Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Review: Sylvanian Famillies Christmas Set

Rosie, aged 3 (very almost 4!) absolutely adores Sylvanian Famillies. Since we agreed to be involved in reviewing these toys, she is absolutely over the moon when the package lands on the mat. She really loves playing with them, either with Alice or alone. She is quite the independent player - when Alice is in school in the mornings she tends to potter about with her toys, dressing/undressing them, feeding them and putting them to bed. She names them and does their voices - it is really lovely to see her play.

We were recently sent the Sylvanian Families Christmas Set to try out. Needless to say, Rosie was more than willing to get involved.

The set includes rabbit in a Christmas dress, a snowman, a christmas tree with decorations and flat pack boxes to make presents, with stickers and accessories. This little set is a perfect Christmas scene - and one that can be played with over and over again. Sylvanian Families always have lots of attention to detail and this is something that Rosie definitely appreciates.

Rosie decorating the Christmas tree

The Sylvanian Families Christmas Set price starts from £19.99 and would make an excellent present. If you would like to keep up to date with Sylvanian Families including details of their latest ranges do check out their Twitter page. 

Rosie loves her Christmas set

Disclosure: We were sent this Sylvanian Families Christmas set free of charge for the purpose of this review. All words and views are our own.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Review: Michael Rosen, Bear Hunt Experience, Liverpool

We are big Michael Rosen fans. I remember our drama teacher in primary school reading The Chocolate Cake and I remember thinking how amazing it was. Warren has Michael Rosen books that are literally thirty years old on the kids' bookshelf. So, as you can imagine, we were delighted to be asked to attend the launch of Michael Rosen's Going on a Bear Hunt experience.

The exhibition promises to be a look inside Michael Rosen's mind and is in a purpose-built installation in Liverpool One. The launch was in Waterstones where we were served champagne and of course, lots of yummy chocolate cake!

Maybe the most exciting thing for us was the fact that Michael Rosen himself was going to be at the launch. We are massive fans and we wanted to get our books signed by the man himself. At the opening, Michael said a few words about the importance of reading, of books and creating for our children. We then grabbed him to sign our books. It was great and he was lovely.

The exhibition itself is a walk through Michael Rosen's mind. Inside you will find Michael Rosen's house, his school, and of course a wood where you can actually go on a bear hunt! I will let the pictures show you what you might find!

Overall I would say that this a is a great exhibition for fans of Michael Rosen. There was a real sense of family history in the installation and perhaps a sense of where the ideas come from, the imagination and the lived experience that is all around us. The kids had a brilliant time, we really enjoyed this.

Disclosure: We were invited to the launch event and to the exhibition free of charge for the purpose of this review. All words and views are our own.

Review: Yard and Coop, Liverpool

We love eating out as a family. Now that the kids are a little bit bigger we can try and take them to places that we might not have dared take them a few years ago! It's not that our girls are badly behaved, but children are children - they get restless and that can sort of kill the mood in a relaxed restaurant environment! However, now they are 13, 5 and 3, we find that they are much more chilled out and better suited to new and exciting restaurants.

Yard and Coop is one of those restaurants. Situated in the heart of Liverpool on Hannover Street, Yard and Coop promises yummy buttermilk-fried chicken. We weren't disappointed!

As it was the launch night, there was live music on and a photo-booth. We had a lot of fun in the photo booth, as you can see from the photographs!

The menu is varied and offers a lot of different chicken-based dishes. I also loved that they offered a haloumi version of each dish - great for veggies or non-chicken fans!

Amazeballs washed down with a little beer!

The kids menu was also perfect for us - three different dishes, we chose chicken and chips for the kids and safe to say that they ate theirs all up. We ordered BBQ chicken wings as a started - these were delicious - and we also tried the "Amazeballs" - sweetcorn balls with a chilli dip - these were amazing and definitely deserved the label "amazeballs."

As you can see from the pictures, the food was well presented and actually really yummy. Emily had a smoothie for her dessert, the kids had ice cream as part of their meal and myself and Warren were too stuffed to fit in anything else!

Overall, we really enjoyed this restaurant. The bill came to around £60 for the five of us, which is about what we would spend on a family of five to eat with drinks and desserts. The kids had a lovely time, and enjoyed colouring in. They also really enjoyed the pots of Lego that were also brought to the table - what a great idea!

Disclosure: We were invited to Yard and Coop and our costs were covered for the purpose of this review. All words and views are our own.

Diary Decorating with Gel-A-Peel!

We love crafting. As much as we enjoy taking the kids out at weekends, sometimes there is nothing better than sitting in together and enjoying some crafts. Now, I never said we were good at crafting - I just said we enjoy it - there is a big difference!
On a quiet, rainy Sunday we were chuffed to be supplied with a Gel-A-Peel kit and a blank diary for us to decorate. Gel-A-Peel is a kit that contains gel and stencils to make jewellery, decorations or anything you like with coloured gel that sets in place.

Rosie having fun!

So we got to working on our diary. Rosie and Alice still like messy things, and Gel-A-Peel is pretty messy at times! We made swirly patterns with the gel and followed the guides - the girls had a lot of fun!

Our patterns on the stencils - as carefully as we could!

Once the gel had set, we peeled off our designs and stuck them to the diary. I think you'll agree our diary looks absolutely A-MAY-ZING.

Our designer diary!

Well, amazing-ish.

We had a great time doing this together. Gel-A-Peel is perfect for older children who want to make jewellery and design their own decorations. It was good fun!

Disclosure: We were sent Gel-A-Peel for the purpose of this review, all words and views are our own.

L.O.L Surprise Review

We were delighted to be sent an L.O.L Surprise to review. These adorable bundles of fun come with seven layers of surprises.

The L.O.L Surprise we were sent came in a ball shape sort of like an egg-surprise. The kids love this type of toy - I think that it's the anticipation that gets them every time! These round balls, as you open them have seven layers of surprises inside, ours were as follows:

* Shoes
* Outfit (dress!)
* Water Bottle
* Secret Message
* Stickers
* Accessory (cute headband!)

The final thing to unwrap was the doll itself. The girls loved unwrapping this toy. They said their favourite part was revealing the doll at the end, and everything else included perfectly complimented it.

Our doll as posed by Alice!

Our special doll also had another surprise - when you put water in the dolls mouth and squeeze her - she cries real tears! The ball that the doll comes in also doubles as a bath. (As you can tell, the kids have played with this doll and its accessories a lot!)

These dolls are great for a present. If you have a child who loves unboxing and unwrapping lots of little toys then this might be the toy for them. Prices start from £8.99, and of course they can play with the doll over and over. I know that ours do!

Disclosure: We were sent the L.O.L Surprise free of charge for the purpose of this review. All words and views are our own.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Sleep Posture to Support Your Spine

As a very busy parent, sleep means a lot to me. I know that sounds a bit weird, but having had all of the sleepless nights with young children and now managing the home, working and doing my degree, it's really important that I get a good night's sleep. I must admit, I am a bit of a night owl and I don't get that many hours sleep. In fact, I used a sleep app last week and I averaged about five hours a night, which is not great, but I seem to function quite well on that.
What I think is important about my sleep pattern is that I sleep soundly. I rarely wake in the night and I hope that I don't toss and turn too much!

The kids' sleep is quite another matter. They are up and down before they have even nodded off. You can imagine the kind of requests we get - "Mummy can I have a drink?" "Mummy can I have some supper!" The list really is never-ending with them. However, eventually they do fall asleep and only sometimes wake up at an ungodly hour and get in with us. We can cope with that!

Research suggests that a good posture in bed is helpful for a restful night's sleep. I think especially as we age things ache and creak - a good night's sleep with good posture could probably work wonders.
Adjustamtic beds have been created to help you do just that. Check out this video to see what they say about posture in bed:

Sleep is so important. I know that with our busy lifestyles and running around it is something that we don't get enough of. We work late, we're up early and we're in bed late. Sleep posture has really got me thinking and has really make me think about the importance of posture, to make the most of that sleepy time!

Disclosure: This post was brought to you in collaboration with Adjustamatic. All words and views are my own.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

On starting a PhD with three kids and all that...

I haven't written anything for ages that isn't an event or a review. I have been so busy, and this blog has been overtaken by events and days out for the kids. Which is a pretty accurate reflection of what actually happens in real-life, it's like a strange mirror on my life, and I suppose this blog, in content and form reflects this perfectly, even the title. I'm not sure what this is, or even who I am anymore.


Well, I have been accepted to start my PhD in October. Time has flown and it really is this year that I will begin. My scores at uni are a merit, I'm doing really well. Obviously I haven't just been "accepted" to do a PhD - writing my proposal has took me about nine months overall, part time. I have designed exactly what I will be doing over the next few years, namely studying protest groups in the 1970s with a focus on gender and the uncanny echoes we have of this in the present day. It's history, sociology, politics. philosophy. It is complex, interesting, new. I am excited to begin and I am hoping with every cell that I manage to secure some funding. I am certain it is worth funding, but I suppose that is up to the funding bodies to decide, not me!


Well, there is none.

I work at work, I work at uni, I am a mother and a wife and I write this blog. I love my uni work, but I often struggle to get to it. This means we have made plans so that I can balance my life better. Family life is a juggling act at the best of times, but we need to get smarter at it: the only person who suffers is me, because I tend to be the backbone of the family. I organise, plan, arrange.We have sat and discussed how we go forward - our roles have changed. My uni work is now being labelled "work" - I think in the past it was just my "little thing" or my hobby or whatever. It really isn't now, it is so much more than that and it is about time that we addressed the elephant in the room. A PhD is not to be taken lightly, and we need to plan. We have started already - I need certain things, a clear desk, new shelves, a desktop computer, time...

It all seems so obvious, but if this is going to work then this is how we do it going forward.

Against the Grain

I have been struggling lately. Not with uni work, or work, or the kids, or the home. Just with balancing it all. I feel under immense pressure to be perfect in everything - and no matter what I do I feel like I am failing. I don't have much free time, so I suffer from terrible isolation. This is true of a lot of students, but I would say I'm terribly alone. I moved to Liverpool from Manchester years ago, and I feel like I've never really settled in the place I live. I've had about two conversations at the school gate with people since I've been here and I don't generally get asked to do anything or go anywhere by anyone unless it's to do something for someone.
I don't read trashy magazines, or watch television. I don't like things other people like. I am painfully aware of being different. I think this is a product of going against the grain of what I am meant to be doing. I think when I first did my undergrad, it was a bit of a novelty, and then when I started my MA someone actually asked me why I would do that. I got a first class, I love my education, it is what I do. When this person asked me "why?" it was a judgement on what I am doing. Well...what else would I do? I don't want to have a spotless house, or a neat garden. Money is not my king, so I don't want a career in the private sector (I have been there and done that!) So now I am looking at starting my PhD, once again I find myself going against the grain. This is to do with gender and class, I think. Phrases like "ideas above her station" pop into my head. How ironic then that I am studying gender and class and this is the very source of my own struggle.

Things are changing fast and I can't quite decipher what is going on.

I tried to express this once to a colleague, and she completely understood what I meant. She said "It would have been much easier if you hadn't have done it." She was right, of course she was right. My eyes are open and I can't go back to closing them. I don't quite fit in where I once was. I've lost people, my views are different. I've not moved on, or gone anywhere. I don't think I am better or worse than anyone else, I just think differently. Yet at the same time, when I go to uni, I speak to academics and I feel like I belong there, whilst being absolutely completely aware that I might not belong there.

What is this silly working-class woman with three kids doing in my office talking to me about gender and Marx - who does she think she is??

Nobody said that. I'm sure that no-one thought that. This is "imposter syndrome" and I know that I have this. I always say I'm "pretending to be clever." I know I am not. I know exactly what I am doing.

The Hardest Part

I know a few people who read this blog and maybe look for something. Like a sign for me to say that you are doing the right thing for your life. I don't know. I know a few people who are training to be midwives in their 30s - they have kids, they're doing great. Maybe having a goal like that is easier for people to grasp.

"What's Kerrie doing now?"
"She's training to be a midwife."

"What's Kerrie doing now?"
"She's doing a PhD on left-wing radicalism"

See what I mean.

So if you are studying, it is hard. It's not the juggling that's hard. It's managing other people's expectations of you. Gender, class, other people's perceptions, what they believe you should be doing and what you are doing...It's about having the support of people. Having a support network.

My support network consists of one husband, who totally gets what I am doing and why I am doing it - we have spoken at length and he supports what I do. I think my kids (eventually) will get it.

But other people in my daily life? Not so much.

Am I doing the right thing? I don't know. Time will tell - but I can't turn back now. My eyes are open and somewhere some line has been crossed, and I can't go back.

I wouldn't want to.

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