Category: mini mads

Free kids coding lessons

Coding is now on the school curriculum, my boys really enjoy coding at school and when we were offered the chance to  try out a free kids coding lesson with Barclays code playground we jumped at it. Within two hours (one for Maxi) both of the boys had created a game with the help of the Digital more »

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So where those Startrite shoes made for scooting?

You may remember we have been working with Startrite on seeing how their boys school shoes hold up.  Well they have been wearing them for eight weeks now and I thought I would share with you how they have been wearing. I am going to preface this by saying that the boys last pair of more »

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Weekends With The Kids: Ideas Of What You Can Do To Fill The Time

Those two days after Friday can feel like a huge chasm, when you have kids to entertain. It’s easy to get stuck into the same routine and lose all inspirational ideas. Here are a few new ideas to help with bonding between yourself and your children. Make the most of the time that you have! more »

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Weekends With The Kids: Ideas Of What You Can Do To Fill The Time

Those two days after Friday can feel like a huge chasm, when you have kids to entertain. It’s easy to get stuck into the same routine and lose all inspirational ideas. Here are a few new ideas to help with bonding between yourself and your children. Make the most of the time that you have! more »

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Blowing away the cobwebs

January was dark, wet and dismal and we were determined for February not to be and a Sunday with sunshine and no rain meant blowing away the cobwebs and taking a trip to the beach.  There was a flask of hot chocolate (with marshmallows to add) in the rucksack and then the first icecreams of more »

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The comfort of a soft toy

Maxi was never a child to find comfort in an object or a soft toy, but Mini has always had a comforter.  His bears are worn and threadbare from over seven years of constant cuddling and affection.   Now at eight Maxi goes to bed every night with a menagerie of soft toys to chat more »

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A space party for an out of this world parents evening

It was parents evening at the school this week.  Safe to say we walked out of the school with the biggest grins on our faces.  Mini’s conference was exceptional and he is coming on in leaps and bounds and his English work is fab (probably down to all the reading he does).  Maxi is too more »

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Cooking with Kids – Cadbury Pebble Cookies

Cooking and baking is something I do a lot with the boys.  I cooked with my mum growing up and a lot of the skills I have are all down to her.  Cooking and baking is great for children as it teaches them lots and lots of new skills including measuring and weighing (you can more »

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Hands on Maths for Maxi (year 4 or 8 year old) – Shapes

axi is currently working on shapes at school in maths and this week brought home an Islamic pattern sheet and he had to identify a number of polygons on it and colour them all in different colours. Maxi is 8 years old and in Year 4 at school (key stage 2).

tangram

For someone like me that finds this type of mathematics really hard it is nigh on impossible to look at that page and see anything other than triangles.

Thankfully First 4 Magnets had sent us a magnetic tangram this week. We were sent the yellow one and it retails at £1.99.

Complete square measures 125mm x 125mm
Seven separate magnetic shapes
Made from high-quality die cut foam on a flexible magnetic backing
These challenging and addictive puzzles are based on the ancient Chinese tangram puzzle. Each puzzle is made from premium foam with a flexible magnetic backing providing a secure grip to a steel surface like your fridge. Each puzzle is die cut and supplied as a square so you can easily break the individual shapes apart to create new shapes. A tangram contains a small square, two small isosceles triangles, a medium-sized isosceles triangle, two large isosceles triangles, and a parallelogram. An isosceles triangle has two equal angles and two equal sides. A parallelogram is a four-sided figure with each side parallel to the opposite side.

When I received it I put it on the fridge and everyone in the house has played with it, including Maxi’s friends who have come to visit. I decided to set some challenges for the boys to follow some patterns using the tangram and it was great fun for everyone.

On the suggestion of Cathy from Nurturestore this weekend will be spent turning a sleeper offcut in to a geoboard.

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Experiences bring more happiness than things

A snapshot of this years family experiences so far.

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September Picture Postcard

September has been a fun filled, packed month for me.  From the boys starting school for two days and then it flooding, to me visiting LA (more to come on that).  There has been pies, foraging, sun,  music, colds, tomatoes from the garden and The Mad Blog Awards (more to come on that too).  

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Dumb ways to die – my new earworm

Thanks to the minimads   Introduce your children to it, if they haven’t already got you singing it!

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What activities have been keeping the boys busy this summer

e kit did make for some interesting conversations about crystal structures and we spent one evening researching this on the computer and looking at salt and sugar under the microscope. Now the boys are at school I think this will get a lot more play as it is something they can start after school and continue with the next day.

The Human Body

As a family we LOVED this kit. It costs £27 from Hobby Craft, but is jam packed with things to do, games to play and experiments, such as building your own stethoscope and finding out about finger prints. It really tapped in to the boys imagination at 7 and 8. I think it was perfectly pitched for their age range. The kit is full of primary coloured based kit and is really engaging. It is not something you have to spend hours with all at once, as it is broken down in to different sections and covers the five senses. This has been returned to again and again over the summer and we still have more to do and use, plus it comes with a 48 page book. A super buy.

Puzzler Brain Games for the DS

This came in to its own on one of our many long road trips. It is perfect for all ages and both the boys, their cousin and the Frugals played with it. At under £12 it is a great value game for any DS owner. Rather than use it in main game mode, which is a 90 tournament designed to improve your brain, they played it in practice mode, which is more like accessing mini games. The 20 puzzles are based on training 4 different brain function categories – Visual, Word, Mathematical and Memory. During all thge time it was played over the summer the boys never had the same content twice, which was pretty impressive.

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Encouraging boys to write – Comic Strips

Even though we have been having a #’freerangesummer, I have been trying to make sure the boys still do some writing and record what we have been doing this summer and I was delighted to see this fab video that the Etherington Brothers made where they give Scottish Friendly some of their top-tips for creating a comic.

In fact it inspired some comic strip making in The Mad House. Firstly I printed off some blank comic strip layouts and we discussed what we wanted to make a comic about and the boys and their friends they were going to do ones about their day at Lightwater Valley.

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The best rides for 7 and 8 year olds at Thorpe Park

The Flying Fish was one ride that the boys rode again and again together. Both at the front and the back. In fact sometimes they didn’t even get off!

The boys were also able to go on X, Zodiac, Banana Ride, Rocky Express, Storm in a teacup, The Detonator and Wet, wet, wet. We had an amazing couple of days at Thorpe Park and stayed in the Crash Pad, which is kind of like being in a caravan, compact, but has everything you need.

Top tips for getting the best value:

Book your tickets at least two days in advance at home
Print them off
Second day from £6.00
Consider staying onsite if you live any distance away.
My friend Cass at Frugal Family has a super competition at the moment to win tickets to Thorpe Park, so get yourself over there and enter.

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Postcard from Butlins – Day Four

Day four

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Postcard from Butlins – Day Two

 

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No screens after 6pm #screenfree

We are also trying to reduce our dependance on screens for those I am boarded moments whilst waiting for food to be served or waiting in queses with small games and have recently been sent Dobble from Esdevium Games, which is a card game and the perfect size for keeping in my bag. It is a card game, which is based on the concept of snap and needs, speed, good observation and super fast reflexes. You can play up to five different mini games from the one tin of 55 cards (which are circular) and is a great game for all ages and is currently less than £10.

What are your favorite screen free pastimes?

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#ScreenFree family games night

We tried lots of different flavours of Coke including vanilla, cherry and plain and couldn’t decide which was a winner on a unanimous basis! Maxi and I love vanilla, MadDad plain and MIni Cherry. But we all agreed they were a real treat and something different to make the family games night special.

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Half term week

Teaching the boys hangman
The log flume at Thorpe Park
Making the most of the sun – Maxi
Sunshine means water – Mini
The men in my life in the Crash Pad at Thorpe Park
Cakes by the minimads
Washing machine flooded our kitchen (insurance assessor coming on Thursday)
An adventure playground to ourselves on inset day
My monkey
What you don’t see is that it was Maxi’s first week at Cub camp, he learned to canoe, BBQ, make a wooden catapult gun, planted seeds, made a cresshead, walked a lot and went to a theme park. He had the best time ever. Mini and I missed him a lot, but we made the most of our time with reading, playing, football, baking and one to one time. Oh and not being woken by Maxi the early riser at 5.30 am!

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Words of love

Then I move on to Mini’s room…………………..

“I love you” I say

“I love you more” he responds

“I love you MORE” I reply

“I love you the MOST” he says with such conviction it makes my heart ache

Not possible I think to myself, not possible.

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Fountains Abbey

I love spring days out as a family. Exploring places and enjoying each others company. Over the Spring and summer we try to ensure that we spend one day at the weekend out as a family. The thing is that the boys love being out and about as much as me and MadDad do and we spent Sunday pottering in the garden and the weekend was pretty screen free for all of us.

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Encouraging individualism in children

Both the boys really enjoyed personalising their hats from Next and took a lot of time in picking the colours they wanted and it was the perfect quiet time activity. We sat at the table after bath time and discussed why it is OPK to wear what you want and that it is what is on the inside that matters not the outside.

How do you encourage your children to be unique?

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Keeping children entertained on car journeys

I also am a great planner and in the boot of the car I have travel packs for journeys. If you have ever been unlucky enough to have a flat tire or a breakdown with children in the car, you will understand just how much of a lifesaver having something they can do in the car is.

With this in mind I have we have activity packs in the boot of the car. I have folders with everything they could need for a specific activity. So if there is puzzle books, then I will make sure there is a couple of pens of different colours and also a highlighter for the wordsearches and a small dictionary for crosswords.

I tend to save all the crayons and pencils you get in restaurants and also all the little sticker packs and gift packs you get with children’s magazines. The pound shop is also a perfect place to get things for this too.

Other things you could include in the packs are:

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Where’s Wally?

Comic Relief day today at school and it was dress up as Where’s Wally (or Waldo, for any American chums) or a character from the books and pay a pound for the privilege which they decided to take from their pocket money. My boys never sit still so this is the best you will get picture wise. They decided that we needed to have a family nerf fight this morning!

They also packed MadDad off to work with red nose day cakes to sell.

What are you doing for Comic Relief?

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Team Skylanders

The good points:

The boys do not fight when playing Skylanders together. Although there is a lot of “battling” in the game, this does not creep out in to real life like it can in some games with the boys.
It is a pretty social game. They can share their figures with friends that also have Skylanders, even if they use a different games platform as the figures are universal.
Maxi loves the Mini games.
Even if you do not have extra figures you can still play a lot of the game.
No more worries about what birthday present to buy as it seems all the children play Skylanders, so a character is a great present.
The not so good points:

It can be hard for an adult to get their head around. I initially thought that we had to but the other 48 figures to be able to play all the game.
It is complicated getting to know which element each figure belongs too (for adults)
It could get expensive if you gave in to pester power

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Parental control with Video Games

1) How many PEGI ratings are there?
A) There are five age ratings; 3, 7, 12, 16, 18

2) Which 3 PEGI age ratings are legally enforceable?
A) The 12, 16 and 18 ratings are legally enforceable for retailers – 3 and 7 are advisory only.

3) How many PEGI Content Descriptor icons are there?
A) Content Descriptors explain a little bit more about why something has been given a particular rating. There are 8 in total

4) What does the Spider icon mean?

A) It means “Fear” – i.e. it might be frighening for younger children (handy to know, as my younger daughter is quite sensitive!)

5) What does the Fist icon mean?

A) It means that the game in question will include depictions of violence.

6) Parental Controls are available on Smart Phones; True or False?
A) True.

7) Parental Control features on a video games console can be used to control the amount of time that your child plays on the device per day? True/False?
A) True. This is an absolute GODSEND for me to have found out, especially when it comes to no.1 daughter, who is notoriously difficult to wrench away from games!

The second part of the challenge was for us to set up Parental Controls on our Xbox. You can see how I got on below:

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Noise with Muck on…coping with cleaning boys clothes and eczema

I have commented that Mini is known in this house as “noise with muck on”. He stays clean for all of 5 minutes and his clothes take the brunt of his lifestyle. I expected this as a mum of boys, however, I also have to contend with Eczema which for me rules out using harsh chemicals when cleaning the boys clothes.

Maxi is my main suffer but both boys have periods of really sore and itchy skin, so I was delighted to be able to try out the new Ecover Zero products.

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Kids get Arty – Kadinsky

So when Mini asked if he could have the watercolours out to paint and started painting concentric circles in squares, I decided to sit down and we had a fab discussion.

Wassily Kandinsky (1866 – 1944) was a Russian-French painter. His style of painting originally belonged to expressionism, and is sometimes included in symbolism. Kandinsky was one of the artists who gave shape to the abstract art in the early twentieth century.

Kandinsky was inspired by music. So whilst mini was painting I popped on Vivaldi’s four seasons. We talked about the fact Kandinsky thought that each colour has its own language and expression. Kandinsky tried to convert musical compositions into paintings. He heard colours in music and he saw music in colours. Mini told me that black must be sad music.

We also talked about the fact that paintings do not have to be of things or people and can be looked at in lots of different ways. I loved the fact that it is something that MIni could easily mimic and didn’t feel that there was a right or wrong.

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Encouraging remembrance in Children

Mini is obsessed with planes and tanks and was very respectful when we went to The Imperial War Museum at Duxford, especially when chatting to a retired serviceman about things on his birthday.

How do you talk to your children about Remembrance Day? It is hard to balance the memories without scaring them.

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Get outside this half term

It is our half term next week and we are big fans of the great outdoors and very lucky to have some wonderful diverse countryside on our doorstep. We are less than a minute from a fab woodland area 5 minutes from the beach and 15 minutes from the North Yorkshire moors.

One of the things that stop people getting outdoors is that they are not appropriately dressed. We have been trying out some splats and have to say they are the perfect footwear for our damp autumn and are easy for the boys to put on themselves, warmer than wellies and are great for Mini, who can not get into wellies with his wide feet and large instep.

I often find that this half term is one of the most exhilarating to be out in. We need to make the most of the daylight before the darker days and nights creep in. So here are some

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Now is the perfect time

Cut flowers in vases.

Radio 2 is playing Roy Orbison in the background.

Stop the clocks, for now is the perfect time.

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Polarn O. Pyret in action

As you can see from above, they have worn them on numerous occasions and they are brilliant. We received some colourful denims in blue, which both the boys have worn. They have an adjustable waist and look great rolled up on Mini or full length on Maxi. Mini is seen wearing a block stripe top , what I like about this is it washes and dries really well without pulling out of shape and it made from the softest cotton. Maxi is seen in the PO.P stripe top, which is currently in the sale at £11. This is made from organic cotton and Maxi loves it. It has become his go to top. He has issues with sensitivity and this top does not itch, scratch or rub in any way. We were so impressed with the clothes that I have even ordered some more in the mid season sale, which just shows that the boys love them.

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Everyday Echo’s

They all tell you the same cliches:

You won’t know that you did with yourself before they came along

There is nothing quite like being a mother

You will have so much respect for your mother once you are one

They grow up so fast

We heard them all and so many more, but we didn’t listen. We had waiting many a long year to have a child. We both longed for children, but had convinced ourselves and each other that we were fine as a couple and that we couldn’t keep on trying and failing at being parents. Then one day we had a little boy and then 15 months later another new born. Those first years past by in a blur of nappies, exhaustion, feeding and joy, inescapable joy. I can not put into words how lucky we are to have two amazing, unique and challenging children.

Those children that each night before bed we both go and watch sleep, just as we did from the first day we brought each of them home. It is part of our nighttime routine. MadDad goes to one door and I the other, then we pass on the landing as we swap. Then we move on to our room safe that we have breathed in a special piece of our family to infuse our sleep with. I like to use the excuse that I want to make sure they are tucked in and their lights are off and books off the best, but in truth I want to just watch them and breathe in their smell.

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It is the abductors fault, not the parents

and in light of April’s abduction we have also discussed not going with someone that you know unless Mummy or Daddy say it is OK and if we are not there and have not agreed it then unless they child is with them, then they are not to go with them, with the exclusions of family.
I do not live in constant fear of them being taken. I am well aware that some people might think I am being naive, but they are my children and this is my parenting choice. I feel that they gain so much from being allowed the freedom they are. We live in a village where lots of children play out. I let them get on their scooters and scoot to their friends house. I know where they are most of the time. They also take a walkie talkie out with them too.

I remember growing up with similar ground rules and I also firmly believe that we are more aware of the dangers these days, but they are not necessarily more people like this around, it is just we are aware of them more.

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How to encourage teeth brushing in children

The video comes on the back of research that Aquafresh conducted of 1,500 mums of children aged 2-12 that reveals that more than one million under-fives in the UK have at least two fillings, as mums struggle to get kids to brush their teeth. Other findings from the research are:

• One in six (17 per cent) mums say their child has at least 3 fillings

• 13 per cent of mums have children who have at least one filling by the time they start school (aged 3)

• Almost one in four (24 per cent) mums say their children only brush their teeth once a day and one in fifty say they don’t brush at all

• The research showed that almost half (47 per cent) of kids under 12 have been told they have dental decay, one of the most preventable diseases in the UK

• Over half of mothers (53 per cent) admit to finding getting their kids to brush their teeth stressful – potentially leading to arguments in over 2.5 million families

• One in fifty mums even admitted that their kids never brush their teeth.

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Capturing Family Moments with Panasonic

Take a look at the very short edited video and let me know what you think of the quality. I was really impressed at the footage taken in the reading room at The British Museum as the light was really poor and photographs without flash did not turn out, whereas the video camera took perfect pictures. The camera retails at £240 on Amazon and I really wish that Panasonic had given me one rather than just loaned it to me! So if you are reading this Clara, it got lost in the post, OK!

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When lines cross

Sunday came and Mini apologised to all the parents for his behavior but this wasn’t enough for this parent who has stated that he is pulling his son from the team. This has been such a terrible experience for all of us. We have come very close to pulling both boys from their teams and moving them to another club. MadDad’s enthusiasm for the game has been shattered and we have all felt emotionally bruised by this judgement in to our parenting.

It was the first week back at school and Mini was tired. He is six years old, he had a tantrum. I am not trying to make excuses for Mini, but these things happen and nobody should be making judgement on our life without walking a mile in our shoes. The fact that this parent is so offended by his behaviour now makes me wonder just who has the issue here. I do hope that his son still plays as all the children seem to have a fab time and love playing.

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Back to school – value for money, uniform

My boys put there school clothes though the wringer! They are not gental with anything they wear and their uniform is no exception. I was delighted when Matalan offered me £100 to spend on their uniform, espeically as I have purchased it from them previously and it has stood up to the boys day to day use.

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Summer Holidays so far in Instagram

We are busy making the most of the summer holidays, so I thought I would do a collage in Instagram showing what we have been filling our days with:

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Emotions

here has also been firsts too. Our first visit to the Skate park with Frugal Family and the boys first visit to the high street on their own. It has been a veritable feast of emotions for all of us. I love my time with them. I love that they are fun to be with and that they enjoy spending time with me as much as I do with them. Long may it continue.

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Raising Olympians #RaisinganOlympian

But then it came to me. Both my boys are very academic and sporty and excel in these areas. However, Maxi is a pretty sensitive young man and although he is more than happy to get up and speak in front of an audience, he finds dressing up and expressing himself challenging. This year he was asked if he would like to be part of a drama group and even though it was way out of his comfort zone, he accepted and did an hour after school every week leading up to a show this week.

Both MadDad and My sister in law took the time off to come and see the show we me. We didn’t know a lot about it as Maxi had kept us in the dark, all we know was it was Joseph and His Technicolor Dream-coat and that he had a solo in it. What can I say, my boy astounded me and left his Daddy speechless. He was amazing., He stepped out of his comfort zone and put his whole heart in to his performance. He smiled through the play. He sang with gusto and his solo brought a tear to my eye. But the best thing about it was that he enjoyed the whole experiance.

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Wordless Wednesday (Internet is down)

Olympic flame

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Jubilee Celebration

I hope everyone else has had a great long weekend too.

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The things they say and do – The joke edition

hildren and jokes. I am not sure that the boys really get jokes. They have up until now made up ones that made very little sence to me or anyone else for that matter, but had then rolling in the aisle.

But the times they are a changing…………………..

Maxi: Knock Knock

Mini: Who’s there?

Maxi: Love

Mini: Love who?

Maxi: Love you too

Then they both kiss!

Mini: Knock, knock

Maxi: Who’s there?

Mini: Atish

Maxi: Atish who?

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The things they say and do, The Beavers Edition

Maxi has been a Beaver for nearly a year and last week Monday was the eagerly anticipated first night of Mini’s induction in to the world of Beavers. He was ready a whole hour before it was time to go, in Maxi’s old uniform (which was kindly donated by a kind sole off twitter).

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Ouir holiday so far, gale force winds, snow and Mini blowing away…….

A perfect couple of days. Here to more this week.

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The things they say and do – Singing out of tune and girlfriends at 5

Whilst they were playing, Miss Frugal (who is the eldest of the bunch) taught the boys kiss, dare, truth or swear, which led to much hilarity in the car when Mini was picked truth and told me he had a girlfriend, but he had to share her with his friend at school too and that they took turns on which days they could kiss her on the cheek!

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Weekending

Our weekend in Instagram. Youn would never have guessed it was March, we have had a weekend of all seasons in one day!

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