Saturday, 28 February 2015

Keeping My Children Safe Online

My oldest daughter Chloe is twelve and these days she no longer plays with toy's, instead preferring to spend all of her free time in her room talking to her friends online or watching the latest Zoella video. Her room is full of the latest technology she owns a laptop, tablet, iphone and ipod and sometimes even uses all four of them at once so she can do multiple things online. Sometimes i find her watching a you tube video on her laptop while talking to her friends on her phone while searching for things on her tablet and listening to music on her ipod.

All Of Chloe's Gadget's
Times have certainly changed as when i was her age there was no such thing as tablets and iphones, we had a family pc which was in the dining room so my parents could see what myself and my brother were up to, although there was no social media sites back in those days. I do worry about what Chloe is up to online and we have parental blocks on are broadband to stop her accessing adult content and we also regularly check all of her devices and social media accounts. However the Internet is now such a huge part of everyday life and children and teenagers are spending more time then ever online. Some of the Social media channels Chloe uses i had never even heard of such as ooVoo and Kik. 

So it comes as no surprise to me when i recently read an article on Tech Lounge which had picked up on some research carried out by My Voucher Codes about what us parents were most concerned about with are children being online, and which i actually took part in myself .The results show that parents are most worried about online bullying and children sharing inappropriate images online and accessing adult content. The results showed that 
  • 58% of parents are extremely worried about online bullying
  • 49% of parents were extremely worried about children accessing adult content
  • 49% of parents were extremely worried about children sharing inappropriate image
  • 48% are concerned about online grooming
  • 44% are concerned about there child accessing extremism
  • 57%  were concerned about addiction to social media
  • 66% are concerned about effects on education
  • 55% have concerns about privacy
  • 49% have concerns on there child's long term health
  • 65% were not worried about children running up huge bills
As a parent i worry about everything on this list, the media is always full of heartbreaking stories of teenagers committing suicide due to online bullying these days and also of young girls meeting strangers off the Internet whom they have been groomed by. As a parent i feel the Internet can be both a wonderful place but also a terrifying one at the same time. 

As a blogger i am also very careful about what i share online i make sure i do not share my children's surnames, the town where we live, where my oldest goes to school, and i also do not share that many photographs of them online either.

For me my biggest fear's are online grooming , sharing inappropriate images and online bullying closely followed by privacy concerns. I regularly talk to Chloe about online dangers and ensure that she only adds people she knows to social media and that all of her accounts are set to private. I also regularly check all of her devices and accounts when she is not expecting me to so that she can not delete anything beforehand. And i hope that if anything happened online such as bullying she would feel that she could talk to me about it.Which is what most parents said that they also do to protect there children in the My Voucher Codes survey.

The results also surprised me a little as some of the things on the list such as accessing extremism had never even crossed my mind, although this is a very common thing happening in this day and age. I also never thought about her online use affecting her long term health in anyway although if she was bullied or became addicted to social media then i am sure it would have a huge impact upon her future long term health. I am currently not worried about her running up a huge bill as she only has a pay as you go mobile and she can not access her itune account as we have set it up so she need to ask us to put the password in for her when she wants to download something. Although i do sometimes worry as she gets older she may run up a big bill as i ran up a huge phone bill when i was a teenager, sorry dad. 

As a parent results like this show us that we all have concerns about are children's safety whilst online and it also gives us some things to think about that we may never have thought about before and which we can now be more aware of. If you have children i would love to know what you do to protect your child online and what concerns you have about them going online, as i find it a great worry and want to ensure i am doing everything i can to keep my children safe online. 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Wicked Wednesday 25/02/15

If i try and take a photo of my 20 month old daughter she will either hide 

Or run away 

So we have no recent photos of her . People with toddlers please share your secrets of how you manage to get lovely photographs of your toddlers.


Sunday, 22 February 2015

Organising A Christening

 Two week's ago my baby boy Jacob was christened and we had a wonderful day with all of are family celebrating his special day with around 100 guests. A lot of people think that to get your child christened you need to attend church or that it will cost a lot of money and take a lot of organising , but it really does not at all. So i thought that i would do a quick guide on how we organised Jacobs day . This was the second time we had organised a christening in just over a year as we had Sophia christened in September 2013.

1.) The first thing to organise is the church. You do not have to attend church to get your child christened, all three of my children were christened in different churches and i have never attended church before. We just rang up a local church and asked about booking a christening , they then asked some details over the phone and booked in a date for us. We were asked if we wanted the minister to come out or if we wanted to do everything over the phone, the minister came to visit us at home and just asked about godparents and it was just an informal chat and she was absolutely lovely. You do not need to pay for a christening service either they are free of charge , however they do have donation boxes in the church for you and your guests to leave some change in if you wish which we did.

2.) Book a venue for afterwards. Every christening i have been to there has been some kind of celebration afterwards with my oldest i just had it in my mums house but as both myself and Lee have big extended family's we booked a function room for Sophia and Jacobs christening. We just booked a function room in the local social club as it was close to the church and it allowed children in. We just had to pay a £25 deposit for the room and we had are own room with a bar and two bar staff.

3.) Food. If you are having a party then you are going to need food , we were going to book a caterer for the day but Lee works for a well known bakery and gets a discount so we got a lot of the food like cupcakes etc from his work. My dad also made some pies and Lee's grandma made quiches and we just brought ready made party foods. So it was quick and easy and it worked out cheaper then having a caterer.

4.) Christening cake. We wanted a cake and i can not bake at all so we ordered a one from a local cake maker where we also got Sophia's birthday cake from. We opted for a two tier blue and white cake with a train on as the christening invites we had also had a train on. It was a vanilla sponge and and it was delicious, much better then shop brought cake.

5.) Godparents. Jacob has four godparents , Chloe has three and Sophia has six. You can have as many godparents as you want . With Jacob we had Lee's brother, my dads partners daughter , Lee's cousin and Chloe's old childminder who is also a good family friend. We wanted godparents who we knew well and who we knew would like being a godparent so that is why we had family and close friends.

6.) Baby's outfit. All eyes will be on the baby , i know it is traditional to put baby's in christening gowns but Jacob is a little boy and i did not really want him in a frock. So his grandma brought him a little suit its a little pair of trousers with a white shirt and cream tie and waistcoat and little cream socks. He looked adorable in his little outfit and he was comfortable in it too. He also had a christening shawl which was his sisters and his great grandma brought him a special christening bib to match his outfit. The minister told us you can put them in any outfit you want and she sees baby's in traditional long gowns and smart outfits to baby grows.

7.) Guest list. We had around 100 guests as we both have big family's my mum was one of eight and my dad was one of five and Lee also has a big family too. We invited both of are family's and we also invited some close friends and we let Chloe invite some of her school friends too. The church was full with no spare seats and so was the room afterwards. I think christenings are lovely for spending time with all your family and friends celebrating your child's special day. We ordered personalised invites with little trains on and sent them to everyone a few weeks before the big day.

8.) Entertainment/  Decoration. I have been to christenings where there have been discos and where there have been children entertainers. But we did not book any entrainment as there was a juke box in the room we booked for music and most of the children at the christening were too young for entertainment and were happy just toddling around. We did have a sweet table though with lots of jars filled with sweets and little blue paper bags to put the sweets in. We also brought some decorations but we did not go overboard we just had a few blue christening banners and some blue christening balloons.

9.) Mum and dads outfits. We brought the girls new dresses and shoes for the christening weeks in advance but me and Lee typically left are outfits to the last minute with Lee buying his shirt and tie from Next the day before the christening. I ordered my dress online from New Look and hated it as it was shorter then i thought it would be so i would recommend getting mum and dads outfits in really early so you have a outfit you are happy with.

10.) Take photos and enjoy the day! I took my camera with me for photos but i totally forgot i had it and only took a few photos on it, i did have my iphone though and took quiet a few photos on there but my iphone has died, something to do with the graphic chip ( i have no idea what that is) and now i have lost all my photos and all Jacobs baby photos and i could cry that i have lost them all. So i would recommend taken loads of photos and getting them printed off ASAP. Also enjoy the day as it is so nice to spend the day with family and friends.

So  that is how we organised Jacobs christening it was really easy to organise , was not to expensive and we had a great day celebrating are little boys big day with all are family and friends. Look out for a blog post about his big day soon.

The List

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Win £50 To Spend On Mothers Day Gifts At Toxic Fox

Mothers day is fast approaching as it is on Sunday the 15th March this year , so it is only a few week's away. If you are looking for some inspiration in finding that perfect gift then you really should check out Toxic Fox's mothers day collection they have gifts to suit every budget and every mum from funny gifts and unique gifts to sentimental gifts you are sure to find the perfect gift for your mum that i am sure she will love.

And you can win £50 to spend on Mothers day gifts at Toxic Fox and what's better there is four chances to win! To be in with a chance of winning simply visit Toxic Fox's Mothers day collection, find your perfect gift and then share it on social media. You can either share on Facebook, tweet on Twitter, pin on Pinterest or G+ on google + using the social share buttons on the toxic fox page making it super easy to take part. But be sure to use the hashtag #toxicfox so they can see your entry. There will be four winners one for each social media channel. So what are you waiting for go visit Toxic Fox pick a mothers day gift and get sharing and you will be in with a chance of winning a £50 voucher to treat your mum with this mothers day.

There really is so many amazing gifts to chose from but i had a good chuckle at the comedian mum section and i love this diet kit ,i also love the loving mum section and this print. I would love to know what your favourite gift on the Toxic Fox site is.

The competition starts today the 18th Febuary 2015 and closes on the 1st of March 2015. Full terms and conditions can be found here

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Book Review : The Book Of You

I do love a good book and have always been a bit of a bookworm, but i admit i am more of a chick lit, romantic comedy kind of girl who adores Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella novels to psychological thrillers. So when i was sent The Book Of You , a debut novel by author Claire Kendal which is a psychological thriller i really did not think it was a book i would enjoy. But oh how wrong i was.

I started reading this book last Monday and after the first few chapters, that was it i was hooked and could not put this book down and had finished reading it by Tuesday, no mean feat when you are a mum to three children. This book constantly leaves you guessing and has so many twists and turns you just have to read on to find out what happens.

The book is about Clarissa a recently single childless women in her late thirty's who works at a university and she has been selected for a lengthy jury service duty. The trial she is sitting on centres around a brutal kidnapping and rape and she starts to see similarities between what happened to the victim in the trial to what is happening in her own life. Clarissa is being stalked by a work colleague Rafe whom you learn early on in the story that she spent a drunken night with and who has since became obsessed with her, following her, sending her unwanted gifts and constantly ringing her.

Clarissa starts writing down everything Rafe does as a way of documenting his behaviours as she try's to gather evidence of what he is doing to her, So the book often shifts from first person where Clarissa is writing in her diary to third person when Clarissa is going about her normal everyday life. I found this a bit confusing at first but it works wonderfully having the story told in this way.

Clarissa sees the jury duty as a way of escaping Rafe's unwanted attention but as time goes on Rafe steps up his stalking campaign with terrifying consequences. You soon learn that the night that she spent with Rafe was not just a drunken night but was actually a date rape and he becomes more and more obsessed with her. At times i found myself willing Clarissa to avoid certain situations or to report his actions ,but who knows how anyone would act in such a situation.

When i got near the end of this book there was such an unexpected turn of events that you really do not see coming at all, and this to me is what makes this book so fantastic. As each time you turn the page you have no idea what will happen and it constantly leaves you wanting to keep reading and find out more.

The book constantly refers to fairy tales throughout and you are hoping that Clarissa gets her happy ever after in the end. But the ending of this book leaves you guessing a bit, i wanted to find out more. But this book is dark and is not the kind of book where ' they all lived happily ever after ' exists which makes a refreshing change.

Overall i loved this book, i really want to go in to more detail but i fear that if i do i will give the story away and this is a book that i think you have to read for yourself to appreciate how wonderfully it is written. This really is a one of those books that you can describe as a 'real page turner' that 'you can not put down' and that has so many twists and turns it will keep you guessing right up until the very end. If you love thrillers then this is the book for you , but even if like me you don't normally read them then i think that you will still thoroughly enjoy this book. Although i would not recommend reading it if you live alone before bedtime as it can be truly terrifying and gruesome in places. I will be looking out for future books from Claire Kendal as this one was so beautifully and cleverly written that it truly had me hooked until the end.

* Disclosure : I was sent this book for free from Mumsnet  for the purpose of this review , however all opinions are my own honest account of this book. 


January Degustabox

For a couple of months now i have been lucky enough to have received monthly food subscription boxes to review from Degustabox and you can read my last review here. I absolutely love receiving these boxes each month as i have no idea what is inside them until i open them and see what treats are inside the box. Each month i have received these boxes i have found different products and brands to try out which has been great as i love trying new products out and it is nice that each box is different and not full of the same products each month.

If you are unsure of the concept of Degustabox it is basically a monthly food subscription box service. You sign up on the Degustabox website and you pay the monthly subscription fee which is £12.99 per month which includes postage and packaging. Then once a month you will receive a box delivered to your door full of between 9-14 surprise food and drink items. Each month the food and drink items will be completely different and it is a great way to try out and discover new products that you may never have tried or heard of before .The great thing about Degustabox is that there is no long sign up commitment you can cancel your subscription at any time as long as you cancel before the 10th of the month you wont be charged. It really is as simple as that.

I received my January Degustabox two weeks ago so this review is a bit late due to having poorly children all last week and Jacobs christening the week before. So here is a look at what was inside my January Degustabox which was labelled a health box.

  •  One bottle of Alfa One Rice Oil RRP £2.00. I have never tried rice oil before i received this but i have heard that it is healthy and it tastes nice when you use it in cooking and the food is not greasy like it can be with some oils and it can be used in so many ways. It is also high in antioxidants such as Vitamin E and can help reduce cholesterol absorption. Perfect for use if you want to eat cleaner and more healthier.
  •  One bottle of KoKo Diary Free RRP £1.39. Again this was not a product that i had ever tried before as i am not a huge milk drinker but this is a nice alternative to cows milk as it is made with freshly pressed coconuts. It also contains fewer calories then skimmed milk and is 100 % allergen free. My twelve year old daughter loved this and said it tastes just like normal milk on her cereal.
  • One packet of Kabuto Noodles RRP £2.00. I had never even heard of these before i received them and i think it was a nice touch they were added to the box to coincide with Chinese new year. We received the chicken , ginger, chilli and coriander flavour. These are like a grown up more authentic type of noddle snack. 
  • One box of Sukrin cake mix RRP £5.00. I had never heard of this before but the girls love baking so i am planning on making a cake with this in the next few days, i am hoping it is easy as i am not the best of bakers. This cake mix is free from sugar, gluten, wheat and eggs which is great for people trying to eat healthy or who suffer from allergies. 
  • One box of Finn Crisp RRP £1.20 I am not a big fan of crisp breads but i have heard from my dad who i gave them too that they are lovely and taste nice. They are low in fat , rich in fibre and are made with only natural ingredients. So are perfect for anyone eating healthy.
  • One carton of Simplee Aloe RRP £1.79. This is a refreshing drink that actually tastes nice as it is Aloe Vera mixed with fresh grape juice and lemon to make it taste nice as well as being super healthy. 
  • Two bottles of Little Miracles RRP £1.49 each. These were a big hit with my twelve year old daughter. They are organic tea and juice and they taste lovely and refreshing. We will be buying these again. 
  • Two pots of Mornflake RRP £1.15 each. These are lovely they are little porridge pots that came with a topping to mix into the porridge to make them extra tasty. We received a Nutella topping and a Golden Syrup one. They were so quick and easy to make just add hot water and stir and they tasted delicious. We will be buying these again. 
  • One jar of Haywards Piccalilli RRP £1.89 . I think most people will be familiar with this piccalilli my dad has jars of this in his cupboards. It is great to use in sandwiches. 
  • One bottle of Magners cider RRP £1.99. The other half loves Magners ciders and he demolished this although i did get a little taste and it was lovely and fruity. I like the fact that it is a lighter version of normal Magners , perfect for those of us on diets and trying cut down the calories in alcohol. 
  • One pack of Clipper Green Tea. This was included as a special extra gift in the box and is a sample pack of ten teabags.

So what did i think? 

When the box arrived there was a leaflet inside that said it was a January health box, i thought that this was a great idea as so many people , myself included are on some kind of health kick at this time of year. Being a health box every item in the box was healthy , even the alcohol was a light version. Even though this was a health box i liked the fact that there was still 'treats' included such as the Magners and the cake mix and the treats were healthy versions that you can still enjoy while being on a diet.

There was some brands that i was familiar with such as Magners and Haywards Piccalilli but there was also lots of brands and products that i had either not heard of or had not tried in the box too such as the Alfa rice oil and the Little Miracles drinks. I enjoyed trying out the products that i had never tried before and it was nice to be able to try them out without feeling guilty and falling off the diet waggon.

The contents of this months box is worth £22.54 so this is a lot more then the £12.99 that you would actually pay for the box. Every box that i have received the contents are worth almost double the price that you pay, so i think that they are fantastic value for money as the price you pay also includes your postage too.

If you like the look of these boxes then you can order a one yourself and it is so quick and easy to do you just visit the Degustabox website,  fill in your details and pay £12.99 per month for your box via direct debit which includes postage and packaging so no hidden extra costs. If you order before before the 20th of the month you will receive your box at the end of that month and if you order on or after the 21st of the month you will receive the box by the 8th of the following month. You will get a text message when your box has been dispatched and then you can track your parcel or change your delivery date if you wont be home. You can also cancel your subscription at any time by contacting Degustabox before the 10th of the month. Easy peasy.

You can follow Degustabox yourself on twitter or facebook and see what others think of these boxes as i am not the only one who thinks that they are rather amazing. If you fancy ordering your own box then i have a discount code which will give you £3 off your first box meaning that you will only pay £9.99 which is a total bargain. The code is 1U0T6 and you just enter it at the checkout when ordering to receive your £3 discount.

If you try out Degustabox yourself i would love to know what you think as i am sure you will love them just as much as i do.

* Disclosure : I was kindly sent this Degustabox free off charge for the purpose of this review , however all opinions are my own honest account of the products we received. 

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Dettol Baby Blanket Campaign

As a mum of three i have loads of baby products in my house and one thing i seem to have a lot of in the back of my cupboard is baby blankets that never get used as we seem to have built up a bit of a collection of them over the years. Obviously i still use blankets with my baby son Jacob as he is only five months old , he has a few special ones that we got him before he was born and that he loves being wrapped up with in his pram to keep warm. 

But some baby's born in poverty or in need here in the UK as well as around the world do not have a nice warm clean blanket to snuggle up to. So Dettol have teamed up with UK children's medical research Charity Sparks to work together on the Dettol baby blanket campaign. 

The campaign is to encourage all of us parents who may have unused baby blankets lurking in there cupboards , like me , to donate any blankets they no longer use or need. The blanket will then be washed in Dettol Anti-Bacterial Laundry Cleanser which kills 99.9 % of bacteria making the blankets nice and clean. The blankets will then be given to a baby in poverty or need.  

Here is a little video about the campaign presented by the campaigns ambassador Rachel Stevens 

You may be thinking that you have one or two baby blankets that you no longer use but are worried that it will cost a fortune to send them in? Well don't be as it will not cost you anything as you send them to a freepost address where they will then be washed and cleaned ready to be given to a child who would really love and appreciate a nice warm blanket. Dettol Anti-Bacterial Laundry Cleanser has also pledged to donate £1 to Sparks for every blanket donated which will go towards helping UK families who are effected by serious illness or disability. 

I have found a few blankets that i will posting off myself for such a worthwhile cause but i need to hurry as the campaign closes on Friday the 13th February which is in a few days time. If you too have a blanket you can donate that you no longer use then just put it in an envelope and post it to.
Dettol Baby Blanket Donation
The Hay Loft
Balcombe place Stables
RH17 6AZ

You can also find out more about the campaign on twitter at @DettolBlanket or following the hashtag #sharethememories 

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

A Valentine Gift From Toxic Fox

Now it is the start of February attention is starting to turn to valentines day. Myself and the other half always buy each other a gift as i think it is a nice way to show the one you love how much you care about them. And lets face it sometimes when you are a parent romance is often the last thing on your mind and ends up being rather neglected. I always struggle buying a valentines gift for my other half as like a lot of men he is so hard to buy for. He would not appreciate chocolates or a cuddly toy which is all the shops seem to be full of. I wanted something unique, something that he could keep and something that would actually mean something.

I searched in the shops and online and i found nothing. And then i discovered Toxic Fox. An online gift store that specialises in personalised and unique gifts. They sell everything from experience days to personalised gifts such as Claireabella and Typograph of love.They stock sentimental gifts, funny gifts and naughty gifts .They really do have a gift for everyone and to suit every budget with a section full of gifts costing less then £20. I can see Toxic Fox becoming my new go to gift shopping site as i have seen some brilliant items i can buy people for gifts and they even have a handy gift idea section on there website for those of us who struggle with what to buy.

I was lucky enough to be sent a really wonderful valentines gift to review that ticked all the boxes, it was unique, it was something that can be kept and it was something that would mean something. My search was over. We were sent the personalised lovers tile framed print. The personalised lovers tile is a scrabble style print that has your own and your partners names on scrabble tiles linked together. It even has a word count at the bottom of what your names add up to, perfect for all the scrabble players out there. You can also customise the print so that it includes the date that you first met your partner and you can add a message of up to 100 letters .The print is on high gloss paper and comes in a stylish black frame and measures 30 x 40 cm. So is a good sized picture. It is priced at £24.99 which i think is very reasonable for such a good quality personalised item.

When the personalised lovers tile framed print arrived i was immediately impressed. It was well packaged and arrived in perfect condition. It was a bit bigger then i was expecting it to be, but that is a good thing as it will look great on the wall. It comes in a good quality black frame which is stylish yet practical as it will suit any decor. The back of the frame is nice and secure as you can see from my photograph so no worry of the print falling out or getting damaged. The print itself looks amazing and is such high quality and looks very professional which i am pleased about as you sometimes find with personalised items that they can be a bit cheap looking but this is not the case at all with this print. It has the names on big scrabble letter graphics printed in the middle and then the date we met in the top left corner with the message i wanted which says " The day i met my soul mate ". You can add any message you like to your print. In the bottom right corner there is a word count and we scored 14 which the other half informed me is fairly low score. I had no idea as i don't play scrabble.

I really love this print i was planning on hanging it on are bedroom wall as it is nice and romantic but i think i will be hanging it in are hallway instead as it is such a lovely print and i want everyone to be able to see it. I really can not recommend Toxic Fox and these prints enough as they are so well made and such a lovely unique personalised keepsake. The website is full of lots of equally gorgeous pieces. So if you are struggling of thinking of a valentines gift idea for your loved one then i recommend you check out Toxic Fox as i am sure that you will find the perfect gift at the perfect price for the one you love this valentines day. Personally if i received something like this print or something from Toxic Fox for valentines day then i would be very happy , hint hint Lee. So if you are looking for the perfect gift for valentines day or any occasion visit