Tuesday 29 November 2016

Carlton (Mainly) Men's Book Bundle Christmas Giveaway

Books are a brilliant gift. They can be precious for many different reasons, and true treasures that we can all hold and own. They can be epics with a real sense of achievement when you have read them, or a few paragraphs long. Books don't have to be expensive or huge to make you laugh, cry, or feel nostalgic, and there is something for everyone, whatever age.

I love to buy books as gifts, and I find they can be especially good for the older males in your family. I liked the sound of all of these books myself, but I've chosen them with 3 of my (not quite so) young men in mind, so this the Carlton (Mainly) Men's Book Bundle Giveaway...

For my partner I've chosen Peter And Dan Snow's Treasures Of British History (rrp £30, currently £21). This is a gorgeous large format, hardbacked book in slipcase which, over 112 pages, examines British History via 50 of our most important documents.

An Evening In - with Spin Master Games

I love a good board games night, and always have done. When my oldest child was born I very quickly realised it was a great way to still see my mates and maybe have a lemonade or two, while also solving any babysitting problems.

In 22 years this hasn't changed, and when we were invited to a Spin Master Games evening over at Laura from Tired Mummy Of Two's house, along with gorgeous Eric there and his family from That Lancashire Lass, we gladly accepted.

Monday 28 November 2016

Asterix: The Mansions Of The Gods DVD Giveaway

Asterix: The Mansions Of The Gods is a PG rated computer animated adventure movie, with a voice cast that includes a host of UK comedians in the familiar starring roles, including Jack Whitehall as Asterix, and Nick Frost as Obelix. It will be released on DVD and 2D/3D Blu-ray on December 12th - just in time for Christmas, and I have a copy to give away to one of my readers...

The movie is set in 50 BC, and Gaul was entirely occupied by the Romans. Well, not entirely… as one small village still holds out against the invaders. Julius Caesar (Jim Broadbent), exasperated by the situation, decides to change tactics. Since Julius Caesar and his armies are unable to beat them using force, the Romans decide to charm the barbaric Gauls with the introduction of civilisation and modern luxuries. A fantastic housing complex is built near the village for Roman families, and it is named ‘The Mansions of the Gods’.

20 Questions To Ask your Kids - with my 8 and 6 1/2 year old boys...

It seems at the moment that everyone is asking their children some seemingly easy questions, and then posting the answers to social media. The replies are very often cute and charming, and are a great keepsake to remind yourself of the little things your children say and do which get forgotten over time.

Here is a printable list of 20 Questions To Ask Your Children, which I have shared with my 8 and 6 1/2 year old monsters darlings...

Q1. What is your favourite colour?
My 8 year old has been very honest - purple - even though some people say it's a girl colour. My 6 year old paradoxically chose green, which he specifically can't really see (3 of my sons are colour-blind), so your guess is as good as mine there...

Sunday 27 November 2016

Real Construction from Jakks Pacific Toys age 6+ Toy Review

Real Construction uses a dense plastic foamy material and plastic tools to emulate as closely as possible real wood and tools that adults use for D.I.Y. and crafts. This is a toy for children aged 6+, but they can really saw and hammer and make something they can be proud of.

We've been sent the 51 piece Starter Set (£9.99) and the 129 piece Deluxe Workshop (£24.99) for review. Suitable for age 6+, both my 6 and 8 year old boys were really excited and raring to start.

Friday 25 November 2016

WATCHU GPS Tracking Smart Watch For Kids Review

The WATCHU GPS Tracking Smart Watch is so much more than an analogue and digital watch. It's a GPS Location Tracker and a phone. If your child doesn't respond as you'd like, you can listen in to what is happening wherever they are, and it even has an SOS Panic Button for them to use when they can't find you in the LEGO Shop...or somewhere else...

I never thought I'd really ever want to tag any of our kids, although we've often joked about tagging the teenagers. Then we had our youngest. Our sensory-seeking bundle of fun, Turbo-Boy. He gets excited and can't resist looking at everything, all at once. Knowing exactly where he is, and being able to contact him, is a huge bonus.

Thursday 24 November 2016

Rockabye Originals Children's Clothes - Reversible Jacket Review

Recently I was contacted by Rockabye Originals and I'd mistakely assumed they only sold baby clothes. In fact, they sell unusual and different clothing for babies and children up to the age of 10. You can tell it's going to be good when it arrives in packaging that looks like this!

Full marks for amazingly simple yet clever design. I haven't pulled anything out of a record sleeve for years, and it took me right back... What was inside might not have been as cool as 12" 1996 remix of The Chemical Brother's Setting Sun, but it was impressive.

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Hasbro Star Wars Bladebuilders Spin-Action Lightsaber review (age 4+)

My kids have almost all loved Star Wars, and I love Star Wars. The Bladebuilders Lightsaber is the best Lightsaber I've ever played with by miles. It's also the first Lightsaber we've ever had (and we've had many) that 2 children can play with at once...

The Bladebuilders Lightsaber is made by Hasbro, recommended for age 4+, and my boys wouldn't leave it alone while I was trying to take photos. It's one of the most exciting things any young Star Wars fan could ever review.

The packaging is great, almost all recyclable card with thin plastic fastenings that pull out easily. Christmas morning-friendly, the Bladebuilder arrives with 3 x AAA demo batteries in the Red Lightsaber, and you'll need 3 x AAA for the smaller White Lightdagger.

Lucky Voice Home Karaoke Kit Review

Lucky Voice make home karaoke equipment that gives great results whether for parties or a rainy afternoon singalong with the kids. Using their subscription website, you can also access a library of over 8000 songs - there really is something for anyone and everyone...

Our household are big fans of music, and when the children were younger we spent many, many hours belting out tunes on Guitar Hero or Rock Band together. More recently our music has been mainly on CD, radio or music TV, but growing up with song has clearly left an impression on my youngest, who is never quiet and sings half the day. This review is for him really, he loves it....

Inside the Lucky Voice box is everything you need to connect together your own TV, computer and sound equipment:

1 × light and chic microphone mixer
1 × metal-bodied dynamic microphone
1 × 5m microphone cable
1 × headphone to phono cable
2 × headphone to headphone cables
1 × instruction sheet
Plus a voucher code for a month of free singing with the Lucky Voice website.

Tuesday 22 November 2016

Cinderella at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton review

On Monday night we were privileged to be among some of the first people to see 2016's Christmas performance at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton. This Winter Cinderella is brought to us in a completely different way, via the rats who live with her in the cinders and ashes...

The Octagon is a lovely intimate theatre in the round, and the whole audience feel very close to the performers. My 6 and 8 year old boys hadn't been before and were incredibly impressed and excited. In the centre of the stage area were a collection of musical instruments, which started much debate about what was going to happen.

The actors were great, not only acting and singing, but playing all of their own musical accompaniment. The instruments in the centre of the stage were never removed, only moved to the sides and used, and were perfect for a Winter tale with lots of metallic percussion. Chimes are just spot on for Prince Charming's Ball.

Silly Sausage Family Game Review (age 7+).

Chosen as one of the Dream Toys for Christmas 2016, Silly Sausage from John Adams is possibly the daftest looking family challenge game you'll ever play. It tests your speed, co-ordination and memory skills and you do get to look completely silly while you're at it.

Silly Sausage is probably unlike anything you've ever played before. Although it has some parallels with other action games, it plays quite differently, and I think is actually more equal between age groups. Although recommended for age 7+, my 6 year old had the highest score here for a while, and now it's his Dad, but we are all fairly evenly-matched.

Saturday 19 November 2016

Timeline British History Game (age 8+) Review

Timeline is a fantastic series of card games from Asmodee. Suitable for anyone aged around 8+, the aim of the game is for 2-8 players to put the events shown on the cards into correct date order. It may be history, but don't let that put you off, this can be a quick-paced game and children are often as good at making guesses as adults are!

I love the Timeline games, and we've been sent the newest edition in the series for review - Timeline British History. Also available are Inventions, Science & Discoveries, Historical Events, General Interest, Music & Cinema and Star Wars.

One of the features of Asmodee games is that they care about what happens when you've finished playing, and Timeline games are stored in their own beautiful metal tin. Not only attractive to look at, they are compact for travelling and taking to friend's houses, and will outlast the cards, unlike a cardboard box.

Wednesday 16 November 2016

BfB Labs Champions Of The Shengha Emotionally Responsive Gaming Preview

Champions Of The Shengha will be the first game release from British tech start-up BfB Labs. They are on a mission to 'help children develop the skills to combat the stresses of life' using Mindfulness techniques. In this case it actually means controlling your emotions while playing a game in order to increase your score...

BfB Labs work in a new generation of games which use emotional response as part of gameplay. Champions Of The Shengha is a fantasy battle-card app. game suited best to ages 10-15, which requires you to remain level headed and calm while playing, in order to gain power advantages.

A small BfB Sensor (heart rate monitor) is attached to the players ear, and connects to the phone or tablet by bluetooth.  At the beginning of each round the game encourages deep breathing to control your heart rate. The calmer you are under pressure, the more power you earn.

I was a bit dubious at first, I thought it might feel a bit embarrassing or weird, and couldn't really imagine the teenagers going for it. In fact it's a simple case of sitting up straight, breathing deeply and remaining calm while you play. The game gives really effective prompts to assist you in your relaxation, which actually help, and it really does train you to be aware of your own posture and breathing, and understand how to relax. I'm now convinced.

Roald Dahl's The BFG Movie - Free Printable and Amazing Bundle Giveaway (2 Winners).

The BFG is an absolute classic. One of Roald Dahl's most treasured books, the tale of a little girl named Sophie and her giant friend has been brought to life with a mix of animation and live action, and it is available for you to own on DVD and Blu-ray on 21st November.

A lovely tale, this movie edition has beautiful CGI animation which really compliments the live action. Starring Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill and Penelope Wilton, the acting is great, and the characters incredibly likeable.

Tuesday 15 November 2016

27 Month Smiles #MakeTime2Listen

Yesterday was my birthday, half way to my 'four score years and ten'. I think I have aged about 30 of those years over the last 3, and I'm probably a way ahead of where I should be now. But still I am here. Older, saggier, wrinklier and hopefully wiser. Everyone was so worried there wouldn't be cake that in fact there were 5 cakes. What could be better? Cake plus LEGO obviously - and I'm now also the proud owner of the LEGO Christmas Train...it was a really good birthday.

Sunday 13 November 2016

Santa's Polar Expedition Grotto at The Trafford Centre Review

Yesterday we went to Barton Square at intu Trafford Centre in Manchester, to visit this year's Christmas Santa's grotto. For 2016 the grotto has been turned into The Polar Expedition, and Santa is accompanied by lots of friendly Eskimo Elves.

My 6 and 8 year old boys are at the cusp of understanding, but are both firm friends with Santa this year at least...

We were a staggering 90 minutes late. My partner was called into work, so we ended up tight on time, but then the pre-lunchtime traffic was horrific, we were stuck in a jam for over an hour and our 8 year old was car sick. Christmas has started...

Thankfully it can be very beautiful...

Friday 11 November 2016

Bratz Doll with Radio Controlled Hoverboard Christmas present Giveaway (age 5+)

I have an extra Bratz Christmas Present giveaway that I wasn't expecting. As well as the InstaPets, Bratz have just released Radio Controlled Bratz Doll Hoverboards! These are brand new and I haven't even seen one in person, but they look pretty cool...

The Hoverboards are available with Cloe and Yasmin dolls, and just like a real hoverboard, the Bratz Hoverboard goes forward, backward, and does a full 360° turn, while the adjustable doll stand enables your doll to stand on the hoverboard while it's in motion.

Bratz InstaPets Doll And Pet Christmas Present Giveaway (age 3+)

Bratz Dolls were a regular feature in our house up until a few years ago. One of our girls had several, and a house, and played with them for hours. They actually look a lot more like real humans now, but they're just as sassy and modern, and just as popular. The latest range are the Bratz InstaPets, and I have one to give away to one of my readers...

The Bratz take their style inspiration from anywhere, and that includes their kawaii cute spirit animals. There are 5 different dolls, each with their own pet and matching accessories.

Wednesday 9 November 2016

Lumie Starter 30 Bodyclock Christmas 2016

Lumie understand that we can't always just wake up instantly, they appreciate how hard it can be on our poor tired souls. Especially in winter, to have time to wake up slowly and naturally is often impossible. The Lumie Starter 30 Bodyclock wakes you by increasing the light gradually over 30 minutes. Recreating a natural dawn helps to keep your sleep cycle on track, boosting mood, energy and productivity levels all day.

At the other end of the day, your Lumie Bodyclock light also recreates dusk, to relax you and settle you for a better night's sleep...

BAEBOX Monthly Subscription Box For Tweens And Teens Giveaway

BAEBOX is a new monthly subscription box created with growing-up girls in mind. There are two different boxes, the Tween Box aimed at age 8-12 and the Teen Box for 13-15. BAEBOX have kindly offered one of their Subscription Boxes (and it'll be the Christmas box!) for one of my readers in my Christmas Present Giveaways.

My daughter is 16, so just over the target age range, but we've both been excited about BAEBOX sending us a selection of items you'll find in the Teen Boxes.... The box was adult shoebox sized, however it's amazing what you can fit into it...

Sheaffer VFM Pen and Notebook Christmas Present Giveaway

Sheaffer are incredibly well known for producing excellent quality writing equipment since 1912. One of the most reliable names in refillable ink pens and ballpoints, they have offered to give one of my readers a gorgeous VFM Ballpoint Pen and Notebook in my Christmas Present Giveaways.

I've been sent the Sheaffer VMF Ballpoint Pen in Ultra Mint, and it's beautiful. A classic yet modern colour, with incredibly bright and shiny nickel plated metal trim, you know this is a special pen - and not only because it arrives in a very smart box. It writes really nicely, as you'd expect, and is refillable using Sheaffer Cartridges, and the case feels like silk to your fingertips.

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Derwent Unwind In The Wilds Colouring Book And Coloursoft Pencils Giveaway

Adult drawing and colouring is really becoming popular, as more and more people rediscover the benefits of sitting without a screen and letting your creativity flow. Derwent have been making pencils and other drawing materials in Cumbria since 1832, and they are giving one of my readers the Christmas gift of relaxation...

The Unwind In The Wilds Colouring Book is printed on artist quality acid-free 150gsm paper. A few of the almost 90 pages have added activities, and there are hidden collections for you to find through the book.

Monday 7 November 2016

LEGO City Fire Utility Truck Set 60111 Christmas Present Giveaway

It wouldn't be Christmas without LEGO, and they have very kindly offered one of my readers a LEGO City Fire Utility Truck Set as a prize in my Christmas Present Giveaways. This is a great set which has a lot to offer to a wide age range of builders and fans...

LEGO City is a lovely range and the Fire Utility Truck makes a complete playset when built. There are 3 minifigures, a Technician and 2 Firefighters, as well as the Fire Utility Truck itself - which has a fire hose and a trailer with an extending cherry picker. There is also an object to catch fire, in this case a TV satellite tower with a satellite dish and a utility box.

Okido Children's Magazine Christmas Giveaway age 3-8 (2 Winners)

I like to support the underdogs, and Okido deserves support. An arts and science magazine aimed at children aged 3-8, we've had a few copies now, and my boys have always enjoyed reading it and working through the activities, even though they've never actually seen the accompanying CBeebies show 'Messy Goes To Okido'.

There are 6 issues of Okido Magazine each year, and an annual subscription costs only £19.99 by Direct Debit, or you can buy the magazines individually at £4 each. That price is very reasonable for a nice thick magazine which is crammed full. On the front of each issue it tells you what's inside "Stories, Activities, Games, Doodles, Recipe and a Poem".

Today is #HugABearDay With Hallmark Cards And Gifts

Today 7th November is Hug A Bear Day! My boys might like their rough and tumble, but who doesn't love a hug? All mammals hug and snuggle, and humans are particularly good at it. Each hug can lengthen your potential lifespan, lower your blood pressure and relieve stress. It's also a great way to show someone you care.

Other people aren't always around, and teddy bears as we know them have been an important part everyone's life since the early 1900's, although there's plenty of evidence to suggest soft cuddly toys have been protecting children while they sleep for the last 2000 years or more.

Sunday 6 November 2016

Cley Designs £50 Jewellery Voucher Giveaway

We recently reviewed a gorgeous handmade necklace from Cley Designs, which is personalised and will be given to my daughter on her birthday. They make gorgeous bespoke jewellery, and not only add letters and numbers, but also your own footprints, handprints and even fingerprints, to create a really precious gift with a lot of meaning.

Cley Designs make every item in the UK by hand, and personalisation is to order, but our necklace arrived less than a week after ordering. You can read my full Cley Designs Jewellery Review here...

Googly Eyes Family Game Giveaway (age 7+)

Googly Eyes is 'the Drawing Game Of Wacky Vision'. Players have to draw a picture based on the words on their prompt card, but you must wear the corresponding crazy glasses AND you have a very strict time limit!

We really like this game because our younger children aren't at a disadvantage. Everyone had some of their pictures guessed instantly, and some that no-one could decipher!

Star Wars Inflatable Radio Controlled R2D2 Giveaway from Bladez Toyz

It gives me sheer delight to be able to give away a radio controlled R2-D2 from Bladez Toyz. These are awesome, and ours has had so much play that it's clear it's still fun long after the initial novelty has worn off.

Surely the must-have gift for any Star Wars fan, BB-8, Darth Vader and Yoda are also available. If you aren't into Star Wars then you can also get all kinds of radio controlled inflatables from Bladez Toyz, including Olaf, Peppa Pig, Dinosaurs, Nemo, Minions, Thunderbirds, Big Hero 6 and Tellytubbies...here are a selection of those on offer...

Saturday 5 November 2016

Fuzzikins Craft Cottontail Cottage (age 4+) Giveaway from Interplay

We are very long-standing fans of Interplay, and over the years all of our children have played with their pocket microscopes and bug hunting kits. We've had craft kits galore, but we missed out on the Fuzzikins Craft Cottontail Cottage when our girls were little.

Possibly the most pink and fluffy of my Christmas Present Giveaways, I know most young girls 4+ especially would be delighted with this kit. The 3D rabbit toys that arrive with it are completely plain, so as well as customising their house, the children can customise their own characters too.

The Book Of Everyone Hardback Edition Personalised Book Giveaway

The Book Of Everyone really is a gift for anyone. A book all about you, to treasure and keep forever. What is even better though, is that most of the pages can be personalised by the person sending it, so it takes on far greater value.

We have previously reviewed The Book Of Everyone, and a special edition of it, The Book Of Dad, and we've been really pleased with both.