Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Mummy Must Have Review | Flying Sprout Busy Bags

We're huge fans of busy bags in this household and have been for some time. With bub having severe food allergies from birth, her eye problems and the need for speech therapy, spending time at specialist appointments and waiting at hospitals became second nature. I quickly learnt keeping a baby {and then toddler} occupied while waiting for what can sometimes be hours is essential to maintaining one's sanity, so my love affair with busy bags was born.

For those who aren't familiar with busy bags, they're simple activities or a collection of play items stored in a bag to keep young kids occupied independently. The main version of a busy bag I've been using since she was young is a canvas bag packed with a number of different items, such as a book, colouring book and crayons and various little toys. These have kept her well entertained for the majority of the time. As she's gotten older I've swapped out some of the items to include more challenging and educational activities such as threading cards, phonics cards and puzzles. 

With a new baby on the way meaning lots of physio and hospital appointments for me at the moment, plus the need to keep her entertained when I'm breastfeeding once baby is here, I've been actively collecting items, printables and games to include in busy bags {so I have a huge stockpile of interchangable activities for the coming months}. I usually put together my busy bags myself with various bought items and printables, but lately I've been including professionally made busy bags as well. Flying Sprout is a really cool small business I've found that sell a huge range of busy bags and printables suitable for toddlers through to 7yr olds.

Flying sprout logo

Flying Sprout is run by Bianca, a qualified teacher who's currently a stay at home mum. With 8 years of primary school teaching experience {and having been a numeracy co-ordinator for a period of time}, she knows the basics children need to learn to support them at school and she knows how to provide opportunities for children to learn independently to buid their skills and self confidence simultaneously. Each of the busy bags and activities offered at Flying Sprout are designed to allow children to learn and practice essential skills whilst having fun. Each kit contains an instruction card and all the items required for each game or activity. We've been trying out three of the Flying Sprout busy bags for the last few weeks and this is what we think.

educational busy bag ideas for toddlers.

APPLE BUSY BAG - NUMBERS TO 10


Tha apple busy bag is a great little counting activity that includes 10 jumbo paddle pop sticks with a magnetic strip {numbered one to ten} and 55 paper clips. Kids can line up the paddle pop sticks in number order and then put the correct number of paper clips onto each stick. This activity is designed primarily to focus on counting from one to ten, but it's also great for number recognition, sequencing and one to one correspondence which are all important foundation maths skills needed for school later on.

Apple busy bag from Flying Sprout


Bub can count to twenty already, but she loves to count at any given opportunity, including counting random objects when we're out and counting how many mouthfuls of food or drink she's consuming during dinner. I know it's not really normal 3yr old behaviour, but any chance for incidental learning is fine by me. Needless to say she loves the apple busy bag. She was counting out all the paper clips as she made each number on each stick and then counted all the sticks up at the end. Once she's finished she then repeats it over and over {and usually yells at me if I try and pack it up}. I have to put it away all stealthy while she's pre-occupied with something else.


ORANGE BUSY BAG - ANIMAL SHADOW MATCHING


The orange busy bag is a cute little animal shadow matching game that includes 12 laminated shadow cards and 12 mini plastic animals for matching. I love the simplicity of this activity and that it can be easily mixed up by simply changing around the layout of the cards each time. I also love that some of the shadow positions aren't an exact match to the way the plastic animals are standing which makes it a little more challenging. However it can also be made easier for younger kids who have a shorter attention span by using less animals and cards.

Orange busy bag by Flying Sprout

Bub loves matching anything and everything at the moment so this bag has been a huge hit and she's always asking to match the animals. She gets a little confused between the rooster and hen because they look similar and she calls the goose a duck, but other than that she's pretty good at it. She even got all smarty pants on us and was deliberately holding animals over the wrong shadows and asking us if they were right. "Is this the pig mummy? Oh no no no that's a cow". I have no idea where she gets her sarcastic personality from *cough*.


CHRISTMAS BUSY BAG - SPELLING WORDS


At the moment Flying Sprout have special christmas busy bags available including the christmas spelling busy bag. The spelling busy bag includes 12 laminated picture cards with the matching words and 85 individual letters that children can use to spell each of the words. The letters can also be used for other spelling activities like making a christmas story or using them in a sensory tub and many other letter activities.

Flying Sprout christmas spelling busy bag

Being 3 bub doesn't know how to spell yet, but she has known the alphabet since she was 2 so she's very good at letter recognition. She could easily identify the items from the pictures but some of the bigger words were a bit tricky to spell {because she kept getting confused with ordering the letters because there were so many}. So instead we've been focusing on the smaller words such as tree and star which she's had fun matching up. She puts them in order following the cards then spells them out to me. "S, t, a, r.... spellllls star mummy. Look it's a star!".



ALPHABET JUMBLE PRINT


Flying Sprout also have a few printables available as digital downloads. We've been using the alphabet jumble print as an alphabet matching game. It includes all letters of the alphabet in both lower case and upper case all jumbled up in the wrong order. Ours is laminated {so it can be used over and over} and bub's been using her clear glass pebbles to find the lower and upper case version of each letter. The letters could also be circled with whiteboard markers and then wiped off to reuse. She loves finding the letters and is now regularly talking about lower case and upper case versions of letters on a daily basis rather than just identifying individual letters.
Flying Sprout alphabet letter jumble digital download

All of the Flying Sprout busy bags that we've tried out have kept bub entertained independently for prolonged periods of time which is super useful for appointments and when I need some spare time to get things done at home. She's also made a lot of them interactive at times asking me questions about which move she needs to make next so she feels like we're playing a game together. They're a great way for her to practice skills she already has and to extend on her current skills through different activities. Most of the bags have extra game options added on the guide cards and the items can be used for other activities too {i.e. the plastic animals can be used in small word play}. I also love that the busy bags all come in sealed splash proof bags which means I can store all the pieces together so they don't get lost and it makes transporting them super easy when we're out. Bianca has clearly spent a lot of time and effort putting together each activity to make them educational, entertaining and fun for kids. 

Flying Sprout are currently having a 12 days of Christmas promotion with different specials for each of the first 12 days of December, to see the daily offers drop by their Instagram account or Facebook page. Bianca is also offering an exclusive discount for Finding Myself Young readers, simply use the code FMY15 to save 15% off any Flying Sprout products in the etsy store. You can also find other fun educational ideas on her blog, like this one about using m&m's and skittles for learning. If you have a lot of appointments like us, are planning a road trip over the holidays, going away camping or just need a few minutes peace while the kids are entertained you should definitely check out the awesome products available from Flying Sprout.

Do/did you use busy bags with your kids?

Toni x

*15% off not valid with other offers.

Disclosure - I was provided the three busy bags 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.

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Click Clack Toys to the rescue

For the last few weeks bub's been obsessed with firemen and fire engines. "Firemen help people mummy, they put out the fires". She gets so excited each afternoon when Fireman Sam comes on tv and nearly pees her pants with excitement if we ever drive past a real life fire truck {thankfully she's still in nappies or that'd be a problem}. So she was beyond excited when she received a parcel from Click Clack Toys and opened it to discover a fire station and fire engine {she loves the helicopter too, but was beside herself excited about the fire station}.

Click Clack Toys are an Australian owned and designed environmentally conscious company focused on providing fun for today's kids while also looking after tomorrow's world. The wood used in their toys is sourced from sustainably managed plantation timber forests. They're made using non toxic glue and brought to life with water based paints {so no nasties for the little ones}. The toys also come in recycled cardboard packaging {even the rubbish is environmentally friendly}.

Their range is primarily based on vehicles including construction vehicles such as diggers, dump trucks and cement trucks; rescue vehicles including a police car, ambulance, fire truck and helicopter as well as delivery vehicles including a post van, tractor and semi trailer. Of course all these vehicles will need somewhere to park so Click Clack also have a police station, fire station and airport available.

It's no secret that we love wooden toys around here. Wooden toys just have a natural nostalgia about them, not to mention the hours of imaginary play they create. They also seem to last a lot longer than plastic toys, which is why I've been slowly replacing all our plastic toys with wooden alternatives over the past few months. I'm totally hoarding all her wooden toys for the grandkids later on.

The main feature that sets Click Clack Toys apart from other wooden toy companies is that each item has a build-able component, right down to the individual vehicles. I love that this brings an added dimension to the toys and also helps kids use their cognitive skills, hand/eye co-ordination and work on their fine motor skills. Bub loved being able to build the toys because she felt like she made them herself. Obviously being 3 she doesn't have the skills to put them all together properly, but she did assemble the fire truck and had a good go at putting the helicopter together.



"Look mummy I builded it. I made it all byed myself". She was super proud of herself when the individual pieces turned into proper functioning vehicles. While the toy vehicles are relatively easy for younger kids to put together, the fire station is a little more complicated and did require mummy's expertise {although it could probably be built by a child over the age of about 8}. Each piece of the station is separate and slots together easily with an interlocking dowel system {just like flat packed furniture, but it's much less frustrating to put together}. Thankfully the instructions are also clearly listed on the back of the packaging including pictures which makes it easier for budding child engineers, or clueless mummy's, to construct.

The fire station was pretty easy to put together and only took about ten minutes in total from start to finish {including being interrupted by her "helping" me a few times}. Considering I never assemble toys and usually leave that to daddy I was actually super proud that I put the fire station together {correctly, the first time}. Is that a little sad? I don't really care if it is I'm totally owning it. Bub was super proud of me too "yay mummy you did it, you build the fire house, now I can play with it". Okay so she was probably more excited that she could play with it rather than my construction skills, but I'll take any praise I can get. Here's the finished product, not bad hey?



The fire station has two opening doors on the garage allowing the fire truck to exit in either direction when there's an emergency. It can also fit comfortably under the helipad. The helipad is the perfect place to store the helicopter while it's awaiting the next emergency. The helicopter and fire truck are both sold separately, but are the perfect toys to accompany the fire station for hours of imaginary play

Since we put the Click Clack toys together I've left them on her play table and at least a few times a day I hear "weeee-aw, weee-aw, weee-aw quick, quick there's a fire! Quick helicopter we have to go. Okay I'm coming let's go put out the fire. Firemen to the rescue". It's beyond cute listening in on her scenarios as she plays with the toys. Her daddy and I often just sit quietly listening to her, smiling to ourselves at how fun her imagination is {other parents do this too right?}.


I really love that the toys have provided hours of imaginary play already, no doubt with many more to come. I also love that they give kids the added satisfaction of being able to construct them themselves. Seeing the look of accomplishment and pride on her face once she made the little toys was pretty cool. The fact that she was also working on important developmental skills whilst doing that was an added bonus. Click Clack Toys really are a unique, affordable and environmentally friendly option for Christmas and birthday presents {or just because} and they're also loads of fun! I'm thinking we might have to add to our collection for her birthday next year.

To find out more about Click Clack Toys follow them on Facebook and Instagram. If you know a little one who'd love these toys just as much as bub does then I have good news, I'm giving a set away, enter to win below.

WIN A CLICK CLACK TOYS FIRE STATION SET




Thanks to the team at Click Clack Toys, I have another fire station set to give away to one lucky reader. The set includes the fire station, fire truck and helicopter {usually sold separately}. To be in the chance to win simply fill in the rafflecopter form below and leave me a comment letting me know which Click Clack toy is your child's favourite and why.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TERMS & CONDITIONS
Competition commences upon publication and ends at 11:59pm December 4th 2016. One winner will receive a fire engine {RRP $12.95}, helicopter {RRP $12.95} and fire station {RRP $19.95}, total prize pool $45.85. 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.

An InLinkz Link-up


Disclosure - I was provided with the Click Clack toys mentioned above for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are based on our experience with the toys. I did not receive payment for this review.

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Friday, November 18, 2016

The big reveal


I know some people are very traditional and want to keep their baby's sex a surprise until birth, but we're basically the opposite of that. For us after waiting months and months {16 months this time} to conceive in the first place, the thought of having to wait another 9 months to find out the sex of our baby just feels like self-imposed punishment. As far as we're concerned we don't need anymore surprises, for us knowing the sex is pretty much the only thing we can be in control of throughout the whole process of making a baby. And once you've been through the uncertainty of infertility, being able to control one tiny aspect becomes even more paramount. I get that we aren't really in control of it though, i.e. we have no hand in choosing the sex, but just knowing the outcome of something within this process is extremely reassuring.

So, for those reasons, as soon as we found out we were finally pregnant the first conversation we had was "we're finding out the sex right?", which was met with a resounding YES from both of us. 

As soon as I got pregnant I instantly thought I was having a boy. The same thing happened last time, although I think last time I subconsciously told myself I was having a boy to lessen the shock {incase it really was a boy} because deep down I really wanted a girl. However, 2 weeks before we were due for our scan I had an overwhelming feeling we were having a girl and it turns out we were. This time around it honestly didn't bother me what we were having, in fact I started to warm to the idea of having a boy as it meant we'd have one of each if this ends up being our last baby. However, once again about 2 weeks out from our scan date I started having an overwhelming feeling it was another girl. I'm starting to think it might be some kind of in built mothers intuition.

At our scan our little bean was being extremely uncooperative and wouldn't stop flipping around {literally doing 360's} every time the ultrasound tech tried to take measurements. It also had it's legs crossed most of the time and kept grabbing it's feet so was bunched up completely. Funnily enough all this cheeky behaviour and restlessness made me think it might actually be a boy, but eventually she opened her legs for a fleeting moment and we found out we're having another baby girl.



It turns out bub is going to get the baby sister she was longing for after all, although at first she wasn't too pleased with the result. When we first told her she spent a good ten minutes whinging and yelling at us that it was a baby brother not a baby sister, but she's since come around. She now calls her baby doll a baby sister like the baby in mummy's tummy and when we ask her what's in mummy's tummy she says a baby sister. I'm so excited that she's going to have a sister because I never had one and always wished I had. It's going to be so fun watching them grow up together.



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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Mummy Must Have Review | Little Minx Milestones

I remember when I first had bub I had no idea what I needed or what was a good brand when it came to the hundreds of baby products on the market. So, like most mums, I turned to friends and family for advice and for the rest of the time I resorted to trial and error. We went through countless different brands of creams, bath washes, sunscreens, nappies etc and eventually found our favourites. One of the reasons why I first started Mummy Must Have reviews was to help other mums save time when deciding on baby products, gifts and essentials by sharing my own knowledge from past experience. What I've learnt since becoming a mum is that time is precious and anything that saves me time is worth it's weight in gold. Hopefully by turning my hours of research into reviews I've helped save others a bit of precious time. I'm happy to say I've found a kindred spirit in Vicky from Little Minx Milestones who's not only spent countless hours researching different products, she's also carefully curated those products into gorgeous care packages through her own business to help make life easier for other parents.


Little Minx Milestones is a family owned business started by Vicky, a mum with a similar thought pattern to myself. She too had experienced how hard it is to determine which products to use once you become a mum, so she put her own experience plus recommendations from over 300 other families together to create a online store that offers a range of care packages, survival kits and presents for babies, toddlers and families. Little Minx Milestones range includes proven organic, homeopathic, fair trade and environmentally conscious products that have been extensively tried and tested. Little Minx offer a comprehensive range of care packages and survival kits providing solutions for children of all ages from pre-birth right through to school age.

They have a large selection of gift packages to help both parents and children through challenging adjustment periods such as toilet training and the arrival of new siblings, as well as emotional transitions such as starting daycare or school. There are also survival kits for school holidays, summer, cold and flu season as well as teething and toddler first aid {to name just a few}. With over 27 different packs to choose from plus a range of individual gifts, and the opportunity to create your own care packages, Little Minx Milestones is the most comprehensive children's gift box style company I've ever come across. I already have a list of care packages I want to get in the future including the toilet training survival kit, everyday heroes {old favourites} newborn box and starting chidcare survival kit.

We've recently been trialling the summer protection and wellness survival kit for a few weeks. Even though it's technically only spring, Qld has this funny way of confusing the seasons and seems to combine spring and summer into one long endless summer. Needless to say the hot weather has well and truly arrived already. We've had a few 35+ degree days last week and quite a few typical summer afternoon storms to go along with them. I'm actually excited beach weather is here already though because we're definitely beach lovers and would pretty much live at the beach all year if we could.

Summer Protection & Wellness


The Little Minx Milestones Summer Protection & Wellness survival kit is a carefully curated selection of natural and effective essentials for kids to help make surviving the harsh UV rays and bugs that summer inevitably brings much easier for parents. The care package includes 6 different full sized products that cover sun protection, insect protection and relief for post swimming/beach activities. It also comes in a really useful waterproof drawstring bag which is great for beach days and swimming lessons.

Little Minx Milestones Summer Wellness and Protection Survival Kit



What I love most about this pack is that you have a choice of 3 different sunscreens - Eco SPF 30+ Baby Certified Organic Sunscreen, Cancer Council SPF 50+ Peppa Pig Spray Sunscreen or the Cancer Council SPF 50+ Peppa Pig Roll-on Sunscreen. This covers all bases for parents as there's an organic option as well as a spray {great for older kids} or roll-on {great for babies}. We chose the Peppa Pig spray sunscreen because bub has really fair skin {she got it from her mumma} and I love that the Cancer Council sunscreens are SPF 50+. It also helps that it has Peppa Pig on it, because anything Peppa Pig goes down a treat in this household, and lets face it anything that makes putting on sunscreen easier is a really good thing. With bub having such delicate skin and the sun being so harsh here in Australia {especially in sunny Qld} I'm very thorough about applying sunscreen when we head outside, she even reminds me to put on her "ice-cream" before she goes and plays now. The survival kit also includes an SPF 50+ sunscreen lip balm to protect little lips.

Even though we spend a heap of time outside and at the beach during summer I have to admit I usually only remember to pack sunscreen and a hat. The one thing I always forget about is the bugs, which you'd think I'd remember after living next to a river for 10 years and being attacked by them every year. Is it just me or does there seem to be a heap more mosquitoes already this year? Inevitably every time we're outside the bugs end up driving us nuts which is why I'm glad the summer survival kit includes child safe insect protection options. To be honest I had no idea where to start when it came to kid friendly insect repellents so I'm glad someone else has done the research for me. The Little Minx Milestones package includes Biologika Bug Another Organic Insect Repellent {in a spray bottle} which is safe for young kids and also Aplen citronella infused silicone mozzie bands {in kids size} for when the mozzies are really bad.

Little Minx Milestones summer care package flatlay


Little Minx have also thought about after care too. Both myself and bub have notoriously dry skin which is only worse after being in the sun for a while, so the inclusion of Naturalus Organic Aloe Vera Spray is awesome {and I'll be using it as much as bub does}. Aloe Vera spray is another one of those products I always seem to forget about until the moment I need it, which of course is too late. There's nothing better than the feeling of cool Aloe Vera spray on your skin when it's dry and sore.

The kit also includes Paw Paw Lip Butter for relief from dry cracked lips, which is something I also suffer from every single day {regardless of whether I go in the sun or not unfortunately}. The summer protection and wellness kit products come packed in a waterproof drawstring bag which is great for storing everything in the one place and it's easy to throw in the nappy or beach bag when we head out. It also doubles as a wet bag once you've finished at the beach or pool which will be even more handy once bub starts swimming lessons {there's nothing worse than having wet togs to take home when you've forgotten a separate bag to store them in, which I've done on one or two occasions}.

Little Minx summer essentials in drawstring wetbag


I cannot recommend Little Minx Milestones enough, they provide such an extensive range of wonderfully curated products in convenient well thought out packages. On top of this they also provide great customer service and the items arrive beautifully packaged. I'm also a huge fan of their book corner which is another part of their website offering a range of hard to find children's books. I've already purchased Mix It Up {which has fast become bub's favourite book of all time} and The Day The Crayons Came Home and I can foresee quite a few more book purchases in my future. 

Little Minx Milestones have generously created an exclusive gift with purchase* including Brauer Kids Arnica Bruise cream, Every day Good Co Emoji Bandaids, Tiger Tribe stickers and Honey Bee Immunity Pops as a thankyou for any purchase made by Finding Myself Young readers. To take advantage of this special offer simply make a purchase from www.littleminxmilestones.com in the next week and use the coupon code FMY1116 at checkout.

Are you ready for summer?

Toni x

*Terms & ConditionsGift with Purchase Valued at $27.95 :  includes Brauer Kids Arnica Bruise cream ($14.95), Every day Good Co Emoji Bandaids ($3.95), Tiger Tribe stickers ($4.95) and Honey Bee Immunity Pops ($3.50).  Limit of one GWP per transaction made at www.littleminxmilestones.com using the coupon FMY1116. Offer valid until 22.11.16.


Disclosure - I was provided a Summer Protection and Wellness survival kit for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own based on my experience with the products and customer service received from Little Minx Milestones. I did not receive payment for this review and I have purchased other items from Little Minx Milestones {because their collection is so awesome}.

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Friday, November 11, 2016

I haven't met you yet but I already love you.


For the last few months I've been quietly pondering in my head how I'd possibly love you as much as I love bub. I literally didn't know if it would be possible, but then again I didn't know how much I'd love her until after she was born. I've watched friends agonise over whether to have more children because they're unsure they'll be able to love a sibling as much as they loved their first child. I guess it's such a huge change the first time developing a love for someone who never existed before and you can't possibly know if it'll be the same the next time. Love for a child is a whole different kind of love and it's hard to imagine your heart expanding even bigger yet again to love two little people. For me though, it was never a question of whether to have more children, but I've still wondered if my heart was indeed capable of expanding yet again.

I haven't even met you yet, but I already love you so very much. In fact I literally only just discovered you exist an hour ago and I've been over the moon giddy with love {much like a teenager} ever since. There have been many happy tears, tears of disbelief, thanking of the universe and lots of smiling uncontrollably. I always believed this day would finally come and now its here and its even more special than I ever imagined.

Just like your sister there weren't really many signs that you were even in there. There have been a few twinges here and there, but that's been the same every month so I tried not to read anything into it. Of course now I know you're there I'm hypersensitive to every little ping, twinge or cramp and I'm trying so hard to not read anything into it. I don't want to be scared the whole time like I was last pregnancy. I'm going to think positively. You're not going anywhere you're going to keep baking away and when the timings right I'm going to hold you in my arms and smother you with kisses.

I can't wait to see if you're a little mister or little miss. To snuggle you and be addicted to your new baby smell. To tickle your toes, hold your little fingers and stroke your forehead. To make you laugh and smile and wipe away your tears when you're sad. To waste hours of my day staring at your beautiful face. I adore you already and I can't wait to meet you in person. My heart has already expanded and you already hold a piece of it.

Mum x



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Friday, November 4, 2016

Twinkl teaching resources

I'm not sure if I've shared on here before, but I'm planning on studying early childhood education once bub's gone to school, with the plan to work in childcare and possibly teach kindy. I wanted to work in childcare back in my early 20's but knowing I had fertility issues I chose not to because I thought being around little kids all day would just make me long for my own even more. Looking back I think that was the right decision because just seeing babies would make me sad for what I was missing, so I can imagine how much pain I would've been in being surrounded by children day in and day out. However, my desire to work with children has never waned, if anything it's gotten stronger since becoming a mum. Needless to say we do a lot of learning through play activities at home so I can indulge my passion and she loves it.

I share most of our activities over on Instagram, which has earned me the nickname pinterest mum from some of my friends. Ironically I hardly ever use pinterest, instead I either think up our activities myself or am inspired by other teachers and homeschooling mums I follow on Instagram. We do a lot of sensory play and small world activities as well as working on the alphabet and counting. I've started adding printables and activity sheets lately to mix things up and keep it interesting for her. One great resource I've discovered for these is Twinkl.


Twinkl is a comprehensive teaching resource site providing teaching, planning and assessment materials for babies right through to school aged children. The twinkl resources include lesson packs, power point presentations, display materials, worksheets and craft ideas. Twinkl is originally UK based, but an Australian curriculum section has been added to support Australian teachers and homeschooling families. In addition to this there is also a create section where you can create your own resources based on various templates. There are also heaps of resources for parents and child minders to use at home.

For the last few weeks I've been feverishly trawling the birth-twos section of the parent resources and downloading anything I know bub will be remotely interested in. There are so many different resources available including games, busy bags, sensory bin ideas, sensory recipes {playdough, cloud dough, slime etc}, puzzles, playdough mats, phonics cards and can you find posters. Needless to say I've also bought a laminator and been going to town printing and laminating all the things {seriously where has this magical machine been all my life}. Bub's been a huge fan of the phonics cards and can you find it posters. She's been using glass pebbles to find the items on the posters so we can reuse them and she even cheers herself at the end saying "yay I did it mummy, I did it".



There are also numerous themed resources designed to help teach certain story books, such as the Gruffalo {see the image above for just a tiny selection of Gruffalo resources}, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Jack and the Beanstalk and Room on the Broom, just to name a few. We've printed out a heap of Gruffalo themed resources as bub loves the movie and the book. There's also resources themed around seasons and special holidays and events. We printed out the Halloween phonics cards {below} and I've downloaded heaps of Christmas activities which I'll share on Instagram as we do them.



There are so many other resources I've downloaded to try later on including dot-to-dot sheets, colouring sheets, letter formation worksheets, number formation worksheets, pencil control activities and a heap of other playdough mats. Bub has show a keen interest in learning how to write letters and numbers so we'll be working on playdough mats and formation sheets to help with that soon. I've only really scratched the surface with the resources available on the site though, every time I go on I find other cool things to download, now it's just a matter of finding enough hours in the day to do all the cool activities.

If you're a teacher or early childhood educator I would definitely recommend Twinkl as there are so many resources for the classroom. It's also just as beneficial for stay at home parents, homeschooling families and nannies as there are numerous activities that can be done at home, especially for younger children. Twinkl offers a range of free resources {simply sign up for a free account}, or there are paid subscription options which give you access to all resources on the site. We've been using the paid subscription and will continue using it as it's definitely value for money and there are so many more activities that will become relevant as bub's abilities continue to develop and once she starts school. There's also the Twinkl Facebook page and a special Twinkl Australia Facebook group for even more inspiration and ideas.

Toni x

Disclosure - I was gifted a premium subscription to Twinkl to access all resources in order to provide a review. All opinions expressed are based on our experiences with the website and printable resources. I did not receive payment for this review.


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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Mummy Must Have Review | Little Bairn

Last time I was pregnant I was working full time so my days consisted of working 9hrs on my feet, coming home eating dinner and basically going to bed. I didn't spend much time taking care of myself. It was more about making it through each day and getting closer to my maternity leave {if I'm completely honest}. Unfortunately by the time I made it to maternity leave and had free time to relax, my pelvis had separated and I could hardly walk. So there wasn't much relaxing going on. My last few weeks of pregnancy were filled with pain from a pelvis that no longer functioned and then to top it off I developed carpel tunnel and pupps rash, just for shits and giggles. Between infertility and the physical complications I swear the universe was trying to tell me I wasn't meant to be pregnant.

This time around everything is different. I'm not working 9hrs on my feet all day, well at least not in the traditional sense of the word work, instead I spend 14hrs a day looking after a toddler with no real break. Oh how I miss lunch breaks, but at least I have a couch I can rest on {when she lets me}. I'm fully aware of the physical ailments that could potentially be waiting for me down the track so I'm trying to slow down and take care of myself now {as much as I can} while I'm still pain free. Hopefully I won't have as many complications this time, but I'm being realistic, since a lot of them were hormone induced they're likely to happen again. So operation pregnancy pampering is underway starting with some pretty awesome bath soaks from Little Bairn.


Little Bairn is an Australian owned and made, luxury certified organic skincare range for mums and bubs. Little Bairn products are made using high quality natural and organic ingredients such as nutrient-rich plant oils, essential oils and botanical extracts. Little Bairn stock a range of baby products including lotions, powders, massage oils and bath soaks. In addition to their famous baby products, they also stock a beautiful range of products for pregnant women including bath soaks, belly oil and nipple balm.

You've probably seen Little Bairn products before as they're featured in many popular baby boxes and gift packs from different children's boutiques and subscription box services across Australia. In addition to this they also have their own range of gift bundles to choose from. As soon as I saw the pregnancy journal gift set I fell in love. I mean what's not to love when we're talking two gorgeous bath soaks and a beautiful pregnancy journal. When it arrived the packaging was just as gorgeous as the products.



LITTLE BAIRN BATH SOAKS


The journal gift set comes with both the Relax Me pregnancy bath soak and the Heal Me postnatal bath soak. Each of the bath soaks come in a generous size with enough for multiple baths. The Relax Me soak is rich in minerals designed to detoxify the body and relieve aching muscles {hallelujah, every pregnant woman's dream}. It also has calming rose petals and lavender flowers, bub loves to tell me "there's lots of pedals in your bath mummy". I've been getting lots of leg cramps and restless leg syndrome at times but the salts and minerals in the bath soak have been helping to alleviate it on the nights I use them {it's also great stress relief after a testing day with a threenager}.


The Heal Me bath soak is designed to promote healing and recovery after birth. It also contains a number of essential oils to help relax the body. I can't wait to use this one once I've given birth, although I'm sure I'll need to enlist daddy's help with the kids in order to make a bath happen.

Up until a few weeks ago {when bub decided it'd be fun if mum started having baths with her} I hadn't actually used our new bathtub. We renovated the bath about 2 years ago, that shows you how much I get time to relax in the bath. I've quickly learnt soaking in rose petals and minerals {by myself} is definitely a lot more relaxing than sharing a bubble bath with a toddler and 4500 bath toys. I've been taking advantage of some me time in the bath as often as possible {while I'm still able to get in and out of it without help}. So far I've had 3 baths and the container is still over half full {I'm making it last as long as possible}.


My bath looks way more relaxing in this photo than it usually does, what you can't see here is the basket full of bath toys at the other end and the plethora of appliques stuck along the wall.

BAE THE LABEL PREGNANCY JOURNAL


Last pregnancy I planned on keeping a pregnancy journal, in fact I bought a really nice notebook to give me something to look forward to while trying to conceive her. However, after years of ttc I spent my whole pregnancy worried that something would go wrong, and for some reason that meant I was too paranoid to ever fill in my special journal. Still to this day that notebook sits blank in my bedside table.

This time however I was determined to not make the same mistake. Thankfully I now have the gorgeous BAE the label pregnancy journal  to use from my gift set. To be honest I didn't even know there was such a thing as a purpose made pregnancy journal {hence my original plan to use a notebook last time}. The pregnancy journal is so much more organised than my notebook would've been. It has spots to record memories from each week as well as pages to record special moments such as ultrasound photos, cravings, name ideas, and my favourite page below ~ how I told your father we were pregnant. I love that it includes that because I'm sure the memory will fade over time {mind you this time I have hard video evidence, which I threaten to post on Facebook all the time}.


I'm so thankful to have this wonderful keepsake of my entire pregnancy to one day share with my son or daughter. I would've loved to have known what pregnancy felt like along the way for my mum so I'm sure it'll be a treasured memory for them too. I just wish I had neater writing, but I'm sure they won't mind.

The Little Bairn pregnancy journal gift set is a great gift set for women from the beginning of pregnancy through to the end. It'd make a great gift for pregnant friends or family members, even if you don't find out they're pregnant until after 12 weeks {they can still go back and fill in the start of the journal while everything is fresh in their minds}. You can also purchase the two bath soaks separately from Little Bairn.

Did you take time to treat yourself during your pregnancy?

Toni x


Disclosure - I was gifted a Little Bairn pregnancy journal gift set for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are based on my experience with the products. I did not receive payment for this review.

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Learning the alphabet with Paw Patrol Treat Time Marshall

Is your child obsessed with Paw Patrol too? 

From what I can tell Paw Patrol is rapidly invading the houses of almost all toddlers and preschoolers across the nation. Even though Paw Patrol airs on channel 9 and GO! each week, bub didn't discover it on TV, she found it via a suggested video on YouTube Kids and she's been infatuated ever since. And ever since then I've had the annoying catchy theme song ringing in my head. No idea what I'm talking about? Listen to this...




You'll have that in your head for weeks now. Welcome to my world.

As with any of bubs new obsessions it's imperative that I learn the characters names as quickly as possible to avoid her frustration when I don't understand what the hell she's talking about. Threenagers get very annoyed when you don't love their heroes as much as they do {especially when they're talking animated dogs}. Her favourites are Marshall, Rubble and Skye {so naturally they're the only ones I usually remember}.

Now that she's in love with Paw Patrol I've all of a sudden started noticing all the Paw Patrol things at the shops. Funny that. It's like when you get a red car, then see red cars e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. It's a conspiracy I swear. Apparently there's a huuuge amount of Paw Patrol gear available to satisfy the little people, which is both good {hello Christmas presents} and slightly confusing. I'm a bit of a mean mum and have a rule that any new toys coming into this house need to be either wooden or educational, so that cancels out a lot toys at the shops, but I'm happy to report there's a really cool educational Paw Patrol toy that gets a massive tick of approval from me {much to bub's delight}. Meet Treat Time Marshall.
Treat Time Marshall helps kids learn the alphabet through games and songs as they feed him different pup treats. Each pup treat is a different letter and as he's fed Marshall responds with the letter, phonics, objects or songs depending on which mode he's in. Marshall has four modes including letter treats, learning rescue, search & rescue and music time.

In letter treats kids can put any pup treat into Marshall's mouth and he'll recognise the letter and repeat it back to them. In learning rescue Marshall identifies the letter and the picture on the pup treat and explains it. Search and rescue is a game where kids need to identify the right letter either by the letter or picture on the pup treat, if they get it wrong they're encouraged to try again. In music time kids can feed Marshall any pup treat and each one will trigger a different song.

Marshall's fire rescue badge also lights up and flashes as he talks and can be pressed for extra sayings. Marshall has over 250 melodies, sounds and phrases. He also moves his ears and opens and closes his eyes which bub loves. VTech have also incorporated storage into the toy with Marshall's pup pack safely storing all the pup treats when they're not being played with. The handle on his back also makes it really easy for kids to carry him around {bub takes him all over the house and outside}.




My only mild criticism of Marshall would be that the pup treats fit into his mouth quite snugly so it took bub a bit of time to get the hang of getting them in properly and out again. She's mastered it now {and it was good incidental fine motor skills practice}, but there were some initial tantrums, so just be prepared to help put them in and out at the beginning. The pup pack flap is also a little tricky to open, but that's actually a blessing in disguise because it means once I've packed it up she can't get them back out again and lose them.

Treat Time Marshall is a great toy to introduce letters and the alphabet to younger children and an engaging way to reinforce them to kids that already know the alphabet. Bub's known the alphabet for over a year now, but I still love to reinforce it during play all the time and the games Marshall plays with her are doing that in a fun and interactive way. She loves listening and singing along to the songs in the music mode and she really loves playing the search and rescue game where she has to listen to his clues and pick the right pup treat. In fact I'm pretty sure pup treat has become a regular part of her vocabulary now because she's always talking about Marshall and his pup treats. Even though this toy is plastic and I'd prefer wooden toys, its educational benefits far outweigh my aversion to plastic toys. I definitely feel its a worthwhile investment and I can see bub will be playing with it for the next couple of years. If you're looking for a Christmas gift for a Paw Patrol obsessed toddler or preschooler then definitely add Treat Time Marshall to your list.

For further information on Treat Time Marshall and other VTech products {including more Paw Patrol toys}, visit www.vtech.com.au, or check out the VTech news on Facebook and Instagram.


Disclosure - I was provided a Treat Time Marshall for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are based on our experience with the product. I did not receive payment for this review.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Mummy Must Have Review | Along Came A Baby Milestone Book

You now how you're meant to be all organised with the first child and then you start letting things slide with the second? Well I think I'm the opposite of that. I had the best intentions of doing everything for bub - pregnancy journal, baby book, print lots of photos, record every memory - but it just never ended up happening. I let it slide for weeks, which turned into months, which has now turned into years... whoops. In my defence though I was dealing with post natal depression and an extremely unsettled allergy baby so my mind was somewhat preoccupied just getting through each day. Once the fog finally cleared from all of that I'd completely forgotten about filling in her baby book {and didn't really think about it again until I found out I was pregnant again}.

I'm determined to not let it happen again this time. This baby is going to have a pregnancy journal to look back on and a completely full milestone book, with photos included. To be honest though I haven't actually bought anything for the baby yet as I was planning on waiting until after we know the sex, but when I was invited to review the new Along Came a Baby Milestone Book and discovered it was unisex I knew it would be perfect.


Along came a baby is an 80 page gender neutral baby record book that records memories from pregnancy right through to your child's first day of school. Instead of being all grey or all yellow, like most traditionally unisex products, the book is a nice blend of black, pink, blue, teal and yellow not focusing too heavily on any one colour so it will appeal to parents of both genders, and those like me who haven't found out yet. Along Came a Baby is a mixture of a photo album, journal and scrapbook all combined into one beautifully bound keepsake book.


The book contains a pregnancy section which includes notes from each trimester, potential name lists, spaces for ultrasound and bump pics and space to write a letter to the baby pre-birth. There's also detailed monthly records once baby is born. I really love that there's a page to do hand and foot prints as well as keep a lock of hair and the hospital bracelet {I still have bub's floating around in a box in her room}. I also love that there are numerous pages dedicated to letters to the baby at different stages of their life, I  recorded letters to bub on the blog, but I never physically wrote them down anywhere so it'll be nice to have that recorded this time in one place.


I love this book so much it's actually made me feel slightly guilty for not filling out one for bub and I'm thinking of buying her a book and retrospectively filling it in now. People do that right? I don't want this baby to have everything recorded and her to have nothing to look back on when she's older so I'm going to have to get onto that pretty quickly {before I forget everything}. I can already imagine us all sitting around in 20yrs time looking back through the books and reminiscing when they were both little babies.

Until November 1st 2016 you'll receive a free print with every milestone book purchased from Along Came a Baby.

Did you fill out a baby book for all of your kids?

Toni x

Disclosure - I was gifted a copy of Along Came a Baby Milestone Book for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own after using the book. I did not receive payment for this review.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Halloween play ideas for toddlers and preschoolers

Isn't it funny how much difference a year can make? Last year I wrote about how I dislike Halloween and have no intentions of embracing it and yet this past week I've been actively coming up with Halloween themed play ideas for bub. I know, what the?

While I may have slowly started embracing Halloween in small doses, I still don't agree with the overall concept. I still dislike the idea of trick or treating, I'm still petrified of people dressed up as ghosts, witches, zombies and clowns {especially this year with the crazy clown situation} and I'm still terrified of most things horror related, so it's really still not my cup of tea. But, I'm a realist and the fact is it's gaining popularity every year here in Australia, so bub will be exposed to it more and more as the years go on. So I've decided to introduce it to her in an age appropriate and fun way by incorporating Halloween themed activities into our daily play. These are some of the fun activities we've tried and how you can put them together for your own kids.

Halloween sensory play ideas for toddlers and preschoolers


HALLOWEEN SENSORY TUB


Halloween sensory tub for toddlers

We're huge fans of sensory tubs here, so it's no surprise that I put together a Halloween one. I found some cheap plastic rats, bats and spiders as well as some chocolate eyeballs and pumpkins to use with some couscous. It would also be great with orange or black dyed rice, beans or spaghetti. I added in some tweezers and handy scoopers for some added fine motor skills while playing.

SPOOKY JELLY


Halloween spooky jelly

I love using all sorts of food for sensory play and lately we've started experimenting with jelly play a lot more. Bub loves it because she can help to make it as well as play with at the end, and of course its edible so she can eat it too. We put together a really simple spooky jelly with some orange jelly, snake, teeth and mouth lollies. You could probably find more spooky lollies in special Halloween lolly packs, but we just grabbed some normal lollies from the supermarket in our weekly shop, so this is as spooky as it got. Add the lollies when the jelly has cooled, but is still relatively liquid if you want them to fall down into the jelly {we added them too late so they sat on the top, but apparently still tasted just as good}.

WITCHES SOUP


Spooky witches potion

For a super quick play activity that will keep the kids entertained for hours, grab a plastic Halloween container {we used an old jack-o-lantern container from last year} and make some witches soup. Simply fill the container with water and various plastic Halloween themed critters, we used bats, rats, spiders, snakes and a few bugs. If you don't have a Halloween themed container you could always use a plastic tub and dye the water orange with a few drops of food colouring. Add extra cups, spoons, tweezers or tongs to extend the play.

HALLOWEEN PHONICS FUN


Twinkly halloween printable phonics game

For a break from the sensory play and to add in some more educational learning, keep the kids entertained with these cool Halloween phonics printables from Twinkl. We printed and laminated them and then she used pegs to mark the correct letters. You could also use clear glass pebbles or simply circle the letter. For more fun themed activities search Halloween on Twinkl for printable colouring in pages, games, puzzles and paper models.

For even more Halloween themed activities visit my Halloween pinterest board and if you want more everyday play and learning activities for toddlers visit my Instagram feed.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Toni x

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