Monday, 16 September 2019

Our Choc-tastic Visit to The Kandy Factory

Our chocolatey dreams came true a few weeks ago! During the summer holidays, we were lucky enough to be invited along to experience a chocolate making workshop at The Kandy Factory in Burton-on-Trent.

Situated upstairs in Burton's Victorian Market Hall, is an open-plan space where the magic is created! We were greeted on arrival by friendly staff and the children were kitted out in hair nets and aprons.

Look how clean they were at the start!
After choosing the creations they wanted to make from the display cases, the kids were given all the moulds they would need. My son chose to copy the beach scene, and my daughter decided upon a teddy bear world! They were each given a chocolate bar mould too.

A few minutes later, the children were brought 2 warm, melted bowls of milk chocolate and a little cupcake case full of decorations. They were allowed to have a little taste of the chocolate before spooning it into the chocolate bar mould, and personalising it with small sweets, chocolate buttons, cereals and sprinkles.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

A Rainbow After the Storm

Dear friends,

A lot has changed here since I last wrote. Little did I know that, one sunny day at the beginning of June, my whole life would take on a new direction.

After almost 15 years of being with my husband (7 of them married), he took the decision to end our relationship. The reasons are personal, but what followed would be the hardest, most devastating and emotional time of my life.

In that moment, I felt my entire world collapse around me. What would the future hold for me and my 2 young children? All my dreams and hopes for my family going forwards were shattered. Gone. My heart was broken, so much so that I felt I couldn't breath. The pain in my chest so immense, I couldn't even stand up straight. I cried so many tears I could taste the salt in the air.

In the weeks that followed, I fell apart inside... but kept it together on the outside. Many people never suspected a thing. For the first time though, I suffered from the effects of anxiety and ended up having to take time off work. There was no way I could concentrate on the education and welfare of others when I could barely look after myself.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

A Raving Good Time! Happyface Family Rave Review

On Sunday 9th June, my family and I went out for an afternoon with a difference! Imagine the scene - club classics from the 90s being played by a nightclub DJ, colourful flashing lights and glowsticks shining brightly, a dancefloor filled with revelers wearing UV facepaints and neon clubwear, everyone with their hands up in the air...

No, we didn't accidentally step back in time to our raving days, although it certainly felt like it! In fact, we introduced our two young children (almost 6 and 3 1/2) to the nostalgia of a family rave - Happyface Family Rave to be exact! This was a rave with a difference - a Sunday afternoon dance party for adults and children to enjoy together!

The event was imagined and brought to life by local man Nick Madeley and his team of dedicated organisers. You can read our preview post to find out about the background to this launch event, but don't forget to pop back here to find out how it went on the day!

In preparation for the family rave, we bought some themed T-Shirts to wear! My hubby is not one for dressing up so we kept them quite tame! The kids chose a skeleton and a unicorn doing the "Dab" - a popoular dance move bought to my son's attention by the game Fortnight! Hubby twinned with our son and I picked a slightly more nostalgic design (think, "big fish, little fish, cardboard box!")... but forgot to get a photo of me in it! (As is often the way for us mums/chief photo-takers, hey?!)

Monday, 27 May 2019

Phonics Fun with Mrs Mactivity: Phase Five Activity Pack

(Review / Gifted)

I can't believe the school year is almost over! My son is quickly coming to the end of Year One and will soon be taking his Phonics Screening Check. As I also teach Year One, revising all we have learnt in phonics is high on the agenda both at home and at school!

Phonics is the systematic approach to learning to read and spell, with the 44 phonemes (sounds) being taught in different phases throughout Reception and Year 1.

By the end of Year 1, children are given a Phonics Screening Check to assess whether they have mastered the basic phonics system, and identifies any areas they need help with as they go into Year 2. It checks that your child can:
  • Sound out and blend graphemes (the letter/letters that represent a sound) in order to read simple words.
  • Read phonically decodable one-syllable and two-syllable words, e.g. cat, sand, windmill.
  • Read a selection of nonsense words which are referred to as pseudo (or alien) words.
When your child learns phonics, they will also be taught "tricky words." I wrote a post explaining why these words are classed as tricky, and how you can help your child learn tricky words in a fun, multisensory way, which is full of easy ideas.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Happyface Family Rave: A Preview

(Ad / Preview)

Get your glowsticks out and your neon facepaint on, because on Sunday 9th June Happyface Family Rave is coming to town... and we can't wait!

I'm always on the look out for fun, family events that we can all enjoy, so when I saw this one I instantly knew it would be right up our street! I spent many a Friday and Saturday night during my teens and twenties, raving the night away, glowsticks in hand, dayglow trousers and fluffy boots on, dancing to club classics! I'll have to dig you out a photo...(or not)!

So what is the Happyface Family Rave all about? Nick, the event organiser explains;

"With a nod to the smiley culture of the 80s and 90s, Happyface Family Rave embodies the spirit of a rave experience but with that ‘fun for all the family’ festival vibe; where adults and kids alike can get down and bust some moves on the dancefloor in a nightclub environment!"

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Bloggers Behind the Screens: "Our Blogs" Featuring Dirt, Diggers and Dinosaurs

Bloggers Behind the Screens is a monthly interview series, where fellow bloggers come together to answer a series of questions on a specific theme. This is a chance to get acquainted with a whole range of bloggers, some of whom you may not have encountered before, and learn a little more about them!

This month, we’re talking to bloggers about the very thing that makes them bloggers. Their blogs. I’m hosting Emma from Dirt, Diggers and Dinosaurs.

1. When did you start blogging and why?

I started blogging on a hormone induced whim in Aug 2018 when I was 7 months pregnant. I needed a creative output as I'd recently gone on maternity leave from my little craft business. I have always enjoyed writing and thought I would give it a go in the hope it would stop the baby brain…it didn't!

2. How did you come up with the name for your blog?

As I was writing from a parenting perspective I wanted something that summarised what being a mum of young boys was really I glanced down at my living room carpet and low and behold Dirt, Diggers and a lot of Dinosaurs were looking back up at me.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Wonderful Woodland Fun with Well Natured - Explore. Learn. Outdoors

(Review - Gifted)

If you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise! Hidden away, just off the beaten track in the beautiful grounds of Rudyard Lake (in the Staffordshire Moorlands), you'll find a miniature woodland wonderland waiting to be explored!

Well Natured - Explore. Learn. Outdoors is run by Nicola, who has a background in education and working with children. She has recently taken the brave step to put her lifelong passion and dreams into action and create a magical, outdoor, multisensory learning experience for young adventurers.

I asked Nicola what her motivation was for starting up her woodland stay and play sessions (suitable for early walkers up to 4 years of age) -

"I have always had a love of the great outdoors, having had lots of exposure as a child on long country walks and bird watching with my parents and nana. Something I continued to do once I had a family and in schools setting up nature clubs. It was whilst completing my degree I discovered forest schools and the benefits of outdoor learning. Since then, I have continued to read more research and discover the benefits to children’s well being. More than ever now children spend much more time using technology and children’s access to outdoors is decreasing because of this. I feel that children are so much happier and creative when the walls are removed!"

We had the pleasure of joining Nicola on one of her exciting sessions this week, to try out all of the activities she had on offer - and we were not disappointed! I'll let the photos tell the story of our afternoon...

Monday, 29 April 2019

Fun Ways with Food for Fussy Eaters

You may already know that my children are picky eaters. It never used to be this way! They were both weaned on homecooked meals, but at the age of about 3 (for both of them) things changed! Cooking family meals became a fruitless, frustrating task and so much food was wasted! Fishfingers became my best friend, and the saviour of my sanity! Would my fussy eaters ever try new foods again?

My son, now almost 6, has been a bit better since having hot meals at school but if he gets a choice he'll pick the sandwich option or jacket, beans and cheese! My daughter has just started being picky, which came as a surprise because she's always been a good eater. She would eat sausage and mash every night if she could!

So mealtimes have become a new kind of adventure in my house! I'm not really sure why... maybe I've let them get their own way too often, or been too quick to just cook what I know they would eat. Sometimes this can end up being two different meals, or dinners with different accompaniments!

Anyway, I reached breaking point this week - almost 2 weeks into the school holidays, trying to placate two kids with different tastes, three meals a day, without losing the will to live (or cook...)! So, I had a rethink and pulled out a Gruffalo themed cook book I bought on a whim last year! The children were instantly excited as they love the Gruffalo stories so they picked a couple of recipes they liked the look of. Good start!