Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Five Family Christmas Traditions

Every family has their own Christmas traditions and it is always lovely to read about them. I thought I would share five family Christmas traditions of our own and I would love to hear yours too.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Our Weekly Meal Plan #48

Happy Monday! I almost didn't get this post up today. All three boys are full of cold and Seb has been sick so it has been a weekend stuck inside.  None of the boys are eating much at the moment which is so weird as usually they are always wanting to eat! I am hoping they feel better soon at it is Sebs birthday on Thursday and we have a day out all planned nd cake of course!

This weeks meal plan is using up a lot of bits I have in the freezer to make some room for Christmas food. Seb asked for a curry on his birthday (he always does), so we will be ordering a takeout from our favourite Indian restaurant,  I can't wait!

Monday Leftover Chilli with rice
Tuesday Leek and Potato soup
Wednesday Macaroni Cheese with spring onions and bacon
Thursday Curry at the birthday boys request!
Friday Fish Pie
Saturday Lasagne and garlic bread
Sunday Crispbakes and Pizza Fries for Phil and I,  Fishcakes and cauliflower cheese for the boys

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Magnetic Construction Play With Magformers

My children love play that involves construction. Every day they build and create with their Lego and bricks so I am always looking out for toys to encourage and extend their play. Magformers recently sent us some of their range to review.

Magformers are magnetic construction sets comprising of colourful 2D pieces in simple geometric shapes. These pieces connect by using built in magnets which allow you to use the 2D shapes to create 3D structures. The benefits of playing with construction toys are huge. From developing motor skills and hand eye coordination to using both imagination and creativity and learning to problem solve. Construction toys really are an essential at home or in a childcare setting.

I tested the Magformers we were sent with Barney. He is 19 months old and the sets we tested are aged 18 months plus and part of the My First range of Magformers. In my experience toddlers love construction but many toys are aimed at older children.  However Magformers have this range which is perfect for toddlers as it is brightly coloured and a good size for little hands.

Straight away Barney was fascinated with them. Pushing the pieces together and breaking them apart. I showed him how to make a simple structure and he happily started to add pieces, working out how to get them to stand how he wanted them. He has really been enjoying exploring the way they work and loves it when they magically stick together.

I am really impressed with Magformers, they are sturdy and strong and hold appeal to all ages.  It is easy to why they have won multiple awards. Even I as an adult find them therapeutic to play with! I really love how you can mix and match the sets which means you can grow your collection as your child grows. There are some really fabulous sets for older children that light up or have a remote control. You can see more Magformers on the website including some amazing deals for Black Friday. Perfect for Christmas presents.

I have some ideas on ways to use Magformers as part of our home education. I will be sharing them in a post in the new year so look out for that one.

**Items received for the purpose of this post, all opinions are my own**

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

15 Festive Family Days Out In Yorkshire 2017

The lead up to Christmas really is the most magical time of the year. I have rounded up some of the best festive family days out happening in Yorkshire this Christmas. As always there is plenty going on to keep everyone entertained so gather the whole family together for a fabulous day out.

Yorkshire's Winter Wonderland
Running from now until 7th January, this four time award winning event looks and sounds fabulous. Held at York Designer Outlet visit for the norths largest outdoor ice rink, vintage funfair rides and Santa's grotto. Plus you can shop and eat too. Find out more and book tickets online now.

RHS Garden Harlow Carr
There is so much going on at Harlow Carr over the festive period. Magical winter illuminations, a Christmas trail, stories with Santa and a a Christmas shopping showcase. You can also enjoy the colourful winter walk around the gardens.  This is a day out for all generations. Events are running from 23rd November. Find out more and book tickets online now.

Stockeld Park
Visit The Christmas Adventure at Stockeld Park open from now until 8th January. It is set to be a magical day out with an illuninated enchanted forest, adventure playgrounds, an illuninated maze, skating rink and woodland trail. Father Christmas will be in his grotto too. Find out more and book tickets online now.

Flamingo Land
Winter at Flamingo Land sees the theme park attractions closing but the zoo is still open for visitors.  Certain dates will see story time with Santa and his elves. Find out more and book tickets online now.

Lotherton Hall
Enjoy a magical interactive twelve days of Christmas where you can be one of the drummers drumming and walk through the five gold rings. Explore the house decorated for Christmas and visit the elf village for crafts and stories. Find out more and book tickets now.

York Museums Gardens
Christmas at York Museums Gardens is a brand new event for this year. The historic gardens are being turned into an after dark experience of colour, lights and music. You can even toast your own marshmallows. Find out more and book tickets online now.

The Magical Lantern Festival Yorkshire
This Christmas themed lantern festival is set to light up Roundhay Park in Leeds once again. Enjoy the colours, sculptures and lights and warm up in the tipi tent with a hot chocolate. Find out more and book tickets now.

Brodsworth Hall and Gardens
We visited Brodsworth in October and loved it here. This Chrsitmas visit and see Brodsworth lit up in a fairy themed wonderland. Toast marshmallows on the fire and visit the traditional fairground. Find out more and book tickets online.

Castle Howard
An impressive place to visit at anytime a visit to Castle Howard at Christmas will be even more special.  For children there is a Magical Garden and the chance to meet Father Christmas.  You can also see the stunning tree and experience live music around the house. Find out more and book tickets now.

Nostell Priory
Explore the house and gardens decorated for Christmas with a clockwork theme. Father Christmas will be at Nostell and you can have breakfast or an indoor picnic with him. Find out more and book tickets online.  

The Piece Hall
It only opened in August but The Piece Hall has already held many fab events and Christmas is looking the same. With the erection of a Speigeltent in December which will be home to various storytellings, shows and music. There is also a Christmas market and family workshops running. Find out more and book show tickets online.

Cannon Hall Farm
Visit the award winning farm for a great day out. Alongside the animals, soft play and outdoor play areas there will be toy making with the elves, Santa specials and even a panto. Find out more and book tickets online today.

Piglets Adventure Farm
Visit Piglets Adventure Farm for a truly unforgettable day out. Go on a magical sleigh ride through a twinkling woodland village to visit Santa in his grotto. See the animals in a nativity scene and leave your Christmas wish on a the wishing tree. Find out more and book tickets now.

Harewood House
Visit Harewood for a Victorian Christmas, the house will be dressed by the award winning set designer from ITV's Victoria. Play a game of Christmas eye spy, go on a carol family trail, meet the donkeys and see live music being performed. Events start on 24th November. Find out more and book tickets online.

Fountains Abbey
There is plenty going on at Fountains Abbey over the festive period. Grab a map and follow the reindeer trail around the estate, write to Father Christmas at the post office in Fountains Hall and get crafty in Swanley Lodge. Find out more now.

If you are looking for more magical fun, take a look at my West Yorkshire grotto guide.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Our Weekly Meal Plan #47

Happy Monday Meal Planners! I hope everyone had a good weekend. We had a lazy day at home on Saturday and yesterday we had a gorgeous walk locally, it was so beautiful with all the autumn leaves.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Kids Songs CD Review and Giveaway

Like most children my boys love music. We often have discos, dancing competitions and games of musical statues in this house! The boys have been sent a copy of brand new CD, Kids Songs to try and we also have a copy to give away.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Toddlebike2 A Pre Balance Bike for Toddlers

Toddlers are always on the go and as parents we are always looking for new ways to encourage their development. Barney has been testing out the Toddlebike2 and today I am sharing how he has got on.

The Toddlebike2 is a pre balance bike designed especially for toddlers once they are confidently walking and can be used until they are ready to move onto a balance bike or bike with pedals. The bike is made in Europe and is made of durable plastic with steel axles and comes with an impressive three year guarantee.

Red Toddlebike2 on grass

My first impression of the Toddlebike2 was suprise at how lightweight and compact it is. At 0.8kg is much lighter than a balance bike. It's size makes it easy to store or pop into the car boot even alongside a pushchair or shopping. The Toddlebike2 is suitable for indoor or outdoor use or both! We have used it outside a couple of times but it has mostly been kept in our living room.

I have loved watching Barney getting to grips with the Toddlebike2. When it first arrived he was 15 months old and needed help getting on to it, he loved to sit on it but didn't go anywhere. Within a couple of weeks he was managing to get on by himself and can get himself about although he prefers to sit on the crossbar instead of the seat! Sometimes if he isn't going fast enough he will pick it up and run with it instead. He has even used it as a step to reach things he knows he shouldn't touch. I have to say Barney has loved this bike since it arrived, it is used every day. If one of his brothers dares to touch it, he is there telling them no!

As a mum I am really happy with the Toddlebike2. I love that it can be used in the house without taking up too much room. I love that it is durable and easy to clean. And I love that it is helping Barney to develop important skills. We are both so pleased with it and I think it would make a fabulous gift for any toddler.

The Toddlebike2 has an RRP of £23.95 but Toddlebike are currently offering you 10% off your purchase by using the discount code BLOG17 at the checkout.  Head over to the Toddlebike website for more information and to purchase.

.**Product received for the purpose of this post, all opinions my own**

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Dear Alexander, You are five!

Dear Alexander

You are five! It is amazing how quickly these birthdays come around. You have been so excited for your birthday this year, counting down the weeks and days. You are so keen to grow up while I am here wishing time would slow down.

You have changed so much this year. The fireman obsession has faded away and you have a new love for rugby. You love your weekly class and I love watching you. You have also developed a love for swimming and will be starting lessons soon. You are so full of energy, you never stop!
You love to draw and are forever cutting out and sticking to make things. I am always finding random creations and stray bits of paper cuttings. The last few months you have suddenly become so much more interested in letters and numbers and writing.

When you grow up you want to work in a hospital or be a rugby player. You love your doctors kit and often listen to our hearts or give us medicine, you were desperate for the Playmobil Childrens Hospital and Ambulance and were so excited to open it on your birthday! You love this type of imaginary play from hospitals to museums to prisons, you and Seb play all sorts of make believe games. I love how you can make a blanket or empty box become a rocket or a boat or a magic carpet. You love books too, at the moment you love The Tiger Who Came to Tea and The Bear Who Stared. You love dancing to cheesy music with glow sticks and your favourite colour is purple.

You have grown so much more independent. You know your own mind and usually choose the opposite to Seb, and you love to challenge me and daddy and test your boundaries. You made the choice to have your hair cut short this year and you keep asking to have colours in it, we will have to get some hair chalks one day.
You have grown physically too. You have stretched out getting taller and slimmer. You still love a cuddle but you feel so big in my arms these days. I am relishing these cuddles because I know they won't be on tap forever.

I look forward to another year of watching you grow. You already cannot wait to be six. Let's enjoy being five first.

Love Mummy x

Monday, 13 November 2017

Our Weekly Meal Plan #46

Happy Monday! Christmas is creeping up on us now, I am loving reading all the Christmas posts in blogland at the moment and am starting to feel festive. I think we will be writing to Father Christmas this week!

Last weeks meal plan went really well, even on Friday when I really couldn't be bothered. I managed to get lots of veg into our evening meals and have some soup portions in the freezer to use this week. My homemade pizza was immense, who needs takeaway when it is so easy to make.

This week we are fairly busy, two cinema trips as it is the Into Film Festival, a trip to the Coal Mining Museum and Eureka too.

Monday BBQ Chicken Pasta
Tuesday Slow cooked Chilli with rice
Wednesday Fish and chips with mushy peas
Thursday Cheese and Bacon Kievs with mash and broccoli
Friday Slow cooked Bolognese
Saturday Fish Finger sandwiches with salad
Sunday Chicken Korma

Check out my previous meal plans for inspiration.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

21 Places to Visit Father Christmas in West Yorkshire 2017

If you are anything like me, then you won't have booked to see Father Christmas yet. I have been doing some research and have rounded up 21 places to visit Father Christmas in West Yorkshire this year.  From train rides, to underground grottos to garden centres there is an experience for all. Now I just need to decide where to take the boys!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Christmas Tradition from Prestige Hampers

In my mind hampers and Christmas go hand in hand. Hampers are fantastic as gifts for others or simply as a treat to yourself and your loved ones. Prestige Hampers stock a huge range of fabulous Christmas hampers and I have been lucky enough to receive one this year.

The Christmas Tradition hamper arrived well packaged in a cardboard box with bubble wrap for protection. The hamper itself is a stylish vintage style wooden box, perfect to keep and use again.
There is definately something exciting about opening a hamper. It is a bit like opening a treasure chest! The Christmas Tradition hamper contains a plethora of delicious goodies from wine to chocolates. There is a nice mix of products bound to please the whole family. I love that the products all feature red too, very festive!

Items included

Walkers Highland Oatcakes 
Louis Filipe Cabernet Sauvignon 
Shortbread House Dark Chocolate and Orange 
Mr Filberts Marinated Olives with Chilli and Black Pepper 
Eton Mess by Valley Chocolates 
Santa Sack filled with Choc Chip and Orange Biscuits 
New English Tea Selection 20 Tea Bags
Yumcious Bar of Awesomeness 
Little Box of Happy Mini Chocolate Marshmallows 

If you are looking for a hamper for yourself or as a gift for someone else this Christmas I recommend takimg a look Prestige Hampers. They have a huge range of Christmas hampers available to suit all tastes and budgets. You can include a message card for the recipient of your hamper, select a day for delivery and even add little extras like a teddy or a balloon.

**Hamper received for the purpose of this post. All opinions are my own**

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Spooky Fun at Brodsworth Hall and Gardens

Earlier this week we headed to Brodsworth Hall and Gardens in Doncaster for some spooky half term fun!

Brodsworth Hall and Gardens dates from the 1860's when it was built as a home for the Thelluson family. The house ran into disrepair in later years and in 1990 it was taken on by English Heritage. English Heritage have restored the gardens and conserved the delicate interior of the house with more conservation ongoing.

This half term Brodsworth has been home to some family friendly fun with a Halloween trail in the gardens and Halloween crafts inside the hall. We were really excited to take part in the trail, the boys absolutely love anything like this! We were given an enthusiastic welcome and a map to help us find our way around. The boys received a trail sheet each with clues and we set off around the gardens to find the witch, the skeleton and more.

With bridges and tunnels, statues and a lovely wooden play area, the extensive gardens are so much fun to explore with children. They are so well cared for. As it is Autumn there are also plenty of colourful, crunchy leaves to jump (or lay down) in. Once we finished the trail we headed to the wooden play area so the boys could let off some steam.  I love play areas that have different equipment to challenge the boys and they loved the wooden boats at Brodsworth. I noticed as we walked around that there were plenty of benches dotted around so you can just sit and enjoy the gardens.

The house is beautiful and in the autumn light I think it looks pretty spooky! We headed inside for some crafting and I was charmed to see the room with crafts also sold second hand books. There is also a tearoom with both indoor and outdoor seating.

With our completed trail sheets we headed to the shop and both boys were given a certificate which is a lovely touch. I must comment on how friendly everyone is.  We had a lovely afternoon tea Brodsworth Hall and Gardens and Sebastian has asked if we can go again. I definitely want to head back for a tour inside the house and to try out the tearooms. The Enchanted Brodsworth event in December also sounds amazing.

**We received a pass to visit Brodsworth Hall, all opinions given are my own**

Monday, 6 November 2017

Our Weekly Meal Plan #45

Happy Monday! Last week was a funny one, I have been poorly for a couple of weeks, I felt dreadful and didn't even blog. I am finally starting to feel better though and am on a catch up mission.  Seb randomly came up with hives over his whole body at end of the week which was a bit of a mystery too. I think we are maybe all a bit rundown. We did have a lovely day out for Alexs birthday and he loved his Paw Patrol cake!

This week I am upping our veg and mixing it up a bit. We go through tonnes of fruit in this house but the veg side has got a little bit predictable and samey.  The boys will eat most things so I can't use that as an excuse! I am also going back to making my own soups regularly again, I used to make them all the time but last year with a small baby I just didn't have the time. I am actually really looking forward to cooking this week.

Monday Turkey Enchiladas  got babycorn
Tuesday Chicken and bacon pie with green beans and carrots
Wednesday Homemade pizzas with salad
Thursday Turkey mince and veg pasta
Friday Fakeaway Chinese curry with noodles
Saturday Creamy veg pasta
Sunday Mini toad in the holes with broccoli and cauliflower cheese

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