Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Tried & Tested Tuesday

And just like that, it's September! How did that happen?!  We hope you've all had a wonderful Summer, we're certainly craving the routine and normality that September brings to our households!

Thanks to all of you for joining in, sharing your posts and using the hashtag every week – you make #TriedTested the success it is! Keep up the good work!  We always love reading your posts and discovering new products (and usually end up with a long wish list at the end of it all!)

Thank you for supporting us, and for sharing the linky love! Please have a quick read through the points below to make sure you know how things are working:

* The linky 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

 * We will continue to feature our two favourite reviews from the past week and we have introduced a brand new “featured blogger” badge which we’re very excited about! 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! You can find out more about it 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:


Fisher Price Newborn to Toddler Play Gym from Make Do & Push - Apart from the gorgeous photos of Hannah's children, we're both long time fans of Fisher Price so it's great to see they've hit the nail on the head again with this one.

Backpacking: Waterproof Clothing & Footwear from That Lancashire Lass - "There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing" - and Karen's boys were well prepared for the elements this holidays! 

If you link up 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 as well as a couple of others if you can – we know that people really, 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).  We do our best to visit each post and leave a comment but we can’t promise to get round everyone every week!  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

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Checking back on our Summer Bucket List

I suddenly realised that it's pretty much the end of August and that I really should do an update of our Summer Bucket List.  Shamefully the last one I posted was right at the start of July, I'm going to blame the summer holidays for my lack of updates there!  It's so hard to maintain my blogging at the same level when I've got three little people at home full time! 

Anyhow . . . here's how our Summer Bucket List is looking on the last day in August - I warn you now, it's long with a lot of photos: 

1. Take our first family holiday abroad
We spent enjoyed a lovely holiday in Benodet at the start of August and I've not really written about it surprisingly.  I think catching up with all the washing somehow put paid to that one.  Highlights of the trip include increased confidence in the water for all three children, time on the beach, exploring the local area, time to ourselves and seeing how much the children (particularly Amy) enjoyed having Granny, Grandad and Aunty Nic live next door for a week!

3. Celebrate Chloe's 4th birthday
Chloe turned 4 on a school day so we went to Frankie and Benny's for tea - it was really hard work as Amy was tired and being a bit of a pain but Chloe enjoyed her tea.  With Ben and Chloe's birthday's being close together they chose to have a joint birthday party at our local soft play again. 

4. Celebrate Ben's 6th birthday 
Ben's birthday falls within the school holidays so we were able to have a cheeky day out on his birthday with his best mate and went Gruffalo Orienteering followed by dinner at Frankie and Benny's (Can you spot a theme here?) 

5. Lots of picnics
We've done really well on the picnic front with a picnic when we went Gruffalo Orienteering, one in Roundhay Park and another just last week on the beach at Lytham to name but a few!  I must admit all these picnics aren't doing my waistline any favours though! 

8. Celebrate my Dad's 60th twice
Dad turned 60 in July and we had two rounds of birthday celebrations - one on his actual birthday with the kids and a trip to the races for the grown ups the following week.  It was a real treat to have a full weekend in York to be grown ups and drink gin! 

9. Watch one of my very best friends get married
The end of July saw one of my very best friends get married.  Will and I have been friends for over 15 years now and he's the best godfather my children could wish for.  Will & Lucy's wedding was particularly special as it took place over two days with my Dad performing the role of celebrant on the second day.  I don't think I'd ever been so nervous about a wedding as I was in the run up to this one, I was an emotional wreck (even pouring a full glass of Bucks Fizz down my dress on arrival at the venue!).  Ben, Chloe and Amy came to the wedding with us so that they were able to see Uncle Will get married and feel that they had been part of the day but then Aunty Nic collected them before the wedding breakfast allowing us to relax and enjoy ourselves with friends (she even had them over night for us!).  It was a fantastic day and I completely failed to take any photos however we were lucky enough that the photographer captured this beauty for us: 

10. Take a trip to York Maze 
York Maze is only just down the road from my parents' house and we've planned to go for the last couple of years but it just hasn't happened.  This year I was determined to return to our wedding venue for a day out - you can read all about it here.

11. Teach Ben to ride his bike without stabilisers
Although this is something we've discussed with Ben quite a lot, it just hasn't happened.  We had told him that if he could ride his bike before his birthday we'd buy him a new one but we haven't even managed to get his bike out of the loft (it was put up there during the winter because we were short of space).  Realistically I don't think his bike would actually fit him now, Granny and Grandad bought it for his 2nd birthday.  We've made a deal with him now that if he can save up half the cost of his new bike, we'll give him the other half - so that's where we're at, Ben is saving for a new bike. 

12. Find a suncream which suits Ben's skin but doesn't ruin his clothes! 
We've not done too badly on the ruined clothes front this year!  The NIVEA Sensitive for Kids is great on his skin but literally destroys clothes.  We've found the Ambre Solaire does the business - it doesn't irritate his skin and is much kinder on their clothes.  I must admit we've been much more careful about what they're wearing on days where the suncream is slathered on though - definitely nothing light coloured! 

13. Keep focused on that "Wedding Weight" target
This has been an epic fail.  I've not been "on plan" for a couple of months now. I've kept going to class when I can as I know how easy it would be to give up.  But between a holiday, too many ice creams on days out and not doing the school run every day, I'm about 8lb up on my lightest weight back in May.  I'm ready for the kids to go back to school and to get some focus back now! 

14. Do more Yoga 
Another fail.  I don't think I've even really had my mat out.  Fingers crossed I'll find a way to get this into my routine once the kids are at school this week!

15. Add more decorative bits and bobs to the house!
Slow and steady on this front but we're getting there. In fact just this weekend we've been working hard on the house with Dave doing loads of painting, putting up shelves, pictures, bunting etc etc.  I'm going to do a bit of an update post soon so I'll share some of our new bits and bobs there. 

16. Take a trip to Whitby to introduce Daddy to Magpie fish and chips
Nope. Again we've still not been anywhere near Whitby.  I haven't actually been since shortly before our wedding so it's not three and a half years ago. I'm going to keep it on the list though! 

17. Reclaim some outside space
Last year our back garden was basically a builders' yard and we had nowhere safe for the kids to play outside.  Our garden remained as such right through to the start of this summer when we decided to take the bull by the horns.  So far we have cleared the back garden and re turfed it and whilst this wasn't entirely successful it did mean that Ben, Chloe and Amy have been able to play outside again - the Little Tikes Slide Little Tykes slide we bought Ben for his 2nd birthday has been getting plenty of use!  The next task for outside is to clear the front and lay an off cut of fake grass which my Dad has got stored for us - I can't wait to see what a difference that will make! 

So a pretty successful summer all told, just one or two things to roll over onto the Autumn Bucket List! 
  1. Take our first family holiday abroad
  2. Get out the water tray that the kids got last summer
  3. Celebrate Chloe's 4th birthday 
  4. Celebrate Ben's 6th birthday
  5. Lots of picnics!
  6. Dave's big bike ride & a trip to the seaside
  7. My first Britmums experience!
  8. Celebrate my Dad's 60th - twice
  9. Watch one of my very best friends get married
  10. Take a trip to York Maze
  11. Teach Ben to ride his bike without stablisers
  12. Find a sun cream which suits Ben's skin but doesn't ruin his clothes!
  13. Keep focused on that "Wedding Weight" target (this is continued from the Spring Bucket List) 
  14. Do more yoga
  15. Add more decorative bits and bobs to the house!
  16. Take a trip to Whitby & introduce Daddy to Magpie fish and chips as we didn't manage it in the Spring
  17. Reclaim some outside space

Toytopia, The Exhibition Centre Liverpool - Giveaway

Coming to The Exhibition Centre Liverpool this October half term is a truly unique toy show - this isn't just an event for press or buyers, this is a magical event or the whole family.  A toy show offering you the opportunity to interact and play with the toys and games on display - from the top of this year's Christmas wishlists to the old family favourites there will be something for everyone. 

There will be a range of character appearances and live shows to enjoy along with a whole range of exciting experiences from meeting LEGO certified professionals, Bright Bricks to taking the Seat Drop Challenge with Springfree Trampolines.  Older children can learn to DJ and discover the world of animation from the creators of Wallace & Gromit! 

Coupled with all the magic and excitement is an opportunity for you to make a start on your Christmas shopping with a range of show-only discounts and competitions. 

Toytopia costs £20 per person however if you buy in advance from TicketQuarter using  the promotional code - TOYTOPIA511 you will save 25% making the general admission price £15 per person.  (Under 3s free)  

I'm thrilled to be able to offer you the opportunity to win tickets for a family of up to five people.  As always just complete as many of the Rafflecopter options as you would like, ensuring these are done accurately to avoid disqualification. 

*Disclaimer - I have received no payment for writing this post however we will be attending Toytopia as guests*

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Perking up the Dining Room!

Our dining room was one of the very first rooms we decorated when we moved into our house seven years ago.  It is now looking pretty tired and in need of some serious updating.  (It doesn't help of course that for the best part of last year our dining room was used as storage whilst we had major building work done.)  The wallpaper is dirty and torn, the light fitting is hideous (I think I chose it because it was cheap) and there is just a general mass of clutter everywhere. One of the biggest problems with our dining room is that because it's the first room you come to after you walk through the front door it tends to become a bit more a dumping ground and is often treated as more of an over sized entrance hall with a table in it than an actual dining room.  We have a chest of drawers full of hats, scarves, shoes and general rubbish, Amy's pushchair and her SmarTrike (as we have no usable garage or utility this is the only place they can be stored).

When we first decorated our dining room we discovered that the plaster wasn't in a great condition and as we weren't really in a position to do anything about that at the time we made the best of it and decorated the room wtih a textured wall paper to try and disguise the lumpy bumpy walls which we then painted in a neutral creamy colour (Egyptian Cotton if I remember rightly).  Seven years down the line I now know that the room doesn't just need skimming as I first thought but in reality we are going to have to strip the plaster completely and do a full re-plastering.  There seems to be a bit of a damp issue at the front of the house which Dad says we will solve by injecting the walls.  

So much as I really want to redecorate my dining room and give it a fresh new look, realistically there is no point doing this until my Dad has the time to sort out the damp issues and we have the money to pay for the plastering - this could be quite some time.

In the meantime I'm focusing on the little things I can do to brighten the room and perk things up a bit! 
I've always loved our gallery wall but it needed a bit of an update - for a start there is no evidence of a third child.  A third child who is sneaking up on being two years old!  Shameful!  So I've been out and bought a new picture frame so that Amy's little face could be included up there, I just need to get a picture of her printed out for that now! 

Our dusty old light fitting (with it's one working bulb) is to be replaced with this beauty (Cream pendant from Lighting Majestic) when Dave has the time to get it sorted out and fitted: 

The shelves have had a good old sort out and look a lot less cluttered now. . . 

. . . and I've sorted out the chest of drawers and am trying hard not to dump stuff on them!  (Probably best you don't look inside them of course!)

What else would you do to our dining room to give it a bit of life back?

*Disclaimer - We have been provided with the new light fitting free of charge for the purposes of inclusion in this post.  All thought and opinions remain our own*

Friday, 28 August 2015

The first day of school

The start of the new school year is looming, the new uniforms are labelled, the PE kits packed and the parents are getting ready to breathe a collective sigh of relief.

This year sees Chloe start Reception.  Wednesday will be my little girl's first proper day at school.  Full time, staying for lunch, playing in the big playground.  It's a big thing.  A big thing for her, for me, for her little sister who I know is going to really miss her! 

Trying on their new uniforms ready for September

The first day at school is such a huge milestone.  The day your child takes their first steps into the real world, without you there to hold their hand.  Yes they may have been to Nursery, yes they may have been in full time childcare since they were not much more than babies but school is different.  School means not knowing what they've been doing all day or what they've had for lunch.  School means not knowing who their friends are.  School means learning to read, to write, to learn.  School means growing up. 

Ben and Chloe both started primary school in Nursery - at just 3 years and 1 month old, wearing school uniform and taking a full part in school life with assemblies, playtimes and even homework.  Of course this means that for both them and I, the first day in Reception doesn't feel quite so painful.  Putting on the school uniform is already routine, walking to school for 9am is already routine.  It will be strange not to collect Chloe at lunch time though.  Strange not to have that time with my girls.  She's excited to have her dinner at school but I think she will find the days long.  The afternoon sessions will be tiring at first and I'm not sure Amy will know what to do with herself all day without her big sister by her side.

Ben's first day at Nursery - September 2012
Ben will be in Year 2 this year.  Year 2.  Top juniors.  SATs year.  How is my little boy in Year 2?  His first day at school seems like it was only yesterday.  Walking Ben to school on his first day was especially precious to me as it was something I never thought I would be able to do.  As a primary school teacher myself I had always expected I would be at work, however I left my full time teaching job to move onto supply the summer before Ben started Nursery at our local primary school.

I remember finding it really strange that Ben's school had all the Nursery & Reception children in at once on the first day - no staggered starts, no parents in the cloakroom bidding tearful farewells - a real "rip the plaster off and let's get on with it" attitude.  I was quite shocked and also really glad that Ben was the sort of confident, independent child who wasn't phased by it!  Pushing a reluctant child through the gates and into the unknown could easily have been challenging for both of us!

Despite Ben having been in the Nursery at school for a full year, I still surprised myself by bursting into tears as I sent him into his Reception class on his first day.  I blamed it on pregnancy hormones at the time!  With hindsight I guess it was a mixture of pride, relief and sadness that my little man was growing up and needing me just that little bit less. 

I do rather wonder if these first days at school are harder for us as mums than they are for the children themselves! 

The first day of school is a big deal the world over and Persil have teamed up with Unicef in a global initiative called "Learning for Tomorrow", to help empower the next generation through education.  (I warn you now - this video is a tear jerker!) 

Every child has a right to an education and Persil are committed to helping improve the future of children around the world and support them in reaching their full potential through access to quality education and new learning experiences.  

Much as it is currently popular to bemoan about the standard of teaching or education in this country I really don't think we know how lucky we are.  Did you know that globally, there are 130 million children in education who will reach year 5 but fail to learn the basic reading, maths, writing and social sills they need to achieve their full potential.  Furthermore, an additional 58 million children are out of school without access to basic education.  As both a teacher and a mother this horrifies me.  To find out more about the Learning for Tomorrow Initiative or read about Persil's partnership with UNICEF, visit www.persil.co.uk/learning-for-tomorrow.

As part of Persil's partnership with Unicef, celebrating the giving of 10M children worldwide access to quality education, Persil are running a Photo-A-Week challenge.  Each week for 4 weeks, you could win exciting prizes!  Each week Persil will announce a school theme on their Instagram page (@PersilUK) and ask you to upload your photo to Instagram.  Just mention @PersilUK using that week's competition hashtag. 

If your little one is starting school for the first time this week - then good luck to both of you!  Treat yourself to some cake after you've dropped them off and all will be well. 

*Disclaimer - This is a sponsored post brought to you in collaboration with Persil & Tots100*

Art Therapy adult colouring books - review & giveaway

You can't fail to have noticed that Adult Colouring Books have become a bit of a "thing" of late.  I must admit that I rather scoffed at the idea at first.  Who has time to sit down and colour in for goodness sake?  However I've been somewhat won over after I sat colouring with Ben and Chloe one day at the dining table. Whilst we sat and coloured together we talked about their day, their colour choices and I modelled how to colour in neatly - to stay within the lines and to get an even coverage of colour.   I realised that whilst I was unlikely to sit and colour in on my own of an evening, it would be quite nice to have something a little more challenging to colour in than a big grey elephant in a jungle scene!

For adults, colouring in can provide a real distraction from the stresses and strains of every day life whilst you focus on this creative outlet - for someone like me who can't draw, colouring in is really quite satisfying.  I won't deny I've enjoyed a bit of colouring in for my classroom displays over the years! 

Over the course of the summer holidays, colouring in has provided a calm and focussed activity in our house on rainy days or just those times when we need to chill out a bit.  I'm not a complete convert, you won't find my sitting down with a colour book when the kids are in bed however I am really appreciating having my own colouring books to do alongside them. 

The most recent additions to the Art Therapy range are "Aztecs and Mayas" & "Buddhism" - each hardback book available with an RRP of £12.99.  Whilst spending over £10 on a colouring book may seem excessive in reality these are beautiful books of 100 really detailed images printed on high quality paper which is a pleasure to work on.  When you consider how long this book will take you to complete I should think it is worth the investment.  As an aside you may need to invest in something a bit more special that your children's crayons - I have found that using your average colouring pencil doesn't give the strength of colour I crave nor is it easy to maintain the really sharp point necessary for some of the really intricate patterns.  (I believe Sharpie are great for this sort of thing) 

If you'd like to jump on the adult colouring bandwagon (or perhaps you're already riding it!) I'm pleased to be able to offer you the chance to win a pair of Art Therapy colouring books.  There will be two winners for this giveaway so please do just complete the Rafflecopter options as per usual!  I will check entries and disqualify any which have not been completed accurately so do take care!  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


*Disclaimer - I was sent the colouring books free of charge for the purposes of writing this review however all thoughts and opinions remain my own.  This post contains affiliate links*

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