Thursday, 19 April 2012

Nursery flu

Last Monday my boys had their first day at the new nursery post house move. This Monday I collected them early because the 'bit of a cold' they'd started the day with had turned into 'ick, there's neon green slime all over their faces and all they want to do is whinge and sleep'.

That led to Tuesday at home with them, at the end of which I was feeling a little warm and achy myself. Wednesday they had begun to improve - but I had neon green slime all over my face and all I wanted to do was whinge and sleep.

Today I thought we could all face real life - but it was horrible. I left work early again and collected the boys, who screamed all the way home and then tag teamed with poo and puke and more screaming to make me think my mind and sanity was not just lost but had never existed in the first place.

This weekend is Jellybean's birthday party. Tomorrow - Friday - he turns three. How that arrived already I do not know - but I do suspect that he will wake up too grumpy to enjoy his birthday breakfast because it took over two hours to settle to sleep after the screaming himself sick incident. Both times.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

A Top That book review

As a lucky member of the Top That Publishing book reviewer team I had another exciting parcel recently - another two books for my very lucky boys to peruse.

The first out of the envelope was Po-Tolo - plan bee from outer space.

Written and illustrated by Olly Oliver the book tells the story of a little alien whose planet is dying because their bees have all died and the plants are dying. An Earth bee helps him and they save his planet.

There have been a variety of books from from Top That before, and this is one of there more recent titles - and I'm sorry to say I really don't like it. The pictures are fab, as always, but it seems like they wrote a story then rubbed half of it out without making the bits left make any sense. 

The idea is sound - teaching children about insects and wildlife and the importance of the ecosystem and how finely balanced it all is; teaching children about bees and flowers and how they are connected - all sound.

I just can't understand how or why a puncture repair kit came into it, why there's a hint that Earth bees are all dying too with no action taken, or why a dying breed of bees head off to Po-Tolo's planet to help with no follow up to how the story ends!? 

Saying that - my children love it. LOVE it. Jellybean requests it daily and laughs at the pictures and the story - he thinks it's brilliant and has been learning the words in it. 

Not only does he remember the whole story, word for word, he now recognises some of the words in other stories, which is brilliant.

So much as I feel personally that the book could have been better thought out I also think that it has to be great because Jellybean can't get enough of it, and he's learning a lot about reading by insisting I read it to him a gajillion times, over and over! 

Totally different to Po-Tolo is the second book we received; When I Dream Of 1 2 3. 

The Top That website says that this book is written by Mr Henry Fisher, which was my first assumption about the book because he wrote our favourite Top That book of all time, When I Dream of ABC. The copy we received, though, says that it was written by Oakley Graham, though Henry Fisher is listed as doing some of the illustrations.

Whoever wrote it, it's magical. I ADORE When I Dream of ABC and when I saw that there was a similar book for numbers I couldn't wait to read it. When we visited family up North recently the ABC book was a big hit with everyone - you can see Jellybean enjoying it in a storytime with my Grumpa, my Step Mum and my Dad on this post here.

Knowing how much we loved the first one this 123 book had a lot to live up to - and it didn't let us down! The font and layout are the same, so it had a lovely sense of familiarity, and the illustrations and rhyming phrase are just as amusing and witty as the ABC book.

I love the textures and bright colours of the illustrations - as I've said before about Top That books I'd be thrilled to have them as framed images on the wall, they're exactly the style that I like and the children love spotting everything in them and laugh at the silly goings on in every page.

The book counts from 1 - 20, then jumps in 10s from 20 to 100; Jellybean counts the characters on each page and because we've enjoyed reading the book so many times he can now, before he's even turned three, count to 100 (and does so constantly, to show how very very clever he is to anyone who will listen!) 

Midget Gem can't count to 100, but he does love this book as much as the rest of us and in his own babbling baby language tells us what's happening on each page whilst Jellybean does his counting. (Apart from when he can't be bothered, when he makes ME do the counting!) 

Another big success from Top That - I insist you buy it, all of you; this and the ABC version - they are a joy to read with your children and I genuinely credit them with helping Jellybean learn his alphabet and get so good at his counting so quickly. Previous to this book he had plateaued at 25 (23, 24, 25, POO!) and didn't seem interested in getting further - and how he's well on his way to 1,000! 

Both these books are available from the Top That website - Po-Tolo for £6.23 currently, and When I Dream of 123 for £7.19 and worth every penny. 

Disclaimer; I was sent these books for free to review, but Top That don't bribe me in any other ways to be nice about them. 

Sunday, 15 April 2012

A crafty project

I constantly distress my poor husband by bringing home hideous tat from charity shops or that I've 'rescued' from the dump. I always promise that I'll do something with it and create beauty. I always intend to - but it very rarely comes off!

This time, in honour of the new house, I was determined to make something from the hideous tat I brought home!

I bought these curtains, you see. They were £4.99 in a charity shop.

Brown, floral - ugly. Himself hated them immediately - and I swore that I had a plan, he just had to have faith!

Here's how it works.

Step one. Buy some very ugly curtains from a charity shop at a price you can't ignore.

Step two. Tell husband who says I was ripped off for my hideous curtains that he's wrong.

Step three. Dig out the fabric dye you bought for a project about a year ago and can't remember the original plan for and read the instructions. By read I obviously mean scan quickly.

Step four. Mix the dye in a Pyrex jug and then soak curtains in the sink, pouring the dye in and mixing really well with your rubber gloves on.

Step five. Hope your husband wasn't too fond of the Pyrex jug and isn't opposed to the new turquoise shade of the glass.

Step six. Squish the dye into the curtains. When your husband says "they look s**t" kick him.

Step seven. Go for a bath whilst the dye takes, planning to rinse them after your soak.

Step eight. Forget, and go to bed.

Step nine. Wake in the morning and run downstairs. Splash dye onto your dressing gown. Remember it's your husband's really and decide it doesn't matter. He will think of you affectionately when he sees the stain.

Step ten. Hope the curtains look better once they're dry.

Step eleven. Hang them to dry on te line and keep thinking they look a bit s**t. When your husband says they still look s**t tell him it's how you intended them to look and he has no style anyway.

Step twelve. Hang the curtains in your bedroom and keep pretending they turned out exactly as you wanted. Wonder where it went wrong. Re-read the packet. Have a moment of realisation when you see the phrase "colour mixing". Sigh.

There you have it - in twelve simple steps you too can have some wonderful curtains like mine!