Friday, 21 April 2017

Read With Fonics Review

We've just returned from a holiday in Cyprus - I don't know how we'd have survived the flight* without iPads! (*gin)

But I do worry about my children's use of electronics and try to ensure that any games they play have some educational benefit (this is getting more difficult with the Big One who wants to play Thomas the Tank Engine and Paw Patrol).

And now that he's in Reception at school, it is getting harder to find games which are at his level - things either seem too easy or far too complex.

And, as a reception teacher myself, I find it hard to find games which help my kids learn effectively and not confuse them.

So I was really, and I mean really pleasantly surprised by the Read With Phonics game which we downloaded a couple of weeks ago.

There's a cute little alien character who works his way through games across different islands - it's very visually inviting and the Big One was excited to start playing!

The islands each teach progressively more complex sounds as can be seen below:

The last two islands allow children to think about choosing specific graphemes (the letters) to make the phoneme (the sound).

The Big One LOVED it! He started playing at the last island straight away (because that's the one he happened to click on!) Each game is really comprehensive and follows the same activities - identifying the graphemes, selecting the correct phoneme/graphemes, building words, selecting a word to label a picture, reading words and matching to pictures, reading and sorting real and nonsense words and identifying the phonemes again to finish.

The app has been invented by Sophie Cooper who is a teacher. The fact she is a teacher shows because it is so appealing to children and the progression through phonics skills is fantastic. Children gradually build up their phonics skills (with the 'a' game above, there is no real and nonsense word sorting because this idea and skill comes later - it's things like this which really support children in their play and learning).

Children also earn points as they complete games and there is a line on the side of each game which fills up as they are successful. This is really motivating for the children, as is the alien character giggling and eating the words!

I also liked the pronunciation of the sounds - the words are sounded out for children using pure sounds which really helps them to begin blending the sounds and reading the words. The games also offer automatic feedback so if a child places the incorrect word next to a picture, the game will move the word back to its original place, meaning the child knows they need to try another.

I have yet to use this with my class but I definitely will! For a start I know they will love it - they are really excited by games and the immediate feedback means I could leave it on the interactive whiteboard for them to play independently or with each other, after we have used it as a class.

I was given a code to download the entire app in exchange for an honest review. However, you can download the app for free to try it and, if you enjoy it as much as we did, you can unlock the rest of it. The website below gives all the links you need for downloading on different devices:

 I really would encourage you to give it a try. In the Big One's words - "I love this phonics game Mummy!"

All views and opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Relax! Just Do It! With a Donovan Goode Discount Offer

Ask any mother (especially one with two kids under five) what they'd like for Mothers Day and you'll get one of, or multiple, stock answers:

A lie in.
To wee in peace.
'Me' time.

My husband got the top one. I possibly mumbled something about being 'perpetually tired' anyway. I didn't ask for the miracle of an audience-free wee and I don't recall asking for 'me' time.

So imagine my excitement when the day before Mothers Day I was treated to a pamper at a local salon! A whole hour and a half of massage and facial treatments. Bliss!

The salon belongs to Beth and her business partner Tina. Beth has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry (she once massaged Dean Cain - so technically she's massaged Superman!) Beth is the beauty expert whilst Tina and her team can do fantastic things with hair.

The salon is in Blaby, a bustling little town in Leicestershire. The salon itself is bright, spacious and contemporary whilst being welcoming and friendly.

The salon front really does reflect the sleek, modern interior

The beauty salon is situated upstairs which really allows you to feel as if you are escaping the outside world for a little (or a long) time. You first come to the Nail Lounge which is in keeping with the contemporary theme of the rest of the salon but with cushions, soft lighting and drapes which make it feel calming and luxurious.

The Nail Lounge

I was lucky enough to be treated to a 'Back to Life' back massage and a 'First Class' facial, which is personalised to your skin and what you need. The salon uses Spa Find products which are made using combinations of pure Dead Sea minerals, organic plant extracts and de-ionised water. The products contain no genetically modified or animal ingredients and are not tested on animals. The idea behind Spa Find is that many skin complaints and conditions are due to an imbalance of minerals and vitamins in our bodies. By using these products, the aim is that our bodies can re-balance and restore from the inside out.

I was shown to the treatment room which has lovely little touches like heated treatment bed (table/bench - whatever the technical word is!) and a pot of deodorant spray, hair brush and cotton pads for after your treatment.

The back massage was both relaxing and purposeful. Of course, relaxing WAS the purpose, but I also had some real knots in my back from the usual 'Mother of Toddler' stuff like sleeping on his bedroom floor for three hours in the middle of the night, and carrying him round the supermarket whilst also pushing the trolley because he is refusing to sit in said trolley despite me trying to bribe him with crisps. That sort of thing.

Beth worked on certain areas of my back that had taken the strain of the supermarket carrying and the floor sleeping, ensuring that the tension was released and that I wasn't going to leave with muscles just as knotted as when I'd walked in! But it was also bliss to just lie there and feel that tension slip away. No wonder it's called 'Back to Life' (though, ironically, you may also be so relaxed that you nearly fall asleep).

Once my back massage was finished (sob!) I had my facial. However, I enjoyed this just as much, possibly even more so. Beth asked about any problems with my skin (mega hormonal in case you were wondering) and applied products accordingly. Stabilizing cleanser, toning spray, moisturiser and calming serum, as well as a deep peeling cream, a black mud mask and an eye and neck rejuvenator. Whilst the mask was on I also got a scalp massage (divine). I wish I'd taken a before and after picture of my skin because the difference, especially the following day was amazing. It really did look, and feel, as if my skin had stabilised after a couple of weeks of being decidedly unstable.

The whole experience was wonderful. I have visited the salon before but never for such a long indulgent treat! The best thing about this salon is that you really feel listened to. You feel important, never rushed, and that your treatments are individualised and personalised to work for you. The salon has typography behind the reception desk and it sums up their approach perfectly:

I was asked to write up my honest experience and, as a thank you, Donovan Goode is offering my wonderful readers a £10 discount when spending £35 or more on beauty treatments by quoting the blog 'And Then There Were Two'. I am also doing a little competition over on my Facebook page meaning you could also win £20 credit from me just for reading and sharing. So, if you're in Leicester (or anywhere else and you fancy a little jaunt to see where King Richard was buried or you want to visit the home of the reigning Premier League Champions  - might need to hurry up on that one) then pay the salon a visit, say you've read this and pamper yourself (or your mum, auntie, boyfriend, sister etc etc)! You can follow the salon here on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat: donovangoode15. All other salon details (phone number, address, treatments and prices) can be found on the website by clicking the icon below.

Thursday, 9 February 2017


Proudly linking up with
Prose for Thought
Pink Pear Bear

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Fab Friday Linky #68

Welcome to the Fab Friday Linky hosted by the fantastic Su at Ethan n Evelyn and co-hosted, this week, by me!

I linked up to one of the first Fab Friday linkys and was a featured blogger so it's lovely to be asked to co-host for the fiftieth Linky!

So come and share your posts with us today!

Please grab the badge code from the sidebar on the Ethan and Evelyn homepage and add it to your post. 


The posts could be about anything relating to parenting, lifestyle, crafts, reviews and related competitions. Either Su or I (if you are lucky you get both of us!) will comment on your link and we will pick two to be featured on next week's #FabFridayPost blog.

#FabFridayPost weekly linky open every Friday – Monday, (11:45pm)

Here are the rules:

  • This week you can link up to 3 posts – old or new.
  • Please add #FabFridayPost Badge – it is only fair that everyone play by the same rule. If not, it will be deleted. Thank you.
  • PLEASE kindly Tweet us with #FabFridayPost @ethannevelyn & @attwtwo to let us know that you have posted and we will RT back. Thank you.
  • Share the love – please do not drop and run away! Comment on all host posts and also comment on at least 2 other posts, including one in front of you.
  • Please also share all posts you have read on Twitter with the #FabFridayPost hashtag. After all this is what it’s all about!
Onto the posts! Can't wait to read them all and thank you for linking up :) 

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

A Love Letter To...Myself

Dear Me

I have something I need to tell you.

I'm not being conceited. I don't think you're perfect and I think there's room for improvement.

But I've come to realise something.

I love you.

For a very long time I felt like I couldn't love you. Like you had to be flawless to be worthy of love.

I saw your Mummy tummy and wobbly thighs as barriers to my love.

I heard you groan at the children or sigh because they wanted your attention and thought that your attitude, your very personality, was unlovable.

But I've recently realised that that simply isn't true.

There are a lot of very special people in my life and I love them all dearly. Some so much that I would die for them.

Yet they are not flawless.

The Mr sighs at the children's demands for attention sometimes. But I love him fiercely. I understand that he's sighing because the kids have uttered his name fourteen times in the same sentence and he was woken up three times last night. So I cut him some slack. He is only human.

Talking of the kids and of loving people fiercely, had someone once told me I would give my life for a person who threw a fruit smoothie at me because there were bubbles in it, I would have been pretty sceptical. But he is only a toddler and he is learning that he wants to control his environment. He doesn't possess the complex language needed to negotiate bubble removal from a smoothie (which is, FYI, impossible) because he is just not developmentally ready. So I give him a cuddle. He is only a tiny human.

I am so busy cutting everyone else some slack that I kinda forgot about you.

I'm sorry.

You are not as skinny as you could be or as patient as possible sometimes.

But you are only human. And you deserve to be loved. Not given a hard time because you haven't conquered flaws and learning curves which I fully accept and quite literally embrace in others.

People have a hard time saying "I love myself" because it suggests something it really shouldn't. It suggests a superficial arrogance.

When actually it should simply mean what it says.

I love you, flaws and all. Sometimes I don't like you a whole lot and sometimes you make a lot of mistakes.

But I do love you. And from now on, whilst I can't promise to put you first too frequently, I can definitely promise to be kinder to you. To cut you some slack.

You are only human.

Love Me x

Monday, 5 December 2016

It's OK

Parenting is a tricky business. Full of wonder and joy and......doubt. But SCREW THE DOUBT. It has no place here.

It's OK to feel guilty about conceiving easily when your friends are struggling. It doesn't mean you're ungrateful.

It's OK to have really struggled to conceive and still think FML a lot once the baby is here because CHILDREN ARE HARD FRICKING WORK. And it doesn't mean you're ungrateful.

It's OK to be ridiculously smitten by your children one minute and want to ship them off to Nanny's the next. It doesn't mean you're ungrateful. It doesn't mean you can't stand to be near them.

It's OK to want a large glass of gin once the kids are in bed because CHILDREN ARE HARD FRICKING WORK. It doesn't mean you're ungrateful. And it doesn't mean you're an alcoholic.

It's OK to sob uncontrollably when your 18 month old still wakes in the night and you are exhausted by the constant broken sleep. It's OK to hold him close out of all consuming love but to be slightly resentful at the same time. It doesn't mean you're ungrateful. It doesn't mean you're depressed.

It's OK to be annoyed at your partner because 'they get to go to work everyday' or because 'they get to stay home with the kids everyday'. It doesn't mean you're ungrateful. It doesn't mean you hate them. It doesn't mean you want what they have.

It's OK to mutter obscenities under your breath. It's OK to not want to read The Gruffalo AGAIN for the seventh time that day. Its OK to want to remember who you are It doesn't mean you're ungrateful. It doesn't mean you hate spending time with your children.

It's OK to feel what you feel. Its OK to say what you feel. You are feeling what a billion others are feeling, or have felt, or will feel, at some point during their lives. Don't be scared that you'll sound ungrateful or depressed or hateful or like an alcoholic.

You might be some of these things. But keeping it to yourself will NEVER help - whether you are or you aren't. And the people that want to listen are the people who'll want to help. If they're not listening, they're not worth it.

Sometimes you just need a glass of gin, or a good nights sleep. And sometimes you need to say "THIS IS HARD" out loud and have others say "I TOTALLY AGREE," just to feel like you're not failing.

You're not failing. You're parenting. And if you care enough to say "AM I FAILING?"

Then you definitely aren't.