Ice Cream Taste test

Lil D has a love, nay obsession, with ice cream.  It is her reward of choice, and given that she has been spending her summer reading, spelling and having random maths challenges thrown at her, she deserves to know that she will get her reward.

This past week, Bear and Lil D have had a super busy week.  Morning routine consists of reading and spelling games, a little money based snap and a discussion of today’s independent project. It’s been a lot of work for both of them, so before they started they sat down and discussed the rewards.  Gain all the stars on her chart and Lil D could pick her reward.  Ice cream was a no-brainer.

Little did I know that when I returned from a week away at work I too would be included in this wondrous reward: a blind fold ice cream taste test!  Oh joy of joys!! Let me take this moment to recommend this for a general Friday evening activity.

Ice creamAll week the two schemers had been gathering a variety of ice cream flavours (though they struggled to find a really off putting flavour…ah well), then Lil D waited patiently for me to eat dinner so the fun could begin!

(I made the mistake of teasing that we could do it another day…and was rewarded with angry tears that very nearly threatened the whole project.  Moral of that story, do not tease a 7 year old about ice cream).

Having Auntie Eims blindfolded and clueless was a big thrill for Lil D, and she somehow kept forgetting that she was in competition with me to guess the flavour, so had to keep her blindfold on.  It didn’t matter, she had a great time, peeking to see what was coming, pretending she didn’t know, then actually analysing the flavours.  We agreed that a surprising number tasted of vanilla (big brands, hmm), but the fact that I struggled much more than Lil D caused much hilarity!

Really the joy of indulging in a little game of blind taste testing is not that much of an effort to set up, but the rewards of this particular reward are worth a week of hard reading and learning, and even a week of grown up work!


Table Manners.  There’s always room for improvement, right?

Last summer Eims trained Lil GN and Lil C to ask for permission to leave the table.  Wonderful except… it only works when Eims is present at the table. They eat and run – there’s play to be had. Lil D, on the other hand has always eaten with us round the table and loves to linger.  Her homework this week was to learn to eat like a princess.  A toothless 7 year old with the healthy appetite of a growing girl and the chew of a velociraptor.  D-Mama had had enough.

Enter the piggies.  A visual reminder for our dote that chewing with our mouths closed is the socially accepted convention.  Any infringements to be met with a piggy.

The original idea comes from this lovely site ⇒ and it even provides a printable of the supercute piggies.

PiggiesIn our house one piggy calls on our dote to concentrate.  This is her warning piggy.

Two piggies will result in our dote doing her own dishes and putting Papa out of a job.

Three piggies are too diabolical to entertain. Our poor wee dote will get no dessert.

Placed in a glass on the table in front of Lil D, her first words were “That’s a good reminder for me.” as she daintily chewed on her first mouthful.

Subsequent meals saw us all watch each others chewing action with great care, as awarding a piggy to a grown up is even more exciting.

Who's pigging out?So far so good.  Lil D responds well to rules that apply to everyone and not just her. Simply having the pigs on the table were attention grabbing enough to make her try to have good manners. And sure isn’t that half the battle?

She even brought the piggies up with her cousins when we visited for a tea party.  Lil GN may have taken it the wrong way though – he went out of his way to collect as many piggies as he could. Boys, eh?

Independent play

One of the (many) things we wanted to work on this week with Lil D was independent play.

Oh yeah, it’s *Challenge time*!

Lil D, your mission, should you choose to accept it is to complete a special project all by yourself. 

Setting her up with an arts n’ crafts project seemed an easy entry into solo play but knowing our wee dote, pleas for help were to be expected. Incentive needed.

A quick look to the interweb and ideas began to form.  Sweeties.

Morning of – the scene is set.

“Lil D we want you to complete this project all by yourself.  Choose 5 sweeties that you can have after you’ve worked for 15 minutes.”  Interest piqued. “But will you help me?” she asks.  “Well I can, but you’ll have to give me one of your sweeties.”   Wait for that concept to land. “Even if I asked you to do only a little bit?” “Fraid so.” “Oh.”

As she begins, a few more queries as to what would constitute help come up to which the answer is always “I’d have to take a sweet though.” 15 minutes later she’s managed to resist getting help.  She savours her reward.

Some hours later we pick up the project again.  15 minutes was never going to be enough to complete something as grandly named as her Special Project. This time sweeties were not needed.  Gentle assurance that completing a task all by herself would fill her (and us) with pride was almost enough.  The other factor was the annoying half done project in the corner.

Hero Bunny

Hero Bunny

So another 40 minutes were dedicated to the task, praise liberally applied (dotes love praise) and she feels like a hero!

Presenting it to Eims on her return revealed her true feelings.  “I made it all by myself!” she squeals.

Pride is a wonderful thing.

As the glow of achievement begins to settle we ask what tomorrow’s special project should be, another arts n’ craft or something completely different.  “What would the completely different project be?” “I don’t know yet. ” “Hmm, maybe just make another bunny in case I don’t like the other project” Hee, I think she’s getting used to the idea of Special Projects. TBC.

Chill out time

We knew activities would be an important ingredient in keeping Lil D happy on our trip to Copenhagen, but we hadn’t realised how fun they would be for the grown ups too.

Things we used on holiday

  1. Playing cards

From sitting at a Burger King table in Dublin airport to pass the time till we could get our gate number, to relaxing in the hotel after a picnic dinner, playing Jack Changes was something that all of us enjoyed.  Add in the fun of a rock, paper, scissor match to see who got to go first, and it was fun all around. (side note: we may be teaching Lil D to be a little competitive)

2. Notebook and pen

The simplest of things but again effective.  Lil D needs encouragement when it comes to reading and spelling, but she had no idea that’s what we were up to when we played hangman.  I have to say, the man gets quite a few extras before he’s hanged!

3. Journal

IMG_2509This was worth every minute Bear put into organising it before we left.  There were pictures of famous sites, mini maps and pages to fill with tickets, receipts and information about each day.  Lil D got into the sticking things in side and tolerated our requests that she write some sentences about her day.  We took it out during dinner in restaurants and she worked away (until distracted by ice cream sundae making stations).

4. Books

We brought a couple Molly goes to Copenhagen, Little Mermaidof relevant books with us for this trip.  A phonic reader of The Little Mermaid, which we read beside the statue of Hans Christian Andersen (though Lil D had really had enough that day so it didn’t get the attention it deserved), and Molly and the Magic Suitcase: Molly Goes to Copenhagen Chris Oler and Amy Houston Oler. Molly and her brother Michael see all the sights, learn how to say Danish words and experience some Danish culture.  It was a little long to keep our dote interested, but it was a nice idea.

5. Tablet

How can you have a dance party in your room without music? Well maybe the tv will provide a music channel, but Lil D is a YouTube girl and having access to this through her tablet in the hotel gave her the right kind of energy to start (or end) the day.

Tivoli Gardens

Holiday report card

The holiday is over and the reflection has begun.

Was all the planning necessary for our first trip away with a dote? Did Lil D have a fun? Did the grown-ups have a good time? Was it worth it?

We aunties went into this with our eyes open.  Kids, we were reliably informed, moan.  They get hungry, they get tired, they’re enthusiastic about what they like, less so when they aren’t interested.

Hans Christian AndersonSo we brought snacks in prepared packs (mini oreos, yogurt covered raisins, raisins) and Lil D looked forward to scoffing the lot everyday.  We planned one big activity a day (zoo, Tivoli amusement park) and took it in our stride when Lil D and D Daddy (not a natural traveller) were too tired to take a walk through Copenhagen just to enjoy the sites.  We aunties went without them as they settled in for an evening in front of Danish tv.  We could not go to Copenhagen and not visit the Little Mermaid, but didn’t mind that Lil D missed her.

We had plenty of activities with us, and free hotel wi-fi allowed Lil D to indulge in her first love, dance.  We had a dance party everyday, with Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie quickly becoming the theme song for the holiday!

Amusement ParkYes D Daddy suffered from lack of sleep, an unfortunate flare up of his eczema, and the loss of his phone due to overheating in a European plug socket, but he also got to eat some great food (mostly burgers!), went on the scariest rides in the amusement park and saw his first real life rhinoceros.  It all balanced.

Lil D loved being with her aunties, the hotel buffet breakfast, the make your own ice cream sundae in our first restaurant, every ride at Tivoli, the polar bears.

Seeing it through her eyes was a joy.

Cinnamon bunsMaybe for her, it was any city in the world, but she has been to Copenhagen, how many 7 year olds can say that!?

And us aunties? Well done us, we say. Everything we brought was used, including the birth certificate / letter of consent.  Well done Dublin airport for questioning the fact that Lil D has a different surname from us.  Yes, a little odd that we were able to leave the country unquestioned, but at least we got to use it on the way back!  We got to share one of our favourite cities with our Lil D and we all made it home in one piece!