Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Fun Facts about Finland

View from a KLM aircraft flying over Finland
I must admit, when I travelled to Finland recently, I knew very little about it. I assumed, being very naive in such matters, that as it was in Europe it would be a little bit familiar, that we would have things in common and it wouldn't feel like too far from home. But it turns out it is further than I thought, 1598 miles to be precise, and there are quite a few differences that I hadn't expected, including a very different landscape, made up of better snow than we get here in the UK! If you've ever wondered what's different about Finland, I have the answers. Enjoy our fun facts and fascinating findings, full of Finnish flavour!
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Friday, 20 April 2018

All the Reasons not to Share your Child's Details Online.

A child in school uniform, with a yellow star over the logo. By details, I mean full name, full birth-date, school, family members, or location, which can include photos with your house or car in the background, or any other identifying features which could pinpoint exactly where he or she lives. Before you think I've gone internet-safety crazy like some kind of social media nosy-neighbour, I promise I will explain, and if you have ever tagged a photo of your child with their full name, which also includes the logo on their school jumper, please take a moment to read. I really would appreciate it, because this is something that really worries me and, each to their own, but I would love it if you could make sure you are aware of these security concerns first.
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Thursday, 19 April 2018

Win a Power Action Wonder Woman Doll

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The Band Musical Theatre Review - A Fantastic Nostalgic Show

Take me back, take me back, to where I used to be... 
I have been to quite a few Bristol Hippodrome productions as a reviewer, but this one was a bit different. I was a huge Take That fan in my youth and I was anticipating a walk down memory lane, experiencing all the songs and dance moves I remembered from my dim and distant past. It certainly didn't disappoint on that score, but there was so much more to it. This is the story of how I ended up watching what could have been part of my own life story unfold on stage, in the hilarious and touching tale that is The Band Musical.
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Sunday, 8 April 2018

Reima Review and the Story Behind #MillionHoursofJoy

I may have mentioned, once or twice, the fantastic press trip I attended recently to Finnish Lapland, with our friends from Reima as part of the #millionhoursofjoy campaign. As well as being brilliant, it was also the perfect opportunity to learn more about the brand and put their specialist performance kidswear through its paces. I've been looking forward to writing this post, as I have never been in a position to write such a thorough, comprehensive review before. Read on to find out how Reima's clothing range stood up to mountain night-hikes in -19C temperatures and lots of snow, as well as the bigger picture from a brand leading the way in encouraging children to be more active all over the world.
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Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Activision's Live Stream and Spyro - A Huge Letdown

Spyro Graphic with Title OverlaidLD is very interested in video games. Not just playing them, but also learning about them, reading, researching, and anticipating new releases. Activision announced a livestream, promising to reveal details of a new release, which he was hoping against hope would be Spyro, because he had been waiting for news for a very long time. It mattered to him, and he was so excited about the release finally being confirmed, that I thought it would be fun to see the announcement live, so I let him watch the livestream, which went on til 2am UK time. Despite many promises, though, they actually announced nothing, leading to anger and disappointment for those who had put themselves out and had their time wasted.
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Monday, 2 April 2018

Siblings with a Large Age Gap - Pros and Cons

Brother and sister, with title overlaid
Not so long ago, it seemed almost expected to have children close together and it was common to have two or three siblings just one or two classes apart at primary school. These days, times have changed and advances in fertility treatment, blended families, and career choices have led to more diverse family units. There are many advantages to having children with a larger age gap, such as spreading out the costs of childcare, school uniform, trips, etc. There are also drawbacks, though. If you are considering spacing out your offspring, here is everything I’ve learned from having children ten years apart.
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Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Finnish Lapland with Reima - Diary of our Trip Part 2

Boy with skis on a ski slope with title overlaid.
I've spent the last few days sorting through the 748 photos we took during our 6 day visit to the fantastic Ruka Ski Resort in Kuusamo, Finnish Lapland, courtesy of the brilliant children's ski wear brand Reima and their #MillionHoursofJoy Kidventure campaign. There were so many amazing things to see and do, that I'm amazed we stopped there, and didn't have a few thousand photos to bring home! Part 2 of our diary follows below, with details of more daily #kidventures and the all-important Northern Lights! If you haven't read it yet, you can find Finnish Lapland Kidventures - Part 1 by clicking the link.
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Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Finnish Lapland with Reima - A Diary of our Trip Part 1

Boy in ski attire, at Ruka Ski Resort
I have been uncharacteristically quiet on the blog and social media this week and there is a very good reason why. We have just returned from the trip of a lifetime, courtesy of the brilliant Finnish outdoor children's clothing brand Reima. I've worked with Reima on product reviews before and L is especially fond of their clothes. Not to say that he is fussy, but comfort is a VERY big deal to him and we both appreciate that he can wear their clothes and stay warm without complaining! So, how did it all happen and where did it end? Read on to find out how Finnish Lapland became more than just a dream and what happened on our trip.
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Thursday, 8 March 2018

Toby Carvery, Almondsbury - Review

Front view of the Toby Carvery at Almondsbury
Considering how close we are to a Toby Carvery, it's quite surprising that we've never been. I'd heard good things about it and driven past many times, so when I was asked if I'd like to review the menu and newly refurbished interior, in return for a free meal, I jumped at the chance. As always, the meal was offered as compensation for my time in writing this review and does not affect my opinions. I have actually booked a table for tomorrow that I'm paying for, because my husband wants to go, now I've told him how good it was. You will also find that this review contains lots of photos of the lovely food and decor and the camera never lies!
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Tuesday, 27 February 2018

30 Last Minute Easy World Book Day Ideas for Boys

Pile of books, with title overlaid. When mine were younger, I always found costumes for boys much harder to think of and it got harder every year to think of something different. So, if you had no idea it was World Book Day, didn't get the letter, or are just generally really busy, here are some last minute World Book Day costumes for boys that should get you out of trouble. They can hopefully be created from items you already have at home, just pick the one that suits what you can find. Don't worry if they haven't read the book, it's a great opportunity to learn a new story and all the costumes come from either classic children's books or the top 100 children's book list. 
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25 Last Minute World Book Day Ideas for Girls

Fairy tale book and crown with title overlaid
If, like, me, you are prone to leaving things to the last minute, or, you just don't have a lot of spare time, you might be in search of easy, quick, World Book day costume ideas. Here are the easiest costumes I could think of for girls, hopefully using items you will already have at home. You may not be able to do all of them, the idea is to pick one that suits what you have in your house. If they don't know the book, then start reading, quick! It's a great opportunity to learn something new, and all the books I chose are either children's classics or from the top 100 children's book list. The costumes are meant to be easy, not perfect, but they should get you out of trouble!
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Friday, 23 February 2018

What's in My Make Up Bag

Make up bag, with products, and title overlaid
Thanks to Lauren from Scrapbook Lives for tagging me in her post, asking what's in my make up bag. I was really keen to take part, since I've only recently started wearing make up more often. I used to only wear it for evenings out, but since hitting 30ish, plus VAT, I am finding I resemble the unfortunate victim of a Miss Marple episode, if I don't make at least a bit of an effort. So this post features the products I love enough to give them their own bag. In most cases, it's because they are great products, but there's at least one that I only keep in there for the name. Welcome to the shallow world of my make up bag!
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Thursday, 22 February 2018

Flooring Options for a Family Home

Title Text on a Wood Floor Background
I have a dilemma. We really need to update our home interior, which includes replacing our downstairs carpet, but we can't decide what with, and it's getting more and more threadbare by the day. I would love to try wood flooring, as I am fed up with trying to keep the thoroughfare between the kitchen and the dining table clean, but the husband isn't keen. I wondered if other people have this issue too, so thought I would set out the pros and cons of different flooring types, to try to help me decide, and maybe help out anyone else who's undecided too. So here it is, my guide to modern flooring for a family home and what I like about them all!
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Wednesday, 21 February 2018

An Easy Cupcake Recipe that Saved the Day

Decorated cupcakes with title overlaid.
Who would have thought an innocent cake could cause so much trouble? It all started when The Husband innocently suggested he would make a cake to take into work, like he has done many times before. Except he forgot that this day was stock take, which involves 25 people, more than twice the usual cake-consumers. One cake was never going to be enough. What he didn't realise was, when you increase the volume of cake, the potential for disaster increases too. Here's what happened next, and how a decent fool-proof cupcake recipe can always put things right. Save this one for when you need your cakes to turn out right the first time!
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Friday, 16 February 2018

Is Autism Even Real?

Word cloud question mark with title around it. Anyone who knows me at all, particularly if you've read my Awesome Autism post, will realise pretty quickly that this is an ironic title, not something I personally believe, or have even considered. It is, however, something I hear a lot, so I would like to take this opportunity to explain why, in my view, the title above is a really stupid question. This will be based on observation and experience, which, in fairness, is something people really ought to rely on, before making silly statements that are likely to cause upset and distress to others, instead of just letting any old garbage fall out of their open mouths. Is Autism even real? Let the ranting begin.
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Monday, 12 February 2018

No School Attendance Policy will Prevent Childhood Illness

Pencil and sharpenings with text overlaid
School absence is a subject that comes up a lot these days. It's a society-wide issue, for many reasons and is often a subject of media scrutiny. It can be to blame for everything from criminal activity to unemployment statistics and, whilst I am not denying it's an issue, I'm really starting to think Ofsted have got it a bit wrong. To be clear, I fully support the need for children to be in school, but there are always going to be issues that cause a child to be absent, such as illness, and this is partly what I want to focus on. I realise holidays in term time are another issue, but that is a big enough issue for a whole new post!
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Thursday, 8 February 2018

House Cleaning: Budget Tricks and Short Cuts!

Rubber gloved hand cleaning a kitchen sinkI do love a good old fashioned housewifely remedy for a tricky cleaning task. In our current economy, you can really save a lot of money by having a few household staples in your cupboard for tackling a variety of cleaning tasks. Sometimes, even if you are really short of cash and everything is looking a bit tired and dated, a good spring clean can make you feel so much better and give your home a much needed lift. It's also much better for the environment and your health too. Everyone would love a sparkly clean home, but no one once the bleach smell and rough hands that often comes with it. 
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Tuesday, 30 January 2018

What Walking Stick Users Want You to Know

Penguins with walking sticks and top hats. Title overlaid.
When you have a hidden illness, you get used to people not realising that there's anything wrong, so when you are out and about, there can be a lot of tutting and general impatience. Recently though, I've thrown vanity to the wind and started using a stick sometimes. I found it on a camping website and it didn't look too much like a walking stick, more like a hiking aid, so I thought I would give it a try and it's bliss. It means I can walk for longer with less pain, or go out when I wouldn't normally be able to. I have been surprised by people's reactions though. Most are considerate, but some seem oblivious to the limitations of the stick user. 
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Wednesday, 24 January 2018

What to Pack for a Lapland Holiday

Skidoo on a snowy landscape with title overlaid. Now that Christmas has come and gone, our holiday to Lapland is fast approaching. As the rest of the country are despairing at the horrible British weather and planning, or hoping for, a trip somewhere hot and sunny, we are very much looking forward to 'real snow' and sleigh rides in Ruka, Finland. This does, however, pose a little problem; I have absolutely no idea what to pack. I've never been on a winter adventure holiday before, and I was lucky enough to win this one, so I'm not likely to go again. I need to know what to buy and, more importantly, what I won't need, so that I can save money and vital packing space for the trip and this was the question I posed to a group of previous Lapland adventurers.
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Thursday, 18 January 2018

6 Books to Help Children with Anxiety

Boy sitting on the pavement, engrossed in a book.
Anxiety has become a lot more recognised in children in recent years and it's really not surprising, with everything they are expected to cope with these days. From school SATs tests, and the new, more demanding curriculum, to social media peer pressure, childhood can have a lot of obstacles to negotiate. Children, like adults can become anxious or stressed for many reasons and it isn't always the result of an underlying condition. It could be something they are worried about, or changes they are finding hard to cope with. Books can provide reassurance, as well as open the doors to talking about worries, even for little ones. These books are all recommended by parents. 
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Win a Copy of The Children's Meditations in my Heart

The Children's Meditations in my Heart book, resting on a bench.
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Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Blogging versus Blagging: The Social Influencer Debate

Part of a keyboard and plant pot on a pink desk. title overlaid. Sometimes it's a struggle to explain your job, when you make money from writing a blog. I started blogging in 2012 and my blog was, and still is, something I wanted to be proud of and hoped might bring value to others. The fact that people pay for ads and some of the content is a happy bonus, particularly as my health has worsened, I am grateful to be able to earn money doing something I love. The beauty of blogging, Instagramming, YouTubing, etc, is that you can make money out of something you enjoy. There are no barriers, there is an audience out there for everyone and that's a wonderful thing, so why are some people so negative about it
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Monday, 15 January 2018

Top Ten Tips for Sensory Issues and Fussy Eating Phases

Boy with Bread SticksOriginally posted in 2014, this is one of the posts I get asked about most often. Since I wrote it, I've found out a lot more about the sensory issues that can affect children and have come to realise that, regardless of where, if at all, they land on the autism spectrum, or what other issues they may have, they can still feel anxious around food, so it's really important not to make it worse. As I mentioned, this post was originally written some time ago, before I was as aware of sensory issues as I am now. I've updated it a bit, but, whether it turns out to be part of a wider issue, or simply a phase, I hope these tips, from myself and other bloggers, will help.
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Saturday, 13 January 2018

Plus Size Beachwear Inspiration

I got brave last year and started going to my local swimming pool. This inspired my recent post Plus Size Swimwear Inspiration, where I talked about confidence-boosting swimwear, to assist those New Year's resolutions and get even the most self-conscious swimmer back in the water. The post, and subsequent comments, got me thinking; why shouldn't we take advantage of these cleverly designed advances in swimwear and extend it to the beach? Instead of the usual New Year's diets, this could be the year to embrace the body you have and unleash a new found confidence on the beach this summer.
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Friday, 12 January 2018

What Was in my Ladies Lucky Box from Approved Food

Assorted cosmetics with title overlaid.
Approved Food have been around for quite a few years now and I have always liked the idea. The basic principle is simple; in this country we throw away a lot of food unnecessarily and Approved Food sought to change that, by sourcing those foods that might have passed their 'Best Before' date, but were still perfectly fit to eat, and selling them on to consumers at insanely reduced prices. Fast forward almost ten years and they have branched out into other areas, including cosmetics. I thought I would what was in the Ladies Lucky Box with you, as I was really impressed with what I received. I bought this myself, alongside my usual food order.
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Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Plus Size Swimwear Inspiration

Selection of Plus Size costume ideas, with title text overlaidI've often wondered if plus-size is a state of mind. Not literally, of course, you can't deny what clothes size you are, unless you have a lot of free time and a good pair of scissors. However, the actual concept and subsequent stigma around clothing for the curvier lady is a different matter. I've started swimming recently, and before that I used to do Aquafit. During this time, I've seen a number of really lovely swimwear, containing, what would probably be described as, bigger ladies. Some of them much bigger, but they look great and have an air of confidence that made me wonder if perhaps it's time to stop worrying about what size we are, and start making the most of what we have. 
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Thursday, 4 January 2018

Help Hannah's Head Shave!

My friend Hannah is losing her hair. Not through stress, or to relive the skinhead days of the 80's, but for a very good reason. Like me, she is a previous supporter of The Little Princess Trust, donating her hair to make wigs for children, but this time, she is going a bit further. As Hannah is one of life's lovely people, who is always the first to offer support or help to others, I thought it would be really nice to get behind her and share her story in the hope of raising more publicity, and hopefully more money, for a very worthwhile cause. I would really appreciate it if you would read on to find out all about Hannah, her mum and the fate of her lovely hair. 
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2017 A Year in Review

Rylan and myself at the This Morning StudiosI am convinced as I get older, that time goes more and more quickly. I find that the year starts off slowly enough, full of promise and good intentions, but once we get to the summer holidays, it suddenly speeds up. We try to cram in as much fun and adventure as we can into the holidays, wringing out the last remnants of summer for as long as possible, but once everyone is back at school, Christmas starts creeping in  and then *boom* I'm sitting here writing this post! This is one of the great things about blogging. though, I can look back over the year and remind myself that we did do a lot of fun stuff along the way. This is 2017, our year in review. 
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