Don the Elf

Ahh the elf, the marmite of Christmas traditions. This year was our first round of elf on the shelf and I can honestly say we loved it! Squidge’s reactions each morning made it more than worth that bit of extra thought (and desperate Pinterest searches) the night before.

Our elf arrived a little way into December and I think this may have been a blessing as I’m sure we’d have run out of ideas otherwise. He brought with him a letter that explained why he was here and the no touching rule. He also said he needed a name. I was a little apprehensive about letting Squidge loose with the naming as lately every time she makes up names in pretend play they’re completely random and always end in an ‘ee’ sound e.g. Songee. Once mid play “Mummy, I’ll be Foogee and you be Mingee ok?”, erm, maybe not Squidge. We struck lucky as¬†she chose to call the elf¬†Don, phew!

I had read a few posts and watched a few Instagram pages featuring the elf, so I had a few ideas ready to go. I tried to ensure that each place we put him was out of reach to start with until the girls got into the swing of it. I also set up a Pinterest board, which was put to good use when it came time for bed and I suddenly remembered, THE ELF!

Every single morning Squidge couldn’t wait to find Don. She searched carefully, room by room, ‘Don are you in here, you cheeky little elf?”. It was¬†so much fun to be a part of, something I’ll never forget as her parent and something I hope she’ll always remember fondly. I love this age where they believe in everything wholeheartedly. I’m hoping the magic lasts a few more years, though I know the influence other school children can have. It only takes one non-believer to pop that magic bubble, no matter how much you try to keep the magic alive, doubt kills it slowly. I filmed a couple of Squidge’s reactions and added them to Instagram if you’d like to see.

I think one of my favourite elf antics was¬†the drawing on photos – Squidge’s reaction was hilarious! She was delighted and then furious! How could he have drawn her trumping? And she DID NOT want to have a mustache. She made me remove all disliked doodles immediately. The ones she liked were permitted to stay. Poor Don got the cold shoulder for the rest of the day!

The knickers on the tree was a really quick one, perfect for that moment you’re laid in bed and you remember that you’ve forgotten, THE BLOODY ELF! The large jar was also a really good way of letting the girls carry him around with them without breaking any rules. Squidge requested we put him back in after the first day, so we used the kitchen tongs to get him back in there.

I think we did well to stick to the no touching rule and I copied a few others in letting them play with him on Christmas Eve – the excuse being that Santa collects him so he no longer needs his magic to get back to the North Pole. On his final visit he left the girls a stocking each. He also left a letter on Christmas morning.¬†Squidge has requested he visit for her birthday – I’m not sure yet whether he might be too busy making toys with Santa but may send her a little gift?

Christmas Eve goodbye pressie for the girls

All in all, I’m really glad we joined in with all the elf fun. I’ll definitely re-use a few of the antics¬†we had¬†this year but I will have to do extra Pinterest searching¬†and thinking ahead to come up with some new ones. A friend from my old work once got his elf to eat all the chocolate from the kids selection boxes – brilliant, but a little brutal at this age, maybe I’ll save that for a couple of years!

Did you do elf on the shelf this year? What are your favourite elf antics? Which ones got the best reactions?

Lots of love, Cat, Squidge and Boo xxx

Confessions of a (no longer newbie) blogger

Okay, okay you were right. All of those posts I read about the majority of blogs only lasting all of five minutes…. It was almost me. I say almost because here I am, confessing to my absence and vowing to start again with renewed enthusiasm.

The first few weeks of blogging were brilliant, I was on a roll, I couldn’t write the posts fast enough. I didn’t mind having 50 photos of every activity we did clogging up my phone – it’s for the blog, I’ll sort through the ‘good ones’ later. I’d spend the majority of time looking through the pile and deciding this one or that one? Which one showcases this activity best? When all in all they were the same photo, with a slight angle change?!

Then the activities starting to pile up on my ‘To blog about’ mental list. Hubby would sigh, ‘Are you blogging AGAIN?’ – he doesn’t really get this while blogging thing. Every time a famous blogger (any genre) is mentioned on the TV/Radio I have to point out – SEE, they’re bloggers, people read their stuff! I think this only adds to his bewilderment.

The truth is, I love blogging. I genuinely do. Putting together near perfect pictures of the girls and writing about what we do and why gives it an extra dimension of meaning and value. Not that being a stay at/work from home mum needs any added dimensions, it’s a tough role – some days are awesome you rejoice that you don’t have to join the masses in the traffic on their way to work, you play all day, your children learn and master something new, you get out and about. Other days not so much, you’re all still in pjs come 11am and your praying no one drops in on a surprise visit and catches sight of your kitchen?!

I love when people have read one of my posts and takes the time to comment, or better still gives one of the activities a go. I’ve also loved reading a lot of other blogs via the linkys. I’ve made some virtual friends doing this, I’ve found it¬†much easier than talking to real life mums out there.

Now I’ve read a lot of tips on how to make your blog successful, it takes a lot of time, effort and organisation. I’ve never been the most organised person – don’t let the teacher thing fool you, I envy those¬†who can pull this off continually. Effort – I’m willing to put a bucket load of that in. Time – a¬†grey area. Yes, I have the evenings once the girls are in bed for the night but some days you just want to do nothing. Having a schedule doesn’t really help me with this. Hmmm….

So here is my plan. I’m going to aim for just one post a week. ONE. If I get more done at least I’ll feel good about it. I will not take so many photos to scrutinise so closely. It’ll be more of a what you see is what you get. Each post will not have to be as long as my current posts – I think¬†a quick mini post about something simple but effective will be just as valuable to you.

I feel better already!

Apologies to anyone who missed us in our absence (we’re always around on Instagram) and extra kudos to those Mummy and Daddy bloggers out there smashing it. It’s really not as easy as it looks!

Feel free to add your own blogging confessions below. Words of encouragement also welcomed ūüôā

Much love,

Cat, Squidge & Boo

Noticing the changes that Autumn brings

I love the summer, but Autumn is such a beautiful follow up. We decided to head out on an Autumn walk and see what we could¬†notice.¬†It took Squidge a short while to warm up to¬†noticing¬†what was around her on our walk. I may be to blame for this as many times when we are out walking we’re on our way somewhere, so we whizz past all the wonders that nature has offered us. However, with¬†a few yells of “Wow what’s this?” and “Ou what can you see over there?”, she soon got into the swing.

After we’d found a few acorns and added them to our collection bag, Squidge spotted some orange berries. We had a talk about their colour and what/who might eat them. Next she had a go at¬†one of my favourite¬†Autumn activities, crunching through the leaves. The top layer made a lovely crunching sound, but Squidge¬†noticed¬†that the layer underneath was all ‘Soggy and squelchy’. Good job she’d worn her wellies!

Just around the corner from where we live¬†we found a single, magnificent conker tree. The delight of finding those little spiky balls could be seen on Squidge’s face, and I won’t lie even I still find¬†myself getting excited. Possibly the teacher in me, or maybe I’m still just a big kid. We found a few and added them to our collection, along with a variety¬†of different leaves.


Once home we tipped out our wares and put the best of it together with some of our logs. I decided to leave the berries out of the display, just incase Boo found them too tempting whilst unattended.

Squidge recalled where we’d found most¬†of the objects¬†and began to compare what we had,¬†“Look at this leaf Mummy, it’s longer and it’s yellow”, “This conker is the biggest”, “We have lots of leaves but we didn’t find a lot of sticks did we?”

Simply noticing things on a short walk had sparked so much talk already.


Later I added some magnifying lenses, a mini telescope and a prism viewer. This gave Squidge an opportunity to take a closer look and notice¬†things from a different perspective. The lenses we got from the local scrap store, which I’ve raved about to you before. Seriously, have you been yet?


img_6671I had a few ideas in mind to follow up our Autumn walk. After talking to Squidge about the different colours we’d noticed on our walk,¬†I added crayons¬†to¬†the leaves we’d collected with¬†some paper so the girls could have a go at leaf rubbing. This unfortunately wasn’t their idea of fun, I was left colouring all on my own! Oh well, this happens. I didn’t push it and decided to leave the colours and paper out incase they changed their minds or wanted to explore in their own way. Boo was the most eager to do this and revisited the Autumn collection and drew often.

Another activity which I’ve seen on Pinterest in various forms, also linked well to the colours we had noticed. I knew as it was messy they’d both love it and it would make a lovely piece to add to our display. We made an Autumn tree. All you need for this is large paper, paint in various colours and something to stamp with, we used corks (another scrap store find).

Both girls really enjoyed this activity and it is one we’ll definitely do again. I’ve seen a mini version using cotton buds which looks like it’d be great fun to try, a test of perseverance and good fine motor practice. It also inspired the¬†next actovity.

img_6633Our button tree. Now I know not everyone has a huge collection of buttons in their cupboards, but I do, I love buttons. There are other ways you could make this activity yourselves at home, you could try using pom poms, felt or foam shapes, or¬†paper leaves would work as I suggested over on my Instagram. You’ll have to be sensible in your choices if you have a little one who’s still mouthing things.

For the¬†tree itself I drew on the back of a place mat with a felt tip. I love the different texture it offers and it’s a bit more sturdy than paper. I’m planning to reuse the tree with different colours come Springtime. I may also try some of the ideas I suggested above.

Both Squidge and Boo had a go at this one. I wasn’t sure how long they’d persevere with it, but they both spent a good length of time adding buttons. I supervised closely to begin with, but felt it could be left out for them to play with and revisit. The magic¬†moment that came from this activity was when Squidge dragged all the buttons to the bottom and exclaimed “Look all the leaves are falling down off the tree!”. If this had been a glue and stick it activity she may not have had the same chance to explore and play. All our talk about Autumn must be sinking in!

Have you been on a noticing walk? What did you find? What activities did in inspire?

You may have noticed I have mentioned noticing a lot in this post ;). This is one of the learning behaviours of¬†Building Learning Power (BLP). This philosophy is something I worked on with students whilst working in my last school and I believe it to be a very powerful way of helping children to become successful learners. It’s all about how¬†we learn. It’s something I have adopted at home to help my own children engage in learning. I’m hoping to link a few of my posts to BLP, exploring the different behaviours and how these can be developed from an early age.

My first ever blog post…

Hello from Squidge and Boo!

These¬†are the nicknames of my two delightful daughters. Squidge is the¬†3 year old, affectionate, imaginative big sister. Boo is the¬†18 month¬†old, adventurous, happy go lucky little sister. Together they are my world, and I’d like to share a little bit of that with you.

Me? Well I’ve just¬†stepped away from a 10 year teaching career to focus on my own two little people for a while.¬†Play is my passion, it’s what I know and I believe t’s how children learn best. We spend the majority of our days in our Playroom or out in the garden (which we are¬†currently renovating to make it more child friendly).

My aim for this blog is to share some of the activities we get up to. Many of them I have tried before in my teaching role, but I’d say the majority come from Pinterest…Ahh Pinterest, a wondrous place for inspiration and a black hole of time.

Cat x