2/28/2018

Mummy & Me - February 2018



This months Mummy & Me post is a little bit of an emotional one for me, and you can see why when you look at my post from last year. I was overdue and fed up, we were all aching to meet her! That photo on my birth ball with Noah sat on my lap is one of my favourites and I'm so grateful that Nick managed to take it for me.

Fast forward 12 months and Ava turns 1 in just three days time. I still can't get my head around it. It's been the fastest year of my life with chasing after two little ones but one of my best too. She's everything we ever dreamed of and more and has totally completed our family. This is the reason I take part in Mummy & Me every month, it's priceless to look back at all these posts with just a click of the button.

I had quite a few different pictures to choose from this month but I narrowed it down to three. The first one is from last weekend, when we took the kids to the Sealife Centre. It was Ava's first time and she was absolutely mesmerised by all the fish and huge tanks, the Jelly Fish in particular. The second photo is a quick shot of Ava being cheeky, Noah being 4 going on 14 and me doting on them. Last but not least just a quick selfie on a day out with the kids. Noah is such a little poser and so handsome!




Nicola... Life Through My Eyes

Family Adventures In Southern Italy



Looking for a new family adventure for your summer holidays? Well, southern Italy is perfect for a family trip away if you pick the right spots to visit. With ancient ruins, active volcanoes, beautiful churches and sandy beaches, there’s something for everyone when you head there.

Here are some of our favourite spots to take your family to in southern Italy:

Campania
The capital of this region is Naples, which is the perfect intriguing spot for those under 5 years old. With ancient ruins boasting plenty of secret passageways and a Somma-Stratovolcano to climb, the whole family will enjoy exploring this area. Head to ancient Pompeii and Herculaneum to see the iconic ruins and buff up on your history. Or, hike up Mount Vesuvius to see the rising fumes from the crater, the different lava stones as that change as you get higher up the hill and the scarred landscape from previous lava streams. They’re key parts of the history of the area and certain to grab the interest of everyone, whatever their age.

Puglia
Puglia, southern Italy’s sun-soaked heel, has countless sandy beaches that are perfect if you’re looking for a relaxing family break in the sunshine. There are plenty of ancient towns with extravagant churches to explore. Plus, the relatively flat terrain is perfect for a cycling adventure, especially if you’re travelling with young children as it’s suited to any level of skill. However, it’s the countryside is where Puglia really excels. The national parks of Basilicata and Calabria are absolutely stunning, whilst offering activities like hikes, skiing and white-water rafting for adventurous teens.

Sicily
Sicily is well-known for being family-friendly, with many attractions aimed at pleasing the little ones in your party. Younger kids will be entranced by the Sicilian puppet shows and teens will love visiting Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe. Both young and old can admire the open-air theatre at Taormina. It’s an impressive horseshoe-shaped theatre that seems to be suspended between the sea and the sky and is used to stage international arts and film festivals in the summer.


When you’re heading to southern Italy on holiday, here are some tips to keep the whole family happy:
· Punctuate your days out with plenty of rest stops at the gelaterie (ice-cream shops) · Choose your accommodation carefully. Eurocamp’s holiday parcs have fun-filled itineraries to keep kids entertained.
· Parks and beaches are always a good option for kids – tourist offices can tell you about any special family activities or festivals.
· Remember there’s discounted admissions for children and students at most attractions.

Take inspiration for your next family holiday and plan your trip to southern Italy. With so much to see and do there, you’ll find something to keep everyone happy – both young and old!

Have you ever visited Southern Italy?

- This is a PR Collaboration. 

2/27/2018

The Tidy Books Box - Review



Slowly but surely my house has been taken over by toys and children's books, and even though we've got lots of storage there's not one room which is free from them. You go into the bathroom and there's bath toys from the kids bath last night. In the kitchen there's wooden blocks that Ava carted in this morning. Even when looking outside, the playhouse is right there and inside it I can see numerous toys and ride on's. I sometimes feel like our house is more like a toy shop than a home. The clutter is one aspect of parenting that I really struggle with, it drives me mad.

I'll be the first to admit that Noah and Ava have far too much stuff so every month I have a clear out and donate to either Noah's nursery or to the charity shop. But, as soon as I've cleared a box it quickly gets filled back up again with blog review toys or competition wins. It really is a vicious circle, but of course the kids love it and it's also great to be able to donate as much I do.

We have numerous toy boxes and storage units around the house and we also have a couple of different bookcases for their books too. Noah has book shelves and a book case in his bedroom and we also have a unit just for books downstairs. The unit is good for tidying the books away but it's not practical when the kids want to find a particular book and Ava struggles to get them out. With this in mind when Kiddies Kingdom offered us the chance to review a Tidy Books Box from their website I was delighted. I knew it'd be perfect for the kids.



The Tidy Books Box arrived in a flat pack form but it didn't take Nick five minutes to assemble it, it was very straight forward and easy to put together. It's available in an array of different colour combinations but I opted for white wood to match the furniture in our home. It's made from sustainable FSC lime plywood (No MDF) and measures H35cm x W55cm x D31cm. It's a very solid, heavy and well made piece of furniture and it has rounded corners for safety. Although it's quite heavy it is portable with it's built in handle. This makes it great for moving about the house and creating new story time corners. The box is very stylish but it's super practical too, it really would look perfect in any room.




It didn't take long before the kids had filled it with half a dozen books and Ava was so excited to see some of her favourites on display. With the caddy having two sides it can hold up to 40 books in total which I think is very impressive.

The Tidy Books Box is the perfect way to store and display books as it allows children to easily see and choose their own books. With them being so freely accessible it not only encourages children to pick up a book for story time but it should also encourage them to tidy them back up again too. I've been adding different books each week and having new ones on display has made sure that they are all being read and that new favourites have been discovered. I think that the clock feature is a lovely detail that will be a great for when it comes to teaching the kids how to tell the time.


The Tidy Books Box has made a wonderful addition to our home and we've had so many comments about it from guests. We use it on a daily basis and Ava is always sat next to it, helping herself to a book or two. I can see us using it for years and years to come, it really is a timeless piece. The Tidy Books Box retails at £73.00 and although pricey, is worth every penny.


- We were sent this product for the purpose of this review however all opinions are my own.

2/26/2018

3 Quick And Easy Ways To Save And Make Money Online




It wasn't until Nick and I had flown the nest and moved into our own home that we realised how expensive being a grown up is. Then just as we'd got used to paying and managing our bills we then decided to start a family together which of course was another wake up call when it came to our finances. Babies are so expensive and the cost of raising children gets more and more as they get older. I'll admit that back when I lived with my parents I took everything for granted and didn't really understand how much everything cost.

Nick and I moved in together 9 years ago and for the first 5 years we rented a string of different properties. Each house that we rented was a nightmare in one way or the other and it was such a waste of money too. Renting to me is just throwing money down the drain and unfortunately that was the case for us for a long time.

As renters we scrimped, scraped and managed to set a little bit of money aside each month to save for a deposit on a mortgage. It was quite difficult and there was times that we needed a little help and considered using Cash Lady who are a well respected short-term loan lender. It took years, but eventually we'd saved enough money to make the leap onto the property ladder and it's one of the best things that we've ever done. With saving so much money, with very little to save each month I have learnt a few tricks and tips over the years and today I thought I'd share a couple with you.
Shop around for the best prices
I do most of my shopping online so before I make any purchase I always shop around to find the best price currently available. There are comparison websites that you can use when it comes to higher value products and services but I tend to find that using google or by looking on websites like eBay tends to do the job. I very rarely pay full price for anything because I'm always determined to find a way to get it cheaper.

Search for online voucher codes
Once I've found the best price on a product I then turn to the internet again to search for online voucher codes. Adding a voucher or discount code onto your already discounted product can amount to quite the saving. If you wish to save visit VoucherButler for more discount/voucher codes.

Use cashback websites
Last but not certainly not least is to take advantage of cashback websites like TopCashback. If you haven't signed up yet then simply click here. Once signed up all you need to do is, find your retailer on their list of stores, click through the link, add your item to your basket, add your voucher code and click buy. Not only will you be saving money buy doing this but will also be earning some back too! In the years that I've been using cashback websites I've earned around £250. It's one of the easiest ways to save and earn money online and it's money for nothing!

It's a real sense of achievement when I see how much money I've saved over the years by using these three simple steps. My three tips may be quick, easy and just a bit of common sense but you'd be surprised by how many people don't do this and they are really missing a trick. By using these rules over the years I have saved and earned so much money when it comes to shopping online and you could do too.

- This is a PR collaboration.

2/24/2018

Project 365 - Week 08/52


18th February 2018

19th February 2018

20th February 2018

21st February 2018

22nd February 2018

23rd February 2018

24th February 2018

Well, what a week we've had! It's been amazing! The start of the week was a little rough with with Ava teething very quite badly. She's cutting her 7th and 8th tooth and her first set of molars are moving up too. Her gums are all swollen and sore. It's been horrible to see her so out of sorts and so unlike herself. That being said we carried on as normal and packed so much into our week. Noah was back at nursery on Tuesday but we managed to make the most of our time together with so many different trips out. We've been to Towneley Park, Towneley Hall, Witton Park, Legoland, the Sealife centre and we've had days out with family and visited friends too. It's been none stop and we've loved every minute! This time next week Ava will be one year old, I could cry!

What have you been up to this week?

2/23/2018

Vampirina Toys - Review & Competition



Vampirina is one of Disney Juniors latest TV shows and it's been all the rage ever since it's launch back in October. The show tells the story of a young vampire named Vampirina who is uprooted from her home in Transylvania to move to Pennsylvania. The show is all about celebrating and embracing friendship and difference and what a great message that is to our children.

Flair Toys have just released a full range of Vampirina toys and included in the range are dolls, figures, play sets, accessories and so much more. Next Wednesday we'll be taking part in a Vampirina twitter party with @UKMumsTV. We will be talking all about the new range of toys and there will also be lots of prizes up for grabs.

To get us ready for the twitter party we were sent a big box of Vampirina goodies to open up and discover. Inside our box was a wide variety of different things from snap cards and make your own bat ears to three of their most popular toys from the range. There was even a pass the parcel all ready and wrapped for the party itself.


Vampirina Bat-tastic talking Vee and Wolfie
- £44.99
First of all, what a stunning doll!  She stands at 30cm tall and is dressed in a spooktastic web effect dress with a matching necklace that you can press to hear fun phrases. She can be put into flight mode as her wings pop out and light up. can also press Vampirina’s necklace to hear her say fun phrases from the show! The Vampirina doll also comes with her loyal pal, Wolfie.


Vampirina Spookylele and Gloves - £22.99
The Spooktastic Spookylele looks just like Vampirina's and is a total fan favourite! Easy to press buttons activate lights and play Vampirina's theme song along with additional music, guitar riffs and whammy sounds! The guitar features lots of bright colours and the mouth really moves! Includes are a pair of open-finger spooktacular gloves which are awesome but quite tricky to get on.


Hauntley’s Mobile
- £29.99

Our favourite from the range has got to be Hauntley’s Mobile vehicle. It features lights, sounds, music and transforms into a moonlit movie theatre! The play set also comes with a Vee figure and a little table and box of popcorn.

Ghoul Girl Doll - £9.99
This doll is 15cm is fully articulated and looks just like Vee in the show and wears her signature outfit and comes with a removable backpack. She is so detailed and is ideal for all those little Vampirina fans out there.

Best Ghoul Friends Figures - £7.99
Each set includes an 8cm poseable Vampirina or Poppy figure, an accessory plus a monster friend that features Ghoul Glow magic. Place your figure on the Ghoul Glow Chamber Playset (sold separately) to hear sounds and watch your figure glow from the inside out. There are three sets to collect.

Fangtastic Friends Set - £29.99 for the full set
This incredible set comes with 10 characters from the show: Vampirina, Oxana, Boris, Demi, Bridget, Vampirina 'Case of the Battys', Nosy, Gregoria, Wolfie & Vampirina’s backpack accessory. Each figure features ghoulishly fun glitter accents or poseable arms, perfect for encouraging imaginative play!

Rock n’ Ghoul Microphone - £6.99
Sing along with the Vampirina Rock N' Ghoul Microphone! Press the button to activate colourful light up effects and hear music from the show! Features a bat-tastic design with mini bat wings.


The Vampirina toys really are wonderful and the kids and their friends have had so much fun playing with them over the past couple of days. The Spookylele seems to be a favourite, the music is so catchy and I don't think they can resist rocking out to the beat. The Vampirina toys are available now in all good toy stores and online.

To celebrate the new range of Vampirina toys and to spread the word about the Vampirina twitter party next week, I'm giving away a Rock n' Ghoul Microphone to one lucky winner! To enter simply use the Gleam form below. Good luck, don't forget to enter my other blog competitions and remember the Vampirina twitter party on Wednesday 28th February at 1pm! We hope to see you there! 




Vampirina Rock n' Ghoul Microphone Toy

Terms & Conditions.         
1. There will be 1 winner who will the prize mentioned above.
2. Prize sent directly by myself. 
3. Competition ends 25/03/18.
4. Incomplete entries with be disqualified.
5. UK entries only.

Thinking Of Becoming A Teacher?



Picking a career is hard work. Although your career path can, and most probably will, change throughout your life, there is nothing more satisfying than feeling content with your day job. Of course, we are all different, and we all have our own separate versions of a dream job. From doctors and vets to writers, actors, politicians and police officers, there are plenty of options out there. But have you ever thought about becoming a teacher?

Teaching is incredibly rewarding work, allowing you the capability to help shape the future of the next generation of young people. Whether you are interested in teaching a particular subject in greater detail at secondary school or would rather be more involved in teaching at a primary level, there are plenty of ways to develop a teaching career in a niche that suits your individual skillset.

While there are many benefits to teaching, it’s undeniable that the role isn’t without its challenges. For this reason, it’s understandable that committing to becoming a teacher is a big decision – one that requires plenty of thought before you make the leap.

What You Need to Consider
Whether you are just starting out in your working life or are looking for a career change, it’s undeniable that teaching can be a great option. Fulfilling and satisfying, teaching is a perfect opportunity to make a real difference and improve many of your own personal skills at the same time. However, there are a variety of things that you need to take into consideration before committing to working in the education sector.

First things first, what level do you want to teach? For that matter, do you want to become a teacher, a teaching assistant, or another member of the teaching or educational support team? The answers to these questions will likely determine your next steps, so it’s important to think carefully before you make any big decisions.

The Training You Need
When it comes to teaching, the proper training is essential. Again, the level and type of training you need will largely depend on your answers to the previous few questions, but there are a number of factors which will also influence your training requirements.

· Volunteering – this is especially useful for prospective teachers, helping you gain valuable on-the-job experience and adding to your CV
· Personal Qualifications – while some positions will require a different level of education to others, as a general rule, you will need to have a good level of education in maths and English in order to start on your journey into teaching. However, you will need a degree if you wish to start teacher training
· Teacher Training Programme – if you want to become a teacher, you will need to undertake initial teacher training
· Official Checks – while this isn’t specifically training, you will still be required to undergo certain official checks such as a DBS check when you apply to work with children

Are You Ready to Apply?
Once you have made the decision and chosen to take the next step into your teaching career, all that’s left to do is find the right role for you and apply. With schools, colleges and educational institutions around the country always on the lookout for new talent, you should be able to do plenty of research in order to find a position that suits you. Of course, the application and interview process is a thorough one, but if you are committed to your job, the rewards will be more than worthwhile. Make sure to research education roles within the area you want to work in – for instance, if you are based in Cambridge, search for teaching jobs in the local area to see which schools and organisations are currently hiring.

There are plenty of helpful guides and resources out there to help would-be teachers and those who are newly-qualified in the education sector to take the next step in their career, so don’t worry. Although the application process may seem like a chore, you’ll be in the classroom making a difference before you know it!
- This is a PR collaboration.

2/22/2018

BABY Secrets Activity Packs - Review & Competition



Last month I introduced the kids to the newest collectable on the block, BABY Secrets! As soon as we got our hands on them we were hooked! They've quickly become our favourite collectable and that's not easy as we collect so many different toys and figures! You can read our first BABY Secrets review here.

As you can see BABY Secrets are collectable baby figures, they are utterly adorable. Each baby is themed and has a big personality to match. There are over 50 different babies to collect and each has their own look and persona. From a party baby wearing a party hat and sash through to painter baby, splattered in paint with a paint brush in hand. The surprises don't end there as each baby has a big secret and they are just waiting for you to discover it. To find out their secret simply place them in water and watch their nappy change colour. If the nappy turns blue then the baby is a boy, if it's pink then it's a girl. This is a surprise that they can enjoy time and time again as the nappies change back to white once they are dry.


As I mentioned earlier we reviewed the BABY Secrets single packs last month but today we are reviewing the BABY Secrets Activity packs. The BABY Secrets Activity Packs currently come in four different varieties; the Pram Pack, Bassinet Pack, High Chair Pack and Rocking Horse Pack. Each pack comes with two exclusive babies and one surprise baby! Also included are three birth certificates, a collectors guide and either a bath tub and either a high chair, rocking horse, pram or bassinet. We were sent the High Chair Pack, Rocking Horse Pack and six BABY Secrets blind bags to review.


The High Chair Activity Pack comes with a high chair and two exclusive babies, Chef Baby and Messy Baby! I then discovered Breakfast Baby in the blind bag bathtub! How cute are these three? The combination of food themed babies and the high chair are great for encouraging role play.


Next we have the Rocking Horse Activity pack which is a favourite of mine. Included in the pack are two exclusive babies, Sheriff Baby and Pacifier Baby. How cute is Sheriff Baby on the rocking horse? Though I have to admit, I think Pacifier Baby is my favourite baby yet! Within the blind bag included in this pack we found Baker Baby but we didn't get the baker vibe right away. Maybe if he had a load of bread in his hand or a cake on his bib it would have made it a bit more obvious.


The BABY Secrets Activity Packs retail at £12.99 each which I think is excellent value for money. They are a great addition to the BABY Secrets range and add a whole new element of play. Noah and Ava both adore their babies (much to my delight as I now have an excuse to buy more!) They play with them every day without fail. Ava toddles around he house with them in her hand and likes to give them cuddles and kisses. Noah on the other hand likes to make them play fight and fly! I'm such a big fan of the range and I like how they are decent sized because it means that Ava is able to play with them without me having to worry about her putting them in her mouth. It also means they don't get lost easily like the majority of other collectables on the market.

BABY Secrets are suitable for children aged 4+ and are available from The Entertainer, Smyths, Argos and Toymaster. To find out more about the range visit BABY Secrets HQ or follow them on facebookI've teamed up with BABY Secrets to give away a BABY Secrets Activity Pack to one lucky winner! To enter simply use the Gleam form below! Good luck and don't forget to enter my other blog competitions!

BABY Secrets Activity Pack

Terms & Conditions.         
1. There will be 1 winner who will the prize mentioned above.
2. Prize sent directly by the PR. 
3. Competition ends 18/03/18.
4. Incomplete entries with be disqualified.
5. UK entries only.

2/21/2018

Ava - 11 Months Old



Ava is now 11 months old and I'm struggling to comprehend that in just a matter of days she will be one year old! It's crazy and makes me feel so emotional! I've already started prepping for all the things I want to do before her big day and for her birthday party too! Where has the time gone?

Let me tell you, those milestone card photo's have gotten more and more difficult to take as the months have gone by! Now she's either playing peekaboo behind it, throwing it to the other side of the room or she's gnawing on it. We recently got a carpet in our living room where we take the photo every month so I made sure to keep a patch of the old carpet so then the photo's will be exactly the same! It would have looked so strange if the last two milestone cards were taken on black carpet! Yes, I'm crazy!


Character
She has the most endearing little personality, she's so lovely. There's nothing she likes more than being with her family and smothering us with lots of kisses and cuddles (and the occasional cheeky smack to the chops!) She's affectionate, inquisitive, comical, excitable, independent and cheeky. She also feisty when she wants to be and will tell you off if she isn't happy! I love watching her character develop every month, she is a total mini me. God help us!


Size

I've not had her weighed this month but I'm guessing she is around the 22lb mark. She is quite tall and now that she's more mobile she is slimming down a little, which I'm sad about. I love her plump, there's nothing better than a chunky baby! She still has the sweetest little hamster cheeks though, I hope they stick around a while longer. She wears 9-12m in pretty much everything now and they all have plenty of space. We recently had her feet measured and she was a 3G.


Health

She's not been so well this month. She's had a cold which seems to have lasted forever. She's not unwell in herself but has a cough which is on and off and a constant runny nose. She's also cutting her 7th and 8th tooth which I think have been bothering her, the others didn't seem to do. They've given her a temperature and she's quite touchy and off her food a little.


Feeding

We still breastfeed and have no intention of stopping anytime soon. With her being unwell and teething she has been feeding more than usual but I'm glad I'm able to offer that comfort to her. She also drinks a cup of water a day, she's not just drinking milk. She loves to eat but with her being unwell I've noticed she hasn't had her usual appetite. Her favourite foods are; pasta, carrots, baby corn, sweet potato, scrambled eggs, ham, chicken, cheese, tomato, yogurts, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, banana, cereal. She enjoyed her first ever nutella pancake on pancake day, yum!


Sleep
Her sleep was terrible last month as she was going through sleep regression and a leap at the same time but this month it's picked back up again. She's still not sleeping through but she's started to settle easier at night and she is waking less. When she does wake she quickly goes back to sleep with a feed or with a cuddle. She's very hit and miss when it comes to sleeping in her cot, she of course prefers to be cuddled up to me. I don't mind this. We sleep safely and although I don't get much sleep when she's tucked up beside me, they aren't babies for long so I'm soaking it up. When it comes to naps she prefers to sleep in her pram in the kitchen. She'll nap in her pram for a good hour, sometimes two. If I put her in her cot upstairs she will only have 20/40 minutes. I think it's because our bedroom is at the front of the house so it's quite noisy around the time she naps.


Milestones and new tricks
* We have a walker! She's not 100% confident yet but she can walk from one piece of furniture to the next without holding onto anything. She can also take around 10 steps before dropping to her bottom. She's very steady when standing up and can balance for long periods of time. She never stops and she even tries to climb!
* She's not saying any new words this month but she can say; mama, dada, daddy, hiya, aww, cat, ta.
* She very independent and likes to try to do things herself, like putting on a hat or attempting to put socks on. She also tries to brush her hair and is getting quite good at feeding herself with a spoon.
* She copies everything that Noah does and follows him everywhere. Whenever he's playing with his toys she will sit or lay beside him (depending on if he's sitting or laying down) and joins in. It's so cute watching an 11 month old baby trying to play fight with superhero figures, she makes little sound effects!
* She has a snug seat from Mamas and Papas which is a lot like a bumbo. She can take off the tray and climb right out of it! She's a little Houdini.

* She nods her head for yes and shakes her head for no.
* Daddy has taught her how to head bang!


Likes and dislikes
Mummy mummy mummy! She would be clung to be 24/7 if she had the chance, I love it! She loves it when Daddy comes home from work and she see's him walk through the door. Playing with Noah and being smothered in big brother cuddles first thing in the morning. Kisses, cuddles, clapping, dancing and singing. She loves to read books, especially touchy feely ones. Mummy's make up bag and the hair brush. Being on the move. Rummaging through things she shouldn't be! Being mischievous! Playing with Noah's toys and the Baby Secrets dolls. CATS! Guitars and rock music. Wooden blocks and balls. Going for walks in the pram and swinging on the swings at the park. Looking for trees and birds. Walking! Putting toys onto tables. Exploring the house. Nursery rhymes on YouTube. Playing with the Xbox remote and headset. She doesn't like having her teeth brushed, sleeping alone or men with beards!