Monday 24 June 2019

Living Arrows 2019 25/52

Welcome to Living Arrows post 2019! If you haven't heard of the linky before, This was set up by Donna at What the Redhead Said and the name comes from the poem by Kahlil Gibran "You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth" Each week I post one photo of James and one photo of Freddie and share what they have been up to that week! 

This week James came home with his sponsor form for a sponsored event that is taking part in school in a few weeks time along side the GB Decathlete David Guest! The kids are also practising for the annual singing picnic. James class are singing Witch Doctor by the Cartoons this year and James has been playing it none stop to learn the words meaning Freddie is now totally obsessed with it!

Freddie has been having a great time with playgroup. He bounces in every day! Quite often as soon as the gate is opened he runs in ahead of mummy!

We also had a lovely family day out to Intu Metrocentre so gaga could get on with doing some of the work in the boys bedroom without little fingers trying to help!

Its hard to believe we only have a few weeks left of term before the boys finish for the summer!

Living Arrows

Saturday 22 June 2019

Saving Money On Your Summer Family Fun

Juggling your family’s expenses can be difficult at the best of times. Faced with
he summer holidays, however, the pressures of managing your money can become
even tighter.

That being said, you can enjoy your summer holidays on a budget. From finding activities
you can do at home to saving money on days out and activities, you can make sure you
give your family the best summer yet.

Here are some easy ways to save money on your summer family fun.

Image Credit: Unsplash under Creative Commons

Do some film/book/game swaps

Watching a film or reading a good book can be a good way to spend a summer day,
but even your little one can tire of the same ones over and over again. Why not suggest
a swap with some other parents where you exchange books, games, and films for a few
weeks? It means you don’t have to spend money on easy entertainment and other families
will benefit too!

You can always pick up some great bargains on games, DVDs and books in local charity
shops, as well as donate items that you no longer need.

Keep an eye out for day out deals

Day trips like theme parks, zoos, etc., can come at a high price, especially if you’ve
got more than one child. But what you should know is that many of these destinations
have good deals on tickets if you know where to find them. A little search online for
discounts on family activities could help you save some pennies. You can pick up
some deals in advance as well to help you spread the cost over the summer months.

Plan some fun rainy day activities

With the British weather as unpredictable as it is, you’re not always going to be able to
go out and do things in the sun. But that’s ok, as there are plenty of fun activities you can
do indoors this summer. Get baking, make a den and or have a film day - there’s a lot you
can get up to when you need to think of ideas.

It also helps to have some sort of ‘rainy day kit’ to hand so that you can do things like
making crafts or colour in. Essential supplies like pens, crayons, paper, and card are a
must, and you can make more advanced crafts using things like hot melt glue guns,
soldering irons and others. You can easily find fun tutorials online to help you think of
some amazing craft ideas.

Look for a last-minute holiday

Going on holiday can be out of the question when money is tight, but you might just find
some ways of scoring a very cheap deal. There are options for short breaks, holidays
you pay monthly for, UK breaks and more. Airbnb can be a good idea to get away for
an evening just for a change of scene and to visit a different city or the countryside. You
can pick up a cheap last-minute deal if you have some flexibility over when you can travel.

Enjoy picnics in the park

Sometimes the simplest ideas can be the most enjoyable. So why not spend some
summer days enjoying picnics in the park? As long as you’ve got a blanket, something to
read and some toys with you, you can spend a lovely afternoon just enjoying the sun.
Take a look at some healthy picnic ideas you can take with you to make sure you sneak
some fruit and vegetables in there too.

Go to the beach

The beach is always a classic destination for the summer holidays. If you live near
enough to make it a day trip, you can make it a regular thing on those sunny days.
With the sea and sand providing a lot of entertainment for little ones, you can make
it a super affordable day out. Take a packed lunch and plenty of sun cream and enjoy
a day at the seaside.

Camp in the garden

Camping isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s much more enjoyable from your back garden
and in walking distance of the kettle! Instead of heading out into the wilderness
(or your nearest camping spot), you can still help your little one have an adventure outside.
Get plenty of fairy lights and something comfy to sleep on for a great night in the garden.

Camping in the garden also makes a great sleepover idea if you’re short on affordable ideas.
The kids can always come back inside if it’s too cold or it starts to rain.

Make the most of free visitor attractions

Have you taken advantage of all of the free activities your local area has to offer?
Museums and different visitor attractions can make excellent free days out. TripAdvisor
is the place to go for recommendations of free attractions near you, and you can check
out some of the message boards too to get even more ideas for things to do!

See what’s on in your local area

Summer is a great time for local events and things to do. A quick glance at your local
listings will tell you when different events are taking place like food festivals or family
fun days, which will be great for finding things to do across the summer. Facebook and
Eventbrite are also some great ways to see what’s taking place and how you can get
involved. It’s also worth finding out from other families what they’re getting up to in case
you find something you miss.

It can be a struggle to afford everything when you’re a full-time mum, but it’s surprising what
you can come up with on a tight budget, especially over the holiday. So with a few good ideas
and a bit of planning, you can help your kids have a great summer that you can enjoy too.
Now, let’s cross fingers for some good weather this summer so that you can get out and about
and make the most of that sunshine.

**Collaborative Post**

How to Keep Your Finances Healthy When You Have Young Kids

Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush from Pexels

Do you feel like there’s never enough money at the end of the month? As a parent, keeping your
finances ship-shape can be a particular challenge. If you’re looking for ideas for some changes you
can make, read on.

Building a budget

We’re not taught budgeting in school, so it’s no wonder most of us struggle with it. But creating
realistic budget is vital, especially as a parent, since families can have a lot more outgoings. 
Scrutinise your bank statements to see what your income and outgoings are, and where most 
of your money is spent. You might find it helpful to put all this information into a budget tracker.
Consider how you can reduce the money you spend each month. Sometimes it’s simple things 
like cancelling a subscription you don’t use or switching to a cheaper utility provider. Lots of 
families save money by changing shopping habits, such as buying more in bulk and choosing 
own-brand products. It’s surprising how much these savings can stack up!
As a parent, you could also check that you’re claiming anything you might be entitled to. If you 
have young children, check if you are eligible to receive support towards childcare. 
All 3-4-year-olds in England are entitled to 15 hours a week of free childcare with an approved 
provider, and for some that will go up to 30 hours. If your children are school-aged, you could 
check if they are eligible to receive free school meals. Some parents will be able to get tax-free 
childcare. All of this can help to stretch your budget further, so if you’re eligible, why not apply?

Share your concerns

Money is such a touchy subject for many people, but it doesn’t have to be. If you feel able to 
open up any financial worries you have, it can be beneficial to talk to a trusted friend or family 
member. You never know, they might have experienced the same thing. Talking about finances 
doesn’t have to be a taboo, and you don’t have to feel alone.
 Everyone understands that raising a family can be tough financially. You could also speak to 
your bank to see if there are any products you could use to make your situation more comfortable. 
For example, they might be able to offer you a current account with some added benefits, or 
savings account with a higher interest rate, so your money works harder for you.

Investing for the future

As a parent, you may feel too stretched to save for your future. But even if you only have a 
little income, with careful budgeting you may still be able to save for your future.
Certain people entitled to working tax credit or receiving universal credit are eligible for a 
Help to Save savings account. This is a government-backed scheme to help people on a 
low income to save, and savers get a bonus of 50p for every £1 they save over four years.
Another option is to set up a cash-ISA, which allows you to save tax-free and earn interest 
on your savings. Interest rates can vary between banks, so it’s a good idea to do your research 
to get the best rate for your money.
If you have some extra income, but still struggle to save, you could try automating it. Once 
you’ve worked out how much you can afford to save each month, set up a direct debit that 
goes straight into your savings account. Having this set up to go out automatically each 
month means you can save your cash before you even get a chance to spend it.

Photo by Alizee Marchand from Pexels

Dealing with debts

As a parent with lots of outgoings, it’s easy for finances to get out of control. If you are in debt,
you’re not alone. Most people have some form of harmless debt, often in the form of student
loans or a mortgage. But it’s different when you have debts that have spiralled out of control.

Many people struggle with this and find that they can eventually get their finances in much
better shape. Read up on ways to reduce debt, including how to get out of your overdraft
and how to pay off credit cards.

You have the right to check your credit report for free, so you can see what state your
financial health is. Once you can be realistic about how much debt you are in, you can start
making plans to reduce it. This includes proper budgeting, cutting your outgoings, and finding
ways to boost your income. If your debt is affecting your mental health, make sure you speak
to a professional. The mental health charity Mind might have some useful resources for you, too.

Looking into loans

Sometimes you might need a loan, whether that’s for a smaller purchase like a holiday or a
larger one, like a house extension. There are a few different types of loan available. Personal
loans are usually for a smaller amount and aren’t tied to an asset. For larger, more risky loans,
some people need secured homeowner loans, which require an asset, like a house, for security.
Loans can be complicated, so it’s a good idea to speak to a financial advisor to explore all of
your options.

Planning for your pension

If you’re not working outside the home, it can be more challenging to save up for that
all-important pension. But even as a stay at home parent, you can still be saving towards
your retirement. If you’re receiving child benefits and your youngest child is under 12 years
old, you should be receiving national insurance credits. To receive a full state pension, you
need to have 35 years worth of credits by the time you retire. You can use the pension age
calculator on the DWP’s website if you’re not sure where you stand.

Some people also contribute to a private pension scheme or open up a lifetime ISA,
which you can open if you are under 40 years of age. With this type of savings account,
you put in up to £4,000 each year, until you’re 50. The government will add a 25% bonus,
to a maximum of £1,000 per year. The issue with the lifetime ISA is that it’s not very flexible:
you can only withdraw the funds if you are buying your first home, aged over 60, or terminally
ill. Any other circumstances mean you pay a 25% charge.

Hopefully, this article has helped you to feel more empowered to keep your finances in
working order, so you can feel more relaxed and in control.

**Collaborative Post**

Monday 17 June 2019

Living Arrows 2019 24/52

Welcome to Living Arrows post 2019! If you haven't heard of the linky before, This was set up by Donna at What the Redhead Said and the name comes from the poem by Kahlil Gibran "You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth" Each week I post one photo of James and one photo of Freddie and share what they have been up to that week! 

James had a great week at school and Beavers! If the weather is ok, then mummy will let him scoot to school then mummy will take the scooter back home after dropping him off! For one of his badges he needs to make a camp blanket, so mummy ordered the bits he needed from the scout store online so we could make it together! It meant mummy had to unpick two badges off his jumper as they had "expired" aka they had run their time on the jumper!

Freddie had a great week at playgroup! Mummy had his parents information meeting for the school nursery this week! It really only seems like yesterday mummy was at the same meeting, in same hall, with same staff for James starting! Freddie was so exhausted after playgroup on Monday that he passed out on mummy's shoulder!

Living Arrows

Saturday 15 June 2019

Siblings Project 2019 - June

Welcome back to the 2019 Siblings Project!
We are now into June and the boys have been so loving towards each other lately!

This month James has been loving
* Swimming
* Dippy the Diplodocus
* Being at Nana and Gaga's house

Freddie has been loving
* Swimming
* Borris the Fingerling Hug
* Dippy the Diplodocus

The boys had a fantastic time going to see Dippy at Great North Museum at the start of the half term holidays! They then spent a brilliant week at Nana and Gaga's house!

In this months photographs the boys were pretending to be Dinosaurs while we were visiting Dippy! 

Tuesday 11 June 2019

Freddie's Free From Top Three!

Over the last few months we have been cooking more meals from scratch with are "Free From" meals. Freddie has finally been diagnosed as Non Ige Allergic to Dairy, Soya, Wheat and Bananas. For us this means his reaction is not an instant reaction like a rash or breathing problems, his are a gradual reaction meaning they develop over a few a few hours or days. His quickest reaction has been around half an hour and his longest has been around 6-12 hours. 

Because of this we keep a cupboard of "safe" snacks. So in this post I'm going to show you are top 3 go to snacks for Freddie that can be eaten in and out of the house!

First off we have the Tesco Free from Digestive Biscuits. These are our main go to when Freddie wants a quick snack. You get ten in a packet so you can imagine how many packets we go through in a week (normally its around 3!). 

I have tried these and I cannot really tell the difference between them and the wheat variety! These are free from all Freddie's allergens so they are the perfect snack for him to  have when he comes in from playgroup. He also takes them in his pack lunch to playgroup.

Second we have Bear Yoyo's. Now these are brilliant! Both Freddie and James love them and we get through at least two boxes of these a week! Freddie again takes these in his lunch box for playgroup 

Finally we have the Free From Flapjacks. Again these are free from all Freddie's main allergens, so are perfectly safe for him to eat! You get five in a packet so Freddie can get through quiet a few of them each week. 

If you can suggest any more super snacks which are free from Wheat, Banana, Dairy and Soya then please drop us an email as we are still navigating the world of free from and always looking for things that we can buy for both boys!!

Monday 10 June 2019

Living Arrows 2019 23/52

Welcome to Living Arrows post 2019! If you haven't heard of the linky before, This was set up by Donna at What the Redhead Said and the name comes from the poem by Kahlil Gibran "You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth" Each week I post one photo of James and one photo of Freddie and share what they have been up to that week! 

The boys have been back to school now for one week and we have six weeks left till the school break up for the summer holiday and Freddie has six weeks left at playgroup before he moves to the school nursery in September. 

James has had a great week with school and Beavers! He came home with a letter for his first school residential trip which is taking place in October at Kielder! Its only for one night but I think he will have a ball and he is already so excited! We are also completing a number of Beaver badges this term and mummy is waiting for a parcel coming to make his camp blanket!

Freddie has had a great time at playgroup! He is now calling everyone a saurus as he is dinosaur crazy so its been mummysaurus, daddysaurus, Jamesysaurus all weekend! 

Living Arrows

Wednesday 5 June 2019

(AD) Swimming with Swimfin

Welcome to our next post on Swimfin! 

We've just had our school half term holidays and mummy and nana thought what better time to get the boys swimming! As mentioned in our previous post as James is going into Year Three in September, he will be starting to go swimming weekly and up until now the only real experience with swimming that the boys had was on holiday last year when they would splash around in the pools at the hotel and at the water park!

The pool we were going to originally take the kids to was closed for refurbishment, so we had to have a search around the local council website to see what other pools would be suitable for the boys. We eventually decided to take the boys to the new leisure centre in Ashington. The leisure centre was opened in November 2015, in fact it opened just a few days before Freddie was actually born. 

Sadly the leisure centre has a no photography in the pool area policy so we were unable to take photos of the boys in the pool using the fins.

Freddie was very unsure of his and kept asking to take it off, but we left it on til he had left the pool. In fact Freddie spent most of the 45 minutes we were there sat on the side playing with pool toys and throwing them for mummy and nana to go fetch!

James on the other hand was fantastic! We found some arm floats on the side of the pool and he had one under each arm and by the time we left the pool he was actually swimming full widths of the small pool! The Swimfin was keeping his body in the right position!

The Swimfin is suitable for children from 18 months old and it is so easy to put on with two elasticated velcro straps that fit around the body. Larger straps can be bought to use the fin with older children, The standard straps that come with the fin are a perfect size for both James who is almost 7 and Freddie who will be 4 in November. 

Swimfin say on their website "The most important thing about SwimFin is this: the more submerged it is, the more support it is giving. This means when the child is vertical, doggy paddling through the water, SwimFin will be almost completely submerged, giving maximum support. As the child’s body position becomes more horizontal, SwimFin comes out of the water giving less support. This means the child is swimming more for themselves with less and less assistance."

The boys had a brilliant time at the pool and actually asked if we could go back a few days later, which we did! We are now aiming to take them at least every other weekend if not every weekend!

We were also sent some of the Swimfin Funky Floaties pool toys, but on this occasion we forgot to take them with us, but next time they will be first thing in our swimming bag, although I think James has them earmarked for bath time!

I will keep everyone updated on James progress using his Swimfin in the run in to starting swimming lessons with the school in September!

**We were sent two blue Swimfin's and a set of Funky Floaties free of charge in exchange for this review! All views are our own!**

Monday 3 June 2019

Living Arrows 2019 22/52

Welcome to Living Arrows post 2019! If you haven't heard of the linky before, This was set up by Donna at What the Redhead Said and the name comes from the poem by Kahlil Gibran "You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth" Each week I post one photo of James and one photo of Freddie and share what they have been up to that week! 

The boys are back to school and playgroup today after the half term holiday! We went and spent a few days at nana and gaga's house like we always do in the school holidays. The boys had a fantastic time, they really enjoy visiting nana and gaga's house and both especially like going for walks by the river to see the ducks!

While we were staying with Nana and Gaga, mummy and the boys went for a walk across to Amble and also a walk down into the village. James had a lot of fun chasing the sea gulls away from the ducks, who were sitting on the grass by the river. 

We also went swimming twice, which was really good fun! James really took to it and by the end of the time in the water the first day we went he was swimming across the pool using arm floats and his Swimfin!

Freddie wasn't too keen on the pool the first day we went but by the time we left the second time he was loving it!! We are now looking to go back in the next couple of weeks on a weekend! While we were at Nana and Gaga's Freddie was such a bed hog! Poor mummy had to keep moving him so that I could get in on one side and James could get in on the other side!

Living Arrows