Saturday, November 25, 2017

Gold Coast Holiday Playdate Giveaway

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

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




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




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

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



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



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



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


WIN 1 OF 3 FAMILY PASSES TO HOLIDAY PLAYDATE


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


a Rafflecopter giveaway


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

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

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

LeapPad Ultimate learning tablet for preschoolers

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

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

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



What is the LeapPad Ultimate?


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


The LeapPad Ultimate features:

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

Kid Tough Design


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

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

Kid Safe Internet Browsing


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


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

Kid Smart apps and games


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



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

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


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

Other features we love about the LeapPad Ultimate


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

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



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

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

Toni x

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

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

How we save money while raising a family on one income


Do you remember life pre-kids?

I vaguely remember how carefree we were when we had disposable income. Five years ago I could buy new clothes {brand name ones even} whenever I wanted, we ate out all the time and we went on holidays every 6 months {yes every 6 months without fail, and to pretty cool places too}. If we wanted something we went out and bought it, simple. Those were the days.

It's really amazing how everything suddenly changes when you have kids though. I knew there'd be physical changes like sleepless nights and all the things you need to do to keep a little person alive, but the financial changes took me by surprise. I thought I was pretty budget conscious and money savvy before, but once we became a single income family with a baby to support, my money saving skills had to step up a notch.

Years ago an old boss told me how after she had kids her new favourite hobby was looking for bargains on baby items and ways to save money. At the time I thought gosh how boring is her life. Now I get it. Now I'm that woman, and I tell you what I'm a ninja when it comes to tracking down which supermarket has nappies on special each week. I've also switched to home brand items, buy things on sale, use vouchers and buy in bulk to save money. Being able to stay home with my babies as long as possible is really important to me, so I do everything I can to continue to make that a viable option for our family.


How to save money while raising a family with one income


I'll let you in on a little secret, one of the best ways I've saved us money {apart from buying nappies on special each week} is by changing our electricity supplier. When I started maternity leave I soon realised our electricity bill would automatically increase because I'd be home all day using electricity when we hadn't been previously. I hadn't even factored in how much extra electricity I'd be using in order to care for my new bundle of joy.

By the time she was a few weeks old I was washing a billion dirty outfits daily {I swear I changed her 4 times a day thanks to reflux}, sterilising bottles multiple times and binge watching tv for hours while she slept on me {because she refused to sleep anywhere else}. On top of all that I was boiling the jug 15 times a day to make 5 cups of tea that I then reheated in the microwave twice before I finally got to drink them cold {yep, it takes lots of electricity to enjoy a cold cup of tea!}. Our electricity bill sky rocketed.

So, I stepped out of my comfort zone and researched companies, compared costs and actually switched energy providers for the first time in my life. It's one of those things we all know we should do to save money, but it was always in the too hard basket before, because I hate change. But it turns out I hate being broke more. I also had no idea how much money I could actually save by switching and I didn't realise you could also get discounts just for paying bills on time {how cool is that}. 

I actually take a lot of satisfaction in saving money these days. I feel like it's my way to contribute to the household now I no longer have an income {in addition to raising the small people, obviously}. Even though my clothes now come from Kmart, eating out means a trip to McDonalds and the only holiday I get is an hour of peace between my 4yr old going to sleep and me crawling into my own bed {on a good night}, we're surviving. In fact life is pretty good {and one day my babies won't need nappies anymore so I can start a long awaited holiday fund}.

How have you saved money since having kids?
Are you as obsessed with buying nappies on sale as I am? Please say yes.

Toni x

Disclosure - This is a sponsored post for Alinta Energy as per my disclosure policy.

Alinta Energy is an established national energy company, with a proud history dating back to 1941. They have 800,000 customers and over 400 employees across Australia. They both generate and retail electricity in Australia, which means they are able to offer extremely competitive pricing. They retail energy in Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and have recently launched in Queensland.
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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Feeling like a fraud


When you're a first time mum it's ok to not know what you're doing. Nobody expects you to pop out a baby and bam you magically have it all figured out. First time mums get help, encouragement, advice {even though a lot of it may be unwanted} and a never ending conga line of visitors who want to come and go absolutely gaga over the baby because oh my god she's so cute and squishy and people can't help but be attracted to them.

Second time around people aren't as excited. Don't get me wrong I got the obligatory gushing congratulations comments on my Facebook status announcing her arrival {and my 3am hormonal self thanks every one of those people because it gave me something to read while feeding a ravenous baby}, but then crickets. I can count on one hand the number of friends who came to visit the baby once I got home, and almost 7 months later they're still the only 3 friends who've come to visit her {although considering the state of my house most days that may not be a bad thing}.

Even the midwives in hospital expected me to get up and recover from my emergency c-section twice as fast {I got kicked out after 2 days instead of 4 because they needed the bed}. You've been through this before love suck it up and get on with it seemed to be the general consensus amongst the staff. Like major surgery is so much easier to recover from the second time around {newsflash it's not really}. Go home and if that massive gash across your belly starts to hurt take some Panadol, you'll be right {because a wound big enough to literally exit an entire human from your body is totally the same thing as a headache}. 

Probably the biggest difference I've noticed though is that society {strangers, family, friends etc} all expect me to know what I'm doing this time. I've done this parenting thing for 4yrs I should know what to do with a tiny little baby. Eat sleep poop repeat, easy right?  Apparently not.

The problem is I've had a baby before, but I haven't had this baby before {even though she looks almost exactly the same as her sister did}. On the surface I know what should work, but just when you think you know what you're doing the universe likes to throw you a curve ball to remind you that actually you know nothing. What worked before just isn't going to cut it this time. The fun part is this time I also get to navigate the muddy {pooey} waters of new motherhood with a demanding 4yr old by my side every day.

Truth is I spent the first few months wondering why I ever decided to have another baby, not because I regret having her, but because the shock of 2 kids was far beyond anything I'd ever imagined and I was frustrated at my inability to magically adjust to the new hell chaos that had become my everyday life. Almost 7 months on and I still feel like I'm constantly treading water trying to stay afloat, but really I'm so close to drowning under the pressure of 2 kids {a baby with multiple food allergies}, a shift working partner and a household to keep together. 

Things that would be 10 minute jobs before now take hours because I have to stop and start 15 times to console a crying baby, fetch crayons, paper, toys, food, drinks for her sister every 5 minutes and re-console, pick-up, cuddle or feed the crying baby in between each time. The kitchen is my arch nemesis at the moment, I can never ever get the whole thing clean. I pack and unpack the dishwasher, wash dishes, make food and re-clean all day long and yet by the end of the day it represents a battle zone all over again. Same thing with the laundry, the lounge room etc. Actually I pretty much feel like the whole house is my arch nemesis. It's just so never ending, no matter how much I get done there's always more to do.

On top of that I feel like I can never satisfy everyone's needs when they want. It's physically impossible. There's 2 of them and 1 of me and they always want or need something at exactly the same time {usually when I'm busting to pee as well}. I'm constantly being pulled in different directions {sometimes literally} and juggling their needs to decide which is more important at the time, and the trade off is either a screaming baby or a frustrated small person. It's just so physically and emotionally exhausting and I feel like I'm always letting someone down.

I forget what quiet is. I forget what personal space is. I forget what being organised is. I forget what me time is. I forget what sleep is. I basically just forget everything, but I feel like it's almost wrong to admit these things. Like I'm failing at being a mum if I can't handle 2 kids. They're pretty small after all, they should be pretty easy to handle, you'd think.

More often then not I have days where I feel like everything is falling apart and I'm getting nothing done. I'm starting to think this might just be what life with a 4yr old and an allergy baby looks like for us {for the foreseeable future at least}. I'm quietly hoping that other mums are sitting at home thinking they have no idea wtf they're doing most of the time too. For the most part my immediate plan is to continue winging it.

Toni x

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