Friday, 30 October 2015

Messy Moo...

We haven't been to messy play for over a year so when I spotted that Messy Moo were running a session at Springbank Community Centre over half term, we had to get involved! Honey was reserved at first and moved from tray to tray, sampling (eating) the treats held in each one, then once I realised she was worried about getting her trousers dirty (I've no idea why, as mine were filthy by then), I took them off her and she was away! She loved sitting in the jelly and thought the flour 'snow' was hilarious, she continued to treat the session like an all you can eat buffet but also used her hands and feet to explore the textures and temperatures on offer.

The staff were really friendly and helpful  and made sure the room was nice and warm for our half naked little mess makers and the facilities at the Community Centre seemed varied and well kept.

By the end, we were both covered in mess so I brushed the worst off Honey and stuck her coat on so we could make a quick exit and head home for a bath! Honey excitedly recounted everything she'd eaten and played with, to anyone who would listen for the rest of the day and was well and truly ready for a nap afterwards!

Honey wears... Frozen vest by George @ Asda





Thursday, 15 October 2015

Winners...

We were over the moon to win Slugs and Snails' Autumn giveaway and Honey couldn't wait to wear all the gorgeous tights we were sent! Billed as 'luxury for little legs', our package certainly didn't disappoint. Honey loved choosing which tights to wear and I had loads of fun creating outfits to match. We were even sent a pair of Mummy tights so I could join in the fun too!

Honey wears... Tights by Slugs and Snails










Packed lunch...

When Honey first started with the childminder, Nom Nom pouches were lifesavers, we'd used them during weening to to feed her purées while on the go but being able to give her Ready brek or weetabix to eat in the car was fantastic and made getting to work on time really easy! Now she's a breakfast cereal pro, we rarely use them in the morning but their new purpose is equally as invaluable, packed lunches! 

Deciding what to pack can be tricky, what will they be doing? Where will they be at lunch time? What can they eat independently if the childminder has smaller mouths to feed? Nom Noms can help with all of that, once the lid is off, (and it will only be a matter of time before she can do that by herself too) she can drain a smoothie or yoghurt like a pro with no annoying leftovers to scrape off the sides! 

The latest pouches we were asked to test claimed to be new and improved which I was sceptical about because they were already amazing, but it's true! The new double seal makes them so much easier to close! I didn't even notice this until I accidentally grabbed one of the older style pouches from the cupboard and had to press a bit harder to close the seal. We really love these pouches, Honey appreciates the fun design while Mummy and Daddy love how easy they are to fill up and wash up (they even go in the dishwasher - yesssss!)

*Although we were given products for the purpose of this review, the opinions expressed in this blog are my own.

Honey wears... Red top by Mothercare




Friday, 9 October 2015

Toddle...

I've been on the lookout for a ballet style class for Honey for a long time as she's always twirling around the place but have always been put off by having to pay a whole terms fees upfront and by having to buy her a 'uniform' when she's growing out of things left, right and centre! I remembered a Mummy friend telling me about a class she used to take her toddler to at The Exmouth Arms on Bath Road and decided to look into it.

Toddle offers a range of opportunities for different age groups and is a fun, relaxed class where you can pay as you go. While some children were dressed in tutus and ballet shoes, most weren't and there didn't seem to be any expectation to buy them.

Beth was calm and organised throughout the whole class and wasn't phased by anything the toddlers said or did (Honey introduced herself by waving her potty and telling Beth that's where she does he wees and poos...) The class consisted of a wide range of exercises, songs and games, all with a ballet theme and all engaging for the toddlers.

Honey wears... Heart tights by Debenhams





Sunday, 6 September 2015

Flying high...

Honey went on an aeroplane for the first time this week. In the build up to this exciting event, we played with aeroplane toys, read stories where the characters go on planes and of course, got Honey her first passport!

Amsterdam was the destination and we were grateful that Honey's first flight would be a short one! It turns out that we needn't have worried, as she loved it! We pointed out 'tiny' houses down below, counted clouds and of course enjoyed some in flight snacks and drinks. We flew with KLM who gave Honey a little pack of crayons and a special cover for her passport which she was very proud of!

One of the best bits of the journey was when the customs official took a shine to Honey and let her stamp her own passport, although we nearly didn't get back into the UK as when another official asked Honey if I was her Mummy, she said "no!"

Honey wears... Trainers by Nike
Grandad carries... Pink Princess Trunki




Saturday, 5 September 2015

Happily ever after...

Honey has discovered 'stickering'. It all started when we were invited to my cousin's wedding and Honey decided to use some of her birthday money to buy an Usborne sticker dolly book all about weddings. What followed was literally, hours of fun!

Honey loved dressing up all the dolls then peeling off all the stickers (thank goodness for reusable stickers) and starting again! As a result of the book, she also developed an obsession with fascinators and to this day, if you ask her what she liked best about the wedding, her answer is "Aunty Bruna's fascinator!"

I can highly recommend stickers for keeping a toddler occupied and engaged for long periods of time, at one point everyone thought Honey had gone home as they hadn't seen her for so long but she's just been happily stickering under the table for ages!

Honey wears.. Bubble dress by F&F @ Tesco




Tuesday, 1 September 2015

I Want My Potty...

Potty training is disgusting. Why am I writing about this? I think it's because I don't want to forget what to do should I need to go through it again!

I decided that the summer holidays would be the ideal opportunity to start as I'd be at home all day with only Honey to focus on. Day one was amazing, Honey spent the day wearing 'big girl pants' and a long vest top so she didn't have lots of layers to contend with. She received stickers left, right and centre and finished the day with only one puddle. Never one to believe these things are going to be so fast, I was fully expecting day two, which ended with 6 pairs of wet pants and almost a whole roll of kitchen paper used! 

From there on, things steadily improved as Honey became more aware of how it felt to need to go. She revelled in her stickers and loved choosing which one to add to her chart and we also discovered that she really enjoyed washing her hands!

After a few days, we decided to go camping, which inevitably meant total abandonment of our normal routine but we decided to persevere! We took the Carry Potty everywhere with us and encouraged her to use it as she had been doing at home. There were only a couple of accidents that week, one of which is (touch wood) the only poo incident to date which happened because we let Honey play on an adventure playground well past bedtime.  She 'forgot' she needed to stop playing in order to use her potty. That was super disgusting but luckily a trip to the shower block and a bin bag for her clothes meant that the ordeal was over quickly for everyone!

Of all the potties I'd seen my friends' children use, My Carry Potty seemed the least gross! It closes and seals in whatever is inside so if you're out and about you don't have to walk round with a bag of poo in your handbag... This post is so gross, sorry...

Anyway, I hope that I haven't put too many people off their food with this, it's an exciting time for a toddler and what feels like Honey's biggest milestone to date! Here are a few tips that might help if potty training is on the horizon for you, I am definitely not telling you that this is the only way to approach things, it's just what's worked for us.

1. Make time. I am lucky enough to have a long summer holiday which was perfect, but even a few focussed days will help your child start their potty training journey.

2. Shrug off accidents (this is harder when they happen later on as you're no longer expecting them so it is a bit annoying).

3. Throw away pants. We were lucky enough to be given lots of pants by a friend. They came with explicit instructions not to try and save them if they got messy while out and about!

4. Ask your child if they need to go... A lot! If they always say no at first, sit them on the potty anyway. You might feel like a nag but it's better (and more convenient) than the alternative.

5. Books make a difference. We read 'I Want My Potty', 'Princess Polly' and 'George and Holly and The Magic Carry Potty' at least 2000 times each but they definitely helped her understand and feel excited about this new adventure!

6. Don't be afraid to use pull-ups (or use up the last of your nappies) sometimes! At first, we carried on using these for naps, night times and soft play (I mean seriously, who wants to fish poo out of a ball pit) and now mainly use them at night or for long car journeys.

7. Keep it consistent. Make sure your husband/partner/childminder is aware of what's going on and (where possible) tries to follow the toilet time routines your child is getting used to. Even now, we send Honey's potty with her wherever she goes. She mainly prefers to use the toilet but if she's out and about and has the urge to go, at least she can ask rather than have an accident because she doesn't know where the loo is!

Honey wears... Owl top by Toby Tiger




Tuesday, 18 August 2015

With a moo moo here...

In my 10 years as a teacher working in Gloucester schools, I can't count the number of times that a weekend recount from an excited child, has included a trip to Cattle Country. With such rave reviews from so many, I felt the time had come to see what all the fuss was about. I found out the times, prices and attraction list from Cattle Country's easy to navigate website then crossed my fingers for good weather. 

We started with the farmyard where there were feeding demonstrations, meet the animals sessions and special animal foods available to buy. Honey liked the goats best, even though they kept trying to nip her fingers! Next, Honey's brave godsister Robyn climbed the tallest  climbing net in Britain (she made it look so easy) and then we embarked upon the farm trail, a short walk with various fields of animals along the way. Next stop was lunch, there is a cafe and snack hut on site but we took our own food and stopped at one of the many picnic areas. 

After lunch, the girls (aged 10 and 2) were none stop in the beach barn, two huge soft play barns, on the bouncy pillows and roaming all over the outdoor adventure playgrounds (which included a zip wire, as well as a huge, wooden fort)! Unbelievably, they both had enough energy at the end of the day for a turn in the splash pool! 

We were there for over 5 hours and there were still things left for us to do if we'd had the energy but everyone was flagging by the end, which meant a quick trip to the gift shop then back to the car. Honey fell asleep almost straight away, a sure sign that she'd thoroughly enjoyed herself and had used up every ounce of energy!

Tips:
1. If you're going with friends, be sure to ask for the group rate. This means that everyone in your group gets in for the same flat rate. Under 3's are free.

2. There aren't a lot of bins around so take a spare carrier bag for picnic waste.

3. Keep your hot drink cups as you can get refills for £1 if you use your cup again.

4. Take your little one's swimsuit/sunsuit so they can cool off in the splash pool at the end of the day!

Honey wears... Green leggings by Next





Sunday, 16 August 2015

Family fun for everyone...

With friends down from North Wales for a couple of weeks, we were keen to make the most of everything going on in the area and had been keeping an eye out for things to keep a 10 year old and a 2 year old occupied. The Midcounties Co-operative family fun day kept popping up in my Facebook newsfeed and each time I saw a post, there seemed to be more and more exciting additions to the programme!

The event was held at Newlands Park and was in support of Riding for the Disabled Association so we knew our (bargainous) entrance fee and donations would go to a really good cause. There was absolutely loads going on and the whole event was incredibly well organised. Honey and Robyn rode go-karts, went on bouncy castles and fairground rides and had their faces painted, lots of these activities were free of charge. The highlight of Honey's day was being allowed to hold a beautiful owl called Snow, she was a little disappointed to wave goodbye to her!

Honey wears... Pink crocs by Hot Tuna




Wednesday, 12 August 2015

On thin ice...

"Oof, I fell on my bottom like Peppa" Honey said this a lot during our recent trip to Oxford Ice Rink! Almost every time, it was swiftly followed by "I love ice skating" - phew! We didn't have to pay for Honey's skating or skate hire but we did spend £4 on hiring a push along penguin which turned out to be an excellent decision after two back breaking laps holding Honey up ourselves! She had the smallest ice skates available (toddler size 5) and was well wrapped up in a fleece, hat and gloves, although she did end up soaked so maybe a splash suit next time! It was her 10 year old godsister's first time on the ice too and she also loved the experience, improving no end during the session. 

Honey wears... Spotty fleece by Mountain Warehouse







Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Jetting off...

Facebook is a wonderful tool for finding bargainous and sometimes even free activities for children and that's how I found out about The Jet Age Museum in Staverton. With free parking and free entry, we had to give it a go when some of Honey's family were in town!

Honey loved being allowed to climb inside the various cockpits and touch all the buttons, dials and controls and with plenty of subject matter for a creative teenager to practise her photography skills, a treasure trail perfect for a ten year old and knowledgeable volunteers for Grandad to chat to, the museum kept everyone occupied for an hour or so. 

There are lots of picnic benches outside so you can sit and watch the planes and helicopters take off from the adjacent airport while you snack or have lunch. We opted for a short drive down the road to The Aviator pub, where we carried on watching the planes take off and land while tucking into a delicious lunch (the nachos are awesome btw). Honey and her big cousins then spent a happy time in the beer garden playing with foam planes and fairies they had been bought from the museum gift shop!

Honey wears... Pink top by Primark






Friday, 31 July 2015

CBeebies...

Last time I went to a festival in Weston Super Mare, it was T4 on the beach with pop stars, soap stars and famous presenters everywhere you turned. This time, it was for the CBeebies Big Day Out and although there were plenty of celebrities around, they were a lot fluffier than the ones I'm used to! Honey had a whale of a time at this free event, visiting the petting zoo (provided by Puxton Park), trying out some of the experiments and activities and racing up and down a bouncy slide. The highlight of her day, however, was the Rasta Mouse stage show which she clapped and danced through, despite never having watched the programme! There was plenty to keep a 2 year old and a 5 year old occupied all day long and with stewards, toilets and refreshments easily available at any time, it was a stress free experience for the grown ups too!

Honey wears... Denim jacket by Next






Monday, 27 July 2015

The outdoor life...

I"I wonder if there's a bookwhen for campsites" I said to my husband, who it turns out had been wondering the same thing! It turns out that there is and www.availablepitch.com led us to Widemouth in Devon where we spent a (windy) happy few days camping at John Fowler Holiday park. The local village had a lovely pub which served delicious food and we were close to Bude so had easy access to all the comforts of a large town. Honey and I made use of the local leisure centre and attended a lovely parent and toddler swimming session and we also treated ourselves to a delicious take-away pizza one night!

Honey wears... Spotty fleece by Mountain Warehouse





Sunday, 26 July 2015

Alfie Outdoors

When the opportunity to review a book entitled Alfie Outdoors came up, it was just meant to be! Honey spends a lot of time on various phones (remote controls, calculators etc) speaking to her friend Alfie so I knew she'd love this book! 

Written and illustrated by the award winning Shirley Hughes, Alfie Outdoors is the latest book in a series all about Alfie's adventures with his family. Honey suggested we have our first read of the book outside in the garden and settled on the slide (as you do) to listen. Honey called it her 'special book' and I agree as the gorgeous, glossy hardback cover was such a treat and made it even more of an honour to read.

The illustrations are fantastic and so different from the (also lovely) cartoon style drawings in most of Honey's books. Honey was fully engaged in the story and added her own opinions by pointing at the pictures and saying "look Mummy naughty goat" when Gertrude was eating the washing and "that's a nice baby" when Annie Rose was introduced!

I can't help but agree with this quote from The Bookseller "A really gorgeous celebration of what children love about the outside world: getting muddy, making dens, playing and growing." Children can relate to Alfie because he's just like them. He has fun, helps out and most importantly, gets dirty! My only complaint is that Honey was so inspired by the story that she now wants to grow carrots like Alfie. I don't do gardening so that sounds like a job for Daddy!

*Although we were given a copy of this book in order to be able to write a review, all opinions expressed in this blog are my own.

Honey wears... Owl top by Toby Tiger @ Little Green Munchkins







Sunday, 19 July 2015

It must be fete...

We attended the most Cotswold of Cotswold fetes this afternoon. Classic cars and craft stalls lined Naunton's cricket field and there were plenty of old school games, races and activities to occupy the children. Honey honed in on the toddler area straight away and enjoyed a spot of impromptu messy play using paint, rollers, brushes and LOTS of glitter! 

Honey wears... Ruffled vest by Mini Boden




Friday, 3 July 2015

Peppa Pig...

What a brilliant day! Things started well, with us being only the 10th car in Paulton Park's gargantuan car park. After scanning our digital tickets, we were sent to queue (yes the queuing started that early), but were rewarded by being only the second family to walk through the gates. We headed straight for Peppa Pig World after a conversation with a family who'd been many times, they gave us the inside information on which rides accumulated the biggest queues (Miss Rabbit's helicopters and Windy Castle FYI)! Honey wasn't the biggest fan of queueing and kept saying 'it's my turn now' but with short turns and quick changeovers, you could tell that the park were doing everything they could to keep the queues moving. We were lucky enough to visit on a beautiful day, so Honey was able to take full advantage of the Muddy Puddle water play area. Luckily, Honey's wonderful childminder had told me not to forget her sunsuit as otherwise we'd have had a very soggy toddler for the rest of the day as we definitely wouldn't have been allowed to miss it out! We also ventured into the main park and found loads of rides and play areas suitable for Honey, her favourite being a little seal ride which she had to go on by herself! Top tips from me would be: Try to go outside school holidays, our visit was busy but not as crowded as I imagine it will be in a few weeks time and there were lots of things that we didn't need to queue for. Arrive early, it's easier to remember where you parked the car and you get to be first in! Take lots of drinks and snacks to keep little ones going and to use as distraction techniques in queues. Keep calm, this is hard, especially when your toddler is whinging and moaning because they're hot/tired/want a go now but you will all have a much nicer time if everyone takes a deep breath!

Honey wears... Balloons playsuit by Little Green Munchkins


    Photo credit to Daddy




Friday, 26 June 2015

Even Wilder...

I've posted about All Things Wild in Honeybourne before, but really want to flag up all the great stuff they've done since our last visit. The cafe seems to have tripled in size and now boasts a completely awesome indoor beach to keep the little ones occupied while you eat, genius! There is a fantastic barefoot walk which Honey and I both enjoyed, we walked over cobbles, bark, gravel and more then rinsed our feet at the end (Honey's best bit). Also new to us, was the trim trail and hollow log which Honey and her mate Alfie had a clamber through. The dinosaur trail is now much more defined, with information plaques at each stop and ending with a real helicopter for everyone to climb inside. I was also pleased to see that the Meet Rex exhibition has been re-homed at All Things Wild, it was fab to see the exhibits again in the dino barn! Another great day had by all, we snacked in a teepee (as you do), had a pit stop at an archeological dig and of course visited all the animal friends we made last time we were there!

Honey wears... Straw hat by Tesco





Sunday, 21 June 2015

Keep Calm and Carry on...

If you'd told me two years ago that I'd be attending The European Babywearing Conference, I'd have had absolutely no idea what on Earth you were referring to! Honey and I headed down to Thornbury Leisure Centre after hearing from some of our local Babywearing friends how great the event was. It turns out that this is the sling equivalent of The Clothes Show Live, without as many pop stars and male models, but with an equal number of beautiful things to spend way too much money on! We were so proud to see our favourite sling guru Nicole doing her thing promoting and sharing the ABC love, as well as demonstrating the gorgeous Vija skin to skin tops (which by the way, are totally on our list for any future Gore babies). It was also cool to meet one of our Instafavourites Geeky Sweetheart, who was absolutely lovely and who was totally rocking a new prototype carrier which grabbed my attention because it was made from dinosaur fabric! 

Honey wears... Tiered vest by Mini Boden



Saturday, 6 June 2015

The County Kitchen...

I've been meaning to try this cafe for a while, I'd seen their awesome play corner on Facebook and immediately felt that this would be somewhere that Honey would love! What first struck me was the lovely, wide doorway, perfect for getting the buggy in and equipped with a baby gate so we could enjoy the summer breeze, while keeping the little ones safe. There's plenty of room round the tables and they have highchairs if your baby wants to join you for food. The kids' menu is healthy and delicious sounding (Honey had already had lunch so she didn't sample anything today, apart from being given some waffle to try - yum) and I can highly recommend the smoothie (I had strawberry, apple, cucumber and mint) and the chicken, bacon and avocado salad from the adult menu. The toilet is small but has everything you need for changing a baby or toddler and was really clean, which is always good! We loved our first experience of The County Kitchen and will definitely be going again soon.

Honey wears... Navy cardigan by Tesco




Monday, 1 June 2015

She scrubs up well...

It's here! Our gorgeous supply of Child's Farm natural toiletries for young and sensitive skin has arrived! Honey was so excited and kept trying to guess what was inside (a bowl, an owl or a jumper were some guesses). Luckily, the contents of the box didn't disappoint and Honey began planning her bath straight away. When I asked her who she was going to share the bottles and cards with, she gave me a long list of babies and toddlers she knows, as well as some slightly less likely candidates such as George Pig and Gaston the Ladybird... As Child's Farm Ambassadors, we have been asked to trial and review products supplied by this award winning British company and share samples. We will not ask you to buy anything and we do not hold any stock, however if you like your samples, we can definitely point you in the right direction for discounts and special offers (Boots have a good offer on at the moment). We have 10 sample sized bubble bath and nappy creams to share with friends and family so let is know if you'd like to try some with absolutely no sales pitch or obligation to buy!

Honey wears... Bunny jumper dress by Mini Club @ Boots






Sunday, 31 May 2015

Play and play all day...

I have quite a list of must haves when choosing clothes for Honey. Is it pretty? Is it practical? Is it quirky? So when the lovely Chantel, owner of Evie Bee's (a new, Cheltenham based children's boutique) got in touch to see if we'd like to test and review this gorgeous outfit, we jumped at the chance! First test, how easy is it to put on? The answer is very! Honey could pull the suit on by herself and just needed me to do the ties at the top. Second test, does it cope with a wide (and random) range of situations? Why yes it does! In the space of 10 minutes, Honey had crawled, danced, climbed, eaten a snack and done the washing up and that was just the start! Mummy test, how does it wash? I washed it in with a normal white wash at 30 degrees and the thin, summery fabric dried quickly. Unfortunately for me, the jumpsuit almost certainly needs to be ironed after washing and drying which is something I'm not a fan of doing (not a fan of doing = NEVER do) but a fact that I'm sure won't bother most people! The outfit packs down to almost nothing, which was handy for our recent weekend away as I pretty much wanted to take her whole wardrobe and our case wasn't very big! If you like the look of the playsuit or fancy browsing more gorgeous clothes for babies and toddlers, head over to the Evie Bee's Facebook page or follow @Eviebees2015 on Twitter or @eviebeesboutique on Instagram. It's possible to collect your items if you live locally or have them delivered within a certain area or if you're further afield, postage options are available.

Honey wears... Jumpsuit by Evie Bee's




*Although we were given a playsuit for the purpose of this product test, the opinions expressed in this blog are my own.