Tag Archives: children

Internet and Kids: Survival Guide

Internet and Kids: Survival Guide

My two little monkeys are at an age where they’re dabbling with internet, playing games, using Skype and it’s sometimes worrying.  I’m not the most technical minded of people so this kind of advice is invaluable.  Online safety is just as important as safety in every day life.  I thought this article was particularly useful and informative.  I hope it gives you some helper pointers.

The current generation of children will grow up online, becoming far more knowledgeable about this promising new frontier than we can ever hope to be. But before they reach that stage they’re going to make a lot of mistakes, and the net can be a dangerous place to make them. It’s for this reason that so many parents are worried about their children’s online safety, desperate for a way to make learning to use this vital resource just that little bit less risky.

Here are four steps you can take to safeguard your child online. Not every step may be for you – in fact it may be that your ideal lies in your own unique combination – but every step is something available right now that will make your children safer.

1. Discuss the risks on their terms

For any safety measures to work, your child needs to understand why they’re there. Knowing why certain things are dangerous helps your children develop their own judgement, so they can be safe even when the risk is something you didn’t foresee.

Remember, children lack experience of the world’s darker side. They don’t understand the potential dangers of the net, so focus on the things they can understand and give them a sense of responsibility and agency about avoiding them. Make it crystal clear that harmful content will often be made to seem tempting and safe, and that good web behaviour doesn’t just protect them but the whole family.

2. Install great antivirus software

Every computer needs a decent antivirus software; in fact every device that connects to the internet should have some kind of protection. Antivirus software will steer your kids away from risky content and outright block things like viruses and dangerous websites. Most examples of antivirus software will also come with additional features you can use to increase safety.

3. Restrict content with parental controls

Antivirus software usually comes with some kind of parental control system. This allows you to define what is and is not appropriate for your child to see. It can’t catch everything, but it does make it much less likely that your child will accidentally visit somewhere they’re not safe.

4. Monitor web behaviour

Many makes of antivirus software allow you to track where your children have been online – browsers have their own ‘history’ folders, but kids will very quickly figure out how to get around these. You can use this to track and steer your children’s behaviour or as an observation system they know is in place.

Whether you choose to follow all of these steps or just a few, always remember that communication is the most important protection you can give your child. Knowledge allows them to adapt on the fly, and an informed and cautious user is safer than one who has all the protective software you could hope for but no idea what to watch out for.

This is a guest post.

Thanks

Thanks

(I apologise in advance for the swearing, when I get stressed, I almost can’t help it.)

Go on then, f*cking argue over who gets to watch what on the TV.  Hit the other person around the head because they won’t make room for you to sit down on the sofa.  Cry and throw cushions on the floor, I dare you.  Demand a drink of milk and then change your mind once I’ve poured it.  Not milk now – orange juice, and it’s too weak, and it’s in the wrong cup.

You never even said ‘please’ in the first place, you just ordered it as if I’m a skivvy whose only purpose is to serve.

Throw all the coats on the floor by the door, because you were looking for a jumper.  Don’t pick them up though, that’s mum’s job.  She likes it really.

P*ss on the bathroom floor and all over the loo seat, don’t bother to wipe it up.  Use half a toilet roll every loo trip and drop  the whole thing in the loo every couple of weeks.  Block the toilet regularly.

Treat your room with disrespect, draw on the walls and then claim your sibling did it.

You’ll learn soon enough that pushing each other on the stairs is a bad idea, broken leg anyone?  Because that’s what will happen.  And who will have to deal with the blood, the crying and the trip to A & E? Us.  Always us, here to pick up the f*cking mess you leave behind.

Oh and remember to taunt each other mercilessly, until you make the other one punch you.  Then laugh inwardly when they lose bedtime stories; because I know that’s what you’re doing.  Getting one over on your brother or sister is great isn’t it.  Make them miserable, just for your own bl**dy entertainment.

Cry when they nudge you slightly, rise to a howling crescendo and hold that arm like it’s dislocated.  Smirk when you think I’m not looking.

Oh, and when mum sounds hysterical and wants/needs to get out of the house…hide your f*cking shoes behind the sofa so we can’t go.

Cry, yell and wrap yourself around my ankles when I turn the TV off.  Sulk, slam doors, throw toys on the floor or at other people in an aggressive fashion. Nice.

Sing loudly and stand in front of the TV every time I want to watch something for a change.   When the TV is off, actively try to p*ss me off so badly I get desperate and let you watch TV for three hours at a time, just to avoid having to deal with you.

Raid the fridge, pour yourself a lovely glass of milk and use it all up so there’s none left for anyone else. make sure most of it spills all over the sides and under the microwave, leaving it to drip off onto the floor.  ‘Clean it up’, which means you get a tea towel, wipe the floor with it and then wipe the now filthy rag on the sides.

Use all my craft equipment, spread it all over the house, lose the tops off all my pens, take over my designated stationary drawers, use all my coloured paper, knacker my scissors.   Oh and don’t forget, drop my treasured android tablet so that you smash a bit off the bottom of it, and then cry and moan when I say you can’t use it anymore.  Surely it should be me crying and getting upset?

Wake me up every single solitary night, by wetting beds, having (imaginary?) tummy aches, worms, nightmares,  monsters under the bed, vomiting, spilling drinks on pillows or maybe even just for fun.  Make me into a nervous wreck.  Insomnia and exhaustion all bundled up into one Codeine, Kalms and Citralopram addict, because that’s the only way I can survive and sleep sometimes.  Complain when I don’t crawl downstairs to get you a glass of water at 3am, even though you’re quite capable of getting your own.

Scream at me when I get the words wrong whilst singing your bed-time songs, argue and shout at me because half way through your bedtime story you’re bored of it and want a different one.  Do this every night, without fail.  Or make up alternate reasons for the same behaviour, for example….. because at 10.30am in the morning I forgot to let you have an orange.

Yell at me because you’ve lost your bedtime songs because you were spitting at your sister, and then lie and say you didn’t do it in the first place.

Rip wallpaper off the bathroom walls, eat the toothpaste and smear it on the cupboards, shove toothbrushes down the plughole where it’s black and there’s manky bits of hair.  Yes I did see you doing that.

Because I’m a mum, because it’s my job, because I love you – I live with this and tolerate this behaviour almost every day.

Just after I had my second child I had a dream.  From a distance I saw myself naked and half submerged in the sea, far from the beach.  I held one of my babies in my arms, I’m not sure which child it was and I don’t think it mattered.  I tenderly held and breastfed my baby and as it nuzzled and fed, the baby bloomed.  Their cheeks became rosy and the skin became a light rose pink, chubby little arms and legs wrapped around me.  As the baby fed I saw myself slowly withering and ageing.  My skin gradually turned grey and I knew at that very instant that I was dying, that my life was leaving me and through my milk, my life was slowly filtering away.

You might think this was some sort of nightmare, but it wasn’t.  The most vivid thing I remember about this dream was an all-pervading feeling of calm and contentment.  I didn’t mind losing my youth and my life this way, I was happy, this was right, there was no other place I’d rather be.

I write this while the kids run around a playground.  Driven half mad with frustration, I dragged them out about half an hour ago.  I have been, and am still, burning with rage at them.  So sick of the endless arguments.

Every now and then one or the other of them shouts that they’re ‘the king of the castle’ and that I’m ‘the dirty rascal!’ as they balance atop a climbing frame. Talk about adding insult to injury!  Or they fall an inch to the ground and cry hysterically to get my attention, eventually giving up when for once I don’t immediately jump to their attention like I usually do.  Right now, this minute, I need my space.

The sun beats down for a minute or two, and then the world goes grey and cloudy again.  I rest my head on my hand, leaning my elbow on the bright blue metal playground bench; my other hand writing frantically with a crappy blue biro labelled ‘Iberostar, Hotels and Restaurants.’  I dont’ know why, I’ve never been to one.

The kids are sitting next to me, all I can hear is ‘Can I have it?’ and ‘No!’ and ‘That’s not fair!’  They are bickering over a leaflet for gods sake.

A dog yaps, Darlek sits beside me sniffing, cars rumble past.  I’m trying to finish this.  Trying to pull the loose ends together, but it’s all fraying, like my nerves.

I guess you could say, when all observations are made, when withering dreams are analysed, when silliness is curbed and reality is as harsh as a small Jack Russel barking none-stop three feet away from your ear………..this is just parenthood in the raw.  It drives us mad.  But because we care, because this is how we are built, the way we are, we give everything to our kids, deal with all the hardship and thank them for the privilege, and mean it.

A Quick Question

A Quick Question

** Update at 7pm.  Today we’ve had  £120 worth of tickets bought for these kids, that’s 4 kids who will be having  the time of their lives tomorrow!   Still trying and hoping for more though.  Quick!  Only got until tomorrow!**

**Update at 7.30pm The total has risen to £155, so that’s 5 and a bit tickets to Chessington World of Adventures.  How amazing are you lot!!!!**

**Update at 8pm Whoopdedoo! We’re up to £170 now, if we can manage just another £10 more we’ll have 6 tickets!  Come on!!!!**

**Update at 10pm. I can’t believe it, we have raised enough for eight children to go tomorrow! That’s £240, I’ve been asking for help on Facebook as well as Twitter and I’m just astounded at people’s generosity.  I think I might be speechless/wordless, and that doesn’t happen very often.  After the children have been on the trip, I’ve been given permission to post photographs, so you can all see what you’ve donated towards.  Thank you so much x 100000. :O)

**Update at 10.30pm. It just gets better and better!  Someone has just donated £10 so they can have ice-cream on their day out.  Awww… So that makes it £250.  Wow!

I saw a status on Facebook this morning that I just couldn’t ignore, I can’t personally help as we’re struggling ourselves, but I was wondering if anyone else would be able to do anything?  I am willing to offer something in return, please read on!

Tinsel

Every year PostPals has an annual party for all the children they support, and in previous years they’ve all gone for a trip out to Chessington on the same weekend, with tickets donated from a company.  This year the company has not been able to donate tickets so some families can’t afford to take their children.  For some of these kids , this will quite literally be the last time they will ever have this opportunity again.

These are photographs of some of the children that PostPals support, I’m not sure who is in need of tickets, but these are just a reminder of the great work PostPals does and who they support.  If you want to find out a bit more about this charity please click here: POST PALS 

FlagThey are looking for 4 disabled childrens’ tickets and 7 under 12 childrens’ tickets.  All are priced at approximately £30 a ticket, but the disabled ones allow an adult carer free also.  The problem is, it is this Saturday, as in tomorrow so it’s really short notice.  I know it’s really pushing it, but….

In return for a donation, I will happily write you a blog post advertising your lovely business / blog / products, or I’ll include pictures of your dog, favourite mug…..anything.  I’ll write about any subject of your choice even.  I’ll put anything on here (as long a it’s not lewd!)  if you make a donation so these kids can have a fun day out.  I’ll splash these blog posts across my social networks too.  Please help!

If you do want to help, please contact me on kay@rubbermonkeys.co.uk or comment on this blog post with a Twitter ID (not your email address, you’ll get spammed to death)  and I’ll get all the details so you can donate to PostPals.  If you can do anything to help, these kids will be so grateful.

It’s a Friday, get that Friday feeling by doing something lovely for someone else. x  Please.

(I’m offering 300 words on any subject of your choice and two photographs, can’t be bad!)

Pass it On….

Pass it On…

Years ago my mum got on a bus, when she reached into her pocket for her fare she realised she didn’t have any money to pay.   A woman behind her in the queue noticed her scrabbling for change and kindly offered to pay for her.  My mum thought this was very generous and asked for her address so she could repay her at a later date.   In reply, this woman simply told her to ‘pass it on,’ explaining that she didn’t owe her anything and that she should simply pass on the good deed to someone else when the time arose.

This is a little story my mum told me years ago and it has always stuck with me.  It’s a life lesson that I love.  A simple random act of kindness can make such a difference to people.  This unknown woman on a bus was nice to my mum, my mum told me about it, and now I try to live by this rule – so you could say her small act of kindness has echoed down the years, completely unbeknown to her.

I’m not saying I’m an angel, because I’m not.  I’m devious, self centred, lazy, bossy, thoughtless and lots of other things, but I’m also very conscious of what little I do can make a difference so I should always at least try to be a better person.  I make mistakes, as do we all, and I’m sorry for them, but I’m aware that I can change and that I should never just shrug my shoulders and accept my faults without putting up a bit of a fight. I can make a difference in this little world of mine and I’m going to get all preachy now, but I think it’s so important for us all to remember that we are not passive, powerless and unable to make this world a better place.

The other day the TV was blaring out in the living room and I suddenly realised that I was purposefully staring out of the window and trying not to pay attention to pictures of starving children and requests from Save The Children for funds because it made me feel bad, and because I felt hopeless to do anything for them. It’s not like we’re a rich family, we get by, but we struggle in our own way.  If I gave money to every charity that asked me for a donation, we’d be on the breadline too. I told myself that at the time, and then felt ashamed of myself.  I still haven’t donated even now and I am even more ashamed as a result.  But I do know that the next time I see one of their collection boxes I will drop a penny or two in, it’ll ease my conscience a little which is selfish really, but I’ll do it regardless.

Every day we are given choices.  We choose whether we help or not, whether that be by giving money or time or resources.  Sometimes we physically can’t do anything, but that shouldn’t stop us stopping and at least thinking about the very least that we can do.  A tiny, insignificant thing really can make a difference.  It’s not just giving to charity either, it’s about trying to be a light in a very dark world sometimes.   I’ve watched the news and cried at the state of things, I know that’s overdramatic, but I don’t think anyone with a heart hasn’t felt the burden of feeling useless in the face of a world that just seems to be so completely unfair.

‘I’m just one person, amongst billions, it’s just hopeless’  It’s this thought that makes me angry.  I think like this all the time, but I refuse to believe it, it’s not the way I want to live my life, it is a lie.  I’m not a politician changing a nation, I’m not a scientist making groundbreaking discoveries that can change lives, I don’t wrench plastic bags from the mouths of dolphins, I don’t live in a mud shack in Africa teaching kids how to read…..I’m just me.  A middle aged housewife, a scruffy one at that, living in a terrace, banging out blogs that only a few will have the patience to read.  But I don’t care, I’ll do this anyway.  Just being me, is a lot.  I do have a voice and I will make a difference, even if it’s only in a very small way.

I have a son and a daughter and I want to pass on this passion to them.  I can’t pair their socks up half the time, but I can teach them to be kind and to listen to other people when they need someone to talk to.  When someone is bullied and no-one has the courage to stand up for them, I want my children to be the ones who defend them.  They won’t be perfect and I never will be either, but I want them to try to be the best they possibly can be – and always to know that the simple act of trying is enough.

I physically can’t give to all the charities that ask for help, I can’t rescue all the sick animals, I can’t take away the guns that kill people in all these pointless wars I keep hearing about – but what I can do is try to raise my children in the best possible way I can.  I want them to ‘pass it on’ and by way of small acts of kindness, make a difference.   I’ll never be a career woman or ‘successful’ in the eyes of many, but if I manage to do this for my children and for others then I’ll have done my bit.

This is how I ‘pass it on.’  What do you do?

I’ve included this YouTube video, because it’s full of little things that people do that brighten life.

Sylvanian Families – Celebration Sea Breeze Rabbit Family!

Sylvanian Families – Celebration Sea Breeze Rabbit Family!

I have more Sylvanian Families to add to my collection!  ….coughs….erm I mean to my children’s collection.  I’m far too grown up for such things.  Honest.

Well OK, so I’m not being honest.  These beautiful little bunnies are mine, all mine!  Darlek and Sausage can play with them a little, but if they stamp on them, drop them in drinks of orange juice or otherwise damage them, I will have their guts for garters.  I think they are so cute and I’m afraid I have taken ownership of them for the moment.  Don’t tell anyone though will you? Please.  I’m just having a second childhood thing here.  A mid life crisis maybe?  Shush….

Beautiful Bunnies – ‘Mine!’ (Kay does an impression of the seagulls in Finding Nemo)

Now these aren’t just pretty faces, they are sea-faring bunnies too!  It seems they can sail ships and send postcards back to their mates on the mainland, saying: ‘Wish you were here but you’d dig a hole in the bottom of the boat and we’d sink, so maybe it was for the best that you stayed at home.’  

I just can’t imagine bunnies enjoying a life at sea, but it seems these do!  These are perfectly dressed for the occasion, although lacking life belts if I’m being picky.

The Sea Breeze family stands to attention before departing for foreign shores (ie. the top shelf upstairs).  They proudly display their paw written postcards, pre written in advance because they’re very organised bunnies.

Now for the embarrassing bit.  Customs are very strict these days, and even bunnies have to be checked for drugs etc.  The long arm of the law extends even into the world of Sylvania you know.  You may go …….’Oh no!’ and hide your face in horror now.

The poor Sea Breeze bunnies were strip searched. Shocking isn’t it.  No drugs were found, but the larger bunny had a falling-off-tail, and the smaller bunny didn’t even have a tail at all!  Curious and curiouser.  Customs let them travel anyway.

This is where I stop making up ridiculous stories about toy rabbits.  Actually my kids just removed all the clothes as they always do, just because they can.  As always the clothes are delicately and perfectly stitched and are gorgeous, but I did notice that the tail had been rather badly stuck on the bigger bunny, and that there didn’t appear to even be a tail on the little one. After questioning Evolution PR who sent me the toys, it seems the first one probably had a faulty tail and the teeny one didn’t actually come with one in the first place.  All I can presume is that little bunnies don’t grow pom-pom tails until they’re older.

I’ve seen a few Sylvanian Family critters now, and I’ve never noticed any other faults at all, so I think this is probably very unusual and I hate to point it out.  They are honestly very high quality, adorable little children’s toys as a rule.  I do hope you won’t judge them for the sake of one wobbly tail, that’d be heartless.

If you would like your own Sea Breeze Rabbit Family, you can find them HERE for £17.49.

Many thanks to Evolution PR for sending sea-faring bunnies, and I’m very sorry they were subject to such stringent custom regulations.   No other financial reward was given and all stupid stories were made up by yours truly. *bows*

A Fortnight in France – Part 3

A Fortnight in France – Part 3

If you’d like to read Part 2 you can find it HERE and if you want to go even further back (you glutton for punishment you!) Part 1 is HERE

In this Part, I write about our children’s divine table manners and etiquette and extol the virtues of gravel as a plaything.

Stinky Stuff

Darlek loves it here, I heard her saying the other day – ‘Can we stay here for ever and ever and ever’  I have to agree.  It’s beautiful.  We’re in three separate ‘Gits’ each with their own facilities, all the amenties we could need are in each property, although I think one of us is lacking a washing machine.  I can’t remember who in the party that is, but I suspect my nose may tell me towards the end of next week.  (not really, nobody stinks, honest!) ….actually having said that Darlek seems to have terrible wind!  Anyone would think we’d been feeding her dead rats for the month prior to the holiday.  It is funny when she does her ‘Farticus’ impression as it has been christened, but it stinks to high heaven!  Thank heavens for light breezes and that we’re mostly outside.

Son is still burping like a bullfrog at every meal.  I suspect our family is now notorious for blowing off in one way or another now.

The park directly in front of our ‘Git’. The kids played outside most of the time which was probably a blessing considering….

Tantrums and Rocket Lollies

Darlek had a minor meltdown over a ice-cream yesterday which was a bit traumatic. There was only one left and as Sausage is younger and often misses out on things because of this, he was given the ice-cream.  Poor Darlek thought that this was unfair and sobbed in a heap in a chair indoors for what must have been an hour.  No amount of cajoling could persuade her to rejoin the rest of the party and I sat there feeling like an absolute cow.  But really, have you ever tried splitting a rocket shaped ice-lolly in two?  Not gonna happen.  She got over it eventualy, but I suspect the emotional scarring may be permanent.

Matilda

Gangdad has been reading Matilda by Roal Dahl to her every evening.  She is spellbound!  Gangdad does all the different voices and really gets into the spirit of the book.  I suspect the voices get more muddled as more red wine is consumed towards the end of the evening where most of the reading is done.  I’m not allowed to read the book now as it’s Gangdad’s special book and he wants to know what happens.  I read a chapter the other day and he re-read it to Darlek as he wanted to keep tabs on the plot.  I know my place!

Saucy and Saucisson

Sausage has been rechristened Saucisson, which is French for Sausage we have  been told.  Speaking of funny names, Horace came back from a trip out with two huge cones of cardboard, sealed at the end with ‘Surprise!’ written across them.  I think they were the french equivalent of lucky dip bags.  Inside were random little tatty gifts for kids, one for a girl and one for a boy.  I think the real surprise was the pretend silver tiara, necklace and earrings that held the brand name ‘Saucy’.  We all decided that this little gift set was probably made in Hong Kong where no-one could speak english, so consequently they’d asked some random translation package on the internet for a translation of the chinese word for ‘Cheeky’ and had ended up with ‘Saucy’ as a suggestion.  With all the erm…’dodgy’ associations with the word, it was generally agreed that the goods had probably been politely refused in the UK and had been shipped over to none-english speaking countries where they could be sold without raised eyebrows.

Darlek thought they were a bit young for her I think and refused to wear them, not ungraciously though.  Grandma Sweara sat beautifully bedecked in plastic jewellery for a while instead until she got bored of them and Saucisson adopted the necklace for a while.  Parading them up and down over his ‘Monster’s’ T’shirt.  Darlek has suddenly become very grown up, and a lot more self aware than she was.  She now refuses to have her hair in pigtails because she says they laugh at girls at school who wear them.  It won’t be long until she starts with a passion for Prada and posh hair straighteners.  I know it’s a cliche to say they grow up so quickly but they really do.  I looked at her the other day and noticed how long her legs have become, and how tall and lithe she is.  I’m not saying she wasn’t beautiful before, but it was a slightly chubby little girl beauty before, with the slightly dimpled elbows and filled out face.  These days she seems built like a racing grayhound as my dad would say, and I can see her running ahead towards her girlhood and away from her babyhood.  Ah, my gorgeous girl!  The most gorgeous girl in the world if you ask me, but then I’m biased.

A quiet interlude on our balcony.

Me stood on the balcony eating toast and looking spaced out.

The gits we are staying in are really like home from homes, complete with sitting rooms with leatherette chairs, well- equipped kitchens, bedrooms with little bunches of lavender tied with ribbons on bedside tables, handy bedside lamps; quirky little paintings on the walls.  The little touches such as the hairdrier in every house is much appreciated too.  I forgot mine, along with Sausage’s specially bought swim pants, the toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo and conditioner and the bottom half of my new bikini.  Thankfully I also bought an all in one costume too so I shall not have to go swimming whilst completely indecent.

I suspect the favourite facility is the outside swimming pool.  there are two, one in the grounds of the house and one raised up further up the hill.  Both are beautifully maintained (no chips or cracks in the masonry, loungers that all work and look new), and are heated by the sun throughout the day.  Around the pool there’s baby doll pink, red and white roses so it is framed very picturesquely.  It may not be an infinity pool, but it’ll do nicely for us.    They’ve even provided a baby floation belt and two floatation tubes so the kids have something to play with in the pool if visitors have forgotten to bring inflatables (which we did!).  The best thing about the swimming pool is that it is completely fenced off with a reasonably tall wooden picket fence, gated with a chidproof lock to ensure there’s no unattended children in there. My daughter in true precocious style has mastered the lock but thankfully has the common sense (usually) not to go in there by herself.  She did once and was right royally told off, she’s not done it since!  Anyway she can swim quite well now. Saucisson cannot swim and is less precocious so cannot get in there, which is a great relief.  I can’t imagine anything worse than having an acessible swimming pool in the grounds of a holiday home.

Slowly burning to a frazzle but not minding at all.

Who Needs Toys When You’ve Got Gravel?

The younger kids seem fascinated with gravel and stones.  The trip to the river resulted in a medium sized basket of stones of varying sizes, the most prized being the lovely amber rose coloured quartz which seems endemic to this area.  The plaza in St John is cobbled with the stuff.  The other stones which have proved as substitute toys are the gravel that covers the pathways from the houses to the roadway.  Endless hours have been spent with the kids shovelling stones from the pathway onto the seated area, and then back again ad infinitum.  Sausage has been taught to use the smaller brush to brush the stuff back on to the path in a vain attempt to stop the path invading underneath our outside dining table.  Unsucessfully of course.  Someone has organised a bowl of water with stones in for the kids to play with, because of course they always look prettier under water and kids love wet stuff.  I’ve just heard the parent of the youngest child shout ‘Stop chewing rocks!’ at her, something you just don’t expect to hear shouted whilst in the midst of a civilised sitting-in-the-garden-drinking-vodka-and-tonics afternoon.

I can’t remember what Sausage was saying at this point, but It was probably something along the lines of ‘The gravel is all mine, all MINE! Mwahhahahaha *evil laugh*’

This reminded me of when Darlek was a ‘littly.’  I was once memorably heard to yell ‘Stop waving that penguin in such a threatening manner!!!’  Another usually unheard of phrase.  Daughter was in the posession of a wooden penguin on a stick and was waving it like she was going to bray someone with it.

The Day France was Closed.

We had a disasterous trip out for the second generation, ie, the older kids, leaving their brethren behind for the first generation to look after them.  The plan was to find the local caves, and then find somewhere for lunch.  As it was we decided to visit a chateau on the way, which was like a huge dramatic building on the outside, complete with gargoyles and towers, inside it looked like it had very little furnishings left apart from some elaborate tapestries and inexplicable, expensive looking paintings of rhinos. And no, I’m not making that up.

Stunning on the outside, loads of paintings of rhinos on the inside. Armadillo’s! (sorry, not sure where that came from, I’m not mentally scarred from advertising or anything….)

We then went on to the caves where they had some ancient cave drawings on display – which was closed.  So we decided to go and get some lunch and stopped off at a roadside garage / cafe – which was closed too.  After a couple of soft drinks we headed off to a larger town to find food – every single solitary place that sold food  was closed.  We laughed it off and starved quietly.

This is so completely alien to me!  I didn’t realise, but France is known for ‘closing’ mid-day for a sort of siesta, and you have to time things around their routine.  In Britain you can find a butty at Greggs almost any time of the day!  The starving bit wasn’t so much fun, so we went to another restaurant – which was, guess what, closed.  In absolute desperation we went to a shop to buy a packet of crisps to share  – it was closed!  I have vivid memories of Annabel in the back of the car saying ‘I’ve got some chewing gum, there’s only one piece, but does anyone want it?’ and I think at that point we thought enough was enough.  About ready to chew our own arms off we all sheepishly returned to the git and devoured bread and cheese and then called it a day.  The day of freedom didn’t quite work out, although I still enjoyed it because we were child free for once.  We could have driven round aimlessly in circles for 2 hours and I’d have been fine about it – wait on…..we did.

I ate more way, way too much French bread and pate. Note the hamster cheeks.

Oui!

Sausage’s potty training has gone to pot, I’m not sure if it is because of the casual french used here and there.  We all say ‘Oui!’ (wee!) at regular intervals and he seems happy to oblige.  I am so sick of wet pants.  It has been suggested that we send him to Africa because they are short of water there.  He apparently has the abilty to wee more than he actually drinks, a valuable resource over there maybe.

To be continued……are you bored yet?……or are you booking a flight to France this very second.  I know what I wish I was doing……. *sighs*

If you’d like to read Part 4 – please click HERE!

Making Xmas Decs with Yummy Dough!

Making Xmas Decs

with Yummy Dough!

This little bucket of fun saved me from complete insanity this afternoon.  It was the first day of the Christmas holidays and it was chucking it down.  Sausage kept trying to throw himself off the sofa onto cushions he had thrown onto the floor as a makeshift ‘playground’ and Darlek was pleading for TV every couple of minutes – so Yummy Dough craft it was!  The overall summary of the doughy afternoon is at the end of the post.

When you open the packet, this is what you find!

Four white plastic bags with printed serial numbers and...

...an orange spatula and...

...a syringe?!....

So, it’s very simple!  Each bag needs precisely 15ml of water adding to it; it then needs mixing until it’s like a crumble mixture – then finally kneading until it resembles dough.   Easy peasy.

You can even use the bucket to mix the dough, as long as you rinse it between mixing the different colours.

Mix flour type stuff with an precisely 15ml of water.

The syringe is simply so that you mix only 15ml of water with the dough, no more, no less.  I know this is important because our green dough turned into a horrid sticky mess because I added an extra 2 teaspoons.  See daughter’s hands when she tried to knead it:

Anyone for a hug?

Once you’ve mixed all the bags you get four lovely juggling ball sized lumps of dough to play with!

Nice vibrant colours! They reminded me of multi-coloured over-sweet scone dough

After squishing them around on a tray for a while, rolling sausages and stamping shapes we came up with these ‘biscuits’ which we decided were destined for our christmas tree. I used a chopstick to make holes in them, so they could be hung on ribbons once they were cooked.

Sausage favoured sausage shapes, Darlek made a bird's nest, I made spots :O)

These were all placed on greaseproof paper and bobbed in the oven at 120 degrees (fan assisted) for the recommended 12 – 15 minutes, and then for another 15 minutes after that.  I think ours took longer because some of them were very thick.

They came out of the oven, cooled down and had ribbon threaded through them. After that we hung them on the tree!  Darlek insisted that the bird shaped one went on the same branch as the bird’s nest one, which I thought was incredibly sweet.

Both Santa and the Yummy Dough biscuit are unlikely to survive beyond Xmas day.

So, what do I make of Yummy dough?  Right, let’s get the negatives out of the way first.  Not that there’s many or anything.

Presentation!  I wish they’d made the individual plastic bags look prettier, and that they’d had the actual colours written on them in child friendly print, rather than serial numbers that would have looked more at home on the side of a tin of paint from B & Q.  And the syringe, oh dear.  It looks medical, it is medical!  I’ve used similar ones myself for administering Calpol.  Surely it would look better if it was in a bright colour at least, and had doses of water marked, rather than numbers of milliletres on the side.  There was something rather disturbing about seeing my daughter in charge of a syringe. The bucket itself looks fun and is packaged so well for kids, the contents just don’t match up I’m afraid.

Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, how Yummy are your Branches! *sings*

The positives!  It tastes quite nice, rather like very, very sweet scone dough mixture.  It dries up very quickly when it crumbles and falls on the floor so it can easily be hoovered up, much easier than playdough I found.  The dough moulds fairly easily into shapes, rather like the consistency of stout ginger biscuit mixture.  Once baked it felt very sturdy and like the decorations would actually last for quite a while.  I reckon, uneaten, they’d survive until next year if not beyond.  The cooked dough felt as tough as salt dough if you’ve ever come across that.

So, that’s what I thought at least! If you’d like to buy some of this Sarah and Luisa Yummy Dough you can find it HERE!

I also recommend that you have a look at their fabulous, beautifully done Yummy Dough website, it’s really quite adorable and a useful resource if you’re thinking of how to use Yummy Dough with your kids.

 

I was given some Yummy Dough to review and inadvertently stick in my hair, no other financial reward was given.