Monday, 15 September 2014

Win Ghostbusters goodies to celebrate the Blu Ray boxset!

I once had a discussion with Dan, half of Lee and Dan from the now Dan-less Midnight Movie Club podcast about what was the best film of the 80's. There are plenty of classics to chose from, ranging from the Shining, to Full Metal Jacket, Scarface, and The Empire Strikes Back to Die Hard but we were battling it out over Ghostbusters and Gremlins. I was down on the side of Ghostbusters, Dan was firmly in favour of Gremlins. I had to acknowledge the fact that Gremlins is probably the best Christmas movie of all time but stuck with my guns over Ghostbusters because it has everything from action and scares to brilliant comedy.

Ghostbusters has been available on Blu Ray for a little while now but it's fair to say the transfer wasn't brilliant and Ghostbusters 2 hasn't been available until now. It's also fair to say that Ghostbusters 2 isn't as awesome as the original but few sequels live up to the first (although I've already mentioned The Empire Strikes Back so I've shot myself in the foot there). Not enough ghosts is the big problem I have with the second film but the dialogue is as snappy and lets face it you can't best the best film of the decade can you? This release has been remastered on Blu Ray from the 4K (ultra high definition) version that's been produced to celebrate Ghostbusters 30th anniversary. If you're really lucky, you might even be able to catch the film in the cinema over Halloween.

A few of my favourite lines would look something like this:

Dr Ray Stantz: Everything was fine with our system until the power grid was shut off by dickless here.
Walter Peck: They caused an explosion!
Mayor: Is this true?
Dr. Peter Venkman: Yes it's true.
Dr. Peter Venkman: This man has no dick.
Dr Ray Stantz: Symmetrical book stacking. Just like the Philadelphia mass turbulence of 1947.
Dr. Peter Venkman: You're right, no human being would stack books like this. 
Dr Ray Stantz: I think we'd better split up.
Dr. Egon Spengler: Good idea.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Yeah... we can do more damage that way.
Dialogue isn't as snappy as that now days, and it shows that most of the cast were Saturday Night Live regulars.

The boxset Blu Ray went on sale on 1 September and to celebrate this, you can win a copy of the BDs, an exclusive Ghostbusters keyring and a kids Ghostbusters outfit.

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is leave a comment below telling me who played Dr. Peter Venkman. The winner will be chosen at random after the closing date which is 25th September, which means you need to get a move on!

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions
  • Being a Mummy Competition closes: Midday 25th September 2014
  • Open to UK residents only.
  • Prize is as detailed
  • There is no cash or other alternative to the prize stated and the prize is not transferable and no part or parts of the prize may be substituted for other benefits, items or additions
  • If any item listed above is unavailable, we reserve the right to substitute with an alternative item of similar value
  • Winner will be selected from all valid and correct entries and notified by email or phone
  • Winner’s details will be passed to a third party for prize fulfilment
  • The Editor's decision is final and binding on the entrants. No correspondence will be entered into

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Book Review: The Owl and The Pussy-cat by Edward Lear with illustrations by Charlotte Volke

One of my favourite poems for all sorts of reasons is The Owl and The Pussy- cat. Its one of the few poems that I can actually recite and it always fires my imagination. This new picture book edition from puffin books is the perfect introduction to this classic work for younger readers and will equally delight those already familiar with the text.

The book is a companion to The Further Adventures of the Owl and the Pussy-cat by Edward Lear fan Julia Donaldson which is a wonderful story starring the characters from the poem. Julia Donaldson has written a very interesting foreword and to be honest its worth getting hold of a copy just to read that alone.

Charlotte Volke has produced some very original  illustrations. Using pen and ink and watercolour with the lightest of touches she has given each part of the poem a modern yet classic feel. I especially like the colour pallet she uses, which I think will inspire the decoration of lots nurseries.

This delightful book is the perfect new baby gift, every child needs a copy of this poem so make sure you have one on your bookshelf. If you'd like to find out more have a look at the Puffin website.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

In Praise of The Argos Catalogue...

I know, its early days yet, too early in fact to start thinking about Christmas. BUT, school has just gone back and I always have the same problem with the children during this time of year: Endless whining about what we are going to do after school, what activities I have planned. I'm sure you have it in your household.

I'm trying really hard to detach the children from their television dependency and engage them in something 'education' related and worthwhile, but in a gentle sort of way. What better then to indulge them in their ruthless quest for consumerism than the Argos Catalogue. And so, I found myself going against all my eco friendly ideals and picking up a copy of the catalogue rather than searching for things on line. And in doing so I have made my children's after school activities stress and fuss free. It is kind of like a throwback to my childhood in the 1980's when the Argos catalogue was the stuff of dreams.

First we had the excited squabbling over who could open the hallowed book

Second, the frantic page turning, pointing, discussion and conclusions

Then the lists started being drawn up....

My argument here is that the Argos catalogue is actually far better than any workbook you could buy your kids and it brings them many learning opportunities:

  • List writing (literacy, decision making)
  • Writing page numbers down (numeracy, comprehension)
  • Adding up the vale of products (numeracy)
  • Cutting out and sticking down photographs of products (art, CDT)
  • Finding they don't get what they have asked for as its a pile of rubbish (emotional life development skills)
There are of course many more uses and activities that one can do with the Argos catalogue and its value to society is clearly underestimated. I think its fair to say that its been an ongoing feature of people's childhoods for at least the last twenty five years. 

Tell me, how do you use it with your kids and maybe more importantly, what do I do once the novelty of writing Christmas lists wears off mid September?

Monday, 8 September 2014

Featured Post: My experiences of pregnancy

Looking slightly worse for wear and pregnant with Ned
Hearing the news today of the pregnancy of the Duchess of Cambridge I was genuinely surprised at how soon she was considering another child. Then I spotted an article on the pro's and con's of a two year age gap I was surprised that it was quite so much, surprised because this is the gap between my two eldest children. This age gap has actually worked really well for us and people often think that they are twins; the fact that my daughter is quite tall and my son quite small is a factor, if they were built differently people might think twice.

Aside from terrible SPD I suffered really badly with heartburn in pregnancy and I can remember sitting at my desk literally swigging from a bottle of Gaviscon in an attempt to feel reasonably alright. There were times when I couldn't eat anything and times when I craved really dense food to try to keep the acids down. I don't think this worked, but a lot of it in pregnancy is all about hormones and your mental state of mind!

For me the heartburn got progressively worse as my pregnancy developed every single time and by the third pregnancy I was actually really frightened that it would all get a bit too much for me. Heartburn is actually quite debilitating by its very nature and so I did a bit of research on the causes of heartburn which are varied and can be very individual. The heartburn was far far worse with Fifi, I don't know if its because she was a girl but I do think they may also be something in that old wives tale about the baby having more hair if you get heartburn as she was born with a thick head of hair. Needless to say it almost immediately all fell out and she then spent much of her toddler hood virtually bald.

However awful my experiences with heartburn and SPD were, I cant imagine what the Duchess of Cambridge is going through as apparently she is suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum a second time. A friend of mine suffered with this debilitating condition in pregnancy and I can vouch that it is far worse than anything I suffered and literally left her bed bound for days on end. I don't know how you cope with this sort of thing, I think I would have been put off pregnancy and been traumatised for a very long time!

I think the thing to remember during pregnancy and the thing which kept me going thorough my three pregnancies, and actually the subsequent difficult moments with the babies, was that all of it is just a phase. By that I mean that however hard things seem, however much you feel like crying because you've run out of Gaviscon or it just feels like the end of the world and you cant cope with another toddler tantrum, it is a moment in time and it will pass. I've used the Internet as a source of support and advice and in the depths of night it has stopped me from going mad. I cant offer much pregnancy advice, but what I can say is that someone, somewhere will have been there and done that and actually that's part of joining this special club: being a mummy.

Featured Post: Thinking Smart About Money and Protecting Your Future: Advice from Fearne Cotton

Ever since I've had children I have made a real effort in trying to organise our finances and make sure we are reasonably secure. This has meant being really genuinely thrifty at times, going without things and sorting out our finances. To this end I can reveal that we are a family which (other than our mortgage) lives debt free. We have no credit cards, we don't use them, if we can't pay for something then we go without. I'm not going to say that this is an easy way to live, its incredibly hard at times, but it has worked for us and slowly we are saving a bit for our future. I have a goal in mind with regards to saving, I'm aiming to gather at least three months of our income in savings to fall back on.

Now, just imagine if you put all your hard earned savings in the bank, only to discover that something happened to the bank and you couldn't get hold of it. That's where the Financial Services Compensation Scheme comes in. Its free to consumers, completely automatic and backed by Government, protecting against deposits, insurance, investments and mortgage broking. There really is no excuse not to do a bit of saving and protect your future.

The FSCS is launching a brand new campaign today with Fearne Cotton which aims to encourage people to think about protecting their future. They want you to be reassured that your money is protected up to £85,000 per person if your bank, building society or credit union goes bust.

Fearne Cotton is now one of Britain's most popular and well known television and radio presenters, but that doesn't mean that she is complacent about money. The FSCS interviewed her about her attitude to money and you can watch the video here:

I really enjoyed hearing what Fearne has to say about money. Its interesting to hear another woman and mothers approach to it all and she has gained loads of credibility with me by saying that she is still uncomfortable spending £300 on a jumper. I think she has a lot to say which will resonate with lots of people and if any readers happen to have teenage children you might find these quotes about what Fearne did with her money once she started earning useful (they are taken from the video):

“From the second I started earning I gave my mum a bit of housekeeping because obviously I was earning but I was still living under her roof so I thought that we came to the conclusion that it was good that I gave her a little bit of housekeeping just to kind of you know, pay my way and have that understanding.”

“I put all of it in a savings account straight away.  I wasn’t one of those people and I’m so grateful that I wasn’t but I didn’t just go out and go to the designer shops straight away and buy loads of new clothes, because I never had before so that wasn’t something that felt natural to me to start shopping on Bond Street or whatever. I just didn’t have that in me and I still don’t have it in me – I’m still quite a thrifty person in that way, but I think that’s because of years before my sort of growing up years, I didn’t really have those opportunities.”

One of the things which many children use their savings for is to buy a car. Unfortunately I didn't manage to save enough when I was younger so not only did I have the fear you get when you first start driving, I also had the worry that I might damage my parents car! So I'm quite jealous hearing all about when Fearne met Ethel the car:

“It was all in a savings account until I kind of thought right, what am I aiming for here and approaching my 17th birthday it was all about a car and a red Fiat Punto at that – that was my dream.”

“Having a car was the ultimate freedom. I just remember the first time I got behind the wheel - I was in my own car, listening to music – life was good. It was a really empowering moment.”

As I've said previously, for us, savings are becoming increasingly important and I'm trying really hard to make sure that my children save and have an understanding of the value of money. I don't think I could have summed it all up better than Fearne: 

“I always try to have savings in the bank and I always try and just have that element of comfort. Now also, because I’m a Mum, its not about me saving up for silly things, its about really sort of creating some stability, comfort for my family, for my kid, for my step kids, and just feeling really comfortable and safe with savings.”

“It’s really nice to know as well that now I am a mum and I’ve got a kid and stepkids that I can put money away in an FSCS protected account and have that safety and security there – whether it’s me saving for my first flat back in the day or me now just creating those stable foundations for a family – it’s protected.”

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Book Review: Dragon Jelly by Claire Freedman and Sue Hendra

Max's Monster party is the subject of Dragon Jelly. In our house we've come to the conclusion that we don't want to go to a party like Max's, but that we would LOVE to receive the party bags of little fire breathing dragons. But then, we didn't really like the idea of Spider Sandwiches, or the similar thing on offer in the previous book the pair have produced together.

Its this sort of discussion which Sue Hendra and Claire Freedman are so brilliant at inspiring. I'm shameless in saying that they are created some of the nicest memories of bedtimes I have with my children; Sue Hendra's No-Bot the Robot being one of my all time favourite books to read to them.

Dragon Jelly is not quite as easy a read as some of the other offerings, somehow it doesn't quite trip off the tongue so easily. However, the ideas are brilliant; a gooey sticky bouncy castle, eye ball birthday cake. With the children grimacing, saying 'yuck' and desperate to see what was coming next it really made for a fun read

Children can gain a lot from reading something pleasurable, silly, bright and quirky. These sorts of books highlight the joy of reading and are so accessible to even the youngest member of your family. Its another sure-fire hit and I'm really hoping that we aren't inspired by this for birthday party requests this year!

You can find out more about the book here.

Disclaimer; we were sent a copy for review purposes

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Book Review: The New Small Person by Lauren Child

We are huge fans of Lauren Child in our house and I think we must have nearly all of her books from Charlie and Lola through to Ruby Redfort. All of her picture books have something quirky and special about them. The artwork is inspirational, my daughter is often found cutting up bits of home catalogues to make skirts and dresses, Lauren Child style for her pictures. I don't think I even need to discuss the stories as they are written with such style and such a turn of phrase that you cant fail to be charmed time and time again.

The New Small Person is Lauren Child's latest offering and its basically about a little boy called Elmore Green who is dealing with having a new little brother. This is a situation which happened in our house and will be familiar to parents across the country. Elmore Green doesn't like the change in his life, the new little person and the fact his parents attention is not entirely focused on him. In an almost perfect scene from nearly every household in Britain with more than one child, Elmore Green actually asks his parents to send the new one back. We were all enthralled and delighted with this, it struck such a chord.

Of course in the end, Elmore Green comes to realise that actually its quite good having a sibling and I hope that my children would agree with that. Most days anyhow.

I'm often asked what a good gift would be for someone having a second or third child. I always say to forget to much about a gift for the children and get something for the parents. However, I think this is an ideal compromise. You cant beat a book with an appropriate message and this one ticks all those boxes. the kids love it and I enjoy reading it, you cant ask for more than that.

You can find out more and get hold of a copy from the brilliant Puffin website.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy for review purposes


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