Talking To Teens About Vaping

Parenting is hard work at every single stage. You start with the sleepless nights and endless feeds, move onto the temper tantrums of the toddlers years, hit those awkward in-betweens years until you finally get to the dreaded teens!

For me I think the transition of no longer being the person they always turn to for advice and the person they confide it the hardest part of them growing up. There as so many other people in their lives now that they hold of great importance that Mum is often pushed down the pecking order and certainly for me my opinion on pretty much everything isn’t really valid.

When it comes to subjects such as what they are wearing or eating for their lunch then it not really to much of a problem but when it comes to more worrying subjects such as drug taking and smoking then this is something I find important they can feel comfortable approaching me to talk about and not just take for gospel the facts they come across on the internet or chat about with friends.

Both of these things can have a huge impact on their lives and being an inquisitive teen very tempting to try for themselves. For me as long as they are armed with all the information possible about how these decisions can affect every aspect of their life and I have given them the physical and emotional side to it then I am happy that they can go onto making an informed decision about what path they take when these temptations come their way.

However something that is pretty new to the UK and something I have very little knowledge about is vaping. It has taken off in a huge way and has been labelled the ‘safer’ alternative to smoking but there are mixed views on how safe it actually is.

Vaping – inhaling and exhaling vapour through an aerosol type device is being dubbed the ‘safer’ alternative to smoking. With this label and the fact the vapours come in appealing flavours such as strawberry, mango and even salted caramel the pull to teens is very strong.

I know that I have had several heated debates with my teen regarding their safety and being such a new product there is certainly a lot of conflicting advice out there, but below are a couple of the things I feel it is important to talk through with your teens about:

Unknown Chemicals – Different brands use different chemicals in their vape pens that could potentially cause harm to growing lungs and mouth.

Can Lead To Smoking down The Line – In several studies it has been proven that people who start by vaping then move onto smoking itself. Although they may think they are harmlessly experimenting with a safe alternative they could infect be putting themselves on a slippery slope.

Don’t Follow The Crowd – As I said before vaping has been dubbed the new and cool thing to do and is becoming increasingly popular. Peer pressure will be extremelly strong when there is temptation like this all around and I hope that my teens can make informed decisions on wether they really want to follow the crowd or not.

My biggest tip though is the same for any tricky and worrying subject…just keep those lines of communication open. Allow them to be inquisitive, be as honest and you can and hope that by this they will choose the right path.

*collaborated post

Getting Ready To Set Sail With BFLF and Camp Bestival

I would say we have probably been gearing up for this years Camp Bestival since Christmas and for the kids…well and me too July has seemed like a lifetime away.

One of the ways we love to get into the festival spirit before the big day is a trip to one of the fabulous events that Big fish Little Fish put on in conjunction with Camp Bestival.

Big Fish Little Fish are a independent company that allow parents to share their love of rave music with their own little ones in family friendly venues across the country. It means that parents can let their hair down and loses their inhibitions for a few hours, safe in the knowledge that the kids are having just as much fun.

A few weeks ago we went along to Dreamland in Margate and after having such an amazing time we chose this venue to return to again this year.

The cool, retro setting lends itself perfectly to this event and I was pleasantly surprised that this year they had moved into the ballroom which gave everyone a lot more space for throwing some shapes!

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It was literally minutes before we took to the dance floor…much to the embarasmemt of my preteen. There really is no ‘school disco’ feeling at these events, the floor is filled within minutes with parents reliving their youth and kids going wild to the fantastic music whist getting covered in bubbles and confetti.

Of course the music is the main attraction but the fun doesn’t end here. There was a craft station where the kids made some fantastic pirate hats and got covered in tattoos, tables full of playdoh for those of you that wanted a bit of quiet time, a section that was cornered off for tiny ones and tents and tunnels for everyone to climb through and hide in. There was also a face painting station that somehow managed to pass us by.

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I think one of the highlights for mine was actually the Naughty Floss stall where we grabbed delicious candy floss that came on a super cool, flashing glow stick!

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The ballroom was filled was fun and laughter throughout and it has definitely got us in the mood for Camp Bestival later this year where we will no doubt be dancing along with Big Fish Little Fish again!

* We were given tickets to the event for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

My First Baby Annabell:Review And Giveaway

When it comes to dolls in this house there is certainly no gender stereotyping and the boys have loved playing with them just as much as the girls.

The biggest dolly fan though has definitely been Oscar and I love the benefits he gets from playing from them:

Learning Caring And Nurturing Skills – Looking after a dolls allows them to consider the needs of others such as – are they warm enough, do they need feeding, do they need changing.

Building fine Motor Skills – Having to line the bottle up feed the baby, putting on clothing andchanging the nappy are all great ways build their fine motor skills.

Using Their Imagination – The limits are endless to the way they can use their imaginations and role play with dolls. They can build all kinds of scenarios and let their imaginations run wild.

Oscar has built up a pretty good collection of dolls, but what he really wanted was one that can be taken around easily and for me something that is not to heavy and bulky for me to cart around when they’ve had enough!

My First Annabell’s baby brother arrived the other day and Oscar immediately fell in love with him. The squishy body makes him great to cuddle and being a smaller doll than the original Baby Annabell he is perfect to sit on the little ones lap for them to feed with a bottle

He fits easily into my handbag so when Oscar get fed up with parenting I can pack him away easily.

He arrives with a bottle for feeding and is dressed in a pretty, light blue baby grow with matching hat.

He would make the perfect first doll for any child, or a great addition when you want an easily transported doll.

If you want to win one of your very own then please feel free to enter the completion below.

Good Luck!

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Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twelve

This week has been a bit of an emotional one with the realisation my youngest isn’t so little anymore and how all Frankie’s hard work has been paying off for him.

Frankie’s Eyesight Improves – Its been nearly a year now since Frankie first started wearing glasses and it has been more than a struggle at times. He isn’t to bad at keeping his glasses on but since he had to start wearing a patch on his left eye we have had nothing but problems.
There have been so many bribes and ultimatums to get him to wear it and it has actually cost us a small fortune in the money he has earned for keeping it on.
It has however been worth the pain as on this visit to the hospital his sight has made a huge improvement and I couldn’t be happier.

Home Styling Tips From The Experts – I was lucky enough to attend a fabulous event hosted by the lovely people at Amara. When it comes to home styling I tend to buy pieces that I like without much thought about how and were they are going to fit into the house.
A day of tips and tricks has helped me no end and I will be showcasing this next week with a post on everything I’ve learnt.

Oscar’s Last Dance Show – Realisation is setting in that my youngest will soon be starting primary school and I will no longer have a little ankle bitter nipping at my toes.
I sat and watched his final dance performance with a lump in my throat and a funny feeling in my tummy that in a few short months this stage of both our lives will be coming to an end.

Sweets Galore For Barratt’s 170th Birthday

My hands firmly clasped around a small, white ruffled paper bag full of my favourite sweets that had taken so much time and deliberation to choose is one of my fondest memories of our family holidays to Devon as a child.

My sister and I would be taken to the local sweet shop to pick our goodies for the long journey ahead where we would enjoy singing along in car whilst sucking on sour sherbet lemons, winding lengths of liqurique round our fingers and more often then not get in trouble for covering ourselves and the car in sherbet from our favourite Sherbet Fountains.

To so many people sweets are a huge part of their childhood memories and one taste can see them transported back to a special time and place that creates such a warm feeling of nostalgia.

I know this is very true to me and something my own parents have talked about over the years, fondly recalling sweets that are no longer available and the stories that come along with them.

The other week I was lucky enough to attend a golden ticket event hosted by Barratt – the brand behind so many of our much loved and fondly remembered sweets. Barratt have been out of the lime light for the past few years but have made a very welcome return with their patented classics such as Black Jacks and Fruit Salads and some great new products that I’m sure will have the power to conger up those same memories in my own children.

After a sweet themed cocktail…or two! we were given the opportunity to make our very own Dolly Mixtures with the help of a expert in this field who was probably shuddering at our feeble attempts.

With the help of the gorgeous Rosie from Mummy and Boo we managed to create a pretty good raspberry flavoured Dolly Mixture with a lovely pretty marbled effect; and for someone who isn’t a big fan of Dolly Mixtures I have to say our efforts weren’t to bad at all.

After all our hard work we settled down to a talk from the very knowledgeable food historian – Seren Charrington-hollins. I was astounded at how long ago the love affair with all things sweet started and was very surprised to how that chewing gum was intact founded in Greece, I would definitely have had my money on America for that one.

Below I have left some more information of the fascinating history of sweets and I hope this has all got you thinking about your childhood favourites as I would love to hear your stories.

*collaborated post

Dinosaurs In The Wild:Review

Sunday got off to a fraught start as usual with me dragging children through central London at 100 miles per hour due to the fact we were running ridiculously late on our way to the Greenwich Peninsula to experience the new immersive walk through experience – Dinosaurs In The Wild.

After a quick dash to get our tickets wee headed straight to the start of the experience where we were handed 3D glasses and prepared to get ourselves ready to transport back in time to the Chronotex research station.

The time machine saw us encounter all sorts of hurdles on its mission, but we arrived safe and well and in perfect time to explore the labs.

We stayed in each lab for around 10 mins which was the perfect time for inquisitive hands and minds to stay occupied without getting bored and distracted. Each section had the children transfixed to everything that was going on and i didn’t hear a moan or a groan from my own or any of the other children at all.

They got to see a huge beating heart of a Alamosauraus, get really hands on by touching ‘real’ dinosaur poo and teeth, watching baby dinosaurs hatching and the feeding time of lot of bigger dinosaurs too.

Oscar was really taken with a baby dinosaur that was brought out for them to see and got pretty upset that he couldn’t the one home!

The climax of the event took pace in the Lookout at the very top of the research station and I don’t want to spoil the experience by letting you know what goes on. All I will say is that its not for the faint hearted and although the age rating is 5+ I would say if your little ones are sensitive souls then this is something to consider.

Oscar who is 4 went through pretty unfazed but bolshy Frankie was soon put in his place by the whole experience.

I loved every minute of our trip and the set up left nothing uncovered. The charaters stayed in role fabulously throughout and keep the children involved and engaged for the entire 70 mins. The set and models were so lifelike that the children at not point doubted we have travelled back thousands of years through time and completely believed each and every moment.

The experience is running until the end of July 2018 and whether you are a dinosaur fan or not this is one not to be missed!

*We were given tickets for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Easter Fun At Morden Hall Park

I think this has to be the first year for as long as I can remember that we haven’t taken part in a National Trust easter egg hunt and I have to say that I’m pretty sad about that! The Easter weekend just seemed so fun that we didn’t get a chance to fit it in.

That said we couldn’t get through the holidays without a trip to one of their properties and we decided on Morden Hall Park as its been a good while since we’ve had a visit there.

After a pitstop at the cafe for coffee and cake we were greeted at the main entrance by a super friendly volunteer who set about telling us how we could join in wth the Duck Trail which allowed the children to set off around the grounds in search of different species of ducks, ticking them off on their sheet as they go and showing them some food along the way.

Morden Hall Park has had a lot of work done to it since we were last there and absolutely loved the wooden pathways and lookout points that had been added to the wetland area.

The boys spent ages dipping in sticks and trying to find the crocodiles my Dad had told them were lurking beneath!

We played Pooh Sticks on the bridges, ran through all the open spaces, climbed trees and got covered in mud…exactly what a day should be full of!

Morden Hall Park is also perfectly positioned for a short walk to Deen City Farm where the children got to feed and get up close to lots of lovely farm animals from pigs, sheep and even ferrets.

The children were filthy dirty and thoroughly worn out after a wonderful day and Morden Hall Park certainly come with a big thumbs up from us.

Country Kids

Top Five Reasons To Visit Elderflower Fields

Elderflower Fields was the festival that broke our family festival and camping virginity! Our happy place that is probably one of the only times of the year in which we can really switch off from the world.

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We are getting set to visit for the third time this year and couldn’t be more excited. There is still time for you to join in the fun, so take a look at my top five reasons for visiting if a family festival is something you have been considering this year.

Peace And Quiet – Of course a festival is lively, music filled and full of the hustle and bustle of the crowds; but it is equally a place you can sneak off into the woods for a secluded walk, plot up in the middle of a field and watch the fun from afar and of course the peace and quiet of sleeping under the stars.

Family Time – With the fast pace lives we all lead in this day and age getting away for the weekend with little internet connection and phone connection allows you to spend real quality time together without ant distractions.

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Food – If you are a foodie then this is definity the right festival for you. The amount of top quality, locally sourced vendors at the festival is unbelievable. Each and every one serving the most sumptuous food using top quality, ingredients made with love by the passionate owners.
Another bonus for us is the fact that Frankie’s multiple allergies are always catered for without any problems.

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Learning New Skills – Aside from a few all the activities at Elderflower Fields are included in the price making it fantastic value for money and allows the children to take part in a things they wouldn’t ordinarily do.
Over the past few years mine have learned a whole host of circus skills, trapeze tricks, kayaking and so much more.

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Building Independence – The festival isn’t as big as some and at no time have I felt worried about the safety of the children which is great for allowing them to build their confidence by independently moving to and from different activities and getting stuck into tasks on their own.

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I really could go on and on with reasons to visit Elderflower Fields, but really the best way to see exactly what I’m talking about is to visit yourself. There is still time to grab tickets ‘here’ so don’t miss out.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Eleven

This weeks ‘Celebrating The small Things’ has been a seen us doing a lot of catch up with the things that got cancelled and postponed due to the horrible snow. Did the bad weather mess up any of your plans?

World Book Day – World book Day came a lot later than expected this year due to it being way to icy for the little ones to get into school in their flimsy outfits.
Frankie was super excited to get all kitted out as Willy Wonka and got completely immersed into the character; it was a different situation with Oscar though who flat out refused to join in.
He has gone from being a little boy who lived in fancy dress and couldn’t even take a trip to the shop without some form of dress up to not wanting anything to do with it at all!
I was still desperate for him to join in through the worry that he would fill singled out, but he waltzed into nursery without a care in the world it was in fact him who was the odd one out and I have to admire him for that.

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Weight Loss Goals Being Achieved – I am a few months into my membership at David Lloyd Health Clubs now and I have really been keeping the benefits in so many ways, with the biggest of those being my weight loss.
For those of you that regularly read my blog you will know that my weight gain over the past few years has been a real problem for me and something I have been really struggling with.
Since joining David Lloyd at the beginning of the year I have seen a real change to my body shape and in turn a boost to my self confidence which I hoping will allow my to be a little braver in front of the camera soon!

Bridesmaid Dress Shopping – My lovely little sister is getting married this year and the bridesmaids dress have been a bit of a problem to say the least! None of us have been able to find anything we had all liked until the other day when we had a trip to Dig For Victory and found a whole shop of adorable dresses that can be made to measure and to your exact requirements.
In a few weeks time we will be getting measured up and ready for them and I literally cant wait.

Geomag Review And Giveaway

I would say the toys that always go the distance and have been pasted down and much loved are anything that involves construction. From Lego to Mechano they have been favourites with both the boys and girls and have all stood the test of time.

The benefits of constructions toys are endless and here are just a few reasons I love them as much as the children:

Enabling Creativity – Construction toys allow children to build and create with no limit to their imagination and what they can create.

Improves Gross And Fine Motor Skills – Moving around and manipulating small pieces all help with building their large and smaller muscles in a fun way.

Building Hand-Eye Coordination – Moving pieces into place, lining things up and connecting pieces are all great ways to work their hand-eye coordination.

Nurturing Problem Solving Skills – Thinking through what they initially want to create and then over coming hurdles that they come across along the way is a great starting block for building problem solving skills that will be essential in later life.

Working Together – Construction play is so versatile in many ways and as well as being great for solo play it is the perfect way to get children to put their heads together and work as a team to create something special.

With all of this in mind I was really happy when Geomag offered me two sets to try out with the children. The Panels and Mechanics set compromises of brightly coloured, transparent panels that can be joined together with with its magnetic steel spheres and rods.

This invisible magnetic force allows mechanical movement and allows any of the structures you build to move and rotate.

Geomag is aimed at children aged 5+ so I know it would be absolutely perfect for Frankie who has just turned six and is passionate about creating all types of buildings and structures at the moment.

Frankie’s eyes lit up when he saw the boxes full to the brim with all the shiny pieces and he was itching to get started.

He started simply by creating lines and triangles to get his confidence with them and then once he realised the potential of both the Geomag and himself then he was away!

It wasn’t long before the rest of the children took and interest and joined in with the fun…much to my delight as it is usually a real struggle to get my eldest son interested in anything that isn’t aimed at online gaming!

Unknowingly as well as all the above benefits I have already mentioned, Geomag hits all the STEM needs which cover science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Who wouldn’t enjoy a toy that allows the children to explore all of these important elements in a fun way.

If this sounds like something your little ones would enjoy as much as mine have then below I have the chance for you to win a Geomag Panel set of your own worth £89.99

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway