Monday, 29 August 2011

Gel (ac) on my fingers and Minx on my toes......

I shall have music wherever I go................or something.

I am currently on holiday on the beautiful island of Ile de Re of the coast of La Rochelle.  Before I went I treated myself to a minx pedicure and Gelac nails for my fingers.

I blogged about Gelac Nails - a revolution and yesterday I had my fingernails done again.  This time I had my nails filed quite short, I didn't fancy long talons on the beach - all that sand!  I think they look lovely, what do you think??

I also had Minx put on my toenails.  I went for a shiny silver and the result is lovely for a holiday, not so sure for everyday in London?!

If you haven't tried Minx then I can highly recommend it.  It is so long lasting (5-6 weeks!) and doesn't chip at all.  You need to get it removed once it grows out but for ease of mainteneace then you can't go wrong.  The only negative is that you are stuck with the same colour if you can't afford to keep getting the colour changed. 

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Dear Lucinda's Mum.......


I apologise for not knowing your name, I can't even call you Mrs Barton as I am presuming that your lovely daughter Lucinda is married.  (She rocks, by the way, you did a great job there ;-).

Lucinda told me that you LOVE my blog, that you think I am funny and that you read it every day.  That means so much to me and in return, I would like to thank you by offering these flowers as probably my most loyal reader (after my own mother of course, love you lots mum!)

Thanks for reading, thanks for stopping by and thanks for being so complimentary, it really means a lot.

Peace and Love

S.A.M xxx

Bentalls Shopping Centre - Review

Regular readers of my blog will know that I love to shop.  We all know I love nothing more than giving advise on fashion and that my obsession with lotions and potions is borderline obsessive.  However, my obsession has taken a bit of a knock these last few years and my style has been somewhat cramped by the addition of 3 little angels with dirty faces.

Trying to navigate the London underground, let alone the beauty halls of my favourite emporiums has broken even MY ox like constitution as I'll have one eye on the latest eye palette whilst trying to entertain the kids.  I've had to leg it from a changing room in my bra and "Brigitte Jones" kecks as the little Pixie has got bored and decided to leg it from the changing rooms. It's been abysmal and so I have turned to online shopping (convenient but oh so dull) or sneaking off at the weekends for an hour or so - never much fun as I want to be with the whole family at weekends.

Last week I was invited to the The Bentalls Shopping Centre in Kingston to see what they can offer families.  Living less the 10 miles away, we decided to take the bus (whoo hoo, kids loved that) but I was still dubious as to what we were going to encounter.  I hadn't been to Kingston in years so would it meet my expectations??

The Bentalls Shopping Centre has over 80 shops across 4 floors (coffee shop on all floors, oh yes) and has all the high street favourites from Fat Face to Muji, New Look to Zara so instantly offers more than my regular high street.  It also has Bentalls which had ALL of my favourite concessions from Chanel to All Saints and Joseph.    The actual centre itself was clean, uncrowded, airy and bright.  It was the perfect atmosphere in which to shop, but I still had the ever so little problem of 3 kids with me who hate to shop.

Now, here comes the great bit.....The Bentalls centre has a creche called The World of Children.  When I say creche, what I actually mean is a fully supervised, OFSTED and CRB checked, suitable for 1-8 years old with a very lovely Mary Poppins type in charge.  It was so well stocked with age appropriate toys including a Wii (boys in heaven).  I left the boys and Pixie and shopped!!!

Firstly, we had a tour of the Virgin Active Gym which was tucked away on the top floor with a pool as well as several studios and all the cardio machines. It was clean and well equipped and once the centre shuts you can still access the gym.  Next on our agenda was Waterstones, which to be honest, is a shop I could LIVE in (along with Paperchase) and I automatically feel calm and centred on entering.  The great thing about Waterstones in Kingston is that they have a gorgeous kids corner where stories are read on a regular basis.  It was lovely.

We then ventured into Fun Learning which is billed as the next store on from ELC and even though I hadn't heard of it before, I was like a kid in a candy store.  It had such a wide variety of toys that have an educational, learning element that capture the imagination of parents and children alike.  If you haven't heard of this, I strongly recommend investigating.  I got Beansey a Klutz "learn to draw star wars" book which he has not put down - seriously, check out the detail on this this!

We then headed of to Polarn-O-Pyret which is one of Sweden's biggest brands that produces incredibly well made and well designed garments.  I got a gorgeous dress for our holiday for Pixie for £12 and it's stunning.  If you like Boden or Joules then you need to check this out as the quality is on a par to these brands and I predict that POP will be BIG here in a few years time and I will be blogging about this at a later date as I have totally fallen in love with the brand!

Time was running out (can only stay in the creche for a maximum of 4 hours) and so I headed over to Bentalls where I had my feet eaten by fish (didn't make an iota of difference but felt nice!) and my eyebrows plucked/threaded to perfection in glow.  I had a browse around the make up counters and *may* have bought one or two new lipsticks before I had to pick the children up from the creche.

They had all had an amazing time, I was worried that Beansy at nearly 8 would have been fed up/bored but he had an absolute blast and they all left with a creative craft that they had all made. 

The Bentalls Centre really rocked in my opinion, not only was there a great selection of shops but the facilities on offer were second to none.   During the Summer they have a daily programme of FREE activities for children - we were lucky (!) enough to get up close and personal to a tarantula.  Or rather, BoBo the superhero obsessed 5 year old was the only one who was brave enough!!

The Bentalls centre is easily accessible by train from London and the A3 and has lots of parking on site.  For those of you who venture to Bluewater or Westfields I can safely say that the Bentalls Centre is more than a match. 

Peace and Love

S.A.M (with 2 new lippies ;-)


Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Bentalls Centre and given free coffee and granola plus a swag bag to end all swag bags.  This has not affected my opinion or views whatsoever and we have in fact been back to the centre yesterday to do our holiday shopping. 

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Spy Kids 4D All the time in the World Movie Review

Today was wet and miserable and so after blackberry picking in the rain (cold, wet, muddy but successful) we had a family pow wow and decided to go to the cinema.   I wanted to see the Smurfs  (nostalgic) but was over ruled by the kids so it was of to see Spy Kids 4D - all the time in the World.

Now I had no idea what 4D meant, I thought it would be something like HD cinema but was quite surprised when the usher handed me a card called and "Aroma-scope".  It was reminiscent of scratch and sniff stickers circa 1980 and actually meant we were going to the "smell-ema" as this was scratch and sniff movie stylee! 

The movie features twins called Cecil and Rebecca who are the children of the spy hunting reporter Wilbur.  They have a step mum called Marissa who unbeknown to them is a retired agent from the Organisation of Super Spies or the OSS.  Without giving the plot away, we see them all battling against a time keeper and tick tock his henchmen in order to save the World.

spy kids 4d film review

At various points during the film you need to scratch and sniff the correlating number on your "aromacard" and despite them all smelling the same (thank goodness, who wants to smell green nappies or dog farts anyway) it added an new element to the cinema experience.  The kids LOVED it.

I thought the plot was weak and ridiculous in places, but at the end of the day, it's not a film made for me but the children who of course absolutely LOVED it and have already asked to go and see it again.  The saving grace for me was the dog Argonaut who was voiced by Ricky Gervais - It was very much toilet humour which made me chuckle.

They particularly liked the fight scenes and the scratch and sniff element had them in stitches - especially sniff number 6 - a bodily function smell no less!!

We hadn't seen the previous spy movies which I hear were far superior but at the end of the day, if the kids are happy then so am I!

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Review

Since I became a mum nearly 8 years ago (wow, that whizzed by) my beauty regime has changed.  Now it's all about multi-tasking and by this I mean emailing a client whilst watching the boys playing tennis or using a product that takes seconds to apply and does lots of things such as highlight, gloss and prime.

Working in the glamourous world of TV advertising in London during the 90s meant I spent quite a few lunch hours browsing the amazing beauty halls of Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols.  I was always testing, smelling and buying.  Flying around the World also meant I was in duty free at least once a month and so had ample chance to but my favourites at duty free prices but the best thing about flying everywhere was the chance to have a nosy in the local chemists for all those regional brands that are often gems.

I used to be an avid cleanser, toner, moisturiser kind of girl, I used to love the whole routine of taking the day off and applying a luxurious night cream but since having kids, I have changed my regime in that I want to get as clean as I can, as quickly as I can before falling into bed.  In truth, I had got lazy and despite still applying the "works" most days (unless I was having a Red Lipstick Day ) I was just using an all in one wipe to get rid of the dirt/make up.  Definately the slatterns way to getting clean skin.  Although, my skin was clean, it was never really clear and then I had a revelation.

How can one product (a wipe) do the job of a cleanser/toner and in some cases even moisturise?  The answer is they can't.  Don't get me wrong, they can do all of the above, but what they can't do is do the job properly.

Let me introduce you to the  Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser .  I was feeling decidedly uninspired by my old routine and decided to overhaul my regime and the first port of call was getting rid of the face wipes.

Liz Earle sent me the Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth cleanser to review and as I had read and heard amazing reports about this, I was very keen to try it out.  In the past I had used the Eve Lom system (very similar but lots more money) and was keen to see how the Liz Earle version compared.

This arrived beautifully packaged with a note to tell me who had checked and packed the cleanser (nice personal touch) and came in a lovely draw string bag with 2 muslin cloths.  It's packed full of natural ingredients such as eucaluptus and cocoa butter and it is suitable for every age and skin type hence why Liz Earle only makes one cleaner in the entire range.

Stage 1 - Cleansing

I used 2 squirts of the pump which I then applied to my face.  The first thing that hits you is the smell, it's a very natural smell, unlike the purfumey wipes I have been using of late.  It is also very thick and creamy and it is cooling to apply.  I massaged this into my skin, leaving my eyes until last (so as not to smudge mascara everywhere).    Time taken 30 seconds.

Stage 2 - Polishing

Using the muslin cloth you then remove the cream.  The trick here is to soak the muslin in a hot basin of water ( the hotter the better I have found) and repeat until the cream has gone.  This stage not only takes the cream off whilst remocing dea skin cells, it also opens the pores due to the heat and you get a really good, thorough clean.  It is them recommended that you splash cold water on your face, but again, I have been soaking the muslin in cold tap water and using this to close the pores.

Time taken 60 seconds.

So, what do I think?  Have I seen a difference?

Firstly, I cannot believe how clean my skin felt after the first time of using this.  It was quite remarkable and not only did it feel clean, it was also incredibly soft.  I was hooked from the first application and when you look at how it only takes me 2 minutes to do (comparable to wipes) you can see why I am loving the results.

It was interesting that I had a breakout of spots (rarely get spots) on days 3 - 7 but I persevered and my skin is now clean, clear and incredibly soft.  I belive this was my skin getting used to be clean again and having a purge od grime and excess oil.

I can't recommend this highly enough and I am going to be investigating the rest of the range as I think that using this in conjunction with the skin tonic and skin repair moisturiser will compliment the already fantastic results.

This starts at £5.10 for a 30ml tube.

Super Amazing Mum Says:

Value for Money:  10/10
Brand Credentials: 10/10 Not only are all ingredients natural, they are also ethically sourced. 
Packaging: 6/10 Easy to use and recycleable.  The box the cleaner came in though was massive.  No need to have sent it is such a big box.
Smell: 7/10 Very natural, not unplesant but took a while to get used to.
Ease of Use: 10/10 I am loving being back in a set routine and it honestly takes me less time to do than the wipes of old.

Overall Score: 43/50. 

Overall Impression:

A great, value for money luxurious product.  I am not surprised that this has won numerous awards in the beauty industry and I am looking forward to discovering more of the range and reporting back!

Peace and Love

S.A.M xxx

Getting rid of a dummy............

or rather, how do I get rid of several? 

First, a bit of history....Pixie is 2 and 9 months.  She has had a dummy since she was weeny.  I HATE dummies, I think they look awful and always vowed that no child of mine would ever have one.  How things change!

I am a massive fan of breast-feeding.  Both the boys were breastfed until they were over a year and I presumed that Pixie would also follow suit.  However, despite having an over supply of milk for the boys, I didn't have ANY milk whatsoever for Pixie.  This was put down to my under active thyroid and I persevered as she had a good latch and suck reflux.  However, she ended up in hospital on a drip and it was then I had my wake up call and realised/accepted that she wasn't going to thrive if I couldn't provide.   She was put onto bottles and flourished.

However, those long, milky feeds never happened.  She would down her bottles (less than 10 minutes)  and still be rooting around and I was advised to give her a dummy to help soothe her.  Stupidly I did.....

Fast forward to nearly 3 years later and this is what I have:

She is addicted.  She has only ever had a dummy at bedtime but increasingly, I am finding her with one (or 2) in her gob.  I take then off her and it's world war 3.  She tells me "I go sleep on sofa though mummy" or "It's late".  I have said in reply "well go to bed then darling" but she won't have any of it.  I take them off her, distract her and she goes nuts.  It's getting worse and I know we are going to have to have an Almighty battle on our hands from the headstrong Pixie who says that "Dodo is my best friend".

It's also having an impact on MY sleep.  At least once a night we will hear a wail of "can't find my Dodo mummy" and one of us has to search for the elusive dummy.  She goes to bed with several and they always go missing. 

Now she has got "favourites".  She spent 20 minutes last night wailing "only want the yellow one" which of course we couldn't find.  I think it's time for the dummy fairy to pay a visit.  Will this even work?!

So, who has got rid of the Dodo and how do I make this one extinct?!  I fear it's me that's been the dummy in the first place........

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Super Amazing Mum LOVES....Bright Red Lipstick!

Every week I am going to give you a glimpse into something or someone that is rocking my regime. Last week I was loving First Aid Beauty and this week I am actually going to let you in on one of my top beauty secrets. (shhhhh, don't tell everyone!)

This secret is something I thought I would never be able to carry off, but with age comes experience and I have now worked out how to rock a bright red lipstick.  In fact, I would go so far as to say it has become my trademark.  Over the years I have experimented, often ending up looking like a clown, but the secret is to try lots of different reds as there are blue toned reds and yellow toned reds.

Now, what is the benefit of this and why do I like it so much?

I think the answer lies in the fact that it is the master of disguise.  Let me explain.....

If you are feeling rough/tired/hungover/running late on the school run then all you need to do to make yourself look human is to slick on a slash of red lipstick.  It is quite simply a distraction, it makes your teeth look whiter (check out my pearls above!) and detracts from the dark circles/bed hair as people automatically focus on your lips (how can they NOT it's that bright?!) and say "wow, you look amazing" or "you look really well".  This is my tried and tested method, and it also gives you so much confidence.  I can't explain why, I think it's because it makes you look polished.

My absolute favourite red is by Chanel (a la Madame Coco herself) but I have recently fallen in love with a No7 Lip gloss (lust) that is channelling Jerry Hall circa 1978. 

Do you wear red lipstick?  If so, what is your favourite shade?

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Saturday Song

Home Made Rose Lemonade Recipe

If you are looking for a refreshing summer drink that is non alcoholic but utterly delicious then you couldn't go far wrong with home made Rose Lemonade.  I made it for the first time this week after trying the utterly gorgeous fentimans rose lemonade at a national trust property but at over £2 a bottle, I wanted to see if I could replicate this at home. 

First, you need to make a basic homemade lemonade.  If you haven't tried this before, then I can HIGHLY recommend as it is just so refreshing and scrumptious!

Home Made Lemonade:

You will need:

The juice of 6 lemons
2 pints of water (I always use soda water to get the "fizz" but it is also lovely with still water)
4-6oz caster sugar (start of with 4oz and add as necessary until you get "your" acquired taste. )

Mix all the ingredients together in a large pitcher until the sugar has dissolved.  You can then chill in the fridge and serve with lots of ice when ready!  If you are not going for the rose version, then slice a few lemons and garnish with mint.

Rose Lemonade

To make this into Rose Lemonade, all you need to do is add rose water.  You can buy this in the international section of your supermarket but I get mine from the Asian food market,  a huge bottle for less than £2.

I added 3 teaspoons to my pitcher which gave me the most refreshing, delicious drink.  It really is quite a different taste and is utterly delicious.  Serve over ice with mint to garnish,

Let me know how you get on!

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Kate Moss and Jamie Hince's Wedding Photos US Vogue 2011

Whatever you think of Kate Moss, I bet you'd love a look at her wedding photographs taken by the legend and one of my favourite ever photographers Mario Testino .  Her wedding was the "other" biggie of this year and I was just as curious to see what she would be wearing as I was for a certain other Kate.....

So without further ado, here's a sneaky peek of her beautiful photographs, all taken by Mario Testino for US Vogue:

Kate Moss Wedding Veil in her Boudoir - loving the leopard print carpet and lots of shoes!

Father of the Bride Peter Moss with his daughter Kate and Lila Grace

Lila Grace aged 8 attends to her mothers train - CUTE!

The beautiful 12th Century Village Church

The Bridesmaids and Flower Girls wearing Bonpoint lead Kate down the Delphinium and Daisy lined walk to the church

Mr and Mrs J Hince re-creating the iconic photograph of Mick and Bianca Jagger at their 1971 wedding wearing Tom Ford velvet and fur coat.

Spontaneous or posed? You decide.

The angelic flowergirls and pageboys - this is my favourite photo!!

Kate Moss with her Matrons of Honour including Sadie Frost, Stella McCartney and several ducks

Inside the Marque cut glass crystal and beautiful garden flowers with stunning vintage tea roses

The beautiful traditional 6 tier cake designed by Peggy Porschen

US Vogue September 2011 on sale now.

Beautiful photographs, beautiful people. I hope that Kate Moss and Jamie Hince have a long and very happy marriage!  What do you think of the photographs?

Peace and Love

S.A.M xxx

Sunday, 14 August 2011

"Mum, that is SOOOOOO not cool"

Yesterday after his little visit to Hospital A + E we decided to let Beansy stay up late and watch Harry Potter. We are reading the books at the moment and I won't let him watch the relevant film until we have finished the book.  Luckily for him, we had just finished the book and so settled down to watch "The order of the Phoenix" once the little ones had gone to bed

We were having a lovely time.  HAW, Beansey and I all snuggled under the blanket and watching the film, I am not going to go on about Harry Potter as you are either a fan or not, but in this particular year, Harry gets to snog his girlfriend.

Now Beansy is very nearly 8 and I would say starting to understand the "birds and the bees".  Girls have gone from being "yucky" to being "yucky but I still quite like you" and he is definitely starting to get body conscious.  Whereas he used to parade around the gym changing rooms in the noody, he now changes under a towel.  All normal, all good and all quite sweet.

Anyway, back to Harry - he gets his kiss, Beansey goes all silly going "oooooohhhhhhh" and we forget all about it.

Later, when I am putting him to bed I give him kisses all over his face (always done a very dramatic mwah, mwah on their cheeks, eyes, forehead etc)  and he says "mum, that is soooooo not cool".  I ask him what he is talking about and he says "Kissing me all over like that". 

So I ask him what sort of kissing is cool....

His answer "When Harry kisses Cho is VERY COOL and you are NOT kissing me like that!!"

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Super Amazing Mum Loves.....FAB First Aid Beauty

There are quite literally thousands of beauty products on the shelves at any given time and it can be quite a daunting task to pick the cream of the crop.  I have boxes full of products that I have bought either on a whim or  that I have only used a few times as it didn't suit my skin type or colouring.

Every week I am going to give you a glimpse into my beauty routine and highlight something that is rocking my regime (note to self, must do a badge and set up linky (rocking my regime as a name anyone?) as would love to hear about your beauty finds!

First up this week is FAB 5 in 1 Face Cream which is a true multi-tasker.  The F.A.B (First Age Beauty) range launched in the UK back in March and was an immediate sell-out.  It has a cult following and what I like best about it is the fact that it is dermatologist tested and has no harsh chemicals.

I have normal skin and this cream feels very thick at first.  When I initially started using it I thought it was too think but I was amazed at how quickly it sunk into my skin and left it wonderfully soft and not at all greasy.  It has an SPF30 and anti-aging ingredients which is what everyone should be using to combat fine lines and wrinkles!

I have been using this for a while now and give it the following score:

Packaging:    8/10 I like the retro feel and look
Smell: 5/10 Nondescript
Effectiveness: 9/10 I love the texture and the fact it has a SPF30

If you head on over to F.A.B Facebook page you can get a code to get £5 off a £20 spend on the Boots website.  You need to hurry though as I have just seen that it ends today!!

I am going to try the Detox Eye Roller which looks F.A.B! 

What are your beauty "must-haves" or discoveries of late?  I would love to know and share our finds.

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Holidays wouldn't be the Holidays if I didn't have a trip to A+E now would they??!

Yesterday started full of promise - HAW was leaving work early so that we could go for a pub tea and a lovely walk/swim in the Country (we have an amazing, secluded spot for some river swimming that has a wonderful sandy bank and lovely clean, warm shallow water that also happens to be very close to a lovely, lovely Country pub that has amazing food and caters for kids - WIN/WIN situation) and we had all been looking forward doing one of our favourite things.

 However, I still had the morning and mid-afternoon to contend with and so called a few friends together and we headed off to one of our favourite parks.  To get to the park you need to walk through fields of horses and the kids love to feed them on the way.  Once you get to the park there is a huge enclosed play park that has all manner of play equipment from rope swings, to climbing walls and plenty of dens all surrounding a massive paddling pool.  It is the perfect play space as the kids are safe but have lots of space to roam and be free.  There are also tennis and basketball courts and a lovely flat HUGE green grassy area (perfect for cricket) plus a pavillion that does amazing coffee and kids lunchboxes for £2.80.  Again another WIN/WIN situation.  This really is the perfect venue for safe, clean, free fun!

We arrived about 10am and the kids happily spent the next few hours splashing in and out of the paddling pool, making dens/camps, playing cricket, having running races and generally just having a lovely time. 


After lunch, the kids decided to have a "battle".  This involved them splitting into 2 teams, each with their own "base" and then it was water pistols at the ready.  The game involved them squirting the other team and trying to get into their "camp".  All good, clean, innocent fun, I even joined in at one point, child that I am! 

Then, right in front of me "Captain Jack Sparrow" a.k.a Beansey jumped onto the bottom of the slide (he was trying to storm the camp) and slipped.  I heard a "klunk" then my poor boy had blood pouring out of his mouth.  He started to sob (he never cries so I knew it was bad) and when I looked he had a hole in his lip.  So off we went to A+E........

Four X-rays and a visit to the hospital dentist later ( his big tooth was ever so slightly wobbly) he had the gash glued and a diagnosis of a concussed tooth (have you ever heard of that before? No, me neither) which basically means that his big tooth had deep bruising, he was very lucky not to have lost it and now sports a rather large steri strip over his gob (still too loud though sonny!) with a pout that would give Mrs Jolie-Pitt a run for her money.

What with my BoBo going to A+E Last Half Term and now Beansey getting in on the act, it seems I have a pair of real life action men. I would much rather they had a free childhood full of running and fresh air with a couple of scrapes and scars along the way, rather than one stuck inside on computer games (and believe you me, I know kids who spend most of the day on their games consoles).

We didn't make it to the river or the pub, but I did have a HUGE glass of wine last night so all's well that ends well!

Peace and Love

S.A.M xxxx

Saturday Song

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Christmas 2011 - Vtech Innotab the kids "ipad" Review

A few weeks ago I blogged about Christmas 2011 must have toys but missing from my list was the Vtech Innotab.  I wasn't aware of this then but my goodness me, this now has to go to the top of our list for must have Christmas toys 2011!

What is this I hear you ask?  It is none other than the very first children's tablet that is being billed as "an ipad for kids".  It is a revolutionary multimedia touch screen tablet that has been designed especially for children aged 4-9 years old and it combines education games, apps, activities and ebooks all on a 5" LCD touch screen that rotates from landscape to portrait as the ipad does.

Have a look at the preview here:

My kids are all obsessed with my ipad.  I am amazed at how Beansey has learnt his times tables and how Pixie (who is just 2 remember) can play an very good educational game about colours, shapes and numbers - it is a GREAT tool when we are on quiet journeys or for when I need them to sit still and be quiet for 10 mins (like when I am in the dentists chair!) However, it is also VERY addictive and at least one of them will say at some stage during the day "mummy, can I go on your ipad please". 

We don't have an xbox and I am the "World's Worst Mum" according to Beansy as I won't let him have a DS or TV in his room - I strongly believe that families should not be shut off in separate rooms of the house - kids on DS's, parents on laptops and no family interaction.  I limit "my" laptop time to when they are in bed, but I do admit that it is very addictive as I am always checking my phone surreptitiously. 

The innotab comes with an e-reader, music, photos, videos games and an art studio - you can link it up to other vtech systems including the Kiddizoom digital camera which is fabulous.
What appeals to me is that the innotab allows children to develop key skills in reading, writing, spelling, maths logic and creativity but in a fun way. 

So, did it meet up to my expectations??

I have to be honest here and say I think the concept is AMAZING but the execution could be better.  The tabs we were testing were rather slow (in comparison to my ipad) although I was told that this was because they were running from SD cards (I think from memory).  Aside from this, the apps were great and educational.  The fact that you can download software onto your home computer and track your child's progress is great. The innotab is going to retail at around £80 with software costing around £25.

I think the innotab is great value for money but I do think the software is expensive.  You could compare the cost to console games but the graphics are nowhere near as good as the consoles.  However, they have great games and activities from Toy Story to the Disney Princesses although I would like to see other less commercial partnerships.

So, that's what I think now over to the kids (because, let's be honest, it's not going to be me playing on it is it, I'll just be paying)

They ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT.  I mean in the presentation my Beansey seriously asked about 10 questions.  His hand never went down and he hasn't stopped talking about it since and has told all his friends.  BoBo at 5 was just as enthralled but in his more subdued kind of way.  As for Pixie, well despite this being aimed at 4-8 year olds, she was away and loving it as well!

Overall we think this is brilliant, your children can learn fun facts and native languages with the World Map app and download their photos from a PC or SD card.  The fact they can have their own MP3 player means they can listen to their own music without hijacking my ipod!  Their is even an app store called the Vtech Learning Lodge Navigator where they can download additional books.

I am going to get my crystal ball out here and say that if you like the sound of the vtech innotab for a Christmas present, then you need to get your name on a waiting list NOW.  This is (in my opinion) going to be the Christmas 2011 best selling toy/gadget and as an Apple obsessed ipad mummy, I for one, can't wait to get rid of those sticky finger prints on my ipad!

Peace and Love

S.A.M  xx

Disclaimer: We were invited to a rather lovely London hotel for the launch of the innotab and treated to a lovely spread which included the most amazing sausage roll.  We were also given a voucher for an innotab which I will be redeeming in the not to distant future.  This has not affected my review of this product and all views are mine and mine alone with a little bit of input from the angels with dirty faces.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

What are you telling your children about the riots?

I have spent the last 24 hours watching the new on a loop.  I grew up in Clapham (around the corner from Lavander Hill)  then moved to Surrey, not a million miles away from Croydon and certainly close enough to spend many a drunken night at the local haunts with friends.   Every Saturday as a teenage I used to go to Syliva Young Theatre School and part of my journey was spent waiting for a bus at Reeves Corner.  Indeed, many a night was spent waiting outside the taxi rank at Reeves Corner waiting to go home.  We socialise in the many bars and restaurants on Lavander Hill and I have had my hair cut in Headmasters.  BoBo's godmother lives in Lavander Sweep at the top of the Hill.  The rioting that was going on last night was local to me, It was in "my" part of London and as the drama unfolded, so to did my anger and disgust.

Who are these people?  Why are they attacking their own communities? 

This is the underbelly of society, the "Jeremy Kyle" generation raised on a diet of junk and "Grand Theft Auto".   The youngest arrest so far is 10 years old.  10 YEARS OLD- that is 2 years older than my Beansy.  What I have seen has shocked me - A shopkeeper in Hackney weeping as he laid wet towels around his shopfront, A mother jumping from her burning house in Croydon not to mention 5 generations worth of pure hard graft for the Reeves family whose furniture store so tragically burnt down in Croydon.  I have seen footage of a bleeding youth, helped to his feet by a "kindly" youth who then goes on to MUG HIM in broad daylight.  I have seen numerous cars and vans on fire, I have seen policemen attacked and cars overturned. 

The majority of the people I see acting like this are young, this is no organised "gang" crime, this is young people who are trying their luck for a bit of "fun".   An opportunity to blag some new trainers or mobile phone.  This is their ENTERTAINMENT.  They don't care about what they are doing, who they are hurting.  There are no consequences for their actions.

I am appalled.  I am angry and I am sad.

My children for the first time are aware that "something" is going on.  They have seen news reports and newspapers and they are asking questions.

Why are they doing that mummy?
I thought the police were goodies?
What happened to that lady?
Why are they stealing?
Why aren't the police stopping them?
What will happen to the things they are stealing?
What will their parents say when they bring the things home?
Why doesn't their mummy tell them off?
Why do they want to hurt people?
When will it stop?

I am no politician or sociologist.  I have my views and opinions but to be quite frank, I am not going to air them to my children. So, the answer is, I can't answer my children's questions. 

Can you?

Monday, 8 August 2011

5 things I would change about myself

Kate over at Kate Takes 5 has decided that this weeks listography is 5 things I would change about myself.  So without further ado, here are the things that need improving!!

1) Patience

Here's a opportunity to have a perve at take that as they tell me to "have a little patience" whilst you read the rest of my nonsense.  I didn't realise that having kids (durrr) would push my limits of patience to the very edge.  I am obviously either a)very impatient or b)very efficient.  I like to think B but we all know the reality is that it is A!

To be less control freaky/perfectionist

Yep, there I said it...I am a control freak.  Again, I didn't realise this until I had kids but for 15 years I was running big accounts worth millions and had a team working for me and so *had* to be in control.  I am slowly but surely getting better at this but find myself sitting on my fingers when the kids are say colouring as it irritates me if they go over the lines (naughty mummy!) 

To be less SHOUTY

I always vowed that when I had kids that I wouldn't be a shouty mum.  I had visions of wafting around with 3 kids hanging off my apron strings whilst I baked fairy cakes and they quietly and obediently followed my instructions, that they would get dressed the first time I asked, that they wouldn't fight over toys or for my attention that they would serenely wander around like the kids in the Joules catalogue......................HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA that is all I have to say on that one. 
4) To change my addictive personality

I have come to realise that I have an addictive personality - it has shown it's form in various guises over the years (which I won't be blogging about) and it takes me a while to realise that I am in the throes of an addiction.  I believe that this is part of my genetic make up and I nearly always replace one addiction with another.  Some of them have lasted for years, some I obsess over and then get bored of very quickly.   Am learning to deal with it.

I actually can't think of a 5th thing I would like to change so instead, I'll leave you with this quote which is one of my favourites.

Peace and Love

S.A.M xxx

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Lollibop 2011 - A review and top tips!

Lollibop is billed as "the big bash for little people" and as HAW and Beansey were playing golf today, I decided to take BoBo and Pixie along to see what all the fuss was about.   We arrived at 11am and left at 7pm so really got a good chance to experience the whole festival.   Here are my top tips for surviving and enjoying Lollibop:

1) If you can't stand queuing, then please do not even attempt to go.  I kid you not when I say that you will spend most of the day in a queue.  We planned what we wanted to do and then adapted that according to queue size.   Trampolines (only 6/8 at a kids festival WTF?!) didn't even get a look in.   If you have a child who fancies Spider Tower, Go-Karts or getting their face painted, then do that first or save it until last thing.  Otherwise you'll be queuing for upto an hour.

2) You have to make a visit to the YogaBugs tent.  It was the perfect respite for queue weary kids and it was very well put together.  Not busy, a lovely story with lots of interaction.  It lasted about 20 minutes and was just the right amount of relaxation.

  3) The Enchanted Forest a lovey area - you had the magical fairy and wizard school where you could make you own bespoke wand  (take wipes, it gets messy) fairy wings and best of all, find out how to adopt a fairy - I'll say no more but it was magical.  Also worth a visit is the Story Telling tent with toadstools outside, this was a lovely area with lots of colouring and drawing and lots of lovely chilled out cushions to sit on (as well as toadstools!).

4) Rastamouse - was awesome, really really good and got the whole crowd up on their feet.  It was a real scrum to get close to the stage but from my experience the kids will just love to run, jump and dance around.  We were lucky enough to be VIP's and got to meet Rastamouse backstage at a tea party - he rocked!

5) Waybuloo - Mine haven't watched this for a long time but they loved the Alfresco bandstand as it was much smaller than the main stage and so they were able to get to the front.

6) Bring a picnic, seriously guys, the waiting time for food was absolutely ridiculous.  We tried around 3pm so not even in peak time and were waiting for a very long time for ok-ish food.  Oh, and ice-creams £2.50 (!) for a 99! 

7) The H+M Itsy Bitsy Strictly tent was AWESOME, we learnt how to dance like a Bollywood star as well as throw some shapes to some classic Baby Loves Disco tunes from the 70s to the present day.  We all had a really good boogie and I am going to investigate BLD as a little trip out. 

8) Minimission - The Ibizan style club for the whole family and quite conveniently situated next to the adult creche (bar!).  WE got our groove on the the chillout tunes and this totally ROCKED.  Save this to the end of the day, it was great to sit and listen to good music whilst the kids let off (even more!) steam.

9) Be prepared to spend money - when it says everything is included, it means everything bar balloons (£5) Bubble Swords (£9) fairy wands and other things that you usually end up buying.  Be careful of the massage chairs, then tempt you over, get you comfy and then tell you it is £20. 

10) A lot of things you need to book - eg Gymboree sessions, Jamie Oliver Fifteen Pizza making.  If this is something you want to do then I advise you to book at the start of your day.

11) Wear flats - DO NOT attempt to wear wedges for 8 hours *ahem* your feet will thank you for it.

12) When meeting Ben + Holly and Peppa Pig, be aware that you won't be able to snuggle up to them, they are almost in a pen with barriers which stops you from getting close which is a shame as no photo opportunities.  However, the kids won't care, I just think it would have been a nice memento.

13) Enjoy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  We had a truly magical day despite the queues and extra (expensive) costs it was a really lovely family fun-filled day out and as long as you go prepared with the information above, you will have an amazing day - I personally can't wait for Lollibop 2012.

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Friday, 5 August 2011

Old Fashioned Kids Games - do you remember these??

If you don't tweet with Paul who owns When I was a Kid the online traditional toy shop, then you really need to - he is a lovely guy and always up for a bit of banter on twitter.  This week we have been talking about old fashioned wigwams (my boys are desperate for one and I refuse to spend that much money on a whim) and he was trying to tell me to make them one (have you seen my sewing skills?!) we are VERY good at putting a sheet over the line but the boys are wanting something a bit more "secret den" than that.  If anyone wants to make me one, then please do get in touch!

Anyway, I digress, we got talking about the games we used to play as kids and I couldn't believe that neither Paul or his wife knew how to play 40/40......A classic game if ever there was one!  So it got me wondering, are these games regional?  What did you play as a child?

Super Amazing Toddler with my Super Amazing Brother my partner in crime (grime)

Here are a selection of the games we used to play:

1) 40/40

It's a cross between hide and seek and IT and we played it daily on our cul-de-sac. One person counts  to 40 at the "Homie" whilst the others all hide.  Once the person gets to 40, they go and search for the others - if they see someone hiding, they run back and say "40/40 I see Susie, hiding behind the car".  Susie then comes out.  The object is for someone to get back to base and say "40/40 I save all" and everyone is saved.  If nobody "saves all" then the first person to be spotted becomes the counter.

2) Drain Marbles

I actually think this is very regional (London) as nobody ever knows what I am talking about when I tell them about this.  You basically find a drain on the floor (rectangular one) that has a smaller rectangle in the middle which becomes HOME.  The aim of the game is to get your marble into the middle rectangle.  If you do, then you can take your opponents go and if you get their marble into the rectangle then you win. 

3) Red Rover

"Red Rover, Red Rover, we want Pixie over"

What happened to this?! I expect it went out of fashion when "'elf and safety" got their grubby mitts on it (along with tree climbing and British Bulldog which incidentally we still play at Rugby) but it is a great, energetic and fun game!  You basically spilt into 2 teams (works best in neighbourhoods) of about 8-10 per side.  You stand about 50 yards apart opposite each other and all hold hands. You then say "red rover, red rover we want X over" and that person has to then break through the chain that the other team, if they break through they return to their team, if they don't then they join that team.  The winner is the last person left standing!!

4) Sardines

A variation of hide and seek and we loved playing this as well - one person runs and hides whilst the others all count to 100,  you all go in different directions and as you find the hider you then stay with them.  The last person to find the other kids then becomes the 1st sardine.  In my day we had the freedom to go into each others houses/gardens/sheds/garages so it used to take a very long time.  I hope my kids get to play this in the way that i did.

5) Knock down Ginger!

My favourite game EVER and I will be initiating my kids into this at some stage.  You basically egg each  other on to go up the path of someone (angry neighbour, sour old lady, grumpy mum) knock on the door and then run and hide and watch them open the door to find nobody there.  If you were really brave you would do the same person time after time!  Naughty but oh so nice!

We also loved French Skipping, Queenie, Queenie, Kiss Chase, Leap Frog and Hopscotch and a very elaborate game of Cowboys and Indians that lasted the whole of the summer.  I recently played hopscotch with my kids for over and hour and we all loved it!

I say that kids today need more "scream time" and less "screen time" and this is why mine don't have xboxes, DS's or TVs in their bedrooms and why most days we can be found outside running and playing after school to let of some steam.

So, what are your top 5 games from when you were a kid?  Do you play them with your kids today? 

Peace and Love

S.A.M xxx