Ben and Holly Elf Tree Playset Review

My boys love watching Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom, and I must admit I am a little partial to it myself too. I love Nanny Plum! We have a few Ben and Holly figurines and playsets so we were thrilled to be sent the Ben and Holly Elf Tree Playset recently to review.

The Ben and Holly Elf Tree Playset includes a rocking Woodpecker, Ben Elf’s bedroom, the workshop with trap door, and also the elf toy factory.  The playset also comes with Barnaby Elf and some furniture.

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The trap door part of the workshop went down a treat with my little boys. They had great fun placing Barnaby Elf on the trap door and watching him fall down into the elf toy factory below. In the elf toy factory section there is also a conveyor belt where you can push the ducks along, this is a great addition to the playset that both of my boys enjoyed.

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The rocking woodpecker created a lot of laughter in our house too, and my boys thoroughly enjoyed pretending to peck Barnaby’s furniture!

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This playset retails at £29.99, and is recommended for 3 years plus.

We have really enjoyed testing out this Ben and Holly Elf Tree Playset, and would highly recommend it!

Peppa Pig Weebles Pull-Along Wobbily Train

We are big fans of Peppa Pig in this house, we have lots of figurines, and playsets so my boys were very excited to be sent the Peppa Pig Weebles Pull-Along Wobbily Train to test out!

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The Peppa Pig Weebles Pull-Along Wobbily Train was a big hit with my boys who are aged 3 and 4. The carriages clip together very easily and really promote fine motor skills.

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The Peppa Pig Weebles Pull-Along Wobbily Train also includes a special edition Peppa Pig Weeble with a lovely heart design. Weebles are great fun, they are figures that wobble but never fall down! We have purchase a lot of Weebles over the last five years!

Peppa Pig Weebles Pull-Along Wobbily Train

The Peppa Pig Weebles Pull-Along Wobbily Train has a recommended age of 18 months plus, but as you have read my boys loved it at ages 3 and 4 too. The Peppa Pig Weebles Pull-Along Wobbily Train retails at £17.99, and extra character Weebles retail at £4.99 each.

Peppa Pig Weebles Pull-Along Wobbily Train is great fun and worth the investment, we will definitely be buying some more Weebles characters soon to ride the train with Peppa!

Peppa Pig Weebles Pull-Along Wobbily Train

Dora and Friends Review (Sing-Along Summer)

My boys love Dora and Friends. They ask to watch the programme every single day, so we now have episodes recorded on our Tivo box as back up just in case she isn’t on Nick Jr. The songs in the programme are so catchy, even my husband sings them!

My boys were over the moon when they were asked to try out a new line of Dora and Friends toys from Fisher Price. The box actually made my 3yo squeal with delight! It’s definitely not just for girls!

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They loved the Dora and Alana dolls, and have had so many role-play sessions with them. They retail at around £10.99. They have removable shoes and clothes too, and also come with a plastic dog charm which fits onto a Dora Magic Charm Bracelet that are also available to buy in the new range.

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We received two charm bracelet sets. The Magic Adventure Charm bracelet came with 3 charms and a Dora figurine. My 3yo loved this. The charms are quite big and literally press onto the bracelet which I think is a really nice feature that promotes independence and strengthens fine motor skills. The other bracelet was a Dora Magic Charm Bracelet which is a replica of Dora’s. It also comes with two additional bracelets and some extra charms so that you can share it with your friends.

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Out of all of the toys we were sent I think this Dora Talk and Play Smartphone (rrp £9.99) was our favourite. My boys have loved playing with it. The phone lights up and has several phrases and tunes. It is just like the one Dora uses too.

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We’ve loved trying out some of the new range from Dora and Friends, and would highly recommend them!

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To celebrate the release of the new line of Dora and Friends toy range Nick Jr have launched their ‘Sing-Along Summer’. There will be a Dora karaoke booth visiting Sky Retail Stands in shopping centres and Smyths stores nationwide. Your little ones can sing and dance to a Dora and Friends song for the chance to appear on Nick Jr! Dora will also be there at some of them too!! The tour dates are below:

Symths Toys

Waterfields Retail Park, Watford (Dora Costume Character)  – 27th July

Westwood Cross Shopping Park, Thanet  – 28th July

St. David’s Retail Park, Swansea – 29th July

Crown retail park, Leeds (Dora Costume Character) – 31st July

Clifton Moor Retail Park, York (Costume Character) – 3rd August

Ravenhead Retail park, St.Helens  – 5th August

Halls Mill Retail Park, Bury – 6th August

Middle Engine Lane, Wallsend – 10th August

Glasgow fort shopping park, Glasgow (Costume Character) – 12th August

Beach Boulevard, Aberdeen (Costume Character) – 14th August

Sky Retail Stands

White Rose, Leeds  – 1st August

Intu Eldon Square, Newcastle  – 8th August

Bon Accord, Aberdeen – 15th August

We hope you have fun singing along with Dora!

 

To The Husband With A Depressed Wife

Depression is a killer. Depression tortures countless victims by the second on a daily basis. It sucks the joy out of everything good, and it feeds on misery and self-loathing. It is a silent killer.  A disease that likes to stay undetected.

During your lifetime you will either suffer from depression or encounter somebody who is depressed, but believe me when I tell you this I hope you are never the one who falls victim to it. I would not wish depression upon my worst enemy.

I have previously written a few posts about my own experiences with depression, and although I would rather keep my struggle private I simply cannot justify doing so. It takes everything within me to get personal, but I have a duty to share my journey. I want to shed a bit of light (on this awful monster) to the family and friends that also suffer seeing a loved one plagued with depression.

My husband is my biggest cheerleader, and he has stood by my side during the dark times and has certainly celebrated with me on the mountain tops too. I have opened up to him in ways I could never share with anybody else, and for that I am truly thankful. I know there has been countless time though when he has not had a clue what was going on, times he desperately wanted to help but couldn’t, times when he probably felt rejected, times when he thought I possibly didn’t care, and times when I took my frustration out on him. Yet he is still here. I feel I owe it to him, and to all of the partners and family members like him out there, to explain the reality of depression.

Don’t get me wrong, I am scared as hell writing this post, my life made public, but I cannot keep my story secret. I want it to help other people. I need it to help other people. Even just one person. Life matters. Life is worth living, even on days when you wish to breathe your last. There is hope, there is always, always hope. I hope this post helps you, whoever you are.

I am not even sure how to set out this post; bullet points? A letter? A list?

I am going to choose a letter, a letter to my own husband, a letter you can share with your own partners, sisters, mothers, children, colleagues. An insight into the chaotic and irrational thought processes that accompany depression.

Here goes.

Dear Husband,

I love you dearly, more than anything in this whole world, I think you already know this. I know you love me too, I just forget sometimes. Depression clouds my mind, it fills me with horrid thoughts about how unlovable I am, and how worthless I am. Sometimes I believe you, sometimes I believe depression. 

I know you prefer the good days when I am happy and not anxious or snappy, and I wish I could have these days everyday, but I can’t. I feel the cloud approaching, and it petrifies me. Sometimes I tell you, and sometimes I don’t. Please if you notice the cloud before I tell you just hug me tight and tell me we will fight the cloud together. Please don’t ask me if I am OK, my automatic answer will be yes when in reality it is a big NO. Depression makes you feel ashamed you see.

I know sometimes I overreact to the smallest thing and get angry, but please be patient with me. Forgetting the bread will not be the real reason, feeling like I am losing control over my mind will be the reason. Depression is very clever you see – it builds up a wall of anger piece by piece, and you never notice it until it’s so big it begins to topple over. I am sorry you get the brunt of my anger on cloudy days. Please forgive me. Please. Just tell me you love me and leave me to calm down.

I know it is hard to help somebody through depression if you have  never experienced it yourself. I understand. I totally get it. Just love me through it, listen to me, ask about the cloudy days. I can’t just bring it up in conversation. Depression clouds your mind. I need you to break the silence. 

There will be lots of times when I feel like you would be better off without me, that my children deserve a better momma. Sometimes I will tell you. Most of the time I will not. Sometimes I can go for months without those thoughts crossing my mind, and other times I think about them every second of every day for weeks. That is the scary truth. It’s the first thought that runs through my head a lot. Depression is vile, a vile nasty monster. Please always keep an eye on me, but also know that no matter how many times you tell me I am worth it I probably won’t believe it on cloudy days – but please never stop telling me. Ever.

I love our children more than anything, but sometimes I feel like a failure. I feel like a rubbish momma. My mind nags me and tells me other mommas do things better, and love better than me. I feel like I always fall short. Please tell me I love them enough. I find it so hard being a momma on cloudy days, but I try so hard to not let them notice the clouds. I hope you know I try.

I haven’t self harmed since February 2010, but the urge often consumes me. When the black cloud is here it consumes my mind. I fight it so hard, I fight for myself, my children, and for you. I know it’s hard to understand why I crave it, I can’t explain it myself if I am totally honest. It’s like an old addiction that comes to hurt me when it smells the dark cloud. One day I hope it won’t ever cross my mind again.

I know I am a nightmare not letting you cuddle me when I am upset, or feeling bombarded by the darkness, but cuddle me anyway, I need it. I pretend to be strong, but you know I am not. Cuddle me again.

I know I don’t talk about these black clouds often, but I want to. I hate the silence it forces me to keep. There is a certain freedom when it comes to talking openly about the monster. Help me find that freedom.

I know sometimes I tell you I don’t want to leave the house. I know you can’t understand but thank you for being understanding. The black cloud blinds my view. It makes simple tasks scary. It invites its friend Mr Anxiety over, and makes my everyday life a worrying place. It makes my heart pound and throat dry. It makes me feel crazy. It’s like the front door has this invisible forcefield around it. Please know I try. I really do try.

Depression makes me feel tired, exhausted tired. Sometimes the fatigue is so bad I just want to cry. Every bone hurts. This sounds crazy I know, but that’s the reality of it. On tired days please know it’s the monster, not just me feeling tired. 

Often I cry, mainly in private. I don’t like letting people see me in a vulnerable state. If I look like I’ve cried just hug me and tell me things will be OK. Don’t ask me the reason, depression is the reason.

Sometimes the clouds take away everything good. Sometimes I don’t want to wash my hair. Bizarre I know, but I know my fellow sufferers will understand the lack of motivation that often consumes us. Tell me to wash my hair!

Sometimes I lay awake at night and worry about things that won’t even happen, squeeze my hand tight if you’re awake too. 

Sometimes it takes every bit of motivation to even get up in the morning, but I never let you in on this. A new day often scares me. I wonder will I cope? Will the sky be blue or black? Is the weather nice? The weather really effects my feelings and I do not know why! Every single morning is hard, but seeing you makes it easier.

I want to publicly thank you for loving me and supporting me. You are the best. 

Yours forever x

There! I wrote it. I hope this helps someone out there, it’s helped me. There is freedom in the truth.

Keep fighting!

 

To The Mum Of The Child With SPD

I am not writing this post to plaster my private life all over the world wide web. I respect my children’s rights to privacy. I’m their biggest protector, believe me. I cannot, however, get rid of this message I feel compelled to share. It has taken all of my courage to write this, so if you read it please know it was hard to hit the publish button for so many reasons.

I have learnt to follow my gut instinct over the last five years and it’s never failed me yet. Over the last 15 months my gut has been telling me that my 4yo may not be as high maintenance as I thought, and that it runs a lot deeper than just being a sensitive soul. Maybe my gut has been telling me a lot longer than that, but I was in denial.

That’s the thing about the term ‘special needs’ – you are accepting of everybody else’s children under that definition,  as long as it’s not your own children. I guess you don’t want to accept that life is never going to be normal by society’s standards and normal milestones standards. It’s hard to embrace it.

Having a child with additional needs, with or without a diagnosis, is a hard pill to swallow. Not many people will admit that. But it’s true. You go through a grieving period. You think of everything that cannot be done, the places you can’t go, the milestones that may never be reached. You worry about bullies and stigma. You fret about the future. I’m not sure this grieving period has a time-scale either, so you’re stuck there as long as you allow yourself to be. We allow our thinking to pave the future in our subconscious. We make excuses in public. We feel awkward. We apologise, a lot.

I admit I struggled when I realised my child may have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and some autistic traits. My child? No, not my child; yet he ticked every box! Things started to make sense. He wasn’t just sensitive, he was overloaded and couldn’t cope. They weren’t tantrums 40 times a day, they were meltdowns from sensory overload. He wasn’t sniffing everything just because. He wasn’t repeating everything to be rude, it was echolalia. He wasn’t being awkward about his clothes being just right. He wasn’t being naughty when he had a screaming fit because plans changed. He wasn’t being silly about refusing his nails being cut. He wasn’t just sensitive when smells made him cry. He was overloaded. His senses are literally in control (or out of control) of his every thought. This breaks my heart. I cannot fix it. His momma cannot fix it.

How as a momma did I not know something was wrong? I’d have done things so differently. I would have been more patient. I wouldn’t have made him have time-out for every meltdown that occurred. I wouldn’t have yelled when he wouldn’t try a new recipe. I wouldn’t tell him he was rude when he wouldn’t acknowledge people or say goodbye.  I could kick myself now looking back. How did I not know?! But life is too short for regrets.

I was in denial for a long time. I was grieving the life I thought I’d lost, but I was wrong. Nothing has changed, except my knowledge and recognition. This is the life we have, my boy has. He’s not defined by a label. His brain may be wired a little differently to the average person, but that doesn’t make him weird or less of a person, and as soon as I excepted that we were able to approach things differently.

When I first began piecing things to together and understanding that my son most likely had SPD I used to cry in private, I used to sob.

I felt like my heart was being torn in two. I think it was part shock and part relief. Shock that my baby, my sweet innocent boy had something wrong, and relief that finally we didn’t have to plod along and struggle our way through each day alone anymore.

I think when our children are diagnosed with disorders we, as parents, are often so worried about the stigma attached to those disorders that we are the ones with the actual problem. We fret so much about what others think that we often do more harm than good. We have to except the circumstances ourselves, and once we do that nothing will hinder our perception of the disorders. We have a huge responsibility as a parent to ensure that our kids childhoods are not something they are going to have to spend the majority of their adulthood recovering from.

After researching SPD I understood more and more about the challenges my boy was facing, and I became prouder by the second for his accomplishments. Daily life is overwhelming for him sometimes, but he tries so hard. Even simple tasks such as getting dressed are a big accomplishment. I find myself begging the Sock God to be kind and not make the seams irritating today, I hold my breath when labels meet skin. The thought of asking to trim his nails sends shudders down my spine. I am constantly holding my breath waiting for the next reaction armed with calming words and cuddles.

I try and be as patient as possible. That is a key factor with SPD. Anxiety levels are already on the edge daily, and an impatient momma will not help. I’d like to say I have perfected this, but that would be lying. Some days I yell. Some days I cry. Some days I feel mentally exhausted. Some days I am a crap mom.

There is not a second goes by that I am not planning the next moves around the sensory needs of my child. It is a never-ending job and my mission is to avoid meltdowns at all costs. Sometimes that means staying home all day, or spending days speaking about upcoming plans, or swapping housework for an afternoon of cuddles. I am never ever too busy for cuddles, ever. Sometimes it even means joining him under the table to eat at a party where he is overwhelmed with all the people.

I fret about going to the mall, to parties, to peoples houses, to new places, but it never stops me going. I do not want my boy growing up feeling ashamed or lonely. I want him to know it’s OK to feel how he does, and that people understand. I want to teach him healthy strategies to cope with his issues.

I want the best for him. And the best is not me denying there is an issue. The best is not me wallowing in self-pity and feeling sorry for him and his future. The best is instilling self worth into him every single day.

I need to remember that he is highly sensitive to the world around him, and that even on calm days he probably feels like a tornado has just buzzed around him.

There are some things that I cannot stand, one of those being veins. Even the word makes me cringe. If I see veins or hear someone talking about them I feel sick, and weird. My boy sees and hears veins every minute of his life, except it’s not veins it is smells, noises, textures, crowds, bright lights. The whirring of the wind, drills, and unfamiliar music are all veins to him. This keeps things in perspective.

SPD wares you out as a momma, but imagine how much more it wears out the child who has it? Momma, your tears won’t change the future, but your perception of SPD will. More patience, more cuddles, less apologies to the public will help. You do not have to justify anything to anybody, and if people question the diagnosis let them. Some disabilities are unseen. Momma knows best.

I hope that me sharing a little of our world with you has helped in some way? It is a lonely road, but I am right there cheering you on!

Keep going, tougher days are most likely ahead, but plod on through the tears, the meltdowns, the aggression, the misconceptions, the brick walls – your kid needs you!

Casdon Toy Chip n Pin Shopping Till Review

My 3 year old and 4 year old absolutely love roleplay. They love playing shops and market stalls, so you can imagine how excited they were to try out this new Casdon Toy Chip n Pin Shopping Till!

The Casdon Toy Chip n Pin Shopping Till is perfect for pretend play. The till is functional and has a working calculator. There is also a role of till receipt that can be scrolled and teared. The till has a pretend microphone attatched and a pretend bar code scanner too.

The chip n pin machine attached to the till also works, and each card provided has its own pin number. You have to enter the correct pin number in order for the light to turn green. I think this is a great feature. It really helps with numbers, memory, and also fine motor skills. My 3 year old did get a little cross trying to enter the correct numbers, but my 4 year old loved being able to use his bank card to pay for his food.

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The Casdon Toy Chip n Pin Shopping Till also comes with both plastic and paper currency, 4 boxes of pretend food, and also 3 pretend tins of food.

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This till is so much more than a toy! It really promotes cause-and-effect, and hand-eye co-ordination, and is such a fab way for kids to understand the process of shopping and paying for items.

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We have really enjoyed testing out the Casdon Toy Chip n Pin Shopping Till, and would highly recommend it to boys and girls aged 3 to 6.

 

Cloudbabies Review

My boys both love watching Cloudbabies, particularly my 3yo, so you can imagine their delight when we had some Cloudbabies goodies sent through the post. My 3yo received a Baba Yellow, and my 4yo received a Baba Blue Blankie.

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Baba Yellow is a plush toy with a plastic dolls head and is for age 2+. Baba yellow retails from £6.99.

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The Baba Blue Blankie is a soft toy with a very soft blanket attached. It retails from £9.99. This soft toy is great for my 4yo who has sensory issues. He loves soft textures, and finds them calming and comforting. He hasn’t put it down yet!

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Cloudbabies have around 8 different toys in their range, and also several books that look fantastic too.

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We love our Cloudbabies, and would highly recommend them!