Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Star Paws sticker book series - Review

Over the years I have come to realise that (almost) all children love stickers. My Children are no exception, Chester especially, he really loves any kind of sticker! I also know that most children love animals, so I was very interested in hearing more when I was told about a new series of sticker books called Star Paws.

The Star Paws sticker books series consists of 4 titles: Party Time, Pirates, Super Heroes, Princesses. Each books contains over 200 stickers and is packed full of cute animals all ready to be dressed up with the stickers!

We chose to review Party Time and Super Heroes. Chester was very excited when he saw them, they are very bright and bold and he could not believe his eyes when he saw the pages and pages of stickers inside. Millie was very excited to see them too, but for very different reasons! She loved the pictures of the animals and was happy to point and giggle at them!

Chester and I decided to start with the Super Heroes book while Millie was having a nap, I quickly realised the best thing for Chester would be to take the sticker pages out so he could see them in front of him rather than flicking through the book. This was very easy to do as the sticker pages were in the middle of the book. We had loads of fun and giggles choosing which stickers to use on each page. Each page has a title and the page title is also used to group the correct stickers. An older child (Chester is 4) would totally understand this and perhaps have more patience, however, as much as I tried to explain this to Chester he only wanted to do it his way, which was choose the stickers for the animals all by himself! The way the animals are situated on the pages and the vast amount of stickers meant that this was not a problem at all. Most of the stickers did fit on any of the animals and if they didn't Chester was very good at making them fit!!

Before we knew it nearly two hours had gone by. Yes, thats right, I managed to keep Chester's attention for nearly two hours! I could not believe it! This was last Friday, since then we have spent some time every single day adding stickers to the animals in both books. I really love these books, and its clear the kiddies do to. Chester has got a fantastic imagination so he has been making up stories for all of the animals. For instance I read him a page in the Party time book it simply said "come on pups lets get in the party mood" I then read out all of the puppies names (all written next to each pup) and as soon as Chester heard that one of them was called Thor that was it, he thought Thor was training the other pups to be Avengers! So he dressed them all up for a party to say well done for learning new tricks!! He was deep in that imaginative story for ages, telling me all about them! Then, for Millie, its been great to point out the different types of animals to her. She is at that age where she is taking everything in, over the course of the weekend we were able to teach her to point at the correct animal when we said Cat or Dog.

Whilst we were busy sticking some moustaches on some animals the other day I had a bit of a light bulb moment..... these would be perfect for long journeys be it on the Train, in the car or even on a plane. If they could keep Chester entertained for such a long time, surely they would keep other children entertained for a length of time too?! So I have already decided to purchase the Pirate and Princesses books from the series for our long haul trip to Florida later in the year!

The Star Paws sticker book series have an RRP of £3.99 and can be purchased from Panmacmillan here. They are for all ages, anyone who loves stickers and animals will love these books! Personally I think these books are a bargain at £3.99, they have already given Chester (and Millie) hours of fun and we still have lots of stickers left! It has become an everyday activity and I have found it great for keeping them entertained while I need to get some housework done or if we all need a bit of a time out!

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Henry Hugglemonster

I think it is safe to say we are well know for being Disney mad in our family. I was brought up with a love for all things Disney, and we are bringing up Chester and Millie with that same Disney love. As you know, we are going to Walt Disney World in November, it will not only Chester and Millie's first trip on a plane but it will also be their first trip to the World.

Recently we were told of a new show coming to Disney Junior called Henry Hugglemonster, we were also invited to the launch but sadly we could not make it. I have however been emailed some information about Henry Hugglemonster and would love to share it with you, as I think it is going to be a big hit with Pre School Children. Chester and Millie have seen a preview episode and they loved it, with Chester asking to watch it again.... and again..... and again!!

Henry Hugglemonster is a family series following the adventures of fun-loving, five-year-old Henry Hugglemonster, the middle child in a happy, madcap close-knit monster family – the Hugglemonsters. Each story will transport preschoolers into the world of Henry Hugglemonster as he guides the young audience through the ups and downs of being part of a loving, bustling monster family.

Spice Girl Geri Halliwell is to join Brian Blessed and Brenda Blethyn, OBE, as the star voice cast in Henry Hugglemonster.and Brenda Blethyn, OBE, as the star voice cast in its new preschool series Henry Hugglemonster. The British pop singer, designer and author is to voice Isabella Roarsome, a spirited and popular monster popstar who will be seen by viewers both sides of the Atlantic in the new animation for Disney Junior. Henry Hugglemonster is the latest series to be developed by Disney’s London production hub and produced by twice Oscar-nominated animation studio, Brown Bag Films in Dublin.

The Irish production house is also behind Disney Junior’s recent hit, Doc McStuffins. Which happens to be Chester and Millie's favorite show at the moment, I spend a vast majority of my time trying to find and purchase a big book of boo boos for Chester!!!

Geri Halliwell's character Isabella Roarsome is never seen without her gold tutu and matching bling in the show’s fictional town Roarsville.

Brenda Blethyn, OBE, has been cast in the role of Ernestine Enormomonster, who is married to Eduardo Enormomonster, voiced by Brian Blessed. Eduardo and Ernestine Enormomonster’s daughter, Estelle, is best friends with Henry Hugglemonster, and together the Enormomonsters are always happy to lend an enormous hand whenever someone in Roarsville needs some help.

The 48 x 11 minute series (and two 30-minute seasonal specials) is developed from a series of books created by Ireland’s Children’s Laureate Niamh Sharkey called I’m a Happy Hugglewug and published by Walker Books. The illustration style of the books is retained in the series’ animation.

Henry Hugglemonster is set to premiere on Disney Junior on the 8th February 2013, but if you can not wait that long here is a little teaser clip...


As I mentioned before, Chester and Millie have been watching the preview episode that has been showing on Disney Junior and they are already fans! I can see it being just as popular as Doc McStuffins in our house, I even enjoyed watching it!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Reward Chart with a difference

I would love to take the full credit for this reward chart idea, but I actually got the idea from Chester's Nursery School! They have been using it for a while now and Chester (and the other children) have really responded well to it.

This afternoon I decided to sit down with Chester (and Millie) and make a copy of the reward chart used at Nursery.......

Chester was really happy to get involved with the reward chart, I found a stencil online and printed off three copies. The idea is that you have 3 butterflies. A happy one, a sad one and a shocked one.  I drew happy, sad and shocked faces on them and we used Millie's finger paints and stampers to create colourful patterns on the butterflies. I also printed off pictures of the children and stuck them to paper which we also decorated and stuck blu tack to the back of them.

Once dried we stuck the butterflies on the wall, they will be moved to the door but we are currently decorating so I am happy to have them on the wall temporarily. I stuck them so that the happy butterfly was at the top, then the sad and then the shocked. 

The children will always start a new day on the happy butterfly, then if they are good for the rest of the day they remain on the happy butterfly. However, if they do something you have told them not to then they move down to the sad butterfly. Or if they do something which is really wrong, for instance pushing someone over deliberately then they move onto the shocked butterfly.

You can choose any kind of reward type you like but this is what we have decided to do. If they stay on the happy butterfly all day then they can stay up 10 minutes later than usual, if they end the day on the sad butterfly then they have to go to bed on time, and if they end the day on the shocked butterfly then they have to go to bed 10 minutes early. This might sound like something small but to Chester bed times are very important, he likes to feel grown up and always asks to go to bed a little later! Then if they stay on the happy butterfly all week they will get a bigger reward at the weekend. The reward for this part will change weekly and will range from a treasure trail at the park or some sweets to swimming or £1 movies at the cinema.

We have tried other types of reward charts which have not really worked with Chester, as Nursery School were so positive about this one I thought we would give it a go too. Chester has so far responded to it well and is very excited about the prospect of staying up late this evening!

So hopefully this 3 tiered system will work well for us. If you like the idea then I would love for you to put it into practice and let me know how you get on!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Snow fun!

So after a couple of weeks of predicted snow, it finally got to us very late on Saturday evening! I suspect it took so long to get to us because Chester and Millie got a Sledge from grandparents at Christmas, so ever since Christmas day Chester has been practically begging the sky to snow!

By the time the kiddies woke on Sunday morning we looked out of our window to see that we were covered  with a lovely thick blanket of snow! The down side to this was that I was/still feel very ill. Some sort of nasty bug I have picked up but on top of feeling sick and ache all over I also feel totally zapped of my usual mass of energy! It is probably my bodies way of saying slow down, just wish I had time to listen to it!

Anyway.... so it was down to Craig to take at least Chester out in the snow, which he did. Before lunch they set off to the local park and then the shop, Craig had to pull Chester along on the sled of course! After warming up and having lunch, they then wrapped up again and went into the garden to make a snowman! Chester was very excited and pleased with the snowman, Craig was probably a bit less enthusiastic because it was his hat and scarf that the snowman was wearing!! Millie went out for a short amount of time but was not really that bothered! They then had a little snowball fight and came back in.

While I was resting and getting very jealous of all the people having fun in the snow, I noticed on my facebook that quite a few people were moaning about the snow. What always makes me laugh when people moan about snow is that lots of other countries get snow and deal with it really well. No one moans, everyone just gets on with it. We only get it once or twice a year, so why not be happy and embrace it?! Yes, I agree that people need to get to work. But maybe rather than moan about the snow, moan about the unorganised gritting companies that have known of the impending snow for weeks yet when it arrives they are shocked its here and under prepared!! They are supposed to grit at least the main roads, I know lots of main roads that have not even been touched!!

I am not going to moan about the snow though, because I LOVE it! Today Chester's Nursery didn't bother to let us know if it was open or not, I eventually found out from the School next door's website that the School was open. What made me laugh about this was that following that statement was... but it is still VERY icy so please be careful! So it is a School on a hill with an icy road and pathways, yet they risk assess that it is ok for Children to go to school?! As you can imagine I did not send Chester to Nursery, we have instead decided to stay at home and have a snow day!!

So this morning hubbie set off for work and Chester and I decided after running a couple of errands we would stop off at one of the local parks. Millie hasn't got a clue what is going around her, so we decided to introduce her to sledging and snow angels!

I am so glad we did because we have had a fab day, Millie was happy most of the time, until it got a little bit to cold for her. Chester was a very proud big brother pulling Millie around on the sledge and showing her how to make snow angels! We even managed to find a small hill to go down (this is when I wished I lived near my parents as they have loads of big hills near them!), which Chester decided to go down sideways!

So happy snow day everyone!! Here are a few pics of the fun we have had........

Monday, 14 January 2013

Millie's 1st Birthday

Well, I can't deny it anymore our little baby girl is one! Well she has been one for almost a week now, but this is the first chance I have had to get on the computer and write about it!

Between Christmas and now Millie has really changed. She looks so much more grown up, she actually looks her age. I think that has helped me, because I was getting really upset that my baby was growing up to quickly. Now that she looks her age I am happy to embrace the number 1!!!

On Millie's birthday we had planned to take Millie swimming in the morning, however the night before Millie developed some kind of fear for the bath so we decided it was best to not upset our princess on her birthday! So instead, we allowed Chester to take the day off of Nursery School (Craig had the day off work) and then we spent the morning opening Millie's presents, putting them together and playing with them! Millie's main presents were a Step2 first trike and a Disney Princess Little People Palace. She was so excited when she opened them and thankfully Chester was really pleased for her too. He really enjoyed helping her and showing her how to play with her new toys.

It was raining on and off, so we didn't get to take Millie out on her trike. Instead, we decided to take the children to the soft play centre we had been to on Monday (for Millies party). Craig rarely gets to come to these kind of places with the children so we thought it would be nice. It was a great choice as both Chester and Millie had a great time showing Daddy all of the soft play! Millie even learnt how to climb some of the older area so I could take her down the slide!

When we got home I started cooking a few little buffet bits with Chester. He had decided that because the Grandparents and Aunties/Uncle were all coming down after work that he would be in charge of food and the Disco! So really the buffet was Chester's idea. I was happy to let him do this though because it made him feel like he was really helping out (which he was, in his own way)

Everyone came round, showered Millie with presents and gave her (and Chester) lots of cuddles, we sang happy birthday and she ate lots of cake. By the end of the day she was very overwhelmed and exhausted! As Craig nicely put it (on his facebook status) "So that's millies first birthday over ! Can't believe how fast time flies , she's gone to bed laughing with her phone and a belly full of cake" . By phone he meant the leapfrog count and chat phone that my parents brought, Millie has pretty much not let it leave her hand since she got it! Craig says she is a typical woman, always chatting on the phone!

When everyone had gone and the house was a little quieter, Craig and I had a chat with Chester about the day. He said well Mum I think everyone loved my buffet and music. I agreed and then we thanked him for doing those things and for being a great big brother to Millie. We gave him a little pressie for helping us. The look on his face was priceless, he was so proud!

You can only imagine the mess the front room was in by the end of the day and it has taken me nearly a week to get it back to what we are going to have to assume is the new tidy. But I am more than happy with that for now, as I know how quickly the younger years pass by.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Where has the last year gone?!

On this day last year I was in a lot of pain, but being stubborn I refused to believe that it was signs that Millie was trying to make her way into the world. It was a Sunday afternoon I was busy watching the Darts, the one thing I look forward to the most every January. Its only on for a week, I couldn't miss it! But by the end of the afternoon I was in so much pain I could not even stand up! So I finally gave in and called my parents to come over and look after Chester so that Craig could drive me half an hour to the local hospital.

When I said see you later to them I genuinely thought I would get there they would say everything is fine and send me home. Looking back at it now I can not see why I thought that! Must of been the hormones! Because it was a Sunday they were lacking of staff at the hospital, clearly they do not expect people to have babies on a Sunday, how inconsiderate of me!! So after my initial assessment and the midwifes undecided with what to do with me, I sat in the waiting room on an extremely hard chair for around 4 hours before they could get a consultant to look at me. The consultant knew straight away that something was not right, she took me into a room with about 6 other women and hooked me up to a monitor. Less than an hour later the monitor stopped, the emergency button was pushed (by the nurse) and I was being pushed down to theatre.

Within the next 30 minutes (the longest 30 minutes of my life) Millie was out of my tummy. She didn't cry at first but thankfully she was fine. I however, was not fine. What the hell had just happened?! A few hours ago I was at home watching tv and now, the middle of the night, I am on an operating table with my baby laying on me?! I had a C section with Chester, but it was planned. Everything went smoothly and to plan. For those of you who don't know me, I am a planner, I make lists and plan things meticulously. With Millie she certainly wanted her entrance to be a little bit more dramatic! It also didn't take long for me to realise that because of the massively long wait I had for the consultant Millie was born in the early hours meaning that her Birthday was an odd numbered day. I do not do odd numbers! But joking aside, why should I of had to wait that long, when clearly something was not right, Millie's heartbeat (in my tummy) was up and down as soon as I was put on that monitor so surely I should of been monitored long before the consultant saw me?! Putting my babies health at risk should not of happened, and actually I think that, more than anything is why I can not get over the shock of Millie's birth.   

But fast forward 12 months and she is a lovely, healthy smiley baby! I can not believe how quickly this last year has gone! I have tried my best to savor every moment of her first year as I am very aware from experience how quickly it passes by! Both Craig and I (and Chester) are extremely proud of our little Millie Grace. She amazes us everyday, from her first smile, to her first roll over, then her cute little slug crawl which eventually developed into a proper crawl! More recently she has made us all smile with her constant pointing and asking of  'whats that?!' In a high pitched voice!! She got lots of toys for Christmas and it amazes me how much she "plays" with them already! She can sit with us for hours and play picnics or pretend to powder puff her face with her vanity unit. I am sure she will continue to amaze me (as will Chester) for many more years to come.

Yesterday she had a little get together with some of her baby friends, most of which she has met at one of the many baby groups we go too. We went to a local soft play area, it was a fab afternoon and the perfect way for sociable Millie to celebrate her birthday!

So, Happy 1st Birthday to our Gorgeous Millie Grace, here are a few photos of her first year......

Moments old

First cuddle with Big Brother Chester

Chester teaching Millie some playmat facts!

3 Months old, already changed so much!

Christening day!
First tastes of food!

Sitting by herself!

Picnic in the park

Finally crawling!

Not a fan of meeting the one we call Father Christmas!

Cooking making with Chester!

A year on and look how much she has grown! All ready for her Party!!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Our visit to Kiddicare Lakeside

When I first heard that they were opening a Kiddicare store at Lakeside I was super excited! I had heard about the stores in Peterborough and Merry Hill and they sounded fab but both are too far away for me. Lakeside (Essex) is about half an hour away from us (we are in Kent) and the fact that it is somewhere that we go to around once every 6 weeks (to do our shopping at Costco) it is an ideal location!

Kiddicare Lakeside opened mid December and a week later it was time for me and some other very lovely bloggers to come check it out! Was lovely to meet the other bloggers, Clare (Emmys Mummy), Leta (Attachment Mummy), Kate (The secret life of Kate) and Lucy (Dear Beautiful Boy) sorry for anyone else I have missed off (baby brain!!)

When we arrived I was amazed at the sheer size of it! Its really not surprising that it houses 3,800 products! I brought my Aunt with me to help with Chester and Millie as I wanted to concentrate on the store and do some serious shopping afterwards! We were ushered over to the Kiddicafe, which serves Starbucks coffee, a big plus in my opinion as I love Starbucks coffee!

We all had a drink whilst waiting for everyone to arrive. Chester was very happy that he could play in the play area, it was a great play area, just the right size for kiddies and not so big that it overtook the cafe. It had half adult height walls and a door to keep them secure! The cafe also has a Nursing nest, and whilst Kiddicare are more than happy for you to nurse your baby where you want, they also recognise that some mums prefer to nurse away from the hustle and bustle. There is also free Wifi in the Kiddicare store and I can confirm it works and it works very quickly! Whilst we were waiting Chester needed the toilet, now this may sound soooo sad but the toilets were awesome!! I have actually never seen anything like them!