With the start of my new freelance job, money has been quite tight this month and so with the arrival of half term we couldn’t afford for us to spend a lot of money.  Never one to turn down a challenge I decided to see if we could be creative and do exciting and engaging activities with minimal cost.

Aside from the family day out we had on Friday, which was planned and paid for in advance, we managed to have an interesting and entertaining half term for the grand total of £2!

I used a half term planner to decide what we would be doing in advance, Netmums have a great one here and I made sure that if any preparation needed doing, that I sorted it out the night before to allow us to just get on and do things.

I knew that it was important for us to get some fresh air each day because otherwise by about 4pm we’d all be going stir-crazy.  Unfortunately the weather forecast for the entire week was rain and aside from Thursday, that is what we had!  We tried not to let it put us off and did manage to get out for a little bit each day.

Here are some of the things we got up to this week, hope you can find some inspiration!

Crafts
Playdoh came in very handy when the weather was a bit too bad to consider going out and if I needed a quick stop gap activity.  The salt dough recipe I got from Nurture Store and it was brilliant as it only used up things I already had in my cupboard – result!

Fresh Air
We tried to go out everyday, even when the weather wasn’t great.  Getting outside and playing doesn’t have to cost a bean and we found lots of things to entertain us, from splashing in muddy puddles to discovering new things and skills such as tree climbing (or not, in Eli’s case!)


Extras
We had two themed days which were brilliant – one where we dressed up as pirates and ate food that fitted in with our theme (fish fingers natch)  This is a very cost-effective activity if you already have dressing up clothes.  We used our homemade rocket to have another themed day although we didn’t go as far as having space food!

We also organised a few play dates to break up the time.  These are brilliant, free and the kids love them because they get to play not only with their friends but with different toys from their own.

Mixed in was plenty of opportunity for some down-time and for Meg and Eli to come up with their own fun, such as building the cushion mountain and wrestling on it!  I tried to introduce a PJ’s and movie day but the kids looked at me like I’d lost the plot so we settled for movie time where we were all dressed…not quite the same but hey ho!


We hope everyone off school this week has a wonderful time, and that you have lots of fun creating your own adventures just like we did!  

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On Friday we visited Conkers for the first time, a fantastic family attraction in the middle of the National Forest.

One of the things they have in their outdoor area is a ‘Barefoot Walk’ which means, quite literally, that you remove your socks and shoes and walk barefoot over different types of terrain.  It’s 450 metres and the idea is to take you on a 200 year journey covering the heritage of the local area, so everything from spa water (aka freezing cold pools of water!) to rocks, mud, bark…lots and lots of different sensory experiences for the tootsies.


It is thought that walking barefoot is  good for your health as it can stimulate the cardiovascular system, improving your circulation.  It’s also supposed to be ‘life-enhancing’ but I will leave that for you to decide…

The kids were desperate to give it a go, and not wanting to be the spoilt sport and, I’ll admit I was slightly intrigued to see what it would feel like, I agreed to accompany them.

Smiles before we knew what it was going to be like!


I have to be honest and say, I did not realise that walking over pebbles could be so painful!  I can remember running along our back lane when I was 7 or 8 years old, it was all rocks and stones and I never even flinched, when did my feet become such pansies?  The kids didn’t even bat an eyelid and were scampering off without a care in the world.  I meanwhile, hobbled along behind them ouching and wincing my way along each part.


The worst was definitely the water, I imagine in the summer it would be lovely and refreshing.  Not so in October my friends, it was COLD.  Eli showed his usual nonchalance about these things and waded straight into the first pool, even though it came well up over his knees soaking his trousers right through.  Meg was a bit more hesitant and walked along the edges of the first few before taking the plunge *ahem*, I also fully embraced the experience and walked through each pool although I’m not actually sure why!!


The mud was actually the best bit, which I wouldn’t have expected.  After the icy pools it felt lovely and warm and we spent some time curling our toes and squelching down into it.


All in all it was a really interesting and unique way to experience nature.  Meg and Eli both said it was one of their favourite parts of the day.  I’m really pleased I gave it a go but I might try it again in warmer weather!


I’m linking this post up with Coombe Mill’s Country Kids.

Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
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Never let it be said that I will do anything for the sake of a blog post…the following was purely for the purposes of entertaining my children (and winning the best parent of the year award, or something.)  It should also be noted that we are not crafters by nature!

We have recently been reviewing the lovely resources at Twinkl (a more indepth post on this will be coming next week, so keep your eye out) and whilst perusing their vast array of options I came across their Space pack.  Meg and Eli loved it when we visited the National Space Centre so it got me thinking about how I could best use the pack and be creative.

Naturally, I decided we should build a rocket.  I hunted high and low on the internet to find a tutorial for how to make your own rocket and completely drew a blank.  So I sought the help of my Other Half, pointing out that he was an engineer and should therefore be able to engineer me a rocket.  He enthusiastically agreed and I was presented with an immense plan for creating a frame out of bamboo sticks (chicken wire having been dismissed as too dangerous) and some long-winded and fabulous contraption that would be standing for generations to come.  

I pointed at our downstairs toilet-cum-cupboard of mess and said, ‘how about we just use up the cardboard boxes in there?’


And so was born the rocket.

This rocket cost a total of £2 to make, which was the price of the silver spray paint we found in our local Aldi.  The spray paint was awesome, it went on so easily and was touch dry in about five minutes.  We left it overnight to dry out properly and by morning it was perfect.  Our alternative idea had been to buy some foil and cover the cardboard which would have been equally as cost-effective.  We opened up our cardboard boxes and created a flat front panel and then attached side supports with some masking tape.  For the top we cut out a triangle and I painted it red.


To attach the top triangle we used another long and thin piece of cardboard and affixed it onto the front panel.  We have had to reinforce this a few times as the kids have been quite vigorous in their play so there might be a better way of making this stay put…I’ll leave that with you.  We used a craft knife to make the door and cut it by eye, hence why it isn’t perhaps as straight as it could have been.

The lovely additions you see are part of the Space pack from Twinkl, such as the pieces making up the control panel and the planet information I used to decorate the inside of the rocket.  The window is simply made from sparkly red and silver cardstock.


We also hung fairy lights behind the rocket to act as stars, it’s a shame the writing is behind it but you get the idea.

If you have little space fans then I would definitely recommend having a go at making your own rocket, plus having a look at the downloads you can find at Twinkl.  We haven’t used them yet but you can also find masks to print and cut out with an astronaut helmet and alien faces as well as intergalactic passports.  I’ll update you when we have them laminated and ready to go!

Meg and Eli had so much fun playing in the rocket and it was brilliant to see their faces when they came downstairs in the morning and realised what had appeared in the night.  As Meg so eloquently put it…’sometimes Mummy, you are quite good.


I’ll take that compliment!

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With Halloween just around the corner I have already seen several social media postings from Christians I know objecting to the celebration of such an event.  I find this happens every year and each time I read them, I let out a big sigh and think about writing a long response.  As a Christian and now, as the parent of two young children, this is something I have thought long and hard about.

I believe there are a number of ways to approach Halloween as Christians.  The first is the one I am talking about above, the vehement opposition of the holiday.  Not allowing yourself or your children any contact with it, not opening the door to trick or treaters and removing yourself from it entirely.  I think this is the one most Christians think is the correct response.  After all, the whole premise of Halloween is a celebration of dead spirits and evil things is it not?

Well, I have to disagree.  Yes, that was part of the concept behind what formed Halloween but I don’t believe that it is the general idea of Halloween in this day and age.

The thing is, as a Christian I do believe in a spiritual world, a world of good and a world of evil.  What I don’t think is that ‘evil’ spirits are any more prevalent on Halloween than they are any other time of the year.  Nor do I think that allowing my children to dress up and knock on doors asking for sweets is the same as inviting them to be part of a satanic sect (trust me, I’ve been told this before!)

Meg and Eli have no concept about ‘evil’ – what they know is that around this time of year the shops become filled with dressing up outfits and people give out sweeties.  I can just imagine Meg’s face if we tried to sit her down and explain the reason why she couldn’t dress up…I think she’d probably say, ‘okay but can I still have the sweets?’  That doesn’t mean that I don’t find the idea of dressing my two year old up as a blood-soaked zombie distasteful, I think we have to be realistic when our children are still so young.  I wouldn’t sit them down and allow them to watch a horror movie either, it would be vastly inappropriate and I do have to question the logic behind exposing our children to some of the items available on the market.  But at the same time I don’t see anything wrong with them knocking on a couple of doors on our street, and asking for some treats.

If dressing them up for Halloween makes them worshippers of the dark side, then what does it mean when I allow Eli to wear a princess dress?  It doesn’t automatically make him a girl does it?  It’s about the intention behind the act and as long as we are behaving in a way which honours our beliefs then what difference does it make?  As a person of faith I will be ensuring that as my children grow up they are aware of what we believe and why we don’t necessarily agree with the whole ghosts and ghouls and bumps in the night kind of thing but as they are currently four and two, that kind of thing is way off their radar and I don’t plan to expose them to it any time soon.

Meg, two years ago.

I believe it is possible to participate in Halloween in a way that doesn’t compromise your faith, I do not believe that there is anything immoral about dressing up, eating sweets or knocking on doors in your street.  As long as you are not engaging in anything which goes against your beliefs, then it really isn’t any different to any other kind of activity.

I also don’t think that rejecting it completely serves any kind of purpose.  As a child, I always felt I was missing out on being with my friends.  I didn’t learn anything from not being involved and it didn’t make me feel any more holy or spiritual for not being able to join in, just excluded and different.  I understood the reasons my parents had but again, I don’t think there is anything inherently evil about Halloween if your intentions are innocent and you are mindful of your actions.  In fact, what better way to be part of your community than by putting a pumpkin in your window, letting parents know that you are a safe place for their children to visit and handing out goodies to local kids?  Shutting yourself away and refusing to be involved in actually counter-productive if you want to be seen as a part of your neighbourhood.

I also don’t think that the majority of parents allow their children to go out trick or treating and believe they are introducing them to a world of satanism and evil spirits.  I am fairly certain that the vast number of children on the streets come October 31st are simply in it for the sugar rush and nothing more.  There aren’t people standing on street corners just waiting to grab our children and sign them up for a life of servitude to the evil ways of the world and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen trick or treaters out unaccompanied…so we are hardly releasing our children to the wolves.

So, to all those people who feel like informing me that I’m setting my children up for a life of sin and disgrace because I am going to let them dress as a fairy and a pumpkin (probably) on October 31st…I refer you to the above.

Let’s not fight shadows for the sake of it.

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