Love2read Photo Book

Love2read Photo Book

The youngest boy is now fast approaching his 3rd birthday and the search has begun for the elusive present that isn’t a toy!

Since his brother started school and begun learning to read, he’s become more and more interested in books and attempting to read them himself. This gave me a great idea for a birthday present.

Thanks to the wonderful people at Love2read, I was offered the opportunity to create him his first photo reading book.

Love2read create photobooks which aim to encourage a love of reading through photos of the world around your child. They use high frequency key words in the books that your child will recognise when they begin learning to read and personal photos to help recognise the words.

The process of creating the book was so simple. I chose my template then uploaded my mugshots! It was so easy that it could have taken me just 10 minutes to create a book. Instead it took my nearly 2 hours as I realised I don’t take nearly enough photos of my family!

We had a small delay with delivery but, I was sent a very lovely email explaining as such and telling me when to expect my book. I was again sent a great email when the book was dispatched so I knew exactly when to hover around the letterbox.

It arrived in a hardbacked envelope and was beautiful. I had a sneaky look as soon as it arrived as I was so excited!

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We chose the ‘Our Family’ book so he had photos of people he sees frequently but, there are so many different titles to chose from. I also think that if you ask nicely, they’ll create a title just for you. The front cover has a preview of some of the photos in the book. Excuse the diamonds but I don’t put photos of my children’s faces on my blog.

The book is such good quality and printed on lovely thick card. Given it’s aimed at early readers, this should prevent any accidental rips when turning the pages.

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Inside the book there is space for 10 photos with words underneath. The ‘I see’ is repeated on every page with a different family members mugshot!

On the final page of the book the key words are repeated several times to see if they can recognise and read them.

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I am so impressed by these books and think O will be really impressed when he opens it on his birthday and sees all his favourite people. They are really good quality and I think they are a great idea for introducing children to reading using objects/places/people that they recognise. They are also a creative way of capturing memories for the future.

Books cost £14.99 plus p&p but the price per book drops if you buy multiples. With Christmas just around the corner these would make a fantastic gift for the smallest people in your life.

For more information and to order visit www.Love2read.co.uk

New And Improved Slim Fast – Final Thoughts

New And Improved Slim Fast – Final Thoughts

I’ve now completed my week of Slim Fast and with a 3lb loss my BMI has dropped from 29.6 to 29.1. This is a huge step in the right direction and I feel great.

I’ve enjoyed my extra week on Slim Fast and the added variety of the noodle boxes helped keep the boredom away. I do have to admit that I only tried the spicy thai noodles as I’m a vegetarian but they were really tasty. I couldn’t believe they only counted as a snack as they really filled me up. I was a bit worried that they might taste watery as they do ‘swim’ in liquid a little bit but the flavour was great. They also made my house smell amazing!!

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I did however get my other half to try the spaghetti bolognese and the chicken tikka. He was as impressed as I was and for once he wasn’t raiding the biscuit tin mid afternoon!

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I’ve also found a new love for the meal replacement shakes and especially the cafe latte flavour. It was really great to see that Slim Fast had taken on board the feedback they have received recently and have lowered the sugar content of their shakes. I found that a massive down point when I first did the Slim Fast Challenge so was really impressed with the new shakes. The rest of the brand is due to have its sugar lowered in the near future.

With the introduction of the noodle pots I’ve enjoyed Slim Fast much more this time. I haven’t felt like I’m constantly filling myself up with sugar and I have also found myself fuller for longer. I wouldn’t hesitate to use Slim Fast again as it definitely seems to work for me.

The Slim Fast Challenge – Take 2!

The Slim Fast Challenge – Take 2!

Some of you may remember that I took part in the Slim Fast Challenge a few months ago. I wasn’t hugely successful and only lost a few pounds which I was a little bit disappointed with given how hard I thought I’d tried.

Since then they received loads of feedback and are rebranding this month. I’m very excited to say I’ve been offered the chance to give it another try. Slim Fast now have a beautiful weight loss ambassador in the shape of Kimberley Walsh and they are bringing out some new products.

New products include a 1 week starter pack and noodle snack pots to give you a bit more variety (and less sugar) in your 3 snacks a day.

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The starter pack includes everything you need to get your Slim Fast diet off to a flying start. With 6 shakes, 8 meal replacement bars, 7 snack bags and 7 snack bars you need to add very little to the Slim Fast 3-2-1 plan.

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There are no changes to the way the diet works. It’s still 3 snacks, 2 meal replacement drinks or bars and a dinner of 600kcal (800kcal for men). The major change has been the reduction in the amount of sugar in the shakes which is something I moaned about when doing the challenge originally.

I’m really looking forward to giving this another try. I’ve hit a weightless plateaux and I’m really hoping this gives me the kick-start I need. I’ve bought a litre water bottle recently to help me up my water intake and I’m currently doing at least 3 miles of walking a day going to and from the school.

My BMI is currently sitting at 29.6 let’s see if a week of Slim Fast can do something about that.

The Gruffalo And A Day Out In London

The Gruffalo And A Day Out In London

Myself and my biggest boy had a little Mummy/son bonding time on Sunday. I love spending time with him on his own as it’s something we rarely do these days and with him heading off to school in September, it’s going to happen less often.

I saw The Gruffalo in the West End advertised on Groupon months back. B loves the theatre and he loves The Gruffalo so I knew I was onto a winner booking tickets.

I was a bit nervous about going it alone with him in London as he can be a bit of a handful especially when tired! But, we got Daddy to drop us at the station and headed into London from the in-laws which made the journey considerably shorter.

We arrived at Picadilly Circus nice and early. Our aim was to have a wander through the shops but I forgot the shops don’t open until 12 on a Sunday. It was lovely and quiet though so we had a wander around, watched some street acts and enjoyed the fact the streets were closed to traffic for a 10k race.

The Gruffalo is currently on at the Lyric Theatre on Shaftsbury Avenue until the end of the summer holidays. It’s currently sharing the theatre with Thriller and B was quite taken by the huge sparkly sign above the theatre!

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We arrived just as they were letting people into the theatre and it was packed! Although they recommend ages 3+, it was nice to see children of all ages there and even a few adults without children!

We loitered outside for as long as we could before we went inside to find our seats. The show is only an hour long but I thought B might start to get a bit fidgety.

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We had great seats, really close to the stage but with no tiered seats B found it difficult to see when a lady sat in front of him. We did swap seats but maybe I should have gone for circle seats instead.

The show is performed by a cast of 3 actors and they were fantastic. One actress played the mouse for the entire show while the other 2 actors played numerous roles between them.

B was so engrossed in the show that he was shouting along with the characters and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him stay still for that length of time! He loved it.

I don’t mind taking the kids to these shows as long as I’m entertained as well and The Gruffalo really did that. With fantastic story telling, brilliant songs that the audience could join in with and the most over the top and flamboyant snake you ever did see, we both had a great time. I don’t want to say too much so I don’t spoil it but, I highly recommend going to see this. I enjoyed it so much I’m considering going back and taking O with me.

After the show we headed off to M&M World in Leicester Square. I promised B we would pop in here afterwards so he could get some chocolate.

The smell of chocolate as you walk in the door is just overwhelming! It makes you so hungry. Obviously a fab marketing tool! We had a wander around and B wanted to have a go on the huge London bus in the entrance. We did buy a few M&Ms from the pick and mix machines which were pretty pricey but don’t tell Daddy!

We had lunch in Leicester Square. Bad Mummy alert but, we had a Burger King! It was absolutely ram packed so we headed outside to the grassed square area. They have pavement fountains and we were enjoying watching other children play in them while we ate.

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As soon as we finished though, B wanted in on the action. It was all going so well until he lost his timing and ended up standing on a fountain as it sprayed up. I could hear everyone gasp as he got his soaking.

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I had to walk around for the next hour with a child who looked like he’d wet himself! We both found it pretty funny though. If you can’t do things like this as a kid, when can you!

After lunch I asked B where he’d like to go and his response kind of surprised me. He wanted to go see the Queen. So, we headed off towards Trafalgar Square where I showed him Nelsons Column and more fountains (although we stayed well clear this time).

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We continued our walk towards The Mall. I lived on the outskirts of London for the first 21 years of my life and I have spent so much time in the capital. But, I have never once walked up The Mall!

The road closure was still in place so we took the opportunity to walk right up the centre of The Mall so he could see Buckingham Palace getting closer.

He was pretty impressed when we arrived that somebody actually lived in the ‘castle’. We sat on the fountain for a while (notice a theme yet!) watching the world go by before going over to the gates to watch the guards and wave at a few policemen!

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By now, B was starting to complain he was tired and his leg was hurting. He fractured his femur about 18 months ago and if we do a lot of walking he still complains about it so we started to head home. We had a stroll back through Green Park to the Tube station.

We sat on the train eating our chocolate then B curled up on my lap! I forget he’s only 4 years old at times and I think I broke him today!

”Twinkly
Posie Pixie And The Pancakes – Book Review

Posie Pixie And The Pancakes – Book Review

Posie Pixie And The Pancakes is the seventh book in The Whimsy Wood series by Sarah Hill. We’ve never read this series of books before but I had heard great things about them.

I told the boys the title of the story and asked if they wanted me to read it. As soon as they heard the word pancakes, they wanted in!

The first thing that struck me about this book is the amazing illustrations. Sarah Mauchline does a really beautiful job of bringing the book to life through her drawings. Just look at this beautiful party animal!

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The boys were really blown away with the pictures and spent a great deal of time just looking at them.

I wasn’t sure whether my 2 boys would enjoy the book as I thought it looked a bit long and grown up for them but, neither of them moved for the entire story! They’ve also asked for this story at bedtime several times since so they obviously enjoyed it.

The story is so descriptive and really builds a picture up in your head of what’s going on. It is wonderfully written for the children and really captivated the boys including the 2 year old who very rarely sits still for anything these days.

I personally did find the book quite difficult to read. I found the sentences, although descriptive, very long winded and often found myself running out of breath!

The book is great for raising awareness of some really important everyday issues such as healthy eating and the environment but, in a fun, ‘the kids will never notice it snuck in the story’ kind of way! It sparked some interesting discussions with my 4 year old about why we should pick up rubbish and why we can’t eat endless amounts of junk food!

I was really surprised by this book. Looking at the front cover I thought the story would be quite girlie but neither of my 2 complained while I was reading it. They enjoyed it so much that they have asked me to purchase the other books in the series so they can here all about Posie’s other adventures.

The Slim Fast Challenge – Final Weigh In

The Slim Fast Challenge – Final Weigh In

Well 14 days of the #slimfastchallenge are up and Monday morning was the final weigh in. I have held off weighing myself all week so this week’s weight was a surprise.

I jumped on the scales and was really disappointed. I’ve lost 4lbs in 2 weeks. Normally I wouldn’t moan about losing 4lbs but I’m disappointed as I weighed myself on day 5 and had lost 3lbs. For an additional 9 days of dieting I was expecting more than a 1lb loss.

I’ve followed the diet to the letter and even tried harder with my exercise for the past 2 weeks. I was expecting to lose more than 4lbs on such a low calorie diet.

I will reserve judgement for another week though as I suffer terribly with water retention and bloating once a month. The perils of being a woman mean that most months I can put on several pounds which disappear a few days later.

I haven’t minded doing Slim Fast as I’m so busy during the day that grabbing a bar or shake is easier than fixing a meal. I’ve not really felt hungry and I’ve enjoyed creating evening meals for under 600 cals.

But, I did feel like I was consuming quite a lot of sugar. The shakes and the snack bars had very high sugar content and I was permanently left with that strange taste in my mouth that you get when you’ve eaten too many chocolates!

Maybe because of the disappointing weight loss I’m feeling that Slim Fast wasn’t great for a quick fix diet. I’ve done both Weight Watchers and Slimming World in the past and have lost more in the first 2 weeks of being on those plans. I also feel they promote better eating habits and sustainable weight loss. I fear my 4lbs lost is going straight back on again!

Thank you to Slim Fast for giving me the opportunity to try out the #slimfastchallenge.

The Slim Fast Challenge – Introduction

The Slim Fast Challenge – Introduction

I have lost an awful lot of weight in the 10 months since my twins arrived. I weighed myself on the morning of my c-section and to date have lost 6 stone 7lbs. Some of that was baby weight but most was there before I fell pregnant.

While pregnant I had gestational diabetes so had to modify my diet significantly. I have kept up with this healthier eating since having the babies and also added in exercise at least 3 times a week.

In the last few months though, my weight loss has stalled and as the pounds have stopped coming off, my motivation has faltered.

When offered to opportunity to give the Slim Fast Challenge a go, I jumped at it. I’m hoping it will give me the kick start I need to get back on track. I’m also due back at work next month as would love to walk back into the office looking a million dollars and making them think I’m excelling at parenting 4 small people plus looking after myself!

The Slim Fast 3-2-1 plan sounds perfect for me. The 3 snacks, 2 meal replacement bars or shakes plus 1 meal of 600 kcal should suit my busy days where I sometimes struggle to sit down to eat. It also still allows me to have an evening meal with the Mr and secretly put him on an evening meal diet too!

I will be starting Monday morning and I’m quite looking forward to trying all the different flavours of shake and the snacks. Some of them sound really yummy and still allow me to have a hit of chocolate!

If I can get down into the next stone bracket, a place I don’t think I’ve been since I was about 5 years old, I’ll feel that Slim Fast has been a success.

Nabi 2 Tablet Review

Nabi 2 Tablet Review

Our boys love their technology and were both very keen to play on our mobile phones when they were smaller. After several ‘incidents’ involving our phones, think wiped contacts and random calls, we decided to purchase a tablet for them.

The Nabi 2, made by Fuhu Inc, is designed to be a robust tablet that grows with your children. B has had his over 2 years and O received his 6months ago.

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Firstly, the geeky stuff courtesy of the Mr. The Nabi 2 has a 7″ multi-touch capacitive touch screen boasting a moderate 1024 x 600 pixel resolution. The brain of the operation is a NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 mobile processor with quad-core CPU and 5th battery-save core supplemented by a reasonable low 1gb RAM. It has 8gb of on board storage, which after Android 4.3 is installed only allows for 4gb of space for apps. But, there is a microSD slot for adding an extra 32gb of storage although this can not be used for apps.

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There is a front facing 2MP camera for the selfie loving child and a reasonable 3,850 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Charging the battery is done with a thin single pin socket which is known for bending and causes charging issues. This is an issue Fuhu is aware of and were offering free replacement charging cables but only.if you live in the US.

The tablet itself is quite heavy at nearly 600g and has a red bumper which has saved ours on many occasions. It also has a rear face that allows for alphabet tiles to be clipped to the back so you can personalise your tablet. My 2 love nothing better than rearranging their letters into incomprehensible english!

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The hardware is reasonable and very well placed for its price. The processor, surprisingly, seems to struggle and is sluggish. But other than that, the battery lasts 5 or 6 hours comfortably and the addition of a microSD slot is fantastic.

The Android software installed is a special version which is heavily customised by Fuhu Inc. It features 2 modes, mummy/daddy mode and Nabi mode. Mummy/daddy mode operates justs like standard android. It has Google Play for all the apps, Chrome browser, email, Hangouts etc. Here, you are able set up multiple kids accounts. 

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The Nabi software offer some specific apps which enable the parent to set chores and reward your child with silver coins (which parents need to purchase) that can be saved to buy apps.

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This idea behind the Nabi mode is to stop the little ones accessing the things parents wouldn’t want them to or making in app purchases. All well and good, but somehow B was able to buy £80 worth of gold coins without us knowing. Fortunately, Fuhu were pretty good and refunded the money when we explained what had happened, but it did take 21 days for the money to be credited back to our account. We still have no idea how he managed to do it! The child is surely a genius.

Fuhu are also trying keeping up with the rollout of Android by releasing regular updates. Unfortunately, these are released to the US long before anywhere else. Those of us outside the US are treated a little bit like second rate citizens.

We have had a fairly serious problem with O’s Nabi 2. It keeps freezing and the only way to unfreeze it is to completely restart by holding the power button for 10seconds. This is pretty frustrating for a 2 year old who has no patience.

After support from Fuhu’s very active Facebook group, we were passed to the higher level support and it was agreed the unit is faulty. But, due to the lack of receipt (Nabi was given as a gift) and proximity to a Smyth’s toys store (best part of 100mile journey), Fuhu agreed they would replace it under warranty as long as I can get the tablet to them in California, USA. The cost is quite prohibiting to do this and we have yet to send it back.

In conclusion, Fuhu have made a great attempt at making a kid safe tablet. They have not got it all perfect but, at the cost when we first got the Nabi, it was fantastic value.

If you asked us a year ago we would have recommended this to anyone looking for a kid safe tablet. But, having had issues with the customer services, the slow rollout of updates plus, the old spec hardware, I would now recommend other tablets in favour of the Nabi, especially if you’re outside of the US.

The Nabi faces stiff competition from the likes of the Tesco Hudl2, which we have since purchased and found to be as good, if not better for children.

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Monsters Love Underpants – Book Review

Monsters Love Underpants – Book Review

Monsters Love Underpants is the seventh collaboration between writer Claire Freedman and illustrator Ben Cort. It’s the latest installment in the Underpants series which also features Aliens Love Underpants, Dinosaurs Love Underpants and Aliens Love Panta Claus.

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We love the Underpants series in our house and the boys were ecstatic when they saw the latest book had arrived. They couldn’t wait for bedtime (which is very unusual) so they could read the new story.

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It went down a storm. My youngest boy decided to add in his own sound effects while we were reading and both boys were laughing away. The story is so well written and the rhyming element flows really nicely in this book. I have had trouble getting the words out with some of the other books!

The illustrations were bright and colourful whilst also beautifully drawn. They really captured the boys attention and helped build on the story.

The book also comes with a free audio reading of the book voiced by Mel Giedroyc of Great British Bake Off fame. She is the perfect choice to read these books and you can see what I mean from this YouTube trailer.

I love a book that makes me laugh and smile too. This is definitely my favourite book in the series and it also appears to be the boys new favourite too. We read the story 3 times on the first night alone! If you are already a fan or, even a new reader to the series, you will not be disappointed with this latest edition.

Monsters Love Underpants paperback is currently on pre-order with a release date of April 23rd 2015. It’s available to buy at Amazon and all good book shops.

If you love a good competition, they are currently running a fantastic give away on their website. Send them a photo of your little one dressed as a monster and you can win a huge bundle of goodies. Good luck.

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