Sunday, 4 December 2016

toucanBox review*

This weekend ended up being a dramatic one, I collapsed in a restaurant on Friday night during a meal out with Nathan and our friends. A combination of a big meal, exhaustion and feeling too hot I think. Luckily, everything is fine but it meant that Saturday needed to be a slow, quiet day for me. Which was the perfect time for us to put our toucanBox to use.

toucanBox is a flexible subscription box for 3-8 year olds, delivering craft boxes to your doorstep. Ava loves crafting so I knew that this box would go down well. We were sent the fortnightly box which is the perfect letterbox size so it just pops onto your doormat, addressed to your child, which adds to the excitement. The "petite" box, as it's called, contains one activity for your child which has been specially created by an educational specialist. The box costs £3.95 + 98p postage. The "Grande" box is a monthly box which contains two activities and costs £9.95 + £2.95 postage. Or if you wanted to go all out, you could subscribe to the "Super" monthly box which costs £16.95 + £2.95 postage and contains 4 activities.

With us being so close to Christmas, Ava's box contained a festive theme and we were asked to make some beaded ornaments for our Christmas tree. This was right up Ava's street as she loves anything girly and fiddly. The box contained, 4 packs of beads (red, clear, blue & snowflake shapes), some pipe cleaners and some ribbon. We also received an activity book, a sticker and some leaflets for mummy to sift through.

The educational focus of this box was physical and fine motor skill development. Ava very much enjoyed these activities, although I was on hand to help knot the pipe cleaner, which was quite difficult, and sharp, for little fingers.

Ava barely needed my help to complete the tasks and it was a lovely, calm activity for her to do, which was exactly what was needed. She enjoyed completing the activity book afterwards which was brimming with colouring and puzzles.

I'm not sure that the box would satisfy Ava for 2 weeks until her following box arrives, as she is the type of child who wants to get it all done right away. You could however do the activity in the first week and the activity book the following week as this even contained a recipe which looks fun to make.

All in all I thought that the toucanBox was a fantastic idea and great value for money, not only are the activities fun, they are educational and help to develop your child's skills. As the days are getting colder, these are the perfect idea for those who like to hibernate a little during the Winter months.

For those of you who may want to try a toucanBox for free follow this link and use the code BLOGGERSTREAT to receive your free taster box. Order your box by the 15th December and you'll receive limited edition Christmas crafts.

I know one little girl who will be eagerly awaiting the arrival of her next toucanBox! For more information visit the toucanbox website.

*We were sent the toucanBox free of charge for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.


Friday, 11 November 2016

Top 10 non-chocolate advent calendars for children

Last year I bought Ava a Play-Doh advent calendar. We wanted to limit the morning chocolate intake and also wanted to get her something a bit different. It was a huge hit and I even found myself looking forward to seeing what would be behind each window every day.

Granted the non-chocolate advent calendars are more expensive than your run of the mill choccie ones but I think they're a great concept and there is such a huge variety on the market nowadays so there is something for everyone. I've done a round up of my top 10 so you have the best at your fingertips. I hope that it helps!

1-Naughty Advent Calendar Kit, £15.95-NOTHS: I love Not on the Highstreet for it's collection of quirky items and this is such a fun idea. You receive your kit complete with black & white balloons, number stickers and an activity sheet for you to cut out. Every day your child gets to pop a balloon to uncover a fun activity, something "naughty" from jumping on the bus to making crazy sandwiches. This is a definite contender for Ava's advent calendar this year.

2-Play-Doh Doh Vinci advent calendar, £12.99-John Lewis: We've not used Doh Vinci before but if it's messy I know Ava would enjoy it. Every day you get a new piece for your kit and on the last day you can make a festive picture with your new set.

3-Hama Bead advent calendar, £15.90- An advent calendar for the slightly older, creative, child in your life. Such a lovely idea and perfect for a bit of quiet time during the mad Christmas rush. The calendar comes with 5,000 assorted Hama beads, 5 peg boards of various shapes and 24 Christmas themed design sheets. Guaranteed to keep them busy!

4- Smiggle advent calendar, £28- Smiggle: As an avid stationary lover this advent calendar excites me greatly. I'm quite tempted to buy it for myself. Yes it is on the pricey side but you do get £38 worth of Smiggle products inside and a 1 in 25 chance to win a £250 Smiggle shopping spree. I've heard great things about this shop but am yet to venture inside. I'll definitely take Ava when we next go on a shopping trip.

5- Playmobil advent calendar, £19.95-Tesco: The Playmobil advent calendar seems to be one of the most popular non-chocolate advent calendars and the first one I ever saw. They now do various themed calendars, Christmas, pirates or dress up party. It's a lovely way to collect a set.

6- Vtech Toot Toot Drivers advent calendar, £16.45-Tesco: A great advent calendar for little ones, the box even folds down to create a road. The main gift, a truck, contains 3 Christmas songs and 6 festive melodies and sound effects.

7- Bath bomb and soap advent calendar, £30- NOTHS: A lovely idea for a teenager, saying that one of Ava's favourite shops is Lush so she's be thrilled with this calendar, as would I. It contains 12 mini soap slices and bath bombs, all handmade. You'll smell good enough to eat by Christmas morning!

8- Barbie advent calendar, £19.99- John Lewis: Ava is a big Barbie fan and I'm thinking of getting her this one. You receive 24 fashion items for Barbie, including a party dress, shoes, purses and jewellery.

9- Star Wars Lego advent calendar, £19.97-ASDA: A great one for fans of Star Wars. You can create a fantastic battle with the 24 collectible gifts which includes figures, vehicles and starships.

10- 24 Sleeps advent book, £15-NOTHS- A fun, creative book jam packed with festive activities. Another great one to keep them busy and quiet during the festive period. One that the family can get involved with too!

What do you think of my selection? Will you be buying any of these advent calendars for your children?


Monday, 7 November 2016

Our secret adventure garden challenge with Energizer & Secret Life of Pets*

We recently received a very exciting parcel from Energizer who have teamed up with Secret Life of Pets to celebrate the film's recent release to DVD.

The parcel was full to the brim with everything we needed to have a fun, night time adventure in our garden. Energizer is powering family time with a range of head lamps & batteries ready for adventures- and they certainly stocked us up! Even Gidget, one of the pets from the film, came with her own headtorch, ready for her adventure with us!

We were sent our very own, personalised map with 4 mini adventures to help Ava and I explore our garden at night.

Ava was so excited and wrapped up warm in her new "Secret Life of Pets" fluffy Pyjama set from Asda & fuzzy socks she was good to go!

Armed with hot chocolates we set about undertaking the first challenge which was to turn off our head torches and lantern and Ava was to draw what she could see in the sky. Unfortunately we didn't pick the clearest of nights but she could just about make out some stars.

Other challenges included hopping like a bunny across the lawn

Searching for night time creatures, we found lots of creepy crawlies hiding in our garden

And listening out for night time animals.

After many hot chocolate treats we retreated back into the warmth.

This was such a fun activity to do with Ava and something that I would never have thought to do before.

We really enjoyed getting out in our garden at night to explore, with the help of Energizer.

You can also be in with a chance of winning your own Secret Life of Pets soft toy by picking up a promo pack from participating retailers, you too would be able to have your own secret adventures at home.

Have you ever thought about having a night time adventure with your child? I would definitely recommend it!

*We were sent the items free of charge in exchange for an honest review

Monday, 31 October 2016

Original Theraline maternity & nursing pillow review

As my bump gets increasingly bigger and I start to feel more & more like a beached whale, bedtime is becoming slightly problematic. I have been using my old Dreamgenii pillow that I bought when I was pregnant with Ava but between you & I, it's no longer cutting the mustard.

I'm finding that it's too thin for my growing bump and I keep getting tangled in the back support when I turn over, not ideal! However, I was recently sent the award winning, Original Theraline Maternity & Nursing pillow to put through it's paces. I'll be honest, I was slightly apprehensive at first. It's a lot bigger than my previous maternity pillow and is quite wide. I was beginning to wonder how I'd get comfortable on it's boomerang shape.  The secret is the microbeads inside the fabric, they mould to your body creating a perfectly snug fit. The pillow can be positioned in various poses to suit the individuals comfort. I've been lying on my side, tucking part of the pillow between my legs and using the part nearest to my head as a pillow. I have to say that it's incredibly comfortable.

The pillow also doubles as a nursing aide once baby arrives should you decide to breastfeed. It safely moulds to baby and relieves pressure from mum's shoulders and neck, as it creates the perfect height for breastfeeding.

It also comes in an array of colours, designs and fabric so you can find one that suits you. Both the inner pillow and outer cover can be washed and all Theraline products are 100% safety certified.

Since having the pillow I've been known to sneak a nap when home alone, it's fantastic to be able to get comfortable when pregnant, as this is no mean feat. I highly recommend the Original Theraline Maternity & Nursing pillow to all pregnant mums, you won't regret it, and you definitely won't go back once you've tried it.

The Original Theraline Maternity and Nursing pillow can be bought on their website or from John Lewis, R.R.P £44.95

*I was gifted the Original Theraline Maternity and Nursing pillow in exchange for an honest review


Sunday, 30 October 2016

Life lately- Our half-term week

Today is the last day of half-term for Ava and I, then it's back to work and school on Monday. This week was very much needed for the both of us. I'm currently 23 weeks pregnant, and exhausted. Especially with working 40 hours a week. It's been Ava's first term in school and she was becoming increasingly weary as half term approached. I decided before the break that we wouldn't do much this week, we'd spend time at home, playing and pottering about which is what we've done.

I have beaten myself up over the last couple of days though and told myself we haven't done enough, I did have grand ideas of going to our local pumpkin farm or going on one of the National Trust pumpkin trails but the week has zoomed past! We both needed to recharge our batteries.

On Monday we went to the cinema with a friend of mine & her daughter, one of Ava's little friends from school, and saw Trolls. Ava absolutely loved it and it'll definitely be one that we buy when the DVD is released.

I was quite surprised at the amount of homework she was given to do. It was all craft activities which we enjoy doing anyway so we had a lovely walk on Tuesday and collected some leaves to make an autumnal picture. We've had coffee dates, watched a lot of Netflix and visited family. We've been out for meals and Ava went to a Halloween party yesterday.

For our last day today we've had a PJ day, baking some cupcakes and just generally being super lazy before I go back to work for 6 weeks. I have 4 weeks off over Christmas and can't wait! This week has made me realise that it's ok just to take a step back sometimes and do ordinary things, I don't always have to be running around everywhere!

Follow my Instagram for regular photo updates on what we get up to.

What have you been up to this half term?

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Rockin' Baby, one of my new favourite, ethical brands*

You know when you discover a brand that you just fall in love with straight away? Well that's exactly what happened when I was introduced to Rockin' Baby. I have to admit that I'd not heard of them before, but once I'd read up on them I was left blown away by this wonderful, charitable brand.

Rockin' Baby was founded in 2002 but it was it's most recent business owner, Kathryn Wiley, who saw an opportunity within the brand. She created the mother-to-mother movement and began to donate a sling to a mother in Haiti once one had been sold through Rockin' Baby. They have since developed the child-to-child movement, which sees clothes donated to children in countries in need, for every item of clothing that they sell.

And it's not hard to see why Rockin' Baby do so well with their charitable vocation. Not only are their clothes sustainable & fairly sourced, they are of fantastic quality and are completely gorgeous! I should know as Ava & bump were kindly sent a pair of PJs and a unisex top. I was impressed by the design & fabric and knowing of the thought & care behind the brand, has made me love the items even more.

Ava loves her PJs and I can't wait to get baby in it's new top when he/she arrives. Knowing that you're helping a child or mother in need when you purchase from this brand is such an incredible feeling and these won't be the last pieces that my children have from Rockin' Baby, that's for sure.

Ava's beautiful cotton PJs are so soft. The fox motif and autumnal pants are just perfect for this time of year. The top for baby is equally as soft and the colours are actually the ones I have picked out for the nursery; grey, white & yellow.

Rockin' Baby are an incredible brand who deserve to be celebrated. Check out their website and I guarantee you'll fall in love just like I did.

*I was gifted these items in exchange for an honest review

Monday, 24 October 2016

Belly Buds review*

Did you know that a baby's hearing develops at 20 weeks and their memory at 30 weeks?

When I was pregnant with Ava I would put my Ipod on and play songs to her with the earphones pressed up against my belly. Luckily this time around there's a more practical & advanced way to bond with your baby, the Bellybuds speakers & Voice share app.

Once you've downloaded the app you can select some lullabies to play for the baby or even record your own messages. I've even been playing some of my own music to the baby, who doesn't love a bit of Adele?! Ava's been enjoying talking to the baby via the app, she even asked if the baby would talk back to her! How cute! And she enjoyed playing DJ to her little sibling and  choosing some songs. She was very excited when baby started to kick at some of her choices.

The speakers are extremely easy to use, the pack comes with:
  • 2 BellyBuds speakers
  • 2 pairs of SafeBond adhesives
  • Audio splitter
  • Storage pouch
  • Free digital album

You simply stick the adhesive SafeBonds onto the speakers and then onto your bump and plug the speakers into your phone. If you want to listen at the same time as your baby you use the audio splitter which plugs into your phone, plug the BellyBuds into the one end and your own earphones into the other and you're good to go.

The adhesives are incredibly durable and you can wear the speakers under clothing if you would like to play music to the baby whilst out and about.

My baby is mostly active early in the morning and in the evening, which is when we tend to use the BellyBuds. I've been getting a lot of kicks when doing so and I'm hoping that means baby approves!

BellyBuds are a lovely way to bond with your baby and it's something that your family can get involved with too.

BellyBuds retail at £49.99 and can be bought from the website.

*We were sent the BellyBuds free of charge in exchange for an honest review
© A Rush of Love. All rights reserved.
Designer Blogger Template by pipdig