With less than one hundred days until Christmas (95 to be precise) and the shops filling up with all their Christmas decorations, I have already started my planning for the festive season. Next week I can book our annual trip to Harrod’s Christmas Grotto and slots are already open with Pines and Needles to book your Christmas Tree delivery, so the planning starts now!
I have been looking at Advent Calendars for both Oscar and Archie. They both get a chocolate calendar and a toy advent calendar. Last year they had a Playmobil one and a Lego one, which they loved!
This year there are so many great advent calendars on the market to choose from but here are my favourites;
This one we will be getting for Oscar as he is Smiggle obsessed. It is £25 and has £40+ worth of goodies inside. If you find one of the 25 lucky tickets hidden inside the Calendars you can win a £500 Smiggle shopping spree! These flew off the shelves last year so your best to buy it now and hide it away.
For Archie this Christmas we have got the Schleich 97702 – Wild Life Advent Calendar 2018. He loves animals and whenever we go to the toy shop he always chooses another Schleich animal to add to his growing collection. It is £24.99 And features 24 compartments containing gifts of Schleich Wildlife toys and accessories. He will love it!
LEGO 60155 City Advent Calendar 2017 Construction Toy. Lego sell a variety of different advent calendars all with 24 gifts inside. We had a Lego one last Christmas and Oscar loved it! They start at around £20.
For the creative children Play-Doh and Crayola have a fantastic advent calendar this year. The Crayola 04-6808-U-000 Christmas Advent Calendar Kit is Packed with craft projects, homemade gifts, finger puppets, and colouring activities, this set helps kids get into the spirit of Christmas. It is £19.99. The Play-Doh Advent Calendar is £15 and features 24 hidden surprises. The calendar comes with several small pots of Play-Doh including two glittering colours for a festive touch, with a new addition/accessory to discover every day.
Playmobil Advent Calendar Santas Workshop. Playmobil also sell a variety of advent calendars.Oscar has had this one before and over the 24 days you build up a Santa’s workshop play scene. It’s a really lovely calendar! It is £19.99 and has 106 pieces inside.
This advent calendar would have been my dream as a child! The Barbie advent calendar is £35.00. In the Barbie Advent Calendar as well as Barbie herself over the 24 days it includes everything she needs to be a ballerina, baker, ice skater, pet vet and professional skier. It helps kids to understand different careers while living the magic of opening a present each day! I love this one!
This is the perfect advent calendar for your little car lover! It is around £19.99 and Contains 8 different Hot Wheels vehicles, plus stickers and surprise accessories. Hot Wheels Advent Calendar with Mini Cars Toy Mattel
The Happyland advent calendar is perfect for the younger children from 18 months. It is £25 and as you can see comes with lots of toys inside to make up the Christmas play set. It’s very cute!
So these are my advent favourites for Christmas 2018! I hope you enjoyed the post and maybe have got some inspiration for your little one’s calendar this year. Expect lot’s of Christmas posts coming your way soon!
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Yesterday we got the train into London up to Westminster to go to the Sea Life London Aquarium on the South Bank with my parents. It’s in a great location surrounded by other attractions such as The London Eye, Shrek’s Adventure and The London Dungeon plus loads of lovely restaurants. The South Bank is always such a fun place to visit with amazing street entertainers and musicians.
We arrived at around 11am and had we were booked in on one of their new ‘Behind The Scenes Tours’ at 11.30am so we made our way to -2 in the left and started our Sea Life adventure. Oscar and Archie also had a Mission Pack each on a lanyard (don’t forget to get your Sea Life pop badge) and contains all you need to be Junior Ranger. It includes Ranger accessories, a pencil, magnifying glass, Shark height chart, Activity book and Ranger Cards. Within the explorer book are different missions to complete on your way around the aquarium, these are also marked around the aquarium so you don’t miss them. The Mission Packs are a great way of getting children to really engage with the fishes and read all the information and learn as much as possible. Also with the rest of the bits in the pack, learning can continue at home. Each Mission Pack is £4.
The aquarium is so well laid out with plenty of space to manoeuvre a pushchair or a wheelchair. Each tank has information for the respective animals inside. Oscar was fascinated by the sea urchins and how they move and the newborn tank had the cutest smallest starfish I have ever seen. One of my favourite exhibits has always been the Ray pool, I just love how elegant they are gliding around the pool. The tank is huge and you can get a great view of them beneath the water too.
We then met our Behind The Scenes guide Dom at the big sign located by the Ray Pool and then were taken through a staff door into the workings behind the aquarium. In one huge room there are so many different species. Some that can’t be exhibited as they are so sensitive to light and sound, some that are in breeding programmes and some that have been rescued. Listening to Dom it was unbelievable to hear that in the last 30 years we have lost half of the World’s Coral and seeing what organisations like Sea Life are doing to help the situation is marvellous. The Behind The Scenes tour is a really informative way of seeing just how much hard work goes on at aquariums like this and how much they are doing to save our planet! My favourite thing I learned on the tour was how dangerous two of the smallest animals were; The Mantis shrimp has such a punch on it it’s like being shot. They move up to 23 metres per second and accelerate faster than a bullet! The other was a Scorpion Fish, these are found in the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean. They blend in with their natural surroundings and if you stepped on one the venomous spines would likely kill you. To go on the Behind The Scenes tour it is £8 each or £7.20 if you book online beforehand.
Afterwards we visited the rock pool where you can touch a few of the animals. As the boys had their Mission Packs on they were also given game cards to take home. Opposite the rock pools is the huge central tank that can be seen from all three floors with the sharks in it, amongst other fishes and turtles. The turtle in the tank is absolutely huge! You can then walk through the tank tunnel to get really up close to the animals.
We then went through the Rainforest Adventure, which has everything from piranhas to poisonous dart frogs. If you dare you can even put your hand in a ‘Piranhas’ mouth! We found out on our behind the scenes tour that in the rain forest there is a type of Piranha that is vegetarian and has human like teeth so they can eat nuts and fruit that fall into the water from the trees.
Next up was the penguins. They are just so adorable, some huddling together others were diving in and out of the water. There is a viewing globe where you can go in and be amongst the penguins.
On the top floor there is a shark cage that you can get a great view of the sharks in. Sea Life also now offer an amazing experience from £130 where you can swim with the sharks. You get to have a 15 minute snorkel with magnificent sharks including Sand Tiger Sharks, Grey Reef Sharks and Black Tip Reef Sharks. Oscar is desperate to this so we will bring him back so he can have ago. All participants have to be 1.3 metres tall or above. If your feeling really brave you can even propose under the sea!
We then went through the Jelly Fish section. They are so amazing to watch. I found it fascinating that Jelly Fish have no brain or heart. The biggest ever recorded Jelly Fish was a whopping 37 metres! I don’t fancy being stung by one of those!
We had such a lovely day at the Sea Life London Aquarium. There is so much to see and do and more importantly so much to learn about. Oscar and Archie absolutely loved it and its a fantastic day out for the whole family.
Admission ticket prices are £26 but if you purchase online before they are from £21. There are fantastic deals that you can purchase so you can visit Sea Life and other Merlin attractions at a discounted price. For instance you can book Sea Life plus one other attraction, you can choose from The London Dungeon, Madame Tussauds London, Shrek’s Adventure! London and The Coca-Cola London Eye and you then have 90 days to visit again and use your voucher. You can also purchase an annual Merlin Pass from £139 per person which gives you unlimited visits and access to 32 major attractions such as Thorpe Park, Lego Land and many more. You can make a huge saving!
We were gifted entry into the Sea Life London Aquarium but all opinions are honest and my own and we loved it and had a fantastic day!
Yesterday we drove into London as we were invited by Boots Mini Club to come and see their new Autumn/Winter 2018 collection and the Fearne by Fearne Cotton collection exclusively designed by the gorgeous Fearne herself.
When we arrived there was a huge art and craft station for the kids to get creative at and add their own artwork on a lovely jute bag. Whilst Archie and Oscar were decorating their bags I walked around and looked at the new collection of clothes.
I started off in the baby room which was full of warm and cosy items ready to keep you little ones warm as the weather gets colder. So much extra detail has gone into the baby clothes; everything is 100% cotton for extra softness on delicate skin, everything also has nickle-free poppers to prevent any irritation and inside so you never miss a popper out again one is coloured copper, so you know to ‘always start with the copper popper’. So clever! I can’t tell you the amount of times I did poppers up wrong on sleep suits when changing the boys when I was so tired. One collection has little penguins on it which is so cute and the elephant cuddle robe is just adorable and super soft. For baby girls there are pretty dresses and tights sets and for boys lovely dungarees sets. My favourite is the knit dungarees set its so cute. There is also a Mickey and Minnie collection which is 0-24 months, A Wild World collection full of warm, soft hooded jumpers, bright prints and cosy knits. As well as all of your newborn essentials coming soon to Boots Mini Club is a super delicate premature baby range. I couldn’t believe how tiny the clothes were. I spoke to a lady who was representing Bliss Baby Charity about the importance of soft fabrics and velcro fastenings on premature baby clothes. The clothes open fully flat so you can dress your baby carefully. This will be in stores from the 17th of November.
The Toddler range (18 months to 6 years) again is full of beautiful brightly coloured clothes with bold prints and designs. There are lots of hoodies, cardigans, dress and tights combos, cool tshirts, jeans and jeggings. Everything you need to keep your little one layered up and warm over the colder months. Archie loved the water resistant puddle jumpsuits that neatly fold into itself to make a backpack.
Dare I mention it, Christmas! The Christmas collection and occasional wear is gorgeous. Lovely Christmas jumpers, Christmas pyjamas and party wear for the big day. The Christmas Moments collection also has the cutest bits for babies first Christmas; Mr and Mrs Claus all in ones, my first Christmas sets and Christmas jumpers. Everything you need to dress your little ones up over the festive period.
Ok, I have saved the best until last! The Fearne by Fearne Cotton Autumn/Winter 18 collection. I just love it! You can really see Fearne’s cool, quirky and bold personality in her designs and I am very jealous that she has adult versions of some of the pieces, especially the leopard print tracksuit!
Her baby range goes from 0-12 months and everything has bold prints and slogans on it. When she introduced her collection to us she said she wanted to get across creativity in children, fun and positivity. You can see just how much thought has been put into the designs and the way in which Fearne spoke about her pieces you could see how proud she is of her collection.
For boys and girls aged 12-7 years the creativity focus comes across in a cute pencil design dress, cool tshirt designs and slogan tees such as ‘Make Create, Ta-Da.’ The collection just oozes ‘cool’ with double denim combos, gender neutral jeans, leopard prints, animal prints and the most gorgeous girls party dresses and fur coats. It’s super trendy!
The collections are available online and instore now. Everything is reasonably priced and so well made. Head to Boots Mini Club now to get everything you need for your little one’s Autumn/Winter wardrobe now. A word of warning though…. Your kids will be way trendier than you!
Today we drove into London to a really special event hosted by Yellow Zebra Safari’s. If you haven’t heard of Yellow Zebra Safari’s before they are an award-winning luxury and adventure travel company specialising in African Safari’s. Taking Oscar and Archie on Safari has always been on our bucket list and as I have never been on one myself I just can’t wait to go! Taking your family on Safari is a trip of a life time with memories that are made that will last forever. Both our boys absolutely love animals and wherever we go a bag of Schleich animals comes along too. Oscar has said for a couple of years now that he would love to be a Zoo Keeper. So when we were invited to a fun-filled Safari day out I knew the boys would be so excited!
‘The opportunity to see animals in their natural habitat, to watch a herd of elephant walk past their vehicle, to spot a cheetah with its cubs, or listen to a pride of lions roaring at night. It is a magical experience that they will never forget.’
When we arrived the Safari themed room looked amazing. We had been told before hand that we would have a chance to meet some animals today. We met Safari Pete who Oscar and Greg couldn’t stop asking him questions. He knows everything you need to know about animals and safari’s and is a fountain of knowledge. Safari Pete is a wildlife adventurer and conservationist and works closely with the Yellow Zebra Safari team. His stories of his adventures are amazing and his knowledge of animals is amazing.
We were fortunate enough to meet several of Pete’s animals; Gumbo the Toad, Pinchy the Scorpion, Juliet the Barn Owl, two lizards, Boo-Boo the Monitor Lizard, Jay-Z the Crocodile, a snake, Lady Gaga the Tarantula and Steve and Baby Bear the Meerkat’s. Oscar was so lucky and got called up to hold the crocodile. We also got to see the lizards, snake and crocodile catch and eat their prey, which was really amazing. I had never seen this up close before. It’s incredible how quick the crocodile reacts to his prey and how the snake is able to swallow his meal whole.
We then sat down to our Safari themed lunch which was very yummy!
When booking a Family Safari with Yellow Zebra Safari’s you know you are getting the very best of everything. They will recommend to you based on the ages of your children where is best to travel too. Their team is made up entirely of professional safari guides, camp managers and people who were born and raised in Africa so you are getting the best knowledge and advice when designing your perfect trip. For example if you go on to thier website, we are a family of four with Oscar who is 8 and Archie who is 3. Archie being Under 6 they advise to stay somewhere that is malaria free. For us at this time a Safari in South Africa would be perfect for us. The Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands offer epic ‘Big Five’ viewing, while the malaria-free safari reserves of ‘SA’ cater well for families. The accommodation choices all look out of this World, from lodges to hotels there is the perfect stay to choose from for everyone.
When Archie is 6 we can then all go to Kenya which is home to Maasai Mara National Reserve which is the place to visit if you are looking for a safari, super size. In Kenya is a hotel in particular that has been on my bucket list for a few years now and I know the boys will love it. It is called Giraffe Manor, most of the hotel grounds incorporates the Giraffe Centre of the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife and a group of giraffes lives in the Manor’s grounds, they even put their heads through the windows to say hello.
After lunch we got to meet the Meerkat’s again and Oscar and I had one of them on our shoulder. They are Grandad’s favourite animal so he will be very jealous!
Oscar and Archie then got to choose a ceramic animal to paint which was great fun and now has pride of place in the playroom.
We had such a lovely day with Yellow Zebra Safari’s and can’t thank them enough for the wonderful experience the boys had meeting all of the animals and a big thank you to Safari Pete too. I am definitely booking one of his animal parties for Oscar’s next birthday! It was also lovely to catch up with Ruth and her family from Rock ‘N’ Roller Baby Blog.
*This post is in collaboration with Yellow Zebra Safari’s
The internet is funny place! I have laughed out loud over the last few days at what people have written in regards to Kate Middleton leaving hospital with Prince Louis seven hours after giving birth and looking amazing. Good on her!
What was she supposed to do walk out on to the steps of St Mary’s Hospital to face the World’s press looking exhausted, dressed in a comfy tracksuit? I think not.
She looked amazing! Yes she had her stylist and hair and makeup team to help her but I’m sure anyone if they were in her position, under constant scrutiny would do the same. There is no way in the World I would walk out to be photographed by thousands of people and look awful. I’m sure behind the blow-dry, pretty dress and heels she was absolutely knackered and just wanted to go home quietly with her baby out the back door but she can’t, she’s a Princess after all. She does keep it real though, back when she left hospital with Prince George she didn’t try to hide her post baby bump and pretend to have a flat stomach instantly like some celebs do.
When I had Oscar by emergency caesarean section 8 years ago I was horrified when I looked back at the photos at just how terrible I looked. After three days in labour and a c section I wasn’t looking great, haha. I left the hospital the next day, I discharged myself and went home. I am a proactive person and would never stay in hospital longer than I have to. I like to get home and get on with it.
Can’t believe I’m even sharing this photo! Greg looks hot in his scrubs though 😊
So when I had Archie by planned Caesarean section I straightened by hair and did my make up. Yes some might think it’s crazy/not important but it made me feel ten times better! I had Archie at 9.30am and was home by 11am the next day. I was driving after 9 days and felt fine.
I can’t see what the problem is leaving hospital looking and feeling good. She’s setting a good example that you can be a Mum, look after yourself, be proactive and go home and get on with running a house and looking after your children (I know she has a Nanny to help her).
This was the taken when Archie was 2 days old
Good on you Kate, I can imagine the stories of disgust if she had left the hospital looking dreadful!
What do you think?
This week alone I have seen three posts in blogging Facebook groups where friends/family/other School Mum’s have been rude to them about their blogs and sharing their families on the internet. As a blogger I see this, I think most do and what frustrates me the most is that if your not a blogger then you just don’t get it!
You don’t get that as a blogger you can earn bloody good money. Big campaigns can pay thousands of pounds and a lot of bloggers have given up their 9-5 jobs and now blog full time earning way more than they did before.
Some people see it that we are bragging and that makes me laugh too. Most things we share, experiences, holidays etc or when we review products are for others to read before they go and make a purchase or book a holiday. Most people just see it as useful information.
Some bloggers have even thought about giving up and the other people in our blogging community groups always urge them to keep going and ignore the few that ‘just don’t get it’.
Also those type of people say things like, “you get so much free stuff!” It’s not free! In return for a holiday or a day out or a product review work goes on behind the scenes to film and edit a video or write a blog post and make sure the photos are on point. It’s advertising for a brand on our blogs which is no different to them paying for a TV advert or a magazine feature.
Whether you like bloggers or not it’s the future of advertising and a great way of seeing ‘real’ people review a product or a great raw holiday video on YouTube that you can actually see what it’s really like.
As bloggers we can tell the truth, as it’s our blogs we can give you a real review rather than a biased one which helps people to get the truth before making a purchase. To me that can only be a good thing?! If you don’t get blogging and social media that’s fine, but please refrain from commenting on something you know little or nothing about.
Plus if you did understand and chose to try it yourself you would see all the amazing opportunities that come your way, you can work from home around the children and what an amazing blogging community you can become a part of. I personally have had loads of amazing opportunities; from being in television adverts, being a brand ambassador, to getting to review holidays and so much more!
Our Christmas traditions start for us on the 1st of December when Oscar gets home from school and the fairies have brought our Christmas decorations. Our Christmas tree and decorations have always gone up on the 1st of December. When I was little my brother and I always woke up on the 1st to our tree and decorations and I can still remember just how amazing and magical that was and wanted to do the same for our boys. In their bedrooms they have snow globes and Christmas duvets and their stocking ready for the end of their beds on Christmas Eve.
When they wake up on the 1st the boys wake up and our two naughty Elves, Eddie and Ernie are back to stay with us until Christmas Eve and get up to lots of mischief. They bring Oscar and Archie a letter and come through the Elf door which must never be touched as the secret door leads back to Father Christmas so they can let him know how they are behaving. They always bring the boys their advent calender’s too. They each get a chocolate one and a toy one too.
On Monday we are going to see the big man himself at the Harrods Grotto. I always rush to book this in September/October as soon as I get my ‘You can book now’ email. We have been every Christmas since Oscar was born and I love getting the family photo taken every year. After we have been in the grotto Oscar and Archie always get to pick a Christmas tree decoration each and I always buy the Harrods Christmas Bear decoration too. We then walk around to Pizza Express for dinner. The boys love it and we get to see all of the Christmas lights around London on the drive home. Again this is something we did as children, going into London at Christmas to a big department store grotto.
We always put together and decorate a gingerbread house (I buy a kit) nearer to Christmas for everyone to enjoy on Christmas day. I buy loads of sweets and icing and we have great fun in the kitchen making our masterpiece. Its a really cheap and fun activity to do with the kids!
This year I have started a new tradition, a backwards advent. As Oscar is old enough to understand about charity and realises how lucky he is each day of advent we put something in our box each day, whether it be a toy, toiletries or food and on Christmas Eve we will take it to a food bank or charity collection for another family to enjoy at Christmas.
On Christmas Eve we always go to Oscar and Archie’s godparents house and they make pork baps and we sing carols around the piano and the children all play and have a great time. They always have a fantastic 10 ft tree and its just such a lovely house full of Christmas cheer. This is why Oscar wanted to start playing the piano as our friends children had lessons and would play a song each. As Oscar has been having lessons this year he has been practising ‘Jingle Bells’ ready to play for everyone this year. He is really excited! We then go home, the boys bath and get into their pyjamas and then we leave a mince pie and a glass of milk for Father Christmas on their plates they made at a pottery cafe and a carrot outside for Rudolph and then off to bed.
Please comment and share with me your family Christmas traditions!
Last month we were sent the number 1 selling bike seat in the UK and the US, the Weeride Safefront Deluxe Bike Seat. I had recently got a new bike myself as now Oscar has learnt to ride I thought it would be nice to go on family bike rides over the Summer as we have lovely cycling paths by the canal near us.
I got the Weeride Safefront Deluxe Bike Seat out of its box and it is simple and easy to fit on to your bike. It is centre mounted on the bike frame and is seriously sturdy once fitted! The cushions are really padded within the seat to keep your little one nice and comfortable and supported and there is also a padded head rest on the front of the seat too so if you little one nods off on the bike ride they can sleep in comfort, which is a great idea!
The Weeride seat is recommended for children aged from 1-4 years. Once the seat is fitted in seconds you can take it off leaving the main support bar on so you can ride without your child too. You can also slide the seat into several positions on the support bar to make riding as comfortable and as safe for you as possible.
I love that with the Weeride Archie gets a great view of what is going on around us rather than some seats that just show them your back. Also I can easily chat to Archie the whole time and this was especially great on our first bike ride as he kept looking at me for reassurance.
On the seat there is a 5 point safety strap and movable footrests for extra child safety and also stops their legs dangling which could get in the way of you riding.
Overall the Weeride is easy to fit and really easy to use. Cycling is great fun and now we can go out whenever we want as Archie loves being in the seat. I will also be using it during the week as it gets warmer to get fit and I can take Archie with me rather than going to the gym in the evenings.
This post is in collaboration with WeeRide.
Today Archie is 2! I can’t actually believe it, it only seems like a few months ago that he was born. Time flies!
Archie is a real character as so different to how Oscar was at his age. He is a little rascal. If you say ‘no’ to Archie if he does something naughty he laughs at you, takes absolutely no notice and then says “happy, happy, happy.”
He’s a climber and finds it hilarious to empty the entire contents of my kitchen cupboards and as soon as I put everything back, empty them all over again. He is non stop!
He calls Daddy “Nanny” even though he can say Daddy but thinks it’s funny!
He loves playing with Oscar and it’s nice to watch them sit and play properly together.
It is also nice to see that he is starting to make his own friends now at his toddler groups and recognises them straight away and plays with them as soon as he sees them.
Today we are going to my Nanny’s for a little birthday party with family and a few close friends. As Archie loves Teletubbies I have got a teletubbie cake, balloons and decorations.
To celebrate Archie’s 2nd Birthday Little Tikes have kindly given us a Lil Ocean Explorers 3in1 Adventure Course to give away to one of my readers! It is a great toy and can be used from 6 months until 3 years. So enter below and good luck!