KidloLand App: A Review

Monday, 27 June 2016

As parents, we all love to encourage our children's learning.  It's really amazing how they soak up information like a sponge.


So, when we were asked to trial an app designed for encouraging learning, we couldn't say no!




KidloLand is an app that is perfect for little ones!


There are over 300 different songs, lullabies and nursery rhymes that focus on letters, numbers, shapes, colours, and so much more!







I was worried that Dot would quickly lose interest with the app as she is only little, but I was wrong. She loved listening to and then signing along with the different rhymes.


It was great to see Dot joining in with nursery rhymes that she already knew, as well as some old favourites that I remember from when I was little, that she didn't know yet.






She especially loved the Numbers 1-10 song. So much so, that I can't stop signing it and even Mikey has joined in!





As a parent, I really liked this app. It is great to use alongside day to day learning. What I also like is that Dot is learning but doesn't realise it! We used it every other day or so for 5-10 minutes and thanks to the Numbers 1-10 song, she already knows 1,4,6,7,8,9!

I'm not sure where the other numbers have gone though!

I also like that there were subtitles at the bottom for each song, which meant that not only can older ones join in with the words, but adults can too!


We have really loved this app and would definitely recommend it to other parents of toddlers and pre-schoolers. :)


To find out more about KidloLand, head to the website: www.kidloland.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter.



The app can also be downloaded from these links:










Disclaimer: We were given a 1 year subscription in return for our honest opinion.








Eating Gluten Free At Pizza Express

Saturday, 18 June 2016



Since November, when I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease, I haven't eaten out. As a family, due to Mikey's food allergies, we rarely ate out anyway, but my best friend Tracey and I used to eat out every other week or so.


Last night was our regular catch up night. Normally, Tracey would come round to our house and we'd sit, laugh and chat over a cup of tea as I don't eat out. I know, tea sounds so hardcore!


This time though, Tracey recommended Pizza Express as they have a gluten free menu. I have to say that I was a bit sceptical. Usually a gluten free menu has the small print that says something along the lines of "we cannot guarantee gluten free due to the risk of cross-contamination."


Before agreeing, I decided to look it up online. Their website is really easy to use so I found what I was looking for quickly.

I have to say I was really surprised, but in a good way. Scratch that, in a great way! It says:

"We’ve worked hard to ensure that you can be fully confident of no issues upon entering any PizzaExpress. This includes changing processes in our kitchens – including labelling and storage, using new equipment only for gluten-free food, as well as changing the flour we use for tossing and stretching our dough to be gluten-free.
Coeliac UK have awarded us with their gluten-free accreditation due to these changes and to put your mind at rest. "
With all this in mind, I agreed to go!

When we got there, I mentioned that I had to eat gluten free, to which our server smiled and reassured me that the menu could be altered so I wouldn't have to miss out.
The reassurance was also on the menu 


We opted for an old favourite, dough balls! I have to admit now that we were so busy talking and laughing that I forgot to take picture a picture of them! I can tell you that were really good. Tracey doesn't eat gluten free food and at one point she had to ask if they were gluten free because they tasted the same!

For  our mains, we both chose a pizza. This time Tracey had a normal pizza and I had an American pizza on a gluten free base. It was delicious!  Apologies for the picture quality. We were sat under mood lighting!
A gluten free American

After a lot of laughter, (as you can tell, we laugh a lot!), we finally chose a dessert.  I say 'a', I was undecided, and as the menu said that the gluten free chocolate brownie was a 'bite sized' dessert perfect for having with coffee or tea, I thought I better pick another one too!

I chose a Leggera Tartufo Limoncello. A Scilian Lemon Ice Cream with a limoncello filling. I couldn't believe that it was not only gluten free, but also only 230 calories. It was so creamy, but also really refreshing. Ideal for  the summer :)

Leggera Tartufo Limoncello 

As  I also mentioned, I chose a gluten free Chocolate Brownie to go alongside a cup of tea.  It was, as the name suggests, really chocolatey!

Gluten Free Chocolate Brownie


Again, Tracey tried both desserts and loved them!


The whole night was brilliant. Not only was it just like it used to be, where we would laugh all night (we were there so long that we had a lock in!), but the food was amazing.

It was really tasty. Sometimes, gluten free food can taste different and you do feel like you're missing out. This isn't true of Pizza Express though. As Tracey agrees, the gluten free options are just as good and aren't missing out on quality or taste.  I also loved that unlike some gluten free food, it doesn't cost any more.

I can honestly say that Tracey and I will definitely be returning to Pizza Express. I don't think I'll eat two desserts every time though!




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Garden: A Brand New Look- Update

Tuesday, 14 June 2016



You may have seen my post back at the end of March about updating my garden and giving it a brand new look.


This is what it looked like to begin with:





We've already made a lot of progress. Well I say we, but it's my poor husband and father-in-law who have been outside working!





After a bit of tidying up and weeding, the first big task Mark had been working on was to remove all of the grass. We hired a turf cutter for the job, which resulted in me driving home at ridiculously slow speeds because I thought that the turf cutter was going to shoot through the window of the boot if I went to fast! At one point a cyclist overtook me!



We had it for the weekend, but with his dad's help, they managed to finish the job by the end of the Saturday.



After the grass had gone, the next task was to create two levels and also dig down for the levels of sand and membrane needed underneath the artificial grass.




My back garden has gone from a large grassy area where the kids could play, to what can only be described as a small building site!





I have to applaud Mark though. He has been working on the garden after he gets home from work all week and trying to get it done when it's not raining!

We've (or rather he), has almost finished the bottom level of the garden and just needs to even it all out and remove the excess dirt, of which there seems a lot!


I have noticed that on my many drink runs that our garden project has helped a local family of blackbirds. The male has been in and out of the garden grabbing worms on the escape. At one point, he was even sitting on 'dirt mountain' waiting for Mark to finish the next section!



This project has taken longer than I thought, but I'm hoping that in the next month or so we can really crack on and get finished. I might even help by bringing drinks!




Please don't worry about the stares......

Sunday, 12 June 2016

The other day I was in town and I saw a mum close to tears as her daughter was having a tantrum outside the local library. I was running late and forgot about it until I got home.

However, as a mum of a daughter who is, what some call "wilful", it prompted me to write a little poem.




Please don't worry about the stares
I know as a mum, that we've all been there.


It might seem like it's only you,
But believe me when I say, it happens to me too.


My little one might be quiet now and she might be fast asleep in her pushchair,
But you missed her meltdown in Tesco's ,when her shouts and screams filled the air.


It began with not letting her touch a shelfful of tea.
Believe me when I say, suddenly all eyes were on me.


I know what it's like for your child to shout,
When they lay on the floor and completely act out.


It's hard when your out with the kids on your own,
But please believe me, you're not alone.


We've all been there, but the paddies do stop,
Soon there'll only be memories of a strop.




Please don't worry about the stares
I know as a mum, that we've all been there.



What do you think?  Have you got 'wilful' children too?!





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5 Photos That Make Me Smile

Saturday, 11 June 2016


I love taking photos and looking through old photo albums.

There are so many photos that bring a smile to my face, like when the kids were born, their birthdays and my wedding day, but there are a special few 'day to day' photos that always bring a smile to my face.

Here are 5 of mine:





Every August we go to the Robin Hood Festival at Sherwood Forest. (For those that haven't been, it's a must!) Our whole family goes in convoy!  Last year there were 17 of us, but since then our family has gained a new member, so we're edging ever closer to the 20 mark!
This picture is from three years ago. It was Mark's first visit and the first family get together since we were married. I love this photo because they didn't know I was taking it and it's really nice to see the boys together :)






As you know, Mikey has severe food allergies and because of these, he's missed out on a lot of social activities, such as having tea round a friend's house after school, sleepovers at weekends or birthday parties.
This photo was taken last October. After much discussion with the teachers, Mikey attended the Y7 Outward Bound Trip in Cumbria. Mikey has been away before with primary school, but they were only half an hour away and I was at the end of the phone and constantly updated. However, this time, he was over 4 hours away and there was no contact for the whole weekend, apart from being sent these pictures by the teachers on social media.
This photo means a lot to me. It shows that my little boy isn't  that little anymore. The whole weekend, he was in charge of his medication and I'm so proud of him!




(L-R: Joanne, my Sister-in-Law, me, Kirsty, my Sister)

This photo is new to my collection that make me smile. Last weekend, my Sister, my soon to be Sister-in-Law and I took part in our local Pretty Muddy Race for Life.
We had a blast! We laughed from the minute I picked them up to when I took them home and we found that neither of them had their house key. After sitting on bin bags in my car, they had to stand on a towel in my living room with emergency ponchos on while waiting to be picked up!
Not only did we laugh until we cried (especially at Joanne when she had mud splashed in her eye!) but we raised £260 for a brilliant cause.





I love this photo. Every Mothering Sunday, the Mid-Lent Fair comes to town for a week. We all walk down as a family, all 19 of us, again in convoy (are you sensing a theme?!)
One of the rides is an old train that goes round in a circle. I love it! Pretty much every child in town has been in on it through the years! There is a picture of us on it when we were little, I had one of Mikey and I wanted one of Dot too.
This year, Mikey was really good and took her on for me. I not only love this photo because of that, but because these two really love it each other. Mikey dotes on his little sister and Dot is forever wanting to spend time with him. In fact, his is the first name she calls when she wakes up every morning!
Ever since he was 5, Mikey's been telling me that he will have a little sister. At the time I laughed, but he was right! 






Before I met Mark, pretty much every Sunday, Mikey and I used to go for walks. We used to walk up to and through our local deer park and back again. It was a bit of a trek, but it was great because we got to chat and catch up as we walked as I worked during the week.
This photo really makes me laugh. One day, when we were walking, we were kicking the leaves and Mikey suddenly disappeared from next to me. We didn't notice the great pile of leaves in front of us. I had to take a picture of him and he was more than willing!


What are some of your favourite photos that make you smile?


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My Random Musings

Exams: A Checklist

Friday, 10 June 2016




This week Mikey has been sitting his first 'proper' exams since he started Secondary School.

End of Year Exams can be really daunting for our children, especially if they've never sat for exams before. I know that Mikey has found it quite hard and has been struggling with juggling revision and managing exam time etc.


The school has been very good and as well as revising in class, they also sent home an exam checklist, but we decided to add to it in a hope that it would ease Mikey's anxiety:

Revision

  • Find a place to revise that is quiet and calm. (Maybe in your room away from your sister?)
  • Use a revision technique that works for you. It could be a drawing a spider diagram, writing notes on index cards. There is no wrong method.
  • Plan out your revision. The best way is to revise in the order of your exams. Check your exam timetable.
  • Revise each subject in small sessions. Don't spend too long on one subject or you may find yourself switching off.
  • Let yourself have a small break in between each session to recharge. (You can't have biscuits every break though!)


For Exams

  • Pack your bag the night before, so you don't forget anything in the morning rush for school.
  • The night before, read through any revision notes you may have made.
  • Breathe, relax and try not to worry!
  • Read the instructions on the front of the exam paper.
  • Read the questions carefully.
  • Highlight of underline any key words that can help you understand a question.
  • Keep an eye on the clock.
  • If you get stuck, move on to another question. You can always come back to it later.
  • Try and leave time at the end to look through your answers.
  • If you are not sure on an answer, have a guess. You might be right!
  • But most important of all, don't worry. As long as you've tried your best, no one can ask anything else of you. 


What do you think? Would you add anything else to the list?




101 Ideas for having fun with the kids this Summer

Friday, 3 June 2016


With the winter months finally behind us, the recent heatwave lighting barbecues across the country and the kids summer holidays just over the horizon it’s, believe it or not, that time of year again to consult the old diary and plan a summer of big adventures.



If, like us, you’re struggling for ideas of where to take the kids next, check out this handy ebook created by over 101 of the Best British Bloggers. With hundreds of activities, destinations, and just general FUN each of the ideas has been tested by a blogger just like myself and is personal recommendation straight from the heart. 

My suggestion for the book was 
WISTOW MAZE, LEICESTERSHIRE.


As a mum with a passion for everything local I love that there is somewhere so fantastic right on my doorstep! The kids also love the outdoors and the budget friendly prices mean we can afford a treat afterwards :)


Another of the suggestions from the book I really like was OLD SCHOOL COOL GAMES by Laura at Wafflemama.uk. She wrote;

“One of my favourite ways to have fun with the kids is to go back to the ‘old school’ and show them all the things we loved as children! If you think back to all those things you loved as a kid, like making perfume from petals, bow and arrow from sticks, playing hopscotch or skipping rope!”

I really love the idea of a fabulous summer day teaching my children all the old school games I used to enjoy when I was younger.

Let me know if you have a destination favourite from the ebook!
 

Stick Man Activity Trail

Monday, 30 May 2016


Dot doesn't watch television. That said, she likes Stick Man. Scratch that. She loves him!

She is always running around the house shouting, "Stick Man, Me!" 

Like most families with little ones, we recorded it over the Christmas holidays and saved it on our planner. 




I'd heard of Stick Man, as my niece loves Julia Donaldson books, but I've never bought it or read the book to Dot.


Anyway, after many, many viewings of Stick Man, (so much so that I now find myself repeating it during the day), we found out that a local woods has a Stick Man Activity Trail and decided to have a look.

We didn't know what to expect, but it seemed quite exciting as we arrived. I don't know about the boys or Dot, but I was really looking forward to it!



What I liked was that the boards were not too close or too far apart. It was perfect for little legs!




There was also plenty to see as we went round. In between the numbered trail boards were also pictures to spot, hidden amongst the trees.


At each board, there is a different activity.





Like the brass rubbing, some of the activities can be done with activity pack, which only cost £3, and it comes with everything you need.

Unfortunately, I only realised and bought one at the end! I guess we'll just have to visit again! 


We had a brilliant afternoon along the trail. Even Mikey, who is nearly 12, had a great time. He was not only helping Dot, but he was getting involved on his own too! At one point, he was stood in the woods doing star jumps without a care!

I really recommend it to any little fans of Stick Man, or, like me, any big fans!




There are 25 different locations for the Stick Man Activity Trail.   To find one near you, head over to http://www.forestry.gov.uk/stickman




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I think I'm getting old.....

Saturday, 21 May 2016

At 32, I wouldn't class myself as "old", but I'm starting to wonder!



It all started in the supermarket yesterday.

I was talking to a lovely girl at the till and we were chatting about the football stickers I'd bought for Mikey. She then started talking about what she used to collect at school, so I mentioned Pogs and Tazos. She suddenly had a blank look on her face. She had no idea what I was talking about!



I didn't know when it happened, but after I thought about it, I think I've been spotting the signs for a while.

Music
I love music and like to think I'm quite good at recognising bands and songs, and although I can't beat my mum, I'm pretty good at Beat the Intro too!
However, I don't understand it anymore! It all starts to sound the same and I've found myself switching from my local radio station to Radio 2 more, and not just for Pop Master!


Going Out 
The idea of going out at night makes me so tired! When I was younger, I used to love going out to the pub or club with friends. As I got older, I used to go out for meals instead, but now, as it gets to 7pm, I no longer want to be out eating out. I want to putting my pjs on!


Fashion
What are kids wearing?! I'm sure this is something that people used to say when I was growing up. Platform trainers, crop tops and  (The Spice Girls had a lot to answer for!)

I've been thinking the same thing when I've been picking Mikey up from school. It's not the girls though. The older boys all wear skinny black trousers that are turned up with white socks. Very strange!


Drink
When someone asks if I want a drink, I don't think alcohol, I think tea! I've always liked tea, but I think my husband's love of it has rubbed off on me. I must drink about 3-4 cups of tea a day, if not more! There's nothing better than a cup of tea after a busy day :)



I'm sure there are many more signs, and I'm sure that some of it is because I'm a mum. I'm only 32, but if getting old means pyjamas and a cup of tea, I'm okay with it!

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