> The Beesley Buzz: 2013

Go Karting fun!

You may remember a while ago we wrote a blog post in the hope of being picked as an Activity Toys Direct Ambassador. We were so pleased to have been chosen as one of ten bloggers who will be doing reviews, hosting competitions and lots more in partnership with Activity Toys Direct.

What we didn't mention in that review (as it didn't fit with our pirate theme) was that the kids were totally in awe of the Go Karts they had spotted on the Activity Toys Direct website. So you can guess just how excited they were when we got an email telling us we could review a fabulous Berg Go Kart.

Then just before Christmas a huge delivery lorry pulled up outside and left us the Go Kart. It came attached to a wooden pallet for safe delivery and so was bigger than I imagined. Impressively it was completely and totally ready assembled. The wheels were all pumped up too and ready to go!

We then had lots of bad weather with some of the worst flooding our town has seen in a long time so our shiny new Go Kart was stuck indoors for a while. (It didn't stop Miss T sitting on it whilst dreaming of sunnier days though).

Finally, a dry day to test it out. Here's how we got on:

The Berg Go Kart is designed for 3-8 year olds. That sounds like quite a wide age range so we were keen to see how accurate it was. Miss T is nearly 2 and watching her sit on it we could see her being able to ride it in around a year or so. D is 7 so he was our main tester and as you can see from the video, he had lots of fun. J is now 9 so although he was able to ride it, he was getting slightly on the big side for it. The really great thing is that the seat has 3 positions it can easily be adjusted to depending on the age / size of the child. The steering wheel height can also be adjusted. So age 3 to 8 was a pretty accurate guide making it a good long term investment.

I was a bit worried about the kids going downhill on it because at first I couldn't see any brakes on it - but then we realised it has a clever back-pedalling braking mechanism so all you have to do is back-pedal for it to stop.

The other features we really loved about it are that the chain is totally enclosed in a safety guard so no risk of little fingers getting caught.

It is really well built and sturdy making it feel like it is built to last. Steering is really easy too.

Our eldest son only relatively recently mastered cycling without stabilisers (his ASD and related conditions meant that he struggled with the coordination and balance required to ride a bike). This Go Kart would have made an excellent vehicle for him to ride whilst he learnt to master a bike so that he could join Daddy and his brother on bike rides but using the Go Kart instead so that he wasn't left out.

This is the part of the blog post that is tempting to go into the whole 'pink is for girls' debate, but I'm not going to. The reason being that it was a non-issue for us. My boys have never had an issue playing with pink toys and so they didn't bat an eyelid when we received the Go Kart which had a white frame with stylish pink wheels and a pink seat. They simply thought it was mega cool and loved riding it.

For anyone wanting a different colour though, there is an equally stylish Orange framed version with black wheels and seat which also looks fabulous. Both are currently priced at £215.00

Although there wasn't any leaflet or info included when it was delivered, there is further information about the Go Kart available on the Activity Toys Direct website if you want to see the full list of fabulous features. And, as it is already assembled, all you have to do is jump on and ride!

Having really enjoyed driving this amazing pedal powered Go Kart, it is a product that my kids and I would highly recommend!

Disclosure: As Activity Toys Direct Ambassadors, we were sent the Berg Go Kart to review and keep. All opinions are our own honest opinions. Although we have tried to ensure that pricing information is correct at the time of writing this blog post, as always please check yourself for current prices prior to purchase.

My fabulous blogging boys

Around this time last year, we bought our son, who was 6 years old at the time, a very unusual Christmas present. We got him his own domain name www.TheBrilliantChef.co.uk as a little corner of the internet where he could write-up his favourite recipes and write about his cheffing adventures. You can read more about it here.

But it was Daddy who designed his logo and layout although D decides what goes on his blog, we always edit it to correct his spelling, punctuation, grammar etc and help him with uploading photos and videos. So although it is his blog, it is not a pure 'kids blog' as it gets edited by us.

Now both he and his big brother J wanted to have their own 'unedited' space to blog about everything else they love doing.

So J has set up Joshi Moshi Blog at http://joshimoshiblog.blogspot.co.uk/ where he is going to be blogging about lots of Moshi Monsters stuff no doubt! As well as all the other stuff he likes...his favourite iPad apps and games, his favourite online games and other toys, games, and anything he likes really.

D has set up a second blog of his own called Outside of the Kitchen at http://outsideofthekitchen.blogspot.co.uk/ We thought it quite fabulous that he chose a name for his second blog that still reflects his love of cookery. He had great fun deciding his own colour scheme and layout and we really love this blog post that he has just written about his Robot Dragon. (Hopefully, if I find the time, you'll get the full story about how we got a pet dragon on our blog too sometime soon).

So bizarrely enough, considering how hard it is to find the time to blog, we are now a four-blog family!!!

I have no idea how often the boys will want to write or whether it is just a hobby they will soon forget, but for now we'll let them blog unedited and resist the temptation to interfere.


A Slow Toy Christmas with The Toadstool

The Toadstool Slow Toy Linky

Whilst we are still technically on our Christmas break from blogging we couldn't resist sharing our Slow Toy Christmas with our wonderful toys from The Toadstool.

In case you hadn't noticed the Toadtest badge on our sidebar recently, we were absolutely thrilled to have been picked as a Toadtester for 2014. The Toadstool has a really special place in our heart not only because of their amazing range of toys and their stance on ethics and sustainability but also because of their kindness to J. They asked him to share some of his favourite jokes with them and they lovingly match them up with some of their toys and share on their facebook page. Being involved in finding jokes for The Toadstool has been such a source of happiness and self-esteem for J that we are so thankful to them for that.

Both J and D LOVE looking at The Toadstool website and had great fun putting together a fantasy Christmas wishlist. Little did we realise at the time that many of those items on our wishlist would appear under our tree for Christmas. We were the extremely lucky winner in The Toadstool blogger competition. Because the boys both love reading our own blog and other blogs, both The Toadstool and us had to keep our excitement hidden, so that it was a complete surprise to the kids when they came down on Christmas morning to find that Santa had left so many amazing gifts from The Toadstool under the tree.

And now there is a lovely slow toy Christmas linky where anyone can link up their present opening excitement of Christmas day. If you don't blog, but still want to join in, you can also post photos to The Toadstool facebook page. There will even be a lucky winner from amongst those who have purchased toys from The Toadstool to win £50 to spend in their toy sale. See here for more info. (And there's more about SLOW toys here in case you aren't sure which toys are included as slow toys).

But now, without further ado, a poem by daddy and a video too of our Toadstool Christmas!

'Twas the night before Christmas,
And all of the town
Was flooded and miserable*
No smiles, just frowns.

But Santa did bring,
Some winter cheer,
With the help of The Toadstool,
His helpers were near.

In the morning,
Squeals of delight.
Smiles so broad,
As to bring forth the light.

And happiness was had
From the whole family
As unwrapping took place
Around the bright tree.

A camera for her,
Ball-tracks for the boys
Worry-eaters, marionettes,
And so many toys!

So before we begin
To review all those gifts,
We have one huge THANK YOU
to The Toadstool to lift.

And of course there will be many reviews coming for those wonderful toys. Thank you so much once again to The Toadstool. I could easily write another whole blog post about just how much of a help it was to have those gifts arrive all beautifully wrapped and ready for Santa to put under the tree, but I will just say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! 

*Our town has been badly affected by the recent floods. Thankfully we are ok and our house is fine but our thoughts and prayers are with those who have spent Christmas eve and Christmas day evacuated from their flooded homes.

Trying to take a Christmas break!

Just a quick blog post this evening to say that we are going to be (trying to) take a bit of a break from blogging over Christmas and just wanted to wish everyone a very wonderful Christmas and new year!

So if you see many new blog posts popping up or catch us doing too much on facebook or twitter - feel free to shout 'oi - you said you were taking a break'.

I doubt it will be a complete break but just trying to spend less time online. It would be nice to re-discover that screen that sits in the corner of the living room rather than this screen and keyboard that I seem to spend far too much time at!!!

Wish you all a magical Christmas and hoping that 2014 is a very blessed year for you all.

Unusual Christmas Wreaths


Have you seen our current competition? It runs until mid January 2014 so there's still time to enter.

Makie Doll - part 2 - it arrives!

D was asked to review a makie doll on his blog but we thought it would be good to share his video review here too. A few weeks ago he was sent a Makie's gift card which arrives in a gift box and you scratch off the code and design your own doll either using the Makies app or on the Makie website.

The Makie dolls are a new unique concept in dolls as you design your own choosing their features, hair colour and style, eye colour, clothing and so on and it is then 3D printed to your specified design.

So the Makie doll arrived and here's what D thought:

The dolls are 10" tall (i.e. action doll size) and are poseable as they have moveable ball-shaped joints. Just a little word of caution - some of the parts are designed to be removeable (e.g. the feet) and D managed to lose a foot! Thankfully the lovely people at Makies very speedily sent a new pair of feet out to him (and they are also available to buy if you have a similar disaster) but just wanted parents everywhere to be aware so that they don't accidentally suck up any feet when they are vacuuming.

Additional accessories and clothing are also available from the Makies website. D took a look at the shoes and he also spotted a snowboard which he thought would be quite cool!

The other items he thought should be available are guitars (as he did spot one somewhere but then couldn't see it in the accessories shop) and also gloves in case the weather gets cold. There is actually a Makies forum too where suggestions like these can be made.

D is really pleased with his new doll!

Disclosure: We were sent the Makies gift card and doll for the purposes of review. There was an additional cost for postage of the doll. All opinions are our own. 

Have you seen our current GIVEAWAY - find out more here.


Christmas time is chocolate time

One of the perks of the Christmas season is letting the diet go out the window for a while and enjoying a few special treats to eat. So when Hotel Chocolat asked us which of their Christmas products we'd like to try, it was 'The Signature Christmas Collection' selection box that caught my eye.

I really like selection boxes of chocolate as it feels like you're getting a new surprise in every mouthful as you spend time admiring how the chocolates look, reading about them on the 'menu' card, and even giving the chocolates a sniff to appreciate the different flavours.  

This selection was beautifully presented in a circular box with an arty illustration. I loved the idea of the chocolates having Christmas-themed flavours like cranberry, mulled ports and nutmeg featuring in the collection.

I had hoped to treat daddy to the chocolates, (hence the photos featuring him on this blog post) but it turned out that I absolutely adored so many of them that daddy didn't actually get much of a look in.

I loved them so much that I can't resist telling you about a few of my absolute favourite flavours. The 'Christmas Mess' was a dark chocolate cup filled with a cranberry ganache that I just couldn't get enough of. It had a tangy taste to it - slightly sour to make your mouth water, then a layer of fruity strawberry ganache and topped with tiny meringue sprinkles. It was totally scrum-delicious. 

Similarly I loved the 'Cranberry Cups' as they too were filled with that cranberry favoured ganache, this time in white chocolate. 

Also worthy of a special mention were two perfect pralines. The 'Nutmeg and Almond Praline' flavour was one of the most perfect pralines I've ever tasted. The uniquely different 'White Caramel Pralines', as well as having a gorgeous hazelnut praline layer, also had a layer of runny caramel giving them an amazing taste and texture. 

Daddy's favourites happened to be the ones containing alcohol, and as these are marked with their own symbol on the menu card, were easy to find. The 'Mulled Ports' was daddy's absolute fave from this collection.

I would normally polish off a box of 19 chocolates easily in one evening but these felt so special and were so rich and of such high quality that I managed to spread the delight over three whole evenings (a first for me when in comes to chocolate). 

Also worth a mention is Hotel Chocolat's ethical credentials. It is at this point in the blog post that I thought I would be writing a sentence or two about the importance of fair trade as Hotel Chocolat does not carry the fair trade logo. But if you take a moment to look at why they don't, then you'll to see how they have their own practices to ensure that their cocoa production is ethical.
My only very teeny suggestion for improvement would be perhaps to include a bit of extra outer packaging. The box itself is lovely as a gift box but if it was to be wrapped in a layer of tissue paper or if it was to come in a gift bag it would just make it feel extra special for the recipient when they open it and they would know that someone has made a very special choice of gift for them. (There is actually an option to pay extra to have it gift wrapped when you order online).

I have to say, that with all the delightful, extraordinary, and especially-for-Christmas flavours, I was quite glad that our 7 year old son, aka The Brilliant Chef, had been sent his own Christmas treat from the lovely people at Hotel Chocolat, otherwise we wouldn't have been able to keep him away from ours. To see his review of the special Christmas surprise that hotel Chocolat sent him, see here

'The Signature Christmas Collection' is £25 from Hotel Chocolat. It would make a lovely Christmas gift for someone special. It is one of a truly lovely range of Christmas chocolates available at Hotel Chocolat. Perhaps you'd choose a chocolate Festive Wreath, or a special Christmas Goody bag, or the fantastically good value Sleekster Classic Christmas collection which contains 28 chocolates including many of my favourite Christmas flavours!   

Disclosure: we were sent this lovely box of chocolates worth 25 from hotel Chocolat for the purposes of review.  All opinions are our own. 

Have you seen our current GIVEAWAY - find out more here.


Miss T at 20 months old

Last Wednesday Miss T turned 20 months old. As I look at her I wonder where those 20 months have flown by to and as always I am amazed at just how much and how quickly babies and toddlers develop.

I usually list a few new words that she's learnt each month - but this month there are too many to do that! She will basically try to copy almost any word. J has had her saying 'disgusting', she says 'ooh la la' very cutely, and still says 'babish' for pretty whenever she has seen Christmas lights (last month she was saying it about the fireworks).

One big development seems to be that because she has quite a few words now, she can make herself understood a lot of the time even though she can only use single words. For example, if she wants a banana she will say 'baana', or 'nack' for a 'snack', 'dic-dic' for biscuits, and 'piece' for a piece of chocolate as I discovered when I was trying to cook a chocolate roulade the other day (don't fall off your chair reading that - yes I did actually attempt to cook a pudding - pretty much a first for me!).

She is starting to show signs of toddler stroppiness (although most the time she is pretty relaxed, easy-going and happy). When she wants to walk she will say 'ork' and gets cross if you put her in the buggy at that point. She will say 'poon' for spoon if she needs cutlery to eat with or when she wants a yogurt.

She will run over for a 'tuddle' often. Her and J have a funny thing where they throw themselves onto a giant cuddly rabbit we have and shout 'tuddle' as they hug the rabbit. (Was hoping to be able to throw that rabbit out soon as it takes so much space - but doesn't look like I'll be able to now).
'tuddles' and 'book' with daddy
She enjoys joining in with drawing and colouring. And we've discovered that she really loves Poppet from Moshi Monsters. 'Boppet' she will say whenever she sees a picture (which is often as the boys have Moshi posters and magazines everywhere!)

We've started to try putting her hair in a pony tail or bunches. They don't often last long before she pulls them out but long enough to snap a photo. She still does that cute scrunched up smile when she spots the camera come out. Her hair's getting so long that tonight we even had to use the hairdryer on it!

She loved joining in with putting up the Christmas tree ('tee') and the decorations.

Have you seen our current GIVEAWAY - click here for more details!

'Mummy, how come we don't get to spend much time together anymore?'

That's what my seven year old son said to me yesterday. And he was right. Since he started school after several years of home-schooling, there just doesn't seem to be enough time after school or at weekends to spend any kind of quality time together.
We've tried fitting in a bit of special time before bed, but as he is so exhausted at the moment that I don't really like his bedtime being delayed. Immediately after school is snack time and chill out time watching a bit of TV or spending a short while on the computer. Then there's dinner time, a bit of reading, then bed. 
The kids don't have many after school activities but when we factor in their music lesson, boys brigade and drama class each week, it squeezes out any spare time that it may have been possible to achieve. They've both now quit karate (long story but basically J couldn't cope with a change of teacher and venue, but we live in hope that their previous teacher might come back to teaching one day!) but even with no karate anymore, there is still a shortage of time.
I've always strived to be the kind of parent who stops what they are doing when their child brings over a book to read together. I've always tried to be conscious of the fact that one day it will be me wanting to spend time reading with them and they'll be too old to want to spend time with me. So the washing up waits, the pile of laundry grows, the shelves thicken with dust and yet still it's a struggle to fit in that special time that my seven year old has asked for.

He's settled into school so well. He enjoys it. He has made friends and is doing well with his school work. He is fortunate to have found a very caring school with a very understanding teacher and head teacher. So despite having had an amazing time of homeschooling we have no regrets about him being back in school. And yet being at school has made him feel exhausted both physically and emotionally and feeling like he doesn't get to see much of mummy anymore.

What's the solution? I really don't know.
After 2 terms of being at school, D is just totally exhausted!


Fairytales do come true

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful baby girl. Her family adored her. She was just like a little princess to them. When she was nearly 20 months old she went on a special holiday with her mum, dad, and family to Denmark. And because it was December, she took with her her warm and cosy 2.5 tog Grobag which she loved so much. In fact, she couldn’t sleep without it.

She slept soundly in the hotel room both in the day for her naps and at night. Her lovely Grobag was just perfect and everyone was so glad that they had taken it on holiday with them.

Then it was time to come home. On the train heading back to the airport, Daddy says to Mummy “Didn’t Miss T sleep well in her Grobag?” and Mummy replied, “Oh yes. You did remember to pack it to bring home didn’t you Daddy?”. Daddy looked panicked. Mummy looked sad. There was no time to go back to the hotel or they would miss their flight home. (There was actually a big argument at this point about who packed what and who was last out of the hotel room and was supposed to check it but we'll miss that bit out to avoid a further argument breaking out between Mummy and Daddy).

Back at home, Miss T slept in her lightweight summer Grobag but with the cold winter nights, she tossed and turned and got chilly and woke up in the night. Her parents did not want to use blankets as they strongly believed that a Grobag was best.  

And that could have been the end of the story. An unhappy little princess and parents who kept on arguing about whose fault it was! 

But that's when our fairy godmother makes an entrance into our story. Our hero came in the form of The Gro Company who heard about the little princess who was now sleeping worse than that other famous princess who was troubled by a pea. 

And they speedily sent a new warm cosy 2.5tog Grobag which was so pretty that it was truly fit for a princess. It was called the Button Rose Grobag and was pink and flowery and dotty and oh so pretty!
And now little Miss T sleeps happily each night and she makes a cute little 'pop pop' sound as we popper the top of her Grobag and she copies the zip sound each time we zip her in and out. And Daddy was finally off the hook, and Mummy was happy that the sleepless nights had ended and they all lived happily ever after. So that was our fairytale which did come true, thanks to an amazing company who came to the rescue - Thank you The Gro Company! 

A rather extended disclosure bit: This is a true story. We were sent this beautiful Button Rose Grobag from The Gro Company when they heard about what had happened. We love The Gro Company's Grobag's so much that we would happily have bought a replacement one for T but we are really very grateful for their kindness in sending one to us.

With our older children, having previously used unbranded sleeping bags when they were little, we can honestly say that we believe the Grobag to be of a really high quality, easy to use and we love that it comes in a wide age range too i.e. T's one is suitable from 18-36 months so will last her a long time making it a really worthwhile good value product (if we don't leave it behind somewhere again!) 

We love the guide on the back of the pack - I always keep the packaging handy so I can easily check the temperature guide to help me know which tog Grobag to use and with which clothing.

They have lots of lovely Grobag designs and they also have some other innovative products too so pop over and take a peek at The Gro Store. You can even get Grobags in even better value twin packs meaning that you will always have one spare when the other is in the wash (or has been left at a hotel in Copenhagen!) 

Have you seen our current GIVEAWAY - click here for more details!

GIVEAWAY: Duck Tape Colours

This rose was made with Duck Tape Colours and now you can win some of your own!
You may remember a little while ago we were sent some fabulous rolls of colourful Duck Tape to use for crafts. We were amazed by just what could be done with Duck Tape! You can see the full post about what we made and how we got on here. And if you need more inspiration, there is a whole host of other ideas on the Duck Tape Colours webpage.

Duck Tape Colours have kindly offered our readers the chance to win 3 rolls of their own!

I know there are lots of advent and Christmas giveaways at the moment and not enough hours in the day to enter them all - so we've set the closing date for this in January to give you plenty of time to enter and I'm sure receiving 3 brightly coloured rolls of Duck Tape would certainly brighten up someones day and help beat the January blues.

Really easy to enter, just complete the rafflecopter form below. (If you are new to rafflecopter there is a great guide over at Superlucky.) Please note all comments are moderated and so may take up to several days to appear.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
We saw this Duck Tape suit at 'Ripley's Believe it or not'. The creator of it was ahead of their time as Duck Tape craft is sweeping the USA this year with the amazing Duck Tape Colours range!
Fancy trying to make this Duck Tape suit?

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

Katsuma Unleashed DS game review

Normally when the kids help with reviews, we usually edit their posts slightly correcting typos and perhaps adding or removing bits to make sure it makes sense, but I was SO impressed with J's review of Katsuma Unleashed, that here it is exactly as he wrote it! Turns out he couldn't wait until Christmas to get a copy of his own to review so has based his review on when he played it on our visit to Moshi HQ.

Over to J:

My brother and me playing Katsuma Unleashed at Moshi HQ

When we went to Moshi Monsters HQ, I played Katsuma unleashed. There are 6 places where you have to battle your way through the levels defeating Glumps and  Robo-moshlings and rescue monsters and moshlings.

The controls are: press the A button to jump, the B button to do a spin attack, the left and right buttons to go left and right. When you are in the air press B and DOWN together to do a ground pound. If you are going down a slope press DOWN to slide down the slope knocking off any baddies on the slope. If you do a ground pound on wooden crates you can destroy them. If you find a cage use a spin attack on it to open the cage and rescue the moshling inside it. You rescue a monster if you defeat a boss.

I managed to defeat the first two bosses and rescue the first two monsters. the first boss is Sweet tooth where you rescue Zommer and get the ability to throw eyeballs and destroy special eyeball blocks.

The second boss is big chief tiny head where you rescue Furi and get the ability to smash special smash blocks. I also think that with the furi ability you can punch the baddies. I played in two places. One was the wobbly woods and the other I can't remember. The trickier bits were the moving platforms, falling platforms and the sinking sand. I really enjoyed playing the game.

Love J x


Christmas is Cancelled - My Perfect Christmas Day

Sounds easy enough doesn't it. Just describe your perfect Christmas Day. A bunch of presents, beautifully wrapped. A terrific feast of turkey and trimmings. A big box of chocolates to share. And if we're truly lucky, maybe even a little sprinkling of snow.

But not for me I'm afraid. I'm the one renowned in the family for absolutely hating this time of year. Bah humbug just doesn't describe it. I am totally bah bah bah and double humbug too!
Am I worse than Scrooge? Image adapted from the Nebraska Theatre Caravan.
So to have to describe my perfect Christmas Day is challenge of the century stuff for me! Is there even such a thing as a perfect Christmas? Everyone seems stressy to some extent this time of year, frantically rushing around with so many things that supposedly 'have' to be done by Christmas Day. I mean does it really matter if the living room doesn't get that new coat of paint by Christmas? Why put the pressure on by ordering the new sofa 'in time for Christmas' then find yourself with a few more grey hairs arguing with the suppliers who can't get it scheduled in because of all the Christmas deliveries.
I think we've all at some point stood in the supermarket scrabbling for those last few grapes, a piece of Stilton and a pack of smoked salmon. Foods that we could happily do without the rest of the year, but without them at Christmas just wouldn't do; Christmas would surely be spoilt. Oh and don't even get me stared on the supermarket queues. By the time you make it to the checkout you find your frozen items in a puddle and hear the ice cream sloshing about in the tub. Knowing you've got beyond the 3 hour record of standing in the queue you dread to even try to calculate what time you actually entered the store.

I queued for an hour last year at the post Office Depot amongst all the other punters picking up their missed deliveries of Christmas presents that, you guessed it, they needed to have 'in time for Christmas'. My parcel? Oh that turned out to be a box of cereal I had won. Yep, cereal. Had I known I would have left it until after Christmas to pick it up but of course, I was worried that it might be something I needed 'in time for Christmas' too.

I'm currently sat on the train coming home from London as I write this.  A train packed with people returning from a days Christmas shopping. They are struggling under bags of shopping. I look out the window and I see this billboard. For a moment, my heart lifts and I get a buzz of excitement to find someone who agrees with me, then I realise, I've misread the sign, it actually says Christmas is here (I'd read it as Christmas is hell).
Christmas is hell? or Christmas is here? You decide.
So for me the perfect Christmas would be one where Christmas is cancelled! But the odds of that happening are highly unlikely (more unlikely than even a white Christmas), so let's see if a visit from Scrooge's Three ghosts of Christmas will help me find my perfect Christmas day...

The Ghost of Christmas Past
Without sounding too pyschoanalytical, I think the true reason behind my hate of all things Christmas does stem back to childhood memories of Christmas. I struggle to find even one memory of a happy Christmas as a kid. Sure I had presents. Lots of presents. But the one thing I wanted more than anything was to have a happy Christmas day, one where neither mum nor dad would walk out. But it wasn't to be, so I realised then that no amount of Christmas presents would make Christmas be a happy one and that's why, even now, I have an aversion to receiving Christmas presents. I get extremely upset when people buy me Christmas presents and they don't have a clue why.
But as I'm thinking about this now, I realise that I may not be able to change what's past, but I can change my attitude to the present (in both senses of the word, if you'll pardon the pun).
The Ghost of Christmas Present(s)
So there are a few things I need to do to make things as easy as possible on myself. Set some ground rules. Set a budget. No traipsing round the high street - just get everyone to pick out what they want from the Argos catalogue as they have a great selection for house, home, beauty and kids, (daddy might even finally get that new pillow that he's been asking for all year), then just click and collect or even get it delivered. No wasteful unwanted presents - just fab gifts for all the family. And that's 'Christmas Present' sorted.
'Finding the perfect gift has never been easier' with our Christmas shopping done at Argos.

The Ghost of Christmas yet to come.
Then when the big day arrives, it won't be as bad as I imagine it will be (it never is). In fact, I end up enjoying the day after all. I smile at the wonder on the kids faces as they discover Santa's sparkling footprints by the fireplace, I absorb their excitement as they tear open the wrapping paper, I love snuggling up and watching Christmas Doctor Who together. And we can finally relax and have a few days off.

A few days where there are no routines to stick to, no school runs to do, where you can lounge about in your pyjamas all day if you want to. The experience it most reminds me of is having a new baby, when everything else doesn't matter for a while - just spending time with your family is the most important thing. Just being together.
Christmas time reminds me of when there's a new baby in the house - nothing else matters for a while.
And I suppose ultimately Christmas is about a new baby, ok I admit, a particularly special baby without whom there would be no Christmas. My favourite version of the nativity story is Nicholas Allan's Jesus Christmas Party, where one look at the new baby and the grouchy innkeeper's rage, anger, and bitterness totally melts away. And one look at my babies on Christmas day and that's when I'll realise that perhaps I don't want Christmas cancelled after all. And perhaps I do already have the perfect Christmas. I just didn't realise it until now.

 Merry Christmas! This post is my entry into the Tots100/Argos 12 Days of Christmas competition.


The Croods DVD review

It seems this is the week for film reviews for us, what with our special trip to the West End on Sunday to see the preview of Moshi Monsters: The Movie and then being sent a copy of The Croods on DVD to review before it is released (on blu-ray and DVD) on Monday 9th December.

It arrived through the letterbox yesterday which was perfect timing. D was off school feeling poorly with a cold and a cough and so snuggling under a blanket to watch The Croods helped to cheer him up.
Suitable for all the family (as it is U rated), The Croods is a funny film but with a deeper message running through it too. 

The characters were all funny in their own special ways. We loved Belt's 'dum,dum,dums' which our youngest copied each time she heard it. And some of our fave moments in the film were the invention of snapshots and when Guy made shoes for all The Croods. 

The kids tell you about their favourite bits here:
There are a few extras on the DVD like Belt's cave journal, the movie trailer and 'Crood's Cut (lost scenes)' where we get a little glimpse at a few scenes that didn't quite make it into the final version. I love how the directors explain the reasons why these scenes weren't in the final film.
Ultimately there was a message of hope running through the film. When The Croods home and life as they knew it was threatened, they had to leave behind the methods of survival they had relied upon and step out into the unknown, being prepared to adapt (or not in the case of Dad Grug) and move forward hoping for a better tomorrow. Will The Croods be able to hope for tomorrow, risk making the changes necessary to do so, or will they cling to their past and have their very existence threatened?

The words spoken by The Croods daughter, Eep, when she says 'Dad, this isn't living, this is just not dying' ring true at many points in our own lives. Sometimes I think we all need to examine ourselves to see if we are hiding in caves of our own or whether we are prepared to be stepping out of our comfort zone in order to move forward. 

A great film on so many levels, this would make a great Christmas gift for both adults and children alike.

Disclosure: Mumsnet and 20th Century Fox very kindly sent us a copy of The Croods on DVD to watch for the purposes of review before its general release on DVD and Blu-Ray on 9 December 2013. All opinions are our own. For more information about The Croods, visit their website.


Moshi Monsters: The Movie - The must-see movie for Moshi fans!

Meeting Mr Moshi - our all time hero!
After our amazing few days in Copenhagen (which D has managed to blog about but we haven't found time to yet) we found ourselves at another exciting event - a preview screening of Moshi Monsters: The Movie in London's West End.

Having had an impromptu stay overnight at Novotel Heathrow (the taxi due to bring us home didn't bring Miss T's car seat to get home with), we had to rummage through our suitcases to find any clothes that could get a second wear. The boys were gutted not to be able to wear one of their many Moshi tops and Miss T didn't get to wear her little Poppet dress that she had worn to our trip to Moshi HQ, but they all understood that it was far more important to be able to get to the movie screening rather than get home to get their Moshi tops.

As usual Moshi had pulled out all the stops with food, fun and face paints. The boys arrived to a photo opportunity with their all time biggest hero, Mr Moshi!
There was a fantastic spread of foodie treats from pastries to cupcakes to cookies to fruit pots. Having had a big breakfast at the hotel, we were a bit full to enjoy the lovely food, but D managed a candy floss and we all got to taste the fabulously unusual flavours of Moshlings Magic Water. 
Toffee Apple Delight and Banana Surprise Moshlings Magic Water

It's so tricky to write a film review without giving away any spoilers but we'll try:

It had everything that a good film should have; An arch villain, an adventure, a hero or two, and some very catchy songs. We were delighted to see some of our favourite songs from the Moshi Music Rox album appearing in the movie.

The movie was also packed full of Moshlings, had appearances from a few other familiar faces from Monstro City like Roary Scrawl and Buster Bumblechops and of course, the much loved monsters themselves - none other than the karate-chopping Katsuma, pretty pink Poppet, fabulous Furi, devilishly hot Diavlo, ludicrously lovely Luvli, and zany Zommer!

Our kids loved the film. It is rated a U so is suitable for all ages. Before the start of the film, Mr Moshi took the stage to introduce the film and explained how the film was very much a UK effort. As with everything that Moshi turn their hand to, we just sense the passion, excitement and efforts of those behind it and that's something they should really be proud of.

Mr Moshi and his Mind Candy team should be truly proud of what they've acheived
Whilst the kids were excited at seeing the movie, I got excited to bump into a few blogger friends; a brief hello to Steph from Steph's two girls and Monika from Mum on the Brink, then a quick chat with Helen from Kiddicharts and Mum of Three Boys - the three muskateers, and it was great to meet the adorable Grace and her mum Victoria from Vevivos. 
Victoria and Grace who blog at Vevivos
Other special guests there on the day were Mr Moshi's mum, his niece Gracie, who pink ice skating moshling Gracie was named after (how cool is that!) and the real McNulty who the Moshling McNulty was based on. Last time Miss T got to see McNulty she was just a bump in my belly.

Meeting the real McNulty
Miss T also got to meet her two favourite Monsters, Poppet and Katsuma.
My favourite monsters: Poppet and Katsuma
And of course, she got to meet Mr Moshi too.
Miss T meets Mr Moshi
Not content with just meeting Mr Moshi, we also spotted ourselves unexpectedly appear in this video on The Daily Growl yesterday (at 1 min 29 secs through the video to be precise).
 And if that's not enough to whet your appetite, here's the official movie trailer for the film:

When we finally arrived home on Sunday evening after a long and exciting weekend, there was one last Moshi treat in store for the kids...Well it was 1st December after all...
Moshi Monsters: The Movie is released in cinemas on 20th December 2013. If you are a Moshi fan - make sure you go to see it!
Disclosure: As official Moshi bloggers we were invited to this fabulous event free of charge. No payment was received for writing this post and all opinions are our own.

Wot So Funee - Practising my Autograph!

We've been jet setting around over the past few days with hotel stays in Copenhagen and then in London (more about that in a future blog post).

Whilst unpacking, we found a series of notes, which really brought a smile to our face.

The first one was done on a scrap of paper in Copenhagen (a bit more about our trip can be found on D's blog here). On one side, D has signed it. I've just shown the other side to show it must have been done whilst we were at the Adina Hotel in Copenhagen.
Nothing funny about that you may be thinking. A 7 year old child just practicing writing their name, right? Wrong.

Back in London, we had an impromptu stay at Novotel Heathrow (again more about that in another blog post soon) and there we found D's signature again. And on the back of the piece of paper he had written: "I'm the one who keeps on COOKinG! and you might too! xxx Love Daniel."

That's when we realised what he'd been up to. He'd been practising his autograph for when he becomes a famous chef. It seems not content with being a chef, he wants to be a celebrity chef. And we loved how he'd come up with his own little slogan too!

We also found another piece of paper with a scribble on and when we turned it over, D had written "Trin's signiture" on the other side. So it looks like he's planning on having a famous little sister too as he's got her practising her signature at only 19 months old!

Linking up with Actually Mummy's Wot so funee.
Wot So Funee?