The ultimate summer holiday bucket list

Call it what you will, summer holiday bucket list, summer activities, summer wish list.  Here is our list! ultimate summer list
  1. picnic at the park (or more accurately various parks)!
  2. homemade pizza party
  3. Visit Forbidden Corner
  4. make pet rocks
  5. have a sleepover at Cousins
  6. Buy new school uniform
  7. make wind chimes
  8. go on a trampoline filled with water balloons
  9. go to the cinema
  10. tie dye t-shirts
  11. scavenger hunt walk
  12. lunch with dad at work
  13. make gingerbread
  14. attend story time at the library
  15. have a water balloon fight
  16. make journals and update your scrapbooks
  17. Make memory stones
  18. make homemade jam
  19. prepare a family meal
  20. Collect pinecones and make things from them
  21. Make a den
  22. go bowling
  23. have a neighbourhood waterfight
  24. go to the zoo
  25. colour some more fabric
  26. make footprint wrapping paper
  27. family bike ride
  28. go to Beamish
  29. make a rain catcher 
  30. go to a park you've never been to before
  31. go swimming
  32. go bird watching
  33. learn how to play a new board game
  34. visit local art gallery
  35. mail a letter to a penpal
  36. bake cookies
  37. fly a kite
  38. make pavement or sidewalk paint 
  39. go on a road trip
  40. have a water balloon fight
  41. go to the airshow
  42. go camping
  43. make a bird feeder
  44. play hopscotch
  45. make paper airplanes and race
  46. have a cricket match
  47. make sail boats and race
  48. go on a bouncy castle
  49. go fishing
  50. get the paddling pool out
  51. play mini golf
  52. make cupcakes
  53. ride on the bus
  54. learn to sew
  55. make smoothies
  56. go to a museum
  57. have a family talent show
  58. go to the woods
  59. go crabbing
  60. go paddling in the sea
  61. make friendship bracelets
  62. create sidewalk art using chalk
  63. make some shrinkydinks 
  64. make homemade bubbles
  65. go to an amusement park
  66. do a jigsaw puzzle
  67. make a dream catcher
  68. play mini golf
  69. camping in the backyard
  70. make sand castles at the park or beach
  71. make a volcano
  72. homemade marshmallow guns
  73. make a video
  74. make homemade instruments
  75. decorate cupcakes or cookies
  76. have a treasure hunt
  77. play Frisbee
  78. make sun catchers
  79. visit a nature center
  80. dye fabric with permanent markers
  81. go to the beach
  82. eat fish and chips at the beach
  83. collect sea shells
  84. go a local farmer’s market
  85. go on a minibeast hunt
  86. make soda floats
  87. have an ice cream party with lots of toppings
  88. go to the skate park or a skating rink
  89. decorate t shirts
  90. make paper mache air balloon models
  91. make ice cream
  92. have a movie night
  93. make popcorn
  94. roast marshmallows
  95. learn how to make smores
  96. have BBQ on the beach
  97. go to the moors
  98. go paddling in the back
  99. go on a train ride
  100.  organise a street party
100 summer activities  
The Mad House
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Children aged 4 to 9 do not need a mobile phone

I was offered a mobile phone to review which is pitched at children aged four to nine.  Am I the only person that thinks that giving children this age a mobile phone is unreasonable? 1stfone Why does a child that age need a mobile phone? Now I know the phone in question is a very basic one  which can be pre-programmed with up to 12 numbers that can make and receive calls only; no texts, Internet etc, but I still do not think that children need mobile phones. Firstly my eight year old would not be seen dead with such an inadequate piece of kit.  He wants a standard phone, in fact he wants an iphone.  Not to make calls but for everything else that he could use it for.  I am standing firm and saying no. Secondly, children this age DO NOT NEED mobile phones.  Both my boys play outside, however, initially we used walkie talkies to keep in contact.  Now they can both tell the time they have a watch and come back at a specific time.  It is their responsibility to do as I tell them too.  If they go to play at anyone's house or or activity such as cubs or football I make sure I have the contact numbers of a responsible adult. I am their parent, so I make sure I look after them the best I can.  I do not put that responsibility on them at four or even at nine.  I do not feel that at four my children would have known when to call 999 and feel that it is unreasonable to give them access to the emergency services. This is without bringing in to the debate concerns about the long term health effects of mobile phones or the fact that a first phone introduces them to technology far too early and that there are studies out there that prove that screens have an impact on our ability to sleep. Children are bombarded with technology from such a young age and I want my children to stay children for as long as possible.  I want them to feel as though they can go play on their bike without worrying that they are carrying a phone with them that could make them a target for mugging.  What if they lose it.  This particular phone costs a minimum of £50, yes £50.  It is a lot of money to make them responsible for.  I also feel that it is just another way to make money out of children and their parents. I survived as a child and a teenager without a mobile phone.  I appreciate things change and I am not against phones for teenager, but I do not want to expose my children to them at this age. If you are worried about losing your children in places such as LEGOLAND or on days out I was sent some fantastic temporary tattoos with our mobile phone number on for the boys.  I have taught them to look out for a person in a uniform or a mum with children and to tell them that they have lost us and could they call us on the number on the boys tattoos.  Much cheaper than the £50 for the phone and it also meant that we had the stranger danger conversation too. All of the above is enough for me without bring the following shocking statistics in to things:
  • According to the Cyberbullying Research Center (CRC), 25 percent of kids have been harassed or bullied with mobile calls or texts.
  • Only about half of the students who are cyberbullied tell their parents, also according to the CRC.
  • 15 percent of kids have received a sexting message from someone they know.
  • 60 percent of kids have sent texts during classroom hours.
I do not want to normalise or introduce my children to mobile phones at an early age.   Where do you draw the line.  I do not want my children to start taking a mobile phone to school or even preschool as that is the age this phone is targeted at.  In fact I feel that giving a nine year old child a phone like this would actually make him a target for bullying.  When I showed it to Maxi, who had seen it on CBBC Newsround, he said that his friends would laugh at him.
The Mad House
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It is also one of the reasons that I want my children to have a free range summer and as natural a childhood as possible.
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Summer Holiday Planning and Activities

Just because we are having a free range summer, it doesn't mean that we can not plan some activities and ideas for things that we want to do as a family. I was inspired by Frugal Family's post on how they plan their summer holidays to share how we plan ours. Summer-holiday-planning So this morning we all sat at breakfast and decided on things that we wanted to read, do, make and places we wanted to go.  I sat and wrote them all out on Post-it Super Sticky Notes from 3M .  The boys would have had we had more time and will any additional ones! summer We used a different colour for each of the activities and then used some lovely heart ones for major things and day trips we are planning. Our list this year is wonderful and wide ranging and includes:
  1. Visiting lots of different parks - We tend to take a picnic with us.
  2. Visiting local museums and art galleries - I tend to tie this into times when they have free activity sessions on.  Your local council is a great source of information on this.
  3. Woodland centres and forests.  The Forestry Commision has an enchanted wood at Dalby Forest with a magical adventure play area with a fort, storytelling seats and carved insects hiding in the trees. They also have some great free fairytale activity sheets and ideas too.  The woodland trust also has a great Nature Detective website with over 150 ideas for free things to do.
  4. Visit the cinema and bowling alley.  We always make sure we look out for great deals and this summer Cineworld have some great family deals, which I featured on A Thrifty Mum.
  5. Outdoor play - including cricket, football, rounders, minibeast hunting, camping out in the garden, playing with friends, cycling, scootering and having their own olympic games.
  6. Making and baking - I always encourage the boys to be as creative as possible and this summer they are going to make their own cakes, pizza, biscuits and picnics.  They also want to make a windchime, birdfeeders and dream catchers.  I think that it is always fun to collect items from your trips to places and use them in your crafting, such as shells and pebbles from the beach, which can make rock monsters and memory stones.
The Mad House
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  Thank you to Post-it Super Sticky Note for provided me with lots of Post-it Super Sticky Notes to write our activities on.    Did you know that they are so sticky that they are going to cover a London Taxi in them and drive it around London to prove it.  You can get your name on a Post-it Super Sticky Note, that will then be stuck on the Taxi by visiting their Facebook Page  My name will be on the Taxi!  Six people will be invited to remove a note off the taxi and if your name is on it then you would be a winner. 3.
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Mum To Be Kate Middleton is the UK’s Favourite Celebrity Style Icon

18. Duchess of Cambridge June 2013 Lets be honest, it’s not often that someone from the royal family has the title ‘style icon’ bestowed on them. From questionable twinsets through to atrocious ball gowns, the monarchy has not exactly led the way when it comes to cutting edge fashion and style. However, two members of our most royal of families have made it into the fashion history books – Princess Diana and the Duchess of Cambridge – thanks to their penchant for representing British designers and having an eye for great style. In fact, the Duchess of Cambridge is now considered to be such a trendsetter that she has topped a best dressed poll, above the likes of Kate Moss and Victoria Beckham. The poll puts Kate as the number one most fashionable icon, with 338 votes out of 2,038 polled. Other famous faces to make the top ten include Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Zooey Deschanel, Cara Delevigne and Cheryl Cole. It’s quite an achievement for the royal mum-to-be to have managed to pip some of the most innovative and well known names in fashion around today to that top spot – and without ever having donned a ‘meat dress’ like Lady Gaga or a beanie hat a la Cara Delevigne. Kate Middleton’s style has certainly become something of a favourite with the fashion press since she first stepped into the spotlight, and even big glossies like Marie Claire have been admiring of her sartorial choices over the years. From that famous Sarah Burton wedding dress that trod the careful line between traditional and contemporary, to Kate’s love of a clutch bag, her bold colour choices and the fact that she doesn’t shy away from trying new style, Audrey Hepburn Tiffany's 3 In addition to posing the question of the current most fashionable icon, Style in View also compiled a list of the 10 most fashionable icons of all time. Whilst Kate didn’t make it onto this list (at least she hasn’t yet…), another fan of kohl eyeliner who also married into the royal family does – Princess Diana. Diana is ranked in the poll at number two, behind only Audrey Hepburn, a woman who for many encompassed style and sophistication at its best. From iconic, highly photographed looks such as the black off the shoulder Victor Edelstein gown she wore to the White House state dinner in 1985, to the huge meringue of a wedding dress, designed by Elizabeth and David Emanuel, that is surely the ultimate princess dress to get wed in, there are numerous gowns that demonstrate why Diana is in there at number two. The fact that she is ranked above such style legends as Coco Chanel, Brigitte Bardot, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor certainly gives Kate Middleton something to aim for in terms of a fashion legacy.
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Join me for a tea break at 1pm on Wednesday 10th July #chaitea

Everyone that knows me knows that I am a tea monster.  So I am delighted to be co-hosting a fabulous #chaitea twitter chat with The Foodies100,  Tea India ( and award-winning chef Ravinder Bhogal whoi is going to help us by suggesting which baked goodies are best to serve alongside Tea India’s brand new range of specialty Chai and Black tea blends. chaitea A Chai latte is my tea of choice at the moment and I will share with you my top tips for tea making (I am a loose leaf tea fanatic) along with my favorite tea time treats.

#Chaitea twitter party

  Join us at 1pm on Wednesday 10th July on Twitter for a live Twitter party where we will be asking Ravinder Bhogal for her baking and recipe tips – and inviting you to share their own recipes,  tips and ideas. There are some great prizes on offer for the best recipes and tips submitted during the Twitter party. Four winners will each receive a £25 voucher for a supermarket of their choice, and the top 10 Tweets will each receive a month’s supply of Tea India products. Want to know more?
  • Join me on Twitter between 1 and 2pm on Wednesday, 10 July.
  • Make sure you’re following @foodies100, @TeaIndiaUK, @tots100 and me (@mum_themadhouse)
  • Tweet your tips, recipes and questions using the #chaitea hashtag
For full terms and conditions, please see the Foodies100
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A free range summer

When I think of my summer holidays as a child, they were filled with sun, sand, bikes, scraped knees, dens and playing out with my mates, only coming home when I was hungry or thirsty.  This is the type of summer I want my children to have.  A somewhat retro summer and certainly a free range one. free range I am not saying that I am going to leave my seven and eight year old boys to fend for themselves all day or go on days out with them or even forgo every planned activity.  What I am saying though is that I am going to limt screen time and expect them to take out their cricket bat and ball and enjoy some outside time. I want them to get board and to try and find ways to fill that time with something other than a mindless electronic game.  If all else fails then they can resort to the bored jar and face the chance of getting a chore instead of an activity! Who is with me?
The Mad House
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  What is Free Range? Free range could be lots of different things depending on your childs age and your circumstances.  For some parents it will be going to the park and allowing your children to play freely without intervention whereas for others it will be street play or taking them to the beach for a couple of hours and reading whilst they play in the sand. For me it is about allowing the boys to ride their bikes round the block without me.  They have boundaries about where they can and can not go, but I do not follow them. I do not want this to be strictly defined.  You need to find something that you are comfortable with and age of child and location will be a big impact on what you allow them to do. My tips for going free range
    1. Get a set of walkie talkies, these are great for keeping in touch with your children.
    2. Set firm boundaries about how far they can go and when they need to be back (ie they must come back when you call them on the walkie talkie)
    3. Get the a watch.  Both my boys can tell the time now, so I give them a set time to come home
    4. Be prepared that all the children will come to your house with your children, I have squash and ice pops on hand through the summer
    5. Give them access to outdoor toys and activities - My boys have access to their bikes, scooters, balls and bats and we have more than one set as to encourage communal play.
    6. My garden has an open gate policy - I let other children in to my garden as long as their parents know they are allowed.
    7. Start slowly - take them to the park and instead of getting involved stay on the sidelines
    8. Make sure they have your phone number
What next?  Each week over the summer I plan to do a free range summer post.  It might be ideas that your children can use for street games or things to look for at the beach.  I would love for YOU to join in.  Write about how you are letting your children have more freedom over the summer or your plans.  Posts about what they have done would be great too.  Just leave me a comment on my most recently Free Range Summer post and I will add your post in my Free Range Summer weekly round up.  
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Pyjama Pajama Kickstarter Project

Pyjamas without labels that rub, scratch or irritate - tick Pyjama tops that are cool enough to wear as T shirts - tick Pajamas that capture children's imagination and move away from high street character driven ones - tick Pyjamas that have facts on them - tick

This and more is the goals and aims of Pyjama Pajama, a new company who are looking for Kickstarter investment at the moment. As a mum of two boys who spend more time in their PJ's than any other of their clothes and also the mum of one boy with eczema, who has a high sensitivity to labels, I know that this is a wonderful idea. 35e8df69d8446bf8f47c35211d6e1815_large What is a Kickstarter Project?  Kickstarter is a pioneering way to fund creative projects.  Itr is a really simple, but effective model, where you can pledge a certain amount of funding, in this case from £1.   It is a way you can back an idea or business that you feel is going to be something that you are interesting in.  It isn't all about big numbers, it is all about hitting a funding target and providing back to a project.  With kickstarter it is all or nothing.  If the funding amount is not met by the deadline then they do not receive any money.  To date 44% of kickstarter projects have reached their funding goals. What do you get in return?  For a £15 pledge you get a free pair of Pyjama Pajamas For £25 you get two pairs of PJ'sPJ For £60 you get 5 pairs of PJ's To see the full range of incentives, then take a look at the Pyjama Pajama kickstarter information.  I have pledged £25 and am hoping that this project gets all the funding it needs as they will become my boys Christmas Elves PJ's! Disclosure: I am being sent a couple of extra pairs of PJ's if this goes ahead - so get investing! 
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A family trip to Warwick Castle and our tips for a great day out

A couple of weeks ago we took a sneaky Monday off school and visited Warwick Castle for the day (we were offered the tickets in return for a review).   We had a wonderful time and I can safely say Warwick Castle has something for every age, but at 7 and 8 the boys had a super time and we can not wait to go back as we didn't manage to see everything. portculli We arrived at opening time and started our day at 10:30am watching The Raising of the Portculli, which is a great way to learn a little more about Warwicks defences. The boys then decided that they needed to climb the walls before doing anything else.  220 steps do not slow them down at all!  One of the great things about Warwick Castle is the daily shows, so we made sure that we took them all in. trbucet So next on the agenda was watching the firing of the trebuchet. We watched as the  largest working Trebuchet in the world threw its missile over 150 metres! The boys were particularly taken with the human hamster wheel aspect of it! After that wonderful show, we decided to catch the birds of prey, which is called Flight of the Eagles. prey The boys sat opened mouth watching the birds do their thing.  You can also get a closer look at them in their area later if you want to. bowman Next was the Bowman Show.  This is what made my boys want to be archers and beg to have a go (which we did and Maxi is a natural).  It was 12 arrows for £5 or 6 for £3.  You can see the photo's on my Google+ page. We also did Merlin's Tower, which was short, but AMAZING and the boys were smiling about it for the rest of the day and still keep telling everyone about it. The adventure playground is great and perfect for larger children, not just the littlest one. We had a great day, the only down sides for us where that we couldn't fit it all in and that the food  and service at the Coach House Family Restaurant was really poor.  Our meals were not brought out together and everyone had finished before mine was delivered to the table, inspite of us asking where it was three times (it was only soup and a roll, so I do not understand why it was so hard). It was even more infuriating, as there was only three tables in use and all the rest were left with the detritus of precious visitors. Our Top Tips
  1. Get their early and book your tickets (free but timed entry) for any thing like the Princess Tower
  2. Do the same for any paid activities, including Merlin Tower and the Dungeons.
  3. Buy a refillable hot drink voucher. It was £7, but my boys love hot chocolate and it cost £2.25, so soon paid for itself with that and our teas and coffees.
  4. See the free shows, they really make the castle come to life.
  5. You can not do it all in one day if you see the shows.  We didn't get to do the dungeons or the Kingmaker exhibition, but are looking forward to returning
  6. Book in advance online, that way you get a discount.
  7. Keep an eye out for the special events online - We are really looking forward to the Horrible Histories Stormin Summer event, which runs from 20th July to 1st September.
Where to stay: We stayed at at Chesford Grange hotel, which was delightful and less than ten minutes driving time to the castle.  The hotel is set in 17 acres of stunning green Warwickshire countryside, so there’s plenty of room the children to have a good old run after any travel and the hotel also has a brilliant pool with designated family splash times, so the kids can enjoy themselves in the pool .  My boys cooled off after our journey in the pool which is open till 9pm each evening. pool Our family room was spacious and the beds were comfortable, so we all managed to get a great nights sleep followed by a superb breakfast.  Children are well catered for in the hotel restaurant with a nutritious “Quackers” menu and we had a "Quackers" activity pack left in the room for each of the boys.
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Too busy having fun to photograph it

This weekend was filled with super family fun, but if you looked at my instagram stream or camera you would think we spent it doing nothing.  We were so busy doing, playing, making that I didn't take any pictures!
  1. Alvin's first walk and then many a subsequent walks.
  2. A house and garden filled with 11 children
  3. Cricket, more cricket and a little more cricket
  4. Salad sandwiches from the garden
  5. Planting peas and tying up ones that are growing well
  6. Weeding
  7. Washing and hanging out washing in the garden
  8. A trip to the seaside with fish and chips and lemon top ice creams
  9. Movie night
  10. Lawn mowing
  11. book reading
  12. Early morning LEGO building
  13. plotting and planning
  14. Den building
  15. Hide and seek
  16. Letter writing
  17. Roast dinner
So I am going to leave you with the only photo I took all weekend tom
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Summer Manifesto 2013

The sun has been shining, so I do not think that I am tempting fate too much by posting this years Summer Manifesto.  This is my personal Manifesto and a family one will be posted when I can tie the boys down long enough to discuss one! It has been nearly two years since I started doing seasonal quarterly manifestos and they have been positively transformational.  I can look back at my plans, they are achievable, measurable, specific and do not leave me feeling as though I have mountains to climb.  They give me the opportunity to review my short term goals and aims.  They enable me to focus on living in the moment whilst still looking forward. Firstly I need to review my spring manifesto 2013
  • Sow some seeds for the raised beds.  MadDad is the green fingered one, but I do love plotting and planning with him - Done, we have potatoes, peas, beans, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, sprouts and lettuce all planted.
  • Get on my bike.  I still haven’t felt able and I really want to join the boys on theirs this spring - Still to do 
  • Take more photographs with all of us in.  I need to make a conscious effort to get in the picture.  I have even bought a remote control for the camera - I really need to focus on this more, so will be putting this on the summer list 
  • Take the boys to park after school now the weather is improving - Done on a regular basis, this is something that we all benefit from 
  • Sort out the conservatory/playroom.  The train table is about to collapse and we need to find some new storage for board games and a coffee table on a very tight budget. - Done, we kept an eye on ebay and found the perfect table! 
  • Keep sewing and book some more day courses - Sewing is my me time and I am doing another day course on Saturday 
maxi slide Summer Manifesto 2013
    • Continue to find time for the things I enjoy whilst the boys are off school - sewing etc.  I am going to try some English paper piecing as it is portable so I can do it if we are at the park etc.
    • To go out more as a family.  Getting Alvin is all part of this plan and seems to be working up till now.
    • Make a family summer bucket list.
    • Practice my crochet.  After over two years of trying I think I might have cracked it!  I made a coaster!
    • Menu plan - Menu planning save me money, time, effort and makes us all happier.  This is something that has slipped recently, so I am going to endeavor to do this weekly.
    • Declutter.  Both the boys want their bedrooms changing round, so I'm going to do a boot sale and also clear the garage over the summer (yes, really!).
    • Go camping with the boys .
    • Realise that we do not have to have a strict summer schedule to enjoy the summer.  I want the boys to get board and learn to make their own entertainment.
    • Get fitter and healthier. Lose weight and exercise more.  I know that small changes can make a big difference.  I am looking at investing in some fitflop shoes from Shoetique in the hope that they help my back and improve my balance (which is something that has been out pretty much since I had the mastectomy.
    • To turn off more.  Less electronic time, more family time.
    • Have a family picnic once a week.  There is nothing wrong with doing this on a school evening.  We need to get out more and this would be a great way to connect as a family.
What are your goals and aims for the summer? 3.
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