Crafting our Dream Car #DreamCarCraft

Carcraft are challenging people to craft their dream car to be in with the chance to win £50 worth of Amazon vouchers. craft your car It is really simple to enter all you have to do is: 1. Help your child (or children) craft their dream car. 2. Take a photo – there is room for more creativity here! 3. Finally, tweet us your photo at @Carcraft with the hashtag #DreamCarCraft. But get your skates on as it ends on Friday.  To find our more take a look at the craft your dream car terms and conditions. Today has been one of those days where we have all played hokey cokey with the weather (in, out, in, out, in, out) so we took the opportunity to work on our car when it was raining.   This is Mini's, it has speical wheels so it can go faster and it is make from rock for when you might get hungry whilst on long journeys!   3.
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#Freerangesummer – The next installment

Can you believe that it is less than 4 weeks until the children go back to school, much sooner than that for my fiends in Scotland.   Time really does fly when you are having fun.  I appreciate that not everyone is as lucky as me to be able to take the summer off work (pretty much) and spend time with their children, but I do think that it certainly polarises opinion of long school holidays. free range summer Last week was filled with lots of fun at Butlins with Dairy of a Frugal Family and believe it or not, it allowed for lots of free range parenting and provided me with the perfect place to allow the boys a little extra freedom.  I let them get their dinner and drinks on their own, go to the games room on their own and also spend time with the Frugal's  without me watching over my shoulder. We also managed to find some outdoor spaces to play in the most unlikely of settings.  The top image is a woodland service area just off the M25, the perfect spot to allow the children to let off some stream and go to the loo and the tree climbing took place on the edge of the car park at our Premier Inn hotel in Berkshire.  Just goes to show you that outdoor play and adventure is never far away and that children can play anywhere given the chance. Alvin is also proving to be an excellent competition for our #freerangesummer and we are all benefiting for dog walking adventures. What have you been up to this week?  I would love for you to link up. Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
The Mad House
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.muminthemadhouse.com/" title="The Mad House" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.muminthemadhouse.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/free-range-summer.jpg" alt="The Mad House" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
Why not grab my badge if you are enjoying my #freerangesummer posts.  
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Win £50 in Takeaway Vouchers!

Fancy a night off? JUST EAT has got you covered. JUST EAT is giving the readers of Mum In The Madhouse the chance to win £50 in JUST EAT vouchers. Just enter our competition! just eat How much extra does it cost to order from JUST-EAT.co.uk?
  1. £2.50
  2. £5
  3. Nothing!
JUST EAT is the nation’s top online takeaway ordering service. We’re free to join, and with over 17,000 restaurants nationwide you’re sure to be able to find something you fancy. Whether it’s a meal from your local Chinese restaurant or a piping hot curry from the nearest Indian, ordering is simple. Find great new restaurants in your area, or take advantage of online ordering with your old favourites! Click here if you’d like to follow us on Twitter for competitions and discounts! a Rafflecopter giveaway
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The evolution of our vegetable patch in the garden

Garden 2009 Way back in February 2009 after I had my mastectomy MadDad built three raised bed in the garden so we could start to grow our own vegetables.   This is those raised bed in July 2009. That year we planted cabbage, cauli, broccoli, kale, chard, spinach, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions, leeks, beans, peas, pumpkins, courgettes and strawberry’s  We were rather over adventurous that first year and crammed everything in to the beds and pots.  Our cabbage and cauli was eaten by cabbage whites.  The pumpkins took over the small space we had and invaded our neighbours too!  The carrots got munched by carrot fl, but we had a super time growing things and it was a brilliant experience for the boys and to this day runner beans go by the name Robbie Runner Beans! garden 2013 As the years have gone on we have learned that we just can not grow carrots.  That cabbages are hit and miss for us and although we can grow onions they are actually really inexpensive to buy so are not best use of our tiny bit of land. This year we have planted new potatoes, cabbage, sprouts, broad beans, peas, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers (in the conservatory), pak choi and salad leaves.    We have three raised beds which have the peas in one, potatoes in another and broccoli and sprouts in the other.   Each year we rotate what is in each of the beds and as soon as the potatoes come out in a week or so we will be planting some winter kale and other winter greens (spring cabbages). We have two large barrels which both have broad beans in this year.  We want to encourage the boys to eat them and growing them is often the best way for us to introduce a food to them.  In fact the peas never get from pod to plate, just pod to mouth!  We are growing strawberries in hanging boxes and baskets, but they are very small this year.  Perhaps we need top replace them next year.  Has anyone else had this issue? Tomatoes are also grown in planters and we have one tumbler in almost the flowers, which has done remarkably well. I also have a number of pots with herbs in including Sage, Chives, Mint, Rosemary, which remain outside all year round and we have more tender ones in the kitchen including Basil.
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Pong Ipad Case review

I mentioned that we were testing out a Pong Ipad case on a previous #freerangesummer post and we have now had it for five weeks  and I have to say I am really impressed.  If you follow me on twitter you will know that my children are not gentle with electronics and we have had to have the screen on our family Ipad replaced on more than one occasion!  So it is safe to say that we have put the case through it's paces. pong What we liked:
  • It is a slimline case more akin to the apple case than many other cases and it is a really great fit.  We love the adaptability of the origami fold mechanism and the fact that it has magnets in it, so snaps together reassuringly too.
  • It protects the user by directing wireless energy and radiation away from the user by up to 52%.  As a parent this is a BIG factor for me.
  • It increases wifi speed by up to 2.6% thanks to a special patented wafer thin ariel in the case.   This also helps boost battery power b y some sort of hocus pocus too!
  • The case enables you to use the ipad both in portrait and landscape mode and feels really secure.
  • It closes down you ipad when you close the cover to save on battery life.
  • It fits really well.  The ipad clips firmly into the case without any flexing and feels really secure and safe, which with two destructive boys is a must.
maxi ipad We weren't keen: Other than the cost $120 I can not see anything we do not like about this case, but  I would pay that price for it especially if it saved me spending £80 a time for a new screen! 9
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Top 20 Windsor Names

Having a baby requires months of planning, from buying new clothes, choosing the nursery furniture and not least of all, choosing a name. Check out this infographic charting the most popular boys' and girls' names in England and Wales, compared to the most popular Windsor family names.
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The best rides for 7 and 8 year olds at Thorpe Park

When you think of Thorpe Park you often think that it is the place for older children, but I want to assure you that my boys who are seven and eight had a blast at Thorpe Park and are desperate to go back.  So here are our top rides for seven and eight year olds at Thorpe Park.  Mini, who is seven is just over 125 and Maxi who is eight is 135cm.  Both are looking forward to the day when they are over 140cm and can ride everything in the park!

rush   Rush is like a massive swing.  Be prepared to leave your stomach behind you.  This is Maxi's favorite ride and as he was under 140cm he had to ride it with MadDad. quantum   Quantum was Mini's favorite ride and is right next to rush.  It is a magic carpet ride that speeds you up and over!  Mini loved the fact that he didn't need an adult to come on this ride with him. storm surge Thorpe Park excels at water rides and Storm Surge is like a helter skelter with water and inflatables.  What is not to like? loggers leap   Loggers Leap is a log flume ride which thrills young and old.  The boys went on this ride three times! rumba rapids   The Rumba Rapids was a firm favorite of the boys too.  They didn't need to go on with either of us, but decided that it would be fun to get Daddy wet again! tidal wave   Yet another water ride.  This time Tidal Wave.  You do not have to ride to get wet, this ride makes an EPIC splash too. flying fish   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:
  1. Book your tickets at least two days in advance at home
  2. Print them off
  3. Second day from £6.00
  4. 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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10 Ways to keep children entertained on long car journeys

car journeys We are just back from an Epic road trip which included Butlins, Brighton, Reading, Bucklebury (to see the Prince), Harry Potter Studios and back home to North Yorkshire again. Thankfully Moneysupermarket invited us to take pert in their £50 road trip challenge, so we put the £50 in the tank of our loaned Hyundai Santa Fe (more on that to come) and made it our aim to keep the MiniMads and Miss and Master Frugal occupied on our trip. My boys are seven and eight and we traveled with Cass from The Diary of a Frugal Family and we have been putting our heads together so that we can keep the children entertained on the journey.  It goes without saying that we made sure we had lots of snacks and drinks with us and I did not let them start the journey with every activity.  We brought out new things as they got bored and kept them entertained all the way.  W 1) Eye Spy Books and prizes eye spy We have invested in some Eye Spy Books and some small prizes for the winners and the runners up!  If you have younger children then I created a visual eye spy game and travel bingo. 2) Travel Packs travel pack Throughout the year I keep an eye out for things that I could add too our travel[packs.  I 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.   We have travel packs with dot to dot and puzzle books, colouring, sticker books, maths and English books, no mess painting, Plasticine, small pots of play dough and small cutters and a tray 3) Travel Journals scrapbook 1 We are great fans of scrap books and journals and have one for each of our adventures.  I supply the boys with stickers, tape, glue sticks and stamps so they can personalise their journals.  The blank books are from the Pound Shop. 4) Travel board games 81H-iB0fREL._SL1500_ You can buy travel versions of favorite board games.  We have battleships, guess who, snakes and ladders and connect four. They do not take up a lot of space and are fun to play.  If you have more than two children travelling in the car you can have tournaments and give small prizes for the winners. 5) Audio Story 51D6KEnPQVL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_ Sometimes you just need quiet time on the journey and tyhis is when I bring out an audio story.  We are currently listening to Harry Potter again! 6) Mind Games Sometimes simple is best and we have an array or games that we play that require nothing other than ourselves, including eye spy, "I’m going on a  trip, and I’m going to pack…”, I do not spy, try and make the other person laugh, guess what profession I am, the yes no game and what animal am I. 7) Books 61nrlD7WvtL._SX385_ Some children have issues reading in cars, I know that I do, but neither of my boys seem to have any issues, so they always take books for the journey.  In addition to reading books, we take where's wally books, word searches (with highlighters) and puzzle books. 8) Maps and Navigation 610ZkBt0-JL._SY300_ My boys love maps and helping with directions.  You can pick up travel atlases for next to nothing and I give them a highlighter and let them help with the navigation.  I also have been know to pass them the sat nav and let them give me the directions from that too. 9) In car movies l_12448364 Portable DVD players or even ipads are great for providing movies when on long journeys.  I make sure that the boys have their own headphones.  We tend to leave the electronic entertainment to last when they really are sick of travelling.  For a long time I avoided it, but it is a great occupier and they love it. 10) Handheld electronic games 9031252_R_Z001A_UC1055578 When we are on long journeys I do let my boys take their Nintendo 3DS and we take IPads, but they are often kept until we have exhausted all my other games and ideas. So how do you keep your children entertained and occupied on car journeys?  I would love to know your ideas and what your favorite in car games are.  Please do leave me a comment and let me know.  
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Postcard from Butlins – Day Four

curcus postcard front Day four postcard back
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Perfect Holiday Clothes for Boys

As you know we are currently on holiday enjoying all the unusually wonderful English weather and all that Butlins has to offer. So it is perfect timing to do a holiday clothes for boys update.  One of the things I hate is for my boys to look like the rest of the children on the holiday park, si I tend to shop around for their clothes.  I am not a fan of slogans or sludgy colours.  With one children that is just "noise with muck on" things need to be versatile and washable. K and Co Online have a fab range of boy's clothes. They are great quality and are not worn by everyone, which means my boys stand out from the crowd. maxi mini golf   S0 what makes good holiday clothing:
  1. They need to be multipurpose, think long line swimming shorts that can double as shorts during the day.
  2. We love trousers that can be rolled up to make shorts or have zip off parts
  3. bright tea shirts mean that your children will stand out from the crowd
  4. Longsleved shirts look great worn open over a teashirt instead of a hoodie or cardigan and can also be worn to smarten up trousers for the evening.
  5. Reversible clothes are perfect for muck monsters
  6. Clothes that do not crease make packing so much easier too
  7. We love really funky and bright shorts too.  People always comment on how cool my dudes look.
  8. If you are going funky with the shorts or trousers stick to a plain top
  9. I swear by ribbed tshirts, they last for years as they grow with them!
mini mini golf K&Co have a sale on outdoor toys and summer furniture, and as we are off to France in three weeks with Thomson Alfresco I am going to check out toys so we have things to keep the boys occupied. What are your top tips for holiday clothes? 3.  
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