Wednesday, 28 December 2011
Our 3 year old was so excited on Christmas Eve. She had opened the last present in the pocket of her advent calendar and knew tomorrow was Christmas Day. That evening, having checked at least 100 times during the day that Santa would come, but also being quite concerned about a strange man coming into her room - rightly so (we told her Santa was magic and didn't actually come in) - she went to bed having left some Port and a cookie for Santa, and a carrot for Rudolph. Daddy was being Santa....guess who had the carrot to chew?
The big day arrived and I heard a little voice at 6.30am saying "Is it Christmas today mummy?" so I went to the girls room and said it was. She looked so crestfallen saying Santa had not come, until I put the light on and she saw the stockings! Little eyes lit up. Brilliant.
We headed downstairs and it took 2 1/2 hours to open the presents as each toy had to be played with for a while before the next was open. That was magical for us as their parents to see the little faces so excited about a new toy or teddy :) Of course 3 year old 'assisted' 1 year old in opening ALL of her presents too! That's what big sisters are for isn't it? So, 4 bin bags of paper/cardboard/plastic and the need for wire cutters 5 times and 1 set of batteries later, everything was opened and being investigated further.
Much playing went on during the day and late afternoon dinner was served. Hubby wanted this Christmas dinner to be a sit down, pull the cracker, wear the hat, then eat together type event. There were two hopes of that (and Bob's dead)!
Dinner was ready, 1 year old was screaming blue murder as once she sees the plates come out of the cupboard she wants to eat now...Now....NOW!!! Sat her and 3 year old in their chairs and brought their dinners in. 3 year old tucks straight in, 1 year old demands her food instantly too. Hubby brings in my dinner then goes to get his own. By the time he sits down (I'd forgotten the peas so he had to go fetch them for us all too), the two children are almost halfway through their meals. We stop for a brief cracker experience that little one isn't entirely sure about and anyway, it's interrupting her dinner, and carry on tucking in. Disorganised but nice regardless :)
Chilling in the evening once the girls were in bed with the lounge full of new toys and a dining room full of older ones (can't say old as it was only 1 year old's birthday a week beforehand so those toys are hardly worn out), we put our feet up and smiled. It's been a fantastic, frantic Christmas Day but we wouldn't swap it for the world.
Hope you had a lovely Christmas too :)
Friday, 23 December 2011
It was wonderful. My girls normally get me up somewhere from 5am onwards so it wasn't a hardship. Hubby sorted breakfasts whilst I jumped in the car and headed off. The car park was more or less desolate when I arrived - I'm sure I may have even spotted some tumbleweed - and off I went.
It was me, the pickers collecting peoples' orders and the cleaners. Brilliant! By 7am there were a few more of us milling around (I was halfway round at that point) and I did hear one worker in an aisle saying that due to customers taking things off the shelves, the presentation was not looking nice in the aisles. I had to chuckle.
By 7.45am when I was ready to check out, I could hardly push the trolley (no, the pictures is not the actual trolley). The self-scan wasn't working that morning so I had to revert to that old fashioned element of taking the items out of the trolley, putting them onto the conveyor belt and loading the other end. As it was quiet and I had the biggest trolley full in town (!) I had a lady help me unpack whilst I packed up at the other end into 2 - yep, count them - 2 big trolleys. Somehow once in bags I could not fit as much into the one trolley. The nice young man who was serving me was about to move to a different till so he pushed my second trolley to the car before he headed off :) Lovely.
Thankfully I had emptied the boot before I set off as I needed that, the seats and footwells to get everything in. Yep, it really was a *big* shop but not a tin of Quality Street in sight.
Tomorrow I am sending hubby to our local Waitrose to pick up the things I forgot....
Monday, 19 December 2011
This year we purchased the DVD of my 3 year old daughter's school Christmas production for the sum of £20. Now, for this I expected the company that were hired to do the filming to be (a) professional, (b) capable and (c) competent. Unfortunately for us, they company were none of these things! I won't name them *yet* as I'll wait to see what kind of response the school get from them.
The company that film school/charity productions/work are part of a larger organisation who show some seriously big named organisations on their website. I question whether they have also only worked for those clients the once if this arm of their business is anything to go by!
So, along they come. They clearly set up a tripod - actually, may be doubtful they even used one judging by the shaking and juddering in parts of the filming - and stood at the back of the school hall, possibly inside the cloakroom just to make it that little bit worse. The sound was dire at the best of times so I think the cloakroom did come in to play.
They filmed so far away in fact that they got in the rafters of the school hall, thus leaving the little girls on stage looking as far away as when I was at a Bon Jovi concert in the back rows of Wembley Arena. Hang on, no, I've had better views from there and managed better videos! I do not need to see the roof, the backs of the heads of the older girls watching it and the sides of the hall. I want to see the children, you know, those little moving dots on the stage. The ones that are mine and I am paying to see on your DVD.
I am wondering if they hired in a job seeker to do the actual filming. Someone completed a form saying they were available in December for £3 ph and had a mobile phone with video functionality. Yep, I think that's what they did.
The camera operator enjoyed long-shots, zooming in to faces so they went out of focus and a bit of 'Blair Witch' shuddery camera work. Priceless. Actually, no it wasn't, it cost a minimum of £1,300 as in order to get them to do it, they had to sell a minimum of 65 DVDs at £20 each. Owch I hear you say.
Now, the cost of the DVD is another issue. The production ran for around 45 minutes. I doubt for one second the company attended any kind of rehersal to know what was going to happen and work out shots and angles. So, a bloke turns up in a van, unloads a camera and (possibly) tripod, sets up at the back of the hall and presses 'record'. Ummm.....I would have done that for far less money! I can get a set of 50 DVDs for around £20 and burn them happily on my PC. I have a colour printer that probably does a better job at the cover art than their one did and I have lots of plain paper to print on. I suspect they made about £1100 out of this - not bad for about an hours work plus a bit of burning/printing is it.
I have written to the school as I honestly feel they have been taken the mickey out of. If this production company were to shoot any more of the schools plays, I would not buy one. My husband, who works in TV and started life as a cameraman, nearly fell off the sofa when I put the DVD on. 'Nuff said.
I think next time if the school are daft enough to employ these amateurs, I'll be insisting I can stand at the back and record my own version. As you may have gathered, this was not an option open to us this time. Note the 'this time' in that sentence....I'll even burn copies for the other parents!
Thursday, 15 December 2011
Ballet finished last weekend with grandma and grandad coming along to watch. I can see why they don't like parents/rellies in any other time. Talk about distracted children waving and shouting "Grandma" or "Daddy look at me". The teacher is a wonderfully patient lady but even she was starting to roll her eyes.
It's my baby girls 1st birthday this weekend so she's not really so much of a baby anymore then is she? We've got some lovely things for her including some new Inch Blue shoes (they were on the Amazon Wish List and they've now been bought by someone - yippee!) and a little Steiff teddy in pyjamas (something nice to keep for years to come I hope).
The 3 year old is baking mad so we've been making cakes almost incessently since her Nursery Christmas party. I'm going to need a serious diet in January to remove excess cake-age spread ;-) I blame CBeebies myself as she's always singing "I can cook" whilst mixing the ingredients. Having said that, she now knows what makes a cake and tells me the things we need for it and in which order. I'm glad she's not moved on to a full roast dinner yet as I'm not sure I could eat more than one of those a week!
I attempted our local shopping centre last week and was pleased I arrived as it opened at 9.30am. On a side note, why does our centre open 'late' compared to everywhere else? Anyway, my pushchair set off the alarms in every shop - 6 times in Debenhams which is our record to date as they have an alarm thing by the lift - and noone took a blind bit of notice. I don't bother to stop if the alarms go off now. I used to hovver by the doors in case anyone wanted to check my receipt, now I just keep on walking. Seems pretty pointless to have these things if you ignore them. Hey, that's the shops problem, not mine - I'm a legitimate shopper!
The tree has been up for a few weeks and we have had to rearrange the lounge to stop littlest from destroying it and all the presents underneath. It's like an obstacle course during the day to reach the curtains or put a drink down somewhere. The tree is barricaded behind a coffee table and an armchair - each item close enough to the next so that she can't crawl between them or cruise around them. Every day at 6am I move the stuff around like a giant slot puzzle then when she's in bed at 5pm, it goes back to a normal looking lounge. I wouldn't have it any other way though.
Today I went to the Post Office to send off a small parcel to my sister. Yes, I can hear you shouting that I must be bonkers to attempt a Post Office at this time of year. It was only out of total necessity that I went, believe me. Said parcel would not fit into the letterbox (no matter which way I tested it out) so I had to go there. I was also a little unsure as to whether my kitchen scales told me the truth when it came to postal weights. Oddly they are perfect with ingredients and yet, on more than one occasion, I've weighed something at home to get an idea of price and once at the Post Office counter, it's far more than I worked it out to be. Honest, I'm not daft. No really. Anyway, I hit the local supermarket just before 9am in order to get into the the Post Office pretty much on the button of 9. I walked in to a queue of around 7 people in front of me, most with bags of brown parcels. Two went very quickly having just required a stamp (yes, they are clearly daft as brushes) but it took me some 30 minutes to get to the counter to post my one little parcel. I was not impressed. Why? Well, they only had one person serving!! Who in hells name decides on the run up to Christmas, with final posting dates upon us, that 1 person would suffice. I counted the people in the queue - 25 including me. Everyone was looking at eachother and the grumbles soon began. It was clear for all to see that this was going to be a long wait. Most annoying of all, the shop counter staff were clearly not Post Office trained as two ladies were chatting away to eachother behind their counter and another gent was off for his tea break. Ridiculous to say the least. I would say the lady behind the counter was a bit miserable due to the volume of people waiting and being on her own but I've seen her lots of times and she have never looked happy, smiled or rarely even said please or thank you, so I know it's her normal demeanour. Next please....
Next week I will attempt Sainsburys. Hubby said he'd come too. I don't know if he thinks it's a fun day out of something but I can assure him it is not. Mind you, we'll probably need two trolleys by the time I have stocked up on beer/wine/toilet rolls/nappies/wipes as they take a whole one all to themselves!
Right, cakes must be cool by now so I'm off to assist in icing them - that's if I'm allowed :)
Friday, 9 December 2011
This is very much a family adventure where the penguins have to work and dance together to save themselves from extinction.
Players use dance moves to gather penguins with unique abilities that help you advance through the levels. You collect dancing musical notes and there are special areas you also have to dance on to collect bonus notes. To open the end of the level, you need a certain amount of penguins , illustrated by a penguin with a number, so have to collect the right number from your surroundings. Some penguins also need you to be a larger group before they will join you.
In order to collect some followers, you also need to be quite precise in your dance moves as they have a circular 'clock' above their heads which only fills if you dance on the beat. This would make the game a little complicated for younger players.
You can smash your way through ice steps and structures by performing coordinated dance moves and stomps. You can even clap along as you go.
You can choose your levels music and there are lots of tunes to unlock.
My 3 year old had a go at the game and whilst she mostly moved around in circles, she did love the stomping and clapping and had a little group of penguins doing this much to her amusement. However, the controls are too complicated for her. Our 8 year old nephew was brought in to try it and whilst he found the controls fine to use, the game became too repetitive for him to want to do more than a few levels.
The game retails at around £30 for the PS3 version but I am unsure of the rating as looking at stores who are pre-ordering it, it appears to be either a 3+ or 7 depending on the platform, which is really confusing.
Overall, not a game for us due to its repetitive nature even for younger players.
Tuesday, 6 December 2011
Anyway, having made said cakes, I thought I'd be all inventive and rather than just pop some home-made chocolate buttercream icing on top, I'd also cut the tops into little cone shapes and make some butterfly cakes like my mum used to make when I was a child. What a good idea! Now, it has been some significant time since I was a child and watched my mum making cakes but, what the heck, it couldn't be hard could it?
Having cut 4 cakes into said butterfly, I looked at them again. Nope, they did not look like butterflies in the slightest - they looked like surreal vaginas!! I had to get a photo of them. How could I get it so wrong? Fortunately I have more cakes (as you can also see) so the school are now getting simple little fairy cakes with a circle of buttercream icing and some sprinkles on top. I'll eat the other...errrr...anatomy...cakes myself.
Thursday, 1 December 2011
I'm getting excited about Christmas again this year. My 3 year old has had her first present from her advent calendar and I have to keep explaining to her why she can't have all of them. This could be a long month from that point of view. Her calendar is not exactly opening doors, more pulling things from pockets as it's a teddy bear shaped hanging calendar. I do like these but I have to confess my measurements were a little out when buying some things as I was absolutely sure the pockets were bigger. Oh well, she will have some extra bits in her stocking after all.
It's also great that Christmas is coming as said 3 year old has been having some paddys of late. The way to get them under control quickly is the quick response of "Santa is watching and if you don't behave, you won't get any presents" *evil grin* So far it's kind of working. I can't say completely working as there are some paddys that require a bit more effort on my part - even so far as threatening the Easter Bunny won't arrive either!
The Christmas tree will arrive next week. I've bought a new bauble for the girls and I'm wondering what the 11 month old will make of it. Hubby is putting up the normal hook on the ceiling that we will attach the top of the tree too via a piece of string - you can guess why!
It's the 3 year old's first ever Christmas play and we're off to see it at her nursery next week. She's a star. Yes, in every sense of the word :) Of course we have bought the over-priced DVD of the production in order to see her for the last 30 seconds of the play. What else would you expect?
Right, away I go to listen to "Don't stop the cavalry" again....
Friday, 18 November 2011
Lego Harry Potter is an action/adventure game. When we received it there was no rating showing on any of the sites selling the game. I believe it is rated for the 7+ age group and I think that's rightly deserved. The storyline follows the films exactly. My teen knew what was coming next, hence me having to take my 3 year old out of the room when the Dementors were about to attack in the tunnel in Ep. 5. as she was worried it might upset her. I have to say, it may have done but they were a lot cuter than in the film (I peeped around the corner) :) The whole look of the game seems to have the increased darkness and more mature theme, reflecting the films well. Don't be put off by that last sentence. There is also an excellent element of humour throughout the game. We both started to laugh the first time we saw Draco Malfoy boo and jibe Harry but it seems all of Slythein do this every time they see him! :)
The characters are instantly recognisable and the quirkiness of the Lego shapes makes them all huge fun to interract with - even the baddies. The worlds are beautifully built and you can explore areas from Hogwarts, where you can go to 16 magic classes to learn new spells, through to the Ministry of Magic. Diagon Alley is where you can upgrade your characters, change their outfits (Ron's blue pyjamas, Hermione's cardigan, etc) and collect up to 80 new characters, amongst other exciting things.
As well as moving around the areas, working your way through the storyline, you have the added element of the Lego. Different coloured blocks are all around you and you use them to assist you during the game. You can make them into a staircase to reach an upper level or a handle to work a lift. You can also decide to be destructive with your wand and fire it at the Lego in order to destroy it and collect the coins and special (gold) Lego pieces as you continue on your adventure. Also, specific characters can repair or work with certain coloured Lego which makes for another interesting twist. For example, only Arthur Weasley can repair muggle equipment such as cars. There are locked areas where you need the Weasley Sticky Trainers to explore them or master dark arts to open chests. There are lots of reasons to re-visit an area and you will not get bored doing so.
The wizarding is a challenge and you need to do a good bit of searching around. There is a lovely blend of the logic of a puzzle game and the fun of the magic. This is what I think makes the game special. All I can hear from the lounge at the moment is "Wow, legend" which I think translates from teen speak to 'I really like this' ;-)
There seems to be a save at the end of each area and this is an automatic action (with a Voldemort head to say it's saved).
The cut scenes are very good and I like the way the characters 'talk' without actually saying anything! I love the fun parts like Hermione falling into the freezing water and turning into a floating block of ice and the distractions like reading the newspaper. Small parts of the game that make you realise just how much thought has gone into it.
It is interesting to see how the game follows the films. For example, you cannot cast a spell at Dolores Umbridge in Hogwarts to dispose of her quickly before she makes all the students' lives a misery. Anything you fire at her simply goes around her. She is 'immune' until the right point in the game.
There doesn't appear to be much necessity for the lives that you have as you rarely tend to die or fall to your death whilst jumping or riding in the flying car. There are warp points on chimneys but not all areas have these so you often need to check for other methods of transport. We did find ourselves, at times, wondering aimlessly around an area trying to find an item or complete a puzzle. Often this was followed by us slapping our foreheads and saying "DOH" when we realised what we were supposed to do. So yes, this game can be a good challenge.
I would have to wait probably a few months to do a full review of each level and tell you how we found the game once it was completed but I would prefer you see it now. Depending which console you are using, the price varies from £14.99 - £34.99, the latter being the PS3. It may seem expensive but it is newly released and, to be honest, I think it's worth it. I'm sure given a few months it will be discounted via Amazon ;-) I can see much playing and entertainment value from this set of episodes. My teenage daughter is thoroughly enjoying it and has played a few areas now with no intention of stopping. I think that says a lot about the playability of the game and the fun she is having with working through the levels.
I would point out we have not played Lego Harry Potter 1-4 but I understand this was a little flawed from reviews I have seen of it. It seems any such issues were ironed well and truly out of this latest instalment.
Unfortunately we don't have two controllers but I understand that friends can drop in/out at any time in the game to join in the fun. I think I'll have to invest in another controller to test this out :)
Friday, 11 November 2011
It started last Wednesday. Toddler came home from school and was fine but slightly off her food and said she had a bit of a tummy ache. Calpol administered and I thought no more about it. She had some chilli for her dinner (which she loves) and then off to bed a bit later.
She wanted to sleep in her big sister's room as she had a bit of a cough (we've had this for about a week too), so off she went to bed. About 20 minutes later I heard a strange noise, followed by crying. I ran upstairs with hubby in hot pursuit and found toddler vomiting all over the duvet and herself. Poor little mite :( She was in a terrible state as she's never been sick before and couldn't understand what was happening. I gave her a cuddle and calmed her down and once she was done, hubby proceeded to clear up which involved rinsing everything in the bath. Yep, it was that nasty.
I instantly thought that perhaps there was something wrong with the mince I'd used in the chilli that I had made so once she was settled down back in her bedroom, I threw the whole batch away. Jez, had I given my baby girl food poisoning? I felt awful.
About 10 minutes later I was just going upstairs when the noise went again and she was being sick. I'd brought up a bin at that point so caught most of it but decided she wasn't going to be in her room that night so moved her mattress into our room and settled her there. I decided to stay with her and she feel asleep almost immediately. Hubby cleared up in her room (her little sister cried briefly whilst she was sick but went straight back to sleep).
The following day she had terrible diarrhoea so I was convinced then that it was something she had eaten. What sort of mummy was I that I had made my poor little girl so ill with my cooking :(
By the Friday she still ate almost nothing but was a bit brighter in herself but her tummy was still upset. We went off to collect her big sister from school in the afternoon and then headed home. All was well on the journey and we got home and I got dinner ready for toddler and her baby sister, and then said to my eldest that I felt a little bit sick. Perhaps I was just hungry?
Little ones in bed and I did dinner for teen and I. I had a few mouthfuls and felt awful. Sorry teen, have to leave you and go to bed, I feel very sick all of a sudden. Hubby home an hour later and he popped up to see me just as the sickness came to a peak. "Hello sweetie, how are you?" EUGHHHHHHH came the response as I was sick. Wave upon wave. I clearly was not my cooking and my chilli then as I'd had none of this. We were down with a bug!
Hubby was cleaner for the night again and eventually I went to sleep. Same upset tum the following morning as toddler had. Boy, this was rough. I slept nearly the whole day.
Sunday came and it was my birthday. Not much celebrating as you can imagine but I did feel a little better. Teen had felt unwell all day and had been sick but wasn't quite as bad as us. Hubby began to feel sick suddenly in the evening. Yep, 4 down. Only our 10 month old had escaped this - so far.
Monday came and hubby also had the upset tum from hell. Boy, this was some week coming up.
We were scared that baby would go down with the bug - which turned out to be Winter Vomiting Disease - so we sterilsed everything for her, not just bottles but spoons, bowls, etc.
A week after toddler first started, we're all through it but it's literally taken us one by one. It was fortunate that each adult got better before the next came down with it! At least we could look after each other :)
Baby didn't get it. We are pleased about that. My faith in my cooking is restored but I doubt that toddler will want chilli again for a while.
Friday, 4 November 2011
We had run out of bread and I fancied something other than eggs or beans on toast for lunch so decided to bite the bullet and nip quickly to our local Waitrose. Girls dressed, bundled up into their rain coats and into the car.
I put on my boots, not-rain coat (it's supposed to be but M&S clearly lied in the labelling and it's barely mild shower proof!) and no hat. Why no hat you ask? Well, hubby has bought me the loveliest Barber style hat (as you can see in the picture) for the winter for my birthday. My birthday is on Sunday. Today is Friday. Hence, no hat.
Now, realistically, I could have fetched my present down from atop the wardrobe and worn it. After all, I did buy it and may end up wrapping it. OK, so I won't wrap it as it's hardly a surprise. Hubby would have thought me sensible to wear my hat as it was tipping down with rain but I decided as I have not been 'formally' given it, I'll wait.
We arrived at the shop and I jumped out to try and erect the pushchair and get the rain cover onto it before it was too wet to put baby in. In the 2 minutes or so it took me to do this, I was soaked, yet again cursing my silly non-rain coat and chastising myself over my lack of brain cells to get the darn hat down from upstairs. Next I got the 3 year old out of the car and decided at that point I was unlikely to get any wetter. "Mummy, why don't you have a hood on your coat" she asks. Sensible question. "Because it's a silly coat" I reply. Sensible answer.
Shopping done with new 'drowned rat' hairdo and I'm about to brave the torrent when it stops, the sun comes out and that's it. Up until now (about 1pm) it's rained a minor shower and since then nothing, nada, zilch.
So, I chose the exact 10 minutes it was like a tropical storm (without the heat) to hit the shops. Never again will I believe the weather man. The bread can wait until the sun comes out next time! I only hope it's pouring on Sunday as I'll have a smashing, waterproof hat to wear then so my hair will be lovely and dry. Unfortunately, my body won't so I may ask hubby for a matching coat for Christmas.
Tuesday, 1 November 2011
Our selection was aimed at babies and young children. It consisted of The Essential Baby Clean Up Kit (£10.99) which included absorbent granules that encapsulate the spillage to form a gel which can be scraped away with the card scraper provided; Spot Remover Wipes that are Woolsafe approved and remove any remaining marks from the spill; microbial spray deodoriser eliminates any lingering odours by neutralising them at their source and an anti-bacterial hand gel will disinfect and sanitise your hands. Our kit also included two large, yellow ‘clinical waste’ bags and a set of plastic gloves. We also received a large Bin Deodoriser (£3.99); Handy Spot Remover Wipes (£3.43) and Whoops-a-Daisy granules (£4.99).
At first glance, I did think that this was more suited to animals than children and could really see the benefit of some of the products for animal spills and messes. However, with an open mind, I decided to try out the products bearing in mind my own two little ones.
One of the first things I tried were the Spot Remover Wipes which come in a pack of 25. Being someone who usually reaches for a baby wipe when something hits the carpet, these were a good alternative. They managed to remove a fairly ground in mark on my dining room carpet with ease, despite not feeling at all ‘wet’ which you would expect. It took a little rubbing but nothing more than I would do with the aforesaid baby wipes. No odour afterwards and a clean spot of carpet (I will have to move furniture more often to see what’s appeared beneath it!). The wipes are a nice size but not overly large. One did this job well so overall I was pleased. However, if I am totally honest, I would not spend £3.43 on a pack of 25 wipes when I can buy Sainsburys own baby wipes quad pack at £3.80 for 320 wipes. They achieve exactly the same result but you may need two wipes to do it (yes, you probably read my article on baby wipes not just being for baby!).
The next product to try was the Bin Deodoriser which I really did like. The smell was not too strong and overpowering as some of these products can be it is both solvent and phosphate free. Just a few sprays and my swing bin was smelling sweet again. I would definitely buy this product again although I would not waste it on my wheelie bin!
The Essential Baby Clean Up Kit was something I decided to leave to try for an ‘out and about’ adventure. It has a nice fastening top and fits neatly under the pushchair or even in your carry bag (let’s face it, one more thing in baby’s bag isn’t going to matter a jot!). As some of you may know, as a family we go Geocaching quite a bit so having things like hand gel comes in quite, well, handy! Taking a baby and toddler caching can also mean potty stops and nappy changes so having a few appropriate bags is essential kit. I would not, however, user a huge, yellow ‘clinical waste’ bag for a nappy or potty liner. Also, I do wonder what a Local Authority would think of one of those placed into a litter bin? I am sure it would raise alarm bells for them as surely they would wonder what on earth was in it? A few ‘nappy bags’ would have been ideal as that’s what we currently use and we dispose of them either at home or, if we’re on a long walk, in a ‘doggy bin’ (let’s face it, nothing can be worse than dog poo so a little wet nappy probably fragrances those bins!). However, the clinical bag doesn’t appear to be part of the kit as detailed on Natural & Clean’s website so I am unsure as to why it ended up in ours.
The idea of the granules is good for keeping in the car. Having had my eldest be violently sick in the back once, I could have killed for something to absorb it better than all the tissues I had in my handbag. The deodoriser would have also been most welcome to save us freezing with the windows open all the way home. The spot remover would have failed on our vomit attack as I had to actually throw her booster seat away – yep, that was how bad it was.
The plastic gloves are an extra that isn’t worth including in a baby kit (yes for an animal one though) as any parent who can’t deal with wee/poo/vomit may as well give up with their children! The scraper could be useful in the case of a vomit attack but, again, more for a pet kit I suspect.
Overall there are some nice bits in the kit but a number of things I would change to make it more suitable for babies/small children. It did seem to me that the kit was essentially a pet one that had been slightly modified. As to whether I would pay £10.99 for it, I’m sorry but no, it's not for me at that cost. However, for people who are looking for a more environmentally friendly alternative, it may be just the thing.
Update 3rd November - Unfortunately last night my 3 year old was violently sick. We therefore got a chance to try some of the other products. The granules were excellent at absorbing the sick on the bedroom carpet, the spot remover wipes helped clean up the mattress and had a pleasant smell and absorbtion to them and the spray deodoriser made the room fresh again with just a few little sprays. Overall, I was very, very pleased with the quality of these products as there is nothing worse than a room that smells of vomit. This morning, you would not know that she had been ill in the room.
Friday, 28 October 2011
The game is for 1-4 players and is of the action-adventure/(slightly) platform genre. It is aimed at the 7-12 age group. Having said that, my daughter, just having escaped the Tween and moved to the Teen, still considered it worth playing ;-) The thing that immediately grabbed her attention is the fact that you could play as characters such as Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean), Nemo (Finding Nemo), Sully (Monsters Inc.) and many more. This made the game appealing before we’d even put it into the console!
There are 6 Disney 3D worlds that you need to work through including “Pirates of the Caribbean” containing ships and caves and “Alice in Wonderland” which is exactly as you would expect it (yep - surreal). You would imagine these worlds would be a bit ‘twee’ but in fact, the premise of the game is that these worlds have been corrupted by a strange virus and now are inhabited by dangerous enemies and a variety of traps and hazards. Characters are trapped in the levels and you need to set them free again. Each world consists of three separate areas containing three relatively short but fun levels.
The graphics are well done, bright, attractive to a younger audience but, most importantly, you can easily recognise the character representations. You seem to wear a character costume. The style reminded me quite a bit of “LittleBigPlanet” although whether that was intentional given the target audience I am unsure. The costumes themselves can also be levelled up so that you can give out more damage to your foes whilst being better protected yourself.
With having an early copy of the game, we had no instruction manual included but that really wasn’t necessary. The gameplay is simple to understand and follow...if you’re younger than me! Despite numerous blue arrows, I still managed to get this wrong, much to my shame. It can also be rather generous to the player at times, although, again, I managed to disappear off the screen a fair few times. However, don't be put off by my blunders into thin air!
There doesn’t seem to be too much fine aiming involved in beating enemies which is great for younger players. Even if you do get killed off (by enemy or just walking in the wrong direction as I did), it seems that you don’t ever actually die. Your character simply reappears in the area you were and you carry on. I think this will be a definite bonus for younger players but perhaps a little less appealing for the older end of the spectrum who probably would like there to be a bit more of a challenge in the levels where you really could ‘lose’. There is no additional difficulty either as you work through the worlds but I guess that’s the price you pay for being able to unlock them early (more on that in a moment). It would be pointless unlocking a world where you had not ‘levelled up’ enough to beat the enemies within. Perhaps a 'difficulty' option at the beginning of the game where more experienced/older players would then have limited lives might have been good. It’s a minor grumble though.
Much of the joy of the game for younger players is that they will simply be pulling levers or moving objects into slots (again with a generous AI to help them not need to be too precise) and battling simple enemies (many of whom I noticed seem to lose their clothes as you begin to defeat them).
One of the other interesting things I noted in the game was that any foreground objects ‘vanish’ when you are behind them so you don’t have to worry that you are about to emerge from behind a boulder facing the wrong way and run straight into an enemy.
Additional features include small puzzle type missions in different areas. These are just challenges triggered by an item, such as a games console that appears in Wall-E’s world. You then go off and complete the challenge to win some reward such as gold or items. Gold – the cute currency in a well recognisable Mickey Mouse head/ears style - is abundant by the way. I am not sure whether you need to rush around to collect it all but I’ve not left it to see. I, personally, am a grabber! You can accumulate the currency quickly allowing you to unlock other worlds so that you can play them in any order you want. Most seem to unlock around 2,000 coins. However, it is still worth replaying worlds that you have completed as you will find new challenges and items, as well as the ability to earn those extra mini-game medals.
As I said, we could not test the co-operative play out but I am sure that would be fun working as a team, provided the screen did not get too crowded.
All-in-all, it’s a nice game for the age group it’s aimed at and provides enough to do to let you want to come back and have another try, play another character, reach that gold medal or finding hidden areas and objects. We would certainly recommend it.
The sniffle started as school closed and we go down with colds. Almost immediately I hasten to add. Every one of us girls in this house has had a runny nose, cough and felt groggy. I've gone to the extreme and decided to have a chest infection. I like to do things one better than the rest of the household you'll understand.
Unfortunately, the weather hasn't been too helpful. We've had such warm weather for the time of year (despite the recent rain) that the bugs and germs just seem to be happily breeding away. You only have to look at your friends' Twitter chat to see that most of us with school age children seem to be down with the lurgy :(
The trouble is that there is nothing you can do for a cold is there. We have stayed in the warm as much as possible but still tried to wrap up and take a few walks as, let's face it, being stuck in for a week is not good for your health! It's just a case of 'riding it out' and hoping it's all gone by next week when school starts again.
I did want to venture into town to do a few things but decided to try and do them online instead (such as ordering photographs). May I suggest to anyone with a fuzzy, coldy head to avoid any online activity involving money because your brain cannot cope with the simplest of functions at a PC when most of it is running out of your nose. I can confirm this categorically by the fact that I wanted some photos printed so (a) uploaded them to the wrong site then (b) uploaded them to the correct site but didn't read how much the postage would be so (c) could have stayed with the original site I uploaded them to and not wasted another 3.5 hours (yes, it took that long to upload 275 photos!) to then decide I will just go to Boots and get them done next time I'm out!
One good thing is that half term coincided with 3 year old's birthday as at least that means she has some new and exciting toys to play with whilst we are stuck indoors and littlest one has new things to chew and wipe her runny nose on ;-)
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
If your baby prefers warm milk, make up bottles as suggested to 6oz then when they need a feed, boil a kettle with a little fresh water and add 1oz of hot water to the bottle with the formula powder. 7oz of instant warm milk without the fiddling.
If you have a wiggly baby like my two little ones both were, don’t bother buying lots of cot sheets and blankets. I have an airing cupboard full of them! Invest instead in a Grobag (or similar). Having a 1 tog and a 2.5 tog will ensure (in winter) that baby sleeps well during the day and at night. Remember though to check your tog against your room temperature. In summer you can even get a 0.5 tog for those cooler nights.
This has worked for me and I now have a very healthy, happy 10 month old :)
Any tips you would like to share, I would love to hear them so I can pass them on.
Thursday, 20 October 2011
Despite the fact that she told her nursery school teacher the day before, that she would not be in the following day as it was her birthday (nice try!) she did indeed go to school and have a lovely morning being the centre of attention and having 'Happy Birthday' sung to her (I hear she sings "Happy birthday to me") :) She wasn't too wired either considering she'd only had a piece of birthday cake for breakfast. Hey, it's only one day a year!
We decided to opt for a train set for our main present for her and as she likes Chuggington, well, it was an easy choice :) The 'Over & Under Starter Set' was the one we went for.
The set is the wooden variety (you'll recall we do love a wooden toy in this household) and we got a bit of extra track for Christmas but ended up giving it to her as the actual set wasn't as big as it looked on the box! Where do these companies get their cameras from? I could make our back garden look like Windsor Park with the lenses they must use ;-)
We bought some extra trains and carriages too and she even has one that plays the Chuggington tune (well done Toys R Us for '3 for 2' on Chuggington extras). The only issue with it is that the trains cannot get down the ramp themselves without falling off at the end. The slope is too steep and doesn't connect with the track well enough to avoid a 'bump' that sends the train and carriages hurtling across the carpet. OK, possibly not 'hurtling' but falling over on their sides for sure! I think someone did this on a drawing board without testing it out :( Not a problem for our girl though as she likes to manually push the trains around the track so never actually lets go of them (unlike mummy and daddy who shove them along).
To say it was the best choice of present would be an understatement. She played with it almost continuously yesterday, making new tracks up and lots of stories about what the trains were doing, and went straight into the dining room at 6am this morning to continue her play. The minor glitch to all of this is her little sister is now staring at the set from behind a tightly shut baby gate as she's not allowed in I'm told.
As you can imagine, we are going to 'top up' the set at Christmas with some extra bits like a station and some junctions. I am beginning to wonder who likes this more - her or us! :)
Tuesday, 18 October 2011
You need shoes that you can undo enough to get little, often curled up, feet into and then comes the problem that your little one can undo velcro. Mine enjoys taking her shoes off at the most random of moments, often throwing them away as you turn to say "Look at the ducks" and you only realise she's deposited them on the pavement once you run them over with the pushchair! I've not lost any yet, but it's been close.
I don't want to buy Clarks crawler shoes as I prefer my girls to not have 'hard' shoes until they are walking. Call me odd, but I like them to stretch their toes and feel the ground beneath their feet when they are tiny.
I would like to share with you a little revelation in shoes for babies and toddlers that I have stumbled across. When I say that "I" stumbled across them, what I mean is that a friend very kindly bought them for my 10 month old and I finally put them on her yesterday and thought WOW, these are fantastic. As I put them on her again today for our outing, I threw her other shoes away! :)
The shoes are by Inch Blue and the ones we have are called Little Cupcake. You can just see them in the picture of her to the right but I've 'borrowed' a lovely photo directly from the site for you to see them in all their glory at the top of the page (I hope they won't mind!) ;-)
The great thing about these little shoes is that they are made of very soft leather, with a non-slip suede sole, so little feet can move in them, breathe and feel the ground. I also keep sniffing them as they smell absolutely gorgeous. Thankfully she doesn't have her father's feet ;-)
The shoes are made with elastic at the ankles so that you can open them up enough to get feet in, but they then close over nicely so that they aren't easily pulled off.
The designs are beautiful and you will probably have a very hard choice deciding what you want to buy for your little princess or pirate :) They are all hand crafted too so no mass production here which makes them extra special. They aren't cheap but then again, nor are many other purpose made shoes for little ones but the quality and ethics behind Inch Blue make them stand out.
You can buy shoes for children up to 6 years old and there is even a range of cute little boots too.
I know for certain I will be making at least one purchase for Christmas :)
Monday, 17 October 2011
Yesterday, my husband decided he'd had enough of CBeebies and switched over channels. Now, we all like CBeebies but there is only so much an adult can take in one day ;-)
Immediately our girl turned around and said "I don't want to watch your telly daddy, it is boring. I want my telly on."
Of course daddy said no. She continued to argue. Eventually he turned around and said "You must stop talking to me in that way, it is rude."
Without batting an eyelid she walked up to him and [insert high pitched, squeaky, sarcastic voice here] said "Shall I talk to you like this then daddy?"
1-0, slam dunk, game over!
Friday, 7 October 2011
The most common torment the toddler has thought of is holding her little sis by the forehead and not letting her get to things she wants, often accompanied by "but it's mine mummy and she cannot have it". Oh dear.
Yesterday, I was watching the news and was vaguely aware of this funny noise beside me that had been going on quite a few minutes. Now, if you have children you will realise how quickly you can 'zone out' of the noise and commotion around you when you're surrounded by it all day! Suddenly, little one started to cry. I then looked around (they were beside me by the sofa) and realised why. Toddler had her balloon on a stick and was repeatedly hitting her sister on the head with it, which she found great fun. I had to tell her off a bit but also try and keep myself from laughing. It just goes to show how much of the frantic nature of our household washes over me! ;-)
Another new thing that toddler does is remove her sisters hands from the coffee table when she is trying to stand up or reach for something. Yep, you can pretty much hear the 'splat' already can't you.
Yesterday toddler asked daddy why he had to go to work and couldn't just stay at home and play with her. He said we needed money for things like food and clothes and that's why he was at work. She replied that he, mummy and her needed money but her baby sister did not as babies were not allowed money. So, that's one less person he needs to worry about providing for then. If only we'd known ;-)
On the bright side, at least toddler has stopped asking us to 'throw her away' or 'hide her somewhere you can't find her again' when referring to her little sis :)
Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Anyway, at around £1.39 per packet, it can add up to an expensive set of meals over a month! Yes, we do feed her other stuff but she really does like this particular brand, plus they are great when we are out and about geocaching too.
I had a look at what made them up and decided to cook something up myself based around the ingredients they contain. I thought I'd share the receipe with you as you can blend it all up for little ones or just mash for when they can have slightly lumpier food.
Vegetable & Pasta Pot
8 x carrots
3 x parsnips (small)
2 x tomato tin/packet (400g)
1 x cup pasta stars (age 7+ months)
1.5 pint beef stock (low salt)
Pinch mixed herbs
Pinch salt and pepper
- Chop all vegetables up and place in large saucepan with stock, herbs and seasoning. Cook until all vegetables are soft.
- Cook pasta until soft, strain and leave.
- Remove vegetable pot from heat and strain off half of the liquid but keep separately.
- Blend or mash vegetables up as required, adding additional liquid that you have set aside to get the consistency you want.
- Add pasta in and mix together.
- Spoon into 8 x 160ml pots for freezing.
Chicken & Vegetable Pot
1 x chicken breast, roasted
8 x carrots
1 x broccoli (whole stem)
1/2 an onion
12 x apricots (soft, dried and pitted)
2 x sweet potatoes
2 pints vegetable stock (low salt)
Pinch mixed herbs
Pinch salt and pepper
- Chop all vegetables up and place in large saucepan with stock, herbs and seasoning. Cook until all vegetables are soft.
- Roast chicken until cooked but make sure it does not dry out (I wrap in foil).
- Remove vegetable pot from heat and strain off half of the liquid but keep separately.
- Chop and add chicken to the pot.
- Blend or mash, adding additional liquid that you have set aside as required.
- Spoon into 8 x 160ml pots for freezing.
As an aside, blended up they both taste lovely so I think they may be on our menu for soup this winter ;-)
The game is true to the cartoon and all the characters from the show appear with some super graphics. The style is a puzzle/platform one spread over 6 different worlds and 25 levels. The player controls 2 characters which can be swapped around mid play. There are 10 characters in all to choose from. Of course, it is better to play with another person but the AI is excellent at controlling the other character so you are not limited to needing a companion.
The weapons are of the non-lethal type such as a carbonator, anti-gravity gun and baseball gun. Aiming is almost not necessary as the game seems to select enemies for you if you vaguely point in the right direction. Also, the enemies that there are, don’t exactly rush you. I have probably seen faster road-rollers ;-) Even if, heaven forbid, you did get caught by an enemy, there are so many health packs that you would be hard pressed to ‘die’ even if you wanted to.
You encounter a boss at the end of each world but these fights are very easy to deal with. In actual fact, the bosses moves are very predictable. There are also two mini-games enabling you to unlock additional features.
The controls for jumping can be a little off which surprised me. This didn't prove to be a problem for either of our game testers though as they compensated very quickly.
We did appreciate that the game is a 7+ in age group, so suspected it would be relatively easy for the tween to complete. However, we didn’t expect that she would have it completed in 4 hours from start to finish!
We decided to employ a nephew to have a go too as he was the target age group. He completed the game in just under 6 hours (not in one sitting I hasten to add!) without dying once, so this proved to me that it really is over simplistic.
I think that Disney have missed the fact that children, even as young as 7, are quite competent gamers nowadays and need a little more of a challenge. I suspect that a 3+ rating would be more appropriate.
At £17.99 on Amazon for the Wii version of the game, I would be rather annoyed if I had paid that and had my children asking what could they do next after a few hours. It’s probably worth a look at as a daily rental but not more than that.
Opinions expressed here are, of course, all my own.
Friday, 30 September 2011
Two months after buying it, we bought our first Fisher Price booster seat and wished we'd never bothered with the highchair in the first place!
Our first seat is the Fisher Price Healthy Care Booster Seat. This seat fixes to a normal dining chair with a strap underneath and another that goes around the back of the chair. All adjustable, all very secure :)
The seat has 3 adjustable height settings so it suits most tables and also can be lowered as your child grows. It has a 3 point lap harness which also adjusts. The back of the seat can also be removed for older children (it goes up to 50lbs so will last a while). The seat can be used with or without the tray.
The tray itself consists of a large blue, flat tray; a white insert tray that fits into the blue one which is a little small but has a cup holder built in and a green cover. Again, all designed to fit your growing child. They are all dishwasher safe or, in this house, me safe! ;-) It is ideal also as the large tray can be used for play and my daughter has often been busy playing with some Soft Stuff on it whilst I've had an opportunity to do something exciting like ironing or hoovering (oh, the thrill of it all).
The seat itself is totally portable and you can use the larger strap to carry it over your shoulder. I wouldn't want to walk with it for too long though, as it is a little bulky, even though it's not as heavy as my handbag can be ;-)
With the arrival of our new baby (who is now 9 months old), we decided to use the old highchair for a while (yes, it's still as evil as it was when we first bought it) and then purchased our second Fisher Price booster seat. This time we got the Precious Planet Lion booster seat. As you can imagine, as soon as it arrived, our toddler decided it would be great for her to try it out before her younger sister and said they could "swap" seats. It was a hit!
This seat is a little more simplistic. Again the back, which is a cute orange lion face, can be removed for older children. The tray is a simple, single flat one. There is no height adjustment either. However, it does the job and was priced accordingly.
You can see our two seats in the attached photograph. Doesn't our new one, particularly, look so cute!
If you are limited on space, value your toes and would like portability, then opt for a Fisher Price booster seat as you really won't go wrong :)
Monday, 26 September 2011
When I had my, now toddler, some 3 years ago, we discovered that this particular little lady did not conform to being tucked in. In fact, the only time we actually tucked her in was in her Moses basket! This was purely due to the fact that she could not move around as she was simply too small to do so, but she still used to kick the covers off her feet in the night so she needed constant checking. OK, that sounded like harder work than it was but even leaning over the side of the bed to peer in at her laying next to me was tiring at times ;-)
When she got to around 5 months old, sheets and blankets were hopeless. She would kick them off and end up laying across the cot or upside down. I was more worried about her disappearing under them and getting too hot than her getting a bit cooler. I had even tried putting the sheets across the cot instead of the way they should go just to give more tuck-in at the sides but nope, she still got out. No matter how much I tried to tuck her in, she escaped - usually within minutes!
This is the point I looked at other things that would keep her warm and found Grobags :) Brilliant. Why did I have about 20 sheets and blankets in my airing cupboard when I could have one or two of these? I immediately went out and bought two Grobags, one 2.5 tog and one 1.0 tog. These are now known as the "Day and Night" set. My daughter seemed to love her Grobag and settled down to sleep in whatever position she liked - upside down or sideways - and I knew she would be warm. There was no danger of her getting it over her head as it's got poppers on the shoulders (adjustable) and zips up to under her arms. Perfect!
The other thing you need to consider, of course, is access to little bottoms in the night when they are so tiny and the Grobags have this sorted with zips that undo from the bottom to the top across one side so that you can open it up completely to get to your little one without disturbing them too much. If they wake in the night you don't even have to get them out of it for a nice cuddle :)
Of course, I have bought some cheaper 'Grobag style' bags and they have been OK but you really don't get the quality unless you buy the real thing. Yes they cost more but you do get what you pay for. They wash and tumble well so you could even make do with one (although two really is best just in case of accidents).
We used our Grobags up until my toddler was almost 2 years old when we moved her into a toddler bed and bought a duvet set. Our baby now has the Grobags and we're about to buy her a new one for winter. A definite must for parents of wiggly little ones :)