Only One Week to Go!

 Just a week from today, Pip will be starting school. I’m quite pleased that her first day is a Friday. It means that it’ll be one day then a weekend, hopefully easing her nicely into the school experience. She’s been through nursery so I’m hoping this won’t be much of a shock to the system and she’ll settle in quickly. 

We are thoroughly prepared for this. I’ve sorted all of the paperwork – so many forms! Her uniform is all ready to go. I’ve planned out what she’ll be having for her packed lunches. Husband has booked the day off so that we can both be there for this big event. I’ve planned out a vague schedule for the morning so that when the time comes I’m not running around like a headless chicken. 

I’ve tried, over the past few months, to get Pip herself ready for school. Part of this has been teaching her some basic reading, writing and number skills. But there are lots of other skills children need to have before they can start school. They need to be confident in socialising with other children, including taking turns, sharing and dealing with any bullying or other negative behaviour from other children. They need to understand that they should listen to their teacher and follow their instructions. They need practical skills like being able to use the toilet, including washing their hands properly afterwards and being able to get their uniform, PE kit, coat and shoes off and on again. I think we’ve covered all of this with Pip. We’ve also had some lovely conversations about how brilliant school is and what a good time she’s going to have learning and meeting new people. I’m confident that she’s going to settle into her new school life well and I think she is too. We’re all pretty excited about it now! 

Is your child starting school for the first time soon? How did you prepare them for this big event? 

Words from the Other Half: Change of Direction

Another guest post from Husband, all about his own university studies. 

As an OU Student, I am about to begin my 5th, and penultimate year.  First I’ll explain the process a little.

To get the Honours Degree with the Open University, you need to get 360 credit points , obtained by completing (most usually) 6 courses which grant 60 points each.  There are three difficulty levels, One , Two and unsurprisingly Three.

I have completed two at level One, one at level Two and one at level Three, which means I have a Level Two course and a Level Three Course to go.

So far I have focused heavily on History, which makes sense as I was trying to obtain a History BA (Hons).  Along the way I have had a taste of philosophy during the course and this has inspired a change in direction.  I have become aware that I can change my study plan to make the last two years focus on Philosophy, thus granting a slightly more ambiguous Humanities BA (Hons).

Oh the Humanities!

So my next course is A222 , Exploring Philosophy. The Module covers six different topics, considering Philosophy both from a historical and modern perspective. The topics are ‘The Self’, ‘Philosophy and Religion’,’Ethics’, ‘Knowledge’, ‘Mind’ and ‘Political Philosophy’.

While I try not to get too ahead of myself, the two topics I am most looking forward to are Ethics and Political Philosophy.

As I have had a keen interest in philosophy even before university, I can’t really say I am complete beginner.  An interest was cultivated when I was at school and a lot of private reading has informed the subject. I’m familiar with some famous thinkers already; Descartes, Plato and Nietzsche (will I ever stop having to look up the spelling of that name?) and the vastly different views.

One of the things that I have considered is that as the subject is so designed to inform our moral, theological and logical thinking, will I change as result of this next two years of study?  Will I make different choices, inspired by different schools of philosophical thought? In a sense this is a worrying prospect, its not a nice thing to suddenly pull into focus the ideas and beliefs you have had all your life and admit that you now think you were wrong all along, but at the same time I welcome it as the idea of taking views form the total sum of human philosophy, rather than from just my own relatively local point of view, will perhaps give me a better understanding of a world I don’t fully understand.

I suppose I’ll wait and see. 

Do you have a preferred philosopher? Perhaps you can share in the comments below? 

Thanks for reading.

Family Day Out: Heath Park Model Railway

on Sunday we went along to an open day at the Heath Park Model Railway, run by the Cardiff Model Engineering Society. I’ve been looking at going to this for a few months now but between the open day dates being quite limited and our own busy schedule, this was our first opportunity to give it a try. I’m so glad we did, it was a brilliant day out. 

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We travelled to Heath Park on foot. We’re very lucky to live only a half an hour walk away from it but if you want to visit, there are bus stops and a train station fairly nearby. 

On arriving, we paid £1.50 each for entry. The entrance building contained a miniature railway to look at, although we found that the lighting was a little low for good photographs. Pip, amongst lots of other children there, enjoyed watching the trains go round the track though. 

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Outside, there were several ride on smaller trains, including steam trains. I went on with Pip for a ride on one of these (cost £1.50 each), although I must admit myself to be slightly disappointed that we didn’t go on a steam train but one of the electric trains. We could have waited for a steam train but I didn’t fancy forcing a four year to queue for longer than really necessary! It was fun, regardless. 

Trains collage

 

 

The smaller ride-on trains run on a track around the outside of the site, while in the centre there is a hot food stand or a hut where you can buy other cold snacks, drinks and a variety of toys. In the centre of the site is the ‘Garden Railway’ which is another miniature railway. We spotted some rather surprising passengers on the platform there! 

 

Garden Railway collage

A treasure hunt was organised for the children for £1.50 entry price, which Pip took part in. Clipboard in hand, she had to find various clues around the site and then got a prize in the form of an envelope containing chocolate coins, postcards and a maze game. 

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There is a also a large tram track running at one side of the sight. Again, this was £1.50 each. We all had a ride on this together.

To round off the day, we let Pip have a run around in the play area of the park, which we’ve never visited before but she was very impressed with. 

This was an all-round great family day out and quite economical too. I hope we’ll be going to the next open day! 

A Week of Packed Lunches

Today I’m in a planning mood. The kind of mood where I want to make lists and schedules. So to take advantage of this, I’m going to make a plan for Pip’s first week of school packed lunches. I really don’t want her to have the boring lunches I used to have – soggy sandwiches and whatever happened to be in the cupboard thrown in. 

Being completely new to making a child’s school packed lunches, I decided to do a little research, which took me to the NHS choices website, which has some handy guidelines….

A balanced packed lunch should contain:

  • Starchy foods. These are bread, rice, potatoes and pasta, and others.
  • Protein foods. These are meat, fish, eggs, beans and others.
  • A dairy item. This could be cheese or yoghurt.
  • Vegetables or salad, and a portion of fruit

I also had a few rules of my own.

  • No boring sandwiches or anything that’s going to be soggy or otherwise unappealing by lunchtime
  • Never the same thing two days in a row
  • As much homemade stuff as possible, both to save money and to get Pip involved in making her own food
  • Include foods that she’s going to really enjoy eating

With this in mind, I’ve come up with five lunchbox ideas for Pip’s first week. 

Day One

Bagel filled with banana and peanut butter*

Cherry tomatoes

Cheese cubes (I’m thinking cheddar & red Leicester, to make it look colourful)

 

Day Two

Homemade cheese & chive muffins

Grapes

Apple crisps

 

Day Three

Pitta Bread cut into strips with hummus

Carrot and red pepper sticks

Cheese cubes

 

Day Four

Bagel with soft cheese and cucumber

Cherry Tomatoes

Grapes

 

Day Five

Pasta salad with cherry tomatoes, baby spinach, feta cheese and lemon mayo

Apple crisps

Hardboiled egg

 

What do you put in your child’s lunchbox? I’m always open to new ideas! 

*I have heard that some schools have rules against foods that contain peanuts but I’ve been given no such rules so I’m hoping that Pip’s don’t. 

10 reasons why Autumn is better than Summer

The weather has become a bit chillier, there are more clouds in the sky and soon our holiday time will be over. Summer is ending and autumn is approaching. But rather than feeling a bit glum about this, I’ve decided to feel happy about it. So here are my ten reasons why autumn is better than summer: 

1. Beautiful autumn colours in the park. The bright and beautiful reds, oranges and yellows. 

2. Autumnal walks. Kicking up leaves and collecting conkers and then filling a glass vase with them to make a lovely autumn decoration. 

3. Harvest time! Apples, blackberries and plums are all ripe and delicious. Pies and crumbles galore! 

4. Pies, stews and roast dinners all become possible in the colder weather without my flat turning into a meat-scented sauna. 

5. In the heat, you can only remove so many layers without breaking a few decency laws. Whereas in autumn, you can just keeping adding layers until you feel warm and cosy. 

6. Hot chocolate with marshmallows. It just feels wrong to have this in summer. 

7. Removing the 15 minute suncream application from our ‘Getting Ready to Leave the House, even just to pop to the shops’ routine. No, it shouldn’t take that long but with a wriggling four year old, it does. Every time. And yes, it does take time to get coats and hats and scarves on but firstly, doing so doesn’t get your hands all covered in oily suncream and secondly, said four year old can do this bit herself. 

8. I love hats and scarves and big cosy jumpers. I was bought a very cosy black knitted poncho a couple of years ago and I can’t wait to get it out of the wardrobe again! See also my lovely ankle boots. 

9. Getting excited about…you know. That special time of year we all get excited about but we’re not meant to mention until at least October. That. 

10. Cuddling. In summer, this lasts a few minutes before it becomes uncomfortably warm and, in worst case scenario, a bit sweaty. In autumn, cuddling is just practical for keeping pleasantly warm and cosy. Whether it be with my little girl or with my Husband, I do love a cuddle. 

Autumn park

So there you have it! Autumn is actually better than summer. So throw those flip flops and sun hats back in the wardrobe and embrace this brilliant season in all of it’s cosy, beautiful awesomeness! 

 

New uni course: A230 Reading & Studying Literature

Summer holidays are still in full swing and we’re having lots of fun with our last few weeks before school starts for Pip. It’s going to be a big change in her life and she’s so excited. But she’s not the only one that’s starting a new school year. 

My next uni course might not be starting until October but my course materials are due to arrive in early September and, given that I’m also going to be looking for work as soon as Pip’s in school full time, I want to get a head start! 

This course is going to be very different from my last two, which were both creative writing with very little academic style writing involved. This year I’ll be taking the Open University module A230, Reading and Studying Literature. A large part of why I picked it was because the materials set list included a few titles that I’ve sort of been meaning to read for years but never quite got around to it – Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle and Othello by Shakespeare – plus one of my favourite books that I have read – Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – and a film that Husband has been telling me I should watch for ages, Metropolis. 

On Monday, or what we dubbed ‘Mail Day’ due to a number of things being delivered that day, I received amongst other things, a nice big stack of books. Here’s a full list: 

Oroonoko by Aphra Behn

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel 

Dubliners by James Joyce

The Emigrants by W.G Sebald

The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon

Candide, or Optimism by Voltaire

Othello by William Shakespeare

I’ve still got one more due to arrive, The Duchess of Malfi by J. Webster

As I said, I’ve already read Wuthering Heights. I’m currently reading Sign of Four. On joining the course Facebook group, I am just a tad concerned that many of my fellow students seem to have made much more headway on the reading than I have. Indeed some of them have already completed the entire list! But with just over six weeks until the course actually begins, I think I’ll be alright. I haven’t really analysed a book academically since secondary school and this is at a much higher level so that’s a bit daunting too but also an appealing challenge. 

I am really excited to be starting another year of university studies. This is my fifth course and once it’s completed, I’ll only need to take one more to get my degree! It’s still a way off yet and there’s lots of work to be done but definitely something to look forward to! 

 

My Geek Box: August – Quest Box

Another month and another Geek Box! The theme this month was ‘Quest’ so I took a few guesses at what might be included – perhaps World of Warcraft, Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit. I was correct on two counts, at least. 

Here are the lovely bits and bobs we got in this month’s box: 

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Rivendell Dogs T-shirt. Since me and Husband agreed to take turns with having the t-shirt that is always included in the box, this month’s is mine. I was thrilled when I saw it, being a fan of both Lord of the Rings and Reservoir Dogs. This has instantly become my favourite t-shirt and it’s rather comfy too! 

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Game of Thrones Bookmark. Given that I’ve just received a lovely stack of set books for my upcoming uni literature course, this will come in very handy! I love the wolf design on it. 

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Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. I guess this is a nice novelty item but I must warn you, the ones with bad flavours genuinely taste terrible! I got rotten egg and dirt and they were genuinely revolting. On the other hand, cherry, candy floss and, rather surprisingly, grass were all rather tasty. 

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Collection of Hobbit postcards. I really like these, although we’ve not yet decided what we’re actually going to do with them. The Middle Earth map might get displayed somewhere on our shelf, I think. 

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Drogo Pop Vinyl Figure. We don’t actually watch Game of Thrones but this little guy is cool and cute in equal measure so he’ll now live on our shelf.

The theme for next month’s box is Apocalypse. We’re already taking guesses at what might be inside it! 

If you fancy subscribing to My Geek Box, you can do so here