Thursday, 26 September 2013

DC Super Friends comic review

J was sent a copy of DC Super Friends comic to review.

J is a massive fan of the DC characters, his favourite are Batman and the Green Lantern. As you can see from the picture, he loved it! He spent hours looking through before I could get anywhere near to take some pictures!

The comic is priced at £2.99 - compared to other comics that J enjoys reading, I think is very reasonably priced. You can subscribe, which is cheaper, at a price of £33.00 for 13 issues (saving 15%) or £7.80 a month (saving 20%)!

There is a free gift every issue, we had communicators with this issue and J loved that he could change the pictures in them!

J and C read the comic together, J's reading skills are slowly improving so he needs his sisters to help, C said she enjoyed reading it as much as J. There's plenty to do inside when they've finished reading - activities, colouring, cut-out and keep, even a competition!

Playing with the Cut-out and keep mask!

Even Baby B got involved!

J's already begged me to buy the new issue when it comes out, which I will be doing. It has so much to keep him entertained through those common "I'm bored!" times.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of DC Super Friends for free to review. However, our opinion is 100% our own.

GTA V - what are your thoughts?

I am a big fan of the Grand Theft Auto series. My favourite one has to be the London version - back when it was "top-down" gameplay.
Picture courtesy of Wikipedia
As the years have gone on, games in general have become better developed. You can play online with friends, keep fit with different platforms' motion sensors, you can even play some games in 3D!

Grand Theft Auto is a big title in the gaming industry. When GTA V was released last week, it was estimated that over 1.5 million copies were sold in the UK in the first three days alone! On the weekend this report from Metro states that £1 billion worth of copies had been sold!

So what makes it so popular?

Picture courtesy of Rockstar Games
That's a question I can't answer personally. The reason I enjoy it is because I see it as a great outcome from stress. You spend all day doing housework, the kids come home from school and take 2 minutes to ruin your spotless living room! They decide they don't want what you've cooked them for dinner and they WON'T do their homework. They're too cool for a bath, bedtime is after 11pm and you feel like screaming from the rooftop! STRESS! Anyone with girls that are pre-teens will get what I mean! Playing on GTA, driving around, shooting whoever I want relieves my stress. I don't smoke or drink, a stress ball wouldn't last me long, so doing something I enjoy (gaming) helps - with the added bonus of building up my gamerscore of course!

"But the violence?!" I hear you scream.

There have been so many news reports about the link between the GTA games and violence. This report from last week shows a prime example! A man was attacked 80 minutes after picking up his copy of the game. Cue the outcry! "That's why it shouldn't be allowed!", "That's awful, the developers must pay!", etc etc. But is it really the developers fault? Is it the game's fault? I don't think so! Just because I can willing pay a prostitute then beat her with a baseball bat in the game doesn't mean I want to do it in real life! I certainly don't go around pinching cars, running people over, smashing through hospital windows in real life. And I certainly don't run away from the police! A few family members enjoy playing it too, they're not out doing that either! So why the bad stigma? The game was centred in that report, as well as many others, when they also stole a watch and phone from the victim. If further reports are true, they are 14, 16 and 17 - why was a 14 year old at 1am? What were his parents doing and why didn't they care or know their son was out on the streets?

These games have an age rating of 18+. The problems lie when parents don't take note of this and buy the game for their 7 year old. I wrote a post a while back about it then and I am going to mention it again now. If you are a parent and your child is asking you for a game, please do some research on it first! Because, yet again, in Asda yesterday, there was a young boy with his mother (I can only guess) buying GTA V. Even though I think the relation between the game and violence is exaggerated, I won't let any of the kiddies play on it! I don't even play it around them. But that's down to the fact of the language that's used, for which you'd expect on a game such as this. I wouldn't want J to repeat one of the words used whilst he was in school!! I'd be mortified.

Do you think the game is to blame? Or is it just parents too oblivious? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Opinions wanted!

After a quick chat earlier today with a few other bloggers, I've been wondering...

We were talking about the subject of reviews and sponsored posts (a sponsored post is one that you receive payment for, as such).

So I wanted to ask you, my readers, if you read any reviews or sponsored posts? What do you think about them? How many times have you bought off what you've read or heard?

I would love to hear your opinions!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Dresses, dresses, dresses!

In October we have a family wedding, so I've been looking for some dresses for my two girls to wear. C is really tall for her age, so we normally need to buy adult clothes for her and, of course, having to pay more for this privilege!

But after looking on the New Look website, I've found a lovely selection of dresses that I am struggling to choose from for them both!

For C, age 12, I picked this lovely skater dress.
She looks lovely in this colour and with her figure, this dress would sit perfectly. It's a bargain at just £14.99 too!

For T, age 10, because she is chunky, I've chosen this Floral layered dress.
The black top will slim her down to her hips, which she unfortunately inherits from her mum (sorry babes!), and the ruffles will disguise them.

There are so many beautiful dresses on there, I dare say I'll change my mind again before the wedding!

Now just to find mine!

This post was sponsored, we received vouchers but that did not change our opinion.

Are your kids safe?

Some time ago I wrote a post about internet bullying. Unfortunately, that's not the only thing that's worrying about kids using the internet.

I remember the first day my parents told me we were getting connected. We'd already been using the internet in school to do research and I was looking forward to being able to download some of my favourite albums, legally of course! I'd never run home from school so fast! I sat there for three solid hours waiting for one song to download! And that awful tone... duhhhhh.... waiting in hope that it'll connect first time so you don't have to hear that dreadful screech! That's going through me just thinking about it!

How different is that to today's internet. Fibre optic enables us to reach speeds of up to 100MB - back then we were lucky to get 0.01MB! There was a fraction of websites available then as there is now. According to Royal Pingdom - there were only 361 million users of the internet in 2000. In 2010 there was 1,967 million! That number would be even bigger now. The fastest speeds - it takes less than a minute to download a song, you can watch tv and films through the internet, you can do your weekly shop. It's just that easy to use!

But, of course, with ease comes problems. Are your children as safe as you think?

Picture this, Friday night after school. The whole family has eaten and is now settling watching TV. Your 13 year old daughter asks if she can use the computer to do her school homework. Nothing can harm her can it? She's only researching the royal family and, except for the odd beheading, there's nothing really gory about it. Right? Wrong, as I found out when I did exactly the same. I was in school at the time, aged 15 and researching Prince Albert. I won't go into full explanation because I'm sure most of you see where this is going, but let's just say I was thankful for the slow internet speed back then! By the time I realised what the first image was, I closed the page.

Many parents don't realise this danger. More importantly, they don't realise they can stop this from happening. A simple family protection software with defined controls will allow us as parents to block specific websites while allowing safe ones, not to mention setting limits on the amount of time they spend online after which point they won’t have access to the internet - great if they have a computer in their bedroom! You can also track the websites they visit and the keywords they enter into the search engines, as well as see snippets of the videos they’re watching and so much more too.

My two girls realise the dangers of the internet. I hope that I have drummed it into them enough for them to understand why I go on about it all the time. I show them news stories about cyber-bullying, about viruses and scamming emails, and I try to keep up with everything that changes. As much as I trust them, I still worry about their safety. I even worry about my own sometimes! So we have a set of rules that we stick to. They include;

No downloads without mums permission,
No clicking on adverts,
Only allowed on youtube if mum or dad is present,
Maximum of an hour unless it's for homework,
As well as many others.

There's another problem I face as a mother though. Mobile devices. iPads, phones, even their DSs can go online! How am I supposed to keep them safe when I can't go to school with them? This is where it is so important for parents to teach their children.

A few articles that might help you are;

The Guardian
PC Advisor
They all are interesting reads and taught me a few things!

Back to social media. I've had a Facebook account for about 6 years now. I regularly interact with old school friends, family and play games on there - yes, that silly Candy Crush! But I also get creepy messages, you know the ones, "I just love your profile picture and think you look gorgeous!" - umm, my picture is of a Minion? Are you saying I look like one? I know, and I hope you do too, to just delete and block. But how about that 13 year old daughter? What are the chances of her answering, arranging to meet with this man that thinks she's gorgeous when she thinks differently? What are the chances of her telling you, her parent, that she's meeting him? I'd say slim to none. This is the real world, this happens everyday. Parents need to be aware and be able to stop it happening. I have no problem with children using Facebook, C has an account and only uses it for chatting with school mates and playing games, but that doesn't stop me from sitting next to her when at home, just to make sure.

What are your thoughts? Do you have the internet at home? Do you allow your children to use it, whether supervised or not? What scares you about the internet, if anything? I would love to know!

This post was a collaboration :)

Friday, 20 September 2013

It's too cold!!

That's it - Summer is over. Not officially, but the weather has made it's mind up. Gone are the lovely sunny days, the walks along the canal to feed the ducklings and cygnets. Those ducklings and cygnets are now grown and hopefully next summer we will be feeding their offspring. That is, if they'll be old enough - I have no duck knowledge at all!

Soon it'll be wellies and snowsuits out to play in the snow, schools shutting because teacher's can't get in and parents having to work from home. But I love it!

I love having the kids home when it snows. When I was in school, we had to go in, and there were more inches of snow back then. I didn't like that, sat in soggy clothes all day just wishing to go out and play snowballs or make a snowman. Now I get to do it with the kiddies. We have snowball fights, me losing every time of course, we build a snowman, or attempt to at least, and we even get their uncle to pull them around in their sledges!
This is J and his cousins being pulled by my brother. Great fun!

So, I'm ready for this years snow - if we have any. Bring it on!!

Do you like the snow?

It's not as you think! Or is it?

So many people are quick to judge. I won't lie, I've done it. It's like giving your opinion on a book after only reading the back cover, a few lines isn't going to give you the knowledge to judge the whole book. I suppose that's why the saying "Don't judge a book by it's cover" is so important to this post.

Everyday this week I've read something, somewhere about benefits. Cuts, caps, reviews - the list goes on. So many people rely on benefits, some people abuse them, other people need them but would rather not use them.

Why is there this black cloud over them? Every time the word "benefits" is used, there is silence. You can hear whispers and see pointing, as if the person has committed a crime. What is wrong with the world if people who need help can't get it without being called names or made to feel guilty.

A while ago, I spoke to an old lady who lives across the road from us. She retired early at 50 because she physically couldn't work any longer. Yet, she refused to claim benefits - benefits that she was entitled to. In my eyes, benefits she earned from working for 35 years. And her reasoning? She didn't want to be called a scrounger!

On the other end of the scale, there was a lady on the bus a few weeks ago. I'd guess she was in her forties. She was talking (very loudly) about her plans for the weekend, and I quote, "As long as my dole money gets paid in". It was at that point I realised what people meant.

There is a huge difference between people that can't work to those who won't. In my home town there are very little jobs available. It doesn't help that we have a non-existent "city centre" with hardly any shops. So, of course, there will be more people around here that are on benefits because there is no work. A few do voluntary work, but I know deep down they would rather be in paid work, looking forward to payday.

The series "Skint" shown by Channel 4 didn't help. People on benefits already have names thrown at them. This show did no help, it showed arrogant, big-headed pigs on some parts! Watchers took to social media to vent their anger at how "these people" were "allowed to get away with it". I felt like screaming, do they not realising that not everybody is like that? I have friends who, at one point or another, have had to rely on benefits to help them SURVIVE. People need to look at the root of the problem - no jobs, MPs thinking it's ok to claim £1000s in expenses but cut benefits.

And just how bad is this "crisis" going to get? The UK is in need of help, and quick! But maybe those who decide on how much a person *needs* to live on, takes a good look at their own life and bank balance first?! How much are they claiming in "expenses" for that second house? Our country, one of which we should be proud of, is so backward! I vote we get a politician a council house, 7 kids to feed and a benefit cap and then see how long they survive. I don't think it would be very long!

Don't lower yourselves, if someone is claiming benefits - have a think why. Are there any jobs for them? Do they have an illness which you can't see from the outside? I go back to the quote "Don't judge a book by it's cover!".

Tommee Tippee Review

I am a huge fan of Tommee Tippee. Since C was born, the only bottles I use are Tommee Tippee. I always found they were more durable and better value for money than other brands. So I jumped at the chance when I was offered a few items to review!

My regular readers will know I'm weaning Baby B and he's teething at the moment. I was sent a first beaker, a set of heat sensing spoons and a lovely trio teether.

Baby B loves the trio teether! As soon as I gave it to him, in his mouth it went!

I had to encourage him to use the different surfaces on it - there's three different ones;
cool, soft and hard.

He seems to prefer the soft one at the moment (number 2), I think as he gets a few more teeth he'll move onto number 3.

Next up were the spoons.

Now, we've all been there - out shopping with the baby when dinnertime arrives, you get a jar of food and the spoon and somehow end up with more food on your hands / arms than in babes mouth! Well these spoons are great for avoiding that!

With their long handle, the spoon is comfortable to hold and so easy to use. Slightly soft, it'll even get the last littles scraps in the jars or tins. The handle also means that your hand is out of the way of the spoon and you won't get messy while feeding, your hands anyway! It also means there is plenty of room for babe to grab on if they want to, Baby B is starting to do that, he *has* to hold the spoon too!

See his hand going in for the grab? Little monster!

Another great thing about these spoons are that they are heat sensitive! All parents worry if the food is too hot and these spoons will tell you, by form of changing colour, if it is! How cool is that?

And finally, the "first beaker".

A lovely little cup which I thought was simple to use. Note: when you've filled the cup up, make sure the nozzle is pointing upwards (so open) otherwise the air will get trapped and when you do open it, you'll get a squirt in the face - just like I did. You'd think after four kids I would know these things!

Baby B loves holding things in his hands now and loves to put them in his mouth even more! So I thought he'd love this.

Nope! His little arms aren't strong enough to lift a cup of juice yet so Mr Independent had to put up with mummy helping him to drink it! It is a better cup than some others because it has nothing slowing the flow of the juice but, of course, that also means it sometimes flows too fast and goes everywhere. But I think in a few weeks when his arms are a little stronger, he'll love it.

Many thanks to Tommee Tippee for these items and thank you for the help through your products in teething, weaning, feeding and play over the years for me!

Disclaimer: I received the items for free but all views are my own and 100% honest. I have not been paid for this article.

Jibber Jabber

Ahoy all ye pirates! I woe ye've all had a wonderful week so far. to'morrow be finally Friday 'n, I fer one, be lookin' ahead to th' shore leave! We be so busy here wit' gettin' back into th' routine 'o sword fightin' academy runs 'n bin left 'tis be off quiet. But we've still got th' competition goin' on here. Have a lovely shore leave 'n we'll catch up wit' ye before I sail out! 

 You may wonder why I'm speaking jibber jabber. Well, today was "Talk like a pirate" day! Did you take part in any "quests"? Did you do something with the kids? We normally do a treasure hunt but the weather ruined it, so made some "treasure" instead!

 And for anyone who can't translate "Pirate speak" easily, here's the English version: 

 Hello everyone! I hope you've all had a wonderful week so far. Tomorrow is finally Friday and, I for one, am looking forward to the weekend! We've been so busy here with getting back into the routine of school runs and I've left this go quiet. But we've still got the competition going on here. Have a lovely weekend and we'll catch up with you soon!

Monday, 9 September 2013

And it's all back to the chaos!

Helloooooo! I was going to post a picture this morning, but I forgot to take it. In all the madness that has been the last 3 hours, I forgot. I forgot that we had to get up earlier than 8am this morning, I forgot we were no longer on holiday, I forgot that I hadn't dried C's cardigan for school and I forgot to get a picture of the kids in their uniforms for their first day back.

C's going into year 8, T's in year 6 and J has started reception. His first day in school and I FORGOT to get that picture! The one picture that screams "I'm too little to be in school!" and the one picture where their uniforms are clean, tidy, on the right way, shoes have no marks and there are great big smiles. Come this afternoon when they are all home it'll be totally different!

I'm placing bets on missing items (normally a cardigan or a coat), stains or holes in the knees of trousers, maybe even a few tears as J realises that he has to do this everyday (minus the weekends and holidays) for the next 12 years (at least) of his life.

My little boy has grown up. He's no longer my baby (although I still call C and T my babies, J informed me this morning that he is, and I quote, "A big boy who's too big for kisses and cuddles!").

So now I'm sat here watching Baby B sleep, filling the house with his snoring, and I'm BORED! I have a pile of holiday washing to do, a bit of housework and I've lost count of the amount of emails I need to answer. But I feel like I'm missing an arm. I love spending the six weeks holidays with the kids, technically seven this year with our sneaky holiday! But I really hate the day they have to go back to school.

I suppose I should do something creative with my spare time now. Just what though?

Monday, 2 September 2013

Happy 10th birthday T and happy 3rd birthday Little L!

When I started this post, it was T's 10th birthday. She shares a birthday with my niece, Little L, so we were going to my sisters' house for a double celebration BBQ. We had a lovely afternoon, apart from the dodging of the wasps!! Is it just me or is there more than previous years? I don't like them, their "Buzz" goes through me. Just typing this is causing me to cringe at the thought.

Earlier that day, I had put the final touches to T's birthday cake I attempted to make her. We love making cakes, but this year she'd requested a Minion cake. I had all sorts of ideas! After browsing the web, I decided to try a flat one - so made a basic sponge.

200g eggs,
200g self-raising flour,
200g sugar
200g margarine

Mix it all in a bowl, set the oven at 180C, grease a cake tin, pour in the mixture and bake for about 20-25 minutes.

Keep checking on the cake as it could burn quickly. I was lucky to catch it just in time!

When the cake had cooled, I cut it into a minion shape. For the colours I used ready-to-roll icing from Sainsburys in yellow and blue.
I covered just over 2/3 in yellow icing, made arms and legs out of the cut off bits of cake, styled the        jeans from the blue icing and made a little pocket.

For his glasses, I rolled and kneaded some of the blue and yellow icing together, which made a grey- green colour, and cut out the shape required. I used a squeezy tube of black icing to make his hair, glasses arms, hands, boots and the little "G" on his pocket. After leaving that to set for about 30 minutes in the fridge, I added some icing sugar inside the glasses to make his eyes.

And here's the final result!

 Even if I do say so myself, it's not bad! His arm fell off and I ran out of black icing to redo his boots when they were pinched by J, but I had many compliments and everyone enjoyed it!

I am determined to make another one for C's birthday in December and will try to make a purple minion too!

Have you had a go at making a character cake?