26 Jan

A Healthy Me – January

A new year, and things are different to last month. The evil cold finally shifted, lasting approximately seven weeks. I had a week off coughing which was bliss, I got some sleep and started to feel like I was healing and resting, and then H brought home a cough from school. So far the back is staying put, although I have noticed when things start to go wrong they seem to switch sides which is odd.

I managed three weeks without seeing my Osteo which is the longest, but my back clicked on my first day back at work, enough to get an appointment that day, fortunately.

Food – I’m still eating pineapple and apple for breakfast, and last week my Osteo said she could see better drainage around my back area. Every time I cough I am still tense something might go (which probably doesn’t help), but if my body is starting to do what it is meant to, then that’s a good thing.

Swimming/gym. Harder to keep up with now the cold nights are here. I make myself go to pilates, and I need to try harder to get to the gym. I may need to go this week anyway. H is starting new swimming lessons at my pool which has an added bonus in that I can use the pool at the same time with my membership. It’s a half hour lesson, so slightly longer than I would swim, but that’s time for me to sit in the steam room afterwards (while carefully watching H of course). Pilates is back again and helping again – I had a month’s break from it when everything was bad last month.

Weight. It’s stayed the same – mainly as I didn’t overeat over Christmas as I felt too ill. I hardly drank anything either as I was taking so much medicine. I’m still there at 15stone2 anyway.

Cholesterol spots. I’m still convinced they’re disappearing thanks to my increased vitamin intake. I’m taking a monthly photo over on Instagram, and sparing everyone right now, they’re hashtagged #cholesterolspots anyway. My eyes look very dark and shady, accentuated by the white spots.

Colonoscopy. I cancelled the procedure, mainly as I read the forms and realised I would need to lie on my left side for a long time – which with the current back issues would be unbearably uncomfortable. In addition I would need a minimum of three days off work so I’ve postponed until I’m a little healthier. I do need it, and they agree that with my dad’s history that I should be checked which is equally reassuring and terrifying.

I’ve started taking Vitamin D as over the holidays I was convinced everything was wrong due to a lack of it. I’m not sure if this is the case or not, mind. I was SO healthy in Australia, and didn’t feel unwell at all – I felt like a different person – and we had a lot of sun out there.

25 Jan

Smear for Smear

Cervical Cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35. Smear tests are important. Today, Sunday 25th January marks the start of a campaign to raise awareness, Smear for Smear, in conjunction with Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.

Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week starts today. The Smear for Smear campaign is simple enough – put on some lipstick, and smear it, take a picture and upload it to whichever social media channel you choose, using the hashtag #smearforsmear – and tag some friends. (disclaimer : I’m not taking part in the photo, but I am doing my bit in spreading the word)

You see, regular smear tests are important. Cervical Cancer is one of the few cancers which can be prevented. 1 in 3 women between the ages of 23-29 do not take up their smear test invitation. Nine women are diagnosed every day.

My mum had cervical cancer. She had a hysterectomy and is still with us. Smear tests are important, and I know I need to help spread the word.

Here’s the press release :

Smear campaign against cervical cancer launches as over one million women fail to attend screening

  • 1 in 3 young women aged 25-29 fail to attend screening when invited
  • Over a quarter of young women delay screening because they worry the test will be painful or embarrassing
  • 20% of young women think cervical screening is an unnecessary health test

The UK’s only dedicated cervical cancer charity is calling on women (and men) to join #smearforsmear – a campaign which aims to help reverse the downward trend in numbers of women attending their smear test (cervical screening) and in so doing stop the rise in numbers of women diagnosed with the disease.

Launched at the start of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (CCPW, 25th - 31st January 2015), Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is asking the public to smear lipstick across their face, snap a picture for social media and remind their friends of the importance of smear tests.

Currently in the UK 1 in 5 women fail to attend screening when invited – a test that detects abnormal cells on the cervix before they develop into cancer – and this number rises to 1 in 3 for young women aged 25-29 who are the first age group to be invited. In fact 36.7%[1] of 25-29 year olds in England failed to attend screening when invited last year. Worryingly the most recent figures in numbers diagnosed show a rise from 352 cases in 2010 to 427 cases reported in the UK in 2011.

A survey[2] by the charity has revealed some of the reasons young women give for delaying attendance include seeing cervical screening as an unnecessary health test (20%), concerns it would be painful (26.2%) and embarrassing (26.6%).

The charity is also concerned about the general lack of knowledge surrounding the test amongst younger women. Over half (56%) of this age group didn’t identify the cause of the disease as the human papillomavirus (HPV). One in ten thought it was a test for sexually transmitted infections and 13.5% thought it was a test for Ovarian cancer. Giving a voice to cervical cancer prevention is also vital as 48% said they never openly discuss smear tests with their friends or family.

Robert Music, Chief Executive for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said: “Every day we see the devastating impact a cervical cancer diagnosis can have on both a woman and her loved ones. But to know that for those that delayed their screening before diagnosis, this could have been prevented, is tragic. It’s now time that we see a shift in awareness of cervical cancer and an understanding of the importance of smear tests.

“We hope the public get fully behind this fun and simple campaign. The more women who take this life saving five minute test, the fewer who will face infertility, early menopause, more extensive long term effects and potentially even loss of life. It’s time we all acted as it may just save a life.”

How to share your lipstick smear:

  1. Apply your lipstick, smear it across your cheek and take a photo
  2. Tag #smearforsmear and @JoTrust in your message.
  3. Add the names of the people you want to nominate
  4. Post onto Facebook, Twitter or Instagram
  5. For more info on the campaign visit: Jo’s Campaign (this is last year’s link)

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust (www.jostrust.org.uk) is the UK’s only dedicated charity offering support and information to women of all ages and their loved ones affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities. The National Helpline is on 0808 802 8000.

25 Jan

Project 365 – Week 4

Work is getting busy and home life is busy. This is about par for the course, and means I’m typing this live on a Sunday just to be in time. So many nights have found me falling asleep in front of the tv, while this weekend has had me awake having daydreams about things stressing me out. Onwards, next week!

Sunday 18th January. Tooth number four vacated the premises with a bit of help from me. The two bottom teeth are growing in its place nicely. H was happy as she has more money to save up for something nice.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Monday 19th January. Another busy day, meetings, rushing for trains, Rainbows. Obligatory food picture – a quorn and vegetable stir fry. I have now been vegetarian for 32 years.  Monday - food Tuesday 20th January. My friend at PIAS sent me the last dEUS album which I have not yet had a chance to play. This is almost shameful – fortunately it’s a collection so I know most of the songs, but still. I exist in a world where my daughter can’t believe I don’t like Demi Lovato and Olly Murs, and pop music in general.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Wednesday 21st January. We won a prize in Storytime Magazine – a copy of E. Nesbit’s ‘Five Children and It’ – this will definitely be the most challenging book H will have read so far – lots of words, a smaller font and no pictures – but she’s doing so well I know it won’t be too big an issue – hopefully just a chapter at a time every night (and fingers crossed it tires her out too!)

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Thursday 22nd January. I got the Call Of Doom from school – H had earache. She’s generally not a sickly child any more, we seem to have got through that at nursery, and indeed last year she only had one day off ill (with earache again). So I had to pick her up early, on my late day at work. Which has left me stressed this weekend as I didn’t get to sort things for next week as easily as I wanted to. We were able to cuddle up and watch a film of her choosing – she went for ‘Wreck It Ralph’ over ‘Frozen’, incredibly. The doctor said she has infection in both ears, but it might clear on its own. 

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Friday 23rd January. The ear infection gone, and antibiotics ordered (the doctor wanted to wait to see if liquid came out before giving them, and right on cue it did, overnight, meaning we had to trek back there). Before that we got our hair cut, ran to the post office to pick up a package, picked up the prescription, made tea, collapsed with a glass of wine. This was the package – H is very happy. It’s a present from Nanna in Australia. I finally got to my work email after everyone had left for the weekend. Now I’m STRESSED.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Saturday 24th January. For the last year I’ve been looking for H’s Barbie and Monster High dolls – they were presents from her old nursery friend Ben, and I knew they were in a ‘safe place’ (read : under the stairs) – and they were found yesterday; in a bag, under the stairs, inside her Wiggles bag. As you do. Anyway, I decided it was time all her taller dolls hung out together. Polly Pocket and her five Lottie Dolls (and one Finn doll) are over in the dolls house.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

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18 Jan

Project 365 – Week 3

Sunday 11th January. We went to Ikea. This kind of trip can bring a couple to breaking point, but not us! We just get cross when we can’t find any of our big blue bags at home, before we’ve even got out the door. I broke when everyone ever inside the store walked soooo sloooowwllllyyyyy that I wanted to sprint past them just to get out of there. Shaun went off to B&Q afterwards while H and I stayed out in the cold in the play area, and I got to photograph one of the towers.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Monday 12th January. Back to work. Back to Rainbows. My little Rainbow on her way – she led the girls around the circle, and was really nervous about it. She’s getting better and less nervous about things, but does take a little bit of persuading. They made ladybird biscuits tonight. I would have taken a photo but they got a bit squashed – just cover a biscuit in red icing and add chocolate drops for the spots, use black food icing for the stripe down the middle. Voila! Now you can imagine it.  


Tuesday 13th January. Pilates classes started again tonight, back in the world of sticky socks and stretching muscles. I felt so good afterwards.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Wednesday 14th January. Any self-respecting musicals fan should already have this in their collection. I didn’t. We watched it on Friday and H enjoyed it – then I remembered we’d seen it on stage back when I was pregnant, so technically she kind of has too. Most enjoyable, and Rowan Atkinson was fantastic as Fagin – but you can’t beat the film.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Thursday 15th January. Payday. It took me half the morning before I remembered it was payday – work has been pretty busy this week. Thursday is also my long day at work and it flew by, mainly due to a conference call with a US company in the afternoon. In the evening the Hooky Knitters met up, and I was taught how to do Fisherman’s Rib. Once I got my head around it, it was fairly straightforward and easy to do, but it was getting my head around it which was the tricky bit, and keeping count. I’m proud – I’m generally rubbish at picking up new things too.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Friday 16th January. Worst Project 365 picture alert yet! This was taken at 11pm, there was nothing major of note to say, a busy day.  H’s glasses broke at school so we headed to the opticians after work who fixed them for free. A couple of glasses of Bailey’s in the evening, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 on the WiiU. H was cross with us for doing it without her.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Saturday 17th January. H went to a party, a drop off and pick up kind for at least three hours (result!). Somehow at the very end H managed to trap her finger in the door at Pizza Express. I’d always planned to drive to Banstead to get her some new school shoes as a lot of people are recommending the shoe shop there (they were brilliant – Shoehouse) – but a sad girly with a sore finger isn’t the way to go. We did it anyway, and the nice lady who served us gave H a Lelli Kelly headband. I groaned inside, Lelli Kelly, the awful adverts, the extra things you clip onto your shoes (which I think are unnecessary) and so on. Anyway, we end up buying a pair of Lelli Kelly Classic Dolly shoes in the end as they’re a billion times better than the Clarks ones we bought last year – soft leather all around, no patent leather on the toes (which was forever being scuffed off, completely pointless for a five year old who loves climbing) and easy to clean. So Lelli Kelly actually wins, and I eat all my words. They’re fabulous shoes. I hope they last. Her finger is a lot better now too – just bruised.

saturday lelli kelly

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17 Jan

Nonabox – November

Receiving my November Nonabox delivery definitely helped to get me in the mood for December. I was also very happy to see some lovely sweet relief in there, this is great because up until then it had most definitely been one of those days!


Inside this months Nonabox:

Gumigem – Jewellery. O is already showing signs of teething so I’m getting my army of products at the ready. This necklace is great as it looks like a normal item of jewellery and means that I can have something permanently to hand for him.  The necklace comes in a variety of colours and designs.

Lindor – Milk Chocolate Truffles. Always a favourite with me. It was only a small box so the chocolates were gone fast (oops!). But a very nice treat.

Mumkind – Nutritional Bar. This is a nutritionally balanced bar for pregnant woman and mums. It was very tasty, it reminded me of a cereal bar, and didn’t feel too naughty.

Sleepytot – Baby Comforter. This item has been an absolute godsend! O has just started to show an interest in his dummy but gets frustrated when it falls out of his mouth. With the Sleepytot rabbit comforter he now has more control. He loves snuggling against the rabbit and can now take the dummy in and out of his mouth as he pleases. It is now his favourite toy!

Yoomi - 5oz Bottle. This is a bottle and warmer in one. It is a great idea but such a shame that the warmer needs to be purchased separately so I was unable to give it a whizz!

Ella’s Kitchen – Spinach, Apple and Swedes. It was great to receive a different flavour of these to try out.


Once again, there was a nice balance to this box and a good mix of old favourites and products that I’d never heard of. As mentioned above I was especially delighted with the Sleepytot rabbit and have already been recommending it! I worked out the approximate value of the box to be around £38. Nonabox is £24.95 a month, including delivery.

I was sent a selection of products for the purpose of review – all opinions are my own and honest.

14 Jan

Collage Canvas

I’m a big fan of canvas prints – we have several which sit on our walls, and are a great reminder of happy times. We had an opportunity to review a Collage Canvas, and given we spent over two weeks in Australia in the summer (their winter, which is nothing like our winter), I had so many pictures to choose from so knew I’d be happy with the result.

Collage Canvas have a good selection of frames you can choose from, and an easy website to navigate. I chose the type of canvas and size, then the design of the collage. Shaun’s mum and dad live out in the bush near Toodyay in Western Australia, but we have rubbish cameras – how would pictures of things we took come out was my biggest problem – could I capture what I love about Western Australia as well as making sure my favourite photos were on there?

canvas collage

I chose the pictures – and decided for a cross design, with four larger photos in each corner. I kept those for family related things (a group shot, H at Kings Park, Shaun and H at sunset by the Indian Ocean, all of us on the Duyfken) with the smaller images being shots which reminded me of nice things – across the centre were bush flowers, gum nuts, the trees and some wattle. The upper parts of the cross were a grass tree, the big wheel at Fremantle, all of us in Kings Park in front of a baobab tree, plus H by the Kings Park sign.

The colours worked well. Shaun isn’t keen on me getting more pictures for the wall, but having a collage to remind us of our brilliant time was a great compromise.

Once I’d uploaded the pictures I was able to swap the pictures around and edit them to make sure the right parts of the photo were on there. Once I’d finished the collage canvas was ready to order. You can also link your Facebook and Instagram accounts to add pictures.

collage canvas

The collage canvas was delivered really quickly, right before Christmas too. It now lives in our little alcove where we can see it all the time – and it’s a great reminder of our summer (their winter, sigh). I’d never thought about a collage canvas before, but it makes perfect sense when you have lots of photos you want to create one memory with. I made sure the pictures were mirrored around the edges and the border between photos was a black-grey colour – and I’m delighted with the result!

Collage Canvas offer many different types of canvas, and I would definitely recommend them. I’m already planning my next one – after all, we went to North Yorkshire for October half term and I have a lot of photos which need to live somewhere!

Collage Canvas website is here

We were provided with a Collage Canvas for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own.

13 Jan

Aveeno and Dry Skin

I’m prone to dry skin and H inherited it from an early age. Aveeno has always been our cream of choice – mainly for the varieties available and that it works. I like to steal a bit of H’s too as it’s so gentle!


Aveeno have asked for some hints and tips with dry skin, and what to do. So here’s a few bits from us.

I seem to be prone to dry skin on my legs, which develops into a painful rash. I’ve found that drinking plenty of water and applying cream at least three times a day on the painful areas seem to help. Oil-based treatments have helped a lot, as well as not shaving my legs. I had to make sure I didn’t let my legs get too dry, as that provoked the rash and made it itchy.

H seems to get dry skin on her arms and legs, as well as very small patches on her face. Now she’s five I can squirt the right amount of cream onto her hands, and she applies it to her face so she can be ‘just like mummy’ – though I am able to rub my own cream in, she’s still working on that one*!  Aveeno’s Dry Skin lotion is soft enough for the face and light enough your five year old won’t pull too many faces as they rub it in.

aveeno book

H does understand the importance of moisturising, mainly thanks to the book Aveeno have produced, featuring the cartoon characters Ellie and Eddie, which is available as a free download from their site. Anything that helps spell it out is a good thing, as you can guarantee she’ll listen to a book more than she will me! Also, she feels more in control of her skin – she understand why she needs cream on there.

There’s always the chance your strong-minded child will refuse to put cream on; but a bit like blending onion into a pasta sauce so they can’t see it; Aveeno’s Bath Oil does the trick. Add it to the bath and there’s a nice gentle moisturising going on – and it doesn’t make the bath slippery afterwards, thank goodness!

aveeno ellie and eddie

But what is eczema? I know when I have an outbreak of spots it’s usually classed as that. 1 in 5 children and 1 in 2 adults have eczema. It is a dry skin condition which can vary in severity from person to person, and is triggered by different things. Aveeno’s range of products feature Colloidal Oatmeal which is clinically proven to restore the top layer of skin, keeping it feeling soft and comfortable. Having oats in the lotion is beneficial for dry skin – it moisturises, soothes, protects, buffers and cleanses. When H has had bad outbreaks, we’ve even been given Aveeno on prescription.

* stop press – tonight H got in from school, rubbed some Aveeno on her face and did a marvellous job – I think she’s got it!

Aveeno’s website is here

We were sent a selection of Aveeno products to use.

11 Jan

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Turns 45

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is older than me – just. It’s a book I’m more than familiar with, what with H owning at least three copies of it since birth. Did you know that in 2014 The Very Hungry Caterpillar turned 45?

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar needs no introduction – Eric Carle’s favourite has been an essential book in a child’s collection for such a long time now – 45 years to be precise. I grew up with it, and now H is too. Did you know that last year a copy of the book was sold every 150 seconds on average in the UK?

Turning 45 is a big deal. You get nice things made which commemorate that birthday – and The Very Hungry Caterpillar is no exception! We were sent a selection of goodies. Being sensible I passed a few on to Karen for the boys next door, and kept the ones I knew H would love.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

We got a lot of play with The Very Hungry Caterpillar Strawberry Shaped Chalkers – a.k.a. outdoor chalks. We had a funny old summer this year with a bit of rain, and I was pleased to see that the chalk didn’t wash out straight away – in fact, on walls where H had drawn the chalk stayed for a good couple of weeks which makes these chalks really good value. They do wash off, they just have much more staying power! They have a rrp of £9.99 and are available at John Lewis.

Any crafty creative type will enjoy playing with The Very Hungry Caterpillar Stamper Set – with a rrp of £9.95 and available at John Lewis, there are six stamps from the book, with coloured ink pads. H has enjoyed playing with them and creating pictures!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Bubble Bath was a favourite too – it comes with a rrp of £3.50, and available from Waitrose and Fenwicks. H has delicate skin and this was ideal for her – nice and gentle and no reactions to it. My only complaint? She loved it so much we used it up super fast as she kept insisting on having baths!  There’s also a handwash (rrp £3.50) which encouraged her to wash her hands rather a lot!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar toothbrush was a good size for H – she’s at that in-between stage where she has gaps in her teeth and is moving up into bigger sizes, but does still have a small mouth. The brush was bright and colourful and yet another incentive to get her teeth cleaned – she loves a good toothbrush! It has a rrp of £3.50 and is available from Waitrose and Fenwicks.

I thought our days of having plates with sections for food would be over, but The Very Hungry Caterpillar Melamine divided plate is brilliant – perfect for H when she doesn’t want her rice and vegetables all mixed up, and it’s dishwasher-friendly too – top shelf only, mind! We use it almost every night and while she likes to consider herself grown up, it’s the kind of plate which is very useful even for older kids. I’ve also noticed she’s started to get fussy about food – something she never really was. Having it sectioned at times seems to make it more appealing for her. It has a rrp of £7.95 and is available at John Lewis.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar plate

We were also sent a drinks bottle which is a good size and comes with the new(er) twister tops that I’ve noticed bottles seem to have. I also noticed that it didn’t leak very much at all. It comes with a rrp of £7.99 and is available from Amazon.

We passed on the following to Jacob and Oscar next door, and from what I’ve heard they’ve had a lot of fun! The Very Hungry Caterpillar Numbers Peel and Stick Wall Art is something I’d have loved to try because they’re re-peelable wall stickers, but H’s walls are pretty full at the moment, so we gave them to a good home. Having the numbers and fruit is a nice idea – it will help a child learn to count as well (exactly like the book does). Lovely! It has a rrp of £8.00 and is available from John Lewis and Amazon.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Pull Out Pop Up Book is a smaller version of the book, but with enough to it a young child who may like to wreck a book has things to pull and put their fingers through. I liked it and wished we had one for when H was a baby, as our pop-up book got a bit destroyed when she was at that stage. It has a rrp of £5.99 and is available at Amazon and all good gift shops worldwide. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Cloth Book is a baby essential – the story is there and it’s in a gentle cloth book, ideal for babies who want colours and a book they can hold comfortably – I loved it! It comes with a rrp of £10.99 and is available from Amazon and all good bookstores.

We received all these Very Hungry Caterpillar goodies for the purpose of review – thank you!

10 Jan

Project 365 – Week 2

A back to normal kind of week – back to work, back to school, back to normality again. Christmas tree back in the loft one, and waiting for the tooth fairy to pay a visit which felt like it would never happen. So, onwards…

Sunday 4th Jan – H had an invite to a schoolfriends’ football party at Sutton Arena. There was an athletics display on too (which we all spent more time watching while the kids ate) – but no parking so Shaun had to park several streets away. But they have these bumpers at the crossing as we headed back to the car – how cool?

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Monday 5th Jan. I was back to work but H had an inset day, or as we like to call it, an Insect Day. She corrects us every time. She had a movie afternoon, and chose Annie. I made it my job to make sure H has plenty of good DVDs to watch which I enjoy too :-)

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Tuesday 6th. Back to normal, back to work, school, everything. I got in and started removing decorations from the tree, tried to move the tree and spilt water on the carpet. Oops! But it was packed up and going. It had gone by Saturday. There is now a big empty space.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Wednesday 7th Jan – H’s first copy of Anorak Magazine turned up. She has three magazine subscriptions and I love them all; Okido which is a present from her Auntie, Storytime and now Anorak which are presents from me as they’re FABULOUS magazines. It’s opening a whole new world to her, where magazines aren’t full of ads and are full of wonderful content, with stories, activities and fun things. I’m so glad we’ve done it. My first magazines were Twinkle and Bunty, and if I can get her enjoying content and creating things like I did, I’m doing something right. 

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Thursday 8th Jan – The mornings and nights are getting lighter, but will I get home on a Thursday before it gets dark? Just… Wednesday had a really light morning followed by a dark one on Thursday. Friday was light again, I’m just confused.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Friday 9th Jan – We played ‘Labyrinth’ by Ravensburger games tonight – H got it for Christmas. I won. She was not happy, even though she finished the move after me. She’s a terrible loser, but this year I’m going to make sure I don’t let her win, as she’s getting better at accepting other people might get there before her. Phew.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Saturday 10th Jan. We have been waiting for nearly two weeks for the wobbly tooth to come out – H even told me that she was friends with it on Facebook. She has a paper phone with an F on it, you see. FINALLY it came out with a bit of help and bribery from me. She has another wobbly tooth which is probably a week or two (or a month going on this one) away, and an adult tooth coming through at last. She had her front tooth extracted in hospital a year and a half ago. I’m relieved as I was convinced it would come out at school – one less worry there!

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

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06 Jan

Big City Explorer by Maggie Li

Occasionally we’re sent books which are absolutely perfect with H’s development and interests. Big City Explorer is one of those. Maggie Li who illustrates it is also the Art Director of one of our favourite magazines, Okido!

big city explorer

Big City Explorer is a different kind of book. A journey around the world, visiting 28 different cities.

Each double page is dedicated to a city around the world and is beautifully illustrated. Being the global traveller H is, she has an interest in the world, especially due to her dual nationality. She has found facts about cities we’ve stopped by and enjoyed learning about them (including that Singapore isn’t just a city, it’s actually a small country). There’s information like currency, language and population as well as lots of pictures, interesting buildings and places.

Facts are broken down into a readable style which makes learning interesting, plus the illustrations are lovely and clear. For Christmas we’ve bought H the wonderful Maps book by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski and this is a great accompaniment.

big city explorer

What makes this book really unique is the compass. It needs to be removed from the front cover, then on most pages you’re told which direction to point it in for the next page – for example, from Sydney to Tokyo ‘set your compass to north’ – simple enough directions to help a child learn directions. At the end of the book is a Super City Match Up game, where you can identify buildings that you’ll have come across throughout the book as well.

On the contents page of Big City Explorer everything is colour coded into continents as well which helps with learning where cities are in the world. Maggie Li’s illustrations capture the spirit of each city, and H has enjoyed learning about different places around the world.

If your child has an interest in cities of the world, this would make a fabulous present. If your child loves Okido magazine, you definitely need this book! Big City Explorer is published by Pavilion Books, and retails for £11.99.

We were sent Big City Explorer by Maggie Li for the purpose of review, all opinions are our own. The jpeg at the end links to Amazon via an affiliate link.