My little water baby

IMG_0075Last friday I took my daughter to her last water babies swimming lesson. As we climbed out of the pool for the last time, I was a little bit sad. Not only did this class mark the end of our water babies journey but also the end of my maternity leave (I started back at work on Monday). I’ve taken my baby to a number of different mum and baby classes over the past year and water babies is the one I have enjoyed most (and the only one I have done more than one term of which says a lot). Apart from all the numerous benefits of swimming (which are well written about on the internet so I won’t repeat them), I’ve found swimming to be the class where we have both truly enjoyed every class and where I have noticed the most development in Poppet.

We’ve done 3 terms with them (10 weeks each) and loved every lesson. I started taking Poppet last September when she was just 4 months old (you can start classes sooner but they do not run over the school holidays). Our local class is in a school pool and it is a hydrotherapy pool so it’s lovely and warm. So warm in fact that babies only need to wear happy nappies. Poppet seems to really enjoy the classes too. As soon as she is dressed and we are sat on the steps of the pool waiting for the last class to finish she is trying to get in to the water. Once we are, she has a great big grin on her face for most of the lesson. She loves to splash the water in excitement too.

I’m not particularly a strong or even confident swimmer myself which did put me off taking her at first. My husband was more keen than I was that I took her, as he felt it is such an important safety skill to be able to swim that introducing her to water at a young age would be beneficial. I hated swimming lessons when I was a child and I want my daughter to be more confident around water than I am. I also feel that these classes have improved my confidence in the water a little bit too. If you’d told me back in September that the classes involved me having to go under water too, I think it may have put me off. Now I love going under water, to see my little ones smiling face, as she swims through the water towards me.

I still remember how worried I was about submerging Poppet on her first lesson and being totally honest it took me some time to feel confident letting go of her under water. Poppet however has never been bothered at all. She has never once cried in the pool. The instructors are lovely and reassuring and always happy to give you extra guidance if needed. The lessons are well structured and progressive so that you & your baby learn new skills gradually. There is lots of singing and various water toys are used to aid teaching skills such as bubble blowing, reaching out in front of them etc. I’ve looked forward to our weekly lesson too. As well as seeing how much Poppet enjoys her lessons, I have enjoyed the opportunity to spend 30 minutes in a lovely warm pool with Poppet and a number of other mums and babies who I have come to know well.

unnamedThree terms in and Poppet regularly swims short distances under water, is not bothered at all when the instructor drops her in to the water (and she goes under the surface), kicks her legs when in the swim position, holds on to the rail at the side of the pool (& has started reaching out for it as we get close to it) & is strong enough to push herself up on the bar.

We’ve stopped now as I am back at work and although I do not work on the day of these classes we would have had to miss a fair few of the classes next term for various reasons. Plus I’m assuming that starting nursery might mean Poppet will get more bugs, meaning more missed lessons. You have to pay for the full term and lessons are not the cheapest (but you can understand why the classes are expensive). Water babies are only able to offer classes for the first 4 terms of their course here, so we could have only done 1 more term anyway (without having to travel to a different town).

I’m going to miss our regular swimming class and hope that I find the time and motivation to take Poppet to our local leisure center regularly. After seeing how much she loves swimming and the skills she has developed I know I have to keep taking her. I’m going to see how I get on over the next few months taking her myself but already I’m thinking about the possibility of taking her to swimming lessons with a different swim school in my town from September.

Disclosure – I have not been paid to write about water babies. We have paid for all our classes and loved them so much I wanted to write about them.

Bank holiday fun in the park

IMG_9955Don’t you just love a three day weekend? After a busy Saturday and Sunday we decided a quieter bank holiday Monday was in order. We decided to leave the car at home and have a simple day close to home. Poppet tends to have a big nap after lunch so we decided to make the most of this and take her to the park in the morning and spend the afternoon at home.IMG_9966The weather was cool, breezy but dry so we decided to treat Poppet to her first proper outing in her new smartrike which she got last week for her first birthday. We are very lucky to live walking distance from 2 parks. The closest park has a bigger play area but is smaller and has no duck pond. The park furthest away I think is that bit nicer, it’s bigger overall and although smaller, the play park is better maintained and for Poppet’s age there is about the same amount of suitable equipment anyway. Plus Poppet loves the ducks so it was an easy decision.IMG_9958

The park is about 20 minutes walk away but the bonus of her new ride is that the fun starts as soon as you leave the house. She was making happy noises and smiling a lot more than she does when she is in her pram all the way there and back. We had to cross a couple of cobbled roads and we were just saying that they weren’t the best roads for the trike when Poppet start giggling. Clearly she thought they were the best roads for the trike! IMG_9954

IMG_9970Once there we showed my husband round the park (turns out this was the first time he had been to this park), watched the ducks, Poppet had a snack and we let her have a turn on the swings. I hadn’t been to the park in a couple of weeks and I was pleased to see all the blossom out on the trees, I love blossom. Poppet really seemed to enjoy everything in fact she had a smile on her face the entire time she was on the swings for the first time ever! I think my husband may have been pushing her faster and higher than I do!IMG_0002It was a lovely family morning in the park. I love bigger trips out but sometimes smaller adventures are just as fun and you don’t get stuck in bank holiday traffic!
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

 

300 picture book update

Untitled-1 It’s been 3 weeks since I shared a children’s book post with you all and this means that it is also 3 weeks since I update you on our progress in the 300 picture book challenge. I can assure you that this is not because we are not reading new picture books but because I have been too busy to photograph and blog a book review. I plan to get back to sharing book reviews and joining in with ‘what we’re reading’ but this week this is just going to be an update on the challenge to get me back on track.

Over the last three weeks we have read 13 new books. This has included a few new books that Poppet was given for her birthday and a few trips to our local library. My favorites in this update are Hooray for bread, stuck and peekaboo bunny. Hopefully I’ll be back soon with a book review or two (maybe it will be one of these books).Untitled-2Number of new books since last update – 13
Total number of books read this year – 125/300

As always you can find the full list of what we have read so far (and a brief review of each) on my pinterest board.

Linking up with 300 picture book challenge over on Child-led chaos.

 

Living arrows 18/52

 

IMG_9804This weeks photo is another photo taken in the soft play area on our day out for Poppet’s first birthday last Monday (You can read all about it here). I love soft play areas for taking photos because of all the colours. I have a beautiful one of her in the ball pool, looking right at the camera smiling. In this one it looks like she has fallen asleep but she didn’t fall asleep until she was safely in the car but she was so active in soft play it wouldn’t have surprised me if she had fallen asleep in there. I can’t believe a week has passed already. This time next week I will be in the middle of my first day back at work after over 12 months maternity leave!

living arrows

Cheshire farm, The ice cream farm

IMG_9878Monday was Poppet’s first birthday. We knew the days before would be busy with her party being on Sunday so we planned to have a quieter day (just the 3 of us) on her birthday. My husband booked the day off work and we decided to head to the Cheshire farm, the ice cream, if the weather was OK. We had a back up plan for if rained but thankfully when the day arrived we couldn’t have asked for better weather.

PicMonkey Collage3Since having Poppet I often think about all the fantastic places we visited when I was growing up and I want Poppet to experience them but I grew up in Yorkshire and we now live in Cheshire (about 90 minutes away). Obviously the places I have fond memories of  aren’t the most convenient for us now. So I’m always on the look out for recommendations of places to take Poppet. I found the Cheshire farm online & it sounded like a nice place to visit. Even though it is an hours drive from us we chose it, because there are farm animals and soft play, 2 of poppet’s favorite things at present. Admission is free but there are a few activities that you have to pay for, however they all seemed reasonably priced. These include crazy golf (£1 per person) and quads (£1 for 2 laps). I can honestly say we weren’t disappointed with our choice and I would recommend it as a great family day out here in Cheshire.

IMG_9939 There are lots of outdoor and indoor activities for children of all ages. We loved the adventure playgrounds. There are two for older children (1 is more of an agility trail with zip wires and climbing frames and the other is almost like a fort with a great spiral slide) and a lovely little one for under 3s. Poppet loved this little playground especially the slide. The circular climbing frame is also a round about which she quiet enjoyed. There is also a sand pit under the fence (not shown) which has buckets and spades left in it. We gave the sand pit a miss this time but I thought it was a lovely idea for toddlers.

IMG_9941PicMonkey CollageAs we expected Poppet was fascinated by the animals in the fields. There were a couple of miniature ponies, donkeys, pigs, goats, alpacas and peacocks. There were also a few hutches with rabbits and guinea pigs in them. You can also watch the cows being milk if you happen to be there at the right time in their viewing gallery.

PicMonkey Collage2IMG_9859IMG_9726IMG_9734IMG_9730IMG_9711There is also a fantastic soft play barn, ice cream themed of course. The toddler area is for those up to 90cm and is free. The main area for older children is charged at £3 week days and £3.50 weekends and bank holidays (you get a wrist band so you can go in and out through out the day). The toddler area was fantastic and better than some toddler areas that I have been to that charge. This was by far Poppet’s favorite part and I think we must have spent over 90 minutes in there (split over two visits). She is very active and never still so it is her idea of heaven to be able to crawl round, at speed, without us constantly pulling her away from areas that are not suitable for her. There is slide in there which came up to my waist. She loves to climb stairs so she quickly climbed to the top and before we got chance to stop her, she rolled down the slide head first! absolutely no fear or sence of danger, I need eye’s in the back of my head! Thankfully she loved it but we made sure to stay extra close any time she went near the slide.

IMG_9774 IMG_9794 IMG_9827 Of course we couldn’t visit an ice cream farm without sampling the ice creams. At Cheshire farm they make award winning ice cream in over 40 flavours. I tried their butterscotch and also the white chocolate, raspberry and oreos. Both were delicious. Poppet tried a bit of our ice creams too and seemed to like them. She seems to have more self control than either of her parents though and quickly decided to seal her lips and refuse anymore!

IMG_9756We all had a fantastic day and I have no doubt we will be back many times over the coming years. I’d love to hear any suggestions you might have of great places to take children (particularly toddlers) in Cheshire, the Peak district or the Manchester area (both indoor and outdoors). I’m sure I’ll get to take Poppet to some of the museums, parks and farms I remember from my childhood when we visit her grandparents but we will have to start finding new places to create family memories a bit closer to home too.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

 

In my kitchen – Birthday cakes

IMG_9555I love to bake so I always knew I would bake Poppet’s first birthday cake. I’m not so good at decorating though, so I figured I’d keep it simple before she is old enough to request complicated designs (then I may have to buy them). I may have mentioned before that I’m not a massive pink fan but buying balloons and party decorations for a first birthday that aren’t pink or blue turned out to be impossible in our town so I went with it and decorated the cakes pink too.

IMG_9459The birthday cake is a chocolate cake, covered in buttercream and decorated with marshmallows around the edge and a one made up of pink sprinkles on the top. The cake is this recipe from Lorraine Pascal (because I’ve made it before and knew it would still be moist a couple of days after baking). I decided to ice it differently from the original recipe so I made a vanilla buttercream which I then used to decorate both the cake and a batch of cupcakes. I printed a large one out on to A4 paper and cut out the middle to form a template. I placed the template on the cake, put sprinkles in the corners, removed the stencil and checked I was happy with the positioning and then put the stencil back and filled in the rest of the one.

IMG_9646As we were having quiet a few guests I also baked a lemon drizzle cake and some vanilla cupcakes. The lemon drizzle cake is this one which I love and bake a lot (simple but delicious) and I used this cupcake recipe. The buttercream was a very simple recipe I was given on a course (70g butter, 140g icing sugar, teaspoon of vanilla extract and add a tablespoon of boiling water halfway through the beating) which I doubled.

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All three cakes were made on Friday (whilst my mum entertained Poppet) and were still moist for the party on Sunday (and in fact they still tasted ok yesterday when the last one was consumed).