Friday, August 26, 2016

The Day You Came Into The World

The day you give birth, especially for the first time, is such a life altering event. Regardless of how you give birth, once that tiny human has entered the world everything changes. Relationships and priorities change, bonds are formed and life will never be the same. Even though my own birth story didn't go the way I had hoped, it was still the most important {and memorable} day of my life to date so I wrote it all out in a blog post so I'd remember all the details years later when my memory is hazy. Frances Lalor, a local children's book author, went even further and wrote a book to capture the memory of her birth story for her daughter.

The Day You Came Into The World is written about the birth of Frances' first child. The story uses simple words and scribble like illustrations to take us through the day her daughter arrived, including the anticipation felt beforehand and how everything changed once she was born. Although the sequence of events are slightly different to my own birth story, the sentiments expressed throughout the book are the same as I felt before and after my own daughter was born. The book will be easy for any new parents to relate to as the emotions felt are the same, regardless of the delivery.



At some point in time our kids are inevitably going to ask questions about the day they were born, which can be quite a delicate conversation to have. I know when the time comes for me I don't want to let her know how crazy her delivery was, but I do want her to know that it was the most special day of my life despite all the drama. The Day You Came Into The World makes that conversation much easier to have with children and explains their birthday in a almost fairy tale like way. I've always believed that books play an important role in helping to explain situations to young children. Reading about something in simple words with relevant pictures can help make big concepts so much easier for young children to understand. The book accurately captures the emotions felt by new parents and conveys this very simply in a way that young children will be able to relate to.

The Day You Came Into The World would be a perfect gift for a new mum, at a baby shower or after birth, so they have a special way to explain everything to their children just how wonderful it was when they came into the world. It even includes a page at the end to record the baby's birth details. The book can be purchased online or find a stockist here. 20% of all book profits are also donated to towards children's hospital foundations to help sick and injured children across Australia. The book also comes beautifully gift wrapped when purchased online which is a lovely added touch.

Did you have a good birth experience, or did things go a bit pear shaped like mine?

Toni x

Disclosure - I was gifted a copy of The Day You Came Into The World for the purpose of review. I did not receive payment for this review.
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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Mummy Must Have Review | Fit Fingers

If you follow my Instagram account then you'll know I'm very passionate about learning through play and doing hands on activities with bub so she learns and practices skills that she'll need later for school. At the start of the year I had a conversation with my friend about all the skills kids in her daughters prep class were meant to know prior to starting school and how so many kids didn't know what to do. That conversation really sparked my desire to help prepare bub for school {even though its still a little while away}. Before then I knew of basic development skills but we hadn't done much other than speech therapy to actively help bub learn these skills. After finding out how important fine motor skills like pincer grip, pencil grip and hand strengthening are for children starting school, I decided to come up with different activities I could do at home with bub to help develop these skills. 

I share a lot of our activities over on Instagram. They're all age appropriate and child led so bub only does the ones she wants to do and at her own pace. Everything is set up like a game so she is both playing and learning rather than me specifically teaching her how to do things. I personally know I learnt better by doing things myself rather than being shown, so that's how I teach bub, with a bit of guidance as she plays if needed. I get lots of ideas from other toddler based accounts on Instagram and that's often where I find lots of our educational resources as well. A few months ago I discovered Fit Fingers on Instagram via Discovering Our Toddler after they reviewed their resource pack.



Fit Fingers is a carefully curated pack of resources designed to help children build fine motor skills while having fun. The kit includes a number of loose parts including beads, buttons and pom poms, pipe cleaners and various threading strings, plasticine, crayons, pens and pencils, pegs, scissors and some toys. Above is an example of just some of the items included in a Fit Fingers pack. I love how all of the small parts come in little resealable clear pouches which makes storage after playing really easy. The whole kit also comes in a big oversized clear pencil case so everything can be kept together when not in use. The packaging itself can also double as an extra fine motor skill workout for kids as they pull open the seals and learn to work the zip. As it contains various loose parts, the Fit Fingers pack is suitable for children 3+ and should always be used with adult supervision.



Prep teacher Natalie and her husband Mark developed the Fit Fingers pack after seeing how much children struggle at school when they have weak fine motor skills. The Fit Fingers resources pack offers parents and children many hands on, engaging and multi-purpose activities designed to build hand strength and fine motor skills in young children. The pack comes with a list of different activities for scissor skills, hand strengthening, threading and beading and to develop pincer grip, to give parents numerous ways to use the kit. There are also additional activities available in the resource section online.

All of the pieces within the pack are quite open ended so there really are endless activity possibilities. I get a lot of inspiration for the activities we do from other Instagram accounts, Playschool {yes really Playschool is a treasure trove of toddler ideas} and by simply making things up. In reality we've only really touched the surface with the activities possible with the Fit Fingers kit, but here's some of bub's favourites that we've done so far.

BUTTON COLOUR SORTING



Bub loves colour sorting activities using any type of materials and loose parts so I knew button sorting would be a hit. I put all the shape buttons in a tray and spread our coloured paint cups around. I added in the Fit Fingers tweezers to make the task a little more challenging. Bub's done colour sorting with tweezers before, but the Fit Fingers tweezers are a little trickier than the other ones we have so she mainly put the buttons into the tweezers using her spare hand instead of directly picking them up. It was a good exercise in hand strengthening as well because the buttons are slippery she had to hold the tweezers extra tight so they didn't slip out early. She came back to this activity multiple times throughout the day, tipping all the buttons back into the main tray so she could sort them again.


THREADING BEADS


Bub has loved threading since she was about 2 and a half. I first introduced her to threading with really chunky beads and pip cleaners so it was easier for her to grasp the beads and manipulate them onto the pipe cleaners. As she's grown more confident we've moved onto smaller beads and thinner string. The Fit Fingers pack comes with a wide variety of beads of varying sizes, materials and shapes and it also includes pipe cleaners and different string so children can work on beading at different levels. For this activity I put out a big range of the beads, a few pipe cleaners and the clear plastic line for bub to choose from. She chose a range of different beads and threaded them on the clear plastic line to make a necklace for grandma.


SORTING POM POMS


This pom pom sorting activity was inspired by Wonder and Awe on Instagram after they shared a similar sorting activity with a coloured egg carton. I coloured the egg carton with the markers from the Fit Fingers pack and then left an assortment of pom poms + the tweezers from the pack out for bub to find. Like the button sorting activity bub came back to this over and over during the day. She rotated between using her fingers and using the tweezers to sort the pom poms.

WASHING BASKET



One of the skills bub was yet to master was opening and closing pegs properly. To help her practice I used some of the Fit Fingers items to create a mini washing basket for her to practice pegging the pegs on the line. I used a small cane basket and threaded some of the clear plastic line from the kit through it to create a washing line. I then put out a selection of her dolls clothes and pegs for her to hang on the washing line. Trying to peg the clothes proved a little tricky so she decided to just try and peg the pegs on and off the line by themselves. After I helped her to squeeze the pegs with her fingers a few times she figured out how to do it herself and spent most of the morning putting pegs on and off her little play line.

Although we've already done a heap of activities with our pack {there's some more on Instagram}, there are still so many more I have planned to do. So far we haven't used the scissors as I don't think bub's quite ready to be trusted with real scissors, but I plan on introducing scissor activities soon. I love how the items in the Fit Fingers pack are re-usable and can be used for multiple different activities making the pack great value as it can literally be used for years. The activities can also be made more challenging as your child develops more hand strength and dexterity so the kit can grow with your child. I can see we'll be using the kit pieces on a regular basis from now until bub starts school.

Natalie and Mark have kindly created an exclusive offer for Finding Myself Young readers so you can get a Fit Fingers pack for your children too. To save $10 {AUD} off a Fit Fingers pack* simply use the code fmy-blog-aug-16 when purchasing from www.lapetitestore.com. This offer is available to both Australian and international readers, however is restricted to the first 50 orders placed between now and August 30th.


Toni x

* Offer terms & conditions ~ discount code is valid for $10 AUD off each Fit Fingers pack and limited to the first 50 customers. Customers can purchase multiple packs, however these must be purchased in a single transaction as the discount code is limited to single use per customer. Postage within Australia is $8 with free postage available for Australian orders over $90. International shipping rates will be calculated at checkout based on location. Discount code is valid from 23rd August 2016 - 30th August 2016.

Disclosure - I was provided with a Fit Fingers pack for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own based on our experience with the pack. I did not receive payment for this review.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Mummy Must Have Review | JJ Rabbit Australia

When you have a baby it's easy to get overwhelmed by all the things you think they’ll need. If you're like me you probably went out and bought all the things, because books, nurses, family and strangers told you they were all necessary. After a few months though you soon realise just what you did need and what you could of lived without. Then your baby gets older and there's a whole new round of products to buy and the process starts all over again. There's a lot of gimmicky products out there, but when it comes to necessities dinnerware is pretty high up there. Your child will need plates, cups and cutlery pretty much from the time they start solids onward and you’re guaranteed to go through a heap of them so its worth investing in a good quality set from the start.

We’ve used a heap of different sets over the last two and a half years since bub started solids and I quickly learnt the cheap $2 plates and cups don’t last very long {and cheap no-leak drink bottles are not leak proof at all, but that’s a whole other story}. Another thing I've learnt is that bub loves matching sets, i.e. the cup and plate look the same, whether they're covered in Peppa Pig or everything is all blue, she {like her mum} loves it when things match. It's entirely possible I've passed on my ocd in small doses.

I recently found JJ Rabbit Australia on facebook and was drawn to both their eco-consciousness and cool matching designs. JJ Rabbit Australia is an environmentally responsible children’s feeding brand with a range of BpA, Phalates and PVC free animal inspired feeding essentials. The JJ Rabbit range includes CUPPIES, ergoFORK+SPOON, aniBOWL, dipPLATES, dryBIB and siliMATs in bright colourful animal designs. They're cute, biodegradable, funky, functional and come in matching sets, so pretty much every toddler {and ocd mum's} dream dinnerware. We introduced some of the rabbit designs into our house a few weeks ago in an effort to make meal times more fun and exciting for bub {and I was secretly hoping it just might help with her fussy eating if I was lucky}.


Ironically they didn't even make it to dinner time before we used them the first day, instead we had an impromptu picnic outside with bub's dolls and fake food. If you're ever planning a fake picnic with your kids it's probably best not to use a white blanket, or at least don't give them real drink in their cup, because it's highly likely at some point it'll get knocked over and spill all over the blanket. Rookie error, won't do that again. The picnic was a good way to get her excited to use the set for dinner to eat real food later though.





Without a doubt both mine and bub's favourite piece from the JJ Rabbit Australia range is the cuppie. These cups are unlike anything that I've seen before and are one of the coolest toddler cup designs ever. We have the orange rabbit cup which has a little rabbit sitting inside the cup so as bub drinks he appears. How cool is that? I'm also a big fan of the two handles. Bub's been drinking from big girl cups for a while now, but she still uses a straw, because when she tries to drink from the cup itself she inevitably ends up with half her drink down her shirt. The cuppie has been great because holding the handles she can drink without spilling anything. It's quickly become her favourite cup and we've had a pretty major breakthrough with it, bub's finally started drinking milk from a cup. That may not seem like a huge milestone to most parents, but considering she had a pretty severe dairy allergy from birth {which she grew out of last December} it's been a long road convincing her to drink milk when she used to associate it with causing her pain. We've tried milk in other cups for the last few months but she simply refuses to drink it, but finally she'll drink it out of the cuppie.




The other pieces are innovative in design as well, for example the dipPLATES, which come in various different animal designs, are all stackable and are divided into two sections to easily separate condiments from food. The siliMATs can be used as either a non-slip placemat or as an actual eating surface as they're anti-bacterial. I've used ours as a placemat and rolled it up into the nappy bag to use when we eat out so her food doesn't end up touching the sometimes questionable food court tables. The JJ Rabbit products are designed in Austin, Texas and are distributed in Australia by JJ Rabbit Australia. Local stockists can be found here.

While I was hoping the dinner set may have brought about some miraculous changes to her fussy eating habits, unfortunately it hasn't {that tomato and lettuce on her taco plate are never eaten, but I keep persisting}. To be honest I pretty much knew that was wishful thinking, there was no way I'd change 2yrs of fussy eating in a couple of weeks, but I'll keep trying. We did have a pretty huge breakthrough with the cuppie though and it's quickly become her favourite dinner set so I definitely think the JJ Rabbit products are a worthy investment and they certainly make meal times fun.

Are your kids fussy eaters too?

Toni x

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

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Mummy Must Have Review | Happy Hands Happy Heart Natural Playdough

We're huge fans of playdough in this house, even as an adult I still love playing with it. It's such a great sensory experience and you can't help but want to keep squishing, squashing and moulding it. Playdough was one of the first sensory play ideas I ever tried with bub, back when she was about 15 months old and going to speech therapy, since then it's been an almost daily fixture in our house. The learning and play possibilities with playdough are pretty much endless, it's such a great open ended play medium. We've used it to learn letters, shapes, numbers and colours, as well as practising fine motor skills, developing language and for hours and hours of imaginary play. 

The one thing I don't like about playdough however is when all the colours get mushed up together and become a big ball of poo brown or snot green. You know what I'm talking about right? My OCD just can. not. deal. with. that. at. all. I think that's partially the reason why I've never made my own playdough. Despite the fact I'm a relatively crafty SAHM {I think?} and I've gone and bought all the ingredients for playdough, with the best intentions of actually making it, I just can't bring myself to do it. The thought of creating the perfect colourful, soft, fluffy playdough only to have her smoosh it into a pile of poo goop half an hour later is soul destroying. That probably sounds a bit over the top but seriously I would be having an internal breakdown watching playdough that I made being ruined before my eyes. Perhaps I'll mellow over time, but for now it's just not happening.

Luckily for me {and all the other OCD mums out there} there are plenty of places to buy ready made playdough. I know a lot of mums worry about the possible nasties used in pre-made playdough, but there are many places to buy beautiful homemade, chemical free versions as well. A few months ago I discovered Happy Hands Happy Heart on instagram and immediately fell in love, firstly with the gorgeous playdough creations on their insta feed, and then with the playdough itself when I found out it was all natural.


Happy Hands Happy Heart natural playdough review
Happy Hands Happy Heart {HHHH} is a family run business creating homemade all natural playdough that's taste safe and designed to be visually vibrant and also scented to promote a calm, enjoyable play experience. HHHH are passionate about encouraging creative sensory play and have created playdough that's perfect for play based learning, fine motor skill development and scented to promote well-being and calm.

Happy Hands Happy Heart currently have 9 flavours in their range, including mandarin, blood orange, cinnamon, vanilla, lemon, pink grapefruit, lavender, spearmint and licorice. Each flavour of HHHH playdough is dyed and scented using different fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices and essential oils, so you can rest easy knowing there are no nasty chemicals. We've been playing with the lemon, lavender and licorice flavours and I have to say they smell absolutely divine. I honestly wish you could smell them through the computer {although you might want to lick your screen then}.
Happy Hands Happy Heart lemon, lavender and licorice scented playdough
My favourite of all the flavours we have is lemon, and that's purely because the smell reminds me of lemon meringue pie. I literally sniff the jar a good 5-10 times when we get it out to play with. That's not weird right? It smells sooo yummy! So naturally we play with that one the most. It's a good way to satisfy my need for lemon meringue pie, without actually consuming any calories. 

Lemon meringue playdough
Can we all just take a moment to appreciate this playdough lemon meringue pie Emma from HHHH created...
The Happy Hands Happy Heart playdough is so soft and fluffy, it literally scoops out of the jar like ice-cream. It doesn't have a thick plastic feel like mass produced playdough either, it's so squishy and light and super easy to mould. In fact when we played with it again yesterday bub and I spent a good 15 minutes just squishing finger prints into it because it felt so good. Most of the time though bub likes to roll it with her mini wood rolling pin and make heart cookies with the cookie cutter that came in our set.


I'm also a huge fan of creating what I call playdough stations for bub where I put out a colour of playdough and then a selection of cutters and loose parts for her to use with it {usually in a variety of dip trays}. I often find these playdough stations keep her entertained on and off for hours throughout the day as she comes and goes as she pleases. They're also a wonderful way to ignite her imagination and its always fun to watch what she makes with each of the bits and pieces I leave out for her. One we did recently included the licorice playdough, some black beans, rocks and the mini rolling pin and heart cutter.


Each flavour of HHHH playdough comes in a generous 400g jar, which is more than enough to keep the kids going for a long time. I'm used to tiny 50g tubs so 400g seems enormous. To make it last even longer just give the kids a little bit at a time, that way if it ends up all smooshed together with other colours you still have more in reserve. If you're OCD like me though you'll probably still only give them one colour at a time which means it can easily be put straight back into the jar when they're done playing. The glass jar keeps the playdough nice and air tight, and despite opening and using ours numerous times its still soft and squishy. If it does start drying out though its just a case of adding a few drops of water and moulding it through to make it soft again. HHHH are committed to being as environmentally friendly as possible which is why their playdough comes in a recyclable jar. When you need to restock your playdough you can also return the jar to HHHH to save $1 off your new purchase.

I love that Happy Hands Happy Heart playdough is all natural with no nasties or preservatives so I know its completely safe for bub to use. We've spent hours playing with our few jars already and the playdough is all still in perfect condition. Not to mention it still smells absolutely divine. If your children love playing with playdough, but for whatever reason you don't have the time or inclination to make your own, HHHH really is the next best thing. The Happy Hands Happy Heart playdough is available in single jars or smaller party favour sets from www.happyhandshappyheart.com.au.

Do your kids love playing with playdough too?

Toni x

Disclosure - I was provided Happy Hands Happy Heart playdough and accessories for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own based on experience with the products. I did not receive payment for this review.

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Friday, July 29, 2016

We now have a threenager

Something really odd happened this week....

On Monday I woke up as a mother of a threenager {for those not familiar, this is the colloquial term for 3 year old, once you have one you'll understand why}. Three years old! How did that happen? Well obviously I know how it happened because I've seen it unfold before my eyes over the last 1100 days, however it still seems like one minute I was in a daze wondering where my newborn appeared from {if that statement makes no sense you obviously haven't read my birth story} and now I have a sassy, head strong three going on thirteen year old toddler.

Isn't it funny how pregnancy seems to take 4529 years to end and yet once the baby pops out time seems to go by so quick. It's also ironic that we tend to forget all the hard times that we thought would never end. I'm fairly certain during the first few months of her life when sleep was almost non existent, and we were dealing with a super unsettled baby due to allergies, I didn't think life was going by at a blink-and-you'll-miss-it rate. Yet here I am three years later wondering where all the time went. I'm aware it all seems rather cliche but it really is true. And now I'm worried I'm going to wake up one day soon and she'll be a teenager.

Speaking of teenagers, wow is the term threenager accurate! I thought the last few weeks that we had entered the threenager stage a bit early as the phrases NO!, I don't wan't to and I said NO had been making regular appearances in her vocabulary, however it's like she turned 3 and a switch was flicked and now she's a full blown moody tiny teenager. You know when a caterpillar goes into its cocoon and comes out a butterfly? It's like that, but not as pretty.

There are good parts still though of course like the cuddles for no reason and aww mummy I love you and mummy you're so beautiful at random moments throughout the day, but the rest of the day seems to be peppered with tantrums, mood swings and defiance. I've admired her sense of independence in the past, but after a one hour screaming tantrum over bed time it doesn't seem so endearing anymore. I'm really starting to think that three is a test all us parents need to go through in order to be prepared for the real teenage years. I'm just hoping she's getting all her angst out now and we'll coast through the teens. It could happen, right?

Do you have a threenager too?
Or if you've survived the threenager phase do you have any advice for me?

Toni x


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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Mummy Must Have Review | Go Go Pepe Toys

By now I'm sure you're all aware of our love of play and learning through play. One of the most enjoyable parts of being a mum for me is getting to spend time playing with bub, re-living the childhood I never had. Now that she's almost 3, in less than a week... eek where did that time go, she's very much into imaginary play and is constantly acting out weird and wonderful scenarios with her toys. I'm being very selective with any new toys we add to our collection lately, they have to have an educational purpose or be great for imaginary play, and if they're great for both then even better. I'm also on a quest to replace the majority of her plastic toys with wooden ones. Now that she's a little bit older, and has a better appreciation for her toys, investing in wooden toys that'll last for years {and we can pass down to her siblings} makes a lot of sense. Plus wooden toys have nostalgic charm and are awesome for open ended imaginary play. Of the course the ultimate goal would be to replace her plastic toys with toys that combine all three and are wooden, educational and great for imaginary play, but they're sometimes hard to come by. However, I'm happy to report that our latest addition is just that.

Bernie's number bus is an adorable wooden replica of the famous red double decker London bus, designed by UK toy company Indigo Jamm. The bus comes with 6 numbered and coloured wooden peg people who sit as passengers in the top and bottom levels and can also be removed for playing outside of the bus. The roof and top level of the bus are removable so kids can get the peg people in and out {and in bub's case fill Bernie back up with all sorts of other treasures}. Bernie provides hours of imaginary play and the peg people mean he's also great for teaching numbers, counting, sequencing and colours. Plus he's super cute {which lets face it is sometimes just as important when selecting toys}.


Bernie's number bus by Indigo Jamm


My aunty has lived in London since I was 3 months old and we visited when I was 12 years old. It was the best holiday I've ever been on and I immediately had a homely feeling when I arrived, like I belonged there, it sounds a bit cliche but I've never had that feeling anywhere else. Ever since that trip I've had a huge affinity for London and there's nothing more iconic than the red London bus. I love that this toy reminds me of my time in London and the fun we had exploring the city. Bernie brings the iconic London bus to life in a bright, fun and friendly version kids will love.

I also really love that Bernie is helping to reinforce developmental skills for bub while she plays. Each time she opens the lid and removes and replaces the peg people into their holes she's using her fine motor skills as well as her cognitive skills and hand/eye coordination. The fact that the peg people are colour coordinated with their seats also makes it easy for younger kids to recognise and learn colours. Bub already knows her colours, but even if she didn't it would've been easy for her to identify where each peg person is meant to go just by matching them up. Because she already knows her colours I usually add them into our play by saying things like "what colour is number 1?" or "what colour are these seats? "just to reinforce them.



We also use Bernie to reinforce numbers and to practice sequencing. The peg people are a great way to introduce and practice number recognition with younger children. Older children {like bub} can practice putting the people into the seats in the correct order from 1-6 to reinforce sequencing while counting aloud. Of course in addition to all the educational learning opportunities Bernie provides, there's also unlimited hours of imaginary play. Bub is constantly taking him on trips around our lounge room and making the peg people talk to each other as they go on their journeys. She also likes to pretend he's a real bus and stops at different points to pick up more passengers {usually Little People princesses and toy cars} and deliver them to their various destinations.


What I love the most about Bernie's number bus is that it's a toy that really evolves along with your child as they grow. It's recommended for toddlers 12 months and over, but as they get older instead of getting boring, it becomes even more exciting as they learn colours and numbers and can use it in different ways. Bernie would make a great gift for a first birthday that you'll know will still be well loved years later. Bub's nearly 3 and she loves him and I don't see that changing anytime soon. As a side note, I also love that all the edges are curved which makes it much safer for younger children {unlike some wooden toys}.




We got out beloved Bernie bus from Go Go Pepe Toys, an online store that specialises in ethical, unique and sustainable toys. Go Go Pepe Toys have sourced a range of quality toys from Australia and around the world to provide a boutique range of toys you wont find anywhere else. Go Go Pepe stock a range of different toys including arts and crafts, games and puzzles, wooden toys and dolls and dolls houses, amongst others.


WIN AN INDIGO JAMM BERNIE'S NUMBER BUS


Thanks to Go Go Pepe Toys I have one Bernie's number bus to giveaway to a lucky Finding Myself Young reader. To enter simply fill in the rafflecopter form below {so I can contact you if you win} and leave me a comment below letting me know what's your favourite toy from Go Go Pepe Toys and why? You can find all their products here.

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.

Good Luck!

Toni x
a Rafflecopter giveaway

TERMS & CONDITIONS
Competition commences upon publication and ends at 11:59pm August 1st 2016. One winner will receive a Bernie's number bus from Go Go Pepe Toys RRP $69.95. 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 - I was provided a Bernie's number bus from Go Go Pepe Toys for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are based on our experience with the bus. I did not receive payment for this review.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Mummy Must Have Review | There I Am Storybooks

It's no secret that bub loves reading, you only need to take one look at my Instagram account to know that. She especially loves picture books. Even though she can't properly read yet, she loves to tell me the stories from the pictures, even if it's not the same as the actual story. Her favourite book for a while now has been Piranha's Don't Eat Bananas, because they eat bums. Toddlers do love a good bum joke after all. However, she may have a new favourite book as of last week. What could be better than a book about piranha's who love to eat bums I hear you say? We all know it'd have to be pretty good to trump that!

The latest addition to our ever expanding book collection is a personalised book from There I Am Storybooks. In My Driving Adventures bub gets to be the star of every single page. She gets to watch herself go on all sorts of fun adventures and just quietly I think she truly believes she's actually done them all.

My Driving Adventures is a gorgeous book that allows your little one to be the star of the story. They'll go on a range of exciting adventures as the book retells the story of their best day ever. My Driving Adventures brings adventures across land, sea and air to life across 28 fun filled pages. The book combines vibrant, colourful illustrations with simple rhyming text to appeal to 1-4 yr olds. It'll most definitely captivate their imagination and have their full attention from beginning to end.




Bub's grown up surrounded by little boys {she was the only girl in 7 at mothers group}, so whether or not she would've loved cars and trucks, they were thrust into her world from a very young age. Although judging by her enthusiasm for all things automobiles I dare say she would've developed a love for them on her own anyway. She loves planes, trains, construction vehicles {anything with wheels really} so when we read the book for the first time she was crazy excited that she got to go on all the adventures herself. Instead of just reading about them in a story book, she was actually in the book and felt like she really did go on all the adventures.


Bub gets so excited every time we read the book, she can't wipe the smile off her face. She loves telling me exactly what she's doing on each page. "Look mummy I'm dwiving a biiiig wubbish truck and picking up all dis rubbish bins". There are 10 different vehicles in the book and without revealing all of them, I'm pretty sure her favourites include the crane and the train. "Mummy I'm using dis cwane to pick up all these lots and lots of bricks. Look they going up up up in the sky, then I put them down down down again".

I think her all time favourite is the rocket ship though. Her love affair with rockets developed at an early age thanks to various cartoons and she's still fascinated with them {I guess we all are to some extent aren't we?}. When she opened the rocket page her eyes lit up and she yelled out "WOW mummy I went to space!!! Look there's an alien too. I made friends with the alien, we best friends".


Each page of the book includes her name {I've blurred it for privacy} and has a cute little rhyme explaining what she's doing in each vehicle. Of course she loves making up her own version and extending the story as well. It's been so lovely watching her face light up when she reads the book and listening to her enthusiasm as she tells me about her adventures.

My Driving Adventures not only captivates children's imagination and provides a great picture book for them as toddlers, it's also a great keepsake for later on. I love that I now have a book that perfectly describes her adventurous personality and also includes a photo of her that I can look back on when she's grown up to remember these early years. It'll also be great for her to look back on later as well and we've included a personal message from us in the front cover {which you can do when you order the book}. There I Am Storybooks would also make an awesome unique birthday or Christmas present. If you know someone who'd love to receive one of these books read below for a special discount code and a chance to win your own copy of My Driving Adventures.


WIN A PERSONALISED MY DRIVING ADVENTURES BOOK



Thanks to There I Am Storybooks, you have a chance to win a truly unique My Driving Adventures storybook. The book will be personalised with your little one's name and photo so they can see themselves as the star of the story driving all vehicles that kids love including diggers, fire engines, rubbish trucks and even spaceships. To enter simply fill in the rafflecopter widget below {so I can contact you if you win} and leave me a comment letting me know who you would like to win the book for and why?

And if you want to get your hands on a personalised book right away, There I Am Storybooks have given me an exclusive discount code for you guys. Simply use the code FERRY to save $5 off the price of the book when ordering from https://thereiamstorybooks.com.

Toni x

Please note the winner will be required to send a hi-res image and the child's first name to There I Am Storybooks so that the book can be created.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TERMS & CONDITIONS
Competition commences upon publication and ends at 11:59pm July 26th 2016. One winner will receive a personalised My Driving Adventures book from There I Am Storybooks RRP $39.99. Prize will be delivered by There I Am Storybooks, Finding Myself Young takes no responsibility for delivery and 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.

* Discount code is valid until August 31st 2016


Disclosure - I received a copy of My Driving Adventures for the purpose of review. All opinions and cute toddler speak expressed above are based on our experience with the book. I did not receive payment for this review.


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Monday, July 11, 2016

This is my life now

Daddy's just arrived home from a twelve hour shift, he walks in the door greeted by an overly excited bub, but before he's finished saying hello to her my alarm starts blaring from my phone. We look at each other from across the room, we know exactly what it means, so we start planning our secret escape. We make an excuse to go upstairs and try to scurry away hoping bub doesn't follow us. Thankfully she doesn't. She remains blissfully unaware caught up in the latest PJ Masks episode on the iPad {which she's watched 456 times now, but still isn't bored of}, so we sneak away for a few minutes. She doesn't even notice we're gone, she's too engrossed by Owlette and Cat Boy to care, but the whole time I feel like I'm neglecting her leaving her alone for five minutes. Then before we know it, it's all over and we're back downstairs, business as usual getting on with our night. This is our life now, every evening plays out exactly the same.

Fifteen months ago, when we began our journey trying for baby number 2, I never even contemplated that we would be where we are today. I wasn't completely naive, I knew there would be fertility treatment of some sort in our future before we managed to get pregnant again {despite holding onto the hope that by some miracle it might happen naturally this time around}. I knew there would be months of waiting. I knew there would be ups and downs, swinging from anticipation to disappointment. I knew there would be countless appointments, tests and ultrasounds. Infertility is not new to us, we know how it works. And of course all of these things happened, but unlike last time they haven't worked. We're still not pregnant.



Even though it took years to have bub, it was a relatively straight forward process in the end. Once T and I decided to go see a specialist we were unbelievably lucky and got pregnant with very limited intervention. I have no idea how, because given all the fertility issues we have it shouldn't have been that easy {I still find it ironic that I refer to months of trying + tests + medication as easy}. But nevertheless it was easy and it did work, we got pregnant and we had a baby. Because of this I've always believed in the back of my mind that it would happen again.

Clearly last time was a major fluke, or divine intervention, or fairies sprinkled their magical baby dust on us.... whatever it was it's not happening now. Instead of smiling on us the universe is giving us the proverbial finger behind our back and the fairies, well I can only assume they've moved into their new fairy house and forgotten we even exist. The reality is this time its going to be a lot harder and take a lot longer.

The rollercoaster has gotten a lot bumpier and scarier. The uncertainty is overwhelming and my anxiety is revelling in it. Yet we continue on this ride, because as usual getting off would be harder than holding on.

I never thought we'd get to the point where I'm being injected with needles each and every night like clockwork. Voluntarily laying down while a needle is stuck into my belly for ten seconds was never meant to become my reality. It wasn't even on my radar. I'm petrified of needles. I'm talking completely and utterly petrified. My hands go clammy, my heart rate goes nuts, I feel dizzy, I get pins and needles {oh the irony} and I sometimes even see spots because my body has such a huge meltdown. Talking about needles {and even writing this paragraph} is enough to make me feel woozy and start hyperventilating. I'm that scared of them

Yet each night at 7pm, while other people are probably having dinner, I'm lying down on my bed gritting my teeth, closing my eyes and willingly being injected. I honestly never thought we'd be doing this because I didn't think I had it in me to go through with it. More than a week into it and I still have no idea how I'm doing it, but I am. Surprisingly enough it's become quite routine. What sort of fucked up reality is this where storing needles in our fridge and being injected with hormones by my partner each night feels like a normal thing to do? Excuse my french, but seriously this is not what they teach you making a baby will be like in sex ed classes at school.

But this is what making a baby is like for us, whether we like it or not. So we accept it while secretly hoping each month will finally be our month and we can be done with all this.

Funnily enough I'm actually grateful that this journey is making me face my fears. Sometimes you don't realise how strong you really are until you face your fears and come out the other side.

If you're about to embark on this journey and are petrified too, know that you can do it. Somehow you will find the strength inside you to get through it. And hopefully we'll both come out of it with our precious miracle babies.

Toni x
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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Mummy Must Have Review | Calafant craft models

In a world that's becoming increasingly digital, its nice {and some would argue, quite necessary} for kids to have some quiet, screen free activities to balance out all the technology they use each day. While I'm not adverse to bub playing with kids apps on the iPad or watching a bit of ABC Kids, we also spend a lot of time engaging in screen free activities. We love playing with sensory tubs, creating masterpieces from playdough, putting together puzzles, and doing all sorts of arts and crafts. She particularly enjoys drawing, painting and colouring at the moment. Now that her imagination is more active she loves to express it all on paper. I love seeing her bring her dream worlds alive through craft and play so when I heard about Calafant craft models I knew she'd love them.


CALAFANT CRAFT MODELS


Calafant make a range of creative craft models designed to bring children's imaginations to life through colouring, building and playing. Made in Germany from recycled cardboard, the models come flat packed and are pre-cut and pre-punched for easy interlocking assembly. Calafant models come in many shapes and sizes including pirate ships, castles, cars, rocket ships, whole village sets and many more. They're graded level 1, 2 or 3 based on the intricacy of the deign and degree of difficulty to construct. All models come blank so children can bring the designs to life with any colour combinations they like {it can get pretty interesting with a 2yr old believe me}. Calafant also have a range of fun cardboard face masks which children can colour then turn into a 3D mask.



We've had heaps of fun playing with some Level 1 Calafant models over the past few weeks. Level 1 models are the smallest and simplest of the Calafant models {perfect for toddlers} and they come with 6 different coloured pens to decorate them. Bub loves colouring so she didn't need any encouragement to start decorating the models. Without a doubt her favourite one was the horse and carriage because it has horsies and its almost an identical match to her fisher and price princess horse and carriage.




The Calafant models have been a life saver during the witching hours late in the afternoon when bub is irritable and needs some down time before dinner. Colouring the models holds her attention span for longer than a lot of other activities as she focuses on choosing the perfect colour for each section, then colouring in within the lines. They're a great interactive activity for parents to get involved with too, she loves when we colour them in with her. I have to admit though having OCD it's quite challenging for me to deal with her putting random colours all over the place! I just have to learn to seriously let it go for the sake of her fun {I'm getting better at it, but I'm still cringing on the inside}. 

My OCD was particularly tested when she coloured in her puppy face mask. I was cheering on the inside when she started colouring the little heart red, but it quickly went downhill from there and now we have a "wainbow puppy". The Calafant masks are also made from recycled cardboard and come in a range of cute characters, we got the puppy and pony set. The masks easily become 3D once they've been decorated and kids can make their mouths move open and shut by pushing the sides of the masks in and out slightly. Bub's had so much fun running around the house pretending to be a puppy. She particularly loves hiding and jumping out to scare us with it {so I guess the fact that it has scary looking red eyes is quite appropriate}.



Calafant models certainly provide an engaging, creative and interactive experience for both parents and kids to enjoy. Not only do they allow kids to express themselves through decorating the models, they also provide hours of imaginary play once the models are put together. Bub's had so much fun choosing which colours to use then watching them come to life in 3D. We coloured ours with the felt pens that came with the set, but they could also be coloured with crayons, pencils, paints and even decorated with sequins and embellishments. In fact we might add some embellishments to one of ours as another little craft activity soon.

The larger Calafant models would make a fun activity for multiple kids to get involved in at a birthday party or even at a mother's group get together. The smaller models and masks would also make great party favours for a birthday party and would be great as stocking fillers at Christmas. Not to mention they'd be a good distraction for children during long car trips, or during long appointments {we often take busy bags with us to hospital appointments to keep her entertained while waiting and the small models would be perfect for them}.
We got our Calafant models from Toy Fiesta, a family run online toy store that specialises in skill building toys. Given my penchant for educational toys and learning through play, Toy Fiesta has quickly become one of my favourite online toy stores. I first discovered Toy Fiesta at the Essential Baby and Toddler Show in March this year. I fell in love with the toys they had on display and went online to browse further, which of course led to me buying a heap of awesome educational toys. We use all our Toy Fiesta toys for so many different learning activities each week, I dare say I will buy more from them in the future.

Do/did your kids love bringing their imagination to life through arts and craft?

Toni x


Disclosure - I was provided the featured Calafant models for the purpose of review after being contacted by Toy Fiesta. All opinions expressed are based on our experience with the products. I did not receive payment for this review and have previously purchased items from Toy Fiesta.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Mummy Must Have Review | Coffee Factory Kids

When bub was little I was like a kid in a candy shop when it came to buying toys, if I saw something I bought it. I was just so over the moon to be able to buy kids toys for my own child after years of infertility. Admittedly though I probably went a tad overboard and our house soon resembled a toy shop itself. Do I regret it? Nope, although living in a townhouse with limited space means we're now doing toy culls {when bub's not looking}. Has it stopped me buying more toys? Of course not. These days I'm just a lot more selective with the toys I buy.

When I buy toys now I'm quite discerning. I mainly look for toys that are educational and have multiple uses. If I get a toy that's multi-functional then it's basically like having a number of different toys in one, but it doesn't take up any extra space. Also, if toys are versatile it's much more likely bub won't get bored with them quickly, making them better value for money for me and more entertaining for her.

In the last few weeks I've added a number of toys to our collection to help bub learn through play. These are some of our favourites and some of the different ways we've been using them. To see how we continue to use them in the future follow me on Instagram where I share all our play based learning activities.

SORT AND COUNT CITY


The I'm Toy Sort and Count city is a super cute wooden city set incorporating vehicles, road signs, buildings and trees. Each piece is made from sustainable rubber wood and painted with non toxic paints and lacquer. As you can see from the photo bub was pretty keen to get her hands on it as soon as I opened the parcel. "Get scissors mummy, you need scissors, open it open it, see what's inside".


Each individual piece has a hole through the centre so they can be used for stacking on the wooden dowel towers or lacing. Each group of pieces {i.e. the trees, the vehicles} are also numbered so they can be used for counting as they're being stacked. They can also be stacked to make towers on their own and can be used for imaginary play as part of small world play or sensory tubs.


Bub is very much into imaginary play at the moment so we've mainly been using the set for that and I get her to stack them back up when we're finished. In the small world play above I used the trees from the city set with some wooden pieces from her farm in a tin set and some green playdough to combine sensory play and imaginary play to create a little zoo small world.

We've also created a re-usable mobile city by using road tape from Kmart on a piece of cardboard and then adding the wooden pieces from the sort and count city. This has been a huge hit as bub can set it up and pack it away whenever she wants and she can move all the buildings around wherever she wants them each time. We've had hours of fun visiting the shops, responding to emergencies taking people to the hospital and taking baddies to the police station. 



ACTIVITY BUTTONS


While I have a huge affinity for wooden toys, I also do appreciate certain plastic toys, especially educational ones. The Miniland Activity Buttons may look like just simple coloured plastic buttons, but they provide so many different learning opportunities. We spend a lot of time learning through play incorporating various resources to teach bub different skills while she's having fun, and these have been great for so many different activities.

The set contains 40 different buttons in 4 different colours. Each button has a different number of button holes from 1-5 with the corresponding numeral on the button to make number recognition easier. They also have the equivalent braille symbol on the button making them perfect for children who can sign and those who are vision impaired. The set also includes 5 lacing strings along with 12 different guide cards which can be used for lacing or practising patterns.


I love that the buttons are nice and big making them easy for little people to grab and hold. I also really love that they have different numbers of holes so they can be used for early mathematical activities as well as threading. I did a simple maths activity with bub using our Ikea wooden puzzle numbers where she matched the button hole numbers with the corresponding wooden number. They're also great for sequencing numbers from 1-5.


We've also been using the buttons to help develop bub's fine motor skills by threading them {and other items} onto spaghetti stuck in playdough. It was a great activity for working on hand/eye co-ordination as well. The yellow shapes on the right side are from the miniland abacus set {see more below}.


MINILAND APTITUDE SHAPE ABACUS


One of my favourite toys at the moment is our Miniland Shape Abacus. It comes with 100 different pieces, in 10 different colours with 10 different shapes in each colour, as well as the 5 column abacus. At first glance it may look like a simple counting tool, but we've used this set for so many different activities, it really is the most versatile of all the toys we have and great for learning through play.


One of the simplest ways we use the set is for colour sorting. when we first got it I put all the shapes and the abacus onto bub's table and let her play with it however she wanted and the first thing she did was colour sort the shapes onto the abacus. I have to admit my inner ocd was mighty proud of this! We've also used the pieces without the abacus to colour sort into coloured paint pots and added in tweezers for hand strengthening and working on fine motor skills.


Of course the abacus kit is also great for learning different shapes. The set includes a circle, triangle, diamond, octagon, pentagon, flower, square, star, rectangle and trapezoid in each colour. Bub knows most of them except the trapezoid and she likes to call the octagon a hexagon, but to be honest I'm pretty impressed she even knows that much at almost 3yrs old. To work on shape recognition we've used the set to create patterns and she's also sorted the pieces by shapes on the abacus itself.



The set also comes with 24 different activity cards which include various different stacking patterns that can be made on the abacus with the different shapes and colours. We haven't even gotten around to using these yet as we've been having too much fun coming up with other ways to use the pieces. I do love that the guide cards include simple and complex patterns though which means the product will continue to grow with bub as her understanding and skills increase.

As you can see we've already had hours of fun with all of these toys and I'm sure we'll have many more in the future. I got them all from Coffee Factory Kids, an online kids boutique which launched in October 2015. It'ss named after the iconic Bushell's coffee factory in the owners home town {pretty cool way to name a business if you ask me, and it probably helps that most parents are drawn to coffee}.

Coffee Factory kids specialise in educational toys as well as unique baby gifts. They stock a range of puzzles and games, books, kids decor, soft toys, wooden toys and toys for imaginary play. They've kindly given me a special discount code for all of you too, simply use the code FINDINGMYSELF at checkout when purchasing from http://www.coffeefactorykids.com to save 25% off*. I'm actually putting in an order for some more goodies for bub's birthday {all very necessary purchases of course!}.

Does your house look like a toy shop too?
Do you appreciate versatile toys as much as me?

Toni x

*25% Off discount code is valid until 31st July 2016.

Disclosure - I was gifted the products 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. We loved our educational toys from Coffee Factory Kids so much that we're purchasing more to add to our ever expanding collection.

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