30 August 2018

Review & Giveaway: More Totally Amazing Carlton Kids Books

As far as book lovers go my son is definitely on the list. He's a major bookworm and loves the chance to soak up as much knowledge and stories as humanly possible. He never ever goes to bed without reading a handful of books first and it's a great way to settle down for the night. No gadgets or tablets in sight thankfully.

Recently Carlton Books sent Logan another two books to review. As you can imagine he was super thrilled and got stuck right in when they arrived. This time he received the lovely The Gloriumptious Worlds of Roald Dahl and The Totally Wild, Fact-Packed, Fold-Out Animal Atlas. Both books are really unique and interesting in their own special way. One is obviously very fact based whereas the other has a bit of fairy tale magic surrounding it.

With Logan's thirst for knowledge of the world increasing the Animal Atlas book is perfect to scratch that itch. It's a book of 32 pages crammed full of interesting facts of animals around the world. As the title of the book suggests there are pages within which can fold-out and shows you a map of where the animals live in what part of the world. It's a very fascinating read and even I found it educational for myself. I certainly didn't know that Mongolia has camels or that Saudi Arabia has desert hedgehogs. Even Turkey has the grey wolf which is amazing.

Logan really enjoyed learning about what animals stayed in which countries but for him it was all about the facts, and there's lots of them! He devoured every page with hungry eyes and especially loved reading about the vampire bats of Central America and the Fer-de-lance snake from Mexico. He also couldn't believe that the  smallest bird in the world is 6cm long and that their eggs are the size of peas! It really is a brilliant book to feed the mind and at £9.99 it won't break the bank.

The Gloriumptious Worlds of Roald Dahl is a spectacular scrapbook of stories, characters and creations. It's a miss mash of everything all lovingly collated into one amazing book. I love the fact this book is full of different illustrations, pullouts, page fold-outs and a secret little letter at the back for your child. It has lots of little snippets of all the good stories you expect from Roald Dahl such as James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda etc.

This book has 64 pages jam packed with the most amazing of details. Logan really enjoyed this book as it's busy with lots of small pockets of information on each page in all different formats. He found it really engaging which meant he wanted to keep reading. I had to drag it off him one night as it was way past his bedtime. At £12.99 it's a good buy and definitely one for the Roald Dahl fans out there.

The lovely people from Carlton Books have kindly agreed to give away two copies of each book so you might be in with a chance to win your very own. All you have to do is enter via the rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was sent these books in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

29 August 2018

Review: Orchard Toys New Mini Games

As you all probably know we like to do a bit of travelling as a family but keeping the kids occupied (and not fighting one another) on our travels can be tricky at times. Most of the time they're great but sometimes hassling your sibling is pure gold and an opportunity not to be missed. I'm always looking for things to distract the kids from attacking each other so when Orchard Toys got in touch to see if we'd like to review some of their mini games I really couldn't refuse could I!

Everyone knows Orchard Toys provide brilliant games for kids to keep them occupied for hours but did you know they also have a large selection of mini games which are perfect for on the go; in the car, on the plane, in the camper van, by the pool, in the restaurant, in a remote part of Scotland with no wifi! You get the idea and honestly they're so worth investing in. Take it from a frazzled parent who constantly blows the referee whistle.

So what games did Orchard Toys send to keep the kids amused? Well we got the fab Jungle Dominoes and Build a Beetle. Both games are great to play but we'll start with Jungle Dominoes which was Logan's favourite. The game is suitable for 2-4 players and ages 3-5 years but Logan is almost nine and really loves a game of dominoes. I think it reminds him of when I would take him into the hospital to see his Great Grandad and we'd all play dominoes together. Most people do know how to play dominoes but for the avoidance of doubt there's 28 in this pack which you shuffle then deal 7 to each player. The remaining dominoes are then placed face down in a pile close by. The youngest player places one of their dominoes face up in the middle of the table and players then take it in turns to match one of their dominoes to either end of the domino chain. If a player cannot make a match then they take a domino from the main pile. The game continues until someone has either used up all their dominoes or no cards can be played in which case the player with the fewest cards would be the winner.

It's a really straight forward game and very easy for young children to understand. The fact that each domino has jungle animals with bright colours also helps the finding and matching process. Harlow is three and I was surprised by how quickly she picked up the rules of this game and really enjoyed playing it. Don't get me wrong she wanted to make up her own rules at some points (when she was losing) but she generally stuck to the game plan. As well as matching skills this game really helps to promote observational skills and develops personal and social skills. At £5.00 it's a total winner in my book and being transportable makes it even better. We'll definitely be taking this on our next holiday very soon.

Next up is the Build a Beetle game. It's suitable for 2-4 players and ages 4-8 years. Included in the box is 4 nine-piece beetles, 1 spinner board and 1 two part spinner (which you clip into the board). It's another easy simple game to set up and play. You place the beetle pieces number side up in the middle of the table and you're good to go. Players take turns to spin the spinner and to start building your beetle you need a 6 to collect the body. Play then basically continues with each player having a shot of the spinner until all their body parts are collected and the beetle is built. The winner is the first person to complete their beetle. The beetle can be built in any number order apart from the antennae (no4) which can only be collect after the head (no5).

It's a really good fast paced game which helps to develop matching and memory skills, number and counting skills, encourages observational skills and helps to develop personal and social skills. Harlow really liked this game as it was fun to watch her beetle being built piece by piece and she adapted well when she didn't get the piece she wanted. Good for teaching a little bit of patience. Logan really got into the hang of this game so quickly and we played a good few games together, at least best of five.

Orchard Toys have 12 mini games altogether to choose from and at all £5.00 each they're an amazing way to keep the kids occupied on your travels. I personally love that these games are simple and super quick to set up. A lot of the times you can guess how to play and don't even have to look at the instructions. The kids and I really loved these mini games and I'd highly recommend to friends and family. They would make excellent little gifts too.

We were sent these games in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

23 August 2018

Breastfeeding in Public. What's the Problem?

There have been so many stories recently of breastfeeding women receiving negative comments for breastfeeding in public. I for one really can't see the problem with breastfeeding in public, it just doesn't make sense why someone would complain about it? It's a natural thing to do, you don't go mad at a cow in the field because it's letting it's calf suckle and you don't berate a new mummy dog when you go to see it's new puppies because it happens to be feeding them when you visit. So why do some people feel the need to make nasty comments or give the evil eye to breastfeeding women in public?

Lets be honest here, boobs are meant for feeding babies. That's probably the only reason why women have breasts. Unless there's some other scientific reason why we have boobs then please share. Anyway, I could understand if someone started changing a smelly nappy when you were eating that you might get a bit annoyed as well no one wants to see or smell poo when they're eating plus it's a bit unhygienic. However with breastfeeding you don't seem much at all. The boob used for feeding is covered by babies head and most women wear nursing tops which cover boobs and tummy so baby only has a small area to latch onto and nothing shows. Boobs are pretty clean too, unlike a dirty nappy, they're just like any other part of your skin and won't give anyone a disease so nothing to worry about there. And a big one for me, I'd rather a mother had the chance to happily breastfeed than hear a poor hungry baby screaming. I mean come on, it’s not like breastfeeding mothers are getting their vajayjays out in public!

One of the main issues I think these days is that breasts are too sexualised in our society and it’s a shame that some breastfeeding mothers fear the public's reaction to them whilst feeding out and about. It really isn't fair. Breastfeeding mothers only want to feed their babies, they're not getting their boobs out in public for any other reason. It's not like they've had one too many drinks and decided to flash you. I don't understand why people can't just look away if they aren't happy and just not stare. There's things I see every day which I don't like, and I'm sure you do too, but I don't feel the need to comment on every single thing I see.

What good are you really going to do by shouting, saying nasty comments or giving a dirty look to a breastfeeding mother anyway? She's already emotional and breastfeeding is hard enough as it is without your stupid opinion. You're going to make her feel horrible about herself, like she's doing something wrong when it's only natural. She'll lose confidence in herself and might not leave her house for fear of what someone else will say because breastfed babies feed frequently and need to eat. She might question her ability to parent and ask herself has she done the right thing by her baby. You might even tip her over the edge and send her into an emotional spiralling depression. Who knows, anything is possible. One thing I do know is that when it comes to breastfeeding mothers unless you're going to say what a fantastic job they're doing then shut your useless mouth and keep your crappy horrible opinion to yourself.

One of my favourite quotes that totally suit this matter from Disney's Bambi is: "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all"

12 August 2018

Behind the Scenes with Deep Sea World near Edinburgh

The other week I was invited along to a behind the scenes tour by the lovely people from Deep Sea World. A few other bloggers were there as well so it was a nice catch up in an amazing venue. I hadn't been to visit for years and was really excited to go back and see what it was like and if anything had changed. I remember going as a child with my family back in the day and even for my birthday one year with a few friends. The fact that I'd get to be there when it was after hours too was exciting as it meant no crowds. I honestly couldn't wait!

Upon arrival I was greeted by the host, the lovely Fraser, and handed a few information leaflets before being led onto the first exhibit. It was a stop off at the seahorse tank were we got to watch them being fed, which was magical by the way, whilst a member of the team told us in detail some interesting information and facts on seahorse life. I personally really enjoyed this as normally seahorses can be quite slow and docile animals but when they were being fed they swam around like crazy trying to catch the food. It was brilliant to see with my own eyes.

Everyone got to look around for a bit with members of the Deep Sea World team on hand to answer any questions we had. These guys seriously know their stuff and are full of knowledge so if you ever visit be sure to ask as many questions as your heart desires. It really is a fun learning experience.Whilst we were looking around it was lovely to learn more about the snapping turtle, cave fish, piranhas and even their new octopus.

Before long it was time to venture into the shark tunnel. This has to be one of my favourite places to visit ever! It's just so peaceful jumping onto the moving walkway and being slowly taken around as if you're under the water watching all of the fish and sharks swimming above your head. I've taken the kids a few times now since this visit and we spend a lot of time in this shark tunnel going round and round. Highly recommend you pay it a visit soon.

After this we got to see the resident seals being fed. Laura is my fav and my complete spirit animal. She's a bit of a lazy bones and will only move when there's food around haha. She speaks to my soul. As well as Laura there are her two brothers sharing the pool. They're more into swimming than she is so it was great to watch them propelling through the water with ease. You get to see the seals up really close so this would be an excellent even to take the kids to. Deep Sea World have a schedule of daily talks and feeds which they provide in an information leaflet when you arrive so be sure to grab one and take note. Don't miss out on the good stuff.

We then got to have a bite to eat and some refreshments before going behind the scenes into the quarantine room. This was really interesting as it showed where they keep the baby fish newly hatched and also any animals that need time to adjust to their new surroundings before being let loose into the big tanks. You also got to see above the shark tunnel which was awesome and trust me when I say the sharks look a lot bigger from above than when you see them in the tunnel!! Did you know you can also go diving with the sharks at Deep Sea World? They have specific packages that suit a variety of ages and experiences from as young as 8 years old. Needless to say my son is desperate to dive with the sharks! Maybe I'll get it as a birthday treat.

During the summer school holidays Deep Sea World also have a separate exhibition on each year and this year was Bare Bones. It's a chance to see your favourite animals like never before and as you might have guessed from the name it's all about skeletons. This exhibit was fascinating, I personally like seeing the skeleton of the snake and Thornback ray, totally amazing.

Like I said I've been back a few times since this visit with the kids and Logan and I recently visited the Prehistoric Event which is located in the shark classroom. It's a chance to dig for your very own fossil and oh my days Logan loved it. We spent ages chatting to Neil, who is a fountain of knowledge btw, and Logan found his very own 55 million year old shark tooth! To say he was excited was an understatement. He's currently obsessed with Megalodon and the tooth he found comes from Megalodon's ancestor. He really eas so chuffed. I personally loved all of Neil's stories and could have stayed for hours but other people had to have a turn so we went back to the shark tunnel.

I really can't recommend Deep Sea World enough as a fab family place to visit. There's always something new and exciting to see with animal talks and feeds as well as handling sessions and exciting events throughout the year. We'll definitely be back for our next visit soon.

Lovely Blogger ladies left to right; beingmrslynch, cailynsmummy, me!, amummoreordinary, jemma.goodlad, edinburghwithkids & forever_a_mum

I was invited along to Deep Sea World to enjoy a behind the scenes tour. I wasn't asked for anything in return but I wanted to write a post as I really love the place. All opinions are my own.

1 August 2018

Review: Mud and Bloom Gardening & Nature Craft Subscription Box

Keeping the kids busy and out of trouble can be a bit of a nightmare at times and it only gets worse during the school holidays. I've been looking for lots of different ways to engage their little brains and make the day go a bit quicker so boredom doesn't set in. It's when I was searching around that the lovely Mud and Bloom got in touch to see if Harlow would like to review their subscription boxes. They sounded perfect so I happily agreed. It would be another lovely way to have some one on one time.

So what is a Mud and Bloom subscription box? Well as the same might suggestion it's a little box delivered to your door every month full of gardening and nature crafts for your child to get stuck into. I've seen lots of different types of subscription boxes over the years but never a gardening crafts one so I was really intrigued. What I really love about it first of all is that it is letterbox friendly. This makes my heart sing as it's always going to arrive on time so no disappointed faces or having to rush to the post office to collect.

Mud and Bloom is a small business run by Anja and here she explains how it all happened: "I came up with the idea for Mud & Bloom subscription boxes after I subscribed to a couple of children’s monthly craft boxes. I loved the concept: it was great having everything packaged up and ready to create something with my boys, and they loved receiving them each month! I looked around to see if I could find a similar activity based on gardening or nature and was really surprised there was nothing out there. So I ditched my garden business idea and worked on developing a Mud & Bloom Box instead. It’s been a slow process as my children are very young and have been at home full time with me for a lot of the time, I’ve really enjoyed it though and I’m really pleased with the results! I hope the boxes help you and your children to learn, explore and enjoy nature together!"

Anyone who knows Harlow will know that she is obsessed with the outdoors, crafts and any sort of beasties and bugs she can get her hands on. When she spotted the Mud and Bloom box come through the door she was very curious and couldn't wait to see what was inside. Upon opening she of course had to investigate and immediately do at least 3 of the activities provided inside. We received the July box to review but each monthly box contains everything you need for two seasonal activities: one gardening and one nature craft - along with instructions, quizzes and games aimed at teaching children about the seasons, plants, insects, birds, soil and rainfall.

Our July box included; an introduction sheet with what you'd find inside and what you could make with nature news on the back. Radish seeds and instructions on how to grow, lettuce seeds and instructions on how to grow plus organic compost pellets in case you needed them. I totally did! Washi tape, glue and some buttons and beads to create a summer flower vase. Instructions were also included for this activity. A spotters activity sheet with a quiz on the back. My son loves a quiz so I did that with him. Last but not least a make your own nature paint brushes sheet with instructions.

As you can see there's so much included in the boxes and it's all written down for you so you can't go wrong. I'm not green fingered at all but out little radishes and lettuce are growing amazingly well. I just need to get the lettuces planted outside now! These boxes are for 3-8 year old's and will be delivered through your letter box at the beginning of each month. Activities have been created by qualified teachers and they support the national curriculum with influence from Forest School, Steiner and Montessori education.

Harlow loved her July box and is so proud of her growing vegetables and gorgeous summer flower vase. I've kept all the sheets for future reference as it's something you can do again and again. At just £7.95 for 1 months subscription I'd highly recommend you give it a try. I bet the kids will love it.

We were sent this product in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


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