27 September 2019

Perfect Gifts for Autistic Kids with Wicked Uncle

With so many more boys and girls (and adults) being diagnosed with autism these days, my son and husband included, I thought I'd put together a little blog post with some perfect gifts for autistic kids. I've been working with Wicked Uncle recently and they honestly have an amazing selection of toys and gifts on their website for children of all ages and abilities. I've selected a few of my favourites which I think would be perfect for children on the spectrum.

I've tried to select gifts that are maybe a bit different but still great and something you wouldn't perhaps have first thought of. So read on to see what you think and do check out the Wicked Uncle website for more brilliant gift ideas.

Kinetic Sand
I know some children struggle with the sensation of sand on their feet and hands but this kinetic sand gives all the feelings and fun without the mess. We have this exact Sandcastle Set and it's great to get you started. It's perfect because it sticks to itself and not to you, flows through your fingers leaving them completely dry, cleans up easily and is wheat, gluten and casein free. This particular set comes with 3 moulds, a scoop and a tray to keep everything in. Kinetic Sand is a great tool for stimulation children's imaginations and just giving such a lovely sensory experience as well, plus it never dries out. We've had our set for a few years now and it's still going strong. I highly recommend this as something different for kids on the spectrum.

Infinity Loop Flow Rings
My son absolutely loves knowing how things work or how things move so he'd definitely be interested in these cool Infinity Loop Flow Rings. I've never come across them before so was really intrigued by what they are and how they work. Luckily Wicked Uncle provide a short video clip on their website beside each toy to show you how it works. I think this is a fantastic idea and helps you make an informed decision to see if the product is suitable for you child. The Infinity Loop Flow Rings are an interactive, mesmerising, kinetic spring that's addictive fun and the latest craze. You basically slip it over your hands and let it flow easily across your arms, creating a captivating bubble of movement. I can just imagine now how much my son would love one of these as he likes to repeat nice soft sensations.

Wicked Uncle describe these rings as "incredibly tactile, will cascade around just about any object and you can even pass it from your arm to a friend. The interlocking flow rings fold flat and pop open, a 3D kinetic spring that can do tricks. Great fun, like a springy slinky for your arm!". It sounds amazing and I'll definitely be getting one for my boy.

Pocket Vortex Howler
Co-ordination isn't always a strong point for kids who have autism however my son has been attending inclusive sports classes to help improve his skills, and he's really enjoying it. One thing they use at his classes is an object very similar to this Pocket Vortex Howler. It's a little bigger so easier to catch but I thought I'd get this as it's smaller for the house and could help put in some extra practice for my son. He's gradually getting better at catching and co-ordinating his moments and his confidence is growing with it. I think this would be great to help him only get better and something a little different for kids on the spectrum to use for play time. Sometimes there's nothing better than throwing a suitable toy back and forward with Mum or Dad.

Ultra Dash
Another fun toy to help with co-ordination is Ultra Dash. It's a game that can be played on it's own or with multiple people. It's very easy to get the gist of as well so straight forward to explain to others. It's an energetic game where you race to match the colour of the flashes on your baton/tagger with the colour of the target. When you place the tagger on the first target, the colour immediately changes to identify the next target. And so on and so forth, so you race around to match the colour before the time runs out.

It's a great form of exercise as well as my son can be quite lazy when he wants to be which isn't good for him. You can design your own course too with the five different coloured targets and choose which game you want to play. Play solo in Beat the Clock, head-to-head in Target Tally or in teams with your friends in Relay Race. With light and sound effects and a timer on the tagger it's enormous fun.

Wicked Uncle have a massive range of sensory toys on their website as well as lots of advice, cool jokes and their very own blog for you to read. These are just a small handful of toys which I think are great for kids on the spectrum but do check out the Wicked Uncle website for lots more ideas and gift options. They can even gift wrap for you taking away that bit of stress.

I received a gift voucher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

23 September 2019

Disney On Ice Presents 100 Years of Magic

We had such a lovely weekend last week and one of the highlights has to be getting to see the fabulous Disney On Ice show - 100 Years of Magic. We've seen quite a lot of Disney On Ice shows but they honestly never get old. And now that Harlow has grown up a bit it means she can enjoy them all the more and get into the singing and dancing along with her Mum haha.

This time the show is being held at Glasgow's Braehead Arena which is so easy to get to and has ample free car parking. There's also lots of shops and restaurants so you can browse and grab a bite before the show begins. We saw someone doing face painting for the kids too and there was a busker singing Let It Go - amazing!

We arrived around and hour early to collect our tickets and grab some fast food for the kids. A little treat before the main event. We didn't have to queue to get into the arena, it was a quick check of bags etc by security and we went straight in to find our seats. Also really easy to do as clearly marked seating and lots of stewards to show you where to go. There's lots of stalls and Disney merchandise available to purchase at each show if you want to treat the kids (or yourself). Vendors also walk around the seats selling popcorn, candy floss etc so no need to miss out.

This is the first time we've sat really close to the ice and the kids loved it. It was fab seeing the characters so close, Harlow was especially delighted as she got to have a good look at all the princesses. The show itself kicked off with a bang, lots of amazing Disney music and good old Minnie and Mickey along with their group of friends. Disney On Ice is great because you get little snippets of some brilliant Disney stories. It brings back so many memories of my own childhood.

Finding Dory was the first story of the day followed by Beauty & The Beast then lots of princesses and princes skated onto the ice. This was Harlow's favourite part as she got to see all the princesses at the one time. She loved pointing all of them out to me. Logan quite liked the Beast and how he transformed back into a man. I personally loved the tiny cheeky turtles who swam around Dory and played chase.

Next up was everyone's favourite sisters, Anna and Elsa. The kids cheered with joy when they heard the familiar Frozen music and we all started to sing along. Frozen takes up quite a big part of the show but the kids love it, as do I. After this we had appearances from Aladdin and the genie as well as a special appearance from the Toy Story team and Forky! It's the first time we've seen Forky skating around the ice but he was great.

The show was fast coming to an end sadly but not before we spotted Mulan and the crew from the Lion King. Again both amazing Disney stories, it's reminded me to check my collection for what I can introduce the kids to. We've watched a few Disney movies but not them all. Time to get started on that.

Well all had a fantastic time at the show and it's running until this Sunday 29th September so plenty of time to grab those tickets and pop along. Check out the Disney On Ice website for more details and ticket information. At weekends there are usually around 2-3 shows running per day so a time to suit all the family.

We received tickets to the show in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

17 September 2019

Review: Belmio-Cafe Coffee Pods

It's become increasingly popular to have your own coffee machine at home these days, which means coffee lovers can experience great tasting coffee without leaving the warmth and comfort of their house. Gone are the days when you would have to buy tasty coffee from an artisan cafe. Now you can indulge at a fraction of the cost. The lovely Belmio-Cafe have sent us a selection of their Nespresso compatible coffee pods to try out and I can't wait to tell you what we thought.

Belmio-Cafe's goal is to deliver the highest quality coffees and most ultimate coffee experiences with maximum convenience to the consumers. Their aluminium capsules offer the best protection of the coffee against air, light and humidity, and the Nespresso compatible pod has the same coffee flow as a Nespresso capsule. The first thing that drew me to the brand was indeed the fact that their pods are compatible with existing Nespresso machines. This meant I didn't have to buy another machine to try their coffee, although they do have their own machines available for purchase.

We were sent 5 different coffees to try and they come in a handy cardboard sleeve with 10 pods inside each, so 50 altogether. Each sleeve gives you some information on the coffee inside which is very handy. It tells you the intensity level (from 1 to 12) the roasting flavour (light/medium/dark) and also how it is suitable to drink i.e. lungo, espresso, ristretto etc. For someone who isn't as experienced with coffee as my other half I found this information very handy when serving visiting guests.

Each sleeve of coffee is easy to open as it's very similar to Nespresso, you just pop it at the top and out come the pods. The pods are also similarly shaped with a patented design and fit into my Nespresso machine with no issues. The coffee poured normally and tasted great. My other half was delighted with the coffee and was impressed that it was so much cheaper than Nespresso. He said he would be very happy to purchase these pods in future.

Belmi-Cafe have a handy section on their website to show you which Nespresso machines their coffee pods are compatible with. I have the Citiz which is compatible but so it; Inissia, Magimix, Essenza, Cube, Lattissima, Maestria, Pixie and Kitchen Aid. Do check the website though before ordering to make sure your machine is definitely compatible.

There are lots of different flavours of coffee to try from Belmio-Cafe, we were sent the Belmio Intense Collection which retails at £16.50 for 50 pods. I think this is such a reasonable price and definitely worth trying if you drink a lot of coffee. They also have an organic range to try, as well as specials such as flavoured coffee with chocolate and vanilla hints.

I think these pods are great and will definitely be purchasing some in future. My parents and family members also have Nespresso machines so these would make great gifts to give for special occasions. With such reasonable prices and great tastes I'll be recommending to my coffee lover friends.

I was sent a selection of coffee pods in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

5 September 2019

Book Review: The Way Home for Wolf by Rachel Bright

Normally all the books in this house get sent to the boy however it's little Harlow who has been lucky enough to receive her very own brand new book through the post this time. She's been sent the very lovely 'The Way Home for Wolf' by Rachel Bright and it's honestly such a heart warming story for little minds.

So lets dive right in and find out what the story's all about. It's a tale of friendship, set in the snowy Arctic, of a stubborn wolf cub, Wilf, who doesn't want help from anyone. Whatever it is he can do it himself, he doesn't need his family or friends. Ha, this reminds me of someone in our family who is very independent!! The trouble is when Wilf finds himself lost and alone in the chilly Arctic night he discovers something very important. Sometimes we all need the helping hand of a friend to get us by.

I totally loved reading this story to Harlow at bed time and she loved it just as equally or maybe even a tiny but more. It's such a feel good picture book crammed with stunning illustrations which capture the imagination. I also love that it has such an important message that friendships do matter and we just sometimes need to let friends do their thing and help us out. Gives you a warm fuzzy feeling inside doesn't it.

Another great thing about this book is that it rhymes! Oh how I love reading a rhyming story to my kids at bed time. Stories like this never get old and they're always loads more fun to read. I feel it also helps kids remember the story all that bit more.

Harlow got right into the story and became so concerned when Wilf got lost and jumped with joy when his friends found him and showed him the way home. Her interest and investment in the story was beautiful. She's been asking to read it every night ever since we received it.

The Way Home for Wolf is the forth book in the series by Rachel Bright and illustrator Jim Field. There's also The Lion Inside, The Koala Who Could and The Squirrels Who Squabbled. They all look like such fab books and ones we'll need to add to our home library. The paperback is out now so definitely add it to your list of must have children's books.

This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own. 

4 September 2019

The Best Soft Plays to Visit Around Fife

It's getting to that time of year where the weather gets a bit unpredictable and you always need to have a soft play on hand as back up to occupy the kids. Well we do in Scotland anyway! So I've put together a little list of some of the best soft plays to visit around Fife and there might even be one or two that are further afield but worth dropping into.

Wee Kingdom - Cupar
We haven't visited the Wee Kingdom for a while now but it had a refurbishment in June this year and from the photos online it looks lovely. It's perfect for little ones as it's a smaller soft play, maybe up to age 6 or 7 although all are welcome (children taller than 1.52m cannot use the play equipment). It has a lovely cafe selling homemade cakes, with gluten free options as well as something to suit all dietary requirements so I'd recommend. Under 1's go free and over 1's are £4.50 and the soft play is open 10am to 5.30pm 7 days a week. They try not to put a limit on play time however if it's really busy a 2 hour limit is applied.

Noah's Ark - Perth
We frequented Noah's Ark when the kids were younger but I recently took Harlow along with a friend and it's still a nice place for the kids to play. I'd say that it's for younger children again up to age 7 or 8 and they have an excellent baby/toddler area which is all secure and plenty of seating around to keep a close eye on the little ones. There's also ride on electric bikes for the kids to enjoy, you pop a £1 in an off they go. My two love them. Noah's Ark is open from 10am to 6pm all week with under 1's free, under 5's £5 and over 5's £6. The cafe is quite nice with reasonable prices and home cooked food and there's only a play limit put on when it's really busy.

Wonder World - Falkirk/ Kirkcaldy
There's two Wonder World's which we've visited and we like them both. Kirkcaldy is our closest and most visited one. It's a big soft play and great for the older kids. I think even some 11 year olds would be happy to run around in here for a few hours. It always seems clean, the food is good and I've had no issues. The Wonder World in Falkirk is massive! It's perfect for older kids and will definitely keep them occupied the whole time you are there. Wonder World impose a strict 2 hour play policy and if you run over your time you will be charged. Both of these soft plays are open 10am to 6pm with last entry allowed at 5pm. They have a few different pricing structures so under 1's go free, under 3's are £4.95 during the week and £7.95 at weekends and holidays. Ages 3-12 years old are £5.95 during the week and £8.95 at weekends and holidays. It's expensive compared to a lot of soft plays however it's really good for the older kids as they have different equipment and huge slides.

Bongos - Glenrothes
This soft play is good fun for kids aged up to about 7. The sitting areas for adults are really good as you can mostly see the kids running around at all times. They have a baby area, toddler area and bigger kids area so something to keep them all busy. The staff are friendly, the food is tasty and reasonably priced and they do an excellent party package. I think Logan had at least 3 or 4 parties here when he was younger and Harlow had hers here this year. She wants it to be here again next year so I better get booking. Under 6 months of age are currently free, 6 months to 1 year is £1, 1 to 3 years is £3.95 and 3 and over is £4.95. They do have special offers and deals on frequently so check our their Facebook page or website for more details.

Snappy Play - Carnegie Leisure Centre, Dunfermline
Snappy Play is really handy if you're in town and it starts to rain or you need somewhere for the kids to burn of some energy. It's a small soft play situated in the Carnegie Leisure Centre and your child is allowed a max of 90 minutes play. It's £4.80 per session and it's for younger children maybe aged up to 5 or 6. It's open 9.30am to 6.30pm during the week and school holidays and weekends are 10am to 5pm.

Little World of Play - Cowdenbeath
This is more an imagination play area than a soft play (but it does have a soft play area) and is suitable for all ages. I did a review back in 2017 if you fancy a nose. My son is 9 and I thought he'd get bored here but he actually liked discovering all the little rooms so not too bad. Harlow's 4 and of course loves it as she can dress up in whatever she wants and prance around the little town. If visiting the Little World of Play it's best to get online to their website and book a slot as they have limited spaces and you won't always get in at the door. There are normally 3 time slots to choose from throughout the day. Only 2 of these slots can be booked Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 11.30am and 12.30pm to 2.30pm. At weekends the 3.30pm to 5.30pm slot is added.  Prices also vary so check out their website for more details.

Fife Zoo Sloth Play - Near Cupar
The lovely guys at Fife Zoo are slowly and ethically building their business, doing things the right way first time so although they don't have tons of animals at the moment they do have a brilliant small soft play and cafe. The soft play is open 10am to 5pm every day and even though the cafe is separate you can order food to be brought over for you. Under 1's are free, under 3's are £3.50 and 3 and over are £4.50. This is for a 2 hour play however when it's quiet the staff don't mind if you stay longer. It's always nice and clean when I've been and I'd say it's suitable for ages up to around 6 or 7 since it's on the smaller side. One of the cool features of this soft play is the bat cave which lights up if you hit the hand prints hard enough.

Scampers - Dunfermline
Scampers is a lovely soft play for younger children. They do accommodate up to ages 12 however I feel kids of that age would get bored quite quickly. I'd maybe say kids up to age 7 or 8 would be happy running around at Scampers for a little while. They have 3 specially designed areas for children. Babies get to play in their very own farm yard; slightly older children can venture into the jungle area; and the bigger ones get to explore the under-the-sea zone! They are open 9.30am to 5.30pm daily and are a family run business. Play is limited to 2 hours and you can bring a max of 5 children per 1 adult. Pricing varies due to timings and age so check out their website for details. You can pay for a one hour play instead of a two hour play which is handy if you're short of time or you have small children. It's always been clean when we've been in but can get quite busy at times.

Jungle Jim's - Glenrothes
A lot of people haven't heard of this soft play and it's probably because it's tucked out of the way a bit but it's a little hidden gem. When we go it's always quiet so you get the run of the place. It's an unusual layout but that only means it's better for a big game of hide and seek. The slides are super fast and it'll keep kids aged up to 8 happy. It's open 7 days a week from 9.30am with under 3's costing £2.95 and over 3's £3.95.

Little Seedlings Soft Play - Dobbies Dunfermline
Dobbies in Dunfermline now have a little soft play of their own which is perfect for younger children aged up to about 6. It's quite compact but there's plenty of tables and even it's own mini cafe serving tea, coffee, cakes and snacks so you don't need to move. It's open 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sunday. It does get really really busy at times and you're limited to 90 minutes of play. It's only £3.50 per child which is reasonable but if you're a Dobbies Club Plus Member you get it for £3.

If you know of anymore soft plays around Fife please do let me know as we're always opening to visiting more on a rainy day.

2 September 2019

Review: Carlton Kids Books - How To Be A Pro Gamer, Drastic Plastic & Troublesome Trash and YouTube World Records

This month Logan has been sent three totally amazing books to read and review for the lovely Carlton Books. He always looks forward to this delivery as he's such a book worm and can't wait to get stuck in. The books he received are; How To Be A Pro Gamer, Drastic Plastic & Troublesome Trash and YouTube World Records. All fabulous books which totally take his interest. I always think reading for kids should be interesting as it makes it so much more exciting.

We'll start with How To Be A Pro Gamer. Most of you will know Logan is gaming mad and it's not just Fortnite that has him hooked recently. He's branched out into a few different games since attending a gaming championship with his Dad a few weeks ago so this book has become a firm favourite in helping him boost his skills. The book is basically a step-by-step guide to getting into the pro gaming world. It tells you what you need to play, how you need to play it and even how to get signed to a pro team. Logan's very much enjoying this book and has even marked a few pages he wants to read again and study more. It's great to see him so interested. 

Inside the book you'll find interviews and advice from some of the world's biggest eSports players and streamers. Top tips for starting a high-profile Twitch or YouTube stream. Facts, stats and industry secrets about the world of eSports and essential info on the biggest eSports games. It's a great starting guide and a good book to have in your collection. At £7.99 it's a lovely buy for the wannabe pro gamer out there.

Next up is Drastic Plastic & Troublesome Trash. I feel this is such an important subject that we need to educate our children on. They are our future and we need to help take care of the world for them and show them what a difference it can make. Logan has been learning a lot about plastic and recycling in school but having this book and being able to reference it often is definitely helping to hit the message home.

It's a great book that explains all about what the big deal is with rubbish and how you can recycle it. It has some excellent upcycling ideas and tips as well as explaining exactly what happens to the things you throw away and how that affects the world around us. If you're child is into crafts this is great as it shows you how to reuse materials around the home such as glass, plastic, paper and metal. We're currently making light up bottles out of Logan's Dads old glass cider bottles. They look beautiful and will make perfect gifts.

Drastic Plastic & Troublesome Trash is a lovely book and one I'd highly recommend purchasing for kids. It's very educational as well as being fun. It's only £8.99 as well so won't break the bank of Mum and Dad.

Last but not least YouTube World Records. Logan absolutely loves the world record books and has quite the collection now. He also loves a bit of YouTube so combing his two interests have proved amazing for him. The great thing about this book is that it has over 300 QR codes which you can scan with your phone/tablet device and it'll take you straight to the YouTube clip so you can watch it and read about it at the same time. Logan was over the moon when he realised this. He got so excited and we've been scanning the book together at bed time to see all the amazing world records.

I think the QR codes take this book to another level and it's definitely in keeping with the digital age. Great for kids and adults alike I think this has to be one of Logan's favourites to date. It's currently retailing for £16.99 and would make an awesome present or gift if you're feeling generous.

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


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