Sunday, 30 June 2013

Project #365 - Week 26

So, to quickly get us back up to speed:

Sunday: When I finally stopped, after getting home from a fantastic weekend in London, I couldn't help but be mesmerised by the light of the moon.

Monday: Squeaks wonders if she can take her new wheels for a spin.
Tuesday: Cheeky manages to grab his bubble machine on his way to the naughty step.
Wednesday: Smiles from the boys on a trip out.
Thursday: I have never stopped to take a photo of Paddington... despite being there at least once a week.
Friday: Rocking the frock at Barry Island.
Saturday: Party smiles.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Project #365 - Week #25

So, of course, I've managed to get a week behind again... and I'm even late sorting last week's.
Two weeks of a social life and I'm a mess!

So, this is taking me back some... but here goes!

Sunday: We attempted to make a pink rainbow cake, as we had liked Jennifer's alot! It wasn't to be, the oven broke. It turns out you can make cakes in microwaves... our tasted more like the sponges you put custard on.

Monday: Miller gets some fresh air.

Tuesday: Enjoying a new book together.

Wednesday: Looking forward to jumping the waves.

Thursday: Painting my nails ready for BritMums Live. I can't remember the last time I painted my nails!

Friday: Enjoying the drinks reception with Sara-Jayne from Keep Up With the Jones Family and Becca from  Mrs Flams before the Brilliance in Blogging Awards.

Saturday: Continuing a fab BritMums conference with Sarah from Boo, Roo and Tigger too.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

#QuinnyCasters Task 7- How has your home changed?

When people ask how has having children changed your lives, it can be answered on so many different levels.

When I look at the physical changes...

When Squeaks was born life didn't change that much, Squeaks pretty much fitted in with us, most of our friends had older children so we were accepted with baby. We decided to opt for the advice of minimal child proofing, so boundaries could be understood.

When we found out we were pregnant with the boys, well, I guess we made up for any changes we didn't make before.

We suddenly found we didn't have a car suitable for three isofix fittings, and traded our vectra for a people carrier.

Last year I finally admitted that my convertible with only two back seats had to go.
After Tiny needed surgery at 10 weeks, we admitted we needed to be nearer my family.

So we moved from Yorkshire to South Wales.

And a year later hubby's mum made the move as well.

Our home is now child oriented.

I asked for a red storage unit for my birthday last year.

I have changed from someone wanted jewellery and clothes, to prioritising our my home feels.
Our garden lacks a garden table and chairs.

But Mr J has done a fantastic job with a summer house, climbing frame,

And his piece d'resistance, his shabby chic bird table.
And Squeaks and I have done our bit, making art work for the playroom.

Using Saltdough to represent our family.

And using a canvas, crayons and hairdryer to make art for a fiver.
And yes, you've guessed it, I wouldn't change it for the world.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Hello, it's me... Johnson Babies

So, today was a baaaaddddd day.

I don't even know how it started.

But around 10.30 I went on to blogger to see my favourite hobby... my blog.

It was weird. My page views were really low.
I thought in my sleep I might have written an offensive post and I was being boycotted. (I love my imagination).
I clicked on 'view blog'.
And words failed me.

I quickly asked for advice.
I was going from one meeting to another.
But there was that little part of me.

Completely distracted in the meeting, watching the advice scroll up on my screen.
I believe my director gave me some good news.
My lack of reaction alerted him to my mood.
(Of course I didn't mention the blog).

At 11.30 I became the owner of
And here we are.
I have admitted I cannot win this one.
I will retain a belief in karma.

I think I've lost some things... blog lovin' followers... and no doubt my Tots100 ranking.

But, it's really good on the other hand.... it reinforces what I discovered at Britmums.
I haven't lost my content.
I have all my photos.
And I have my blog.
We've just moved to another address.

Please feel free to send a card... and pop back anytime for a coffee x

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I'm linking up with Keep Up with the Jones Family... I promise next week to include some floating boats too!
Keep Up With The Jones Family

Thursday, 27 June 2013

#QuinnyCasters Task 6 - Exploring Cardiff with the Quinny Moodd

 We've been testing the Quinny Moodd in some of the City's most popular spots- we know that it handles well off road and in tourist destinations.

When we were given the task of exploring hidden treasures, I thought about the hidden treasures which I have shied away from since becoming a parent.

In my university days life was spent in and around the Civic Centre, so Tom and I took the time for me to reacquaint myself with my favourite spots. And to see them through the eyes of a toddler. It was a windy day and I forgot how hypnotising the leaves on trees are. I have such fond memories of walking through Centre Vale Park in Todmorden with Seren and her settling as she watched the leaves, it was wonderful to see the same is true for a toddler.
I also took the time for some retail therapy. Since having the boys I have generally turned to online shopping, or at a push shopping at the out-of-town retail parks. I decided if I was really to put the Quinny Moodd to the test it would have to be about how well, and how stress free a shopping experience would be.

Cardiff on a Saturday has never been for the faint hearted. And yes, because you have a pushchair you do tend to have a trump card, but more satisfying is how the maneouverablility (yes I'm sure it's a word) of the Moodd, that when you politely say 'excuse me' you can quickly swerve around people and get to your destination.

For me it was the craft section at the back of The Works. If there's ever a shop you don't want to try on a Saturday it's The Works. As it was we managed to find everything we were looking for, with no tears.
The final test for me is the theatre. I love escapism. I love the idea of introducing my children to the theatre.

Whilst the Sherman Theatre is new build, and a great design which places accessibility at its heart, the New Theatre is a fantastic old theatre with amazing architecture.

The downside of the New Theatre is the pushchair store is downstairs. And it's not the most friendly set of stairs.

This was the ultimate test for the Moodd.
And because of its fantastic features it handled them with grace.

The easy collapse and the light frame meant it was far easier to carry it down the stairs than to bump it down.

When I collected it at the end, the kind usher offered to carry my 'heavy pram' up to the main level for me. Needless to say he was quite surprised when he lifted it.

And the intelligent feature of one touch unfolding meant it was a simple act of leaving at the end.

I did laugh at the look of surprise on some parents faces as they struggled with their seemingly lightweight buggies.

Cardiff is an accessible city, and with the Quinny Moodd is it that more accessible to families.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Making ends meet with a bit more confidence

Being a working mum is not without significant problems. And that's before you get to the guilt of leaving your children each day to encourage your brain to click into 'work' mode.

In 2012 women represented more than half the UK workforce, despite this most days you hear reports about glass ceilings, the lack of female representation in boardrooms, lower salaries, and that's before you think about pensions, the economic climate, and all the other strains on family life.

Mumsnet has been working with leading financial protection insurer Unum for over a year focusing on protecting family finances.

According to a new report commissioned by Unum, today’s employees are more likely to fall into financial difficulty than they were 30 years ago. The report suggests that this is partly owing to the fact that employee benefits – designed to provide financial protection – have failed to keep pace with the changing UK workforce which is now more feminised, older and includes more disabled and long-term ill.

After I quickly became a mum of three, and the sole earner within our family, my focus has quickly turned to maintaining my job, fearing the implications of increasing bills and a static salary.
Every time efficiencies and cost savings are mentioned at work, I quickly do a stocktake to ensure my team are able to prove their worth.
That's before those uncontrolled elements such as illness are factored in.
In spite of a massive restructuring, one thing I am most grateful to my employer is the introduction of 'My Flex' which accompanies the existing 'Employee Assistance Programme'.
I have probably already mentioned I work in a male dominated industry, and when I first started with my employer women in my role were few and far between, and the general feel was that people represented an older demographic.
In reality the nearest colleague to my age group in the same role was ten years older. And her nearest colleague had ten years on her.

Things have changed significantly in this time, a great achievement for an organisation entwined with construction and the public sector.
'My Flex' did come late in the day, it was rolled out in 2012, but when it did it was well researched, and fit for purpose, it comes with an ability to update annually (or if you have life changes you can update based on this), as well as continual improvements by the organisation to ensure the offer is 'fit for purpose'.
One of the good things about my organisation, is the recognition of our changing lives. I manage a team of six: living in Exeter, Bristol, Birmingham, Leicester, Warrington and Runcorn. And we cover England. And they have to put up with me, living in Wales.
We're all 'travelling employees'. We have more than one place of work. And we're expected to manage our own office- on the move. To do this we're armed with Blackberries, Laptops, and a fantastic support team in Norfolk and London.

But with all this comes the inevitable flexibility, when we're either on the road or in meetings, we usually need things at our fingertips when we want them.
And that's where our intranet comes as the first port of call. Whilst our Human Resources team are always at the end of the phone (in working hours), our intranet means we have all the information we need.
So, when considering how to make best use of our benefits package, it can all be accessed online, with HR available for further advice and guidance.

So each year you can revisit the package you have chosen, and it even allows me to cover my husband as a stay-at-home dad.
Some of the benefits which you can include are:
I do feel a lot more secure with the flexible benefits package underpinning my income.
I am fortunate enough to work for an organisation with a final salary pension scheme- whether I understand this or not, and it has changed over the years, my dad was really impressed when I told him, so it must be good.
But most days, getting to the end of the month is all we are working toward, so pensions are a long way off.
Knowing that we have much support as we can access is a happy medium.

I know I am fortunate, to work for an employer who has to act responsibly.
And they are a large employer, of 1000+.

But knowing what you can access, and how you can offer a tiny bit more security to your family, it's definitely worth chatting things over with your HR team.

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.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

#QuinnyCasters - Task 5 Best Dressed

Dressing up in our house is rarely dull.

I live in a house of divas.
I've no idea where the children get it from!

The week getting dressed up in their best has meant their super best.

Super hero best!

Life with a Quinny Moodd is definitely getting us out of the house.

The boys get so excited to find the Moodd waiting for them.
And whilst there is a competition as to who can jump in the seat first, there are no tears, as the other loves to help mummy push the other- which is great for me!

The beginning

I sat there, late into the night,
listening to 'Wherever you may go'
Looking out to the sea.
The moon reflects so brightly onto the sea.
Someone joked yesterday that someone must have remembered to pay the electricity bill.
It is that bright.

I am thinking of Multiple Mummy.
Whether the energy of 500 women singing 'Firework' might have created the energy to make the moon a little brighter.
I was thinking of how brave she was, being able to think about her funeral.
And write about the possibility, even then, of life after her death.
Which obviously got me thinking to religion.

I know Multiple Mummy has written about what being a godparent meant to her.

And as always I am left pondering our children's forthcoming Christening.
And what that means to us.
Why we would like them to be Christened.

In some ways, you can't help by start at the finish, that that purely is the reason.
The sad thoughts that surround death, and the thought of others living on.

I have never felt so strongly about having the children christened than I did when Tom was having his surgery.
And yet it is still over two years on that we will be realising this commitment.
And oddly, all the things which made us wait, and then gave us the reason to do it now, well they're no longer there.
My brother can no longer get home, and Mr J's best friend can't make it.

And we've decided to go on.

Because that's the thing, it doesn't matter how near or how far.
The support we need to function gets us through.
Whether physical, emotional, near or far.

It is moments, these moments, sat alone, that I know that I'm not.
That we have created a family, which has the strength within it to see each of us to individual happiness.
And in doing so, make each other so happy.

I cannot explain the happiness that is to hear Seren laugh, when no-one else is in the room.
To hear the excitement all three reunite each morning.
And the warmth of the hug each time I return home.

We have created a bond.
That is greater than one lifetime.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Feeling the love at BritMums Live 2013

This weekend was BritMumsLive.
Can you imagine. Two whole days of unadulterated blogging pleasure.
No children.
100% me time.
Time to just be me.
No thoughts of bedtime, preparing meals, whether or not the boys would go down for a nap.
No last minute phone calls for work to be done by 5pm. No deadlines whizzing by.

It was great.

I attended BritMumsLive 2012 after winning a competition on Domestic Goddesque's blog. So it seemed to fitting that she was one if the first people I met this year (and it's not all about the flowers!).
I got to spend lots of time with Sarah from Boo, Roo and Tigger Too, having met her at BML 2012.
And it was also about new friends, Sara Jayne and I were quickly back in cahoots after having such a fab time at Cybher.
And of course I got my cwtch with Emma, after Becca had gone home for her, after having her 'me' time the previous day.

And there were the online friends, those people who provide so much support but i have never met.
I got to know Stressy Mummy in real life, the lady who kept me going through last year's Project 365.
I met Ninja Killer Cat after missing her at Cybher.
I got to spend time with Mum of Four Boys, a fellow Quinnycaster and catch up on so much.
I also finally got to meet Diary of  the Evans-Crittens, another fellow Welsh blogger.

And of course there were so many I didn't get to spend enough time talking with, and people I didn't get to meet in person and am absolutely gutted about.

Where to start?

Sometimes you do so much in such a short amount of time that it's easier to go in reverse.

I ended my weekend with lunch with a friend, after Sarah and I missed breakfast in favour of a lie in.
We were up till 1.30 talking. After staying up till 4.30 the previous morning yapping.
It turns out we're both really good at talking.
I finished BritMumsLive with the best hug ever from The Boy and Me.
We had just finished celebrating Multiple Mummy.
The most amazing tribute by Emma Vanstone and Hello It's Gemma.
You realise the power of the written and spoken word.
Voices uniting for a wonderful woman- blogger, friend, wife, mother. Inspiration.

I could easily stop here.
Because this was BritMumsLive to me.

But, BritMumsLive made this happen, it allows bloggers to come together.
And unite over common interests and causes.

My highlights?

Listening to the Blogging for Good workshop.
+Michelle Twin Mum+Christine Mosler, Ruth Dawkins and Rosie Child talked about supporting charities. This was full of tips and advice for making this work for you, your blog and your charity.... And is best explained in Michelle's post.
It's provided me with so focus and confidence to make this work. And I'm excited to put a plan into action.
I listened to +Michelle Garrett+Kelly Innes, +Jacqui Paterson and +Joanne Mallon  discuss reviews and sponsored posts. It again put things in context. I love reviews- both in providing them on blog and in using blogs to inspire purchases and as research for planned purchases.
Joanne said "What is the story you're going to tell?".
It's simple but it says it all. And I think reviews do sometimes miss this.
Along with the price of the item. Which was a lot of peoples bug bear.

I had fun in the Hub with Acer, Visit Orlando, Warner Brothers, Coca-Cola... the list goes on.... but this is the outcome....

And, this, this has to be the best thing ever...
I went to the session on SEO and blog design. I loved the blog design presentation by +Robin Houghton, it provided so many useful tips and plenty of advice to take on board. I have to admit to being disappointed by how focused +Alison's presentation was on Wordpress (as this wasn't set out in the agenda brief).
However as the day went on the line: "If you don't host your own blog, a fairy dies" rang true. And I am pondering such a move, with trepidation, nervousness, and a teeny bit of excitement.

I attended lots of other sessions, all of which I came away with hints and tips which will hopefully improve my blog.
I think everyone feels like a beginner and can learn so much.
I think I have learned just as much from listening to fellow bloggers as I did at the workshops.
And this to me is what BritMumsLive achieves.

It's overnight, so no-one worries about rushing off.
It's over two days, so you're a bit more relaxed about missing a session to catch up with your now real online friends.
You want to socialise because it's probably the only overnight stays without children you're going to get... till the next time you attend BritMumsLive.
And because you know that the next time you attend you will be able to catch up with all the new friends you made in 2013.

I can't tell you what I enjoyed most about BritMumsLive 203.
I know it's an equal split between the conference itself and everything that happened around it.
I know I can't get 'Firework' out of my head.

And that is BritMumsLive 2013.
Thank you +Jennifer Howze, thank you +Susanna Scott

Friday, 21 June 2013

#QuinnyCasters Task 4 - Introducing the extended family

Task 4 collided with the week of the continued plague that is chickenpox, so family time has been restricted to the five of us.

However, Mr J and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary, and we took a trip down memory lane.

So, for our QuinnyCasters task, I introduced our extended family.

Our immediate family and our immediate friends.

And our most perfect day.

May 21st 2010.

A marriage made in Yorkshire.

And lived in Wales.

Our daughter was 14 months old.

And our little boys didn't miss out on the day, we arrived home from honeymoon to find a positive pregnancy result.

A community pulling together

Sometimes the guilt of selfishness just smacks you in the face.
Today (yesterday) just reinforces everything.

I have been racking my everything as to whether I've made the right school choices.

Today, what has been described by others as, the 'sleepy village of Rhoose' has been in the headlines.

For a tragedy that happened at around 08.50.

That resulted in the air ambulance, firefighters, and police being outside the village's primary school.

It is beyond comprehension.

Why would this happen?
Why would forces prevail to allow this happen at 08.50.
Outside a primary school.

It just did.

And from what I understand, the team at the school were amazing, and members of the community offered first aid, reassurance and comfort.

And this is it.
This is why we live here.
And this is why my amazing daughter will be starting reception at Rhws Primary in September.

Every bone in my body wills those injured to recover to full health, that those affected are supported in their recovery.

Accidents and tragedies.
It is inconceivable.
But I know Rhoose has the strength to recover.
To gain strength.
And to support all affected.

Me, and my English family, are proud to be living in Wales.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Dora the Explorer Live!

Squeaks loves Dora the Explorer. One of her first attempts at a tv song recital was "I'm the map". And everytime we get in the car and drive in a certain direction, I have all three in the back singing: "Where are we going? Grandma's house...".
So, when we heard Dora the Explorer Live was going to be at the New Theatre, Cardiff we snapped up tickets.

Dora the Explorer was the first production I have seen where all voices are pre-recorded.
This really helps children in identifying with the voices of their favourite characters.
You'd have think this makes for an easier job for the performers.
But I half expect the air conditioner was on for their benefit.
How actors can leap and dance around in what must be stifling outfits- well, hats off to them.

The show is the story of Dora the Explorer and the City of Lost Toys.
Following the same format as the television episodes it is straightforward for children to follow.

It is all singing, all dancing, and all for audience participation.
Squeaks was more vocal than ever.
It was ok, she wasn't alone.

The performance has all the regular characters, and as an added bonus for Squeaks it also had Diego.
It had bubbles and singing and dancing.

As an adult, you might question why you're there.
As a parent it is great to see a tv programme brought to life for your child's entertainment.
It absolutely replicates tv on stage, with the added bonus of interaction.

For any child who loves Dora, this will definitely exceed expectations.

Dora the Explorer Live is currently touring the UK.

School and friendship

After writing such an optimistic post yesterday, well I was also given a reality check.

A while ago I wrote a post about trying to figure out the best primary school to send our children to, and whether feeder secondary schools should factor into this decision.

We decided we had a great primary school within walking distance.
Having both grown up in a similar situation, we liked the idea of our children being in close proximity to their friends, that weekends wouldn't be taken up driving distances to birthday parties and friends houses, that after school hobbies were realistic, and in the early years we wouldn't be trying to drop off the children in different locations and spend longer on school runs than was really necessary.

We decided we'd cross the bridge with secondary schools nearer the time, our life has a habit of changing, and seven years is a far enough away to plan a good secondary education for our children. The idea of driving our children back and forth to an out-of-catchment secondary school for five or so years isn't realistically an option, so we know it's not going to be a simple answer.

Decision made, we were delighted that Squeaks got her place at the local school.

I got ahead of myself, I wrote a post about how happy I was about her time in nursery progressing to reception.

And then yesterday disaster struck (disaster by a 4-years old's definition). Squeaks' two best friends from playschool and nursery school are both going to the 'other' school.
And they had their taster days at their new school yesterday.

And last night it was the talk of the evening.
Squeaks wants to go the red school not the blue school.
Squeaks is too young to understand our rationale for wanting her to go to the local school.

And my heart is breaking.
I loved the idea that Squeaks had progressed from playschool to nursery school with children she knew.
And I loved her talk of the breakups and makeups of her best friends.

And now, I feel like I have done this to her.
That is I hadn't wanted her to go to nursery school.
That at 4 years old Squeaks is about to lose her points of reference.
She won't have her two best friends around to help with the transition to 'big school'.

At bedtime we had the 'story in mummy's head' about the best friends are the ones you don't see everyday.
And that it's great to have friends that you don't go to school with, that you can just have fun with.
I thought it had half worked.
Until I kissed her goodnight, and she said "Mummy, can I visit the red school tomorrow?".

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Continuing our gardening fun with #KidsGrowWild

Since beginning our gardening in March with lots of herbs and vegetables we have had lots of fun making sure we look after our plants. In April we added to our routine, with more herbs, mushrooms and strawberries.
What we have learned in this time is that we can't grow things in arms reach of the boys, the temptation to pluck from the soil and offer them as gifts is too great.
So, instead around the house, from window sill to window sill we have pots for everyone to water on a morning and evening basis.

We know we have mushrooms, basil, that we are growing strawberries, green peas and spring onions. Some of our other projects are a bit unclear!

Squeaks was over the moon to receive a starter kit and seeds. So far she has made good of helping daddy. Now she could become master of her own land.
The starter kit was perfect. With all the gardening equipment a young child could require.
And with the addition of seed markers, so this time we'll know exactly what we are growing!
We used individual planters for our seeds, and used both flowers and herbs.
Of course, the best bit for our children is watering the plants, and Squeaks got to work quickly on making sure her new seedlings were regularly fed.
I love how much our garden has added to our home.
That every nook and cranny, out of toddler reach, has benefited from something new growing.
Mr J and I laugh as basil has crept into every meal, as our herbs flourish on the kitchen windowsill.
And that Squeaks loves to eat 'leaves', thinking she is responsible for them all arriving on our plates.

I love that gardening brings out a nurturing instinct.
From playing with dolls,
From playing 'kittens' with her brothers.
To watering her plants and taking pride in her love and determination.

This post is an entry for BritMums’ #KidsGrowWild Challenge with Moneysupermarket

Growing up too fast

In a few weeks time we will attend my daughter's first 'graduation'.
No, you've not been asleep for 17 years, it's something they do at nursery.
As the children graduate, so that they may walk across the playground, to 'big school'.
Before children, this made me chortle, and now as a parent, well, my little girl in nine months has grown up faster than I could have thought possible.
My daughter has become conversant in phrases like:
"You're not my best friend anymore."
"If you tell me off I will be cross, and then you'll have to say sorry."
"I like pink."

And, alongside this 'social' streak, she has learnt the seasons, the days of the week, her colours in english and welsh.
And, has watched a caterpillar grow into a butterfly.
And has been a star in a nativity, and learned the words to so many songs.
And has grown fearful of the days her mummy works in London.
Because of course 'London Bridge is falling down'.

And despite seeing how much she has grown and learned in the short time she has been in nursery school.
And hearing how fondly she talks of her teacher and the learning support assistants.
And creating her group of 'best friends', which changes twenty times from drop off to pick up.

I miss her.
I don't like having to ask her about how she spent her day.
And finding out her new words and new songs through conversation.

And this is how the next twelve or so years is going to be.
That majority time does not rule.
And that my time with my children becomes more precious than ever.

And yet in spite of all of this, I have submitted another application.
For Tiny and Cheeky to start nursery school next Easter.
Because I know Squeaks is the better child for her social skills and the exercise her mind gets.
Of course, the guilt of the working mum kicks in.
But this is our situation, and our choices.
And I love that we have a great school to support us in making the best lives possible for our children.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Carrie & David Grant's Jump in and Join In books #review

I love a book with a new, interesting take for little people.
David & Carrie Grant's 'Jump Up and Join In' range certainly achieves that.
We were fortunate enough to receive 'Lion's Speedy Sauce' and 'Elephant's Birthday Bells' to review.
And after an initial flick Squeaks discovered the CD in the back pocket and, in a way that only a 4 year old can, removed it from the envelope, popped it in daddy's laptop, and we were away.

The books begin with a story, and move in to learning about music, with an associated activity. And all of this is accompanied by a cd talking you through it all.
Squeaks loved the opportunity to dance to the music. And then to practice her singing.
We ended up reading Elephant's Birthday Bells three times over.
And after negotiating that we'd read Lion's Speedy Sauce the following evening (bedtime was looming)
So, what was the verdict?
I love the variety of the books.
I like the idea of introducing my children to music in a way they understand.
Despite my inability to hold a tune, Carrie and David had Squeaks and I harmonising in no time at all.
I love the combination of a craft activity to run along side the book.
And the stories of course had Squeaks cueing the CD so we could read along over and over.

It's been a while since a book has introduced me to a new way of thinking, I liked that this book introduced Squeaks and I to music to run along side the book.

I would think these books a great gift for your children, or as a thoughtful gift for a child's birthday.

Disclosure: We received the two books mentioned for the purposes of the review. All opinions expressed are our own.

Monday, 17 June 2013

WIN Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Goodies to celebrate the opening of the spectacular new musical!

Beyond the gates astonishment awaits… Roald Dahl's deliciously dark tale of young Charlie Bucket and the mysterious confectioner Willy Wonka comes to life at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in a brand new West End musical directed by Academy Award® winner Sam Mendes.

To celebrate the opening night on 25 June we are giving five lucky winners a copy of the wonderful Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical tie-in paperback plus an EXCLUSIVE Charlie and the Chocolate Factory travel card holder!

Click below to watch eye-opening video interviews and behind the scenes insights into the incredible creative process bringing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to the stage!

When Charlie wins a golden ticket to the weird and wonderful Wonka Chocolate Factory, it’s the chance of a lifetime to feast on the sweets he’s always dreamed of. But beyond the gates astonishment awaits, as down the sugary corridors, and amongst the incredible edible delights, the five lucky winners discover not everything is as sweet as it seems.
Featuring ingenious stagecraft, the wonder of the original story that has captivated the world for almost 50 years is brought to life with music by Marc Shaiman, and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman (Grammy® winners for Hairspray; Smash), a book by award-winning playwright and adaptor David Greig (The Bacchae; Tintin In Tibet), set and costume designs by Mark Thompson (Mamma Mia!; One Man, Two Guvnors) and choreography by Peter Darling (Billy Elliot The Musical; Matilda The Musical).
All you have to do to be in with the chance of winning this SCRUMPTIOUS prize is answer the following question:

Who is the author of the novel upon which the musical is based?
a. Enid Blyton
b. Roald Dahl
c. Michael Morpurgo
d. J.K. Rowling

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is open for previews NOW. Opening night is June 25th. For more information visit:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

• Competition will close June 30th
• Entrants must be over the age of 13
• Competition is open to UK residents only
• FIVE winners will each receive ONE paperback copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book by Roald Dahl (musical tie-in edition) and ONE Charlie and the Chocolate Factory oyster card holder
• In the unlikely event the prize style has discontinued a similar model to the same value will be provided
• There is no cash or other alternative to the prize stated and the prize is not transferable and no part or parts of the prize may be substituted for other benefits, items or additions.
• The prize will be delivered to the winner within 28 days of confirmation of delivery address.
• Winners will be picked at random and contacted by the site
• Winners’ name, address and contact details will be requested for prize fulfilment
• Winners’ name, address and contact details may be passed to a third party provider for prize fulfilment
• The Promoter's decision is final and binding on the entrants - no correspondence will be entered into

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Project #365 - Week #24

Our week in pictures:

Sunday: Cooling off fun in the garden
Monday: Climbing trees
Tuesday: Getting excited about cars
Wednesday: Trying to pounce on the camera
Thursday: Tea time treats when mummy's away
Friday: Prepping for Sunday School
Saturday: Having fun in the theatre

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky
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