Monday, June 19, 2017

Brickman Experience - Interactive LEGO exhibition comes to the Gold Coast

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

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

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


The Brickman Experience


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

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

Lego Brickman car model

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

Who is Ryan McNaught?


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

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


Ryan McNaught Lego Brickman with helicopter made of Lego

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


Do you have a Lego lover at your place? 

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

Toni x


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

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Things you should never say to an overdue pregnant woman

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

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

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

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



Have you had the baby yet?

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

I have a good feeling tonight will be the night.

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

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

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

Babies come when they're ready.

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

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

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

Can you hurry up and have your baby?

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

Let me know the minute your contractions start.

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

So when is your actual due date?

About 500 years ago.

Wow I swear you've been pregnant forever!

Thanks for reminding me. I totally forgot.

......

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

Did you go overdue in your pregnancy?

Toni x
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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Mummy Must Have Review | The Natural Gift Box Co

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

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








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

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

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

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

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

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

Toni x


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

Linking with Kylie

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mummy Must Have Review | Looking Good Babe Care Package

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

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

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


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

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

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




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

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

Toni x

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

Linking with Kylie

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Monday, March 6, 2017

Mummy Must Have Review | The Happy Me Shop

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


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

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

Have you ever used fidget tools or sensory items?

Toni x


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

Linking with Kell, Alicia and Denyse
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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Letting go of the mummy guilt.

Ever since I became a mum 3yrs ago, mummy guilt has been a constant part of my life in one form or another. If you have a child you'll probably know what I mean. The constant second guessing if you're doing everything right. The constant trade offs, if we do this then we can't do that. The constant desire for alone time, but then desperation to be with your child once you finally get it. Parenting is a constant battle with internal guilt in some shape or form, for me anyway. Since I've been pregnant the mummy guilt has sky rocketed to another level.


Pregnancy has affected my ability to spend quality time with her in so many ways. For the first few months I suffered badly from morning sickness, like I need to spend all day on the couch or in the toilet or I may die kind of nausea. It was a huge adjustment for her because she's used to me being so interactive and spending the day playing with her or tending to her every need. Constant nausea has a way of controlling how much you can function whilst upright though, so we both had no choice but to adapt, and unfortunately that meant she needed to get used to fending for herself a little more.

As the weeks progressed my pelvis decided to separate again. It happened last pregnancy so it wasn't entirely unexpected, but it's happened a lot worse and a lot sooner this time around. Some days this simply means I wear a belt and am uncomfortable, other days it renders me unable to walk more than a few metres and in excruciating pain. It ebbs and flows each day and is rather unpredictable.

I'm not going to lie, I've been feeling so incredibly guilty about my pregnancy and the impact it's had on her. For the first few months I felt like I was neglecting her and saw everything in a negative light, but then I started noticing small moments and changes in her that made me realise this experience hasn't been as detrimental as I first thought. There have been many positive things to come out of the whole experience for both her and I and these are helping me to slowly but surely let go of my mummy guilt.

She's learning to be more independent - I've always been one to do most things for her thinking it was my job as her mum. Since I've been physically unable to satisfy her needs at the drop of a hat I've been teaching her to be more independent and do things for herself. She now knows how to go to the cupboard and fridge and get snacks/drinks for herself when she needs them {she still asks first thankfully or she'd be eating nothing but chocolate all day}. She also gets out toys for herself to play with and has become quite good at fetching things for me too.

She's learning to spend more time independently playing - She's always wanted me to be involved with activities or play along side her and hasn't really liked playing by herself, but the last few months she's learnt to go off and play blocks or "read" books on her own. She also sets up play activities with her dolls and other toys and her imaginary play is evolving in leaps and bounds because of this. I'm finally learning that kids being bored is not a bad thing, because they learn to adjust and make their own fun.

She's spending more time with her daddy - He works shift work so there's not usually much of a chance for us to spend quality time together, but we've been specifically trying to carve it out lately. Or at least they have been {I've been mainly trying to rest on the couch when he's home}. Now that I can't go food shopping {physio orders} and I have to attend hydrotherapy each week, it's given them two specific periods of time where it's just them and it's fast becoming their own little ritual. I'm loving that this has started now before the baby comes along because she'll be relying on daddy for entertainment a lot more often once I'm attached to a hungry/tired/clingy newborn all day.

I'm learning to go with the flow - I'm normally a control freak, I have everything planned out and prepared and I like everything to happen in the order it's meant to. Being physically unable to do things {like walk, drive, lift things etc} has forced me to slow down and realise I can't do everything, even when I have the best intentions of doing it. I'm struggling a bit because I don't want to let anyone down, but I'm also learning to listen to my body and go with the flow more.

So while being pregnant has been physically and emotionally hard, it's also been quite enlightening. I think we're both learning to make allowances for each other more and we're all helping each other out a lot more. I'm learning to let go and trust in her abilities, and she's learning how to adapt to change, and daddy's been stepping up to the plate too. My mummy guilt is still there, but it's not as loud as it was before.

Toni x

Linking with Kylie
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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Mummy Must Have Review | My Creative Box

Before I had kids I never thought I'd be a crafty mum. I loved art as a kid myself, but for some reason I could never imagine myself sitting down and doing craft activities with my child. Most likely because I thought I wouldn't have the patience for it. Evidently I was wrong. So wrong.

Turns out I love doing craft activities with her. Granted my ocd does get tested a fair bit when she's decorating or making things, and so does my tendency to want to control everything, but that's the beauty of being a parent ~ you adapt and change, and if not look in the other direction to stop yourself from "fixing" everything. As much as her doing things differently to the way I envisaged does test me, I really love watching her imagination come to life as she creates and I love that we get to share that together. For this reason we usually do a craft type activity at least once a week, whether that be drawing, painting, something more elaborate like making pom pom monsters or something themed like making Christmas wreaths.

Even though I love doing craft and am always looking up new things we can do together, there are times where I just lack motivation or enthusiasm to come up with new ideas {or trawl through pinterest for inspiration}, especially now that I'm seven months pregnant. There's also lots of nights where I don't want to spend ages prepping activities for the next day. Unfortunately though her desire to do activities never wanes, so I have to come up with alternatives, which is why I'm so glad I came across My Creative Box on Instagram.

My Creative Box is a monthly art/craft activity box which can be purchased as a one off box or via a subscription. It's the brain child of two childhood educator mums, Leanne and Abby, who wanted to bring fun, creative learning activities to other children. As educators they realise the many learning and development benefits of children being able to express themselves creatively, but they also understand that lots of parents are time poor so organising art activities can be a challenge, so they've done all the work for you. Each My Creative Box is designed for preschool children {3-6yrs} and includes 4-6 different craft activities each month. The activities included in the boxes are designed to encourage children to develop fine motor skills, hand/eye co-ordination, cognitive skills, build confidence and express their creativity through multi-sensory experiences. We've been working our way through the activities in the February My Creative Box over the last fortnight and this is what we think.
My creative box monthly art and craft activity kit

My Creative Box is literally packed with activities and I love that there's a guide page attached inside so you can see all the activities easily, which helps with choosing which one to do first {although if your child is like mine they'll want to do that one and that one AND that one first}. I also really love that everything you need for each activity is included {literally everything right down to the glue or paintbrush for example} and they're all packaged into separate bags for each individual activity. It's so easy to grab out a bag and set up an activity in less than a minute. No prep, no gathering of materials, it's all done already. 
My creative box February contents

Each activity comes with a comprehensive guide card which lists how to complete the activity step by step including photos. There are also extension activities listed at the bottom as some of the items can be re-used again and there's also usually excess materials {such as paint} left over once the specific activity is completed. On the back of the guide card the girls have also listed all the skills the activities help your child develop {like fine motor skills such as hand strengthening, pincer grip etc} and there is also suggested prompts to use when doing the activity to aid in language development too. The aspiring childhood educator in me loves this addition.
paper plate beach craft idea for toddlers

One of her favourite activities included in the February box was this sea plate craft activity. She loved gluing down each of the pieces of the blue tissue paper and choosing where each one would go to make the ocean. I then sprinkled the sand onto the bottom of the plate and she placed all the shells and fish where she wanted them to go. We didn't glue those down because I wanted to keep the plate as a more fluid kind of small world scene that she could change up each time she wanted to play with it. She kept moving the fish and crab around making them talk to each other and moved the shells around to make imprints into the sand.
beach sensory paper plate craft from my creative box


Being the February box it also included some fun valentines day crafts to make homemade presents. She loved putting these together, especially the clay heart necklace which she straight away told me was for grandma. Why do the grandparents always get the good stuff? Every single time we make a necklace, pretty picture, painting etc she always wants to give it to grandma. What about mummy? I'm the one who puts in all the effort, haha I'm totally not jealous at all! Luckily for me there was enough clay to make a few hearts so I got her to paint another one I'm keeping for myself.


Her most favourite activity of all was decorating her very own library bag. To be honest I think she was just as excited to paint all over a bag {because she thought she was getting away with something naughty} as she was with actually being able to paint it any way she liked. This activity did test my own ocd a bit because my brain wanted her to draw a nice pretty picture, but I knew it would end up being a bunch of random colours and lines. I managed to control myself though and allowed her to decorate it however she wanted and it was actually really amazing talking to her about what each squiggle was. She drew rainbows, mountains "like da pyramids" and one blue squiggle is apparently Sonic the hedgehog. Kids imaginations really are the best.


We've really enjoyed doing all the activities included in this month's box and I love that she also practised so many development skills while creating all her little crafts. The activities definitely helped to improve her hand strengthening as she can now squeeze a glue bottle without needing my help {which may bite me in the butt later if I leave her unattended with glue, but at the moment I'm just super proud of her}. To see all of our finished activities from the box check out my Instagram feed.

It's evident that Leanne and Abby have put a lot of time and planning into curating My Creative Box so that the activities appeal to a range of children and each activity {although comprehensive instructions are included} has a wide scope of how it can be completed given each child's imagination and individual way of manipulating the materials provided. I really love that each activity is so easy to set up and everything is provided so all you need to do is help your child to create a little masterpiece. They're great for rainy days, hot days when it's too hot to go outside, time poor parents who want easy no fuss activities and also crafty kids who love to create. I've already ordered the March box because she loved this one so much and I'm pretty sure we'll be ordering more in future months so that she has something just for her once her little sister has come along. I'm certain I'll need help coming up with creative ideas when I'm knee deep in sleep deprivation again, so I'm glad I have this special craft box {as she calls it} up my sleeve to keep her entertained.

Do/did you enjoy crafting with your kids?

Toni x

Disclosure - I was provided the February My Creative Box for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are based on our experience with the items and activities included in the box. I did not receive payment for this review and have already ordered the March box because we had so much fun doing the activities from this month's box.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Mummy Must Have | Heart in Box

Often when a new baby arrives the baby is showered with loads of attention and gifts, but mum, who quite frankly is the one who's done all the hard yards to bring the baby into the world, is easily overlooked. I kind of understand why though, I mean babies are incredibly cute so people can't help but swoon over them, but it's important not to forget the woman who endured 9 uncomfortable months then a {no doubt} painful labour to produce that cute squishy newborn. Mum's deserve a bit of showering of their own, but what do you give them? 

It's easy to think of gifts for a new baby, because there's so much they need - clothes, nappies, toys, teething products, toiletries etc, but not much of that translates to a gift for mum. Most new mums have toiletries covered before going into hospital {and lets face it showers aren't high on the priority list in the first few days after having a newborn} and well clothes won't fit properly again until that equally squishy belly settles back into the correct spot. I can tell you what I would've loved the first time around, chocolate, a shit tonne lot of chocolate! Unfortunately though chocolate doesn't last long {not around here anyway} and it also doesn't last well sitting in a hot letterbox so if you need to post a gift, or just want a gift that arrives in a gorgeous gift box, I suggest you check out Heart in Box.


Heart in Box is an online gift box company that specialises in curated gifts to uplift and pamper recipients through gifting and words. The business idea was originally conceived after owner Meng had her baby and realised all the gifts she received were for the baby and that mum's were often forgotten {other than at Mother's Day}. Then she received gifts for herself from her girlfriends which immediately lifted her spirits and she wanted to bring that same feeling to others. In just over a year Heart in Box has expanded their gift box range and now offer Heart Boxes for various different occasions including birthdays, housewarmings, weddings and many boxes to celebrate just because and to remind people they're loved and appreciated by friends and family.


NEW MAMA HEART BOX


The New Mama Heart Box was the first ever gift box from Heart in Box and was designed purely for new mums {whether they be first time mums or have multiple children already}. The early days with a newborn can be quite hectic and are a whirlwind of cluster feeding and sleep deprivation, which can lead to the baby blues for even the most prepared of mums. The New Mama Heart Box is designed as a pick me up for new mums to alleviate some of the stress of life with a newborn.




The New Mama Heart Box contains 7 carefully selected items to put a smile on mums face, including:

- A tin of lactation cookies
- A handmade chew safe necklace
- A book of 99 pick me ups for new mamas
- An all natural nursing balm
- An all natural sleep balm
- A custom designed card
- A special note card to pass on to a fellow mum

I can't wait to crack open the lactation cookies {which incidentally are choc-chip, yum}. Last time around I was continuously worried about my supply levels because I had no idea whether I was producing enough milk so it'll be great to have a little boost. The good thing about these cookies is they're also egg, dairy and wheat free which is great because bub was allergic to egg and dairy, so even if I need to eliminate them from my diet this time around the cookies will still be ok.

The handmade necklace is fabulous because it's still something for me to wear and feel a little bit dressed up, without much effort, and it's still safe for baby to chew on. Which will no doubt inevitably happen.

I can also envisage flipping through the 99 pick me ups for new mamas book at all times of the day {most likely when I'm trapped under a breast feeding baby} for a laugh. It's full of so many hilarious pictures and quotes. It'll probably save my sanity a lot during the 2am and 5am feeds when there's nothing else to do.

Also included in the box is an all natural nursing balm and all natural sleep balm. I can actually still remember how sore my poor nipples got while breast feeding so I'm glad I have a good balm ready to go and I love that it's all natural. I also can't wait to try the sleep balm as I had an awful time sleeping when bub was a newborn. I used to lay awake literally counting how long I could sleep before she would need another feed again {she would feed for an hr then take a while to go back to sleep then sleep about an hour and a bit then feed again}, but then by the time I got to sleep 20 minutes later she'd be ready to feed again. It was exhausting, so anything that can help me get a bit more sleep is very welcomed.

If you're after a special gift for a new mum in your life I'd definitely recommend the Heart in Box New Mama Heart Box. It arrives in a beautiful gift box which makes you feel extremely special before you even open it. The products are beautifully packaged and they're all useful items. You can also choose the flavours of the lactation cookies and the colour of the necklace when ordering to cater for individual tastes. Best of all, the gifts are all for mum {even though some come in handy with baby too} so she'll feel extra special when the focus is often on the baby.

Toni x 


Disclosure - I was gifted a New Mama Heart Box for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed in this post are based on my experience with the service and products. I did not receive payment for this review.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

How to teach young children what to do in an emergency

Emergencies can be scary, even for us adults, so imagine just how scary they are for little kids {especially if you, the adult, are incapacitated at the time}. Nobody ever wants to imagine their children alone and scared when something has gone wrong, but its a fact that some children will unfortunately find themselves in that situation. We as parents often do all we can to avoid accidents and do first aid courses so we know what to do if our children hurt themselves, but what if we are the ones that are hurt and they are the ones who need to help us?

This has been playing on my mind a lot lately, especially with T working shift work and me now being in my third trimester. It's often just bub and me and labour is going to inevitably happen at some point, not to mention there's always the possibility of accidents occurring at any time. If something should happen I don't want her to be freaking out by herself, I'd rather teach her what to do so she can get help asap {both to help me, and also so she isn't alone}.

Over the last week or so I've been gently broaching the subject of when to call an ambulance with bub {with an emphasis on not making it seem scary}. We've spent a lot of time at hospitals and the doctors since I've been pregnant so she understands that Drs help people and make people better, but she hasn't really been exposed to ambulances or the concept of calling 000 {she was taken to hospital in an ambulance when she was younger, but she doesn't remember it}. These are the ways I've been teaching bub what to do in an emergency.

IS THIS AN EMERGENCY? THE ADVENTURES OF TOBY THE TEDDY


I'm a big believer in using picture books to introduce complex concepts to young children. I didn't really know how to start a conversation about emergencies, but reading the new Toby the Teddy book was a great way to explain different emergency situations to bub and has also lead to lots of other conversations about what to do in an emergency.

Toby the Teddy is purposely written to facilitate discussions between kindergarden and primary school aged children and their parents and teachers about what situations constitute an emergency and when they need to call an ambulance. Written in collaboration by a primary school teacher and paramedic, the book follows Toby the teddy through a series of scenarios that children may face and explains whether these scenarios are emergencies or not and what Toby should do in each situation. The book starts out with something that every child has most likely experienced, dropping their ice-cream by accident, and then gradually goes through more urgent scenarios such as falling over, an asthma attack and an allergic reaction.

I really like that the book included the asthma situation as I have asthma myself and bub knows that I have special medicine for it, but hasn't seen me have a really bad attack yet. I also like that the book ends with Toby finding his mum unconscious and he has to call the ambulance, because this is the exact situation I'm worried about her being in. The book calmly walks trough the steps Toby needs to take if he had to call an ambulance, which has allowed us to have the same conversation with bub.

The book includes a Notes for Parents and Teachers reference section at the back which provides background behind the book and ways to further discussions on the topic of emergencies after reading the book. There's also a fridge magnet included to write your address on so your kids know the address to tell the 000 operator if they ever need to call {we hadn't taught her our full address yet so its good to show her its on our fridge so she knows where to look if she needs it}. There are also additional free resources available online at Toby the teddy including the Ambulance model shown above.

After reading the book a few times bub's been very interested in talking about ambulances and how ambulance people can help us if we're hurt so we've been incorporating this into other activities as well. Twinkl have a plethora of teaching resources {for both teachers and parents} available to teach children of all ages about people who help us. I browsed through the site and downloaded a few different activities that I knew would appeal to bub.

PEOPLE WHO HELP US CAN YOU FIND POSTER


We've downloaded numerous themed can you find posters from Twinkl so when I saw they had a people who help us can you find poster I knew bub would love it. I laminated it and she's been using her glass pebbles to find all the items on the page. As we play we have conversations about what all the people are doing and how they can help us in different situations.

PEOPLE WHO HELP US PENCIL CONTROL WORKSHEETS



I also found these pencil control worksheets that teach kids to get people to the correct helpers. There's a few sheets in the set including a sick person who needs a doctor, a fireman that's helping to put out a fire and a robber that gets caught by the police. The great thing is these sheets facilitate discussions about emergencies while she's also working on her pencil grip and pre-writing skills.

PEOPLE WHO HELP US COLOURING SHEETS



There's also numerous different people who help us colouring sheets available from Twinkl, ranging from simple sheets like these ones we downloaded to more complex colouring scenes. These are great to use during quiet time and get kids used to what people who help us look like so they can easily recognise them if needed during an emergency. There are many different sheets available in the sets including police, firemen, ambulance officers as well as doctors, lifeguards, vets, ses workers and numerous other people who have jobs that help others.

Twinkl are also currently creating new resources directly related to the Toby the Teddy book. To be notified of when these will be available click here.

Other non invasive ways to introduce emergencies and people who help us to young children include:

1. Small world play
2. Role play/imaginary play
3. Story stones or other books
4. Tv shows such as Fireman Sam
5. Triple Zero Kids Challenge app.

Since we've started introducing the concept of emergencies with bub she now knows to call zero, zero, zero in an emergency and to ask for an ambulance if we're hurt. She's started conversations with us about when she needs to call the ambulance which has lead to discussions about various different situations, both when she would need to call an ambulance and when she doesn't. We still need to work on certain things, like teaching her our address, but most of all I'm happy she doesn't seem scared of having to call an ambulance, which reassures me that she'd be ok in an emergency.

Do your kids know what to do in an emergency?

Toni x
Disclosure - I was gifted a copy of Toby the Teddy Is this an Emergency? Ambulance to help compile this post. I did not receive payment for this post. Some of the Twinkl resources shown in this post may be paid resources, but there are a huge range of free resources available, simply sign up for a free subscription.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Mummy Must Have Review | Pepper & Penny milestone cards

I normally hate being in photos, except when I'm pregnant. When I'm pregnant all the imperfections I normally focus on are far outweighed by the amazing transformation my body's going through. Of course my flaws are still there, but they no longer matter. I don't even care that I'm gaining weight, I'm just so in awe that my body is capable of growing another human being {especially after our fertility battles to conceive both times}.

Pregnancy is one of the only times I love being in photos. My newfound body confidence means I'm more than happy to document my changing shape, in fact I long to document this amazing journey as much as possible. Both times I've been pregnant I've been genuinely unsure of whether it would be my last pregnancy, so I've cherished every moment {even the shit ones}.

Last pregnancy I took lots of random belly shots {usually a reflection in a smeared mirror with a messy room in the background to be honest}, this time I'm documenting it even more and thankfully my photography skills have improved {and I have a reluctant Instagram husband who helps out every now and then}. I've also added in milestone cards to capture specific moments, because I know how easily I forget things afterwards {aka baby brain, which by the way seems to last for years}. Pregnancy milestone cards didn't seem to be a thing when I was pregnant last time, at least if they were I had no idea about them. Fast forward almost 4 years and they're now all the rage {and I can totally see why}. I'm loving tracking the progress of my belly every few weeks.


28 week pregnant belly with milestone card

The cards I chose are Pepper & Penny pregnancy milestone cards which I was initially drawn to because they're gender neutral and I started using them before we found out the sex of the baby. I didn't want anything overly pink or blue or too girly/masculine. The Pepper & Penny cards are printed on recycled enviro board and the weekly record cards include a number of gender neutral geometric patterns such as stripes, circles, triangles and arrows. There's also It's a boy or It's a girl cards to use for gender reveal photos. We didn't do a gender reveal party or cake etc, but I did do a flatlay with the card to include in my gender reveal post.
baby girl gender reveal flatlay

The pregnancy milestone cards also include 15 other cards to track special moments throughout pregnancy from the beginning through to the end. They include moments such as we're having a baby, today we heard a heartbeat and today we had an ultrasound, as well as funny moments such as I've gone a whole week without puking, officially can't see my toes {I'm almost there now!} and preggi brain. My favourite special moments so far have been today dad felt a kick and this is what I'm craving today... {fyi its always mango}. I also need to capture a few preggi brain shots because there's certainly been a few of those moments!

I first started feeling this little miss popping away at 12 weeks which progressed to proper forceful kicks by 16 weeks. Poor daddy had to wait until nearly 23 weeks before he felt them from the outside though {about the same time as he felt them with bub}. He still has days now where he says he can't feel kicks, but I have no idea how because these days she has mini parties in there and my whole belly looks like a wave pool at times.


Pepper & Penny logo

Pepper & Penny is an online business selling handmade invitations, greeting cards and milestone cards on 100% recycled brown craft enviro board. Owner Jacinda started Pepper & Penny after having her son so she could work part time around him. The business first started with greeting cards and then milestone cards were later added as an extra gift option. The milestone cards are nice and thick and come in a sturdy kraft box for easy storage when not in use. I'd definitely recommend them to anyone who's after a more traditional set of pregnancy milestone cards {with some slightly humorous ones thrown in},
neutral baby milestone cards

I've also got the Pepper & Penny baby milestone cards in branch. The milestone cards also come in 4 other designs - fox, geo, boho and arrow. Each set is available in weekly or monthly milestone cards and with a twin option for mums of multiples. I got the monthly set so I can capture how she changes over her first year. When bub was a baby I attempted to use belly stickers {they were the in thing then not cards} but they were a total pain as they would peel off her outfit or crinkle up as she moved, so I gave up after 2 months. Hopefully the milestone cards will be much easier to include in photos as baby won't be wearing them. I already have a photo board idea for her first birthday using all the milestone photos {hopefully that's motivation enough so I don't forget to take any of them}.

Follow me on Instagram to see the rest of my pregnancy photos using the milestone cards + a never ending stream of baby spam come April.

Did you record your pregnancy or baby's milestones with cards?

Toni x

Disclosure - I was provided the pregnancy milestone cards and baby milestone cards for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are based on my experience with products. I did not receive payment for this review.

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