Thursday 27 June 2019

My Love of Music & Encouraging My Children's Tastes

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Music has always been such a big part of my life and I never quite understand when people say that they don't really listen to music.

My music tastes were mostly influenced by my parents when I was a child. I credit them for my love of 80s music such as Adam and the Ants, The Smiths and Prefab Sprout - to name a few! When I hit my teenage years, that's when I really begun my love affair with music. 

I started listening to more "alternative" stuff (mostly emo, if I'm honest. I'm a die hard Panic! at the Disco fan and finally got to see Brendon Urie in the flesh this year after 14 years of waiting!), dyed my hair every colour under the sun, became involved with a group of friends who all listened to the same genres and enjoyed going to gigs. One of the first things that Chris (my partner of almost 10 years) and I did when we first met was buy tickets to go and see Dropkick Murphys together. Seeing bands is something that we love to do.

Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco, Pray for the Wicked Tour - SSE Hydro, Glasgow, March 2019
  Back then, I was very set in my ways and would only listen to that type of music but now as I get older and have children, I'm much more open. I like to expose them to music and hope that they develop the same love. Before we've even got into the car for the school runs in the morning, I'm already wondering what radio station we'll put on or whether we'll just link up a Spotify playlist on our phones. If I'm out walking without the children too, you will be sure to find me with my earphones firmly in, listening to a Spotify Daily Mix!

Trusty red earphones, probably listening to twenty one pilots
  My son, C, would listen to Five Nights At Freddys songs on YouTube 'til the cows came home but my four year old daughter E is a little obsessed with George Ezra and will always be singing 'Paradise' or 'Shotgun'!

In order to encourage the children to develop their music tastes, I've switched from having the TV idly on in the background to having a different station on the DAB radio, letting the music drift through the house. Honestly, C isn't bothered so much but E loves a boogie and is very into current pop music like Ava Max or Taylor Swift (and to let you in on a secret, I think I'm becoming a Swiftie too but don't tell 15 year old me that!).

Are your children into music? What do they like to listen to the most?
Tuesday 25 June 2019

Hatchimals Pixies - Review

[AD/Gifted - We received these items for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. [This post contains affiliate links. If you click through to buy anything through a link on this page, I will earn a few pennies at no extra cost to you.]

I'm sure everyone is familiar with Hatchimals toys, from their original HatchiBabies large eggs that crack to reveal an interactive fluffy baby that could be nurtured to adulthood, to the smaller CollEGGtibles range which my daughter E loves! Spinmaster have now added a new range - Hatchimals Pixies!

E was so excited to get her hands on two eggs from the new collection and was dying to see who was hiding inside.

The Hatchimals Pixies are from a fictional place called Hatchtopia. There are four different coloured eggs available and inside you will find one of eight Pixies. The Pixies themselves hail from different areas within Hatchtopia; 'Glittering Garden', 'Polar Paradise', 'Crystal Canyon' and 'Wishing Star Waterfall'.

The Hatchimals work in the same way as the rest of the range, simply rub your thumbs over the purple heart motif on the egg and it will crack, revealing the surprise inside. 

In our first egg, we found Glittering Gracie from Glittering Garden and five accessories - one stand, a pixie bed that fits perfectly inside the egg so it can be kept to play with, a hairband, a watering can and a flower. These fit into her hand so can also be used for play.

Our second egg contained Wishing Star Willow from Wishing Star Waterfall - E was very happy with this one as her cousin is called Willow! Her accessories were a stand, a pixie bed, a hairband, ice cream cone and an artist's palette.

E has really enjoyed playing with her new Hatchimals Pixies - so much so that she brought them to nursery the day after opening to show them off to her friends. They stand at 2.5 inches tall so they were the perfect size to pop back into her tray when she wasn't playing with them. The Pixies themselves are plastic but the wings are rubber so they move to give the effect that they are fluttering. E was also very impressed with the glittery hair and poseable heads. 

I like that the fun aspect isn't over once they have been cracked out of their eggs, the eggs can be played with too and that the accessories that come with each pixie gives a little bit of an insight into their personalities, as does the collector's sheet, encouraging your child's play.

The Hatchimals Pixies are recommended for children aged 5+ and retail at £7.99 per egg. You can find them at Smyths Toys, The Entertainer and all good toy retailers.


Thursday 13 June 2019

2019 Reading Challenge | Books 31-35 Round-Up

I'm back again with another book round-up!

I am really enjoying getting back into reading again. You can catch up with my past round-ups here: 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25, 26-30. Come add me as a friend on Goodreads too!

The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary - 5/5

"Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met...

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they're crazy, but it's the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy's at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven't met yet, they're about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window..." 

This has been on my to-read list for ages after seeing all the hype surrounding it on Quercus Books Instagram account.

The story follows Tiffy who has just broken up with her cheating boyfriend and needs a new place to live. Leon is subletting his flat. He works nights and stays with his girlfriend Kay at the weekend, Tiffy works 9-5 Monday to Friday so it would be perfect for them. They communicate only through Post-It notes.

It's such a deep story and I love every single character. We find out that Leon's brother is in prison, he says he's innocent and not all was as it seemed in Tiffy's relationship with her ex-boyfriend Justin. I finished the whole thing in less than a day - loved it!
Unfollow Me by Charlotte Duckworth - 5/5

"You can't stop watching her.

Violet Young is a hugely popular journalist-turned-mummy influencer, with three children, a successful husband and a million subscribers on YouTube who tune in daily to watch her everyday life unfold.

Until the day she's no longer there.

But one day she disappears from the online world - her entire social media presence deleted overnight, with no explanation. Has she simply decided that baring her life to all online is no longer a good idea, or has something more sinister happened to Violet?

But do you really know who Violet is?

Her fans are obsessed with finding out the truth, but their search quickly reveals a web of lies, betrayal and shocking consequences..." 

This book is amazing! 

Violet, mum of 3 and married to Henry, is a mummy vlogger with over 1 million subscribers on YouTube. One day, all of her social media accounts are deleted with no explanation as to why. Everyone on mummy forums are discussing it and wondering what has happened to her.

The story flits between the points of view of Lily, a single mum of one who obsessively watches Violet's channel, wishing that her life was like hers; Yvonne, a lady who is struggling to conceive a child with her partner. She is also a viewer of Violet's channel and she used to work with Henry 20 years prior; Henry and the Violet, herself.

The plot of this book is absolutely brilliant, with information being peppered in to really make you think. I don't want to give too much away but all the lines come together and you can tell it's been very well thought out. The last paragraph before the epilogue almost made me scream. I cannot recommend this enough!

Hard Pushed: A Midwife's Story by Leah Hazard - 5/5

"No sleep for twenty hours. No food for ten. And a ward full of soon-to-be mothers...

Welcome to the life of a midwife. Life on the NHS front line, working within a system at breaking point, is more extreme than you could every imagine.

From the bloody to the beautiful, from moments of utter vulnerability to remarkable displays of strength, from camaraderie to raw desperation, from heart-wrenching grief to the pure, perfect joy of a new-born baby, midwife Leah Hazard has seen it all.

Through her eyes, we meet Eleanor, whose wife is a walking miracle of modern medicine, their baby a feat of reproductive science; Crystal, pregnant at just fifteen, the precarious, flickering life within her threatening to come far too soon; Star, birthing in a room heady with essential oils and love until an enemy intrudes and Pei Hsuan, who has carried her tale of exploitation and endurance thousands of miles to somehow find herself at the open door of Leah's ward.

Moving, compassionate and intensely candid, Hard Pushed is a love letter to new mothers and to Leah's fellow midwives - there for us at some of the most challenging, empowering and defining moments of our lives."

A brilliant insight into the work of an NHS midwife. The beginning reels you in as she explains doing an episiotomy, which honestly made my stomach contort.

It's packed full of stories about patients, from a seventeen year old Chinese girl who is a victim of human trafficking to a lady who has experienced female genital mutilation and everything in between.

An eye opening read about the struggles of working long, gruelling hours, trying not to make any mistakes in a hospital that is oversubscribed and understaffed.
The Girl Who Came Out Of The Woods by Emily Barr - 4/5

"Arty has always lived in the Clearing, a commune hidden in the forests of South India. But her happy life, separate from the rest of the world, is shattered after a terrible event.

For the first time, Arty must leave her home, and head into the intriguing but frightening outside world. On the streets of India, a chance encounter leads to her becoming an unwilling overnight celebrity.

As she embarks on her journey, she discovers she is being followed by thousands of strangers, who seem to know her every move...

Forced to fight against mysterious hashtags and being constantly photographed, how can she find the help she desperately needs?

Everything is changing too fast for the girl who came out of the woods. Could she be running into a trap?"

This is the second book that I've read recently that I was putting off because of low ratings but it is absolutely brilliant.

Arty, who is 16, lives in 'the Clearing' which is situated in the woods in India. It is a small community made up of eleven people. She knows nothing of the outside world, except for what her mother told her and what she's read in books. When lots of members of the Clearing fall ill, some dying, she and her younger brother Zeus must venture out into the real world (or "the Wasteland", as they call it) to find medical help.

She is soon thrown into a whole new world of electricity and social media and money which is "the root of all evil". The story is told in two parts, Artemis' (Arty's) point of view and an unknown point of view but both unwind and tangle together. It's such a lovely story which really makes you think.
Favourite Daughter by Kaira Rouda - 5/5

"One of them lied. One of them died.

Jane's life has become a haze of antidepressants since the tragic death of her daughter, Mary. The accident, which happened over a year ago, destroyed their perfect family life forever. 

The trouble is, the more Jane thinks about that night, the more she realises that something doesn't seem right. Does her youngest daughter know more than she's letting on? What secrets is her husband still hiding from her? And why does no one trust her to be on her own?

Even if it's the last thing she does, she'll find out the truth..."

Oh wow! When I first start a book, all I want are characters that I will like. I didn't like a single character in this book but I've still given it 5 stars.

Jane Harris is a self absored, delusional, manipulative narcissist and you just love to hate her. I love how the story is written, as though Jane is speaking to the reader. It's like you are inside her brain and you are brought along with each lie she tells and her true inner thoughts.

Jane is mother to Betsy and Mary, who has died after accidentally falling off a cliff, and wife to David. Betsy doesn't have a great relationship with her, David is cheating on her and she spies on them through apps and trackers. She makes it seem like everyone is against her, she's the victim. The pace is great and Jane is waiting for the culmination of events, the truth coming out (well, her version of the truth), so it makes you want to quickly read on to see what will happen.

Have you read anything good lately? 

Monday 10 June 2019

Pop Pops Snotz - Review

[AD/Gifted - We received these items for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. [This post contains affiliate links. If you click through to buy anything through a link on this page, I will earn a few pennies at no extra cost to you.]

Slime is the 'in thing' right now and it is a craze that has not passed my children by. I don't get the hype but they love it and I love them so I put up with it, even if it does mean I'm constantly on edge and repeating "Watch you don't get it on your clothes!" I've also written about collectable toys on the blog a lot. Both C and E like these types of toys and seeing if they can get the whole collection.

Pop Pops Snotz combines both slime and collectables which means its a double win in my children's eyes. We received a little influencer box a couple of weeks ago to see what they were all about.

The name "Snotz" to me obviously makes me think of snot, but in reality the little pouches - if that's the right word! - remind me of spots or pimples. When you pop them, you will find either yellow or green slime inside and some will have a small collectable toy. It's kind of like a different take on a blind bag but a two parter because you get slime in all of them plus a nice little surprise of a toy in some.

Both children found it a bit hard to pop them at the beginning and really had to put some welly into it, C had a few angry moments and I had to help him with quite a lot of them. You need to position your fingers a certain way to burst the plastic.

Like many toy ranges, the sets come in different sizes to suit all budgets. The 6 pack Starter Packs are £4.99 and 12 pack Deluxe Packs are £7.99. Each pack has a character sheet so you can check out the name of the Snotz that you find and whether they are common, rare or limited edition. The names are all very funny and had the kids in stitches.

We like these toys a lot because even though you'd think the fun element would quickly disappear once all of them had been popped, the kids liked mixing all the slime up, hiding their characters inside and creating new games.

Pop Pops Snotz Series 1 are available now from all good retailers such as Smyths and The Entertainer. You can see C and E playing more at my Instagram Highlight.

Friday 7 June 2019

What I Won - May 2019

I am terrible with keeping up to date with my competition win posts! I'm finding that it is a lot harder to win lately - especially compared to a year or two ago.

Here's what I won in May:

Facebook Wins
A copy of 'Hard Pushed: A Midwife's Story' by Leah Hazard 

A copy of 'Daring Daddy' by M P Robertson

Instagram Wins
LEGO Darth Vader clock 

£100 spend at Tog24 & a bottle of Sloe Motion Hedgerow Botanical vodka

Montezuma's chocolate box 

Kids camping projector

Twitter Wins
A copy of 'A Summer To Remember' by Sue Moorcroft

A copy of 'Yoga for Everyone' by Diane Bondy

Web Wins
Aurelia skin serum 

Still doing really well with book wins which is great. With both kids birthdays in September, I'm hoping for some nice toy wins in June or Amazon vouchers!

Did you win anything nice this month?