A Spooky Morning With Goosebumps 2

Over the years my love for all things spooky has grown and grown. As I child I never really got into the whole Halloween thing, but as I’ve had my own children and Halloween has become more popular in the UK it’s one of the things I love about autumn.

We spend the weeks in the lead up picking pumpkins and decorating the house but spooky movies are something I’ve never got into – mainly due to the fear of scaring the life out of the children and me getting no sleep for months!

So when we were asked along to the screening of Goosbumps 2 I was a little apprehensive about who to take.

Izzy had already seen and loved the first film and after watching the trailer the boys begged me to come along ensuring me they were brave enough to go along!

We arrived to the cinema foyer decked out in with all things spooky. There were magic acts, photo booths, face paint stands and food galore. The children really were spoilt for choice.

Full of sugar and eager to see what the film had to offer we made our way to our seats.

Minutes into the film came out first jumpy moment and I questioned wether I should have taken the boys or not, but the didn’t seem fazed and continued to sit with their eyes glued to the screen.

The film sees mum Kathy the heart of the Quinn family trying to juggle raising two children alongside working in a nursing home which is not for the faint hearted.

Some of the child care duties are passed down to her eldest daughter Sarah who’s eyes and heart are taken away from her duties by her love interest which leaves plenty of time for her brother Sammy and his friend to get up to lots of mischief whilst trying to make a few pennies with their house clearance business.

Whilst out on one of their collections they unearth some seemingly harmless treasure in the form of a locked book and a ventriloquist dummy, but they had no idea what problems these finds were going to bring.

The unfinished work of R.L Stine(Jack Black) and ‘Snappy’ the ventriloquist dummy in fact bring a whole host of problems to the Quinn family and give the entire town of Wardenclyffe a Halloween to remember!

Goosebumps 2 gave us the perfect introduction to horror and although it had plenty of heart in mouth moments, ghosts, ghouls and monsters galore and the fear factor of not knowing what was going to come next; it was perfect viewing for the younger ones whilst still giving the teens a movie to enjoy.

The film also had a great comedy element to it in the form of the mad neighbour Mr Chu who helps the kids on the mission to save their mother from the grips of Snappy with his huge knowledge of all things Goodebumps related and his quick eye for fashion!

Goosebumps is definitely one to watch and for me I will never look at a gummy bear in the same light again!

The Tree, The Key And Me:Personalised Book Review

Personalised books have always been a huge favourite with all of my children. They love the ability it gives them to transport themselves into the heart of the story and really connect with the tale.

Personalised books are a great way to get reluctant readers to engage in a story and open up their minds to the potential rewards they can reap from reading. In turn this passion can help greatly with their speech and vocabulary and who knows might even help them to become a little book worm.

For me though I think it takes a special type of personalised book with a good story and beautiful illustrations that keeps you wanting to turn the pages and discover more, allowing them to get excited about finding themselves at the heart of the narrative.

All my children have been reluctant readers and it takes a lot to get them engaged in reading. My biggest challenge however has been Frankie who resists reading for different reasons to the other others. He has in fact struggled with his reading and is currently being kept an eye on as he is showing signs of dyslexia.

For him the written world is a scary place and so anything to make his reading journey easier is a bonus for us. So when we were asked by Librio to review their personalised book – The Tree, The Key and Me I had high hope this would be something Frankie could fall in love with.

I am sometimes overwhelmed by creating personalised items online and can often be disheartened that the character I am creating doesn’t look as I want. Libro however have created a configurator with over 8000 possible combinations so you can get an incredible likeness – glasses and wavy hair included for Frankie. They have everything covered so your character can be created using their own gender, skin tone, eye colour, hair colour and even hairstyle.

Something that I have also never come across before to is the ability to have the book written in 18 different languages and dialects, including UK and US English, French, German, Swiss, Italian, Spanish an Welsh.

As well as creating your own little person there is also the opportunity to add a special message at the beginning of the book which is yet another fantastic personal touch.

The personalisation took very little time and our book arrived in a matter of days. We went for the paperback version that is made from high quality, 100% recycled paper from the award winning printers Pureprint Group. This offers a top quality finish to the beautiful book which came with stunning illustrations and a story of a little boy who finds a key whilst digging for treasure which opens up a door to a very special forest which is home to all kinds of adorable animals that need help to save their home from losing its colour.

Frankie’s eyes lit up the moment he saw the picture on the front cover and realised before even opening the first page that this was him. It was an absolute pleasure to see him try and read this story and find out with each turn of the page where his was going to be off to next and what kind of adventures he would be getting up to.

If you are looking for a story to is going to be a keep sake for many years to come then this is the book for you. Librio also give back a huge amount by planting a tree with Trees For The Future for every book sold and on top of that for each book sold they donate £1 to literacy charities who do some amazing work to encourage children to find a love of books.

I now have to create one for Oscar who is keen to be part of the magic trees adventures too and if you order two or more books you can get a 15% discount by entering the code YAY15 which is perfect for the run up to Christmas.

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Super Start To School With PJ Masks

Over the past few weeks the reality of Oscar starting school has set in and I can safely say that it is me with the butterflies in my tummy and the waves of anxiety on a daily basis.

Oscar however seems pretty relaxed about the whole prospect and is eager to get started, make new friends and start his new and exciting journey into school life.

After five children I know all to well that even the most confident and self assured children can have trouble with coping this massive change and it is our job as parents to make this transition as easy as possible.

One thing I know that mine have all had trouble with is the more structured day they have compared to nursery. Although the majority of their learning is still done through play a lot of it is tailored to help them learn and this is something I have been helping Oscar to get used to with the help of PJ Masks.

Oscar has been a huge fan of the lovable charters Owlet, Catboy and Gekko for some time now and their inspirational super powers are the perfect way to motive children to learn and give them confidence to battle through their fears.

Oscar really needed some practice with his hand writing skills and the PJ Masks First Writing book has been a fantastic aid for him. the wipe clean pages allow him to try over and over again without wasting endless sheets of paper.

We have also been learning in a more interactive way with the PJ Masks Leaning Headquarters that has three different modes of play that allows Cat Car, Owl Slider and Gekko Mobile to complete different missions. The catchy theme tunes and familiar faces make challenges such as memory skills, problem solving and much more all the more fun.

A learning tool that is pretty familiar to our house is the Leap Frog range. Oscar was trilled with his Leap Start which is just like bringing a book to life. He didn’t even realise that through the touch and talk games he was building his reading, numerical and problem solving skills.

Lunch time at school can be a pretty daunting experience too with all the hustle and bustle of so many children and the noise levels going through the roof. With school encouraging independence having a lunch that is easy to get into is of great importance. Oscar will be able to get off to a great start with his PJ Mask lunch box filled with his easy to open…and leak proof drinks bottle and super cool snack pot that can be filled with different treats everyday.

All thats left now is for some of those PJ Mask super powers to rub off onto my little superhero and hope this will get him and me through those tricky first few weeks.

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Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty Seven

This week sees me celebrating much loved toys, birthday celebrations and the love of small businesses.

Lego – Lego has been the most played with and loved toy in our house for over fifteen years now. Those little bricks that clog up the hoover and create the most excruciating pain when trodden on can be a nightmare to tidy away but I love the way it keeps them occupied for hours and always them to use their imagination in a whole host of ways.

Birthday Celebrations – With Oscar starting school this September it has been so lovely to have already meet some lovely Mums and their new starters.

I feel so lucky that my children attend a school where it is so family oriented and such great friendship groups are build for the parents as much as the children.

This has allowed Oscar to celebrate a birthday of one of his new found friends and who is is so eager to start his school life with in the next few weeks.

Book Launches – Through my work I have had the opportunity to work with some absolutely amazing companies and this is just one of the many reasons I love my job.

I do however have a real passion for smaller businesses that are just starting out in this very competitive and crazy world of business.

So when I was asked along to cover the launch of the lovely Kate Bodell’s first book I was so happy to be able to be part of her journey.

Going along and seeing the love and support she had from her doting family and friends was so special and I was so happy to be part of this.

‘Bumbelinda’ Secret Garden Book Launch

Tucked away in hustle and bustle of South London is a beautiful little secret garden that I was lucky enough to visit the other day for the launch of he lovely new book ‘Bumbelinda‘ that has just been published by the lovely Kate Bodell.

I arrived at the launch to be greeted by a beautifully decorated garden within a local primary school and a group of friendly faces that welcomed me and pulled me into the group that exuded the excitement and passion they had for the launch of Kate’s first childrens book.

Kate is a writer and illustrator based in South London who is a teaching Mum of two that has used all her experiences with children to put together the amazing picture book – Bumbelinda.

We were treated to a reading of the book by Kate herself and with an audience of little ones it was going to be a tough nut to crack!

We all settle in the sunshine whilst Kate introduced us to Bumbelinda, the fairy that has turned all those preconceived pink and fluffy images of fairies on their head with her scruffy appearance and toilet humour.

Bumbelinda being different to your stereotypical fairy means that this cute tale also appeals to little boys that might sometimes overlook the magic of believing in faries can bring!

When a very excited little girl stumbles across Bumbelinda she soon finds the task of getting her two wishes grated a pretty tricky one and I will let you all find out if she manages to convince Bumbelinda to make them come true!

Kate has poured so much love and effort into this wonderful book and this shines though in each and every detail.

The book is full of fun and as you turn each colourful page there is a cleverly hidden message about friendship and following your dreams.

I actually see Izzy very much in this story and this is probably why she was so taken with the story, along with the boys who love her cheeky character and her love of the word ‘poo’.

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Exploring Stories With Pizza Express And Puffin Books

If a poll was taken with my family on which was their favourite restaurant I know that Pizza Express would win hands down!

The children love the delicious food that is served quickly to quash those all to familiar ‘I’m starving’ moans and as a parent I love the family friendly vibe that you get in each and every restaurant. The hustle and bustle means I don’t feel I need to be continually asking the kids to be quiet and with the great activities that are always on offer there is actually not much chance for fidgety bums and fingers to get restless.

It was in fact an exciting new activity pack and competition that Puffin Books have created for Pizza Express that saw us making our way to one of their Brighton branches last week.

We were taken to our seats by our super friendly waiter that handed the children their activities packs and they got started on them straight away. The Story Explorers Adventure Journal was full to the brim with activities and games inspired by different books and it really got the children’s creative juices flowing.

After trying to create their own Grey Huffley from their favourite series – Diary Of A Wimpy Kid they feasted on a starter of dough balls and vegetable crudités while I indulged in some delicately battered calamari that I had to keep Izzy away from!

Actually if you are a fans of Diary Of The Wimpy Kid too then there is a brilliant competition you can enter where you can design your own book cover and submit it online for your chance to win a family portrait down for you by Jeff Kinney, the author of Diary Of A Wimpy Kid himself.

As we waited on our mains we were treated to a visit from caricaturist Sean Savage who created a fantastic portrait of us all. The kids absolutely loved it and found the size of my teeth hilarious!

With our special memento safely tucked away we ate a delicious selection of pizza and pasta that didn’t fail to disappoint.

Aside from being so family friendly another highlight of Pizza Express for us is the way they cater for Frankie and his multiple allergies. The kids menu can be adapted perfectly which always makes him feel inclusive rather than having to have something completely different which can happen in so many other restaurants.

We had a quick break between courses where it was Izzy’s job to make up the chatter boxes that came in the activity packs. These are always a hit with us and they played for ages asking each other questions to unveil the final answer.

A meal out isn’t complete without desert and at Pizza Express you really are spoilt for choice. The children dived into ice cream sundaes and brownies whilst I went for the mini biscoff cheesecake dolcetti which I told myself was a lighter option!

Full to the brim and bursting with ideas on stories they were going to create and illustrate when they got home really meant that Pizza Express has been a feast for our minds as well as our bellies and we highly reccomend a trip there soon so you don’t miss out on all the fun!

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Win A Family Ticket To This Summer’s Wild Child Festival

For the past three years we have been huge fans of family festivals and I am so excited to be adding another one to our list this year as I become an ambassador for the Wild Child Festival in the leafy grounds of the Dulwich Estate in South London.

This brand new festival is going to be focusing on children’s entertainment and workshops for children aged 0-11 and runs over a three day period from Friday 17th August to Sunday 19th August 2018 and has been kept to only 500 families per day which makes for an intimate and less stressful experience…as lets face it children and queues never mix well!

For me festivals offer time together as a family away from the distractions of day to day life, time away from screens to really connect with each other, try new skills and experience new firsts.

The brain child behind this festival is Hayley Byfield who as a Mum and art producer who has worked on events at several large festivals over the past 20 years is the perfect person to create a festival that will be enjoyable for both the children as well as the adults.

I know all to well that festivals with little ones can be a daunting prospect so having the option to go along for the day to enjoy the festival vibes without the pressure of the camping element is a great way to go.

With over 11 art inspired zones there really is something to cater for all tastes. The Giggly Grove is set to be a giggle a minute with comedy acts aimed at children. The Magic Hollow is the place to go for all those aspiring magicians. The Wordy Wood will allows the children to slip away into a literary world. The Little Top is the place to perform all those circus skills. The Bop Along Ballroom is the perfect place to get those dancing shoes ready and practice those groovy moves. For any coding fans The Imagination Lab is the place to be. If funk, soul and jazz are more your thing then you need to make your way to the Harmony Hideout. For those of you with little ones the Babes In The Burrow with be a lovely little hideaway from the hustle and bustle of it all. I know a hit with us is going to be the Crafy Den where the children can take part in all kinds of crafts from festival crowns and dream catcher to water pistol painting and wacky weaving. Finally is the Play House where the kids can explore a dinosaur world, play games in the unicorn meadow an so much more!

We literally can’t wait to get along and experience this for ourselves and if you fancy coming along to join in the fun then take a look HERE to book your tickets or I am very pleased to say I have a competition running to win a family ticket that you can enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway Terms and Conditions

1. Giveaway is open to entrants worldwide. 2. No purchase necessary. 3. Ages 18 and over only.

4. Prize is a family ticket to Wild Child Festival in Dulwich.

5. A family ticket refers to 2 adults and 2 children or 1 adult and 3 children.

6. Tickets are for any day of the festival that the winners wish to attend. 7. Winner will be notified within 7 days of the random draw.

8. We will make all reasonable attempts to contact the winner; if after 3 attempts the winner still hasn’t claimed their prize, the promoter reserves the right to redraw.

9. Winner will need to confirm their festival attendance date with the promoter, within 72 hours of claiming their win.**

10. No last minute changes for number of guests or attendance date, unless authorised by the promoter. 11. No cash alternative, exchange, refund or resale.

12. Promoter reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value should circumstances make this necessary.

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What The Ladybird Heard At Rose Theatre Kingston:Review

We all have a favourite books from our childhood; one that brings back memories and even into our adult life can evoke feelings from times and places around that very story.

The beauty of finding your favourite book in this day and age is the fact that many of the classics are adapted for the big screen or stage, allowing you to enjoy the story in a completely different way.

A favourite in our house at the moment, especially with Frankie is What The Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson. Frankie first came across this fantastic book whilst covering it at school and was lucky enough to play a part in the school assembly that we all loved watching.

You can imagine his excitement when I told him we would be going to see the show on stage at the Rose Theatre in Kingston.

The Rose Theatre is a new discovery for us and we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived to the super friendly staff in a lovely bright and spacious reception that lead onto a cafe full of scrummy treats and a small play area that was perfect to keep restless fingers busy.

After a quick look around we made our way to our seats inside the theatre. It had a really laid back feel to it and the children were invited to grab a cushion and take a seat right in front of the stage or settle in their seats if they wanted. Actually as sad as this may seem the seats were a pretty big highlight for me as they were the usual retractable kind but came in a double seat which saved the continual chair banging throughout the show!

The colourful set had the whole audience of little people gazing at the stage with anticipation of the start. It wasn’t long before the lights dimmed and the charters took to the stage. The tale of the two cheeky robbers who were out to steal the farmers prized cow started to unfold and with the use of extremely clear props…my favourite was the goose made from a watering can, catchy tunes and bundles of audience participation the children were keeped engaged for the whole 55 mins which is no mean feat when there is such a young audience.

During the show the children were encouraged to join in with animal noises, sing and mimic the actions to songs and try to spot the elusive ladybird which seemed a favourite with them all. There was also plenty of slapstick style comedy thrown in which is always a hit with my lot!

The characters were warm and friendly and really drew the children in and made a great connection with them. Frankie took a real liking to the naughty robbers whilst Oscar was pretty taken with the jolly farmer.

At the end of the show we were lucky enough to be able to take to the stage for a chat with the characters and the children got to try their hand at using some of the amazing props.

Frankie was over the moon the meet his favourite character ‘Lanky Len’ and Izzy was in her element to get five minutes on stage as this is her absolute dream.

We had a fantastic afternoon and highly recommend this show as a half term treat for all the family.

What The Ladybird Heard Is Coming to The Rose Theatre

Im sure that most of you with little ones will be all to familiar with the wonderful book – What The Ladybird Heard by the talented author Julia Donaldson.

What The Ladybird Heard is the first in a series of three picture books that sees Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len come together to counter up a plan to steal the famers prize winning cow; but the ladybird has a plan of her very own!

From the 29th May – 3rd June this much loved tale is being brought to life on the stage go the Rose Theatre, Kingston with tickets starting from as little as £10.

The 55 minute performance will bring recognisable songs, live music, puppetry, plenty of audience participation and of course lots of fun and laugher.

This would make the perfect treat for any little one who loves these stories and a great way to introduce them to the wonderful world of theatre.

To really get them in the spirit of things Fenwick in the Bentalls, Kingston have put on a whole host of activities from a What The Ladybird Heard trial around their third floor, colouring sheets and crafting workshops and a delicious sounding themed lunch in their restaurant.

We will be going along soon to see for ourselves what the show has to offer and if it is something of interest to you then click HERE to book your tickets.

Peter Rabbit Movie:Review

If the tales of Peter Rabbit conjure up thoughts of a mischievous little bunny in a blue jacket, an angry gardener going by the name of Mr Mcgregor all based in a quintessentially english garden then the new Peter Rabbit movie will bring you all of this along with a few new characters and adventures thrown in!

I was lucky enough to go along to a screening the other afternoon with Oscar…much to the annoyance of the other kids to see first hand if the movie lived up to its huge expectations.

The first thing that grabbed my attention was the amazing use of CGI when it came to the super cute bunnies, their fluffy little faces really came to life and were hard to tell apart from the real thing.

The movie follows the timeless classic tale of the feud between Peter Rabbit and Mr McGregor and their long running battle over the ownership of the vegetable patch which in this new adaptation see the sudden death of the evil old man(could be a tricky one to explain to the kids, although it went over Oscar’s head), much to the delight of Peter and his siblings Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail.

Celebrations commence with a rowdy party hosted by Peter himself which involves all the surrounding wildlife taking over Mc Gregors home and partying the night away whist completely trashing the place.

Mr Tod the sly fox was left in a sorry state slumped in the bathroom with a shaved chest, tiny were hedgehogs being used as darts and Peter Rabbit himself was playing lord of the manner whist charming the ladies. This is all a far cry from the traditional tale but bought laughs a plenty to the audience.

The celebrations were short lived when Tom McGregor the nephew of Mr McGregor arrives to take charge of his newly inherited property. The garden feud continues with the younger, more sprightly counterpart who tests Peter’s light fingered ways and gives him a real run for his money whilst both battling for the affections of Mr Mcgregors beautiful, kind hearted neighbour which makes for an explosive end to the film!

The catchy up to date tunes and slapstick humour are all a far cry from the stories 19th centuries origins, but there are highlights back to the tales original identity through the film which is a lovely touch and allows you to relate back to familiar and much loved characters.

The movie has shot into the 21st century with rapping birds, booby traps that are far more advanced than the original garden sieve method of capture and a little romance thrown in for good measure makes for a family movie that will make a perfect treat this Easter.