about me

All About Me

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I love reading blogs and especially like to read about the personalities behind a blog. Kate from Family Fever recently revealed a few things about herself in an 'All about me' post. Started by a blogger inspired by a booklet sent home from school with her daughter asking all about her. Although it may not seem like it I am quite a private person and tend to keep a lot to myself so when Kate tagged me to join in I thought why not let people get to know me a bit better...

First things first- your name and what do you do?
My name is Carly, I work part-time in a supermarket (not very exciting, I know. The rest of my time is spent looking after the little ones and of course blogging.

I live at home with...
My partner Andy and our two children Gracie (2) and Zachary (1).

My Favourite thing to do is...
This is a hard one. I love to spend time with my little family. Especially days out where we get to get away from everything and just have fun! When I'm not in mum mode (which is very rare) I love to read books, blog and I've even taken up knitting! (if knitting squares counts).

My Favourite thing to eat is...
Depends what mood I'm in but I'm a big pizza lover! I also have a huge soft spot for homemade banoffee pie. mmm...

When I get cross I...
CRY! I very rarely let myself get that angry but there have been many a times where I've wanted to shout and scream and then instead I find myself crying. I've never been one to be able to stick up for myself!

Sometimes I worry because...
I know I can't protect my kids from everything that will hurt them. This is probably something that worries most parents but I feel like I'm just not good enough for them, like they deserve so much more than I can offer. (Of course seeing the smiles on their faces when they see me and the daily hugs and cuddles I get reassure me daily)

My Favourite Book is...
Oh there are so many! Twilight is an old favourite as is The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games introduced me to Dystopian fiction and I absolutely love the Divergent series by Veronica Roth and the Delirium trilogy by Lauren Oliver. 

My Favourite Toy is...
My Sodastream. Mainly because it was something my mum never let me have as a kid so I rebelled as an adult and bought one! I'm so Rock N Roll ;)

I dislike...
spiders, cold weather, People asking when we are going to get married! (we can't escape any party or occasion without someone asking when Andy will pop the question)and last but not least, scary films! As a kid I watched many horror films but now I am so jumpy and am guaranteed horrible nightmares from anything remotely scary.

When I grow up I want to be...
I am so indecisive about the future. I have qualifications in Travel & Tourism and although I don't see myself working in the industry, I would love a job that would involve travel. Whether it be abroard or across the UK, I would love a job that lets me see different things every day. Blogging is also important to me and has made me realise I like to write. It's just knowing what to write about. I'd love to go into journalism but hey, lets just see what happens. I'm not one for making plans!

The idea of this was to tag other bloggers but as I am so late to the party everyone seems to have already joined in!


A little update

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I haven't really had much to say lately, its been all work and no play until last week where we spent a whole week doing just family things. Me and Andy had a well deserved week off work together. This gave me the much needed time to re-motivate myself. I spent the week doing all the things I had put off doing for so long! I managed to change my address on (most of) the places it needed doing. I had a huge clearout of junk from some unopened boxes. We finally got round to sorting someone to come and fit a TV arial as we've been watching just DVDs for five weeks now which is driving me crazy! I've got the majority of my shopping done for both Christmas and Gracie's birthday.


We didn't only do boring things. We had a trip to Toys R Us just to play with all the toys! I used to love doing that as a kid and the kids thought it was great fun. I found ideas of what people could buy them and they had a whale of a time. Gracie learnt to ride a bike which was great as thats her main christmas present. I couldn't believe she managed to do it straight away. She had a ride in a cute Volkswagen Beetle convertable and chose a dolls pram for her birthday to replace the small walk along one she got for her 1st birthday. In fact she decided she wanted almost everything in the shop (she may be very disappointed when Santa comes!). I found a few cute toys for Zach too and was very excited to find both Gracie's dolls pram and two toys for him later that night much cheaper on Amazon! 

We've also started decorating Gracie's new bedroom which I have been so excited about doing since we moved in so it just had to be our first project. In fact I have a big surprise to reveal very soon about the house, I can't wait to tell you all!!

baby books

Review: Parragon Book Buddies: Sleepy Puppy

Monday, October 28, 2013

Our latest book buddies pack from Parragon books actually arrived on Zach's birthday so was brilliant timing as it is the perfect age for him. He received 'Sleepy Puppy, a little goodnight book'. He actually already had the bedtime bunny book which was bought for him and loves that so I knew he would love sleepy puppy too! The book comes in a little box with a cuddly sleepy puppy snuggle blanket even the packaging makes it look lovely, it would make a perfect gift for a baby.

I love that with it being a board book, Zach can play with it himself and loves to open it up, look through the book and point out the pictures like he's telling you the story. He is still at the stage of trying to destroy paper books so isn't allowed to play with them. The book is the perfect size it has just enough pages to keep it interesting to a baby and keeps Zach entertained for ages.

We are loving the little learners range at Parragon, Zach is building quite a collection of fantastic books and I would recommend them to any parent looking for their child's first books.

To find more information and the full range of Parragon books you can visit their website here.

We were sent the product featured free of charge for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

abbey home media

Review & Competition: The Little Reindeer

Saturday, October 26, 2013

We have another great review and competition thanks to Abbey Home Media. This one is for a great Christmas themed DVD to get you in the Christmas spirit. Although it is only October we have already been watching a few of our favourite Christmas movies (mine being The Muppets Christmas Carol!) I love Christmas and you can never have too many Christmas films to watch as a family!

''The Little Reindeer is a heartwarming Christmas story about a young boy and his special friendship with one of Santa's reindeers. On Christmas Eve the little reindeer is exploring Santa's workshop when he accidentally falls into the gift wrapping machine, and finds himself being delivered as a present! The little boy who receives him is overjoyed and sets about building him a home but soon discovers that his reindeer is no ordinary reindeer; he can fly! After many magical adventures together, Christmas comes around again and it's time for Santa to retrieve his lost gift!''

This is a lovely short film at just 26 minutes long but it really does have that warmth about it that all good christmas films need. There is nothing better than watching the little ones sat in amazement watching a nice christmas film and being filled with excitement.

The lovely people at Abbey Home Media have been nice enough to give me three copies of this DVD to giveaway to three of you lucky readers. So three of you will receive one copy each to enjoy this christmas with your little ones. To enter all you need to do is enter via the rafflecopter below.

Good Luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Terms & Conditions
 Open to UK only. The competition will end 15/11/2013 at 12am. The blog owner will choose the winner through the rafflecopter form (which uses random.org) The winner will be notified by email and displayed on the widget. The winner will then have 10 days to claim their prize. If the winner hasn't claimed their prize after 10 days another winner will be drawn. No alternative prize will be offered.

we were sent the DVD featured free of charge for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.


Review & Competition: Mr Bloom's Nursery Giant Turnip

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I think most parents of preschool children will know who Mr Bloom is. He is the guy that makes veggies cool! 'Mr Bloom's Nursery Giant Turnip and other episodes' dropped through our letterbox and I knew it would be a hit with Gracie straight away. This summer we were lucky enough to see Mr Bloom live in Leicester and the kids loved it. Since then Gracie has been happily trying anything grown in the garden at either our house or Nanny's. Mr Bloom's has a helping hand each episode from the Tiddlers (children) and his veggie friends, the veggies all have names and can talk making them loveable to children watching. I think it is a fantastic way of showing children how vegetables and plants are made and that they don't come straight from a shop. It also encourages them to have a go themselves, Gracie has become a keen gardener over the last few months and enjoys watching her plants grow.

'' In the garden, Mr Bloom and the tiddlers work together as a team to get a seed sowing job done! Inside the Nursery, there's a huge turnip that needs to be pulled up. The Wee MacGregors try to push it out, Raymond tries to uproot it dressed as a sumo wrestler and Joan tries by asking nicely. It seems Mr Bloom, the Tiddlers & the Veggies all need to join forces to get the job done!''

The DVD contains four different episodes of the hit cbeebies TV series and lasts 90 minutes which is perfect in my opinion for a preschooler. The DVD is definitely worth buying for your Tiddlers and can be bought from all good DVD retailers. 

The lovely team at Abbey Home Media have given me three copies of Mr Bloom's Nursery Giant Turnip to giveaway to some lucky readers so enter via the rafflecopter form below and three of you could win one copy each for your little Tiddlers. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions
Open to UK only. The competition will end 14/11/2013 at 12am. The blog owner will choose the winner through the rafflecopter form (which uses random.org) The winner will be notified by email and displayed on the widget. The winner will then have 10 days to claim their prize. If the winner hasn't claimed their prize after 10 days another winner will be drawn. No alternative prize will be offered.

We were sent a copy of the DVD free of charge for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.


Review: Your Design Personalised Trick or Treat Bag

Thursday, October 24, 2013

We were recently asked to review a personalised trick or treat bag from YOURDESIGN.co.uk. As Gracie is at the age where she really loves dressing up and is really excited to go trick o treating I thought that the bag would be a great idea for her. 

The bag has a picture of a pumpkin (there is also a bat and a ghost available) and the words trick or treat underneath and you can add your child's name above for example ours said Gracie's trick or treat bag. The writing on the bag also glows in the dark making it easy to see when your child goes trick or treating, which is great as it seems to get dark so early this time of year. 

The bag is a great size. Gracie is only two but worn on the shoulder it is perfect for her and i'm sure I will end up being the one to carry it home if it gets heavy so I'm glad it's big enough for me to also carry comfortably. As you can see in the picture it looks great with her dressing up outfit and won't look out of place whatever your child wears. (Gracie's witch dress can be bought from Sainsbury's).

The bag costs £6 which sounds expensive for a canvas bag but it is something that can be reused every year whether it for trick or treating or a Halloween party so you could get a lot of use out of it. I you are like me I tend to buy a cheap plastic Halloween themed bag each year that ends up being thrown away so having this will save spending a pound or two each year on a cheap bag and is much more exciting for Gracie.

You can find more information or purchase the bag from the YOUR DESIGN website here: http://www.yourdesign.co.uk/
You can follow you design on Facebook or Twitter to find out about their latest products.

We were sent the personalised trick or treat bag free of charge for the purpose of this review. All views are my own.

children reading

Review: Spaghetti with the Yeti

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

We love reading in our house as you may have noticed already! The latest book we have been reading is 'Spaghetti with the Yeti' written by Adam and Charlotte Guillain. The book is very cleverly written with lots of fun rhyming words which I've found tend to be the one thing that interests Gracie the most when it comes to her bedtime story. 

The book is about a young boy named George who armed with just a wooly hat, a map and a tin of spaghetti in his backpack, goes off on a search to discover the Yeti. He meets lots of great characters on his way confusing them all for the Yeti but of course they are not and they all send him on his way with treats for the Yeti. He eventually bumps into the Yeti just in time to share his spaghetti. We all have loved reading this book and it is one of just two that are now permanently sat beside Gracie's bed (it even went on holiday with us!). It is a fun adventure that is easily read and has lots of easy words for a child to remember helping them to join in. The illustrations by award-winning Lee Wildish are fab. Gracie loves the pictures of all the 'monsters'! 

I would definitely recommend this book to parents of toddlers as it is perfect for Gracie and can't see her getting bored of it anytime soon! We are looking forward to their next release 'Marshmallows for Martians' out sometime in 2014.

Spaghetti with the Yeti is available to buy now On Amazon.

We were sent the item featured free of charge for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions are my own.


Personal Planner Review & Competition

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Way back in June when I was lucky enough to attend Britmums Live, I was sat in my first ever blogging conference and have to say I felt a bit overwhelmed as it was all so new to me. Sometimes through some of the talks and speeches I felt a bit lost and sat with a lovely notebook that had been there waiting for me when I arrived at the table. Each blogger that attended received one, it was a lovely notebook and I found myself doodling in it while I felt like I should have been taking notes! It didn't go to waste though, I did at a few points make notes in it and have been using it regularly since to write down all my important blogging related notes. I use it to tell me what deadlines I have set myself for reviews. I also use it to write about products I've received before I start writing the reviews.

Since Britmums, I received an email from the team at Personal Planner who gave me a code for a free Personal Planner and asked me to run a competition for them too. They didn't ask me to even write a review but I thought I would let you all know what I think of the product anyway.

I found the website very easy to navigate. The hardest part was choosing which size planner! In the end I chose large as I thought it would be the perfect size for my change bag and perfect shape for my favourite family photo to be used on the front. The planner is also available in small, medium and A5. I went for a pink colour scheme inside to brighten it up and was very happy with the amount of choice colour and theme wise. You get complete control of how you want it setting out, whether you want lines or big open boxes. I went for half and half. There are a number of blank pages at the back and you can choose from a long list of choices of what you use them for. Me being a big kid decided on colouring pages! yes I have colouring-in pages in my diary! So if I'm ever stuck somewhere boring pretending to take notes I can just sit and colour and look busy. Genius!


I am very pleased with my personal planner and although i've set it to start in January I have already been adding next years important dates inside and can already promise you now that next year I will be purchasing a personal planner for 2015! You can see more about the Personal Planner's at www.personal-planner.co.uk

The lovely team at Personal Planner have been kind enough to offer one of my lucky readers a gift voucher for a free (any size) personal planner/notebook to use on their website all you have to do for your chance to win is enter via the rafflecopter form below. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions
Open to UK only. The competition will end 17/11/2013 at 12am. The blog owner will choose the winner through the rafflecopter form (which uses random.org) The winner will be notified by email and displayed on the widget. The winner will then have 10 days to claim their prize. If the winner hasn't claimed their prize after 10 days another winner will be drawn. No alternative prize will be offered.

I received the item in this review as a gift for attending Britmums Live. All opinions are my own.

Gracie's first big girl haircut

Thursday, October 17, 2013

About a year ago, I attempted to cut Gracie's hair myself. It almost turned into a bob by the time I'd finished it and I vowed never to try again!

Yesterday when my mobile hairdresser came to give my hair a cut, Gracie decided she wanted hers done too. I was dreading it to be honest. She is at a stage where she doesn't even like me brushing her hair so for her to let someone who is a stranger to her loose with a pair of scissors on her hair was a frightening thought. I was half expecting her to flinch mid cut and end up with another short hair do.

In reality she was perfect! She stood up on a chair with a gown around her and was such a big girl staying ever so still like she was told and was all excited to see her new pretty hair. She only had a trim and a fringe cut and I kept a lock of her hair to go in her memory box. She looks so grown up now!

Zach's hair is getting a bit long too but I didn't dare try with him with his inability to sit still for longer than 10 seconds! Although it could have made for a hilarious blog post I'll save that one for another time.


Review: Treat Republic Personalised Gifts

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A few weeks ago I was asked to review some personalised gifts from Treat Republic. Formerly known as TreatHim.com, TreatHer.com and TreatBaby.com the three collections have now merged together to create one huge online gift shop. Whilst looking around the site I found it impossible narrowing down to just a few things I'd like but in the end I went for a personalised iPad case and a personalised fairy engraved door hanger. I'd been after a nice iPad cover for a while and had already been planning a fairy wonderland theme for Gracie's bedroom in our new house so both were the perfect choices.

The iPad cover comes in four different designs or you could opt for a photo of your choice on the case. I chose thousand hearts. I chose this as I thought it looked really pretty and girly in the pictures so would look fab on my iPad. Well I was right it looks great and feels a lot stronger than I had expected. As it looked so great I thought it was bound to be flimsy and loose and not really good for protecting an iPad. It actually isn't I was pleasantly surprised at how strong it is and after around five weeks use I still have no problems with it feeling loose or even starting to look tatty. I also love the personalisation which reads 'Original Design by Carly Markham' in a nice font. I am very impressed at the quality of the materials used and will be recommending to all my friends! It would also make a great gift for a friend/ partner and is a reasonable price at £29.99.

I couldn't be happier with the personalised fairy engraved door hanger. As we have just moved into our own house I have been excitedly planning how to decorate the kids' rooms and had already planned a fairy woodland theme for Gracie's bedroom and wanted a really natural feel to it. The hanger is made from pine wood and is threaded with rustic woven cord, perfect for our woodland theme. Once again, the item is fantastic quality and I couldn't wait to get it hung up on the door. Gracie loves it too and has been happily showing off her 'Gracie's room' picture to everyone visiting the house. I will be showing you some better pictures once her bedroom is all decorated so you can see how well it fits the theme. I would say the choice of style is limited on the website though which is a shame. I would love a sign with a train on for Zach's bedroom and I'm sure there are lots of other designs that would be very popular for children's rooms.

Treat Republic have a huge range of gifts suitable for everyone and all at very reasonable prices. It'll definitely be the first place I look for personalised gifts from now on. You can see the full range of gifts available at http://www.treatrepublic.co.uk/. You can also visit them on Facebook and Twitter.

We were sent the products free of charge for the purpose of this review but all views and opinions are my own.


A Barny Bear Adventure #littleadventures

Monday, October 14, 2013

This summer we have really enjoyed having lots of outdoor fun. Now that Gracie is more mobile this year she has loved getting to grips with everything there is to see and do outside. A few weeks ago we were sent an adventure kit full of samples of the delicious Barny Bear cakes along with a bug book and bug barn to go on an adventure. The first thing I did when I saw the bug barn was laugh! Gracie gets very nervous around creepy crawlies but then I thought this may be just the thing we need to show her that they are not scary.


We have already tried Barny Bear cakes and they are a regular treat in our house so Gracie was very excited to find the boxes of cakes in her hamper and when I said they were to be saved for a picnic adventure she was even more excited. She found the bears a home in our special picnic basket ready for our little adventure.  

Now that we have a woods at the bottom of the street at our new house we are able to go on lots of adventures. Last week we went for a stroll through the woods, not forgetting to take Barny Bear of course. It was the first time Gracie had been in a proper woods and it hasnt got much of a footpath so we had a chance to do some proper exploring. I let Gracie lead the way and I had Zach in our Boba 3G baby carrier so I didn't have to worry about getting a pushchair around. We looked at all the different trees and bushes, hunted for berries, followed a bunch of squirrels that were out collecting nuts and we took lots of pictures.

Unfortunately, I couldn't use the bug barn whilsy babywearing and it has rained every day since! Gracie is really excited to try it out too. I have told her as soon as the rain stops or calms down and Daddy is at home then we will go out and see what we can find to put in the bug barn and I will definitely post about how we get on as I can see it being very eventful!

This post is an entry for BritMums ‘Little Adventures Challenge’ in partnership with Barny, the bear-shaped snack providing a little discovery in every bite. Find out more about Barny here.

Coombe Abbey country park

An almost forgotten memory

Sunday, October 13, 2013

I was going through my phone earlier today looking at photographs taken during this summer. I realised that we had spent a lot more time outdoors than I thought we had. One thing we enjoyed more than anything this summer was exploring. Last year our idea of outdoor fun was going to the park and playing in the play area or feeding the ducks before going back home. As Gracie is a bit older this year we have tried to make going out more like an adventure for her and have been trying to show her all the things that I enjoyed doing as a child.

We are lucky enough to have a fair few local parks with much more than a simple play area but large open spaces, wildlife reserves and lots of history. One of our favourites is Coombe Abbey country park. This is probably the closest to us and it is one I have visited regularly for as long as I remember. It is a pretty big park and takes a good hour or two to walk all the way around it. We usually take shortcuts to get to the bits we want to get to but the last time we went we decided to walk all the way around the long way. I had forgotten how beautiful the views were walking along the lake and had great fun pointing out all the ducks and swans with Gracie. We walked through the trees, walked along fallen logs and even taught her how to climb a tree which is something I grew up doing! We came across a wood cabin known as the Bird Hide which is used to watch birds all year round and to view Warwickshire's largest Heronry. This is where we spent most of our time. Gracie was amazed watching out of the window holes and showing me what she could find. It was lovely watching her enjoy it so much and we got some great photos. I didn't realise how good some of them looked until I got home and looked through them.


We spent a good three hours just walking along enjoying the views, spending time as a family and it has to be one of my favourite memories of the summer and I had almost forgotten about it so felt like I just had to share it.

What is your favourite memory from this year so far?


Our Haven Holiday

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The second week of September you may have noticed I was pretty quiet, well we were away on our family holiday. We'd been rushing around so much packing for our move and packing for our holiday that I didn't even have time to tell you all we were going!

We have been going to Haven every year for the past four or so years and love the friendly atmosphere and entertainment. We didn't think we would go at all this year looking at our finances so I looked into the Daily Mail equivalent to the sun £9.50 holidays (I'm awful and cant remember the name of the Daily Mail holiday scheme) after collecting the codes I looked to see what they had to offer and was delighted to see so many Haven sites. This year we decided to go to Burnham-on-Sea Haven camp and couldn't wait to go.

We had a nice drive out with both kids sleeping the whole car journey so it couldn't have started any better! We got there around lunchtime and were lucky enough to find our caravan was ready early so could go and unload the car straight away. The caravan was lovely! In fact probably the nicest I have ever stayed in. It was nice and clean, the beds were all made and there was more than enough room for the four of us. Gracie picked the bedroom closest to mummy and daddies to sleep in and put her two favourite soft toys in one of the beds to claim it. One of the first things we did was went back out to find a local shop for some supplies and found an Asda just down the road which was very handy. we grabbed some bits for the kids and for that nights dinner and spent the first night visiting the arcades before having an early night.

Our Caravan (pictured above and below)

Throughout the week we tried to make the most of what the park had to offer. We played in the park which was great with things for children of all ages. We spotted some chickens near the tennis courts so regularly went to pay them a visit and say hello. We took Zach swimming for the first time which was amazing, we bought him some armbands which he wasnt impressed with me putting on, cue the funniest photo I have of the kids together yet! Then once we were in the water he forgot about them and was swimming from me to Andy and vice versa we couldn't believe it! The water was pretty cold though so we only went swimming the once. We had a lovely lunch at the on site Mash & Barrel restaurant. We spent lots of time (and money) in the arcades every day as Gracie had bought lots of pennies with her to spend. Most evenings we went to the entertainment for Gracie to have a dance and even Zach joined in on the action. To be honest the entertainment was one of the few things that disappointed me this holiday. The few nights we attended everything seemed thrown together like they had nothing planned which was a shame luckily the ones with music meant Gracie could dance and play with other children and she didn't notice how awful they were! She did really enjoy the characters and got to meet Bradley Bear and Anxious Elephant who she adored.

Excited for swimming ;)

Zach Dancing

Cuddles with Bradley Bear

Posing with Bradley Bear

We weren't very lucky with the weather while we were there and as there wasn't much nearby outside of the park we travelled a bit further for a few days out while we were there. We travelled to nearby Clarks shopping village one day for a spot of discount shopping. It was great there with a big choice of shops but my god did it rain we spent a few hours there before going back to camp tired and soaked. We did pick up a few grear bargains though! We also visited Weston Super Mare on one of the days too which was a fantastic day. A few of our closest friends travelled up to visit us for the day and all of us spent the day there. When we turned up the rain was pouring so we went in the Grand Pier then when we were about to leave to find something else to do the sun was shining gloriously and we actually managed to spend some time on the beach building sandcastles!

Weston Super Mare: On the Pier (above)
Building sandcastles with Uncle Eoin (below)

On our last day, we packed everything up and loaded up the car before handing back our keys. We were sad it was over already. Zach was fast asleep so Daddy and Zach sat in the car while me and Gracie went for a nice last walk around looking at the lakes and all the people fishing. Gracie was taking lots of pictures of the lakes and whilst walking back she captured this lovely picture of a caravan.

Picture of the lake taken by Gracie (above)

Picture of a caravan by Gracie (above)

Burnham-on-Sea is a lovely site and I bet all the outdoor activities are excellent in the summer. The staff were friendly, the accommodation was fantastic. It is just a shame the local area didn't have much, the sea front was bare which may be what some people like but we like to have places to visit and things to do in walking distance. The entertainment wasn't great but it was out of season so I guess a lot of productions are not available hopefully that is something they will be looking to improve. I would still say my favourite ever Haven camp is the Perren Sands site.

Overall we had a brilliant holiday and are already deciding where to go next time! Do we try somewhere new? Do we return to a previous favourite?

Where is your favourite UK holiday location?

child safety

When Gracie Disappeared...

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Not anywhere near as bad as it sounds but yesterday I did that awful thing that I'm sure many parents have done at one time or another, I lost sight of Gracie and didn't know where she was. She was lost. I had been walking along pushing the pushchair whilst talking to my friend. I'd seen her just moments earlier bobbing along beside me as usual then next minute she was gone. I looked around me and couldn't see her, I looked again and no it wasn't my imagination she definitely wasn't there?

But I had just seen her. How could she disappear so quick? Where is she? All these thoughts were a jumble running around my mind while I was in a panic. It felt like forever yet must have only been a few short minutes. There was a man stood behind me with a pushchair and I couldn't see past him and a lady in a wheelchair slightly behind him also still. Without thinking my instinct told me she'd be over there. I walked around the man and there she was stood in a flood of tears. Wondering where I was and why I left her. As soon as I saw her I felt a flood of relief but also so upset that it happened and how upset she had got over it. She came toddling over to me and buried her head in my shoulder and let out a big cry. She must have been terrified. She clung to my hand for the rest of the time we were in town and didn't walk out of sight again.

There had been a little boy similar to her age with the lady and just being distracted watching this boy had got her lost. I dread to think how bad it could have been if she'd wondered off in another direction to follow him or if I hadn't looked around to check on her. I am so proud of her for staying still and not running off to look for me. It has certainly taught me to be more aware of what she is doing while we are out. I take it for granted that she is so well behaved when out and will walk nicely.

Have you ever had a similar experience?

cadbury world

Our Family Trip To Cadbury World

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

A few weeks ago, we were lucky enough to go to Cadbury World on a family day out thanks to a lovely friend who sent me some clubcard days out tokens as a random act of kindness. It was a lovely surprise to get them through the post and so we looked to see what was local to visit that Gracie would really enjoy. That was when we found Cadbury World. It is local, me and Andy went years ago before kids and knew there had been more added since we went and well Gracie just loves chocolate!

As it was still the summer holidays we booked in advance over the phone to ensure we could get in with it being such a popular attraction and having a limit for daily visitors. We were running a little late with the two little ones in tow so went straight to book in and start our tour. Once you start the tour you can walk around at your own pace which I prefer to guided tours as with kids sometimes it's nice to take a slow walk around and explain to them what is going on. Gracie didn't quite know what was going on walking around the factory but it is broken up a lot with things to see and do inbetween. There is a small cinema near the beginning telling the story of Bourneville and how Cadbury became the household name it is today. There is an interactive part where you can watch some of the most popular Cadbury adverts. Gracie's favourite was the Gorilla playing the drums, she had a little dance to it a few times!

We got to taste some of the latest cadbury creations on our way around and we watched someone hand decorating some chocolate as well as seeing the great creations to celebrate the Royal Baby born this year. There was also a fun ride that the four of us got to go on which the kids both loved, we were sat in a cart that took us through a little world of cocoa beans dressed in lots of traditional outfits from around the world. After that we had a family picture taken with a choice of different themes Gracie chose an Easter theme that looked like we were bursting out of a Cadbury easter egg. I loved the picture so much I bought some keyrings of it. 

After we had finished the tour we went through the factory store which is dangerous! (for your purse anyway) I spent so much money on sweets and chocolates as the prices were so good. We had a lovely dinner in the cafe. It was quite expensive for meals though so me and Andy had childrens meals which were more than big enough for an adult while the kids ate their packed lunches. We then made our way round to the 'Essence' which tells the story of the creation of Dairy Milk and lets visitors create their own marvellous creation. Me and Andy had wine gums in our tub of melted chocolate and Gracie opted for Jelly Babies although she refused to eat it as she doesn't like melted chocolate (Gracie turning down chocolate in any shape or form is a first!). 

We were lucky enough to spot a tent where they were having a sooty show to celebrate Sooty's birthday! I remember watching Sooty when I was a child so it brought back lots of memories for me and all the kids had great fun watching them attempt to make a birthday cake. Our last stop of the day was in the massive outdoor play area. It is one of the best outdoor play areas we have ever seen with lots to do for kids of all ages. Gracie spent ages running around tiring herself out with all the other kids.

All in all it was a fantastic day out. I would definitely recommend Cadbury World as a day out for families although I would say book online or over the phone to avoid disappointment as if you don't book you can get turned away on busy days. We had some great fun as a family which is very important to us at the minute with work taking a lot of our time and I have my amazing friend Scarlett to thank for enabling us to do this.

capture the colour

Kid's capture the colour: Gracie's photos

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

We have had an exciting few weeks showing Gracie the wonders of seeing the world through pictures thanks to the Travelsupermarket.com kids capture the colour competition. As we were one of the first 100 blogs to apply we received a camera especially for Gracie to take part in the competition. She has had lots of fun taking pictures and seeing them on screen afterwards. I think it has also shown us how things look through a childs eyes seeing photos from a two year olds point of view. Being two, Gracie didn't understand much about capturing the colours but we made sure we pointed out the colours of the things she took photos of. I have to say I have downloaded a total of 315 photos onto my laptop from her camera and the majority are just of everyday life, her baby brother, the tv, the floor, various other family members but we have a fair few photos from our holiday and our trips to the park and woods which I think are fantastic for a two year old! She has had no help at all taking the photos and I couldn't be prouder of her and how keen she is to take photos everywhere we go now. Anyway here are her entries for the competition:

Some of you may recognise this character if you've been on a Haven family holiday. It is Bradley Bear. Gracie loved Bradley Bear on our recent break to Haven Burnham-on-Sea and excitedly ran up and took lots of photos of him. (I did have to explain she shouldn't take pictures of him with the other children not that she understood so I had lots of random children's photos to delete afterwards). we chose this for blue as he always wears blue clothes! I was quite shocked it wasn't more blurred as she hadn't quite got the hang of the camera until then.

I love this one, not because it is the perfect photo but because it was taken on a recent trip into the woods where Gracie was amazed looking at all the tall trees and to me they didnt seem so big, it is only a small woods but we spent ages exploring and photo taking and she loved taking pictures of the sky through the trees. This photo makes me realise how big and magical the woods seem to such a little person.
This is a bit blurry but it is Gracie's favourite picture. Here she has lined up her small army of cuddly minions (You can't get more yellow than a minion!) on her bed and inflicted upon them her new found hobby. She told the minions they have to stay still for a picture or they don't get any sweeties after they have 'ate it all their dinner' Apparantly the naughty minions didn't stay still (couldn't have been Gracie's shaky hands) so Gracie had to eat all her sweets herself ;)

This picture amazes me. I find it hard to believe that Gracie even took it. I might just be biased with her being my little girl but I really think this is a great picture. She just happened to take it when we had been for a walk to the lakes and were coming back just emerging out of some bushes and I think she just captured the scene perfectly. It is definitely my favourite one out of them all and the caravan happening to be white meant it had to be the choice for the white category. 

This picture was taken at the sealife centre in Birmingham where she was amazed looking at all the amazing sea creatures. She took lots of pictures that day, one of the things we liked the most were these funny looking sea plants (not sure of the name) they looked like they were dancing and Gracie was dancing around copying them. The picture quality isn't great as we couldn't use flash in there but the plant was a beautiful reddy colour.
We have loved taking part in this fantastic competition and will continue to encourage Gracie to take pictures as it is a great skill to learn. I think she has done an amazing job with her photos at just two years old and whether she wins anything or not doesn't matter to us because seeing her enjoy something so much has been good enough for me :)
You can read more about the competition and terms and conditions here.
*This is our entry to the Kid's capture the colour competition. All the photos were taken by Gracie herself.


Poppy Cat

Review: Poppy Cat At Sea Life Centre

Friday, October 04, 2013

On Friday, we went to the Sealife Centre in Birmingham it was Zach's first birthday so we decided to make a day of it. Gracie was very excited to see the fishes and was even more excited to see Poppy Cat who has been at the Birmingham Sealife Centre for the past few weeka. Although we haven't seen Poppy Cat on tv the kids have a few Poppy Cat books that get read at bedtime.

As soon as we got there we got our tickets and went straight in to see all they had to offer. Gracie was armed with her new camera hoping to get lots of under the sea pictures. We made our way round looking in all the tanks at all the different amazing creatures. I love how many of the tanks are the perfect height for children to see so even zach got to stand and watch in amazement at some of the fishes swimming around. 

While we were walking around we came across a tv showing an episode of Poppy Cat making Gracie all excited so she stood in front of it for a picture when the real Poppy Cat sneaked up behind us! Gracie ran straight up for a cuddle and a chat with Poppy Cat before she went over to say hi to Zach, who was less than impressed she made him jump and he looked terrified of the giant Poppy Cat.

The Sealife centre also contains a 4D cinema where we got to watch a great undersea adventure with Spongebob Squarepants. The movie was really fun and had Gracie and Zach in fits of giggles especially when a splash scene actually had water sprayed at us all.

We all loved walking in the tunnel which has sharks, a giant turtle and all sorts of different fishes and sea creatures. It's amazing watching them swim over and around you, getting to see them so close up. Gracie thought one of the funniest moments of the day was going through the mirror maze and losing Daddy and Zach inside. We made it out and could just see their reflections when they were trying to find their way back to us.

Poppy Cat had a story time every few hours at the Sea life centre whilst there and we were gutted to miss it as we didn't know where it was held. There were signs listing the times but not where to go for it and the time we could have made was when I couldn't find it so I think that could have been labelled properly, I'm not sure if other events have the same problem.

Overall, it was a great day although you can only spend around 1.5 - 2 hours there before you've seen it all. As it is so close to the centre of Birmingham though we followed it by visiting the kids favourite shops in the Bull Ring shopping centre and having a nice lunch out. I would definitely recommend to families with kids of all ages as not only is it fun but it is educational for both children and adults.

For more information on the Poppy Cat series, please visit www.poppycat.com or you can become a fan on Facebook www.facebook.com/officialpoppycat or Twitter www.twitter.com/PoppyCat_
To book a visit or find more information about sealife Birmingham please go to www.sealife.co.uk/birmingham

We were given free entry to the Sealife Centre for the day for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions are my own.

children reading

Review: Good Night Mo Story App

Friday, October 04, 2013

A few days ago I received an email asking us to review a brand new childrens' story app. The app is called 'Good Night Mo' and is an interactive bedtime story book. The story is about a cute little monster getting ready for bed full of ryhmes and soothing music. Good Night Mo is aimed at children aged 15 months to 3+years old. It is available in English, French, German and Spanish and has ben narrated in each language by professional actors. 

I found the app very easy and fast to download and was ready immediately to use. Gracie was very excited as she isn't allowed on the iPad often (mainly as I've been meaning to find some child friendly apps for her). When we opened it up we found that the book has 3D pop up pages and little things for her to do on each page. We chose the read to me mode so the book was narrated, although you can switch to read it myself for your child to try themselves. Gracie had lots of fun putting the animals to sleep, replacing the sun with the moon and her favourite was brushing the monsters teeth!
I did show Zach the app but at 12 months he didn't seem bothered to concentrate on the story, although I don't think he's far off. I think by the recommended age he will be ready to enjoy it. Gracie is almost three and I think the app is perfect for her. She didn't get bored at all and in fact read it over and over again until I told her it was time for bed. I think it will also be great for parents trying to establish a bedtime routine for their children as it shows you the monster having his bath and brushing his teeth ready for bed which will hopefully encourage them. The images on the app are great and the calming music really helps create a soothing atmosphere ready for bedtime.

We always have a book before bed and it has been a nice change having an interactive one. We like to read different books each night so I'll definitely be looking for more like this for our bedtime reading along with our traditional paper books.

You can get more information or download the app from the apple store here for just £1.99 Good Night Mo story app. If you are on android then don't worry an android version will be out soon.

We received this app free of charge for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions are my own.

baby's first birthday

Happy First Birthday Zach!

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

On Friday my beautiful baby boy turned one! Me and Andy spent the previous night emptying boxes and clearing the downstairs rooms (the joys of moving house just days before your childs birthday) I wrapped up all of his presents, blew up balloons and put up banners. By the time we went to bed at 2.30 am the house was prepared for his birthday celebrations.

Of course being one he barely noticed what was going on but loved being cntre of attention from the moment he woke up. His over excited big sister 'helped' him to open his presents and they played nicely while I got everything ready for a day out to the Sealife Centre.

My lovely friend Jess made him a beautiful dairy/egg/gluten free chocolate birthday cake! This was very exciting as Zach had never had cake before and he loved it! She also made some tasty lemon flavour cupcakes to go with the cake for those who were too scared to try the dairy/egg/gluten free alternative! The cakes went down really well with the few visitors we had on Saturday. Unfortunately with the move so close we didnt have time to organise a proper party for him but he had great fun having lots of visitors over the weekend bringing gifts.

Now his birthday is over and he is officially not a baby anymore but a walking, almost talking one year old. It makes me sad that he is growing so quick but I am so proud of him.