Thursday, 26 May 2016

Pampers "Little Champions" Campaign

Being a mum of three, I often hear the words "Ooh you've got your hands full with three to run around after haven't you?"  Yes, yes I have.  In fact, research has shown that babies move so much in a day that they can take as many steps as a marathon runner in just 24 hours.  Perhaps Amy should be wearing my FitBit! 

Jessica Ennis-Hill, top British athlete and mum to Reggie, is working alongside Pampers to launch the Pampers Little Champions Campaign - celebrating the next generation of little athletes and encouraging us as parents to celebrate our own little champions too. 

When there's crawling, running and climbing to be done the proper kit is of the utmost importance!  It doesn't matter if you are one of the world's greatest athletes or a baby in need of the freedom to move and explore, making sure you've got the right gear will always give you a head start! 

You may have seen that Amy recently tested out the new Magical Pods which have revolutionised Pampers.  The Magical Pods allow for an even distribution of wetness giving a sag free fit and superior dryness to ensure your little one can concentrate on perfecting their "champion moves"! 
As Pampers Love, Sleep & Play expert, Dr. Ellie Cannon explains "Babies don't need instructions to learn - they learn through self-discovery and encouragement from those around them" - Amy is increasingly determined, independent and confident.  It's our role as her parents to support her in her development, to make sure that she feels safe and happy to explore.  Being comfortable in her clothes and nappy is a vital part of that - who wants to be wearing a frilly dress when they're climbing the wrong way up the slide?  Not Amy that's for sure.  She doesn't want to be held back by a saggy nappy either. 

*Collaborative post*

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Jazzing up our hallway with Desenio - Review

We have been living in our house for almost eight years now and over that time we have decorated, refitted, extended, redecorated, extended and decorated some more.  To quote my Grandma "you'll never be done!" 

Over the course of this last year or so we've been getting more stuff up on the walls - a collection of Sally Langstaff photos in the living room, some framed posters in the playroom and a new photo gallery on the landing (as well as the existing on in the dining room - I take a lot of photos!) 

Although in theory I thought I liked quite a minimalist look, it turns out I actually love having loads of things on the walls!  I'm particularly keen on grouping prints and pictures together rather than single frames.  

Having played a significant role in our extension work a couple of years ago, our hall, stairs and landing was reworked and replastered and has been something of an ongoing project ever since.  We quite recently had a new radiator fitted into the recess Dave had created (I'd been worried about kids falling and banging their heads on the radiator for years so I love having it set into the wall now).  However, there's still plenty to do - the walls have been undercoated but not properly painted for two reasons.  The first being that the area with the sky light is really tricky to reach safely so Dave hasn't managed to paint that yet, but the second more significant reason is that we don't have a banister at the moment and Amy tends to use the walls to stabilise herself as she climbs the stairs.  I don't really want to spend time and money on properly painting the walls until we have addressed the grubby hand prints situation. 

The big white space behind the front door has been a bone of contention.  Dave felt we should have coat hooks there but I wasn't keen at all.  I felt it would make the already small space look cramped and cluttered but he was all about the practicalities of having the coats near the door.  Since we've added some extra coat hooks to the cupboard under the stairs we seem to have nicely resolved that issue leaving the hall space lovely and clear. 

When Desenio got in touch and offered us some art prints to review, I knew exactly where they were going to go!  The website is absolutely packed with prints and posters - hundreds in fact - and at first I felt a little overwhelmed by the choice.  I sat down with Dave to look through them and he was immediately taken by the Batman poster which we decided to make a starting point for the collection.  
I love a good inspirational quote so working on a monochrome theme, with Batman as the centrepiece, we picked out a range of prints in various sizes and ordered frames to go with them.  Being able to order the prints and frames all in one go makes life so much easier - for a start you know they're going to be the right size!  Desenio offer quite a range of frames but we decided to stick with a simple black wood as the prints were all to be black and white and I do like things to co-ordinate.  The prints and frames are really good value - I think our entire order totalled somewhere in the region of around £75, which when you see how much we got for that is really impressive! 

The prints and frames arrived together, carefully packaged with the prints rolled safely in a cardboard tube and the frames all individually packed in plenty of bubble wrap.  One of the frames had a teeny tiny chip in it but it's unnoticeable once we got it up on the wall.  Dave commented that it was a pain having to frame the prints ourselves but to be honest for that price I don't really think you can complain about spending ten minutes popping the prints into their frames and it really wasn't difficult.  We were impressed by how sturdy the backboards were and the quality of the hardware - the frames can be hung both portrait and landscape as you would expect.  It's worth noting that the frames are quite deep so we needed to use picture hooks rather than just a tack in the wall - that said this does mean the pictures are slightly more secure in case anyone knocks them coming down the stairs.  The metal loops on the back of the smaller frames are flush to the backboard and we had to bend them outwards for the hooks - this was really tricky and involved a screwdriver and a frustrated Dave. 

Actually hanging the pictures took no time at all once we'd decided on a lay out.  I love the way the prints look together - ordering all the posters online from the same site meant I knew the paper and print quality would be the same as well as the sizings and frames making for a lovely co-ordinated gallery effect. 

It turns out that taking photos in an already dark hallway behind the door is quite tricky but I hope you can get the overall effect!  Ben thinks the Batman poster is hilarious, Amy particularly likes the cheeky little rabbit face (which I must admit is one of my favourites too).  I love that, for a relatively small spend, we have been able to lift an otherwise boring bit of our house.

Overall I'm thrilled by the service and quality of products from Desenio - although we had a few niggles with the frames, for the price I think they represent really good value and I would most definitely look to ordering more prints if we find we have another empty wall to fill! 

*Disclaimer - We received the prints and frames free of charge and I have been compensated for my time in writing this post.  All thoughts and opinions remain our own* 

Wrigley’s Extra® Smile Back™ Project

Is there anything more precious than a child's smile?

This month sees the launch of Wrigley’s Extra® Smile Back™ Project - a campaign which aims to promote and protect oral health in our children enabling them to "smile confidently back at the day".
With three young children, our house sees more than it's fair share of smiles.  Cuddles, play fighting, tickling and general silliness are all top of the list for raising a smile in our household.  All three children are at their happiest outdoors - running free in the sunshine or splashing in puddles, they're not fussed!  Like 34% of the 1000 children surveyed by Wrigley's Extra, a song and dance with Mum and Dad is also a big hit - Let's Get Ready to Rhumble is a family favourite!!

With technology and screens playing an ever increasing role in our lives, it is comforting to know that when it comes to our children's happiness, the key is in good old fashioned family fun! 

The Lost Smile children's storybook has been written in partnership with the Extra Smile Back Project for young children, with the intention of raising awareness of the need to protect our smiles.  Wrigley will be donating all profits from the sale of "The Lost Smile" to charity - with an equal split between Action for Children and the Oral Health Foundation. 

The basic premise of the story is that Kyle's family have lost their smiles so he goes out searching for them - the theme running throughout the story is that of smiles being infectious.  When a child smiles at you, you smile back right?  (Either that or you're made of stone!) 

The back of the book features ten top tips for keeping your family's teeth clean and healthy - setting the foundations for good oral hygiene in childhood so as to protect those precious smiles for the future.  Sadly I've seen first hand the effects that poor oral hygiene can have on confidence in adults, grown ups who are too self conscious to smile properly or speak to people they don't know because of their decayed teeth.  Our children's smiles are more precious than we could ever know - they have the power to completely change someone's day with one toothy grin and we must ensure that we protect that! 

For more details of the project and to purchase The Lost Smile visit Check out Wrigley’s video that shows how The Lost Smile book was created by children and the inspiration the workshop gave to the children’s author and illustrator:

Join @MrandMrsTplus3 and Tots100 for a Twitter party with Wrigley’s Extra on the 25th May and tell us all about what you do to make your child smile! Join the party using the hashtag #SmileBack between 1-2PM and you could win one of five £25 John Lewis vouchers.

*This is a sponsored post for Wrigley's Extra® written on behalf of their Extra Smile Back™ Project which launches today.*

*We made the finals of this year's MAD Blog Awards and would love your votes for Best Schooldays Blog - click below to vote*


Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Teaching children about the value of money

How do you teach your children about the value of money?  

According to research carried out by icount recently over 40% of parents surveyed felt that children should be taught the value of money between the ages of 5 and 7.  

Personally I think you need to start even sooner.  From a very early age we've talked about the value of money to our children.  For example, if they want a treat from a gift shop at the zoo we might explain to them that there isn't any money for the gift shop as we spent lots of money on the entrance tickets or, if we're feeling a little more flush, that they must choose between an ice cream or gift shop money.  This makes a clear point that you can only spend your money once.  Mummy and Daddy don't have a free flowing stream of money (if only) and we have to make decisions about what we want to spend it on.  Giving them choices about how money helps them to understand how you must prioritise what your funds are spent on.  It also means that we rarely have tantrums or strops if we say we can't or won't buy something - they just understand that the money isn't there.

Last summer we had our first family holiday abroad and we were often heard to be saying "We can't do that as we need to save all our pennies for France" or "Yes you can use your money to buy those sweets if you want to but then you won't have any spending money on holiday".  We were intentionally teaching Ben and Chloe in particular, that you need to make sacrifices to save up for something you really want.

More recently we encouraged Ben to save up to buy his own bike.  Of course the £70 or so we spent on his new bike is a lot of money to save at 6 years old so as an added motivation we told him that we'd pay half.  If he could save up £35 for his bike, we'd pay the other £35 for him.  Through a combination of saving up money from his grandparents, the tooth fairy, doing jobs around the house and even the odd penny or two from Grandad Joe, he saved up his half in around 6 months.  He had to work hard for his bike and he was so proud to have paid for it himself.

Clearly, teaching children about the value of money isn't just about learning about how much things cost, though again this is something we talk about often.  Ben in particular, at 6, is able to understand when I tell him "The tickets for this pantomime were really expensive, they cost more than your new bike" and I do think it gives him an increased appreciation of how expensive things can be or how hard we have to work to provide them.  When he asks to buy something naff in the supermarket and I tell him that for the same money he could have a box of LEGO he soon changes his mind about where he wants to spend his money! 

Interestingly a large number of parents surveyed felt that the best way to teach children about the value of money was to give them their own pocket money.  This isn't something we actually do yet as I think our children are still too young, however having responsibility for a small amount of money certainly does give them the opportunity to learn about saving, budgeting and managing their money.  I remember in my early teens getting the bus into York with friends and writing lists before I went of what I would be spending my money on - the bus, a sausage roll from the bakery, a new top.  I was already learning to budget.  (Unfortunately it wasn't really a lesson that stuck into early adulthood).  As a teen, my Dad would pay me my pocket money by monthly direct debit - mainly because he would forget otherwise but also because making your money last all month is a good lesson to learn for when you join the working world.  Both Mum and Dad were keen that we were never allowed "subs" - if we had run out of money, we had to wait until our next pocket money was due.  There was never any borrowing.  Again, a tough lesson to learn and one which I wish I'd internalised more!

I'd love to know how you teach your children about the value of money?  Do they have pocket money?  How do you encourage them to save?

*Collaborative post*

Tried & Tested Tuesday (Week #21 - 2016)

Morning loves! I don't know about you but we're soldiering through the week looking forward to the long bank holiday weekend and half term!

Welcome to another week of #TriedTested! Of course we wouldn’t be able to say that without you lovely lot returning each and every week to link up your favourite reviews and taking time to read and comment on others.  We have always been really proud of the fact that the bloggers joining in with #TriedTested are keen commenters; let’s face it there’s no point in linking up if you’re not going to get lots of lovely people reading your post is there – so gold stars all round.  You’re ace, keep it up!

Please have a quick read through the points below to make sure you know how things are working:

* Tried & Tested is open on Tuesday – from 8am to midnight on the same day

* We’d love to share your post on Twitter – please tweet us your link (@Lollinski & @FamilyFever) along with the #TriedTested hashtag and we’ll retweet that for you

* If you’d like Colette to tweet you a reminder each week when the linky is open then please drop her a tweet (@Lollinski) and she’ll add you to the list

* Each week we feature our two favourite reviews from the past week and we have a super special “featured blogger” badge! If you are this week’s featured blogger we will send you over the code which we would love you to add to you blog post or sidebar!

So if this is your first time here then welcome along, where have you been? You can find out more about #TriedTested and how to join in here.  If you’re a regular then welcome to you too, it’s lovely to have you back! Crack on, link up and share some commenty love – let’s face it, that’s what makes linkys work.

This week we have loved:

Little Tikes Cape Cottage review from The DADventurer.  Aside from being fully jealous of Dave's recent garden makeover, we loved the look of this super little playhouse - it would make a great addition to any child's garden!

Vauxhall Mokka review from Life with Mrs Shilts.  Finding a family car to suit your needs can be really tricky.  We loved this "Mum's eye view" of the Mokka and would definitely consider it for ourselves if it were big enough for our families! 

We don’t have lots of rules for #TriedTested however the ones we do have are really important: 

* Please do make sure you visit your hosts Family Fever and We’re going on an adventure to leave a comment on the posts we have each linked up 

* Try to comment on a couple of other posts as well if you can – we know that people really appreciate the feedback! 

* We do ask that you link a maximum of 2 posts each week to keep things fair for everyone – if you choose to link up an extra post please make sure you visit extra posts in the linky to balance it out.  (Additional or irrelevant posts will be deleted out of fairness.) 

* Please don’t link up a linky or comment on other people’s posts asking them to join your linky too as it’s really not good etiquette! 

We do our best to visit each post to leave a comment but we can’t promise to get round everyone every week! Life does have something of a tendency to run away with us! 

We would love it if you grabbed our badge and popped it on your post too so other people know where to find the linky.
We're going on an adventure

*We made the finals of this year's MAD Blog Awards and would love your votes for Best Schooldays Blog - click below to vote*


Monday, 23 May 2016

Testing Tengi - The Chat App That Gives Back

I've been using Tengi, "the chat app which gives back" for a couple of weeks now.  

As I mentioned in my first post, I'm partial to communicating via text be it on my blog, social media or via a messaging app on my phone.  The written word gives you time to think, to formulate your response.  It can be ignored until you have time to respond.  It can be discreet and unobtrusive.  Phone calls are often time consuming, inconvenient and potentially expensive.  Don't get me wrong, I love an hour long chat with my mum, my sister, my best friend . . . But there are so many times where text is just quicker and easier. 

Tengi works in much the same way as many other messaging apps on the market - it's free to download and messages are sent for free via your data connection.  You can chat to individuals or set up group chats (the Tengi Bloggers group consists of ten of us which I must admit is quite a struggle to keep up with at times).  Once or twice other members of the group said that they had bit of the chat missing - messages didn't always seem to appear but I can't say this is something I experienced myself. 

The biggest selling point of Tengi is the fact it offers you the chance to win a share of the advertising revenue just for downloading & using the app - the more you use it the more entries you get.  Tickets are give when your friend joins, when you've chatted for a certain amount of time or even when your friend wins. The draw happens each Friday and if you are lucky enough to win you can instantly claim that as a cash prize. 

Of course this is all pay off for the biggest downside - the advertising.  At first I found it supremely irritating, it felt so intrusive sat there in my inbox as an unopened message begging me to open it up and read.  I thought it was going to be a deal breaker however you very quickly got use to it, like a loudly ticking clock eventually you just stopped noticing it was there. And, for the chance to win a bit of cash, it's probably worth putting up with! 

Other niggles include a heavy drain on battery life.  Dave quickly deleted the app after it used up a good chunk of his battery in one day.  I've found it to be a bit hit and miss to be honest, it hasn't drained my battery heavily enough that I felt the need to remove it but it's worth bearing in mind. 
The notifications were hard going initially but I soon worked out how to mute those so I could read messages in my own sweet time rather than when the incessant ping insisted.  The interface feels quite basic but is perfectly functional and you quickly get used to it.  Like many of these things, it just takes a day or so to get it set up in a way that suits your own needs and preferences. 

To my mind, if you can put up with the advertising and can convince all your mates over to the dark side, then Tengi is definitely worth a try.  The chance to win money for something you'd be doing anyway?  Got to be worth considering. 

*Sponsored post*

*We made the finals of this year's MAD Blog Awards and would love your votes for Best Schooldays Blog - click below to vote*