.

Homework – good idea, or bad idea?

  TT is four and in Reception at school.  Because he has an August birthday this means he’s one of the youngest in his class.  I’ve touched on this before.  I know that his learning will be at a different rate to his class mates and already this is beginning to show.  But on a whole, taking this into account, we are really proud of him.  He makes his own decisions, he’s independent, funny and really loves to read (or try to). But even more importantly, he really enjoys school. Ask him what his favourite thing about school is, he says “when I don’t have to do work. Oh, and PE. We do rolling”.  Fairly standard I think.

But this is not about what he can and can’t do. This is about the volume of homework and ‘help’ away from school that seems to be expected.  We are very fortunate that TT has one of us at home, and so when he gets home from school ‘Daddy’ spends 30/40 minutes doing all these things with him. Reading books and Phonics, visiting the school website and the local authority curriculum website to do various tasks, and then there are numbers, maths and Numicon.  We’ve even bought a special keyboard for the computer to help with letter recognition.

All this is done in a ‘fun’ way, but its still a lot for little brains to absorb and it all takes time. By the time I get home from work (around 5.30) TT has lost all interest in most things other than the TV and maybe his current passion Lego.

It makes me wonder if we are pushing children just a little too much.  When do they get the chance to be children and just play and use their imagination and actually sometimes just have some ‘down’ time.

At the moment, TT loves school.  He runs in happily and enjoys being with his friends and class mates. He also wants to learn, he finds it exciting.  But I don’t want him to be feel burnt out and left dreading school because of the pressure put on him. And, if I’m honest, at the moment we feel that there is more pressure put on us as parents too.

I’ve seen petitions over the past year calling to ditch homework from primary schools and whilst I don’t think we get ‘home work’ per se, it’s still a lot of work for both our young student and us to deal with.  I’m not sure if home work should be abandoned altogether, but I do believe that there shouldn’t be such an emphasis on it.

Let kids be kids!

Because all too soon they will be young adults, and having to deal with the stresses of what grown up life brings

I want to go on holiday

It seems as though holidays are the hot topic at work at the moment, and now its made me think, and now…

I so want to go on holiday! Not just a camping holiday. I shouldn’t say ‘just’ because we do all love and enjoy our camping holidays, and with a new tent I know we really should make the most of it.  But I want, what I would call, a proper holiday.  One where you have the excitement of receiving tickets through the post. One where you have the anticipation, and panic, of getting to an airport on time.  I would just love TT to experience a real airplane. A real flight, in a real airplane, and not just a walk through (around) a passenger plane on the tarmac at a museum.

A proper holiday.

Now that TT is old enough I’d love him to have the chance to experience all those things that come with a holiday aboard in warmer climates. The muffled clunk of coffee cups and ting of cutlery of a morning breakfast in the open air.  The day time splashing and energy in the pool and stress free time with mum and dad. And, evenings, with the romantic soft evening warmth of a sunset and an atmosphere of outside dining and a sneaky cocktail at the hotel bar. Obviously TT would not be drinking cocktails – but he could have a mixed fruit drink.

I want him to know what these type of holidays can be like.

I wouldn’t say that my husband and I are well travelled, but we’ve been to a few places.  Some far-flung places and others closer to home. We have experienced different cultures, food and environments and all of this was before the addition of TT.  Now, I feel its time to share some of those experiences with him.  The question is, will we be able to?  Affording it is one thing and then of course there are the constant travel fears which are so prevelant at the moment. So, I don’t know if we will. But I hope we can and if its not now, at some point in the future.

Board Games – how I remember them.

I think its safe to say that we have all the usual suspects when it comes to board games.  Hungry Hippos, Operation, Buckeroo, Pop-Up Pirate, to name a few – we actually have a cupboard full of games.  Hungry Hippo’s is always the one that comes out first when we suggest we play a game and I would say that its probably TT’s favourite.

The thing is, I remember many of these games being far more fun when I was little.  I’m sure that the 1980 version of Operation was much harder and therefore proved more of a challenge than its 2015 counterpart.  What happened to trying to stretch the elastic band around the knee and ankle joint? and I distinctly remember that the Adams apple was virtually impossible to get out.  The parts now, a digital music player and game controller, are in shallow little dish shapes and are actually very easy pluck out with the tweezers – even though TT finds it quite difficult as he hates the buzzing and therefore gets cold feet every time.

I am also sure I remember Buckeroo being far more sensitive (or vicious, depending on your outlook).  You only had to show the horse you were going to hang the boot on his saddle and it would buck everything off.  Now, TT has actually got into the habit of bucking the horse with his hand after we’ve put everything on the saddle and with not even a hint of a buck despite our deliberate heavy handiness.

We’ve got TT Guess Who for Christmas and I’m just hoping that this doesn’t fall short of my expectations too – although what could you possibly do with Guess Who to change the concept? Ah, but you can! I saw an advert on the TV showing a digitalised version of the game ?? What ??  The whole point, and appeal of Guess Who was its simplicity, and this made it fun.  You can’t make it digital? No! – But, they have.

Its all a bit disappointing really.  I want to struggle with the Adams apple again and literally jump out of my skin when I touch the metal with the tweezers, and I want to watch the horse fire the cowboy hat half way across the room and get hit in the eye with a stray plastic imitation rope – that was all part of the fun.

Perhaps as an adult these games just aren’t all that fun any more – age might be the culprit. Maybe I’ve got to that age where I need to sit down and play a very age appropriate game. Bridge perhaps. But, TT essentially does really enjoy all of the games we have despite my misgivings. And it is something that all three of us can sit down and do together which TT loves. So putting all of my issues with these to one side, perhaps they are actually really good.

Aromahome Dinosaur- a review

aromahomedino

I don’t usually do reviews. In fact I rarely even read reviews, unless it’s on something I specifically need or want. But as Christmas is looming and seems to be coming around faster than I’d like I thought this was worth sharing.

TT had been complaining his bed was cold at night so I investigated what hot water bottles were available for children.  I didn’t really like the idea of a traditional hot water bottle as I don’t exactly hold fond memories of them from when I was a child. But while searching, I found the microwave teddy bears which I thought were a great idea.

I found a company called Aromahome who did some very cute looking soft toys all of which have a removable beanbag that can be put in the microwave, heated up and put back into the tummy of the cuddly making it lovely and warm.

Although slightly more expensive, than some others available the advantage of this style is that they are completely washable. The bears you put into the microwave complete, not only do you have to battle with your conscience each time you put it in the microwave, but they are surface clean only which is not allways that practical for children. I also found it quite tricky to find something suitable for boys who are not really into teddy bears in the true sense.  All this made the Aromahome dinosaur a firm favourite.

It arrived a little while ago but we haven’t used it until now as we decided it would be a nice half term treat for TT.

Alfie as he is now known came in a cute box with his head and arms sticking out and his body all squished up inside it. Why, I don’t know, but that seemed to add to his appeal – there is something about a soft toy in a box that makes you feel like it’s more real and you’re doing it a favour by taking it home and letting it out (no? – ok, just me then…). Alfie is a bit of a chubby dinosaur, but TT loved him from the minute he saw him and couldn’t wait to see how his special tummy warmed up and made him extra cuddly and warm. To add to Alfie’s special powers, the beans are scented with lavender which is ideal to help calm and relax even the most energetic small person at bedtime.

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All in all, Alfie has become a firm bedtime favourite in a very short space of time and if you’re considering a hot water bottle perhaps consider a microwave teddy bear instead, or at least drop by the Aromahome website (there is a US version too) to see what else they do.

I think that anyone would love one of these cuddly bedtime warmers and they would make an ideal addition to the Christmas your present shopping list.

Is it really Christmas time?

Everyone seems to be writing about and talking about Christmas. Is it too early? We’re only just at the beginning of November. But not to disappoint, I’m jumping on the Christmas band wagon.

I have done most of my Christmas shopping already, and what I don’t have, I have a list for. I know exactly what I need to buy, where to get it from and who it is for.  This however, is most definitely a first for me.

Since having TT, buying for Christmas has been a bit different in the sense that I now think nothing of buying something in August and spiriting it away into a deep dark cupboard somewhere waiting to be wrapped for Christmas. This would never have happened pre-TT. Never!. I couldn’t even utter the word Christmas until at the very earliest end of November and when decorations were installed there would be only a tree and it would be put up on Christmas Eve.

Now it seems our house is taking after the shops and marketing people and Christmas is an almost all year round affair.  We have been using the ‘you have to be good or Father Christmas might not bring you presents’ bribe since September and if TT’s birthday wasn’t in August, it may well have been used before then. And, JUST DON’T go into the cupboard in our Bedroom! It is fit to burst! Open the door and there is a moment of mad panic to hold and push everything back in before it tumbles out over the floor.  All this and its only the beginning November.

So what is in my cupboard that is packed to the rafters?  That’s a good question, and I can’t really give too many spoilers in case there are people I know reading this (and I know who you are!).  But as the limit to what TT can read is, ‘and’, ‘on’, ‘is’, ‘the’ and ‘train’, I think its safe to say I can give a few more details of what we have for him.

Top of the list will come as no surprise – Lego.  We have a huge box of Lego and also a couple of smaller box sets too.  But there are also, Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles, colour change pens, paper aeroplanes and GuessWho. A dinosaur projector torch, some Playmobil, an atlas, puzzles and colouring books.

I think its safe to say that, we’re doing ok here for Christmas and I must admit, whilst I complain about how early I started the shopping this year, I am secretly rather looking forward to it.

So in the words of Slade ……  “IT’S CHRIIIISSSSSTMMMMAAAAASSSSSS”.