Thursday, 24 April 2014

Hold that thought Milton!

This month as part of Parragon's Book Buddy Scheme we have been sent 'Hold that thought Milton' by Linda Ravin Lodding and illustrated by Ross Collins. I was very excited to receive the book as its such an interesting title and I love the image of Milton and Burp the frog on the front cover.

It is a comical story following a young boy, Milton, who has a lot on his mind. As hard as he tries, he struggles to get anyone to listen to him - and he has something very important to say! So when Milton loses his beloved frog, Burp, Milton takes matters into his own hands. I love Milton's questions in the book and his inquisitive mind like where he asks "Do all frogs have twenty-three warts like my frog burp?". Aunt Lulu's wedding has everyone in the story busy, too busy for Milton. Eventually when Burp goes missing he ends up starting to turn green, and his tongue goes all sticky until eventually, during the wedding he explodes. Finally everyone understands and Burp is found.

This book really had us laughing, its not often that we find a good children's book full of humor like this one. My three year old sat happily listening and enjoying it and behind us I could hear my Dad shifting so that he too could listen in. It was nice to have a book that was a little different to read and we have certainly enjoyed it. We like books that are quirky and if you do too, you will definitely like this. The content was a bit too old for my younger son, who is just two, but he enjoyed listening along all the same. We also enjoyed putting in all of the voices of the different characters and they way they tell Milton to "Hold that thought".

It is wonderfully illustrated as you can see from the pictures which both of my boys really liked. I always feel that books with such good story lines and great pictures will grow with us as my boys grow, and would be perfect for a young reader as well as a bedtime story for a younger child. We loved the quirky comical storyline that this book brings.

If you would like to buy Hold that thought Milton you can get it here: Hold that thought Milton.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

My classic family day out

Ugg Australia are asking bloggers what their classic family day out would be, so I put my thinking cap on, what would we love to do and how would we do it?

It takes us less than an hour into London from where we are (by train) and the thrill of going on a train there and back is exhilarating for two little boys with a train obsession. It's the perfect start to our day. Counting bridges that we journey under, spotting buildings, tractors and animals in the fields as we travel. The closer to London we get and the bridges become tunnels, long dark ones that excite my boys even more! Traveling my train is definitely my preference for the day as there is plenty to keep my two boys busy which they need as they just don't stop and they can stand up and stretch their legs too which makes it easier for us all.

It's lovely to have time just the four of us together; my husband, myself and our two boys who are two and three. Family time is so precious and we love every minute of it. With the business of life at the moment it is always nice to have a day where my husband and I let our hair down a bit and we get to relax with the boys. We love being hands on and regularly are seen with our rain coats on sliding down slides and getting stuck in. I like our boys to see us being practical and fun as well as parents and it helps us all to get into the spirit of the day.

As we arrive into Kings Cross the hugeness of it all is overwhelming and I can see my boy faces gasping in wonder, then we head for the tube. Different from the train with it's sliding doors and the warmth of being deep underground. The escalators that seem to go on forever are a world away from the countryside that we live in and I love being able to show the difference to our boys. They seem to absorb so much and want to learn all of the time, so on a day trip out I love their curiosity.

Going into London is a special treat and there is so much choice as to what to do from the zoo to shopping and plenty more. Our eldest son is just about to turn four and although not something we have done before I think he would just love the Natural History Museum in London with its gigantic diplodocus skeleton in the main hallway. I as a child always loved it and remember going to see it vividly and with fond memories and I would like my children to experience the same excitement I did. With Andy's Dinosaur Adventures being based from there it has spiked an interest from my eldest and they have so much more than just dinosaurs. There is something about seeing dinosaur skeletons and learning about them that you can do over and over again. With a day trip like this with little ones it's nice to be able to do the visual element of the day and leave more for when they get bigger so you can come back again. Its free entry (it only costs for temporary exhibitions) which I was surprised and also relieved about, when it costs a lot I always put more pressure on us to see and do everything so its nice not to have that, and to know we can go around at our own pace. They have lots of ideas on the Natural history museum website with things to do including the Explorer backpack aimed at under 7's where you get a safari hat and binoculars as well as lots of things to find and explore. There is also an earth lab where you can check out fossils (one of my son's favourite things), the dino gallery full of dinosaurs, mammals - I just can't wait!

This is the diplodocus! 
Somewhere in our day we have to have a hot chocolate with marshmallows, it's become family tradition and one I like to keep in as everyone gets excited about it. Lots of coffee shops will do a small kids version thats not to hot but made with steamed milk the same and just as delicious, my boys lap it up.

Finally we would grab some food whilst we are out. As a family we love wagamama as the food is great and they serve quickly. Plus what kid doesn't love chopsticks? It feels like a special treat.

On our feet I would choose the Ugg Australia Toddlers Perrin £40.00 because they look so very comfortable with their soft butter leather, they have durable soles and I love that they come in navy and brownstone so each of my boys could have a different colour. When your on your feet all day as an explorer its important that you wear the right shoes! Both boys usually wear casual clothes and these would fit really well with their style.

It's a big day and I am thankful that the train ride home gives plenty to see and lots to talk about from the day we have had. For me the important part is that we have all had fun and all been together as a family, it wouldn't matter how big or how small our adventures had been as long as we were all together. What activities do you and your family like to do on your classic days out?

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Weekend Box review

A few weeks ago we were sent a Weekend Box to try out but due to moving house into temporary accommodation we have only just got around to trying it out and playing with it. My son who is 3 nearly 4 was pretty excited about the box which comes with 4 different activities to be completed; heathy, green and creative activities for you to cook, make, explore. The boxes are the right size to fit through your letterbox so you don't have to be in when it's delivered and you don't have to pay for postage. It is also really excited to come home from school and find one sitting on the mat waiting for you!

The first activity my son wanted to do was the Make which came with an instruction card and a kit with all the craft materials in it (every kit comes with instructions and a bag full of things you will need). With Sammy the squirrel as our instruction guide we set about making the rocking spring bird. As my son is on the younger side I needed to sit and help him but a six year old would have been able to sit and work on their own reading and following the easy instructions given. Everything we needed was in our kit except for scissors and the plate that we needed to draw around. It allocated 20 minutes for making and we did have to leave the powder paint to dry but the timings were about right. I liked the timings as it meant I could help him choose an activity that fitted the gap we had before lunch. We also had most of the materials in our own craft supplies to make a few rocking birds at a later stage which is always nice to know you have an activity you can call upon on another rainy day.

The next activity we competed was the Sound explorers activities with Oswald the owl which taught us all about sounds, emotions and funny faces. My son was not as interested in this bit of the activity as I thought he might be as he was distracted by the straws that come in the make a robot voice box kit. The make a robot voice box bit was definitely my favourite of all of the activities as the activity sheet gave us a link to this fantastic how to science YouTube video which you can find here: (or its below) it's definitely worth a view! We managed to get the straw to work as a reed but we did struggle a bit with the robot voice, I decided it would be something my brother would be able to help us with over Easter. In the video they do say that it can take a bit of time to get the combination of the reed and the balloon right. We really enjoyed this activity and the beauty of these boxes is that there is something for everyone in them!

This is Part 1 Make a Robot Voice Talk Box by science toy maker!

With every activity you get a sticker once you have completed it which is a great way to track what you have done. We have put the Green pancakes with Wooster the rabbit aside as it's the cooking activity. Due to us being in temporary accommodation right now we didn't quite get around to this but the green pancakes look very tasty they came with a special spice mix.

Finally we completed the Pot O'Gold game with Hattie the hedgehog which my son really enjoyed and has played with on several occasions since we first made it. We created a rainbow over a beaker with our pipe cleaners then we took it in turns (and my son also played by himself) to toss the gold coins into the pot. This activity kept him busy for a really long time and he liked the independence of being able to complete it without my help.

After playing with the game lots my son decided to use the pipe cleaners to make a caterpillar as an extra thing. It's always nice when activities keep getting reinvented! 

We really have enjoyed completing this. A slightly older child who could read independently would get the most benefit from this box as with my son being do young I still had to sit with him but I can picture him in 2 years time sitting on his own quietly working on his activities as much as he could. The usual cost of the box is £7.50 per box but you can try your first box for FREE, yes for free, even the postage too if you use this code HANNAH150 here: You can also get a 3, 6 or 12 month gift subscription which would be great for a niece or nephew as a little surprise every two weeks. You can also add a sibling box on for £4.00 as well if you need to have two or more. I also like that you don't have to subscribe but you can do a one off box every now and then for a treat. Perfect perhaps to keep little hands busy in the Easter holidays?

We have very much enjoyed making our weekend box activities and although at £7.50 I won't be buying one every two weeks, I think they are great with such a wide range of activities in them and they would be great and special treat every now. I definitely recommend that you try your first box for free using the code above and try them out for yourself. 

We were sent a box for free so that we could review it but all if the opinions are my own.