31 October 2016

We are loving our Very Hungry Caterpillar Homewares

You may have spotted my last post mentioning that we are Very Hungry Caterpillar official bloggers and reviewing Very Hungry Caterpillar activities and games. We were lucky to be sent so many lovely things that I divided the review into two posts. So here is part two with the more homewares bits that we have been testing.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Changing Mat
RRP £10.99
Available from Kiddicare.com and Amazon

Okay, so it is a changing mat and that much is a given but actually it is better than the one we had before which was from a well-known baby shop. The VHC changing mat is thicker padded than our old one and a bit wider and longer too at 75 x 45 x 5 cm, much better for Little 3 now that he is a toddler. 

There was supposed to be a picture of him on the mat to show you the size but catching him to pin him down to change his nappy is hard enough and as soon as you take your hand off him he is off like a rocket, no one likes blurry pics so I opted for the one without the toddler blur! 

The mat is brightly coloured and easy to wipe clean, so far it has withstood a wriggly kicky toddler without any damage to it too. Thumbs up from us.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Junior Duvet
RRP: £24.99
Available from Argos, Amazon, John Lewis and Toys R Us

This duvet set is lovely, the duvet itself is the same on both sides with caterpillars and foods from the book and coloured spots. The pillowcase has the same pattern on one side and 'Very Hungry Caterpillar' wording and a caterpillar on the other. The colours are bright and Little 3 loves snuggling down under it for his afternoon nap.

The set is cotton, machine washable and can be tumble dried. It is sized for a toddler bed and fits Little 3's cot bed size duvet and pillow perfectly, just enough to tuck around the sides and keep him snug. I have washed and dried it a couple of times now and it still looks good.

(pj's are our own)

Caterpillar shaped party plate
RRP £23.50
Available from www.portmeirion.co.uk

The picture doesn't do this plate justice, it is really really gorgeous. It is a good size with 4 sections, each with a picture of a piece of fruit in the base and made with sturdy porcelain. We have used it a lot since it arrived at the request of the girls, they love the novelty. It is oven, freezer and dishwasher safe. A genuinely lovely item from the VHC range.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Developmental Caterpillar Toy
RRP £14.99
Available from Argos

This baby toy suitable from birth is bright and eye catching with lots of different textures, tags and beads for those tiny hands to explore. A squeaky strawberry, crunchy star and a textured tail provide plenty of exercise for the senses. With its hanging hook it can be attached to a cot, pram or car seat and will keep a young baby occupied with ease. It would make a fantastic new baby gift.

If you love the Very Hungry Caterpillar like us then head over to The World of Eric Carle on Facebook to see more.

N.B We were gifted the products mentioned above for the purpose of this review, however all opinions are our own.

#MaternityMondays 31st October

Welcome to #MaternityMondays 31st October

I enjoyed reading your linked posts last week but I have to admit Emma's gender reveal post made me smile the most. It must be a third baby thing as we had to have three 20 week scans to get all the necessary measurements for Little 3!! Third babies, oh they are little monkeys!

I did also really enjoy reading Becoming a Stay at Home Mum's post Little Miss is 2. I do love this age and it is so lovely to catch up on what Little Miss is doing now, I have been reading about her since before she was born on #MaternityMondays!

This week it is Emma's turn to host so she will be commenting on all your linked posts.

As always, please comment on both hosts' posts and as many of the others as you can.

Grab the badge and tweet us using the hashtag #MaternityMondays and we will share.

Have a lovely week.

28 October 2016

The Little Ones review The Very Hungry Caterpillar activity books and games

It is fair to say that we really love The Very Hungry Caterpillar in our house, we have the book which all the little Ones love and the girls know by heart. We have had several items of the clothing in the past with Little 3 currently wearing Very Hungry Caterpillar Pj's which are pretty darn cute and I even made Little 2's first birthday cake a Hungry Caterpillar one.

When the World of Eric Carle got in touch and asked us if we would like to be an official VHC blogger and receive a bundle of Very Hungry Caterpillar goodies from their collection to review, we said 'Yes, please'. They were very generous and sent us lots of things so we will be splitting our review into two posts, toys and homewares. The Little Ones have been putting them to the test over the past few weeks and it is fair to say that we have had some fun and like it all.

The World of Eric Carle Happy Tin
RRP £16.99
Available from Easons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and WH Smith Travel

A lovely sized (about a4) embossed tin containing 2 sheets of stickers, a smaller and a larger activity book, as well as a colouring book, a double sided poster and 4 felt tips. 

The tin is aged at 3+ but I think it is suited to a slightly older child say 4/5 as the activity books are fantastic and filled with all sorts, pictures, dot to dot, little maths questions and words to trace as well as quite intricate colouring pictures, there are also questions on each page so it is helpful if your child can read or understand the questions. Little 2 at age 4 and a half was able to do a lot of it with help and Little 1 declared the little book her own and it kept her occupied for quite a while too. And Little 3, he loved colouring in the poster!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Nature Walk Scrapbook
RRP £7.99
Available from all good bookshops nationwide

This book would make a great gift for a young nature lover, it is brightly coloured and full of ideas and activities for the whole year around, each page contains a little statement, and then gives you a task, can you draw the patterns in a spider web, collect some autumn leaves to stick in etc. Great for toddlers and older ones alike.
''In the Autumn the leaves turn orange, red and brown. Then they fall to the ground.''

The Nature Walk Scrapbook has given us lots of ideas and prompted quite a few discussions as well as an Autumn/caterpillar themed crafty afternoon with the Little Ones. Little 2 painted her own version of the Hungry Caterpillar and Little 1 did a leaf themed sticking.

The World of Eric Carle Activity Book and 2-in-1 Jigsaw Puzzle
RRP: £7.99
Available from Sainsbury’s, Tesco, TK Maxx, Toys R Us, WH Smith

A lovely little velcro fronted box, with a double sided puzzle, one side bright and colourful and the other ready to colour in (pens not included). Also included is another little activity book with plenty to keep the Little Ones entertained. Because it has the book included too, this puzzle set would make a great gift for a VHC lover.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar 4 in 1 Games Box
RRP £8.99
Available from Amazon

This set was a god send at a recent trip to Great Granny's house, it kept the Little Ones occupied for AGES. Included in the box is a couple of different bingo type games. Put the puzzle pieces together and there is a bingo game matching shapes and colours from a spinner.  

Then turn the puzzle pieces over and you have another bingo game on the other side matching animals and mini beasts using the little cards to chose the image to match. I love the little ladybird and caterpillar counters too.

Also included is a set of cards with brightly coloured images, they are really eye catching, Little 3 loved looking at them, turning them over and asking 'wass dat'. With the cards you can play 2 games, Snap and matching pairs.

If you love the Very Hungry Caterpillar like us then head over to The World of Eric Carle on Facebook to see more. Check back next week to see what we thought of our homewear products.

N.B We were gifted the items mentioned in this post in return for this review, all opinions are our own.

25 October 2016

Want to win a Paw Patrol Aquadoodle mat?

Over the years we have had 2 Aquadoodle mats in different designs, Little 1 had a Toy Story one and it was so well used we had to get a second one for Little 2 who has a Colour Deluxe one, these have been used so much over the years that we had planned to get Little 3 a new Aquadoodle mat for Christmas too.

Our very old Aquadoodle mat

I love Aquadoodle, a mat that reacts with water, easy to use- just fill up the pen and get creative, no mess, no fuss and as soon as it is dry you can use it over and over again.

I have teamed up with TOMY who are celebrating the release of Aquadoodle Paw Patrol and I am offering one lucky winner an Aquadoodle Paw Patrol mat of their very own.

Aquadoodle stands for mess free fun and it's exciting new Paw Patrol themed mat takes you on the case with Chase and all his friends. Soak the bottom of Chase's police truck in water, run him over the magic mat and watch the prints appear. Young ones can also use the easy grip Aquadoodle pen to discover the rest of the patrol hiding in this action-packed mat!

Once you've finished watch as the drawing dries and designs fade away, ready for the mat to be used over and over.

The Aquadoodle Paw Patrol mat is suitable from ages 2+ years and RRP £25.99

All TOMY toys are cleverly designed to develop children's core skills whilst they play. Manufactured to the highest standards, this collection of reliable toys continues to be a family favourite, building on the heritage and core values, which parents associate with TOMY.

For more info please visit www.tomy.com, become a fan at Facebook.com/tomy.toy.uk or follow @TomyToysUK.

N.B We were gifted an Aquadoodle mat in return for this post.

24 October 2016

#MaternityMondays 24th October

Welcome to #MaternityMondays 24th October

Last week we had a great turn out and Thank You to everyone for commenting.

Emma has chosen the favourites from the link up.

''The Smallest of Things who wrote 9 things you forget about life with a newborn. You definitely do forget. I think it might be self preservation a lot of the time but I can't wait to experience it all again. 

My other favourite was from Southern Mummy with her 19 week pregnancy update. I particularly like these updates because she is a week ahead of me so I know what to expect next week.''

This week it is my turn to host so I will be commenting on all your linked posts.

As always, please comment on both hosts' posts and as many of the others as you can.

Grab the badge and tweet us using the hashtag #MaternityMondays and we will share.

Have a lovely week.

21 October 2016

Little 1 reads...The Royal Rabbits of London

There is a brand new book out now and it is sure to become a favourite tale that you will want to hand down and read over and over.

We recently received a copy of a new book; The Royal Rabbits of London by Santa and Simon Sebag Montefiore and I have to say, I love it, let alone the Little Ones.

When I opened the little hardbacked A5 sized package that had landed on our doorstep I thought how beautiful it was. A Royal and Navy blue hand illustrated cover with gold coloured writing and rabbits dressed in finery and coats.

''-Shylo has always been the runt of the litter. Weak and shy, he is constantly teased by his sibling. But when Shylo stumbles across a band of rats who are plotting against the Queen, it's up to this unlikely hero to travel all the way to London and inform the Royal rabbits about the diabolical plan!

-The Royal Rabbits of London have a proud history of protecting the Royal Family and now the secret society need to leap into action to stop the rats...''

Written by Santa and Simon Sebag Montefiore who are both globally renowned authors. This book is their first collaboration and their first novel for children. The book is illustrated by leading illustrator Kate Hindley.

The pencil drawn illustrations really make this book, they are majestic and at the same time set the feel of the story while putting the character descriptions to life. I really like them.

We started off reading this book to Little 1 who wanted to know all about Shylo and the Ratzis as well as the Royal Rabbits, after a few bedtimes we had reached the part where it began to get interesting and after saying good night to her I snuck the book out of her room as I had to know what happened. I ended up reading it right through to the end, all 172 pages of it!!

Little 1 and I enjoyed reading this book together and both said we would like to read it again sometime. I think it is one of those stories that you could re read without tiring of it and with the lovely gold and blue cover will be one you want to pass down.

The second book in the series is due out in the autumn 2017 and I think we just might look out for it.

N.B We were gifted our copy of the book for the purpose of this review however all opinions are our own.

18 October 2016

What are we doing to create a #brightFuture for the Little Ones

The day we brought Little 1 into this world was the day my whole life changed, well that was pretty obvious, but suddenly I didn't just have myself to think about. Looking at my tiny bundle I realised I wanted to change the world, to make it a better place for her to live in and above all I wanted her to be healthy and happy.

Like me 83% of British parents felt that the birth of their first child made them feel that they wanted to change some aspect of their life for the better. No one person can change the world but 9 out of 10 parents and 8 out of 10 children agree that if everyone does small things to improve the environment, “together we can make the world a better place”.

I have been asked by Unilever and Britmums to take part in their #brightFuture challenge. I was sent some Unilever products to use and think about the little things that I do or could do to make a better future and contribute towards a more sustainable way of living.

Unilever has created the #brightFuture initiative, at the heart is the goal to unite communities and encourage small changes in everyday life that have a positive impact on the world.

They have a series of projects running to help them towards this goal. For example Domestos has partnered with UNICEF and committed to helping 25 million people gain improved access to a toilet by 2020 (imagine not having a loo or somewhere to to wash your hands). Clean sanitation can protect people from preventable diseases, reduce mortality rates, help reduce school dropout rates and improve quality of life.

Building on the aim to improve lives through small steps, the Dove Self-Esteem Project has worked closely with leading psychologists, academics and experts to create materials and resources that help young people develop a positive relationship with their appearance. The project has now reached over 19 million young lives.

Since the launch of the Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever has helped 482 million people to improve their health and hygiene.

So what are we doing to create a #brightFuture for the Little Ones?

Simple things like turning the taps off while brushing teeth and turning off lights (with energy efficient bulbs of course) when we leave a room.

We have the heating set at a slightly lower temperature to conserve energy and use the eco setting on our dishwasher to save water.

We use a shorter washing machine cycle and often a cooler wash too, with the help of Persil to get the Little Ones clothes clean.

The biggest thing we do is use
cloth nappies and wipes for Little 3. A quick calculation and I reckon we have saved around 2500 nappies from landfill so far!

We recycle most things, in our kerbside collection, food waste collection and compost bin, and even take our plastics to Granny and Grampy's house a town along as their council collects and recycles theirs as well as taking unwanted and outgrown clothes and toys to the charity shop.

We keep our
house clean to prevent illness and encourage the children to get outdoors and play, after all being outside is great for learning and development.

We walk (or sometimes ride) to school every day.

And all the time while we are doing all this we teach the little Ones why we are trying to save energy, money and recycle and are beginning to teach them about those who are less fortunate than ourselves, and do you know what they want to know all about it and help us to do it too. 

What are you doing to create a #brightFuture for your Little Ones?

N.B This post is an entry for BritMums #brightFuture Challenge, sponsored by Unilever. We received the Unilever products pictured above for our involvement in this challenge.

17 October 2016

#MaternityMondays 17th October

Welcome to #MaternityMondays 17th October

Before I reveal the favourite from last week, Emma and I would just like to say that linky's can only work if we support each other. We have noticed that some people have been link dumping and running. We all have busy lives and it is fine to come back and comment on posts later in the week but, in order for us all to benefit, you must comment on at least some other blog posts.

After all, backlinks on other people's blogs will benefit you too.

So after all that.... Our favourite post from last week was a pregnancy update from Southern Mummy with her 18 week update.

So now it is over to you. 

As always, please comment on both hosts' posts and as many of the others as you can.

Grab the badge and tweet us using the hashtag #MaternityMondays and we will share.

Have a lovely week.

13 October 2016

Yummy personalised CakeToppers cupcakes review

Hands up if you love cake, glad it is not just me then! I was recently contacted by Cake Toppers to see if I would be interesting in trying some of their personalised cupcakes for review. Now when the words 'free' and 'cake' are used in the same sentence, well who am I to refuse! With it being Little 1's birthday a few days later I said 'Yes, please' I thought personalised cupcakes would go down well at her tea party.

CakeToppers specialise in personalised cakes, cupcakes and edible printed icing decorations, whether it is just one photo cupcake for that very special someone or a whole host of them for an event. Got a birthday, anniversary or special occasion coming up, then they do personalised large cakes too.

As it was Little 1's birthday CakeToppers were generous and sent me six cupcakes in time for the party. All I had to do was email across the pictures I wanted on the cakes. I chose to have two with my blog logo on them and the others to have one of my favourite recent pictures of Little 1.

The cakes arrived in good time for the party and were very well packaged, in a plastic cake tray wrapped in plastic and safely enclosed in bubble wrap in the box, all cakes are delivered using a next day service and can be preordered. I was out when our cakes arrived and had to wait a day to collect them from the post office. The box was clearly marked 'this way up' but the man at the post office still handed them to me upside down between a couple of other parcels, I think they had been stored upside down as a couple of cakes were slightly stuck to the plastic wrapping which left a mark on the printed icing but they had held up exceptionally well considering and there was no damage to the actual cake or icing itself at all.

I was pleased to find a clear comprehensive list of ingredients in each part of the cake (sponge, icing and icing disc) within the parcel too which could be useful for those with allergies.

The cupcakes looked very inviting and my blog logo looked great, having decided that those ones with my logo on were mine for the tasting I sat down with a coffee and got set to dig in. One cake was vanilla sponge and white icing in a silver cake case and the other was chocolate flavour with chocolate icing in a gold cake case. I decided to go for the vanilla one.

To be perfectly honest I was expecting the cake to be a bit dry and tasteless like shop bought ones sometimes are but I was surprised that it wasn't like that at all, the cake was light, moist, fluffy and tasty too, just like a homemade one.

The Little Ones must have got a whiff of cake as they were salivating at the edge of the table in seconds and so I cut the chocolate one in half for them to share, just having a tiny taste, for review purposes of course. These cakes are yummy, a lovely tasting cake and a thick layer of icing, but not too much. The picture is printed using edible ink on a thin icing disc not that flimsy rice paper stuff. The children loved their chocolate one.

We kept the other cakes for a couple of days until the party and even though they were nearing their use by date they were still light and not stale at all, the icing was just as moist and yummy as two days earlier. Everyone thought they were a great touch for the birthday girl's party.

Prices for a single personalised cupcake start at £5.95 including next day delivery, now at that price it would have to be for a really very special someone but larger purchases are much more affordable and big occasion cakes start at a reasonable £32.50.

CakeToppers have kindly created a discount code for my readers to use on their website, so if you fancy a little bit of cake then use code LLL10 at the checkout to get 10% off your purchase.

N.B We were gifted a box of cupcakes for the purpose of this review, all opinions are our own honest thoughts.

10 October 2016

Little 1 turns Seven years old

Today was the day my eldest daughter turned 7 years old. A little bit older, a little bit taller and looking a whole lot more grown up all of a sudden. Have I really been a parent that long, I still clearly remember the day she was born and when Daddy and I brought her home from hospital, set the car seat down in the lounge and looked at each other, both thinking what do we do now! 

Fast forward seven years, and life really does seem to fast forward when you have children, she has grown up into a beautiful, clever, helpful little girl who we love to bits. 

For her birthday this year all she wanted was colouring bits, stickers, pads of paper, notepads and a pretty dress. She loves to draw and write spending great chunks of time sitting at the table drawing pictures and colouring them and writing, stories, registers, copying her favourite books. She has begun to learn joined up writing at school and will practice whenever she can although it needs a little fine tuning.

Daddy and I had decided to buy her a desk for her bedroom even before she told us all she wanted was stationary, to replace the toy unit that she has outgrown. We thought she needed a space where she could do the things that she loved, a place for her homework and somewhere to store all her paper and pens.  

We found a desk and chair and decorated it with fairy lights and left over stickers from her bedroom, Daddy finished work at lunchtime and came home to build it so it was there as a surprise when she returned home from school. She was over the moon.

Along with the desk, we had bought her all sorts of stationary bits, a reel of sellotape, pritt stick, stickers, new pens, pretty pads of paper and storage boxes to keep it all in. She has a thing about flamingoes at the moment and I had managed to find several bits with them on and she was thrilled with it all.

We also bought her some new clothes as she has got quite tall and outgrown a lot of things, there was a flamingo theme there too and a new pretty dress and party skirt with matching shoes too. 

For her birthday celebrations she choose to go bowling with some of the girls from her class the day before her birthday, there was an awful lot of giggling and plenty of smiles and quite a few strikes as well. I am sure they all had a good time, Little 1 certainly enjoyed it.

That afternoon we invited her grandparents, cousins, Auntie and Uncles around and had an afternoon of games and a party tea that she requested, there was plenty of time for the children to play and she opened the presents from her party too.

Today was her actual birthday, a school day, but she was pleased to be going on a school trip to a literary festival to meet a children's author and hear some stories. Little 1 loves reading and came home telling us what a great day she had had and that she had managed to get her books signed by the author. She was really happy when she came out from school.

Once she was home we surprised her with the desk in her room and she opened the rest of her presents that there hadn't been time for before Daddy had to leave for work in the morning. We had a quick tea and her grandparents popped around again for cake and more presents. 

At 7 years old Little 1's favourite things are:
  • Reading (anything)
  • Writing stories
  • Drawing pictures
  • Playing schools
  • Spending time with her friends
  • Playing at the park
  • Wearing dresses
  • Anything crafty

#MaternityMondays 10th October

Welcome to #MaternityMondays 10th October

I can't quite believe it but today is Little 1's seventh birthday, was she really born that long ago as I remember it clearly like it was last week. 

Emma commented on your posts last week and says... The Trainee Mum wrote a great piece about needing other friends with children the same age and I can completely relate to this.

I also loved the post from Meme and Harri who was thinking fondly about her pregnancy and the joy that is to come.

This week it is my turn to host so after all the birthday celebrations I will be commenting on all your linked posts.

As always, please comment on both hosts' posts and as many of the others as you can.

Grab the badge and tweet us using the hashtag #MaternityMondays and we will share.

Have a lovely week.

7 October 2016

A visit to the forest this Autumn

The weather is changing and the leaves are turning brown, there is a definite chill in the mornings and Autumn is well and truly on the way. We hopped in the car one Saturday afternoon after a phone call from Grampy saying they were heading in the direction of one of our favourite spots and would we like to join them. 

They were heading to the beautiful Forest of Dean about a 45 minute drive from us. I thought it would be lovely to head over there and take some Autumn pictures of the children, trees and leaves. I quickly put together a flask of hot chocolate, a pack of biscuits and rummaged in the cupboard for something to take for the Little Ones.

As luck would have it Aldi had kindly sent us a hamper of their award-winning Mamia 100% organic baby and toddler range for the Little Ones to test out, so I grabbed the juice, fruit pouches and rice cakes and off we went.

On arrival at our favourite forest picnic spot the Little Ones immediately ran to find Granny, Grampy and Great Granny who had snagged a picnic table next to the play park. Having been sat in the car for 45 minutes they were full of energy and giggled and chased each other, ran around the grass climbing and jumping off logs and jumping high in the air with piles of leaves.

At this point it had been a whole hour since we finished lunch and needless to say little tummies were rumbling and the Little Ones were apparently STARVING. I pulled out a bag of Mamia organic raspberry rice cakes. They were gone within a couple of minutes, no way was Little 3 was going to release the packet until it was empty. All three children declared them yummy!

Refueled and ready for action the Little Ones abandoned the football and descended upon the play area. Here they played... 

..rode (and hugged) a wild boar, 

...took the train to Devon...

...swung over a crocodile infested ravine,

..investigated the properties of wood chippings and how aerodynamic they were (Little 3 has reached the throwing stage!) 

...and generally enjoyed themselves.

The plan had been to go for a stroll, a walk among the trees and take some pictures but the Little Ones were happy playing in the park and so there we stayed keeping warm with hot chocolate until we realised that we had been there nearly 3 hours and it was time to be thinking about heading home for tea.

The Little Ones were getting hungry again and so we pulled out the rest of our snacks and they all tucked in. More rice cakes were consumed as well as a pouch of fruit each, perfect to grab and go (we keep a few in the change bag and under the pushchair for those hungry moments with Little 3) and the Children tried the organic Apple and Blackcurrant spring water which went down a treat. Sticky hands were wiped with Aldi Mamia Sensitive wet wipes and we set off for home, tired out and with happy tummies.

We have an Aldi down the road from us and I do some of my shopping there, we regularly buy the Aldi organic Mamia fruit pouches, fruit pots and rice cakes for all the Little Ones, but they do savoury pouches and flavoured spring water too. The range is a great price starting at just 59p and it all tastes great too. With Little ones needing to snack, I love the fact that you can just grab them and take them anywhere, we have fruit pouches in the change bag and pots of rice cakes under the pushchair, especially useful if Little 3 looks like he is going to fall asleep and the girls take them to school in their packed lunch to school too.

N.B This post is an entry for BritMums #MamiaDaysOut Linky Challenge, sponsored by Aldi Mamia. We received our hamper of Mamia products in return for our participation.