Halloween Fun and Feasting !

The kids are settling into school, the blackberries have ripened , the leaves are turning into a rainbow of autumnal colours….these are all hints that my favourite time of the year is almost here !

Halloween is my my favourite seasonal event …. all the fun but less stress and expenditure than Christmas and a period of time where I’m not weird just festive !!!!

Before the kids came along we hosted a fun fancy dress parties annually and from those great nights I have a collection of memories that I will never forget !

Let me give u an insight … picture my best friend in a Dolly Parton wig with a wet teashirt competition winner costume on giving my father in law a lapdance at 2am !

Fun times but a far cry from how we celebrate samhain these days !

As the years add up the traditions multiply so I said I’d give you a look at how we “do” Halloween these days with two smallies in tow !

Hope you enjoy or even gain an idea !

Decorate , Decorate Decorate !

“Caution, enter if you dare !”

I should have this crime scene tape up all year round !!! I’d love to say my house is tastefully decorated in an instagram type fashion but alas the fact is its cheap and cheerfull pound shop tat and we love it !!!!

All of the stuff I got this year has been from Dealz (we also got sweets and paper plates etc there too) as they have a great selection.

* Our hall / nature table decorated *

Host a party.

As our friends started to have kids we noticed our crazy parties were no more so the past four years we have hosted a family party in aid of Temple Street Children’s Hospital and it has been a huge success.

Instead of people bringing the usual goodies and wine we ask that they donate what they can and bring just themselves !

We all have a great time while helping a very worthwhile charity.

Sign up to host yours at;

https://www.templestreet.ie/event/trick-or-treat/

Decorate / Carve a pumpkin.

This year James chose to carve his pumpkin and Lucy chose to decorate hers…

James drew his face on and I cut it out almost so that he could punch out the pieces with a cake crafting tool !

Lucy attacked the craft box and stuck on her face and accessories, I let her stick them on with regular glue but secured them with super glue after !

They were both very proud of their pumpkins but when Lucy saw James lit up I had to cut a few slots in her to give the same effect.

I used battery operated tea lights that I picked up in deals to safely light up the pumpkins.

Fabulous Festive Food.

This year I vowed not to have any waste after carving the pumpkins so put together a pumpkin and potatoe curry and then Googled what to do with the seeds.

Pumpkin and Potato Curry:

Ingredients;

* 400g of pumpkin thinly sliced/chopped

* 400g of potato

* 2 onions halved and finely sliced

* 1 Green chilli deserved and chopped finely

* A piece of ginger peeled and chopped 3/4cm

* 2 tsp Garam Masala

* 1 tsp of mustard seeds

*1/2 tsp of ground tumeric

* 4/5 cardamom pods bashed !

* 1.5 tablespoons of tomato puree

*small bunch of coriander

* 250g Natural Yoghurt

* 400ml water

Method:

> Fry the onions until golden and add the ginger, garlic and chilli

> Stir in the spices for a minute or two before adding 400ml of water gradually

> Add your potatoes sliced thinly and cook until almost soft then add in the pumpkin and simmer for 5 minutes

> In a separate bowl mix the yoghurt and puree taking a little juice from the pan before stirring the paste back into the veg and spices.

> Add the corriander and simmer for ten minutes.

> As there is plenty of potato in it it can be served as is or if you fancy it add rice !

Sweet and savoury pumpkin seeds:

I did not come up with this recipe but can’t find it again to credit it !!! So just be known it’s not mine ….

Ingredients:

*1/4 cup of butter melted

*1/2 cup of honey

* 2 tablespoons of brown sugar

* pinch of salt

* 4 cups of pumpkin seeds

* 1/4 cup of white sugar

Method:

> preheat the oven to 150′ and while you are doing that boil the seeds in salted water for 15/20 mins

> mix the melted butter, brown sugar, honey and salt in a bowl.

> toss the seeds in the sweet mixture, sprinkle in white sugar and bake on a tray covered in baking paper

> bake for 20 mins , toss and turn and bake for a further 15/20.

Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

For a savoury flavour try tossing in olive oil and your favourite spice I tried cajun and as an alternative to nuts proved to be a nice nibble !

These went down a treat with himself and a healthy eating child of a friend but not so much with my two and I !

The sweet seeds reminded me a little of popcorn and Mr mmmm described them as tasting like sugarpuffs. These would be a nice addition to museli or flapjacks .

Spooky Gingerbread Monsters:

So I took the easy way out of this one as when I saw the pack of a pair of skeleton men to decorate in Dunnes for less than e3. I figured I’d save a mess in my kitchen but after helping lucy decorate hers I think I’ll bake and decorate some for my party !

These are fab but I got some extra sweeties to brighten them up a bit and fuel their imaginations.

Check out local Halloween events ….

* James getting his groove on with his buddy after last year’s fairy not scary walk !*

Each year Halloween is getting bigger and better and there are so many events to choose from but we love staying local and our favourite event last year was the “fairy not scary walk ” as part of the Crosshaven Halloween Festival which finished with a mini kiddies disco !

The primary times website is a great place to see what’s on near you …

http://www.primarytimes.ie/south_ireland/

Also see @thegetoutmommy on instagram not just Halloween events but fun events and outings all year round.

And of coarse Trick or Treating !

We are quite rural so for us and these little legs we go house to house ( all 6 of them approx !) by car !!!!

But really how u do it doesn’t matter I mean u dress up , smile and get free sweets…. ingenious !!!! Mums also have chocolate on tap in case of emotional outbursts or dramas for the nxt few weeks ( for ourselves of coarse lol )

Who doesn’t love Halloween !!!!! How do you do Halloween ?

Have a spectacular and spooky one whatever you do !

Xoxo L.

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Bubblebum Booster Seat review.

A couple of months ago I was lucky enough to be sent a Bubblebum car booster seat. I knew it was going to come in very useful during the summer with the extra bodies and bums we were inevitably going to have and I was right !

Like most instructions I glanced at them rather than reading them and opened the valve completely off and wondered how in the name off God I was going to get this Bubblebum inflated….

I reread the instructions to find you only need to open it enough to inflate and while you still have the valve in your mouth you tighten it to leave u with your inflated booster ready for road !

The Bubblebum is suitable for children age 4yrs and 15kg and over. It is crash tested and not only meets the EU and US safety standards but exceeds them.

I really loved the seat belt positioning clip to make the child more comfortable and the clips on either side of the bubblebum make sure the seat belt is positioned correctly and safely.

The first bum on our new booster was my nephew, with the age gap between my two kids being small up to now they both had car seats with three point harnesses (which in general are quite bulky) and left no room for a regular booster seat in between the two seats if we needed to facilitate an extra child.

This posed a problem for us in the past as although my nephew is a tall and strong lad at only nine years old he of coarse is still by law obligated to sit in a booster seat and I hadn’t found a booster that fitted comfortably up to now.

The bubble bum fitted in between the two seats no problem and he was quick to tell me it was really “comfy”.

Soon it was my main man’s chance to give me his opinion on the bubblebum ! I must admit up to a few weeks ago he was still in a 3 point harness and we only decided to remove the harness as it became difficult when he had a cast on his arm after an unlucky break even then I was apprehensive about doing so. Knowing that the bubblebum met and exceeded the recommended safety standards and seeing the extras for securing the seat first hand put my mind to rest when we started to use it on our travels.

James loved it and thought it was “really cool”, it was obvious to me that he was comfortable and he felt like a “big boy”, he travelled well in it and kept a good position.

The Bubble bum when deflated folds up into a neat little bag and is extremely light which means not only will it not take up massive space in your car when not in use it also is easy for children to carry and would even fit in a P.E bag or in a bag with the other contents needed for an afterschool adventure.

The bubble bum is a must to have as a spare booster as we all end up doing another mum a favour, or asking one of another family from time to time along with it being the perfect purchase for a childminder or a relatives car.

It is also a great buy for those who are not car owners but find themselves needing a booster for their little ones when hopping in a taxi or accepting lifts, you wouldn’t even know you had this in a nappy bag or in the undercarriage of a buggy! For the same reason it is ideal to take on holidays with your brood.

I can also see myself taking the Bubble bum to the cinema or theatre as my little princess has told me more than once that the booster seats they supply are cold and uncomfortable!

At just under e35 (offers on two or more on their site) the Bubblebum is very reasonably priced considering the high level of comfort, the safety tests it has easily passed and the use you will inevitably get out of it.

There are 5 different colours to choose from black (as seen), pink, union jack, Irish shamrocks and stars and stripes which can be seen on

https://www.bubblebum.co/ie/

along with lots of other usefull information and blog posts .

The Bubblebum for us definately gets a big thumbs up and when little luce hits the age and weight requirements I will certainly be purchasing one for her.

For those of you who thought you had crossed everything off your list for the new school term maybe your not quite done yet !

Be sure to check out them out on Facebook an instagram too….

https://www.facebook.com/bubblebumukltd/

https://www.instagram.com/bubblebum_uk/

Despite being gifted the bubblebum all the opinions above are genuine and my own as always.

Xoxo Laura.

7 Ways to see out the school holidays !

So I had planned on writing this post (it’s had quite a few title changes!) earlier in the summer but life got in the way but now is as good a time as any to share some activities!

It’s only about 2 weeks till school starts for most and I’d imagine you mums are worn out from entertaining and refereeing your brood so hopefully this post will help you entertain your kiddos in the last leg of the holidays !

I hope you find something useful in here ,

Xoxo L.

1- Dino Excavations.

This is a simple way to get a half an hour to have a cuppa, watch your favourite soap or just stop the bickering ! It is also cost effective if you wish to set it up for when there are a few kids around.

I bought a pack of cheap Dino figures including some trees for just e1.50 and that in total was the cost to entertain 5 children.

I used old Chinese cartons and started with a thin ice layer at the bottom as each layer froze I added another.

I tore open used tea bags to get an earthy effect and added dried seaweed, shells and stones along with the little plastic dinosaur. Just make sure the Dino is not too near the bottom or the top as it will lessen the time needed to dig him out !

When the block is frozen just run some boiling water over the end and side of the container and it will pop right out.

My impatient children spent 20 minutes at the ice blocks with a fork and a sugarcraft tool before realising that if you throw the ice block at the wall you’ll free the beast !!!! Either way they enjoyed it and more have been requested !

2- Kiddy Yoga.

* The gruesome twosome try the first part of the jack in the box pose! *

My two absolutely loved this activity !

I looked online and found this handy chart from http://www.abcyogaforkids.com.

It shows 25 fun, easy poses ( one you must create yourself !) for kids. Some may be a little harder for the younger kids but you get 15-25 min of entertainment and exercise too !

*James loving the “happy baby” pose *

I was actually surprised at how into this the guys got ! James loved it and I’m sure he’ll be superb once he is minus the restrictions of his cast.

The favourites were jack in the box ,aeroplane and the mouse.

It’s super to make them aware of their breathing and encourage exercise at a young age. This is a cost free activity that is great for the body and the mind.

3- Bubble Wrap Prints.

This is a fun alternative to normal painting ! Nothing outrageously mind blowing but the kids loved it …

I kept some bubble wrap from packaging and cut it onto shapes and let the kiddos loose with the paint !

Older kids can cut out their own shapes from the bubble wrap.

You can also use cheap dinkys or some lego bricks to paint with and let the imagination run wild !

4 – Personalised t-shirts.

For this activity I got a xl white vest top and a couple of long sleeve tees for the kids but you could always jazz up a tee you had all ready.

I bought a packet of fabric markers in the arts and hobby shop which were e8 and the Tees in dunnes which made the total cost e19 but I’d advise going to penneys to reduce this cost ( I was caught for time ).

5 – Get some online inspo!!!

We have it all at our fingertips ! Get searching online …. I found this great free website (and there is loads!) http://www.mykidstime.com with loads of fun ideas to keep the kiddies entertained like this cool lego challenge.

From printable wordsearches , card tricks for kids to even cocktail ideas for mums it has it all !

6 – Wash,wash,wash !

We all know how much kids love water and the summer is the ideal time to let them have fun with H20!

We don’t want the house flooded so outside is a win for all !

Let them set up a car/bike/vehicle wash, set a pricelist and even make some sinage!

Now the water restrictions are no more they can have some simple good clean fun !

7- Have a picnic lunch.

With kids it’s all about the simple things …. you don’t need to be going somewhere to pack a picnic !

Meet a working buddy or family member on their lunch break from work in a nearby park, grassy area, go out to the green or walk a little till you find a spot !

Every child loves a picnic and we all have to eat so get out there and when the food is eaten throw in a game of hide and seek or eye spy for good measure !

Whatever you do enjoy the last few days of the holidays !!!!

Easing the Transition to “Big School”.

I can’t believe how quickly the last five years have gone ! I am now preparing “Baby J” as my sister used to call him for big school…..

Making the move to primary school while exciting for some children can be stressful for others. In our case ( and in most cases ) the preschool were super in introducing the topic to the kids and taking the edge off and just chatting in a relaxed manner about the move.

Considering James is my first to hit “big school” maybe I’m a bit of a fraud writing this post but I’m going to share how we are prepping for this big milestone none the less !

Here are just some of the ways we are preparing;

Reading books on the topic of starting school.

In the last few weeks I purchased and borrowed (from the library) some wonderful books that gave James an idea of what school will be like and were a great way to open conversation.

As a result of reading these books we have spoken about such topics as other people’s feelings, making friends and the posibilty of new rules and different routines to name but a few.

You may find this blog i have posted interesting as it is a list of my top 10 books to prepare your little one for school.

https://mindmadnessmilesandmummetime.wordpress.com/2018/08/12/useful-books-in-preparation-for-big-school/

Chatting about “Big School”.

We have been casually chatting about the school and answering James questions for 6 months plus now. We wouldn’t make a deal of it as such just show the school to him passing, mention that a child or children we met were at the school, talk about our own experiences in primary school and even tell some funny stories.

Luckily as a child I had a positive experience in school but that said I didn’t really like going either.. I never mention this to James and always talk about school in a positive manner. It’s so important not to let your own personal feelings influence your child we all know how quickly they pick up on these things !

Visit the school / Attend any open days.

Most schools have an open day and it is a great oportunity to get the feel for the school and potentially meet some classmates if you have not already.

If you can’t make the open day or feel that it would be overwhelming to your child be sure to phone the school and organise a visit. It’s good that the child feels comfortable in the setting and knows what to expect.

Organise play dates / make a buddy !

In a lot of cases someone in your little ones circle, childcare facility or preschool will be attending the school but not always.

No one from James circle or preschool will be starting with him in September so we made it our business near the end of term and during the summer to take James to a small local beach where children from the school and some who would start with him in September frequented.

He now knows a few lads in the older classes ( and looks up to them !) and also now has a few little buddies that will be starting in his class. I’m also hoping to organise a play date or two before the end of the month to make his transition as smooth as possible.

Aside from the emotional preparation there are other areas which you can work on to improve confidence….

It is important that the child recognises their own name so that they are confident in finding their coat hanger etc. This may seem like a small thing but if your child is anxious and/or upset the littlest thing like not knowing where to hang their coat or what desk to sit at can really upset them as you can imagine.

It is also important that the child is confident in recognising colours, shapes and talking about their family etc again so that they don’t feel out of their depth amount their peers.

Encourage independence at home eg; in the area of toileting, dressing, self hygiene etc as this will help them to be self sufficient at school.

Make sure the week before school is relaxed.

Try to minimalise stress in the house by having books,uniforms etc all sorted in plenty of time and if you have to do any trial travel runs do so in plenty of time.

If you cannot drop your child to school yourself make sure they are comfortable with the child minder/neighbour or whoever is bringing them and again do so in plenty of time.

Sleep and well being.

We’ve started getting back into our 7pm bedtime routine since last week to ensure my little people are in tip top shape and well rested as we all know lack of sleep messes with the emotions at the best of times and they will also need to be fresh to learn !

A lot of people give their kids a tonic or vitamin supplement in the lead up to the school term and considering we are fighting chicken pox as we speak I’ll certainly be having a chat with the pharmacist to get some advice on how to have him feeling his best for the big day !

Some tools to combat or deal with anxiety or worry.

Essential Oils.

Pop one of your favourite oils on a tissue so that if the child is feeling anxious than can inhale and breathe it in. Just be sure to use a good quality therapeutic grade oil Here are some of the best oils for anxiety ;

  • Lavender
  • Rose
  • Vetiver
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Frankincense

Guatemalan Worry Dolls.

On a recent trip to London I grabbed a few of these for my two fairies and my niece as I remember having these as a preteen and found them useful.

Based on the legend of a princess that was given the gift of never carrying a human worry Guatemalan worry dolls are given to brooding or sorrowful children.

The children tell their worries to their dolls and hide them under their pillows as they sleep and the following morning all the worries have been taken away by the worry doll.

Tigers Eye.

Quite some time ago I can’t remember why in particular I bought my little man a tigers eye stone to give him courage and he responded well to it and has kept it with high regard.

It’s yellow/golden brown colour makes this stone very attractive but also gave it its name as it resembles a tigers eye.

They originate mostly from south Africa and the tiger eye is a powerful stone that helps to release fear and anxiety and helps restore harmony and balance in the body.

Traditionally carried to ward off curses and I’ll wishes this gorgeous stone is known to give courage, strength and self concious to all who hold it and is a lovely gift to give to anyone starting a new adventure or going through a hard time.

Make sure to clean your healing stones and crystals see how here;

https://www.yogiapproved.com/om/7-convenient-ways-cleanse-healing-crystals/

Other tips I received from other mums

Spray some of your perfume/body spray etc on the cuff of your child’s jumper and when feeling a bit anxious they can get “your smell ” which will help them relax.

Draw a love heart on your hand and theirs so that you can think of ea h other through the day when you look at the heart.

As in seen in the book Ná Gabh ar scoil you can kiss your hand, put it in their pocket so that they can retrieve a kiss at any stage during the day that they feel uncomfortable.

What have I left out ladies ?! Have you suggestions !Do let me know …

Xoxo Laura.

Useful books in preparation for “Big School”

It’s seems like only yesterday that I had little J in my arms gazing at him thinking he was the most adorable thing I’d ever seen and now poof just like that I’m preparing him for primary school…

I don’t have any great worries about the transition in general but despite his confidence and enthusiasm about going to school in September I’m still very much aware that will be a huge move for him. None of his preschool friends will be going on with him and I want him to be as best prepared as possible both academically and emotionally.

I’m working on a post focusing on preparing for the transition to “big school” but for now I want to share the books I’ve found to be useful in preparation for this huge milestone.

I hope you find these books as helpful as I have…

Xoxo L.

All You Need To Know Before You Start School – Felicity Brooks/ Marina Aizen/Francesca Allen.

Published by Harper Collins for Usborne Books.

I absolutely love this book ! I wasn’t the only one .. both James and Lucy really enjoy it too.

In this book we join five animal friends who have just started school and they show us just what happens on an average day.

Nothing new you say ! Well what I loved about this book is that along with going through the daily happenings it also goes through all the kids need to know to give them a boost when the big day comes.

From letters and numbers to who’s who in your family, nature names and lots more .

By running through this book I found out in a child friendly manner just what I had to do a little work on .

This is a book I’d highly recommend for all making the big transition !

Usborne First Experiences – Going to School

Published by Harper Collins for Usborne Books.

In our household we are a huge fan of the Usborne First Experiences series and in fact the complete collection (all experiences combined in a small hardback) was the first “proper” book James received from us !

Follow twins Percy and Polly Peach as they prepare for and share their big day with you.

Polly soon overcomes her shyness and Percy gets stuck in ! The twins leave happily after a fun day at school and have made lots of new friends.

This is a simple book with excellent illustrations as always by Stephen Cartwright and one I really like … if you have a toddler or preschooler the combined collection (The Little Book of First Experiences) is one I feel everyone needs to have as it covers do much other including going on a plane, going to the dentist and going to hospital among others.

Ná Gabh ar Scoil – Marie Zeph / Tarsila Krüse.

Published by Futa Fata.

This is just a fantastic book that deals with the usual worries of a child starting school but with a twist …

In this superbly written book it is Mamaí that is reluctant to send her little guy Cóilín to school. Cóilín is very excited and his mamaí is his only problem! Mamaí worries about not knowing anyone and staying in school for the day !

Soon Mamaí realises everyone is kind and there is lots of fun to be had at school that’s when Cóilín decides it’s time for her to go home and leave him to enjoy his first day at school.

This is an absolutely beautiful book (I’ve come to expect nothing less from futa fata as I just love their publications, they have a super team of authors and illustrators) that I would highly recommend.

Fear not if Irish is not for you this is also available in English.

Betty and Jim go to School – Margot Channing.

Published by Scribblers Books.

This is a lovely book that gives a double page to each stage of preparing for school, heading off for school and the different stages during the day at school.

Betty and Jim make new friends, play and describe the classroom among other things.

What I really like about this book is that “lesson time” was mentioned, while its important to describe all the fun that your child will have at school I feel it’s also important to make it clear a little learning will have to take place too !

Cathal Sa Naíolann – Christine L’Heureux / Gisele Légaré / Pierrepont Brignaud.

Published by Futa Fata.

Another lovely book but particularly useful if you have a little one starting An Naíonra or preschool as it’s geared more at a younger age group as for example in the story the kids go for a little nap ! We must not  forget about starting preschool as this is often the first loosening of the apron strings !

Do I Have To Go To School – Pat Thomas.

Published by Wayland.

This superb book explains school in a factual yet fun manner, It normalises worries and tackles honestly the new experiences that are ahead for your child.

What I love about this book is it doesn’t shy away from the fact that yes we have to go to school, it’s more than just fun/games and some new rules may even be thrown in your child’s direction.

That said all this is explained in child friendly manner that prepares rather than worries your child about the new adventure that they are about to embark on.

The questions/ conversation starters throughout the book are another lovely feature as they encourage your little one to share their thoughts and/or fears to enable you to talk things through with them and take the worry out of making the move to “big school”

This is a book I would highly recommend to anyone with a littlein heading off in September or as a gift to a child taking the big step.

Going To School – Rose Blake.

Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

On first glance I thought there wasn’t a whole lot to this book but it became clear that in the case of this book the illustrations were more important than the text .

There are a few lines on each page that go through the day at school but there is so much in the illustrations that I feel the aim of this book is to encourage engagement and spark an interest in discussing what can be seen from the different ways we can travel to school to the activities that take place and much more.

Tá Siondróm Down ar Lara – Jennifer Moore-Mallinos/Marta Fábréga

Published by Futa Fata.

This is a beautiful book actually it’s one of a beautiful series Bimís ag caint faoí published by Futa Fata.

This is more than a great book to explain Down Syndrome in a child friendly manner but more importantly it’s a book about inclusion which is why it is listed here as a useful book for starting school.

This gorgeous books eplores the questions children may have about other children with down syndrome from physical features to abilities.

Rosie tells us the story of how she met Lara at camp and how they became fast friends.

A week into camp the leader Máire Treasa shares with the group that a new girl will be joining the group, after Máire Treasa explains that Lara has down syndrome a few kids are a little nervous one boy even suggests that if she has special needs she should go to a camp for people with special needs.

Soon the kids see despite a few differences Lara is just like all of us talented in some areas and not in other areas !

Whiff Wilson the Wolf who wouldn’t go to school – Carl Hart / Leonie Lord.

Published by Orchard Books(.Co. uk)

This is a really fun book ! I adore the whiffy series as I love to read stories where the text rhymes and the illustrations are endearing so in that regard this book ticks all the boxes.

Whiffy like most kids just wants to have fun and stay up late, School is certainly not part of his plan!

Children may relate to the fact that whiffy despite his bravado he is actually quite nervous about school.

His pal Dotty takes him under her wing in school shows him where the toilets are etc and before he knows it whiffy has realised school is not all that bad! So much so that he appears to walk to school with Dotty on Saturday !

Not only would I recommend this book I’d recommend the others in the series whiffy Wilson the wolf who doesn’t want to go to bed and whiffy wilson the wolf who wouldn’t wash !

An Bhfuil Tusa Cúthail? – Núria Roca /Marta Fábreģa

Published by Futa Fata.

Another from the beautiful Bimís ag Caint faoi! Series, this time focusing on being shy.

This gorgeous story shows shy children that they are not alone and helps those who have never been shy to understand just how inhibiting being it can be.

There is also a couple of tips to try and help little people overcome their shyness and working on including themselves and speaking out. It is a lovely book and a conversation starter that could be useful for do many scenarios.

You can buy these gorgeous books from the Bímís ag caint faoi series individually or as a set from http://www.futafata.ie

If you found this useful or like this then maybe you’ll like this post featuring my fave books as gaeilge.

https://mindmadnessmilesandmummetime.wordpress.com/2017/11/20/na-leabhair-is-brea-liom-as-gaeilge/

Or maybe this one … eight terrific titles for your little terrors.

https://mindmadnessmilesandmummetime.wordpress.com/2018/06/27/eight-terrific-titles-for-your-little-terrors/

Into The West …..

For the fourth year running we decided to have a staycation in our beautiful country, there is so much to do and see here that our “to do list” gets larger each year despite constantly tipping away at it !

This year we decided to head to the west of Ireland, Galway in particular. I felt along with Galway city (and even the suburbs) being full of life and packed with things to do it was also a great place to base ourself from and do a few day trips.

The kids slept through lunch on the way up so rather than wake them we continued to drive and headed to The Maldron on arrival which was right across the road from our accommodation and it was superb !

The staff were great and it as as very child friendly in general, the kids were given lovely colouring packs and a great menu to choose from … typically though they still picked the usual sausages and chips and a pizza ! I got a fab green curry and Mr Mmmm got a serious burger that tasted as impressive as it looked.

We ate here twice on our stay and I also noticed they had a superb kids club schedule displayed at the front desk. Obviously I did not see the rooms but having stayed in one The Maldron groups hotels prior I would have no problem recommending this hotel or the hotel group in general.

* My delicious Thai green curry ! *

See more at http://www.maldronhotelsandyroadgalway.com

We usually opt for a hotel as our two water babies like to have the pool at their disposal but with J having his arm in the cast it meant swimming and water parks were out for us this time round so we decided to stay in student apartments and they were good value, comfortable and clean.

We stayed in Cúirt Na Coiribe just outside the city centre and I couldn’t find fault, It was everything we needed and the kitchen was really well stocked with crockery etc I was surprised to even find an eggcup when I looked for one ! The only complaint was there was no real opportunity for my crew to interact with other kids but that’s not really a fault of the accommodation.

Galway Atlantaquaria

It didn’t take a genius to predict how the day was going to turn out when we awoke to the first day of our jollies … yup you guessed it after weeks and weeks of sun it rained on our parade or our holiday if you want to be specific.

Luckily a trip to the aquarium was on my to do list anyway as the only thing I love to check out as much as a zoo when I’m away is an aquarium and it was an experience the whole family enjoyed.

Galway aquarium boasts the fact it is Irelands largest aquarium and not only is there a superb variety of sealife to be seen (even some sea horses, my favourite!) there are lots of other interesting experiences to be had.

The opportunity to get “kisses” from some mullet was a real treat and my two found it hilarious ! They were also in awe at the real fin whale skeleton and loved getting up close with the star fish and spider crab, I would highly recommend organising your trip around the touch pool tour.

There is a great gift shop with something in every price range and plenty of pocket money toys so you are not fleeced !!!! And there is also what seemed like a lovely restaurant attached also which we only saw passing as we opted for icecream instead ! I would highly recommend a trip to the aquarium if you are in the area.

Check out http://www.nationalaquarium.ie for prices (we paid e33 for a family ticket) and touch pool tours/feeding times.

St Brigit’s Garden

Visiting St Brigit’s garden has been on my to do list for almost two years now and my trip didn’t dissapoint.

Each beautiful garden is designed to represent one of the Celtic festivals, Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine and Lughnasa that marked the beginning of each season.

* The highlight for me personally was the beautiful wildflowers basic maybe but they lift my soul *

There is something to appeal to everyone from the beautiful wildflower gardens, the herb beds, the stone circles, the fairy trail, a playground/sand play area and much much more.

On entry the kids were given activity sheets that were a little beyond my guys but lovely for school going kids and even helped us adults notice a few things we might not have done without them !

We had brought a picnic for the kids and had said we would grab something for ourselves at the cafe/ creperie and I must say the food there was exquisite, initially when ordering I felt the cafe was a bit pricey but on receiving our food we both agreed it was worth every penny ….

I ordered the goats cheese quiche and Mr Mmmm got a sandwich but in all honesty the sandwich was so much more than two slices of bread with some filling. The food that is served is of superb quality and is just mouth watering and I can assure I’m very fussy about food ! We weren’t hungry enough for cake but there was an amazing selection and the slices were huge !

We spent at least 3 hrs + in this beautiful attraction and another while in the beautiful gift shop.

There was a summer camp taking place the say we chose to visit and it looked like all were having a blast and there are other fun events organised throughout the year.

See http://www.brigitsgarden.ie to see more !

Salthill Promenade

Saturday morning we hoped for the best and headed to silver strand just outside Salthill but it was very windy and the showers were more than sporadic so we got back in the car again and true to form it dried up ! We walked on the Prom in Salthill and in true seaside fashion got chips for lunch followed by an icecream.

At that point it was after turning into a lovely day so we headed for the playground near the aquarium. It’s a super playground that caters for all ages is quite big but is well designed and you never feel like you’ve lost sight of your little ones.

What I really loved about this playground was the metre of grass all around the perimeter, it was lovely to sit down and have a coffee and it meant we had a picnic spot for snacks also.

There was a fantastic array of climbing frames etc and a lovely atmosphere here and along with friends we met up with we almost spent 3 hours here !

The kids enjoyed the playground so much that in the end we didn’t go to the merries ( amusements /funfair for those not from Cork !!!) As planned but they looked fab !

The stops en route home !

One of my favourite things about the west of Ireland is the stone walls everywhere and I was adamant I wasn’t leaving without a picture of the gruesome twosome on one of these walls and I hit the jackpot just outside Kinvara in that not only did we spot some nice looking walls but a round tower too ! We hiked up the field , spoke a little about the history of the round towers and got my snap and I was happy – the simple things huh !!!!

Actually we stopped a few times between Galway and Lehinch to take in old ruins and basic landmarks as it’s something I love to do and the kids love the little things like hearing about “long ago” and playing pretend in an old gatelodge.

* what a peaceful view looking up from inside the roundtower *

We stopped for lunch in Lisdoonvarna in the first pub we saw ( and had a nice lunch ) but there was loads of places to choose from as we drove through.

This was by far the best day weather wise so we decided to stop at the beach in Lehinch which was super but unfortunately the timing was bad and the tide came right in putting a stop to our fun after less than an hour ! This is certainly a place I’ll be returning to as it had a cool vibe and I have my heart set on a surf lesson !

More exciting things to do and see !

Although we did not experience any of the below they either were on my to do list or caught my eye ….

Leisure land in salthill looked fab with 3 pools to choose from a huge slide and an inflatable obstacle course !

See more at http://www.leisureland.ie

Caherconnell Fort Carron, Co Clare also caught my eye . More than one of the best preserved stone forts on the Burren there is also a selection of sheep breeds to be discovered and sheepdog demonstrations also and when you’ve worked up an appetite you can satisfy it in mountain haven cafe.

To find out more see http://www.caherconnell.com

Terra Nova Gardens Killmallock Co Limerick.

Visit the beautiful gardens and feel the magic at the natural fairy fort. Look for the fairies and check out the fairy shop. This is a lovely way to break the journey into the west ( well from the south anyway ) and I was dissapointed not to have the time to stop on our journey home last week that said it’s high up on our to do list.

See more at http://www.terranovagarden.com

Despite being unlucky with the weather we had a great trip up west and four nights was not enough as there was so much more that we hoped to do and didn’t but we will be returning for sure !

If you have any recommendations for our next trip up west do let me know.

As always all my opinions are genuine and my own and are based on our experiences alone.

Xoxo Laura.

Our Stay At Top Of The Rock Pod Pairc.

Last Friday we headed west to Top of the Rock Pod Pairc in Drimolegue, it was not our first trip here as we had been two years ago but the kids being two years older ( 3&5) meant it was a whole different experience and even better than the previous one.

We got a warm welcome from the pod pairc owner David Ross who omits a calm and relaxing vibe that gives you a sense of the kind of experience you will have during your stay.

We opted for a luxury pod again this time as it is the only pod that has a toilet and kitchenette with fridge. The other pods and tent pitches are only a stones throw from the communal kichen/ toilets and showers and communal area (which are all spotless) so it’s not a massive dissadvantage not to be in the luxury pods.

For once we weren’t the last to arrive so while we waited for the rest of our party the kids scoped out our digs and the pairc itself. We got aquainted with the animals and even got to help David feed the crew and get to know and bottle feed Billy the kid who was a big hit with all the children.

When all the gang had arrived we headed off down to the river for a paddle, unfortunately my battery had gone flat so I couldn’t capture the gorgeous scenery and the beautiful mountains as we went cross country from the pod pairc to the river.

The kids had a ball in the water and on the fantastic stepping stones and it’s possible for older kids/teens to have a swim.

It was a gorgeous walk but uneven for the smallest two so we returned via the road which was quite a challenge as although it is short it is quite steep when your carrying a three year old ! Bring a buggy or carrier if you have a diva or a smallie!

After working up an appetite we cooked tea and just let the kids have a free reign which was just amazing. It was fantastic to be in such a safe space that we could feel comfortable in giving the kids a bit of independence and they had a ball in the playground and met lots of friends.

Little J was very put out when I told him he had to refuse the invite to a “party” some older girls were having in their pod, I suggested he meet them at the swings and thought to myself if he’s getting invites like this at five I’m going to be in trouble in ten years time !!!!

Just before bed I called the kiddies to roast some marshmallows on the superb campfire and funny enough they were ready for bed after that so I had no arguments ! There was a lovely atmosphere around the fire among kids and adults alike and the fun went on till midnight but even though we were right next to the fire it didn’t disturb us at all.

The Following morning after a fantastic sleep the we were all eager to eat breakfast and get going on the Farm Hands programme. This activity wasn’t in operation the last time we visited so we were all eager to enjoy the experience. There is an additional charge for this of e10 per person ( children and adults alike ) but it is well worth the charge as you get almost two hours of fun and education.

We started off at the farm learning the history of the Ross family and farm along with learning about all the animals in the pairc and even meeting the beautiful doves that work as surrogate mothers to hatch the duck eggs. We were lucky enough to see some little ducklings released to the pond also and that was only the beginning !

We then took a stroll to the farmyard and met the climbing goats on our way and learned a lot about tree species, we then hit the farm yard where farm safety was explained to us and the kids enjoyed the straw bale maze!

Then the bit they had all been waiting for ……

The tractor ride !

We all piled in and we were taking on a tour around the farm learning as we went but also stopping off for a picnic of delicious home baked biscuits and Glenillen lemonade (included in price) both were a bit hit with children and adults alike.

When we completed farmhands we went back to the communal area where the kids received a certificate come activity sheet to colour from David.

At that point the kids were tired so we had some lunch and made for the road while the folk that were staying on went for a nap.

We didn’t even make it to Drimolegue before they were sound asleep ! We all had such fun and a jam packed 24hrs the kids absolutely loved it and I had such a relaxing time which is a big win !!!

It was so good to switch off and not “nag” for 24hrs… Top of The Rock is a superb place that every family needs to experience, to switch off and get away from the rat race.

I for one can’t wait to return.

For more info see https://www.topoftherock.ie

When in the area also check out;

Waterfall Alpaca Farm

https://m.facebook.com/waterfallalpacafarm1/

and Glenillen Farm

https://www.glenilenfarm.com