Thursday, 4 May 2017

The Future Biker // Kiddimoto Balance Bike Review

Archie has pretty much got his future sorted - he is going to ride a motorbike, never wear clothes and of course he is going to be hulk smash - that is a given.  He is a free spirit, a wild one, the most affectionate, the biggest daredevil and a little sweetie as well as being a future super-hero apparently.  The boys have spent many an hour planning their futures and one thing that doesn't change, is that Dylan will drive a car and Archie will ride a motorbike.

It seems crazy that Archie has spent 4 years as a future biker without owning an actual bike but Kiddimoto fixed that with their rather cool skulls balance bike and matching helmet.  Archie is a speed machine on his scooter so I was interested to see how he would take to the bike.  It took a while to persuade him to wear a helmet but with some encouragement from his best friend he finally put it and then insisted on wearing it all through dinner too.

wooden balance bike, Kiddimoto, learning to ride a bike

There was pride in his face as he whizzed off and he has only improved since, getting quicker and more confident.  The wooden bike is aimed at children between 3 and 5 years and the seat has different heights which we have since adjusted to make it a little higher for our four year old.  Archie just loves the cool pirate design.  We are lucky to live right on the coast which means there are wonderful long expanses of flat biking ground and a few slopes too - perfect for future motorbikers to practice.

I think that balance bikes are such a great introduction for children to help them gain balance and confidence and once Archie moves on to a pedal bike we will be lowering the seat on this and getting it ready for Finn - it feels so solidly made that I am hoping it lasts for Cora as well.

Kiddimoto make a few different styles of balance bikes, some more metallic and like a traditional pedal bike and these wonderful wooden 'Kurve' ones which include a police design, butterflies and an awesome Union Jack design.  I love the Heroes range too which really do look like little motorbikes.

kiddimoto wooden balance bike, skulls balance bike

wooden balance bike, kiddimoto

I love these photos below because of the look of pride and excitement on his face.  Check out the Kiddimoto website to see the full range of bikes and accessories.

kiddimoto, balance bike, wooden balance bike

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Wednesday, 3 May 2017

A London Themed Kids Bedroom

London themed bedroom, London kids bedroom, London bus kids room
We spent a long time thinking about the perfect theme for the boys' bedroom as we needed to change things around and buy them bunk beds, but as it turned out they decided as soon as they saw the selection of beds.  The London bus bunk bed caught their eye so it had to be a London themed room.  

One of the walls and the ceiling recently had to be re-plastered so the room needed painting, but I went for an easy white so that we can change things around easily if we want to.  The room feels cleaner and bigger with white walls, although my super observant boys didn't actually notice a difference!

With the bed as the centre piece for the room, I used their existing chest of drawers, bookcase and dressing up chest and added accessories and little touches to bring the room together and they love the finished project.

London bus bed, London themed kids bedroom

We bought the bed from Carpetright (I didn't even know they sold beds until quite recently!) and we were sent some amazing sheets and pillow cases from B Sensible.  They are waterproof and protective but not clingy and plastic feeling and they come in a variety of shades so I chose red to match their beds.  I am definitely planning on getting some for our bed now!

waterproof bed sheets, London themed kids bedroom

I bought a duvet cover set from Dunelm Mill and then used the pillow case from this on a spare pillow to help make a cosy area by the bookcase.  The London bus cushion is from there too.

London themed kids bedroom, London bus room

To decorate the walls, I bought a big map of the London underground (Amazon), a London print from Dunelm Mill, a clock (Amazon again) that I still haven't put up and we were sent a gorgeous print from Hello Moon which we could personalise with the boys names.  They absolutely love it and it came beautifully framed too.

Hello moon, London themed nursery

The boys love snuggling up in their room and I wanted it to be a safe place for them to play away from the little two.  They have some of their older toys up here, like their Playmobil and skaletrix and we were sent some figures from Jojo maman Bebe too which make a wonderful decoration and which they love using as scenery when playing with cars.

London themed kids room, London themed nursery

To keep it cosy we were sent the softest throw from Room to Grow which is currently residing on Dylan's bed.  Made from merino lambswool it is lovely and warm and I know will get a lot of use (and stop them stealing mine!).

London themed kids room

As a final touch I bought some wall stickers from Amazon and put them in their cosy corner.  I think their room looks simple and calm and they have plenty of room to play and they love the London buses and the bright reds and blues.  I hope it is a room that will grow with them.

London bus themed children's room,

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Tuesday, 2 May 2017

What the Kids Wore // Me & I

One of the first non-hightstreet brands I discovered when Dylan was little was Me&I at the London baby show.  They had a little stall and I was immediately drawn to the bright colours and playful designs.  I bought a couple of bits for Dylan and he wore them so much as they were my absolute favourites.  They got saved for Archie who wore them too and more recently Finn has had his time with them.  Not many of Dylan's clothes lasted well enough to pass on, and the box of clothes that has been worn by all three boys and are still in good enough condition to pass on to Cora is tiny - in fact is only contains Me&I.

I am so impressed with how well their bits last, how well they wash and how vibrant they remain and I had so much fun picking something new for all four children.  In the end I went for matching (because who knows how long I can get away with that for!) and it had to be the dinosaur print.  They don't have anything that they can all match in and these were the perfect t-shirts for our holiday as it made keeping an eye on them so much easier.

I love how soft and stretchy they are, knowing that they are responsibly and ethically made and of course how well they last.  Poor Cora is going to be wearing this t-shirt until she is 8 years old!The print is fun and childish but still looks 'cool' enough for my five year old.  We paired it with soft denim shorts for the big two, blue shorts for Finn and blue leggings for Cora so they really did look pretty matchy!

You can shop from the comfort of your own home in two ways with Me & I - You can order online via your local seller (find them here) or you can book a party, invite all your friends and have a rep come and show you through the new collection.  You can see all the prints in real life and even try one some of the ladies clothing.

We have found the t-shirts fit quite true to size.  Cora is 10 months and in 74/80, Finn is a short 2 year old in 86/92, Archie wears 110/116 and Dylan is a tall 5 year old in 122/128.

Most of the designs are really unisex so perfect for handing down and the baby range is all organic cotton.  Me and I are a brand who care deeply about how our clothes are made and have strict guidelines in place to enforce a safe working environment.  The clothes are made in Portugal and Turkey. 

Thank you to Me&I for sending us these gorgeous t-shirts for the children, we love them.

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Sunday, 30 April 2017

Muddy Puddles

Oh to be a child again, to run into a water park head first (quite literally) and splash to your heart's content, not worrying about the fact your Mum forgot to pack spare clothes for one of you, or that the water is coming up over the top of your wellies and creating puddles inside them.  The boys were in their element at the splash zone in Peppa Pig world and thankfully the wonderful staff let us dry some of their clothes on the radiators as they literally sat in the puddles at one point.

Not all children are as lucky and carefree as mine though, and we were at Peppa Pig world for an important reason, to learn more about the work of Save the Children, and their new fundraising campaign, the Muddy Puddle Walk.  

Nurserys, schools, playgroups and individuals can pledge to take part in a Muddy Puddle Walk between 8th and 14th of May to help raise money for the most vulnerable children.  You don't need a big space, you don't even need real puddles, you can interpret it as you like.  

You may want to do a sponsored walk, you may want to do a jumping challenge in the garden, you may want to make your own paper puddles and jump around inside the classroom.  Archie's nursery are doing a walk along the beach (and I will definitely be taking spare clothes along this time!).  Just grab some friends and apply for your free fundraising pack here.

By taking part, you will help support the charity's work to give every child the right to play, learn and grow up healthy and happy.  Millions of children miss out on this, just because of where they are born.

We had a wonderful day splashing and exploring Paulton's Park and Peppa Pig world and we are looking forward to our muddy puddle walk in May!

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Me and Mine in April

April has been full of family time and adventures and choosing our favourite things about the month has proven quite tough.  The weather has been all over the place and we have bared our legs in shorts only to be reaching for our coats the next day.   This month's pictures are a first and I am expecting some sort of medal or letter from the queen for this achievement - all six of us looking at the camera.  Of course we aren't all smiling, but nobody is crying either and I love them!

We visited the Rare Breeds Centre near Ashford and they had the most beautiful bluebell woods.  I took a few pictures of the boys and then asked a stranger to take one of us and they turned out lovely! 

This month I loved having two weeks with all four children at home, taking photos in the bluebells, getting my shiny new phone and spring cleaning (parts of) the house.

Daddy loved finding a coffee Rotisserie in Hamburg, watching Cora grow up so much, getting his shorts back out and driving on the fast German roads.

Dylan loved hunting for Easter eggs in Grandma and Grandpa's garden, making pancakes at Centre Parcs, playing I spy and starting choir club at school.

Archie loved playing football in Grandma and Granpa's garden, climbing the green mountain at Plopsa, the water slides at Centre Parcs and going on the rides at the funfair in Hamburg.

Finn loved having his brothers home every day over the holidays, holding hands and walking more, splashing in the pools at Centre Parcs and going on the rides at Peppa Pig World.

Cora loved finally working out how to crawl and get around, learning to clap her hands, her first taste of chocolate over Easter and playing with the boys' toys whilst they are out.
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Thursday, 27 April 2017

48 Hours in Hamburg

Hamburg isn't usually the first city you think of in Germany, but we were recently invited to visit and we loved exploring this fascinating city as a family.

We have always enjoyed city breaks and rather than stopping them when we started our family, we have instead tried to find a family friendly way to do them.  Most cities are full of brilliant attractions for under 5s if you look below the surface and we loved discovering this side of Hamburg.

I checked the Hamburg website before we arrived and noticed that we were arriving in time for the Hamburg Dom.  A huge fair that stays for a month at a time, three times a year, the Dom is free to enter and full of lights and colour.  After our drive it was the perfect place to explore, although the weather had turned and it was getting chilly. 

It wasn't exactly a cultural visit, but we loved noticing the difference in food stalls, the giant cookies emblazoned with 'Ich liebe dich', the donuts and spirals, the stands selling all manner of sausages and hot dogs.  The skies were threatening rain and the fair wasn't too busy but still after 3 hours we hadn't taken it all in, it really was huge.  With the lead up to Easter there were giant decorated eggs which the boys loved spotting and everything was wonderfully colourful.

The centre of Hamburg is serviced by an underground, a light-rail network, buses and ferries and to get back to our accomodation we had to get both a train and bus.  The whole journey was only about 20 minutes door to door but the boys loved watching out the windows and exploring the differences between the transport there and at home. Everywhere was really accessible with the buggy which made getting around really easy. 

After breakfast at our hotel, we ventured back into the city centre to really explore.  Unfortunately the weather wasn't on our side, but the rain held off and we could walk around marvelling at the criss cross of rivers that run through the city, wandering across bridges and looking up at the beautiful  green roofs on many of the buildings.  The Minatur Wunderland came highly recommended and as the boys had enjoyed the local Hornby centre we thought we would try it out in the morning.

Hamburg, family travel, family travel blogger

Hamburg for families

The Wunderand really was amazing and it was so much bigger than I was expecting.  We could have spent the best part of the day there as the boys were mesmerised by the tiny worlds.  Set over two floors, you can observe minature towns, cities and countries with many American states being represented, Scandinavia and of course Germany.  The exhibit was interactive in the two year old's favourite way - buttons.  Each display had several buttons that triggered something, for example a man to bungee jump, a disco to light up, a ferris wheel to turn.  We loved pressing the buttons and watching to find out what we had done.  

It was really busy and not ideal with a pram, but you could get around and we could always find a space up against the glass to watch.  One of the most magical parts is the way the lights are on a cycle so every few minutes the sun seems to set and everything goes dark so we can see what these cities are like at night.  One display included the Hamburg Dom that we had visited the evening before and it was beautiful watching it light up.

Hamburg Dom, Hamburg for Families, miniature wonderland

miniatur wunderland, Hamburg, Hamburg Dom, come to Hamburg

miniatur wunderland, Hamburg

I would totally recommend visiting the Miniatur Wunderland, it was a fantastic experience for the adults and children and you go and watch the artists creating new figures and areas too which the children found really fascinating.

Come to Hamburg, Hamburg

The Wunderland is set right on the side of a river with the dungeons just below it.  I would have loved to have visited them, but the children are still a little young.  We had a quick run around and wander along the river admiring the statues with their scarves and how grey the sky was.  Ed noticed a coffee rotisserie and being a bit of a coffee addict he insisted we went in for a look.
It was a really interesting place with a ridiculous selection of coffee.  You could watch the coffee being roasted, try different varieties and of course eat cake.  There was a shop attached selling all the beans too and I think this was probably the highlight of his holiday.  The boys loved the cakes and I had the best latte I have even tasted.

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the rivers, popping into a couple of shops and finding places for the children to run around.  We had been recommended the Better Burger Company for dinner and of course whilst in Hamburg it is compulsory to have a hamburger! 

better burger company, Hamburg for families, Hamburger in Hamburg

It was exactly what we needed after a day on our feet, the burgers were delicious and you can pick your toppings so we each had something a bit different.  It was a really chilled out place with long tables to share and seating outside if you wanted to people watch.  We didn't stay long as the boys were starting to get pretty tired by this point!

The journey back to our hotel was the perfect way for them to calm down and they settled easily once we got in.  

We had a long drive back, so we only had a couple of hours on Wednesday morning to finish exploring the city.  There were a few things I wanted to do including a bus tour and the Hagensbeck Tierpark which is like a zoo, but rather than cages, the animals are seperated by a narrow moat.  We decided to keep things simple though and went for a walk around the city admiring the stunning architecture. There is such a contrast between the UNESCO buildings and the modern concert hall and shopping arcades but the skyline was never boring and we found it fascinating working out what some of the buildings were.

Hamburg for families, Hamburg

Hamburg for families, family travel, Come to Hamburg

We left at midday and had a wonderful time in Hamburg.  I think it is a great city to visit and there is a lot for young families to do.  Mostly we found the people friendly, although on the trains don't expect anyone to give up a seat for you or your children even if you are babywearing.  Everyone we met spoke fantastic English and other than on the trains they were really helpful.  

We stayed in the Appartello smart living hotel which was convenient, comfortable and perfect for families and I will be writing a review very soon.

We were invited to Hamburg on a press stay and vouchers for some of these experiences were provided.  Other bits we paid for ourselves and as always this is my honest opinion.

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