Wednesday 31 July 2013

Home Improvement Hero

I recently heard that Money Supermarket were inviting a select few to take part in a home improvement challenge.


I was very excited to get involved and there was no question in my mind as to what needed doing in my house. In our lounge we have one big wall that is completely bare, there was absolutely nothing but a big wall of white.

In my honest opinion it needed a big splash of colour, maybe in the form of a nice big canvas.

I did some measuring up (if you count stretching out your arms to get an idea of size...) and started having a hunt through family photos. 

This was the hardest part, locating a photo of all 3 of us that could sit up on the wall and give the room a more vibrant atmosphere. After the right image had been selected I started hunting out a reasonably priced canvas company so that I could get the idea on order.

I settled on HelloCanvas and within a few days I had a very sizable canvas to get hung up on the wall. 

I went for the 36 x 56 size and I have to say that I am incredibly pleased with the finished result. It has brought a real personal feel to what was a big empty space just yearning for a big piece of family art to take away the boring, dull feel the room once had.

I think it is safe to say that this has been achieved.

I spent £89.00 on this canvas and I do think I got a real bargain.

Disclaimer: I was provided with £50.00 to take part in the #homeimprovementhero challenge. All views and opinions are my own.

How We Used to Play...

Kid’s today have such a diverse range of toys to aid learning in fun inventive ways, kid’s tablets, camera’s that actually take photos and a whole range of battery operated toys that would well and truly go on to make a very long list.

The toys Leo has to play with today pale in comparison to back when I was his age, my tech savvy 2 year old knows exactly how to un-lock my iphone and swipe through the photos. Heck he even has Luke’s old cast off iPod Touch!

Research has shown that the average child today has around £1,200 worth of toys in their home. As I look around Leo’s ever expanding toy collection I have to say I am inclined to agree with this.

In my immediate sight I spy an InnoTab Tablet, a toy washing machine, the Bubble Guppies Rock and Roll Stage, his favourite toy tractor with authentic sounds and lets not forget his army of stuffed toys, most of which have plenty to say thanks to the voice box in the back of their stuffing!

In the past 20 years toys really have become far more sophisticated, but we used to play very differently.

Once upon a time there were no batteries, toys relied heavily on the imagination of the child at the end of the strings. There were no flashy lights and no computer generated sounds, and absolutely anything could happen in the make believe game you dream up.

npower recently launched an energy archive on called 'Remember How We Used To...' - They have launched this archive to take us back over the years and to show us all just how much energy has transformed our lives.

Leo and I took part in a very interesting challenge assigned to us by npower to help them see how a child would feel about toys from back in the day. 

The challenge was to put away all of our electronic toys for one whole weekend and play with toys from back in the day. Interestingly enough many of the toys we were sent for the challenge are still in existence today, or the idea at least. Of course they have been modified for use in 2013 but they have never been forgotten.

In our challenge set we had:

-          A wooden Puppet
-          A tin Cash Register
-          Play dough
-           Kaleidoscope
-          Mr Potato Head

When the toys arrived I was discussing the challenge with Leo’s Granny and I was intrigued to discover just how far back Mr Potato Head went. Back in the day of my Mother’s childhood he was merely a potato (a real one!) that you stuck body parts in. Of course today we have the very well-known Potato Head that many of you will recognise from the ever popular Toy Story series!

Not long after the box arrived we were packing up to go away to Devon and to be staying in an old barn conversion. I saw the opportunity to take the toys along and take part in the challenge, so I simply took only this box of toys along with us. I knew this way there was no chance of one of Leo’s many electronic toys cropping up on us…

Leo didn’t take long to get his hands into the very lovely tin cash register, he loved playing with it just as much as he does his electric one at home. It has lovely big buttons that he can push in and even make the register ping open. This is a toy that will never loose it’s place in the grand scheme of things, kids love to role play. Many of the most popular toys are simply toy versions of general day to day objects.

The kaleidoscope took me right back to when I was about 5, I remember being allowed to choose one toy from Woolworths and I chose the Kaleidoscope. I haven’t actually seen one in the shops for the longest time, and I think it was actually Granny and I who enjoyed all of the shapes and colours hiding within this toy more than the toddler. Leo did give it a try but I think this will be something he ‘grows into’.

The wooden puppet was really fun to dance around the lounge, admittedly Leo was a little scared of it…For what reasons I will never be completely sure of. He did however say ‘No Mumma’ through the screams that ensued shortly before I listened to him and put the puppet back in his box.

Granny was telling us all about the puppet she had as a child, how back then a puppet was the kind of toy you would receive as a main Christmas present. That alone shows you just how far we have come, todays bigger Christmas gifts come in the form of tablets and computers, but back in the day…Puppets were the current fad!

We had great fun with the Play dough, this was Leo’s very first experience with it and I did wonder whether he may try and eat it or not. In all honesty though, Leo has always been pretty good with the whole not putting things in his mouth. Leo adored the play dough, even though all he really did was roll it around in his hands. When I was little Mum would always make the play dough from scratch for us, we could then colour it with food colouring and make it as bright as we liked! I think maybe soon Leo and I will have to have a go at making up some home-made play dough.

I feel that the challenge was a big success, Leo didn’t mind the fact that the 50’s style toys were not electronic, he didn’t mind one bit. I think that many of these listed above are classics and that is why they are still in production today. One thing is for sure though, and taking part in this challenge really opened up my eyes to how many toys my little guy has, how much technology has come along over the years and just how tech savvy kids today actually are.

Disclaimer: I was provided with the above toys to take part in the npower challenge. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday 29 July 2013

The New H&A Bath Time Range

Bath time is a time that comes once every day in our house, as Leo has got older it has become increasingly apparent to me that it really is an essential time of the day.

Leo seems to have a way about him that encourages anything and everything dirty to stick to him. It is almost as though he is a magnet and the dirt is being pulled by a polarised attraction. Dare I tell you about the day a week or so ago that I actually put him in WHITE linen trousers? Dare I tell you about what happened less than 5 minutes after I put them on him? 

Juice... That is what happend.

Then of course the grass stains followed...

Bath time... Yes bath time happens every day in our house.  

At this moment in time Leo isn't really enjoying his baths. He has gone back to standing and refusing to sit, so I am always on the look out for ways to encourage him to sit down in the tub. As luck would have it he has recently got really into Disney films and cartoons, so we are entering a whole new stage of persuasion that I can use to my advantage. 

Character merchandise!

H&A have launched a new soft and gentle range to get your mucky pup through the bubble and squeak that is bath time, and out the other side looking like prince charming! There are some really well known characters in the new line up:

- Thomas & Friends
- Minnie Mouse 

The new range has been specially formulated for our little people. I have used products with Leo in the past and with his sensitive skin it has completely dried it out, but these bubbles have been nothing but kind to his skin. The fun character designs mean that our growing babies can start to move away from the traditional baby bath ranges, and even start to pick their favourite cartoon characters!

Each of the character selections have a Soft and Gentle Shampoo and Bubbly Bath to complete the bath time experience. We have been asked to try out these new products with Leo, and picked the lovable Finding Nemo to help us along on our daily cleaning ritual.  

Leo has loved pointing out Nemo on the packaging and has even helped pour the bubbles into his bath. You only need a drop of the bubble bath for a nice frothy bath, and as Leo always points the bubbles out I know he was suitably impressed! Fitting in with bath time at present Leo decided that he wasn't going to sit down at all which made getting photos of him rather difficult. 

The shampoo lathers up perfectly and you don't need much at all, of course Leo was very pleased about this as having his hair washed is by far the worst thing about bath time. What is great about the shampoo is that it doesn't run, and saves those little eyes from the soapy bubbles that occasionally drop in to say hello.

As a parent of a child who does react to certain bath products I think the new h&a range is fun and perfect for Leo's needs. I like that there is a subtle fragrance to both the bubble bath and the shampoo but is not too over powering, and is the perfect sign of a freshly washed bubba who is ready to head to bed. 

H&A is currently running a Try me, love me, money back guarantee on this new bath time range. All you have to do is pick up a pack featuring a special sticker in your local Sainsbury’s store, and give the products a go for yourself. At £2.00 each per item I think it is very competitively priced, especially for the characters featuring on the bottles.

If your little one is at a age where they can tell you which character they would rather choose, let them! It may make bath time that little bit easier. In hind sight I think that Leo would have probably chosen the Thomas & Friends after he has recently fallen in love with 'Choo Choo's'.

You can keep up to date with H&A on their Facebook Page and of course their official website.

Happy splashing!

Sunday 28 July 2013

The Boy Next Door

Oh to be 2 years old again...

Young, innocent and running with the whole world at your feet.

It's so easy to make friends at 2.

You can simply walk up to the fence dividing your garden from the next and stare through the small gap into next door's garden. 

There is no worry that new people won't like you. You don't even think about it. You don't know any different.

I guess that is why it is all so easy..So natural and lovely to perceive. 

You don't worry about standing at that gap in the fence watching the neighbours eat their dinner in the glorious sunshine, and they don't seem to mind you shouting about all the things you can see as you stare in, or the words you repeat after their children...

'Football' 'Dad' 'Mum' 'What!'

You can shout 'found you' from the top of your slide as you continue to stare innocently into their patch of green. Finally the little boy spots you after all of your attempts to make contact with him. 

You can get excited and use your words to talk to him. 
'Cat, Meow' 

He's a bit older than you but he seems just as excited by you, as you do him.

You and the kitty stand there together both as inquisitive as each other. Both wanting to be involved in the laughter on the other side. 

You can sneakily widen the peep hole so that you can pass toys back and forth with the young boy who has now become the reason you love to go into the garden.

You can laugh like a mad man when the kitty escapes through the now very wide peep hole.

You can tell Mummy to take the fence down, just so you can see your new friend better. 

You pout when Mummy explains that this just isn't possible. 

You get home from a day at Granny's and instantly shout 'where are you'. your telling me you wish to go outside. You want to see your little friend.

It's amazing how you both stand there at that peep hole for as long as you do. 

Captivated by each other, two little boys wanting to tear down the fence and play.

Maybe the time has come to see if the boy next door would like to come over to see you. 

Maybe it is time you meet face to face.

The Mega Blok First Builders Review

I have been meaning to pick up a Mega Bloks set for Leo for quite some time now, but The Entertainer saw we were lacking and not getting our act together quickly enough, and sent out a selection for Leo to have a play with. 

Leo was sent a few toys from the First Builders range, a new range developed to promote fun learning, physical development and creativity. In our goodie box we had 3 toys to get playing with:

- The Big Building Bag - RRP £15.00

- The ABC Spell Bloks - RRP £10.00 - At the time of writing 
this review they are on offer at £7.50

- Dylan Dump Truck - RRP £10.00

The First Builders range have lovely chunky blocks that are easy for little hands to assemble and are really simple for them to stack and build with. Leo wasted no time in getting the bloks out of their bag and enjoyed building the bloks up tall, only to knock them all down again moments later. The same can be said for when I got slightly engrossed in building a tower...He knocked those down too.

I have lost Leo to the building bloks on multiple occasions and he thoroughly enjoys playing builder, building up high and building down low. The ABC Spell Bloks are really great for kids learning their letters, or just if you wish to make those first introductions with the kids. The bigger bloks have pictures on them and then of course the smaller bloks have letters, this allows you to show little ones how to spell the name of the image.

For instance...

Out of the entire selection of toys that was sent over there is one very firm favourite. Dylan Dump Truck.

Dylan is exactly what Leo would have picked should he have been wandering around the toy shop himself. He is bright and most importantly...He has wheels. Anything and everything with wheels these days is sure to be a hit with Leo, and add in some building bloks for good measure and you have an instant playtime hit.

Dylan is perfect for toddlers from the age of 1 and up, he will appeal to them through the bright colours and big friendly smiley face. 

 The truck bed can be loaded with the six included blocks or even with the small Timmy Sheep plush Leo has taken to popping in the back, I have to admit I did take a double glance on the first occasion this happend... The truck is easily gripped by small hands along the top and sides of the truck and continues to come out to play on a daily basis. 

I think Mega Bloks are great to encourage little ones to 'build' and 'construct' from a young age, I know as a child I adored building blocks and even had my very own set of Mega Bloks. It is great to see Leo enjoying a classic range of toys that have been improved for a whole new generation of little monsters.

Disclaimer: I was sent the above selection of Mega Bloks for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.

Summer Holiday's

I have spent the last couple of months saving hard, saving for a holiday to Cyprus for my little family of three.  It will come as no surprise to you all to hear that holidays do not come cheap, and if you add a 2 year old to the equation they become dearer still.

We have made a few sacrifices in order to be able to jet off on our holidays this year, those takeaway treats have been supplemented for home cooked meals and those rare trips to the cinema have stopped all together.

Instead of day trips to the farm park and the zoo we have been sourcing local family fun, trips to the park and enjoying the great outdoors has really helped us out; of course this beautiful weather couldn’t have come at a better time. The heat wave has meant that we can happily relax out in the garden with the paddling pool as Leo splashes in and out.

Where I would usually head out to the shops in search of a whole new summer wardrobe to pack into my awaiting suitcase, I have resisted the urge to spend and will be taking last year’s summer clothes instead. Of course where I can get away with last year’s clothing Leo cannot, not with the rate he grows! This year Leo was in need of an entire new summer wardrobe, so I have been hitting up Primark for bargain summer clothes that he can take away on his holidays.

You can only plan so far ahead, and when travelling abroad it is good to go in with your eyes wide open. I have been looking into the best credit cards that I could possibly use abroad in case of an emergency or a un-foreseen cost sneaks up on us. Luckily for me my credit report on the preview site is on side, and I will be travelling with the added peace of mind that I have that extra back up behind me should push come to shove.

You only need to look back to April 2010 when the volcano erupted in Southern Iceland, to see just how quickly circumstances can change. That one volcano and the prolonged ash cloud caused dramatic flight cancellations throughout the world. I was actually in Egypt at the time and my holiday was extended by a few days until we were picked up on a rescue flight. Luckily for Luke and I we were covered by our tour operator, those who had booked the hotel and their flights independently were not as lucky. They had to pay the hotel for the duration they were stuck there; they had to pay for their food and even their eventual flight back home again.

It just goes to show that you can never be prepared for every eventuality.

But you can try.

Disclaimer: This is a featured post

Thursday 25 July 2013

In The Night Garden Live - The Pinky Ponk Show Review

Having such a big In The Night Garden fan within my midst, there has been a very BIG date on our calendar for the last couple of months.

July 25th 2013.

In The Night Garden Live is exactly what you may think, your little one's favourite television programme brought to life right before their eyes. There are two different live shows to take your pick from.

Leo and I invited along some very close friends of ours to share this amazing experience with us. Leo's best friend and her adorable 6 month old baby sister. We were all really excited and started looking into the options available to make the day as magical as possible.

I had a look into what each of the shows were about and eventually decided to go with the Pinky Ponk Show. I made this decision based on how Macca Pacca played a big part in the runnings of the show, as it is no secret that Leo absolutely loves Macca Pacca.

We were booked into standard seating and decided to add some extra goodies into our In The Night Garden Live experience, so I decided to pre-book 2 goodie bags at the special rate of £20.00 each due to booking before the show (£25.00 on the day). I then decided to book in the toddlers to meet Iggle Piggle after the show just to keep that magic alive for them that little bit longer.

We had been talking about our immanent trip to the Night Garden for weeks, and it was only the other night that I discovered the Show Dome in all of it's glory. You see when you visit the show you are not in a standard theater...Oh no! You are welcomed into the inflatable dome that is fully equipped with everything you could imagine. 

- A very generous amount of space. Plenty of room to park your pushchairs!
- Baby changing facilities and plenty of loo's for you!
- Big fans to keep you cool on warm day (it was still pretty warm)
- Heaters to keep you warm on colder days
- Plenty of In The Night Garden merchandise 

We attended the showing at Cannon Hill Park in Birmingham, and having never been to this park before I was instantly impressed on the setting surrounding the Show Dome. There is plenty of space for the kids to run around before the show, and some lovely play equipment for them to really expand some energy.

We were running late after our picnic and actually walked in just after it had started, I have to admit I had been worried about not getting a very good seat but even if you are seated right at the back like we were, you have a perfect view. The seating is staggered as it goes up so that you can see straight over the heads of those seated in front of you, and in all honesty I think we ended up with some pretty good seats because we could see everything sitting at the very top, and those in the priority seating may have struggled some what as they were so close to the stage. I also have a sneaky feeling that if we had been sat as close to the stage as those at the very front... I would have had a very red face as I apolagised to Macca Pacca when Leo decides to run wild all over the stage....  

As we walked in just after the show had kicked off, Macca Pacca was already on centre stage. Leo walked up the steps and instantly spotted his hero. He stopped right in his tracks. Then he sat down right in the middle of the steps blocking everyone coming up behind him. 

The magic had begun.

I picked Leo up and took him up to sit down, Leo and his little friend were instantly engrossed in their favourite show coming to life right before them. Leo just kept telling me 'Macca Pacca' and hung on tight to the brouchure he had been given on arrival. 

The toddlers clapped when every act finished, they clapped with all that they could muster.  

As a parent taking a toddler I have to say that I was over the moon with the entire performance. So much attention has gone into all of it. From the stage, the set to the projections onto the dome walls. There is something bright and magical happening in every direction. The characters voices are in the background so you can work out who is coming along to say hello next, it made our two toddlers look all around them, just in case they were behind them. 

I loved how the sizes of the characters had been taken into consideration, the Pontipines made an appearance and true to life they were the smallest characters on stage. Macca Pacca is full sized in some sets where as in others where he is with Iggle Piggle or Uppsy Daisy he is a puppet, very cleverly brought to life by on stage actors. 

The show followed Macca Pacca as he went about cleaning all of the most popular characters faces, of course this called for bubbles. Macca Pacca makes a lot of bubbles when he is giving everyone a good wash, and it was a lovely surprise for all of us when bubbles flew out at the audience. 

The performance followed a typical episode and even had the birds tweeting and the story re-cap towards the end. I liked this as it gave the kid's a sense of where they were in the show and knew when it was nearing the end. 

When the show did come to an end though, Leo demanded 'more'. So I am guessing that he is going to love watching this short clip back over and over again. If you are planning on going, hopefully this short clip will give you an idea of what to expect.

The whole day is absolutely fantastic, and I highly recommend booking a meeting with one of the characters. For us this just rounded up a super duper day and I know that it was really appreciated by our toddlers. 

If you pre-book then you can take a seat and let the little one's do some colouring while you await your name to be called out.  While we were waiting Leo did manage to run at the lady holding all of the helium balloons, just so that he could give the balloons a wobble! The poor lady looked a little shocked... You can always count on my boy to let you know you have him!

Leo also decided at this point to run away from me. He literally upped and left the show dome. I ended up chasing after him all the way down the path until I retrieved him, only to find I had missed our names being called on multiple occasions! Luckily they let us straight in to meet Mr Iggle Piggle!

We were invited into a curtained room where we received a one on one experience, the £15 ticket is for 2 adults and 2 children and I found it really personal for Leo and his little friend. 

Leo was a little bit nervous at first and started to walk backwards out of the room, I vaguely re-call a few 'No, No No's' being shouted....But as soon as we were behind that curtain and on our own with the big man in Blue himself, he relaxed and got caught up in the magic once again.

We were with Iggle Piggle for a good 5 minutes or so, where we got the chance to have our photos taken and even just stare at him. Even us Mummy's posed for a photo or two! It is not everyday you meet Iggle Piggle after all...

With an amazing day behind us and many new memories made we left feeling really pleased with our experence, the experience we had given to our toddlers. Toddlers who had quite obviously had the most amazing day ever!

Within 10 minutes of being in the car, all 3 kids were spark out and dreaming dreams of the Night Garden. Both with new plush toys of their favourite characters. One Macca Pacca and one Uppsy Daisy. Both with goodie bags full of treats for their magical day. Both with fond memories of their magical heroes. 

In The Night Garden Live is not the cheapest family day out, for the 5 of us to go it would have cost us £90.00 for our standard seating, and then of course we opted for goodie bags and a character meeting which would have brought our total to £145.00. 

I do highly recommend a visit if you have little ones who enjoy In The Night Garden aged 2+, but I do think the prices are expensive. A child costs exactly the same as an adult does, and you even have to pay for a baby in arms. They do offer a discount for a baby under 6 months but that is still £10 for a baby who won't even remember being in attendance (that goes for a newborn baby too!) I do think that a baby should be free maybe upto a year...But that is just my personal opinion and may be the make or break decision if you are thinking of going along. 

The prices aside though, the real reason you are going is to show your little one the magic on stage and it is surely an experience that will bring out lot's of smiles, excited giggles and a whole host of memories that will live on for a long time. My little man has gone to bed tonight with both of his Macca Pacca dolls either side of his head and I am sure he is dreaming up sweet dreams of his magical day.

Pip Pip Onk Onk!

Disclaimer: I was provided with a family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) to visit In The Night Garden Live and share my experience with you. We paid for the baby in arms to come along and also our goodie bags and character experience. All views are completely honest and my own. 

Wednesday 17 July 2013

The Jakayaan Balance Bike Review & Giveaway

I am sat here watching my little man.

My little man who has suddenly become a very grown up two year old.

A little boy who now whizzes circles around me on his very first bike.

Just look at him go…

This is the Lloyds Worcester Jakayaan Balance Bike, and it is the perfect first bike for toddlers aged 2 and up. This bike is extra special as Lloyds Worcester are actually a local company for me. They are a small family run business based in Worcestershire and their main aim is to provide top quality products at realistic prices.

The Jakayan Balance Bike is constructed out of solid Birch Plywood which gives the structure of the bike a lovely solid feel, but at the same time keeps it light enough for a toddler to maneuver and handle all by himself.   

Leo has been completely smitten with his new bike since it’s arrival just over a month ago, he has taken every single opportunity to get outside and go up and down Granny’s long winding drive. Over the weeks I have seen how Leo handles the bike improve dramatically, and now he is exceptionally confident in getting on and off, turning the bike around at the top and bottom of the drive and is even picking up a bit of speed on the small slope!

Max at Lloyds Worcester Ltd has very kindly sent the Jakayaan Balance Bike over for Leo to try out, he even put it together for us and personally dropped it off so that it was all ready for Leo to find when we got back to Granny’s. As I personally haven’t put it together I cannot tell you exactly how long it takes to assemble or whether it is a complicated process, but the end result is sure to get the same level of hype from your little ones as it did from Leo.

If you do struggle putting it together or just want to see how it is done, Lloyds Worcester do have a great guide on how to get it up and running. Having watched the video on how to assemble the bike I can see that it is very straightforward, and it won't be long before your little one is whizzing circles around you too. 

As soon as Leo saw his new set of wheels he was up and gone. On that first evening we were outside over an hour as he rode up and down the drive. Leo sat on the seat walking the bike along, he looked so incredibly proud of himself while he followed his young Auntie along on her electric scooter.

I think this is one of the reasons that the Jakayaan Balance Bike has been such a big hit with Leo, he can get out and play with the big kids. He can try his luck in keeping up with them, and when he is on it everyone watches him…Boy does my little guy love an audience.

In recent weeks Leo has become so much more confident in how he rides his bike, I have noticed him picking up more speed as he pushes himself around. Leo can push himself up the bump on the drive and even back down again (he loves the speed he picks up as he goes).

The bike doesn't have pedals or brakes and it is for this reason that it is perfect for younger children, Leo uses his feet to start moving and also stop. He has had no issues at all in getting used to riding his bike, and I think it is such a great way for him to learn all about balancing himself as he learns to ride a bike.

The fact that the balance bike has no pedals makes it perfect for Leo who is just learning how to get around on it. I don’t have to worry about Leo getting any clothes caught up in a bike chain and he doesn't have to worry about learning to pedal just yet. The Jakayaan bike is giving Leo a chance to find his feet and his balance, in the not so distant future I can see Leo zooming down the drive with his feet firmly off the ground as he balances the bike to go exactly where he wants.

In fleeting moments where Leo has got off the bike, I have stolen the chance to have a proper look at the Jakayaan Balance Bike for myself. The pneumatic wheels that support the bike are great over bumps and slopes…As Leo has discovered. 

The handles are covered in foam for those ‘accidental falls’ that take place every once in a while when he loses his balance and tilts one way or another. The handle bar has been designed so that there is a limited amount of steering, this prevents Leo from turning the front wheel to far around and coming off. The front forks of the bike have been angled in such a way that it helps the bike (and the rider) to keep going straight, Leo turns the bike himself by standing up and turning the bike in the direction he wishes to go, before sitting back down and jetting off again.

The Jakayaan logo is hot stamped onto the side of the bike, and looks far more swanky than any sticker ever would. The logo is not going to become tatty over time, and the whole bike still looks as shiny as the day it first arrived, and it has certainly been put through it's paces over the last month. One day when Leo has outgrown this bike, I will be putting it safely away for any future children I go on to have. It is one of those classic toys that can be passed down through the generations and can be enjoyed time and time again.

I have often raved about my love for solid wooden toys that stand the test of time, and this bike is one of those toys. 

There is a choice of two seat covers in the box, one Pink and one Blue each embroided with the Jakayaan motif. The seat cover choice is great if you are buying the balance bike as a joint present for a brother and sister, that way there really is no arguing over the colour preference. I know this is something that my brother and I could have done with back in the day... Leo is currently sporting the Blue cover but if he does fancy a bit of a change, the Pink one is always on hand to do so.

The seat of the bike can be adjusted to suit your child very simply and this is is again shown in the assembly video. There are four levels to use so that you can get the very most out of your Jakayaan Bike.

- 32 cm
- 35  cm
- 37.5 cm
- 40 cm

 I can see that this balance bike is going to last Leo a long time and will see him through until he is ready for a bigger bike with pedals and brakes! The balance bike will be helping Leo in preparation for the next stage of bike and is going to really help the transition in ‘learning to ride a bike’, who knows he may even skip the stabilisers stage if he nails his balance on his Jakayaan!

So how much does a Jakayaan Balance Bike cost? Now this may surprise you. Are you sitting down? 

That is a whole lot of bike for your money! 

The quality and detail that has gone into this very popular bike makes it worth every single penny. I would highly recommend this bike for any of you with second birthday presents to buy soon as Leo was absolutely over the moon to see this bike. 

The price of £52.99 is inclusive of delivery to mainland United Kingdom (excludes Scottish Highlands and islands), but for those of you further afield who are interested in a Jakayaan balance Bike you can visit the website Jakayaan website.

You can keep up to date with all that is Jakayaan over on their Twitter Page and of course their Facebook Page. Make sure you say hello as they are such a lovely team and always happy to answer any of your questions. 

Of course if you have any questions about the balance bike, I am more than happy to try and answer them for you.

I will leave you with a short video of Leo enjoying his time on the bike, there are snippets from the very first day right through to now. You can see how he has come along, how his confidence levels have risen and just how much fun he has been having!


How would you like the chance to win a Jakayaan Balance Bike of your very own? I have one to give away to one very lucky reader. All you have to do is follow the Rafflecopter entry methods below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway ends on the 17th August 2013 and is open to the whole of UK Mainland.

Good Luck!

Disclaimer: I was provided with the Lloyds Worcester Jakayaan Balance Bike for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are my own personal experiences with this bike and all photos/videos are my own.

A Sunny Evening In The Garden

With Summer finally here we have been making the most of the sunny days and the long evenings.
Tonight has been spent like most other nights.
Spending time in the great outdoors with the sun still beaming down on us at 7pm.
Late for bathtime.
Late for bedtime.

Only tonight I had the camera with me to snap some of the excitement.

Leo and Tigger chasing each other around.
The laughter as Leo dangles long grass for Tig to paw.
Leo following Tig in and out of the playhouse, 
Tig pouncing on Leo as he enters the play tunnel.
More laughter.

The moment Leo decided to run down the slide instead of slide...
Then of course climbing back up again despite being told not to...again.
The cat playing in the dirt.
Leo following the cat into the flower bed.

Leo standing on top of the slide to have a little chat with the little boy next door.
Telling him all about his cat.
All about Tigger's meow.

Stolen moments outside, when really the toddler should have been tucked up fast asleep in bed.
Stolen moments that were so worth the price of delaying the mundane bedtime routine.
That can wait for another night.

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Pampers #babyblanket

Pampers is encouraging the nation to celebrate the birth of the royal baby by sharing their good wishes and support via Twitter #babyblanket and over the next two weeks.

Pampers will be knitting these messages of support into a baby blanket for the new parents, and are hoping to create the world’s largest baby blanket composed of best wishes. For every message sent to the blanket, Pampers will be donating a nappy to family support charity Home-Start UK (aiming to reach a quarter of a million nappies). 

You can keep up to date with how Pampers is getting on with their record-breaking attempt by viewing a live stream at The blanket will also be being knitted live at Westfield Shopping Centre (Shepherd’s Bush) between 18 - 21 July, and then will be unveiled later this month at a location to-be-confirmed!  Once the blanket has been completed, Pampers will be donating framed sections of the blanket to a number of children’s hospitals across the UK.

If there is one thing I wish someone had said to me on the run up to giving birth, it would be 'Don't stress' because every pregnancy, ever labor is different. No two are ever the same and someone else's bad experience will not become yours. Try and enjoy the moment because it is the start of the rest of your life.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post

Friday 12 July 2013

The Tommee Tippee Video, Movement & Sound Monitor Review

Baby Monitors are an essential piece of equipment.

I am sure we have all given the range available to us a lot of thought before we have decided on 'the one' that we want to help us safeguard our sleeping babies. I know that I certainly did back in 2011 when I was in the market for a monitor. I took into account a number of factors and even read other peoples reviews on them. 

Did I want a video monitor? For a while yes I did, but then I talked myself out of it as I had images of just siting there watching my sleeping newborn. In the end I ended up with a movement and sound monitor but always lusted after the video monitor I let slip me by.

I was sent the Tommee Tippee Video Movement & Sound Monitor to review, and couldn't wait to make the transition from audio to video. I was intrigued to see exactly what my little guy gets up to when he is left to his own devices.

The monitor is really easy to set up and once up and running provides crystal clear sound. You can hear absolutely everything, from the moment your little munchkin decides to awaken your cosy slumber with the wails and screams for ‘Mumma’ and ‘Dada’. Or even the happy giggles when they wake up in that absolutely glowing mood.

But not only can you hear them. You can see them.

The video monitor is amazing. I am not going to beat around the bush, I really rate it. When we received the monitor we were having some trouble with Leo's sleep. I found the monitor in-valuable at this time as it let me see absolutely everything that Leo was doing. I could see Leo standing up in his cot and I could hear him screaming so i knew straight off that sleep was certainly not immanent. 

That night Leo screamed for 1 hour and 45 minutes. He stood up screaming at me for what felt like forever. I wondered if he would give in and go to sleep as we hadn't had to practice controlled crying for a very long time.  Eventually he sat down in his cot, and then lay down before he fell asleep and slept all night long.

I was going into Leo and soothing him and then retreating back to the washing up, I felt more confident knowing that I could glance at the monitor to see how he was doing. I could see the progress he was making and when he FINALLY went off to sleep, I was really proud of myself and my video monitor.

I have put together a short video that shows the monitor in use, it shows you just how great the night vision camera is and also how loud my toddler can scream when he wants to. It takes you through the motions of my night the evening he cried for 1 hour and 45 whole minutes, but don't fret it has been edited and is by no means that long! 

You will also see the talk back function as my little man tells me he wants 'more' meaning he wants his milk bottle topped up...and finally you will see the kitten jumping around in Leo's bed, solving the mystery of Leo's laughing after the lights go out.

The Tommee Tippee Digital Video Movement & Sound Monitor comes with a pad. The Pad is installed under the cot mattress and is designed to detect your baby’s movements within the cot. If there is no movement for 20 seconds an alarm is sounded to alert you to a potential problem, meaning you can get in there pronto.

I have found the sound clarity absolutely brilliant with this monitor (along with the video), I can put Leo to bed and come back downstairs to hear him chatting away to himself before he succumbs to his sleep. You can alter the sensitivity depending on what you want to hear, if you don’t want to hear absolutely everything in the room you can simply turn down how sensitive the monitor is to sound, or if you are like me and want to hear everything that is going on you can put it on the maximum setting.

I have had absolutely no problems with reception, and throughout the whole house I have full signal thanks to the 300mm range. 

When Leo wakes up from his nap it is lovely to be able to re-assure him before I get up the stairs to him. making use of the two way talk back. My old monitor didn't have this feature and it has done wonders in keeping Leo calm. We have had our up's and down's with Leo's sleep and just being able to settle him without having to physically go into his room has been super.

Admittedly we have had a few false alarms with the movement pad, it has gone off in the middle of the night and woken us all up, Leo included as the alarm sounds in the baby’s room as well as on the parent listening device. 

I can't quite fathom why it has gone off sometimes, granted Leo does move around the cot a lot and for the most part has been completely off the mat before it has sounded. On a couple of occasions though he has been right on the mat and it has gone off for seemingly no reason. I do need to have a proper look at the settings to see what is going wrong here.

That said though, I would much rather have a false alarm than the alternative, and it is safe to say that when the alarm does go off, it WILL wake you up and get you in there. Each time it has gone off I have been up and out of bed before I have even opened my eyes.

Another time you will hear the alarm is if you neglect to turn the monitor off before you pick baby up out of the cot, you do soon learn to switch it off before you take him out, after you have been caught jumping out of your skin once or twice when you have forgotten to do so.

We have actually taken the mat off Leo's cot now that he is two whole years old, but I think it is a great idea and something that definitely provided me with the reassurance I needed in those early months. If and when I do have another baby I will certainly be re-using this.

The nursery unit has a night light which omits a calming glow into the room, it doesn't shed much light but is enough for you too see the monitor and not disturb the sleeping child. The nursery unit gauges the temperature in the room and displays it on the parenting device unit. I have found this feature really helpful in keeping Leo the right temperature. I always worry whether he is too hot or too cold, so it is nice to be able to glance at the unit and know for sure.

I have found this bit of kit really easy to work and fit into our lifestyle, besides the false alarms we experienced I think the monitor is really great. I will never be able to go back to a audio monitor again as I have found it so incredibly useful. I love being able to keep an eye on Leo when I physically can't be in the room with him.

I do highly recommend this baby monitor and you can currently pick it up for £126.00 on Amazon at the point of writing this review. 

Disclaimer: I was sent the Tommee Tippee Digital Video, Movement & Sound Monitor for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions expressed are my own and have come from my personal experience with this product.