Frankie’s Lego Inspired Birthday With The Hip Hooray Co.

[GIFTED] ‘All I want for my birthday is a party with my friends’ – this was a kick to the stomach after realising Frankie had reached the grand age of eight without having a party with his friends.

I think due to the combination of his birthday being so close to Christmas and getting into a routine of doing a special day out with the older ones rather than a party, it has always just passed by without me getting anything arranged.

I was eager to resolve this and after discussions of a sleepover I sought the help of the lovely Tasha from The Hip Hooray Company.

I have followed her beautiful feed over on Instagram for a long time now and had high hopes that she was going to be able to create something special for Frankie and she certainly didn’t disappoint.

After a few emails to figure out what Frankie and myself were looking for and what his likes and loves were, Tasha soon came up with a Lego inspired theme that I fell in love with as soon as I saw it. It was the perfect idea for Frankie and gave me lots of ideas of what I was going to do to work around it.

The Hip Hooray Company specialise in sleepovers and luxe picnics for children and adults alike. There are teepees that are perfect for indoor sleepovers and even the option of bell tent hire for the warmer months.

We went for a teepee and picnic table package where every little detail was thought of and we couldn’t have been happier.

Tasha and her equally lovely Mum came along on the afternoon of the sleepover and set everything up for us, I didn’t have to lift a finger whilst Frankie stayed in the front room so he could have a grand reveal!

We had six teepees set up which come with a mattress, pillows, duvet and decorative cushions. To this bedside tables are added with little glass bottles for their drinks and nightlights and the teepees were given a finishing touch by being draped with bunting and fairy lights…I found the addition of lighting not only very pretty but good for those that aren’t keen on the dark.

As I said we also had the addition of a picnic table which I’m extremely glad we did as it was a great way to get them all seated to eat and doubled up as the perfect place for games that we played during the evening.

The table comes complete with tableware, lunch boxes that I used as the children’s goodie bags and of course popcorn boxes for the all important sleepover movie.

All set up and Frankie over the moon with what had been done the guests arrived and the fun began. Gaming was set to be a big part of the evening, but I made sure we had plenty of games to keep them amused too.

I went with the Lego theme and had a design your own mini figure area, a game to see who could break their mini figure out of ice the quickest, guess how much Lego was in the jar and plenty of games of who could build the biggest Lego tower in the shortest amount of time.

Take away pizza was on the menu but I also created a grazing section for them so they could go back and forth as and when they wanted too.

All played out it we time for a movie and popcorn which was so lovely to be able to be enjoyed in the cosy set up of the teepees and the fairy light lit room.

As expected bedtime took a while with six over excited eight year olds, but upon getting up in the morning they all said what a great nights sleep they had had in the teepees.

Before we knew it the party was over and the team were back to take down and put away after all the fun.

The party was noisy and not much sleep was had and this is exactly what I was expecting – but what I do know is that each and everyone of them had a wonderful and unique experience that they will remember for years to come and I couldn’t have hope for more.

Making 2020 The Best Year Yet!

Some years January fills me full of excitement and motivation, sometimes I am happy with my lot and other years it leaves me feeling dull and disappointed with everything I haven’t accomplished in the past year.

This year thankfully I am full of hope and have lots of ideas and motivation to make this year the best one yet! I haven’t got any grand plans or aspirations, more simple changes that I hope will lead to a calmer, more productive and happier year ahead.

Travel – Last year I took the children away in my own for the first time ever on a mini road trip around Devon and Cornwall.

I was extremely anxious in the lead up and nearly cancelled as I doubted my ability to do it on my own. I did however manage to keep us all alive and it sparked something inside me that wanted to travel more with the children and allow the to experience different cultures, discover new lands and get a few stamps in their passports.

I was lucky enough to travel a lot as a child and it’s something I’ve not had to opportunity to do very much with mine, so I want to change this and this is why it had come top of my list!

Organisation – Scraps of paper, committing to things before checking dates and time and rushing here there and everywhere due to poor time management are all things that drive me insane, yet I just can’t seem to change.

Each and every year getting organised appears on my list and every year I fail epically. I think part of this is just in my nature so I’m going to try and work with it and make small changes towards a more organised and in turn less stressful life!

Getting In Front Of The Camera – This was a resolution from last year and I did get myself out there a little more, but this year I’m giving it a big push.

All of the accounts I follow have the writer at the forefront of their blog/feeds and this is why I love and build a relationship with them and this is what I would love to be able to do more…even if it is super scary.

Giving Back – Using my platform to give back to people is certainly something I want to utilise it more for this year. As an influencers I feel it’s important to use my reach to do good. It has brought me so much and I really feel I need to give something back this year.

Self Care – Towards the end of last year I was feeling extremely bad about myself and I feel a big part of this is due to the fact I have lost the ability to take time out for me, to switch off and to treat my body with the respect it deserves.

It’s my mission this year to exercise, feed and give myself my some mental health breaks as I know in the long run this is going to benefit everyone.

Have you got any gaols for the year ahead?

Strapping Myself To The Wagon In 2020

This picture has been doing the rounds since May 2018. It was the last time I finally felt like I was getting things back on track, but sadly despite several failed attempts the gap I had created in my jeans is now well and truly full again, as is the disappointment in myself.

My life used to revolve around the gym and healthy eating. For me this was always a priority, nothing else would get in the way of it and if I’m honest with myself it was obsessional, unhealthy, made me ill and in turn made my family suffer because of it.

The cycle of super strict eating, fad diets, over exercising followed by overeating and doing nothing have since filled the years resulting in beating myself up and living with the huge sense of failure.

As with every New Year I have filled myself with hope and a new found motivation has been fuelled with the hopes that this year things will finally change for the better and I will find a happy medium when it comes to health and well-being.

For the past few years it hasn’t just been the weight gain that has impacted my life, it’s been the implementations of this that are really showing.

I am run down the majority of the time, continual headaches and migraines that I know are linked to my bad diet, dull and dry skin that I’ve never had before and the inability to exercise like I used to.

All of these things have been staring me in the face for so long but I have been choosing to overlook them and hope they just go away which I know is not going to happen unless I change my lifestyle.

Above all of this though I want to to be a better role model to my children. I don’t want them to think that the perfect body is the only way to true happiness but I do want them to understand that we are blessed to be given the bodies we have and we should do our best to look after them, feed them, nourish them and not abuse them like I have been doing for way too long now!

2019 – Our Year In Pictures

I have been reflecting on the past year and kicking myself for not doing as much as I should, achieving as many goals as I wanted and generally beating myself up which isn’t a good thing at all.

After flicking through my camera roll I had a word with myself and realised that I am eternally grateful for my happy and healthy family and all the things we have accomplished in 2019 and I’m looking forward to seeing what 2020 brings us.

Alice In Wonderland At Hever Castle

[PRESS EVENT] If I was ever asked to depict a traditional Christmas then Hever Castle would be it for me. We have just had our fourth Christmas visit and it is still as spellbinding and breathtaking as our first trip.

Fairy lights covering the pathways, lights illuminating the vast lake and snow dipped trees tucked away made for an amazing start to our visit.

Already full of the spirit of Christmas we headed towards the castle where we got to sip hot chocolates and mulled wine, feast on mince pies and cookies whilst taking in the splendour of the beautifully decorated rooms.

Warm and toasty we headed back out into the grounds and had some fun on the carousel and the magic hall of mirrors. The children and adults alike where all smiles throughout.

Next up we headed to see the main man himself. We were a little early so the friendly elves set the boys down to writing their wish lists to Father Christmas that they could then seal and place in the letter box which was a lovely touch.

Before we knew it we were being guided through the snowy paths by more friendly elves who chatted about all the things they had been up to before passing us over to Father Christmas who was nestled away in his cute wooden cabin.

He chatted away to the children for some time and was extremely warm and welcoming. After a little pep talk on being good…which was most welcome they all received a lovely gift and we headed out to finish the evening with the Alice In Wonderland trail.

This is always one of my favourite parts of the evening and this year was one of my favourite themes. The actors were as elaborate and engaging as ever and the decorations were a wonder to see, although Oscar found a few a little spooky this year.

The beauty of Hever’s Christmas attraction is that tickets are not needed to be booked in advance for everything so there is the opportunity to enjoy this right up until Christmas Eve.

Four Benefits Of Buying A 4×4 Car

[AD] the lookout for a new car? Allow us to help! If you, like us are a big family it could be worth your while to invest in a 4×4.

Not only will you benefiting the space they provide, but you may find yourself falling in love with how comfortable and convenient they are. If you need some inspiration as to why your next car should be a 4×4 here are some benefits of buying one.

They Can Help The Driver Feel Safer On The Road – 4x4s May help you feel that little bit safer throughout your journey as the height of the cars are elevated, so each driver is provided with better visibility over the road in front of them which also means that you may have more opportunity to spot any potential hazards.

They Provide More Room For All The Family – if you have a big family like us the chances are you will need a bigger car to get around. From the school run and after school activities, to weekend road trips and visiting extended family a big car is essential when you have five children and need to squeeze them all in.

A new Land Rover from the likes of Peter Vardy for example is not only spacious, but also practical.

They Are Ideal For Winter Months – in comparison to a front or rear wheeled drive, 4x4s have the benefit of added traction. This means that you have more control over your vehicle, which is particularly needed in winter when it is cold and icy.

They Can Handle The Windy Roads – 4×4 cars are particularly useful when you live in the countryside and have to manoeuvre yourself around windy roads on a daily basis. As these roads are often not maintained as well as main roads and as a result prove tricky to drive on. When you are off-roading you need to tackle any obstacles or steep hills, so you will be grateful for the power increase.

So when it’s time to but a new car, do t forget to view some 4x4s, especially if you have a large family to transport on a daily basis!

The Best Christmas Markets In The UK

[AD] If you are looking for something fun to do in the run up to Christmas with the kids then you should certainly consider taking them to a Christmas market. It is hard not to get caught up in the excitement and magic at these events and it’s also a good way to stock up before the holidays, but a few presents and enjoy some time in the UK’s best cities.

You are spoilt for choice when it come to Christmas markets in the UK and here are some of the best:

Winchester – Winchester is one of the UK’s prettiest and most historic cities which makes it a superb place for a Christmas market. Taking place with the stunning Winchester Cathedral as it’s backdrop, the Christmas market here is always great fun with a magical atmosphere. There are over 100 chalets selling all kinds of festive goods. Simple walking around the town and seeing the sights is also a lovely experience and sure to get you in the mood for Christmas.

Bath – Another beautiful city, the Bath Christmas market has over 150 chalets selling all kinds of homeware, decorations, jewellery and much more so you are sure to find a few things for the holiday there. The market takes place in the postcard-esque streets surrounding the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey for another scenic setting.

Birmingham – The biggest Christmas market outside of Germany and Austria, the Birmingham Christmas market of the place to be of you like delicious treats such as schnitzel, bratwursts and gluhwein, and it’s easy to get into the mood of Christmas with love music and carol singing. There are 80+ stalls to pursue, selling all kinds kinds of traditional and personalised items too.

Edinburgh – The Edinburgh Christmas market is found in the heart of the picturesque Scottish city with something for everyone, including jewellery, delicious snacks, festive beverages and more. It can also be easily reached from neighbouring Glasgow with a train from Queen Street to Edinburgh.

These are just a few of the best Christmas markets to choose from, all of which have their own distinctive characteristics and highlights. These markets will certainly get the family in the mood for the holidays and give you the chance to get some supplies.

FUNharmonics Family Concert – ZOG

[GIFTED] I think I must have walked past, taken pictures outside and wondered about the Southbank Centre more than a hundred times over the the years but have never ventured inside.

So I was over the moon when we were asked along to a the FUNharmonics family concert of ZOG that was being held there.

The Julia Donaldson, Alex Scheffler classic has been a favourite in our house for many years now and I was intrigued how the London Philharmonic Orchestra were going to execute it.

We arrived to collect our tickets and after getting our bearing we headed to a great area that had been set up with lots of ZOG inspired crafts to keep the little ones busy before the show. this was all included in the price of a ticket and was the perfect way to get them thinking about the story before the main event kicked off.

We took to our seats in the beautiful auditorium and listened to the huge orchestra warming up. The boys loved looking at a whole host of different instruments and had fun trying to guess what each one was called.

It wasn’t long before the performance was underway and I was hugely impressed with how interactive it was. The children got to answer questions to find gold stars that appeared on the big screen, there was singing, dancing and lots of information given on the orchestra in a super fun way that was perfect for the age range of the audience.

For the second part it was time to settle down and watch the super cute Dragon – ZOG.

As the animation was running we were treated to an amazing performance from the London Philharmonic Orchestra that complemented the story perfectly.

The whole concert was far more interactive and educational than I was imagining and adults and children alike throughly enjoyed it, if all of the woops and cheers from the audience were anything to go by.

It really did bring a children’s classic to life and it is something that will remain firmly in our memory banks for many years to come.

The orchestra is turning to Beethoven in February for its next concert – Why Beethoven Threw The Stew and I’m sure it’s going to be as fabulous as ZOG so keep an eye out.

Get Ready For Christmas With These Handy Tips

[AD] Christmas is creeping up on us quickly and before we know it we’ll be pulling crackers and tucking into our dinner.

But before that comes a lot of planning. Have you started to prepare yet?

As we approach the festive season we often overstretch ourselves and tend to start feeling stressed – especially if we know we are welcoming guests.

However by getting organised early you can ensure that you and your family have a magical, memorable Christmas to be enjoyed by all! So what can be done to ensure you feel ready and excited this Christmas?

Budget In The Months Leading Up To Christmas – Although it would be amazing to have a no expense spared Christmas, unfortunately that’s unrealistic for a lot of us, especially when your family had five children! Minimise the risk of of falling behind money wise or getting into debt in the run up to Christmas by budgeting for it early on.

Whilst not many of us want to think about Christmas Day in October, by beginning to purchase some presents this early on you will be able to spread costs nicely throughout the months.

Enjoy Family Activities Together – As the temperatures begin to drop there is nothing better than getting snug with the kids and watching Christmas films.

Before watching Elf for the tenth time research some recipes for gingerbread houses and once you are ready pop the film on and get decorating with your children. It’s a great way to spend some family time.

Decorate The House – If you have got guests coming over for Christmas dinner this year you may want to make home feel even more Christmassy than usual. Ensure that your house is picture perfect ready by picking some gorgeous Christmas lighting and cute decorations – they’ll not only make you feel more festive, but your guests will appreciate all the effort you’ve gone too.

Put Time In Your Calendar To Visit Family And Friends Further Afield – With family often spread across the country it can sometimes prove difficult having everyone in one place over the Christmas period. If you have presents that you need to drop off make sure you schedule your visits early on so that you have time to see everyone.

By following these handy tips you will be ready for Christmas without the unnecessary stress.

Learning The Importance Of Friendship With – The Way Home For Wolf

[AD] Being five may seem to us adults a bit of a breeze. I mean you are fed, clothed, watered and the most challenging part of your day is which cereal to have in the morning.

But in reality those first few years are pretty tough as there are all sorts of hurdles to overcome, lots of boundaries you need to work out how and if you should push and just knowing how to fit in with your peers is all pretty tough going when you are so small.

I know for Oscar who has reached the grand old age of five, the determination to do things for himself and his self belief is pretty strong…not sure where he gets that from! So it’s good to try and explain to him that sometimes it takes a team to get through life and it is important to learn to accept help from others, and also be there for other people in your team; and this is the message the lovely new book – The Way Home For Wolf by Rachel Bright and Jim Field is trying to get across.

Rachel and Jim, who are also the creators of The Lion Inside, The Koala Who Could and The Squirrels Who Squabbled, have created a fantastically fun and easy to read picture book that tells the story of the uber confident wolf cub. Wilf is determined to take the lead when his wolf pack move on one cold and dark evening. Despite being told by his elders this wasn’t a good plan he finds himself lost, alone and not knowing what to do until he is found by a whole host of strangers that reach out a helping hand to him and help him find his way back to the safety of his family.

I love to encourage my children to be forthright and fearless, but in reality we all need a hand sometimes and should also always be there to keep an eye out for others needing that little bit of help too.

This is a lovely book that would actually make a fantastic gift for those of you with little ones starting school this year and it had come out just in time for this so go and take a look.

*Disclosure: This review is based on a free sample.