Posts Tagged ‘3 year old’

My gosh. It’s been just over a year since I posted anything on here… but hey, life with three little daughters and a full time job doesn’t leave me with much free time at the moment. But I’m off work for two weeks with the girls while the inlaws are holiday – they are our key childcare providers, so while they enjoy a well-earned break touring round Canada, I’m playing at full-time mummy for a while!

It’s a tiring job! Especially the mechanics of the school run with Terrorist Toddler Eve, whose passion for mischief and capacity to do the opposite of what she should be doing still knows no bounds. So, if you had been a bystander last week around school drop off / kick out times you would likely have seen a very frazzled woman, no doubt dressed inappropriately for the changeable weather, trying to keep pace with a sprinting toddler, while urging a dawdling 6-year-old and trying to calm a hysterical 3-year-old who gets into a terrible panic if Eve runs ahead or Lilly lags behind…

Anyway… here we are at the tail end of a bank holiday Monday. Eve and Isla have been tucked up in bed early, Lilly is lying on the sofa next to me playing games on an old iPhone.

We’ve had a really full day today. First we visited the Commercial Vehicle Museum in Leyland. Random, I know, but it was the hubby’s idea, as he’s currently learning to drive a large goods vehicle and so has trucks on his mind a lot at the moment!

It was better than I expected (and much better than the one in St Helens, which is one of the worst ‘museums’ we’ve ever had the misfortune to visit!) To start with Eve was quite well behaved, she really enjoyed pressing buttons and looking at the mini tram set. Of course, eventually she went downhill and started pegging it all over the museum, causing Isla to react hysterically, chasing her and screeching at the same time… only making Eve sprint even faster, of course. Eventually it was time to make our excuses and leave, but not before the girls enjoyed sitting on an old fashioned fire engine and ringing the bell, sitting on the top deck of an old bus, and even squeezing into a red phone box (none of them had the foggiest what it was!) and pretending to make phone calls.

Commercial Vehicle Museum bus stop 26.5.14 Commercial Vehicle Museum fire engine 26.5.14 Commercial Vehicle Museum fire engine2 26.5.14 Commercial Vehicle Museum mini tram set 26.5.14 Commercial Vehicle Museum Eve is lollypop lady 26.5.14

So all in all, a partial success!

We then headed back to pick up the bike we’d ordered for Lilly yesterday at Halfords. We rang ahead and it wasn’t quite ready, so we braved an hour in a local beer garden, seeing as the sun was shining. There were a couple of incidents when the girls decided it was fun to do a lap of the little path around the bowling green – first Isla falling and scuffing her knees, then Eve deciding to go off course and try to run off to the back of the bowling green, causing me to sprint after her, not sure where she was headed! In between all that, the girls played nicely (Naughty Pirates is their current favourite made up game) and didn’t wander off too far.

Unscathed, we headed off to pick up The Bike. We decided to buy one for Lilly after she took it upon herself to teach herself to ride without stabilisers a few weeks ago. We tried to teach her last year, but she was having none of it. Then this year, typical Lilly, she decided to do it, and she just did it. Same as with all her major milestones – walking, reading, everything.

Anyway the bike she had was old and too small for her. So today we collected her new bike and took them all to a local park for a ride.

Isla had her ‘cupcake’ bike, we took the Scuttlebug for Eve. They absolutely loved it, riding round and round, up and down the bandstand, all over the place. Lilly was fantastic on her bike especially considering it is much bigger than the one she’s been practicing on. Eve was a little bit big for the Scuttlebug, but she gave it her best shot (before she decided to resume her favourite hobby of randomly sprinting off towards a road or other danger, causing mummy and daddy to have to chase and tackle her to the ground!)

Bike 26.5.14 Bike 26.5.14 2 Bike 26.5.14 3

By the time we got home, me and hubs were shattered – as usual!

But luckily so were they and we got away with putting Eve and Isla to bed pretty early (sneaky mummy and daddy!)

Anyway, that’s bit of what we’ve been up to, hopefully I’ll be back with more before another year goes by!



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We have just returned from another really lovely break at Center Parcs.

This time, we wanted to experience the Winter Wonderland they do each year, as the first part of our build-up to Christmas.

We had booked plenty of lovely Christmassy activities for Lilly to do, including Christmas pottery painting, a Santa and Snowman hunt and a Frosty the Snowman art session which involved lots of glitter and Christmas stickers!

Lilly enjoying the 'Frosty the Snowman' art session

The weather at Whinfell Forest (Cumbria) was fabulous for the whole week – it only rained the day we left. The rest of the time it was crisp and sunny – perfect.

We were very excited to hear that there was going to be a fireworks display on the second night at 5.30pm – conveniently timed before the girls’ bedtimes, which is usually about 6.30pm. It is only this year that Lilly has recovered from her total and utter terror of fireworks – in fact on November 5th Lilly actually ventured out into the neightbourhood with daddy to admire the fireworks… even the really loud ones! But this was her first proper display.

We had such a tiring day on the Tuesday – starting with pottery painting in the morning. Lilly chose to paint a snowman, a stocking and a Father Christmas shaped ornament for the tree. Technically there should have been a lot of red and white involved… but I think Lilly considered white a little bit too boring to paint much of – so snowman ended up with a red face and Santa’s beard is a very attractive mix of purple and green! But they do look rather lovely all the same – and once again I was so impressed with how delicate and detailed she can be when she tries!

In the afternoon we’d gone swimming – which can be a bit of a military procedure with two little ones at the best of times. Everytime we have taken Isla swimming (on all our three previous visits to Center Parcs with her) she has hated it, where Lilly has always loved it. I think Isla has found it a bit of an overwhelming, noisy and hot experience. And at first when we took her in she was upset again and grizzly. So I sat with her in the baby pool and she sat on the edge with her feet in, playing happily with a bucket and a watering can for a while. Once she had acclimatised to the environment we tried taking her into the big pool – and this time, she actually seemed to quite like it! In fact, after a little while, she was giggling! It was a major breakthrough!

Lilly’s favourite thing about the pool as always was going round the ‘rapids’ and dodging the water sprays (she calls the big one Mr Sprayer and the little one Mrs Sprayer!) She also liked swimming outside – which was rather cold, I must say!

After the swimming we were all exhausted so decided to get a bite to eat in the village square instead of going home for tea and coming out again for the fireworks. It was a great plan (although an expensive one) – I was way too knackered to cook after all that exercise – and the timing was just perfect as the fireworks display started not long after we finished eating.

The display was brilliant – and all set to Christmas music. Watching Lilly’s face was the best thing for me – she was totally in awe of what she was seeing. Isla even tolerated the first few fireworks but once they started getting noisier she got upset and Tony took her back to the lodge. As Lilly and I walked home afterwards in the dark she was talking ten to the dozen about what she’d seen and what a “fantabulous” day she’d had. Such a wonderful thing.

Isla is chuffed after doing a slide all by herself for the very first time!

During the week we did plenty of walking and took in all the soft play areas Whinfell has to offer. Isla climbed up and slid down a slide all by herself for the very first time – and was pleased as punch with herself as a result! It then meant that she got a little bit overconfident and wanted to follow Lilly into the ‘big girls” area of the soft play – which meant that I once again found myself six months preggers and flying down numerous ‘tunnel slides’ and crawling through too-tight spaces to rescue a child who was stuck!

We also took part in the Santa and Snowman hunt which involved following a trail to find a series of Christmas related questions which we had to answer (some of them quite hard: name all of Santa’s reindeers being one of them… we *may* have had to google this…) At the end an elf gave Lilly a little prize for taking part and all the entries were entered into a draw… which we only won! We had a phonecall later on to tell us that Lilly had won a teddy making session and we took her up to the Time Out Clubhouse where she chose a tiger toy, was helped to stuff it and then picked an outfit to dress it in. Being totally mad on soft toys this couldn’t have been better for Lilly!

Lilly cuddles up with 'Amelia', the tiger she stuffed herself after winning the Santa and Snowman Hunt

There were, of course, some stressful moments – Isla is at that stage where she only wants to walk and refuses to go in her pushchair. The only problem being, she doesn’t neccessarily want to walk in the same direction as everyone else and is rather prone to falling! Lilly moaned a lot because we didn’t get her a bike, and is possibly the world’s slowest dawdler at the best of times. And Isla was a little bit scared of the jet planes and Chinook which were practicing their flying overhead… although I loved them, I must say. Hubby wasn’t very happy because the nearest place to park the car while unloading was a fair trek from our lodge. But all in all I would say this trip has to go down in my memory as our best trip to Center Parcs yet – and we’ve now been seven times (Elveden twice, Sherwood once, Whinfell four times)!

But of course the main event of the whole week was saved for the afternoon of our last full day – a trip to see Father Christmas. Wewere all really impressed with it… Father Christmas was very authentic and really lovely – it melted our hearts to see Lilly so happily chatting away to him while so obviously in awe! She asked him for a surprise – and he promised her he had “just the thing in mind” for her, before asking her what Isla would like – “erm, I think a baby toy” Lilly suggested. She was also very eager to tell Father Christmas that she had made a snowglobe with his picture in it at the art workshop. And Father Christmas asked the girls to leave out a carrot for Rudolph on Christmas Eve. Then he gave the girls a gift each – a cuddly horse for Isla and a cuddly cow for Lilly. This AMAZED Lilly as she had been asking for a cuddly cow a few weeks ago – and Isla goes crazy for horses. So it just goes to show: He knows, you know.

Meeting Santa's reindeers

Our other holiday highlights included:

  • Isla saying “wack wacks” to all the ducks – first time she’s done this
  • Isla’s giggling when she, Lilly and I all went down a ‘tunnel slide’ together
  • Isla giggling as we went round the rapids and Lilly’s hysterics at being splashed by “mrs sprayer” as we went
  • Lilly’s insistence that she kept seeing a badger “I saw a badger! He was climbing a tree!!” and later, “I saw another badger, on the roof of that house!”
  • Discovering a ‘secret’ play area that we never knew was there before – it’s above Cafe Rouge, for anyone who wonders…

So yes, we’re still big Center Parcs fans. And no, this isn’t a sponsored post! And it is so strange to think the next time we visit, there will be three children… yikes! And that this could potentially be the last time we’ll be visiting in term time… ouch!!

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I don’t really know what I think about Halloween.

We never celebrated it as children, and the only time I ever went trick or treating I was about five and somebody poured a bag of flour of my head – traumatised me for life!

Nowadays we get a few trick or treaters to our house each year – usually all pretty young children supervised by mums and dads, and never really past about 9pm at night. We always have plenty of Haribo ready to give out – and usually a few left over for us, yum!

It’s funny though how Halloween has taken off so much in the last few years. In the run up to this year we have noticed that almost everywhere we might normally take the girls has some kind of Halloween spin off – whether it be a soft play place, garden centre, aquarium, zoo or local stately home and gardens.

With a three year old who is very easily scared of things this isn’t too great. It doesn’t take much to give her bad dreams, which obviously mean a bad nights sleep for everyone… as any parent would agree, not funny!

Even in nursery this year, now Lilly is in pre-school, they have been Halloween mad the last few weeks. They have a spooky play house, complete with scary sound effects of people screaming… this has not gone down well with Lilly, who still hasn’t really recovered from watching Scooby Doo in nursery a few weeks ago. All the colouring they have been doing has been Halloween themed too and despite the fact that Lilly is so easily scared, and doesn’t really understand what Halloween is, all the build up meant last week she kept telling us: “I’m so excited about Halloween!!”

So, in the spirit of “If we can’t beat em, join em” we decided to have a mini (non-scary) Halloween party in the house, just us four!

I traipsed round all the cheapo shops near work on Friday lunchtime, got costumes for us all, some decorations and some Halloween chocolates and yesterday we had our party.

Not bad for our first attempt!

Lilly woke up saying “I’m excited for our party!!” In the morning, Lilly helped me carve a pumpkin… she hated the smell and kept running away until it got to the exciting part, when I let her draw on a face for me to carve out! And we had pumpkin soup for lunch (well, Tony and I did, Lilly wouldn’t entertain that idea after smelling the pumpkin earlier). After Isla had had her nap we got into costumes (Lilly wanted to be a ballerina originally… luckily after re-branding her witches outfit as a Princess costume we got away with it), Isla was in an orange pumpkin / witch dress, I was a witch, complete with green hair, and Daddy had a vampire cape (but no scary teeth or other accessories – actually he just looked quite smart!) Just like her big sister the first time we tried to put her in fancy dress (a red riding hood outfit for a nursery party), Isla wasn’t very happy aboout her costume at first and there were lots of tears… she got over her strop eventually, and with the aid of some bat biscuits!

We had balloons and our pumpkin lantern (“woo, woo, woo!” said Isla when she saw it”) and some Halloween tinsel in orange and black, which Lilly proceeded to shred all over the floor…

We played musical statues and musical bumps and then had an easter egg style hunt for chocolate eyeballs. Lilly was very good and happily shared some of the bounty with Isla… who loved it and kept opening her mouth like a little baby bird for more.

Our party food was followed with some funny coloured Halloween cupcakes (shop bought as everything was decided a bit last minute) and we wrapped up the day’s events by snuggling up on the sofa to watch The Snowman and Father Christmas.

All in all we had a great afternoon, lots of laughs and most importantly, a non-scary Halloween party guaranteed to tire out the girls and give us all a good nights sleep.

Fast forward to 2am.

Pitter patter of feet towards our bedroom.

“Muuuuuummmmmmyyyy, I’m having a bad dream. About nasty witches…”


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We have just enjoyed a lovely long weekend with glorious weather and some really lovely days out.

Good Friday was such a sunny day we decided on a trip to a local beer garden, which includes a nice big playground, with Lilly and Isla’s Nanna and Grandad and Aunty Laura. We all sat and enjoyed the sunshine while Lilly played on the slide and swings, while bossing the much bigger children who tried to play on the one slide that was “out of order”!  The highlight had to be the huge trampoline at the bottom on the field where Lilly surprised me by wanting to get on without hesitation after seeing another little boy bouncing away. (Previously at the soft play, she’s had two tentative bounces before wanting to get off – and she wouldn’t even entertain bouncy castles, except to sit on the outside and bounce on her bottom a bit!) Soon when Grandad and Laura saw how much fun she was having they wanted to join in too – in the end we were all bent over double laughing as they bounced away together!

After that it was back to their house for a bbq – we had some delicious meat but tried to keep the amount consumed down a little bit with Weight Watchers in mind. Lilly’s wendy house was brought out of the shed and she also enjoyed cycling around the garden and playing football with daddy and grandad (“It’s MY turn to score a goal now!!!”)

Isla wouldn’t sleep in her pushchair after lunch, and after less than five minutes shut-eye in the car, wouldn’t sleep at Nanna’s house either, so she was a little grouchy towards the end of the day. But she still enjoyed sitting on her picnic blanket in the garden and picking daisies, and even had a little sit in the wendy house which she seemed to enjoy.

On Saturday we decided to go on a (slightly ambitious) day trip to York. We absolutely love it there, and actually went last Easter for a long weekend before Isla was born. We left the house at 8.30 and got there for just after 10am, so it wasn’t bad going at all. A tip for other daytrippers is the station car park, just by the railway museum – £2.50 all day on Saturdays, and you can reserve your place ahead.

 We started at the Railway Museum, where we enjoyed cappucinos (no cakes) for us and a muffin for Lilly before looking at the Royal trains, Japanese bullet train (once again Lilly loved sitting on this and didn’t want to get off “until the train goes”), and of course enjoying the coin operated Thomas ride and shop of the same theme – where a Thomas Flag was purchased with much excitement – exactly the same as this time last year when we last stayed.

After the railway museum we went for a picnic by the river – it was such a glorious day, really warm and sunny and combined with it being Easter weekend York was absolutely packed. However where we spread out our blanket, in a very lovely park with the war memorial in it, wasn’t too busy and we all enjoyed our sandwiches and salad. Mind you, Lilly managed to get a whole sandwich stuck to her dress and was walking around oblivious… Luckily, (and unusually), I had packed another sun dress for her…

We went for a lovely stroll along the River Ouse, and tried to find a pub where we could have a little sit down – not easy due to the hoardes! Then it was back home and a slightly less peaceful journey as Lilly managed to wee in her seat after not very much advance notice of needing the loo. So there went the last change of clothes – she had to travel home in nothing but a cardy! Isla was grizzling because she was hungry. But hey, no matter, a lovely day!

Easter Sunday started a little early – not sure which of the girls woke first but by 4.50am they were both awake (usual wakeup time at the moment being about 5.50am) We had left a pair of bunny ears and a couple of tiny chocolate eggs for Lilly outside her bedroom, which she was very excited to discover. “Do you think the Easter bunny left you those, Lilly?” I asked her. “No, he didn’t”. she said. “Because Sasha at nursery has got those ears too…”

Anyway the chocolate was eaten aproximately 10 seconds later and she was happy with that!

After lunch I set up an Easter egg hunt for her, complete with ‘cryptic’ clues, and she enjoyed hunting all over the house collecting little chocolate eggs, chicks and bunnies. At the end of the hunt was a present each for the girls and a bigger Peppa Pig egg for Lilly with a rocket shaped cup.

Monday was a slightly cooler day, although still sunny and we went to see my mum where Lilly enjoyed yet another Easter Egg hunt as ‘uncle’ Jack (my sister’s boyfriend) had hidden 70 small eggs in the garden for her to find. Isla meanwhile enjoyed putting the chocolate eggs in her mouth and tearing off the foil wrapping with her teeth- oops!

Then we went to a country fair in Southport, where I may or may not have exposed my knickers to the crowd while trying to rescue Lilly from impending doom trying to climb up a ridiculously difficult ladder thing on an inflatable slide, and I also may or may not have nearly wiped out about five children in failing to rescue Lilly and instead sliding rather un-ladylike back down said difficult ladder thing. I, er, can’t quite remember now… Anyway the upshot was that Lilly plumped for the bouncy castle instead, and, after at least five minutes sitting in the corner of the castle observing… she got up and bounced!!!! Quite a breakthrough after being too frightened to do it before. And, guess what? She absolutely loved it!

If only we had more four day weekends… oh, wait – there’s another one next week (thank you, Royal Wedding)

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Last week we enjoyed another lovely week at Center Parcs – I think this is the fifth time we’ve been in the last three years.

For the second time we went to Whinfell Forest, in the Lake District, and were lucky to reap the benefits of the unseasonably sunny and warm first week of spring, in fact the best weather we have ever experienced at Center Parcs I think.

Make A Memory

For the first time we tried out quite a few activities – Lilly did Make A Memory (making a handprint in clay and decorating the box to keep it in), Little Kickers football, Active Tots (which, at three years old was probably a bit too babyish for her, but she still enjoyed it) and Party Hour in the Time Out Club (they play party games while the parents get an hour to themselves – in theory. That was, of course, the one hour of the holiday when Isla decided to throw a bit of an “I-don’t-want-to-sleep-in-my-pushchair wobbler). We also did the usual swimming and had a game of bowling, which Lilly loved.

Little Kickers

Other highlights included spotting frogs by the edge of the stream and Lilly helping me with the shopping by pushing one of the little trolleys (she was a little bit better at steering it this time!), and the animals we spotted from our window – all kinds of birds, red squirrels, rabbits and even a deer.

Visitor to our garden


Looking at frogs on the boardwalk

Sleeping wise we had much more success than last time. We learnt the lessons from staying in a two-storey house where Lilly wouldn’t sleep because it was a strange environment and because mummy and daddy were too far away (i.e. downstairs). We went for a single storey villa this visit and Lilly went off to sleep great every night and (except the first night) slept right through. (In fact, both girls even slept through my unfortunate setting off of the smoke alarm incident – a tip for other visitors: use the extractor fan while cooking…) It took Isla a little while to get used to the new place – the first night she went to sleep fine but then started waking up crying every hour. For a few days she protested loudly about napping in the cot. But it wasn’t a major issue and after a few days she was fine. As for Tony and I, we were so exhausted after all the walking and activity with the girls during the days we were asleep by 10pm most nights!

We decided not to hire bikes for ourselves this time, because it is a bit expensive and Isla is a little bit too small to go in the back of one of the carriages. But we hired one for Lilly and we were both impressed how good she was at riding it. Our main error was not hiring a helmet – our theory being that she wasn’t going to go very fast – but obviously we hadn’t accounted for the park being quite hilly in places and Lilly having not yet mastered the art of braking. Thankfully there were no accidents but in order to prevent them we had to stick close by her and hold onto the bike whenever we were going downhill – but to be fair we would’ve been doing that whether or not she’d had a helmet! But all in all the bike was a real success, she loved riding it and never complained about being too tired (which she always moans about when walking, even a short distance). In fact it even became a useful ‘exit strategy’ when trying to get Lilly to leave playgrounds etc without tears – “do you want to ride your bike now, Lilly?”

This time I really expected Isla to LOVE the swimming, because she really enjoys bathtime and splashing with her sister. But, just like last time, she remained very serious faced throughout the experience with an expression that seemed to say “Er, mum, you sure this is safe?!” I think it is the noisy atmosphere that she’s unsure of, rather than the actual pool. But there was less crying and screaming when it came to getting dressed again at the end, which made the experience less stressful than when we went in September! Mind you, they have the changing rooms so hot that by the time we were all dry and dressed Isla had gone redder faced than I have ever seen her before and we were actually a bit worried about her so dashed outside to cool her down.

Watching Lilly playing was a joy – she is such a sociable little thing and just loves other children. Whenever we went to one of the softplay areas or playgrounds she was making friends – all I could hear was her chatting away to other children and introducing herself saying: “I’m Lilly! I’m three!” She still doesn’t entertain the idea of sliding down any “tunnel slides” which she is scared of, even if one of her new found friends tried to persuade her to try it. She is brilliant at taking turns, to the point where she will happily let several children overtake her! There was one incident where a little boy was nasty to her (we didn’t see what happened) and she said she was going to “run away very fast” but apart from that it was all good. Isla had a little sit in the soft play areas too – there’s only so much she can do as she still can’t quite crawl yet, but she seemed to enjoy watching what everyone was up to.

And Tony and I remained steadfastly on the Weight Watchers – we expected we would fall right off the wagon and although we did drink wine every night we managed to resist the numerous chocolate, doughnut, cake, pizza and bread shaped temptations that were winking at us in the supermarket. We packed salads for our picnics everyday and because we were so active and too busy to sit and snack we actually both managed to lose a few pounds – result!

All in all we had a really great time with only a few tantrums from Lilly (including two in the car on the way back – making us worry a bit about our road trip to France in a few months time, but hey, that’s another story!) and we wished that we were staying a full week (although it is so blinking expensive to do that!)

With a three year old my recommendation would be to book plenty of activities for every day – one for the morning, one for the afternoon (allowing time for swimming of course) because plenty of activity and stimulation tired our little one out nicely. Take or hire a bike but beware of the hills! If you’re worried about them sleeping, go single storey. Don’t pay to reserve a villa in the central area only to realise that if you have bikes you have to go the long way round anyway to get to the village centre because the direct footpaths don’t allow bikes. Take some chalks for the blackboard in the villa if you are staying in a “new style” as it will keep the kids entertained for quite a while (and they never supply adequate chalks themselves)

But yes, we remain big fans of Center Parcs and I am already persuading Tony that we need to book another break for later in the year, when Isla will be a little older and able to join in the fun even more.

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Driving home from nursery we were waiting in a queue. Lilly said: “Are we stuck in a traffic ham?”

When Isla wasn’t too well recently, I said: “I think Isla’s done another poo”, to which Lilly replied: “Has she? That’s a little bit of a problem, isn’t it mummy?”

We were talking about her friend from nursery:

L: Evie went to MacDonalds!

Me: Did she? When was that?

L: Erm, I don’t know.

Me: What is MacDonalds, Lilly?

L: Erm, I don’t know.

Me: Where is it?

L: I think it might be very far away

Me: What did Evie do at MacDonalds?

L: I think she looked at all the animals

She told me very excitedly that, at pre-school, they eat their dinner in the “school hole” (hall)

Cleaning our teeth one night, she said:

“I’m a girl, and you’re a girl”

Me – “That’s right”

L: “But Daniel (her friend at nursery) isn’t a girl. He’s a boy.”

Me – “Yes”

L: “Because, he’s not got much hair. But I still like him though.”

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