Friday, 24 March 2017

Celebrating Easter with Jelly Belly




Who normally spends there Easter stuffing there face with Chocolate? I do!! I love Easter and always feel so naughty and guilty after it is over with the amount of chocolate I have eaten. 

But maybe there is a solution? Why not Celebrate Easter with me and Jelly Belly in eating lots of yummy Jelly Beans instead. 

Over on my twitter I have an exciting competition running where 2 winners can get their hands on a pack of Jelly Belly's super special shimmering Jewel collection. 

Its not to be missed with the pack featuring some of Jelly Belly's most loved flavours such as Jewel Blueberry, Jewel Bubblegum, Jewel Sour Apple, Jewel Cream Soda, Jewel Berry Blue, Jewel Orange and Jewel Very Cherry. 

Ive had these before and they really are scrumptious, my mouth was watering simply typing out the flavours. 

The jelly beans are all finished with a beautiful sheen shimmery appearance which really enhances the bright colours and makes them look almost to good to eat. Almost.. I said almost. There was nothing stopping me from devouring my pack of them. 

These jelly beans make the perfect Easter gift or Easter treat. 


Why not head straight over to Twitter now to RT and Follow both @JellyBellyUK and @LilysLearners and have the chance to win some in time for Easter. 

Or you could always head out to WH Smiths or John Lewis to pick yourself up a pack now.

Have you ever tried the Jelly Belly Jewel collection before? 



Thursday, 23 March 2017

Re - living my Childhood - The Beauty and the Beast Film


First thing i'm going to say is that although i'm going to try and have no spoilers in this post I may accidently post some. So if you read this and the film is spoilt for you then its your own fault! So SPOILER ALERT. SPOILER ALERT.
Although, I can hardly ruin the plot for anybody. Most people especially those who have children will all know the story of the beauty and the beast. 

When I heard that they were making a film of the disney classic beauty and the beast I was generally really excited. Its one of my favourite disney films. Belle is my favourite princess and I have always loved the music in the film. Watching the film always brings back a happy feeling in my stomach of happy childhood times. But part of me was also ready to most likely be disappointed. Lots of questions were running through my head about what the film may be like. Would they stick to the classic songs? Would they keep my favourite parts of the story in? Would they change it all to much? Would it be over the top with effects and CGI? I also heard a rumour that they were going to change the yellow dress that belle wears in the main dance scene. I actually didn't watch any trailers for the film apart from the very first time it was said to be coming soon as I didn't want it to spoil it for me. Firstly I find trailers show way to much of the film and secondly if it wasn't looking up to my high expectations of what this film would be like then I was frightened that I would be put off.  

So Tuesday night me and my mum booked tickets to go and see the film. I really did have this gut feeling in my stomach that all my childhood memories of the film would be dashed and I would sit there sighing at the film not being like the classic. 

Boy was I surprised. I was enchanted! Smiling entirely throughout the film and almost brought to tears at how beautifully done the film was. Everything about it was perfect. Firstly the music. Oh how I got butterflies with excitement as I heard the opening tune you that you hear in the start of the cartoon. I was scared they would "do up" the music to much and change it to much but it was exact. Every voice that sang each lyric was perfect and I recognised every song word for word. It was so exciting to see the film brought to life and seeing actors and actresses singing out the words. It really was like I was watching the classic. Ive had the songs in my head ever since. They were all amazing but for me my favourite of the entire film was when they sing about Gaston in the pub. It was done perfectly and they even included Gaston lifting people into the air and spitting into a jug just like in the classic. By the end of the opening song I knew that I was going to love watching this film. 

The sets were perfect. From the little house that Belle lives in to the enchanted castle that the Beast lives in. They all had so much detail and the castle and its surroundings were amazing. The costumes and the characters were also done so perfectly. Each one looked just like you would have seen in the classic. Did they keep the dress? Yes!! I was delighted to see that they had and that they were going to get rid of it was just a silly rumour. It was a stunning dress and is the dress that every little princess just loves to see. 

Another thing I was happy to see is that there wasn't the over use of CGI and things making things look to fake. You watched the film and not for a second were you looking at the walking talking clock and candle stick and thinking well that looks totally fake even though it obviously is because they don't exist. (Sorry to spoil anyones dreams if you thought they did). Also the Beast looked real and his fur was so nicely done. 

The next thing I want to mention was the cast and how amazingly well they have done choosing the right cast for this film. To begin with when I heard that they had chosen Emma Watson for the part of Belle I was disappointed. After watching and loving her in Harry Potter I was scared that all I would see was Hermione but I was wrong for a second time and she actually played Belle really well. She obviously has the beauty (although in my opinion her hair wasn't dark enough) and she can definetly play someone brave and stubborn just like the character of Belle. I really did totally forget about her being Hermione and she was definetly Belle in this film. 

I can't think of anyone in this film who didn't play their part perfectly. From the Beast played by Dan Stevens to the Talking wardrobe Madame Garderobe played by Audra Mcdonnald. But when thinking about who I thought played their character best there was no doubt in my mind. The actor Luke Evans played the best Gaston that could ever be possible. He had him down to a tee. His voice, his stubbornness, his vanity, and not to mention his dashing looks. It was all perfect and I was really impressed at how well he played him. He played so well along side his best friend Lefou who I was excited to see was played by Josh Gad who is also the voice of Olaf. Toggether him and Luke played the perfect pair and had me laughing through out the film. Disney introduced there first Gay character into the film making Lefou secretly gay. You see suggestions through out the film which are not hugely noticeable until the end when he dances in the arms of another man. Its a great addition to the film and kind of shows why Lafou was always so close to Gaston never leaving his side. 

So did they change the storyline to the film at all? So far I haven't really spoilt to much but this may be a spoiler so look away now. They kept most the story line perfect to the story of Beauty and the Beast you all love. Keeping simple but special lines in there such as when the Beast gives Belle the Library and says "well if you like it so much, then its yours". But there was some changes. I wasn't to keen on the fact that in this film they let Belle hug her father before leaving the Castle and say Bye to him, where as in the classic he gets dragged away and Belle is distraught with the fact that she doesn't get to say goodbye to her father. Then also they changed the scene where Gaston asks Belle to marry him and he gets pushed out into the mud. I was really looking forward to seeing Gaston covered in mud but they left that part out. Then where was the tiny little teacup Chip at the end rescuing them? In the classic Chip played so much a bigger part that he does in this film. But I guess that really is me just being picky as they really did keep in the important parts. 

They did add some extra scenes to but really they needed to add some extra or the film would just not be long enough. I feel the new parts they added fitted really well and gave some background to the characters. These are ones I won't be telling you about and you will need to go and see the film for yourself. 

I left the cinema feeling so happy and that I had re lived part of my childhood.  
So if you are like me and think you will be disappointed by the film then fear not. I can 100% say that you will not be disappointed. I loved this film so much that Im even going to go back to the cinema again and watch it for a second time. Even if I have to go by myself I will be there! 

Have you seen the film? What did you think? Will you be going to see it? 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Two Fantastic Orchard Toy Games - Two by Two and the Post Box Game

Now that Lily is getting older and understand things a little more, games are something she is really taking a liking to. For her its a nice activity that she can sit down and concentrate on and she really does like to get her little mind working trying to figure out things. 

When meeting Orchard Toys at the Toy Fair Lily really showed an interest in 2 games. These games were called Post Box Game and Two by Two. They both had something in common about them that Lily loved so much. That was the element of posting. When Orchard Toys saw that Lily has taken such an interest in these games they sent them over to us to try and also write a review. 



As soon as I got these out of the delivery box Lily could not wait for us to try them. She literally snatched them out of my hand and sat down ready to play. Eager is an understatement!!! I quickly managed to get a couple of snaps of them in the box before opening Lily's first choice which was two by two. 

The two by two game comes with 1 3-D Noahs Ark, 42 animal cards and 2 character pieces that are Noah and his wife. There are also 2 cards that have rain clouds on them. The object of the game is simple. You need to be the first player to make matching pairs of all their animals and post them in the ark. 


Although the object of the game was simple, I did get a little confused on how to play the game. I have never been very good at following game instructions and apparently even games for 2 year olds confuse me. I probably should of let Lily teach me. Haha 

So the way to set up the game. You place the ark in the middle. Then get all your cards toggether. You need to find the 2 rain clouds and set them apart and then you make pairs of the animal cards and make 2 piles, each pile containing one of each animal. 

One set of the cards are all placed face down on the table surrounding the ark, the rain clouds are also placed facing down with them. Then the other cards are dealt between the players. Between 2 you would normally have 10 pieces each but as Lily had never played before we decided to half that and have 5 each and so placed 10 animals face down. We then placed the 2 clouds down. 


Now we had to take it in turns to lift up a card to see if it matched our animals. It did take a while for Lily to grasp this concept and I had to help her by saying "yes you do have the frog". When you have a matching pair you then post that pair into the ark. The first player to get rid of all their cards then has to try and find the cloud and when they have they post that into the ark and the ark sails away. I won the first round, not that Lily cared because her favourite part was getting to post the animals into the ark. 

We played this game again but the second time a little different. This time I faced all the animals up so then Lily could see the animals. So it was more of her practicing matching more than anything.

I do love that with Orchard Toys games you can slightly change the ways of playing to adjust to the age of the child and help them have practice playing the game. 

There was one thing that after I played i though to myself and that was "we didn't use the characters supplied, what are they for?" So I re read the instructions and they are for imaginary play afterwards. What a great idea and addition to the game. I also though that when 2 people were playing we could each have a little character as our player character. You know, a little like you have a piece that goes around a board game. 


Two by Two is a brilliant game, the bright colourful pictures in the game really impress me and I think that Lily is really attracted to them which makes her want to get them out all the time. We have already had this game out and played with it countless times.

Two by Two also has some great education aspects such as encouraging observation, developing manual dexterity and encouraging personal and social skills. I also think that having to put the pieces into the slot helps with hand and eye co-ordination and fine motor skills. 

This game is recommended for children aged 2-6 years old and is for 2 to 4 players. It retails at £12 and can be bought from the Orchard Toys website.

Next we played the Post Box Game. I just knew Lily would be really good at this one with it being about colours. She is really into her colours at the moment and knows them all really well. 

Each time I get this game out Lily gets really excited. The first time we played it she could not wait for me to get it set up and started posting the letters into the letter box before I got chance to finish. 

The game comes with 4 different coloured post boxes with supports and 16 letter cards. The post boxes are all in the primary colours of Red, Yellow, Green and Blue. They are all colours that Lily knows but if your child didn't know them then they are the best 4 to start with so its great that they have used these colours for this game. 


To set up the game you slide the supports into the base of the post box to stand them up. You then need to get all the envelopes and place them colour side down onto the table. There are more than one way to play the game. In the simple way of the game you and the other player take it in turns to lift a cards and then place that into the matching post box. This is the way that me and Lily played the game. Then you could also take it in turns to pick up 2 cards if the colours match you can post it into the same coloured post box. Or you can assign each player a coloured post box and the aim of the game is to post all their coloured letters into the post box first.

This game really helps Lily with her matching skills. Although she knows her colours really well. She is still learning to match things up. A few times I had to remind her how to play the game and ask her what colour envelope she was holding and then ask her which coloured post box that it should go in. Then she generally got the answer right. 

This game is really going to help Lily learn how to take turns also. Something that a lot of children her age need to start to learn. She is going to be starting nursery soon and so its something I would like her to know how to do before going there. 



I would say that this game is a great start out game for 2 years old that have never played a game before. Its simple, fun and they will just love posting the letters into the post boxes. Its also a game that Lily will quite happily play by herself. If I set it up for her she happily sits there matching all the colours and posting them. Then does it all over again when she has finished. 

The game also helps to develop hand and eye co-ordination skills while your child grips the cards and aims to put them into the post box slot.

This game retails a little lower in price than Two by Two at £9.50. I think all Orchard Toys games are well worth every penny and they are always one of my Go To companies for games for Lily. They are always so great in quality and provide you with really sturdy pieces that are sure to last. 

Its recommended for children aged 2+ and is for 1 to 4 players. You can buy the post box game on the Orchard Toys website

Which of these 2 games do you like the sound of?

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Lily HATING Bath time.




Lily has never been a big fan of the bath. Even as a baby she didn't want to spend to much time in there and cried to come out. 

But as she has gotten older it really has started to turn into a tricky ordeal. There have been tantrums, theres kicking, there crying and bath time is something I now dread to do. 

I have no idea why it has suddenly got worse, before now she would always happily go in the bath and play, and as a younger child always enjoyed the water splashed over her head. Though we always had to get her looking up to the ceiling to wash her hair as she hated the water going in her eyes. 

This is how bath time currently goes. 

"Lily, time to have a bath. Shall we go and make bubbles?"

Lily really excited. 


"BUBBLES!!!!! Yes Yes Yes," 

We run to the bathroom, start the bath, she watches and plays with the bubbles with her hands as they start to form. 

When the bath is full. "Ok, lets go and get undressed and get in"

Lily runs away screaming "No no no no" 


Then its a game of catch Lily to try to undress her. She isn't currently laughing, she really knows that she is about to have a bath and doesn't want to go in.  

Then the even harder part. Putting her in the bath. I lift her up, hold her over it and she lifts her legs up and kicks and screams "No No No"

She really needs to have a bath, it not like I make her have one daily but washing is a must. So I generally dunk her bottom half in to the water and eventually she sits down. (maybe realising that the water isn't so scary)


Then, she finally relaxes, plays with her bath toys and the bubbles and starts to enjoy the bath. She gets to play for a good 20 minutes and then I start to wash her. She starts to winge as I wash her. You know.. that pretend cry that toddlers do. But she lets me do it. 

Then comes the hard part. Washing the hair. She HATES having her hair washed. 

Ive tried so many different ways of making it nicer for her. Firstly wetting her hair.. Ive got her toys and squirted the water on her head. Ive tried stroking her hair with a wet hand, with a cloth, sponge. Tried pouring over her head. Non of them work and she instantly starts to cry. I put the shampoo on which is always baby no tears brands and start to rub it in. She cries more and at this point she has started to stand up in the bath and tries to get out which is really dangerous as she keeps nearly slipping. 

So last time Lily had actually dived out the bath into my arms before the shampoo was washed out. What do I do? I need to wash the shampoo out? 
In the end last week my partner had to lean her over the bath and I had to really quickly get the shower and wash it out. All while she was screaming and wiggling in my partner arms. Its horrible. 

I have no idea the best way to wash the shampoo out without upsetting her now. Ive tried huge distractions with things up in the air to get her to put her head back but she is so clever and knows exactly what Im doing. 

We have started to do her baths in the morning now incase it was a tired thing but it hasn't changed anything. Also me and my partner both don't do bath time without each other there to help now. So we always have to find the right time. 

I really don't know what to do and admit that Its not something I ever imagined struggling with. 

Its bath time tomorrow morning and i'm dreading it. Does anyone have any ideas? Anyone been through this with their child?? 


Saturday, 18 March 2017

Lottie Dolls Review and Giveaway

I am so excited to be getting to write about one of the things I love the most. Dolls. I have been a huge fan of dolls since I was 15 years old and started collecting them. Now since having Lily my eyes have been opened to such a range of amazing dolls and one of these dolls is Lottie

Lottie is an 18 cm tall fashion doll that is based on characters that are 9 years old. She is an award winning doll that is age appropriate for young children and inspires them to be themselves and be an individual. She is created to challenge negative body image concerns, premature sexualisation and the demise of childhood and you can see this in the way she has been designed. 

Lottie has more than one character and each one is based on adventures that they all have in an imaginary place called Branksea, which is loosely based on a real life island called Brownsea Island in Dorset. The island is made up of history, woodlands and wildlife which is the perfect setting for Lottie to have her adventures. Also encouraging children to get out and about on their own adventures. 

Lottie sent me 3 dolls of my choice to review. I was really happy to be receiving some of these dolls for Lily (and myself). I love that she will grow up with these dolls and look upon them as positive role models. Lottie's motto is 'Be Bold, Be Brave, Be you' which is exactly how I would love Lily to be as she grows up. 

It took me a long while to be able to choose 3 dolls. Lottie has such an amazing selection of dolls, all with great outfits and great adventurous characters. Each doll promotes a child like activity wether it be ballet, science or even fossil hunting. It was really hard choosing which I liked the most as they all had such different and positive things about them. 

In the end I went with Forest Friend, Stargazer and Muddy Puddles. 



The thing I love the most about Lottie dolls is how natural and child like looking they are. No makeup, no high heels, no jewellery and beautiful natural hair. The perfect doll for a child to grow up with. They also have child like body's that are based on a realistic body of a 9 year old. I think in society now there is pressure on children to grow up a lot faster than they need to and so these dolls are designed to be relatable to them. This helps a child feel like its okay to still be a child, act like a child and dress like a child. They encourage children to be able to dress as they like and have their own interests and be themselves and enjoy their childhood. 

I just love the boxes that the Lottie Dolls come in. They look so nice with their bright colours which match the doll, their pictures that tell the story of the doll and the handle making the box something that a child can carry along with them. The ribbon on the front which hangs down as a medal shows the Lottie dolls to be a positive role model winner. Its a really nice touch to have on each box. 

So let me tell you a little about each of the dolls that we were sent. We had a really nice day last week and so I thought the most appropriate place to take the photographs of Lottie was in her favourite place. Outside. 

First up is Stargazer. Stargazer has a love of astronomy and you will find her looking through her telescope looking at the stars. She is all wrapped up in her warm clothing, finds the perfect spot, waits for it to get dark and is and ready to count the sparkling stars, see the planets and hopes to catch a glimpse of a shooting star. Stargazer comes with a telescope, Solar system collectors cards, and an additional sheet of notable women in astronomy. Her outfit is a lovely thick warm blue jacket, her red dungarees, her stripy tights, boots and you can add a hat and scarf. Stargazer is great for children who are developing an interest in science. 






Next up is Muddy Puddles. She just loves the great out doors and doesn't let the rain stop her. Dressed in her yellow welly boots and rain jacket she makes the most of the rain by squelching through the mud leaving her footprints behind. She finds it extra fun to find the muddiest puddle possible to jump up and down in and create a great splashing mess. You would find her by a stream where she would be throwing pebbles in the water. I just love her bright yellow and blue outfit. It really is the cutest and goes well with her glowing blonde hair. Muddy Puddles is most relatable to Lily out of the 3 dolls we were sent. One of her favourite things to do is throw stones into the stream. 






Last but not least is Forest Friend. She loves to read all about magical forest fairy's that live deep into the woods. As she adventures out into the great outdoors she imagines how she may discover a fairy door on a tree or meet a magical fairy that may make all her dreams come true. Spring and summer days are her favourite where she can lay back with the flowers and daydream of all the magic around her. She is a vision of natural beauty and is dressed in a green and lilac fairy inspired dress and gold little shoes. She also comes with a beautiful lilac hair band holding back her hair. Though unfortunately Lily has lost this before I could get chance to take photographs of it. Forest friend is one of my favourites of the Lottie Dolls, I really haven't seen a more beautiful doll. 






Lily really enjoys playing with Lottie. So far I have spotted her making them walk around, sit down and loves keeping all 3 of her dolls toggether like they have a lovely friendship between them. As Lily is only 2 she doesn't fully do imaginary play how an older girl may but she is loving having her some dolls to play with. 


Lottie is aimed at Children aged 3+ and prices start at £18.99. You can buy Lottie Dolls here on the Lottie Website, or head there to browse the wonderful range of dolls. Or head to Lottie's Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for news and photographs. 

Since 2012 Lottie has really taken off and you can now find her on sale in 30 different counties. You can find her in a lot of retail stores now including Debenhams, Ocado, Natural History Museum, and Jo Jo Maman Bébé.

You can also sign up to Club Lottie, where you can redeem 10% from your first order, get exclusive Club Lottie bundle offers, and get discounts. Also when you sign up you will be the first to hear about new Lottie products and great competitions. Whats not to love? Ive already signed up to be a member.

Talking of competitions. Why not enter the great competition that Lottie have let me run on the blog. We are offering 3 lucky winners one of the dolls each from above. First winner will get first choice of the 3 that I have reviewed. Enter now on the gleam app below for your chance to win.


Win 1 of 3 Lottie Dolls

Friday, 17 March 2017

The Potty Training Academy And My Carry Potty

Potty Training. The one thing that a lot of parents dread to start doing with their children. There are rumours that potty training can be really difficult and even some may have said an absolute nightmare. Well not for much longer. The Potty Training Academy are now here to help and for us it couldn't of come at a better time. 

Lily has recently started showing interest in using the toilet and potty's. She will always want to come to the bathroom with us, and will generally want to sit on the potty or toilet though usually with her nappy on. She has even tried wiping herself even though she still hasn't done anything on a potty since she was around 18 months old. 

Lily is now 28 months old and so Im feeling like it would be a good time to start to get her using the potty. Just like other parents I do feel a little daunted about the thought of potty training, especially because Lily did go from doing so well on it at 18 months to suddenly not wanting anything to do with it for a year. So when I got told by The Potty Training Academy that I would be getting sent one of their kits I felt relief to be getting some help with it all. 

As well as the potty training kit I was also getting sent a My Carry Potty which I knew Lily would love as it looks like either a ladybird or bumble bee. 

The kit arrived and was all packed up nicely in a little box and Lily got sent the ladybird potty, which has a great resemblance of Gaston from Ben and Holly which is currently one of Lily's favourite shows. So it was the perfect potty for Lily. The great thing about the carry potty to is that it has a little handle so they can carry it around with them. This is really great for independence and making them feel like its their own special potty. 




There are so many exciting things in the pack. 
  • The Potty Training Programme Guide
  • A DVD featuring George and Holly and their magical potty training adventure. 
  • A George and Holly Potty Training Story Book
  • An Im in Potty Training Badge 
  • A Reward Chart
  • Stickers
  • A Magic Reward Box
  • Huggies Voucher
  • Certificates 

I think everything that is included in the box is brilliant. We haven't been using Huggies but it was great to find out that The Potty Training Academy are in association with them and that they recommend wearing them as they have a layer which makes the child feel the wet of the pull up a little more than normal pull ups. The Potty Training Programme is really helpful, it gives lots of tips and also gives you advice on how to start the potty training. Also some great do's and don'ts. Also having it all written down means you can pass it onto family who may also help with potty training. Its great for us all to be able to follow the same ways. 

The DVD and book are both Brilliant. They introduce George and Holly and show their magical potty training adventure where they both get new potty's which they find out to be magical. The potty's are the same as the Carry Potty's and so the same ladybug one that Lily now has. This is great and helps Lily relate to the story and film. In the book and film it shows George and Holly both do really well using their potty's and it shows them getting a sticker and getting rewarded. 

The reward chart looks great to. The stickers are nice and colourful and I just know Lily is really going to enjoy sticking them on the chart. It has an area at the top that you can write the child's name on and then the days of the week where you can stick the stickers on when they do a wee on the potty. 




So Lily has started her Potty Training adventure this week. When she first watched the DVD she straight away after said Potty and sticker and went and sat on her potty. I encouraged her to have her nappy off and she was happy to sit on it with no nappy. A great start and so I gave her a sticker which she decided she wanted to stick on her leg. Haha its her reward so I guess she can stick it where ever she likes. 

Then the next morning Lily watched the DVD again, but this time she didn't want to sit on her potty after watching it. I didn't force her and thought we would try again later. 

Over all this week, we have watched the DVD about 5 times and read the book twice. Lily has been really on and off with the potty, sometimes really happy to sit on it and sometimes not at all and shouting NO IM NOT when I ask her if she is going to do a wee on the potty for a sticker. 

We have tried Huggies but there doesn't seem to be a change in behaviour with her nappies being wetter. Either she doesn't notice or doesn't care. 

So far she has sat on the potty around 6-7 times this week and I have only sat her on it when she is willing and excited to do so. There have been no wee's yet from her though. I'm really hoping that the first time she does one and gets rewarded and see's her wee in the potty that it may help her get the idea of what she is meant to be doing and she will want to wee in there again. 

In the meantime i'm really happy that she has at least sat on the potty a few times. She is really happy to wear her Im in Potty Training Badge and she also loves watching the DVD and reading the book. I will have an update at the end of the month to show how she is doing.