Friday, 27 November 2015

Interplay Secret Fairy Door Review

Interplay Fairy Door is exactly what it says on the box, a beautiful small fairy door to put on the wall anywhere in your house, it comes with

 

  • Door
  • Tree stickers
  • Fairy
  • Hedgehog
  • Toadstool
  • A host of seasonal stickers
  • Instruction and story book
  • Two keys

 

So the kids chose quite honestly the darkest corner of the house to place our fairy door. It was easy to put together although adult help is needed for some on the more fiddly parts

 

Now I know what you are thinking because I thought so to, 'ok so now what that's not going to hold their imagination for long' Well let me tell you, I explained to the kids that this would be the door through which Smelf and Snowflake (ours elves on the shelf) would come in December. That's all I said but suddenly we were discussing how the kids were 'guardians' of the door.


 

They've also enjoyed decorating the tree in all different seasons although the idea of less is more seems lost at Monkeyfeet HQ and the tree. Now adorned with every single sticker!

 

Most magically of all the big kids have been writing letters to Santa and putting them in the door and 'Santa' has been writing notes back I'm having such fun reading thier notes and writing reply' that I think the door may become a permanent feature it's a lovely way to communicate.

 

With an RRP of £19.99 it's been , in my opinion, great value for money, it looks cool is made well and the kids are loving it.

 

Portable North Pole Review

 

We have used PNP or Portable North Pole to give it its full title, in previous years and my big kids remember it very well but this year it's even better than we've known. For £9.99 you can buy a Gold Pass which gets you...

• Unlimited premium video messages – up to 15 personalisations per video

• Unlimited calls from Santa

• 1 free HD download to keep your special video from Santa

Here's how it works, you choose from 7 different videos, things like Santa's workshop, elves singing or a Christmas Eve fly by. Then you input names, pictures and information about the child. You decide which list they are on, naughty nice or could try harder so Santa can encourage them or praise them. You can mention holidays, achievements even triumphing in tough times and add relevant pictures. The PNP Magic inserts all of your info and you get a great 5 minute movie in which Santa says your child's name and talks about how the year has been.

We love it, it's a great at way to keep the belief going, amazing value for money, it encourages them to be well behaved and rewards and reminds them of the year they've had. It's such a lovely video to watch together and my Golden Child at age 5 was mesmerised answering questions and cheering on his sisters to be on the nice list! Termite at age 2 was a little unsure at first that the bearded man knew her name but has asked to watch it again 17 times in 24 hours! Peanut at age 7 tried to be blasé but magically still believes and this just helped cement the joy!

You can even arrange a phonecall from the man himself! Or personalise a birthday message!

 

PNP also have online games, birthday and Christmas eve messages and even Portable North Pole Greeting cards which are available from Tesco and can be sent with a special personalised video message which is accessed by a unique code sent with the card and they donate 5% of all online sales to 40 children’s hospitals across the world – 4 based in the UK

PNP are holding a Christmas Twitter Frenzy on Thursday, 3rd December, at 1.30 pm can join in all the fun and perhaps bag a prize or two as well! Don’t forget to use the hashtag #PortableNorthPole

 

 

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Win a Bratz Snowkissed Doll

 


The #Snowkissed photobooth is coming to IntuMetrocentre!


 

 

Bratz® photobooth is back by popular demand, with an all-new festive theme, and is visiting intu MetroCentre this weekend!

 

When: Saturday 28 November

Where: intu Metrocentre Shopping Centre Gateshead

Cost: Free activity, no booking required

 

Fully stocked with Bratz props including skis, fur hats and festive accessories the booth is sure to get you in the festive spirit. It’s free and you and all of your friends will receive a copy of your picture to take home with you.

 

Head to Facebook.com/BratzUK and tag yourself in your picture for a chance to win great Bratz prizes including a hamper of Snowkissed goodies. The photobooth will travel across the UK visiting intu Metrocentre, Gateshead (Saturday 28 November) and intu Trafford, Manchester (Saturday 5 December).


Why not hang around at the Metroceentre and catch some of their festive (and free) activities like the Metrognome show or visit Santa, and of course you can finish your festive shopping while you are there!

 

For the full Bratz® photobooth tour schedule and more information see

www.facebook.com/BratzUK


Whats more we have secured one of the new Snowkissed dolls as a prize for our lovely readers and its super easy to enter, just follow the instructions on this tweet and if you aren't on twitter you could pop over and like our facebook page and comment on this post, we will draw a winner on 29/11 at 23.59 from all the entries.


The Bratz Snowkissed photobooth is visiting intu Metrocentre this Saturday and to celebrate we are giving away a fab...
Posted by The Parent Page by Monkey-Feet on Tuesday, 24 November 2015

 


 

 

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Up and Out Christmas Sprout at Northern Stage

It is always a much anticipated day when we go to Northern Stage for their under 6's show, we've been to every one since 2006 and I have no plans to stop!

This years offering tells the tale of Willie Sprout, (Tom Isted) who 'knows his limits' he doesn't like change, or new things. He won't even give up his 'old, small, saggy bottom' pyjamas! His Dad knows that actually the sky is the limit for Willie but how can he convince him?

Cue Hether Grether and the magical Snow Dragon Egg..
Willie is running out of time to get the Dragon Egg back to its rightful place, will he make it? Watch out for some enthusiastic and very funny 'Snagpies' they want your shiny things, and prepare to tap your feet clap your hands and join in with some singing!


The show is amazing it's fast paced and filled with adventure and a truly uplifting story for anyone who's ever had doubts about their capabilities, a perfect lesson for any little (or big) person.

Karen Traynor is a perfect choice for the under 6s show the kids just love her and she is always a joy to watch, Hannah Goudie plays several characters with seamless changes and brilliant accents and we were all taken with Willies Dad (Tim Dalling) who is just lovely and plays so many fantastic instruments through the show AND  he even let us try on his hat!




We all loved his soft shoe shuffle dance and ukulele number! And Willie? Well everyone in the auditorium was rooting for him, cheering him on and encouraging him with no prompting from the performers. He had all of our hearts and my eldest was keen to let him know he was the difference at the end! He had her convinced he'd become a brave explorer for sure!


The Northern Stage team always seem to hit the nail spot on with this little show, the set is beautifully simple and as always cleverly designed to take you along on an airborne adventure. The songs are catchy the costumes are brilliantly made and the story is perfectly written to hold completely the attention of your little ones. We were a party of 5, 2 adults, and children ages 2,5 and nearly 7 and we each loved it equally.

Now I have a 'no Christmas decoration before December' rule in our house but honestly we could have come home and put up the tree after this show it is a full on festive frolic and you shouldn't miss it! If you love Christmas go see it, if you are feeling a lack of festive spirit go see it, if you have little people under 8 go see it, in fact if you are human just GO SEE IT! But be quick tickets sell out fast, book online or call 0191 2305151



Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Win a £50 M&S Giftcard

I've been working recently with the Newcastle Building Society, researching Buy to Let Mortgages (you can read about it here) but also getting to know how this lovely company are moving forward whilst still holding on to local values and and traditions.

When we were young we spent weekends getting our pocket money then taking at least half of it with our savings books to our local Branch of The Newcastle to put the money in our accounts. Now obviously things have moved on since then and you can save for your kids in all sorts of ways you can even catch up with The Newcastle on Facebook or Twitter for all their latest news

To help you save some pennies this Christmas The Newcastle have provided a £50 M and S voucher for one of you lucky readers, meaning you can treat yourselves saving your money to get your little dears started on their saving journe. With rates of up to 2.1% and a bonus for regular deposits, you'll get them started on the road to riches (or at least a nice big pot for their first flat) in no time.

There are loads of ways to enter, just be sure to follow the instructions carefully or your entries wont count.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Depression in Pregnancy


Yep you've read the title and I will guess you are still reading this for one of three reasons

  • You can't understand how anyone could feel depressed during pregnancy
  • You've suffered from feelings of depression, emptiness and loneliness in pregnancy and you want to know you aren't alone. 
  • You know me and you think 'she never seemed depressed' and now you are curious.

So when I was pregnant with Peanut I wanted children soooo much and I was sooooo happy that spending days sobbing silently came as a big shock, I felt so lonely and sad but I had so many reasons to be happy. Baby on the way , fab husband, great job, great house! But still the feelings of sadness crept in followed by feelings of guilt then feelings of panic. It got so bad one day that the husband had to turn the car around on the way to a shopping trip and bring me home so I could literally curl into a ball and sob that I was awful horrible and didn't deserve to have children if I was so sad during pregnancy. My stress levels were through the roof.

Things were slightly better with The Golden Child at first but half way through it all started again. With Termite mostly it was just stress with only small amounts of the sadness.

Here's the thing though, apart from the Mr I've told no one about this until yesterday when I got this message
 'Is it ok to just want to stay in bed all day, completely alone and crying? 
I feel like a shit person, shit wife, shit mum, shit everything. 
How can I feel so low and sad when I should be so happy? 

What should I do?'

I should say I've had this post written for months but never could bring myself to publish it,I feel guilty admitting I was ever anything but blissed out when I was growing my baby.  I'm publishing it today to help my pal feel less alone  but also to help anyone else who's been keeping it to themselves.

I sent my pal a long  message I've taken bits out but this is part of it ...

'I don't tell many this but whilst I love pregnancy being a slave to my hormones means sadness and emptiness are common feelings for me followed by guilt for not being filled with joy!'

And we chatted more she asked what I did, I said I talked to my man who's answer is always 'you'll be fine', oddly frustrating but it always really helps me to hear him say it. Lord help me The day he meets my stress with 'oh my god what the heck are we gonna do' I may explode!

So here's the thing, ages ago I was told by someone I knew that they were refused their adoption application because the wife suffered from Bi-polar.She hadn't come off her meds or been non compliant in over 15 years but that tag on her medical file stayed with them. Because of that and because adoption is something we had talked about so I felt a huge pressure to never tell anyone how I was feeling during my pregnancy especially not my midwife! I didn't want that on my records, I couldn't be the person who spoiled our plans. The truth is I'm not sure it would have had any bearing on an adoption application but the fear gets to you. 

But more than that I felt guilty and ashamed, how could I possibly say that I felt depressed when there are people in the world desperate for babies, is that not like rubbing salt in their wounds, and if I say out loud that my pregnancy isn't all I expected and for no reason at all I want to shut the door and stay inside some days then will someting bad happen to my baby?

Yes these were the thoughts in my head! And a quick request on facebook to see if anyone else felt the same saw me recieve plenty of messages from people who had. Claire from Emmy'sMummy   worried so much during her pregnancy because of previous miscarraiges that she didnt feel able to enjoy the pregnancy, but also felt so guilty feeling like that especially in light of all the extra help and support she had had from medical staff that she never said anything, lots more messages and the theme is always the same 'I felt guilty and ashamed'. I even heard  'My midwife put it down to hormones' more than once, if you feel like its more than that you must say so, there is no gain from suffering alone. It turns out that between 8-20% of women suffer pre natal depression, now I figure thats the women who admit to it and actually that number is larger

There are so many reasons you can feel depressed, maybe like me you willsuffer crippling   SPD and spend your time stuck in alone feeling more and more isolated, or you are a slave to your hormones and cant shake of those blues, perhap previous miscarraige casts a shadow or you just cant pinpoint any reason. Because there sometimes aren't any. The thing is no amount of reasoning discounts the importance of talking about it, tell someone, speak to your midwife or health visitor and if they don't help see a doctor, talk to your family and friends. We will never break the taboo surrounding depression, at any time of life, unless we start talking about it and shaking off the shame.

Being depressed does not make you ungrateful or undesserving of your pregnancy and it doesnt make you a bad parent, saying out loud 'this isn't how I thought it would be' will not mean something bad should or will happen to you, but talking about it is the first step to feeling better and getting help

So if you feel like this please talk to someone and if you have a pal who feels like this let her know you are there to listen, you arent judging and she is not alone. We need to stand together to feel stronger 

While researching Prenatal depression I found these websites helpful and I hope they will help others too PANDAS and TOMMYS

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this and any experience you have. 




Monday, 9 November 2015

My Favourite Places in Newcastle

I was recently asked by Travelodge to share my favourite place in Newcastle, it sounded Really easy, we have places we visit over and over again so we must have a favourite right?

Not quite! We couldn't decide on one so here are our top five Newcastle favourites from Monkeyfeet HQ 

Tyne Theatre and Opera House
A beautiful traditional Theatre right next to Newcastle's China Town. The Tyne are host to a huge range of shows from family favourites like cat in the hat, ballet, opera to one person shows from big names like Sarah Millican and Gino D'acampo. We love a visit here so the kids have this as one of their top days out.


I make no secret that Northern Stage is one of my favourite theatres to visit, a quite modern building they offer productions created totally in house as well as touring productions from around the country. Our favourites here are their family Christmas shows which we visit every year.This years ofeerigs of Up and Out Christmas Sprout and Wizard of Oz are sure to be amazing.

A guaranteed fun day out learning all there is about life, with lots of exhibits and plenty of hands on experiences and experiments this is always a first choice for a boredom buster! The Centre houses a soft play and toddler zone, a cafe, gift shop and various exhibitions throughout the year. With loads of friendly knowledgeable staff on hand to answer questions or help out with the experiments.

I discovered this cafe just recently when I found myself with an hour to kill in the Ouseburn  Valley in Newcastle. The farm houses a small range of animals and a beautiful allotment full of home grown produce and the cafe make almost everything themselves and are priced surprisingly low. two giant cups of tea a savoury pastry and a slice of delicious cake came in under £5! The cafe provide training for adults with additional needs as well as a great resource for local families to learn about farming and growing. I would highly recommend a visit to while away an afternoon.

The Millenium Bridge
It may sound strange as its not a place to eat or even do any activities but we love a stroll along the quayside across the Millenium Bridge, no matter how many times the kids see the 'eye blink' they, and me i will admit, are still amazed. Its a beautiful sight at night  too and an amazing spot for people watching

What are your favourite places to visit in Newcastle? Id love to hear about them 



This is a collaborative post



Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Buy to Let, Should We?


I've made no secret that our financial planning for our Golden Years has been a little lax, and so we've been looking at ways to feather our nest for the future.

One idea we keep coming back to is buying a property to let out, saving the profit from rental income and also having a property in years to come which we can sell off or move into.

But there are so many questions surrounding this, most importantly is will we make enough to make this a viable pension plan?

But we also need to consider the type of property we want to buy, so far we've looked mostly at flats and apartments as they seem easier to rent out, but then should we look at something we might want to down size to in the future? Maybe a wee bungalow or cottage.Ater all we arent going to need a big family house forever are we?

  • Do we need to employ a letting agent or should we save that commission charge and do it all ourselves?
  • What if the tenant doesn't pay? We watch these documentaries about repossession from tenants who owe thousands in rent and its a scary thought!
  • What are our legal obligations?
  • What about tax?
  • would it be better to buy a larger property in the hope that a family would move in and stay long term? rather than potentially have to re let every 6-12 months.


Well all of these questions have made for lots of debate at Monkeyfeet HQ, and searching Google brings up as many nightmare stories as it does success, as is the way with Google! Thankfully help has come from a local source. The Newcastle Building society have produced a guide to becoming a landlord, including printable checklist, and you all know I love a checklist!

Theres information about tax implications and what your responsibilities are as well as a guide to read through before you make the decision.

So I think we've pin pointed certain things to think about in our 'nest feathering plan'

  1. We need to choose a location that has plenty of interest from potential tenants, but also is somewhere we would consider for one of the kids to love, because lets face it they may need help getting on the ladder when the time comes
  2. We need to make sure we are declaring any property income on our tax return, any rofit from this is of course taxable and I know people have have fallen foul of thinking it doesnt need to be declared.
  3. Theres lots of property safety checks and security checks to carry out and because of this its probably best for us as newbies to go through an agent rather than go it alone. Maybe in the future when we have more confidence we can look at running the show, but not yet.
  4. We really need somewhere that isn't going to need lots of repairs and work as we don't really have the time or budget for that.

So with all that in mind I guess its time to start viewing some potential properties!

Are you a landlord or a tenant? What would your advice be Id love to hear either perspective. Especially any tips or hints you can offer?