Tuesday, 24 May 2022

What's in our Spring / Summer grab & go bag { Includes Giveaway }


Since I had my first child life has been based around getting everything we needed ready to leave our house in enough time to get anywhere we needed to go. With my first child, I struggled with the timing of everything right up until after he was one and didn't need nearly as much to go outside, with my second the juggling act began and when we had our third two years later the need to be organised became very real. It was around this time that we started to make use of a Grab & Go bag. 

What is a grab and go bag?

It's exactly what it sounds like, this is a bag that you keep pretty much always stocked up with everything you might to grab in a hurry on the way out the door. Many people use Grab & Go bags for different reasons, you can use them with children, hobbies and many other things. I will be focusing on our bag based around our 3 children's needs, they are 9, 4 and 3 years old. 

What is in our Grab and Go bag? 

Our Grab & Go bag has been packed in the mind set that if we plan a short notice day out somewhere I can simply grab the bag along with our usual items like coats, shoes, my hand bag and any food items we need that day. The idea is that by having this bag always ready we can leave without me needing to go around collecting up these bits and cut our preparing to leave time in half! This means our Grab & Go bag won't contain changes of clothes or wipes etc since these are needed every time we go out. You of course could have these in your bag if you needed them. 

Items inside our Grab & Go bag:

  • Kind bag (or any reusable folding bag)
  • Metal Straws
  • Bamboo cutlery 
  • Cheeky Panda bamboo anti-bac wipes
  • Bamboo biodegradable Plasters
  • Bug Spray
  • Sun cream 
  • Pen
  • Colouring pages and pencils
  • Games in canvas bags 
  • First aid items like sting relief and anti-septic wipes
All the items above are what I class as year round essentials. All of these things can have a use throughout the year and have come in handy for the last 2 years when we have needed our bag. These items will not be all that is in our bag.

How do I make the Grab & Go bag change with the seasons?

While everything I've mentioned will work all year, there are items we need during the colder months that would be irrelevant in summer and vice versa. To combat this I make a diary note for sometime in march and again in September to go through the Grab & Go bag to swap out the seasonal items. I tend to either do it that day or I will note down another day if it's not yet time, weather wise. I have found this works best for us in our climate and I will use this opportunity to give everything in the bag a check over too.

What are the seasonal items we use in our Grab & Go bag?

Spring/ Summer:

  • Sunglasses
  • Thin rain coats - fold away ones for each child and 2 plastic ones for me and Simon (we reuse these)
  • Cooling Mist Spray 
  • Sun screen chap stick
  • 2x foldable water bottles

Autumn/ Winter:

  • An extra hat (1 child and  1 adult size)
  • Gloves (1 child and 1 adult size)
  • Hand cream 
  • Lip balm
  • Emergency umbrella
  • Thin hoodies 
  • Tissues

You will have noticed that I included thin rain coats during spring/ summer and hoodies during autumn/ winter. We do take these items with us but I am sure you can see only the small plastic ones for adults would fit in our bag, instead we keep these items in a small waterproof swim bag under our pram. This means we never forget them as all our longer trips require the pram. A slightly bigger bag would accommodate these items. 

What bag do we use and why?

Our Grab & Go bag is actually one of the PacaPods from our big PacaPod changing bag. We use the insulated black feeder pod as our Grab & Go bag. We chose this for a multitude of reason, the bag is small and is actually designed to be use on it's own or inside the main backpack, so it has a strap with a clip for attaching to your pram or even to a bike if needed. 

The fact the bag is insulated also means the items we put inside are slightly protected from the elements, nothing inside gets too warm or too cold, great for stopping your lip balms melting in summer or everything drying up in winter. Another reason we went with this bag is that it is small, everything we need will fit inside (with the exception of hoodies/ raincoats) and storing it near our door in a convenient place to grab is easy. The small size is also handy when your headed on long days out because we tend to bring lots of other items, sometimes including 3 scooters! So a small bag that we can just add onto our pram without too much room and weight is ideal for us. Finally being able to add the pod back into the back pack has been really handy in the past, especially when I travel alone anywhere with the three children as I can quickly collapse the pram and add the pod into the bag or hang it from one of the many carbineer hook ports on the PacaPod Backpack. 

Do you have a Grab & Go Bag?

I'd love to know if you have other items inside your Grab & Go bag that I haven't thought of, let me know below. 

The Giveaway

Some of the most used items in our Grab & Go bag are our colouring pages pack with pencils and our games in canvas bags. These are items I found in a card shop over summer and they seem to be stock that is regularly brought back so this year I bought another set for one of our readers. 

These little items are the perfect addition to any grab & go bag as they add entertainment for children. We have used ours at restaurants while waiting for food, entertaining in the shade after a picnic, doing on the train or bus and even at an event when we needed to sit down for a while, they'd be great for everything from weddings, birthdays and christenings to long traveling in cars or on planes. You can see our games all opened to show you what is included with each in the image above. 

You can enter to win a brand new set which includes a Space themed colouring pack which has some coloured pencils inside too, a fidget popper toy, Snakes and ladders travel game, X's and O's travel game and a matching travel game.

Now for the entering! You can enter the giveaway by simply filling in your details on the Gleam entry form below. Please read the terms and conditions before entering, these are also listed below. 

Terms and conditions:
  • Entrants must be aged 18 years or over.
  • Competition is open to UK residents only.
  • The giveaway is open from 24/05/2022 and will run to 24/06/2022 at 11.59pm GMT.
  • Entry into this competition confirms your acceptance of these Terms and Conditions.
  • The winners will be selected at random from all the correct entries received before the closing date and time.
  • All prizes must be accepted as offered. There can be no alternative awards, cash or otherwise. 
  • There will be one winner.
  • The winner will have 30 days to respond to claim the prize. Failure to claim will result in a redraw.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

A letter to my youngest son, turning three!

 Dear Avery, 

                        You have just turned three! It's amazing just how much has changed in the last year. You've grown taller, become so independent and self assured. A great trait to have in life. 

Another trait that has shown up is your defiance, which is great because we want you to question everything in the world, although it is a little frustrating in daily life with you at three years old!

The last several years my letters have been all about the long list of things that change in an entire year, which in a way this one will be too. However at the age of three I find that less and less happens in the milestone side of childhood, the first several years are full of moments parents wait for and rejoice in celebrating. So I am starting off in the was I always do with your big milestones of the year. The biggest milestone you hit this year has been your speech! You have started to talk after so long in silence and using hand gestures to communicate. Now you can say lots of words, you also completely skipped over baby talk and single words. So you speak in short sentences and are quickly becoming clearer. 

Along with your speech has come a huge part of your personality that we've all missed out on until now. Your are so funny and you know it! Your also full of energy & love to join in and play. Now that you can talk you tend to join in with Dylan and Scarlet to play their games alongside them and your working on your sharing skills. You have so many favourite things that you enjoy playing and copying too which is definitely helping with your speech and your vocabulary. 

Another set of new skills you are particularly working on is being more adventurous, You've always been very cautious about trying new things, especially climbing! Now your giving almost everything a good go. Your becoming quite fearless, we recently went to a soft play with vertical drop slides where you went down once unknowingly and then decided to just go again despite terrifying yourself. You also love to explore and find things in nature, be it low down or even high up in the trees, you just get us to help you up. I'm looking forward to seeing your skills grow even more in the next year. 

Every year we find that your favourites list will grow and change, I think this year has seen the biggest changes and lots of growth too. 

Your current favourite things are:

  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Cookies
  • Green and red
  • Small world toys
  • Toy shopping trolleys
  • Dogs
  • Climbing 
  • Colouring in
  • Cuddly toys
  • Paw Patrol 
  • Spidey and his amazing friends
Finally, last week we found out you got into nursery! So come September you'll be headed off to nursery in the morning with Dylan and Scarlet, which your very excited about. We know you hate being left at home, now you'll make a whole bunch of new friends, how cool!

                                                                                                                   Love from

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

What I read in February and March 2022 {Monthly Reading Round Up}

{This post contains a book proof I was gifted access to on Net Galley. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.It is marked with a *.}

The last few months have been more like a roller coaster when it comes to reading for me. The spring months are always crazy busy with all three children's birthdays falling within 3-4 months of each other and Easter is somewhere in between. It usually means I don't read nearly as much as I do during the rest of the year. Which is proving true this year as well as last, I managed 3 books during February and only one throughout March! 


There is a little bit of a theme to the books I read in February, they are all written by the same author. They aren't a series but I honestly loved the first one so much I had to read the other two! I even pre-ordered the paperback release of the last one. I think it's safe to say I have a new favourite author to add to my list. 

The Flat Share by Beth O'Leary  - ★★★★★

Would you ever share a flat with someone you'd never met? 
What about a bed?

This is the situation both Tiffy and Leon find themselves in. Tiffy is in desperate need of a cheap flat, while Leon is in need of the money & he works the night shift. The perfect solution to Leon's problem also happens to be the solution for Tiffy's, a flat share arrangement.  They will both share Leon's one bedroom apartment, Leon will use the flat during the day when Tiffy is at work and Tiffy will reside there while Leon works at night. 

The question is, can sharing one bed and one flat with a stranger work out? 
It's a situation where the rule book needs to e torn up and completely rewritten, so how do you share a flat with someone you've never met?

I have to say I loved this book, the concept had me hooked right from the beginning. There are so many thing happening at all times. The story is told from the two perspectives of Leon and Tiffy, we get to see how each lives and works as well as both sides to the flat sharing logistics. It's an easy to follow to and fro while follows along in an immediate timeline. This really makes the book feel seamless and it's easy to enjoy the story without having to think too much about which perspective we are currently in and where it fits with the last.

The whole book is full of charm, it's funny, it's sad, it's enraging in some ways and it's got the perfect list of characters with the best mix of character traits. It's a fantastic rom-com read and a true look at the brilliant writing of Beth O'Leary. I know this is going to be a book I read many, many times in my life. 

The Switch by Beth O'Leary - ★★★★★

Leena is a 20 something Londoner who's having a hard time with her confidence and mental health following the death of a family member. When she messes up a huge presentation at work she is forced to take a two month sabbatical. The problem is Leena is a workaholic and hasn't taken time off in years. In search of a peaceful place to escape to during her time off work, she heads to her Grandmothers house up north in Yorkshire .

Eileen is about to turn 80 and is newly single after the breakdown of her marriage. She's feeling ready to start putting herself back out there. The problem is, she lives in a little village that is seriously lacking in the eligible men department!

Leena comes up with the perfect solution, they'll swap homes for 2 months. Eileen will head to the big city of London where there are plenty of fish in the sea. Meanwhile Leena will keep things running along in Eileen's little village and do all the jobs her grandmother usually does. However the reality of swapping lives turns out to be very different than either of them ever imagined. It's a range of things from dating in your 70's to facing the complicated family dynamics you've been hiding away from, or maybe it's the handsome teacher who keep squashing your attempts to impress the locals. Either way, both Leena and Eileen may have taken on a whole lot more than they bargained for. 

I can honestly say that the dating life of single 70 something woman has never been on my mind, so when Beth O'Leary throws you right into the up's and down of online dating from the perspective of Eileen in a big new city I was rooting for the woman to find love! I was completely enthralled by Eileen and the impact the big city would have on her, as well as the one she would have on it. I was convinced the story would concentrate more on Leena and the life she was living up north, however I couldn't have been happier to be wrong. Both characters follow their own little storyline which all somehow intertwine perfectly throughout the book.

This second book from Beth O'Leary has the same style as The Flat Share with both perspectives running in the right timeline and including so much more than you first imagine the book will. Who knew live would be so exciting both in your 20's and your 70's? This book was very different from the other as well, the storylines are very separated since one happens in Yorkshire and the other in London. You can however feel the connection between Grandmother and Grand-daughter from the beginning which makes this story so unique. I loved this book just as much as I loved the last one!

The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary - ★★★★★

If you had the choice, would you spend a long road trip with your ex after they crashed into you? 
I know I wouldn't but that is the crazy reality Addie finds herself in when her road trip with her sister is rudely interrupted by a crash before it even really began.

Addie hasn't seen her ex since their traumatic break-up 2 years ago, can she really spend so much time confined to a mini with her sister, her ex, his best friend and a total stranger to boot? They are all headed to a wedding in rural Scotland, it was supposed to just be Addie and her sister but they agreed to give another guest a lift, it's quickly turning into the most awkward road trip of all time. 

So just how are the next 400 miles going to go and can thy simply avoid their messy past for the entire journey?

While this book stays close to Beth O'leary's style of telling the story from two people's perspectives, it's also less the story of just two characters and more the story of all five passengers on the journey. I liked this added element that we find out more about all the characters as the story goes on, each ones personality and their pasts. The main characters of course are Addie and her ex, this is who's perspectives we follow and see the whole trip through each of their eyes. 

I think out of all 3 books I read this month The Road Trip is my second favourite after The Flat Share, it was funny, exiting, shocking and everything in between. I loved getting lost in the pages and felt an urgency to find out just what happened to Addie and her ex that made their break-up so traumatic for them. I honestly didn't see some of the things that happened in the book coming, which in my opinion just makes it all the better for it! 

I am very excited to get around to reading the next Beth O'Leary release which is already out in hardback edition. 


As I mentioned in March I did only manage to read one book, which isn't so much a reflection on the book as it is a reflection on the free time I have this time of year. While I only read the one book, it was a fantastic one to have read. 

* The Lobotomist's Wife by Samantha Greene Woodruff - ★★★★☆

Since losing her brother to suicide after he served in World War Two, Ruth Emeraldine has only had one goal in life, to help people suffering from mental illnesses. This is how Ruth is in a position so high up in her families mental health hospital. 

When she meets Robert Apter, a new doctor at the hospital, she falls in love with him. Robert finds out about a new radical treatment in the mental illness field and is sure it's the answer they've been searching for to cure the mentally ill. Ruth whole heartedly believes in Robert and his miracle cure of lobotomy. She even champions her husband, especially in the beginning.

 Over time Ruth starts to worry as her husband spirals into a deluded megalomania. She can no longer ignore the evidence of her suspicions that Robert is recklessly treating his patients white devistating results. His next victim is poised to be 'cured'. A young mother suffering from the baby blues so badly she can hardly get out of bed in the morning. At this point she is willing to do anything to feel like her old self again. Can Ruth save her from Robert before it's too late? 

More importantly can one woman go from championing her husband and his radical work to condemning the whole thing? 

I loved this book, it's a story of an empowered woman standing up to a man gone completely mad with power and megalomania. 

The most incredible part of this book is that while fictional, it is steeped in truth from one of the darkest points in mental health care history. The character of Robert Apter is based on the real man who brought Lobotomy to America, Walter J. Freeman. The character of Robert also follows some of Walter's actions over the years that followed. It's the perfect mix of fact and fiction to bring this story to life.  Which is why I was astonished to find out the this is a debut novel from Samantha Greene Woodruff! What an incredible first publication this is for the writer, a perfect combination of fact and fiction neatly intertwined in a compelling story of a woman empowered to protect her patients. 

While I absolutely loved this book, it's the kind of read that will stay with you forever. Which means I'll be unlikely to read it again, it just wouldn't have the same effect in knowing what comes next. This is why I have given it the 4 star rating. However if you are a lover of history and of fiction books then this is an absolute must read! 

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