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!

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.

Gifts For Teens From Prezzybox.com

Teens and pre-teens are notoriously the hardest group of people to buy for, and for me it’s especially hard when it comes to little stocking fillers for Christmas morning.

Mine always have a stocking until well into their teens so that nobody is left out from that exciting treat of dipping into the long sock filled with goodies.

This year I have got together with prezzybox.com and managed to find some fun, affordable and quirky gifts for Izzy and Archie that I know they are going to absolutely love.

Izzy who is twelve loves anything pink, glittery or social media related and they had gifts aplenty to fit this.

The Iris The Unicorn Travel Mug which will be perfect for keeping warm in this freezing weather, a Neon Magic Hairbrush that is a super vibrant colour that fits perfectly inside her schoolbag and the one that I think is going to be a favourite is a Selfie Light that attaches to the back of your phone to create that perfect selfie.

Archie the moody teen who has just turned fifteen is now and has always been so hard to buy for. I love the fact that he rarely asks for gifts, but this is not much help when trying to get ready for Christmas.

However it only took a few minutes to find some gifts that were just perfect for him.

What teen doesnt love sweets! well mine certainly do and the tub of Personalised Retro Sweets is going to go down a storm I’m sure. Next up was a set of six Emoji Golf Balls that come in three different colours with a cool emoji on each ball. Lastly he was a real fan of the fidget spinner when the craze hit a few moths ago so I went one better with the Baffle Puzzle that is a little like a Rubik cube in a cylindrical shape.

Prezzybox.com not only caters for teens but for all different ages, genders and occasions and can be easily ordered from the comfort of your home to avoid that manic high street shopping. It’s the perfect site to stock up on different gifts at this time of year and there really is something for everyone.

* I was gifted these products for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Pines And Needles:A Family Affair

Last year the lovely people at Pines And Needles introduced me to the world of real tress and since then I would never look back.

From the excitement of going along to select the perfect tree to the the anticipation of it being delivered to the front door the thrill of buying real is pretty special.

The other evening we went along to Pines And Needles wimbeldon branch to take part in their Treetorial event and select our very own tree.

During the event a member of staff who are always kitted out beautifully in their Santa hats and kilts(the trees come from Scotland!) showed the children and gave them a few facts about the trees, let them pick out some decorations to decorate a tree whilst we were there and the highlight for Izzy was getting a ride through the tree wrapping machine!

Filled with their new found knowledge the children picked out a stunning 7ft Norway Spruce that they have named ‘Piney’ who they egarly awaited the delivery of the next evening.

Unfortunately ‘Bruce’ arrived after the little ones bed time but it actually made for a more magical morning as they all rushed down the stairs to see it first thing in the morning. Izzy has already said she knew it was here as the smell has waffted into her bedroom and Oscar immediately dived in for a cuddle proclaiming he loved him!

For the next few hours I had pulling, poking and prodding until it was time to decorate our stunning tree.

After a few fraught moments of twisted lights and broken baubles the tree was complete and had once again become the most beautiful focal point of the front room and the whole story of the chosing, naming and decorating will be a found memory for the whole family to remember for many years to come.

If you are yet to get your tree and think that Pines and Needles is the way to go for you then you can use the code JOYOF5 and this will get you 5% off of your tree of choice.

There are plenty of venues to find across London or you can also purchase online.

I would love to see you trees in all their glory and if you fancy naming yours like us then don’t forget to use the hashtag #brucethespruce on all your social media posts.

*collaborated post

Festive Fun At The London Transport Museum

The London Transport Museum is always top of the list of the places my youngest two want to visit. The museum gives the children the chance to explore the history of the London transport system in a fun and hands-on way and is the only museum I have ever visited that I have to literally drag them out of kicking and screaming!

This weekend we had a very early start to experience their festive fun event before it opened to the public.

We walked into the museum and were hit with the sound of Christmas tunes that lead us to the beautiful Santa’s grotto tucked behind a huge London bus.

Snow covered branches were delicately drapped with pretty fairy lights and the little snow covered path lead you into the scandinavian inspired grotto full of sheepskin throws, cosy cushions and plenty of toys play with.

Inside the grotto we enjoyed a story time session with one of Santa’s super friendly elves whilst outside there was a crafting session taking place where we tried our hand at making some origami tree decorations they weren’t as easy as they looked!

After doing a little exploring of the museum and learning some interesting facts about bus tickets from the very knowledgeable staff we had worked up a bit of an appetite and made our way to have a scrumptious hot chocolate and some absolutey delicious waffles they I was extremely impressed with.

It was time to get our craft on again, this time by creating a candle light holder that Frankie really went to town with the decor on!

The highlight of the morning though was just about to happen when Santa made his way into the museum to greet the children.

He had a good chat with each and every child and asked my terrors if they thought they were on the ‘good list’. I admired the confidence in their answers but a few sideways looks were thrown my way in fear of me interrupting!

After all the christmassy excitement we spent a good while enjoying the museum and as usual had a pretty hard time getting the boys to leave, especially as we passed through the gift shop that was hugely tempting…even for me.

From beautiful train sets to london buses in many different guises to pretty snow globes and the most amazing tree decorations there is something for everyone and is a far cry from your usual museum gift shop.

The whole morning was the perfect mix of festive cheer, good food and automotive fun. I loved that it wasn’t your usual structured visit to Santa and instead he was wandering around and the children were free to go and say hi whenenver they were ready.

If you are still looking for somewhere for a Santa visit this year then this comes highly recommended from us.

*We were asked along to this event for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Christmas Hits Clapham With Winterville

It’s not often my children consider me a cool Mum but they were pretty impressed with me the other day when we had a mad dash after the school run to attend the launch night at Winterville on Clapham Common.

Winterville has been billed as London’s alternative festival and it certainly lived up to its name.

As we entered through the neon lit walkway we were greeted with the smell of roasted chestnuts, the sound of familiar christmas hits and a mixture of traditional decorated trees and super cool lighting from the many food stands.

The kids didn’t take long to spot the rides and headed straight off for an adrenaline rush.

The older two headed for the bigger rides of which there were plenty, the good old fashion Waltzer was the favourite while the younger two stuck to the smaller rides…not that they were happy about it!

After the thrills and spills of all the rides we headed over to take to the ice. I took a sigh of relief when they told me Oscar was to young to join in as ice skating is not my forte to say the least.

We sat on the sidelines enjoying a delicious hot chocolate and a gorgeously gooey chocolate brownie while the others thoroughly enjoyed skating around with the beautiful backdrop of the hustle and bustle of Winterville.

By now they had all worked up an appetite and we headed over to Street Feast where there was an amazing selection of street food from juicy burgers to crispy breaded chicken, sumptuous wood-fired pizzas to sticky ribs and so much more.

It is a great place to get out of the cold as well as filling your bellies!

We only scrapped the surface of what Winterville has to offer and I would love to go back to have a round of golf with Plonk golf, see if my skills are better on four wheels in the roller disco, and maybe take in a show.

It would also make a fantastic child free night out as sampling the delicious looking mulled wine and tipsy hot chocolates in the Spiegeltent.

I loved the urban vibe mixed with the traditional Christmas and I wholeheartedly agree that Winterville brings an alternative edge to your usual Christmas festival type attractions and is definitly worth checking out for yourself.

* We were asked along to the launch night for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.