Last Saturday morning we had the wonderful opportunity to go along to the SEALIFE sanctuary in Scarborough for the grand unveiling of their latest resident “Babs the Octopus”. It was a really lovely morning filled with exciting (and even comical) creatures at every turn, with of course the new mesmerising octopus-themed enclosure being a highlight!

Octopus Hideout provides a real insight into the lives and unique habits of these incredible cephalopods and houses the jet-propelled, gas-fuelled prehistoric nautilus; a primitive octopus in a spiral shell that uses its own bodily gases to propel itself around. The cuttlefish – a captivating type of mollusc which can change colour to give itself the perfect camouflage against any background, and the teeny tiny Atlantic Long Arm Octopus, a small sea creature with arms longer than its 90 millimetre body!

In Pride of place is of course Babs! She is one of the biggest octopus species in the world, “the Giant Pacific Octopus” and can weigh up to 50 kilograms and can grow to a huge five metres in length! In addition to its jaw-dropping size, these invertebrates are unbelievably smart; solving mazes, opening jars and disguising themselves along the way by matching their skin to the colour, pattern and texture of the environment surrounding them.

Whilst there we also experienced Penguin Island, which was filled with lots of laughs, performances and cheekiness from the Humboldt penguins. Saw and heard of the work they do in rehabilitation for local seal pups. And enjoyed everything from Jellyfish to seahorses, sharks, rays and the gorgeous Longhead turtle “Antiopi”.

Sealife in Scarborough, to me is a step ahead of your average Aquarium for tourists and this is what gives it a special feel when you visit. Of course it has the wow factor with sharks over head, intriguing penguins and now an octopus. But it is also a home to injured creatures (like Aniopi with brain damage), and a rescue centre for sea creatures great and small. Having grown up just down the road in Bridlington, I have great memories of my visits to Scarborough Sealife in my younger days and I loved taking the kids there last weekend to see what had changed and what great work they continue to do.

I knew they would love it, we all did, especially Megs and her passion for animals, and we were not only impressed with the new Octopus exhibit, but loved everything from the Dory fish to the seals, to jelly fish and Penguins. They were in awe at the “seal hospital” and had many questions not only about each tank and exhibit, but also about the poorly seals and was being done to help them!

It is such a special place, being Yorkshires only seal hospital and a visit there this year will not only guarantee the expected Sealife adventure but will go to help this great cause and give you some understanding on how much is done to help the creatures of our seas! Its just a really great day out together and I hope you can be wowed and touched like we were!

For further information or to pre-book tickets online before your visit please go to www2.visitsealife.com/scarborough. Reduced prices are available for tickets booked in advance.

*Thank you to Scarborough Sealife for inviting us along to their Press morning to experience all of the wonders for Free in return for a write up! All opinions are my own. 

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Yesterday we rounded off our half term break with a Nintendo inspired visit to Bradford Media Museum, to be partakers of the “YO-KAI WATCH” experience they currently have there.

Whilst we are obviously behind the times and had never heard of the mysterious world of Nintendo’s YO-KAI WATCH, we were still very excited to go and check it out after receiving an invitation from them. The media museum has always been a favourite of ours, and enjoyed all the more so now the kids are older and can better appreciate and explore everything it has to offer. It is always exciting to go to places we love and see what’s new, and on this occasion it didn’t matter that we new nothing of this latest craze because we knew it would be just as great as other events we have attended there and an opportunity to be educated. The wonderful staff welcomed us with an easy  and captivating explanation, handed us a worksheet and then we set out to hunt around the museum for the answers in order to win our very own YO-KAI WATCH.

Yo-kai watch is big in Japan and is all about this idea that Yo-Kai wander around our world, invisible to most. Usually, they have no bad intentions, but they have a mind of their own paired with a unique talent for mischief! With the power of the Yo-kai Watch, you can find these hidden Yo-kai, befriend them, and call upon their powers when you need their help. This idea completely hooked Megan and she quickly got into this make believe world of Yo-Kai! They loved the treasure hunt feel it had, and as we later had an opportunity to play the game with the Nintendo experts, we loved the feel of being “in the game” on a treasure hunt around the museum.

Its a great opportunity to build the kids imagination, if like me you act the make believe games with them, if not its a fun scavenger hunt! The trail helped us to stop and take note of fascinating artefacts within the museum, that previously I know we have overlooked and that too was a great opportunity for the kids to appreciate history on a level that brought it home to the world of media as we see it now. It was great fun to use them as talking points and make comparisons (which I loved) when previously we wandered through to “play”, “Be on TV” and “see old TVs”. It is certainly a museum that grows with with you.

Both Ethan and Megan quickly picked up what it was all about and Megs couldn’t have been more excited to complete it and now be owning a Yo-KAI watch!

After a gorgeous lunch in the Museum cafe, they thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to play it on the Nintendo 3Ds with experts guiding them and praising them as they mastered a hand held gaming console (a great novelty in our family). We had a 15 minute slot and it was just enough and lots of fun – the highlight for Ethan apparently!

We rounded our visit off with our favourite thing to do at the media museum and booked a little booth to watch Wallace and Gromit. It was certainly a fun end to our half term, seeing a combination of our little traditions in with something completely new and yet so fun and interesting! We all learnt a lot, had fun and best of all it was FREE!!

I really love that National Media Museum is ever changing and giving us opportunities to experience the latest aspects within our Media. I love that through the things that appeal to kids and are current, they also have an opportunity to better grasp parts of our history, and it just makes it fun for us all to do things like this together!

YO-KAI WATCH is on until the 26th of February and is all completely FREE! You can join in the fun this week with your kids by finding the YO-KAI around the museum to win their very own watches, see the cartoon, crafting and even playing the game too (make sure you book on arrival). You can take a picnic or enjoy the delicious delights on offer in the Cafe (Ethan would highly recommend their pizza)! And round off your visit playing retro games or watching old Tv programmes!

We love the Media Museum and you don’t have to know anything about YO-KAI before embarking on a visit this half term, it will all be revealed upon arrival and the kids will love it!

*Thank you to the Media Museum for inviting us to review this Half term extravaganza and for feeding us while we were there. All thoughts and pictures are our own! 

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As I cuddled Alice close this week I began to think of how many days worth of cuddles I have lost over the last 2 and half years with Poppy. Then I moved onto smiles, milestones and life generally with her in it. Nathan and I have spoken a lot about how hard it is some days to wrap our minds around the idea that we should have a 2.5 year old with us too, and it all feels weird and sad that we don’t. Its hard to not know her and hard that we don’t know what she would be like! I struggle with that some days, the fact I have a child I know nothing about and can do nothing for. I do forever wonder who she would have looked or being like and what my life would be like having my whole brood with me now. I guess its been a while since I had such an obvious reminder or thoughts like this, but I am good at suppressing them too. They are always there under the surface and sometimes I just feel a need to have to think about it all and wonder. It connects me to her and I feel like I have to remember or I worry I will forget.

I know that these thoughts and reflection have a lot to do with doing my SANDS befriender training last weekend. Everything has been on my mind a lot more as I did expect it to be, and it has left me not only feeling good about how far I have come in my journey of loss, but also with a lot of reflective thoughts and realisation of how many emotions and thoughts I still have to make sense of surrounding having a stillborn baby! This stage of parenting after loss has been and is getting more and more fun, and most days are a lot easier in some ways…yet it has also held a lot of moments to bring reflection on Poppy too and make me want to squeeze and protect Alice even more.

At 7 months I am still feeding her myself, which has really surprised me. I don’t know really know why I am when I always said only 6 months, but its working well so I am just getting on with it. I do find it tiring and know some days she really plays on it to get bonus feeds, but out of ease and convenience (especially first thing on a morning and when we are on the go) its fine and I am glad I am keeping on with it. I think also it makes me feel useful. There wasn’t anything I could do for Poppy, but here with Alice I can literally sustain her life, stop her tears and comfort her and that brings me a great deal of joy that I never imagined would come from breastfeeding. I do love to look at her little cheeky face, and have her close to me, and yet at night when shes screaming its the last thing I want to be doing – I find it such a roller coaster and test of endurance some days but overall its still working for us both.

We also had a few words this week (Alice and I), as she seemed to be lacking somewhat in her ability to sit up unaided. I was aware she was coming up to 7 months (today) and realised that with her being the baby, she is used to being carried around or held by everyone and anyone. Whilst she loves this, it has most definitely created a sense of reliance on others doing all the work, and as such sees no reason why she needs to try to move anywhere or sit up. There is no indication that she will be crawling anytime soon, but with that little chat we had, and with a little perseverance, distraction, a few wobbles and face plants, she finally seems to be getting the hang of sitting. So yes, I think at this point in her life we can just about tick off the “sitting up” milestone!

Sleeping has been shocking this weekend with us being away, but leading up to that I really felt we had turned a corner.  Ethan and Megs were sleeping trough by this age and so I have been struggling with the fact she isn’t and wondering what is different. She seems to think that 1am/2am/4am/5am are party times and as a result of night after night of minimum sleep with me still feeding her too in the mix, I have been exhausted and at my whits end! I’ve wondered if she would ever master sleeping well?? But its safe to say we have some hope. For about a week we have managed 7ish pm – 6am most nights which has been brilliant and I have felt way more refreshed and life more manageable. I hope that this is a sign of things to come.

She is still in our room and whilst that can be annoying and not help on the sleep front, I am not ready to move her out at fear of something happening! At 7 months she well and truly knows how to play us and the way she grins at us each morning, she knows she has scored well with sharing our room!

Finally we took her swimming! A very late “milestone” in comparison to the others, and another indication of my hibernating nature with her through the winter. But last Friday we went to the coast and finally took the plunge! She looked so cute and Ethan and Megs LOVED it! They splashed her and we dunked her. She laid in the water, splashed and kicked in the water, and she loved every second of it. It was all very adorable to hear her squeals of excitement and she managed to stick it out for almost an hour! I realised what a great sport she is and how much she just loves anything with her family.

Alice loves to be in the middle of us all and to have the kids playing with her and making her laugh. She loves hugs and kisses galore and has this wonderful way of staring into your eyes as she stretches out and touches your face, she will then smile and it melts your heart. We feel blessed that she is ours everytime she smiles and we cuddle her. I am so thankful everyday for this baby in my life, she hasn’t made me all better or stopped me from thinking of what I lost with her sister, what she has done is filled my heart with love and joy and helped me see colour in the world again, and I cannot kiss or thank her enough for that gift!

 

The Ordinary Moments
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It’s been half term for us this week and we’ve had an absolute blast. It’s been a great balance of super fun adventures to places like light water valley, York, and going swimming today, mixed up with the odd lazy morning and clean up day in between. The kids are exhausted and could do with some early nights before going back to school next week, but we have certainly made the most of our time together!

 I like half term and school holidays not just for days out with the kids, the adventures and generally hanging together, but the opportunity to do things that otherwise would be very rushed during term time..like getting our eyes tested. Only this turned out to be complete madness and I wondered if perhaps a rushed job after school might actually had been a better option – at least they would have been tired and not running around like little nutters!

 It turned out their eyes are still fine, mine have declined a lot and I need to wear my glasses more, but going off their behaviour, perhaps they need a hearing test too next time! I opted out of all the added extras and chose frames that were on the lower end – I’m over designer frames and the ones I chose are super cool and only £45 all in! I can’t be doing with spending loads on things like this anymore when we can use the money elsewhere on our family. With that mentality I also made sure our eye tests were FREE too. I managed (with little effort) to find a voucher online to do just that. This is something I do before most activities that cost or when shopping online – hunt out a voucher for some saving. It just feels better and puts the money back in your pocket – and you can’t get better than FREE!

Half term/school holidays can very quickly clock up the spending, but being aware of this and forward planning can cut out a lot of unnecessary spending and make it a better time. Here are some things I have down this week to save us money whilst having optimum fun!

Planned ahead through offers

As I say days out in school holidays can quite easily drain the bank so quickly if we don’t plan ahead and watch out, especially when you have more than one kid. There are many ways to save a few quid here and there in an otherwise pricey period, including visits to free museums, parks, forests etc. We still stick to our schedule for some balance and easy planning and so this naturally gives us free activities, other than that its done on special offers!

For our trip on Thursday to Light water Valley, we paid £6 each on a february offer they have. Only a selection of rides were open (like 7 kids ones), but we also saw the falconry centre and reptiles, a visiting petting farm, some inflatables and the soft play. We were there 5hrs and had a lot of fun – well worth £24 for a family day out!

Took a picnic where possible / Raided the reductions

Everyone has to eat..it’s an expense of necessity but what isn’t a necessity is eating out. We have promised them Fish and chips at the coast this weekend, and other than that it has been a picnic all the way. Its simply a wrap or sandwich each, some crisps and piece of fruit and a bottle of water! A pack up or picnic quite easily saves a lot of money, especially when keeping it simple, and on Tuesday we threw in a bottle of posh lemonade as it was valentines – The kids LOVED it!

Sometimes (always) the kids start whining for snacks, an early dinner – whatever, they just “NEED more food”. When this happened in York, we just so happened to be next to Boots, and I am very aware that once lunch is over they tend to reduce their food by a lot. We got 2 sandwiches and a wrap all for 50p each at about 4.30pm and it was both tasty and a life saver with whiny hungry kids!

Park and ride

When we visited York we chose to use the park and ride, I think for most City visits this is a great way to save a few quid for the fam. For all of us it was only £5.20 with the added extra of a bus adventure for the kids. Last time we paid for an afternoon in York parking it was something around the £11 mark (so a nice 50% saving there).

If you haven’t yet had your half term then get hunting for a few vouchers now! Sit down with your kids and plan out things you all would like to do so you don’t end up falling into an expensive day out (maybe theme each day to make it easier and more exciting), and have them help you make a picnic. Oh and one more thing – I hope you have fun!

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