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Last minute Christmas cramming: unisex gifts for any child

Last minute Christmas cramming: unisex gifts for any child

Ok peeps. We’re officially in count down mode. Five days until Christmas. This time of year I think that there are two types of people. Those who had their presents bought, wrapped and under the tree a month ago, and those who will be purchasing right at the last minute. Whilst I thought I was doing well, I find myself much like a student who crams for their exam at the last minute. I’ve got an incomplete list!

So if you find yourself in a similar position, and need to grab some gifts for your little ones, I thought I’d share four of my favourite gift ideas that you could buy for any boy or girl. Unisex, these gifts include some that I’ve purchased for my own children. They can be purchased at stores, all you need to do is head to their website and look for stockists!

  1. Micro Scooters

Micro Scooters Micro Scooters

Hands down, the best scooters in town. An investment yes, but one that you will never regret. The best quality, they will simply love them! For stockists head to their website here:

https://www.microscooters.com.au/stockists

2. Magformers

My children were lucky enough to receive these as a gifts earlier this year. If there is one thing that kids love, its constructing towers, cars, buildings. Magformers are construction sets that use magnets to allow children to let their imaginations run wild. They come in a variety of sets including a ferris wheel, or a basic set! To find out where you can grab them, head to their website here: https://www.microscooters.com.au/stockists

3. Natural Play dough by Happy Hands Happy Heart

Happy Hands Happy Heart Happy Hands Happy Heart

What child doesn’t love play dough? If you haven’t’ heard about this beautiful local business, then you must have been living under a rock! Happy Hands Happy Heart create naturally scented play dough in a variety of delicious flavours. Packaged in beautiful glass jars, they are the perfect gift for your, or any child! Best of all, you will be supporting local! For stockists head here: https://www.happyhandshappyheart.com.au/stockists-and-events

4. Tinta Crayons

Tinta crayons

Tinta take crayons to another level. Letters, animals, objects. Crayons that look like toys, but actually can be used to draw! Crayons that spell out your child’s name. The perfect stoking filler! For stockists head here: https://www.tintacrayons.com.au/stockists/

Hope that helps with any last minute Christmas Cramming!!!

 

 

Living Like Lulu: Doll Accessories GIVEAWAY

Living Like Lulu: Doll Accessories GIVEAWAY

Dolls, dolls, dolls. Growing up I was obsessed with them. There is something about dressing up dolls, doing their hair, changing their outfits. For some reason, a love of dolls has never left me…it must be something about being in the Barbie fan club when I was young! Ella too has inherited my love of all things dolls, and recently, the rise of the 18 inch doll into the Australian market has seen an explosion doll amazing new outfits and accessories.

Living Like Lulu by Little Tinkers has recently launched onto the scene as a boutique distributor of stylish and affordable outfit ensembles for 18 inch dolls available everywhere. The brain child of Paris Stanley (from Little Tinkers fame), she took her daughter’s love of these beautiful products as inspiration, and decided to source her own designs and styles and make them available for everyone online.

Whether you have purchased your doll from a store, here in Australia or overseas, her range of outfits fit most dolls and can be mixed and matched with other outfits.

PRIZE: We are giving away a $100 voucher to use at the Living Like Lulu online store to purchase 18 inch dolls accessories and outfits

TO WIN: Head to our Instagram Page here 

*Open to Australian residents only. Giveaway closes Sunday 3rd December 2018

Styles include:

Disco skater girl! Look at those roller skates!
Little mermaid!
Look at that outfit! Does it come in size 10?
Christmas fairy
Look at that super cute umbrella!
Those bunny slippers are to die for!

Ella absolutely adores her dolls and the outfits from Living Like Lulu. This is the perfect prize for your little one this Christmas!

Christmas Toy Review #4: Micro Scooters

Christmas Toy Review #4: Micro Scooters

As you know, this year I’m on the hunt for gifts that I can get for BOTH of my children. Stuff that they will love, play with together and (if I can help it) get them outside. In our family, there is nothing quite more loved than our scooters. We took them to Hawaii (read about it here) and have used them in place of our pram for over a year. They get the kids active and are just generally the coolest things you can give to kids. The problem is, like bikes, as they grow, so does the need to upgrade their scooters. There is nothing greater in the scooter world than a Micro.  If there is something I’ve learned these last few years as a parent, you get what you pay for. The quality, design and service provided by Micro is second to none. I’ve always wanted to get my kids a Micro, and was utterly thrilled when I recently had the opportunity to try them out for my own children, and am excited to share our findings with you today!

Micro Scooters

In case you don’t know, buying a scooter is kind of like buying a car. There are literally thousands of models out there, but you need to find one that suits your needs, budget and taste. Scooters come in all shapes and sizes, and the micro offerings are no different. In the past, we have used cheaper versions, but now we were ready to invest in the best. The problem is, Ella and Huddy are both at very different stages, skills and physical make up. Ella is super tall, but also still needs support to transition her to a two wheeled version. Micro made it easy, suggesting the perfect type for each of my children. Still having three wheels was our preference and they catered for our needs with no problems. Here is what we chose!

Hudson: 3 Years: Mini Micro Deluxe

The Mini Micro Deluxe is the reimagined version of the world renowned classic Mini Micro preschooler scooter. It features an adjustable t-bar, raised silicon deck for stability, and an anodised finish that looks great and protects from rust.

The Mini Micro Deluxe’s intuitive ‘lean and steer’ scooting style is perfect for younger children and helps your child’s balance and co-ordination which are vital for the development of early motor skills. It’s lightweight and therefore perfectly suited for little ones as it enables them to negotiate pavements, steps and doorways without the help of us Mums and Dads!

The brake is the best. It has been ingeniously designed so even the slightest pressure put on it will bring the scooter to a gentle halt. This is something Huddy needs! The Mini Micro Deluxe’s 3 wheels and sturdy deck provide stability, giving your child the confidence they need to master scooting.

Specifics:

• For ages 2 – 5 years
• Adjustable handlebars
• Unique silicon raised deck
• Anodised stem protects from corrosion
• Develops balance skills
• Stable 3 wheel design
• Intuitive lean-to-steer action
• Lightweight design
• Wide non-slip deck, low to the ground
• Quality non-marking wheels
• Comes in  Pink, Blue, Green, Red, Yellow, Purple, Aqua and Orange
• Please note: Mini Deluxe Red has a pink brake and pink deck logos

Ella: 5 years old: Maxi Micro Deluxe

The next step up from the Mini Micro Deluxe, the Maxi Micro Deluxe 3 wheel scooter is the ideal next stage kids scooter for kids who want all the fun, stability and good safety design of the Mini but are ready a larger, cooler and more robust scooter.

The Maxi Micro Deluxe version has a new weight limit of 70kgs, a unique deck with raised silicone Micro grip, and an anodised stem which not only protects your scooter from corrosion but provides a stylish look.

Your little one can cruise the pavements,  parks smoothly and confidently on their Maxi Micro Deluxe scooter, while further developing their balance and co-ordination skills.

With an adjustable handlebar the Maxi Micro Deluxe is the ideal scooter for the fans of the mini who want to keep riding what they already love.

Specifics:

• For ages 5-12 years
• New 70kg weight limit
• Anodised metallic finish
• Raised silicon non-slip deck
• Adjustable handlebar height
• Intuitive lean-to-steer action
• Superior stability
• Vibrant range of colours: Purple, Red, Green, Black, Blue, Pink, Yellow and Aqua
• Please note: Maxi Deluxe Aqua has a pink brake and pink deck logos

My kids fell in love with their scooters at first sight. I could not recommend Micro more highly. There is nothing better than a Micro Scooter. The perfect Christmas present for any boy or girl.  It is certainly a Christmas choice that will bring you and your family so much joy. All you need is a scooter for yourself!

I’ll finish with some action shots of the kids cruising and having the time of their lives!

Micro Scooters

Micro Scooters

Micro Scooters

Christmas Toy Review #3 : Pop the Pig from Talkin Toys

Christmas Toy Review #3 : Pop the Pig from Talkin Toys

This Christmas my two children are getting to an age where they can start to play board games. Maybe not quite Monopoloy, but certainly games that involve interaction! You may or may not know, but this year I’m trying to find toys that I can buy for them together. Toys that they can both play with, and hopefully play without fighting #wishfulthinking. Whilst we were away in Hawaii, we played good old Jenga quite a few times, and I realised that they haven’t really had the opportunity to play games like it, that involve the whole family. They promote turn taking, patience and strategy! So when Talkin Toys contacted me to try out one of their new offerings, I jumped at the chance to try out Pop the Pig!

Pop the Pig is a game that can be played by two or more players. The Pig sits in the middle, and each person takes the turn to roll the dice. The dice shows one of four colours: red, green, purple or yellow. The player then picks up a token of that colour and turns it over showing a number. The token is then placed in the Pig’s mouth, and pushes down on it’s head the corresponding number of times. Each time you push down, it pumps the Pig’s tummy a little larger. The game keeps going until you….Pop the Pig’s tummy!

This game has been fantastic in a number of ways:

  • Turn taking….obviously!
  • Rolling the dice and recognising the colour
  • Recognising numbers
  • Predicting who is going to win based on how many times the Pig’s head has been pumped

It isn’t a game of skill, which is also great at this age because it means that no matter how old they are, anyone can win!

Pop the Pig can be purchased at Kmart for $25 here! Suitable for years 3+

Christmas Toy Review #1: VTech Toys

Christmas Toy Review #1: VTech Toys

In the cray cray lead up to Christmas, I’ve decided to hire my own children and put them to work, reviewing some amazing toys to help you all know what the heck to buy (aka ask Santa for) this December. There is sooooo much variety out there, it’s hard to know where to start. This week’s first review is about two toys from VTech. Have you heard of VTech? They are world leader in developmental, stage-based, electronic learning products for children. A pioneer in the learning toy category, VTech create innovative educational products that enrich children’s development and makes learning fun. With a history of almost 35 years,  they have now created toys that are available in 25 different languages worldwide, with more than 100 new products are introduced every year.

With something for everyone, from birth to 9 years, VTech toys offer the right mix of fun play time with enhanced learning and development for all ages.

For your School Aged Child : Ella – Aged 5

Kidizoom Smart Watch – RRP $79.95

Ella was recruited to try the Kidizoom Smart Watch DX (4-9 years).  Think of an Apple watch for kids, The Kidizoom® Smart Watch DX is the next-gen smart watch for little ones, available in cool new colours – lime green, camo, and purple.  Immediately, Ella was hooked. As a keep mini photogpraher, this durable smart watch has more memory so kids can take tons of pictures and videos; add frames and effects, anywhere, anytime. The Smart Watch DX takes learning to tell the time seriously with the clever Fun Time Master feature. There are more than 50 3D analogue and digital displays to choose between and the Fun Time Master uses verbal cues to match the display, helping kids understand the clock face and time. Kids can even customise their own clock face and, there’s also alarm, timer, stopwatch, pedometer, calendar and calculator features.

It also encouraged her to exercise! The new motion sensor encouraged her to explore three action challenges! The Smart Watch DX also includes eight games kids can play using the touch screen, as well as the ability to download even more from the Learning Lodge.  Sweat and splash-proof, with an intuitive colour touch screen, and built-in rechargeable battery, this watch is smart fun, smart tech. Available in blue, pink, lime green, camo and purple, telling the time never looked so cool!

Honestly, whether a girl or a boy…this toy is one for everyone!

For your Pre-Schooler: Hudson – Aged 3

Cars 3 Tablet, RRP $29.95

Huddy is literally obsessed with CARS. If you’ve got a little one who is equally hooked, then this one is for them! Help Lightning McQueen win the big race with the Race & Learn Tablet™. Interact with your favourite Cars 3 characters as they come to life in fun and engaging activities on the LCD screen. Seven exciting games introduce letters, objects, spelling, number order, counting, logic and more. Find letters to help Lightning McQueen gear up for the race, spell out words on road and crowd signs, count objects as you help clean up Doc Hudson’s garage, spell out words to pass other cars in the race and much more! Press the character buttons to meet and interact with Lightning McQueen and his friends. The tablet also introduces beginning typing with a QWERTY keyboard. Get on the fast track to learning with Lightning McQueen!

VTech toys are available from major department stores, independent toy stores, and select online retailers. For further information on VTech and its products, visit www.vtech.com.au , or check out the VTech news on Facebook @ VTechANZ and Instagram @vtech_toys_anz. For more info and to see these toys in action, visit our Instagram Stories!

Grief at Christmas & lessons of hope

Grief at Christmas & lessons of hope

Grief is like Melbourne weather. Four seasons in one day. Sometimes you start out the day feeling fine, and then it can quickly turn nasty. Sometimes it feels still and calm, and others it’s like your stuck in a torrential down pour, and all you can do is ride it out. These last four months have taught me a lot about grief. I thought I new. I’d experience loss before. Losing close family friends, and family members. I knew it was hard. I knew it would take time. But gosh, I’ve felt as though I knew nothing. It’s as though I’m a preppie in the school of grief, as I went back to square one. As though I might as well be learning a new language.

The past few weeks I felt as though I was on top of things. I felt a sense of wanting to be happy, and really try to make this up and coming Christmas a good one, as much as it could be. I’ve often heard in previous years, people reminding others that whilst Christmas can be a great time of happiness and joy, it can also be a time of immense sadness for some. For me, Christmas has always, always been the happiest time of the year. These last few days have actually had me realising that this is true, with the loss of our precious Dad. The thought of walking into my parents house on Christmas morning with my children in tow is both something I’m looking forward to, and yet it is a day that I’m sadly anticipating with a sense of trepidation.

I’ve learned a lot about grief these last four months. There are things you are told about grief that ring true, much of it weeks after being told. However there is much I’ve learned that I have found is helpful. Stuff I’ve been told, and stuff I’ve discovered myself. You see my brain is very scientific, and I’ve fond that I actually need strategies, phrases and sayings to help me make some sense of it all, and rationalise the loss. Especially because ours was so sudden. So in an attempt to try to help others who also may be stumbling and fumbling their way towards Christmas this weekend, feeling a little lost but wishing they could feel a bit better, I thought I would share some of the lesson’s I’ve learned about grief. I can only hope they help. Heck, I just hope it’s bloody useful really. I’ve just realised it’s also my 300th post on Happy Ella After. Quite ironic!

 

grief at christmas1. Grief if the price we pay for love

A few days after Dad passed, my Mum told us this: ‘grief is the price we pay for love’. Apparently the Queen actually said it. When you think about this it actuall resolves itself. In an attempt to make the loss ‘not happen’, you would never, ever choose a life without love. Love is in fact the meaning of life. A life of love is a life of happiness. So therefore, grief is an unfortunate, but very rational consequence of loss. This saying has helped me realise that whilst our grief is so intense and at times hard to bear, you in fact wouldn’t want it any other way.

2. Helpful and unhelpful emotions

A friend who lost her Mum whilst we were teenagers told me about helpful and unhelpful emotions. Some feelings can help you through, and some feelings can make you feel worse. The trick is knowing which ones to acknowledge, and which ones to ignore. Sadness, for example is hard to face, but it is in fact useful. It is something that we NEED to feel when tackling grief. Guilt and trying to find answers on the other hand are not useful. They actually cause your brain to stress, releasing cortisol and causing you to physically feel worse. They do not help to keep you calm and feel safe. You can also go out of your mind wondering ‘what if’ and ‘why has this happened’. It’s something I’ve tried to notice and explicitly stop myself from thinking. It has helped.

3. Let it come and go

In a similar way, you also need to let emotions come and go naturally. Don’t fight it, or dwell on any one point. My sister’s Godfather told us to treat our grief like a wave, ride it when it is high and when it is calm. Just let the waves come and go, and don’t try to swim against it. Everything will in time, calm down and the storm does pass.

4. The new reality

I’ve been seeing a psychologist to help me deal with the loss of Dad. She has helped give me some specific strategies to help me process how I’m feeling. She talked about sufferers of ‘grief’ dealing with needing to create a ‘new reality’. In times of loss, we live in our old reality, but without the person we love. We live in our houses, travel to the same places, carry out every day routines. All reminding us of that person. It isn’t until we create a ‘new reality’, one which involves memories of a new life, new experiences, new adventures that the old reality becomes new. The problem is, this takes time. But knowing this in itself actually helps. Time can’t be rushed.


5. It gets a bit easier

 

They say that the grief doesn’t go away, you just learn to live with it. I have found this to be true. However initially, when I was told t

his, I saw it as a life long curse of being sad . However it’s not like that at all. Four months later, I still feel incredibly sad. I still at times, fall apart and cry my eyes out. But I CAN talk about him sometimes without welling up. I CAN look at photos and smile. I’ve recently been able to look at videos and have a laugh. Someone once drew me a diagram to help explain this:

grief at christmas

In the beginning, grief consumes you. It is the centre of your life. It’s all you can think about and feels overwhelmingly huge. Every thought is about your loss. It’s hard to see anything else.

However over time, the grief is surrounded by new experiences, happy times, love and hope. In time the grief is still there, but it feels smaller and smaller as it is surrounded by new memories. You feel stronger and more able to tackle life and the new reality because it is enveloped in love. I have used this diagram several times to help me realise that everything will be ok.

6. Everyone is on their own journey

This is a hard one, but one that everyone in a family needs to realise. I am one of four children, and we have all lost our Dad, but we are all different and dealing with it in a variety of ways.  Our Mum has lost her husband and those feelings are very different too. We all have to just care for one another, and we do. Just because you are feeling sad, doesn’t mean that others are feeling that way on the same day. In other ways, you may also want to do something positive or happy, but it doesn’t mean that others are ready. We are all different and it takes time. We all need to be respectful of where everyone is at.

7. Sometimes the build up is worse than the actual day

Since losing Dad we’ve actually had a few ‘firsts’. Fathers’ Day, his Birthday, Mum’s Birthday, their anniversary. For the most part, the build up to the day, the anticipation is actually harder than the actual day. You think about what it will be like, you dread it in some ways. But then the day comes, and you realise, it is just another day. You can get through it. You will get through it. Yes you might cry, but that is ok. But you might laugh and smile to. And that feels really good.

7. Hope

There is always hope. There are not always answers to all of our questions, but there is always, always hope. Hope is a good thing. It helps us strive for positive and know that there will always be something happy around the corner. Life is too good not to be cherished. We need to be hopeful that there are better things to come.

grief at christmas

So this Christmas, if you or someone you know is feeling really heavy with the loss of a loved one, then know you are not alone. We are all doing our best to get on with things, keep our chins up and just live a happy life in their memory. At times it really sux, but just know that time does tick over and good things happen all the time. We owe it to them to be happy as much as we can be.

Product Review: DC Superhero Action Dolls

Product Review: DC Superhero Action Dolls

So it’s a week before Christmas. For some reason, actually…because of my hip surgery, I have all my shopping done for my kids. I did it online and it was so much easier. But what if you haven’t done yours yet? Even worse, what if you haven’t got any idea what to buy? Well if you have to buy a gift for a girl between 4-10 then this one is for you! If you have seen my IG feed of late, you would have seen a snap of my Ella kitted out in a Wonder woman dress up from Warner Brothers. She was also holing a Wonder woman Doll: a DC Superhero Action Doll. These dolls are just fantastic. If you live in a household dominated by Superheroes (Huddy’s room is out of control), but your little lady loves them too, then these are your answer.

dc-superhero

Warner Bros have brought out a range of action dolls, based on female super heroes. Beautiful quality, their outfits are bold, bright and colourful. They also make sounds and light up with the touch of a button. What I love about them is the fact they they encourage girls to be fierce. Brave, courageous and risk takers. They can take on the world and save the day! My Ella is somewhat shy and reserved at times, playing it safe. So when she dons her wonder woman outfit and grabs her doll in hand, she becomes invincible! Paired with the wonderwoman dress up, she will want to save the world!

So if you want to bring a sense of wonder and rebellion to a little girl in your life, then head to KMART and check out these dolls via this link. You can also see other fabulous offerings from Warner Bros via my ‘unboxing’ video below. Hope you like!

kate

 

The products in the video

LEGO Juniors – Batman™ & Superman™ vs. Lex Luthor™

Suit up alongside Batman™ and Superman™ and prepare to take on Lex Luthor™! Get the Batmobile™ ready and arm the Batcave’s bat-disk shooter. Help Superman take to the skies with his launcher before Lex Luthor arrives in his robotic vehicle with grabbing claw and kryptonite-powered laser gun. Save the day with your favorite Super Heroes!

RRP: $29.99

Stockists: All major retailers

 

Mattel – DC Super Hero Girls 12-Inch Dolls

Unleash your inner Super Hero with these DC Super Hero Girls action dolls inspired by the students of Super Hero High! Available in Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and Bumblebee

RRP: $32.99

Stockists: All major retailers

 

Imaginext DC Super Friends Super Hero Flight City

Double the fun and double the trouble as Gotham City and Metropolis combine! Let Batman and Superman take flight in the 360 degree flight pack with an additional Super Hero launcher. But be careful – Lex Luthor is always close by.

RRP: $149.99

Stockists: Target, Big W, Toys R Us