Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 Round Up

As I sit here in my PJ's waiting to see if I stay awake to see midnight, with my children sleeping peacefully, my belly full of Chinese takeaway, I can reflect happily on a lovely year. 

This year saw the arrival of our beautiful Termite, completing our family and best of all I achieved my dream of a home birth as she was born at home peacefully and happily. 

Our peanut started reception and has blossomed and learned lots and lots including how to read which I'm puffed with pride to say she is really good at.

The Golden Child has started nursery and we've seen him grow in confidence developing friendships independent of his big sister, and turning into a real chatter box. 

Personally I'm proud of my blog, it may not be huge yet but my followers are growing and I feel pleased to have been approached by some amazing companies to review their products.

I'm sure we must have been through some lows but all in all our 2013 has rocked and I hope we can continue through 2014 as happily as we have been. Happy New Year to you all. I hope all of your dreams come true. 

Monday, 30 December 2013

Four Months!!! Where did that go?

Christmas Day saw my Termite become exactly 4 months! I can't believe it, the time has flown by. I know its cliche but I feel like I blinked and the last four months  has gone!

In the last four months my girl has learned to smile, grab, giggle, gurgle, chatter, roll and melt our hearts. 

She has been instrumental in my learning some very important things..

  • Its not worth stressing the small stuff
  • The housework will still be there tomorrow 
  • Baby cuddles pass too quickly and should be grabbed and savoured
  • It is possible to cook dinner, help with homework, load the dishwasher and breast feed all at the same time (not easy, but possible)
  • Relaxed mummy's = relaxed baby's
  • Three is really the perfect number (for us and for now anyway!) 
I've also discovered some brilliant items in the last four months, we have loved and well used our snugglebundl despite not having a C-section I still found it helpful for moving Termite around,  Tots Bots Easy Fit  have become our nappy of choice. they are so easy to use and sooooo cute, and my Close Baby Carrier has been amazing, so helpful when you are busy and want to keep baby close.
I'm sure the next four months will whizz by too, in a flurry of baby massage, weaning, mummy groups, mamalates and splash and sing. I cant wait!

Silent Sunday


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Fun Filled Festive Season

Whatever you celebrate I hope December 25th brings rest, happiness, health and family fun 

Lots of love from the Monkeyfooted ones

Friday, 20 December 2013

Theatre Review, Tallest Tales From The Furthest Forest

I love visiting the theatre and I love that the Monkeyfooted ones love coming  with me, so it's always a happy day when we head off to see The Under 6's Christmas  Show at Northern Stage.

Off we set on a Saturday morning with my children chomping at the bit to get to their seats. 

The show starts before any performance has begun, in fact as soon as you walk through the doors to a transformed theatre. Gone is the normal seating configuration in favour of a theatre in the round, not just any old theatre though thanks to some excellent set design by Andrew Stephenson you are transported into a magical forest complete with birds tweeting. Children can sit right down at the front on comfortable cushioned mats.  The excitement builds as the Theatre fills and then a hush falls as The Leshies appear. Leshies are story telling, song singing, forest dwelling creatures and today they are helping a lost girl. She's had a fight with her father and found herself lost in a forest where she is told lots of stories, all of course with a lesson to be learned. 

This show is amazing and all three of my children sat transfixed , yes even Termite at a mere 15 weeks old loved it, the story is beautifully written by Susan Mulholland and brought to life by brilliantly talented Director Mark Calvert. With excellent performances from Ruth johnson, Alice Blundell, Michael Blair and Tom Walton. There are songs strories, interactive bun fights and puppets, even a dancing dough child! I won't spoil that part but it was the highlight of the show for me. 

Tickets are selling rapidly but if you can get your hands on some I can't recommend it highly enough. The show runs until 4th January and you can book online or call Box Office on 0191-2305151 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Christmas Gift Guide, Coconut Mice

We've just made these as gifts for our teachers, dressed up in a nice bag or tin they're a fab gift and so fun and easy to make. Best of all these take less than 15 minutes. 

250g icing sugar
200g condensed milk
200g desiccated coconut 
Pink food colouring
Chocolate buttons
Strawberry laces 
Glacé Cherries

How to make them

Mix icing sugar food colouring milk and coconut in a bowl until it forms a firm dough, if it's too sloppy add a bit more icing sugar and coconut.

Using a dessert spoon form elongated spheres from the mix. Pinch the front end to form a nose. Using the chocolate buttons for ears a quarter, of a cherry for a nose and the laces for tails build your mice. You can also use  cake decorating balls for eyes.

Et voilà, very cute coconut mice. But be warned the mix is very moorish. Mmmmmmmm yummy!

What's your favourite Christmas recipe?

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Christmas Tradition

I hate Christmas Cards! There I've said it, I think they are wasteful, not just money this isn't about me being a Scrooge but they are a waste of resources and the Green Hippy in me just doesn't sit well with them. 

Please don't get me wrong I love Christmas I love seeing family, singing carols, seeing the Christmas shows, I love every flavour and smell of Christmas food mmmmm it's so good. 

But here in Monkeyfeet Towers we have a tradition of re using our cards. I know it sounds cheap and like something from a bad tv show but stick with me here....

When Peanut was born we purchased cards for all of us, one each to Mum, Daddy, Husband, Wife, Daughter and now Son and another Daughter. Every year we write a new message normally relating to something the kids do or say at the time.  Every year we read through previous messages and it always raises a smile in fact it always make us giggle.

I love that in the years to come we have a really nice reminder of Christmases gone by and I hope the kids take this tradition into their own families in the future.

What is your favourite family tradition, leave a comment and let me know. I love hearing from you all.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Christmas Gift Guide, Turtlemeter by Ozeri

If you have a mum to be or baby/young child to buy for this this Christmas I think this is a great gift. I will admit that I wasn't sure how much enthusiasm I could put into a review of a bath thermometer! I mean you chuck them in the bath check the temperature, throw your kids in and try not to get soaked right?

So I surprised myself when I actually squealed in delight on first use of this thermometer! No I'm not joking at all, but let me start at the beginning 

The Turtlemeter is made by Ozeri and sold on amazon for £9.99. It arrived in easy to open moulded plastic so no cutting involved. It's a lovel size and has a really cute face. The kids loved it and it was played with for quite a while before it even made it to the bathroom.

There was I sitting in my bath totally forgetting the turtle when The Golden Child ran in shouting 'mammy mammy can the turtle come in, this of course was accompanied by the removal of clothes so I knew my peaceful wallow was about to be destroyed. In came the turtle, and the monkeyfooted ones. Thats when I squealed, it activates as soon as it hits the water and the colour light immediately let's you know if it's safe. Blue for cold, red for hot and Green for just right. It updates it's reading every second so is totally accurate.Its alos so fun we kept lifting him out so he went off the plunging him back in again! Such fun!

See our video here....

I can't think of any drawbacks to this, it's fun, well made, and the kids love it. Actually scrap that the one drawback is the kids love it so much I may never bathe in peace again (as if I didn't lose that privilege when I became a mum) 

We were sent this turtle free of charge to reveiw, but all opinions are those of family monkeyfeet

Monday, 16 December 2013

Wreath Making with Hobbycraft

We are great fans of Hobbycraft, we've already enjoyed some of their childrens crafting sets, so when we were asked to have a look at their wreath making supplies we were very excited.

The kit arrived really quickly and we had been sent a wreath, a hanging acorn and a bunch of fruity and floral decorations.

We separated all of the individual pieces from the bunch so that we could spread them around the wreath, and in the spirit of fairness and because I had two little helpers, we each took a few pieces to take turns in adding. All of the decorative bits came on flexible wire which is really easy to attach to the wreath securely (although little hands will need some grown up help).

We attached the acorn using the hanging string at the top and I had some lovely Christmas ribbon left over from last year so we added our own little bow. I have to tell you I'm uber proud of our creation and its hanging in pride of place on our front door, giving a warm Christmas Welcome to all our visitors.

I can't think of any negatives of this project.  The  wreaths are reasonably priced, good quality and easy to put together. We all got involved and it has turned out smashing! Best still Hobbycraft have an amazing selection of Christmas bits and bobs on 3 for 2.

Will you be making your own Christmas creations this year, I'd love to hear about your projects in the comment box.

***Hobbycraft kindly sent us these products  to review but the opinions in this post are all those of Family Monkeyfeet

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Portable North Pole Really Does Make Christmas Magic

Imagine a video message from Santa addressing your child by NAME and telling them if they are on the nice or naughty list.... Well that's exactly what Portable North Pole (PNP) is all about. So when I was asked to take a look at their Premium Service I was very excited.

The service is easy to use, simply log in or register then choose who you are having the video made for, and choose, naughty, nice or a bit of both. There is a free version where you can a add photos,  a special event and information about what the child is trying to do, for example we had Santa say to Peanut ' I hear you are working hard to control your temper' which is so relevant at the moment and something we are all working on together. With the premium version you can add extra scenes and more photographs of events. Creating the video took about 10 minutes which to me is just right any longer and I start to give up a little and rush through things.

Peanut and The Golden Child Watching the video

The kids loved watching the video and at the risk of sounding like the most evil mum in the world... I now have the perfect tool to nip any naughtiness in the bud. 'Right Mammy is calling Santa, because remember he said you have to work harder to make it onto the nice list!'. and yes it does work

I'm fully aware that soon the years will come where my children no longer believe but just for now this has been the perfect bit of Christmas Magic. At £2.99 the premium version is well worth the money, we had Santa mention our new arrival, with a picture of Termite, he spoke of our trip to see Grandad complete with a lovely photo and there were lots of extra scenes, plus for my lovely monkeyfeet fans there is 20%% off with code BLG20BKP

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Secret Diary of Smelf The Elf on The Shelf part 2

Monday 9th December 

Last night I climbed the curtains and propped myself on the curtain pole, oh how the kids got a shock when the mummy one opened the curtains they laughed and laughed. The mummy one hasn't put the decorations up yet, such a Scrooge, so I'm going to add a little festive cheer tonight..

Tuesday 10th  December 

I met a fish called Nermie today he lives with the Monkeyfooted ones. I hung out by his tank and had a chat, The boy child is really good at finding me though and noticed straight away, his mummy thinks he's really good at noticing new things and claims she can never get away with anything. I think she's talking about when she sneakily eats sweets in the kitchen, I must go find her stash of sweets soon, maybe I will share them with the kids...

Wednesday 11th December 

Ha ha I found the stash and ate some. I didn't share it with the kids though because the boy child caught me and told his mum grr

Thursday 12th  December 

Last night I crept into all the bedrooms and put up some little trees to cheer all the children up. They are getting so excited for Christmas but mummy claims it's making them crazy loons! I think she says that because they don't seem able to sit still and quite often don't settle straight to sleep on a night.

Friday 13th December  

Today I made stars for the children out of thier drinking straws, they thought they were great and the mummy one helped them make some more, she said they can hang them up when the tree goes up. She's being rather slow getting the tree up this year though! 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Secret Diary of Smelf the Elf on the Shelf

Sunday 1st December 

I arrived at monkeyfeet towers and thought I would get straight to work getting ready the advent calendars for the children, I think the Termite may be a bit too small for hers but the Monkeyfooted mummy seems to be helping out by eating the chocolate. 

Monday 2nd December 

Today the one they call Peanut turned 5 and she got a lovely big playhouse it has two chimneys so tonight I'm going to try to climb down one just like Santa does..,

Tuesday 3rd December

Last nights attempt was unsuccessful tonight I'm going in through the letterbox 

Wednesday 4th December 

I see now why it's left to Santa to deliver the presents. I got stuck in the letterbox and the kids laughed at me this morning!

I did  meet a nice girl called Snow White last night though she was telling me how the peanut one keeps taking of her lovely gown and putting her in different dresses I think I might look for her again ..,

Thursday 5th December

Had a lovely evening dancing with Snow (she said I could call her that) last night but tonight I think I will check out the kitchen it's about time I got myself some good food

Friday 6th December 

Trapped again, I fell clear into the jar of Cheerios and remained there until
Morning when the kids found me they thought it was great fun I'm aching all over though and the termite one drooled all over me when the Boy child put me in the bouncy chair! 

Saturday 7th December

The whole family went out today so me and some guys I met, Woody and Buzz they're called, went horse riding, such fun. 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Secret Shopping

For many many years I worked in Customer focused environments, I'm passionate about good service and bad service boils my blood! That said I would like to say to anyone who works in customer service... WELL DONE! The general public can be completely bonkers, rude, insane, difficult, hysterical and totally stupid. The job is tough yet fun so when I became a SAHM I started looking at becoming a Secret Shopper, it would mean being rewarded for something I do anyway, and it means I still get to have an effect on Customer Services ( yes yes I found it hard to adjust to not being a worker anymore OK!)

I signed up with MarketForce which is a really simple process, you give them details, and then check back to see if there are any assignments suitable for you. So far we have eaten out in local restaurants, had some fast food, shopped some clothing stores and supermarkets and even reported on airport services. There are always lots of opportunities and we make money as well as having most of our costs covered.

When you have completed the assignment you fill out a questionnaire online then you get paid directly to your bank, SIMPLES.

I really enjoy my assignments and it means we get to try things we maybe wouldn't have normally If you are interested in trying it out you can sign up through my refferal link  here.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

What Will You Be Having For Christmas Lunch

I bemoan the rising cost of food all the time, our food bill is high, I'm always looking for ways to save money and cut down waste but I'm lucky, I can afford to pop along to the shop and buy something for tea whenever I want. There are parents in this country, in your town maybe even in your street, who can't afford 3 meals a day, mums who sit and watch their children eat whilst they go hungry because there isn't enough food for them hoping there may be a scrap left at the end for mum!!! 

Picture credit mirror.co.uk

I've just signed an online petition started by Jack Monroe an amazingly inspirational woman who has been in this situation and tackled it with, in my opininion, a will of steel. She wants the government to look at the root cause of this problem and make changes and I'm with her, imagine sitting in the dark and cold with no gifts for your children this Christmas  because there really isn't enough money to have lights heating and food.

Food banks are being used 3 times more this year than at the same time last year which is a shocking increase. So I'm asking everyone I know to read this and sign if it moves you like it moved me. 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Christmas Gift Guide, Little Bird Told Me...

Well to be honest I wish someone had told me about 'Little Bird' before now, ooh they are lovely a website filled with wonderful things for babies and toddlers. They sell traditional toys specifically designed to encourage explorative play using gorgeous textures and colours.

However, I'd not heard of them until I was invited to choose a product to review, and I was a bit like a kid in a sweet shop I couldn't  choose from all the lovely things. Looking sensibly at their range I chose the Musical Twinkles Cot Toy from the Billowy Butterfly Collection because Termite is now at an age to appreciate this type of toy and we'd not yet found anything we liked for her elswhere. it seems lots of cot toys on offer from other stores are plastic plastic and more plastic! 

It arrived in a lovely package and I was immediately impressed, delivery was super quick and the quality is brilliant. The toy  itself is soft and plush, but not fluffy, and it is well stitched.

Although it's a cot toy it does fit nicely in our crib and Termite loves to hear the music and watch the lights, it's simple to use, you just pull the cord, and not too loud (thank you Little Bird) and best of all it doesn't need batteries.

Little bird can be found on Twitter and Facebook and or at www.littlebirdtoldme.co.uk Where you will find  a whole host of gorgeous things. Next on my wish list is the Papa Bear Hug Toy which I think Termite will get for Christmas. Peanut is trying to convince the daddy one that he should order one of these beautiful Tennyson Rocking Horses for her present, and without a doubt this gorgeous Red Doodle and Crumb Infant Rocker is going to be in our house just as soon as Termite is big enough. 

I can safely say I'm won over and have become a fan of this lovely brand I cant think of anything negative to say about our lovely Twinkle toy and if I had an unlimited stash of cash I could easily buy at least a dozen things right now, so I'm off to write a list for the grandparents who are always asking for gift inspiration for the kids.

What do you think of the range, what would you choose for your little people, let me know in the comments box I love to hear from you all.

***Little Bird Told Me kindly sent us this toy to review but the opinions in this post are all those of Family Monkeyfeet

Monday, 2 December 2013

How Did That Happen

Five years ago at this very moment I was sitting in a side room of our local hospital looking in awe at a teeny scrunched up pointy headed little girl. 

In what feels like the blink of an eye we have just watched her open her birthday presents before packing her off to school. SCHOOL!!! My baby has grown so fast into a super clever, kind, caring, loving, funny, dramatic, creative, dress loving, singing and dancing, amazing little girl.

As a friend recently and very correctly said to me 'when you have you children the days may seem long but the years are short' and by is she right I know the next 5 years are going to whizz by so I'm going to hold on to every single moment of amazing-ness. 

Now I'm off to sob into my tea thinking about how quickly my kids are growing! I love hearing from you all so don't forget to leave me a comment. 

Friday, 29 November 2013

Christmas Gift Guide - Personal Planner Review

I was very excited when I was contacted by the lovely people at personal planner, especially as they were already on my Christmas list.

See there's that word, LIST, I love a list, at home I have a kitchen blackboard for meal planning, a hall blackboard for the kids activities, I have to do lists, shopping lists and task lists for the house! Give me a spreadsheet and I'm a happy girl. I sometimes think that all the organisational skills I used at work have manifested themselves into my home now that I'm a sahm.

So as soon as I had 5 minutes without children (well as soon as they were all asleep) I was logged on to www.personal-planner.co.uk and creating my new book. It's dead easy, step by step you are guided through choosing all the different options, front cover, back cover, page colour, personalising the pages with lists etc, adding birthdays and special dates, then choosing your back sections. You can have future years displayed, lined or squared paper, even music sheets, maps or colouring pages. I, like many of my mummy friends, chose the colouring pages. What can I say the kid in me was excited at the option to have something to colour in! 

I chose the large size as it's the same dimensions as Termites baby health record book so will sit nicely in my changing bag. I also love photo gifts so the obvious choice was to have my two current favourite pictures as the front and back cover. 

You even get to choose what colour elastic you want, to hold your book closed. Inside there's a sheet to put your details in case the planner gets lost and a plastic pocket for storage of paper etc, although mine is used for my pen.

For my weekly lists I have, Preschool, To Do, List of the Week and Idea of the week. I love that I have enough space to list my household chores, appointments, activities, and blog ideas each day plus have special lists as well! It's like an organising junkies dream.

The planner took around ten minutes to create, I didn't add birthdays as I like to write everything myself, plus I have alarms in my phone for everyone's birthday. Delivery took less than a week and my planner arrived at my door in a lovely box. 

I love this planner and I think it would make a great gift for anyone but mums especially will appreciate how helpful it is for family life. The photos are nice and clear and the pages are lovely quality thick paper.

I'm sad to say both my husband and children have had their mits on MY book Termite as you can see 'needed' to colour one of my pictures. And I shan't go into the display of vandalism that was my husband SCRAWLING a telephone number across Christmas week!! 

I can't think of any negatives to this it really does tick all my boxes, and box ticking,as you may have guessed, is one of my favourite things!

If you'd like to win a personal planner those lovely folks have given me a digital code that one of you lucky lot can redeem against any size planner. Simply fill out the raffle copter options below and a winner will be drawn on 8th December. Please be sure to fill out all your entries correctly, as incomplete entries can't be included in the draw. 

Personal Planner sent this item to review free of charge but all opinions are our own. 

Competition T and C's apply.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Brilliant Baby Wipes

I've just removed my makeup with a baby wipe (yes my Clarins lady would be itching to smack my hand for this sacrilidge but they were handy and efficient) it's probably the tenth thing I've cleaned today with them! They are so versatile and easy to use, always to hand and I've got packets in almost every room and in the car.

Pampers Sensitive Maximum Care wipes

Today's uses have been

  • Dusting the tv unit
  • Cleaning the baby sick from the arm of the sofa
  • Claning the baby sick from my t shirt before the school run (hanging head in shame but I know you've all done it!)
  • Wiping pasta sauce from  The Golden Child's face and hands
  • Cleaning Pasta Sauce off a Sweatshirt!
  • Taking the mucky hand prints off the light switches
  • Cleaning peanut's school boots
  • Cleaning the whiteboard

So I'm starting a meme to see how many different uses we can find for baby wipes I'm tagging

Kate from Family Fever
Chantelle from Mama Mummy Mum

Let's post our blog links on twitter when we've listed with #wonderfulwipes and see what we come up with. 

Monday, 25 November 2013

The Results Are In

Nursery Trader Best Baby and Toddler Gear Awards

We recently took part in the testing for Nursery Trader  Best Baby and Toddler Gear Awards and the results are in.

We tested two categories, Disposable Nappies and British Design and Made. My most favourite items to test were Tots Bots 

  I was however very surprised at the differences between the different disposables. I will be writing a review of the items we tested very soon.

Ive really enjoyed taking part in the testing but cant imagine the work that has gone on behind the scenes coordinating deliveries and results and compiling data from around 100 testers, phew I'm exhausted just thinking about it

The Perils and Pitfalls of Property

A short while ago Spartacus and I found a bargain property for sale locally, after much discussion we decided that as part of our pension fund it would be a great investment and so we put in an offer. This was quickly accepted but at no point during our dealings with the estate agent did they mention any serious structural problems. One week and £380 later we were informed that we wouldn't be given a mortgage because of a host of issues, no fitted bathroom and no fitted kitchen along with some structural issues. Out of pocket but thankfully armed with the knowledge that we had not bought a money pit, we were cross to find out that we had been the fourth set of buyers to employ a surveyor and infact the estate agent knew the results of the previous 3 survey which had all said the same.


This whole situation left us feeling a little angry but on discussion with other home buyers we feel like we have had a lucky escape, at least our surveyor found the faults. Some people have been affected terribly by surveyors negligence, not discovering until properties have been bought that there are serious problems that need fixing, dry rot and subsidence can be costly and worse still dangerous if left unresolved. We ourselves have had a 'drive by survey' during a recent remortgage.A practice which it seems is more common than you would think, this practice means valuations are being placed on property's based on age and surrounding area, unfortunately this method can't possibly highlight any areas for concern for example older electrics or evidence of copper piping or inadequate cavity wall ties.

In our experience and in my humble and non professional opinion, if you find yourself looking at property to buy always use an independent chartered surveyor, a list of which can be found on RICS

Sponsored post

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Christmas Crafting

This morning saw the eagerly awaited arrival of our Godmother, and she came bearing gifts from Hobby Craft. The thing I love the most about this situation is she is fully prepared to roll up her sleeves and oversee the crafting chaos.

The kids had lots of fun painting money boxes.

Then they moved on to spoon puppets

and that's where it started to spiral...., you see when kids (well certainly my kids) hear the word puppet they think of puppet shows. Peanut suggested she might use a box to 'build a stage'. No finer words could be said to Mummy and the Godmother! Soon enough there was cutting and sticking and box rearrangement happening 

Within half an hour we had cut rectangles from the front and back of a medium box then stuck it onto another to form a base, mummy's sewing box scraps and sewing machine had been put to use to make curtains and Peanut was using some old packaging to make 'snowy hills'. 

And then there was the show