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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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Tree Fu GO!

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 09-04-2014

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If your child watches CBeebies you will no doubt have come across Tree Fu Tom. Its a brilliant animated series featuring Tom and his friends having adventures and saving the day. What I love about the show is that it encourages your child out of their seat whilst they are watching to take part in some Tree Fu Moves. They think they’re helping Tom, and you know their getting a bit of exercise whilst enjoying the show. Little Man is a fan of the show and is often spotted doing his Tree Fu Moves in the lounge. He gets very excited when he sees the Tree Fu Tom toys advertised on TV or in store and has been not so subtle in his requests for a belt like Tom’s for some time, so I jumped at the chance to review the “Ranger Utility Belt” when Evolution got in touch a few weeks ago.
Tree Fu Tom Ranger Utility Belt Sussex MummyThe Utility Belt Set comes with a replica of Tom’s sapstone belt, a scarf and woggle like he also wears, a small telescope, a compass to help your little one find their way around, and a small notebook and leaf shaped tasks to complete. There’s also a small bag that you can pop onto the belt to carry the smaller bits and pieces in.
This set is aimed at children aged 3 plus and the replica belt is size adjustable so should fit children of varying ages and sizes. Apparently Little Man is a bit skinny as we can’t get it to fit him even on the smallest setting, so when he wears it its either tied round his back or worn over one shoulder. We can’t get him to wear the scarf which he assures me is “Too small…” but I don’t think it is!
I think our only disappointment with this toy is that the sapstone in the centre of the belt doesn’t glow. Watchers of the show will know that when Tom does his tree fu moves it makes this stone glow. Now I’m obviously not expecting the stone to be motion activated, but a battery and an on off button would have been nice. The sapstone on this belt is a giant reflector and not something my Little Man really understands, but with a retail price of £19.99 you get what you pay for. I’d be happy to pay a little more for a working sapstone, but I’m sure this version will still provide hours of fun for Little Man and any other young Tree Fu fans.
 

Review: Tonka Town Fire Station

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Christmas, Product Reviews | Posted on 30-10-2013

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Little Man is a pretty typical boy. He loves cars and space ships and dinosaurs and Doctor Who and anything that’s loud basically. When we were contacted by the team at Tonka Town and asked if we’d like to test out one of their new play sets we couldn’t resist, especially after spotting a rather cool looking Fire Station.
The Fire Station comes with two characters – Jose and Bruno – and a fire car. The station itself includes ladders, a fireman’s pole, a spinning satellite dish, and a pop up fire for your crew to put out. The garage section also extends out and doors open to allow access for your car. Behind the computer on the top of the station is a button to press to sound the alarm.
As soon as this arrived and I opened the box Little Man was straight over and wanted to play immediately. He was straight at the button that made the alarm ring – obviously – and that won him over. He can sit for ages driving Jose and Bruno around in the car, walking them up and down the steps, tackling the pop up fire, or pressing the alarm button. Endlessly. Thankfully the alarm isn’t too loud so even when it feels like its going constantly its not that annoying. He also enjoys opening and closing the garage doors and twisting the satellite dish round and round.
I really like the Fire Station as its fairly compact and because the alarm is reasonably quiet. Its all plastic and not perhaps the sturdiest of plastic toys but its coping well under the pressure of an excitable three year old. My only real criticism of it is the fireman’s pole. Attaching one of your characters to it is not particularly easy. Little Man can’t do it, and to be honest I struggle at times. This in no way affects his enjoyment of the toy though.
You can buy a Fire Engine separately to go with your Station – something I’ll be pointing Aunties and Uncles at this Christmas – as well as a Jail Play Set which will match this one nicely. Tonka Town is available from a wide range of stockists, both on the high street and online. Suitable from age 3 plus I think they’d make a great set for children this Christmas.

 

Event: Kiddicare Hedge End

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Blogger Event | Posted on 01-05-2013

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A week has past since the opening of the brand new Kiddicare store in Hedge End, near Southampton. I went down last week with Little Man to see this new store in action. Having never visited a Kiddicare store before I had no idea what awaited me – though I had heard lots of good things about other stores around the country. I’d used the online store before now though, so I was very excited to see what a store had to offer.

Upon arriving the first thing that we needed to do was go to the toilet. The changing facilities for Little Man were great – a room full of changing mats with mobiles above and discreet bins below made changing him quick and easy. The toilet facilities were excellent too. Each cubicle was big enough to fit a pram in as well – isn’t it a nightmare when you’re out with a child in a pram and you need to go to the toilet – and what I really loved was that the cubicles each had two toilets in: one for Mummy and a smaller ones for your little one. This would be ideal for when you both need to go so you’re not struggling in a tiny cubicle. There were then adult and child height basins to wash our hands, as well as step stools so little ones could reach. The store pretty much won me over just with this!

The store itself was immense – well stocked with everything you could need from conception upwards. If I was newly pregnant I think I’d have been overwhelmed with all the things on offer. There was a huge range of pushchairs and prams, from single buggies up to three seaters. All were available to test drive on their special track. Car seats were available for all stages, and they were fitted and checked for free in your vehicle. You could buy cloth and disposable nappies and all the accessories you’d need, as well as potties and steps for when you’ve moved on. I bought Little Man a My Carry Potty ready for our potty training adventure which will begin once we’re back from our holidays. High chairs and booster seats were also there in abundance, as well as a wide range of bedroom and nursery furniture. Then there were all the toys. Indoor, outdoor, wooden, plastic, soft toys, educational toys, and everything in between. Little Man spent a good twenty minutes playing on the toys on display, including rather a long time enjoying his first experience of a wooden train set. I was rather pleased to see it was from Big Jigs Toys.

The in-store cafe was lovely. It had those popular lunch boxes for children where you pick from a selection of items. It was good to see a mix of healthy choices as well as treats on offer. Little Man loves these boxes when we go out – its good for him to be able to choose what he wants, which invariably includes something chocolate based! There’s lots on offer for parents too, from cakes and snacks to lunches. The cafe has plenty of space for pushchairs and prams, and there are lots of highchairs available too. There’s even an enclosed play area so you can get some peace whilst you’re eating, with portholes so you can keep an eye on your little ones. In the cafe area you’ll also find a Nursing Nest, where you can go to breast or bottle feed in privacy.

The main thing that I found at Kiddicare was how much room there was. Wide aisles in the shopping area, plenty space in the cafe, and room in the toilets for prams and toddlers made it a great shopping experience. Clearly the team have thought of everything, and made sure that shopping there is a pleasant experience for everyone. Should I find myself pregnant again in the future, I think a trip to Kiddicare Hedge End will definitely be on my list of things to do. A brilliant day out for everyone.

Review: Portable Laundry Bag from Brabantia

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Home & Lifestyle, Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 04-04-2013

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Since becoming a parent – and also a product reviewer – I find myself getting weirdly excited about the strangest things. You’ll all no doubt recall my maddening enthusiasm for a washing line last year, well this year I’m continuing the washing theme by getting a little carried away with a laundry bag. Yes, a LAUNDRY BAG. Clearly I need help.
Its so pretty. *Ahem* Anyway, the team at Brabantia have done it again with this functional yet fun laundry bag. It has a round opening at the top to toss in your laundry. Whats a bit genius about this bag however is that the top folds out so the round opening forms a handle which you can either carry with your hand or wear over your shoulder.
It has a capacity of 55 litres and once full that equates a standard 10 kg load in your washing machine. We are using ours as somewhere to put dirty towels which previously used to fill our existing laundry baskets. Now once this is full I know I have a full load for my washing machine. I can just carry the bag downstairs and load the machine up. So easy and so convenient. What’s more the bag looks nice. Available in a range of colours – Pansy Purple which you see here, Caribbean Blue, Lipstick Red, Lemon Yellow and Grey – the bag will brighten up the corner of any room, or in our case, in the hall upstairs.


As well as be a stylish laundry bag, you could also use it to store your children’s toys in. One of these would look great in their bedroom or play room filled with soft toys and teddy bears. 

 

You can find the full range of Laundry Bags on the Brabantia website.
 

HABA 75th Anniversary Review: Rattling Figure

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 25-03-2013

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This is the first of three HABA reviews this week as part of their 75th Anniversary activity.

First up is this Rattling Figure. This would make a great little rattle for any young child. Its suitable from age 10 months because its made from wood and the points on the collar of the clown are a little sharp. Without much effort you can get the clown figure shaking every which way. He’s brightly coloured with non-toxic paint – perfect if your little one starts to suck or chew on him – and is a great little friend for your child who’ll also stimulate their senses.

Whilst Little Man is too old for this toy at nearly two and a half he’s always attracted to toys that move, make noise or are brightly coloured, so he was a big fan of this as it did all three. Its perfectly sized for little hands and very easy to hold on too, even when you’re rattling it about.

Bigjigs Play Patrol Finalist: Farm House Sorter Review

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Bigjigs Play Patrol, Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 21-03-2013

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I was very excited and proud to reach the final stages of Bigjigs‘ search for members of their new Play Patrol. As one of the final 12 battling for one of just 5 spots we were sent a product to review as our final task. We received the brand new Farm House Sorter.
Shape sorters are something of a classic toy, one that I’m sure in some form or other every child owns. I know Little Man has owned more than a few in his life and they are a toy I’m generally a fan of. The premise is simple enough – you get a selection of shapes and a base unit with cut out holes in. You match the shapes to the holes and the shapes store inside. One of the reasons I like shape sorters is the fact that they are compact and the objective of them is basically to tidy up!

The Farm House Sorter from Bigjigs is pretty much what it says on the box. The ‘base unit’ is a wooden farm house. The ends are designed to look like the walls of a house and the top has a slate roof design, typical of traditional farm houses. Along each side you will find cut out holes in the shapes of things you’d expect to find on the farm – eight animals and a tree – and the shapes themselves feature the item on one side and then the name of the item written on the reverse. It all stows away nicely, with the “roof” removable for easy access and a carry handle so little ones can take it wherever they go.

From a parents point of view I think this is a great toy. Wooden toys are something I am very keen on. Yes we have plastic ones too, but only of the best quality. Wooden toys are long lasting and I can see this toy being used for many years to come. At the end of the day its not just a shape sorter. As well as improving hand-eye co-ordination and dexterity, it teaches animal recognition – Little Man is already pointing at and signing the names of animals he recognises – and can help with speech. If you clearly say the name of the animal as your child picks it up or puts it into the sorter they will eventually mimic you. It will be a great spelling aid in the future, with each word being written clearly on the reverse of the shape. Start simple with “Cat” or “Pig” and work up to the longer words such as “Horse” or “Chicken”. There’s a good range of animals featured, all of which you can point out on trips to a real farm, but I must admit I find the addition of a “Tree” a little weird. Trees are hardly farm specific. Surely another animal could have been thought of, or this strange ninth piece just eliminated all together.

I love that the roof comes off to allow instant access to the shapes but also the effort which has gone into designing the lid so it looks like a roof and the way it attaches to the house. This toy has a great aesthetic appeal to parents and children alike. The farm house will look great on a shelf in a child’s bedroom or playroom. It looks like a quality toy because it is a quality toy. The design team have obviously put a lot of thought into how it looks and that is abundantly clear. Each shape is a different bright colour so this toy could also be used to teach those. I love the handle. Its nice and sturdy perfect for toddlers to use. Little Man has already wandered around the lounge proudly carrying his new farm house. The handle ensures its carried upright too, so there’ll be no pieces scattered all around the house.

The Farm House Sorter is suitable from 1 year plus and is available now from the Bigjigs website.

 

 

Guest Post: Bringing Home Bunny – 9 Things You Need to Do to Make a Happy Rabbit

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Guest Post | Posted on 21-02-2013

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Bringing home bunny is exciting because it’s the beginning of a long-lasting relationship. A well-cared-for bunny can live over a decade, and this special bond begins the day he comes home. There are several things bunnies need to be happy, healthy and well-behaved. It’s best to have all these things ready when he arrives, so your first precious moments together aren’t spent frantically setting up.

1. Choose the Cage

Image via Flickr by ewen and donabel

It’s hard to picture your tiny bundle a year from now when he weighs 7 pounds, so it’s easy to buy a cage he’ll outgrow too soon. Look for one with plenty of space with an opening large enough to get him in and out. Choose a cage with a secure lock and enough room for him to get some exercise.

2. Line the Cage With Safe Bedding

Image via Flickr by jpockele

Walking around the cage floor can give bunny sores on his feet. Cover the bottom of the cage with bunny-safe bedding and offer him a bed or blanket to sleep on. Cedar and pine chips are inappropriate for bunnies. Make sure the bedding you get is approved for use with rabbits.

3. Stock Up on Healthy Food

Image via Flickr by bunnygoth

The basis for his diet should be a well-balanced rabbit food. Supplement this with alfalfa while bunny is young and substitute for hay as he gets older. Bunnies also enjoy fresh vegetables, but you’ll need to discuss how much and how often with your vet.

4. Set Up a Litter Box

Image via Flickr by CassiaA

One of the wonderful things about bunnies is how easy it is to train them to a litter box. Select a box easy enough for him to climb into and large enough for him to go comfortably. Fill it with litter. Wait until bunny goes, then place the litter box in that spot. This potty trains most bunnies instantly.

5. Get a Variety of Toys

Image via Flickr by moonrat42

Bunny needs a good selection of toys, including toys for cage time and toys for playtime with you. Special toys that hang from the cage are excellent for occupying him while you’re at school or work.

6. Protect Your Bunny by Houseproofing

Image via Flickr by annieb

Like a baby, bunnies find mischief. Invest in plastic covers for wires and cords if you can’t put them out of bunny’s reach. Pet gates are excellent for keeping him out of areas where he isn’t safe, such as stairwells.

7. Reward Your Bunny With Treats

Image via Flickr by Carly & Art

A healthy diet leaves room for special treats, which are excellent bonding tools. Make sure the treats are safe for rabbits, and never give so many treats he doesn’t have room for healthy meals.

8. Keep Bunny Groomed

Image via Flickr by distar97

A clean bunny is a happy bunny, and most owners enjoy special bonding time while brushing and grooming their bunnies. A brush keeps his fur shiny and nail clippers do away with sharp claws that scratch you and get in his way. You can get these pet supplies online.

9. Give Bunny Dental Health

Image via Flickr by David~O

A salt wheel grooms bunny’s teeth and provides him with sodium, a necessary nutrient. Without this, his teeth grow too long and make it hard for him to eat. Bunnies love to nibble, but with a block or chip of wood, he won’t be tempted to gnaw furniture or shoes. These are inexpensive, and keep him occupied while grooming his teeth.

With these items on hand, you’re ready to embark on a rewarding relationship with your new bunny.

Review: Wonderworld Toys at DKL

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 08-01-2013

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I am a huge fan of wooden toys. Whilst I do love getting Little Man plastic toys like Happyland and WOW Toys, the wooden ones are always going to last that little bit longer – though Happyland and WOW Toys are a very close second! Little Man has a few wooden toys around the house, and he got a great wooden garage and set of cars this Christmas from his grandparents. We were also lucky enough to receive a couple of wooden toys from the brand Wonderworld which were sent out by DKL.

The first was a wooden Police Car. This was an immediate hit as Little Man has just become fascinated by anything with wheels – hence the garage this Christmas. Its a great size for a toddlers hands and he drives it all round his bedroom, and quite often throughout ours.
The figure is fixed which is ideal because otherwise he’d be out and under some furniture never to be seen again. There is a hinged flap on the back which you can lift up and put your prisoners in – we often find Happyland figures hanging out the back! Its a nice sturdy little vehicle which I think is a great addition to any little boys toy collection.

Next up was a set of Rainbow Sound Blocks. Now I must admit to being a little unenthusiastic by these when I took them out the box. Yes they looked very bright and colourful, but I wasn’t entirely convinced that Little Man would be all that impressed either.

How wrong was I. They were out of the frame within seconds and he has barely put them down since. He doesn’t use the frame they came in – that’s just a handy place for me to store them on the rare occasions we manage to tidy up! – but he spends ages stacking them up, knocking them down, and looking through the coloured perspex. He shakes them around and makes a noise and if you’re really lucky he dances to the beat too. Most mornings during the Christmas break involved him running into our room at 7am, dragging the nearest parent out of bed – generally Daddy, thankfully – and leading them into his room just so he can show the blocks to them. Within minutes he’s back in our room dragging the next parent down so they can see them too. He is fascinated by them. A great sensory toy which has provided Little Man with literally hours of entertainment.

You can learn more about DKL and their toy ranges at their website or by following them on Twitter @DKLToys

Toys For Your Children This Christmas

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Christmas, Christmas Gift Guide, Product Reviews | Posted on 04-12-2012

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Now we’re into December and the doors on the Advent Calender and getting opening Christmas is truly on its way. Before long Santa will be visiting houses across the world delivering presents. If you’re looking for a few ideas of things to put on your children’s lists this year before sending them off to the North Pole, look no further.

Raa Raa The Noisy Lion’s Interactive Playset
Now fans of the hit CBeebies show can own their very own Tree House straight from the Jingly Jangly Jungle. Raa Raa’s playset comes complete with movable Cubby Buggy, Swing and Tree House as well as the Lion himself. Whats so brilliant about this playset is the interactive elements. On the playset there are “Smart Spots” and you just have to place Raa Raa – or any of his jungle friends (sold separately) – onto a “Smart Spot” to hear them speak. The “Smart Spot” knows which character you’ve placed on the spot and you’ll here their actual voice speak. Around the back of the tree house is Raa Raa’s bedroom, accessed by a ladder, and a bed for him to nap in. I love the “Smart Spots” feature and that pressing Raa Raa down on one makes the leaves of the palm tree rise and the Cubby Buggy appear – just like in the show. This is a must have toy for any Raa Raa fan. I can certainly see the fun in buying the other characters and adding more entertainment, and more phrases, to what is already a great toy.

Tickle Time Elmo
Another great toy for your children to interact with is Tickle Time Elmo. This super soft and super cuddly member of the Sesame Street gang is perfect for children who love to tickle. By simply tickling Elmo’s feet or tummy you can make him giggle, and the more you tickle him the more he giggles and shakes. I found playing with this strangely addictive, and ended up in fits of laughter myself. He’s a gorgeous little character who is sure to become your little ones new best friend.

Tiny Bike
Bikes are massively popular at Christmas, and if you want to get your toddler a first bike this year, try a Tiny Bike. Featuring fully adjustable handbars and seat this bike teaches about balance as it only has two wheels. The bike is ideal for children aged 2-4 years and can be moved easily with a simple push. It also has a little platform for them to rest their feet on when they become confident as they zip around. The spoke free wheels means you don’t have to worry about trapped fingers either. I read about this bike and saw one in action before I got one. Balance bikes aren’t a new thing, but the wooden ones always struck me as heavy or bulky to carry around. This bike actually looks like a “proper” bike, so if you’re getting an older sibling a new bike for Christmas, your little one might appreciate one similar. This bike is really light and easy to carry, and can be used indoors – if you have space – or out. My son took to this with ease and was soon wobbling his way around the lounge on it. It doesn’t take long at all for your child to figure out how to use it, and before you know it they’ll be speeding all over the place. This bike would look great nestled under the tree this Christmas.

The Story Of Toys…

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Christmas, Information | Posted on 21-11-2012

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