It’s Vac-Man – A Review!

Everyone knows about Stretch Armstrong don’t they? That toy man who you could stretch out? He’s a bit retro as he was around when I was a kid… my brother had one in the late 70’s and into early 80’s! But Stretch has made a comeback in recent years for this generation to enjoy! He has proved incredibly popular and so the makers, Character, have added new toys to the range including Stretch Armstrong’s arch nemesis Vac-Man!

new vac man

All the toys have been given a facelift and update for the 21st Century, but they are still the nostalgic toys that everyone knows and loves.

My twin boys were so excited to have Vac-Man delivered to us for a review! We have Stretch Armstrong already who they enjoy playing with so they couldn’t wait to see what Vac-man was like! Even though he has lots of similarities to Stretch in terms of size and the ability to be pulled and stretched to 4 times his original size…….

vac man toy

…. he FEELS very different! Instead of having a soft goey feel to his body like Stretch, he has a knobbly feel with tiny little round pieces inside, but he is still soft! Until you take the air out of him! And that’s the special feature of Vac-Man (hence the name!)….. he comes with a vacuum which you attach to a socket on his head. This enables all the air to be sucked out of him, causing him to go almost rigid!

vac man toy

You can then move him into different positions, as though he has poseable limbs! Also if you stretch him out and then vacuum out the air, he won’t bounce back as soon as you let go of him, like Stretch Armstrong. Vac-Man will stay stretched!

My boys had fun seeing how far he would stretch!

vac man toys

Pump out the air and pull him into any pose you can think of, then simply release the valve and watch him return to his normal state. This was hilarious to my kids, they had Vac-Man posing in all kinds of positions!

All of my kids have enjoyed messing around with him…. and being quite a heavy toy, my older Teen even got involved as he is much stronger and could stretch and pose Vac-Man into even more weird and daft poses… much to the younger ones delight!

There are a few more Stretch toys in the range and my boys definitely want to collect them all… including Octopus and Fetch!

Vac-Man retails at around £29.99 from all good toy retailers and is aimed at kids from 5+… why not check him out, as well as the other toys in the range at Character Online.

How Much Effort Should You Put into Finding a School for Your Child?

When you’re looking for a suitable school for your child, it’s crucial to put a lot of effort into this exercise. This is the place that will often determine how successful your child becomes in later years. Below are some of the things you can do to find the best school for your child’s requirements.

Carry Out Some Online Research

The internet and the latest mobile technologies have made it much easier for modern parents to research schools and to find out more about them. All of the leading schools in the UK have an online presence and provide a lot of information about the school itself, its history, its facilities, and much more.

For example, if you are thinking about sending your child to a private school in Essex, Colchester High School has a professional website that includes the information you need to know about this particular school. Having a comprehensive online presence like this is a clear indication that a school is serious about the way it deals with parents and students.

Find Out About the Schools Reputation from Parents

Carrying out some online research is a great starting point, but you should delve a bit deeper and find out more about a particular school from people who have already had experience with that school.

You can do this by talking to parents of current pupils and past pupils of the school. These people will tell you about the good points and divulge what the bad points are. Based on this information, you can make a much more informed decision about whether or not to send your child to a certain school.

Talk to Teacher and the School Prinicipal

The people who work in a school you are researching are another important group of individuals you should approach and question thoroughly until you get the answers you want. The principal of the school and its teachers should be able to answer your questions and address your concerns, in person or via email or telephone. If this does not happen or you’re not satisfied with their responses, it may be time to look at another school for your son or daughter.

Don’t Settle for the First School You Research

Don’t be too hasty when choosing a school for your child. Most parents have a wide range of options, so you should never settle for the first school you research. By visiting a number of different schools, you will be able to determine what the advantages and disadvantages of each school are and make a more informed decision about which school is the best environment for your child.

The more effort you put into finding an appropriate school, the more likely it is that you will find the perfect school for your child. This effort may take some time, but it will ensure that your child is happier and performs better in the school you eventually select for them.

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The Wind in the Willows – Opening Night in the West End

We were incredibly lucky recently to have bagged an invite to a very exciting event…. it was the opening night of a brand new West End Musical… The Wind in the Willows!

I decided to take my daughter along and we’d been looking forward to it ever since we’d been invited… it was going to be a late finish so I didn’t take my twins along as I was worried about bedtime with school the next day… but after watching it I REALLY wish I’d taken them because it was absolutely brilliant!

We loved it so much and I know my boys would’ve loved it too! But maybe it’s a blessing because this means I will have to go and see it again sometime very soon ;)

When we arrived at The London Palladium, even though I knew it was opening night, I had no idea it was going to be a full on red carpet event! There had been previews all week so I thought maybe all the press would’ve already been… but no.. they were totally out in force! There was a sea of photographers and film crews at one end, with a red carpet walkway at the other where one celebrity after another were stepping out of flash cars, dressed to impress and posing for photo’s! It was all very exciting!

Here’s a video taken from The Wind in the Willows website giving an insight into the magnitude of the event, plus a little glimpse at some of the action from the show….

I have to admit to being a little star struck, especially when we saw the writer of the show, Julian Fellowes, who created and wrote the whole Downton Abbey sensation! He was literally standing in front of me at one point. I would’ve loved a ‘selfie’ with him, along with each and every one of the guests, but luckily I had my very sensible daughter with me to reign me in a bit!

In the row directly behind us in the auditorium was actor Kevin Kennedy, who played Curly Watts in Coronation Street back in the day! He was with his wife and daughters and they were all super lovely, chatting to us before the show started. I’d wanted to buy some chocolate for my daughter but the kiosk had closed, so Kevin offered up some of the chocolate his kids had. So generous and sweet!

It was a full house by the time the show was about to start and we absolutely couldn’t wait!

the wind in the willows

Right from the start you warm to the characters. We are first introduced to Mole (Craig Mather) and Ratty (Simon Lipkin) who have a very cute friendship. Mole wants to go off and explore the forest but he is rather naive so Ratty reluctantly offers to go with him! Then we meet Mrs Otter, played by the wonderful Denise Welsh, who is always looking for her wayward daughter! Denise keeps her lovely North East twang for this role and she was definitely one of the standout performers for me! Toad (Rufus Hound) explodes into the stage in true Toad’s extravagant fashion… I think he was everyone’s favourite.. funny, larger than life and colourful. Gary Wilmot as Badger was wonderful… he is a musical theatre legend! But I have to admit to being completely drawn into the character of baddie Chief Weasel played by the brilliant Neil McDermott…. I couldn’t take my eyes off him! His portrayal was flawless…. sneaky and naughty… his facial expressions, singing and dancing were absolutely on point! Loved him!

the wind in the willows london palladium

The Wind in the Willows is a riotous comedy which follows the impulsive Mr Toad whose insatiable need for speed lands him in serious trouble. With his beloved home under threat from the notorious Chief Weasel and his gang of sinister Wild Wooders, Toad must attempt a daring escape leading to a series of misadventures and a heroic battle to recapture Toad Hall.

Featuring eye-poppingly beautiful design, exuberant choreography and a gloriously British score, The Wind in the Willows brings an explosion of anarchy, humour and heart to the famous London Palladium!

the wind in the willows musical

the wind in the willows london palladium

the wind in the willows

The Wind in the Willows is only running for a short time so please make sure you catch it over the summer. It’s a perfect show for families and children will absolutely love it!

To find out more visit the website for tickets!

 

The Lego Batman DVD & Toys Launch Party

A little while ago we headed into London early on a Saturday morning for a very special event! My kids like a lie in at the weekend so if they say they’re up for getting up early, then it must be for something REALLY good!

The Oxo Tower on the South Bank was the exact location…. the weather was beautiful and no matter how many times we’ve hung out on the South Bank, we still love to just admire the views!

South Bank London

The launch party was with non other than Warner Bros. and Lego, to celebrate the release of the Lego Batman moDVD. We saw the Lego Batman Movie at the cinema and absolutely loved it, it’s absolutely brilliant. So this was very exciting! We also got a sneaky peak at the brand new Lego Batman toys to accompany the release!

There are big toys and figures, as well as amazing new costumes!

lego batman toys

The Lego Batman building sets are just stunning, as you would expect! Some were all laid out on a table and my twins were admiring them closely! Some of their favourites being…

The Two Face Double Demolition set…

lego batman movie toys

lego batman toys

The Batwing….

lego batman toys

lego batman

And the Ultimate Batmobile….

There was lots of fun to be had at the launch party. Games, dressing up and meeting some characters from the movie! Hook a duck proved fun AND productive…. my kids won lots of Lego goodies which meant of course they wanted to go back for more…..

hook a duck

Rubbing shoulders with Batman and Batgirl…..

And enjoying lots of yummy food, including ice cream!

We had a great morning, the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves and were very lucky to receive a goodie bag upon leaving which included some more Lego Batman sets AND the DVD! Awesome!

Thank you so much Warner Bros and Lego :)

Win a 3 Months Subscription to Smartick

Maths is one of those subjects that just doesn’t come easy to some kids. It can be challenging and can really knock a child’s confidence when they continually ‘don’t get it’. If we’re not careful, as parents and teachers, and help our children as much as we can, they could slip into that downward spiral of assuming they’re simply not good at maths and therefore not try. We need to encourage them to believe that they CAN do it, even if they have to practice that little bit more.

I recently read some research that found ALL children can succeed at Maths… but they all learn in different ways and these differences need tapping into. There’s far too much emphasis on speed and calculation, whereas some children have deeper thought processes which too much testing and a lack of that personal feel can make maths become lifeless and boring. But with a bit of creativity, children can be much more engaged.

That’s why we are loving the Smartick Method which we have been using at home for the past few months. Read my previous post about how my young 7 year old son was struggling and how I thought Smartick was helping. It’s a great resource for kids maths, unlike anything else out there, and I can honestly say it’s really boosted my son’s confidence in his abilities.

smartick method maths kids education

Here at Mummy Endeavours. I’m giving away a three month subscription to Smartick so you can try it at home with your child…. I absolutely know he/she will enjoy it and reap the rewards at school!

To enter, please fill in the Gleam widget below…..

Mummy Endeavours – Win 3 Months Subscription to Smartick

 

Best of luck.

Three questions to ask when buying a Family Car

choosing a new car top tips

A new set of wheels is a big deal, and when it comes to your family, you want to make sure you’re buying something safe, economical and long-lasting. Purchasing a car on your own is daunting, and women, in particular, are often targeted by unscrupulous dealers and salesmen looking to unload faulty or unsellable vehicles. When it’s time for a new vehicle, then these are just three simple questions you need to ask to make sure you get a car that’s right for you.

  1. How safe is it?

Safety is the number-one priority when it comes to purchasing a new car. The latest driver assistance technologies have the potential to save thousands of lives on our roads. Look for technologies such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), which uses sensors to identify road hazards and can slow and even stop vehicles before a collision; electronic stability control (ESC) which activates when a driver loses control of a car in an accident, and lane-keep assist, which warns drivers when they stray outside their lane. As well as new technologies, vehicles should also include curtain airbags, which will protect you and your children from a side-impact crash and reduce driver death by nearly 40 percent.

  1. How big is it?

Chances are, if you’re a busy parent with several children, then your car needs lots of space! Between taking little ones to sports, supermarket shopping, prams and trips away, a hatchback or sedan just isn’t going to cut it. As how big the boot space is if it isn’t listed, both with the back seats up and down. A ‘big’ boot with the backseat up is considered anything over 500 litres and should be plenty of space for a busy family. It also pays to look at whether you need a five-seater or seven-seater car. Numerous large SUV models have an optional two seats in the back seat, which is ideal if you sometimes carpool or drive children’s friends or relations around but don’t necessarily require a van for day-to-day use.

  1. How much fuel does it use?

A car may seem cheap up front, but turn out to be a huge expense with a large, inefficient engine. Ask the owner or salesman about its fuel rating. If they’re a commercial dealer and don’t know, then that’s a red flag and suggests they don’t know a huge amount about their own cars. You can also check a car’s fuel consumption online. Remember that petrol will be an ongoing expense, so if you’re tossing up between several models with similar safety features and size requirements, then choose the one with the lowest fuel consumption – this will save you the most money in the long run.

You don’t have to learn everything there is to know about cars to when it’s time to purchase your next family vehicle. If you’re concerned about getting a cost-effective, safe vehicle for your family, then it’s worth looking at online websites featuring cars for sale, such as Auto Trader, which will clearly display all the relevant information you need, allowing you to make an informed choice.

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Timeless Toy Story with Thinkway Toys

toy story

The Toy Story films are so dearly loved in our household. Not only do the children love them, but they’re films that I, as an adult, could happily sit and watch over and over again!

I remember when we went to see Toy Story 3 at the cinema….  I had the twins but they were babies at the time, so we took my Teen, who would’ve been 11 and my Girl who was 5. Can you believe that was way back in 2010 when it was released? It doesn’t seem that long ago at all…. but I literally cried my eyes out at the end. That part when the toys all hold hands in the furnace, accepting their fate, then right at the end when Andy takes the toys to the little girl’s house and drives off…. all grown up and going to college! It really got me!

That scene has even more meaning to me now, with Teen being 18 and all grown up himself. I can’t watch it without becoming incredibly emotional.

Teen has grown up with Toy Story you see. The first one was released in 1995, to critical acclaim. I remember the hype as it was the first feature length computer animated film ever made. At the time I didn’t have children but a few years later my friend lent me the video (ha remember them?!) to watch with Teen when he was a toddler and I was just blown away by it…. everything about it was utterly brilliant. The fantastic storyline, the life like, amazing animation and the fantastically witty script.

My little baby boy was immediately hooked!

My Girl loves all 3 of the Toy Story films too, as do my twins now, and we’ve watched the original, plus the subsequent ones, repeatedly. We never, EVER tire of them…. each one as good as the last… they really are timeless!

This week, we were sent a very special parcel from B&M Stores who have collaborated with Thinkway Toys, producers of some of the best Disney toys, as they thought it would be lovely to send us some goodies to enjoy a family movie night together, watching the original Toy Story movie!

Our parcel included two of Thinkway Toys’ best loved Characters…. Buzz Lightyear and Woody… my Twins were overjoyed!

woody and buzz lightyear toys from thinkwat toys

Thinkway Toys is a Canadian-based company responsible for creating, producing and distributing creative and innovative high quality toys. They’ve produced toys for companies including Disney, Pixar, Universal and Warner Brothers since the early nineties. Licensed properties include the Toy Story films, WALL-E, Monsters, Inc., A Bug’s Life, The Incredibles, Cars 2, Despicable Me 2, Minions, Wreck-it Ralph, Planes, Spider-Man, The Avengers, The Dark Knight, and the Star Wars saga.

Our parcel also included the Toy Story DVD, a lovely cosy blanket and a brilliant ‘movie night’ snack box!

B and M stores movie night

I’m not sure we’ve ever owned the original Toy Story film on DVD so it was great to receive this! The kids couldn’t wait to watch it. All my children, including Teen, headed up to my bedroom to watch and the twins snuggled up under the lovely, soft blanket which costs only £9.99 at B&M Stores… such a bargain!

cosy blanket toy story

We grabbed the Butterkist Movie Night snackbox which included 2 bags of popcorn and a fantastic selection of sweeties and they all fought over who had what, in a nice way of course! But there’s loads to choose from so they were all happy with what they got. I think this is a great idea for a product and the children got really excited by it!

It was great watching the Toy Story film… it really is such a classic. We know all the words and it’s such a nice easy watch! I can’t imagine there being anyone in existence that hasn’t seen the original at some point… but if you haven’t, you really must!

Thinkway Toys produce some amazing toys….. I actually have to admit to having the original Buzz Lightyear and Woody that belonged to Teen when he was a little boy. We also have Jesse, who joined the cast in Toy Story 2… she belongs to my daughter!

IMG_1089

They are brilliantly robust toys and certainly built to last but as you can imagine, they are a little old now (we must’ve had them around 15 years) so having these brand spanking new Buzz and Woody’s arrive has been wonderful!

We haven’t sat down and watched a film all together for a long time so a huge thank you to B&M Stores for putting together this lovely, thoughtful parcel for us. It’s important to make time as a family and having the little treats to go with watching a film makes it feel like a proper event!

There is a brand new Toy Story movie in production… Toy Story 4…. which will be released in the summer of 2019! How ridiculously exciting? Can’t wait. So this parcel really is getting us in the mood already for that…. I’m sure come 2019 there will be huge Toy Story mania across the globe as everyone rushes out to see the next instalment!

It’s a long way off yet but…. in the meantime… I’m hosting a Twitter Party, along with a few other Bloggers, next Tuesday, 27th June 1-2pm… where we will be talking about all things Toys! We would love you to join in with us if you can… using the hashtag #imathinkingtoy and there will be B&M vouchers up for grabs too.. so keep your eyes out for that!

ToyStoryMPU

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