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Daddy’s are best (well sometimes..!)

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It’s Father’s Day and following bacon sandwiches, a great meal out, lots of cups of tea and an afternoon playing games I thought it was time to list the things my kids’ dad does better than anyone else. I might be the one who organises the day-to-day stuff and makes sure we are all fed and watered and in the right place, in the right clothes at the right time but there are some things a dad does best. Here’s a gentle reminder for my kids as to what their daddy does best:

  • Tickles
  • Finding batteries for toys
  • Playing computer games
  • Buying treats (especially when mummy has said no!)
  • Fixing things
  • Recycling (it’s bordering on an obsession but at least you are learning how to do your bit to save the planet)
  • Being the referee when things get heated with mummy
  • Playing football
  • Riding bikes
  • Telling bad jokes
  • Introducing you to classic films
  • Introducing you to classic tunes
  • Having patience when it’s homework time
  • Dad dancing
  • Building dens
  • Buying random food for great teas
  • Trying his best to embarrass you
  • Loving unconditionally.

 

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For the love of World Book Day!

It’s that time of year that all of us uncreative, non-sewing, skint parents dread – World Book Day! I am an avid read and always have been. I love books – so much so that I refuse to have a Kindle as I just don’t think it’s the same as holding real paper in your hand. My kids have both inherited my passion and for the most part would rather have their noses in a book than be running around on a sports field. So my problem with WBD isn’t with the idea of encouraging reading and celebrating everything literary, it’s the dressing up craze that schools and nurseries seem to have adopted that drives me mad.

This year the school sent the WBD letter out really early “to give you lots of time to come up with some imaginative costumes”. One thing my two don’t need is help with their imaginations – trying to reign them in is more of an issue. Last year we had Nurse Matilda (renamed Nanny McPhee for the films) and Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book. This year, despite have three dressing up boxes bursting with costumes we could adapt to be pretty much any children’s character, they want to be Belle de Paw from Royal Rabbits of London and illustrator Terry Denton from the 13 Storey Tree House series! To be fair (and thanks to some advice from author Andy Griffiths) I don’t think Terry will be too difficult but an aristocratic rabbit with a love of peacock feather – give me a break!!

I am very lucky to have a very resourceful and creative mother-in-law who loves the annual WBD challenge but it would be so much simpler if kids were encouraged to draw a picture of their favourite character rather than having to become it. I know there will be an army of superheroes and Disney princesses at the school gate on WBD and although the purist in me bristles at the sight (they were film characters before they were in books!) I can’t blame the parents for taking the easy option. None of us has the time or the money (and few have the creative genius) to turn our kids into the characters they want to be so why not just knock the whole dressing up thing on the head and let them really use their imaginations by drawing, talking, singing and sharing the books they love? Now where are those peacock feathers……?

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Phil the Tooth Fairy

When our eldest lost her first tooth she wrote a letter to the tooth fairy and, being the dutiful parents we are, we wrote one back. So began a high maintenance relationship between us and the little enamel stealer. Megan asked questions in her letters (“where do you live?” “What’s your name?”) and we wracked our brains to come up with imaginative answers.  All was well in the world of fairies and pearly whites until a massive mummy fail this week! After much worrying, and quite a few hard tugs, Megan lost her prized double tooth – two baby teeth fused together which needed a very strong adult tooth to push it out of the way. The dentist (not understanding the bundle of anxieties he was dealing with) had told her he might have to take the tooth out if it didn’t shift of its own accord so there was relief all round when it was finally pulled out.

To mark the occasion and with less than 33 days to Christmas, Megan decided she wanted to leave a Christmas card for the tooth fairy (she’s a girl after my own heart and likes to be organised!)  So card and tooth were dutifully placed under her pillow and off she went to sleep. A few hours later I crept in and picked up the card. Opened the envelope, but there was no tooth. A rummage under the pillow and still no tooth, so a letter and coin were left behind and I exited empty handed. Megan is quite a light sleeper so I had been fumbling about in the dark but I left the room convinced the tooth had fallen under her bed never to be seen again.

“Mummy I’ve got a letter from the tooth fairy but she’s not taken my tooth!” Of course the moment Megan woke up and lifted her pillow there was her doubler shining like a diamond – how had I missed it? Channelling all my mummy powers of imagination I replied “Maybe she dropped it?” “Maybe it was too heavy?” “Maybe she’ll come back?” OK not a very consistent story but it was early and I was thinking on my feet.  Megan seemed happy with one or more of those explanations so last night the tooth was put back under the pillow.

Then inspiration struck – let me introduce you to Phil the trainee tooth fairy (see what I did there?!).

According to the note my delighted daughter read this morning, Phil came along with the tooth fairy to give her a hand as the doubler was too big and heavy for one fairy to carry! INSPIRED!

When our eldest lost her first tooth she wrote a letter to the tooth fairy and, being the dutiful parents we are, we wrote one back. So began a high maintenance relationship between us and the little enamel stealer. Megan asked questions in her letters (“where do you live?” “What’s your name?”) and we wracked our brains to come up with imaginative answers.  All was well in the world of fairies and pearly whites until a massive mummy fail this week! After much worrying, and quite a few hard tugs, Megan lost her prized double tooth – two baby teeth fused together which needed a very strong adult tooth to push it out of the way. The dentist (not understanding the bundle of anxieties he was dealing with) had told her he might have to take the tooth out if it didn’t shift of its own accord so there was relief all round when it was finally pulled out.

To mark the occasion and with less than 33 days to Christmas, Megan decided she wanted to leave a Christmas card for the tooth fairy (she’s a girl after my own heart and likes to be organised!)  So card and tooth were dutifully placed under her pillow and off she went to sleep. A few hours later I crept in and picked up the card. Opened the envelope, but there was no tooth. A rummage under the pillow and still no tooth, so a letter and coin were left behind and I exited empty handed. Megan is quite a light sleeper so I had been fumbling about in the dark but I left the room convinced the tooth had fallen under her bed never to be seen again.

“Mummy I’ve got a letter from the tooth fairy but she’s not taken my tooth!” Of course the moment Megan woke up and lifted her pillow there was her doubler shining like a diamond – how had I missed it? Channelling all my mummy powers of imagination I replied “Maybe she dropped it?” “Maybe it was too heavy?” “Maybe she’ll come back?” OK not a very consistent story but it was early and I was thinking on my feet.  Megan seemed happy with one or more of those explanations so last night the tooth was put back under the pillow.

Then inspiration struck – let me introduce you to Phil the trainee tooth fairy.

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According to the note my delighted daughter read this morning, Phil came along with the tooth fairy to give her a hand as the doubler was too big and heavy for one fairy to carry! INSPIRED!

“Phil is my favourite tooth fairy” said Megan with a big smile. Proof if it was ever needed that us mums are the most resourceful creatures on the planet!

 

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A real passport to adventure!

For various reasons we didn’t get away on a family holiday this summer but thanks to Disney on Ice Passport to Adventure all was not lost! The show at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena took us on a magical journey to the plains of Africa, the snowy mountains of Arendelle, deep under the sea  and to the rooftops of London as we joined some of our favourite characters in their classic stories. The children were spellbound at they watched Peter Pan take to the skies, dived to the bottom of the ocean with Ariel and laughed hysterically as Goofy tripped over his own feet.

The show began with a warm up by the main characters from Zootopia.  Everyone was soon on their feet bouncing around like Officer Judy Hopps and getting in the mood for the main event. The main event started with Mickey, Minnie and the gang introducing a galaxy of dancers from around the globe for a rendition of ‘It’s a Small World’ – a familiar song with anyone who’s been lucky enough to visit Disneyland. I wouldn’t have thought it was possible to do a Highland fling or Cossack dance on ice but the brilliant performers pulled it off with ease.

The breath-taking performances continued with The Lion King. Fans of TV’s Dancing on Ice will be familiar with the jaw dropping head banger move and I can confirm that watching it live on stage is amazing. The dancers performing as Simba and Nala were exceptional and combined amazing tricks with real grace and perfect story telling. The arrival of Timon and Pumbaa led to lots of laughs and the kids were delighted to see their favourite characters so cleverly brought to life. Then it was the turn of the swashbuckling Lost Boys and Peter Pan to take over the arena. With lots of flying, a pirate galleon and a giant inflatable crocodile the dancers managed to tell the story in super quick time without losing any of the magic.

After the interval we dived under the sea with Ariel – the air was filled with bubbles and a shoal of dancing fish and sea creatures before a giant Ursula was defeated (and deflated!) by the brave prince. The imagination used to bring this story out of the water and onto the ice was amazing – the costumes and dance moves made the whole thing totally believable to everyone in the audience.

Then it was the showstopping finale. For those preparing themselves for the new Frozen short film due out in November, there was a rerun of some of last year’s magical adventure with Elsa, Anna, Hans and Olaf. Fancy footwork, some modern classic tunes and enough special effects to melt the hardest of frozen hearts. The whole audience was singing along and Henry, 5, was in tears (of joy) at the end!

I have never been able to master ice skating so watching the characters take to the stage was so impressive. How they managed to move, let alone gracefully, and perform tricks in their lifelike costumes was amazing. As you would expect with Disney, the attention to detail was second to none and it was obvious that for the smallest audience members the heroes of the big screen had really come to life in front of their very eyes.

As ever Disney on Ice did not disappoint and this year’s Passport to Adventure really did whisk us off to some magical lands to meet a brilliant mix of our favourite characters. A fantastic, family friendly night out with something for children of all ages – whether you’re three or 93 you need to catch this show before it moves on to its next adventurous destination. For tickets visit http://www.disneyonice.com

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Hot tea, good books and ironing – a quick guide to your child starting school

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So your little one is about to start school – how will you cope without them? How will they cope without you? Before you start volunteering to be a school reader or dinner supervisor just so you can stay close to your offspring here’s a quick list of the positives of getting your life back from 9am-3.30pm, Monday-Friday.

  • You can eat your lunch in front of This Morning or Loose Women – meal times are no longer dictated by CBeebies’ Andy singing “What’s on your plate?” and you can actually eat something that hasn’t been previously rustled up by Katie on “I can cook”
  • Talking of lunch – you get to eat a whole meal – no sharing with a little one who wants a bite of everything on your plate before you’ve tried it
  • You can also eat what you want, when you want. Chocolate for lunch, sandwich at 2pm? Why not go the whole hog and have a whole day without a fruit or vegetable – no one will ever know!
  • You can drink cups of tea whilst they are still hot
  • You can talk to friends, or browse social media without feeling guilty or turning deaf ear to the constant cries of “mummy”
  • You may actually get to see the promised land (otherwise known as the bottom of the ironing basket)
  • Remember newspapers and books? Now you can enjoy reading without putting on silly voices, pressing buttons, finding hidden characters and singing songs
  • Old cereal boxes and loo roll tubes can go straight in the recycling bin without first being made into a space rocket
  • You can listen to Radio 2 in the car – no need for endless renditions of Wheels on the Bus
  • The park is a great place for a relaxing walk or maybe a jog – just remember to give a sympathetic smile to all those poor parents still having to push a swing or feed the ducks
  • Remember shopping? Not for food or toys but for adult clothes? You can actually go into shops and changing rooms and browse at leisure without worrying about tantrums and whines of ‘I’m bored’
  • When you stub your toe, bang your head or stand on some Lego you can swear like a trooper – no more “sugar” or “for Pete’s sake”!

And the best things is you get to enjoy all these things until 3.30pm when you realise you have missed your child so much it hurts. You run to gather them up from the school gate, desperate to find out about their day and hear how they have missed you too. “So what did you do today?” you ask. “Can’t remember” comes the reply (every day!) “What’s for tea?” You needn’t have worried – normal service has been resumed!

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Pass me the manual!

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Baby books are an industry (a dubious one in my opinion but an industry none the less). I never quite understood how a mixed bag of contradictions with its own personality and unique take on life could be forced into a stereotype penned by some academic. But there’s a supposed answer to every question you could possibly think up about your little bundle of joy with helpful tips and hints on everything from breast feeding to sleeping through the night. However, it seems that as they grow we don’t need the advice anymore – when issues raise their head at 5, 6, 7, 8 and older you’re left alone with only the terrifying answers from Google to keep you awake at night.

Take my soon to be five year old. He’s been under a consultant at the local hospital since birth for a minor condition but due to long waiting lists and low staff numbers his last appointment (which had to be cancelled due to projectile vomiting on his part) has yet to be rescheduled. It was meant to be in August last year and we’re still waiting. His yearly check-ups give me reassurance and that’s all I want from this next elusive appointment so in the meantime where do I go? If he was younger I’d head off to the health visitor – a wonderful woman who helped me through so much when both kids were tiny. But he’s at school so is that appropriate? I don’t feel I can waste the GP’s time as it’s an ongoing thing so what can I do? Where’s the useful reference book about this with the smiling, reassuring mums of all ages and backgrounds on the cover?

Then there’s my eldest who has just got the date for her first residential school trip. She is definitely her mother’s daughter and the thought of being away has terrified her since she first discovered the trip was a possibility. Now it’s on the horizon and last night my very level headed and sensible girl spent over an hour sobbing hysterically at the thought of being away from home for two nights. It broke my heart. I really want her to go so she doesn’t miss out but I can’t force her on the bus and I don’t want her to make herself ill. What I could really do with is some advice…but guess what? There’s no manual on dealing with this! I know there are forums and chat rooms where mums can share ideas, feelings and experiences but how come new mums are allowed to walk into bookshop and browse the shelves looking for answers, visit the health visitor or a support group to feel the reassurance of real people in the same situation but when your kids are up and about you are supposed to know what to do or feel comfortable talking to complete strangers on the other side of the country about your worries?

When mine were babies I thought I knew how tough being a parent was – the lonely nights, the lack of sleep, the potty training etc but I am just beginning to realise that the going is about to get a whole lot tougher and this time it seems my and my husband our on our own!

 

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A passport to a great night of family fun

We have always had an amazing time at Disney on Ice at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena and I am so excited to find out more about this year’s show.
If you want a couple of hours of family fun, sprinkled with Disney magic I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Read more about it below and book your tickets NOW!!!!

 

JOIN A GLOBETROTTING TOUR OF DISNEY DESTINATIONS WHEN DISNEY ON ICE PRESENTS PASSPORT TO ADVENTURE COMES TO TO THE NORTH EAST

Tickets for Newcastles Metro Radio Arena on Sale 5 May
Pre-sale starts today Tuesday 25 April at 5pm

Disney On Ice is returning to Tyneside this October with a fun-filled tour of the imagination in Disney On Ice presents Passport to Adventure.
 
Families are invited to journey to the most memorable destinations with their favourite Disney characters and get swept away by classic tales that have captivated the world. This ice spectacular visits Newcastle from 3 8 October for ten performances at The Metro Radio Arena.
 
Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday 5 May. Disney priority customers can take advantage of the pre-sale window, which begins Tuesday 25 April at 5pm. 
 
To register as a priority customer, enabling show discounts and advance booking to get best seats prior to general public on-sale, go to http://www.prioritycustomer.co.uk.
 
Disney On Ice presents Passport to Adventure invites families to explore the African Pride Lands with Simba, Timon and Pumbaa, voyage deep under the sea to Ariel’s mystical underwater 
kingdom and tour London with Peter Pan and Wendy, before flying to Neverland to meet up with Tinker Bell. Guests will also be whisked away to the wintery wonderland of the number one animated feature film of all time, Disney’s Frozen, for an extraordinary adventure with sisters Anna and Elsa, rugged mountain man Kristoff and everyone’s favourite huggable snowman Olaf, as they journey to discover that true love is the most magical power of all. Plus, don’t miss the chance to warm up at the Fit to Dance pre-show featuring Zootropolis!
 
“It’s an extraordinary show and a family vacation all rolled into one incredible night,” says Producer Kenneth Feld. “You really get a sense you are traveling right alongside Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and their friends.”
 
“The arena will be filled with music and magic in every scene as you discover four unique landscapes filled with boisterous pirates, Caribbean beats and tender moments. With Academy Award® winning musical scores brought to life by world-class skating, Disney On Ice presents Passport to Adventure is an experience your family will cherish forever.”
 
Passport to Adventure was created by a team of industry experts known for their ability to convey the movements and designs needed to bring each Disney destination to life:
 
·         Jerry Bilik (Director) – Creative team member for 30 Disney On Ice shows; arranged music for a number of television series, including Starsky and Hutch and Charlie’s Angels; music     coordinator for The 31st Annual Emmy® Awards.
 
  • Patty Vincent (Director – Frozen section) – Directed numerous Feld Entertainment ice and stage shows including Disney On Ice presents Frozen, Magical Ice Festival and Dare to Dream; began her career at Feld Entertainment as a skater 31 years ago and has advanced in the company to become the Creative Director for all touring Disney On Ice productions. Additional credits include co-director of Playhouse Disney Live! and co-director of High School Musical Summer Celebration (stage show).
 
·         Cindy Stuart (Choreographer) –2016 Professional Skaters Association Choreographer of the Year Award winner and the 2014 Sonja Henie Award nominee; collaborated with Olympic Gold Medalist Robin Cousins on multiple projects; choreographed for US Champion Gracie Gold,  US Bronze Medalist Mirai Nagasu, World and Olympic Champions Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao and Olympic Champions Jamie Salé and David Pelletier; choreographer for several Disney On Ice productions, including Disney On Ice presents Frozen.
  
·         The Late Robert Smith (Production Designer) – Theater credits include the 2001 revival of Hair at the Wadsworth Theater; the world premiere of Bingo, an award-winning musical in Los Angeles and Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins and Dorian. Film credits include Session Man (Academy Award® winner) and Contact (Academy Award® nominee).
 
·         The Late Arthur Boccia (Costume Designer) – Worked 14 seasons as a top assistant to the late Don Foote, designer for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®; worked in film, television and on Broadway plays, including the Broadway revival of Pal Joey; designed costumes for 10 Disney On Ice productions.
  
·         Patrick Dierson (Lighting Designer) – Lighting credits include the MTV Video Music Awards and the world tour of Shakira; received an Emmy® Award nomination for his work on the post September 11th musical telethon America: A Tribute to Heroes.
 
Twitter: @DisneyOnIce #PassportToAdventure
Instagram: @DisneyOnIce
 
DISNEY ON ICE PRESENTS PASSPORT TO ADVENTURE
Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle upon Tyne
3-8 October 2017
Tickets from £19.80
Ticket Hotline: 0844 493 6666
Group Sales: 0191 2606006
 
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