Saturday, 29 November 2014

To my boy on the eve of you becoming a teenager.

Big T, Thomas, you're about to become a teenager
Tomorrow you'll be 13
I remember the day you were born so clearly
You was quick to come into the world and was such an easy baby
You hardly cried 
I'd sit by your moses basket waiting for you to wake

As you grew we knew you was not like your big sister
At the age of 1 the tests were in full swing
You were so chubby, a cute chubby boy
This presented a problem when trying to find your veins
You'd cry but only after the nurses had attempted to take blood for the 5th time
The testing was soon forgotten by you and you'd return to your happy self
Always smiling, watching, thinking
It has been 10 years since you took your first steps
It was a magical moment to see
A moment we did not know if we would see
I am happy we did 

It has been around 7 years since your were formally diagnosed 
This was a major turning point for you
You joined a new school, a better school
You've been there ever since and will do so for many more years
I think you know everyone in the school and everyone knows you
No matter where we go you see someone you know
They are often greeted with a huge hug
As every birthday passes by you grow very little, but you are bigger each year
You will soon be as tall as the boys you so look up to 
The boys you say "alright laa" to despite it annoying me
I love that you know how to wind us and your siblings up
it is annoying but it is a quirk of yours that I treasure
I love that you speak your mind
but please don't tell the man on the beach he has a fat belly again

I love that you like many computer games
even if you do change them every 5 minutes
I love that you are fascinated that your 3 year old cousin talks
I love your innocence
I love that you still believe in Santa
I love that you enjoy playing with the kitten with his toys
but please stop locking him in the bathroom 
I can't believe you will wake tomorrow a teenager

Lots of love

Santa's Magical Grotto

One of the decisions that needs to be made at Christmas is where to take the children to see Santa. My sister in law recently sent out that very question on facebook and she had a good response. Many people voiced where their favourite place was which must have only made it harder to decide. I didn't have too much of a problem deciding where to take the children. As we only take the children to see him once each year we decided on visiting Santa's Magical Grotto at Chill Factore in Manchester. They kindly offered for us to visit them and review on our blog, I immediately accepted. I knew we would have an amazing time as we visited back in 2012
Finding Chill Factore is really easy and it is easily accessed by all transport routes. They have a large free car park so you won't need to battle for a space this Christmas.

As soon as we walked in through the doors I spied Peppa Pigs ears. I lifted my daughter up so she could see as we walked down to the desks. I knew she had caught sight of her when she whispered "Mummy, I can see Peppa Pig". We stopped for a quick picture and of course a cuddle with Peppa before we took our place in the Santa's Grotto queue. We handed over our booking number and were then directed to the desk where we would hire our warmer clothing from. They have a vast amount of coats and trousers for children and adults, they have green snowsuits for the babies and toddlers too. Clothing rental is £6 per person and I highly recommend hiring them if you don't have warm outerwear of your own. The helmets and snow boots are available for hire free of charge.
With our belongings safely in a locker and us all dressed for the arctic out we went for our snow session. My husband, I and the four eldest children were booked in for the Snow Park, my mother in law and little lady were booked in for Mini Moose Land.

The Snow Park is suitable for children ages 4 years and older. Sledge 'O' Mania is lots of fun, children who are four years and older can sledge here but you must be eight to use the carver sledge as they wizz you down the slope rather quickly(I appologise to the man I crashed into at the bottom). We all loved this part of the snow park and repeatedly raced down the slope, cold snow hitting us when we skidded to a halt. It brings back fabulous childhood memories when our winters were full of snow. 
Downhill Donuts was fun too, to ride on this one you need to be four years old and you get a mini donut to sit in. You just have to grab a donut and step onto the human conveyor belt and away you go up the slope. Little T loved the Downhill Donuts as did the two girls, I hardly saw the girls as they are old enough to decide what they want to ride but they had so much fun. They had been begging us to take them back to Chill Factore for ages and their wish had come true. I wonder how often they will ask to go back this time.
Lastly on the Snow Park is the Luge Slip 'N' Slide which riders have to be six years old. Little T was the first to declare he was going on here and I was right behind him. The slide is covered in ice and you ride down flat on your back on a board. As you slide around the bend you glide up the side from left to right, round and round till you come out at the end with the biggest smile on your face. It is so much fun and like no other slide I have been on before. 
Throughout our play my mother in law would bring little lady over from playing on Mini Moose Land to see what we were doing. I tried getting my mother in law to have a play on the sledges but she declined, she did say she would next time though and I will hold her to that. Little lady watched her older siblings play, I think she was itching to have a go on the sledges but she is too young at the minute. We did have a mini snowball fight though, you're never to young to throw snowballs at your siblings. 

Over at Mini Moose Land little lady played on the soft toys, the slide and even a mini downhill donut ride. She scrambled over the play frames and played on the donut slide many times. She was kept warm by the hired snowsuit, not once did she complain of being cold and trust me she enjoys complaining and is quite good at it for a three year old. She said she had a great time, the next time we go hopefully she will be able to join us on the slopes.
After our session ended we headed back inside to get changed and see Santa. 
Handing back our hire clothing was quick and simple, no queuing was involved at all which was great as the children were eager to see Santa. 

We rejoined the Santa's Grotto queue and waited. It took 45 minutes in total waiting to get to the front which is longer than was expected however it was on one of their busier days and I have to say the children were fully entertained by the elves. Little lady is not a fan of people she does not know. When people speak to her she respond with a death stare, this did not scare off the elves though. They both continued to involve her in the conversation and won her over with a candy cane. I thought it was nice that they secretly asked the parents before offering a candy cane to the children. They asked them what they will ask Santa for and Little T thought it was hilarious that one of the elves had asked Santa for the very same toys as he wants. I think they enjoyed their natter with the elves as much as they did seeing santa. When we went in to see Santa the little elves said we were allowed to use our camera which was a nice surprise, they do however take a picture of the children with Santa which is available to buy straight away. Some of the picture gifts are lovely and reasonably priced as a package.

After our visit to Santa we headed upstairs to open their gifts and have a nice cup of hot chocolate. The children were all thrilled with their gifts; we had an art set; a foam play set and the two eldest received mini jenga; they are the best presents they have received from a grotto. 

The trip would have cost £139 had we have been paying guests. I personally think this is a fair price for 3 adults and 5 children. Had we have just been seeing Santa then I would expect to pay much less however an hour on the slopes costs £20 alone so it is a very fair price. The hire of the clothing can bump up the price when there are many of you however you are able to bring your own warm clothing so you do not need to hire if it is not needed.

I would recommend a visit to Santa's Magical Grotto and will return in the future. I think next time I go I might have to try a skiing lesson. So far I have only been brave enough to watch the skiers come down the huge slope.

We were given free access to the above event. All opinions and images are my own.