family

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A couple of weeks ago, we were surprised with a sunny, warm weekend day. We were determined to get outdoors and enjoy the sunshine. We remembered that a few months ago we had gotten a family membership to the Historic Royal Palaces. We had only used it once so decided to visit Hampton Court Palace again.

If you're not familiar with Hampton Court Palace, it is the former residence of Henry VIII. It is incredibly beautiful and grand. But if you have young children, you may want to skip the palace itself and just enjoy the stunning grounds. We did go inside the palace, but only for about 20 minutes. The sunshine was calling us.

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Who hasn't heard of the famous, and very wealthy, Phileas Fogg and his plan to circumnavigate the globe in 80 days?! Jules Verne's acclaimed novel was written over 100 years ago, and is just as exciting today. Around The World In Eighty Days is brought to life (and adapted) by Laura Eason and is currently touring the UK in a live show.

The show starts off in Victorian London and follows Pileas Fogg and his valet Passepartout as they try to travel around the world within 80 days to win a bet. There are eight actors who play over 125 characters and they transport the audience on exciting adventures as they travel on trains, boats and even on a elephant.

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I don't want my children to become slaves to technology. There's nothing like an old-fashioned pen and paper. But then again, I am raising modern kids, and modern kids love electronics. So when the lovely folks from Leapfrog offered us the LeapStart system, I was intrigued. I'm always interested in ways to foster my children's love of learning.

Dubz loves school. He loves learning to read and write, though it is not something that comes easily to him. But he is always happy to give it his best. Long-term readers might remember that Dubz had speech and language delays due to glue ear, which means that he's only been speaking for about two years. Dubz will be five an a half next month, and I really wanted to give him a little help with his reading.

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While our family outings are normally in London and Surrey, sometimes we go farther afield. Last month we ventured to Oxfordshire to visit Blenheim Palace. Not only is it the birth place of Sir Winston Churchill, but it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And it is truly magnificent.

When you drive into Blenheim Palace, you can't help but feel awe of this fantastic palace and the lake and grounds. And when you enter the palace grounds, this feeling does not go away. As an American, I did not grow up visiting palaces and stately homes. And to be honest, my children are probably not that impressed since we have visited so many. But I can't help but be dazzled by beautiful architecture and landscaped gardens. It is a glimpse of a decadent time.

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Last Thursday started off as a good day. After school, we went to the school's adventure playground. We've been going most days and enjoying the good weather, while we can. Everything was going well, until Moozles ran over in tears saying that her brother was hurt. He had climbed up on the decking and had fallen down. I rushed over to find Dubz unconscious and then the fitting began. I can honestly say that I've never been so scared. I am not religious, but I started praying that he would be okay. He came to in less than a minute, which was a huge relief.

Luckily the mums and teachers around were quick to act. They called an ambulance, kept him in the recovery position and one of my friends took Moozles to her house. Dubz was in a bit of pain, and had wet himself, but luckily he kept still until the ambulance arrived. In a neck brace, and on a stretcher, the ambulance took us to St George's hospital in Tooting. The last time we were there was over five years ago, when Dubz was born.

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Tom hates bedtime. It is so boring. But one night he hears a noise outside. There are girl pirates trying to steal the front of his house (to disguise their pirate ship, obviously). Tom and the fearless girl pirates embark on an adventure to find the naughty grown-up pirates who have been going around town stealing priceless objects. And this is the story of The Night Pirates, now on at the Rose Theatre Kingston.

Yesterday I took Dubz and Moozles to Kingston to watch this fearless and fun family show. Dubz is five so he loves all things pirates. At nine, Moozles was not fussed about going until she found out that there were girl pirates. We love a bit of girl power so we were excited to see some females taking charge.

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My son had a birthday party at Hobbledown today, so we all went. It's been about a year since the last time we were all there (we normally split up for birthday parties). Last year, Dubz was just about to begin Reception and I remember being so nervous and excited for this big step in his life.

Today, things felt different. Dubz is so much more confident than he was a year ago. Today we took advantage of the sunshine to run around the high ropes and the soft play. As we were leaving, I snapped this photo of Moozles and Dubz. The light looked so lovely. And the kids looked quite sweet and a bit grown-up.

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My family had our first Eurocamp holiday in May (we went to La Garangeoire). Beforehand, I spent ages googling what to pack. We didn't do traditional camping as we stayed in a holiday home. This meant that we didn't have to take everything. But I wanted to pack wisely so that the car wasn't overly, and uncomfortably, full. So I thought I would offer my own Packing Checklist for any of you planning to visit Eurocamp.

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Husband has been desperate to visit Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for ages. I wasn't really sure if Moozles and Dubz would enjoy a day looking at old boats, so I had been putting it off. But I thought that this summer would be the right time to have go for a visit. Dubz is now five and Moozles is nine, both at an age where they enjoy learning and don't throw that many tantrums. So a couple of weeks ago, we drove down to Portsmouth.

When I hear 'dockyard', I think of water and boats, but the thoughts aren't very exciting. I have to say that the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard was more than I was expecting. Before you arrive into the dockyard, you see the HMS Warrier 1860 looking quite grand on the water. When you enter the docks, you can choose what you want to do first. We went to the HMS Victory as we thought it would be less busy in the morning. Husband has quite a few memories of visiting the dockyard as a child and was keen to see the Victory again. So we climbed aboard and explored the ship.

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We are more than halfway through the summer holidays. And while I find the first two weeks always goes smoothly, the third week gets a bit tense. And if the weather is rainy, it seems to make things worse. We're all getting a bit sick of one another, and I can't seem to get anything done. So on a day of craziness and non-stop fighting, I  booked Moozles and Dubz onto Fit For Sport.

First of all, let me be clear. My nine-year old daughter does not like holiday camps. Or actually, she doesn't like the thought of them. Moozles would rather spend the day lazing about in bed reading books or watching Netflix on the iPad. But my five year old son needs constant exercise. And truhtfully, so does my daughter, though she doesn't realise it. In fact, I think most children are happier when they've spent a lot of time walking, running and climbing around.

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