11 long days! (Feel free to pause for a moment to take in the gravity of the situation.)
It was a stressful time! The children seemed nonplushed by the whole thing until they realised something… no internet means no Netflix. Suddenly they shared my distress. They were 11 tense days but thankfully we sorted the problem and we are all back in the land of WiFi.
The children jumped straight back in to some of their favourites…
The youngest member of the family kept threatening to come down with the latest bug that is going around his school so every day he came home really tired, and I expected he was under the weather, I allowed his a little bit of Netflix until his siblings came home. He just loves Bernard and when he is not chuckling along to his antics he is learning about science and nature from Wild Kratts (two zoologists travelling the world saving animals from all kinds of perils)…. I wonder where he got those kind of interests from?
All three children have been delighted with two recent Netflix releases… All Hail King Julien and Puss in Boots. It is great to get so many options that they all agree on considering the age range is from five to 11.
We had a busy midterm break (even though the children only had two days off school), there were very active days especially as their cousins came to stay. Their days were filled with adventures, real and imagined, all embraced with equal commitment. Netflix came in handy for some chilling out at the end of such busy days. They felt like they had their own home cinema as they kicked back with some popcorn and enjoyed such movies as Arthur and the Invisibles andSpy kids. They also got to re watch an old favourite Lemony Snicket: Unfortunate Events (a movie the whole family enjoyed).
The adults were not completely left out either, we got our Netflix fix too, getting hooked into a series called Heroes. We had to pause our viewing for the whole internet less period (did I mention how stressful that was?) and were really happy to resume when all was fixed. To add to the delight we had to buy a new tv (the old one we had was verging on antique and died around the same time as the internet). Every cloud has a silver lining though and we managed to get a great deal on a new SMART TV that streams Netflix directly now (no more fiddling with wii remotes).
Speaking of life without the internet (OK, I promise, I won’t mention it again!) there is a new comedy series launching on Netflix on 6th March… Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt;
After living in a cult for fifteen years, Kimmy (Ellie Kemper – The Office/Bridesmaids) decides to reclaim her life and start over in New York City. Armed with just a backpack, light-up sneakers, and a couple of way-past-due library books, she’s ready to take on a world she didn’t even think existed anymore. Wide-eyed but resilient, nothing is going to stand in her way. She quickly finds a new job (working for 30 Rock’s Jane Krakowski), a new roommate (Tituss Burgess – 30 Rock), and a new beginning.
I have to admit that I find comedy great for unwinding after a long day. I am really looking forward to this series for a belly full of laughs to undo any stresses of the day that has gone by. And of course, laughter is the best medicine, there is even plenty of science to prove it!
Disclosure: As a member of the Netflix Stream Team I have received a years subscription to Netflix, free of charge, and an Apple TV, for streaming purposes. As part of Netflix Stream Team I will be posting monthly updates on what we are watching and what is on offer. All opinions expressed will be my own.
Nine years ago today my second child was born. It was a stormy night as I walked the corridors of the hospital, in the early stages of what was to be a quick labour, with the doors flinging open from the force of the wind outside. Then all went calm as labour kicked in and a short while later I was holding my son in my arms.
And still he brings calm into our lives when the wild winds blow.
He was due a week earlier, but, as he now likes to tell people, he got a bit too comfortable and stayed in a while longer.
Early to move, early to talk, he seemed keen to catch up to his sister. He learned how to walk at an early age, but realising he could move more quickly from a crawl, he preferred to move on all fours. Until he mastered the art of running that is, and then he didn’t stop.
We bought him his first proper shoes on his first birthday. He must have liked them for he ran the entire length of the town with both his parents struggling to keep up. This small little blonde head bobbing up and down, parting the sea of people on the street, each one turning with bewilderment and then amusement at the happy little runner.
To his big sister he quickly became devoted companion and defender. At the tender age of two I remember he stormed across a playground to confront an eleven year old boy he thought (incorrectly) had spoken to her out of turn. He followed her blindly and was the willing side kick to some of her hair brained adventures, that may or may not have included a spot of creative face painting with pink emulsion paint and a black indelible marker. Not only did the poor boy sit quietly for the “body art” he then sat quietly while his irate mother plopped him in a bath and scrubbed his little face until it was more pink that the paint she was removing.
From an early age he had a strong sense of justice, of right and wrong. Before he was even two we would sometimes find him sitting on the “time out stool”, quietly waiting. When we asked why he was there he would openly admit to some small crime he had committed, and acting as self appointed judge and jury, he would dish out his own punishment.
When he was three the family unit as he knew it changed quite dramatically. He had always asked for a baby and finally he got one. When the moment arrived for him to meet his baby brother I had it all prepared. No longer a rookie, I knew just what to do; I had baby placed in the crib and moved a little away from mammy so that when he and his sister came into the room I was completely available for a cuddle. Things never go as expected though… the door was opened and a very assertive little boy walked in, scanning the room in earnest. When I opened my arms and beckoned he stood firm with the simple reply of “where is the baby?”. In shock I responded with a waving gesture towards the crib. He walked over, looked in, and then wrapped his little arms around the swaddled bundle ready to lift him, until we intervened. It was instant love and he wanted to take his little brother home.
Five years later and the love and the bond are as strong as ever. His brother cannot shed a single tear before he is by his side, comforting, protecting, defending. He has never once complained about the broken lego or the shared bedroom.
He always amazed me with the facts he comes out with, at this stage I have stopped looking them up to see if they are right, as they always are. He seems to remember every scene of every film he ever saw, and can usually quote a lot of it back, word for word. He is a lover of lego but is always in a hurry to build whatever is in the box, so he can take it apart and create his own version.
He has a wonderful sense of humour and an impeccable comic timing. He has a great memory for jokes. It is no surprise that his favourite animal is a monkey as he obviously feels a kindred spirit for their mischievous ways.
He is part calm, part exuberance, a wise old soul and a free young spirit. He is full of charm in his own quiet way. Nine years and sometimes it is he who creates the storm, but one quick flash of that smile and all is calm again.
We went to the Carlow Walking festival! That was two weeks ago but it is still a hot topic of conversation. The youngest got very upset last weekend when he realised it was not a weekly event. None of us had ever been to Carlow but now we are complete converts. So what was it that we loved about it? Read on…
THE JOURNEY AND ARRIVAL
Admittedly it was a long journey from Galway, about three and a half hours but thanks to google maps and my flukish wonderful navigation skills, we made it door to door with no errors. The first half of the journey was motorway which is nice for covering ground and the second half was cross country, which is good for the eyes and the soul! Despite the torrential rain as we arrived in Carlow, it already showed lots of potential. Even under such conditions it impressed us with the beautiful scenery, lush green landscape, beautiful deciduous trees splendid in their Autumn robes and the evidence of a previous era of gentry farming in the many high granite walls lining the fields.
Another thing that struck me was the number of small public parks dotted throughout the towns and villages. Many with nice signs outlining what wildlife could be seen in the area. This is something that I feel very passionate about; it would be lovely to see a lot more of this around the country.
THE HOTEL AND ACCOMMODATION
Exactly three and a half hours after we set out, we arrived at our destination…. Mount Wolsley Hotel, Spa and Golf Resort in Tullow. Before we had even checked in the children were asking about WHEN they were going to the swimming pool! Our ‘home’ for the weekend was a three bedroomed, self catering holiday lodge on the grounds of the resort. We are big fans of self catering for family trips but I have to admit we have had our fair share of disappointing properties so I was quite nervous when I turned the key and opened the door. I need not have worried…. I was met with a warm, spacious and beautiful interior. Hands down this is the best self catering accommodation we have ever experienced in Ireland.
Once we had settled in we met with Dee Sewell of Green & Vibrant who provided us with all the details of our action packed weekend ahead. Dee had worked carefully with Carlow Tourism, the organisers of the Walk Carlow Festival and provided us with all maps, routes and information … we could tell we were in good hands and that all angles had been covered. All that was left for us was to turn up and enjoy what the Walk Carlow weekend had to offer.
All good adventurers need to ensure they are well fuelled so we headed up to the main hotel for dinner. As a parent I was conscious of dining out with children in tow but straight away I was put at ease by the friendly and welcoming staff. We chose to eat early and there were other families doing likewise in the large dinning room.
I was impressed with the children’s menu, always a good marker of the quality of the establishment, in my opinion. As well as the usual “nuggets and chips” option there was a wide and varied menu. My children were delighted to see “calamari” as an option on their menu and two of them chose it and liked it. The soup was delicious and home made, there were yoghurt and fruit options and the children’s burger was again of the “home made” variety. Plenty of choice for all the family and after two courses we were almost too full for dessert… but there is always room for ice cream, right?
THE ADVENTURE BEGINS
After a good night’s sleep we headed back up to the hotel for breakfast. I just love self catering accommodation when you don’t have to self cater! The breakfast spread was AMAZING! There was everything you could think of…. cereals, fruit, pancakes, pastries, full Irish breakfast and more. I was impressed to see a “free from” section in the breakfast buffet too.
With full tummies and a packed lunch from the hotel we headed off for Borris and for the first stage of our adventure… a canoeing safari along the river Barrow.
CANOEING SAFARI ON THE RIVER BARROW
There were 12 of us in total on the safari with Go with the Flow river adventures. We were a mixed bunch with regard to experience and age from the fairly young (three years old) to the slightly older (there was a very capable and adventurous Granny among us). Kevin, our guide was a very pleasant, chatty man who put us all at easy from the start. There were two to three people per canoe, they were the larger, open Canadian canoes that are very safe and stable… perfect for the complete beginner to the more advanced.
The sun shone bright and warm as we all kitted out in the wetsuits, helmets and buoyancy aids provided, and before we knew it we were travelling up the river. It is one of those adventures where you can just take off and learn on the go, even with children involved (although we may have found ourselves going round in circles a few times).
The weather and conditions were ideal for us and the scenery was truly beautiful. There was a comfortable camaraderie established as we all made our way down the river, taking in our surroundings.
One of the first “obstacles” of the trip was to pass through a lock. It appeared to me that the adults were even more excited about this than the children, many of us exclaiming “I always wanted to do this” and marvelling among ourselves at the efficiency of such an old system.
I was a little surprised when Kevin told us we would be going down some weirs and rapids, to add a little adrenaline injection to the whole experience. We got a quick talk on what to do and the reassurance from Kevin that if we capsized he would be straight over to help us… as soon as he had taken a photo of our demise. It certainly added to the excitement for us all and luckily we didn’t give him any opportunities to have a little laugh at our expense.
Travelling along the Barrow was a great way to learn more about the county. We got to see and hear about some local flora and fauna but we also got a sense of the local history. Kevin told us a very engaging story of a local legend that earned his name of The incredible Arthur Mc Murrough Kavanagh who, despite having no arms and legs, travelled most of the known world.
The whole experience was amazing for every one of us. It is lovely when you hit on something that keeps the whole family entertained and even better when it is outdoors and among nature. Our last canoeing trip as a family was along the Dordogne in France, but much to our amazement the Barrow topped it and had lots more to offer. We would definitely recommend this as a “must do” adventure. You can check out the various activities offered by Go with the Flow, from family canoeing safaris to youth activities, team building excursions and lots more. They post lots of adventure photos on their Face Book page too.
I always think that it is the people that can make or break an activity and that is why I really feel that the staff of Go with the Flow require a special mention. Kevin and Mike were excellent. Mike was the quiet, calm type that kept to the back and helped us out when we got a little left behind. Kevin was the main guide on the day and really had that special quality among people. From the young to the not so young, he kept us all relaxed and smiling.
Disclaimer: I was invited on the blog tour of the Carlow Walking Festival by Green and Vibrant. I was provided with accommodation and activities for the purposes of review but received no other compensation for this post. All views expressed are my own, or that of my family.
We had the Best Summer Ever this year and finished it off with a trip to visit my sister and her three lovely children in South Hampton this week. We filled the sunny few days with trips to many of the lovely parks and greens, which meant a fair few picnics.
Here are a few photos to show how we spent the last few days of our Summer. As the lovely Luara over at the Dairy Free Kids blog is running a blog linky looking at what is inside everyone’s picnic baskets, I thought I might include this post too. If you want to see what people have been picnicking on this summer just click the linky image (picnic basket) at the end of this post to check out all the great posts.
As you can see, we kept it simple but fun. Remember to check out the linky to see what other’s have been putting in their picnic baskets this summer..
It is holiday time in the Science Wows house today. Hopefully, while you are reading this I will be jetting off to somewhere nice and sunny for a bit of R&R and to soak up those rays (Sunscreen packed of course!)
The first half of our summer holidays has gone really well so far, despite a bumpy start. The four year old assumed the holidays from school also meant we were about to hop on a plane to foreign lands and was quite put out when that didn’t turn out to be the case.
He got over it soon enough, but there is no denying his enthusiasm. He chose his suitcase months ago and has had it stashed under his bed ever since. When the “week to the holiday” whistle was blown he decided it was time to pack. His brother joined in too and it was the best morning long activity of the whole summer so far. The only issue I would have with it is the content of their suitcases.
Here is an example of what they packed…
Chess set X 1 (this has now been moved to the hand luggage!)
Moshi monsters X 1,000 (I may be rounding it off but that gives a pretty good estimate)
Loom bands X 1,000 (and NO that is not me exaggerating again!)
Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs (this alone has probably used up the entire Ryan air luggage weight quota – but apparently it is an essential for travelling to anywhere foreign)
Spot anything missing from their suitcases? That’s right… clothes! Who needs them, apparently!
The first one is obvious… don’t let your children pack their own suitcases 😉
Keep it light and simple! I used to think I had the hand luggage sorted, covering every option, every food group, every recreational preference. All I really had was over packed bags and a sore shoulder from all the weight. Have you ever tried to retrieve a scattered set of colouring pencils from under the seat of a plane?
This leads nicely on to the next tip, once your children are old enough GET THEM TO CARRY THEIR OWN HAND LUGGAGE! They will quickly ditch all those extras!
Travel days are not the time to worry about their five a day! I used to pack all the healthy food stuff but it really just means you are trying to cover up the dried fruit and bread sticks mashed into the aeroplane seat! Once they are not filling on e-numbers and lots of fizzy drinks then its a good day to chill and ignore regular meal times and nutritional content.
Don’t underestimate how long a child can take in the toilet when you really need to get moving. Try to get this business out of the way WELL before the flight even boards! I am sure there must be a mathematical formula out there proving how the speed of the child’s bodily functions is inversely proportional to the amount of time you have to dash to the boarding gate and smile sweetly at the irate air staff who have called you by name because you are THAT late!
When on the plane REMEMBER TO BREATH! The more relaxed you are, the calmer your children will be… and the less likely they will be to spend the entire journey kicking the seat in front of them!
If you are travelling with a baby… your entire hand luggage should only consist of spare changes of clothing. Bring three times more nappies than you can ever imagine needing. You would not believe what those altitudes can do to a child’s digestive system but you are likely to find out as well as learning how hard it is to change a baby in an aeroplane toilet! And yes, I am definitely speaking from experience on this one!
Once the flight is over NEVER ask another parent how they got on! They may be in denial and make you feel even worse than you already do!
Finally, once you have all the luggage collected and children corralled you can start to smile again and relax. Unless you have yet to collect the rental car; In that case we go right back to …REMEMBER TO BREATH!