Playtme: It's For More Than Just Fun

Play is what kids do. It needs no explanation, it’s all in good fun, after all. But play is also incredibly important. Many young animals play to imitate and learn the behaviours that will help them in later life and humans are no different. It plays a huge role in their cognitive, emotional, physical, and intellectual development and providing the right kind of play can make a huge difference. However, we’re at risk of losing the value of educational playtime. So, here are a few ideas to make sure your kids get everything they need to out of play.

Toddler Gift Guide [Christmas]

Naturally, Christmas is my favourite time of the year, I love nothing more than spending time with family, eating lots of food - which I tend to regret come the new year, and give gifts to the people I care about. This year, Isabelle is that little bit older making this year a lot more special for her as she is going to be aware of what is going on, and I know that she is going to love tearing open her gifts! Finding her the perfect presents haven't been all that easy though, she isn't a typical toddler, but she is a typical little sister in the sense that she wants everything her big sister wants! I thought that I would share with you a few things that would make the perfect Christmas gift for a toddler.

Preschooler Gift Guide [Christmas]

With Christmas fast approaching everyone is turning their attention to buying gifts! I know I certainly am, I actually found this Christmas harder than previous ones, not because there was nothing my girls wanted, but because there were so many suitable items it was hard to pick what they would love the most. I thought I would share a preschooler gift guide with you - most of these things I actually have on my list for Emily, as I know that she will love them. 

Christmas Card Pictures

I spent my day taking the most beautiful Christmas card pictures, but when it came to actually editing the pictures I realised that Emily's ear was tucked behind her Alice band meaning it looked like she didn't actually have an ear. So I had to retake them - I also got a few cute ones the first time around which was disappointing. I'm glad that I did have to retake them tough, as the second lot I took I loved way more than the first lot. So I thought that I'd share with you my Christmas card pictures for this year. I actually brought some Christmas card frames in the sale last year, meaning I got 8 for 50p. I plan to use the free print app to print off the pictures, which means the Christmas cards will work out pretty cheap.

Playmobil Children's Playground [review]

We've never brought Playmobil before, for no reason other than it just wasn't something Emily had ever reached for, she was more into trains and babies than anything else, but as her imagination had grown she has started to reach for toys that inspire imaginative play more. We were recently given the opportunity to review a Playmobil Children's playground, and I couldn't wait to see what Emily thought of Playmobil.

Letters To Santa

With it being so close to December, the only thing that is on Emily's mind is what she would like from Santa, she also informed me that her friends have been telling her what is on their list, and she must write her letter so that she won't get forgotten - as if that would ever happen. I decided that we would use the Royal Mail Santa post this year, and I know that it gets extremely busy, and the deadline is December 7th.

Money Saving At Christmas

Even though it is just the start of December, I am happy to say that I am completely finished when it comes to Christmas gifts. Which means I can now spend the rest of December doing lots of fun festive things, without worrying about spending extra money on extra gifts. I had planned to save more this year, and not go overboard with the girl's gifts like I normally do, as I'm a sucker for buying things to keep adding to their list. With that in mind, I thought that I would share how I saved money this year.

A Creative Countdown To Christmas For Children

Every year, the countdown to Christmas starts just after Halloween. In fact, most shops begin to pack Christmas decorations at about the same time they bring pumpkins and skeleton costumes to the aisles, which can create a somehow disturbing ambience. If you’re a fan of Tim Burton, you might be thinking of the Nightmare Before Christmas! But ultimately, this approach can somehow ruin the magic of Christmas. First of all, it starts far too early – seriously do you need to think about Santa as early as October? – and it somehow reduces the festive spirit to a commercial farce.

Looking After Your Car At Winter Time.

Since having children, our main priority has become their safety, especially when they are in the car. It took us absolutely ages to decide on their car seats, I spent hours, if not weeks looking at different types of car seats, all of their safety features, and reviews. We finally settled upon one, but I couldn't believe how look it took us to make a choice.

Getting Out & Exploring The Mini Woods..

You know when you just wake up in the morning and feel like you really need to get out of the house, I woke up in one of those types of moods - I guess it didn't help that the girls were content on ripping strips out of each other. So I decided that I'd wrap them up in their coats and bobble hats and then get out, If anything was going to improve our moods, it would be getting outside.

Homemade Grandparent Gifts [Little Brian Paint Sticks]

Every year I make an effort to make a handmade gift for the girl's grandparents. I do find it extremely hard to find gifts for them that I know they will like and use, and I know that they much prefer something that the girls have made and put lots of time, thought and effort into. I was recently sent some paint sticks by Little Brian, some of the fabric paints to be precise and that's when I just knew what I was going to do for grandparents gifts!

My Baby Day's Are Over...

Well, I felt like I needed to come on here and just blurt everything out because I'm feeling a little emotional tonight. Emily was my first, everything she did was a first, all the milestones she hit (and continues to hit) were firsts. With Isabelle, it lasts, as she is our last baby, and we treasure that milestone hitting moments just as much as we did the first time, but in a different kind of way. We treasure them differently because it's the last time I'm going to experience those moments with my own child. She is the last baby I will have, which is a little sad and something I'm still struggling to come to terms with as nothing really beats squishy baby cuddles but I know it is the right thing for me, and our family. My body just couldn't handle another pregnancy - anyway I'm going a little off topic here.

Bonfire Night Firework Display

Monday was bonfire night, and naturally, we wanted to take the girls to a firework display. Both of my girls absolutely love firework, me on the other hand - not so keen but I don't want my dislike to rub off on them so I set it aside and take them anyway. We headed down to a local display at a school, and the girls had the best time watching the fireworks.

Fireworks Biscuits

This week we rustled up some firework biscuits, they are so easy to make and it's likely you already have the ingredients in your cupboard if you wanted to recreate this recipe. Emily actually made the biscuits all by herself, she just needed a little help getting the biscuit dough off the table, as she always messed the shapes up a little when she was trying to pick them up. Emily picked out a star cutter and also a circle one. I was a little bit disappointed that some of the biscuits caught in the oven but sometimes these things just happen, don't they.

Pumpkin Carving & Trick Or Treat

Happy Halloween! I know there are many people who don't celebrate Halloween and while I'm not thrilled about the idea of my girls knocking on peoples doors, Its something Emily has been so excited to do as all her friends at preschool have been talking about. With Isabelle being dairy free too it adds an extra worry to everything, luckily she is still at an age where she doesn't really notice if we take away things from her bucket or she has less. 

Halloween Themed Dinner

Tonight we had big plans to make a spooky Halloween dinner, something that we do every year, and every year I mean to share it but I forget to. This year we made it a little early, with Halloween being in the middle of the week it makes it a little bit hard for us, today we did lots of fun Halloween activities, and then finished the day making a spooky Halloween tea, tomorrow we are planning to carve our pumpkins, something I can't wait to do with the girls.

Halloween Jelly Sensory Play

I used to share out craft and sensory play on my blog often, but somewhere along the line, I just didn't share as much and I really miss sharing my craft ideas. I love nothing more than crafting, cooking or messy play with my girls. I had previously tried jelly play with Emily last Halloween, but she wouldn't even touch it, she is a little funny when it comes to textures - so I was interested to see how she would react this year. 

Autumn Scented Playdough & Conker Snails

I love nothing more than crafting with my girls, which I'm sure is really obvious by now - I do seem to go on about it quite a lot. October, November and December are my favourite months, I love Halloween, autumn, and Christmas of course. I love to do themed crafts with the girls around those festivities. Autumn themed playdough is always really popular with Emily and it is so easy to make playdough, I'm not sure why more people don't make it.

Picking Our Pumpkins

At the weekend we headed to our local farm shop to pick our pumpkins, we had plans to visit a pick your own pumpkin field this year, but unfortunately, our plans fell through. I didn't mind though, as we still managed to pick up some lovely pumpkins and support our local farm shop. We have been going to the same farm shop for the past three years to pick our pumpkins, so it has become a kind of tradition for us to go there. 

Witches Potions [Sensory Play]

One of Emily's favourite Halloween themed books is 10 little monsters, and in it, the witches make brews - which is her favourite part of the book. Naturally, with Halloween coming up I wanted to make some witches potions or brews with her, as I knew that she would absolutely love the activity. I already had some water beads which I knew would be the perfect sensory item to go with this activity. I also added in some Halloween props which added to the activity.

Pizza Swirls

As you know Emily and I absolutely love to be in the kitchen, baking, cooking or rustling up something yummy. For her fourth birthday, the only thing that she asked for was a new cookbook, which of course I got for her. We are yet to bake anything from it, but Emily has asked that we make sausage casserole next week which is one of the recipes from her new cookbook. We have been trying to come up with some quick and easy dinner ideas at the moment though. Wednesday is one of our busiest days, we are out from 1ish till about 5. So dinner is always a mad rush on a Wednesday. I have been trying to make use of my slow cooker, but Emily isn't really keen on filling dinners. She tends to fill herself up at lunchtime and then want a snackish type dinner.

Maple Cat Family - Sylvanian Families [Review]

Emily very kindly sent a new Sylvanian families family to review, and when it arrived in the post she was beyond excited to open it and add the new maple cats to her ever-growing collection. The maple cat family is made up of Theodore, Georgina, Jasper and Millie.

Rice Krispie Cakes

Since Emily is at preschool twice a week now, I have been making a real effort to spend time with Isabelle one on one rather than just using the time to get all my jobs done. Something that I have always loved to do with Emily was baking and it seems that Isabelle wants to follow in her footsteps. Whenever I start to cook dinner, or get out the baking ingredients to rustle something up, shes right at my feet asking to help. So naturally, when we had a spare couple of hours while Emily was at preschool I thought that we would rustle up some Krispie cakes.

Crunching & Collecting Leaves

You know when you just wake up, and your in one of those 'I can't be bothered to do anything moods' - well I woke up like that, and decided rather than giving in to it, I was going to get up, get dressed and get out. I put a casserole into the slow cooker, got us all dressed and headed out the door. It did me wonders, it literally turned my whole day around. I had plans to make some autumn themed homemade playdough with the girls, and we had already picked up conkers and acorns. The only thing that was left for us to collect was some crunchy leaves. 

Autumn Wish List

With the colder weather approaching, its been time to pull out all of the chunky knitwear from last year, while I do have few lovely items from last year I do need to buy a few more pieces as I'm seriously lacking warmer clothing. Simply Be seem to be my go-to shop when I'm looking for items of clothing, its a brand that I have always shopped with, and I find that there clothing is good quality and lasts a little while. I thought I'd share with you the few things I have been lusting over lately.

Guess who's back.. back again!

I’ve been staring at a blank screen for approximately 20 minutes now, thinking about how I should start this blog post, what I should say or how I should word it. The thing is, I feel a little bit lost with my blog at the moment. I love my little corner of the internet, being able to document and keep all of my girl's memories in one place to look back on when they’re grown - but somewhere down the line, I seem to have lost my spark a little. I haven’t posted on here in months, and when I have it’s been half-hearted or quick, then I’ve shut my laptop down again. I enjoy taking pictures of the girls, and having somewhere to share them, but lately, I just don’t think I’ve been in the right mind space to share. 

Tinky Winky Sensory Soft Toy [review]

Emily is a little television addict, she would happily sit and watch it all day long if we let her, Isabelle seems to have followed in her footsteps. One of Isabelle's favourite programs to watch is Teletubbies. She is a little bit obsessed with Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Lala and Po. Just like her big sister was. When we were contacted by Character Online to review an amazing new toy from their Teletubbies range, I knew that Isabelle would absolutely love adding a new Teletubbies to her collection so of course, I said yes.

Happy 4th Birthday Emily!

Dearest Emily,

I can’t quite believe that we have a four-year-old, I’m not sure how we got here so fast but I couldn’t imagine you being any different to how you are now. Your independent, loyal, loving and caring. Your little sister is your best friend and it seems that you will do everything with her, and even include her in the activities that are a little too big for her - which melts my heart. I love how much you love her, and I know that she loves you just as much as you do her.

Vampirina Bootastic Backpack [Review]

Emily was lucky enough to be sent some new Disney junior Vampirina goodies for us to review and she couldn't wait to try them out. As you can see from the look on her face, she was super excited! 

The Gruffalo My First Puzzles [Review]

Isabelle was kindly sent a lovely package from Ravensburger. They kindly sent her The Gruffalo My First Puzzles. The set contains 9 two-piece puzzles which were aimed at children age 18 months +. Each jigsaw has a chunky illustrated frame, everyone is different and they all depict scenes and characters from the very much loved, and well-known book 'The Gruffalo'.

Puddle Splashing & Flower Hunting

Today the weather seemed to turn, the sun disappeared and the rain I've been wishing for just started to fall and I couldn't of been more excited about it if I tried. I absolutely love the rain and as much as it was nice to have such warm weather, I was so happy for a break in it. Emily has been whining and moaning for the past couple of weeks as there aren't any puddles for her to jump in. We had tried to create our own by chucking water on the floor but it been so hot that it literally just evaporated in seconds. Leaving me with a really grumpy child - with an attitude cause you know she's a threenager.

PlayMais Mosaic [Review]

Emily was recently sent some PlayMais mosaic sets to try out, naturally, she picked the mermaid set, as she is currently obsessed with mermaids. Before writing this review I hadn't actually heard of PlayMais before which is actually a little bit of a shock because we absolutely love crafting in our house, and these are right up our street. 

What's In The Girls Holiday Bags

We are away on holiday in a couple of weeks, and I thought that I would put together a bag of things for the girlies to play with, and keep them occupied while we are there. I always pack snacks, and a few of their toys into our bags to take with us so they have something to play with in the apartment but I wanted to pack them their own little bag of things to take with us as a treat.

Isabelle's First Time On The Beach

We recently took the girls on holiday to one of our favourite places, Hemsby. Which is about five miles from Great Yarmouth. It's somewhere Sam and I have always gone, we have pretty much gone every year since we have been together. We stayed in a friends caravan and had an amazing week, it was even better because we had absolutely amazing weather. I never expected it to be so warm, but I'm glad it was because we had a really lovely time.

Siblings [July]

My girl's relationship seems to have really changed lately, they are both scrapping a lot more than they previously were. I'm not sure if it is the fact Isabelle is a lot more independent and on her feet lots more, or because Emily is on holiday from preschool, but it's driving me absolutely bonkers. They are still really loving towards each other and do get on really well, but they just seem to fight over the same thing constantly. I don't think that the age gap between them helps in the sense they are kind of into the same things, but Isabelle is more about bashing things and carrying them around, whereas Emily wants to sit and play using her imagination and she doesn't get much chance to with Isabelle stealing the toys as soon as she turns around.

Our Holiday - Hemsby, Great Yarmouth

I just want to say a little sorry right at the beginning of this post, as it's going to be quite picture heavy. I took a lot of pictures while we were away in Hemsby, and I love so many of them I really struggled to chop it down. We had an absolutely amazing time, we went for 5 day, 4 nights and I didn't want to leave. I didn't think that the girls would settle as well as they did in the caravan and thought we would be in for sleepless nights, but we honestly tired them out so much during the day that they slept like a dream. 

Celebrating Isabelle's First Birthday At Paradise Wildlife Park

Turning one is a big deal, isn't it? I'm a big believer that when my children are all grown up, they are going to look back on our days out, and the memories we made, rather than what presents they got. We had actually planned a trip to cebeebies land at Alton towers for Isabelle's first birthday, but it was so hot that we decided to give that a miss, as I couldn't imagine queuing for 45 minutes plus with two children when it is really hot. They would both be miserable and I know they wouldn't have enjoyed it as much.

Giving The Girls Room A Makeover

Just before Isabelle was born, I decided to give the girls room a makeover, if As they will, of course, be sharing a bedroom soon, and their room used to be fairly dark and uninviting. I picked a really pale pink colour, which is almost white, and it really brightened up the room, not to mention the fact that almost all of their furniture is white. I adore the girl's bedroom it is definitely my favourite in the house, although it doesn't feel finished. 

BRIO Stacking Clown [Review]

If you are a regular reader, you will know that we are big fans of wooden toys in our home. I prefer them, I think they look nicer and brighter but they also last longer, and even when they are knocked and bashed, they still look good as new. We were recently sent the BRIO stacking clown to review, and I couldn't wait to get it out to show the girls.

Cajun Chicken Pasta

We love a good pasta dish in our house, they are quick and simple to throw together and you can add just about anything to pasta. One meal I have been cooking more than normal lately is this cajun chicken pasta. It's really tasty, super easy to throw together and the leftovers make a good lunch when it is eaten cold the next day. Win win right? I thought that I would share the recipe, incase anyone else fancied recreating it. 

In The Night Garden Live At Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham

Flicking over to channel 205 just after six has become a daily routine for us, Emily has been a fan of in the night garden since she was months old, Isabelle seems to be following in her big sister's footsteps, as she has fallen in love with it just as much as Emily. We were recently invited to go and see In The Night Garden Live at Cannon Hill Park in Birmingham. We have previously taken Emily to see the show before and was really impressed, so I knew that we would enjoy it again this time.

Parent Groups & Sports Day [Ordinary Days]

Emily has been attending a group on a Tuesday morning for quite some time now, it was actually a really big deal for me to take her, as I'm sure you know if your regular readers I really struggle with social situations, it sets off my anxiety and my PND so I have just tended to avoid baby/toddler groups. However, that seemed to change slightly when Isabelle was born. I didn't want to be that mum who was stuck indoors for fear of going out and to put it bluntly I was so lonely because I was at home most of the day by myself, with the girls and I didn't really have any mum friends. I never thought I ever would have mum friends. Now when I look back on it, I really regret not pushing myself to go sooner - Emily has made some absolutely lovely lifelong friends, some of which will go to the same school as her next year, and I think that I have made some mum friends too - although my social anxiety does make me doubt that quite a lot of the time.

Home Improvements

When we moved into our little flat almost four years ago now - how has it gone that fast? We had big plans, there were quite a few things on our list to fix, or replace, to do up or pull out, and I'm happy to say that we are slowly getting through that list. As much as living in a flat frustrated us both, especially when it comes to the girls and wanting to be able to play outside, I don't think we will move anytime soon. We are in the perfect area for the girls. It's lovely here, and the girls are so happy. We are close to the school Emily will go to, and everything we need is right on our doorstep. We are also quite lucky in the sense we are in between two great big greens, so the girls do have plenty of space to run around and play. With that in mind, I thought I would share with you the few things we are currently working on.

Opening Gifts & Birthday Cake

I have to admit that I am a little bit sad that the weekend is over, we had the loveliest weekend making memories as a family, and celebrating Isabelle's first birthday. We actually decided to do presents and everything on the Friday, because we decided to go out for the day on Saturday and it didn't seem fair for Isabelle to open her gifts and then not have a chance to play with them, I also knew that she wouldn't open every single one. After all, she is only one, I knew how tempting the one package she'd opened would be and knew full well that our little feisty bug wouldn't want to open anymore and I was completely right.

Happy 1st Birthday Isabelle!

Dearest Isabelle 

How is it possible you have been in our life for 52 weeks already, 365 whole days since we first met you, held you, and fell in love with you. I can’t believe you’ve been with us a whole year already, I was always warned that the first year goes fast, but I never imagined it would be this fast. I remember the first time we saw your perfect little face, you looked so cute and your skin was absolutely flawless. I remember thinking you looked just like your big sister and thanking my stars that I was lucky enough to have another beautiful, healthy baby girl. I still can’t believe I’m a mama of two and feel incredibly lucky to have you in my life. 

Isabelle's Cake Smash

Isabelle's first birthday is coming up really fast. When Emily's first birthday was approaching I knew that I wanted to do a cake smash for her. Simply because I thought that it was a nice way to capture some memories and it will be nice to look back on. I decided to do a cake smash with Isabelle as I absolutely adore my pictures of Emily.

Sylvanian Families Designer Studio [Review]

I'm sure it goes without saying, but Emily is a huge fan of Sylvanian families, she loves nothing more than collecting the various sets. They're adorable, and appealing to children of all ages, they are great for encouraging imaginative independent play, and for me, they are a toy that you never really grow out of. Here you can find our previous reviews of the Ballet Theatre and Starry Point Lighthouse.

Summer Bucket List [2018]

As always, every year I put together a bucket list of things that we want to do over the summer months, and this year is no different. I thought that I would share our summer bucket list with you in case you wanted or needed some ideas of things to do over the summer period. Sadly there is no ballet or preschool during the summer holidays so I will be trying to find as many things as I can to do with the girls.

BRIO Race Car [Review]

Isabelle was very kindly sent this BRIO racing car to review. Brio is a brand that is well known in our household, both Sam and I had Brio train track when we were children, and naturally, when we were looking for train track for the girls it's the brand we gravitated towards. 

First Birthday Gift Guide

With Isabelle's first birthday drawing closer, I have been thinking about the perfect things for her first birthday and thought I would share with you a few of the things that we have actually purchased for her. I found it really hard to find items for Isabelle as she has a big sister who has most of the toys Isabelle would have liked, so I didn't need to repurchase things. 

Family Fun Day & Face Paints [Ordinary Days]

There was a family fun day being held on Saturday at our local church, which seemed like a fab event. After speaking to a few of Emily's friend's parents it turned out that quite a few of them had plans to take their kiddos along. So I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to take my girls along and get to know a few of the other parents a little better - but also it was a great opportunity for Emily to see her friends outside of group/preschool, and in her eyes it was the best thing ever because there was a bouncy castle!

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