Shhhh… it’s a secret!

We must be blinking mad! We have only gone and reserved a puppy! A gorgeous white and brown sprocker. 

We have contemplated getting a dog for years, but have never been able to due to both working full time with long hours. Not to mention three young children. A dog sadly didn’t fit in with our lifestyle. The eldest, is dog mad, and happily accompanies my sister and her dog on walks. To be fair, she is actually quite obsessed, and I am pretty sure she will be an absolute nightmare when the puppy arrives. Something tells me she will get more than a tad possessive, and I sense lots of tearful outbursts when the puppy needs a break from cuddles, or worse still a sibling is having quality puppy time!

With work circumstances changing, it now means the majority of the time, someone will be home with the dog; certainly while he is very young and being trained. Moving house, has also meant we now walk to and from school everyday. In theory, as long as he is well trained, he will accompany us, meaning a guarantee 40 minute exercise, and there are lots of lovely local walks to do morning/evening, long and short. I know it will be a challenge juggling 3 children, 1 dog, 2 cats, 3 rats and lots of fish, but life certainly won’t be boring haha

Three weeks on Sunday (not that I am excited or anything). So any top tips, things to buy/not to buy are more than welcome!



Now to think of a name- Cosmo, Marley, Murphy, Bentley, Rambo, Otis….

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Save our Swimming Clubs

 

Did you know that Cheshire East and other local authorities are trying to create a monopoly on the delivery of swimming lessons?

Did you know Everybody leisure wants to gain all the kiddiewinks  currently learning through the ASA Learn to Swim’ swimming schemes through swimming club, and transfer them to the ‘Everybody Leisure’ books.

This can’t and shouldn’t happen! Particularly because these changes are not proposed for the good of our kiddiewinks; instead these changes are proposed in order to maximise the capacity for income.

 Everybody leisure, are insisting all younger members, still working through the ASA schemes, are transferred onto their books, taking away the element of choice for young swimmers and their families.

Swimming clubs are so much more than just swimming lessons. Kiddiewinks matter! Kiddiewink’s swimming progression and enjoyment matter! Kiddiewinks gain experience of competitive swimming and become part of a social community. Offering them not only skills of swimming, but increasing confidence, self-esteem, friendship and self belief.

As a child, I swam with Knutsford Vikings, and have many find memories of point score galas and championships, as well as swimming for my town, and enjoying the social aspect it also offered. My keen interest in swimming was solely down to being part of a vibrant swimming club community, and if this had not been available to me at a young age, I very much doubt I would have progressed in the way I did.image

My own Kiddiewinks, both joined ‘Everybody Leisure’ at the age of three, and my experience of their programmes is not a positive one. The leisure centre offered no flexibility within their schemes, and seemed unable to differentiate for individual needs within the swimming stages. What is more, there was never any consistency, regular staffing changes and skills, meant progression for my Kiddiewink’s was minimal and they began to dread swimming lessons. Staff were unaware of individual strengths and weaknesses due to the staffing changes and some seemed to lack flexibility of approach according to needs of the group. There is something wrong with a system, where a four year old, who can get a dive stick from the bottom of the pool, is jumping in a circle in the pool, wearing three armbands on each arm and  blowing bubbles, I kid you not, this was a regular occurrences. That said, some of the teachers were excellent and it is not poor teaching that is my issue.Complaints were rarely dealt with, phone also and emails ignored. Everything and everyone seemed confused all the time. Am I the only one with this negative experience of everybody leisure? Sadly, not! many parents are unhappy with the standard of lessons they were being offered with ‘Everybody  Leisure’; I regularly hear parents moaning about the lack of progression and continuity. Holiday swimming lessons were a particular bone of contention. Why are parents expected to pay the same price for swimming lessons, which are of even more substandard quality? Staff holidays and absences, meant stages are often put together meaning, once again,no progression and continuity. Staff often didn’t know the children at all and  Everybody Leisure introduced these fancy learning portals, what a fantastic idea, one that should avoid teacher’s not ‘knowing’ their students. Well, it would be a good idea if all staff actually updated them. We went 8 months with no updates at all!

All in all, the idea and concept of parents and families having the choice taken away from them is disgusting, especially as it is not to help our kiddiewinks, only financial profit. I for one will not be taking it lying down. My kiddiewinks will not be joining ‘Everybody Leisure’ books, not tomorrow, next week or ever!  It would be cheaper and more beneficial to teach them myself, failing that I would rather pay a bit more for private lessons (these would still offer better value for money than everybody leisure).

Please save our swimming clubs and give our Kiddiewinks the choice and opportunity to join a swimming club community, and enjoying being part of a team. Letting kiddiewinks experience competitive swimming at a young age, fostering their love of self improvement, and health,  may mean swimming clubs are training the young Olympic swimmers of the future.

SAVE OUR SWIMMING CLUBS!

Just for fun, click here to see a video of my little swimmer at 4.5- the same little man who was being made to wear three armbands and was bored rigid!

Please join the Twitter stream at @knutsvikings and feel free to lobby councillors, and  anyone else you think could make a difference.

Jack Cherry and the Juicer- a review on this resource designed  to boost self-esteem, confidence and resilience.

‘Jack Cherry’ is a company offering resources and workshops all about a character called Jack. It aims to boost self-esteem, confidence and resilience in children, by helping put them in control of their thoughts. The idea of a juicer is used to help children reframe thinking.


As a family, we were thrilled to see that the main character in the comic wears glasses- my middle kiddiewink was horrified to see him being ridiculed about them and he felt very angry for Jack. Both myself and the children could see the impact on Jack of several negative things happening, and we talked about when they had had a bad day and how it made them feel.

 The comic itself is well illustrated and clear, with the message being about how bad thoughts and feelings, making you feel bad. In essence you have to keep out the bad things, just like you would keep the bad fruits out of a smoothie. We had great fun thinking up alliteration for happy fruits; fitting in perfectly with what my eldest has been doing in literacy this week. Personally, it thought that Jack coming up with the fruit and juicer analogy was powerful, as oppose to an adult sharing it with children. It was also great that he triumphed in the end!

The comic book is currently available free to download.

We were also sent a link to an audio book; I struggle with audiobooks, as I am an excellent storyteller (blowing my own trumpet here, but I really am). Although, I am sure it is very good, but the voice instantly annoyed me, as I know I could have made it sound just as good  (if not better).

The activity book that went with it looks fun, and the kids are keen to complete different aspects; a maze, making posters, games and word searches. Just got to get some ink for my printer first…

The resource as a whole, would be great to use at home and in the classroom as part of PHSCE or as part of an anti-bullying week (although a bit late for this years National anti-bullying week 16th -20th November). I can imagine many school councils would enjoy sharing this resource with their peers and some great activities (music, drama, paper activities and discussion) could be generated from reading the comic as a stimulus.

For more information on using the resource at home or in the classroom click here. There are videos and more information on the excellent resources on offer to boost children’s self-esteem and confidence, including resources to help with the stress of sats.

The creator (Simon Benn) also does workshops to schools which amazingly, are either free or funded and I certainly intend to book him in for next years Anti-Bullying Week.

Toilet Training at 18 months-are you insane?

At a young age, kiddiewinks become fascinated with the toilet. Loving to throw into the toilet anything they can get their hands on (mummy’s make up, their siblings toys, a toothbrush, anything goes). Another firm favourite, is putting their hands in the toilet, the down side of this is you can miss it in the blink of an Eye, delightful… Anywhere on average, from 18 months to three, comes the toilet training journey, alongside lots of jokes, and conversations involving poo and wee. Trumps become funny and “I need a poo”, or “come and wipe my bum please” become common place.

Both my elder kiddiewinks, showed signs of toilet training readiness  at around 18 months, but I didn’t completely foster their readiness; listening to comments such as “they are far too young”, “you are insane”, “it’s easier when they’re older”.  Nevertheless,  I began to recognise their signals, so we had some hits in the potty.

Kiddiewink One’s Story

At 18 months she showed real signs of toilet readiness but I was too much of a chicken to potty train an 18 month old in winter and she still seemed so young. (Advice from others was often, she is still so little). But she pulled at her nappy as soon as she had gone, so we properly introduced the potty(it had been around the house from around 12 months). She would go to the potty whenever she fancied it and she occasionally did something, sometimes she was just sitting on it fully clothed.

At two, as it coincided with the start of the summer holidays, she trained in a week, with no accidents at all after that. The first day with big girl knickers on, she didn’t have any accidents at all, weeing in her nappy at nap time, and then weeing in the bath(she had clearly held it in so long, the bath turned yellow). Day two consisted of a million accidents, but by day three she was happy to use the potty, the travel potty with the froggy liner on helped, she liked trying to get the froggy wet. I have vivid example memories of her sitting on the travel potty, on a bench, in the park. Soon into the potty training we realised the nappy had to come off at nap time, due to her holding all her wee until the nappy at nap time. This, KW1 thought was a great game, shouting “wee wee ” regularly so we had to get her and out her back on, grrrrr! By the end of week one she was completely dry, and within two months, we realised she was dry in the morning, and in her seven years, she has only wet the bed twice.

Kiddiewink Two’s Story

Little man was somewhat more stubborn.  Showing signs of being ready to train at 18months, crying to get out of the pool on holiday when he needed a wee, and pulling at nappy when he had gone. In hindsight, I really wish I had attempted it properly at that point,  as it was my lack of consistency that contributed to his stubbornness. Everyone told me 18 months was very young for a boy so I just continued letting him get ‘used to’ the potty instead of attempting potty training. He went from happily weeing occasionally in the potty, to refusing to go anywhere near it. Again, he could happily hold his wee in until nap time, and again wait for the bath, he was wearing big boy pants, and having no accidents but also not going to to the toilet.  After a few weeks of him refusing to go, I decided I would have to play hard ball. Yes, I know all advice is not to force them, they might not be ready. But he had been been bloody ready for over 6 months, and was taking the ‘piss’. Refusing to let him have a bath until he had a wee on the potty worked a treat, he muttered ok with a sad face, he sat down and immediately got up shouting “Bath, bath, bath”. I put him back on him and held him, he said “ok”, again with a sad face, and  promptly did a wee (a very very long one).After that, the next battle was that he insisted on using the toilet, less convenient when out and about, but he loved nature wees! Meaning when he started pre-school, he was totally toilet trained ( siting down to wee). After that it was plain sailing. He was 2 and a half, when he declared he was a big boy and didn’t need a nappy at a night! He was right! Again, minimal accidents.

Kiddiewink Threes story (so far…)

Now we reach the 18 month stage and my littlest kiddiewink has been pulling at her nappy and doing the nappy sign when she does a wee. With it being the summer holidays, and my kiddiewinks having my undivided attention, I am trying to get her interested in the potty. So far, it is going well, a poo and a wee each day in the potty, again she seems happier to hold it until nap or bath time, jumping off the potty before doing anything. The wee sensation seems to freak her a bit. Even waking last night at 8.30, shouting “nap o”, As her nappy was drenched. she did a little wee in the potty and then went down happily in a new nappy, luckily til 7.45am this morning. So far we have successfully done a poo every day, on the potty. A few times, she has gone and got the potty. The others has been down to me watching her closely, and putting her on when I thought she needed it, if she needs it, I have noticed she sits quite happily, and has a very different look in her face  (poo face). One was even at bedtime, when she wouldn’t settle. On the third time of going to her, I noticed she was doing the nappy sign, I asked her did she want the potty, she replied “yeh, nap nap o”. I put her on the potty, she did a mahoosive poo, and then she went to bed quite happily.

Do I dare go cold turkey with no nappies? Not on your nelly! Would that be quicker? Who know she?  who cares? I will not let potty training stress me out! We will go with her cues, nappy off when awake, progressing to big girl pants when we dare, and keep reminding her to try on the potty. Big perk of this is, we have less pooey nappies to wash! We are off on hollibobs soon, so will continue with no nappy there, watch this space…

My toilet training top tips

  • Go with the flow and try not to get stressed(clever little kiddiewinks know how to play to stress).
  • Don’t put pressure on yourself and them; it is a next step not a hurdle
  • Don’t be swayed by other people ( everyone has an opinion – too soon, too slow…)
  • Introduce the potty at a young age, just have it round the house.
  • Invest in some sort of travel potty, (Kiddiewinks love the novelty of weeing anywhere)
  • Lots of nappy free time, unless they get wet, they won’t know the sensation
  • There will be accidents, just wipe it up calmly and never get cross. As, Sadie at Fit for Parenting says, “shit happens”.
  • Nature wees are awesome (I drew the line when KW2 squatted on the school field and pooed)
  • Let them watch TV, play with a toy, anything to distract them from getting off.
  • Remember all children are different; some want the potty, some want the toilet; some are 18months, some are 3.
  • Still wearing a pull up at night at 5 is fine, it does not automatically mean they are lazy, or naughty, or that they have a medical issue. They say night time depends on their bladder! Some children are very deep sleepers, and the only accidents we had were when they were exhausted.

 

 

Tears and tantrums…

Why is it children know which buttons to press to get a reaction?

Why do they seemingly cry at the drop of a hat? 

 With parenting, comes stages and phases! Not all of them lovely and candy coated. 

 When kiddiewink 1 is in good form, she is an absolute delight and wonderful company; when she is ‘on one’ beware…

Kiddiewink 1 (nearly 7years old)is offering numerous challenges at the moment, mainly in that her attitude stinks! She speaks to us all like rubbish if the mood takes her and she has brief moments of being really mean to little man. If she doesn’t like the answer to something, she will persist on asking and asking and asking. Why do children assume the more often they ask and the whingier they get, the more likely they are to get it. She also cries at the drop of a hat, the slightest thing can bring her to tears (very toddlerish). Today’s list was; daddy sitting on the chair she had planned to sit on; not being allowed a club biscuit; being asked to give her baby sister a bit of space, her brother having a cuddle that was longer than hers.

Bless her, she is an absolute doting big sister,and, plays and looks after the other two beautifully. 

She just seems a bit sad at the minute and we seem to be in cycle of grotty attitude from her and nagging and ‘getting at’ by us  I think I need to find time to do something special with just her again. Making her feel loved, important and extra special.



Spellings- supporting at home

As a teacher, I need to teach spellings; as for sending them home to learn, I have mixed feelings! I send groups of words home for learning but do not necessarily test children on the same words; I just focus on the same sound! My reason… Children can learn words for a spelling test, but the real test is can they apply them in their writing! Instead, I am focusing on them taking home all those words they frequently spell wrong in their independent writing! These differ for all children and learning them will make a real difference. I have children in my class focusing on ‘when’, ‘with’, ‘found’, ‘suddenly’ etc . Every child in my class could tell an adult what spellings they need to learn and why, and that keeps it real.

My daughter gets spellings every week (she is a year two); finding time to practice as regularly as we would like was a nightmare initially (with us working full time) but now she can independently practise for some of the time! This has had a massive impact on her confidence, enthusiasm and success!
We bought an app for about £1.49, it is amazing and there are similar wonderful apps available!


The children type the spelling, record it and practise, kiddiewink three loves taking ownership, and eagerly puts them in on the day she gets her new words. The addition of anagrams, practices and tests, keeps it varied and since we started using it, she has had 10/10 every week!
Another good way, is the tried and tested look, say, cover, write check sheet- just search in Google and there is lots of templates. Kiddiewink’s school have just started sending them out, so now we do a mixture of ipad and written. Spellings are no longer a chore in our house, and as she can practice independently for some of the time, and enjoys doing it; time is no longer an issue either.

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Another fun way of helping them at home, is

  • mnemonics such as         because- big elephants can’t always understand small elephant

saw- smiling aliens win

anything they will remember will work…

  • flash cards- these can be as simple as a piece of scrap paper with the word written boldly. Display them in lots of prominent places around the house.
  • writing words in flour or sand
  • Writing it in lots of pretty colours
  • little rhymes and phrasing – eg there is a hen in when.
  • Having fun in a no pressure environment -little and often

This is the key (well I think so anyway)

Even better, is that younger siblings want to get in on the action and experiment with letters!

Rear facing car seats, I’m all for them.

When I heard about these, while pregnant with Kiddiewink 3, I knew I would have to seriously consider getting one! I am a real worrier; faced with facts, I knew a ERF seat (extended rear facing seat) was the way forward.

Ten facts taken from securatot.co.uk

  • Rear facing is five times safer than forward facing.
  • The British Medical Journal published a report on 11th June 2009 stating that rear facing seats are safer than forward facing seats for children under 4yrs.
  • Two thirds of child fatalities in the under–four age group occur in cars (the AA).
  • The British Medical Journal have published an alert on their website advising parents to keep young children in rear facing seats for as long as possible.
  • A US study involving 870 children aged under 2yrs concluded that rear facing seats were more effective than forward facing seats in protecting children aged 0-23 months for all crash types.
  • In Sweden between July 2006 and November 2007 not one child under the age of six was killed in a car crash. Children in Sweden sit rear facing until the age of four.
  • 205 children under 5 are seriously injured in the UK every year and a further 21 are killed, while in cars (the AA).
  • Frontal and frontal offset car-to-car crashes are by far the most common sort of accident. They are also the most dangerous.
  • A child’s neck only needs to stretch more than a quarter of an inch before snapping.
  • There are no reported incidents of rear facing children hurting their legs.

We used a maxi cosi forward facing with Kiddiewink 1 &2; we had been really happy with it! My hubby and friends thought I was bonkers for considering spending more money on car seats. But the facts and wider reading left me feeling I had to get one! Although day to day, we don’t do too much driving, we holiday in France- with long drives.

Won’t they get bored?
Is it fair?
Won’t their legs be squashed?

These were some different questions I was asked with regard to my choice?
In answer to them…

The chances are they won’t get bored, the seats sit much higher in the car, meaning they have a brilliant view out of the window!
Kiddiewinks know no difference , they won’t be thinking how mean you are facing backwards- besides even if they were, safety first !
My child has loads of legroom and will do for sometime! All seats have varied amounts of legroom.

Once I had decided it was a no brainer for us, I began my research. We needed to fit three seats in the back, for my above average size kiddiewinks (hubby 6ft 7). A friend offered lots of advice and the internet came in handy too…
www.securatot.co.uk
www.rearfacing.co.uk
We narrowed it down to about four,,,
Hauck varioguard, be safe iZi combi isofix, britax two way elite and another few (I forget which). I then searched for the best price and stuck it on the credit card; couldn’t really afford it, but knew that for me, peace of mind was a small price to pay! A forward facing was fine when I knew no difference, but faced with the facts, if something happened I would never forgive myself…
After lots of umming and ahing I decided on the Besafe as I found it on offer at babybirds.
My hubby and mum remained skeptical…
When it arrived, I fitted it myself (so hubby couldn’t moan) and we were all thrilled with the results! Legroom isn’t a problem and Kiddiewink three seems happy as larry in her new seat! Even mum and hubby are convinced with my decision : )

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