Disclaimer: these items where gifted in exchange for review. Opinions are my own.
As you’ve probably seen we’ve worked with Jaques before a few times reviewing their lovely games. We absolutely love the quality of their wooden games and their games that can be handed down from generation to generation. We love the quality and they make the perfect gift for children as they can learn through play. Wooden toys mean more imagination then plastic (and a little bit of quiet).
With Elijah growing older I wanted to select some more mature items so I picked their abacus and their let’s play deluxe score 4.
The abacus is used to help with counting and maths which will be helpful for years to come with homework and just practicing our numbers and maths. We’ve used it to count to 100. To add and take away numbers to ten and to count forwards and backwards from 0-20. These are great for teaching the times tables too as you can grab how many you want to times and count them and visualise your maths which is helpful for all ages needing too visualise their maths.
The colours and quality are great the neutral counters means it can go nicely in a room without sticking out too much. The colours are great as you can tell which numbers your counting and move in groups of ten if you need too to do ten times tables.
As always they’re packaging is beautiful and makes the perfect gift without a need to reward before giving to someone else. The boxes fit the product perfectly as well so they take up less space on your games cupboard.
Secondly we choose the lets play deluxe score 4 which is fantastic as is travel size. The counters are a good size so that it works your fine motor skills as you grab them and drop them in your selected Column hole. The aim of this game is to get four counters in a row horizontally, diagonally or vertically. The winner is whoever who has the first four. As you can tell Elijah likes to cheat a little and continue a game or try to steal my counters back. Elijah and I really enjoyed this games and it’s so compact it’s travel friendly and could take for days out or holidays.
Taking Elijah to his first theme park was something I thought would be hard to do because I was worried how I would entertain him in ques and on the long car journey to get to one of them. But I couldn’t of been more wrong (bar the sick explosion in the car on the way causing a quick run to lakeside for spare clothes and travel sickness tablets). We planned to go term time and last minute so the prices where cheeper the room for three of us (my mum, me and Elijah), breakfast and two days entry to the park was less then two hundred pounds. Which for a hotel on a resort is cheep enough.
We went for chessington because Elijah is obsessed with Julia Donaldson and the gruffalo. The park advertised a gruffalo ride and room and the broom experience too. When we arrived at around 1pm there was no ques. We went straight to the park first as our hotel room wasn’t ready, we got to park in the parks hotel car parking which was a minutes walk to the park. When I’m we went straight to the sealife centre perfect for kids interested in fishes it wasn’t overly big so it isn’t a sealife centre like the others but it’s big enough for five minutes inside! As we came out there was a meet and greet section where we later got to meet the witch from room on the broom. The costumes where fantastic quality and Elijah was thrilled to meet her! The staff where lovely too!
We then walked to have some food as we where hungry, there was a lot of choice but we went for hotdogs and nachos. The food was actiralky really cheep at about 7 pounds for a hotdog with topping and nachos and a drink which is even cheeper then I’d pay at a cinemas so I was impressed. We then went on the elephants which Elijah loved driving up and down and around with my mum. We then went on a few more of the kids rides such as the carousel of animals.
The park also has sea lion shows so we watched one of these then went on to play some shooting games on the temple shooting ride! There is a main stage to watch shows here also! we went on water rides and so many little things for kids. We drove cars and enjoyed our time together playing and doing lots of things.
The park also has a zoo and we went on a safari ride in a car train and went around seeing animals. Elijah loved spotting animals and then seeing them after the safari too. There where lots of play areas for children too stretch and get rid of some of that sugar energy.
We absolutely loved the gruffalo ride the decor throughout the wait was brilliant and got Elijah so excited. The ride is a raft ride where you look around and see bits of the film and book shown by models and more. It was really fun and we all loved it down to the music and getting soaked at the end. The Julia Donaldson shop was fantastic and had lots of bits you can’t buy anywhere else. However some bits where expensive. We did get quite a few bits from a medal and fridge magnet to toys and a teddy of the gruffalo! After the gruffalo we went in the room and the broom experience where it was basically a fun house telling the story again Elijah loved this! I won’t post too many photos of the ride as I don’t want to ruin it for those who go!
I was impressed with the cleanliness and all the food and drink outlets with different things to try we especially loved our gruffalo cakes and doughnuts.on the second day we caught a show and it was fantastic just like being at a theatre and the gruffalo even turned up! Elijah and lots of other kids smiled their heads of and danced along with the entertainers. As we went in term time we didn’t really wait for anything to go on or to get in anywhere. We had a absolute blast and will defo come again to the park!
One day is easily enough to do everything if you arrive early but if there’s a long drive I certainly recommend staying overnight! I’ll review the hotel next!
Next we have the hotel and when I say I wasn’t expecting much I expected a premier inn style room and a cheep looking hotel but for the price we paid my mind was blown. The hotel looked like something from abroad it was huge and stylish. I felt like I was on holiday in a safari park when I walked through the decor was tasteful and planted on the safari park so you can see the animals from the windows.
The room it’s self was huge and had two separate bedrooms joined by a bathroom which had a bath and shower it was clean and well decorated with two TVs and all the amenities you could need. Elijah was very excited by the bunk bed and tv. The bed pulled out into a three bunk bed! The beds where comfy and their was AIRCON although ours was broken and I was quite warm!
The hotel allows you to use the pool and splash park which Elijah loved he had a smile on his face the whole time and even I enjoyed the splash pool. We then went for dinner after having a shower the food was fantastic I had pizza, my mum a steak and Elijah had fishmongers. We had dinner watching the animals on safari and then went back and watched tv before an early start. We felt like we’d left the Uk the whole time and even the breakfast restaurant had us feeling like we where having breakfast on holiday!
We will definitely come back again! It was the perfect place to take a three year old and is family friendly however the rides are quite short so I would come if not too busy again as I wouldn’t want to que up long for short rides!
Disclaimer: these games where gifted in exchange for review!
We have long brought and worked with orchard toys. My games cupboard is bursting at the seams with fun games we’ve picked up over the years. I will always say they have been a crucial part of Elijahs learning and development over the years. I’d like to apologise for this taking so long. Moving house in a pandemic and life got in the way so sorry! without further a due on with the review.
So first of all we where sent spotty sausage dogs. It’s a game where you build the sausage dogs up and then you try to match the colours and count using your child’s numeracy and colour co-ordinations skills. Elijah is three and quite advanced at many games so we where sent some harder games to play! Elijah is slowly getting the hang of playing so this is a game that will last us years.
Then we have penalty shoot out. A simple and fun game. You roll the dice pick up the shirt with same number as your dice then you turn over to see how many goals you have. It’s a great counting game and the winner is whoever has the most goals. This is fantastic for counting further then ten whilst you try to count the groups of balls which a lot of children’s games stop at. Elijah likes the colours on this and gets annoyed when he doesn’t get number four as it’s his favourite t shirt of the game 😂
And finally we have Dino-snore-us (I do love a pun) this game is Elijahs first proper board game and he loves it. It’s quick so it doesn’t drag on and Elijah doesn’t get bored. The aim of the game is to collect as many eggs as you can and not wake the dinosaur. He gets really excited when the dinosaur wakes up and I have to admit he is quite the cheat at this game!
Thankyou so much to orchard toys for sending us some lovely toys.
If you wish to find your own you can buy on their website or many retailers. Sometimes they’re in the special buy isle at aldi so keep those eyes peeled! The games are always affordable too!
Disclaimer these toys have been gifted in exchange for review.
If you follow me on Instagram you’ll probably know how much we love jaques of London toys as this is the second time we have collaborated with them. We have some beautiful products from them and they are such fantastic quality so I jumped at chance to work with them again.
With it being spring I wanted to choose toys that would be suitable to play outside. Despite it being sunny then snowing three hours later we still try to get out as much as we can to play!
First of all I choose the the nine pin quoits game. It’s a game I can play with Elijah and Elijah can play with anybody who comes round to play it’s a simple game of tossing a hoop onto the quoits in the hope of getting the most points and winning. Elijah however likes to cheat and puts them on himself when he thinks I’m not watching! It comes beautifully packaged and comes with a bag so you can take it wherever you go. You can take it to the beach or to a friends house the world is your oyster with this game! Click the link below to find it directly! You can the. use my link at the bottom of this post to get a 15 % discount.
We also choose a biscuit set. No they cannot be eaten they are wooden! Elijah loves all the different varieties of biscuits his favourite is the gingerbread man. Which means a singalong every time he sees it. We have a a lot of pretend afternoon tea party’s and picnics in the garden or indoors so it’s great for all weather! They are made of wood so a toy that will last for years and years to come . You can find them on link below and if you wish to purchase use my link for 15 percent of you can find at the bottom of this post!
Whilst i wanted to write a blog post talking about the highs and lows of the last year in a reflective manor i couldn’t feel more against it this year. Normally i would set myself a list of unrealistic expectations and then feel sadness when i could not keep simple promises to myself. The simple fact is last year was terrible, Not the sort of year you try to find positives from but a year you shut the book on and perhaps think of burning. To many i am sure the last year had some positives that they could find but for me the only positives to come from the last year has been that i have learnt that i do not need to invest so much time and energy into others and to nurture myself. It is because of this new found self love that i am able to separate myself more before i become victim to my depressive and intrusive thoughts. Last year i became very invested in my phone, like many people had found themselves i realised that i had become addicted. The need to keep up to date with others gave me many expectations on what i should be doing with my life, how i should have myself together, how i should have life that is to be a insta worthy place. I would find more and more that i would question my appearance based on others, I would think does my house look good enough? I would think am i parenting correctly? am i doing enough? I would find myself in the endless scroll that never ended. Though i do not blame myself for becoming attached to my phone as it was my only means of contact to the outside world i still feel that it sucked the life from me. Since discovering my addiction i decided to use my phone less, take breaks and to remember the things that are posted online are often snippets of reality that are only showing the best bits of a persons life…
With that being said this is why i have often gone missing for chunks of time, i needed to concentrate on me and to take away the expectations put onto myself to create content that would be worthy of reading or seeing. There will no doubt all over the world be new fitness fanatics, artists, dieters and peacekeepers being created as we land on the other side of the chapter of last year creating more pressure for us to perfect our personal flaws. But know this, we do not have to improve ourselves, we are perfect as we are. Creating unrealistic goals and achievements can put extra pressure on us that at a time of such uncertainty that only sets us up for more disappointment. Remember if there are goals you wish to achieve set them for yourself in the mindset that there is no race to achieve them, there is no failure in giving up and it is okay to have no aspirations for this year.
I feel we will still struggle on this year as we all continue to battle the biggest pandemic in our lifetimes that forces us to hide away in our homes to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. The battle has still only just begun but know that you do not need to change yourself in a pandemic because others are, all you need to do is survive. To not only survive but to find your own happiness, to listen to the stresses and thoughts you have and to try and make yourself feel happiness in yourself by doing things you may love and by taking the time for you.
It is a new year and instead of making crappy pointless goals this year how about you make only one to be happy, to look after you first and let everything else fall into place. So watch your favourite films, cry reading books and have so many baths you become a shrivelled mess. But do not think of yourself as a failure or a underachiever. We do not and have never needed to change. May this year be a year that brings you comfort and joy.
I was recently offered some doddl cuttlery to try on a gifted basis in exchange for this review.
Elijah has always been really good with spoons and forks, I have always offered them at meal times since he started weaning and he can use them very confidentially he will even use a adult fork and spoon if little ones are not available. e.g. most restaurants. The one issue we have always had with elijah using cuttlery is adult cuttlery can be to sharp or too blunt when it comes to knifes so he struggles to cut his food at times and requires our support over his hands to push the knife down. I had seen a few people using doddl knifes and was interested in seeing if this would help his chopping skills so i said yes.
We’ve been using the cutlery for around a month, The small grips are perfect for little hands so make it easier for children to use. Elijah prefers to use his normal fork and spoon but loves the knife. Elijah has been able to work on moving the knife back and forth and to press down to chop food up. The size of the knife enables him to scrap the food to the fork without lots escaping, He is more confident when helping me cook too. He uses his knife to help me when cooking. He helps cut fruit and veg or anything else we are making. Hes able to use both his hands as he prepares food which he normally struggled with as food would move around with his other knife.
I will be giving the spoon and fork to my friend who has a young baby so they can use those but we will keep the knife to help develop his confidence in using a knife! This would be more suitable for younger toddlers but the knife is perfect for those honing their motor skills to chop!
Disclaimer- I was gifted a box of orchard toys in exchange for review of the shopping list game. All opinions are my own!
I have had shopping list for a few years now. I remember seeing it in a charity shop and picking it up and taking it to the till to try teach Elijah some words. We have had many, many games together with this game and have found orchard toys to be very beneficial in the teaching of Elijahs speech development and recognition of words, letters and numbers.
When I was sent the box with the updated version I was excited as I had a very old version with one of the lists missing. (Charity shop bargains can sometimes have their downfall). Elijah loves a new game that teaches him things and he was so excited.
Shopping list is a game which works by seeing who can collect all their shopping first. As Elijah’s still a bit to little to race against others we work to just complete the shopping list and name everything on the list. Elijah loves picking up the items and comparing against the list and putting in his basket. He thrives on the praise of getting things right so this is the perfect game for him.
There are several lists to choose from even one on a phone to make more modern. You can also choose from a basket or a trolley to put the shopping In too. Elijah likes the baskets the most as he plays with a toy basket the most! We love finding the food items and talk about the food groups they may belong too or what we use a product for like washing powder. The possibility’s to learn through this game are endless.
They have even brought out add on packs to game such as fruit and veg and clothing to teach your child new words and to identify more complex items. The mini packs that you add on you could play without the original set too so perfect for a quick game on the go or to take to a family’s house to play with them!
I will always and have always recommended this game to anyone with a young child and will be rehoming our old game to a friend and sharing the love!
Looking for things to do stuck in? A movie is a obvious choice but can you make it fun? Children are simple creatures, no offence to my child but if I cut his food slightly difference he’ll be fooled into eating the whole thing. So to make a movie special for the both of you is easily achieved.
So first of all choose snacks, favourite snacks. Im all for healthy snacks but when you go to the cinemas do you take a veg platter? No you take chocolate. Sugar and treats in moderation is not a issue so enjoy a treat. Once you’ve decided what you want to serve at your movie showing then work on presentation. Putting food in little bowls and displaying them nicely on a tray makes it feel like a little buffet. A buffet of your favourite naughty snacks. You can get popcorn containers for as little as a pound. If your feeling Christmassy then displaying on a load of Christmas platters and using Christmas themed cups can make it that little bit special.
Make the environment different. Do you sit on the sofa all day and have a cosy rug? set up a load of pillows and blankets on the floor with your snacks in the middle and spice it up. Change the lighting in your room shut the blinds and put fairy lights everywhere. The comfier the better. With young children you could ask them to invite their favourite toys so come sit and watch the film with them.
If your children are older you could make them or get them to make cinema tickets for the night. You could also play a game to decide who gets to pick the film! For younger children pick a film they’ll like that you don’t watch often. Musicals are great as children are free to dance and sing along unlike in the cinemas.
Ban phones. Put phones away like you would in the cinemas and wind down. Talk to your children about the film and what they like about it during the film.
Just remember to enjoy each other’s company and only pay attention to the film and eachother untill it’s done. Don’t worry about work or talking to people. It’s important to spend quality time with children and such a simple activity with no technology is perfect for this!
Hope your not forced to watch frozen or trolls for the millionth time like me!
Last weekend we visited bewilderwood after being invited along on a gifted basis in exchange for a review. We primarily came for the glorious lantern parade but where also given some day tickets to use too. We’d seen a lot of photos on Instagram of bewilderwood and it seemed like our sort of day out! We love the outdoors and especially the forests so to go somewhere Elijah could enjoy and be outdoors ticks all the boxes. This will be a completely honest review from me and James’s point of view of both the event and the day trip.
So first of all we traveled from Suffolk which took a hour and half to get there but we regularly travel (lockdown postcode checked first) for days out. So this was no issue for us as we love going for a drive too! We arrived at 3 pm due to the fact our lantern event wasn’t till 7:30 and didn’t want Elijah to be tired. First of all the customer service team are fantastic, I had to isolate for a few days due to a family member I was near too having Covid symptoms so couldn’t go to the first event on the opening day of the lantern parade so had to rearrange. Luckily the family member did not have Covid so I could go the following week instead. They rearranged with no issues and they where lovely! The customer services also told me I had no time I had to turn up but the last admission was at 4 and they shut at five. So we arrived for 3pm.
So the good bits of the day trip! First of all the place was really lovely, there was a fairy tale fantasy vibe. The place is based on a book and the characters in the books are hidden around the park for you to find. The fact it’s in the middle of a forest is great too because you get lots of fresh air and can take in the scenery. The place is full of climbing frames, zip wires, treetop houses and slides galore. There’s lots of places to explore. There’s also arts and craft huts, story readings and much more to do during the day (before it starts to close).
Elijah loved running around and exploring. He even tried a big slide and wanted to go down a few more hundred times. He loves exploring all the tree houses and running through the woods. We looked out for characters and statues and Elijah got very excited spotting some bats and a giant spider! We loved the Halloween decorations too! There was a outdoor cafe with lots of picnic tables. They served hot food and drink too! It smelt really nice!
Being so close to Norwich it’s only twenty minutes to Norwich so there’s shopping and food places locally too that you can visit after or before. There is a gift shop with lots of little bits to remember your visit too! There is a boat ride that goes around and looked super fun although they didn’t allow us on as we where a minuite late.
Whilst we arrived at three we were a little disappointed a lot of things where closed when we arrived. The story telling was finished, many things where shut and it felt a bit like a race against the clock to look at everything in time for the place in time. When we arrived I also asked the staff what time the boat rides finished as we where most excited to do that. They told us they would run till 5pm when they shut so that everybody could have a go. So we decided to explore the park instead of queuing first. The downside of this was in fact the staff member was wrong and they shut at 4:30. Despite us arriving to the que for the boats at 4:31 they shut the gates in front of us. I asked if we could join as we where told they shut at 5 and it was one minute late the staff said no so we where all very upset. Elijah started to cry as we walked away and was sad and ended up in a tantrum. We left immediately as being around the boats again would of upset him all over again. I was surprised that they would state a last admission at a full paid price be a hour before they shut if everything is already closing. Perhaps they should advise a earlier arrival time. This way it avoids rushing and disappointment.
However we knew we where coming back later and we went locally to Norwich for dinner. Whilst bewilderwood would make a fantastic day out I would visit earlier if we where to go again. They did have a fantastic scheme with wristbands that you write your details on should your child get lost which I thought was fantastic. Overall we would come again but perhaps earlier to enjoy the story telling and arts and crafts. We would also come to have a go on the boats. The place is more suited to older children but so long as you follow your child along there’s no limit to the fun you can have together.
Now the glorious lantern parade. What can I say other then the fact it was fantastic!
First of all I’ll apologise for our photos we tried to walk through quickly to social distance and my camera didn’t want to focus. But none the less I can only describe the event as beautiful! Lanterns and fairy lights lit the whole way which took us about a hour to complete.
First of all we checked in and we went to make Elijahs lantern. The place was a light with lanterns absolutely everywhere and the energy from the kids was really sweet. There was a witch who opened the event and made everyone excited to go in the children loved it. However the only issue I had the whole time which lots of people loudly commented on was the fact they crammed us all through a small gate and didn’t filter people in so it created a big crowd and social distancing wasn’t happening. We tried to keep our distance but a lot of people ignored the social distancing rules.
When we followed the trails it was so pretty following all the lights and there was music and sound effects. Elijah enjoyed carrying his little lantern and kept trying to spot things. All the play frames where lit up and looked beautiful. There was story telling and characters too. The food and drink was open too and there was no rush to get to the end. We will book again for next year we loved it that much. It was well worth the travel and it was nice to experience some sort of festivity in the bleak of the corona virus pandemic.
Sometimes we all have such busy schedules that we never really just spend the day with our child out and about on our own. I am forever guilty of spending lots of time with friends or as a family out and about. This isn’t a bad thing because Elijah loves spending time with others and asks to go out everyday. However normally on days we have no plans we stay at home watching tv and learning. Again this isn’t a bad thing either as we love spending time together at home. But one thing i have always been anxious about is going out just me and my child. When he was a baby it was fine. I loved pushing him around in his buggy and going to community centres and baby groups. However as Elijah got older the tantrums started.
Of course it is natural for children to express their emotions in the form of a tantrum. With the amount of emotion they are feeling and the incapability of explaining their emotions they become upset and warrants a screaming on floor session. However i have always been someone who cares about other peoples opinions whether i like it or not. So a tantrum would cause my social anxiety to go into over board if i was alone because well all eyes would be on me and there would be nobody else to help distract him.
The thing is when a child has a tantrum. It is natural to stare and look, not to judge as so many people do but to see where the noise is coming from. Curiosity always wins, if someone was to scream in a supermarket or shop would you not ping your head round to look for the route cause of the noise.When you have social anxiety if anyone looks at you it is your worse nightmare. Frankly i dislike being in any sort of a attention platform so also don’t really like when we are out and Elijah is being good and many people come to talk to me about him. I don’t mind being nice to others and speaking to strangers but it does make me feel uncomfortable. Especially when people touch him (even before covid) or don’t take the hint the conversation is over.
Because i suffer from a chronic illness as well i sometimes don’t have much strength as apposed to other parents. I can’t always pick him up and carry him long when he flops to the floor. We have also gotten rid of his buggy because he wouldn’t sit in it and also i think he is too old for it. He is sometimes tired which causes more tantrums and because we often go for nice long walks he can sometime get bit touchy. However when i go oit without james i never take him anywhere which will over tire him because of this.
I always panic about taking Elijah to restaurants because when he is bored he acts up and misbehaves. But however i have found that if i take him a bag of toys out with us he is normally quite well behaved. I have been known to take games and even playdough if needed. But being alone again is still stress full.
However i have been trying to go out of my comfort zone a lot more these days . I have been forcing myself to overcome my anxiety and take Elijah out just the two of us at least once a week. I started by taking him to the library, then to soft play and then out for meals and trips into town. I have started to slowly build up my confidence and i just try to keep myself calm if Elijah does have a tantrum. I try to remain calm and speak to Elijah calmly and explain things clearly to him, i try to distract him or structure my day so we don’t go out when he is sleepy or going to get tired walking around too much. I will not let my anxiety control me or my sons life. Lock down affected me a lot in regards to going out because i am so scared of covid but the more i go out the more i journey outside the more i feel a bit more comfortable. I teach Elijah to distance as well as hand washing regularly. I just have to accept this is the world we live in now and it’s not healthy to stay in one place for the rest of our lives, so long as we are careful and i overcome my anxiety then we are able to live a relatively normal life.
If you are feeling anxious about going out solo with your toddler remember you are not alone. Baby steps can help at times and things do get better. Things are not always as bad as our head makes it out to be. Yes there are times i take him out and his naughty but sometimes he can be a complete angel. He will be the best behaved little boy ever. It is rare he is naughty but when he is the odd time it makes me still feel anxious and stressed but i try to remember this is just a bad day and we will get through it.