Oliver’s Book of the Week

Oliver gets an obsession over one book at a time. Often it’s a weekly transition so I thought I’d start documenting his ‘book of the week’ choice. Just a quick little synopsis of which book he’s enjoying and what he likes about it.

 

He’s just turned 4 and a half so his taste in books varies from short books that he can memorise and join in with, to long books where he just listens and enjoys the story. The kind of books Oliver likes are particularly silly ones, but he also likes really nice ‘soft’ stories. In fact that pretty much sums up his personality – he’s either mega silly and crazy or totally and utterly loving and caring.

 

This week Oliver’s book of the week is….

 

Hippobottymus by Steve Smallman and Ada Grey, published by Little Tiger Press.

 

book of the week - hippobottymus

Oliver was given this book by our friends, Holly and Mark because at his last birthday he wanted to be a hippo keeper at the zoo. When you read the story you start to wonder where the hippo comes in to it, until you get to the end!

 

The story is a nice little rhyme about animals making a song with their different sounds, and a bubbling creek. It starts with a mouse, then a bird, caterpillar, monkey, warthog and crocodile. Just in case  you didn’t guess, the bubbling creek is actually the hippo’s bottom! “Trump-parp-pop!” Although Oliver’s favourite part is the sound that the warthog makes by drumming on his bottom “like a big bass drum”.

 

We don’t mind a bit of toilet humour in our house so it’s a great book for us. Oliver absolutely loves it and has memorised nearly the whole book. This week he has been asking for it every night at bed time! Although, if you have children who aren’t terribly good at falling asleep I would suggest this be kept to a day time story book. Oliver goes absolutely crazy when we read it and jumps around in his bed. It completely appeals to his silly nature.

Luckily he’s fallen asleep in the few minutes it’s taken for me to write this blog post!

 

Do your kids have any favourite stories? Do they get obsessed with one particular story like Oliver?

 

 

(Affiliate Link) If you’d like to buy Hippobottymus you can purchase it here for £6.99 on Amazon*

 

*If you click through on the link I get a small percentage of the price you pay as a reward. This doesn’t increase the price for you

Camp Wilderness Family Day : Review

The lovely folks at Camp Wilderness and The Bushcraft Company invited us to a free taster day to learn all about what they offer at their summer camps. They’ll also be running more of the family days throughout the year. Oliver is still a bit young for their summer camps but he loves the outdoors, so does R. I tolerate the outdoors. Don’t get me wrong, if it’s sunny and warm I love being outside. In March? Not so much. But I went along to Camp Wilderness see what all the fuss is about. Besides, what else would we do to celebrate a whole week of marriage? This is how we got on.

 

Arrival

Well, after realising (the day before) that Hatfield Woods actually isn’t in Hatfield and accidentally driving past the track that takes us to the camp we eventually found ourselves in the right place – R loves driving (probably too fast) down a country lane! We parked up and were greeted by a chap named Kyle. He asked Oliver’s name, so Oliver obviously said “Peter Parker”. Kyle instantly engaged him and cut off a piece of string to make Oliver a ‘web’. He tied it around Oliver’s wrist and bundled it in his hand then told him to shoot his web. It was an instant hit. All day Oliver was checking his pocket to make sure he still had his web!

camp wilderness arrival Kyle giving Oliver spiderman webshooter

 

The site

Once we entered the Camp Wilderness site it was really easy to navigate – there were portaloos on the edge of the site, then further in was a kitchen. At the centre were 2 big tents, each of which had a fire in the middle. They were then surrounded by camping tents. When there’s a camp the staff sleep in the big tents around the fire and the kids sleep in the camping tents. All of them surround the larger tent, so that if anyone were to wake up in the night and need help they’d instantly walk toward where the staff are.

Bushcraft company tents pitched in the woods

Fire Safety

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking… an open fire?!?! There were loads of kids, some Oliver’s age (4) and younger and none of them went too close to it. One of the first things we were taught was fire safety. At first some of the kids (and parents) not wanting to get too close were throwing sticks on to the fire and they were instantly told how dangerous that is. It’s actually safer to get closer and place the stick on gently.

kids sitting close to the fire learning fire safety

During the session we were taught how to start fires and keep fires going. Most importantly we were taught how to do it all safely. From things like how to light a match to striking a flint away from you. Not to mention how to deal with the chemical reaction between potassium permanganate and glycerol as well as making a fire from it.  We also learned how to lay the sticks so that the fire wouldn’t be suffocated and therefore would keep it going for as long as possible.

 

Tribes

We were split in to groups, or ‘tribes’, given a leader. Our tribe leader was the fabulous Ruth. Then we had to come up with a name and make a flag from a pillow case and some coloured markers. As the grown ups were rubbish, one of Kerry at Blissful Domestication‘s daughters came up with ‘The Stags’. A far cry from the Stags R encountered just a few weeks before our wedding! We all drew around our hands because we aren’t very imaginative. The kids drew pictures, there was even a diplodocus on our flag! The process was fun and I can see how it will help kids bond and get their imaginations running. Throughout the day though, the families tended to stick together. Except Oliver, he’d just wander off anywhere, any time. Yep, we were the parents that just kept on losing their kid…

 

camp wilderness making tribe flag with all of the children getting involved

 

Food

We went in to the forest with Ruth and the tribe, found a suitable spot to make a fire and then gathered up all the different kinds of wood we would need. In to piles we collected kindling, finger sticks, thumb sticks and bigger thicker logs that would keep the fire burning. Once the fire was burning steadily we set up our ‘stove’ and cooked our lunch. I say ‘we’, R cooked food for the group. He’s always group chef, wherever we go. This was certainly no exception.

At the kitchen they prepared the rest of the food. So we trundled back to camp and got our burger buns, salad and fried potatoes (oh, and ketchup, obvs). We Then got back to our fires and ate burgers sitting on the dried leaves surrounded by forest. It was blissful. I had no idea that eating a burger in the middle of a forest could make you feel so good inside.

 

camp wilderness cooking burgers over an open wood fire made by ourselves in the woods

I ought to mention that throughout the day there was always water and fruit available. We also had plenty of cups of tea and there were biscuits too. I was clearly still in ‘wedding diet’ mode because I managed to steer clear of them. We happened to notice that there are several pizza ovens on site as well! Wood fired ones of course, so the children who go on camps have to make a fire to cook their pizzas.

At the end of the day just before it was time to pack up and go home we also toasted marshmallows over the base camp fires and given rice crispy squares and hot chocolate. Ladled in to plastic cups straight from a huge pot of course.

 

Putting the fires out

Obviously we didn’t leave our fires going, we had to put them out. Our tribe leader offered to do that for us, but Oliver wanted to get stuck in. They poured a jerry can full of water over the fire and had to mix it together with the mud from around the edge to cool it all down. Once it was cooled all of the ash was scooped up and thrown out in to the woods in all different directions to scatter the fire remains. We also threw all of the unused wood out in to the forest too and covered the fire site with dried leaves. By the time we were finished you couldn’t tell that we had even been there.

camp wilderness putting out the fire using hands to mix the water in

 

Camouflage

It wouldn’t be bushcraft if you didn’t learn how to camouflage yourself and cover your entire face in camo paint. Of course I was terrible at being camouflage because I still have bright red hair and bright blue glasses (which also reflect light!). After camouflaging ourselves we then played a huge game of hide and seek. It was every man, woman and child for themselves. I was quickly seen, unsurprisingly.

 

playing hide and seek with bright blue hoodie and glasses and bright red hair

Animal Traps

I’ve left this bit til last because I’m not really sure what I’m going to write. Harry (who is an ecologist), our group leader showed us lots of different kinds of traps. He explained how they worked and used sticks to orchestrate what happens to your prey. This is where vegetarians and vegans would call me a hypocrite. I really hated it and it made me feel sick. I was quite surprised by how I felt about it, particularly as Oliver knows where his food comes from. He knows beef is cow, that pork, bacon and ham are pigs and lamb is sheep etc etc. In fact all of the kids seemed fine by it. But I felt really squeamish. Then again, I am one of those people who is constantly thinking about becoming vegetarian. (FYI they had veggie burgers available for vegetarians).

It was quite interesting and obviously a skill you’d need to survive in the wild if you were doing your Bear Grylls thing.

 

What Oliver Thought

Well it’s safe to say that the whole of Camp Wilderness was a hit. There were tears when we left. He thought Kyle was super awesome, Ruth was amazing and Harry was really interesting. What’s more he was asleep before we had even driven away – it was that tiring. He was also really upset that he’s not old enough to go on the camps. The starting age for those camps is age 6. Oliver really cannot wait to go back to Camp Wilderness.

What we thought

R was in his element. He loves the outdoors! He got stuck in to everything (except the hot chocolate. I married a weirdo who doesn’t like hot chocolate, I’m still baffled by it). When we left he was talking about how great it was. He’d happily go back and is quite disappointed they don’t do camps for adults. If the Bushcraft Company want to expand I’m in no doubt they’d be very successful at branching out in to stag parties for the outdoorsy types.

As for me, I thought it was great fun. As I’ve said the only thing I wasn’t sure about was the animal trapping. The rest of it was so much fun and I learned a lot. I still don’t think I’d ever camp overnight, but for a day out it was pretty good! I definitely learned to trust Oliver’s instincts with fire more and that he’s actually more capable of a lot more things than I thought. The team were absolutely incredible. I’d definitely have no issues sending Oliver to Camp Wilderness when he’s old enough. And I’m a suffocating ‘wont-let-anyone-babysit-my-not-so-much-a-baby-anymore-baby’ kind of parent. I also may have already looked on amazon for camo paint…

 

Here are some more photos from our day at Camp Wilderness

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We were invited to a free family day by the lovely people at Camp Wilderness, all words and experiences are my own and there was no payment for this blog post

 

 

RC Blaze Toy: Review

We were recently sent the Fisher Price RC Blaze toy to review. As I’ve said before, Oliver is a huge Blaze fan so we were looking forward to surprising him with another Blaze toy. When it arrived Oliver asked straight away if we could get it out of the box and start playing with it. In fact since it’s arrived our TV has had Blaze on repeat because he just loves it.

What’s in the box

Quite simply you get what you see.

  • A blaze car
  • A remote control in a wheel shape

RC blaze in box with wheel shaped controller

The blaze car and the remote control both require 2xAAA batteries each, so 4 in total. That’s no issue for us as we have batteries all over the house thanks to R’s job. We still had some lying around from Christmas too. You also need a medium sized cross head screwdriver to open the battery compartments, it was really easy to do even with the cheap set of screwdrivers that R lets me use.

 

Playing with the RC Blaze

The toy is really simple to use. There are only two controls – forward and reverse turn. Basically this RC Blaze goes in a straight line. If you want to change direction you have to reverse turn until Blaze is facing the way you want to go. The RC Blaze toy is suitable from age 3; I guess anything more sophisticated would confuse little ones. For me it’s a little too simple as Oliver is over 4 years old now, so I’m not sure how long he will play with it. However, he absolutely loves it and doesn’t seem to mind the simplicity.

Oliver playing with RC Blaze

Oliver’s really enjoyed making up stories, based on the Blaze TV show and the things he’s seen Blaze do. He’s been asking me to race him using the Blaze toy from the monster dome, which is neither remote controlled nor as big as the RC Blaze. I’m not sure if he realises he’s being clever or whether he really thinks they are worthy competitors. Oliver also really likes that his RC Blaze is much bigger than Crusher from the monster dome set, so he’s beaten Crusher quite a few times.

Oliver playing with RC Blaze and Monster Dome Crusher

In Oliver’s words

“It’s really good because Blaze is a goodie and he can win Crusher when Crusher cheats”. He also told me that he thinks other children will enjoy the toy, but it’s a secret as to why.

The RRP for the RC Blaze is £21.99 which is available from good toy shops

 

The Vileda Clean: Vileda Windomatic Review

I’ve seen a few window vacuum cleaners on the internet or on adverts and I have always really wanted one. I have no idea why, maybe it’s the FOMO in me. I was too excited for a normal person when asked if I’d like to review the Vileda Windomatic Window Vacuum Cleaner. It’s the simple things in life that keep me happy!

 

Why I wanted a Vileda Windomatic

One of the things I really struggle with is anything that effects my raynaud’s and cleaning the windows is one of those things. I get really sore fingers, especially when I’m outside cleaning. The whole spray spray spray, rub rub rub, find other cloth, rub rub rub, get angry about the streakyness or bits I’ve missed as well as feeling headachey from the smell of the chemicals gets old. And so I don’t clean my windows as often as I should. Then I sit in my warm house glaring at the filth that dare cling to my windows. I live on a main road, so there’s a lot of filth.

I also mainly partly wanted it just because I love a cleaning gadget, but the more I thought about it the more I realised I can actually do so much more with it than clean the windows.

vileda windomatic lying flat

More than a window vacuum

The Vileda Windomatic is really handy for our bathroom which is designed terribly. It’s small so we have a shower over bath. Which is obviously next to the window and therefore a window ledge where water sits. There’s also another ledge directly below the shower head (which drips as you turn it off) that collects water. As a result, some of the sealant has gone really yucky and some of the tiles are covered in limescale despite regular cleaning with viakal. Sigh. In fact sitting water is a recurring theme because I always end up with a puddle of water on the worktop next to my kitchen sink. And I have a 4 year old, who gets the blame for spilling things.

 

Oh…and then there’s the condensation….in bedrooms, the bathroom and our kitchen. Ventilation in our house is terrible. Not forgetting there’s the child that licks windows and stuffs his entire face on to it.

 

vileda windomatic condensation on windows before

 

How it works

Basically, the Vileda Windomatic is like a squeegee shaped vacuum cleaner. So you just wash your window as normal then take off the excess liquid with the vacuum. As I’m pretty fed up with the chemical induced headaches from the special anti-streak window cleaner I decided to experiment with soapy water. The Vileda Windomatic says it can leave windows streak free, so what better way to test it than with plain old soapy water. I just cleaned the dirt off with a regular dishcloth then used the Windomatic to get rid of the water. The result was a beautifully shiny window!

The head tilts so you can go from top to bottom of the window. You can turn it sideways too to get all the bits across the bottom or in hard to reach places. The only places that I really struggled was behind taps. It’s like one of  those little dust buster machines with a squeegee head on, so naturally it can be quite difficult in tight spaces. The tilting head, once again, is handy here though.

vileda windomatic flexible head in both positions

As soon as I opened the box the Vileda Windomatic was plugged in charging. We left it overnight but it takes around 6 hours to get a full charge. From that charge you can clean around 60m² or use it for around 20 minutes. I haven’t cleaned all of the windows in my house yet, but I have used it sporadically, mainly in the bathroom and after a week has only just needed to be charged.

vileda windomatic orange low battery indicator light and shown plugged in charging

 

What we thought

It’s been brilliant at sucking up all of the standing water in my bathroom and it is living in there for the moment. It’s also really easy to empty the water reservoir, which holds 100ml. It doesn’t sound much but actually unless you’re clearing up a big spill it’s more than enough.

vileda windomatic water reservoir in three pieces

We’ve also used it to suck up the condensation on our bedroom windows. I’d usually have to use a squeegee and then mop up all the water with a towel. It’s really handy being able to tip the water away. I always thought it was like a vicious circle using the squeegee and towel because I wasn’t actually getting rid of the water. It’s also so easy to use that even Oliver has been having a go.

 

My mother in law spotted it in the bathroom one day and had a quick go on our bathroom mirror which was steamed up and has now put it on her shopping list. My mother in law is pretty tough to please, in fact R often refuses to buy something if his mum wouldn’t buy it. He asks her opinion on so much that he even wanted her opinion on a step ladder for the kitchen!! That’s why we have given the vileda windomatic a 5 star rating.

vileda windomatic 5 stars rating

 

 

We were sent the Vileda Windomatic Window Vacuum Cleaner for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Which is more than can be said of my fiancé.

 

Howl-o-ween at Paradise Wildlife Park

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of going to Paradise Wildlife Park in Broxbourne. It’s only about 20 minutes drive from our house but we have actually never been there. We’ve wanted to go for a while, though. I love animals, and I’m really interested in seeing how different zoos support conservation and raise awareness of these magnificent animals. On top of this, Oliver is obsessed with Halloween so ‘Howl-o-ween’ week at a new zoo sounded perfect.

 

When we arrived we had a walk around to look at all the different birds which are in a different area to the rest of the animals. After that we headed over to the main part of the zoo to see what Howl-o-ween delights we could find. As we wandered through the zoo you could see they’ve really gone to town on the Howl-o-ween theme. The animals have been given carved pumpkins as enrichment tools. There were pumpkins in trees and around the enclosures of different animals.

pumpkin carved with face in wolf enclosure

The Wolves

The highlight of Howl-o-ween has to be the wolves. After all that’s pretty much what the Halloween event is named after. We saw one really close in the enclosure near to the zebras and then another two in the woods. They’re really good at camouflaging themselves though and it was only when one moved that we realised it was right in front of us, so you do have to look closely! I recommend the Woodland Railway, although you can definitely see the wolves on the woodland walk too.

howl-o-ween wolf checking out a pumpkin

Photo Credit: Paradise Wildlife Park

There are loads of other Howl-o-ween activities going on, we didn’t get around it all as there was so much that Oliver wanted to see and do. The pirate ship play area was one of them. He spotted it on the way in and nagged us all the way around to go to it. We did watch the show in the Jungle Theatre though, he loved that! Especially the clever rat, Peaches who raises money for Apopo – the rats that help detect landmines in Africa. The laughing kookaburra was also hilarious, although not meaning to be. It just didn’t want to perform.

kuckaburra refusing to let go of snake

Dracula’s Bat Cave and a Snake

I have to say, one of the highlights for me was seeing the free flying bats. Although none of them flew at us, unfortunately. We did see the huge cluster of bats in the corner of the roof though. I did envisage a horror film scene where bats fly at you, but no such luck. Probably a good job with a 4 year old.

cluster of bats hanging in roof howl-o-ween

The other highlight was in the reptile house. I’m not a huge fan of snakes, but we went in to see which animal was being talked about. The keeper had one of the smaller snakes out and we were able to touch it. He gave us lots of information about the snake and answered everyone’s questions too. Oliver had been telling us recently that snakes are scary, so it came as perfect timing for him. He was absolutely in awe of the snake and watched it very carefully. So even though the scary Howl-o-ween snake turned out not to be so scary, he still enjoyed it.

howl-o-ween-oliver looking at snake in awe

 

What I really liked was that we arrived at a reasonable time and still made it around pretty much the whole wildlife park. We saw a lot of different animals and talked to Oliver about conservation and extinction the whole way around too. There are lots of signs with information about the animals and how endangered they are too.

 

Play areas

There are loads of play areas around the zoo, including old fire engines to play on and diggers too. There’s also the usual playground equipment and some augmented reality boards where you can see dinosaurs (although we couldn’t get it to work and our phone batteries were running low at this point). There’s also adventure golf, a go-karting type track and some lego type building blocks as well as bouncy castles.

On a cold or wet day there’s a soft play area inside the cafe. We only realised it was there as we were leaving but it looked a good size.

Picnic areas

There’s a covered picnic area somewhere, but there are also loads of benches throughout. Anyone with a small child knows that happy to hangry is only a matter of seconds. We plonked ourselves down among the big cats and actually saw the tiger strolling around while we were eating. We’ve read ‘the tiger who came to tea’ though, so we didn’t invite it over.

 

Overall, it’s a great day out. As we sat on the little train Oliver looked at R and said, “Daddy, can we come to Paradise Wild Park every day?” He absolutely loved it. As it’s only 20 minutes away in the car it’s a great location for us. We really enjoyed all of the Howl-o-ween activities too. There was face painting around too, but Oliver isn’t keen on it and there was so much to do he didn’t even notice. All of the kids could get a free wolf mask too, but we forgot to get one for Oliver. He didn’t notice though. And he can’t read, so he has no idea. Phew.

 

More photos of our day at Howl-o-ween at Paradise Wildlife Park

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Please note that we were given free entry to the zoo for the purpose of this review. All words, opinions and photos are my own, except where credited (those pesky camouflage wolves).

Window sill – Review

When we moved in to our house in January 2015 we were so excited about everything we wanted to do to it. There’s so much potential. It’s an ex council house and very well built so we knew that we could do pretty much anything without uncovering anything *too* bad. We had grand plans, but we can’t afford to do much of it yet. However, since we have now lived in the house for over a year and a half there were smaller finishing touches to the house that bothered me more than the ‘big stuff’. One of them being the window sill.

Why window sills?

I know you probably think a window sill is a strange thing to be really bothered by. Technically, it’s not just 1 window sill, but 2. The sills in our living room and master bedroom to be precise. The two rooms I spend most of my time in. The two rooms I would quite like to be able to use the window sills. But they were awful. They were orange tiles. Yuck! They were also really old and covered in paint splodges and scratches and the grouting between them had crumbled to dust a long time ago.

crumbling grout between orange tiles on window sill with white paint splodges visible on window sill

When we started knocking down part of the living room wall we started to think about how we wanted our living room to look, the window sill tiles were definitely not part of the vision! We decided that in the grand scheme of things the living room would actually be changed to a dining room eventually. It’s a pretty cold room and for me with Raynaud’s it’s not a pleasant space as a living room. Our south facing rear is much more appealing. We just need to build an extension. With all of this in mind, we came up with a few ideas to make the room workable as both.

 

The colour scheme

Colours are so important to me. We wanted something that suited our house and our personalities. Absolutely no magnolia. One of the decisions was that we wanted a ‘fireplace’ with a light oak beam above as a mantel. We will eventually get a fake wood burner to fill the gap. The colour scheme will be navy blue, grey and finished with pops of colour. We may throw in some copper accessories too.

 

With light oak in mind, we were delighted when we got the chance to review a piece from The Skirting Board Shop. At first, thinking we were limited to skirting boards we looked at different designs of skirting board and found a few we liked. Then I discovered the window sills. And there was American White Oak. Perfect!

The window sill

R was really impressed with the quality, it cuts like real wood even though it is veneered MDF. The hardest part of replacing the window sill was removing the tiles and repairing the damage from removing them. Once we had taken the tiles off and levelled the ‘remains’ it was just a case of cutting and sticking. Although I’m sure R will tell me off for referring to it as that! We followed the guide on the website and added 50mm on each end for length and 25mm for depth. Then we got the trusty Festool circular saw, guide rails and vacuum out. Which meant R could cut the window sill in our kitchen and make no mess – woohoo for me!

window sill after tiles removed and damage to bricks underneath

 

R checking the damage having removed the window sill

The finished window sill

before and after tiled to wood windowsill

I think you’ll agree the difference is amazing. It’s really spurred me on to think about all of the little details in all of the rooms. I can’t wait to get the bedroom sill in and start thinking about all of the finishing touches in there too. What’s really great about the window sill is that the veneer is real wood, so you can stain or oil it. This is particularly great news for us as we can match it to the oak mantle. I’m really excited about seeing it all come together.

I’m also really looking forward to making little window displays. We’ve already started on our halloween display!

halloween window sill display with halloween toy, cobwebs and spiders

 

I’ll be doing a big reveal on our finished living room once it’s all done. We have a bit of work to do but I am hoping it might be at least on the way to being finished by Christmas. (Especially as I’m not entirely sure how to dress that huge crack for a Christmas display!)

 

We were gifted two window sills for the purpose of this review, however all words and DIY’ing fiance’s are my own.

 

Linking up to

 

Life With Munchers

Blaze and The Monster Machines Monster Dome: Review

When we were asked to review the Blaze and The Monster Machines Monster Dome Playset by Fisher Price we jumped at the chance! Oliver is a huge Blaze fan, and so are we as parents. I remember one day watching it with Oliver and it was talking about trajectory. I’ve learned a lot from Blaze, and if even the tiniest part has sunk in to Oliver’s memory then I’m pretty happy too. So as fans all round we eagerly waited the arrival of the new toy. The monster dome review has to be the most exciting part of being a blogger’s child for Oliver.

oliver holding blaze monster dome box

What’s in the box

  • Blaze toy
  • Crusher toy
  • 2 launchers – one blue, one red
  • 2 (red) ramps, with arrows for up and down (so that you fix them in the right way around)
  • A (blue) 360° loop (5 pieces with arrows to show which way around to fix)
  • A ‘ring of fire’ (2 pieces)
  • Chomping sharkbot
  • 2 black finish line pieces
  • 2 finish line flags
  • 3 additional brown track pieces
  • Big screen/billboard sign piece
  • Stickers

Assembly of the Monster Dome

Assembling the track was pretty easy with the instructions to follow. The pieces come apart and go back together really easily. In fact, Oliver can take the pieces apart and put them back together pretty easily too. The sharkbot piece is a ‘one time snap’ though, which means it can only be done once. Oliver was a bit annoyed about this, but once he understood it would break if he tried to take it apart he was fine.

The pieces go together with 2 click in points. Once you’ve lined them up properly they slide in to place really easily and stay in place. Even Oliver, at just under 4 years of age, can do it.

track connector close up pieces monster dome playset

 

The stickers were easy to attach – but definitely requires an adult to put them on straight. I left R to this as I’m impatient and slightly cack-handed. He only had to unpeel and re-stick one piece, after sticking it on the wrong side of the ramp (despite clear instructions, tut tut). It stuck back down easily and hasn’t peeled off.

 

There are four layouts, each are easy to assemble and once built mainly just requires popping a few things out and rearranging slightly.

 

Or you can adapt it to play with your own toys….

 

Playing with the slow mo camera while Oliver tests out the new Blaze toy with a slight adaptation…

A video posted by Natalie Streets (@diaryofuem) on

What Oliver Says

“It’s reallllllyy coooooooollllll”.

The best part – “Racing!! And it was sooooo coooool when it flied and when I hit it too hard and it flied on the ring of fire that was really cool.” – Can you tell he has recently discovered the word ‘cool’?

What he didn’t like – the fighting. When I asked what he meant he said Crusher is always fighting. I think because he watches the TV show he sees Crusher as the bad guy. And he doesn’t like baddies because they aren’t nice and do bad things. But there are extra characters available to buy. He particularly likes Stripes and Pickle.

 

What Mum & Dad say…

“The build quality is great, it’s really strong. You could smash the launchers really hard repeatedly and it wouldn’t break” – Dad

“You can take it apart and back together so quickly and easily, meaning it’s so easy to put away and get back out” – Mum

Overall, we all really love this toy. It’s great fun to play with and we’ve had some brilliant races with each other. Although Oliver is always Blaze, both monster trucks race around the monster dome pretty fast. The instruction leaflet even has a little description of momentum and how momentum helps the monster trucks race around the monster dome without falling off.

Overall I’d say the Blaze playset has good value for money at less than £30 – it’s definitely built to last and Oliver has already played with it more than most of his toys and I don’t see that changing any time soon. I know that whenever his Cousin H comes over they will be having races against each other too! And the best part – no batteries! I’m envisaging lots of races at Christmas, between adults and children alike!

 

Check out our photos of the Blaze Playset

 

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The Blaze and The Monster Machines Monster Dome Playset was sent to us for the purpose of an open, honest review. All words and opinions are my own. Except Oliver’s. I like to think my command of the English language is slightly better than that.

 

 

&nb

Family Fever

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Is it OK to buy a NERF gun for a 4 year old?

This is a collaborative post.

Last year, Oliver’s Godfather bought him a NERF gun for his 3rd birthday. He loved it, but myself and R weren’t too impressed. I’m not sure if we were being a bit precious, or if it’s actually OK. However, now that Oliver is about to turn 4 I’m wondering about getting him a NERF gun myself. Oliver’s ‘Cousin H’ actually got a small NERF gun for his 4th birthday. So, it made me wonder, is it OK to buy a NERF gun for a 4 year old?

 

The NERF gun that Oliver was given was the NERF Mega. I have no doubt that specific model of NERF gun was not appropriate for Oliver. It was too hard to load and the bullets could be really painful. They even whistle when they fly through the air because they go so fast. However, the NERF gun that ‘Cousin H’ got for his 4th birthday was much smaller. Oliver and H could both load it, and the smaller bullets didn’t hurt anyone when they hit them. Which was tested out mostly by R and Uncle T. Of course.

Are we mad for even asking if it’s OK to buy a NERF gun for a 4 year old?

I completely understand that there are people out there screaming of course its NOT OK to buy a NERF gun for a 4 year old at the computer screen. But I love how Oliver has learned to hit a target with his gun. He learned to aim and that it takes a bit of concentration and thought, instead of just rushing in and pulling the trigger. We’ve explained the goodies and baddies concept too. He kind of gets that because of his love of Spiderman. But the guns thing is pretty new. He had no idea that in America guns are normal. As far as he was concerned, only the police and very very bad people have guns. So we addressed that issue. That toy guns like NERF guns are fun, but real guns are bad and they are not for playing with.

 

There are loads of things I feel like he can learn with his NERF gun, but I’d need to find a gun that was more appropriate for his age. I don’t know much about NERF guns. I never had one growing up, nor did my brothers. We really loved the one Cousin H had because it was so easy to load – and only came with 3 bullets. H’s one would be more appropriate for Oliver than the one he has now. You definitely need to do your research on NERF guns before you buy one for a child that’s younger than recommended.

 

And you should probably ask the parents too…

Is it OK to buy a nerf gun for a 4 year old? Orange Nerf bullets background piled on wooden board

NB: Although I was compensated for my time to write this post, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Including the terrible choice of Godparent.

Kidloland App: Review

The lovely people over at Kidloland offered us a one year subscription to their app in response for a review. As it’s the holidays and Oliver will no doubt get bored on rainy days or in the car I figured it would be great. The app is aimed at age 0-5, so toddlers & pre-school age and perfect for Oliver at age 3.5.

In our house, we aren’t hugely precious about screen time. However, we do like knowing what he’s using and that it is of some benefit to him in some way, shape or form. Sometimes, that reason can be just for enjoyment and down time. Sometimes it’s for educational purposes. Oliver knows how to unlock my phone and actually has his own folder for apps and games for him. He can read his name, so he knows where to find them.

 

home screen with section named Oliver comprising of Youtube kids, iplayer kids, kidloland and star wars lego

Songs

The Kidloland app has lots of fun nursery rhymes and songs including the ‘ABC song’, which I was really impressed to hear Oliver knew most of it, we’ve sung it a few times now and he is getting even better at memorising the alphabet.

There are quite a few different sections with songs for numbers, letters, shapes, colours etc. As a British person, my only criticism of it is that it’s an American app, so that means spellings are different and the last letter of the alphabet is ‘zee’ rather than ‘zed’. I explained to Oliver that although American people speak English, they speak it differently to us. I actually likened it to how his Daddy and I speak differently (think grass and graaass). He accepted the explanation, but I can still see the confusion when he’s singing the alphabet and it sounds different, he definitely second guesses himself.

 

SCREEN SHOT OF COLORS SPELT THE AMERICAN WAY, PLUS CHRISTMAS SONGS WITH FUN PHOTO OF FATHER CHRISTMAS

 

I love that there’s a Christmas songs section! Despite it being summer, we have had a little sing-a-long to some of the Christmas songs. You’d never guess I used to be a scrooge!

 

Games

There are a couple of games on there too, they seem pretty easy for him to use and understand the concept. That means he gets less frustrated and can play it by himself, which he likes. It also means that I can leave him to it if I need a few minutes to get something done, or if we were in the car on a long journey and he was fed up.

GAMES AND ACITIVITIES SCREEN SHOT OF KIDLOLAND WITH FUN BRIGHT PICTURES ATTRACTIVE TO CHILDREN

 

Ease of Use

It’s really easy to use for Oliver, he chooses a section and just presses the first one. Once you’ve downloaded all of the songs in each section it auto plays from start to finish. Oliver doesn’t seem to mind that it goes through from start to finish. Each time you download a new section it asks for permission, so if you haven’t downloaded the yearly subscription (£29.99) there’s no worry of something being bought without your knowledge. It does mean that for every section there is a short wait if you haven’t downloaded yet. I think Oliver would have got the hang of this by age 2, but the waiting would have frustrated him.

 

Oliver does seem to enjoy it, and the best thing about it – there’s no “Daddy finger, daddy finger, where are you?” or random surprise egg, unboxing videos and grown men playing with toys or running around dressed as Spiderman. I know you all know what I’m talking about!

 

 

Kidloland gifted a yearly subscription for the purpose of this review, however all opinions, experiences and summery sing-a-longs of Christmas songs are my own

 

You can download Kidloland on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon App Store

 

 

Bespoke & Oak Wedding Hangers : Review

The lovely people over at Bespoke & Oak heard that I’m planning my wedding and asked if I’d like to review something from their range.  Obviously I said yes.  When I browsed their site there were so many things I wanted but quite a few were out of our price range.  Having splurged on our venue the rest of the wedding is on a bit of a budget. Eventually we decided on the wedding hangers.

I’ve seen some really lovely wedding photos of all of the dresses hung up while the Bride and her maids get ready.  As I have three bridesmaids I ordered 4 of the hangers which costs £36.  I know that you can get them cheaper in other places but the quality of these hangers is fantastic.  The personalised text is really elegant and is actually laser engraved instead of a sticker like a lot of the others on the market.

wedding hangers laser cut name Bride and date of wedding

Solid Wood

One of the concerns I had was that the wooden hangers might snag dresses, but they are incredibly smooth and I very much doubt there will be any snagging.  Because the hangers are solid wood (1.3cm thick) they are also really strong and will no doubt hold the weight of a wedding dress easily.  They’re also a good size (44.5cm wide) so hopefully there will be no slipping off of the sides either.  They do have the usual indents at the edges to prevent that too.

 

Personalisation

There are children’s hangers available and I did consider getting one for Oliver but in the end I just got one for each of the girls.  For the personalisation you just write the names you’d like on the hangers and you can also include a date if you wish.  I did – at least R can never forget our anniversary if there’s a hanger in our wardrobe with the date written on it!  The personalisation box is also on the sale page so there’s no forgetting to fill in a separate contact form (yes, I have totally done that).

 

Postage

You can get free delivery from Bespoke & Oak, but you are putting your faith in to the Royal Mail standard service, I fully recommend that you splurge on ‘tracked’. By doing so your package will arrive within a week – which is great if you are as disorganised as I can be.  These wedding hangers would be a great last minute purchase to add to those ‘finishing touches’ on your wedding day.

 

Disorganised Bride-to-be

I don’t have my dress yet and neither do the bridesmaids, but I am just so excited to see them all hanging up together on the day.  My two best friends live up North so it’s really nice to be able to send them photos and talk progress.  I have no idea where or when we will be going dress shopping for them, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m also feeling a little nervous because my theme is mismatched brights and we have no idea what we are looking for yet!  The wedding hangers will at least provide some uniformity to the pre-wedding photos!

bespoke and oak laser cut hangers Bride and Bridesmaids names and date of wedding

 

I may be a completely disorganised bride-to-be but at least Bespoke & Oak have helped me get one thing sorted.  It’s always the finer details that get forgotten too.  Being on a budget means that the finishing touches can often be overlooked, but I really love these personalised wedding hangers.  I also love that my bridesmaids are going to have a reminder hanging in their wardrobe forever.  No excuses for not sending a happy anniversary text!

 

I was sent the hangers for the purpose of an open honest review, all words and anniversary expectations are my own