When we were away the other weekend, we visited the Museum of Manchester. We wanted to go mainly to see the T-Rex skeleton, as Izzy has been showing an interest in dinosaurs and fossils lately, and Clara just likes anything big that roars.
I was surprised by Clara – at 2 years old I thought she would be a bit young to get much out of it but she loved it! She liked seeing all the models of the animals and even the skeletons, especially the elephant.
Izzy liked the stuffed Tigon – half tiger, half lion – and kept going back to look at it again. She wasn’t so keen on the Egyptian Mummy though, which to be fair looked pretty scary in an open sarcophagus.
There is a little section with live frogs, lizards and snakes so they enjoyed spotting those, and there were some activities for them to do – Lego building and colouring.
Of course the best bit was seeing Stan, the model made from the fossil of a T-Rex. Clara was excited to introduce her soft toy Rex to the big dinosaur.
The Museum was great; it’s a nice manageable size for children as you can get round everything in a couple of hours. It’s mostly accessible with a pushchair, athough there was one small bit only accessible by steps. We went on a bank holiday Monday and it was lively but not really busy.
Most importantly entry is free (although you can make a donation towards the running of the museum) which is a bonus, especially as trips out with a couple of kids can get expensive!
As Facebook is taken over with photos of excited/terrified children in too-big jumpers, it can only mean one thing – its back to school time!
While we have enjoyed the Summer holidays and I’ve tried to make the most of having some extra time with Izzy, the return to school is a welcome one. Izzy has been missing her friends and has been desperate to get back to the playground.
I’ve been thankful to get back into a routine, one I didn’t realise I missed. The various baby and toddler groups have started back again and we now have to get up and out early for the school run which then sets us up for a more productive day.
Settling into a new class, with a new teacher and mostly new classmates has not been a problem. Izzy is outgoing, and really involves herself in anything to do with school, so she already knew most of the children who are in her new mixed-year class.
Of course the first week back hasn’t been without its challenges. We are already minus one PE shoe. Just the one.
We had the opportunity to review some new Sofia the First toys from Jakks Pacific. The girls loved making a vlog, something we would like to do more of! I may be biased but I think they are naturals in front of a camera…
Disney Junior is a firm favourite in our house, and the girls both love watching Sofia The First. So they were delighted to get the chance to review some of the new collection of Sofia toys from JAKKS Pacific.
We’d love to do more vlogs so I thought this would be a great opportunity to dust off the video camera and practice my editing skills… you can watch the girls opening their new toys over on our YouTube channel, plus some outtakes! It’s surprisingly difficult to coordinate two kids on camera – we had a tantrum, Clara nearly broke the camera and at one point abandoned the toys in favour of the cardboard box (typical toddler!). However, we did have lots of fun making the videos so hopefully you will enjoy them!
So here’s some more information about the toys we reviewed:
Sofia the First Royal Friend Figures (RRP £5.99) and Mini Playsets (RRP £9.99)
There’s a range of different playsets and figures available. We received Sofia, Ruby and Jade as individual figures, plus the Royal Prep Art Class and Amber’s Closet mini playsets. What I like about toys like this is that children can play with the figures or playsets by themselves, or add more to build up a collection – it’s great for birthdays or at Christmas, as you could buy one of the larger sets that is available and then ask family and friends to buy the smaller sets to add to the collection.
Children can collect Sofia in several different outfits, plus her sister Amber and friends Jade and Ruby. The 3 inch figures have movable arms and waists so they can sit and stand, and each comes with an animal friend from the programme. The mini playsets feature a spinning wall which reveals a magic surprise – Izzy was quite excited about spinning the mirror round to reveal Amber’s dresses, and using the paintbrush to add colour to Sofia’s portrait of Minimus. Each one also comes with a figure and some small accessories. The girls love playing with figure like these. The opportunities for play are endless and its so funny just observing them play and act out little scenes, pretending that the figures are talking.
Other available playsets include Minimus with his stable (RRP £19.99) and the Deluxe Castle (RRP £34.99), so your little ones can bring the magical kingdom of Enchancia to life at home.
Sofia the First Royal Camera (RRP £9.99)
For some reason both my girls love taking and looking at photos – I don’t know where they get that from! Clara will often ask to look at photos on my phone, while Izzy is quite good at taking a selfie. So having their very own Royal Camera is perfect for them – Clara was going round all day snapping away and pretending to take photos of everything and everyone. However, as you will see in our Outtakes video, it did cause a bit of a tantrum when Izzy dared to touch the camera!
Looking through the viewfinder, you can see different scenes featuring Sofia and her friends, plus it makes a real camera sound. I personally like the cute little bird on the top!
Sofia the First Royal Tiara (RRP £6.99)
This sparkly tiara is the perfect finishing touch to any princess outfit. Izzy and Clara both love dressing up and have a wardrobe full of princess dresses – Izzy loved dancing around the living room wearing the tiara, pretending she was Sofia, as you can see in our video!
Sofia the First Backpack (RRP £12.99)
I love this backpack. It’s much bigger than the other children’s backpacks we have and has wide adjustable straps, so it’s great if you are going out for the day or even for using as an overnight bag if the little ones are going on a sleepover. There’s lots of space in it, plus it’s got a roomy pocket on the front, so your little ones can easily fit in their toys. We will be taking this on holiday with us to carry toys, nappies and snacks on the plane. For now, Clara is content with filling it with toys and announcing that she is going on holiday.
All of these items are available to buy from Smyths Toys. You can catch new episodes of Sofia the First on Disney Junior weekdays at 4.30pm from 10th October.
*We were sent these toys by JAKKS Pacific in return for an honest review.*
The highlight of this week for Izzy was going to her first ever football match. She’s a Manchester City fan (influenced by Daddy of course) and went to see the City Women’s match on Sunday. She has decided that her favourite player is Izzy Christiansen, if only because they share the same name, so she got number 11 on the back of her shirt in tribute. I was shopping with Clara in Manchester while Izzy went to the match with her Daddy, but she told me all about it. She was really excited and was engrossed for most of the game. At the end of the match some of the players came out to sign autographs and have photos taken with the fans – Izzy was lucky enough to meet a few but was really upset at first that her favourite wasn’t there!
For Clara the highlight was going to the Museum of Manchester. Both girls loved it but I was surprised by Clara – I thought she was a bit young to get anything out of it but she liked seeing all the models of the animals and even the skeletons. But of course the best bit (and the main reason we went) was to see Stan, the model made from the fossil of a T-Rex. The day before Clara got a little soft toy of Rex from Toy Story and she was excited to introduce her Rex to the big dinosaur.
In the week leading up to our Manchester trip, I was off work ill so we didn’t achieve much. The first couple of days weren’t too bad as I mainly slept and binge-watched series of Hawaii Five-0, but by the end of the week I had serious cabin fever so was pleased to get away for the weekend, even with a lingering cough.
The weekend before was another busy one, packed with social events. It’s always the way, I do nothing for weeks then have loads of invites in one go! Thursday I was out for a meal with some fellow mums from playgroup, a rare chance to catch up without us all diving in different directions to roundup the kids!
On Friday I went to a lovely wedding in the evening, where I got chance to catch up with some of my oldest friends. Saturday was another invite for tea, this time at a friends house and I took the girls with me. They mainly ran riot for a few hours and Izzy was in full showing off mood, even putting on a performance of Annie. They were shattered after that but still on good form for a christening on the Sunday, where I managed to get a rare photograph of them both dressed nicely and looking in the same direction!
We also managed to fit in a trip to the beach with friends, and even though the tide was in so there was no sand, the girls enjoyed having a little paddle and eating ice cream.
Okay so this has been more of a two week roundup! What have you been up to this week?
Izzy and Clara love a picnic, no matter where we are or whatever the weather, so they were happy to review a new lunch bag from Bibetta. Of course it was the perfect excuse to go for a picnic (or three) while we had some nice weather over the Summer holidays.
In the past week we have visited a farm park, aquarium and the beach. Taking a picnic with us definitely saved money, as buying food when you are out and about can really add up and make a day trip quite costly. So we packed up some sandwiches, fruit and cookies and headed off to enjoy some family time.
We went to a local marina to enjoy our lunch before going to see the fish at the aquarium. Clara insisted on carrying “my new lunch bag”, probably so that Izzy couldn’t sneak out any snacks, while they hunted for the perfect picnic spot. Eventually they settled on a bench looking out at the sea. However, while they were having a great time, I was slightly on edge due to the seagulls that were slowly surrounding us and trying to stare me out. Not exactly the relaxing picnic I imagined but the girls didn’t let it put them off their food!
The trip to the farm park and beach were more successful, as we didn’t encounter any hungry wildlife, although at the beach the kids discarded their picnic food in favour of ice cream, but who can blame them!
The Bibetta lunch bags are made of neoprene, which is insulating and keeps food and drinks at the right temperature. They are also soft and stretchy, which really helps when you are trying to fit in awkward shaped sandwich boxes! Whether you are packing a lunch for school or snacks for the whole family, there’s plenty of space.
The bags come in different colours and fun patterns – including blue fish, pink butterflies and green owls. The patterns are quite subtle though and I used the bag to take my lunch to work for a few days and it didn’t feel like I was using a child’s lunch bag.
The best thing about the lunch bag has to be that it can be cleaned in the washing machine. I find that even when washing lunch bags by hand it’s hard to get them completely clean and after a while they start to smell a bit funky and need to be replaced.
The lunch bags are currently half price until the end of August on the Bibetta website. Bibetta also produce a range of other family products including bibs, changing mats and picnic rugs.
*We were kindly sent this lunch bag in return for an honest review.*