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Our Family Life 2021 (2/52)

Our Family Life 2021 (2/52)

4th – Belle went back to school today. We received an email from the school over the weekend saying that the Teachers Union had advised teachers to stand down, so it was a watch and wait situation to see if things would change. There was to be yet another announcement from the Prime Minister. At the moment primary school outside of Tier 4 areas have reopened but high schools remain closed until mid January.

Lockdown 3!

As expected, Boris made his announcement (on time this time) and all schools have been shut until February half term (at least) except for children of keyworkers and vulnerable children. We’ve entered another national lockdown (Lockdown 3).

As a keyworker, Isabelle could continue to go to school, but it just doesn’t feel safe for us and as we have no issues with childcare we feel better having her home with us.

Back to homeschooling!

Back to daily walks!

Essential shopping only!

The message is to Stay at Home – Stay Safe – Protect our NHS.

We waited until Tuesday to break the news to Isabelle, and she was very upset. She was upset as she’d just got a new teacher. She was upset that she only got to spend one day back with her friends.

Homeworking and Homeschooling

I’ve now been given a laptop to work from home which I feel much better about. However, it does mean that the kids and I are going to be together pretty much 24/7 which is a bit daunting.

One day at a time is all we can do.

Our first day was total and utter shit. Isabelle was the most reluctant student ever. The work took forever! There were three tasks to do – English, Maths and Science. By 7pm we literally gave up as I had to get Freddie to bed.

Well today was even more fun!

Think I’ll retrain as a teacher.

NOT! With friggin bells on!

We had to complete what we didn’t get done yesterday and still didn’t manage to finish school until 4.45pm.

This on top of me fitting in a full days work is an absolute joke. No silver lining here – Utter Utter Shit!!

I wasn’t hopeful when I woke up on Friday morning, but we ploughed through the work and she even scored herself two Dojo’s (merit points). So this afternoon Belle was allowed to do what she wanted so she opted for some tablet time in her room.

Saturday and Sunday were chilled days as we needed a break from the school work and get out in the fresh air so we took ourselves off for a dog walk. Freddie loves being outside and extra points if he can splash in puddles and squish in mud.

He was able to do both and it was great to get outside. The rest of Sunday we watched films and then topped off the weekend with a much needed takeaway.

Our Family Life 2021 (1/52)

Our Family Life 2021 (1/52)

So last year so the start of the Coronavirus pandemic and life as we knew it changed. I started the Coronavirus Diaries but I didn’t publish many of them as they all became a bit ranty as we grew less enthusiastic about how to entertain the kids, and FaceTime and zoom calls became something we dreaded. Our Family Life Diary is going to be a weekly catch up of what we’ve been up to, so that we can look back on how life was during a global pandemic as it already feels like we’re on rocky ground. 

2021 had so much promise….

A new year and a fresh start is how it’s supposed to go. Setting goals and making plans for the year ahead.

Sadly it’s likely that the beginning part of this year is still going to be a time to live each day as it comes with all plans on hold or with back up options. We’ll await the next instalment from Boris on that one.

I thought that instead of a coronavirus diary, I would write a weekly update on what we’ve been up to, more for ourselves to look back on.

Christmas

Christmas for us was how we’d planned it to be. Us and the kids at home which is what we did. Obviously we would have liked to have still visited family instead of doing doorstep present deliveries but the actual day itself went as we’d hoped.

Mum and Kids in Matching Christmas Pyjamas on Christmas Eve

Boxing Day was a bit rubbish. Chris went back to work so it was just me and the kids. We would usually go to my mums and my brother and sisters would come over with all the kids so it was a bit of a low day.

We spent the next few days eating our own body weights in cheese, pate and chocolate.

Toddler standing in mud on a dog walk

The weather has been awful with lots of rain and wind but we did manage a nice dog walk. Freddie was happy walking in the ‘squishy mud’ and we found some amazing icy puddles to crack. 

New Years Eve

New Years Eve was spent pretty much how we spend every year. We ordered a takeaway and had some nice drinks.

This year was slightly different as we let Belle stay up until the real midnight this year. For the last couple of years we’ve put the previous years New Years fireworks on YouTube on the TV at around 9pm and done our own countdown and cheers before happily packing her off to bed at around 9.30pm.

Harsh you may think, but we thought it was genius!

My Favourite First Job of the Year!

Is of course writing my calendar and starting to fill my Planner. I like to sit down with something good to watch and a glass of wine. I use my best pens……like a pig in muck!

Board Games

Freddie’s not really one for sitting down to play games or do jigsaw puzzles, but we’ve managed to play a couple of the Orchard games which are really quick to play and a good introduction to family games.

Buddy the Elf brought the kids Pull My Finger which is also a great game to play when you’re two years old! parp!!

The plan is to post our week’s activities every Monday so we can keep a diary of these odd times and all entries can be found in the Family Life link at the top of the page. 

 

 

A Winter Warming S’mores Dip Recipe

A Winter Warming S’mores Recipe Dip……….

December is well underway now and as we hurtle towards Christmas with not a lot else to do due to the lovely Coronavirus, we’re at home more than we’ve ever been before.

We’ve all had to get a little bit more creative at home to keep us going through this time. I’ve already lost count of how many Christmas films we’ve already watched, and the requests for hot chocolate are nearly daily. We’ve also had many a living room picnic, pizza and a movie and attempted a few board games (impossible with a two year old).

Back in November, Nanny brought over a goodie bag to make this S’mores recipe which sounded disgustingly sweet, gooey and chocolatey – perfect for yet another Christmas movie so I thought I would share it with you so you can try too.

S'Mores Dip Recipe

 

What you will need:

  • A metal/oven proof dish
  • Skewers
  • 200g Milk Chocolate
  • 300g Marshmallows (the small ones work the best)
  • Strawberries
  • Pineapple chunks
  • Sweet breadsticks
  • Digestive biscuits

S'mores Dip Recipe

How to do it:

Pop the chocolate milk and 200g of the marshmallows in a pan and heat very gently until they’re all melted and smooth.

Pour into the oven-proof dish and top with the remaining marshmallows.

S'Mores Dip Recipe

Pop under the grill and keep a close eye until the marshmallows turn a golden toasted colour.

Using the skewers with a selection of fruit and biscuits, scoop up the gooey yumminess and get stuck in.

S'Mores Dip Recipe

Enjoy x

If you liked this S’Mores Dip Recipe and are looking for more Christmas Inspiration then head over to our ‘Everything Christmas’ Pinterest board where I’ve saved loads of stuff from decorating tips to Christmas recipes.

Christmas Gift Ideas for Children

Christmas Gift Ideas for Children

Most people are putting all their focus at the moment on making sure they have a nice Christmas despite the unknown that the Coronavirus has thrown at us. I know from lots of parenting groups and social media that a lot of parents are putting a lot of thought into the gifts that they are buying for their kids, with longevity, entertainment factor and fit for purpose being top of the list.

We’ve spent a lot of time at home over the last few months, so our choice of toys and activities for our kids have been a high priority to enable us to keep them entertained.

Here are some great ideas to keep your kids entertained with a selection of beautifully crafted toys, activities and subscription services for the gift that keeps on giving.

Be-You_tiful Art Wall Print

Be-You-Tiful Art Print from LCornelius Creates – £4.67
All children and beautiful inside and out – it’s good for them to have positive reminders!

Childrens Indoor Wooden Climbing Frame

An Indoor Wooden Climbing Frame Set from Home for Dreams – £111.60
I would love one of these for Freddie, it might stop him climbing on all the furniture!

Large Lego Name Sign

A Large Lego Name Sign from Made Happy Gifts – From £6.95

Rock Painting Kit from Tanku Toys

A Rock Painting Kit from Tanku Toys – £13.99
Isabelle has really enjoyed finding other people’s painted rocks and has left a few herself.

Three Bears Cookery Subscription Box

A Three Bears Cookery Club Subscription Box – From £11.49 per month.
A subscription box is a great gift that your child will receive each month. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Happy Shopping x

 

Fun Stocking Filler Ideas for Kids

Fun Stocking Filler Ideas for Kids

I’m not sure about your kids, but in our house the stockings are our favourite part of Christmas Day. We all pile onto our bed, and I usually nip downstairs to make tea and coffee in the hope that the coffee waft will wake Chris up enough at whatever insane hour they (I) wake up.

We try and make them a bit fun and silly as a nice way to start the day. Now that our eldest is an adult, the kids know that Father Christmas no longer fills his stocking, and that it’s us that fill it full of funny bits and bobs.

Here are some great finds that will put a smile on your kids faces, big and small.

Squishy Dinosaur toy from Hyde and Seek

A Squish-a-saurus from Hyde and Seek. My kids love a squishy toy so these would be a very welcome addition to their stockings – £4.95

Child Led Play Mini Christmas Tree Lights Playdough Kit

Mini Xmas Tree Lights Playdough Kit from Child Led Play – £6.50
This would be a lovely calming activity for your little one to do to wind down from all the Christmas Festivities.

Colourful Creations Mini Pain Set

A Colourful Creations Mini Paint Set from Rascals Toy Shop – £2.95

Christmas Sweet Chocolate Bar

A Christmas Chocolate Bar from Stamford Heavenly Chocolates – £3.50
You have to have chocolate and sweets in a Christmas Stocking and this has both!

Unique Gifts to Buy for Her this Christmas

Unique Gifts to Buy for Her this Christmas

This year has been pretty awful for many of us in many ways, so Christmas is the perfect time to show the women in your life how much you care by buying the perfect gift. I’ve been scouring local, independent and small businesses from around the UK and have found some absolute gems for all the women in your lives.

Brass Hoop Earrings made by homeless people supported by Pivot a social enterprise

Pivot – handcrafted jewellery like these Eclipse Earrings made from Brass can be bought from Pivot, a social enterprise that empowers people experiencing homelessness to pivot their lives by designing, making and selling jewellery.

Washable Make-up Remover pads from Cecily Jacks

Washable Make-up Remover Pads from Cecily Jacks – £10.00
Even small steps towards a more sustainable life is a good step.  Washable pads are also much nicer to use than cotton wool pads.

Tribal Tassel Basket from Hyde and Seek

A Black Tribal Tassel Basket from Hyde and Seek – £24.95
I’ve seen these quite a lot across  instagram and look gorgeous for storing blankets or my preferred choice of a lovely potted plant.

Essential Oil Infused Eye Mask from Bags of Lavendar

An Essential Oil Infused Eye Mask from Bags of Lavender – £10.50
Practice a little bit of self-care or take 5 minutes away from the hustle and bustle.

Blooming Marvellous Mega Melt

Blooming Marvellous Mega Melt from the Happy Soak – £4.50
Grab a good book, a glass of wine and drift off to a tropical paradise via your bath tub.

Silver Personalised Double Bangle from Emma White

A Silver Personalised Bangle from the Jewellery Makers – £160.00
Have your bracelet engraved with words of your choosing.

Popup Blooms Flower Subscription Service

A Flower Subscription Service from Pop-up Blooms
It’s always nice to receive flowers and may-be you’d like to have a go at a bit of flower arranging with their handy hints and tips.

Mary Kilvert Dog Lovers Notebook

A Dog Lover’s Notebook from In Your Dog House Gifts – £12.00
I love my doggy and I love stationery so this would be great for my endless to-do lists.

Happy Shopping x

Christmas Gift Ideas for Babies and Toddlers

Christmas Gift Ideas for Babies and Toddlers

We’re not long out of the baby stage and into full on Toddler fun and tantrums. Two is my absolute favourite age as everything is new and amazing to them. It’s the perfect age to introduce role play toys and promote a bit of independent play.

Having looked through many businesses, I feel that we’re a bit spoilt for choice so here are a few of the vast gorgeous toys and gifts that I found.

Maileg Superhero Mouse from Little Wrens Nest

Maileg Superhero Mouse – Little Wrens Nest. There’s a whole little family of these little mice to collect, and this one comes in his very own little carry case – £19.50.

Le Toy Van Wooden Animal Stacking Set

Wooden Mountain Animal Stacking Set – Rose and Reign. Freddie is obsessed with stacking things from books to tins out of the cupboards so this would be a great challenge for him.

Rainbow Star Rattle Teether from Once Upon a Future

A Rainbow Star Rattle Teether from Once Upon a Future – £13.99
You can’t have too many teethers and this one caught my eye.

Room On The Broom Story Box

A Room on the Broom Storybox from Zaza’s Storybox – £25.00
This book is one of our absolute firm favourites. I think Freddie would absolutely love this set!

Weaving Hope Cooking Play Set

A Cooking Play Set from Weaving Hope – £50.00
This beautiful set is made from cotton woven on traditional wooden handlooms by women artisans in Sri Lanka.

 

 

Quirky Gifts to Buy for Him this Christmas

Quirky Gifts to Buy for Him this Christmas

Men are so difficult to buy for! Each birthday and Christmas I find it really difficult to buy for Chris and like most men, he’s rubbish at giving away any suggestions. We seem to have developed our own little family thing of putting together a ‘Goody Bag’ of all of his favourite snacks, treats and drinks which is our own version of pants and socks.

Nobody wants to buy a present for the sake of buying, so here are some amazing ideas from businesses either local to us in Exeter or available to buy online.

Walnut Phone Case from Loam and Lore

Walnut Wooden Phone Case with Eco friendly Shell from Loam and Lore – £30.00 – This is completely compostable as well!

Retro VHS Sleeve Notebook from Lionshed Designs

A Retro VHS Sleeve Notebook from Lionshed Designs – £8.00
I was only trying and failing to explain how we used to record stuff on TV when I was a kid to my daughter the other day. She asked if we were really poor!

Brussel Sprout Gin would make a great Christmas Gift

Brussel Sprout Flavoured Gin from La Di Da Interiors – £12.50
What can I say, would you try this? I’m all for giving things a try once!

Personalised Leather Tablet Bag from Casting Love

A Personalised Leather Tablet Bag from Casting Love – £75.00

Peppa Pig Shopping Centre Review

Peppa Pig Shopping Centre Review

Our Peppa Pig journey started with Isabelle who is now ten years old and continues with Freddie who is two years old. Did you know that the show has been running since 2004? I had to google it!

Peppa Pig has come a long way since we first started watching it. There are a lot more characters, not to mention all the Peppa Pig themed everything from toys, hair accessories and bedding.

Freddie loves Peppa Pig but his favourite character is George Pig and his dinosaur, so we were thrilled to be sent the Peppa Pig Shopping Centre to play with.

What’s in the Box?

The shopping centre is set out across two floors featuring six different shops with the clever help of interchangeable signs. There is:

Ice Cream Parlour
Pizzeria
Cake Shop
Toy Store
Fruit and Veg Shop
Bakery

There is even a working lift that the characters can go up and down in which I think was Freddie’s favourite feature. As with any supermarket, there is a tannoy with buttons with real supermarket sounds such as the ‘ding dong’ to alert shoppers to special offers, checkout sounds and lift music.

The shopping centre came with twelve accessories including a Peppa Pig character, shopping trolly, cash register, a plate of cookies, a restaurant table and chairs and a plate of cookies.

Interchangeable Shops

The shop areas can be changed by the clever use of swivelling signs.

I should give the restaurant table a special mention since the table rotates between having Pizza and ice cream on the plates.

The Lift

I knew that the lift would be Freddie’s favourite feature. Pop Peppa in the lift and press the button for her to go up to the next level, and then push it back down to do it again……and again……and again! Freddie only turned two in June and is quite heavy handed, but this was robust enough for him to do on his own without any frustration.

The Microphone

What’s a shopping centre without real life noises. The microphone has working buttons with a check out sound, lift music and the kind of ‘ding dong’ that you hear before an announcement is made. The microphone is detachable, so could be accidentally lost should you need a bit of peace and quiet.

Our Thoughts

I really wished that I’d caught Freddies gasp when I showed him the shopping centre. He could not wait to get it out of the box and thankfully it wasn’t screwed to the box and didn’t require any assembly. The only thing we had to do was put the batteries (not included) in the microphone and it was good to go.

Freddie was two in June and so toys generally have to be quite robust for him to play with, but this playset ticked all the boxes in terms of sturdiness and managed to keep his attention for a long time, in fact I had to prise the pieces out of his hands so we could pick his sister up from school. His favourite feature was the lift which he was able to do without any help and enjoyed putting Peppa and her shopping the lift.

Overall, this has all the plus points that we look for when buying toys for Freddie. The only thing that would have been nice addition would have been if there was a Miss Rabbit character since she does all the jobs in Peppa Pig.

The Peppa Pig Shopping Centre is marketed at children age 3+ but Freddie has already been playing with Isabelle’s Peppa Pig toys and I’m quite happy that he is able to play with it as intended. It retails at £39.99 at Smyths Toys and other retailers and would make a great Christmas present for any Peppa Pig fan.

*We were sent the Peppa Pig Shopping Centre in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are our own. 

Fireman Sam Fire Rescue Centre Review

Fireman Sam Fire Rescue Centre Review

Freddie has only just recently been introduced to Fireman Sam, but as soon as I showed him the Fireman Sam Fire Rescue Centre playset he knew who it was and got very excited to start playing with it.

The Fireman Sam Rescue Centre unfolds to reveal the inside of the headquarters in Pontypandy featuring a working zipwire, the kitchen where the crew have their tea, a platform with a pulley and training dolly and best of all a working fireman’s pole. It also come with an articulated Fireman Sam Character.

Once you’ve finished playing with the set, it can be folded away for easy storage and has a carry handle so can be easily taken on a playdate.

The Zipwire

The zipwire has a suction pad that can be suctioned onto a flat surface. We found it stuck quite well to our dining table leg. You can then clip Sam onto it and whoosh to the rescue.

Pulley and Training Dolly

As part of the rescue centre there is a pulley system and training dolly so that the fire rescue team can practice for live rescues.

Fireman’s Pole

The set comes complete with a Fireman’s pole which Sam clips onto before whizzing down to the rescue.

There are other characters and vehicles in the range which would make a great addition to this playset.

The set retails at £19.99 and can be bought from Argos and Smyths Toys Superstores. Suitable from age 3+

If you have a Fireman Sam fan, they’ll be pleased to know that there is a Fireman Sam Special – Return of the Norman-Man showing on Cartoonito at 5pm, Thursday 5th November. There are also some cool Fireman Sam stop from animation clips that you can watch on the Character Options YouTube channel.

Our Thoughts

Freddie really enjoyed playing with the playset but found it tricky to get Sam onto the firepole and the zipwire. Once it was set up he happily played with the set for a while and liked to carry it round from the lounge to the kitchen before setting it up again.

His favourite part was the zipwire, he would place the training dolly on different part of the playset before Fireman Sam came to the rescue after following Dolly’s pleas for help.

It’s great that there are additional toys and characters to add to the set as a Fire Engine would definitely complete this set up.

As Freddie is only two, he was a little bit heavy handed when it came to the zipwire so the suction cup kept coming off which led to a few wobbles, but this was a great set for us to play together and with a little bit of help was more than able to play independently.

*We were sent the Fireman Sam Fire Rescue Centre for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.