Monday, 29 July 2013

What's the story? Week 2

For this weeks What's the story? I am adding an old picture of J posing with his favourite character from an advert.

When the advert first started showing, J hated it! So much, in fact, that he used to scream at me to turn it off. We didn't know why, he just didn't like it!

I couldn't even tell you what made him change his mind! But all of a sudden, he wanted to watch the advert on a loop. We got fed up of hearing ".... forever in electric dreams..."  but it was better than the screaming "TURN IT OFFFFFFF!"

We had to download the song, everytime the advert came on we had to watch it at least twice! It was like he was a new child.

On a shopping trip, J spotted this bus stop with the advert on, and he had to get a picture of him and "Zingy".

That's my boy!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

It's not all bad.....

I've just found myself daydreaming. I do this quite often when I'm not doing anything in particular. I sit for a few minutes and just lose myself in the make-believe land in my mind. Each time it's different than the last. For those of you who have read Enid Blyton's The Faraway Tree, it's a bit like the magical land at the top of the tree. You never know what you're going to see up there!

What was I seeing this time? My 3 eldest children playing on the Xbox. To be more precise, playing Minecraft on the Xbox. Hang on, I'll be even more precise, they were building magnificent castles, fortresses, houses on Minecraft, on the Xbox.

Rewind back to the real world a moment. Minecraft is their favourite game at the moment. I'll guess that it'll be Baby B's as soon as he's old enough to understand too! In Minecraft they can do as they please. They can build things, break things, the girls like building houses, decorating and furnishing them. J just likes setting their houses on fire, or spawning animals inside! Yes, he's mean!

So many people are quick to blast video games. I remember a report a while back about the violence in games like Grand Theft Auto saying that the games were to blame for a high number of crimes. I have never heard so much rubbish in my life! I love the Grand Theft Auto series and have been known to play it to release my "stress"! But just because I like bashing a few cars about, or smashing some things up with a baseball bat DOES NOT mean I want to do it in real life!

However, one thing in this report that I did agree with was the age limits of these games! Take Saints Row 3 (I won't link up just in case, but feel free to do your own research) - a game similar to GTA, you can pinch and ride around in cars, beating and smashing things on your journey. Except, this one has something different. It's called "The Penetrator" - and, as I did, you only have to guess at what it is by the name. It's a weapon at least. Back in December, I was sat in our local Sainsbury's cafe with my girls when a family walked in at sat at the table next to us. The little boy, couldn't have been any older than 9, had a copy of SR3 in his hand and was excitingly inspecting the case and telling his sister, who looked about 5, about what he was going to do when he got home to play on it.

I was sat gobsmacked and amazed that his parents had bought this game for him. The age restriction is clearly shown on the front as 18+ so why did they buy this for him? I couldn't understand, so asked his mother if she realised what the game contained. Her reply? "It's what he likes to play on so it's fine by us." Here I am, sat in the middle of the cafe, with my mouth wide open. Kind of an " :O " moment. I couldn't believe my ears! Was she serious?! So I told her again. Then I proceeded to telling the sales assistant at the customer services desk. They informed me there was nothing they could do because his mum had bought it!

This has to be a joke! But what could I do? I went home that day hoping that his mother would see some sense!

Every game the kids play on, I make sure I know what it contains. This normally means I have to play a few hours of it first, but I'm not complaining! I call myself a "Gamer" and, although I haven't much time for it anymore, I love getting the Kinect on and doing some "exercise" with Just Dance or rocking out on Guitar Hero! But at least I know my kids are safe.

Anyway, back to Minecraft. In my daydream the girls were building a huge mansion. A bedroom each for everyone, a playroom for each of them and the boys, a bathroom each so J couldn't run it while they were having a shower (told you he was mean!), a big room for daddy so he can watch Game of Thrones in peace whilst kicking other people's butts on Fifa, and lastly - a huge kitchen for mum. (Umm, thanks kids, dad gets to relax, mum gets to cook? Story of my life!)

But, it got me thinking, well daydreaming. Even J is pretty good at building things - he specialises in Angry Bird models at the moment and has been trying to do Moshi Monsters too. He has mentioned doing some Skylanders but gave up after spending hours working on a portal for T to come along and destroy it (she called it payback!).

So, not only does it keep the kids from almost killing each other when they're bored, it make them use their creative part of their brains!

Here we have J in the top left corner, C in the top right and T in the bottom left. I especially like the treehouse C has made although it's not a very good picture. But it goes to show what you can do on there.

Do you let your children play video games? Which ones do they like? And what are your opinions on Age Restrictions?

Silent Sunday

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Those 'orrible nasty toothy pegs!

The calm after the storm

A picture can tell a thousand stories.

This is Baby B after half an hour of screaming because of those teeth. I know how bad I feel when my teeth hurt, but for a little baby it must be even worse. They can't tell you what they want, they can't tell you where it hurts, all you feel like doing is crying with them!

It's so awful. And for Baby B it's even worse. Not only is he teething, he's suffering with colic too. My poor little man, what can I do?

Every night at the same time it starts and goes on for up to an hour. I've begun to dread that time of day. Some days are worse than others, some days he won't suffer at all. But everytime he does I wish I could take the pain away for him.

As if they don't suffer enough - they endure being cramped in a small space for 9 months, go through the journey into the wide world, get poked and prodded at every chance by a doctor or a nurse, measurements, injections. Then of course the colic, the teething, eczema (all mine have suffered). Poor little babes!

Well, while writing this he's fallen asleep on my arm, with a little smile on his face - anybody would guess that the last half hour didn't happen! He's clammy and damp from the crying so I think it's time for bed.

Babies are amazing. They go through so much yet they still come out smiling. Maybe we adults should take a leaf out of their book!

Goodnight from us 

Skin Salveation Review

As a baby, C suffered really badly with eczema. It usually meant a trip to the doctors at least once a week, creams being applied 4 or 5 times a day, baths with added concoctions daily, and even special shampoo and suncream for her to use!

It was a nightmare! She'd end up with little scratches all over her body from where the itchiness was just getting too much for her. I used to get upset because there was nothing I could do for her.

Suddenly, that all stopped when she was 2. My mum took her abroad to Malta whilst I was pregnant with T, so I couldn't fly. After spending almost two full weeks in the beautiful mediterranean sea, her eczema had gone. Not one little spot of it. Anywhere. We were astonished!

We thought that was the end of it. Until last year, when it flared back up again. I had visions of going back and forth to the doctors weekly again, her in pain itching and scratching! Of course, the difference now is that she's almost 13! Not being able to afford to take her abroad again, and with the power of Google at my fingertips, I started searching for an answer. Something new, a remedy that would actually work, just anything to help my girl.

That's when a friend passed on the details of Skin Salveation. I contacted them, and they sent us out some lovely samples:

Body cream, Baby & infant cream, laundry powder, stain remover soap, a scoop and a few leaflets with information.

Over the last 2 months, we've tried the body cream and laundry powder on C and her clothes.

The picture on the left is her crease in her arm before we started using anything. You can see just how dry her skin is and, although it wasn't as red, it was much itchier.
The picture on the right is after 2 days of using the products. Her skin was more moist, less itchy, although it did go a little redder.

After using the laundry powder, I noticed there wasn't much difference between it and a normal washing powder. However, C informed me the clothes felt nicer on her skin, and they smelt lovely too!

Here, the picture on the left is after using the products for a week, while the one on the right is after 10 days. You can see the difference - and C had stopped itching altogether by then!

I couldn't believe it! A simple cream was the answer - and we'd gone though plenty of creams in the past!

This cream was our hero! It is amazing!

But why does it work better than other creams?

Believe it or not, we have a small group of miners to thank for these wonderful products! With all the "hands-on" work they did, their skin would become inflamed and sore - until they discovered certain ingredients combined naturally helped! They spread the word to friends and family, who soon realised it was great for helping other skin complaints!

Dr Stephen Randle, along with Dr Stephen Drew, held trials and concluded that the formulation had a "uniquely beneficial effect" on even extreme cases of dry skin.

You can read more about Skin Salveation and it's history here.

Do you suffer from eczema?

Take a read of this article from Skin Salveation. Even though I've been a mum for almost 13 years, and C has suffered since she was born, there are many interesting facts I didn't know - and I thought I was an expert! I think on our next visit to the Doctor's I'll be giving him some advice!

It's amazing, you don't realise just how important skin is.

And it works for other complaints too!

Have your child ever had impetigo? T and J do very often, all because they will insist on getting as dirty as possible when playing outside! T had a blister on her ankle, which she kept scratching with dirty nails. It soon flared up into impetigo. I wish I had realised back then that this cream would be ideal for that too! Have a read here for more information.

So, finally...

I would like to thank Skin Salveation for the products I received to review. I have not been paid for writing this and it is 100% my own honest views. If you have any questions, queries or worries about any skin complaints, especially eczema or impetigo (I'm ALMOST an expert!) feel free to contact me using the comment box below or on my contact page.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The truth about the eggs...

Earlier this week I posted this picture as part of #SilentSunday

I suppose, looking at it now, it does look as if the egg on top is a normal sized one making the bottom one huge! It is, in fact, wrong. The egg on the bottom is the normal sized one, the one on top being very small!

Both these eggs came from the same chicken, within a few days of each other. The same chicken that, last year, laid an egg twice the size of a normal one! To see two different sized eggs from a single chicken is awesome, to see THREE is amazing!

Just wanted to clear that up :)

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Divine Chocolate Review

*All opinions are my own. I have not been paid or received anything for this post. The items I have reviewed were part of a prize*

Upon opening my email a few weeks back, I seen one from Marie Claire Magazine. "Congratulations you have won a Luxury Hamper of Divine Chocolate treats worth £55 with Marie Claire". As expected, the kids were very excited about this one! Ten days later the package arrives. Upon opening, the kids were gobsmacked.

Of course, the kids wanted to try a bit of everything, and the Chocolate Bees didn't last very long! They were definitely my favourite!

The girls loved these white chocolate and strawberry hearts. They really were tasty! They made me think of the little favours you get at weddings - and the perfect shape too!

I'm not a fan of Ginger so let the girls tuck into these too. C informed me they were lovely, not too strong and I *HAVE* to buy her some for Christmas!

The milk chocolate eggs were gorgeous! Not too rich or sweet, they didn't last long! Again, I let C have the dark chocolate eggs, I'm not too keen on dark chocolate. She said they were like "heaven in my mouth".

The chocolate bars we shared with family a few days later. They all enjoyed each one - my favourite was the hazelnut milk chocolate bars - yum!

So, thanks Marie Claire magazine - it's safe to say that we thoroughly enjoyed our prize!

We'll definitely be visiting the Divine Chocolate Website soon!

The Divine Chocolate Story

Silent Sunday

Friday, 19 July 2013

A week down.... how many more to go?

It all started a week ago.... well, a week and a day if I'm being precise. Images, terrors, nightmares - what was going to happen? What should we expect? All we were told was the kitchen and bathroom needed to be emptied entirely and it "could" take 15 working days.

Eurgh, if only I knew!

The workmen came in last Thursday and ripped out the kitchen cabinets and knocked the partition down. They finished it in 3 hours so, by 11.30am, they had gone. Friday they came in and took all the titles off the walls in the kitchen and bathroom. Again, they were gone by 11.30am.

After a long Saturday spent in the attic making some space for the rewire due to start Monday, I was shattered! It didn't help that it was so, so hot outside and the attic felt like a sauna! Sunday I had just about given up! If it wasn't enough, tough! I didn't have an ounce of strength left in me and really needed to relax and unwind. No chance of that though!

Monday came round and we were up and ready, waiting for the knock on the door at 8am (the time they promised they'd be here to start!) 10.30am came and I phoned the office - why did they make us wait? It was bad enough having it done anyway, let alone having to wait for them. Eventually, two guys turned up at 11.30am. They decided it was too late in the day to start.

I won't go into the little details but their manager wasn't happy, he came later that afternoon. Fast forward to Tuesday. They came in, they worked, they finished in a day instead of two. I really can't praise them enough. It was hot and muggy and they worked their butts off! I now have so many plug sockets I need to buy more electrical things to fill them all! (I don't really, I don't want to fill them all!)

And between Wednesday and today we've had the new toilet and bath put in, the plaster done in the kitchen (needed a new ceiling and to plaster around the rewire job), and the wall in the bathroom has now gone!

We're getting there. Slowly.

 Before (top left) and after (top right) of our bathroom.

The kitchen with floor tiles (middle left and right).

The kitchen without floor tiles (bottom left and right).

A day out in Bristol!

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by the lovely Rachel from Kiddicare asking if I was interested in attending the Blogger Event at the new Kiddicare Store in Bristol. Being new to this blogging malarkey, I'd never heard of "Blogger Events" before but, happy for a day out with the kiddies, I thought it'd be fun, so agreed.

Not knowing what to expect, I went with an open mind. I've had previous experiences with the brand of Kiddicare before - I've bought baby items from Morrisons in the past, and found they were really good quality for a cheap price, their own-name wet wipes were just as good as branded ones at a portion of the price, and I had heard good things about the pushchairs, toys and such from friends.

The day got off to a bad start. As the girls were in school, I was taking J and Baby B. I wanted to be in the train station by 8am. J rolled out of bed at 7.45am and decided he was going to take as long as possible to get ready. Not even the excitement of "We're going on a train" would motivate him! Eventually he moved faster, and we managed to get into the station for 8.45am. The train to Bristol Temple Meads were every half hour, and we'd just missed one, so had to wait for the next one.

The journey went well after that, we got off the train and managed to find the bus really easily and quickly, which is definitely a first for me! The bus ride was a bit tiring mind, almost an hour, and I got off feeling a little queasy (I get travel sickness). But we'd arrived.

From the outside, the store looked amazing! Big, bold, bright colourings meant it's easily spotted and noticeable. I noted that there were plenty of car parking space which were very spacey - a must for any parents trying to get their child(ren) in and out of the car. Upon entering the store I could see it was well laid out. There were different sections, and you could clearly see what each section had. The car seats were in one corner, which moved onto home safety, then the Cafe and toilets, pushchairs, bedrooms, feeding and changing, and finally toys in the middle. J was ecstatic to see they had little trolleys that he could push himself!

After a quick look around, I tried to find where I had to go. As we were late, we'd probably missed the biggest part of the event but I still wanted to know more about this wonderful store. Eventually, we found the lovely Jennie, who gave the boys and I a quick tour of the store and explained the reasonings behind some things (which I'll go into later).

We met up with the other Blogger ladies in the "Event Room". As explained to us, this was a room in which "Mum-and-me" activities will take place, such as baby massage, baby yoga - you could even hold a birthday party or baby shower there! We took part in singing and music playing! Well, J did, Baby B decided he wanted feeding!

All the children took part, from playing instruments and stomping around the room, to singing "Row, row, row your boat", they even had hand puppets and animals to use!

J normally comes across as very shy when children he doesn't know are about. But it didn't take him long to get involved and enjoy himself!

From there we went to the cafe to have some refreshments. There was a wide range of different food and drink to suit all ages. J opted for a box with sandwiches, crisps, a drink and a Freddo and I had a panini. I've found before in store cafes that food, especially sandwiches, can be quite dry and tasteless. But this wasn't the case here. They were fresh and very yummy! J even ate all his sandwiches - which is a first! We sat for a while and I had a quick look around the eating area. They had a breast-feeding area, where any parents wishing to feed in private, could go and feel comfortable in doing so. This is a great idea! Whilst looking around the area, I realised there wasn't much space for pushchairs. We were sat right in the middle mind, and I’m sure if we sat around the outer area we would have had a bit more room. I couldn't help but think that maybe they could have had somewhere to store the pushchairs, like the little lockers you see in supermarkets by the cafes, to allow a bit more space.

From there, we made a quick pit-stop to the changing room. Big, bright colours hit us as soon as we walked in, yet it felt peaceful and warming. Little mobiles hung from the ceiling, four changing mats laid out on the shelf, little bins underneath in the cupboards for ease. Most importantly, the room was spotless and didn’t smell. I've lost count of the changing rooms we've used and there’s been a smelly or overflowing bin. Not good when you involve dirty nappies. But this one was perfect. Baby B loved looking at the mobiles on the ceiling whilst being changed. J liked the big bright spots on the wall. However, he loved the measuring wall just outside the changing room even more! He informed me he was smaller than everything! Bless him!

From here we took a slow wander around the store. This enabled me to actually look at the products on sale and the reasonings, which I mentioned earlier. For example, the price tags are all digital. This is because if the item goes on sale online, the price will immediately change instore, and it will show on these digital tags.

Now any parent who drives, or travels alot in a car, knows how precise you have to be with a car seat for your child. Is it for the right age? Is it right for my car? Will my child be comfortable? Well, at Kiddicare there is someone to help answer those questions! As Jennie explained earlier to us, each department has specially trained staff. These staff stick to their department. So you won't see someone from pushchairs in the car seats or vice versa. I think this is wonderful because it means that they'll be where you want, when you want them!

The car seat area has a special thing about it!

To the right of this picture is a desk - if you wanted to enquire or purchase a car seat and a few other people had the same idea, you can leave your details and you'll be put in a queue. You can then carry on browsing the store, have a cuppa etc., and you get called when it's your turn! I think it's a fantastic idea and will save people's feet from standing so long on a busy day or when you are with the kiddies!

In the middle of the store is a lovely little play area, which J wanted to try! Although only a small area, there was plenty for J to play with, and it gives us parents a chance to see what the toys are like before committing to buy!
  In fact, every single item that a parent needs to buy for their child (car seat, pushchair, cot, walkers, high chairs etc) all have a model on show that you can look and try before deciding whether to buy! This is major plus in my books, especially with the pushchairs, as I'm tall and always struggled to find a nice pushchair that wouldn't hurt my back pushing. At least this way you can get a general idea of which items are ideal for you.

 The bouncers and walkers on display. Having them out like this meant you could see how they look when they're up, what the vibration or music is like on the bouncers (if any) and basically to allow you to make your mind up before purchasing!

Plenty of different makes, models and styles of high chairs for you to look at and try before you buy!

Even the booster seats had their own little section!

Again, you could try them to see which suited you the best!

Some of the lovely pushchair displays. Again, you could try them to see how suited they are to your own needs. J loved the little race track, even though I tried telling him it wasn't for real races!!

The nursery / bedroom items were set out lovely. With the little rooms, you could see how much space you would need and what the sets look like together! Genius!

There was a little area for home safety, fire guards on the wall so you could see what they looked like, how big they were etc. 

The stair gates had a little area too! These were also up so you could see how to open them, what they looked like. Come on, let's be honest, how many of you have struggled to open a stair gate before now? It's like the "Child safety" caps on medicine and bleach - I can never open the silly things! Haha. I thought that having them set out like this was a fantastic idea!

We ended up purchasing a lovely toy for Baby B's pushchair - on sale too!

So, from J, Baby B and I, we give Kiddicare Bristol 9.5 / 10! We had a fantastic day and will definitely be visiting again as soon as we can!

Disclaimer: We were not paid for this post, we did receive a goodie bag but all comments are our own and 100% honest!

Check out these lovely bloggers that we met on the day:
Side Street Style
Snowing Indoors
Family Fever
Mum to Baby Insomniac