Fisher-Price Puppy’s Learning Home Review

Fisher-Price Puppy's Learning Home

Fisher-Price seem to know exactly what kids want out of toys and the Puppy’s Learning Home is no exception. Jasmin was lucky enough to be sent this for a review recently, and since the day it arrived, she has been completely in love with it.

Here’s a little look at her playing with it:

I think one of the reasons why the Puppy’s Learning Home is such a hit is because it has so much on it to occupy little ones. All of the activities are also ones which children will get more out of as they grow.

The front of the house has a large front door for little ones to open and close and crawl through. Jasmin adores opening the door and bops along to the tune that plays as it opens and closes. There are two little windows which she peers through, and she finds it hilarious to see me or Milin on the other side. A shape-sorter under the windows has a star, circle, square and triangle for posting. She hasn’t figured out how to get these into the correct slots yet, but she does like throwing the shapes through the windows.

Fisher-Price Puppy's Learning Home

To the side of the door is a letter box which can be opened to reveal three ‘letters’. Opening and closing this and taking out the letters is probably Jasmin’s favourite activity at the moment. Again, the movement of the letterbox activates a little song. There is also a doorbell which she loves pressing and a little lantern which turns on.

On the other side of the door is a flower with spinning petals (hours of fun) and a gutter which acts as a ball chute. A little key to put in the lock is also included. There are numbers at the top of the house, along with an alphabet banner on the roof and a rotating disc which provides a picture of either night or day. The reverse side provides just as much fun, with a radio playing a choice of four songs perhaps the highlight.

Fisher-Price Puppy's Learning Home

Jasmin really can sit at this toy for ages. She loves exploring it and is getting more and more out of it as she grows. I think the fact that it is quite big is also a drawcard – it looks exciting just because of its size. Despite that though, the house doesn’t take up a prohibitive amount of space. Because it goes up, it isn’t too bulky on the floor. It is long, yes, but not too wide – and it is well worth the space  it takes up in our playroom. When Jasmin has playdates it is also a great toy to bring out. She sits on one side of the door while her bestie sits on the other side – and they have hours of fun just pushing the door to each other and grinning through the windows.

I would highly recommend this, probably for any age from about six months up. Milin, who is now two and a half, isn’t interested in it, so I’d say you would get two really good years of play out of it. Once again, a hit from Fisher-Price which is well made, straight-forward to assemble, and provides hours of stimulating entertainment.

*We were sent the Fisher-Price Puppy’s Learning home to review. All words, images, video and opinions are my own.


How to be a mum

1. Accept that you will answer the ‘why?’ question 1700 times every day for all eternity.

2. Standing on Lego hurts. Every time. But don’t expect sympathy – you’ve got your toddler’s imaginary ailments to cure.

3. There is no logic like toddler logic. Just nod your head.

4. Just when you think you’ve got bedtime and naptime sorted, prepare yourself for pre-sleep shenanigans which will test your patience to its limits.

5. It doesn’t matter how good your cooking is. Your children will make you believe it’s rubbish.

6. Your life will be accompanied by a new soundtrack. Your child will take their pick from Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse, Peppa Pig or Postman Pat. You will still hear the words when you go to bed at night.

7. Don’t go out drinking. If you fail at this rule, your children will wake you up at 5am the next day. They might have even been sick in their bed for you.

8. Learn how to fit all the snacks your children love, and those that they hate and never ask for, into your bag. You will come to know the power of snacks. A good one will buy you time and peace at the doctor’s surgery. A bad one will results in public tantrums.

9. Never take a good night’s sleep for granted. Never be tempted to be productive when the kids have a miraculously early night. JUST GO TO SLEEP.

10. Your kitchen floor will never be crumb-free again and your shoulders will never be drool-free either. You will also always think you can smell wee or poo or sick, but you’ll never be completely sure where it is coming from.

I want my children to fail



SmarTrike review

For the last two months Jasmin has been the envy of all her friends at the park. She has been riding around in her SmarTrike Boutique which we were very kindly sent to review when she was ten months old. To say that it’s a hit would be an understatement. Jasmin adores it – and so does two-and-a-half-year-old Milin.


The Smart Trike is suitable for children aged between 10 months and three plus years. There are four stages of riding it and by making minor adjustments to it, your little ones grow with it and go from being pushed around to using it independently.

When the SmarTrike arrived I couldn’t wait to get it out of the box and assembled. I would usually wait for the children to be in bed before trying something like this, and I often wait for Tony to get home because I’m not the most practical person. I was too impatient with the SmarTrike though and as Milin was at nursery, I set about putting it together while Jasmin played with her toys.

She was fascinated by seeing this flat-packed present take shape – and I was amazed that it took me only 30 minutes. And I did it on my own! As soon as it was ready, I sat Jasmin in the seat. She immediately gave me the biggest smile ever – and she stayed smiling for her entire ride.

For our first test drive, I took Jasmin on about a 15 minute walk through our local park. She loved every minute. I had been a bit worried about whether she would be comfortable enough and how the SmarTrike would handle – but I needn’t have had any concerns.

In its first stage, for children from 10 months, parents have complete control with touch steering from the handlebar. The SmarTrike is so easy to push and to steer. There is extra back support and the chair is nicely padded. Foot rests help Jasmin sit up well and feel comfortable.

The makers of SmarTrike have thought of everything. A little mobile phone is attached to the handle bars. Jasmin is a bit obsessed with this and can quite happily chat away on it for the entire duration of a walk through the park. There is a water bottle holder in front of the phone and behind the seat there is a big carrier/bucket where little ones can store all of their important belongings (Milin’s comforter, some Lego, some crackers.) For me, there’s a big shopper bag that attaches onto the steering bar, and there’s also a smaller pocket for keys and a phone and purse right up by the handle bar.


My only problem with the SmarTrike is that two-year-old Milin loves it too. He climbs in on his own and there have been more than a couple of tantrums where he and Jasmin fights to have a ride.

From 18 months you can take the back support and extra padding off the trike, letting your little one sit up unaided. Then from 24 months, the footrest can be folded in so your child can learn to use the pedals.It’s possible to neutralise the pedals so your little one is pedalling without steering. When they get closer to three, you can remove all the extra bits for your little one to ride a classic trike. Milin can ride the trike in this way, and quickly (at two-and-a-half) got the hang of steering. Being able to switch so easily from parent-steering to child-steering is definitely a bonus- for me it means Jasmin and Milin can switch as riders with little fuss. Milin can steer and pedal, while Jasmin can be pushed around.

The SmarTrike has almost replaced our buggy this summer. It has a sunshade which provides lots of sun protection for Jasmin, (although it isn’t designed to keep baby dry in the rain.) It won’t fold up  to fit in my little car like a traditional buggy, but that doesn’t bother us either. Once the SmarTrike is being used as a traditional trike, it will easily fit in.

I can’t recommend the SmarTrike highly enough. It is quick to assemble, easy to steer, the kids love it, and it is a high quality product which is sturdy and robust. I love that it changes so completely to suit the age and ability of your little one – it really is a toy that will last for years.

We have constant comments from people at the park about our SmarTrike, probably because Jasmin rides around in it looking so happy about the world!


Family Fever

*We were sent the SmarTrike to review but all images and words and opinions are my own.

Happy Birthday Prince George

It is a year since the world went a little bit crazy about the birth of a baby. For a whole day, we watched a live feed of a hospital door on our tv screens. We were finally, around dinner time, told the news. A baby boy, both mother and baby are well. I hastily updated my copy, I had half an hour before deadline, and I pressed send on the only story anyone was talking about.

But all I was thinking about was my own baby. I was booked in for an elective c-section a few days later. I would meet my daughter so soon. It was hot, I was so pregnant and uncomfortable and sore, I was scared and nervous and excited and worried and happy. I re-packed my hospital bag.

How many nappies should I take? Did I have enough knickers? Would my baby need a hat in this unbearable heat?

I worried for my son. My 18-month-old Milin who had no idea of how his world was going to change.

For my daughter, I wished good health. I worried too, of course, because I always do and always will.

Before I met Jasmin, I promised her I would always do my best for her. I promised to put her and her brother’s needs first. A year later, I wonder, have I been good enough to my word? Have I strived to be better, for them? Have I pushed myself further, for them? Have I made decisions they would be proud of? Have I been someone they will one day feel proud of and be inspired by?

My children, in one year, have made me even more determined to keep these promises. They have changed everything, helped me make sense of things, and put the world into perspective.

When the world looks back, today, on Prince George’s first year, it will see photos of a beautiful boy, crawling on a Royal Tour down under, marvelling at a butterfly, standing unsteadily on the edge of a sporting ground… I will see the promises I made to my children, I will see our achievements of this year, and I will see our hopes and dreams for next year. One year can pass incredibly quickly, yes, but life can also change so much in that time.


Baby’s first…. Milestones to forget

All parents remember the good milestones – the first laugh, the first word, the first steps – but there’s also a long list of other firsts that aren’t so adorable. Here are some that I suspect I’m not alone in wanting to forget.

1. The first time your baby is sick in their carseat. Three hours of scrubbing later, you are wondering why you didn’t buy a model which had a removable, machine-washable cover.

2. The first time your baby does a poo while they’re in the exersaucer/bouncer/walker. This exponentially increases the explosion factor of poo-mageddon. Letting it happen is a mistake you only make once.

3. The first time you give your baby Calpol. You’ve probably spent hours on Dr Google and  you’ve asked your Facebook friends whether you should do it – but you can’t get over the guilt that you are giving your little one drugs. Once you see the magic they work though, you forget about feeling bad pretty quickly. You wonder why, in fact, you didn’t open the Calpol earlier.

4. The first time you leave your baby with someone else and you go out for dinner/drinks/shopping/a manicure. You spend the first half hour feeling guilty, missing them madly, and checking your phone. Then you realise they’ll cope, and it’s bloody brilliant not having a small person on your hip. You order yourself another (bottle of) wine and accidentally turn your phone on silent.

5. The first time you go out carrying a handbag and wearing high heels (this is often experienced at the same time as milestone #4). Remember what it feels like to carry a clutch which just holds your lipstick, keys, purse and phone? And remember what it feels like to walk in heels without having to push a double buggy and run after a toddler at the park? One day you will be able to do this again. I promise. (And it’s bloody brilliant.)

6. The first time your child injures another child. It will happen. It was an accident. It wasn’t your fault and they didn’t mean it.

7. The first time you feed your child their dinner in front of the iPad / the Peppa Pig channel. All your lofty ideals about screen-free parenting vanish in a moment. Your child ate their meal without uttering a sound. The TV/iPad is magic, and your new babysitter. This is closely related to the first time you give your child chocolate spread on toast for dinner. Sometimes you just have one of those days.

8. The first public tantrum. Try and erase this from your memory or it will haunt you forever. The sudden, irreversible switch to tantrum mode, the throwing of their body to the floor, the high pitched scream, the rigid arms and thrashing legs. Erase, erase, erase.

9. The first time you lie to your child. (The music being made by the ice cream van signals that all the ice cream is finished. There are fairies at the bottom of your boiled egg, and if you eat it all up and tap on the shell, you’ll set them free. The iPad is broken. The swimming pool is closed because all the children are having naps …. etc etc) Once you start, you realise how a little deception can make your life that little bit easier.

10. The first time they tell you to go away. Because none of us like to see our babies growing up. Even though we know they have to, even though we know it is all just a phase, and even though we know they still love us really – this one hurts the most.

Firsts you'd rather forget

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Lollibop and Thomas and Friends giveaway

One of the most exciting events on the calendar for children this summer has to be the LolliBop Festival at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire. The line-up includes Thomas & Friends, Disney on Ice, CBeebies favourites such as Justin Fletcher, Andy Day and Mr Maker – and much, more more. It is set to be a festival featuring entertainment, activities and workshops for all little ones - no matter what they are into.

I’m really excited to be giving away one family pass to celebrate that this is the first year Thomas & Friends will be at the festival. The bespoke Thomas & Friends area will be filled with fun activities and games for the kids to play and experience the adventurous world of Thomas. Its full steam ahead for fun!

The interactive themed play zone, the ‘Sodor Summer Fete’ has been designed to allow the whole family to experience the world of Thomas.

Families are invited to roll up and take photos with their favourite blue engine, get creative at the colouring and games stations and meet The Fat Controller. Packed with fun-filled activities and games for your little engineers to enjoy, as well as special guest appearances, there will be heaps of happenings for children to enjoy.

Now going into its fifth year, LolliBop is the UK’s biggest ever festival for kids. It’s designed for mini festival goers, providing the best summer’s day out for under 10s and their families. It is the  perfect place to introduce your little ones to all the thrills of a festival vibe but without the hassle of long car journeys and camping. All the entertainment is aimed at children under 10 and their families. As well as a programme of live acts and shows, the event is focused on interactive play.

There is everything on offer from live music, theatre, walk-about performance, sport, literacy, interactive demos, workshops, dance lessons, circus skills, cooking classes and more.

Whether you use your winning tickets as a special birthday outing, weekend surprise or school holiday treat, a trip to LolliBop is certain to be a hit this summer. It’s been described as Glastonbury for kids… you get the idea!

To enter, just leave a comment below saying why you would like to win. Good luck!

Terms & Conditions

The competition closes on August 1 at 10am. There is one family pass to give away. Each pass admits 4 people, 1 person in the group must be aged over 18. Children under 12 months do not require a ticket. The winning family can attend on the day of their choice (August 15 or August 16 or August 17). Date must be specified at time of confirming the prize. Travel and accommodation are not included. The prize is non-refundable and no cash alternative will be offered
. The prize is non transferable and ID will be required at time of collecting wristband upon arrival. The prize includes all events and activities at LolliBop but not food and drink from any concessions. (Listed on Loquax).

This is motherhood

It’s the little things that get me.

The crumbs of toast which seem to be forever smeared around the shoulders of my Tshirts.

The constant game of trying to cram toys into boxes which are too small for our too many plastic belongings.

The folding and putting away of tiny items of laundry, every single day.

The throwing away of meals which I’ve dutifully followed recipes for and filled the freezer with – but neither child will eat them.

The constant repetition of the same instructions to a toddler who still won’t put his shoes on or pull his trousers up or put his toys away in boxes which are too small.

The biscuit crumbs which are  being trodden into the carpet.

The folding of the buggy and lifting it into the boot, the lifting of two small children into their car seats. Getting the buggy and the children out. Again. Strapping them in, unstrapping them, negotiating the buckles while fighting the wriggles. Again.

The endlessly cheery jingles on Cbeebies and the theme tune to Topsy and Tim which we watch on the iPad at least three times every day.

It’s the little things that get me. And it’s also the feelings that don’t go away.

There is the guilt that I don’t spend enough time just having fun with either of them.

There is the soul-destroying fear that I’ve let them down and am not good enough.

There is the worry that I’m making this up as I go along, but I’m getting it all wrong.

It’s the little things that get me.

It’s that I can’t go to playgroups anymore because I don’t want to make small talk about weaning.

It’s the stranger in the supermarket who tells me a story about how old their child was when they learnt to crawl.

It’s the exhaustion of holding the pieces together all day. It’s the fatigue that comes with letting go of the smile when they’re finally asleep. It’s the tiredness that grows out of not letting the cracks show.

It’s the little things that get me.

We all have them, don’t we?

The little things that make us want to hide in bed for a month. The little things that make us want to throw the half-eaten bowl of porridge across the kitchen and at the wall.

I don’t think there will ever be a way to stop the little things from getting me.

All I can do is try to wrap myself up in the big things more often. What are these? These are that we are all healthy. We are happy most of the time. We have each other. Always.

Sometimes it feels like the cracks are growing across the surface of our lives, creeping slowly into the foundations and threatening to force a crumbling. Sometimes it feels like I don’t have a firm hold on all the pieces and if I lose my focus, they’ll fall apart. Sometimes I feel like I don’t want to wear the smile anymore.

And then the children laugh, or they smile, or they stretch their arms out to be held, or they do something new, or something that only they can do. Then someone tells me something that reminds me the little things get to us all. We can do this together if we want to. With other mothers, fathers, friends, lovers – we needn’t do it alone.

This is motherhood. The standing on Lego, the throwing rejected home-cooked meals in the bin, the constantly scrubbing the carpet of baby sick, the utter exhaustion, the realisation of what is important after all and the knowing you really wouldn’t want anything else. Yes, the little things get to me. That’s life. They’re only little things. The big things are the ones that are important. To them, I’m trying to hold on tight.

The woman in the mirror

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When did my children get so big?

Every now and then I look at my children in awe of how much they have grown. They seem to have moments when suddenly they look a little more grown up than they did yesterday, or they seem a little taller or mature. I don’t always catch the moment at the time. Sometimes I look back at a week’s photos and find myself thinking how much older they suddenly look.

A snapshot I grabbed quickly on my phone this week stopped me in my tracks when I went back through my photos to delete some. We’d been on an incredibly mundane trip to the supermarket one afternoon to get some bits and pieces. Milin and Jasmin were being so good and so sweet together that I tried to catch a shot of them. I didn’t get anything particularly nice. I tried a couple of times but gave up after realising neither wanted to pose or look at me for a photo, and quite soon the staff and other shoppers would think I was mad. When I looked back through the blurry shots, this was one I just couldn’t delete. I looked at it in wonder. When did these two babies of mine suddenly grow up?

Supermarket shoppingMilin had a box of raisins in one hand while Jasmin was concentrating on a gingerbread biscuit. They were both also taking turns on sticking their fingers through an oval-shaped slot in the trolley. It was just another every-day afternoon, but when I looked at that photo, I suddenly realised how much they have left their baby days behind.

They played together and laughed together all the way around the supermarket. Jasmin is nearly one and Milin is two and a half. They are finally entertaining each other in a way that everyone told me siblings close in age will do. It’s truly lovely to watch.

I remember writing a post not so long ago about finally making it out to the supermarket with both of them for the first time, and I wrote about how it made me feel like things were getting easier. Well, looking at this photo makes me realise how much easier still life has got since then. Getting out of the house with Milin and Jasmin can still feel impossible on some days. But mostly, it’s something I no longer worry about. Taking them to the supermarket is a joy, even, because they both love the outing and find it such an adventure.

I still keep looking at this photo though in amazement. My babies have grown up.

ordinary moments