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.

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.

Daily Goal Planner And Giveaway

[AD] I am notorious for my lack of organisation, love of procrastination and can usually be found somewhere compiling a list on an old envelope which will within minutes be lost and forgotten about.

This skill set doesn’t really lend itself well to a self employed mother of five and for as long as I can remember it has been something I just wish I could change.

With each new year comes a new zest to make it work and within a few months things are back to normal and I am chasing my tail with little knowledge of what is going on with my week ahead.

When I was asked to try out the Daily Goal Setter from Mal Paper I thought this might be the perfect opportunity to get myself into a little more order.

I continually feel that I have hundreds of tabs open in my head and none of them are complete and ready to close; so this planner has been a great way to dump the junk in my head onto paper and get it into some kind of order.

The goal setter starts off with a great introduction on how you can segment your day and get it into order. It allows to to scribble down goals you have for the short term and long term which is a great way to start thinking positively about life as a whole.

Things are then broken down and you can fill out tasks ranked in order of importance for your week ahead.

Breaking it down even further you can do a day by day list of tasks and notes that are interspersed with sections for you right down things you are grateful for, daily affirmations and great things that have happened to you that day.

For me life can sometimes get a little mundane and it can be hard to see all the good things that have happened day to day so I think having this allows you to take a moment to think of simple pleasures that have pleased you or have made you proud is a great way to make things a little more interesting and grateful.

My evenings are often spent scrolling aimlessly through my phone and this has given me a little outlet to be more organised, grateful and productive and I highly recommend you take a look.

If it sounds like something that would benefit you then click HERE for your chance to win your very own copy.

Our March…

March seems to have come and gone in the blink of an eye and as I still here going over what we have been up to I think it’s probably the fact we have been so busy it has just flown by.

Archie started off the month with landing himself his first real part time job. It is on a church retreat and he had the job of cooking, cleaning and serving the guests. He seems to be thoroughly enjoying the more tasks he is set and meeting new people who all seem to have sixth amazing stories to tell.

I have to admit when he first told me about where it was(down a load of country lanes with no public transport) I was moaning like made as I knew this was going to fall back on me to get him there and back. But it wasn’t until someone said instead of moaning you should be proud of him for taking the time to find himself work and apply himself that I realise I should suck it up and praise him for his drive and want for independence.

Frankie has one of his routine trips to the hospital for an eye check and the good news is he is nearly done with patching. There has been a huge improvement in this sight and they have got it to a leave that is now remaining stable, so the daily battles with the patch I’m am happy to say are now over!

I fast forwarded the year and stepped straight into summer at the Next Happy Hotel event where I got to look at a whole host of products from homeware, clothing and beauty that are set to make for a pretty great summer. There were some fantastic pieces in each and every section but I think I was most surprised by the amount of other beauty brands that are available through next. I had no idea they stocked Benefit…did you?

From a event on my own to one with all the family at Chessington World Of Adventures. For those of you that regularly read my blog you will know that I have been an ambassador for them for the past few years now and absolutely love watching the changes each and every year. This year the have a new interactive attraction based on the much loved book – Room On The Broom. The children loved it and it’s a must see for any fans of the story.

I have been up and down with my exercise but Jemma’s Health Hub has kept things pretty constant for me so I’m hoping to feel a lot healthier and less self continuous this summer.

Whist we are in the subject of health I had a little bit of a scare with some chest pains that I was referred to the hospital for. My blood pressure isn’t really what it should be and I am waiting on a scan just to check that everything is ok and it’s actually given me more of a push to shift these pounds and get my exercise back to being an everyday routine rather than a chore.

Peppa Pig is still very much a favourite in this house with the boys…even though Frankie wouldn’t let on to anyone; so we were very excited to go along to Leicester Square to see the new film that is put this Easter. The boys absolved it and I’m sure it’s going to be another big hit.

From this screening we went straight to the Royal Opera House to take a look at one of their family fun Sunday events. I was more than a little apprehensive about taking the youngest two as they don’t really scream Royal Opera house! I needn’t have worried though as it was such a relaxed atmosphere where they got to enjoy lots of crafts, storytelling sessions and witness the most amazing ballet and modern performances. It really would come highly recommend from us.

With Mother’s Day on everyone’s minds I was invited along for afternoon tea with Paperchase. We got to chat to lots of lovey mummies and take a look at all the amazing products Paperchase had to offer this year.

A highlight for me probably more than the children this month though was a screening of the new Dumbo movie. It is most definitely a childhood favourite for me and I was so pleased that Disney had worked their magic and managed to recreate a different but equally as thought provoking and heart warming movie as the last.

Spring definitely seems to have been making an appearance and we have been enjoying this with some time in the garden, plenty of hot cross buns and some spring flowers. I really do love this time of year.

The last few days of March will always be ones to remember as the day we were celebrating Izzy’s 13th birthday party my eldest daughter Alice decided to give birth to my beautiful second grandchild. We don’t like to do things by halves in this family and it was a whirlwind 24 hours but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.

After all the chaos it was time to celebrate Mother’s Day and this is traditionally a nightmare day and this year didn’t disappoint.

I think I have this ridiculous expectations that my children are going to turn into angels for one day and the arguing and bad behaviour are all going to disappear! Sadly of course this doesn’t happen and we started the day with two of them devouring my chocolates before I even sat down to breakfast, one then decided to throw the said breakfast as their sisters head and so the day started.

Next year I’m going to lower the expectations in the hope that this will help!

A Laid Back Trip To Santa At The London Transport Museum

A trip to the London Transport Museum always goes down well with my lot, especially at Christmas. I mean being in the heart of Covent Garden which is always brimming with festive cheer has to be one of the most perfect settings; and last weekend as we caught sight of the beautiful red and blue christmas tree standing proud outside the museum we were filled with excitement and anticipation of what the day would hold.

We made our way inside where the boys immediately jumped on board the buses letting their imaginations run wild, asking where we wanted to travel to and recalling all the London landmarks they could think of.

When they had finished we made our way to the magical forest to see if we could find Santa. Unlike last year where you went inside a cabin to meet Santa as a family things have been changed around a little and the whole experience is less formal and has a lovely laid back feel to it.

We sat on cosy cushions whilst the boys played with wooden toys and read books until the big man himself arrived. He sat amongst and chatted to us all, asking how far we had come and what the childrens wishes were for christmas. He gave each child a special badge and was more than happy for you to take photos with him.

There were lots of tiny tots there which for me seemed like the perfect introduction to meeting Santa without the long queues and hefty price tags. Santa will be there until the 23rd December from eleven to three so keep an eye out for him throughout the museum.

The festive fun doesn’t stop there as there is the opportunity to sit amongst the magical forest for the story time sessions that run everyday at 11.30 and 1.30 and use an array of different props and instruments.

The boys also took a chance to get crafty by making glittery, sparkly christmas decoration with all manner of glitter glues and pretty pom poms.

All the sessions are completely free of charge and come in with the entry price which at £17.50 per adult and children going free is amazing value. This entry price also gives you admittion for 12 months so you can enjoy the museum time and time again.

We headed around the rest of the museum where the boys got to play at being train drivers, took me for a ride in a taxi and played for ages in the play area which is always a big hit.

One area of the museum which seems to have eluded us until now is the Upper Deck cafe where we had an amazing lunch. On previous visits we had eaten inside the hub of the museum which was a great way to grab a quick bite whilst the kids play, but the Upper Deck gave us a much vaster menu and an amazing view of Covent Garden whilst we ate.

We were all super hungry and we filled our bellies with delicious juicy sausages, oozing burgers and crispy chips. There was a great choice from salads and sandwiches to coffees and cakes and the cake were certainly the piece de resistance for us with a super cool London underground icing top.

To finish our day we headed back down to the museum shop which is probably within the minority of attraction shops I don’t wizz the kids through.  They have a gorgorgous range of eclectic gifts, stunning christmas decorations and pocket money toys that are a far cry from the usual brittle plastic rubbish you usually come across.

I really can’t stop singing praises for the London Transport Museum and it really is a brilliant place to visit at this time of year.

* We were gifted this day out plus gifts for the purpose of this review and they are all my own honest opinions.

Premier League Writing Stars Competition

Earlier in the year a few of you may remember that I was lucky enough to attend the Premier League Primary Stars One Year On event which introduced me to the fabulous community project that has been set up to help develop literary skills amongst primary aged children.

After hearing the children recite the winning entries I was absolutely astounded at the time, thought and love that had gone into these entries and the look of pride that beamed from the children’s faces was a clear indicator of what an amazing initiative this is.

Last year the project reached out to over 25000 schools and brought a fun and different way to engage the children in learning, opening up a different world to so many of them who ordinarily may not have had an interest in the written word before.

This year they are back with another poetry competition that has the theme of diversity. This is a great way to get the children thinking about and celebrating everyones differences as well as similarities and why these are so important.

This subject is close to my heart as since starting school the differences and segregation that comes with Frankie’s food allergies have been hightened and I think that getting his feelings written down about this could be really cathartic for him; and reading through other entries may open his eyes to all the differences in the world and how each and everyone of these makes that person special, individual and just as important and anyone else.

They have inslisted the help of poet Joseph Coelho who has written a poem entitled ‘Beautifly Different, Wonderfully The Same’ which I’m sure you will agree is just perfect to get the childrens imaginations and creativity flowing.

Again this year they have a star studded panel comprising of former Premier Leaugefootballer – Rio Ferdinand, author – Lauren Child,  singer/songwriter – Olly Murs and Joseph Coelho himself who will have the tough job of picking winners based on a whole range of different criteria. The lucky winner will get their poem published in a limited edition book whilst there are other great prizes such a Premier League trophy school visits and author-ledwriting workshops up for grabs.

I’m sure that after reading this many of you will see just how much this project could enrich your children’s own school and if they are not already signed up to Premier League Primary Stars then all they need to do is sign up HERE.

The competition is running until 21st December 2018 so there is still plenty of time to get those creative juices flowing.

*collaborated post

Supporting World Cord Blood Day

Saving cord blood after giving birth is something that I have only heard about over the past few years and something that I wish I had known more about during my pregnancy with my last son as it is certainly something that I would have done due to it’s many benefits.

Its fantastic to know that 1 in 3 women are now aware of this option and many are adding this to their birth plans.

Although awareness of the option to save the cord blood is becoming a lot greater there still needs to be a little more knowledge out there on what it is and what it can do. I for one had limited knowledge and it was a real eye open to see what this wondererous blood can actually do. I have written a little about it here to make people more aware on World Cord Blood Day.

Cord blood stays in the placenta and umbilical cord after the birth of your baby. It is very rich in stem cells which are similar to those found in bone marrow(cord blood is however a lot easier to collect) and can be used to treat a whole array of problems such as genetic disorders, immune deficiencies and some cancers.

Stem cells are magical in the scene that they can develop in the parts of the blood that the body needs whether that be white or red blood cells or platelets which is very clever indeed. These cells found in the cord blood are more pristine than stem cells found in adults due to less exposure to environmental factors and illness.

Ordinarily after birth your placenta is thrown away with all the cord blood that is stored inside, but thanks to advanced reasrch in this field so many conditions and diseases have been treated with the stem cells found in this blood that more and more people are choosing to have it collected and stored.

The simple process that takes no time at all can help towards treating blood cancers such as leukaemia and lymphoma, blood dissuaders like sickle cell and thalassaemia,immunodeficiencies, metabolic disorders and bone marrow failure.

For me saving this blood which is a such a simple procedure is a no brainer and I hope that this has given you an insight into just what it can do.

*collaborated post

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.

*collaborated post

Needing To Feel Needed

This week bought the day I had been dreading for so long and to most of you this may seem extreme, but after a long twenty one years of having a little ones at home with me this era of my life has almost come to an end.

I have spent hours upon hours craving a few hours on my own to grab a child free coffee and now the silence is strange, I have moaned so many times about my mornings being filled with hectic and noisy soft play visits and luke warm coffee being drunk at toddler groups which I’m now finding myself longing for.

My work over the past few years has been crammed into a few small hours during the day and leaving me having to put in hours way later into the evening that I liked. My new found freedom should be a blessing to finally get back to a proper working day but instead I’m craving the sound of Cbeebies in the background and requests for snacks every few minutes and I think this is where I really finding it hard… I’m no longer needed!

The care of my last little bundle has been handed over to someone else who as I know to well will become their font of knowledge, his independence will grow even greater and all those things that I have moaned about and tired of over the years such as wiping noses and buttoning shirts will soon be a thing of the past and in a strange way I’m really going to miss all of this.

Of course I know that nothing lasts forever and I want and encourage my children to be confident, strong willed and independent but this doesn’t help me feeling a little more redundant with each new step they reach. The person that I have been for over two decades is slowing changing and I am not sure I’m ready for that.

My job as a Mother is ever changing and evolving and I should be embracing this new chapter in both our lives rather than seeing it as something negative I should look at all the positives its brings and I’m sure that a few months in I will be reading this back and wondering what the hell I was getting so emotional over. But for now I’m going to make the most of these last few child filled afternoons and try and embrace the change it will bring for us both.

photo credit – Laura Shaw Photography

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.

*collaborative post