Keeping a 7 year old happy with Carlton Kids

Last week, for the first week this school year, CM was off school poorly. There is nothing worse than a poorly child, and worse still- one who doesn’t want to be off school. CM is the kind of child who fights illness, and we watched her fighting the virus for a few days before she succumbed. When she did it was difficult, she needed to be kept busy whilst trying to recover enough energy to fight the lurgy. Carlton Kids Alice Through the Looking GlassFortunately we had received two completely different motivators from Carlton Kids. One allowed CM to be engaged whilst relaxing- by reading. Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ is  beautifully illustrated book. Retelling the sequel to ‘Alice in Wonderland’ the book has a homely feel, of familiarity, and whilst it is has enough words to tell the story- designed for 6+ year olds- there is enough to keep a young child engaged. The pages have beautiful associated illustrations featuring familiar characters.Carlton Kids Alice Through the Looking GlassIn addition to the illustrations is the ‘lift the tab’ engagement, this ensured as CM’s concentration lapsed there was something to keep her interested, because she loved the wonderful artwork.

But nothing prepared either of us for the fantastic pop-up page… you really do need to buy the book!Carlton Kids Alice Through the Looking GlassAs CM’s health got better, she still needed to be boost her energy stores. Whilst her preference seemed ‘boom and bust’- a great spurt of energy before she fell fast asleep, we quickly realised we needed to give her something more than reading.

Carlton has produced the kind of colouring book which is very similar to those being marketed for adults, an instant win for CM. My Mandalas is a wonderfully grown up colouring book, full of beautiful images for careful creation. Carlton Kids My Mandalas Colouring BookCM definitely thought this was a colouring book worthy of her (and mine) attention. And one thing worth noting is that broad tip pens won’t entirely fit the bill, using my fine tip pens was one compromise I had to make. Carlton Kids My Mandalas Colouring BookThe mandalas in this book are beautiful and a perfect distraction for a child who things themselves too old for ‘colouring in’.

Both these books have had merit in the week post illness. My Mandalas is the perfect relaxation and distraction from the week. And the perfect place to hone concentration and artistic license.

Since finishing ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ for herself, the wonder of the book is being passed to younger brothers. I now have to sit and listen as a 7-year-old regales her 5-year-old brothers with the tale- bliss.

Disclosure: We received ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ and ‘My Mandalas’ for the purpose of this review. All opinions and views contained are our own.

Pretend to Bee – A Dragon! World Book Day Review

This year B and E have been all about dragons.
It started years ago with Mike the Knight, and Sparky.
Ninjago kept their interest in the mystical creatures.
And as their interest in books has grown, so a new favourite has emerged- ‘Dragon Stew’.
Throw in the Eisteddfod at school for St David’s Day, and E’s costume of choice for World Book Day was obvious.

Fortunately for us, Pretend to Bee stepped in to make E’s choice a reality.Dragon Stew & Pretend to BeePretend to Bee is a family run business, which specialise in dressing up clothes. The outfits generally range from age 3 to 7 years, and cover a wide range of price points and options. The ranges are designed to focus on the benefits of pretend play, and not only have the perfect options for fancy dress parties but also for learning through play.
A St David's Day DragonE was over the moon becoming a dragon, he loved the little touches- the sleeves which finish with paws and claws, his tail and prickles, and especially his wings.
I love the quality, the thickness of the material, the ease of getting it on, and the sturdy zip.
Because the great thing about the age range available, as the boys are both on the tall side I opted for the 5-7 age, and whilst it fits E really well, it’s clear there’s lots of growing space.
So, as well as the pretend play which seems to take place in our house at least once a week which will ensure the outfit is put through its paces, I’m planning on this outfit seeing us through a few years, and I’m already so excited about E going to school next St David’s Day as a dragon!
Pretend to Bee a DragonBecause at £23.95 the Red Dragon is at the expensive end of dressing up outfits. It is clear to see why, the metallic materials, the embossed detail, and the general feel of the outfit is clear. So then it’s about whether it’s worth the investment. Honestly, we have enough dressing up outfits to fill a wardrobe, and they’ve been bought at a variety of price points. Firstly I know we’ll get as much wear out of the outfit as is possible, if the children could wear dressing up clothes everywhere, they would. Second, we’ve come to know the outfits which last five minutes and those which have stayed the course, the Red Dragon definitely feels like it will stay the course from a quality perspective, and given the boys love of dragons it will definitely stay in demand.
Pretend to Bee A DragonDisclosure: we received a dressing up outfit from Pretend to Bee for the purposes of this review. All opinions and views contained are our own.

September’s Papery Peep

What I’m writing

You might have seen my #Sunday Stationery post about getting organised with To-Do Lists, I love the difference a to-do list makes, even if some things on it remain never done, it allows me to measure how I’m going to know at the end of the day whether I’ve actually been doing the things I’m meant to be doing, or getting distracted by numerous other priorities.
Things to Do ListAnd September has seen me start, and fall in love with a new Planner, I’m discovering more and more how valuable this is. It’s great for sorting out the never-ending work-home balance- I thought life would get easier with all three little people in school full-time, but have actually found we’re now struggling with the various after-school activities, working away, and being down to one car.
BlogtacularxLollipop Planner
What I’m reading
Getting back into reading has been cause of great celebration in September. My bedside table is now stacked high with half-read books which I haven’t managed to find the enthusiasm to continue to the end.
And then hubby came home with a fool proof- a new Jack Reacher novel. And yes, in all the years of reading Lee Child’s series there has never been a book I haven’t finished. I was so pleased to be reading again.
Make Me Lee ChildAnd on a roll, I picked up ‘The Girl on the Train’. I got on the 16.06 from home, and sat on a train until 21.29. Travelled onto where I was staying the night, and finished the book at midnight.

It was fantastic. I love to read the last few pages of books long before the end (I know! I’m sorry!), and books where the twists that get you to the end are by far the best, and this was definitely the case.

I went into the office the next day and passed the book on, it’s just one of the books you know should be enjoyed by as many as people as possible- it is good to read a good book!
Papery PeepAnd then I started reading ‘The Taxidermist’s Daughter’ by Kate Mosse. Kate Mosse is another author which has never failed to write a book I want to put down. This book was so different to the Languedoc trilogy, and I have to admit to being a little disappointed, but even so it is definitely recommended, it’s just in a way, the benchmark is set far too high. I find Kate Mosse’s books are not the kind I read in one sitting, and this did take me over a week- partly because I wasn’t travelling as much.
Bring Back PaperI’m starting the new month with ‘The Ice Twins’. I was tempted when I bought ‘The Taxidermist’s Daughter’ but decided against, after seeing someone on the tube reading it as I was finishing my book I took it as a sign. Hopefully it will keep me on a roll!

As for making, in the chaos of the month there hasn’t really been anything. Although, I did pick up a fantastic gift from Etsy, which I feel the need to signpost you to, as Sarah was fantastically lovely and the gift which winged its way to me was absolutely beautiful!
Vintage by Sarah at Etsy

 The Reading Residence

Dear Zoo – favourite books for toddlers

Our children grew up with Roy Campbell, I think ‘Dear Zoo’ is a great, first introduction to books. Although cruelly I think ‘It’s Mine’ was my favourite, just because I loved seeing the build of excitement and trepidation as we reached the page with the lion. Each child just got to the stage where they’d know it was coming, and they’d get the scared look, and then the laughter as the pop-out jaws would try to get them (cruel mummy!), and then the next evening, despite all of that, it would be the first they’d reach for when choosing their evening story.

Roy Campbell books

As the boys have grown, they’ll still reach for their favourites, and so it comes as no surprise that B really wants a puppy. It’s hard to dissuade his enthusiasm, especially as it’s a book which he’s willing to spend the time identifying the letters, to understanding the sounds and word-formation.

Dear Zoo by Roy Campbell gift set

To accompany the books which become a part of our bedtime rituals, there is now a fantastic web-based resource to support learning through the day, with activities aimed at 1 to 5 year olds, it is a fantastic way to create learning opportunities through favourite books without even realising. There is fun (and free!) downloadable printables, as well as games to play online. 

Teaming favourite books with activities is a great way to introduce extended learning and fun to home life.

Disclosure: We received Dear Zoo goodies for the purposes of this post. All views and opinions contained are our own.

Bring Back Paper

Like my last Bring Back Paper post, this is two months worth of an update. I really should get better at this, but last month I realised I hadn’t been reading that much, needless to say I’ve gone a little over the top in making up for it.

What I’m reading

Bring Back Paper

I seem to be continuing my spate of choosing good books, wanting to reach the end of the story is such a good feeling, there is nothing worse than not wanting to carry on reading a book (and I’m guessing no-one wants to hear that about the book they’ve spent time writing either!).

I’ve managed to make my way through ‘We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves’, ‘The Minaturist’, ‘The Husband’s Secret’, ‘The Rosie Project’ and I’ve just moved on to ‘The Rosie Effect’. And oddly, if nothing else if was a great order to read these books in (obviously the best way to read the two Rosie books).

I have really enjoyed all of these books, especially as they were more random purchases as for years I have just stayed with authors I know and love. Of them all I think ‘The Rosie Project’ is the one I’d recommend, it was the only I really couldn’t put down, laughed out loud throughout and loved the way it was written.

I’ve now run out of books, so don’t really want to finish ‘The Rosie Effect’ so am trying to pace myself. Fortunately this week I don’t have any train journeys so I should be ok. But please… recommendations on what I should be reading would be very much welcome!

What I’m scribbling over

Blogtacular introduced me to a fantastic planner from Lollipop Designs. I’ve been loving their wall planner and weekly planner which have been fully incorporated in my day-to-day, the idea of a planner to carry around with me is something I’m quite excited by and enjoying trialling out the prototype which was part of our goody bag.

Lollipop Designs Planner

What I’ve made

Creativity this month has taken a pause as our home gets a lot of love as we prepare to put it on the market. This has meant my office is finally beginning to feel like a great space to work- oh the irony of having to start this over again. I now have floor space thanks to a new storage unit, and I am loving finally getting my pegboard on the wall which now features another goody bag favourite from Blogtacular.

Home office decor


The Reading Residence

World Book Day 2015

I am fortunate that my children love books as much as me.

I am so in awe of my daughter as she has begun reading her first ‘proper’ book, with chapters, a book that can’t be read in one sitting.

And so, this year, World Book Day, is one for them to really appreciate celebrating.

Although mummy may have had a little influence!

World Book Day 2015

I may have been caught up in my own imagination discovering Asda‘s range of fancy dress clothes. Because. Yes. They have Roald Dahl characters!


And whilst there was no distracting CM from her fairy tales, and wanting to grow her hair so long she can become Rapunzel, fortunately the boys are a little more compliant.

And I gained the most wonderful BFG and Fantastic Mr Fox.

Fantastic Mr FoxThe BFGFantastic Mr Fox

And I absolutely love the detail of each of the costumes. The detail of the Roald Dahl characters exceeded my expectations, and CM was delighted to have a veil to set off Rapunzel’s wedding dress.

Quality wise, they are comparable to the other costumes we have, but it really is the accompanying detail that made the children so excited and enthused to become their character.

And story time tonight should be the best ever, as I get to begin ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ with them all.World Book Day 2015

Disclosure: We received three fancy dress outfits for the purposes of this review. All opinions and views contained are our own.

Ladybird Tuesday- Jump from the Sky

Last year my mum ‘off loaded’ the contents of her attic at ours. In amongst the things which should have never have been kept (all of my GCSE, A-Level and Degree coursework and notes), were books upon books, including the gems of my childhood, many with the ‘Ladybird’ logo.

I hadn’t got round to getting involved with Being Mrs C’s Ladybird Tuesday, but then last week at a Vintage Fair in Cardiff, this book caught my eye, and a little smile as I opened it to find the adventures of Peter and Jane.

Ladybird Tuesday

‘Jump from the Sky’ is part of the Key Words Reading Scheme series, published in 1980 it is no doubt one that sat on the shelves at the school where I learned to read, and as such now reading it with CM learning causes a wry smile as there are some interesting gender types which cause a little bit of a shudder.

‘Jump from the Sky’ starts with Peter and Jane accompanying their Uncle to the Aeroplane Show and their hopes to travel in an aeroplane and to learn to fly.

After watching men jumping from the planes, Peter and Jane find a balloon seller. The balloons each have a tag to write names and addresses, with the hope that the once let go, someone will find the balloon and send it back.

Ladybird Tuesday

The story then explores where each of the balloons land.

Ladybird Tuesday

And, along with Peter and Jane’s days after the Show, which include the boys playing in the garden with a toy gun and bubbles, with the girls in the kitchen helping Jane’s mother to cook.

After they explore the world of Cowboys and Cowgirls and Indians, which is followed by the children playing the game in the woods.

Ladybird Tuesday

They come to an empty house where unfortunately one of their friends get hurt and has to go to hospital. Peter and Jane visit their friend and also others in the hospital.

The story ends with Peter, Jane and their friends receiving letters from those who found their balloons.


All in all the story is great for a variety of different themes, it is a little bit of an odd detour to get back to the overarching story of the balloons.

CM maintained an interest but it did not feel as lively as some of our other Ladybird books- maybe the fact that this is a learning book is more obvious to the learner reader.

The Ordinary Moments- Matilda

‘Matilda’ was my book. 

Reading was my thing.

Bringing a daughter into the world, I had hopes.

And yet, I was caught off guard.

My memory was that I could read, with no recollection of how that came to be.

I have been so proud of CM’s reading journey, knowing that I am the support to her Reception and Y1 teacher who have built the foundation.

This Christmas CM unwrapped the most amazing present, in my eyes, from her grandma.

A gorgeous cushion and an accompanying book, my copy of ‘Matilda’.

And so we sat down to read.Favourite booksIt wasn’t perfect, CM was frustrated by the fantastic Roald Dahl descriptors which tangled her newly found reading skills.Learning to read Roald DahlBut still, to sit with my daughter, to read Roald Dahl. 

My heart brimmeth over.