Archives for category: Just all my thoughts…

PEANUTSIt feels like it’s been quite a while! Hello there!

There has been a lot going on, such as Christmas and New Year (HAPPY NEW YEAR!!) so it feels like it’s been a long time since there have been any films released that my 5-year-old son wanted to see.  However, we did go and see Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie on the 13th December (that was last year!).  It’s been three weeks, I know, but as there isn’t really anything to say about it other than it’s a Charlie Brown and Snoopy movie and as you would expect, nothing is new and nothing has changed which, for some will be great but for others (like me) a bit dull, I haven’t been motivated to write about it.  It wasn’t great enough for us to get excited about and it wasn’t bad enough that we had to tell people about it either.  I know Peanuts is a classic and it shouldn’t be changed but it makes me wonder if it should have been made into a film… (the box office says it should have as it smashed the estimated figures)

My 5-year-old, did enjoyed it but he wasn’t excited about it.  He got fidgety half way through and so did I. Maybe the slower pace just doesn’t cut it anymore to keep us entertained?  Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t bad, we weren’t looking to leave half way through but well there just isn’t much to say about it. It’s a typical Charlie Brown plot line – this time Charlie brown struggles with feelings of inadequacy whilst dealing with a crush on the little red haired girl who has moved in next door. He decides to do this by taking on a number of new activities all with the help from his best friend Snoopy who, after finding a typewriter in a dumpster writes the next part in his alter ego’s story – an aerial mission to get the girl whilst in combat with the Red Baron.

It’s a nice story and great for little ones as there are no jump in the seat moments but also not much pull on the emotions either.  It’s just, well, nice. Which is what Charlie Brown and Snoopy is all about.  Themes to talk about around trying your best and never giving up come up for conversation but there wasn’t anything that my 5-year-old wanted to ask when we came out of the film.

If you’re a Peanuts fan, then go see it and bring back some childhood memories but if not then this might be one to hold off on until it’s out on rental…..


We have two days left until school starts and we have managed all but one (sort of) of our 10 things to do with mummy/daddy before school starts.

Since the last time we have…

…Face Painting DIY style.

This can only be described as ‘interesting’.  My son loved it, but my face painting skills are somewhat lacking – quite a lot.  When I showed friends the pictures and asked what our son was meant to be, I got a range of answers from ‘I have no idea – what is that?’ to random guesses ‘Spiderman?’ ‘Tortoise?’

They are meant to be dragon and snake! You can see it now right? Maybe not.  Either way our son loved this and I can only get better surely.

face painting

…Climbed a tree.

Well we couldn’t find a climbable tree so we opted for the climbing wall and ropes in the park!  But it just wasn’t quite the same as being able to find a tree so we have made a pact to look for a climbable tree wherever we go and climb it!


…Play in the park like children, Like REALLY play like children.

Ooo this was fun – some things made me feel slightly ill (why is that as you get older any spinning or swinging feels awful!?) and we got a lot of smiles our way.  Either people were thinking ‘ah that’s nice’ or ‘wow that is one childish crazy mum!’  I’m now going to play in the park like this every time and if our son has to wait his turn until I’ve finished then so be it J


We didn’t manage to camp in the garden.  BUT we do have the tent.  Something was stopping me – I wasn’t quite comfortable with sleeping somewhere that wasn’t necessarily secure.  Yes we have a lockable gate on our garden but it can be jumped over. I also got a slight possibly irrational fear that the foxes that always seem to be in our garden would come and maul our son.  I can’t decide if I am right to have this security fear or not.  What would you do in this situation?  Have you camped in your garden before?  And so that leads me to think ‘why am I OK with camping in campsite but not in our own garden?’ Thoughts on a postcard please.

So we managed all but 2 really – but I think we can say we ticked 8.5 out of 10 of the list if we half count the climbing a tree?  And now school starts!  That’s a whole other blog post.

  1. Grow some butterflies (sons idea)
  2. Camp in the garden (my idea)
  3. Cook a meal – main and dessert ( a mixture – I say cook he says bake)
  4. Build a den using things we already have at home
  5. Go to the theatre
  6. Grow something we can eat
  7. Climb a tree
  8. Create something from cardboard boxes
  9. All play in the park like children, like REALLY play like children all of us
  10. Face painting DIY style

Hope you have had a good summer and your kids, whether their first day or starting back to school after the summer, are all happy and settling in well.


Little girl playing with mothers makeup

I’m not sure if it’s just me but does anyone else find pamper parties for children that are 4 years old just plain wrong?  Even up to the age of 8 I wouldn’t feel comfortable – maybe age 12 would be OK, when they start senior school? Although I know I’m being a bit naive there when I think about what makeup I used to wear when I was 12 and what some of my friends were getting up to.

I have to admit I have a little boy but if I had a little girl and she or my son were invited to a pamper party where he could get his nails and makeup done, that would be one party he wouldn’t be going to.   Take the fact that applying makeup so young is surely not good for such young skin out of the equation, what about the message they are getting about their appearance at that age.  Shouldn’t 4 year olds be outside playing or playing on the cbeebies app rather than thinking about how they look?  Are we not breeding a generation of kids hung up on looks?  Should we not be talking to them about what they see in the media and all around them so they feel confident in themselves and have self-esteem as they naturally are rather than encouraging them to use makeup and cosmetics to make them look different?

Pamper parties are all around now though.  Within my family and circle of friends, parents are having pamper parties for their 4 and 5 year olds. While at the hairdressers the other day having my locks cut off they were preparing for a birthday pamper party. It looked great! Cocktail glasses full of mocktails, nail bar set up with an array of nail varnish colours to choose from and a range of hair styles to pick from that I couldn’t get my head around how they would possible pull the styles off. Plaits and braids that looked out of this world! But the kids were a group of 6 year olds.  For a business I understand that its big money and so it’s at the parent’s discretion, but for parents is it about pester power or peer pressure?  If I had a little girl would I end up letting her have a pamper party giving into peer pressure and pester power?

Let me know your thoughts.  Have you had a pamper party for your little one?  What was your thinking behind it? I’m interested to know if I’m alone in my thoughts or if you think little ones should be getting their hair, makeup and nails done.

Dinosaur Zoo

Today we went to see Dinosaur Zoo at the Kings Cross Theatre as part of Kids Week.  A lovely theatre, all decked out for the Railway Children but really lovely all the same and quite different from what you would normally expect from a theatre but in a very good way.  It’s a shame Dinosaur Zoo didn’t give us the same feeling.   We had been waiting for weeks for this and maybe our expectations were too high?

A brilliant idea and the puppets were unbelievably real.  The interaction was wonderful with children and parents, but the chat and trying to be funny for the adults in between was too much and made the hour drag.  There were four sections dedicated to four different dinosaurs (the first actually being babies, which was mightily cute).  The first half was fast paced, with three types of dinosaurs on stage but the second half really did start to drag.  Two more types of dinosaur could probably have featured in there if the inane chat had been less and the second half hour wasn’t dedicated to one dinosaur – albeit it was the Tyrannosaurus Rex, but still.  This section, dedicated to the Tyrannosaurs, just went on and on for far too long too.  My four year old kept asking when they would move onto the next dinosaur and could we just go home, not only as he was a little scared but he just got bored after a while.  I understand it costs a lot to make puppets as brilliant as they are but they could have made the experience so much more for kids that love dinosaurs and know a huge range of them.  (Of course I’m biased as my 4 year old knows the names of dinosaurs that I didn’t even know existed!)

After spending a little time in the foyer with the baby Triceratops, after the production – this was a lovely touch, allowing all the children to pet the dinosaurs – I asked my 4 year old if he had a nice time and enjoyed it and he gave me a flat No.  The Tyrannosaurus part seemed to take over for him and as they scared him a little and went on for what seemed like an eternity it was just a bit too much for him. He even had a little cry about it as he was so frustrated 😦

What would be a wonderful follow up, and they would not need too many more puppets for this, would be a production of Julia Donaldson’s Tyrannosaurus Drip. Now that would be fantastic! And talking of Julia Donaldson, we are off to see The Gruffalo in a couple of weeks, so we shall let you know how that one is too.  Again we have high expectations especially after Room on the Broom was so great!

Final thoughts – don’t bother going to see Dinosaur Zoo unless your child is over 5 or maybe even 6 years old, the pace slows just that little bit too much in the second half with too much emphasis on the scariest dinosaur of all to keep the little ones in their seats.

I feel like I’m Inside Out sometimes – why it when you ask your child to hurry up, they slow down?  I remembered that this happens as we were late for our showing of Inside Out.  ‘Anger’ was jumping up and own in my mind trying to take over my actions console but ‘Joy’ wasn’t letting her as thoughts of ‘It’s OK, we just won’t have to sit through the adverts and trailers which is no bad thing’ raced through my mind. And on the outside I was nice and calm and encouraging and joyful…..

Inside Out

Inside Out has to be the most colourful films we have seen in a long time.  From Pixar, this film tells the story of five emotions jostling for position in 11 year old Riley’s mind.  All is going well and is led by Joy (Amy Poehler) until Riley’s world is turned upside down when she moves to San Francisco with her parents.   Although her emotions try to guide her through the difficult time it becomes apparent that Sadness (Phyllis Smith) is a lot more important than Joy previously thought when they are accidentally swept away from headquarters and into the outside world of Riley’s mind.  Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) are left to run headquarters alone as Joy and Sadness embark on the journey back, taking care to bring all Riley’s core memories with them.

A brilliant and original film but I can’t help but feel it is more for adults than children.  Wonderfully thought out and brilliantly executed, who knew our memories were stored in big shelving units and disposed of in a hoover?!?!?!  BUT it was just a bit too much for my 4 year old to understand.   Saying that an 8 year old would love the whole thing and it was very entertaining for my son – he didn’t fidget at all and enjoyed it a lot. (Even the little film at the beginning about a volcano looking for love – nothing to do with Inside Out but great all the same.  Actually, it was better than some full films I have seen, but I digress) My 4 year olds best bit was (SPOILER ALERT) when Riley came home again and his favourite character was ‘the green girl’ i.e. Disgust. There were no jump in the seat moments (one in the short volcano film though) although the clown was pretty scary and both of us decided this as the bit we enjoyed the least.

Quite a lot to talk to your child about in this film, if they are old enough to understand it.  Emotion is a powerful thing but they combine in many situations and nothing is clear up – one emotion or another.  No conversation with my son about this film though past his best and worst bit.  But overall a brilliant film and I wouldn’t mind seeing it again, especially as I get the feeling it’s one of those films you need to see a couple of times to fully appreciate everything in it.

3 weeks into our 10 things challenge and we have crossed a few items off the list.

So far we have….

…Grown some butterflies.

caterpillars! butterflies

After waiting patiently for the package to arrive from Insect Lore we got very excited when it appeared and we could set the caterpillars off on their growth adventure.  They grow a lot quicker than you think – it seems slow for the first two days but then oh my – they are like super growing caterpillars (made me feel a little itchy to be honest)

It wasn’t long and they became cocoons – just 5 days later – and then before we knew it we were sat watching them hatch out of their cocoons, unfolding their wings and fluttering around their temporary enclosure (which is in essentially a small pop up laundry basket!)

Our 4 year old loved this and so did we – releasing them was a bit of an anti-climax as it is so quick (and they don’t land on you like they do in the advert – which upset my son a little) but a really good item to have on your 10 things challenge.  Take a look here and order up your kit.

See how fast they grow! From start to finish just two weeks.

…Cooked a meal.

cookies pizza

We opted for Pizza and banana oat cookies.  YUMMY! Made on separate days, I have to admit, but nothing like cooking with your child and seeing how proud they are of themselves when they eat what they have made.

….Built a den.

densLove building dens! I remember as a child hogging the dining room and making the whole room a den, having all sorts of things in there (including my mums record player which had a tape recorder and microphone – I used to record my own radio show!) for a wonderfully self-contained home for me and little brother for hours
on end.  My sons den was no different although maybe a little more modern.  iPad for the TV, CD player, bed and space for everything he needed – toys, drink, relaxing…

Since the first den we have had two more – each getting a bit better and bit bigger each time. Love it! Probably only time your child will ever be happy with you taking a snooze while playing  as the bed area is the only place you can fit – so you have to snooze, it’s the rules!

So we have the following 7 items left on our list to complete before school starts;

  1. Grow some butterflies (sons idea)
  2. Camp in the garden (my idea)
  3. Cook a meal – main and dessert ( a mixture – I say cook he says bake)
  4. Build a den using things we already have at home
  5. Go to the theatre
  6. Grow something we can eat
  7. Climb a tree
  8. Create something from cardboard boxes
  9. All play in the park like children, like REALLY play like children all of us
  10. Face painting DIY style

We have two trips to the theater booked in – can’t really not when it’s Kids week at London theaters, and we have bought a tent for camping in the garden and have face paints ready to go.

Let us know how you are getting on with your 10 things.  I hope you’re enjoying your challenge as much as we are – roll on camping in the garden!

Toodlepip until next time


lego man headstand

I’m feeling a mix of emotion right now. Happiness, worry, sadness and excitement.  Our little boy is starting school in September and although I’m excited for him, as he is very excited himself, I’m also sad that my little one is growing up and worried about him being OK.  He will of course be just fine as children are a lot more robust and resilient than we sometimes give them credit for, but before all that there are the holidays to contend with which is new territory for us as parents, juggling time off work and childcare. I also want to make sure we spend the quality time together which the school holidays offer and with that in mind we have set ourselves a bit of a challenge ticking off all ten things from our list of ‘Ten things to do with Mummy and/or Daddy before I start school’ *high five*   (it doesn’t involve standing on our heads like our friend Lego man, we just liked the photo, in case you were wondering.)

Our list of ten things, a mixture of what we as parents think would be pretty cool (we will see if our son thinks the same when we come to it) and what our son thinks  would be wicked (his word, I can’t even begin to think what word will mean ‘good’ when grandchildren arrive – cool, wicked….I digress)

Our ten things are…

  • ‘Grow’ some butterflies (sons idea)
  • Camp in the garden (my idea)
  • Cook a meal – main and dessert ( a mixture – I say cook he says bake)
  • Build a den using things we already have at home (a mixture – he wants to build a den and I’m already thinking about what we can use in the house that we can put back again afterwards)
  • Go to the theater (my idea. It’s Kids Week – it is actually a month but it’s called Kids Week – in August at London theaters- take a look!)
  • Grow something we can eat (a mixture – he wants to grow things and eating them would be pretty cool and maybe a way to get him to eat more veg?)
  • Climb a tree (sons idea with help from daddy)
  • Create something from cardboard boxes
  • All play in the park like children, like REALLY play like children, all of us (daddy’s idea – he tends to do this anyway!)
  • Face painting DIY style (a mixture – sons wants his face painting and I think well I’m going to have to have a go at that then)

With our list in hand we start our challenge. First up, ‘grow’ some butterflies. We are all excited about this one, although I’m feeling slightly itchy at the thought of little caterpillars in the house. We order the pack and wait for the post…..

Follow my blog to see how we got on and we challenge you to set your own 10 things and let us know how it’s going!!

I’m off to sit by the front door with our son waiting for the post to arrive and I look forward to hearing from you.

Finally the time has arrived for the movie we have all been waiting for and it’s frankly very yellow and everything you would expect from a movie with the Minions in it.

Considering those little yellow squidgy creatures get everywhere and the trailers have been hard to get away from, the plot is surprising with twists galore!! Some not so great but they are forgiven as it’s the Minions.  Even when I set foot into work I can’t get away from them!

Minions BBC R1

See what they got up to .

I don’t really want to give too much away and I don’t think I need to give you a rundown of the synopsis, the trailers do their job, all you really need to know is that it is the better-than-Despicable-Me prequel to Despicable Me.  Sandra Bullock as Scarlet Overkill is positioned just right – scary enough but seemingly nice enough too, to start off with.  She also takes the best line of the movie ‘work for me and all your dreams come true – respect, power…. Banana!!’ oh, and Bob becomes King of England, for a while.

This movie is also for the adults with references to many iconic moments, the Beetles Abbey Road album cover being one of them and many moments in history from evolution and the dinosaurs to the swinging 60’s and the birth of TV.

Just one jump in the seat moment for my 4 year old which was right at the start when the T-Rex makes his first appearance.  A lot of use of weapons Minion style from lava lamp guns and missile launching skirts so lots to chat about with your little one.  My son was most interested in the fact that Scarlett Overkill seemed nice (SPOILER ALERT) but ended up not being so nice to the Minions in the end.  When asked what his favourite bit was he said the (SPOILER ALERT) part in the dungeon – where Kevin, Stuart and Bob were to be tortured, but ended up having a great time!

The typical English caricature portrayal of the Queen is nothing more than brilliant from the teeth to the night spent in the pub. What I will say is the larger than life twist near the end (you’ll know it when it hits you) was a bit well, overkill, but maybe that was the point?  But the ending leads brilliantly into the frist Despicable Me movie.

The marketing and awareness around this film has been huge – minions appearing on suncream to yogurts and clothing and many other brands you would never have thought of – Vogue? They are reaching all audiences and all age ranges. The Minions are in fact also fashion designers don’t you know?  I personally love these Rupert Sanderson court shoe part of a larger range.


Overall a 4 out of 5 – mainly as I think we have a soft spot for the minions and have rose tinted glasses so they need a slight come down no? And on that note I’m off shopping…..


Have you ever thought what you would want to learn or what you would have paid more attention to at school if you were a child again?  Children absorb information a lot easier than adults as anyone learning a language later in life will tell you, but so many of us no longer seek out information or we feel daunted by learning.

A couple of weeks ago I took an exam.  It brought back many memories of taking GCSE’s and A-levels but it just wasn’t as stressful – it was just another task I needed to do as part of my day.  This was most likely as I took the choice to take the exam as part of the Open University degree I’m studying for in my ‘spare’ time.  I start another module in October – I’m hooked!

When I finished formal education, I thought “That’s it I will never write another essay or sit another exam ever ever again – WHOOP!”  but I realised just before I had my son nearly 5 years ago (and 7 years after finishing university) that there was so much more out there that I wanted to learn about and know about.

Realising this just before having a baby was probably not great timing in the same way as moving house when pregnant, it’s not great but it always seems to happen that way, but I digress. As I sat in our flat, beached on the sofa like a whale, I was studying for a certificate in event planning. After that I started to take modules with the Open University, just picking any that I was interested in and after a time it turned out that I could build my own BA with the modules I had done (plus a couple more).

There are also those free online courses, they call them MOOC’s – Massive Open Online Courses.  They are really good and they can be done from anywhere in the world. Look up Futurelearn and you can do a course for free in anything from branding to cyber safety and from psychology to coding.  They can last 2 weeks to 10 weeks and the courses are run by UK universities. Ooo and workshops and talks – they are great! Talks and learning events like the Work and Family show or Stylist Live – I’m really looking forward to that one coming in October!! (For those in the UK check it out Stylist Live or if you’re not in the UK – come on over for a trip! Stay a while and pop in to say hi)

I guess in our own way we are all constantly learning. My husband likes to visit castles and explore the surrounding areas working out the history and imagining how it used to be (now I’ve written that down it looks so much more geeky than it sounded in my head).  But we are all children at heart and we all like to learn in our own ways.  We can learn a lot from each other and we live for the most part in a world where people are very happy to impart their knowledge and we should use this vast and amazing resource.

Just remember, you are never too old to learn and it is never too late to start.  There is nothing to stop you, make the time. Money is no object as some courses are free or for those that aren’t you can pay bit by bit in most cases (OUSBA does this for the OU).

Go for it, you never know what you might learn.

***Author: Young Reader by Francisco Farias Jr

Kid meets kid, kids wants to be friends with kid, the other kid doesn’t want to be friends with said kid, they are forced together by circumstances beyond their control and the unlikely pair become the best of friends and put themselves on the line for each other. Two by Two has the same kind of story line that runs through a lot of children’s films and I have to be honest I was bored to start with – although my 4 year old wasn’t which is what counts – but this turned out to be a great film with a twist I should have seen coming but didn’t expect.  This films has some bad reviews in the press but for the less critical and more-about-the-kids-as-it-is-a-kids-film-after-all types then it’s a pretty good one.

Underdeveloped … Two by Two

As you may have guessed from the title, this is the story of Noah’s Ark and the animals preparing for a forty day and forty night flood. But if you’re not on the list then you’re not allowed to board the Ark, which is captained by the king of the animals, the Lion. Unfortunately for Finny and his Dad, Nestrian’s are not on the list and although they manage to sneak on board their adventure is only just beginning. Finny and his new reluctant friend Leah find themselves over board as the Ark sets sail and they must work together to survive the flood as their parents must do, setting aside their differences, to turn the Ark around and rescue their children.

Rated U this film has a bit of kung fu comic violence and mild threat as the carnivores share a Ark with the herbivores and Leah and Finny outsmart predators on their journey to high ground. A random use of computer games at one point which has a punch em up feel to it and Tetris makes a cameo which was all a bit out of place but maybe I’m missing something – it wasn’t bad just, well, random. My 4 year old jumped once throughout the whole film and he was so cute when his bottom lip came out and he cried when (SPOILER ALERT) Finny drowns, or so it seems.

Two by Two official trailer

In all a great film with issues to discuss around bullying as Leah is less than happy with the friends they make along the way and upsets them with her comments. My son asked why Leah’s mum didn’t want to be friends with Finny’s dad when he was being nice to her and trying to help so a discussion around stereotyping and judging people without knowing them ensued, on a 4 year olds level of course.

Definitely one to go see and even one for the DVD collection too, maybe. 4 out of 5.

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