What do eight year olds read?

It’s begun.

It’s started.

I can’t tell you how excited I am!

Bedtime reading has taken a hold of The Girl.

Not the sort where I sit and read them a story, but the sort where she sneaks the light on late into the night buried in a favourite book.

I have fond memories of turning the hall light on and lying on my bedroom floor, the book in the light falling through the cracked door, my head in other worlds sneakily reading late into the night. I’m so thrilled that she’s following on in this great pastime. No story is as good as one read illicitly when you ought to be tucked up in bed.

She has started properly into chapter books, Harry Potter being the story of choice at the moment and I’m busily searching The Works for some more great reading ideas, trying to wrack my brains over what I loved, which worlds, stories and characters really transported me to new places and new discoveries.

She does rather seem to still get put off by too much text on a page, although she really wants to read chapter books and trudged through Harry Potter for week before giving up and returning it to the library. I don’t want her to get put off, to think it’s all too hard so I was looking for some slightly-lighter-in-text-density chapter books to begin with.

I loved the Worst Witch series as a kid and they seem fairly early-reader friendly. As do the Clarice Bean books which look like a more grown up version the the Charlie and Lola books that she loves. More words, but still fun and with lots of pictures.

clarice bean clarice bean

Other than that, I’m coming up with a blank.

It’s hard to remember what I was reading at eight years old. I do know that Ioved Enid Blyton and The Famous Five, but they are more text heavy. I don’t remember really what I was reading before then. Who did you love to read at that age? Who are your children devouring?

 

3 Ways to Help Keep Your House Cool in Summer

keeping your house cool

Image: Ines Hegedus-Garcia

Summer is a wonderful time of the year, perfect for lounging around by the pool or hanging out at the beach with friends. Unfortunately, while these beautiful summer days can be wonderful, they can also transform your home into a sauna. Hot summer days can be very unpleasant if you have nothing in your home to help you cool down. The heat can make you feel very uncomfortable and make it difficult to sleep on those hot summer nights. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to help beat the heat this summer.

1. Block out the Sun’s Harsh Rays

If you’re trying to reduce the heat in your home, it makes sense to try and remove the source of that heat. The more sun you can block out of your house, the cooler it will ultimately be. While curtains appear to block out most of the sun, most merely absorb its heat and do very little to help keep your house cool. If you’re serious about reducing the heat, investing in quality blinds and awnings is a good way to go. They’re designed to block out sun and keep rooms cool throughout the day. They cost nothing once installed and so are a sound investment that can be used as much as you want for years to come. Companies such as Stylewise Security, who specialise in making products that are effective, reasonably priced, and visually appealing, are a great place to start looking. Visit this website for more information on their range of blinds, awnings, and shutters.

2. The Ultimate Way to Cool Your Home

While shutters and blinds will prevent your home from getting hot, they don’t actively work to cool your home if it is already hot. Air conditioning is by far the most effective way to cool your home. It can cool your home in minutes at the push of a button and allows you to choose the exact temperature of your home. There’s no question that air conditioning is extremely effective; this effectiveness, however, does come at a cost. Initial installation fees can be quite steep, depending on how many rooms you put it in, especially in a two-storey home. There is also the running cost, which can add up significantly over extensive usage.

3. A Cheaper Alternative

cooling down the houseImage: Aris Sánchez

If you’re looking for a way to cool your home but air conditioning is just a little out of your price range, fans are a good alternative. There are many types of fans varying in price, so it is easy to find one that best suits your needs. From cheap standing fans to more expensive ceiling fans, all will provide heat relief for both you and your home.

While summer is a great season, there are times when you just want to relax and be somewhere cool. Thankfully, there are a number of ways for you to transform your home into a heat-free haven. With these three helpful tips, you’re sure to beat the next summer heat.

10 must have items for new mothers

 

must have items for new mothersTwo of my very good friends are pregnant at the moment and expecting their very first children within weeks of each other. And both of them have asked for advice on what they really need to have on hand once the baby comes, rather than what the advertisers of every baby magazine are trying to tell them they need.

I mean seriously, what on earth is a baby wipe warmer and why would anyone that doesn’t live in an igloo need one?

So I’ve put together a list of ten things that I think are essential – but please feel free to add your own too.

Breast feeding pillow

Oh how cute and little the baby will seem when they are a newborn. Oh how light and delicate, how could anyone ever need help holding this little piece of perfection at their breast. Yeah, just wait until they have doubled in size in a couple of months and they want holding at your breasts for about oooh, 12  hours a day. Get yourself a breastfeeding pillow to rest your poor weary arms and hold baby at the right height for the near constant snacking.

Breast feeding pads

I know what you’re thinking, really. What awful nasty things are these? But seriously, your boobs are going to leak. Over everything. At the most inopportune times. Stick a pad (okay, sometimes you might need two) down the front of them and you’ll be less likely to embarrass yourself in Tesco. Just saying.

Pram

You’ll need one of these fellas and you won’t want to scrimp too much on the price either. You’re going to need one that’s comfy for the baby, the right height for you to push (most of them have adjustable handles) and something that is easy to manoeuvre. I have a bit of a thing for Silver Cross prams and the Wayfarer and Surf 2 both look ace – you can weigh up the differences between them both here.

Ideally, get a pram that can lie flat and sit upright: lying flat is good for a new born but being able to sit them upright means you can use it as a buggy later on too. It’s also a good idea to look at what accessories you can get to fit them too like sun parasols and matching change bags.

Baby Carrier

It doesn’t matter if you think baby carriers are for hippies and you’ll never need one (Sam, I’m looking at you), you’ll find in a few months that anything that can take the weight of the baby off your arms and just let you get on and do things because my goodness won’t this child ever let me put them down, will be worth it’s weight in gold. Don’t just get one, get two or three. Seriously. You can visit your local NCT sling library to try a load out and see which fits, how to tie them etc. which is a great idea.

Go for slings that are soft, can be machine washed and that you can fasten baby into without the need for a second pair of hands.

Wipes

Lots and lots of wipes. They are not just for poop you know. They also work on vomit, food, quickly running over the furniture you haven’t dusted for 6 months before the in-laws arrive. And just about anything else you could need wiping up. Get a whole bunch of packets and put one in each room. You’ll be glad you did.

Swaddling blanket

This might seem a bit left field – a bit biblical. But I tell you what, the difference in sleeping in my babies with one of these was amazing. Gently cocooned so that they couldn’t wake themselves up flailing their arms and legs around and terrifying themselves (has anybody mentioned to you yet that babies don’t really understand that they have arms and legs nor what they are for?) they slept so much better. And you’re really going to want them to sleep. Get one.

Nursing bra

Because nothing is more painful (okay, perhaps child birth but you don’t have to do that several times a day) than trying to squeeze a boob that’s swollen and tender with milk out of the top of a normal bra.

Change bag

You are not going to want to squeeze all of the stuff that you need to cart around with you into your very pretty handbags – I broke the zip on a favourite handbag trying to do that.  But that doesn’t mean you have to have some big ugly thing with ducklings on it. There are some gorgeous change bags out these days, some of them that even look like great big handbags, but are wipe clean and have lots of compartments to stop you losing all your stuff. Trust me, the wipe clean bit is going to be important.

Muslin cloths

These weird looking large clothes are going to be one of your best friends if you don’t want vomit on the back of every outfit you wear for the next 12 months. You’ll need some.

Onsies or trousers with feet in

Babies might not entirely understand the concept of legs, but they do know one thing – socks are for pulling off and flinging in the nearest puddle. So are those really cute pram shoes, In fact, keeping their little feet covered up and frostbite free is going to become a full time job. Which is why you need clothing with feet built in. They will save you from having one of those really embarrassing temper tantrums in the middle of the high street where you are convinced someone must have called child line because you just called your baby a rude word.

Anybody else out there got advice on what to buy in preparation for a new baby?

House Move Confusion

It’s official, we are moving house next month! Yikes, cue mad panic, waking in the middle of the night writing lists in my head and trying to scrounge approx 39596 boxes from somewhere to transport all our stuff in – we’ve only been back in the country 3 years, how on earth have we accumulated so much stuff?

It’s as terrifying as it is exciting. Moving a whole house worth of stuff, moving to a brand new area, making new friends, finding an honest garage, a good dentists, a decent hairdresser that isn’t going to talk to me about the weather and holidays as she cuts my hair – gah, what am I doing?

But on the other hand, the house is lovely, we are moving to a gorgeous area (Stamford in Lincolnshire) near my parents with little traffic, lots of lovely outside places to visit and play and the house is on a cul-de-sac which is a great relief with two kids eager to explore the area they live in and play outside.

We’ve decided to rent for now – house buying seemed like too complicated an issue in a brand new area – I think you need to get to know an area first – and to be honest, too much of a confusing issue in general with not having the 20% deposit and the new help-to-buy scheme being so blummin’ confusing. There are two different ones now which I couldn’t get my head around at all until I saw this help to buy information from the Natwest. It helped clear it up in my mind. The main difference seems to be whether you want to buy a new build or not.

help-to-buy-infographic

 

It all looks pretty self explanatory when laid out like that, although I’d still have some questions about the interest rate the government was going to charge after the 5 year period ran out and what happened if I wanted to sell my home before I’d repaid their part of it. But hey, it looks like it might be possible for us to buy a house of our own in the future – which is rather exciting considering I thought that would never be an option given our lack of ability to save up £10 to £20 thousand.

Excitement abound. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some house-move panicking to be getting on with…

It’s all about the romance

images (5)I wandered up the aisle in Tesco a few days ago, coming to a confused stop in front of a shelf of ‘seasonal goods’. The whole rack of shelving was covered in bottles of champagne and teddies clutching love hearts. Why where they all here? What was the purpose of such a vomit inducting display?

I must have stood there for a good 30 seconds, my head tilted to one side, my face screwed up in confusion. What is it all for? Who’s going to buy all these teddy bears? Where the hell are the Creme Eggs?  And then it came to me, the answer slowly rising out of the fog inside my harried brain.

Valentines day!

Of course, the season for sticking a heart on just about anything and calling it romantic.

I’d forgotten all about it.

And some people say I’m not romantic. Pft. Totally remembered. Ahem.

 

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