Saturday, 29 August 2015

Gift Ideas for a 1 Year Old feat. Fisher Price

Fisher Price, Gift Ideas, baby toys


With Taylor's 1st Birthday coming up, it was time to start thinking about what gifts we would buy him. 

We LOVE Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages toys. 

Smart Stages technology gives you the option to change the level of play and learning content, by selecting the stage best for your child. Each stage includes a wide variety of developmentally appropriate songs, sounds and phrases.

Level 1 [aimed at 12mths+] - Explore:
First words and sounds spark baby's curiosity.

Level 2 [aimed at 18mths+] - Encourage:
Prompt baby through questions and simple directions.

Level 3 [aimed at 24mths+] - Pretend:
Imaginative fun and early role play.

The lovely people at Fisher Price sent us the Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Scooter* (£32.99) and the Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Toolbox* (£19.99).
We also bought him the Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Chair, which is fantastic.

This cute Baby Ride On is a perfect first ride on, with it's bright colourful features, the perfect size for 12 month+ olds to attempt to climb on themselves and the interactive buttons. Little ones can learn to move themselves along independently, and be rewarded by fun songs, phrases and sound effects. It has a little horn button 'Beeep Beeep!!' and buttons to teach colours, shapes and numbers.

Fisher Price, Smart Stages, Baby Ride On, Scooter, baby toys
Fisher Price, Scooter, Smart Stages, Baby Ride On, baby toys

This was one of the first things Taylor went for when he came into the lounge on his birthday, and he absolutely adores it. He has me pushing him around on it constantly [my knees have the bruises to confirm this!! ;)]

Fisher Price, Smart Stages, Baby Ride On, baby toys
Fisher Price, Smart Stages, Baby Ride On, Baby toys, gifts for 1 year old
Finding the buttons. 'Beep Beep!'

How adorable is this Toy Toolbox? Baby can hammer away at the colourful shape pegs and be rewarded with fun songs, phrases and sounds. I love educational toys like this, where he is learning colours, shapes, numbers and opposites all while he's having lots of fun.

Fisher Price, Smart Stages, Toy toolbox, baby toys, gifts for 1 year old
Fisher Price, Smart Stages, Toy toolbox, baby toys, gifts for 1 year old

Taylor loves grabbing the hammer and hitting the pegs, then passing the hammer over for us to have a go. [of course not while you're trying to get a photo of him doing it!! ;)]

Fisher Price, Smart Stages, Toy Toolbox, baby toys, gifts for 1 year old


I'm a huge fan of these toys as they will grow with him as he gets a little older and will continue to teach him new things as he develops. 

What toys do you recommend for a 1 year old?


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xxx


*Toys kindly sent to us by Fisher Price 
for the purpose of this post.
Opinions are all my own.






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Saturday, 22 August 2015

Taylor: My Letter to you on your 1st Birthday

1st birthday, letter on 1st birthday



Dear Taylor,

I can't believe that you're 1. How fast has this year gone?? I feel really emotional that you're growing so fast, but at the same time I adore how clever and grown up you are!!

Daddy and I went through a lot to have you, and my pregnancy wasn't as stress free and simple as I'd hoped. So I've been super over protective of you. Having you at 30, with a 10 year gap between you and your brother, after trying for you for almost 2 years, my life completely changed when you arrived. Mummy no longer wants to go out on big nights out, I can't imagine anything any better then my life as it is right now. Seeing your little face when you wake up, lifting your arms up for a cuddle with a big smile when you see me walk into your room.

On August 24th 2014 at 5:32am you arrived into the world, all 10 lbs of you!! I was so proud of myself for once again managing labour with no pain relief! :) 

You make me so so happy, and I'm so proud of how you're developing. Daddy and I decided that Mummy would stay at home with you. Daddy works very hard for the pennies to make sure we can do this, and Mummy is lucky enough to be able to work part time from home, around you. This has meant that I haven't once missed a first, or a new milestone and every single one has been amazing.

From your first smile, you learning to roll, sit, crawl and walk, every single moment has been amazing! Thinking back on this last year brings tears to my eyes. I feel so emotional looking back. Every day I fall more and more in love with you, every time you learn something new, snuggle up to me or do something to make me laugh, I feel this bittersweet emotion of proudness mixed with sadness that you're growing so fast! 
You weren't an easy baby, you've never really been very laid back :) You were pretty grumpy from the get go and I know that now it was because you needed a lot of stimulation, you wanted to move, you wanted to explore. You're on the go constantly, you never stop. You've been walking since 9 months old, and since then you've loved exploring your little world.

You're beginning to say a few words and your understanding is fantastic. 

I love the way you stand by the nappy box telling me you need a nappy change, then take the nappy bag to the front door telling me you're ready to put it in the dustbin. And you clap when you get it in.

I love how you love your food. We did Baby Led Weaning and you took to it brilliantly. You've never been spoon fed, you independently fed yourself from 6 months old and you ate everything we offered you.

I love how excited you get when you see Daddy come home after work, and when your big brother comes in to play with you.

I love how you're not fussed with the boxes and boxes of toys you own, you'd much rather play with the remote and Mummy's phone! :)
You walk around with the phone to your ear pretending to have a conversation, you're so funny!!

You love the football, you dribble the ball around with your feet, you clever little sausage. Maybe you're going to be a footballer when you're older. :)

I love when you fetch your shoes from the hallway and bring them to me because you want to play outside.

I love how much you love music, you love a little dance and made everybody laugh at the Summer Fete last weekend, boogying to the reggae music on the sound system.

You're so curious and confident, I hope you never lose that. Stay curious, stay inquisitive. 

Your favourite word is YEH! 'Do you want a snack, Taylor?' 'YEH!', 'Shall we play on the slide, Taylor?' 'YEH!'

We love you so very very much beautiful boy, you're the centre of our family and we all adore you, run rings around you. You make us all so happy! 

This weekend we're celebrating your birthday with our family and friends and on Monday we're going to spend your actual birthday just  me, you, Daddy and your brother. Although you'll probably have no idea what's going on, I hope you have the most amazing time!!

Thank you for being you.
I'm so excited for your second year.

Happy 1st Birthday, Taylor James.

I love you so very very much!!


Love Mummy xxx


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Monday, 17 August 2015

Me & My Blog Tag

Thank you to Kerry for nominating me. Here is my 'Me & My Blog' tag...



Describe your blog...
The Brunette Says is a UK lifestyle, beauty and parenting blog. It's my little bit of space on the internet to share my little world, my thoughts and feelings. I blog about my family, reviews, favourites on everything from beauty products, home products, books, baby products etc.



What made you start blogging?
I always kept a diary growing up, and once the internet took off, I had an online diary; an anonymous blog where I wrote down all my thoughts and feelings. I have no idea if anyone ever read it, I wasn't clever enough [or rather I didn't really care back then] to check my stats. I even wrote a blog post when I first met my now boyfriend at his work and how I couldn't get him out of my head. I bet that'd be an interesting read now! ha. 
When the whole beauty blogging thing took off, I loved reading them.  I attempted my own a couple of times, but I just couldn't find my way with them. I read Zoella's blog all the time and when a couple of my friends Tor & Emma started writing blogs I really got into the idea of starting my own again, so I did and I put my everything into it!



Why did you call your blog what you did?
Ha! Well, it was a bit of a private joke with friends. Without going into details, a few years ago, I was having a bit of an issue that involved me kinda going up against a blonde girl. Thats where 'The Brunette Says...' came about in a sense that 'the brunette knows best', 'what the brunette says, goes'. It was just a jokey saying that would make the whole issue more light hearted I think :) and since the blog would be my thoughts and my opinions, it just seemed fitting. :)



How long have you been blogging?
Over 2 years now. :) I still feel very much like an amateur at times though. There's a lot I don't know. 



How much time do you spend on your blog?
Not as much as I used to, but I try. It takes a lot of effort. During Taylor's morning nap I try to reply to any PR emails, answer comments, post my blog posts on my social media and link up to blog hops and linkys. I try to plan, write, edit, take photos, upload photos, edit photos and put the posts together on my evenings off work. I aim to get at 2 posts out a week, but it often doesn't happen.



What do you love about blogging?
I love the interaction. I love documenting my life and reading them back, particularly the family based posts. Reading my pregnancy updates is always lovely. I love receiving amazing products and items to review, we're very lucky in that sense. I love trying new things out and sharing my views with my readers! I've met some fab people at blog events, some great friends and lovely PR people.



Favourite posts to write?
I love to shake it up a bit. A bit of personal life, some beauty favourites, a book review... a bit of everything!



Do you accept sponsored posts?
I do yes. If it benefits both myself and the client, fits in well with the content and theme of my usual posts and I feel will be of interest to my readers, something I'd enjoy reading myself then yes. 



Most proudest blog-related moment?
Getting a great response from a post feels amazing!



Have you ever had a negative response to your posts?
There was an occasion when somebody got narky with me when I posted a blogpost similar to something she'd done and announced it over social media. I didn't even read her blog when she posted it, and it upset me for a while and made me want to give it up, I'd not long started. And recently I was made aware of someone from the past making an indirect comment about my blog. It did get to me a little at first, as I actually liked the girl. But if she wants to sit with her friends making bitchy comments about my blog, then she's welcome to... Thanks for the page views!! ;)



Do you have a favourite blog?
Not a favourite, there are so many I like. There are some I love to read for beauty, some fab ones about parenting. I'm  not really a fan of the high-end, popular blogs nowadays, a lot of them lose their personality and character.



How often do you blog?
I try to get 1-2 posts out a week. It's hard work though as I don't have much free time nowadays. But I'm happy as long as there is at least 1 new post a week.



What is your biggest blog-related pet hate?
I hate when people start blogging simply for the 'free stuff', good luck with that!! ;) 



If anyone wants to do this tag, go ahead. You're all my nominations! :) Tweet me if you do so I can read your answers!



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Thursday, 13 August 2015

Book Review: Girl Online by Zoe Sugg

Girl Online, Zoe Sugg, Book, Zoella


I honestly can't remember the last time I sat down and read a book. Let's be truthful here, I can't actually remember the last time I sat down long enough!!


I'm on the go all day, then I work in the evenings. But I've recently changed my hours at work, so I get a little bit of extra ME time in the evenings. 
So I decided I really wanted to get back into reading. It's so relaxing and takes you away from the busy hustle and bustle of life, and for a short while, you're swept up in the story. 
I'd had Girl Online since Christmas. My other half bought it for me after I'd mentioned it. 


I'd been following Zoella's blog for years, way before she made it big, way before she took over YouTube. 
Personally, I think she's great. She gets a lot of stick in the blogging world which is a shame as she just started out just like us. So I was intrigued to give her first novel a read.


Girl Online, Zoe Sugg, Book, Zoella

There was a big uproar when it came out that Zoe had help from a Ghostwriter. Really?? I mean, what celebrity / non-author doesn't get help from a ghostwriter? Come on! 

I wouldn't say it's your every day read for a 30+ year old. It's aimed more at teenage girls. But it was actually really refreshing to read. It took me back to being a teenager and all there was to worry about were issues such as friendships, crushes & teenage hormones.

To read, it's obvious it's written by an amateur, a beginner. If you like your books deep and extremely well-written, probably best you remove this one from your to-read list!

It's about a teenage girl from Brighton, called Penny. She's pretty unlucky, clumsy and seems to attract bad luck. She begins writing a blog, anonymously. 
Under the alias, 'Girl Online', she blogs about her panic attacks and school dramas.

After a really embarrassing event at school which ended up with her and her knickers going viral on You Tube thanks to her so-called mates, Penny goes to New York with her parents and her best friend, Elliot, for Christmas to get away from everything. She meets a guy called Noah who sweeps her off her feet, and she captures it all on her blog.


It's quite OTT at times. I often sat thinking 'Reaalllyyy?!'. 

It's very 'movie like' and I thought 'that wouldn't happen in real life', but that said, it's a story and you do get lost in it like a fairy tale. 


Girl Online, Zoe Sugg, Book, Zoella

Penny has an amazing time in New York. Noah is exactly like the guy you used to dream about as a teenager. He teaches her how to deal with her anxiety and helps her forget about all the bad luck at home. But something doesn't seem quite right, and once home, everything unfolds and Penny's life is turned upside down.


The story focuses on anxiety, cyber bullying, internet hate, friendship issues, falling in love and general teenage worries, and I like this fact. Zoe has used this opportunity to raise these issues and hey, if it helps a teenage girl to understand or help deal with these issues then who's to knock it!


Of course, everything comes good in the end. :)


Personally I found the book quite predictable, over the top and often quite poorly written, BUT I enjoyed it. It made me smile and although at times I knew what was coming, I still couldn't stop reading. I think it's perfect for young readers, which is the audience it's aimed at. I know my 11 year old son's friends loved it. It'd be perfect for a gift for someone of that age. It's a very cute story! 


I actually want to start doing 'Magical Mystery Day' with my little family!! On Magical Mystery Day, Penny's family took out a map, closed their eyes and randomly picked a place, then they'd go and have an adventure there. AND on Magical Mystery Day you HAVE to eat cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I'd clearly be the best Mum in the world if I pulled this one out once a year!

Read it if... You're a fan of Zoe and you're curious to read her story, you're a teenage girl or young adult or you simply want an easy read that takes you back to your younger years.


Hats off to Zoe. She's living the dream and fulfilling her goals. Despite the negative reviews, Girl Online was a huge bestseller, knocked Harry Potter off the top spot and has a sequel coming out soon.





Have you read Girl Online?
What did you think?


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Tuesday, 11 August 2015

What We Wore: Taylor

What We Wore

Taylor's Outfits of the Week


Monday


Ready for a day of errands, Taylor wears:
'Mummy's Perfect Handsome Little Man' top - George @ ASDA
Grey striped shorts - George @ ASDA


Tuesday


For a trip to the library and a walk to the supermarket, Taylor wears:
Blue paint splatter top - River Island (£8.00)
Blue jersey trousers - H&M (£3.99)


Wednesday


Ready for a shopping trip into town, Taylor wears:
Grey jersey trousers - H&M (£3.99)
Winnie the Pooh 'Best Friends' top - H&M 


Thursday


For Daddy's day off, there was lots of jobs, shopping, playing in the garden and a visit from Nanna & Grandad, Taylor wears:
Mickey Mouse top - H&M
Striped navy & white shorts - H&M
Denim style shoes - Next


Friday


Taylor started coming down with a temperature so today was full of snuggles and Calpol. He wears:
Grey dog face top - H&M
Striped white & grey jersey trousers - H&M (£2.99)


Saturday 


We had a little trip into town to buy party supplies, Taylor wears:
Run DMC top - H&M
Grey lined cotton trousers - H&M (£9.99)



Starting to feel a little better, we helped Daddy in the garden. Taylor wears:
Faded blue dream top - River Island (£8.00)
Blue acid wash shorts - River Island (£5.00)






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xxx



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Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Taylor's 11 Month Update


Height/Weight...
Taylor weighs approx 24 lbs now. I'm not sure how tall he is, but he has his 1 year check tomorrow so maybe they will measure him then.

Sizes...
He's comfortably in 12-18 months clothing now, although still wearing a few 9-12 bits too. his size 3 shoes are too small now, so I've bought him a few pairs of size 4, I still need to get him re-measured properly though.

Feeding...
We've dropped his bottles of formula now, he just has 6oz before bed time. He has a 4 oz bottle of cows milk in the morning and afternoon. He's still eating 3 meals a day really well, with a morning and afternoon snack. He's started turning his nose up to green veg such as green beans and broccoli which disheartened me a little as he ate lots when he first started weaning. Maybe his tastes are changing. I do hope he doesn't get fussy with vegetables like his big brother!

Sleeping...
I dont want to tempt fate but he's sleeping lots better. He's sleeping right through to at least 5:30am then he starts to stir and wake and we bring him into our bed for the last hour or so where he just snuggles up and falls straight back to sleep till 6:30-7 at least. So we can't complain. He naps morning and afternoon although these are changing slightly at the mo. He never naps longer than 30 mins, but the past few days he's been waking after 10-15 mins.

Bedtime Routine...
We take him up for 'quiet time' in his bedroom about 6:30pm. Although Daddy forgets what quiet time means sometimes and thinks its 'lets make lots of noise and play' time! ;) Then he his his bath , dried, into sleep clothes, then he has his bottle while I read him a story, then he's into bed and usually falls straight to sleep at around 7pm. 

Milestones...
He's getting very clever and saying a lot more words now. This month he's started saying 'Yeh', 'Gone' and a few others. I think the biggest milestone is him sleeping better.



Until next month...
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Monday, 3 August 2015

Our Family Holiday to Butlins




Let me start by warning you this is a photo heavy post! This holiday was paid for completely by ourselves and the post written in all my own words and opinions. 

We booked a break to Butlins, Skegness for the first week of the school holidays. Fortunately  where we live, we finish term earlier than the majority of the country, so prices are still classed as term time. Unfortunately, this means the whole of my hometown have the same idea! :)

Now, I LOVE Butlins. It's perfect for my boys, as it's tricky trying to find places to go where they'll both have things to do. Bradley is 11 and Taylor is under 1. Butlins has so much for kids of all ages to do, so they're always kept busy.

But, I do wish I could pick the complex up and move it somewhere else. Somewhere that isn't Skegness! :) I find Skegness, hmm how do I put this?! Okay I'm just going to say it, 'Chavvy!' *hides*. Now, it's a fab little seaside town, the closest to us, I have fond memories growing up of travelling to Skegness for the day, but it's just full of people I know. During our week at Butlins I bumped into families of 5 children I used to look after, 2 people I went to school with and someone who lives down the road. We even bumped into James' sisters in Skegness town!! :)

So if we were to go to Butlins again for a Summer holiday, which I'm sure we will as we have so much fun and I can't wait for Taylor to get a little older and share the same memories I did when Bradley was young, I think we'll visit one of the other Butlins complexes. 
That said, Skegness is so easy to get to, it's perfect for little breaks away.

I love how the majority of facilities on the complex are free; the splash water world, fairground, soft play area, parks and entertainment. And there is so much to do both indoors and outdoors in all weathers and as mentioned before, so much for children of all ages to do. We always pay for the food plan, which is so ideal. Lots of choice for breakfast and main meal, perfect for Taylor, who was baby led weaned, and loved trying all the different foods.

James loved taking Taylor swimming for the first time. The water world is fantastic, with lots of different pools and flumes. 

I spent a morning in the Spa which was amazing. After all the busyness of sorting everybody out each day, it was lovely to just lay there and relax, read, swim and enjoy the sauna and Jacuzzi. Bliss.

Bradley enjoyed taking part in the football tournaments and making friends on the football pitch each day. He especially loved spending lots of money in the arcades winning lots and lots of tickets.

Taylor loved the soft play area and splashing in the swimming pools.

The accommodation was clean and a good size. We booked a ground floor silver grade apartment.

Overall, it was a fantastic family holiday, with lots for us all to do. Taylor loved his first holiday, we all loved spending time together as a 4, which is pretty rare, and we made lots of great memories!


Let me share with you, our photo diary from our little family holiday...

On our way
Taylor's first paddle in the sea
Butlins own private beach
Exploring the sand
Taylor's first time on the beach
Paddling
Daddy & Taylor
Bradley & Taylor in the soft play area
Ball pool fun
Bradley posing in the camper van
I've no idea. Apparently he's a football player ;)
Evening fun in Reds Entertainment Club
James & Bradley battle it out 
Bowling fun
Cheeese!

Ready for a fun day out
Tickle time
 Oh we do like to be beside the seaside!
Apartments 
Adrenaline activities
 Taking part in the World Cup Tournament
Inside the Skyline
 Weeeeee!!
Loving the rides!
More baby rides for Taylor to enjoy!
Smile!!
The old style chalet
Relaxing on the giant sun lounger
 Love the giant props
My boys
 Me & my littlest
My beautiful boys and I
 The circus at Butlins
 Sitting on a sun hat
My beautiful boy
 Smiles at the seaside
 Taylor James
 Bradley enjoying the giant props
 Blue skies & my beautiful grown up boy
Soaking up the sunshine
Daddy & his mini me
Taylor & Bradley
Giant beach
Yum yum
 Posing with the giant ice cream... As you do
 Taking in the sites
My family
 So much to do and see at Butlins
Having a kick about
One of the flumes outside Splash Waterworld

Skyline
And relax!
Bradley enjoying relaxing on the giant deckchair
Smile boys!
Matching t-shirts :)
Me time in the Spa
So relaxing
Mummy time!
Smiles
Out for lunch
Hungry Taylor?
Bradley having fun in the water balls, in Skegness
No time for a sit down!
Watching Bradley in the water
Visiting Skegness Aquarium
Fishes
 Watching the crabs being fed
Looking at the big fishes
 Exploring the aquarium
Taylor & Daddy enjoying the sunshine
My beautiful boys!
 Pinching Bradley's slush
 Yum yum!
 Love them!!
 Ducks!!! Quack quack!!
Having lunch with the ducks before home time




Have you been on a family holiday yet this year?

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