Monday, 24 February 2014

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Muddypaws' New Friends - Parragon Book Buddies

I love being a member of Parragon's Book Buddies, it's introduced Squeaky and I to all sorts of books that we may not otherwise have found, and they've matched so well with her interests it's like they can read our minds.  In fact she took last month's book, Everybody Loves Butterflies in to school a couple of weeks ago for a book day where the children all shared their favourite bedtime stories & the teacher declared it the prettiest book in the class.  That might be because she hasn't yet seen this month's book - Muddypaws' New Friends.
 Muddypaws, our hero, is an adorable Labrador or Golden Retriever type puppy (I'm never too sure), and the book follows his adventures with his best friend, Ben, when Ben takes him to Puppy School, where he meets two more very cute and cheeky puppies.  Mischief and hilarity inevitably ensue.

What really surprised me about this book was how accurate the illustrations are.  Full page illustrations throughout the book, and they are far from the cartoon style pictures you usually expect from children's books, the dogs look real.  Not photography real, but like actual art type illustrations, I can't think of another way to describe them.  I almost thought this might put Squeaky off a little, maybe being a bit too old for her, but I was wrong. She loves Muddypaws and his friends, and we've spent even more time than normal playing puppies and puppy training.  It's a great book for lighting up her imagination, and she adores imaginative and pretend play

The only drawback I can see with this gorgeous book is the increasing demands for a puppy of her own. It's certainly helping her get over her fear of dogs, and helping her understanding that different people (puppies, etc) learn at different paces, and that's just fine.  The difficulty with bringing up a bright spark is they can struggle to understand why others can't keep up, and it's led to a few uncomfortable questions about why so-and-so can't do this when she can and it's really easy.

I am learning so much from being a parent, and reading with Squeaky. As a child, I believed almost all books, with the exception of very obviously non-fiction books, were just for entertainment.  Now I'm sharing books with Squeaky I can see how the vast majority are a learning opportunity, not just learning to read, but learning about different subjects, relationships, people. Where it's hard sometimes to spark a conversation on a subject, there's undoubtedly a book on the shelf that will help.  One of Muddypaws' friends is a Bassett puppy, so we had a chat about how I had a Bassett Hound just like that when I was a little girl.  Cue questions about "where was I when you were a little girl, Mummy?"  Ah well, that was inevitable I guess.  Stick to easier subjects next time, Mummy!

(Oh, and a quick explanation for some slightly looking photos this time around.  I got a new phone last week, I'm still working out how it all works, but it certainly seems to have some interesting ideas about what shape a photo should be.  Any experts on LG phones, please help!)

Saturday, 1 February 2014

I Wish I Was There...

In the interests of full disclosure, I'm writing this post whilst half watching the opening match of this year's Six Nations rugby.  And considering the weather, which has been a hailstorm all morning, I certainly don't wish I was there at the Millennium Stadium.  Far too cold.

Instead, I wish I was here...

Regular readers, and personal friends will recognise this photo, because I absolutely love it.  The photo was taken in  Neos Marmaras, Halkidiki, Greece, when I'd just got off a boat trip.  Boats are totally not my scene, I don't do boats without extreme terror, but this boat trip was the only way to see places on the other peninsulas so I put on my big girl pants, got on board and sat below deck crying.  We stopped here in Neos Marmaras, and the rest of the tour group spent their time exploring chic boutiques and coffee shops, whereas I just made the most of being on dry land again.  We walked up a little hill, and I spotted this view between two houses, out over the bay, and froze.  It just epitomises everything Greek to me, that shade of blue, the whitewashed walls, it's just everything Greek.  I can almost taste the glass of ouzo.

Right now, with the hailstones rattling against the window, and the winter showing no signs of letting up, this where I really wish I was.  The photo was taken in the years pre-Squeaky, but I just know she'd love Greece as much as I do, the beaches, the food, the dancing, though she'll have to wait a good few more years before the ouzo!

What about you? Are you keeping yourself going through the winter months by looking back over your summer snaps?  Where do you wish you were right now?  Thomson Al Fresco want to know, and they've got a competition to win a Nikon D3200 DSLR camera for sharing your wishes.

Disclosure: This is my entry to the Thomson Al Fresco Wish I Was There competition.  I have not been compensated for the post.