Giveaway: Win a Lucky Loom Band bundle

If you haven’t heard of Loom Bands yet – where have you been? Under a rock?! Anyway, the Loom Band craze has swept the nation, and anyone who has anything to do with a child probably knows all about them.

Gemma and Jacob love loom bands, and have watched endless videos on You Tube about how to make all sorts of different bracelets and keyrings – everything from sheep to Minions!

If you know a loom band loving child or 2, or you are looking for some fabulous Christmas stocking fillers, then look no further – I have just the giveaway for you. 

One lucky winner will receieve a Lucky Loom Band bundle, consisting of a mix of green, white and pink bands and everything else you need to get looming!

Loom Band giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and conditions – open to UK residents only. Competition closes on 4/11/14. Winner will be randomly selected from all correctly completed entries and contacted by email. Winner must claim their prize within 10 days or it may be redrawn. The prize will be supplied by Paddy Power Bingo. Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

Tried & Tested Tuesday

Welcome to Tried & Tested Tuesday! It’s so lovely to see so many familiar faces and new ones linking up each week – we really enjoy seeing the range of products you have been trying out. We do our best to visit you all each week, but do bear with us – we are both busy mums!

Last week was another record week with 97 link ups – thank you to every single one of you!

If you’re new to this linky then welcome along! You can find out more about it and how to join in here. If you’re a regular then welcome to you too! Crack on, link up and share some commenty love – lets face it, that’s what makes linkys work.

Each week, as you know, we like to feature two of our favourite reviews from the previous week.

This week we loved:

#TriedTested featured blogger

Pink Lining Wanderlust Rucksack review from Chelsea Mamma – it is so pretty and so practical, and it made us want to go and buy one!

#TriedTested featured blogger

Science 4 You skeleton puzzle from Northumberland Mam – great item that I actually went and ordered after reading the review. It will be a great Christmas present for Gemma.

If you link up please do make sure you visit your hosts Family Fever and We’re going on an adventure to leave a comment as well as a couple of others if you can – I know that people really, really appreciate the feedback! We do ask that you link a maximum of 2 posts each week to keep things fair for everyone – if you choose to link up an extra post please make sure you visit extra posts in the linky to balance it out.  (Additional posts will be deleted out of fairness). We do our best to visit each post and leave a comment, as well as tweeting from @FamilyFever and @Lollinski. We would love it if you grabbed our badge and popped it on your post too!

Family Fever



 

 

Review: Sea Life Centre, Weymouth

Gemma and Jacob love anything to do with the sea and the water – I don’t know if this is due to living by the sea or whether it is just something that all children love, but they are definitely keen on visiting aquariums, ponds, rock pools and of course, the beach. This weekend we made the trip to the SeaLife Centre in Weymouth with 2 very excited children and a squealing baby, although I don’t think he really knew what all the excitement was about.

SeaLife Centre Weymouth review

If you book tickets online, they cost £15.50 a person, which is £7 less than the price on the door. Tickets include entry to the park and the Sea Life Tower – a 53m panoramic tower which offers you an amazing view of the coastline. To reach the tower from the park you can either stroll the 30 minute walk along the seafront,  drive (although this will incur another parking charge), or catch the seafront train between the park and the tower – again there is an additional charge for this, so do factor this into your budget.

On arrival at the park, the children were provided with activity booklets and stamp books – the idea being that they collect a stamp at each area of the centre and then show the completed book at the end to receive a reward (a Sea Life medal) – this is a great way to ensure that you see everything and don’t miss an area. The activity books provided have things such as wordsearches, mazes and puzzles in – great idea for snack/lunch stops, but the Sea Life do not provide pens or pencils, so make sure you pack one.

The centre is split into 15 different sections, and there are specific things to see in each area. First stop was the Bay of Rays, where we saw some enormous rays, as well as lots of other fish.

SeaLife Centre Weymouth review

SeaLife Centre Weymouth review

SeaLife Centre Weymouth review

Our next stop was the one that Jacob had been looking forward to the most – Shark Reef. Here we saw a selection of sharks, and were able to watch feeding time. The staff presenting this were very knowledgeable and happy to answer all our questions.

SeaLife Centre Weymouth review

In the Rainforest area, we met a lot of exotic creatures, including this little fellow. He was SO still, you had to look really carefully to be able to spot him. Gemma has recently completed a topic on the Amazon at school, and so she was able to tell us lots of interesting facts about the rainforest and the creatures that live there. In each area there are screens and interactive tools to help you learn more about the creatures you are seeing.

SeaLife Centre Weymouth review

Gemma and Jacob loved the rockpool area. They are familiar with rockpools, and often explore them when we are at the beach, and so they were able to identify some of the animals they saw. Gemma was able to touch a starfish too – she said it felt rough and spiky. The staff all around the park are so knowledgeable and keen to get the children involved.

SeaLife Centre Weymouth review

We were all looking forward to seeing the penguins, and we arrived just in time for their feeding session. The staff member was hand feeding the penguins, and we were told all about their diet, where they live and the Sea Life Centre’s very successful breeding programme, which is helping to conserve this endangered animal.

SeaLife Centre Weymouth review

Next up was the Turtle Sanctuary, and here we discovered some very unusual animals, such as this snake neck turtle, as well as the very impressive giant turtle.

SeaLife Centre Weymouth review

SeaLife Centre Weymouth review

SeaLife Centre Weymouth review

The turtle sanctuary leads straight into the ocean tunnel – this was a real highlight, as you are surrounded by amazing sea creatures, and can watch as they swim above and around you, close enough to examine in real detail. Just something to not here – the ocean tunnel is very popular but quite small, so do be aware of this, especially if you have a pushchair!

SeaLife Centre Weymouth review

Once we had managed to drag ourselves from the wonders of the ocean tunnel, we came out into the Wetlands area – lots of marshland birds to see here, and some information about conservation. It’s also a lovely open area where the kids can run and play for a while.

SeaLife Centre Weymouth review

Another area we had all been keen to explore was the seal sanctuary – seals are such beautiful animals, and ones that you rarely get to see. The seals at the Sea Life Centre were very playful, and we were able to watch them slip and slide around on the shallow rocks, as well as heading down to the underwater observatory to see dive deep down.

SeaLife Centre Weymouth review

Crocodile Creek was next up, and this was a huge hit with the children, largely due to the log flume, that takes you on a boat ride through the crocodile zone, before soaking you on a speedy little hill. 

SeaLife Centre Weymouth review

SeaLife Centre Weymouth review

Finally, we met the family of otters – there was a sign telling us that they sleep and we may be able to see them in their holt, but we were lucky enough to catch them outside, and playing on the rocks. Gorgeous animals that you very rarely see in the wild now.

SeaLife Centre Weymouth review

There are other areas too, that we didn’t get snaps of as we were too busy exploring! You can find Nemo in the Shipwrecked area, find out about the breeding programme and spot some baby seahorses in the nursery zone, and burn off some energy on the rides in Adventure Island. There is also a lovely Splash Zone – it was too cold for us to take advantage of in October but in the summer this would be a wonderful place to spend some time.

SeaLife Centre Weymouth review

There are 2 places to eat – one offers hot meals and one offers sandwiches and snacks. They are both clean, have a wide selection of food, plenty of seating indoors or out and have a good amount of highchairs. The toilets on the park are clean and well maintained too, and there are separate baby change rooms. 

Overall we had the best day. There was so much to see and do, and everything was clearly designed with children in mind, making it a fun and interactive trip, as well as a valuable learning experience. We will definitely go again!

Spending time together as a family is so important, and days out can provide a great opportunity to have that quality time. The Family Adventure Company are keen on promoting active family fun, and they currently have a competition running, where you could win an amazing family adventure to Andorra. To enter, just answer a few fun questions to be in with a chance of winning an amazing activity holiday and other exciting prizes from their partners – Sea Life and Go Ape!

The beauty of an early morning

I was recently asked to take part in the #EarlyBirdChallenge, in association with Free Office Finder. Now, those of you who know me well are probably laughing right about now – early mornings are SO not my thing. But having said that, when I am forced out of bed early, either by a child, a holiday, a trip or am early train, I can appreciate the beauty of the early hours.

One of the most beautiful things about an early morning is how it looks. It doesn’t really matter what the weather is like, each season offers something. Spring has crisp, sharp mornings. Summer has soft sunrises and bold colours. Autumn has misty mornings and crunchy leaves. Winter brings pure white frostiness.

Some of my favourite pictures were taken during early morning strolls on holiday in Wales and Cornwall, or at home in Devon. Now, I can’t take the credit for most of theses – that goes to my husband over at Fever Pix photography, but they really sum up mornings for me. Peace, tranquility and something unspoilt. Before the world comes clattering in, before the wheels of cars and trains and buses start turning, before people start rushing to school and work and the shops. Just the world and you, before all that. 

Early morning photography

This photo is so peaceful – the early morning light reflecting off of the quiet sea, the empty pebble beach, the endless horizon.

Early morning photography

This is one of my all time favourites. A quiet lake in Wales, no one about but the fishermen, and the gorgeous light creeping down over the mountains.

Early morning photography

One of our most popular images, this is Berry Head in Brixham. The height of summer, a beautiful, secluded spot of coastline and so many colours in the sea.

So while I would never describe myself as a morning person, that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate the beauty of being an early bird. There are some things that just aren’t the same at any other time of day, and there is no other time that is so peaceful, so tranquil and so stunning, especially near the sea.

Do you love mornings, or are you a bit of a night owl? Is there something magical about the early hours of the day for you – have you ever seen something special that took your breath away?

*This post is written in association with Free Office Finders, as part of the #EarlyBirdChallenge campaign. *

Project 365, days 285 – 291

I have made it to week 42 of Project 365 – just 10 weeks to go. Didn’t think I would make it this far!

Project 365, days 285 - 291

 Day 285 – It was cold today – the cats were cuddled up for warmth.

Day 286 – A stunning sunset by the harbour.

Day 287 – Max has a new snack pot, and he can’t work out how to tip things out (I know that’s the point of it, but it’s still funny to watch).

Day 288 – A beautiful rainbow. Very fitting for baby loss awareness week.

Day 289 – The Christmas wrapping has commenced! I know it’s early, but if I don’t wrap them I just know the kids will find all the presents!

Day 290 – Brotherly love. Love this photo, so natural, and just shows how well they get on.

Day 291 – Blog Camp here I come!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Learning to talk

I can hardly believe that Max is 17 months old. He is a fully fledged toddler now, who has mastered walking and sleeping in a big boy bed. Now he is learning to talk.

We have had a few babbled words for a long time now – ‘mama’, ‘dada’ ‘memma’ (Gemma) and ‘dayca’ (Jacob) – but proper words that other people would understand have been a bit longer coming. Over the last couple of weeks he has suddenly grasped a few words, and now uses them over and over again.

 

 

I love this video, it makes me smile every time I watch it. The fact that he has learned how to say Hiya and Bye Bye, and that he uses them properly, picking up the toy phone and ‘speaking to his friends’ makes me super proud. He really is growing up.

I have found myself wondering about the best ways to encourage his speech now we have got started. Gemma and Jacob both spoke quite early, and were using clear, strong sentences before their 2nd birthdays. These are the things that we found worked the best:

  • Repeating. When your baby says something to you, even if it’s not exactly right, repeat it back to them correctly with a ‘that’s right!’ – it reinforces their effort and gently corrects them. For example, if Max says ‘Dar’ I might say ‘Car, that’s right!’.
  • Role play – using a toy phone, or even an old mobile is really useful – you can have a pretend conversation, introduce peoples names into their vocabulary and make it fun too!
  • Read books together. Reading is a brilliant way to encourage speech. You can talk about the things you see in the book, you can teach new words, and you can relate them to the pictures, to help your toddler understand what he is seeing.
  • Ditch the baby voice. We have all done it – used that itty bitty baby voice when talking to our little ones. Don’t. Using the correct language is important from an early age – it’s no good teaching your toddler that a dog is a ‘woggy’ and then later telling him it’s a dog. You will just confuse him.
  • Face to face. Make sure you look at your little one when you talk so they can see your mouth, your expression and how you form words. They learn by copying.
  • Answer questions. Jacob used to spend ALL day asking ‘what’s that?’. No matter how many times they ask, answer them. Even if they have asked you what a tree is 15 times already that day. They are learning, and it’s important that you answer their questions. 

Do you have any other tips and tricks? Can you remember what your little ones first word was?