Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Puzzle play

Puzzles are such a staple toy in any kids life, I dare say nearly every child is likely to play with a puzzle at some point throughout their childhood. We started off with really simple peg puzzles here and have progressed our way through letter puzzles, number puzzles, colour matching puzzles, shape puzzles, animal puzzles, chunky puzzles, floor puzzles and now more intricate smaller puzzles. 

I love how they challenge her cognitively, helping increase her concentration skills, each time she plays for a bit longer before getting frustrated. She's also practicing her problem solving skills as she works out where each piece should go while simultaneously developing her hand/eye co-ordination and fine motor skills as she places each piece into the correct spot. The best part is she's doing this all while she's playing without even realising she's actually learning at the same time. They really are a great resource for learning through play.

At four years old bub's mastered many different types of puzzles, but by far her favourite ones are still chunky puzzles with a 3d element. However, she quickly gets bored playing with them traditionally, especially once she's put them together a few times and has memorised where all of the pieces go. Did you know there are many other ways to play with puzzles other than just putting the pieces into the correct spot?

Once bub gets bored with doing puzzles the conventional way we think outside the box and come up with other ways to make them interesting again. In the past we've wrapped pieces in alfoil, searched for pieces in sensory tubs and made our own DIY puzzles by tracing the outlines on a piece of paper and matching them up. She loves all of these activities and especially loves the open ended play experiences where we're not strictly matching the pieces onto the puzzle.

We've recently taken our puzzle play a step further again thanks to the most awesome open ended puzzle I've ever come across from Happy Go Ducky.

Happy Go Ducky is a unique online toy shop run by a husband and wife team stocking quality traditional wooden, tin and crochet toys. They have puzzles, animal stackers, wooden vehicles, tin vehicles, crochet animals and many other items available for babies through to young children. All of the unique European brands they stock are ethically designed and handmade in the Czech Republic using sustainable, non-toxic materials by artisans who've been designing toys for decades. 

Happy Go Ducky stock toys that are likely to be held onto and passed down through generations as family heirlooms. Think push along wooden elephants, wooden trains and retro tin cars. They're bringing the nostalgia of yesteryear to modern day children and helping to keep traditional toy making alive. I'm so thrilled that we get to have one of their beautiful Playful Wood puzzles in our home which I'll most definitely be holding onto and passing down to bub for her children in the future.
The extra large wooden 3D spiral puzzle includes 16 different coloured wedges and a wooden circle that together create a large multicoloured circle. It also comes with wooden dowel pieces and a wooden ball which help bring the puzzle to life in so many fun ways. It's no secret that I have an enormous love of wooden educational toys, you only have to take a quick look around our play area to see that. I love the tactile experience that comes with wooden toys and I love thinking out of the box when it comes to playing with toys, so when a toy hits the trifecta and is educational, wooden and versatile I get a little bit excited.

When we first opened the puzzle bub immediately declared it was her "pizza puzzle" because of its circle shape and wedged pieces. It may not look like much to the untrained eye, but this puzzle is a colour wheel come 3D puzzle come building blocks come marble run marvel. Basically every kids {big kids included} dream puzzle. Let me show you all the different ways we've been playing with our pizza puzzle over the last few weeks.

Colour Wheel 

The most obvious and basic way to use it is as a colour wheel. Kids can arrange the colours in any order they like as there's no colour guide on the base plate, which means they're only limited by their imagination {and best of all there's no right or wrong way to put it together}. Being extremely OCD I prefer it to be arranged in colour order from light to dark {purely because it makes my heart happy}, but it's become apparent my child isn't always bound by the same logic. Even though it hurts my brain a little when she places the colours haphazardly, it's fun for her knowing there's endless ways to arrange all the pieces.

Making Pictures

The pieces can also be arranged to create different shapes and items. We've used ours to copy some of the images on the puzzle product page as a guide, her favourite one to make is the man, but there are so many more possibilities. I plan on drawing some coloured images and laminating them as guide cards for her to use.

Building Blocks

With chunky pieces the puzzle easily doubles as a set of coloured building blocks. She's stacked them on top of each other to make towers, laid them flat to make pathways and balanced them to create bridges and doors.

Ball run {straight or curved}

We quickly discovered that the dowel and ball can be used in many different ways to make our pizza puzzle even more awesome. When the wedges are placed upside down {so they have 2 holes in each piece showing} they can be placed either straight or curved to make a pathway. We then add dowel into all the outside holes and it transforms the pathway into a ball run. This one keeps her entertained for quite a while as she has to think strategically about how and where to lay the pieces in order to make the pathway. It also works her fine motor skills pushing the dowel pieces into place.

Wheel Of Fortune

Normally the puzzle pieces sit on the base plate with only the middle holes visible {as in the first picture above}, but she worked out if we put them in upside down so both holes are to the top and the dowel is in it creates a circular ball rink. She loves spinning the ball around and around the circle and trying to get it to run out the gaps. I affectionately call this set up the wheel of fortune because it's all I can think of when I look at it. I just want to spin it around, take off a piece and reveal the $ value underneath {yes I'm that old, I still miss that show!}. She likes to call it a skating rink because the ball goes round and round like ice skating.

Staircase Drop

Without a doubt our most favourite way to play with the pizza puzzle is to turn it into a staircase ball drop. Stacking the pieces around the central pole and using the little dowel pieces on the outside edges transforms the puzzle into a spiral staircase. The dowel pieces also make it the ultimate ball run allowing the ball to drop down each step without falling off {although if your child is a little over zealous like mine it can still bounce off when pushed too hard}. I can seriously play with it like this just as long as she can, it's so much fun. She's also now able to set it up and put all the pieces in place herself because we've done it so often.

As you can see this puzzle can be played with a multitude of different ways on top of being a traditional colour wheel puzzle and I'm sure there's even more ways we're yet to discover. I love that there are so many open ended ways to play with it and that also means bub never gets bored of it, which is exactly what you want when buying toys. I can see this puzzle is going to be a family favourite for many years to come.

Toni x

Disclosure - We were gifted a wooden spiral puzzle for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed in this post are based on our experience using the puzzle. I did not receive payment for this post.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Learning numbers with Leapfrog

Everybody knows how frantic and frustrating witching hour can be, I thought a toddler alone was bad, but add a baby to the mix and the toddler goes to a whole other level. I'm constantly bombarded with a million requests to play with her, turn on the tv, answer questions, give her snacks and console her tantrums when I fail to meet all these needs within 45 seconds of her initial request. And then her sister's usually feeding or screaming to be fed at the same time all while I'm trying to organise dinner for everyone. It's exhausting! To be honest during witching hour the iPad usually comes out and the tv's on just so I can have five minutes to try and start dinner uninterrupted {sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't}. However, the last two weeks witching hour {or any time I've been in the kitchen cooking or cleaning} has been a bit more bearable, thanks to the Fridge Numbers Magnetic Numbers Set from Leapfrog.
The fridge numbers magnetic numbers set uses Leapfrog favourite Scout to teach and reinforce numbers, colours, counting and one to one correspondence {how to match numbers with the correct numeral quantities by sight}. These are all important foundation maths skills children will build upon throughout their school years. The toy includes the base unit which is Scout and his picnic basket {the magnetic reader} and 20 different magnetic tiles {numbers 1-10 and ten different fruits and vegetable groups representing 1-10}.

The aim of the toy is to put different magnetic tiles into Scout's picnic basket. To start out Scout encourages kids to place a tile into the basket. Once the tile is placed into the picnic basket Scout will tell you what it is and ask you questions about the number or item. E.g. for the number 3 he says "3. Count with me 1, 2, 3." and then asks "Can you find 3 sandwiches for my picnic lunch?".

Through fun games and songs Scout helps children recognise numbers, identify groups of objects, count and learn fun facts about fruit and veggies along the way. While placing the magnetic tiles into the basket children are also practicing hand/eye coordination and building fine motor skills. They're also learning to follow instructions which are other skills that will be useful during school.

The unit and tiles stick easily to the fridge or any other magnetic surface, but can also be played with on other surfaces. Ours lives on the fridge, but often gets taken into the lounge room and played with on the table. It's also quite small and portable so would be easy to take to grandparents or friends houses for play dates, or even out to restaurants or coffee shops to keep kids entertained while eating out {just remember to take it in a carry bag so you don't lose any of the magnetic tiles}.

Bub loves playing with Scout both when I'm busy in the kitchen and at other times throughout the day. I love that it allows her to have independent play while I'm occupied, but it's still very interactive so she doesn't feel like she's playing alone. She just turned 4 and already knows her numbers and how to count to 20, but she still loves the challenge of finding the correct tile when Scout asks her questions. She also likes to quiz us on the answers too!

The Fridge Numbers Magnetic Set is recommended for 2-4yr olds and available in store now from these Leapfrog stockists. RRP $29.95.

Toni x

Disclosure - We were gifted a Fridge Numbers Magnetic Set from V-tech toys for the purpose of reviews. All opinions are our own based on our experience using the toy. I did not receive payment for this review.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Scooting along with Globber

Bringing a second baby into a family is a time of upheaval and uncertainty for a family unit, especially for the older child who's going from single child status to big brother or sister. With this in mind we decided, before I was due, that we'd make a concerted effort to spend one on one time with bub so she didn't have such a drastic change from only child to having to share us all the time. 

Coincidentally, a couple of weeks before I gave birth I was asked if we wanted to try out the new Globber MyFREE Fold UP scooter and it couldn't have come at a more perfect time. The scooter not only gives bub something special that's only for her, but it's also given us a fun activity that we can do with her during our special one on one time.

The Globber MyFREE Fold Up is designed for 3yrs +  with an adjustable handlebar to grow with the child until a max of 50kg. It's a step up from her first Globber scooter as it's a standing only scooter without a seat attachment. She was also lucky enough to receive one with flashing LED wheels and I'm actually slightly jealous that it's hers and not mine {is that wrong?}.

As a toddler bub took quite a while to master her Globber My Free 4 in 1 scooter in the actual scooter mode, so I expected she might be a bit hesitant with the MyFREE Fold Up, but to my surprise she had it down pat within about 15 minutes. It was like watching her morph from a toddler into a big girl right in front of me. I guess having a baby makes older children suddenly look more grown up as well, but seriously watching your firstborn baby suddenly able to tackle a scooter without any help is another subtle reminder that they are in fact growing up whether you like it or not.

Globber also sent us a helmet to use with the scooter. It's the first helmet she's ever used and I thought it might be tricky getting her to wear it, but it has a simple magnetic catch lock which makes it really quick and easy to get on, she can even do it herself {when she has the helmet around the right way}. It also has a dial fit system allowing the band to be tightened easier for the perfect fit. It's so much easier than normal helmets which buckle together and can catch skin if you have them on too tight {yes that happened to me as a child and I was always scared putting them on}. The helmet has also been a great way to teach her about safety when riding her scooter, especially on concrete. We've implemented a no helmet no ride policy and now she always makes sure she has her helmet on before we take the scooter out. In fact she usually reminds us to grab her helmet before she grabs her scooter.

I'm not sure if it's because she's taller, older and more carefree, or because she felt more confident wearing a helmet, but either way she mastered riding her new scooter really easily. She didn't get disheartened or scared when she slipped off the first few times, if anything it actually made her even more determined to succeed. She persisted, wanting us only to watch and not help her, and after a really short time was confident enough to ride the scooter on both concrete and grass. Being able to do it herself has made her much more independent and confident in her abilities and she's constantly riding it around the backyard on her own or begging us to take her outside to ride around the neighbourhood with her. An added bonus from her wanting to ride the scooter all the time is that we're all getting more time outside in the fresh air and we're getting incidental exercise as we follow her around the local paths.

Our favourite features of the MyFREE Fold UP scooter

Easy to assemble and adjust
Like all Globber scooters the MyFREE Fold Up is really easy to assemble, it's literally a case of clicking pieces together. The handlebar is also adjustable to 3 different heights as your child grows by simply clicking the bar in and out as needed.

Easy to store
One of the best features of the MyFREE Fold Up is that the handlebar can be folded down flat against the base board with a click of the button. This allows the scooter to be easily stored under a bed, on a shelf or lent flat against a wall. It also makes them really easy to transport in the back of a car {especially if you already have a pram in the boot}.

Easy to ride
The MyFREE Fold UP is a 3 wheel scooter and low to the ground making it easy for younger kids to balance and control. It also has an optional steering lock. 

Safety features
The steering lock allows the scooter to switch between assisted steering and only going straight which is great while kids are still getting used to it. There's also a long covered rear brake making it easier for kids to brake themselves {although mine still prefers to just put her foot out to stop it, but I'm sure she'll master the brake eventually}.

Thanks to the team at Globber I have one MyFREE Fold UP scooter {RRP $180} to give away to one lucky reader. To enter just leave me a comment below letting me know why you'd love to win a MyFREE Fold UP scooter and complete the steps in the rafflecopter form {so I can contact you if you win}, it's that simple!

If you're having any issues leaving a comment {sometimes it can be a bit temperamental} shoot me an email or send me a message on my Facebook page and I can help you out.

Toni x

*Please note unfortunately the prize scooter doesn't come with LED wheels, sorry guys!*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Competition commences upon publication and ends at 11:59pm August 24th 2017. One winner will receive a MyFREE Fold UP scooter from Globber RRP $180.00. Winner can choose their preferred colour from the options available once the competition has ended. Finding Myself Young will not be held liable should the prize be lost in transit. Competition is open to Australian residents only, excluding ACT. This competition is a game of skill and will be judged as such. All mandatory entry steps must be completed to constitute a valid entry. Incomplete entries will be deemed invalid and excluded from judging. Winner will have 72hrs to respond or prize will be redrawn. This competition is in no way endorsed, promoted or administered by Facebook.

Disclosure - We were gifted a Globber MyFREE Fold UP scooter and helmet for the purpose of review. All opinions are expressed based on our experience using the scooter. I did not receive payment for this review.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Goodbye fourth trimester

Everyone's been telling me for weeks to enjoy the newborn stage. Soak up every second of it and be in the moment because it goes past so quickly. I know everyone means well, however I dare say my well meaning friends and family have never had a newborn who was tongue tied and allergic to multiple foods.

You see the last 3 months didn't fly by in the blink of an eye, they dragged on and on and on in an endless sleep deprived groundhog day cycle of mind-numbing repetitiveness. And it wasn't repetitive lazy naps on the couch, or long moments spent lovingly staring into my beautiful new baby's eyes wondering how I ever created something so wonderful, although I admit there were a few fleeting moments of this {thankgod or I probably would've fallen head first into postnatal depression again}. No, our fourth trimester felt like 4329 days of continuous screaming, streams and streams of tears {hers and mine} and me wondering repeatedly why did I do this to myself? 

Maybe my infertility was the universe's way of telling me I should've never had another child?

I hope my relationship will survive this baby...

I hope I'll survive this baby.

I've spent many nights desperately clinging to an invisible ledge hoping I wouldn't be swallowed up whole into a big gaping abyss of postnatal depression and anxiety. I honestly don't know how I didn't fall off that ledge and plummet into a canyon of darkness. I know this may sound overly dramatic to anyone else who has 2 kids and you're probably thinking I'm an overreacting nutcase at this point in time, but let me assure you having a baby who seems to be allergic to the world is definitely no walk in the park. and most definitely not what I was envisioning when I tried and tried for months to fall pregnant again.

Our fourth trimester has been hours and hours of non stop screaming. Weeks and weeks of little to no sleep. Not being able to put her down because she's either screaming or finally sleeping, in which case I dare not move her or she'll revert back to screaming. It certainly hasn't been a bed of roses and loved up happy hormones. In fact I kind of feel like I've been cheated out of the experience I should of had. Where are my happy hormones? I want the euphoric high everyone goes on and on about, although as a second time mum I know babies don't always do what the books say they will, and lucky me I got 2 babies who've completely broken the newborn mould. I guess allergy babies do that though.

I've had to give up basically all food that tastes remotely good so I can continue breastfeeding. I could've easily gone insane from not eating food. God how I long to be able to go to the fridge or the cupboard and be able to just pick something up and eat it, and actually enjoy it, instead of having to read through every single ingredient or resort to making meals completely from scratch. I feel like I have some kind of foreign eating disorder. The good thing is though the longer you do it, the more it becomes normal, so even though I'm avoiding 95% of foods I once ate, it doesn't feel as hard anymore.

I honestly feel like I was teetering on the edge of insanity quite a few times during the past few months, but somehow we've muddled through and here we are three and a bit months later.

Three months is such a glorious age. It's like something just clicks and all of a sudden these tiny defenseless babies turn into little teeny people with personalities and abilities of their own. They start learning at a rapid rate and interacting with the world. Suddenly she allows me to put her down to explore play mats and toys {not for too long though, we don't want to push the envelope too soon, but I try and stretch it out a little more each day}. She can grab and hold her hands, toys, books and her sister's hair, all of which are insanely delightful to her {her sister not so much}. She's learning so many new things each and every day.

I feel like I'm finally enjoying motherhood again. I absolutely adore watching her experiencing things for the first time. I love our little chats, even during the early hours of the morning. I love watching her facial features slowly change over time. I love seeing her grow {but hate it at the same time because it means my teeny baby is already growing up}. I'm really appreciating and loving having the privilege of caring for this tiny little person and helping her to grow into the woman she'll one day be.

Life is good. It's certainly not perfect, her allergies still exist and everything is still a bit up and down there, but life is still good.

Now we just have teething and the four month sleep regression to deal with.

That's the awesome thing about babies, as soon as you think you have them figured out, they go ahead and change things again.

Toni x

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Finding doctors who care

This post is in collaboration with Brand Meets Blog

When I was pregnant I knew there was a chance I could have another allergy baby. Of course I was hoping we'd avoid it, but having already had one child with multiple food allergies, the likelihood was high. It was ok though, this time around I was prepared. So I thought.

I knew how hard life was last time so I'd do things differently. I'd change my diet, continue breastfeeding, do everything in my power to minimise the impact the allergies would have on our family and our baby. All the things I didn't try last time I'd try this time and it'd be better. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but reality is a different beast entirely.

I've since discovered no matter how prepared you think you are, you're never truly prepared for an allergy baby. Even though I've lived it before, my mind managed to erase just how horrible those first few weeks were {which is probably a good thing or I might never have tried for a second child}.

I definitely wasn't prepared for the hours and hours of relentless high pitched screaming that never seems to stop, it merely fluctuates in its intensity. Sure, all babies cry, but this is next level screaming. I'd forgotten how distressing it is to watch a baby spend hour after hour, day after day in agonising pain, which I do everything in my power to stop, but can't. Nor was I prepared for the very real fear I feel when eating something new wondering if it's going to hurt her, or the tremendous guilt that follows when it does. I've spent countless days too scared to eat anything because I think I'm poisoning her, but I force myself to because I know I have to eat.

Then there's the relentless, soul crushing sleep deprivation. The torture of having to console a screaming baby for 20+hrs a day while simultaneously looking after a needy toddler for 16 of those hours, all the while running on 2hrs of broken sleep, just hoping and praying that one day it will end. One day there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. Some days the hope that that day will be tomorrow is literally the only thing that gets me through the day, because I have no idea how I'd make it through without lying to myself that tomorrow will be better.

Tomorrow has to be better.

I've tried everything to bring her some relief from the pain. I changed my diet within the first week. I've used countless wind drops, reflux medicine, baby massage and old school remedies my friends, friends grandmother used to swear by. There comes a point though where you have to admit you need professional help. For me this point came very early, but I've struggled to find the right help.

I've spent weeks on waiting lists then hours traveling all over Brisbane trying to find a doctor who could shed some light on our situation. Someone who could give me hope that it will actually get better and tell me how to make it better. When you're surviving on absolute minimum sleep driving all over the place, spending hours in waiting rooms to see random Dr's is the last thing you want to be doing. To add insult to injury I was then dismissed by a lot of those Drs with the general consensus being babies cry for lots of reasons, it doesn't mean she has allergies or that anything is wrong. Insert frustrated eye roll here.

It really astounds me how many doctors there are out there that dismiss a mother's concerns about her own child as if she knows nothing about the person she gave birth to and is raising. It's tremendously frustrating knowing there's something very wrong with my child, yet having medical professionals dismiss those concerns. Still I've persisted looking for different options in the hope of helping her. After almost resigning myself to the fact I'd tried all avenues and there was nothing more I could do, I discovered the wonderful staff at Ubuntu medical centre.

visiting Ubuntu family medical practice

Ubuntu is a family run medical centre in Stafford on the northside of Brisbane and I managed to get appointments with a GP and a dietitian within days. Hallelujah, no ridiculous waiting lists! I thought for sure it'd take weeks to get a dietitian appointment. The best thing about Ubuntu is they have a huge range of allied health services within the same practice. Taking two kids on long drives when exhausted isn't fun, so being able to see both the GP and dietitian at the same practice was super convenient. They also have a massage therapist, naturopath, acupuncturist, chiropractor and other services available {I wish I had of known about them while I was still pregnant, hello massage therapist!}.

Despite having a plethora of services available Ubuntu still has the charm of a family medical centre. After attending countless appointments elsewhere over the past few weeks where I've felt like just another number, it was refreshing to meet medical professionals who genuinely cared about our situation. I really felt like they had a sincere concern for her wellbeing and mine, and instead of trying to get us in and out the door as quick as possible they took the time to have in depth discussions about my concerns. They then provided a holistic approach to help us rather than prescribing medication to mask her symptoms. I've found so many other Dr's just want to provide a band-aid solution (or dismiss my concerns completely), yet the team at Ubuntu really wanted to help me determine the root causes of her allergies.

playing in the waiting room before doctor appointment at ubuntu medical centre

After 12 weeks of horrible sleep, numerous tears {both hers and mine}, watching her squirming in pain and changing my entire diet, I finally feel like I've been heard. I feel like I've been acknowledged by medical professionals who actually cared about our situation and who took my concerns as seriously as I do. I have a renewed sense of hope and a new plan to work towards while I wait for the better days to come. It's not a complete solution, unfortunately with allergies there never is a quick solution, but most days just knowing we're definitely on the right track, and I'm doing everything I can do, is all I need to get me through.

And sleep, sleep would help too, but we'll get there eventually.

Toni x

This is a sponsored post as per my disclosure policy.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Brickman Experience - Interactive LEGO exhibition comes to the Gold Coast

Lego was one of my all time favourite toys from my childhood. My mum probably hated having little bits of Lego strewn everywhere around the house, and I probably will too when it invades our house, but I still can't wait for my girls to play with it.

I remember spending hours putting together elaborate play scenes on our huge Lego board and playing with my brother. I loved making big houses with gardens. When I got my first Lego horse I thought it was the best invention ever, because then I could add stables to my houses, which of course was super important to 7 year old me. Then I got a Lego ice-cream shop and omg all my dreams had come true!

Now that bub's getting older we've been thinking about introducing Lego, well to be honest T's been hanging out to buy it for almost four years since she was born, but with a newborn in the house I'm still a little apprehensive. When I heard the Lego Brickman Experience is touring soon I thought it'd be a great way to show the girls how cool Lego is, without it taking over my house, for now. Daddy is also super excited to have a day out looking at huge Lego models {in fact he's probably a lot more excited than bub}.

The Brickman Experience

Ryan McNaught’s Brickman Experience is the largest touring exhibition of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Brickman is a team of skilled LEGO® artists and craftspeople led by Ryan McNaught, aka “The Brickman”. Ryan and his team have built some of the world’s largest and most detailed LEGO® models, and are responsible for building models for LEGO® offices around the world. Having produced two touring exhibitions and hundreds of models for museums, galleries and shopping locations globally, the Brickman team have garnered many prestigious awards for their works. Brickman maintain a unique style, which makes their creations some of the best and most recognisable in the world.

The exhibition is made up from more than 5 million LEGO® bricks and includes Ryan’s biggest ever Star Wars LEGO® build, a model Airbus A380, a quarter scale LEGO® Ferrari and the world’s largest LEGO® flower. There is also 2 building zones with thousands of LEGO bricks and parts for visitors to build with; a free build area where visitors can build whatever they want and a mosaic zone where kids can create a LEGO brick artwork and display it on the wall.

Lego Brickman car model

The exhibition will be at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre these school holidays for 15 days only from 24 June until 9 July 2017. For tickets and more info visit Ticketek here bit.ly/BrickmanExp. Read more below for your chance to win a family pass. 

Who is Ryan McNaught?

Back in 2010, Ryan took his love for LEGO® to a whole new level by becoming the only LEGO® Certified Professional in the Southern Hemisphere. He now goes by the name of The Brick Man. Proud to be one of only 14 LEGO® Certified Professionals in the world, and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere, Ryan The Brick Man McNaught used to be a slave to the corporate world before trading in the boardroom for a LEGO® workshop! 

Based in Melbourne with twin sons, Ryan's greatest concern is that there's a whole lot of eight year-old's out there who want to bump him off to take his job. I dare say a lot of adults would want his job too!

Ryan McNaught Lego Brickman with helicopter made of Lego

Win a family pass to Ryan McNaught's Brickman Experience on the Gold Coast

Do you have a Lego lover at your place? 

Head over to the pinned post on my Facebook page and leave me a comment letting me know what's your kids favourite thing to build from Lego?

Toni x

Disclosure - I received complementary tickets to attend the Lego Brickman Experience in exchange for running a giveaway. I did not receive payment for this post.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Things you should never say to an overdue pregnant woman

Everyone knows you should pick your words to a pregnant woman wisely, all those hormones flowing through the body combined with physical exhaustion can afterall lead to an emotional breakdown at the drop of a hat. Despite my raging hormones while pregnant I've always been pretty good at taking people's well intentioned {however misguided} advice and comments on board without reducing to a blubbering mess or raging psycho. However, I've realised this past week that all of that goes out the window once you're overdue. Being overdue is a whole new ballgame. 

I had planned on quietly announcing the birth so it'd be a surprise for everyone, hoping to avoid all the last minute messages asking if the baby was here. Of course that was when I thought she'd arrive early and long before I went overdue. It's become apparently inherent that every single person in my life now knows I'm ridiculously overdue and no matter how many times I acknowledge that I too am fully aware of this fact, they like to remind me every few minutes of every day. People are helpful like that.

Here's the thing though, I'm well aware of the fact that I'm overdue. I'm well aware that I haven't had the baby yet and that she's taking forever to arrive. The thing with fertility treatment is that I know the exact date she was conceived, which means I have no doubt when she was due {which is actually 2 days before my due date according to the hospital so I'm even more overdue than they think}. I don't need reminding from everyone else, I'm already reminding myself 4066 times a day that my baby should've been here by now. But that doesn't stop everyone else from letting me know too. In fact the messages from people go to a whole new level once you're past due. 

At the risk of alienating everyone I know I thought I'd record my favourite messages. I know my friends and family {strangers I meet at the shops etc} are well meaning when they say these things, but my exhausted and frustrated brain can't help but want to react to them sarcastically {because sarcasm is the only way I'm dealing with this continuous waiting}. I'm nice as pie on the outside, but this is what I'm really thinking on the inside and why you should never say these things to an overdue woman. No offence.

Have you had the baby yet?

Yep, I just thought I'd tell everyone individually when they contacted me instead of announcing it to the world, I figured it'd be more personal that way. Ironically the more times people ask me this the more I'm leading towards deliberately not announcing the birth for a few days.

I have a good feeling tonight will be the night.

God I hope so, I've had that feeling for about two weeks now and haven't been right so far. Hopefully you're a better psychic than me.

You just need to relax, it'll happen when the time is right.

Umm this is my most hated saying in the entire world because I heard it nearly every day while we were trying to conceive. Newsflash it's hard to relax when you can hardly move, have heartburn/reflux after every meal or drink, can't sleep due to pain, have to pee every second, feel like your belly is going to rip in half and are fielding 4000 messages a day asking whether the baby has arrived. Believe me I've tried. If anyone wants to volunteer to come give me a massage, paint my nails, take me out to lunch etc though I wouldn't be opposed to that.

Babies come when they're ready.

Yeah I'm well aware she's going to control me, not the other way around, I already have a child.

You should have sex/eat curry/go for a walk/bounce on a ball etc

Wait, hang on a minute I thought all I had to do was relax?
Your advice is so contradictory I can't keep up.

Can you hurry up and have your baby?

Yeah sure I was totally holding out on purpose. Sorry about that.

Let me know the minute your contractions start.

Sure, I'll have time to personally message everyone while I'm in immense pain, hoping this time its real, and hoping I make it to the hospital in time and don't birth on the side of the road. Don't worry, you'll be my first priority once the contractions start {again, for the seventh time already this pregnancy}.

So when is your actual due date?

About 500 years ago.

Wow I swear you've been pregnant forever!

Thanks for reminding me. I totally forgot.


In all honesty though I get that people are just excitedly waiting for the baby to arrive and don't want to miss out on the news when it happens. Rest assured I'll let you all know once she FINALLY decides to make her appearance. Hell at this point I'll probably be shouting it from the rooftops the minute she comes out because I'll be so freaking excited that the waiting is finally over. Until then I promise to keep my sarcastic replies to everyone's comments confined to the inside of my brain and not actually snap at anyone {hopefully}.

Did you go overdue in your pregnancy?

Toni x
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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Mummy Must Have Review | The Natural Gift Box Co

Have you ever been looking for the perfect baby shower gift, but have no idea where to start? Want to spoil a new mum, but don't know what she'll need? Perhaps you want to spoil your partner while she's pregnant, but have no idea what to get {no offence guys, but most men don't really know where to start}. Gift boxes are an awesome alternative when you need to find the perfect gift for a loved one, but can't think of anything. 

But what if you want to put together your own gift box, but don't want to source all the products from a million different shops? Or you have the perfect idea, but you want everything professionally wrapped and sent straight to your loved one? Well, I've discovered the perfect small business which can help in all of these situations.

The Natural Gift Box Co is an online business {based out of central Queensland} that specialises in purposeful gift boxes full of organic and natural products for mums and bubs to make pregnancy and new motherhood less stressful and more relaxing. Owner Kim has hand picked a selection of essential eco-conscious skincare, personal care and baby products from trusted Australian small businesses that she's tried and tested herself. She's put together various combinations of these gorgeous products to provide 13 different curated gift boxes for numerous occasions. In addition to this The Natural Gift Box Co also sells the majority of their product range individually and allows customers to design custom gift boxes or buy gift vouchers, making gift giving easy and convenient for everyone involved. I was lucky enough to put together my own custom gift box recently and this is what I thought of the process and the products. 

To be honest I normally wouldn't put together a gift box for myself, in fact I struggle to justify buying anything for myself {I'm sure most mum's can relate}. However, after being house bound for the last few months of this pregnancy, thanks to extremely painful pelvic pain, being able to put together a selection of beautiful products just for myself {without leaving my house} was fantastic. It's amazing how quickly I go stir crazy being stuck at home, but receiving a beautiful package in the mail definitely helped to lift my spirits. Having such gorgeous products arrive straight to my door was super convenient {and meant I could avoid the hassle of sending T out to get items for me that he had no idea about}

Personally, when I choose gifts for others I try to be super practical, so when I put together my own gift box I deliberately chose products for both when our new baby has arrived and some to help me relax and prepare for the birth. I chose a mix between necessary items that I knew would come in handy for my hospital stay {disposable breast pads and maternity pads} and luxury items like the pregnancy bath tea and also a healing mama bath soak for once everything is getting back to normal after birth. The bath tea has been an ah-mazing way to relax at the end of the day and all the other items are already safely packed in my hospital bag {which I've finally packed, thankgod}.
Putting together my gift box online was super easy as there's a simple drop down menu to choose from. I'm familiar with the majority of the products stocked by The Natural Gift Box Co so it didn't take me very long to pick what I wanted. One thing I really loved is that there's a product information page on the website which lists brand information and ingredient lists for each of the products stocked which made it really easy for me to make a choice between the products I wasn't familiar with. This information is also super helpful for those buying gifts for people with allergies.

As you can see from the photos above the products arrive beautifully packaged within a cardboard gift box. It felt like my birthday unwrapping it and I almost didn't want to open the individual products because they looked so pretty {almost}.

The Natural GiftBox Co is a great option for a baby shower gift, a push present {if you're lucky enough to have a partner who knows what they are} or as a lovely gift for a new mum once the baby has arrived. Without a doubt what sets them apart from other gift giving companies is the ability to design your own gift box and that it can include any combination of products you like {from the selection available} and there's no minimum $ spend when creating a custom gift box. I love that this allows the gift box to be truly tailored to the recipient. I also love that when you order any gift from The Natural Gift Box Co you know you're supporting a number of other Australian small businesses at the same time. If you have a special occasion coming up for a loved one in your life then I definitely recommend you browse through The Natural Gift Box Co website. You can also keep up to date with gift ideas and promotions by following them on Facebook and Instagram.

Have you ever been stuck trying to find the perfect gift for someone?

Toni x

Disclosure - I was provided a custom gift box with products of my choice for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed within this review are based on my experience with the ordering process and products included in my gift box. I did not receive payment for this review.

Linking with Kylie

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mummy Must Have Review | Looking Good Babe Care Package

When I was pregnant the first time around I was so adamant that I wasn't prepared and had no idea what I was doing {when infact I ended up being closer to over prepared}. I packed my hospital bag by 29 weeks, which I thought was super late, but ended up being 10 weeks before I needed it. I bought all the things, and I mean alllll the things, because I had no idea what I did and didn't need so I just took the approach of I'll have one of everything thanks, just incase {and let me tell you baby shops love customers like that}. Unfortunately being super prepared didn't help me feel like I knew what I was doing... it just meant I ended up with a heap of clothes and items that I never used {and have hoarded since in the hopes I would use them for the next baby, you know to justify the outrageous amount of money I spent preparing last time}.

On the bright side this meant I've had a lot less to buy for baby number 2, which is a good thing {it also helps that we're having another girl}. However, it's also lulled me into a false sense of security as I've coasted along the last few months with an it'll be right mate, I've already got everything attitude. Now I find myself at 37 weeks pregnant freaking out that I don't have a cot mattress for the baby to sleep on, or sheets for said mattress for that matter. I also haven't fully packed my hospital bag {because I forgot I'll need things like pyjamas and socks, who even forgets normal stuff like that? Me, obviously}. In fact I've been so laid back this time I've pretty much forgotten babies need things other than nappies, nappy cream, wipes and clothes. Of course now I'm slightly freaking out I only have a few weeks to get all the things I've forgotten. Seriously how do we forget about all the other stuff?

Thankfully my friend Vicky from Little Minx Milestones has come to my rescue and provided me with the most awesome looking good babe care package that covers so many grooming essentials for newborns. Despite having children older than mine, she clearly hasn't forgotten what it's like to have a newborn and all the little extras they need, which is good news for first time mums and all the mums out there like me {who clearly still have baby brain 3yrs later}. One of the main things I'd forgotten about is grooming, I totally forgot how much effort goes into caring for a tiny person's skin, hair and nails.

It's easy to forgot how razor sharp baby nails are, and how they grow like weeds, as soon as you trim them the little buggers grow back twice as long. Thanks to the new babies from mother's group, who've recently reminded me of this fact. The looking good babe care package includes both nail scissors and clippers with stainless steel rounded tip cutting edges to make trimming little nails safer and easier. Hopefully they'll make me less anxious about cutting her tiny little fingers. Have you ever cut baby nails? It's seriously nerve-wracking! Luckily there's also a natural wood and bristle nail brush included so I can clean under her nails as well {which will also come in handy on the days I'm too chicken to cut them}.

Then there's baby hair, some people give birth to perfectly bald little babes, not me. I have this magical talent for producing babies with a full head of hair and they never seem to lose it, it just grows longer and longer. I should've known from all the heartburn I experienced that bub would come out looking like a monkey, but it was still a total shock to see a baby with a full head of hair. Judging by the amount of acid reflux and heartburn I've been having this time, this one will come out looking like a gorilla, and if she's anything like her sister the cradle cap will be horrendous {I have so many fun things to look forward to}.

The Little Minx Milestones care package includes the cutest little wooden brush and comb set. Her big sister is very jealous that these are just for the baby. The bristles are so soft and the wood is so much more special than a standard plastic set. The package also includes fairy hair detangler spray {love that it's called fairy detangler, so cute}. If you've never used detangler spray, you need to start, it's like spray on conditioner for kids and it works a treat getting knots out. We still use "magic spray" with bub now and she's nearly 4.
The package also includes a natural konjac sponge which is gentle on sensitive newborn skin and helps to restore the pH level of the skin. Bub had extremely dry and sensitive skin due to her allergies, so I'm fully expecting this little babe to have the same. I'm really keen to see how much kinder this sponge is to her skin compared to run of the mill washers. The package also includes a rubber duck to make bath time fun. I'm sure her sister will ensure that the duck is extremely animated to entertain her!

The looking good babe care package really does cover all the grooming needs of a newborn from nails to hair, and it even includes silicone finger brushes to care for new teeth once they come through. Like all their other packages, Little Minx Milestones have put a great deal of effort into curating an extremely useful gift pack for new mums. Little Minx Milestones is a family owned business started by fellow mum Vicky, who put her own experience plus recommendations from over 300 other families together to create a online store that offers a range of care packages, survival kits and presents for babies, toddlers and families. Little Minx Milestones range includes proven organic, homeopathic, fair trade and environmentally conscious products that have been extensively tried and tested. Little Minx offer a comprehensive range of care packages and survival kits providing solutions for children of all ages from pre-birth right through to school age. I have no doubt Vicky has been a saviour for many new mums and has provided many family members and friends with the perfect baby shower gifts as well, she's certainly made me feel a lot more prepared for the imminent arrival of baby number 2.

Did you forget all the things before having your second baby too? {Please say yes}

Toni x

Disclosure - I was provided a looking good babe care package from Little Minx Milestones for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed in this review are based on my experience with the products, and my very real experience with baby brain! I did not receive payment for this review and have purchased products from Little Minx Milestones previously.

Linking with Kylie

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Monday, March 6, 2017

Mummy Must Have Review | The Happy Me Shop

When bub was about 14 months old we were referred for speech therapy because she had a few issues. She was considered to be behind in the number of words she said for her age at the time and she also wouldn't engage with many people other than me. They were quite worried that she had some sort of sensory processing disorder so we set about trying to improve both her language skills and getting her to engage more through various therapy activities.

A lot of the activities we did involved therapeutic play where we were deliberately trying to get her to interact and actively turn take during games or different scenarios to encourage her to engage with us. We tried various different play scenarios including sensory play, puzzles, imaginary play and lots of little fidget toys and gadgets. Over the course of 9 months of speech therapy and playing she transformed into an almost unrecognisable child, her language developed beyond her age level, she happily engaged with us and children she didn't know and she now won't stop talking {all day, everyday}.

It was during her therapy sessions, and seeing how much progress she was making, that my love of educational toys and sensory play really came to life and I took all the skills from therapy and applied them to our everyday life at home. Needless to say our house now looks somewhat like a cross between a daycare centre and a toy shop because I've filled it with so many educational toys and we're always doing learning through play activities. Even though T would argue we already have enough toys, I'm constantly adding to our collection, especially when I find awesome new products I haven't seen before. My latest little stash of new toys have come from The Happy Me Shop, which I discovered by meeting owner Rachelle in a Facebook group.

The Happy Me Shop is owned and run by Rachelle, a clinical social worker who's had her own counselling practice for over 10 years. Rachelle has experience treating many mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression and trauma, in both adolescents and young children. She also works with clients who have development issues such as autism, learning disorders and sensory processing issues. Throughout her career as a counsellor Rachelle has used many different products to help clients build new skills during therapy and it was witnessing the many benefits from using these products in her therapy sessions that inspired her to create an online store. She's passionate about sharing her knowledge to help others and wanted to give everyone access to a variety of therapist recommended products, rather than limiting their benefits to those attending therapy sessions, so The Happy Me Shop came to fruition.

The Happy Me Shop stocks a range of therapist recommended products including fidget tools, sensory play items and books for both kids and adults. Products stocked can be used to treat sensory issues, stress, anxiety, autism, to develop problem solving skills and also to naturally aid in fine and gross motor skill development through play. My favourite products for bub have of course been the sensory play items and fidget tools as we do a lot of sensory play and fine motor based activities naturally throughout our day. 

I chose a selection of different fidget and sensory items that I knew would be great for everyday play, and are also small enough to fit into the canvas busy bag we take to appointments each week. Being heavily pregnant we have to attend a different appointment almost on a weekly basis at this point in time and it's essential for me to have a few different play items on hand to keep her entertained, because as you can imagine doctor and hospital appointments aren't very interesting for toddlers. Our favourite items for the busy bag have been the 3d worm puzzle, magnetic maze and small elastic ball.

The worm puzzle and magnetic maze are both great for fine motor skills as well as increasing her concentration as she has to work through both activities until she gets to a desired outcome. They're also great for promoting independent play {which is necessary when I'm having important medical discussions}. They also both help with hand/eye co-ordination as she manoeuvres the individual puzzle pieces and magnetic wand, plus they're both fun!

The small elastic ball is a great tool for sensory input, even I can't resist twirling it around in my hands. It's great for pulling, scrunching, bouncing, throwing, catching {and especially good for chasing with our kitten when we're at home}.

Without a doubt both bub's and my favourite of all the items we've been playing with is the sensory dual drop timer. It reminds me of a lava lamp {which I was obsessed with as a teenager} but it's not hot or glass so it's great for younger kids. There's something so calming about watching the little blobs drop down through all the levels and the fact that the orange and pink blobs race against each other to the bottom makes it even more interesting. I could seriously watch it all day and bub is always going and grabbing it to watch the colours race. It's a great little product for quiet time or to help kids wind down for bed time {and it's just as good for adults, in fact I've considered stealing it for my room on numerous occasions}. You can watch a video of it in action here, it's sped up faster than it is in real life, but it's still just as mesmerising.

We've loved using all our items from The Happy Me Shop and I can't recommend fidget and sensory tools enough. They help build so many skills and promote calm and relaxation, plus they don't get boring as they're so interactive. Check out The Happy Me Shop online for more great items, we already own a lot of others that are also stocked such as playfoam, a magnetic fishing game and a jacobs ladder and they're all great for so many different play activities as well as busy bags. You can also follow The Happy Me Shop on Facebook and Instagram.

Have you ever used fidget tools or sensory items?

Toni x

Disclosure - I was gifted the toys shown above for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are based on our experience with the products. I did not receive payment for this review.

Linking with Kell, Alicia and Denyse
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