Baba Reviews

Spinmaster Air Hogs E Charger Review

Spin Master

Pic Credit: Spin Master

The boys love being outdoors so we are always up for trying out toys we can use in the garden or the park.  The Air Hogs E-Charger from Spin Master fits the bill perfectly.  Rumour has it Air Hogs will be big this year on Christmas lists!!!

Air Hogs E-Charger

Air hogs E-Charger

The kit comes with the E-Charger or plane, the charger and an instruction manaul.   The product requires 3 AAA batteries which are not included.  It is so simple to use. You literally plug the E-Charger into the charger device for 30 seconds! Yep only 30 seconds and you are ready to go.  This in itself is ideal for kids especially mine who are not the most patient!

The e-charger itself can travel up to 100 yards which definitley impressed the boys. Its so light they werent overly hopeful at the outset but after a few attempts they managed to figure out how to gain good distance with it. The competitive nature wasnt long coming out in them and they try to see who can make it go the furthest distance.

One note of cation is to open it from the box with care. The boys were a little over zealous trying to get it out of the box and damaged the wing a little. It didnt seem to impact the flying thankfully.

The Verdict

Air Hogs E-Charger

Air Hogs E-Charger

Thumbs up from the biggest boy, especially the fact it only took 30 seconds to be able to make it fly. Its also very portable when out and about as im normally the one left carrying the toys after they are tired in the park!

Priced around €13 this is very reasonable for the amount of play it has got in this house to date.

 

Note: We were sent the E-Charger to review however as always opinions are my own or the boys where appropriate.

Baba Reviews

Stikbot Zanimation Studio Review

My kids had Stikbots before this fab product landed through our letterbox to review.  I hadn’t heard of these guys before but my oldest did and was really happy to add to his collection.

What are they?!

Stikbots are little posable figures, approx 3 inches high with suction cups on their hands and feet to enable them to stay in position.  How they work is that you download an app which enables you then to make stop start top animations with your phone or tablet.

The “Zanimation” studio contains all the elements needed to get started straight away.  It comes with 2 Stikbots, a green back drop (and 2 prop boxes) and a handy tripod to prop up your phone.  The app itself is available for free download (both iOS and Android) and very easy to use and follow. You will find plenty You Tube videos to assist if you are experiencing difficulty with it, or just ask the kids! Mine are far more tech savvy than me!

What we thought?

Kids were already fans of Stikbots so this was always going to be a hit.  It’s the kind of toy I would have enjoyed myself as a child and a lovely introduction for young kids to the world of animation and how it works.  Picture opposite of an epic battle about to start. (disclaimer the pink and green we already owned they did not come with it).

Be warned though the animation can be slow progress to make anything any length of time so younger kids may not have the patience for it as each teeny move adds up to make the animation video.

This is priced around €20 and in my mind very good value  for hours of fun and a nice way to incorporate some old fashioned play with technology.  Toys that engage the brain are a hit in my book and Stikbots do tick that box.  The boys actually spend more time making up scenes and battles (!!) than actually doing the animation itself. Individually they are priced around €5 so its not too expensive to add to your collection.  I can see this getting lots of play in our house and the requests have already started for more figures!!

 

Note: We were sent the Zanimation studio but we were already fans. The fact we were sent this doens’t impact our view as quick frankly the kids don’t care how it arrived to the house!!!

 

Features

Fathers Day ideas – Gift Guide

Fathers Day tends to get a lot more air time in our house than Mothers Day for some reason! The boys love to treat the hard working Dada Fairy for Fathers Day so we decided to pick out some of our favourites below.  I am very much in favour of pracitcal gifts or gifts that mean something. I loathe spending unnecceasarily, so with that in mind the Mamma Fairy house has picked a couple bits that are well worth checking out and wont break the bank either:

Handy cheap and cheerful gifts

While not the cheapest in the gift guide I think this from Lidl is well worth checking out. With the advent of contactless payments the security of cards has certainly become an issue.  It is so easy now to pay or perhaps even accidently pay with your card therefore a wallet like this from Lidl would be well worth considering. Its aluminum which protects the card itself and has in built technology which blocks the abiltiy to be able to use the contactless function in your pocket etc.  (pic credit: Lidl) At €24.99 is at a good price point too. Availble in Lidl at the moment.

Lidl also have a huge range of cheap gifts from aftershaves to novely golf balls, to mugs to insulated cups to superhero tshirts.  Safe to say most budgets are covered here with prices starting at €2.99. The kids wanted to buy the Dada Fairy the golf balls pitcured opposite! They thought they were hilarious! However the Dada Fairy doesnt even play golf!! (Pic credit: lidl).

I was in my local lidl today and picked up some great beer glasses, they had loads of types like the tulip style ones or the 300ml sampler type ones. Another good option for Fathers Day and at €4.99 per set great value and practical too!

Sentimental Gift

The Dada Fairy lives for his boys and he loves nothing more than filling the house with pictures of the boys or mementos to mark occassions. I totally fell in love with these personalised gifts from Makeitwithwords.com.  The pencil style portraits are amazing and can be personlised with any text and framed. Love love love them.

For any musical dads I love the mix tape picture where you can add the name of songs or bands that mean something.  You can also add personalised text to it too.  There is something about a personalised  gift.  Make it Words are a family business and my love of supporting local and small business is well known. They make a whole range of amazing personalised gifts from all occasions not just Fathers Day.

Grooming!!

I was having a nosey in Dealz last week and and I saw a card suitable for the Dada Fairy – “Bearded Dads make the best dads”.  I know its totally tounge in cheek and yes I did buy it as the beard is a long running joke in our house.  This lead me to our next option! See here from Top Men Shavers   which has some great articles on types of razors ( I havent a clue about anything like that) and some gift ideas for the bearded men in our lives!

I love this old school shaving kit pictured opposite. (Pic Credit: Top Men Shavers)

Lild and Dealz have some great very reasonably priced cards too.

 

Mamma Musings

Lost in translation – its the holiday season

School is almost out, the holidays are booked, the bags packed and the sun cream is bought.  According to a study commissioned by Holiday Autos the average adult is able to rattle off up to 15 words with French being the most common language.

Ill admit (sorry Dada Fairy) my husband is one of those holiday makers who loves to learn a few words before we depart what amuses me also is the kids get in on it too. Now don’t get me wrong in an increasingly multicultural world we live it this is something I absolutely encourage. One funny episode springs to mind. We were in Italy for a family weeding and when we finished a beautiful meal in a restaurant in Lake Como my son departed with a wave calling “ ciao” to the waiter. The poor guys was speechless this teeny tot speaking to him in his own language. He knew we were Irish holiday makers over for a wedding. To make it even funnier he insisted we all come back to the table and gave us a round of limocello (obviously not to the kid!!).

Lovely gesture by the restaurant who im sure still remembers the teeny tot, who is now 5 who greeted him in his native language.

I laughed at some of the findings of the survey which reveals, the average holidaymaker has experienced three ‘lost in translation’ moments when on holiday.

According to the poll…

  • One man asked for directions and kept being told the price of a chicken.
  • A holidaymaker thought he was asking a waiter where the toilet was, but was actually repeatedly asking where the man’s wife was.
  • Another asked for egg on his pancake and got a raw egg.
  • One respondent asked for a lemonade and ended up buying a newspaper.
  • Another respondent regularly got the French words for rabbit and bread around the wrong way.
  • A gentleman got a surprise in France when he asked for jam to go with his croissant and got a condom.
  • One respondent ended up with a slap around the face. To this day he doesn’t know what he said

For anybody who wants to prevent the ‘lost in translation’ moments Holiday Auto have produced handy language guides that are available online and include top foreign phrases to help avoid any of the above.

I recall another episode long before we had kids when we visited China. My husband got food positioning and a quick call to his mother revealed a brandy and port should to do the trick. I was swiftly dispatched down the hotel bar for this miracle cure however I spoke no Mandarin and the bar man had little English. He duly poured what I though was a Bandy and Port however he told me that would be the equivalent of €500. I almost fainted. Queue frantic drawing and pointing at menus and we seem to have found a middle ground and he charged me what I though I was paying around €10 interestingly enough I still walked away with the same drink. I can also happily report it seemed to do the trick!!!

Note:  This post is collaborative post, content created by myself with thanks to Holiday Autos

 

Fairy Travels

Tales from Toronto – Family travel review

We have finally settled back to normality after what I can only describe as the trip of a life time. I’ll admit I was pretty nervous about flying long haul with two young kids but it turned out to be totally fine (some tips here and here). ‘We landed into a cold (-8!!) Toronto on a Thursday afternoon in March. We had pre booked our taxi via Aeroport as I wanted to prebook car seats plus paying in advance saves any surprises!

The driver was prompt and efficient and provided some lovely commentary as we made our way to the Grand Hotel & Suites.  He left us with the comment that “The only thing that will hurt you in Toronto is the cold” and he wasnt wrong  there!

Where we stayed – The Hotel

First impressions of the hotel was wow, the beautiful entrance and reception is very welcoming. I booked a double room via booking.com and was delighted upon check in to be upgraded to a 2 bedroom suite.  The suite was just beautiful, full kitchen, 2 big bedrooms and a sitting room with a sofa bed. There was a huge balcony with outdoor seating that would have been amazing in the summer time (see view opposite).  Breakfast was included in the room rate and it was fantastic, kept us going for the day.

The location of this hotel is very central, we walked everywhere something which was a key requirement for me when booking a hotel when travelling with kids.  In terms of facilities this hotel has everything we needed for a really enjoyable trip. There are hot tubs on the roof of this hotel – see picture  opposite of the view from them. I wasnt brave enough in -10 weather to try them but hopefully we visit again in summer time and ill have to give them ago. We popped up one evening to see the view and there was music on the big TV and a few brave souls in the hot tubs!!!

Without question the highlight of our stay here was customer service. My youngest son takes goats milk and I emailed in advance to see if there was somewhere local I could get it when we arrived late. Nicole who was a pleasure to deal with all along sent me the details of local places however when I got the room there was a note on the table saying check the fridge and in it was a litre of goats milk.  For me this gesture epitomises what the hotel is about the attention to detail was just fantastic.

We ate in the onsite resturant one of the days and it was very tasty.  Service was attentive but not instrusive and very child friendly.  We had a fire alarm one of nights which ended up in us making our way to reception at 2am which seems to be the kids highlight of the holiday, not sure I agree!! While a little chaotic at the start, the night porter did his best to reassure everybody it was a false alarm and we made our way back to bed. Thankfully the kids went back to sleep!

 

What we did – the activities

We were very fourtunate to be provided with media passes to Torontos top attractions.  We had decided before going which attractions we really wanted to see, the kids had spent weeks pouring over YouTube clips and the short list was drawn up.  Short summary below of our favourites:

  • Ripleys Acquarium for me this is top of the list,  an absolute must do in Toronto, huge place with fun interative exhibits and so much to keep the kids entertained we surprised ourselves and spent almost 3 hours here. Do go early it is popular and gets very busy. We arrived at opening time but by the time we left the queues were forming.  What I liked about this place was it really is fun for all ages.  Next door is to the Aquarium is….

 

  • CN Tower this is an iconic Toronto landmark and no trip to Toronto would be complete without a visit. We took the high speed lift to the top.  There is a small glass floor area, an outdoor viewing area and an indoor area with lots of vantage points. You can also eat and drink at the revolving restaurant  here but we didnt get the chance this visit.  Its a fun way to pass an hour the adults really enjoyed the kids were a bit meh however they had just left the aquarium so expectations were high.

 

  • Hockey Hall of Fame this ended up being a surprise hit.  We didnt know anything much about ice hockey before we visited.  However the kids thoroughly enjoyed the interactive exhibits here. There are 2 main ones, one where you take shots on a goal the second where you are the goal keeper.  So much fun and so unexpected.  Locationwise these three attractions are located within a short walking distance from each other.

 

  • Medieval Times This was a really fun evenings entertainment.  It’s set up as a banquet where you eat as they did in medieval times i.e with their hands!! Kids loved this! A three course meal is served while you watch knights dual on horse back. Each area has a colour and you cheer on your knight.  Depsite the fact our knight didnt win we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  Food was plentiful, staff were friendly and so efficient. There was a falcon display which really has to be seen to be believed. Its was incredible, there wasnt a sound when it was going on.  This is the type of event all ages will enjoy and the food was suprisingly good too. We did the afternoon show so it was busy but not packed.

Hints and Tips

  • Like any city rush hour traffic can be unpredictable so give yourself plenty time especially if like us you have an evening flight home
  • Plan ahead for the weather!
  • Toronto CityPass works out great value for family visits when doing the main attractions like we did above
  • Attractions can be busy so plan ahead – keep an eye on their websites for updates etc
  • Its a very safe city
  • The locals are really friendly and helpful
  • Its really child friendly, kids were welcomes in resturants no issues at all

For more information on Grand Hotels & Suites see here.

Note: Special thanks to Nicole at the Grand Hotel and Suites for her assistance and to Michele at Tourism Toronto for organising the passes for us. 

 

Baba Reviews

Paw Patrol Jumbling Tower Game Review

You probably have seen from previous posts how much we love board games in the Mamma Fairy house.  A couple of weeks back we were sent the Paw Patrol Jumbling Towers game to review.  Knowing how much the boys love their board games I decided to keep it hidden for that rainy day which was happened to be a family event. I wanted something to keep both boys (ages almost 5 and 2) amused and I had a feeling this would and it did.

Its a simple concept similar to the old school Jenga game where you stack the blocks, roll the dice and pull out the relvant block. The block are coloured with little paw patrol motifs on them.  The power of TV/ adveritsing my two year old was able to tell me which symbol was which member of the paw patrol!

While the game is advertised for ages 4 up (i suspect due to the small dice) my2 year old had so much fun with this.  They actually had more fun competing to build towers and knock each others down.

There really are lots of pieces to this set and endless possibilties of what to do with it, we had towers, bridges, castles. You cant beat the old school toys, toys that let kids let their imaginations run wild. I can happily report this game is has become a play date favourite.

The Verdict

Its very reasoanably prices at around €10,  and a big thumbs up from the Mamma Fairy house.  My only criticim would be storing it after you take it out of the box that it doesnt easily fit back in! Not a big issue really and im just ott about tidying every evening!

 

Note: We were sent this game to review however this in no way influences mine or the boys in the case opinion.
Mamma Musings

Kids Afraid Of Flying? Try These Tips!

When it comes to holiday time, and you want to travel abroad, the chances are that you will need to take a plane. The trouble is, many children – perhaps including your own – have an entirely rational fear of boarding a plane, flying thousands of feet up in the air, and landing on a hard surface at tremendous speeds.

Let’s be honest – can you blame them? Flying is an entirely unnatural thing for a human being to do, and even though most of us have flown dozens – maybe hundreds – of times, it can be easy to forget what a scary experience it might be. If your child suffers from anxiety about getting on a plane, read on. These tips might help – and maybe even help you calm your flying nerves, too.

 

Talk about it

Most children are afraid of the great unknown – it’s only natural. So the more you can introduce them to the concept of planes and flying, the better. Discuss planes, and point them out on the TV whenever you see them. Pick up a custom model aircraft or two and build them with your kids, helping them learn what all the different parts are called. And have a look around for any science museums in your local area that might have planes in them – perhaps one that you could go into the cockpit, for example.

Sounds and feelings

Part of the big issue with flying is that the noise and roar of the engines can be incredibly scary for young ears. It’s a good idea to get them familiar with the sort of sounds a plane makes, so try to get them making the whooshing and roaring while playing. Car washes are another good option – the noises the brushes and engines make are quite similar to a plane, and although scary a first for your child can often be a good starting point.

Tell the airline

Airlines tend to be pretty good with fearful children. They might offer your kids a chance to go and look at the cockpit and meet the captain or copilot, which can be incredibly reassuring. The stewarding team will also help your kids by giving them sweets – perfect for when the air pressure starts to affect their ears.

Bring entertainment

The more you can distract your kids, the less fearful they will be – it’s as simple as that. In-flight entertainment helps for longer flights, but for short hops bring along plenty of games and colouring in books to keep them busy, too. And snacks actually – all the snacks!!! 

Note: This is a collaborative post with Pic credit  – Pexels

 

 

Mamma Musings

Off the Scales Tips for Keeping Fish with Kids

A child’s first pet is an exciting thing. For some, it’s a puppy or kitten, but for others, it’s something a little more manageable. Fish can be an excellent choice for a first pet because they don’t require as much dedication as other, larger animals. While they can still require daily attention, they don’t need walking or playing with several times a day. Looking after fish can be a great way to teach your kids responsibility and empathy. However, there are some things you need to think about before you decide if you should get fish.

Deciding If Fish Are the Right Choice

People often think of fish as being an easy option when it comes to pets, but they aren’t necessarily as easy to care for as you might think. For one thing, it depends on the species of fish. Many fish are much more high maintenance than others and can be more expensive to keep. Plus, just because fish are small and often live in a tank, it doesn’t mean they don’t come with some of the same responsibilities as other pets. You’ll still need someone to feed them while you’re on holiday, and you still need to keep them clean and fed. You also need the space to keep them.

Keeping Fish Outdoors

While keeping fish in a tank or aquarium is one option, another possibility is having fish outside. It’s a fun choice if you already have a garden pond or you’ve been thinking of having one. It gives you the option to have much bigger fish, but you need to make sure they have enough space. If you want to keep something like koi carp, you need to make sure your pond is suitable. You’ll need to get a pond filter from Swell or a similar brand, or perhaps carefully choose the plants you put into the pond. Safety is essential to think about too. You need to cover your pond if you have kids.

Giving the Kids Responsibilities

Fish will help your kids to learn how to take care of their responsibilities. There are some tasks they should do regularly, but that don’t require too much effort. Feeding the fish should be simple, although watching how much they’re fed might be necessary. If the tank gets cloudy, you could be overfeeding them. Having something the kids can use to measure out the right amount of food can be useful. Children can also help with other tasks, like cleaning the tank.

Things You’ll Need to Do

If you’re going to get fish, you have to be prepared to do some work too. Some tasks are a bit much for kids to handle on their own. You will probably need to help with things like cleaning out the tank or pond, and it might be completely up to you with some setups. If you decide to keep tropical or marine fish, they can be a bit more work, and there are some jobs like testing the water that kids can’t do. And, of course, you’ll be responsible for paying for everything.

Keeping fish is one way of getting kids interested in animals and teaching them responsibility. However, make sure that getting them is the right choice.

 

#Note this is a collaborative post

Fairy Travels

4 items I wouldnt fly long haul with kids without!

We are not long back from the trip of a lifetime to Canada.  We spent time in both Toronto and Niagara Falls and it was incredible.  Niagara Falls had been on my bucket list and it did not disappoint.  The kids absolutely loved it.  To be honest I wasn’t sure how the long haul flight would be with kids ages 4 and 1 (almost 2). I shouldn’t have spent so many sleepless nights over it.  It was totally fine.  However there are a number of things that without a doubt made the trip a lot (an awful lot!!) more manageable with my busy boys.

1 Keep Em Quiet Packs

Such a simple concept but oh so effective.  We received two boys long haul pack to try out for the trip.  I didnt let the boys see them until were were 30+ thousand feet in the air. About 2 hours into the flight when the novelty of being on an aeroplane had worn off Mamma produced these.  There was great excitment about the cool bag which was used for the entire trip actually.  We received a pack for the relevant age groups for each of the boys.  They were really well received by the boys and contained a lovely selection of age appropriate items.  The big hits were the little tubs of play doh and for the oldest was a kit with which you could make cardboard models which he thoroughly enjoyed.  The littlest loved the Peppa stickers.  Im sure Aer Lingus are still peeling them off the seats! (sorry!!).

Check out Keep Em Quiet for more information.  Boys thoroughly enjoyed and the packs contained a selection of items which were age appropriate and also appropriate for the confined space on the aircraft.  Im always running around at the last minute so these are ideal, the work is done and you are ready to go and all for a very reaonable price.

2 Jet Kids Bed Box 

I bought this literally days before the flight praying that it would arrive on time and it did thankfully. I had seen it on Twitter and loved the concept.  Its a ride on suitcase that opens out on the flight to transform the seat into a bed. Its really easy to use and very comfortable according to the 4 year old.  We got most use out of the ride on ability of it as my 4 year old (can be lazy) isnt so keen on walking!!! Despite the fact it contains the matress it holds quite a bit of stuff or in my little mans case, his teddy, his collection of transformers and his treats.  It is a little pricey at €159 however given how much we like travel and with the pair of them I really think I will get my moneys worth on this one.  For more information see Jetkids.

(Image Credit Jet Kids)

3 Netflix

The Dada Fairy and I were frantically searching to see what films were listed on Aer Lingus for transatlantic to see if they would keep our pair suitably entertained for 7.5 hours.  It was then the revelation came!!! I recalled an email about downloadable Netflix, queue frantic searching and yes….it was not a dream you can infact download Netflix. 15 mins later and we were fully equiped with Team Umizoomi, Peppa Pig, Horrid Henry and The Smurfs.  When it comes to travel I am in the school of thought whatever works and makes the joruney easier for the kids, and me and the other 200 odd passengers. If 7 hours of Peppa Pig was going to be the thing well then I wasnt going to object! See 1 and 4 it thankfully didnt happen!

4 Food/ Snacks

Back to when boys were teeny, everywhere we went I was armed with packets of raisins, ligas etc.  The flight was no different.  I was laden down with snacks of every description from the healthy to the not so healthy.  There were no kids meals available on the flight and the boys had zero interest in a mushy looking mushroom and rice meal so the snacks were invaluable.  Also very handy when waiting around before and after the flight.  I always take lollipops for take off and landing to help the ears. They seem to work as we have had no complaints from the little men about sore ears, ears popping etc.

 

Next up we will be sharing our trip report.  Spoiler – we loved it and really hope to return some day.

 

Mamma Musings

Fixing Up the Family Home: Never-Ending Headache or a Fantastic Opportunity?

How far should you go when fixing up your home? Should you just get the basics done and leave it at that? Or should you take a more long-term approach and try to add as much value to your home as possible? These are questions most homeowners ask themselves, and there are arguments to be made for each of the options open to you.

If you let your home improvement plans drag on for too long, it can become a never-ending headache. But it can also be seen as a big opportunity, so you need to weigh up your options carefully. Let the information below help you out as you decide how to approach your home improvement plans.

 

There is Always Room for Improvement

The fact of the matter is, there’s always room for improvement. No matter how great your home is, there will always be things that you can or even will want to improve. This can be a good thing and a bad thing, though. On the one hand, it means that there will always be new ways in which you can add value to your home and make it more appealing to future buyers. On the other hand, it might mean that you keep doing more and more, and the task eventually overwhelms you. You don’t want to spend all your time and money on home upgrades.

Your Home Should be Unique to You

On a basic level, you want your home to be unique to you. No one wants to live in a dull drab home that they don’t feel suits them and their personal preferences. And that’s the main reason why people spend money on improving their home. If this is the mentality that you’re bringing to the table, you will probably not be thinking about the value that can be added to the home or what future buyers might want. This applies to the vast majority of people who fix up their homes and make changes.

 

However, a Unique Style Might Put Off Future Buyers

On the other hand, making your home unique to you can be risky. When you create a home design that is specific to your own preferences, you could put off other people. You might be wondering why this matters. You don’t want to sell your home, so why does it matter what other people think of it? Well, you might not want to sell your home now, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t want to at some point in the future. When that time comes, you don’t want people to be put off by design choices that are a little out of the box.

It’s Going to Cost You Money

If you want to make changes to your home, you’re going to have to spend money on it. This is just the way it is, and you should try to make sure that you improve your home in an affordable way. Remember, if you can make positive changes, the value of the home will rise. But that will be less useful if you spend so much money on upgrades that end up taking out high risk personal loans or dipping into your savings a lot. Just try to do it in a sustainable way, and a way that works for you.

But Your Investment Might Pay Off

The investment you make in your home might pay off if you make the right decisions and do the right things. This will help you to get the most from your home when it comes to selling because you will have made the most of your asset. You should definitely try to make sure that the upgrades you make to the home are all things that add overall value to your property. Not all changes you can make allow that, but many do. Think about what matters to real estate agents and buyers.

Some Homes Have More Room for Value Growth Than Others

It’s also important to point out that all homes are different, and that means that the room for growth differs depending on your property. If your property is currently valued lower than the market average for similar properties in your area, that suggests that there is plenty of potential for value growth. So, if you then decided to make big changes to your home and improve it in a variety of ways, you could find that the value of the home increases quite dramatically. But if your home is already one the most expensive around, even big changes might not push the value up by much.