Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Zip Stix Review

By now I bet everyone is sick to death of Loom Bands?? Right??

I know I am, I am fed up of forever finding random bands around the house and am sure its a miracle that my hoover is still working after swallowing up enough bands to start its own lucrative band selling site on ebay!!!! Also I had the pleasure of having to clear up some cat vomit laced with 3 bands....lovely!!!

I openly admit that I am glad the loom band craze had died a death, but now what?? My boys have fallen in love with Zip Stix.

Set to be the new craze of the playgrounds, Zip Stix are an high speed, awesome new product which has been released in the UK just a few weeks ago.

Zip Stix will see you zipping for speed and distance plus testing your accuracy and skill at the same time.

Each Zip Stix is like a miniature version of the classic snap wrist bands. You have a launch pad to place your Zip Stix on, you them launch them to either race each other or try to destroy a obstacle created by you with the cones included in the larger packs.

The Zip Stix are available in 4 different pack combinations -

  • Single pack - containing 1 Zip Stix and 1 launcher only - RRP £2.99
  • Twin pack - containing 2 Zip Stix, 1 launcher and 3 cones - RRP £4.99
  • Stunt pack - containing 2 Zip Stix, 2 launchers, 1 ramp and 3 comes - RRP £7.99
  • Mega pack - containing 6 Zip Stix, 2 launchers, 2 ramps and 6 cones RRP £12.99

To make it more collectable for the kids the Zip Stix come in 4 teams which each have their own colour and Stix designs, 72 in total to collect.

There are 18 in each team and the teams are - Team Turbo, Team Zilla, Team Wild and Team Blaster.

With this horrible half term weather it was the perfect time for the boys to try these out.

 We received the stunt pack to try out so the boys had a Zip Stix each...phew, no fighting then!!

The concept is easy -
  1. Hold the launcher down with your left hand
  2. Hook your Stix over the red hook with the hole in the end, making sure that the Zip Stix logo is uppermost.
  3. Aim where you want your Zip Stix to go, be it up and over the ramp or aiming at a pyramid of cones.
  4. Gently press the logo down until you hear a slight click which is the Stix starting to curl up
  5. Let go and let the fun begin!! 
Alfie loved this and got the hang of it straight away but Jacob struggled and was at the point of giving up when he finally mastered it.

I can now see these being the new thing in our household as the prices allow the boys to get them with their pocket money. Stockists include Argos, Tesco, Toys`R`Us, Amazon and Smyths.

Check out the boys video they made whilst playing with their Zip Stix.

We were sent this product free of charge in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are our own.

Family Fever

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Specsavers Review

Both hubby and I are very short sighted and need to wear glasses to be able to drive etc. We both wear contact lenses most of the time but also glasses on our non-contact lens days. Because of our short sightedness I was really worried about the boys sight, what if we had passed it on to them??

As Jacob started school last month I thought it would be a good time to see if Jacob`s eyes were ok; he hadn`t complained of not being able to see the board or anything like that but still wanted him checked.

Mine and Chris` sight tests were overdue so I booked us all in together....a family outing!!

For the last 14 years we have both been using Specsavers as our suppliers of glasses and contact lenses.

So last weekend Jacob, hubby and I made the trip to our local branch, Poole, for our tests. Jacob was really nervous, not sure why but just think that it was the unknown so I went first whilst he watched.

Silly me told him that we got to wear a pair of silly looking glasses which he thought was hilarious but when we got into the consultation room the glasses were nowhere to be seen, instead a sleek looking white box with eye holes in it.

Since my last test 2 years ago obviously technology has improved a lot!!!

After my test was finished Jacob couldn`t wait to get in the chair. Luckily Jacob`s eyes are fine, if anything slightly long sighted which is a great relief.

Both hubby`s and my prescriptions had changed only slightly but it meant that we would need some new glasses. So the glasses vouchers that Specsavers had sent through for us were going to come in handy!!!!!

Cue lots of giggling whilst trying on loads of different pairs of glasses....I had no idea on what style to go for but was told by one of the assistants that bold rectangular frames would suit my face shape best.

We were spoilt for choice as Specsaver`s stock frames to suit any budget ranging from £25 - £149 including many designer labels like Tommy HilfigerGok Wan and Timberland to name just a few. The newest additions to the range being Jeff BanksKarl LangerfeldJohn Rocha and Osiris.

After making the hard decision as to which pair that we each wanted we had our facial measurements taken and told that our glasses would be available within 7 days.

Check out some of the frames we tried on below.

And here are the frames that we decided on, I went for a lovely navy blue John Rocha frame which have a RRP of £125 whilst Chris went for a very bright pair of orange armed Timberland frames with a RRP of £125 also.

We both love our new glasses, Chris likes the unusual colour of the arms which he thinks is `funky` and not dad like at all!!! I have to say I`m surprised as to how well my frames suit my face, I would of never gone for bold frames without the help from my Specsaver`s branch.

We now have specs appeal!!!!

I cannot fault the service we received in anyway, all the staff were friendly and helpful; especially the Optometrist who made Jacob`s test fun for him and would highly recommend Specsaver`s to anyone.

We received a voucher to use in Specsaver`s to purchase a pair of glasses each in return for an honest review of our experiences.
Family Fever

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Free (Or Very Cheap!) Activities for Autumn Half Term 2014 Dorset

Next week is half term for the kids in Dorset and I don`t know about you but the pennies are very, very tight at the moment. Lavish days out are unfortunately off the books this holiday so I have been on the lookout for some free or very cheap days out.

Here is what I have found so far, and hope that the list may of be some help to you xx

25th October - Bat Walk, Upton House, Poole  - 5pm, meet at the kiosk at the back of the house.

Join the Dorset Bat group for an evening of Halloween family fun. Arrive at 5pm and follow a batty trail to test your knowledge. Be prepared to walk in the woods looking for bats using bat detectors. Bats can fly in the dark but humans can`t so please bring a torch with you. Wear a Halloween costume if you dare!!

£1 per adult/50p per child

26th October - FREE Family Circus Fun Day at the Lighthouse, Poole. 11am - 4pm

Learn all the tricks of the circus trade in this family fun day, with trapeze and juggling lessons, face painting and much more. Some lessons will require booking on a donation basis.

27th October - Bournemouth Stour Valley Halloween Activities FREE, meet by the barn 11am - 3pm

Go along to the Stour Valley Nature reserve and see what spooky activities the RSPB have in store for you. Will you complete the trail and become a deadly detective?? For more information please call 07703 607630

28th October - Poole Museum 11am - 3pm FREE

Pop into the museum and make an amazing nocturnal animal mask to take home. This is a FREE event and no booking required. For more information please contact Sarah-Jane Buckle on 07703 607630.

29th October - Dorset Museum, Dorchester 10.30am - 12.30pm FREE

Victorian Halloween Customs and Crafts.

30th October - The one day I couldn`t find an event for so I highly recommend visiting the Treasure Island Play Area in Canford Cliffs, Poole, just off Cliff Drive. Free parking on the road.
A lovely pirate themed play park with some amazing climbing frames, this is one of the Wood clans favourite free places to visit. Weather depending why not take a picnic and then take the short stroll down the hill path that leads directly to the beach for a lovely walk long the seafront.

31st October - Radipole Lake, Weymouth 10am - 3pm FREE

Dare you venture into the weird and wonderful world at Radipole Lake?? There will be a trail for you to follow but be on the lookout for the wildlife peeking out from the natural habitats. For more details please contact 01305 778313.

1st November - The Greyhound Inn, Corfe. FREE 7pm - 9pm

Enjoy a FREE fireworks display set against the spooky backdrop of Corfe Castle. Please contact The Greyhound Inn to ensure the event is taking place on 01929 480205

I hope that this list makes planning this half term a bit easier for you.

If you know of any other events happening this holiday let me know and I`ll add it to the list. xxxx

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Cheesecake Cherry Brownies

Tomorrow is the last day for one of my colleagues at work so I have decided to make my favourite chocolate treat for her....Cheesecake Cherry Brownies.

These are so lush and gooey that I can`t get enough of them!! I daren`t count the syns or calories in them as I`m sure that I would have a heart attack.

Here is the recipe for you. xx

Ingredients  Will make approx 12 servings

For Brownie Mix  -

125 gm unsalted butter
125 gm dark chocolate chopped
200 gm brown sugar
3 eggs beaten
50 gm plain flour
50 gm cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder

For Cheesecake Mix - 

180 gm soft cheese
40gm caster sugar
glacier cherries for decoration


  1. Preheat your oven to 180c or gas mark 4.
  2. Combine the butter, chocolate and brown sugar in a pan until melted ( Top Tip - dont heat on too high a heat as the chocolate will granulate and taste crunchy) Remove from heat and whisk in the eggs.
  3. Add flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and stir well.
  4. Pour mixture into a greased and lined baking tin approx 18 cm x 28 cm in size.
  5. Beat soft cheese and sugar together until smooth and creamy. Blob randomly over the chocolate mixture to create a random pattern. Swirl the mixture together with a knife, or as I use a chopstick. P;ace cherries randomly into mixture.
  6. Bake at 180c or gas mark 4 for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the thickest part of the brownie.
  7. Wait until completely cool before dividing up into servings. 
  8. ENJOY!!!

Link up your recipe of the week
Casa Costello

Friday, 17 October 2014 answer!!

2 weeks ago today I spent the day in hospital being sedated and having an endoscopic ultrasound of my gall bladder. Today, after 16 months of recurrent right arm and shoulder pain I have an answer why........I definitely have a gall stone and tonnes of gall `sludge`!!!!

I received a letter in the post which was a copy of a letter that has been sent to the local health trust putting my case forward for consideration to have my gall bladder removed after finding a stone and sludge on the ultrasound. I haven't actually been told my condition by the specialist, just by this letter. I have an appointment at the start of next month to discuss the results so will find out more then.

I am so relieved that I finally have an answer to what is causing the pain and its not me being a wimp. Excuse the pun but it feels like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders!!

Now my only worry is what to expect after the op; if I do have the op that is.

Have any of you guys had their gall bladder out?? 

What is the post operative recovery like?? 

When were you able to drive again??

Have you had to change your diet post-op as I have heard that once your gall bladder is out that you can`t tolerate fatty foods compared to pre-op??

Any advice will be greatly appreciated xxxx

Monday, 13 October 2014

Can I have my nice pre-schooler back please??

Can I have my sort-of well behaved son back please??

Since the start of last month when Jacob started school we seemed to of swapped my lovely little toddler for an angry, tired and grumpy little school boy.

No matter how much sleep we try to get him to have he is constantly exhausted; the other night he slept 13 hours straight and was still grumpy!!

Angel to demon!!

I know it takes a lot out of them starting school with the all the new routines to learn and the social interactions, but just wish I could have my Jacob back!! It is a surprise to me how is reacting to starting school as he was at pre-school 3 full days a week, with action packed days the rest if the week.

He is loving being at school and every day he can`t wait to show me his new picture book and tells me what he has done during the day whilst we eat dinner. But dinner is having to be earlier and earlier at the moment because if he hasn`t eaten by 5.30pm then all hell breaks loose at the dinner table as he is just too tired to be able to concentrate on eating.

Regression....oh my god regression!!!! It is probably to do with the over tiredness but he has also regressed on his toilet training, he was completely dry day and night by the age of 3 years old which I am very proud of but in the few weeks he has been at school he has had 5 `accidents` where he said he didn`t feel it coming??? Every day when I pick him up now I wait with baited breath to see if he is coming out in his own trousers!!

Also he has started to throw temper tantrums for the stupidest things..the other day I asked the boys to get undressed from their school uniforms, about 5 seconds later a blood curdling scream came from upstairs so I bolted up the stairs expecting to find a massacre of kind, but no. I find Jacob having a full blown kicking the floor tantrum because he couldn't undo the button on his t-shirt!!

Fingers crossed he will be able to build up the stamina needed as quickly as possible, or I may go a bit more greyer than I all ready am!!!!!!

Do any of you have new reception starters?? Is your child going through the same thing or is it just my little demon???

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Our Water Babies Experience

I think that instilling water confidence in young children is an essential life skill.

Growing up each of my boys have had a short course of swimming lessons which I have then continued myself at weekends and holidays etc.

Both Alfie and Jacob are confident in the water so I hoped that Benjamin would inherit his brothers confidence and I was right; he loves the water. So much so that we have to constantly keep him entertained whilst in the water or he would be constantly climbing up onto the side and jumping in!!

Even though Ben has confidence in the water I started to research swimming lessons for toddlers in our area to help him learnt he building blocks to be able to swim on his own.

I found Water Babies - East Dorset and liked their ethos on lessons.

Water Babies classes run all around the country and you`ll be very unfortunate to not be able to find a class near you!!

My local franchise is run by the lovely Jo and her husband Steve Tolley. In 2005 Jo trained as a swimming instructor and hasn't looked back, Water Babies East Dorset has gone from strength to strength, now offering classes all over East Dorset.

When I took Benjamin for his first lesson he had just started to all of a sudden hate the water, I have since been told that its a normal phase which is sometimes called the `water wobble`!!! He clung onto me the entire lesson and typically only came out of his shell just as the lesson finished, but now we are on our 5th lesson and he loves it!

During each lesson we go through structured welcome song to Jo and the other babies. Ben loves this part as he gets to high 5 everyone, his favourite greeting.

Different songs and swimming methods are used in conjunction with each other to help create `triggers` in the child's mind so they know what's about to happen and help them learn to hold their breath for the underwater swimming. We say `Benjamin, ready, go` and then either trickle water over their face or push them under the water to swim independently up to the surface.

Sadly we are not supposed to take photos of us in the pool during lessons as we are in a public swimming pool so haven't got many to show you guys. But I managed to get a few of us getting ready for the lesson in the changing room but they are a tad blurred as Ben was so eager to get in the pool he wouldnt pose. My naughty sister did manage to grab one of us in the water at the start of the lesson this week....naughty, naughty!!!!

I apologise for having to see me in a swimming costume!!

One of the main rules of the lessons is that the children have to be `double` nappie`d. So basically they have to wear a normal disposable swim nappy underneath a neoprene outer tight nappy, this is to prevent any unwanted accidents leaking out during the lesson!

I have to say that going to these lessons have been great for both me and Benjamin; obviously for him to learn essential life skills but for also for me as I have been interacting with other mums and Jo is so friendly. Anyone in Dorset needs to give these guys a try, well worth it.

We have been lucky enough to of booked a place onto Water Babies well reknown and popular underwater photo shoot at the end of the month, check back soon to see how it goes!!!!!

A course of lessons was provided free of charge by Water Babies in exchange for a fair and truthful review.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

I survived!!

Regular readers will know that last Friday I had a hospital appointment to be sedated and have an endoscopic ultrasound of my gall bladder.

To put it lightly I was bricking it!! Not the procedure but having a catheter in my hand, pathetic I know!!

Well anyway when I went into have my pre-op checks I mentioned that I was worried about the I/V catheter and the nurse asked me how I coped with blood test in my arm. I replied fine, I dont bat an eye lid as I had so many done when carrying the boys. "Right" she said lets put the catheter in there then, I was so pleased, and am happy to say it hurt less than a normal blood test as the needle was smaller.

Once the catheter was in place I was ushered into the procedure room which was really daunting as there were at least 8 people in full surgical gowns, gloves and masks....I was only having an endoscopic ultrasound!! I was laid on the bed and asked to lay in the recovery position. They sprayed the back of my throat with local anaesthetic spray which was rank...tasted like over ripe bananas. 

Last thing I remember is a nurse fiddling with the catheter in my arm and being asked to bite down on a mouth guard. Next thing I know its an hour later and I`m in recovery.....amazing, I don`t remember a thing and didn`t feel like I`ve had anything done. I shouldn`t of worried about a thing, it was the easiest thing to of have done.

Now I just have to wait for the results from the consultant to see if I need my gall bladder removed or to manage my `attacks` with medication. Watch this space!!

Silent Sunday 05.10.2014

Now I know that this is my Silent Sunday photo for this week but I just can`t keep silent about this photo. I am bursting with pride that my 7 1/2 year old son ran in the Bournemouth Festival of Running yesterday and completed the junior 1.5k race in an amazing 8 mins and 15 seconds!!!!!


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Scared of a little prick!!

Firstly I have to apologise for the pun in the post title!!

This post may not be read by anyone but just putting my feelings into words and typing them makes me a little better.

Since having Benjamin last year I have been having these weird episodes of feeling like I have a ball stuck under my ribs on my right side accompanied with severe arm and shoulder pain. To begin with I just assumed that I had pulled a muscle in my side and both of these feelings were because if that. After a really bad episode I went to the docs who said that I was having typical symptoms of gall bladder stones.....I was astounded as never thought that arm and shoulder pain could be something to do with an internal organ!!!

I was referred to my local hospital for a work up and after loads of blood tests, an ultrasound scan and an mri scan my consultant told me that they hadn`t found anything obvious but he was concerned as to why I was having these very painful attacks.

To move forward his advice was to have an internal endoscopic ultrasound of my gall bladder and liver. To have this I would need to be sedated as it is not the most pleasant of procedures to have done awake as you have to swallow a tube the thickness of about a normal size sausage!!!!!!

I have an appointment to have this done this Friday and I am bricking it to put it nicely!! Reading all the pre-op blurb I was sent through from the hospital was not the best idea....I know that they have to list all the possible post op complications but really, do they have to be that thorough???!! The biggest complication form this procedure is broken front teeth!!!! OMG this is my biggest phobia/fears in life; to loose my front teeth!!

Saying that having to swallow this huge tube isn't my biggest worry, having a catheter in my hand is. I know it sounds like a pathetic thing to be scared of but that's just me!! Hubby says I am ridiculous as I have had 3 babies with hardly any pain relief and I`m scared of a little needle in my hand. Having blood tests doesn't make me even bat an eyelid but for some reason the thought of a needle in my hand freaks me out.

I know I have to man up and just deal with it as there are many people out there who have to have catheters on a regular basis and worse. I`m just hoping that I dont cry and look like a baby!!

I`ll report back how it went on Friday evening if I am with it enough to type as have been told I can`t drive or look after children for 24 hours after the sedation.....I suppose I could look at it as a mini break for me but it might be a tad drastic tactic!!!!