Saturday, 30 July 2011

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Summer dayz

Lazy summers afternoons lovely aren't they?

Well they are when they're like today, the sun is shining, my daughter is busy making little puppets out of straws and paper and bits and bobs to put on her own play,

my boys are sat in the garden with their star wars figures engrossed in their own world.

All is calm and peaceful.

Isn't it great when you catch a few hours like that?

Before all changes, and it will no doubt, the boys start to fight over who's going to have Darth Vader, and Chloe ups and leave the room a complete mess with thousands of tiny cut out bits of paper all over the floor..

ah well for now at least, I'm enjoying the calm.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

you can make a difference too

I am doing this post because I am passionate about helping people, about giving things back and trying to make a difference. I am not well off nor am I a perfect parent, I do not have it all and I as much as most struggle along trying to find the right way. But one thing that I do is give up a few hours a week to help someone else, as part of my local Homestart, because I know how hard it can be and how sometimes just a little support makes all the differance. I am writing this in the hope you take five minutes of your time to read it and learn about Homestart, share its message.

is an amazing charity with so little recognition its silly, some people may have heard of home start, others may automatically think of it in the same way as sure start centers or such schemes. Homestart is different. Homestart really makes a difference.

So what 'does' homestart do...

they do so much but from the words of homestarts website

"Home-Start supports almost 73,000 vulnerable children across the UK. Last year, our 16,000 volunteers gave a million hours of support to their families. We help them cope with post-natal illness, isolation, bereavement, disability, domestic violence and much more"

So what does that really mean? it means that in most communities across the UK there are homestart schemes running, often quietly giving much needed and much appreciated support. The Team consist of Trustees, a manger, and organizers who look after everyone in their scheme, they enrol families and train the volunteers, then there are as many volunteers as the organizers can find and train who like me, give up just a few hours of their free time each week with no payment to go and help another family. To offer support in almost anyway possible, they help by just being there, by having that time to really care, to reassure and give confidence to stand with them at mother and baby groups so the new mum is not isolated, to help take twins to doctors appointments or toddlers to the park to run off that energy, they help mothers whos family live miles away, or families who have suffered bereavement, familes with multiple births, or special needs, offering a real person who genuinely cares and is there to help talk things through, to sign post you to services who can help and to have a non judgemental, confidential listening ear, they help support families to enable them to make it through difficult times without the need for intervention from elsewhere, sometimes just a friendly face is all anyone needs.

Homestart not only help the very poorest of families or those at most risk, they offer their support to anyone, of any race, social class and situation, their only criteria is that you have a child under 5, it is a great support to families with multiples or those who have partners who work long hours, or people who are new to an area and just need a friendly person to show them around.

"Many parents need help, friendship, advice or support during those early years when children are young. There is no rulebook for raising a family and sometimes it can seem overwhelming, particularly if your family is going through difficult times."

Homestart volunteers are not social workers, they are not there to judge or tell you what to do, they are there to reassure and support, they give confidence and offer both emotional and practical support. Volunteers are not perfect they are not special they are simply parents who know how hard it is, we volunteers are real people who really care and that is what makes homestart such an amazing support network.

With alot of funding being taken away from services like homestart, now is more important than ever to help raise the profile of the schemes that really do work, that really are making a difference, homestart is one such scheme.

If you can take 10 minutes of your day to read this, to pass it on, to talk about homestart then that is a help, if you can support your local scheme in anyway by doing any funding or by raising its profile it will be appreciated, if you would like to become a volunteer or know more then contact your local scheme it really does make a difference!

And lastly, homestart does make a difference to families the volunteers really do help, but the course to train the volunteers is an amazing experience and being a volunteer is rewarding in itself so not only does homestart help the families it supports, it helps the families who are volunteers too.

Take a look here for some videos of how homestart makes a real differance: Videos and Podcasts

Be sure to watch Actor Max Browns Appeal.


Winner of the Moon Dough Ice Cream

Thanks for all the entries into our Moon Dough Ice Cream Competition with Toys R us uk Toyologist Program

We have once again put all the entrants into a hat and this time my Daughter picked out a winner...

and the Lucky Winner is... Susi Ludlow

I will be contacting you very soon to collect your delivery info

Thanks again and remember to look out for next months competition!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

I want to ride my bicycle...

I'm sure lots of children up and down he country this summer will be giving the 2 wheels a try, maybe for the first time, maybe to try and finish what was started before.
Whats the right age to take the stabilizers off? well I guess thats a personal choice, some children will take to 2 wheels straight away and be zooming up and down in no time even when they are quite young, I know 3 year olds who have mastered 2 wheels amazingly quickly and 7 year olds who still struggle.

I've helped several children try and master the 2 wheels, I love bikes I don't drive myself so bike is my mode of transport, I remember many happy childhood days pedaling off on my bike, it gave me a sense of freedom and I still love it today so when my eldest two cracked the two wheels I was thrilled Jake was about 6 when he mastered it, and Chloe was 5 because I taught them together. The key I think is plenty of praise and persistence, it is no good getting snappy because they fall off a few time sand your getting tired of running behind them, keep at it they will eventually get there!

I've spent many days running up and down along the stretch of side road and eventually they were off, Chloe was more adamant to master it herself and didn't really like me helping her along or pushing her, She just wanted to be left to sort it out herself and she did really well. And once they had mastered it we were off we spent the next year or so cycling lots we rode to school and back every day for a couple of years in all weather ( we at the time lived about a mile and half away from the school) I prided myself in their confidence and ability. then I helped teach my neighbours twins to ride their bikes although they weren't as confidence it boiled down to the amount of practise they 'could' do it but just needed lots of reinforcement and lots and lots of practise.

So this summer although Mikey is a fair bit younger he wants to ditch those stabilizers and keep up with his brother and sister.

I don't have a 12" wheeled bike, only a 16" one, which is a bit on the big side, but he could mange it fine with stabilizers so I thought we'd give it ago, if he can't master its size I'll have to get hold of a smaller one for him, my eldest two being that bit older when they got their first bikes only ever had 16" wheels. when it comes to which to buy its a hard choice, to go to a shop is definitely worth it and let your children sit on them, ideally to learn they do need to be able to put their feet on the floor so buying a bike that is too big will be too hard for them to maneuver and may put them off, but equally too small can make it harder.

So yesterday we took Mikey and his two wheeled bike to the park, and we ran up and down, up and down, he did really well although hes not confident enough yet to ride far and hes still wobbles everywhere but we'll keep going and keep practising and hopefully he'll be racing along with his brother and sister really soon!

Monday, 25 July 2011

keep your brain occupied before the zombies eat them...

Children and holidays can be brain numbing for everyone can't they? All the children want to do is play video games or watch DVDs or sit on your shoulder mumbling about how boring it is, So is there anything which can keep them entertained which you all can have fun with?
Any video games which aren't involving running around shooting at each other with guns?

Pop Cap have a whole host of computer games which children and adults can enjoy, the games range from word puzzles to more action filled strategy games like Plants Vs Zombies which will have the whole family laughing and playing together.

We have been huge Plants Vs Zombies Fans since it was released in May 2009, and have been playing it ever since trying to protect our Brains!

The aim of the game is to plant various plants to hold off the onslaught of Zombies who are trying to get to the house to eat your brains, sounds abit gruesome doesn't it? But it is such a friendly family game the Zombies are almost cute and not at all scary. The game is a easy strategy tower defense game, you have to decided which layout of plants will be best to defend against the various Zombies who come along. as you progress through the levels you find new plants and new zombies, unlock mini games and puzzles, it is strangely addictive you will find yourself eager to get the children to bed so you can play it yourself!

The Zombies advance across your garden from the right, you collect sun glows to clock up your sun score which you can use to buy plants and place them down, as you go through the game not only do you find new zombies who do various things (dolphins, football players, dancers etc) but you go through different garden scenes, some with a pool, some without, some at night and even on the roof (those zombies are pretty persistent!) But fear not the plants you will find have different features which help you out, including a selection of mushrooms to help you when its not so sunny! You also will find the key to Crazy Daves shop and be able to grow your own plants in a zen garden. Even after completing this game there is so much to do the fun never ends, and for the competitive ones of you there are great endless modes for you to fight to hold the biggest streak!

I really want to write something to portray just how fun this game is but describing it just doesn't cut the mustard So if you haven't already seen this great game pop over to popcaps website and you'll find free trials for all their great games, and you can give it ago your self!

plants vz Zombies is available on DS and XBOX aswell as on windows PC and Mac, and some smartphones for you to play on the go, great to entertain anyone on long journeys!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Anything you can do...

I have really been enjoying my blog, its lovely to be able to have somewhere to express myself and showcase my photos, I love making video reviews its been so much fun that the whole family has been getting involved in.
My daughter whos 8 loves to write, she has always been interested in writing down her thoughts and she has been closely watching when I write my blog and so she asked if she could create her own. I thought this would be a good way for her to keep writing through the summer holidays and help encourage her to learn new spellings and writing techniques.So her and her friend set a blog up this afternoon

(obviously i will always proof read her posts before she posts them to make sure shes not saying anything out of turn and shes not getting into trouble)

So if any of you feel like showing her a little bit of blog love then please pop over and say hi :)

Friday, 22 July 2011

Family Fun at Rosliston

We are lucky enough to live in some amazing countryside, our favourite pass time is to get out and explore!

With the National Forest surrounding us, we're really close to some lovely parks, our favourite Forestry park is Rosliston in Swadlincote Derbyshire, which is a really lovely place to go for a family day out, any time of the year and whatever the weather!

''This Derbyshire attraction is home to kestrels, owls and kingfishers as well as bats and butterflies in summer, while Rosliston's mix of woodland, fishing lake, walks, cycle routes - plus cycle hire- and play areas is tailor-made for a great family day out.''

It really is a lovely place, it is free to enter, except for the small parking charge (80p an hour or £2 a day) There are beautiful woodlands to walk through and several trails to follow, the play areas are all wooden and spread throughout the site.

The main play area is split into three parts, with a huge wooden owl at the front, then as you venture down there are more play areas, sanded areas for the little ones, and adventure courses for the older ones, plus a huge open space of grass.

Picnic tables are close to the play areas so you can sit and watch as the children play, and take your own picnic to enjoy outside

There is also a lovely cafe on site which provided food and drinks if you don't want to do a picnic and there is also an indoor soft play area if the weather isn't great.

The woodland walks are great for bikes or disability scooters, both of which can be hired from the center. Along the paths you can find lovely secluded play areas and more adventure trails which keep the children entertained on the walks.

There are always lots of activities which may included a small charge, but there is something for everyone from pond dipping to archery. But it really isn't essential to participate in any activities to enjoy this beautiful place, every time we go my children find something new and interesting to discover and often meet new friends whilst there as they build bridges in the streams and go on bug hunts!

Check out the Rest of the National Forest by visiting the National Forest Website here: Visit National

I'm Bored....

Summer holidays, no matter how much you love or loath them, all of us will have similar dilemmas as we try to plan fun things to entertain the family without breaking the bank!

'I'm bored! will surely be heard more than once or twice through the next six week, but with a little bit of forward planning you can minimize the stress and boredom for everyone!

With this in mind I've decided I'm going to put together a Family Fun Top Days Out list, which you will now see on the right hand side of my blog, when I've finished updting it you will find lots of great fun family days out, some free to do activities and then the low down on those that you have to pay to enter so you can work out if its worth splashing the cash at these venues.

Obviously the six weeks don't need to be taken up planning a trip out everyday, I will be doing lots of posts too about fun things to do in your own home, along with the low down on the best new games and toys!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

It's Magic!!

We received Magic Science in our second Toyology box from Toys R us UK

I must admit I'm not normally a fan of this type of kits, quite often you need a fair amount of 'extras' which you never have and it is pretty much a certain that a mess will follow with very little else resulting!

We tried out disgusting science before Christmas and it was not that great, my children pestered me every day to get it set out and when I finally plucked up the courage to get it out and set it up it was a let down for everyone, the experiments did nothing much there was a whole lot of waiting around and not much end out put other than a mess for mum to clean up!

So when I saw Magic Science in my box I must admit I groaned slightly!

However I was Magically surprised by this kit.

In the box you get a rack and 3 test tubes, which are a goods size, and some goggles along with several packets of powders, a few sheets of paper, some sticky stars and a very clear simple to understand instruction book, after a quick flick through the book I was not as distressed about allowing the children to give this kit a go.

It didn't require much of anything else except water, to complete the majority of the experiments, (only other thing you need is vegetable oil for two of the activities) the experiments sounded fun and easy to complete.

Along with the experiments to find fizzing bubbling colour changing potions included in this kit there is a magical paper hat and a wand to make so you can really feel the part as you do your magic experiments.

Chloe and me set about making the magic wand, it was simple to do, just needing water and the powders in the kit, It did take about 3 hours for the crystals to be made but you can get on with doing the experiments without your wand if you choose, and all other experiments have a instant reaction.

The other experiments include making invisible ink, and a glow in the dark potion which were great fun, our favourite was the fizzing bubbling frenzy There is plenty of powders in the kit to give the experiments another go (apart from the glow in the dark which has enough for once only)

We really enjoyed mixing and experimenting with the different powders changing colours and amounts of 'fizz' and we will definitely be playing with this kit again until the powders run out, unlike the disgusting science, which I throw away as soon as the kids weren't looking!

you can get hold of this great science kit from Toys R us online now for £12.99
which I think is a good price, it is sure to be a hit with any Harry Potter fan, or indeed anyone who's interested in magic or science in general. It is simple enough for children to do alone if they wanted or it's great to do together. The suggested age is 10+ If you wanted them to do this alone than I would say the age rating is fair, but younger children can certainly enjoy this set with a bit of adult input.

Here's Chloe making her magic Wand.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Keep the kids active this summer!

Last week I received an email from the PR people at Robinsons asking if I would like to test their new online social activity game aimed at school aged Children called Champion of the playground.

I'd not heard about this new online game, and thought it'd be good to put it through its paces.

So when the box with a digital skipping rope, a digital beanbag style ball called the digi kick, along with a webcam and crown landed on my door mat I was eager to find out what it was all about.

You remember last year Robinsons ran a advert 'whats your juice?' to try and inspire children to try out new skills They have this year given the website a revamp and developed a whole new online game called 'champions of the playground' Maybe your children have already started talking about it?

Basically the concept is that you can play online and create your own Virtual Avatar

You can then use your character to play online games, the various games have web cam options where you can play in a interactive style, where you move around the webcam picks up your movements and uses that to control the game.

The little online characters stack up ontop of each other and each time you get a higher score your little character jumps up the stack until you are the champion of the playground and claim the crown, there are three leader boards to keep an eye on : one shows the 'All Time Leader', one shows the 'Weekly leader', and one shows your 'friends' only.

When you create your character you pick out a triple barrel name from their list, so its perfectly safe no 'real' names are involved, no personal info apart from an email address is required for sign up and its really simple to get going. Once you have your character you can find your friends if you know their unique name and add them to your friends leader board and then compete to see who can earn trophies and stay at the top of the leader boards.

But the main draw to the fun is that you can purchase a Digi - Skip, and a Digi Kick (retailing at the mo for £10 each including P&P but I have noticed they are running a competition where they are giving 100 kits away aday! ) these great bits of kit enable you to track your progress as you learn new skills, and as you use the digital kit they clock up points and give you an unique code to input into the website which results in you gaining more points and pushes you up the leader boards!

This is a really fun idea and it hopefully will get kids interested in being active, all three of mine love the digi kit and have been playing with it constantly trying to beat each others scores!
Chloe who loves skipping really likes the digi rope as she can keep trying to better her score which is great, the ball is fun but as yet all three of mine are still learning with this one (but we're not really very footbally people so its a new skill) It has been loads of fun for us as a family and something we will continue to play with and practise new skills together!

So if you haven't already, pop on over to the new Fruitshoot website and be sure to enter the digi kit competition by clicking here: Fruitshoot competition and hopefully you will get your hands on some digi kits a great way to entertain the kids and keep them active this summer holiday!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Play Doh Smashed Potatoe Game Review

We were sent a play doh smashed potatoes game to review by the lovely people over at Toys R us uk

It seems like alot of companies are trying their hands at board games, with lego bringing out a series of board games last year, now Play doh have given it ago.

Inside the box you get 4 tubs of playdough, in 4 different colours: Red, ~Yellow, Orange and Purple, you get two potato moulds, a game board which needs some adult assembly (only takes a few minutes) and a spinner.

The idea of the game is to make a play doh counter and start in the bag of potatoes in the kitchen, then spin the spinner to see how much you can move, race along the plates on the game board and try and avoid the smashing, mashing, cutting utensils that are in your path.

On the spinner there are numbers 1 -4 clear marked, and a mash symbol and a 'run ahead' symbol. If you spin a mash symbol you can mash anyone who's unlucky enough to be on the kitchen utensils. If you get mashed then you remould your potatoes and start again at the start, The 'run ahead' option on the spinner is great for easy catch up, so that if you do get 'mashed' your still in with a chance!

We had loads of fun with this game and have played it everyday so far, my youngest is 4 and he adores this. The kitchen utensils that make up the middle of the board are quite loose fitting, so you do have to be careful when you're mashing that you hold them steady, else they will slide about abit, also the scissors for snipping the potatoes do have a tendency to pop out of place, but all in all this hasn't stopped us having fun with this game.
The age rating is 5+ my son has only just turned 4 and did mange fine, but I can see that this might not be so for everyone under 5, as like I say the mashing does require some degree of fine motor skills and carefulness, so I would say the age rating is very suited, although obviously it is such a fun game even very young children would enjoy it with adult help.

The board is brightly coloured and attractive, the instructions are simple and straight forward, game play is about 15 - 20 minutes (sometimes sooner if you happen to miss all the mashing!)

And once you've finished it all tidies away back into its box!

Overall we love Play doh smashed Potato game, and think it will become a firm favourite on family game nights, it really is something the whole family can enjoy together Big Thumbs up from us.

Heres my video review:

Win Moon Dough Ice Cream Set!

Its competition Time agian!

Thanks to Toys R us UK I am once again able to offer another chance to join in my toyology fun!

As you will know as part of the Toyologist program we get to test some of the latest and greatest toys and showcase our reviews on the fab Toys R us, Toy Box application on Facebook, and each month I am offering a chance for you to grab one of the toys to review yourself.

For my July Competition I have a Moon Dough Ice Cream Sundae Set To give away to one lucky Follower.

To be in with a chance to get your hands on this fab set all you need to do is at least 2 of the following:

  • Follow me on Twitter and Tweet : @sarahdazjc is giving away a fab moon sand set @TRUtoyologists #win
Once you have done that then please
  • Leave me a comment here with a way to contact you
  • Send me an Email with your details to :

Competition closes at 5pm on Wednesday 27th July 2011, and I will once again pick a winner at random, after I have picked the winner I will contact to confirm your delivery details. Competition only open to the UK and you must supply me with your delivery details within 48hours of the competition closing to ensure Fast delivery
I would love for the winner to review the product for me to post here on my blog and on the toys R us facebook page. Thank you.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Artisto Toyologist Review

We were sent an Artisto from Toys R us

When this box arrived I thought, humm that's going to be too small for my lot, the box is really deceptive and is roughly 2ft square, The picture on the box shows two quite young children sat at the desk so I was unsure how big it really would be and if my eldest two would be able to squeeze in to sit at it.

When I opened the box we were greeted with several brightly coloured pieces, some stickers a tiny bag of screws, and a perspex sheet, along with some simple instructions, its a mystery how it all fit in the box!

Putting the table together was really simple The main bulk of it simply clipped into place, the perspex screen needed a handful of screws to hold it together and that was it.

Once put up you got to see just how big this table is, its an impressive 122cm, or 4 ft long by 65cm or 2ft wide, which is plenty big enough for my children, including my 8 and 9 year olds to sit at comfortably.

It's an original concept having the clear perspex sheet in the middle of the board, instead of your standard black board design. Because it is clear brings a whole near concept to drawing, you can make a scene where you can draw sections together without having to nudge and smudge each others art work, which my eldest two loved, they could draw people and the other could add extras such as hats or swords etc which everyone found hilarious! also because you can interact with each others drawings games such as tic tac toe (naughts and crosses) works amazingly, all three of mine have spent hour paying games such as this, and squares (you know where you have several dots on the page and take it in turns to draw a line until you can make a square... )

So from initially thinking it would only be of interest to my youngest this table has proven a massive hit for my eldest! Their games keep expanding they were playing their own version of Tron at it yesterday.

Obviously you can use it as a standard easel by clipping paper to the board, it also has nice cup holders for any art equipment. The only down side to this great arts table is that it doesn't come with any art equipment, so there was no pens in the box which was slightly disheartening as otherwise it really is a great table!

Heres my video Review:

Friday, 15 July 2011

Toyology Box 2

We have really enjoyed testing all the toys we received in box one, and still are buzzing about being included in this amazing year of toy testing.

We received our box 2, which is packed full of rainy day fun items! Which is great seems as we've woke up today and guess what? - its raining!
With the school holidays fast approaching it really couldn't be better we will give all these toys a great test so make sure you keep a eye open for our reviews!

Thanks Geoffrey Giraffe and all those who work hard at Toys R us to make the toyologist program what it is, also take a few minutes to pop over to the Toys R us facebook page, and check out the amazing new app called Toys R us Toy Box, where all the Toyologists reviews are found together in an easy to search place.

When you want to know what toys are great where better to look than a toy box! Here you'll be able to find the latest reviewed products, or search by age range or type of toy, you'll also be able to meet the toyologist team and see our profiles and all our reviews, leave comments or ask questions so its a great place to go if you want to see whats hot or not in the toy world!

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