my sunday photo

My Sunday Photo – Climbing Higher

This week I’ve looked through the photographs I’ve taken and it took a while to chose. It’s been half term here and it hasn’t exactly gone to plan. My youngest son (2) has been ill all week. So all the things I had planned for myself and the eldest (5) to do together as a treat while youngest was at nursery had to either be cancelled or replanned. Thanks to family and hubby we have managed to juggle childcare. Although I did have to take carers leave form work on Wednesday (which I felt so bad about since it was my only day in this week)
On Friday we booked to go to the local leisure centre and have a go at climbing. The leisure centre has recently been refurbished. It has new added feature such as the climbing walls, a BMX park and a soft play area. This is the first time we’ve been climbing here and the boys first time ever trying climbing. The session runs for an hour and you just pick and chose which walls to try, the instructor clips you on and away you go. When you’ve finished the wall you just let go and walk back down whilst the automatic harness does the trick of taking your weight. I absolutely loved it! Although my arms are aching really badly today, with muscle I never even knew I had!
As well as the walls there is a set of poles that reach 5m in height to climb up and jump off. I love that childrens fear gauges are on a different level to ours. The boy had no trouble in doing this several times! I go to 2m and couldn’t go any further (I am 1.85m tall so honestly that seems wimpish!) Looking back now though I want to go back and try again. I won’t let a set of poles beat me!
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Belles Tea Party Cart

This week we were kindly sent a new toy for the boys to test. For those of you who have read my posts before you’ll know I don’t believe in gender specific toys. Belles tea party cart could potentially fall into the toys for girls category but I think my boys have proved that to be wrong!

belles tea cart

This summer we were very lucky to spend time at Walt Disney World. In the run up to our holiday we watched lots of family Disney films. Since Flixster has been little he’s had the nickname chip (given to him by the nursery ladies who said he was cute!) They have never seen his menacing side he he! But he knows who chip is, and he knows the famous song from Beauty and the Beast – Be Our Guest. We were also lucky enough to eat in the beasts castle dining room whilst we were away. So the boys are very familiar with Belle, Mrs Potts and Chip.

Belle Tea Party Cart

The Toy – A Tour

The cart comes boxed and not built however it is really easy to put together, you don’t need any tools, it simply clicks into place. If this is to be a Christmas gift it might be worth setting up first then wrapping as there are some cable ties that need cutting in the package and I know how frustrating it can be on Christmas day to be doing these. In addition to the trolley, Belles Tea Party Cart comes with two teacups (one of which is Chip) Mrs Potts ( the teapot), two spoons and an invitation.

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The teapot and teacups fit onto the inner pink circle on the top of the cart. Flixster was obsessed about putting the teapot, cups and spoon on the bottom level of the trolley. I have no idea why, but as you’ll see in most of the photos I took during play those items are on the bottom!

belles tea cart

Once we’d put it together the boys were away with it. Especially Flixster (who’s 2) he absolutely loved it. Most of all he loved that when you press the button on the front of the cart the teapot and teacups spin round whilst the ‘Be Our Guest Song’ plays. As a result of him discovering this we have heard it many many times since! I think the song being played whilst the teapot spins was his favourite feature of Belles Tea Cart. The cart comes with batteries already installed. Be sure to flick the switch underneath to play the full song not just the demo.

belles tea cart

 

Playtime

The tea cart was just the right height for him to push around the room and serve everyone tea. The detail on Belles Tea Party Cart is most noteworthy. The stickers which come already attached to the cart (thank goodness as I can never ever get them straight) picture the characters from Beauty and the Beast.

belles tea cart belles tea party cart

Toy Test Verdict

We’ve had the cart a little over a week now and it’s been played with every day by Flixster. He absolutely loves it! I’d say this toy test was an absolute hit. I’ve enjoyed watching him use the cart and his imagination to serve tea many times over. He loved pretending to drink and serve everyone else.

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(See the teapot and cups underneath!)

 

He ever wanted to take chip to bed the other night, I’m not sure he’d make a good cuddle companion though!

Belles Tea Party Cart can be purchased from a variety of retailers in the UK and would make a fabulous gift for any Beauty and the Beast fan.

 

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This week I’ve chosen a photograph that means a lot to us. During the past year its been tough but we’ve always focused on what we do have and not what we don’t and been grateful. With a massive house move, one we hoped and dreamed of for so long hanging on a knife edge then eventually happening (thank you universe) followed by a longer than expected period of redundancy its fair to say we’ve been though some quite stressful events. Before we moved one of our aims was to have a place in our new home to have a special Saturday breakfast together. The rest of the week we spend rushing around not eating as a family at breakfast because of work and other commitments. Yesterday we shared pastries (I know they are not very slimming world friendly but it was a treat!) and drank lovely coffee and had a simple family breakfast. It was bliss and I’m very grateful for the memory.
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St Helens Pantomime – Wizard of Oz

Yesterday we were invited to the opening show of the St Helens Pantomime at Theatre Royal for half term. This year its ‘The Wizard of Oz’.

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The pantomime stars Cheryl Fergison (Eastenders) as the Wicked Witch of the West opposite Clair Simmo (Radio City 2) Glinda. The cast work very hard to bring the performance together cosequently the show is seamless as a result of everyones hard work.  This St Helens pantomime runs from October 22nd to October 30th and the tickets start from just £10, which is a great price for a few hours of family style entertainment.

I took my eldest and his lovely friend from next door they are 5 and 4 years old.

st helens pantomime

The St Helens pantomime has all the elements any classic panto should do, booing and cheering, a black light section, corny jokes, a hilarious song. Finally a song where characters get taken away and of course a water blaster!

St helens pantomime

The boys were in stitches with laughter as a result of some of the slapstick comedy. All the characters were portrayed really well and Dorothy played by Charlotte Gallagher was excellent. We had a great time!

In conclusion if you’re looking for some good wholesome family fun this half term then head on down to St Helens and watch Wizard of Oz!

St Helens Pantomime this Christmas

However if you’re already busy this half term be sure to check out the Christmas Pantomime. Judging by previous years its going to be awesome. This Christmas its Aladdin with an all star cast staring the one and only Amy Childs (TOWIE) as Slave of the Ring. Harry Derbridge (TOWIE) will play the hilarious PC Noddle. It’s sure set to be a family event not to miss! Tickets are available to buy online or from the box office at the Theatre Royal St Helens.

 

num noms

Homemade Burgers with the Num Noms

This weekend inspired by the new Num Noms series, we were sent the Brunch Bunch and the Diner set to inspire a little weekend cook up. Daddy didn’t need asking twice to get into the kitchen as he loves cooking and couldn’t wait to get started making home made burgers with the boy! It’s an easy thing to do yet tastes lovely and always a hit in our house. If you haven’t seen Num Noms before they are small food items made to play with that all come with their own smell. You can stack them up and create your own scents combining your favourites.

Ingredients

500g Quality minced beef

2 Garlic Cloves

Pinch of Salt and Pepper

Burger buns of your choosing (we like Brioche)

Salad for garnish – whatever you like, lettuce, tomato, pickles etc

Fried onions and mushrooms for topping

Sliced cheese to top the burger

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Method

Break up the mince in a large bowl and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Crush the garlic cloves and combine with the mince, making sure to stir it all round. With clean hands form the mince into rough burger shapes (we made 4) and then cook according to taste. Be sure to rewash hands after they are on the grill.

num noms

num noms

We always use an electric grill for cooking meats as it’s the healthy choice because the fat can run off. So while they were cooking the boy helped with the toppings.

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Frying up the onions and mushroom topping

Once cooked add a slice of cheese to top the burger and leave on the grill for a further minute to melt. Then add your burger to a bun, top with the salad you like and enjoy! Easy peasy!

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The verdict?

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Yummy yummy! Or maybe we should say Nummy Nommy!

 

 

Googly Eyes – Game Review

Thanks to University Games for sending us a sample of their latest release Googly Eyes to test out this week! Here’s what we thought it –

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Googly eyes

 

The game is called Googly Eyes by University Games. Its a team game for 4 to 16 players who form up to four separate teams. As we had 4 players (2 adults and 2 children) we made two teams with a grown up on each.

The aim of the Googly Eyes game is to be the first team to get to the finish on the board, but the fun you have on the way is hilarious!

Googly eyes

Each turn involves one person on the team having to draw something and the team members guessing what it is correctly before the time is up. However its not a simple as drawing, you have to wear funny glasses with differing levels of hilarious distorting lenses according to difficulty. The harder the lenses is to see through the more time you have to draw the picture and the team to guess.

There are three different lenses to pop in the Googly eyes frames , easy, medium and hard.

google eyes

Game Summary

Things we loved about the game:

It was funny to play, and we did laugh…a lot!

I can see it being a hit in the Christmas season if you get a group of adults together who are enjoying the Christmas spirit (and a little mulled wine!)

It brought the teams together

There are lots and lots of different cards for variety so it’s unlikely in the course of a game or two you’ll ever get the same thing to draw again

It’s an easy game to understand you don’t have to keep referring back to the rules

The game says ages 7 and above but the 5 year olds had no trouble (if they like drawing that is) even if they can’t read the game card words (which ours could) then an adult could help them with that part

google eyes

In trying to write a balanced review the only thing I could think might be a slight negative is you have to keep changing the lenses in the glasses which can sometimes be tricky if they don’t click in first time then can fall out when you draw, once you’ve got the knack of it though its not so bad. Also sometimes the timer is incredibly short (15 seconds) so when we were playing with the young ones we allowed a little more time for them!

On Friday during the day hubby and I decided the weather was lovely so why not make it the day to make our annual trip to Blackpool lights. We live about an hour away. Each year since th boy was born we’ve been to see them. We usually only go the the Bispham end of Blackpool where they have some tableau style displays that you can walk along. We always get fish and chips to eat before the walk and the boys love it. Pretty much year on year they are the same with a few little differences but still we love it. Its a family tradition!img_0411

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A letter to the stranger at Walt Disney World

Dear stranger,

Thank you.

thank you stranger

Thank you for such a kind gesture. I wish I knew who you were so I could return your money. I know you wouldn’t give me your number or email so I could send it back to you but I just want to say thank you again.

We were at Walt Disney World. It was 22nd August this year and we’d just found some seats (well the end of a bench) to watch Fantasmic on (its a night time show with fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios) it was super busy, the theatre seats up to 6900 guests and they’d just announced that it was now standing room only. It was a hot sticky night and the boys were getting cranky yet there was still half an hour until the show started. I decided to take the boy to get some snacks to keep us occupied and hopefully less cranky whilst daddy stayed with youngest on our bench. We walked all the way up to one of only a couple of snack carts, I didn’t take my money as I was just going to charge it to the room on the magic band as I had done so many times before. The queue was quite long so whilst we waited I gave the boy his choices. He really wanted an ice cream, I’d already said no several times but he looked into my eyes and really pleaded. We were on holiday after all, of course I couldn’t say no.

By the time we got to the front we knew the show was nearly starting. The boy was getting worried ( he does worry quite a lot about lots of different things) but he was worried we’d miss it. So I quickly ordered and scanned the magic band. It didn’t work. I tried again, again it didn’t work. I could see the boy getting upset. I had no other way to pay. I told him he had to give his ice cream back, he was already holding it, it wasn’t unwrapped but it was in his hand. His face turned down.

It was just then you stepped in and offered to pay. Our total was around $12 which isn’t cheap. It was only 3 items but this was disney and I know how much things are there. I said it was ok, I could come back later but you insisted. I didn’t know what to do. I said thank you and asked if you’d give me your number so I could send you the money, but you wouldn’t allow it.

I think you were from Scotland but couldn’t be sure. I’m pretty sure you were form the UK somewhere though. I didn’t even get your name. I was just shocked and grateful that you’d paid out of the kindness of your heart for someone else items. So please your reading this and it was you I want to say thank you again. I explained to the boy how kind you’d been, I hope this has given him an example. We also talked about passing the good deed on. As soon as I have the opportunity to I will pay for someone else items.

Since we’ve got back I have posted on a few of the disney forums in the hope of finding you to properly thank you but nothing so far.

I know that going to Walt Disney World is a luxury and we are grateful that we could go, your kind gesture was one of our highlights that we won’t forget.

I just want to say that not only am I grateful but you set a wonderful example to my children. There are so many good people in the world and you are one of them.

I hope that one day you get to read this.

From a very grateful family.

 

This Sunday I’m off to my second Blogon conference at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. I went to my first one earlier this year. It was a fantastic event, unfortunately I wasn’t feeling great on the day so don’t think I really made the most of it. This time I will try to be more social and will be feeling great on the day. Blog On take 2!

Heres my answers to the Blog On Ice breaker Linky:

1. Share a recent photo of you (or a doodle!)

walt disney world

This is me! I’m pretty tall (6ft1) some might say as tall as Buzz Lightyear!

2. Describe yourself in five words or less

Adventurous, ambitious, happy, grateful
3. How long have you been blogging, and why did you start?

Two years, and I was inspired to start by my good friend Jenny from Lets Talk Mommy
4. What are you hoping to get out of Blog On?

More skills to enhance my blog and my posts – meet new friends
5. Name a few of your favourite blogs.

So difficult to say as I like so many different kinds, I really like Attic 24 as I’ve followed it for a long time.
6. What’s your favourite social media platform(s)… and what’s your username?

I really like instagram and pinterest as I’m a very visual person and love seeing pictures and getting new ideas

Instagram – Lyrical_mum

Pinterest -Lyricalcraft (A Little Lyrical)
7. Share a fact about you no-one would guess.
8. What’s your favourite bit of tech?

I am very lucky to have the new iPhone 7 and I actually love it, I’ve never been so impressed with a new phone before but Apple have got it very right for me this time!
9. If you won the lottery, how would you spend your winnings?

I’d pay off my mortgage first and foremost for my children’s future, then I’d think about how to help others. There would be treats for us along the way but I really would like to thank a fair few people who have helped me and our family throughout the years.
10. If you could host a talk show, who would be your first guest?

I think I’d choose Michelle Obama, I’d love to hear more about her life in the Whitehouse and what it’s really like to be the first lady.
11. Share a funny (or favourite) memory from your life.

I do have lots of funny things happen to me but they are often hard to describe in words (you sort of have to be there moments) so my favourite memory from life so far has got to be the day I got married to my best friend – yes soppy I know!!
12. What is your favourite book (or film if you’re not a big reader) and why?

I really like factual books about things I love, so I’m currently enjoying a book about Walt Disney World and how it came to be from a concept.
13. What picture is on your phone/tablet lock screen?

My two boys, because when I’m at work it reminds me why I’m there, for them.
14. If you had an hour of time all to yourself, how would you spend it?

Swimming in a pool with a swim up cocktail bar, where I could sit and chat with new people. I love hearing people’s stories.
15. What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given

Don’t make any decisions in the nighttime, things ALWAYS seem better in the morning! (This has helped me through so much, I’ll always remember who told me this!)

 

Looking forward to a read through everyone else’s answers, I hope I can put names to faces on Sunday!

Walt Disney World – just the sheer mention of this magical place makes my heart happy. My first trip to Walt Disney World was in 2004 (only 12 years ago) but since then I’ve become addicted!

Walt disney world 2004

Me back in 2004 on my first trip with my brother

As a child my mum and dad didn’t have the money to take us to Disney so it’s something I’d always dreamed of doing, and something that always reminds me how lucky I am to be able to go and take my own children. In 2005 the opportunity came up to go with a large group of people as part of a singing group. So I jumped at the chance, the person I was supposed to be going with unfortunately dropped out so my brother stepped in. On that trip we stayed at a Walt Disney World resort called Caribbean Beach, it was from there my love of Disney started. We only had 5 day tickets on that trip so we didn’t get to see much and we were complete novices, I didn’t know that it was best to plan your day. I thought you could just rock up and wing it! All first timers have been there!

Walt Disney World – What’s there?

For anyone who’s not been Walt Disney World consists of 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, a shopping and dining area called Disney Springs and 25 resort hotels on site. The land at Walt Disney World covers an area the size of Greater Manchester in the UK so it’s pretty vast!

If you haven’t been before it’s hard to explain why it’s so fantastic without actually experiencing it but I’m going to try! I’m sure there are lots of blog posts around that try to explain the magic of Disney and I realise this is yet another one but I feel like I need to put it in my own words too.

From the moment you get on the magical express (the free Disney coach service provided by Disney from Orlando international airport) you feel welcome and can truly relax.

The employees of Walt Disney World (or cast members as they are known) really are second to none. Disney expects a high standard for their employees and it really shows. I always feel welcome at Disney, the cast members are always friendly and helpful with a smile on their faces. The rooms, parks, resorts and even toilets are always spotless and this is something that is important to me. I only just realised how spotless the toilets are on this recent trip as we visited other attractions and shopping areas in the Orlando area and it really highlighted how much care Disney takes in attention to detail with cleanliness.

From the moment you enter any of the parks you are transported into a magical world of happiness and fun. Don’t get me wrong we do have our fallings out and grumpy moments as a family but on the whole it’s hard to be sad in a Disney park.

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If you go with children you start seeing the magic through their eyes, we have been 3 times with children and it’s magical, it truly is. They believe the characters are real, they giggle and laugh on the rides, they have wide eyes at the shows and parades and marvel at the fireworks (while mummy cries with joy!)

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If you go without children like we did many times it’s still magical, it’s as if you are instantly transported back to your own childhood. The worries of everyday life are gone. There’s no thinking about work, or bills or the usual home stresses, just magic, and it happens all around.

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Honeymoon trip 2008 – Pre-children magic

The place itself is magical but the cast members really make it wonderful and create the memories. This past trip we met some many lovely cast members who made our trip magical, they spoke with the children, they gave them stickers, they had a smile and a wave and a well wish. It truly was wonderful and I miss it already.

I realise how lucky we are to be able to go. Yes Walt Disney World is expensive but you truly get what you pay for, an escape from reality for the time you are there, immersed in the magic. I would rather just go to Walt Disney World every 3 or 4 or 5 years and save up to pay for it than take a holiday every year to somewhere else.

I’m hoping to get time to write about more of our adventures in Walt Disney World so that the boys can read them back and remember the memories we created.

So next time someone says to me “You’re going there AGAIN?” I will just smile and say “Of course it’s the most magical place in the world” and it truly is.

Walt Disney World