> The Beesley Buzz

GIVEAWAY and Review: The First Hippo On The Moon

When we found out there was a new David Walliams book out, we got very excited. My 10 year old son is a HUGE fan of David Walliams' books having read Ratburger, Gangsta Granny, Mr Stink, The Boy in the Dress, Demon Dentist, and Billionaire Boy.

He LOVES David Walliams books.

So when we heard that we were going to review the new book by David Walliams called The First Hippo on the Moon, I got very excited as I thought J would be really really keen to review it.

But I was in for a surprise. When it arrived, it wasn't what I expected. It wasn't the usual shape and size of the other David Walliam's books that we own. No this was a big hardback picture book.

So I've got a confession to make...I didn't give it to J to review. Nope. I decided it was perfect for Miss T. And Miss T got to read it instead.

I read it to her and she read it to bear...

and I hope you can see from the expression on her face just how much she enjoyed it...

Miss T dreams of being an astronaut and she always tells us about how she wants to fly to the moon and jump on the moon. So she LOVED this book!
It is the tale of two hippos who both want to be the first hippo on the moon just as the title suggests. But who will get there first. I really don't want to give the storyline away but it is the ultimate feelgood story about someone who dares to dream big.

And that is a pretty great rule to live life by, to 'dream big everyone' as a certain hippo would say.

If you know someone who might get just as excited as we did about this book, then here's a chance to win one of your own. Just enter using the rafflecopter widget below. Entries will be checked.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can buy copies of The First Hippo on the Moon here.

Thank you to Harper Collins for sending us such a great book to review and for providing a second copy for the giveaway. 

Miss T at 2 and a half (30 months) and at 31 months

I'm a bit behind on Miss T's monthly updates and having Internet connection problems recently hasn't helped! I like to use this blog to keep a record of her milestones and a few of the cute and lovely things she says and does. As well as pics of her too.

In October she turned two and a half. Here's some of the things I want to remember about her at this age:

Whenever she hears the radio on in the car, she thinks it's daddy on there and says 'daddy talking' or 'daddy singing' (regardless of it is a male or female voice on the radio!)

When we went conker collecting, Miss T had the funniest way of saying conkers. She called them 'bonk-does' (the 'does' bit to sound like 'toes' and not the word 'does'.)

She knows all the lyrics of 'What does the fox say' off by heart and will often sing it to herself. She gets a bit camera shy every time we try to catch it on film. 

You may remember from last year that the boys love Dick and Dom. Well Dick and Dom (and Miss T 's brothers) have a lot of explaining to do as Miss T has started to shout out 'bogies' at the top of her voice in the most inappropriate of places...restaurants, on the train and basically whenever she shouldn't really. 

Another thing she must have picked up from her brothers is the words 'hate you'. She is generally very polite, completely adorable and a real pleasure to be around. but When she didn't get her own way one day, we heard her mutter under her breath 'hate you daddy'. Thankfully it seemed to have been a one off. 

She's also been saying 'dishes' (her word for delicious) which is really very cute.

With her big brothers being into loombands, I heard her describe a fish tail as a tail fish. 

Another very funny thing she said when she found a blunt pencil was 'that run out of battery'.

In November, she is now 31 months and here are some of the things she has been doing more recently:

In the last few days her drawings have started to have eyes, nose and mouth on them. She's long loved doing 'pen paper' as she calls it (drawing to everyone else) but it is amazing to be able to see specific things she is attempting to draw now. 
can you see the eyes, nose, mouth and tummy in Miss T's picture?

She calls a pomegranate a 'pomi-rabbit' and she likes them. 

When a text pings through on the phone, she calls out 'email mummy!' 

We made some meringues the other day. She liked them so much that she called them 'more-rangs' - to indicate she wanted more meringues. It seems to be another one of her combined words like 'more berries' (more strawberries) and 'grandog' (granny and grandads dog) that she came up with earlier in the year. 

She's done brilliantly with her potty training. She began a few days before we went to our Nintendo day in October, and she got the hang of it very quickly. 

She still loves to cook and still loves doctor who. I must emphasise that we don't let her watch doctor who - she just knows of doctor who from our time in Cardiff and from her brothers (who also don't watch it generally except for the episodes that we check first to be not so scary). 

Her word for 'something' sounds very similar to 'bum thing' and if she isn't happy with the variety of options available to her she will often ask for 'bum thing else' eg for lunch. 

She loves her snacks - especially 9bars! We have to carry a supply of those everywhere for her as a 'nack'. 

She uses the word 'also' a lot which she has picked up from J. 

Despite my previous worries about her speech, her speech is amazing now and she can make herself understood. If we can't figure out what she's saying, she will lead us and say 'show you' and take us to the thing she is talking about. 

She loves watching cbeebies which she calls 'mine' (meaning 'my') channel. But she finds it too 'scary' to turn the telly on herself because of 'peoples' (i.e the people on the telly). 

She's looking forward to Christmas and whenever she sees a pic of Santa she will say 'love Christmas'. She's asked for a 'princess crown' for Christmas. 

There's probably lots more I've missed but it'll have to wait until next months update.

I'm going to try to track down the Wot so funee linky to link up with because I think the pencil running out of battery and the Dick and Dom bogies are hilarious.

Wot So Funee?

Book review: No One Gets Out Alive, by Adam Nevill

Reviewed by Richard Beesley.

Regular readers will know I love a good thriller, I'm not keen on supernatural thrillers, though, but could make an exception for No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill.

Stephanie Booth is running out of money, work and friends as she moves into a room in a shared house at what she thinks is the right price. But even on her first night in this big old house, she fears she may have made a mistake. Sadly she does not follow her instincts and instead stays in the house, hoping to use it short-term whilst she makes other plans. She cannot begin to imagine what will happen next as her life descends further into horror. I kept wishing she would make a different choice, but at each opportunity she does not.

This is a deeply dark novel, where it isn't always clear if the things that can be seen, heard, smelt and felt are the sinister landlords, figments of Stephanie's fragmenting mind, or something far worse.

It is a tense, gripping and chilling read. 

No One Gets Out Alive, by Adam Nevill is published by Pan Macmillan and available to order from their website.

Disclosure: PanMacmillan sent me this book to keep for the purposes of review. All opinions are our own.

Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Crawl around car: A review for Babies R Us.

The boys have enjoyed being Toyologists for Toys R Us over the past couple of years putting lots of toys through their paces. This time it was Miss T's turn to be a babyologist for Babies R Us.

This Fisher Price Laugh and Learn crawl around car could not have arrived at a better time. Miss T had been poorly last week so when the delivery man arrived with this, it really cheered her up. 

It requires a little bit of assembly before it is ready to use and I'm pleased to say that despite my general incompetence at DIY, I was able to put it all together myself. The instructions were clear. There were a few pieces to click together and a few pieces that needed a screwdriver. 

The car is aimed at babies aged 6 months and over. I have to admit that my initial thoughts were that Miss T would be too old for it but I could not have been more wrong. 

She spent ages playing with it to begin with and the novelty still hasn't worn off. It is the first toy she goes to when she wakes up in the morning 

And when we've been out, she comes home and hops into her car straight away.

It has lots of features that really entertain and educate. From parts that move, to songs and sounds. A real door that opens and closes and a built in shape sorter and ball rolling ramp. 

Here's a little video we made to show some of the things the car can do...

Although the back wheels turn, the car itself stays still. This makes it stable for babies as they learn to crawl around the outside of it and explore. Once babies can sit up, then the dashboard is great for learning cause and effect as they push the buttons and hear the sounds. 

This really is a toy whose play value will grow as your child grows. There are 3 settings to help differentiate the songs, sounds and learning for different ages and stages of development. Babies and toddlers can learn about shapes, colours, numbers, the alphabet and so much more. 

I'm actually really glad that we got the opportunity to review this with Miss T at this age because it is not something I would have considered for her as it is easy to assume the car is just for babies of crawling age. And yet it has been such a pleasure seeing her play with it with such enthusiasm each day as she announces to everyone that it is 'mine car' (mine is her way of saying 'my'). 

In summary, a fabulous toy that would make a great birthday or Christmas gift for a baby or young child. Thank you Babies R Us for the opportunity to review the Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Crawl around car!

Disclosure: As Babies R Us babyologists we were sent this toy for the purposes of review. All opinions are our own. 


Kids in the Kitchen: Eric Lanlard's Southern Mud Pie

I'm absolutely determined to link up with Kids in the Kitchen this week. We love this linky so much as it really encourages us to get cooking each week and inspires us with new ideas to try out. Miss T hadn't been well last week so she'd lost her appetite and certainly didn't fancy cooking anything.

As cooking is her favourite activity, I knew she must be unwell if she didn't have the energy to join in with cooking. 

So I was delighted to see her back to her usual self this week when she got stuck into helping me make the Southern Mud pie we had seen Eric Lanlard make at the BBC Good Food Bakes and Cakes show last month. 

We found Eric Lanlard's theatre session hilarious. He has a fabulous sense of humour and had us laughing throughout.  He is also right up there amongst our very favourite chefs as he was the judge of the 'bakes' category at the show, where 8 year old D scooped top prize in the Junior Bakes category and got to meet Mary Berry for afternoon tea and received a stunning Kenwood K mix stand mixer. 

One of the recipes he made was a southern mud pie. The recipe was in the show guide but is pretty similar to this one found here on Baking Mad if you want to try it yourself. 

We were warned that it is highly calorific but also highly tasty. I'd never made chocolate pastry before but it turned out so well that I will be making it again. I could probably have done with rolling it a bit thinner but I thought it was ok for a first attempt.

Miss T helped roll out the dough. We used the clingfilm technique instead of flouring the pastry dough.

She broke the chocolate into pieces...well tried to, as it was a bit tricky as you can see from the facial expression. 

She also helped weigh the ingredients for the filling. She loves to turn the mixer on and off carefully under supervision. 
She is learning how to break eggs by holding it in one hand, and using the edge of a fork to hit it with her other hand and then pull the shell apart to get to the egg. She also helps get things out the fridge and put rubbish in the bin.

We didn't have any cream to whip to go on it but  it tasted amazing without. I made a mess of getting it out the pie tin so I'm afraid my photos don't really do it justice.

It tasted sooo good in fact, that even when we were trying to head off for the school run to pick D up, Miss T kept sneaking back for another mouthful!

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Striking mums - Treats for mums

I'm beginning to realise that if I want to join in with linkys I need to just write the post as soon as possible otherwise I don't seem to get around to it if it just gets added to my to-do list. So I'm quickly writing up this weeks Striking Mums post whilst the kids are having an afternoon snack.

I agree with Kate that treating ourselves every once in a while as mums is so important. I found that when my first baby came along, the family 'pecking order' changed. No longer was it just hubby and me but baby was number 1 priority, followed by hubby, then the cat and I was somewhere way down the list beyond that.

When babies are little, I firmly think that is the way it should be. Their needs are pretty urgent and immediate but as they grow up there should come a time when I'm able to say to them just wait. Wait until I finish what I'm doing, wait until I've cooked the dinner, wait until I'm out the loo. But I've always found that hard.

I don't like to let people down and that means that I end up putting everyone elses needs ahead of my own. When things got really bad last year, I needed to be told that as I was the one holding everything together, I HAD to start taking care of myself otherwise I would fall apart and then everything else would fall apart anyway.

I still struggle to do that but I do occasionally remind myself to take 5 minutes to sit down with a hot drink (it still only happens once in a blue moon but that's better than never!), I will ask Richard to take the kids to church without me on Sundays so I can catch up on a bit of housework, and I do now occasionally treat myself to the odd piece of new clothing (before that I'd regularly go years, and I mean 10 years or more in some cases, before replacing an item of clothing).

I think it boiled down to the fact that I didn't feel I deserved to treat myself. Without meaning to dwell on the past or blame my childhood experiences, I'd never had anyone to believe in me and I'm not the sort of person that believes in myself very much.

I hate myself even writing that because it is not the kind of role model I want to be for my kids. I believe in them 110% and I believe that they can do and achieve anything and everything they want to and yet I don't believe that same fact about myself.

But I am gradually getting better at it...So here are this week's questions from Kate:

When did you last treat yourself?
I very nearly did yesterday when I saw a new mixing bowl (which I kind of need so it is not technically a treat) but I still didn't buy it for myself.

I treated myself to some new slippers (which again I needed) and they are going to be given from the kids to me at Christmas.

Oh dear - I'm not very good at this am I. I sat down with a cup of Ovaltine a few nights ago. But that's not that much of a treat.

I got some lovely chocolates for my birthday in October so I'm sure that counts. I also like to eat out and we got to eat out lots when we were on our road trip in the summer so that felt like being treated.

What is the balance between you treating others and you treating yourself?
I've treated the kids to onesies this week and even though I saw lots of lovely Christmas jumpers and snuggly onesies in my size, I didn't get myself anything. So I am well aware that I'm not good at treating myself.

Again I think it comes down to feeling unworthy and undeserving of being treated and that is a big stumbling block I need to get over.

It's probably apparent from my online life (my poor friends on facebook that have to put up with my spammy timeline!!!) that I really enjoy entering competitions. Its something that I only really got into over the past couple of years (I think it was the boredom of those night feeds when Miss T was born that I started to enter a few and then couldn't stop). I work hard at it some weeks spending 5 or more hours each evening (and yes I know that is longer than someone would ordinarily spend in a full time job). But it gives me a bit of 'me time' which is a treat in itself and then if I get any prize wins then that feels like a real treat too.

One of the things that remains one of my best ever prizes was my Pink Lining bag that I won. It is not something that I would have had the spare budget to buy at the time and I'd used freebie changing bags before that when the boys were younger so it really felt like a treat to win such a fabulous bag for me and Miss T.

I think one of the reasons that I've become so attached to entering competitions is because it is a way of treating myself without feeling guilty. There are always competing priorities with things the kids need or things for the house and so I feel guilty when buying things for myself but if I've managed to win myself something then that lessens the guilt.

Having said that I find I will often share my prizes with others - more about that on the next question.

What joy do you get when you treat another person?
I love it if I'm able to treat another person to something they really need or want. Whether it is helping out when they are stuck for a last minute babysitter or being able to give them a gift that they've been wishing for.

But I don't enjoy giving gifts when I'm stuck for ideas - That's one of the reasons I dislike Christmas so much. I hate buying things for people who can and do buy everything they need themselves and so there is nothing you can buy that will truly please them.

I used to make my mum handmade gifts and she would really appreciate that but some people think that you've gone down the handmade route to be scrimpy and stingy and don't realise that by the time you've bought the materials you need plus the hours that go into a handmade gift, it is not the easiest or cheapest route at all. So I don't particularly enjoy making gifts for people these days for that reason.

I've got a very recent example of being able to treat a friend and it has brought me lots of joy. Because of D getting his amazing Kenwood K Mix stand mixer recently, I no longer had the space to keep my Kenwood Chef Classic. It was something that my friend had been wishing for and so it was a delight to be able to pass it on to her.

I've also been able to giveaway ipads, a kurio tablet, and share my voucher wins with others. Whilst I am really happy to be able to do this and I do it because I want to treat my friends, I also do it partly because I feel undeserving of the prize myself.

What treats would you buy with...£100, £1000, £10000?
In reality a spare lump of cash like that would go towards the mortgage but if I had to spend it on a treat I think it would be...

£100 for a relaxing facial and perhaps a massage too.

£1000 A weekend in Paris perhaps.

£10000 for a new car as hubby's is coming towards the end of its useful life.

What free or affordable treats do you indulge in?
I've recently discovered that I enjoy cooking and baking when I find the time to do so. It is something that I've historically been rubbish at doing but because of my kid's enjoying cooking so much, I now have a new found enjoyment of it. So for me being able to spend time trying out a new recipe is a treat.

As long as there is no pressure for it to turn out right as that would make it stressful. That's why when we have friends over, I use shop bought desserts as it is too risky to rely on things going right if I'm cooking something myself!

I love to learn new things - So again it boils down to time - but if I find enough time to have a browse on pinterest or be inspired by some craft or cooking ideas online then that is a treat for me.

Picking up a free magazine from the supermarket and getting the chance to read it is a treat.

Going to the hairdressers is an affordable treat as I don't go very often and don't have anything fancy done - just a basic cut - and my hairdresser really makes me laugh with stories about his kids and grandkids - it really brightens up my day!

I enjoy looking through photo albums. I love having a sort out of cupboards. Just little things like that feel like a treat if I find time to do it.

I was also enjoying the Britmums bookclub (is that still going?) as it meant that I would force myself to make time to read and I loved having a book pre-chosen for me to read as it meant I read things that I would not necessarily have read otherwise.

Talking of treats, there is a very lovely competition on Kate's Striking Mums post this week.

Kate on thin Ice Striking Mums