The Incredible Lifecycle Of A Butterfly!

Have you ever grown a butterfly? No, us neither until very recently. Big monkey turned six back in May and one of his presents was a Live Butterfly Garden. Now I'm not quite sure why but I was quite excited about this gift. You send off for five caterpillars, which get sent in the post and as soon as you get them, you need to unpack their container and just sit back and watch them grow!
I must say I was pretty grossed out when the caterpillars reached about 10 x their original size and the pot was full of skin. Yuck! The process where they hang from the lid and turn into chrysalides is pretty awesome though and all along the monkeys took great interest in the changes. The best and most exciting phase was seeing the butterflies come to life. That was truly amazing! They leave their chrysalides just hanging there.......weird but amazing! Those painted lady butterflies are beautiful don't you think? 
Sadly one out of five did not make it into a butterfly but we set four off into the big wide world, which was awesome. 
Three of them were quick to fly off but one, as you can see, hang around long enough for big monkey and daddy to hold before joining it's friends.
We'll definitely be doing this again. It was fab!


On Ya Bike......

As soon as the monkeys were old enough we felt it was important we teach them to ride a bike, so we used a balance bike, which we'd heard are good for teaching children to ride without the need for stabilisers and basically there was no going back! Not for big monkey anyway. 
He used the balance bike for the first time the month he turned three years old.
Big monkeys first go on his balance bike
After riding on the balance bike a handful of times daddy decided to try him on the pre-loved pedal bike we had been given. The bike was about the same size as the balance bike, and we were amazed when big monkey rode it, first on grass, where he had a few falls, and then as he got more confident, on the path's near to us by the park. People actually commented on his ability and age, for cycling so well so young! He was riding the pedal bike confidently before he turned four. We were chuffed. As was he!
This is him on the pedal bike my parents bought him for his 4th Birthday.
Riding confidently in the woods
So as soon as little monkey turned three we felt it was time to start taking him out on the balance bike we had kept for him. Little monkey wasn't really keen to begin with. He preferred his trike but we've been taking baby steps to let him get a feel for the bike and gain confidence.
Little monkey looking happier with Daddies help
He is a way off being ready to ride a pedal bike yet, but we are taking him out as much as he wants to, and we can't wait for the day we can all go cycling together as a family. Big monkey wears a cycle helmet, as do we when we cycle. Safety is very important to us and we want to teach them how to cycle safely too. We usually stay local and take the monkeys to the park for a bike ride but eventually we'll enjoy taking the bikes further afield, especially now that Daddy and I have new bikes too!
The monkeys and their bikes at the park
Center Parcs spokesperson, Sam Dowsing, Cycle Centre Manager at Elveden Forest, - See more at: http://blog.centerparcs.co.uk/family-blogger-june-challenge/#sthash.fQ3AL3p0.dpuf
The Center Parcs June challenge is cycling. Spokesperson Sam Dowsing says "if your little ones are new to cycling, confidence and practice is key. I’ve found that concentrating on gliding, rather than peddling helps children to balance in the early stages. Taking them to a park is a great, safe place to get them started on two wheels."

We try to go out as much as possible, to build little monkeys confidence. He has already got more enthusiastic about trying the balance bike, as you can see from our recent cycle ride to the park.
Almost ready for the off!
And we're off.....
Bikes set down whilst the monkeys play in the park
Water at the ready for hydration
Always use a well fitting helmet
This is my entry into the Center Parcs and Tots100 June Challenge. If I'm chosen I would like to visit Elveden Forest. Happy cycling!


Woolly & Tig Songs for Wobbly Moments CD - Review

Released on July 7th is a brand new CD for Woolly and Tig fans......Songs for Wobbly Moments!
You'll then be able to download it for £4.99 from iTunes for those fans to sing, dance and jump to.
A fun collection of songs from the TV show on Cbeebies, the 'I love Woolly' theme tune is included.......I bet you'll soon have that tune in your head!
We've been listening to, and jigging alone to the CD! All 20 songs.
The track includes songs 'Funky Dunky' 'Weenie Worries' and 'Cheeky Wee Echo', including others from the show. We love Woolly and Tig and really like this CD.
Why not pop back once it's on general release and let me know your little ones favourite song! Now, I'm off to see if I can stop singing 'I Love Woolly'!! I'm not sure I can.
*All thoughts and opinions are my own*

My Sunday Photo

We grew this beautiful butterfly and set her free last Sunday........


Project365 Round Up - Week 26

This week has been somewhat different to what I expected! Sunday saw us saying goodbye to our butterflies, which was awesome! It was lovely being home with my family again after being at BritMums, and I felt really good about everything. Sadly as the week has gone on, not so much so! Monday was a quiet day indoors, after being busy for us all over the weekend. Tuesday the monkeys and I went to the Dentist and I felt excited about taking little monkey out for the day on Wednesday with friends. Sadly this is where our week went belly up! Big monkey was sick in the night, and he only went back to school Friday. Then little monkey was sick too and I have got their bug also. So this week has mainly been about staying indoors, resting up and avoiding certain bodily fluids. Here's our photo round up for days 173-179.
#Day173. The only butterfly tame enough to sit on daddy's and big monkeys hands.
#Day174. Little monkey insisted he wasn't tired but after a cuddle and lullaby. This!
#Day175. I was so excited to spot this shoot. I had thought my old hydrangea was dead. It's at least 8yrs old, so I'm thrilled it's not.
#Day176. I spotted a single Lily in our garden. I love them.
#Day177. One recovering and one coming down with this D&V bug which has hit 3 out of 4 of us! 
#Day178. Poorly little monkey, who spent most of the day on the sofa with me. 
#Day179. We nipped out to see daddy at work and the monkeys had a little go on some of the equipment! 

How's your week been? As usual we're linking up this post with The Boy and Me.
TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky


Interctive Story Book - Review

You may have gathered that the monkeys love books. Big monkey is getting so good at reading and both love listening to stories. I knew they would be keen to review this lovely interactive storybook from Hallmark, as soon as I saw the title! All Aboard, written by Stacey Donovan and illustrated by Scott Brown is about Connor the train conductor who is heading to Celebration City for a holiday, but he needs the monkeys help!

Read the story aloud and Connor chimes in with a question or choice for your child to make.

We set to work reading the story, listening for Connor and responding to his questions. Our verdict?! We loved it!
Across the top of the book is an on/off switch. Just turn the book on, read clearly and aloud where there is little background noise (not easy in this house!), and wait for Connor to speak up! Both monkeys, but more so the three year old, found hearing Connor awesome. His face was a picture. The illustrations are great and really help to engage the child. The interaction from Connor is relevant to the illustrations and text. There are over 30 different possibilities when the interaction takes place and of course you could just read the book as usual if you wanted too. Just don't switch it on. When not in use the book automatically switches off.

This is a lovely storybook and I know the monkeys, in particular little monkey, will love it for a long time....anything relating to trains gets him at hello! A great gift from Hallmark for any train fans out there. Ideal for children with special needs too I would say. The book retails at £9.99 and is suited for ages 3yrs and up.

*I was sent this book to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own* 

We're going on an adventure


Parragon Book Buddies - May Review

Last months Paragon Book Buddies Book sent to us for review really did excite our big monkey, for it was a book all about making paper planes! The book, My Stuff Paper Planes, has inside it 25 planes to fold and fly. Included are 50 mega stickers too. It's save to say Big monkey loved it, although at six years old he did need daddy to help him model the planes, before flying them. The book contains amazing instructions to make great planes with games to play too.
The book folds out to reveal the stickers, instructions and 25 paper plane templates.
There are all sorts of planes to make, one being this Thunder Flame.
This is a real 'boys toys' kind of book for dads and sons to enjoy. They certainly did in this house and there's plenty more to make too! A great rainy day activity, especially with the school holidays coming up!


Fruity Floats - A New Swim Aid For Kids

Proudly made in the UK new Fruity Floats come in pink, orange and green - strawberry, orange and apple flavours! They are super comfy, are made from soft touch technology, are easy to dry and have been designed by swim teachers to aid the development of young swimmers. Little monkey needs to have swimming lessons and we need to take both monkeys swimming more often. So we're really looking forward to trying the fruity float out with them. A review of the orange one is to follow.
The fruity float is only suitable from age three and up and can be 'worn' or held depending on swim ability and body weight. Take a look at the fruity float site and we'll be back as soon as possible with our thoughts on it.
Can your child swim? How important to you is it that they learn?


London Baby!.....BritMums Live 2014

This weekend has been so much fun and has really helped me to see things differently. It was just the break I needed to come home feeling invigorated, more positive and with a refreshed and renewed admiration for my husband and sons. You know, you go away, they miss you, you miss them and everyone appreciates each other a little more! That's what I'm trying to say!
All ready to get the train
Bloggers in the Venue Court Yard
I had a blast, it was so lovely to meet bloggers who I had been in contact with but never met. I also got to spend more time with friends who I had already met, and that was fantastic. Being me Jo Laybourn instead of wife and mummy everyday! Don't get me wrong I love my family with every ounce of my being but I needed that time out and time to be me.

In the main hall listening to one of the speakers
My own personalised Coke Bottle
Britmums Live was held at The Brewery, London. A lovely venue which was in my opinion just prefect for 700 parent bloggers. Proudly sponsored by Style Attack I arrived set to pick up tips, hear great speakers and meet fantastic like minded bloggers and that I did. There were too many I wanted to meet and chat too, to do just that but in the main I met many from the mental list in my head. 
Some of my good friends, Clare, Jen, Liz, AK, & Carly
The keynote from Emma Freud on Friday was funny and interesting and set the tone for the rest of the afternoon. It was great to watch the Brilliance in Blogging Awards at the end of day one, and I want to Congratulate all the winners. I'd not heard of all their blogs but I now have more to read!
Me, Jen and AK
My room mate for the night at the Hoxton Hotel, in Shoreditch, was my good friend AK and her lovely baby daughter Molly Mae. It was great returning from a lovely meal out with bloggers, to chat about our day, comfortable in each others company and reflecting on our first ever blogging conference. Molly Mae slept right through bless her, so I couldn't have asked for better roomies. The Hoxton was great and really reasonable. I'd stay there again!
Day two started emotionally with the keynote from Benjamin Brooks-Dutton, father, author and blogger, who stood in front of 700 people and spoke about his passion for keeping his deceased wife's memory alive for his son and how he hopes to help people talk about death.
Watching a live desert demonstration in the Morrisons kitchen
Then onto some sessions for me, Google+ being one of them and how to run Giveaways on your blog. Both very interesting and informative. Very popular choices too! With sessions throughout the day there was still time to mingle amongst brands, meet new friends and spent time with old ones. Lunch in the very lovely decorated marquee was great and very sociable but for me the food wasn't my thing. However the food being bought out in the Morrisons 'kitchen' was!
The beautifully decorated marquee
Enjoying a vino at lunch on Saturday
A great Instagram session in the afternoon, was followed by tea break, more chit chat and then the final keynote by bloggers reading moving blog posts and finally a great insert from The Good Enough Mums Club, which was uplifting and hilarious! 
Me in my sponsor t.shirt
Of course there were goodies bags for attendees at the end and they did not disappoint. Would I go again? I think yes! 
Despite missing the boys more than I care to admit, I think I'd stay a second night next time and ideally at the Montcalm, right there at The Brewery. 
I feel so much better for going away for the weekend, I've been spurred to finally lose the weight I want to and I feel good. Like really good!! 

Thanks BritMums. Thanks also to my fab sponsors Style Attack, and of course to AK and Molly Mae.


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