Shake, Rattle, Rock & Roll

Next weeks sees the Morley Sing & Social close it’s doors for an extended summer break. Don’t despair, it will be returning, but not until September.stack 1

As next week (Tuesday 28th June) will be the final group for a couple of months, I will be coming back for one last party and hosting the Tuesday session in person.  I would love to see as many of you there as can make it. We really will be making it a party with our favourite friend Peppa Pig along, the best shake it all about songs, pom poms, ribbons, instruments.  The parachute will be out in full force along with a spectacular laser show.  The cakes will be unrivalled, and if that’s not enough, my mum will be making her famous flapjack for me to bring along too.

I took the opportunity to have a quick look through the many, many photo’s that are in the Mini Me Time Sing & Social archives, and thought that it was an appropriate time to share a few.. so take a look – for some of you it will certainly be a blast from the past!!

Always met with a smile by Charlotte & Debs – Debs kept everyone full to the brim with refreshments each week, at the busiest of groups we could go through 4 loaves of bread, 2 loaves of fruit bread, 3 packets of crumpets and over 6 pints of milk, that’s not mention the cakes and biscuits at half time – wow you lot could get hungry.

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On the sunnier days (not many I know) – we enjoyed the odd Mini Icecream too

Icecream collage

There was so much energy used by everyone attending the Sing & Social, with a separate baby area with sensory toys, gyms etc,

Babies collage

and a toddler area with tunnels, soft rollers and roll along toys

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And then there was of course the high energy music session!  Who needed to go to the gym when you could come to Sing & Social and wiggle, jiggle, bounce and shake everything you had.

Party collage

Pom poms I always felt were a favourite (or was that just me as I got chance to wiggle the booty all around the place!)

Pom pom collage

Saying that, I pretty much loved the ribbon sticks

Ribbons collage

and scarves too!

Scarves collage

Another firm favourite were the occasional visits from our friend Peppa Pig, as well as Lolipots for the handprints, and Blush photography – always making for excellent Mothers Day, Fathers Day and Christmas gifts.

peppa collage

 

I have to say, I also loved our specials – Easter and Halloween where simply the best!

Specials Collage

I have been so proud of the Sing and Socials, when I started them over 3 years ago, I felt that the stay and play sessions around the place were fine, okish, but I wanted to offer more, I wanted to have a party every week, and wanted them to be THE PLACE TO BE. So with that in mind, the Sing & Socials were born – with limitless tea/coffee/toast,

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free play time,

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Toys collage 1

Toys collage 2

 

music and movement, lasers,

laser collage

parachute (the biggest you’ve ever seen!)

Parachute collage

learning to sign simple songs

Signing collage

and of course BUBBLES!

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A full mornings activity for just £5 per family – never per child (I have always felt that life is expensive enough without having to pay for each individual kiddie).

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But.. its time to take a break.  Many of you know that I relocated to Lancashire at the end of 2015, and Emily has been running the group since.  I would like to thank Emily whole heartedly.  It was no mean feat to take over such a large and long running group, and she should be congratulated for her bravery (lol) in doing so.

emily

Natalie – who now has responsibility for the Leeds South Area (which includes Morley) will be bringing Sing and Socials back to St Andrews on Tuesdays from September, so keep and eye out for the date and be sure to come along.

natalie

Finally, I wanted to thank all the parents, children and my staff for the loyalty, support and friendship, I have loved each and every minute, and look forward to seeing you all soon x

Charlotte xxx
Founder of Mini Me Time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In to 2016 -Reflect and On We go

Its here already – 2016 – feels a bit weird typing 2016.

Traditionally the New Year is a time to reflect on the previous year and plan for the year head.  We remember the highs and lows, resolutions and goals we set – some reached and achieved (many not!)

My usual resolutions always include, lose a bit of weight, and get a bit fitter – however I’m the same weight as last year (ok perhaps a few pounds heavier after Christmas), and I probably made it to the gym for a total of a 1 month out of the past 12.

Other resolutions generally include, shout less at the kids, have more patience, schedule more family time, I am determined (as I am every year lol) to make these resolutions more of a reality.

I recently heard my eldest dear daughter (now coming up to 9yrs old), telling off her little sister (6 yrs old) – to my horror (and shame), she was using the same phrases, tone and attitude that regularly I hear coming out of my mouth – it did not make for comfortable listening I can tell you.

I think we forget just how much our very own Mini Me’s are simply just that – sponges, taking their lead from us, our example is everything to them.  We are pretty much their whole world of influence in their early years.  I gotta tell you – thats a big weight of responsibility – and the older they get, the more apparent and clearer it becomes!

So, top of my Goals for 2016 are:

goals 2016

  1. Be a better example – I want my children to learn love, patience and understanding.  I also want them to learn that we make mistakes, that we are not perfect, so also we need to learn to forgive quickly and learn from the things we get wrong.
  2. Family Time – one evening a week is for family time only.  Just one evening a week that is dedicated and set aside to spend together.  An evening that isn’t filled with extra curricular activities, favourite TV programmes, tablets, laptops etc.  Ok, these evenings are going to take planning to avoid us sat together, staring in to space wondering what comes next! But surely, just one evening a week should be manageable.
  3. Meal planning – A healthier us – these past few months more food than I like to admit has come straight from the freezer and in to the oven, and they’ve had more of their fair share of junk.  So, a months meal plan is done and shopping lists written
  4. I also want us all to learn a new skill – the girls started piano last year, but for one reason or another the lessons were short lived – so these are going to be re-instated forthwith, and not only for them, but for me too.. (eek.. I’m not the most musical of people,  despite my singing and dancing antics at our Mini Me Time Groovers & Movers classes!)

I’ve also set a few personal and professional goals  in addition to those above, (mostly around getting my local yoga class more than once a month, and eating more apples than chocolate)

Goals

What are your goals for this year?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quicky Review – Hesketh Farm

Time is running out .. holidays will shortly be at an end.

If there is one more place you can fit in before the return to normal routines and the Autumn months descend upon us Hesketh Farm is the place to go. To say we loved it would be an understatement. Its just round the corner from Bolton Abbey – so could easily combine a visit (see earlier quicky review blog on Bolton Abbey) – although, you could spend the full day at Hesketh Farm itself without any problem at all.

Rarely do you get to go somewhere that is so hands on, with lots to do both inside and out, surrounded by amazing scenery and views.  The staff were fabulous, friendly, helpful and extremely knowledgeable.

Hesketh Farm is a working farm – in fact, if you choose to the tractor ride – it is the Farmer himself that takes you.  Which was fab as he was happy to chat through the workings of the farm, knows all his animals and gives you a real insight in a frank, friendly and informative way, rather that just the tourist guide script that you would normally expect.

From the moment you arrive you can get involved with the animals.  Sat around on bales of hay, petting, stroking and brushing guinea pigs and rabbits – to be honest, if given the chance, I don’t think the children would ever have moved on from this point… and they did return numerous times!

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But there was more.. much more.

You have to opportunity to bottle feed the calves

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You can collect eggs from the chicken coops – they are still warm!!

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Hold the new born chicks – in fact we watched a brand new chick actually hatch from its shell – AWESOME

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Brush the pigs

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Feed the horse

There are even giant tortoises wandering round the place – amazing

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The fun didn’t stop there, as there are indoor play areas, including a straw bale maze, sandpit, ride along tractors (and mini ones for even smaller visitors).  All this is inside, within the inside picnic area.

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There is a small cafe – and I have to say, very very reasonably priced for sandwiches, treats and drinks.  We had taken our own, but even if we hadn’t, getting lunch and drinks wouldn’t have broken the bank.  We did treat ourselves to the hugest yummiest chocolate chip cookie – it it was just a £1 – so big that 3 of us shared it!

There is the outside picnic areas, and adventure play ground.  As well as a large tractor that can be climbed on – great for photos.  Animals in the surrounding fields and as mentioned earlier, you can go on the tractor ride with the farmer.

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What I really enjoyed was how truly interactive the place is.  The kids (and me too!) could just go from place to place, touching, stroking and feeding animals, ask questions.  There was simply so much to do and experience.

It was lovely to watch the children get so involved with the animals, learning loads without even realising it.  There were displays with different sized eggs, that you then matched up to the birds – Natalie got a little confused when she came across a Creme Egg in the display!  Nice little touch of humour I thought and made us all have a bit of a giggle. All the way through there are different puzzles on the walls, displays, things to look at and experience.

Because there is so much indoors as well as outdoors – weather really isn’t an issue.  We were lucky enough to get sunshine whilst we were there, but I honestly don’t think even if we had got the usual British drizzle and grey skies it would’ve made any difference to our enjoyment of the day.

We got there quite late on – probably around 1pm, and left about 4.45pm.  A return visit is an absolute definite, and we will certainly be getting there earlier to make the most of whats on offer.

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Cost – very reasonable.  Kids £5.50, Kids Under 2 £3.00 and Kids Under 1 are free, Adults £6.50, the tractor ride is an extra £1 per person (and worth it)

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Quicky Review – Bolton Abbey

I am always on the look out for places to go, especially ones that don’t cost too much.

Bolton Abbey is a place I remember going as a child myself.  My memory of the place is a little hazy, I must’ve been pretty young.  But what I do recall is a lovely warm sunny day, a river, lots of green grass, being with loads of friends and having heaps of fun. A really happy childhood memory.

So with this in mind, I thought a great place to go with the kids this summer.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Packed the car up with kids, a picnic & friends.  When ever possible we always take our own food.  I find that food, drinks and snacks is where trips out tend to blow the budget.

The sun was peeking through here and there, not glorious, but enough to warrant a day trip in the outdoors.  The only cost was parking – you pay per car not per person and it was £8.  Considering there were 2 adults and 3 children, as far as entry fees to places go it worked out more than reasonable.  Plenty of places to park, picnic benches and tables can be found here along with shops, cafe’s, toilets.  We decided to eat first before going off to explore (less to carry).

Its a short walk from the car park to the entrance to the Abbey grounds.  You are given a map when you park, so its very easy to find your way around.

Just as I remembered – green, open space – wonderful

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The plan was to do the ‘Welly Walk’ – basically a woodland adventure trail round the grounds  with activities to do along the way including  tree climbing (there is an extra cost of £2.50 to do the tree climbing), tunnels slides, bridges and beams.  The info does warn you to forget about being clean, and advises that some of the obstacles are not suitable for all age groups. (Picture from Bolton Abbey website)

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However, even though it was our intention to do this, as soon as the kids saw the river it was off with shoes and socks to dip their toes in.

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This lead to the rolling up of trousers for a bit of a paddle.

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This led to the removal of trousers, and me taking a trip back to the car to the change of clothes that thankfully I’d had the forthought to pack ‘just in case!’

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And that was it – the rest of our afternoon was decided.  The grown ups on the picnic blanket keeping eye, the kids in the river, padding, skimming stones and generally loving life.

I loved it, this was exactly what I remembered from my childhood visit – how often do you get to play in rivers these days.  A little further up, just beyond the bridge are the stepping stones across the river.  The water level was higher than ususal, so water was lapping over them, but they weren’t slippy and were very sturdy.  After a few tentative crossings, they children were practically running and skipping across them.  I did give it a go.. but boy that water was cold.. managed less than a 3rd of the way across before my wussiness took over and I headed back the way I came.  Clearly children have a lot greater threshold of cold as they literally spent over 2 hours playing in the river.

stepping stones

river

Eventually we persuaded them to dry off, and we took a bit of a walk around the ruins.  What a stunning place.  I love a bit of history and and places like these I am always in awe of how they were ever built.  The masonry, the detail is astounding.

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There is also still a fully functioning chapel there together with the most beautiful stained glass windows.  Well worth a walk around.

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Overall, a lovely day out.  On a sunny day, highly recommend you going along.

Recommendations – take a picnic, take a flask if you want a warm drink (once on the Abbey Grounds there isn’t anywhere to get a drink), take a towel and a change of clothes, or if a really warm day swimming stuff.

If doing the welly walk – take wellies!

Enjoy!

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Power of touch – for life

The dynamic of parent-infant interaction is the most important foundation upon which a child learns about the self, and about trust and respect. It is this first relationship that influences the way relationships are perceived.

Baby Massage
Touch Communication, The Power of Infant Massage

by Elaine Fogel Schneider, Ph.D., C.I.I.M

  1. Enhances the parent-baby bond
  2. Is a foundation from which parenting skills emerge
  3. Encourages nurturing touch and communication
  4. (the parent that has)The greatest impact on the life of a child
  5. A cornerstone in the building blocks of parenting
  • Infant massage enhances the parent-baby bond, helping to create more family-centered values. Babies are aware human beings who deserve respect, tenderness, warmth and, above all, a listening heart.
  • Infant massage is a foundation from which parenting skills emerge. Infant massage instructors train parents and caregivers to massage their babies, and read their babies’ cues while developing interactional skills enhancing communication.
  • Infant massage instruction encourages nurturing touch and communication through training, education and research. Throughout the world, by using infant massage parents, caregivers, and children are loved, valued and respected. Every parent, child and infant will have the opportunity to experience the lifelong joy that comes from having an early relationship that is loving, healthy and secure. Through infant massage parents can engage their children in quality time, a time when a child’s cues are being read and respected, and when the person administering the massage may relax and gain numerous benefits.
  • It is the parent who has the greatest impact on the life of a child-and it is the child who can has the greatest impact on that parent, laying the foundation upon which the parent-infant relationship grows. Infant massage is not only about massaging a baby-it’s about working with families; building nurturing relationships; assisting with bonding and attachment; furthering respect, trust and love, and training a parent to read the cues of the baby so the child in turn feels love and security.
  • Infant massage is necessary in today’s fast-paced world. The power of touch and the benefits of infant massage are being widely studied. If current research about infant massage continues to demonstrate the benefits of massage (increased bonding and enhanced growth and development for infants, as well as benefits for those giving the massage), then these new findings may place infant massage as a worldwide cornerstone in the building blocks of parenting
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Quicky Review – York Maze

One word AMAZING!

What a day out.. Put together sunshine (well, it peeked through the cloulds a fair few times), loads of activities, a group of friends and you get a fun packed, value for money family adventure.

York Maze is most definately somewhere I’d recommend.  Easy to get to – 2 mins off the A64 towards York, loads of parking just a few meters from the entrance, value for money – our pre-booked family tickets (2 adults and 3 kids) worked out at £11.50 each.

There was so much to do from the second you walked in. The best way is to show it in pictures

The sandpit – immediately in front of you as you arrive – lost the kids to it for at least an hour – stuff to climb on, water play, diggers

sandpit collage

Right next to an adventure park

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On to the bouncy pillow – grown ups allowed (how could we resist!)

pillow Collage

Before exploring the Mazes – there’s the main Maze, Illusion Maze, Fingers Maze (my personal favourite), Crazy Golf Maze, Mineshaft Maze. All different, all with a range of activities to do.

Maze collage

maze 2

And there’s more – Snake Slides (I screamed louder than the kids!), Crazy golf, water wars (to be honest, we didn’t do this.. note for next time to take a change of clothes so we can happily get involved).  Kids loved, loved the Pig Racing.  Natalie’s pig came in first so she got a medal that she proudly wore the rest of the day.

Other activities 1 collage

Activities continued with the Graffiti wall, motor boat driving (additional cost of £1 for this), the House of Confusion (this was amazing, but don’t underestimate the effect it will have on you.. not one if you have a weak tummy – was decidedly queezy afterwards).

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Another favourite was the Crowmania Ride – lots of opportunity to get squirted with water, there was a bit of banter with the guide, story telling and interaction with the scarecrow on the way round too

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Natalie hiding from the squriting water!

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Haystacks to climb

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Photo opportunities everywhere – we of course took full advantage!

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We took a picnic – lots of outside space with picnic benches, as well as a covered area if the weather had taken a turn for the worse (which for once, it didn’t).  There is a coffee shop cafe and also a grill if you want to buy food, and a few icecream/snack kiosks around too.

We arrived about 11am (opens at 10am) – no queues, straight it and left around 5.30pm (closes at 6pm).  We could’ve spent way more time than we did walking round the mazes, but we were trying our best to fit everything it. And even after over 6hrs having tonnes of fun there was still stuff we hadn’t done.

A return visit is a must, and would highly recommend you get along if you can.

Favourites collage

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Junk Modelling

the hearty life

One of Ethan’s favourite things to do at pre school was “Junk modelling”, I never saw the things he made but often heard about what an amazing activity it was for him to be involved in and how much he loved it. Since he broke up for the summer he has periodically asked if I would use the recycling to help him make a robot…I wanted to, but to be honest I really do not enjoy crafting with kids, especially my kids as they just go nuts and start doing silly things and it gets stressful or we end up with paint all up the walls, either way I may have been fobbing him off a bit with it (naughty mummy).

On Monday we had planned to go out but due to rain and feeling wrecked from the wedding weekend we just stayed in. First thing was cartoons on my…

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