Sunday, 7 September 2014

Silent Sunday

My little nursemaid

My boys have really different personalities, and though they play together most of the time they also have very different interests and prefer different kinds of toys. 

Where Jellybean will always return to train sets and Lego bricks, and create elaborate cityscapes with both at once, crashing toy cars into them to create destruction and devastation, it's Midget Gem who comes to bandage up the victims and takes charge of the fire engines to rescue anyone trapped in the wreckage. 

When we are sent toys to review it's always really interesting to see how they play with the toy, and who likes it best, what games they create with it, and seeing the way they engage with things in such different ways is fascinating. 

One of the things we were recently sent is a Lambie playset. Lambie is a character from Doc McStuffins, which we've actually not seen (we don't get the Disney channels) but my niece is a huge, huge fan. 

The playset that we were sent retails at £24.99 and it comes with Lambie, who has a rash, and a plethora of useful nursing aids - plasters, a bandage, a special sponge, and more - to nurse her through her illness. 

The rash is supposed to disappear when you rub it with the special sponge, but that didn't really work, and then Jellybean ate the sponge (pica child is pica child, no matter how carefully you watch) and he very quickly lost interest. 

I thought this was going to be a flop, and that our review would be "lovely toy, but not for us" but then Midget Gem came back to Lambie. 

He is a much gentler, more nurtering child. He's more interested in cuddles and feelings, he's more openly affectionate, and he loves cuddly toys and puppies and cute things. 

He was very worried that Lambie was lonely, and that she would be sad because she's poorly. On a shopping trip when he was allowed to spend some pocket money on a toy he chose a tiny mermaid doll so that a: he could brush her pretty hair, and b: she could be friends with Lambie, who is still poorly, and when someone is poorly you should get them nice things. 

He has been very interested in plasters, bandages and medicine (we've both been poorly, too, and Lambie has been nursed alongside us through our bugs and chest infections) and he's so sweet sitting and nursing this toy, and his others, and being a little doctor. 

The Lambie doll itself is a lovely, robust thing and the boys haven't succeeded in pulling off the tutu or bow, so it's well made. The plasters/sponge were less successful, and only got played with the first time the toy was removed from the box, but I don't think it would be realistic to expect multiple use plasters on a toy! 

I know my niece would love this toy, too, and was going to send ours to her if the boys lost interest, but Midget Gem might never forgive me, so we've got it on our list to buy for Christmas so she doesn't miss out - I think she will adore it. 

Monday, 1 September 2014

A lovely rest

I haven't posted anything on any blogs since July - and it's been lovely. I took the summer off to spend time with the boys and enjoy some rest and actually BEING in a day rather than recording it - and it's been a lovely, busy, crazy summer. 

I started a new job two weeks ago - three days a week doing my dream job, with lovely people - and that made me even more determined to enjoy the time I wasn't in work with the kids rather than sitting at a laptop. 

This summer we've camped near Weymouth, driven a huge amount to visit friends and family, spent time with people we love, had days out, spent time together, spent time apart, been all over the UK, and tried all kinds of new activities, games and fun - and it's been a brilliant, memorable summer. 

The boys have both grown so much, learned so much, had so much fun and are utterly fantastic - and both are more than ready to get back into their normal routine now. 

Jellybean can't wait to get back to school tomorrow and be in his new class, and be able to go to the after school club on the days I'm in work - he's really missed his friends and is very ready to get back into learning and reading and routine. 

Midget Gem is starting in his proper big boy pre-school class and is very excited about seeing all the children and playing in the new room, but is less sure than his brother and may take a little longer to settle back in, but he'll be there for three full days - again, while I'm working - and will have a lot of fun learning new things. 

The new job is a 90 minute drive from home and we did briefly discuss the possibility of moving - it makes sense for Daddytwo's job, too - but I don't want to move. I don't want to change homes, change school and preschool, and take the boys away from somewhere that feels like home, where we've really settled and are happy with our choices. So I'm going to do the drive three days a week and enjoy the chance to listen to music I like and catch up with friends on the greatest hands free kit ever created without kids talking over me and interrupting all my calls to tell me they need a poo! 

Since I left home at 17 (that's almost 14 years ago) I've moved home 18 times and I just want to stay somewhere, and be settled, like a real person. I'm making some fantastic friends here and the schools are super - and the children have friends, and are happy here - so here we stay, and life will work out. 

Anyway. I'm going to go and play buzzy busy bumble bees. Catch you later! 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Weymouth Sea Life centre, and the Weymouth Tower

We were invited to go to Weymouth at the weekend to visit the Sea Life centre, and take a whirl up the Weymouth Tower. 

We used to live in Weymouth, and when we were there we had passes to the park that meant we could go as often as we wanted. Often we'd go just for a couple of hours to play in the splash park with the kids on a hot day, because we were broke, and it was a free way to cool off and get some fresh air out of the flat we were in at the time. 

We both love Weymouth. We got married there. Our children were born when we lived on the island of Portland, just a short drive away over Ferrybridge. But the tower was built after we moved away, and we haven't had chance to have a go, but wanted some fun things to do to begin our summer holiday break in style.

So on Sunday we all piled into the car after breakfast and drove through to Weymouth, and arrived just in time for the first ride of the day - 11am - on the tower.

The boys are very different, and both had different reactions to what we were going to do as we waiting to be let on. 

Jellybean is more cautious - and was a little nervous as we were waiting. Midget Gem...? Well...not so much with the caution! 

We all took our seats and waited for the ride to start - and Jellybean sat beside me, tucked right back and holding tight to my arm so I could keep him safe.  

Midget Gem - in true Midget Gem style - stood as far forward as he could to peer through the curved glass of the tower so he could see absolutely everything, from the people below to the mechanisms and pit below the ride, as well as the huge expanse of land and water we could see as we climbed. 

I particularly liked looking across the harbour to Portland, where we'd started our little family. 

And back across Weymouth and the beach. 

We hadn't really spent much time thinking about going on the tower before - but it was fantastic. The views from the top were just beautiful. The tower rotates twice per ride once you're at the top. The first rotation has commentary pointing out sights, and then you rotate again quietly just to take it all in. 

Jellybean was a bit scared to begin with but was soon so enchanted by what he could see, and how far he could see, that he got braver (though he never let go of me) and Midget Gem liked waving to everyone and pretending to be a giant. 

Even Daddytwo, who is King of "this is pointless", thought it was worth going up and enjoyed himself, so a winner all around! 

Once we'd had our ride we went to pick up a picnic then headed across to Sea Life for an afternoon of fun. 

We haven't been for well over a year and though the kids liked an hour or so of "look, penguins" and a quick splash in the past we've never actually been the WHOLE way around the park before, or spent more than an hour there, because the boys were so little and didn't really understand what we were doing there. 

This time was a whole new world. They were far more interested in the animals and plantlife in the tanks, they had been talking before we went about what they most wanted to see (Midget Gem wanted to see baby turtles, and Jellybean wanted to see crocodiles) and both were very, very excited. 

We started - of course - in the splash park and had our picnic as the boys ran in and out of the water, cooling themselves down in the scorching sun. 

Then we headed to the main event that Sea Life are running and promoting this summer. The Octonauts! 

My boys both love the Octonauts on TV, it's one of the few shows they will both watch without calling each other "baby" or "jerk", and both get different things from it. Midget Gem likes the characters and the cute animals, and Jellybean likes the things he learns about sea creatures, because there's always some interesting facts to pick up in each episode. 

Midget Gem was SUPER excited to stand by this big sign and pretend to be an Octonaut, and had no idea what was about to happen! 


Days later he's still laughing that Kwazii stole his hat!  

The characters from Octonauts are starring at Sea Life, Weymouth, all summer long and do meet and greets in a rather warm marquee just outside the splash zone. 

Once we'd all shaken hands and had a good giggle at 'grab the hat' we headed off to explore the zones and see what sea life we could discover. 

As we'd arrived each boy had been given two activities to do - one was an Octonauts question sheet which had the kids searching for clues and learning about the animals in each zone - Jellybean LOVED this - and the other was like a passport of the zones which you had to stamp with an embossing stamp in each area. There were prizes on offer, so both tasks were taken VERY seriously by our boys!  

 Jellybean got to see his baby crocodiles quickly - and is now convinced they are ALL this size. 

Penguins REALLY smell when it's hot. 

 Midget Gem was even more excited than we'd expected when we reached the turtles - and even grown up turtles totally enchanted him. 

Through the tunnel I didn't really get any photos because I was a bit freaked out (the water being all around me makes me feel a bit funny) but we did take a picture of this sad story and rescued turtle, who looks grouchy and is just huge. 

 Next we headed to the seals, which Daddytwo likes best of all. 

Then we had three goes on crocodile creek - the log flume - which was a huge success, and cooled us all down again nicely! 

Once the kids had a taste for rides we went to grab a drink and let them go on even more - they couldn't believe there were more rides AND the splash zone AND all the animals to see. 

I sensibly sat the rides out and Daddytwo manfully stepped in! 

Then there was another Octonauts zone - the 'cinema' (a nice cool, quiet room filled with bean bags and a huge TV showing Octonauts cartoons) where we sipped our ice cold drinks and all had a bit of a rest. 

Then it was back to see even more animals, because they're amazing, and it was beautiful, and we got way too many pictures and thinning them out has been hard (as you can already tell!) 


The Jellyfish were by far my favourites - and in this tank the changing lights made them totally hypnotic. I stood for ages watching them with Jellybean while Midget Gem and Daddytwo wandered off muttering "they're so pointless". 

 Then this tiny sand eel really amused Jellybean, who took this picture himself. 

Once we'd done every zone it was time to head back to the splash zone for more fun, where we all got soaking wet and wore ourselves out completely. 

Then we just had time to touch some starfish and peer into rockpools before we headed to the gift shop to claim our prizes. 

In the shop we were met with this little face. He'd gathered two big toy turtles and two small ones and begged with big heartbreaking eyes to be allowed to take the whole turtle family home. 

 I distracted him with the prizes - a sticker for getting their quiz questions right, and a real actual gold medal for collecting every stamp and learning about the animals. 

 Then in the car each boy was presented with a gift from Daddytwo, who is a big softie, as a thank you for being such lovely, good boys all day, and being such great fun, so they would remember their fantastic trip to Sea Life.

"Is it really for me? My own baby turtle?! REALLY?" 

Jellybean got one of those blue thingies filled with water that are impossible to keep hold of (or get a photo of) and it has been ENDLESS fun ever since. 

Thank you to Laura at Sea Life, Weymouth, who contacted us to offer the tickets - we started our holiday off on a real high, and even though it's been days and days both kids are still on a high from our day out, they've really enjoyed themselves, and we had a fantastic day. 

You can take a look on the Sea Life Weymouth website for information on opening times, seasonal offers, ticket prices and special events. There are discounts for buying online, season tickets, deals on going to both attractions (and I do recommend the tower, though we may not have opted to do it had we not been given the tickets for the blog - we're total converts, it was much better than we'd expected) and in February if you live somewhere you can get copies of the Dorset Echo you can collect vouchers for a very heavily discounted season pass - which we'll be getting next year so we can have more days out like this. It's well worth the drive from home, there's always more to see, the kids absolutely love it, and we all really enjoy ourselves. 

The only thing I would change about the whole park is that there are a lot of ways in and out of the splash zone, and though there are benches all around it not all can see both the splash fountains and the pool, meaning that you can get a bit stressed if your children are like ours and want to go in opposite directions. Ideally there would just be one gate, and more of the tables would be able to see the full area, but that's just something that fiddles my anxiety, and wasn't an issue on the day because there were two of us to watch them when they split up!

*Disclosure - this is a review, the tickets were gifted to us for the purpose of the post - all opinions are honest and unbiased, and all photos are my own.*