Boolino Friends Review – Fum by Karl Newson

Seemingly out of nowhere, lately Oscar has become obsessed with traditional fairy stories. The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Billy Goats Gruff (a pattern? Possibly 😉 ). It really is lovely because they’re all stories I know the basic plot line for. They feel wonderfully familiar and reading them is like passing on some kind of tradition. Sharing the stories that made the backbone of my own childhood reading, is really what I imagined parenthood would be like!

The latest book we were sent to review from Boolino isn’t a straightforward fairy story, but it does combine a bucket load of traditional characters all in one place. And Oscar loves it. Fum by Karl Newson is the story of the giant Crumb Family, who’ve lost their youngest member, little Fum.

The search for Fum takes the family on an adventure through all the traditional fairy story characters you can think of. The pigs, Red Riding Hood, you name it they’re there, helping the Crumbs along their way. And Oscar loves it. It’s a new story, but it feels familiar and shows the well known characters in a different context, which is great fun.

Oscar sounding out the title. He’s getting so good at phonics and blending sounds!

Meeting the Crumb Family – but wheres the littlest Crumb?

Oscar really enjoys the quirky rhyming couplets of this story, along with Lucy Fleming’s fun and detailed illustrations. Seeing his new found faves popping up in new and unexpected places, make this a very welcome addition to the book shelf.

Oscar loves this latest addition to the bookshelf!

 

 

Friends, fish and fire – our first school Half Term

Half term has been and gone and while Oscar definitely showed me that he was missing the routine of school, he did really well and we had lots of fun.

Cousin love

We started the holiday with a lush visit from Ben’s sister and her two little ones. I love my niece and nephew so much and watching Oscar play with them (sometimes happily, sometimes grumpily!) just makes me so happy. We had such a lovely time, I was even willing to forgive that they both asked over the course of two days “Auntie Lisa why is your house so tiny”. Out of the mouths of babes I guess!

Cousin cuteness

Cousin cuteness

We took them to our favourite hangouts while they were here, including Applegarth Farm and Dylan’s Milk Barn. Rachel said she felt like she knew Dylan’s already having heard me talk about it so often. I might start charge Ben, the owner a PR fee!

The Neicephews discover Dylan's

The Neicephews discover Dylan’s

Home Start

Once they’d returned home we had a lovely visit from our old Home Start Volunteer. Despite being released from the programme that helps preschool families, our wonderful Rent a Gran (as I lovingly call her), was worried about how Oscar had got on since starting school. It was so touching to know she’d been thinking of us. She popped over for a catch up and bought me such a lovely begonia. It reminded me of the one’s my own Nanna would always have in the house when I was small.

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A kind and thoughtful gift

National Marine Aquarium Plymouth

We finished the week with a short trip down to Plymouth to see some friends. Oscar loved having a sleep over with their daughter and they played so nicely (he kept asking for her once we left). Our friends couldn’t get over the improvement in Oscar’s language. When you hear it every day it’s hard to remember just how much has changed in such a short space of time.

We couldn’t go all that way without a trip to Oscar’s absolute favourite – The National Marine Aquarium. You might remember we went at Easter and I kid you not it’s the only place Oscar has ever asked to go back to. Again and again! Periodically since April he’s just asked “We go Quarium?”. It’s been heartbreakingly cute. And so we planned to take him for the last hour when we arrived on Friday, as we did last time. And like last time we didn’t have to queue and we kind of tailed the majority of the other visitors. Or rather we would have, had Oscar not just been sat in a car for four hours. He went in at top speed and raced around glancing at the tanks as he flew past. When we got to the end he announced he needed the loo. So we found one near the beginning and when he came out, we just started the Aquarium all over again, this time much slower. It worked a treat!

The main tank at the National Marine Aquariu

The main tank at the National Marine Aquarium. Stunning

father and son at aquarium

“Look daddy it’s broken!” Oscar was fascinated by the environments created at the aquarium

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Oscar loved getting up close and personal with the biggest fish tank he’s ever seen!

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Happy Boy

A rare still moment.

A rare still moment.

The staff at the NMA were just as lovely as always. I realised half way down to Devon that I’d forgotten our DLA and Carer’s letters to prove we were entitled to concession tickets. Just in case, I tweeted them to ask if there was any other way of getting the concession price. I was told to ask for Olly at the desk. When we arrived we did just that and he told the front of house to waive our fee. It was just so kind and much appreciated. Thank you Olly!

Out of interest I also saw this while we were going round. I’m gutted we will miss it again, but if you know anyone who may appreciate a quieter session at the National Marine Aquarium then the next one is on 16th November. Find out more here.

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Bonfire

We finished our stay with a family bonfire at our friend’s dad’s beautiful cottage just outside Plymouth. We had an amazing bonfire, a bbq and a chance to catch up with friends we’ve known for years. And I mean years. I met our hosts sister on her first day at secondary school. 26 years ago! It was so lovely to see everyone and to watch our children get to know each other. Oscar was nervous of the dogs to begin with, but once he started playing with the children he relaxed and stopped noticing them. He had so much fun. And it was a night of firsts for him too. His first sparkler, that he loved and was very good with (with 100% supervision) and his first McDonalds, that he didn’t like at all. Fair enough. Thank you to the Pringle clan for making us so welcome. As always.

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Family Bonfire

Oscar's first sparkler. I held his hand until he said, "no mummy I do it" !

Oscar’s first sparkler. I held his hand until he said, “no mummy I do it”

Back to school

I was worried how the holidays, the first break from school since he started in September, would go. And I know I definitely saw some signs that he was missing it, but really, he coped amazingly well, showing off his improved language and social skills. And despite being ill this week (impetigo apparently, no I didn’t know what it was either!) he’s had a great return to school.

And today he had his first fully dry day without accidents since he started.

This year just keeps getting better for him!

 

 

Haslemere Fringe Festival and why we’ve never been before

It’s (allegedly) Summer. ‘Tis the season for fetes, fairs and festivals. What fun! Or rather, what fun? If you have a child who is all to easily over stimulated then the summer events season can be hard work. We’ve had mixed results with summer fairs . When Oscar was younger they always resulted in at least one of us leaving in screaming tears. And over the years that’s made us wary. But I’ve said it before, it’s not up to us to just assume what Oscar can and can’t handle, what he will or won’t enjoy. Regardless of his Autism, he changes all the time and if we don’t keep giving him the opportunity to try things, how will he, or we, ever know what works and what doesn’t? It’s for him to tell us if he likes something or not. Which is why we decided to go to our local summer fair, the Haslemere Fringe Festival (otherwise known as Lion Fest) today.

We’ve never gone along before, for various reasons. Firstly, it’s on a local green which is flanked on two sides by busy roads, which scares the bejaysus out of me. Secondly it’s just so busy, what if he can’t cope? Yep, I think quite a lot of not attending has been to do with my fear of the unknown and, if I’m honest, of my inability to control the situation. And that’s not fair on Oscar. We walked past the festival being set up several times this week and Oscar was most interested. He told me it was ‘a party’ and that he could see ‘ladders’. He also told me he wanted to ‘go to the party’. This year they had fenced the entire operation in, meaning I only needed to fear the unknown element 😉 . And that’s my problem and not his. So today we went.

We nearly had a false start, as after walking down there and him getting very excited to ‘pay the lady’, we realised we didn’t have enough cash. We waited while Ben ran off to get some and while waiting is not Oscar’s strong suit, and he did get a little upset, it did also give him a chance to check the site out from the other side of the fence. By the time we’d paid to get in he knew exactly which ride he wanted to go on first. And so he did.

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He loved this ride and went on it twice. Once in a helicopter and once in a plane.

He then decided the Big Wheel was next, however I could see he needed the loo. He’s getting quite good at giving me signals when he needs to go and today he also announced he needed the ‘bathroom’. As we’d gone sans nappy today, we ran (and he held on) until we reached the other end of the fayre, where he had his first experience of a urinal (with a little help from daddy!). What a guy! When he was done he headed straight back to the Big Wheel, which he announced he wanted to go on with Daddy. And when your child asks like that, you pack away your fear of heights and you do it. Thank you Ben!

Oscar looked so happy the whole time he was on the Big Wheel.

Wave to Mummy! Oscar looked so happy the whole time he was on the Big Wheel.

Then as soon as that was done he headed off to the inflatable slide and then the bouncy castle. What larks!

He he comes!

He he comes! Happy Boy

But my favourite moment of the afternoon has to be when he announced he wanted to go to ‘the farm’. I wasn’t sure when he meant, until I remembered we’d seen a music tent near the loos, with bales of hay for seating. He happily led the way and we were confident enough to let him run ahead without needing to be holding on to him. We sat in the tent and watched the young girl singing. Oscar also told us she was ‘playing a guitar’. Which she was.

I guarantee this is cutest picture you'll see today

I guarantee this is cutest picture you’ll see today

Mummy and daddy enjoying the music too!

Mummy and daddy enjoying the music too!

One of the hardest parts was leaving. We softened the blow by going home in stages, first to the park where he had a great time sliding, swinging and playing on the roundabout with a new friend. Then on the way home we stopped into Dylan’s Ice Cream. I’d won a competition to design a flavour for the festival and my prize was free ice cream. Thank you very much! My winning entry was Lion Bar (for Lion Fest geddit!) flavour, and I tell you it has ruined me for other flavours. Delicious!

Chocolate, Caramel, Wafers and Rice Crispies. Oh. My. Gawd!

Chocolate, Caramel, Wafers and Rice Crispies. Oh. My. Gawd!

Going to Haslemere Fringe Festival was a bit of a spur of the moment decision, not something I do often with Oscar. But today it worked. Yes it was expensive to get in, just to pay for him to go on the few rides and not really enjoy any of the other things on offer such as the live bands or the market stalls. But do you know, he had an unbelievably good time, with waiting and queuing and running but not running off and laughing and big smiles. Oscar won’t necessarily smile when he’s having fun, but I can tell you now, he doesn’t smile if he’s not. And today he did. Loads.

 

Being a Blogger is…..

I’ve been tagged, by the beautiful Gym Bunny Mummy (seriously if you haven’t checked out her blog yet do. It’s just so gorgeous! I have serious WordPress theme and photo envy every time I visit her blog!) to complete a post about about what blogging means to me. Its called

Being a Blogger is….

It’s not something I’ve really considered before, but once I started, I knew this was a post I’ve needed to write for a while. So here we go.

Being a Blogger is….baffling. I never intended for anyone to read my ramblings much less follow them and actually be interested in what I have to say. And despite doing this for two years now I still don’t really think of myself as a “blogger”. I’m just that girl who publishes stuff online and hopes people might like it. Maybe I need to start thinking of my blogging status differently. After all thousands of people a month seem to think I’m a blogger (gawd love ’em), so why don’t I?

Being a Blogger is….a massive confidence boost. When I first started writing, my confidence was at an all time low after becoming a new mother, giving up my job and (I felt at the time) my identity. Writing gave me something I could really be proud of and when people started to respond with wonderful and thoughtful comments, particuarly about my weight loss or to tell me something I’d written had made them think or cry, I wont deny it lifted me up and made me happier and more confident than I’d been in a long, long time.

Being a Blogger is….therapy. This is particularly true in terms of my weight loss posts but also with Oscar’s diagnosis of Autism. When I was finally able to get it out on my blog I felt 100% better about the whole process. Took me a while to get there mind you!

Being a Blogger is….creative. I’d kind of given up on being creative. I used to be and always wanted to be, but somehow never really found my outlet in admin! My writing has allowed me to wake up that long dormant creative streak, which I can see developing as my posts progress, but also in the rest of my life, with the things I do and wear and try. It’s my inspiration.

Being a Blogger is….being part of a community. I love my mummy friends to bits, don’t get me wrong, but I have found some amazing souls through being a blogger and my use of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. People who have helped me, supported me, made me feel valued and given me confidence in who I am. And yet I’ve met so few of them in real life. They’re such an eclectic bunch and I’ve ‘met’ people I would never have done otherwise. I’m proud to be getting my name known around the community, because it’s such a valuable thing to be a part of.

Being a Blogger is….my thing. I never really had many interests before I started writing. If people met me for the first time I always talked about what I did for a living. God how boring was I that I had nothing else to define me than my job, which for many years I hated. Now I have something I have created and am immensely proud of to talk about (if people really want to hear about it. I am acutely aware of becoming a blogging bore!)

Being a Blogger is …. space. Space to say and do and be who and what I want. I like to think I’m not controversial as such, but if I need to ask a question, even if I don’t have the answer (particularly if I don’t have the answer) then my blog is my space to do it. Sometimes I even get an answer back. I don’t expect everyone to agree with everything I write, blimey it’d make for a dull world if they did, but it’s my space to write what I want.

Being a Blogger is….. so much fun. From the events I’ve attended, to the holidays I’ve been on, from the conversations I’ve had to the sentences I’ve written that have made me laugh, I’ve had so much fun because of my blog. Bringing up Oscar is my life’s work, but what with one thing and another it’s not always the most fun. I’m so grateful for the fun my blog brings into my life.

But really

Being a Blogger is…. just the beginning ?

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My office

I would like to tag these superb bloggers to tell me what Being a Blogger means to them:

 

 

 

Silky Smooth Dough

OK, I know this looks like I’m writing a crafting/messy play series and I promise this wasn’t the intention. If I’d been more organised I guess I could have done. Ahh well, next time!?

So next in the line of crafty activities I’ve been doing with Oscar involves a different kind of play dough, that had been recommended recently by several friends. This one was even easier to prepare that the Easy Playdough I made recently. This one has two ingredients: cornflour and hair conditioner. I know right!!?

I don’t use hair conditioner myself (what? I don’t regularly use moisturiser either – it’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just I never remember to), so bought the cheapest bottle I could find at our local supermarket. I plumped for a pale green one, with a minty fragrance. I thought this would add a nice sensory touch to the dough. Which it did, although it did leave me with a craving for Soft Mints all day!

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This dough is quite a different texture to the flour based ones. It’s a smoother consistency once kneaded but dries quickly. A quick knead though and you’re back to silky smoothness.

Directions: I mixed one cup of conditioner with two cups of cornflour. I didn’t use colouring this time, but you could! Mix and knead. Simples!

Smooth!

Smooth!

The best thing about this dough is the stretch you get from it! Due to the non-Newtonian properties of the cornflour (can you tell we have a nerd in the house?) it can be both soft and hard at the same time. The boy played with it for ages, burying Thomas the Tank Engine in it, then pulling the train back slowly to see how far he could stretch the dough.

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Poor old Thomas!

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Like I said, a craving for chewy soft mints!

A real sensory experience

A real sensory experience

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As far as it could stretch

It looks wet....

It looks wet….

... but it's really not

… but it’s crumbly at the same time

Despite it’s silky, smooth appearance, this dough is actually very crumbly, meaning it was also much more messy than regular dough. Had I realised this beforehand I would have let him play with this in the kitchen on the tiles, not in the lounge on the carpet! That said, it cleaned up with a damp cloth and a hoover, so it wasn’t all bad. The only thing I would say is I wouldn’t give this to babies or children with a penchant for putting everything in their mouths. Hair conditioner is really not something you’d want them to chow down on.

So , yes it was pretty messy, but clean up was easy enough. It wasn’t my fave, but the boy loved it and at the end of the day that’s what matters when it comes to messy play.

I need some more ideas of things to do now. Something less about the end product and more about the process. Any ideas would be greatly received. And before you ask I’m think I’m going to save Ooblek for the garden months! Well, wouldn’t you?

#ToddlerApprovedTuesday