Monday, 29 December 2014

Christmas Holiday Recap, Sort Of



A little intentional holiday blur for you all!

Hi all!

Sorry I haven't written really this month, but December was ridiculously busy for me. It bothered me that I hadn't written, or taken too many pictures (most were of clients!), but starting in 2015 I will be attempting a project 365. Wish me luck on that!

Anywho, between the kids holiday shows and whatnot, I feel like December just flew by. To be honest, up until Christmas, I was really down. I felt like I wasn't doing good enough for my kids, stepson, or my husband. I just couldn't shake it. I didn't even pick up my camera a lot, which was a surprise, because that's what usually gets me out of a funk. My running became mundane. The rock bottom was when I woke up on Christmas Eve, with a nasty message from Andrew's mother. Thats when I hit the rock bottom of my depression. Why couldn't I be good enough for everyone?

After talking to Laura, my co blogger here in the UK, I realized something. I am not only "good enough", but I am awesome. Yep, it sounds really self centered, but I have always thought I was a nothing, a loser, etc. But I am not. I am an AMAZING mother. I am always there for my kids, and they are so happy with life. I had stepped up when I was 21, almost 22, and became a caring full time stepmother officially when I was 24 and married Andrew's father. I am a loving wife. I am many things, but I am not a loser. And the second I realized that, all the sadness drifted away. I have been running so much longer, and my workout routine is great. I am in incredible shape. My kids adore me and their father. Even Andrew gets along with me and talks to me about everything. We are closer than ever. So what am I sad about? I have an amazing life. I ended up blocking a lot of people, and I feel freer than ever.

Doing this made my Christmas wonderful. We had a great Christmas Eve and Day. The kids didn't get a ton, but they never asked for more and loved everything they received. They were and are happy, just like their mommy. I took lots of pictures, enough to make up for my seriously lacking December. I only shared a few here, so as not to bog you down with everything. Who cares if some people don't like you, or attack you?  Most of the time those people want bring you down, or are jealous. Only the people that care for you and yourself matter. I wish I had lived like this sooner!

In the end, I look forward to 2015. 2014 I spent with a lot of depression, but I haven't been this free and happy in awhile. I hope you join me on this ride on my project 365 site, being announced in the new year.

Xmas Eve magic from 3 out of 4 of the mob

From the entire Lynch mob, we wish you a happy new year, and we will see you in the AWESOME 2015 year!!!



Monday, 22 December 2014

2014 Challenge almost complete and new 2015 Challenge!

So we are coming up to the end of 2014 and I have a smile on my face!

At the end of December 2013 I made a challenge for myself to take a photo a day of both boys and post it on Instagram with its own hash tag and I'm so excited to say that (at this moment in time ;-)) I have succeeded in the challenge! With only around a week to go til its completion!

For me it was a massive challenge, I'm so flakey when it comes to keeping up with things and it's not always been easy, there have been *many* days when I have scrambled for a photo with the boys asleep so not to fail my challenge!

But all in all its been a very positive experience and now I have my own hash tag to go back and see how the boys have grown over the year.. Bee especially as he has gone from 6 weeks old to 13 months old, almost 14 months! It was a great year to do this challenge with the most growth!

I have decided to do a different goal for 2015 though and it won't be on Instagram either - I plan to do a weekly round up page - so 52 pages which can incorporate  the best bits of each week and can have text etc. I will be printing them out to make a book at the end of 2015. I feel that this is a better way of capturing life as  as fabulous as 2014's photo a day was it didn't capture what was actually going on, just the way the boys were changing.

So there it is, 2015's photo challenge! Wish me luck!

Friday, 12 December 2014

The Nut Job - Review

I was quite excited to be offered the opportunity to watch a new film ahead of the DVD release, and not knowing much about it before hand definitely increased the anticipation!
We were invited to watch The Nut Job as part of a timed screening throughout the UK on Sunday 6th December ahead of its release on the 7th.

I had a brief look at the details on IMDB before we were to watch, and immediately noticed the wide range of vocal talents on board. I must confess to being a particular fan of Will Arnett (of Arrested Development and Lego Batman fame) but was surprised to see names like Brendan Fraser and Liam Neeson on the listing too, I wouldn’t have thought this would be their domain but nevertheless, as fans of theirs too I was intrigued to see how it would work out.

The Nut Job pretty much dives straight in to the action, we meet Surly the Squirrel (Arnett) as he plans his daring attempt on a nut cart with his buddy, Buddy. It turns out that the nut cart is actually a front for a local mafia operation in the process of casing a bank ready to rob it. I would have imagined that this might go over the heads of the target audience i.e. younger children, but I suppose it is there to offer adults something to latch on to as well, certainly I found myself a little more interested in this secondary plot than the main action.

In terms of the main story, it was fairly standard fare, the classic tropes of outcast makes hero and so-called hero not being such were there, as well as the do-good leader having a sinister ulterior motive. Nothing particularly original in terms of the characters, but what I quite enjoyed was that we were treated in effect to a double heist; the Mafia taking the gold, and the wildlife taking the nuts. There are even a few twists, predictable as they may be. I myself didn’t really find much amusement in the tale, apart from the odd standout moment (the mafia gang’s dog was easily my favourite character) but my four year old loved it.

He often struggles when watching films, we are trying to ‘train’ him to sit through one so we know he is ready for a trip to the cinema, and for the most part The Nut Job held his attention nicely. He enjoyed the madcap comedy of errors that was Surly’s increasingly daring attempts at stealing nuts, and he particularly enjoyed the dog too. It was very nice to see him enjoying a film, even if perhaps he couldn’t quite grasp what the characters were actually doing.

Overall, The Nut Job joins a long list of family animated films, I wouldn’t say that it particularly stood out as spectacular, but for a zany heist-within-a-heist that all the family can enjoy, it can’t be beaten.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Cosatto Giggle - Travel System Review!

Oh gosh, let me start by the sheer awesomeness which is the Pixelate pattern, I LOVE it! The fresh bold in your face colourful design is amazing and is a proper head turner as I walk Bee down the street - it attracts comments and looks and I quite simply just love it!



We have been testing out the Giggle Travel System for quite a few weeks now and it's been with us out and about enough to tell you our thoughts!

First off its a beautiful designed pram with a huge hood which is great for shielding either the sun or wind out of baby's face - I love the fact that it has a variant of the design on the underside which makes it look funky!

It has a sturdy lap bar which is easy to remove and can be put through the cosy toes and we also thread toys on there to keep Bee entertained You can either take the bar fully off or release it one side whilst you take your little one out.

The harness straps come off easily for washing so its nice and convenient for general baby ickyness! though the crotch strap does come off a little too easy too and you do end up threading them back on alot.

The seat unit can recline in 4 different positions and is great for nap times as there is ample space inside with the generous hood. I found the buttons to recline a little stiff at first but I struggle with my Hypermobility so that could just be me!

The Giggle has a great foot rest which looks very comfortable with lots of room!

The shopping basket is huge and is one thing I really look for in a Pram- it ticks all the boxes for us and holds our changing back plus shopping.

The wheels are easy to push and the front is lockable for different terrains - where we live I tend to keep it on swivel mode as its easier.

The Giggle is very easy to push and feels lightweight and not bulky. I love that it has different positions for the handles, especially as my husband is a giant (6'3) and he finds a lot of other brand buggies hard to push with low bars.

I love that you can fold the Giggle down with the seat attached, which is something that's rare with other travel systems - although you need to make sure the seat unit is forward facing to do this.

I have relatively small boot to my car and i find the Giggle fits in perfect, it doesn't take up a huge amount of space and we can fit shopping bags around it which is handy.

Here Bee is forward facing sitting right up - he is a large 12 month old here (in 18-24 month clothes!) so you can see how comfortable looking it is.

I personally would recommend the Giggle Travel System, I wish I had had it when Bee was teeny so I could have used the carry cot too as it's all beautiful!

Here are some specs from the COSATTO website

Weight and Size:
Weight: Chassis: 6.5kg Seat: 4kg Carrycot: 4.9kg
Assembled Size: Chassis L:97cm W:62.5cm H:87cm 
Other Information:

Folded Size: L: 97cm W: 62.5cm H: 25cm
Handle Height: 71 – 104.5cm
• Easily transforms to be used with carrycot, pushchair seat or Hold group 0+ car seat (sold separately)
• All round suspension
• Suitable from birth carrycot
• Pushchair seat with in and out facing option
• Compact, easy fold
• Lightweight aluminium chassis
• Quick-release removable wheels
• Lockable swivel front wheels
• Adjustable handle height
• UPF 50+ sunshade protection
• 4 position recline
• Lockable swivel front wheels
• Removable bumper bar with cover
• Spacious storage basket
• Carrycot includes carry handle and removable washable liner
• Carrycot suitable for occasional overnight sleeping
• Toy loops in hood
• Conforms to EN1888:2012 & BS 1466:2004 + A1:2007 (carrycot only)

Check out the Giggle Video HERE 

We were sent the Giggle in return for an honest review.






Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Interview With A 3 Year Old

On November 20th, Grayson turned 3, and it broke my heart, just a smidge. My last baby is growing up!!! However, I have been waiting for him to get a bit older, so I could try this little interview project. I plan on asking these questions every year, to see how he grows and how his answers change.

My little "threenager"


So here it is, an interview with Grayson, age 3 edition (in his own words):

1) What is your favorite color? "Blue!"

2) What is your favorite toy? "Horsey"

3) What is your favorite thing to eat? "Crackers"

4) What is your favorite TV show? "Team umizoomi!" (I kind of wish it wasn't) 

5) What is your favorite outfit to wear? " I say nothing" (wonder if he just wants to stay mute on    
                                                                                              this or if he legit means nothing)
6) Where do we live? "A house"

7) What are your favorite animals? "Tigers and giraffes!" (he's never said that before...)

8) What does Mommy do for work? "Looks at this" and points at phone. (Ouch)

9) What does Daddy do for work? "Get TV's" (he doesn't steal. He's in loss prevention)

10) What is your favorite book? "When Cassie reads to me" 

11) What is your favorite thing to do outside? "Ride bikes" (he does ride a mean trike)

12) Who is your best friend? "Cassie" (awww he loves his sister)

13) What do you want to be when you grow up?  "To be as high as Daddy" (Whoa. I swear he 
                                                                                                                              means tall)
14) What is your favorite game to play? "DS"

15) What do you like to take to bed with you? "Horse and chewys" (his old swaddles)

16) What's your favorite thing to do with Mommy? "Eat snacks" (double ouch)

17) What's your favorite thing to do with Daddy? "Help Daddy work"

18) What's your favorite treat? "Crackers" (obviously)

19) What is your favorite movie? "Planes"

20) If you could go anywhere, where would you go? "The movies" (he's never been yet)

21) What makes you happy? "Saying cheese!" (trained him well)

22) What makes you sad?  "Andrew" (guess big bro is tough on him)

23) What makes you scared? "Sydney in bed" (what??)

24) What is your favorite sport? "Basketball"

25) What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? "I can't eat ice cream" (allergic. Trying to get him to
                                                                                                                    to eat soy ice cream)


And there you have it! Some pretty funny and surprising answers. I am going to try and do this with the other kids when its their birthdays too! For now I am going to see what I can do about this whole sibling situation.

xoxo
Clarissa

Friday, 28 November 2014

Mandy Gurney's Top Ten Sleep Tips!

Mandy Gurney’s Top Ten Tips to Help your Child Sleep Better


Good sleep habits can not only take the stress out of bedtime, but can also help to make it a special time for you and your child. With lights out leading to weekly tantrums from one in five (20%) children aged between three and six, most children’s sleep struggles can often be addressed with a simple yet practical solution.
Recent research from Dream Lites*, the cuddly bedtime toys, reveals that the average three to six year old child awakes three times in the night, with almost half (46%) of mums regularly awaking to soothe their infant back to sleep.
Dream Lites has teamed up with sleep expert and founder of Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic, Mandy Gurney, to create a simple guide for parents to help their young children to sleep better. If you are unsure why your child has difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep, take a look over this handy checklist - implementing small changes could make all the difference for your family come bedtime:

1. Set a regular bedtime and wake up time

Encourage a regular sleep-wake schedule for your child with no more than one hour’s deviation from day to day, including weekends. This will help regulate your child’s internal body clock and ensure they are getting the right amount of sleep. Your child’s wake up time is just as important as their bedtime since our body clocks are reset every day by the time we get up in the morning.

2. Avoid stimulating activities in the hour before bedtime

Have a quiet wind down period about an hour before your child goes to bed. Turn off the TV and any computers; bright lights from screens can interfere with production of the sleep hormone melatonin that is responsible for making us drowsy. Instead use this time for reading, doing puzzles, listening to a story tape and chatting about the day with your child.

3. Stick to a set bedtime routine

It is never too late to establish a bedtime routine. Aim to carry out the same series of steps each night, around 30 minutes before your child goes to bed. This routine may include a short warm bath and a quiet story, before lights out with a purposeful “goodnight”. Make it low-key and relaxing – it is repetitive for you, and may even get boring, but it is worth it for the long-term benefits to your child’s sleep pattern.

4. Enforce clear boundaries for bedtime behaviour

This applies to you as well as your child! If you have said you will give your child one cup of milk in bed, do not be talked into fetching a second. Once boundaries start to become stretched, most children will push further. Most requests for a drink or another trip to the toilet are excuses to string out bedtime and should be resisted so that they do not become a habit.

5. A healthy sleep environment
The bedroom should ideally be a comfortable temperature of 18 degrees. Warm temperatures can disturb sleep, and research shows a hot room leads to more wake time and a lighter sleep at night.

Our biological clocks are regulated by light. Make sure your child has time playing outside every day so they are exposed to natural light. Ensure their bedroom is dimly lit; darkness triggers the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. If your child wakes early in the morning consider black out blinds to block out morning light.

6. Teach your child a settling routine that does not rely on props that require your presence          

Children who rely on props at bedtime, such as your presence, are more vulnerable to waking later in the night. As your child comes into light sleep phases, which we all do throughout the night, they are likely to look for you to help them to get back to sleep.


7. Leave your child awake when you say goodnight

This will teach your child to get to sleep by themselves, which is beneficial for both of you.

8. Ensure your child is asleep within 15 to 20 minutes of leaving them

This is the maximum amount of time it should take your child to fall asleep. If a child is awake for long periods at bedtime some can become anxious that they cannot sleep – even as bedtime approaches they start to worry, leading to an anxious and stressful time for everyone. Check that your bedtime routine is quiet, focused and relaxing and that your child is not dozing or napping in the day, if not appropriate for their age.

9. Diet
Avoid allowing your child caffeine four to six hours before bedtime, since tea, coffee and fizzy drinks can profoundly disrupt night-time sleep.

Sugary sweets at bedtime will not only give your child a boost of energy hindering them from falling asleep, but research has also shown them to be a cause of nightmares. Instead, encourage your child to have a bedtime snack of foods that contain the amino acid, tryptophan. These foods are thought to make some people drowsy, and include bananas, warm milk, oat biscuits, wholegrain low-sugar cereals, eggs and chicken.

10. Keep bedtime stress-free
Do not use bedtimes to discuss any difficulties or anxieties relating to today or tomorrow. This can unearth difficulties from your child’s day, which may interfere with sleep. Try to get these types of discussions out of the way by teatime.

Mandy Gurney, sleep expert and founder of Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic, said: “However hard and boring a bedtime routine for kids may seem after a long day, it is vital to enable everyone in the family to have a good night’s sleep. Just setting aside 30 minutes at the end of the day with a simple, quiet, relaxing bath, a calm story and kiss goodnight is well worth the effort.”

If, despite your best efforts, your child continues to have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep during the night or has nightmares or night terrors, they may have a genuine sleep problem. Talk to your GP or health visitor about your concerns.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Three's A Charm

My sweet Grayson, turning 3

Oh my Grayson. A small time ago, you were a happy surprise soon after having your older sister (REALLY a surprise, considering the medication it took to have Sydney). Then you surprised me more by rupturing my uterus AKA busting into this world (TMI?) 2 weeks before you were scheduled to arrive. These past few months and years, you have been a typical boy: keeping me on my toes with everything.

We have a special connection, me and you. Don't get me wrong, I love your sister's just as much. Who knew a heart could hold so much love?? But there is something different with us. I almost died giving birth to you, and you as well, thanks to the busting of my internal organ (thanks dude). You need me more than the girls, my little Miss Independents. You have no problems snuggling, and kissing me sweetly on the cheek to wake me in the morning. You run to hug me when I walk into a room. You are my shadow (which can be very annoying, but right now I think of it fondly).

One of his favorite toys from Radio Flyer

My heart hurts, but is so happy that you are getting older. No more babies for me, and I am starting to feel that "mommy void". I don't think I could have another though, because you are the most easy going and happy kid that I have ever had, and I don't think I could recreate that if I tried. Unless you start screeching at high pitches like your sisters. Then I may have to take it all back. Just kidding. I would love you if you did that just like I still love your sister's, even if their decibel levels hit where only dogs can hear them.

We are potty training now, and as soon as that is done, no more diapers for the family. But still, I get a little sad at that. In the end its ok though. It doesn't look like you are giving up your "chewys" (aden and anais swaddles) anytime soon. That's a signal that you are still my baby, and you always will be. Although, I look forward to even more adventures. Just try not to hurt any more of my organs :).

Putting him to bed tonight for the last time as a 2 year old, with chewy's of course. Tomorrow (11/20/14) he will wake up and be 3 years old. 

I love you to the moon and back my moose. Happy birthday.

xoxo
Mommy
(Clarissa)

Friday, 14 November 2014

Maybe It's In The Cards...



The famous "holiday card of 2014"

As a photographer, holiday cards have been always something to look forward to. It's a very lucrative time, and seeing all different kids dressed in their best always makes me smile. But as a parent/stepmom, I HATE holiday card time. 

Don't get me wrong. I love all my kids to death. But usually getting them all together to look semi decent is a struggle and is deeply stressful. I mean, how good can a photographer be if she can't get her own children to cooperate for one picture? (This is what I think people say) Or when it comes to cards: thats the design she picked? I thought she had an eye for the artsy? (Another thing I think that people may say)

The major stress I have every year though is not something that would normally register in anyone's thoughts: should I be allowed to add Andrew (my stepson) into the holiday mix? Should I be allowed to put the picture on Facebook? 

Most know the back story: Danny and I have been together for almost 10 years, and married for 6. Andrew was 3 when I met him. Danny and his ex at that time had a civil relationship, but over the years it deteriorated rapidly. Long story short: after many court appearances, Andrew lives with his father most of the time, and his mother every other weekend. It varies slightly in the summer, but it has been like this for many years. As of now, Danny and his ex do not speak. 

This is where I wonder: where does the stepmother line begin, and end? It's a bit different in my situation, since I am there to fill in for his mother (NOT REPLACE) most of the time. It's not a job I enjoy lately, but when you've been there for that long and your stepson doesn't remember a time when  you weren't there, you kind of just roll with the teenage angst that comes along. My problem is is that I am always frightened to post pictures of my stepson, or to even call him part of my family, because I have gotten flack for it before. I keep a lot of them on my personal computer, or to myself, because I just don't want to hear it. You would think people would be happy that I care for and treat him the same as my biological children, but that is not the case. 

I don't know what the right answer is anymore. I have a picture I love of all 4 children, and I want to share it with the world. But I don't want to make stress and anger come my way. In the end, after much deliberation, I posted the picture on my Facebook fan page  and on my private page. It did cause anger, and I was surprised at which people were angry (some not so much). I have made the decision to make this picture my holiday card, because I love it so much, but am I ready for another round of stress? Even now, I am shaking, because once I post this entry, it will be on the internet for all to see. Will that put a bullseye on my back too? 

What would you do? 

Anxiously hitting the post button,

xoxo
Clarissa

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Bee is almost 1!! - CAKE SMASH

 Can you believe my little Bee is going to be 1 year old on saturday? because I can't!!

Here is a couple of photos from his recent Smash Cake photoshoot! (Photos by us)

John Deere BIG FARM - TOMY Review

Living in Suffolk, Rocket is used to seeing a lot of farming equipment and tractors around close by. So when we were sent the John Deere 6210R Tractor and the 348 Square Baler it was really exciting for him to see how they worked up close and at a 1:16 scale!

The 6210R Tractor is suitable for ages 3-8 so Rocket is perfectly in the middle rand as he is coming up 5 in only 4 months time!

Rocket had lots of fun with the tractors moving parts though I did have a giggle when he told me the wheels were broken and wobbly and I had to explain that they were purposely like that to
go over bumpy terrain - it was a great way to teach him more about farming.

The sounds are realistic, there are two buttons on top of the Tractor roof which make engine and reversing sounds.

The Tractor is sturdy and you can feel the quality of it - it is definitely a toy that will last and can be used indoors or outdoors so good for summer playing.

The Tractor takes 3 AA batteries which are included ready for play.

Best of all it is compatible with all Britain's Big Farm toys so there is a whole range you can collect if your little person is a budding farmer.

The John Deere 348 Square Baler is fun when attached to the
back of the Tractor making fun of the hard graft of harvesting. It leaves cute little green hay bales ready to be stacked up! The bucket at the back has a flip up action bringing some more excitement to the toy!

Like the Tractor, the Square Baler is an indoors and outdoors toy and a lovely sturdy quality.

I personally didn't have much experience of farming but through play with Rocket I'm learning more and now on the look out for big tractors!



*We were sent these toys to review, views and photos are our own.
  • The Britains Big Farm John Deere 6210R tractor is an investment that will pay any farmer back in spades.
  • It features a host of moving parts, plus realistic lights and sounds.
  • There's a detachable cab, the bonnet opens to reveal superb engine detail and the rear window opens for easier steering access.
  • There's a height adjustable rear hitch, working cab and headlights, plus realistic engine and reversing sounds.
  • Compatible with all Britains Big Farm toys and other 1:16 scale authentic replica plastic farm pieces.
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor play.
  • 3 x AAA batteries included. Dimensions (L x W x H): 320 x 190 x 220mm.
  • Suitable for young farmers aged 3-8 years.
  • - See more at: http://uk.tomy.com/products/john-deere-6210r-tractor#sthash.FCOOsdA8.dpuf
  • The Britains Big Farm John Deere 6210R tractor is an investment that will pay any farmer back in spades.
  • It features a host of moving parts, plus realistic lights and sounds.
  • There's a detachable cab, the bonnet opens to reveal superb engine detail and the rear window opens for easier steering access.
  • There's a height adjustable rear hitch, working cab and headlights, plus realistic engine and reversing sounds.
  • Compatible with all Britains Big Farm toys and other 1:16 scale authentic replica plastic farm pieces.
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor play.
  • 3 x AAA batteries included. Dimensions (L x W x H): 320 x 190 x 220mm.
  • Suitable for young farmers aged 3-8 years.
  • - See more at: http://uk.tomy.com/products/john-deere-6210r-tractor#sthash.FCOOsdA8.dpuf
  • The Britains Big Farm John Deere 6210R tractor is an investment that will pay any farmer back in spades.
  • It features a host of moving parts, plus realistic lights and sounds.
  • There's a detachable cab, the bonnet opens to reveal superb engine detail and the rear window opens for easier steering access.
  • There's a height adjustable rear hitch, working cab and headlights, plus realistic engine and reversing sounds.
  • Compatible with all Britains Big Farm toys and other 1:16 scale authentic replica plastic farm pieces.
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor play.
  • 3 x AAA batteries included. Dimensions (L x W x H): 320 x 190 x 220mm.
  • Suitable for young farmers aged 3-8 years.
  • - See more at: http://uk.tomy.com/products/john-deere-6210r-tractor#sthash.FCOOsdA8.dpuf
  • The Britains Big Farm John Deere 6210R tractor is an investment that will pay any farmer back in spades.
  • It features a host of moving parts, plus realistic lights and sounds.
  • There's a detachable cab, the bonnet opens to reveal superb engine detail and the rear window opens for easier steering access.
  • There's a height adjustable rear hitch, working cab and headlights, plus realistic engine and reversing sounds.
  • Compatible with all Britains Big Farm toys and other 1:16 scale authentic replica plastic farm pieces.
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor play.
  • 3 x AAA batteries included. Dimensions (L x W x H): 320 x 190 x 220mm.
  • Suitable for young farmers aged 3-8 years.
  • - See more at: http://uk.tomy.com/products/john-deere-6210r-tractor#sthash.FCOOsdA8.dpuf
  • The Britains Big Farm John Deere 6210R tractor is an investment that will pay any farmer back in spades.
  • It features a host of moving parts, plus realistic lights and sounds.
  • There's a detachable cab, the bonnet opens to reveal superb engine detail and the rear window opens for easier steering access.
  • There's a height adjustable rear hitch, working cab and headlights, plus realistic engine and reversing sounds.
  • Compatible with all Britains Big Farm toys and other 1:16 scale authentic replica plastic farm pieces.
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor play.
  • 3 x AAA batteries included. Dimensions (L x W x H): 320 x 190 x 220mm.
  • Suitable for young farmers aged 3-8 years.
  • - See more at: http://uk.tomy.com/products/john-deere-6210r-tractor#sthash.FCOOsdA8.dpuf

    Sunday, 2 November 2014

    Goblins and Ghouls

    I've been told that Halloween is not that big in the UK, but in the states, it is a huge affair! Some parents start planning their costumes weeks, sometimes even months in advance. There are parades, parties, and get togethers all leading up to the main event, and even more on the actual day. For the ones without children, it is a huge drinking holiday. For me, it was running from sun up to sundown, and even later.

    This year was no exception on the craziness. I had picked up a costume for Grayson, Monsters University's Sully, and he refused to wear it. Maybe because it was heavy, maybe because it was fuzzy, who knows. All I know was that he was not wearing it. I ended up having to scramble to figure out a new one for him last minute. Luckily, I was able to put together a Where's Waldo costume from what I already had in the house.
    Grayson watching Sydney's concert, as Waldo from Where's Waldo

    Sydney is my clothes horse, so she changed costumes multiple times. She wanted to be a ladybug at school for her concert and parade, and Elsa when it came to the actual trick or treating. (Sully costume ended up being worn by her earlier in the week at another party). The concert was adorable. She is usually very quiet, but in her pre-k class singing songs, she seemed to be the loudest 4 year old there! She was so proud of herself. And yes, I teared up a bit. I am a huge softy.
    Sydney (2nd from left) singing 

    My ladybug in the school parade
    Cassie was her usual Power Ranger self. She was the easy one. The only request was that she wanted to be a "boy" one. Suit yourself, kid. Whatever makes you happy!

    Cassie always being the life of the party
    Andrew was a character from Adventure Time. Being a teenager, I doubt that he will be trick or treating / dressing up after this year. I would say maybe half of the class actually dressed up, so I am pretty confident on my thinking that he is done. He didn't go trick or treating with us, he went with his friends. He's too cool for us.

    The elusive teenager. Don't make direct eye contact.
    Since it was so cold, the kids had to layer up underneath the costumes, which made them uncomfortable slightly, but they still ran around getting as much candy as they could! This was Grayson's first year really realizing what was happening, so that made it really fun. Think about it: at 2 years old it doesn't make much sense to just walk up to people's doors and ask for candy, but after 2 houses he got it and was running with the rest of the kids.
    Trick or Treating in the 'hood
    Happy Halloween! (The Elsa costume change)

    They crashed pretty early that night, despite the sugar rushes. Halloween is tiring but it is one of my favorite things to do with my kids! My stomach hates me for trying to shove so much extra candy in it (I'm on a runner's diet usually), but I am just getting ready for Thanksgiving :)

    xoxo
    Clarissa







    Tuesday, 21 October 2014

    Testosterone X 2


    Grayson on his trike. Definition of "boy": noise with dirt on it. 


    When Andrew came to be a permanent fixture in my life, he was 4 years old. He was a shy little guy, but if you talked about monster trucks, or anything with 4 wheels for that matter, he was your best friend. When I became pregnant with Cassie about a year and a half later, I was petrified. Sure, I knew what to do with a small boy, but what do you do with a baby? And especially a premature one at that??? (She was 6 weeks early). Turns out I was fine. When I had Sydney almost exactly 3 years later, I had it under control. Cassie may be my tomboy, but there was still some slight girlishness involved, and when it came to Sydney, you couldn't GET more girly. So when Grayson was born 17 months after her, I had quite a bit of a jolt when we found out he was a boy.

    Living with Andrew for a majority of the time (he is with us all week, and sees his mother every other weekend and wednesday nights for dinner), I thought I was completely prepared for the boyhood. And at first, I was! Grayson likes trucks and things that go too (his favorite is a "wee-ooo", which is his word for anything that has a siren)! He likes to get dirty! See, I got this! Well, turns out these last couple of weeks have been quite the test.

    Imagine your life with a toddler boy, tornado and all. NOW add in a teenage boy. Thats right, Andrew is now 13 years old. There are days I want to rip my hair out. In Andrew's case, its homework woes, cell phone habits, video game restrictions, and a sometimes bad attitude. And the smell? What IS that?? I think his clothes can walk on their own, especially since its a fight to have him even look at a washing machine. "Yes Andrew, you HAVE to wash the clothes". "No it is NOT ok to wear something 3 days in a row". Those are just sample sentences I say regularly.

    With Grayson, its the opposite spectrum at 2, almost 3 years old. He has exploded in chatter. He used to be so quiet, but since all the kids have started school, and he is the only one in the house, his vocabulary has improved immensely. He has also become very mischievous. He plays tricks on his sisters, he tries to make me laugh constantly, and he pretends to burp after each meal. It is unfortunately a fight now with potty training. Some days he wants to, other days he wants nothing to do with it. I guess that is now common knowledge to me: boys don't care if they are gross.

    Although they are so many years apart, what brings them together is their bonding over fart noises and the words  "butt"and "poop". UGH. Boys: its not that funny.

    With all that said, one thing has not changed with these 2: their sweetness. Andrew still cares for his siblings (mostly) and goes out of his way to make them laugh. Even though we sometimes fight (YES! Cutting your nails is a necessity!), he still finds away to make me laugh too. Grayson is still a huge mama's boy, one that constantly cuddles with me, hates to be separated from me, and still carries his "chewy" everywhere (Aden and Anais swaddles he's had since he was born).

    Don't ever change boys. Well, please stop saying "poop".

    Xoxo
    Clarissa

    Monday, 20 October 2014

    Pokemon Lightning Attack Pikachu - Review

    Pika Pika!

    Pikachu happens to be daddy's favourite Pokemon so he was just as excited as Rocket to review the new Pokemon Lightning Attack Pikachu from TOMY!

    Pikachu comes with a shoulder harness that allows him to sit on your shoulder ready for battle. He fires out little yellow foam discs as fast as you want them by gently pulling Pikachu's ear.

    Pikachu also makes lots of noises (including some angry sounds, perfect for battling other Pokemon!)

    Rocket absolutely loves playing with this toy which is great although it would benefit from having some more foam discs with it as you cannot use anything else to fire out of Pikachu and being a young boy he has lost a few - it would be handy to buy a spare pack.

    Loading the foam discs can be a little fiddly but then again he is only 4 and a half, he manages it though!

    The harness I think is made for the older child as we had problems with is sliding off from Pikachu's weight, even when we tightened it as much as possible.


    Rocket jumps at the chance to go in the garden and shoot daddy with the discs and it has kept I'm busy for hours so its won points in our minds! I feel this would be a great Christmas present for any Pokemon lover!

    Sunday, 19 October 2014

    It's Been Awhile

    Hello all!

    It's been awhile since I posted from the good old USA. I forget how busy a summer is with 4 children at home! Please forgive me for being absent, but let me fill everyone on whats been happening:

    Summer was a whirlwind to say the least. There was a lot of time spent at the beach, where I am lucky enough to live. We got into a nice routine with that, although I feel like I ran a marathon by the time I actually set foot on sand!

    A typical July 4th holiday photo with Grayson

    There were a lot of changes these past few months too. My husband Danny has been working more, so my hours dispatching (3 days a week, at 13 hours a day) had to be put to an end. I had mixed feelings about this. I loved the fact that now I would see my kids more, and be more involved (since I never saw them those days), but I hated the fact that I would not be able to see my friends on those days. I know that sounds selfish, but mom's need a break, and that was my break, as crazy as that is. Plus I don't have a ton of people I can call friends, so this bothered me a bit.

    This summer wiped me out, just like him
    Another good thing was that I could now focus on my photography and really get my business running. I must say, now that I have devoted more time to this, I have been getting a lot more sessions, and have been able to really hone my craft. I am really impressed at some of the photos I come up with it.

    Sydney and Grayson's first race
    I also have been able to really get into my running again. I ran multiple races this season, signed up for even more, and got my 2 youngest kids into it. I know come close to running 5 miles every other day. This has been such an outlet for stress, but also a way to keep my depression at bay, since I have been really fighting it lately. (In fact, as I write this, I guess I am having an "off" day, since I kind of feel sad). I hate admitting that I am depressed, or that I have been fighting depression. I feel like people think that I have such a great life, and that I shouldn't be sad, and sometimes I get mad at myself, since I think that should be true. However, things aren't what they seem, and its something I just "feel". I have fought it for so long, that there are times I don't even remember what its like to not fight this demon inside of me. I know running and photography keeps that monster away, so I have to keep going with that. Plus my kids, when they aren't trying to kill each other helps out a lot too.
    Sibling love, at its rarest

    There have been a lot of stresses that I am dying to talk about, because I wonder if anyone can relate. I will definitely talk about that soon, as long as you'll still have me. For now, before I go off on a tangent, I will leave things here. It sounds like I have to break up a fight downstairs :)

    xoxo
    Clarissa





    Saturday, 18 October 2014

    Flarey-Marey Autumn with HMS

    This is not really a baby related post - it's an 'oh no it's nearly winter' type post.

    My HMS is awful, depressing and restricting. I'm so fed up with it at the moment, it can feel so isolating and with 2 children to look after (one that doesn't walk and needs to be carried it's hard)

    My doctor has started me on new meds which work by targeting your nervous system and changing the way the pain is interpreted by your brain but I'm only 2 weeks in and its making me really sleepy and slightly nauseous and I'm on a very low dose! The doctor wants me to increase it slowly over time so I'm hoping my body adjusts.

    In terms of the pain they are helping, I'm taking less cocodamol and tizanidine which is a good thing. My new bed is beginning to help as I've started adjusting to it and having my legs raised really takes the pressure off my lower back. My hands haven't been working as they should though with is stopping me doing certain things.

    The rain is the main culprit, I don't know why but I can always tell that its been raining in the morning before i even open my eyes!

    So i know this is a bit of a pitiful post but I wanted you to know the reason that Ive not been posting as much recently.

    Good posts to come though as Bee turns 1 next month!

    Thursday, 2 October 2014

    Primula Kids Cheese - Review

    Trying to get Rocket (4.5) to eat different foods is a nightmare, truly! Anything with sauce on he has turned his nose up at and for the last 2 years (although getting better now) we have had a fight to get him to eat anything other than chicken nuggets!

    Primula have bought out a squeezy mild cheese just for kids that has reduced salt and added calcium.
    I was a little worried about using it as I thought it wouldn't get a second look by the four year old but it was a fun challenge!

    Primula wanted us to experiment with recipes and see if we could come up with different ways of incorporating the cheese into dinners.

    We set about making 'Easy Peasy Squeezy Cheezy Broccoli Pasta' as named by Rocket!

    First we cooked the pasta and the broccoli together and strained off the excess water, then I told Rocket he was the chef (which he loved) and he has the job of squeezing the cheese into the pasta whilst mummy stirred! Then he helped put it in a bowl and he proudly told his dad that he had cooked it all by himself and to my utter disbelief he ate the lot!

    Whats even better is that Bee, who is now 10 months old happily ate a bowl of the pasta too and I don't have to worry about what hes eating as its incredibly mild and has no added nasties to it!

    We also have the Primula kids cheese on toast and sandwiches, its so versatile - I think it's definitely something we will continue to stock the fridge with and it gets a 10 out of 10 from Rocket! (and mummy;) )

    Here are the Ingredients:

    Cheese (50%) (Milk), Water, Concentrated Skimmed Milk / Whey (Milk), Modified Starch, Emulsifying Salts (Potassium Triphosphate, Sodium Polyphosphate, Tricalcium Phosphate).  

    Allergen Advice

    For allergens see ingredients in bold.

    Additional

    Natural Source of Calcium
    Naturally High in Protein
    Thumbs up from Rocket!
    Contains no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives
    Gluten Free

    Pasteurised product suitable for mums to be

    You can find Primula Kids Cheese in the following stores:


    Wednesday, 24 September 2014

    Britax Rebrands!

    BRITAX REBRANDS TO FOCUS ON EVERYDAY FAMILY FREEDOM
    Global repositioning of child mobility brand reflects commitment to the changing needs of parents

    Leading child mobility brand, Britax, is announcing its global repositioning to give consumers and retailers a better understanding of the scale of its expanded offering, which demonstrates the company’s commitment to meeting changing family needs. From today, all parts of the growing business will operate under the master brand of Britax, it will adopt a new, modern look and feel and ‘everyday family freedom’ will become the brand vision across the entire product portfolio.

    This new brand repositioning and identity, which has been in development for three years, is routed in research and consumer feedback and is designed to better reflect the emotional aspects of the adventures of parenthood and is part of an ongoing strategy to make things better, simpler, smarter and safer for families wherever they are on their journey.

    Amy Voller, Brand Director at Britax EMEA comments: “Britax has been leading and innovating for generations, focused on developing first-rate, functional and safe products for parents. However, following recent acquisitions, we want to bring to life the expertise and insights across our full product range and our modern, unifying brand identity allows us to do that.
    “We’re constantly moving with the times to meet the evolving needs and desires of parents and looking after little passengers as they grow, be it the car seats for a baby’s first trip home or the stroller for a stress-free shopping trip with toddlers. Now we’re creating a consistent, powerful brand that reflects our goal of making family travel safer and easier throughout the journey of parenthood. We want parents to recognise and feel confident that no matter where they want to go or what they want to do, it can be done simply with safety and style.”

    Römer and Britax have been part of the family since they merged in the 1970s but since then the growing company has also acquired BOB (active strollers and bike trailers) in 2011 and BRIO (pushchairs and car safety) in 2013. As a result, the brand proposition has evolved considerably so aligning everything under one globally recognised brand name is the first step in Britax’s international rebranding efforts. Römer will become a sub-brand, continuing to set the standard in car seat safety, alongside Britax BOB, the sporty little brother providing products for active families.

    From October and for the next twelve months, the new brand identity will be rolling out globally across all Britax products and consumer touch points including TV, Print, Out of home, Digital and Retail.

    The first opportunity for parents to engage with the new brand is with the latest innovations in the 2015 collection, which include:
    •           The BRITAX KING II ATS - a car seat that automatically alerts parents to any slack in the harness – just as a vehicle seat does for drivers or passengers.
    •           The BRITAX ADVANSAFIX - a combination seat with a 5-point safety harness that adjusts as children grow older up to a weight of 25kg rather than the standard 18kg
    •           BRITAX TRIFIX THE BLACK EDITION - a limited edition, child seat combining pure elegance with optimal safety
    •           BRITAX is also revealing a brand new safety concept that will be added to its versatile pushchair the BRITAX SMILE in 2015 - an innovative brake system that automatically engages whenever there is no hand on the handle.
     
    These innovative, new products showcase the new brand in action, all running under the tagline ‘Be Free’ and each specially designed to take child mobility and safety to the next
    level, offering families more choice and more freedom no matter how active they are.  


    About Britax
    Britax is a global leader and innovator in child mobility dedicated to making family travel safer and easier throughout the journey of parenthood. Specialising in a complete range of premium car seats, strollers, baby carriers and accessories that meet modern family lifestyle needs, Britax’s mission is to inspire families to travel more freely, confident of safety, sure of style.
    Britax was founded in Britain in 1938 focussing initially on safety developments such as adult seat belts.  In the 1960s they launched the company’s first child car seat. In 1978, it merged with established German car safety counterpart Römer. More recently, Britax acquired the hugely popular outdoor stroller brand BOB in 2011 and the BRIO pushchair and car safety business in 2013.
    Now Britax maintains offices in 12 countries, operates in almost all countries globally and employs more than 1000 people.
     

    Cosatto Noodle Supa - Hen House Highchair Review

    We were recently sent the fabulously  bright and funky Noodle Super highchair from Cosatto to review, which came at a great time as Bee was eating dinner in a bumbo up til then!

    We chose the Hen House design out of the 4 exciting designs avaliable ( Pink Dilly Dolly, Monster Mash
    and the Yokels) for a handful of reasons - we love yellow!! (hello... Bee!), our next door neighbours have chickens who we visit! and also just because of the awesome happy bright colour!

    The Noodle Super is an amazingly versatile highchair which works absolutely perfect for our family
    due to its 6 height position seat. - we don't actually have a dining room table due to lack of space in our small house, so it was important to have a chair that could be quite low for me to feed Bee next to the sofa and this highchair ticks that box.

    Its very simple to move the chairs height up and down and it also has a 3 position seat so if your little one falls asleep during/after dinner then its easy to recline and let them doze... Bee however never falls asleep ANYWHERE other than his cot, hes a creature of habit haha.

    Keeping along the lines of things that are adjustable, the footrest also can
    come up, providing comfort for little legs which is brilliant and the whole seat is cushioned nicely so Bee can sit in there very comfortably for quite a while.

    It has a 5 point harness, which can be used just as a seatbelt too, this is how we use it with the tray on as Bee doesn't like to feel too restrained - so thats a great option too.

    The tray is lovely and spacious and tends to keep most food on too. It has a
    little ridged circle to keep a juice up in position aswell.

    With a one handed action you can pop the tray on and off and it also has different levels for when your baby grows and needs more room.

    We are really enjoying this highchair, its great to take Bee for breakfast and have him in something so bright and happy! The colours are engaging and fun and overall the Noodle Supa get a big thumbs up from us! Its even in the top 10 highchairs as voted in the Independant!

    You can find out more and purchase a Noodle Supa Highchair HERE

    Follow Cosatto on TWITTER, FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM.

    We were sent a highchair for the purpose of review.