Friday, 17 July 2015

JACS - baby carrier

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of meeting the creator of JACS. Which is currently on kickstarter

It's a carrier aimed at men however, there are some really great features to this carrier for both parents. If you are carrying a baby/toddler all day being able to take them out without taking your backpack off, carrying an integrated backpack or even being able to take a sleeping baby off from a back carry without having a sofa/bed to slump them onto would be very handy. 

There are slight issues with the design at the minute, the straps aren't as padded as they could be and would be fine for a small baby but when they start to get heavy could potentially be painful on longer carries. The crotch isn't as wide as I'd like it, especially as Nate was still in a carrier up until last autumn and would still be in one if it wasn't for driving to most places at the minute. This is more a piece of mind issue but putting safety elastic around the multitude of buckles, the buckles are very unlikely to fail but just for that extra piece of mind. The chest strap possibly needs to be height adjustable to make it fit most people, as a height which is good for me might not be for a tall man or even for a shorter woman. Lastly a sleep hood, especially when they are on your back little heads loll about and can end up in strange positions. 

Now that list possibly sounds like it's all negative and that's not at all the case. All of the carriers I have ever used there have been tweaks to make them even better. There are some great positives to this carrier. It doesn't matter what carry position you are using you can attach a pouch or backpack so you have storage solutions (I'm now wondering if you could attach the backpack to your front if it was being used in the back carry position). The biggest positive for me is the ability to possibly buy the central vest separately as this is the piece that you adjust to you, meaning that I could have one adjusted to me and Nates dad could have one adjusted to him. The breathable back section, no getting hot and sweaty. This is possibly both a negative and a positive as being able to just pull Nate up into the ergo when he's been determined he doesn't want to be carried nor walk has been a benefit but when he was a small toddler and I was nervous about getting him into a back carry without help the ability to get him secured into the carrier and then put it on my back would have certainly been a blessing. 

Overall I think this design has plenty of mileage and it isn't a mans carrier it's a practical carrier. 

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Kano - Build your own computer

Last year as part of the Imogen Heap festival at the Roundhouse there were several music/computing workshops. One of them that we attended was Building your own computer. Nate wasn’t quite 3 at the time of the workshop so I was incredibly impressed that he was able to put together the Kano with little help from me. He happily sat and put the pieces in the right place and then waited for the computer to boot. He was really proud of the computer he had built.
The next part required a little help from me, as he wasn’t reading, I sat and read the instructions and guided him with his typing. Nate didn’t quite get the programming tasks on the Kano which is understandable as he wasn’t reading at the time but was willing to have a go at it and played the games that we created together. 

I’m not sure I’d bill it as build your own computer but it certainly was as close as many people will get to building their own computer and is a good starting place for children who are interested in computers.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Birthday party planning

It will soon be Nate’s 4th birthday and as he has been invited to a multitude of birthday parties he has wanted to have his own party. Nate has been swimming since he was a little boy and he has wanted to take his friends to the pool he likes going to.
Party bags are a big thing at parties and I’ve noticed there are common items that seem to be in all party bags. For his party bag I decided to keep to a water theme, bubbles are of course necessary. However, I came across an idea for toys in soap to buy them was going to be rather expensive. I quite enjoy being creative and a challenge so I decided to attempt to make my own. 

I also have an idea to include another homemade item but as it is time heavy I will wait until I’ve made them all before announcing/showing what they are.


Yesterday we were lucky enough to attend a screening of the 2nd series of Yonderland, Yonderland is family fantasy comedy by the same team who star in Horrible Histories. The first series was hit with me, although I hadn't shown it to Nate until yesterday morning as I wasn't 100% sure he would cope with the darkness of the show but he happily watched the first two episodes. 

At the screening however, he wasn't quite able to cope with it being dark(lights out) while being dark (the show). Thankfully the really dark bits were small enough that he just hid during those bits.

Nate asked Simon why he was the baddie in this show

As I don't want to spoil series 2, in series 1 you meet Debbie of Maddox who is an ordinary mum of two who is taken on an adventure in Yonderland through her larder by an elf. Yonderland is a magical land and this is where all of the (very cool) puppets live. Debbie of Maddox is called the chosen one within Yonderland... (you just need to watch it!)

Look out for this pass in the second episode!

I think the second series is a lot more adult in some its content then the first series, these were jokes that most of the smaller audience wouldn't get so still in keeping with the family title. I particularly liked the second episode, especially as some of it was about problem solving. There is a scarier character in the second series which scared Nate a little bit but he still enjoyed it.


After the screening, there was an Q&A session with the writers/actors. They were asked questions by the interviewer and then the room. Some of the questions were what puppets were their favourite, how they got here and which demon was their favourite. An interesting fact - the demons are named after the voice actors parents.

Yonderland series 2 starts on 13th July at 8pm, it's got a later billing and on the 13th both the first and second episode will be showing.

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity

Monday, 8 June 2015

Role play

Nate loves being in the kitchen, he wants to be involved with cooking or buttering toast. It really doesn't matter what we are doing he wants to do it too.

That other day, we made from rice krispy cakes with mini marshmallows. Nate was not happy to finish once all the mixture was done he wanted to continue cooking. I had an idea, we had marshmallows and flour and a couple of chocolate buttons. Nate loved 'cooking' with those few ingredients. He stirred them up and spooned them from his bowl into the pot the buttons had come from, he was happily playing for at least an hour. 

Monday, 13 April 2015

Samsung TV and Hopster

Last Thursday we were invited to an event by Samsung. They were launching their new suite of kids apps. These apps included Hopster. 

Firstly we were shown their curved smart TV. Before seeing the curved screen I was a little skeptical about whether there would be any distortion of you were directly in front of the TV. However, I could see any, it looks perfect for those who have the TV in a corner and having seats around it. 

The Samsung TV, was a smart TV. A smart TV directly connects to the Internet and is a computer of sorts of its own. Mainly they run apps, like phones and the leading tablets. In the version we saw they had a hidden camera which popped up so you could have a video chat over Skype. 

The main app being showcased was Hopster. Hopster is an amazing app for toddlers/preschoolers. The only have suitable TV shows and they also have games for them to play. There are no adverts around there children's TV shows. Nate has loved Hopster before I let my subscription lapse. I let it lapse as the time we used Hopster was in the car on the way to somewhere and I couldn't find the way to download shows so I was using my limited data on it. I have no w however been shown that you can download shows but only limited shows for 7 days. Please licensors can we get them for longer and more shows, Nate loves Super Why but I'm sure there are children who love all of the content on Hopster. Personally I enjoy Louie who draws nearly everything in the episode. 

I really like Hopster as you can possibly tell. The subscription costs £3.99 a month and has loads of content for little children to watch and do. 

Hopster cake pops. 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Glow Away Kickstarter

I'm a bit of a Kickstarter fan, normally I stick to the technology pages but I have recently started to widen where I look. I'm glad I did because I found Glow Away, please go and have a look. I love the idea of this product as Nate is already scared of the dark and we are starting to talk about why he is scared and what he thinks will happen. Just talking about things seems to have settled his nerve surrounding the dark and adding in a story which teaches him techniques to deal with his fear may be just what he needs.

Glow Away is a product to help children who are afraid of the dark. It's not just like a night light but a  way of helping children overcome their fears. It features a book and a duvet cover, the book is about Sam overcoming his fear and he learns a spell, the words of this spell then glow on the duvet.

Please have a look and pledge if this takes your fancy because Nate and I would love one and they are a little off their target.

Sunday, 15 March 2015


Late last year, I got the dreaded letter in the post stating I had to chose the school and second choice school I would like Nate to go to. I'd already got an idea in my head which one I wanted him to go to. Then came the dilemma, I had to justify to myself that I had chosen the right school. What is a good school? Is it results? Is it the feeling you get when you are around it? Is it how the children behave outside of the school (in uniform)?

For me it wasn't about the results, or how the children behaved (it isn't senior school) it was about that feeling I got. Now admittedly I have spent a lot of time in his chosen school recently and haven't really explored the other schools in the area nearly as much as this one. There was also word of mouth, you know which school has the best reputation in your area but you don't necessarily know why. 

The school Nate is going to rarely comes up in conversation. Is that because it's a bad school? Or mediocre? Or just off the beaten track? I don't know but the children in the school are always seem to be happy, polite and interested in what they are doing. 

Should I check those league tables? No, I'm sticking firmly to my guns that I won't chose a school based on results. It doesn't tell me how happy the children are, or wether the school is setting them up for senior school and enstilling a love of learning. For me these are far important than scoring well in a test, results can only get your so far.

I just hope that this is the right school for him. 

Zip It and Train Review

Nate and I recently received two lovely books from Little Tiger Press, Zip It and Train.

The first book Nate sat and 'read' was Zip It. Zip It is great for little hands its a board book which contains five different fastenings to play with. Nate found the Zip a little hard at first as it was stiff but after opening and closing it no less than a hundred times he found it a lot easier.

The piggy button works really well, as it does look just like a pig nose.

The only page that I'm not sure about is the hen page which has velcro on it, on our version Nate has only used it a few times and it is already looking a bit worn. 

The best page has to be the last page where it teaches them how to tie shoe laces. 

Next is the book Train, this has been printed as a board book. As I am trying to teach Nate how to read I have really enjoyed reading this book to Nate as there are words that are repeated a lot it has meant I read the story and Nate reads the repeated words. These words have a different coloured background to help with identifying which is great for early readers as it allows them to feel like they are reading a proper story.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Base boys clothes

On Friday Nate and I were invited to an event in Base Boys at Westfield in Stratford, we arrived a little late and were quickly shown to the stock room where there were nibbles, drinks and a rail of clothes. After we'd sat down we were given some information about the background of Base and where there other stores are located. Then we were shown some of the lovely clothes they stock and how to combine them together to make great outfits.

Some interesting things I learnt at the event: Base also has a girls store, they stock clothes from newborn size to 16 year size and they stock Gucci clothes for boys. 

I'd love to have stayed for longer in the store however, as the picture above shows Nate wasn't in a great mood (he was still recovering from being ill) so I didn't get to look for as long as I'd like. They stock some beautiful shirts for young boys and loads of jeans in nearly every label you could imagine.

While we were there we chose an outfit, Nate chose the lovely Moschino Dinosaur T-shirt and we managed to get the last one in his size (there were lots in the baby sizes). I chose a pair of short beige chinos by Tommy Hilfiger which go well with his T-shirt but would also suit a lovely shirt such as this. Thanks to the Base team for inviting us and for taking the time to show us some lovely clothes.

Disclaimer: we were given some money toward our outfit in return for a review of the event.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Tongue twister

Yesterday we went to Stratford Westfield. We didn't quite make it to the Olympic Park. However, there was a tongue twister event going on there it's there again today and tomorrow.  

The purpose of the event is to make you think about your senses and how they work for you while you are eating. We visited the smell room first. 

Before you go into the room they test you to find out what sort of taster you are: non-taster, medium or super taster. Nate is a medium taster and I'm a super taster. 
Once in the smell room they explain the link between our sense of smell and taste. You are then given some jelly beans and put your head in the huge trumpets to smell various scents while eating your jelly bean. 

The next room is the sight room, where you are invited to try various coloured juices. The colours do not match the flavours which was odd for some of the flavours, it really confused your brain. 

If you have the chance to pop over to Westfield Stratford, it's worth it to try the tongue twister. 

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Day trip to France.

On Wednesday we went on a day trip to France and Belgium. We took the Eurotunnel over so it was an early start to get to Folkestone. To keep Nate busy I packed some Lego, Kindle and a drawing pad with pens. However, as we were up early he slept for most of the way. 

Driving on the wrong side wasn't nearly as bad as people tell you. Our first stop was Lille where we stopped to have a drink and a snack. There are loads of places to see in Lille as we only had a day to fit in as much as we could we stuck in the centre and then visited the big shopping centre, Euralille. 

After lunch, our next stop was Ypres which was only a 40 minute drive and had a very different feel. While driving it wasn't clear when you cross over from France to Belgium. Once again Ypres is a beautiful town we spent most of our time wandering around the town and having a look in chocolate shops. 

Of course no trip to Ypres is complete without visiting the Menin gate. As we had a Eurotunnel crossing to get to we couldn't stay for the last post, but we did spend a little time looking at all the names.

All in all our day trip to France was very enjoyable and having a few things to do in the car made all the driving easier as Nate was occupied. 

Reading to a preschooler

Nate loves his bedtime stories, sometimes he will ask for five or seven books just before bedtime. This is great but I'm starting to get bored of the same books every night. I decided at the beginning of the year to start reading a chapter book for a bedtime story to Nate. 

We have started with the Chronicles of Narnia. 

Nate struggled slightly with The Magician's Nephew or at least he looked bored but after every chapter I'd ask one or two questions about what we'd just read and he'd answer them. Every night as it approached bedtime he'd ask for the story so he was obviously enjoying the book. 

We have recently moved on to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. 

Every night he has wanted another chapter and before he settles down to read he tells me about what has happened previously in the book. 

I found that letting Nate choose one picture book to read before the chapter helped him settle into listening to the chapter. We also chose a book which contained pictures so that once in a while there was something for his eyes to focus on instead of looking around the room. This also helps with the transition from reading being a very visual experience with a little listening to reading becoming a listening experience. 

Most importantly it's something we both enjoy. 

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Boost What's Your Name

Boost are running a promotion where they publish two names a day and anyone with that name and can provide ID to verify this will receive a free drink.

Also every day a third name will be chosen by the public, you simply register your name in this link

 The promotion starts 5th February 
Ends: 4th March ( the email said February)

Keep an eye out for your name!