Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Non chocolate Easter gift ideas for toddlers and preschoolers

Having had two kids now with dairy and soy allergies as small children, I understand how it can have a huge impact on Easter celebrations. Obviously the Easter bunny traditionally brings chocolate on Easter morning, but when you have a child with multiple allergies who can't eat chocolate that isn't an option. It doesn't mean they have to miss out on the fun of Easter though as the Easter bunny can be super resourceful these days tracking down lots of non chocolate gifts for little people *wink, wink*

While bub's outgrown her allergies now, this Easter baby girl will need something special for her present. Technically it's her second Easter, although the first one she was only 3 days old so she had no idea it was even happening. She probably still won't have a clue this year either, but she will notice her big sister getting things so I don't want to leave her out. I've spent the last few weeks scouring Instagram for some alternative Easter gifts and these are my favourite finds. The best part is, unlike chocolate which is gone as soon as you eat it, these gifts will all be used multiple times and be treasured for years not minutes.



EASTER CRAYONS




Crayons are always a hit with bub as she's obsessed with drawing anything and everything, all the time! I have so many pieces of artwork floating around my house it isn't funny. These cute little Easter crayons from Funny Little Things are the perfect non chocolate gift for any little budding artist. This set includes 2 Easter eggs, a carrot, bunny and duck and comes in a cute little calico bag. There's also an all egg crayon set available, both would be great for Easter egg hunts. To ensure crayons arrive before Easter orders must be placed by Monday March 19th.


EGG CHALK



Little artists will also love the early stART egg chalk from Micador. These are also great for younger children just starting to mark make as they can easily grasp the egg shape and draw with very little pressure. Also how cute that they come in a little egg carton! These are available as a 6 pack, but there's also a 24 pack if you want more or are looking for a combined gift.


BUNNY TIC TAC TOE GAME


This little wooden tic tac toe game from Bubble and Bird comes in a cute bunny rabbit drawstring bag that doubles as the game board. It's a great alternative Easter present for older children who understand how to play the game and also doubles as a little busy bag to take out to appointments or to take on play dates, to the grandparents house etc. Order by March 19th to guarantee delivery in time for Easter.


EGG CUP MATCHING GAME

If you love wooden toys as much as we do then you'll love this rainbow wooden egg and cup puzzle game from Works At Play. This is a great little game for toddlers right through to preschoolers as it can be used to develop different skills at different ages. Younger children can start to develop fine motor skills, hand/eye co-ordination, balance and learn cause and effect by grasping the eggs and transferring them into the cups. As children get older they can be used to learn colours, for colour sorting, counting and sequencing. Even better, they're great for play all year round, not just at Easter. To ensure arrival before Easter, pre-order by March 10th 2018 {however these are available all year round as well}.


EASTER EGG WOODEN STACKERS






Each year One Spotty Dog release a special Easter egg stacker and this year's version is amazing. There are 3 different colours available, however you can request custom colour combinations. Each stacker is 9 pieces with a spotty side, a striped side and a removable rainbow. These stackers are great for teaching balance, problem solving and developing fine motor skills as kids try to stack the pieces correctly. They're also great for open ended play as they can be stacked in a number of different ways and used in imaginary play as tunnels, bridges, rainbows etc. We're huge fans of One Spotty Dog stackers and own 4 different stackers including last year's Easter stacker. Orders for the egg stacker close on February 25th in order to ensure they'll arrive in time for Easter, use the code EGG to save 10% off {valid for egg stackers only}.


BUNNY STACKER




This gorgeous bunny stacker from Bubble and Bird is a great gift option for babies and toddlers. They'll develop fine motor skills grasping the pieces, stacking them on and pulling them off. The rattle piece is great for sensory development and learning cause and effect and there's even a hidden carrot to be found. Order before March 19th to guarantee delivery by Easter.


BUNNY WHEELIE




How cute is this handmade wooden bunny wheelie from Love Tildy? It reminds me of something my grandparents would of had as kids. I love how nostalgic wooden toys are and it doesn't get more nostalgic than natural push along toys. These wheelies are handmade in Australia and coated with a blend of beeswax and oils. Wheelies are made to order and require a 3 week turnaround so please order by the start of March to ensure delivery in time for Easter.


Disclosure - I did not receive anything for collating this list. I simply decided to create a list to help other allergy mums, knowing how hard it can be to find non chocolate gifts for Easter. All the businesses featured are ones I love and follow on Instagram and they were not notified about their inclusion until after the list was compiled. All product images are used with permission. These products are only available for Easter 2018, applicable order cut off dates have been included.

Linking with Kylie

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Same same, but different

Anyone who tells you the only thing that matters from a birth is a healthy baby has clearly never experienced a traumatic birth. My first birth was extremely traumatic. Instead of the calm, natural birth I'd dreamt of, I had the chance to labour ripped away from me with no notice thanks to an undiagnosed breech baby. I was whisked away for an emergency c-section amidst a flurry of fear, pumped full of drugs and felt like I had no control over the situation whatsoever. In the end I got a healthy baby, but I also got intense resentment, postnatal depression and anxiety which lasted for months. I felt like a failure as a mum from the very beginning and I had trouble bonding with my baby because of it.

So when I finally fell pregnant the second time I had huge fears of it happening again. I was offered an elective c-section from the very beginning, but there was no way I was ever going to agree to one. I wanted to have the natural birth I missed out on the first time. More than anything though I wanted the chance to at least try and achieve it. If something went wrong then I'd be fine with needing a c-section, I just wanted to be given the chance to attempt a vbac. Thankfully the hospital were very supportive of a vbac, I just had to dodge obstacles like gestational diabetes, a breech baby and the million and one other things that could derail my plan.

Apart from a minor blip where my little lady was lying transverse for a few weeks {just to freak me out}, I successfully avoided all the obstacles in my path. The final hurdle was to avoid needing induction. I honestly wasn't even worried about that because I was sure my baby girl was coming early this time. As the weeks went by though I started to get more nervous. It seems my lovely little ladies like to make me wait and wait and wait some more. Once I was officially overdue I felt like my dream of a vbac might be slipping away. In fact it got to the point I thought she was going to just hang out in there forever and I'd never go into labour at all {being overdue really messes with your head}.

40 weeks pregnant


We did have a few practice runs though with about 7 or so different periods of false labour. False labour is so much fun, its all the pain of real labour then after a few hours your body gives you the proverbial finger and says sorry just kidding, you wont be having a baby tonight. All pain, no gain. So much fun, not. Although her big sister put me through the same thing so I expected nothing less. After about the third time I stopped getting excited about having contractions and refused to even time them unless they went on for over an hour. I expected real labour to happen like the first time with a big pop and gushing of my waters. There's really no mistaking you're having a baby when that happens. Evidently this time was going to be different, I just didn't know it yet.

Early in the morning on Tuesday the 11th April I started having contractions, again. They were strong enough to keep me awake and by 4am I decided to call birthing suite. After hearing me breathing through some over the phone they told me to come in. So I called my mum and arranged for her to come watch bub, then went and told T we needed to go to hospital. He had no idea I'd been having contractions for hours while he was asleep because I hadn't bothered waking him. I'm considerate like that, and I honestly thought it would peter out as usual.

When we got to the hospital it was eerily quiet and calm. No screaming women in labour or queues of people waiting. We managed to skip triage and went straight to a birthing suite. I even scored a room with a birthing pool {not that I'd be allowed to use it}. It was going perfectly. Until it wasn't. My contractions started to fizzle out {as usual} and I had a panic attack thinking they'd send me for a c-section. I thought I'd totally blown my chance at a vbac.

Thankfully the midwives were amazing and instead sent me for a walk for an hour to see if the contractions would come back. So naturally we went across the road and had Hungry Jacks for breakfast because we were both starving by this point. My contractions slowed and were more like braxton hicks so after a few hours sitting around in triage we were sent home. I'd always feared being sent home, especially while having contractions, because we live an hour from the hospital and I was paranoid I'd give birth in the car. But, this time I was so happy, I felt like I'd dodged a bullet not being forced into a c-section.

I didn't have to wait long to visit my friends at the hospital again. The very next night at about 6pm I started getting contractions again. At least that's when I started paying attention to them and timing them thinking it might finally be the real deal. They kept intensifying and it got to the point where I couldn't talk through them. I actually had to stand and sway around in circles to get through them. After a few hours of that I called my mum again to come over. It was kind of surreal because even when she came over its like nobody in the room thought I was really in labour except me. It's probably my own fault because I have a high pain threshold, but I felt a bit like the girl who cried wolf trying to convince everyone it was actually real.

Even when we got to the hospital the midwife didn't believe me. She agreed I was having real contractions, but they weren't intense enough for me to be at the hospital so I'd probably be sent home. Her exact words "I don't think you'll be having a baby tonight". My response to that was something along the lines of fucked if I'm not, this baby IS coming out. Said completely metaphorically inside my head. I almost lost it. At nearly 5 days overdue after multiple cases of false labour I was done. If they sent me home I was staying there until my baby literally crawled out of my vagina on the lounge room floor. I literally started imagining being on the news because I'd had an unplanned home vbac and something had gone horribly wrong. Pregnancy hormones + the anxiety of a vbac + being almost a week overdue is a very potent combination.

I''m not sure if it was the stress of the situation, or my determination to prove the midwife wrong, but my contractions started ramping up instead of fizzling out. Hallelujah. After hearing me moaning through my contractions from the nurses station the midwife returned and decided that actually it was happening after-all. Suddenly I was getting a cannula and being moved to birth suite. Finally it was on like Donkey Kong and there was no turning back. I was having a baby!




Unfortunately I was having a baby very slowly. Despite consistent contractions 3 minutes apart from 10pm I spent hours in the birth suite pacing backwards and forwards, bouncing on a fitball and laying in bed pretending to sleep to pass time. Oh and peeing pretty much every half an hour the entire time. One of the things I was always intrigued by before having kids was whether or not you could/would be able to pee during labour. I honestly don't even remember if I did the first time around because everything happened so fast. but I can now categorically prove you can pee while in labour. And you can do it a lot! And it's super annoying because you have contractions the whole time. Thankgod for wireless monitors.

Anyway I digress...

After about 4 hours I had a VE to check if I was dilated and my cervix was still completely closed. So high and closed that they had trouble actually finding it. At one point I had the obstetrician, midwife and student midwife all at the end of my bed with the big torch light thing gazing deep into my nether regions all having a go trying to find it. Yep that was up there as one of the weirdest experiences of my life. You really do lose all sense of dignity while in labour. I'm just thankful they were all women. In reality they would see so many hoo-ha's every day it'd be a complete non event to them, but I certainly felt like some weird show and tell presentation. In the end it was decided I could have another 4 hours and they'd check again.

So I spent another four hours pacing, bouncing, rocking, swaying and peeing my way through contractions. And guess what T did? He fell asleep. Like all good birthing partners should, because clearly he was exhausted and had had such a long night sitting in a chair watching me go through so much pain. NOT BITTER ABOUT THAT AT ALL. I was debating whether to post a photo of him sleeping on Facebook so he could feel the wrath of my friends, buuuut that would kind of ruin the surprise of any birth announcement to follow, so I refrained. Still pissed about it though, just between you and me.

In the early hours of the morning {after T finished his beauty sleep} the obstetrician came back to check again and there was still no change. I thought for sure I'd be at least 1-3cm dilated by now. I mean hours and hours of contractions 3mins apart had to of been doing something. It's just cruel to go through all that and get nowhere. I wasn't worried though I thought ok so we'll move onto the cooks catheter and try and get things moving. Then she went to chat with her superior and delivered the blow. He said the best decision was to do an emergency c-section for failure to progress.

I was devastated. I immediately bawled my eyes out, but at the same time I didn't really fight it. I'd been awake for over 24hrs and in labour for 12 of those. I was exhausted and didn't really want to endure hours and hours of more contractions that could end up with the same result anyway. Maybe if I'd been labouring all day after a proper nights sleep instead of all night I might of had more energy and felt differently, but I was spent. I signed the consent forms amidst a stream of tears and then waited for them to come back and get me for surgery. For months leading up to this point I'd hoped for a vbac, but I always knew there was a chance I'd need a repeat c-section and I was ok with that. My tears were because I was petrified it would lead to postnatal depression again.

Being wheeled down the corridors to the operating theatre I was apprehensive, but it was different. Last birth I felt like I was being taken away because I was a failure before I'd even tried, but this time it was almost exciting. I was still clinging to some minute hope we'd get to theatre and I'd be magically dilated and push my baby out right then and there on the table, but if I didn't I still didn't feel like a failure. In an odd way it felt like a small victory. Things weren't playing out as I'd hoped, but I'd given it my best shot and I knew my body was ready to finally meet my baby. At that point it no longer bothered me how that happened, as long as it finally happened. I knew when I came out of that room I'd have my little girl.

The atmosphere in the room was so calm and organised, nothing like the fast paced chaos of my first emergency c-section. There was no rushing around, being pumped full of drugs and wondering what the hell was going on like last time. I requested they do another VE before they started the operation just incase there was a chance things were progressing {it'd been 2hrs since they last checked and my contractions had intensified, so I was hoping things may have changed}. As expected though there was still no change at all. Completely and utterly closed. This baby just did not want to come out, at least not the conventional way.

The anesthetist I had this time was so lovely and she took the time to explain everything she was doing. Everything felt so relaxed. The only time I was nervous was when she was trying to get the spinal in the right spot because the ob who was holding me in place said to me we're only allowed 2 attempts then you have to be put under. Umm I'm sorry why, why the hell would you tell me that at the exact moment in time I'm trying to grit my teeth through intense contractions and contort my body into the correct {highly uncomfortable} position for a big f@$* off needle to be inserted into my back? I'm petrified of needles as it is, I didn't need the added stress of thinking I was going to be unconscious for my baby's birth and miss it completely. Thankfully though the anesthetist was awesome and she got it in first time. I still remember the exact moment it worked because I started going numb and felt instant relief. It's kind of funny because first time around I was so scared of being paralysed and not being able to feel my legs, yet this time I was thinking thankgod and seeing it as a blessing. It helped that I knew my legs would just go tingly and warm instead of not being able to feel them at all.

During the operation I was speaking to the surgical nurse beside me about her grandkids and all sorts of things. It was like I was having a chat with old friends, not laying on an operating table being cut open. I honestly can't believe how vastly different both experiences were, even though they took place in exactly the same room.

Baby girl surprised them when they opened me up as she was posterior and her little face was waiting to greet them. Totally explains the excruciating contractions. She finally entered the world {screaming her lungs out} at 9:05am April 13th and they laid her on my chest. We both looked at each other and said wow she looks just like her sister. Like almost identical, except that she had brown eyes and brown hair. I had skin to skin with her until they took her away to recovery and it was just so magical and healing. I felt an instant connection with her. I felt like I already knew her. It probably helped that this time I got a baby that looks like me {her sister's blonde hair and blue eyes totally threw me when she was born}.



I really feel like this birth, even though it ultimately ended the same way as my first, was so very emotionally healing for me. After my first birth I spent months, years if I'm completely honest, trying to come to terms with what happened. Mourning the fact that I didn't get to experience a natural birth, feeling like a failure and feeling like less of a woman and a mum because of it. Thankfully 10 months on I still haven't had any of those feelings this time. If there's one thing I've learnt now I've given birth twice, it's that every birth is completely different, even when they end the same way. Also posterior labour really hurts.

Toni x

* for those interested, you can read about my first birth here.



Linking with Kylie
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Friday, February 2, 2018

Bath time fun for everyone

Does bathing small children stress you out too? Maybe it's just me...

Until recently I'd been bathing baby girl in the baby bath on the kitchen floor while also supervising her sister in the lounge from afar. Having to field multiple requests and questions from a 4yr old while crouching on the ground holding and bathing a tiny, slippery baby is a little nerve wracking. The fear of getting distracted for a second and something happening was very real. While I'm feeling all the feels now that my tiny baby girl isn't so tiny anymore and has finally outgrown her baby bath, I'm also super excited that I can now bath both girls together.

Baby girl can now sit perfectly well unaided on the ground, but there's still no way I'd trust her to balance upright in a slippery wet bath. Especially when there's so many more fun things to do like splash everything, chase after toys {those slippery little suckers float away every 5 seconds}, hit/climb/splash/smack her sister. For a little baby who all of a sudden thinks she's a grown up, the temptation to wreak havoc in the bath is intoxicating, and absolutely petrifying for me. Thankgod some smart person invented those magical devices known as bath seats.

Unfortunately though I have a habit of making chubby little babies who have the most delicious irresistible thigh rolls, which means they don't fit into basic bath seats. First time around instead of struggling trying to wedge a roly poly michelin {wo}man baby into a teeny round seat, we simply held bub until she was able to be trusted on her own. And that was fine when I only had one baby. But now I have one slippery baby and one super confident, often hyperactive 4.5yr old {who doesn't know her own strength}, so logistically holding the baby the entire time whilst also trying to wash her sister was never going to work. Last time I checked I don't have 4 hands. The good thing though is that in the last 4yrs someone from Dreambaby must of  had a lightbulb moment and realised many of us are in the same predicament so they designed the premium deluxe bath seat.

The best feature of the premium bath seat, in my opinion, is that the front bar actually opens and closes, which makes it so much easier positioning a baby into the seat. There's no bending, twisting or maneuvering her tiny feet through small holes. There's also generous leg space which means I'll be able to use the bath seat for quite a few months. The seat also has a high supportive back rest, although my little chicken isn't big enough to fill the whole seat yet so she doesn't actually lean against it {poor little thing, all her chub goes straight to her thighs}.


The bath seat suction caps to the base of the bath so doesn't move around at all when she's in it {although I'm always right there just incase, because anxiety}. It suctions really well, so well in fact that if it didn't have the easy release tabs I'd probably struggle to unsuction it, thankfully they make it really easy to get off the bath. The seat also folds down to allow for better storage, however I simply suction cap it onto the tiled wall of the bath {our shower is over our bath} so it doesn't take up any storage space here at all.




Baby girl is loving being able to have a bath with her big sister, she literally kicks her legs in excitement trying to leap out of my arms as I'm filling the bath tub. She's so happy sitting upright able to splash and pass toys to her sister. It's actually really rewarding watching them play and interact together so well. It's one of the only times they don't have full on arguments over toys, although I'm sure that'll happen in time. It's also been so much easier for me being able to bath them at the same time {the logistics of getting them out and dried is still a work in progress, but we're muddling our way through and it seems to be working}.

If you have a baby almost ready to graduate from the baby bath then I highly recommend the Dreambaby Preium Deluxe Bath Seat which is currently on special for $25 as part of the Big W Baby Event until February 14th 2018.

Toni x

Disclosure - I was provided a Dreambaby Premium Deluxe Bath Seat for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are based on our experience using the bath seat. I did not receive payment for this review and was planning on buying the bath seat prior to being offered it for review.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Celebrating 100yrs of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie with a Gumnut Baby giveaway

When you think of iconic Australian children's authors, May Gibbs, is arguably one of the most recognised names. Originally born in England, she emigrated with her family at the age of 4 to Australia and spent her life living and studying between Australia and England. Much of her life was spent in the Australian bush so it's no surprise many of her characters and stories are inspired by and set amongst native Australian flora and fauna. Even though she passed away in 1969, her characters still grace the pages of many books and live on in the imaginations of many children young and old, myself included.

I was first introduced to her books in primary school and even though I've forgotten a lot of what I learned at school, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie are still very much ingrained in my childhood memories. I remember believing they were actually real and thinking the only reason I couldn't find them in the trees near our house was because they were so good at hiding from humans. Next year marks the centenary of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, who are without doubt the most famous of all May Gibbs literary characters.

100yrs of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie


Snugglepot and Cuddlepie are two inquisitive gumnut foster brothers who live in the Australian bush and go on many adventures with friends like Mr Lizard and Ragged Blossom. They featured in their own book The Tales Of Snugglepot annd Cuddlepie, first published in 1918, and have subsequently featured in many of Gibbs other stories. 

To celebrate 100yrs of Gumnut Babies, Scholastic have released 4 new Gumnut Babies books; Tales From The Bush, Tales From The Camp Fire, Tales From The Billabong and Tales From The Gum Tree. We received Tales From The Bush and Tales From The Camp Fire and have copies to giveaway to one of you too.


Tales From The Bush and Tales From The Camp Fire


The new gumnut babies books are collections of stories featuring classic May Gibbs characters Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and their friends Mr Lizard, Ragged Blossom and Mrs Snake. Other bush characters like banksia men, birds, frogs, bull ants and many bush folk make appearances in the tales as well. Each short story is based on a Snugglepot and Cuddlepie adventure, many of which don't turn out as planned. The stories all explore similar concepts about how to make the best of every situation, the importance of friendship and how to overcome adversity.



My favourite of all the short stories included in both books is The Mystery of the Humans. I loved this tale as it shows how the gumnut babies perceive humans, which was something I spent a lot of time wondering about as a child. It's also a perfect way to explain to children you shouldn't make judgement based on preconceived ideas.


The illustrations done by Caroline Keys are inspired by May Gibbs original illustrations and I think they capture the essence of the original characters really well. All of the stories give a greater insight into how the gumnut babies think and perceive the world around them. Reading these stories has transported me back to my childhood and I'm so glad that I have them so I can pass on my love of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie to my girls when they're a little older. The stories are slightly too long to keep bub's interest, but would be perfect for children aged 6+ who are moving on from picture books as they bridge the gap between picture books and chapter books quite well. If you have a budding bookworm, or just want to relive the nostalgia of your own childhood, make sure you enter the giveaway below.


Put some Gumnut Babies under your tree this Christmas



I have two of the new Gumnut Babies books Tales from The Bush and Tales From The Camp Fire up for grabs for one lucky winner. Simply fill in the rafflecopter form below and you're in with a chance. Be quick though, the giveaway ends soon so we can get the prize to you in time for Christmas.

Toni x

a Rafflecopter giveaway



TERMS & CONDITIONS
Competition commences upon publication and ends at 11:59pm December 18th 2017. One winner will receive a copy of Tales From The Bush and Tales From The Camp Fire RRP $39.98. We will send the prize prior to Christmas, but can not guarantee it will arrive before Christmas Day. Finding Myself Young will not be held liable should the prize be lost in transit. Competition is open to Australian residents, 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. Winner will have 48hrs to respond or prize will be redrawn. This competition is in no way endorsed, promoted or administered by Facebook or Instagram.

Disclosure - This is a sponsored review on behalf of Brand Meets Blog. 

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Pop the Pig game review

One of the things I've been looking forward to most as bub's been getting older is introducing her to board games. I have fond memories playing board games with family as a child and I want to create my own family traditions, starting with buying a new game as a joint Christmas present each year. I'm excited that at 4 and a half she's finally getting old enough to understand simple games, obviously we won't be playing monopoly any time soon, but her attention span is finally at a point where we can enter the world of family game nights {or afternoons}.

But where do you start with kids games? There's just so many out there. And how do you know which ones they'll like? This is where technology has actually been helpful. A few weeks ago she started obsessing over youtube videos of Pop the Pig. She watched videos of other kids and reviewers playing the game over and over again. Gone are the days of watching unboxing and surprise egg videos on repeat a thousand times, now it's all about kids reviewing games. 

The fact that she kept watching Pop the Pig in particular piqued my interest. At first I thought it was only available in America {because most of the videos she found were American}, but then I started seeing it in shops here, so it went straight onto our Christmas list. As luck would have it an opportunity came up to review it so I said yes straight away because we were going to get it anyway.



Pop the Pig is a multiplayer game designed for kids aged 4+ You feed the pig burgers until he gets so full his stomach pops! The game comes with 16 individual burgers; 4 green, 4 purple, 4 yellow and 4 red. Players roll the dice to determine which colour burger to feed the pig. Each burger then has a number on the back and once you feed the pig you press down on his chef's hat the corresponding number of times. The game continues until the pigs stomach pops, his belt flings open and his arms go up in the air. 


Pop the Pig arrived on a kindy day so bub didn't even know we had it, but it took her about 4.5 seconds to spot it once we walked in the door. I had this whole spiel planned, but she spied it while I was literally still closing the front door. So the big reveal I had rehearsed in my head didn't quite go as planned, but she was super surprised none the less. As soon as she spotted it she started jumping up and down on the spot unable to contain her excitement. She swung back and forth between "mummy look it's the pig off the youtube" to being completely speechless to "mummy and daddy thankyou sooo much for the pig, it's the best". Safe to say she liked it before we even opened it up. We then spent all afternoon {and every day since} playing Pop the Pig at least 3 times in a row, sometimes multiple times a day.


I love that the instructions are so simple as she only has to roll the dice and press the head the corresponding number of times. It's been a great way to introduce her to games and concepts like turn taking, waiting and rolling a dice, without adding in any other complicated rules. She's getting much better at waiting her turn, but she's usually so excited she rolls the dice before we've finished pressing the chef's hat, sometimes patience is not her virtue. And even though the rules are super easy, it hasn't stopped her sometimes trying to cheat, if it gets near the end of the game and she rolls a colour she doesn't want she tries to change the colour, or tell us that was our roll not hers. For the most part though she plays by the rules and there haven't been any tantrums yet {which says a lot}. 

As players can roll any colour in any order and each colour can have different numbers each time, no game is ever the same, so it's always a surprise when the pig's going to pop and who's going to be the winner. Which is great because she hasn't got bored with it at all, despite the fact we've already played it 20+ times in 5 days. She's even played it by herself a few times when I've been busy feeding her sister and she finds it just as exciting and suspenseful on her own, despite the fact she's obviously going to be the winner.

On the surface the game may seem super simple and just a lot of fun, which it is, but it's also got a lot of learning thrown in too. While playing kids are learning to recognise, name and differentiate between colours when rolling the dice and picking a burger. They're also recognising numbers when feeding the pig and also learning to count while pressing the pigs head. The more they play, the more these skills are reinforced. 


In addition to this its also helping kids develop fine motor skills by using their pincer grip picking up the pieces, hand/eye co-ordination to put the burgers into the mouth and hand strengthening when pushing down the head. These are all skills that will help them once they go to school. Bub currently uses two hands to push the head down as she's not quite strong enough to do it with one, but I'm sure over time she'll eventually be able to do it one handed.


I love that Pop the Pig isn't a traditional board game, but rather a combination of a toy and educational game in one. It's a great way to introduce young children to games with purposeful actions and outcomes {as opposed to free playing with toys} and it's fun for the whole family, not just the kids. I'm well over 4 and I get just as excited as bub does waiting for it to pop. Even though I'm generally not a big fan of anything plastic, I'm loving this game and all the learning that's happening each time she plays {and the best part is there's no need for batteries so it'll never stop working}.

Pop the Pig is available at all leading toy stores. For more about Pop the Pig and other great toy reviews visit Talkin Toys.

Will you have any games under your Christmas tree this year?

Toni x


Disclosure - This is a sponsored review as per my disclosure policy for Talkin Toys. I chose Pop the Pig to review as we were planning on purchasing it already.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Reliving my childhood dreams with Cabbage Patch Kids

Each year there seems to be the in toy. When I was younger it rotated between Barbie, Polly Pocket, Cabbage Patch Kids, Tamagotchis, Furbys {these just freak me out now, why the hell did I ever like them?}, Puppy Surprise, Cupcake dolls, Tazos, Yowies.... gosh the list is endless now I'm trying to think of them all. Most toys seem to go out of fashion as fast as they come in, but occasionally there's exceptions to the rule that remain popular for years. Barbie for example has been around for decades, but they don't seem to have as much of a cult following as they did when I was younger {although that could just be because I'm not an 8 year old girl anymore}. Another toy that's withstood the test of time and is making a huge resurgence in popularity are Cabbage Patch Kids.

Originally available in the 80's, the ever popular Cabbage Patch Kids are once again filling up toy shelves and little kids Christmas lists in 2017. And I for one am loving it! One of the best parts of having kids is getting to relive {or just recreate} the childhood I always wanted and one of the things I missed out on the first time around was my very own Cabbage Patch Kid doll. As all 80's kids will know, they were the doll of the decade and lots of little girls {and I dare say many boys too} wanted to get their hands on one, me included. Alas I never got my own, but thankfully I get to live vicariously through bub with hers! 



What makes Cabbage Patch Kids so unique?


Cabbage Patch Kids are soft sculpture dolls {with plastic faces, accessories and hair to style}. Legend has it that Xavier Roberts was a ten-year-old boy who discovered the Cabbage Patch Kids by following a BunnyBee behind a waterfall into a magical Cabbage Patch. He vowed to help them all find good homes so he built BabyLand General Hospital {it's a real place you can go and visit in America} where the babies could stay until they're adopted out by loving families.

Each Cabbage Patch Kid comes with it's very own birth certificate listing their name and birth date. Ours is Kathleen Dawn and she was born on December 26th {cool birthday if you ask me}. She also came with official adoption papers that bub can fill out. I remember when I was young I thought the birth certificate was the coolest thing ever. I also love that they have Xavier Robert's signature as a birth mark on their bottom {it's a bit cheeky!}.


One of their other distinctive features is that their faces smell amazing. I know that probably sounds super weird, and I'm not sure how they get them to smell so good, but it's seriously intoxicating. Similar to when you have a real newborn and you can't stop sniffing their heads because they smell SO GOOD. Perhaps I'm the only weird person that does this, but hopefully there's other CPK owners out there addicted to the smell as well {surely there has to be at least one person?}.




While each cabbage patch doll is easily identifiable by their distinctive body and head shape, they're all unique. Each doll has a slight variation in either skin tone, eye colour, hair colour, hair style, facial expression, outfit, shoes or accessories meaning no 2 are ever exactly the same. I was super excited that bub got a CPK that has glasses like her. I wore glasses when I was younger and I remember wondering why the dolls never looked the same as me, so I'm really glad she has a doll that looks {almost} just like her.


The new Cabbage Patch Kids come with a key which can be used with the new Adoptimals. Adoptimals are little electronic pets which can be adopted to a forever home just like Cabbage Patch Kids. Each Adoptimal makes different sounds, their locket lights up and they come with a bowl and brush. The key that comes with each CPK can be used to unlock the Adoptimal's secret heartbeat via the special locket. The dolls and pets are sold separately, but there's photos of each on the respective packaging. Let's be completely honest here, the parent in me sees that as slightly annoying, because obviously the first thing that's going to happen is "muuuum I want the pet" {and that's exactly what she did}, but with my business degree hat on I can appreciate it's a stroke of marketing genius.




And it works, because guess who's been scouring the shops for a few weeks looking for a pet cat? Yeah me. And not any cat, it apparently has to be the grey one like on the box. Kudos guys, this mum is loving searching through all the CPK Adoptimals each time I go to the shops to find the dam cat {I'm only being slightly sarcastic, because the inner child in me is actually loving searching for it}. The jury's still out on whether the cat will be making an appearance at Christmas {i.e. I haven't managed to find it yet}.

As a former preschooler and tween girl myself, I can totally see the appeal of Cabbage Patch Kids and why they're gaining massive popularity again 30+ years after they first graced toy store shelves. I can also 100% understand the need for an accompanying Adoptimal. I mean hello they're like the puppy surprise of the twenty-tens {is that what this decade's called? If you ask me it doesn't have the same ring to it as 80's or 90's}. I'm so lucky I mean bub's so lucky she has one of her very own. I'm definitely holding onto it forever {or at least until she has her own kids who we can pass her down to}.


The new 14 inch Cabbage Patch Dolls and Adoptimal Pets are available {sold separately} from Big W, Myer, Toys R Us and Mr Toys Toyworld. FYI you can buy Adoptimals without a CPK, you just won't be able to unlock the heartbeat. Also the key with each doll will work with any of the Adoptimals not just the one pictured on the box.



Disclosure - I was sent a Cabbage Patch Kid for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are based on my somewhat foggy childhood memories and our experience with bub's new doll. I did not receive payment for this review.

Linking with Kylie

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Monday, December 4, 2017

Can we talk baby snot for a minute and what is a baby nasal aspirator anyway?

crying baby with a cold

As I watched my baby squawk in misery, gasping and coughing, I realised that I have no life experience for dealing with somebody else’s cold. I realise that Netflix, a Vindaloo and a box of Sudafed isn’t going to cut it this time, and so I do it, I reach down and gently stick my pinky fingernail up my baby’s nose…. And then wonder what has become of the old me. I didn’t know about baby nasal aspirators. And why not? You know when you’re in those birthing classes and they’re showing you a ping pong ball and telling you this is how big your baby is this week… it all seems so nice and neat. There’s a ping pong ball bouncing about in me somewhere that will someday be a baby. How lovely. 

What they don’t tell you is that someday rather soon, you’ll be lying on the nursery floor at three in the morning using your pinky nail to try to scoop snot out of someone else’s nose. That doesn’t warrant a mention. The thing you learn in your first year of being a mum is that pre-natal classes are as useful to you now as all that algebra you worked your guts out to master in grade 11. 

So there I am, 3am terrified that I’m going to stab my tiny baby through the brain with my pinky fingernail.

Baby Nasal Aspirators for those reading along at home


Baby Nasal Aspirators.  Lordy.  They’re one of those things that childless people go their whole lives not knowing about.  Nasal Aspirators are machines that literally suck the snot out of your baby.  The old school ones are little puffers that you stick up the baby’s nose and then “release” and the snot gets sucked right out and into a rubber bubble, which you then have a horrible time attempting to clean. 

The modern day baby nasal aspirator looks more like a baby thermometer and can be used right up until your child is ready for school.  They’re about $70, battery operated and work at the touch of a button.  They reach deeper into the baby’s nasal passages and can relieve pressure on sore little ears.  They are waterproof so it’s easy to clean the discarded snot from the collection cup.  It’s all very simple, civilised and not gross.  Let’s face it.  A day where something is not gross is a win in early motherhood.

Baby nasal asporator

Fun facts about baby snot

  • Snot is baby’s way of flushing viruses out of her body! It’s mostly water but that doesn’t make it any less gross. 
  • Using a baby nasal aspirator is the best way to stop germs spreading to siblings as it reduces the amount of snot escaping the baby. Escaped snot is how colds spread. 
  • Green snot is no less infectious than clear snot. It’s all equally germy and gross. 
  • Every baby sneeze can spread 100,000 germs around the room! 
  • Babies can’t “blow” so the snot accumulates in their nasal passages, leading to ear aches and trickles down the back of their throats, making them even more miserable than a grown man with a cold. 
  • Kids under four have an average of 8-12 colds per year. TWELVE. These are mostly in autumn, spring and winter, so if it feels like your bubba has been sick constantly, she has. It makes that $70 baby nasal aspirator sound like a bargain though, right?

So there you have it, everything you ever needed to know (and probably more than you wanted to know) about baby snot and the various methods of removal. As someone who’s been there, I do not recommend the pinky fingernail method. Nobody likes that method. Not you. Not the baby. There’s so many colds ahead of you and your little one, bite the bullet and buy a proper baby nasal aspirator and hang it with pride next to your new ear thermometer and all the other things you never knew you needed until now.


This is a guest post by Laura Klein, mother to three little humans and resident snot expert at www.snottynoses.com.au
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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Gold Coast Holiday Playdate Giveaway

It's almost the end of term 4 in Queensland and the holidays are fast approaching. The kids are exhausted, you're probably exhausted, and now you need to come up with super cool fun ways to entertain them. If you're already freaking out about how you're going to do that, never fear I have a solution {and a giveaway} for you that'll entertain the whole family.

In a world first these school holidays TEG Live has created Holiday Playdate, the ultimate playdate spectacular on the Gold Coast. Be the first in Australia to experience this holiday themed, multi-brand festival December 15, 16 & 17 at CBUS Super Stadium. Holiday Playdate promises a fun, interactive and engaging day for the whole family.




Little kids will be so excited seeing their favourite TV characters in the flesh during rotating shows on the main stage throughout the day. Shows include: PJ Masks - Meet The Heroes with Catboy, Owlette and Gekko, Ben & Holly in Christmas Fun and Games Day, Captain Barnacles in The Christmas Rescue and Elmo and Cookie Monster from Sesame Street.




Older kids will love Nerf HQ as they battle it out as part of a team in the Nerf Battle Zone, or challenge themselves to complete the Nerf Obstacle Run. There’s also Nerf Target Practice and the brand new Nerf HQ Blaster Station. Transformers Autobot Mission will make its Gold Coast debut at Holiday Playdate, offering fans the chance to enjoy an interactive training and mission experience. 

Kids can also play in the ultimate Lego play zone with millions of blocks across multiple build zones including Free Build Tables where you can let your creativity loose, or test your Lego skills against your friends with the Speed Build Challenge and Blindfold Challenge. 



Other fun Interactive Zones include My Little Pony, Play-doh, Ice Age, Thomas and Friends, PJ Masks, and the popular Christmas Art & Craft Zone. There's also life sized versions of popular board games Operation, Connect 4, Scrabble and Pictionary. Plus a giant inflatable obstacle course and appearances by Gold Coast Titans players.



Food and drink will also be available for purchase plus a dedicated parent’s area where you can sit back, relax and recharge with good visibility to keep a watchful eye on the kids below. Naturally any Holiday Playdate in December wouldn’t be complete without a visit from the jolly man himself! Santa Claus will be appearing on the Main Stage at each session to sing a Christmas Carol – maybe two – and to wish everyone a happy festive season.



HOLIDAY PLAYDATE 
Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast 
Friday 15 to Sunday 17 December, 2017 
Three Sessions Daily: 9:00am, 12:00pm and 3:00pm 
Tickets on sale Monday 6 November, 12 noon. 
Bookings can be made through Ticketek 


WIN 1 OF 3 FAMILY PASSES TO HOLIDAY PLAYDATE


I'm lucky enough to have 3 Family Passes to give away to 3 lucky families to attend Holiday Playdate these school holidays. To enter simply fill out the rafflecopter form below {so I can contact you if you win} and leave me a comment letting me know which interactive area you think your kids would love most and why? You can also enter on my Facebook Page and Instagram Page for additional chances to win.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


TERMS & CONDITIONS
Competition commences upon publication and ends at 11:59pm December 3rd 2017. Three {3} winners will receive a family pass to Holiday Playdate on the Gold Coast RRP $101.85. Total prize pool of $305.55. Winners must be able to attend Holiday Playdate on the Gold Coast on either December 15, 16 or 17 in order to redeem prize. Finding Myself Young will not be held liable should the prize be lost in transit. Competition is open to Queensland residents only. 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. Entries can be made via www.findingmyselfyoung.com, Facebook and Instagram and 3 winners will be selected from the total entry pool. Winners will have 48hrs to respond or prize will be redrawn. This competition is in no way endorsed, promoted or administered by Facebook or Instagram.

Disclosure - I was provided a Family Pass to attend Holiday Playdate in exchange for running this giveaway. I did not receive payment for this post, I chose to do it because I love being able to give back to my readers.

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

LeapPad Ultimate learning tablet for preschoolers

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is just how far technology has come since I was a kid and how different my childhood was compared to my kids as a result. When I was little we were never exposed to mobile phones {I didn't get my first one until I was 17} or computers {we finally got one when I was 14} and iPods and tablets didn't even exist yet. The only screen time we had as kids was in front of the tv watching abc kids, but these days kids are exposed to screens everywhere and screen time has become a wildly debated topic amongst parents.

Some people have complete screen time bans yet in other households each child has their own device. Some kids have time limits and restrictions, some have free access. Should I allow my kids screen time? Will I set time limits? Is it preparing them for the future or delaying their development? Should we blanket ban everything? I imagine these are dilemmas our parents never really had, yet they're very real concerns for parents today.

While I have a huge love for traditional toys, because that's what I played with as a child, I also believe in embracing technology and utilising it for learning. These days tablets are included on school book lists from grade 1 so I personally don't see an issue with exposing my children to them beforehand. The conundrum I have though is creating a balance between making screen time fun but also purposeful, so when I discovered that Leapfrog make their own range of educational Leappad tablets for kids I got really excited. We've been road testing the new LeapPad Ultimate for a few weeks now and I'm really impressed with it as it provides the perfect balance of educational apps that both teach and entertain kids, while also having lots of parental control options to limit access and implement usage time restrictions if you desire.



What is the LeapPad Ultimate?


The LeapPad Ultimate is the latest educational tablet from LeapFrog specifically designed for children. The tablet comes pre-loaded with apps and games to help develop core skills in mathematics, reading and comprehension, science, logic and creativity to prepare kids for preschool and beyond. It also allows access to kid-friendly web content curated by learning experts with parental controls and password protection options that can be used to set play time limits and manage multiple profiles.


The LeapPad Ultimate features:

  • 15 pre-loaded apps and videos including: Pet Pad Party, Photo Fun Ultra, Sing-A-Long, Read-A-Long Video, Letter Factory Adventures, Letter Factory Flash Cards, Pet Pals interactive storybook, Cosmic Cleanup science game, Pet Pals Hide & Seek puzzle game, 5 utility apps + 5 demo games.
  • Kid-safe LeapSearch™ web browser allows access to approved, kid-appropriate content. 
  • LeapFrog® Learning Library access to more than 700 learning games, videos, ebooks and more.
  • Parental controls with password protection provide the ability to set play time limits and add multiple user profiles
  • Just for Me™ learning technology personalises select games and adjusts learning levels between different profiles.
  • Built-in lithium ion rechargeable battery {5+ hrs battery life}
  • Shatter resistent 7-inch multi-touch capacitive screen {1024 x 600 resolution}
  • Stylus pen to encourage correct pencil grip
  • Energy-absorbing bumper
  • 2MP front and back cameras
  • 480p video recording
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/h
  • 3.5mm stereo jack with microphone
  • 8GB Memory
  • Manufacturer's warranty

Kid Tough Design


Regular tablets are often thin and extremely breakable requiring the additional purchase of a tough case to make them safe for kids to use, but the LeapPad Ultimate is quite chunky {yet lightweight} and durable enough to withstand anything a young child can throw at it {or throw it at}. The screen is inset within the casing making it less likely to be knocked or scratched. In addition to this there's a thick rubber bumper that runs the entire way around the side to protect the tablet if it's accidentally dropped, or in the unfortunate event it's thrown, sat on, walked on etc {all the things small children are likely to do at some point}. It also has a shatterproof screen with a film over the glass, so none can escape should there be a freak accident and the screen does get damaged.

To be completely honest I haven't been game to test these out by deliberately trying to damage it {because I'm not insane}. I'm sure at some point though bub will test out its durability {whether by accident or on purpose} so it's nice to have the reassurance that it should withstand anything she can {literally} throw at it. Plus there's the added bonus of not having to buy a separate case to protect it.

Kid Safe Internet Browsing


The LeapPad Ultimate allows kids to safely browse the internet via LeapSearch the LeapFrog search engine. LeapSearch provides access to online content that has been approved by LeapFrog learning experts as kid appropriate. Children can explore different videos, music, stories and images under a number of categories.


One of my biggest issues with bub having a tablet is what she'll have access to online. On her past devices we've limited her online access to YouTube Kids thinking this would stop her from finding anything inappropriate, but it turns out there's still a lot of weird stuff on YouTube kids. I've had a few quick browses on LeapSearch and am yet to find anything I wouldn't want her to watch. The best way I can describe it is it's like a cross between a more filtered version of YouTube Kids and an online resource directory. There's a good balance between funny and educational content. And yes they'll still have access to the Frozen theme song, that song is everywhere.

Kid Smart apps and games


One of the best features of the LeapPad Ultimate is that it comes with pre-loaded content so kids can start using it straight out of the box without needing to purchase any apps. The 15 apps loaded onto the tablet include a variety of games, music, videos, ebooks and demos which teach foundation maths and english skills such as letters, phonics, reading, shapes, counting, identifying and creating patterns, parts of the human body {and more}. They also explore life skills such as caring for the environment and looking after pets. The apps are all interactive with a lot requiring kids to use the stylus pen to trace lines, shapes or letters helping to build important pre-writing skills and develop correct pencil grip.



Bub's favourite of all the apps and games included is Planet Goop Cosmic Cleanup a game about looking after the planet and caring for the environment. In the game kids can choose between 3 different parts of the planet to clean and then work through various levels helping to clean, recycle or compost different rubbish and spills. At the end of each level there are important recycling or environmental facts explained. Bub's learnt so much about different types of rubbish and what can and can't be recycled just from playing this game. She's now constantly telling us what types of things can be recycled and when they're recycled that means they can be reused forever.

In addition to the preloaded apps, there's  also the LeapFrog app centre {which you can password protect} that has thousands of other educational apps, games, music, videos and ebooks. The app centre allows you to search for apps by age, skill type, category and bundles and download them directly to the LeapPad Ultimate. There's also cartridge games available to purchase in store that can be used in the cartridge slot on the side of the LeapPad. Quite a few of the LeapFrog apps and games feature popular children's tv and movie characters like Dory, Trolls, PJ Masks, Pocoyo, Team Umizumi and Blaze.


As soon as I told bub we can get other games like PJ Masks and Blaze her number one mission in life has been trying to convince me to get the PJ Masks game. She literally asks us everyday "do we have enough money for the PJ Masks game yet mum? And every day her dad leaves for work she says to him "bye daddy, make sure you make lots of money for the PJ Masks". She certainly isn't shy about letting us know what she wants. Little does she know that mummy stealthily went to Big W on one of her kindy days and I have it stashed in the cupboard for Christmas. She's literally going to lose her mind when she opens her presents Christmas morning, I just have to keep coming up with new excuses to avoid her constant requests to go buy it for the next 5 weeks {wish me luck}.

Other features we love about the LeapPad Ultimate


Without a doubt one of my favourite features is the stylus pen as it helps kids develop pencil grip while playing rather than passively pointing and poking the screen with one finger {although with the touch screen function they can still do this}. I love that the stylus pen comes tethered to the tablet and also has a slot where it can be stored inside, which means we're unlikely to ever lose it and it also teaches her to put it away when she's finished using it, which is always a good life skill to learn. Bub started out just touching the screen, as she's used to an iPad, but she soon started using the stylus and now automatically uses it for about 90% of the games and apps.

Another cool feature worth noting is that each of the demo games included actually allow kids to play a level of the game themselves as well as having a video trailer to watch. It's a great feature because it lets them have a proper taster for the game and allows you to determine whether they'll actually like it before buying. Bub actually thinks most of the demos are the real game and doesn't realise it's only one level she's playing.



I'm so impressed with the LeapPad Ultimate and how LeapFrog have managed to combine so many learning aspects into the one device. Just by playing the games that come pre-loaded bub is already learning new facts which has sparked lots of conversations about issues she otherwise probably wouldn't have been exposed to yet {like different parts of the human body, how blood uses oxygen, why recycling and composting is good etc}. I also love how using the device is helping her develop skills both physically {pencil grip, hand strengthening, hand/eye coordination} and mentally {problem solving, logical reasoning, improving concentration}. I'm also completely confident in letting her use it independently knowing she won't be viewing anything inappropriate while I'm not watching.

The LeapPad Ultimate is recommended for 3-9 year olds and given it'll grow with your child as their skills develop, plus the fact that it can have multiple profiles, I think it's definitely a worthy investment. The LeapPad Ultimate is available from Big W in green or pink for $199. Game cartridges can be purchased in store from Big W and Toys R Us or within the LeapFrog app centre on the device itself.

Toni x

Disclosure - We were provided a LeapPad Ultimate for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are based on our experience using the device. I did not receive payment for this review. I have since purchased the PJ Masks game and I'm fairly certain it won't be the last game I buy.

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