My Ladybird collecting obsession is now at the stage where I have to carry round in my handbag two little notebooks containing a list of all the Ladybird titles in my collection, arranged by series. Otherwise it seems I can no longer remember which ones I have or which ones I just dream of having. Against each series I also have a tally number so that I know just how many there are out there in the series. Ladybird were a bit strange in that they had several series where there was only one or two titles, yet other series that had many more.

Ladybird Scouts

One series that is exactly the right size is series 706 which consists of books covering the Scouting and Guide movements. Looking at the listings on the rear covers it seems that the two books on Cub Scouts and Scouts were published first and then later joined by the Brownie Guides and Guides titles. For over a year now, three of these titles have sat on my shelf, but it was only a couple of weeks ago that I managed to get my hands on a copy of Scouts in one of my local charity shops.

Ladybird Scouts

First published in 1971 Scouts covers everything from the history of the Scouting and Guiding movements through to world Scouting and the badges that boys could work towards.

Ladybird Scouts

Over the years there’s no doubt that the Scouting movement has changed significantly. Just the fact that girls are now allowed to become Scouts and Cubs is a huge difference from what it used to be like. I also had to laugh when I read all about the role of Chief Scout. Up until 1971 all chief Scouts of the UK and Commonwealth were Lord someone or other (Lord Baden-Powell 1908 – 1941, Lord Somers 1941 – 1944, Lord Rowallan 1945 – 1959 and Lord Maclean 1959 – 1971) and Lord Maclean only stood down from the role when the Queen made him Lord Chamberlain. His successor was Sir William Gladstone, great grandson of the former Prime Minister. They’re all a long way away from the likes of Peter Duncan and Bear Grylls, but I bet I know which ones can relate better to young Scouts of today!

Ladybird Scouts

The world of Scouting is something of a mystery to me. When I was a girl they were just the boys that you sometimes saw when away at Guide camp but otherwise had no real interaction with. Their badges always seemed somewhat exotic and they always appeared to have more fun on their camps and trips than Guides ever did, and do far more exciting stuff. Both Little Miss C and Master C are already on the Beavers waiting list locally (yet another thing that didn’t exist when this Scouts book was written!) and I’m therefore expecting that I may have to swot up somewhat on how Scouting works. This book may end up being more useful than I’d initially realised!

Ladybird Scouts

If you have a collection of old Ladybird books then please feel free to join in with Ladybird Tuesday. There are no formal rules to follow, just leave a link to any post you write in the comments below and if you’re feeling kind link back to my Ladybird Tuesday category here on Being Mrs C. Thanks!

Before having children I had a dream about how I wanted to bring them up. Inspired greatly by SouleMama I dreamed of long days with them playing outside in all weathers, ignoring anything with an electronic screen in favour of spending hours and hours lost in games of their own imaginations. The reality is a little bit different, but I do still try to take things back to the simpler way of doing things and to encourage Little Miss C in particular to just let her imagination lead her play whenever it can.

Fafu Wings and cone hat

I’m always on the look out for products and brands that work in this way – especially looking for toys that are created to really support a child’s learning and play, whilst also being environmentally friendly. When I was introduced to Fafu I found myself sat at my computer screen shouting “Yes, yes. This is what I want!” The kids thought I was bonkers, but hey what’s new?

Take a look at this and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Fafu are a small company who really do take the business of play seriously whilst also injecting loads of fun. The team behind Fafu sound fascinating, and with Tom’s 40 years’  experience of working with children, and his work on early brain development, it makes sense as to why their product are so completely spot on. And if you just look at his profile photo of him on a swing you just know that this guy is serious fun to play with.

So what do Fafu produce? Firstly there is the most amazing range of costumes for children. Rather than being prescriptive fairy, princess or superhero costumes though these brightly coloured items are designed for children to decide what they want them to be. They can easily create skirts, cloaks, tails, tents, hats, trumpets, wings and so much more. And the bold colours mean that they work perfectly for families where you have boys and girls.

We were sent the Iminda Leikur Creative Play Costume set to review and from the second LMC opened the bag with it in (it all comes in a handy zip up bag for easy storage – a genius idea in itself) she loved it. Possibly the only slight problem we had is that she instantly insisted on taking off all her clothes to put the costume on. Maybe it’s all the natural materials (organic cotton, silk and wool made by Fafu’s fair trade producer in Nepal) but she just seems to need it all next to her skin rather than on top of her normal clothes. Needless to say whilst this is wonderful, and is a sure sign of her totally embracing her imagination in play, it’s not very helpful when you’re trying to take photographs for a review blog post!  So, apologies for the lack of photos in this post – including a semi-naked four year old didn’t exactly seem like the right thing to do.

Fafu cloak poncho

This costume set includes silk wings, a cape/poncho, a cone hat, two silk scarves and a pair of ribbon bracelets and LMC has worn it in so many different combinations over the last month or so. She’s been a queen, a superhero, a frog and a pixie to name but a few. At first she was puzzled and confused and kept asking me how she was supposed to wear or use things and what they were supposed to be. It was almost as if she couldn’t quite get her head around the idea of it not being a costume to dress up a a prescribed thing or role. Once she’d relaxed into this idea of it being what she wanted it to be she was much happier.

As if the costumes aren’t marvellous enough there is also a Fafunian Wood range which I am quite simply lusting after right now.

Fafu Adventure Castle Fafu Outdoor Kitchen

The outdoor kitchen and adventure castle are brilliant for the kids, but my favourite has to be the Arts and Crafts Centre.

Fafu Arts and Crafts Centre

I need this in my life! How brilliant would it be to have all the kids arts and crafts materials in one place and accessible to them so easily. I may have to get saving for this one. And then possibly redesign the whole house around fitting it in!

Disclaimer: We were sent the Fafu Iminda Leikur Creative Play Costume to review. All views are our own. We were not asked to write about the Fafunia Wood range, but wanted to as it looks so fantastic.

Fafunia Wood images used from the Fafu website.

PowerOfSoft

I can’t pretend it isn’t happening any more. Little Miss C’s pre-school days are well and truly over. She’s been in Reception now for over a week and, although they’re not up to doing full days yet, there’s no doubt that she’s very ready for it. Rather than having a pre-schooler and a baby at home I have a school girl and a nearly pre-schooler. Master C will turn two in a couple of weeks time. How on earth did that happen so fast? In my head I still think of myself as a new parent, yet actually we’ve had over four years experience at this parenting lark now.

With two children I find that time has just speeded up even more and sometimes it feels like you blink and the kids have just grown up and changed within seconds. With digital cameras and camera phones I do take lots of photographs to try to keep track of what they were like at different stages, but it’s also important to make sure you make the most of now, rather than just spending all the time trying to capture it digitally.

Fairy Non Bio have launched their #PowerOfSoft campaign to encourage parents to make the most of those super soft and special moments with your little ones, as they grow up so quickly.

I’m lucky that LMC still loves snuggling up on the sofa for a cuddle and Master C has recently learnt how to say “cuggle” and it’s lovely to watch him embracing his cuddly dog as he shouts “cuggle cuggle!” If I’m really fortunate he even runs over to me and requests one. I realise these days won’t last forever though and I’m determined to make the most of every precious moment.

There are three more years before Master C heads to school (he’s a September baby so will be nearly 5 by the time she goes to school) and whilst I will admit that there are some days that I wish school would come along sooner, I think it’ll be most strange when I don’t have that cheeky little fellow following me around all day and making me smile. Between now and then I really want to make the most of that time we have together and make sure that I don’t just watch it all from behind a camera.

Make sure you make the most of those little ones being little. Those days may be difficult at times, but they certainly don’t last for ever.

Disclaimer: This featured post was brought to you in association with Fairy Non Bio.

Robin Hood Outlawed

Oh my – there are some varied Ladybird books joining my collection right now. I have to admit that there are some that I am more fond of than others, but it’s still fascinating to see how my collection is growing, and what is available when in local charity shops.

Robin Hood Outlawed

This week on Ladybird Tuesday I’m looking at Robin Hood Outlawed. Now, these Robin Hood books were part of series 740, called Classics, and were a sub-series of 4 titles which came under the Robin Hood Adventures banner. Whilst this book has a copyright date in it of 1978, I think this is actually a later version, possibly 1981, with a different cover design. I found some older versions of this title in a charity shop once, but unfortunately they were wanting over £12 for them and my budget just doesn’t stretch that far right now. I’m also not totally sure what overlap there was, if any, with series 549, which was entitled Robin Hood. More research is definitely required here.

Robin Hood Outlawed

Robin Hood holds a certain amount of fascination for me – mainly because as I child I often went to Sherwood Forest with my parents, and my mum still lives locally. No one seems entirely sure as to whether Robin really existed or not, but there’s no doubt that the story of his has remained popular through the ages, and many children are still familiar with it.

Robin Hood Outlawed

In Outlawed there are actually three short stories about Robin: Robin is Outlawed, Robin meets Little John and Robin meets Friar Tuck. Each tells the story that the title suggests.

Robin Hood Outlawed

As is the case with some of these Classics books, this is actually a very text heavy Ladybird title. Whilst there is an illustration (by Bernard Brett) on each double page spread they are sometimes quite small ones, just there to break up all the text.

Robin Hood Outlawed

If you have a collection of old Ladybird books then please feel free to join in with Ladybird Tuesday. There are no formal rules to follow, just leave a link to any post you write in the comments below and if you’re feeling kind link back to my Ladybird Tuesday category here on Being Mrs C. Thanks!

Speech and Language Therapy

I did warn you that our summer got a bit more boring once we were back from Cornwall and day 19 was a fine example of that. Mr C returned to work after a week off and I headed out with the kids to a local drop in Speech and Language Therapy session. Today was the day that I needed to tackle one of the first of the contradictions that came out on the first day of the summer, when I met with Master C’s nursery to discuss the problems we’re having.

They felt that there may be a need for him to have some speech and language therapy, something which really surprised me. Master C’s language is, I think, about 9 months behind where Little Miss C was at the same age. I’d put much of that down to him being a boy, a second child, having an older sister who talks a lot and them just being different people. It certainly hadn’t concerned me at all. Until now.

LMC started talking and walking, confidently, just a few days after her first birthday. Master C started walking at pretty much the same time, but his speech has been much much slower and I frequently wonder whether much of his frustrations come from not having language to explain himself or get what he wants. We talk and read to him loads, but I’d just assumed it would come in time. What I hadn’t really paid much attention to was the way that he doesn’t always complete or start words fully. So “bus” had become “bu”. LMC had never done that, but Master C certainly does. Nursery felt this was a concern, along with the fact that he just didn’t seem to say much at all whilst here, so they recommended I take him along to a new local drop in Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) session which our NHS has set up in conjunction with the local children’s centres.

The idea of these sessions is that if you have any concerns you just take your little one along, the team assess him quickly and then decide if he needs a referral or not, and if so they take it from there. So much more convenient than getting to see a HV or GP first, getting a referral even if it might not be needed and taking up a slot that another child could have needed more.

What was good was that Master C completely engaged with the SALT team and showed off exactly what I know he is capable of. Along with his sister he played nicely, said lots and repeated back words that were said to him. They acknowledged that he doesn’t always start or complete words fully, but the sounds that he is missing are ones that not all children have until they are 3 – 4 years old, so I didn’t need to worry right now. A huge relief.

It was really useful to be able to talk to the team there though and explore with them other areas associated with his refusal to eat, and they gave me some other good pointers of things to explore further which I’m still following up now. There are times when you just want to say a huge thank you to the NHS and local children’s centres for having drop in sessions like this which are not only convenient to go to, but make the services that they have so much more accessible than they often seem.

So, after coming away from there feeling very relieved and somewhat clearer headed too the rest of the day passed rather simply. A trip to a local playground, stopping to pick up some milk and then home to a mountain of laundry that we were still working our way through and for the kids to reacquaint themselves with all the toys that they’d forgotten we owned whilst away. Sometimes simple days really are the best.

Ben and Holly Magical Playground Playset

Little Miss C loves watching Ben and Holly on TV and since buying a magazine with free Ben and Holly toys on a while back has regularly been acting out Ben and Holly stories. When I received an email about the new Ben and Holly Magical Playground Playsets that were being released I just knew that she’d love to help me review them.

There are three Magical Playground Playsets, a slide, a roundabout and a swing, and we were sent the roundabout and swing ones to review. Each playset comes with a Holly figure, which appears to be fine, but LMC’s first questions was “Where’s Ben?” When I explained that the set only came with a Holly character she then proceeded to tell me that Holly would be lonely on her own and needed someone to play with. Fair point I guess. As we were reviewing two of the playsets she actually had two (slightly different) Holly toys so she declared that they could play with each other – but she added that they would have preferred to have Ben to play with.

Ben and Holly Magical Playground Playset

The roundabout playset consists of a spinning pond which contains three separately spinning plants which the Holly figure can stand inside. Inside the plants are two tiny pins which fit into Holly’s feet. It’s not completely necessary that they connect, but it does help with stability.

Ben and Holly Magical Playground Playset

In the swing playset there are two swings for the Holly characters to sit in. The slight problem with these is that to fit Holly in, you actually need to turn her head, as otherwise her hair is simply too wide to fit. The other problems LMC found with the swing is that unless you get Holly seated in it quite right then it tips over and she falls out. It was actually quite difficult for me to get Holly in right and LMC really struggled at times.

Both the playsets clip together to form a bigger playground – and the slide also joins in the same way. They also feature a toadstool which LMC insisted was actually a trampoline (one of her favourite things in our local playground) and the Holly dolls spent a considerable amount of time bouncing on them.

Ben and Holly Magical Playground Playset Ben and Holly Magical Playground Playset

To say that LMC loved these playsets would be an understatement. The weekend they arrived myself and Mr C were going away and left the kids with my sister and her husband. Poor Uncle R was forced to spend hours and hours (literally) playing with the playsets with her. Since then they’ve stayed out on the kids’ play table and she frequently goes back and plays with them, acting out stories. She’s got used to how she needs to put Holly in the swing for it to work properly, and how to make her stand in the roundabout properly. In that usual child-like manner she’s learnt to overlook what we as adults saw as problems with the design, and they’ve certainly not reduced the play-factor for her.

These Ben and Holly magical playground playsets would make a lovely toy for any Ben and Holly fan. They’ve provided hours and hours of fun for LMC and she genuinely loves them. The way the Holly figures fit in is a bit frustrating, but the big improvement that could be made in my opinion is to include a Ben character as well as Holly. After all, as LMC said when we first opened the playsets, Holly would want Ben to play at the playground with.

Disclaimer: We were sent the Ben and Holly Magical Swing and Roundabout Playsets for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

Blackberry Muffins

Blackberries seemed to come really early here this year – back before the schools broke up for summer – so I’ve actually been sitting on this recipe for a while.

One day after school the kids and I went foraging on the local heath and came home with a large bag full of blackberries. Neither of the kids are huge fans of crumble which is what I like to make most with blackberries – combining them with apples from our apple tree – so I went in search of a cake recipe or similar and actually failed to find anything that wasn’t too complicated. I pulled together the following from several different cupcake recipes that I found online.

Blackberry Muffins

Ingredients

  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 200g blackberries
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs

Blackberry Muffins

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  • Set out 12 muffin cases in a tray.
  • Cream the butter and the sugar together in a bowl.
  • Add the eggs and mix.
  • Mix all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl (flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt).
  • In a third bowl place the blackberries and then crush them with a fork or potato masher until all mashed up.
  • Add the milk and vanilla extract to the blackberries.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar and mix.
  • Add the blackberry mixture and continue to stir.
  • Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and cook for approximately 15 minutes (time may vary with different ovens)

Blackberry Muffins

The colour of these muffins is quite simply pretty damn weird, but they taste really nice and they’re a fab way to use up foraged blackberries.

Since Master C was born he’s had our tiny box room as his bedroom. Whilst it was plenty big enough for his cot-bed, a chest of drawers and a chair to sit and give him his milk and stories in, it certainly wasn’t big enough for him to play in it properly. Now that he’s nearly two he’s at that age where he wants to play with his toys more and to have some space to himself. He got into a bit of a habit of just charging into his sister’s room and playing in there instead which was starting to cause a few issues between the two of them. Mr C and I therefore decided that it was time for us to finally give up the double bedroom that we’ve been using as a study and dumping ground for the last two years and instead hand it over to Master C.

Bedroom

There’s been a huge amount of work to get it ready though. The room wasn’t carpeted and hadn’t been decorated in the five years that we’ve owned the house. Mr C has worked like a trooper over the summer to get all that done. All the walls, ceiling and woodwork (and boy is there a lot of woodwork thanks to a built in desk area and alcove wardrobe) have been painted. He took up the old laminate floor (which we gave away on our local Freegle group) and also repaired a few bits of skirting board before we ordered a new carpet.

Bedroom Seating

In terms of furniture we didn’t need to buy much at all. His cot-bed has moved with him from his old room and we shuffled round a few chairs in the house so this Ikea one is now there for story and milk time.

Bedroom

Next to it is this gorgeous little chair that originally belonged to DorkySon. Master C absolutely loves sitting in this chair and reading books, or drinking his milk (which he’s only just started to do on his own). If it’s milk or pre-bed story time though he insists that I sit in the chair next to him. Incredibly cute.

Chest of Drawers

When it comes to clothes storage we were planning on finding him a new set of drawers that he could open more easily himself, but already in the room was this gorgeous chest which Mr C and I bought second hand when we first set up home together. When we had our loft conversion built two years ago we unfortunately couldn’t get them upstairs so they remained in our study. The plan was to move them to the bottom of the garden to my sewing cabin, but we have a slight problem in that it seems we can’t get them downstairs now either! The way the new stairs were put in for the loft means that the head height is reduced from what it was and they just won’t go round the corner at all. It looks like we might have to sell them with the house one day. They don’t exactly fit in with his room, but there’s not much else we can do about it!

Bookcase

The bookcase was an old one that Mr C’s father gave us. A boring looking dark wood office style one that I then attacked with some paint to upcycle it into something suitable for Master C. The main body is now red and the shelves are alternate blue and white. Much more in keeping with a little boy’s room

Dinosaur Curtains Dinosaur Curtains

We managed to find these cute dinosaur curtains in our local Dunelm and I love the dino print on them so much that I also picked up a set of three dino pictures (which we still need to actually hang up!) and a storage box too which we use for his Duplo.

Dinosaur Storage

Train Wall Sticker

On the wall above his cot-bed is one of Master C’s favourite things – his train wall sticker. Every since Mr C put it on the wall he woken each morning and shouted the word “train” and pointed at it as soon as we come into his room. Even throughout the day he’ll point it out regularly to everyone with accompanying shouts of “choo-choo!”

Train Wall Sticker

I’ve not really been one to go in for wall stickers before, but when asked if I’d like to review this one for mywallstickers I jumped at the chance as I knew it was something that Master C would love. Mr C found it relatively easy to put up, with good instructions. He said that it was a bit tricky at first to work out what you were doing, but once you had it sussed it was easy and the instructions made sense. The backing paper on both sides added to the confusion, so do read the instruction carefully and slowly. It looks very professional on the wall, no air bubbles at all and has certainly livened that wall no end. There appears to be a small bit of clipping to the cattle pusher at the front of the train, but I’m not sure if that’s part of the design or not.

Bedroom

We’re really pleased with the way the whole room has come together and Master C seems to love it. He plays in there loads now and doesn’t charge into his sister’s room nearly so much. Everyone comments on how nice the room is too.

It just leaves us with the next DIY job – turning the box room (Master C’s old room) into a study big enough for two of us. Trying to plan this one is turning out to be quite tricky.

Disclaimer: We were sent the train wall sticker to review. Everything else seen was bought ourselves.

 

As a family who loves books it seemed natural that when I was pregnant with Master C we introduced Little Miss C to a selection of books all about there being a new baby in the family. By the time Master C was born she was pretty comfortable with the idea of a baby and had a good idea of what was going to happen with the new tiny baby.

But, as we all know, babies grow up. They learn to crawl and move around. They become toddler. Suddenly the older sibling’s possessions aren’t safe any more and their younger brother or sister just wants to join in with everything they’re doing. For us this stage was much more difficult than when we brought a new baby into the house. After all a new baby stays where they’re put and apart from feeding and screaming doesn’t actually require as much attention or interaction as a slightly older child.

I therefore read Lauren Child, of Charlie and Lola fame’s, new book The New Small Person with LMC with great interest as to how she would relate to the story. Much like LMC herself, Elmore Green started life as an only child, but all that changed when “the new small person” arrived.

Once the new small person was big enough he started messing with Elmore Green’s toys, demanding to watch shows for small people on the television, and even wearing Elmore’s fourth most favourite outfit without asking. The new small person wanted to copy everything Elmore did and on one awful day even moved their bed into Elmore’s bedroom. Elmore Green was not happy.

One night though everything changed. Elmore had a bad dream and the new small person was there to comfort him. Then the new small person actually stared to play with Elmore. He understood how important it was to Elmore to line up all his precious things so they reached from his bedroom door all the way down the stairs.

That stage of a sibling relationship when they finally start to actually enjoy each other’s company is a precious one, and one which I really hope we are starting to reach. In the meantime I think LMC now has a bit more of an understanding that her brother isn’t really going to ruin all her games and everything she wants to do forever. He will grow up and will start to understand better that it’s not really fair to destroy the beautiful way she’s set up all her Playmobil characters. I know this stage won’t last forever, but it is exhausting and frustrating for the whole family.

I loved The New Small Person for the simple reason that it was the first time that I’ve seen this particular stage of that sibling relationship captured so perfectly. As a book it’s really helped our family and I would definitely recommend it for any older sibling that’s currently struggling with their little brother or sister. Lauren Child’s familiar style will definitely appeal, especially to any little Charlie and Lola fans.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of The New Small Person for the purposes of this review. This post contains affiliate links.

After a week of days out and lots and lots of excitement it’s no surprise that returning home was a bit of a shock to the system.

It rained. Lots. There was loads of laundry to do. Literally. And the kids claimed to be bored. Proof it was needed that school holidays aren’t just a long series of blissful days in the sunshine.

Mr C wanted to crack on with decorating Master C’s new bedroom, so I headed into central St Albans with the kids and took them to Waterstones where staff were doing a Julia Donaldson story time. Little Miss C enjoyed it, but after a week of running around outdoors Master C had no interest at all in sitting still.

Once we were back home Master C did finally agree to go down for a nap which allowed LMC to get her science experiment set out on the kitchen table. She had fun making a volcano, even if it did mean the kitchen stank of vinegar for the rest of the day.

Chemistry Experiment

It’s funny that first day back from holiday. In a way you’re glad to be home and sleeping in your own bed, but at the same time you’re sad no longer being on holiday. When the first day back is on the weekend, without the usual weekday routines, it can been even more strange.