Thursday, 20 July 2017

SS Great Britain Bristol School Summer Holidays 2017

From 22nd July to 3rd September there is so much happening in the school Summer holidays, for children, at Bristol's iconic ship The SS Great Britain. We were invited to the launch of the Summer activities last night to an out of hours social affair and my Aaron and Lottie were both absolutely CAPTIVATED.

They are watching:
Bristol-based Cirque Bijou bring a Victorian Summer Circus to Brunel's SS Great Britain. 
Watching Bristol's Cirque Bijou Victorian Summer Circus at Brunel's SS Great Britain
Above is their view from the upper deck of the ship itself. The Circus is at ground level. It's not quite as idyllic a scene as the photo leads you to think, as Aaron climbed up that mesh you see in front of the railings, so then so too did Lottie for the duration of the circus act. So rather than enjoy it in that adult way you can pre-kids, I actually spent it letting her climb to the job (holding my breath) while then gently placing her down, only for her to do the same thing again, ad infinitum. Luckily they were very well behaved before and after that, so it was a relaxed and fun evening, where each time I got distracted (or mingled) the lovely Jenni from Travel to Recovery minded Lottie for me
By the time the above pic was taken Lottie has had a costume change as the heat of the day was starting to cool away. Thankfully the rain held off till 8 o'clock which luckily was the exact same time the event was due to end. But speaking of costume changes you can get dressed up at the SS Great Britain which is great fun:
It was so much fun being on the upper deck, even though the circus act and the food and drink were at ground level, as it meant we got to meet all of the period costume people, like a Victoria child from steerage, below, and of course we were blessed with a great view. Not only of the circus act, but also there is a great view of Bristol from the SS Great Britain. I've taken pics with that fab Bristol view as a backdrop in the past.

  1. 1.
    the part of a ship providing the cheapest accommodation for passengers.
  2. We even got to meet a period Police Man from 1851 from White Chapel. I was fascinated as he's been a R
    eenactor for many years AND was a real life Police Officer for 27 years.
  3. The brilliant thing is, the things we experienced last night, were not only part of the launch (although we were treated to pies, ice cream, candy floss and drinks). You can see the Victorian Summer Circus Cirque Bijou all throughout the Summer holidays for free (after paying entrance to the SS Great Britain, entrance that will last you a year) and take part in circus skills workshops as below.
  4. When you are up on deck though, make sure you take the stairs/lift down to the lower decks as there is SO much to look at and my Aaron never seems to get bored of it. He loves the mouse/rat in the kitchens and all of the dormitories with bunkbeds. Also go below deck (before entering the ship) where there is a controlled temperature and lots to see. Despite visiting the SS Great Britain many times, we find something new that delights and astounds us each and everytime. Helped by the fact that the team provides supplementary activities that regularly rotate. Last time it was shovelling coal and meeting a worker from the boat's engine room, this time the wonderful circus. It's so worth a visit as like I said earlier your entrance price gives you membership for a year. Don't let rain keep you away, as so much of what is wonderful about the SS Great Britain is the lower deck cabins and the museum which are all sheltered. Bye for now, Liska xxx

  5. P.s. No doubt Jenni will be writing about the event too soon if only to say thank you for the candy floss LOL. Yep indeed she blogged about it straight away like me:
  6. Was such a wonderful evening and it was so lovely to be at a venue we feel so comfortable in that the kids now know their way around. It must be a while since we've been to a bloggers' event though as when I asked Aaron to queue up for an icecream for him and Lottie he said "but Mummy I don't have any money" bless him. Thanks for having us SS Great Britain and we'll be back.
  7. It was wonderful to see Purple Ella, Sarah and Natacha too.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Ready Brek Goes on a Bear Hunt

We're Going on a Bear Hunt has been our favourite book for many many years. It was Aaron's nursery that first got me into it and I was amazed that Aaron was able to finish each line of the book at such a young age (2 years and 4 months) so recorded him doing so. Aww listening to that has made me all nostalgic for my baby boy Aaron and makes me want to hear little Lottie speak. Very soon after that video was recorded we of course quickly bought our own copy of We're Going on a Bear Hunt and it was one that came with a copy of the DVD, which literally animates the illustrations, perfectly!
Ready Brek and We're Going on a Bear Hunt
I've always been a huge fan of Ready Brek! In fact me and my Step Dad used to take it in turns to make it for each other every morning all through my teens. I had to be careful because I like it literally so that the spoon can stand up in it whereas he liked it runny. Actually even in recent years (well pre-2012 when I got made redundant) me and my colleague used to get to work early and make it for each other. Spooky but I have just realised that they are both Virgo (I think) so that's a funny lil coincidence.
Ready Brek Chocolate
I was delighted to discover that Ready Brek make versions for children as you can see above AND have teamed up with our favourite book We're Going on a Bear Hunt. Aaron likes to have his Ready Brek in his favourite bowl. A bowl he's had since his Christening many years ago. It also features a bear. The most famous of bears.
I recently had my friend (pictured left of me above) over and she brought along her friend, which means we had 3 hungry pre-schoolers for a play date pre-lunchtime. They were aged: Lottie 16 months, Arthur 18 months and Timmy nearly 3 years. I was very excited to get the Ready Brek Super Fast Sachets Chocolate Flavour Super Smooth Oats out. Being that you can microwave them in 90 seconds I knew my guests would barely notice that their hostess had disappeared inside for a moment. Whilst they supervised the kids playing with water in the garden (we've had a heatwave don't you know) I snuck in and microwaved some oats for our 3 Bears. Yes just call me Goldilocks:
I was pleased that like me, the 2 other Mums also licked the spoon and discovered what I had done with Lottie - that it tastes delicious. Also..... as one Mum pointed out. NOT TOO SWEET! And interestingly she knew it would be because it contains cocoa and it does. So the verdict was that Lottie ate about half (it's very filling). I was thrilled as it means I got to finish it. Arthur at 18 months ate it all as well as a banana but he took probably 30 minutes to eat it, grazing on it on and off. I don't think his Mum got a look in. Timmy who will be 3 years of age soon, was the biggest bear and wanted seconds, but his Mum was polite and didn't let me make it. You'll see above I gave him the biggest spoon to distinguis him from the "babies". Try this Ready Brek for yourself it really really is yummy. Oh and don't fret about measuring the 125 mls (of milk or water) you just fill the sachet up to the fill line and in it pops. Forgive me that I don't have pics of the kids eating it, but us Mummies were focusing on keeping very busy little ones in one place to eat and I didn't have their permission to feature pics (plus I was too shy to ask).
So in celebration of the collaboration between Ready Brek and We're Going on a Bear Hunt, Lottie, Aaron and I went on our very own Bear Hunt today and as with the book we started with the 

Long Wavy Grass

Uh-uh! Grass! Long wavy grass! We can't go over it! We can't go under it! Oh no we've got to go through it.

On the back of the Ready Brek cereal is a brilliant cut out which helps you to create your very own Bear Hunt.
We actually didn't stick to the order on the cut-out as walking through grass is number 3 and building a cave is number 7. But we did very well as it only says to "imagine walking through long grass" whereas as you can see above we had a lot of fun doing so for real on the way back from church this morning. Our cave followed very soon after. It was an imaginary one in the sense that it was a tunnel, but we definitely went "through it" ;-) Aaron very much striving well ahead on his scooter, going through the cave well before a walking Mummy and a snoozing Lottie:
Put on your wellies is actually number 2 and we did that when we got home from Church except one wellie was downstairs and one was upstairs (glares at Aaron) so it was an adventure in itself just to find them GGgggggrrr, in this case I am the bear and I am a grizzly growling one! 

With wellies on it was time to find a 

Deep Cold River

The cut out on the back of Ready Brek asks the kids to find a puddle and see who can splash the most. Well even though our heatwave is over since Wednesday night, we don't have any puddles but we did have a murky old paddling pool that needed emptying so we created our very own river with a little bit of water and a lot of imagination. We emptied the paddling pool (which needed doing anyway so we could clean it ready for the next heatwave whenever that may be) and turned it into our Bear Hunt river:

The Bear Hunt on the back of the box of Ready Brek concludes with the words Yum Yum so we took that as a sign Aaron had now earned a bowl of Ready Brek. He didn't get a look in with the Chocolate sachets as all of them were long gone during school hours in days gone by (looks at Lottie) so he had his exactly as it shows on the box - with strawberries - which conveniently he'd chosen in the weekly food shop a few days ago. He also added honey as what bear doesn't like honey :-)

Brand new Ready Brek packs featuring beautiful artwork from the We're Going On A Bear Hunt film are in store now. Each pack comes complete with an original Bear Hunt Guide on the back, suggesting games and activities showing kids how to go on their very own bear hunt swishy-swashing through grass and splash-sploshing through puddles. Packs also include on the back a delicious recipe, with 3 different ones to collect: Bear Hunt Banana Muffins, Protein-packed Bear Hunt Bites and Bear Hunt Blueberry and Apple Flapjacks which are all nutritionally balanced, energy boosting snacks that will keep little adventurers going.

The We're Going on a Bear Hunt Ready Brek pack to buy is one that looks like this, below. As you will see, top right corner, all of the ingredients are green traffic light rated. This for me, especially with breakfast cereal which sets them up for the day, is very important.
Ready Brek we're going on a bear hunt
Ready Brek is made from finely milled wholegrain oats and flour, vitamins and minerals, with no added salt or sugar. Packed with Calcium for healthy bones and teeth, Vitamin D for a healthy immune system, Protein for healthy muscles and oats for healthy digestion, along with Iron, Vitamin B1, B6 and B12, Ready Brek delivers a super smooth and nutritious start to the day.

For this We're Going on a Bear Hunt adventure we were sent both of the Ready Brek boxes you see featured above: Ready Brek Original Super Smooth Oats and a box of 6 of the Super Fast Sachets Chocolate Ready Brek. I was delighted that we also received:

We're Going on A Bear Hunt My Explorer's Journal and
We're Going on A Bear Hunt My Adventure Field Guide.

These books are so super I think I will include them in their very own blog post. You can see the spines of them in the very first photo at the top of this blog post.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Prezzo La Famiglia Sharing Bowl Review #PrezzoLaFamiglia

We reviewed a Prezzo restaurant the other day, namely the Bristol Harbourside Prezzo* branch as part of a team of BritMums' bloggers that were unleashed on Prezzos throughout the country to check out their new La Famiglia sharing bowl.
Located in Anchor Square, the restaurant is next door to the Bristol Aquarium and @Bristol. Parking is available in the Millennium Car Park which can be found close by. The building that Prezzo occupies in Anchor Square is known for its large circular brick chimney. The building was originally built in 1884 as a lead works.
On arrival I was struck by the large outdoor eating area for al fresco dining perfect at this time of year and the visually impressive bar as we walked in. Bristol is known for its edgy slightly industrial grungy chic look so I can only think that is why this branch looks as it does. Totally different to any branch of Prezzo I've been in before, (like the Prezzo we ate in when we saw We're Going on a Bear Hunt) which to be honest are usually a bit more glamorous and open-plan interior design wise. I know I am not remembering them incorrectly as I've seen some of the reviews from the #PrezzoLaFamiglia blogging team. Some really gorgeous Prezzos out there. The Bristol Harbour branch is long and narrow a bit like the restaurant version of a galley kitchen. I sat on the seat outside our table, which was a big mistake as it was like a thoroughfare for both waitresses and patrons alike - I was effectively sitting in a corridor - but I could tell from the clientele this branch attracts it clearly isn't at all an issue for the locals. BUT our particular table did have ripped leather on the windowside seating and a wooden table that needs resurfacing. I think perhaps the branch is due a capex overview and a refurbishment - just a little tweak of a one.

Eating with Kids

Eating with children means you have neither time nor money and the La Famiglia meal considers both. You don't waste any food as you all take the portion that's right for you and you also don't waste time browsing the menu. You literally only have to make the small decision of whether to have 
  • Penne Arrabiata; or
  • Spaghetti Bolognese; or
  • Spaghetti Carbonara; or
  • Penne Alla Rusticanain 

in your sharing bowl. We'd actually had Carbonara for lunch, which was funny considering I haven't made it in about 7 years so we opted for the Spag Bol which was perfect as it is a real staple and favourite in Lottie's and Aaron's diet. They both love eating it home and away LOL. We got the 2 large garlic pizza breads that were part of our review arrangement and the 4 soft drinks that we were allowed. Judging by the experience of my colleagues if we'd ordered salad it'd have been complimentary but we weren't to know - would have looked nice in my photos though. But I digress. What I wanted to say is that the sharing bowl is a very reasonable £18.90. They did not give me a copy of the bill but we also had 4 icecreams in our BritMums professional blogging arrangement. 


When you arrive in a restaurant with kids you don't want to have to wait to be seated so we very conveniently booked in advance via which you reach directly through the Prezzo website. The feedback I would give though, is on there it says the La Famiglia is £18.90 per person which couldn't be right.

La Famiglia feeds how many?

It's advertised as feeding 4 depending on your appetite. What I would say is Daddy and 7 year old Aaron both had seconds, Lottie had 1 generous portion (for a 16 month old) and I only had chance to eat one serving as I was minding Lottie's table manners the whole time as Daddy gets very easily embarrassed when eating out. It's a good deal I reckon. We had that and 2 large garlic pizza breads. I guess it did well to fill us all considering it was dinner time and we hadn't had starters. 

What was the food like?

The dough of the garlic bread was exceptional, but I'd say they need to be heavier on the actual garlic. We're used to shop bought and I found it lacking. Also, as great as the cut it all over the place look is, when you're looking at a baby with one eye and trying to grab a slice with the other eye it would be easier if it was cut in geometric regular uniform triangular slices that can be easily shared. I know tearing and sharing is more edgy but not when kids like to have exactly what the other one is having and you want to be able to see at a glance how many portions there are so you can share them out.
Included in our blogging review deal we had an icecream each. I was very sad that the chocolate and sea salt gelato was out of stock - clearly it flies out the door. The kids both loved their icecream (strawberry for Lottie and chocolate for Aaron) and Daddy and I had sorbets. Daddy is not a sorbet sort of person at all but I took a chance and ordered it for him. He's a convert now as he discovered what we all know that they are VERY refreshing after a meal. For the sorbet there is a choice of melon and lime or blood orange sorbet. As we got two scoops each we each had one of each flavour. Considering that 2 scoops is £4 I was extremely surprised that there weren't any additions to the icecreams. No sprig of mint on the top or wafer on the side. Nothing to make you feel you were in a premium dining establishment which until now I'd always viewed Prezzo as being. To be fair though I have been part of a team reviewing restaurants in the past and I remember seeing photos my colleagues had taken (of identical food) and yet being surprised at how much better the presentation was in the branch I'd visited so these things probably vary branch to branch. 
The spaghetti bolognese was delicious but I wish I knew it's better to have the waitress add the cheese to each of your individual portions rather than to the sharing bowl as a whole. Once you start using the tongs to share it out the cheese (and the bolognese) seem to get a little lost and all fall off. I brought Lottie's bib as I know from experience how messy eating spaghetti bolognese can be for children. Okay, I'll tell the truth I wouldn't have thought of it had I not read Forget Me Knit's Prezzo review and seen that they were wearing theirs :-) Oh how beautiful, airy, spacious and open-plan their chosen branch was!

What did the kids think?

Aaron adored the meal, the icecream and the activity sheet. In fact he beamed most of the time he was there. He's always been a boy who loves eating out. Lottie can be fussy but dived into her main and dessert. You'll know I am telling the truth if you watch my Vlog on youtube below :-) As easy as it is to order the La Famiglia sharing bowl, thus getting your food really quickly and knowing you all have the same, no time wasted browsing the menu, Daddy still took Lottie for a walk whilst we awaited our food. He is so worried about being embarrassed in restaurants, or anywhere to be honest. I'm with the kids all of the time when he's at work so I have experience the full gamut of things that can go awry and I'm over it.

What was our evening like?

Well the easiest way to answer this very question is to ask you to watch our vlog on youtube below. I was editing it till 1:30 a.m. last night. On 10th June the evening we visited Prezzo, I even went the extra mile, despite my overdraft and paid £15 for a family of four to add the Sky View wheel to our evening. Aaron was laying an egg to go on it despite having been on it before and I thought it would add a certain je ne c'est quoi to our vlog :-) Then Daddy wanted to wander around College Green like tourists, which we did, but by then it was raining.
This post is an entry for the BritMums #PrezzoLaFamiglia Challenge, sponsored by Prezzo 

Monday, 22 May 2017

Financially Planning a 7 Year Old Boy's Birthday

So it's that time of year where I cast my mind over to Aaron's birthday. This year it is VERY last minute dot com. 

A bit of historical context... SO when he turned 4 in 2014 we went to Peppa Pig World. Yeah you think, "let's go to a theme park" "it'll be cheaper than throwing a party" WRONG!!! We easily spent £300 and no we didn't stay the night, but we did have a wonderful time. We spent pretty much the whole day calling daddy "Daddy Pig" which was great fun - see video below ;-)

We didn't organise things very well so paid cash on the door not realising it is cheaper to book in advance online. I wasn't as meticulous back then about bringing drinks and food EVERYWHERE so that cost the earth - but you live and learn and this Mum is now 100% a frugal mum (just don't look at all the rotting veg in my cripser trays in the bottom of the fridge. Daddy has just found them and I'm in the dog house).

I also became meticulous about combing and coconut oiling Aaron's hair which I can clearly tell from this photo and video that I didn't do that day. I KNOW it was an early start but Mamma of 2014 what were you thinking... I guess he hadn't started school yet then whereas now I KNOW full well how to get ready (including hair) at breakneck speed and no it is not because of the short back and sides. He didn't have that in Reception thank you very much :-)

2015 we decided for the first time in Aaron's life to do an actual party. Me and Daddy disagreed as I wanted to do it at home but he wanted to book a venue, so we did the latter and wow that mounts up. You have the venue hire, plus the cost of hiring a bouncy castle, food, a character (often called Mascot) and goodie bags plus room decorations (like the Spiderman you see in the pic). This Mamma made 2 big mistakes. I made the length of the party 3 hours and the 3rd hour really really dragged. I booked the venue for 3.5 hours and I had people arriving whilst I was still trying to set up the hall - yeah the shame of it. But Aaron LOVED it and I think will always remember it. We had all of the usual problems like (1) people really don't RSVP it's true but luckily as a SAHM I could just approach everyone in the playground and (2) yes people do arrive with siblings. So what was a winner for me was I had a class list of everyone's names so when I did gendered goodie bags I knew what proportion to do of each and also I just minussed who I knew definitely wasn't coming rather than adding up who I knew was. It meant I had the right amount as nearly his WHOLE CLASS turned up. Yes I invited the whole class. Back then in reception they haven't formed their little groups yet and they're all friends together so it worked. I even had goodie bags for siblings.

2016 came along and I just knew what sort of party I wanted and it was what Aaron wanted too. We went to a few soft play parties and saw how the staff did everything and the Mum could actually relax. We wanted some of that. Plus as long as your party is a few hours before closing you get to spend the rest of the day in there free of charge and luckily if a few of your mates are willing to stay behind too, it feels like an all day party = BARGAIN. Complete bliss too when (1) Daddy minds the baby (Lottie had arrived by then) and (2) Aaron's friends have Mums who are my friends so picture lots of sitting around eating, drinking and giggling while hot sweaty kids play and only trouble us when they need a drink. Yes it was bliss and I need to scratch my head and work out why we're not doing that again this year LOL. Financially this was WHOLE HEARTEDLY the most affordable party. THEY sorted the goodie bags THEY sorted the food and drink THEY supplied the venue and THEY had a children's entertainer AND disco! Oh and.... THEY supply the invitations. If the first party you ever do is one of these you'll take it for granted BUT if you experience doing it all from scratch yourself this feels like bliss. I wanted to headbutt something when I was trying to do goodie bags as everything comes in multiples of 3, 4 or 6 and it really adds up when you have to buy a few of each pack. Wouldn't be a problem NOW as I am a member of Costco and can buy in proper whole bulk, rather than retail's commercial version of bulk.

So this, drumroll, brings me full circle round to 2017, what are we going to do? It's less than a month away. Oh and by the way, I really am saying that 2016 was the most affordable as I even paid the deposit and settled the bill myself without getting help from Daddy. So we were quids in with that one. I did start being conscientious with money from the February though. This year his friends are doing 10 pin bowling parties. But we've been to a few of theirs so don't feel we need to do ours too. Aaron's ultimate wish this year is going to Legoland but as I know how costly THAT is, the current plan is to cut out the Legoland tokens from the Sun newspaper, but I haven't started buying it yet so have missed the first few but I think you don't have to buy it everyday to qualify. Yep just checked on that link. It's from May 20th to June 6th and you only have to collect 10 so I should be able to manage it. Only trouble is you get the tickets in up to 28 days after attaching the tokens to a form and sending it off. But we'll get two tickets worth up to £120 so that's worth doing and we've always wanted to go. He's seen the adverts now too so wants to go even more. I've always known it was good as I've watched SO many vlogs of day trips there. He's been to Thomas Land 7 times so it's about time we went somewhere different. I've heard Legoland is so big and so good you can't even do it all in one day.

I wrote recently, a couple of posts ago, about how I want to up my game as a Pro Blogger. I feel I need to add my worth financially to the family, which I haven't really done since being made redundant in 2012. Anything I get from blogging is usually pocket money but I know it is now possible to earn a decent living from blogging and vlogging and even Instagram. I paid off all of my loans and credit cards prior to having Aaron, so my only source of spare money is literally my overdraft. I know there are pay day loans bad credit and I have NO credit history now, but in order to have one of those you need a pay day and it's a long time since I've had one of those. Luckily I have the husband, but as Lottie gets older and more independent my reasons not to work (and provide) disappear. It's kind of staring me in the face that I need to start earning again and SOON if I'm going to sort out Aaron's birthday, as of course the celebrations are only one element as there are the GIFTS too......! He hasn't even said or decided what he wants yet. It's all been about parties and/or Legoland. The good thing though is that me starting to earn has already begun. I have a very exciting project coming up in June with Talk to Mums and I'm really looking forward to that. I will be blogging about it. My Mum is hoping to visit from Ireland soon and she's even hoping she will be here for that. Oh that might even mean she is here FOR Aaron's birthday. Oh I am excited now. She hasn't booked her flight yet though :-( but is getting closer to tying up all of her loose ends (her car just sold on Friday as just one example) so fingers crossed I'll soon be getting an arrival date from her that I can look forward to as she hasn't been over since September 2016 and we haven't been to Ireland since May 2015. Plus, if we are ever to go again some financial planning is required on that score too. Check this out: Aaron's passport has expired, so has mine and Lottie doesn't have one yet, so we'd have the cost of that in addition to flights and spending money. Yeah Mum, book that flight it is cheaper for you to come here :-)

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Super Geek Heroes Review

I always like to make learning fun, but sadly it can be the case, with regards to school, that Reception (the first year of school in the UK) is fun, Year 1 is half educational and half fun and then from year 2 onwards it's work work work. There are days Aaron is heard to say "school is boring". Luckily though in our Year 2 Aaron still has the odd "art day" and recently we even got to go in as parents to help them make hot air ballons and I was actually there for nearly two hours. But you can't get away from the fact that in Year 2 they are doing SATS for the whole of May. This article is quite damning of Sats but I am sure it refers to the year 6 ones done at age 10/11, the final year of primary school but what of the year 2 ones? I hear rumours that they are being ditched. In our school they test the kids in batches of 4 hence them going on for the whole of May. They do more than one paper, like for example there are 2 for reading, 2 for Maths (one arithmetic one reasoning) etc... They do them in groups of 4 so they don't feel like the whole class is sitting in silence in exam conditions, but nonetheless they have had a noticeable effect on their behaviour. I was gutted to hear that one of the things they test is reading the time. I made the mistake of teaching that skill to Aaron at a very young age but then I took my eye off the ball and he'd forgotten it all. As for money I pay for everything on my card so he's not superb in that area either although at his age I myself was buying all of my sweets and knew the price of things and how much change to expect. I'd know that 50p was worth more than 10p etc and that coppers weren't worth very much (except that penny sweets WERE all the rage back then). Literally the only difference was I could fold a pound and put it in my pocket for school dinner :-)

But I was thrilled tonight when I asked Aaron to review Super Geek Heroes for me - find their YouTube channel here: Super Geek Heroes on YouTube. Also see: Info for Parents. I could hear the cartoon teaching him the time. I could see how much he was enjoying watching. I could see that he was totally gripped and he is fussy with his TV viewing.

The Super Geek Heroes are a unique group of super-kids with the tagline
having fun in turn with a mission to learn! 
Their 7 friendly super powers are derived from the 3 prime and 4 specific development areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage known as EYFS. In fact I asked Aaron what age he felt it was right for an he said ages 3, 4, 5, and 6.
The development areas and resulting characters  are:·      Personal, Social and Emotional Development - Suzi Smiles·      Understanding the World - Peter Planet·      Communication & Language - Vicky Voice·      Literacy - Jake Jotter·      Numeracy - Mille Maths·      Physical Development - Ant Active·      Creative Arts & Design - Ronnie Rock
I'm really impressed by the diversity of the content on the Super Geek Heroes YouTube channel
So engrossed was Aaron tonight watching the channel, he actually went to bed an hour later than normal and I was busy working (see previous blog post ha ha) so let it pass. But seriously if he loves it with his picky standards it's worth checking it out with your little one, especially if they are between the ages of 3 and 5. I'll try the channel on Lottie tomorrow to see what a nearly 16 month old thinks :-)

Aaron at 6 years of age (and very nearly 7) said:
It was fun and interesting. Lots of new characters. Educational. Taught me a lot of new things. (He loved the video about the continents). He also said it taught him about jobs to which I said "What do you mean?" and he explained he was talking about Paramedics or in his words "the people who put you onto an ambulance".
He actually wanted to watch all of the ten new episodes in this playlist tonight but I had to drag him away to bed. No doubt he'll want to watch the rest whilst having his breakfast. Either way, Super Geek Heroes certainly gets a big thumbs up from us.

Disclosure: this is a review post and I have been compensated for my time but all views are our own and I remain honest.

Do I Have What It Takes to be a Pro Blogger?

I've been blogging for many years, even before this blog. I even had a You Tube channel years ago before my current one. But I was always a hobby blogger and really for all intensive purposes still am. 

You see when people started to ask for guest posts when they'd go on holiday, to keep their blog ticking away in their absence, I used to laugh (inwardly only) as I couldn't see the point in it. It was my blog with my words and my photos.  A week or two off never used to effect my stats, in fact sometimes they'd improve, oddly enough, and I am not the first person to ever notice that odd occurrence. 

Anyhow, the other thing that used to make me laugh was when people would post a pic of themselves in the garden or in Costa Coffee and say they were "working" - in my head I would always say "you're not working you fool you're blogging".

When people started to do automated tweets and schedule nearly everything I was like "yawn"... "I'm keeping it real, when I am online I am ON LINE".

When people started posting amazing photographs I was like "mine are fine, I am capturing their smiles and our moments not entering a photography competition". 

When YouTube started to take off, I was always tomorrow, tomorrow. "When I look good I will vlog more. When I have my hair done I will vlog more. When the house is tidy I will vlog more"

When Instagram started to take off, I was still sailing along just posting diary style photos of my kids. Still am really.

When people started to network with PRs I still classed their emails as an interruption. Us old bloggers all (well maybe not ALL but it felt like it) used to once upon a time. As much as I hate the phrase: "back in the day". I didn't have a role model back then as anyone I saw reviewing something, I'd find it had a really low value and as I was still working, and could afford to buy those things, I was often of the view "WHAT is the point! I'm not giving up space on my blog for THAT!" i.e. a dummy worth £5 or a pair of gloves worth £12. I preferred to be authentic and give mention to things I truly loved with my own words and no pressure. I was even known to say "I am never ever doing a competition on my blog" and I made a huge U turn on THAT years ago. I've run some lovely comps that have been very successful.

When people started to join Facebook blogging groups I was still of the age that Facebook was strictly for friends and family only. I was a kind of purist blogger that only used my blog as a diary and to keep in touch with a small group of like-minded online friends.

But fast forward a few years and I often say "I missed the wave!" when hobby blogging turned into pro blogging. I actually missed it quite literally as my back was turned as I've hardly blogged at all since 2014. My hay day was the 2 years before. But really....... really I didn't miss it at all. The early days that resulted in the fruition of commercial blogging as we see it today began with those early adopters who were "working". While I was busy laughing that it was only a hobby, they were in fact busy working. I used to work 14-16 hour days (for the man... you know HMRC or whoever the "man" is these days) and blogging was too fun to ever be considered work by yours truly. Yeah when I got made redundant in 2012 I blogged harder but I didn't blog smarter. Skip forward to 2014 and I felt I'd already proved myself in the blogging world and felt free to get busy living, whilst others got busy blogging. I literally didn't notice the point when blogging went from GEEKY to TRENDY. Now the world and his wife has got a blog or at the very least an Instagram account.

Now all of this would be absolutely FINE if I had no regrets but daily I am plagued with "what ifs" but every now and again I look at my plant on the kitchen windowsill and I remind myself that that is me. Down but not out. And it's quite appropriate as it is a succulent and they're just the thing in the online world currently. Ha ha! But not cacti, don't make me do cacti I hate the bloody things.

You see the thing about my Money Plant on the kitchen windowsill is it has died twice. The first time I put it in new soil and a new pot and boom it was GLORIOUS. The second time, I had moved it to the top of the filing cabinet in the sitting room and promptly forgot about it and never ever watered it.

Last Summer the hubby bought two moss liners for hanging baskets and left them in the kitchen. By this time I had a new Money Plant on the kitchen window (it was a gift) which means I was being very unfaithful to my one true love (renegated to the sitting room). Anyway turns out that there must have been eggs on the moss liners as withing a few days my kitchen was filled with what I thought were fruit flies (they were actually fungal gnats) and whatever it was they did to my money plant it ended up in the bin.  A while later I was clearing clutter on the top of my filing cabinet and came across the original and the best except it was dead dead deadski!

I came up with the idea, with a heavy heart, of pruning it back to nothing and putting it back on the kitchen windowsill. It's taken a long time to get to where it is now and is still not back at its former glory, but here is what I see before my today. Notice the change in choice of words from the above pic:
What I learned a LONG TIME AGO at a Tony Robbins Unleash The Power Within event is that when we are not motivated to do something, often what does make us take the leap is doing something for others. And that my dear readers is where I am at now. I want my blog to be successful for my children. I want Lottie to be able to review things I can't afford to buy her. It kills me that I'm not in a position to review a SmarTrike - I haven't even got the guts to pitch for one. I don't feel my blog is currently sufficiently regular or out there. Plus I am behind on other things I need to review. I'd also love to buy or review a Cozy Coupe Little Tikes Car and wrote this post about an evening in the park with a heavy heart. I want to get a successful enough YouTube account that I don't have to go back to work. I am happy being a stay at home Mum at the moment and I want to be here to do the school runs. Being at home with Lottie at an age at which Aaron didn't get to fully enjoy me means the world to me. I went back to work when he was only 10 months old and although it was 3 days a week I was glued to my BlackBerry on all of the other days. I was a very busy HR Manager in a demanding role. Oh the irony. I'd even cancel swimming if I had to reply to an email or do work relating to one, even if it was my day off. I was SUCH a workaholic. I'm not saying I should now go to that extreme with my blog but I certainly need to do SOMETHING. I didn't go back to work when Aaron was school age as I knew I wanted to try for a baby and then I didn't as I was pregnant and then I didn't as Lottie was newborn but ALL of those excuses are now expired. And now it is time. Time to make money. Time to start pulling my weight in this household of ours. Time to take some pressure off the husband. Time for me to show my son what I can do. Time to work as hard as my peers. How apt therefore that the plant I am using to illustrate all of this is a MONEY PLANT. But it truly was DEAD. And I feel like my online presence is more or less DEAD, so I need to now focus on what I can do to give myself new soil and a bit of a lift, even if it is a facelift. When I was working for the man I was very ambitious and hard working and dare I say competitive. No email would go left unanswered whereas in the blogging world they all too often do. When I worked in an office I was the super user for Excel and was the go to person for any questions yet I have never done a spreadsheet for blogging in my life. I am that person who goes through the whole of Pay Pal when it's time to do the annual tax return. Even then it is a paper exercise as I never owe them anything. So it's now time to see what I can do as otherwise I'll be looking for a loan LOL. Thanks be to God I have made a lot of sacrifices so that I can afford (just about) to be at home. I hate asking the hubby for money so waxes, manicures and haircuts did a disappearing act a very long time ago. Luckily my hair is peppered with the odd grey hair and is au natural so I don't have the expense of hair colour. I don't run a car - I only had some lessons way back in 1998 and usually walk everywhere so as to save on bus fare. I often walk up to 30 miles a week. If I did decide to drive (or rather finish my lessons and pass my test) I'd have to go here to be able to afford it. Even though I'm not posh with interiors or my appearance I just know I couldn't drive around an unreliable banger of a car. It'd have to be new or nearly new and therefore more than likely on finance. I was always FIERCELY financially independent putting myself through University etc... so that's the only thing that's troublesome about being a stay at home Mum (SAHM) ... the money side of things.

I digressed. Back to my online life... 2 years ago I told myself I'd missed the boat with youtube and kind of gave up as I had less than 500 subscribers and others had 3k or 6k. But fast forward and those very same people have 12k or 65k. SO yeah I feel silly as clearly there was room for growth. Yeah I mightn't be at those levels but I could have at least spent the last 2 years getting myself up to perhaps 5k. I had pregnancy fodder and new baby fodder and didn't vlog either nearly enough. Years ago when I used to have an interest in things like the BIBS the only category I was ever interested in was YouTube but despite being a very early adopter of Youtube I've let the current phenomena of vlogging largely pass me by. I just don't know if I have it in me to be a professional blogger or vlogger (or both) as I like my sleep. Plus the way things are now, you could work full time on just the blog or the vlog or even just on Instagram, so juggling all 3 yikes!!!! Which way to the Job Centre?????? ;-)