Blog : Little Lilypad Co

 frog-facebook     frog-instagram   frog-pintrest  frog-twitter

 

 

 

The Little Lilypad is a lifestyle blog mostly written by a mum to two beautiful, cheeky and entertaining daughters. It is sometimes written by the Man on the Pad or our baby bloggers and occasionally we accept guest posts. There is frequently talk of shoes and clothing (we love fashion and savvy shopping), chocolate (who doesn't love chocolate) education and swimming (we love this too). It is hopefully helpful, sometimes funny and always honest.

search engine by freefind advanced

 RSS Feed

  1. This is a question I wish I had queried more prior to our visit this weekend!

    We booked to go to Lapland for a Winter Wonderland day trip, it wasn't a review or press trip and we paid for the trip with hard earned money and after many friends asking if I would recommend it, I wanted to give a balanced and honest opinion of the trip. We chose to travel with Transun as they are specialist in these experience trips and we were excited by the sales blurb on the website ..

    "Imagine spending the day in Santa's kingdom - flying from an airport near you - and still being home in time for supper. For our Walking in a Winter Wonderland day break, we take you to a magical location in the far north of Finnish Lapland, close to a vast snow-covered wilderness and a million miles from other overcrowded and over commercialised Lapland destinations. Here you will experience a magical and unforgettable search for Santa's secret hideaway and each family will have an opportunity to make a private visit to talk with him in his cabin. Plus, a chance to sample reindeer rides, snowmobiles and husky dog sleds"

    So what did we think?

    The day didn't start well with the computers not working properly at Birmingham Airport and some families being seated far away from each other on the plane. Not an ideal start for a family adventure! The flight was turbulent, but you can't control the weather, so we just sat back and relaxed.

    We arrived in Finland and it was COLD. I know that sounds a ridiculous thing to say but you don't realise quite how cold minus 16 is until you are standing around in it but we had taken our own snow suits, although they were provided by the operator for those that hadn''t got their own. The journey from the airport to our magical destination took a 50 minute coach journey through the picturesque snow covered woodland and we had great fun trying to spot elves and reindeer in the woods, so the time flew by.

    Despite only being lunchtime, the sun was setting and our guide told us that they only had 3 hours of sunlight that day but the reflective light from the snow kept it lighter for just a bit longer.

    Lapland

    Our itinerary for the day consisted of:

    • Snowmobile trip
    • Husky Sled Journey
    • Reindeer sleigh ride
    • Search for Santa
    • Private family meeting with Santa
    • Gift for children
    • Two course lunch
    • Snow activities: tobogganing, snowballing and snowman-making

    So once we were suited and booted the girls couldn't wait to get into the snow. We were left to our own devices after our very basic one course meal but the girls soon spyed a real reindeer and the eldest couldn't wait to have a sleigh ride. (The little one was a bit intimiated so she opted out).

     Lapland Reindeer

    We were left for two hours to our own devices, sledging, on the snowmobiles, building snowmen and riding the sleigh but the snow was coming down thick and fast and we were starting to get cold. (it was minus 16 degrees after all).

    We took a little look at the gift shop to warm up a bit although it ended up being more than a little treacherous due to a shiny floor (not ideal for people wearing snow boots) and bought a couple of souveniers because obviously the girls need more cuddly toys!!

    Eventually it was time to go and search for Santa and we walked down to the frozen lake (much less scary than it sounds). The eldest took a husky dog ride that she loved so much, she did it twice but by this point in the day it was so dark that the little one was becoming very tired and a bit scared. We were then told there was a bit of a delay with the sledges to take us to Santa but we could all get round the fire to keep warm but unfortunately a fire big enough for 5 or 6 people is not ideal when you have 20 or so cold children. 

     Lapland 2

    After an hour standing around on the frozen lake, we finally met the "real" Santa and he was everything you could wish for. He was engaging with the children and had some great banter with "Snowflake" the Elf. Both girls received skipping ropes from Santa, with hand carved handles that really could have been made by the elves.

    We eventually got back to the airport amid a snowstorm but were pleasantly surprised to board the plane, everyone assuming that you must get used to flying in this weather when you charter a flight to Lapland, unfortunately we may have boarded the plane on time but we sat on the runway for a further 2 hours. The cabin crew tried to be helpful but soon ran out of drinks and snacks, which was not helpful on a plane full of tired, hungry and thirsty children. The pilot turned the engines off so for a while we sat in the dark with no air con on and in no time the plane became very hot and stuffy with upset children. The cheers and clapping when we finally took off an hour and a half later was a relief to know we were safely on our way home. 

    We paid £1200.00 for the day. Together with the itinerary above the price included the return flights with hot meals on board, all taxes and government air passenger duty, thermal suits and boots. (which we didn't use but useful option if you wanted minimal luggage). There are some people that think that is a ludicrous price for a day trip but when over half of British parents lie to their children to keep the spirit of Father Christmas alive, we saw this as an opportunity to keep the magic alive, especially for my eldest.

    The downsides of the trip in my mind were:

    • A large part of the day felt disorganised.
    • The facilities did not cater to young children.
    • Leaving small children on an ice lake for an hour is not acceptable in my opinion
    • The airline were not sufficiently prepared for the conditions

    I said at the start of this blog post that I wanted to give an honest and balanced view point and feel it is important that I stress that there were some amazing parts of the trip.

    • We got to ride on a real reindeer sleigh
    • We played in knee high snow
    • We got to have a husky ride
    • We survived minus 16 degrees
    • I saw the magic of Christmas through my daughters eyes.

    In answer to my opening question, is the Winter Wonderland experience in Lapland suitable for young children? In my opinion no, the location we went to certainly wasn't and I would say that it is most suited to 6-10 year olds.

    In hindsight, the magic of Christmas can't always be found with a bearded man in a log cabin and as corny as it may sound I firmly believe that it is found in a child's heart and eyes and I should never have gone in search of it anywhere else! 

  2. Christmas is a time for families but what about if your family isn't the one you imagined when you were having your children? What if Christmas morning isn't about everyone lazing around in their PJ's as you are conscious of the time and getting your children to see their Dad on Christmas Day? If you rewind my life about 8 years or so, it was very different to the one I have now, I was freshly divorced and trying to work out how we were going to make sure our young daughter had the best Christmas, when that meant she wouldn't be celebrating it in the house she had grown up in.

    Divorce is never a nice experience but we have always managed to maintain good communication for our daughters sake and tried to balance the celebrations evenly so she gets to spend time with both families. As she gets older, she has more of a say in where she wants to spend her time and whilst sometimes one of us might be a little put out, maintaining her happiness is key for us both.

    This isn't something that we face alone as there are many parents across the UK that have to deal with the Christmas dilemma each year and research commissioned recently by the Family Friendly Working team shows the challenge that many families face.

    Infographic: getting-it-together-for-christmas

    Christmas is magical when you are a child and whilst our view might get a little more jaded as we get older, as parents we spend so much time trying to maintain the magic for our children. Every year, Father Christmas is pulled around the world by flying reindeer in his quest to deliver presents to billions of children. However, by age 7 1/2, 45% of youngsters will question the legitimacy of his existence, leaving parents lost for words as they struggle to respond to this interrogation .... although sometimes, this question is easier to answer than "Why isn't Daddy here on Christmas morning".

    My daughter is now 10 years old and being fully aware that her iPad comes from the Apple Store rather than the elves workshop, the magic of Santa might now be disappearing but with a little sister to now open her presents with on Christmas morning, she chooses to stay with us and that is her decision, which is the most important.

  3. We often hear of the benefits of swimming for a baby but how about the reasons why baby swimming is good for Dad's too?

    Reasons why baby swimming is good for Dads too

    Baby swimming is often a child’s first social experience out of the home that involves other children. They learn to relate and interact with each other and it is a great opportunity for dads to meet like minded people who share common interests.

    Research has suggested that babies who participate in swimming are often more alert for their age and have better eating and sleeping patterns. So it is a great chance for you to enjoy time with your little one but also to know that you are aiding your child’s future development.

    As a former swimmer for the county, the man on the Lilypad loves seeing his daughter swim and loves the chance to swim with her, which is a great bonding experience for them both (not to mention time for them to laugh over and over again about dunking daddy under the water). 

    Swimming together is not only a great weekly activity but when your baby is in regular swim lessons, it makes going on holiday more enjoyable and your little one looks forward to playing in the water and you get to enjoy the water too, without fretting about their water safety abroad!

     Swimming from an early age helps to build water confidence and safety

    With so many activities seemingly focused on mother and baby, swimming lessons are a great opportunity for the Dad's to get involved and as the man on the Lilypad is super competitive, he takes great pride in her achievements every week. Although he is not a fan of taking her into the mens changing rooms, so it is good to select a pool with family changing facilities.

    There will become a time when we no longer get in the water with her for her lessons and that time is getting closer and closer. She no longer wants held in the water as she has confidence to swim on her own but she still looks for reassurance and approval. I see him getting wistful about how quickly she is growing up but I know that no matter how big and confident she gets, she will always be Daddy's little girl.

  4. There is nothing like the smell of baking and nothing more fun (or stressful depending on your OCD levels) than baking with your children. When Gousto got in touch to say that  Goutso and BakedIn have collaborated with Michel Roux OBE to create a Christmas dessert for children, which is made up of a child-friendly recipe card, ingredients, icing sugar template and disposable baking tray, we couldn't resist.

    Gousto Snowflake

    This is the perfect stocking-filler this Christmas and as it has been crafted by recipe delivery service Gousto and baking kit service BakedIn, assisted by Michel Roux OBE, it is perfect in its design. Designed specifically for children, this fun and festive recipe kit includes craft activities and step-by-step instructions written with little ones in mind.

    Gousto 4 

    Taste is not compromised. Belgian chocolate, cranberries, naturally-derived orange extract and pecan nuts are provided along with cocoa, self-raising flour, caster sugar and some icing sugar for decoration. Simply add an egg and some butter for a truly delicious dessert. I wasn't allowed to get involved and the 4 year old took control, with me simply reading the instructions (and dealing with the hot oven of course) but it just goes to show how easy the kit is to use.

    Gousto 1

    All ingredients are pre-portioned and come in festive little bags. A silicone-coated baking tray with greaseproof paper to line is provided, along with a snowflake stencil to make an icing sugar template. (The 4 year old may have misunderstood the explanation of how to sprinke).

    Gousto 2

    Gousto customers will be able to add a Snowflake Brownie to their order at checkout until Wednesday 23rd December and we have a discount code for those of you who would like a special discount! https://www.gousto.co.uk/RELISH 

    However, we are giving the Lilypad readers a chance to win one, all you need to do is enter below.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Terms & Conditions

    The Prize: Snowflake Brownie box from Gousto

    The winner will be chosen at random by the random winner generator on Rafflecopter and notified within 7 working days by email
    Gousto will make every effort to provide the candles detailed here but this cannot be guaranteed
    By entering this competition, you understand that your details may be retained for future mailings. You can unsubscribe from this mailing list at any time.
    There is no monetary equivalent.
    Little Lilypad Co take no /responsibility for loss or damage in the despatch of prizes
    If the prize is unclaimed within 7 days we reserve the right to redraw the winner.
    End Date 14/12/2015 at 12am