worry-plaque

The Irish Fairy Door Company Worry Plaque Giveaway

The Irish Fairy Door Company are an Irish company who help fairies relocate in homes and gardens all over the world through their fairy doors. I have watched the rise of this company over the last three or so years and two fairy doors hang in two bedrooms upstairs. The provide a little bit of magic and I am all for a little bit of magic in a child’s life. The Irish Fairy Door Company don’t just sell the gorgeous fairy doors, they offer fairy registration, they send newsletters and their website provides fairy facts and activities.  I was always impressed by the full magical service they provide and from the fact they give a lot back to local communities too. As a company they seem a little bit magical themselves. Continue reading

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F&F – Clothing at Tesco,Back to School Shopping- Our Thoughts

Back to School COSTS

The Irish League of Credit Unions recently surveyed over 1000 parents on back to school costs. As a parent of three primary school going children, their findings didn’t shock me. Their results showed the cost of back to school has increased each year over the past four, over 30% of parents will get into debt for back to school costs and  one in ten parents will sacrifice spending on food to make up the costs. The research found that back to school costs ( including extra-curricular activities) now stands at €967 for primary school children and €1474 for secondary school children.  You can read their full findings here and their advice is “Avoid Money Lenders, Shop around and Plan a Budget” Continue reading

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A Weekend in Galway at the Connacht Hotel

Two weeks ago, we headed West for the weekend. I have already written about the car journey there, thankfully that was the only blip in what was a really lovely and very relaxing weekend.

I have mentioned in the past about the difficulty we have had over the past number of years finding hotel accommodation as a family of five and since becoming a family of six this has become even more challenging. This was not the case this weekend. Continue reading

School Coat Recommendation – Cotswold Outdoor Review.

School coats. I have been on the search for ideal ones for almost five years. Some of the complaints over the years from the children have been, in no particular order, too big, too scratchy, too cold, too warm, too the same as other people’s, too many zips……….the list goes on. My basic requirements are water resistant, warm, easy to close, easy really you would think, not so much in reality.

My eldest daughter has a stunning array of coats, faux fur, shiny, understated, OTT. All the coats. The boy goes through coats at an alarming rate, he rips them, he loses them, he rolls around in them, he detaches hoods and flings them away.  So I am an experienced child’s coat shopper but until recently the perfect school coat had continued to evade me.

Then along came Cotswold Outdoor, the school coat fairy godmother, if you will and asked me would I like to review one or two of their products. I spent a long time going through their website, its huge, so many products and as I am not the outdoorsy type ( mild understatement) I felt like an explorer in new lands. Maybe it’s just me but I never thought of looking further than the normal clothes shops I shop for the kids in for outdoor wear for the kids, which was pretty foolish really in hindsight.

A couple of days later, their coats arrived. I chose two Columbia Powder Lite Puffa’s which retail at €44 per coat.

cotswold one cotswold two

Nice aren’t they?

Well they have been worn daily since they arrived so result. I really like that they are very warm without being bulky, the hoods stay up and I have washed the boy’s one three times and its like new. My children wear uniforms some days to school and tracksuits others, I like that these coats can be worn with both.Both of them wear the coats daily, they chose them over their other coats at weekends.  I asked the children for their  verdicts:

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My daughter aged 8 ” I really like the pink stripe, the pockets are really warm and the coat feels toasty”

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My son, aged almost 7 “ I like the zip and the pockets and the hood and its warm” He did have one negative “There is no decorations on it though”. He didn’t elaborate on what type of decoration he requires in a coat but this is the only time he has ever mentioned this issue.

 

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Cotswold Outdoor stock over 250 brands of sportwear, outdoor wear, shoes and equipment. They regularly have sales and offers and delivery to Ireland is free for orders over €49. I found their delivery times and customer service excellent and both myself and two of my children would highly recommend the Columbia Puffa’s. If you are on the lookout for a school jacket or indeed any outdoor wear, do check them out.

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www.cotswoldoutdoor.com

 

 

I received both coats for review purposes. I was not paid for this review and as always, all opinions are my own.

Fisher Price Smart Stages Car Review

 

A couple of years ago, my house resembled the baby aisle of a toy shop, with three children under aged four, there were toys everywhere. I was quite the expert on toddler toys but time moved on, lego moved in and baby and toddler toys have changed  in the few years since I have had a baby.

I research toys before I buy, I am that person. I try to work out a usage per cost basis and always look for recommendations and reviews before big purchases. I still feel bitter over the year Santa brought two tablets, that were played with twice. TWICE. That’s a €50 per usage cost by the way.

We were recently offered the Fisher Price Smart  Stages Car for review and straight away the fact that toy grows with the child appealed to me , top potential marks on the usage per cost basis!

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The Smart Stages range are a brand new and innovative way for toddlers to discover the world, with the toy adjusting its content to the baby’s level of development.  Parents can input their child’s age for content updates, just like an app. The toys evolve with age appropriate content, as the baby grows at their own natural pace. This keeps the toy fresh, and encouraging exploration – for both babies and parents.

 The discovering content of Smart Stages is categorized into three stages, ranging from 6 to 36 months. The exploring level starts at six months.  That’s about the time when the baby experiences feedback and learns its first words. 

In the second stage at about 12 months the baby gets more encouraged with building on learning. In the last level at an age of 18 months baby´s play is already gearing up for an early role-play. To perfectly match their baby’s needs, parents can also change the development stage manually through a switch.

They see me rollin'

They see me rollin’

My first thoughts were that the car was a lot bigger than I imagined. Assembly was relatively easy, it only took a couple of minutes and thirdly, the box it comes in is very big so if worth bearing in mind if you buy this as a Christmas present. My elder daughters commandeered the box to make their own car ( because they are deprived and don’t have any of their own toys) while the youngest got to enjoy her new shiny car.  Its red and bright and very appealing to the eye.

The new one is still a couple of days off six months, the recommended age for the first stage of the smart stages car. She has not quite mastered sitting up unaided so I did need to prop her up with a cushion inside the car. Straightaway she grabbed onto to the steering wheel and the dials and keys. The car is very sturdy too and it doesn’t move, this is a big plus for me as I could safely put her in, shut the door and leave her too it. The car plays a variety of songs at a tolerable level and the new one seems to really like it.

I can see the car coming into its own in another couple of months when she is crawling and pulling herself up. The door to it opens and closes and it is sturdy enough to support a toddler leaning on it. There are shape sorters and balls too that come with the car but she is too young to play with these yet, although they are a hit with the four-year old who also fits comfortably in the car.  I really liked that my older children knew the songs and rhymes the car plays as it encouraged them to get down on the floor and play with her too.

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You need a hat for your convertible in the winter months……..

 

As mentioned the toy, evolves with the baby ;

 

“The discovering content of Smart Stages is categorized into three stages, ranging from 6 to 36 months. The exploring level starts at six months. That´s about the time when the baby experiences feedback and learns its first words, in the second stage at about 12 months the baby gets more encouraged with building on learning. In the last level at an age of 18 months baby´s play is already gearing up for an early role-play. To perfectly match their baby’s needs, parents can also change the development stage manually through a switch.Thanks to the stages of development up to 36 months, Fisher-Price Smart Stages toys become long-term companions in baby´s play-life.”

 

The Fisher Price Smart Stages Car retails  between €80 to €89.99 , I have seen it in a few places at different prices so do shop around and is available from all major toy stores and Amazon. I would absolutely recommend for baby’s first Christmas or birthday due to the different stages of the car plus its a well designed, sturdy toy that will last. Despite its size, it’s easily stored and it’s been a big hit here and I imagine it will continue to be as the new one grows.

 

 

I was sent a SmartStages Car for the purposes of completing this review.  I received no other compensation for the review and as always, all opinions are my own.

 

A Very Fine Glamping Experience

We have the week off this week. Holidaying at home. The kids have a list of things they want to do this Summer. We are trying to tick off this list this week. A constant any time they make a list like this is always- Camping.

This is how I feel about Camping

I love not camping

So the camping requests have always been ignored. Last week I tried to book a hotel for a night or two away in Ireland for the five of us. It would have been easier and ,in some cases,less expensive to book a trip to the space station. Hotels- FYI-  lots of families have more than two children and  do not want to stay in a hotel and leave small children in a separate hotel room. Anyway I digress, the hotel booking did not work out. Then I remembered Glamping.

The Collins Dictionary defines Glamping as : 

noun

  1. a form of camping in which participants enjoy physical comforts associated with more luxurious types of holiday.

Or in my words- Glamping- its like camping for those who cant actually handle camping.

Sold. Some googling, emails and calls later and we were booked for a night with Wildflower Glamping in Co. Cavan. This was to be our home for the night

Via Wildflowerglamping.ie

Via Wildflowerglamping.ie

I posted looking for camping advice on my Facebook page. There was much hilarity from my friends. I failed to mention the glamping part. They felt cheated when they found out I would be sleeping in a bed and not on the ground.

So off we set. Much excitement from the kids. Mild trepidation from me. We followed the road signs to the site. Took the turn off the main road, drove on and on. Into the middle of nowhere. Miles from a street light. My trepidation increased. I’m not a fan of the dark. We encountered some cows on the road just before we arrived. I was driving. The husband was telling me to drive around them. The cows kept walking in front of the car. I double checked the central locking and tried not to hit the husband or a cow. We all survived and arrived at the site. The website does not do Wildflower Glamping justice. It was perfect. So pretty. Small playground on site. All lovely. There were two other families staying on the site so we didn’t see much of the older two kids from the time we arrived till we left again. They played the whole time.

Via Wildflower Glamping

As well as the luxury of beds we also had a shed beside our tent with electricity, sink and a kettle. Far from slumming it. The kids played. Myself and the husband read. It got dark. Fire was lit, marshmallows were toasted, ghost stories were told. I was sipping a glass of red wine thinking this is perfect.

The husband was very proud of his fire.

The husband was very proud of his fire.

Then it started to rain a bit. Then it got cold, very quickly. I glanced at the three year old who looked as cold as I felt. She is more like me than I thought.

The small girl and I snuggled up in bed

The small girl and I snuggled up in bed

We took ourselves off to bed and left the others to the campfire. It was not actually that cold it was obviously psychosomatic. it being a mild August night but I was freezing- long sleeved t-shirt, nightdress, fleece pyjama bottoms, leg warmers were put on and myself and the littlest one took ourselves to bed with hot water bottles (provided in the tent, like I said far from slumming it.)

The beds were really comfortable. The shared bathrooms were perfect. Not a sentence I ever imagined writing. The husband went to investigate them when we arrived. I asked anxiously where they ok. His reply. Cleaner than at home.  The whole place was lovely and it was a touch magical once we all went to bed lying there under the fairy lights.

Woke up at 2.30am sweating and bursting to go the bathroom. The pitch blackness stopped me from going  thought. I really don’t like pitch darkness. I have an over active imagination, thoughts of crazed cows or serial killer lying in wait preventing making the 3o foot trek to the bathroom.  Apart from the full bladder, I slept ok. Everyone else slept perfectly. 

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Would I recommend? Absolutely. The kids adored it “best night ever” according to the big girl and boy. Next time I will bring earplugs ( who knew cows were so noisy?) and a catheter and a travel mug for my wine/coffee as everything I drank had a wasp swimming in it before I finished.  Great fun though and perfect for those not at one with the great outdoors, like myself. Will visit again and hopefully visit some of the other Glamping sites around Ireland next year.

Via Wildflower Glamping

Via Wildflower Glamping

See Wildflower Glamping – www.wildflowerglamping.ie  for prices and booking. Next on my glamping wishlist is Teapot Lane

Why I Am Very Impressed With The Ferry

Last weekend myself and my family travelled to Wales with Stena Line from Rosslare in Wexford to Fishguard in South Wales. We had an early start on the Friday morning, minutes before we left the house, we lifted the children from bed and put them into the car in their pyjamas and threw a duvet over them. We set off , boot packed full (which was a real pleasure being able to bring anything we wanted with no ridiculous baggage allowance), before the sun came up in Dublin and arrived in Rosslare a little under two hours later. Whilst waiting to board the ship, the kids were able to get dressed in the car and have a snack.

Via Stenaline

Via Stenaline

Excitement was high and the kids were spellbound as the car drove into “the ships belly”. There was no hanging around and within minutes we were getting settled in the Stena Plus Lounge ( there is an additional charge for seats in this area but if travelling with kids, I would highly recommend it). The lounge was spacious and comfy and there was a small children’s area with a television, fridge stocked with juices and pictures and crayons. Tea/coffee/juice and snacks are all provided complimentary in the Stena Plus Lounge and we were able to sit back and relax, while the kids played. I got to read a full newspaper and magazine from cover to cover and  the kids were also able to borrow a Nintendo ds and a portable dvd player in the lounge allowing the husband and I to read and drink coffee and chill out. We also had breakfast here and it was reasonably priced and probably the best food we had all weekend. We went up on deck a couple of times on the insistence of the children and there was also a small play area on another deck but the we were happy to stay in the Stena Plus lounge for most of the time as it was so nice  just to be able to sit and relax.

I am a terrible flyer. I hate it and I am not usually a pleasant travelling companion. I am surprised my husband still agrees to holiday with me after some of my behaviour over the years ( I make him run to the plane to get my preferred seat, I snap instructions, I get off my head on valium and he is left with sole charge of the children) so it so lovely to actually enjoy the travelling part of our weekend break. The husband wouldn’t pose for a “Im King of the world photo’s” with me up on deck so here’s one of the kids ,windswept, instead

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nor was there any opportunity for this what with travelling with the children and all

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In keeping with the Titanic movie theme  I really wanted to say to somebody  “Paint me like one of your French girls” but there was nobody who even vaguely resembled Leonardo Di Caprio on board  just bikers, retired couples and a couple of other families so I made do with repeating any line I could think of from movies about boats to my husband instead and humming Celine Dion. His head wasn’t wrecked in the slightest.

The sailing took 3.5 hours and was thoroughly enjoyable as was the return trip. I was genuinely impressed with everything, the staff could not have been more helpful – at one stage I looked over to see my five year old asked the Stena Plus lounge manager how to get onto the next level on his Nintendo game and the manager was  leaning down assisting him- it was just so ridiculously stress free in a way I never imagined travelling with a 3, 5 and 7  year old could be. When funds allow, our next holiday will be somewhere on a ferry route, its the perfect way to travel with kids. Top marks Stena Line.

Stena Line have a number of special offers on at the minute and you can also use Tesco Clubcard vouchers towards the cost you can see all their routes and offers at www.stenaline.ie

We travelled on to Bluestone National Park in Wales and I will add a review of here later this week.  Please note Stena Line provided me with a free return Stena plus trip but I have not been paid for this review and all opinions are my own.