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Stampy.

If I say that name and you know who I’m talking about, then I feel as sorry for you as I do for me.

I have two Minecraft playing people in my house. Two of them. Playing a game I have never, ever, been able to get my head round. Two of them asking me to look at houses they’ve built and sheep they’ve created in various colours. (FYI, I personally think pink sheep are the best, and if there were real life pink sheep in fields, I would probably spend more time looking at them)

Thankfully, one of my little darlings is only interested in playing the game. She has no interest in listening to the crazy bloke on YouTube who seems to have endless videos of himself playing the game. Talking to himself, laughing at himself with *the* most annoying laugh I have ever, EVER heard. I’m not even joking. I hear that mans voice in my sleep. I find myself chopping vegetables extra hard when I can hear good old Stampy in the living room.

I know it’s good that he doesn’t swear, he keeps the kids entertained, he seems to make perfect sense if you’re under the age of 15 and there are a million worse things they could be watching on YouTube but I can’t bring myself to listen to him for a second longer. Like, stab my ears with toothpicks in order to stop hearing what I’m hearing.

Or, alternatively (and probably less painful) I could stick a set of headphones on the smallest person in the house and regain the joy of music. You know, being able to hear the tv as well as see it is always a nice added bonus. Because let’s face it, subtitles are never in sync and I’m a really fast reader.

The next battle would be rationing the amount of time TB spends on the iPad watching and playing Minecraft. He has pretty busy days at school, he’s a clever kid so he does try his hardest to learn as much as possible, he does swimming twice a week, football twice a week, PE, trampolining and playing with mates so I kind of think a bit of down time each day is a good thing, but once he gets into the ‘zone’ it’s a brave person who steps in and takes it off him! I’ve started doing a countdown, you know, 10 mins, 5 mins, 2 mins left and then you’re off type thing. Because left to his own devices he would be on the damn thing all day long. He’s already asked for an Xbox so he can get the headpiece things and talk to his friends while they’re playing. Firstly, how the hell does he know that’s possible and secondly, what is he going to be like when he’s a teenager?!

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Yeah, I have no idea what this picture means either. But apparently, it’s a rule.

Sponsored Post but oh so flipping true.

 

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Dr Panda’s Toy Cars App

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I have a little boy racer on my hands. When we’re in the car he’s a bit of a back seat driver, telling me if people are going to slow (in his opinion) if I’m going too slow and if I should “take over” them! He loves playing Mario Kart on the wii and he’s already begging me for an XBox One for Christmas. He’s going to be a mini gamer, I can tell.

While he loves all those games, he’s still iPad obsessed, and when Dr Panda (not him personally) got in touch to ask if I had anyone who would be interested in having a play with their new game, I knew just the person.

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Created by leading mobile games developer, TribePlay, Dr Panda’s Toy Cars is a new interactive game that lets kids role-play and use their imaginations.

Kids can drive various types of vehicles while they cruise around two different cities, explore the roads, and get to discover all sorts of hidden surprises! Dr. Panda’s Toy Cars gives children freedom to make up their own stories as they play. Kids can control multiple vehicles at the same time such as a fire truck, police car or even boat! My son is a huge fan of driving the police cars, he’s already told us he’s going to be a policeman on a motorbike next year when he’s an adult…..

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One of *my* favourite parts of this game? No in app purchases. None. So there is no risk of them spending a bloody fortune trying to pimp their cars or towns. Thank god. The Boy loves it, it’s a nice, simple game, no one gets hurt, there is no crazy building with strange looking bricks and it actually keeps him entertained for a while, so it’s been perfect when I’ve been sat in a doctors waiting room for 45 mins, or when we’ve finished swimming and we’re waiting for his sister to come out of trampolining.

Dr. Panda’s Toy Cars is £1.49 and available worldwide: iOS, Google Play, Amazon App Store

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#GetKidsGardening with Plant Me Now

Can you believe we’ve been in our ‘new’ place for almost a year now? It’s gone so fast! We’re fully unpacked (thank god!) and we’re pretty much set in terms of what goes where and so on, so it’s now time to focus on the garden. Because we were in a flat for so many years, and before then the Bloke and I weren’t really green fingered, we’re not that great at gardening, but there is nothing nicer than a stylish, looked after garden, especially when you have kids.

Both of mine are obsessed with gardening, the boy always wants to dig and walk round with a wheelbarrow, while GG likes to take care of the herb section. I’m sure she would make a brilliant chef! So when I was contacted by Plant Me Now and asked if we’d like to create a space for the kids with flowers, I didn’t have to think twice!

I let the kids scroll through the website and pick some flowers that they liked, there was SO much choice it was difficult to narrow it down, but eventually we went for flowers like  Osteospermum Voltage White, Argyranthemum Madeira Crested Pink and Dahlietta Emily. I did try and keep my selection to my usual colour scheme, the colour I go for in every single room, white, but the kids weren’t having any of it when it was their turn, so we have blues, oranges and pinks as well. Pests!

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Our garden, when we moved in was in a big mess. The grass was basically dead, the edging was full of dead plants and it just generally needed a proper clean up and some TLC. We relaid the grass in Sep/Oct time (probably should have waited until spring in hindsight but it’s growing nicely now!) we still need to knock down the shed that is clinging on for dear life, but with a little bit of muscle and inspiration we’ve managed to make it look pretty decent between us! We’ve put up a grey fence to give the kids their space, and the adults theirs, we’ve put gravel down the sides instead of the tired looking slate that was there and we’ve got a trampolining coming for the summer hols, so all that was left was the plant side of things. I am obviously no expert on plants and flowers (except the cut ones you can buy to decorate your home with!) so it was great that I could just look through the summer bedding collection and know that they would all be perfect for this time of year. There’s a winter selection too, which I think is great, gardens can look so depressing when it starts to get cold and grey.

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Anyone who knows me, and talks gardens with me, will know that I don’t ‘do’ plants in the ground. I am a pot woman. (You know what I mean) so for the massive amount of flowers that turned up from Plant Me Now, I needed to hit the pot shop! In an ideal world I wanted the pots to be white or light grey. Do you think I could find any that didn’t cost over £40 per pot? Considering the number I needed, I didn’t think that was such a good idea! So, with the help of donations from my parents (who by the way are super impressed with our gardening skills!) and a quick visit to the local garden centre, we managed to get over 10 different types of pots for all the flowers.

Again, with the whole colour OCD I have, I wasn’t about the mix the flowers up, they all had their own pots and they were colour co-ordinated! The boy couldn’t wait to get his hands dirty and start digging!

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He is such a good helper, as long as he can get dirty he’s happy! And for the record, I also got my hands dirty! I’m taking the photos here but trust me, I had mud and earth under my nails and in my hair! No, no idea how I managed to get it in my hair…..

We planted everything in their containers, fed them with some foul smelling bones and blood feeder type thing that my Dad assured us they liked, and then it was a case of putting them in their new places, which, considering how empty the garden was, wasn’t difficult. Our garden is thin and short, so there wasn’t one area we could place all the flowers together, as a big collective burst of colour, and we don’t get a lot of sun at the top end where I would have like the flowers to go. I imagined sitting at my table in the afternoon, working on my laptop with lots of gorgeous scents and colours around me, but, we have a garden facing the wrong way, with a 3 storey house blocking the little sun there would be, so, all the flowers need to go in a row along one edge of the garden, which, now they’re there, they look good!

We should have got round to planting a lot sooner than we did, I’ve never known my two to be so desperate to water flowers before! There are actual fights over who gets to use the hose and they’ve both asked for watering cans as a treat! Certain colour watering cans of course (they’re obviously my kids!) but still, it’s great that they both want to be in the garden getting dirty rather than sat on the sofa staring at an iPad screen. I’ve given them both the job of making sure the flowers are watered and kept happy. In fact, when Lenny decided he wanted to dig up one of our new orange flowers (the ones the boy picked) he was out there faster than you could say flower police re planting it and telling Lenny to get to his bed. Actually, does anyone have any tips to stop a dog digging…..?!

Now it’s just a case of sitting back and watching our garden bloom. We’re meant to be having a great summer this year, I’m not holding my breath, but it would be lovely to finally be able to sit out there in the sun, looking at all our hard work.

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Spending vs Saving

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This little email popped up today, as I was queuing up to pay for my shopping. The 3rd time this week that I’ve been to tesco for various things, adding up to what I would have spent on the whole weeks shopping. Which is annoying. (I actually blame the bloke because he did the food shop and it was all over the place!)

The kids came with me on Monday and as soon as they heard we were going shopping, they wanted to know if they could spend their pocket money and if yes, on what. In the end, GG bought a book and TB bought a magazine with a plastic grabber which he was flinging around all over the place. I suggested they try saving it towards something they might *really* want but it fell on deaf ears. GG had been after a pair of Vans for god knows how long, but knowing my daughter as well as I do, I knew she would never save the money herself, if I offered to buy them she would rush into her choice, picking the first pair she saw in case I changed my mind, and two weeks later she would announce she wished she had picked a different colour. So, instead, I kept hold of her pocket money each week (£5 a week) until she had saved enough for them. It took her a good 3 months but in that time she managed to decide and stick to what colour she wanted and she was REALLY pleased when she got them.

TB isn’t quite as bad as her, if I suggest he saves up for a while to buy something, he can usually cope with it, unless of course I suggest it in the middle of the toy aisle. Then he does this darling little freak out, adorable…… *cough*

They both have savings accounts, where all our loose change throughout the year ends up. Nanny & Dada give them money each Christmas as well and it all goes in there, earning interest, ready for when they’re older. Santander take pride in their kids accounts, future-proofing for children’s tomorrows.

GG, being GG, has decided she will be putting hers towards a car when she turns 18. She seems to have missed me doing a “we’ll see about that” face. Will she have a licence at 18? Will she be at uni? Will she want to travel before she studies? Who knows. A car though, isn’t the top of the list for me. Yes, it’s her money but she won’t be getting free reign on spending it! TB hasn’t really grasped the idea, he’s told me he’s buying a swimming pool, house and 17 motorbikes. But you know, the thought is there! If I had my way, they would keep saving it until something really important or special came up. I haven’t really travelled as much as I would have liked to, when I had the time I wasn’t interested, now I don’t have the time, I am (always the way with me!) so I’d love it if they got to see the world before they decided what they wanted to do with the rest of their lives. But then that would mean I’d be worrying about them on the other side of the planet which doesn’t sound so appealing! I don’t want it to go on bills or living costs. I want it to be something memorable.

All this is useless though unless I can get them to start saving themselves. I can keep hold of their pocket money for them, but it would be great if they, GG particularly, were able to do it themselves. Decide what they want to spend their money on and save up for it. No more spending £1 here, £5 there, save it for 3 months and spend £60 and get something amazing! How do you get your kids to save their pocket money? Or is it just a kiddie thing? I know that I like to shop so maybe it’s just in their genes!

This is a sponsored post, please see my disclosure policy for details.

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Quiet in the back!

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OK, I admit, I like to do anything I possibly can to keep the kids quiet while they’re in the car. If we’re on a long journey, I want to be able to put the music on loud and enjoy the drive, and if they’re happy in the back then it makes it all a lot less painful.

We’ve done a few long journeys, France and Ireland spring to mind, but we’ve also been to Cornwall, Devon and Wales, and thankfully, it wasn’t too painful. We don’t do things like mini board games or anything like that; they’re good at travelling but not so good at travelling and getting on with each other at the same time! iPads, movies and music are always winners. Top tip though, two sets of headphones, two different movies because I can guarantee that they will NOT want to watch the same film!

I-Spy is always a hit. It’s helpful now The Boy can actually spell, because I tell you, trying to guess a word beginning with T when it’s actually R makes for a really long version of I-Spy…..

Colouring seems to be a good one, but I have no idea how they can do it, I struggle to read and reply to a few text messages when I’m in the car (as a passenger, obviously!) before I start feeling sick, so the thought of colouring, reading or writing is a big no no! They seem to love it though, and you know, anything to keep the little darlings quiet happy. And food. Food is always a good idea. A bit like feeding time at the zoo, if they’ve got something to munch on they’re happy.

Having enough space in the car always helps, I remember one year (pre kids) we all drove down to Cornwall on a bank holiday weekend, hoping to find a B&B when we got down there. Big mistake! We ended up sleeping in our cars one night. Thank god we got a larger car hire for travelling across the UK otherwise we would have been cramped up in the back of a 2 door! As long as kids feel like they have their own space, and there’s enough legroom for adults too, then you don’t feel like you’re on top of each other and need to escape, which is always helpful when you’re on a long journey!

I think we’re quite lucky really, we both enjoy driving, the kids enjoy being in the car, so road trips don’t feel like a chore, at least not to start with! I’m sure if we had a convertible or a massive monster truck they’d feel a lot more fun, but you can’t have it all can you!

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Fish, fish and more fish.

The one request from The Boy for his birthday this year was a fish tank with loads of fish. Which was a bit iffy because, as people who know me, know, I hate fish. They’re really creepy looking, I’d go as far as saying evil. I’m sure if they had the power they’d jump out of the tanks and attack people.

Anyway.

We were in the process of looking for a tank that we all liked when I was contacted by Swell asking if I’d be interested in picking something from their collection. Sometimes this blog gives me fab opportunities and has the best timing! After some serious debating between me and the hubs, we settled on the Fluval Edge Aquarium in white. The plan was to put the tank in The Boys room, so he could watch the fish when he falls asleep, and so I didn’t have to look at them in the living room, so the 23l size was perfect.

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It has a unique 360 degree view, and is the world’s first 3D cube aquarium. I always preferred round, old school tanks but this one has changed my mind! As well as being able to see the fish from all angles, there are some fab lighting effects. The blue, moonlight light is perfect for night time and The Boy thinks it helps the fish know when it’s bedtime. Works for me.

There is lot’s of technical stuff that comes with the tank, it includes the Hagen Aquaclear, a powerful three stage filtration system that includes mechanical, chemical and biological filtration, all of which is hidden by the discrete design. Unfortunately that means nothing to me but the hubs knew what it meant, and apparently, it’s very good.

It’s actually really hard to get good pictures of a fish tank, with 10 speedy little fish flying around inside, and believe me I tried! We have various Danios and guppies in there, you would not believe the names that have been picked! There is: Hulk, One Eye, Bart, Tony (Stark) Mada and Gasca, Silver Surfer, Hal (Jordan) and Plecy. Sadly, two of the fish haven’t stuck around for very long, the original Plec  croaked it within a few days of the other fish joining him, and we found another fish this morning, but The Boy is loving his new tank and pets. If he hadn’t recently broke his elbow, he would be up there in his room playing, as somehow they’re stopping him being nervous about being on a different floor to me now.

Top tip, tell your eager beaver child that he’s not allowed to get up if his fish are swimming fast, it means it’s too early. Works, even if it’s for a day or two. My one cottoned onto my stupid fib and found it hilarious that he fell for it but it stopped the “Mummy, Silver Surfer is swimming really fast….” each morning!

Massive thank you to Swell for sending us the fab tank and for all the fishy advice!

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