Living Arrows - June 2020

Better late than never, here are my Living Arrow photo's for June 2020. Another month in lockdown, our third and it's quickly becoming the new normal. Here is last month's post. We are getting used to not seeing our friends and family as often as we'd like to and being more housebound - which is good in a way because it makes day to day life easier but it's also quite sad. I hope when things do go back to how things were that we are all able to adjust back to how we used to be. That said, we make sure to stretch our legs every day and we still go on many local adventures together, with Tucker of course. These three shots were taken at the start of the month, at Rowley Lake which is a local fishing spot and nature reserve. It's such a picturesque walk and a great place for the kids and puppy to explore. Talking about the dog, can you spot him on one of these photos? I promise he's somewhere!

Living Arrows

SCOOB! Action Figures & Mystery Machine - Review

AD - We were sent these products for the purpose of this review.

Did you know that it's been over 50 years since the first episode of Scooby-Doo? The show and characters are still ever so popular which is evident in the newest film; SCOOB! The film is due to hit the UK cinemas sometime this year - we'll certainly be going to see it when we can. To mark the occasion the kids were sent two products from the new SCOOB! toy range - brought to you by Character Options.

The SCOOB! action figure pack contains 6 different characters from the new film - Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, Blue Falcon, Dick Dastardly, Dusty Rotten, and Black Rotten - his two robot companions. Each figure is so well made, the largest standing at five inches tall - to scale to the Mystery Machine and other playsets. They have such attention to detail, many of which are articulated on the joints - great for roleplaying! Noah took a shine to Blue Falcon - proclaiming that he was his new favourite superhero. 

The SCOOB! action figure pack is suitable for children from 3 years of age and retails at £9.99 - which I think is excellent value for money. They are great for playing with or without the Mystery Machine.

Next, we have the Mystery Machine itself - in all it's glory! This toy really packs a punch when you see it displayed in the packaging - the kids couldn't wait to open it up and get playing with it. It was quite tricky getting it out of the box as it required a screwdriver, but once we were in - we were in!

The Mystery Machine comes with a Shaggy figure which is exactly the same as one that comes with the action figure set. It has room in the passenger seat and inside for other figures - all sold separately. It can be pushed along as a stand-alone vehicle and can be opened up to reveal a playset. Once opened up there's not much to do inside and all the details are created visually by stickers - that said the kids don't seem to mind. I also found it quite refreshing that it doesn't require batteries or make any atrocious sounds - thank heavens for small mercies!

Noah and Ava really enjoy playing with the new SCOOB! toys - creating their own mysteries to solve! We've been watching reruns of the cartoon due to playing with them and they've added so much excitement for the new film too. You can buy these toys and more online at Argos.

Would your children like these toys?

3 Ways I've Been Keeping Busy During Lockdown

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We've been in lockdown now for over 3 months and it doesn't look like things are going to go back to normal anytime soon. It's been nice to slow down, unwind and put our normal routine to one side, however, we've started to have moments of frustration. I'm sure most of us have felt the same way. I've exhausted Netflix, read a dozen books, homeschooled to the best of my ability, spent hours on Reddit, baked numerous cakes, and soon turned my attention to productive activities - things which I enjoy doing but had been putting off for some time.

You could say that we don't actually have a garden. We have a small back yard and a front yard which is made solely of decking. That hasn't stopped me gardening, in fact, it's become one of my main hobbies during lockdown. I have planters, pots, and tubs, full of different plants. We have sunflowers, lilies, and lavender plants and are growing tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, chillis, cucumbers, mint, and basil. The kids check the strawberry bush every morning and share their spoils and I've spent countless hours tending to my plants - it's great for my wellbeing.

If you follow the blog then you'll know that we bought our first home six years ago. The house needed a full renovation, top to bottom, back to brick. It was a labour of passion and we are still finding little jobs that we need to do here and there. During lockdown, we've been able to tackle various tasks that we'd been offputting - mainly decorating! We've repainted the whole of the downstairs and now looking at installing Laminate Flooring in the dining room. Not only would it modernise and brighten up the room but it would be so much more practical with two children, a cat, and a puppy.

Puppy training
This might sound a little out there but Tucker has been quite the distraction and companion for the whole family during lockdown. Usually, we would be out and about with school, toddler classes, scouts, swimming, and so on but lockdown has meant we've been with him pretty much 24/7. This has given me ample time and opportunities to train him. He's still a pup but he's potty trained, doesn't cry at night, and knows commands such as; sit, lie down, roll over, spin, paw, high five, and dance. He's a joy!

How have you been keeping busy during lockdown?

What You Need to Know About Applying For a Passport in the United Kingdom

This is a PR collaboration.

An up-to-date passport is a key to opening the doors of travel. The majority of countries around the world require a passport if you wish to enter the country, whether you are looking to go on a short holiday, study, or live abroad.

The process can seem a little daunting at first, as there is an application process as well as proof of citizenship required. Once you know how the process works and can gather all the right documentation, it can be quite simple! If you are moving to the United Kingdom (UK) from abroad, there may be some extra steps you have to go through, for example, live in the country for a minimum amount of time before applying for a new passport as a citizen. 

Whether you are new to travel and have never had a passport, or need to apply for a new one, and you live in the UK, this article will help you get started. 

How to apply 

The process is similar, whether you are applying for a British, Scottish or Irish passport. The only differences in the application process will be whether you are applying for a passport in the country that you are a citizen of or a new country. 

To get started with a passport application, you will need to visit the passport online service of your country to complete an online application, which is the easiest, quickest and cheapest way to get it done. Alternatively, you can print and post the form, or complete the form in a local post office. 

What you need 

When applying for a passport, whether it is brand new or a renewal, you will need to provide certain documentation to support your application. For a smooth application, make sure you have these documents ready to go with your application on the first submission. These are typically:  

  • 4 neutral photographs of yourself (no smiling and a clear view of your face that is not obstructed)

  • Evidence of your citizenship (the type of document will depend on what kind of citizenship you currently hold)

  • Official identification (with a photo) such as your driver’s licence or national ID card

  • Proof of address in the form of bank statements, utility bills or an official document 

  • An eligible witness who meets certain requirements to sign and date your documents and photographs

  • If you are under the age of 18, you will need signed consent from your parents/guardians. 

All documents must be accurate and the information on them must be clear. An original copy is always required, and a unique document must fulfil each requirement separately.

When do you need to apply?

If you are planning a trip, make sure you apply for your passport no less than six weeks before you intend to travel. This ensures you leave enough time for your application to go through, any queries are resolved and you receive your passport in time for your endeavours. The last thing you want is to book your travel and not be able to go!

The application process can be straightforward if you are prepared for it and have all the documentation ready. Your local post office or embassy will be able to help if you get stuck, or if you are moving from abroad, you may consider an immigration lawyer to help you with the process. 

Angry Birds Space Hopper - Review & Giveaway

AD - We were sent this product for the purpose of this review - this post contains affiliate links.

Noah has been a fan of Angry Birds for years - I've lost count of the number of times we've watched the movie and the game is always popular. With this in mind, I was delighted to review the Angry Birds Space Hopper from Tobar Toys. I thought it would be a great way to get the kids outside too - using all that pent up energy.

On opening the box I was so relieved to find that it comes with its own foot pump - I think I actually made an audible sigh of relief. There have been so many times we've been unable to set a toy up due to not having the correct equipment - cue kid meltdown. The space hopper was pumped in a matter of seconds and was ready to use!

It's made from a thick, robust, red plastic that can be easily pumped up when it starts to deflate a little. It's supposed to delate a little too rather than pop if hopping gets a bit too wild! Noah was out on the decking in a flash, bouncing up and down, laughing his head off. It's been a welcomed addition to out outside toys and I can imagine the kids having a blast with it during lockdown and beyond.

The Angry Birds Space Hopper retails at £15.00 and is suitable for children over 5 years of age. How would you like to win one? To enter simply use the Gleam form below and don't forget to check out my other competitions.

Angry Birds Space Hopper worth £15.00

Terms & Conditions.         
1. There will be 1 winners who will win the prize mentioned above.
2. Winners details will be shared with the PR to arrange delivery of the prize. 
3. Competition ends 30/06/20.
4. Incomplete entries with be disqualified.
5. UK entries only. 18 years old to enter.

Teaching Your Child to Resist Peer Pressure

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As parents, something we tend to worry about is our children bending to peer pressure, especially as they get a little older and their peers start to experiment with sex, alcohol, smoking and even drugs. Even as adults it can be difficult to resist the power of a group trying to persuade us to do something we’re not entirely comfortable with. With that said, it’s important for parents to try and equip their youngsters with the necessary skills to think independently, have the confidence to stand up for what they think is right, and generally, just resist peer pressure during their school years and beyond. Here’s some advice from a family-friendly school in the Cotswolds.

Talk About Peer Pressure
Start by helping your child understand the difference between peer pressure and peer influence by sharing some examples. Peer pressure is when someone tries to convince you to do something you don’t want to do because it is immoral or unsafe, like bullying, stealing, smoking, etc. Peer influence is far less dangerous and may just be following the latest fashion trends or listening to music that other people listen to. It might help your child if you share some of your own experiences of peer pressure and what the outcome was. Ask them if they have any experiences of their own to share but avoid judgement because this won’t encourage an open and honest relationship between the two of you.

Teach Your Child to Say No
Explain to your child that it’s ok to be different and go against the grain, so to speak. They don’t have to agree with everything another person is saying or doing and there are ways to say no without coming across as rude or disrespectful. Highlight the benefits of being different and standing apart from the crowd. Help your child learn how to compromise. For instance, rather than saying a flat “no”, they could say “I don’t think that’s very safe, why don’t we do this instead?”.

Talk to Your Child About Perspective
Ask them to put themselves in the shoes of the person that is pressuring them. Are they being bullied themselves and want to take back some control by bullying someone else? Are they insecure? If they can see the situation from a different perspective, it might be easier for them to stand up for themselves.

3 Great Ways To Keep The Kids Busy At Home

This is a collaborative post.

Lockdown measures are slowly beginning to lift, and people are beginning to find their new normal. With schools not yet ready to open for the majority of children, many kids are bored out of their minds, and parents are at a loss for keeping them entertained. Sound familiar? If you’re at your wits’ end, this list features three great ways to keep kids of all ages busy, ranging from activities you can enjoy as a family, to distractions that will bag you a few minutes peace.

If you’re not afraid of getting messy, this is one activity that your little ones will absolutely love. Getting busy in the kitchen is not only a wonderful way to spend some quality time together but the perfect opportunity for you to pick up a new lockdown skill. Oh, and you get something delicious out of it, which is a bonus! For absolute beginners, there are plenty of simple baking recipes that are just a Google search away. Sweet treats like cupcakes and cookies are fairly easy, don’t take too long and can even be decorated with a little icing and some sprinkle to maximise the fun. For family-friendly no-cook recipes that don’t involve the oven, this list has some super-creative suggestions, from classics like rocky road and cheesecake, to fruity ice lolly pens and star-shaped sandwiches.

It’s hard finding the time to read, and it can be even harder encouraging your kids to do so. But it’s a healthy habit to have at any age, and if you can find a book your kid will love, it can keep them quiet for hours on end. If they’re young enough to enjoy being read to, sharing a story together can be a really special experience that doesn’t have to wait until bedtime. If they’re old enough to read on their own, encourage them with games, such as a 30-day reading challenge, or even reading bingo! You can find both of those here.

Few parents are relishing their newfound home-schooling responsibilities as they try and keep up with the mountain of homework that schools have been sending out. Don’t feel guilty if it hasn’t quite gone to plan – many parents have found themselves staring blankly at their child’s work pondering what on earth those equations are supposed to mean, or wondering what a subjunctive or caesura is. If you’re really worried about your child falling behind with schoolwork, tutoring services like Teachers To Your Home could be just what they need to catch up. They offer tutors at all educational levels from primary to A-Level and are currently offering online sessions. Not only can tutoring be a great opportunity to get you, child, back on track, but the sessions might just give you a little well-earned peace and quiet, too!