Saturday, 26 May 2012

Japanese Best Friend Dolls Review

We were very excited when this box was handed over recently by our ever-overloaded-but-always-cheerful Postie.

Paint Your Own Japanese Best Friend Dolls is, happily, exactly what it says on the box.
It is aimed at girls aged 8 plus and this product allows girls to make and decorate their own Japanese ‘Kokeshi’ Doll. Kokeshi is an enchanting Japanese tradition whereby you hand paint dolls to give to friends. This product is great for creative girls who like to give gifts that their friends will love and treasure forever. You can even write a secret message to store in the base!

The contents are: 3 wooden doll blanks, 4 pom poms, set of 5 acrylic paints, paint brush, face and dress stickers, double sided sticky tape, greeting cards, secret message slips and thread.

Also included are step-by-step instructions, which proved most useful for daddy who had unusually found himself in charge of the quality crafting time.

Tamsin has just had her 7th birthday, and I'd say she did find it a little tricky and certainly needed help with it. The dolls need about 4 coats of paint, so having to wait inbetween for them to dry is a little time-consuming. She loved the idea of the dolls though, and has written lovely secret messages to go in them. Stickers for the faces and dresses are a great idea.

Our finished dolls:

Makes a lovely gift or an activity for your own child - the retail price is around £10 which is great value for money.

We were sent the above toy for the purpose of this review, but have not received payment. All the views expressed here are our own.
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Friday, 18 May 2012

Shoulder Buddies review.

Tamsin was very excited when the latest 'Shoulder Buddies' collectible toy arrived in the post.

Right up her street, it's a small plastic toy with supersoft long hair which can be styled in all sorts of different ways. Her version is called Stormy and is red with black hair, but there are 8 different versions, including a super pink one for all those girlie girls!

There is a website to link to: where you can view all the other items in the range. Each one is supposed to come with different 'SMART' tips for children - so Stormy supposedly has tips on how to stay safe in stormy weather.... not sure if that was in the packaging but I haven't seen them myself and they're not listed on the website, so can't really share what they are I'm afraid! First top tip I can give you is to be there when the toy packaging is opened so you know exactly what is inside.... (can you tell I was doing the laundry?!). 

The idea is that these little 'friends' can sit on your shoulder (OK, so maybe not all day long, not really sure the teachers would go for it...) by using the little magnetic disk to sit underneath the clothes and the toy then magically 'attaches' on top.

In all honesty, the magnetic disk was lost on day 2, and was probably thrown out by an obsessively tidy husband who had no idea what its purpose was, not having seen the toy in the first place. Tamsin managed to improvise with a fridge magnet anyhow, and made Stormy sit in her pocket on her chest rather than her shoulder!

That said, it doesn't really affect the appeal of the toy. It's more about the fact that they are collectible and cute. From a parent's perspective, they don't take up much space so I'm all for that...! They retail at around £5.99 so good price point for gifting.

We were sent the above toy for the purpose of this review, but have not received payment. All the views expressed here are our own.

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Thursday, 10 May 2012

To laugh or cry - Autism and siblings issues

I found this in Tamsin's book bag this week. 

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so I did a bit of both.

In case you can't quite read it, it says (literally):

Plees raiz money 1p
for sasha and Artisam
at Tamsincurtis\curtis2\

Must have a word with that girl about her spellings.

Joking aside, I found it very poignant, and it's highlighted what I've been most worried about for some time now.

Sasha (our younger, ASD girl) is actually ticking along fine, bit behind in her reading and writing maybe, but for now she's happy, she doesn't have a care in the world.

Tamsin (2 years older sister) on the other hand, seems to be carrying the weight of 'Artisam' (Autism) on her shoulders. I felt bad because she had vaguely mentioned something about this, about asking her classmates for 1p, a week or so ago, and I'd probably smiled and brushed her off a bit whilst saying it wasn't really the done thing. She's not mentioned it again at home, but has obviously spent time at school thinking about this and writing/drawing a picture. The girl on the left is shouting; the girl on the right is crying.

As we have a lot going on right now (parties and birthdays coming up in triplicate!!), I didn't mention this to her after I found it. I really want to, to try and understand her feelings, but more to the point to help her feel like she is understood. To tell her that we care, so much.

It is a tougher life for siblings of children with Special Needs. They can't play with their brothers or sisters in the same way other children can. Their parents probably get more upset than usual if they are not nice to their siblings, say the wrong thing or set the wrong example which could be copied for years. They may have to leave places early if the sibling can't cope with it any more, or not be taken out so much in the first place. They might be embarrassed by other people staring at their sibling, or by their sibling not caring that their behaviour is different and not 'the norm'.

Tamsin has blurted out a few times over the last 6 months things like 'I wish I had a normal sister' and 'I wish I could have a sister who doesn't have autism'. Although I'm sure Tamsin loves her little sister, I do find it difficult not to get upset when I hear that. I just have to remember how difficult Sasha can be though, and how confusing it must be for Tamsin to not really understand why Sasha acts the way she does

I've been worried about this for a while now. I've asked for help from various different sources but nothing has really come back. Sibs support groups seem to start from when the siblings are a bit older, but I think as this sheet shows, it's on Tamsin's mind now, all the time. She can't get away from it. I'm extremely nervous that this can lead to more worrying mental issues, but even as I write that I know many people will think I'm over-reacting.

What I think Tamsin needs is someone outside of the family to talk to about all of this. But where to go? Any offers?! How do we bring it up anyway?
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Monday, 7 May 2012

HABA Review Horse Sissi and Horse Show playset

My two girls were both extremely delighted with the latest gorgeous HABA product we were sent to review.

Horse Sissi is a beautiful soft toy in white velour, with a supersoft pink chenille mane and tail. She has grey corduroy hooves which she stands up well on, and is about 25cm tall. 

We also received the Horse Show Set, which includes two fences for jumping over, a rosette, a horse blanket and a feeding bucket.

Both girls excitedly took turns in setting up the jumps and making the horse run the course, and a whole role-play session followed which lasted much longer than most! There are dolls in the HABA range which co-ordinate with their horses; at our house other dolls were introduced which also worked well. The girls have gone back to play with this horse and show set time and time again, which is always a good sign.

HABA products really are exceptionally well made, quality toys which will stand the test of time. Their pricing reflects this (Sissi horse retails around £25 and Show Set £30), but I do know that any young child would be delighted to receive these items as a gift.

We were sent the above toys for the purpose of this review, but have not received payment. All the views expressed here are our own.
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