Crate Creatures Surprise:Review

Anything crazy looking, involving monsters and noise making is always a hit with Frankie and Oscar. Although I hate stereotypes my youngest two are definitely boisterous creatures and are always drawn towards toys that are a little bit naughty.

When I was asked to review ‘Pudge’ from Crate Creatures Surprise I knew they were going to be a big hit.

Pudge arrived caged and padlocked up and the boys took great delight in trying to crack the cage open and release the monster. Frankie could do this with ease and I loved the fact that aside from a few little bits of plastic there was no wasteful packaging as the cage could be used to store your new found friend.

Once freed the boys had a brilliant time pulling at his super long tongue that made his eyes glow bright as he shakes with temper that he has been pulled at! Although you need batteries for Pudge I was pleasantly surprised that there are batteries included to allow for a little play on demo mode which is pretty unusual and very welcome feature.

Just like the boys he is always hungry and pizza is definitely his meal of choice. He calls out to be fed pizza and makes noises of appreciation once he has chomped away.

Any kind of fast movements with him such a flipping and ticking will see Pudge squeal with delight which also had the boys in stitches.

I think one of the favourite features though was the response you get from him when spoken too…it has certainly been a breath of fresh air to have questions aimed at him rather than me!

There are four monsters to collect in total and each one has its own unique character offering a whole host of different features.

There is so much to love about these differnt creatures and they would make an absouotly great gift for both girls and boys.

*collaborated posts

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Four

This weeks ‘celebrating the small things’ is a little self indulgent as I’m unusually pleased with what I have achieved. I’m usually full of self doubt and always see the negatives in what I do which is really counter productive and something I want to try to improve so here it goes:

Happy In My Work- I recently restarted teaching my ladies fitness kickboxing classes which I have found a whole new love for. Teaching was always a huge passion for me but the more children I had the trickier it became to fit this kind of work in and sadly it stopped a few years ago.
Thankfully the New Year has bought with it some lovely faces both old and new that have made my job an absolute pleasure once again.

Weight Loss Going Well – A New Year, restarting my classes and a big hit of self motivation has seen me finally losing some weight.
I wrote a post a while ago on how the past few years have seen me gaining a lot of weigh which has really bought me down and I’m so pleased that over the past few weeks I have seen some changes for the good.
I’ve banished the scales as these are always a source of disappointment for me and have simply used how I look and real as motivation to keep me going.

Looking Back – Last week the lovely Carrisa over at Little Likely Lads tagged me in a post on Insta Stories that needed me to scroll back through my hundreds of photos on Instagram to find my first ever post.
Of course this task had me stopping and looking over all the photos through the years and made me love this social media platform even more.
Moments captured in pictures are hugely important to me and Instagram allows me to see a whole host of my favourite moments in seconds.

LaplandUK Early Bird Booking

I know you all probably think I’ve gone completely mad by talking about Christmas 2018 when if you are anything like me you are still trying to find places to home all the presents and loose all the weight from the Christmas just gone!

I can however confirm though that my marbles are all still firmly intact and I just wanted to give you a heads up the our favourite christmas experience EVER – LaplandUK is running an early bird offer from 29th January-2nd February 2018 that isn’t to be missed.

LaplandUK sold out completely last year and as someone that has visited countless Father Christmas’s over my twenty years of parenting I can confirm that this was the most amazing experience I have ever been to and something I don’t think could ever be topped.

LaplandUK offers a completely immersive experience that is completely spellbinding for the adults as well as the children.

If this is something you would be interested in then I really urge you to take a look HERE and get in quickly and take up this offer which is to good to miss!

Celebrating The Small Things:Week One

When I first started blogging it was a subject I knew very little about, and to say that I went into it blindly would be an understatement; but through the encouragement of family and friends I began my blogging journey and haven’t looked back since.

Over the past few years my blog has gone from strength to strength, it has now become my full time job and has bought me and my family some of the most amazing opportunities and allowed us to meet some wonderful people…some of which I would now class as good friends.

My blog is a place that I come to when I want people to find out about a great day out we have been on, somewhere I can give advice on great new products I have tried out or to celebrate big milestones in our lives; but as the New Year sets in and we naturally evaluate the different parts of our lives I have realised there is one area I have really overlooked when it comes to writing…The Small Things.

There are so many small moments in our lives that we take for granted or miss all together, moments that although may seem small and insignificant they give us great pleasure and we should learn to cherish and show our gratitude for them all.

I have decided to now do a weekly post highlighting all those little moments that would normally pass me by as a document to look back on in years to come and remember fondly.

Brotherly love: When it comes to the youngest two its always been a bit of a love hate relationship, with the latter certainly being more predominant, so when a special moment such as Frankie requesting to take his little brother out to share his birthday treat is an occasion that should be marked.

Lego: This may seem like a strange one, but the wonderful world of Lego has bought us all so much joy since Christmas in many ways. It dominated the youngest two’s christmas lists this year but has brought the whole family such pleasure and brought us together for some much needed quality time as we all muck in trying to make the next creation.

Storytime: Its been more than a few years since Izzy has requested a bedtime story, and to be truthful its not very often she willingly picks up a book! So after buying her the fantastic Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls it has been an absolute pleasure to see her engrossed in reading and sharing what she has learnt about a whole host of ‘kick arse’ women.

Being Present This Christmas

How many of you spend too much gazing at a screen, running backwards and forwards trying to get a million and one things done or getting bogged down with a huge workload.

This all sounds to familiar to my everyday life and it is something that I think about continually. I tell myself I am going to change so many of these things but life gets in the way and I never do.

I know that my phone and my camera are like a third hand to me and I spend way much time using both of them more than I should. Doing the job I do makes it hard to switch off as so much of my day to day life is in fact my work and I always end up using this as an excuse when I know that this isn’t healthy for any of us.

The children also spend more time than I like using devices so this Christmas we have all taken a step back and spent our Christmas how it should be…making conversation and playing games with family and friends.

I would usually be filming and photographing every minute of the day from the minute we wake up, right through the day, but instead I took a few snaps and a few Instastories that I couldn’t resist and spent the rest of the past few days being in the moment rather than trying to capture it.

I also made a conscious effort this year to buy the children games that allow them to use their imagination and interact with each other and that is exactly what has happened.

We have all been coming together to build Lego creations and the boys have been playing relatively argument free with their Playmobil models which has been so lovely to see.

It has also come to my attention that simple things such as board games are a real novelty to my children when really I should be making time much more often to sit down and play games like this with them as they bring so much joy to us all.

Emails have been ignored and any impending work has been put to the back of my mind so that I can concentrate on the people that are most important to me.

The world hasn’t stopped spinning because I haven’t opened posted to Instagram, the children haven’t missed out because they haven’t spent endless hours playing games on their Kindles, but what we have had is a few days of enjoying each others company that happens all to rarely and is certainly the best gift I have received this year.

Hot Chocolate Stirrers

With only a few days left until christmas I sure that most of you are all prepared and have gifts all bought and wrapped ready to go…however if you are anything like me then there are always those last few presents that you completely forget about!

My recipe for hot chocolate stirrers will make a lovely gift and is something super easy to make.

I use wooden spoons as the handle for mine but you can easily use lolly sticks or even something like cardboard straws.

The stirrers can be wrapped individually or like we did for the teachers gifts you can add a few homemade biscuits together with the stirrers and package them up in a nice Christmas mug.

If this sounds good to you then the recipe is below for you to try:

Makes 24 sticks

  • 800g mixture of dark and milk chocolate
  • 8 tbsp cocoa powder
  • hundreds and thousands, marshmallows or fudge pieces to decorate
  1. Break up the chocolate into a bowl and heat over a Bain Marie until completely melted.
  2. Slowly add the cocoa and mix thoroughly.
  3. Pour the mixture into a silicone mould(we used a round ice cube tray) and into each section place the spoon/stick into the centre.
  4. Decorate with your toppings of choice and then place in the fridge to harden for about an hour.
  5. When they are ready pop them out and gift wrap however you fancy!

Getting 2018 Off To A Swimming Start

Oh yes in only a few weeks all the jollities of Christmas will be over and it will be time to start thinking about the brand new year ahead of us.

After weeks of gorging on mince pies and mulled wine, spending hours in front of the television dipping into the christmas chocolates and feasting on three course meals with the family the first thing on my mind is going to be how to shift all of that winter weight gain!

If I’m completely honest it isn’t just Christmas that is to blame for my expanding waistline it has slowly been creeping on over the past two years and I’m finding it increasingly hard to give off that ‘I’m happy with my body at any size’ vibe!

Over my adult life I have struggled terribly with body image and still harbour a very unhealthy relationship with food that over the years has left me very poorly from under eating and over training to bringing out huge insecurities though talking things to the other end of the scale where I massively over eat and lead a very sedentary lifestyle.

Its not just what I look like on the outside that is an issue, I know I’m currently in a place when I’m not feeding my body as I should and this is leading to me feeling constantly lethargic and lacking in motivation.

My mental health is also bearing a lot of strain as my confidnce has taken a huge battering and I am finding myself avoiding social situations where I might feel intimidated by other women and am making myself feel very isolated at times.

Sitting here writing this has really brought this issue to light for me and although I’m really not a lover of setting New Years resolutions I am going to go into the New Year with a positive mind about getting myself fit and healthy so that I am happy within myself and not letting this have a detrimental effect on my family.

Through a combination of over training in my younger days, being overweight and the general effects of getting older my joints are really feeling the strain these days and I think the best way to get things back on track again is to ease myself into exercise with swimming.

Im not the strongest of swimmers but with even an easy swim burning off up too 500 calories it is certainly a great way to kick start exercise again.

The thought of donning a swimsuit however is filling me with dread but there are some great plus size swimwear options out there to ease the pain.

Once in the pool its not only calories that will be burned; it will also help to boost my metabolism and all the while keeping my joints safe.

Water is also a massive 800 times denser than air so with each push, pull and kick it will give your body a great resistance workout too.

So this new year will hopefully see me facing my fears, changing my way of life and fingers crossed getting some great results!

*collaberated post

Milestone Myths With Baby Annabell Learns To Walk

The arrival of a new baby is one of the most precious and wonderful moments of a parents life, they bring such overwhelming joy and love but also a whole host of worries and anxieties that get to us on a daily basis.

From how much they are eating to how much they are sleeping is a constant worry and also as they begin to grow and milestones are being reached the worries also turn into something a little more competitive. We begin to compare what off springs of families and friends are doing and goals they are reaching.

Toddler groups turn into a mine field of parents either bragging that their little ones have sat up for the first time or the poor parent at the other end of the scale that is still waiting for their child who is of the same age to even roll over.

As the years have past and the more children I have I’ve come to the realisation that hours or staring at developmental charts and comparing my babies with others is a negative waste of time and the focus should be on getting through those milestones when they are good and ready and not when a chart tells you they should.

As adults we are all still learning new skills which will be easier and done quicker for some than other and this is no different to when we a little. We all have strengths and weaknesses and this is what makes us all so wonderfully individual.

Being a Mum of five I can tell you that all of mine have taken their first steps at times rating from 9-14 months, some have crawled from as early a 6 months when others never crawled at all but ultimatly they have all reached those goals when they are good and ready.

With babies milestones in mind Baby Annabell have come up with the fabulous Baby Annabell Learns To Walk.

Doll mad Oscar was very excited to have a new friend to go with his favourite Little Brother doll and was in sheer amazement who he saw all the amazing things that this new doll could do.

Baby Annabel makes her way through those all important milestones from sitting to crawling and walking.

As with all children she has a few hiccups and when she is crawling will drop to her tummy and cry. This is not a problem as she will be happily picked up and sits on your knee whist wriggling and fidgeting around.

When it comes to walking she will happily take her first steps whist holding onto your hand a bubbling away with each move.

This doll has made a very welcome addition to our household and Oscar has been amazed with everything she’s does. The interation they can get from this doll is amazing and I’m sure this would be a welcome present under any tree this year.

*collaborated post

Keeping The Magic Of Christmas Alive At Lapland UK

Do you remember the wonder that each sparkling light on the christmas tree would behold, how the smell of the fresh pine needles used to fill the house and your heart with such excitement, how every sip of warm hot chocolate and each bite of your delicious mince pie would fill your tummy not only with good food but with butterflies from the anticipation of the arrival of Father Christmas each and every year.

As we get older sadly these feelings dwindle and our hopes and expectations of christmas change and the magic slowly fades away.

However once we are blessed with the gift of children this magic fills our hearts once more as we see the wonder through our children’s eyes.

I have soaked up every moment of my children’s twitchy fingers as they try to adoren the tree with the delicate decorations, looked on in wonder at each and every nativity play as the stand their fumbling through the words of those heart warming christmas carols and for me one of the most magical moments is clinging onto their wriggly bodies as they stand in line to see meet the big man himself…Father Christmas.

All these moments are precious yet sadly as fleeting as our own and each and every year I try my upmost to keep the magic alive for as long as possible.

Familiar traditions such as baking the Christmas cake and writing letters to Father Christmas all help with this but as with anything as children grow and their knowledge widens the belief in Father Christmas begins to be questioned and I can honestly say that the reality of having a non-believer has always been way harder on me than it has been for them.

If there was a place you could visit that was as magical and as mysterious as the thought of Father Christmas himself then surly this would help keep the magic alive for that little bit longer would it not?

This is what I has high hope of when we were asked along to Lapland UK last weekend. In its tenth year now I have never heard a negative comment about anyones trip and after meeting the charming husband and wife team Alison and Mike at an event last month I knew that the love and passion that came across as they spoke so fondly of their creation was going to shine trough on our trip.

I decided for my sanity to leave telling the children about our trip until the day before we left. I am completely at fault when it comes to making the children little balls of excitement as this time of year but even I couldn’t take how excited they were going to be on hearing they would be going on the trip.

The invitations get sent through the post in a beautiful presentation box with each child having a personal invitation, complete with a gorgeous wax seal.

The box itself can be placed in the freezer to make for a gust of cold air when they open it up which Frankie was absolute amazed with and went rushing over to the window to see if he could see the tail end of Father Christmas’s reindeers that must have just delivered them.

That night was like putting the children to bed on Christmas Eve, the excitment was immense and after reading The Untold Story Of Father Christmas which is written by the founders and is the perfect way to get them familiar with the lovable charters they would be meeting the next day, they finally settled.

We couldn’t believe our luck when we woke to snow the next morning and as we came off the motorway and drove a short way through snow covered woods it really couldn’t have been a more magical build up to or visit.

A short walk from the carpark we arrived at a beautiful snow covered building where we checked in with the friendly elf and enjoyed a quick snack before our tour started.

It wasn’t long before it was our turn to be guided through the huge bookcase into a magical enchanted forest where we were told the story of how each tiny pinecone turns into a elf that then helps out with making all the toys for Father Christmas to deliver.

This is also what our children had been enrolled to do and as we were about to set off to take up the challenge the huge set of doors was slowly opens to reveal a cascade of snow and a stunning snow covered walkway.

Once inside the workshop the children were all settled at work benches where they has the job of stuffing super cute polar bears ready for delivery on Christmas Eve. This could have lead to many tears and tantrums as the toys were not for them to keep, however the story had been told so well and their role for the day described perfectly so there was not one tear or moan from any of the children in the room.

After all their hard work we then made our way to meet Mother Christmas in her kitchen; the kitchen was snug and cosy and the warmth from Mother Christmas was infectious. The children carefully decorated their gingerbread trees and packed them away to hang from their own trees once they got home and then settled down to a story read by Mother Christmas herself whist the parents got the chance to snack on a delicious biscuit themselves.

When all the work was over we had free reign of the village where you could grab something good to eat and drink or like us get tempted by a few to many sweets in the sweet shop. We picked up a small gift in the shop that really was a child’s dream with a huge selection of gifts and of course not to be missed a trip to the ice rink.

Skating is really not my forte and although I braved it I stayed pretty much in one spot while the children fearlessly skated off with their Dad. Oscar was over the moon as ice skating is normally of the agenda for him as he is only three, but with the help of some super cool strap on skates and the aid of a penguin he was well away.

It was now time for the most anticipated part of the day…our trip to Father Christmas. The walk to the grotto held yet more beautifully snow covered pathways, the cutest of little elf homes and of course a stop off to visit the reindeers where we also got the chance to help out with preparing their food.

We had a very short wait until the children names were called and we were lead to his Grotto, the doors opened and the beaming smile from the big, jolly man filled the beautifully decorated room.

The children sat next to him, hanging on his every word in complete awe. The heart melting moment for me though was the look on the children’s faces when he spoke bout each one individually, letting out little snippets of their lives that they never imagined he would ever know.

Mouths aghast at what they had just experienced and me with tears in my eyes I know that there is no way that this visit could ever be topped and will certainly never be forgotten.

The attention to detail at every point is unbelievable, there wasn’t a queue in sight and the whole day ran seamlessly. But I think what stood out most for me was I didn’t hear a moan, a cross word or a cry from any child all day which is certainly a first for us and just shows that the whole experience is put together with the childs enjoyment being the top priority.

I experienced this day with children aged from fifteen to three and each and everyone felt and shared the magic of this wonderful place. Archie integrated with his younger siblings and loved every minute of watching their delight as we did and although he is way past the age of believing it was still an amazing experience for him.

The one that I most wanted to see the reaction of was Izzy though as the start of High School has already had an effect on her and her belief has been waining since last year, yet the sparkle in her eye and the smile on the face after this trip has given me at least one more year of magic with her and for that I will be forever grateful.

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

Camp Bestival-The Best Christmas Present EVER

When it comes to Christmas presents I always have a bit of a dilemma with myself. The children compile lists of plastic toys that I know will be discarded before Boxing Day, and every part of me wants to fulfil their wishes…however the sensible side of me thinks all that money would be better spent on experiences that will last a lifetime rather than faddy toys that will last for minutes.

If we look back over our year then one of the experiences that sticks in all our minds the most is certainly Camp Bestival – the family festival that has to be seen to be believed.

This year sees fantastic musical acts taking to the stage such as Rick Astley, Clean Bandit an Simple Minds. Regulars to the festival are Mr Tumble and Dick and Dom will be returning to amuse the children…well and the adults too!

One of the shows that my little ones are most excited to see though is Dinosaur World Live that looks absolutely outstanding.

This really is the kind of gift that I would love to find nestled under the tree on Christmas Day and if it sounds like something your family would love to receive to then there is a great promotion running until 11th December.

If you book your tickets before this time you will receive a whole host of fantastic stocking fillers such as nautical tattoos to go with this years ‘Sets Sail’ theme, character stickers, a hand illustrated Christmas card and a limited edition sew on patch.

If you would like to spread the cost then you can still sign up to the 30 week payment plan and still receive all your goodies!

Take a little look at just a few of the reasons we love Camp Bestival so much:

Scree Free, Quality Time: This for me has to come top of my list as it is something that is so lacking when we are at home. Its a chance to put away those phones, leave the iPads alone and just enjoy spending time together talking, laughing, playing and having fun.
My lot spend a huge time arguing and fighting when we are at home, and don’t get me wrong it is never an argument free trip but we are certainly more drawn together as a family and that bond gets a little tighter.

Good Food: As a family we are often drawn to places with our bellies and I can assure you if you are a foodie like me then Camp Bestival won’t fail to stimulate your taste buds.
From ice cream covered waffles to juicy burgers, scucculent corn on the cob to crispy chips every palate will be catered for and every belly filled.
Th little ones can also get more hands on and prepare their own food which was a big hit for mine last year.

Enjoy The Great Outdoors: The whole trip involves being outside which can seem a little daunting but there is actually nothing better.
From enjoying the hustle and bustle of the main festival to simply chilling out round the tent or hiding away in our favourite place – The Dingly Dell there is a whole host of ways to enjoy the great outdoors.

Late Nights: As a Mum of five bedtimes are pretty strict in this house for the sake of everyones sanity to be honest. Camp Bestival allows us to kick these rules aside and just let them all stay up until they drop. They love being up until way after dark, huddled up in their trailer listening to music and watching Mum and Dad’s silly dancing.
The last night has to be the favourite though with is spectacular firework display that is simply not to be missed.

Learning New Skills And Using Their Imaginations: Camp Bestival isn’t just about the music and acts on stage, it holds so much more and really allows the children how to build skills by trying things they may not have come across before such a circus skills, woodwork and cooking and bundles of activities that allow them to use their imagination and just LET KIDS BE KIDS!

I hope this has given you a little snippet of just some of the fun Camp Bestival can bring and has you wanting to experience it for yourselves next year!