Monday 29 April 2013

@TheToadstoolUk competition entry!

This is our entry for The Toadstool and Wonderworld DKL's competition to win a Wonderworld Toy Kitchen and 2 runners up will receive a Wonderworld Penguin Rescuer Game or a Wonderworld Recycling Truck.

I had a lot of help (at least that's what they call shredding polystyrene onto the floor) from 3 of mine. Boys no3 and 4 got in the way, and boy no.1 made the penguins. Afterwards they all played icebergs for a very long time - my floor covered in tiny balls is testament to that!

It's my first ever video all by myself, so don't be too harsh (my other half hates it, so don't be as harsh as him).

The competition is open until Friday 1st May, so you still have time to enter any project or model or anything else on the theme of recycling, planting trees or helping to save the penguins! 

UPDATE - We won! How cool is that?! Another 25 or so years practice, and I'll be giving Nick Park a challenge...maybe....

Saturday 27 April 2013

How to Survive a Horror Film

My little boys watching the terrifying horror  'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked'

We all love a bit of 'mild peril' and last night was movie night - snacks, little kids off to bed and then three of the teenagers, my partner and I watched a horror movie....

We spent most of the time shouting and tutting at the stupidity of the characters on screen. It got us talking about what you clearly should NOT do if you want to live long enough for the sequel.

In the film Scream the smarty pants bloke (who very deservedly doesn't make it to the sequel) announces the rules of surviving the movie ~
  • 1. You will not survive if you have sex
  • 2. You will not survive if you drink or do drugs
  • 3. You will not survive if you say "I'll be right back"
  • 4. Everyone is a suspect
The killer adds two extra rules ~
  • 5. You will not survive if you ask "Who's there?"
  • 6. You will not survive if you go out to investigate a strange noise.

While they do seem to be totally true, we think we've come up with some more ~
  • 1. Don't wear a matching bra and knickers - if you do, make absolutely certain you don't take your clothes off. In fact, just don't take your clothes off, especially if you are a nubile young bird, but granny pants and a greying old bra might just save you.
  • 2. Shut the ruddy door! And the blinking curtains! Murderers rarely simply appear, usually they have to slide past the window or walk in the house behind you while you step much too far out onto the porch just to see where they are. Just put Eastenders on and kick back.
Don't worry Ma'am, I'm a policeman. You'll be safe now.

  • 3. If you have a copper sat outside your house 'protecting you', bring him in. If you leave him out there he'll just end up a bloody mess, shout him in and he can watch Britain's Got Talent in the warm.
  • 4. Don't drive at 40mph through the woods. No-one can run that fast! Even if Usain Bolt is after you, he can only manage 27mph for 10 seconds, after that you can happily slow down to about 16mph and Roger Bannister can only just keep up. Setting off in 2nd at top belt will just wrap you around a tree, and then you'll have to limp back to the building you just came from with one shoe and a ripped jumper - which could put you in danger of breaking rule no.1. 

  • 5. Split, how about don't. Stay together. Why on Earth would you spend all day  with your mates laughing and drinking beer from plastic cups, and then when the crazed killer arrives all run away in different directions, or suddenly decide you have to go somewhere alone. Even if I needed a huge poo I'd take someone with me, in fact everyone, I'd take everyone with me. They can stare at the wall and whistle.
  • 6. Remember you have an opposable thumb. When you pick up your chosen weapon from the huge knife rack in the incredibly tidy kitchen, or steal it from the guy in the mask, don't leave it on the side the first chance you get. Just hold on to it. It's not hard, even babies can grasp, and point it the right way. The bad guy is unlikely to spawn from your belly unless you're in space or an antarctic research station, so point it away from you. And don't assume you can use a gun just cos you've watched a heap of Angelina Jolie movies, if you start shooting you'll miss anything you try to hit. Either aim directly at your best mate or put down the gun and pick up a pencil, it'll give you a better chance, especially against vampires.
    No-one panic. I've got a gun!

  • 7. If you hit them then you have to make it count. Batting at them with a wet hand is the equivalent of flapping at a wasps nest. You know that they'll fall down, the intended victim will do a bit of heavy breathing and then sigh a bit, get up and slowly walk off with their back to the baddie. 3 seconds later and Mr Angry with the grazed knee will no longer be lying on the floor, he'll either have jumped up and  leapt at our hero from behind, or completely disappeared. If it's the former then game over, the latter means you have to do a sequel....

    What would you add?

Thursday 25 April 2013

Optifit Bras ~ goodbye 38E

When another blogger who you've never met before asks if you want to take a drive up Saddleworth Moor at night and take your top off, how can you refuse? And I didn't....

Pippa from the RedRoseMummy blog needed a lift to a focus group organised by Optifit and, after 5 pregnancies and 8 years of breastfeeding my boobs are not quite so perky as they once were (I can practically tuck them into my socks). Bras are something that cost me a fortune and still rarely seem to look or feel right, so I was really intrigued.

Firstly we were given a full explanation by the 2 ladies who run Optifit, and who have come up with the sizing system and designed the bras themselves.

They explained that Optifit make an entirely different type of bra, which doesn't measure you in the conventional way at all. You can forget you 38D or 32C completely. They take the measurement around your diaphragm, the measurement of just how big your boobs are and the height from your shoulder to the bottom of your boobs, and then make you a bra to match.

In their own words -
Optifit is the result of 20 years experience working as a bra-fitting specialist at hospitals in and around Manchester, where major inconsistencies were uncovered between the conventional measuring formula and fitting guides, and the garment itself.
The problems become more obvious for the larger busted woman for whom the correct cup size simply does not exist within the current industry standards. Which is one of the reasons why 80% of women wear the wrong size bra.
This unacceptable situation led on to 2 years post- graduate research into the origins of bra design, exposing the flaws in the blueprint on which the conventional bra is based.
Optifit was designed to eliminate the original flaws and introduces a new PATENTED grading and fitting system, which is based on a woman’s body instead of fashion standards.

Until now Optifit could only supply if you went to their shop in UpperMill, but now they have developed a measuring tape for home use, so that ladies who live further away can measure themselves at home and order a bra to be delivered via the mail. The aim of the focus group was to explain about the differences between conventional bras and Optifit, and then let us try the measuring tapes to see how easy it was and if we could really get an accurate measurement ourselves.

I admit I was very nervous, and I got the measurement wrong, but the lovely Optifit ladies took one look at what written measurements I gave them and presented me with the bra that fit first time and is the same bra I'm still wearing today. It does have a specific fitting method, which was something that took a bit of getting used to, but is second nature now, and really does make the best of the bra.

The bra was very comfortable. There is no dragging pressure from the shoulder straps, in fact it is the cup that just holds you up in the right position really well. The back strap is a lot lower and supports you from around your ribcage, which encouraged me to stand up straighter and pull my tummy in. I felt like I had hands supporting my back, it was a really nice, comforting feeling to be honest, and not one I'd ever associated with a bra before!

It was explained to us that because Optifit is entirely different and encourages correct posture, your body takes time to adapt, so it can take a couple of weeks to get used to wearing. Your shoulders will even out, your  back straighten. Optifit can even help with digestive problems, breast pain and skin problems. Although it only took me a few days of neck ache to feel more comfortable, I decided to wait before writing this review, in order that I had time to really get used to the Optifit bra.

I can honestly say I'm delighted with it. I look slimmer, my boobs are standing nicely to attention, I have no backache and less neckache than I had previously. It has no wires and can be machine washed, and dries very quickly. It looks as good as new after 2 months and it's really cool when it's warm.  This is the first bra I've worn in 25 years that I don't want to take off as soon as possible every evening.

I'm hooked, and when I next buy a bra, I will be getting it from them. They are not cheap, but when I consider the fact even without the reduction in my aches and pains I'd have happily bought a couple of £30 bra's that aren't exactly comfortable and start to fray and lose their elasticity after a couple of months, it makes it seem very reasonable indeed.

The only things that make this bra just less than perfect are that the cut is very high so although v-necks are fine, some round necked t-shirts and tops can't be worn over this bra, and although the styles are pretty and look nice, they are perhaps a bit off-putting for younger people.

Optifit bras are available in a range of styles and colours and prices currently start at £49.99.

Optifit also specialise in feeding and maternity bras, and can convert any bra to a nursing bra, so they can fit you and then convert your bra for you, so that you don't need to buy another.

I was given a free bra for attending the focus group, I'm writing the blog post because I'm so impressed with the results.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Healthy Snack Chat ~ and how we trended on Twitter!

You know when someone suggests something, and you think it might be okay and agree, and then you start to think maybe you've had an idea above your station? When the doubts creep in and you start to wonder if everyone is pointing and giggling?

Well I thought like that about our #HealthySnackChat Twitter discussion...

There we were, the 4 of us, Anna In The Playroom, Eileen ET Speaks From Home, Pippa Red Rose Mummy and I, waiting for 10.30am. I say waiting, actually I had to rush about like a squirrel locked in a car in order to be ready.

At 10.25 I got a retweet, we had a punter, it was all good. We wouldn't have to give all the prizes to ourselves, someone would be walking away with the picnic rucksack from SA Fruits at least. We just needed 4 more people to win the Change For Life and other goodies.

!0.29 and I've never felt so nervous......(well, except when I had my driving test, my children, got engaged, job interviews, first day at school, kids first days at school and some other stuff )....

10.30 arrived, Pippa went for it, and stunningly, people replied! We had people! Actual people had turned up and were ready to talk to us and join in. Real live people. Ten minutes in and we were trending. I cannot begin to tell you how many cool points this gains me with the teenagers. In fact, half an hour in not only was #HealthySnackChat trending, it was up there at the top! It was in first place above Suarez the Zombie Footballer, as at least one very vigilant and witty young man noticed....

By the time I had to get my questions ready it was a bit manic, there were conversations going off at tangents everywhere, people were posting photo's, we had fishmongers and fruit snack companies adding their suggestions. I could barely spot anyone actually replying to me.

The incredibly cute daughter of Laura YummyMummyFlabbyTummy with her healthy snack!

The last 15 minutes was all a bit of a blur, trying to catch up with what people had said and answered and I hadn't spotted. And then I had to go do nursery pick up and leave everyone to it, and they were all still talking. Win.

There were some amazing answers and brilliant ideas. It was fascinating finding what everyone feeds their children for snacks and Capture By Lucy joining in with her beautiful Bento boxes was an absolute pleasure.

The Gorgeous Seaside themed Bento from Capture By Lucy

In case you want to catch up, the highlights were kindly captured by Storify 

The winners were -

Winners for the mini prizes are

Winners for the rucksack are
@cherylp59 (during the event)
@thesoupdragon44 (retweets before the event)

Huge THANK YOU to everyone who took part, I hope you all learned something, we certainly did.

I'll leave you with a photo that was posted later on by the self-confessed tyrant BlueBearWood, whose clearly angelic daughters have possibly invented next years healthy feeding trend - #ChildLedSnacking

Frozen peas and sweetcorn - delicious!

Saturday 20 April 2013

Wonderworld Eco-House

I fell in lust with the Eco House from Wonderworld the very first time I saw it. I loved the solar panels and windmill, and the sheer gorgeousness of it. Unfortunately that was at the end of last year and our Christmas budget was spent in September.

I've continued to spot it everywhere, it's been taunting me and showing off it's little recycling bins and water butt. During the Christmas period we had already bought boy no.4 a selection of smaller items for his birthday this March and didn't think we could justify getting him something big to go with it, but then a wondrous thing happened - he got birthday money!

Without consultation we spent his money, fortunately we know him quite well and he adores small world play and has a great imagination, he spends most of his time playing with 'figures', so we knew we'd be safe.

The open plan layout means this is ideal for more than one child to play at the same time, or just for one younger child who isn't so precise with their play, and the size is a good fit for Playmobil and lots of other little character ranges and vehicles. 

Dolls House Eco

It is a brilliant tool for teaching children to think about the world around them and why we do certain things? Where does electricity come from? Why would you collect water in a water butt? It encourages them to think about materials - which things are glass, plastic, paper? What can we recycle?

Next Monday is Earth Day 2013 and a day when we are encouraged to think about greener and more sustainable alternatives. I fully believe that education should start when our children are very young, and consideration of everyone and everything within our environment should be something that is second nature to them.

boys doll house

This is a really accurate depiction of an ideal eco-house. Our teenagers have spent months doing projects designing eco-houses and the open plan, glass walled, fireplace in the centre of the house layout is spot on. The scooter is electric, the house creates it's own energy, water is collected and waste recycled, they shower - no baths and they grow their own veg. 

The Eco-House is currently on special offer at The Toadstool for £98, which is I feel is a very fair price. It is fairly traded, made in Thailand from sustainably forested Rubberwood and painted with water based non-toxic paints. It should easily outlast your child, it is really robust and has huge scope for play. It is totally appropriate for either girls or boys and has so many fantastic little details which are just not available or thought of usually. We love it!

Thursday 18 April 2013

This post is brought to you by pie...

I had every intention of bringing you a selection of delicious fruit and veg based recipes and meal ideas this week, but life got in the way and I'm not organised enough to be one of those bloggers who has the next 3 months posts lined up.....probably a good thing!

I can however bring you tonight's meal. There were 8 for tea tonight.

There were 3 veggies dining, so we all ate Quorn (I cook, I choose....muhahaha. I let them eat meat a couple of times a week). Start with a teaspoon of oil and lightly fry a sliced onion and a bag of Quorn chunks. Finely chop a courgette and add a few handfuls of sweetcorn for extra veg that they'll barely notice.

Lightly fried, or at least defrosted.
Decant into a suitable dish. I see now that I failed to mix carefully, and most of the sweetcorn is on one side. Had I examined the photographs whilst cooking then I could have sorted that one out....but that would have been a bit weird. I added a load of chunky mushroom slices too, and then a sauce made from 250ml boiling water, a stock cube and a good dash each of paprika and soy sauce. You can also add some creamed mushrooms or cream of mushroom soup for a slightly naughtier, and unsurprisingly creamier result, or some half fat creme fraiche if you're really spoiling yourself.

You too can get a patina on your pan like this. It takes years of dedication, but the newness can be removed.
Make or purchase some pastry. On this occasion I'm using shortcrust, but puff pastry is just as good. Never ever attempt to make puff pastry yourself, always buy it. Making it requires 2 spare hours and will save you 7p.
Because you only put a top on the pie and not a bottom as well, you are being good and healthy - honest...well, you're using half the pastry, so that must be a good thing.

A nice egg wash over the pastry
Looking just like Nigella's pies, or the Hairy Bikers pasties
Cook it in a medium hot oven (gas 6, 200c, 400f) for about half an hour until the pastry looks scrummy.
Those spuds are NOT very healthy, but in fairness I had assistance from a teenager and they poured loads of oil over them, and they were crispily delicious.

And to think I didn't even wipe off the dribbles of gravy....shame on me.
It was lovely, everyone ate it all and it contained a couple of portions of veg each, plus carrots and broccoli! Healthy pie.

Link up your recipe of the week

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Blogs Up North ~ Legoland Discovery Centre and Cadwaladers

I was introduced to Blogs Up North as a brand new blogger by Pippa from RedRoseMummy, and on Sunday I went along nervously to my first proper meet up. There were 16 bloggers in attendance, and it was fantastic to meet so many people who's work I've read and commented on and laughed and cried at.

We were given free entry to the Legoland Discovery Centre and we arrived and nervously hung around in the shop until we saw the familiar face of Laura the never-looking-very Tired Mummy of Two and organiser of the meet.

We were split into 2 groups for the 'factory tour' which still amuses my boys even though they've seen it umpteen times - they're brave enough now to go and stand at the front and help make the Legoo and the bricks - turning cogs and jumping on buttons.

Monday 15 April 2013

#HealthySnackChat ~ Twitter Discussion

I've never had any trouble getting any of my children to eat fruit, they'll even eat a lot of veg. I can never understand when children (my own included) don't want to try all these sweet and colourful things, it makes me a bit sad because I feel they're missing out.

In a previous life I worked in Adult Education, working in various Community Buildings. I'd be the last to leave and had to bring everything with me, which would include any leftover lunch - including huge trays of fruit. I couldn't and wouldn't ever throw them out, it'd be criminal, so I'd take them home. Boy no.2 and my daughter would be delighted if I went to fetch them from school in the car, because they'd know I'd been off somewhere at work and the first question would always be 'is there any pudding left?'

In a bit of a change from usual I'm joining with 3 other bloggers for the next week to promote healthy eating.

Along with Anna from In The Playroom, Eileen from ET Speaks From Home and Pippa from Red Rose Mummy I'll be helping host a Twitter discussion and competition to win family prizes promoting healthy eating.

We want YOUR ideas for how to encourage reluctant children to eat things that are good for them, and we also want to know what you think is healthy?

We have been sponsored by SA Fruit, who have provided us with 2 x family picnic rucksacks to give away . They explain in their blurb ~

"South African Fruit is affordable, produced in a sustainable manner and fairly traded. The fruit industry creates jobs and is empowering previously disadvantaged workers, who are now  taking on management and ownership roles." 

For a chance to win one of the Family Picnic Rucksacks, retweet this Twitter status before 10am on Monday 22nd April 2013.

For a chance to win the second Family Picnic Rucksack and other spot prizes join us between 10.30am and 11.30am on Monday 22nd April on Twitter using the hashtag #healthysnackchat

You MUST be following at least one of the hosts to be eligible to win @etspeaksfrom, @redrosemummy, @TheBrickCastle and @ummziyad

SA Fruit also kindly sent me a selection of the fruits they export to Britain when our home-grown fruit is out of season. These are available nationwide in supermarkets.

We were sent Comice Pears, Red Williams Pears, Royal Gala Apples, Sonogold Plums and Angeleno Plums

Knowing full well that people of all ages eat far more fruit if it is cut up, I presented my 2 little boys and my partner with a bowlful each. Every piece was delicious and sweet, but we were all particularly impressed with the Red Williams Pears, the flavour was gorgeous. The plums were not bitter at all, and the apples had just the right amount of tang.

Hope to see you at the Twitter party! #HealthySnackChat

T&C below for the competition:

Terms and Conditions:1. Open to UK residents only.
2. One picnic rucksack will be won by someone tweeting the #healthysnackchat promotional tweet between 00:01 on Monday 15th April and 10:00 on Monday 22nd April.
3. One picnic rucksack will be won by someone tweeting one of the #healthysnackchat party tweets between 10:00 and 12:00 on Monday 22nd April.
4. Small prizes will be won by participants in the #healthysnackchat party every fifteen minutes during the party’s running time. 10:30-10:45, 10:46-11:00, 11:01-11:15 and 11:16-11:30.
5. Winners will be chosen at random from all qualifying tweets.
6. Winners will be chosen by @etspeaksfrom, @redrosemummy, @TheBrickCastle and @ummziyad.
7. The picnic rucksacks prizes will be sent direct from the PR company, winner’s details will be passed on to them for prize fulfillment. Small prizes will be sent by @etspeaksfrom.
8. No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.
9. Winners will be notified via Twitter DM, you must be following one of the following Twitter accounts to be notified – @etspeaksfrom, @redrosemummy, @TheBrickCastle and @ummziyad.
10. Please kindly follow our sponsor @SAFruits too.  Thank you.

Saturday 13 April 2013

Little Tiger Press Books ~ Dr Duck and Mouse And The Moon

Every now and again the Little Tiger Press send me some books to have a look at with my two little men, and a few days ago we received two fantastic books from them....

 Dr Duck by Steve Small and Hannah George

This is a really cheeky story, that appeals to the horrible in my little boys. It has trumps and snot and a porcupine who sneezes their prickles off. It made my lads laugh and cringe and had exactly the desired effect!

The style of drawing reminds me of books I had as a child in the 70's, it's quaint, with Dr Duck wearing goggles when riding his bike and sidecar for example. The story is in rhyme, which will help children to learn rhythm and anticipate the next lines and words. My boys really liked it and I give it a 4/5.

 Mouse And The Moon by M Christina Butler and Tina Macnaughton

This book is really beautiful, it's fantastic to look at, with gorgeous soft-edged drawings and glitter throughout. The moon is always shiny and glittery, and my 3 year old especially loved touching it and feeling the texture.

The story is very simple and appeals to very young children. It tells of a group of forest animals searching for the moon during a storm. I have to practice my thunder and lightening sound effects - I was rubbish! Both boys really like this book, it is an excellent book for bedtime, we give it 4/5.

Little Tiger Press books are available countrywide, including online from Amazon.

Obviously I was sent these books for review, but the opinions are our own.

Friday 12 April 2013

Chicken Pox for Beginners....

Everything you ever didn't want to have to know about Chicken Pox from a Mum who has nursed 5 of my own children through Chicken Pox. What follows isn't a Medical guideline, it's my experience. If you want a medical explanation or advice then there are millions of pages online such as this NHS page, and you can go and see your GP or Practise Nurse, you could even look it up in a good old-fashioned book!

If you remember Chicken Pox then it's probably because you had it really bad when you were a teenager or an adult, and the experience is etched on your mind forever. You were really ill and everyone laughed at your scabs (maybe). If you had it young then you were probably just a bit itchy and can't really remember it at all. As far as I can see, somewhere between 2 years and 6 years is the optimum time to catch it, and is indeed the point when most children do...

In glorious technicolour ~

1.Chicken Pox starts before that first single spot, in fact your child is highly contagious for a couple of days before you could possibly know they have it. You may find yourself faced with a really grumpy and irritable child who isn't happy at all. You may know that they aren't well, or you just think they turned into a teenager overnight.

chicken pox on 3 year old boy
Day 1 AM, Day 1 PM
Day 2 AM, Day 2 PM

Wednesday 10 April 2013

The Lullaby Trust ~ previously FSID

Today is exactly 1 year since my little brother died. He was 32 and an alcoholic. He had always liked a drink, but the day he gave up was the day that his child died. It took him several years, but eventually he killed himself. We all had to watch, and none of us could help. No-one could make him understand it would never be his fault.

Today FSID has a new name. The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths has changed to The Lullaby Trust. I think it's an excellent name. It speaks of peace and calm, which is what I wish to anyone who loses their child, at whatever age.

I'm linking this with Jennie Edspire and Ghostwriter Mummy's Lullaby Linky. I was a brand new blogger just getting to grips with Twitter when I saw Jennie's tweet at the top of my page and wrote this. What I've seen since has been a mighty community with a level of support and understanding that never ceases to amaze me, and a woman who has a strength and poise beyond human.

The number of babies who are lost to SIDs has reduced by around 65% since we became aware of ways to reduce the risks in 1988. Lets bring it down further.

Edspire and The Lullaby Trust

Tuesday 9 April 2013

In Case Of Fire

Yeah, if you do accidentally set fire to your frying pan, probably best to grab the kids and leg it, but I was reminded last night of a question we always asked when I was at school. If your house was on fire what would you grab to take with you as you run out of the door?

If you had time to grab just 3 things (and everything living is safely out on the lawn already - including the fish and the Yukka plant), what do you take? This isn't real, this is fantasy, so 'the bath' is a real option.

When I was 15 it was band posters, tour t-shirts and my midi system - of which I was very proud and it cost an entire 60 quid! Back then £60 was the equivalent of a million pounds - well, to me it was.

Now I'm a weeny bit older , I actually DO still have my tour t-shirts and posters (not the cheap tinny midi system though). Up in my loft is a mildewed programme bearing the autographs of Michelle Shocked, Billy Bragg and Michael Franti. I've got a poster that Roddy Frame of Aztec Camera has signed and written 'Sorry' on because I was crushed at his gig at Rock City. I've got programmes, maps, tickets and wristbands from every festival I ever went to. I even have a flyer from when me and 7 other people went to see My Bloody Valentine at The Dial in Derby on a Tuesday night for £2.50. None of it would make it into my top 3 though....

No.1 ~ Photo's of the kids. Real photo's, the kind I used to walk into town to collect and it cost me £2.50 for the film, and £3.00 for developing and I'd have 3 blank photo's, 2 shots of the floor, 1 picture half superimposed on another, 6 shots so blurry you couldn't see anyone, 4 where the heads were cut off and (if I was lucky) 3 where the subject was actually looking at the camera. We didn't even get a computer until my oldest was 7, so my real photo's mean a lot to me. (Good job this is fantasy because that's 2 tea chests already).

No.2 ~ All the 'treasure' I've collected from my children over the years. The certificates from school, the paintings, the cord clamps (everybody saves them, right?), first teeth and shoes, birth certificates, first passports, GCSE work they threw out and I rescued from the bin, birthday cards, programmes from plays and assemblies, bits of paper with the first 58 times they drew a recogniseable human on them......all that.

No.3 ~ The Jewellery Box my partner bought me for Christmas the year before last. I love it, it reminds me of one my Grandmother had and it's very beautiful. It has my treasure in it - ear-rings and gift tags and little Lego boxes with tiny things in, and on top are some cuddly things that my children and my partner gave me....

It's also possible I might just be able to fit in 4 or 5 band t-shirts at a push....

I guess that time and experience teaches us what is actually important, things are just things really, and anything that can simply be bought can usually only ever have limited value.

What would you save?

Monday 8 April 2013

What a difference a week makes!

One week on, and 200 miles away from where we were last weekend, with completely different weather and chicken pox nearly all gone we decided to make the most of the gorgeous sunshine on the last day of the Easter holidays and go to the park for the day. Stunningly we even managed to convince the two younger girls to come with us (although there is a fun fair, so that might have something to do with it).

And what a brilliant day it was....

 Well, it was brilliant after we'd cleaned and plastered an overexcited 3 year old who ran off and fell over 3 feet from our van within 2 minutes of arriving....

First time on grown up swings for boy no.4, and lots of patience from his siblings!



Motorbike racing at the fun fair - not sure who won!


We had a great day and everyone really enjoyed themselves, but when I looked back through my photo's I couldn't fail to spot something that made me smile but also brought a lump to my throat.  The girls are so grown up now. It's only a couple of years since I was pushing them on those swings and watching them slide down the giant slide.....

Only too soon you turn around and look at them and they are not children any more....

Saturday 6 April 2013

Skylanders Giants Character Giveaway

To celebrate the fact that my blog is now 4 months or 1/3 of a year old, or the fact I've got 457 following on Twitter, or the fact that my children have all now had chicken pox and hopefully I can tick that one off, or whatever you want to celebrate, I'm doing my first giveaway.

Because my blog isn't just about pre-schoolers I have decided my first giveaway isn't necessarily for the tinies, it's more for bigger kids.

Skylanders is an incredibly popular game which is available to play on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Wii U. The characters are not only within the game, but you have a real world figure to stand on the 'Portal Of Power' which connects to your games console, and makes the animated character appear within the game.Each toy also has the ability to store game information, so you can take it with you to your mates and join in with them without losing your stats! There are various extra single figures, and therefore characters, available to buy, and I have one to give away.

My 4 year old has been asking us to get this for the last few months. He'll have to wait until he's older, but for the rest of you  I have 1 Skylanders Giants Eye-Brawl Figure to give away using the rafflecopter form below.

This Giveaway Is Now Closed

This giveaway is open only to UK entrants, the prize is one new Skylanders Giants Eye-Brawl supplied by myself, the winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter when the competition ends and the timer runs out.I'll make every effort to contact the winner, but if I've not heard back within 48 hours then I reserve the right to choose another winner.

Tuesday 2 April 2013

Pirate Shapes by Orchard Toys

We have been lucky enough to review the Pirate Shapes game by Orchard Toys for Izziwizzi Kids Playfest.

As with all Orchard Toys games and puzzles this is designed and manufactured in the UK from strong 100% recycled board. It has really bright colours, modern pictures and chunky pieces that don't bend or come apart during even quite boisterous play. It is built to be played with, and built to last.

Pirate Shapes ~ Age 2 1/2+

The Pirate Shapes game retails at £9.50. It is suitable for 2-4 players and the suggested age range is 2 1/2+. It is perfect for nursery or pre-school aged children who are learning shapes and colours. It teaches turn-taking and basic game play, and the concepts of winning and losing. Because you pick from a selection of upturned shapes the child has to pay attention to which shapes they need to collect, and then when they turn over the cards they need to compare their piece with the 'gaps' they have and see if it is the right colour and part of the picture to match with what they need to complete their board.

Boy no.4, who is just 3, absolutely loves this game and has carried it around with him since we introduced it. He has chicken pox and it's making him feel secure and taking his mind off the itching. He's happy to enjoy it just as a collection of jigsaws, playing the game with someone else is a bonus! He's already become far more confident with his colours and has learnt the names for oval and rectangle, which he wasn't certain of before.

Both my 3 and 4 year olds love this and it gets a definite 'thumbs up' from us. 

We were sent the Pirate Shapes game to review, but the opinions are all our own