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Friday, 17 April 2015

Animated films to help children cope with bereavement from Co-Operative Funeralcare

It's been seven years since we lost my dear old Nan. It was the first time that my younger children had to deal with bereavement. They adored their Great Nan and her death was very hard on them. I remember telling them when they got back from school on the day she died. We sat together on the stairs and sobbed. Losing a loved one is hard, and although she was 98 years old and in poor health, her death hit them hard.

We decided that all the great grandchildren would attend her funeral, giving them a chance to say good-bye and celebrate her life together. At the service, my daughter Megan read a beautiful poem in front of the congregation and her words, punctuated with sobs, touched everyone deeply. It was so moving. Afterwards we had a family party where we remembered our favourite stories about Nan, laughing and crying in equal measure. The process of being involved in the funeral helped the children deal with the grieving process and as a family we worked through all the emotions of losing a loved one. We all still miss my Nan and fondly remember all the wonderful things about her.

bereavement, death


The Co-operative Funeralcare has launched a series of short animated films aimed at helping bereaved children to cope with the loss of a loved one. Teaming up with the charity Child Bereavement, Trauma and Emotional Wellbeing Service (CHUMS), they are offering the films as a free resource to local schools, medical professionals, counsellors, community groups and bereaved families.

The DVDs including “Our Year Since Dad Died” and  "Our Year Since Grandma Died", are animated stories to help children understand their grief, told in a video diary format, with the main character Gemma talking through her feelings following a loved one's death. It includes various aspects of the family’s grief, including significant events such as the funeral, Mother's Day and birthdays. It offers practical guidelines on how to overcome everyday hurdles.

Cooperative funeralcare, bereavement


It also comes with resources such as guidance notes and downloadable lesson plan and Powerpoint presentation suitable for key stages 2 – 4.  Grief can be overwhelming, painful, confusing and lonely. The aim of these DVDs is to support bereaved children and let them see they are not alone and that there is no right or wrong way to grieve and there is no fixed time scale for individuals to express their grief. The films can make a difference to a child through their loss and help with their long term emotional well being.

The free DVDs are available from your local Co-Operative Funeralcare. 

To view a short preview of the DVDs and find out more visit: 

flowers


Thursday, 16 April 2015

Free Range Holidays at Bluestone National Park Resort

We were delighted to be invited to Bluestone National Park Resort during the Easter holidays for a short break, staying in a 4 bedroomed Grassholm Lodge. After a four hour drive we arrived at Bluestone, went through the efficient drive through reception and were given a map and directions to our lodge in the Preseli View area of the resort. We were able to drive up to our lodge, unload our luggage and then return the car to the car park for the duration of our stay. This keeps Bluestone safe and free from traffic. Guests can hire bikes or golf buggies to get around, but we opted to stay on foot for our stay.

The accommodation was quite honestly one of the best holiday homes I have ever stayed in. It was well equipped, spotlessly clean, spacious, well furnished and beautifully designed with high ceilings with wooden beams, open plan rooms and a balcony at the top of the stairs looking down into the living area below.  With one master bedroom with en suite bathroom, two upstairs twin bedrooms with a family bathroom and one ground floor twin room with a wet room, the property is suitable for up to eight guests.  The living area had comfy seating, a big TV and DVD player and a patio door leading to an outdoor patio area with seating.  The kitchen was big and really well equipped with just about everything you need for a self-catered holiday including a microwave, dishwasher, an oven, a fridge and freezer, cookware and crockery. A wooden dining table comfortably seated up to eight for family meals.  For younger guests, the lodge came equipped with stair gates, a travel cot and a high chair. There is also a safe in the wardrobe of the master bedroom. All linen and towels are included and there is even a pack in the kitchen consisting of a small bottle of washing up liquid, dishwasher tablets, sponge, cloth, extra bin bags and a tea towel. Recycling is encouraged and the kitchen bin is divided up for non-recyclable and recyclable waste.

Bluestone, holiday, Wales


The resort is built around the central picturesque village area where there is a convenience store, a baker's, a pub and some restaurants. There is also a fantastic Tree House play area for the kids to enjoy. A marquee in the village square is the venue for some kids' entertainment and Freddy was very pleased to get a balloon sword from one of the activity's team during the free daily kids' hour.

The Blue Lagoon swimming pool proved a huge hit. Guests can enter for free throughout their stay and get 2 hours exclusive access from 9 am, after that the public can pay to enter. It has a lazy river, hot tubs, wave machine, slides, kids' area, jets and flumes. There is also a cafe area where spectators can sit and watch. Freddy enjoyed splashing around in the pool, using his new found water confidence gained from doing swimming lessons. I sat in the cafe with a coffee and watched him, his sister and his daddy play in the water.

The Adventure Centre has some amazing free indoor activities such as mini-golf, a ball pool, soft play, a bouncy castle, LEGO and a huge wooden play area with slides. It is also home to the Big Four: the Swing, the Drop, the Sky Trail and the Wall. For just £7 each or £20 for all four, kids over 6 can take part in these exciting, fully supervised indoor activities. Unfortunately, Freddy was a bit too young and the girls were a bit too reserved to give them a go.  There are also arcade games in the Adventure Centre to keep kids occupied. It is an excellent all weather facility.

Upstairs is the Wildwood Cafe, which is an enchanted, woodland themed restaurant set around a 20 ft tree. Seating is in a giant tree house, a forester's cottage, a nest pod and a squirrel's drey.  We found a seat in the treehouse and enjoyed a meal of a veggie burger and chips, which was very nice. Freddy enjoyed doing an activity sheet while he waited for his meal of pizza and chips.  The Wildwood Cafe is the venue for the Neverwood Pirate Dinner Show, where families can experience challenges, games, shanties and stories while enjoying a meal.

Bluestone also boasts its own Well Spa Retreat for relaxation with seven unique thermal facilities and a host of treatments available.  The village pub has free entertainment in the evenings such as a pub quiz or live music.

Bluestone, holiday, resort, Wales


The resort is situated in 500 acres of countryside in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. This equates to beautiful scenic views and wonderful walks. We took a nature walk from the lake, through the forest following the stream down to the steep ravine at the other end of the resort. We then climbed the board walk up the ravine and back into the resort. It was absolutely lovely.

I was very impressed with the signs that marked out the nature walk along with facts about the flora and fauna of the area. It added an extra dimension to the walk learning about the trees and flowers.

Freddy enjoyed playing Pooh Sticks on the little bridges with fallen branches, and the kids climbed trees and played in dens.

In the resort stands the old abandoned ruin of Newton North Church. It is now a haven to wildlife and was really interesting to learn about. There is a brilliant living Willow sculpture of a giant caterpillar that Freddy absolutely loved, he ran through it again and again. At Bluestone you are never told to 'Keep Off the Grass', instead you are encouraged to run on it, play on it and roll down the hills!  It's a wonderful ethos.

Bluestone, wales, forests, family


As well as the free activities and entertainment, Bluestone offers hundreds of paid for activities for families to enjoy and has an impressive programme of activities, spa treatments, dining options and pre-school sessions. The activities include everything from kayaking on the lake to taking on the Sky Wires in the Steep Ravine. Many are all -weather activities so rain won't stop play!

Whether you are a thrill seeker or looking to relax, there are loads of suitable activities available. There are activities for children that they can do with or without parental supervision. So if you want some grown-up time, you can send the kids off for an unaccompanied adventure or pop the little ones into the creche.

With the hundreds of paid for activities, plus the use of the Blue Lagoon and Adventure Centre as well as the wonderful forest walks, a stay at Bluestone can be as action packed as you want it be.
For us we had quite a relaxing time, taking in the scenery, enjoying family evenings in the lodge, going for walks and making the most of the pool and the Adventure Centre. We had a wonderful time in a beautiful part of the world.

To find out more about Bluestone National Park Resort visit www.bluestonewales.com and start planning your own luxury free range break!




Wednesday, 15 April 2015

LG Kizon Review - keeping kids safe with a wearable tracking and communication device

The LG KizON is a brand new wearable technology for kids, designed exclusively for pre-school and primary school children that gives parents a simple, safe and convenient way to communicate with them. The LG KizON has been designed specifically for children to wear on their wrists to be used as a direct communication device with a primary designated phone number. Kids can instantly get in contact without the need to remember telephone numbers, or carry a phone. In addition, parents can set the KizON to send updates on the wearer's location throughout the day, and all the information is delivered to a dedicated smartphone app.  The LG KizON brings peace of of mind by delivering real-time tracking information and by giving children the ability to securely communicate with parents via the press of a button.

With its GPS capability, durable kid-friendly design and functionality and long lasting battery life, the LG KizON offers a secure way of tracking a child’s location, and provides an effective way to communicate, giving parents peace of mind and giving children greater freedom and independence while they play.

LG KizON


Initial Thoughts

As a parent to a five year boy, his safety and security is at the forefront of my mind. I am, by nature, a worrier and I try to keep an eye on his whereabouts at all times. I am aware that this may restrict his ability to explore his environment and play freely.  We love going on family days out and he enjoys going into soft play areas or playing in parks. He is such a sociable lad, always striking up conversations with other kids and joining in games. With me constantly trailing him, I know I am restricting his freedom. It would be better for me to watch him from a distance, ensuring his safety without cramping his style!

The LG KizON offers a means to monitor my child's whereabouts and maintain a way of directly communicating with him when out and about. This would clearly provide me with peace of mind and allow him the chance of spreading his wings. Any unusual movements would be spotted instantly to avoid any incidents of wandering off, and if he became fractious, a quick press of the button would instantly phone my mobile.


How We Got On

The set up process for the LG KizON is quick and easy, with step by step instructions for downloading the app onto my smartphone and setting up designated numbers. The LG KizON is switched on my holding down the call button on the handset. The app can then send a request to the device, connecting the parent's phone to the child's KizON. This enables the tracking and allows calls to be made between the parent and child.

LG KizON set-up


We went away to Wales for an Easter break, which gave us an ideal opportunity to test out the LG KizON in a real life situation.  Freddy was really excited to wear the device on his wrist. Having previously downloaded the app onto mine and Ian's phones, we were connected as the primary and secondary contacts. The app also showed us Freddy's location on a map that appeared on the screen. We gave him a little lesson in how he could call us and we practiced phoning him so he could answer the call. It really is straightforward. The device is adjustable and was comfortable for Freddy to wear, and the design is really kid friendly (the blue version has little trucks and cars on it).

LG KizON, kids' tracking device


Freddy went into an outdoor play area at the resort we were staying at and we sat on a bench while he played. It was so reassuring to be able to phone him to keep tabs on what he was up to and tell him when it was time to leave. Freddy was able to answer by pressing the button on the front of the device. If the child fails to answer after ten seconds, the call automatically connects so you can listen through the microphone. Freddy was also able to ring us if he needed to. For me, this is the greatest feature of the LG KizON. Being in contact with your child is very comforting and gave me the confidence to allow him a little bit more freedom without constantly following him around. For me, the LG KizON is not a replacement for my parental vigilance, but it is a great tool, which helps me relax a little and lets Freddy gain a bit more independence.

The tracking worked best when both devices, the KizON and my phone, had a good signal. Unfortunately in some parts of Wales the network is not very good, which meant that it sometimes struggled to find the exact location. However, when back in our hometown the tracking is accurate to an individual address. As it uses GPS technology to track the device, it will understandably work best in places with a good network.

LG KizON, smartphone, app


The tracking would be really useful for my 12 year old who goes from school to friends' houses and then off into town independently. Being able to know where she is would be very useful as her mobile is generally turned off and in the bottom of her school bag. If LG ever launch a teen tracker, I will definitely be in the market for one! A similar system for the elderly would also be very useful.

For 5 year old Freddy, he will never be too far away from me to really need to track him during a normal day. But for holidays and days out this is an excellent product, and if he ever did wander off, it would be an absolute godsend to be able to track his whereabouts. As a precautionary measure, this is invaluable.

I absolutely loved being able to be in phone contact with Freddy. The device is really easy to use and a friendly voice lets the child know that they are making a call and when the call is ended. When receiving a call there is a really cute ringtone and a flashing light to alert the child.  Wearing the KizON on his wrist meant Freddy couldn't drop it, put it down or lose it. It is always on his person without him having to worry about it. Freddy felt very grown up having his own 'mobile phone' on his wrist.

As it has a simple pre-configured one button to dial function, he doesn't need to remember a phone number or have a handwritten copy of my phone number tucked in his back pocket. He knows that with a touch of a button he can contact me. This will be really useful for birthday parties or play dates.

LG KizON


The battery is good for 36 hours and if it starts running low, an alert is sent to the parent's phone, giving the adult the responsibility to keep it fully charged. The KizON contains a SIM card with its own phone number and you can add credit for making the calls. Only designated numbers can make calls to the phone making it very secure.

The app interface is really good. You can set it up to notify you of battery life, to tell you when the device is on or off and to set location reminders at set times. You can control the KizON's power and volume, allow up to four contacts and enable auto-connect directly from your phone. You can also make a search and call through the app.  The map can be viewed using a traditional road map, or using street view. It is all very user friendly and intuitive.

My only slight criticism of the functionality of the device is that the button you use to make calls is also the button that needs to be held down to turn the device off. So I have inadvertently phoned myself up a few times while switching it off. However, a voice does say 'good-bye' once the button has been held in for 8 seconds so if you are patient it isn't really a problem. It's just me being too hasty!

Both Ian and I were really impressed with the LG KizON. It gave us that bit of extra security knowing we could contact Freddy at any time and that he could phone me if he ever got in any trouble or felt frightened. Although we still won't let him go off completely on his own, this ability to contact him does make it easier to let him go into parks or play areas independently. The tracking is a very reassuring back up to have in the event that we ever lost track of our son. I hope it is something we won't need to use, but it is good to know that we could find him if we ever needed to.

The LG KizON will be launching in the UK soon.



“I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network ResearchPanel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity”.


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Research reveals parents' confusion over sugar in kids' diets

New research conducted by Fruit Heroes, the newly launched lunchbox snack brand in the UK, shows that the recent focus on the health implications of too much sugar has left some parents so confused that they don’t know what they should be feeding their children to give them the healthiest diet. Almost half of the parents surveyed say the UK's dietary guidelines for children are unclear and confusing.

Three quarters of parents say they now find it difficult working out what is and isn’t healthy for their children and a huge 84% of parents are concerned about their child’s diet

Sugar is now seen as the dietary public enemy number one when it comes to the fight against obesity and disease, but the ever changing advice and guidelines have left parents so confused that many now don’t even know if they should be giving their children fruit to eat at all.

The study saw one in seven parents say they didn’t think fruit was healthy or were unsure if it was or not, and almost 40% were unsure of which are good sugars and which are bad sugars. On the whole, three quarters of parents generally don’t know what they should be giving their kids as part of a healthy diet.

A quarter of parents surveyed by Fruit Heroes say they are confused by front of pack nutritional labels like the traffic lights and general daily allowance percentages, while a third did not know that five a day means five pieces of fruit or vegetables.Worryingly, some parents thought that a packet of crisps counted towards one of their child’s 5-a-day.

My family are all vegetarians, meaning that most of our nutrients come from plant based foods. Therefore fruit plays a big part in my children's diet. Freddy loves grapes, apples, oranges, melon - you name it - he loves it! I am happy for him to eat fruit and snacks made using fruit, but try to avoid too much refined sugar in his diet on a day to day basis.  Fruits contain so many nutrients, so in their whole form are a great way of getting vitamins and fibre into children. My rule of thumb is that if food is naturally plant based, then it's got to be good.

Fruit Heroes are made using all natural ingredients such as dates, fruits and juice and contain no added sugar or artificial additives. They are naturally high in fibre and are a healthy lunchbox treat or on-the-go snack. Each 20g Fruit Hero bar also counts as one of a child’s “five a day”, proving that treats can be incorporated into a healthy balanced diet. They are a great alternative to sweets and unhealthy snacks.

fruit snack

             

Facebook : FruitHeroesUK 

Twitter: @fruitheroesUK

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Vanish Gold for Whites Bed Linen Challenge

There is something so special about staying in a posh hotel, sleeping in a comfy bed covered with pure white, crisp bed linen.  The Vanish Bloggers Club sent us a White Company Single Row Cord Bed Linen set in pure white, so we could take the challenge of keeping it looking good using Vanish Gold for Whites.  The smooth and crisp 200 thread count Egyptian cotton percale finish demands being kept in pristine condition!


Vanish, whites, laundry


Adding Vanish Gold for Whites to the laundry can make whites up to three shades whiter, which helps maintain the crisp, cool bed linen in top notch condition. No one wants dingy, greying bed linen!

       Vanish, laundry


I tried the Vanish Gold for Whites in my own bed linen challenge using bed sheets from the children's beds.  Washing one with Vanish Gold for Whites on four occasions made a significant difference to the whiteness of the sheet. The other one, which had been previously washed without Vanish and put away in the cupboard, looks dingy by comparison. I am impressed with how it really does raise the laundry's whiteness just by adding it into the drawer of your washing machine.
       
white washing, bed linen


I have enjoyed being part of the Vanish Bloggers' Club, testing out the product for myself. I have become a convert to using Vanish after seeing the results. Kezia's school shirts and our bed linen will definitely be all the better for it!

Take a look at my previous challenge, which gives more details of how to use the Vanish Gold in your laundry: Making whites three shades whiter.

Visit the Vanish website at: www.vanish.co.uk.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Family Get Togethers are #BetterwithCake

Cake is a food that is synonymous with celebration. Any event is instantly elevated to party status with the addition of a good cake or two. 

I remember going for Sunday tea at my grandparents' house every weekend as a child and waiting eagerly for my Nan's cake tray to be brought to the table - as soon as we had finished our boiled ham sandwiches, our cucumber in vinegar and our boiled eggs. As the cakes arrived, I would eye up the array of tasty treats, picking out which of the offerings I would choose. If there were Fondant Fancies on offer I would be over the moon! The sweet morsels just seemed so fancy - totally living up to their name! I loved the colourful fondant icing, that little creamy bit on top and the soft sponge. They really are one of the iconic, nostalgia inducing foods from my childhood in the 70's.

Fast forward forty years and cake still has that ability to make any family get together a celebration. Receiving a cake delivery from Mr Kipling this Easter was perfectly timed as my three eldest kids were all coming home for a bank holiday weekend visit. Having all five of my children together is quite honestly my favourite thing in the world.  The noise, the laughter, the chaos, the fun...add some yummy cakes to that equation and this get together was guaranteed to be exceedingly good!


#betterwithcake, cake


At those times when you are pushed for time or don't want to be stuck in the kitchen baking, shop bought cakes can be a bit of a godsend. Some days I just want convenience over feeling like I'm in an episode of the Great British Bake Off. Don;t get me wrong, I love baking and the feeling of pride that comes with creating something gorgeous and tasty is pretty powerful. But I can't always harness my inner Mary Berry, so I'm glad to have an alternative for when my domestic goddess persona goes AWOL.

Classics like Viennese Whirls, French Fancies and Bakewell Tarts go down well with the family. Cakes look so pretty with their fancy shapes and colourful hues. Whipping them out of the store cupboard and popping them on a pretty plate creates an instant party in seconds.  Soon, everyone is happily tucking in to tea and cake, chatting and laughing (and picking the cherry off of their Bakewell Tarts! Does everyone do this - or just us?) 

Freddy loves cake and I love watching him select which one he wants with wide eyes and licked lips. The anticipation and the look of concentration as he chooses between them is precious. He has been known to flutter his eyelashes and cheekily ask "Can I have two, please?" when he struggles to pinpoint his decision down to just one cake. Watching him reminds me of six year old me, eyeing up my Nan's cake tray forty years ago.

Family get togethers are always #betterwithcake!

family, cake, Mr Kipling


This post is an entry for #betterwithcake Linky Challenge (http://www.britmums.com/2015/03/the-easter-school-holidays-are-betterwithcake/), sponsored by Mr Kipling. Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/mrkiplingcakes

Mr Kipling

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Disney on Ice - Magical Ice Festival

We love Disney.
We love ice skating.
We LOVE Disney on Ice!

***

The latest show from Disney on Ice is the wonderful Magical Ice Festival.  Featuring favourite characters from The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Tangled and Frozen, it is the perfect performance for little princes and princesses to enjoy.  We went to watch the show at the Genting Arena in Birmingham.

Ariel, Rapunzel, Belle, Anna and Elsa take to the ice as their stories are beautifully brought to life. With all the best songs, amazing costumes and fab special effects, each of the princess stories are told, reliving some of the most magical Disney moments, introduced by Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald. 

The highlight of the show, especially for the hundreds of little girls dressed up as Anna and Elsa, was most definitely seeing the Frozen segment of the show. Royal sisters Anna and Elsa, along with Olaf the snowmen, ice-man Kristoff and Sven the reindeer, are included as part of the UK line-up of Disney on Ice for the first time.

The ice skaters playing Anna and Elsa are incredible, putting on emotionally moving, dramatic and breathtakingly impressive performances. All the little mini Anna and Elsa clones in the audience went absolutely crazy when Olaf appeared and hearing them all blast out the chorus of 'Let It Go' gave me goosebumps!

We absolutely loved it.  The show is slick, colourful and so moving for Disney fans young and old. The ice dancing is superb - our favourite stars being Gaston and Elsa who left us breathless. It is the perfect treat for families who love all things Disney!

The show is still touring, playing in Dublin, Belfast, London, Cardiff, Nottingham and Leeds in various arenas up to May 17th.

Find out more at the Disney website: www.disney.co.uk/disney-on-ice/magical-ice-festival.

Disney, ice skating, Frozen


We received four press tickets to see the show.

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