Kinetic Rock 3-in-1 Loader - Review

My five year old son C is all about textures and whilst we have heard of Kinetic Sand (the number one sand brand in the UK), we'd never actually tried it to see what it was like and we didn't even know that Kinetic Rock was a thing!

C loves things like play dough and has a sensory box full of squishy things that he can squeeze and mould when he is feeling angry or upset so I thought that the texture of Kinetic Rock would be right up his street. We received the Kinetic Rock 3-in-1 Loader to try and boy, was I right! He absolutely loves it and even sat playing with it for three hours straight upon first opening.

The box includes:
  • 8oz of Kinetic Rock gold
  • 1 deluxe construction vehicle
  • 3 attachable vehicle tools
  • 5 accessories (builder and tools)
As soon as we opened everything out, C got stuck right in with mashing together and squeezing the rock. It really does stick together! It comes with a little fake diamond that can be buried inside the rock and C's favourite thing to do was put the figure inside his digger and drill the rock out, then he went on to either switching to the construction worker holding the pick or shovel or switching the drill on the vehicle for the scoop. He did struggle a little bit switching the tools that attach to the vehicle but that was a strength issue for him, I had to step in and help.

Whilst playing, C liked to pretend and give the construction worker a voice, imagining what he would say. He liked figuring out how to use each tool and seeing which one would help him find the buried diamond first. It was lovely to see him using his imagination and trying to work out for himself which tools did what. He really enjoyed creating a real-life construction site. It is a really great hands-on toy which is brilliant for aiding a child's development.

I did umm and ahh over putting down a tablecloth but the Kinetic Rock is so easy to clean up and leaves absolutely no residue on the table. A parent's dream!

The Kinetic Rock 3-in-1 Loader retails at £16.99 and is suitable for children aged 3+. You can purchase it from all good retailers nationwide.

(We received this item for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)

James and the Birthday Balloon by Nicola J. Rowley - Book Review

Being massive book lovers, we always like receiving new books in our house. We recently got our hands on a copy of James and the Birthday Balloon by Nicola J. Rowley. It's a short illustrated story which seemed perfect to read to both 3 year old E and 5 year old C.

The story follows James and Ruby who are best friends. It's Ruby's birthday and she throws a party on the farm where she lives. Each child receives a balloon from the entertainer and although they've been told to hold onto the string very tightly, Ruby accidentally lets go of hers and whilst running after it, trips and injures herself.

This is such a beautifully descriptive story that really puts you in the book and the imagery helps picture the scene. It's a lovely book about friendship and I love how James is described as being able to make everyone around him smile and be happy - just how I see my own son C. 

As well as the friendship aspect, as Ruby needs to go to the hospital after her accident, it explores her feelings about being scared but reassures readers that everything will be okay and hospitals shouldn't be scary, it is where we go to get help. Great for any child who does need to go into hospital.

We love this book and C has even had a go at reading it by himself, it's perfect for early readers. As if that wasn't enough, there is a QR code that you can scan to get the free audio book read by one of C's favourite's - Dr Ranj!

You can purchase your own paperback copy for £7.99 on Amazon.

(We received this book for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.) 

Disney Vampirina Boo-Tiful Dress - Review

We are massive Disney fans in our house and Erin's current favourite, aside from Frozen which I think she will be obsessed with for years, is Vampirina.

If you haven't heard of Vampirina, it is a show on Disney Junior which follows Vampirina "Vee" Hauntley who becomes the new kid in town after she and her family move from Transylvania to Pennsylvania. They open a bed and breakfast called the Scare B&B for visiting ghouls and goblins. Each episode is packed with music which I think is what E loves so much about it. She has even progressed from just watching the show to watching people play with Vampirina toys on YouTube, and then subsequently asking me if I can buy her every single one.

E was so excited to get her hands on the Vampirina Boo-Tiful Dress so that she could transform into Vee herself. E has always been a massive fan of dressing up, we have a huge box full of costumes and she likes just embodying the character. The Boo-Tiful dress comes with the dress, a bat wing headband and fingerless gloves.

The dress is suitable for children aged 4-6 years. E is a little under that at 3.5 but it does fit well (she wears 4-5 years on occasion) with a fair bit of growth so I would say it's true to size. I absolutely adore the dress and with its velour feel, it seems a bit higher quality than most other costumes that we own - this does mean that it must be handwashed only though. The addition of sparkles to create the web effect on the dress and the images on the gloves really caught E's eye - she's a sucker for glitter and you even have a little badge with the image of Vampirina on the chest.

The headband and gloves are a nice touch to set off the costume. The headband fits E's head perfectly and I am pleased to say that even two weeks later, the bat wings haven't drooped and still stand erect. Although the gloves are baggy on the hand, we did have to jiggle and really push her fingers through the holes to get them on properly without feeling like they were going to fall off.

This is a gorgeous little costume for any Vampirina fans out there and I've actually struggled to get E out of it, she loves it that much! It retails at £24.99 and is available to buy from Debenhams.

(We received this item for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.) 

Crocodile Dinner - Review

Now that the children are getting a little older, we try to have family game night every week and our games collection is steadily growing. One of the things that we really need to work on, with C especially, is turn taking, sharing and coping with losing as he struggles with those quite a bit.

Sambro have released a game called Crocodile Dinner which is so simple but fun. The game comes with three crocodile masks in purple, blue and green and 13 foam fish (five green, five purple, five blue and one orange or 'gold').

The premise of the game is simple. Each player attaches the crocodile mask to their face, tightening accordingly using the straps on the side. You need to make sure that it's under your chin correctly so that the mask opens and closes as you open and close your mouth.

One player must count down from three, throw all the fish in the air and the "crocodiles" must try and pick up the fish of their masks' colour with their mouths, making sure not to use their hands. Once they've got all their coloured fish, the first player to get the gold fish wins!

C thought the game was really fun but he did struggle a little with how tight the mask had to be on his face in order for it to move. The fun factor for him was keeping his hands behind his back when trying to get the fish. He kept forgetting himself then bursting out laughing.

He liked that it wasn't too much of a turn taking game, everyone could play at the same time with made it even more competitive. It's a really great family game for children aged 5+.

(Disclaimer: We received this item for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)

UNTAMED Raptor by Fingerlings - Review

Last year, you might remember the craze around the Fingerlings monkeys. They were being advertised everywhere and parents were stressing to find one before Christmas as everywhere was selling out. Now, WowWee have developed a new style - Raptors! My five year old son C wasn't too interested in the regular Fingerlings but anything dinosaur related and he is on it like a shot. I have to admit, I was never too sure how Fingerlings worked and thought they didn't really do much but sit on your finger and look cute.

The UNTAMED Raptors come in four different characters with their own unique name and personality; Stealth (which we have received), Blaze, Fury and Razor. They sit on your finger and are fierce and unpredictable - not exactly like their cute Fingerlings cousins. They will either become a friend or a foe, all depending on how you interact with it. C is exactly the type to wind you up so I knew he'd try his best to anger it.

If you shake or poke him, he will roar, hiss or chomp at you. Alternatively, if you act kindly by petting his nose, he will hum, coo or purr. The UNTAMED Raptors have blinking eyes, snapping jaws and gripping claws and they react to touch, motion and sound and make over 40 different sounds - C especially like when he farts and will be in fits of giggles. Typical boy!

Upon opening, I did think that perhaps C would play with him for a short while and get bored but it does take a little while to get used to what actions or sounds to make around it and figure out what will make it react - it's all a learning curve! He would sit for ages just testing different things out. I love that it's so easy to play with independently.

They are made from sturdy plastic with a little on/off switch on the back so you don't need to worry about hearing it hiss or roar at silly o'clock, scaring the living daylights out of you. They fit perfectly onto his finger and although it's battery operated, it isn't too heavy. I am a sucker for anything interactive that responds to something that you do so I think these are perfect for little dinosaur fans!

The UNTAMED Raptors are suitable for children aged 5+ and retail at £16.99. You can find them at Smyths Toys, Argos and The Entertainer.

(We received this item for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.) 

Disney Ariel Styling Head - Review #StylingHeadMonth

If you follow me on social media or are a regular reader of my blog, you'll probably be aware of my three year old daughter E's love of Disney Princesses. She owns almost all of the dolls, an abundance of costumes and even her bedsheets are emblazoned with the princesses. Another one of her loves is roleplaying. 

When we were offered the chance to review the Ariel Styling Head from Flair, I just knew that there couldn't be a more perfect toy for her. She is forever brushing my hair as well as her own and her brothers!

The Ariel Styling Head is absolutely beautiful and with her gorgeous signature red hair she looks exactly like the movie version. The first thing that E commented on was it's length. There is so much to brush and she couldn't wait to get styling.

As well as the styling head, you also receive 14 hair accessories (including a hair brush, hair clips, hair ties and twirls) so you can really make her over with a fabulous new 'do. E has even been putting the clips in her own hair!

As E is only three years old and hasn't quite mastered the techniques when it comes to hairdressing, she tended to focus more on brushing and putting the clips in, something which didn't take her very long to learn at all. She was chuffed that she could do it by herself. She did however ask me to do ponytails and plaits as she finds those difficult - all will come with time!

I have to comment on the quality of the doll. I was really impressed by the volume of her hair. Sometimes you can buy styling heads where the hair is quite thin but there is a lot to work with when it comes to the Ariel one. I also love the attention to detail with regards to her crown, colourful shell bra and the shell and star necklace. They are just little bonuses to reinforce the fact that she is Princess Ariel and not just any other regular styling head.

The Ariel Styling Head retails at £18.99 and is perfect for children aged around 3-6 years.  

On 13th April, UK Mums TV will be hosting a #StylingHeadMonth Twitter frenzy from 1-2pm. Be sure to join in to hear more about the styling heads that are on the market and for the chance to win some prizes!

(We received this item for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.) 

PJ Masks are back!: Our Series 2 Viewing Party

We are so excited that brand new episodes of PJ Masks will be back on our screens starting Wednesday 28th March on Disney Jr. PJ Masks is probably my children's number 1 TV show and as a parent, I love it too! So many children's shows can get annoying but PJ Masks isn't one of them - I'd happily watch along!

We were lucky enough to get the chance to watch the first two episodes of the new series before it's shown on television and what better way to do it than by setting up a viewing party? We were sent everything needed to have a fun-filled PJ Masks day which just added to the children's excitement.

We received a huge box of character goodies; an inflatable chair, glow in the dark puzzle, art case, stamp and sticker playset, Catboy bedding set (RRP £29.99), two character masks, a blind bag (RRP £3.99 - we got Romeo!) and lots of partyware. 

The kids were so excited to get playing and the Ravensburger Glow in the Dark Puzzle (RRP £7.99) was a huge hit. They both loved seeing the bad guys as well as their beloved PJ Masks. 

The Art Case (RRP £7.99) and Stamp and Sticker Play Set (RRP £4.99 from B&M and Sainsburys) kept both C and E entertained for ages! I definitely think we will be using these a lot over the Easter holidays. The Art Case reminds me of the types that I had as a child; filled with crayons, markers, paints, scissors, pencils - the lot! E especially loved using the little stampers in the Stamp and Sticker Set and branding the PJ Masks symbols everywhere. Stickers are always a hit in this house too!

We had both children fighting over the awesome Inflatable Chair (£9.99) and I advise you to use a pump for this. I blew it up myself and felt like I was gonna pass out. Must buy a pump!

I got the partyware (RRP £29.99) all set up and ready to watch the brand new episodes and the children donned their super cool Gekko and Owlette masks (RRP £9.99 each) in preparation. 

The first two episodes are called Moonfizzle Balls, where Catboy works a bit too fast to kick Luna Girl's moonfizzle balls and Gekko and Owlette can't keep up, and Soccer Ninjalinos, where Owlette learns that being part of the team means coaching Catboy and Gekko to defeat Night Ninja who has trained his Ninjalinos in kung-fu football! Judging by these two episodes, series 2 is set to be just as much fun as series 1. C and E couldn't take their eyes off the screen and even asked to watch a second time! It's safe to say that they cannot wait to see the rest of the episodes.

PJ Masks is back on Disney Junior on Wednesday 28th March at 4.30pm then every Wednesday after that at 4.45pm.

(We received this bundle in exchange for this post.)

Fun Pool Toy Ideas for Your Kids This Summer

Toys and play time are integral to the physical, emotional, cognitive and social development of children. In fact, the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (Article 31) considers playtime as the natural right of every child in the world. And yet, free playtime for children has been gradually shrinking over the past several decades as TV, computers have heightened pace of life and
consume the majority of our children’s time.

As another summer draws closer, perhaps it’s a good idea for parents to spend some time researching suitable toys for their children. For those with either a swimming pool in their home or access to a nearby public pool, or even those who are planning on going to a resort, it is imperative that the right toys are provided for their children so they can spend their day with productive activity
instead of just splashing aimlessly around the pool. Check out our list below of some great recommendations of water toys for kids this summer.

Water Gun
Water guns need no introduction. They have been perennial favourites of children for a long time. However, many parents are unaware of the benefits that the toy possesses. Playing with water guns socially helps regulate emotion, as well as heightening cognitive functions, motor skills and spatial awareness. Water guns also introduce the concept of competition to young children.

Toypedos and similar imitation products are dive toys that are shot from a launcher. These brightly coloured and hydrodynamically designed toys can be aimed to the bottom of the pool or the surface of the water, where it will glide for a considerable distance. The toypedo is great for racing games for children who can swim comfortably to retrieve the missiles, which will improve their
coordination, balance and motor skills. Don’t worry about leaving the younger kids feeling left out - the sight of the toypedo cruising underwater is very riveting on its own.

Dive Rings and Dive Sticks
Dive rings are small, multi-coloured plastic rings that sink when thrown in water, while dive sticks are weighted plastic rods that will remain vertical once they reach the pool floor. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? However, they are actually loads of fun for children trying to improve their swimming ability. Simply throw the rings and sticks into the pool, and let the kids dive in to retrieve them. They are quite soft, so the risk of accidental injury is very rare.

Toy Swimming Goggle and Scuba Gear
Kids love throwing on a pair of goggles or snorkels and diving straight into the water. They can literally spend an entire day snorkelling around the pool. This is great for improving their fitness levels and a great way of sneaking in a bit of healthy cardio activity! Just keep an eye to make sure they don’t get exhausted or sunburnt – and never leave them unattended.

Waterproof Card and Board Games
Sometimes, it’s great to have an alternative form of play time for the kids. Board and card games will allow to use different forms of cognitive stimuli that will help with their numeracy and literacy skills. Get the waterproof versions, so they can play comfortably anywhere around the pool – even on an inflatable lounger!

(This is a sponsored post.)

Real Life with Two Children Under Six

Just as my eldest child (C, now 5 years old) turned one, I began to get broody again. There is a ten year age gap between myself and my sister and I knew that I wanted my own children to be close in age. I had imagined them playing together, forming a wonderful bond and eventually having each other's backs as they moved into their teenage years.

We have great times, there's no doubt about that. It is so clear that they love each other to bits and I know they will defend each other to the death when they are teens. They love to play nicely together on occasion, especially when it comes to their mutual love of superheroes. But now? It can be hard. One thing I didn't know much about as I was effectively an only child until the age of 10, were the sibling fights. Oh, the sibling fights! If they can find something to argue over, no matter how silly or trivial, they will argue over it. Arguing sometimes isn't enough.We will even have hitting and hair pulling and at these moments, I do become a bit of a shouty mum because I am not going to allow them to get away with that kind of behaviour. I have been known to leave a room and count to five before I explode.

They bounce off each other a lot too so if C is in his, what I like to call, "his funny half hour" where he just giggles and laughs about everything, taking nothing seriously, E will be right there adding fuel to the fire and thus igniting my inner rage. Usually I can let this go but if it happens over homework time, no way. At the ages of five and three, I am definitely well aware that they do push boundaries and see what they can get away with. It helps to have mum friends to message and have a little rant to (hi, Jenna!) because they get it and won't judge.

They both absolutely hate food shopping but guess what? That's life and we have to do it. They will mope and moan and groan the whole way around the shop, attempt to run off (more E than C) so Chris and I have actually resorted to pep talks before we even go into the shop which usually includes a bribe of a chocolate bar if they behave themselves. They love to talk about things like poop, farts, bogies and bums at the top of their voices in public and I swear it has to be just so they can embarrass us!

Getting two children dressed in the morning is a hard slog. E will put one sock on and decide it's funny to run away from me so I can't put the rest of her clothes on. C will then think what she's doing is hilarious and do exactly the same thing. And why does it always happen when we're in a hurry to be somewhere? Don't even get me started on the refusal to eat dinner that they specifically ask for. This is one thing that really irritates Chris. I often joke to him that turning 30 is just around the corner and FUE hair transplantation can be a option for the hair that he's losing due to the kids being stressful! Most days after we've put the kids to bed, we just need to relax on the sofa for half an hour before we even attempt to do anything else just so we can recharge a bit. I'm not making parenthood sound very good, am I? I don't think my temperament helps much as I can be a little uptight, find things harder and take things more seriously than they have to be. It's something that I have to work on.

It's not all tough though. There is nothing better than getting some family time like baking together, going to the cinema, being outdoors or having movie or game night. The children are so caring and loving and I couldn't even tell you the amount of hugs and kisses we get and we are constantly being told they love us. I do get a lot of "mum-guilt" over being a shouty mum at times but things like this make me feel a little better about it all. I wouldn't change it for the world.

(This is a sponsored post.)

Ravensburger The Gruffalo Shaped Floor Puzzle - Review

"A mouse took a stroll through the deep, dark wood"... I'm sure everyone is familiar with the classic Julia Donaldson book 'The Gruffalo', even if you aren't a parent! It's been one of my children's favourite books since they were babies, followed by The Gruffalo's Child, they love watching the animated shorts and even have a Gruffalo costume. You can imagine their excitement to see that Ravensburger had sent them a Gruffalo puzzle to try out.

The puzzle itself has 24 pieces and is perfect for children aged 3+. My children are 3 and 5 so they were able to do it together with minimal help from me. The pieces are about the size of my palm so great for my daughter at 3 who is just starting out with puzzles but not too easy that my 5 year old got bored.

In true Ravensburger style, the finish of the pieces is fantastic and it's well-made. The fact that the finished article is shaped like the Gruffalo rather than a traditional rectangular puzzle just added to the fun. Both children loved seeing their favourite character come to life with the more pieces that they put together and liked the addition of other characters from the book such as snake, mouse, fox and owl.

My five year old son is a fantastic reader so one of the little details that he specifically liked were the lines from the book on the colourful border around the Gruffalo. He loved being able to read it in full when the puzzle was complete.

The Gruffalo Shaped Floor Puzzle is so much fun, it's bright, colourful and perfect for any little Gruffalo fans - the finished image is like it's been plucked straight out of the book! It retails at £9.99 from all good retailers

(We received this item for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)
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