Archive for January 2018

A Review of Imagination Lane - Play Cafe

Sunday, 28 January 2018

A play cafe near Nantwich, which is designed around different role play areas. It makes such a great alternative to traditional soft play.

Recently I came across details of Imagination Lane and thought it looked fun so took the kids. I think it has been open about a year - it certainly still feels quite fresh and new inside.

The centre is designed like a street with a row of different role play areas along each side and then tables and seating down the middle. The role play areas were; doctors, cafe, library, car garage, builders' yard, supermarket and theatre. There is also a baby corner for the under 2s with a small ball pit and other baby toys.

Miss A spent a lot of time in the theatre area trying on lots of different costumes. Master R predominantly spent his time either on the ride-ons or pushing a trolley or wheelbarrow around.

We were there longer than I initially anticipated so we ordered food which was very reasonably priced. The service was a little slow but they were very busy and the kids were happy playing so didn't seem to notice the wait, it was just me who was anxious to eat! It did get very busy with everyone sharing tables and standing room only at one point so it's worth getting there early to bag a seat particularly if you are going to want to eat.

Imagination Lane was very clean though a tad cold when we first arrived until the heating kicked in a bit more and there were a lot more bodies inside and then it really warmed up! You pay for entrance at the same till as you order food. It's a bit awkward and isn't ideal as people are trying to come in and there's a queue of people trying to order food.

Imagination Lane isn't the easiest place to find. It's certainly tucked away on the trading estate. Turn left as you drive into the trading estate and park up. Then head towards the buildings at the end and there's a small sign that takes you to the right and through what just looks like a warehouse door.

It was nice to take the kids to a play centre that wasn't the usual soft play. Imagination Lane was a safe environment to let them just wander between the different areas. It's a great find and I'm looking forward to taking the kids back again soon.

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New Years' Eve Celebrations 2017

Sunday, 21 January 2018

We've not really celebrated New Years' Eve with the kids before but this year I thought it would be fun to do some activities and make more of a celebration of it.

I put together 12 different activities and wrote these on pieces of paper to go inside 12 balloons. Miss A got to pop the balloons to find out the next activity. You could do one an hour, but we just did them as and when we were ready to do another activity.

The New Years' family fun activities were as follows:

1. Bean bag clock - 12 paper plates with clock faces drawn on them which I stuck to the floor with some blu-tack. Then we had to throw the bean bags on each plate around the circle. This was a great exercise to talk about clocks and time with Miss A.

2. Party games - nothing beats a few party games so we played pass the parcel and musical statues.

3. Make a 2018 crown - I cut out two crowns and then let the kids decorate them. They both did a great job.

4. 2018 playdoh - I made the numbers out of playdoh and then had lots of materials for the kids to decorate the numbers with.

5. Knockdown game - some plastic cups on the floor and then we took it in turns to put some tights on our head which had a ball down on leg. The object of the game was to knock all the cups down with the ball. Easier than it sounds!

6. Sparkler firework - we made some fun firework sparklers with jumbo straws, coloured cellophane sheets and tinfoil. You can find the instructions I used for these on the Kids Craft Room website.

7. Photobooth - I'd got a plastic inflatable frame and some props for us to do some funny photos. The photos didn't come out that well and are mostly blurred but it was a fun activity to include.

8. Smarties clock - a paper plate with a clock face and a plate with Smarties on. Move the Smarties on to each number of the clock using a straw! Miss A was really good at this!

9. Year in review - I printed out a review sheet from the Internet and Miss A filled in the answers, with some help from us.

10. Mini disco - just some good old dancing to cheesey tunes!

11. New Years' Eve tea - a glow in the dark tea for the kids with glow sticks! Miss A came in and said 'That's amazing'. The perfect reaction!

12. Watch fireworks - I found the London fireworks from last year on YouTube and the kids watched this just before going to bed.

My favourite activity was the glow in the dark tea party. It looked so good and this is something fun I'll repeat on other special occasions.

It took a bit of organisation and I needed to make sure I'd got all the supplies we needed in, but it was worth it. It was so nice to do all the activities together as a family and I think this will be a new tradition for us on New Years' Eve.

Do let me know how you celebrate New Years' Eve with kids and if you have any suggestions for new activities to include next year!

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Siblings - January 2018

Friday, 19 January 2018

Joining up with The Siblings Project with these photos of Miss A and Master R. 

It's been such a great month and the kids have enjoyed the extra time they've had together during the school holidays. They get on so well and there is so much interaction between them now. Master R has started to copy everything his sister does - the good and the bad! You can see him watching her intently and then he'll burst in to life and join in with what she's doing. His language is really come on now as well. He has a lot more words in his repertoire.

I can't believe how many pictures I've actually taken of them together this month so I'm just going to keep them in chronological order.

I took the kids along to a local church to their Community Nativity service. All the children came dressed up and were involved in the story telling. Miss A was a lovely angel and Master R was a sheep! They looked so cute!

Christmas Jumper Day at school for Miss A. Even our Elf on the Shelf, Elfie, got involved with a new jumper!

The next few photos were all taken on Christmas Eve. The kids undertook the Elf Adventure Challenge at the Ice Cream Farm. This was a really fun experience and we all had a great time.

Christmas Day and the kids opening their stockings. This is one of my favourite parts of the day. It was so lovely watching them and seeing their reactions to each little present.

Fun at Grandma's house over Christmas. We stayed 2 nights celebrating with all the family. The kids created their own sled to travel round the house on!

Wearing some of their new nightwear that they got given for Christmas! So snuggly and cuddly!

This photo just makes me smile. I have no idea what Miss A was doing! It was taken at the National Memorial Arboretum. A bit random to find a fairground horse but it is part of the Showman's Guild of Great Britain Memorial.

This year for the first time I did lots of activities with the kids on New Year's Eve. We had great fun playing party games, doing crafts and dancing. Definitely a new tradition for us.

Whilst Miss A was off school for the holidays, I used our Chester Zoo membership and we spent a fun morning at the zoo. We explored a section we hadn't been to before and saw lots of different animals.

Finally a picture taken on the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway. They both really enjoyed riding on this funicular railway - the oldest and steepest electrical, operational cliff railway.

The Siblings Project - Dear Beautiful

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4 Year Blogiversary

Friday, 12 January 2018

Happy 4th Blogiversary to the Mummy on a Budget blog! A couple of days late celebrating - whoops!

So another year has passed and this blog is still really important to me. My biggest frustration is that I have got so far behind with posts that I don't know how to catch up with myself. I used to always write in the evenings, but for a while now I find myself too exhausted after dinner and do not like the idea of sitting infront of my computer screen. I think I will have to do a lot of 'one year ago' and 'last year' posts!

I want this blog to include all our family adventures so both the kids have them documented for the future and I have recorded our memories together for them. So I need to re-focus and get my writing mojo back and crack on!

My most popular new posts in terms of page views last year were actually not to do with family days out etc. which is really what my blog is about. They were actually posts about living with cancer: Living with Cancer and Living with Cancer - A Year of Treatment.

I used to write regular round-ups with local activities and events in the school holidays in and around Aylesbury which were always my most popular posts. Since moving, I haven't done these so it's something I'm hoping to resurrect. If for nothing else, then they were great for my own personal use to plan what to do with the kids!

Although I haven't managed to keep on top of all the content writing, I have managed to take part in 3 linkys consistently throughout the year: My Sunday Photo; the Me and Mine Project and the Siblings Project. The last two have been fantastic in ensuring that we take at least one photo every single month of all 4 of us together and of the kids together. It is so nice to have these to look back on from every month and chart the changes.

I thought it would be good to have a record of my Social Media followers. They might not be big numbers compared to many fab blogs out there, but I'm pleased that anybody follows me and my little space on the web!
Mummy on a Budget on Facebook - 1,168 likes (1,065 in 2016)
@mummyonabudget on Twitter -  2,592 followers (2,202 in 2016)
mummyonabudget on Instagram - 2,795 followers (1,827 in 2016)
Mummy on a Budget on Google+ - 72 followers (69 in 2016)

Instagram is by far my favourite social medium platform and this is reflected in the growth of my followers. I love it because it's so spontaneuous and easy to post a quick snap of anything we're doing. I don't have to turn my computer on to write a long blog post, I can just upload straightaway. I also really like the being part of the lovely community on there and it's a great place to get ideas for things to do and places to go.

Life continues to throw many challenges at our little family but we perservere and try to keep a smile on our faces. There is so much uncertainty in our future with my ongoing cancer treatment, but all we can do is enjoy the here and now and make the most of our family time together. We also have a big life event to focus on and look forward to in September as Mr MoaB and I will be getting married!

I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who reads and supports this blog. Please bear with me as I strive to keep on top of content and it may appear in a random order on the website! A big thankyou to Mr MoaB who supports me with the blog despite my nagging to get family pictures and my addiction to social media! Also, I have to thank the kids for putting up with me constantly getting the camera out. I think it's starting to rub off on Miss A as she asked for her own camera for Christmas! A new blogger in the making!?!

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Me & Mine - December 2017

Monday, 1 January 2018

Joining up with the Me and Mine Family Portrait Project with these photos of our family for December.

Our first festive photo of 2017 when we met Father Christmas at a local Christmas Fair. Master R isn't quite sure yet what to make of the man in red!

This was taken on Christmas Day at Mr MoaB's sister's house just after dinner.

Another encounter with Father Christmas. This time actually after Christmas which was a bit strange! We went to The Lanterns at Chester Zoo.

We had a very tired Miss A on our hands but wanted to get a family picture next to the Royal Corps of Signals statue at the National Memorial Arboretum as Mr MoaB used to be in this Corps when he was in the army.

December is always such a busy month as we try to do lots of Christmasy activities and outings. It was made even more busy this year as Miss A had lots of school activities this year! It's been a really great month. Last year we moved up to Cheshire in December and I was in the early stages of my treatment so Christmas is a bit of a blur whereas I really enjoyed it this year.

December Highs:
  • -  For most of the month we had a little visitor with us in the shape of Elfie, our Elf on the Shelf. Miss A loved seeing what mischief he had been up to each night which made the effort worth it! 
  • - I took the kids to Delamere Forest for some Stick Man Christmas Fun with Forest Explorers. Miss A got to do some crafts before we headed into the Forest for some marshmallow toasting. 
  • - Miss A was invited to a couple of birthday parties this month. One at soft play and one Super Hero party. There's going to be a lot more parties to come now she's at school! 
  • - For the first time, we had a real Christmas tree this year. We headed out in the snow to choose our tree at Delamere Forest. It made the experience very special with the snow. 
  • - There have been quite a few meetings of Father Christmas this year. Think it was 5! Luckily Miss A doesn't seem to question the differences between them and gets excited to see each one!
  • - Miss A made us super proud when she took part in her school Nativity play. She spoke her words so clearly and loudly and knew the words to all the songs. It was such a lovely thing to watch. 
  • - It was a busy time at school as Miss A also took part in a special assembly that I went to watch which showcased the pupils work and also the carol concert. Not to mention Christmas Jumper Day and the Christmas party! 
  • - For the second year, I took the kids along to a local church to their Community Nativity service. All the children came dressed up and were involved in the story telling. Miss A was a lovely angel and Master R was a sheep! 
  • - Mr MoaB and I had a go at the Tree Top Trek in Manchester. We had a great fun trying this out. I'm chuffed that I felt well enough to do it and completed it as I love trying these things out. 
  • - We had a fab day out in New Brighton. I really do like it there. We found a fantastic park this time. There were some nativity wooden statues, a fairy village as well as a great playground. We then spent time at the pirate ship and playing in the sea. I'm so glad we now live nearer the sea as both kids love it. 
  • - The kids undertook the Elf Adventure Challenge at the Ice Cream Farm. This was a really fun experience and an ideal thing to do on Christmas Eve to get us in the mood for the next day!
  • - We had a fab Christmas Day. The day started at home with the kids opening their stockings and presents. We then had our elderly neighbours rounds for a coffee and mince pie before travelling up to Mr MoaB's sister's house for a big family Christmas dinner. 
  • - Boxing Day was spent at Mr MoaB's other sister's house. More family, more food and more presents! 
  • - Before heading back home we saw lots of Mr MoaB's Aunts and Uncles. Some of them hadn't had the chance to meet Master R so it was great for them. 
  • - I was fortunate enough to win tickets from We Love Chester for The Lanterns at Chester Zoo. This was on my wishlist to go to but I thought we'd missed out for this year. The evening took a dodgy turn in the middle when Miss A had a meltdown from being overtired but luckily she had calmed down by the time we saw Father Christmas. Overall it was a good evening and I'm glad we saw the amazing animal lanterns. 
  • - We got a new car! A used car but new to us! Has the added bonus of sliding doors which makes getting the kids in & out so much easier! I love it!
  • - A final road trip of the year took us to Leicestershire to stay with friends. We hadn't seen them for 3 years but it didn't feel that long. We went with them to visit the National Memorial Arboretum which has been on our list to visit for a long time. Mr MoaB was in the army when he was younger, so it holds particular significance. 
  • - New Years' Eve was a very low key affair as usual but we had fun playing games and doing activities including party games, 2018 crafts and a glow in the dark tea which went down very well!

December Lows:
  • - Miss A was so ready for the end of term! Her school didn't finish until 22nd Friday but she was so tired and ready for a break before then. She was very up and down and we struggled a bit with her behaviour but a good rest and some time off school has done her the world of good. 
  • - One of our cars developed problems which were going to be very costly. We'd already decided we needed to replace it early next year but we suddenly had to urgently car shop for a new one!
  • - Another round of treatment but thankfully my latest scan results show I'm stable.

2017 has definitely been kinder to us in lots of ways but we've still had a few lows and of course there's my ongoing treatment, but we're in a better place than we were this time last year. You can really see the changes in the children, especially Master R who has gone from baby to toddler. I started the year with no hair but now have a fair bit! I wonder what 2018 has in store for us!?!

There are times when it seems a real effort to try to get a picture as the kids aren't always in the mood but I'm so glad I have a monthly record of our family. They are my world and my everything. 

The Me + Mine Project - Dear Beautiful

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