Saturday, 31 December 2011

my year...

I wasn't going to do a round up of the year post, I'm not sure why but I didn't really want to look back over each month and pull out what was happening at that time, I know what has happened this year some amazing things, some not so great things but then I was reading several other bloggers year round ups and so went skipping back through my posts, back in January my new years day post makes me smile, so much has indeed changed, we no longer have the xbox or kinectimals, we no longer live where the neighbours we knew so well could come over when they pleased but some things have stayed the same, my mum is still indeed loving her laptop perhaps more than ever, and we again will be seeing in the new year with cups of tea in hand and children tucked up in bed.

So here we go this is my year round up...

2011 saw us leaving behind but looking forward after a shakey start to the year and my blogging resolution being dashed a wobbly start to the year all changed in May when we had the best news of the year and became Toyologists for Toys R us.

Then in June my little boy, my baby started his new school and I set on a new venture and become a homestart volunteer.

The summer months were filled with so much fun as we went on Safari,

visited the local adventure farm in search of Shaun the Sheep, tried our hand bowling and spent a week enjoying the welsh coast!

In between that we were busy testing some of the latest and greatest toys and teaching my littlest to ride his bike, although he didn't quite crack it so that is still on the to do list for 2012!

September brought about new challenges which I had never imagined with my morals and values being tested with the strange affair that was the Mercedes Competition, never before had I been on the receiving end of such a strange course of events and it taught me that there are alot of underhanded people around.

October was filled with fun and we become Ravenzburger PuzzleClub members but on a more serious note found me wondering what it was you wished for, and how sometimes it is the little things which mean the most.

Then as the year has drawn to a close I again learnt that some people will use any underhanded technique to get what they want and warned people NOT to get the phone, I tried to nurture my creative side and Toys R us gave me the opportunity to give something back and we managed to have had a wonderful Christmas.

So there we go, a fun year with a few eventful things to keep us on our toes, now what will 2012 have in store for us?

Whatever it may be I hope we get through it smiling and I wish the very best prosperous new year to everyone!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Our Christmas

This year we made some changes to Christmas, and I am pleased to say we pulled it off well and everyone had a really wonderful time.

Since becoming Toys R us Toyologists and it being a mini Christmas each month I had concerns over how much the Children would expect on Christmas, was there anything that could top the toys they had already received through the year, prior to becoming toyologists birthdays and Christmas was the only time big toys would ever be brought, yes through the year they got treats and small toys but no where near to the extent of the selection of toys they have received through this year.

Making sure they don't come to expect extravagant things or become ungrateful was always a worry of mine, so I said a while back that Christmas was going to be reined in with less presents and more emphasis on family and spending time together, 

Up to The week before Christmas I had not really spent much time thinking about the presents what with everyone seeming to get ill wth the dreaded winter sickness bug,  then the Children broke up from school and it suddenly hit me that maybe having NO presents wasn't going to be a very fun Christmas! So I quickly managed to get to the shops and pick up the much needed items.

Christmas eve everyone went to bed leaving out a mince pie and drink for Santa along with their letters and pictures, and off to bed they all went, dreaming of what Santa might bring to them tomorrow.

They woke up early about 5am and we ventured down the stairs, greeted with the neatly piled presents wrapped in shinny paper, alot less than previous years with only 5 or 6 presents each.

But inside each was something that they had asked Santa for, and they were all made up with the selection he had brought them.

We had arranged with my Mum and Dad that we would all go to theirs for Christmas Dinner, which again is something we had not done in previous years, instead opting for a dinner at home just us, and revelling in the screwed up wrapping paper and piles of toys. But this year we set off about 10am to my mums house and there to welcome us was the great smell of turkey with all the trimmings.

Along with us sharing Christmas dinner at my mums was my sister and her husband and daughter, my Gran,  and my aunt and uncle so it was lovely having some family time with them all.

My mum had made up a fun box for the children filled with colouring books, party poppers, balloons and such like which kept them all happily entertained, and we took along Bop it which was a huge success with everyone as we battled to beat each others scores.

Boxing day we went to see my brother in law and his family, and we all had a lovely day, their 4 children and our three all played whilst us adults chattered, once again putting the emphasis of Christmas on spending time with family.

Although on and off one of the other of us has suffered with bouts of sickness we have managed to enjoy the festive period. We spent time at my Gran and Grandad with everyone playing chess and draughs, and we had a lovely visit from some old friends the past couple of days so it really has been a Christmas to remember.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas whatever you were doing and heres to 2012 being a good one for us all.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve Activities!

the last door was opened on the advent calenders this morning, stating 1 more sleep, the excitement is building my eldest is complaining of a headache as he says he didn't sleep well last night due to being excited I hope he manages to get some sleep tonight, although thats unlikely!

They have already tracked Santa with Norad, listened to Christmas songs and  wrote yet another letter to Santa!

and its only 2 o clock!

So I just went to the local shop and brought them each a magazine, and they have been happily filling them out since, although they seem to be going through the pages at a rather fast rate and so I don't know how much longer this small amount of peace will last!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Time for Giving!

Lots has happened this year, so many wonderful things, our life changed quite dramatically with a house move, leaving our home and school friends behind, but I've also had some of the best opportunities this year too.

Moving house and going through a tough time made me realise that it was more important than ever to  turn a tough time into something good,  I decided I wanted to find something for me to do in the new community, and I set my mind on becoming a Homestart Volunteer after reading about the charity online. I started my course in May and have been supporting a family for the past 5 months. I have blogged about Homestart before here: you can make a difference too

And we were lucky enough to become Toys R us Toyologists  this year which has been an amazing opportunity and I have thoroughly enjoyed the past 6 months and I'm very thankful to all the people behind the scenes on the Toys R us facebook page who put alot of time and effort into making sure the program is ran smoothly and they do a great job!

2011 has really been a roller coaster of a year, and as it draws to a close what better way to combine the two things that have been highlights of this year than to donate one last box of toys kindly supplied by the good people at the Toyologist headquarters to the Charity that is close to my heart.

So it was with Great Pleasure that I passed on this amazing selection of Toys to Tracy at Homestart South Derbyshire.

Homestart support over 73,000 children across the uk with schemes in most areas offering support and friendship when its needed most, My local scheme, Homestart South Derbyshire, helped support and improve the lives of 240 children last year, being apart of this charity has been amazing giving just a few hours each week but knowing that in doing that you really are offering a friend to someone who really needs it, and that can make all the difference in children's and parents lives is truly rewarding.

Homestart hosted there annual Christmas Party a few days back which was attended by over 30 children. This event gave the families a chance to come together enjoy a walk around local forestry centre and get together for Jacket Potatoes and a meet from Santa Claus!

Homestart not only offer families the weekly support of volunteers which go to families homes to offer friendship and support personally, but they also run many play activities and events such as this Christmas party through the year which adds to their support, these events give families the chance to gain confidence and can be a real life line to those who feel isolated in the community.

The Toys donated from Toys R us will be much appreciated by all the children homestart support through out the years to come.

So a huge Thank you Toys R us, and Merry Christmas to Everyone!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011


There are certain things which always appear interesting and intriguing, one of these is the concept that we share the galaxy with other forces, that you might catch a glimpse of something hovering high in the air in a graceful fashion with bright lights that then speed off quickly without a trace.

UFOs therefore are always something which captures peoples imaginations, when we saw the Air Hogs Vectron wave in our final toyology box we all were intrigued to see what it was all about.

air hog flying space ship alien ufo remote control toy

It boosts on the box that it is a incredible hovering indoor UFO which will have you marvelling at its ability to sense the movement and location of your hand.

So did it live upto its expectations?

air hog vectran wave instructions box contents
The Air Hogs Vectron wave comes with a clear instruction leaflet in the box, a charger and 2 catching sticks.

air hog ufo remote control flying body
it takes only a couple of minutes to assemble the catching sticks onto the Air Hog, and install 6 x AA batteries into the charger, then you need to plug in the charger to the Air hog and wait for approx 30 minutes for it to charge.
air hog flying saucer vectron wave battery pack charging unit

Once it has charged you are ready to fly. The air hog initially goes straight up to the ceiling then lowers back down, it does this twice then it finds an even centre to hover at.

Once it is hovering in the centre you can alter its height and flight direction by waving your hand under the air hog, it is really quite clever how it responds to your movements and it does look very impressive when it is hovering, with its lights that light up as it hovers around.

The fly time is fairly short only around 5 minutes before you need to charge it up again, but it is still a fun item which is sure to wow everyone.

When you are used to how the air hog flies you can use the catching sticks to toss and catch and  pass between each other which adds to the features of this great flying toy.

The suggested age for this is 8 - 10 years, but I would say all ages can enjoy this, the 8 - 10 age range would be able to appreciate and use the altitude sensing technology to its best, but younger children certain still enjoy watching it hovering around the room, and adults are sure to get enjoyment out of this radio controlled flying object which they control without a controller but by their own hand movements!

The fact you are controlling the air hog with your movements means there are no set controls so it can seem to be a bit random, and if it is not correctly charged it will seem to fly far to high or not high enough, but once you are used it it this really is a fun little toy. The flying time is not too long comparred to the charge time so it is somethign which tends to get played with in small bursts.

here is our video review :

Nerf Comparrison

We have been lucky to receive some really great toys as part of the Toys R us toyologist program, and some which we prior to being apart of this had not had any experience with, such as the Nerf Guns, now my boys love to play and often have a gun somewhere in their games, be it a sickle brick gun or a hairbrush, they love to run around chasing each other. I know some people try to avoid the whole 'gun' thing with their children but to me I have never minded them playing army men, or bad guys with guns.

So when we received the Nerf guns my boys were thrilled, we have never had Nerf products before and they were really eager to get them out and let the Nerf wars commence!

There is a huge range of Nerf products, so I thought it would be useful to do a comparison of the two we were sent.

The Nerf Proton which we reviewed earlier is one of the cheaper blasters in the new Vortex range, I thought it would be good if I did a comparison review of the Proton and the Vigilon Nerf guns.

The Vigilon is priced slightly higher at £14.99 and has the added feature of being able to store upto 5 discs at any time allowing a more rapid fire.

so here is a video review which shows the main difference in the two guns.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Arrrggghhh 6 days ?!

I can't quite believe that Christmas will be all over in a weeks time!

I had told myself many times that this year we would go for a small affair, Santa would not be bringing piles and piles of toys and gadgets and gizmo's to be left unloved under the bed! No, this year I wanted to make sure Santa brought just what the children REALLY want and I had told myself it would be fine if they only had one or two things each to open on Christmas morning... but now 6 days away and I'm finding the guilt is panging, more so because I am yet to find the present that they REALLY want! So I was hoping to use the last day of the children being at School today as a mad dash shopping spree but no, best laid plans and all that never go to plan do they!

Friday afternoon Mikey came home and woke up in the middle of the night and was sick... yuk! Then all weekend hes been on and off the toilet although he is much better today, I really don't want to risk him going to school and either passing his germs on to the next poor child who will then proceed to spend the run up to Christmas ill, or catch something else!!

We had the daunting letter stating a case of Meningitis had been confirmed for a child at his school last week, and so now I'm even more jumpy when they are off colour, Christmas is the one time of the year you want to be filled with fun and happiness and being ill is the last thing anyone wants, so I hope that everyone stays healthy this year and the Children at Mikeys school all get better soon!

But with this said having them home now until the big day throws up one question? When to do the last minute shopping?!

I do hope Santa is on form this year because we definitely need abit of magic to pull the finishing touches together!!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Saturday is... Mammasauras Day!

Saturday has been Caption day which is all thanks to a great lady Mammasauras! however today that changes today is different... today is Mammasauras Day!!!

Thanks to Here Comes the Girls we are holding our own little tribute!  Caption this photo of the Mammasauras herself... unfortunately its not one I took I didn't manage to get over to the bloggers tot100 Christmas party (or indeed any other great bloggy meet ups this year!) but there is always next year tee hee hee!)


mammsaurus badge

Friday, 16 December 2011

Light Strikes!

We received the light strikes in our final box of Toys R us Toyologist toys and what a fab set of toys to receive.

So what are Light Strikes? For anyone who has heard of Laser Quest then these blasters bring that to your house with interactive guns which can be used single player or to enhance play  you can create team groups and enjoy more of the features. When you have more than one blaster you can each select a team colour and then fire at each other resulting in the opponents health meter decreasing if you hit on target. These blasters really do bring video games to your home with the lights and sounds and interactions you will all be eager to have a go!

There are several different Light Strike Blasters in the range, starting from around £29.99 for the Striker S.P 144 Pistol This is a great sized blaster, easily manageable for the younger children, it has 4 buttons easily accessible on the top of the blaster where you can select different features, you can change the colour of your team and activate a shield, this gun has instant ammo reload to make it easy fast and fun for everyone. Also included is a mini target which lights up the colour of your chosen team when you shoot at it, so you can practise your target skills.

small light strike pistol gun boys toys fun with light activated target

Then for someone who wants a more advanced blaster there are a couple of more expensive blasters such as the Assault striker GAR 0.23 which is priced at £39.99  This is a bigger blaster which has lots of features, it works from touch sensitive buttons, and includes a finger print recognition feature so when you first switch the gun on it will not proceed with any functions until you have placed your finger on the finger print sensor. Then you can choose your team colour, and select from a series of different weapon styles.

light strike bpys toys fun with beams of light whats in the box content

The bigger blasters in the Light strike range also have the ability to be upgraded with additional add ons such as a scope and rapid fire feature. These are purchased separately at £9.99 each.

light strike scope add on extras to the light strike gun range

Light Strike blasters are great fun, with their light up sections and ability to visually show your ammo and health with light up meters, and the noise they make upon firring and receiving hits really make for a great interactive blaster and my boy absolutely love them!

The Blaster requires 4 x AA batteries and the Target requires 3 xAAA batteries which do not come included so it is worth making sure you have these available before you purchase the blaster. We put Philips batteries in when we received the guns a month ago and have not had to replace them yet and they have been played with on lots of occasions!

The targets you receive with the blasters are great and have a belt clip on the back, but we have not used them to clip onto our clothes but rather placed them in different rooms and the boys have loved trying to defend their target and make sure the other doesn't sneek in and mange to change it colour! There are lots of ways to play with these light strike blasters and because with the larger gun there are so many features they are sure to hold their appeal for a long time!

We have had them just over a month now and they are still being very much loved and used, my youngest loves to play by himself simply firing at the target changing its colour, my eldest two love to have battles in the dark! These guns work well in bright light as well as dark and so are great for out doors as well as in side, they also have headphone sockets so if you prefer a quiet house that's useful... but be aware that having battles results in lots of laughing and shouting even if headphones are used!

So for a summary we loved the Light Strikes and think they would be well received by any boys (or girls!) this Christmas, so if you have an awkward 10 year old boy who you are struggling to know what to buy for that would be loved then look no further! The range of Light Strikes can be seen at Toys R us here : Light Strikes and whilst buying all the different elements could result in a  pricey set, it is not essential to spend money on it all in one go for these to be enjoyed, and this range can be something you can add to at birthdays or special occasions through out the year to keep the interest going.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Bop it!

We received a Bop It XT in our final Toys R us Toyologist box. I remember the old Simon Games from the early 90's. we had lots of fun with this game when I was growing up and it kept me and my sister and mum and dad entertained many many times.
simon toy orriginal 80s concept light memory game

and bop it is of a similar nature, with Simon you had to remember and copy the sequence of lights, with Bop It you have to press, pull spin the correct section and keep up with the commands. there are 6 different action points including a shake which you can switch off to make it abit easier!

bop it xt box

The idea is simple, but its not that easy! its aimed at 8 and above, although younger children can join in too, my 4 year old is slowly getting better at it as he learns the sequences, and he still has fun with it even if hes not beating any high scores.

bop it fun game to entertain all ages fast fun memory game

There are 4 different modes of play on Bop it XT. Solo play which will count your score and remember it till next time, and the idea is to compete and progress until you reach a score of 100.

When you receive Bop it it only has the novice mode of play, but as you progress with it and master the solo play you will unlock harder modes.

There is also more fun based modes such as Pass it, Party and 1 on 1. these all have the same concept but no scores are counted. In party mode bop it will included body parts in which you need to press the Bop it with, which adds to the fun element.

bop it instructions

In one on one, two people can hold Bop it at the same time and each person is responsible for two activation points.

There is plenty of modes to keep you entertained and 4 difficulty levels to unlock, novice, expert, master and pro which each add in an extra element such as using the colours instead of the action words as commands. so Bop It XT will keep you playing for a long time.

It really is one of them addictive fun toys which will be used over and over again, a perfect present for teenagers or younger children, or even the granparents will have fun with this.

Priced at £23.99 I think its good value as it's something which is sure to get alot of use and looks to be hardy enough to last many many years, these sort of toys are timeless and can be brought out every Christmas or birthday occasion and keep on entertaining everyone, Chloe took Bop It to school one play day and as soon as she walked into the playground with it there was a huge crowd of 8 -10 year olds all desperate to give it ago, so it does seem to be a very popular toy and I'm sure would be much appreciated if left under the Christmas Tree this year.

Silent Sunday

To see more pictures I took yesturday be sure to check out my Country Kids post below!

Country Kids

I've not joined in with a Country Kids post for a few weeks, which is the great meme by the wonderful Fiona over at Coombe Mill, helping to promote the benefit of being outdoors!

Simply because we've not really spent all that much time outside, we had a bad dose of the winter sickness bugg which seemed to go from one to the other to the other of us until we'd all had a couple of days feeling terrible. However we are on the mend now, the weather is bitterly cold, but the sun is trying to shine through giving that beautiful look to everything.

My eldest went for a skate at the local park yesterday after dropping littlest off at a friends party, I did my best to try and capture some photos to share, there not great because the sun as lovely as it makes everything look, seems to make it increasingly difficult to photograph!

The park was quiet no one else around, everyone must have been indoors keeping out of the cold

 My two however don't seem to feel the cold! I was stood shivering away and these two didn't want to return home!

 Cold winter months, but the local parks can still be enjoyed, and if you wrap up warm it can still be quite enjoyable, well at least for the children - us adults may need to wrap up even more well that's unless you are running around with them!

and to Jackson at least there is a huge benefit to having the park to ourselves, it means he can be let off his lead!

 He is great off his lead, but abit over friendly to everyone and I don't like to let him off if there are people in the park because he's a big dog and rather scary if you don't know him and his friendly temperament, so most people turn away when they see him bounding towards them. So Jackson loves an empty park, as if he is on a lead he pulls something awful that's why in the summer when the parks normally busy we walk more in the woods, which no matter if its warm and sunny or not seem to never have anyone else in them.

So have you braved the cold and been outside this weekend? Be sure to pop over to Coombe Mills Country Kids Blog post and share your outdoors adventures!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
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