House

Our New Home

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


As you may have noticed I have been away from my blog and social media for a few weeks. We got the keys to our new house at the end of May and it has been all action ever since. I have moved out of my hometown of Coventry to a village in South Derbyshire. It is so green and the kids have been out in the garden every single day since we moved. We actually happen to have part of the National Forest at the end of our garden which we are yet to explore as we have been so busy unpacking.

Today I got the internet back. I have no idea how I coped in the days before 24/7 internet access. I am so used to checking my emails every few hours and speaking to friends through social media. Up until today we actually only had DVD's to watch whilst waiting to get Netflix and Amazon Prime Video back up and running!

There is so much work to do on the house and I am so excited to work through all of the different projects. We are currently doing up the boys bedroom as it needed so much doing to it. Then we have a few bigger projects including getting the roof fixed and having the property rewired before we start decorating elsewhere. I, of course, took photographs of every room the day we got the keys so I can do before and after posts to look back on.

It is going to take some getting used to, living in the middle of nowhere. I am desperate to get myself on the road soon so I can get out and about with the kids whilst Sam is working. I have to say I am enjoying the quietness and being able to hear the birds outside all through the day. I am also feeling much safer and secure in this house which is great for my anxiety and my ability to sleep.

I am missing all of my friends though already! I have come to realise that I am a much more sociable person than I thought and I really enjoy the company of others and speaking to people over the age of 7. I definitely need to find me some local friends before I become completely insane. 

Over the next few months I will be sharing lots of updates and posts about the new house and the surrounding area. It is the start of a brand new adventure and I hope you will all enjoy reading about it. 

review

World Doll Day With Tiny Tears

Saturday, June 09, 2018


If you didn't already know, today is 'World Doll Day' and Elsie was sent the Tiny Tears Interactive Doll to celebrate. We are big fans of Tiny Tears already and Elsie has two other dolls from the range which she has received over the years. Most children at some point throughout childhood have been the proud owner of a doll of some kind. Dolls have even been dated back to as early as the Egyptian times where wooden dolls were found buried in Egyptian tombs. The strongest role models a child can have are those who nurture them such as parents, teachers, doctors, nurses etc. and so when it comes to role play they can mimic those they look up to by caring for their own babies or children. The stories they can create with a doll are limitless and it is fascinating seeing each child's unique way of playing with them.



Elsie is such a fiery character but put a baby or a puppy in front of her and she suddenly shows her nurturing side. She has always loved playing with baby dolls and pushchairs and any other accessories that they come with. As soon as her interactive Tiny Tears came she had her out of the box immediately and was on the hunt for the baby carrier she got for Christmas so she could take her baby out for a walk. She looked so adorable carrying her around in this tiny carrier.  The interactive Tiny Tears makes a range of sounds, she can laugh and cry and say 'mama'. The funniest thing is whenever the baby says 'mama' Elsie laughs and says 'I'm not mama, Mummy is mama'. She likes to think that she is a loving sister rather than a mummy! Her favourite thing to do with Tiny Tears is sit her on the potty so she can do a real wee. 

What I love most about watching Elsie, and her brother and sister before her, is the memories I will always have of them being so loving and caring towards a doll. I still remember Gracie bathing her dolls in a washing up bowl when preparing for her new baby brother to arrive and Zach and Gracie once arguing about who would get to push the dolls pushchair around on Gracie's 4th birthday. It is something they have all loved at some point.

Do you have any happy doll memories?

Me and Mine (May 2018)

Thursday, May 31, 2018


May has been a very exciting month for us. We started with a family trip to the seaside for the first time this year as it was Logan's birthday. It was really nice to spend a day visiting places local to where he actually lives and we were really lucky that it was a lovely sunny day so we managed to visit a local farm before heading to the beach for a BBQ. We also managed a very rare photo of all six of us together whilst there.


We also made it back to the bluebell woods before we ran out of time which was so exciting as I had hoped to be able to take some nice family photos and they turned out great. We had so much fun exploring the woods, finding all of the natural clearances and following them until we could find the perfect spot to stop. 

The most exciting part of the month has been receiving the keys to our new house. We have waited so long and it is a fresh start for us all with the kids leaving their school and us all leaving our friends and family behind. As the last day of May is our moving in day, we will have to aim to get a picture of us all outside our new house ready for next months Me & Mine.



The Me + Mine Project - Dear Beautiful

Bluebell Woods

Wednesday, May 30, 2018


I have always wanted to find a nice bluebell wood to be able to take some beautiful photos and have never got around to actually doing it. This year I was determined to make it happen after seeing an array of photos popping up on my Instagram feed. Our nearest wood was at Ryton Pools Country Park in Coventry and after visiting slightly too early, we returned a few weeks later to find the bluebells in full bloom. They are so magnificent looking. I was just in awe looking at the colours with purple as far as the eye can see. 

I went armed with my camera and tripod and manage to capture so many lovely family photos that I just wanted to share a few of my favourites for you all to see! 





Have you managed to see any Bluebells this year?

review

Review: Untamed Velociraptor Fingerling

Monday, May 28, 2018


As everyone in the house is Fingerlings mad at the moment, I made sure I went to speak to the PR we had been working with whilst at Blog On X earlier this month. Whilst there I spotted the 'Untamed Ferocious @ Your Fingertips' range which is actually a range of super cool ferocious dinosaur fingerlings! As soon as I saw it I immediately thought of a little boy who I thought would love it. 


I ended up bringing home this Velociraptor called Razor. He chomps and growls and moves his head and eyes. He also reacts to your touch in certain spots on the head. Logan thought he was really cool and all of the other children were so jealous because he is so awesome. The Untamed range is a great alternative to the monkey range if your child is into less 'cute' toys. It has certainly been a huge hit in our house. 

I am loving seeing the kids playing together with all of the Fingerlings creatures. They really are great fun interactive toys. There are no parts for them to lose by accident and they are all priced under £20. 

The untamed velociraptor is available to buy in Entertainer stores amongst other toy retailers. 

pillows

Review: Perfection Pillow

Sunday, May 27, 2018



I have always been someone who struggles with sleeping. I am always tossing and turning and waking up feeling like I have barely slept at all. Over the recent months I have also been suffering with a sore neck quite often and figured it was a result of the position that I slept in. I was sent the 'Perfection' pillow by reflexpillow to try out and see if it improved my sleep and neck pains.

'Inappropriate pillows do not support the anatomy of the human body so it's not surprising that sleep science has turned to pillows as a major focus' says Noel O'Connor who founded reflex pillow  during an impressive thirty year career as a specialist in the treatment of back and neck pain 'while your mattress may support your lower spine, the soft tissue of your upper spine and neck requires even more support'. 

I was so ready to try the perfection pillow out but a bit reluctant to get excited. It turns out even that first night of using the pillow was a complete eye opener. I felt so much more comfortable and supported. I slept through the night and my neck felt huge amounts better the following morning. 


With a head dip that is designed to keep the spine aligned and a dedicated shoulder slot, Perfection ensures the optimal positioning for your head, neck and shoulders. By supporting the upper body frame in this way, your neck and shoulder muscles are spared any stress and strain as you sleep which improves blood circulation and redistributes your body weight to help prevent stiffness.


In the few weeks since I begun using the perfection pillow, I feel a lot more relaxed and well-rested. I feel like I am holding less tension in my neck, which I was having to massage regularly as it felt so tight and sore. I feel so much better and I am just so impressed with the difference it has made to my everyday life. 

The perfection pillow is currently available as part of a kickstarter campaign and so far has surpassed the funding goal. You can find it here  to find out more information or purchase for yourself. 

Summer Garden Must Haves

Thursday, May 24, 2018


With all of this glorious sunshine we are currently enjoying, it is the perfect time for thinking about ways to entertain children outdoors. My children love to be outdoors and we love our woodland walks and visits to the park but when it is nice every day, I still have things to do at home so it is nice to find activities for them to play in the garden where I can keep an eye on them. It is also nice to have plenty of choice for when friends visit with their children so there are no arguments over who gets a turn first. 

Water activities

Water activities are a must! There is so much a child can do with water and it isn't exclusive to a paddling pool. We have always loved having some kind of water activity table for as soon as a child can stand up. Fill it with cups, watering cans etc and they can have a world of fun making 'drinks', watering plants or even starting a water fight. I keep looking at garden water slides. It would either be a genius idea or a big mistake, I can't quite decide which, but they look like so much fun! For babies I love the idea of a water filled play mat like the teletubbies water mat. It can be popped on the grass in a nice shady spot and gives the stimulating feeling of water play without the mess. 

Ride-ons 

Bikes, scooters, skateboards etc. are always a winner. We have our Cosy Coupe for the kids to drive around in, scooters for each of the children and a range of bikes to suit all ages. We have a scuttlebug bike which is great as it is foldable, a toddlebike which is great as a first stage before a balance bike, a Cruzee balance bike which is amazing for teaching balance. We are hoping Zach will go straight onto his bike without stabilisers this summer after years of using his balance bike. Having a range of ride-ons available means children can race or ride together. 

Ball Games

Is there anything more versatile than a ball? So many games have been created around them. You can get little football goals or basketball nets, golf sets or boules. If you are a bit nervous of trusting a child with a ball near windows you could opt for something like a swingball with the ball attached. 

If you are looking for outdoor activities that don't take up space, chalks and bubbles are always popular here. Last Summer I had all of the kids in the street drawing chalk murals on my front garden path, much to a few neighbours disgust at the mess. In my opinion it creates hours of fun, promotes creativity and imaginative play and it is easily washed off with a little water!

Let me know what your summer must-have items are in the comments below.

*This post contains a sponsored link

Review: Stuffed Fables

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Our second Board Game Club game this month was Stuffed Fables. On first impressions, we thought the game sounded really interesting and were really excited to try it out. 

'Sworn to protect the little girl that loves them, a group of stuffed toys has been drawn into the Fall, an otherworldly, fantastic realm ruled by a brooding master of nightmares'.

Stuffed Fables is an unusual adventure game in which players take on the roles of brave stuffies seeking to save the child they love from a scheming evil mastermind. All of the action takes place in the unique storybook- a book that acts as your rules reference, story guide, and game board, all in one! 


The game comes with lots of different pieces as you can see above; including different kinds of cards used throughout the story, character pieces, dice, buttons etc. There are detailed instructions which explain what each item is used for and explaining the rules throughout each part of the story. 

The game is quite complicated and so including setting up and reading the instructions as we play, we found that it is very time consuming and that we had been playing for hours and still seemed to be so far off completing the game.  It is a shame that there is so much to set up that it wouldn't be easy to pick up where you left off after packing away. 

I did really enjoy the working as a team element of the game as that is something we don't usually do. We are a very competitive family and so are always playing games that involve competing against each other. It was nice to be able to discuss possible moves before deciding what to do and Gracie found it surprisingly fun too. I thought it may be too difficult for her despite being 7+ but I think playing as a team made it much easier for her to understand.


The game and pieces are amazing quality. I was surprised at the price range until I opened up the box and saw everything that was included. There is so much detail that has been put into every part of the game and you really do notice that. I do however, think that the storage box should have had more compartments so all of the cards don't get mixed up between uses. That way it could be a lot easier to set up each time. 

Stuffed Fables is a very 'different' game. I really enjoyed the gameplay itself but it is very time-consuming and so you would need to have a lot of free hours to be able to sit and play properly. We found it quite frustrating that we spent hours playing yet didn't actually get very far. I think maybe once we have moved house and are settled, we will try and find some time to give the game another go and see if we enjoy it more next time seems as we will already know the basic set up of the game.

Siblings (May 2018)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


We are in May now and it is time for our monthly Siblings update. The past month has been another fun filled one for the kids. It started with a trip to Ryton Pools Country Park on a search for Bluebells. We didn't find them as we were a little early but the kids did get to explore the woods and enjoy a nice picnic in the sun. They also found this animal totem filled with carvings of animals you can find in the woods which is really cool!


It was Logan's birthday this month so we travelled to Wales to visit him and he took us to the local places he loves. We went to Wiggleys Fun Farm where all four of them got to feed the animals and play on the indoor and outdoor play areas before heading to the beach for a BBQ, building sandcastles and jumping waves in the sea. The sun was shining all day and even the sea was lovely and warm. Zach had the time of his life jumping around in the sea and was soaked head to toe. Gracie soon joined him and the two of them really enjoyed themselves. Elsie wasn't a big fan of the sea but let her toes get wet and watched the other two happily. We don't get to the beach often as we live so far away so it was a lovely treat for them. Somehow I didn't get any pictures of all three together at the beach but you can see lots of lovely photos of each of them over on Instagram.


To end our month we finally made it back to Ryton Pools one evening last week to find the bluebells in full bloom. It was really beautiful and I got some lovely photos of Gracie, Zach and Elsie together. They really enjoyed helping me find the perfect spot and exploring the woods, finding the clearings so we wouldn't damage any flowers and looking for different animal habitats on the way as Gracie has been learning about them at school. 

It seems they have had a lot of outdoor fun this month. Hopefully the next month will be just as fun!




The Siblings Project - Dear Beautiful

collectibles

Review: LOL Surprise Confetti Pop

Friday, May 11, 2018


The LOL Surprise dolls are another huge craze for the kids at the moment. They love the surprise element of not knowing which doll they will find inside. Gracie was so excited to open up her new LOL Surprise Confetti Pop and to see how different it would be to the original LOL Surprise. She loved the confetti pop effect, it really made her laugh seeing confetti exploding everywhere!


There were lots of little accessories and clothing packaged separately for her to find in the ball and she really enjoyed opening it all up and dressing her doll. I thought I would hate the confetti but it is made out of thick paper and is easily picked up afterwards. I had images of tissue paper being ripped and found all over my house! 

Gracie loved the LOL Surprise Confetti Pop and was really pleased with the doll she received inside. I think it will be a huge hit with small LOL Surprise fans! 

review

Review: New Fingerlings

Thursday, May 10, 2018


Fingerlings have been a huge hit, if you haven't heard of them already, they were one of the most wanted toys at Christmas and were sold out in most toy stores! I had a huge struggle trying to get hold of one as it was the only toy Zach requested for Christmas. Thankfully a friend managed to get one to me and I had a happy boy Christmas Day. What I hadn't expected was for Elsie to love it so much. She was given a cheaper version of one which didn't work very well at all. The knock-offs are awful in comparison. Since Fingerlings proved so popular they have produced some new two-tone characters to add to the collection.


Fingerlings react to touch, motion and sound. You can swing them, pet them or rock them to sleep. Elsie was sent one of these new Fingerlings and she likes to talk to hers and give her kisses. We find it really cute how her Fingerling always reacts to the sound of Elsie laughing. It is nice that it seems quite personal to her. She has such an attachment to this little monkey.


They are really cute and a great price as far as interactive toys go! We are all big fans with Gracie currently asking if she can have one next! You can find Fingerlings at most toy stores both in store and online. 

#BoardGameClub

Review: My First Bananagrams

Thursday, May 03, 2018


This month we have two different games as part of the board game club. The first one is My First Bananagrams. I actually have original Bananagrams and think it is a great game but haven't ever played it with children so was really pleased to see My First Bananagrams when it arrived. I think it is a great game for children to practice their English skills and was intrigued to see how well they got on with it. 

It is a great game and it comes in a handy little banana shaped bag which is perfect for travelling and playing on the go. As the game is aimed at small children, all of the letters are in lowercase, the vowels are all yellow and with some letters that are easily mixed up by children eg. b, d, p, q, the tiles are all different colours and are underlined so you can see which way up they go. There are 80 single letter tiles and then as an extra there are a number of combo-letter tiles (each with two letters) you can add in with combinations such as ai, ee, oo, at, ch.

To actually play it is quite simple. Turn over all of the tiles in the centre so you can't see the letters and each player takes 15 tiles. Once someone shouts 'split' everyone turns their tiles over and the aim is to use up all of the letters to make a connected word grid. At any time during the game you can swap and put one of your tiles back in exchange for a new one from the pile in the centre (the bunch). When you have used all of your letters shout 'BANANAS!' If all of your words are correct and not misspelled then you are the winner!

We played with all three children although I know Elsie is too young and wouldn't know how to play so she was on 'my team'. Gracie is in Year 2 so has a good grasp of English, spelling and reading and Zach is doing really well with his learning to read. We have played the game a fair few times now and they are getting better each time. I think it will take them a little while to be able to play competitively against each other because they are still getting to grasps with putting words together themselves using the letters and Zach is still needing help putting words together at times. I definitely think we will play this game a lot as I can see them learning so much each time we play. 

This is a game I would definitely recommend. If your children are older then you can go straight for Original Bananagrams or if they are younger, you can use the letter tiles for different pre-school activities. It is such a diverse game with so many ways to use them educationally.

Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy Mania Tour Birmingham- Gracie's First Gig

Tuesday, May 01, 2018



One of my biggest hobbies is going to gigs and festivals in my spare time. Music has always been a huge part of my life and has become a love my children have inherited. Every time I go to a gig I have to film at least one short clip to show the kids when I come back home and they love to watch them. It was Gracie's birthday in December and she didn't really ask for anything for her birthday and when I saw that Fall Out Boy had a UK arena tour I thought it would be an amazing idea to surprise her with tickets to see them for her birthday.

Of course it was the best present ever and we finally got to go in March. Me and Gracie got some matching tour t-shirts which we wore throughout the whole show and she had the best night! She is usually in bed way before 9pm which was when Fall Out Boy came on stage and she had been in school all day beforehand so I was amazed she lasted all night. She was amazed by all of the things that as an adult who goes to gigs often I tend to be used to, like the lights, stages rising in the air, pyrotechnics so watching her face was probably one of my favourite parts of the night. 



We were sat up in the seating area as we had Gracie and despite being so far away, we had a good view of the stage. I have to admit they were not as amazing live as I hoped they would be. I am not sure if it is because I am so used to watching acts at smaller venues like the 02 Academy where it is much more intimate and you can see the stage clearly even from the back and the acts involve the audience a lot more. It was great hearing all of my favourite songs of theirs and seeing how much Gracie enjoyed herself. She was so buzzing she got up and went to school the next day and took her t-shirt to show in assembly and tell everyone what she had done. 

She is already compiling a list of acts she wants to go see next, as is Zach who is so jealous that he hasn't been to one yet! I will have to find a family friendly festival to take them to next!

family photos

Me and Mine (April 2018)

Monday, April 30, 2018


This month started with the kids being off school for the Easter Holidays. The first weekend of April we visited Warwick Castle which is a family favourite day out here. We all love Warwick Castle as there is so much to do and there seems to be new things to see every time we visit. It was a lovely day out for the five of us and a great excuse for a nice family picture. Even if Elsie didn't look at the camera!

The Easter bunny arrived and left the children lots of sweet treats, and maybe one or two for us grown ups too. Most of the Easter break though it was just me and the kids, we went to see five different fun shows at The Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. They always have lots of fun shows for the kids over the holidays so worth checking out if you are local! 

It was also my birthday over the Easter holidays. We had Logan that weekend too so we had a nice family day and although it was horrible and raining, we took a little walk to a local park followed by a movie night. 


We only tend to get weekends to spend as a family and we had a sunny one last weekend. We popped to a local park to take a walk through the bluebell woods. It turned out they are blooming late around here so weren't out but we had taken a picnic and spend the afternoon enjoying a picnic in a quiet area of the park before going to play in the play area. It was a really nice day and gives us an excuse to return in the next few days on a search for bluebells!

So that was our April. I hope you all had a lovely month. I am looking forward to seeing what May brings us!

The Me + Mine Project - Dear Beautiful

anxiety

Living With An Anxiety Disorder

Monday, April 23, 2018


I feel like I have been doing so well for ages. I haven't had an anxiety attack for a long time and I have been coping with life pretty damn well but the thing about having an anxiety disorder is that it can suddenly just creep back up on you when you least expect it. 

At the moment I feel like I am lonely but at the same time I don't want to be near to or speak to anyone. Anxiety affects people in different ways for me it is the constant fear of rejection or that I am being judged by people and I take this into consideration when it comes to every single decision I make when I am at my worst. From choosing what clothes to wear, incase people notice that I have put some weight back on, to not being able to decide what to do or where to go when asked, incase the person doesn't like my decision or thinks it is a stupid idea. Sometimes I can't decide what food to cook because either I feel my cooking skills are not good enough or they might not fancy eating what I choose and that will be MY fault. 

Of course when I think about it or write it down, none of my feelings are rationale in the slightest because most normal people make these decisions without giving them a second thought. However I am my own biggest critic and for as long as I remember I have blamed myself for everything bad that happens to anyone around me and so judge every action or decision I make. 

I have no idea what has triggered me recently. I seem to be hiding from everything and don't quite know how to pull myself out of it. It is strange. I have had some really lovely days recently with the family and have been feeling really happy despite knowing that my anxiety is there with me but I have equally had days where I have hidden and napped because I feel so exhausted from all of the overthinking and being emotionally drained. 

I always know when I am bad because I steer away from writing until it all builds up and I have to let it all go or I cannot rest. Of course there is no real hiding as a parent, I may hide emotionally but I still need to get my kids to school and take them to their social events and I think that helps. Sometimes I have to force myself to stick around and talk to parents at the school because there are so many amazing people who I enjoy talking to and while my anxiety is yelling 'DON'T TALK  TO THEM TODAY THEY WILL REALISE YOU ARE CRAZY AND EMOTIONAL AND WON'T WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND ANYMORE OR THEY WILL SEE THROUGH YOU AND TELL EVERYONE HORRIBLE THINGS ABOUT YOU. BLENDING IN THE BACKGROUND IS A BETTER IDEA' but I also worry that by not stopping to say 'Hi' or make an effort that they will think I am rude and I will then lose all of my friends anyway.

So please if anyone is reading this and ever wonders why I am probably walking through school looking so conflicted or being quiet or even being uncharacteristically loud, I am just a slightly crazy person who wants  to be liked and has no idea what her brain is doing 90% of the time. Sometimes I can get all the way back home after dropping the three kids off and not even remember walking home as my brain has been in overdrive. Also if you are reading this and don't know me personally but my description sounds like someone you know, they probably have their own anxiety issues that they are trying to work through and maybe a kind smile or a 'Hello' might just make their day a little easier.

family photos

Siblings (April 2018)

Sunday, April 15, 2018


It is April already and the kids have had another busy month. Since our last Siblings post, they have done so much. The picture above was taken before school when they were all ready for Sport Relief at school. They love dressing up days and ended up having three in the last two weeks at school before Easter. 


The next photo was taken on the day of mine and Sam's anniversary. We decided to go to our favourite local park, the sun was shining and the kids played lovely together. They were all practicing their Rugby skills. Zach has decided he wants to be a Rugby player when he is older so is happily brushing up his skills by taking down his sisters!


At the beginning of the Easter holidays we spent a day at Warwick Castle. The kids loved exploring the grounds and learning all about the history. Their favourite part of the day was watching the Birds of Prey show. It was amazing and really 'wowed' them. They loved it so much that we decided to go and visit the birds afterwards, where Elsie introduced herself to each of them and asked if they were having a nice day. They also got up close and personal with some Peacocks in the Peacock garden which was pretty cool. 


Throughout the Easter holidays we went to the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry to watch 5 different shows. They always have an impressive timetable over the holidays to entertain the children. They went to see; Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, Dear Zoo Live, The twisted tale of Hansel & Gretel, Easter Bunny's Eggs Factor and What the Ladybird Heard. Each show was very different and the kids had so much fun watching them together. The last family activity they did was a trip to the cinema yesterday to see Coco. It was an amazing film with lots of action and emotional moments. It was a lovely way to round up the Easter holidays and they will be back to normality tomorrow with a bang. They have enjoyed sleeping late and spending so much time together so it will be sad to see them all go back to school. Not long until May half-term though!






The Siblings Project - Dear Beautiful

#BoardGameClub

Review: Carcassonne

Saturday, April 14, 2018


Based on the southern French city of Carccassonne, famous for it's unique Roman and Medieval fortifications, this award-winning game of simple, clever tile-laying brings new challenges with every turn!

This is another game that we would probably never have chosen to try ourselves but is actually one of our favourites out of all the games we have reviewed. The game is suitable for 2-5 players, age 7 +. 

Me and Sam invited Gracie to join us playing this game as she is 7. We weren't sure whether it would be too difficult for her as the instructions sounded quite complicated but after we had all taken a turn each, it clicked and we all understood what we needed to do. 


Each person starts with 7 'Meeple' in a different colour. When it is your turn, you take a tile and place it touching one of the tiles already placed. Each tile will have either a road, city, church etc. You can place your Meeple on these cards and once a city or road is completed you gain points and your Meeple is returned to be used again. It is a game of both luck and strategy. You hope for tiles that will help you increase your points but you may get something else and have to think of where that tile is best used.

There is also a board that comes with the game that helps you track each players score throughout the game. There are two expansions that came with the game that we need to find some time to play around with, a selection of river tiles and some more figures called 'Abbots' that are used to add to the game and make it more of a challenge.


I really enjoyed this game, as did Sam and Gracie. I, of course am the current family champion of Carcassonne. It is fun to play, it gets your brain engaged and you never quite know who is going to win!

We really enjoyed this months game and can't wait to see what we get next! 

Belgrade Theatre

Review: The Twisted Tale of Hansel and Gretel at Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Photo Credit: Kate Green
 Today I took the children to see another show at The Belgrade Theatre Coventry. The Twisted Tales of Hansel and Gretel, produced by Open Theatre Company and Birmingham Hippodrome, is the first in a series of Twisted Tales which will be developed over the coming years, in which the learning disabled actors are at the centre of creating and performing high quality productions made for a family audience. 

I have to say it was not what I was expecting at all. When I hear 'twisted tale' I think a whole reimagining of a story from a different point of view or perspective. What made this different was, it wasn't far off the Hansel and Gretel we all know, it just added a few more funny characters and a slight twist to each characters personality. There was a feisty Gretel, a beat-boxing Hansel, a singing chef, a 'Grade A' storyteller, a mockingbird who could play instruments and a duck that saves the day!


Photo Credit: Kate Green
It definitely wasn't a serious performance. It is a family friendly, joyfully silly show. The kids were engrossed throughout and were constantly giggling. It was nice to see the theatre was quite full and everybody seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. The actors were all brilliant and we all came out with different favourite characters! I personally loved the duck! Gracie loved the Mockingbird and Zach liked the Dad/Chef (I am not quite sure he realised they were two separate characters played by the same person!)

It is definitely worth watching if you are local! Or you can check out all the other upcoming shows at the Belgrade Theatre

Red Riding Hood and The Wolf Belgrade Theatre

Tuesday, April 03, 2018


Today me and the kids went to The Belgrade Theatre Coventry to watch Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. Red Riding Hood and the Wolf is a retelling of the Red Riding Hood story by Little Angel Theatre. 

The story is told by Robyn. She takes a book and starts to read but she can't relate to Red Riding Hood, with sugar and spice and all things nice. There are two sides to every story. What if the Big Bad Wolf wasn't big or bad at all? Robyn tells this alternative story through a world of homemade make-believe.

The show is full of puppetry, props made from household items and some great sound effects. It is very clever and performed by a single person on a small set. All four of us really enjoyed the show. The older two understood the story a lot more but even Elsie loved the puppetry and props. She was constantly asking questions about the performance. It was funny. It was different and it was interesting. I love reading and watching alternatives to fairy tales and stories and it was nice to see a side where the wolf was a good guy. It was great for the kids too. It had a subtle lesson in judging people or creatures by their looks and appearance. 

It was a lovely family friendly show and it is showing until Thursday 5th April with two showings per day so be quick if you want to see it! 

Planning Children's Parties

Tuesday, April 03, 2018


I absolutely love planning children's birthday parties, which I guess is a good thing with so many children, and over the years I have planned a fair few. Whether it be a home/garden party with close friends and family or hiring out a venue and inviting all of their school friends, I always love creating themes and activities to make it extra special for the birthday boy or girl. 

We will be moving house soon, where we will have a really big garden suitable for some awesome children's parties and the idea makes me so excited. I am already looking at ideas that each of the children will love and have even considered hiring some entertainment like Captain Fantastic Parties because as much as I love creating activities for the children to do, entertaining people is certainly not my area of expertise. 



My personal favourite part of party planning is the cakes! Over the years we have had some amazing birthday cakes for the kids. I love to wow the kids and give them experiences to remember though I don't always pay people to make the cakes for me. For Gracie's 5th Birthday party, I decorated a cake for her myself and she was so pleased with it despite it not being a professional job. She still talks about it now which is lovely.

A good birthday party will create memories that last forever so it doesn't matter how much you spend or how many people turn up. Having fun and getting a few snapshots to look back on mean that you can remember and cherish those moments forever. 

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Me and Mine (March 2018)

Saturday, March 31, 2018


This month has been another really busy month and has flown by. It started off with lots of snow which was really exciting as it has been the first time we have managed to get out playing in the snow since Gracie was a baby. Both Zach and Elsie have never had that experience and so we really did make the most of it. 

The kids have had lots of dress up days at school so we have had fun putting together costumes for Pirate Day, World Book Day, Sport Relief and towards the end of the month I had to help build an Easter Bonnet. It has certainly been a month for creativity. We also had Parent's evening where we were told how amazing each of the children were in their own ways and I couldn't be prouder of them. Gracie received two headteacher awards in one fortnight which was a huge confidence boost for her! 

Me and Sam got to finally go and watch Black Panther together at the cinema which we had waited so long for! We had Mother's Day the following day, where I was treated to breakfast in bed and some beautiful handmade cards from each of the children. The following weekend we were dog-sitting for our favourite pooches. We had Logan for the weekend too so the six of us made home-made pizzas which the kids decorated themselves and another delivery of snow meant the kids got to run around in the garden with the dogs in the snow. 


Last weekend we were pleased to see some signs of Spring approaching and had a lovely few hours sitting in the sunshine at our favourite park and eating ice-creams together. This made me so excited for spring/summer and being able to spend a lot more time outdoors though it has been followed by some miserable weather towards the end of this week.

The kids have just broken up for the Easter Holidays now and we are so excited for all of the fun things we have planned this month. 


The Me + Mine Project - Dear Beautiful

Review: Baby Born Bed

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


Elsie loves roleplaying especially anything to do with families, babies or dogs! She has a few baby dolls and accessories that she loves to play with but until now she didn't have a baby bed or cot. She was sent the Baby Born bed to review and I thought she might just love it!

It does require assembly but it doesn't take long at all and doesn't need any tools. I simply clicked everything into place and added the stickers and it was ready to play with. Elsie was so pleased with it. It comes with a little reversible pillow and blanket so immediately she was tucking her baba into bed to say goodnight. Shouting 'ABRACADABRA'  then uncovering the blanket to reveal the baby like a magic trick.



Since she received the bed, she has played with it daily. It hasn't been left to the side ignored after a few days like many toys are. It really seems to bring out her nurturing side. It is lovely watching her playing so nicely. She has even been reading bedtime stories to her baby which is so cute! By the time her siblings were her age they had experienced having a real baby around with their new brother/sister. Elsie is the only one that hasn't had that, which is probably why she loves the idea so much. 



With how much Elsie has been playing with the bed, and how rough she can be when playing, I can honestly say I haven't felt worried about it being broken at any point. The pillow and blanket are great and I can't really think of any negative points or ways I would possibly suggest to improve the item. It is great quality and seems built to last. The sides can be taken off so it can be used as a bed for 'older dolls' like the Baby Born Interactive Sister.

The Baby Born bed can be bought from Amazon

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