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Sunday, 17 September 2017

Living Arrows

Welcome back to Living Arrows, a post which celebrates childhood. I intend on creating as many of these weekly photos as possible because they are great to reflect on all together.

The project originally took its name from a poem by Kahlil Gibran ~
"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth"

We are nearing the end of the PYO season; just pumpkins to go I think. The last time we went we spent a whopping £17 on blackberries! The kids really enjoyed picking them and foraging for the biggest, juiciest berries, and so did I! We got carried away though, and ended up with three full punnets. The freezer is stocked with berries ready for breakfast smoothies or a quick dessert and we had a huge blackberry crumble. Perhaps Lily would like to make jam with me soon.

Zeeberry pumpkins Marwell
Marwell Zoo's Zany Zebra, Zeeberry lives at our local PYO farm

PYO farm produce

picking blackberries

Lily is desperate to go again to pick some sweetcorn but it has been so wet lately. Hopefully we'll get some good photos of all three children with a pumpkin each very soon.

Thanks for reading, enjoy your week.

Living Arrows

The Siblings Project | September

September is well under way and has been full of changes to our family life. Lily started year 1 at infant school and Alexander started preschool for three mornings a week. So far, so good! Although I always thought that I'd have more time to get things done, whether it be housework, actual work, perhaps even some filming. Turns out that is rather wishful thinking. I feel like I have less time. Three school runs a day for three days a week is a bit exhausting but Freyja gets some quality time with me at least. She definitely misses her brother during the daytime, they have been such a team. Freyja loves having both her siblings back when they finish school and preschool. Back to the normal hustle and bustle I love.

Here are a selection of photos from one of the first days back, two in yellow, one in red!
Lily, Alex, Freyja

my children

my three

sibling love

Thanks for stopping by :)

The Siblings Project - Dear Beautiful

Thursday, 14 September 2017

International Literacy Day 2017 with Viking Direct

title page Viking Direct
As part of International Literacy Day, Viking Direct sent a selection of bloggers a stationery hamper with the aim to get as creative as possible and share a favourite quote or piece of literature.
The hamper was amazing; inside I discovered some metallic sharpies, a selection of paper, a poster hook, fabric pens and a little tote bag to decorate using some letter stencils. I was surprised to find some tea. Literacy inspired, no less.

stationery from Viking Direct

What instantly grabbed my attention was the beautifully presented calligraphy set, complete with an assortment of silver nibs and a little ink pot. The calligraphy has a feather quill too, which I stroked under my chin whilst I thought about how to get started. Blank pages can be a bit overwhelming, particularly if you have to up your handwriting game with actual pen nib and ink. I felt a little bit Shakespearean!

calligraphy set Viking Direct

If you haven't heard of International Literacy Day, I will let you know a little more about it. Firstly, it is celebrated each September. This year it was on the 8th September. I personally believe that it is relatively understated. It certainly doesn't receive as much recognition as World Book Day, for example, despite it being declared by UNESCO over five decades ago. But nevertheless, it is an opportunity to celebrate literature of all kinds whilst bringing avid readers, communities, schools and more together.

info from UNESCO
It is also estimated that 94-115 million children worldwide do not have access to an education. So UNESCO is a valuable organisation to try to address these issues whilst also uniting people with a love of literacy.
Back to my little project. Seeing as the calligraphy set had me hooked, I set about practising different styles of handwriting. I've always been quite fluid with my style of handwriting and I am capable of changing it and adapting it to suit my needs, or my creative mood. Exam papers, for example, would have upright handwriting at the beginning and get gradually more slanted as I raced to finish my answer. Sometimes there were more flourishes than usual; I even recall adding three little dots à la Tolkien above my letter a's. As a mother of three children between the ages of 8 months and 5 years who works from home writing and blogging, I rarely have the opportunity to actively write much. I type everything. I long for notebooks but as soon as I begin to use one, the children descend with their colouring and once I have started tearing out sheets of paper I may as well hand it over. So, to transition from the biro (which I often have to find in the kitchen, despite owning so many pens) to a delicate silver nib which requires ink application, was an interesting change.

styles of handwriting with pen and ink

One of my favourite books is 'Cider with Rosie', by Laurie Lee. I even had a reading penned by Laurie Lee at my wedding which was apt as we got married in the Cotswold's in Gloucestershire which is where Lee was born and made it even more fitting.
The first chapter, 'First Light' is so descriptive and thought-provoking, detailing Lee's reaction as a young three-year old to arriving in his new village. In addition to trying to concentrate on my pen skills (or lack of), I also did some fairly simple botanical illustrations which kept in keeping with the extract I copied.

calligraphy drawing grass

at work using calligraphy pen

 Laurie Lee extract

There are obviously so many fantastic and classic quotes to use, but I absolutely adore 'Cider with Rosie', so it was my first choice to copy an extract from.

displayed poster

I forgot how messy calligraphy can be, judging from the state of my fingers after I had finished! I would like to experiment with different nibs when I have quiet evening to myself; I love to listen to the scratching of the nib against the card. The flow of the ink doesn't look too dissimilar to a ball-point pen, so perhaps a square edge nib would provide a different look.

If you could choose one favourite book and one favourite quote or extract, what would they be?


Monday, 11 September 2017

Living Arrows | First Day of Preschool

Welcome back to Living Arrows, a post which celebrates childhood. I intend on creating as many of these weekly photos as possible because they are great to reflect on all together.

The project originally took its name from a poem by Kahlil Gibran ~
"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth"

Today I am sharing one of the photos I took from Alexander's first session at preschool. As you can see, he wasn't best pleased with having to look at a camera lens for the gazillionth time that morning.
He absolutely loved it and he didn't want to leave. In fact, he unpacked all of this spare clothes from his bag, ready to move in!
He chatted non-stop about all the things he got up to and ate three sandwiches for lunch! He'll be a foot taller by October half-term!

Thanks for reading. I hope everyone has a great week.

Living Arrows

Friday, 8 September 2017

What My Kid Wore | #ALivelyStyle

Welcome to my kid's fashion post for #ALivelyStyle. I'm linking up with Hannah from Make Do and Push. Go check out the rest of the link ups for lots of fashion inspiration for your own kids. I certainly love seeing different outfits, the brighter the better!

We've been at the PYO farm again, we will continue visiting until we have pumpkins ready for October.
Alexander's outfit consists of a hat with a cactus print and a doughnut and fast food print short-sleeved shirt, both from Tu at Sainsbury's. Blue shorts are from Matalan and his black and white trainers are from Mothercare.

alex's outfit

alex's outfit

alex's outfit
What a surly look!

Have a great weekend! I wish we had the weather from those photos today, it is absolutely tipping it down!


Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Screen time Management for Kids & TimeTokens

How often does your child use a screen for fun? The screen could be the TV, a games console, tablet device or a phone for example. 

 Thankfully, Lily doesn't use screens very much and I've never really had to manage it apart from our usual house rules. Currently the TV is only allowed to be turned on once everyone has got dressed ready for school and preschool, and that includes the baby. I actually find the programmes good for time management. During the last academic year I knew that after "Digby Dragon" finished it was time to round up the troops to get going. As for iPads, we own two, but the mini has a delicate screen after it was thrown over the kitchen stairgate by baby Alex so it has pretty much retired and I am terrible at remembering to charge the main iPad. So far, Lily and Alex don't own their own tablet devices.

When TimeTokens contacted us to review their simple screen management pack we agreed to put it to the test.

TimeTokens contents
The complete pack is available online for £14.95

How do TimeTokens work?
A TimeTokens pack is delivered to your child, in which they will find:
  • a stopwatch
  • welcome note
  • TimeToken cards: a total of 7 hours of screen time
  • Golden Ticket
  • Promise Contract
You and your child decide the total amount of screen time per week and sign the Promise Contract. Your child holds onto the wallet and when they would like some screen time they have to hand over TimeTokens, e.g, 30 mins TimeToken in exchange for 30 mins of screen time. Don't forget to use the timer! When all of the TimeTokens have been used up, they are returned at the start of a new week or a day of your choice, such as a Friday. Friday is TimeToken Day! It is the start of the weekend so we generally have more time for devices.

TimeTokens pack
The TimeTokens come in a bright wallet complete with the aforementioned contents plus an introduction to five characters called The Frazzles. The Frazzles encourage children to participate in something other than screen time, such as fun 'INGS' (verbs or do-ING words)

Now, so far we have been using it in a fairly different way for Lily which seems to work for us. Rather than handing over the wallet for Lily, she requests screen time and I let her choose a TimeToken which she likes to have on her during her screen time, along with the timer. Then she hands it back. Lily is 5 and currently this system works for her attention span and dedication. I anticipate that we will try it according to the official instructions one day, but it is useful for anyone to know that the TimeTokens can be used in another way to suit your family dynamic.

TimeToken wallet contents

Lily particularly likes the 15 minute Time Token but if she does receive a charged iPad, quite a lot of time is spent faffing about what to do or watch which takes up time. But still, she hands back the card once the timer has gone off. The LCD timer is very loud though, I'm less inclined to use it when I've just put baby Freyja down for a nap. Perhaps a series of coloured sand timers would be engaging and definitely less noisy, although you'd have to keep an eye on it!

I was interested to know if any fellow bloggers manage screen time. Here are a selection of their responses:

Earning Screen time and House Rules:

"My son has just turned six and he has to earn screen time by reading, practicing writing and doing simple chores."

"We implement a few rules - no devices at meal time, restrictions on our eldest child's computer, rules for us all (leading by example), no devices in bedrooms... It's a a real struggle with our older child but he now understands the rules and it makes him so much calmer if he has less screen time."

No restrictions:

"I don't. We've let our three (6, 4 and 2) have pretty much free reign. They've all been sensible at knowing when enough is enough. In fact, the tablets have been in the cupboard the whole summer holidays and not been asked for once!"

"I don't. I don't really understand those who do to be completely honest. I find programmes are very educational and my son has learnt an awful lot from some of them. I also like to use TV and films to help him chill out. He's a very active child and it's the only way I can get him to relax. Watching a Disney film together is quality time together and I love it. I don't think any of it is doing him any harm."


"We have an app that restricts screen time to so many minutes a day. When his time is up, he can request more time. We can then either grant permission for a set amount of minutes or suggest he can 'earn' more time with certain chores."

"My daughter has a Fire HD tablet and you can set limits on how long they can use it per day, and it also sets times that it goes off by - e.g. off at 7pm and not back on until 7am."

Now I can see from everyone's point of view. Currently we don't feel like we need to reign back the use of screen time because quite simply Lily doesn't use them to excess and we like to think we have it well managed. I love idea of gadget free Sunday mornings and I certainly agree with that devices can be used tactically, especially when children need downtime and yes, some kids aren't happy when they are told to stop something that they enjoy.

I think seeking a balance is key and it seems there is a different way for each family to achieve this. Children and potential addiction aside though, I'm sure there are more adults spending an inordinate amount of time on screens. That is for another blog post, I'm sure!


Sunday, 3 September 2017

Living Arrows | September

Welcome back to Living Arrows, a post which celebrates childhood. I intend on creating as many of these weekly photos as possible because they are great to reflect on all together.

The project originally took its name from a poem by Kahlil Gibran ~
"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth"

I can't believe it is September already! Tomorrow, Lily begins year 1 and Alexander will begin preschool on Wednesday. His speech is coming along really well; he is developing at a rate of knots and I am sure that he will have a whale of a time.
Here he is, following a recent hair cut, complete with cheesy grin.


And with his sister, concentrating on painting pebbles we intend on leaving around the local parks for people to find and then hide again.

lily and alexander

Have a great week!

Living Arrows
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