Talking To Teens About Vaping

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*collaborated post

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twelve

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

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

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

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

Sweets Galore For Barratt’s 170th Birthday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*collaborated post

Dinosaurs In The Wild:Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Easter Fun At Morden Hall Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Country Kids

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Eleven

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

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

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

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

Geomag Review And Giveaway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

PJ Masks New Series 2 Viewing Party

PJ Masks has been a favourite TV show in our house for a good while now and the boys have been lucky enough to go along to a PJ Masks themed trampoline session and attend a super cool Halloween party with them all in ‘real life’ over the past year.

Series 2 is now set to hit our screens on Wednesday 28th March on Disney Junior at 4.30 and to celebrate this we were sent a fabulous pack of goodies to celebrate with along with two episodes of the new series to have a sneak peak at home.

They wrote party invitations to each other, donned the masks of their favourite characters and settled down to enjoy the show after arguing over who was going to get the PJ Masks inflatable chair!

Their eyes didn’t leave the screen and we ended up with having a bit of a PJ Masks marathon as it would be shame to let all the party wear go to waste.

After the food had all been eaten and they had had enough of watching the shows they then got creative with the carry along art case and the stamp and sticker play set. I love the fact that they can use their love for their favourite characters in a creative way by making up and writing stories and trying to recreate their favourite character on paper.

If you have any PJ Masks fans in your house then make sure you tune in next week to catch the all new and exciting episodes that I assure they won’t be disappointed with!

Getting Teens Into Board Games With Staccups:Review

A while ago we decided to dedicate a Sunday evening to games night. With life being so hectic and a lot of down time spend online I think it is important to take a bit of time out and connect with the family and playing games together is the perfect way to do just that.

The younger ones are easy to please and are more than happy to join in but the older ones are harder to please and it takes a lot more to prize them away from their phones and gadgets.

There are a huge number of reasons why they are good for you and I have listed a few below:

Leaving The Digital World For A While – Our whole family spend way to much time on social media and the like, and taking time away from the screen allows you to pull yourself out of the digital world and contact with real time for a while which can’t be bad for anyone.

Reducess Stress – Life can be stressful for everyone, especially teens. To break away from everything for a few hours and immerse yourself into something fun and engaging can be a great stress reliever.

Increases Brain Function – Board games allow you to stimulate the brains areas that are responsible for thought and memory forming as well as improving decision making and cognitive skills.

Brings People Closer Together – I think playing a board game together is probably one of the rare times that we really engage with each other. It gives us the chance to chat, laugh and play and simply just enjoy each others company.

We had been getting a little board of the same board games we have at home so I was really please when we were asked to try out a new game from University Games called Staccups.

It is a two player games which is ideally suited to children over 8 years old. The aim of the game is to be the first player to stack all their cups. Cups must be stacked so that the colour of the top of the cup matches the colour of the cup below which means a pretty high amount of concentration is needed as well as speed.

We are a pretty competitive family so this was absolutly perfect for us.

It saw plenty of tense moments, lots and laughter and a few arguments over people putting the cups in the wrong order!

It was a great game for the teens and adults alike and I’m sure its going to be a favourite from now on.

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

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Nine

This weeks ‘celebrating the small things’ is a bit about how I’ve been trying to think positively when things are not going the way you hoped. I am always a glass half full person and I wholeheartedly believe that thinking positively isn’t about expecting the best but accepting that whatever happens is the best thing for that moment in time.

A No No To Wheat For Frankie: We seemed to be spending a lot of time at St Thomas’s with Frankie this year in a bid to see if we can tick a few allergies off his huge list!
The other month we had a success with baked egg and I had high hopes for the wheat challenge but sadly it wasn’t to be. We had got right to the end of the five hour long test before he broke out in hives and was having itching in his throat and ears. We were both devastated as he had been sitting there all morning planning all the new foods he would be able to eat and this all came crashing down in one foul swoop!

On a positive note the reaction wasn’t as bad as it could have been and there is still good chance he could pass the challenge at a later date which we have everything crossed for.

And So Came The Snow: For me the attraction of snow is very short lived. Yes it looks very pretty and I love getting out to take photos in it, it is great fun to get the sledges out and bomb down the hills with the kids but it brings everything to a complete standstill, everything get cancelled and the kids eventually get bored of the whole thing!

I did however manage to embrace it as much as possible is as its such a rarety to get a few snow days in the UK. We went out and and enjoyed playing in the white stuff and then equally enjoyed getting back in to snuggle up with a hot chocolate.

Birthday Parties: Birthday parties when you have five children tend to take up a huge amount of the weekend, it is lovely for the kids but I often find myself thinking of the hundred and one ways I could be filling my day instead of being there though.

I have to say though this birthday party that was for Oscar’s best friend was an absolute delight.

None of the other children had really formed firm friendship groups whilst at nursery and would never really mention specific friends until primary school age. Oscar however is a different child althoghter and has a best friend that he speaks of very fondly and recalls their adventures at playgroup with such passion.

Its times like this the mum guilt kicks in for moaning about them having their own special times as they are such important experiences for them.