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Thursday, 1 December 2016

Christmas Traditions, Keeping traditions alive!

There is something so magical about Christmas that totally love, even more so now we have children to enjoy it with! 

When I was little I always remember the little Christmas traditions we had as a family and how special and exciting they made Christmas. It was the little things such as every Christmas me and my sister would take it in turns 1 person chose things for Santa and the other for the Reindeer. For Santa my dad always used to take us to this little shop in the high street to choose a little miniature bottle of alcohol (my sister once picked the Tequila with the worm inside!) I bet my dad was thrilled!

Another tradition we had as kids was on Christmas morning. Once we had woken up my dad would go down stairs and "see if Santa had been", he would then bring our stockings upstairs and we would open them on mum and dads. Eating our obligatory piece of fruit found in the bottom of our sticking before heading downstairs to discover more presents! 

I adore thinking back to our little traditions and have really tried to carry these on with James and Evelyn now, along with making our own of course. 



Now that we have children we have our own traditions as well as keeping some of our own childhood traditions. One of our new traditions is going to visit Santa somewhere different each year and always on Christmas eve. We have been to see Santa on a steam train and even in the  caves. I hope that in years to come if my children have kids they will remember how magical our traditions were and will want to continue them on and create some of their own! 

I love hearing about other people Christmas traditions and you never know they may even inspire you to start a new tradition! So here are some more Christmas traditions from other fabulous bloggers - 

Becky from Sparkly Mummy - "Everyone gets new PJ's on Christmas Eve and we spend Christmas Day in them and we always watch the snowman, nightmare before Christmas and the Grinch on Christmas Eve"

Ashleigh from 3 girls mummy - "Each year we wrap up the living room door so the kids have to tear it down to get through to the Christmas tree and see what Santa left!"


(Photo belongs to Ashleigh from 3girlsmummy.co,uk)

Jada from Unique young mum - "I do elf on the shelf, even as a parent it's so much fun getting involved in it and thinking of new places to hide Buddy (our elf) my son loves waking up every day throughout December up until Christmas Eve looking for him!"

Cathryn from Cardiff mummy says - "Every year, my children do a little show for me and my husband, they make it up themselves, singing, dancing etc. Last year it was all based on the song When Santa Got Stuck Up The Chimney. 
It came about because I told them that's what me and my brothers did when we were little for our parents and they loved the idea and I love that we are continuing the tradition."

Emma from Sophie Ella and Me - "I put together a Christmas Eve basket for my daughter each year and include Christmas pyjamas, a soft toy, chocolates and other festive goodies! I think it's such a lovely tradition to start!"


(Photo belongs to Emma from SophieEllaandMe.com)

Hannah from Han Plans - "Since Jaxon was born we read The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. Growing up it was standing in the kitchen with my mum and cutting out the pastry circles for mince pies while listening to Any Grant's Home for Christmas album"

Katie from Living life our way - "We always decorate a gingerbread house together on Christmas eve."


(Photo belongs to Katie from livinglifeourway.com)

Irina from Wave to mummy - "We have a special Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. In Finland, my native country, you celebrate Christmas one day early so I always cook us a few traditional Finnish dishes. After dinner you would (in Finland) have gifts, so we will also open one gift."


Do you have any special Christmas traditions? I would love to hear about them in the comment section below! 



xXx


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

A Magical Christmas Experience at LaplandUK.

When the email landed in my inbox to tell me we had been invited along to review a day out at Lapland UK I could barely contain my excitement! I rang my husband and definitely struggled keeping it a secret from the kids.

If you haven't heard of LaplandUK its aimmersive family theatrical experience that replicates Father Christmas' arctic homeland of Lapland. Your visit will take you on a magical journey through a magical winter wonderland accompanied by elves as you help them out with jobs such as toy making and gingerbread decorating. Of course your trip wouldn't be complete without meeting Father Christmas who provides a personal meeting with your child complete with a beautiful present to take home. 


As part of the experience each child will receive a personalised invitation inviting them to LaplandUK which will be sent discretely along with your confirmation. You can choose when to give these to your child since their is no date on them, we chose the evening before so they would be all excited to go the next day!

When you arrive at LaplandUK you are helpfully directed where to park and your experience begins as soon as you step out of the car! Following the paths sign posted as the "Enchanted Forest" we stumbled upon a beautiful lantern lit pathway leading to our check in point. Each child is given a passport at check in. You will need to keep these safe as your child will be given a stamp for each activity they do as they move around LaplandUK.


Stepping inside is like being transported straight to Lapland with everyone from the people at the check in to the people in the cafe fully dressed as elves. Despite there being a lot of people we checked in with little waiting or fuss and the elves dotted around helped keep little ones happy and entertained whilst we awaited the elf to show us where to go.

After a brief performance from some elves, telling us all about where elves come from and the children's job in LaplandUK we are lef through the doors! Then came the Narnia moment when the elves opened the big double doors to reveal a stunning snow covered woodland and pathways and we were led through here to our first activity. Helping the elves makes toys!



Here children will get to help the elves make 2 different types of toys whilst here all about what the toy making elves do to help Father Christmas all year. James was fascinated by this and loved helping make the toys.

Our next Activity was helping Mother Christmas make gingerbread. You walk through the snow covered woodland walkways to get to each activity which are held in beautifully wooden buildings peeking out through the trees. Making the gingerbread was lots of fun and you are even provided with aprons to keep clean and bags to take the gingerbread home in. This part of your adventure is finished off with a lovely story from Mother Christmas.


After your activities we were told we had 90 minutes free time to explore the elf village!


Stepping inside the elf village was magical, the Christmas tunes playing in the background and the huge ice rink surrounded by quaint wooden elf buildings really set a magical scene. The ice skating is included in the price, as was everything except for food and drink etc!

We also explored the building surround the ice skating with our first stop being the post office to write our letters to Father Christmas.



After writing them an elf sealed the kids letters with a wax seal and led them to the wall of letter boxes where they chose a letter box to post their letter in.

We also paid a visit to Pixie Mixie's sweet shop where James purchased a lollipop the size of his head for just 2 jingles!


We stopped off at Bauble's Bauble shop to admire all the beautiful decorations on offer too.


There was a elf emporium packed full of beautiful toys and gifts perfect for grabbing some Christmas gifts if one of you can keep the kids occupied outside!

Whilst you are in LaplandUK you cannot use your "normal" money and must use the elf currency of Jingles! You can either order these when you book online or like us pick them up on the day. You can still your your debit card though if you don't wish to change any money up but we did find the kids loved paying in Jingles and really getting in to the spirit of being in the elf village. You can cash up any left over Jingles when you leave.

Here are some more pictures of our magical day at LaplandUK!





Your day at LaplandUK culminates in a very special visit to Father Christmas. After another check in point an elf comes and takes each family individually along a windy snow covered forest path to meet father Christmas. After a small wait outside we were invited in to meet Father Christmas. He greeted the kids with a jolly disposition and knew their names and so much about them (that adults fill out before you go!). It didn't feel rushed and he had lots of conversation with the kids before handing them a beautiful husky teddy to bring home.

Whilst you are meeting Father Christmas an elf takes photos, your first photo is free and then after that 15 jingles each. You can also purchase a "scrapbook" which includes 2 photos and also some recipes, stories and a place for the kids passports for just 15 jingles. You also get the digital downloads for any photo's you purchase!











I can't write this review without addressing the cost. At between £65 and £130 per person it certainly isn't cheap! For us (a family of 4) it would of cost us
£342 for our experience. For us that is a lot of money and something we would probably struggle to find especially on top of Christmas. However if you can afford to go then 100% do it!!

Its a magical day out that I am certain James will look back on and remember for ever! Its not just a "visit to Father Christmas" you are paying for. Its the experience and everything that LaplandUK has to offer. Its a magical wonderland where even as an adult you feel transported to being a child again.

Its clear to see from the moment you step inside that so much time, effort and love has gone in to creating LaplandUK. All the staff we encountered were fantastic and it was clear they had a real love and passion for what they were doing and keeping the Christmas magic alive for all the children and grown ups.

There is no detail LaplandUK have not covered making it a can't beat experience right here in the UK and if you can go then go you definitely will not regret it, its magical!

If you want to book tickets to LaplandUK or find out some more information visit the LaplandUK website. 

xXx


**I was not paid for this review. We received tickets to come along and review LaplandUK. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**




Monday, 28 November 2016

Puddle Adventures with my little explorer.

If there is one thing Evelyn loves most about the winter its the puddles!

So you can imagine our delight when out latest challenge as HiPP Explorers was to slip on our welly boots and go jumping in puddles.

We received these adorable welly boots and waterproof jacket in this very cute duck print from Frugi to help Evelyn keep dry on her puddle jumping adventures!. Evelyn could hardly contain her excitement to put them on and get outdoors and insisted on wearing them on the school run just moments after they arrived.


We have a membership to our local WWT wetlands centre which always has lots of puddle jumping opportunities so off we went to find some puddles, and puddles we found. Its not just great for puddle jumping though there are lots of birds to look at and places to explore!




Of course all this puddle jumping uses up lots of energy and so starting off the day with a good breakfast is vital!

HiPP have a wide range of breakfast products in their range which are made with the finest organic ingredients, providing toddlers with a healthy nutritious breakfast to start the day. 



Included in this range is the HiPP Organic Fruity Muesli with Crispy Ducks contains the finest organic cereal and have no added sugar. These were a big hit with Evelyn and great for slightly older ones who want to feed themselves as Evelyn found this really easy to scoop up with her own spoon. 

Also available in the breakfast range are The HiPP Organic range of tasty Porridge Pouches which are the only porridge in a pouch available in the UK.  These handy breakfast pouches are packed full of scrumptious 100% organic fruit and wholegrain cereal,  providing valuable nutrition for little ones and contain no added sugar, only natural occurring sugars.

I really liked the pouch idea and they were especially handy to take along with us on the school runs when Evelyn was being fussy about eating breakfast at home before we had to leave. These would also be perfect to take along with you on day trips or holidays etc as they can just be popped in the a change bag etc. 

Evelyn loved the whole HiPP range and there is such a variety of flavours available she certainly didn't get bored, which is somehing I do worry about. I felt much happier knowing she had a good breakfast to start the day too since she always seems to be on the go throughout the day! 

HiPP Organic has a great range of products perfect for breakfast. Visit the website for more details - www.hipp.co.uk.

Do your little ones have a favourite breakfast food? 


xXx


**We were not paid for this post. We are part of the HiPP Explorers team and received some of the items featured here to enable us to write our post. All thoughts, opnions and photo's are my own.**

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Something Special - Mr Tumble toys **REVIEW**

Something special is a program that is a firm favourite with Evelyn. She loves all of the different characters Justin portrays, especially Mr Tumble who always makes her giggle.
As a parent I really like the fact that throughout the program Evelyn started picking up some basic Makaton signs that she actually used day to day when she was smaller. 

So when we were recently asked if we would like to review some toys from the Something Special range from Golden Bear Toys we jumped at the chance, knowing just how much Evelyn would love them. 

The first toy we received is the Lights and Sounds Mr Tumble. 


He is a great size who really resembles the TV version of Mr Tumble, even coming with his own matching spotty bag which opens and closes! What makes this toy extra special though is that if you press his hand Mr Tumble says some common phrases and sounds along with a very funny laugh. That's not all though, when you press Mr Tumble hand as well as talking his bow tie lights up! 


Evelyn is besotted with the Lights and Sounds Mr Tumble and takes him everywhere with her, even storing little toys in the spotty bag. I really like the fact that his large non slip feet mean Mr Tumble can stand on his own. Mr Tumble has also become a firm favourite for nap time companion as she loves to stroke his super soft hair. 


We also received Mr Tumbles Spotty Bag and I don't Evelyn could contain her excitement when she realised she actually had her very own spotty bag to store all her favourite things. 


Evelyn is 2 and the bag was a great size for her, it does have an adjustable strap though if you need it slightly longer or shorter. The bag has lots of space inside and Evelyn loves using it to collect special things we find when out on our walks and the velcro fastening ensures everything stays inside. 


The bag itself is made with lovely bright fabric and has 4 different textured spots on the front - green satin, orange velvet, red plush and blue corduroy which Evelyn loves feeling. Mr Tumbles spotty bag also  comes with 5 brightly coloured cards featuring Makaton signs to help establish recognition of some common words. I loved this addition and we have been using them regularly and Evelyn loves having a go at using the signs. 


We have loved trying out some of the toys from the Mr Tumble range and they have a big thumbs up from us. They seem well made and sturdy and the bright colours and different textures are great for kids and really grab their attention. 

If you want to check out more toys from the Something Special range you can find the full range over on the Golden Bear Toys website

Do your little ones like Mr Tumble? 

xXx

**I received these products free of charge in order to write my review. All words, photos and opinions are my own.**

Monday, 21 November 2016

Summer Infant - My Size Potty **REVIEW**

Since Evelyn turned 2 potty training has been at the front of my mind. I know its something that as parents we have all been through and its one of those stages most of us dread and hope is over quickly. However very often its not and it can be quite tricky to get children completely potty trained so I am a big fan of any product that might make the process a little easier!

When we were recently offered the chance to try out the Summer Infant my size potty I knew it had to be worth a try. 


Evelyn seems to be a bit hit and miss with potty training, some days she is happy to use the potty or at least try. However other days even the mention of removing her nappy sparks tears so I was hoping the my size potty might be a positive on our journey. 

The Summer Infant my size potty is a children's potty which as been designed to look just like a real full size toilet complete with its own  pretend flush with noises. 


Assembly of the potty is easy and the instructions are clear and simply. It really is a case of placing some screws in a few pre drilled holes and your toilet is ready to use. There is even a space on the top of the toilet for you to place some tissue or wipes which I thought was a lovely touch, also meaning you always had wipes to hand! 

Evelyn found the potty funny at first but actually showed lots of interest in using it unlike any other potty we have tried. I think she loved the fact it looks just like mummy and daddy's toilet and she felt grown up using it. She loves pushing the flush down but was a little unsure as to why it didn't actually flush away the wee. 

The splash guard was my only dislike on the my size potty. It comes up quite high over the seat of the potty making it quite difficult for little ones to position themselves on the toilet without catching the splash guard in the process. We opted to take it off in the end and we haven't had any splashes or leaks yet. 


Over all we give the Summer Infant my size potty a thumbs up. It has definitely given Evelyn more of an interest in using the potty which is a big bonus. From a parent perspective I really like the fact you can remove the main bowl from the toilet unit meaning it can easily be emptied and cleaned without having to haul around the whole toilet unit. I also found it really handy to have the space for the wipes so I had some to hand when needed. 

The my size potty is priced at £34.99 which is at the higher price range for a potty but I would still say it is worth the price tag if you have a child who may may prefer using a toilet over a traditional style potty. I feel that using this smaller version of a toilet may make our transition from potty to actual toilet much easier in the long run. 

So whilst Evelyn still isn't totally potty trained we are slowly getting their and the Summer Infant my size potty is certainly helping us along the way. 

Do you have any potty training tips to share? 

xXx

**I received this products free of charge in order to write my review. All words, photos and opinions are my own.**

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Children's Christmas Gift Guide #2!

You may have seen our first Christmas gift guide if not you can find it here! We included lots of great toy and gift ideas for children this year, however there are so any great products out there we just couldn't fit them all in one post. So here is our second gift guide packed full of great gift ideas for Christmas.

Whether the person you are searching for is a toddler or teen we are sure to have something to keep everyone happy across our gift guides so check them out and let us know in the comments below what is the top toy your child is asking for this Christmas.



1. Harry Potter Slytherin Glass - This large Harry Potter glass would make a great gift for any Harry Potter fans around. The front displays a large colourful crest (other crests are available) making it really stand out. This glass is available from Lakeland.

2. LEGO City Van and Caravan set - LEGO is one of those timeless classic toys that kids (and grown ups!) never get bored of. Its a toy that will be played with time and time again and creates amazing imaginative ideas and helps them come to life. I love this van and caravan set as its something most kids will have seen it real life so being able to build something to play is great! This set is available from Amazon, Tesco and the LEGO website priced at £17.99. A great starter set for a LEGO newbie or a lovely set to add to any LEGO collection.

3. Marili luxury gift set - These luxury gift sets from Marili made a lovely gift for any baby or toddler that is something a bit different from toys. Each set contains a plush toy, a soft 100% cotton t-shirt or baby grow and a gentle body wash. You can choose whether your gift set contains a baby grow or t-shirt. I love that this set is something a bit different and the plush toy makes a lovely keepsake. These sets are available from the Marili website and are priced at £35.99. 

4. Baby Born Fashion Clothing pack - Did you know that its not just the doll to consider when you think of Baby Born dolls? If you are looking for something a little less expensive or your little one already has a doll to love have you checked our all the accesories available for Baby Born? My little girl loves dressing up her dolls so this Baby Born fashion pack it great! It contains 2 outfits - Outfit 1 includes dress, leggings and glasses and outfit 2 includes top, 2-in-1 short leggings and hat. The clothing in this set is great quality and fits the Baby Born doll really well. With easy slip on clothing and velcro fastenings its really easy for little hands to dress their own dolls. 

5 + 6. Bladez Remote Control character toys (RC Inflatable PO and RC Inflatable Thunderbirds 2) - I recently came across Bladez and I am totally taken with their amazing range of RC inflatable toys! These toys are inflatable but can be totally controlled via remote control, something both James and Evelyn love! The RC Inflatable PO comes with a chunky simple controller perfect for smaller hands and after a little practice something Evelyn (aged 2) was able to use. The Thunderbirds 2 RC Inflatable comes with a slightly different control that almost looks similar to a games console controller, but still with simple controls. Both the PO and Thunderbirds 2 have built in sound effects and a drive range of 30m! These have provided James and Evelyn with hours and hours of fun and despite being inflatable they are actually really durable. You can purchase these from the Bladez website and both are priced at just £24.99

7. NumNoms Lip Gloss Truck - There is no denying that NumNoms have taken playgrounds and parks by storm with so many funky and unique NumNoms to collect its easy to see why. NumNoms are collectible scented characters which you can mix and match to create your own flavour fusions. With that in mind NumNoms have taken it one step further and you can create your very own lip gloss flavour fusions with the NumNoms lip gloss truck! Simply use the lip gloss, scents and glitter provided to create your very own lip gloss. The NumNoms lip gloss truck is available via the lots of stores including Toys R Us, Amazon and Smyths.

8. Baby Annabel Sophia doll - Sophia is baby Annabel's big sister would make a great addition to any little ones toy collection. Sophia makes a great cuddling companion with her soft body and moveable arms/legs. Sophia is also great for those children who love brushing and styling hair as Sophia's soft golden locks are perfect for this. Baby Annabel's Sophia doll is great for encouraging imaginative role play and the development of responsibility and empathy. You can purchase the Baby Annabel Sophia doll from Amazon or Smyth's and is priced at around £29.99.

9. LEGO Ninjago salvage M.E.C set - As I mentioned above we love LEGO in this house and I know that its a classic toy and its not just the classic collection you can get. I am sure you are all aware of the many different themed LEGO you can get but check out the amazing LEGO Ninjago set the must have toy for any Ninjago fan! With this set you can Stage a mech battle between bounty-hunting Ronin, assisted by Nya against Skulkin warriors. The set includes 4 mini figures - Ronin with special M.E.C. outfit, Nya with Skybound outfit, Krazi and Frakjaw. The set also includes accesories such as a skate board and loads of weapons for the minifigures. This set is priced at £34.99 (we think an amazing price!) and is available from the online LEGO shop (as well as other retail stores and amazon). 


What toy from our latest gift guide do you think your children or relatives would like the most, or perhaps they have their eye on something else? Let us know in the comments below.

xXx

**Some of the products featured in the gift guide I received samples of to feature here. All words and opinions are my own and prices correct at the time of posting.**

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Children's Christmas Gift Guide #1!

Who can believe its November already! This year seems to be flying by and with that in mind im about to say THAT C word..... that's right its time to start thinking about Christmas!

For me personally I find that spreading out my Christmas shopping certainly helps me with the costs of Christmas so today I have put together a list of some of the toys we are loving the look of this Christmas.




1. Fuzzikins Craft Cottontail Cottage - Most children love craft activities but the Fuzzikins craft cottontail cottage is a craft with a difference, it can be continued to play with even after the crafting has finished. With the Fuzzikins cottage you can customize the rabbits and their house and also create accessories for them. The Cottontail Cottage playset comes with a cleverly engineered pop-up 3D play house which folds away neatly to save space when not being used. The set includes plenty of accessories to decorate the cottage with. My children are aged 2.5 years and almost 7 and both have loved creating and playing with this set so I can thoroughly recommend it. The set is priced at £19.99 which includes 2 rabbits and lots of accesories to decorate and design with, it is available from InterplayUK.

2. Dance Along Peekaboo - If your little ones love Twirlywoo's as much as Evelyn then the dance along Peekaboo is definitely one to add to your Christmas list. Press Peekaboo's head to see him spin and dance across the floor whilst playing the iconic Twirlywoo's theme tune, sure to get your little ones up and dancing along too. As well as dancing with Peekaboo Evelyn loved cuddling him to as he is so soft. Peekaboo is priced at £22.99 and is available from Golden Bear Toys.

3. Chocolate Shark Teeth - When it comes to stocking fillers I always try and add a chocolate treat in there and these Chocolate shark teeth are a great novelty treat idea! Made from fine milk chocolate and shaped just like little shark teeth these are a perfect stocking filler. They are also suitable for vegetarians too. These are priced at just £3.99 and are available at Lakeland.

4. Shadow Puppets Set - Ever since James went on camp with his scouting group he has loved making shadow puppets (they were doing them on the sides of their tents!). So when I came across this shadow puppet kit from Lakeland I knew it would be a big hit. The kit comes complete with a monster shaped torch, alien/monster silhouettes and even a play script to get you started on your creepy stories to go with your shadow puppets! Everything for the whole family to get involed in making your very own shadow puppet tales. The kit is priced at £9.99 and is available at Lakeland.

5 & 6. Muddy Puddles Lottie and Kite Flyer Finn - Lottie and Finn are the perfect dolls for your child if your are looking for a more natural and realistic version of dolls. These dolls are great and both James and Evelyn love them! As a mum I love that they are a realistic body shape, doing realistic activities and dressed in clothes both my children can relate too, they are great role model dolls! The dolls are not fiddly at all and its great that clothes can be shared between all Lottie/Finn dolls as one size fits all meaning you won't have to spend loads of extra money on clothes for each doll. Both Lottie and Finn are priced at £16.99 each and are available from the Lottie website.

7. Stunt Buggy KitWith this kit you can build your very own little electric buggy that can peform great stunts and wheelies! The kit is aimed at children aged 8+ but my almost 7 year old really enjoyed this too. It is easy to construct with no glue needed you simply fit together the interlocking printed thick card pieces, add the electrical and mechanical components, then have fun with your Buggy. James has had loads of fun with this and he was so amazed at seeing something he built actually doing stunts. This is such a great gift idea and priced at £9.99 its really good value for money too! Available from Interplay

8. Tin Robot Counting Money Box - This vintage style classic robot money box looks great and offers the modern twist of a digital display. The robot will count your coins as you place them in and will display just how much you have saved up on its digital display on his chest. I love this and its a great way to get your kids saving up their pocket money too! This is priced at £12.99 and is available from Lakeland.

What is at the top of your children's Christmas list this year?

xXx

**Some of the products featured in the gift guide I received samples of to feature here. All words and opinions are my own and prices correct at the time of posting.**