How do you deal with losing a pet?

When you children hound you for a pet, they go on and on – or at least my son did until eventually we gave in and let him have the two baby guinea pigs that he had seen.

He was very good and paid for them out of his own money, along with the cage and everything else that he needed to go in it. They were named Fluff and Scruff – Fat Fluff as he became know because he was greedy and also because he had a fat orange strip on his brown body, and Scaredy Scruff because he was quite nervous and anxious!

We have had them for nearly five years now and they have been well looked after – fresh fruit and vegetables twice a day, dry museli and hay! They were always given grass and put out in the run in the summer and came inside for cuddles when the cats weren’t around.

The children’s friends were always excited to see them and sometimes they were allowed to hold the or stroke them which they always loved. Fuff and Scruff were part of the family, and living just outside the back door in their double storey cage, it always made me chuckle when I opend the fridge to hear them squeaking for food – even when they had just been fed!

Well, today is a sad day. My son came down to feed them this morning only to come in sobbing – one of the guinea pigs had died. Fat Fuff was lying on the floor of the cage, whilst Scaredy Scruff was making noises for her food. It is a hard lesson for kids to learn, and although he is eleven, he is a sensitive sole, and this hit him really hard.

Dad fetched the other piggy in and he was allowed to be cuddled, while we put Fluf into a box to be buried – not a nice job but one that had to be done. We discussed burying him in the garden but my son didn’t want that, so instead we rang Nan and asked if we could bury him there instead. Fortunately, Nan agreed, so Dad took him aroud and buried him behind the shed. We are often at Nan’s so this seemed like a nice place for him to be.

The afternoon was spent getting the old cage ou so that Scaredy Scruff wouldn’t be on his own outside. My son asked if Scruff could stay in his bedroom for a few days so he had some company – we agreed as long as the cage is cleaned out regularly during the week.

All day my son has been sombre – often with little tears trickling down his cheeks. It is so horribe to see your children like that. My daughter didn’t know how to react and kept showing us these little nervous smiles – not having experienced any death yet, I’m not sure that she knew how she should react.

It’s been a tough week, and this really has topped it off! It is never nice when an animal dies and I don’t even want to think about our cast who are 13 and 14, as my son has always had them in his life. BUT, death is something that we all have to experience and come to terms with adn today has been one of those life experiences that we all have to go through.

We talked about how these things happen and how sometimes there is nothing that we can do and that nature has to take it’s course. We talked about how it is ok to feel sad, but how important it is to remember the nice things and the good times.

For now, all we can do is make sure that Scruff isn’t lonely and gets lots of cuddles.

RIP Fluff, you were well loved and we hope that you make lots of friends in pet heaven and that they feed you as well as we did x

Teach your Monster to Read and Win £150 of Books!

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Teacher Your Monster to Read is a brand new game that does exactly what it says – it teaches your child to read but in a fun and interesting way!  This is what the website says:

Teach your Monster to Read: First Steps is a new, free game to practise the first steps of reading.

Combining top quality games design with essential learning, the game is built on the principles of synthetic phonics and follows the teaching sequence of the Letters and Sounds programme.

It has been assessed by reading experts at the University of Roehampton

There is a playable demo on the site here: http://www.teachyourmonstertoread.com/game/demo

If you are in the early stages of teaching your child to read, then you will just LOVE this game! Once you have signed up and logged in, your child can build their own monster……my daughter loved choosing all of the different body parts to make her own one.

 It is a really fun way to help your child to learn the phonics sounds and have fun at the same time. If your child is anything like my 6 year old daughter, she loves playing on the computer and so the fact that this is an educational game is a huge bonus…….it means that I can let her play but know that she is learning all the while she is playing.  The game is bright and colourful, and my daughter, once logged on could navigate her own way through the game and the different levels. She loved the fact that she was awarded a prize at the end of each stage and that she could choose which parts of her spaceship she could repair!

This is a screen shot from one of the games:

  This game asks you to round up the sheep and put them in the “a” pen. Once you have completed this task, you are set another and you play until you have reached the end of the level.

Another bonus with this game is the fact that it saves automatically, so if you child leaves the games, their progress will still be recorded.

The Usbourne Foundation have set up this game, and as a charity they are giving the game away for free as a way of encouraging children to read, and also to support those that may struggle or need extra help with their reading.

Here’s further information about the game and the Usborne Foundation:

Teach Your Monster to Read has been developed for the Usborne Foundation – a charity set up by Peter Usborne (who also founded The Usborne Publishing company). There will be a series of games, all of which will be given away for free. 

The game has been featured in the Sunday Times, the Times Educational Supplement and recently won Gold in both the Practical Preschool and Primary Teacher Update awards.

Now, here is the best part……..The Usbourne Foundation are running a competition and you could win £150 of books. All you have to do is get your Little Monster to create a monster of their own, by drawing, painting or building using whatever materials you have to hand. You then need to take a photograph of the monster and email it to: competitions@teachyourmonstertoread.com

All entries have to be submitted by Friday 9th November 2012. 

Prizes:

1st prize: £150 worth of Usborne books of your choice*
2nd and 3rd prizes: £25 worth of Usborne books of your choice*

You can find more details on their blog and there are also lots of ideas on the blog that you and your child can use to help you to create a monster of your very own!

Entries can also be viewed on their Facebook page

We have already entered our monster, and we had great fun doing it……….so why not keep your Little Monster entertained on a rainy afternoon and be in with a chance of winning £150 of Usbourne books that can read together!

Very First Reading: Easy phonics words         Very First Reading: abc        Stop that cow!

Please note that we were asked to review this site and will be receiving a couple of the Usbourne books as a thank you for doing so. My opinions  are my own, and I always give a frank and honest review of anything that I am asked to consider.

The Great Outdoors!

We love the outdoors! My kids are happy when over the park, walking on the beach, trekking through woods or camping in a field. We get out and about as often as we can, but it really isn’t often enough!
We’re really lucky and have great facilities at our parks, so have been making the most of the mild weather this week!

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Ginger Bangs!!!

This has to be THE best biscuit recipe EVER! This is a superb recipe with ginger, a perfect all time favourite suitable for both the young and old. Make mini ones for the kids and larger ones for dunking in your tea…. Once you have had these, you will want them on a regular basis!

20121027-081458.jpg These were ginger bangs with chocolate smarties!
This recipe definitely makes the perfect ginger biscuit, but can also be adapted to make lots of other flavours…. Leave out the ginger and you have a biscuits that is like a butter crunch, add chocolate chips and it’s like a crunchy Millie’s cookie! Add some cocoa with your chocolate chips and you have your very own double chocolate chip…. I’ve tried loads of flavours- smarties, oats and raisins, white chocolate and raspberry, whatever you fancy!!!
I make these at work, and they are gone before they’ve even had a chance to cool down…so many people have asked me for the recipe, that I thought I might as well blog it and share this amazing recipe with you all!

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My kids love making them at the weekends, and they keep really well in an airtight container. One batch of biscuit dough usually makes 12 big biscuits or 18 smaller ones. This is not a recipe that you can roll out and cut into shapes, it is much better if you roll the mixture into little balls and allow them to spread. And the best bit??? When they come out of the oven, you have to BANG the tray on the work top to knock out all of the air and make them crinkly….. Great if you’ve had a stressful day!!!
Why not try this recipe for yourself, I’d love to hear how you’ve got on. Or, maybe you have a perfect recipe of your own that you would like to share?

Busy Day…. Lots of Cake!

I’ve had a really busy day today and I’m glad that Half Term is here! I have not stopped……
I finished off and published a blog post this morning, then dropped my daughter off at my friends (she takes her to school) only to come back again because I had forgotten it was mufti day!!!! So after a quick change we went back again and then I was on my way to work.
Due to my little oversight, I arrived at work just in time to walk into an important meeting…..I’d been up two and a half hours and not a single drop of coffee had passed my lips – it would be another two hours before I got my first coffee of the day. I can tell you, I was not the happiest person to be around during this time!
After teaching two lessons, both with boys cooking, it was time for coffee and cake and another meeting! I gulped down the coffee and scoffed my cake ( I didn’t talk much at the meeting…. I didn’t have time) and then I was off again with another twenty five boys cooking biscuits!!
After a full on day of teaching, I came home to pick my daughter up from school, only for her to be invited to tea at a friends house! Making the most of my free time, my son and I popped down to the shops. On my return, I finished off cake number 1……

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Then it was onto cake number two. This was a tricky one, and I knew it was going to take some time to get it right. I had modelled the dolphin last week, but I had to put the filling in, ice and decorate the cake….. This was going to be the most difficult part! Anyway, half way through, I realised I needed more royal icing so I was off again to the shop to stock up on supplies. I eventually finished the cake at about quarter to ten, then had to clean up all the mess. Here is the finished cake:

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This was the first time that I had used royal icing for anything apart from fine detail and writing, and I’m really quite pleased with the end result!
I am also totally and utterly knackered and cannot tell you how pleased I am that it is Half Term…… A whole week to relax and enjoy myself,mark three sets of books, and two kids to look after and my OH that has man flu….. And did I tell you we are looking after our neighbours puppie for seven days????? Oh well, looks like it is going to be another busy week….. I’m off to hibernate!

Giant Draughts!

We love board games – snakes and ladders, draughts, chess, Monopoly……you name it we like to play it! As the winter nights are drawing in, and the evenings are cold and miserable, there is nothing better than a good game to occupy the kids!

This week, we have been playing Giant Draughts which we ordered from the Big Game Hunters website. The service from this company has been second to none. From the moment that we had placed the order, we received email notifications telling us how our order was progressing. From the order being placed, to it being received at the warehouse, despatched, arriving with the courier… you get my drift! The whole process from start to finish took just five days…and that was with a weekend in between! I was really impressed with the service that they provided.

So what is inside the box? Well, there is information on the website itself, but let me tell you briefly – there is a large plastic mat that is obviously the playing board and 24 counters – 12 black and 12 white. There are also 6 rods that are used to double up your pieces when you get a Queen! I would’ve liked to see some eyelets in the playing mat and some pegs so that it could be pegged down into the grass- a little gust of wind and you might find yourself rearranging your pieces, but this could easily be done yourself, or you could make up some little sands bags to weight the corners down when playing outside! I think I would’ve liked a box that is a little more robust too, as I cannot see this one lasting very long with it being used as regularly as it is at the moment.

The pieces are light and easy to move, and the kids found it a good size to play with!

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It is priced at £39.99, which I think is perhaps a little more than the average parent would pay for an outdoor toy unless they knew it was something that their children were going to use regularly. For me, it is probably worth the investment as we all love playing draughts and we can take it on holiday too!
All in all, a great quality item and a fantastic delivery service……they offer a good range of products and I would certainly use the company again! (I’m thinking chess for Christmas!)

Although I was sent this product for the purpose of this review, my opinions are my own and I will always post what I believe to be an honest and frank review of the products that I receive.

Working Mums and the problems it brings!

So I’m a working Mum…not by choice, but because financially we had no option!
I had my son in 2001 and had to return to work after three months because I couldn’t afford to stay off for any longer. I’m the main wage earner so there was never any question as to whether I would go back to work, it was a done deal although I did go back for four days a week instead of five!
It was difficult leaving my son after such a short time at home, but none of my friends had babies and it wasn’t easy meeting other Mums in such a short space of time so part of me was glad to go back so that I could enjoy the social aspect of work.
It was hard, especially in the early days. Although I was part time, I never left work on time, and as a teacher there was always planning and marking to be done. By the time I had been to the childminders, done the washing, cooked the dinners etc I was shattered……I was also very fortunate in that my OH was happy to help out when he got in from work which was a great help- he would do bath and bedtime while I cleaned up.
The worst days were when we had been up in the night- often several times, and you knew you had to goto work after only a few hours sleep……. You could hardly phone in sick because you we’re tired, although I know people who have!!!!!
Anyway, my kids are older now- they’re six and eleven, and although the process of going out to work is getting easier, the guilt that you have as a working parent doesn’t ease. There is rarely a school trip that I can accompany, I’m not able to take my kids to school and on two afternoons a week, I don’t even pick my children up ! I don’t know as many of the parents, and they don’t know me, which makes the whole having friends round for tea difficult. I don’t really get included in the social events either as only being there three afternoons a week isn’t really enough time for anyone to get to know you.
Now my son has started Secondary school, the guilt is even worse. I leave in the morning before he does, which means that he is responsible for locking up the house and getting himself off to school on time – a big responsibility when you are only eleven! He also comes home to an empty house twice a week too, which is something that I hate. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not on his own for more than half an hour, but even so, I would prefer to be there for him.
Then comes the other issues. Having to get the food shopping done at the weekends or trying to order it online when I know I will be home, getting the washing and ironing done, making time to help with homework, housework and on top of all that I have marking and planning to do most weekends! This makes it difficult to create valuable family time which I know is important…….
As my children are getting older and more independent, the guilt that I have as a working Mum isn’t as bad as it used to be. My MIL is great and helps with childcare, which has been brilliant as they now have a fantastic relationship with each other and get to spend quality time together every week. I also know that my children are understanding of our situation, and know that if we want to have nice things then I need to work. I’d like to think that this will teach them a valuable lesson for later on in life!
On the plus side, having the holidays off is great. The children and I count down the days until the holidays as we know we will get to spend lots of time together. We plan special time together and try to do something every day – whether that’s going to the park, bowling, a picnic, the cinema or whatever else takes our fancy. Sometimes we plan duvet days, knowing that we can sit around in our pj’s, watching television, eating junk food is just as much fun as going out for the day! We look forward to the holidays and they are our special time together as a family. I know that I will always be off at Christmas, Half Terms, the summer holidays and Easter and that’s when being a teacher is great advantage.
Although not ideal, I know that as a family we really value the time that we have together and make the most of it. We have games, stories and cuddles before bed, we talk about our day and nothing makes me prouder than when my son says ” Mum, how was day day at work?” He understands that although he might of had a boring day at school, Mums and Dads have bad days too. As for my daughter, she comes running up the hall when she hears the key in the lock, so I know she is always pleased to have me home! What more could I ask for?
I guess sometimes we just have to make the most of our situation, and I know that we certainly do……. Are you a working parent? How do you feel? Maybe you’re a Mum that couldn’t wait to get back to work and a bit of normality………..I know for me I can’t wait for Half Term – six more working days and we are all counting!