Sunday 30 September 2012

The Little Life Day Sack Review & Giveaway!

Leo is at an age now where he is craving his independence but is not quite ready to branch off on his own, so I find myself struggling to give him the right combination of letting him fly solo topped up with the right dose of mothering.

When we go out and about now Leo will more often than not want to walk for a little while, he now has the strength to go for little walks around the local town, and he loves taking in every little detail around him. His innocent mind makes everything seem magical, even that crisp packet blowing in the breeze is ample reason to stop, bend down and marvel. Everything is new and exciting and when you are navigating the world around you with a toddler in tow, then you really need to know that you have them under control and that most importantly they are safe.

The biggest problem we have come across is that Leo will not hold my hand while we are out, if I am lucky enough to get him to do so for even a moment then that’s short lived and over in the blink of an eye. He loves to run ahead, stop when he wants and go where he pleases, but he couldn’t possibly do this by holding my hand.

With this in mind it has got me thinking of ways to combat this issue and ways of giving him what he desires while also being able to keep him in check. There are many different ways to keep your little one close, plenty of reign designs, from wrist straps to body reigns to choose from and now toddler bags that have a built in purpose reign. The beauty of a toddler bag is that as your little one get’s older they can carry the things they wish to take out with them, and you can still keep them at arms length.

Leo has been sent a LittleLife Dino Day Sack from the lovely people at Simply Hike. I loved the look of this little bag and wondered whether or not this would aid our experience while out and about. I am pleased to share that it did provide a very positive experience and allowed me to relax more while letting Leo gallivant about the town.

Day Sack Features:

- Top Grab Handle
- Removable Day Sack Reign
- Weatherproof Hood
- Zipped entry to main compartment
- Internal Name & Address Tag
- Adjustable Padded Shoulder Straps
- Chest Strap to prevent the strap from slipping
- Available in 10 animal designs – Ladybird, Turtle, Cow, Bee, Shark, Butterfly, Dinosaur, Spider, Clownfish and Giraffe
- Complies with safety standard EN 13210-2004 for children’s harnesses and reigns

What I loved about the LittleLife Day Sack range was that each of the designs had their own personality, and added that special factor in the child’s eyes. The Dino design is just great, featuring scales and even the ridges going down the spine of the bag, finishing on the tail, which really does complete the Dino’s look.

The reign attaches to a little handle on the back of the Day Sack, and once attached it is very secure and not going to be freeing any little monsters when you least expect it. Once the child outgrows the bag or you don’t have a need for the reign you can just take the reign off the handle and store it away in the bag, leaving you with a very characteristic back pack.

The Day Sack has a substantially sized main compartment, that we are not currently using as I don’t want to weigh Leo down with all of his bits and bobs, but as he get’s older it will be perfect for him to take along to nursery. It is big enough to house his drink, snacks and everything that he will need for a day out. There is even a separate compartment that hides away a weatherproof hood. It is within easy reach for Mummy or Daddy to whip it out at the first sign of rain, and this little hood completes the Dinosaur look. The hood has yet more ridges just as on the back of the bag that really allows your little one to get into character.

You can really feel the quality in this bag, and it is the perfect size and weight for a toddler to make use of, tipping the scales at just 200g. The LittleLife Day Sacks are suitable for children 1 year up to the age of 4 years old due to the padded adjustable shoulder straps that grow with the child. To make sure that the bag was set up correctly for Leo’s use I simply slipped the bag onto his shoulders and did up the front clasp. I then just adjusted the shoulder straps until I was happy with the fit and how it was sitting on Leo. With winter on the way it is great to know that we will be able to use the Day Sack with a winter coat, by just being able to adjust the straps to suit whatever Leo is wearing.

Last weekend armed with the Day Sack our little family of 3 decided to take a drive into town for a leisurely lunch and walk around the town. So that is exactly what we did, I strapped the bag onto Leo’s back and off he went. He looked so pleased with himself trotting along and acting just as he usually would. Only this time I was happy as I had the control and the knowledge that he could not run off.

On Leo’s travels around the town he came across a robotic talking Hippo named Harry, (No seriously!) who happened to be going around the streets signing songs and talking to the children on a trike ( I really am telling you the truth!). Leo was walking along as always ahead of me, when he came across Harry and he stopped right there in his tracks, staring at the unusual sight. I wasn’t sure whether he was going to cry and want carrying or would see the humour in the situation. Of course Leo being Leo soon loved this unusual robot and began to follow him as he moved away on his trike. Parents and children alike couldn’t quite work out how this robot was talking back to everyone and peddling his trike.

In the end I had to pick Leo up and carry him away from Harry, otherwise we would have been there following this mechanical robot around all day, lead of course by Leo!

Of course with the Day Sack reign I have the power to dictate where the boundaries are, if I don’t want Leo to go in a certain direction I can just hold the reign tight. In this situation though you do need to be careful that they don’t have a little fall on their bottom’s… but it allows you to assertively let them know where they can go and where the cannot. Leo likes to throw a strop if I stop him going where he wants to, but 9 times out of 10 I do have errands to run while I am in town, so sometimes he is just going to have to follow my lead.

The Day Sack gives Leo the freedom he wants, and compared to other reign choices on the market the Day Sack is less intrusive, just letting Leo get on with what he wants to, which of course is primarily causing trouble! The Day Sack gives me the reassurance that he is safe and accounted for, and provides a win/win situation for both sides. Not to mention that Daddy also loves the Dino Day Sack…I may have to look into an adult size especially for him!

You can purchase your LittleLife Day Sacks right here for £16.95.


I am very pleased to be able to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a Little Life Day Sack of their choice. As I mentioned in my review of this fab little bag, there is a great selection for both boy's and girls.

The winner will be able to choose any one of these gorgeous designs:

- Ladybird
- Turtle
- Cow 
- Shark 
- Butterfly 
- Dinosaur 
- Spider
- Clownfish
- Giraffe

All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning the Little Life Day Sack of your choice is to enter the Rafflecopter form below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Competition Guidelines:

Please only enter this competition if you are a resident of the United Kingdom. If you are drawn as the winner please respond to the email notification within 48 hours. If no response is received within this time frame then another winner will be drawn at random, and your win will be void.

Good luck all!

Disclaimer: I was sent the LittleLife Day Sack for the purpose of this review. However all views and opinions are completely honest and my own.

Silent Sunday

Saturday 29 September 2012

Toddler See, Toddler Do - Week 9

This week has seen Leo turning 15 months old.

When I think back to that special day when he arrived into this world, it does not feel like all this time has passed already. If anything it feels like just yesterday that he came into our lives, but the fact is it has been 15 whole months or 65 weeks depending on how you look at it makes you realise just how far we have actually come.

So much changes in 15 months, so much growing, physical changes and learning occurs. I think it is safe to say that these changes have occurred on both mine and Leo’s accounts. I find it utterly amazing to watch my baby boy coming into his own, and how he marvels at everything he comes across, seeing the magic and wonder in the everyday objects that he encounters.

This week Leo caught my eye. He was doing something I had never seen him do before. Leo was spinning around and around on the spot, I could see him getting dizzier by the moment until he tumbled to the floor. So without even brushing himself off he stood back up and began to spin around and around once again. I don’t know where he has learnt this new trick but it is so adorable watching him.

He seems to become more and more active each week. Leo has re-discovered the pouf this week, he loves to push the cushion off and then climb on top. From here he will direct himself onto the television stand and touch the screen as though it is a giant iPad. As if he is waiting for his touch to signal some kind of change on the screen. And when he get’s bored of this he will try and open the French doors!

He is a right little climber…

Leo can also march these days, he walks along and if tell him to ‘stamp, stamp’ he will begin to march his feet up high and stamp them back down on the floor again one after the other. He marches all around the living room, and really does make me chuckle and he enjoys it so much that he often chuckles while he is marching himself all over.

What I really love is that he responds to the words ‘Stamp, Stamp’ which again shows his recognition of certain words and responds accordingly.

Leo has been shaking his head to symbolise ‘No’ for a long time now but he has never nodded to demonstrate ‘Yes’ before. Leo would shake his head for ‘No’ even when he really did mean yes. This all changed this week, just all of a sudden. I had been munching on a chocolate bar and I could feel little eyes watching me take every little bite, so I simply asked Leo ‘Would you like some chocolate?’ Then all of a sudden Leo began nodding. His head was going up and down and he started to tap his hand for ‘more’.

I just have to stand back once in a while to take in that special little man of mine and all that he has become. How he actually understands certain things that I say and ask him, even if sometimes he deliberately chooses to ignore me when the scenario is less than desirable for him.

There are course those incredibly sweet moments where he will just spontaneously come up to me and give me a kiss. He did this on a train journey this week completely out of the blue; he turned to me and just kissed me. He is so affectionate even though he can be a little terror, but he really is a Mummy’s boy through and through, and I love him even more for this.

I think maybe he watches me a little bit too closely at times, as Leo has suddenly started carrying my hand bag around the house, and very enthusiastically to say the least. He has taken a real shine to my lovely Louis Vuitton clutch bag. He holds it on his arm just as he has seen me do and he just walks around the house looking incredibly pleased with himself. My bag is such a big interest to him that it is usually the first thing he takes off me when I get in the door from work.

Leo was even taking Granny’s bag for a walk around the other night and you can see how much he was loving it below!

Leo associates my bags with us going out. As soon as I pick up Mr Louis Vuitton or the changing bag, Leo begins to wave. Of course this does not go down to well when I am heading out to work as he thinks that he is coming with me, and gets very upset when he see’s me go out, with my bag in hand without him.

Of course I always try and make the time we do spend together as fun and enjoyable as possible, but for those times we are not together I do feel like we are both missing out on each other.

Have you and your toddlers been up to anything exciting this week?

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Thursday 27 September 2012

The Great Cosatto Cuppa

Leo and I were invited along to the Great Cosatto Cuppa on Wednesday, and with such an amazing invitation to see all of their exciting products, while getting the chance to have a look around there show room, it was an event I could not miss.

The Great Cosatto Cuppa is a very special coffee morning for parents and their children to go along and see all of the new products such as the Giggle Travel System! Cosatto host these coveted mornings every couple of months and now that word is getting out about them they are becoming increasingly popular. If you are interested in attending the next one keep an eye out on their Facebook page. They announce the next Cosatto Cuppa dates directly to their Facebook fans, and pick a number of their lucky fans to attend.

So with the big day finally here, I was up before the sun had even put his hat on (not to mention that it rained most of the day!). My alarm sounded at 4:30am so I could prepare Leo and I for our 6:00am train to Bolton where Cosatto towers are based. Leo blinked the sleep away from his eyes and was luckily in a very bubbly mood as we set off for a very colourful day out.

Upon arrival we were greeted by the lovely Cosatto ladies and offered very much welcomed refreshments before being taken to sit down. Leo was over the moon to be presented with a biscuit and almost squealed with excitement when he saw the very yummy looking cup cakes. He almost bit my hand off when I offered to share one with him, and wasted no time at all in devouring the cake.

It was lovely to see such a great turn out, with a mass array of babies of all ages. There were teeny tiny newborns, curious 6 month olds and troublesome toddlers (insert Leo’s name here…) but regardless of the children’s ages there was one thing that we all had in common.

We all love Cosatto.

The owner of Cosatto gave everyone a very warm welcome and explained that as he no longer uses the products every day as his children have now got that little bit older, it is great to hear feedback from families who are actually using the brand and who can give real constructive feedback. This just shows that Cosatto are still pushing forward and wanting to improve their products further, and it us parent’s who can provide this valuable information.

As a bit of an ice breaker we each took it in turns to introduce ourselves, and of course our little ones, before trying to think up 3 words that best described the Cosatto brand. Of course the first thing that comes to my mind is ‘Fun’ and ‘colourful’ but finally I think that it is ‘exciting’. It was interesting to hear how everyone felt about the Cosatto brand and one lady even used her three words to say ‘Must. Have. Brand’.

I think that pretty much sums it up!

Cosatto have just announced their very first ambassador programme and I am very excited to be taking part in this over the next 6 months. With a few other members of the programme also in attendance, they took the moment to introduce us all to the rest of the group as their ambassadors and to also crown us! Leo was looking at me with curiosity in his eyes, wondering what on earth was on my head, obviously thinking how silly his Mummy was looking.

The ambassadorship is known as the ‘Cosatto Brand Buddies’ and over the coming months I will be bringing you more reviews from this very exciting, very colourful company! But more on this at a later date…

The Cosatto Show room is just fantastic and they have all of their pushchairs, car seats and furniture range on display. It is so easy to walk around making a mental note of everything that you want and somehow…need! I had no idea that Cosatto did nursery furniture. Did you? I can tell you now though that it is all beautiful.

One thing that caught everybody’s eye was the incredibly big slide that protruded out of the ceiling. This slide is for office members to use if they feel like by-passing the stairs for any reason! I think this tells you instantly what a fun place Cosatto head quarters is and I think this reflects the fun factor in the product designs, I mean how could it not?

The slide was out of use to us for health and safety reasons but we all stood and admired the very impressive slide none the less. It was blocked off to avoid anyone attempting to steal a go, but this obstruction just made Leo even more curious and given half the chance I know he would have been climbing it.

Leo was a little monster all morning, running around and onto the stages with all of the displays. One of the stages was right next to the table housing all of the very delicious cup cakes, and it did not take Leo long to reach up a hand to try and take one for his own.

Cheeky little boy!

We were given a product demonstration on the Giggle Travel System, and shown how small it folds. In comparison to my travel system this was really compact and would very easily fit in the boot of my Peugeot 206. We were even lucky enough to be shown a new highchair that is in development for next years range. As it is still in the development process it means that all of the feed back that was provided yesterday from the parent’s can be taken into account before the final product is put forward to the customer.

I found my morning at Cosatto Towers very informative and enjoyable. I have always loved the look of the Cosatto brand, with their bright colourful patterns and friendly usability but now I feel I know the brand it’s self and what they stand for, and that is providing families with fun filled baby products that scream with personality, with user friendly features at affordable prices. And the affordable prices are what really makes Cosatto… Cosatto!

Cosatto offer you complete packages where you can pay one price and get everything you need in one box. Take the Cosatto Pear Drop for instance, for £214.00 (depending where you purchase) you can get your stroller (suitable from newborn), cosytoes and rain cover all in one go. I find this brilliant as it all comes as standard in the box with a 4 year guarantee (Yes 4 years!) and all perfectly matches your stroller. With other brands you do have to buy the cosytoes and sometimes the rain cover at an extra expense to you.

I had a great day out at Cosatto and I look forward to working with them over the coming months as a Cosatto Brand Buddy. Thank you very much for hosting such a lovely morning and for not batting an eye lid at the mess Leo made on the floor (again I apologise profoundly!)

Disclaimer: I was provided with a goody bag at this event however all views and opinions are completely honest and my own.

A Big Disappointment

Over the last year I have become very confident in catching the train with Leo, and we have gone on many adventures together using the train as our preferred method of transport. You see although I drive, I don’t feel confident to drive on the motorway or to un-familiar surroundings, so catching the train solves these insecurities.

Yesterday I got a train from Worcestershire all the way to Moses Gate (Bolton) with Leo in his pushchair.

My train journey yesterday consisted of 5 changes to get to Moses Gate and then another 5 on the homebound journey. This is the most ambitious trip I have embarked on to date with Leo and one that took a turn for the worse on the way back.

I got into Birmingham New Street with time to spare, and had a look on the information screen to find out which platform my next connecting train was leaving from. I sourced the platform number and took the lift to get there. Getting down to the platform I could see it was already full of passengers who were to be getting on the same train as me. Leo and I still had about 10 minutes to wait for the 16:19 train to Worcester Shrub Hill so we kept an eye on the information screen and waited.

Suddenly at about 16:18 I heard an announcement, and that announcement is what turned our train experience into a spiralling mess.

With a minute left before the train was expected in to the station they had suddenly changed the platform for my train. Just like that. Meaning that I was now stood on the completely wrong platform with Leo and my pushchair with no way of quickly getting to the correct platform.

So now everyone was running to the new platform to catch the train that I knew there was no hope in hell of Leo and I getting to in time. I was still stood waiting for the lift doors to open at 16:22, 3 minutes after the train was due to have left.

Having a baby in a pushchair restricts me in how quickly I can get from one platform to another. I need the correct information on the screen so I can get there in plenty of time, as does anyone who needs to use the lift instead of the stairs.

When I finally got the lift back up I still had to check what platform I was supposed to get to, and the lady who worked at the station told me that I should now go to platform 12. Giving me false hope that the train had been waiting to give the passengers chance to get there.

She then advised me that there was no lift to platform 12, so I asked how I should get up to that level and she told me in no un-certain terms that I was going to have to find someone to assist me in carrying the pushchair up, not offering any help or assistance herself.

I found this so un-helpful, I was so over whelmed and by now feeling incredibly frustrated and angry.

I was now faced with the fact that I still had another train to catch at Worcester Shrub Hill in order to get home, and I was now going to miss that one too. Leo was getting tired, hungry and not to mention that he had consumed the remainder of his juice about an hour before, so we really were needing to get home so I could get him sorted.

The train station staff did not help me at all even though I asked reputedly for it. I felt that there was a complete lack of communication. The train station would have surely known about this platform change further in advance than the minute’s notice that I and everyone else received.

The only reason I got through this situation was because the kindest member of the public took me under his wing and helped me up to platform 12. We got up there only to find that the train had already gone, so there was no reason for me to have been directed up there anyway.

The man who had assisted me up then helped me back down again, he found out what time the next train was and then assisted me to it. He helped me with Leo on an escalator and joked about how much experience he has of juggling a child and travelling, as he had 2 in close age proximity. This lovely man then made sure I was at the correct platform for my train and just made the whole situation bearable for me.

I cannot thank this man enough for his assistance and all that he did for me yesterday. It is just a shame that a member of the public had to help me and that the lady I asked for help completely turned her back on me.

I caught the 16:59 out of Birmingham New Street and as expected missed my connecting train at Worcester Shrub Hill. My phone had died so I had no way of contacting my family to tell them that I would not be the arranged pick up point at 17:36 and that I was safe.

The next train from Worcester would not get me back home until gone 7pm and I needed to get Leo fed, so I got off at Worcester to get Leo some more juice and something to eat. I then used a pay phone to call the one and only number I know off by heart, my home number. I arranged for Luke to come and pick me up from there so I didn’t have to faff about on yet another train.

I feel completely let down by the station for yesterday’s occurrences and feel that there was a complete lack of communication, assistance and general customer care.

How on earth is a mother with a pushchair or a disabled person meant to adhere to such a short turn around between platforms?

How can staff idly not lift a finger to help someone who is clearly feeling distressed, struggling and in need of assistance?

The Tiredness

One of the hardest things about being a working mum, aside from the guilt that comes hand in hand with it is the tiredness.

The tiredness that comes after a bad night, with multiple wakes from your little one as you get up to cater for the multiple demands that they are placing upon you.

More milk Mummy, give me a cuddle Mummy. Or Leo’s favourite…Let’s watch television Mummy.

When I returned to work back in July, Leo was sleeping really well. He was waking up once throughout the night and was going back down with no issues at all. Now though Leo likes to wake up and stay awake. He cries until I take him downstairs and turn on the television for a spot of Iggle Piggle. We have been in this position before and managed to break it by begrudgingly introducing controlled crying.

However now I am back at work, I need all the sleep I can get. It is hard enough to get through the day without adding my zombie like state to the equation that has been brought on by an interrupted nights sleep. If I was to implement the controlled crying again now, I would be up longer waiting for him to stop screaming and if he didn’t calm down I would then have to do go through the usual process anyway, thus prolonging my night time dilemma. I know it is more of a cop out doing what I am doing, but I am so tired half the time that I take the quickest route that leads me back to my bed.

When I was on maternity leave, I obviously still got tired but there was more chance for me to catch up on my much needed sleep. I have been known to take a nap when Leo has just so I can get half an hours shut eye. That half an hour used to make all the difference and when Leo awoke I was ready to get up and go again. It was not a frequent occurrence but after a bad night/early morning it was nice to have the opportunity to do this.

This morning Leo awoke at 6am, a whole hour before my alarm clock usually goes off. He was far too awake to even contemplate going back to sleep which meant that I awoke before the sun even blinked open his sleepy eyes. Now there is no chance to go back to bed as I have to get up and ready for a day at work. I spend days like this counting down the moments until I can finally get home, put my cheeky monster to bed, before finally tucking myself up for a well deserved sleep.

Being a working mum is actually tougher than I expected it would be. I go to work and still have to return home to do everything that I have not been able to do during the day, I have to get Leo fed and ready for bed and I also have to get myself ready for work again the next day. Sometimes I do all of this on very little sleep, before finally collapsing into bed and closing my eyes in order to repeat the entire process over again tomorrow.

What do you find the hardest aspect of being a working parent?

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Toddler See, Toddler Do - Week 8

How Leo changes in a week never ceases to amaze me, his little mannerisms becoming more pronounced and his learning's of this weird and wonderful world that we live in becoming more apparent.

Leo only needs to see how something works once before he knows exactly what he should be doing with it. His fascination with the washing machine has enabled him to now turn it on all by himself. He can push all of the buttons and even turn the dials, which means he can alter the temperature and endanger all of our clothes to the horrors of colours running!

One of the most special times with Leo is always bedtime. It is a time where we can snuggle close while he drinks his bedtime bottle of milk, and although he is winding down from a busy day he is usually in the most amazing mood. I find myself sitting in awe of him as I see the sleepy expression flicker across his face, which in the next instance is replaced by the biggest, most beautiful smile beaming up through his milk. This of course promotes a chain reaction, how cannot I not smile back at this beautiful boy who just brings out the very best in me?

This one smile soon brings with it a series of little games before Leo succumbs to the overwhelming urge to sleep. He covers up his eyes and awaits my cue 'where has Leo gone? Leo!? Where are you!?' this prompts giggling on both parts as Leo suddenly relinquishes his hands from his eyes and says 'buh' which is his attempt at saying 'boo'.

Leo is now learning the names of different parts of the body, and he tends to use this quiet time with Mummy to put his learnings into action. He can be lay so still in my arms really concentrating on drinking his milk, when all of a sudden his finger will be in my mouth pointing out my teeth. I take this moment to tell him what they are and show him his too. He is fascinated by eyes and loves to point these out to me.

I can ask Leo where his head, hair, eyes and teeth are and he will usually direct me to the correct part of the anatomy. Seeing his learning come along like this really is magical, and I love knowing that I am playing such a big role in these learnings.

While Leo lays there in my arms at this time of night he does not wriggle to get down, or try to run away from me. This really is our time, and after a long day at work this is the greatest highlight of my day.

I mentioned recently that Leo had began hitting out in frustration, a form of behaviour that I dislike immensely and will not accept. Looking back I would pin point this starting around the time I returned to work. It felt like he was maybe angry at my actions and punishing me for daring to leave him. Over the last couple of weeks I have seen him lash out less and less, we have been addressing the problem and it looks to be working although he does get frustrated and regress, I am happy with the improvement in how often this happens. 

Leo is a very active little man and it goes without saying that he can get very excited, but I knew and I know that he is such a sweetheart. I hated the thought that his actions may provoke negative thoughts about my parenting and my baby boy.

Leo recently mastered the sign for 'more' and he uses it as and when he feels like it. Completely on Leo's terms of course. The other night after he had eaten his dinner and a banana, I offered him a little chocolate treat, and this treat was welcomed with an open mouth meaning it was a big hit! He sat there quietly eating his little chocolate before I saw him signing across the table at me. The cheeky little monkey was signing for more, over and over again. Being the naughty mummy that I am and because I felt that as he had signed his intentions instead of crying, I happily obliged in giving him one last little bit of chocolate.

It just goes to show that he really does know what he wants. I had previously asked him whether he wanted more dinner, and he completely ignored my question. Neither did he want a yoghurt. But then with no offer or encouragement he told me that he would like more chocolate.

Now it is time to try and implement a few other signs into our daily lives. If you are going to take up baby signing I highly recommend sticking with it as it can take a while for them to pick up the signs, but once they start picking it up they learn so fast. With my return to work signing took a back seat but since Leo turned one he has been more susceptible to picking up the signs.

So what have your little ones been up to this week?

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Monday 24 September 2012

I Am A Panasonic Intelligent Living Mum!

Panasonic is the largest consumer electronics company in the world, and as of 2012 they have over 15,000 categories of different products available to help make daily life for you and I more simple.

Panasonic is renown for their variety of electronics from televisions to stereos but do you know all about their great selection of home appliance products?

Whether you are familiar with this exciting selection or not over the next 12 months I will be telling you all about them. You see I have been chosen to take part in the very exciting Panasonic Intelligent Living Mums Project.

In this programme I will be taking part in a series of workshops that will be focusing on applying the advanced technology that is available in Panasonic products to real life situations. Being Mummy to Leo I always have a constant need for cleaning up the many messes that he is always creating, so this project is going to be a real eye opener.

The workshops will bring together the full Home Appliances range from microwave ovens, bread makers (everyone's favourite!) small kitchen appliances, irons, washing machines, tumble dryers, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators and personal care products. There really is a vast range dedicated to making our lives that little bit more simple.

Panasonic have chosen 10 Mum's and their blogs for this project, and last Thursday I had the pleasure of meeting the entire team for the very first time. I travelled to Bracknell where the Panasonic Head Office is based and we were warmly welcomed. It has to be said that the Panasonic Offices are as impressive as you would invision them in your minds eye. There are impressive televisions mounted on the walls and they even have their own Costa Coffee available in their canteen, that for me was enough reason to not return to my place of work!

The day was such an eye opener and it was lovely to see how dedicated everyone was. What I really loved was the room dedicated as a museum to past Panasonic products that in today's current technology age would be classed as retro to say the least. When I stepped into this room it was like stepping back in time, the very first double plug adapter, video cameras and mobile phones. It was truly fascinating, as I looked around I could see old VHS players that dated back to my childhood, and I realised that Leo would never know this kind of technology.

The day was spent with very informative members of the Panasonic team, and a big part of our introduction to the exciting Panasonic world was John Hardy, the Sales and Marketing Director. John was more than happy to answer any questions that we had and also fill us in on how the Panasonic company came to be all that it is today.

Panasonic was founded back in 1917 in Japan by a man named Konosuke Matsushita, it was fascinating to see how the company still operate on the same principals today as Konosuke did back in the very beginning. It was clear to me that Panasonic's main aim is to improve people's lives with helpful products that make their customer's lives easier.

It was great to see all of the Home Appliance Products that Panasonic have been working hard on and a few of my favourites were the very smart looking fridge freezer with touch screen dials for all of the controls, the washing machine and tumble dryer and of course not to forget the bread maker.

Their bread maker has actually won the Which Best Buy and is endorsed by the Good Housekeeping Institute. Which have talked about one negative point about this coveted bread maker and that is the fact that there is no viewing panel on the top. Having listened to the reasoning behind this it is clear to me that this is not a negative point, but a positive point. The reason for the bread maker not boasting a viewing window is because it will cause condensation. Condensation that will then fall back onto the dough which will ruin the loaf of bread.

All the Intelligent Living Mum's were asked to bring along a stained item of clothing so that they could work their magic on it. On a normal day in this household we have stains here there and everywhere, but on the one day I require Leo to have dirtied his clothes, he doesn't. So I went through some of Leo's old clothes looking for a suitable item that I could stain up myself. Once this item was located I took the bottle of ketchup in my hand, and I set to work on making a stain. I have to admit, this was very therapeutic!

We each handed over our stained item of clothing, I was pleased to see that I was not the only one who had sunk to the level of staining the item myself, and they were placed in the washing machine so that the magic could be worked on them. Many of the stains vanished completely, but then some of us had gone to extreme lengths and we had a few faint stains left over, however I think if it was given another spin then the ketchup would well and truly come out.

Panasonic's Home Appliance team cooked up a fantastic lunch in their fully functional kitchen using all of their products. The Bread Maker provided us with a number of different loaves of bread, all equally as tasty and delicious, not to mention the home made pizzas, banana loaf and cakes.

I have returned home with a fantastic goodie bag that included a new recipe book that I am looking forward to cooking up some new recipes with, and a new Panasonic HX-DC2 Dual Camera to put to the test over the next 12 months as we carry out product reviews of their new range and meet for product demonstrations at the Panasonic head office itself!

I am very excited to be included in this exciting project and I look forward to sharing this experience with you all. Please pop over to the other Intelligent Living Mum's blogs and say hello!

Claire at The Lazy Girl's Guide to Life 
Emma at Mummy.. Mummy.. mum! 
Filipa at Gourmet Mum 
Lucinda at Bakes Books And My Boys 
Marianne at Maris World 
Monika at Mum On The Brink 
Penny at  Are Residence 

Ruth at Geek Mummy
Sara at Walking With Angels 

Many thanks to Panasonic for such a great day and it was lovely to meet you all ladies, I look forward to our next get together at Christmas time!

The VTech Toot-Toot Garage Review

There are many occasions where I feel a little sad at the prospect of Leo growing up. With that said though now that he is getting that little bit older, the toys that he can play with are becoming more exciting! Just take the VTech Toot-Toot Drivers Garage for instance that The Entertainer Toy Shop has sent Leo to play test.

Ever since it’s arrival in our house a week ago, everyone has had a little play with it, mainly being Leo’s Daddy, Aunt, Uncle and myself. Leo was really having to battle for a go on this toy, until Mummy told everyone to leave it alone so that Leo could have a chance to play!

When the delivery arrived with Leo’s very special toy inside, he got very excited by all of the sounds and music that were ringing out from the box. From this point forward he knew there was something very special inside and he was not about to be patient with me while I opened it! While I was there with the scissors cutting away all of the plastic that was holding the much desired toy in the box, Leo was running around the room with his new tow-truck.

The interactive VTech Toot-Toot Drivers Garage is a very fun looking toy, it comes as standard with a tow-truck vehicle which is great for whizzing up and down the twists and turns of the ramp or my favourite, taking the car up in the lift, letting it roll onto the turn table, which then puts it in prime position to ride the ramp all the way to the bottom!

I know…I did tell you that we ‘grownups’ have been having a little play with it!

The tow-truck is the perfect size for little hands to hold, and Leo can be perfectly content just rolling the car around on the floor. The car itself sings and says phrases independently but when you pair it with the garage there are even more ways that they can interact between one another.

When the car goes over a sensor just before it heads down the bendy ramp, it activates the fun  ‘Weeeeee’ phrase to signify the car going down the slope. I really liked this as I had just said exactly the same thing to Leo, when the garage said it too. Leo looked at me like I was a mad woman!

The garage offers Two different modes to play around with, music mode and learning mode and you can change it at any point during game play. There is a great centre piece that features buttons to activate the lights and tunes. There really is hours of fun to be had with the garage due to the many activities that come with it, the car wash and petrol station both reward the child (and parent…) with fun sound effects and phrases relating to the activity in hand. There is even a car parking space and helipad space up on the roof for those busy days where hustle and bustle is just a constant factor in their imaginative play.

Leo does not play with it in any real context quite yet, but that will come in time. At this moment in time he loves all of the lights and music that cheer him forward in playing with his exciting garage. Watching Leo play with the garage with the bright colours and happy tunes, it is very easy to see why it is so appealing to a toddler.

What I really like about the Toot-Toot Garage is that it is all connected and relevant, and offers a great interactive base for using the garage in conjunction with the vehicles. If you place the tow-truck at the top of the ramp on the welcome stand and press the vehicle down on the sensor, the garage will recognise which vehicle is placed there. With this recognition comes a song all about that particular vehicle. As I said earlier the garage comes with the tow-truck but there is a whole range of other vehicles that you can purchase separately and use compatibly with the garage.

Leo is just coming up 15 months old, so he has a little way to go yet before he can use the garage for make believe play and benefit from all of the garages features, but he is thoroughly enjoying all of the lights and music, that in it’s self is worth it’s weight in gold as it keeps him entertained while I get on with something. And if by chance he does tire of the garage he still seems to be able to entertain himself with just the tow-truck, so I can just imagine his excitement to be in receipt of the additional vehicles!

The structure of the garage is very sturdy and is not about to get flattened by your toddler’s weight being exuded over it. I know this as I have witnessed Leo playing almost on top of it. It is very reassuring to know that it is not going to get broken accidently by Leo deciding to sit on it, the only bit I think may be considered a little delicate in the wrong hands is the helipad section that can very easily be taken on and off. Each time Leo takes it off, I place it back on but if he was to sit on it, I wouldn’t be surprised it if was to get broken. On a whole though the entire garage is extremely well built and I haven’t got any worries of Leo turning into Godzilla and crushing it into the ground.

The way that the garage is built makes it look as though there are areas to add on new bits of infrastructure. At this point in time I am pretty sure that it is just the garage and the vehicles, but there may be plans to expand the line in the future as there are places for extra bits to click into place. I think this would be great and I would be very happy to see more products in this range.

The VTech Toot-Toot Drivers Garage has been a big hit in our household, children and adults alike. I am sure that as the months go by that Leo will continue to love the garage more and more as his understanding and imagination continue to grow. We will certainly be adding some extra vehicles for the garage to Leo’s Christmas list this year!

You can purchase your VTech Toot-Toot Garage from The Entertainer Toys for £39.99. I feel this is great value for money based on the play value that Leo has shown this garage. Leo is usually the kind of mischievous little monster who would rather sit and play with the television remote control, however when the garage is out to be played with he will sit there and pay all of his attention to it.

I will leave you with a short clip of Leo enjoying his VTech Toot-Toot Garage. Please ignore the television box behind him as this had just been delivered... and the crumbs on the floor...Leo is a little terror and I did not have chance to vaccum prior! :-)

Disclaimer: I was sent the VTech Toot-Toot Garage for the purpose of this review, however all views and opinions are completely honest and my own.

Saturday 22 September 2012

Silent Sunday

Dallas is back!

You are more than likely aware that the brand new 'Dallas' has just hit our television screens in recent weeks. In celebration of the launch I have received the original Two series from Warner Bros. to trial in order to wet our appetite for the latest season.

The original Season of Dallas came around back in 1978 as a 5 episode mini series to see if there would be a call for more. The fans certainly demanded more from the Dallas cast and It proved to be so popular that it lasted for 14 whole seasons in all! It has been one of the biggest TV shows in the world until it finished in 1991.

My Mother is a big fan of the Dallas series so I thought I would hand this review over to her to talk us through the seasons and give her opinions of the two season box set.

Baring in mind that back when the show originally aired over our television set's there was none of the technology that we have today, so I  am over all impressed with the video and audio quality. The picture quality is kind of hit-&-miss in places but I would say that is to be expected,with some portions looking better than others. It may well have benefited from some digital restoration but this certainly does not direct your attention away from the captivating story lines that are just as enjoyable now as they were back then.

Season One highlights Bobby and Pam's new marriage and how Pam struggles with joining the Ewing family. On another note you meet Miss Lucy who debuts in the show as a troubled teenager. Miss Lucy soon gets involved with Ray Krebbs, who is substantially older and should have really known better. Then in a twist of fate, we later find out that Ray is her uncle! 

That is what is so gripping about Dallas though, the story lines really do have the shock factor and they reel you in and take you along for the ride.

The Two seasons are spread out over double sided disks. I found this confusing and it took me a while to work it out. My eyes aren't the greatest pair in the world and the writing on the DVDs is rather small, I did manage to watch some of the episodes in the wrong order but I still enjoyed them to the same degree as the first time around. It was great having the storylines unfolding and then it jogging that familiar chord in your mind. Like when you listen to your favourite song again for the first time in a long while.

I was so happy to have got to watch the original Dallas before the new show started, and even though it was just a small snippet of the 14 series, I have picked up the new story line with no problem at all.

The complete seasons of Dallas One and Two is available to purchase from Amazon for £13.57 and you can tune into the new Dallas each Wednesday on Channel 5 at 21:00.

Disclaimer: I was sent the Two seasons of Dallas for the purpose of this review. However all views and opinions are completely honest and my own.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

A Trip To Drayton Manor

Long before the day I became a Mummy, I have been a self confessed thrill seeker from an early age. I don’t think I had much choice in this really as my Dad has always loved theme parks. I know my parents were visiting such attractions with me in tow from around the age of 2 years old.

I recently received tickets for a day out at Drayton Manor, which happens to be right on our doorstep being just an hour’s drive away. I have not been to Drayton Manor for a few years now and I knew that they have had new rides installed and there had been some substantial changes to check out.

Of course having a 1 year old now changes everything that we as a family look for, when choosing somewhere that can cater for all of us for the day. After having a look at the Drayton Manor website I was pleased to see that there would be plenty for us to do with Leo, which is ultimately the factor that makes or breaks our decision to visit a destination.

My little brood arrived at Drayton Manor, just outside of Tamworth in timely fashion. We arrived at just after half past 10 which is the time that all of the rides are set to open, and I was pleased to see that we had picked the right day to visit. The sun was shining high in the sky and despite it being a little chilly at times, we had made a great decision to visit at the back end of the season. There were plenty of people walking around, but it was by no means busy, which meant no daunting queues!

Walking into the park you can see some of the bigger rides peaking up into the sky line, the Apocalypse for one, and although I have braved this ride in the past. I made a firm decision there and then that I would not be doing it on this visit! We soon came across Thomas Land which opened back in 2008 to everyone’s favourite Blue train. Walking in under the archway I was faced with the train controllers, I thought this was a lovely touch for the older children who were chatting away with them, and really excited to see them.

Leo is too young to know who Thomas is and he is yet to see the television programme but despite these minor details he enjoyed it none the less. There is so much going on, especially from a toddler’s perspective and I thought that the best way that Leo could experience this moment was to be un-leashed in Thomas Land.

I took Leo out of his stroller and stood him on the floor, he looked a little un-sure as Cranky the Crane Drop Tower came bumping back down to our level. He ran and gave my leg a big reassuring cuddle. I know Leo though, and I knew that it wouldn't be long before he had adjusted to his new surroundings and was feeling his brave self again. Proving me right within the next minute, I was soon following him around and trying to keep him in check. He really did not know where to look next, which meant he was running here, there and everywhere.

We stood and watched Thomas come toward us on the tracks, and Leo intently watched as Thomas’s eyes moved. He really was transfixed. There is so much to see and do in Thomas Land alone that it was worthwhile taking Leo along.

Leo is just coming up 15 months old and I was so pleased to see just how much was available for him to do in Thomas Land. Leo went on a total of four rides, and he loved each and every one of his experiences. He loved Jeremy Jet the most and steered the plane like a little champ, but he was not content in letting Daddy hit the ‘up, down’ button for long and soon had to have his way doing this too!

After we had exhausted Leo in Thomas Land we decided to go and have a wander around the rest of the park and do some more appropriate thrill seeker rides for Luke and I. Luke was eyeing up G-Force, so while he was whizzing around upside down, I sat with Leo and took in the sight of daddy hanging just above us, and then Luke reciprocated so I could have a go at the fast pace of G-Force.

We each took it in turns on the bigger rides that we wanted to have a go on, Luke even gave the Apocalypse a go!

It was great to see that there was a variety of food options available, but on this occasion we wanted to sit down for a proper lunch, so we took a short walk up the hill and found the on-site steak house. We sat down to a lovely lunch before making our way back into the park to visit the zoo. In all the times I have visited Drayton Manor this is the first time I have spent time in the zoo, and I know this is because I now have Leo to consider.

I took Leo out of the stroller so that he could see everything, he stood by the monkey’s for a short while but it was clear after only a short while of being in there that Leo’s heart lay with the Meerkat’s. The Meerkat’s were so playful and really playing to their audience, which I think is why Leo was so captivated. They were play fighting among each other and digging up the dirt before standing and staring right at the glass, right at Leo. The enclosure is perfect for a little toddler to stand independently and have the perfect view inside; it is at the perfect level.

I found the zoo housed a substantial amount of animals and reptiles, and was a great touch for the kid’s. It is by no means the biggest zoo in the world but as an addition to an already fun packed day out, it makes a nice alternative to staying on the rides all day. There is a lovely reptile house that features snakes to lizards.

There really is something for everyone.

A real positive point to the day was that the whole experience was enjoyable. I found that it was easy to navigate the park thanks to all of the readily available signage and of course the map that you are presented with when you collect your tickets. The whole day was targeted to a family day out, and despite Leo being so young there was still plenty for him to get on with and enjoy.

We picked such a perfect day to take a trip to Drayton Manor, with it being the back end of Summer most people had already visited in the height of the season. We certainly took a chance on the weather but it paid off, giving us a very enjoyable day out. We took advantage of the fact that there were no queues, and when I ventured onto Shockwave it was only myself and another man taking the ride, so we both got front row seats!

In comparison to other theme parks it is substantially smaller, but I have to say I preferred this. It was a real bonus that the car park was very close the entrance, without the hassle of travelling into the park from the car park with Leo's stroller and all the bit's and bobs that come with him. 

Drayton Manor certainly offers you value for money at £20.00 for an adult ticket and £12.00 for children over the age of Four.

We had a great day out and I look forward to taking Leo back in the near future when he is that little bit bigger, and can really get excited about Thomas Land.

Disclaimer: I was issued tickets to visit Drayton Manor, however all views and opinions are completely honest and my own.