Monthly Archives: April 2012

Arrr! Treasure! Geocaching 101

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Arrr! Treasure! Geocaching 101

Now listen up, muggles. You are about to get initiated into a ‘secret’ pastime that is getting more and more popular. With the increase of smartphone technology and easy to use sat-nav apps, I predict this will be a big, big hit this summer. (It’s taking long enough!)

Geocaching can be simply described as ‘high-tech treasure hunting’ using satellite navigation or GPS co-ordinates. You go to http://www.geocaching.com choose a fun place to go, find the satellite coordinates of the hidden treasure box, put them in your sat nav, GPS, and go find it!

You would not believe how many little treasure boxes there are hidden around the world, or indeed your local area. We’ve been geocaching since the babies were tiny,  pushing the buggy through inches of mud and up steep hills, all to find a watertight box filled with all kinds of toys, from your cheap cracker toys to marbles and geocoins and Happy meal toys….still not convinced? OK, well, the kids love it!

You get fresh air, exercise, and the chance to discover great new places off the beaten track.

I have just as much fun, if not more, from hiding treasure boxes. I hid two boxes at either end of Meanwood Valley Urban Farm  and called them Old McDonalds Farm, the idea being I filled them up with McDonalds Happy Meal toys and children could take their own to swap. I’ve also hidden one that was dolls’ house miniatures (called little treasures, I think.)

Then there’s travel bugs, which get taken from cache to cache on some kind of mission. On behalf of British Thyroid Foundation, I’ve sent a hare and a tortoise on a race up to Edinburgh in time for Gardening Scotland.

I’ve hidden another lovely box of pirate treasure near a pirate ship in a great little playpark near Wetherby. It’s surrounded by quirky shops that used to be underground munitions stores. Now they look like tellytubby land, all rolling hills with doors in them.

Husband loves it because it’s all about the numbers – How many geocaches can we get in a year? How many counties can we cover? How many first to finds (FTFs)? He even has a map and graph and everything! Ah, the geeks will inherit the earth!

The kids love it because they’ll walk for miles for the mere hint of treasure. They take a toy with them to swap with the toys in the box. So before you start thinking “hey, I can get rid of all those rubbish plastic toys!” Think again. It’s super fun though; you may even get a kick out of it yourself.

And I love it because it makes an essentially boring physical activity – walking – into a relatively interesting one, and we’ve found all sorts of weird and wonderful places we would never have known about.

If you want to learn more about this fascinating pastime, go to www.geocaching.com

and here is more details on obtaining the app on android with thanks to Three and Prima baby expert

App-y daze are here again!

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App-y daze are here again!

credit knowyourmobile.com

Last week, I went to London for a photoshoot for Prima Baby . Five mums have been chosen by Prima Baby Expert to review apps on the

(provided courtesy of Three.co.uk ) and each phone has been loaded up with apps to help with their “mummy issues”.

I will be having training tomorrow to get the most out of my new smartphone,

but for now, I’ve compiled a Mummy Dream Wishlist

of new apps to make all our lives easier:

Housework App – a housework fairy that cleans and cooks? All for 69p?

Sleep App – to help u get a good night’s sleep (or the best you can, anyway)

Fit App – keep fit in your sleep….What?! No-one’s invented that yet? Oh well, better try these instead:

My Fitness Pal  – track calories, exercise and weight loss.

(This app has a huge database of foods so it’s easy to look up nutritional info and plan your meals.)

Nike Boom – will sync your music to your workout depending on tempo. Also offers motivational tecniques from top athletes.

Fit Radio – “DJ-engineered” music to amp up your workout.

I also had the rare opportunity to catch up with my gorgeous new baby nephew. We live 4 hours apart, so I was really grateful for the chance to meet up with my brother’s family in London.

It wasn’t pre-planned, but I had photos taken with my beautiful nephew. I’m glad to say, he totally stole my limelight!

My nephew’s such a good boy, and would make a great baby model. He had  a great “conversation” with a baby girl, they were playing footsie and giggling. It was a joy to watch! I wish I could bottle the sound of babies giggling, it’s the most joyous sound in the world.

And when the pictures are published, tongues will be wagging in the playground when the other mums see me with another baby!

Hide the Poo

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Cupcake, anyone?

We’ve been playing this game as a family for a few years now, where we take it in turns to hide a fake plastic poo. The object of the game is to hide it somewhere that will cause much embarrassment and hilarity when discovered by the victim. I can’t remember exactly when and how it started. Probably during those sleepless nights/zombie days, “don’t get out much” phase, it seemed like a fun idea. But now we’ve raised our game to new standards.

We are now on Plastic Poo number 2 (pun intended) as the original was lost in a wonderfully wacky wheeze. I tied the poo to the inside of my son’s swimming shorts so it would rise up and float on the surface as my husband was taking him round the pool at his swimming lessons.

Although my baby son was in on it, the poo failed to deploy until they were in the shower afterwards, which caused a few raised eyebrows in the mens’ changing room, but no real embarrassment among the Boden mums, as was the original plan.

 

Then the poor little poo got caught up in the wet swimming washing and did 15 rounds with the washing machine. This is when we discovered it wasn’t plastic at all, but some composite of starch and paper, so the poo was no more.

For Christmas, my husband received a gorgeous gift box with ribbons, tissue paper, the works. Inside was another beautiful box, and inside that….you guessed it. Enter Poo number 2. Game on.

I was on my way out to an interview in my best coat, but my husband chickened out and told me he’d stuck the poo on the back of my butt. That could have been the best one ever, but as he’s a true gentleman, he couldn’t let me go out looking like that, could he? Or could he?! I have to check all the time, now, just in case!

A PhD in App-ology

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Don Johnson's not-so-smartphone

This Monday, I’ll be mostly in London on a photoshoot. I expect it won’t be quite as glam as it sounds, but still, I’m very excited!

Prima Baby and 3 have chosen  mums to blog every week and test out some apps, showing how they help with various mummy problems.

I’ve been saving my best blogs for when we’re up and running, and will probably include my favourite app of the week (well, I am a media ho after all.)

And by a strange coincidence, I spent yesterday thinking about where my iPod could have got to. It had been missing for two months, and I was sure it was stolen.

But then my son started poking around in the back of the car. After pushing the back seats down and looking underneath, we found the iPod, glistening amongst a treasure trove of marbles, watches, toy cars…oh, and several years’ worth of mouldy snacks and other unrecognisable objects. (I think we may need to call in CSI to rip the car apart and give it a damn good clean.)

Now the iPod can belong to the kids, it’s loaded with games anyway. And I can keep my lovely new smartphone for apps for me me me! So watch this space for useful apps that will make all our lives easier. We hope!

Moshi Monsters Party season

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It’s that time again when I start organising the kids’ party. Their birthdays are fairly close together so I get it over and done with in one go, like ripping off a plaster.  It won’t be till mid June, but I like to spread the cost of all the bits and pieces that add up, like party bags and decorations, etc. (Also helps to sneak things under the wire when hubby starts looking at bank statements!)

I’ve noticed more and more parents are “party sharing” – joining forces with other kids in the class with similar birthdays and sharing costs and organisation. I think that’s such a great idea, as there is the added bonus of freeing up some of our weekends,  so parents don’t have to ferry their kids to party after party. (I know we have to live vicariously through our offspring now we “don’t get out much”, but soft play centres? Pass the parcel?)

This year may be the last year both my kids want the same thing, so I’m making the most of it. Moshi Monsters is so popular amongst kids their age, it’s a given. I just picked up some Moshi plates and cups from Tesco Extra for £1 a set, on offer instore at time of writing.  Online, they have quite a selection to drain away your hard earned.

My kids will only be allowed seven friends each, plus themselves – party packs come in sets of 8. But as I’m thinking about having it at home instead of a venue, ‘only’ 16 kids might be a good idea….*%£&*!!

I say everything comes in packs of 8, but be warned, the invitation cards come in packs of 6 at the moment. I wrote a nice email to the production company Gemma International and bless em, their customer service was superb (how often can you say that?!)

I have to be honest, I love organising my kids parties. I only have to do it once a year, so I go a bit OTT. My husband would be happier if we left it to Wacky Warehouse or something, but I just can’t pass up on an opportunity to do something creative AND fun for the kids. We’ve had a Secret Garden Party in a public outdoor location (it threatened to pour down all the time and the heavens opened 15 mins before the end…never again.) We had a great little pirate party where my fantastic husband got into character (and costume) to take everyone on a treasure hunt, completed with ancient treasure maps and treasure chests. Last year we had a Total Wipeout party in a soft play centre, where we handed out trophies with the goody bags.

And just once a year I make a birthday cake, with varying success. I love the planning the detail,

working out how to make stained glass windows on a gingerbread house,

arguing with my husband which cereal makes the nicest “sand” surrounding a pirate treasure box (it’s Rice Krispies – I told you we don’t get out much) or the heady challenge of making a Total Wipeout course using only mini rolls, licorice torpedoes, chocolate spread and jelly babies.

But my favourite project was making a pinata. Disgusted by the price you’d pay for an empty pinata, I decided to make a massive one using papier mache and a full size space hopper. I spent many a sunny afternoon finally reading all those newspapers I never got round to reading (OK, so they were ripped up into squares and covered in paste, but I got the gist of what was going on in the world a month ago.) When I finished, it was It was ENORMOUS! It was also indestructible, so this year, I’m in charge of pinata and everyone can beat the hell out of it. Last year it was a bumble bee. This year?

Jeepers the Moshling (same colours!)

Jeepers the Moshling

PS I’ve been asked to organise parties for other people’s kids in the past. Much as I love it, it’s exhausting and terrifying (like bringing up kids, I guess) so please, please don’t ask me. You can’t afford me.