Sunday, 25 January 2015

Book Review: Oliver & Path by Claire Freedman and Kate Hindley

Oliver & Patch is a delightful story of the little boy who moves from the countryside to the city and feels all alone. On a walk he finds Patch, an adorable dog, although he loves Patch he knows he has to do the right thing and find his owner. Oliver tries to find Patches owner without much luck and then one day they stumble across a sad looking girl at the swings. Patch recognises his owner immediately, Oliver is sad but soon realises that he has actually found himself a new friend.

You can't really go wrong with a Claire Freedman story, she is the author of the underpants books which are so loved by most children. Kate Hindley illustrated another one of our favourite books: How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth. She has done a brilliant job with Oliver and Patch, the illustrations seem fresh, stylised and unique.

This is a special book, its a lovely story with a great ending and importantly a story I haven't come across before. The illustrations are superb, Patch looks truly delightful and the children realistic. I think I enjoyed reading it as much as the children did and I keep flicking through the book finding more and more things in the illustrations. This is one of those books which I shall be buying for the children of friends and family. I'm looking forward to reading more of Oliver's adventures.

You can find out more here.

Disclaimer: We were sent this book to review

Book Review: Roo The Roaring Dinosaur by David Bedford and Mandy Stanley

If you are on the lookout for a book that deals with sharing and friendship for your little one in a lovely subtle but heart warming way then this is the book for you. In this story Roo the little dinosaur who loves his comforter meets a new friend, Wooly the mammoth and has lots of fun with his new friend. He finds that Wooly needs his comforter more than him.

I was so impressed with this story and the message behind it that I asked my seven year old to read it to his little brother. It was delightful seeing them interact and talk about the different feelings Roo experienced. They gave me some very positive feedback and said that they felt the pictures in particular were 'really good'. As it is so difficult to find books which inspire boys to talk about emotions and are appealing to them both visually and in terms of the story, I'm delighted to have come across this little story.

Quite simply, this is a lovely book featuring a really adorable little dinosaur and we love it.

You can find out more about the book here.

Disclaimer: We were sent a review copy

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Tips for getting children to school

Its not without irony that I write this post as I'm the first person to say that I'm late about 2% of the time for school runs. However, with three children, sometimes four, in tow I don't think that its too much of a bad record. Over the years I have developed a system for getting them all out to school and there on time and I thought it might be useful. This is what I do:

  • Set the clocks five minutes fast and don't let them watch scheduled television in the mornings. That way they cant 'time' themselves by the finishing of a programme.
  • Consider the options for breakfast the night before and train the children to help themselves as much as possible. My eldest wont eat cereals so I try to make sure there is some of last nights dinner left over for him and I don't give him any other options. The younger ones will eat cereals so I put them on the counter with bowls easily accessible and they can help themselves if they are downstairs before me.
  • Twenty minutes before its time to leave I make sure that everyone is fully dressed. This usually entails making sure everyone is wearing socks and jumpers.
  • Fifteen minutes before its time to leave I issue a teeth brushing ultimatum/ threat.
  • Ten minutes before its time to go I tell them its time to go and slowly put my coat on.
  • At no point do I shout, or engage in any sort of discussion or dialogue about school. I have a child who is very reluctant to go to school so I avoid any conversations about school which seems to have helped.
  • If we have one of 'those' mornings I simply get as many children as I can out of the front door, without fuss and begin to lock up. The remaining child soon comes out of the door and we walk to school, usually with one being grumpy but nothing more.

So, thats my tips for getting them out. It basically involves being clear, firm and using as little dialogue about school as possible. I'd love to hear yours!

Monday, 19 January 2015

My top parenting tip for SMA B.A.B.Y

I've finally reached the hallowed halls of parenting where, after three children other mums do actually occasionally listen to my advice. It has taken me seven years and three children but, hey, sometimes you need a bit of experience for people to take you seriously. Nonetheless I'm always keen to hear advice from other mums because all children are different and what works for one doesn't necessarily work for another. 

Ever since our first child was born I've found that other mums know best and I've sought out advice via this blog or other social media channels rather than religiously sticking to books. That’s why when I heard about the new campaign by SMA Nutrition I was keen to get involved.

SMA B.A.B.Y (Baby Advice By You) is a brilliant new campaign where they are aiming to create a library of useful and memorable advice for new mums. I've been asked to think about what advice I would give to a new mum. I found it quite tricky because there is so much I'd like to say; listen to your gut instincts, make sure the fridge is stocked up with chocolate and take care of yourself rank very highly on my list. But what did I decide on? Well, just have a look at my short video and see:

SMA Nutrition is looking for mums to provide their advice based on real life experience on the SMA website. The winners of the top ten pieces of advice sent in will be invited to London, enjoy a makeover and have their advice turned into vignettes and featured on SMA YouTube channel! How great is that? Plus, each winner will also receive a £250 voucher for a local spa of their choice.
I'm sure you'll have some excellent advice to share so do make sure you submit your best piece of advice here: Click here for full terms and conditions. Competition starts today and all entries must be received by no later than midnight on Sunday, 1 February 2015.

The opinions on this page are the expressed opinions of the bloggers/panellists/competition winners who have a material connection with Nestlé UK LTd for the purpose of featuring advice from mum to mum. The opinions of the bloggers/panellists/competition winners are not the opinions of SMA Nutrition.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

New Year, New Approaches

This camel has stopped procrastinating and banned children's television from the living room as well...
One of my resolutions this year is to spend a bit more time living in the present and not so much time procrastinating on what could be or what was. This is very hard, especially so when you have a fairly large amount of what essentially (in many ways) amounts to free time.  Fortunately I've tried my hardest to adopt a new approach to life though and put myself first at all times. I've come to the conclusion that I'm not doing anyone any favours by being a martyr and doing things I'm not interested in or don't really want to do. Its quite refreshing to take this approach although I suspect I will start to be called selfish at some point in the near future. However, since its my fourth decade I think I'm entitled to become a little more curmudgeonly and less flexible!

With all this in mind I have resolved to dramatically cut down on the work I've been doing for free, that means minimal input in the various things I've been involved with. Except of course the things I really enjoy doing or directly benefit me. I'm feeling rather empowered by this and as a result of it all I've gone out and got myself a new job which is very exciting. I'll be doing something I enjoy with like minded people and best of all its fun. I'm coming to terms with the fact that I don't think financially I'll ever be able to return to my professional career because of childcare/ salary and competition in the sector from younger people.

I've also returned to crafting in a fairly big way and have a stack of little projects to go ahead. I finished the jumper I was knitting over Christmas and I'm currently working on a new blanket and another jumper, with the fabric ready for a dress. I'm looking forward to the children settling into a routine properly so I get a chance to sit quietly and make some real progress.

Big progress has been made already with child management in that they have now been banned form watching TV in the sitting room. This means freedom from endless Cbeebies, CBBC, Kids Netflix and Pop. I feel a bit guilty about not being with them, but it makes such a difference to sanity and has been one of the best outcomes of 'the new approach'.

Finally, the one major change I'm trying to make is the amount of time I spend on-line. I tend to respond to Tweets, FaceBook messages and emails almost immediately. I cant really help myself. From here on in, I'm going to have entire days when I don't turn the computer on. I don't know if this is going to impact on blogging, but lets be honest blogging has been a bit more erratic of late anyhow. I've sort of lost my Mojo and interest with it a bit, its hard to write about the things I did when I started this blog now my children can read it. So expect to see more posts about craft, books of all varieties and less about children's activities.

I'd love to hear about your New Year resolutions, are you taking a new approach this year or is it all about maintaining the status quo?

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Partying the Night Away! #StreamTeam

The new year is an exceptionally busy time in our household because not only do we try to celebrate New Year with the children its also little Ned's birthday. That meant that this year we had TWO parties to attend in two days. Thank goodness of Netflix who came to the rescue with Ned's party by providing a whole box of party goodies related to their new show (Fifi's new favourite) All Hail King Julien.
The party in full mode!

All Hail King Julien is absolutely perfect for parties for Junior school age kids and their siblings because its based on the character from the Dreamworks film Madagascar. You know, the one with those penguins... Not only is it really amusing, there is a fantastic soundtrack to this which really adds to the programme. Fifi likes it so much she's asked for another King Julien themed birthday party in a few weeks time.

So what did we do? Well, musical statues, musical bumps, parachute games and pass the parcel. When it all got a bit too much we sat them down with popcorn and All Hail King Julien on Netflix. The adults may or may not have had alcohol.

Sometimes children need a little bit of down time and a bit of fun and I think that All Hail King Julien is the perfect programme for this. Don't tell anyone but I'm quite enjoying it myself...

All thats left of our wild and crazy party...

Our party goodies were provided by Netflix as part of their Stream Team ambassador programme

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Christmas as part of the Netflix #StreamTeam

Christmas without television is like fish without chips. It really is a no brainer and since becoming part of the Netflix Stream Team we have enjoyed a much broader range of programmes than I would have thought. Netflix really kindly sent me a Christmas survival kit this year to help us through the period which included a really handy USB charger which has to be one of the most useful things we now own as it has prevented many many tantrums over the Ipad running out of charge when they are trying to watch Turbo Fast...

Its been a bit tricky to detach the Ipad from the eldest at night time as he has discovered that Doctor Who is available on Netflix, for those of you not aware he is absolutely obsessed with Doctor Who. To the extent that he demanded to have his hair cut like Matt Smith. We let him get away with a near 7 hour marathon as it was Christmas, if there is a junior Mastermind coming up in the near future I think I might enter him.

For me, this Christmas has been about relaxing and trying to adopt a new slower pace of life. I've re-discovered how much I enjoy knitting and sewing and I've been making full use of Netflix whilst I teach myself more and more complicated things. As a result I've nearly finished watching Marco Polo which is really fantastic and everything you want from an easy viewing historical drama.

I also discovered that the Husband has not seen The Office! Can you believe it? So, we started watching that, with a few cringe-worthy moments when he recognised some of the stuff David Brent does as similar to his behaviour at work. I think he may have tweeted some of this, so if you know where to find him you may find that amusing. There really is nothing better than the team talks in The Office and its been really amusing to revisit them.

I'm really looking forward to chilling out a bit in front of the TV with my knitting in 2015, the year I enter my fourth decade. There is so much to watch on Netflix any recommendations on what to watch next would be appreciated, as I'm spoilt for choice.


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