What’s the one thing that puts you off going to the beach for a day with the kids? Wanna know what it is for me? Applying sun cream and then trying to wipe your hands in sandy towels. But I think I’ve finally found the answer with an awesome child friendly sunscreen applicator in the form of Solar Buddies. This might just be the reason we spend more days this summer on the beach. Let me share with you my Solar Buddies Review.
We were recently given the opportunity to receive a product from a company called TeacherBoards for the purpose of a review. At first, I considered something that only BattleKid could play with, but with us all trying to get to grips with Portuguese, I thought something to help us all would be more valuable. Today I’m going to tell how we are learning a new language with TeacherBoards.Continue reading ” Learning a New Language with TeacherBoards: Review”→
I recently got a lovely email from the lady behind Kent-Made to see if I’d be interested in receiving one of her wooden signs for review. Now, I’ll be honest and say I hadn’t come across Kent-Made before receiving the email but once I’d had a look on the website, I knew I wanted to collaborate with them. So, after some discussions, I waited patiently for our personalised wooden sign by Kent-Made to arrive. And to say I was thrilled to receive it would be an understatement.
Kent-Made is a company that specialises in
Custom-made wooden gifts that will be treasured for a lifetime.
Kent-Made creates laser cut wood signs and engraved wood signs which can be personalised. I asked the lady behind Kent-Made, Chantel, to tell me a little bit more about her business, why she started it and here’s what she said
I had two young children, aged 2 and 3 at the time I started Kent-Made. I really wanted to spend as much time as possible with them but I also had a real desire to get back to work, even if it was in a small capacity. With the help of my husband we decided to do this by starting up a business from home that I could hopefully grow to something full time by the time the kids were in school. I always had a passion for wood, and so I decided to do custom made gifts that would last forever!
Currently I’m working day and night, as things have picked up tremendously as of late. I’ve had to really work hard to make time for the kids. I make sure I close that workshop door and make time to just play.
It was always going to be risky starting a small business from home with two little kids running around and not going back to work where I had a guaranteed income. I wanted a flexible working environment to still spend time with Emily and Cameron and be able to call the shots as to how I run my own business. So far it’s been a great journey, hopefully Kent-Made will continue to grow!
Chantel offered us one of her custom wooden signs in return for a review. Well, I didn’t know where to start. Her website is beautifully laid out and she has so many custom-made wood signs that I was spoilt for choice. From wooden name signs of every shape and size, to wooden wedding signs that will make a lovely and unique gift, there was so much to choose from.
I eventually decided on a personalised wooden bedroom sign for BattleKid. I thought it might be the ideal item as it’s small enough to not take up too much room and would be something for him. As we live in a very small two-bedroom home, space is at a premium, so little things to make it homely are ideal.
I searched through the wooden bedroom signs and while I thought the airplane design might be the one, I got back in touch with Chantel, to see if she had a motorbike in her portfolio. I hadn’t found one on the website but thought it was no harm asking her if she could make one for our motorbike-mad son. And to my absolute delight she came back with a picture of one saying she would be happy to make it, if it fit the bill. Of course I said yes.
Chantel worked her magic and our personalised wooden name sign was soon winging its way to us.
When it finally arrived, I opened it and was thrilled with what I discovered. The sign was perfect, just what I had hoped for. It measures 22cm by 13cm and is made from 3mm plywood and was easily recognisable as a motorbike.
I waited for BattleKid to get home from school and told him to “close your eyes and hold out your hands” for a surprise. He duly did as he was told, and when he opened his eyes he was thrilled to see a wooden motorbike sign in his hands, even if he wasn’t totally sure what it was for.
He recognised his name and was soon naming the vowels in his name. For some reason his preschool teacher has been doing the vowel letters with them, so he can easily point them out.
What do I think of our personalised wooden sign by Kent-Made?
I have to say I really like it. Chantel went out of her way to create something unique for us and it wasn’t too much trouble at all. This to me speaks volumes where customer service and satisfaction are concerned. Not many larger companies would add a design to their portfolio because a customer has asked.
Secondly, the sign itself is well made, light and doesn’t feel flimsy. There is some flexibility in the sign but not enough to cause worry should little people attempt to bend it. The letters of BattleKid’s name are well formed and easy to read. And because it is light, it will stick anywhere. I also like the fact it is left unpainted and unvarnished. This means if I am brave enough I might allow BattleKid to customise it even further one day. Watch this space!
What I love about our personalised wooden sign by Kent-Made
Well-made and feels durable despite the flexibility in the sign.
Because plywood has a natural grain, all signs will look slightly different from one another to reflect this fact.
Personalised to any name, great if your children have unusual names that high-street bedrooms sign companies don’t cater for.
So many designs to choose from for all occasions.
If a design is not on the website you can get in touch with Chantel, who will be happy to work with you to create something special. Our motorbike request was no trouble at all.
Each sign comes with free shipping within the UK and international shipping is available too.
Signs are not painted or varnished meaning your little ones can customise their wooden door signs even further.
They are brilliant value-for-money at a cost of just £8.99 each (for bedroom signs).
What I don’t love about our personalised wooden sign by Kent-Made
I should point out that bedroom door signs aren’t the only personalised wooden gifts you’ll find on the Kent-Made website. There is a lovely range of laser engraved wood signs to choose from with things like personalised postcards (costing just £4.99), to wedding save-the-date cards (starting from £1.99) to Christmas decorations (priced at £4.99) and even beautiful wooden flowers (costing £5.99 each) which would make a lovely gift for anyone. I will be keeping Kent-Made in mind later in the year when I get ready to buy BattleKid’s annual personalised Christmas decoration.
I cannot recommend Kent-Made enough if you are looking for a personalised wooden door sign or a different personalised wooden gift for any occasion. And as mentioned, if what you are looking for isn’t on the website, please get in touch with Chantel via the support page of the website, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss further. She might just be able to help you find the perfect gift.
And that’s not all. Chantel is kindly offering one of my readers the chance to win their choice of Kent-Made products up to the value of £20. So if you have two children, you can easily get them a bedroom sign each! Simply follow the instructions in the widget below and good luck!
A few years ago, BattleDad and I tried, and failed, to visit the London Eye. We arrived late to the Eye and saw the length of queues and decided to try again another day. Fast forward a few years and I was going to be in London with my sisters for a concert. We had two days to fill, so we settled on a few London attractions including the London Eye. I enjoyed my first ride in it but wondered whether you could enjoy a trip on the London Eye with kids.
A short few months later, the Battle Family were in London for 36 hours before flying to America, and we decided to visit the London Eye as a family. I wasn’t too sure what BattleKid would make of it, but as it is only a 30-minute revolution, it should have been short enough for even him. I prebooked our tickets online to save any hassles and printed out our Flexi Fast Track before we left for London.
The Flexi Fast Track tickets meant we could visit at any time during the day on our chosen date and we would join the fast track queue. So, after a yummy breakfast in a café around the corner from the London Eye, we made our way around and joined the fast track queue with our printouts in hand.
The London Eye, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a giant Ferris wheel on Southbank of the River Thames. It opened in 2000 as part of the millennium celebrations and stands 443ft (135m) tall, with a wheel diameter of 394ft (120m). It is the most popular paid attraction on the UK with over 3.75 million visitors a year. And that number is growing.
The Eye has 32 sealed, air-conditioned passenger capsules which can hold up to 25 people, although the two times I’ve been, there hasn’t been 25 people in the pod. It rotates at a speed of 26cm (10 inches) per second and one complete revolution takes 30 minutes.
Despite visiting the London Eye with BattleKid at the end of the summer holidays, the fast track queue moved quite quickly. The same could not be said for the standard tickets queue. We entered our capsule, or pod, and we were off.
BattleKid was fascinated by the fact we were being chased by another pod and that we were getting higher. But the thing that grabbed his attention the most was the information tablets in the capsule. He loved switching between the day and night mode, much to my annoyance as I tried to spot various landmarks.
Although the revolution is only 30 minutes, I felt it was ample time for a toddler. And as we stepped off the capsule, BattleKid made noises about wanting to stay on. I don’t think he grasped the idea of one turn. All-in-all he enjoyed it as he was still talking about the big wheel for weeks to come.
Tips to ensure you have a successful trip to the London Eye with Kids
Plan when you want to go visit the London Eye and book your tickets in advance. This will not only save you time, but you can often save money too.
If you can afford to, book fast track tickets, especially if you plan to visit during school holidays. Both times I visited, the standard ticket queue was at least an hour long, possibly more. And no one wants to queue for that long with kids in the holidays.
Ensure you arrive well before your allotted time if you book Fast Track tickets. Flexi Fast Track tickets allow you to arrive at any time on your chosen date.
Ensure everyone in your party has visited the toilets before you queue as there are no toilets on or at the London Eye. The toilets are located in the Coco Cola London Eye ticket office, as well as a disabled toilet and baby changing facilities.
If you are bringing a buggy or stroller, it must be completed collapsible and kept folded throughout the duration of your visit. I’d suggest using a baby carrier or sling if visiting the London Eye with a baby.
No food and drink, apart from drinking water, is permitted inside the capsules.
There is one bench inside each capsule, and seating is on a first-come-first-served basis.
While the London Eye is wheelchair accessible, only two wheelchairs are permitted in each pod, and only eight are allowed on the Eye at any one time. It is highly advisable to prebook tickets in advance if your party includes a wheelchair user.
Other information to note before visiting the London Eye with Kids
The London Eye is open every day of the year except Christmas Day from 11am until 6pm.
Fast Track London Eye tickets cost £36 per adult and £31 per child, allowing entry to the London Eye at a specific time slot.
Flexi Fast Track tickets for the London Eye cost £40 per adult and £30 per child and are only available for purchase online. These allow you entry at any time on a specific date.
Capsules are available for private hire for 3-25 guests and there is also a champagne experience available if you fancy something special.
You can also purchase combination tickets which allow entry to the London Eye and certain other atttractions in London including Sea Life, Madame Tussauds and Shrek’s Adventure, ideal if you’re making a day of it in London with the kids.
We visited the London Eye before heading into Sea Life and I was surprised that BattleKid enjoyed it as much as he did. He liked watching the boats going past on the river, and of course, the information tablets, and he didn’t complain once. Except when we were getting off, and he didn’t want to. So, yes, a visit to the London Eye is even suitable for toddlers. And, by taking into account some of the tips I’ve mentioned, you can have a successful visit to the London Eye with kids.
*We were not asked to write this review. Prices are correct at the time of writing this post (February 2018).
Those of you who have read our USA Road Trip Holiday Diaries will know that we visited the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, or OMSI as it is known, while we were in Portland. This had been recommended to us and was on our Portland Bucket List. In this post I’ms haring with you our visit to OMSI as well as some useful information should you plan a visit there yourself.
The day after we arrived in Portland we decided to head there. I was quite excited as I had found out they had a Pompeii Exhibition on at the time of our visit to OMSI. BattleDad is a huge fan of Roman History and we’d love to visit Pompeii at some stage so to see the exhibition was an unexpected bonus. Our only reservation for our visit to OMSI was whether BattleKid would enjoy it. We need not have worried.
OMSI was founded in 1944 and was originally located in Washington Park at the site of the Portland Children’s Museum. However, as visitor number grew, and exhibitions got bigger, a new location was found for it on the east bank of the Willamette River.
The OMSI building is huge and houses no less than 3 auditoriums, a planetarium and numerous exhibition halls. They also have a submarine exhibit in the form of USS Blueback which was used for the film The Hunt for Red October before being towed to its current location at the pier adjacent to the main OMSI building.
Exhibition halls include the Featured Hall for special touring exhibits and the Turbine hall with exhibits for engineering, physics, chemistry and space travel. There is also the Life Sciences Hall which is all about biology, and includes talks and demonstrations with live animals. The Earth Science Hall features geology-oriented exhibits with two specialised laboratories. The Planetarium holds astronomy and laser light shows. And there is the Science Playground which we spent the most time in.
We arrived shortly after 9.30am after driving from our hotel and once we’d bought our tickets for the Pompeii Exhibition (including museum admission) and planetarium tickets, we made our way to the café for a quick cuppa and bite to eat. There I had my very first peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which was quite nice.
After we had eaten, we made our way upstairs to explore the exhibitions halls. As soon as we entered this area, BattleKid made a beeline for some giant cubes and dived right in. He and I had great fun at a giant pinball machine which was designed to educate children about food groups. Although he was too young to understand these, he still had fun trying to whack the balls!
There were exhibits about recycling and garbage, exhibits about animals where we saw a Dire Wolf skeleton and saw live animals, and my personal favourite, an exhibit about fluorescent materials. This brought me back to my science background.
Next, we moved onto the Science Playground. And BattleKid had a whale of a time in the Science Playground. This area has been designed for families with newborn to children of six years of age. Fully enclosed and designed so that children are visible and secure at all times, it encourages children to discover through play and imagination. It has various experimental stations including
a stimulating infant area
a giant sandbox
a water area
a reading area and
a physical sciences area.
First stop was the water area of course. Only, we hadn’t quite planned for the wet floor. We had to take BattleKid’s shoes off as we entered but forgot to take his socks off. Wet feet were the result for spending so much time having splashy fun in the water area. It also meant he couldn’t really go into the giant sandbox as his feet were still wet and I didn’t fancy trying to get sand off his feet!
Next BattleKid had fun at the physical sciences area and was playing with other children, putting balls through holes and down ramps.
We moved into one of the rooms off the main one and he and I did a fun game with magnetic balls in a maze. I ended finishing it when he got bored!
As were we getting close to our 12pm time for the astronomy show in the planetarium, we had to drag BattleKid away from the Science Playground. This was the first time BattleDad had been in a planetarium and he and I enjoyed it. It was great being shown some of the star constellations we can see above our house in Portugal, although I couldn’t tell you their names, apart from the Plough now. BattleKid got a bit restless before the end but stuck it out thankfully.
After the stars show we made our way to the Pompeii Exhibition. They allowed entry at timed intervals, which was to allow them to show the short video at the start of the exhibition. This gave some background about Vesuvius and Pompeii and the build up to that fateful night in 79AD.
Once you had watched the video, you were let into one of the main exhibition halls which featured artefacts from Pompeii including urns, gladiator clothing and weapons, mosaics and frescoes. Between this hall and a second one, there were over 200 artefacts on loan from the Naples National Archaeological Museum.
It was amazing to see how well preserved some of the items were and the level of detail in them, particularly metalworks such as jewellery and coins. After the main hall, we were led upstairs where there was another short video. However, it was advised that it was unsuitable for young children and we were allowed to skip this video and were let into the next exhibition hall by a member of staff. #
The video we didn’t see was a 4D one in which you could experience the fury of Vesuvius in an immersive theatre with vivid sights, sounds and shaking ground. I think it was very helpful of OMSI to allow families with younger children to skip this part.
The last room of the exhibition had more artefacts and also body casts of people from Pompeii. It was a sobering place, especially seeing the body casts of children. We didn’t stay long in this room with BattleKid.
Before we finished our visit to OMSI we visited the gift shop which is well stocked, and BattleKid got a little space ship souvenir with his name on it for his room. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to OMSI and highly recommend it. Had we known how good the Science Playground was going to be we might have booked a later showing in the planetarium and let BattleKid enjoy it even more. I am so glad it was recommended to us and made it onto our Portland Bucket List.
Visitor information for OMSI
There is a large car park adjacent to the OMSI building with a charge of $5. WE were there early on a Wednesday morning in September and there was plenty of parking.
OMSI is served by public transport. The OMSI/SE Water Ave Station connects to the MAX, bus and Portland Streetcar lines.
The museum is open from 9.30 to 5.30 Tuesday to Sunday. It is closed on Mondays.
The café is open from 8.30 to 5.30 Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday and from 8.30 to 8.00 on Friday and Saturdays.
Submarine tours are from 9.50 to 4.30 and you can even do sleep overs!
Entry to the museum costs $14.50 for an adult and $9.75 for a child (3-13 years).
Entry to the submarine costs $6.75. For the Empirical Theatre, which we didn’t go to, an adult costs $7-8.50 and a child is $6-6.50. Entry to the Planetarium costs between $5.75 and $7.50.
We can highly recommend visiting OMSI if you are ever in Portland, Oregon. There is plenty to see and do for children and adults alike. Children will particularly like the Science Playground, so give yourself plenty of time in there.