Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas Magic and Mayhem!

Well Christmas holiday is almost over already, the past few days have passed in a somewhat blur, but a nice blur all the same, Friday - Christmas eve, we spent collecting up those last minute prezzies, and rushing to do a quick food shop. Also setting up my mums surprise present from my dad - a brand new Laptop.We set it all up for mum and I made her a new graphic background and printed her out a set of instructions and a letter from Santa. With my dad thinking up such a wonderful surprise for my mum it helped us think up a Christmas present for my parents too, a wireless printer. My mum was so shocked and surprised at what Santa had got her it has made her Christmas one to remember!!

Then there was Christmas morning where my living room turned into a toy shop, and a sea of wrapping paper over took my floor, but the faces of my children were amazing, Jake got up at about 6am coming into our room so excited saying Santa had been, he goes on to tell us he had been up most of the night and thought Santa wasn't coming because he kept checking his stocking and it was empty, he was getting upset and decided to come ask us if Santa had been, and he found his stocking present on the floor instead of in the stocking!
Then with Mikey and Chloe following we all went to see what Santa had left!

Then the opening commenced they were all very happy with what they had got, big hits were the Early Learning center dino track racers, Mikeys face lit up as soon as he saw the box, the mega bloks halo lego sets were a firm favourite of Jake, and of cause Chloe was over the moon to get a mobile phone. The mayhem continued then when Uncle Nick, Allanah and three three children came to see us, bringing with them a lovely hamper that had a little of everything nice in it, all our favourites, such a nice thoughtful present.
Then after a quick dinner, we went to my mum and dads to deliver our prezzies to everyone, my sister and family were there, along with my grandparents and 15 dogs! a manic but lovely afternoon was had, my mum was simply over joyed with her laptop and printer, the children were happy and tired, and we came home and tucked them up in bed to dream of the fun day they had just had, as I put Mikey to bed he asked if he could buy a new advent calender, so santa would come again!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Not long now

Christmas is just around the corner, are we all ready?

I *think* I have most things sorted now, although will most probably be heading into town to brave the last minute rush on Christmas eve, there is always something else you need, right?

I woke up this morning at 3am, with my other half telling me it was snowing slightly, I just couldn't get back off to sleep after that, not sure why, maybe it had something to do with the little boy who had wiggled in bed beside me, or the dogs foot in my face, our bed really is getting too small for all the extras! So I decided to cut my looses and came downstairs at 6am, leaving the bed to my now two sleeping children,the dog followed me down and my other half had already given up his spot and he's now sound asleep on the sofa behind me. Oh the joys hey.

As I sit here with the news on, it keeps telling me to expect 10 -25cm of snow, and how the country is at a standstill with roads cosed and planes cancelled, I look outside my back door and yes we do have a covering, but certainly nothing to shout home about, maybe 1 - 2 cm which is the first we've had since over 2 weeks ago, when we had a bit more but it seems not as much as other parts of the country. I'd love a proper white Christmas, lots and lots of fluffy snow, make a snow man on Christmas eve, then come snuggle inside warm by the fire and wait for the big man himself, mince pie and coke at the ready, I don't know who is more excited, I'd say with me being up early already and we're still a few days to go, it must be me!

Here's a quick picture for you all, my view out the back door just now:and as I was putting this photo on my camera and found this one took yesterday :D

Twist and Spin Jewellery Maker - Review

As part of our runner up box of toys for the Toys R Us 'do you have what it takes to be a toyologist' competition we had a Twist and spin jewellery maker, by flair.
priced at £19.99 normally, however on offer at Toys R us for £17. 97

Get creative and make funky jewellery with the Twist and Spin Jewellery Maker! Create stylish necklaces, bracelets and hair accessories at the touch of a button with the twisting and spinning motion
To start with C was surprisingly disinterested in this, which did surprise me a bit, the box looks great, a nice sized box, sporting a pretty girl covered in bangles and hair accessories, right up any 7 year old girls street. however C wasn't overly impressed, later tho when she came back to have another look she was all up for putting it through its paces, we opened the box, a biggish box, with not a lot of content if I'm honest, the first thing you need to note, is that you will need 2 AA batteries, which do not come supplied.
You get a Twist and Spin jewellery making unit, a bag of beads, a bundle of cord, 8 fasteners, two clips a threader and a instruction leaflet, C was eager to get making, the picture on the box shows some beautiful necklaces, bracelets and hair braids, C read the instructions and started off spinning the cord, unclipped it and it unwound instantly, she was obviously unimpressed, she tried again, the unit has several switches which spin in different directions, hold the cords still or allow them to move, and without having them set into the correct positions you will always get a unravelled end result. C tried her hardest but couldn't master the spin sequence and so set about making herself a bracelet the 'old fashioned' way - simply threading the beads onto a single piece of thread, this used the majority of the beads, which was a shame, the beads are nice chunky good quality pretty beads, but it would have been nice to have a few more of them, whilst C was busy doing that, I re read the instructions and tried again with the spinning, and did manage to make a couple of nice spinned pieces which did not unravel, the only other down side is the fasteners are big n clumsy and do distract from the overall prettiness of the finished jewellery.

Since having the set C has been back to it a couple of times and proceeded to make a couple of pieces, although we are now almost out of thread and beads.

Overall I think this is a fairly high priced set, although better with the slight discount at Toys R us, the frustration a child could get from the unravelling could possibly be a source of upset, and the amount of extras you get with the set really don't amount to much, maybe a cheaper bead set without the novelty twist and spin unit would be better
Over all rating 5 out of 10.

Monday, 20 December 2010

how to spread the joy?

I have been exceptionally lucky this holiday period, what with winning a few competitions, being able to spend my time with those I love most, having a house to live and food to eat, I truly feel so lucky.

We're not ones to want for much, we certainly don't have that much, money is in short supply, but we have always had the view point of that money is one of the least important factors.
Money makes people greedy, nasty and all round horrible. There are things which I just don't want to go into that have changed my view of money forever, and I know that happiness is not about who can buy the greatest gifts or who can claim to have the biggest bank balance. No, happiness comes from something else all together, and only when people realize that do they become happier.

But put that to one side at the moment that is not the reason I started this post, this post is about sharing my joy, winning the competitions I have won really have been amazing, I never thought I would actually win these and the prizes couldn't have come at a better time. I was worrying how I was going to make this Christmas special this year, with not alot of money to buy gifts, and my parents taking a back seat due to them already giving us one of the best gifts they ever could, Jackson. I was starting to think maybe a small scale Christmas was on the cards, my memories as in my previous post, are firmly filled with the magic of Christmas my parents and grandparents went all out each year to ensure our Christmas mornings were filled with in reality far too many gifts, but it made it special, rightly or wrongly the gifts are important to children.
So true to my moto on life, things always do work themselves out, and the competitions have enabled me to hopefully create a great Christmas this year which will hopefully fill the memories of my three children for many many years, but also I have found a new joy in winning these comps, not only was there the thrill of entering, and waiting to see if I had won, there was the joy I felt by someone other than my friends and family giving me a pat on the back for the effort I'd put into making the entries, and there was something else I've gained from these competitions something just as worthy as the prizes themselves.
For they have made me start this blog, this blog which I WILL stick with, that I have been able to write more passionately on than any of my other blogs, this blog means more to me, because I started it hoping to be able to make something more of my prize. and secondly they have enabled me to spread the joy, even if just in a very fractional way. My £200 prize from the Early learning center was more than I could imagine and truly meant the world to me, I however have some very good friends who I know have struggled to give their own children a magical Christmas this year, so I choose to give a small amount to one of my friends to spread my win. I also was able to give 2 gifts to 2 other special families, small as these gifts are, and as relatively un impressive to most, these gifts were only able to be given because I had the luck of winning these competition, otherwise I just wouldn't of been able to as all my spare money always goes on my children.
I still have not been able to buy gifts for everyone who is important to me, actually in honesty some of the most important people to me always fall last on my gift list, because these people understand and don't expect gifts from me, and for that I'm very thankful.
But the true meaning of Christmas surely is giving, and this year I am thankful for the little bit of giving that I have been lucky enough to do, and I hope the gifts I have for my Children and the small token gifts for my friends, spread the joy i have felt since being lucky enough to of won a couple of competitions.
Christmas is also a time where I try and be as charitable as I can, for the past couple of years I have not sent cards out, yes its nice to have a token of good will and a message from friends past and present wishing you well in the coming new year, but these wishes can be spread in other ways, a phone call, an email, or even a visit all mean just as much, if not more to those people close to you, cards do at the end of the day cost a fair bit, the stamps too don't come cheap, and they all get discarded after such a small amount of time. So on request of an amazingly brave friend of mine, who has such a tough year, I donated a small amount instead of buying cards to her chosen charity, and even tho again my gift was small, I know she appreciates it and that is all that matters.

So my point to this post? to encourage everyone to spread their joy, be it in big ways or small, be it by giving gifts or kind words, smiles and hugs, spread the happiness as the holidays will then be happier for everyone.


There is nothing I like more than Christmas, above n beyond seeing the kids faces when they walk down the stairs on Christmas morning to see what goodies have been left by Santa Claus, and the yummy food that everyone seems to buy in its masses... obviously those things are wonderful but there's something else special about the festive season, the memories!

I have just sat and watched the age old classic 'Harry and the Hendersons' film, or Big foot, as more may remember it as. As I sat there and watched the funny 80's classic my mind was cast back to when I was 7 years old watching the same film with my family on a cold winters afternoon, now I'm sitting here with my 7 year old daughter and our family.

I love Christmas, it is firmly up there with my favourite childhood memories, sitting with my sister on Christmas eve making little notes for each other to open through the night, stealing sweets from the tub of roses to place in these said notes for midnight snacks, waking up far to early sneaking in to my sisters room to swap tales of bells and reindeer sightings, finally getting the all clear of my mum and dad, and being able to creep down the stairs with knots in my tummy, the sight of the room filled with presents, ringing my grandparents at silly o clock telling them to come quick as Santa's left presents, trying hard to not open them all before they arrived. Spending boxing day with friends and family, sporting silly paper hats, matching knitted jumpers, or terribly unfashionable printed character T shirts!

The wonder, the excitement, I love it all, and I now get to experience it all again through the eyes of my three children, and I hope I'm making memories for them to look back at some day.

Obviously now as an adult I get to see the other side of Christmas, the stress of trying to make sure you have the ever changing gift list your children keep bring up, the worry and tension of wondering if the food in the cupboard will still be there in a week, hoping the children behave long enough to prevent shouting and tears on the one day of the year you hope is magical. Seeing this side awakes new memories too tho, I remember the joy and excitement of Christmas, I also remember the frustration and upset when I couldn't get my girls world dolls head hairstyle the way I wanted it! Only now I look back and think no wonder sometimes as magical and fun as Christmas may be, tears and frustration are never too far behind, and now I realize my parents had the patients of saints. With three children of my own I see now how upsetting and annoying it is to spend the weeks before Christmas manically trying to get everything together, to get that gift list perfected, to get everything in the right place at the right time, with out prying eyes seeing, to get that wonder, that excitement, that joy takes a fair amount of effort and planning, to then have children who seem unable to realize the work that's gone into it, and to have them seemingly ungrateful is enough to cause even the most soft hearted person to boil over!
But the one thing that will make me smile through any bouts of frustrated tears that I am no doubt going to witness from my hot headed 7 year old, or my temperamental 3 year old, is the thought safe in my mind that one day, one day that will be upon us before we realise, my three children will be sat with their own children, just as I am today, and they will hopefully be reminded of these days, and the joy they experience will overcrowd any frustrated tears. that is what will make me smile this week, that memory of mine of happy Christmas's and the knowledge that one day my children will have similar memories!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

We're for Dogs!

As you may be aware I have a beautiful boxer puppy, Jackson, who was a surprise birthday and Christmas gift from my parents, after we lost our little dog who we'd shared our lives with for the past 12 years.
Jackson is such a lovely bundle of fun, I have always loved and admired the boxer breed, they seem such a lovely fun loving dog, never having been able to own one myself until now, I am literally head of heels for him.

So with my love of facebook creeping in again I stumbled across the amazing 'we're for dogs' facebook page several months ago, before I acquired Jackson, its a wonderful page of dog lovers, sharing their pictures and stories, run by Pedigree. I can honestly say I have never seen such dedication and enthusiasm by a company before, a lady called Janet is the face of the page, and she does a wonderful job for Pedigree, replying to peoples comments and pictures, helping people with problems and advice. I have been frequently visiting this page now for a while, posting initially my tale of sadness that Dennis my four legged faithful friend had passed away, and then more recently uploading my pictures of Jackson eager to share them with others. The comments on the page always make me smile and the friendliness of others is a real nice change to some other forums and groups.
Then the other day I noticed 'we're for dogs' was running a competition game for their faithful four legged friends owners, to win various treats from Pedigree, they had decided to put on a game where by you could pop in and out of a page to see if a fire was burning and the dog was sleeping next to it, or if the fire was out and a present had been passed down the chimney, a novel little game which was very addictive. unfortunately the poor people at Pedigree had a right job with getting it to function smoothly and in the end they had to withdraw the game, however due to Janet's dedication and sheer effort they still managed to give away hundreds of prizes via their facebook page, and we were one of the lucky ones to receive a pack of Pedigree Schmackos.Which arrived this morning just 2 days after winning them, all neatly wrapped in yellow paper with a red ribbon, and a hand written note to Jackson, theres something nice about a personal touch to things and it just shows how much care and attention the people at Pedigree pay to their job, the whole facebook page is a testament to Pedigree and the people who work for them in the way it shows how they really do care about dogs, so a big thumbs up to pedigree, I will definitely be looking what goodies you have on offer next time I go to the supermarket!

Holidays are coming!

Well with fear of bursting into the theme off the coca cola advert - Holidays are coming!!

I am so pleased the children have broken up from school, and we can really start to enjoy the holidays!

The past week has been filled with school parties, secret Santa sessions and Christmas concerts!
My three children are well and truly shattered! The general exhaustion from a 6 week stretch of school is enough to make them grumpy and foul, add that with the anticipation of Santa's visit and its a disaster waiting to happen!

So to see my daughter looking like she was going to fall asleep on her feet at the school Christmas play was not surprising, and to have to shout at the three of them consistently reminding them to play nice and not fight is getting routine. I am hoping though with them now having a week to chill out before the big day itself tempers calm and attitudes relax so that we can all have a lovely Christmas.

I am really looking forward to this Christmas this year, not only do we have our new puppy Jackson, who is sure to entertain us, we have been fortunate enough to have won a Early Learning Center competition which gave us £200 vouchers to spend in their store!

With some amazing offers on we managed to scoop some wonderful bargains!

I simply adore Early Learning Center toys, the quality and playability of them is amazing, with having my eldest who is now coming up to 9, we already have quite a good selection of their toys, all of which have been well played with and very much loved, and all are still going strong!
So when I won the competition and got my £200 vouchers to say I was happy would be an understatement, I was simply ecstatic! and couldn't wait to run and go spend the vouchers!

We got into our local store and couldn't decided on what goodies to pick, the choice is more than adequate, there is literally something for everyone, from books to art materials to huge play sets right down to pocket money stocking fillers.
We already have the Tower of doom,(all be it the old style as you can see in the picture my youngest loves it, we have had it several years now and it is one toy that gets played with again and agian) we also have the pirates ship which is hugely popular here, along with the pirate figures and various knights and bad guys to go with the Tower, however my two boys really are huge fans of all things medieval, and my eldest still plays with the Tower of doom, so we decided to add to our collection and brought the castle of courage which really will give the boys a great role play

As we walked around the store my partners attention kept being drawn to the beautiful cobblestone farm set and the wonderfully realistic schleich animals, so we agreed on a selection of them for my daughter, who is mad on anything with fur, she is an awkward one for toys as she doesn't often show much interest in 'playing' so I am really hoping the farm set and the realism of the animals will grab her imagination, and because of the amazing 50% off sale, we managed to grab a load of swampsterz, which I'm sure will be a huge hit to my youngest, and this amazing Dino racer set which looks a lot of fun!

I will do reviews of all these toys but obviously at the moment Father Christmas is very kindly looking after them for me, and if my three behave extremely well we are hoping he brings them on Christmas eve night!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Animal Planet Wild eyesT Rex Review

Included in my 'do you have what it takes to be a toyologist' Toys R us runner up prize box, we were lucky enough to have a Animal Planet wild eyes T Rex, priced at £19.97 available now at Toys R us

The age range on T rex states 3+ so my youngest son got to test this one!
He instantly was attracted to him (what little boy doesn't like dinosaurs!) and was eager to get him out of his box, which was easily enough achieved, a few wires holding him in place but didn't take too long to remove, He needs batteries, but these are already included and so he works straight away.

the description on the box states: These cool soft toy dino's look, move and sound just like real dinosaurs! Simply press the claw and watch them come to life with realistic sounds and movement, and light up wild eyes!

They are a nice size for children to hold, and you press the foot to activate the sounds and movements, the eyes flash and dino roars and moves his head.

As far as realism goes I would say the dino isn't amazingly real, but that would be difficult to achieve on a soft toy, the body has a Velcro fastening section which stores the batteries.
His legs are firm and can be slightly repositioned he is not a cuddly toy in such sense of the word but more of a play toy due to the mechanics inside him he is not soft and cuddly, however my son likes to walk round with him under his arm!
There are 3 to collect in the dinosaur range, these are all pictured on the box, and my son was pointing out the other dinos displayed asking if he could have them too. I have also noticed Animal planet do a range of several other animals including tigers, crocodiles elephants etc these range in size and price from £19.99 to £39.99

I do think this makes a nice little toy, however priced at £19.97 i feel that is a little high so he probably wouldn't be on my Christmas list, but would be great if you had a very kean dinosaur fan!
The play factor will soon wear off as his movements are fairly limited and his sound is very repetitive, there is no interaction from him in anyway he doesn't respond to touch, sound or anything like that, it is a simple press button on the foot, and the sound and movement is the same each time, the other dinos in the range would not interact so there is little point in collect them all, unless your little one is mad on dinosaurs.

But that said all three of my children including my daughter aged 7 liked him and wanted to play, but it was only my youngest who's interest was still present the next day, with that in mind I think the price at just a smidgen under £20 is fairly high so our overall rating is 6 out of 10

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Review - Robotic Hand

In our Toys R us box we had a robotic hand making kit, by kidz labs.

This instantly caught J's eye, and he was eager to get it out and start making it!

The product description states 'Build your own robotic human hand and amaze your friends with its realistic gripping movements. Robot hand will grab your imagination'
on sale here at Toys R us for £9.99

This product states for ages over 8, and I totally agree.

J opened up the box and set about trying to build his hand, it comes with fairly simple pieces, which are a reasonable size, and a piece of fishing line, you will need some scissors and a pen to complete the hand, and an ability to tie fiddly knots!

Jake sat with the hand for a good half hour before he asked for help
It was the knots which he was struggling with, the idea of the kit is to tie together the pieces and then you can pull the pulleys when it is complete to make the fingers move in a realistic motion.
you are required to tie three knots in each piece of line, and it does get increasingly difficult as you proceed in building the hand, J could not master the knots and so I was left struggling with it.
It was very fiddly and I almost threw it out the window a couple of times, but after I had finally tied the knots in the correct places J was over the moon with the hand!
I think it makes a nifty little gift for those awkward older boys, and once the hand was put together all three of my children wanted to have ago, J said he would definitely tell his friends to buy it, so overall I'd say 7 out of 10 for the fact it could be left in the box unmade if you weren't an amazingly good knot tier, but if you do master the knots then you have a pretty good robotic hand which is sure to entertain, priced at £9.99 I think that is correctly priced.

To be gratetful..

Today we received the Toys R us, runner up prize, for their 'have you got what it takes to be a toyologist?' competition, so with wide eyes and grabbing arms I let my three children loose on the big box that had been brought to our door.

take a look at the above picture, a perfect picture of gratefulness right?

Take another look

My two boys from the second I brought in the box, had massive smiles on their faces, their eyes lit up with delight to see what was inside, my daughter however from the second she clapped eyes on the box looked more weary, like she was pre building herself up to be let down, and true to form when we opened the box the boys gasps of delight were obvious, C on the other hand took half a glance n slunk off saying 'there's nothing I like!'

What makes a child grateful, or ungrateful?
I think the anticipation of gifts, (they have asked me everyday since we won the comp when the toyologist toys would come!) but then being faced with the reality of not knowing what was included, was a bit too much for C to comprehend so instead of show delight in something she was not sure of, she choose to not allow herself to be let down.
she instead of being eager to rip of the tape to see what goodies were inside had already decided there must be nothing of interest, that way it didn't matter if there wasn't?

When she turned and said she did not like what was sent, I gave her a stern telling that these were gifts and she should be grateful of them, she sat and watched the boys marvel over the gifts for a few minutes pondering how to react, then soon came around and in that moment I think she perhaps learnt how to be a little more grateful.

And grateful we truly are!

Lucky streak or creative genius?

I have just discovered the wonderful world of facebook competitions!
and am loving every minute of it!

I am a big fan of facebook, I am a fan of several companies pages, as I have noticed they often have really good offers and discount vouchers specifically on their facebook pages with some great discounts and promotions.
As its nearly Christmas and I have three children my mind has been on searching out good bargains to fill Santa's sack, I found my way to the Toys R us facebook page, and noticed they were running a competition to find a new 'toyologist' someone who reviews toys they get sent from Toys R us.

Great!! free toys! what more could you want on the run up to Christmas?

The competition was to write on their facebook wall, with a photo and/or video attached explaining why you would make a good toyologist.

photos! great that sounds like my sort of competition, so I decided to put my own spin on it and made this photo to enter:I watched their facebook wall on and off for the next few days and saw their fan numbers rise by the minute where hundreds of hopefuls were putting in their entry.
Then the end date arrived and to my amazement I received an email from Geoffery the Giraffe stating I was one of the runners up!

The buzz of entering the competition, the anticipation hoping you had won, and then the excitement you feel when your told you have indeed won is amazing, and I was hooked!

I started to look at other facebook pages specifically to see if they had any competitions running, and noticed Early Learning Center had a comp on their facebook page.
Asking people to create a 30 second video bringing the toys to life.
so we went to work and created our entry which you can view here:

I was amazed to hear back from ELC saying we had won their competition and they would send us £200 vouchers.

New Year, New Blog

Well we're coming up to a new year! 2011
Can you believe it?

So seems as it will be a new year, I figured I'd make myself a new blog, I have dabbled in and out of various blogs for a while now and never stuck faithfully to any of them, I want to make sure this year that changes, I want to find my home in the blog land and get my thoughts down somewhere all together.
I have so many interests and different aspects to my online and real life I guess that's why I never seem to commit to just any one blog, and then with lots of little bits here there and everywhere I find it off putting and don't continue with any of them..

But that's going to change!

One blog, one place one life - This is me!

Everything is going to be here, from my parenting trials and tribulations, to my dog training to my photography and scrapbooking!
and everything else that when rolled together makes my life.

I hope you join me for the ride!
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