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Having a Family Movie Night?

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Why not take a look at what we've been eating?

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Blogger Day at Bletchley Park

With it being the start of the Half Term holiday for us here at A Mother's Ramblings, I thought it wise to recount back some of the information I learnt at a recent event I went to with the children. Well I say recent, it was during the Summer Holidays, but it's apt for now as if your children are anything like mine then the next week is going to be filled with requests to go on the computer or games consoles and well the event was an eye opener to how safe we all are online.

We spent the day at Bletchley Park, which as you may know is where the Government Code and Cypher School studied and devised methods to enable the Allied forces to decipher the military codes and ciphers that secured German, Japanese, and other Axis nation’s communications. Remember that film Enigma? It's just like that, but with less Kate Winslet and more local people not having a clue what went on there and treating the people that worked there quite badly because they didn't realise they were actually doing some pretty important work.

Big Boy on guard at Bletchley Park

We toured the entire site, which was great because despite living quite close to the park I've only ever been for the Firework displays and a few self tours and so I didn't know that there was an unexploded bomb in the courtyard. The great thing for Top Ender was that she could have her own tour of the park using the iPod Touch Multimedia guide.

Big Boy and Top Ender showing off the Bletchley Park iPod Touch Multimedia guides

We had a good play in the McAfee Cyber Security Exhibition, which highlighted a lot of bad habits I've picked up... I mean I bet most of you could name my sister, my maiden name and the name of my pets, which tend to be the sorts of things that people use as passwords right? Actually I don't and I bet you don't either, but you know the idea I'm getting at and the answer to the question posed in the photograph below is quite scary when you think about it.

What could a stranger find out about you on the internet?

The end of the day saw all the bloggers and children take part in a Safety Workshop and compete to see who could name the most online apps and online logo things, Merry (of Patch of Puddles and Merrily Me fame) and I kinda misunderstood and spent ages doing one sheet but were surprised at how many we did and didn't know. Honestly, there are more dating apps and scary apps for scary people that may want to *see* more of other people than I realised! I live such a sheltered life, but it can't be that sheltered as I did manage to guess most of them correctly... I blame my single friends.

The worry thing was that Top Ender, at only aged 10 had a pretty good knowledge of what all the apps were. Most of them were normal good girl apps, such as Blogger, Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Skype, Tumblr and the like. You know the sort of websites and apps that she has on her tablet and phone and sees me use and so of course uses herself, but she surprised me knowing a few more that I didn't recognise. I guess however, that it shouldn't have come as a surprise that she came first in the Children for naming apps and I came first in the Adults... me thinks we might spend a little too much time online!

Top Ender on the iPod Touch Multimedia guide at Bletchley Park

I know that online safety is taught at School, and I know that Daddy is forever telling the children about how to stay safe online too and ensures that our virus scans are done and up to date and he takes care of all the back ups and the like BUT after we had finished for the day and were on our way home the children and I chatted about our online safety and we realised that what we'd been learning the whole day was really important and serious.

Here are some Top Tips for protecting your child online

Speak regularly: 


Speak to your children regularly about the sites that they are using and keep an eye on security settings so you can make a judgement on whether the sites they are viewing are suitable. Research from McAfee and the Anti-Bullying Alliance found that over half of 14-15 year olds are hiding their online activity from their parents, with over a fifth actively deleting their browsing history. If the communication channels are open with your child, they are more likely to speak to you if things may be bothering them.

Educate early and often: 


As soon as your children start using the internet make sure that they understand about how to stay safe online – don’t accept friendship requests from people you don’t know, verify requests if they look to be coming from someone you do know, never agree to a private chat with a stranger and never post your mobile phone number or home address online for all to see.

Be password protected: 


It’s vital that your child understands the value of having secure passwords to any social media accounts that they may have set up. If they learn this discipline early, it will set them up for life! For example, never share your password with anyone (even their friends) and make sure it is something memorable to you, but not something someone could guess easily. Furthermore, encourage your children to change their passwords regularly to keep their accounts safe.

Communication: 


Try and be open and approachable, that way your children will come to you if they have a problem. talk to your kids about how they use their computers and smartphones and ask about any concerns they might have. Be prepared to field any questions they may ask – there are plenty of online resources available to help support you in answering tough and delicate questions.

Block and report: 


Don’t suffer in silence. Research from McAfee and the Anti-Bullying Alliance found that 34 per cent of 14-15 year olds had witnessed cruel behaviour online. If there is anything worrying your child, take measures to block these offenders from their accounts and report them if necessary. Furthermore, it is valuable to save the evidence; your instinct may be to encourage your child to delete upsetting comments, however make sure you save screenshots so you are able to report the culprit if this is necessary.

Do you have anything else to add about keeping safe online?
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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Beaver Camp

When Big Boy's Beaver troop was asked if they'd like to go on an overnight camp, sleeping in a local Museum, Big Boy was excited. So excited that he forgot our pact to never ever go camping and immediately it was all he could talk about. It was also agreed, that to make things easier on the leaders at the camp it would be much more sensible for Daddy or I to go as a helper to BB's troop as we could take care of BB's medical needs. Without the drawing of straws or the flipping of a coin I volunteered to go because having a DBS check (thanks to being a governor) kinda proved that I'm safe around children.

Big Boy in his Beavers gear

Despite hating camping, I thought of myself as being really lucky, because I'm sure that every parent of a Beaver has wondered just what happens on camp and I was going to be able to experience it! When we got to camp the boys from the troop decided where we were going to sleep and luckily for us they decided that we should sleep in the Computer Room, rather than in the Cobbled Street. So our bed for the night was in front of a bank of telephone exchanges.

Sleeping in front of the Telephone exchanges

We went for a night hike, to a local Windmill and I have to admit it was rather fun walking with all the Beavers and Leaders in the dark and using our torches to light the way.

A night hike to a Windmill in Milton Keynes

When we got back, after a quick round of soup and bread rolls we all sat down to watch a film. Or rather those of the Beavers who weren't already falling asleep, like BB watched a film (Night at the Museum by the way). I agreed with the leader, that as the other two boys in the troop were still awake and enjoying the film, I'd take BB back to our sleeping area and she'd watch the film with them. BB got ready for bed and was asleep in seconds. When the boys and the leader came back, they too got ready for bed and soon they were fast asleep. Every two hours I woke up to test BB's blood sugars (he was high because of the excitement) and check on the other boys. 

Big Boy asleep on Beavers Camp

BB woke up at 6am, and lay in his camp bed until 7am, when the troop leader woke up the other boys and everyone got ready for breakfast. Big Boy loved the first breakfast, (Yes, first breakfast, he had two) of Cereal and despite never eating the stuff at home, was soon tucking into a packet. I'm sure that it was something to do with having the milk in the box that made it so appealing.

Big Boy eating Cereal from a packet

After a second breakfast of Bacon and Sausage Butties, (my first breakfast!) we spent the morning carrying out various challenges such as writing our names in morse code, transmitting messages in Morse code, translating morse code messages, making phone calls, sending emails and a lot of other challenges before lunch (Burgers and Hot Dogs). 

After lunch we did a finished a few more challenges and the hour or so before parents were due to pick up their children was filled with camp fire songs (complete with dodgy actions), various games and looking round at the leaders and children I could see the appeal of camping. I could even see the appeal of being a leader in Beavers. Of course getting home and being in my own bed was even better than camp in my opinion, but Big Boy seems to think Camp was the best and is already counting down the days until Christmas Camp. I guess I'm going to that too.
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Friday, 24 October 2014

Keema Inspired Sloppy Joes

If you saw my blog post about Keema, then you'll know it's basically an indian mince. It has various spices in, that make it tasty but not too spicy (well depending on how many chillies you put in!) and the good news is that when you use the Keema as a base for dishes that use mince as a basic ingredient, such as Spaghetti Bolognese or Shepherd's Pie it adds a new twist to family favourites. I spoke to Daddy and we thought about what we could turn the Keema into that we would enjoy, that our children would enjoy and what would be something worthy of winning the competition too (nudge nudge, go vote for me!).

Keema Ingredients Hamper

We thought about what it was that was in the Keema, and it was when I said that there was cumin, we knew what we had to make it, what we were going to turn it in to. Baked Sloppy Joes! We really love Sloppy Joes, and one of the spices in the recipe we make is Cumin, so we thought it would mix well. Daddy decided to make the dinner, mainly because he loves making Baked Sloppy Joes. We added more tomatoes to the Keema, and we didn't add in all the chillies as the children wouldn't eat it if they were all in there (they are seriously bad with the chillies!). Whilst we were at it we also added a little more onion, because who doesn't love onion and mince together?

Keema about to be turned into Baked Sloppy Joes

We put it in a dish, and added slices of gluten free bread rolls on top, which we had spread Garlic Butter on (home made!) and then added slices of Mozzarella to the top of the slices of bread rolls and basically that was it before we threw it into the oven.

Keema inspired Baked Sloppy JoesKeema inspired Baked Sloppy Joes covered in cheesy garlic bread

As soon as the meal was cooked (around fifteen minutes as the Keema was already cooked) we served it. The Children didn't realise that there was anything different in the sloppy joes, but Daddy and I could tell that there was and really enjoyed this slightly spicier version of what is becoming a classic in our home.

Keema inspired Baked Sloppy Joes with cheesy garlic bread

This version of the Baked Sloppy Joes is going to be in regular rotation in our house. What would you make with the Keema if you were making dinner for your family?

We were sent the ingredients for Keema, and added our own extras to give it our own special touch.
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Thursday, 23 October 2014

A Spooky Bostik Craft Time

When the box of craft items arrived from Craft Merrily and Bostik I was super excited, surely this would be the month that I looked in the box and someone had handily written a sneaky note giving the children and I some ideas of things to make with the brilliant craft items. I eagerly opened the box and found out that, no. They hadn't.

Family Craft Bloggers Network

It was quite late when I opened the box, the children were in bed and as I sat on my bed looking through the items and hoping for some inspiration when I started fiddling with a piece of wool whilst watching TV and ended up somehow without thinking about it, creating a pumpkin!

Wool Pumpkin

I was so proud of myself. I had no idea how I made it, but working "backwards" I figured out that I had been sort of making a pom pom and had been wrapping the wool round a wedge of cardboard. I'd then used a little part of a pipe cleaner to fix the bottom together and a little binding to fix the top together and create a stalk.

I'm going to let my hands do more crafting without engaging my brain in the future.

The other thing that I managed to do was create a little monster leaf, by sticking eyes to a leaf, using the glue pen. This craft took on new meaning the next day when a few other bloggers decided to borrow my idea and they created monster leaves with their children.  

Monster Leaf

I'm so pleased that my little joke to brighten up the children's lunch, caused inspiration in others. I feel like my work is done.

Monster Leaf

And of course I can't finish this blog post without mentioning the spooky eyes that I made using Bostik Glue dots and a cheap set of lights from a £1 shop...

Spooky Monster Eyes

They are being turned into something rather spooky for Halloween, so watch this space!

We were sent the items as part of the Bostik Family Craft Bloggers Network.
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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

K'NEX Construction Toys- Could you be the next ultimate K’NEXPERT builder? #Review

I never had any K'NEX as a child, I remember one of my cousins did as I played with it one rainy afternoon when there was a family party happening downstairs and us children had got rather bored. I think I had high aspirations of building a working Ferris Wheel like on the box, but I think in the end all I ended up doing was making some random works of art. When K'NEX asked if we'd like a box to have a go at trying to be one of their ultimate K’NEXPERT builders I said yes, hoping that the children would be inspired, instead they looked at me as if I'd gone crazy!

K'NEX Construction Set

Of course as I explained what it was that they were supposed to do they looked a little more interested, but the box was left alone for most of the Summer. Big Boy was seen however, emptying it out on the floor and placing things in size order, one rainy afternoon!

Pile of K'NEX

So it seems that for us as much as we love the idea of K'NEX, that the reality is unless Mummy or Daddy plays with it, it's going to go unplayed with. At least that's what we thought until I opened up the box last night to have a play myself and found this Ice Cream inside!

K'NEX Ice Cream

It seems, that either Top Ender or Big Boy (my money is on Big Boy) did have a go!

If you or your family think that you could be the next ultimate K’NEXPERT builder, then enter the competition which will be judged by a panel of experts including David Church of Royal British Legion Industries, with 15 years K’NEX building experience including the construction of a life-sized Monster Truck, and Joe Smith, Chief Development Officer at K’NEX.

The judging panel will be looking for originality and creativity when searching for their winners. The hunt for the ultimate K’NEXPERT builders in the UK is open until October 31st 2014, so you haven't long to submit a photo of your construction, plus up to 200 words on how they came up with the idea and how many K’NEX pieces were used. Full entry information and terms and conditions can be found at www.knex.co.uk.
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