Thursday 25 December 2014

Christmas 2014

As Christmas morning arrived Leo awoke. It was still early when I heard the plodding of his size 11 feet coming along the landing. He had awoken and made his way straight to my room, completely missing the stocking full of presents hung on the inside of his bedroom door. It didn't take Leo long to clamber into bed and ask for the Lego Movie to be popped on the television, but it was a nice quiet half hour as we all came around and woke up slowly. Eventually I fetched the stocking of gifts so that Leo could sit quietly in bed and open them, to my surprise it became apparent that he wasn’t in the mood for presents quite yet.

Once we had all managed to keep our eyes open we made our way downstairs, only to come face to face with an abundance of Christmas presents. Santa really had been in the night! The excitement bubbled in Leo and he raced towards the Christmas Tree to find a present to open, but as Daddy was not yet downstairs, Leo was informed he had to be patient and wait a little bit longer to open his gifts. Of course informing a 3 year old to ‘wait’ when it comes to opening presents went down like a lead balloon… And somewhere between then and Daddy making his arrival in the living room we had lost Leo to a rather bad mood. Even when instructed that he could now begin opening his gifts, Leo was not interested, he did not want to play ball. Leo strode over to the lounge door and said ‘I don’t like you! I slam the door!’ and proceeded to do just that, before having a cry on the stairs… It wasn’t exactly the morning of excitement I had in mind!

I happened to know of one special gift that Santa had brought for Leo, a gift that he had set up on the landing all ready for one very lucky little boy, and at this point it seemed like the only way to put a smile back on his face again. Taking him in my arms I carried Leo back up the stairs to where there was a rather big present, I began to help him remove the wrapping paper until we revealed Leo’s shiny new train table! Of course as soon as he saw the tracks lay in wait, he couldn’t un-wrap the rest quickly enough.

This was where Leo spent the first few hours of Christmas, and I suddenly remembered why we had wanted to wait until later to show him where Santa had left this present… Once Leo’s mood had made a complete U-turn and those dark grey clouds had cleared from over his head, we knew it was safe to head back downstairs and begin opening some more of Santa’s gifts.

The morning quickly dissolved into the afternoon and as usual Christmas was running on full speed ahead. Presents were slowly opened and then played with before moving on to anything else, which of course is why it took Leo a good few days to open all of his gifts, but it was so lovely to see him enjoying and appreciating each of his new possessions.

With such a busy morning behind us we were all really pleased to sit down for Christmas lunch, Roast Turkey and all the trimmings, Pigs in Blankets, Roast Potatoes and Stuffing. A feast fit for a king, Leo had been talking about Christmas Dinner for weeks on the run up to the big day, but I knew he was going to take one look at it and refuse to eat it… I was right. He did. So while the rest of the family tucked into a delicious lunch… Leo decided he would sit and eat Brioche before discovering a love for Cheese and biscuits and feasted away on many of those!

We pulled crackers…Leo almost went flying on more than one occasion, but he spent the entire time chuckling away. He even wore his cracker hat with the rest of us before quickly running away back to his train table at the end of the meal.

The evening was spent over at Leo’s Granddad’s partners house, where even more gifts were bestowed upon him, more food was consumed and Mummy may have had one or two glasses of bubbly! With the moon high in the sky and Christmas day coming to an end, we let some fireworks off into the night sky to see a final dazzle of glitter before Christmas was over.

Leo received some lovely gifts and I am still trying to sort through his toy boxes in order to make room. His favourite gifts by far were his Nintendo 2DS which is proving a luxury on car trips and meals out in order to keep him entertained, and of course the Train Table that is getting daily play action.

Another Christmas has shone like a shooting star and twinkled away for another year, but seeing Leo enjoy the magic and listen out for Santa Clause was such a beautiful experience, and this is just the very tip of the magic to come.

Wednesday 24 December 2014

The Polar Express 2014

Each year we take a trip on the Polar Express, each year since Leo was a baby in arms. It has become an annual family tradition that we look forward to, and in turn it is now an occasion that Leo himself looks forward to and enjoys with us.

On Christmas Eve we arrived at the train station and found ourselves greeted by the rolling steam as the steam train got ready to depart the station for the North Pole. Leo gallivanted down to the platform, skipping with excitement as he went. He had been talking about the Polar Express for weeks, and watching it on DVD equally as much… In fact he had been watching it since last Christmas!

The Polar Express looked incredibly Christmassy decked out in tinsel and if you didn’t know you were heading to the North Pole before embarking, you would soon find out due to the festive cheer and decorations on board.  We took our seats and Leo chatted excitedly about the train and the impending journey, he talked about Santa Clause and maybe getting a present from the man in red himself. The Polar Express began to move forward slowly and more steam began to rumble alongside us, we began to pick up speed and before long we had left the station completely behind as we ploughed across open country and on to the North Pole.

Surprisingly the journey to the North Pole doesn’t take as long as you perhaps might expect, and very soon we were chugging through the magic tunnel that acts as the short cut between Worcestershire and the North Pole! Once out the other side we could see that the night was drawing in and the sun was beginning to set, fairy lights were beginning to glow and in the distance we could just make out the ‘North Pole’ Sign.

We had arrived.

Lead by one exciting 3 year old we made our way to meet Santa himself, manoeuvring around the crowds of the North Pole and meeting many a Elf along the way. Santa soon called for Leo to come in and say hello, and this year unlike previous years, Leo couldn’t wait to run on over and give him a hug, given half the chance I am sure he would have hopped on his lap for a cuddle. They had a lovely chat about what Leo would like for Christmas and Santa gave Leo instructions on how to tidy all of his belongings away in order for Santa to be able to make his delivery without falling over!

I could see from my perch by the door just how special this entire experience was for Leo, chatting away with Santa as if they were the best of friends, Leo’s eyes twinkling the entire time, and then Santa bestowed Leo with a gift and told him that he would be popping by later on Christmas Eve with the rest of his presents for being so well behaved.

We indulged with a hot drink and a mince pie each before making our way back on board the Polar Express, night time had truly arrived by now and the magic of the night was more alive than ever. The train steamed back to Cheltenham where we made our way home, ready for a night of Christmas TV and a takeaway feast.

Next year without a shadow of a doubt, we will be back on board the Polar Express with Leo, we are not about to start missing it now!

Christmas Eve 2014

It’s Christmas Eve and the house is now silent,
Leo is in bed after much adieu about going.
The excitement and magic is in full swing tonight,
and there is no way that it is going to be slowing.
The man in red is soon to be on his way,
and Leo is on the lookout for the one and only sleigh.
He’s gone off to bed full of hopes for tomorrow,
Knowing when he wakes all the magic that will follow.

The Night Before Christmas was the book he was read,
‘Santa’s coming Mummy!’ was all that he said.
The story finished and he lay in in my arms,
Cuddles and excited chatter as I succumb to Leo’s charms.
Whispers of magic and coos of delight,
It will be hours before he goes down for the night.

A mince pie and milk await old Santa Clause,
While he breaks for a moment and relaxes his annual chores.
For when Leo awakes in the morning he’ll know,
That Santa has been and put on a rather splendid show!
As wrapping flies and the gifts are unsealed,
The magic of the day is being revealed.
For one little boy this is a very big year,
For it’s the very first one that it all becomes clear.

The house falls still as everyone sleeps,
And in only a few hours Leo will peep.
So for now it’s time for bed,
To catch some shut eye for this sleepy head.

From Life Unexpected we wish you a Merry Christmas!

Thursday 18 December 2014

Family Staycation's

Before Leo was even a twinkle in my eye, Luke and I were always looking toward the next holiday we were going to book up. We lived for the next faraway adventure that we could jet off too and experience the different cultures and activities.

Our very first break together was to Disneyland, a place I had always longed to go and explore and a destination that I knew Luke would resist but soon enjoy. Our second break together was to the sunny skies of Egypt where we spent two weeks in the sun on one very busy two week break.

We had plans for everyday, different activities that we wanted to cram in, the Pyramids in Cairo, scuba diving in the red sea, quad biking in the desert and let’s not forget the paragliding trip on the back of a boat!

Our holidays have had to adapt somewhat for the little man who is now in our lives, and no longer do we have holidays booked up with daily activities to keep us busy, because Leo keeps us busy all on his own. Our holidays now have to be tailored to our family needs and we need a break that is suitable for a toddler.

Our time in Egypt was amazing and one day in the not so distant future we wish to take Leo along with us, but we are holding out for him to be a little bit older before then and exploring places a little closer to home. 

We have taken Leo to France and many different parts of England. He is one well-travelled little boy and has been able to play along the sea front dipping his toes in and out of the sea before running away and getting sandy little feet. This was his favourite game whilst in Bournemouth a few years ago.

We aren't alone in venturing on staycations instead of holidaying abroad. Each year more and more British holiday makers are looking to stay closer to home for one reason or another. It means that we are discovering parts of England that we never knew existed and attractions that we have never considered visiting before.

If you are considering a holiday in 2015 but are looking to stay within the UK, there really are some beautiful areas you can visit without jumping on a plane. You could source some inspiration from the Park Resorts Staycation Guide that has some beautiful destinations on offer.

It has been lovely venturing around within the UK, and back in the Summer we spent the week at Lands End in Cornwall and had such a super time. With the beach a short walk away and good weather for the majority of that week, we really were spoiled. 

We rented a house and it really was a home from home, and to say that the scenery of Cornwall is beautiful, really is an understatement. With sandy beaches and clear waters, when the sun shone it felt like you were abroad, but with traditional English Fish and Chips right on the doorstep it really was my idea of heaven,

Disclaimer: This is a Featured Post

Wednesday 17 December 2014

All Hail King Julien - A Netflix Original Series

Being part of the Netflix Stream Team is an exciting role, and this year we have absolutely loved getting involved. Over the last year we have absolutely loved Netflix and the television content available for the entire family. I have indulged in countless box sets and Luke has enjoyed the film selection, where as Leo has been glued to the variety of kid's content.

It is no secret that Leo is a big fan of Madagascar, so when I had a family invitation to the screening of the new Netflix original screening of 'All Hail King Julien' that just so happens to star everyone's favourite characters from Madagascar, there was no two ways about it, we just had to go along!

The event was held at Mahiki in London, and as soon as we arrived we found ourselves with a virgin Pina Colada each in a very special Pineapple Cup, Leo was very impressed and looked every bit the sophisticated Londoner parading around the swanky cocktail bar with his tipple in hand.

We were one of the first people to arrive, and it very quickly began to fill up with our fellow Stream Team friends and familiar faces that took me a while to place. Pixie Lott, Jamie Winstone, Donna Air, Oliver Cheshire, Jo Wood, Wretch 32, Denise Lewis, Portia Freeman and Jasmine Guinness were all in attendance along with their families, and it was lovely to see such a great turn out!

While being treated to a number of delicious beverages and watching Leo have such a fantastic time jumping around on the bean bags that had been provided for the kids, we were previewed the first 2 episodes of the brand new 'All Hail King Julien' series, and if that wasn't amazing enough, we even got to meet the very real, smooth moving King Julien himself! 

Leo sat among all of the other children as the first two episodes were shown, he laughed and thoroughly enjoyed the new series, and I know that when Netflix releases the first Five 22 minute episodes on the 19th December, we will be enjoying them again and again! Leo said that he really enjoyed All Hail King Julien and it was apparent that he found Julien himself very comical.

All Hail King Julien is set long before the Zoosters arrive on Madagascar, when King Julien holds court. The colourful cast includes fan favourites Mort and Maurice, along with a host of all-new jungle dwellers as they take on the craziest adventures and wildest parties the jungle has to offer! 

What do Netflix say about the all new series?

'Keeping tune with the dance-crazed taste of its lead character, the humor of ALL HAIL KING JULIEN is backed by a pulse-pounding original score that includes a brand-new, infectiously upbeat theme song.  The series features a talented voice cast that includes television legend Henry Winkler (Happy Days) as Julien’s regal predecessor, Uncle King Julien, alongside Emmy-winning actor Danny Jacobs as King Julien, Andy Richter (Conan, Arrested Development) as Mort, Kevin Michael Richardson (Family Guy) as Maurice, and India de Beaufort (One Tree Hill) as Clover, the king’s special-ops expert.

ALL HAIL KING JULIEN joins the hit series Turbo FAST in a growing lineup of Netflix original animated productions from DreamWorks Animation.  By the end of 2016, DreamWorks Animation will debut 10 additional new series on the world’s leading Internet TV Network.'

We all had a super day, Leo meeting King Julien was exactly the same feeling as me getting to meet THE Pixie Lott, kind of surreal coming face to face with one of your favourite popstars in the ladies toilet I can tell you! 

It was plain to see just how much fun Leo was having, he practically disowned us from the moment we arrived until the moment I told him it was time to make our way home. His exact words to me when I told him it was time to leave were 'No Mummy! Wait! *Insert hand stop signal here* I playing!'. With that I got the hint that he had no intention of leaving any time soon...

Leo spent the afternoon dancing with King Julien and learning the very special dance routine, I couldn't believe my eyes when he got involved on his own accord! My 3 year old normally shy's away from such activities! 

All Hail King Julien is going to be a fantastic new addition to the already fabulous collection of children's content, and we absolutely love all the Netflix offers it's subscribers. We as a family wouldn't be without Netflix these days, and we are very excited to see the show go live on the 19th of this month!

Make sure you tune in! You can watch it right here from the 19th!

Disclaimer: I was invited along to the All Hail King Julien Screening, but all views and opinions are completely honest and my own.

The Silver Cross Reflex

When it comes to thinking British Pushchairs who is the first brand that comes to mind? Silver Cross of course! Founded back in 1877 by William Wilson who actually created the very first baby pram. It was this very pram that the rising of future pushchair models were based on for over a century.

Now Silver Cross have come a long way from those very first models, and earlier this year they un-veiled the Silver Cross Reflex. 

The Silver Cross Reflex is brand new for 2014, new year... New pushchair and all that jazz! It features the very latest in pushchair innovation and highlights defining characteristics that make it really stand out among the other models in it's category.

The Reflex is an all in one package, and I think it is due to this nature that it really stands out. The umbrella fold of the Reflex converts to a pram and the very desirable travel system that I am sure we all coveted in those early days. Now this is where it starts to get really interesting and shows just how sophisticated the technology being applied to the latest Silver Cross pushchairs is getting...

For the very first time on a stroller the Reflex incorporates an innovative central LED lighting system, that has been developed for high visibility when it is dark. I think this is fantastic, especially for parents who do a lot of walking and need to be seen when dusk descends. It will make people more aware of you, especially drivers who will see you long before they would without this sophisticated feature.  

When the Reflex is in pushchair mode it provides a very generous multi position seat that has been engineered with a unique and ergonomic backrest which ensures that the seat liner does not touch the frame. The seat it's self has been designed to be the ultimate comfort seat with it's luxurious deep padding and silent multi position recline. 

The stroller is ultra light weight and made completely out of the highest grade Aluminium, weighing in at 8.5kg. No detail has been over looked and the hood is fully extendable with a UPF 50+ sun protection and the deep padded seat apron with reflective piping. 

The fold of the Reflex is something I am really liking the sound of, it folds easily and compactly making it the perfect companion for day trips and holidays both within the UK and of course abroad. We all want a easy to fold stroller especially when we are about to step foot on board a plane, there is nothing worse than having to faff around with many different buttons and foot pedals... So the fold on the Reflex is amazing in the sense that it can be folded using just one hand.

The Silver Cross Reflex folds all in one even with the sturdy bumper bar in place, it folds with the stroller and adds protection and support for the baby. When being used as a stroller the seat unit can be used in either rearward or outward positioning, and using the included car seat adapters you can turn it into a complete travel system. 

A feature that I am really liking on the Reflex is the ability to use it right from birth. The optional accessory pack includes a rearward facing hood, protective baby nest and a lightweight stowaway apron. This is everything you need to get your newborn snug and ready to face the world during those very early weeks. Even in the newborn pram mode the stroller can still fold into one piece, I know that my first pushchair didn't have this capability!

The Reflex will be retailing at £250.00 for the basic package that includes:

- Washable seat liner
- 5 point safety harness
- Harness and buckle pads
- Deep padded apron
- Articulating bumper bar
- Shopping basket
- Simplicity car seat adapters
- Raincover
- Carry handles
- LED Lights

For an additional £75.00 you can add the Newborn Accessory Pack.

The Reflex is set to be one of the pushchairs to watch in 2014, and now I am more intrigued than ever to get my hands on one and see exactly what it is all about up close and personal. I love just how light weight the stroller is, and the one hand fold would make this the perfect stroller for my Mother to use with Leo and his cousin. My Mum suffers with Rheumatoid Arthritis and needs something lightweight and easy to use when she has either of the boys, I would be very intrigued to see just how she would get on with this new innovation. 

If you have been taken by the Reflex you will be pleased to know that there are a number of different colour ways available:

- Black
- Sky
- Lime
- Sand
- Raspberry
- Chilli

I for one have my eyes on the Sky colour way... 
Which colour would you choose?

New Year, New Bathroom

With Christmas just a week away our thoughts are currently focusing on all that glitters and shines, but with the New Year looming ever closer we are letting our minds begin to imagine what 2015 may bring. When I look ahead to 2015 I know that it is going to be a big year for my little family, especially with Leo starting school in September and a whole manner of other exciting times ahead. 

For others you may be looking at doing up parts of the house after saving hard throughout 2014 to really treat the family home in the New Year, maybe it's a new kitchen you are after or even re-doing the family bathroom. Our family bathroom is in need of some modifications just to make it a more pleasant room to be in, to kick back and relax in the bath among some scented candles, or maybe even some new fluffy towels to help you relax further and indulge in some luxury after a long day in the office.. Or at home with kids of course which can often feel like a longer day than being in the office...

When I think about the perfect bathroom, I don't envision what is currently in place. In my minds eye I can see laminate flooring in place of the tired carpet, and Ikoma White Bathroom Furniture replacing the sink, toilet and mirror unit. I would paint the walls a Sky Blue to compliment the simplicity of the White Bathroom features, and would follow this into the new fluffy towels that I would just have to buy. 

The bathroom is arguably one of the rooms we spend a lot of time, whether it is bathing Leo and getting him ready for bed, or even just getting ready in a morning for the day ahead, we spend a lot of time there and I believe that this should be reflected in the way the room makes us feel. You want a clean airy space that is going to help set you for the working day, or a relaxing area that you can just sit back in the bath with your favourite tunes playing. 

Of course before starting any sort of renovation there are some important things to consider:

- Budget - This point alone is one of the most important ones. What can you afford? When coming up with a budget it is important to sit down and do the initial number crunching. Have a look at exactly what you want and whether or not you are going to be renovating the room yourself, or whether you will be getting a contractor in to do the main body of the work for you. This all comes into account when coming up with your intial budget, and it is vitally important that you stick to it. There is a reason that you came up with that initial figure in the first place....

- Time - Now the timing of a renovation can vary, you may have an idea of how long it may take in your head, but this can easily be exceeded, especially if you run into un-foreseen circumstances. It can depend on exactly how big the renovation is, and how many items you are going to be changing within the bathroom. The timing also takes into account the ordering and purchasing of the materials and fixtures, so have a contingency plan just in case things don't work out to the very first plan that was laid out.

Ultimately renovating is a very exciting time, it is the opportunity to make your home a nicer place to live. It's about working hard and then watching your perfect family home take shape, I know that when I do eventually buy a house that we are going to have to put a lot of leg work in to get it where we want it to be, but you know what? That's half of the fun! It means that the home we buy will one day be exactly the way that we want it to be, it may take us some time, but one day we will be on the very top of the world.

Disclaimer: This is a featured post

Tuesday 16 December 2014

The Health Visitor Assessment

It was just last week I was sat here at this very computer and writing a post that was making my blood boil. Its' a post that I put off publishing, you see it was a post docuenting how I let down I felt by my health visitor following on from Leo's 2 and a half year check. It's a post that I have now posted alongside this one.. Because the contrast of feelings that I have felt change within this time frame are something that I never anticipated.

My health visitor turned my opinion of her completely upside down and she re-gained my trust once again, and in this moment right now... I am so thankful to her.

They say everything happens for a reason, and I have to say I am inclined to agree with them. It has been almost a year since I have had any form of contact from my health visitor despite multiple attempts of phoning her, leaving voicemail's in the hope that I could just speak to any member of their team and follow up THEIR concerns for my little man. No one ever returned my calls and not even a whisper was heard from them, until Granny was at the doctors earlier this week and just by chance ran into our health visitor.

Granny told our health visitor the struggles we have faced in the last year, some of which I haven't even posted on this here blog... Nursery reports putting Leo's speech and development 20 months below where he should be. Concerns over his general being in the social environment and hints and nudges that there may be something else underlying. Of course in my heart of hearts I had my own opinion, and I didn't share the same concerns as the nursery, and at this moment in time, the same concerns the health visitor had potentially shared back in January.

It turns out that our health visitor has been off on sick leave for a substantial amount of time, she hasn't been around. That doesn't excuse why another member of the team couldn't have responded to my calls and my messages. But it does explain the radio silence and lack of action that has been on the air waves...

The outcome from this chance meeting with the health visitor (who was now back at work full time) was that she felt awful for the last year. She had been told how let down I felt, basically how I had felt in the post I had written here. She juggled her schedule around and the very next day I spoke to her on the phone. We arranged a meeting for today (Monday 15th December 14) and she arrived at the house ready to make a referral based on everything that I had told her.

I wanted this referral. I really wanted it. I wanted to be put in front of a professional and be provided with answers that I felt were long over due. Was it just a speech delay? Or was it something more? Had I been walking around with my head in the sand all this time? Or was my gut instinct the right one?

 Leo and I had been sat on the sofa in silence before the health visitors arrival, I didn't want him engrossed in the television or tootling around the lounge with his favourite trains, I wanted him to to show his full attention so that the health visitor could get a real idea of his character and personality. The health visitor arrived armed with her suitcase, and a number of the objects and puzzles that I had watched Leo complete on his 2 and a half year assessment.

 I handed the health visitor the latest nursery report, and the report I had been handed by the lady from a local agency who had come in to observe Leo. She thanked me for these forms, and then told me that she wouldn't be looking at them until she had completed her assessment which I thought was a grand idea. 

For a little while she just sat and observed us, listened to Leo and I talking among ourselves and watched Leo as he played a magnetic fishing game. Leo wasn't phased by her presence in the room, and just carried on chatting away with me as he always would, and this pleased me greatly as it meant that she could hear first hand just how much his speech had come along. She could hear that he could hold a conversation.  

The health visitor had brought a copy of the first assessment that she had conducted back in January, and it was decided that we would focus on the parts of the form that she had labelled with a 'Q' for query. 

Leo was still happily playing his fishing game, but was easily persuaded to demonstrate his drawing skills. We found out the array of colourful crayons and asked him to find the red one, after he had done that and produced some beautiful markings we asked him to find a number of different colours in turn, and that's exactly what he did. The health visitor was pleased with his drawing, pen holding and colour knowledge which pleased me in turn.

As the assessment went on our health visitor surprised me. She told me she had absolutely no concerns. No concerns over his speech, she even went on to say that he was a right little chatter box and wasn't even really behind on that front any more. She told me that she wasn't going to be referring him because there was absolutely no need, and that the Pediatrician would laugh at her for putting Leo forward when he was quite obviously developing and happy.

Then she opened up the reports I had handed her, the one from the outside source that had come into nursery read that Leo didn't give eye contact. That he had poor facial expressions and was ultimately very behind. Her response? Well she pretty much said that they must have seen a different child that day, because the little boy she had just witnessed was switched on and alert.

Then she read the nursery report and was astounded at where they were placing Leo in his developments. In some areas they have Leo 20 months behind, and that is on the most recent report that I received this month. I have just accepted this as fact, everything following the 2 and half year check in January I have just accepted. The concerns, the worries, the urgency... It just seemed to be the path we were on and Leo was behind. Until today when the health visitor told me that Leo was perfectly normal. 

The health visitor told me that Leo is not behind at all, he is catching up and is actually operating in the capacity of a 4 and a half to 5 year old. She said that if the nursery are grading these reports as they are then there is something wrong, either Leo isn't as happy at the school as we think he is, he's shy, or the staff need further training. She made me promise that I wouldn't worry, that she is certain that he is just a normal 3 year old boy who is going to excel at school, he's just getting there in his own time.

Hearing all of this, all of this positivity from the lady who had first expressed her concerns 11 months ago was astounding. I was beaming from ear to ear. She was completely agreeing with me on every front, and my instinct had been the right one. I hadn't been walking around with my head stuck in the sand, I had been listening to my intuition, and it was the right one.

I had been so set on getting Leo the referral I didn't once for a second think that the health visitor was going to come in and go against everything that had initially been said, and against the reports of the nursery, and actually see Leo as I see him everyday.

It's been 11 months since Leo's 2 and a half year check, so much has happened in that time frame. He has grown and developed and done so much growing up. Yes I feel like someone on the health visitor team could have provided the courtesy of calling back and picking up our case, but ultimately Leo was fine just like I knew he would be. And in the end our health visitor came through and helped us.

For that I am very grateful.

Monday 15 December 2014

The First Nativity

I always envisioned that your very first Nativity Play would be after you started reception, when you were that little bit bigger. As it happened this Christmas you performed in your debut performance and it was such an amazing sight to behold. You had been practicing at nursery for weeks, and I couldn’t help thinking how brave (Crazy?) they were to even attempt such a performance with a cast of pre-schoolers, but it all worked out perfectly.

You had been cast as a shepherd, and on the run up to the big performance I had been set the task of sourcing a costume fit for such a dashing shepherd. On the night I took you into the school that backs onto the nursery (The school in which you will hopefully be attending!) and you looked a little teary. You had been excited about going into school until you discovered you wouldn't actually be attending the nursery.

I dropped you off with your fellow cast members and the nursery leaders got you ready for the lime light, I then made my way out into the audience to find a seat with Daddy, Granny and Granddad Martin. I could hear tears coming from the class room and I hoped with everything that I had that it wasn’t you, thankfully it wasn’t and you soon marched down the aisle right past me holding hands with your friend. You saw me and your little lip started to tremble and I just wanted to give you a big cuddle! They sat you down on the bench near the front and I saw your lip quiver a few more times as some of the other children took to the stage for their roles. I even heard you shout out that you needed the loo, but unfortunately everyone was too busy to hear you. Part of me wanted to run up and run you out before you had to go on stage, but I thought that may upset you in the long run.

It was eventually your turn to go up on stage, and you did exactly as you were supposed to do, you had learnt your role well and were such a little superstar. Your face did tremble every now and then and you didn’t look exceptionally happy about being up there, but you were super!

You got up on stage and lay down pretending to be asleep, and then another child came along tapping you on the head, waking you up. You then made your way over to the corner and sat patiently while the other children did their parts. Towards the end you even took part with some of the songs!

You did so well and although you were completely out of your comfort zone, you gave it your very best shot.

Well done little man, you little superstar!


This post was written on the 2nd December 2014, and in that time frame from then until publishing a few developments have been made. You can read about our positive experience with our health visitor right here. But for now, this is how I was feeling until these developments were made..

A year ago in January Leo had his 2 and a half year check. It was here that concerns were expressed over his development, particularly in his speech. I left his appointment far from impressed with the way I had been spoken to, but I left with the next steps of what I had to do in order to help Leo. The health visitor had told us that she wanted to see Leo again in two months’ time, she wanted him to repeat the assessment and if she still wasn’t happy then she would refer him onto speech therapy and we would go from there.

The health visitor was supposed to book Leo in for an eye appointment as soon as possible as she had also expressed concerns over a potential squint. The two months came and went with no word from our health visitor and no word of any appointment to get Leo’s eye checked out. I called and called the office where she worked trying to get in touch with her, when that failed I left her a voice mail asking about the eye appointment and also asked her to call me back so that we could arrange the assessment appointment. There was no call back, and absolutely no contact from my health visitor after that. She finally got around to making the eye appointment judging by the fact a week later a letter landed through the door, but I’m sure that’s only because I jogged her memory after she had let us fall through the cracks.

Still she had expressed some real concerns over Leo, she had taken one chilled out Mother and turned her into an emotional wreck. She had insinuated that there was more wrong with Leo, but of course couldn’t go into any details about it. She was that concerned that she just completely forgot about us, and in the long run she has let me and more importantly, she has let Leo down. The way she spoke to us about Leo back in January was worrying and completely negative. When I go over that appointment in my head I don’t re-call anything positive being said at all. But the point is she has taken those concerns and not followed up on any of them, she has left a child who would have benefited from a speech therapy referral 11 months ago drop completely through the net.

Ultimately She hasn’t done her job and she hasn’t supported us through any of this, and the respect I once had for her has diminished. I am actually angry at the way we have been treated by her, or not treated as the case may be. I left that appointment and did everything she advised, maybe if she had held up her end of the arrangement things wouldn't have taken this long to sort out. Maybe the positive improvements I can see in Leo today could have been exceeded further.

Leo has come on so much in the past 11 months, but our health visitor doesn’t know this. Leo could have come on even further had she pulled her finger out and actually done what she was supposed to be doing. I have been lucky in the fact that nursery have been on hand to help, and eventually they referred Leo for speech therapy back in June, a whole 5 months after it could have been originally placed.

Now speech therapy is happening, and they are nice enough people and I am glad that they are on board to help Leo and I, but even they are flakey. They book appointments and then forget they have booked them, they double book them, they book them and forget to tell you they have been made, they turn up late, and don’t really seem to know whether they are coming or going. It was just the other week that I rushed from work in my lunch break to be at an appointment that the speech therapist had forgotten to cancel with me, wasting my time, and wasting Leo’s time when she refused to see us.

We have had outside people from the local children’s centre come in to observe Leo at nursery, and nursery passed back the positive feedback that they didn't think anything was wrong and the observation had been fine. Only for me to then receive a report that read completely differently, it spurred me into calling the doctors and booking into see our GP to try and gain a pediatrician referral. It than transpired that this report was actually a rather old report and that the latest observation was absolutely fine.  I sometimes feel like I am banging my head against a brick wall, one person is telling me that Leo is really behind, another tells me he’s absolutely fine and the spectrum of normal at this age is so varied, and then there are people feeding me old information.

I feel like I have had to jump through hoops to even get to this point, I welcome any help with open arms, but the people who are in a position to help don’t seem to be very forthcoming. The appointment I am sitting with Leo on Friday (Friday 5th December 14) is ultimately me pushing to get Leo in front of a pediatrician. If there is something underlying (which I don’t think there is aside from speech delay) then it will have taken a year or over for someone to actually see us. Now I can’t help feeling really frustrated about that fact, because if there is an additional aspect of needs that hasn't been catered for, that’s an entire year of support that has not been there. Everyone who has seen Leo, I have had to fight to put him there. Surely it shouldn't be so hard to seek an opinion and guidance to help a child? To help my child!

I will go along Friday and see what is said, but I am certain the only issue is speech delay. Everyone is so quick to label a child these days, and speech delay or no speech delay, that boy of mine is happy and never without a smile for long.

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Ice Skating at Webbs of Wychbold

2 weeks ago Leo and I hopped into the car on a cold and dark Wednesday evening, and turned up Michael Buble’s catchy Jingle Bells rendition as we started the engine to begin our journey over to Droitwich for the Webb of Wychbold press day.

By the time we arrived we were both full of Christmas cheer and I had one very excited toddler on my hands, he had been so pleased when I had told him about our ice skating adventure, and had told everyone at nursery where we were going. This was to be Leo’s very first ice skating experience and I was un-sure as to how he would react…

Just as we were nearing the end of our journey and pulling off the roundabout, we saw Webbs in all its glory, and it was suffice to say that Christmas had well and truly arrived in all of its spender.  Welcoming us off the roundabout was an abundance of Christmas Trees full of twinkly lights, and with Michael Buble’s ‘White Christmas’ playing in the background, we were certainly ready for a night of festive fun. 

Of course as I had expected, Leo’s excitement had begun to fade as tiredness set in, and he had already point blank refused the idea of wearing ice skates. When the time came to put his skates on, there was quite a lot of screaming and a few crocodile tears and I worried that he was just quite simply not going to get as far as the ice…

The kids skates were really quite impressive, little ones can keep their own shoes on just like you would with a pair of roller skates, and they are double sided so that they don’t need to worry about balancing on a single blade. They can be adjusted to the size of your child’s feet which means you don’t need to worry about the sizing.

With our skates on and one very un-happy 3 year old in tow I placed him onto the ice, holding his hand tightly… All the while hoping that he would realise just how much fun he could have if he just gave this experience a chance. But he refused to give in, and creating a rather big scene on the ice he decided enough was enough. Luckily there was one more option… A ice skating aid that Leo now refers to as a ‘Ice Boat’. We traded in the ice skates for the skating aid and finally that cheeky smile began to return to Leo’s face, all be it a nervous one to start with…

The skating aid meant that Leo didn’t have to ice skate himself, he sat down on one of the two seats and was perfectly happy with being pushed around the ice. The faster we went, the bigger the smile and he had the best time. The ice rinq is just lovely and this year even boasts a cover over the top so that you can skate whatever the weather, and with the weather being a mixture of drizzle and showers that night, this was a very welcome addition.

The rinq is a great size and with timed sessions going on it was never over crowded with people, this gave us the opportunity to get the most out of the experience. Leo and I decided to really put some speed into our skating and that proved interesting with the skating aid, especially around corners…Although I only crashed a couple of times in the grand scheme of things, and this didn’t bother Leo one little bit. In fact I vaguely re-call him laughing even more when we did crash!

Skating around with Christmas lights all around you on a crisp evening, with your family is exactly what Christmas is all about. It’s magical and memorable and despite Leo’s rocky start, a great time was had by the both of us and we couldn't wait to go back again and take Leo's Daddy, so that's exactly what we did!

I had never been along to Webb’s of Wychbold before and being as local as I am, this is madness. It is such a beautiful place, especially at this time of year. There is so much attention to detail, and they even have Santa around if you want to take the little ones to say hello.

Once you have finished on the ice you can warm up in the cafĂ© right next door with a hot chocolate and a cake, that’s exactly what we did and it was the absolute perfect end to the perfect evening.

We are already planning on returning in the next week or so, and Leo is so excited to get back on the ice. Maybe this time he will even don a pair of his own ice skates… The jury is still out on this one.

Disclaimer: We were invited along to the Webb’s of Wychbold press day and provided with complimentary entry to the ice rinq, hot chocolate and a cake. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.

Tuesday 2 December 2014

41 Months Old

Winter set in and in the blink of an eye Jack Frost had sprinkled his first dusting and you had turned 41 months old. This month has seen you becoming more cheeky, humorous and dare I say it…? More grown up.

Your vocabulary has been coming on and the depths of conversations we can have has been really interesting, and it makes me so proud to hear you really making an effort with your words. This month you have been telling me all sorts.

The one where I won’t put the roof down on the Mini.
Leo: ‘Mummy put the roof down’
Me: ‘Leo it’s far too cold to have the roof down today. It’s freezing outside!’
Leo ‘It’s not freezing Mummy!’
Me: ‘Oh yes it is Leo!’
Leo ‘Oh no it’s not Mummy! You naughty! I call Santa!’

The one where you cancel Christmas for the waitress in Frankie & Benny’s!
Waitress: ‘You make sure you eat all of your dinner up and then we can look at the puddings!’
Leo ‘No Christmas for you! No Santa come your house! No Christmas dinner!’

The one where you think I owe an apology.
Leo: You be nice me Mummy!’
Me: ‘I am being nice to you Leo.’
Leo: You hurt me! You say sorry!’.

We have been carrying on with the speech therapy and working closely with nursery, and I think it is safe to say that we are all seeing you develop. Your such a kind natured little boy, you care about how others are feeling and you always apologise if you accidently hurt someone. I was watching you with Josh just a few weeks ago, and something happened that resulted in Josh crying. I didn’t see exactly what but you took it upon yourself to say ‘Sorry Josh, I give you a kiss’. And that is exactly what you did, you gave him a cuddle and a kiss that was so  lovely to behold. Once upon a time you were the little boy who refused to say sorry point blank, but these days you are just so loving and affectionate.

November has seen you getting increasingly excited about Christmas, and it really is the first year that you have a proper understanding of what is going on. You can see everyone around you building up for the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, the Christmas lights appearing and capturing your complete attention. You talk about Santa and what you want for Christmas and even know that on Christmas Eve, the man in Red is going to deliver your gifts by sleigh and enter the house by means of the chimney! You have very quickly worked out that the weeks ahead are going to be full of magic and wonder, and at almost 3 and a half, you are in awe of everything.

You even had your very first Costa Hot Chocolate... and Loved it! The next day you put in your demands for a Costa and a Subway!

You are spying adverts on the TV and avidly watching them, and when the advert wraps you tell me ‘I want that! Santa bring it!’. I have had to explain that Santa can’t bring you absolutely everything that you want for Christmas, but he will do his best to make you smile.

A big development for us this month is that you are finally starting to ask questions. This has been one of the language developments we have been waiting for, and now you ask me ‘What’s that?’ about absolutely everything. You have the wording to help you ask what you want to ask, and you take in my answers and store them for next time. Your memory never ceases to amaze me, you can remember things that I thought you would have long forgotten. Down the road from our house each year a man puts up a rather larger Christmas Tree decoration in his front garden. Last year you were so impressed by it and you missed it for months after he had taken it down, and now that it is back up again you have told me ‘not in loft now, out of box!’ and remembered the entire conversation I had with you about what happens to Christmas once everything is finished, and you even remembered the tree.

You are still loving nursery, even if you have decided you don’t like forest school for the moment. When I asked you what you did while the other children were at forest school you told me ‘I have hot chocolate and biscuits!’ – I guess that is why you would prefer to skip forest school!

Naptimes are slowly dwindling but you still get so incredibly tired and grouchy in a afternoon, we have taken to having a sit down and cuddle together and maybe watching a film (currently Christmas films!), but with school creeping ever closer I know that we need to try and leave the naps behind so that you are ready to start school with your peers in 9 months’ time.

You are still doing very well with the toilet and have very few wet accidents, but we are still trying to combat the number 2 issue. You have done 2 on the toilet now, but it’s hit and miss. You hold out for bedtime when you have a nappy and do it within the first 5 minutes of wearing your nappy. I have tried getting you to go before putting your nappy on, I have even resorted to bribery… But somehow we are going to have to get you there. We both know you can do it, and I am sure it’s a confidence issue. But in the New Year we will be trying to tackle nights, which will mean there will be no more nappies!

As we prepare for Christmas I know that your 42nd month is going to be filled with cheer and magic. There is so much to look forward to and as we embrace the festivities together, I know we are in for a wonderful time.

Monday 1 December 2014

Home Improvement

Renovating your home is a time filled of excitement and stress. You are excited to see the end result, but you know that for the time it takes to get these changes implemented, you are going to have to work around it in order to get any assemblence of normality. With Christmas coming, the projects being dreamed up now are usually to be actioned in the New Year, and people in the midst of a home improvement project are working against the clock in order to relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor over the festive season.

Painting and Decorating
Whether you are painting and decorating yourself or hiring someone else to put the leg work in on your behalf, there is a lot to consider, colours, textures, emulsion or silk… It’s always best to get a few paint samples first and try them out in the room you are thinking about before committing to a specific colour. It may seem like the best idea since sliced bread… But until you apply that last stroke of paint, or commit the painter to the job. Make sure you are completely happy with the plan before you proceed.

How does one decide on the flooring in their home? For me I have to think practically and could only in-vision tiles or laminate flooring in the Kitchen and Bathroom’s. Having a 3 year old who makes a mess in whatever he does (That’s often how it feels!) it just seems silly to consider anything else for those two specific rooms in the house. He will without a shadow of a doubt drop food on the floor when he dines, and he will splash a lot of water out of the bath from time to time. So for us and our little family, those rooms will only ever have flooring that is easy to clean. For the rest of the house I am open to ideas, some rooms I feel just need to be carpeted. There is something so cosy about a room with carpet, but then for the lounge or the hallway I like the idea of lacquered engineered wood flooring, which is one of the most popular flooring choices on the market because of just how easy it is to maintain and care for. This flooring can last for many years without having to have any special treatments applied, another option I have considered is Brushed and Oiled Engineered Oak Wood Flooring but because they need more care I am swaying more towards the Lacquered.

As with any home improvement project, each decision needs to be carefully thought about and planned, from the ideal cleaning solutions right through to the end results. Give yourself a timescale to adhere to and don’t take on to much too soon. Set aside some time to do the initial number crunching, come up with a budget and stick to it.

Home improvement doesn’t have to be a sorry state of affairs, things have to change in order for things to grow.

Disclaimer: This is a featured post

Christmas 2014 - Kids Gift Guide

Spoiling our little one’s at Christmas is what makes the day so magical for us grown-ups. Seeing the look of pure innocence and wonder on their face when they see that Father Christmas has flown through the night and done his very best to fulfil that bustling Christmas List. Christmas 2014 is sneaking closer every day, and as I am a little bit behind on the Christmas Shopping front,  I have been sourcing inspiration and having a look at the toys that are set to storm Christmas this year.

Stocking Filler Ideas…

Stocking fillers are always an aspect that stumps me, I can never really think of anything that will fit nicely inside. Or decide on exactly how many stocking fillers to include. These are just a few ideas that came to mind when thinking about kid’s stockings on a whole:

The first thing that springs to mind when I dream up stocking filler ideas is chocolate, and in true Christmas spirit Toblerone (£1.00-£3.00) and Chocolate Orange (£2.00 - £3.00) are the ones that I would be noting down for the man in red. There are a wide variety of different flavours available, but my personal favourites have to be the Milk Chocolate Toblerone with Honey and Almond Nougat, and of course the Popping Candy Chocolate Orange.

Kids have many questions and it is only natural for them to be curious about the big wide world and what the grown ups of the world do. Mairi Mclellan is the author of a series of books entitled What Do The Grown Ups Do? and they would make lovely stocking fillers this Christmas for older children who want to know more about the big wide world of work, and what certain jobs entail. 

We were sent two of the series to have a read of, the first one was Richard the Vet. This is the fifth book of the series 'What do the grown-ups do?'. It's based in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland, and the series aims to teach children aged 5-10 years about different jobs. The story is narrated through the eyes of the children, and the tone is kept light and fun while being informative. The story of Richard the Vet follows three local children who meet real workers and hear full accounts of the jobs that they do

. Richard is a large animal vet. Specialised in equine (horses), he spends most of his time between farms and stables. His hours are long but he loves his job. On their adventure, the children learn how Richard helps farmers to manage their prize bulls, how horses' teeth never stop growing, how to remove rotten teeth and how to avoid getting kicked!

The second book we have been sent from the series is Fiona the doctor. This story shows the children and the equipment in the doctor's bag that is used to help diagnose a patient's problem: the stethoscope, the otoscope, the oximeter.  They learn about the differences between blood pressure,  pulse, systolic and diastolic, GPs and specialists, and even why people get smelly feet! They also learn that doctors have their own jokes!

It is a lovely series of books that is sure to gain children's attention and maybe even get them thinking about their own hopes and dreams for the future.

The books retail at £7.99 and can be purchased from Amazon.

Boris and the DumbSkulls book is a traditional fantasy adventure for children 7+. The clever story and quirky humour makes it a great read not just for children but big kids (Mummy and Daddy) too! It's a a the perfect  read at bedtime, and what a story it is. It's the kind of book that's just filled to the brim with child eating witches, dead members of the aristocracy who come back to life to dance at the sound of music and a floating skull with a punk rock band made up of dwarves. The illustrations within the book will keep kids captivated with just how bold and colourful they are.

Boris and the Dumb Skulls retails at £7.77.

What’s not to love about a robotic pet that you aren’t going to end up looking after? A pet that if you forget to feed it (Which they will…) won’t pop it’s clogs!  The Pirate Robo Fish is exactly that, and priced at £12.00 it makes a very attractive stocking filler this year. The Pirate Robo Fish is the latest addition to the Robo Fish collection, with 6 new designs to collect! The fish are water activated, which means as soon as they are placed in the water they begin to move.  Each Robo Fish comes with a plastic Display Stand and two sets of batteries to keep the fun going longer!
For the older kids who enjoy a computer game or two, The Sims 4 may be a great addition. As a child myself the Sims was one of my favourite games, and I would be lying if I said I hadn’t given the name game a run through its paces. The Sims really has grown up in 2014, the level of detail that you can apply to a Sim when you create and customise them is incredible. Do you want them to have freckles? Give them Green skin? Make them marginally obese on top and incredibly skinny on the bottom? It’s all possible.  I can’t help but see how far this game has come from the very original, and it is lovely to see my younger sister enjoying a game I once loved. The Sims 4 retails from £46.32 for the standard edition up to £59.99.

Christmas Activity Gifts…

As Christmas is the perfect opportunity to get together as a family, why not indulge in some chocolate crafting? For starters the Chocolate Sweet Creatures Set (£12.77) comes with 6 animal moulds and a selection of colourful foil wrappers. It comes with instructions so that you can get the most out of the set, and explains how to melt down the chocolate and carefully spoon it into the moulds. Or if you fancy something a little more elaborate, how about  the Chocolate Candy Cottage Set? (£13.15) It comes with everything you need to build a masterpiece of a chocolate house, and makes a great alternative to the traditional Gingerbread house. The kit boasts structure moulds and sugar dough embellishments. You simply have to melt the chocolate down and pour it into the included moulds and refrigerate it for 30 minutes. Once you have created the walls and roof to your chocolate house, the fun begins and it is all about putting it together in the tastiest way possible using melted chocolate as the cement!

What’s In Santa’s Sack?

Cuddly toys are a must at Christmas, and Dinosaur plush toys are even better. The Tobar Snuggleasaurs is a soft huggable plush toy that can let out a real roar by pressing the button on its belly. It is covered in felt details including teeth, spine and claws. 

My little guy is slightly in love with trains and locomotives, so when I saw this I knew that it would make an ideal Christmas gift. The brightly coloured Tobar Bump N Go Bubble Train moves along and blows bubbles out of its chimney. When you activate the train it begins to roll forward and even makes a chugging noise if those bubbles aren’t enough to capture little one’s attention. This gift is perfect for a young train lover, or even for little one’s as an alternative to a traditional bubble machine. It retails at £14.99.

Building a den is a right of passage, growing up I was lucky enough to live in a home that backed onto woodland, and building (attempting) tree houses was something I thoroughly enjoyed as a child. I would love for Leo to have those same kinds of memories one day, to look back on a childhood full of adventure and smile. The Eden Project have the perfect den kit available that will provide children with hours upon hours of playtime, and memories to boot! The Eden Project Build a Den retails at £35.00 and comes equipped with:

- Tarpaulin
- Groundsheet
- Handmade mallet
- Tent pegs in a peg bag
- 10m rope
- Metal mug
- Camouflage face paint
- Camouflage haversack

As seen on BBC One’s ‘High Street Dreams’, this play house is great for outdoor adventures in the garden or as a fun indoors rainy day activity for kids. The absolute beauty about this gift is that the den can be absolutely anything that they want it to be, a secret hide out or just an adventure waiting to happen!

Now this next gift idea would have made me one happy little girl back in the day, The Barbie Glamtastic Change Bag is something a little bit special. Now part of me wishes my own bag had the capabilities this little beauty does.. and that is because this bag can change its colour in order to match any outfit. All you have to do is hold the Barbie handbag up against whatever you want to match it to, press the heart shaped button and watch it change colour before your eyes! In all it can match up to 100+ different colours and has a great selection of clip on accessories that really will make this bag the perfect choice for many Barbie fans out there this Christmas. The Barbie Glamtastic Change Bag retails at £29.99 but is currently on offer at Argos for £22.49.

Baby Annabell Brother Baby George Doll will be joining the families of many over Christmas 2014, named after the Royal Prince he is set to be on many a Christmas List. George is just like a real baby (46cm in length), he has realistic sounds and movements, he babbles, gurgles and sucks on his very own dummy. This little guy can even be fed from his bottle, and while he drinks he makes sounds while his mouth moves. If you lay Baby George down on the floor and touch his forehead, the little guy will let out a big yawn and drift off to sleep. Just like any baby, Baby George has moments where he is far from happy… And when he cries, he can cry real tears! This baby doll has so many different features that really does make it stand out from the rest, and come Christmas Day there will be many houses waking up to a new addition!

Baby Annabell Brother Baby George Doll retails at £47.99.

Now for the ultimate boy’s toy that I know my 3 year old would just go barmy over – The Fisher Price Imaginext Super Nova Battle Rover, the absolute ultimate outer space experience for your little one to enjoy right here with their feet firmly on the ground! The Battle Rover is a very generously sized play set, and vehicle all in one that boasts it’s own removable space shuttle! This one play set includes projectiles, disk launchers, an alien detecting chamber that lights up, 19 lights and over 200 unique sound effects and phrases!

The space shuttle has transforming capabilities and even includes it’s very own projectile launchers, sounds, kid activated control panel, pull out drill, saw blade and crane, three figures and even a small vehicle. The entire set is just full to bursting and is sure to capture the heart and imagination of every child that comes into contact with it. Leo and I will be posting a full review on this rather epic toy very soon!

The Imaginext Supa Nova Battle Rover retails at £129.99 but is currently on offer at Smyths for £99.99.

Each year Leo will get one main Christmas present, and this is something that we are prepared to spend a little bit more on. This year Leo has asked for a Nintendo DS and after doing some research we decided that the 2DS was the most realistic option. 

The Nintendo 2DS really is the perfect entry level console for a younger child, they are advised for children aged 7 up, but Leo has shown an active interest in playing and has picked up the skills to be able to give it a pretty good go!

I found the 2DS the most attractive option initially because of its one piece design, it  takes out the need for hinges to fold it, and removes the risk of the screen snapping in clumsy little fingers. My only concern with not being able to fold the DS like you would the more traditional models, was that it may be too big and take up more room when taking it out and about, but we haven’t experienced this at all. In actual fact it’s a really nice size, and Leo can hold it happily with two hands while he plays.

You can hold the 2DS like you would a tablet and it boasts twin screens with touch screen controls. This makes it easy for younger players to operate and navigate through the menus and of course the games. Leo like many children is no stranger to touch screen operation, and he has very quickly worked his way around the 2DS, all be it a little through trial and error, but even though he doesn’t read it hasn’t held him back. The 2DS menu screen features words alongside images, which assists pre-schoolers in being able to enjoy.

The Nintendo 2DS with Mario Kart pre-installed can be purschased from GAME for the bargain price of £109.99.

LeapFrog have a number of exciting toys for Christmas that suit a vast age range, proving to be very popular this year is the new LeapPad and the highly anticipated LeapTV. Among the selection we have My Pal Scout, an interactive plush toy that holds many hidden surprises. You can personalise Scout’s content, and he can even say your little one’s name, you can choose the songs he sings from a list rather than just making do. You can choose your little one’s favourite nursery rhymes and watch their face light up with wonder when he calls them by name. Scout has been a firm favourite in our house over the years and it really isn't hard to work out why. Scout retails at £19.99 but you can pick him up from Amazon for £14.53 right now.

The Read with me Scout would make an ideal Christmas gift for children aged between 2-5 years old, and he has been designed to help little one’s with their reading. Read with me Scout is soft, interactive and great fun to play with. He comes with 5 board books and he can read each of the included books aloud to your little one. Each of the books is numbered 1 through to 5, and it couldn’t be easier for little hands to pick a book and to get Scout reading it. All you have to do in order to set Scout up is to choose the book you want him to read, look at the number and pick the corresponding number on Scout’s collar. Read with me Scout retails at £29.99 but is currently on offer at £24.99 at Amazon.

Being small provides you with the god given right to take advantage of the sit and ride vehicles on the market, and this is never as true than at Christmas. Take the Smoby Big Bobby Car Ride On for instance, from and produced in Germany. This ride on is as solid and sturdy as they come and can hold a child up to 50kg (110lbs, 7.8 Stone) so you can rest assured that this is going to last your child for some time. It comes in two colours, Red and Blue and even comes equipped with a horn! It retails at £35.14. have it on sale at £30.99

Got children who don’t respond well to getting up in the morning? How about the Beurer WL30 Wellness DawnSimulator Light to help ease the morning dramas? The Wellness Dawn Simulator Light gradually increases the light intensity, mimicking the sunrise to help you (or the kids) wake up gradually and in a more natural way, especially on dark winter mornings like we are experiencing right now! You can set alarms just in case the light doesn’t wake you up, and what really pleases me about this is that you can have soothing sounds to bring you around gently, rather than a traditional alarm clock making you jump out of your skin the moment it goes off. Maybe it will even help the kids be in a better mood for the return to school after the Christmas break!?
The Wellness Dawn Simulator Light retails at £49.99 but it is currently on offer at Amazon for £49.86

Disclaimer: I was sent the above products for the purpose of this gift guide. Prices correct at time of publishing. All views and opinions expressed are my own.