Category Archives: Reviews

Preparing to conceive with the AVA bracelet

Are you trying to conceive? Have you heard of the Ava bracelet?  Ava is focused on women’s health.

The Ava bracelet isn’t just for women trying to conceive. It can also be used to help track your cycle as well as being worn during pregnancy for regular monitoring of your body.

The Ava bracelet has got me so excited. You may have recently seen my social media update declaring I am full of positivity and optimism. Ava is one of the reasons why. Conceive

Ava cannot necessarily assist everyone. For example, for women with PCOS, irregular or non-existent cycles Ava cannot fix this. The Ava bracelet assists women with a regular cycle but highlighting their most fertile period. Whilst many products on the market pinpoint the approximate 48 hours within ovulation, Ava does more than this.

Other tests (which I have already tried unsuccessfully this time around) indicate the last 2 days of the fertile window. The Ava bracelet collects physiological data whilst you sleep. Ava then pinpoints a 5 day window, detecting the very beginning of your fertile window.

Ava claim to advise you of “more fertile days than any other method”.  Despite all those years growing up thinking I could fall pregnant easily at any time, it turns out there’s actually only a small window that this can happen.

Who are avawomen.com and what do they stand for?

Ava Women are ridiculously passionate about bringing the Ava brand to the world. The team are spread between a base in San Francisco and their Global headquarters in Switzerland.  They are a group of doctors and scientific researchers, committed to making scientific advancements to better understand the menstrual cycle. In a world where technology plays a huge role in almost every part of our lives, it’s surprising that there hasn’t been many advancements in women’s health tracking. Ava Women hope to change this.

“We don’t just make products, we conduct clinical studies and publish peer-reviewed papers.”  taken from avawomen.com

How does the Ava bracelet work?

While you’re sleeping, Ava’s sensors collect data on nine different physiological parameters. Ava’s algorithm then detects your fertile window, physiological stress level, sleep quality, and more. –  taken from avawomen.com

The data collected each night is synced to your phone and automatically entered into a chart. Gradually you will begin to build a picture of how many hours you sleep (this is useful ammo against hubs if you already have a child),It also monitors your resting pulse rate, skin temperature, breathing rate, and HRV which is short for heart rate variability (basically stress levels).

In order for an adequate amount of data to be collected, you have to wear the bracelet for at least 4 hours each night. The information that Ava measures doesn’t confirm if you are fertile but rather when. It uses the data collected to create an algorithm which recognises when your body is signalling that it is entering the fertile window, and hence at the prime time to conceive.

Set up and using the Ava bracelet.

The Ava bracelet is easy to use and stress free. On receiving the bracelet, it needed to be charged for a minimum of 2 hours. After downloading the Ava app on app store (or Google Play store) I set up my account. It helps if you already know a few details about your cycle such as dates of last period and average cycle length. This is something I already tracked on an app. I then synced the bracelet with my phone. The bracelet is found automatically once bluetooth is enabled.

Each evening before I go to sleep, I put the bracelet on my non dominant arm, just above the wrist bone. It’s a simple buckle strap, not too tight. I’m not aware of it during the night when I’m sleeping. In the morning I remove the bracelet, plug it into a power source and sync it to the app to download the data collected that night.

It’s so simple and easy. You can also join a closed Facebook group (so it’s not visible on your profile) to help you with support and analysing your charts.

Trying to conceive George.

conceive

I’ve always been pretty good at getting my own way. So it kind of pisses me off  utterly frustrates me that when I want a baby, I can’t just have one! I’m so grateful for George and whilst my eight month conception journey to have him is miniscule compared to the struggle of others, I did let it consume me.

I don’t feel the same this time around. I would love so much to have another baby. A baby that I can enjoy minus the post natal depression (or at least with treatment this time). Another chance to use and learn from the mistakes I made the first time around. Maybe the chance to be Mama to a daughter. But mostly because I am SO sure that George will make the most kind, helpful and amazing big brother.

Those who know me know I research the back-end out of everything I do. Queen of Googling. I thought I knew all the tricks. I tried my hardest to not actually “try” to conceive. Knowing that the more you stress over it the less likely it is to happen (or so they say). We both took all the conception vitamins. I stopped drinking alcohol to try to get my body in tip-top condition. I even stopped making social plans. Firstly because I didn’t think I could enjoy myself without a drink (isn’t that sad!), secondly because I was always thinking “I can’t agree to that sponsored walk because what if I’m pregnant by then”.

Legs up the wall, optimal positions, you name it, we did it.  After 7 months, my sister lent me her ovulation monitor. You pee on a stick when it tells you to and when you get the smiley face you go hell for leather and ta da, a baby. And after the first month using this machine, I discovered that in fact I ovulate way after my period tracking app suggested I did.

At the same month we started using the monitor I found out I was 2 to 3 weeks pregnant. I’ve always attributed our success in conception to the ovulation monitor. However it is also the time I took advice from a friend and just stopped caring and started to say yes again. Yes to that holiday, yes to that night out. In the end I was so busy during my pregnancy it was unreal. George was born 9 months later and the rest is history. But this time is a WHOLE different story.

conceive

Trying for a second.

Last year we decided it would be a good time to start trying for a sibling. Since George’s birth, we haven’t used any contraception. so you could say we have always been trying to conceive. Although as most first time parents will know, having a child to care for is contraception in itself. You are way to tired and touched out for that shizzle come the end of the day.

For the first year I was breastfeeding and didn’t have ANY periods. Although it’s not supposed to be a trusted method of contraception, I believe breastfeeding stopped me getting pregnant in the first year. When my periods returned we sometimes used the pulling out method as I was never sure it was right for us to be having another yet. Again, kids this isn’t a safe way to avoid getting pregnant.

So last year I knew I wanted George to be a sibling. I didn’t want a baby too badly just yet, and I wanted to try to fall before I became over the top broody to eliminate the pressure and stress. It wasn’t happening. “Simple” I thought and out came my sister’s ovulation monitor.

3 months down and no smiley face. I went to see the doctor who booked me in for an internal ultrasound to check the health of my ovaries. After suspecting I may be starting early menopause (as the women do in my family), I was relieved to find out I wasn’t. Everything was the level it should be.

Hubs was going to get checked out but then my body started to really play up. I gained three stone taking medication for my migraines. I also have a problem with my hip which is affecting my quality of life.

Long story short, we had to make the sensible choice to halt trying for a baby. I’m under a consultant and physio for my hip and slowly losing weight. We suspect my health will have improved enough by the end of 2018, start of 2019 that we can start trying to conceive again.

Conceive

Now seems the perfect time to start using the Ava bracelet and build up my data within the app. I’m hopeful that when the time comes we will be better informed about the prime time to play the baby making game conceive.

My verdict

Obviously I would love to say that we have successfully conceived using the Ava bracelet…but I haven’t put the data to good use yet. What I will say is if you are looking for an aid to help you better plan your conception journey, then I feel Ava takes the stress out of it. At a RRP of £249 it’s not cheap.

But it’s worth bearing in mind that you can continue to wear it during pregnancy. The app also gives you a pregnancy tracker, giving you weekly insights on what to expect. I’m really excited about the potential this bracelet has for us (in case you hadn’t gathered). I can’t wait to share it with you all!

There may be some of you that thinks this all seems very involved. That you should just let nature take its course. But as someone who doesn’t appear to fall pregnant easily, it’s invaluable to me, as I’m sure it will be to many couples.

If you would like to purchase an Ava bracelet for yourself, you can get £20 off by using this link and the code;

GORGEOUSGSMAMA20

**Disclosure – I received an Ava bracelet in return for this review. Opinions are my own and this does not affect the integrity of this post**

Bing Live Show – a review

Round the corner, not far away, Bing is coming to your local theatre to play.

We are complete Bingster’s in our house. The CBeebies loveable Bunny Bing is a regular on our screens and I have even been known  to take some parenting tips from Flop. Bing actually came to Cbeebies screens the year George was born 2014 making it feel special to us in some way.

The Television show is actually based on books written by Ted Dewan. I found a fab interview with him here, which explains more about his vision for the show and what it should become.

I contacted the press team who were kind enough to not only send tickets to myself, hubs and George for the Bing Live Show but also a fab goody bag. Checkout what was in the goody bag over on our IGTV .

Bing

Details about the show.

Currently touring theatres across the UK, the show is 80 minutes long, including the 15 minute interval. The Bing Live show is touring 60 venues around the UK until April 2019. Tickets prices vary from theatre to theatre.

Bing
Credit Johan Persson – Images Courtesy of Bright Media

Our experience of Bing Live.

The Bing Live show was engaging, exciting and really well produced. I’ve been to a few theatre shows aimed at toddlers now and they can only be described as hilarious carnage! If you have read my previous post “What will my child become?“, you will know that George is the epitome of sensible. He’s able to sit still and watch shows from beginning to end without fidgeting, fussing or complaining he wants to do something else. I’m not bragging, but I forget that this isn’t “the standard norm” (whatever that is) for toddlers.

So whenever we attend a show where the bulk of the audience are toddlers, I’m often in hysterics at how funny it is to be in a room with 100+ toddlers all trying to be kept ship-shape and quiet. Hence the description “hilarious carnage”. With Bing Live , it is anticipated, hell, expected even, that the little ones will roam around, shout, clap, scream. It’s embraced. I think this helps to take the pressure off the adults from trying to maintain the decorum expected of a visit to the theatre.

Bing

As I was saying, at previous theatre shows aimed at this age, the carnage has sometimes been a little distracting and over ridden the show itself. I didn’t find this with the Bing Live show. The volume was somehow magically loud enough to always be able to hear it despite the excitable audience. But it wasn’t excessively loud that it unnerved or upset any of the little ones. I don’t know how they did it but it was really clever.

The narrator gave us a typical countdown to the show starting so our little audience could get excited. George is pretty reserved so it was so lovely to see him anticipating the show starting. He was so excited bless him. As the curtain rose and Bing and Flop entered the stage, we got out first look at how the show was present.

We had already watched the trailer video on Facebook, so we knew the characters were all puppets. The thinking behind this was that the characters could be a relatable size for the children. Not too large they are scary, but not too small you can’t see their expressions. I loved reading more about the Magic Behind the Puppets on the Bing Live site.

Each character was cleverly manoeuvred around the stage using rods attached to the puppeteer’s feet and body. Whilst the puppeteer voiced the characters.

They all sounded more or less the same as the characters on the show, although Bing himself was a little more shrill and not as husky as he is on the show. He was voiced by a female. They all did a fabulous job. I would love to know if their voices are naturally that tone and pitch or if they were enhanced at all.

The live show is literally like watching toddler play and imagine and explore. The characters were as excited to see us as we were them. They then played out before us, their own make-believe theatre. Imagining and dressing up and exploring through singing and dancing.  There were moments the audience were encouraged to participate in the singing and dancing and this was lots of fun. It was also really helpful that the lights went up for these parts of the show.

I don’t want to give away much more except that it’s a great show that appears to be written by people who understand young children and parenthood. Little touches like announcing the interval with Bing declaring he needs a wee and everyone getting all aboard the toilet train. Cue a room full of grown ups asking their child if they need the toilet train, instead of the usual battle to get them to try for a wee. We loved it!

Bing

George’s verdict:

He absolutely loved the show and took his Bing and Sula teddies along to share it with him. When the crowd were asked to join in the singing and dancing, we did this with his teddies instead. He is quite shy to sing or dance out of the comfort of his own home with just us watching so this was the perfect way for him to still take part and enjoy it. Our seats were perfect and he had a great view. His feet were tapping and he couldn’t sit still from excitement. When I asked what his favourite part was, he replied “All of it”

Our local show was held at The Cliffs Pavilion Theatre in Southend-On-Sea, Essex.  It’s not the first time hubs and I visited the Cliffs, but it was the first time we have visited with George and fully explored the theatre grounds. It’s modern, comfortable with air conditioning inside the theatre. There’s plenty of seating inside and outside to relax and enjoy a drink or a snack before the show. Upstairs is a pretty cool and comfortable selection of seating booths. Decorated in a funky seaside print. it’s the perfect place to sit and enjoy the stunning sea views. After the show we took a walk down the steps to the seafront and as the tide had just gone out, we watched lots of tiny crabs making their way back to the water’s edge.

Bing

If you do attend the show, be sure to have a piccie in front of the photo wall. Share it on social media with the hashtag #Bingstar.

Bing

**Disclosure – we were provided with tickets to the show and a goody bag in return for our own review. All opinions are our own and do not affect the integrity of this post **

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Christmas in July – Tomy Toys UK

I recently attended the Tomy Christmas in July Event and it was a really informative and fun day, albeit bizarre when it’s 32 degrees celsius outside. George had great fun testing out all the latest toys. These have either recently been released or shall be available to buy in time for Christmas 2018.

toys

I’m sure most of you have heard of TOMY Toys but how much do your really know about them?

I was lucky enough on the day to listen to a talk from Marketing Lead for Tomy, Tom Ueshima who had travelled over from Japan. He explained how Tomy originated as a Japanese toy manufacturer. After making toys for over 90 years, the company originally manufactured toy aeroplanes.

Whilst Tomy UK was established in 1982, an extension of Takara Tomy in Japan. Tomy is actually ONE of the top FIVE toy companies in the world! I honestly didn’t realise just how much of the market Tomy dominates.

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Fundamentally children and the Good Toy Guide

I was also fortunate to meet Amanda from Fundamentally children who have partnered with Tomy. Fundamentally children endorse products listed in The Good Toy Guide.

The guide can help you choose the right toy, app or product for a child based on age, type or skill they will develop. I’m a big believer in children learning through play. I’ve witnessed it with George. I wasn’t aware of this guide. I heard of it but I didn’t understand how valuable it is.

Fundamentally Children is an organisation dedicated to helping children develop skills through play. 

Their vision is;

To help create a world where children are able to fulfil their potential and develop the skills they need to thrive throughout their lives. whilst enjoying a safe, happy and playful childhood.

Tomy is one of the first brands who have committed to submitting every item in their range to the fundamentally children independent evaluation. The good toy guide are selective about who they work with so this is a big tick for Tomy.

In order to be approved for the guide, a toy has to have 9 out of the 15 marks. The toys are tested by children, observed by play workers. By making this commitment Tomy are opening themselves up to scrutiny.

Some of the things the guide look for are what happens the first 5 minutes after a child receives a toy. Following on, the next half an hour do they get bored? Do they share it with their friends? Do they develop a new skill or learn something new. Fundamentally children also organise in Store play days in toy store Smyths and they also attended this years 3ft festival in Chelmsford, Essex (my local).

Fab toys to look out for.

As we were shown around the games room, we recognised a familiar face from our visit to Kidtropolis back in October last year. George instantly remembered the ladies face and sat down to play one of the new must haves for Christmas 2018, Run-Around-hamster. This is available from Smyths for ages 5+ at the RRP £22.99.

toys

Who needs subbuteo when you have robotic football in the form of Soccerborg! After this years World Cup excitement, we are definitely more hyped than usual for footie games. One controller can control up to 4 robots. Each set comes with 2 robots 2 controllers 2 balls, 2 goals.  Age 6+. Available from Asda and Amazon at the RRP £59.99.

toys

Some of the favs that caught the boys eyes were Stinkbomz . You open the capsule to reveal one of 8 Stinkbomz. Each with their own smell and sounds. None of them were as offensively smelling to me as the name suggests, thankfully. RRP £9.99.

I was also embarrassingly excited to see the Thomas and Friends Big Loader set still being made. I remember playing with this when I was younger with my younger nephew or cousin.  This is available for RRP £34.99 in Smyths, Amazon and Toymaster.

Hubs and George (pictured below), had a blast racing remote control Tractors. Whilst I listened to some of the informative talks on throughout the event, George was really engrossed in playing with the hugely realistic Britains farming toys. The detail and quality was spectacular as the vehicles are a 1:32 scale of the originals. Ranging from £21.99-29.99 they really are a worthy investment for any agricultural enthusiasts.

toys

Before attending the Christmas in July event, I hadn’t realised that Tomy have many sub brands including AquaDoodle and Lamaze. We totally need to upgrade our Aquadoodle that we purchased for George’s 1st birthday.

The new Super Rainbow Deluxe reveals a scene underneath and retails at £24.99 in Smyths, Amazon and Argos. George goes crazy for the Aquadoodle Designer Dress advert when it’s on tele.

toys

Another sub brand of Tomy, Kii-Pix, have developed a smartphone picture printer you can use on the go. It’s the perfect pressie for the tween/teen in your life.

They come in pink, blue and black and work without any batteries, wifi or the need to install an app. I could make great use of one of these. See the Christmas tree montage they created below. Along with the fab sushi art to promote the brand.

toys

Moving on to the baby range. If and when our dreams of having another baby happen I am without a doubt getting some of the more modern products from the Boon range. For George we have our eye on the Frog Pod available from Amazon RRP £21.99.

The Lamaze Spin and Explore garden gym adds a new perspective to tummy time. The centre Ladybird, slowly spins round giving your baby their own little fairground in your front room. RRP £38.99 from Argos.

The Lamaze 4-in-1 play gym evolves into a fun teepee for toddlers if you have children of varying ages. It retails at £69.99 from Debenhams.

I hope you have enjoyed reading all about our day and I hope I will be bringing to you more posts in collaboration with Tomy.

Do you have any of these products? Are there any that catch your eye?

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

Review – In The Night Garden Live Show

** Disclosure- In return for this review, I myself have been provided with tickets to the In The Night Garden showdome tour. All opinions are still honest and my own**

Wow, what can I say! We have just been to see the In The Night Garden Live on their magical showdome tour. Originally we were booked to see the Ninky
Nonk show at 12pm in the special Showdome.

However, the traffic was worse travelling from Essex to Richmond than we had anticipated. We arrived 25 minutes after the 45 minute show had started. Stress!

Luckily I had called the customer service number whilst en route, The automated help line advised that should we be running late, to continue our journey. The help line stated that a member of the team would transfer our tickets to a later show on arrival.

I think for parents this is such a forgiving and helpful service. We all know how unpredictable children can be. A lady in front of me was even rescheduling her tickets for another day as her little one was unwell. It was no trouble for the staff and no extra fee.

showdome
On arrival, a member of staff greeted us at the entrance and gave us several options. We chose to attend the next available show, The Pinky Ponk show. Both shows have all your little ones favourite characters but they just tell a different story.

The show that we saw was ‘Makka Pakka Washes Faces’. This is of course until his sponge gets stuck in Upsy Daisy’s Megaphone (ahhh so many innuendos I’m struggling to contain myself).

showdome

The price of the show ticket also included a show guide worth £7. Inside the guide you will find lyrics to all the In The Night Garden favourites. As well as a story and puzzles for your little one to enjoy. The doors to the Showdome open half an hour prior to the show beginning so this guide is great for entertaining your little one whilst you wait for the show to begin.
showdome
Once inside, the narrator voice from the show gives you a regular countdown of 15 minutes, 3 minutes etcetera until the show starts. This builds the excitement levels even further for little ones as he parents all simultaneously say “ooooh”.
showdome
The show itself is a mix of life-size characters and puppets. As the show starts, it isn’t long before Makka Pakka appears on stage. He was full size and I was wondering how big Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy would be when they appeared as obviously they are much larger than Makka Pakka in the television show.

My perfectionist ponderings were soon answered when Makka Pakka left the stage and Iggle Piggle appeared. Makka Pakka then reappeared as a smaller puppet controlled by 3 people using sticks. It was all very clever.

The rest of the show proceeded to follow Makka Pakka wandering round the Night Garden, ensuring he had washed every characters face with his “dirty sponge” as I like to call it. The crew cleverly incorporated bubbles into the washing routine too which got the little ones excited.
showdome
The Showdome itself adds to the wonderment of the show. With projections around the ceiling above the stage. These include falling flowers, stars and a moving Pinky Ponk. Sadly this is the last year the showdome will be touring. Whilst the show is fab and it will be greatly received in a traditional theatre setting, the showdome made it for me.
showdome
The Showdome contains staggered bench style seating so that everyone has a clear view. We have visited other shows such as Paw Patrol live, where the seating was all on one level on the ground and it was very hard if not impossible to see the stage once a tall Dad came along. I love the show dome set up. It feels like you are entering a magical grotto and a doorway to the night garden itself.

It would be such a shame to miss this experience if your little ones are fans of In The Night Garden. I can 100% recommend it. I literally can’t fault it. The show offered snacks and drinks for sale and these were also a lot more reasonable than other shows we attended. A bottle of Coca Cola was £1.50.

You can also get involved in a “Meet the Character” experience for an added cost. There is merchandise and balloons available to purchase. Whilst you wait for the character experience after the show, there are tables with colouring for the children. And a television showing episodes of In The Night Garden. There’s also buggy parking and a microwave to heat up milk or baby food.

For anyone whose child is feeling overwhelmed during the show, you can step away from the seating area. Just behind the seating area,down the steps you and little one can watch the live show on a TV screen until such time they feel settled enough to return.

To be honest though the live show was as chilled as the television show and George took his shoes off and made himself comfy. We usually watch the TV show as part of our bedtime routine and he definitely felt the relaxing vibes despite it being live.
showdome
Last little mention which is probably totally random but I’ve always been a toilet connoisseur. The toilets are unisex which felt strange but it was lovely. Lovely because every cubicle had a little portable loo seat available as well as steps for hand-washing at every sink.

It’s little touches like this that make you feel valued. It feels like the In The Night Garden Live team understand the struggles parents have each day.

There’s plenty of cubicles and no one has to queue because everyone can go in. Often you find the ladies full with a long queue whilst the men’s is not child friendly and empty. There are also adequate baby changing facilities from what I saw at a quick glance. Baby change is in a separate trailer.

George’s verdict: He won’t actually comment but I know he absolutely loved it. Previous shows we’ve attended he’s been reserved, quiet and a little dubious. The In The Night Garden Live show he was constantly smiling, excited, singing! I think in this case, actions speak louder than words.

My verdict:- I felt like the show was made with parents and children in mind. They understand that sometimes we don’t run on time with kids. It’s not a problem. They understand that sometimes there isn’t always a Mummy and a Daddy around for toilet visits. It’s not a problem.

The organisers seem to understand that younger children potentially get overwhelmed easily. This was reflected in the volume of the show not being too loud. The show was well thought out and evolved quickly to ensure the children didn’t get bored. Yes there was some fidgeting but that’s to be expected of any child that’s asked to sit still for 45 minutes. The showdome set up meant it wasn’t a problem. There was room to have a little wander. I literally cannot fault it.

Go see it. The Showdome is touring and currently in Richmond, London until July 1st 2018. It will then be moving onto Birmingham, before ending the tour in Manchester on 19th August 2018.

Book your tickets via the website In The Night Garden Live

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

**Closed** Review & Giveaway: Cry Babies doll

**Disclosure – We were provided with a Cry Babies doll in return for this review. All opinions are honest and our own**

I’m still new to this giveaway malarkey but I’m really excited to offer you the chance to win two fabulous toys. The second of which being this fab Cry Babies doll. Read on to find out more.

We were recently contacted by IMC Toys and offered two fab toys to review. The first is a review of the bath time dolls, Bloopies which I have written about here. The second being one of the Cry Babies dolls.

Now there’s a funny story to this. If you have been following the series of My Life: The Comedy Sketch show then this is most definitely worthy of a place.

A while back, I received an email form a representative for IMC Toys asking if we would like to review a Cry Babies doll. George sometimes watches the TV channel Tiny Pop, and the advert for these dolls pops up frequently. George has always expressed an interest in these dolls and did the usual ” I want that” chorus every time the advert comes on.

Once I had confirmed the review, I told George we would be getting a baby, a Cry Baby. He looked at my tummy and I explained that “No”, in fact the Cry Babies doll would not be coming from my tummy but via a delivery from the postman.

A few days later when I arrived to collect George from preschool, his key person called me over for a chat. She said she didn’t like to ask but she had to satisfy her curiosity. George had apparently spent the morning telling all the staff that “Mummy has a baby in her tummy and that he will be getting a brother or sister!”

I thought it was hilarious and had to tell all the ladies that actually no, we were going to be receiving a Cry Babies doll not an actual baby. They may be the “cutest baby, is so real” but I’m not ready to birth one!

Back to the Cry Babies and our baby is called Dotty. She is one of three dolls new to the Cry Babies collection as of April 2018. The recommended retail price is £29.99 available from retailers Argos, Amazon, Asda, B&M and Smyths as well as some independent retailers. Again I would be happier if they were around £25.

When we unpacked Dotty, both myself and George were impressed that the packaging was in the form of a car seat. Dotty is dressed in a spotty dog onesie. Her pink hair and eyebrows confused George slightly but he quickly sussed out how to make her cry and make her happy again.

doll

By removing the Cry Babies hood, you will find a screw cap to remove. This allows you to fill the tear compartment in her head with water. Then replace the cap, and the hood if you so wish. The Cry Babies have a switch inside the back of their babygro that allows you to switch them on, off or on try me mode. Once switched on, you squeeze the button on the back of Cry Babies head.

Following this, whenever her dummy is removed, she cries tears and makes a crying and gurgling noise. The noise wasn’t particularly annoying to myself as another mum had suggested to me. I’m very tolerant of noise and it’s not particularly loud. It’s a bonus that she can be switched off if it does become too intense. Our three cats were not as amused, thinking we were way past the wailing baby phase.

The tears are a bit of a tricky one. With tears coming thick and fast it wasn’t long before our Cry Baby Dotty was sitting in a puddle. Be careful where you allow little one to play with this if you don’t want things getting soaked through. We sat her on a tea towel.

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Our verdict:

Mummy’s verdict: The crying noise these dolls make is fairly realistic but other than that I don’t feel a doll who soaks through her clothes with tears whilst sporting pink hair and eyebrows can be described as “the cutest baby, is so real”. That said, I think George was adorable with her. He loved to look after her and put her in a pushchair he has.

George’s verdict: George loved that she cried and taking her dummy out and putting it back in again. Although there was a knack to this and as he is only 3 himself. He struggled at times to push the dummy fully in, which is required to stop her crying. He was so proud of his Cry Baby, he took her in to school for show and tell.

doll

George wasn’t too protective of the idea that she is a baby to be cared for. However and was quick to switch her off if he couldn’t get her dummy in. A lot of this stems from his feelings towards saving batteries though. He was in awe when he saw me rock her and pat her back, noticing that it soothes her without her needing her dummy.

I can imagine these dolls being a helpful tool for any children due to become siblings.

Would we recommend Cry Babies? Most definitely!

IMC Toys Cry Babies and Bloopies Giveaway
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

**Closed** Review & Giveaway – Bloopies bath time doll

**Disclosure – We were provided with a Bloopies bath time doll in return for this review. All opinions are honest and our own**

I’m still new to this giveaway malarkey but I’m really excited to offer you the chance to win two fabulous toys. The first of which being this fab Bloopies bath toy. Read on to find out more.

We were recently contacted by a representative of IMC Toys and offered two fab toys to review. The first being one of the Bloopies bath time dolls.

bath

Bloopies are described by IMC as being;

“…the ultimate underwater friends. They squirt water out of their mouth and snorkel when you press their tummy, and if it’s a bubbly bath they will blow bubbles too! There are six different characters to collect, each with their own cute swimsuit, diving fins and snorkel.”

Checkout the company video;

George was excited to receive our package. We opened the large box which our goodies arrived in (which was a toy in itself). What kid doesn’t love a cardboard box!

bath

We discovered our Bloopie Lovely. In her yellow bathing suit with pink snorkel and fins, she was already kitted out for a bathtime of fun. This was just as well because George couldn’t wait to test her out.

Bloopies can squirt water from their mouth. By holding the Bloopie under the water for a few seconds, her mouth fills with water allowing you to then squirt it out by pressing her tummy. The shape of her mouth did rather comically resemble a person vomiting rather than squirting water. It gave us a chuckle when I told George Lovely was being sick in his bath, complete with Mummy made sound effects of course.

If your little one has a bubble bath, the Bloopies also apparently blow bubbles. We are yet to master this feature. I’m one of those mums that can never get to grips with things. I reckon when Daddy gets a turn at bath time he’ll have that feature cracked in no time.

After filling her mouth with water, you can put on her snorkel to squirt water through the pipe although this was a little harder for smaller hands. George is three and a half. I thought this was a fab feature and something a little bit different to other bath toys.

bath

Her flippers mean you can swim her around in the water and she looks realistically dressed for the occasion. We shall also be taking her along to the swimming pool as George is quite reluctant to go swimming after a bad experience. I’m hoping his Bloopies doll will help ease his anxieties over being in the pool.

Bloopies are available for purchase at many major and independant retailers including Amazon, Smyths, B&M and Asda. The recommended retail price is £14.99, although I have seen them for less.

There are six characters available to purchase, each with their own swimsuit, diving fins and snorkel. The swimsuit isn’t easily removable and despite having a velcro fastening on the back it is sewn together at the top which suggests to me it shouldn’t be removed.

Our verdict:-

Mummy’s verdict – I think that Bloopies are a great bathtime toy and would even be a great addition to pack in our swim bag. I am a tiny bit concerned about the potential for mould growth as with most bath toys. However I make sure we squirt all the water out at the end of each use and place it in the airing cupboard to dry. This is my own, over precautious choice though. I also often place all our bath toys in a soak of sterilising solution to remove any mould. With a recommended retail price of £14.99 (as of April 2018) I would say I’d be happier to pay nearer to £9.99. I shall definitely be buying these as gifts for my friends children and nieces and nephews.

George’s verdict: 

When asked what did you love? George responded;

I  loved that she squirts water and I can swim her in the water.

When I asked him what did he NOT love about his Bloopie he said;

I didn’t love her feet (flippers) because she falls over when you try to stand her up.

bath

If you would like to win your very own Bloopies along with a Cry Babies doll which we’ve also recently reviewed, then checkout our fab giveaway below.

Please read the T’s & C’s. Best of Luck.

IMC Toys Cry Babies and Bloopies Giveaway
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

“We Need To Talk About The Conditions Of My Imprisonment : …and other funny parenting stories”, a book review

** Disclosure – I was sent an electronic copy of the fabulous compilation of parenting stories in return for my honest review. This does not detract from the fact that this book is fucking hilarious and I can’t lie about it!**

I was recently fortunate to be sent a digital copy of the wonderful, “We Need To Talk About The Conditions Of My Imprisonment : …and other funny parenting stories”. This compilation of rib tickling parenting stories was sent to me by the fabulous Susie.

Susie is one of my favourite bloggers over at So Happy In Town . Mrs S.H.I.T as she is known under her blog persona, is a part of this fabulous book along with many other fantastic bloggers from across the U.K, USA and Australia.

parenting stories

With a glass of some yummy cloudy lemonade in hand (it was the middle of the day!), I set about reading some of the most truthfully hilarious 186 pages of my parenting life! When I became pregnant and as the pregnancy progressed, I became rather angry with the world.

Despite researching my heart out over what to expect, this pregnancy malarkey was total BS! Don’t get me wrong, it had its magical and wondrous moments, but my word was it tough! In ways I never thought were possible, my body punished me hourly for making it endure the supposed magic of growing a child.

Cut to once the Georgeous was born and that wondrous magicalness again returned until reality hit. As hubs returned to work after his 2 weeks paternity leave, the shit storm that was now my life hit me. And yes I loved it BUT it wasn’t as other mums had led me to believe.

It was tougher than my spinal surgery which I endured as a teen and spent a year recovering from. Tougher than climbing one of the more difficult paths of Mount Snowdon in Wales as I had done in previous years. Often relentless, overwhelming,intense and sometimes depressing.

I so wish I had a book like this brought to my attention prior to becoming a mama. Now mama to a 3 year old George, it’s easy to relate to. Whilst non parenting types reading it may think you can’t possibly live like this, trust me…you can’t make this stuff up!

This collection of hilarious parenting stories has been compiled by the amazing Michelle Tan.

“Michelle is the absurdist comic writer behind the Facebook persona, Ms. Awesome, Mother Extraordinaire, where she dispenses unsolicited funny advice about surviving parenthood.”

It’ll make you feel human, restore your confidence that you aren’t actually insane and this is in fact life for many parents across the globe even! Most of all it will leave a big, fat smile calorie free on your face. Better than any glass of wine or bar of chocolate.

Get your copy here We Need To Talk About The Conditions Of My Imprisonment…and other funny parenting stories.

Press release :- 

The book will be launched at a public event on Saturday 21st April 2018 at XSCAPE, Yorkshire. There will be activities for children and many of the writers. Families will find solidarity and humour on offer throughout the day. People will be invited to share their experiences of the absurd, surreal and downright funny things about parenting.   We want to spread the message that eating their chocolate in hiding is perfectly normal because some things in life should not be shared.

The Jamymee Rescues – A Daisy Doo and Holly Boo Adventure – A Book Review

**DisclosureWe were gifted a signed copy of “The Jamymee Rescues – A Daisy Doo and Holly Boo Adventure” Written by Dan Cooper and Illustrated by Richard Birch. In return we are providing our honest review of the book, all opinions are our own. **

George is an absolute bookworm of late. He’s always loved stories but just lately he is insistent that you read up to a dozen a day. At his preschool sessions he often sits in the story corner and justs ask the preschool assistants to read book after book. On the subject of preschool, two of his fellow classmates happen to have a very talented Daddy. He’s recently published a children’s book called “The Jamymee Rescues – A Daisy Doo and Holly Boo Adventure”.

The Jamymee Rescues

Here’s the blurb:-

“Daisy Doo and Holly boo are sisters. Not just any old sisters. But best friends who do everything together…even when they are asleep.

You see Daisy Doo and Holly Boo have a secret, a very special secret. Can you keep a secret? Ok then, I’ll tell you what it is. You see when Daisy Doo and Holly Boo get ready for bed they put on their ‘special’ pyjamas called Jamymees! ”

So when all is said and done, our verdict of this book comes down to whether George enjoyed it. The answer to that is…he LOVES it! At 25+ A4 pages, it’s a little longer than our usual stories. Although the book is typically aimed at 4-8 year olds, the story was compelling enough to make George at 3 years old want to know more.

We typically read 3 or 4 pages a night and try and leave it at an appropriate place to continue the following night. This also encourages George to want to go to bed as he is eager to find out what happens next.

The book is full of imagination and wonderment, as the two sisters, along with the help of their talking dogs, transport to Dreamland to rescue a pup in need. The characters are all based upon real life family members of the author Dan, including their rescue dogs. He shares pictures of their real life counterparts on The Jamymee Rescues Facebook page .

We haven’t read many older children’s books so I’m unsure what the standard quota is for pictures vs words ratio. The books we read usually contain a few more pictures but George didn’t seem to mind.

It’s worth looking out for the special fading light button illustrated on the picture pages. The light indicates how long the girls have left before they wake up, and the mission can no longer be completed. A dreamland timer if you will. This made George interact with the book as his suspense of whether the girls would make it in time grew.

I love books that get children involved with an interactive element. I recently read this review of a fab interactive fairy tale. The child has to unlock a password and undertake rock painting as part of the story. Checkout the fab review here by Truly Madly Cuckoo.

Overall this is an engaging read and whilst it is by no means perfect to the trained eye, it is a book your little ones will get excited about again and again.

If you would like to purchase a copy of the book, please message the author Dan via the books facebook page Buy your copy here!

You can commission your own piece from illustrator Richard ‘Woody’ Birch via his page Woody Illustration.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Breakfast and Champagne at The Royal Hotel, and Dr Legba’s Emporium Southend On Sea. *Review*

** I’d like to disclose that I was plied with copious amounts of delicious food and alcohol in return for this honest review. This neither affects the integrity of the post or the honest opinions held within it**

I had the pleasure of attending The Royal Hotel and the attached Dr Legba’s Emporium for the second time as a blogger. My mum and I were invited to try out The Royal Hotel’s brand new breakfast menu. The surroundings were as sumptuous as ever without feeling pretentious. The Royal Hotel isn’t actually a hotel any longer. For more information about the history of the building and how brothers Matt and Dave made it what it is now, read my previous rave review here.

Mum and I were hoping and praying telepathically to the Royal Hotels chefs that Eggs Benedict would be on the brand new breakfast menu for our visit. It’s an absolute fav of mine and when I am reviewing somewhere new, I like to see their take on my personal favourite. I also have a notion that when I eat out I try to order things that I am rubbish at making myself at home. So eggs benedict it was and a life saving cuppa, brewed from the pot with plenty of sugar cubes to liven me up. (I have a three year old don’t you know!)

Dr Legba’s

The decor there is inviting and really pleasant on the eye. I love the pictures we sat in front of for breakfast. I mean this in a totally complimentary way when I say The Royal Hotel is an extraordinarily ordinary everyday, special occasion kind of venue.

You can pop by for an impromptu breakfast or a drink at the bar and feel like it’s a completely acceptable everyday place to frequent. On the flip side you can also book an amazing lunch, dinner or afternoon tea and feel like the most special guest ever. The Royal Hotel is my everyday and save for best. I can’t recommend this place enough.

Dr Legba's

Brekkie done, Matt treated us to a tour of the ballroom. He allowed us to venture to the top of the staircase which is supposedly haunted. I had already had a tour on my previous visit where I found out a lot about the history of the famous hotel, Mum on the other hand hadn’t so I was excited for her to come and check the place out. read more here.

Dr Legba's

The Royal Hotel has a not so secret and intimate basement bar which goes by the name of Dr Legba’s Emporium . A place of Cocktails and Curiosities, led by the cocktail master of the brothers, Dave. Dr Legba’s feels like another world whereby you can disappear for hours, completely oblivious to the real world outside.

A complete heaven for a cloud dweller like me. When you re-emerge from your Dr Legba slumber onto Southend high street, you will likely be in an Absinthe induced daze. Almost like you’ve been dancing with the absinthe fairy herself. Her portrait is shortly to be adorned to the door leading you to the loo’s. Here’s a sneak peak.

Dr Legba’s

The tipple for our delectable afternoon was a rather stunning and unusual champagne by the name of Veuve Clicquot Rich, also available in Rosé.

Now I wouldn’t normally consider myself a champagne kinda gal, but Veuve Clicquot Rich totally changed my mind. At approximately £59 a bottle, it can certainly be reserved for a more special occasion on a night out. But let me tell you why you would consider this.

The Veuve Rich has been developed specifically with mixologists in mind and is intended to be used in cocktails. It’s also much, much sweeter, almost ten times that of standard champagnes. The first unusual trait to the Rich is that it is served with ice. Then by adding one or several flavours, you can create your own taste. This makes every individuals experience of the Rich different.  During our visit we were invited to taste the Rich with cucumber, orange or black pepper. I declined the black pepper, but Mum enjoyed it. The orange was divine and the cucumber almost refreshing.

Dr Legba's

A visit to Dr Legba’s isn’t complete without trying the absinthe. With a choice of varying strengths, it’s fascinating to watch it be prepared. Much of it using the equipment Dave made himself. Our treat for this visit was a take on the famous Hemingway Champagne, Death in the Afternoon. Dave artistically mixes the absinthe with water and the Veuve Clicquot to produce an amazing cocktail. At approximately 68% alcohol and topped with a star anise you may start to feel like Hemingway himself. I get a little excited to see what Dave is going to do next with the absinthe. It really is an amazing flavour, if that’s your thing.

Dr Legba’s

If you fancy trying the breakfast at The Royal Hotel or an evening getting lost Dr Legba’s I can totally recommend you give them a visit. Dr Legba’s has a capacity of 40. To ensure you don’t miss out, it’s advisable to arrive there early on a Friday or Saturday night. It is also available for private hire Wednesday to Sunday during the day or night. I’m totally considering it for my next special event or even baby shower!

With thanks to Penny from A Penny For Them for organising.

Until next time…

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Mud and Bloom children’s gardening and nature box review

** Disclosure – In return for writing this honest review I was provided with 2 months subscription boxes to Mud & Bloom**

Throughout January and February we have been exploring and enjoying the  Mud & Bloom children’s gardening and nature subscription boxes. Read more to find out how you can get 50% off a Mud & Bloom subscription box.

For more about what Mud & Bloom boxes are, read this taken from the Mud & Bloom website;

“The boxes are for 3-8 year old’s and will be delivered through your letterbox at the beginning of each month.

Each box includes everything you need for two seasonal activities: one gardening and one nature craft – along with instructions, quizzes and games aimed at teaching children about the seasons, plants, insects, birds, soil and rainfall.

Activities have been created by qualified teachers and they support the national curriculum with influence from Forest School, Steiner and Montessori education.”

The founder of Mud & Bloom, Anja, is a mother herself and totally in tune with the kind of crafting activities 3-8 year olds would enjoy. What I love initially about the boxes is that they fit through the letterbox so no hassle.

Like what you hear so far? If you would like 50% off a Mud & Bloom subscription box, enter the code below at the checkout. This code expires 15th March 2018! So hurry!

GORGEOUSGEORGE

gardening

When our boxes arrived, George loved collecting them from the doormat and then excitedly unpacking them whilst I explained the activities we would be doing and what the supplies provided would be used for. Having read other reviews, I know some people like to crack on and do all the activities in the box within a short space of time.

But for us we like to have varied and busy days with a mixture of planned and free play activities. I loved having the Mud & Bloom box as a go to . To fill some quiet time when George (who is 3 years old) seemed restless and in need of some guidance in his play.

gardening

Over the last two months we’ve grown edible sprouting seeds and learnt how they contain different nutrients in their varying states. George was able to use a sieve and muslin to rinse the seeds, before filling a jar with water using a jug. I helped seal it with an elastic band and change the water daily. He didn’t want to taste any of the seeds in the end but we still had fun watching them grow.

gardening

We also made a twig raft which was perfect for my stick hoarding child. This child gets so excited when he sees sticks and twigs and we have quite a selection at home. I set about turning them into a raft using string included in our box. Whilst this was a task that involved more participation from me than G but I actually never realised how simple it was to create a raft so I’m eager to try it on a larger scale now.

It was this particular fact sheet that prompted me to feedback to Anja that I believe the factsheets could be improved with more illustrations and fewer words as secretly I’m still a child at heart and I’m all about the pictures. I understand instructions a lot more in visual rather than written form. These boxes are a work in progress and she is ever improving them.

But by far our favourite crafty task was the pebble painting. This is so on trend right now and little dude loved it (as did I…massively). Checkout our insta to see my fab likeness of our cat Sockies painted onto a pebble.

gardening

The Mud & Bloom subscription boxes get you outside bird watching, hunting for freshly blooming flowers of the season, and make use of all those collections from mother nature that kids seem to be unable to resist bringing home. Stones, twigs, you now have a productive use for them all.

Finally I’d like to share with you a poem I wrote to summarise how we felt about Mud & Bloom subscription boxes. We are most definitely signing up for more. At £7.95 a month, inclusive of postage and packing, these more than prove their worth. And remember, you can cancel or skip your subscription at any time.

Mud and bloom’s box of tricks

Will keep your child’s attention fixed

Full of things to make and grow

Crafting, learning as they go

It’s time to go and hunt supplies

Pebbles, twigs and more to find

Whilst you’re out, take your list

To check off flowers and birds in your midst

For budding green fingers,

Mud and bloom has  you need

Inside their boxes

Guides, peat and seeds

Subscribe to get your treat

Then through your letterbox you will greet

Your monthly box of things to do

Lots of fun for your child and you.

Remember…If you would like 50% off a Mud & Bloom subscription box, visit Mud and Bloom enter the code below at the checkout. This code expires 15th March 2018! So hurry!

GORGEOUSGEORGE

For more inspiration on how to give your kids a passion for gardening, have a read of these great tips Start Gardening With Children .

Thanks for reading. Until next time…..