My BritMums Live 2014 Introduction

17.04.14

This year I’m attending Britmums Live for the first time courtesy of The Toadstool. I am really looking forward to it but also extremely nervous as this is so far out of my comfort zone.

I am really excited to meet people I ‘know’ through blogging, it’s strange to feel like these people are friends even though we’ve never actually met.

I will warn everyone now though that I am useless with names and have a tendency to blush so hard you may be worried I’m about to spontaneously combust! I promise I’m not about to burst into flames when we’re chatting and if I forget your name I am incredibly sorry.

So without further ado, here is my introductory meme complete with photo (I’m the one on the right!)

Name: Em (short for Emma)

It's me

Blog: snowingindoors

Twitter ID: @snowingindoors

Height: 5ft 5ish

Hair: Dark brown and very short with grey silver highlights courtesy of the kiddos

Eyes: Brown and hidden behind glasses or a camera!

Is this your first blogging conference?: My first overnight one yes, and I’m all kinds of nervous / excited

Are you attending both days?: Yep :)

What are you most looking forward to at BritMums Live 2014?: Meeting people I’ve ‘met’ through blogging, learning new things and hearing Emma Freud talk

What are you wearing?: Comfy clothes – Marvel superhero Vans, jeans and t-shirt probably but, if it’s hot, I may bust out a pair of shorts and free the legs

What do you hope to gain from BritMums Live 2014?: Building friendships and learning more about blogging, I’ve been doing it for years but never really believed people read it until the last 12 months!

Do you have any tips to pass on to others who may not have been before?: As it’s my first year I have no idea what to expect myself, I guess, just remember that the majority of people will be nervous so relax and have fun.

If you’re going let me know in the comments so we can say hi.


Posted in category: general life

A Garden Collection

16.04.14

Last weekend we got out into the garden. It was still looking a bit wild and overgrown from the winter but it was fab just being outside in the sunshine, running around blowing off steam.

Yes the fence is down between us and next door still, the grass needs cutting and the edges trimming, the garden toys need a good clean and the woodchips need rearranging so there’s no bare patches but it was perfect.

Outside with my 3 favourite people in the fresh air – perfection.

Have you started cleaning up your garden after winter, which is your least favourite job? For me it’s got to be edging the lawn!

 


Posted in category: general life

Twig Construction Set Review

14.04.14

We are big fans of building blocks and construction toys in our house so we were all very happy when we were lent the Twig Construction toy.

In the box you get 72 wooden building blocks in a range of sizes and unusual shapes and a drawstring cotton bag to store them in. When I saw the storage bag I was already sold, any toy that provides it’s own storage solution is a winner in my book!

I first saw this set on a blog about Montessori teaching a couple of years ago. Montessori materials are simple, encourage hands on learning and exploration, also they tend to be beautiful to look at too. I thought at the time that these looked awesome but couldn’t find them on sale in the UK, but now The Toadstool stock them and and this can only be good.

The Twig Construction set has received loads of awards and you can see why. The unusual shapes invite children to investigate the ways that the pieces will fit together, perfect for open ended play. The wood for the set is made from renewably sourced wood and precision cut so it fits together smoothly.

It’s perfect for helping with fine motor skills, develop skills in problem solving, logical thinking, creativity and language as well as cooperative and independant play.

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The kids were intrigued by the Twig Construction set as soon as they saw the box. They were desperate to open it and when they saw the blocks inside their excitement level grew.

They pulled out bits and set to exploring the shape and feel of them, then it was onto the business of building, creating and stacking. The good thing about construction toys for us is that they encourage 2 year old Ez and nearly 5 year old Annie to work together. Annie likes to help her little brother when he gets ‘stuck’ and show him how to improve upon a build of his that didn’t work. Ez enjoys picking out materials for Annie to use in her construction and trying to help with the building.

The shapes encouraged building techniques that they’d not tried before and it was nice to see Annie build something other than ‘castles for a pretty princess’! She even managed to build a robot from a picture she saw on the brochure, though she added long ears and turned it into an awesome robo-bunny.

Thanks to the massive number of bits the kiddos could play independently when they got tired of helping each other, there was no squabbling over anything because there was so many to choose from.

The big cubes encouraged Annie to try building things that weren’t all right angles. She liked to rest smaller blocks inside them on an angle and this way created some amazing creations that looked unlike anything she’s built before.

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The Twig Construction Set is a perfect slow toy, it ticks each of the eight criteria and its ecologically sound and gorgeous to look at. My two loved it and have played with it daily, I know I’m going to have to box it up when they’re in bed when it comes time to send this back because it’s instantly become a favourite toy.

This is priced higher than regular building blocks but it’s understandable because it offers so much more than regular building blocks. The kids can play with regular blocks for ages, but they spent even more time with the Twig blocks and brought them out more often to play with.

As a photographer I loved the unusual shape of the blocks and how they allowed light through and into the structures. The creations looked so much more eye catching than our normal builds thanks to the light, colours and shapes. As a Mum I loved the cotton carry bag, it showed real forethought for how the toy would be stored and having a bag near where you’re playing makes it less likely that bits will get lost on the way back to where they toy ‘lives’.

Disclaimer: Please note we received nothing in return for this review, we borrowed the toy and wanted to share how awesome it was. The post however does contain affiliate links.


Posted in category: The Toadstool

Dado Cubes Review

11.04.14

Dado Cubes are a fantastic mix of stacking toy and building block. We were sent a pack in the post last week from The Toadstool and the kids couldn’t wait to open up the box and get testing them.

The set contains 10 plastic cubes all nested inside each other with a slit in each of the four ‘top’ edges. These allow you to interlock them with the other cubes and create awesome 3D structures.

The Dado Cubes come in a rainbow colour scheme and are gorgeous to look at without being blindingly bright, like children’s toys often can be. They’re made of a nice sturdy plastic which stands up well to ‘enthusiastic’ building by the kiddos, but doesn’t look tacky or cheap.

I love that there are no rules or instructions it’s all down to your child’s imagination. The kids got the cubes out, explored the shape and slits and then 4 year old Annie worked out how to slot them together. She then taught her 2 year old brother and the pair of them started experimenting with building castles.

The problems solving element came into play when they realised they couldn’t really place a larger cube onto a smaller one, and when one side got too heavy and threatened to tip their creation. Annie worked out that she needed to even up the balance and after repositioning one of the cubes, balance was restored.

When they played with the Dado Cubes individually different styles of play emerged. Annie enjoyed building castles and working to make an equally balanced structure whereas Ezra liked to stack the cubes into a tower on their sides and hide them all away, one inside the other. Ez also used them alongside other toys, like his little action figures for them to hide in and behind.

I have also been using them to help Ezra with his colours and sizes, asking, ‘can you show me the big red cube?’ or ‘which of these cubes is smallest?’.

I’m a big fan of toys that are great fun for the kids to play with and that also look good on the shelf. The Dado Cubes certainly fit in this category, they look lovely all nestled up inside each other but also look fab when made into a ‘castle’, almost like a bit of modern art on our coffee table.

The other factor that I look for in toys is does it have Em parent appeal, is it the sort of toy I would find myself playing with long after the kids have left the room? Again, yes, there is something very satisfying about slotting the cubes together and seeing what you can come up with, trying to build a balanced structure that looks precarious but is so well balanced that it sits firmly.

This toy definitely appeals to the kids (4 and 2) and me (30 something!) which is great. The cubes encourage creativity and imaginative play and  are fab, not just for play, but for learning through play too.

I will admit that I wasn’t sure how the kids would respond to the Dado Cubes, 10 seemed like a small number of cubes and I wasn’t sure how much actual playing they’d get out of them, but I’ve been very pleasantly surprised. They are engaging and have proven that they can be played with in any number of ways by children age 2-30ish.

Yes they have corners, and as they’re made of plastic they’re pointed, but I’d not say they were sharp. Accident prone Ezra didn’t hurt himself while playing with these (and he can hurt himself on almost anything!). I think the corners are less sharp than Lego, and about as pointed as Mega Blocks, so nothing to worry about on that score.

Currently these are for sale on The Toadstool for £27.50 which felt a little pricey, but now I’ve seen just how much play these have received in less than a week I really do think that is value for money, especially when you consider the many ways of playing, educational properties and hand eye coordination practice that these cubes provide.

Disclosure: I was sent the Dado Cubes for free for the purpose of conducting this review. My participation is voluntary and my opinions, as always, are my own. No monetary compensation was given.


Posted in category: The Toadstool

Medication Positives

10.04.14

I’ve spent a lot of time recently moaning about my anxiety medication and all the negatives associated with it but I think it’s worth reflecting on all the positives that have come from taking it.

The last 9 months have seen me agree to do things I’d have never done before. I coped admirably (for me) with Annie starting school, I actively spoke to other parents on the playground and made new friends as a result, I’ve taken Annie along to Kung Fu just the 2 of us, something that would have left me terrified before. I go to meetings at school, and even take Ezra, without feeling scared stiff beforehand.

I put myself forward for various blogger roles and opportunities, I’m attending BritMums Live in London this summer thanks to The Toadstool, I’m speaking at BlogCamp in Birmingham at the end of the month and have arranged to meet up with some lovely bloggers there who I don’t actually know – unheard of for me!

I’ve chatted to my lovely friend Niki on Skype even though we hadn’t met. This would have been an ‘easy no’ before, but I did it and turns out it was fun and our friendship is even better as a result.

I’ve driven down to Bristol with the kids a couple of times with no worries or tension. I’m appearing in photos with the kids far more regularly, walking around my neighbourhood without being convinced that everyone I see is a potential threat.

The Positive Side of Anti Anxiety Medication walking siblings holding hands snowingindoors

It’s not all doom and gloom, thanks to the medication I’ve made some incredible changes and done things easily that before would have given me panic attacks previously just considering them. I’m in the process of switching medication to a familiar one from my past. I’m hopeful that this change will have a positive outcome but if it doesn’t I know I can talk to my dr about alternatives.

While I’m feeling rough, I know that I’ve made some amazing changes and steps forward and overall I’m feeling so much better than I have in years.


Posted in category: anxiety & depression

5 Minute Project – Reading in Bed

9.04.14

Last week (before the transition to ‘big boy bed’) I went in to get Ez Bear up after a nap relax in his cot and found him reading in bed.

He was really content and said he didn’t want to get up yet so I gave him a stack of books and dashed off to fetch my camera, I had found the subject for my first 5 Minute Project!

He looked so cute sat up in bed, engrossed in his stories and I knew that this was a moment I would want to keep forever.

The X100S was perfect for this because it’s so quiet. I didn’t distract the Dude every time the shutter clicked and I think he forgot I was there after a minute.Fuji X100S 5 minute Project Reading in bed toddler Tubby Tin Oliver Jeffers snowingindoors (1)Fuji X100S 5 minute Project Reading in bed toddler Tubby Tin Oliver Jeffers snowingindoors (2)Fuji X100S 5 minute Project Reading in bed toddler Tubby Tin Oliver Jeffers snowingindoors (3)Fuji X100S 5 minute Project Reading in bed toddler Tubby Tin Oliver Jeffers snowingindoors (4)Fuji X100S 5 minute Project Reading in bed toddler Tubby Tin Oliver Jeffers snowingindoors (5)Fuji X100S 5 minute Project Reading in bed toddler Tubby Tin Oliver Jeffers snowingindoors (6)Fuji X100S 5 minute Project Reading in bed toddler Tubby Tin Oliver Jeffers snowingindoors (7)Fuji X100S 5 minute Project Reading in bed toddler Tubby Tin Oliver Jeffers snowingindoors (8)Fuji X100S 5 minute Project Reading in bed toddler Tubby Tin Oliver Jeffers snowingindoors (9)Fuji X100S 5 minute Project Reading in bed toddler Tubby Tin Oliver Jeffers snowingindoors (10)Fuji X100S 5 minute Project Reading in bed toddler Tubby Tin Oliver Jeffers snowingindoors (11)Fuji X100S 5 minute Project Reading in bed toddler Tubby Tin Oliver Jeffers snowingindoors (12)Fuji X100S 5 minute Project Reading in bed toddler Tubby Tin Oliver Jeffers snowingindoors (13)

Annie used to love sitting in the cot reading after a nap (though she actually slept beforehand!) and I love watching Ez do the same thing.

I’m glad for the new smaller, quieter camera and finding this project. It’s inspired me to get back to capturing those ordinary moments that will be gone too soon.

What would be the subject of your first 5 minute project? What ordinary moments would you like to photograph and keep forever?


Posted in category: general life