Saturday, 11 October 2014

Lost in my head

If you followed this blog from the beginning - or even from just a few months ago - you'll notice that the number of posts, and the things I post about, has changed pretty significantly in recent weeks. 

I made a decision to blog less over summer, and spend it lazing around with my kids, and take some time out from blogs and websites and writing. 

I slowed down my freelance work at the same time, sticking to just a few regular gigs, and overall just took life at a lesser pace. 

Then everything changed. Life hit a million miles an hour and lots of things changed at once and it all got a bit...enormous. 

There's a lot of things that I can't, or don't want to, talk about on here at the moment, and for the first time ever I don't feel like this blog is the place to share things that are happening in my life.

The person in this blog feels like a different woman to the one I see when I look in the mirror, and I don't feel like I recognise who I am at the moment, and it's all a bit hard and exhausting. 

The kids are very up and down at the moment, too, and rather than writing about them and what we're doing I just want to spend my time getting through each day and keeping them as happy as I can. We're all tired, and it's hard work when everyone is tired. 

I don't know what that means for this website, for the people who want to read funny stories or moments from our day, for any of it really. I just know I feel like I'm a bit lost in my head, and that doesn't translate well to funny stories. 

Maybe it's the time of year, maybe it's just all the changes getting on top of me, maybe it's none of that and things just change. Who knows. 

Ravensburger 'how to train your dragon' jigsaw review

Sometimes we love noisy toys, and messy play, and mud, and rowdiness. 

And sometimes we don't. 

Sometimes we love things that we can sit quietly at the table (or on the floor) and do together, thinking it through and puzzling at a puzzle...for example! 

We were sent a set of three 'how to train your dragon' jigsaws; 

The kids love jigsaws and Jellybean was excited to see that these said five plus on the box, because he's five, and each of the puzzles has 49 pieces - making them more complex than any of the puzzles we've owned before. 

Jellybean is a very smart kid (they both are) and generally finds most things easy - and when he doesn't find things easy he's quite likely to get a bit stroppy or want to stop, because he finds it frustrating. I wondered if that would happen with these puzzles - but popped on our 'how to train your dragon' DVD and got the puzzles out for some quality rainy afternoon entertainment. 

There was a couple of moments that Jellybean got frustrated, and Midget Gem was a bit little to do these alone, but with us all sitting together it turned out absolutely perfectly. 

Midget Gem liked sorting the puzzle pieces into the three piles - plain, stripy or spotty backed pieces for the three puzzles - then sorting the edges from the middle pieces, and while Jellybean put the puzzles together Midget Gem helped him to identify which pieces might be next by spotting colours and patterns that fit in the picture. 

I thought I might need to be quite hands on, but having caught them in a rare co-operative moment they sat nicely for quite a long time working together on the puzzles, and it was really nice to see. 

The puzzles are, of course, great quality and the patterns on the back mean you can easily sort which pieces are for which puzzle - and though my OCD gets a little twitchy with the kids mixing them all up, I know it won't take long to sort next time we play. 

The set is a bargain at just £5.99 on Amazon at the moment and for fans of the films would make a great gift. 

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Dobble Kids

Dobble Kids is the KING of card games to play with children a range of ages. 

No complicated rules, no messing around, no claims of things not being fair, of it being too hard, of it being too easy - just a fun, fast - paced game that we have ALL been enjoying. 

It's been such a hit that Jellybean has even asked to play Dobble instead of beating his Dad at chess some evenings! I never thought I'd see that happen...

If you don't know about Dobble, here's the low down. 

A set of 30 cards, each with a number of animal pictures in different sizes on the face, the aim is to be the first to spot the matching animals on each pair of cards. No matter which cards you pull out there IS a match - but sometimes it might take you a while to spot! 

The game brought out the competitive nature of the entire family and seeing the kids really enjoying it and getting excited is fun - but it's not one to play just before the bedtime routine! 

There's also a grown up version (it's on my Christmas list) and it's the perfect game to play at just about any time, or in just about any location; we'll be taking it on car journeys and whenever we visit family, as well as using it just to make the kids sit down for a while! 

Tom and Jerry tricky trap house

A timeless favourite cartoon, Tom and Jerry amuses my kids as much as it amused my brother and I when we were kids - and our parents before us. 

And when we were sent the Tom and Jerry tricky trap house the kids had an absolute blast putting it through its paces. 

The house comes with small Tom and Jerry figurines and a number of 'tricky' accessories that they can use to trick, trap or terrorise each other - and the kids had loads of fun finding all these; highlights were the hiding place in the roof and the fridge that throws food and drinks around when it springs open! 

As they played the two sides of the house kept coming apart, which bothered them, but they were being pretty rough and the way it clicks back together shows that the makers have put thought into this problem area and made it a feature, which clicks together easily, rather than a place that could actually break. 

The legs on the piano have fallen victim to over-enthusiastic play (there is one that is a 'trick' leg that comes off and twists under - the boys thought they ALL were!) but aside from that everything else is surviving well - and when I say my kids have been playing rough, I mean it! 

The house has also starred play with teenage mutant ninja turtles, Spiderman, Fireman Sam and a whole host of moshi monsters, and been part of the imaginative, creative play they've really started to get into more and more recently. 

At £27.99 from Flair this toy is one that would be a fab present for any kids with a taste for the classics, and a bit of rough and tumble, and will give them hours of play in a whole range of ways. 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Fireman Sam ocean rescue set

This week the boys were very excited to see a parcel had arrived when we all arrived home; they had been in the after school club and pre-school and I had just arrived back from work and we were all tired, it was getting dark, and there was a strong chance of some grumps happening - but the day was saved by their big surprise! 

The Fireman Sam Ocean Rescue playset;

This is a toy that the kids ADORE and which has - for parents - just one flaw. The flashing lights, spinning firemans pole, jet ski that fires at speed across the floor dramatically, and tiny Fireman Sam figure that can have all manner of adventures, are all brilliant fun - and the boys gathered their collection of fire engines and other Fireman Sam toys to create a whole fire and rescue scene that entertained them three evenings in a row after school. 

The toy is a sturdy, chunky thing that doesn't look like it's going to break easily, even when a power ranger is crammed into the clasp on the fireman's pole when he's clearly too big for it. 

The scope for imagination and play is huge, and will make this a toy that is a part of most activities they create and works alongside a lot of other playsets.

The one thing I'd change is, of course, the bit the kids love most; the siren. Two triple A batteries in the top of the tower make the blue light flash and the sirens ring out to alert Fireman Sam to the latest emergency; the siren is terribly realistic, and particularly piercing, and has been the endless background to all play in the house for days and days and days...I'm praying the batteries run out soon and the kids forget that it ever did that...

Other than that this is a hit! 

The set retails at £34.99 and would be a great Christmas gift for little ones who love Fireman Sam or noise! 

Monday, 22 September 2014

What makes a woman.

What is it that makes you a woman? 

Is it growing your hair long, and painting your nails? 
Is it knowing how to run in heels?
Is it being able to plan meals weeks ahead and shop for your family in one super organised, spreadsheet plotted online visit to Tesco?

Is being a woman about being soft, and gentle, and crying at song lyrics?

What makes a woman? 

Am I more of a woman because I carried two children? Is it giving birth that makes me one? 

Is it the boobs? 

I wish I knew. I wish I knew what it was that made me a woman and how much of it you can lose and still qualify.

Am I a real woman if I have curves? The media tells me so. It also tells me I'm failing because I'm not model thin, or even trying to be. 

Am I a real woman if I wear a bikini no matter what my body type? Am I a real woman if I shave my armpits, or if I don't? Am I a real woman if I hate men, or if I'm really quite good friends with some of them? 

What makes me a real woman?

Is it embracing my natural self - or tweaking, re-shaping and preening my natural self to look like something from a photoshopped image? 

What makes me a woman? 

Is it staying home and doing the school run, mopping the floors, folding the laundry and playing board games? 

Is it a career that I love, that I am successful in, that takes me away from home a lot?

What makes a woman?