Wednesday, 25 April 2012

A trip to London with OneBlue!

Last weekend we took a trip upto London. We are lucky that my parents live near a train station that is a 20min journey to London! So we took Millie to my parents (she is just to little to appreciate London and tbh me and hubbie thought it would be a good idea to give Chester some one on one attention) and off we went!

Chester was very excited! He loves trains so even he managed to sit still all the way because he was fascinated!

Chester won a drawing competition through LittleBird on facebook (check them out they offer some fantastic family deals), I had to send in a picture of a picture of an animal he had drawn. I helped him cut out a frog shape and he stuck tissue paper all over it! Anyway... the prize was £80 worth of vouchers to The Rainforest Cafe. Me and hubbie have been to the ones in Orlando Florida and love it! Chester and my hubbie have never been to the one in London so we were all very excited! 

The Rainforest Cafe is a restaurant made out to look like a rainforest, they even have 'animals' and 'thunderstorms' it is fantastic! When we got there we had to wait (but only 15mins and it went so quickly because we were busy looking at all the detailing!) When we were called me and hubbie looked at each other a little sad, basically they call you up over tannoy and say 'Hodges party of 3 to the elephant please'. If you are confused as to why we were sad..... we LOVE all things Disney and Orlando, Florida in our house, the last time we were able to go was for our Honeymoon 5 years ago! It was our Anniversary that day infact. We dream all the time about going back there and taking the kiddies! When they called us up it is exactly how they do it in Florida so reminded us of there (and how much we so desperately want to go back!)

Chester on one of the super cool bar stools: 

So we were taken to our seats, on the way round we were told about the 'animals' and there names! We were delighted to be sitting right by the elephants, Chester could not believe his luck!

We ordered our lunch and while we were waiting there were 2 things to entertain Chester. 1 being the activity pack he got with his meal (he got a main, desert, drink and activity pack), it was really well thought out. Having a mask, wallet, sticker, sticker set, animal snap cards, stationary set and colouring/activity book all in a bag he could take home with him! 2 being the fact we could walk round and look at the animals/fish, Chester loved looking for the hidden animals! So all in all no concerns of a bored hungry 3 year old!

Our food arrived and it was fab! I had Calypso Chicken which was yummy, craig had the Mojo Bones which he assures me were also lovely! Chester had Pizza! No surprise there haha. I do have to say that I thought the kids menu was fab there was a wide range of choices for all palates. The only down side to our dinner was the Onion rings we ordered as a side. I have had them before in here and they have been lovely, like hand made proper onion rings, what we actually got this time was some iceland specials! The kind with mashed up onion in rather than whole slices of onion.

Whilst we were eating ChaCha came round, he is The Rainforest Cafe's resident frog! He was really good and really patient with the children making sure he went round every table, spending a good amount of time with each child! To my amazement Chester waited patiently! It really topped off the experience for him and for us to see his face!

Desert was also fab......  It does look like I am stealing Chesters desert in this pic but really I am just cutting it up for him..... honest.

So after spending a good 2 hours in The Rainforest Cafe we thought we would head to The Science Museum Chester loved his adventure on the London Underground, however if you have little ones bear in mind the walk through the tunnel to the museums at the other end is quite a lot for their little legs! I had looked at the Science Museum website before we left home and had decided to only head for the basement on this visit as I knew Chester would be getting tired. So that is exactly what we did (with a little stop to look at earth and the spaceships on way through). The basement is basically a really cool indoor play area for under 5's! Its really hands on, Chester was given a sleeved painting apron to wear so he could play with the water area. Fab idea teaching little ones about science through play! 

It was unbelievably hot in the Science museum so we were only in there for about 45mins before we had to leave (before I fainted!). We wandered round to The Natural History Museum because Chester had remembered that is where the dinosaurs live! We went there for his birthday last year! We managed to do the escalator through the earth, earthquake and insects and bugs before getting to the Dinosaur area. However Chester was very tired by this point and there was a que so we decided it was best to head home! 

I felt sorry for Craig by this point because Chester's little legs were tired so Craig had to carry him when we got off of the underground right up until we got on the main train home, Chester even fell asleep while Craig was carrying him!

Overall we had a fantastic day out, I think it did Chester some good to have some time without Millie. She is over 3 months now and I think the novelty of a new baby is wearing off for him! Nappy changing and bottle feeds are just of no interest to him anymore haha.

Me and Craig said we would love to spend a day up at the museums by ourselves so hopefully we will do this at some point in the future!

If you have a chance to go to London The Rainforest Cafe is well worth a visit, its like no other restaurant in the UK and the Museums are free and there is loads to keep children entertained so it makes for a fab day out all round!

I have linked up with Multiple Mummy on this blog post for her family frolics post, so why not click on the link and read some other fab family fun goings on! 

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Sunday, 22 April 2012

Planning a tea party.

I have been thinking today, whilst staring out of the window at the rain! That I really need to start organising my tea party. I have decided that as a lot of people will be holding a big Jubilee lunch on the 3rd of June, I would hold a Jubilee tea party. Only for a few family members and mainly for the benefit of Chester (and Millie), I mean a diamond Jubilee is not something you get to be part of very often (if at all) in your life time!

I sent for a big Jubilee lunch pack and having bee reading through it. I have got as far as filling out the invites, but have only handed out 3 so far!

I really do not know where to start! My idea originally was to have a really traditional British tea party (victoria sponge, cucumber sandwiches etc), but now my thoughts have moved on to thinking maybe I should have a mix of traditional and modern? I am thinking that I will make all of the tea party food and not 'cheat', I know this will make more work for me and I will probably regret it whilst I am really busy making it all but I think that making it will make me feel I have achieved something! I really love to bake so there will probably be far more sweet than savoury items haha.

But then I thought what IS modern? In terms of a tea party I am not to sure?! I am thinking possibly making my own party rings?! But that is not very 'grown up' is it?!

Then another thing that is on my mind is entertainment! I really would like to do some fun games that Chester could get involved in as well as the adults. Hopefully the weather will be kind so we will be in the garden, am thinking we should do at least one outdoorsy thing. I will probably do a quiz but that will be for the adults, I really need to keep Chester involved as much as possible. I am thinking about having a few silly little prizes too, to make it more fun.

The pack included some posters, seeds, stickers and a bunting template. Maybe I could get everyone to decorate there own piece of bunting and give a prize to the most creative?

Lots to think about!

If anyone has any ideas for me I would be really grateful if you could let me know! either comment below or comment on my Facebook page

If you would like more info on big Jubilee lunch check out their website or Facebook page

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Peppa Pig World!

Ok so the last couple of weeks have been pretty hectic, hence lack of blog posts (sorry about that haha).

So whilst I have a spare 10 mins I thought I would tell you all about our trip to Peppa Pig World/Paultons Park.....

Typically as you can see from the picture above we chose to go on the only overcast day of that week! But it did not stop us having a fantastic time! Ever since I told Chester we were going to Peppa Pig World back in January he has been bouncing off the walls about it!! 

Seeing as we live in Kent (Peppa Pig World/Paultons Park is in hampshire near Southampton) I thought I would make a little adventure of it and stay in a hotel the night before. Yes we could of easily done all the driving on the day but I wanted it to be like a mini holiday for Chester!

Because we stayed in a hotel nearby we were lucky enough to be able to get there at 9.45am, 15 mins before opening. This gave us time to unload Millie all of her baby needs (I sometimes feel this is everything but the kitchen sink?!) and put Chester on his Monkey reins! We had already brought our tickets online because it was cheaper to do it this way, luckily as Chester is JUST under a meter he was allowed in for free. Which was a relief because otherwise he would of been charged at the same price as an adult (something I do not agree with!). We got our tickets scanned and joined the massive walking parade (ok it was not a parade it just felt like that!) round to the Peppa Pig World part of the park.

When we got into the Peppa Pig world area me and Chester headed straight off to the right onto the first ride.... Windy Castle! 

Chester LOVED this ride (in fact I may as well tell you now, he loved them all!), mummy however was not so sure! If you can imagine 2 mini Ferris wheels that you can spin round like tea cups.... that is what this ride was like! When the people on the bottom ferris which had 3 carts attached were getting off the top ferris (again with 3 carts) was still spinning! Chester was laughing so so much! What I will say is, the view of Peppa Pig World at that height was fantastic!

Next Chester wanted to go onto Daddy Pigs Car Ride! So daddy took Chester onto that whilst I looked after Millie and watched! 

The detailing was fab, there was a zebra crossing and Zoe Zebra was standing by it! All of the cars were brightly coloured and exactly like in the programme. Some were convertables too! 

The we went on what has to be my fave of the day! Georges Dinosaur Ride!

Again the detailing was great, loads to look out for on way round! Chester got to sit on the front then I got on behind him, the dinosaur bobs up and down as you go round. Chester's highlight of the ride was some ducks waddling under the track! 

We then went into Peppa Pigs house, this was a very exciting time for Chester. I mean what child doesn't want to see where there favourite tv star lives?! I wont spoil it and tell you what is in there but I will say that the detailing again was great!

We then que'd for Grandpa pigs boat ride, another fab ride. Perfect for the age range intended for. Chester was insistent that we went on a pink boat, I think that this was because he wanted to be a rebel knowing that Grandpa Pigs boat is blue! 

Then Peppa and George were outside of Madame Gazzeles School House doing meet and greets. Well I say meet and greet, it was more like a scrum! Not like the Disney meet and greets we are used to! There were behind a fencing so no one was allowed to have pictures taken etc. So that lead to parents (I wont lie, including us) lifting there kids up and pushing them forward. It was not a very nice experience, but Chester was happy to of met them.

By now the park was starting to get crowded and Millie was needing milk so we decided to go into Georges spaceship indoor playzone! This is a fantastic part of Peppa Pig World, it was warm, there were seats so I could feed Millie while Chester went to play (with Craig's supervision!), Chester got to let off some steam and eat some lunch (we took a picnic) so everyone was happy! The playzone had lots of exploring and climbing to do, of course it was all theamed around Peppa Pig which was great. There was even a small area for younger tots so I could lay Millie on the soft matting and she was happy looking at all the bright colours whilst Chester was sliding down the slides and putting plastic balls up an air duct! 

We had arranged to meet with some family that live nearby so after Chester had let off some steam and we all had some food we decided as it was getting busy to set off into the main area of Paultons Park. Later on we realised what a great idea this was!

My cousins daughter is 11 and wanted to go on some of the thrill rides so I braved it and went off with her on to those! While Craig and my cousin's younger son took Chester onto some smaller rides and some trampolines. I would say that we barely even covered a quarter of the main park, there is lots to do and see. Not just rides, they have animals, dinosaur models and water splash areas too. But as our main point of visiting was to 'do' all of Peppa Pig World after about an hour and half we headed back into Peppa Pig World.

The que's had died down a bit now so we got in the que for Miss Rabbits Helicopter ride, we only had to que for about 15mins so that was not bad at all. Chester was very excited that he got to sit at the front of the Helicopter, everyone gets strapped in and then off you go! Its like a Ferris wheel but with helicopters!

When we came off of that my cousins 2 children decided that they would like to try out the car ride and the dinosaur ride so we did those again. Both had hardly any que by now and me and Craig go to have a go on the ride the other one did in the morning! 

We then said our goodbyes to my family and went onto Grandpa pigs boat ride again! Chester then wanted to go onto Grandpa Pig's train ride and Peppa Pigs balloon ride.

We then had a bit of a wander round looking at all the detailing, listening to Peppa Pig tunes!

We then had just enough time for one more play in the playzone and a look around the shop! The shop was very well layed out, I have got mixed feeling on the pricing. There were some items that were way over priced in my opinion, but maybe thats because I am a bargain hunter? But in true Sammie style I noticed they had Dinosaur pillows/cushions reduced to £5 which Chester was more than happy with! I also managed to get him a t shirt which was only £4.99 and had miss rabbits helicopter ride on it. Chester also chose a couple of things to buy with some Easter money he had and we got Millie a princess Peppa with some of her money!

All in all we had a fantastic day, managed to get all of Peppa Pig World done. Sadly we didnt get to see all of Paultons but that we will save for another time. Prices whilst in the park, ice creams etc was what I would call normal for a theame park and on a hotter day would of been more than happy to pay that price. I would love to go back, we all would. Hopefully we can save and go back before Chester is too grown up for Peppa Pig and Millie is old enough to go on everything! She was so so good just sitting in her pram all day I am sure she appreciated all of the bright colours and sounds!

If you are thinking of visiting click on this link  to find out more info. It really is a fantastic family day out, a must for all Peppa Pig fans!

Ok so this took me a lot longer than 10 mins to write! But I dont mind it brought back fab memories!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Graco Symbio B - The Full Review!

I was delighted when I found out that I was amongst the 5 people picked to test the Graco Symbio B. When it arrived Millie was 6 weeks old and I was recovering from a C section so having a pushchair that claimed to be lightweight and easy to carry was perfect for us!
Over the few weeks that followed I certainly gave the Symbio B a run for its money! Taking it out and about, using it every day (I am someone who can not sit still!) So below you will find my review with the confidence that this pushchair has certainly been 'tested' to the max!

Putting together:
The Symbio B arrived nice and compact in a Box.
The box contained:
Frame (complete with wheels, brake, basket)
Seat unit (complete with 5 point harness, harness covers, crotch pad)
Car seat adaptor
Babynest (with plastic supports)
Arm bar
Seat pad
Apron/s for both babynest and pushchair
Instruction Manual

The colour we received was Chilli (red), which I personally think is great for boys and girls!

As Millie is so young we used the Symbio B in Babynest mode, so I built the baby nest up using the very easy to read instructions. I had to insert 2 plastic supports to either side of the baby nest, attach to the main pushchair seat unit with poppers and Velcro then zip on the babynest apron (I would call this a duvet cover!) Most of the putting together involved poppers and Velcro, which I found made it very easy to put together.
All in all 'building' the babynest took about 10 mins and was very stress free, using the clear bullet point and pictures instruction manual.

Next task was working out how to put up/down the Symbio B. I have to say I found this just as easy as other pushchairs I have had and its fair to say it took about 3 days of using it to master it in under a minute. Now I do it without thinking! What I love is that it folds down in two separate parts, so the seat unit comes off and then you fold down the frame.

Collapsing down and storing:
The whole pushchair only weighs 7.5kg which is lightweight BUT then  factor in that it folds down in two separate parts make it a C section Mummies dream! I have found that it fits very easily into the boot of my Ford Focus and my Hubbies MG ZR with room to spare. If you needed to store it in your home this would also be very easy, I put it in my understairs cupboard (well toy den!!) and it left plenty of room for other storage. I have found it very easy to lift when in fold down mode because the frame is easy to lift with a handle like part of the frame to hold. So if you needed to lift up some stairs (if you lived in a flat for instance) it would be very easy to do. 

Using the Symbio B (in babynest mode):
I personally have found the Symbio B very easy to use, it is lightweight and easy to push/manoeuvre. I love that the break is on the handle bar. All you have to do is press in a button and pull up the lever and the break is on! So much better than always catching the brake with your foot! This is very reassuring as I believe it would be very very hard to accidentally take the brake off, with a 3 year old in tow it is a real peace of mind!

At first I was a bit weary of the baby nest not having any sort of harness or restraint (obviously on the pushchair mode it does have a 5 point harness) but having used it for a while I can honestly say that I believe Millie has been fine without one! She is very snug in the babynest and does not move about when I tilt the Symbio b to go up/down a kirb etc.

 The handle on the Symbio b can be moved from front to back at the click of a button! I have made use of this useful feature a number of times now mainly for when going over different terrains. I made particular use of this feature when we were on a family day out to the seaside, I simply clicked the button moved the handle to the rear. The back wheels were now at the front, small ones locked into place at the rear, pushing over the sand still used force but was much much better than previous experiences with pushchairs on the sand! It is also handy when getting Millie in and out of the baby nest as it does not get in the way.

The back wheels on the Symbio b have pneumatic tyres, which I have to admit at first I was a bit scared of! I have never had a pushchair with pneumatic tyres and was really worried about getting a puncture. But I have to say after pushing it over all sorts of terrains my fear has lessened slightly! I have found these pneumatic tyres make the pushing easier! Millie seems very comfy at all times and I have no doubt that the big tyres are playing a part in this!

The hood on the Symbio b is a good size, it has certainly shielded Millie from the sun and the wind. The arm bar is very nice, it is covered in foam and in babynest mode I have found it very useful to hang some of Millie's toys!

The basket I am still very undecided on! I think compared to some pushchairs I have had it is a reasonable size I did managed to fit a picnic for 3 adults and a toddler in it! But on the other hand because the handle bar is only one big handle bar (rather than the two I am used to) I have no where to hang my shopping etc. Making it difficult if I wanted to go shopping, although the plus side to this is that it stops me spending money unnecessarily haha!

The raincover I have only had to use a handful of times BUT I am so so impressed with it! Never have I been so excited over a raincover haha! It is very easy to work out how to fit, I looked in the instruction manual which has a picture for each seat mode. It is attached with velcro and gives a very snug fit. There is a 'window' on the front so if you go into shops etc you can lift up that section of the raincover and tend to your little one with ease. 

Overall I can hand on heart say that this pushchair is the best I have used! I love it! Yes there are a couple of niggles, the basket and lack of shopping storage! I have also noticed a squeak now and then when pushing BUT it does advise in the instructions that you need to lubricate the wheels regularly so it certainly does not put me off, it is more of a reminder to lubricate it! 
There are loads of pros that outweigh those few cons so I am a very happy Mummy with a very happy and comfy baby! 

Would I recommend the Graco Symbio B? 100% yes! I will be shouting it from the rooftops for a long while yet! But what works for one family might not work for the next so my advice when choosing your pushchair is to go into a store selling a variety of pushchairs and give the Symbio B a good few goes around the store. Don't be afraid to ask if you can practise putting it up/down or seeing if it will fit in your car. Check out other reviews from other parents online, ask parents pushing a pushchair you like (believe me lots of parents have stopped to ask me about the Symbio B!). After all they have been using it so will be able to give you a great indication of what it will be like. 

Friday, 6 April 2012

A new twist on a family tradition!

Ever since I can remember I have made Chocolate Crunch Cake. My nan (well to be honest probably my Grandad) used to make it, my dad makes it too. In fact he probably makes it more than me (he was the one who taught me to make it!)

So today I woke up and thought it would be a good idea for Easter to introduce the chocolate crunch cake making to Chester! Only this time I thought I would give it a little twist! Normally I make it in a loaf tin so it can be cut into slices, but today I thought I would attempt to make it into 'nests' so I could fill with Mini Eggs for Easter!

So here is how it went.......

Chester was super excited when I told him we was going to make a cake! He loves helping me in the Kitchen and I love to get him involved.

So we put our aprons on and washed our hands, then the first job was to break up the chocolate ready to melt...... only Chester thought it was better to taste the chocolate first, apparently it tasted fine!


Then we had to chop up some butter, Chester liked this bit because he said he was a grown up using a big knife (I was holding it with him!) We put the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water to melt.

Then came the fun part, we put some rich tea biscuits in a bag and bashed them with a rolling pin. Chester loved this part a lot!

When the Chocolate/butter was melted we added some Condensed milk (my fave part, yummy!), then added the crushed biscuits and stirred.

We (well I, Chester had lost interest by then!) moulded the mixture into some doughnut pans I had, and in hindsight this was probably not the best plan! I should of just put on a tray with grease proof paper and moulded them!

Left them in the fridge to set, this was the worse part for Chester! Then what must of seemed like hours for Chester we got them out of the fridge, I then struggled to get them out of the pans! But did manage it after a while (after sending Chester off to watch tv as he was getting to excitable!).

Then we melted some Chocolate, spooned it over the cakes and added some Mini Eggs into the middles, it took a lot of will power for Chester not to eat all of the Mini Eggs before they went on the cakes!
Chester then pointed out that he needed to lick the bowl because that is what George Pig does!


So all in all it went well, I managed to keep Chester's attention for longer than 10 minutes! So happy that he likes making the Crunch cake with me, hopefully the tradition will carry on with him too!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Easter arts and crafts!

So today I thought me and Chester would do some arts and crafts, I love doing crafty things with him even if he does have an attention span of .... well.... a 3 year old!!

Normally I do this sort of thing at the table but as Millie was on her playmat I thought it would be nicer to do on the floor. Yes I think it was one of those thoughts that sounded good at the time, but in reality probably not such a good idea!

So it started out all nice and organised.....
but within seconds it was like this:

Typical Chester! So armed with some sticky back foam Easter shapes, coloured card, coloured foam and bookmarks we set about making some Easter Pictures! 


Chester is a big fan of glitter but I have hidden that for today! Do not want that all over my floor!

Just like me, Chester is a bit (well ok a lot) stubborn! So I just let him do the Easter crafts how he wanted to, he had about half an hour of fun before he got bored but we both had a fab time. Was lovely to sit and chat about the colours we were using and the animals on the stickers. Chester occasionally told me off for putting the stickers on wrong though so I will now know better for next time haha. 

So this is what we ended up with :

Some lovely pictures to stick to the door (we are running out of doors in this house!) and some lovely book marks to give to grandparents for easter! 

(Day 2 of Easter Holidays - done!)

Monday, 2 April 2012

Entertaining a 3 Year old who would rather be at nursery school!!!

Chester (my 3 year old) is a very social child and he would much rather be at Nursery School with his friends than at home doing boring house chores with me!

So you can imaging the horrified look on his face this morning when I had to tell him he wouldn't be going to Nursery School today because it is Easter holidays!! He does not understand the concept of time yet so I should imagine I will get this look every morning (well every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at least!)

It was only after that announcement that I suddenly thought, how am I going to keep him entertained for 2 weeks!! I mean does a trip to the dentist count as an activity?!! Luckily earlier in the year I managed to get a Travelodge £10 room deal so we will be going to Peppa Pig World but that will only use up two days!!

So far we have made cakes, but I can not do that every day (although I am sure that is what Chester would love to do haha!)

We will go to the park if the weather is nice and hopefully we will do some Easter themed arts and crafts but that will just be enough for week one!! I still need to do all the housework and entertain Millie (which in fairness Chester loves to play with Millie so he wont get bored of that). I don't mind him sitting in front of the TV while I am doing housework but I do not want him to be glued to it!

Then he has lots of 'board' games that we can play but how long will it be before he gets bored playing them?!

So come on then who has got some ideas for me?!! They need to be free or very cheap and they need to be suitable for a very active 3 year old and a baby!! Oh and of course they need to bearable enough to keep me sain haha!