Monthly Archives: February 2013


What age is the right age to go to your first live concert?

MadDad and I are avid music fans. Both of us love live music and have been to countless concerts and festivals. All of these have been BC (before children) and we have been thinking about when is the best time to take a child to their first live concert. I am not talking about talking a baby or toddler to a festival, but going and sitting though a live music concert.

Both the boys have seen The Wiggles live, but I am not sure that compares to a live concert. For a start the volume is a lot lower, designed to protect children’s vulnerable ears when a show is specifically designed for them and also the concert venue is filled with other children, so you know that attendees will not mind other children possibly screaming or crying.

The boys were 5 and 6 when we took them to their first proper concert we took the boys to was Glee Live at the O2. However, we were lucky enough to be able to watch the show from a private box with food and refreshments, so they boys did not need to stay in their seats. This was a brilliant introduction to live music, as we had the CD’s so they knew all of the songs and happily sung and danced along. Concerts also tend to happen after the boys bedtime and Glee was no exception, but being in a private box they had room to fall asleep and we could carry them.

Considerations to make

How long is the concert? Can your child sit though that length of time
Remember to factoring the travel time either side of the concert. My friend Cass at Frugal Family went to an Olly Murs concert this week and they didn’t get out of the car park till 10ish and Master Frugal actually fell asleep during the concert.
Does the artist have a matinee. One Direction often so, as there target market is tweens and teens.
Is the band Child friendly – remember lyrics are not censored when live! Use your common sense.I know that Rihanna would not be appropriate for the boys, not only language wise, but mannerism and dress wise, Although you can click here for Rihanna tickets, as I know that she is great live!
Talk values. Explain that you love the music, but do wish that the band wouldn’t swear and that often the flamboyance is put on for the stage. Your child needs to be mature enough to understand the difference.
When you do go

Make sure you agree a meet up point in case you lose each other
Protect your child’s ears. You can not reverse hearing damage
Talk about what they can expect to see at a concert and how busy it will be.
Be prepared for obscenities and have a response ready for if your child questions the use of swear words.
Have fun and relax.


Black and Decker Steam Mop Review 7

The Black & Decker® steam-mop™ with Autoselect® digital handle commands and steam burst technology easily gets rid of tough to move marks and germs with minimal effort, ensuring that your floors are sparkling clean. Ready to use in 15 seconds and it will run for 25 minutes on a single tank.

With Autoselect® digital handle command technology, simply push the button to select the specific floor type -hardwood/laminate, tile/ vinyl, or stone/marble – and the mop automatically releases the right amount of steam. Autoselect® helps to assure thorough yet delicate cleaning on all sealed hard floors and is even safe on sealed hardwoods. The addition of steam burst mode removes even the most stubborn dirt – it releases 50% more for steam in a concentrated 5 second burst when you need that extra cleaning power, you don’t get from ordinary steam mops. With the unique and innovative design of the delta lift off head you can, with a quick push of the foot peddle, use the triangular cleaning head to get in to all the corners of your home.

Kills 99% of bacteria and germs – no chemicals required.
Quick dry and streak free, it takes less time and work than a mop and bucket.
Swivel head for ease of use around furniture and awkward areas.
Self standing for convenience with auto shut off when locked in the upright position.
1600 watts.
6m power cord.
0.5 litre water tank capacity.
Ready to use in 15 seconds.
Steam ready indicator.
Steaming time 25 mins per tank.
Machine washable pads.
Suitable for all floor types.
Accessories included.
Weight 3.07kg.


The Digital Spring Clean in 5 Easy Steps

The Digital Spring Clean in 5 Easy Steps
Believe it or not, spring is on its way – which, for many people, means that spring cleaning isn’t far behind. It’s the established time for a proper tidy of your home, but what about your poor computer?
It may look neat and sleek on the outside but – if you’re like every other busy, normal person – chances are it’s a right old mess on the inside; cluttered desktop, even more cluttered inbox, old programmes and really old files and programmes.
A digital spring clean can help your computer run faster and more efficiently, and make it easier for you to actually find what you’re looking for on it.
Before you begin
A virus can undo all the good work you’re about to put into your digital spring clean, not to mention undo the entire computer itself.
So before you even start on the steps, check that you have antivirus software installed and running, and that it’s up to date. If you don’t, or it’s not, the first thing you really must do is search for a free antivirus download to ensure the protection of your computer and everything on it.
Step 1: Clean up your desktop
If your desktop was a real desk, would you be able to find anything on it? If not, clearing the clutter is a good first step in tidying up your computer – filing away or deleting old documents, files and programmes. And don’t forget to empty the bin – the Recycle Bin, that is.
Step 2a: The file clear out
If you regularly use your computer, then you’ve probably accumulated a hefty amount of files over time, which are no doubt taking up a hefty amount of your hard drive space.
For example, music files may have come down in size they can still add up – the same goes with picture files. If you’re not ready to press ‘delete’ on these just yet, you can at least burn them to a CD for safekeeping.
Temporary files can also build up, so utilise your Disk Cleanup option to clear out these files the computer creates.
Step 2b: The programme clear out
When you start to look at the programmes installed on your computer, you’ll probably find quite a few that you don’t use. Deleting these will not only free up hard drive space but can also help to avoid the crashes that happen when programmes with the same functions collide.
Remember that you need to do more than just delete the programme’s icon – that’s only a shortcut to the real programme. You’ll need to uninstall the programmes from your computer, which you can do from the Start menu through either the Uninstall from the All Programmes List or Uninstall from Control Panel functions.
Step 3: Back up, back up, back up
Even outside of spring cleaning it’s important that you back up or save your most important documents so you can rest assured that you won’t lose them if your computer crashes or is hit by a virus.
You can save these documents to an external hard drive or use an automated online backup programme, freeing up space for more everyday things that you want to have ready access to.
Step 4: Check your email
As your emails mount up, so does the space they take up – not only on your hard drive but also within your email programme.
Deleting old and unnecessary emails from your inbox is a start, but don’t forget those in your ‘Sent Mail’ folder too. And when you’ve deleted those you want to, remember to empty the ‘Deleted Items’ folder too.
Step 5: Organise your online files
If you have so many favourites that you can’t actually find the one you’re looking for, it’s time to do some filing. Internet Explorer makes this easy through its Organise Favourites function. Better still, take the time to delete the bookmarks you don’t actually use any more.
It’s also a good idea to empty your internet and browser cache regularly, as the junk files can add up over time. This will also help your browser run more quickly and securely.
And you’re done!
Congratulations – your digital spring clean is finished! Just one last tip – make sure you don’t wait until next spring to tidy up your computer if you want it to work at its best for you.


Reevoo and Kia

Their website now contains honest and hopefully unbiased reviews from actual customers.

In order to encourage people to submit a review they have teamed up with Reevoo to provide independently verified customer reviews. Reviews are never edited and the bad are shown along with the good. If a review is from a dealer or retailer Reevoo make it clear and reviews are transparent and only from verified purchasers. Reviews are not edited or altered. You can even ask existing owners questions about any of Kia’s cars.

Kia are helping to simplify the car buying process, making it easier for car seekers to find the best Kia vehicle for them. So whether you are in search of a new car or already a proud Kia owner, head to Kia’s website and check out the Kia reviews!

This is one of the reasons that Kia were named Car Manufacturer of the Year 2012 by Which?, the UK’s leading consumer association.

I also really like the fact that Kia offer a free 7 year (100000 mile) warranty too.


Half Term in Orlando 6

Maxi and I are spending the half term holiday in Orlando, Florida thanks to Visit Orlando. This is perfect timing for us to explore it all prior to our family holiday there in November with my brother and his family.

We will be exploring the major attractions including including Walt Disney World, Sea World Parks and Universal Orlando Resort.

I have taken a look at the Orlando Holiday Planning tool, so I know that the weather is going to be great and have packed our swimming things and the sun cream and for the first time I will not be taking prescription sunglasses on holiday and I am looking forward to being able to see things from the top of any rides we go on and not worry about my specs falling off.


Samsung, Monkey Thieves – sponsored video

If your house is anything like mine, your fridge will often be packed to the gills.So much so, that you have to take all sorts out to get to the item you want, leaving the door open for an age which is inefficient and heats the fridge up and more than that it is rather annoying

Even worse, when ever I ask one of the boys or MadDad to get anything they always open the fridge door and stand for an age looking for it , only to respond with “I can not find it”, leaving it to me to find it and my blood boiling.

Not so with this Samsung Fridge, it is so easy to see things and get at them even a monkey can do it!

It features an Easy Slide shelf which effortlessly slides out to enable more efficient organisation and easy storing and removal of groceries, while reducing dead space deep inside.   It also features a wider and deeper Big Guard door shelf, which is perfect for storing big and tall bottles or milk, milk and more milk.  This fridge really does not have any dead space.

In the bottom mounted freezer you can even control the temperature to keeps foods fresher for longer and even better it has  No Frost Technology prevents ice buildup on the inside of the freezer wall, so I would never have to defrost the freezer again.

It is also energy efficient, the digital inverter compressor automatically adjusts in response to cooling demands making it perfect for men that can never find what they are looking for in the fridge!


Al Fresco Holidays Young Story Writers competition

Do you have a budding novelist in your house?

Thompson Al Fresco Holidays have a fantastic Young Story Writers competition at the moment. The competition is for budding young story writers aged 6-12 years old and open until the 31st March 2013. Your child has to write a short story no longer than 500 words with the theme My Fantastic Journey. You never know they could win a family holiday for up to six people.

You might want to get your young story writer some inspiration and Jeremy Strong’ has created his very own story created exclusively for Al Fresco Holidays.


Team Skylanders 2

The good points:

The boys do not fight when playing Skylanders together. Although there is a lot of “battling” in the game, this does not creep out in to real life like it can in some games with the boys.
It is a pretty social game. They can share their figures with friends that also have Skylanders, even if they use a different games platform as the figures are universal.
Maxi loves the Mini games.
Even if you do not have extra figures you can still play a lot of the game.
No more worries about what birthday present to buy as it seems all the children play Skylanders, so a character is a great present.
The not so good points:

It can be hard for an adult to get their head around. I initially thought that we had to but the other 48 figures to be able to play all the game.
It is complicated getting to know which element each figure belongs too (for adults)
It could get expensive if you gave in to pester power


How Do I Care For My Laminate Flooring?

How Do I Care For My Laminate Flooring?

Any mum will tell you that keeping a tidy home is no easy feat. From tackling the bathroom and kitchen to reminding kids they need to make their beds and pack away their toys, cleaning the home is a full time job.

One area which can sometimes be overlooked in our quest to get everything spick and span is the floor. Laminates are a practical solution for the family home – but how should you care for them?

1. Sweep Daily

Sweeping your laminate floors daily will help to keep them clean and free of grit which could damage the floor. Some people choose to clean their floors by sweeping them, while other people use the hard floor attachment on the vacuum.

Whichever you use, the important thing is that the job is carried out regularly. Regular sweeping or vacuuming will mean that your floors need to be washed less often, saving you lots of time and effort.

2. Use A Damp, Flat Mop

When you do wash your laminate floors, you don’t want to use a dripping wet mop as this will leave stains on your flooring and could potentially seep through to the floorboards underneath, causing damage and possibly rot. Therefore, when you are washing your laminate floors, use a mop that is as dry as you can get it.

3. Pay Attention To Manufacturers Suggestions

Every laminate flooring is different and they all need to be looked after in a different way. Always follow the specific instructions you’re given carefully to ensure you don’t cause any unnecessary damage to the flooring.

4. Trial And Error

Often with laminate floors, people ask what they should clean them with. Very often, this is trial and error and varies depending on what people like and feels cleans their floor best. Some people prefer to make up their own floor cleaning solution, although this can be risky if you don’t know what you are doing. Opting for a dedicated laminate floor cleaner instead is a great option and guarantees your floor will be cared for properly.

Caring for laminate floors doesn’t have to be a hard or lengthy job, providing that proper precautions are taken. Your floors are expensive and you’ve worked hard to be able to afford them, so you might as well look after them to the best of your ability as they will be costly to replace in the future. Not caring for floors properly can lead to permanent damage, spoiling them forever.


Thinking about the future

“Make the world a better place” – the reaction to hearing this sentence varies from rolling the eyes and sighing, claiming how expensive everything alternative is or just shrugging with complete disinterest. They are only few people who recognize the importance of leaving the world in a healthy state for following generations and who think about how they can contribute to this in effective ways. Truth is however, that this is pretty simple and can be done by everyone without huge financial investments.

Some ideas
It always starts with little things that almost seem inconspicuous but add to a healthier and more ecological lifestyle in the end. Commonsense habits like switching off the light or heater when leaving a room are things that everybody can do to make a change without much effort.

Especially when living in a house of one’s own, there are far more things which can be done to contribute to a better environment and save money.

Installing solar panels. Since there are plans (in the UK for example), to cut the governmental subsidies drastically until April this year, everyone should hurry up and make up their minds about putting some solar panels on their roofs. Due to the fact that so many people have already decided to take this step, it is unfortunately affecting the support of the government but also positively changing the prices of solar energy plants. Companies like Trina offer good products for a fair price and various guarantees, so there is no question whether doing that step is sustainable or not, because it surely is even when the sun is not shining as the panels only need daylight, and not sunshine.

Installing rainwater tanks. Another possibility to save a lot of money is the usage of rainwater for some procedures in the house. With a tank on the roof, it is possible to store some water which can be used for flushing the toilets, watering the garden or cleaning the house for example. Like this, nobody is forced to waste tap water. The idea of a tank is useful in regions where it rains often, because the tank will be steadily refilled. And although we all know it rains more than it should in England, it doesn’t mean that this idea should be thrown out the window completely.


Going skiing with the family

Going skiing with the family
Going on a ski trip with the whole family can be a lot of fun. It is an extraordinary experience for parents and children. But planning these trips with the whole family is certainly not an easy task. You want to choose the right location. If you live in Europe then the slopes of Austria, Switzerland, northern Italy and France can be the best option. People living in the US will find exciting slopes in Colorado or in Canada. One of the challenges for the average family is certainly organizing a skiing holiday that is within a reasonable budget. Most of the good skiing locations are quite expensive, especially when planning a taking into consideration everything you will need to pay for.

Finding the right skiing holiday offer
Skiing is known to be a rather pricey sport, especially when going to some of the big skiing resorts. Apart from paying for the trip and hotel you might also need to buy or rent all the equipment. Nonetheless, there are some great deals to be found over the internet. Websites like snowtrex.co.uk can help with giving a comprehensive overview of the deals available and provides an estimation on how expensive the trip can be. It is certainly recommendable to use these websites to compare all the different options available and to then find the deal that best suits you and your family. It is certainly possible to enjoy a great skiing holiday without straining your budget too much, as long as you take a bit of time in finding and comparing holiday deals.
Once you have found your ideal holiday there are a few more things to take into consideration if you want to make it ‘picture-perfect’. The first thing to take into account is the right equipment. Everybody in your family will definitely need fitting skis, boots and a helmet. While ski helmets are still not mandatory everywhere they are highly recommended for both children and adults. If you and your family only go skiing sporadically, then it is usually a better option to rent all the necessary equipment at the skiing resort. This also puts aside the issue of having to transport everything. When choosing the right location you should also consider the skiing ability of all the family members. When finding slopes for young children it is usually a lot safer to stay on beginner or intermediate slopes. Most of the larger resorts offer slopes for all skill levels, but this is certainly worth checking before you go. Taking these few considerations into account the family holidays in winter will be an unforgettable experience.


Valentines Wreath 5

No how to on this post, as it was very straight forward, although I do wish I had been able to get red bells, instead of painting them and spraying them with matt clear sealer.

This wreath was inspired by a Christmas decoration I had seen at Salisbury’s and took a photo of. I used two thicknesses of florists wire, a think one to form the hear and then a thinner one to connect all the bells. The ribbon is red gingham from my stash. I have popped in on the front door, but instead of just hooking over the hanger, I have wrapped it round it. MadDad was concerned that it would jingle in the wind and bother us, but the only time it makes a noise is when the door is opened and closed.

When I take this one down I will be replacing it with an Easter one.

If you have made a wreath I would love to see it.


Concentrating on the positives………. 10

We have been making strides in improving Mini’s behaviour with help and advice from Franki.  It is really hard to see clearly when you are in the midst of horrible behaviour.  But she has really given us the ability to clarify what we need to do and support when things are not on track. So what are we doing? Firstly we have set realistic expectations with Mini.  He has a reward chart with what is expected of him on and we also included Maxi on it so he didn’t feel singled out. We are making the actions achievable We are working together as a team.  If he gets out of bed, we just tell him it is […]


Top 5 family cars

Top 5 family cars
The purchase of a new car is a major outlay for most families, and like the choice of a new house, it’s critical to get it right. The three criteria most frequently mentioned by purchasers as influencing their choice of make and model are safety, reliability and economy. Beyond those three key considerations, size of family and the age of children influence the choice of car.
As with all major purchases, planning ahead will ensure that you make the choice that’s right for your family. Budget, the use that you will make of the car – mileage, equipment that you need to carry, and environmental considerations – will all be factors to take into account. Of course subjective elements come into play, like design and style, but being sure of all the important demands that you will have of a family vehicle is the first step in making an informed choice. Use comparison sites on the internet to identify the best models within your budget, and read up on the relevant Which? Magazine reviews.
To get you started, Allianz Your Cover (www.yourcoverinsurance.co.uk) provides you with the top five family cars currently on the market:
• Family hatchbacks : the Hyundai i30 won the Car Buyer Best Family Car award for 2012, commended for the amount of space in the stylish family hatchback, and the equipment that comes as standard with all models – Bluetooth hands-free phone connection, air-conditioning and i-Pod socket. The car gets top marks for economy, the 1.6 CRDi diesel engine returning up to 70 mpg. And for peace of mind, the car comes with a Triple Care guarantee which is backed by an unlimited mileage warranty cover, free mechanical health checks and roadside assistance over a period of five years.
• Another popular family hatchback is the Volkswagen Golf, which has been completely redesigned to give it a modern and attractive interior, more boot and interior space than its predecessor. It provides the most demanding driver with the fun that they might miss in some of the more staid family cars on the market, whilst offering very high levels of safety and reliability. It gains a whopping score of 4.6 from Car Buyer for running costs, the 1.6 diesel version returning an average 88.3 mpg.
• For the larger family, MPVs have for a long time been the logical choice, and they have graduated from the rather sluggish and bland to the latest stylish and fun family vehicles. The Peugeot 5008 is the favourite choice of many, having won the What Car? Car of the year award for the combination that it offers of high-level equipment, economy (the diesel version offers an average of 62 mpg), and practicality. The interior seating is easy to adjust and reconfigure, and there is all the space that any family could need for luggage and shopping. The Peugeot is also very reasonably priced compared to some of its competitors.
• The Ford Grand C max is another favourite, with generous seating and great access to the rear of the vehicle provided by the sliding doors. It boasts an impressive level of equipment, including rear view camera for accident-free reversing, Bluetooth with voice control, and a power start button.
• The Volkswagen Touran is one of the most eco-friendly family cars on the market, being equipped with the VW blue motion technology for improved fuel efficiency. It has been judged the car in its class likely to make motorists cash go the furthest, and the level of equipment in all models is high, with air-conditioning, speed control, and an 8-speaker sound system that the kids will love!


The joy of learning something new 17

2013, the year of “Choosing Joy”, but also the year of learning.  This is the year that I start to take time out for me and put these grey cells in my brain in to some use.  Where I try to see if an old dog can learn new tricks! I am doing this in a couple of ways, firstly I am trying to improve my photography by taking a Capturing Childhood course.  I have started on the Collect the Moments e-course.  It is challenging me to think differently and I am learning lots of new things about my six year old camera.  I have even ordered a remote control so I can “be in the picture” more often.  The Kats’ are helpful, insightful and […]


Enjoy a Warmer House and Save Pennies!

Enjoy a Warmer House and Save Pennies!
Winter is dragging on, as it always does, and spring still feels far, far away. Britain is gripped in the limbo that hangs between Christmas and pink blossoms, with the weather getting colder, snow falling erratically and skies looming grey overhead. It certainly highlights the stress of having a draughty, chilly home. Many struggle on with old, clapped out boilers and single glazing windows, knowing they simply cannot afford the upfront cost of having them replaced. Draught excluders look pretty, but they aren’t doing much to keep out that February chill and the kids are moaning that their onesies aren’t blocking out Jack Frost’s nip.
So, what on Earth is one to do?! All hail… The Green Deal, a government scheme aimed at making properties across the UK more energy efficient at no upfront cost to homeowners. The initiative was launched on Monday 28th January, much to the bemusement of many homeowners that haven’t even heard of it. However, not to worry, the government plans for this scheme to gradually develop over the coming months and years, shaping Britain into a greener place to live.
There are many measures that come under the Green Deal Scheme, which include things such as the installation of new boilers, insulation and double glazing. Any property that registers its interest in the scheme will undergo a Green Deal Assessment, in which an accredited advisor will survey the house and inform the owners of which measures could and should be taken to make it a more comfortable place to live.
This work will then be carried out by Green Deal Installers, and financed through a Green Deal loan. Heck, it’s green, green, green! The loan will be attached to the property, not the person, and will be paid back through the property owner’s energy savings. A charge for the work will be added on to energy bills, but will never be allowed to exceed the amount of money the owner is saving due to their home improvements.
It’s a win-win situation and has been designed to help the government reduce the country’s carbon footprint, whilst simultaneously tackling the problem of rising energy prices and fuel poverty. The perfect scheme for families who struggle on through British winters but can’t afford to renovate their homes, the Green Deal is also a great way to get on board with helping the environment.


Laser Surgery – The Small Stuff 10

Not wishing that my glasses had windscreen wipers in the rain
Being able to see my eyes more clearly and therefore, the bags underneath them.
The joy of trying to find sunglasses in the winter and those sunglasses not having to be special prescription ones.
Knowing that I will not have to wear bifocals or varifocals
My glasses not steaming up when I open the oven door
Not having to remove my glasses at the hairdressers, which means I can see my hair being cut
Being able to straighten my hair without having to remove my specs and being able to see myself in the mirror and therefore, not burning my ear all the time.
Being able to go on roller coasters without worrying I will lose my glasses.
Not falling asleep in specs and waking up with them bent as I have been laid on them.
No more costs associated with new glasses each year and the horror of finding frames that suit me.
Did I say that swimming is fun again……
So would I do it again? Yes I would. I am still having a few issues with dry eyes and night time halos round lights when driving, but that is getting better and better each week.


How to plan the perfect family holiday

How to plan the perfect family holiday

If the idea of planning a family trip fills you with dread, never fear! Sun, sea and sand don’t have to mean snapping, shouting and sulking. There are plenty of ways to keep things simple while making sure everybody gets what they want. Here are a few tips for planning an enjoyable break…

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rueful/6671265895/

Include everyone

Planning a family holiday can get really complicated really fast, and it can be tempting to make all of the decisions yourself to avoid any conflict. However, it’s a good idea to include your kids in the planning process if you want to avoid sulks or squabbles later – leaving you free to enjoy an afternoon or two to yourself!

Have each member of the family choose one thing they’d like to do during the holiday and make it clear that everyone else will join in. You may have a few clashes, but this way everybody gets to do what they like.

Pick the right spot

If just the two of you were going away together to celebrate your personal success story, you’d pick somewhere wonderfully romantic – but for the family holiday you need to pick somewhere everyone can enjoy themselves.

A luxurious hotel that isn’t big on kids’ facilities will never work for a family break. Neither will a remote camping holiday if you have a gadget-loving partner! Try to pick somewhere that incorporates everybody’s interests – a seaside resort with a nearby town, or a city with the countryside within easy reach.

Even though it’s a family break, there’s no reason why you can’t pick something you and your partner will enjoy together. Why not return to the place where you first met? Or perhaps you found each other through online dating after finding a shared passion for Spain. Pick somewhere that means something to you both.

Of course, there will need to be plenty to do for the whole family. You might not be up for constant activity, but your kids will! An active holiday will keep them interested and give them lots of great memories. Look into what’s on offer in each place before you book.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/holiday-extras/6841547545/

Keep it simple

While kids love to try new activities, they will be less thrilled about being moved around a lot on their break. Pick one destination and stick to it for the whole holiday if you can. Your kids may get worn out and irritable with lots of changing venues – they’ll like a place they can explore and get to know.

Practicalities

First things first: don’t share a room with your kids! Rain might keep you cooped up indoors or your son might decide to wake you up at five in the morning because he’s bored. If you share your room with more people than your partner and a baby or toddler, it’ll never be a proper break.

Most hotels offer rooms with interconnecting doors, which is the ideal way to keep an eye on your kids while getting some privacy for yourself. The key to enjoying a family break is not to over-organise once you’re there – make sure you have some relaxation time for yourself!