Posted in Christmas Activites

How to Elf on the Shelf like a Master!

When my son was 4 years old I came across this wonderful Christmas idea where in December an elf arrives at your house to watch your children for the month… I don’t need to fully explain elf on the shelf here… if you are reading this post chances are you are looking for inspiration and thinking why the hell did I start this?!!

I consider myself as an elf master. What gives me that right? Well… I was elf on the shelving much before it became a mainstream thing in the UK. When I started nobody on my Facebook knew what it was. Sure enough though people loved the posts about our elf Alfie causing mayhem in the run up to Christmas. My son was literally bursting with excitement every December morning.

Now I can be a bit of perfectionist with things so no half hearted elf effort was going on in my house! In total I completed 5 years of elf magic – that’s some serious planning! However when my son this year uttered the words I know about Santa my heart broke a little as much for the end of Alfie as it did for this. Out the other side of this I thought I would tell you guys some of my favourite ideas and what I consider the best way to elf on the shelf without loosing your mind!!

My son was Five when I first heard about this so we only started it then (silently breathing a sigh of relief). I know many who are starting at three! That’s seven years planning guys… but I get that you want in and are excited! At three your kid has no idea or concept of time. Do yourself a favour and have him arrive on the 15th – that applies to until they start school and of course then you won’t get away with this as others in the class will be chatting about theirs.

Only move him the first year… make it a game of ‘find the elf’. Don’t over complicate things when at such a young age they can’t fully appreciate your efforts.

Year two… have him move but only do good things. This is where my confusion came in with elf on the shelf… this little dude comes to watch your behaviour and report back to Santa yet the little s*** is causing absolute carnage! Ha ha! Talk about double standards!

Year three onwards (age five) I think then is the time to up your game. Your child is older and will appreciate the naughty behaviour and be shocked by it. But again don’t max out your ideas… save the best ones until a few years in.

Now I know some people have like a full on calendar planned but sometimes life gets in the way and the idea you had for a particular night is no longer practical. So I kept a list of ideas in my phone instead. I did ‘elf’ shopping towards the end of November and picked up any bits I then needed along the way.

Now I will share 30 of my favourite elf ideas I did along the way. I also asked my son which he remembers best and of course it’s the ones where he was extra naughty, ha ha!

1. Think about your elf’s arrival! I think the year we did North Pole breakfast was a favourite.

2. Simple ideas like this with photos are great! Also you could use a white board marker or simply turn pictures upside down.

3. Feeding the ducks… definitely one younger children will like.

3. Did you know elves only drink green elf milk?! Food colouring is obviously your friend here. My son looked for ages to find him this morning!

4. I took too long getting the decorations out so Alfie did it for us creating a right mess! (I must be mad!)

5. Have your elf make breakfast… if you don’t mind cleaning the mess ha ha! My son loved this one!

6. When your elf wants to be on top of the tree and takes the fairy hostage!

7. Elf olympics – bringing snow from the North Pole and check out his knitted scarf!

8. Elves only bath in marshmallows ha ha!

9. I’m sure school loved me this day… I swapped my sons whole lunch for chocolate stuff and marshmallows! When I arrived at school to collect him that day practically the whole class ran at me to tell me about this ha ha!

10. I have hair extensions so I cut the old ones and when I heard my son stirring that morning quickly arranged myself like this. Let me tell you he was shocked!! I think he was scared for Alfie but he also found it hilarious… I threatened to send the elf home! Ha ha!

11. With I’m a celeb always on at this time of year and my son liking to watch it I had to take advantage of this!

12. Curtesy of Halloween stuff stored in the loft, Alfie finds himself in a spin!

13. One for every year – something baking related. This was my sons favourite I think, decorating a gingerbread house. But we also did mince pies, cookies etc.

14. When your elf gets into your make up and draws you a picture! (Old make up used of course!)

15. Could this be the ultimate elf trick? Changing the bed to Christmas bedding whilst they are sleeping!

16. My son adored this one! It took him ages to find him hidden in the Christmas tree!

17. Would only recommend if your going to decorate anyway! However I had the intention but it stayed like this almost a year! Ha ha!

18. Caught by the Lego superhero’s one night!

19. Face painting whilst asleep always raised laughs in the morning!

20. Quite a simple one but one he loved non the less! The sign said ‘I flew your mums car to Lapland last night to show all your toys where I live, we didn’t make it back in time before the magic ran out!’ I also parked the car erratically on the drive/half on the grass!

21. Pick and mix shop… luckily he did listen to Alfie and only took a few to school!

22. Banister sledging on candy canes!

23. When your elf doesn’t make it back in time!

24. Elf washing disaster! (I used bubble bath, made them in the sink and then moved to the floor)

25. When your kids not keen on showering your elf comes to the rescue by filling it with balloons (warning – don’t be deceived this took almost 2 hours and approximately 75 balloons)

26. Shrinking the cookies to elf size! Good for younger ones.

27. When your elf cuts up your mums top in the laundry!

28. Alfie plays Star Wars and bring cinema tickets to the movie! Your elf can do good too if your little one is behaving!

29. The year Alfie took Lex home to see Santa! Look at his face! A surprise trip to Santa is always a winner… we were lucky to be able to do Lapland that year.

30. When you want a night off! Ha ha! Seriously though this one is great of behaviour isn’t good. The getting up rule was not before 6am… he got up at 5am!!

So there we have it… I hope this has inspired you! Our elf Alfie had his own page on Facebook too… I will post the link below if you want to check out what else he did. I’m no longer posting to the page as sadly the magic is over for us but the page is live for ideas. I’m going to follow this post up with another one on the perfect end to elf on the shelf.

Now I’m out the other side do I think it was worth it? Absolutely… yes it’s a commitment but your kids faces each morning… well that’s just priceless! These little elves will make the run up to your Christmas so magical, your kids will love you for it. When my son found out one of the first things he said was ‘oh wow mummy, you did all that? I can’t believe it! Thank you!’ I know he will forever remember our Alfie’s antics with a warm heart and a smile.

Happy elfing guys… remember it doesn’t last forever!

Rachael 🙂 x

Link – https://www.facebook.com/alfieselfantics/

Posted in Winning at Parenting

Redundant Parenting…

I’m having a real hard time with my son growing up (he’s 10 going on 16!) You obviously know that it’s going to happen but you don’t really notice it happening until one day it hits you. Being a single mum I’ve just been so busy trying to juggle everything alone. But when I do stop and think about our journey together tears come to my eyes. For we have had the most fun times. Some would say he’s been spoilt as I mention in a previous post. Yes he has with days out, experiences and holidays. But amongst all the stress and hard work of being a parent I believe these moments are the little rewards. Quality time together making memories.

I couldn’t wait for the summer holidays… I got my diary and pen and set to making lots of plans for us. I joined the National Trust as well for some outdoor time in some beautiful spots close to us. We were going on holiday to Cyprus too which I couldn’t wait for. Amongst this I planned a trip to the zoo, cinema and other things.

When I excitedly produced my diary and shared my plans they were met with face pulling and ‘I don’t want to do that’. Well ‘what do you want to do son?’ ‘I just want to hang out with my mates’ and just like that I was binned… on the occasions I dragged him out I put up with constant asking ‘what time we going back?’ I felt I had lost my little friend. He even told me I should have another baby!!

On holiday he made new friends (which was lovely to see) but in turn I was left a bit bored and alone. It’s funny because there were days when I prayed to read a book in peace for longer than five minutes on a sun-bed! At meal times he often finished before me and raced back to his new friends excitedly leaving me nursing a glass of red alone, ha ha! He did come and find me to sign for whatever he was ordering for him and sometimes his friends at our hotel of course…

I spent a few days getting all emotional reminiscing about days gone by… asking myself where time had gone? As a parent each stage so far has been different and come with its own challenges but I realise now how special those younger years were. I shouldn’t say it but they were my favourite. The years when you are literally their world, everything is new, magical and exciting to them. Probably from age two to maybe five.

So in my emotional state I wrote a poem for my son… really just to try and express my own feelings at a time when I’m feeling rather redundant. I thought I would share it here too as maybe some others can relate?

It’s back to school soon for you son

I will miss our summer fun

Your growing up so fast

It’s plain to see

That you don’t want to hang out with silly old me

I wish for the days when we played in the sand

When you skipped along holding my hand

The hours in the farm and picnic by the swings

These are now by gone things

For at the time I never knew that one day you would feel too grown up for the zoo

Our adventures have changed and my heart is heavy

As I watch you grow and I don’t feel ready

I try to persuade you to do things with me but you would rather have friends over for tea

But now and then I see a glimpse of that boy, the one who used to play with toys

You think I am boring but I’m doing my best

To be your friend still, you put me to the test

We’ll soon be heading into the teenage years

which no doubt will cause me further tears

I will treasure our memories all the way through

For every stage is a blessing with you. So, don’t push me away, your silly old mum

I only want to have some fun

For one day you will realise that really it’s me.. the best friend you will ever have – you’ll see 💞 x

Rachael x

Posted in Winning at Parenting

Harry Potter Potion Class!

When my dance school closes for the summer holidays or any other holidays for that matter… what am I to do with my time?! As much as I love the dance and it is nice to have a break the inner child in me just can’t resist putting on school holiday fun as well. So every time school breaks up I run Legends fun days or summer school and I love it!

Constantly racking my brains for new ways to entertain the children (and myself! ha ha!) I first thought of a Harry Potter potion class whilst lying in bed. I mean as a child myself there was something very satisfying about perfuming making… please tell me you can relate?! This was an activity which consisted of getting water, lots of petals off plants in the garden and stirring them in a bowl, swishing them into the sides and then putting them into jam jars to store. This would create hours of fun trying to create different smells.

So when potion making sprang to mind and was a similar concept I knew this would go down a storm at summer school. A quick google told me actually I wasn’t a genius and indeed other people had done similar before which basically made my job easier. I still thought it worth sharing my tips and experience of the doing it with a big group!

Firstly I realised I needed to collect bottles and jars of different shapes and sizes. Now my intention was to do this myself and ask other people but I kinda forgot and a trip to ikea came to my rescue. In there I managed to get all kinds of potion bottles much to my delight and I only spent around fifteen pounds.

I was ready to create labels when I checked on eBay and saw actually I could just buy those ready done too for a couple of pounds. I also came across a few links to print them yourself but as my printer is not great this was the best option for me. Once they arrived I thought carefully about which bottles to stick them on.

The labels gave little explanations under them so I was careful to put some on jars and others on bottles.

How did I decide what to put in each?! Well I just winged it. But the most important ingredients needed is washing up liquid (I used red as unicorn blood), white vinegar (which I added glitter too) and bicarbonate of soda. These three things react and foam when added together.

I added cut up feathers to one jar, lots of little leaves in one and glitter in another. I put water in all the other jars and added food colouring to change it to different colours.

I gathered a group of five children and started potion class by showing them my potion (that was with the three reactive ingredients I mention above) I did this in a jar so I used less ingredients and it would rise fast, I stood the jar in a bowl to save mess. The children were delighted when it bubbles over.

Then they sat at the table with a mini bowl each (sat in a larger one – again to catch the mess) and were left to mix there own potions. Some had obviously listened as they went straight for the same concoction as me. Some of the younger ones (I have children 3-11 years) relished in pouring in lots of glitter. I had given them all a wooden spoon each to mix their potion as well.

Now this activity was loved by all… a lot hadn’t seen Harry Potter but potion making was exciting none the less. Surprisingly this appealed as much to the older kids as it did to the younger ones. The trickiest part was after each group the bottles and jars needed refilling, table wiping etc and bowls washing and resetting up for the next lot. This was difficult to do quick enough with several children bursting with excitement for their turn!! We had other activities going on along side but none quite as exciting as this! We had to do this for five groups in total. That was a lot of cleaning up! But it was totally worth it… the children loved every second. I would do it again but I did think this would be lovely maybe as part of a smaller party.

Have you ever tried a potion making class? How did it go? I would love to hear!

Rachael 🙂 x

Posted in Holiday Happiness

Why Disney is always a good idea! 

1. Because there is no where else in the world quite so Magical

Disney has an undeniable magic about it. If you’ve never been it’s hard to explain. As soon as you enter the magic kingdom you feel it… this is really the happiest place on earth. Your worries will literally lift off your shoulders. Stroll down Mainsteet USA past the barbers, boutiques, bakery amongst the old cars tooting and horse-drawn carriages. Can you smell the freshly baked cookies? It’s not just coming from the bakery. Imagineers figured out how to pump a potpourri of chocolate chip cookies into the air which put an all-out assault on your sense of smell. Cast yours eyes to the end of the street and there is the iconic Disney castle. It doesn’t matter how many times I see it… every time is just like the first time – simply magical.

2. You can Embrace your Inner Child

I have been to Disney both with my son and without (he was away with dad, I’m not a cruel mother ha ha!) and whilst it can be argued there’s something even more special and magical about seeing your child enjoy it, it’s still fun as an adult too! After all as Walt said ‘adults are only grown up kids anyway’ Whether you’ve got kids with you or not you can still do all the things kids do! Queue for autographs, hug Mickey, wear Disney merchandise, collect pins, ride Dumbo the flying elephant. Nobody cares… it’s not weird, it’s Disney…

3. The Parades are Amazing

Lining up along Main Street USA or by the castle waiting for the parade is all part of the experience. There is a buzz in the air as cast members organise the area for the impending celebration. I like to arrive early and soak up the atmosphere with some popcorn or a hot dog. The parade itself is like a carnival of colour, singing, dancing, stunning Disney themed floats & of course all your favourite characters . I doubt you will be able to leave the park without humming the infectious parade song.

4. Rides aplenty

With four separate lands there are so many rides… it’s hard to pick what to do first! Their really is something for everyone. If you have younger children they may enjoy Fantasyland the most. Peter Pans flight & the teacups being popular choices. A great family choice is Pirates of the Caribbean. For the adults space mountain is not to be missed! But I’m not gonna lie… even without my son in tow I check them all out.

5. Yummy food galore

Everywhere you turn in Disney you can buy something to eat! Ice cream, popcorn, hot dogs, pretzels, Disney’s famous dole whips. Obviously a lot of food is mickey shaped and just how cool is that?! Not into food on the go? Disney does provide some table service pricey options. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle book a table and dine in style. Personally I’ve only checked out Walt’s as I’m more of a ‘don’t want to miss anything kinda gal’ and don’t have time to stop long to eat ha ha! That said I found Walt’s really good and loved the theming with photos of him everywhere. If you want to dine properly lots of options are available so be sure to book well in advance so you don’t miss out. I always leave Disney with my taste buds satisfied but also probably a few pounds heavier ha ha! But ohhh it’s so worth it.

6. You can dine with the Characters

Want to hang out with your favourite characters but avoid the queuing? Book some character dining. I have always been a fan of Mickey and friends but you can also dine with the princesses. The all you can eat buffets provide plenty of choice and whilst you tuck in the characters come round to each table and you can get an autograph, hug and that ever so special photo. Not got kids with you? No problem! I guarantee you wont be the only adults in there just as excited as the kids!

7. Fireworks & shows

Disney is full of shows… on my recent trip to the Paris one I watched the 25th anniversary celebration which was fabulous. But I’ve watched many over the years… Finding Nemo, Fantasmic, Wishes… the list goes on and they are all amazing. For me fireworks are always the pinnacle of my trip. Nobody does fireworks quite like Disney. Throw in the iconic castle back drop and Disney music to set the fireworks too and it really is something special. In recent years they have also added effects where they project images onto the castle and water fountains either side. I don’t want to even try to explain further… just be sure to go so see it… it’s will send tingles down your spine.

8. You can shop till you drop all things Disney

In Disney you can shop till your heart’s content! Disney have merchandise nailed. Often you come off a ride and straight into a store… if your with kids you would be wise to give them a spending limit. Buying Mickey ears or a hat of some description should not be missed! It makes you feel involved and makes for great photos. For little girls being made into a princess is somewhat pricey but they look simply adorable walking round the park with beaming smiles. There are plenty of clothing options too. I love a good Disney t-shirt, sweatshirt or pyjamas. Plush toys, home ware, stationary, key rings, toys, swords, wands, you get the picture… but why would you not want to buy a piece of the magic to remember your trip!

Bonus – You can shop for Christmas decorations all year! 

If your into Disney it’s highly likely your into Christmas and guess what? Disney has a Christmas shop and it’s open all year! With twinkley Christmas lights and tree decorations you should stop by to pick up a Disney themed decoration to remember you trip. Or if your like me and you’ve been several times perhaps you can aim for a fully Disney tree.

9. It Brings Families Together

Disney is a great place to bond with your family. Disney in my eyes is the ultimate family holiday. You will not be bored, there really is something to entertain everyone, even stroppy teenagers. It is non stop and exhausting though if you want to do everything… many come away feeling they need a holiday to recover! But is it worth it? absolutely… it really is the holiday of a lifetime.

10. On a final note if your child does drive you mad some days you can buy beer! 😉 hahaha!

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I am an avid Disney fan… 10 trips over the years to both Paris & Florida and a Disney cruise. Hoping to do California in a few years. This post is based on the main Disney park the Magic Kingdom but there is so much more still. I wrote this post whilst in Paris but casting my mind back to Florida too. Do you think I have missed anything out? What are your favourite things about Disney? X

Posted in relationships

Make time for your Grandparents…

Hey guys,

I set up the blog about 2 months ago. You see I always have so much to say, I am a little miss chatterbox and my friend once referred to me as a social butterfly – I quite like that! My life is chaotic so I thought I know why not write a blog?! something else I can try fit in my  already full days, ha ha! I’m hoping it might be a nice outlet for me and you guys might just enjoy reading it. But then I got like blog phobia… I suddenly had this silly anxiety over writing my first post. All of a sudden it seemed a big deal… So I shut down the page and here I am now 2 months later… today the sun is shinning, I’m off work, I’ve been on holiday last week, the house is tidy, I am refreshed! so here goes….

Like many adults my age (33! eek!) I’m grateful to still have a Grandparent around. My Grandad aka Dada has always been a big presence in my life. He is the kind of Grandad every kid deserves. I have many happy memories from being younger and playing at my grandparents house, sleepovers occasionally, holidays and lots of days out with them. Unfortunately we lost my Grandma 5 years ago and devastation hit my family like it would any. But its not my Grandma I want to talk about today I will save that for another post. 

See since I got older and my busy adult life has consumed me I have sadly seen less of my Dada. Don’t get me wrong I still see him but not as much as I would like ideally. Today I was child free and stress free! So I called him up for a lunch date just me and him. He was made up to say the least. Knowing he likes me dressed girly I put a summery dress and sandals on. When I arrived to pick him up he instantly commented on my dress, but I was touched to see he was wearing a shirt and tie for the occasion.

I drove him to a nice local pub with benches out the front as the sun was shinning for once. It was lovely to just sit outside with him watching the world go by. He told me how when he was younger that you would be lucky to see one car go past this location let alone several per minute. When he tells me how things have changed I am still fascinated to hear. He reminisces about how things were but marvel’s at the wonder of the world today. He is 88 years old – hes seen a lot of changes in his lifetime. I watched as he squinted his wrinkly eyes in the sun searching back for his memories of times gone by.

He told me about Burtonwood airbase that was once in our town… full of Americans that my Grandma and all the young girls were in awe of. He said they thought of them like movie stars! the airbase has obviously long since gone. He told me many stories that he’s told me a million times… with a cheeky glint in his eye and a chuckle in his voice. I sit there patiently listening and nodding although I know where the story is going. I ask questions and smile at his memories. It makes me sad that he’s lost my grandma and all his friends slowly , I cant comprehend what that must be like. I know he loves sharing these memories still …that’s what makes him happy… remembering the good times. I like listening… I like that he tells me them again and again probably unknowingly that he’s told me before. Old age will come to us all if we are lucky enough. One day I hope my grandchildren (If I’m lucky enough to have them) will be patient with me and listen to my stories again and again… I hope they will let me relive my favourite memories – just like I let my Dada.

We spent almost 3 hours sitting in the sunshine eating, drinking and chatting. Like a true gentleman should he paid.. no matter how much I protest he never lets me pay still. I drove him home to his house that he and my Grandma shared pretty much all their lives. I helped him in and made sure he took his tablets. I still love his house… it smells a bit old, not in a bad way but just like it should. The dated carpets and wallpaper are endearing. He has photos up everywhere of family, especially of us grandchildren. Nothing much has changed since we were kids. But I like this… this is his house full of his lifetime of memories and some of mine. He still watches the traffic for me as I move away from his house and turn the car round… just like he did when I was seventeen. As I drive off he makes my heart smile shuffling back to his door waving.

I have had a wonderful afternoon today and I know I’ve brought a little more fulfilment to his otherwise quiet week, this makes me happy. You should always try and make time for your Grandparents… you never know when it may be the last time you listen to their stories… cherish them. I’m grateful to still have my Dada here to spend time with… hes a legend 🙂

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Me and my Grandad… he’s a legend!