Baba Reviews

Bellz Magnetic Game Review

Bellz Magnetic Game from SpinMaster

Well……Chicken Pox times two has just left the Mamma Fairy house and I am not sorry to see it go. Only my kids would get Chicken Pox on the hottest days of the year so far.  As you might have seen from previous  posts my pair love being out doors so trying to keep them occupied and engaged indoors is borderline mission impossible.

Bellz Magnetic Game

Bellz Game

We were sent the magnetic balls known as “Bellz” for review earlier in the month so this was duly dispatched to aid the relentless cries of im bored.

 What is Bellz?

Bellz game consists of a magnetic wand and a batch (40) of colourful magnetic bells of different colours and sizes. The object of the game is to collect only your own colour of bells with the wand.  If you pick up another colour it’s somebody else’s turn.  The magnetic wand has one very powerful magnetic and another weaker side to aid picking up the bells. Even though its sounds really simple it isn’t! It takes skill and patience to use the wand to the correct degree to pick up only your own colour.

Bellz Magnetic Game

Bellz Game Storage Pouch

The game comes in a handy pouch which makes packing it up really handy. When the pouch opens up it doubles as the paying board – very handy! (see pic opposite)

 

What we thought?

Did it aid the “im bored” cries? Yes it did for a while anyway!! What we liked w was how portable it is and its definitely appealing for all ages too.  We were able to take it travelling with us big plus in my book as lots of board games aren’t so portable. The downsides for me were that id love if there were two wands supplied as my pair ended up making their own version of the game up and two wands would have saved the odd argument. More of a nice to have. This award winning game from Spinmaster is priced around €15 and would an ideal one for summer holiday.

In summary the Mamma Fairy house gives this one a thumbs up. I have even caught the Dada Fairy giving it a go!!!

Note: We were sent the Bellz Magnetic Game for review however as always all view are my own or the boys where appropriate.
Mamma Musings

How to Have a Sizzling Summer Holiday without Leaving Home

Summer holidays can be the highlight of the year for some of us, giving us the chance to escape the stresses of everyday life and relax in our own little paradise. However, not everyone can go on their dream holiday every year, for a wide variety of reasons ranging from family commitments to work schedules. As many of us are trying to tighten our belts in these uncertain economic times, it’s sometimes necessary to skip the expensive summer holiday and make our own fun at home instead. While this might not inspire the same enthusiasm as a tropical island break, it’ll certainly prevent us from worrying as much and might even give us a whole new perspective on what a summer holiday is. Read these tips and have a spectacular summer in the comfort of your own home.

Time Off

Me time

Taking some “me” time is good for the soul

Just because you’re not going away on holiday, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take some time off work to enjoy the summer. If you’re going to be spending time with family, make sure you sync up your holidays so you can make the most out of your holiday time. Book one or two weeks off and make sure you don’t do anything even resembling work during this time! If you or your family are known for working at home when you really shouldn’t be (ahem thats you Dada Fairy), then designate a cupboard for all of your work things to go in during the holidays. Make the cupboard off-limits for as long as you possibly can, and you’ll be surprised at how relaxing your at-home holiday is.

Plan Days In

Fun days in

Days in can be just as fun

While days out can be fun, having special days in at home can be cheaper, more relaxing and just as action packed. If you have children, planning themed days for them in the house can provide the whole family with endless activities to enjoy. You can have a family cooking class, start a band together, become artists or do a spot of gardening. All of these activities are as educational as they are fun, and will keep your family active during the summer. If you don’t have children, you can still take these ideas and enjoy them with your partner or with friends. Time away from the television is definitely quality time, however you choose to spend it!

Get Outdoors

If you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor space, such as a garden, yard or even a park close by, then make sure you take full advantage of this during your summer holiday at home. Spending time outdoors is something we don’t do nearly enough these days, so leave your phones inside and go out for a game of lawn tennis, football or even an obstacle course. For a whole day of outdoor fun, you could plan a family olympics, including as many activities you can think of. You may even wish to invest in a paddling pool or trampoline to really make the summer one to remember, and keep the kids busy for hours at a time!

Brighten Up Your Home

Nothing screams summer like a beautifully bright living space, so why not take some time to restyle your sitting room or kitchen? You can simply rearrange your furniture so that it doesn’t block any of that glorious sunshine, or your could add some summery home accessories that give the space some splashes of colour. For more long-term solutions, try painting your walls a lighter colour, changing dark carpets to light ones, or for something totally wow check out these amazing internal bifolds to your living area. We intalled outdoor ones and they are seriously amazing this time of year a the garden becomes an extenion of the kitchen and we have a huge space for us and the  kids to play.  For us it has really opened up ou home and made what was once a dark space into a bright and airy space.

Summer Foods

Summer foods

Summer foods

Perhaps the easiest way to get in a summer mood is to eat summery food, so get in the kitchen and cook up some treats for your family and friends to enjoy at a summer party. This could be in the garden, if you’re lucky enough to have one, or in your newly decorated living room! Find yourself some brightly coloured summer recipes, enlist the help of your loved ones and enjoy a day of summer cocktails, delicious salads and homemade ice lollies. Even if the sun isn’t shining outside, as long as you have some summer music, tasty treats and good company, you’ll be feeling super summery all day long. 

 

Note – collaborative post
Mamma Musings

Move over Fidget Spinner here comes Mokuru

Mokuru the latest craze???

Who hasnt heard of the Fidget Spinner??!! Very few I reckon. However I think its reign is about to come to a halt as the Mokuru explodes onto the market.

Mokuru

Mokuru

What is Mokuru

The Mokuru is the latest toy craze which by the looks of things is set to be as big as the Fidget Spinner. Its a desktop toy made out of beechwood thats tests your hand eye coordination as well as skill and patience.

How to Mokuru!!

I am not ashamed to admit when this barrel shaped object appeared in my letter box I didnt know what to do, fear not my 5 year old came to the rescue and quite skillfully showed me how it was done.  Its it so addicitve.  We have been trying to beat each others records of “bouncing” it along the kitchen table. You can also use it two player or aim for Mokuru Master and use up to 5 of them at the one time. See here to see it in action and some commentarty from its creator.

The Verdict 

Mokuru

Mokuru

Sorry kids this one is mine! This is the ideal office desk toy! I always find myself doodling at my desk in work so decided to take the Mokuru in to work and I am slighlty obsessed. It brillant for people like me who love to fidget or doodle while concentrating on something. Its available from Smyths and Amazon and I really think this is the next big thing for kids, like the spinners the market will be flooded with fakes and copies over time but do look for the original.  Priced around €10.

 

 

Note: We were sent the Mokuru for review however all views remain mine or the boys where appropriate
Mamma Musings

Planning a holiday? Here are some money saving tips and tricks I use

Tips and tricks when booking holdiays 

Since I published this post I have been asked lots of times for any money saving tips and tricks I have for taking the family long haul.  I thought I’d set out some of those which helped us  anyway!

  • Source: Pixabay

    The money jar

I know this is old fashioned but what we tend to do when we book a holiday like Toronto is keep a jar of our loose change and convert it the week before we head away.  We had 8 months of saving for Toronto and had a nice sum of coins saved which converted into CAD$225. Along the same vein and I know this sounds a bit crazy myself and my husband put aside €20 each month and covert it that month to the currency of our destination this meant another CAD$470  to add to the pot.

  • Deals, Deals Deals

I am the queen of the deal! I just love a good deal. I scour the internet for good deals in our chosen destination.  Groupon is your friend. For example we had pancakes for lunch one of the days at Krepesz, that was pancakes for 4 and drinks for CAD$50.  While in Niagara Falls I booked the Captain Jacks Fun Zone  tickets which the kids thoroughly enjoyed and I saved 70% off the normal price.  There are so many options in these places so by buying in advance (the kids and the adults) know what included and we have a set amount of tokens each. There are also lots of hotel options on Groupon too with great saving or added extras.  A couple we spoke to at breakfast had got a great deal at the Sheraton on the Falls via Groupon with a Falls view room.

  • Shop around especially for Hotels

There are a myriad of hotel booking options with varying rates of discounts.

Source: Pixabay

One of my personal favourites is booking.com.  Also check out Expedia or hotels.com or as mentioned above Groupon hotel deal. Sign up for alerts for these site to keep up to dates on the latest deals and offerings.  Do shop around as rates can vary considerably.  It can also be a good option to check call the hotel direct as I have found that some will match the rates found elsewhere.

 

  • Flights

Source: Pixabay

This one is bit more tricky and sometime can just be down to the fact that the stars align and sales and timing of your trip work out. But failing that some things you can do include:

  • Settting up Sky Scanner alerts – im a big fan of this. You get emails relating to prices changes for the flight you are considering.
  • Timing – some times of the year are simply cheaper than others so do your research and look for the off peak times in the destinations you plan on visiting
  • Avios, this is currency of a number of airlines and you can collect point by purchasing flights or with the airline or any of its partners. For example you can convert you SuperValu real rewards to Avios points.  I had a quick look and its around 8,000 points for a return European flight. Not too bad!

Has anybody any other good holiday saving tips they have feel free to add them in the comments.

 

Note: Contains #affliate links
Cuddle Fairy
Mamma Reviews

Oblumi Tapp Thermometer Review

Oblumi Tapp

Oblumi Tapp – More than just a thermometer….

The Oblumi Tapp is an innovative approach to mixing a medical device with everyday technology. Its a small device that when connected to your smart phone enables your phone to become a infrared digital thermometer. Incredibly handy for on the go or travelling.

The Oblumi Tapp is so much more than a themometer though  its key features include:

 

  • Temperatures can be taken either in ear or forehead. It also has the ability to take the temparate of liquids. Very handy!
  • It calculates the accurate medicine dosage based on the information submitted to the app for each child at the outset
  • You can create alarms to remind you when the next dose of medicaiton is due
  • Each family member can have a profile set up that records the key data for each person
  • It also registers the history for each patient,  very handy if you had any follow up for example in a hospital situation where you can let the medical professional know the temperatures recorded and any medication given. My littlest man ended up in hospital following his 6 month injection and I was in such a fluster I could barly tell the Doctor the childs name. Had I had the Oblumi this would not have arose. The required information would have been available on my phone in an instant.

Mamma Fairy Verdict – the Oblumi Tapp

Oblumi Tapp App

We really love to travel in the Mamma Fairy house so products that make life easy when travelling get a big thumbs up from our house.  Very handy due to its small size plus it comes with a little durable pouch to store it in.  Its very easy to use and the app is free to download. It took me a couple of attempts to get the hang of using it so do try before you need it in an emergency.

My bench mark when testing a product is would I buy this for a pregnant friend or family member as a gift.  Without hesitation yes I would. The compact size, the easy of use, the app which stores key data are huge plus points over a traditional thermometer.

It costs  €49.95 from Bubblebum  in Ireland. For further information on the product see also Oblumi

 

Note: We were sent the Oblumi Tapp for review this in no way impacts our views on the product.

Family Fever
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

Our recent family trip to Toronto

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

Grand Hotel Toronto

View from balcony

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.

Grand Hotel Toronto

Rooftop pool at the Grand Hotel Toronto

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,
    Ripley Aquarium

    Ripleys Aquarium

    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
    CN Tower

    CN Tower

    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. 

 

 

WANDERLUST KIDS