March Monthly Review Round Up

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We have been trying some great products that I can't wait to share on monthly review round up.

Firstly we have been trying Aquaint sanitising water by vital baby it's 100% natural for hands, skin, mouth and more. Perfect for sanitising bottles, teethers, dummies.

We received a 500ML spray bottle which kills 99.9% of bacteria in seconds. Perfect for use around the house. We also received a 50ML pump spray version of the Aquaint sanitising water. This is ideal to keep in the car, changing bag or handbag when you're out and about.
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Mr Tumble's Circus Is Coming To Town

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I think if you are a regular reader you will now that we are a huge CBeebies fan and Justin Fletcher / Mr Tumble is a favourite of ours. We recently reviewed his new album and little J loves it.
Last year at Lollibop Justin announced that he was going on tour in 2015 and I was so excited as I knew little J would be a little bit older and would appreciate the show a lot more than he did at Lollibop.
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5 Years Ago Today

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The 28th March should be a happy day. It should be a day to celebrate. It should be a day of presents, cake, party, laughter, love, happiness and all things Disney Princess. Its not. The 28th March is full of sadness, heartache, loss and thoughts about what could have been. 
5 years ago today I went into labour at 40 weeks and 5 days. 
5 years ago today we went to the hospital full of excitement.
5 years ago today I was ready to have a baby.
5 Years ago today we heard the words "there is no heartbeat."
5 years ago today I knew our lives would never be the same again
5 years ago today at 3:10pm I gave birth to Isabella
5 years ago today we lost our daughter.
We all love and miss you Isabella.
Our Disney Princess.
you can read more here Baby Loss
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Toilet Training Made Easier With Andrex

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Very soon we will take the plunge and start to potty train little J. I honestly can't remember potty training big J, he just did it. It wasn't stressful or hard work he just got on with it and I think thats why it hasn't really stuck in mind. It was easy.

Little J is showing some signs that he is ready. He knows when he has done a wee because he will pat his nappy and he will come to me with a fresh nappy in his hand. He doesn't really like his nappy being wet so he is always keen to have a nappy change. He has had a few accidents during nappy free time but again when he's wet he won't sit in it he will come straight to me and let me know.
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How to form (and stick to) good habits

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While we like to pat ourselves on the back for turning down a bit of cake every once in a while, the truth is that one time occurrences have a negligible effect on our long-term health and happiness. For those of us wishing to improve our lives, good habits are the key - patterns of behaviour that we can form and stick with for long periods of time.

I've set myself a goal to lose 2st before the summer. I had to give myself enough time to lose such a large amount because I needed it to be realistic and achievable
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Holiday Inn - Leamington Spa

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When planning our recent trip to Warwick Castle we decided to book a stay the night before at a hotel. Usually we head straight to Premier Inn or Travelodge as we have never had a bad stay at either. They are always cheap and perfect for us. Anyway while we were browsing hotels near Warwick the Holiday Inn - Leamington Spa popped up so we had a look at the details.
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Time Tower At Warwick Castle

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On Saturday we were invited down to Warwick Castle to a sneak preview of the exciting new attraction Time Tower. We love Warwick Castle but to get to see a new attraction before anyone else was an exciting bonus. From the Northwest it is a two hour drive so we decided to do the drive and stay over the night before in a hotel close to Warwick. You can read about our stay here - Holiday Inn Leamington Spa.
When we woke it didn't look the nicest of days. It was quite cloudy and when I opened the window it felt chilly but the day actually turned out to be lovely. Really sunny and although there was a slight chill in the air it was a lovely spring day and there was no rain which was perfect as most of the activities are outside. 
Every time we have been to the Castle we have parked in the Stables Car park. It is just a minutes walk (probably less) to the entrance. Its a premium car park and costs £10. Its perfect if you want to nip back to the car.
Once we parked, we headed to the Stables Courtyard. This is where your day begins. You purchase your tickets here and it also has toilet facilities and The Coach House. Great place to grab a cup of coffee or a snack before you start.
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Alternative Easter Gifts

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When it comes to Easter I honestly feel sick sometimes with just how much chocolate we have in the house. Daddy, Big J and Little J love it but for me I would prefer to leave the chocolate in the shop where it belongs. 
The more chocolate we have the less I eat so it does wonders for my diet I suppose. If like me you don't like too much chocolate or prefer to give an alternative Easter gift check out my recommendations below.
Available now from George at Asda stores nationwide, the adorable T-shirt pictures Tatty Teddy wearing bunny ears and surrounded by Easter eggs.

RRP £5

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What Does Your Toddler Eat?

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Little J will be 2 years old soon and I am not really looking forward to toddler tantrums and fussy eating. Up till now we have had the perfect child. He pleasant, funny, a good sleeper and a really good eater, I don't want it to change.
I am going to keep a note of all, if any changes and blog about them over the next months but just something playing on my mind at the moment is food. I am not 100% sure how much little J should be eating and how often. I have googled but their is so much difference between one toddler to the next.
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What We've Been Watching

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Daddy and I have been making the most of our evenings lately as little J has been falling asleep between 6-7pm. 
We have watched a few films, its been nice to sit and chill for a few hours as usually we are busy and don't seem to find the time.
So what have we been watching. Well we are big fans of Liam Neeson and we watched Taken 2 just around christmas time ready for Taken 3 when it came out on the cinema. 
They are such great films and although the storyline is similar in each film I am always blown away with just how good these films are.
So after Taken's we decided to see what else Liam Neeson was in. Love Actually was first. I love that film and have watched it many times, really enjoyed it even though it was after christmas.
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My Mumisms

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Yesterday after I had spoke to big J I thought to myself - I sound just like my Mum. It was in a good way and it made me giggle because I remember little things my Mum would say when I was younger that her Mum had said to her, now I'm saying them to my two.
We all have little sayings and quotes we use but I actually realised today just how many I do say and most of them are from my Mum.
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Spring Has Sprung

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I am so excited that Spring is finally here. Its actually unusual for me to be so excited about Spring as I do love Winter but this year I am so glad to see this long, cold, wet and miserable Winter finally pass. Since November we have just had one illness after another and I know we weren't the only ones suffering, everyone has been feeling ill, with coughs and colds.
At the weekend I woke up and I felt okay. I couldn't believe it. No sore throat, no cough or cold symptoms, just normal. What a relief. 

boys playing
The sun was shining outside and it was really fresh. We opened the windows and it was lovely to feel the breeze blowing through the house. We had time in the park and the garden and I was excited at the thought of getting all the garden toys out soon.

As its little J's birthday soon we will try and buy a few toys that he can use outside. He is such an outdoor person, he loves it. Our garden isn't huge but there is enough room to have a good play. Towards the back of the garden we have our old trampoline. It was big J's but he doesn't play on it anymore so it will probably be dismantled over the next few months so that will free up a little bit of playing space.

Big J doesn't play with toys in the garden anymore he just uses his goal but around this time of year big J normally tells us about a new scooter or bike that he has seen. He usually gets a new scooter each year for his birthday. The last few years he has chose an electric scooter and they have been perfect for popping in the car and taking out with us on our walks. He also has a stunt scooter which he loves and I think he may choose another one this year.

We bought new garden furniture last year and we got so much use out of it in the Summer. I am hoping we can spend as much time outside this year as we did last. 

So other than a few upgrades we are pretty much ready for Spring.


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Bake A Cake For Mother's Day

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Disclosure - This is a collaboration

When it comes to Mother's Day I am a little old fashioned. I don't like expensive gifts, cards or anything else really that costs too much. For me I love something personal and if possible home made. I think there is nothing better than getting a home made gift from your little ones. They have put thought, time, love in to it and that is the best gift of all.

As little J has started to enjoy baking I am hoping this year he will make my favourite cake perfect for Mothers Day and Easter time, Simnel Cake. 

For those that would like to get busy in the kitchen for Mother's Day check out this delicious recipe.

simnel cake
250g mixed dried fruit (a mixture of sultanas, currants, raisins and candied mixed peel)
1 orange, zested and juiced
500g pack marzipan
250g pack butter, softened
200g light brown soft sugar
4 eggs, plus 1 beaten to glaze
175g plain flour
100g ground almonds
1 lemon, zested
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g glacé cherries, halved
3 tbsp apricot jam

Pre heat the oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. In a bowl place the mixed dried fruit, orange juice and zest. Then you will need to add 2 tbsp water. Next you will need to cover the mixture and pop in to the microwave 2 mins. The mixture then needs to be left so it can cool down completely. If you do not have access to a microwave then you can heat in a pan on a very low heat,  stirring now and then until the liquid has been absorbed and leave to cool.

Roll out approx 1/3 of the marzipan and now you can use the base of your 20cm cake tin as a template to cut out a circle. Set aside any offcuts and 2/3's of the marzipan for later. Next you will need to line your cake tin with butter and a double layer of parchment. 

Place the butter and sugar in a bow and beat together until creamy. Now you can add the eggs, flour, almonds, baking soda, lemon zest, mixed spice and vanilla. You will need to mix until well combined. Add your cooled soaked dried fruit and fold in the cherries.

To make the bottom layer of your cake you will need to scrape half the cake mixture into the tin. Top with the disc of marzipan, then the remaining cake mixture, and level the top with a spatula. Bake for 2 hrs. Check it’s cooked by inserting a skewer to the centre of the cake, if any wet mixture clings to the skewer, return to the oven for another 10 mins, then check again. Cool in the tin for 15 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam. Roll out half of the remaining marzipan and use the base of the cake as a template to cut out another disc. Place it on top of the cake and crimp the edges, if you like. Roll the remaining marzipan into 11 equal-sized balls for the apostles. Brush the marzipan with beaten egg and arrange the apostles in a circle on top around the outside, and brush them with a little egg too. Put under a hot grill for a minute or two until just starting to caramelise – be very careful as the marzipan will burn easily. Leave to cool and wrap a ribbon around the cake, if you like. Will keep for up to a week in a sealed tin

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#Win a Me To You Tatty Teddy T-shirt

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This Easter I have been browsing for alternative gifts that can be given instead of chocolate. 
I have come across some lovely ideas including this gorgeous Me To You Easter T-Shirt.
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I Am The Queen Of Connect Four

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Disclosure - This is a collaborative post

Connect Four is probably the first game I ever remember playing when I was little. I used to play it with my dad all the time. I loved it and still do, over the years I have become an expert at it. Without blowing my own trumpet I haven't been beaten yet. Big J enjoys playing lots of versions of the game, Original, Launchers, Travel Size, Connect 4 online even Spongebob but I'm still the Queen of all of them. 

boy and woman playing connect 4
man and boy playing connect 4

boy playing connect 4
*looking back to 2012*

So my next challenge was to become the queen in the GIANT version. I have played the GIANT version once or maybe twice whilst we were visiting a castle in the Lake District. They had it in one of the stately rooms. It was mainly for the children to play with but the competitive side of me wanted to have a go and I did but there wasn't much of a challenge as I was playing a younger big J at the time. 
I remember thinking how amazing it would be to have a GIANT version of the game. Perfect for the garden and when having family and friends over. Once we got home it completely slipped out of my mind until last week when we were sent the GIANT version to try. 

Wow, its huge. Its stands 1.1m and we love it. I'm sure everyone reading this will know what Connect Four is but if you don't its very simple but very very addictive.

The game is designed for two players, yellow and red, although you could play in teams if you wish. You sit or in the GIANT version stand on each side of the game. All you have to do is drop your counters in turn into the game and try to get four in a row. It can be horizontal or diagonal but you must remember to block your opponent too. Once you have four in a row you win. Simple.

Daddy set the game up in our living room for us to have a try. It was an easy set up and within 10 minutes it was up and ready to play.

large connect 4

boy playing connect 4

boy playing connect 4

boy playing connect 4
Its so much fun on the GIANT version, I'm not sure why it feels different when its the same game but it does. We have played it so much over the last week so we have left in assembled in the front room. Although its weatherproof and durable for the winter months I like having it indoors at the moment so we can play even when its raining outside. 
Little J has enjoyed it too, he likes to empty the counters by pulling the lever at the side. He then flings all the counters all over the floor so we have to then go on a hunt to try and find them under the table and the sofa. He also likes to be picked up and pops them in the slots. He does this for all the counters until every hole is full. 

What We Liked 

Everything really. Its Connect Four, whats not to like? It's a classic game on a GIANT scale.
The fact that you are standing to play makes it more exciting. Sounds strange but it does.
The plastic is durable and weatherproof, hopefully without any damage to the colours.
You can buy replacement counters. This is a big thumbs up because I don't know how many games we have had to throw away over the years due to missing pieces. 

What Could Improve

Although I love everything about it the only thing I could really say under this section is the price. Currently £189.99 which may seem a little steep for a game.
There is a section on each side of the game that holds the counters although they seem to fall off very easily. It may have been better for the holder to be enclosed rather than open.

So the question is am I still the Queen of Connect Four? Oh yes, still undefeated. I am really looking forward to including this in our garden games over the next few months and will be challenging everyone who will play with me. 

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We Found Love

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I don't usually listen to the radio because I always have a CD in the car but one day last week I did. I'm not a big fan of the radio mainly because I'm not a fan of current music so I would rather listen to what I want and not what the radio chooses to play. Anyway the two presenters of the morning breakfast show were having a conversation about Love. They said there has been a recent survey which confirmed that the most popular place to find love was at the gym. 
Really? the gym? I couldn't imagine anything less romantic. I don't go the gym now but when I did I used to be red faced and sweaty and couldn't wait to get home to take a shower. Looking for love would have been the last thing on my mind. 
Anyway they asked their listeners to ring up to share where they found love. There were some lovely stories of people finding love in all weird and random places. Out for a stroll with the dog, on an aeroplane, at a concert and even cleaning someones car.
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Project 365 Days 61-67

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Its been a lovely dry week this week so plenty of chances to head out in the garden for some fresh air.
61/365 - My week got off to a very good start when I lost albs. I started slimming world the week before and I am really enjoying it. I don't actually feel like I am on a diet and I am amazed with my weight loss. I know when you start dieting you always lose more in the first week but its really motivated me to do good.
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Our Own Eiffel Tower

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I will always remember the first time I saw the Eiffel Tower, I was blown away. I remember looking up and just thinking WOW. Although big J and I were desperate to go up, Daddy was not as excited. 

*looking back to 2007*
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Win a Family Trip To Blackpool Tower Circus

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In all my 30+ years I can honestly say I have never been to a circus before. How sad is that. When I was younger I was scared of clowns and I always associated the circus with clowns. As we are Merlin Pass Holders I am now going to make an effort to visit the circus at Blackpool Tower. I have been reading some great reviews and I will definitely plan a trip this year.
If you like the circus then you will love my competition as I have a family ticket to the Blackpool Tower Circus Easter Extravaganza. 

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I Need To M.E.A.T and Greet McBusted

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I haven't blogged about my love for Mcbusted for a few weeks so I suppose now is a good time to give them a mention. Last week I was browsing through my emails when I came across one from the McBusted boys, well it was just a mail shot but it was very exciting.
*photo copyrighted to McBusted*
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Daddy keeps up with the new Panasonic TV technology

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It wasn't long ago that Daddy had set his alarm on his phone to remind him about the XBOX One Convention. It was streaming live across the world to show off the new console that was eagerly awaited by millions. I remember how exited he was when it started to stream from the xbox 360 on to our TV. If I remember rightly there was a man showing off all what this new console could do. I'm not up on technology but I do remember thinking "wow! A console can do all that?"
Daddy on the other hand is very in to technology he loves it, he needs it and he is always wanting to upgrade. Consoles, phones, computers, TV's, everything that can be upgraded really. You may remember he went to Play Expo last year. He took big J and they had an amazing time. Everything was retro and mainly arcade machines so I couldn't think of anything that he would see there that he would want...I was wrong.
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Baby Tips - Sleep

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Last month I became an Aunty for the very first time, its so exciting. Baby A is absolutely gorgeous and I knew as soon as I saw my little nephew I would become all broody and want another baby. I love babies and I would have lots if I could but for now I am going to concentrate on being the best Aunty ever.
When you hold a new baby you can never remember your own being 'that small'. Little J looked huge compared to Baby A and it made me smile because it really wasn't that long ago that he was just a baby.
I started thinking back to the first few days we brought little J home. He was such a good baby and was never any trouble at all really. He was such a routined baby right from the start, he loved his sleep. Thinking back I know that made the first few months so much easier than we could ever of hoped for. 
 When we had big J almost 13 years ago now we didn't really have a clue what we were doing. He had no routine really and because we were working, trying to save for a house we used to try and squeeze in as much time as possible so we didn't miss out seeing him. 
Looking back now it was a tough time with very little sleep but we did okay and he did grow out of it eventually. 
I think being a parent for the second time you do learn from your mistakes and we made sure with little J that we were well prepared.
Here are a few things we used. Although he was a perfect little sleeper I'm sure these helped get him in to a routine and have full nights sleep .

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Big J Trys An Experience Prize Thanks To Weetabix

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Weetabix and Red Nose Day have teamed up to offer 9 amazing experience prizes in their pick a nose competition. Big J is lucky to be trialling one of the prizes that is on offer.
Big J was chosen to trial the Karate Konk training experience. The prize is 3 months Karate lessons plus a full years karate membership.
Once we had found a karate club that was close to home we were ready to join. The classes run for 1 hour and there are different sessions depending on ability. Big J is a beginner as he has never done Karate before.

We arrived as requested 20-30 minutes before the session started. Big J filled out his registration forms. He was shown the time table of different classes available. There was karate, kung fu and kickboxing. Big J chose kickboxing.

There was a shop on site for selling everything you might need. There was so much choice.

Once we had signed up we were shown around and big J starts next week. he is really looking forward to it. He has never shown an interest in anything like this before but after having a look round he is really keen and excited.

There are so many amazing experiences to be won on the Pick Your Nose competition, this is just one of them.

You could also win a trip to a Planetarium, The Zoo or The Aquarium plus more and there is also a mystery prize.

All you need to do to enter is buy a special pack of Weetabix and enter the unique code here for your chance to win. Also Weetabix will donate 5p from every pack to Comic Relief, helping people across the UK and Africa. 

Make sure you keep an eye out for more posts about big J's karate experience.
*we were asked to trial the above prize in return for a blog post. All thoughts and any opinions are our own*
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Early Morning Fun In The Park

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 Trying to get a soon to be teen out of bed on a Sunday morning can be nightmare so we usually have to wake big J up 30 minutes before he actually needs to be up. I usually give him a nudge and then ten minutes later another nudge and then usually on the 3rd and final nudge he will eventually get out of bed. I think theres nothing better than waking bright and early on a Sunday morning and heading out to the local park. Once big J was up and dressed, we wrapped up warm and off we went. 

Little J was very good and put on his all in one on and even his hat, which is a first. He usually takes it off within seconds of it going on his head. Also big J wore his coat. Sounds a silly thing to say but for whatever reason big J hates wearing a coat and somehow thinks that a tee and a hoody is suitable when its -2 degrees outside.

We have quite a few parks local to us but we decided to go further afield to Sherdley Park. Its not too far. We left the pram at home and brought little J's bike instead just incase he got tired.

As soon as we got there little J was desperate to get out the car. He loves being outside, we all do. The ball and the bike came along too and for the first half of our walk we kicked the ball up and down the hills. Little J was really good on his feet today. Sometimes he can be very wobbly and fall over but he was almost running down hills and his balance was perfect.

Big J however wasn't so good on his feet, he fell over a few times which I think was on purpose just so he could roll down the hills. Little J thought it was hilarious although I was panicking incase he rolled in dog poo.

Little J went on bike and we went on a walk next right round the park. We walked past the farm which was closed, but we saw some chickens, goats and donkeys. 

We came to a huge mud hill on our walk which Daddy and big J had to climb up. I think little J wanted to climb up too.

There is a play area in Sherdley Park, the boys had a go on the swings, slides and big J had a climb on the climbing frame. 

When we got to the play area I started to feel the cold so we didn't stay too long. I'm really looking forward to warmer days. I love being out and about. Most of our adventures don't cost anything. We always take a packed lunch and plenty of drinks. In the summer we will buy ice creams and little treats but for days like today we didn't spend a penny. I always find these days the best. All we needed was a ball and a play area and we had lots of fun, lots of laughs and quality family time together.

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