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Welcome!

Hello,

We’ve done away with the old blog…

Therefore it’s probably time I re-introduced ourselves.

Me – I’m Bex, aged 26, a childminder based in Norfolk. I have recently signed up as a *mature student* to start a foundation degree in Early Years in September. I am very excited to get started but very aware I need to make a conscious effort to manage my time well whilst working and also ensuring we have enough family time.

I am going to be continuing with childminding 3 days a week whilst studying and also continue to run our soft play business (answer enquiries – not the heavy lifting). Active adventure Soft Play – http://www.facebook.com/softplayhirenorwich/

I really enjoy getting out and about the children and exploring nature, craft & we love messy play! We love trying out new toys and recipes.

Big A – A is now going into Year 4 at school, really into anything crafty at the moment. We have been baking, making Pom poms, trying out acrylic painting, Hama beads.

Little K – K is now going into year 1 and growing up way too quickly! She is really into flinging herself around at the moment without any fear and has now started gymnastics. K loves nothing more than to play with her babies (Annabelle’s in numerous designs and styles), Hexbugs are a big hit and she loves designing tunnels and houses for them.

Hubby – DJ Barney is now officially *blue tick* verified on Facebook. He is loving his new rounded stardom and we need to extend the door frames for his enlarged head. – Jokes aside he is doing amazingly! https://www.facebook.com/Djbarneyuk/

He and also recently started his new business venture a mobile valeter –

Luxe Auto Clean & Detailing Specialist – http://www.facebook.com/norfolkcarclean/

So that’s an update from us… I am to blog at least once a week about our goings on and about any new toys/games/days out we have found exciting 🙂

If anyone would like to contact me please do at – joysoftoys@live.com

Or head over to our Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/Joysoftoysblog/

Time for change – How do you juggle your commitments?

This week was the first week back to school & my first week in college, a week full of emotions and getting back into the swing of juggling a million things.

The girls are now in year 1 & year 4. Little K said ‘Year 1 is boring as there are no toys’ & Big A was sad as some of her friends were no longer at her school but they both survived their first week back without any injuries/illnesses 😛

Daddy and I have booked a holiday for some adult time at the end of the month in Gran Canaria. We all went away as a family to Costa Del Sol in May so the girls are going to stay at Nana’s for the week which will be great fun!

I managed to get a bargain on my travel insurance by using Top Cash Back a site where you click through it when shopping online and you claim back a percentage of the cost in the form of either bank transfer or shopping vouchers. My travel insurance came out at £6.70 for us as a couple.

Check out the site here – https://www.topcashback.co.uk/ref/rcollins91

My first day in college was long! After 6 hours in class I was exhausted, I forgot how draining sitting in class absorbing information was. With lots of reading to do for my course I’ve set myself a target of 1 hour reading a day plus extra on a Monday on my day off. I’m excited to get started on assignments and look forward to Tuesday, my next day of lessons.

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I was back to work Thursday Friday this week and enjoyed these days getting back into the swing of school runs & childminding. Toddler groups have restarted after the 6 week break so it was nice to see lots of friendly faces who we had not seen for a while.

The girls clubs have restarted too, after stopping swimming the girls have started gymnastics on a Saturday. They are both very enthusiastic as Nanny bought them both a leotard & are getting to grips with stretching etc.

Sunday is certainly our day for catching up on housework, relaxing and spending time together this week, recouping ready for our next week of excitement.

How do you juggle all of your commitments?

 

 

 

Big A’s first concert

When Little Mix announced they were coming to Earlham Park I quickly snapped up tickets for Big A & I via O2 priority moments.

Back in June we surprised her with the tickets as a birthday present she was delighted.

I was slightly apprehensive about taking her to a festival as she is only 8 however as the venue is only 5 minutes down the road I thought it was too good an opportunity to miss.

On concert day we made our way up to the park to join the queue of many thousands to get in. Unfortunately the organisers had clearly not thought this through and it took about an hour to get through ticket and bag search.

Once in we headed straight to get our faces ‘glittered’ Big A loved this at – £10 for her face & £5 for mine I felt mine was much better value.

Little Mix were fabulous and great performers however it was difficult to see as they were so far away – unless you paid for golden circle to be up close! The tv screens were also tricky to see so we ended up standing as far back as possible and had to bear piggy backs to be able to see.

A thoroughly enjoyed the concert, there wasn’t no any trouble that we saw or anyone over intoxicated ruining the atmosphere.

Exiting the concert was interesting thousands of people trying to fit through one small gate and if walking towards the road you end up in a pitch black dark field.

All in all we had fun, saw A’s favourite band and enjoyed some live music.

 

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Wins

A hobby of mine is comping – Entering prize draw entries online, Facebook, twitter, Instagram.

I started when Big A was a baby so around 7 years ago. During this time I have spent a lot of hours/days entering, researching and finding new competitions.

I mainly use Moneysavingexperts competition forum which is free and a great way of keeping track of entries.

As hubby works evenings and weekends I have lots of hours alone when the kids are in bed so whilst watching TV I click away and get entering.

Is it worth it? Yes!! In the last 7 years we have had some wonderful experiences and prizes such as :

Trip to London for me and 4 friends to meet JLS, £250 lipsy voucher each, hotel and spa.

Birthday party at Legoland Windsor including park tickets for friends and adults, party food, cake & party bags

2 x iPad mini

5 x Nexus 7

£1000 electrical items for our local community group

Festival tickets

£500 cash

Thorpe park tickets

Plus lots of smaller vouchers, toys, days out and meal vouchers.

During August I won: Festival tickets, a massive amount of camping items, an electronic toy dog, £30 TGI Fridays voucher, £20 cineworld, Dozen Krispy Kreme donuts, Korband labelling kit, Pearl drops toothpaste, Pool party birthday party for my daughter.

I am planning to blog monthly about my wins please feel free to follow me on Facebook, twitter, Instagram and give it a go yourself.

@bexallum twitter

bex_allum on Instagram

Bex Allum on Facebook

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Our trip to Kidzania

As an end of holiday treat we decided to go to Kidzania – an indoor city ran by children aged 5-12 in Westfield Shopping Centre Shepherd Bush London. The city is set up with lots of area for children to learn, role play and have a go at completing tasks and jobs in order to earn Kidzos which they can then either open a bank account or spend in the shop before leaving. The concept is really exciting, helping children understand earning money, saving and spending money wisely. Some of the areas cost you money for instance, where you can make snacks or the pet care centre and others pay you a wage.

We booked our tickets through Picniq,a money saving website where the children’s tickets were on off for half price. For the four of us we bought tickets for £65 saving £32 on the childrens tickets.

We drove down on the morning parked at the shopping centre, grabbed a Nandos and joined the queue to get our boarding passes…

When you enter Kidzania you walk through an area which is set up like an airport, with ‘passport control’&  ‘body scanner’. Everyone is given an electronic RFID tag on their wrist which is a safety measure to ensure children don’t leave the area with the wrong adult. This is also the way they measure how long you have been in the centre – you are allowed 4 hours.


Upon walking into Kidzania, you look around and see a whole village of shops, queues of children it really is magical and exciting for adults and children when looking around at a minature world. – Unfortunately we were not given a map which would have been helpful to help us navigate around. There are over 40 different areas which you can choose to take part in, some experiences lasting 5 minutes and some lasting up to 55 mins. Queues vary greatly depending on the popularity of the area, Kidzania say on average you can complete between 4-6 tasks during your 4 hour stay.

The first activity we completed was the Supermarket – two queues one for those wishing to be customers and one for those wishing to be till staff. The girls wanted to be shopkeepers. After a 45 minute wait it was their turn, the customers were given a list and shopping trolley to collect their goods and then head to the tills. The girls independently completed the transaction and gave their customer their reciept and then restocked the shelves. They then recieved their payment of 8 KidZos. This area lasted 10 minutes and the girls were then excited to explore onto the next activity.

Durning our 4 hours we managed to complete the following activities:

Pet wellbeing centre – Learning about the jobs vets do and  they then helped to look after a ‘dog’ who had swallowed a nail varnish and then worked together to help him feel better. They were also given a Lilys kitchen cat food sample as part of this activity. This activity cost them 8 KidZos.

H&M recycling – Learning about different types of fabric, which can be recycled and what materials can’t. They used a tablet to select items of clothing to put into different categories, also learning about how they reuse fabric. This activity earned 10 KidZos.

Vault – Learning to navigate the town, visiting stores to collect shop takings and bringing the money back to the vault. They also learnt how to spot a fake note under a UV light – This activity earned 8 KidZos

H&M fashion – Learning to create a complete outfit choosing clothes, accessories and dressing a manequin and then having a photo taken with their outfit (this photo can be purchased then leaving)- This activity earned 10 KidZos

Overall opinion –

The girls really enjoyed themselves and asked that we go again they loved all of the tasks and spending their money at the end in the shop independently for a little snap band or a bracelet. Little K’s favourite activity was the pet wellbring centre. Big A really enjoyed the H&M fashion activity. They really wanted to get more activities completed during their time but understood it was really busy.

The concept is amazing, teaching children about money the different roles of jobs whilst having fun at the same time. However during our time in the centre we witnessed, demotivated staff who were struggling with the footfall of children and they were lacking enthusiasm. As a childminder I love working with children but I would struggle working in such an enviroment with stroppy parents, bored children waiting long periods of time and repeating the same task over and over. When we went to the supermarket as we got to the front of the queue one of the two members of staffed was called elsewhere leaving only one member of staff who struggled to then instruct, support and engage with 6 children in the area. Overall if there were more members of staff, the work load would be less, the staff wouldn’t look so stressed and un-inspiring. Having said this the girls didn’t notice any of this, just an observation from an adult perspective. Upon leaving we visited the gift shop where you can use normal £. We wanted to buy the girls a badge to remember their trip… there wasn’t a member of staff in the area, after finding a member of staff they said they would have to call someone who works in that area… 10 minutes later a man comes running over visiably sweating, nearly tripping over on his way over to us. This poor man was our last impression of Kidzania and this just backs up how we feel regarding staffing levels. It was the summer holidays and they book you into a time slot so they must know exactly how many customers they will have on that given day. I have sent my feedback to Kidzania regarding the lack of staff and their attitudes during our visit but am yet to recieve a reply.

https://kidzania.co.uk/

https://www.picniq.co.uk – Site to save money on day trips.

Disclaimer – All of these opinions are my own.