I’d like to think this is a gift guide with a difference!
First of all, anything I have suggested here I have bought my teens through the years or I know of friends who have bought their boys similar. Secondly, none of it has been sent to me to be promoted, so any companies I mention here I have actually used or bought from them over the last 7 or 8 years.
I also think that teen boys are much harder to buy for than girls ( probably because I don’t have girls but I would imagine with clothes, perfumes and makeup and jewellery most things can be covered and they are so expensive too so a designer item could certainly be covered as a main Christmas present!) and I appreciate I could totally be wrong about this, but I have only experience in buying for boys in this house and so I think that is where my expertise lies.
I also do not like giving my boys money! That’s just a personal choice I make and I also think they like it that way. Any family members who buy for them instead give them money so they always have cash to put towards something more expensive in the sales. We also aren’t the type of bargain hunters that go out first thing on Boxing Day to buy stuff in the sales either (again our personal choice). Therefore, I like to buy my boys things I know they want as a main present and then fill it out with the usual extras like, underwear, t-shirts, books, cd’s or films etc. That way we all still enjoy a chilled out morning with everyone opening their pressies etc as we did when they were little – and again they love it that way! Keep on Reading!
I’ve certainly been asking myself that for a while now. I’m a mum of 2 boys but they are now 20 and 17 (almost18), finding their own independence, as one is at uni and the other is at 6th form and also working a part time job. I have been married for 24 years and my hubby is a shift worker so that means I now spend the majority of my time alone! Due to my illness and chronic pain I’m no longer able to work a conventional job (I was a driving instructor), but I’m lucky that blogging and running social media accounts can be done in pj’s even on a bad day if necessary.
Yet when the boys where younger my life was busy (illness or not) with after school clubs, kids parties, meeting up with friends in the holidays etc, and although I am still officially a taxi service, a cook and a bank, my life is much more subdued. That in itself gives you time…………………..LOTS of time! Time to ponder and think about your own role in life. Yes I am still a wife and a mum but I am also ME. So, with 48 looming very quickly (and my hubby turning 50 last year!) I am starting to think about my time. How do I want to spend my time now my kids are off doing their own thing most of the time? Read more
I was invited recently to the Smiggle branch in Bluewater to open the next window on their Christmas advent calendar and see what treat could be waiting for me.
Anyone that has been to a Smiggle store will know it’s an explosion of colour and a total must for all stationary lovers. The store there is not huge but is very well stocked with both lots on the shelves and underneath the display tables ( so I cannot see you having any trouble getting a particular item you may be after).
At the moment they have lots of their fabulous Christmas Advent Stockings, that retail at £28. That may sound a little extravagant but is in line with Lego or even Yankee candle (if you buy yourself one!). However, the goodies that are in the advent would cost around £40 if they were bought individually, so a bargain when you consider that and also a great alternative to just more chocolate.
There are the typical colour assumptions, pink for girls and blue for boys, but there are also lots of alternatives that can be gender neutral. Some of the bits can work out quite expensive but there are also some fabulous gifts that would be perfect for Christmas presents that work out at just £10-15 which is very budget friendly.
There is also a wonderful little colouring area set up in this store which was in use most of the time I was in the store and it was constantly busy in there. I was given the chance to peel off the next advent sticker from the window outside to get the next prize ( which I will include with the gift voucher giveaway as a little extra, it’s a Goo Glopper………………!
The store manager there, Linda, has a great manner about her and she will find out if it’s your birthday and get the whole store to sing Happy Birthday to you, I heard the singing even before I reached the store as I came down the escalator towards it. You will recognise her as she has a huge whistle hanging around her neck and she’s not afraid to use it- so be warned.
So I have a lovely £25 gift card and my Goo Glopper from behind the advent to giveaway to all you lovely stationary loving peeps. All you have to do is comment below with what you would use the voucher for and fill in the normal Rafflecopter below.
I have seen more and more of these style of trampoline parks popping up all over the place taking over (almost) from the generation of kids indoor playcentres, with the difference being that us adults can also now ‘pay and play’!
We were invited along to Jump In trampoline park Tonbridge in Kent over the half term, which has just recently opened in fact. This one was on an industrial estate ( which most of these places are anyway) and although there was a decent sised sign on the outer gate we really had to look hard to make sure we were in the right place as this was the sign on the building itself….
We were advised to register everyone in our group that were actually going onto the trampolines and those under 18 need to be signed in by an adult on the waiver form.
As my eldest was home from uni we decided to all go on and try it ( yes even me!) but unfortunately for us we were restricted on our time that week and so were there around 3pm, and obviously at those times it was full of young children from toddlers up to teens. Thankfully we are not a family to be put off and we went on anyway. I am sure the later you go the older the kids/teens would be ( it is open until 9pm on weekdays and 10pm on weekends -Fri and Sat) but like I said we were a little restricted that week working around my eldest.
The venue itself you could tell had not been open long, the walls were a clean crisp grey and everything had that newly painted/ decorated feel. Once you register and book in and pay, you are given your grip socks which you need if you are going on the trampolines. The sessions are one hour long at £12 inc your grip socks with a second hour available for £6 (prices for under 5’s are reduced ). So at £12 a child it could be kind of expensive with more than one child- however, I guarantee you they will come off totally knackered…………… so worth it if you think about it! We were also given a coloured wrist band as it was peak time in half term and very busy, but I imagine this is the only way to actually keep a restriction on how many people they are allowed on at any one time. Then we were sent into a holding room to view a 4 minute ‘Do’s and Don’t’s’ video before entering the trampoline area itself.
There are small lockers available if you are all going on for you to pop your phones/ bags/ valuables etc into which you get your money back from each time.
As you walk through you are into the seating/ cafe area on the same level (think normal playcentre and you will get an idea of what to expect) and then if you are going on the trampoline area which is completely raised there is a ramp walkway to get on there. It is still easy to see your children from the cafe and there is a small walkway all along that you can go up to check on them if you want.
Like I say we all went on and had a ball. I lasted about 20-30 minutes before I was completely shattered and went for a coffee from the cafe ( ladies be warned Tena ladies would be very handy if you are jumping!! Just saying). Our 2 teens stayed on there the whole time! There was an area unfinished in the top corner which was bordered off from the rest of the park, it was set in lower and looked like it was going to be used for a dodge ball area ( I could be wrong on that but it did look like it). They also have a small 2 hoop basketball area which you queue for to go and have a try- using the trampolines to get the bounce and height to help you get the ball in the hoop- looked good fun. There is also an under 5’s small area bordered off near the cafe area. There is also an area at the top end where you have obstacles to get past over a pit filled with sponge blocks- string ladders to climb up and ‘gladiator’ style jousting on a slim walkway were you are given head gear to put on and bash your opponent with a large soft paddle to knock them off into the pit.
All in all we had a fun time, next time we would definitely book an evening slot so the age group would be older and more suitable for teens and adults alike without worrying that when you jump you are going to unknowingly fling a young child about 10ft in the air! They also run exercise classes which I imagine would be amazing fun and great exercise- my hubby and I can confirm our legs felt like lead the next day so this would be a great form of cardio exercise! It’s definitely something we all enjoyed and said e would do again……….and lets face it most teens don’t want to do anything with their parents so were pleased they said they would go back again.
Unlike normal playcentres though it is advisable to pre book your slot online before you go as once they reach their maximum amount of people at that time the slot will no longer be available for obvious health and safety reasons. You also get to keep your grip socks after the first time so a 1 hour slot reduces to £10 an hour when you bring those socks back to re use them each time.
If you fancy trying it then just check out their website here for more details on pricing/ times/ classes/ parties etc.
Last week I had the bizarre pleasure of visiting the opening of the Phobophobia , The Ventriloquist Nightmare show at the London Tombs. I hadn’t been at the tombs before and to be honest I wasn’t sure of what to expect, however, this show has been put together especially for the half term and in particular the run up to Halloween.
Now I love my ‘jump scare’ horror films and to be honest any sort of horror film, as does my teen son, but that does not mean that I wouldn’t be scared. My husband does not ‘do’ horror in any way and looking back I cannot believe I actually got him to go first in our group when we entered!
The evening started with drinks ( which were definitely needed before entering the show) and socialising with large reptiles, so look away now if you do not like snakes……….
Everyone had been given a group number when they came in and we ended up in the last group of the night………………..possibly not the greatest thing as our anticipation grew seeing others coming out looking less than calm.
Anyway, when it was our turn we were ‘welcomed’ in by this rather interesting ‘doctor’….
Then after his little welcoming chat where he talked about ‘The Master’ a lot we were left to navigate the route on our own……………………yes that’s when I totally pushed my husband to the front and made him go through first! We only had six of us in total in the group which meant that whenever anything happened, or when someone jumped out or chased us ( I kid you not!) it actually meant we were all affected……………………………….. and take my word for it the fear is definitely contagious.
I could tell you everything that happened but I do think that would ruin the experience. It is all about the not knowing that creates the anticipation and fear. Needless to say, you may come out sweaty, dishevelled and weighing half a stone lighter than before and unable to talk because you have lost your voice by screaming ( or that could have just been me). It is not a 5 minute experience, we tried to work out how long it lasted and we reckoned around 20- 25 minutes in total, which may not sound long but believe me in the dark, with people scaring you and chasing you it is a VERY long time!
We also took our 16 year old son ( who also loves his jump scares) who went round with a young lady we didn’t know clinging to him for safety which he found hilarious. However, I will say now this show is strictly over 16’s and having done it I can see why. It’s intense to say the least and your teen will definitely need to be into this sort of thing before you decide to go.
We all loved it, like I said at the start the fear is contagious, you will definitely be kept on your toes, and it is best not to be claustrophobic either as there is also a short walk ‘squeeze through’ that could cause your already panicked self to freak the hell out………….just saying.
If this sounds right up your scary street then take a little look at this video they have put together to get a feel for the experience, you can also book tickets here but you will need to be quick as this particular show is only available this week and runs until 31st Oct 2016.
This I am very excited about and thankfully only have a week to wait. This years Ideal Home Show at Christmas will be taking place at Olympia London for the first time ever. The UK’s biggest Christmas exhibition will be open from the 25th – 29th of November to provide everything you could possibly need in the run up to the festive season, from over 600 exhibitors showcasing top Christmas shopping inspiration, a plethora of celebrity appearances and a Christmas bandstand hosting live entertainment……………c’mon you Christmas lovers what more could you need?
I’m feeling festive already and cannot wait to see the venue transformed into a winter wonderland. There will be exhibitors across 7 sectors, as well as a host of festive favourite celebrities including Gino D’Acampo, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Olly Smith and Katie Piper who will be making her Christmas show debut and experts will be on hand at the show offering their own festive hints and tips to make your Christmas Ideal.
There will be live entertainment for visitors to enjoy as they shop, a wide range of expert talks and advice, a food & drink theatre featuring top tips from celebrity chefs, and even a champagne bar as well ( so that’s me sorted then!).
The Ideal Home Show at Christmas sponsored by Gocompare.com has everything you could possibly need to create the perfect Christmas all under one roof! So, for a chance to be part of history and experience Christmas for the first time at Olympia London, get yourself a ticket!
Children (Under 15) go free when accompanied by an adult
Timings for Ideal Home Show at Christmas:
Wednesday 25th November 2015 10am – 6pm
Thursday 26th November 2015 10am – 9pm
Friday 27th November 2015 10am – 6pm
Saturday 28th November 2015 10am – 6pm
Sunday 29th November 2015 10am – 5pm
I am looking forward to spotting some lovely new Christmassy bits to add to my ever growing collection that I manage to add to each year. Our decorations go up at the start of December and I love the festive run up to the big day itself. However, I do think my OH may disown me if I buy any more fairy lights for him to put up…………………………………… so watch this space.
As my boys are now 17 and 15 years old this is something I am starting to miss. We used to do quite a lot on the run up to the festive season and even made lots of sweet treat pressies like the hot chocolate cones, decorated biscuits and cakes. Once they hit mid teens the enthusiasm for crafting waned and it is definitely something that I miss these days ( I expect I have to wait until I become a granny- although I am in no rush for that just yet!). My 15 year old however, will still decorate his own bedroom and will happily make Christmas paper chains if he is in the right mood……..and he won’t thank me for telling you that! I always think doing Christmas crafts starts all the build up and excitement, any time from Oct/ Nov all parents are already talking ‘Father Christmas’ to the kids and the crafts become an extension of that, I still have their school home made decorations too.
Take a look below for some fabulous and EASY craft ideas to get you started:
Some Easy Craft Ideas For Kids This Christmas
Christmas is the time for kids to enjoy and rejoice. This is the time when they get time off from school and are able to spend quality time with parents. So most of the time parents try to bring in new craft ideas that they can enjoy with their kids while preparing for Christmas. You can even find many craft products for your kids at Baker Ross.
Take a felt cloth and cut two pieces out of it in the form of socks.
Now sew or staple them together in such a way that top remains open.
Stick the sides with lace to hide the staple and use felt pieces and buttons to decorate the socks.
Use patterned paper to cover cardboard tubes.
Now cut a triangle for reindeer head and two small and big oval shapes for ears from paper.
Now paste the small one inside the big one and fold them in half. Now paste these oval ears on the two sides of the triangle.
Now paste the triangle on the cardboard.
You can have antlers prepared for your deer using pipes and straws.
Christmas tree with cones
Take cone water cup and paint it with green colour.
Now use ribbon or rick rack to wrap around it.
Now decorate it with pom-poms.
Cut the shape of some snowmen out of felt cloth.
Now prepare some hats for snowmen from some coloured felt.
Now glue the hats on the snowmen.
Put holes inside the snowmen and pass a string through it.
So you will have a series of snowmen together.
Get sugar cookie dough for your kid.
Roll them and ask your kids to cut different shapes out of it.
Bake the cookie and now decorate them with cream cheese or peanut butter.
Kids with strong motor skills grow up to become active and intelligent. Different art lessons and craft activities helps kids to improve their motor skills as well as strengthens the muscles of wrist and hands. Some of the ways to improve the motor skills are:
Playing with play dough helps kid to use its hands to stretch and squeeze, thus strengthen their hand muscles. They also develop their sensory experience.
Painting helps in improving eye and hand coordination. So why not give your child a paper and paint brush to start working on it.
Drawing and using colour pencils also helps to improve the motor skills in kids. Moreover, they learn to hold the pencil using the forefinger and thumb.
Making craft items helps the child to widen their imagination and bring in creative ideas.
Kids should be encouraged to get involved in more of such craft and art lessons. Click here to get these products for less from your favourite stores.
What are your favourite crafts to do with your kids at Christmas?
I do have a wool obsession and I totally admit to it- but this time I’m not talking about me!
I have 2 cats at the moment and had another before the youngest came but he unfortunately is no longer with us. My eldest cat Tilly, is 5yrs old and during that time I have always been a knitter, this means I have stashed wool everywhere, and I mean everywhere. However, not once has she bothered to even take it under her notice. Our second cat George when he was alive only bothered when I was actually trying to knit as the slight movement of the ball of wool would be too tempting.
Now our youngest cat, Minnie is a total minx. Not only does she love a ball of wool but she can sniff them out at a hundred paces and can find them and take them for a walk wherever I try to hide them and believe me I really do have to hide them now.
Do not be fooled by the lazy appearance, she had just worn herself out while I had been out. I came back to find this…..
Not just the one ball of wool, normally the red one that she finds tucked away under a desk in my bedroom ( that one is like a little surrogate baby to her), Oh no she went to town and decided to get through a plastic bag full of wool that I have been using to make a crocheted blanket with…….
It can be such a pain in the arse at times especially when you are using the wool to make something for someone, but equally it is a bit cute when she sneaks downstairs with a ball of wool in her gob with the strand of wool leading all the way up two flights of stairs!! We have tried letting her have the red ball to play with but she is never satisfied with that and I can find chomped balls of wool downstairs, up on the landing, in the boys rooms, and up a second set of stairs in my room. I need something cat proof……………………… like a whole separate house for my wool stash to be safe ( not sure the hubby would agree to that one though). I suppose it could be worse, she could bring me presents of another kind, like dead things and that would NOT be good.
We were invited to be one of the first to try a new exercise class soon to be launched in Jan 2015 aimed at 8-16 year olds in particular called ‘Active crew’. My 14 year old son decided he would give it a go to see what it was like.
We headed over to The Virgin Active Club in Acton were the launch was taking place and were lucky enough to grab a chat with the founder of ZUU Chimps, Nathan Helberg who was extremely lovely, chatty and enthusiastic about the exercises the kids were about to try. He explained how it was fun so kids didn’t realise that they were exercising and empowers them at the same time.
The class itself was broken down into several stages ranging from ‘animalistic’ style movements to coordination and agility style exercises that included the use of Sandbells and Fitlights with rest periods in between and a lot of high fiving along the way. Another element of the Active Crew is SAQ (Speed, Agility and Quickness) training, a programme that has actually been used by a variety of sports starts from Andy Murrey to the Manchester United Football Team.
At first my youngest thought the exercises were a bit weird considering they were called ‘gorilla’ and ‘bear’ and ‘iguana’ amongst others! But as the time went on and the high fiving continued he felt more relaxed within the group which is essentially one of the key characteristics of the class anyway.
As you can see by these pictures that were taken during the class all the kids were definitely engaged and focused with all the range of exercises they were asked to try. The fact that it’s non competitive meant that the ones who were shy or embarrassed at the start of the class weren’t overpowered by either louder, or stronger kids that were taking part, and this part of the class is just as important as the exercise itself. It’s fun games, that do not exclude anyone, that get 8-16year olds off their backsides, away from the technology that is taking over their lives and socialising face to face with other kids and adults in a friendly, safe environment.
When I chatted to my son afterwards he said he enjoyed it, that it was something different and that his legs had literally gone to jelly!!!
The exercise could in effect be done in the smallest of places with no real fancy equipment so could be suitable for a number of groups, for instance, we are volunteer leaders at our local Cub Scout group and some of the exercises based on animal movements would be a great activity to run for that age group. So we will be calling on my son ( as a young leader) at the group to put the kids through their paces soon!
Active Crew is currently running in 25 clubs and will be launching nationwide in Jan 2015. To find your nearest club visit www.virginactive.co.uk
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First of all this post is really, really late but I will explain that in another post!
Anyway on to the cherry popping.
So Britmums Live again, after listening to all the talk on Twitter last year, looking at all the fab pictures and generally feeling like I had missed out, I decided that 2014 was definitely the year I was going to go.
The venue was fabulous even on the outside.
To say I was nervous was the biggest understatement. It’s ok to be brave chatting to people from behind a screen via Twitter and Facebook but going inside when it seemed everyone knew each other was daunting. Thankfully there was an arranged meet up beforehand for some newbies in a local Starbucks. This was great as we were all in the same position and it was good to meet a group of people before getting inside the venue.
The place was huge and absolutely mobbed with hundreds of excitable bloggers in a party mood.
I learned a lot from Britmums Live 2014. The agenda was packed and I certainly made the most of being a newbie and attended loads the sessions on offer. I was inspired by Capture by Lucy and I came away with some fab ideas, from sprucing up my site, talking better pics and generally being more confident about what I do. My favourite one was definitely Geekmummy who ran the tech session which was absolutely packed to the rafters and my pen was whizzing down dot com’s all over the place to help with the technical side of making changes on my site. I’m such a bloody technophobe it’s embarrassing!
It was rounded off by the Bloggers’ Keynote which had me laughing and then crying within minutes. Between that and the amazing opening keynote that morning from Benjamin Brooks- Dutton at Life as a Widower who reduced us all to blubbering wrecks from his speech but managed to be engaging and funny and upbeat all at the same time.
All in all I did thoroughly enjoy Britmums Live although I still felt very awkward and new and out of place, I met some lovely bloggers in the same position, had some great fun at the sessions and enjoyed some fabulous food from the Morrisons kitchen. However, due to my M.E the 2 days took it’s toll and so with that in mind I have decided that next year I definitely need to stay over in a hotel…………….. you know just to cut down on the travel……………..and not have such an early start on the Saturday………………nothing at all to do with staying out afterwards for a sneaky cocktail and a cooked breakfast in the morning……………. no not that at ALL!