Friday, 23 October 2015

The Wonder Garden

I was absolutely thrilled to be asked to review one of the Wide Eyed Editions books and intrigued to see what the chosen book; The Wonder Garden was about.

As I opened the parcel I was taken aback by the beautiful book I had received. Just the cover looked absolutely stunning, full of colour and beautiful pictures. With the caption 'Wander through 5 habitats to discover 80 amazing animals' giving me some idea of what I would find inside.

The book takes you on a journey where you can discover different environments and learn about the plants and animals that populate these habitats. Featuring the Amazon, Great Barrier Reef, Chihuahuan Desert, the Black Forest and the Himalayas it truly opens your eyes and your mind to the diverse nature in our world.

 My little girl is a bit young to really appreciate the quality and detail (just coming up to 4 years old) although she enjoyed looking through the pictures and identifying the different animals. But I can absolutely see her loving this as she gets older and starts to really take an interest in animals or different parts of the world. And certainly this could be used to help with school projects from primary through secondary. 
The illustrations are so beautiful and the bright neon colours make it really eye catching and keep your interest, making you want to read about all the different things on each page. 

The facts are spread out across the pages so they are nice and short and easy to read, without complex language or too many words. Although I think children upward of 7 would start to understand and learn from them.

I'm pleased it's a hard back book as this is certainly one that will stay with us for years to come and be used by all of us.

I have really enjoyed reading through this book and have learnt so much myself, I look forward to sharing it with my little treasures.

I was sent a complimentary copy of The Wonder Garden by Kristjana S Williams and written by Jenny Broom for review purposes. All views and opinions are my own

Monday, 31 August 2015

Losing my dad

This weekend marks three years since I lost my dad. It's still pretty tough and I still think about him everyday, I'm sure I always will but it's easier to remember the good times this year and not focus on the sadness so much.

Dad was taken too early at only 62, losing his third battle with cancer. He'd managed to fight both kidney and stomach cancer but it came for a third attempt into his bones and although he was up for fighting it all the way, it had progressed too far by the time we found out. Within two weeks he was gone. Something which has both angered me and comforted me.......
why did it happen so quickly?
I'm so glad it wasn't long and drawn out
How did it progress so far without us knowing?
At least he wasn't in a lot of pain for months

It's a really emotional and difficult thing to deal with when you lose someone so close to you so quickly. I will never forget asking the nurses to be honest with us even if that meant not telling my dad, as he didn't want to know. And them saying 'well, we think it will be weeks rather than months'. Just that one sentence gave us so much hope and happiness that we would actually have a few weeks with my dad. And then four days later we were told we probably had a couple of days at best......and the next day he passed away.

I cannot describe how devastating it is to hear something like that, how hard it is to watch your father become a completely different person and how empty it feels losing a parent. Even now I immediately have tears in my eyes remembering all these things.

My dad was the person I always called upon when my car broke down or I went out and forgot to take my keys or I didn't know how to get somewhere or I needed something fixing in my flat, no matter what was wrong, dad would know what to do. And he always came along, complaining and yet loving it that I'd called at the same time and would always say "what would you do without your dad, hey?!". But I didn't think I'd have to worry about that quite so soon.

He was such a kind and caring man, always looking out for others and making people laugh. He still had his Italian accent which made playing Boggle-his favourite game!-very interesting as he misspelt words and invented his own but always adamant he was right and made us check the dictionary to be sure!! He loved Only Fools and Horses and we still think of him every time we watch an episode.

There's lots of things he's already missed, especially with my children but it's nice to remember the good times and start to move forward from the sadness. I know he is looking down on us and is proud of what we've achieved. And he definitely has a part to play when my little ones are being cheeky/funny!

Enjoy every moment you have with those around you, none of us know when our time is up but we can all choose to make the most of our time here xx

Monday, 24 August 2015

Charity Shop Toys

Today saw the second day of torrential rain....I think summer may well be over :( .....and another day trying to amuse the kids indoors.

So having done all the craft we could, visited family and played in the park (in the rain! so good!) it was time to head back for a few hours at home. Normally this would be fine but after a week of teething and sleepless nights I wasn't looking forward to entertaining two tired children.

If only they had some new toys to get excited about.

With no summer birthdays in our household the kids toys have pretty much been the same since Christmas. But as I'm now in the last part of my maternity leave and on 'no pay' a trip to a toy shop was definitely not an option!!

So I decided to pull into one of the many local charity shops on the way home to see what I could find.

And I found a couple of great toys for next to nothing!

 Bought for £1!

Bought for £1.50!

I know some people who wouldn't dream of popping into a charity shop for anything, let alone toys for their kids but I don't see why.
With the most popular toys remaining roughly the same year after year I've found some absolute gems. I remember buying something for my little girl once for £5 and walking past the window of a well known high street mother and baby store the next week and seeing the same toy for £25!
Yes ok, mine had been used by somebody else but does that matter? As long as it's clean and working I'm happy to take it home, give it a good scrub then sit and play with my happy little girl for hours. And save myself a small fortune!

And of course alongside giving your kids a little treat you're also giving something to a great cause. Even better!

So if you've never looked before I urge you to give it a shot. Whether money is a bit tight or not, the rainy days will soon be here to stay and it might be nice to have a couple of new things tucked away somewhere for that moment you're pulling your hair out!!!

Have you bought toys from a charity shop before?
Has anyone else found any gems?
I'd love to hear from you, leave me a comment below xx
reflections from me
what katy said

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Paper Free Painting

My little girl absolutely loves painting and I love doing it with her, I don't even mind getting a bit messy! But sometimes it's nice not to have sheets and sheets of wet pictures drying all over the flat. So this week we decided to try some paper free painting!

As we live by the beach the easiest thing to use is pebbles. So we spent some lovely time together collecting stones of all different colours and sizes, which was so nice, seeing her all excited running around the beach. She would have collected hundreds if I'd let her! But we managed to keep it to a small bagful and went home buzzing with ideas.

The beauty of doing this is that the little ones can let their imaginations run wild and create little animals or jewels, whatever they picture in their heads and there really isn't much mess.
All you need is some paint!

If you want to be a bit more adventurous, which my little one did of course, you could also get some glue and different things to stick onto the stones.

Gorgeous girl decided she would make lots of shiny presents to give to her teachers at nursery and different members of the family.

And here are our finished products:

Can you spot which one grandad did?!!! ha!

We loved doing this activity and will definitely be doing it again. It's great for getting everyone involved and is a really fun way of passing some time.
And everybody loved their presents!

Have you tried paper free painting? What objects did you use?
I'd love to read your comments xx
what katy said

Sunday, 2 August 2015

We ❤️ England!

We recently had my cousins to stay with us, from Italy.....two 16 year old twin girls!! We were pretty worried about what they might get up to while they were living it up in Brighton for three weeks, as they are from a very small village in Italy but thankfully they are very good girls.

Their stay also gave me a little insight into what it might be like when my two little treasures turn into teenagers! Hopefully they will be as well behaved as my cousins-I doubt that very much!- but they will definitely eat LOADS of food, spend every spare minute on their phones and cost us an absolute fortune! Maybe toddler years aren't so bad after all!!

So I thought it would be interesting to see what my family and also what two teenagers thought about England and their time here.
*M-Marta, S-Sylvia

1- What is your favourite thing about England?
S- When I look at the sea and the beach, the different sunrises and sunsets
M- I like all of the different villages

2- What don't you like?
Both- The weather! If it was like Italy it would be beautiful 

3- What do you think of English food?
Both- very nice, we really like it. Fish and chips! Hamburgers, cupcakes, cheesecake, tapas
......I didn't have the heart to tell them most of what they liked wasn't actually English hee! But at least they liked trying new things.

4- Do you want to stay longer?
Both- Yes
Me- Why?
S- We like the big city. We come from a small village so we like it being different and there's a lot of people and shops
M- Even when we landed it looked beautiful, seeing all the countryside. And in the town there's all the little old streets

5- What do you think of English people?
Both- Nice, gentle, kind
M- When you bump into each other they always apologise, it's not like that in Italy
S- Yes, even if it's not their fault they still apologise
(Very true!)

6- What about English houses?
S- They're nice, different. I like all the different colours, some small and some big.
M- I prefer the modern houses but they need a big balcony or a terrace to eat outside!

7- Is it more expensive here or in Italy?
M-No! In Italy! The food and toiletries are much cheaper here.
S- But the clothes are more expensive
M- Yes but here you have much better discounts or offers like buy one get one free. So overall it is cheaper here

8- Is the fashion/style the same?
M- No, very different than our area
S- Here you can be different from everyone else and no one will say anything but in our village or town everyone will criticise you

9- Did you learn more English whilst going to school here or by speaking to people?
Both- By speaking to people
S-School is good as you talk a lot and always in English but is basic
M- It makes more sense to you when you use it in normal conversation with people

10- So finally, would you come back?
Both- Yes!! We will really miss it!

So there you have it, England, in this case Brighton, is a great place to be and I couldn't agree more! Although I will still be holidaying in beautiful Italy with the glorious sunshine and delicious food for as long as I can! 😘

Running in Lavender

Sunday, 19 July 2015

5 fun ways to enjoy bad weather

It can be really hard to entertain kids when the weather is bad and the last thing you want is a bored toddler on your hands!

So if you're stuck for things to do why not try these 5 easy ideas, which are sure to put a smile on your little one's face!

1- Go to the park. Yep, you read that right! When do you normally go to the park? When the sun is shining and it's heaving with other kids. So give it a try on a rainy or chilly day and you'll find an almost empty park with wet sand for making perfect sand castles! 

2- Go jumping in some puddles, the bigger the better! This is a sure fire way to make your little one your best friend. Yes you'll get wet but wrap up and put on your waterproofs and it'll be worth every minute. Trust me, letting go of your inhibitions and becoming a big kid for a while will be the best fun you've had in ages!!

3- Get creative. Raid your cupboards and recycling for plastic boxes, empty toilet rolls, milk bottles, whatever you can find and let your imaginations take over. You'll be making birthday cakes for aliens before you know it!

4- Get messy! I know this is something most parents dread but it is also a real saviour when you're stuck indoors. Suck it up, cover what you need to and get the paints out! Or even the play doh if you're feeling really brave!!

5- Make a den. This is so easy and will create hours of fun. Drape blankets and duvets over your chairs and let your little one bring their friends along for a campfire sing song and cook this I mean bring their teddies/dollies and toy kitchen equipment into the den! Tidying up is easy and you get to sit down for a while, what could be better!

So bring out the big kid in you and enjoy doing the things you probably loved as a child! Just make sure you have your camera handy to capture those special moments.

Reflections From Me
The Twinkle Diaries
Mums' Days

Monday, 13 July 2015

What a Week!

I have to start this post by apologising for not managing to get my usual weekly post out last week. It has been a bit manic lately as we've got family staying with us from Italy, which is lovely but wow I didn't realise how little time I'd have to myself! So stupidly I didn't schedule any posts to go out thinking I'd write as I go...BIG mistake!

Tonight I'm stealing some time to write a couple of posts so I don't disappear off the radar completely and hopefully I'll be able to visit some of my fave linky's this week and see what everyone else has been doing too. One step at a time!! ha!

Things started off well last week but quickly progressed into one of the most testing weeks in my parenting life!!
Saturday was spent enjoying the beautiful sunshine with friends and Sunday saw the kids go off for a sleepover while hubby and I went to see Madness! They were brilliant!
So we were all on top form and feeling happy with the world.

Monday was much the same, picking the kids up and going to the beach for the afternoon, making the most of daddy being off work. We even had fish and chips as a family for the first time - due to gorgeous girl's allergies - on our balcony to finish off! Bliss!

We were all pretty exhausted from three full days of fun and throughout it all baby boy was teething, poor little man. So I probably should have known we might be in for a bit of a disturbed night.
If only I could see into the future so I could have gone to bed at 8pm and got a couple of hours in before the night that came!

The little treasures slept beautifully while we washed the dishes and put the clean clothes away.
And like clockwork, as the clock struck 10pm they woke up. Baby boy first, followed by our gorgeous girl a few minutes later. And so it began......
Our poor little man was up every 15 minutes throughout the whole night, with only cuddles helping to settle him again and eventually coming into our bed at 5am. With gorgeous girl up three times inbetween, probably hearing her baby brother,  all in all very little sleep had by everyone.

Tuesday I just had baby boy so although we were busy it didn't feel too manic. But due to the previous night, as soon as we all returned home gorgeous girl started misbehaving and ended up going to bed without a story. I hate it when nights like that happen but sometimes they just need to get as much sleep as possible, so instead of dragging out the evening and the telling off, I just have to suck up the guilt and tuck her into bed.
She was out like a light. Poor little man was still pretty unsettled but managed a bit more sleep.

Wednesday I woke up after fasting since 9pm the night before for some blood tests to try and see if there is any reason for feeling completely exhausted and rundown lately, or if infact it is just due to having two small children and completely normal. (which, my results showed it's the latter so I better get used to it!)
So with energy low it was a caffeine and supermarket day, not much fun but just about all I could manage!
That evening during bathtime it all kicked off. Whilst trying to settle little one I could hear gorgeous girl and hubby bickering, then arguing, then full on shouting from the bathroom, with our girl refusing to do anything she was asked! The lack of sleep had finally broken us and we snapped, with everyone shouting and screaming. The one thing we always said we'd never do. It was literally for a matter of seconds and before we knew it there were tears and cuddles, with everyone feeling terrible. Something we hope never to repeat but sleep deprivation is an evil thing!

Thursday was non stop from the second we got up, cleaning the place from top to bottom, washing and putting everything away. Partly because everything had got way behind but also because Friday would see the arrival of some family from Italy! Very exciting! And also enough to turn your house upside down! Little man is in with us for 3 weeks, along with all of his toys and clothes and nappies and anything else we might need and the spare room is now looking like a proper guest room, with a few cute additions dotted around.
By the end of the day I was shattered but was really chuffed with what I'd achieved, especially as I'd had both kids for part of the day!

Finally Friday arrived. The kids were doing better and we hadn't had anymore misbehaving, which was lovely. Hubby was extremely pleased it was almost the weekend after a very stressful three days at work and I was completely and utterly exhausted. All that was left to do was to pick the family up from the airport!
It's funny, no matter how much of a pain an airport pick up/drop off can be, I love it! Just going to the airport makes me feel like I'm going away and I love seeing everyone excited to go or wearing all their best tan outfits having just got back! So this part was busy but enjoyable, followed by lunch out and a surprise nursery pick up for my gorgeous girl, whose smile upon seeing the family, was worth every stressful moment this week.

I didn't honestly know how we'd make the weekend after the sleepless night and volcanic emotional explosion but somehow we did, you always do I guess. And once the weekend arrives it all seems a distant memory. Sometimes I need to cling onto that feeling and know that we'll be there again soon, I might have said the same thing a thousand times that day but we WILL get there and when we do, it'll be worth it!

I would love to hear how your week has been?
Have you ever felt like you've had the week from hell?
How do you cope when sleep deprivation kicks in?
I look forward to reading your comments, thanks for stopping by! xx

The Twinkle Diaries

Sunday, 28 June 2015

1 year of blogging

June was my 1st blogversary! To be honest with you, when I started this I definitely didn't think I would make it to a whole year, especially as it took me a whole month to figure out how to set up my blog page!

As I reflected on the year I almost didn't write a post about it becuase unlike so many others I didn't really feel like I'd achived much. I struggled with the IT, I had a baby so didn't blog for a bit, baby got really poorly so I didn't blog for quite a bit longer and it's only really been in the last 3 months that things have finally started to get going and I feel like I'm doing better.

But, I had to stop myself and get a reality check! Why did I start this blog? Certainly not because I had a burning passion to conquer everything IT related and not because I wanted to get lots of free stuff for reviews. The reason I started my blog was to speak to other people in the same boat, share my experiences and at the same time get confirmation I wasn't the only one having a bad day/dealing with a threenager!/who couldn't remember anything that happened yesterday courtesy of baby brain! (The list goes on!)
And share some of the great things I've found which have helped me along the way and hopefulluy find some more through other blogs.

So, once I really thought about it I realised I have actually achieved a lot!
Here are my biggest achievements so far.....and yes, that means I'm going to stick at it and see where the next year might take me :-)

~ As mentioned, actually setting up my blog! and my twitter and bloglovin account! I couldn't have done this without the brilliant Laura from LauraandBehold who gave me loads of great advice and links to help me get started and was my go to person in the big wide blogging world! Thank you!!
~ Getting the hang of social media! I was so out of touch which scared me, especially when I thought about how quickly my kids will get the hang of it. So I am going to keep learning and try really hard to help them stay safe using it in the future
~ Coming back after having baby boy...I honestly don't know where everyone finds the time with a newborn!
~ Running my first competition! I was so excited about this and can't wait to do some more
~ Winning my first competition! OK so this was more luck than anything else but still, if it hadn't been for blogging I never would have won our weekend away
~ Building my blog and twitter followers. I know it's not thousands but I remember so clearly when I started, saying to my husband "I wonder if I'll get to double figures" and now I'm over 400!
~ Writing reviews for some companies. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with a few companies and to get those emails asking me if I'd like to work with amazes me and gives me the biggest boost!
~ Seeing more and more people reading my blog and leaving so many lovely comments. This is what drives me to keep writing and I'm so happy people are enjoying reading it
~ Speaking to complete strangers and sharing what we have in common
~ Capturing some of the things my children have done and having somewhere to look back at it all. Hopefully, they will enjoy reading through it all and might even find it useful themselves one day!

Not a bad year after all, happy blogversary to me xx

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Wicked Uncle Toy Review

As both of our little one's birthdays are around Christmas time they tend to get all of their presents in one go and not much more throughout the year. So it was really nice when Wicked Uncle contacted me to see if I would be interested in doing a review for them. They are an online store selling children's presents and I was lucky enough to choose one for each of my little treasures.

I was really impressed when I first had a look at the website as it is split into gender and age. I noticed from some social media comments that some people haven't liked this but for me this makes shopping online much easier and saves looking through everything on the site. I also really liked the idea that you can add birthday reminders so you don't forget or miss any!

My little boy is 7 months old and although there were a few things I liked in the baby section I decided to choose something from the Age 1 section so that he could have it for longer and also I could see how my 3 and a half year old girl rated it.

This is the Tomy Activity Auto-shape sorter and costs £18.95. It's a good size, not too big and is nice and colourful. It not only has the shape sorting section but also a winding window which goes up and down, a steering wheel which makes a noise when you turn it and has a squeaky horn, a pretend key on a string and the whole thing can be pushed along the floor.

The only negative I found was the opening door, which unfortunately comes off very easily. This could just be a fault with this particular one and Wicked Uncle pride themselves on customer service so I wouldn't hesitate to contact them if I felt this was a problem.

All in all I really like this toy and my little girl instantly started playing with it, even getting her own little people to sit inside and go on car journeys. So I know my little boy will get a lot of use out of it when he is a bit older but for now he seems quite happy with the box!

Now for my little girl. I decided to let hubby have this choice.....forgetting that he is still a big kid! There were quite a few different things that he nearly chose but in the end it was the lure of a UFO, a lion and a mexican tune that sealed it!
Let me present the Mini Hornit; a light and sound accessory for bikes and scooters priced at £19.95.

This toy is a lot of fun! Within seconds of opening it my husband and daughter were trying out all 25 of the different sounds around our flat, probably driving the neighbours mad! Luckily there are three different sound settings so you can keep the noise to a minimum inside but the louder the better outside!

It's really neat and looks as though it would be too small to strap around the handle bars but is actually really easy to attach with stretchy straps.

It only took a couple of goes for our daughter to get the hang of scooting and pressing the bell at the same time. It also has a light on the front which can be changed from white to green, still or flashing.

My daughter - and my husband! - absolutely love this, infact so far everyone who has seen it has loved it! So much so, that some of our friends are already buying some for upcoming birthday presents.
This is definitely something that will be used a lot this summer and I recommend it for any child with a bike or scooter.

I will definitely be shopping with Wicked Uncle in the future and if you're looking for something a bit different for a present it's worth taking a look at their site.Click here for a quick peek!

*In return for this review I was sent a voucher to purchase some toys from Wicked Uncle. This remains an honest review and all opinions are my own.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

A note from mums to friends and family

Let us start by apologising for always being late. When we agree to meet at 10am what we actually mean is we will do our best to get there for 10.30 and when we turn up at 11am, it has been a tough morning! All we need is hugs and coffee :-)

Our friends; If we don't reply to your text message for a while it's not because we no longer want to be friends but either because we have momentarily turned into a climbing wall for our children, without a hands free option! Or baby brain has kicked in and unless we reply the second we read your message it will be erased from our memory for at least a week!

Husbands/partners- If by miracle of miracles we have managed to put on some make up and do our hair, please notice. This is a big accomplishment and far more exciting than doing the dishes!
But don't kid yourselves into thinking we might be slipping into something a bit more comfortable later ;-) ;-) ;-)

But more importantly, if you come home to find us in our joggers and food splattered clothes, with the sweet smell of sick in our hair.......STOP.......and tell us how beautiful we are. Give us a cuddle and make us feel special.
You never know, this might lead us to slip into something a bit more comfortable later! (After washing our hair of course)

Also, remember, when you walk in the door feeling exhausted from work it's still your time with the kids! Yep, you're taking over so we can have just half an hour to do whichever mundane task we have been looking forward to doing allday! (we might even have a shower!)

Our mum's; You are fantastic and you did a great job! Now, sit back and have a rest. We know we will make mistakes and do things differently to how you did but try not to jump in and tell us what to do. Instead, just watch and wait for us to try, knowing full well that we will come to you in the end for the advice we need.

Our children; We will have fun and we will fallout from time to time. We will learn together and laugh together, cry together and grow together. And we promise to capture it all by taking thousands of photos along the way!!
And then use them to completely embarrass you when you turn 18! Because we love you xx

Mami 2 Five
The Twinkle Diaries
The Dad Network