Friday, 1 August 2014

Learning Resources Hot Dots Review and Competition

I have heard of Hot Dots but not had an opportunity to try them until now.  We were sent the Let’s Learn Grammar set, which included the Talking Hot Dots Pen and three activity books.  I was very impressed as the pen worked with the activity books straight away, we had no need to download from a separate website wasting precious time and energy!

The boys could just enjoy learning at their leisure and without any real attention from mummy!  The pen lets them know if they have answered correctly by lighting green and red if an answer is wrong, so they soon pick up lots of new skills as they work through the carefully structured activities.

I thought my eldest who is 7 was quite capable at reading but approaching grammar is a whole other ballgame, working through the activity books I can easily see the gaps in his knowledge and address it with extra help.  To be honest I am learning a few things myself which is a slight concern given the pack is aimed at 5-7 year olds, obviously I could do with a brush up of my grammar skills too!

I think the testament to just how much I liked the idea of Hot Dots and all the activity books was the fact I placed a rather large order this morning for lots more products, spanning different subjects like time, money and science!!!  I do not think hubbie was too keen on my mad Hot Dots spending spree but if it helps the boys get a good start with their education then I think its money well spent.  At the very least it seems to keep them preoccupied for a bit and out of mischief, so I am really looking forward to my delivery arriving.

I have another set exactly like the one we reviewed to giveaway here, if you would like to enter please complete the rafflecopter below by the 24th of August.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Getting into the Carnival Spirit

We love staying in Holiday Inn; the boys do too for them it was the excitement of having complimentary milk and cookies and the crayons and activity sheets at dinner at the Holiday Inn Maidenhead/Windsor.  But if you’re an adult obviously milk and cookies might not cut it!  You might be looking for some more sophisticated entertainment than colouring in, decent facilities are important but there is nothing like watching a live act to truly unwind and relax.

I quite like themed occasions, when you can get into costume and enjoy something out of the ordinary.  Holiday Inn London – Kensington Forum actually has a Caribbean Event, I can just imagine wearing a colourful tropical print dress and adding a few flowers to my hair, sipping on cocktails and enjoying the Caribbean cuisine.  Given how much of my time is usually dedicated to searching out hotels purely for the children with suitable activities for them, the idea of an event catered more for me seems very indulgent.  I would love to travel to the Caribbean so this is really the next best thing, until funds allow us to go long haul!

This is the perfect event for the summer, live entertainment and music completing the evening.  Given my boys have the social life in this household would it be terribly wrong if hubbie and I had a night away every now and then.  If I do not manage to I will definitely be recommending it to my London friends, I am sure they would like to get their hands on a big jug of rum punch. 

The events are scheduled in August, so if you are planning on heading to Holiday Inn London – Kensington Forum do not leave it too long.  The menu sounds mouth-watering plenty of traditional Caribbean fare, fried red snapper, jerk pork and fried plantain and a new one on me, Buss Up Shut that I had to google.  It turned out to be unleavened bread.  I think heading here would be an education into food for me! 

The live entertainment consists of a steel band and a limbo dancer; I am always impressed how low they can go!  I struggle to bend my knees to pick up my keys when I drop them I could never get my body flexible enough to navigate the lowest poles without knocking them!  Although after a few jugs of rum punch I might be emboldened to give it a try… 

With only children over 12 allowed at the event, it should be nice and peaceful without an activity book or kids buffet in sight!  Bliss.

A Healthy Attitude To Saving

It sounds like the younger generations have a sensible approach to saving these days.  I am 35 so well out of the 18-24 year old category mentioned on the Scottish Friendly website but I still remember being that age.  I went to university and I think I was doing more of the raving and less of the saving mentioned in their post!  Planning for the future for me back then involved checking out the best watering hole to meet up with friends or finding out the latest event happening in the local nightclub, it never occurred to me to actually put some money away.  I was living on super noodles and any spare cash went straight behind the bar…

Now I am older (and hopefully a little wiser) I wish I had saved more.  Despite money being incredibly tight all those years back I could have spent less on socialising and squirreled some away I am sure.  The results are reassuring though, hopefully with so many young adults saving money my boys will eventually follow suit when its there time to head out into the big wide world.

Jobs are harder to come by and sadly it can be a real challenge getting on the property ladder so any nest egg will always help you when you need it most.  The boys do have piggy banks now so I am hoping that gives them an insight into the benefits of not spending every penny they have, they can save for things they really need rather than splurge on sweets!

If I had treated those days at university differently and earmarked some of my money for savings I would not be in such a pickle now facing all this expensive building work.  I would have been more financially sound instead of juggling bank accounts, counting down the days till payday and of course relying on the bank of mum and dad.  Where would we be without the help of our parents, I am firmly with the 44% of 18-24 year olds in that respect, they have made buying our new house a reality.

The disposable income index Scottish Friendly commissioned showed on average they had managed to save £3,200, I think this is very impressive and right now would make a huge difference to us in our new house.  Hubbie never went to university but he managed to spend any extra money he had on technology and gadgets, he was a gamer at heart so he overdid it with anything to do with computers.  I am relieved to say that these days our attitude to money is much more healthy, I rarely spend on myself and socialising of an evening is a thing of the past with young children.  Once we get over this little hiccup of renovating a bigger house I will start saving in earnest.

To keep updated about saving news and research you can follow Scottish Friendly through their social media pages, facebook, twitter and google+.