New Episodes & A New Line For Project MC2

Project Mc² is back on Netflix UK with new episodes, and an accompanying new product line based on the Netflix series.

If you aren’t familiar with Project Mc², it’s a series about a team of six super-smart girls who use their love of science and spy skills to undertake missions for a top-secret, all female organization called NOV8 – or innovate – to us less acronym savvy.

The six main characters are McKeyla McAlister (Mc2), Adrienne Attoms (A2), Camryn Coyle (C2), Bryden Bandweth (B2), Ember Evergreen (E2) and Devon D’Marco (D2), and each girl has an area of speciality. McKeyla is a spy, Adrienne is a culinary chemist, Camryn is a whizz with electronics, Bryden is the online guru of the group, Ember can grow pretty much anything and Devon is an artist extraordinaire who opens up to the group in this latest series.  Each girl ticks at least one of the STEM/STEAM boxes, many tick more, and while their interests are varied, they make a great time when they work together.
Project MC2

In the new episodes and old character returns, and the girls have to use their smarts to not only save him and save the day, but there’s romantic progress for McKeyla and Kyle Lewis too.

While the show throws out big words from time to time (mostly chemicals) there’s not a huge amount of education that happens just from watching it, and a lot just ‘works out’ for the characters, but it’s a series aimed at young girls, so you have to watch it with that filter. While I still find the girls a bit vapid-with-smarts, they’re much more interesting and much better role models for girls than many other traditional girl stereotypes I can think of.

There are some general themes that make it worth watching, if you were doing it for entertainment only, like the introduction to the concept of girls-who-love-STEM/STEAM, the value of teamwork, standing by your friends and standing up for yourself. There’s also the ‘girls can do this’ idea, which isn’t bad to start reinforcing from a young age.Read more: New Episodes & A New Line For Project MC2

Goodbye To Breastfeeding – 8 Years A Breastfeeder

Ameli was born in October 2009 and aside from a single prenatal class on breastfeeding, the sum total of my thought and planning on the subject of breastfeeding was “we’d best get in some formula, just in case”. I hadn’t considered “in case of what?” I certainly didn’t plan on becoming an active breastfeeding advocate.

Breastfeeding at one hour old

As it turned out I fell in love with breastfeeding Ameli. It was so easy with her. We ended up doing a lot of things we’d never considered. The nursery remained unused as we coslept, the pram was sold in favour of a variety of slings. We travelled to 20 different countries in her first two years, and breastfeeding was just the simplest solution to everything from hunger to pink eye, comfort to ear infections. Breastfeeding worked for us. So well in fact that I had huge oversupply and ended up donating breastmilk to AIDS babies for the six months we lived in South Africa.

Breastfeeding did more for me than feed my baby. It led me to an entire tribe of mothers who were in many ways just like me. I stopped going to groups where people looked at you weirdly because you were still feeding a two year old and the first time I sat in a group of other mothers breastfeeding their toddlers, I cried, because I felt like I’d finally arrived home. Perth Nurse In 2013Read more: Goodbye To Breastfeeding – 8 Years A Breastfeeder

Dear Girls, Choose What’s Right For You

Dear Girls*

I want to tell you something about this world I brought you into and I want you to remember that it’s love that brought you here. Love, and destiny, maybe, or purpose. For some reason, it was you that made it earthside. Here’s the thing I want you to know about this world:

No matter what you do, it will be wrong to someone. So whatever you do, do it because it’s right for you.

I know that I am doing the best I can in raising you. I know that I’m trying to teach you to have manners at the table, and to run barefoot through the woods. I am trying to teach you to play nicely with others, and to hold your hand up and say “stop” when others aren’t playing nicely with you. I am trying to teach you to sit like a lady and to run screaming through the woods howling like a banshee. I’m trying to teach you to clean your ears and brush your teeth and I’m also trying to teach you to camp with no ablutions for a long weekend and come out from the trees looking like a feral wolf.in-the-eyeRead more: Dear Girls, Choose What’s Right For You

NumNoms Advent – Our Month Of NumNoms #NumNomsAdvent

As any fan of NumNoms will know, they don’t have an official advent calendar, so when they sent us an Advent box… well, the kids were beside themselves! The NumNoms Advent box was a large box with individually wrapped presents including some sweet treats, Christmas paraphernalia, NumNoms blind bags (boxes) and most importantly NumNoms sets and the brand new to the market little gift for Christmas day.

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Our first NumNom was a one of the lipgloss variety. Avi (4) walked around spreading lipgloss on her lips 10 times an hour all day long. She now also really wants the lipgloss truck. We’ll have to see what Santa can do*.

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We started off doing little YouTube clips for every days unboxing, but as the festivities became more intense we had to give it up. Here’s a little taster of the contents of our NumNoms Advent though!

But you can see in this little Instagram clips how excited they were:

And a little later in the month:

The NumNoms Advent calendar was a hit for us and definitely got us in the mood for a Christmas filled with excitement!
*Santa couldn’t do it. When we went to the local toyshop on Christmas Eve (yes, we only have one) they were sold out. Hey ho.

Dear Santa, We Won’t Be Sending You Wishlists Again

I’d be hard pressed to accept being called a scrooge when it comes to Christmas. From the 1st of December I throw myself heart and soul into it and aside from a few tough years there, we’re back on track. Last year we had three advent calendars on the go for each child (Lego/Playmobil, Book Advent and chocolate!) and this year we’ve make a big song and dance about advent, with everything from interactive movie nights to Christmas Tree Festivals to tea with Disney Princesses. We go all out and end with a lovely (hopefully) Christmas Day.
This year we did something different and new: I had each child write or dictate their Christmas letter to Santa, filled with everything their little hearts desired. This is something I will never do again.

Admittedly, previous years the children were smaller, but they also had TV which exposed them to more advertising than they have now with Amazon Firestick (no advertising) or Netflix (little to no advertising). Of course, in previous years they’ve still mentioned things they wanted, but it’s never been a formalised list, and this year, with this list looming at me from under the Christmas tree, I feel thoroughly deflated, because I know that there’s no way I could possibly provide everything on it, so it feels like I’m a failure as a parent, and I am already awaiting their disappointment come Christmas day (actually, I’m not – I told them straight out that they wouldn’t be getting everything on the list!) but they still have hope!

Ameli’s (7) list included a bunch of toys she’s obviously seen on YouTube, including the £59.99 Hatchimal (are you kidding me?) and a new camera since the battery on hers has stopped charging.  There’s a request for some Dan TDM books (the girl is obsessed), so I’ve happily obliged and was pleased to find them reduced on Amazon. Bonus.Read more: Dear Santa, We Won’t Be Sending You Wishlists Again

Sale Shopping With Lovethesales

I don’t know about you, but shopping with kids can be a nightmare at the best of times, never mind when they’re drowning in coats and scarves. Being able to shop online makes a huge difference to the trauma of high street shopping! Which is where websites that bring together all the sales across the internet in one place really come into their own. Never have to hop from site

But internet shopping has its down sides too – you know when you’ve seen something great, but then look somewhere else to compare, get distracted by Facebook, and then come back and can’t remember where you saw it in the first place? Now you never have to hop from site to site again! Shop the high street end to end as Lovethesales.com has brands from over 500 retailers across the UK with over 500,000 sales for you to choose from including fashion, homeware, electronics, outdoor and a kid’s section.

And with Christmas slowly creeping up on us (as it always does), there’s plenty of reason to shop the sales. If you’re looking to get the kids presents done early this year then browse Lovethesales.com’s fabulous kids section which is brimming with hidden gems – there are over 10,000 items currently on sale in the Boys, Girls & Baby/Nursery categories alone.Read more: Sale Shopping With Lovethesales

Parenting In Tough Times

We all go through tough things sometimes – from a  prolonged period of unemployment to death of someone close to us, bad things happen. For parents, that can be especially hard.

parenting-in-tough-times-cover-jpegAnyone paying attention will know that the last few years have been incredibly hard for me. A bad pregnancy, tough things happened in my marriage, terminal illness, death, isolation – it’s been a tough few years. I don’t often talk about it, but when I do, people always ask me how I’ve made it through, and when I tell them, they all say the same thing:

You should write a book!

Well, I have. It’s a short book – only 51 pages, because I know that when you’re going through hard things, and you barely feel able to breathe, the last thing you need is a book that that’s heavier than the feeling in your chest. What you need is practical, simple, step-by-step hand holding. And Parenting in Tough Times is that – I see it as a guide to setting out buoys in a stormy sea. Buoys are invaluable when you’re trying to keep afloat.
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This book – currently only available as an eBook – is available for Kindle from Amazon or as a printable PDF from Gumroad

If you’d like to be notified when the paper version is ready for sale, pop your email in here – don’t worry I won’t use it for anything else!

5 Ways Busy Parents Forget to Take Care of Themselves

We take care of our little ones and in doing so we forget about ourselves. Sound familiar? It’s true. And it manifests itself in some funny and not so funny ways. Half of UK parents polled said they often forget to apply sunscreen on themselves, even while they remember to apply it on their children.

But parents neglect ourselves all the time, not just when it comes to sunscreen application. The following are five ways that parents frequently put ourselves on the backburner, and the harm that can come about as they do so.

Put personal friendships on hold

You used to hang out every week, but now times with friends seem more like a distant memory. Some extent of this is natural and can be expected as a new parent, but be careful that this doesn’t turn into a habit. Friendships provide you with emotional support to weather difficult life events. In all the busyness of being a parent, hold on to those friendships that matter to you. Even if you need to take it down a notch for a while, don’t shut that door entirely. Explain your current situation to your friends. Don’t let them guess at why you aren’t hanging out anymore.

Forget to go to the dentistdentist-1025338_960_720

Read more: 5 Ways Busy Parents Forget to Take Care of Themselves

Six Family Friendly Winter Activities In Tenerife

If you’re anything like me, the idea of snug snowy winters is a lot more appealing than the reality of grey days and rain. There’s so much hope in knowing that come the worst of January, you have a little mini escape planned, and with a little foresight and planning you won’t even need to fork out too much for it after Christmas, since you can book and pay for it well before!

But where to go? Well, there are many choices, obviously, but a good one for families is a sunny break in Tenerife. With January temperatures around 18C or 19C, it’s pleasantly warm and an ideal destination that’s not too far away.

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Read more: Six Family Friendly Winter Activities In Tenerife

The Feel Brave Series – Helping Children Cope With Big Emotions {Book Reviews}

We’ve recently been reading The Feel Brave Series, a series of books by Avril McDonald that deals with the big emotions and experiences of childhood in a friendly, kind, but honest way.

There are a few things in this series of books that I would just repeat if I said them about each book, so let me first say this about the series as a whole:

The books are beautifully illustrated. I’m new to the work of Tatiana Minina, but I do hope we see her in more stories. The bright, bold images really bring the story to life – scary characters aren’t frightful, and little touches like a wolf surround by hearts as he runs up the hill feeling loved gives it a game-like feeling of movement through the images. Absolutely lovely.IMG_20160705_133949

The Feel Brave series by Avril McDonald is a collection of five picture books for children aged 4-7 but I’d wager there’s movement around that and that even older and younger children will be drawn to the images, the hypnotic rhyming langauge and the themes covered in the stories. The books are designed to help children explore positive psychology and emotional intelligence in a safe and non-threatening way and all the while reading them I kept thinking about this quote:

Fairy tales do not tell children that monsters exist.
Children already know that monsters exist.
Fairy tales tell children that monsters can be killed.

The Wolf is Not Invited

In the first book, The Wolf is Not Invited, we are introduced to the characters Wolfgang and Catreen who are best friends. A new friends comes along and Catreen is lured away, leaving Wolfgang broken-hearted – a moment every parent has experienced their own heart break! Catreen soon realises that her new friend isn’t all she thought she was, and comes back to find Wolfgang, but he, in the meantime, has met another friend. Tears fall, forgiveness comes, and soon all three are playing together, before Wolfgang’s new friend leaves, and Catreen and Wolfgang are back together again.

It’s a sweet story with a hopeful ending, though not always how things work out in real life, so it does lend itself to further discussion on how we can handle it if our friends don’t come back!Read more: The Feel Brave Series – Helping Children Cope With Big Emotions {Book Reviews}