Monday, 28 December 2015

Enjoying the quiet moments

As I sit here and type this, I am surrounded by complete and utter silence. We have spent Christmas at my parents in Dorset, it's been great but as expected with two young children it's also been very full on!

So today, I have taken the very rare opportunity to sit in silence and reflect on the last few days, whilst Craig and my Dad take the children down to the Quay. No doubt they will be in the arcades as its Chester and Millie's favourite place to go! 

Silence is very rare for me, if I am not working I am looking after the children. But today has made me realise that I really do need to try and make some time for myself. Just an hour a week would be great. 

As a family, our lives are unbelievably hectic and one great big juggling act. So I think it would be lovely to stop and appreciate the little things from time to time! 

Christmas this year has been fantastic,both children really appreciated everything they were given. We have all spent the last 3 days playing air hockey, dolls prams, and loads and loads of board games! 





Not to mention a trip to the Panto...


Decorating a gingerbread house...


And a trip to the beach ...


Craig and I have both managed to have Christmas off of work this year so it has been really lovely to spend the time not rushing (although still busy) and simply appreciating the children and the games they have asked us to play. 

I hope you have all had a great Christmas too?!  

Chester's trip to Selhurst Park for the Junior Eagles Christmas Party.

Chester is still football mad, and more importantly Crystal Palace mad! I love it, I love his excitement and passion for the game.

So this Christmas I thought I would treat him to a ticket to the Junior Eagles Christmas Party. It's exclusively for Junior Members and costs only £10! 


Chester was so excited, on the drive up there he was wondering what players he would meet, and what he would say to them if he did meet them. He was so excited at the prospect of meeting Pete the Eagle too! 

We arrived, he was given a wrist band and we were seated for dinner, which Chester really enjoyed. 


Then he spotted Pete and Alice Eagle and there was no stopping him. He made a beeline to them and gave them so many hugs! 


Soon his colour group were called up to meet the players. We walked into the room not knowing who was going to be there, and it was great. Chester was totally star struck and could barely speak! He couldn't quite believe that some of the players he looks up to and respects, were right in front of him!


He was especially pleased to meet Wayne Hennessy a fellow goal keeper. As you all know Chester is a goal keeper for his local team and he also does goal keeper training at SEFA. Meeting someone who loves goal keeping as much as he does just blew his mind and he couldn't get all those things out that he wanted to say! 


After the excitement of meeting the players he joined in with some Party games, which were hosted by some of the Crystals (Crystal Palace's cheerleaders). He had a really great time at the party and was thrilled to receive a Christmas gift of a scarf, which has been on his wish list for a while. 

 

I am so pleased that I made the decision to take him, it was a great experience for him and a lovely treat too. 

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Portable North Pole excels again!

I'm not going to lie, I have really struggled with Christmas this year! Working full time and trying to do the Christmas shopping whilst also doing Christmassy things with the children has been tough. If fact I have certainly not enjoyed the festive season as much as I normally do, and it has certainly made me appreciate how precious time is!

One thing that I am pleased I have managed to find the time to do is Portable North Pole. We have done it for a few years now, so the kids kind of expect their message from Santa! 


For those of you who don't know... PNP - Portable North Pole is one of the most personal Santa experiences in the world. You can easily create customized video or phone messages from Santa Claus for your loved ones, adding information about the recipient and uploading photos for a completely personalized greeting. The high-quality messages make the North Pole village come alive, and you can experience the magic for FREE!





You can access the PNP experience online at or via our mobile app (compatible with Apple and Android devices). Premium videos, available for a small fee, are longer and include more personalisation options and storylines. Bundle packages are great for families and an affordable option for those who wish to make more than one video (often selected by parents wishing to make videos for multiple children). The passes also unlock exclusive Christmas Eve video content and allows the video to be downloaded in HD to keep as a souvenir for years to come!
We have got a gold pass and it is certainly worth its money. It includes Unlimited access to all 7 premium video storylines, calls from Santa, an exclusive Christmas Eve video, and HD download.
Chester and Millie can, like most children, be little pickles at times. So I created them both unique personalised videos from the man in red himself at the beginning of December, in the video Father Christmas explained that Chester and Millie were not quite on the good list yet. He explained that they needed to work hard at being good to get onto the good list. 

It's very easy to create the videos, you simply answer some questions and add some photos of the child and then the magic of PNP comes to life in the form of a video! 

Let me tell you it has worked a treat. Any time they are playing up I remind them of what Father Christmas said in their videos and they soon sort out their behaviour! I suspect that what Father Christmas will do in a couple of days time is send them both another video explaining that they have made it onto the good list! 
Something new this year is the Christmas Eve video. I am really excited about this, can't wait to see what it's all about! 
Portable North Pole have given me a discount code to share with you, my lovely readers, so that you can enjoy the magic too! Giving you 20% off any paid products, if you enter the code BLG20PNP when you are at check-out! 
So, what do you think? Are you going to use PNP this year?! 


Sunday, 6 December 2015

Millie's Ice Skating adventures!

Our weekends are pretty much taken up with football. Chester normally goes to football training on Saturday and then he either has a match or training on Sunday's. Which is great because it's something he is very passionate about. However, poor Millie has to come along too, so her weekends are also full of football!

I am very concious that she needs to enjoy her weekend too, so with that in mind a couple of weeks ago I took her Ice Skating.

She was so excited, I think she had visions of it being a bit like Frozen! 

She loved the little ice skates... 


She had lots of fun using the penguin, it was really busy on the ice but it didn't seem to phase her at all. 


After a little while she asked to use the walrus instead, which she sat on and had me push her round as fast as I could! 


Whilst we were there I noticed that they ran sessions on Wednesdays for toddlers, it's was only £5 and included skate and penguin hire, plus juice and biscuits! As Craig was off on Wednesday he took her along, but in typical Craig style he forgot to take any photos, which I was very disappointed about! 

But he did reassure me that Millie had a great time! Apparently they has lots of little ride on cars and snow piles which Millie loved. I couldn't help but laugh when Craig told me what happened when Millie skated/scooted all the way across the ice rink and the ice Marshall had to go and fetch her, because Craig was not very good at skating! 

We are lucky to have the Ice Rink less than half an hour away, and after seeing how much Millie loved it we will definitely have to visit more often, we may even pursade Chester to have a go! 

Have you taken your little ones ice skating? 


Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Snowman and the Snowdog Festive Bake Off!


We love The Snowman and the Snowdog, and we also love baking. So we needed no persuading when we were asked if we would like to take part in a Snowman themed festive bake off! We were send a lovely bundle to help us get started! Including the lovely The Snowman and The Snowdog cookie cutter set, which is available to buy at John Lewis or www.partydelights.com for £4.75.


If you search the hashtag #SnowmanSnowdog you will come across lots of photos and posts by lots of other lovely bloggers, with some great festive cookie inspiration! 

We love baking cookies, the children like to keep it simple with regards to the taste and textures on cookies. So I decided to go with a basic cookie recipe, but add food colour gel to a small amount of the dough to create the key colourful parts. 

Here is how we got on...

Chester and Millie loved bringing the cookie dough mixture together, saying 'it feels very squidgy between our fingers Mummy!'


They were both very good at sharing the cookie cutters, to my surprise there were no arguments at all! 


We carefully pressed the snowmen and snowdog's on to a baking tray and began cutting out our colourful green hats and scarves for the snowmen and our green ear and body patch for the dogs! 




We then put the cookies in the oven to bake. To pass the time whilst they were baking, we had lots of fun making The Snowman 3D Puzzle, which has a RRP of £4.99 and available at John Lewis and Toys R Us.


                                 

Finally after 16 long minutes (long according to the children!) the cookies were ready to come out of the oven! I think they turned out really well, especially Millie's multi coloured mash up! You will see that the cookies have a shimmer to them and this is because Chester quite rightly pointed out that snow glistens and he wanted to use edible glitter to show this. Needless to say theytasted amazing and lasted less than an afternoon! 



We were also sent a delightful deluxe copy of 'The Snowman: The Original Classic Story. True to the story, there were no words,simply gorgeous pictures to enjoy! Published by Puffin Books and with an RRP of £12.99 it makes for a perfect Christmas present!

                                  


 
We were delighted to hear that The Snowman and The Snowdog will be shown on Channel 4 again this Christmas, and it's certainly top of our Christmas viewing list! 





Monday, 30 November 2015

The Christmas excitement has begun!

Ok, I have refrained from mentioning the C word for long enough! The children and I are so excited about Christmas, this weekend we kicked off the festive season by baking some festive cookies (look out for my blog post about them next weekend!)

We also went to a Christmas Party which was organised by one of the lovely School mums. Chester and Millie, along with all of the other children, couldn't believe their luck when Father Christmas turned up! 


Because the 'Book Advent' went down so well last year, I decided to do it again. So I spent a lot of time yesterday wrapping up 24 different Christmas books. This year I brought 4 new ones for us to enjoy, and of course I wrapped up my beloved childhood book 'Twas the night before Christmas to enjoy of Christmas Eve! 


This evening I have been busy getting all of the advent goodies ready. This year I was lucky enough to get the playmobil advent calendars on offer when we went to France, and my parents brought the children a wooden advent, which I have stuffed with sweet treats! 



I can't wait to see their faces in the morning, it really is a magical time of year! 

Sunday, 29 November 2015

My little Eagle

Chester's passion for football, inparticular is love for his team Crystal Palace, just keeps on growing. He never ceases to amaze me with the amount of knowledge of football he has. He can tell me game stats, scores and goal scorers.

Last Monday we were lucky enough to go to the Crystal Palace v Sunderland game at Selhurst Park. Games under the floodlights are always a great atmosphere, but as Chester discovered on Monday, they are a long drive home when Palace loose! 

                       
         

The match wasn't great, Chester wanted answers! He can't understand why they struggle so much at home, especially to teams that they could quite easily beat. As a goal keeper himself he was very frustrated with the goalkeeper. He hates it when Speroni is not in goal, and he certainly let it be known when mistakes were made! I love it that he gets so passionate about his team.

He also got his shirt printed whilst we were there, he has this seasons home shirt and wanted it printed with one of his favourite players.... 

                    
       

He also managed to persuade me to get him the goal keeper kit, printed with Speroni for Christmas, although he is most annoyed I won't let him have it until Christmas! 

I really hope he keeps his passion for his team and football in general. It's lovely to see him happily chatting about football all the time! 

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Hopster TV

As you know we are Samsung Kids bloggers, and have been busy exploring the Samsung 4HD smart TV.

One of the perks of having is a smart TV are the apps. One of the apps that we have been exploring recently is Hopster

     
 Hopster is a an app for kids. It shows a really wide variety of kids shows and games. The shows are great, they are advert free and very easy for the children to navigate. 


Chester and Millie have got a unanimous favourite at the moment and that is Super Why. It's an educational show about spelling and language. They have also explored a fair few of the other shows, of which there are over 30 amounting to over 1000 episodes (depending on what country you are viewing from). 

Hopster has currently got a 7 day free trial offer, and then it is just £3.99 a month. You are not tied into any contract and can cancel at anytime. Another big plus for us is that Hopster is not only linked to our TV it is also linked to our iPad. So if we are out and about visiting relatives etc we can still keep the children entertained.

Hopster has really proved its worth with us. For example, Millie was poorly a few weeks ago so we had a lot of late nights. Being able to just put Hopster on so she could chose a show to watch at the click of a button was great. It took her mind off of being poorly and helped us to clear up and then just chill out with her, even if we were tired! 

The children were also sent some lovely Hopster goodie bags. Which have kept them quiet many a time! 



Do you use Hopster? What is your children's favourite programme?! 

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Our half term break to France and Disneyland Paris!

We have been back a week now, but I am finding it hard to get back into normal routine! Hence why it has taken so long to write this post!

I will firstly give you a little background on this holiday. I won it! Yes, you read it right, I won it! As you know I love to enter competitions, but never did I imagine that I would win a holiday! The prize was a holiday up to the value of £1,500 with Eurocamp. 

We had never been on a Eurocamp holiday before, in fact, before going on this holiday I probably wouldn't have contemplated it. But we loved it! We stayed on a site called La Croix Du Vieux Pont, which is in a town called Berny-Rivière, France. We chose to stay in a 'Vista' holiday home, which I will admit to being worried about. It's essentially a static caravan and in the past we have had a bad experience with staying in a caravan so vowed never to do it again! However we were plesantly surprise when we arrived to a warm, modern, and comfortable holiday home. All of our fears went out of the window and in fact we loved it so much that we have now booked to go to Holland with Eurocamp next year staying in the same accommodation! 

The site itself was great, it had a lovely pool, bowling, AstroTurf pitches, evening entertainment, a bakery/shop, takeaway, restaurant and bar. Plus loads more to explore. The children absolutely loved it! 




The local area had loads of War History, which I wish I had researched before we went, I think we need to go back just to explore it all! 


Disneyland Paris was just over an hour away so we also used the holiday as an excuse (as if our Disney mad family needed one?!) to visit. It was Millies first visit to Disneyland Paris, Chester's third, and our first one driving. It was also our first time visiting in Halloween season so we were all very excited! 


We managed to cram so much into our holiday, I think we need to go on another one to relax! I am going to write some separate blog posts about certain aspects of our visit to Disneyland Paris as I have some tips. But in the mean time here is a little bit of what we got up to.... 

Daredevil Chester went on as many fast rides and Rollercoaster as he could! 




Millie got to meet her hero Jack Skellington...



Chester finally got to meet Jafar! 


Millie got to have lunch with the princesses... 


we all enjoyed the Halloween extras and theme around the parks...


And lastly, following in her brothers footsteps, Millie discovered and fell in love with the Slinky Dog Ride!



 Have you ever holidayed with Eurocamp? What are your thoughts, I would love some tips for next time!