In The Playroom
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On Mr Z’s birthday we decided to go for a family day out to Legoland. We have been quite a few times with the kids now, as we are lucky being only about half an hour away and I find it one of the best theme parks for younger children – There’s loads to do as well as the rides.
As there’s so much to do and see in Legoland I’m just gonna cover a few areas, as I think it will be impossible to cover everything in one post!
I have to cover this first because I was a little worried how this was going to turn out and I have to say I was so impressed with how easy to get and use the access pass was. In the past I think you just needed to show the DLA letter, and that is no longer the case. You do need a further letter explaining your child (or your own?) condition. I had been given the impression from some mums that you will need to get something specially written for this purpose (who has time for that really, there are enough things to chase up with SN kids without doing that!) but it wasn’t the case. I just took a couple of paed reports explaining Mr T’s condition and we were given the access pass which allows for 10 rides without queuing. I have heard other families upset about the ride limit too, but in our case we actually only managed to use 5 as we do other non-ride attractions too so I didn’t find the limit a problem at all on this occasion. Without the pass it would have been a nightmare for Mr T as some of the queues were around 45min to 1 hour and he is not able to understand or stay in a line like that, so I was so happy that this system is in place to allow him to enjoy his day out.
Some of the rides we went on were the Dragon ride, Atlantis and Squid Surfer. Mr Z loved the squid surfer, he loves water rides so he found it great. There are quite a few water rides available in Legoland. Mr T loved the Dragon ride he does not get scared at all he just really enjoys it! I really like the Atlantis. It’s a very family friendly ride suitable even for babies (unfortunately mr R fell asleep so he actually missed it this time! but he has been when he was younger) and is great for anyone interested in Sea life. While on the ride you see loads of fish and some small sharks. It is made in conjunction with sealife centres. We visited their London aquarium recently (see here) and has a little aquarium available when you exit the ride.
The Brick Restaurant in the Lego Hotel
We decided to have lunch in the lego themed restaurant which is part of the hotel. We had not tried this before and found it very cool with all the lego models everywhere, to give a great lego themed environment! It is buffet style and there’s plenty of food available. I do have to say the lego shaped chips were not great but the other food was quite nice. It is actually all halal chicken available so my husband was very pleased as he is a meat lover! The children were really happy with the ice cream machine, its similar to ice cream factory where you can add your sweets toppings.
The play areas
There are plenty of play areas in Legoland which is great for when the children want a break from queuing or rides and just want to use up some energy. My boys always love the Pirate training play area which is really big and all shaped like pirate ships. This is very exciting especially for Mr Z. He has enjoyed this since he first visited at 2 years and still loves it now at 5. Mr R is a bit more cautious with play areas but he enjoyed being taken up there by his dad.
There is a play area near the hotel which we had not tried before, so that was nice for after lunch and there is also a small area inside the hotel lobby with stairs and a tunnel which was a big hit with the younger two.
The Duplo play area is another great one for the slightly smaller areas. Last time we visited they all spent so long there, but now it is next to the new water play so of course that grabbed their attention this time.
The New Duplo Water Play areas
These are the reason Mr Z chose to go to Legoland for his birthday! He had seen them advertised on TV while watching Nick Jr and had thought wow! He loves anything to do with water so was really attracted to this. There are two areas, a more basic one for the little ones, and a more advanced “drench towers” Mr Z was more interested in the Drench Towers and he loved it! You do need to bring a full change of swimming clothes and towel as the children will get properly wet as though they are in a swimming pool, although I think these are sold in the shop if you have not thought to bring them. Parents are able to supervise from the viewing area at the side without getting wet and there are Lego staff supervising too, who were very helpful and nice.
There are some changing rooms available and the water play area operates on timed sessions (maybe not during week days school time if its less busy?) but Mr Z found the time given was enough for him to play. The larger blue slide was closed on the day we went but he still really enjoyed this water area!
Legoland is not complete without a trip through miniland! We didn’t get to spend long this time as we were so busy with the other attractions but we still managed to get a look at some of the trains running through the little models. My boys all love this especially Mr T who is so excited by it. Miniland is great, something so unique to legoland and reminds you that it is all about the Lego not just the rides. Miniland is the one I most remember from when I visited Legoland when it was newly opened and I was 10 😀
We decided to leave our buggy at home and hire one of the Legoland buggies, as we had kept noticing these on previous visits. The first shop we went to they said they didn’t have any! Disaster!! Luckily we managed to get the kids down to the next shop and they went and found one for us in the back somewhere. The little buggies are quite good, with being side by side as our normal buggy is tandem with one underneath which is not great as they can’t see while going around the park, but I would say do be careful if you are going and hoping to rely on the Legoland buggies, if we did not find one in the 2nd shop we would have been screwed – there is no way the younger 2 could walk around the park for any real length of time.
We also got them some new lego from the shops. Despite going to Legoland regularly, they have been still more on the duplo and not quite moved up to regular Lego yet. As Mr Z is now 5 I thought they should try and they have been really enjoying it. He brought his new lego figures in to show in school for show and tell.
Legoland is a great day out! As I said, I’m sure I have missed loads here but I would definitely recommend it for any families with young children. I find its different each time we go because we never have time for everything, so have to chose different things each time. Recently I won an annual preschool pass for Legoland, so I can’t wait to get started taking the younger two more regularly while Mr Z is in school (so sorry Mr Z!!!!)
Little Arty Hands are a new company setting out to help us preserve our children’s artwork with easy to create memoir books.
I’m sure most of us have the same situation where you just seem to accumulate piles and piles of kids creations whether drawings, paintings, junk modelled creations or whatever else! After a while it does get impossible to hang on to all of them, so I keep the best ones, try to take pictures of some of the others and then sneak the rest into the recycling pile when the children are not looking – although I have been busted on the odd occasion:
“Mum, you threw away my model!” “Oh no.. it must have ended up in there by mistake… :S” cue skeptical look and “I know it was you Mum”
Although we can’t keep everything I do like the kids to feel that their artwork is appreciated, after all they have put their time and effort into it, and feel proud of what they have done.
Many of the pictures I keep end up hiding at the bottom of the cupboard, although we do of course have the obligatory pictures stuck on the fridge like nearly all family homes!
I love the idea of the Little Arty Hands books to display the children’s work in a way that is easy to get out and enjoy, so I was very happy when they kindly let me have one to review. I collected together 30 of my boy’s pieces of artwork – a mixture from all of them as you have space on the page to label the author for each piece so mixing in one book is fine. I have included picture of drawings, paintings, cards and 3d models so it has a nice variety.
Pieces like the children’s paintings done in their first days of school or nursery, or first cards they have designed for Mother’s Day, have a lot of sentimental value for me so it’s good to have a copy kept safe in a hardback book where they are less likely to get lost, ripped, or mangled over time. This will be lovely to look back on as the children get older.
The website is easy to use and has been designed so that a child would be able to make a book by themselves, for example if they wanted to create one as a present for family members. You simply upload each piece one by one and then fill in the title, author and a few details. For example you could write when the child did this particular picture or any comments they had to say about it.
The pages are all made of carefully selected, luxury, 120gsm paper. This is not photo paper it is more of a matte feel. The book comes in hard back and is A4 in size. You have a choice of colours and I went for navy. The cover has a cut out effect to show one of the artworks on the front cover which is a pretty nice effect. The books come with 30 pages as standard but if you want to, you have the option to add more you just pay for however many more you would like.
The books all come gift wrapped as standard so they would make a lovely gift. Gifts for grandparents is the one which immediately springs to mind – especially if the children designed some pictures specially for them and then make the book.
If you would like a book of your own, Little Arty Hands have given me a code to share with my readers. You can use the code discount50 (all one word & lowercase) to buy a book for £17.50 (so 30% off).
On Sunday we had the chance to go and spend the morning in Hamleys were the Cabbage Patch Kids were throwing a party for their 30th Birthday! Lots of bloggers and some competition winners and their children came together to help them celebrate.
Being a child of the 80s myself I remember Cabbage Patch Kids although I never had one myself (poor me – I know I would have liked one!!). It’s lovely to think of the same toys still going strong for the past 30 years so that children can end up playing with the same things as their parents did during their childhood.
Despite living in London, my boys had never been to Hamleys before! I knew they would find it really exciting and it’s even better having the chance to look around before the shop opens and all of the other customers are allowed in!
When we arrived at 9.30 there were loads of families already there eagerly waiting to get inside. The traditional Hamley’s man was stood outside with us chatting to people and his look just gives a reminder of Hamley’s long standing history, having been around for over 250 years as the “Finest toy shop in the world!” – Pretty impressive 😉 I remember having a visit to Hamley’s as a child when we were taken for a day into London. There is something quite exciting about 5 floors of toys whatever your age is 😀
When we got inside we saw the 2 giant cabbage patch dolls there to greet us and the place had been decorated ready for the party
The children were soon split into groups with the Hamley’s party entertainers and they got started on some traditional party games. The entertainers were all so friendly to the children and very lively and full of energy! They did a great job.
My 5 year old loves party games, as he has been doing them in all his friends parties so he has got to know most of them now and he joined in with them all. My 3 year old is not quite at that stage yet in terms of his attention skills so he did half a game then moved on to looking at all the toys instead, which was okay as they always had some toys nearby for him to explore without having to go too far from the rest of the group
In the party games, loads of cabbage patch dolls were given out as prizes. My boys did not win one but they did not mind. We saw lots of very happy children going home with their new cabbage patch dolls!
After the party games, a party tea had been prepared for all of us. This was retro 80s themed party food and was great, they had loads of food and my boys enjoyed it all. I would have eaten more myself if I was not busy keeping an eye on the kids!
The children all gathered round the cake with the cabbage patch kids for a group photo. You can see my oldest there bottom right, navy shirt, looking very excited!
After the food there were arts and crafts available, and a magic show downstairs. Face painting was also available and that is where we headed.
The face painting happened to be next to the Thomas and Chuggington section so we did not manage to see anything else after that as my boys are mad about trains and were so excited and over the moon with this area so they really kept themselves busy looking at all these toys. They have laid the area out very nicely with a giant Thomas, Percy and Wilson to house the toys so they really liked it and of course being a very large store, their range is quite impressive so loads to look out.
At 12pm the shop opened to the public so we quickly paid for the toys the boys had chosen then were given our goodie bags from Cabbage Patch Kids and went on our way. My 3 year old was so tired out by his busy morning he went straight to sleep in the car.
It was a lovely morning – Happy birthday to the Cabbage Patch Kids and hopefully many more years to come! 🙂
Baker Days cakes are a great idea. Loads of designs which can be personalised with words or pictures, and just the right size to fit through your letterbox which is really handy!
I have tried their cakes in the past. We got one for our anniversary (although I somehow managed to forget how long we had been married and ordered it with the wrong years on! silly me!) I love the concept and taste of Baker Days cakes so was really happy to have the chance to review one in time for Mr Z’s birthday.
As my children love chocolate cakes I decided to go for the chocolate flavour. With every cake you can choose between sponge cake, fruit cake, chocolate or gluten and wheat free. I decided to go for this rocket design and personalise it with his name and age.
The cakes come in a handy tin and are wrapped in a plastic bag to keep them fresh. This is really easy to remove and the cake arrived in perfect condition and looks great! The colours are very bright and appealing and Mr Z was very happy to have a cake with his name and age written on it.
He didn’t eat the whole cake by himself! But he wanted to pose with it, and it also gives you an idea of the size. The Letter Box cakes are quite small, but I found it ideal just to have a slice each for all the family. It says serves 3-4 portions but when some of the family are very young I would say it serves more. It was plenty for the 5 of us.
The chocolate flavour was lovely, enjoyed very much by Mr Z and by all of us. I find the taste of Baker Days cakes really nice! You might wonder whether coming by post, will it be as tasty and fresh as other cakes – but they are! I find them really delicious. One of the things I like is that the icing on top is quite thin so you don’t get that sickly effect that some cakes have where its just too much. They are really well made in both looks and taste.
I would recommend Baker Days cakes, they are such a good idea. They would make a nice gift too for any occasion, as cake through your letter box is sure to brighten up your day!
It was Mr Z’s 5th birthday on the weekend, so it was good timing for us to try out the new party range from SnapsterPrint.com
In the party range they have banners, invites, posters and party accessories (tableware and decorations). We tried out the personalised mini banners, posters and invitations.
The process on the website is quite simple and self explanatory. I clicked on the product type (eg banners) and then clicked tots to see the younger children’s range and on this occasion I decided to go for a blue happy birthday design with cakes on it.
I was then shown what items are available in this range, and could decide to go ahead and personalise the item of my choice. It is simple to upload a picture and add the text you want (name and age) you can change the font and colour according to your preference, and you can move the picture around and zoom it in and out, to get it the way you are happy with. This was all really easy to do.
I stuck with the same theme for all of Mr Z’s party items but included different pictures on each one just for a bit of variety.
The mini banners are printed on premium silk coated 170gsm Paper and are quite small as you can see below. SnapsterPrint says they are Perfect for scattering around the room
either on the walls or simply placed on the tables and I did find them really easy to use to decorate the room because you can just scatter them around, and prop them up all around the place rather than having to find a suitable place for a very large banner, so it is a really quick and easy solution for decorating.
The posters we got were A4 size which are the smallest ones available, there are several sizes you can get all the way up to A0. With the smaller size you get more in the pack, so we had 20 posters. This is really generous and we did not manage to use all of them around the house but if he had a party in a large hall then it would have been a great amount to decorate all the walls. These are also made from premium silk coated 170gsm Paper so are a very good quality.
The colours are nice and bright and Mr Z liked the cupcakes and balloons theme which I had chosen for him.
The last item we had were the invites, also in the same theme. We actually did a family day out rather than a full party for his birthday but I made the invites so that he can hand it out to his family who were coming on his day out. The invitations are really nice being personalised and this would have been brilliant for a party. If we do a class party for his next birthday I will definitely come back and get some more. In fact I wish all the mums would come and get personalised invitations like these with the child’s face on as sometimes you get an invitation in the book bag and you don’t really know who the child is, especially when they are all still new to school so a picture of the child really would come in quite handy for practical reasons as well as giving it a stylish and personalised look!
As an extra little gift, SnapsterPrint also allowed me to choose a personalised mug. This is great because I had none at the moment (From a couple I had from elsewhere, one made its way to a relative’s house and one I broke – gutted) I love to have personalised mugs with pics of my kids, it just brightens up your day while you are having your coffee 😀
I decided to get one picture with all 3 of my boys which wraps around the mug really nicely. You can add text too but I decided not to as sometimes simplicity can work better and I didn’t think this picture needed it.
Here’s my mug
The mug is a nice size and good quality, I’m very happy with it. Those of you who follow me on Twitter may recognise the picture 😀
There are loads of personalised gifts on SnapsterPrint so definitely worth a look, especially if you have a party coming up as the personalised party range could be ideal. There are loads of other designs too – not only kids birthdays but bonfire, halloween, hen and stag parties – basically any and every kind of party!
Little Us is a brand new range of enchanting dolls, each one with her own unique personality. Which one is most like your daughter?– maybe it will be Chloe who likes everything pink, or Amelia who loves animals and reading, or perhaps it will be Ruby who’s just a little bit cheeky, or finally Mille, the tomboy of the group! Read the Little Us stories and follow their adventures on their Facebook page www.facebook.com/LittleUsdolls
Want to win one of your own? Enter via the Rafflecopter below:
MoneySuperMarket have another challenge for bloggers – this time it is the Retail Royalty Challenge which involves being given £30 to spend and trying to get the best value for money in order to benefit a local charity of your choice.
Anything which gives people a reminder to think about local charities and to support work that is being done in the local community has to be a good thing, so its great that MoneySuperMarket have offered this opportunity.
It was not too hard for me to chose my charity. As some readers may be aware, I have a young son with Autism and various developmental delays. It is is not always the quickest process to get the diagnosis for your child, and meanwhile you can be stuck in a kind of limbo where you have a child with delays in several areas but not a lot of support and no idea really what to do – other than keep waiting for more appointments, which could sometimes be months apart. That is where Portage came in for me. You can self refer if you have a child with delays in two or more areas and they will come and work with your child even before you have a fixed diagnosis. This is brilliant and I always recommend them to anyone who is in that situation!
A lot of people have not heard of Portage, and I had not either until it was recommended to me on the Mumsnet Special Needs section (also very good and highly recommended by me – there are so many parents there with a lot of experience, whatever your question someone tends to have the advice needed. It’s a wealth of knowledge over there!)
Portage do home visits where they will do activities to support the child in their development. My local branch of Portage also run special needs playgroups which is really nice. I do find regular playgroups a bit hard at times, as seeing all the other 3 year olds (and younger children) chatting away and doing things that your child can not do can does get you down a little bit at times and it is nicer to have a group where the parents all understand the situation you are in with the children.
Another brilliant thing my local Portage do are signing courses, I went on this quite some time ago now and it’s one of the best things I did for my little boy. It helped his communication massively so I am really grateful to them for that.
They also helped me a lot in the practical things like giving support with DLA forms and initiating my little boy into nursery, and they work with the local Early Bird course too. They are such a useful service and really they deserve more than £30 but £30 is what I have and I tried my best to get the best value for money for it.
I decided to get some early learning resources as the Portage home visitors are always going round to families with bags of activities to help support the children’s learning and development and it is always nice to add something new. I thought about the kind of activities my little boy would benefit from to help him develop his skills and bought those.
I decided to look on the Early Learning Centre as they are quite good value and have a good range of toys which are focused on development as well as being fun. Luckily they have a sale on so that made my money go a bit further.
I got the following:
My complete activity pack – with lacing, threading, sorting etc activities. £10.40 in the sale
Lacing Safari Friends – more Lacing activities £6.50 in the sale.
Thomas and Friends book – £2.49 in the sale.
Wooden Cat racing car toy – £2 in the sale
This comes to over 30 but I did have my 20% discount from ELC as its my son’s birthday this month too and I got free delivery as I ordered other shopping at the same time, so it came to over 50 entitling me to the free delivery.
I am quite pleased that I was able to get a few things for the money by shopping at ELC as sometimes when you look in specialist catalogues everything is quite expensive. I hope these resources come in handy just as something extra to use with the children and I will be passing them over to our Portage person later in the week.
Thanks to money supermarket for providing the money and setting this challenge!
My oldest boy, Mr Z, turned 5 years old over the weekend! Of course that involved lots of fun and lots of presents. To make a couple of his presents extra special, I had been sent some personalised wrapping paper to try out and review from Paper Themes.
I have previously reviewed one of their Personalised posters, and they have quite a good range of personalised stationary. I had a look through all the wrapping paper designs and chose the airplanes theme. It comes as one sheet (50 x 70 cm) with 2 gift tags and you chose the name you would like to be included.
Here’s the paper before it has been wrapped. It is a lovely tasteful design, you can see the name there written in white with “Happy birthday Z….” as if coming out of the smoke of the airplane!
Here are some of the presents wrapped. The amount of paper on the sheet was enough to wrap two gifts.
The quality of the paper is very good, its not thin and cheap at all but a decent thickness and nicely printed. I would recommend the paper for any gift that you would like to make that little bit extra special. For example it would be lovely when having to send something in the post if you are not able to see someone on their special day, as it shows just that extra bit of thought and attention to detail. They have various designs that are suitable for both adults and chiildren so it is definitely worth having a look. I wouldn’t say wrap very large presents in it, or all of the presents as it will add up a bit pricewise. It is more for a special gift when you want to make something stand out!
If you would like the chance to win a Paper Themes Voucher so that you can buy some personalised paper for yourself, and loads more stationary goodies then pop over to ET Speaks from Home blog where my friend Eileen is holding a fantastic competition to win a £50 Voucher! Here