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Educational Play with Schleich I'm a big fan of learning through play. Unforced educational play. I'm not a teacher and I don't want to be. I want my children to naturally learn whilst they are having fun. When I was contacted recently...

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Say Eh-Oh to the new Teletubbies toys! There back!! Teletubbies made a joyous return to CBeebies last year, and this year marks the launch of the new range of toys. As you know I was sent a box just before Christmas, and today I can finally...

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Travel: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough Last weekend Nana and I took a rather lengthy journey north for a night away at the Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, with Little Dude in tow. The Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is a luxurious country hotel...

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A Place To Enjoy My Garden I love my garden. I love the fact that I have a garden, especially with the recent gorgeous weather we've been having. Whilst I have a pretty compact garden, there's a lot going on out there. Plants, fruit...

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Cuddles With Ben Cohen Some days I have a really difficult job. Days like this for example. *Ahem* That rather nice young man is former rugby player Ben Cohen. Ben is a bit of an expert when it comes to cuddles. He has...

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#BookReview: “Play” by Amanda Gummer

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review | Posted on 03-05-2015

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As parents we want to give our children the best possible start in life, and we want to do all we can to aid their development. Milestones are something I don’t take much notice of because all children are different and they all develop at different rates, but I still want to ensure my two boys are following them “approximately”. ‘Learning Through Play’ is a great way of encouraging and aiding development in children of all ages. Play is a massive part of their lives from very early on, and can be a big part of their learning as well as their entertainment. A new book from Dr Amanda Gummer entitled “Play” provides a guide to “help your child reach their full potential.” We were sent a copy to take a look at.

Play-AmandaGummer-SussexMummy

The book is divided into age based sections, following a similar pattern to clothes sizes actually! With my two I was most interested in the 12-18 months section and 4 years and older, but I did have a brief look at the other sections too. Each section talks a bit about what your child “should” be doing – again with the milestones pressures – and how you can encourage the different aspects of their development by playing certain games, or doing certain activities. For example with Little Dude who will be 1 in just under a fortnight (how, I do not know…) it suggests shape sorters, building blocks and ride on toys as something to focus on. There is a lot of focus on the child’s new found mobility, and both the fun and dangers this can present. For Little Man who is just four and half, there is a focus on starting school (which he will be doing in September) with activities to encourage social skills, following instructions and their imagination, like small world play and simple ‘Simon Says’ games. Each section also includes ten fun activities to do with your child, as well as space to make your own notes and observations, so its rather like a memory book as well.

I found this to be a very interesting book to dip into. Some parts definitely got me thinking, other parts didn’t seem age appropriate for my two, but as I said children develop at different speeds and nobody knows your child better than you. Some of the activities and toy suggestions generally seemed a bit young for my boys, but that’s just us. I like the idea of using the book as somewhere to write your memories in, but we’ve never been organised enough to do that in any form with either boy! There was a lot of information which I regarded as obvious, but there were certainly tips and play ideas that I will definitely be utilising as a parent. We’ll definitely be looking in more detail at the advice on preparing for school with Little Man as we approach September for example.

On the whole this is an informative book and certainly one to use as and when required, but for us at least, I wouldn’t live my life by it. As with all parenting guides they should be taken as just that, guides and not rules. No two children are the same, and they certainly haven’t read any of the manuals, so I don’t think they can be expected to live by them. Parenting is a chaotic and fun journey, and whilst all the advice that’s out there is helpful and well meant, I think at the end of the day its down to US to raise our children, not the “experts”.

“PLAY” by Dr Amanda Gummer is out on May 7th.

World Book Day Competition

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review, Competition, Information | Posted on 06-03-2014

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Books are a big part of Little Man’s life. He has a huge Tidy Books Bookcase which is almost groaning under the pressure of so many books. Every night without fail Daddy reads him at least one of these books, and every Saturday morning they go to the local library to get new ones to read. They always come back with two or three new books, generally one of which is a Doctor Who book which doesn’t get read but Little Man likes to carry it around and look at the pictures. We love that he is so keen on books, and we’re hoping this will last a lifetime.

When Little Dude makes his entrance in a couple of months we want to ensure he follows in his big brothers footsteps and develops a passion for books. We’ll be reading to him every night and hopefully Little Man will want to share his love of books with his brother. We’ve already got some books ready for Little Dude which will be attached to his pushchair and car seat so he can “read” whilst he’s out and about.

axel scheffler buggy books sussex mummy competitionMacmillan sent him some gorgeous little Buggy Buddy books which feature illustrations from the super talented Axel Scheffler to take a look at. The set of four books each feature a different animal and these special books have a large button on the front of them that once pressed make the sound of the animal in question. The featured animals are a frog, a cat, a dog and a sheep. The illustrations are amazing and go nicely with the other books that Scheffler has illustrated – many of which adorn Little Man’s bookcase. I love the large button which Little Dude will no doubt have no trouble pressing, and they attach so easily and securely to his new car seat. These will be a great introduction into the world of books and reading for Little Dude.

Now I have THREE SETS of these gorgeous four books to giveaway to my readers to celebrate World Book Day, just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter below to be in with chance of winning one of the three sets of books. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: The Slightly Annoying Elephant

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review | Posted on 03-12-2013

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David Walliams has been a popular author of children’s fiction since his first book was published in 2008. Well this year David has decided to release his first ever picture book, with the help of illustrator Tony Ross.

What’s big, blue, bossy, and turns up uninvited? A slightly annoying elephant, of course! Introducing a magnificently warm and funny picture book from two remarkable talents.  A magnificently warm and funny picture book that tells the story of a boy called Sam who is amazed to find a rather annoying elephant on his doorstep!

This bright and colourful picture book features an elephant who turns up one day at Sam’s house, only to cause an endless stream of chaos in his wake. Demanding food, taking over the bathroom and stealing the remote control are just a few of the tricks he gets up to whilst keeping Sam company.

Little Man loved the wonderful illustrations and the funny story line. Whilst its not a strong favourite in our house – that’s reserved for The Gruffalo and Splat The Cat I’m afraid – it does get pulled out the bookcase every so often.

This book is out now and is aimed at children aged 3+.

 

 

Book Review: Splat The Cat Says Thank You

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review | Posted on 25-02-2013

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Little Man has become something of a book lover in the last year. No bedtime is complete without at least three books and one of his favourite characters is Splat The Cat, creation of author Rob Scotton. His latest adventure is “Splat The Cat Says Thank You” and we were more than happy to review it for Harper Collins.

In this new title Splat The Cat is saying “Thank You” to his friend Seymour, a mouse who has appeared in other titles with him, and who takes part in many adventures with Splat. Poor Seymour needs cheering up – he’s covered in spots and feeling a little poorly – so Splat sets about to make his friend smile. Instead of a simple “Thank You” card, Splat decides his friend needs a “Thank You” book so he makes him one, charting all the adventures they’ve had together, as well as the many things Seymour has done for him.

This is another wonderful title from Rob Scotton and I think the message it brings is lovely too. Its a great book for any young child who is learning about saying please and thank you, and I’m sure it will help encourage that. Little Man is a big fan of this book and requests it most nights. Luckily for Daddy who reads the bed time stories every night, he enjoys it as well. A lovely addition to our bookcase. We’ll certainly be on the look out for future Splat adventures in the future.

You can discover more from Rob Scotton and his Splat The Cat range at his website.

E-Book Review: Indian Supermeals – Baby & Toddler Cookbook

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review, Foodie, Information | Posted on 09-10-2012

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This week is – amongst other things – National Curry Week. Hubby and I love a nice Indian takeaway or very rarely I cook one at home, but its not something we’ve ever tried with Little Man. I vaguely recall him trying an Ella’s Kitchen pouch that was spicy but never anything other than that, so I was intrigued when I was offered a new Indian cookbook for babies and toddler to review.

Zainab Jagot Ahmed wrote “Indian Supermeals: Baby & Toddler Cookbook” whilst weaning her little girl Aaliyah. Zainab was keen to introduced Asian flavours and cooking to her daughter for cultural and culinary reasons, but when she went searching for recipes she found that the baby weaning industry didn’t cater for her needs. Zainab spent a lot of time researching flavours, dietary requirements and superfoods before coming up with her own recipes which she fed to her daughter. Soon family and friends were asking for her recipes to use on their own children, and before long a cookbook was born.

The cookbook is a wealth of information and education before you even reach the recipes. There is detailed information on diet and nutrition and everything is explained clearly. There is information on recommended daily intakes based on age and clear details about how much of what your little one should be eating using the popular Eat Well Plate. I read a couple of weaning books before we started the process with Little Man – probably the same ones most parents read! – but got much more insight and relevant information from Zainab’s book. I was obviously aware of what nutrients Little Man needed but not really what his recommended intakes were. I clearly knew not to pump him full of salt or sugar, and always took an “Everything In Moderation” approach to treats, which we still do nowadays. This books was educational for me, and I think it would make a great read for anyone about to start weaning or curious about maybe giving their little ones something more interesting and less bland than the usual baby foods.

The recipes themselves begin from 7 months when you can introduce foods which are a bit more interesting and you’ve generally progressed from simple purees. They are all clearly set out with specific nutritional information, approximate preparation and cooking time, how many servings you’re going to get, and whether it is freezable. I found bulk cooking and freezing a god send when Little Man was weaning. I had a drawer full of pots in my freezer. There are no intense spicy flavours in any of Zainab’s recipes, just different flavours to ones you’ll find in the usual cookbooks or store bought baby food. You’re not about to serve your 7 month old a spicy vindaloo, you’re just looking to widen their tastes and reduce the likelihood of fussy eating later in life.

By the time you reach Stage 4: 1-3 Years you are no longer doing separate cooking for your little one, you are instead adapting your family favourites. Curries and Tagines begin to appear in the book which you can cook for your whole family. This is the chapter that I must get myself into and actually try out a few of the meals on Little Man and Hubby. They sound delicious to me and I’m sure Little Man would be willing to test a few out as he is a very good eater, though he is beginning to develop his own sense of taste and favourites.

Whether you are of Asian decent or not, and whether you’ve already started the weaning process with your little one or been through it before with older children, I highly recommend this book. As well as providing you with delicious meals and finger foods, it also provides essential knowledge and nutritional information to ensure you are raising healthy eaters, as well as varied eaters.

Indian SuperMeals: Baby &Toddler Cookbook (published by Autharium RRP £4.99) is available online at retailers including Amazon.co.uk, Tesco, WHSmith, Waterstones and ordered through all good e-bookshops.

You can find Zainab online too at her website (www.ZainabJagotAhmed.com) and on Twitter @ZainabJagAhmed

 

New Titles From Harper Collins…

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review | Posted on 03-10-2012

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Walter & the No Need To Worry Suit
This is the first book from the brand new “Wonderful World of Walter and Winnie” series from picture book author Rachel Bright, who previously wrote Love Monster. Walter is a bit of a worrier, in fact his worrying often gets a little out of hand. When the “Super-Seriously-Competitive” sports and funday approaches his worrying gets very out of hand, particularly because Walter isn’t a big fan of sports. The story is so funny and the pictures are so bright and detailed. The text is part of every picture and the whole book just exudes fun. We get to join Walter as he worries away, and as his friends come to his rescue, led by his best friend Winnie.

The Great Granny Gang
Author Judith Kerr needs no introduction. Author of over 20 books, her most famous no doubt being The Tiger Who Came To Tea, her latest installment is “The Great Granny Gang” – a celebration of why grannies are so great. What we learn as we read the book is that there is more to grannies than meets the eye, and I suspect that any child who reads or hears this story will probably never look at their own grannies quite the same again! I love the rhyming melody within Judith’s rhyming and the accompanying drawings are beautiful. This is a fun addition to any child’s bookshelf, and perfect for this weekends National Grandparents Day on October 7th.

This Moose Belongs To Me
Oliver Jeffers is an internationally best-selling and award winning picture book author. His previous work includes “Lost And Found”, “How To Catch A Star” and his recent work, “The Hueys In The New Jumper”. This autumn Oliver returns with “This Moose Belongs To Me” a heart warming and funny book about Wilfred who may or may not own a moose called Marcel. You see Wilfred isn’t entirely sure. Most of the time Marcel follows the rules of being a pet very well, but then sometimes things don’t quite go to plan. And one day Wilfred meets someone else who thinks they own Marcel. This story is all about friendship and learning about what owning something is all about. It is a classic Oliver Jeffers and one that I look forward to reading at bedtime soon.

These titles are available from all good bookstores.

Book Review: The Boy Who Bakes by Edd Kimber

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review, Information | Posted on 18-09-2012

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For anyone heading to the sold out Cake & Bake Show this weekend – I’ll see you there! – one of the main attractions will be Edd Kimber, winner of the first series of the Great British Bake Off. He’ll be speaking at the show, showing off some of his baking skills and signing pre-release copies of his brand new book “Say It With Cake” which is due for release in October. He’ll also be signing copies of his best selling first book, “The Boy Who Bakes”. Here I take a look at his first book, just to whet your appetites before this weekends show.

“The Boy Who Bakes” features a range of recipes, from well known classics to some lesser known recipes, all featuring Edd’s personal twist. Recipes for cookies and traybakes mix with cakes and desserts, but every one tempts me to make it, which makes this a great book. I liked the fact that I hadn’t heard of some of the bakes, some hailing from around the globe. As well as being a delicious book, it was also a bit of an education.

Edd was famous in the Great British Bake Off for his macarons, and continues to be so, holding masterclasses in London. Macarons are one of those things I’d love to attempt but they look a bit tricky. What I love about Edd’s book is that he really focuses on the techniques involved in baking and creating cakes. I haven’t done so yet, but maybe one day I’ll brave a batch!

“The Boy Who Bakes” is available from most good bookshops now, and you can find Edd now on Twitter and via his Blog.

October 25th sees the release of Edd’s brand new book “Say It With Cake”. Here’s a peek of the cover. The book will feature on here soon.

 

Book Review: “The Mystery Of Mercy Close” by Marian Keyes

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review | Posted on 11-09-2012

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After a three year wait the much loved Marian Keyes returns to our bookshelves with “The Mystery Of Mercy Close”.

The book sees the return of the great Walsh family who have featured in several of Marian’s titles over the years since we first met them in “Watermelon” in 1995. “The Mystery Of Mercy Close” focuses on Helen, the youngest of the Walsh sisters, and one of my personal favourites. Helen is a Private Investigator called in to help out when a member of the boyband “Ladz” goes missing shortly before a much hyped reunion concert. Helen has her own demons to battle as she sets about trying to find Wayne, and none more so than her ex Jay who seeks out Helen’s help just as she’s getting her life back on track following their “messy” split.

I adore Marian Keyes – she is without question my favourite fictional author, and she sets all her books in my favourite place, Dublin – and it is a joy to have her back writing again, especially about the legendary Walsh family. Her writing style is brilliant and I love the quirky twists and turns on every page. This book is a real page turner that will keep you entertained, and a little on edge, from the very first page. All of Marian’s previous books have pride of place on my bookshelf and are excellent stories which I can read and re-read again and again, and I have no doubts that this one will be just as well read as those before it.

The Mystery Of Mercy Close” is published by Michael Joseph and released on September 13th.

For all you Walsh family fans out there, I suggest you download “Mammy Walsh’s A-Z of the Walsh Family” for a bit of a reminder of their ups and downs over the years!

Book Review: New Books For Children

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review | Posted on 10-09-2012

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From Smellessence…

I’ve previously featured a title from Smellessence on here before – “Chocolate Chipped” – which though a brilliant book was written for children who suffer a bereavement. This Autumn sees the release of two more Smellessence titles which are more of an everyday read for your little ones. First we have “Theo“. Theo is a dog who has lost his sense of smell, and sets out on an adventure to find it. Theo visits some of his most favourite smelly places, and we get to go along too. The smells in this book are hugely realistic and I love the idea of having them included to add an extra dimension to the stories. Little Man loves this book because there is a dog on the front cover, but I’m sure once he understands the smelly factor he’ll love it for that too.
Next is “The Story Of The Famous Farter“. This book is not for the faint hearted! This book regales the story of artist Joseph Pujol who was a famous entertainer at the Moulin Rouge in the late 1890s. Pujol was famous for being a ‘Professional Farter’ – imagine writing that next to occupation! – who had the ability to fart on demand. The story is delightful and the drawings inside are so good and, along with the aroma, bring the story to life. This book is definitely educational, whilst being somewhat witty too. It is bound to appeal to all children who no doubt think farting is hilarious fun.

From Macmillan…

This year marks the 30th Birthday of the excellent “Dear Zoo” book. To commemorate a new title has been released – “Dear Zoo: Touch & Feel“. This is ideal for little children as each animal has a touchable part to it. There’s the lions mane, the frogs sticky feet, the snakes basket, and many more. Little Man has thoroughly enjoyed looking through this book. Whilst he sometimes lacks the patience to listen to you reading a story to him, he likes to be able to interact with his books when he’s looking at them by himself. Books with flaps, pop-ups, or touchable parts are big favourites, and this one is no different. I love this book too. I am a big fan of the original Rod Campbell classic and I do enjoy reading that to Little Man when he lets me, but this allows him to enjoy the story himself, even if he’s doesn’t know entirely what’s going on. A must for all “Dear Zoo” fans.

Back To School…

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review, Product Reviews | Posted on 28-08-2012

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Well that time is upon us all once again, where the mad dash to find essential supplies for our children before we send them back to school next week – unless you’re in Scotland of course where they are already out from under your feet! Now Little Man isn’t 2 yet so I have a few more years to psych myself up for this eternally stressful time, but I do have a few products here that might just appeal to you, and your young scholars!

Smencils
A new school year means a brand new pencil case loaded up with new pens, pencils, rulers and erasers. If you fancy treating your child to something a little more unusual this year – something special if its their first ever day at school – then I highly recommend a set of Smencils. Smencils are just what they sound like – smelly pencils. Made from recycled paper and scented for added fun, these pencils are a great idea. I really like the Fruit Shoot scented range, which is great for young children just starting school. I don’t think there are many children out there who don’t love Fruit Shoots, so a matching set of pencils will be a perfect addition to their very first pencil case.

Click here for a Facebook Competition to win a set. Closes Friday September 7th 2012.

Back To School Books
If your child is a bit nervous about venturing to school for the first time then there a couple of great books here that might just ease their worries. “Foxy” by Emma Dodd is about a little girl called Emily who is starting school the next day and is worried that she doesn’t have everything she needs. Her magical friend Foxy comes to her rescue with some very amusing results, and a brilliantly reassuring message for all children. “Come To School Too, Blue Kangaroo” by Emma Chichester Clark is the latest in the Blue Kangaroo series. Lily takes Blue Kangaroo to school with her and wants to help him through his first day, but his day goes on longer than planned when he is left behind. A great fun story for all Blue Kangaroo fans worried about starting at school.

Forget Me Not
If your child has something of a hectic schedule – school, clubs, sports teams, music lessons, etc – or the mad rush each morning means they often forget something important for school, investing in a Forget Me Not from Tidy Books might just save you a lot of stress. It comes with a large magnetic whiteboard for jotting down reminders or fastening letters from school or timetables on. Beneath that is a small shelf with a lip to put small items that need to be taken, such as lunch money or letters that can be posted on the walk to school. Finally you get a row of hooks which can hold school bags packed ready for the next day or sports kits for PE lessons. The Forget Me Not has a compact slimline design, but has plenty room to store all your school day essentials.