Monday 31 October 2011

Haba Mums Club: Knuckling Knights

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There is always great excitement in our house when the latest Haba Ambassador's parcel arrives! My children and I have really come to love the Haba brand toys. They always have to lay claim to whichever toy in the parcel they believe is theirs. On this occasion my nearly 5 year old son knew that the Knuckling Knights game (RRP £12.99) was definitely his.

There is a little bit of construction needed to put the game together as you have a tower which slots into the board and a trapdoor which slides out. They are all made of tough cardboard (although my son managed to tear the folding bit of the tower slightly) with great graphics on them. The game board also has a couple of extra holes in it for catching the knights:

The game was designed by a 7 year old boy called Benjamin and is therefore pretty simple to pick up and play. Each player has a different set of wooden knights and they take it in turns to roll the dice. There are 3 options on the dice:

  • 1 - place one knight in the tower
  • 2 - place two knights in the tower
  • Door - open the trapdoor

It is nice and easy to understand even for a young child as the game is for ages 4 to 99!

My son's favourite part of the game was pulling out the trapdoor and making the knights tumble down:

Some will fall down the holes but others can be returned to the players. The person who opened the trapdoor gets to capture one each of their opponents knights that are left on the board. The rest are returned to each player. There is a way to rescue a knight back from your opponent with a little rhyme when you roll a door but the tower is empty.

A round ends when a player doesn't have enough knights left to put in the tower to fulfil their dice roll. The player or players with the most knights left are awarded a coin. The game then restarts and carries on until one player has won 2 coins and is overall winner.

We liked this game as it was quick to set up and easy to learn how to play. It was also quite a short game to play so didn't test the patience of my young son too much. He was keen to play the game lots of times so I'm sure we will get lots of use out of it.

Saturday 29 October 2011

Saturday Review: Lite Sprites

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My daughter's face was a picture when she opened an unassuming brown box and found this selection of girlie delights inside:

They are part of a new range of toys called Lite Sprites which appeal to girls aged 4-8 with fairies, music and "magic" in the land of Lite-Topia. The Tree of Lite (RRP £39.99) is the main playset of the range. It has points to hang 4 sprites from as well as playing music, lighting up and a moving elevator amongst its features. My children took great delight in getting this to spin around and interact with the other parts of the set.

Tree of Lite with Sprites

The main sprite is Prisma and she comes with a Lite Wand (RRP £29.99) which contains 10 different light colours which it can pass on to the Tree and the Sprites. We all had fun getting it to add other colours to its library through a sensor on its base. They can then be transferred to the Sprites. There were other games to play with the wand too but the colour change was the favourite.

Lite Wand in action
There are 3 other "nice" sprites Astra, Meadow and Brooke. Each of these has her own original colour and platform to sit on. The colours can be swapped between them using a little switch. The "mischievous sprite is Bleak she can steal the colours out of the the sprites and tree and turns them white! Each of these comes separately at a recommend price of £14.99. 

Both my daughter and my 4 year old son had great fun playing with the Lite Sprites. They played with them so much I had to move them to the bedroom as the music was constantly on! I am sure that lots of little girls will be asking Santa for some of these in their stockings this Christmas... For real enthusiasts there are more little playsets which can be bought to connect to the Tree of Lite. 

Friday 28 October 2011

#FlashbackFriday: Brownies and Guides

There is a real treasure trove of photographs of me as a child that I've found on my mum's computer. Looking back its hard to imagine that I was ever that age but amazing how much I looked like my daughter.

Back in the 1970s things were more traditional than they are today so as a girl I joined  Brownies. I have to say that modern uniforms are a vast improvement on what we wore then:

My daughter very kindly said I looked like a coconut! I must have just taken my promise for the photo as I didn't have all the badges on my arm that I collected at the 3 Brownie packs I was in. I can remember cooking macaroni cheese for my cooking badge. Lots and lots of fun at indoor camps and I'm sure the skills I learned then have been useful throughout my life.

Then it was onwards and I joined the Girl Guides:

That looks like a Remembrance Day photo as I'm wearing a poppy. We were made of tougher stuff then as we weren't allowed to wear a coat over the uniform even in November! Another four years of fun with proper camping and plenty of badges earned.

I must have enjoyed it as I then carried on into Ranger Guides which was a combined unit with the Venture Scouts. Lots more freedom at this level and we did crazy things like the Tour de Trigs were we attempted to walk 50 miles in 24 hours (tried twice and failed both times!). There were plenty of community projects such as painting the milestones around Beaconsfield too. 

My Guiding career ended with a stint as a Young Leader to my old Brownie pack. Good fun being a Snowy Owl but I never carried on after I went to university. My daughter decided to be a Beaver and not a Rainbow and she is now about to take her promise as a Cub. I am glad that she has taken part in a uniformed organisation and hope she has as much fun as I did and learns some useful skills along the way. 

Thursday 27 October 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful XVIII ( #R2BC )

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

It's the school holidays so normally I'd been tearing my hair out but instead I've got lots to smile about:

1) Bang Goes the Theory Live

Fab family day out! For more read Bang.

2) Cycling

After tantrums and tears my daughter has finally cracked riding her bike:

Shame a few days later her tyre perished and we are waiting for it to be replaced... Her little brother has been measured up for his first real bike for his 5th birthday - he needs a 7-9 year old bike already! I have been lent my dad's old bike so hopefully we will all be cycling around together soon....

3) Family Days Out in Cumbria

The weather hasn't been too awful so we have managed a few days out this week to explore the beautiful county of Cumbria. First of all we went up to near Allonby to meet my Blipfoto friends. 

Then yesterday my parents drove us over to Grizedale Forest for a family walk through this lovely forest. With lots of sculptures to spot on our 3.5 mile walk it kept us all entertained for the day.

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Wednesday 26 October 2011

#TheGallery: Faces

A lovely topic from Tara this week with Faces plus a chance to win a digital photo frame! Here are my contributions.

First up my children from back in August 2009:

They are sitting on a tree branch in Alexandra Park, Hastings. My daughter then aged 5 was taking very good care of her little brother who wasn't quite 3. We had just become a family of 3 and my daughter was especially caring towards both her brother and me - shame the sibling effect has worn off now! I love them both so very much

Then my granny and my daughter:

This was taken on my granny's 98th birthday last November. It was lovely to see how close my then 7 year old was to her great granny. Unfortunately Granny died at the beginning of the year so as we approach what would have been her 99th birthday next month there will be a few tears. You maybe able to see that my daughter has inherited the family eyebrows that passed down from my granny!

That's it from me for this week. Please check the links to see all the other entries!

Tuesday 25 October 2011

DVD Review: Peppa Pig International Day and Other Stories

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Yesterday (24th October) saw the release of the 15th volume of Peppa Pig DVDs with International Day and Other Stories this has an RRP of £12.99 but is available on the web site for £8.99 at the minute.

This is a great DVD for Peppa Pig fans with a total of 12 episodes:

  • International Day
  • Grampy Rabbit's Boatyard
  • Shake Rattle and Bang
  • Pottery
  • Mr Fox's Van
  • Biggest Puddle in the World
  • Chatterbox
  • Chloe's Big Friends
  • Edmond Elephant's Birthday
  • Gym Class
  • Paper Aeroplanes (bonus episode)

My 4 year old son sat transfixed as I hit the Play All option on the menu and let 53 minutes of Peppa Pig fun commence. I did pause after a couple of episodes but many parents will love the fact that their children have a safe, educational entertainment for their children for nearly an hour. The menu also had an option to choose one episode or the Shuffle. 

I think this Shuffle is a great idea as the DVD starts playing the whole set in random order. Brilliant for when your child wants their favourite DVD over and over again but the grown up doesn't want to listen to everything in exactly the same order again! I for one quite enjoy an episode or two of Peppa Pig and I'm sure this will be a big hit.

Monday 24 October 2011

Recipe for Half Term Cumbrian Fun

1) Take a road trip to see friends

Jump in the car and head north through Windermere, Ambleside, Grasmere, skirt Keswick and head towards the Solway coast near Allonby

2) Bring homemade cakes to share

3) Meet some friendly goats

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4) Go to the beach at Allonby with the lovely Chloe

Throw sticks in the waves for her to catch and enjoy the beautiful beach:

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Then have ice creams from the local ice cream parlour - delicious!

5) Share a relaxed lunch 

Everyone bringing a contribution to share around the kitchen table. Made for a really interesting mix from potted shrimp, to pizza, to houmous, to cocktail sausages...

6) Have a leisurely drive home

Take time on the return journey to stop and photograph the things that caught your eye on the way up:

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Saturday 22 October 2011

Bang Goes the Theory Roadshow

The kids and I were very lucky and got tickets in the draw for the Bang Goes the Theory roadshow in Manchester today. My daughter and I are big fans of this science show so there was much excitement on nearing the venue:

There was quite a wait before the doors opened but once in there was so much hands on activity for children and adults:

The above selection included:
  • painting with maggots
  • using microscopes to look at water samples
  • sniffing good and bad smells
  • blowing bubbles into a box which contained dry ice
  • using a green screen to forecast the weather
  • balancing a beach ball on a jet of air

During the 3 hour session there were 3 stage demonstrations from the usual presenters: Dallas Campbell, Jem Stansfield and Liz Bowen:

Basically they recreated a few of the experiments they do on the series. There were a lot of bangs in the final session which went down well with all ages in the audience! Of course there was also a degree of audience participation and predictably my daughter managed to get herself chosen to test out Jem's pear drop glue:

She was presented with the 2 blocks still stuck together and autographed by a couple of the presenters!

Altogether a fantastic family fun and educational day out. We all had different favourite bits. My daughter was chuffed to have held the hand of presenter Liz on the way to taking part. My 4 year old wanted to go home and make explosions Mummy! As for me watching my children getting excited by science was just amazing.

Friday 21 October 2011

Friday Book Review: Zio the Hero

Zio the hero is the debut novel of Marc Grimston who has used his experiences as a medieval re-enactor to help him put this novel together. The official book synopsis is:

Robert and his twin brothers Timothy and Michael find themselves accidentally transported into 14th century England where they find a land of dragons, mystery and magic. The King has lost his crown and the boys must help find it or the throne of England will be lost to an evil Baron. With the help of the clumsy but loyal dragon, Zio, their quest takes the boys across the centuries. Will they find the crown, or will the history of England be changed for ever?

The book is aimed at children 8 and over and indeed anyone who enjoys fantasy combined with history. The heroes of the book are all children except for the dragon of the title. It has a dastardly villan, some adults that need to learn a thing or two from the children, a lost treasure, murder and magic which is a recipe for a good book.

As a first novel it took a little bit of getting used to Marc's style but from about half way I found it very hard to put down! There is plenty of action and a few twists to keep you hooked as you go along. I'm not going to give any more away you'll have to read it yourself! There maybe more adventures to come so watch this space...

The book is only available in certain Waterstones stores and had some availability on Amazon. Ask at your local book store to see if they can get you a copy which would make a nice addition to a Christmas stocking...

  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: Upfront Publishing (August 16, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1780350473
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780350479

Thursday 20 October 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful XVII ( #R2BC )

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

So much to be cheerful about this week its hard to know where to start!

1) Daughter's Sleepover

Not only did I survive this but it was a really nice evening. My daughter had invited 2 of the most mature girls in her class so I was very relaxed. We did lots of girlie things together and I even got a decent night's sleep! Wonder when I'll let her repeat the experience...

2) Grown Up Day's Out

Despite horrible weather (sleet, hail and rain!) I had a lovely afternoon at Bowness in Windermere. I'd been advised of a road to park in for free and then my friend and I discovered that the Lakes Christian Centre had a board outside offering:
  • free tea & coffee
  • free toilets
  • free prayers!
As we were in need of somewhere out of the rain we took advantage of the offer and were made very welcome. Afterwards we wandered down to the lake shore but it really wasn't a pleasant place to be:

So time for some browsing through the varied shops before eating lunch at Vinegar Jones' seafood restaurant. Then it got really wet so we hopped from shop to shop before having a final hot drink to defrost. Still a pleasant way to spend a child free afternoon.

3) My son

He may not be being an angel at school but he seems to be soaking up learning. There is a new found enthusiasm for telling us all the letter sounds from the start of objects around us and he is even keen to write his letters. This is what he wrote tonight after school:

4) My daughter

Turning 8 hasn't turned her into a perfect daughter but she does seem to be learning to tone down her tantrums and her attitude (the sticker chart helping here as she doesn't want Nintendo DS being withdrawn!). She has such loving moments and tonight she made me lots of drawings including this one:

5) Work

I had a successful little sale at a baby and toddler group in Lancaster today for my Usborne Books. Lots of enthusiastic mums and grannies buying books. To top it all I got a lovely cuddle with a little baby boy...

6) Birthday Retail Therapy

Thanks to some of the lovely presents I was given last week I was able to get myself a whole new outfit for this new cold weather. So I have a lovely long angora mix tunic from M&S and a new pair of black ankle boots to complete the outfit. That's me smartened up for autumn/winter then!

For more tales of happiness please follow the blog hop:

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Thought for Tuesday

This image and text are doing the rounds on Facebook. I don't know where they originated but Carie Gouldsbrough started this particular viral message:

As a parent of a girl and a boy it really makes me think...

Monday 17 October 2011

Life Circle: Week 2 Planning Ahead

Life Circle

Kate has asked us to think about where we want our lives to move onto after our initial reflective posts. I am going to put some of my thoughts into this post.

5 Years On

That seems like a lifetime away when I think that my son is not yet quite 5 and so will be twice his current age and in Year 5 at school and his big sister in Year 8 at secondary school. I am not wishing my children's lives away but this will give me so much more freedom. This will enable me to have both a more active social life and time for a career.

I would hope to have got myself a decent job or made a success of my own business and moved well away from my reliance on benefits. This would hopefully mean that we could be living in a slightly larger home with more space for us .

By this stage I should have managed to maintain a new healthy weight and be keeping up my levels of fitness. If there was a significant other in my life by this time then it would be the icing on the cake.

1 Year On

This obviously has to be more realistic than the first set of goals! My son will be well established at school and I hope to be working at least 16 hours a week with a regular and steady income. This will have taken me on to tax credits instead of Income Support which is a confidence booster.

My home will finally be completely sorted after the re-shuffles and sorting out all the possessions we have! I would hope that my social life would have extended somewhat and that hopefully my participation in things like the Kendal Passion Play will have introduced me to lots of new people.

By then I should have got my weight down to a healthy slim 14 (I've tried size 12 and didn't like it!) with plenty of exercise for me and the children. 

Click on the logo up the top to find out what everyone else is hoping for.