Friday, 30 October 2015

Fitness Inspiration

This photo is my #LumiaFitnessInspiration  because my son has so much energy and enthusiasm for being outdoors. Its that passion that sparks my interest to keep up, to stay fit, and to encourage us to be healthy through what we do together! I love it when I hear one of them say "shall we run together" and I see my love of running rubbing off into their lives. I feel so proud that we bike to school together when everyone else goes in the car, and I know that my son inspires me, which inspires other parents, who inspire their children and that way we keep the fitness sparks growing! So why not let us inspire you too!

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Everywhere Review

This month as part of the Parragon Book buddies scheme we have been reviewing Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Everywhere written by Smriti Prasadam-Halls and illustrated by Lorena Alvarez.

Our first impressions have been that we love all the pumpkins faces on the front as they look so friendly an the glitter on the cover too. We don't celebrate Halloween so Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Everywhere is a nice book which tells of the adventures of four little trick-or-treaters as they make their way to the pumpkin parade. It was a good introduction to what some of my boys friends will be doing tomorrow night.

My five year old very much enjoyed reading this book to his younger three old brother. The text is really easy to read and there isn't huge amounts of it per page. I was really excited that he wanted to read it instead of me as he often feels quite daunted when its not a school text book. It has a great rhyme to it which really helps when you read it and the illustrations are great and we particularly liked the pumpkins shaped as the spider, bat, cat and wolf.

Overall if you want a fun themed book then you will really enjoy Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Everywhere. We really enjoyed looking at it together and it also inspired us to carve our own pumpkin face too!

Disclaimer: I received this product from the publisher for free. However, they have not paid me for this review, and they do not exercise any editorial control over my review or anything else on this site.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Spot a Lot: Animals Jigsaw Review

This month as part of the Parragon book buddies scheme we have been sent Spot A Lot: Animals Jigsaw to review.

My first thoughts were that I really liked the box it all came in, not too big or too small, with a velcro tab to hold it all in, and so very easy for small fingers to open without destroying it. Many of our other jigsaw boxes have been destroyed due to their difficult entry process, so this was a good start. Inside the box there is a paperback book Spot a Lot Animals which my three and five year old were both keen to look inside. The book starts by explaining that there is trouble at the zoo today as all the animals have run away! Gibbons swinging and playing on the jungle gym, zebras camouflaged on the crosswalk, penguins keeping cool in the swimming pool. The idea is that you have to look very carefully as you help the zookeeper count and spot all the zoo runaways.

The book is lovely and the illustrations are really fun. My three year old had to work quite hard to spot some of the animals as they are small and each page has a lot of detail. My five year old was able to work more independently with the book finding and counting the animals as he went. There is a lot of detail on each page and this book kept them occupied for quite a while as we sought out the animals. I liked that it was tricky in places and it wasn't a quick or obvious find.

The jigsaw puzzle is double sized and you need to have read the book first in order to know how the puzzle fits together as it is one of the pages from the book. One side is in colour and the other is a black and white version that you can colour in yourself. Due to the jigsaw being shiny it was quite hard to decide which pens to use to colour it in and we had to wait for the pen to dry for quite a while. My kids were also frustrated that they smudged the colouring a bit. The jigsaw is a good size and my three year old enjoyed the challenge of putting it together but needed a bit of help from myself. My five year old was able to do it on his own.

Overall we have really enjoyed playing with the jigsaw and reading the book and spotting all of the animals. This would make a lovely gift for a child and as I said above the box is very accessible and would keep it all together nicely. It has been great to have something that has three different elements to it; the story, the jigsaw and colouring the jigsaw. I would recommend.

If you would like to buy your own copy of Spot a Lot: Animals Jigsaw it is available to buy from Smyths Toys.

Disclaimer: I received this product from the publisher for free. However, they have not paid me for this review, and they do not exercise any editorial control over my review or anything else on this site.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Doodle & Draw Spots, Stripes, Squiggles Review

This month as part of Parragon's book buddies scheme we were sent Doodle and Draw Spots, Stripes and Squiggles to review.

As soon as this book arrived my 4 year old got stuck straight in. He has never been big on drawing where he comes up with his own ideas but prefers more structured colouring and patterns so this book has been perfect for him. What I like about it is that its easy for my son to read the instructions himself as well as see on each page what he is being asked to do. On most pages you have to complete the patterns using stripes, swirls, circles to complete the pictures. My son started with the spiderweb below and enjoyed connecting the segments and adding spiders in. It has been great to see him putting the time and effort in to completing each page and it is great for pen control too all skills that children in their reception year need.

The book itself it very gender neutral which I like and the paper is very good quality and not that flimsy kind that you sometimes get. It is very sturdy and the pen doesn't show through. We have been taking this in our activity bag when we head out and about as it has hours and hours of fun in it and lots of variety. It has been really nice to find a book that is more than just a colouring book that can captivate my son and hold his concentration. The book also encourages counting and matching and has lots of learning opportunities throughout it.

Overall we have really enjoyed doodling in this book and learning all about patterns and we would recommend it as it has so much packed into it. It would also make a lovely gift for a birthday.

If you would like to buy your own copy you can find it here: Doodle and Draw Spots, Stripes and Squiggles.

Disclaimer: I received this product from the publisher for free. However, they have not paid me for this review, and they do not exercise any editorial control over my review or anything else on this site.

The Good Little Bad Little Pig Review

In February as part of Parragon's book buddies scheme we were sent The Good Little Bad Little Pig to review written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Loretta Schauer. 

This has to be one of my all time favourite books to read with my three year old.  In the story Peter wants a perfect little pig for a pet. Not a bad little pig, and not a good little pig. Peter wants a good little bad little pig. It is a really lovely little story and my son who is called Peter too was very captivated by it. It is really easy to read and for every bad thing the pig seems to do he also does a well behaved thing too which makes him a very lovable character. It reminded me a lot of what its like having children and the ups and downs you have with them.

The illustrations are fantastic and really capture the essence of the story in them. The pig looks so cute in the images and my son instantly wanted to read the story as soon as he saw the cover. I also like how they have captured the sounds that the pig makes like "Galump-gump gump gump gump" as when I make these pig noises it makes my son laugh a lot! 

If you would like to buy a copy of The Good Little Bad Little Pig you can find it here: The Good Little Bad Little Pig. At £5.99 I think the book is good value for money and would make a lovely gift. We have really enjoyed this months book and I would recommend. Margaret Wise Brown has written other books that we have reviewed previously so feel free to look at those too, some of our other favourites are: The Diggers, The Fish with the Deep Sea Smile.

Disclaimer: I received this product from the publisher for free. However, they have not paid me for this review, and they do not exercise any editorial control over my review or anything else on this site.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Glitterbelle Review

This month as part of Parragon's book buddies scheme we have been sent Glitterbelle: Me and You and Glitterbelle: Doodle, Dazzle, Create to review. Both books come from their new range all about Glitterbelle, a modern day princess illustrated by Harriet Muncaster.

My eldest son seems to be invited to a sea of children's parties at the moment and these two books would make a perfect glittery gift for one of the girls in his class. I love the purple glittery cover on both books and they look very inviting and exciting. Inside Glitterbelle: Doodle, Dazzle, create you are immediately introduced to Glitterbelle and her two very best friends Dazzlina and Angel. The book comes with a sparkly tin notepad on the front which is every girls dream to have. The book contains lots of activities and ideas that will get your imagination thinking from making your own garlands, perfect party smoothies to learning to dance like Angel. There is so much packed into this book and I think its good value for money because its packed full of exciting things to do.

The second book is Glitterbelle: Me and you which is smaller and has a glittery purple band that holds the diary together. Similar to the other book its full of activities and has lots of space to write down what you would wear to a party and your daydreams. I really liked the harder cover on this book as it means you can write in it without tearing the paper if you aren't working on a hard surface and I can picture it being carried around and dipped in and out of.

Overall this sparkly glittery book really caught my attention and would make a lovely present for a girl, particularly one that thinks she's a princess. Both books contain lots of variety in activities for making and creating and would keep someone busy for a long time. If you love glitter and sparkle then then these are the books for you and there are others in the series too to look out for.

Disclaimer: I received this product from the publisher for free. However, they have not paid me for this review, and they do not exercise any editorial control over my review or anything else on this site. 

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A Treasury of Christmas Stories and Songs Review

At the end of December we were sent a copy of A Treasury of Christmas Stories and Songs to review by Parragon as part of their book buddies scheme.

My first impression was 'wow' as the book is hard back and contains six Christmas stories; The Night before Christmas, The Nutcracker, The First Christmas, The Snow Queen, The Twelve Days of Christmas and A Letter to Santa. Interspersed throughout the book are 12 classic rhymes and carols: Hark The Herald Angels Sing, O Christmas Tree, Away in a Manger, We Wish you a Merry Christmas, Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls, The First Noel, Good King Wenceslas, We Three Kings, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Silent Night, O Come All Ye Faithful.

There is so much packed into this Treasury and I liked that The First Christmas was included as its so important to me that my children understand the real meaning of Christmas and where it all started from. The traditional carols that are throughout the book are simply put with just the first verse and chorus in most cases and bring your attention back to the importance of why we celebrate Christmas. My younger son has been less interested in this book as only two I think he will grow into it, however my four year old has been hooked. His all time favourite of the book is The Nutcracker and we both loved how the story had been brought to life with Clara and the Nutcracker. We laughed a lot as we sang The Twelve Days of Christmas together and the repetition really helped my son to pick up the words quickly. You can find out more about what we thought about The Night Before Christmas here when we reviewed it last December.

There is so very much packed into this treasury and we are still reading and enjoying it together as a family. I can see many hours ahead enjoying the magic of The Snow Queen and the love that Gerda has for Kay within the story. If you love Christmas and you want to share that magic with your children then this book would be perfect for you. The illustrations are wonderful throughout and add an additional element to this book that draws the reader in further. With every story and song the illustrations fit and capture perfectly. My son has been happy on several occasions whilst waiting for me to read to him to just sit and look at all the pictures.

This is a page from The Nutcracker
This would make a lovely gift and I would recommend if you are already thinking ahead to next year. If you want to buy a copy you can find it here on Amazon: A Treasury of Christmas Stories and Songs. At £12 I think its a good buy because you get so much inside it.

Don't tell anyone but despite Christmas seeming such a long time ago we are still enjoying the magic found within this book!

Disclaimer: We were sent a free copy of this book in order to provide an honest review. All of the opinions reflected in this post are my own.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Outdoor Adventures

My boys love nothing more than being outside and the adventures that come with it. There is something magical about exploring unknown woods, squelching through the mud and finding special things to tuck into your pocket as a reminder of your exploration. Over the winter holidays we took the opportunity to explore what was right on our doorstep. Having only moved into the area a few months ago we still have lots of untracked territory and I love that feeling of choosing as you go, and letting the kids take the lead, picking the path we will take.

I never really thought of myself as an outdoors person but its something that I have embraced over the last few years. A big part in my change in attitude has been the discovery of good kit. On our honeymoon my husband brought me a good pair of walking boots and a really good waterproof jacket and I haven't looked back. I learned that good gear keeps you dry and prepares you for adventure, wherever it takes you. When it comes to having kids in tow it has become evident to me that it is even more important that they have good kit too, as a soggy muddy cold child loses their spirit of adventure very quickly.

So we set our on our walk and everyone was ready to go when we realised my eldest son's wellies were still at school and crocs really don't cut it for outdoor adventures in the muddy frosty wet wood. He came home with very muddy school shoes, oops. As much as my easy solution would be to get him a second pair of wellies, and whilst wellies are great for puddles, I am not sure that they are they best option for big walks like the one we took. Explorers need a firm and well fitting boot and the Volcano Mid Texapore Boots seen below would be a much better option providing comfort as well as plenty of grip. They start at a size 8J and go to a 5.5 so with my small feet I could even get a pair to match! This is definitely something that I am going to invest in for him going forward, I never want to see his school shoes looking like that again.

We also made a mis calculation in expecting our 2 year old to walk and I regretted not taking the back carrier with us. I ended up carrying him in a shoulder ride after the first 10 minutes of walking. We have a LittleLife carrier similar to the one pictured which I love because of its adjustable straps. As I am only 5"2 we struggled to find a carrier that both my husband and I could both use, but especially me. Since we stumbled on our LittleLife carrier we haven't looked back. When my pushchair got a flat last term I used the carrier to get us to school with ease and I find it very comfortable. My head was clearly still dreaming about Christmas and other such things for us to forget it and my achy shoulders will remember next time.

We had a choice of several different footpaths and I loved hearing my boys negotiate between each other which way we were going to go. It was so refreshing to be outside too and both boys enjoyed finding sticks and using it to break the ice formed on puddles as well as listening for the crunch as they stepped onto the ice shattering it. We walked until my eldest got tired and wanted to head back, but it was nice to be outside spending time together as a family. I always want more of this time together naturally exploring, engaging curiosity without the natural time constraints of life. I heard my son saying to whoever was listening "It's a new year, a sunny day and the wind is gently blowing in the trees..."

So to get you started with your own adventures I have picked out my top picks of kids gear for you, to get you thinking about the things you might need as you explore outdoors:

Boys Outdoor Adventure

Get the gear: You can find all items featured at Cotswold Outdoor : 1. Boys Volcano Mid Texapore Boot £50, 2. Sprayway Junior Stretch Grip Glove in Black Spider £12, 3. LittleLife Cross Country S3 Child Carrier £140, 4. Boys Eagle Combi 3 in 1 Jacket £65, 5. Whistler Winter Jacket £79, 6. Kids Puddle Splash Suit £20, 7. Boys Android Tee £5, 8. Boys Sonic Tee in Jelly Bean £5, 9. Boys Masked Beanie £19.99, 10. Kids Furry Letter Long Sleeve £20. A lot of this gear also comes in adult sizes too and if not they have plenty of adult wear to choose from.

My two big musts for explorers big and small are footwear and waterproof jackets, you just can't scrimp on these, as seen above school shoes don't make the grade when it comes to mud. The boys sonic tee is quick drying with a wicking fabric which is perfect for keeping sweaty high energy adventurers dry and I am sure will become a crucial 'must have' item as they hit their teenage years. I love the brightness of the Whistler Winter Jacket and it would be perfect for skiing on the slopes as well as for wearing everyday on the way to school. One thing that caught my eye about it is that it has reflective strips on it, something that I would actively look for knowing that it often gets dark as we are walking home from school now.

I love the spider grip design on the gloves and these would be perfect for biking as well as picking things up as we explore. My boys like having warm hands but they get frustrated if they can't collect sticks and other treasures. Everyone loves a fun hat and my two year old picked out the masked beanie hat as his favourite. Finally my boys aren't big on jumpers but they do love a long sleeved top and having comfortable explorers is very important.

We love outdoor adventures and I can't wait to see what else we explore in 2015 and where our adventures will take us.

What winter adventures have you got planned this January?

Disclaimer - This is a sponsored post but all of the opinions expressed are my own.