Activities that will bring you together as a family

When I was growing up our family used to go out on bike rides together, it's one of the memories of us spending time together. We'd ride for miles through forests and along trails and look at anything interesting along the way. These days I don't particularly enjoy going out on the bike, but we spend time together in other ways. The activities we do together bring us together as a family and we get to enjoy time together - which is so important.


Beeston Castle ruins in the sun.


Over the last few weeks I've been focussing on how you can spend quality time with your children, the benefits, and suggestions of movies and games you watch or play together. Some of the activities below I have mentioned before, others I haven't but here's just a few activities you can try out.



Days out


It could just be a trip to the local park or it could be a day trip to London but whichever you choose you'll get to spend time together and, when you do, make sure to be 'in the moment'. Be with your children, watch them play, watch them learn. They will notice a difference in you and will be happier because of it.


Two boys enjoying the swings in the sun.


The best days out are when you can all get involved in something together...



Escape Rooms


Work together to solve clues and escape the locked room. Sounds simple enough but it requires you to work together, to co-operate with each other and listen. 


We love escape rooms, we're looking for new ones to try out because we've tried all of our local ones (that we know of). The best thing about the escape rooms is your children may surprise you with their insight. LP has solved clues the rest of us struggled with and I was amazed at his deduction skills. BP has a talent for spotting things that we wouldn't. It makes you realise there are talents your children have that you may not have noticed so far.





My perfect weekend is going for a walk with my family in the park. I don't think there's anything better. 

Anne Wojcicki





Reading


This is more of a one-on-one activity, perhaps one of you could read with your child and then the other takes their turn. Reading with your child is a great activity, I love reading to LP and he gets so much more out of it than when he reads to himself. Not only does he get to hear the story but he gets to hear the inflections and emphasis in my voice when I'm reading.

LP's vocabulary surprises me these days but I know it's because I've spent so much time reading to him that he's learned lots of words. I believe reading with your children has a huge impact on their learning.



English Heritage


We have been members of English Heritage for years and love visiting the castles - especially Bolsover Castle (where we got married). We also enjoy the audio tours they have because you get to learn about the history of the building you're in.


The ruins of Beeston Castle
Beeston Castle


I used to hate History in school but the older I've got the more interesting I find it. I like to imagine what it used to be like to live in a huge castle, and when you listen to the audio tours it's easier to 'see'. I feel like I can go into my own imaginary world when we visit the old castles, it's almost like being a child again. And when your children see you so enthusiastic about something they are automatically interested - win!



Walking


This is one of our favourite things to do and you will hear/see me talking about it all the time. We walk along the canal near our house, we walk in local parks like Wollaton Park, and we'll even walk into the city sometimes. It's a great, and FREE, way to get outdoors and enjoy the spring weather while being able to chat to your children about anything that comes to mind.


Boys walk ahead along a footpath surrounded by long grass and trees.


In my experience children tend to be more interested in talking when walking outdoors. And even if you have younger children you could look at using baby carriers or similar, Family Hype have some great solutions for this, as well as other related posts. The conversations we've had as a family, just over the weekend, range from medical conditions like psoriasis (the Hubby suffers) to complicated economics (trying to explain Brexit to our 9 year old). But the best bit is that we don't just talk about real things, we get to imagine things - like we did when we were children.





Family and friendships are two of the greatest facilitators of happiness. 

John C. Maxwell





This morning, when I was walking LP to school, I got to ride on his jet pack because we were both tired from all the walking. If you'd have seen us at the time you would've noticed that I was holding onto a handle on LP's school bag while running alongside him while he made jet pack sounds as we ran. We both had huge smiles on our faces and laughed until we couldn't breathe. If I'm honest I must've looked rather silly - but I don't care. LP and I were having fun and we got to school much quicker!


Activities that will bring you together as a family - and most of them are free!


So there you have it, a few more ideas for activities you can try out to bring your family closer together.

What activities do you do with your family?







My Random Musings

The Pramshed

Post Comment Love 27th - 29th April

It's Post Comment Love time again - which means a whole week has passed already! Join Stephanie and I for this week's linky and we'll stop by to read, comment, and share your posts.

A man gets on his yellow bike.

Well the weather has taken another turn hasn't it? The sun was lovely last weekend, we walked into Nottingham on Saturday and the Hubby and I went for a lovely walk on Sunday while LP was at Karate. But now, despite the sun being out it is cold again. I cannot wait for the summer, to have a few days when we don't need to go out with jackets and umbrellas.

I'm glad to be back into a good routine again, the house is tidy (for the most part) and I'm losing weight. Eating healthy, walking LP to school most days, and not having too many goodies is helping and I'm pleased.

The Hubby is hoping to have his bike back today after it broke last week, LP cannot wait to go out on a bike ride - he's been asking about the bike every day! He's really been missing going out on his bike - so much so that we took him to Wollaton Park last weekend so he could ride around while we walked. He loved it, and has even asked if we could do it again and I'm sure we will.

I've been spending a lot of time sketching and painting on the iPad, drawing is how I relax and I'm really enjoying it. I've got quite a few pictures now, mostly outlines but I'm getting there and I'm starting to see that if there's anything I need (like icons) I can just draw them instead of searching for them online. I'm not sure what, if anything, I'll do with it but it's something I can keep in mind. I'm even thinking of creating some strong female characters - firefighters, police, doctors - all for children to colour in. It's been a long time since my boys asked for a colouring book but the last time I did they were all cute teddies and girls playing with dolls. I think it would be good for girls (and boys!) to see women portrayed in those jobs. What do you think?

Currently I have this one - and it's not quite the strong female character I'm looking for. Although I would like to enjoy a cuppa like this lady...




Well, that's all for this week - what have you been up to?



Blogger Showcase Gemma from Waist Trainer


Mum of two, Gemma blogs as Mummy's Waisted and is looking forward to being able to make enough money from blogging that she doesn't need to go back to accountancy. She needs the caffeine so prefers coffee and cake. Be sure to check out the rest of Gemma's answers to our Blogger Showcase questions over on Stephanie's blog.



Pocolo


Each week you'll be able to link up from either of our sites and between us Stephanie and I will comment on every post linked.

The rules; Link up your best post written in the last week and we'd like you to comment on at least two other linked posts, as well as the hosts.

Help us spread the #PoCoLo word on Twitter and include the badge on your post.

Please do pop over and say hi to this week's Blogger Showcase. It's always nice to get a comment or two.

If you'd like to be featured in our Blogger Showcase please do check out the questions and email your answers to us at postcommentlove@gmail.com.


Post Comment Love 27th - 29th April - Stephanie and I host - link up your best/favourite post of the week.


Thank you for popping by.


Post Comment Love
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The best rides at Epcot

I have mentioned before that Epcot is my favourite park, there's just so much to see and do that we always spend more time there than at any other park in Walt Disney World. I found it hard to choose the best rides in Epcot because I love them all for different reasons, especially the smaller and slower rides!

Spaceship Earth from inside Epcot near the fountains.



My favourites


I am not a roller-coaster fan, I don't like that awful feeling in your tummy when there's a drop somewhere. I much prefer the slower rides, the ones where you learn or where there's interesting things to see.



Soarin'


The last time I visited Walt Disney World Soarin' was brilliant. You sit in a seat and get raised into the air while you watch a large screen. You 'fly' through different scenes and sometimes feel like you're really there.


A man hang gliding in a clear blue sky above snow capped mountains.


No mountain is too high. No landscape is too far. Whether you’re soaring above man-made marvels like the majestic Great Wall of China, cruising over natural sights like Iguazu Falls in South America or swooping past sailboats on Australia’s spectacular Sydney Harbour, this is your chance to experience the joy of hang gliding as you never have before.

Soarin' has been updated since we were last there and I cannot wait to try out the new version, Soarin' Around the World.

Tip: Fastpass+ to be sure to ride.



Spaceship Earth


As one of the best places you can get a nice long rest while still taking in the sights Spaceship Earth had to top my list. It's nice and slow, is almost never busy (as long as you follow my tips), and you get to learn! We have never had to use a Fastpass+ for Spaceship Earth.




Travel back to the dawn of recorded history, when early man painted his thoughts on cave walls, the Egyptians invented papyrus and the Phoenicians devised the alphabet. See ideas spread like wildfire with the invention of Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press, Greek systems of mathematics and the inspiring works of the masters of the Renaissance. The wheels of time turn ever faster as we progress to the modern age of media communications, from newspapers announcing the end of the Civil War to the televised broadcast of the moon landing and beyond.

Just the thought of Spaceship Earth makes me smile, and your kids will love it too because they get to play with an interactive screen while riding! They get to play and imagine and have fun - and then when you leave the ride you can try to spot yourselves on a huge screen when you exit.

Tip: Listen and learn! Don't try to ride first thing in a morning - it will definitely be busy. If you leave it until you're leaving the park (later in the afternoon) it is far less busy.





We have done a lot of thinking on a model community, and I would like to be a part of building one, a city of tomorrow, as you might say.

Walt Disney





Test Track


For a long time I wouldn't ride Test Track, the screaming can be heard from outside the ride and that terrified me. Then the Hubby convinced me to give it a go and I am so glad he did! Test track is a fast ride, but there are no sudden drops or twists. This means I am happy to ride and I even lift my arms! 

Discover how your custom concept vehicle performs thanks to easy-to-read visual charts as you rev through rough terrain and obstacles along the winding Test Track circuit. Fly through straight-aways, maneuver switchbacks through inclement weather, hug curves banked at 50-degree angles and scale hills that are up to 3-stories high!

You get to create your own car for Test Track too - how awesome is that?! The car lovers in your family will think it's brilliant - we had a huge competition last time where we tried to create the BEST car, Hubby won (obvs!) but the boys had a brilliant time trying to beat him!

Tip: Spend some time looking at the creation area when you leave the ride, look at the kinds of things that make a difference to the the car and try again! Fastpass+ will help you ensure you get to ride.



Hubby's favourites


As the resident thrill-seeker in our house Hubby is always looking for the next awesome ride. He does like the smaller, slower rides but prefers the roller-coasters.



Soarin'


Like me the Hubby loves Soarin' and cannot wait to try out the new version. 



Test Track


No surprise here, the fast car ride that gets you outdoors in a speedy car!



Mission: SPACE


Mission: SPACE is not a roller-coaster, it's a simulator. You get into a 'spacecraft' and make your way to space. This is a ride that you can go on with your family because it requires a team, a team that will work together to navigate your craft through space.


The entrance at Mission: SPACE, showing a red planet with swirls around it.



Before you board, you’ll prepare for your mission aboard the X-2 Deep Space Shuttle at the International Space Training Center (ISTC). Each member of your 4-cadet crew will assume an important role: navigator, pilot, commander or engineer. During your flight, cadets will be instructed to initiate a mission-critical sequence… so be prepared!

Finally, board your capsule, lower your harness and prepare for an extraordinary mission—one that takes you to space, without ever leaving Epcot.


There are two versions of Mission: SPACE, one is green (mild) and one is orange - I've tried both. I don't do well with rides that make me feel disoriented and so the Orange version is not for me. I felt like I was spinning constantly and it made me feel sick. However, the Green version is okay. I don't mind this one because there's no spinning so I can cope. The ride is interesting and the kids love it because they get to push buttons and feel like they're really controlling the spacecraft.

Tip: Fastpass+ will help you ride, although in our experience the Green side is often less busy.



The boys' favourites


Like their father the boys like the roller-coasters and anything fast moving. That's why they agree with their dad when I asked them their favourites!



It’s like the city of tomorrow ought to be...

Walt Disney





There's lots of walking to do at Epcot to get between the rides but it is so worth it!


The best rides at Epcot, Walt Disney World - our favourites.


Do you have a favourite ride in Epcot?

The best games to play as a family

A few of my posts recently have been about spending quality time with your children, things like watching movies together and building forts is a great way to get that special time together. But there are also games, board games, video games, and others - and I've got a list of the best (in our opinion) games to play as a family.



Computer games


Having a husband who has worked in the games industry for more than 20 years games have played a huge part in our lives. From games like Call of Duty to iPad games like Crack Attack we're always looking for new entertainment.





The obvious objective of video games is to entertain people by surprising them with new experiences.

Shigeru Miyamoto





The boys are now old enough to play the bigger online games like Overwatch and Fortnite but they're not the type of game I'd enjoy playing. The number of times I've watched the boys get frustrated with the game and thrown the controller is ridiculous so I refuse to do that with them. Instead we choose different games to play as a family.



Super Mario 3D World


The Hubby and I grew up at a time when the Mario Bros were big - they were very popular and as a result we love them. Most of the Mario games we have played we've enjoyed - some the Hubby enjoyed more than me but they're all fun to play. But until Super Mario 3D World there wasn't a game we could play together.





More than once we have all grabbed a controller for the Wii U, chosen a character (I am always Peach!), and jumped into the Super Mario 3D World. The world is brilliant and because there are four of us someone's character and it doesn't affect the rest of the game. We all have special talents which means we work together to find stars and we have fun doing it.

Of course there are times when it can cause arguments - that's just what comes with playing games together as a family but for the most part it is fun.



Mario Kart


Mario Kart again dates back to when I was young, it was a game I loved as a teenager and it has always been multiplayer. Admittedly I'm not very good at it but it's great playing with the boys and them thinking it's brilliant that they can beat me.





It's a fun game that can be played and to be honest it's most fun because you get to throw things at your family - sometimes knocking them out of the race!



Lego games


From Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings the Lego games are some of my favourites. When I first heard about the Lego Harry Potter games I knew I'd want them and I played them for hours. I got everything I could in those games and the boys helped me. They love playing these games with me, partly because they know how rubbish I am and can claim that they're better than me, but still.





I am so excited about this game! The last Lego game I played was Lego Dimensions and while I enjoyed the levels of the game the open world didn't really appeal to me. I love the story-led Lego games and will be getting this one as soon as it's available. And I have no doubt the boys will want to play with me!



Board games


We play board games almost every week, if we find ourselves with some spare time we'll sit at the dining table and get out one of the many games we have. Our collection of games has been growing quickly over the last few years and it continues to grow.



Catan


Catan is a classic board game and while it is quite expensive for a board game I have no doubt you would get lots of enjoyment out of it for years to come. I've lost count of the number of times we've played Catan, and it's great because it's one that LP can play without being on a team too!





Colt Express


A newer addition to our list Colt Express doesn't involve a board as such but rather a cardboard train in which your characters move around. The boys love this one because they get to shoot and punch (not literally) me and their dad! It's great fun and will keep you occupied for years to come.






Carcassonne


Another classic Carcassonne is so easy anyone can play. All you have to do is place card pieces onto the table connected to other pieces. There are 'maple' - your little characters - and you get to own castles and farms. Yes, there's strategy involved which can get a little more complicated when there are little ones playing but LP, who is 9 years old, can hold his own these days.

Just lately we've also started playing Scrabble and Yahtzee too. LP is brilliant at Scrabble and he enjoys Yahtzee because of the dice I think!





I like to play board games a lot with my little girl, things like that. We attempt to cook. And even if it goes wrong, it doesn't matter because it's the time you spent doing it that's important.

Sam Worthington





Other games




Treasure Hunt


Treasure hunt works both in and outdoors. We play it in the car - for example we'll see how many supercars we can spot during a journey, or we'll count how many red cars we can see. We play when we're out on a walk - this is a little more complicated because you have to get it ready beforehand. Plan your route and write down things the children should look out for when you're out walking. You can give them clues or just tell them what to look for - like the Nottingham Forest Football Ground for example, either way you're keeping them busy. Print out the list and take it with you and they can tick off each item they spot - if they see everything you could get them a treat at the end of your walk.   The boys have loved when we give them a treasure hunt when we're on a walk - it keeps them busy looking out for things but they also talk about the things they see because they're looking around and noticing things they wouldn't ordinarily.



Hide and seek


In the house, in the garden, or even when you're out and about (although I wouldn't recommend it in the city!). I prefer to play in the house, which we've done once or twice. LP used to love it because he was so small he could fit in some really small places. He's hidden in cupboards, in boxes, even in wardrobes! Hide and seek is a great game to play as a family if you have little ones because it's something they can do without much help - they just need the odd tip to stay quiet when they're hiding!



Playing games together is a huge part of our lives and I think it's an important part of family life. We laugh together, have a great time, and bond. The boys get to compete in a friendly setting and there are lots of smiles all around. 


The best games to play as a family, including our favourites.


What games do you play as a family?





The Pramshed

How to make the most of landmark family gatherings

There are not too many times when your whole extended family has the chance to get together and see one another. There are weddings, landmark birthday parties and christenings. But for the most part, you’re not around each other under one roof. That’s why you need to make the most of these family gatherings when they do come around. It’s not always as easy to do that as it might sound, so the tips that we’re about to discuss will help you out a lot.



Find time for conversations


Conversation is the most important thing of all when you're getting together with your family. You can’t allow yourself to forget that because if you do, you will regret it later. Sure, parties are for other things too, but if you don’t have quiet moments to talk, what’s the point?



Dedicate time to everyone


There should be time for you to see everyone and at least have a brief conversation when you end up at an event with all your family present. No matter how tricky it may be to juggle your time in this way, you should at least give it a shot because you don’t know when you might get another chance to have those important conversations with distant relatives.






Put an emphasis on fun


If you’re throwing a big party and inviting all the family, you want to make it's as fun as it possibly can be. What you don’t want is to be sitting around in your living room filling the air with small talk. It’s much more fun if you have some games and activities to do together. And you should also get the music right; you can find wedding and party bands here. Take all of these things into account.



Invite as many people as possible


It’s essential to invite lots of people to these occasions because when you don’t see them often, it’s good to get everyone together in once place. Remember, it’s not just about you seeing your Great Aunt; it’s also about your Great Aunt seeing your Grandmother on the other side of the family. There are many people who might want to see each other, so try to get them all together.



Don’t make excuses


It’s easy to put off these family occasions if you’re busy or you have other things on your mind. But most of the time, that’s nothing more than poor excuse making, so don’t be the person that is always too busy for your family. You don’t want to get that reputation in your family because it will only disappoint people and offend people too. It’s important to be there, even when you do have other things going on.



Family gatherings can be a lot of fun and very rewarding for you if you approach them in the right way. We all need to keep those bonds tight, especially when we don’t get to see other people in the family all that often. So next time a family gathering comes around, make the most of it.

Collaborative post

The 5 Money-Saving Tips First-Time Parents Need to Know

Becoming a new parent can be quite the thrill, but it also requires you to deal with several financial challenges you never needed to think about before. As well as the existing money concerns you needed to think about, like saving for retirement and holidays, you'll also have to deal with the expenses involved in looking after your most recent bundle of joy. 

Fortunately, you can prepare for the challenge of becoming a first-time parent. The quicker you start talking to your partner and addressing your budget, the more comfortable you'll feel by the time your new addition arrives. Here are a few things to consider. 



1. Review Your Income Immediately 


Most parents will find that their household income decreases significantly when a new baby arrives. One parent will need to take leave to look after the child for a few months, and the mother will undoubtedly need some time to recover physically. On top of that, you may also find that you have more money going out than you once did too. For instance, you'll need to pay for food, milk, nappies, and other essential expenses for your youngster. 

Start by finding out how much support you can get from your employer when it comes to maternity or paternity leave. You should at least be entitled to statutory pay. From there, you can start to figure out whether you might be entitled to any additional help such as child tax credits and housing benefits too. The more government help available to you, the better off you'll be. 



2. Start Tracking your Expenses


There are numerous tools out there that you can use to track your expenses. For instance, you can put all of your expenses onto a single joint bank account, which you can track every month, and set up with direct debits to ensure that you're paying bills on time. On the other hand, you can try downloading a budgeting software that helps you to track your expenses on a spreadsheet. 

The more you know about the money you spend before and after having a baby, the more you'll be able to manage your costs. If you're not sure what you're going to need to prepare for when the new baby arrives, try joining parenting groups or visiting nurseries to talk to other parents about how much they spend each month. 



3. Set Your Budget and Stick to It 


A new baby often means that parents have to cut back on spending wherever they can and look for new ways to make their money stretch. Sometimes, the smallest change, like reducing the number of coffees you buy at expensive branches, or switching your utility provider, can go the longest way. 




Set your budget as early as you can when you're planning for your baby, and make sure that you stick to it, even before the youngster arrives. For instance, you can plan to live on a single income for a while, and simply save back everything the other parent makes so that you have a safety blanket to fall back on. 



4. Don't Be Afraid to Look for Help


Becoming a new parent is never easy. Not only do you need to get used to a complete change in the way that you live your life, but you also need to think of new ways to make ends meet - even if you had trouble with your expenses to begin with. The good news is that there is plenty of help out there if you know where to look. For instance, you can turn to friends and family for help making sure that you have childcare for your new baby when you need it. 

At the same time, remember that the citizen's advice can help you to find new benefits and credits to apply for when you're not sure if you're making the most of the support the government has to offer. 



5. Keep Your Budgeting Plans Simple 


Finally, when it comes to making ends meet as a new parent, the simpler you can make your plan, the better. Remember that you're not going to be able to cut down all of your frivolous spending immediately, so look for ways to save more money one step at a time. Take advantage of vouchers and coupons that you find online and track your spending so you know where you're having the biggest problems with your cash. 


Collaborative post

Post Comment Love 20th - 22nd April

It is Friday again and that means it's time for Post Comment Love with Stephanie and I. Link up your best or favourite post of the week and we'll pop over and read, comment, and share.

How happy have you been to see the sun? I swear the first person to complain about the heat is going to see the Evil Mum in me! It has been far too long since the sun last broke through the clouds.

I've been enjoying the sun while getting in some exercise this week by walking LP to, and from, school every day. I'm getting 5 miles of walking done daily and enjoying the lovely weather - hopefully all the walking will kick-start my weight-loss again. I have to say that despite having aching legs it's nice to be out first thing in the morning and getting the exercise in. It gets me ready to start the day.

People walking on a grassy hill in the bright sunshine. Image for Post Comment Love 20th - 22nd April.


LP isn't so keen on all the walking, especially given that he has to carry his school bag. Since he started taking a thermos to school his bag is heavier and he's not happy about it. However, he needs the walking as much as I do - we both need to be in practice for the holiday in Summer. The thing is he really does love being active so it's not the walking that bothers him, it's his school bag. 

BP spent a lot of time complaining about the sun... well not the sun but more about his uniform. He walks home from the bus stop and was saying that the sun was zapping all of his energy because his uniform is black. He can't stand having to wear it when it's so hot. He has to wear a white shirt, black trousers, and a black blazer, as well as his tie. It's a lot and there's no summer option. Needless to say when he got home he was straight out of his uniform and into t-shirt and shorts on Wednesday!

My arm and neck issue is a little better this week, I can move it more at least. I still have the occasional twinge that hurts and in a morning it's not great, but it's not painful enough to need pain killers anymore so I'm claiming that as a win. I'm hoping that more movement will get it sorted - time will tell. 

The Hubby has been a little annoyed this week because his bike broke when he was trying to ride last weekend. We took it to Halfords (where we bought it from) and it's being fixed but Hubby is annoyed that he's missing out on riding during the sunny days. Hopefully it'll be fixed this weekend. 

And that's it for the update this week folks. 

How have you been enjoying the sun this week?



Blogger Showcase Lizzie from Lizzie Dripping





Who are you? 


I'm Lizzie, from Cheshire, and I've been lifestyle blogging for about 4 years. I originally started as a diary style blog, which became too much, so for the last two years I've been blogging about my life, rather than a diary post every day. 




How did you discover blogs/blogging?


I'd blogged a few times when I was a teenager (a lot of my friends had blogs too and, when I was working as an English teacher, it seemed like a good way to express myself and vent when I needed to. 



What do you find most challenging?


The thing I find most difficult is staying consistent and sticking to a routine - I lead such a busy life and sometimes blogging can be overlooked. 



What is your favourite topic to write about?


My favourite topic that I've written about over the last few years has been update posts on my New Year's Resolutions - I find it really keeps me accountable and helps to keep them. 



Are you blogging for fun or do you have goals?


Blogging for fun - I keep one eye on my followers and likes but my main driver is having fun and having a creative outlet! 



What is your favourite thing about blogging?


My favourite thing about blogging is getting to look back on old posts and reminisce! 



Have you ever attended a blogging conference and if so, what did you think?


I've never attended a blogging conference, but would if one was ever on my doorstep! 



What are your 3 best posts?





Describe yourself in three words!


Anxious, energetic, ambitious. 



Are you a tea and biscuits or coffee and cake person?


I hate tea and coffee - but love cake and biscuits haha! (Hot chocolate is excellent though!) 



What's your idea of a perfect night out?


My idea of a perfect night out is a nice dinner with my boyfriend and then going to the theatre. 



Your perfect night in?


Night in - a takeaway and watching a box set cuddled up on the sofa under lots of blankets! 



What would your best friend/OH/mum or kids say is your best quality?


Wanting to always do the best for myself and others!



Connect with Lizzie


Thanks so much for taking part in our Blogger Showcase Lizzie, feel free to grab our 'featured' badge and display it ever-so-proudly on your blog.


Post Comment Love
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Pocolo


Each week you'll be able to link up from either of our sites and between us Stephanie and I will comment on every post linked.

The rules; Link up your best post written in the last week and we'd like you to comment on at least two other linked posts, as well as the hosts. 

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The best rides at Hollywood Studios

I always see Hollywood Studios as all about the movies, and being a movie fan that puts it in my list of favourite places. We used to love going to Hollywood Studios for the drawing classes and both LP and BP have enjoyed the Playhouse Disney Live show over the years. But as they've grown up their likes have changed and now it's all about the rides. So, as with the other parks we've put together a list of the best rides at Hollywood Studios.



My favourites


Not being a fan of anything that makes my stomach feel like it's flying all over the place I prefer the slower more gentle rides.



Star Tours


While Star Tours isn't a roller-coaster it does make you feel like you're flying sometimes! You're basically in a simulator but the effects are good and whenever I begin to feel a little queasy I look away from the screen to get a break - it's just part of my coping mechanism. 

Blast off on a thrilling tour of the Star Wars galaxy aboard a Starspeeder 1000. Come face-to-face with Kylo Ren, Boba Fett or Darth Vader as you voyage to amazing alien worlds like Jakku, Coruscant, Naboo or even Crait—an all-new planet from Star Wars: The Last Jedi!










I really don’t understand why they’re not sending me on the Endor tour. After all, I am something of a legend with the Ewoks. What with my magic and all.

C-3PO, Star Tours





It's been a while (almost 3 years) since we last visited and I have a feeling it may have changed since then so I'm looking forward to seeing it again. Not being a fan of the bigger rides mean I tend to look away from the screen a little more often to try and make myself feel better. Star Tours is definitely one of those rides that you can ride if you don't like roller-coasters, but you may have to learn ways to cope when you start to stress.

Tip: Look away from the screen and try to remember you're in a simulator. You're not flying through space. It can get busy so I'd recommend using Fastpass+.



Toy Story Mania


Toy Story Mania is SO MUCH FUN! It's basically a shooting game but you're sitting in a moving vehicle. The vehicle stops in front of big screens where you take aim at objects, some moving some not. You have to move quickly though - get as high a score as you can! 

Climb aboard an early 20th-century-inspired Carnival Ride Tram and grab your spring-action shooter. With 3D glasses on, glide into the Toy Story Midway Games Play Set and take aim at stationary and moving 3D objects in a variety of fast-paced games.

We love Toy Story Mania, the vehicle doesn't move very fast - but it does spin once or twice - and the shooting at objects you recognise from movies is brilliant. We have our very own competition and the boys always beat me - but it's fun seeing their faces when they realise they've beat me!

Tip: Fastpass+ advance booking is your best bet to be able to give this ride a go.



Muppet Vision 3D


Now this isn't a ride - it's a show, but for the time being it's my only choice. I would've chosen the Great Movie Ride but that's not there anymore (boo!). Muppet Vision is a show so it's good for anyone and until they open Toy Story Land (opening in June 2018!) I can't say I have another favourite ride but I can't wait to see Toy Story Land!


Front of Muppet Vision 3D at Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World.


Hubby's favourites


Hubby likes the coasters, he's a thrill-seeker and likes to try out anything new.



The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror


I have been on the Tower of Terror but to be honest with you I don't think I'll ever go on it again! It absolutely terrifies me because they use my ultimate fear - being trapped in a falling elevator. You basically sit in the elevator and without giving too much away you eventually drop about 13 floors. Just thinking about it makes my tummy go wibbly! Hubby loves the ride, he was the one that encouraged me to go on it in the first place, but he thinks it's great. 

Shriek in terror as you suddenly hurl down the abandoned shaft that unexpectedly changes direction and launches back up the hotel. Gaze out through a missing wall 13 stories high as the doors inexplicably open and close to reveal the hotel grounds. As if possessed by some unseen phantom, plummet down and speed upward over and over again, the sound of cables snapping and metal clanging overhead.

The Tower of Terror is a ride the Hubby always looks forward to, he takes the boys on it and they have a great time.

Tip: Being one of few thrill-rides in Hollywood Studios the Tower of Terror gets very busy. To be sure to ride I'd recommend either being at the park at opening time (rope-drop) and head over there straight away or book your Fastpass+ in advance.


Photo of the Hollywood Tower which features the Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios. The sky is a clear blue, there are trees blocking the view of the Tower.



Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith


I have never been on this, I refuse. Not only is it a coaster that goes upside down but it's some in the dark too. Nope. Not gonna happen! But the Hubby loves it, and again being one of the two thrill-rides in Hollywood Studios it's very popular.

Hop inside a gleaming, super-stretch limo and hold on tight as you take off at a whopping 60 miles per hour into the Los Angeles night on your way to the big show—hard-rockin’ grooves of Aerosmith echoing all around you.

Hubby has tried to convince me to go on this ride lots of times but it's not one I'm in a hurry to try. The last time he got me to go on a ride I screamed the entire time! I know, I'm a big baby but still - the coasters aren't for me I'm afraid. 

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster is a fun ride (apparently) that thrill-seekers will enjoy, and you get to enjoy the music from Aerosmith while you ride!

Tip: Being one of two thrill-rides (currently) in Hollywood Studios it gets busy so be sure to either be there are rope-drop or book your Fastpass+ in advance.





Wait a minute! You are not Mickey Mouse! You are a rat!

Sam the Eagle, Muppet Vision 3D





BP's Favourites


Being much like his dad BP's favourites are the ones I listed above - Tower of Terror and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster



LP's Favourites


Again the same applies for LP, Tower of Terror and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster - the last time we visited was LP's first opportunity to ride Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and he loved it. He cannot wait to try out bigger rides!



As Hollywood Studios is currently updating we're unable to comment on any new rides for the time being. But after summer when we've spent some time familiarising ourselves with the new areas I'll be sure to update this post.


The best rides at Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World - in the opinion of this family of four, with 3 thrill-seekers and one none-rider!


If you're heading to Walt Disney World soon I've got a great freebie just for you. Spending any time in Walt Disney World means you'll need to know all the best rest spots and I've got a printable list just for you.

10 ways to spend quality time with your children

Technology rules our lives these days, and with things like your phone and iPad and the kids' consoles taking up your attention it can be easy to become engrossed in your own things. But if you step back and spend quality time with your children you can both benefit. Sometimes it can be a pain to work out what you can do to spend quality time together and that's why I'm here. Below you can read about 10 ways to spend quality time with your children.

Two boys, teen and a tween, look out of a window. One boy is taking a photo with a camera, they are both looking away from the camera.



Board games


If you're a regular reader you'll know we're big fans of board games. Scrabble, Ticket to Ride, and Colt Express are some of our favourites but we have a growing collection and we always enjoy sitting at our dining table getting ready to play.

Which games you decide to play really depends on the age of your children but you could try Catan and if you have little ones they could be on a team. Or there's Cluedo - a game that LP has just started to play on his own rather than on a team. If you're new to board games I'd start with a simple one, one that everyone can understand and doesn't have complicated rules - Carcassonne is great for this.

Whichever board game you settle on you're sure to have a great time together.



Escape Rooms


This is a new thing we've been trying over the last year or so and it's one we've enjoyed more the more we do it. An Escape Room is where you're locked (not really) into a room and you have to solve clues in order to escape. They usually have a theme, some we've been to have been about Aliens, the Da Vinci Code, Pirates, the list goes on. 

Escape Rooms are a lot of fun and they make you work together to solve the clues. Of all the Escape Rooms we've tried I don't think there's been one when we didn't all contribute. It's one of those things that needs everyone to pitch in. We've talked about it often and decided that we needed everyone there, if we hadn't had all of us trying to figure out the puzzles then we wouldn't have escaped.

The great thing about Escape Rooms is that everyone thinks about things in different ways and even someone as young as LP (9 years old), who often gets to go in for free, can contribute by noticing things that we wouldn't.

We have tried Escape Rooms in Derby, Nottingham, and Stoke-on-Trent, and the more we do the more used to the puzzles we get - meaning it's easier to escape! I'd definitely recommend this for spending some quality time together.



Computer games


Have you ever played computer games with your children? We don't do this very often but when we do we have fun. MarioKart is a classic multiplayer game and our boys love it when we play with them. It's a game that takes me back because I remember playing when I was young - I never win but that's not the point is it?





The soul is healed by being with children.

Fyodor Dostoevsky





Just Dance is a good one that will not only get you involved in playing games with your children but it will also get you off the sofa! We bought it for Christmas and LP LOVES it, I've had a few dance-offs with him and he's getting better. I'm always tired out when the song is finished but it's good fun and will have you laughing together.



Day trips


School holidays are a great time for day trips but they can also be done at weekends. They don't have to cost the earth either - there are lots of places you can visit for free, like your local park. Some of our day trips have included going to Blackpool where LP enjoys going on the beach. We spent a weekend in London last summer where we visited the SeaLife Centre and went on the London Eye. And just last week we visited Warwick Castle and walked around looking at the suits of armour and wandering around the 950 year-old castle. 

Day trips give you the chance to be together while enjoying the entertainment of somewhere new. They allow you to talk about things you wouldn't ordinarily and that also means you get to know your children a little better.

The view of London, the Shard and the River Thames.



Watch movies


If you're feeling lazy why not opt for a movie night? There are plenty of movies you can watch with your children that you can all enjoy. I have a list of my favourite movies to watch with the boys and they're not just the animated ones either, although the animated ones are sometimes best! 

Make a proper night of it, buy snacks (popcorn is essential) and have drinks (cans work great), then you can all settle down - perhaps with a blanket - and watch a great movie. Afterwards make a point of talking about the movie, that way you get to chat to your children after having quiet time.

I've found that this is a great way to get to know my children's thoughts on certain topics, like the health of sea animals (thanks Finding Nemo, Finding Dory). Some of the best ways to bring up subjects with your children is to watch a movie and then talk about what you've watched. When we first watched Finding Nemo it gave us a chance to discuss what would happen to them if they ever got lost. 



Bowling


A fantastic, fun, family activity (now there's some alliteration!) that everyone will enjoy. We love bowling and even LP, who is very competitive, doesn't mind not beating everyone. For LP we tell him to focus on beating himself - he remembers his score from last time he played and then tries to beat it. This stops him from getting grumpy because he can't beat his brother or his dad (he almost always beats me) and it gives him something else to focus on. For BP and the Hubby they can get into their own competitions, BP tries his best to beat his dad but rarely manages it. As for me - it's just a chance for me to see my family enjoying themselves all together. 



Build forts


LP had a fort kit a few years ago that allowed him to build small forts - they were never big enough for the Hubby or me but he loved them all the same. For Christmas we bought him a new set, one that works with his current set so now he can build bigger forts. We also got a huge tarpaulin that goes over the top of the frame so I don't need to raid the linen cupboard for sheets!

Building a fort is a great way to encourage learning, let them build the fort with your help if they need it. You get to be there for them but also allow them to make mistakes and work out how to correct them. The best thing about building forts together is seeing your children's faces when they realise they have built a fort without much help from you. It is the best.



Play mini-golf


What I love about playing mini-golf is it's not a whole day thing - it can take up just one morning and you could go for food afterwards! We've been to Lost Adventure Golf in Nottingham - the place we visit most often when we want to play mini-golf - we've also been to Intu Derby and Highfields Golf in Nottingham too. 

A young boy hits a golf ball, his back is to the camera.


I could talk about how mini-golf teaches your children about controlling a golf ball or something but to be honest it's all about the fun for us. We're all a bit rubbish at golf (although I can be pretty good at times!) but we have fun. We laugh when someone can't putt the ball and we enjoy the time together away from technology. And when it's all over we go for food so we can fill ourselves with food that is bad for us while we smile and laugh together some more.





Children learn to smile from their parents.

Shinichi Suzuki





Walking


I cannot recommend this enough. Walking is a big part of our lives, what with trying to lose weight (the Hubby and me) and wanting the boys to get outdoors we spend a lot of time walking. It's not great when the weather is bad, but it doesn't stop us going outdoors.

We are lucky to live near a canal so we have miles of flat paths we could walk along close by, but we also like to walk in new places. We've been to Dovedale where there are miles of paths to walk along, we've walked along the canal in Stoke-on-Trent, we've even walked into Nottingham from our home which is about 15 miles. 

It takes time, don't get me wrong, but when you have a day when the sun is shining and you can walk for hours along a lovely canal-side path it does amazing things. Your children open up and start talking, they ask questions that wouldn't occur to them when in the car and you get to talk about topics that you might not otherwise. Whenever we go for walks we always end up talking and we can cover topics like economics, science, geography - all sorts. If I had to suggest just one thing for you to do with your children it would be this - go for a walk. It is free, gets you outdoors exercising, and you get to spend quality time with your children away from technology.



Have dinner together


It is so easy to sit in front of the TV to eat your dinner - the cooking takes time and you don't want to listen to any more bickering right? But something funny happens when you sit around the dinner table to eat. The children behave (for the most part), you get to enjoy the meal you cooked, and you get to chat.

As with the walking we often discuss random topics over dinner and it can grow into a huge discussion that will last into the evening. I love these times because it means we've interested our children in a topic and they want to know more. Just recently we were discussing business, how someone would go about setting up a business and the kind of challenges they face - like raising money. I think it is one of those times when the children are learning but they don't realise it - it's one of the best ways to teach them. 


There you have it, 10 ways to spend quality time with your children. Some require money and some don't but they all need you to be present. Put down the phone, turn off the consoles, and spend time together.

You won't regret it.

How do you spend quality time with your children?

10 ways to spend quality time with your children - it is so important to take time out with them!


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