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Thursday, 21 May 2015

Top Tips for Visiting Build A Bear To Get Out Alive And With Your Wallet Mostly Intact

My children love their local Build A Bear store. Actually, they love all Build a Bear Stores and so I thought I'd share with you some of my top tips for getting out alive and with your wallet mostly intact.

Top Tips for Visiting Build A Bear To Get Out Alive And With Your Wallet Mostly Intact

Join the Stuff For Stuff Rewards Scheme

Apart from having a really lovely card to put in your wallet, you will also have get vouchers sent to you periodically. Basically you earn 1 point for every £1 you spend and when you reach 50 points, you earn a £5 Reward Voucher.

The children use these vouchers for discounts on more expensive bears, and as they are valid for six months after issue, I tend to be covered if I need a discount on a major purchase like we typically make for gifts at  Christmas and Birthdays! Talking of which, in the run up to Christmas you can sometimes get offers, for example spend x amount and get a free gift voucher to spend in store. One year my Mum and Sister both gave Top Ender BAB clothes for Christmas and BAB Vouchers for her birthday a few weeks later.

Forget the Accessories

Sometimes some of the accessories are a little pricey. You, know I know and I'm sure Build a Bear know it. Sometimes, it's nice to buy all the BAB branded items, but it isn't always necessary and you can sometimes find exactly what you are after in discount stores. The best example for me was when Top Ender wanted a replacement mobile phone for her Bear. She got a cheap one at the 99p shop, stuck a bit of elastic on the back and volia she had an accessory for a lot less.

Don't Bother With Outfits

One of the great things about the way stores are set up is that you can avoid the clothing section if you're smart. Don't get me wrong, the clothes are adorable but like the accessories they can be pricey and you can often find newborn or premie baby clothes that will suit the toy just as much and for a whole lot less! To avoid the clothing section, once your bear has been stuffed you can either turn the child so they face the naming station straight away, or position yourself between the clothing and washing station and direct their attention to creating the all important birth certificate.

As a family we keep a look out on ebay and local selling sites for people that are selling old bears and clothing, as these are either heavily discounted or in some cases being given away free.

Set A Price Limit

Just try to make it clear to your child before you go in that you aren't letting them purchase anything other than the teddy, or that if they want an outfit they can only have X amount and so they have to spend less on the bear so they can have enough for an outfit.

Funny enough, this works well on children of all ages!

Go First Thing

When you visit the store, it honestly is best to go first thing in the morning. I've been at so many different times, but visiting first thing in the morning when the store has just opened is so much better. I think that this may be because it isn't busy first thing, most people are not aiming to be at the shopping centre for 9am and the staff had all had their morning coffees and are for the most part well rested!

It's much easier to keep a child distracted in a short queue, whilst waiting for a bear to be stuffed than it is a long one so you'll feel less driven to drink than you would if you visited from lunch time onwards!

So they are my top tips for visiting a Build a Bear store and getting out alive and with your wallet mostly intact... do you have anything to add?
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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Promise Pets from Build A Bear #Review

One of the great things about our local Build A Bear store, is that when we go in every member of staff knows who Top Ender, Big Boy, Daddy and I are and greet us by name. Admittedly, we have been going to the store for several years and the children are forever popping into check out new outfits and other accessories and see new bears, but it is still amazing to me that the staff know me and my family and the staff can even remember for the most part what bears and bits and pieces the children have. Most of the staff know I blog too, as I've done a couple of reviews in the store in the past and so they weren't surprised when I turned up after they had been told a blogger and her two children were coming in to experience the new Promise Pet line.

Promise Pets from Build A Bear #Review

The children were most excited and had already decided what pets they would like to adopt from the new range after having been on the website (it's in both their browser favourites) and made a beeline straight for the pets and picked out the dogs they decided were the cutest.

Big Boy and Top Ender cuddling their not yet stuffed Promise Pets

As always, the amount of care and attention give to the children was outstanding. As they cuddled their not yet stuffed puppies, the staff were asking them the questions we've come to love them for. Asking Top Ender if she was ready for her exams, if she'd been in to get her latest Pony, if she'd seen the new Ponies that have been added online. Asking BB if he'd been in hospital recently, if he'd got any new SmallFrys (the little teddies the store sells), how he was enjoying Beavers. They then started asking us the questions about the Puppies the children had picked, what the children were thinking of calling them, if they were boys or girls and if they knew there was an app for their devices to help them learn how to take care of a pet.

The Children of course had their answers all worked out and delighted in the magical creating of the pets, with extra special love, hugs and kisses being planted onto the hearts before being stuffed inside the pets with a wish (BB's was that his puppy would come to life when it was with him and he could play with it forever) and made sure that they were stuffed enough to stand up but also squishable enough to be perfect for hugging.

Top Ender helping stuff her Promise Pet

The children gave their pets the traditional quick brush and fluff up, before heading over to the computers to create their Birth Certificates and of course to the counter to pay for them.

Top Ender and Big Boy brushing their pets at the wash station

Top Ender filling in her Birth Certificate

BB's Promise Pet about to be put in his first Kennel

The children carried the Puppies home in their kennels, where both Children began customising their pets home with crayons, pens and pencils ensuring that their pets names were neatly written above the Kennel door.

It was a week later after BB had counted his Birthday money that he decided to go back to Build a Bear to buy another Puppy. Again, the staff greeted him like the old friend that he is and dealt with him in exactly the same way they do every customer, just with the added benefit of knowing BB's name. BB this time purchased Pat (the Dog, hahah, Pat the Dog!) a brother for Gen to play with along with some accessories to ensure that all three puppies are kept safe and warm, clean and tidy and of course well fed.

Keep an eye out for a future post in which I'll share my top tips for visiting a Build A Bear store and getting out not only alive but also with most of your wallet intact!

We were given two free Promise Pets to do this review.
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Monday, 18 May 2015

The First and Second Week of May

I love May, I think it's because of my Birthday being at the start of it, BB's being in the middle of it and the last week of it generally being Half term that some childhood part of me clings to May as being a good month. I've also discovered that May can also be a month of revelations, but the good kind and for that I think that January, September and May all rank as three of my favourite months of the year and my own personal "Start Over" months too.

With that in mind, here is May so far.

The First Week Of May

Week one saw me celebrate my birthday and put on a tonne of weight. It was unfair of me on myself to have let myself relax as much as I did and I know that in the future I have to be more balanced. If I do relax and eat a tonne of junk food then I need to remember to pair it with a lot more healthy living in the preceding and succeeding weeks.

Anyway. We had the Missionaries round for dinner the day after my birthday and I swear, not every member of the Church can play the Guitar, or indeed has one just laying around for Missionaries to play, it just seems that way in my ward!

Elder Tina'o playing Guitar

We went for a great family walk to see some Bluebells in one of our favourite woods. Normally I stick to a shorter circular walk, but we went a bit further in the woods as it was a nice enough evening and saw some amazing spreads of Bluebells.

Bluebells in the Woods

When Top Ender went to the Cinema with her Guide Troop (are they called Troops?), BB and I went to an American Diner. Not really knowing what to expect, BB ordered the adult pancakes and when they arrived... well lets just say it's a good job they have containers for Doggy bags!

BB with Pancakes the size of a small car... house... well at least his head!

BB declared the diner his best restaurant ever, and I think we may become regulars as long as they keep serving pancakes for BB that is!

The Second Week Of May

On Saturday Morning we got up to the City Centre fairly early, as the children had been given a Promise Pet by Build a Bear and they had to go and help make it. They both chose Dogs, which surprised me because we aren't a dog family, something our five cats should tell you!

Top Ender and Big Boy with their new Promise Pet Puppies

The Dogs were named Minnie (Top Ender's) and Gen (BB's) and have been showered with love and attention since getting home. I'll be writing a blog post about them this week, so look out for it as there is a lot about these Promise Pet's that you might not know yet!

The week was passing in a sort of just another week, until in the middle of the night or extremely early Tuesday Morning my Mum called me to let me know her Cat (who we got for her birthday almost one year before) had just given birth to her first kitten. My Mum stayed up the rest of the night counting Kittens and Placenta's being born and got to watch Dotty gently clean the kittens before eating each Placenta.

Dotty and her Kittens

When I got round later that Dotty was discovering how demanding having three babies was, and was most grateful for the attention given to her, with a few special cat treats being presented to her to eat whilst laying down and feeding them for what seemed like the last 24 hrs. Obviously I don't know if this is true, but I assume the purring and rubbing of her head on my had indicated that she was happy!

During the middle of the week a friend mentioned that she and some of her friends, acquaintances of mine, had been talking about me. It wasn't in a gossipy way, well at least the way she explained it wasn't, but they were talking about how I'm always so positive and that they'd like some of the positivity drugs I must be on, or some of the alcohol I'm consuming to provide them with the same happy go lucky type of thing attitude. It was quite funny talking with her about it, because yes whilst I do smile a lot and seem so bouncy and positive, I'm sure that it is just an act as I'm secretly a depressed goth inside!

Friday had us celebrating BB's 7th birthday. I can't believe he is already 7, but it's true and I think that BB had a great day based on the number of smiles, grins and general happiness that we had together.

Big Boy is Seven!

Daddy had taken a day off work so he could be here for gift opening and general family fun after School, which meant that we were able to take Tops and Daddy to the American Diner for dinner. Luckily they really enjoyed the meal too and agreed that it will become a firm family favourite because the food is delicious and the prices incredibly reasonable.

Top Ender spent the night on a Guide Camp, which was fine by BB as we spent the evening playing on one of his new Wii U games and Daddy, BB and I got fairly good together, however I'm not sure that we'll be finishing this game as quickly as some of the other games BB has had in the past!

May Has Had Me Decluttering

Well, not a lot really. Not because I don't want to be, but just because there is so much clutter I'm not sure where I should be concentrating my decluttering efforts. I've seen lots of chat recently about the Marie Kondo, "Does this bring me joy" method of decluttering and I'm thinking I should give it a whirl... but I'm also actuely aware that if I do do this I could end up with a very minimalist home!

So this is May so far for me and mine. How are you all and what have you been up to?
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Friday, 15 May 2015

Big Boy's 7th Birthday

Today is Big Boy's 7th birthday and it gives me yet another chance to think back about the life that he's had and to remember how he used to be and just how much we love him!

Giving birth to Big Boy was memorable, as Big Boy was born in his amniotic sac and decided to have his first poop before he'd fully exited me. We spent the first night in hospital together, me looking at Big Boy and not wanting to put him down (although I did, I learnt from Top Ender!).

Big Boy when he was born

Big Boy's first birthday came all too quickly and I think that someone may have been a little spoiled.

Big Boy at One

I swear that we blinked and it was Big Boy's second birthday. Do you remember when all his pictures had him surrounded in little curls?

Big Boy at Two

Big Boy's third birthday was memorable for the number of cakes he had and the fact that he insisted that what he wanted was a Tinker Bell cake.

Big Boy at Three

Big Boy's fourth birthday was about picnics and the best wrapping paper in the world (according to Big Boy) as it featured Mario and Luigi!

Big Boy at Four

His Fifth birthday was full of gifts, fun and well kisses.

Big Boy at Five

His Sixth birthday, was marked with two parties (one for family, one for friends), lots of gifts and Mario and Peach the kittens joining the family!

Big Boy at Six

And his Seventh birthday? Well I have a feeling it is going to be awesome. I just wish that time didn't fly quite so fast.
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Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Making The Wrong Choices

At Church we have a song that the children sing, called Choose The Right. It's a nice song which encourages children to, funny enough, Choose The Right. The song is something that I often find myself humming at random moments in time and I've found that it's also really useful to hum at the children when they are making choices that I might not approve of... it's also really good advice for when you're lost in a maze.


Recently I've been making good choices in relation to my general health and well being.

Top Ender and PippaD out for a run

I'm sure you've all seen that I've been exercising more and that I've been out running with Top Ender and for long walks with the family. Some of you may have seen that I've been tracking my food on My Fitness Pal and just generally making better food choices, many of which I've been photographing and putting on Instagram.

And it's been working.

I've been losing weight, I can feel muscles in my thighs, calves and upper arms getting stronger and harder. I've been eating a variety of foods and finding out that despite my Dr Pepper and Chocolate addiction that I can curb my cravings and moderate my intake to allow myself a treat that isn't also going to be the reason for my premature death. I've also discovered that taking photographs of my food and putting it on Instagram helps me to monitor not only what I'm eating, but how I'm eating. I mean why would you spend twenty minutes making something look pretty, cutting up the vegetables etc to just wolf it down in thirty seconds without bothering to pause and savour the flavours?

A lovely Prawn Salad

In my lovely box for Important Things that my husband gave me, I'm storing my printouts from the weighing scales in Tesco or Boots. They are numbered, so that I can see how much weight I've lost each week, how my body fat percentage is going down, how my health is generally improving. I've got lists of my measurements (because muscle weighs more than fat, so it's important to know if the scale doesn't move it might be because of the muscle gain rather that lack of fat loss).

School Run Mums are commenting on my reducing girth (although they use much prettier and encouraging words, one of them has nicknamed me Wafer, as she says pretty soon I'll be Wafer Thin!) and asking if I've been for my run when they see me in my Exercise clothes. Other people are messaging me on Facebook, or Instagram or Twitter or via email and telling me that I'm inspiring them. Telling me that they figure if I can do it so can they, and I'm okay with that. I mean I understand that if they see the fat bird (again they use prettier language, this is what I call myself and don't me I'm not because I know I am and it's said with love!) doing it they know that they can at least try themselves!

And then suddenly BAM, I'm making the wrong choices and no matter how hard I hum Choose the Right, I'm still making the wrong choices.

It starts small, a biscuit here, a second glass of Dr Pepper there.

It gets bigger, a creamy calorie laden sauce here, a larger portion there.

A Cream Sauce Dinner

It gets even bigger, with a missed workout here, a shorter or nonexistent run there.

And then I realise that I'm putting on weight and not losing it because I've made more wrong choices than right choices and I feel sad and want to eat to hide my feelings deep down inside underneath layers of fat and piles of mashed potato and pasta and all the other comfort foods we love.

So, what to do?

Well, I think that the first major thing I have to do is to work out that it is okay that I may occasionally "fall off the wagon". The thing that I have to do next is to work out how to not let it turn into a downward spiral of regret and calories.

The second thing is I have to work out how to make myself more accountable for workouts and my weight loss and that's where you come in... I'd like you to help me be accountable by being my buddy and getting you to check in on me on Twitter or Facebook, every few days or once a week or whenever you like to see if I'm sticking to my plans and I'll make sure that in my weekly update posts I'll update you too.

So my goals are;

  • I'm planning to lose 2lbs a week (I'd like to lose more, but lets be sensible shall we?!)
  • I'm planning to go running five times a week (at least half a mile, but I'd like to up it to a mile) 
  • I'm planning on doing 30 minute work outs in my home gym (the garage) three times a week.
So, can I rely on you to help me be accountable? I'll return the favour if you like, just let me know where to find you on Social Media in the comments!
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