Sleep versus Cuddles

With three children under six years old the importance of sleep to me is obvious but it's all too easy to not invest the effort in seeking this most precious commodity. We see at the benefits of a good night's sleep and then often don't really put enough effort into getting one, whether intentionally or due to other commitments we may have.  I wonder if there are any physical things we can do to increase our sleep time and the quality of sleep such as investing in new bedroom furniture? Does your sleeping position actually matter? 

The benefits of sleep are clear. It is good for your health and appearance, boosts your immune system and helps your mind process the day. It is free and when you you're asleep you can avoid speeding tickets, parking tickets, bad weather, rubbish TV and all of the other irritants of waking life. Too much sleep and you can become groggy and severely restrict the actual time that you have to get things done. 

There are so many sleep positions that you may find yourself in, many of which are named, like ‘The Classic Spoon’, ‘The Chase’ and Nuzzling’. These all relate to sleeping with your partner (if you have one) and they may be willing to be close to you or seek space away from you. Before you consult a marriage counsellor if your partner is far away from you this could simply be a sign that:they are not sleeping well at the moment or that they value sleep over physical contact or intimacy at that point in time. Tiredness and a good night's sleep definitely beats snuggling up while we sleep in our house! 

What does your sleeping position say about your relationship? If an uncomfortable bed is proving to be the stumbling block then BedStar have a range of solutions available – maybe you want to sleep apart but your bed is that saggy in the middle that gravity always forces you together. As a rule of thumb the more children you have the greater you sleep apart as the space in the middle is quickly filled with your children as mini bed invaders sieze every opportunity to snuggle up with Mummy and Daddy . Tired parents can easily fall into the trap of letting them sleep in the middle as ‘anything for an easy life', or share their bed willingly if they choose to co-sleep, especially when they children are small. 

The solution could be a better bed for you, or a more exciting bed for your child, such as a bunk bed or character based one. Long lasting couples will intuitively balance the need for intimacy with the need to sleep as well as the extra factor of the sprawling limbs of your children. Good luck and sweet dreams!

In Collaboration with Jillian Ferguson

Dreaming of a House Move

I love where we live, it's close to family and convenient for shopping in our local town, Bud's school and has excellent transport links into Manchester and Bolton. We have playgrounds and a country park in easy walking distance and the local library is less than 200 metres away, in terms of proximity to everything a young family needs we have everything. We probably sacrificed a little in terms of our actual house to live where we do and I've recently started to think about the possibility of moving. It would be lovely for Bud and Little E to not have to share a bedroom and for us all to have a little more space and I'd love a more period property with character and original features.

Looking at property websites is something of a hobby of mine, I always take the opportunity to have a little nosy at the photos of properties which I see for sale when I'm out and about and recently saw a gorgeous house that would be perfect for our family of five. It's a late Victorian three storey terrace with four bedroooms and two reception rooms that would finally offer us a little more space to live in. We'd have to sacrifice our lovely garden and my dream of adding a conservatory out there as it's outdoor space is more limited, but I'd love to live in a house like that.

The house we've been looking at needs work. As the daughter of a plasterer, I'm always keen to use local tradesmen and companies whenever we need work doing. There are a few big jobs needed in the house that I keep looking at. My daydreaming about it has extended to looking at companies that I'd love to hire to carry out the work. My most hated feature in our current home is the windows. They are white UPVC with fake leading in them. If we decide not to move replacing our windows is high on our list of priorities. The windows in dream house are beautiful but clearly in need of replacement. I'd want to replace like with like so I've been looking for a company locally who install timber sash windows.

Timber Sash Windows from Reddish Joinery

Reddish Joinery are based in Reddish, near Stockport, with two showrooms in Sale and Warrington (just down the road from us).They offer a huge range of bespoke windows, doors, conservatories, orangeries and roof  trims. Their range includes UPVC windows but it's their Timber Sash windows that catch my eye. They'd be the perfect addition to the Victorian property of my dreams, they are double glazed to keep your home quiet and cozy so there's no sacrifice of comfort over them being appropriate for the period of the home. As things stand at the moment I'm more likely to be checking out their range of UPVC windows to replace those in our current home. Reddish Joinery have been around for almost fifty years so it's safe to say that they are experienced and established in their field. I'm definitely adding them to my mental list for my dream home.

Do you love where you live? What's next on your list of home improvements?

Disney on Ice Comes to Liverpool's Echo Arena in 2016

A few weeks ago we went to see this year's version of Disney on Ice and had a wonderful time. LM and Bud enjoyed it immensely and even Little E was mesmerised by the ice skating versions of Toy Story 3, The Little Mermaid, Cars and Frozen that we saw. It was our first experience of the show and provided the perfect family night out. That's why I'm delighted to be bringing you news of Disney on Ice's return to the North-West next year when Disney On Ice presents Silver Anniversary Celebration arrives at Liverpool's Echo Arena from Wednesday 16 March to Sunday 20 March for 9 magical performances.

Disney on Ice Comes to Liverpool's Echo Arena in 2016

The skating spectacular will take the audience to four far away lands as they join tour guides Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck and Daisy Duck to  visit the magical worlds of Disney’s The Lion King, The Little Mermaid and Peter Pan. You'll then be whisked away to the wintry wonderland of the number one animated feature film of all-time, Disney’s Frozen.

Disney on Ice Comes to Liverpool's Echo Arena in 2016

The arena will be filled with music and magic in every scene as you discover four unique landscapes filled with boisterous pirates, Caribbean beats and tender moments. Audiences will explore the African Pride Lands with Simba, Timon and Pumbaa; voyage deep under the sea to Ariel’s mystical underwater kingdom; and tour London with Peter Pan and Wendy before flying to Neverland to join Tinker Bell.  Plus, travel to Arendelle for an extraordinary adventure with royal sisters Anna and Elsa, rugged mountain man Kristoff and everyone’s favorite huggable snowman, Olaf.

Disney on Ice Comes to Liverpool's Echo Arena in 2016

With a princess-crazy LM and Bud super excited to see The Lion King we are really looking forward to seeing Disney On Ice presents Silver Anniversary Celebration in March. It promises to be another evening of Disney on Ice magic with entertainment for the whole family. Will you be there?

TO BOOK TICKETS CALL THE ECHO ARENA BOX OFFICE ON 0844 8000 400 or Group bookings are available from TicketQuarter Groups on 0844 561 7672
Personal callers can purchase their tickets from TicketQuarter, Queen Square Liverpool visit

Lonely Planet Kids Books - Review and Giveaway

I've been a fan of Lonely Planet travel books for a long time, almost as long as I've been planning trips and, even today, their guide books are the first I reach for when visiting a new destination. Their mixture of genuine, honest experience of a place with all the facts and figures you need to know makes them a must-have in my book.

Lonely Planet Kids Books - Review and Giveaway

Bud was recently sent four books from their range of children's books to take a look at and we've very much enjoyed taking a look at them together. I'm pleased to see that the same quality of writing and reporting in the guidebook range is carried over to their junior collection and Bud has loved having some more grown up books to read and learn from.

Here's what Bud thought:

I thought I'd share Mum's perspective. As a Geography graduate I've always enjoyed exploring the world through books like atlases so I thought I would share my view on each (in the order that Bud covers them in the video).

The Travel Book - this is the sort of book I would have adored as a youngster. It's a hardback book which is gloriously illustrated and packed with interesting facts and figures about the countries of the world. It includes photos of landmarks. famous people, flags and lots more information. This is the sort of book that children can dip in and out of, perhaps to support a project at school, or to learn more about somewhere they have seen on TV or read about elsewhere. It really takes me back to the way I learned as a child - through looking things up in books instead of going immediately to Wikipedia. I'd say it's perfect for children of age 7+ to explore alone but Bud and I have loved reading it together since it arrived.

How to be an International Spy - this is the book that Bud has engaged with least since he arrived. It's simply too old for him but I've had a good look through it and it's a fascinating read. It's packed with stories of espionage and all the different techniques used by spies. There are lots of different activities included and it really is a comprehensive basic guide to spying. I think Bud will love this when he's around 9 so it's going to be back up on the shelf until then. He simply doesn't understand enough of the basics of what a spy is and why people spy to get anything from the book at the moment. My 12 year old nephew was looking at this book when he was round the other day and he really enjoyed  it. It's a good read, with really engaging content, for older children.

Adventures Around the Globe - Bud loved this one, as I expected him to. He's a fan of sticker and activity books but we're usually stuck buying those character books which he's getting a little old for. This is a more grown up take on that style of book with full colour illustrations, colouring pages, stickers and puzzles. I loved it just as much as Bud. I think this would be a great book to keep children entertained on flights or long journeys, especially if their destination is featured in the book. I'm almost tempted to get the colouring pencils out and 'help' Bud with the colouring in. I'd say this one is perfect for Bud's age and above, 5+.

Lonely Planet Kids Books - Review and Giveaway

You Rule! - I thought that Bud would find this similar to the Spy book but he surprised me. We do try to expose him to the news carefully and to explain what is going on in the world in a gentle way. He's recently been asking about the refugee crisis and so has become quite familiar with the idea that there are wars and some people belong to one country and others to a different one, and some people can't stay in their country so move away. This book is subtitled 'create your own country' and we've been looking at it together. It's been really interesting to hear what Bud would do if he was in charge and, while a lot of the text goes over his head as it's geared towards older children, he is learning from it and is very interested when we look at it together.

Click through to view the full range of Lonely Planet Kids Books, the range is excellent and there's something for every child from age three and above. I can see a couple of the 'Adventures in...' sticker books making it on to Bud's Christmas List.

I've teamed up with Lonely Planet to offer one of my lucky readers the chance to win a fantastic bundle of their kids books. Whether a holiday treat or an extra gift (we can't guarantee delivery before Christmas) they are bound to delight your children. To enter the giveaway please complete the Gleam widget below. The blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a range of additional entry options. Please read the terms and conditions. 

Lonely Planet Kids Books

The Power of Music - Deeper Sleeper with Sealy UK

I love music. It's been a big part of my life since childhood and, while I don't have the same amount of time to keep on top of all of the latest releases and hang on websites trying to score tickets to my favourites' gigs, or attend the gig even, I still listen to music everyday.

I've long been aware of the mood-changing potential of music. Whether it's an energising track to get your feet moving more quickly when out for a run, one of your favourite tracks which transports you to a happy place by hearing just a few notes, or a romantic track to create a mood on date night, music has power. This month's treat from the Sealy UK Deeper Sleep Panel focuses on the power of music to relax and calm, and help you get ready for a good night's sleep.

Getting to sleep has been an issue for me since I was a teenager and I've often used music to help with this. Back in the day it was drifting off with John Peel's dulcet tones and musical selection to soothe me to sleep. Obviously sharing a bed with Ian means that it's difficult for me to use music or radio in the same way as it could disturb him. In actuality he sleeps like a sedated elephant so it wouldn't be that difficult. Sealy UK have sent me a nifty gadget this month to make it easy for me to drift off with a little music.

The Power of Music - Deeper Sleeper with Sealy UK Sound Asleep Speaker Pillow

It's super simple to use the speaker pillow and you don't need headphones. Simply plug your phone or MP3 player into the lead attached to the pillow, use the volume controls on your device, place your head on the pillow and off you go.

When this pillow arrived I was sceptical. I couldn't understand how it works - there's a speaker inside but you can't feel it at all. The pillow is very comfortable to place your head upon. It really works. I can play music or the radio through it and neither my partner nor our littlest son who is still sleeping in our room are disturbed. It's brilliant!

The Power of Music - Deeper Sleeper with Sealy UK Sound Asleep Speaker Pillow

The only downside to this pillow is that it can't be machine washed. You can sponge it and air dry it though so I can't imagine that it will be too much of an issue. The lead is quite long so you can place your device quite far away if you don't like sleeping with your phone near your head, like me.

I've been using this pillow every night for the past couple of weeks and it is helping me to drop off to sleep. I'm so surprised that it works but it definitely does. Listening to music is my favourite way to relax and clear my mind at bedtime so I'm delighted to have it.

This month's Deeper Sleeper delivery has been inspired. I'll be back next month to try another sleep solution.

I am a member of the Sealy UK Deeper Sleeper Panel and was sent this pillow to try this month

What LM Wore - Bobux Splash Boots

We love Bobux shoes and, even though Bud's feet are now too big for them (sob!), LM's aren't and we both love their range of colours and styles which offer something different to many of the high street chains.

What LM Wore - Bobux Splash Boots in Brick

LM really needed a pair of sturdy winter boots to keep her warm and dry over the next few months. It rains a lot where we live so a pair of waterproof boots for puddle jumping is a must when you don't want to wear your wellies. We chose the Bobux Splash Boots in Brick as we wanted a pair of boots that combined practicality with looking great on display, with leggings or tights tucked into them.

What LM Wore - Bobux Splash Boots in Brick

The boots are exactly the same high quality that we have come to expect from Bobux. The leather used is their innovative splashtex™ leather technology which makes them waterproof, hardwearing and cosy. I love the tweed effect, herringbone wool effect lining which is super soft against LM's legs and feet.

What LM Wore - Bobux Splash Boots in Brick

There are lots of little design features which we have come to expect from Bobux - the little loops on the sides to make them easy to get on and off, the subtle Bobux branding on the sides and the great quality, flexible sole combine to make this a great pair of boots. We love the cheery brick red colour and it goes with so many of LM's outfits. There's nothing better to brighten up a wintry day than a bright red pair of boots.

What LM Wore - Bobux Splash Boots in Brick

Bobux shoes and boots are designed to offer support and flexibility to a growing foot and I'm really confident that LM is comfortable in them. She asks to wear them and can actually get them on and off herself by zipping and unzipping the boots, a little bit of added independence that she loves.

What LM Wore - Bobux Splash Boots in Brick

LM has now been wearing her boots for a few weeks and they've coped well with everything that our Autumn has thrown at them so far. She's loved stomping through puddles and kicking through the leaves, jumping, walking and scooting; the boots have been wiped clean several times, which has made them look as good as new.

What LM Wore - Bobux Splash Boots in Brick

I'd wholeheartedly recommend these Bobux boots. They are another fantastic pair of shoes and I'm sure LM will get much more wear from them this Winter, she has a little growing room in there although they fit well. They are stylish, practical and perfect to keep your little ones warm and dry.

Bobux Splash Boots are available from Bobux UK and various independent retailers, Follow Bobux on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date with all of their news too!

We received the boots for review purposes.

We're going on an adventure

Transformers Prime – Beasthunters: The Complete Season Three Box Set on DVD - Review and Giveaway

Bud is really starting to enjoy the more grown up adventure animated series recently and a new favourite is Transformers Prime - Beast Hunters. We've just received the Complete Season Three box set so he has thirteen episodes to watch now!

Transformers Prime – Beasthunters: The Complete Season Three Box Set on DVD - Review and Giveaway

Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters – The Complete Season Three smashes its way onto shelves from today, 9th November.

Explosive action lands with an almighty crash this winter when you can take home all thirteen episodes of Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters – The Complete Season Three including all the unmissable exhilaration of Battle for Darkmount, Race for Salvation and the full length movie Predacons Rising. 

Transformers Prime – Beasthunters: The Complete Season Three Box Set on DVD - Review and Giveaway

Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters – Battle for Darkmount:
This explosive season begins immediately following the shocking cliffhanger of the monstrous war on earth between the Autobots and Decepticons. An heroic Optimus Prime sacrificed his own safety to ensure the escape of his army, but the Autobot base has been thrown into ruin. Now the only chance of survival is for the Autobots and humans to work together to defeat a common foe, protect their homelands and overthrow Megatron’s tyrannous regime once and for all.

Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters – Race for Salvation:
In this volume, the Decepticons battle the Autobots for control of fossilized Predacon bones. The Decepticons plan to use the bones to clone a nation of savage Predacons and unleash fear and terror onto the earth. Will the Autobots be able to defeat their arch rivals in time and save our planet?

Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters – Predacons Rising
The Autobots hit a whole army of problems when Megatron and his Decepticons destroy their base, scattering the team and when Shockwave becomes the brand new Decepticon weapon will it prove too much for the Autobots to face?With one more powerful weapon against them is this the time that Optimus Prime and the gang will fail to save the Autobots? Will this be the end for planet Earth?

The DVD box set weighs in at a huge 338 minutes in length, that's over five hours of Transformers Prime - Beasthunters action! Bud has loved what he's watched so far and I can see this DVD being viewed regularly in our house from now on.

Transformers Prime – Beasthunters: The Complete Season Three Box Set on DVD is out now and available from all usual stockists, including Amazon.

I've teamed up with Hasbro Studios to give away a copy of the DVD Box Set to one of my lucky readers. To enter the giveaway please complete the Gleam widget below. The blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a range of additional entry options. Please read the terms and conditions.

Transformers Prime – Beasthunters: The Complete Season Three Box Set on DVD