Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Christmas Gift Guide For the Children

The festive season is in full swing, the shops are stocks with tinsel and gifts. The carols are playing and festive adverts are on every commercial break. If your children are like mine they have requested something from every commercial break they have seen. Here are few of our top buys this year that we have tried and tested.

LeapPad Platinum 3-9 years
 LeapPad has always been a popular choice with my children. We have had the LeapPad Ultra and I must say that the Platinum offers so much more. My youngest two have enjoyed the new feature of scanning the Imagicards using the LeapPads camera. It brings the learning to life and there are 30+ interactive cards included. As with all of the LeapPad tablets they are durable and offer child friendly internet content. Additional users can be added to the tablet which allows it to be shared among the family and each child can save their own game progress. Games from previous models can be used on the LeapPad Platinum which we find brilliant as we have built up quite a collection over the years.  The LeapPad Platinum has a RRP of £99.99

Additional Imagicards can be bought for the tablet. We have the mathematics set which feature the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My youngest son loves maths but gets bored of plain homework quickly. Being able to learn fractions, multiplication and division in a fun way means it is not so much of a chore for him and he is spends more time learning. The Imgicard sets have a RRP of £19.99 and they are suitable for a variety of ages.

Baby Annebell Brother 3-7 years
We have had many Baby Annabell's over the years, my older girls always had one and they both loved the features back then. The love of Baby Annabell has not skipped my youngest daughter either.
I was pleased to discover Baby Annabell has a baby brother. My youngest was rather happy when we handed her a doll that could be given a boys name. Annabell's little brother comes dressed in a blue baby grow with matching hat. He also comes with accessories such as the bib, dummy, bottle, nappy and lamb pendant for your child. Baby brother is as interactive as his sister. He cries, drinks, babbles and gurgles all with realistic movement of his eyes and mouth. The features my daughter loves the most is he cries tears and can also wee on command. My daughter has fed this baby so much water to watch him cry so she can comfort him I am starting to feel sorry for him.
Baby brother has not been far from her side since we handed him to her so I am certain it will make a much loved gift for any child this year. 

Rhian has a love of animals including mythical creatures. This ride on unicorn from ZooHood has been used daily since we gave it to her. The shoulder straps are adjustable and the body features a velco opening which makes putting it on easier for children that can't easily step into it. The tips of the wings have a small elasticated loop which can be place over a finger which enables your child to pretend to fly. The unicorn has a pretty pink flower bridle and reins which controls the unicorns head. For £27.99 this unicorn has provided hours of imaginative play for my daughter.

DenTek Kids Toothbrush Cover
I couldn't do a guide without finding a stocking filler. DenTek have created a hygienic yet cute way for your child to store their toothbrush. There are five designs to choose from; A lion, cow, penguin, dog and panda.
The toothbrush cover has two suction cups that sticks to mirrors or tiles.
The belly of the cover opens when your child pulls on their toothbrush. The toothbrush can easily be placed back into the cover by flipping open the lions belly. My son loves his DenTek Toothbrush cover and my other children have all asked for one too.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from us all at Mummy2five

Friday, 28 October 2016

Teen Girls Bedroom Makeover

When we first moved here five years ago everything was done quickly and on a tight budget. Not much thought was put into decorating and we chose what we thought the girls would like. So for the last five years they have lived with cream and pink stripes that apparently they hated. They also didn't really have any kind of organisation to their room. They are both typical teens that can create a huge mess looking for one item. I had grown sick of telling them to tidy their room and put things in proper places but that was the problem. They had no proper place to store all of their things. Make up everywhere, straightners left on the side, hair bobbles and bobby pins in every crevice. It was only going to get worse too since my eldest started her hairdressing course at college. So a change in their room was needed.

I knew in my head what I wanted, the girls did too. My only contribution that was used was a decent dressing table and shelving unit to sit at put on their make up and do their hair(60 times a day). I love the shabby chic look, the girls also share my taste so I trawled through the internet looking for furniture ideas. Then that is when I stumbled across a beautiful dressing table that was grey and white. It also came with a hefty price tag. My search continued and I found Annie Sloan chalk paint. This paint has had my creative brain working in overdrive and my husband wanting to hide and dreading the words "look at this".

I set about my search for a dressing table that needed some tlc. It was about 3 months later that I found a solid pine dressing table on a local selling site for £20, that same week I found a mirror and I dragged some old pine, plate shelves out of storage. Preparing them was easy, you don't need to sand with chalk paint. Painting them was a little trickier since the weather had turned. I protected paint with a water based varnish which finished them off nicely.

I gathered wallpaper ideas from the girls and went with one they both could agree on which was a duck egg owl print. I thought it would be too much of the same thing but it really does look beautiful on the wall. The girls loved it which was good as I was not about to change it.

grey bunk beds, cheap bunk bedsIt was at this point that my bedroom make over went slightly down hill or should I say costly. When I was moving their bunk beds to paint behind I noticed that they had a very bad wobble to them that didn't disappear when I tightened all of the bolts. So once again I took to the internet in search of bunk beds that wouldn't break the bank. I found a site called Mattress Man. They had beautiful grey bunk beds and were a bargain at £209 with free next day delivery. I ordered them and true to their delivery terms they arrived the next day. Unfortunately there was a small crack in one of the upper rails which made me regret buying cheaply momentarily. However, I can not fault their customer service. I emailed them and had a quick reply and a phone call. They also sent out a replacement part the next day. I dread buying online as I have dealt with so many companies that fob you off once they have your money but I can honestly say that is not the case with Mattress Man.
I think the beds finish off the room nicely and look nice with the decor.
Annie Sloan Paris grey Paint
The last few items to go in were the dressing table, mirror and shelves. All that is left to do is find them a nice duck egg rug, a dressing table stool or maybe I could paint a Tripp Trapp again and then new wardrobes.  I have two wardrobes from Mattress Man on my wish list for their room but those can wait till after Christmas just don't tell my husband.

Both of the girls love their room. They have already made great use of the dressing table and I hope that they actually keep it tidy. Otherwise I am shipping them out and moving in myself.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Paint Your Own Fairy Door

Being a Fairy Taler for The Irish Fairy Door Company brings us lots of little fairy treats which my children adore. I think one of my youngest daughters favourite has to be the Paint Your Own Fairy Door. I think it would make a fantastic present for any child this Christmas. It helps to bring the magic alive through imaginative play. 

Little lady set about painting her door as soon as she laid her eyes on it. She refused help and wanted to do it all by herself. Well that was until her purple smudged onto her pink and asked for "just a tiny bit of help and that is it, don't do anything extra mummy" were her words. For just £24.99 in this set you get the door, paints, paintbrush, felt tip pens, a selection of decorations, and as with every door the magic key in a bottle, three stepping stones, the Family / Fairy Lease Agreement, a notepad for your fairy and the Fairy Welcome Guide. Little lady decided she wanted this fairy door to be in her bedroom as the other fairies live in the garden. No sooner had it dried she was off up the stairs to find the perfect location in her bedroom. We had some Fairy Rainbow wall stickers left over so decorated her chosen area in her bedroom. She then named her fairy and wrote her a cute little note. 

Now our fairy is a genius. She replied on a few occasions telling her to be good and kind but has since decided that she can not come out to leave a note until her bedroom is tidy. This has got little lady tidying her room. Nothing has ever worked previously to get her to put her toys away and keep her room in a relatively clean state. The fairy magic has worked, see like I said our fairy is a genius.
I plan to utilise the door and its fairy magic on the countdown to Christmas. I am certain there will be plenty of fairy accessories on her Christmas list this year.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Storage solutions and space savers for tiny kitchens

Recently we had our kitchen and bathroom renovated. The dust and the mayhem that went with it was not pleasant at all. It was a month of tripping over clutter, workmen and each other as we tried to manage the best we could with the heart of the home not being accessible. But now the dust has cleared and the kitchen is transformed. I am happily filling it with pretty, yet useful things. We are a large family with a tiny kitchen so making use of all of the space available is a must.
I kindly had a few products sent to me. Firstly I was sent the Forminimal Utensils/ Knife Holder and Board from Red Candy. This handy utensils holder sits perfectly in the corner on top of your work surface and holds everything you need to prepare a meal. We store our knives in the side with the carbonised bamboo sticks. We bought all of our knives separately so never had a holder for them which meant we would be searching through the drawers for the knife we wanted. Now we can see which one we want and grab it with ease.
 In the centre of the utensils holder is the integrated bamboo cutting board. Now the board is on the small side, yet it is large enough for what we use it for. It has had lots of use on a daily basis and still looks like new. My only recommendation is to not leave it to soak in water as it is made from bamboo. To the front of the utensils holder is a large enough space to hold all of your cooking utensils. Despite it being compact we really do manage to store a lot of utensils neatly that once cluttered our drawers. It blends in with my kitchen perfectly and I think it is worth the £40 price tag. 

I was also sent a selection of OXO's Cereal Dispensers. Prior to us receiving these we had one full cupboard that was designated to just cereal alone. Again being a large family of seven with different tastes I had boxes of cereal all squashed into one cupboard. Some half full, some on the occasion empty as the teens have not yet discovered where the recycling bags are. Sometimes I had two boxes of the same cereal open at the same time. These cereal dispensers have made our mornings a little easier. They are available in three different sizes and we received a selection of all three. The 4.2L dispenser can easily hold two boxes of cereal. The 3.2L and 2.3L dispensers can both hold one standard size box.
All of the dispensers have airtight seals that have one handed opening and closing. There is a contoured grip on each of the transparent dispensers which helps you to grab them out of the cupboard and hold securely with one hand whilst pouring the cereal into the bowl. Every part of them can be easily cleaned with instructions on the packaging to show you how to refit the seals after cleaning, but to be honest it is a really simple task. I love these cereal dispensers and would not hesitate to buy more. All of our cereal is fresh, the children can see which cereals we have available and I can see which cereal we are running low on. The prices start from £14 which I do think are worth it as the space we have saved and money saved due to not having to throw out cereal that has lost its freshness.

Both of these products are a great addition to any kitchen but are excellent for those like me that have a really small kitchen.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Student Security this September

The new academic year has officially started and it seems like your head is filled with last minute to-dos and preparations each morning. Have they got the correct packed lunch, do they need their PE Kit today?

Starting a new school year can be daunting for Mums, Dads and students alike, and with so much going on it’s understandable that parents often forget to spare a thought for security and if their child’s belongings are kept safe throughout the day. As a result, security specialist Yale has put together its handy hacks to help relieve that September stress.

As it becomes increasingly commonplace to leave expensive possessions in school bags, which are left unsupervised and vulnerable to theft, more and more schools are now actively encouraging students to consider security measures more seriously.

Does your child take a smartphone with them to school? Research has revealed that mobile phones are the most frequently stolen item in the UK. With 90% of children aged between eight and 14 now owning a mobile phone, it’s worth considering how to secure these.*

Why not consider a padlock for your child’s school bag or rucksack? These don’t have to be bulky or obtrusive. Novelty padlocks are ideal for children heading back to school, as they’re affordable, stylish and practical. Available in a variety of styles and colours, each Yale padlock comes with either a three or four dial combination lock that is easily re-settable.

The Active and Street Style padlocks offer a simplistic yet stylish design and are available in a number of colours. For fashion fanatics the handbag-shaped Fashion Dreams and Party Girl padlocks are perfect accessories, whereas the Football Padlock is ideal for footy fans.

Additionally, is your child always forgetting or losing their house key? Consider investing in a smart lock. Yale’s Keyless and Keyfree smart locks mean there is no need to worry if your child arrives home early or if they’ve lost their keys as you can let them in remotely via your smartphone. With a smart lock you can choose how you want to open the door whether it be using a PIN code, key card, key tag, remote fob or smartphone.

To find out about the latest security products to protect your little ones this September, head over to the Yale website.

*National Mobile Phone Crime unit

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Kitchen and Bathroom Renovations

We moved into our home five years ago this Autumn. The house is big with large gardens but the kitchen is tiny. For a family of seven things were tight in the kitchen with two double floor units, 3 single floor units and one wall cabinet. We had to combine our washer & dryer and then all we had room for was a fridge freezer. The kitchen is accessible from the lounge which means that one wall in the small lounge can not be used due to it having two doors on it and then access to the electric/storage cupboard. I've never been happy with the kitchen layout and when I saw that my area was listed for a new kitchen I initially thought that due to the kitchen only being five years old that we would not be listed for a new one. So when we were offered a new kitchen and bathroom from the council we were rather happy. 
The kitchen in 2011
When the contractors came I was itching to be able to design the kitchen to make the best use of the space we have. I didn't think we would get much say with it being a council house, I thought we would get to choose a colour from a small selection and that was that. How wrong was I. Whilst talking to the design team they said we could have what we wanted(within reason of course) so when I asked if the door to the kitchen could be moved to the hall they said yes, no questions asked. Moving the door creates more space in the lounge and changes the kitchen into more of a galley kitchen.
We selected our colour choices, opting for ivory doors with an oak block worktop(I have dreamt of this kitchen for years). The flooring we have gone for a dark grey colour. I think a lighter colour would have looked more aesthetically pleasing however, from past experience light flooring does not look its best after it has be trodden on a few times with mucky feet from the garden. The vinyl floor tiles we currently have are a nightmare to clean and never come up nice after scrubbing and using a steam floor cleaner on them.  
With the kitchen chosen all that was left to do was wait and de-clutter the house. When speaking to the council they said it would be after Christmas before the kitchen would be fitted. Then a surveyor came knocking on the door to inform us that it would in fact be done in a few weeks, coinciding with when the children break up from school(talk about bad timing).
So with a rush of de-cluttering and finding places for everything out of my kitchen and bathroom I have been rushed off my feet. We have set up a small kitchen area in my hallway(thankfully the hall is large) and yesterday the contractors came to make a start. 

Day One
Kitchen and Bathroom Rip Out Day

We were warned prior to the work starting that when they rip everything out, back to the bare shell of the house it will not be a pretty sight. Due to the house being a pre-fabricated house and not a traditional built house the bare shell looks bad. I was actually eager to see how my home is built. The house shakes in strong winds, during the summer they are like greenhouses and in the winter they are as warm as a static caravan. But the sight that I was met with when I returned home yesterday was not as bad as I envisioned. I can now see why the upper floor creaks with every step. The small wooden baton on top of the metal floor joists creates the creaking noises. The insulation is not at its best either but considering the houses were not built to last they are doing pretty well. 

The bathroom is the same as the kitchen only if I stand on the bath(like all normal people do) I can see right outside and into the eaves of the house. I am sure the birds that were nesting there are not impressed and we will have a flurry of creepy crawlies move in but only one week to go before it is sealed back up again.

Today as I sit in waiting for the plumbers to arrive I shall be browsing online and making a shopping list of new items that I would like for my new kitchen. I think the only thing that will get me through the next few weeks of renovations is coffee and lots of trips out to burn off the children's energy.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Hobbycraft Teepee Play Tent

A while back Hobbycraft kindly sent us a Teepee Play Tent for review. The teepee comes ready for you to decorate however you or your child wishes to do so. The only things you need is some materials and a little bit of imagination.
I pulled it all out of the box and inserted the wooden poles and tada it was up, in my living room I might add. Inside is where little lady spent the next few hours after collecting every stuffed toy she owns for a private tea party. I stared at the blank white canvas from the outside, little lady stared at it from the inside. Little lady wanted to paint handprints as shown on the box, little T recommended doing a minecraft theme but mummy2five won when I pitched my idea. I wanted a woodland theme. I pictured hedgehogs, foxes, owls and rabbits. Being a little bit crafty I had all sorts of materials and wool that allowed me to create a few little animals. But I wanted a special touch so I decided to look through clothes that had grown too small or baby clothing that I had saved from when the children were little. 

After creating templates I got to work cutting into the clothing whilst recounting great memories  from when they wore the clothes. A snip here and a stitch there and we had an owl. A little while later and Herbert the Hedgehog was created. Next was the rabbit and flower. I had found some bee appliqu├ęs and sewn a line of stitches to show where Billy the busy bee had flown from.

I had created two scenes and realised I had nothing to make a red fox out of so I am waiting for little lady to allow me to cut into one of her orange tops to create a red fox and a red squirrel. Trying to persuade a five year old that has somehow inherited your own stubbornness is no easy feat. 

In the mean time she wanted to play with her new teepee so out in the garden it went. Her and her two little cousins love it. Their own little den where their imaginations can run wild. It is one of the first thing little lady asks for me to pull out on sunny days. I am sure it will provide her with years of fun whilst providing me with great memories of the clothes she once wore.

Whilst I patiently wait for my daughter to lose a bit of stubbornness I made some bunting and a pillow for her teepee. Maybe I should admit defeat and buy some material for the fox.

The teepee is 140 x 120cm. The canvas comes plain ready for you to decorate however you wish and the quality of the canvas is great. I was impressed with the quality especially with the teepee only being £35. When your child is not using the teepee it is easy to fold up and store upright in a shed or even inside the house which is where ours is stored on rainy days. I would recommend the Hobbycraft teepee to family and friends, we loved decorating ours.

Disclaimer: I was sent the teepee for review. All opinions and images are my own. 

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Fairy Mountain with the Irish Fairy Door Company

Turn right at the butterfly house, through the gate. Move carefully forward five meters past the prowling cats and you will step into the magical world of fairy mountain. Up on fairy mountain two old trees provide the fairies of fairy mountain wonderful homes. Three homes in all but the residents stay hidden. Only when the garden falls silent do the fairies come out to play and tend to their garden.
We had previously told you about the colourful doors that the Irish Fairy Door Company provided our fairies with. Now I must show you the cute accessories that have been delivered to fairy mountain.
The Irish Fairy Door Company sent our fairies a garden set, a fairy treats plate, two packs of decal wall stickers and their fairy force book.
In the garden set they got a new wooden bench so they can rest and soak in the morning sun, a rake to tend to their gardens, a watering can so they can water their plants and a little flower to place on their table when they enjoy afternoon tea. They also received a fairy treat plate so we can put out delicious fairy treats for them. I can't speak for the fairies but I know my children adore the cute accessories from the Irish Fairy Door Company. Their imaginative play really does come alive when they play on fairy mountain. The accessories have been well played with endured all weather and still look great.
As our fairies live outdoors we have not had chance to use the decals just yet. Little lady has read through the Fairy Force book with me and enjoys the story of how Ben's bad dreams are kept away with the help of the fairies.

If you want to create your own magical fairy garden we all at mummy2five highly recommends The Irish Fairy Door Company for all that your fairy garden needs.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

To my beautiful daughter, I know your heart is breaking

Today you reached breaking point, 
today you broke down and I was not there for you.
Dad was though and I am pleased he was,
he will protect you and have your back.

School has been a struggle for years, 
we've always known that, we were prepared for that.
What we were not prepared for was the bullying,
for 3 years it has gone on, all from the same boy!

A boy, since when did boys bully girls, 
for years you have tried to hold your head high.
Been told by the teachers time and time again, 
it's just banter! Banter it is not.
I wish you would have told us how scared you were earlier, 
instead of keeping it in.
It is our job to protect you, make you feel safe, 
It is our job to ensure you are happy.

Now we know the full story we will, 
this I promise you.
I will not stop until you feel safe, 
until he is reprimanded.

Things will get better, I promise you that, 
Tomorrow we will get answers.
We will not stop until you feel safe at school, 
We will protect you.

The sad thing is you've decided not to attend prom, 
prom that you have been talking about for years.
The dress, the hair, the nails, 
how you will travel there.

We sat and we hugged and we cried together, 
we will do something special.
I don't know what and I know it will not make up for missing prom, 
but I know that you will feel safe.

I know that we will make it special, 
I know that your memories of it will be happy.
I sit here now writing this and my heart breaks for you, 
you should not be made to feel this way.

You're beautiful, you're funny, 
you're brilliant at creating great hair styles.
Far better than me,
you have your future at your feet.

To my beautiful 16 year old first born, 
I love you and that will never end.
I will fight your corner, 
that will always be the case.

I can not make up for missing prom, 
I can not promise that it will be as flash as prom would have been.
But I do promise that happy memories will be made, 
you will get a new dress and you will be with people who love you.


Friday, 5 February 2016

The Growth of Inclusive Sport in the UK

If you think sport is just for keep-fit fanatics, Sunday footballers, and those with too much time on their hands, think again – sport can play a part in everyone’s life to not only maintain a healthy body, but a healthy and active mind too. 
And that goes for everyone, regardless of age or ability level.  The growth of inclusive sport means that virtually anybody can get involved and experience the physical and psychological benefits that are associated with sport, exercise and social-interaction with like-minded people.  

The Inclusive Sport programme is a Sport England initiative designed to increase participation among disabled adults and young people from the age 14 upwards.  
The project is part of Sport England’s wider remit to increase regular sport participation by disabled people, and so far there have been two rounds of Inclusive Sport that have seen 88 projects benefit from almost £20 million of National Lottery investment. 
It’s not all about getting everyone playing football, netball or cricket though, as traditional team sports are simply no fun for those who have sensory issues, and difficulties with communication and social skills. 
Similarly, more individual pursuits such as running and cycling may not be suitable for those who limited mobility or who suffer with fatigue, though there are real strides being made to make these pursuits more fully inclusive, notably adapting bicycles for those with special needs. 
What are the benefits of physical activity? Physical activity benefits both the body and the mind and participation for people of all physical-abilities, is inextricably linked to both better physical and mental wellbeing and the noticeable benefits include: 
  • Improvement in muscle coordination, flexibility, muscle strength and endurance, all of which can increase life expectancy. 
  • Improvement in self-confidence, social skills, behaviour and academic performance. 
  • Positive experiences of achievement and accomplishment, both personally and as part of a team. 
  • Increase in attention span and responsiveness to others. 
  • Can help cut secondary health complications like obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. 
  • Offer and outlet for physical energy that can help alleviate stress, anxiety and depression. 
Promoting physical activity If you know someone who is simply not interested in physical activity it can be near impossible getting them out and about, so you need to think outside the box and suggest activities that promote movement without being to ‘sporty’ or excessively vigorous. 
So you could consider things such as: 
  • Walking around the local park and collecting rocks, leaves, and flowers which can be used later on as part of an art project. 
  • Gardening can also be a great way to promote outdoor physical activity and have tangible end results to be proud of. 
  • Playing catch with a friend or even the family dog 
  • Learning skills such as juggling, balancing or kite flying. 
  • Playing games with hula hoops, gymnastic ribbons or skipping ropes. 
  • Taking part in sports that can still be fun without being overly competitive, for instance bowling, table tennis or swimming. 
Playing video games On the face of it, encouraging kids to play video games is a sure fire way to promote a sedentary lifestyle, but there are games designed to get everyone up and active. This can be a fun and practical way of introducing physical activity, especially to anyone who is self-conscious and would prefer to exercise in the privacy of his or her home. 
Instead of sitting in front of Mario Kart or Call of Duty, try some of these instead:  
  • Wii Fit Plus has a balance board and game software that promotes all kinds of physical activity such as yoga and Pilates, and even things like boxing and tennis on Wii Sports can offer a fairly rigorous workout.  
  • Just Dance is a game that is available on all consoles and promotes exercise through fun dance routines to famous songs. 
  • Kinect Sport Ultimate Sport Collection is similar to Wii Sports but is available on Xbox. This game includes sports like basketball, football, beach volleyball and boxing, all of which must be played using bodily movements instead of a traditional controller. 
Have you seen first-hand the positive effect being active can have on an individual? Or have you come up with some inventive ways to promote physical activity? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below…