Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Books for Dad

This is a post is produced in partnership with Bookworld.

It's Father's Day in Australia next weekend. So with 10 days to go, for me it's a time to be scratching my head wondering what on earth to get my father, father-in-law and my children's father! Why are men so hard to buy for?

Bookworld is making life a little bit simpler for us to buy a gift for book loving Dads with their Father's Day Lists.

My Dad is not so much the book type. I can remember Dad bragging as we grew up that he got through school reading only one book, and although that one book (apparently it was about a dog) was a memorable book for him and a good read, it never inspired him to read any other novels. So, books are out as a gift for my Dad. Unfortunately he's very hard to buy for, and even more so now that he has given up drinking, (we don't know why), but it's very inconvenient because at least if we were stuck, we could always give him a good bottle of shiraz.

My father-in-law, on the other hand loves books. I think I could click on any of Bookworld's 12 Dad categories and find a book that he would enjoy from Cooking Dad, to Crime Dad to Aussie Dad. Alex's Dad reads every night, and whenever we are on holidays with him, he spends a fair bit of his holiday reading as well. Which is cool for me, because I normally end up with a nice pile of books that he leaves behind!

I thought that since Alex is the son of such an avid book lover, and is definitely more academic than my Dad, I would be able to get him books as gifts. For the first several years I carefully chose titles that I thought he would enjoy. He would occasionally read the books or flick through the pages, but he was never really enthralled. I was going to give up on giving him books, when one Christmas I gave him Richard Branson's autobiography, "Like a Virgin". We were away at the beach, and it was first time I had ever seen Alex absolutely engrossed in a book. From then on, buying books for Alex has been easy, I just needed to get the formula right! One book a year, two at the most and the book needs to be a biography or autobiography about a business man or woman. Alex's devours them. The only other thing I see him read is the tax manual. Which, you may be interested to know, is what The Accountant considers light bed time reading. He will often be telling me about some new tax ruling as we are settling down for the night. I shouldn't complain, it puts me to sleep at least!

In the lead up to Father's Day, Bookworld is giving away a wonderful Dad's book pack to Caitlin's Happy Heart Readers.  (The titles are great, I've already written down the novels on my list to give the Dad-in-law!)

The books are: Favourites Gary Mehigan; No Safe House Linwood Barclay; Operation Mayhem Steve Heaney MC; The Heist Daniel Silva.

If you would like to give Dad these great books, head over to Bookworld and check out the Dad's List here. Then come back and tell me, what type of Dad is the Dad(s) you would be buying for and why he/they fits that category.

The winner will be announced next Wednesday the 3rd of September at 8pm on Facebook and on this post. You must leave an email address. If I cannot contact you by Friday 5 Sept. at 9am I will choose a new winner. This is a game of skill, so make sure you insert some creativity into your answer. I would also love it if you "like" Caitlin's Happy Heart on Facebook, although this is optional.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lemon Drizzle Loaf

I do love baking with citrus and the zesty flavour of lemons is simply fresh and delicious when baking. Recently a friend posted a picture after she had picked lemons off her tree with her grandchildren.
homegrown lemons

(The little guy is Trent's mate - remember when they made Soft Playdough together?)  She asked if anyone wanted lemons, and I was happy to accept!

We had people coming over one night so I whipped up a double batch of this tasty Lemon Drizzle Loaf. By the time people were arriving it was still warm from the oven. The absolutely best way to eat baking. (When you don't have to ice it, anyway!) Mind you, the second loaf tasted wonderful as well and more then adequately serviced lunch boxes and made a yummy morning tea.

If you have some lemons to use, here is a recipe I can recommend.

Lemon Drizzle Loaf

175g Plain Flour
1 tbsp baking powder
175g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 egg yolk
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice

85g icing sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice

1. Preheat oven 180deg. Grease loaf tin.
2. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and yolk. Add sifted flour and baking powder and beat well until the mixture is smooth, then stir in the lemon rind and juice.
3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until well risen, firm and golden brown.
4. Remove from the tin from the oven and transfer to a are rack. For the syrup, place the icing sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and heat gently without boiling, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
5. Prick the top of the loaf several times with a skewer and spoon over the syrup. Leave to cool completely in the tin then turn out.

Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cake

Linking with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

How to Read a Bedtime Story When Mummy has a Cold - 3 Excellent Sing-A-Long Books.

Over the past week I have been feeling horribly ill. I started with tonsillitis and a huge infection in my thumb. I got antibiotics for that, but probably because my immune system was so compromised by the end of the week I picked up one of the dastardly flu viruses that is going around. I've been very miserable.

I had our In Home Carer around one day, fortunately on my worst day so I spent four hours sleeping. Grandma came and helped out another day. Luckily I have a wonderful husband who really helps out when this sort of thing happens, so often when he has arrived home, I've crawled back into bed and let him feed the kids, read stories and put them to bed.

Except on that day I was at my worst. Alex was out that evening. Thank goodness I had slept earlier. Dinner had been made, so we got through that. Teeth were brushed. And then the kids all lined up with books. I had no voice, yet I knew that refusing a story would be a break in routine which would result in a bedtime strike. Since there are no toddler unions to negotiate with, generally all propositions and countered by a mass toddler drop to the floor followed by flailing limbs, voracious crying, not matter how reasonably the proposition has been presented and also has the unfortunate knock on effect of making said toddlers even less likely to sleep.

In a stroke of brilliance I remembered that Scholastic had gifted me some excellent story/song books that also had audio recordings on CD's. The toddlers (and small humans) were appeased! All I had to do was hold the book up and turn the pages. Going the extra mile, I sometimes pointed dramatically to the words, pulled funny faces and moved to the music. (Just enough to ensure my aching head didn't topple off my shoulders.)

In the end it was a perfectly lovely story time, and the kids trotted happily off to bed once we were finished. I think I am going to leave a few stories aside so they aren't as familiar to the kids should an occasion like this arise again.

In case you would like to have your own stash of audible books that will be your larynx saviour if you ever fall victim to a cold or flu, here's some of my recommendations.

The Hokey Pokey

Kids Book - Hokey Pokey

This was a good one to start with, and my kids didn't get too hyped because they didn't feel like dancing anyway, but I think if they weren't tired the playful illustrations would encourage them to join in with the actions. (Generally my boys are the non-dancing breed of Aussie male.) It's the classic song with an Aussie twist as various Aussie animals do the Hokey Pokey. Sung by the ever captivating Colin Buchanan, (We are huge Colin fans in this household.), it is fun, toe tapping and makes you want to put your whole self in, because that's what it's all about.

I will not be putting this one aside, I can see us using it quite a bit, and it will be useful for playgroup as well. Kindy and early years school teachers, you will also get a lot of use out of it. Plus there is a instrumental recording at the end, so you can even use it as an item if you need to!

Juicy, Juicy Green Grass.
Music and story book

The triplets have been loving this CD and often have it in the background on repeat as they are doing craft. Sung by Peter Combe, the original 'King of Kids' in Australian children's music for over 20 years. (You know the song, "Wash Your Face in Orange Juice"? That's his. he even has 3 Arias, 7 Gold and 2 Platinum Albums. I'm now wondering why I didn't have anything of his in the house before now!)

There are four catchy tunes on the CD, Juicy Juicy Green Grass, (you'll keep singing it all day), The Silly Postman, Tadpole Blues and Red Says Stop. Danielle Mc Donald's quirky illustrations really bring the songs to life.

My Daddy Ate An Apple
My Daddy Ate An Apple Music and storybook

If you have boys, they will love this book. Quite simply because it has a gross ending. Daddy zebra ate an apple with a worm inside. The illustrations by Scott Tulloch are hilarious as we listen to the song describe Daddy feeling more and more worse for the wear and much is tried to make him better. In a spectacular explosion in full graphic detail Daddy pooped the fat worm out. You guessed it. The kids love that page!

Trent took the book to Kindy once and the teacher had to have a full discussion about bodily functions afterwards. I maybe should have thought that one through a bit more before I sent it in!
Sing-a-long story books for children
You can't say I didn't warn you!

The words and music are by Craig Smith of "Wonky Donkey" fame. (Another book you should consider getting.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How Does A Mother Plan to Go Away for a Conference?

You have the conference booked, accommodation sorted and transport arranged. What else does a mother need to plan in order to get away for a conference?

Next week I am going away to my first blogging conference. I cannot tell you how unbelievably excited I am. (Think a six year old on Christmas Eve. That type of excited.) It's a little bit ridiculous really. Because as a newbie I'm almost equal parts scared witless. (Think seven year old who is busting for the loo but too scared to ask the teacher. That type of scared.) I'm so very aware that there will be so many bloggers present with massive audiences, (Think grand stadium audiences hyped and waiting anxiously for every part of the performance), whereas my audience (thank you for reading), well, think small group snuggled by a fire in a living room chatting.

Anyway, gone are the days when I just pack a suitcase and slip out of town. Oh no, not when you are a mother, of five kids including two year old triplets no less. When we mothers leave town, (with or without kids) planning is required.

Here are some tips on how to plan that your household will continue to run as smoothly as possible without you. If you're interested, I've outlined in italics what I am personally doing so I can leave the house during ProBlogger. Feel free to skip the italics if you're in a hurry!

1. Organise Babysitter

  • Enlist help of friends or family members, or paid help such as a babysitter or a nanny temp.
  • Ensure there is someone with the children for all the necessary hours.
  • Organise any school/kindy/daycare etc. pick ups. or transport/supervision is arranged for extra-curricular activities. (eg. sports, dance class etc.)
I will be away for three days. Thankfully I have our In-Home Carer Stacey that we were able to re-schedule her normal hours so that she will be with the children from when Alex leaves for work until he gets home for the first two days. For a little while we thought that she would not be able to work then. I was then having to construct much more complicated plans in my head which involved conscripting Grandma and an Aunty to help as well as my husband taking a day off work. Thankfully, we didn't have to go down that path.  School drop offs and pick ups are already organised for those days also.

2. Leave the Pantry and Fridge Well Stocked
  • Enough bread and milk (or reminders if necessary of when it will need replacing if gone for a length of time.)
  • Food for snacks
  • Fruit
  • A menu plan for meals with pre-made meals or all ingredients purchased and easy to find. Don't forget to utilise take-away if that's going to make life easier for your family!
Thankfully, Stacey is familiar with our kitchen, so I will be able to leave the ingredients for her to prepare the first two evening meals and I won't need to make these meals in advance. On the Saturday evening I'm away, I'll leave Daddy make his speciality - pizza! The kids love it! If it's been a bit too hectic for him he has my full permission to serve the takeaway version!  To make it easier in the morning, I'll leave Jonty's school lunchbox packed and in the fridge. 

3.  Leave Clear Instructions and Prepare in for Outings 

  • Think about all the activities that you do that people may not know about and document them. Use dot points so information is easy to read at a glance. Write a paragraph under the point if more explanation is required.
  • Include a time line of the routine your child is used to if necessary.
  • Leave important contact numbers next to the phone. (eg. Doctor, neighbours, work numbers, you and your partner's mobile, an additional emergency contact etc.)
  • Think of any unusual event and leave instructions.
  • Talk through your expectations with your children before you leave. It will give them extra security and confidence also.
  • Leave out any letters from school, classes that apply during the time you are away.

Unfortunately Jonty has a special dress up day and performance at school on the Friday. I'm a bit gutted I'm going to missing this. We have his costume ready and I will leave clear instructions on what he needs to wear and I've already been discussing our plan with Jonty, so he will probably be reminding Daddy!  I've also organised to come in to watch the class during a practise of their item since I won't be there to see the real thing.

Another unfortunate thing is that soccer is a one hour drive away that week on the Saturday morning and begins at 9:00am! Poor Alex having to get all the kids in (and out) of the car by himself for that! Normally I would stay at home with the children rather than getting the triplets in the car that early. To help out with that, I'll pack the bag with spare clothes, snacks etc. All ready for him to grab on the way out the door. Alex isn't as worried about this as I am. He said it will only take ten minutes dress all the kids and go. I hope he amends his timing for that task by about 30 minutes!

4. Shopping for the Conference

  • Think about what new items you will need to buy for the conference. eg. clothing, stationary, technology.
  • Think about your long term uses for purchases, try not to spend too much money for just one occasion.
  • Organise a shopping to fit into your schedule. Leave enough time to complete comfortably! 

I was relieved to read Emily from Have A Laugh On Me when she said nobody really minds what you wear unless you're a style blogger. It took the pressure off a little, but I still want to look good! (And perhaps I'm a somewhat of a wannabe style blogger!) I've been sneaking time when I can to find a new outfit or accessory or two. Of course, now I'm finding what I want online and it's too late to get it from overseas, so I'm having to shop the old fashioned way! (Although I did find some good nautical jewellery on Etsy for the Ahoy! party on Saturday night.)  As always, shopping with kids is always done in small allotments of time, I've also been plagued with indecision, which doesn't work well with small allotments of time. On Sunday I was in town with a free half hour and went back to get something, and of course it was sold out. Just as well there was another one in a different colour, not first choice, but hey!

5. Packing

  • Leave enough time so that you won't be rushed and forget things. (If you are a last minute packer like I am, start earlier in the evening rather than later!)
  • Remember to pack all tickets and documentation, and cords for phones, laptops etc. Include equipment necessary for re-charging.
  • Pack at least one extra outfit to use in an case of emergency!

I suspect that because I'm so excited, I may even start packing earlier then my usual night before pack! However, I don't like to pack clothes too far in advance to minimise creasing. I certainly will open a suitcase soon and start throwing in things I don't really need and don't want to forget. Or put in post-it reminders of things I'm likely to forget!

6. Mental Preparation

  •  Beforehand go with a clear expectation of what you would like to achieve by the end of this conference. Have an action list if necessary if there are things you need to do to achieve your goals.
  • Arrange any meetings with people you would like to connect with.
  • Book restaurants (or day spa!) in advance if there is a likelihood that it will be busy.
  • Read blogs or other information that will give you an idea of what to expect.
  • Arrange a time to check-in and call home to check on the kids and get a mental plan if necessary on how not to worry about them. (Leaving a planned house should help with the knowledge that they are going to have a good time while you are away!)
  • Give yourself a pep talk on why you are worthy of attending the conference and hold your head high! Refuse to let negativity into your thinking.
Much earlier in the year I read my first blog post that made me start thinking about how I needed to prepare. There has been a few more I've read since then, if you haven't seen them. Check them out!

And then there are the posts that inspired me to go by my two local blogging buddies. Last year I was watching all the #pbevent hashtags wishing I was there after I knew these two were there. I then would tell myself I wasn't good enough to go to something like this for a couple of years, and then suddenly I just decided to get out of my comfort zone and booked it this year! It is a comfort that I'll be hanging with these gals though and they aren't newbies and know some people, so hopefully that will decrease some potentially awkward moments.

My biggest area that I have needed to prepare myself is the pep talk. I am very aware of my blogging inadequacies and my time constraints in making the improvements I require to keep moving forward. I need to tell myself that even baby steps forward are better then remaining stationary! Going to a conference is a lot more then a baby step for me.  It's an acknowledgement that I'm spending money and investing time into this thing to make it work! I'm determined that I'm going to do everything in my power to make this a really worthwhile experience! I owe that to my friends and family who will be covering for me, and I owe it to myself! I'm looking forward to learning as much as possible, embracing all the experiences, (I'm talking down my introvert anxiety about being around so many new people and going to a party!) and making connections with people that will be meaningful. Expect to see big things coming from Caitlin's Happy Heart in the future!

A Mother Prepares to go away for a Conference (ProBlogger)
My hubby and I stayed overnight at QT last year, which is where the ProBlogger conference and where I'll be staying. I'm so looking forward to being there again. It's the most 'fun' hotel I've ever stayed at!

Are you going to ProBlogger? Have you been in preparation mode yet?
How do you plan if you are leaving the family for a few nights?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Two Year Old Triplet's Routine

Two year olds like their routine. Triplet two year olds are no exception and for Mummy, routine and multiples can be quite the necessity. Routines and toddlers is can often result in more settled children because there is a comfort and security in them being able to predict what is happening in their little lives.

Since the triplets are 'the youngest', their lives also need to be flexible enough to fit in with the older boys routines. I am fortunate that because of In Home Care I am able to get somebody in to stay at home with the triplets when I am out and about running errands, helping out  or doing drop offs/pick ups at Kindy or school and doing soccer practises and swimming lessons.

So at the moment my 34 month old triplet's routine is:

7am - Their bedroom door remains shut until Mummy or Daddy comes in to say Good Morning. Beds are made and then they come out for breakfast.

8am - Say Goodbye to Daddy and Jonty.

Somewhere in between 8:00-9:30, depending on what day it is, the triplets get dressed. When we need to be out and about, getting dressed if often rushed and frantic and they need to be dressed before 8:30, even if we need to be out of the house by 9:00 it's very busy. (The worst is that they are all dressed and then we need to go shoe hunting? What is it with shoes going missing out and odd socks?) On days we don't need to be out of the house in the morning, (my favourite type of days!) We take it slowly and if the children are playing nicely, I don't rush the dressing process.

8:30-10:30 - On home days, the children will often play independently and very happily with one another in the morning while I get jobs done.

10:30 - Morning Tea

10:45 - 12:30 - Craft time and Outdoor Time.
Two Year Old Triplet routine includes craft. Painting is a favourite
Painting is a favourite craft activity.
Two Year Old Triplets Routine going to a park
Sometimes outdoor play will include a visit to a park.

12:30pm - Lunch

Two year old triplets routine at lunch
Lunchtime! Vegemite sandwiches are the most frequent demand request.
1:00 - Nap - if I'm lucky. The triplets are not having naps every day anymore. It's very sad and makes for a more exhausting day for all of us. If they don't nap, I try to do quieter activities like reading or puzzles. Although often they will elect to do puzzles during free play in the mornings. Puzzles are a big hit around here at the moment. Sometimes I still put them in their rooms and just let them play. They actually just have a really great time in there together, and if they aren't tired, there's no point pushing the issue, otherwise they won't sleep in the evening.

2:30 - Start waking. Do a quiet activity as they wake up. This is also a good time to do cooking with them if it's not a kindy Pick up day. If it's a day the triplet's need to come with me to the Kindy, (thankfully most of the time I have it covered) I may have to wake some toddlers up. Last week I had to wake three up out of a deep sleep. It was heart breaking.

3:15 - Jonty home from school. Afternoon Tea. Outdoor Play. Imogen has started only having a short play outside lately and comes inside and does a colouring-in. While they are happily playing I also supervise Jonty's piano practise and homework.
Two Year old triplets routine outdoor play
Eating afternoon tea defensively. They put their apples on their heads in between bites so the dog doesn't eat it!

4:30 - Bathtime. Because it's winter and the days start getting cold as the afternoon progresses, we have been bathing the triplets earlier. In the summer it's 5:00/5:30.
two year old triplet routines in the bath
Triplet bathtime!

5:00 - Tidy Up and Play as I get dinner ready. If I'm lucky. Some days they will pester me in the kitchen more then others! I try not to turn on the TV because Immy has established an addiction and absolutely melts down when it is turned off and refuses to eat dinner. However some days I just need to turn on ABC2 and cross my fingers when it's time to turn it off.

6:00 - Daddy arrives home from work. Is greeted enthusiastically. Unless the TV is turned on. Another good reason to not turn it on.

6:15/6:30 - Family dinner around the dining table.

7:00/7:30 - Take dishes to the sink, clean teeth and read stories before tucked in bedtime prayers are said.

Two Year Old Triplets Routine includes reading stories.
Almost ready for bed!

That's the rough plan for each day. A rigid plan would not work for me, and I also think that it is good for children to be adaptable enough to cope if there are differences in their day.

Part of our routine is Playgroup on Monday and Wednesday mornings. On Fridays we will often get out of the house with Trent (it's not his Kindy day on Friday) and go and visit great grandparents. The children are lucky enough to have two great grandparents in town and we normally alternate visiting Great Nana and Great Grandad. On the odd occasion we have travelled to a nearby country town where my grandfather is in a nursing home and visit their 3rd Great Papa. Some mornings we may do the Kindy drop off and I will go for a walk with the triplet's in a pram and then we end the journey with them spending an hour or so at a park, or we might travel into town and go to a park. I need to be very careful of the parks I choose to go with three toddlers to, but we have a few that they are now familiar with.

Two Year Old Triplets routine visiting great grandfather
Balancing on the bricks on their way to visit Great Grandad
Mummy's routine of course is to relax/collapse/drink wine once lights are out at 7:30. Fortunately they are fairly good at going straight to sleep. When they don't, I need to pray for extra grace and patience because by 8:00 I do not want to be dealing with kids!

What are regular routines in your house that make things tick smoothly? Do you have regular outings also?

Linking with

The Multitasking Mummy

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Style It Project - Mix Camo Pants

I haven't worn camo pants before, but what fun I had joining in the  Style It Project styling these comfortable and affordable pants from Coles Mix Apparel.  I thought I would play along with Kimba Likes and Rachel from Redcliffe Style, (whom I had the pleasure of meeting later in the evening after I had these photos taken). I have to say, the girls made a great choice with these pants. The skinny leg is very flattering. My local Coles didn't stock my size, so I've bought a size above, but in the pictures I look a size smaller then I really am! Which I can tell you I'm very happy about that illusion since that next size up was far too close to fitting me. I really do need to get a little more healthy with my eating, methinks. The jeans also are made from a stretch fabric. Very comfy. 

I've dressed the camo up and made it more feminine and dressy by pairing them with my op shop jacket that I bought when I went op shopping with my friend Belinda from B Being Cool. B really has a good eye for sniffing out a designer brand and a good bargain. My brown leather heels and pearl earrings also finished off the look and confirmed that I wasn't in combat.

Styling skinny camo jeans with a jacket

Take the jacket off and the simple white shirt is a great casual look.

Styling skinny camo jeans and white shirt.

Later that evening Belinda and our friend Tonya from The Crafty Mummy travelled to Brisbane for Nikki Parkinson from Styling You launch of her book Unlock Your Style. It was lovely having a girls night out, which included not only the launch but Vietnamese afterwards and lots and lots of talking on the drive to and from the big smoke. I've flicked through the (signed of course!) copy and can't wait to find some time to read it. It has a workbook format, so I suspect there may be blog posts ahead as I'm inspired and further unlock my style!

Unlock Your Style Book Launch

Thanks for doing the Style It Project Kimba and Rachel. It's fun! I would have loved to join in last month, wearing black long sleeve shirts are one of my faves, but I just couldn't find the time to go to Bonds and buy one sniff, sniff. If anyone wants to check out the first time I joined in click to see my Spotty Chambray Shirt.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sweet Elephant Review - Eye Spy and Mother's Corn Bubbles

I have recently discovered a very sweet children's store online called Sweet Elephants. Over the weekend my children have had lots of fun playing with two products from Sweet Elephants. The Mother's Corn Bubbles and an Eye Spy pack that we were sent for us to review. I am delighted to share about these products with you since my kids have really loved using them.

Eye Spy

Do you love it when your child is sitting still and deeply engrossed in a screen free activity? I certainly do, which is why I have immediately become a big fan of this toy.  (I have to say, I have been far more impressed by these little bags than I thought I would be.)

When we received our parcel from Sweet Elephants the Eye Spy Bag was wrapped up in brown paper and string. (How quaint!) The triplets loved opening 'the present', even if there was a little anxiety when one of the others had their turn as each waited anxiously to open it.

Package from Sweet Elephants

They were instantly captivated by holding the bag full of beads and searching for the little surprises that would appear in front of the clear panel.

It is actually a great manipulative for their age group, and they really had to concentrate, think, problem solve and use fine motor skills to work out how to get new objects to appear in the window.

I also had peace of mind that the triple stitching was safe and the little 'beanbags' wouldn't escape.

Because it is a quiet activity, it's a great tool to have for trips in the car and is also easy to throw in the handbag for periods when children need to be quiet like in waiting rooms or shopping. It also has the extra benefit of no meltdown when you take it off them, (unlike electronic games, iPads and phones)!On the weekend, I took it with me when we went to church. My 7 year old niece particularly loved it. She had never seen it before and picked it up. Because of the handy tag clipped onto the bag, she immediately knew she had to search for the things listed on the tag and she studiously became engrossed in making sure she found everything.

Eye Spy Bag is good for playing with during church

We went out to a restaurant afterwards and once again the eye spy bag became handy to give to children to keep them occupied. Mind you, it's not necessarily a quiet activity if you have a two year old enthusiastically calling out the names of the objects he sees! Great for language development though! When the kids were finished with the bag, it was actually passed around the table and all the adults had a play! Even the men! One man commented that he would like to play with it in church, but commented that he would have to sit down the back so the pastor couldn't see!

Eye Spy Bag at a restaurant with kids
Some iPhone snaps my sister took yesterday as the kids were playing. Can you see how interested Toby is as Jayden discovers the hidden objects?
I'm definitely thinking of getting another one or two for my children, the only hesitation I have is that some of the things inside the various bags overlap, so there won't be as much interest for them when they swap bags.  I think it will be an excellent stocking stuffer and maybe even getting some to put away for gifts for others. I think I might buy some to put away for gifts also. They are a great first birthday present or gift for a toddler.  I think the Mummy will be very grateful for this gift as well as the child!  Older children like it as well, but I don't think I'd give it as a present. Just have it available for them to use at the right time. My sister commented yesterday that she thought it would be a great product to have as a calming activity for ASD children or children that might be tense.

Mother's Corn Bubbles

Bubbles are always fun for children. We also reviewed Mother's Corn Stackable Bubbles.

Wow, these are really bubbles with a difference! You blow them and when the glistening rainbow colour starts to fade into a pearly white, you can catch the bubbles in your hand!

It actually makes the bubbles ideal for older and younger age groups. We didn't get any nice photos catching the bubbles in our hand, it was all a bit fast paced with the triplets around! I will definitely get these out again when the older necies and nephews are around, I think they will all love playing with them.  It was funny that a host of bubbles got trapped in the trampoline net like bugs on a windshield!

We also found that the white bubbles would rest on the grass, get caught and be suspended in silvery spider webs and delicately sit on the branches of trees or on bushes of flowers.

The bubble blower is exceptionally well designed with a tray included and a place to stand the blower when not in use. The blower was easy for children to use and they couldn't backwash into the pipe. It was also comforting to know that they are safe and eco friendly.

The blower great design also meant that when the children blew through it, there was an enormous supply a bubbles that they blew! There were a few squabbles over whose turn it was. Quite understandable really, because normally the children are too little to be able to blow bubbles properly, but with this product they were making hundreds of bubbles!

Mostly the children blew small bubbles.  Jonty started to learn that the more slowly you blew, the bigger the bubble would be.

We played with the bubbles on Saturday afternoon

and also Sunday afternoon. Daddy was giving rides on the motorbike, so the children were happy to blow and catch bubbles as they waited for their turn.

For those who saw my Facebook post during the week about The Accountant's pride and joy, please note new tyres.

Learning how to get my camera off auto and onto manual is a goal of mine, just as so as I can find the time to learn! Photographing bubbles, even on auto was a lot of fun! When I do learn, I can't wait to have a play photographing bubbles. I think there is a lot of room for creativity with bubbles and cameras. Mother's Corn Bubbles are actually a really good choice for photographing bubbles also because the bubbles last longer than ordinary bubbles. I think I will recommend them to my sister to use at her wedding in a few months time.  The refill prices were quite reasonable also.

This is not a sponsored post, Sweet Elephants gave us these two products to review. Of course I was more then happy to do so after my children so obviously enjoyed them so much. They get a big thumbs up from us all!

As a special bonus for Caitlin's Happy Heart readers, you will receive a 10% discount if you buy an Eye Spy Bag or Mother's Corn Stackable Bubbles at Sweet Elephants if you enter the code iheart10 at the checkout.

We are linking with Eva today at Multi-Tasking Mummy

The Multitasking Mummy

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