28 September 2016

Review: Bambella Designs

Babies are cute but they also tend to be messy little things. I often wonder how someone so small can make such a big mess but for reasons unknown they’re very capable. Sometimes I think they do it on purpose just to get extra attention as lets be honest, any moment of your time is better than no time at all in you child’s eyes. Fear not though! The lovely Bambella Designs is on hand to give you some help in the ‘less mess’ department as well as providing style and comfort for your little one.

Here’s a little bit about Bambella Designs: “Founder of Bambella Designs, Jasmine Vanstone, knows all too well the importance of a cuddle. Having spent five years as a social worker, caring for traumatized children in child protection, she continues to make a difference in the lives of the little. A staunch supporter of innovation and ready to push boundaries, Jasmine spent years researching and liaising with her global network of contacts to develop a range of contemporary, handmade pram liners, swag covers, change table mats and trolley lines that celebrate craftsmanship, form and functionality.  Bambella Designs is now recognized as Australia’s most fashionable accessory labels for prams and strollers.”

Bambella Designs offer a lovely range of liners, protectors and harness covers for high chairs, buggies, moses baskets, car seats etc and Harlow was lucky enough to be sent a few items to try out. We received a fabulous car seat protector and matching harness covers in the Arrows Grey Fawn design. I’d often thought about a car seat cover before, as Harlow always makes a mess when eating in the car, but just never got round to purchasing one. The car seat cover is great and so easy to use with our car seat. You basically pop the buckle part of the car seat through the allotted hole in the protector and you’re done. The protector also has 2 velcro strips on either side at the back just to make sure the protector doesn’t fall down on itself. The protector covers a little bit of the back of the car seat and most of the bottom where your child sits. This is great because I often find food slips down into the car seat where the buckle is and I just can’t get it out no matter how much I shake the seat around. With the protector is saves food and drinks getting anywhere near the car seat and saves for a big clean in the long run. It’s so much easier cleaning the protector than having to hall the cover off the car seat and clean that ready for the next car journey. I don’t know about you but I really have no time for that.

You’ll be pleased to know that the car seat protector doubles as a pee pad for when potty training, how awesome is that. It’s made with three layers of highly absorbent, machine washable fabric which can be used in car seats, prams or anywhere on the go really. Bus and train seats come to mind as well, you can thank me later. Of course the car seat cover is machine washable and it looks like it’ll be quick to dry. I haven’t had to wash Harlow’s one yet but when she has dropped stuff on it a quick baby wipe has done the trick.

As well as protecting against food, drinks and pee stains and spills the protector is also very comfy, well from the looks of Harlow’s face it seems to be, and provides extra comfort on our car journeys. This is where the harness covers come in handy too. They protect against sticky little hands but when Harlow falls asleep it means her face isn’t pressing against the bare harnesses. Having a little bit of cushioning definitely helps and we’ve got a long car journey coming up soon so these will be perfect. Harness covers of course don’t have to be exclusively used for a car seat. They can be used with buggy straps too.

Last but not least Harlow was sent a trolley liner to try out. I received this in the Arrows Grey Fawn design as well but there’s plenty of other designs to choose from on their website. To be honest I never knew trolley liners existed and instead had been using my own blanket to keep Harlow comfy and cosy when I do the food shopping. The trolley seat where kids sit never looks that inviting and it’s freezing going round the supermarkets so having a lovely trolley liner to hand is fantastic. It comes with it’s own drawstring bag so easy to store away and keep in the car if you wish. It plops into the trolley seat with no hassle and takes under a minute to feed the straps through to secure your child. Then all you have to do is wrap the other piece of fabric round the trolley hand and it sticks back onto itself with velcro, sorted. Harlow seemed to quite enjoy the trolley liner and it meant I didn’t have to worry about her comfort or the fact she likes to lick the dirty trolley handle!! Oh and I don’t have to touch the trolley handle either since it’s covered in lovely fabric, bonus. The trolley liner is made from 100% cotton and has a 350 gram density inlay. It’s machine washable so you don’t have to worry if it gets dirty from the trolley or your little one.

The only small thing with the trolley liner is that since Harlow can be a diva near the end of the food shop she started trying to pull the fabric from the trolley handle. It didn’t bother me too much as it’s easy enough to velcro back down however miss madam pants thought it was then a game. Hopefully she’ll grow out of that habit.

Overall I loved the design, style and quality of all products. They’re really handy and well worth having especially the car seat protector when you’re potty training. It’s a brilliant idea and will cause a lot less stress for you and your child. These would make great presents as they’re something a bit different and I’d definitely recommend to family and friends.

I was sent these items in return for an honest review.

10 September 2016

Review & Giveaway: Rory's Story Cubes Batman Edition

Stories are a massive hit in our house with both the kids loving their bedtime reading. One thing we've never really done though is actually tell stories and by this I mean make up a tall tale from our imaginations and see where it takes us. I loved being told made up stories from my great gran Tod when I was really little and recently Rory's Story Cubes brought all the memories flooding back.

Rory's Story Cubes have launched the new and exciting Batman and Moomin versions for fans to get their hands on. Logan was sent the Batman version to review and I was quite intrigued. I wasn't sure if it would be like story stones to follow on with a book or if it would be something different altogether like a game of sorts. It was in fact billed as a sort of game but one that's not really competitive and is just for great fun and family story telling.

In the story cubes pack the box contains 9 different dice (the cubes) each with 6 unique Batman symbols on each side. That's 54 symbols by the way. There's a how to play guide and when you flip it over there's an icon guide on the back which tells you what all the different symbols mean. As well as this there's a handy little travel case which I love and fits perfectly in the palm of your hand. Excellent for when travelling.

It's very simple and easy to play with the story cubes. You can either play on your own by shaking the dice in your hands, rolling all 9 then making up your very own story from the symbols you see or you can play with family and friends. It's exactly the same but this time you can take turns being the narrator or if it's a large group you can give people 3 story cubes each and each person has to tell a part of the Batman story. The only rule is that there is no wrong answers. Some of the symbols are things like a bag of money but this could represent a bank robbery, payment to a nasty criminal or maybe someone's had a lottery win! You can let your imagination run wild with these Rory's Story Cubes.

Logan really enjoyed playing with his set of story cubes and it was perfect for a nice bit of quiet play that encourages concentration, imagination and language development. It's aimed at the 6 years + to adult market so was perfect for us. We would take turns telling each other a brilliantly action packed Batman story from the 9 dice we rolled. The pair of us would often chip in to each others story and takes turns so it was really good fun. It meant I got to spend some quality time with Logan too instead of having Harlow hanging off my arms and legs squealing in our ears, the wee monkey.

The only thing that is a bit of a shame is that the guide sheet doesn't fit into the amazing travel case that comes with the story cubes which is kind of annoying as I'm worried about losing the sheet. It wouldn't be so bad if I knew all the symbol names but there are 54 like I said and my brain really isn't what it used to be after two kids ha ha.

Overall Rory's Story Cubes Batman edition is a fab story telling game with an equally fab retail price of only £11.99. It's perfect to get the creative juices flowing and you can be as serious or as silly as you like when telling your story. I'd definitely recommend to friends and family, it's the perfect extra gift to put in with the kids birthday and Christmas presents.

If you would like to be in with a chance of winning your very own Rory's Story Cubes Batman edition then simply enter via the rafflecopter widget below. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was sent a copy of Rory's Story Cubes Batman edition in return for an honest review.

9 September 2016

Harlow's 20 Month Update

A few months have passed since Harlow’s last update and she’s now 20 months old so I thought it’s about time for another. I weighed her for the first time in ages on the big scales I’ve got in the bathroom. She stood perfectly and didn’t actually want to come off but would you believe she only weighs a mere 24lbs! There’s absolutely nothing of her but she continues to eat like a horse and is still in size 12-18 months clothes. I think I’ll need to purchase some new bodysuits for her soon though because she is getting quite tall and the poppers look a bit strained.

She’s absolutely loving feeding herself all the time now and has a major diva strop if you try to help in anyway. She’s so proud when she’s sitting holding her cutlery and stabbing her fork (or knife) into the pieces of food I’ve normally pre-cut. Any time she’s eating she has to have her cutlery in her hands and I’m quite impressed with how accurate she is in feeding herself. Even now I struggle to get her big brother to use his cutlery so Harlow’s doing pretty well I think.

Nappy changing time has become a bit of a drama these days. The only time she’s normally quite happy to have her nappy changed is first thing in the morning but any other time, even when we’re out, has become a battle of wills. She’s so quick and nimble as well I’m having to pin her down if she’s done a poo just to make sure I can clean it up before it goes everywhere. She shows me how disgusted she is with this though by trying to grab the dirty nappy or her bottom! Wee madam chops that she is.

Harlow now goes to a childminder one day a week and although I was worried about her diva antics at first, because she likes to fight back when other kids try and take a toy she has, she’s actually settled in really well and isn’t even bothered that myself or her Daddy aren’t around. I’m hoping this experience will show her she’s not the only precious princess on this earth and that sharing and compromise are key to a happy life. We’ll see how she gets on with that later.

Last weekend you might have noticed that the other half and I managed to get away for a night without the kids, hurrah! The grandparents had the kids and Harlow thankfully slept through the night with no bother and was quite happy without us. We’ll definitely be doing that again then so watch out grandparents! As for her sleeping in general she mostly sleeps straight through now with the odd waking once in the night every other week. Sometimes I’ll here her having a cry but she normally settles herself back to sleep without me having to go and get her.

Recently her love of books and music has grown with insane interest in the Usborne That’s Not My books, the Head Shoulders Knees and Toes song as well as the Iggle Piggle song from In the Night Garden. Sometimes she even requests the Head Shoulders Knees and Toes song by patting her head and trying to sing head at the same time. Very cute.

Since Logan has went back to school and started receiving homework again Harlow has taken it upon herself to try and join in. It’s funny to watch her scramble quickly over to the big dining room table and grab for the pencils and Logan’s homework jotter. I’ve substituted her big brother’s jotter with some paper so that they can both sit together and Logan’s teacher doesn’t think he’s reverted to nursery school writing.

I’ve booked up another little family mini break which is just around the corner. We’re all looking forward to getting away as it feels like ages since our last break in July! I’d love to hear what your little ones have all been up to recently and any milestones they’ve achieved.

6 September 2016

Autism Rocks Fife within the Community


Parents of children with autism will know what a daily battle it is to keep some form of normality and push forward with life in general when their child is struggling. Thankfully autism has more awareness nowadays but this doesn't always mean understanding or compassion from others. As most of you will know my son, Logan, was diagnosed with autism when he was three and a half years old and not a day goes by when it feels like I have to fight his corner for acceptance. People who don't live with autism on a daily basis really don't have any idea the stresses and strains that strangers tuts and stares or rude aggressive behavior can inflict on someone with autism.

Around the time of Logan's diagnoses there really wasn't anything within our community to help support children, teens or adults with autism. It was a lonely world out there for people affected by the condition and all anyone really wants is acceptance and a place to feel safe. Luckily for my family and the people of Fife Liza Quin, who's daughter is autistic, stepped up to the mark and with the help of a few dedicated volunteers created the amazing Autism Rocks Fife.
Who wants to have their photo taken anyway!
Based in Mehtil, Autism Rocks provide a safe haven for parents, children, teens and adults who can enjoy time in the company of like minded people without feeling pressure or judgement. The premises they have has a large hall full of toys, games and sensory equipment as well as a dining/ kitchen area for presentations, coffee mornings and lunches. Autism Rocks provide valuable support within the community and organise fabulous family days, pool parties, fundraisers and a special night just for the teens/ adults of the group.

As you can imagine word of this fantastic group has been spread far and wide with many people travelling quite far to attend and just to feel a bit of normality. No one judges here, everyone is accepted for who they are and frankly it's a god send for us. I would quite literally fear taking Logan out and about for panic of what people might think or say but this group has given me the strength to stand up for my son and to be the person he needs me to be. Logan also feels completely himself at these groups and loves attending the pool parties. He's always asking when the next one is. Without donations, fundraisers and local supports this group would never have come to fruition. Without the dedication and determination of the Autism Rocks team there simply would be no group, so thank you from the bottom of my heart. You're making life so much easier for people on a daily basis. Keep up the fantastic work.

Logan and his Daddy loving life.
If you have a community group that you're thankful for and wish to help them out in anyway you can then why not enter them into the HomeServe community project. Two community groups will receive a revamp of up to £4,000. A team of HomeServe engineers will volunteer a day of their time & any necessary materials to support the project, allowing them to get on with what they do best – supporting the community. Good Luck!

In return for writing this post money was donated to an organisation of my choice.

4 September 2016

Our First Night Away - Braemar Gathering

Last weekend the other half and I had the opportunity of our very first night away from Harlow (Logan's a pro already) so we seized the opportunity with both hands. Even though Harlow's practically 20 months old, and probably should have stayed at the grandparents a lot sooner, I'm still breastfeeding her and was worried if I left her she wouldn't settle. Recently over the last 4 weeks or so she's been very good at going to bed with minimal fuss and sleeping straight through the night hence why having a night away sounded like a great idea!

The perfect opportunity presented itself when the lovely people from Rox jewellers invited us up to the Braemar Gathering to watch the highland games and partake in some tasty lunch and afternoon tea. This prompted me to get a hotel organised for the night before to make our journey up to the games a little less tiresome.

Lady luck was on our side and the whole trip was perfect. I had booked us into the Atholl Palace Hotel in Pitlochry which is fab with really friendly staff and tasty food. They've got an amazing spa and although I didn't manage to book in for any treatments (I will be back by the way) I did manage to use the sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and swimming pool to work off the 3 course dinner. I hear this hotel even have some great deals on when the Enchanted Forest comes to Pitlochry!

The drive up to Braemar was only an hour away and apart from some Subaru crazy off road drivers, narrow one track roads and sheep who thought they owned the place we made it there in record time without a hair out of place, hurrah! I had even received a text from Granny to say Harlow had slept all night which put me in a great mood for the rest of the day.

Braemar's highland games were really good to watch. There were so many events going on all at once it was hard not to miss something. Everything from highland dancing, tossing the caber, running, high jumps, tug o war etc. I enjoyed every minute and it was even better when the Queen herself arrived to watch. The other half and I were sitting in the private enclosure which is right next to the royal pavilion so you can imagine we got a pretty good view and the Queen was only feet away. It was a fantastic day and I can't wait for more trips away just the other half and I.

On the road up North.
Hotel food - haggis in filo pastry with whisky sauce. Yum!
Hotel toiletries - Arran Aromatics.
Champagne breakfast anyone?
Practicing his skills... of posing that is!
Look at them! Strutting around like they own the place.
The sun was out at the Braemar Gathering.
You can find some amazing time pieces in Rox. This is a Hublot.
We were definitely spoiled at lunch time.
The Queen arriving.
The awesome World Peace Tartan on display, can be found in Edinburgh.
Food heaven.

1 September 2016

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016


Last weekend the family and I were invited along to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to see a couple of shows. There's so many different types of shows to see at the festival but we decided that 360 Allstars and Shark in the Park would suit our troop.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world and takes place every August for three weeks in Edinburgh. In 2015 there were 50,459 performances of 3,314 shows in 313 venues, which is just crazy!

A little bit about the Fringe first of all: "The Fringe story dates back to 1947, when eight theatre groups turned up uninvited to perform at the (then newly formed) Edinburgh International Festival, an initiative created to celebrate and enrich European cultural life in the wake of the Second World War. Not being part of the official programme of the International Festival didn’t stop these performers – they just went ahead and staged their shows on the ‘Fringe of the Festival’ anyway – coining the phrase and our name ‘(Edinburgh) Festival Fringe’.  Year on year more and more performers followed their example and in 1958 the Festival Fringe Society was created in response to the success of this growing trend."
The first show for us was the 360 Allstars which was being held in the main hall of the Assembly Halls on Mound Place. It's a massive venue with lots of different rooms so as you can imagine it was a busy place to be. 360 Allstars was described as a dance/physical theatre/circus family show and it didn't disappoint. There was an incredible DJ and drummer, breakdancers, basketball freestyler, a BMX flatlander and a Roue Cyr artists. It was kind of like an urban circus and it was amazing. The show was a big crowd drawer and the queue to get in was massive. The seating was a free for all like most fringe shows and with kids this can be a bit tricky trying to keep everyone happy. The whole family enjoyed watching especially Logan. Harlow was too young for it though and she only watched bits of it here and there, I think the really loud music and sounds were putting her off. Luckily we had Logan's ear defenders with us or else it would have be too loud for him.

On Sunday we went to see our second show of choice which was Shark in the Park. This show was based on the Shark in the... books by Nick Sharratt. It was 3 books smashed into one stage performance and it worked really well. It wasn't too long either so kept the kids attention perfectly well, maybe five minutes or so from the end is when the little ones started to get restless. This show was held at the Assembly George Square Theatre and because it was 10am on a Sunday morning it was busy but not overly so. There were plenty of seats and the venue wasn't roasting which was a bonus. The show itself was about a little boy who loved sharks and wanted a telescope for his birthday. He received said telescope and wanted to go to the park with his Dad to hunt for sharks. There was lots of singing, dancing and catchy tunes throughout the performance and I'd definitely recommend this for younger kids.

We really enjoyed ourselves attending some Fringe shows this year and I'd love to know what everyone else went to see?

I was provided with tickets for the 360 Allstars and Shark in the Park in return for an honest review.

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