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Friday, 30 January 2015

Help! I'm a Granny and Galaxy Quick Reads - Book Reviews

Help! I'm a Granny

Two years ago, I made the generation leap and became a granny to my adorable little grandson Ted,  my eldest son Joe's little boy.  Becoming a granny was in equal measure quite a shock (I was only 43 and it seemed like only yesterday that Joe was being peeled off of my legs by his infant school teacher because he didn't want to leave my side) and an absolute joy!  Seeing my own little boy (OK 26 isn't that little, but he'll always be my baby) becoming a father and making a life of his own in the big wide world, really puts the passing of time into perspective.  Ted's arrival into our family came when my own youngest child Freddy was only 3 years old, so I was juggling being a mum to my own little one with becoming a granny.  So I was never going to be the old school Nana, sat in her rocking chair knitting baby blankets for my grandbabies.  Instead, the generation gap blurred and we all muck in together in our big, crazy and exceptionally wonderful extended family that is filled with love and laughter!

Finding out that you are going to be a grandparent and making that mental transition into your new role can seem a bit daunting at times. Knowing how best to be supportive and offer advice without interfering can see you walking a fine line at times.  Defining your role, especially when there is another Nana on the scene, who in our case lives in the same town as my son, his fiance and Ted, who gets to see them much more than I do as I live 2 hours away, can take some soul searching. Wanting to be more involved is difficult when distance is part of the equation. But I know that the part I am playing in my grandson's life is every bit as valuable, and the relationship I have with Ted is becoming more and more rewarding as he gets older.  Having Ted and Freddy close in age gives me a special bond with my future daughter-in-law, as we can relate to being mummies together.

For anyone else going through the same experience and becoming a first time granny, the book Help! I'm a Granny may prove an invaluable companion.  Written by newspaper columist and agony aunt Flic Everett, it is a comprehensive guide to becoming and being a gran, written in a friendly, light hearted and informal way.  It's like sharing your worries, your guilt and your jealousy with a friend. The real life stories make it feel very personal.

grandparenting, book review


It is laid out in easy to navigate sections with practical lists, true stories, quizzes and instructions. Some of the chapters did seem a little like teaching your granny to suck eggs, but I am still a mum to a little one so haven't forgotten how to feed a baby, tackle a tantrum or pack a changing bag.  But if it has been years since you were a hands on mummy, the bitesize advice may prove invaluable.  There is also a dummy's guide to technology that own my mum would find really useful, explaining the pros and cons of social media and apps for staying in touch.

The quizzes are quite fun.  It turns out I'm a 'Cool Gran' and a 'Rebel Granny'...I'll totally take that!

help I'm a granny


Help! I'm a Granny would make a great gift for any soon to be grandparents or would make a useful, easy reading handbook for yourself when you find yourself about to be a gran. It makes you feel like you are not alone and gives you some different perspectives on the emotions, responsibilities and joys of being a granny!

Hardback £9.99
Publication date: February 19th 2015


Galaxy Quick Reads

If you enjoy reading but are struggling to find the time to get stuck into a novel, then check out the new Galaxy Quick Reads.  Written by best selling authors, they are like their real books, but shorter. They are also excellent introductions into reading, for adults who find the prospect of tackling a full length book intimidating.

The titles are:

Dead Man Talking - Roddy Doyle
Paris for Two One - Jojo Moyes
Red for Revenge -Fanny Blake
Pictures or it Didn't Happen - Sophie Hannah
Out Of The Dark - Adéle Geras

Street Can Bob - James Bowen

reading, Galaxy


Galaxy Quick Reads are bite-sized books written by best-selling authors which cost only £1. They are available from bookshops, supermarkets and online or can be borrowed from libraries across the country. They are also available as eBooks across all major eBook platforms. For more information visit www.quickreads.org.uk. 

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Bath Time Fun for Little Ones with the Bathtime Buddies Alphabet Set

A Bathtime Poem

The bath is not just for cleaning and washing,
It's a place for fun and splishing and sploshing!
A place for imagination and play.
A place to unwind at the end of the day.

When little Freddy jumps himself in,
Submerging himself right up to this chin,
Immersed in a sea of bubbly bubbles
Full of magical fun, free from all troubles.
One of the things he really enjoys
Is having some fun and playing with toys.

My little schoolboy is quite discerning,
Enjoying mixing play with learning,
So his favourite toy to get,
Is his Bathtime Buddies Alphabet Set!


                              


Learning how to read and spell,
Is something he is doing well,
His ability just keeps getting better,
The more he plays with the colourful letters.
Making words, spelling names,
Learning while he plays his games!

They stick to the side of the bath,
(And also to him, which makes him laugh!)
The 65 letters can also float,
Like a fleet of alphabetical boats.

And when bathtime is over for another day,
The letters are easy to pack away.
Scoop them up - water and all
Then drain with the lid...this is so cool!
A clean boy and tidy bath post play,
Is thanks to the experts at H & A!

bath, bath toys, letters


Overview: The Bathtime Buddies Alphabet Set consists of 65 lowercase foam letters that float in water and can stick to tiles and onto the bath tub. They come in a storage tub with a holed lid for drainage.

They are fun, educational and there are plenty of repeated letters to make words with.  They float and stick well and are a great value bath toy for little ones to enjoy!

Suitable for ages 3+. Available in Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco & Wilko  RRP £3.30

bath toys, bathtime, h and a


We were sent an H and A Bathtime Buddies Alphabet Set for the purpose of this review in order to apply to become a part of the H and A Bathtime Fun Squad.

Shake Up your Wake Up with Nestle Cereals #BreakfastWeek

Nestle are celebrating #BreakfastWeek by inviting us all to shake up our wake up and make breakfast times more fun.  They want us to get creative with the kids and mix and match our cereals to make a yummy concoction to start the day.  Not only will this encourage kids to get involved with preparing their breakfast, it will ensure they enjoy a nutritious start to their morning.

Funnily enough, breakfast cereal concoctions have been a 'thing' here Inside the Wendy House for as long as I can remember.  Why have one type of cereal when you can have two or even three?  There is so much choice and with every green bannered box of Nestle breakfast cereals, you know you are getting wholegrain goodness and at least five vitamins and minerals.  You really can't go wrong.

Freddy's favourite, which he has every morning is a Cheerio and Shreddies combo with cold, almond milk.

So, here I give to you Freddy's Nestle Cheerio and Shreddies combo:

Freddio's Shreddio's!

Nestle cereals


Kezia went for a mix of Curiously Cinnamon and Cookie Crisp, served with a splash of cold almond milk (or eaten dry from a bowl as a tasty brekkie on her way to school along with a drinkable yogurt for a hearty breakfast on the go!)

Kezia called her combo:  Sugar and Spice.

Nestle, cookie crisp

Chickpea Scotch Egg Recipe #vegetarian

I have been challenged by British Lion Eggs to come up with a family recipe using eggs as the main ingredient. As a vegetarian, eggs play an important role in my family's diet, being a good source of protein, vitamin D and iron.  I love how versatile they are and that they can be added to so many recipes in so many different ways

This is a recipe for vegetarian Scotch Eggs using a chickpea falafel style mix to cover hard boiled eggs, before coating them in golden breadcrumbs and oven baking.  I usually use a vegan sausage mix to make Scotch Eggs, but this recipe creates a much lighter Scotch Egg with a pleasant hint of warming spices.  Oven baking makes them less greasy than their deep fried counterparts, and keeps the calorie count down.  They are perfect served hot as part of a meal, or can be served cold for a picnic or a buffet.

vegetarian, recipe, eggs


Ingredients 

4 free range British Lion eggs
1 400g can chickpeas (drained)
1 small red onion
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons parsley
ground black pepper 
pinch salt
2 slices wholemeal bread as crumbs
1 egg beaten
golden breadcrumbs

Method

Boil eggs by placing in cold water, bringing to boil and boiling for 5-6 minutes.
Remove from heat and transfer to sink.  Run cold water into the pan until cool.
Put chickpeas, onion, garlic and seasoning into food processor and blitz.
Add breadcrumbs to thicken using the pulse setting.
Shell the eggs and wrap a quarter of the chickpea mix around each one. (Flour hands if it gets too sticky!)
Dip covered egg in beaten egg and then roll onto a plate of golden breadcrumbs to coat.
Cook at GM6 for 15 minutes.

vegetarian, eggs


I only ever buy eggs which are free range, where the hens are well looked after and given freedom to roam outdoors.  I also look out for the British Lion safety mark which guarantees the egg has been produced in accordance with a strict code of practice (which has virtually eradicated salmonella in the British egg industry).

To find our more information about using eggs, such as advice on eggs and pregnancy, egg safety, recipes and nutritional information visit the British Lion Eggs website at egginfo.co.uk.

eggs, egg safety


Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Helping Freddy to catch up at school with Lexia

Freddy has recently helped review a series of reading and writing workbooks from Lexia.  I try and do some home learning with Freddy on a regular basis, because he is still struggling a little with learning to read and write.  His first year at school was hindered greatly because of a misdiagnosed eye problem resulting in him being unnecessarily patched.  Poor boy couldn't see a thing for three hours a day, and then had strained eyes all afternoon.  It didn't help him take in the visual cues needed when embarking on learning to read and write. He is now in year one and the penny is starting to drop, but he is still playing catch up.  Aside from being behind when it comes to reading and writing, Freddy is a bright spark.  He can tell you how an aeroplane flies, he can explain why tunnels are round and he can discuss the effect of gravity!  So I have no worries about him academically as a whole.  He is just playing catch up in reading and needs a little help to get there.

As well as making workbooks, Lexia has an online home reading course, which Freddy has been given three months access to.  The programme has two elements, the Lexia Reading software itself plus an ongoing pro-active support and advice service.  Progress reports are given to keep parents updated as to their child's usage and progress.  The course is suitable for pre-schoolers through to teens, with each child assessed before being given an individual personalised program to follow.

The Lexia Reading software is a phonics based program taking the form of interactive games with fun animations.  It covers a range of reading skills including phonological awareness, phonics, sight word recognition, sound-symbol correspondence, word-attack skills and comprehension.

Freddy was really eager to get going with his Lexia home reading course, which in itself is a really positive thing.  He loves using the computer, and he finds it much more appealing than using a pencil and paper!  Getting him to sit and write can sometimes prove a bit of a battle, whereas using the computer is seen as a fun activity.

I was impressed at how user friendly the program was and Freddy was able to complete his assessment completely independently before being placed at the appropriate level for his ability.  The animations and the theme of the program are very appealing, but this does not distract from the actual content, which I found to be excellent.

home education, reading, phonics


We have tried other online reading programs before, but I have always been frustrated by the fact that if a child got something wrong they would not be told why.  A wrong answer would just mean losing a point and the game would move on without the child really understanding why.  Lexia's home reading course has an excellent function which, if a child makes a mistake, goes on to offer further help.  It lets children look at things another way, simplifying the task until the knowledge is consolidated.  Freddy struggles with sight word recognition of high frequency words, and this function really helped him to recognise the words - their shape and their letter formation.  He was able to continue the task and he really understood what he was learning. I was very impressed by his determination to get it right and the program's ability to recognise that he needed extra help before moving on.  I also really like that children can see their progress and know how far through the level they have gone.

We are only one week into the Lexia home reading course and already I can see Freddy's confidence increase and his enthusiasm for the course is still strong.  Just 20 minutes three times a week can help a child's progress, and I am hoping that by the end of the three month programme, Freddy will have a skill base that will put him on a par with his peers.

I will continue to update my blog regarding Freddy's progress.

If you want to check out the Lexia products you can visit the website at everybodylearns.co.uk.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Save money on baby essentials at Aldi's Baby and Toddler Event

Aldi


Having a baby or a toddler does not come cheap!  The seemingly never ending need for baby wipes, nappies and other baby related paraphernalia can really add up, but thanks to Aldi's Baby and Toddler event, parents can save  money on a whole host of essentials.

On January 29th, Aldi stores will be selling a great range of baby and toddler items, all at low prices. 

Mamia is Aldi's award winning baby range that is available in store everyday.  Their nappies and wipes are much cheaper than the big brands on the market, but perform every bit as well.  Mamia also sell a range of 100% organic baby food at great prices.  Saving money on baby essentials does not mean having to compromise on quality when you choose Mamia. 

Mamia, babycare


During the Baby Event there are some specialbuys on a range of baby essentials and equipment in store.  You can pick up a twelve pack of sensitive baby wipes, each containing 64 wipes for the special price of £5.99 making them less than 50p a pack!  And remember, Mamia wipes have won awards for their quality, so this is a great buy that will keep baby clean for weeks.  I still use baby wipes for when we are on the go, for mopping up messy hands and faces, for make-up removal and even for cleaning my leather sofa!

Other bargains include bath toys, baby bottles, cups, socks, tights, blankets, towels, clothing, bibs, dummies and toiletries (including top branded products such as Sudocrem 125g pot for £2 and Calpol 100ml bottle for £1.99). Many everyday essentials are available at low prices.

Other specialbuys include:

Hauck buggy for £22.99
Lindam stairgates for £14.99
Mamia Comfort Baby Monitor for £19.99
Avent Electric Steam Steriliser for £19.99
Mini baby food blender for £8.99

There are also some absolutely gorgeous Very Hungry Caterpillar gift sets available for just £14.99, each set containing different products such as a money box, photo frame or tableware. They would make great gifts for new babies, christenings or birthdays.

Specialbuys are available from January 29th while stocks last.




Novelty Valentine's Day Gifts from Toxic Fox

Valentine's Day is the one day of the year where everyone has the excuse to unleash their inner romantic.  Immersing yourself into the saccharine sweetness and sentimentality of the day is wonderful if you are happily in love, but what if you're not?  Maybe a dozen red roses or a heart shaped box of chocolates isn't an appropriate gift for your other half.  Perhaps you are more interested in something more risque or would prefer to buy a novelty gift, and have a bit of fun with your Valentine's gifting this year.

Toxic Fox has a selection of crazy and unusual gift ideas that may just fit the bill when it comes to buying a gift for your significant other or for yourself this Valentine's Day.  Some of it may not be to everyone's taste but if you are looking for something that is a bit off the wall then you might find the perfect prank or novelty.  They sent me a couple of their quirkier, alternative Valentine's gifts to test out.

Personal Revenge Voodoo Doll 

For the jilted on Valentine's Day - "Don't get mad - get even!"  Featuring nine uncomfortable revenges ranging from constipation to halitosis, this voodoo doll comes with ten pins and can have a photograph attached to its face to personalise the experience.  Personally, I'm not one to mess with the occult, black magic or voodoo (I've watched too many horror films where dabbling in the unknown has opened up a very evil can of worms), but my daughter thought this little doll was 'cool'. I guess it could be a good device for getting rid of your own negative energy after being cheated on by a bad boyfriend - and is definitely better than causing criminal damage to his property or inflicting GBH on him in person.  

At £4.99 it is a well priced unique, novelty gift with a difference.

Toxic Fox


Stress Balls

If your other half is driving you nuts, these stress balls may well provide you with the relief you need. You can crush them, prod them, squeeze them and poke them to offload your tension and send a clear message to the man in your life.  You get all the satisfaction of having him by the balls, without actually damaging his family jewels!

Toxic Fox


These stress balls are strangely comforting to cup and squeeze!  Inside is a gel liquid with two rubber balls suspended within it. You can squidge them, twist them and generally take out all your frustration on them!

Toxic Fox


Freddy found the Stress Balls and with all the innocence of a child gave them a squeeze or two before announcing that he wanted to take them in for Show and Tell this week.  Not sure how his teacher would react to that!  Needless to say, I steered him in another direction.

I took a sadistic pleasure watching Ian squirm every time he saw the Stress Balls being squeezed to near bursting point!  He now knows that it is in his best interests to never get on the wrong side of me.

Toxic Fox, stress balls


The Stress Balls are £4.99 and are a fun novelty gift idea!

Find these and other novelty gift ideas at the Toxic Fox website.  They also have a great range of personalised gifts and romantic gifts if you want something a bit more cutesy or sentimental for your Valentine.

Toxic Fox are offering readers a code to get 10% off any Valentine's gifts (except those that are included in the 3 for 2 promotion).  Just use the voucher code TFLove to receive the discount (valid until 15th Feb 2015).

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