Books for Christmas, Stories for Life

Everyone has a book or a story from their childhood that they remember and that they still love as an adult. For me, it’s The Secret Garden. I still have my very old copy of it (which I think may have been my mums when she was younger!). Every so often, especially when I’m feeling a bit down in the dumps, I have an urge to re-read it and it instantly makes me feel better. There’s just nothing like getting lost in a book and forgetting what is going on in the world around you for a while, and that’s why I think books make the perfect Christmas gift.

Books aren't just for Christmas, they are for life.

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How to Make Christmas Chocolate Bark

With two children at school and at least three very hard working members of staff in each of their classes,  buying gifts for school staff is beginning to get very expensive. I know from personal experience that staff don’t expect a gift at Christmas, but I know just how much they go beyond their job description and how much they deserve appreciation, and a small gift is a nice to way to show it. I can’t afford to spend a fortune though, and that’s where our our homemade Christmas chocolate bark comes into it.

Christmas Chocolate Bark | www.coffeecakekids.com

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Picture Book Explorers | Review

Many months ago, just after we came back from our holiday in Wales, we were given the opportunity to download a Picture Book Explorer pack from Branch Out World. With everything that has happened, it’s taken us a while, but we’ve finally had chance to have a proper good look at it – and I’m impressed

As a teacher, I know how important it is to try and keep kids learning over the long school holidays. The six-week break is much needed (by everyone!) and is a time to have fun and relax, but it’s also possible to learn and enjoy it as well. We always go with what the kids are into at that point – and this summer, it was all about the seaside and lighthouses.

Picture Book Explorers Review | www.coffeecakekids.com

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Radox Kids Range | Review

Our kids are real water babies and love being in the bath and shower. We have more tears getting them out of it than into it and I’m sure they would spend hours in there if they could. However, the one thing they don’t particularly enjoy is having their hair washed. It doesn’t matter how many no-more-tears, baby friendly shampoos we try, they still all whinge and moan. I’ve never been one for buying kids products just because they have a kids character on the front, but when I found out there was a new Radox Kids range, I knew we had to try them out.

Radox Kids Range - available in Star Wars and Frozen designs. Shampoo, handwash & body wash

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Staying Connected To Your Loved Ones

As you all by now know, a couple of months ago we moved to Wales – 130 miles away from our family and friends. In the grand scheme of things, it isn’t too far. We can go back to Birmingham (I can’t call it home, Wales feels like it has always been my home!) and be back home again in a day easily, and we have pledged to go back there one weekend a month.  My youngest brother, his fiancee and their dog are coming to stay for the night just after Christmas along with my parents, so we can still each other pretty much as often as we did when we lived in Birmingham.

Staying Connected to Your Loved Ones

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My Happy List #1

This is a new (well, new to me!) linky that I’m going to be trying to join in with every week. For those of you non-bloggers, a linky is a where lots of bloggers write about the same thing or the same theme and link to a host blog. The Happy List is hosted by Katy at What Katy Said and Sian at Quite Frankly She Said.

I love the idea of this linky because it makes you think about the smaller things that happen every day that make you happy. I’ve written about some of The Little Things We Love  before and living here in such a beautiful place, there is plenty to make us happy.

Happy Days - The small things that have made me happy this week

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DIY Wooden Advent Calendar

One thing that signals the start of Christmas for me is an advent calendar. Ever since I was little, my mum has bought me a chocolate calendar, even as an adult. The one year she didn’t buy one for my brothers or me because we were ‘too old’ (I was 25!) and she was bombarded with texts from us all asking where our calendars were. A couple of days later, a Peppa Pig one turned up. She’s never made that mistake again. Even now, at the age of 31, I still get one from her.

DIY Wooden Advent Calendar

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After School | My Sunday Photo

When we knew we were moving to Wales, to a house that was just five minutes walk from the beach, I envisaged going to the beach after school for a play as often as we could. Because of the weather recently, that hasn’t happened, but on Friday, the rain finally stopped and we went straight to the beach. It was lovely!

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The Magic of the Mountains

It hasn’t been the best of weeks if I’m at all honest. My back started aching a little bit last week after I carried Benjamin on the school run, but on Monday evening, I got up to go to bed and could barely move. For two days, I was in absolute agony. Last year, I slipped a disc in my back and I think carrying Ben might have aggravated it again. It’s been pressing on my sciatic nerve, which made my leg feel all funny as well. I’ve dosed up on pain relief and tried to hobble about as much as possible, but it’s made me feel really miserable.

The Magic of the Mountains in North Wales

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Stick to Stigu 2017 Planner | Review and Giveaway

I love stationery. I’ve always loved the start of a new year – having all those blank pages in a diary to fill out with important dates and birthdays. Now, working from home and having two children at school, I need to be more organised than ever. When I had the opportunity to review a 2017 planner from Stick to Stigu, it was like Christmas had come early for me.

Stick to Stigu 2017 Planner Review and Giveaway

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Poki Games Review and Chance to Win an Amazon Fire Tablet

Keeping kids entertained on long journeys is difficult. Up until recently, the only time we were in the car for a long period of time was when we went on holiday. Now, we do monthly trips back to Birmingham. Each way is 130 miles, meaning around two and half hours in the car. That’s long enough for most adults, let alone three energetic children.

So far we have been pretty unprepared for these journeys, and have ended up with squabbling, whiny children and a toddler who cries and grizzles the whole time. That’s no fun for any of us. However, we have bought them all a tablet for Christmas, and I will certainly be showing them how to use Poki, a brilliant platform for free online games.

Poki Review and Chance to win an Amazon Fire Tablet

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8 Random Acts of Kindness You Can Do Today

According to Wikipedia, random acts of kindness are ‘unpremeditated, inconsistent actions designed to offer kindness towards the outside world’. To me, it’s a phrase that’s been thrown about in recent years to describe something that most people probably do every day, without thinking, or at least, should be!

A random act of kindness isn’t some big gesture. In fact, it’s completely the opposite. It’s little things that are kind and thoughtful, that might just brighten up someone’s day. People are so busy these days and so wrapped up in their own lives and their own problems that taking even a few seconds to help someone else is completely overlooked. The really stupid thing is that not only can you help someone and make them smile, but doing just a couple of kind things a day, no matter how small they might seem, can make you feel a lot better and a lot happier.

Here are 10 small random acts of kindness to try – they won’t cost a lot of money or a lot of time, but the difference they can make to someone’s day is amazing.

8 Random Acts of Kindness You Can Do Today

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Rainy Day Adventures with HiPP Organic

In Wales it rains a lot. And I mean a lot.

I think it has rained every single day bar one in the past two weeks, or it’s felt like it anyway.

Has that stopped us doing stuff? Absolutely not! After all, there’s not such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choices.

Ben is our little boat obsessed boy, and if he doesn’t get his nautical fix, he’s a grumpy little monkey. A grumpy very nearly two year old is not fun, so we make sure we go and look at the boats as often as we can.

Rainy day adventures with HiPP Organic

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Hotter Shoes | Review

I’ve got a few pairs of boots. I’ve got UGGs, flat boots, knee high boots and ridiculously high heeled stilettos boots. All of them (bar the stilettos) were fairly practical for life in the city. However, when we moved to Wales in October, I realised I had absolutely nothing suitable for walks on the beach and the countryside. We went for a six-mile walk when my parents came up for a weekend, and I wore boots that made my feet ache like mad after the first couple of miles. I wanted something that would keep my feet warm and dry, that looked stylish, but most importantly, were comfortable. It seemed like an impossible task  until I saw the Hotter shoes range of boots.

Hotter Shoes Review

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Keeping Your Child Entertained During the Holidays

When the kids are off school, they are going to need entertaining.  Sticking them in front of the TV is easy, but they won’t be getting the most out of their time off. Here are a few ideas from Rossall School to keep them interested while having fun:

From messy play to cooking...keep your child entertained during the holidays

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Film Night | The Ordinary Moments

We had Harrison and Alex’s parent’s meetings this week and they both had absolutely glowing reports from their teachers. They’ve both settled into life at their new schools, which we were over the moon about. It was the only thing that worried me when we made the decision to move – what if they struggled to settle in and make friends? As it is, we had nothing to worry about. In fact, I think they are already getting on better in their new one!

Because they’ve dealt with such a huge change so brilliantly, we decided we would give them a treat. Originally, we were going to take them to the cinema, but for five of us that would have cost an arm and a leg, and I don’t think Benjamin is quite ready to sit in a cinema yet. He deserves a treat as well – he’s adapted brilliantly. We decided to recreate the cinema in the comfort of our own home and have a proper movie night.

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In the Night Garden bedtime toys | Review

Like most toddlers, Benjamin adores In the Night Garden. He, like Harrison and Alex before him, knows that when that comes on the TV, it is almost bedtime. When he hears the opening lullaby, he retrieves his dummy from wherever he left it and climbs onto the settee for a snuggle and to watch Iggle Piggle and friends. We are now in the process of getting Benjamin to move from co-sleeping with us to sleeping in his own bed. It’s actually going pretty well and I think our success is helped by these lovely In the Night Garden bedtime toys from Golden Bear.

In the Night Garden Bedtime Boat | www.coffeecakekids.com

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Learning Welsh

When I was at secondary school, like every other child I began to learn a second language. In my case, it was French (that was all that was offered at our school). I was actually pretty good at it – I found it relatively easy and ended up with a B grade in my GCSE’s. I never carried it on after I left school, and I really regret that. I can only remember a handful of words and phrases now.

In Wales, as far as I understand, there are two types of school – English medium and Welsh medium. In a Welsh medium school, the curriculum is delivered in Welsh, and it’s pretty much the only language spoken. In an English medium school, the curriculum is in English, but Welsh is taught as a second language.

Obviously, we chose to send Harrison and Alex to our local English medium school. Other than knowing Araf (slow) and heddlu (police), neither Graham or I knew a single word of Welsh. It was important to us that all three children learned Welsh, and ideally, we would want them to be fluent in it at some point in the future. The area we live in is very popular with holidaymakers in the summer, and I haven’t heard many people speaking only in Welsh, but I do think if you move somewhere, you should make an effort to speak at least a little bit of the language.

Learning Welsh

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