Friday, 28 October 2016

Aquadoodle Review and Giveaway #Aquadoodleparty

We have owned an Aquadoodle for several years now and it would definitely be included in our top five toddler toy recommendations. So when we were asked by Come Round UK to review the Aquadoodle Super Colour Deluxe from Tomy, we immediately jumped at the chance!

We have always loved our Aquadoodle because it is perfect for creative, yet mess free, toddler fun. There is no effort needed to set it up, just add water and you are ready to play. Also, compared to other creative activities, minimal supervision is required. The Aquadoodle can keep the Mini Reviewers quiet for ages and when playtime is over clearing up is a doddle! The mat dries very quickly and there is literally no mess!
Just add water!
The Aquadoodle Super Colour Deluxe (RRP £24.99) is certainly a step up from our existing version. The mat is larger, the colours more vibrant and there is a better selection of "tools". The larger mat is perfect for two children to share (as you can see from our photos below). The superior tools include a chunky, triangular pen; three stampers and stamping pad; and a brush and water pot. These are all designed to be easy and comfortable for little hands to grip. Aquadoodle is suitable for 18 months plus so it is fantastic for early mark making. The colourful plastic edge of the mat is covered with cheerful pictures and is great for resting the tools when they aren't in use.

All you need to do to get started is add water to the pen, the pot and the pad and then the fun begins. When your children draw with the water on the mat, the mat magically changes colour and your children's creations can be seen. The stampers make clear defined images of a music note, a bee and a snail. The pen is great for drawing and writing and the brush creates broader marks.
Double Trouble!
The Mini Reviewers (and some not-so-mini-reviewers) have had lots of fun with this product already and we would recommend it for anyone who wants to encourage creativity in their little ones yet avoid the mess!
Fabulous Family Fun!
We were also lucky enough to receive some Aquadoodle Peppa Pig Mini Mats, which are designed for mess free fun on the go. Each bag contains three reusable sheets and a small refillable pen. We recently put these to the test on our train journey to Edinburgh and, as you can see, they were a massive success! They would make a great little stocking filler.
Aquadoodling on the go!
Come Round UK provided us with an additional Aquadoodle Super Colour Deluxe, which we would love to giveaway! So if you would like to try the Aquadoodle Super Colour Deluxe for yourself, then why not enter below:

Aquadoodle Super Colour Deluxe Giveaway

*Disclaimer: We were sent an #Aquadoodleparty pack from Come Round UK for the purpose of this review. All opinions are, as always, our own.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

"Not-so-scary" Halloween Fun with Funnybones

As it's very nearly Halloween, I thought I’d share some of our favourite "not-so-scary" stories with you. Here are our top three Halloween reads for little ones:
3. Meg and Mog by Helen Nicoll and Jan PieĊ„kowski. The Meg and Mog books are a fantastic series, which the Mini Reviewers have all loved since they were very young. The eye catching  illustrations are bold and bright. The stories, although simple, are full of adventure and excitement. There should be a space for one of these books on every toddler's bookshelf!
2. Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. This is one of my favourite books to read aloud ever. The rhyming and rhythmic text flows so easily and makes it perfect for little ones to join in with. The story is full of humour and the illustrations are fantastic. We have recently been enjoying the audio book version read by Imelda Staunton. This really is Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler at their finest.
1. Funnybones, by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. Funnybones, is our top Halloween choice this year. For those not familiar with this classic picture book first published in 1980, it is a story about a family of skeletons; a big skeleton, a little skeleton and a dog skeleton. One night they go out to walk the dog and to frighten somebody!

This book was one of my childhood favourites but it has been many years since I last read it. We recently shared it together and I quickly remembered how perfectly the story begins:
“On a dark dark hill

there was a dark dark town.
In the dark dark town
there was a dark dark street.
In the dark dark street
there was a dark dark house.
In the dark dark house
there was a dark dark staircase.
Down the dark dark staircase
there was a dark dark cellar.
And in the dark dark cellar… 
...some skeletons lived.”

Theo (2) was a little scared by this opening but when he saw the smiling skeletons, he knew there was nothing to worry about. We then enjoyed following them on their nighttime adventure. They play in the park, visit the zoo and play tricks on each other. But our favourite part was when the dog skeleton has an accident and big and little skeleton struggle to put him back together again even with the help of their song. This is a funny book with fantastic illustrations and is perfect to read anytime of year but especially when celebrating Halloween.


Funnybones is published by Puffin and this year their website is full of Halloween inspiration. There are fantastic, yet easy, ideas for costumes, decorations, games and recipes. We thought we’d give some of them a go...
Lockwood inspired ghost cupcakes
Funnybones and The Twits party fun
We were delighted with how our cakes and decorations turned out. If you like them, then why not have your own Spooktacular Halloween Party?

*Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Funnybones and a party pack from Puffin books so we could try out their Halloween ideas. All opinions are, as always, our own.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Word of the Week: Parent

This week I have been reflecting on my parenting journey so far. I adore my three little ones and I can't imagine life without them but it is no secret that I find being a parent tough and I have, at times, lost myself along the way. It is always the children that lift me when I am at my lowest. Here is my latest poem inspired by Mum Turned Mom's weekly writing prompt "Mirror".

Mirror

Looking in the mirror,
I twist a loose strand of hair.
That creeping thought is back again,
A chill spreading through the air.

It expands like a spiders web,
Entangling my mind.
My thoughts darken quickly,
The sun becomes hard to find.

Growing ever blacker,
Like a fog inside my head.
It rushes through my body,
A sickening feeling, dread.

I’m hopeless. I’m a failure.
They deserve so much more.
I’m useless. I’m not good enough.
An echo of internal war.

It’s a solitary battle,
An all consuming storm,
There is no escape plan,
The black clouds swarm.

My mind wades through the waters,
As I consider what I’ve become.
Feeling desperately alone,
Until a little voice shouts “Mum!”

Then the clouds start to lift,
And the light peaks through,
The air is calm and warm again,
And it’s all because of you.


K.E - October 2016

On Monday it was our first Parents' Evening since Izzie started school. We didn't really know what to expect as first timers but it was actually really lovely to hear how well Izzie is settling in and how much she enjoys learning. She loves to practice her writing both at school and at home. It does seem very hard work for her because she is left handed (as is her teacher) so I am really trying to encourage her as much as I can with her letter formation. It helps that she is so enthusiastic.

She also loves rhymes and poetry. This week she came up with a little poem, which really made me smile so I thought I'd share it.

Fluffy Penguin

fluffy penguin
white and black
waddles around
on the ice
slippy penguin
carries its egg
tap tap
and out pokes a leg
Baby penguin
loves to shout
to his mummy
chirp
I.E - October 2016

I hope everyone else has had a good week.

mumturnedmom
Prose for Thought

Sunday, 9 October 2016

366 Books in 366 Days: Dog on a Digger by Kate Prendergast

We recently read and reviewed Kate Prendergast’s debut picture book Dog on a Train and it ignited a real love of wordless books for us. Often overlooked, wordless books are perfect to encourage little ones to take the lead at story time and it has been fantastic to see the Mini Reviewers gaining confidence and becoming so creative with their storytelling. They always seem to pick up on things that this tired mummy has missed completely! Anyway we are really excited to share that Dog is back for another wordless adventure and this time he’s got a few new friends and a big yellow digger!

In Kate’s fantastic second book, Dog on a Digger - The Tricky Incident, it is just another day on the building site and Dog is helping his owner at work. However when Dog’s tiny new friend goes missing, everyone is very worried. Then suddenly Dog hears his little friend’s barks and realises he is in trouble. Clever Dog quickly hatches a plan to rescue his little friend using the big yellow digger!

This is an exciting follow up to Dog on a Train. Kate’s drawings are just as beautiful and this time she has chosen to incorporate yellow and blue to lift the detailed greyscale illustrations. There is even more to spot and talk about than in Dog on a Train and every time we return to the story we notice something else! With themes of friendship and loyalty, it is a story that can be enjoyed by all ages and it is already a firm favourite in this house.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of this book from Old Barn Books for the purpose of this review, however all opinions are, as always, our own.



Read With Me

Word of the Week: Disaster

After a total disaster of a week, I'm resorting to rhyme to cheer myself up...

One step forward,
But two steps back.
A week of disasters,
I feel like such a hack.

Snotty kids and sleepless nights,
A broken washing machine,
Sciatica and tantrums,
A house that’s never clean.

It’s driven me to breaking point,
I’ve become that shouty mum.
Now I’ve started rhyming,
Who knows what’s next to come?

Fingers crossed tomorrow’s better,
Or I’ll surely lose the plot,
But I’d better get some wine in,
Just in case it’s not!
K.E. - October 2016

The Reading Residence

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

366 Books In 366 Days: Books to Inspire

Mini Reviewer, Izzie, loves a good princess story. I used to frown upon filling her head with such "nonsense" but then I realised we all need to hear a few "happily ever afters" from time to time. Although I am now on board with the frilly fairy tales, I think it is really important that all my Mini Reviewers hear stories of real women. With this in mind, I started my search for Books to Inspire, stories of strong and brave women, women who did truly amazing things. I quickly came across these two new titles, which I would like to share today:


First up is Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World published this year (2016) by Bloomsbury. This fantastic non-fiction book has been written and illustrated by Kate Pankhurst. It includes the amazing stories of 13 women throughout history, who did indeed change the world. These pioneers, from all walks of life, inspired fashion revolutions; fought for equality; went on great adventures; and made some incredible discoveries.

The book covers a hugely diverse range of individuals from literary great, Jane Austen, to Suffragette, Emmeline Pankhurst. From Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, to Jewish teenager, Anne Frank.  The book is packed with interesting facts yet the clever presentation means the information is accessible and remains appealing to young readers. Visually the book is delightful and Pankhurts's illustrations are really fun and witty.

Izzie has been captivated by these stories of greatness and the book has taught me a thing or two as well! We have really enjoyed reading this together and it is one we keep returning to. At almost five, Izzie is a bit young for this book but all this has meant is a little more explaining on my part. The book has certainly prompted some very interesting conversations! Her personal favourites are the stories of scientist, Marie Curie and, paleontologist, Mary Anning. I just hope she is inspired to follow her own heart and dreams as she grows up.

The second book I would like to share is Ada Twist, Scientist written by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts and published this year by Abrams Books.


This is a wonderful fictional story about a young girl, Ada Marie, who, we are told, doesn't talk until she is three years old. She then wastes no time in making up for her silence by asking questions about anything and everything. Endlessly curious, she drives her parents insane as she goes on fact-finding missions and even carries out her own experiments. The brilliant rhyming text and fantastically funny illustrations really appeal to the Mini Reviewers. They thought the pictures of Ada doing her smell tests were particularly hilarious! Izzie was also delighted to discover from the author's note that Ada Marie is named after two great women, scientist, Marie Curie and Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer.


We would highly recommend both these books for inquisitive girls and boys everywhere!

Next month we will be reviewing the following Books to Inspire:
Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova - Laurel Snyder and Julie Morstad
Coco Chanel - Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Ana Albero


We would love to hear from you if you have any recommendations of Books to Inspire and we always enjoy reading your comments.

Disclaimer: We received free copies of both these books from the publishers for the purpose of these reviews. All opinions are as always our own.


Read With Me
Tried and Tested

Snacking on the go (with two in tow)! #MamiaDaysOut

Autumn is definitely here. My eldest is at school but with the two younger Mini Reviewers to keep entertained, we are always on the go and now have the added challenge of the dreaded school run. In my new role as school-run-mum, I have quickly discovered that the little ones are ALWAYS hungry, even if they had a snack just before we left the house. So snacking on the go has become central to the success of our outings.

Last year a new Aldi store opened up down the road from us. I was quickly won over by the Mamia range of baby products and, in particular, the value and performance of the nappies and sensitive wipes. So when I heard about the Aldi #MamiaDaysOut challenge through BritMums, I quickly signed up. About week later we got a nice surprise hamper from Aldi full of healthy and 100% organic products from their Mamia baby food range. As you can see Poppy (10 months) was particularly delighted and immediately took her testing role very seriously!
Poppy just doing a quick quality control check before our outings!

Our week

Last week I made sure my bag was well stocked with the Aldi Mamia goodies at all times to see how good the products are for snacking on the go (with two in tow)! Now I apologise in advance if this reads a little like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, we are bookworms after all...

Tuesday: Lunch out and about
On Monday I pulled out a few apple flavoured mini rice cakes for Poppy at the library. This kept her quiet in the baby carrier whilst I read two whole books to Theo (2 years). Success!
On Tuesday we met up with friends for lunch and and a bit of soft play action. Poppy had an organic fruit pouch and raspberry mini rice cakes. Later on Theo enjoyed some of the tasty apple and blackcurrant water on the way home in the car. No fuss, no mess, no stress!
On Wednesday Theo had a fruit pouch on the school run as he was suddenly "hungee"! In car snacking without any drama!
On Thursday Poppy had mini rice cakes and Theo had a fruit pouch during their older sister's swimming lesson. Smiles all round!
On Friday we popped to the hairdressers and then met friends for an after school play date and conker collecting. Theo had a fruit pouch in the playground on the run (literally)!

So what did we think?

The Organic Fruit and Vegetable Pouches certainly passed the taste test. They can be easily eaten using a spoon (our special spoon makes it even easier) and for bigger children they can be sucked straight from the pouch. They are fantastic to just pop in your bag and can be eaten with relatively little mess. Also the top can just be screwed back on if nowhere to dispose of the pouch or if there is still some left. These are suitable as first foods and are brilliant value at 59p each.
Wednesday: Organic fruit pouches, apparently perfect for the school run!
The Mini Rice Cakes taste great. I tried these myself and would quite happily eat them! Poppy LOVES them. They are excellent value for money only 69p for a huge bag. They can be eaten with relatively little mess (they are much less messy than some other baby snacks on the market). The raspberry ones were definitely our favourites.
Thursday: Poppy enjoying a raspberry rice cake!
Theo really enjoyed the Apple and Blackcurrant Spring Water. It is not something that I would usually buy but at 85p it is fantastic value and doesn't need diluting. Poppy already eats one of the Apple and Pear Fruit Pots for breakfast nearly everyday. They go well with the Aldi Mamia porridge and at 85p for four they are excellent value for money. However, I would not choose to take these out and about with me as the fruit pouches are so much easier to transport and can be resealed if necessary.
Friday: A quick snack at the playground!
Overall the Aldi Mamia range is excellent value for money and we would certainly recommend the organic fruit pouches and rice cakes for mess free, stress free snacking on the go and even with two in tow!

Friday: Our conker haul. We love Autumn!
Disclaimer: This post is an entry for BritMums #MamiaDaysOut Linky Challenge, sponsored by Aldi Mamia
Tried and Tested