Vampirina Bootastic Backpack & Spooky Scooter Set - Review

I still can't get my head around the fact that Noah starts school in September! I honestly don't know where the past four and a half years have gone and I'll admit that I'm in denial about the whole thing! Noah's a little nervous about starting school so I decided not to bleat on about it during the holidays, but instead, read books and play games which are in connection to starting school. With that plan in action, you can imagine that I was delighted when we were sent the Vampirina Bootastic Backpack and Spooky Scooter Set to review.

Noah is a huge fan of Vampirina, so am I actually! It's a delightful show, one which has great family values and kind messages throughout, which I think is hard to find these days. He also loves figures, so he was very excited to open the Spooky Scooter Set. There are two Spooky Scooter sets to collect, Vampirina and Gregoria and Poppy and Wolfie. We received the Poppy set which we were really pleased about as we already have a Vampirina figure from a past reviewBoth sets come with a figure, scooter, attachable skateboard and a spooky friend. 

Poppy and Wolfie look just like they do in the cartoon, They are made of a 
sturdy and durable plastic, which I just know will stand the test of time. Noah couldn't wait to play with them. The Poppy figure is decent sized and articulated, which makes the figure engaging and great for role play both on and off the scooter. Noah likes pushing Poppy around on the scooter, watching Wolfie follow right behind on the skateboard. With the figures being removable the kids also like to play as standalone figures too. The Spooky Scooter Sets are suitable from 3 years old and retail at the very reasonable price of £11.99. 

Next, we have the Bootastic Backpack set which is just the ticket to practice for back to school. Eight pieces are included with this set; the backpack, light and sound pendant, sunglasses, a pair of bat wing hair clips, keyring and 2 sheets of stickers. 

Noah was the most excited about the backpack itself and couldn't wait to open it up and to keep all his Vampirina goodies safe and sound inside. I have to admit, it's a winner with me too because it keeps everything nice and tidy! It looks just like Vampirina's rucksack and the accessories really help children to play the part.

The light up pendant necklace is very popular with the kids. They both love to wear it, then like to press it to see it light up and replay Vee's popular quotes. It is quite fiddly to put on though, Noah is 4 but needs me to help him with it. The bat wing hair clips are a nice addition for when they want to look like Vampirina, but wouldn't stay in either Noah or Ava's hair. I think it would've been a better idea to have them on a headband instead to avoid this issue. The sunglasses and keyring are awesome and are currently stashed away nicely in the Bootastic Backpack with the rest of the accessories. The Bootastic Backpack is suitable from 3 years and retails at £24.99.

I think these new Vampirina toys from Flair are fantastic and a welcome addition to their existing range. They'd make great back to school gifts for either your child or others. The Bootastic Backpack, in particular, would be an icebreaker, as it would catch the eye other Vampirina fans in the class, a lovely way to encourage friendship - just like in the TV show! Both toys are available now, online and in leading toy stores such as Smyths Toys.

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


Ava - 17 Months Old

Can you believe that it's been three months since I last wrote an update on Ava? This wasn't planned, every week I'd have the post on my to-do list but something would crop up and I just didn't have the time. I expect this post to be huge, it's been three months after all, and well it may as well have been a year because she's changed so much! I'm so glad to have this time now, to type everything up and have it to look back on. 

Ava is truly one of a kind and people always comment that "she's been here before!" Which never fails to freak me out! First of all, she's so funny! She lives to make you smile and laugh, or just to get a reaction whether it be a good one of a bad. She's very independent, which has been a learning curve for me as Noah was totally the opposite. I find myself having to take a step back with her and let her get on with things because she gets frustrated if she's not able to do things herself. This, of course, means that she picks up new skills really quickly because she likes to practice and has so much patience. She's very intelligent and quick to learn. She's also extremely affectionate and often gives kisses and cuddles without prompting. If I was to describe her in five words they would be; independent, intelligent, intuitive, funny and affectionate.

She often speaks 'gobbledygook' but is doing really well with her words too. She tries to learn new words every day and here are some that she already knows; 
hiya, ta, hi, Mam, Mama, Mummy, Dada, Daddy, Nanna, Grandad, cat, hat, cheese, shoes, car, ta ta's, choc choc, tea, that, wee wee, poo poo, baby, dip dip. I've brought out the same flash cards that I introduced when Noah was 17 months old to try and teach her new words. I'm also encouraging her to join two words such as "Hiya Mama!"

I've not weighed her for a while but she is a stocky little thing, although she's lost a lot of her lovely puppy fat since she's started running everywhere. She wears 12-18 month clothing but I don't think it'll be long until she's moving into the next size. She wears a size 5 nappy and her feet are size 4.5.

Over the past couple of months, she's been cutting lots of teeth at the same time but she has been handling it quite well. She has a whopping 14 teeth, with 2 others just cutting through. So she's on the brink of having 16! Almost a full set. On a whole, she's not poorly very often but she had her first tummy bug a few weeks ago. Thankfully it was only a 24 hour kind of thing.


Our breastfeeding journey came to an end 14 months as slowly she weaned herself. I remember the last time I fed her so clearly. She'd actually not nursed for an entire week, she was feeling poorly and I ended up feeding her. I was surprised there was any milk left but there was and it was lovely to be able to nurse her when she was unwell. I think it was a lovely end to our breastfeeding story. I have to admit that I really miss breastfeeding but I treasure every moment of our journey together. It was such a special time. 

Ava now drinks cows milk and usually has a 12oz bottle in the morning, a 7oz bottle before her nap and another 12oz before she goes to bed. She also drinks a flask of water every day. When it comes to food, she tries everything and anything and has the regular three meals a day, with desserts and snacks in between. Her favourite food at the moment, believe it or not, is gherkins! We go through a large jar a week between her and her Daddy! Gherkins aside she also loves; cheese, ham, chicken, all fruits and veg, yoghurt, shreddies and chocolate! Like Noah, she isn't overly fond of bread or toast.

Ava now sleeps through, hurray and has done for a month or so. She has a bottle at night, a cuddle and then usually goes straight to sleep. She can sometimes stir for her dummy during the night, but other than that it's bliss. Although I must mention, she doesn't sleep in her own cot, she's still in our bed. Thankfully we have a huge super king bed so we've all got plenty of space to stretch out yet at arms reach when she wants a cuddle. She usually naps for two hours in the afternoon in her pram. She'll actually climb into it herself, with her dummy waiting for her bottle. So basically, she sleeps fantastic, just not in her cot!

Milestones & new tricks
* She's been able to walk and run for months, but now she can jump and boy can she climb. She loves to climb, it's her favourite thing to do and she has no fear whatsoever!
* She likes to feed herself with a fork or spoon and usually protests if you try to help her.

* She can say over 20 words which I've listed in the post earlier.
* She understands pretty much anything you say to her. If you ask her to go and get her shoes, she'll fetch them and try to put them on. She can do it, but they usually go on the wrong foot. If you ask if she wants to go for a walk she will go and get her coat and shoes.
* Leading on from that, she loves to try to dress herself. She can put on her socks and likes to try to put on other peoples shoes. I often find her walking into the room with my shoes on or with Noah's shorts on her head.
* She loves taking care of her dolls and is a proper little Mummy. She will cuddle and carry them around. Feed them with a bottle, lay them down to go to sleep and put a little blanket on them.
* She now lets us know when she's doing a wee or a poo in her nappy and will hide when she's doing a number two. I recently won a potty from Oxo Tot so I think in the next few weeks we will introduce her to it.

Likes and dislikes

Her family and the cat. Exploring, climbing, running and jumping! Getting up to mischief. Playing make believe, peekaboo, dancing and reading books. All animals, cats in particular. Her dolls and looking after them. Playing with Noah and all his toys. Dressing and feeding herself. Cuddles in bed. Making a mess! Peppa Pig, Daniel Tiger, Llama Llama and In The Night Garden. Rock music and listening to Daddy on guitar. Copying whatever Noah does. Going for walks and trips to the park. Gherkins! Music and nursery rhymes. She doesn't like bugs or having her teeth brushed.


L.O.L Surprise Biggie Pets Dollmatian - Review

Noah has been a fan of collectables for as long as I can remember, he loves them and has so many different collections on the go! Being the animal lover that he is, the L.O.L Pet's range has always appealed to him and he's always telling people that "they aren't just for girls you know!" Which I think is very true, toys are toys! With this in mind, he was overjoyed when one of the new L.O.L Surprise Biggie Pets arrived for him to review! 

There are currently 43 L.O.L Biggie Pets to collect; a hamster, a rabbit, a cat and a dog. We received the dog version for the purpose of this review, the Dollmatian as it's lovingly named. Before we opened the huge L.O.L ball we noticed that in the box were a couple of wear and share accessories, a pair of funky glasses and a couple of bracelets too. The glasses are spy glasses and can be used to find codes that unlock certain surprises.

It was then time to open up the huge L.O.L ball and we were so excited! I think Noah and I both squealed in delight when we opened it up! Dollmatian is utterly adorable and they don't call them 'Biggie Pets' for nothing, big but just the right size for a cuddle. Dollmatian is great for play, but can also be worn as a rucksack and can be used as a piggy bank too.

You can always count on surprises with L.O.L and the same can be said for Biggie Pets! There are over 15 different surprises inside and we started with the half a dozen blind bags that were hidden inside Dollmation. There was a lot to discover inside them, poop a scoops, a wishbone, a fortune spinner, accessories for the pets to wear and so much more. 

Once we'd opened up the blind bags it was time for the ultimate surprise because each Biggie Pet comes with either 2 or 3 babies. The babies are hidden inside little boxes, surrounded by kinetic sand. We were amazed to find 3 baby surprises and wondered who we'd find.

Noah thought it was great digging the pets out of the sand, however, it did take him some time. This could be a good or bad thing, depending on the child. This activity is a great way to keep them busy, but if they are the impatient kind then I think they'd get a little fed up and would need your help. Thankfully, Noah really enjoyed it and was amazed to discover two kittens and a puppy. The babies are so cute and it's so much fun to dress them in the little accessories from the blind bags. I think Noah has the L.O.L Pets bug now because he's asked to collect them all. 

There are three L.O.L Biggie Pets to collect and they are suitable for 3 years and onwards due to the small bits and pieces. They retail at £36.99 each and are available to buy now, in most toy stores and online.
- We were sent this product for the purpose of this review, however, all opinions are my own.


Living Arrows #5 - Growing Our First Sunflower

I've always wanted to grow a sunflower, ever since I was a little girl but we never got around to doing it. This year I decided it was time to give it a whirl with my own children and I was so excited! We planted our sunflower seed, in damp soil into a tiny little pot. We watered it often and placed on the window sill, making sure it got plenty of sunlight. We were amazed when it started to sprout within a couple of days.

After a couple of weeks, we replanted the sprout into a bigger pot and placed it outside in the sun. It's been growing, slowly but surely since May and has required watering multiple times a day. Sometimes I've had to take it inside, to the kitchen as its leaves tend to go droopy because of the heat we've been having lately. Thankfully, after a quick cool down, it would go back to normal again.

Our sunflower finally bloomed this week and it's done nothing but make us smile ever since. The kids have loved watching it grow every day and Noah has loved the responsibility of having his own sunflower to take care of. I had to take some photo's of the children with it this weekend as they are both so proud of their "sunflower friend" as Noah calls it. We'll definitely be planting sunflowers every year now, it's been so rewarding watching it grow. Maybe we'll plant a couple next time!

Living Arrows


Our Summer Favourites

Year upon year, us Brits complain about the weather. Well, I think all that whinging has finally paid off because what a summer we've had so far! I can't remember a summer like this, we've had pretty much three months of none stop sunshine. I've loved every minute of it, even when the temperatures broke into the 30's! With this in mind, I thought I'd put together a post all about our summer favourites and the things which we've been loving lately.

Boys Trilby - various prices
I decided to start the post with three favourite pieces of clothing, one from Noah, one from Ava and one from myself. Noah is such a fan of sun hats and this year he wanted a straw trilby, just like his older cousins. It's such a versatile piece as it goes with so many different of his outfits, making him looks stylish whilst protecting his face from the sun too.

Patent Leather Pumps - from £450.00
Now, these beauties from Jimmy Choo have been on my wishlist for years, the only thing is I think I want them in every colour! Luisaviaroma has so many different shoes for women, in all styles and sizes, from so many different high-end brands. I can easily spend hours browsing through the website, planning the shoes I want to buy next!

Bergia Girl Dress - £78.00
I had to list this stunning dress which we were recently gifted, we are in love with it. It's from La Coqueta, a website which stocks beautiful Spanish clothing for babies and children. I was invited to browse through the girls dresses section and fell head over heels in love with the Bergia dress because it's just perfect. From the styling to the colour, to the cut. It's a dress that can be worn from season to season and I hope that Ava gets lots of wear out of it!

The Body Shop All In One BB Cream - £12.00
I don't know about you but the last thing I want to do when it's hot outside is to wear makeup. I don't really like wearing it at the best of times, never mind when it's that hot that it's sweats off in minutes. Enriched with 24hr hydration it's a hardworking, multi-tasking cream that leaves your skin gloriously glowing and almost picture perfect. It blends into your complexion for a colour adapting, dewy, even-finish that perfectly matches your skin tone. I've been going through so much of the all in one BB Cream from The Body Shop that I just had to mention it in this post.

Ion8 Quench 1000ml Water Bottle - £16.99
I'm always trying to up my water intake and this water bottle from Ion8 has really encouraged me to do so. It's great for everyday use, at the gym or for outdoor fitness. The 1000ml capacity will see you through an intense workout or gruelling bike ride. It's totally leak proof and can be used in a dishwasher too.
Milton Antibacterial Products - from £1.39
Antibacterial cleaning products are an essential no matter the time of year but they are a parent's best friend during the summer holidays! Milton's fast and effective germ-killing action in a ready to use spray gun format for use all around the kitchen, nursery and home. Clinically proven to kill a wide range of bacteria and fungi, including E Coli 157, Listeria, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Shigella and Candida Albicans.
- This is a PR Collaboration.

5 Ways To Keep Your Energy Levels High This Summer

Many people are enjoying the start of another summer and parents, in particular, are going to have their hands full. This is because they’re likely to have kids with balls of energy to burn which means they’d need to have activities lined up to keep them busy. The good thing about summertime is that there is usually a range of things that you can get up to such as summer school, arts and crafts, sports, and fun fairs. As a parent, partaking in these activities or getting the kids to do so means you could end up pretty drained on a daily basis. To help prevent this, you’re going to find five ways that you can keep your energy levels high this summer.

Eat Fruits and Vegetables
You’ve likely heard it a thousand times over, but eating fruits and vegetables is one of the most natural ways to ensure your energy levels are high enough this summer. Ideally, if you want to fight sleep and tiredness, you should be eating five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. Some of them include banana, papaya, spinach, sweet potato, citrus fruits, and pineapples for those who have a sweet tooth. In case you find it difficult to keep up with eating your fruits and veggies considering meal planning, juicing, or carrying them around with you as snacks so that you don’t forget to eat them.

Avoid Excess Sugar
Often times, when you’re looking for ways to get more energy, the first thing that may come to mind is consuming sugar. In as much as sugar can give you an energy boost, it isn’t typically as effective as the boost you get from eating fruits and vegetables as mentioned above. When consuming sugars, you should try and reduce the number of simple sugars such as glucose, sucrose, maltose, syrup, and grains that aren’t 100% whole. You should also remember that too much sugar can cause excess weight gain which could also slow you down in the long run.

Reduce Refined Carbs
If you want to have as much energy as your kids this summer, another thing you should do is reduce the number of refined carbs that you consume. While normal carbs have the ability to give you an energy boost, refined carbs, on the other hand, can cause a rise in blood sugar and then a drop in your insulin levels which in turn may have you feeling tired and weak. If you aren’t exactly sure what refined carbs are, they are grain-based foods that have had both the germ and bran removed from them during the process. Some examples include white bread, pasta, and white rice. You should also avoid too many refined carbs as it isn’t good for you, especially if you have type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, a low-carb low-calorie diet could help reverse type 2 diabetes, ensure you’re healthy and increase your energy levels. If you want to learn more about low-carb, low-calorie diets, click here and see how you can implement it in your meal plans.

Take Breaks
Most parents tend to behave like energizer bunnies throughout the day, and that is one way to ensure your energy is completely zapped before the end of the day. It’s important that you learn how to take regular breaks throughout the day in which you sit down, do something relaxing, or eat energy-boosting snacks. By doing so, you should be better able to preserve your energy and avoid being burnt out.

Get Enough Sleep
You should never underestimate the power of getting enough rest. As a parent, it may seem impossible on most days, but it’s essential that you try and find the time. Not getting enough sleep could result in headaches, weight gain, irritability, colds, car accidents, and depression. It is probably obvious that you’re also going to be fatigue, sloppy and slow to make matters worse, so just as you schedule everything else in your life, make sure you create a schedule for sleep as well.

Keeping your energy levels high during the summer is key. Not only is it important because you’re likely to be busy with various plans, but it’s also essential if you want to remain healthy. For this reason, you should try and make a conscious effort to eat the right foods and rest so that you can keep up with your little ones until they head back to school.

- This a collaborative post.
photo credit: toptenalternatives abundance-agriculture-bananas-264537 via photopin (license)


Hape Discovery Box - Review & Giveaway

Ava is inquisitive and intelligent, with a preference for books over toys, or toys which require a little dexterity. I often find her creating her own games or playing with Noah's toys because bog standard baby toys no longer cut it for her. With this in mind, I was really excited when I was asked to review the Hape Discovery Box as I thought it looked perfect for Ava. 

The Discovery Box is a five sided solid wood box with a different activity on each side. There's a wire bead maze, large mirror, colour wheel, a spinning fish and a classic abacus. It's designed to help build fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination while helping develop counting skills, colour and shape recognition too. I was so impressed when it arrived and I couldn't wait to see what Ava would make of it.

As you can see the Discovery Box has been a huge hit with Ava, she beams from ear to eat when she is playing with it! She spends a lot of time sitting beside it, to explore all the different sides and has a favourite side already, the wire bead maze! It didn't take her long to figure out each side and you can see the sense of accomplishment in her face when she's completed an activity, it's so very sweet! 

I'm looking forward to using the Discovery Box over the next couple of years because I know it's a toy that will grow with Ava. It will be an invaluable learning aid when it comes to teaching her to count and when it comes to learning shapes and colours. Once she's finished with it I'll donate it to their nursery so all the children there can enjoy it too.

The Hape Discovery Box is suitable for children of 2 years and onwards, it retails at £32.49 and is available to buy online at Amazon. Now here's your chance to win 1 of 2 prizes from Hape; the Hape Rolling Roadster or the Hape Sky Flyer! To enter, simply use the Gleam form below and don't forget to enter my other blog competitions!

1 of 2 Wooden Vehicle Toys from Hape

Terms & Conditions.         
1. There will be 2 winner who will each win one of the prizes mentioned above.
2. Winners details sent to HAPE to arrange the prize. 
3. Competition ends 26/08/18.
4. Incomplete entries with be disqualified.
5. UK entries only.