Sunday, 30 November 2014

My Sunday Photo

Sometimes in life, it pays to look up.

I spend a decent amount of time in London with my job.  Every time I go, I walk from Euston to Kings Cross, and I'm always head down, focused on my day and what I need to do when I get to the office.  

This week though, I looked up and saw the beautiful St Pancras hotel building.  Isn't it stunning?  I've glanced at it hundreds of time, but this week I actually stopped to notice the architecture.  It's amazing.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Music exploration - what we loved this month

I love the idea of Bubba Blue and Me's music exploration linky.  Music is such an important part of our lives, and our kids both love to sing and dance.  The linky reminded me to document this, and the things we're all loving to do with music at the moment.

What we're listening to

For some reason, our son and toddler girl both like rock music (must be their Dad's influence!), and we had to stop everything we were doing the other day to listen and 'rock' to Guns n Roses when Chris Evans played it on his breakfast show.

Our son also loves Ellie Goulding which has been playing in my car for a while.  He knows all the words to tracks 16 and 18!

What we're singing

Toddler girl is picking up words and rhymes so quickly now.  Just this morning she was singing Three Blind Mice, and knows some of the words and actions to The Wheels on the Bus.  Repetition and music is so important to vocabulory and I think our music and movement sessions every Friday for the last year and half are really paying off!

Our son's nativity play is coming up soon, and he's been singing Christmas songs for a week or so now.  His favourite is 'Rocking Around the Christmas Tree', and he corrects me on the words everytime!

What we're dancing to

Toddler girl loves her Chicco Music Band Table.  We got it as part of the Happiness Tested campaign, but it is honestly, genuinely one of her most favourite toys.  She loves to press the buttons and make the music play, and then she'll dance and look over to check you're watching.  So cute.

Linking up with Bubba Blue and Me, I'd love to know how music features in your lives at the moment.

Bubbablue and me music linky

Friday, 28 November 2014

Win Chicco Musical Tales Singing Bear [now closed]

To celebrate Chicco's great new Facebook competition, I'm giving away a Chicco prize of my own!

Chicco's Facebook competition gives you the chance to be a Christmas elf and fill Santa's sleigh with Chicco toys.  You can win £50 of toys every week in the run up to Christmas, and one lucky winner will receive a whole bundle of toys plus a Merlin annual family pass at the end of the competition. Great!

I'm giving away this brilliant Chicco Musical Tales Singing Bear to one lucky reader.  It's a wonderfully soft, interactive, teddy bear that's bilingual and shares stories in both English and French.  The bear comes with five story cards in his backpack, to help kids learn the alphabet, numbers, parts of the body, shapes, colours, animals and all about travelling in both languages.

With four songs and melodies by pressing his hands and feet and three different buttons to push, your little one will be entertained for hours!  This great toyis suitable from 12m+ and is available in Boots and Toys R Us this Christmas for a price of £40.

To try and win this fab bilingual bear, just complete the Rafflecopter below.  Don't forget to tweet every day for even more entries.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • You must be resident in the UK to enter. Prize will be shipped to a UK address.
  • Competition runs from 28th November 2014 until 23:59 on 3rd December 2014.
  • Entry is via one and/or more of the methods in Rafflecopter widget.
  • Winner(s) will be chosen at random by Rafflecopter.  Winning entries will be checked and must be current at time of checking.
  • There is one prize.  The prize is one Chicco Musical Tales Singing Bear.  Chicco may substitute for product of equal or greater value in the very unlikely event the prize is unavailable.  There is no cash alternative.
  • The winner(s) will be contacted by email or on Twitter (if appropriate) by 8th December 2014 and asked to confirm their delivery address within 48 hours.  If no reply is received, a new winner may be chosen.
  • Winner's details will be passed to Chicco's marketing and PR team, so the prize can be shipped.
  • We'll do our utmost to get the prize to the winner within 14 days, but can’t guarantee it.
  • The winner's name, as registered when logged into Rafflecopter will be displayed after the end of the competition.
  • Judge’s decision is final.
Win competitions at  Also listed on Loquax

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Christmas countdown - four weeks to go

Welcome along to Christmas Countdown, it's the place to link up any Christmas themed posts, competitions, tweets or Instagram pics. The link up opens every Thursday evening, and closes again the following Wednesday. Please join in - any old or new posts are very welcome.

I have been thinking about Christmas for a while now, but I can't believe there are only four weeks to go until Christmas day.  How are you doing with your shopping? 

Last week I loved reading all the #ChristmasCountdown posts, and my very favourite was a really simple but totally effective paper star home made garland from Playing Parent.  This is such a simple but effective idea, I love it!

What festive things are you up to this week?  I'd love to know.  Please grab the badge if you'd like to, and don't forget to comment on another post or two while you're here.  Merry Christmas!

Me add three

Family life is...

A never ending washing and laundry basket.

This is a small amount of ironing in our house.  It has been known for me to outsource it when I'm overwhelmed by it (regularly!).

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A day at the NEC Classic Car show

We all spent an enjoyable day at the NEC Classic Car show a week or two ago.  It's difficult to fully describe how much our son comes alive around cars.  He loves everything about them, and stands and looks over every detail.

A particular highlight for him was seeing Edd China and Mike Brewer from Wheeler Dealers.  WD is a show on Discovery where Mike buys old but classic cars, Edd restores them and they're re-sold hopefully at a profit.  Forget CBeebies, our son LOVES this programme and will happily watch it for hours.

The picture shows him on his Dad's shoulders, listening intently to Mike announce the car of the show.

If you'd asked me a few years ago, a day looking at cars wouldn't have been top of my list of things to do, but I enjoyed it too, especially because our son loved it so much.

I'd love to know if your kids are fascinated by anything in particular.. how do you encourage it?

Monday, 24 November 2014

All the details - Chicco Urban travel system review

Buying a travel system can be a boggling experience for new or expectant parents.  There are so many around and with no experience of what you will need, it can be really hard to choose.

The Chicco Urban travel system is a great all-rounder, with details that show the design and practicalities have really been thought about.  I saw this travel system and its new features at the recent Chicco 2015 collection launch event.  I hadn't realised before that Urban easily converts to a travel system with the addition of a Auto-Fix Gr0+ car seat.

Urban is versatile, lightweight and ideal for city and town life with a little one.  I love love love the fact that the seat converts to a cot with no extra bulky attachment needed.  When in seat mode it can be forward or parent facing, and has different reclining positions.  This makes it so versatile and compact.

I also love the wheels which are no-puncture plastic/rubber (like a classic stroller).  Not only do they make this system really portable, but they're quiet and perfect for on or off-road.  No inner tubes repairs needed - ever.

The shopping basket is a great size too, and would easily hold a change bag, plus all the other extras you need an buy when out and about.  This is a lovely detail - so many shopping baskets are an unrealistic size.

New for 2015 are fabulous colour packs and a brilliant hand muff that can be used by parent or baby.  This shows Chicco has really thought about the extras that will make parents love this travel system.

The colours packs all feature a padded seat cover which the harness neatly fits around a pram 'apron' to keep baby ultra snuggly, and harness safety pads.  Not forgetting that brilliant hand muff.

The summer pack comes in neutral colours 'Summer Nature' (sage green) and 'Summer Sahara' (light beige), and I love the vibrant winter colour packs 'Winter Night' (electric blue) and 'Winter Sunset' (electric pink) pictured in this post.

The travel system has an RRP of £399, and the colour pack £59.99.  Well worth it for such a versatile and great looking travel system.  Don't you think?

Disclaimer: toddler girl and I are proud to be Chicco Happiness Testers, but I was not asked to write this post and all thoughts as ever are my own.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

My Sunday Photo

Our son loves to ride his scooter to school, and even takes it when it's raining.  Here he is trying to line up and stop his scooter on one of the grids near our house.  He was determined to get it in the middle!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Christmas countdown - five weeks to go

Welcome along to Christmas Countdown, it's the place to link up any Christmas themed posts, competitions, tweets or Instagram pics. The link up opens every Thursday evening, and closes again the following Wednesday. Please join in - any old or new posts are very welcome!

Can you believe there are only five weeks to go until Christmas day? Eep! We've been getting festive round here, and as I type I have some no-alcohol Christmas mincemeat merrily cooking in my slow cooker and making my house smell delicious! I'm also feeling inspired by Pinterest - check out my Christmas Inspiration board.

What Christmassy things have you been up to?  Last week I loved reading about Ellie Bear Babi's crafty candy cane Christmas decorations - they are so easy to make and look fab! You can read about them over on her blog.

Please grab the badge and link up, not forgetting to comment on another post or two while you're here.  If you do link up, enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a fantastic Paperchase Christmas Countdown sticker book. 

Have a great festive week!

Me add three

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Fill your Xmas stockings for free - some great competitions

Christmas can be such an expensive time, any help with cheap or even free presents for the kids is always welome in my house.  Entering (and hopefully winning) competitions is a great way of receiving wonderful parcels and treats for family and friends that you wouldn't normally buy yourself.  It earns you loads of brownie points at Christmas too!

There are some great pre-Christmas toy competitions around at the moment, here are three of my favourite which are perfect if you have children to buy for:

Win Chicco toys weekly, and an overall bundle of toys and Merlin pass with Chicco Sleigh 

There are two great chances to win in this great Facebook competition where you become a Chicco elf and choose the toys to be added to Santa's sleigh.

You can win £50 of Chicco toys every week in the run up to Christmas, and one lucky winner will receive all the toys voted to go into Santa's sleigh plus a Merlin annual family pass at the end of the competition.  Great! We're currently on week three, and the prize is a fantastic Quattro 4 in 1 ride on toy.

Vote for the toy to go into Santa's sleigh from every Tuesday from 4th November to enter, and the overall prize is drawn on 15th December.  Enter via Chicco's Facebook page.

Waltons win a playhouse

Waltons Garden Buildings often run great competitions, and in the latest one you can win a fantastic kids' wooden playhouse.  Waltons asked 5 of the UK's top family bloggers to decorate and transform a Walton's 6'5 x 5'6 Honeypot Honeysuckle Playhouse with a maximum budget of £50.

Vote for your favourite on the Facebook site before 8th December 2014 and (hopefully) win.  Simples.

Win a Tesco Hudl tablet with Jaffa Fruit

I'm sure loads of older kids and adults would love a Hudl tablet.  And if you're feeling creative Jaffa Fruit has a great competition to win one.  Recreate a film scene using oranges on Vine (it only has to be six seconds long) and tag #LoveJaffaCitrus.  Creative competitions like this usually only get a handful of entries, so you have a great chance of winning!  Find out more at Jaffa Fruit's Facebook feed, and make sure you enter before 30th November.

Let me know if you enter any of these, and definitely let me know if you win!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Family life is...

Christmas presents hidden on top of a wardrobe.

No one has spotted them yet!

Me add three

Sunday, 16 November 2014

My Sunday Photo

As photos go, this one is pretty terrible.  I'm sure you've noticed the bin, and what looks like gravestones.  I took this at Hatton Adventure World, where the halloween theme was in full swing.

At the time, I didn't notice the bin.  And even when I looked at the pic again, I still didn't really see it.  The gravestones completely escaped my notice too.

The first thing I saw was toddler girl's happy face.  Going high on the swings is one of her favourite things, and she looks so like she's having so much fun here.  It's all I can still see really.


Friday, 14 November 2014

Words #WotW

I love choosing a word of the week that means different things to me, and this week is no exception.

Toddler girl is getting really chatty now, and knows so many words.  Her brother has taught her lots of car related words (obviously, as he's a car fanatic).  Words that she's been saying for a little while now are also much clearer.  My once peaceful days at home with her are now filled with "more raisins", "no", "book", "sit down" etc.  It's lovely to hear.

I've also been really busy at work, and my week has been taken up with lots of words written in emails.  I hope plans get signed off at some point!

And finally, I have loved reading all the words in the blog posts linked up to #ChristmasCountdown.  I was so nervous about starting a linky, but it's getting some momentum now and I love it.

Does 'words' hold any meaning for you this week?

The Reading Residence

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Christmas Countdown - six weeks to go

Christmas is definitely moving up a notch, I keep seeing it everywhere!  Have you had your first red cup coffee yet, or seen the Coca-Cola truck on its tour?

I love to look at all the Christmas decorations and crackers around.  In last week's linky, it seems day trips to garden centres to look at them are popular with lots of people.  

My favourite post from last week was the idea of a book advent calendar, which Hannah and her Monsters linked up with.  Wrapping and choosing a different book every day in December in the run up to Christmas is definitely something I will do with our kids this year.

I'd love to hear what Christmassy thing you're up to this week.  You're welcome to link up any old or new posts, images, competitions or even tweets with a Christmas theme.  Please grab the badge and link up, not forgetting to comment on another post or two while you're here.  Merry Christmas!

Me add three

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Is it summer or winter? Chicco 2015 collection

Is it summer or winter? Neither - it's autumn!  But it was both summer and winter at last week's Chicco 2015 collection launch. 

Toddler girl and I love being Chicco Happiness Testers, and I was invited along to Chicco's lovely new offices and showroom just outside London to see what's new across the whole Chicco range.

And as this is the collection for 2015, the showroom was themed summer and winter.  I loved the Christmas food; those Christmas puddings were delicious.

And a few wonderful new and updated Chicco products caught my eye too. 

Brand new to the range is the Chicco Lullago travel crib.  This is a lightweight and secure crib, which can be folded down into a bag.  Perfect for when you're on the go, and I think it would work really well as a first cot too - an ideal step between a moses basket and cot.

The legs clip into the side of the crib and have anti-slip feet so it's ultra secure.  The crib and mattress both fold easily too. I love the mesh panels, which are great for air circulation and for checking on baby.  Best of all is the mattress, which unlike other travel cribs and cots is really thickly padded and feels really comfy.

The whole thing can be taken apart and folded in a matter of minutes, and stored in a handy bag that would fit really well in the boot of all cars.  And it weighs just 17lbs, so it's easy to carry.
With an RRP of £99.99, this was my top pick of the event, and I reckon will be used by loads of families when out and about, kept at grandparents' for impromptu naps, and even used at home in place of a moses basket or crib.  I wish we'd had one!

And across the rest of the range, a few other things caught my eye at the event too - I loved the new Chicco toys, including Danny Drift - a remote control car that drifts!  How much would our son love this? 

I also loved the new winter pack for the Urban pushchair (with hand warmers), and a brand new multi-functional activity walker 1-2-3.  But I'll blog those with more pics later.

I'd love to hear if you have a favourite Chicco product, or what you think of the Lullago crib.  Which travel cot did you use?

Sunday, 9 November 2014

We will remember them

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Ode of Remembrance, taken from 'For the Fallen', by Laurence Binyon


Saturday, 8 November 2014

Pumpkin week at Hatton Adventure World

Over half term we spent a brilliant day at Hatton Adventure World in Warwick.  We went earlier in the year, and were tempted back by its pumpkin week Halloween activities over the holiday.

Hatton Adventure World is a great complex with loads of activities to suit everyone in the family.  I love the boutique shops, but with two littlies don't get long enough to look round them!  The whole place is based inside and out, so even on rainy days there's plenty to do.

We were lucky with the weather because it was really mild, so we spent most of the day outside.  You can see it's a large site, with loads of activities.  Most of it is buggy friendly, and mostly would work for a wheelchair too.

There is loads to do - from bouncy castles to outdoor trampolines, via tractor rides and a park, you will be kept busy.  Our son LOVED the outdoor trampolines at the bottom of the field, and spent ages bouncing up and down!

He also loved the large bouncy castles, and went round and round a bouncy castle slide getting bravery each time.

The whole place was Halloween themed and as part of the half term activities every paying guest got a voucher to pick a free pumpkin from the field. 

The pumpkins were all planted in spring, and it was great to hunt around in the field for the 'perfect' pumpkin to carve.  The field wasn't accessible for toddler girl, so our son and I went off to look for one.  He chose this perfectly formed pumpkin:

The pumpkin carving marquee was very spookily kitted out, and the darkness really added to the atmosphere.  A short Halloween haunted house walk definitely spooked our son.

"It was scary, for sure." Our son, age six

There were prizes for the best pumpkin carving every day, although toddler girl is a bit small for the carving tools available so we took ours home.

At the other side of the site, the animals provided a nice indoor activity particularly for toddler girl.  Inside, there are pigs, goats, rabbits and chicks to look at.  Toddler girl loved watching the guinea pigs in the large display best of all.  They were scurrying around as if they were showing off!

Another indoor activity both our kids loved was the soft play.  I particularly massively appreciate that the toddler soft play is completely separate from the 'big kid' area, so there are far fewer older kids hijacking where the littlies go.  Toddler girl loved the ball pool, and spent ages trying to rearrange these big soft blocks.

But the undoubted hit of the day was the ride on tractor area.  Our son loves anything with wheels, and it seems like toddler girl might be following in his foot steps!  Our son drive his tractor round the obstacle course, through the tunnel and over the ramps over and over and over again.  A big hit.

Hatton Adventure World is in Hatton, near Warwick.  Ticket prices are from around £5 on weekdays out of peak season, although for weekends and holidays, expect to pay from around £12.  Discounts are available online.

We definitely recommend Hatton, and will be returning again very soon.  It's a brilliant way of keeping the kids occupied, tiring them out and having fun as a family.  Recommended!

You can find out more about Hatton Adventure World on its website, Instagram or Twitter.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Christmas Countdown - week four

Welcome along to Christmas Countdown.  It's the place to link up any Christmas themed posts, competitions, tweets or Instagram pics.

Now that Halloween and Bonfire Night are behind us, Christmas does seem to be moving up everyone's thoughts, and retailers have cranked it up a notch too (especially the one with the penguin ad, and the other one with the red cups!).  Well there is only:

Last week, I loved reading about Mama Owl's tips for a thrifty Christmas.  She was lucky enough to be selected as the winner of the Christmas chocs by Rafflecopter too!  Will you be following any of her tips?

This week I'll be trying to sort out what we're doing for Christmas day.  We've been at home with family coming to us for a few years, and I really enjoy doing it.  I wouldn't mind a change though - I don't really mind either way.

I'd love to hear what Christmassy thing you're up to this week.  Please grab the badge and link up, not forgetting to comment on another post or two while you're here.  Merry Christmas!

Me add three

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

London bound for a busy day or two

This week I have a big all-consuming work thing, so I'll be spending some time in London.

Isn't it funny how months of work are judged as successful or not in just a few hours?

While I'm there I'm really excited to be off to Chicco HQ, just outside the capital. Chicco's having a showcase event for new products and collections.  Toddler girl and I are big fans of Chicco and I can't wait to see what's in store.

What are you up to this week?

Sunday, 2 November 2014

My Sunday Photo

We spent a lovely day at Hatton Adventure World this week, and spent loads of time outside.  I love this photo though - it was taken inside at the toddler soft play area at the infinity tunnel.  Toddler girl loved the lights and spent ages pushing the buttons to make them change.

If you look closely, you can see it's a selfie of her and I.