Friday, 30 November 2012

Mattel Fun Times: UNO Roboto

Sponsored Post

This is the second game we were sent to review. We have never owned a copy of UNO but I have played it in the past. Neither of my children had ever played before. UNO Roboto has an electronic addition to the game with the Roboto:





This little some different dimensions to the game. Firstly you record each players name into the microphone. Secondly you can save a house rule. Finally Roboto throws up a few commands such as making you swap cards, letting you have another turn or creating a duel between 2 players such as first to touch your nose. This can make for a longer game and you need to pay attention to his commands.

This video shows my son and I have a game:





As you can hear my son chose to record silly nicknames for us both! Nicknames are used by Roboto as well as your names for giving commands. So be careful what you record!

My 6 year old is really enjoying playing the game and has quite quickly learned the UNO rules. His big sister is not as keen but that maybe because I keep winning!

If you have original UNO but are getting bored this would liven it up. If you haven't got UNO already then it's another fun edition to the games cupboard.



The Dilemma of the Single Working Parent

I was very relieved earlier this to get a term time only part time job. It was great no longer being almost fully reliant on the state. Not receiving maintenance from my ex for the children had meant that we had very little money. The income from my blog was negligible as its mostly in form of review items and days out. I also hadn't reestablished my Usborne book business after moving north.

The job is only 20 hours a week and even though I have to put my children in after school club it is well worth doing both financially and mentally! It left me a couple of hours each morning to get all the chores done and carry on blogging.

Back in September I was offered extra work at another school on a temporary basis to cover staff absence. This seemed like a great idea as it would mean more money. It did mean that I lost 3 mornings in which everything else got done.

Now I'm not sure it's a good thing to be doing. It doesn't really equate to more much more money as of course I'm quite rightly entitled to smaller benefit payments. Unfortunately the way they work these out is confusing and I don't really know what's happening with them. Because my payments from the extra work vary my benefit is different every month and I have to keep visiting the benefits office to prove every change!

The rest of my life seems to be always on the rush. Things aren't getting done and I know that right now my kids need more time with me rather than me getting stressed and being busy. Because the difference in pay isn't really enough to make a huge difference to our lives I am debating axing the extra work. I don't want to be a burden to tax payers but something is going to give if I carry on this way and its probably my sanity!

With my children being my responsibility 7 days a week I do have to put them first.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful: Week 48 ( #R2BC )

 

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart
 

Thanks again Michelle for hosting this linky. It's great to stop and think positive.

1) Thinking of others

I am so glad that my children are learning to think about and do things for people less fortunate than themselves. My daughter raised £35 for Macmillan cancer by painting nails and running a game at our church fete this weekend. Even her brother let her paint his nails! We have also had a good clear out of their old clothes for their schools Bags2School fundraiser. Great to get rid of unwanted clothes to help both their school and people in need in Eastern Europe.

2) Proper Winter

The weather has really turned wintry this week. Temperatures are barely above freezing and we have had plenty of frost like on my shed roof:

 

Yes my washing froze on the line but at least it was dry enough to try and hang it out! Just glad I have a nice toastie electric blanket though and I'm not looking forward to the heating bill!

3) Mummy treat

I realised I am child free the weekend the Hobbit comes out so I have booked myself a seat to see the 3D version all on my own! I'm a big Tolkein fan and its been a long wait to get to see one of my favourite childhood books turned into a film:



 

Chill Factore - Blogger Party

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Back at half term my children and I were invited to the Chill Factore in Manchester for their blogger party. It was pretty exciting pulling up outside the building with its special shape to accomodate the ski slope. On entering the complex it was amazing what they had fitted in to make it a ski experience.

We were in a group with families with children from pre-school to early secondary age. All of us were kitted out with clothing, helmets and boots before being taken out to enjoy a taste of the activities on offer.

 
For my children and I our first taste was the tubing which is basically a giant inner tube that you sit in before being pushed down the slope! This was really good fun as it wasn't very scary but pretty exhilirating. My daughter had the maximum number of goes but my son only wanted 3 runs down.


 
 
He headed over to the adjacent sledging slope and was very happy to spend the rest of the session going down on there especially on the special seated sledges:
 
 

 
 
I came from the tubing just as my daughter came flying to the bottom of the luge! She had found it a bit too scary and advised me not to do it. So of course I went down it 4 times! It is pretty scary and I had bruised elbows but it was well worth it. I did take some pics and video of other people on the luge but can't get them on here at the minute as my laptop is broken... Luckily I had uploaded a partial video of what we did to YouTube so here it is including my squealing (and some sideways footage!):


 
 
 
For the youngest members of the group there was a Snow Play area where they could have fun in the real snow:
 


By the end of the session all of us were a little bit tired and a little bit wet but mostly looked happy:
 


We were more than ready to retire to one of the bar areas for pizza, chips and a view of the slopes:
 
 
 
 
Just at the minute my two aren't keen on the thought of the main slope for skiing and snowboarding but I'm quite tempted!
 
 
 
 
I would definitely recommend Chill Factore for a different family day out. At the minute they are having special Christmas events including Santa in a real snow grotto! For the rest of the time they have various packages to let you choose your activities. Its not a cheap day out but it is a lot of fun as a family.


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Mattel Fun Times: Pictionary

Sponsored post

Over the next couple of weeks I'll be sharing reviews on a range of board games I've been sent by Mattel to try out with my family. First up is an old favourite of mine that has had a makeover for its 25th anniversary (that is officially scary as I remember playing it when it was new!):





One major plus as compared to original pictionary is that it has special junior cards so that younger members of the family can play. It has an age range of 8+ so was well suited to my 9 year old daughter.

She was keen to give it a go even if strictly we should have had another team to play against! At her suggestion we chose to use one of the stop spaces to make it a shorter go. The board gives you 3 possible starting points depending on how long a game you want:





I haven't compared to my old version (currently in attic waiting for my children to be older!) but I'm sure it's much brighter and more funky. My daughter soon got the hang of it and we seemed to work well as a drawing/guessing partnership. Can you tell what any of our pictures were:





The game is available from £19 online and I'm sure most toy shops will stock it. A great addition to your family's board game cupboard especially if they are getting a little bit older and need more of a challenge.



Monday, 26 November 2012

Finding me time

As a parent especially a working single parent it can be really hard to find some quality time to unwind, relax and just be me. Life can sometimes seem a constant merry go round of balancing the demands of work, children and housework. Being able to just stop and do nothing can feel like mission impossible!

Since I increased my hours to include 3 mornings I've found that my me time is being even more constricted. I have to choose between spending my all to short free day time hours getting myself fit, healthy and destressed at the gym or trying to tackle my chaotic house.

After work I seem to be too often dashing here there and everywhere to fit in my tasks such as banking or collecting parcels before fetching my children from after school club. Then one or other of us has something outside school every night except Thursday!

Some of these activities are essentials such as swimming and others allow me to spend one to one time with a child whilst the other is out. Generally though by the time I've got the children safely to bed my free time doesn't start until after 9...

So I have some simple little bits that I use to unwind. Firstly on one day each weekend my children know to sneak downstairs (usually after a snuggle in my bed) to watch some TV so mummy gets a lie in. When they want me to get up they bring me a coffee from the tassimo:

 

 

At the other end of the day I like to sink back in my bed with a good book and read. Just at the minute my bedside light isn't working so I have the added soothing bonus of a scented candle:

 

 

These may not seem like much but it's amazing the difference they can make! What do you do to unwind?

 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Sunday Book Review: Hobbit and Hello Kitty Annuals

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The nice people at Harper Collins kindly sent us a couple of annuals to review. My children usually get an annual each from Father Christmas so they were excited to get ones a month early with the promise that Santa would still bring one on his sleigh!

The Hobbit an unexpected journey annual 2013





Unless you have been living under a rock for the last couple of years you will know that one of the most keenly anticipated film events will finally be with us in December! My children have grown up with Lord of the Rings and have had the Hobbit read to them. Needless to say we are all excited about the film - just hoping I can take both to the cinema to see it but awaiting the final certificate....

In the meantime we had an argument over which child was the official reviewer of this annual as both my 9 year old daughter and 6 year old son claimed it! In the end I decided it would be my son who would try it out.

The book has plenty of snippets and photographs from the story and the film and my son recognised a few of the characters from Lord of the Rings:







The book is appealing to both children and adults and would be great for any fans. There are plenty of activities and puzzles to while away the Christmas holidays:





Definitely one to put on your list to Santa!



Hello Kitty annual 2013





This is ashamedly girlie with its bright pink cover! It is full of snippets from Hello Kitty:





There are also quizzes and activities for girls to do on their own or with friends:





If you have a slightly older Hello Kitty fan say 7 or up then they will have a lot of fun with this annual. It has great advice on friendship which is very important to this tween age group. In fact it would be a great basis for a sleepover.



I am sure that both of these will be very popular this Christmas but The Hobbit one would be the one I'd like to find in my stocking!



#SilentSunday 25th November 2012

Love All Blogs




Saturday, 24 November 2012

Giving your children freedom

In the modern world with news appearing regularly about child abduction or worse its hard to know how much freedom to give your children. You want to find a balance between giving them independence and keeping them safe.

When I lived in Hastings my children were younger but it was also 4 times the size of Kendal. If we were in town I'd keep my children close by as it was always busy. Our house was on an inner ring road where most traffic didn't keep to the 30 limit. I could never let my children out the front without me.

Since moving up to Cumbria we have found things different. For one we live in a cul de sac on a quiet estate where children can play in the street or the local park with minimal supervision. Once they had shown they had road sense they could cycle on the closest roads or run errands to the post box. They know exactly how far they are allowed to go and it's nearly always with a friend.

The town itself is much quieter and its only on special occasions that it gets crowded. It's much easier to see the children from a distance and it feels so much safer. I have been building up letting my children have more freedom and responsibility whilst in town. Things like my daughter going into a shop or library on her own.

Today there's was the next step. As we were doing the advent fair at our church on the edge of the shopping area I sent my daughter to McDonalds on her own to get breakfast. It's only a few minutes walk and the roads she crossed are either quiet or have a crossing. As it was early in the day it was even quieter than normal. I have to admit to thinking about her the whole time she was gone but it gave her a feeling of being thought of as responsible and grown up.

How do you strike the balance with your children or do you find that you clip their wings to ensure they stay safe?

Friday, 23 November 2012

Once a week take a peek

Sponsored post

Isn't it funny that just the mention of head lice can make your head start itching! That's exactly how I was when I received a box of Hedrin's new treat & go mousse for head lice...


 

Like most parents we have had the experience of little visitors brought home from school or nursery and shared around. Treatment of the whole famiky has not been a pleasant experience! This new dry application mousse seems a whole lot easier should we once again have little bugs brought home.

In the mean time Hedrin have this advice for parents:


Check

  • Check children's hair once a week
  • Use a proper detection comb - teeth no more than 3mm apart
  • If live lice found check treatment advice
  • If live lice found check rest of family
Treat

  • Only if live lice
  • Use clinically proven treatment
  • Treat for recommended time
Complete
  • Repeat treatment after 7 days to kill any new lice from eggs
  • Checks again after a week
There are four main treatment types:

 

  1. Non-pesticide treatments have an eradication rate of 100%
  2. Pesticide treatments are the traditional methods but lice are building resistance so eradication rates are 33% or less
  3. Wet combing with conditioner twice a week for 2 weeks is 38-57% effective as its easy to miss a few
  4. Alternative treatments haven't been fully tested yet scientifically
Stats provided by Hedrin


If you've stopped having an itchy head go to Once a week take a peek for more information!

 

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful: Thanksgiving ( #R2BC )

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart
 

I may not be American but there is no reason to not celebrate the things I am thankful for whilst Michelle prepares to jet off with operation Christmas child!

1) My Health

Finally after nearly 3 weeks I feel like I'm almost 100% back to health again! I've been feeling really tired and run down and everything has got behind... Now I'm trying to catch up on the backlog of housework that didn't get done when I was ill... The house is slowly improving...

2) My Daughter

She has been so much less of a roller coaster girl this week. Maybe it's a sign she is growing up that she can control her emotions better. On our Santa Dash at the weekend she was so keen to do her bit that she ran off like a rocket! Maybe channelling her worries about her dad into fundraising for cancer charities is doing her good. She has also had some moments of being very helpful round the house..

 

 

3) My Son

He seems to be maturing at a faster rate since turning 6! Yes he still has tantrums sometimes and can lash out but these are happening less often. His love of reading is just growing and growing and he is reading books which are advanced for his age.

 

 

4) My Books

It's the time of year when I sell the most usborne books. I now have 4 bookings over next 3 weekends. So I'll be busy but hopefully I'll shift lots of my stock!

 

5) Future Plans

I can blame Michelle for pointing me in the direction of Butlins! I've now booked a bargain short break for early next year. This is something to look forward to after the New Year. Our family camping holiday to France in the summer is also booked. Nothing fancy but the first time my children will have been to one of the countries I love best - better renew my daughter's passport and refresh my French!

 




 

Haba Nativity

Sponsored Post

Christmas has come early here thanks to UK Mums TV and Haba toys! We always love receiving parcels from them and today got a lovely surprise to find they had sent us their nativity set:



 

The beautifully crafted wooden set includes all the normal nativity characters and my daughter couldn't wait to set them up so our Christmas corner is up a week earlier than normal!

 

I can see this set being a talking point with visitors this year and a part of many Christmases to come. The people have such wonderful faces and the are lovely to handle.

 

 

If you haven't already got a nativity set then this would be a lovely addition to your Christmas decorations.

 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Toys R Us Review: Furby

The Furby was one of my daughter's favourites from our latest box. It is an updated version of the original Furby for the current generation. I remember being thoroughly annoyed by the old style Furby so I was hoping this one was better.

One of the main new features is the fact that the Furby comes with its own app for iPhone and iPad. This enables the child to interact with the Furby via the various options:



First stop was the Pantry where with a flick of the finger you can feed Furby with a variety of foodstuffs (some of which aren't quite food!). The Furby reacts to each different item with chomping and various changes in its eye. You can learn its favourite ones by these reactions.





There is also a burger bar to make a customised burger with an array of edible and non edible items:



When happy simply tap your burger then flick:





The app also translates Furbish so that you can talk to the Furby. The apparently random noises are actually a complex language.





Here is a video of my daughter with the Furby:





As you can hear even she eventually finds its non stop chat annoying! She did enjoy getting a reaction for tickling and hugging the Furby though. What was quite funny was the Furby's reaction to having the video played back to it!

The new Furby certainly has a lot more going on than its original incarnation. It is much more interactive via the apps and its eyes and wiggly ears. It doesn't shut up though unless you put it somewhere dark and quiet... We found a basket and a blanket quite effective!

Altogether a fun interactive toy but you may find yourself reaching for the ear plugs!





Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Charity Tuesday: Do the Mobot

Sponsored Post for Virgin Media

Watch and learn Do The Mobot with Mo Farah. Submit your dance and you could be in the official Do The Mobot music video, in aid of the Mo Farah Foundation!

Double Olympian gold medalist Mo Farah is aiming to raise £100,000 for the Mo Farah Foundation in partnership with Virgin Media. The Mo Farah Foundation was set up by Mo and his wife Tania to provide aid to children affected by drought in the Horn of Africa.

The Foundation wants to raise £100,000 towards the 'Mo Farah Orphanage and Sports Academy'. Virgin Media has pledged that for every 'Do The Mobot' video uploaded they will donate £2, representing Mo's two gold medals, to The Foundation.

Those uploading a video will also be given the chance to feature in the music video track which will be relased on iTunes this December, just in time for Christmas.

Tweet to @FarahFoundation and use the hastag #dothemobot

Visit the Mo Farah Foundation website at www.mofarahfoundation.org.uk

 

Monday, 19 November 2012

Christmas Lights

One of the signs that Christmas is getting closer is when the Christmas lights are switched on in shopping areas. For Kendal this took place yesterday and a good crowd always turn up. This year my children and I took part in the first part of the activities by joining in the Santa Dash for Cancer Care and raised over £100! We all had festive costumes and were warmed up by Lakeland Radio for the 3/4 mile dash to K Village:

My Santa outfit!

Children with Yakkers and Dan Beale from Lakeland

 

My daughter shot off at the start and I could only see her at a distance for the next 10 minutes! Luckily my mum was at the finish line to watch us run in:

 

 

It was such a fun atmosphere running through the streets in a Santa suit! Then we escorted Santa and his reindeer back towards the town centre. We left him at Abbott Hall to get a prime spot for the actual switch on. Whilst waiting we saw the cutest ever Christmas puppy:

 

 

Lakeland radio put on entertainment from local acts including Steven Hall who was a finalist in Britain's Got Talent last year. He performed a Christmas routine for us all:

 

 

There wa also singing from winners of our local star search competiton and the school choir of the year. Much to the audience amusement the power went of just as the switch was due to be flicked! Luckily we had our own illuminations:

 

 

It was a fun afternoon and not even a shower of rain dampened our fun. We truly know that it's not long to Christmas now so I'd better start getting organised...