Saturday, 20 December 2014

Teksta T-Rex (Review)

I was recently offered a Teksta T-Rex to review and I jumped at the chance as one of my son's is dinosaur mad.

When he arrived I was very pleased to find that he was easy to remove from the box, and that there wasn't too much packaging.  Just a few ties to loosen and he was straight out.  I was excited to get started and see what he could do, so after a quick search for some batteries (he needs 4 x AA batteries which are not included), we soon had him working.

On / Off switch
Insert 2 x AA batteries into each foot

When we switched him on his eyes lit up and he made some roaring noises.  There are two modes - Conversation or Sing and Dance, and you use the buttons on the top of his head to switch between the two.

In conversation mode you can talk to him and he will respond, and in Sing and Dance mode he will dance along to the music that is played.  You just clap your hands to get him started and put your hand in front of his face to make him stop.  It's really clever.

He also comes with a bone that he will try to break when it's inserted into his mouth (he then jumps and burps which is very funny).
Easy to understand instructions
His bone

The sensors behind his dark glasses can sense your hands so when you put your hand in front of his eyes he will activate as the following video shows.

There is also a free app available to download for the T-Rex but I think you can only get this on a tablet - I was unable to find it on my phone.  Using this you can teach him new tricks, set an alarm, and even get him to roar along to a tune that you've created.

App Home Screen

The more we play with T-Rex the more we are learning.  I think this is an excellent toy that for children aged 4 - 8 years.  My children love him already and he fits right in.

"Teksta T-Rex the bone crushing dino. Just like his Teksta friends, T-Rex responds to your voice, lights and sounds with expressive eye patterns to share his feelings. Using cutting edge hand gesture technology command Teksta T-Rex to Walk, Move his hands, Tail and Stop. Stroke his face to hear him Roar and see him Snap just like a real T-Rex Dinosaur. When he’s hungry feed him with his dino bone to see his ultimate trick, watch him crunch, munch and launch it away, followed by an almighty burp. With over 100 physical and app-sized interactive play features. Includes bone accessory. For ages 5 and over. Requires 4 x AA batteries (not included)."

Friday, 11 July 2014

Learning to ride a bike

I know that's it's been a while since I last blogged but I just haven't had any urge to.  I take all the photos but can't seem to get any words out.  But then the lovely Fiona from Coombe Mill mentioned me in a Country Kids tweet this morning and I decided to actually write something.

Last year I tried to teach my middle boy to ride a bike.  He did manage some short distances on grass but really wasn't very keen, and then the weather turned and that was the end of that.  He didn't show any enthusiasm for learning to ride his bike, preferring to go out on his scooter, and we never pushed him.  Then yesterday, as he had the day off school due to the strikes, I decided that it was finally time for him to learn.

After a back-breaking hour, lots of tantrums and tears, he did it.  It's one of those moments when I realise that all the effort I put into teaching my children is really worth it.  In just one afternoon he has mastered the skill of keeping his balance, learning to steer, pushing off on his own, and stopping without falling off!  In his own words, the next step is taking part in races!  I am a very proud mummy.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Friday, 23 May 2014

The importance of a child’s routine

As your toddler begins to grow into their own person, they soon begin to become more self reliant and will want to exercise their own free will. Often this can conflict with a parent’s needs and can cause problems in the home, so encouraging a child to maintain frequent habits through routine can help to establish discipline and prepare them later in life.

Why does my child need a routine?

The transition from young baby to toddler is a troubling time with lots of big changes, from weaning off breast feeding to sleeping alone and learning to walk and talk. With so many developments, many beyond your child’s control, change can be frightening, and so introducing a routine with the same everyday tasks occurring at the same time will help your child to adjust.

Encouraging your child into a routine can also help them become more self reliant, from brushing their own teeth to doing their own homework without needing to be nudged. An organised household is likely to produce an organised child, who can take better control of their day to day activities under the influence of routine tasks.

What activities should I schedule?

From birth through to school age, a night time routine is an essential part of a child’s development. Encourage your child to go to bed every night at the same time, whether it’s a baby who goes down after a feed and a bath, or a child who goes to sleep following a tooth brushing and story time routine. For older children, encourage them to go to bed by providing a comfortable sleeping environment, from comfort blankets to child friendly mattresses.

Meal times are also very important for both younger babies and toddlers. Arrange your baby’s meal times around their sleep cycle, for example, feed them during the night if they cannot go back to sleep by comforting alone, and feed them whenever they wake from a nap. Older children will benefit from a regular evening meal time, especially after becoming used to regular breakfast and school lunchtimes. If your child’s dinner time is too early for you, prepare a smaller, lighter meal for your child and cook for yourself once they have gone to bed.

For older children, make sure in particular that their evening is well scheduled – providing a routine ‘play time’ will give your child a good incentive to do their homework after school, while bath times before bed will calm and relax your child and encourage them to sleep.

Whether you've a baby or a school age child, a regular routine will encourage him or her to develop good personal habits and further their independence later in life.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

I'm a #MorrisonsMum for the Bank Holiday

I don't usually shop at Morrisons as my nearest store is further away than all of the other big supermarkets names so I was delighted to be given the chance to find out what it's like to shop there as part of their #MorrisonsMum campaign with Britmums.

I love doing the weekly shop as I leave the children with hubby and get to go off all on my own.  No nagging, shouting or random goods ending up in the trolley (and that's just the other half!).  I had visited this Morrisons in the past so had some idea of my way around.  I went late Saturday afternoon and it was fairly quiet.

When I walked into the store I noticed lots of yellow signs everywhere.

Morrisons have cut their prices on over a thousand products, so if something is marked as 'I'm cheaper' then the price is staying down.  This type of campaign appeals to me far more than the short term offers as I haven't got to worry about stocking up when the offers are on, but instead can be safe in the knowledge that the prices are going to stay low.

I usually complete a meal plan every week and shop to a budget, but I have to admit to getting a bit excited at a new shop with vouchers to spend ahead of a bank holiday, so I did pick up a lot of the offers that I saw when walking around the store.

I loved all of the fruit and vegetables on Market Street and got lots of great offers there.  There were lots of items for 69p each, or 3 for £1.50 and I got a bag of baking potatoes, a tray of tomatoes and a big bag of carrots at this price.  Fantastic price.

The fish counter looked beautiful and so fresh, and though I didn't buy anything from there on this occasion I definitely would in future.

I got my whole chicken and the rest of the items to cook a bank holiday roast for the family.  I did have to ask a member of staff where to find the goose fat (a must have for my roasties), and was really happy with the service I received.  I found a member of staff quickly, she was polite and chatty and took me to find exactly what I needed, before asking if I needed help with anything else.  

The product pricing was very clear in most cases, with lots of products having the price clearly indicated on the packaging, though there were just a couple of items that I picked up where I couldn't see a price on the packet or the shelf, and that put me off buying.  I like to have some idea of what I'm spending as I shop so won't usually purchase an item if I can't see a price.  

I was pleased with the layout of the store, and other than the goose fat, was able to find everything I needed easily.  I went to the checkouts and only two of the larger checkouts were open so there were some queues building up.  I was disappointed that no other checkouts were opened, as though the store was quiet, everyone must have headed for the checkout at the same time and people were starting to queue into the aisles.  I waited to about five minutes before being served myself.  

I was served quickly and efficiently, and was offered help with packing.  Again, the service was great.  The customer behind me was using a mobility scooter and when she asked to help with unloading her items, and packing, a member of staff came quickly, which was great to see.  The standard of the service alone would make me want to return to Morrisons in future and I think that Morrisons in Neath should be proud of their staff members.

I did spend a bit more than I normally would on a weekly shop, though part of this were that some offers were so good that I thought I'd stock up, so it's unlikely that I'll have to do a big shop for two weeks.  I normally shop around to get the best offers from different stores, but found Morrisons to be of a good price overall, and it was nice to do all of my shopping in one store for a change.

Our Bank Holiday Roast

1 large whole chicken
2.5kg white potatoes
1 heaped spoonful Goose fat (for the roast potatoes)
1 tbsp Cornflour (for the gravy)

I roasted the chicken according to the clear directions on the packet and it was so tender that it fell apart when I was trying to carve it.  Delicious.  I parboiled some potatoes before roasting in the goose fat.  The remainder of the potatoes were boiled and then mashed, and the carrots and broccoli were steamed.  To make the gray I added a tablespoon of cornflour to the chicken juices, some chicken stock for flavouring, the water from the potatoes and some gravy browning to add colour.  A beautiful bank holiday roast dinner that all of the family enjoyed.

This meal worked out at cost of £9.18 which is just under £1.84 per person (family of 5).  There was also a good portion left over and hubby had two servings so this could be reduced even further.  That is amazing value for great quality food.

The children finished off their meal with a bowl of Morrisons Mint Choc Chip ice cream and a glass of cloudy lemonade and I think it's easy to see that they all enjoyed it.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Spicy Sausage and Tomato Pasta (Degustabox)

When I think about using organic produce it's usually fresh foods such as fruit, vegetables and meat that comes to mind, but this months Degustabox brought some Organico pasta and sauce which I couldn't wait to try to see if I could tell the difference.

As pasta is a staple meal in our family, I thought a pasta bake would go down really well.  The Organico pasta comes from the 'La Marche' region's pioneering organic co-operative, founded to protect vanishing jobs in the countryside, promote bio-diversity and sustain rich agricultural soil* so it's ethical as well as being healthy.  The tomato sauce comes from another co-operative in Tuscany where the tomatoes are picked and packed within 24 hours to maximise freshness* .  All sounds really good and I like knowing where my food has come from.

To jazz the pasta up I decided to add some spicy sausage, lots of Pepperdew Piquante Peppers that I received in last months Degustabox, and off course, some cheese to top it off.

500g Organico Italian Durum Wheat Pasta, cooked
1 Jar Organico Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce
Pepperdew Mild Piquante Pepper1 spicy sausage, chopped
Grated cheese

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C for fan ovens), Gas Mark 4
Add the cooked pasta to a large ovenproof dish and mix in the pasta sauce, spice sausage and lots of whole piquante peppers.  Add plenty of grated cheese and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes.

Serve with salad leaves and some fresh bread for a simple, yet healthy meal that the whole family will love.   The flavour of the pasta sauce with the peppers is simply delicious, and I will definitely be using Organico again.

You can find DegustaboxUK on Facebook and Twitter

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Project 365: Days 75 - 81

I didn't have the best week last week and took very few photos so didn't do a 365 post, but it made me more determined to do one this week.

Day 75: Enjoying an ice-cream
Day 76: My little book worm
Day 77: Silly hats in the office
Day 78: My cross training workout
Day 79: Enjoying the fine weather and a bit of scooting
Day 80: Ready for Sports Relief
Day 81: Ready for a party (not that you'd think so by the look on his face)

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Project 365: Days 61 - 67

Day 61: A trip to Cardiff and Hamleys toy shop.
Day 62: Stepping stones using footstools.
Day 63: Pancake Day!
Day 64: Sleeping boy - it's the only way I seem to be able to get a photo of my oldest son these days.
Day 65: his train has to have a sandwich too.
Day 66: Kickboxing grading.
Day 67: Acrobatics.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Project 365: Days 54 - 60

It's our half term this week - a week later than most other areas.  It's been a week of guitar practise, lost teeth, Minecraft (that game seems to be taking over our lives) and indoor picnics due to the bad weather.  We've also had the obligatory half term project which involves designing a poster for St Davids Day.

Day 54: Another tooth has come out!
Day 55: The books on my bedside table
Day 56: Guitar lesson
Day 57: Playing Minecraft
Day 58: Indoor picnic
Day 59: This dinosaur seems to be following me today
Day 60: The school project is half done! Happy St Davids Day.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Project 365: Days 47 - 53

Day 47: A day at the park (bottom left) - it was a glorious sunny Winters day so we decided to take the boys to Cyfarthfa Park.  We enjoyed a walk around the lake and then went cross country.  I love this photo of hubby with our youngest son. 

Day 48: Vaccinations (top middle) - Today was the day of my youngest sons booster shots, including the MMR booster.  I was anticipating lots of tears but he was so brave and barely whimpered.  We told him that he was having soldiers put in to fight the bad germs and he liked this idea.  

Day 49: Towel boy (top right) - this is E coming out of the shower.  He loves being all wrapped up in his towel.

Day 50: Gymnast (top left) - Z has gymnastic lessons and really enjoys them.  Here he is waiting his turn to practice jumping over the horse.

Day 51: Breakfast (middle left) - coming back from the morning school run and O insisted on stopping in the shop to get some pain au chocolat for breakfast.  He refused to let them go when he was sat in the car. 

Day 52: Numbers (middle right) - we are in Warrington for the weekend to visit friends.  It was a lovely day so we took the children to the park to play.  O found this counting board and we spent ages going through the different numbers as we've been doing number recognition at home.

Day 53: Science (bottom right) - today we got the train into Manchester and took the children to MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry).  We all loved it there; there was so much to do and see.  We even had a ride on a steam train.  It was difficult to choose a photo from the day but I liked this one of E.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Project 365: Days 40 - 46

Apologies for the photos being out of order, it was the only way I could get them to fit in the collage.

Day 40: Car trip - I thought it was very sweet that my oldest and youngest were holding hands in the car, though as you can see my middle boy wasn't so happy.  He wanted to get in on the photo but gave me the 'evil eyes' .

Day 41: Weight training - I've got my weights out in the bedroom as I'm supposed to be working out (I haven't managed to start yet), so O thought it would be great fun to do a bit of weight training.

Day 42: Sleeping - I tried out The Boy and Me's trick of using alternative lighting to take a photo at night.  I like the way the torch has lit up the photo without washing the colour out.

Day 43: Sleeping buddies - I couldn't resist taking a photo of O and E asleep together.  They looked so cute.

Day 44 : Journey to school - We were on our way to school and I loved how sweet E looked with his hat on.  I had stopped the car before I took the photo! ;-)

Day 45: Valentines - this is the card that my boys made for me.  I love it.

Day 46: Ukulele - O wouldn't go to bed tonight, instead coming back down to play a little tune on his ukulele.  He might be following his older brother with his love of music.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Mexican Chicken and Quinoa salad (Degustabox)

I am always looking for high protein meals for my gym mad hubby, so when my Degustabox arrived I was really excited to find that some of the ingredients would be perfect for him.

It's always a struggle to find something to go with meat that isn't too starchy so when I saw the quinoa I was intrigued.  I have bought dried quinoa in the past as it is supposed to be a superfood, but when I made it I wasn't that impressed.  The Quinola Mothergrain Express that was included in the Degustabox looked very different as it was pearl and black and it was ready to eat.  I wanted to add a bit of flavour so added some cherry tomatoes, cucumber and lemon and black pepper oil.  I've got to admit that when I was making it, I just wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy it as part of my meal.  

I decided to use the Maggi So Juicy Mexican Chicken to go with the quinoa so followed the 3 step instructions on the packet which was extremely simple. 


2-4 chicken breasts
1 yellow pepper
1 packet Maggi So Juicy Mexican Chicken
1 packet Quinola Mothergrain Express
Cherry Tomatoes
Cucumber, diced
Lemon and Black Pepper Oil


Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C for fan ovens), Gas Mark 4.

Slice chicken breasts and pepper and add to the bag provided in the top part of the Maggi sachet, then tip the seasoning from the lower part of the sachet into the bag.  Use the tie provided to close the bag and then coat the chicken in the seasoning by turning the bag.  Place in an ovenproof dish.

Cook in the oven for 45-50 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, add the Quinola Mothergrain Express to a bowl and then add the cherry tomatoes and diced cucumber.  Drizzle some of the oil over and mix well together.

Remove the chicken from the oven and leave to stand for 2-3 minutes before opening the bag.

And there you go.  A perfectly healthy meal, cooked with minimum effort that is super tasty.

Further product information:

Quinola Mothergrain Express is the perfect way to enjoy quinoa and save time! Ready cooked, they can beenjoyed cold as part of a salad or quickly reheated for be included as part of a hot meal. Organic and Fairtrade, Quinola Mothergrain Express have won 4 Great Taste awards. Not only delicious, quinoa is also a super-food, high in nutrients and gluten free! In either Pearl and Black or Pearl and Red, Quinola Mothergrain Express a quick,easy, healthy and delicious way to enjoy quinoa!

Would you like to try a Degustabox for yourself?  Use code SJZVB for a £3 discount on the DegustaboxUK site.

You can also find DegustaboxUK on Facebook and Twitter

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Project 365: Days 33 - 39

Day 33: Poorly boy - O is suffering with a bad cough and cold so we had a very unsettled night and he ended up in bed with me.  

Day 34: Swimming - this week it's E's turn as he started one-to-one swimming lessons.  He's been having group lessons for a while but has got a bit stuck so he's having these lessons to help him move on.  

Day 35: Mega Bloks - I came home from work to this Mega Blok monster in the house.  E built it and was very proud of it.  We haven't been allowed to move it all week!

Day 36: Trains - O decided that he didn't want to go to bed and he would much rather come down and play with his train set.

Day 37: Music - O had some friends over to play so we got the musical instruments out.  He's really very good on this little trumpet.

Day 38: Numbers - I've put a few different learning apps on the tablet and O loves practising his numbers.  He spent ages tracing the number 2.

Day 39: Wine - After a day of housework I went to see a friend and enjoyed a glass (or three) of wine and a good chat.  

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Project 365: Days 26 - 32

Day 26: Haircuts - All three boys needed a haircut so we took them to the local barbers.  This was the first time that O has sat calmly in the chair himself, but the look on his face made me laugh.  I don't think he opened his eyes the whole time his hair was being cut.

Day 27: Teeth - E lost his tooth at school today.  Well, to be precise, his cousin dropped it down the drain after school.  It was a shame as it was the first tooth that has fallen out, but we decided that he should write a letter to the tooth fairy to explain what happened.  It was very sweet and really well written.

Day 28: Drawing - Z has been drawing on one of those sketching boards and I was quite impressed with the detail in this picture of a train with lots of passengers.  I thought I should capture it for posterity as soon after his little brother wiped it clean again.

Day 29: Swimming - O has been refusing to go swimming as he said he's scared so I decided that I need to start taking him every week to get him used to the water as I'd like him to start swimming lessons soon, like his brothers.  It took me twenty minutes to actually get him out of the house as he didn't want to go, and then another ten minutes in the changing room trying to get him to undress.  After a lot of bribery gentle persuasion I eventually managed to get him into the pool, and once in, he loved it!  By the end of the hour he was jumping in and swimming with the help of a noodle.  It was amazing and I'm so glad I took him.  We'll be going every week now.

Day 30: Toy box - O has acquired a new Thomas The Tank Engine toy box from my parents house, and is so enamoured with it that he sat in it for ages saying "choo-choo".

Day 31: Bubble wrap - this isn't the best photo as O is moving.  As the weather is so rubbish at the moment we decided to lay out bubble wrap on the floor and pop it by jumping on it.  We had great fun for ages with this.

Day 32: Classics - Another awful weather today so we had an indoor picnic lunch and watched Mary Poppins on Netflix.  E loved it and I sang along to all the songs (he probably didn't love that bit).

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Project 365: Days 19-25

Day 19: Guitar - E has been having guitar lessons for a few weeks and is doing really well.  He loves music and enjoys practising, especially since I bought him a music stand.  

Day 20: Pull ups (of the exercise kind) - the boys love watching their father do pull ups on the bar in the doorway, so they all decided that they wanted to try.  Z held on for as long as he could. 

Day 21: Trains - We're having a bit of a break from the wooden train set, and it's now all about the Lego Duplo trains.  O loves building his trains and a tunnel.  He has got a track that it runs on, but his train is so long that it won't fit on it!

Day 22: YMCA - More Lego today; this time some minifigures that Z has made with Zombie heads and uniforms.  I saw these when I went in to check on him in bed and couldn't resist taking a photo as they looked like a strange take on the Village People.

Day 23: Creepy Hand - E loves playing Creepy Hand and I love this quizzical look on his face as he reads out the game card.

Day 24: Chopsticks - O has decided to try eating his food with chopsticks and tonight he has chicken nuggets.  It's all practise I suppose ;-)

Day 25: Daddy's boy - it was my nephews birthday party today and we had great fun. I loved this photo of O with his dad.

(Apologies for the photos being out of order)

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Project 365: Days 12 - 18

Day 12: Bathtime - Sunday night is always a busy night getting everything ready for school and work the next day, but I love bathtime when they get to play for a while.

Day 13: Mummy's bed - O is up late as usual and wants to sleep in my bed. I do usually let him for a little while as I love the cuddles.

Day 14: Number practise - O is practising copying numbers and is doing really well. It's hard to see in this photo but he's done a perfect number 2. I was really impressed.

Day 15: Puddles - O does love jumping in puddles and he seemed to find this one particularly fascinating.  It was in the middle of my office car park so not the ideal place to stop but it was really hard to get him away.

Day 16: Baking - I made a lemon drizzle cake to take to lunch with my friends and O insisted on me making chocolate brownies too.  In hindsight I think his ploy all along was just to get to lick the spoon.

Day 17: Kickboxing - Z has gone up a group in kickboxing and does more sparring now so we got him all the padding that he needs. He had to try his headguard and gloves on straight away.

Day 18: Brotherly - E and O cuddle all the time and I love catching them on camera. These are the photos that I'll love to look back on in a few years time.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Project 365 - Days 5 - 11

Day 5: End of Christmas - The tree is down and this is all that's left.  I like to keep one Christmas item out until the 12th night so this is it.  I felt more than ready to take the decorations down this year.  

Day 6: Ouch! - This is the photo of my youngest son sleeping.  He was pretending to hang glide on my curtains (never a good idea in itself) when he knocked down a heavy wooden elephant ornament which landed on his toes.  As you can imagine, he screamed the place down for ages and refused to have ice put on it.  It was swollen and bruised and he cried himself to sleep.

Day 7: Dominoes - a rare photo of my two oldest children playing nicely together.  The old fashioned games are the best.

Day 8: Reading - O brought me one of his treasured Thomas The Tank Engine books to read.  We had a lovely time reading and looking at the pictures.

Day 9: Car Seat - I decided to move O into a high back booster as he looked too big for his old car seat.  He was so excited and said that he's a big boy now, just like his brothers.  It's very strange seeing him in this car seat.  He's not my baby any more (well, he will always be my baby but he won't let me call him that!)

Day 10: Trains - O is brilliant at building train tracks.  If I do make one for him he just takes it apart and changes it so now I leave him to it.  He changes pieces around until it all fits together like a big jigsaw.

Day 11: Food! - we decided to go to our favourite restaurant in Cardiff for lunch.  My boys love Bellinis Italian restaurant and order the same food every time we go, but it's great to see them enjoying their food so much.  We did have to ask the waitress for more parmesan cheese a few times - the boys are addicted to the stuff!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Project 365: Days 1-4

I attempted to join in with The Boy And Me and Project 365 last year, but only made it halfway.  This year I want to complete the whole year, so after reading a few tips here are my first few days.

Day 1: Cluedo - Santa got the board game Cluedo for the boys for Christmas (mainly because mummy mentioned that it was her favourite childhood board game), so we pulled this out to play.  It took a while for the boys to get the gist of the game, so I won and was accused of cheating for the rest of the night.  My 7 year old is such a sore loser ;-)

Day 2: Mickey - I was trying to get a good shot of my youngest in the bath, but he insisted that I took a photo of his favourite bath toy - Mickey - too.  

Day 3: Cleaning - O decided that he wanted to help me with the cleaning, but he was far more interested in what the suction felt like on his hand.  I love this photo as he just looks so cheeky.

Day 4: Superheroes - O tried on his new superhero onesie and was fully getting into character.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky