comedy

A Rare Date Night: Jimmy Carr Live

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Last Saturday Me and Andy went out together with no children for the first time this year. It was really strange saying bye to the kids and leaving them with someone other than their Daddy. We managed to rope my mum into watching them for a few hours while we went to watch a comedy show. We had bought the tickets way back in 2011 and actually almost turned up last year thanks to Andy misreading the dates luckily before getting a babysitter I checked the dates on the tickets to find we had to wait a whole year for the show! 



The show we went to see was Jimmy Carr: Gagging Order. I know Jimmy Carr is a pretty controversial comedian but he is one of my all time favourites. Before having kids I used to go to lots of comedy gigs at the Warwick arts centre and have watched and met many great comedians but I had never had the chance to see Jimmy live. First of all I was glad to be going to a comedy show as it meant we wouldn't have to think of non parent conversation and didn't want to go on a rare date and talk non stop about the kids for once. Luckily we got to just sit and watch and laugh. Something that just feels so normal of course I still had the usual worries, what if the kids are being naughty? what if my mum can't cope? luckily they were good as gold and slept the whole time we were gone.

The actual show was fantastic, I love Jimmy's sense of humour anyway and the venue was great. I had never been to the Birmingham Symphony Hall before but the views of the stage were perfect. There were the usual heckles during the show some good, some just plain awful always followed by a quick witted reply by Jimmy. The spoof sitcom in the show was hilarious and the audience members that helped were fantastic making it fun to watch. It was a genuinely fun night out and has made me think we need to do it more often. I will definitely be booking tickets for his next tour!

It was so nice to go out and be ourselves and not just Mummy and Daddy for a few hours. I think it is so easy to lose yourself when you become a parent. You focus so much on the little ones in your life that you tend to just forget about the little things that used to make you happy but sometimes its nice to find a balance and go out and enjoy the things you used to love doing before parenthood. After all they will grow up one day and what are you going to do with all your spare time then?!

I'd love to know is there anything you loved to do before having kids? Or what do you do when you get child free time (if you are lucky enough to get that chance)?

children reading

Review: Macmillan Books: Wake Up Do Lydia Lou!

Monday, August 26, 2013

We are big fans of Julia Donaldson in our house and have been ever since the first time we read The Gruffalo. We were sent out her latest book 'Wake up do Lydia Lou' by the lovely people at Macmillan books to see what Gracie thinks of it. Wake Up Do Lydia Lou is about a little girl who is sleeping and a ghost is trying to wake her up. When the ghost can't wake Lydia Lou up he gets some help from some friends to make lots of noise to try and wake her up.



To be perfectly honest the first time I read the book to Gracie I didn't love it. She listened to me reading it like she does every other book. It was then a few days later that we picked it up again and she began to remember the words to bits that by the end of it I realised it had just clicked. I think as we were such big fans of The Gruffalo I didn't give the book the chance to wow me. Now that it has clicked and it's all of a sudden grown on us, we are really enjoying reading the book most nights. Gracie remembers most of the animals noises and has learnt some that she never knew before. She also loves to repeat the line 'Wake up do Lydia Lou, wake from your dream and scream'

Gracie loves the pictures in the story she thinks they are funny and I think they go perfectly with the story. The illustrations are by Karen George, who also did the illustrations for Julia Donaldson's 'Freddie and the Fairy'.

Wake Up Do Lydia Lou is a brilliantly written, easy read for children and great for getting them involved in bedtime reading. I would definitely recommend this as a book for young children learning to read and recognise words.

You can read more about the book along with lots of other fantastic books on the website HERE.


Disclaimer
we were sent the book featured free of charge for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions are my own.

activity toys

Review: Little Bird Told Me: Softly Snail Activity Fun House

Monday, August 19, 2013

A while ago we were sent a lovely toy to review for Zach. Many of his toys have been old toys of Gracie's so was nice for him to have something brand new for himself. We were sent the Softly Snail Activity Fun House toy from Little Bird Told Me. Little Bird told me are a online retailer of great quality baby toys especially made to capture a childs imagination and encourage explorative play. From soft toys to rocking animals and fun playmats they have a large range to choose from.




The softly snail activity fun house came in an easy to open cardboard packaging meaning no stress trying to get the you out quickly and all the packaging was recyclable which is an added plus. First of all just looking at the toy I could see it was fantastic quality with lots of ways for a baby to play with it so they don't get bored to quick. softly snail has a house for a shell with a little caterpillar rattle hiding inside (or wiggly woo as he's been named in our house) the roof of the house opens to reveal wiggly woo and a little mirror on the roof flap. The door on the side of the house has a slot you can place a photo in for an added surprise. Her antennae even rattle and squeak! There are wooden wheels attached underneath the snail so she can be used as a pull along.


Zach loves playing with softly snail, she lives at the top of the toybox and is dragged around the front room on a daily basis. In fact she is played with by both kids. They especially like the caterpillar hiding inside. Only downside I would say is that she is slightly too heavy for the wheels so when the kids pull her too quickly she spends lots of time being dragged around on her side rather than upright! Not that that affects what the kids think of her. They just seem to love that there is so much going on with one toy which creates hours of fun.

I would definitely recommend the softly snail activity fun house or any other product from the Little Bird Told Me range. The rocking animals look fab and I wish I'd have seen the playmats back when Zach was small enough to use one! You can see the full range from Little Bird Told Me on their website. http://www.littlebirdtoldme.co.uk/shop/. You can also follow them on facebook or Twitter for the latest news and updates on all their products.

Disclaimer
We were sent this item free of charge for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions are my own.

Loola

Maxi Cosi Loola: Final Thoughts

Monday, August 12, 2013

As you may have seen in previous posts we have been reviewing the new improved Maxi Cosi Loola in our role as Maxi Cosi reporters.



First of all we unpacked the pushchair in our Loola unpacking party. It was easy to put together with only a few pieces to slot together and a clear instruction manual to guide me through the steps.


I love how it can be used in both forward facing and parent facing positions and Zach loves both. He loves to forward face at the park so he can see what's going on and he loves parent facing on shopping trips or long walks so he can chatter away at whoever is pushing him! It can also be used with selected carseats with maxi Cosi adapters, Zach has a cabriofix carseat and it slots in easy and is so convenient when popping out quickly so you can avoid carrying the carseat around. The Loola can fold with the seat unit attached in both forward facing and parent facing modes which I thought would be a problem as it is with many parent facing prams. It folds up to a lovely small size that fits in our small boot perfectly almost similar in size to a small stroller rather than a pushchair.

One of the problems I have heard about the previous Loola model is that it was difficult to get up curbs and felt quite heavy to lift. Although this is going by reading past reviews and asking friends who have experienced the older Loola pushchairs, I haven't actually tried one myself, I can happily say I have had no problems lifting up curbs in fact I find it very easy to handle in all situations. We've taken it to different spots across our city, a country walk the other side of town, lots of trips to local country parks and even a trip to the seaside. We've also used different forms of transportation using the Loola, we use it in the car regularly, I use the bus alot to travel into town and we took it on a train for a shopping trip to Birmingham. All of which I found it easy to use, easy to lift up onto buses and trains and easily fits in pushchair spaces and best of all the brakes work perfectly. They are the best brakes I've ever had on a pushchair actually.




I've found the new Loola to be almost perfect and it certainly the pushchair that really suits our lifestyle. The only improvement I would suggest is that the hood be improved as the little panel that you can see through, although handy when wanting to check on them, I've found when the sun is bright it can shine right in Zach's eyes. I have to place a blanket or jacket over the panel to avoid the glare which is easy enough but something I felt should be pointed out. Apart from that I can genuinely say I love the new Loola and I'll be using it as our main pushchair now as it is exactly what we need for getting around a busy city!

You can find out more about the new Loola and where to buy from at http://www.maxi-cosi.co.uk

Disclaimer
We were sent the Maxi Cosi Loola free of charge for the purpose of our reviews. All views and opinions are my own.



cbeebies

Mr Bloom and friends Big Day Out

Sunday, August 11, 2013

I'm so behind with my writing at the moment. Our one day together each week we've been trying to use as a family day out day. Last week it was the seaside but the week before that we attended a very special event, Mr Bloom and Friends' Big Day Out. We attended the event at Abbey Park in Leicester but there are still some events across the country that haven't taken place yet. The day out is completely free for everyone with lots of fun activities for children of different ages.



There is a Mr Bloom Live show which you can apply for free tickets for online on the BBC website. We missed the show we had tickets for as we were a few minutes late but queued up in the standby queue an hour later and got in to the next showing as well as everyone else in the queue. 

The show was fantastic and all the kids sat at the front on beanbags and you could see they were mesmerised by him. He has such a great stage presence that makes the kids love him. Of course the veggies were there too so everyone got to sing along to the 'meet the veggies' song and the 'night night veggies' sing at the end. Gracie loved the show but was scared of Julian the wriggly worm! Unfortunately the kids couldn't meet Mr Bloom which I know Gracie would have loved but he must have been busy with so many shows over the whole weekend!


After the show we had a walk around all the stalls looking at all the activities and Gracie joined in with as many as she could, she caught some ducks in the paddling pool with a net, she decorated a plant pot and was given a plant to look after in it, she did some colouring and got  some pinecones from the forestry commission stand, she played with a hula hoop and other outdoor toys in the big inflatable area and her favourite part of the whole day was watching Rastamouse on the main stage singing and dancing with the easy crew. We all had a good dance along with Rastamouse before going home. 

It was a lovely day, the sun was shining and didn't cost us anything. The only money we spent was on drinks and food as we only bought packed lunch for the kids. I would really recommend you check the BBC events webpage to see if he is coming to a venue near you! Or you can even sign up to the mailing list choosing what type of events you would like to hear about so you get the information straight to your inbox. The BBC run so many great free events and shows to look out for.


Review: Mike The Knight: Be A Knight, Do It Right!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

As most people know Gracie is a huge Mike The Knight fan and had lots of fun meeting him at Warwick Castle which has made her even more excited when she see's him on the telly! We were sent the latest Mike The Knight DVD for her to review and as you can probably guess it went down very well!





If you don't know who Mike the Knight is, he is a young knight in training in the Kingdom of Glendragon. His father the King Is away exploring faraway lands so his mother the Queen Has put Mike in charge of protecting the kingdom. Mike is always helping others although he tends to make a lot of bad decisions which he eventually corrects with the help of his friends. There is Sparkie and Squirt, the friendly dragons, Galahad the trusty steed and Evie, Mikes sister who is a wizard in training. Mike the Knight can currently be seen aired on children's channel CBeebies.

In this brand-new DVDMike sets out to be the best knight he can be as he attempts the mighty challenge of winning three trophies in one day. Mike is confident he can triumph at the games, but when his dragon friends win instead, the knight-in-training tries to meddle with the rules! Mike soon realises that winning is not the most important thing after all when his friends are left unhappyAided by his rallying cry ‘be a Knight, do it right’, Mike soon learns to play fair and, with a little chivalry, discovers a surprise reward that is more knightly than any other!

Well now that you know a little about Mike the Knight and friends, I can tell you just how much we enjoyed it. I love how Mike the Knight really helps with a child's imagination, something I seen many examples of at Warwick Castle with many children pretending to be Mike or Evie. It also teaches children valuable lessons which I think are important for them to see examples of from a small age such as you can't win all the time. Mike the Knight is a programme I am very happy for my kids to watch and the DVD has gone down a treat with them both. 

The DVD contains seven episodes and runs for approximately 84 minutes. It is available to buy NOW at all good retailers and www.amazon.co.uk



For more information you can visit www.miketheknight.com
Like Mike the Knight on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/miketheknightofficial
Follow Mike the Knight on Twitter https://twitter.com/MiketheKnightUK


Disclaimer
We were sent the 'Mike the Knight: Be a Knight, Do it right' DVD free of charge for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions are my own.

Maxi Cosi Loola: A Trip Across Town

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

This weeks Maxi Cosi reporters task looks more at the performance of the new Maxi Cosi Loola. The task itself was for us to once again travel across town, picking a destination at the other side of the city documenting our journey and how the Loola copes with the different terrains. For this weeks task I chose to go somewhere totally different to where I would usually go, taking the car out into the beautiful countryside that surrounds our city and where I haven't actually been since I was a kid myself. I thought it would be a perfect place to go for a nice walk and really test out the Loola on a different terrain.


First of all we found it so easy to fold up the pushchair and stick it in the boot of the car. We didn't even have to remove the blankets, coats and beach toys out the boot from our trip to the seaside at the weekend. Of all the pushchairs we've had this one is the easiest to manouvre in and out of the boot of our little old Fiesta. We have plenty of room to fit bags of stuff around it if needed saving space inside the car free from clutter.
We took a drive to the outskirts of Coventry to Baginton where we found a nice little pub with lots of parking and a kids outdoor play area which was the perfect place to stop before we started our walk. We sat in the sun with some cold drinks letting Gracie play whilst Zach watched her from his comfy seat in the Loola. When Gracie got bored we left Daddy sitting down while we took Zach to explore in a little field with long grass and rabbit holes. I struggled at first getting the pushchair over a small ditch into the field but once in the field we had a good walk around searching for animals in the grass (we didn't find any). The loola didn't struggle at all getting through the long grass or going over the bumpy uneven ground.


Next we left the field and went in search of some horses although Gracie is terrified of them apparantly we were taking Zach to see them. We walked in the opposite direction to the pub along the country lanes on the small narrow footpaths. Again, the Loola was great for riding across the uneven ground from the neglected roads to the pedestrian walkways. We eventually came to the end of the paths and decided to stop to avoid walking in the road with the kids. As we stopped we noticed a lady leaving a field riding a horse and she saw Gracie looked a bit scared so encouraged her over with Daddy nicely and she got right up close without crying! Apparantly he was scared of pushchairs though so Zach had to keep his distance but it meant not only did we complete our task of trying out the Loola on a totally different and unfamiliar terrain but we managed to get help with one of Gracie's biggest fears! I would say that this task has definitely been a success.



So now we know the Loola can tackle long grassy fields, uneven bumpy roads and narrow footpaths all with no problem. Oh and our trip to the beach sunday proved it wasn't too bad on the beach. Of course it was still not easy to drag along through the pebbles and sand but it was much easier than our previous pushchairs all I had to do was lock the front wheels to help keep it going in a straight-ish line.


Disclaimer
We were sent the Maxi Cosi Loola free of charge for the purpose of our reviews. All opinions are my own.

beach

Money Supermarket Road Trip

Monday, August 05, 2013

Once again Money Supermarket have challenged a selection of bloggers on another campaign to show you all how far you can stretch your money. This challenge is to go on a road trip somewhere relatively local to where we live, with a fuel budget of £50. The aim of this challenge is to show everyone that there are fantastic days out and road trips to be had in the UK right on our own doorsteps.




We thought really hard about where we would go on our road trip and came up with the idea of taking the kiddies to the seaside. We haven't been to the beach since Gracie was a baby so thought we would keep it as a surprise until we got there! We had planned to go to Weston Super-mare but this morning my weather app told me Weston and the surrounding areas had miserable weather! a quick google search helped me to find a sunny alternative and off we went on our road trip to Southend on Sea.

Fortunately it worked out well Gracie slept a lot of the way and so did Zach so we got a nice peaceful drive. We got to see the beautiful scenery of the British countryside which I absolutely love and we got to have adult conversation with no distractions. Considering it has been a sunny Sunday in the south east we didn't hit any traffic and arrived in Southend at 2.30pm. Just before the beach was in view Andy picked Gracie up and I told her we were at the seaside and she was so happy then as soon as we turned the corner and saw the view, I will never forget the excitement on her face! We had a lovely day. We spent a few hours on the beach building sandcastles and had a quick paddle in the sea, it was Zach's first time at the seaside and he loved the water but Gracie wasn't impressed at the pebbled beach it hurt her feet so we had a picnic and hit the arcades and amusements for a few hours. Before we knew it it was 8pm and we still had a 2hr15min drive home so we headed off. 



Our road trip isn't over yet I'm actually blogging whilst in the car (not driving I must add)I'm currently writing whilst listening to Gracie's renditions of the latest hits on the radio whilst Zach is asleep again. We've had such a fun road trip and we put our £50 petrol in and haven't had to refill to come home and just had to buy ice cream, a bucket and spade and lots of 2ps in the arcade I would say we've spent an extra £15-£20 altogether and none of that was on necessities it was just some extra treats to make the day more special. 

We've had a fun road trip. Not only has it been a cheap day out but we have gained memories we will cherish forever. If you live close to the seaside you can have a fun day out similar to ours for even less. There are so many free or cheap places to visit in the UK whether it be beaches, parks, historical sites there is something for everyone! 

This trip has certainly shown us we have a nice family day out without spending a fortune and that with a full tank of petrol we can go wherever we want.

You can read more about the challenge and the terms and conditions here http://www.moneysupermarket.com/car-insurance/competitions/50-pound-road-trip-challenge/

Disclaimer
This is our entry for the money supermarket Road trip challenge. We received £50 to be used to fill our car with petrol for the challenge. All views and opinions are my own.

changing bag

Lin & Leo Challenge Four: Sum It Up

Monday, August 05, 2013


I am so sad that our time as Lin & Leo official testers is almost over. It has been great working with them. I really genuinely love my BabyBag thank goodness I get to keep it. The BabyBag is an amazing product and I am so glad I was given the opportunity to test it out. Now as you may have seen my other challenges, there was the family day out challenge where we got to see how it would cope with a whole days worth of essentials for all the family, the style it up challenge where we got to show it off with our favourite outfits and the me time challenge where we proved it was not just a BabyBag. As much fun as the other challenges one I feel this is the most important, this is where I give you my honest opinion on the bag as a whole so that if you choose to buy, you know what you are letting yourself in for! So here are my final thoughts on the BabyBag...

Style

Of course the bag itself looks more like a luxury handbag rather than a baby changing bag. This is one of my favourite things about the bag. It compliments any outfit whether your a stylish mummy or someone who chucks on whatever you find in the morning, I would say I am in the latter there! Ocassionally I dress up if I'm going somewhere nice but most mornings I stick on a pair of leggings and an old top if I'm lucky enough to get dressed. Even when I feel like I look awful the bag gives me a slight lift. You don't need to be the perfect yummy mummy to enjoy a beautiful bag.I also love that it has a removable shoulder strap to use if you choose to. It comes in so handy to hang on the pushchair if you either haven't got or have forgotten your buggy clips. Even the inside of the bag is stylish with the beautiful luxury lining and the matching foldable change mat. I find the bag looks great with any colour pushchair, I have a black one, a red one and a purple one I've tested it with and the colour doesnt clash with any! Plus of course you could choose from any of the other colours in the range.

Practicality
Obviously this is the most important bit. I have a toddler (2.5 years) and a baby (10 months) so we need to take a lot of essentials out with us everywhere we go. We always need nappies for both, wipes, change of clothes for the little one, a bottle, juice, snacks, toys, teethers and all sorts of other non essential objects seem to make their way inside at some point! I then tend to store all my stuff in there to save taking two bags out so often have; purse, keys, phone, camera and diary lurking in there somewhere. Now this is everyday stuff to me whether I go out for a few hours or all day I still take all of that stuff out, you can never be too prepared. The bag has inside pockets made with thick material making them feel cushioned and adds to the luxury. The pockets also make you feel like your items are being stored more securely too I tend to keep valuables in the pockets so I always know where they are without the need to rummage through everything constantly. There are also two bottle holder pockets one I use for a bottle, the other I store my business cards and a pen. Even with all the stuff I carry there is always extra room in the bag.

One of my favourite things is that once the kids are older and don't need as much I will still feel comfortable carrying around the BabyBag as a handbag although it is big a woman can always fill a handbag no problem and I never find it is too big when popping out alone. If I ever do feel I need to put it away for a little while it comes with a woven jacquard dust bag to keep it clean and safe when not in use.

There is only one possible improvement I can think of for the bag and that would be too add insulation into at least one of the bottle pockets to keep a bottle warm for a small baby. Apart from that I can't fault the bag. It has a larger than average price tag but it is fantastic value for money and I would definitely recommend to any expectant mothers looking for a nice luxury bag that is going to last for as long as you want it to. I wish that I had bought one back when Gracie was a baby rather than waste my money on cheap ones that look tatty after a few months.


 
 
 

 

The bag is available now in Red, Turquoise, Tan and Black and is also available to preorder in two new colours Chocolate Brown and the Limited edition Royal Blue to celebrate the birth of  William and Kates beautiful baby boy. All the bags cost £175 plus delivery and are available at http://www.linandleo.com/

Disclaimer
We were sent the BabyBag free if charge for the purpose of our reviews. All views and opinions are my own.







 

Instagram