The Peter Rabbit Library

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I'm sure all of us grown adults know, or have read the Peter Rabbit books during our time. The beautiful stories by Beatrix Potter that had us all hooked as children. I miss those days. Now, when I read books to the boys, it's about cartoon characters or action heroes.

So when The Works said that we could choose something from their website to review, I chose the Peter Rabbit Library purposely, so that I could show the boys something different, something that I used to read when I was small. 

The Peter Rabbit Library is a set of 10 beautifully illustrated tales, each told with Beatrix Potter's trademark wit. The book set comes in a super pretty case, and all beautifully colourful. A full colour set of 10 hardback tales that will set the imagination alight. 

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The collection of 10 books include:

The Tale of Peter Rabbit
The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin
The Tailor of Gloucester
The Tale of Two Bad Mice
The Tale of Mrs. Twiggy-Winkle
The Tale of Benjamin Bunny
The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher
The Tale of Tom Kitten
The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck
The Tale of The Flopsy Bunnies

The stunning writing of Beatrix Potter brings flooding back, childhood memories of my parents reading the stories to me when I was a kid. The illustrations which are beautiful and colourful, taking us on the journey along the way.

At the moment, Thomas is a little too young to be able to read the whole stories on his own. There is a lot more reading than other books he reads. But for me, these are the perfect bedtime stories. Ones that I can read to the boys and to fill their minds with fluffy animals and fun before bedtime.

The stories are beautiful and inspiring, I love them and the boys do too. So far, my favourite is The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck whereas the boys love the story of The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

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Not only do I think that this set is a perfect item for your children to cherish and read as they grow up, but it would be the perfect gift for any young child too.

The Peter Rabbit Library has an RRP of £35 but The Works currently have it on sale for only £12.99 which is fantastic when you think about it, 10 books for that small price. 

You can find The Peter Rabbit Library, many more books and stationary on The Works Website.

Birthday Play at Jungle Kids

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I know that this is a week late but I just haven't had a chance to get it written up at all. 

Last Friday, Thomas turned 5 year old. To surprise him, we had invited his friend, Macey, to come with us to a place called Jungle Kids. Jungle Kids is a sort play area which has a huge play structure inside. 

The play area includes slides, crawl tubes, cargo nets, ball canyon, dizzy disc, ball pools and a soft play area for younger children as well as a football and basketball area.

We have never visited before so thought that Thomas' birthday would be the perfect day to visit and try out the place since we had heard so many good things about it. 

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I wasn't expecting it to be quite so huge as it was. The kids loved it. Running around, jumping, swinging, playing, sliding, just enjoying themselves. Charlie got a little scared when the others went down the big slide so I had to go into the play area to go and play get him. 

After having a long play, the kids came and sat down for lunch and a rest and then got straight back to playing after the food was gone. 

We spent a good few hours playing there and having a fun day and then went home to rest before our evening meal out. 

You can read more about them on the Jungle Kids Website.


Getting It Sorted... Eventually!

I don't really know what to say in this post. Just really to explain why I've been a bit quiet recently. Not posting as much as usual. Yes, reviews and such have gone live, but not family posts like they normally would. Not being social over Facebook or Twitter, it's not because I am busy doing something else, something fun. But actually, quite the opposite. 

My husband has had a back problem for years. Every few months it would flare up, the muscles would spasm and the GP he was with at the time didn't do a thing. Gave him painkillers and sent him on his way. 

Last year though, he transferred to the same GP as the rest of the family. Then his back got worse. Constant pains from about Christmas last year, throbbing, stabbing pains shooting through his back and down his legs.

And you know what? The GP's actually gave a damn this time. Trying to work out why his back was so painful and organising for my husband to go for an MRI scan to find out, once and for all, what was wrong with his back.

So in march this year, the time came for the scan. A week later, we got the results. He has 2 bulged discs at the bottom of his back, one bulges to the right, and the other to the left. These were pushing out onto his nerves in the spine canal and causing the pain. He was then to be referred to a specialist at the hospital. 

Now, I'm sure we all know about hospital waiting times and so wasn't expecting to have any contact from them for ages, let alone any remedies for the back pain for months. But this week, my husband had his appointment for the consultant, a spinal surgeon. 

After discussing the results of my husbands MRI scan and going through the options, they said that the best option was for him to have an operation. A Microdiscectomy in his words. This is where they basically will operate on his back to remove parts of the discs that have bulged to take the pressure off the nerves. 

Again, we thought about waiting times. Would the operation get done this year? Would it even get done by next year? In 6 weeks the consultant said... 6 weeks!

We were shocked at how quick it was getting sorted. They told my husband that he cannot work from now until 6 weeks after the operation. They don't want to risk him doing any more damage to his back before then. Luckily for us, my husbands boss is very understanding and lovely. He said that he can basically have all the time off he needs and the job will still be there for him once he's better. 

So, now you know why I've been quiet. The next couple of months are going to be a stressful time, a scary time but, at the end, it will be sorted and we can get back to living our lives. 


Trutex School Uniform

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Buying school uniforms, is hard work.Trying to combat the price versus quality topic, whilst also finding the perfect fit for varying body shapes. And there is so much choice, colours, fits, it never ends. Zips,elastic or belted,which one is best? That's why I am putting some of the Trutex range to the test on Thomas.

Established in 1865 as the Clitheroe Shirting Company in Grindleton, deep in the heart of the Ribble Valley, Lancashire, the company has manufactured under the Trutex brand since the 1920’s, before changing its name to Trutex in 1965. Trutex is the leading name in school uniform and school sportswear across the UK today, and has been supplying quality clothing for 145 years. Trutex work towards the ‘Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code’ to ensure employees within supplying factories around the world enjoy excellent working conditions.

Thomas is 5 year old and a very energetic little boy. Always out and about playing in the playground and gardens at school and then indoors to play, read and get crafty with paint and glue. How would the Trutex uniform cope with this?

Thomas was sent 3 items of clothing from their range, the crew neck sweatshirt, white polo shirt and a pair of junior elasticated back trousers and were mostly wanting to test the quality versus the robustness. 

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Trutex crew neck sweatshirt 
The crew neck sweatshirt has a ribbed neck and cuffs and can come in a huge variation of colours. I chose ink blue as that is what closely matched Thomas' uniform colours. The sweatshirt is well made, soft to touch and a lovely bold colour. It has a generous fit with plenty of length in the jumper itself and in the arms which I prefer in school uniforms as it always annoys me when the arms on jumpers come up short and look silly on. 

Polo shirt 
This is a classic polo in a pique knit. Again, we chose school colours so went for white which when arrived, is super bright and smart. After a few washes, it still comes up gleaming, no tint of grey in sight. I love the fact, that when I get it out of the tumble dryer, I can put it straight away as it just doesn't seem to crease. This saves a lot of time on a Sunday night, before the school week, as that's my ironing night. 

Junior elasticated back classic fit trouser 
The trousers were the thing that I was worried about most. Thomas has a very weird fit, he has a small waist but long legs and usually, trousers will either fit on the waist and be too short, or fit on the leg and be too wide on the waist.
I was glad that Trutex did and elasticated pair as it meant that they could stretch to fit. With a flat front and side pockets, they are fully constructed, tailored trouser with zip fly front.

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Overall, I am thoroughly impressed with the quality of the products Trutex sent. The sweatshirt and polo shirt didn't shrink when washed or dried and the trousers were a great fit and also very durable which is something we all need when having young boys who slide along the floor on their knees a lot. A good quality uniform that will last. 

To find your nearest stockist of Trutex school uniform, check out their website. 


Hooded Fleece Lion Blanket From Aldi

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I love finding items for children that are great for them and quirky too and so when Aldi sent out this hooded blanket, I knew that it would be a hit with the boys. The blanket comes in various animal designs. From frogs to lions, so something to suit every child. 

A lovely cosy blanket to keep them wrapped up warm on a cold evening, but with a big difference to regular blankets, it is really an animal...

At the top of the blanket is a head, which doubles up as a hood. It then has 2 arms (paws) which keep children's hands warm and a little tail on the back just to finish off the animal theme. 

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The blanket is super soft, cosy and warm and the eye for detail is impressive. I was imagining that it would probably be a blanket with a lion head printed on the hood, but no, it is all embroidered on. 

The paws, eyes, nose, even down to the whiskers and mane, have all be carefully stitched onto the blanket to give it then animal look. Then little ears and a tail have been added on to give it a 3 dimensional lion which the boys both love.

Not only it is a blanket that they can snuggle up to, to keep warm, but it is also a play thing. Simply put it on and you're a lion, chasing your prey around the room and garden and stalking it out before pouncing. 

The Hooded Fleece Lion Blanket is a Special Buy from Aldi and is available to purchase now, whilst stocks last. 


A Family Meal At The Botanist, Trinity Leeds

We have never really been out much for meals as a family. Having a fussy son means that meal times can be hard work. But after organising Thomas' 5th Birthday, which was yesterday, we just knew that we wanted to try The Botanist and was even more eager to try out their delights after they invited us over to review their children's menu.  

Tucked away outside the Trinity Centre, The Botanist is a haven for eclectic design, and has definitely gone for 'the garden' theme indoors. From the patio area outside, it looks like a quaint little place, but then you step inside, to this secret hideaway that is actually quite vast. 

The Botanist is a concept unlike anything else! You might have seen food in quirky designs, but this is something else. Everything has it's own little story...

They offer a well stocked cellar of cask-conditioned ales, more than 40 bottled beers and ciders from around the world, a selection of finest Champagnes and an intriguing cocktail menu. 

Now, I must confess before we go any further. We thought we might actually have to change dates for visiting as my husband is waiting on an operation and, last week, received an appointment for another scan which just so happened to be for Saturday (since when did hospitals send out weekend appointments?) and so he couldn't eat for 24 hours before this, ruining the chance for him to sample their menu.

We decided to go though. It was, after all, Thomas' birthday and seemed like a great chance to try somewhere new, something different. 

It was also a Friday night which meant that it was very busy, full of customers sampling the drink delights. Although the table area is hidden behind quirky cupboards and away from the bar to give it a more private, secluded feeling, a place where you can eat good food and take in the amazing surroundings. 

Then came the food. As I said above, my husband couldn't have anything so it was myself and the children sampling the menu. This came with a hard decision. What do we pick?

Above, is my starter, Pork crackling. I picked this, as these are one of may favourite snacks, and to be honest, I wanted to see how they could be presented in a way which looked pretty and appealing. 

The pork crackling came with chilli and spring onion on top and a side of sweet apple sauce. As you can see, the garden theme runs throughout with the tiny wheelbarrow placed to be the sauce holder. 

As I took my first bite, I knew I was hooked, the more I tasted, the more I wanted. They were so moorish. The crunchy texture with a salty bite, bursting full of flavour and dragging me in for more. It's safe to say that these went down quite easily although I did feel a bit sorry for my husband who proclaimed that they smelt devine and he wished he could try them. 

For my main course, I went for the home comfort of fish and chips. Why not, I thought. It is one of my favourite meals as I love fish. Served with tartare sauce in a mini watering can and mushy peas in a plant pot, again following on the theme. 

The fish was huge, and I mean huge, with yummy bubbly, crispy batter. As I broke in to it with my fork, the fish just fell to pieces, you could tell that it had been taken care of in the cooking process and tasted magnificent. The chips were extra crispy and seasoned perfectly, a perfect accompaniment to the perfect fish. 

I love the fact that they aren't served on plates, but rather small crates which wouldn't look amiss in a garden full of flowers.

Then came the children's menu. Charlie loves chicken and so I knew that he'd want the chicken fingers and chips. 

Again, the design didn't let us down at all. A bucket of chicken, bucket of peas, wheelbarrow of tomato sauce and a plant pot full of curly lettuce accompanied the chips which were in the centre of the crate. 

This was a huge portion for such a small child, but let me tell you, he worked his way through most of the food in his plate. Devouring his chicken a chips and then enjoyed pouring the peas out of the bucket onto the plate, as though he was on a beach playing with sand castles, he loved the fact that he could actually play with his food whilst eating it. 

With Thomas, I was a little more sceptical. He is a really fussy eater. I was happy to see that they did a bangers and mash meal though as this is the food that he always wants. 

I was wondering though, just how much different they could make bangers and mash. A tower of mash perhaps with bangers poking out of the top? No, once again, The Botanist outdid themselves with their creative design...

Creamy mash, peas and lashings of gravy came out in this quaint tin bowl, with the bangers, presented on a kebab skewer which fits onto a stand above the bowl. And let me just say, Thomas loved this. 

I always think that children's food should be presented differently, as we all know how fussy kids can be and just giving that extra bit of thought can make all the difference. Kind of like the Bento style packed lunches that there is so much craze for at the moment. 

Thomas enjoyed pulling the sausages from the skewer and dipping them into his gravy. I was actually surprised to see him eat so much. Thomas is usually, more of a grazer but tonight, he devoured the sausages in no time at all.

Then it was time for dessert...

By this time, I was so stuffed with the food that I had already eaten, the I couldn't manage a dessert.
I was gutted too as I have such a sweet tooth and would much rather stuff my face with cakes usually, but this time, the food, the starter and main course won and I just couldn't fit any more in. 

The boys children's meal came with a desert. A choice of 2 scoops of ice cream from 3 flavours, chocolate, strawberry or vanilla. Thomas chose chocolate and Charlie, vanilla. 

Although the dessert did follow the same theme as the rest of the meal, I thought that it looked more like a day on the beach.

A bucket full of ice cream with spade in to eat it with. A biscuit crumb on the base which looked like sand and a mixture of sweets. The boys both tried to make a sand castle (well, ice cream castle) by tipping it out onto the biscuit base.

The different textures of the smooth, cold ice cream, crunchy biscuit and chewy sweets made for a great treat which the boys loved. 

I really cannot imagine that amount of thought, design and planning that went into making our food, and the high quality ingredients and great chef that made everything taste extra special. The friendly staff and great atmosphere made it such a lovely place to sit and eat.

We all loved the quirky garden themed building, décor and the food itself and I cannot wait to come back for another visit. Maybe next time, just my husband and myself so that we can try some of the alcohol varieties, and this time my husband may actually get to taste their food. 

Visit The Bontanist website, for more information about their food and themselves too.


Monster Treads Shake & Sounds Dump Truck & Tractor

If you have young boys then I'm sure that you'll love to read about the new Monster Treads range from Tomy Toys. Combining cool monster truck styling with the power and reputation of John Deere, the new Monster Treads Shake and Sounds Tractor range is set to take 2014 by storm.

Constructed of sturdy plastic, big bouncy tyres suitable for off-road action, shaking suspension and realistic roaring engine sounds, nothing can stand in their way.

We were sent 2 toys from the range, the Monster Treads Shake 'n Sounds Dump Truck and Tractor. Both are of plastic construction with huge rubber tyres. The push button on the back activates the monster truck sounds and the oscillating shaking suspension.

I love this range as not only are they suitable for indoor and outdoor play, but they introduce farm play at a young age, the shaking of the trucks gives a look into how a real truck would feel. 

They have all the characteristics of real trucks, the dump truck has a working hold at the back. You can fill it with rubble, sand and even toys, and then simply tip them out when you get to their destination. The moulding on the side of the tractor gives great detail to what a tractor looks like. The exhaust pipe sticking up, the front grills sticking out, al like a real tractor does. 

The boys love how the trucks bounce around and, if they push the trucks whilst they are shaking, the momentum from the vibrations will keep them rolling forward until the shaking stops. They also have great control. The high suspension makes turn the truck and bouncing them around rough terrain, very easy indeed. 

Overall, these are fantastic toys that any little boy would love. Educational, showing how tractors work and fun with sounds and movement.

You can find out more information about the Monster Treads Shake & Sounds Dump Truck & Tractor on the Tomy Toys website and see the other ranges they do too.


Big Scoop John Deere Excavator & Dump Truck

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My sons love trucks, big trucks especially more, and so when we received the Big Scoop items from Tomy, I knew that they would love them. The Big Scoop set is a range of bug John Deere trucks, perfect for young boys that love to get messy and for outdoor play.

This is the next instalment of our Tomy Official Blogger activities and the boys have loved getting to test out and play with new and upcoming toys and this time we received 2 toys, the Big Scoop Excavator and the Big Scoop Dump Truck.

Big Scoop Excavator
This excavator features a front handle for easy digging action. The hinged arm comes off from this and has a bucket at the end for extra deep digging. With huge thick free-rolling tyres and a swivelling cab, it is easy to manoeuvre around, fully equipped to tackle sandy terrain.

It is made for strong plastic so is perfect for playing outdoors and every part, even the moving bits are thick and durable so it will last even past the hardest digging projects.

The boys love the excavator and the fact that they can push it around and move it's direction by easing the handle around and then simply dipping it into the ground to collect soil, sand or even water.

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But what else do you need if you have an excavator? A dump truck of course.

Big Scoop Dump Truck
This is a great toy for outdoor play. The Big Scoop Dump Truck features a back which can hold a lot of soil, sand, water, or even toys. The back can be lifted up so to make it easy to tip the contents out too.

It is of sturdy plastic construction and very durable indeed, just like the excavator. They work perfectly together, the excavator can pick up anything needed, such as sand, and then empty it into the dump truck so it can be exported elsewhere. The dump truck can then empty the contents where needed.

Overall, the boys are thoroughly enjoying both the Big Scoop Excavator and the Big Scoop Dump Truck. They are big, robust and very fun to play with.

Not only can they be used indoors but outdoors too and it's great to see that Tomy have catered for older children too with their farmyard toys making them super-sized and extra fun.

You can find out more information about the Big Scoop John Deere Excavator & Dump Truck on the Tomy Toys website and see the other ranges they do too.


Parenting Is Hard, But It's Worth It

Being a parent means that there are many days where you will feel like pulling your hair out. You know, those days when you just feel like crawling back under your covers and putting your fingers in your ears just to get a break. It gets to the point where you're picturing sitting in the corner of a room, rocking back and forth and wondering how it got this hard. 

But that's what people don't tell you, just how hard it is. Well, actually, people do tell you, but we just push it out of our head, because obviously our child will not be as bad as yours. 

Yes, it is very hard work, bringing up children, teaching them right from wrong, teaching them everything actually. Being the mum, the cook, the cleaner, the teacher, the disciplinarian, the craft master and everything in between. 

Trying to figure out a routine for a child and eventually cracking it. But then having another child which doesn't follow the same routine, now both children are back to square one. 

Trying controlled crying and ending up crying more yourself as you feel like a bad parent. The naughty step which a 2 year old just finds funny. Sometimes I feel like putting myself on the naughty step, just to get 2 minutes of peace. 

Oh and sleep, that thing that a parent gets none of. If your baby or child isn't up bouncing around the bedroom at 4am then you'll wake up to find them in your bed and let them stay just to get some sleep and then it starts. The spiral of them being in your bed every night just because it's easier happens. 

Then you end up being sat up wondering whether you are the best parent, worrying about school, friends and days out and that big question 'am I really a  good parent?'

But you know what, yes, you are a good parent.

You do all these things out of love for your child. That constant worry, the immense love we feel for our children, the jealousy when other parents seem to do everything perfectly yet I can barely draw a dog never mind making one out of papier-mâché with accompanying bone, bed and other junk that I just can not do.

But we try, everything we do is for our children. Yes, we get it wrong, but then we backtrack and start again. We keep trying and make sure that our children have everything they need. We set a good role model for them and make sure that they learn boundaries and good behaviour.

You know what, yes it is hard work, it is very damn hard, but it's worth it. Every paddy, every tantrum, every embarrassing comment made on the bus, every mind blowing screaming fit, they are all worth it because, at the end of the day, that one good thing they do, from something as small as saying please and thank you right up to something as great as learning to ride their bike, they cancel everything out, all that bad stuff is gone out of your head, because at that moment in time, your child is perfect.

Yes, there are days when you feel like the world could swallow you up, but remember, there will always be a child to give you a cuddle at the end of it all, and that my friends, is the best feeling ever. 


Monsters University Mike and Sulley's Smartphone

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I love being a KD Mumbassador, it means that we get to sample new toys from their range, which obviously the boys love. This month, we have been playing with the Monsters University Mike and Sulley's Smartphone. 

This handy smartphone helps children learn more about colours, numbers and whilst talking about their favourite Monsters University characters. 

It is just like a real smartphone, as you can swipe your finger from left to right to trigger music and lights, and use the touchpad to answer the questions too. 

It makes children feel as though they have their own phone to play with which is great as many times, the boys want to play with my phone. I don't mind them playing with my phone but they do seem to kill the battery and delete all my apps so I am forever having to recover everything. Now the boys have their very own phone.

Discovery Mode is all about learning about the Monsters University characters. As your child touches each of the characters on the screen, the phone will explain who they are, what group they belong to and what their number is. 

I do like this part as, although they are learning about the characters, the boys are also getting talking about numbers, groups, names etc which are all great things to learn about and it means that children can then identify characters easier and even point out their numbers themselves without being prompted. 

Children can also press the call button. This will prompt Mike and Sulley to talk to them. The boys love the idea that they are talking to these characters. We have Monsters University on DVD and so the boys know about these characters anyway and getting to talk to them makes the boys so excited. 

The phone features light effects, fun sounds and music with educational features and the fun factor. The boys love it, it keeps them entertained whilst helping learn too which is always a plus in my eyes. 

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You can visit the KD UK website to find out more information