Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The pumpkins are ready!

For weeks now Chester has been asking if it's time to get/carve the pumpkins yet, so you can imagine his delight when he asked that question this morning and I said yes! 

Craig has Wednesdays off and he loves to be creative, so whilst I spent the day doing to shopping for our Walt Disney World holiday (so excited it's coming round fast now!) Craig and the kiddies carved pumpkins. 

Sadly Craig is not as snap happy with the camera as me so we only got the end pictures...

                                         

                                         

      

Whilst I do love a traditional style of pumpkin carving, I have to admit these are pretty cool! Chester and Millie are thrilled with them, which is the main thing!

So let's see how good Craig's carving is... Who do you think the pumpkin carvings are supposed to be?! Leave your answers in the comments below! 



Monday, 28 October 2013

Easy Halloween crafts

So today Chester woke up and told me that he really wanted to make pumpkin and bat decorations to put in our window for Halloween. He said that they would remind people that Halloween was coming.

I asked him how he wanted to make them (I wanted this to very much be a child led activity) and he told me his idea was to use some cardboard to make the pumpkin and bat shapes and then he would paint them orange and black. But he would probably use a little bit of green because that's his favourite colour don't you know! 

So I found a cardboard box I had laying about and began cutting the shapes. My drawing of a bat is laughable but Chester was happy! 

Chester and Millie sat at the table, where I had set up some paints, and they got on with their painting! 

                      


                      

Millie was clearly more interested in painting her hands and finger painting! Chester had lots of great ideas and he ended up making a 3 eyed monster pumpkin! 

We also had a go at making spiders, using just hand prints! I think both children did a great job for a first attempt! 

Chester's.... 




Millie's......



We had lots of fun and best of all the activity was totally led by the children! Now we have some lovely homemade Halloween window decorations! 


                           

Do you like to do child lead messy play in your house?  






Sunday, 27 October 2013

The Anagranimals and the Wishing Tree review and giveaway!

I have twitter to thank for our latest book find! I love reading books to the children and this one was no exception.


Anagranimals (ANA-GRA-NIMALS) is a brand new company, which has just launched. The Anagranimals and the Wishing Tree as their first book aimed primarily at children aged 5-9. They have two more books in the pipeline AND a range of interchangeable cuddly toys that will be hitting the shops very soon!

The book Anagranimals and the Wishing Tree is about a group of every day animals that want to be anything BUT ordinary! So when a magical wishing tree grants them a special wish, they each wish for the best parts of their favourite animals!

When our copy arrived in the post Chester was at School and Millie was taking a nap. So I had a quick flick through the book in peace. Before I knew it I had read half of the book! It is a very captivating story with fantastic illustrations!



Since then Craig and I have read the book to the children several times. It is quite a lengthy book, but it is very easy to read. Chester is 5 and he has really understood the story and gets excited every time we read it. Millie at 21 months is of course under the suggested age range. However, I think its worth me mentioning that when we read it she is so captivated by the illustrations that she sits very still and listens! A massive achievement for Millie!



If you like the sound of this book then I have something very exciting to tell you.....

I have got 1 x Signed, First Edition copy of the Anagranimals & the Wishing Tree to giveaway! All you need to do to enter is answer the questions on the rafflecopter form below! The giveaway will run from 28th October - 11th November 2013. Terms and conditions can be found on the rafflecopter form.

Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wrapping up warm with Vertbaudet

Autumn is by far my favourite season (I think I may of mentioned that a few times before) we love nothing more than wrapping up warm and heading to the local park, kicking some leaves and finding conkers!

I am lucky that both of my children really love the great outdoors! 

A little while back (well ok quite a long while back) Vertbaudet kindly sent Chester this really nice boys zip up cardigan. As a family who loves Autumn we have been able to get outdoors and Chester has had lots of chances to wear this cardigan! We have had so much outdoor fun, that I have often forgotten to take any pictures!

But I did manage to get this picture when we got back from a leaf hunt the other day!


I have to admit, when I first saw it I was a little unsure of the colour! But after putting it on Chester I could see that it suited him and the season very well. The zip up cardigan is fleece lined, has zip and button fastening, plus reinforced elbows. Perfect for a child like Chester! The feel and quality of the cardigan is amazing. Its current price is £27.00. Spending that much on a cardigan did sound a bit alarming to me at first, but we have had lots of use out of it so far and it has washed up very well. Kept its shape and looks as good as new. So in this instance I would certainly say you get what you pay for! I am just about to order the grey to put away for next year! 

Talking about size.. Chester is only just 5, his cardigan is aged 5 and it is a perfect fit, the length if the arms is just right, not too long and the length of the body the same. I would say he is average size so if you were wanting this to last the whole 5th year I think you might want to order one size up. 

Who else loves Autumn as much as we do?! We find it is the perfect time of year to spend lots of time exploring! 



Friday, 25 October 2013

Disney Planes soundtrack



Yes yes yes, I know you have heard it a thousand times before. But we are Disney MAD in this house! With less than 2 weeks now until our Walt Disney World holiday you can just imagine the excitement in our house!

We went to see Disney Planes at the cinema, both Chester and Millie loved it. Hubbie and I liked it, but thought it was too similar to the Cars storyline. When we fly to Disney World next month Planes is one of the films showing. I recently told Chester this and he was practically bouncing off of the walls! 

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the film, here is a little information.... 

From above the world of "Cars" comes Disney's Planes, an action-packed 3D animated comedy adventure featuring Dusty (voice of Dane Cook), a plane with dreams of competing as a high-flying air racer. Dusty is a crop-dusting plane who dreams of competing in a famous aerial race. The problem?He is hopelessly afraid of heights. With the support of his mentor Skipper and a host of new friends, Dusty sets off to make his dreams come true.

When we came out of the cinema Craig and I discussed the voices of the Planes. Adults are sure to recognise some of them, including Val Kilmer, the voice of Echo, Teri Hatcher, the voice of Dottie and John Cleese, the voice of Bulldog. I remember also discussing the music in the film. As with Disney Cars it is very upbeat and totally fitting with the film.

The soundtrack to this fun adventure features the original score composed by Mark Mancina, plus 4 original songs and one bonus track. It has 29 tracks in total....

1.      Nothing Can Stop Me Now Performed by Mark Holman
2.      You Don't Stop (NYC) Performed by Chris Classic and Alana D
3.      Fly Performed by Jon Stevens of The Dead Daisies
4.      Planes Score
5.      Crop Duster Score
6.      Last Contestant Score
7.      Hello Lincoln/Sixth Place Score
8.      Show Me What You Got Score
9.      Dusty Steps Into History Score
10.    Start Your Engines Score
11.    Leg 2/Bulldog Thanks Dusty Score
12.    Skipper Tries to Fly Score
13.    Dusty & Ishani Score
14.    The Tunnel Score
15.    Running on Fumes Score
16.    Get Above the Storm Score
17.    Dusty Has to Ditch Score
18.    Skipper’s Story Score
19.    You’re a Racer Score
20.    Leg 7 Score
21.    Skipper to the Rescue Score
22.    Dusty Soars Score
23.    1st Place Score
24.    A True Victory Score
25.    Honorary Jolly Wrench Score
26.    Skipper’s Theme (Volo Pro Veritas) Score
27.    Love Machine Performed by Carlos Alazraqui and Antonio Sol
28.    Ein Crop Duster Can Race Performed by Carlos Alazraqui and Antonio Sol (Bonus Song)
29.    Armadillo


Having seen the film we can relate to the Scores, however we all seem to like the songs the best. Chesters favourite is Love Machine (track 27), he laughs everytime he listens to is as he remembers the scene it came from... with mexican plane El Chupacabra trying to woo French-Canadian plane Rochelle! Nothing can stop me now is my favourite and I think that is because I like music which is a bit more rock and roll! 

The Planes soundtrack is available to download from Itunes at a price of £8.99, what a bargain for almost 30 tracks!



Millie's new found independence

It's now been 4 weeks since Chester started full time School. Millie still misses him dearly. Every morning she is still exclaiming 'boo gone, he gone, to School' as we walk away from the School gates. 

She really loves to copy Chester and I think having Chester to play with has made her develop faster in some areas than Chester did at that age. Her speech is great and she is a very loving little girl.

                                          

But in these last 4 weeks, Millie has got very used to having lots of one on one time with either me or Craig or both of us. Whilst am more than happy to let her have this time alone with me whilst Chester is at School, this week it seems to of presented some problems! 

Since she now no longer has to rely on Chester to help her so much, she has become more independant. That is not a bad thing most of the time. I am happy that she wants to try and do things for herself and she is happy to be left to play with things by herself. But, what seems to of happened is that Millie has forgotten how to share! 

We had a full on melt down, throwing to the floor tantrum, at a toddler group on Monday. All because she did not want another little girl to play the shape sorter with her! Millie has always been really good at sharing, but appears she has got a bit too used to having the toys at home all to herself! She was screaming No, No NO at the little girl. 

I know I am going to have to work hard to kerb this. Does anyone has any tips for me? I vaguely remember Chester going through this stage but can not remember what I did?! 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Some far away treats....



Today we received some exciting post. It was from my Sister. You may remember me mentioning a little while back that she was going traveling around the world for a year. She has actually started a blog about her adventures. She is having such a great time and I am enjoying reading along! 

Chester and Millie were both very excited. They both really miss their Auntie and Uncle so any mention of them gets them all excited!

Most of what was inside were clothes that had been made for us in Vietnam.....







The children's clothes were adorable, most are cool enough for our Florida holiday, which by the way is now VERY close! 

There was also a treat for me in the box too! I knew about this one because I asked her to get it for me and I had to send my measurements over.....


A lovely (well needed) made to order coat! As it was made especially for me, it was a perfect fit and I am so happy with it! My sister and my Mum both have one as well, but different colours! So we will be coordinating when we all meet up in winter months! 

As Millie had a few extra clothes, my Sister put some extra little gifts in for Chester. One of which we can not work out, even with the video instructions that were emailed over to us! Chester was so pleased though! 

Then the last gift in the box was an awesome 'magical' dragonfly each. They are totally awesome, and Chester and Millie have spent all afternoon showing them to me! 





So a big thank you to my Sister for sending us this little parcel, it has made us all smile today! 








Friday, 18 October 2013

I have made another story sack!

You may remember earlier in the year that I made a lovely Dear Zoo story sack. I am really proud of it and both the children absolutely love it. Chester and Millie are both really into books, just like me. I have  always read to them, Chester is now learning words and recognising them in books which is great. Millie, at 21 months, is still really a look and point at the pictures kind of girl and that great too. They are both happy to 'read' to themselves or snuggle up with me!

So I thought it was about time I made another story sack! 

This time I kept it simple.....


I really love the story Peace at Last,  I remember it well from my childhood. Because of the different things and sounds that are keeping Daddy bear awake, there is lots of room to expand this story sack. 

But for now this is what I did...

I got a plain white pillow case and used felt to decorate the front of it. I printed out a couple of nursery rhymes, round and round the garden and twinkle twinkle little star. Then laminated them. I wanted to create a game, so I cut out some teddy head shapes on green and red felt and then drew a simple naughts and crosses/tic, tack toe type of grid. I laminated that. It occurred to me that Millie might not grasp that game yet so I then created 2 pretend plates and laminated them (yes. I love to laminate). I had some scraps of felt that I used to create food shapes, so we have got some slices of bread, some fillings including honey, jam or ham. Plus some fruit and veg, oh and also some biscuits! So together that created a teddy bears picnic! 

The last thing I did was add 3 teddy bears. I have not given this story sack to the children yet. To be honest I am debating keeping it for Christmas, what do you think, shall I leave it for Christmas or cave in and give it to them now?! 

Who's in charge of the TV remote in your house?!

That's a question certain to cause a big debate isn't it?!

In our house I think everyone would agree that it's me that is in charge of the TV remote! Of course, I let the children watch some programmes in the morning and after School but apart from that it's mainly me that chooses what we watch on TV. On the three evenings I am at work Craig gets his tv time! It actually works out quite well and there are rarely any arguements because Craig and I both like the same kind of programmes. The only arguements tend to come from Chester when he wants to watch his programmes and Millie is watching hers! Luckily Millie is quite chilled out and will happily sit and watch Ben 10 with her big brother! 

When I was growing up my Dad was in charge of the TV remote, to be honest he still is. When we go to visit, not even Chester or Millie get to rule the remote! I don't mind that either though as me and my Dad have similar TV likes. I am not your typical girly girl, I love football and darts. I also used to love watching Star Trek and X Files with my Dad. We rarely had arguements because my Mum was so busy pottering about she didn't care what was on TV! 

BrightHouse have uncovered some amusing and enlightening statistics about remote control use (and abuse!) in our homes and have produced the TV Remote Habits infographic. Battles for the remote, zapper or doofa have long been fought in the family living room, so why not take a look and see how other families do battle.

It's interesting isn't it?! What do you call your remote? Maybe we are boring because we simply call it the remote! 

I would love to hear who is in charge of the TV remote in your house?! Do you think new technology and the fact most of us have the ability to record and pause TV programmes, has changed the arguement of the remote?! 



*this post is in collaboration with BrightHouse 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Isle of Skylands!

The Isle of Skye in Scotland has long been a place of natural beauty – but it’s never been this exciting! To celebrate the month of SWAPtober and the launch of Skylanders SWAP Force, the magical virtual world of Skylands has officially been twinned with the island!



To officially mark the virtual twinning, a couple of very exciting things have happened!

 An inaugural visit to the Isle of Skye by Wash Buckler, one of the new Skylanders SWAP Force characters. Wash Buckler toured some of the island’s most famous landmarks....




A magical takeover of the Isle of Skye website www.skye.co.uk. Just pay them a visit, and type SWAP anywhere on the homepage to see what happens. I wont spoil it for you, you need to go see for yourself. But let me tell you that Chester was literally bouncing off the walls with excitement at 7.30am this morning!

As you may (or may not) already know Skylanders SWAP Force is being developed by Vicarious Visions and is set to release on Friday October 18.  Developed for the PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and the Wii U and Wii  systems from Nintendo and Nintendo 3DS.

Skylanders SWAP Force is delivering a whole new world of innovation and introduces the groundbreaking new feature —swapability. The pioneers of the toys-to-life genre are presenting kids and gamers with unprecedented levels of choice in how they explore Skylands and battle Kaos by swapping the top and bottom halves of the inter-action figures to transform 16 SWAP ForceTM characters into more than 250 unique combinations.

Set in a richly detailed next generation world, Skylanders SWAP Force takes kids on an all-new adventure with 32 brand new heroic characters that each offer unique powers and personalities.  The game also features new abilities – such as flying, climbing, and teleporting – which can be used in special areas of Skylands.  Additionally, fans can play with their entire collection of more than 100, forward-compatible toys from both Skylanders Spyro’s AdventureTM and Skylanders Giants™.

Chester is so excited I fear he may burst! He has been waiting for Friday 18th October to come around for MONTHS! He can not wait to see what swapabilities work best!

Keep an eye on my blog and my social media channels as I will be keeping you updated on all things SWAP Force as soon as information comes my way!

Winnie the Pooh TOMY stack, pour, post and play toy review

We are REALLY big Disney fans in this house, and if you didn't know that by now, where have you been?! We are now on a countdown which is at less than 1 month until our big Walt Disney World trip, so as you can imagine every other sentence is Disney related in this house at the moment!

So you can imagine how delighted Millie and I were when this turned up a couple of weeks ago...


Millie instantly exclaimed Pooh bear! 

At first glance it looks like your average stacking cup set. However, we discovered it is A LOT more than that! Its name is Winnie the Pooh Stack, pour, post and play.

Yes, stacking cups is part of the fun and Millie has had a great deal of fun doing this. The cups are bright, vibrant colours. With pictures of pooh, tigger and eeyore on them!


The next exciting part of the toy is the honey pot shape sorter. Millie loves to problem solve, so these were an instant hit with her. Although with only three shapes I was opening the honeypot lid A LOT! 


But Millie's most favourite thing about this toy....


Yes, that's right. They can be used in the bath. The stacking cups each have different holes in them. Millie loves the pouring and scooping of water with this stack and pour. It has caused much longer bathtimes! 

My favourite thing about It is the fact it all fits neatly inside the honeypot to store away! 


The Stack and pour is recommended for children aged 6-24 months, Millie at 21 months is at the top end of this age range, however, having witnessed how much she loves to play with this, I can see her playing with it for a lot longer. 







Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Fall fashions for kids


With the academic year back in full swing, it’s time to give some thought as to what your kids will be wearing as the temperatures begin to drop. Make sure they’re dressed to impress this season with the latest looks for fall/winter 2013-2014. Here’s what’s trending in kid’s fashion this season:

 

Out of This World Print


This season, boys’ fashion has some extraordinary inspiration. Thanks to designers like John Galliano andKickle, comic book prints are a hot trend this fall, so make sure to buy your own little superhero a graphic print tee that pays homage to his favourite crime fighter. Another trend in boys’ graphic tees made popular by Paul Smith Junior and Kickle this season is astronomy, especially planets, astronauts, clouds, and stars. Paired with a stylish bomber jacket and denim jeans, your son’s style will skyrocket to new levels.


These are just the kind of t shirts that Chester likes to wear...



 

Delightful Details

Thanks to the eclectic influences of designers like Stella McCartney and Paul Smith Junior, your daughter will have fun wearing new textures and patterns all season long. From jeweled-jersey dresses to tutu skirts and button-printed leggings, the most stylish little girls this season will be the ones who dare to think outside the box. Pale pink is the hottest hue for little girls this season, and looks especially great when paired with winter whites or used to add a soft contrast to dark cardigans and blazers.


I could just see Millie in this! 



 

Urban Cool

Kid trendsetters like Jayden and Willow Smith are surely the inspiration for designer collections ranging from Junior Gaultier and Marni to Tommy Hilfiger and Diesel this season. We’re seeing the return of ‘90s plaid and tartan checks this fall, though little fashionistas will surely be too young to remember the original inspirationfor this trend. The look has been updated for the new generation by juxtaposing bright hues against neutral ones: burnt oranges set against navy blues, bright red trousers paired with powder blue sweatshirts, etc. Puffajacket and faux fur jackets are trending for kids as well.Take the look prep with a pair of Doc Martens or Kiltie fringe shoes, or keep it cool with a pair of boots or high top trainers.

 

Why Buy Designer?

While you may be tempted to buy from discounted retailers since kids tend to grow out of clothes so quickly, it’s wise to invest in at least a few designer pieces for their wardrobe. Children’s designer clothing is moredurable than mid-range or budget clothing, meaning that you’re less likely to have to repare or replace it. The fabric used in designer clothing is better quality as well, which ultimately makes the clothes more comfortable for your kids to wear. Send them out in style and comfort this fall with the latest trends in kids’ fashion. You won’t regret it.



Article collaboration. 

Monday, 14 October 2013

Easy Halloween cupcakes

Over a week ago our oven element blew up AGAIN! So we have been using the slow cooker lots, and whilst I do love the slow cooker, especially at this time of year. I really missed making cakes and other goodies with the children. 

Thankfully hubbie fixed the oven yesterday. So this morning after Millie and I dropped Chester off at School we came home and made some cakes! I wanted to make cakes that were easy for Millie to help with, so we just made a basic sponge and then iced the cakes using the silver spoon orange buttons. 

Ingredients...

For the sponge
100g caster sugar
100g butter
100g self raising flour
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

For the icing
1 bag of silver spoon orange flavoured chocolate buttons
3 heaped tablespoons of icing sugar 

Halloween rings and cocktail sticks to decorate.

Method....

We placed 12 Halloween themed cupcake cases into a small bun tray

                                              


We then mixed all of the sponge ingredients together

                                               

Next we added a heaped teaspoon of the cake batter to our cupcake cases

                                                

We put them in the oven (which had been preheated to 180) for 18 minutes. When they came out of the oven we left them to cool. I cut the tops of the cakes off to make them flat and easier to decorate.

I then melted the chocolate orange buttons in the microwave and added the icing sugar. This gives it a buttercream texture. 

Millie was ready to help with the decorating

                                      

                                      

Before finishing the decorating Millie needed a taste test!

                                                

We had a really great time making cakes today, I made sure it was easy enough for Millie to join in as much as she wanted to. She is very independent so really wanted to get stuck in. I brought the cupcake cases and accessories from our local 99p store so that kept the costs down!

Here are the finished cakes

                                       

Do you enjoy baking with your children like me? 






Sunday, 13 October 2013

So relieved

You may remember earlier in the year, I was getting myself in a right state over Chester's School choices. I was unsure if we had made the right choice, he would know no one there but my mothers instinct was telling me it would be good for him.

Well he has now been there a month, 2 weeks full time. Since he started full time We have seen a big change in him. He is getting on well, picking up what he is being taught. Today I sat with him to do his 'homework' which was to see if he could attempt to write the letters they had learnt this week. They were s, a, t and p. He amazed me when he copied the s and the a perfectly, them after practising the letter t with his finger he also gave that a good go. P was a bit difficult for him and he drew it back to front and sideways. I can't decide if that was because he was tired or because he is left handed like me. I vaguely remember my sister doing similar when she was little and she is a leftie too. 

But more importantly he is getting on well with his class mates, he is mixing well and seems very happy. I think at this age being able to form friendships is quite important. He is loving his time at School and always seems to go in with enthusiasm and happily tells me about his day when he comes home. 

I have been observing how the teachers are around the children, I think it's natural as a mother to worry about your child! But having seen how they react to the children and how they have tackled a couple of little issues with Chester, I can honestly say I am very happy that we decided to go with that School. He attended a welcome party today and that was great, teachers gave up their own time to be there and older class's parents put a lot of effort into organising it. At the end of this week he will be staying for a special movie night put on especially for the children's enjoyment. Everything about his experience so far just seems really good. It's a refreshing change from his Nursery days! Everyone is happy, they communicate really well and seem genuinely interested in making sure your child is happy and doing as they should.

It is such a relief for me that he has settled in well. My little boy is growing up so fast! 

Saturday, 12 October 2013

The Barny Little Adventures Challenge

This post is an entry for BritMums 'Little Adventures Challenge' in partnership with Barny, the bear shaped snack providing a little discovery in every bite. Find out more about Barny here.

We were sent some samples of Barny snacks along with a super cool bug finding kit and book.....

       

I am going to confess now, that hubbie and I tasted the Barny bears before showing the children. This of course meant that I had to go to the shops and replace them, it's safe to say we thought they were yummy and it does not take very long to eat a whole box! Oops! 

We are very lucky that Chester and Millie love to be outdoors, they are both very much little adventurers! So we had lots of opportunity to get searching for bugs. 

We started out by reading the book all about bugs, Chester loved teaching Millie the names of them and even learnt a few new facts himself! 

       

As our garden is a bit of a jungle, we decided to have our first adventure there. So armed with the magnifying glass and bug box out we went....

                                        
                                  


We searched and searched....

                                    

                                          


and then got hungry! So we took a Barny snack break! Chester ate his so quickly that I didn't even get a chance to take a picture, and Millie, well this picture says it all really......

                                                 

Barny are new bear shaped sponge snacks. They are individually wrapped with a hidden centre providing a little discovery in every bite. They contain no artificial colours or preservatives and they come in two yummy flavours, Chocolate or Milk. Both Chester and Millie (and Craig and I) preferred the chocolate flavour. 

By now Millie was getting tired so we called it a day. However Chester did not stop talking about bug hunting for days afterwards, so a few days later whilst Millie was napping Chester went back out to explore the garden. After about 10 minutes he shouted for me to come over and look, he had found a cheesy bug (yes, I know that can not be their real name but even the bug book did not provide me with the answer!) he was soooo excited, we quickly managed to put it into the bug pot so that he could look at it through the magnifier some more...

                                     

The bug hunt was a huge success, as were the Barny bears! Chester has now positioned his bug box in our garden with some grass inside to intice the bugs, and he checks it daily. Even when it was awful rain yesterday he was desperate to get out there! Millie is happy to follow her brother around with the magnifying glass!