My Shopkins List
My daughter loves Shopkins. I must admit I don’t know the names of many of them. One rainy afternoon we decided to try and find out the names of them. Let me assure you googling is no help at all. That was until we came across the website Shopkins World.
If you register for an account you can take advantage of My Shopkins List. We used the technique of searching for the type of Shopkins like cake, cookie or shampoo for example and see what images popped up. My daughter ticked we have this one if her Shopkins showed up. To check what you have just click on the My List tab.
This isn’t a foolproof technique. It depends on whether the object you have searched for is in the Shopkins name. If it’s not, nothing appears. We spent ages searching for all kinds of variations on microphone. Nothing. We found the character was called Mike Rophone just by accident; while searching for another character.
All nine series of Shopkins are catalogued. You can search by series, but I’m guessing if you don’t know the name you might not know the series either. By clicking on each character you get some information on them. I remember being obsessed by this kind of stuff when I was a child!
The website is simple enough to use that my six year old can do it by herself. However, six year old phonetic spelling is not the best way of searching for unknown Shopkins so some adult help is necessary.
Just don’t ask me to remember the names of them. I can barely call my children the right name!
Following on from my car seat demonstration I got to have a look at some of the other products for sale in the baby department at Smyths Toys Cardiff. On March 16th they re-launch The Baby Room. If you use the hashtag #thebabyroom on social media will get a glimpse before the actual launch date. This a sponsored post from my invite to the Baby Room launch event in Cardiff. All product recommendations are things that either I have used, or still do use, or something I liked the look of from my time in store. None of the Smyths Toys links are affiliate links!
Prams and Buggies
I dread to think how many hours I spent researching prams online. Smyths have a good range in-store to try out. I was really impressed with the Chico Ooh La La; I swear it weighs less than Boy2! I was after a lightweight buggy suitable from birth and really wish this had been released a year ago. Don’t forget the staff are there to help you decide which pram will suit you; and show you how to put the buggy down. Who doesn’t get that wrong the first time? I’ve stood aimlessly looking around more times than I can care to remember while pretending I know what I’m doing. As well as stand alone strollers and prams they also sell a range of travel systems, if you prefer the idea of a car seat that clips to a pram base for easy transfer.
I have the Silvercross Pop 2 (in bright red – easily spotted). It was much lighter than most of the from birth pushchairs I tried. Our car has quite a high ride height and I was finding it difficult to lift the big pram in and out because it was so heavy. I should do a full review post really but the one thing I will mention is don’t forget you can’t hang as much shopping on a lightweight buggy! I’m very happy with it and most importantly on the school run I can steer it one handed while grabbing the nearest child’s hand to cross the road.
They Have Everything a Baby Needs
Well, lets be honest what a parent needs lol. As you would expect with Smyths they are very competitively priced. If you can’t get to a store, shop at Smyths online store. One of their most prized products is the Snuza Hero. I remember a friend buying a mat for the cot that sounds an alarm if your baby doesn’t move for a certain amount of time. Great, until your baby’s manages to shuffle off it, and the alarm gives you a near heart attack. The Snuza Hero attaches to your baby’s nappy, reducing the risk of false alarms. It is the UK’s only medically certified portable baby breathing monitor.
One of my favourite times is bath time. Boy2 absolutely loves a bath and the tantrum as we take him out can probably be heard for miles around. One of my favourite bath sets is this one from Playgro. For £12.99 you get a lot of bright toys, with a good variety of uses. We have these Playgro soft blocks and they’re fab in the bath because they are light enough to float.
I am the Queen of Last Minute, then I rush out to the shop and realised what I was after is out of stock. If you order by 5pm you qualify for next day delivery. If you aren’t in a hurry and you’re spending over £25 you qualify for free delivery. Of course, you could choose to click and collect. If you’re in the Cardiff area you will find Smyths Toys at Leckwith retail park. Just head for Cardiff City Stadium.
There are a lot of activities planned. On Friday 16th March The Family Loop are hosting a Twitter chat with a chance to win £200 in vouchers and a Joie car seat. Keep an eye out for their new catalogue and the re-launch offers and go for a visit to your local store. I was impressed with what I saw in Cardiff. If you are in South Wales Smyths are at Leckwith retail park near to the Cardiff City stadium.
Cardiff Had Snow!
This post is a photographic diary of some of my favourite images from the recent snowfall in Cardiff. It has been five years since we last had a decent amount of snow. The Girl was a baby. Now, Boy2 has experienced snow as a baby. I wonder if he will have to wait until he is nearly six before seeing deep snow again.
We had an awesome time. Everyone was at home. Laughs, aching legs and tantrums about being cold. I have loved these few days.
Hope you had fun in the snow and stayed safe with no sledging accidents.
Car Seat Fitting at Smyths Toys
This is a sponsored post. It represents my honest opinion of the car seat demonstration and fitting service at Smyths Toys Leckwith store in Cardiff. The blog post is my representation of the information I learnt.
I was recently invited to Smyths Toys at Cardiff to learn about their re-launch of the baby department next month (16th March) and car seat fitting service. Hands up if like me, you have only ever been there to look at toys. My visits usually involve wrestling children from the Lego aisles and saying ‘no’ a million times. I have three kids. I’ve been putting children in and out of car seats for the last nine years; but these five tips shocked me.
Did You Know?
- Most of us have been guilty of wanting to put our toddlers into forward facing car seats as soon as possible. It’s the weight and head position that’s important. The back of the car seat should be above their ears, not the top of their head! I have babies with long legs and I’ve always worried that their legs were squashed. With my son now I will definitely wait longer before moving him up a seat class and out of his current seat.
- Rearward car seats up to the age of four are much safer. They drastically reduce the force from a car impact. I have always moved from rearward facing seats to forward facing at around 12 months as they have outgrown their class 0 seat. Even though I have a car seat already from my previous children I am definitely going to look at keeping Boy2 facing backwards.
- How many of us “protect the car” by placing blankets under the car seats. I do! I have two black towels under the hard backed booster seats to stop them digging in. After my visit though I’ve taken them out. They might cause the car seat to slip and not do it’s job properly. Car seats aren’t tested with blankets underneath them! The same goes for headrests. Make sure they are out of the way and not interfering with the seat at all.
- For Houdini in a 5-point harness. To make sure the harness is totally tight, first pull on the lap straps, once these are tight then tighten the shoulder straps. If you only tighten the shoulder straps you may find the lap straps still have some give, while the shoulder straps are too tight.
- Why replace a car seat after an accident? It’s a common question. I loved the analogy used of a Pyrex bowl. Drop it on the floor it’s might not smash but it might chip. You can see that weakness. With a car seat you can’t see any hairline cracks that might have occurred after an accident. This is why it’s best to replace them.
Smyths Toys Have Fully Trained Advisors
Smyths Toys have a full car seat fitting service with IOSH Accredited Advisors. Their car seat service can advise you on the available seats in their range and also provide expert fitting. Have more than one car? They’ll make sure the seat you choose can correctly fit both of your vehicles.
I did ask what regular maintenance they recommend. Except for cleaning I don’t do any regular checks on our children’s car seats. But should I? Sam, a qualified baby expert, recommended testing the harness without your child in it. Is the buckle gummed up with sticky stuff? Is it working correctly? If you have a seat that uses the adult belt to secure it. Check the adult seat belt and it’s buckle to make sure they are both working correctly. Clean the seat regularly but don’t use strong cleaners on the seat. We all get tempted to bleach the living daylights out of it, but strong chemicals could damage or weaken the harness straps.
There is a demonstration car seat in the store where you can have all the features and fitting demonstrations done by a trained fitter. Much easier to see what they’re doing here than in the back seat of your car!
I was really impressed and I am definitely going to return to Smyths Toys as a customer when I change my current car seat.
If you want to see how good they are go along to the Leckwith store on the 24th March for a free demonstration. If you can’t make the 24th don’t forget Smyths Toys do free car seat fitting all year round!
Rainy Day Worksheets
Making your own personalised worksheets doesn’t have to be hard work or leave you wanting to throw your computer out of your window. I discovered this website ages ago and it’s now my favourite place to make my own; or get the kids making their own worksheets and crossword puzzles. On a rainy afternoon when you’re trying to prize them away from the games consoles colouring just doesn’t cut it most of the time and board games take too much parental input. These worksheets they can do on their own. I have a pre-printed stash hidden where they can’t get wasted on sunny afternoons.
Using A to Z Teacher Stuff you can make your own word search puzzles using their online generator. It’s a really simple process, taking just a few clicks. Instead of a generic and often very boring themed word search your children can create one in a subject that interests them. Football and Shopkins are always popular subjects in this house!
I was most excited about this application! I had fun making an Arsenal themed crossword for Boy1. Couldn’t resist adding in a clue about their recent defeat to Swansea though. That one probably won’t be popular. As well as printing out the crossword puzzle you can also print out the answers. Perfect for those of us with dodgy memories. And because you are making up the puzzle you can tailor it to subjects they love and to their stage of learning.
Word Shapes Worksheet
I wasn’t sure what this was for first of all but it is a really good activity sheet. The boxes are sized according to the size of the letters – which threw me for a split second and makes them look a little untidy. It does give a big clue to the kids though that a tall or long letter is needed. I made one based around football (can you get a theme going here!) To be honest the word searches and crossword puzzles are much more popular with my children, they did like these worksheets just not as much.
Handwriting Practice Worksheets
There was a mixed reception to these handwriting worksheets. My 9 year old moaned at doing them because they are babyish. My 5 year old loved them. Especially when she got to create her own. I must admit I wouldn’t routinely use these for my older two children, but when Boy2 is at the stage of learning to write I’m sure I’ll produce a few in characters he likes. My eldest is left handed and I do wish I’d found this website years ago. However, I’m not sure he would have used them even then, he hates handwriting.
Try these sheets yourself and visit the tools section at A to Z Teacher Stuff. Have fun! If you liked them then let me know by leaving a comment below. For more ideas on useful websites that I love, why not read my blogs about my favourite places to download children’s activity worksheets or Twinkl reading worksheets.
She doesn’t actually do it. Would look a bit silly with an Amazon Echo Dot walking them to school and I’m not sure how successfully it could push the buggy. But, after years of being late and in a rush I had a lightbulb moment. Why not use Alexa? Since I’ve started setting timings on her it’s helped me and more importantly my two slow coaches to know when they should be getting dressed, brushing their teeth and turning off the bloody tv. So, here are my tips to make the most out of Alexa and how she can help you maintain some control in the mornings.
This is in no way a sponsored post, I was bought an Amazon Echo Dot for Christmas last year but the Amazon links within the post are affiliate links. If you purchase through Amazon using them I receive a small commission from Amazon (that costs you nothing).
Alexa’s alarm function is what I use most. You can set multiple alarm times! I have 4 alarms that go off. The first is at 8am for breakfast must be finished by then. The second at 8.15am; that one is for me to make sure the uniforms and lunches are finished and to tell them to get dressed. 8.30am is the stop what you are doing alarm, for me as well because I have to get Boy2 dressed in his coat and put into the buggy about now. The last one at 8.40am is brush your teeth, put your shoes on and fetch your bags. I don’t set an alarm to leave the house….
I set reminders on Alexa. I always schedule these for first thing so they are on my phone as I leave the house. My memory is terrible, I’m always forgetting to do things and to go to appointments so this is helping. Couple that with a second calendar on my phone for when I am out and about and it is supposed to be a foolproof system. Perfect for dress up days or days you need a packed lunch for school trips. Go to the Amazon Alexa app and select the reminder option and add in your reminder details. So far I haven’t linked Alexa up to my Apple i-Cloud. One step at a time hey. Eventually everything from Alexa will be sent to my phone.
Alexa To Do List
Like the calendar function you can announce jobs to Alexa or type them into the Alexa app. When you can’t remember what you are supposed to be doing instead of sitting down reading Mumsnet just ask her “what is on my to do list” and she tells you. Happy days! I have also found buy sweets added on by a certain child of mine before now.
I don’t like silence in the morning. I’m always pretty grumpy I need music to get me singing and give me the mental strength to deal with the arguing over Rice Crispies. alexa can control your Amazon music subscription or you can ask her to tune into your favourite radio stations.
If you have an Amazon Echo device try these four functions and see if they help to streamline your morning. There are loads of other useful functionalities but these are my school run go-to’s. I might even be able to trick people into thinking I have become organised. And yes, I’m still late some mornings.
So my littlest is soon to be one. I’m not entirely sure where this year has gone. It feels like it has been lost in a haze of sleepless nights, endless feeds and a depressive fog. But it’s also been lost to first smiles, learning to move and clapping hands while babbling nonsense. Boy2 is unrecognisable from the baby who was handed to me in the hospital. He is such a happy beautiful little boy. He already shrieks and has one hell of a tantrum if he isn’t allowed to touch the electric sockets or the burglar alarm. But how awesome are the changes that occur just in that first year? From being able to do nothing but cry, eat and poo to feeding themselves and crawling/walking.
We’re going to have the usual family tea party on his birthday with the usual party treats. Recently I’ve seen a lot of pictures on Instagram with first birthday cake smashes. It might just be me, but the thought of washing ground-in cake out of my son’s hair is not the way I want to celebrate his first birthday. I think it’s a wonderful idea for other people’s children because the pictures can look really cool. The one thing I haven’t got around to yet is having his fingerprint cast as a silver charm. I’m writing this thinking I really need to get on with it before his first year has totally disappeared.
If you are looking for good quality licensed character birthday supplies then Toy Infinity can help you. I stock a range of first birthday party accessories in a variety of themes. We’ve gone for the animal theme set. And before the genderless arguments start, it is always blue or pink that sells. It’s not worth stocking any other colour because I get stuck with it and end up selling at a loss on EBay. Anyway, I never buy the pink things I buy blue for The Girl every time as it’s her favourite colour.
However you celebrate the first milestone, celebrate it with family and don’t forget to take photos like I always do! For more birthday party ideas have a look at the birthday party ideas category for posts like this Star Wars one!
Happy birthday to me
Yes this blog is two years old. It is a birthday blog post! Toy Infinity is now entering the realms of tantrums, potty training and the desire to have everything that everyone else has. While I hope it avoids the naughty step too often over the next twelve months, I have no doubt that at some point it will spend two minutes thinking about whether it is sorry. Last year was a good year and a great learning curve.
While the blog is still child focused on toys and activities; it has also grown into other subjects around motherhood and parenting. We all have experiences that are useful to share. Knowing how I’ve turned to Google to solve some of my questions I blog in the hope someone might find it useful. Blogging can be very cathartic I have a lot of posts written that I have never pressed publish on, and maybe never will. Maybe 2018 will be the year I become more honest in print? I’ll have to look back in December and see if I was true to myself in that sense. Anyway, I’m digressing.
So What’s New?
As well as the blogging I’ve started extending into my other online love of e-commerce. When I decided to start Toy Infinity, my idea was based around e-commerce originally. Then I discovered blogging. That changed my focus. For 2018 I’m taking it back to my original plan a bit more. At the moment it’s just affiliate links to Amazon UK but eventually my online shop will expand into other areas. Why am I doing this? I buy and use a lot of child related stuff. I blog about craft and baking ideas. If you like what you read about, it makes sense to be able to buy it easily without having to navigate away from my page. The shop looks tidier than a lot of affiliate links in posts. The links will still be in each relevant blog post but also in one collective place too. Affiliate links mean I am paid a small commission by Amazon, which helps fund Toy Infinity and keep it going.
Thanks for reading with me. I look forward to my next birthday.
Plastic Free January
Blue Planet 2 highlighted the major problem plastic is to our oceans. How plastic trash is infiltrating every corner of our waterways and oceans. That fish and marine mammals are dying from our obsession with all things plastic. Those images have shocked me into trying to change my buying habits; avoid plastic and think more about recycling.
If you’re in any doubt spend five minutes watching this video from the BBC on Facebook. It shows the harsh reality of what rubbish is floating in our oceans.
Wales has a target of zero landfill waste by 2050. Currently we are second in the world for leading recycling, only behind Germany. The Welsh Government is doing great things on the eco front. With the news yesterday that China is banning the import of plastic waste, it will become even more important to recycle plastic and avoid more needlessly ending up in landfill.
Can You Avoid Plastic at the Supermarket?
I will try not to rant. I can only promise to try though because my first attempt at this in a supermarket was a bloody disaster. You can read about the campaign plastic free July, which was my first attempt. Ask yourself. Why? Why does everything come in plastic containers or with a plastic bag around it? It was much harder than I imagined to avoid plastic packaging. I’m trying again this new year.
- All fruit is in a plastic sealed bag or a bag and plastic container. Even if you avoid the pre-packaged items they give you… Yes you guessed it; a plastic bag to put it in.
- The situation is no better with vegetables. Apart from the big sacks of potatoes they are in a brown paper sack but I can’t lift those!
- Why not change the fruit and veg to strong paper packaging? Forget the pre-packaged stuff, select you own and put into a paper bag.
- Butter – your choice is plastic or unrecyclable foil. I stuck with plastic in the hope it might be recycled in my locality.
- Milk – only plastic.
- Bread – all plastic bags. Even some bakery product in paper packaging had plastic windows.
- I chose cleaning products with the recycled logo on the bottles but whether they do actually get recycled I don’t know.
- I bought a massive bag of pasta to reduce the amount of plastic wrapping I was throwing away, and then stored it in Tupperware. Tupperware is made of plastic. A face palm moment on my behalf.
- If you shop in a supermarket it is nigh on impossible to avoid plastic packaging.
- If supermarkets had to pay to recycle all that packaging I bet they would find an alternative pretty damn quick.
So I hang my head in shame!
So I have failed this week. My only positive was I remembered my carrier bags so didn’t have to buy anymore of those. What shocked me most was the fruit and veg aisles – very few products are not packaged in plastic.
I’m trying something different with my food shop next week. I’m going to the nearest small high street to where I live. I am only going to shop there, so local butcher, green grocer, pound shop. That way I should be able to reduce the amount of plastic packaging I’m taking home.
But if that is what it takes how difficult does that make it for working people? Those who might not get to the small shops before they close.
I’ll keep you posted on my small business attempt to avoid plastic packaging! Continue reading 10 Things Only People Trying to Avoid Plastic Packaging Will Understand
Happy New Year
I don’t generally do New Year resolutions because I’m pretty crap at sticking to them. This year I’m setting myself goals instead. Things I would like to achieve. I’m only going to aim for things that I think I can achieve. No point in giving yourself unrealistic resolutions and failing at them that was what my twenties were about. In my forties I’m more of a realist.
Goals I Want To Achieve
- My biggest test is running. For too many years I’ve told myself I can’t do it. In December I tried. You know what? I can do it. So my biggest goal is to run the Cardiff 10K in September. I can comfortably run 2.5K already so that should be achievable.
- Lose a bit of baby weight from my middle. I’m hoping the running will help with that.
- Gym twice a week for fitness goals.
- Healthy eating. Now breastfeeding has stopped I am no longer craving the high fat food I was so this should be easier. It will hopefully minimise my IBS symptoms too.
- Blog regularly.
- Mental wellness. Spend time working on mindfulness and mental health. By the end of the year I want a strong body without neglecting my mind. In 2018 I hope to come off the Sertraline and have beaten this PND.
- Photography. To do that course and improve my composition.
Goals I Want To See
- To encourage my children outside more and do more family walks, something we have neglected in 2017.
- To hit my blog goals that I missed at the end of 2017.
- My two eldest children to get more swimming badges.
- My youngest to carry on being the mischievous whirlwind he is.
I Don’t Believe in New Year New You
But I do believe in good health. My family is complete, now is my time to strengthen my body because let’s face it pregnancy is hard. This year I’m not dieting, but showing my children that health and exercise is more important than weight.