Living Arrows #19 - Children In The Trees

Noah and Ava, like most children, love to be outdoors. It doesn't matter about the weather, it could be raining or snowing for all they care, they just want to be outside. I don't know if it's the fascination of their natural surroundings and all the fresh air, or if it's because they have more freedom to explore and to play. Perhaps it's a bit of both! They both have an interest in climbing tree's at the moment too, though they are both still too young to be able to do it properly and safely. That said, Ava is only two and I swear she's able to climb better than Noah!

Living Arrows

What's Inside Our Zuru Party Bag - Review & Giveaway

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Like most children out there, Noah and Ava are obsessed with collectibles and surprise toys! I've lost count of how many different types they've asked for over the years, and I dread to think about how much we've spent on them too.

With this in mind, I was delighted when Zuru offered to send Noah a party bag containing a selection of their products, most of which turned out to be surprise toys! He was so excited when I handed him the goodies and the first thing he said was that it wasn't his birthday. I explained to him how these toys would be ideal for in for party bags, or for birthday gifts for his friends, to which he nodded in agreement. He then went on to say that it felt like it was his birthday because he had so many new toys to open up! He was that excited!

The first toys that Noah wanted to open were the two 5 Surprise toys which I hadn't heard of before. Noah, on the other hand, he screamed when he saw them as he'd seen them before on unboxing videos on YouTube. He said they were awesome and was very excited to open them.

5 Surprise is a sphere-shaped toy that fits nicely into the palm of your hand. Once opened it reveals 5 plastic segments (like an orange) each containing a different surprise toy. Noah found the different compartments easy to open and having so many different surprises to open made it so exciting. In the pink ball, he found three different plastic figures, a blue cat, a cupcake girl, an icecream puppy, a stamp and a bracelet kit.

Inside the blue 5 Surprise, he discovered a yellow felt tip pen, 3 dinosaur pogs, a gross toilet figure, a robot figure, and a small car. I suppose they are marketed towards boys and girls, however, we believe that toys are genderless and Noah enjoys playing with them all equally. In fact, he's played with the cat figure more than anything else. There are hundreds of different toys to collect so I think it would be hard to come across a dupe. They are suitable for children from 3 years of age and retail at £6.00 each.

Next, he opened the toy called Tangle and Noah remarked that it looked just like a snake. Twist, shape, fidget, collect and connect, there's so much fun to be had with Tangle. Noah had so much fun forming different shapes with it and had quite the surprise when he managed to snap it, however, I had it back together within seconds. I can imagine this is a great toy for those children who like to keep their hands busy and those who never sit still, just like Noah. Great for playing with at home, or on the go. Tangle is suitable for children from 3 years of age and I've found them for as little as £4.00 online.

Oosh Cotton Candy Cuties look just like giant lollypops and there are four scents to collect; strawberry, lemon, grape, and bubblegum. The plastic lollypop opens at the top to reveal a generous helping of foam putty. This has such a unique texture and is so much fun to play with, not only does Noah approve (he's been playing with it none stop since he opened it last week) but I do too because it makes a change from slime and is less messy! Not only that but there was a little squishy character hidden within the putty, in ours was a cute little cupcake. I think we are going to have to collect all four play foam scents and each available squishy. Cotton Candy Cuties are suitable for children from 3 years of age and retail at £8.00 each.

Visit the Zuru website for more information on these toys and to find your local stockists. How would you like to win your own Zuru Party Bag worth £35, filled with the goodies you see here? To enter simply use the Gleam form below. Good luck and feel free to enter my other giveaways!

A bundle of Zuru Toys worth £35+

Terms & Conditions.         
1. There will be 1 winner who will win the prize mentioned above.
2. Prize sent via the PR. 
3. Competition ends 30/04/19.
4. Incomplete entries with be disqualified.
5. UK entries only.

Introducing The Smyths Baby Room Catalogue

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We've been shopping at Smyths for years now, both in-store and online. Smyths also happens to be Noah's favourite shop in the whole wide world, as he likes to say! Whenever we walk by our local branch he always drags me inside, and then proceeds to explore every cranny of the shop! We also tend to visit the store every other week as a treat for when Noah's been well behaved or has tried hard at school. I like to give him a little bit of spending money and he usually chooses a blind bag or two. It's become quite a tradition for us.

Smyths is my go-to store for toys for children but they also offer a wide variety of different baby products too. This extensive collection of products has been highlighted in their brand new Baby Room Catalogue which can be viewed online. This online catalogue offers all you need for a baby, whether they are a few months old or a newborn. They sell everything, from cots and prams, through to night lights and baby baths. It really is a one-stop shop for all your baby needs.

I really enjoyed looking through it as I spotted so many items that I used for both Noah and Ava, some of which I actually still use now. My favourite item in the catalogue has got to be the Fisher-Price Hippo Projector which I reviewed here. I was sent this toy back when Ava was just 6 months old (I couldn't resist sharing the picture below) and we've used it every night since. It's such a sweet looking sleeping aid which plays lullabies and nature sounds, for 30 minutes at a time, at a very low, and soothing volume. It also has a button which projects stars onto the ceiling.

In the year and a half that we've had it, we've not had to change the batteries either. It's probably one of our most beloved review items and I've been writing reviews for five years! I think that speaks volumes.

Did you know that Smyths stocked such a wide variety of products? Do you have your eye on anything?

Living Arrows #18 - The Birthday Girl

On the 3rd of March, it was Ava's 2nd birthday! I know, where has the time gone? I honestly could cry! I took a dozen photo's on the day like all parents do and didn't know which to go for. In the end, I chose these two (kicking myself that I shot these in portrait and not landscape) as they were both in their element, chowing down on Ava's Baby Shark birthday cake! That's the best part of a birthday right? 

Living Arrows

The Importance Of Tyre Safety

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Every driver should be aware of how important it is to look after the tyres on their vehicle, especially when they have children. They provide the only contact between the vehicle and the road so it is detrimental that they are maintained to a high standard and checked regularly. It is recommended that you perform a visual check of your tyres before every journey, whether it’s a quick trip to the shops or a long road trip. With this in mind, I’ve put together a post featuring some of the things that you should look out for when it comes to their tyres.

Tyre pressure
Incorrectly inflated tyres are extremely dangerous. The problems this can cause include:
* Handling – your vehicle will not drive as it should.
* Increased tyre wear.
* Lower fuel efficiency.
It is important to remember that a tyre may not necessarily look flat to be underinflated so you should carry at a pressure check with an appropriate pressure gauge or pump. The correct PSI for your vehicle's tyres will be detailed in the vehicles handbook and also on a sticker on the driver’s door jam.

Tyre Tread
The British legal limit for minimum tread depth is 1.6mm across 75% of the tyre. Anything less than this is putting the tyre at serious risk of failing, this could be a blowout on the motorway or hydroplaning in wet conditions, both of which are extremely dangerous. Remember that each bald tyre can carry a fine of up to £2500 and three penalty points on your license. You should check tyre tread every 2 weeks and replace if necessary. For a great deal on quality tyres, try Elite Direct.

Wheel Alignment
Incorrectly aligned tyres will usually present itself in the form of tyre wear across only one edge of the tyre. Uneven wear can make part of the tyre weaker than the rest and could result in a blowout. Have your alignment checked at a professional garage, the process is quick and inexpensive.

Good tyre maintenance is vital to you and your passengers safety, it is simply not worth risking a blowout for the sake of a quick check before each journey. Do you have any tips that you would like to share?

Organix Goodies Jammie Monsters - Review & Giveaway

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I've been a fan of Organix for years, ever since I started weaning Noah, which believe it or not, was five years ago now. Over the course of that time, I've worked with them on numerous occasions, and I've also purchased their snacks out of my own pocket, at different stages of Noah and Ava's weaning journey.

Organix already offer an impressive range of different sweet and savoury snacks and have just recently knocked it out of the park with a brand new product. Introducing, Organix Jammie Monsters!

Organix Jammie Monsters are delicious wholegrain wheat biscuits which are sandwiched together with a 100% strawberry and apple fruit filling. They are suitable for children from 18 months old and come with the 'Organix No Junk Promise'. This means that they contain no added salt, no artificial colours or flavours and are made with the best organic ingredients.

Ava has quite the palette for a two-year-old. She likes tasty food and won't bother eating anything that she finds bland or tasteless. She is known for putting food that she doesn't approve of in the bin or on the floor if she can't get to the bin!

With this in mind, I did wonder how she'd take to the Jammie Monsters, and questioned if they'd pass her taste test. So, how did they do? Well, they went down a storm! Although the biscuits are individually wrapped, she had two in one sitting and I think that says it all.

The biscuits look appealing and inviting and the little monster patterns on them are a nice touch. The monster characters seem to really intrigue her, you can see the wonder in her eyes when she's exploring them, though the exploration doesn't tend to last long as she's usually nibbling on them within 10 seconds! They are a fantastic little snack to keep her filled up, ready for our next adventure. They are great for enjoying at home, in the lunch box or on the go. We'll certainly be buying more once Ava has eaten these, which won't be long at the rate she is going.

A box of 8 individually wrapped Organix Goodies Jammie Monsters retails at £2.49 and they are available to buy at Morrisons, Boots and Sainsbury's. How would you like to win a couple of boxes for your little one to try? To enter simply use the Gleam form below and don't forget to enter my other competitions.

Two boxes of Organix Jammie Monsters

Terms & Conditions.         
1. There will be 2 winners who will each win 2 boxes of Jammie Monsters.
2. Prize sent via the PR. 
3. Competition ends 07/04/19.
4. Incomplete entries with be disqualified.
5. UK entries only.

Ava - On The Eve Of Your Second Birthday

I've been writing weekly and monthly updates for the kids for years now, but none have felt as surreal and as bittersweet as this. My baby girl, Ava Jean is two tomorrow. How did that happen?

It's such a cliche when parents say that their children grow up too fast, and I'll admit that I've lost count of the number of times that I've said and typed that exact phrase, but it is so true. Not only does it feel so surreal, but it also feels extremely bittersweet, much more than ever before. I think maybe it's because we aren't having any more children, so every first that Ava experiences, is a last for us as parents.

Two years old is such a milestone too. She's a fully fledged toddler, with a mind of her own, who no longer wants to be coddled. Well, she does in some circumstances. She still loves skin to skin contact and still sleeps in our bed, but she is extremely independent too! She likes to do things for herself, without the interference of her Mummy and Daddy, even if she struggles. She has such drive and determination, lots of qualities that I hope she holds onto throughout her life because they will get her far.

Don't ever change Ava, you are one in a million and you inspire us to not only be better parents but to be better humans too. We love you more than you'll ever know.

Unique Gift Ideas For All Occasions

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March is such a busy month for us. Not only is it Ava's birthday and mothers day, but we also have five other birthdays to celebrate which makes March a very expensive month for us. I also find it quite stressful because four out of five of those gifts are for men and I find them extremely difficult to buy for. With this in mind, and with the help of some friends (thank you Hannah, Raimonda, Rosie, Jennie, Nicola, and SamI've put together a list of gift ideas for those who are impossible to buy for. Their suggestions have pushed me to think a little out of the box and I'll be considering them for the birthdays that we have coming up.

A coffee shop voucher
My Mum got Matt a voucher for Cafe Nero for Christmas and he said it turned out to be his best present ever. He always forgets about it for a few weeks then finds the card in his wallet and so he has a lovely treat to look forward to on his lunch break. I guess sometimes it is the little things!

A city break
A city break (if you want to splurge!) I took my husband to Malta for his 40th birthday. He really loved it and it was only £80 each for return tickets. Memories for a lifetime.

A smart shirt
We all have a certain gift that we like to receive, mine being perfume. My partners his a nice dress shirt, preferably plaid, or pinstripe. Camicissima offers a variety of different shirts in a variety of different styles, sizes, and colours. I think that Nick would find the no iron shirts a godsend, and a perfect gift.

A trip on a steam train
once bought my Dad a meal on a steam train for Father’s Day. He ended up enquiring about volunteering and now works there two days a week. He was widowed 20 years ago and the volunteering has been totally life-changing for him.

Homemade vouchers
I gave my partner a little box full of 'vouchers' for things including a home cooked meal one, a breakfast in bed one and a get-out-of-having-to-change-a-pooey-nappy one! 

A waterproof jacket
A decent waterproof jacket, it’s such a good gift for any time of the year. I bought one for my husband, he uses it when he’s busy with his hobbies but it’s also a fantastic gift since having children as we’re always outside in all weathers! Who doesn’t need a waterproof jacket? It’s not like you can stay in the house every time it rains!

A curry subscription
I got my husband a curry subscription for his birthday and he loved it! Every month they sent him a recipe for a different curry, and all the spices/dry ingredients and he simply added the fresh ingredients. Went down a storm and I got a fancy cooked meal once a month too, so can’t go wrong!

Do you have any unique gift ideas you'd like to share?

3 Tips To Help Your Child Learn About The World

The mind of a child is a wondrous thing. Looking at the way kids think from an adult’s perspective, it’s amazing to think we were all like that once upon a time. As an adult, it’s inevitable that we look at things in terms of what’s realistic and manageable. And while it is one of our jobs to help our children manage the transition from the naivete of childhood to the realities of adult life, it is important that we don’t bruise their enthusiasm or compassion while doing that. Childhood, among other things, is when people have their most formative experiences. Many factors, from responsibilities to biological realities, mean that by the age of 30 we are to a greater or lesser extent the person we’re going to be for the rest of our lives. It makes sense, then, that we should give our kids the broadest possible choice as to how they develop while that spectrum is still available to them. And so the following tips are worth following if you have a young child and want to help them find their path.

Admit when you don’t know something

You likely remember the feeling when you were a kid that if you didn’t know something, you’d just ask an adult. After all, they seemed to have gained all the knowledge you still didn’t have. It’s only when you reach adolescence that you start to realise adults are fallible. To make this realisation easier on your child, be ready to answer their knowledge-searching questions honestly. If you don’t know how clouds are formed or why there are different time zones, don’t cobble together an explanation out of hunches and guesswork. Say “You know what, I don’t know either. Let’s find out together!”. This helps teach the lesson that you can always learn more about the world.

Travel helps broaden the mind

In much of the English-speaking world, the teaching of language is not attempted seriously until children are in secondary school, and it’s hard not to feel that we miss out as a result. When you’ve spent 11 years thinking of a pen as a pen, it’s strange to believe anyone thinks of it as un stylo or ein Kugelschreiber. It’s a good idea to take the opportunity of educational travel from an early age and allow your kids to see how things are done - and said - in other countries. This is an important chance to teach the lesson that the world is a varied and diverse place.

Encourage curiosity and enthusiasm

There are many educational paths one can take to the career of their dreams. Picking the right elective subjects can help direct a teenager towards a future as a vet, a musician or an astronaut - but the people who tend to do these jobs best are the ones who have felt the pull from an early age. If your child shows a fascination with a certain career, or just a subject area, encourage that enthusiasm. You can spend years hinting them towards a career as a lawyer or a doctor, but if they have a natural affinity with something then you can push at an open door and help them collect the knowledge necessary to follow that path. Always be ready to talk with them about any subject and gain a full, rounded perspective early on.