Living Arrows - October 2020

Who'd have thought that back in March when COVID first reared it's ugly head that we would be going into a second lockdown 7 months later - it's really sad when you think about it. You start trying to live life as normal as you can again, and then wham, there's no end in sight. That said, we try our best to muddle on.

October half-term was fantastic as we went on a couple of days out - the cinema, a trip to the farm, pumpkin picking, scary drive-thru, and so on - we even had our own Halloween party. I'm so glad we did with the second national lockdown starting tomorrow. I'm now spending my time party planning Noah's 7th birthday which will be under lockdown rules - trying to make his day special when we can't go anywhere or even see family. I'm sure I'll come up with something - throw an idea or two my way if you have any. I hope you are all well, and I'm sure these photos from our month will brighten this otherwise somber blog post.

Living Arrows

Bubble Trouble Dolls - Review

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

Receiving the new Bubble Trouble dolls from Basic Fun has been the highlight of Ava's week - she loves new toys just as much as the next kid especially when they look as cool as these ones. As soon as she saw these dolls in their brightly coloured plastic boxes she squealed in delight and couldn't wait for me to open them for her. Speaking of opening those plastic boxes - they were quite difficult to get into and I was overly fond of the amount of plastic used. Perhaps in future versions, they could think of a more environmentally friendly way to package them.

There are currently four Bubble Trouble dolls to collect; Sundae Funday, Bubblegum Kitty, Watermelon Slice, and Pineapple Punch - all of which look fantastic! I know I would have made a beeline for them when I was a child. We received two out of the four, Watermelon Slive and Bubblegum Kitty - look at them! Aren't they adorable? They are hard-bodied dolls with super squishy, stretchy hair and clothes, they have huge expressive eyes and little pouty lips. They are also scented - Watermelon Slice has a watermelon scent, and Bubblegum Kitty smells just like cats, only kidding - she smells just like bubblegum!

Each Bubble Trouble doll comes with their own squishy pet, certificate of authenticity - a great touch that makes them seem extra special. Their outfits and shoes are removable so children can mix and match their clothes to their heart's content - not Ava though, she likes them to wear their designated themed outfit. It's worth noting that the squishy material picks up all sorts of bits of fluff and lint, however, they are easily cleaned under cold running water. 

These dolls seem to be very popular with Ava - yesterday she took Bubblegum Kitty out on a bike ride! She's already asked Father Christmas for the other two and says she hopes that one day there will be a boy one too! Bubble Trouble dolls retail at £19.99 each and available to buy instore and online at Smyths.

Ben 10 Power Trip Switch Game and More - Review & Giveaway

AD - We were sent these products for the purpose of this review and compensated for our time.

Ben 10 has been a household name for years, ever since 2005 - although I can't say I was familiar with it until recently. It's predominantly a TV show which follows a boy named Ben Tennyson who finds an alien watch-like device, the Omnitrix. The "watch" contains the DNA of different types of aliens and allows him to transform into ten different aliens - as you can imagine he goes on so many adventures and battles. It's a great show and one Noah has really taken a shine to during lockdown - just in time for the release of the new Ben 10 Power Trip game.

The game is available on PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PS4, and to celebrate the launch we were gifted a virtual copy of the game, and sent an array of different products, most notably, the toys from Flair GP, to have our own little Ben 10 party.

Let's first discuss the game! Ben Tennyson and his family are all set for a relaxing European vacation – until evil Hex awakens four mysterious crystals and summons monstrous visitors from the Void. Now it’s up to you to help Ben stop the master magician’s Hex-tremely fiendish plans!  Ben 10 Power Trip is the latest game in the Ben 10 series coming out on PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One. Featuring a fully 3D open world to explore - there are adventures to have, bad guys to battle, and puzzles to solve! This game is action-packed with so much to do and you can even bring a friend along as “Kevin Levin” in local coop mode. Ben and Kevin both have 6 playable alien characters that are unlocked through the game all of which have unique attacks and attributes.  

The first thing we noticed about the game was the graphics. We are playing on Nintendo Switch and the game looks fantastic with sharp colours, smooth rendering, and detailed environments. The kids found the controls extremely easy to use and the on-screen button prompts make it so easy to play. The map helps to navigate you through the landscape and the fast travel points in the game mean you don’t need to be running around for long periods to complete your objective. This is great for young players with short attention spans! The menus are easy to use and you can access all your current objectives quickly with the map showing where you need to go to complete the next step. The environment feels huge but not repetitive as you come across lots of different areas each with their own unique scenery.

We think the game appeals to both fans as well as Ben 10 newbies, there is just so much in the game and so many objectives to complete. We really enjoyed fighting the bad guys using the different aliens and attacks. We really like the open world aspect as well -  the kids found zooming around on Ben’s scooter to be lots of fun. This is a great game for both Ben 10 fans and newcomers alike. 

As previously mentioned we also received a bundle of Ben 10 toys; The Ben 10 Omnitrix Creator Set, three Ben 10 wave 11 action figures, and a couple of Ben 10 blind bags - all suitable for children from 3 years of age. 

The Omnitrix is more than just a cool looking watch - that has the power to transform Ben 10 into 10 different Alien Heroes, each with their own special powers. And once Ben activates the Omnitrix - It's Hero Time! The Omnitrix Creator allows you to mix and match and be creative with over 100+ combinations - you can battle with it as both Ben and or Kevin 11. Suitable from 3 years of age is retails at £29.99. The Ben 10 action figures really pack a punch at just £9.99 and I think Noah wants to collect them all. Find the full range online and in-store at Smyths or Amazon.

Last, but not least - let me tell you about our Ben 10 party! It was a great way to introduce the kids to the new Ben 10 Power Trip game and it was so much fun too. We played the game, played snap, did some colouring, had snacks, played hide and find the blind bags, and even won some prizes! It was very much needed and enjoyed by the whole family.

Want to win a Ben 10 action figure? Head over to my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for your chance to win. Don't forget to join in with the UKMumsTV twitter party on Friday 9th October between 1-3pm for your chance to win more prizes! Good luck! 

Preparing Your Garden For Winter

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As summer draws to a close you may already be feeling downhearted at the thought of waving goodbye to the sunny days lazing in the garden and the long alfresco evenings sat out on the summer breeze. However, with a few simple touches you can make sure your garden is a space to relish long after the leaves have fallen and the nights have drawn in.

Plant Evergreens
Your garden doesn’t have to become a bare wasteland throughout the winter months. Add colour and texture back into your garden by planting evergreens. Turn to your local garden centre to explore the host of options available. Coniferous shrubs such as Tatsumi Gold can add a pop of yellow/green warmth to a baron winter garden and Winter-Flowering Heather can bring your borders to life with a wash of pinks, purples, and white.

Garden Furniture For All Weather
Sitting out in the garden isn't just for Spring and Summer! In fact, there is nothing better than enjoying the fresh, crisp Autumnal air. I'm currently planning on purchasing a Hammock from Tropilex - the perfect addition for all-year-round relaxation. 

Garden Repairs
The end of summer, before the temperature drops, is the ideal time to carry out any maintenance work in your garden. Repair damaged fencing and decking, and protect them from the impending wrath of the elements with woodcare products.

Install Outdoor Lighting
The long nights enjoying the evening sun may soon be behind us, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of your garden in the evening. Adding lighting can bring your garden to life in the winter months and creates continuity between your indoor and outdoor space. Adorning bare branches with lanterns and adding fairy lights to your summer house or shed can make your garden feel inviting and helps to create some whimsical winter magic.

Welcome Nature
The bright colours of summer blooms may be dying back, but you can still invite life into your garden by creating space for wildlife. Help birds weather the winter frosts by hanging fat balls in wire cages, or add an ornate bird feature as a focal point of your garden.

FGTeeV Season 2 Toys - Review & Giveaway

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

Noah has been obsessed with FGTeeV for years - following the FG family on their many adventures over on their YouTube channel. At one point he even started talking like one of their kids! With this in mind, I was delighted to accept a bundle of FGTeeV toys for him. As you can see he was squealing with excitement when he spotted the toys. Want to see what we received and enter for your chance to win a prize? Read on!

First, we have the all-new Season 2 FGTeeV Mystery Figure Blind Bags. This season features a cast of characters from the FGTeeV and FV Family YouTube channels including: Laser Gamer Duddy, Baggo Beans, Ape Chase, Raptain Hook, and rare figures like Colonel on the Cob. Each blind bag comes with a single surprise figure. Noah was so happy to find Ape Chase - such a cool figure. The FGTeeV Mystery Figure Blind Bags retail at £4.99 each.

Next, we have the Season 2 FGTeeV Giant Mystery TeeV Set silver which is filled to the brim with FGTeeV goodies; x3 mini-figures, x2 14cm figures, sound effects hanger, flashlight keychain, stickers, and of course, the reusable TV storage container. This product certainly has the wow factor - it's huge and the TV is so realistic! Noah recognised every character inside and favourite item was the mini flashlight and sound effect keyring! It retails at £39.99 which is quite pricey but I'm sure its worth is for a Christmas or birthday gift for an epic FGTeeV fan!

What's better than one mystery figure? Three! The FGTeeV Mini Figure 6 Pack is the ideal for kids who go bananas over collectibles. Three figures are on display, and three are blind creating a fun unboxing surprise. There are a whopping 46 different figures to collect. This 6 Pack retails at £24.99 but it is currently on offer.

Noah loves the FGTeeV Season 2 range - it's brought the family from our screen, straight into our home. We thought it was great finding Duddy but it was even more fun finding all the different characters that the FG family has created over the years!

You can buy these toys and more online and in-store at Smyths, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Argos, Amazon, The Entertainer, and other good retailers. How would you like to win an FGTeeV Mystery Figure Blind Bag? To enter simply use the Gleam form below. Good look and don't forget to enter my other competitions.

FGTeeV Mystery Figure Blind Bag

Terms & Conditions.         
1. There will be 1 winner who will win the prize mentioned above.
2. Prize provided by me. 
3. Competition ends 31/10/20.
4. Incomplete entries with be disqualified.
5. UK entries only. 18 years old to enter.

The Benefits of Sports in Schools

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In recent years, children have been spending an increasing amount of time playing on their smartphones and/or game consoles. This sedentary behavior can lead to an energy imbalance, which may cause young people to gain weight, and can also increase the risk of things like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and a range of other physical and mental health issues. With that said, it’s absolutely crucial for parents to try and reduce screen time and encourage their kids to spend at least an hour per day doing something physical. Fortunately, physical education is a compulsory school subject until the age of 16, which is beneficial for many reasons. I have teamed up with a private school in Surrey to explore why sport is important in schools below.

Reduces Stress
Physical activity is known to reduce stress because of the “feel good” hormones that are released. With that said, PE and sporting clubs allow students to blow off some steam and take a break from the stressors of everyday school life, such as exams and homework. As a result, children are able to return to their traditional lessons feeling calmer and more alert.

Boosts Confidence
As well as the obvious health benefits of sports in schools, it's also great for helping children gain confidence. Whether it’s a high five from a teammate, a new personal best, a cheer from the crowd, or positive reinforcement from a PE teacher or coach, children are given the opportunity to grow in character and start to believe in themselves. Gradually, their sporting skills will improve, which will help them have faith in their own abilities. Even if they’re playing football or another match and they lose the game, they will learn to accept constructive criticism in a positive way. It’s important that children learn how to deal with loss from a young age, because they will then find it easier to overcome obstacles in the future.

Improves Social Skills
Sport is often a social activity, which gives children the chance to work as part of a team and cooperate with their peers. Teamwork is an important skill that even many adults require in their place of work and working with their friends to reach a common goal will give your child a sense of camaraderie and community spirit.

The Benefits of Extra-Curricular Activities for Children

AD - This is a PR collaboration.

Extra-curricular activities offer a number of benefits to children. For example, they introduce your child to new people, they help your child to gain new skills, they encourage your child to stay active, but most importantly they are fun! If you want to learn more about the benefits of extra-curricular activities for children, here is some helpful information from an independent school in Surbiton.

Extra-curricular activities help to build self-confidence
This is because they provide an opportunity for your child to make new friends, gain new skills, and explore a new environment. By taking part in a new creative hobby, your child will also be able to explore and develop their own unique style and tastes. Art classes and drama groups are both great ways for your child to learn how to express themselves.

Extra-curricular activities help to develop personal skills
Taking part in extra-curricular activities can also help your child to develop many personal skills and gain more experience. Your child will have a chance to practice their communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills through various activities. These skills will contribute greatly to their future career. Furthermore, your child will learn how to plan ahead and manage their time more efficiently with a regular hobby.

Extra-curricular activities improve wellbeing
Extra-curricular clubs can improve your child’s health and wellbeing in a number of ways. This is because many extra-curricular activities are physical; such as dancing and sports. These activities not only help to keep children fit and healthy, but physical activities have also been proven to support children’s mental health.

Extra-curricular activities increase career prospects
Participating in extra-curricular activities is an ideal way for your child to build an impressive CV and increase their career prospects. This experience can help your son or daughter to stand out from the competition when applying for jobs. Your child will be able to show an employer their personal interests and what achievements these have led to.

Is Your Home Halloween Ready?

Halloween is just around the corner! Most shops have long started to display plastic skeletons, oversized fluffy spiders, and laughing witches. Needless to say, every household with children in the UK has probably already purchased some of these essential Halloween items. After all, after over a year of pandemic and, for some families, extreme self-isolation, it's going to be the occasion for children to go out and enjoy the fun of Halloween. So let's make the most of it while we can! 

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Fun decor ideas to do at home

We need to turn to our friends on the other side of the Atlantic to get some inspiration about designing adequate Halloween decors at home. Indeed, as exciting as the plastic skulls, skeletons, and battery-powered witches are, everybody has got the same decor. So, it's time to be creative and flex your artistic muscles. You can keep things classy with painted baby's breath in dark vases as a gloomy table centrepiece. Those who have a sewing machine could sew fake tombstones to decorate the chairs around the dining table. 

Wow the kids in your neighbourhood

What are the best Halloween sweets? If you check the displays in your local shops, it's likely to be a combination of skull or spider shaped chocolates and gruesome candies in odd colours. And frankly, while it might be exciting the first time, most homes are likely to have the same sweet assortment. So, why not look around for something unique and fun? You can order American sweets online, which are guaranteed to put a huge smile on every child's face. If you prefer something homemade, cookies with googly eyes are a favourite! 

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Make sure your children are prepared to enjoy the day

Halloween is all about showing off your fun costume, ringing the neighbours' doorbells, and receiving sweet treats. But, as a parent, you also want to consider how your child's behaviour could affect those around them. For instance, it's essential to brush up on your child's moral values ahead of the special night. After all, it's a night of safe scare, not of rude and anti-social behaviour! Remind them to be polite and respectful when they speak to the neighbours. A sweet smile and a thank you also go a long way when they receive sweets. Last but not least, sharing is a golden rule of a fun Halloween night.  

Choosing a great costume idea

What does the best Halloween costume look like for a child? There are no rules. Some kids want to dress up with shop-bought costumes, while others prefer something a little more creative. Homemade costumes are not as daunting as they seem. You can easily create a bonfire costume with simple cardboard cutouts to represent wooden logs and the flames, for example. Robot costumes also require little work; spray a big Amazon cardboard box on a metallic colour, and tada! It's worth investing in child-friendly makeup to bring life to all the butterflies, kittens, demons, and zombies of their dreams. 

Are you ready to make Halloween fabumazingtastic this year? With a little effort, you can create an unforgettable memory for children.