Walking In A Winter Wonderland At Enchanted Winter Garden

We were very kindly invited to a preview night of Enchanted Winter Garden at Antrim Castle Gardens yesterday. I have never been before. Mainly due to the fact that I am a disorganised person in general and always leave it too late to get tickets. But my sister goes every year and I’m always so jealous of the festive pictures she manages to get. If I had of got myself in gear last year, I would have had a lovely December picture for the calendar I print for my mum each year. Who am I kidding? Three of them looking at a camera simultaneously? A mum can but dream…

Baby was mesmerised from the second we set foot inside. The whole place is awash with colour and lights. At every turn there was something new to see. You want flashing fairies- sorted. You want a huge ferris wheel- sorted. What about a festive train ride that takes you direct to Santa’s workshop? Well, that’s sorted too! There was a multitude of rides catering to all ages. Baby seemed utterly petrified of them all however, bar the train ride and ferris wheel. To be fair he is at that stage where anything that involves him having to leave my side makes him get on like I’ve just sold him to a stranger!

They have an array of food choices too. Slightly expensive however, so empty their money boxes before going (just kidding, as if I’d ever do that). A burger at the stall we chose cost £6 and a kids meal £5. The food was delicious however and the portions big. I noticed too late that they had a fire pit that you could toast marshmallows on (at a cost). That would have made the perfect Christmas dessert.

Baby loved going on the “choo choo!” to visit Santa. This was great as it served to build up the excitement, for me more than anyone. Inside the workshop, there were lots of animatronic displays to observe whilst they eagerly awaited their turn to meet Santa. Baby wasn’t overly fussed on St Nicolas and got on the same way he did about some of the rides. I mean, if I was going to sell him to anyone, surely he should be happy that I was selling him to the CEO of the biggest toy factory in the world? He did come round however when offered some chocolate buttons.

I can’t even begin to describe this place properly and give it the credit it so rightfully deserves. It truly is magical in every way. At every corner, you are greeted with a new scene and different characters inhabiting them. All that whilst basking in beautiful surroundings and shimmering lights.! I totally felt like I was at that London one you see plastered all over social media at this time of year. A PSA to Simon Cowell: have you considered visiting Antrim this Christmas instead?

The only downside for me was Eldest and Middle not being there to experience it. I know they would have loved it and I would have loved seeing their reaction to it also. It’s definitely something you should do with your whole family. Unfortunately, they were too busy screaming “oh yes he is” to May Mcfettridge at the panto. Once home, Middle was positively fuming when I showed him my pictures. He growled at me “if you don’t take me to that place next year Santa will bring you no presents as you are a bad girl”. Don’t worry son, this mamma isn’t being put on any naughty list. Well, hopefully Santa hasn’t seen what mummy did to your money boxes (oh no she didn’t)……

Enchanted Winter Garden takes place from Friday 6th December to Sunday 22nd December and is open from 4:30pm – 9:30pm. Tickets cost £4 per adult and £2 per child (children under two are free) note that these prices are if booked in advance. A family ticket is £15. Tickets can be purchased here: http://www.enchantedwintergarden.com If you don’t prebook, prices are £6 for adults and £4 per child. So pre-book! Note that the event will be closed Mon 9th December to Wed 11th and also on the 16th and 17th (the fairies need to recharge their batteries). Check out my Instagram for even more pics and things I don’t post on Facebook : https://www.instagram.com/youandmeplusthreex/

Meeting Santa
What? No yogurts on the menu?
Wanted to go on this so badly but Baby had other ideas…
You know I like to tell you prices for prep purposes!

Nightmares

Last night the kids were sound asleep and I had just settled down to take my make up off (after tidying up their carnage). Suddenly I heard a familiar sound. Footsteps up above. Footsteps that for someone so small, should resemble a ballerina pivoting on a cloud yet sounded like an elephant trapped in a jumper. They all have their own sounds and I can tell who it is immeadiately by footstep sound alone. Middle was up!

Upon his descent from the stairs, it became apparent that he was highly upset. “What’s wrong I asked?” whilst scooping him up into my arms. “I had bad dream” he informed me through sporadic sobs. “Oh no! Come and tell mummy” I soothed. He sat calmly on my knee and began to divuldge his dream. “A really bad guy was trying to freeze me mummy!” he advised. “He turned off all my lights because he was so bad” he added. This is quite apt as he has spent two weeks now turning on every light in the house no matter what the time and I have found myself yelling “it’s like Blackpool illuminations up here!”. Yes, I have become that kind of mum. “Dreams aren’t real Owen” I reassured. “They are just your brain playing tricks. Plus, mummy would never let anyone hurt you let alone freeze you” I added whilst cuddling him. He gave me a kiss, looked at me square in the eye and said “the only way to defeat the bad guy was to throw cake at him. So, I think we need to get cake tomorrow mummy”. Um what? “You know, incase he comes back” he stated seriously. Nice try son!

Meanwhile Baby has morphed into a complete and utter nightmare himself. His new thing is throwing every book we own down the stairs, many of which are unfortunately hardback. I’m no sooner bending down to pick them all up when he’s lobbed a Pokemon encyclopedia back down, near knocking me out in the process. No amount of telling off is working as he finds the whole thing hilarious.  His only redeeming quality is the fact that he has started asking to hold Middle’s hand and the two of them dander away together. So cute! There’s nothing better than seeing them actually be loving towards each other. Whilst Middle brings out Eldest’s less serious side, Baby brings out all of their loving/caring sides.

This week and next, we are nativitying. Going by my kid’s past record with these, I can only but hope that all of them pass without any kind of drama or embarrassment. Eldest is highly annoyed that he has been cast in the role of shephard again, Middle is point blank refusing to sing the songs he has been taught as he wants to sing exclusively about tacos and Baby will probably spy me and cry the whole time. I will of course keep you updated on how we fare.

Baby Baby Baby Oh/Mad Middle/Toy Car Gate

Yes I have used a Justin Bieber song lyric as a blog post title. The shame! But it’s totally fitting (I promise).

It was 2am on Tuesday morning and Baby had awoken from his cot. As usual, I gleefully transferred him into my bed for lots of cuddles and kisses. As he lay there, greedily guzzling some milk, I stared lovingly at him. Come 3am I was still staring at him (stalker much?). He looked like a proper little boy and not a baby anymore. I found myself getting all emotional and sentimental. It seems like only yesterday that I was holding his little 6lbs frame in the same bed, glaring at him in disbelief that he was finally here. Where has the time gone? I can’t be dealing with this!

If there was a pause button I would hit it right now, at this exact stage. I love it when their personalities are starting to shine through and they still need you but are becoming more independent. He won’t let me open anything for him these days and insists on trying to dress himself (all of which have varying success rates). He is becoming highly vocal also and his dictation is clear and concise, mainly when voicing his extreme displeasure at his brothers “NO, bro bro!”. This is the worrying stage however as it’s when you start to consider another. How bad could it really be? I imagine very very bad indeed if I end up being a mum to four boys, which is exactly what would happen.

In other news Middle has me entirely exasperated this week. I picked him up on Wednesday from preschool and he was more subdued than usual. He also looked quite sheepish in hindsight. I buckled him into his car seat and off we set for home. “How was your day?” I implored. “Um it good” he replied whilst fiddling with the bottom of his trousers frantically. “What are you doing?” I asked. He threw me daggers then dissolved into giggles. “Me have a car” he replied whilst wielding a black toy car that had seemingly emerged from the bottom of his trousers. “Where did you get that from?” I replied alarmed. He looked at me like I had just uttered the most stupid question ever. “I took it from nursery because I want to play with it at home in my room”. Oh dear god! I pulled the car over and tried to explain the concept of stealing to him. Whilst doing so, he continued to retrieve a further eight cars from every crevice of his trousers! “How many do you have Owen?” I yelled. “Lots AND me have more in my jumper too” he answered proudly. “You can’t just take things from nursery Owen, that is wrong! The other children need to play with them. How did you even manage to smuggle so many up there?”. I asked this for a reason. Mainly as he hadn’t placed them in his pocket like a normal person but had blatantly shoved them all up the bottom of his trousers. “I wait until no one looking and I just put them up there one by one” he answered matter of factly. Surely this was the least inconspicuous method he could have deployed? His trousers are cuffed at the bottom and super tight! How no one managed to observe his shenanigans is beyond me.

Upon returning home, I confiscated his contraband and hid them. I then had to message his teacher and advise that she has a thief in her midst and one of whom was showing zero remorse for his actions. Whilst reprimanding him he kept repeating “but where my cars so I play with them?”. He was not receiving the message at all that what he had done was wrong.

This kid- he literally dances to the beat of his own drum all whilst I scramble to fix the situations he gets himself into. I am also having to strip search him before we leave nursery now as I don’t trust him one iota. So I reckon three kids is more than enough and Baby can stay as my baby. Imagine trying to keep on top of two Middle’s? Um, no thanks!

Clip Climbing And Sliding At High Rise NI!

Yesterday the three boys were invited to test out a new indoor activity centre in Lisburn. A venue that boasts a whole clip n climb section, a soft play area, cafe, and the piece de resistance- sensory rooms!

When we arrived, Middle and Baby set off with my mum to the soft play area whilst myself and Eldest got ready to do some climbing. I hadn’t expected to have an active role in this part but, it looked like too much fun to say no to. We were provided with a safety briefing first and foremost. Eldest was chomping at the bit by this stage but, it’s so important that they know what they are doing (as I later established). We got adorned in our harnesses and off we ventured. I cannot tell you how huge these climbing walls were! They were literally to the roof! Before they can just speed off attempting everything, they must first complete a practice run. Once this is done, they are free to roam and climb their little hearts out. There were so many options that Eldest was running manically from one to the other, completely unable to make a decision. When he finally made one, there was always an attendant on hand to strap him in and supervise him at all times. This placated me and I felt confident that he would be safe at all times.

Then, this mama decided to have a go! Not wanting to be outdone by my firstborn, I decided to climb nearly to the top of one at breakneck speed, glance down and totally panic as to how high up I actually was. I hate heights, why did I even do that? In my moment of sheer terror, I totally forgot the protocol of getting back down. So, I just kind of flung myself down and hoped for the best. I imagine it was not dissimilar to Bridget Jones when she does that piece to camera from the fire station. Entirely ungraceful and highly embarrassing to all who witnessed it. See why the safety briefing is so essential? I would say I have learned a lesson but, there’s no point at all.

Middle and Baby loved the soft play area whilst I was nearly breaking bones. I don’t think my mum knew if she should be watching them or me by this stage as I was being so reckless. There was a baby/toddler area that Baby thoroughly enjoyed dandering around and twirling things and building foam blocks. Middle was running about like a mad man going up and down the different tiers, crawling through tubes and flinging himself down the slide. He didn’t shut up about the slide the whole way home infact.

Just before leaving, I asked to be shown the sensory room. I know that a lot of my followers have children who are autistic and this was important to me before writing any review. They led me to a sensory stimulation room. It was dark to begin with then, gradually made more colorful. This is essential to avoid kids becoming overstimulated. There were things on the floor that children could stand on or touch that looked like paint was splodging, items on the wall that they could play and interact with, a projector, a vibrating plate and lights that they could feel and touch. There is also a separate quiet room. You can pay to use the rooms for an hour or if you would prefer your child/children to be fully alone, you can hire the rooms for the hour too. I think this is such a great approach and shows the level of thought and understanding that has been put into all aspects of this place.

I walked away feeling very impressed. Even more so as it is a social enterprise. So, 100% of their profits go back into helping working families. I think this made me feel much better about buying them a load of drinks and snacks afterward. Because, whatever you spend, you are ultimately helping others. All whilst having fun and, hopefully, some peace and quiet whilst they play!

High Rise NI is based in Blaris Industrial Estate Lisburn. Prices are as follows:

Clip ‘N’ Climb– Adult £12 and Child (under 18) £10, Soft Play– Baby (under 2) £2 and child (up to 8) £5, Sensory Room– Baby (under 2) £2, Child (under 18) £4, Adult £4, Parent or carer £1. Check their website out here: https://highriseni.org/

Yes, this 34 year old scaled one of these!
Always know the price of tea and coffee before you go anywhere….

First Week Finito!

We have survived the first full week of being back to school/preschool and nursery. Woo hoo! Not only this but, I didn’t forget to pick any of them up (yet)! This is in spite of all the different finishing times.

Eldest seem’s to be enjoying P2 despite his initial reluctance to go back. I think being reunited with all his friends is the main reason. As per usual, my pleas of what did you today are responded to with his usual ‘why do you always ask that mum? How am I supposed to remember a FULL day?’. My sincere apologies son for taking an active interest in your life and your education. He also randomly had no homework all week. Whilst this should have been amazing, it caused huge confusion and fear to all us school mums who automatically figured that our kids just weren’t bringing it home. To be fair I’m happy enough to wait for bloody Biff, Chip, and Kipper. I’ve also noticed that his new teacher seems to have a laminating obsession. Which, in a way is good as I can keep them for him and they will stay in good condition, though I am left questioning if most of my school fund money is going purely on laminating sheets.

Middle has managed to keep his clothes on all week at his new preschool and not insult anyone. But, it’s early days. He did try to leave on his very first day with two toys smuggled up his jumper. Apparently they were now his as ‘I played with them the most so, I bring them home now’. He is also point blank refusing to call his teacher ‘Mrs’ and has decided she will be referred to as ‘Mr’ purely because he ‘hates girls’. I don’t know how I am explaining that one to her. So, I guess he can explain himself and she can realise what she will be dealing with going forward. I must admit that his nervousness and clinginess this week have greatly surprised me. He usually just gets on with things and is very independent. But, he has asked each day if I will be staying with him and if not, when I will be back for him. I have secretly loved this as I don’t normally feel needed by him. Today he even came up to me out of the blue and gave me a huge cuddle and told me that he ‘loved me’. This is all so alien but obviously appreciated. I have to remember it is only his first week and it will take some time for him to adjust and settle. I know he will eventually as he has already made so many new friends (boys solely).

Baby has also embarked on a new routine in preparation for me returning to a new role. Because of this, I have had to change the days I usually work and he will be staying much later than usual. On the morning of his new times, it was almost like he sensed a change was coming. He awoke at 5 am and started shouting ‘cuddles’ from his cot. I dutifully adhered. Then, before he left, he just sat on my knee cuddling into me for ten minutes. This led to me spending all day battling the dreaded ‘mum guilt’. I’m not going to lie, I may have sobbed twice because I missed him so terribly. If I had of had my car I would have been straight down to get him. But, it’s important he gets used to these long hours in advance. I wasn’t the only one pining for him either as both the boys constantly enquired as to his whereabouts. The second he came home we all fought to get to him first. You would have thought we hadn’t seen him in weeks (it felt like that). We all got some slobbery kisses, then he did his usual and started pointing at the fridge and demanding a yogurt. I have never known a child so obsessed with yogurts in my life. He would literally eat them all day if I let him.

It’s new and stressful times for our family and I do find myself getting very overwhelmed with everything I have to do each day (literally from the moment I wake up). I have tried to counteract this with CBT. But, in terms of routine, it’s just not possible. Being organised is the only way to get them all out of the door in the morning and I have to do that don’t I? One mum said to me at the school gate the other day ‘it’s crazy all this and I only have two!’. It doesn’t matter how many children you have, it’s all the same. The same stresses and worries, the same organisation, the same mad dash to the school run, the same dates to remember and, the same responsibility that probably falls solely on you. I don’t see any men reading the floods of letters that come home and dutifully writing all the important dates/times in the calendar. There’s so much for us to do each day that I’m not surprised we all have days when we want to lock ourselves in the bathroom and have a sob (and a cup of tea). Like I’ve said before, we are only human. I’m writing that across the calendar in capitals so I remember that as well as all the other important things I’m supposed to.

This also happened this week- no high chair! I’m so emotional about it. He however is loving life!

Managing the Different Personalities

I’m going to level with you. Sometimes I read back my old posts. Purely as a means of reassuring myself that I can find humor amidst the utter bedlam. Whilst reading, I suddenly panicked that people would feel I am harsh to Middle. I’m not, I positively adore his personality and I will explain why. By breaking down the different personalities I deal with on a daily basis.

Eldest is obviously my first born. We share an amazing bond. When I say to him ‘my boy’ he replies ‘my girl’ and has done so since he could talk. Total mummy’s boy. Like me, he is overly sensitive and loving. He always wants ‘huggles’ and if Middle ever says anything awful to me, he is the first to reprimand him in my defense. On the other hand, unlike me, he is very logical and methodical. Quite often he is teaching me things. He absorbs any kind of information whether it be from a book, something he has been told or, tv. If you tell him he is wrong at any time, you can await an explosion of pent up frustration and tears. Clothing too can cause the same effect. He is so particular and there are fights each day. The best thing that ever happened to him was Middle. His little brother has taught him to loosen up a little and have fun, meaning that when they are together, he takes things less seriously.

Middle is totally the opposite of Eldest. Although I did everything the same with him (co-sleeping until he was eight months old) he can take or leave any kind of affection. Mainly leave it. He is not demanding in any way and very independent. Whilst Eldest will spend forever weighing up the pros and cons of certain things, Middle will just go ahead and do them and see what happens. Having fun and being cheeky is his forte. He doesn’t take anything seriously at all. I will admit to finding this endearing if not a tad embarrassing at times. When I am having a particularly bad day, I can always rely on Middle to cheer me up. Whether it’s his complete lack of being able to stay in his bed at night without falling out, him proclaiming to ‘hate girls’ yet spending most of his days shouting ‘girls girls’ to the little one’s next door and the fact that a year later, when I pick him up from nursery, he still says ‘I didn’t pee my pants today- yeah!.’

Baby (can I even still call him that? I’m going to as technically he will always be my baby) is a mixture of both of them. Obviously, it’s hard to tell fully but, I can see his personality traits beginning to emerge. He is very loving. Even more so than Eldest ever was. Random kisses and cuddles are doled out to everyone. He refuses to go to bed each night without having kissed everyone (much to Eldest’s dismay due to the slobbery ones he bestows). But, he also has an enormous temper on him for someone who looks so cute. You can’t give one of the others something without him throwing an absolute hissy fit. Even if he doesn’t like what it is in the first place. He is also prone to jealousy which the others weren’t. If I give one of them a cuddle, he will be straight over crying for me and saying ‘cuddle’. Though, weirdly, he too can take or leave me. Complete man’s man. Shown by his obsession with daddy and papa. He rarely says ‘ma ma’ unless he is in the throes of a fit and still hasn’t got what he wants. I’ve also noticed recently that he is beginning to be quite reckless just like Middle. Flinging himself off things and realising it was a bad idea only afterward. He also picks up on any naughty thing Middle says and try’s to repeat it. Most notably, this week, he too has started shouting at the girl’s next door. Those poor girlies are going to be tortured next summer with two of them doing it.

So see, all entirely different but the same in certain ways. All with their own individual needs and wants, meaning I have to adapt accordingly to each one. I could be dealing with a clothes meltdown from Eldest whilst Middle is flinging himself off the sofa and Baby is throwing a right tantrum because I haven’t given him a Babybel (he hates them anyways). It’s no wonder I’m going slightly mental some days! Not that I would be without any of them or their personalities. The good ones and the bad.

** After I typed this I went to pick Eldest up from his first day at school and Middle and Baby from nursery. Upon getting Baby, he pointed at a little girl. The nursery assistant advised that she had just come up from the baby room and it was her first day in toddler room. I began to fuss over her. Baby danders straight over and slaps her across the face. FML. Pure jealousy from him and embarrassment for mum.**

Summer Summed Up

Well it’s official. The summer holidays are very nearly over. Whilst it has been fun (on occasions), I am ready to get to grips with our new routine. A routine that will involve three drop offs and pick ups at different locations and, at differing times. I’m almost certain I will forget to collect one of them at some stage!

Eldest is back to school on Wednesday and is not one bit happy about the prospect. ‘Are you excited to head back to school this week?’ I enquired of him the other day. ‘Of course not, school is boring and I hate it’. P2 bodes well. I have enjoyed spending time alone with him though have found it difficult to keep him entertained at times. I resorted to arranging play date after play date just so he had company. What I’ve learnt is, play dates with five year old’s are stressful. One minute they are playing nicely and the next they have monumentally fallen out over something stupid like a tv programme. ‘But when I’m at his house he just watches whatever he likes so now he’s at mine, I’m going to watch what I want’. Yeah, that’s not how it works son. I realised, probably later than I should have, that it was best to take them out somewhere and away from the house.

We’ve visited lots of fun, local places this summer. Notably, Hillsborough Castle for a tour, a week in Ballycastle exploring/swimming/non swimming and yesterday we went to the Shoreline Festival. All was going so well until eldest pleaded to go on the bumper cars. One minute in and he was crying profusely. All I could do was yell in a panic (baby on hip) for him to get to the side as I had no way of getting to him through the throng of cars. He had badly hurt himself and was frightened when people kept bumping into him. Once the ordeal was over, he was reflective in a way that only eldest can be. ‘Those adults should not be allowed on the bumper cars mum. It’s like they’ve spent their whole lives going on bumper cars and still crash into kids. Which isn’t fair as for some kids it’s only their first time on one and it’s scary. I don’t think it’s fair or thoughtful of them’. In his defense I do this when on bumper cars too. The kids are much more fun to bump into and sure, it’s only a laugh. But, point taken on board son.

Middle’s last day of his private nursery is Wednesday before taking up his free pre school place next Monday. I feel all emotional about it as he has come on leaps and bounds at it and I am worried about how he will deal with the transition to a new nursery. As you all know he does not lack personality and is also in pocession of a rather rude vocabulary. I am just praying he avoids using it for the first few weeks at least. ‘hello poo face’, ‘I hate girls ‘ and ‘you stupid’ will not a good impression make! He has also spent most of the summer randomly falling out of his bed each night. I don’t know why this is happening as nothing about his bed has changed. We all just wait for the thud now, roll our eyes and run upstairs to reposition him.

Most of all, this summer will be remembered for baby finally walking. Something that I longed for and worried about only to realise what a fool I had been. My life is now more chaotic as he danders off slowly then makes an absolute break for it running at surprising speed. For the first time with any of them, I am going to have to purchase some reins as he just cannot be trusted. He has also started to say ‘hello poo poo’ this week too. Which will further add to my embarrassment when in contact with fellow humans.

After writing all of this, I’m thinking getting rid of them for half a day everyday will be a good thing. The summer holidays were good whilst they lasted but, the fun and games are over. See ya kiddos!

** I am still working on the podcast idea and learning what I have to do. I also have to somehow get my sister free to do it**

O School, School, Wherefore Art Thou School?

Are the school holidays over yet? Seriously, how long have they been going on for? I feel like they’ve been ongoing for decades now. I am starting to lose the will to live on all fronts. The only part of me not wishing them to be over is the dreaded cost of the school uniform shop. I have yet to pluck up the courage to undertake it. I really must do that as I have two sets to purchase this year. Maybe next week eh?

Eldest is driving me bonkers trying to keep him entertained over the whole summer. He hates soft play now as, ‘it’s for babies and boring’. Fantastic, considering most of the summer has been a complete wash out. To remedy this, I have been arranging play date after play date. Each play date has descended into utter chaos however due to bloody Pokémon cards. At one stage he tried to swap ALL his cards (200) for ONE card his friend had. Um, hello? I am the one who’s bought them all, I don’t think so! When we got invited to a beautiful day out at Hillsborough Castle on Tuesday (the Queen’s residence whilst staying in Northern Ireland) and, I was explaining to him all the activities we would partake in, he responded ‘this is just a way to expel my energy. Like, that’s what adults do. Just try and expel kid’s energy’. How does he even know the word ‘expel’ at five? Also, how does he get that that is in fact what we do? In the end he had the best day ever, as I expected he would. I highly recommend bringing your kid’s there during the rest of the summer holidays. The scenery was vast and breath takingly beautiful and the tour of the castle itself was so interesting. Goss: The Queen’s living room smelt of stale smoke. So maybe she likes the odd cigar whilst lounging on her sofa when she’s over here. I can see her now in her dressing gown, watching Gogglebox and puffing away! **Don’t sue me Liz**

In other news, Middle’s behaviour is becoming worse by the day! He seems to be so well behaved in nursery yet his behaviour is utterly appalling when home. No amount of naughty step is working. He seems to get a kick out of any punishment, laughing in response to me losing my sh#t. He is also up half the night nearly every night. I’m exhausted and have come to the conclusion that it’s an attention thing. Yet I am unsure what to do as all them get equal attention. I maybe need to spend a day with just myself and him, make him feel special? I also have to try and get him to stop calling people ‘poo poo face’, telling people ‘mummy pees everywhere’ (no, that’s all you son) and stripping in the garden and trying to expose his winky to all and sundry. He cannot be left unsupervised for even a second. But, he is too young to end up on any kind of register. For that, we can only be thankful. Hopefully he adjusts ok with the change in nursery come September. I pray that it won’t serve to make him even more cray cray.

Baby is walking completely now. You all know how worried I was about how long it was taking. But, he has gone from 0 -100 the minute he knew he could do it. He danders from room to room now causing utter carnage. This week, unbeknownst to me, he turned the washing machine off. He also turned the oven down two days in a row, thus resulting in our dinner not being ready on time. Arrggh! The stairs are his new playground now as he has realised he can get up and down them with ease. Much to the detriment of my nerves! I brought him to the park yesterday, without him having a nap, and he went absolutely mad climbing up everything and going up and down the slide like he had been doing it his whole life. I honestly thought he would be my easiest one when really I am beginning to realise that he may be the worst. Because, he is watching both of them and emulating their behaviour (the good but, mostly the bad). So, forget the naughty step (it clearly doesn’t work) and forget reward charts (they only work for a short period of time), this Mama needs to come up with a new plan. Do military boot camps exist for kids? Please summer holidays, will you just be over already?!!

Looking like he just knows he rules the roost
Eldest at Hillsborough Castle

School Reports, Staycations and Stressful Situations

Eldest has officially completed primary one! Not only that but, he managed to do so without getting spotted battering another classmate. Hooray! On his last day he came bounding out with his school report in hand. I glared at the envelope for a long time before finally plucking up the courage to open it. When I did I was pleasantly surprised. It declared that he was good with numeracy and logic (no surprise there), that his reading and writing could do with some improvement and thus, he will need support going forward (no surprise with that one either) and that he interacts well with other children, especially boys (defo not a huge surprise). As a treat for a year well done, we decided to go to Ballycastle and stay in a caravan (my idea of hell). But, it was cheap and close. Plus, it would take everyone’s mind of losing Molly.

I don’t know what I was expecting but I was shocked when we got to the caravan and it was actually spacious and modern. I had an image of one ingrained in my mind from a Father Ted episode. You know that one were Graham Norton keeps river dancing all the time in a caravan you couldn’t swing a cat in? The site also had an indoor pool and kid’s disco running every other night. Who need’s Spain eh?

Having left our things off, I took the boys swimming. This was the first time since the utter madness that was the local pool: (https://youandmeplusthree.uk/2018/04/25/the-nightmare-that-was-going-swimming-alone-with-the-boys/ ). Eldest gets in no bother and heads straight for the huge slide, without the slightest hint of fear. Middle leaves the changing room and swiftly declares that he will not be getting in the water as ‘it’s too scary’. Great! Maybe I will have more luck with baby. Upon entering the water with him on my hip, he screams blue murder. To the point everyone was looking at me like I was forcing him into a pool of acid. The swimming attendant goes to get him a swim seat. This seems to make things worse. Middle has not left the steps during this whole episode and is sitting crossed armed, dipping his feet in. ‘Come in Owen!’ I shout whilst wielding gurning baby in a huge, yellow float. ‘I not’ he staunchly responds. FML- what is the point? After 30 mins, baby was still crying and middle was still rooted to the same spot so, out we all had to go.

Next we tried the park which was covered in sand. Middle runs off to have fun, yelling at random children ‘what your name is?’ and chasing girls with his standard sex pest line of ‘Hi girls!’. Eldest refuses to go in however, as apparently, he ‘hates sandy parks’. It’s only day one and I have already lost the will to live. How do you please them all at once? Hope that maybe the kid’s disco will be something everyone enjoys.

Get to kid’s disco with eldest moaning profusely that he ‘will not dance as that’s stupid and only girls do it’. Tell him that’s fine then, he can just watch. The guy running it is aptly named ‘Rob the Beard’. He seems to have a great way with all the kids but, baby is having none of Rob nor his beard and proceeds to cry anytime he even glances in his direction. Not even an offer of a sweet quells his fear of poor Rob. He spends the whole proceedings sobbing. Middle gets up and follows all Rob’s moves to every song. Giving it stacks and living his best life. Eldest observes his enthusiasm and decides to join in. Ten minutes in and eldest is throwing shapes I didn’t even know he had in him. He is also having, shock horror, FUN! Two out of three isn’t bad I guess.

All in all, the boys had such a great time in Ballycastle. Visiting farms, parks, eating the infamous ‘cloud’ ice cream and torturing girls. Middle eventually embraced the water on the last day and ventured further than the steps! Baby I couldn’t win over swimming wise but, he did start fully walking. I only saw him Gollum crawl a handful of times when he was tired and being lazy. In the end eldest finally came around to the sand also. The only downside was the boy’s sharing a room. Utter bedlam each night and routines all over the place. I am home more knackered than when I left! Aw well, it’s all about the memories and replacing the bad one for them that happened last Monday. I hope it’s worked. I am still crying every time I see anything white, sheep included. Miss you Molly x

Chilling in the caravan after a day at the amusements

Soft play fun on a rainy day

No more sand fear!

Sowing the Seed for Imaginative Play with The Field!

Baby is all about farm’s and farm animal’s at the moment. His favourite book is ‘Moo Moo’ and every night, at bedtime, he demands that I read it to him numerous times. I don’t even have to read the actual words now as his obsession has lead to me knowing them by heart. So I was very excited when Irish company, The Field, approached me to review one of their products.

The Field promises to spark your child’s imagination by encouraging imaginative play. The possibilities are endless. Create a farm scene, check! Create your own football pitch with some Lego figures, check! I had an inkling that middle and baby would love it. Middle loves to create elaborate scenes with his teddies and toys and comfortably creates different scenarios, nattering away to himself as he does so. Baby is most content at the minute when throwing multiple objects, mainly at me but, I knew the moment he saw all the farm animal figures, he would associate it with his book. Eldest I wasn’t sure about as he doesn’t often partake in imaginative play. Something that has worried me off and on. He much prefers logical play- building with Lego and creating large marble runs that take over any space we have left in the living room (sigh). Standing on multiple marbles is worse than Lego, I can assure you! Why are both everywhere in my house? Arrgggh!

The boy’s have played with the toy for over a week now and it has surprised me how well they not only interacted with it but, calmly played together. Even if baby keeps taking the farm animals off them! Eldest has actually played with it the most which has greatly reassured me after his P1 report showed he isn’t overly creative (I said that didn’t I?). Baby has thoroughly enjoyed placing some Lego men on it and playing away, as has middle. I’m loving the change from them wrestling the daylights out of each other on the trampoline. Peace at last!

You can purchase The Field at: https://www.thefield.ie/ and prices range from £27.00 (24.99 Euros) and upwards.

Baby having fun with The Field and some Lego
Even cousin had a play with it