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Cheaper than therapy

Hubble Bubble Toil and a BRILLIANT new app! Mwah ha ha ha…

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!! 

I am sorry to go all American on you, but the facts of the matter are that this ‘holiday’ is becoming a pretty big deal over here too.

The Guardian (yup, I’m one of those parents) informs me that we will spend £300 million on ‘All Hallows Eve’ this year and that looks set to continue to grow…Now, I don’t want to pummel your pumpkin or anything but, I ain’t made of money so, this year I am thinking outside the box for cheap tricks (and treats) to keep my little witches entertained so, when Mumsnet were looking for families to review a free new app I was keen to get involved.

Enter Not on The High Street and their wicked FREE story time sound app.

NOTHS image

 

As you may or may not know, I absolutely love a good book. I think encouraging kids to read is so important and the times that we spend together snuggling up with a good book are some of my favorites and the addition of a sound app makes the whole thing even better.

Now, since my little witches are only 1 and 3, I would not be so bold as to tell you how to parent but, if you’re interested, I introduced the story time sounds in our den. I hid the Ipad under the blanket and began to read adding in appropriate sounds as and when the story allowed.

I LOVE IT.

The girls were so surprised to hear the sounds and couldn’t figure out where they were coming from so it was a fantastic giggle and a really enjoyable experience for us all.

 

I know I'm not in the den in this pic...I am not an octopus and couldn't figure out the app, the camera, the book...answers on a comment!

I know I’m not in the den in this pic…I am not an octopus and couldn’t figure out the app, the camera, the book…answers on a comment!

 

The app and the variety of sounds is a brilliant way of encouraging the kids to use their imagination and it partners really well with a book called You Choose which uses pictures as prompts for story creation and development- adding sounds into the equation just makes the whole thing even more fun for everyone.

I’ll say again, I love it!

Obviously for today, the Halloween sound board is the most suitable and NOTH have thunk up a short story to get you started but it is even better if you (or the kids) can think up your own and then read it aloud with a torch under your chin!

Download it for free here, it is aimed at 3-7 year olds but I would say that younger and older kids will enjoy it too. I’d love to know what you think of it.

Halloween

I am keeping my fingers crossed that there are more sound boards to come but in the meantime this is keeping me and the girls more than a little entertained.
Our favourite is monster cry but to be honest there is a sound for all story’s and all moods; for example, I have started to announce my hair-brained schemes to Mr L with the Fanfare sound which, as I am sure you can imagine has gone down swimmingly.
I’m thinking next time he advises me to do something ridiculous like find a job I’ll respond with the witches cackle. Oh yes, there’s no end of fun to be had here!
This kiss, the cackle and the dragon are a realistic depiction of yours truly!

This kiss, the cackle and the dragon are a realistic depiction of yours truly!

I hope you have a very happy Halloween and, to start you off, here’s my raw and uncut version of  The Little Witch who couldn’t be Scary, by Leona Ford.

Love Muma.
XxxX
PS- I am not intentionally looking scary, it’s just a no make up day! xx
PPS- This app is free to download and, as ever, all views and opinions are my own. This post however does act as my entry into a competition to win £400’s worth of NOTH vouchers.
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One for You, One for Me (A Saturday Book Review #6)

WOO HOO! It’s Saturday, THE WEEKEND. Grab a cuppa and chill out!

Obviously, if you’re a parent it doesn’t quite spell a day off but occasionally  you get big fat treat days like today which shall henceforth be known as

Lion King Day and cocktails in town with my Besties Day!

Mr L is happy because his bro is visiting and the World Cup is on. In short, It’s all good in the hood!

I am really pleased that so many of you are enjoying this little book review feature. As I have said before, I think that encouraging a child to take an interest in books and reading is so important and, on occasion, I allow myself to daydream about future Saturdays when our little family will relax in companionable silence reading…HA HA HA!!

Anyway, for the time being we are still very much reading together and this is what’s been a hit this week…

One for You: My BIG Readalong Fairytale Book (from M&S) if I was smart, this would be an affiliate link…it isn’t! Books for under 5's

This is yet another of our old faithfuls- a brilliant collection of 8 classic fairytales which have been abridged so they are just the correct length for toddlers. Another gift (people are so generous aren’t they? THANKS Tricia and co!) and a book which has a very long shelf life. Initially you can look at the pictures together and read the story together. In time your child will begin to remember the story, point out different parts of the pictures and perhaps recognise (or know by memory) some of the written words. Eventually this will become them wanting to read the text and that’s it, job done. Get yourselves a paper and look forward to your weekends of bliss!..perhaps!

Anyway, The pictures are big and bold and the text is large and clear. My only recommendation might be for the pages to be slightly thicker but, on the flip side, we always have sellotape and kids need to know how to treat books so it’s not a big thing M&S, don’t change it on our account.Books for under 5s

The ‘read along’ element comes from the fact that on each of the right hand pages there is a sentence for your child to read and, at the end of each story there are some questions which enables your child to point out key characters and begin to recognise words when linked with pictures.

Marks and Sparks have a really good range of read along kids books including traditional tales, nursery rhymes etc. They’re definitely worth a look. I’m a big M&S fan across most of their ranges- not so much mens wear if I’m truthful, all seems a little cord slacks and deck shoes but- well worth a look for all things kids I reckon (and underwear…I love their underwear!)

 

One for Me: The Skeleton Cupboard; The making of a clinical psychologist, By Tanya Byron.

Last year, I heard Dr Tanya Byron speak at Blogfest and frankly, I developed a bit of a girl crush on her. If you read her biog from Blogfest, it shouldn’t be hard to see why:

Prof Tanya Byron

Tanya is a consultant clinical psychologist who specialises in child and adolescent mental health. She’s written three parenting books, has a weekly column in The Times and the Saturday Times, and published the ground-breaking Byron Review into children, young people and digital media in 2008. Earlier this year she launched C4’s Bedtime Live – and she also co-writes comedy with Jennifer Saunders (including The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle, BBC2) – now, you didn’t know that, did you? 

 Being a Times Bird, I like to imagine that she and Caitlin Moran sometimes hang out together putting the world to rights. I’d go for a beer with them if they asked.

Anyway, when Mumsnet sent an email looking for people to review her latest book, I absolutely jumped at the chance. I am so glad I did. I LOVE THIS BOOK (and not just because of the crush thing!)

In an attempt to do a proper review, I stuck post its to pages where there was something I wanted to relay to you, quotes or scenarios or descriptions but in the end it became a total waste of sticky, luminous paper.

The book is divided into 6 chapters each of which introduces a fictional character and their individual stories and history. They also describe how Tanya felt throughout her training, how emotionally challenging it was and how woefully under prepared she felt at times. The stories are an amalgamation of the experiences Tanya had and the people she met during her training but none are based on specific individuals for obvious reasons.

Each of the chapters can be read as ‘stand alone’ stories so, if you only get snatches of time to read then this could work well for you but, be warned- they might pull you in. These not real, but real, men, women and children will engage with you and make you will them better. I thought that (whilst I obviously wish that these stories didn’t exist) it was very well written and a compelling and emotional (not in a cry on the train sort of way, more a sort of sadness that people experience some things) read.

I empathised most with chapter 2, Imogen’s story. Having worked closely with many children and young people over the years I absolutely know what she means about the responsibility you feel, the bonds you forge and the guilt you feel when something can’t be ‘fixed’. It reminded me of more than one of my kids.

Each of the chapters gives a really vivid insight into some of the stuff that goes on for people every day and the ways that they try to cope with things. Of course we all try to present our best selves when we head out of our front doors every morning. We smile and converse and do all of the day-to-day stuff because really, very few people actually want the honest answer when they ask ‘how are you’. This book gives an insight to what happens when the pretence slips away, when the mask cracks and when people need help. It is thought-provoking and beautifully done.

I don’t know if this book was of particular interest to me because I am inherently interested in psychology and the brain and the idea that some of us are a little bit ‘chicken oriental’ and others of us are regular, clever people with properly functioning brains. In the epilogue, which I particularly like, Tanya is so empathic and warm and clearly remains so very caring and committed to those with mental health issues. I am so, so very grateful that there are people like her out there that, despite their time ‘in the field’ dealing with really difficult situations, they still have the desire to inform and educate and encourage debate to try to make us a society that cares a bit more.

Verdict; If you are interested in people and want to feel reassured that there are still people in vocational roles that deeply and truly care about the people they work with, read this. It will make you think about the way you view people and society and we should all try to do a bit of that from time to time.

Happy weekend my dears.

Loads of Love

Muma.

XxxX

I am linking up again with MammaMummyMum so, if you like all things literary, check it out by clicking the badge.

MamaMummyMum

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One for me, One for you; A Saturday Book Review #5

Hello Lovely People. How are you my precious little petals? I am fine, it is 8:04 on a Friday night, I am in my PJ’s, in bed with my laptop and keeping half an eye on DIY SOS- Obviously I’m expecting blubbing- anything can set me off now I’m a mum, films, adverts, books, happy things, sad things, anything. This week it’s in Manchester and the family are on a trip to the Blue Planet…we’ve been there sob- they’re just like us- sob!  Every single time I see this programme I cry. Anyway, this is meant to be a sane and rational book review so instead of going off on one of my usual tangents I am going to sick with the job in hand and tell you what you should be reading this week;

Just to recap before we kick off, here’s what you get each week; Family Leary choose two books each week to read and review. They might be something we already have, they might be something we’ve bought or borrowed or something we’ve been sent to review but, you will always get our genuine opinion; good, bad or ugly…

ONE FOR ME: This is a review of a real life grown up book- This could prove to be the down fall of this feature…me finding time to read a book each week and then tell you about it. If I start reviewing the TSS advice sheet you find in all good tampon boxes, you’ll know I’m struggling!

ONE FOR YOU: The YOU I am referring to here is my babies- so, this will be a children’s book that we have read and enjoyed. This shouldn’t be too tricky since both girls love books though for the little little they are used more as elements of an obstacle course as opposed to a literary educational tool! Finally Ready?!

Read the rest of this entry »

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One for me, One for you; A Saturday Book Review 4

Watcha! Happy Saturday People.

Learning my lesson from last week and taking heed of the stress less tips that Aviva has kindly sent me (more of which tomorrow) I am writing this way in advance of publishing, 2 days infact- yey me!

Infact, I am writing this in the sanctuary of one of my very favourite places. A bookshop cafe. Aaaahhh- Bliss!

There are few things in life that make me happier than perusing the shelves of a bookshop. I can easily lose an hour if left to my own devices with no one tugging at my coat and, happily, it seems that the girls are growing up to enjoy  the same (though obviously they need to be monitored lest they should try to escape and need rescuing by a random as they head for the door as happened in the bank this week, cue much tutting and eye rolling from the elderly of Heswall- oops!)

The only slight issue is that there is always so much I’d like to buy, read or give- I could spend a fortune. Thank goodness for libraries, charity shops and those book swap thingys. But, there is nothing quite like the feeling of a brand new book though and that is exactly what I have treated myself and the girls to this week- absolutely no need but I am pleased I did.

Anyway, incase you’re new to this; it’s pretty simple. Family Leary choose two books each week to read and review. They might be something we already have, they might be something we’ve bought or borrowed or something we’ve been sent to review but, you will always get our genuine opinion; good, bad or ugly…

ONE FOR ME: This is a review of a real life grown up book- This could prove to be the down fall of this feature…me finding time to read a book each week and then tell you about it. If I start reviewing the TSS advice sheet you find in all good tampon boxes, you’ll know I’m struggling!

ONE FOR YOU: The YOU I am referring to here is my babies- so, this will be a children’s book that we have read and enjoyed. This shouldn’t be too tricky since both girls love books though for the little little they are used more as elements of an obstacle course as opposed to a literary educational tool!

The weather this bank holiday is destined to be burgh so, if you do get the chance to get cosy nug with your brood or, on your own, settle in with a cuppa and blanket and get into a book. Here’s what we’ve been reading this week…

ONE FOR ME: 

ISBN: 9780857868787

ISBN: 9780857868787

 

This was recommended to me by the lovely Michael in Linghams. It is a world away from anything I would usually select, the font and the cover didn’t pull me in and, as he was using words like philosophy, maths and politics to describe the book I was basically thinking shiiiit, how am I going to politely get out of this one?? As it happened, I couldn’t think on my feet and so ended up taking it to the counter and handing over my cash. My expectations were that most of the book would go over my head.

I can’t really tell you too much about the premise of the book except to say, it is about a mathematician who is also a father and a husband. He isn’t doing too well at the latter two but reckons he’s got the first bit cracked. You will need to suspend reality. It includes maths and aliens and some poetry. Chic lit it is not.

I started reading the book in the hairdressers on Thursday afternoon and- honestly, if I hadn’t been there for a couple of hours with a head full of foils I think it would have been resigned to ‘the pile’. I loved the preface but it took me at least 70 pages to get into and I regularly felt that I was a bit too stupid for it, but, I am so so glad I persevered. More thanks to the hair appointment than any genuine persistence on my part.

It turned out to be one of the most touching, poignant, sad and beautiful books I have read. It captures perfectly the complexity of what it is to be human. Our need to love and be loved, the weird fact that we do so many things to make ourselves happy which we know, do not.

By the beginning of Part II, I was totally sold and, have found it impossible to find a quote which does not become a paragraph and then a chapter which would become me simply re-writing the whole book here for you and that my friends is called plagiarism. It is frowned upon. Matt Haig, the author, manages to write as if he is watching the family from an entirely different reality. The everyday, mundane tasks are given beautiful descriptions and the book made me look at life, my day-to-day life, in a beautiful rose-tinted hue.

If you are feeling tired and careworn and in need of reminding that, generally speaking the world is a good place, read this book. The chapter ‘Advice for a Human’ had me in tears.

Thanks Michael for the recommendation and Thank-you fate for the hair appointment!

 ONE FOR YOU: 

ISBN: 9780552547086

ISBN: 9780552547086

This book has been recommended to us by lots of people and I feel like we have barely dipped our teeny toes in the possibilities of it. It is fantastic!

You Choose is such a brilliant idea. I absolutely adore hearing the big little talking to her toys and making up games and stories for her and her sister each morning before Mr L or I head in to see them but, when I ask directly her to make a choice without giving her any examples she struggles- who doesn’t. You Choose takes away the pressure of pulling an idea out of the air as they have put hundreds of possibilities down on each page so, it is like reading a new book every time you open it. And, as your child’s imagination and knowledge of the world around them grows, so will the stories that you can create together.

So far we have:

  • Been to the moon with a pirate.
  • Lived in a Mushroom and a lighthouse.
  • And eaten lots of sausage and mash.

There is no set way to use this book so the possibilities are almost endless. You could build your story using the suggestions throughout the book or focus on just one or two pages.

I guarantee this will give you gallons of giggles and will provide opportunities to talk about loads of interesting topics with your toddler which will help you to learn more about each other and will leave you amazed with the amount going on in their minds.

Well done Nick and Pippa. I loved this book and think the girls are quite into it too!!

If I have tempted you to go out and buy them, please check here for your local shop, you know my views on Amazon don’t you?!

Have a wonderful weekend peeps…I’m off to a hen- I smell trouble!

Loads of Love

Muma.

XxxX

 

I have linked this up with the Read with me linky from MammaMummyMum- check it out by clicking the badge.

MamaMummyMum

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One for You, One for Me (A Saturday Book Review #3)

As I write this is’ I am a little bit dying inside since around half of this post has just disappeared, un-saved, from my screen. URGH.
Imagine if you will, the funniest opening paragraph that you may ever have read. It was that, now lost forever into the ether that is the www. Hideous. I guess that’ll teach me for leaving things to the last minute hey…it probably won’t though.

I started writing this at 6am Saturday morning and had visions of the littlies sleeping in beyond seven so I could post this and schedule others- cue them waking up moments later and screaming “I want my dinner” from their cot (clearly this was only the big little but you get my drift) It is now 4 bloody 22 on SUNDAY and I can’t sleep so here I am trying to catch up- MADNESS!

So, instead of the sleep deprived shadow of a person that I am trying to recreate the unadulterated brilliance of my earlier writing, I will simply refer you to my 3rd Saturday book review.
It is great to hear that so many of you are enjoying this. If you have any recommendations please give me a shout and I will get on it as soon as possible.
Without further ado, here are this weeks book reviews…

One for You: Snuggle Bunny.

This is a large, square, hand puppet board book and it is a firm favourite in our house, particularly with the little little.

ISBN: 9781848774384

ISBN: 9781848774384

I’ll be honest with you, this is not the type of book I like. Basically, they only suit you if you are an octopus. You need a hand for the puppet, a hand to hold the book, (facing out to your audience) one to turn the pages and you have to remember to do the actions- it’s no mean feat!
I always feel like my hand is slightly too big for the hole so turning the pages isn’t a smooth operation but the girls never seem to notice my grazed and bleeding hands which could have the effect of making the bunny look like its road kill. *

So, the premise isn’t complex. It’s the end of the day, bunny is tired and needs to put his toys away, have a wash and get ready for bed…not unlike what your own offspring might need to do pre-bedtime. Genius.
We usually read this once the girls are ready for bed and supping milk in our bed.
They love to stroke bunny’s ears, be kissed and cuddled by him and the tickles never fail to raise heart melting peels of laughter which is a sound I love above all others.
I suppose there is potential to get kids over excited with excessive tickling and so on but, let’s be honest, that would be your fault, not the books and it’s easily done. Believe me.
The emotional complexity that snuggle bunny can offer will be largely down to your dexterity. Ours struggles to rub his sleepy eyes but, for unadulterated cuteness, it is a brilliant book and one that is a firm favourite in this house and will be for a long time to come I think.

*obviously this is a huge exaggeration purely for comic effect.

One for Me: How to be a Woman. Caitlin Moran. 

Caitlin Moran, How to be a woman

ISBN-13: 9780062124296

This is basically almost everything that I have ever wanted to say written down in a concise, hilarious and fiercely intelligent kind of way.
If you are a woman, know a woman, have ever been a woman or are trying to raise a woman, this book needs to be read.
With quotes like this on topics including but in no way limited to feminism and minges, what on earth is there not to love;

Here’s a quick way of working out if you’re a feminist.
Put your hands in your pants.
a) Do you have a vagina? and
b) Do you want to be in charge of it?
If you said yes to both, congratulations. You’re a feminist!

And my personal favourite:

It saddens me that 13 year old girls are spending what little money they have on waxing…they should be spending it on more important things like getting as fat away from home as possible. Take your furry minge to Dublin, that’s what I say!

Basically, this is a whistle stop tour of Catlin Morans journey from a teenager in a full to bursting family home in Wolverhampton to becoming an actual bona fide grown up via the NME and a rock throwing incident amongst other things.
She has spent proper time with Katie Price and, her view on her is as scathing as mine which is heartwarming since she has first hand experience of the woman.
She has also had Lady Gagas head in her lap which must have made for quite a night. There are loads of anecdotes and just as many brilliant and intelligent points on why society is currently totally up the wall. I nodded along like the Churchill dog all through the book.
She is a cooler, more successful version of everything I absolutely wish I was and, in much the same way as she felt about Madonna in the 80’s I absolutely hope we never meet lest she looks at me like an utter cretin and my fragile self-esteem is crushed into dust!
Possibly a little dramatic!
Anyway, the long and short of it is, this is a brilliant read and it absolutely needs to be in your life. Fact.

So, there it is, Saturday Book Review #3…only 1 day late! If I have tempted you to go out and buy them, please check here for your local shop, you know my views on Amazon don’t you?!

What to read this week; answers on a postcard please (or a comment- it’s up to you!)

Loads of Love

Muma.

XxxX

I am linking up again with MammaMummyMum so, if you like all things literary, check it out by clicking the badge.

MamaMummyMum

2 Comments »

One for me, One for you; A Saturday Book Review #2

Morning All,

Hope that you’re all well and happy. As you read this, I am very likely breathing into a teeny doll or bandaging somebodies head. I am finally going on my Red Cross first aid course. I’ll feedback on how we get on but I fully expect to be asked to be an extra in Casualty once I’m up to speed. 

Anyway, last weeks one for me, one for you went down pretty well so, here is my second book review for the big and little kids amongst us all. In case you missed last weeks, you can check it out here but- this is basically it: 

ONE FOR ME: This is a review of a real life grown up book- This could prove to be the down fall of this feature…me finding time to read a book each week and then tell you about it.

 

ONE FOR YOU: The YOU I am referring to here is my babies- so, this will be a children’s book that we have read and enjoyed. This shouldn’t be too tricky since both girls love books though for the little little they are used more as elements of an obstacle course as opposed to a literary educational tool!

 

Without further ado, here’s this weeks offerings:  Read the rest of this entry »

5 Comments »

One for me, One for you; A Saturday Book Review.

Morning All.

HAPPY BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND. I don’t want to bang on about it, but Bank Holiday doesn’t mean exactly the same as it did pre kids does it…If it did I’d be peeling my face off the pillow round about 11, searching out the Evian and plink plink fizz before pottering around the house sipping hot tea and flicking through the papers before meeting mates for a long, boozy lunch…also it would deffo be sunny.

I’d wager that today it’ll piss down and the only possible role use our sun loungers will fulfill is as a makeshift barrier to stop the babies tumbling down the back step…again.

Anywho, just incase you do get 5 minutes to yourself- on a sun lounger or otherwise, I thought I’d start a new little feature. Saturday Book Review. I am hoping that this will evolve over time, perhaps become a linky or a podcast or whatever but equally, you might all hate it and I’ll sweep it under the carpet never to be mentioned again…lets see. Read the rest of this entry »

6 Comments »

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