National Reconciliation Week giveaway

 Giveaways, Toys, Books & Movies  Comments Off on National Reconciliation Week giveaway
May 272020
 

Whether the kids are back at school or still learning along from home, starting today many students across Australia will be learning about National Reconciliation Week (May 27 – June 3). What is reconciliation, why is it important and why is it important to all of us? Reconciliation Australia captures the message like this:

At its heart, reconciliation is about strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples, for the benefit of all Australians’

We thought Reconciliation Week was a perfect opportunity to share a bunch of beautiful Magabala Books for children created by some of Australia’s most talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. Cuddle up with your kids on the couch or share a story (or a few) in your class room to celebrate, honour and recognise the traditional heart of Australia:

Respect (RRP $24.99) is probably my favourite pick for Reconciliation Week as it truly echos the beauty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in a simple yet heartfelt way that children will enjoy and understand. From their songs and their stories, the respect for their elders, ancestors, family, the country and the nature around them, it is all part of their rich culture and it is something people of all ages can learn from and share in.

If you are looking for inspiration for an Aboriginal art project to do at home or school look no further, Cunning Crow (RRP $24.99) is an absolute treat! Filled with the most amazing Aboriginal art by Gregg Dreise this colourful book takes us back to the Dreamtime, a time long ago when all the birds were white. One day a strike of lightning ignites a magical fire of rainbow colours, painting lorikeets in stunning bright colours, adding a bright yellow crest to the cockatoo and dressing Waan the crow in orange and red shades.

But Waan is not happy with his colouring and wants to look better and brighter than the other birds. In an attempt to improve his looks the cunning crow decides to recreate the magical fire, but instead of bright colours he ends up burning his feathers to a deep, dark black. Next time you see a black crow, remember to celebrate what makes you different and never to change yourself to be like someone else. We are all special and unique and together we make up a dazzling rainbow.

Goannas, mirritji, bull sharks, bakarra… Practise counting to ten, discover ten beautiful animals and learn their English and Ritharrŋu names in Counting Our Country (RRP $12.99). Don’t worry, Ritharrŋu artist and author Jill Daniels has even included a handy pronunciation guide to help you on your way with confidence. With its simple, bright illustrations and sturdy cardboard pages this sweet board book is perfect for our youngest Aussies.

Willy-Willy Wagtail (RRP $24.99) is the first book in Helen Milroy’s new ‘Tales from the Bush Mob’ series, throughout the series we will get to know all the members of the mob. But let’s start at the beginning, when everyone still spoke different languages and no one could understand each other. It all began when curious Willy Wagtail, helped by Gusto the Wind, set off to learn about all the different bush animals, their countries, their languages and their stories.

All Willy’s newfound knowledge comes in handy when a bushfire breaks out and slowly the animals are brought together. With 64 pages and quite a lot of text (and of course lovely pictures) Willy-Willy Wagtail is a great Australian lesson for older children about (animal) diversity, communicating and working together. Keep your eye out for the next two exciting titles in the Bush Mob series: The emu who ran through the sky and The sweetest egg of all.

Living alone in the Australian desert Bubbay wants nothing more than a family of his own. One summer night he makes a wish on a shimmering falling star and that is the beginning of Bubbay’s Desert Adventure (RRP $17.95). Guided by the spirit of his old grandma Gubarlee he sets off on a mission to find five special things for the star: A stone, an egg, a seed, a feather and a shell. Will he find them all before sunrise and what is the special surprise that awaits him?

We know all about puppies, kittens and lambs, but what about the offspring of an echidna, dugong, eagle or bilby? In What do you call a baby…? (RRP $12.99) Kimberley artist Kamsani Bin Salleh will show you a gorgeous puggle, eaglet, chick, pup, calf, tadpole, hatchling and joey and their proud mamas. This delightful board book is made for curious little hands and young readers will love the eye-cathing pastel coloured art.

To find out more about Magabala Books, to browse the range and to order your favourite Magabala titles online visit www.magabala.com.

For your chance to win a Magabala Books prize pack (RRP $118.90) containing the six titles featured above head over to the Hip Little One Facebook page, good luck!

Wave goodbye to bedtime worries with LeapStory

 Toys, Books & Movies  Comments Off on Wave goodbye to bedtime worries with LeapStory
May 202020
 

I won’t lie: These past months have been hard. I have always been someone who worries easily and this COVID19 outbreak has definitely been a challenge for me mentally. Late last year I lost my wonderful Opa and had to fly to Europe unexpectedly, forcing me to leave my husband and babies behind for the first time. Not long after that my dad received the exciting but scary news that after months on the waiting list a donor liver had been found for him and that he would be undergoing an organ transplant that same day.

We had been waiting impatiently to go and spend seven long weeks with Dad and the rest of family but thanks to COVID19 our flights to The Netherlands were cancelled again and again and after rebooking three times (and travel restrictions coming in) there were eventually no travel options left. With infections sky rocketing in Europe and my recovering Dad in a high risk category we have been terribly worried and still are. The disappointment we (and especially the kids) feel about not seeing our (grand)parents for yet another year is just heartbreaking, not even talking about the money lost through it all. Add to that eight weeks of total home isolation with six kids, home schooling and work worries and 2020 has definitely been a mental challenge I will not easily forget!

For me the only way to keep my head above water has been to grab tight our beautiful kids, take every day as it comes and snuggle up in our safe bubble until this is all behind us. We have baked, coloured, painted, crafted, cooked, puzzled and read. We have spent many days in our pyjamas and enjoyed drives through the country side. We stayed up late, slept in and learnt about all kinds of interesting things. We have built a custom garden bed and set up a chicken coop, we have hatched our very own chicks in an incubator and are watching our chicks and vegetables grow.

As Australia slowly eases back into the ‘new normal’ I look back at a special time with my family and am proud of how we spent it. This week the kids will go back to school and I will go back to my readers, time to tell you about some hip and handy finds that we used a lot during our home isolation time…

While I was away for Opa’s funeral hip Daddy did an amazing job at home. Quite the change for our little troublemaker Ted who was still sleeping with us (and breastfeeding) every single night which was getting pretty exhausting! All attempts at weaning and moving him into his own bed had been unsuccessful until then but with Mummy away he had no choice and it has been the start of a better routine for Ted. He now happily goes to sleep in his own bed with a bit of help from this fabulous LeapFrog bedtime buddy.

Packed full of story classics, myths, nursery rhymes, songs and much more this clever story-telling cube is a wonderful companion for any children’s bedroom or playroom. LeapStory (RRP $69.95, ages 3-8) gives children access to a delightful collection of stories, songs and tunes, they can choose their favourites, listen to them being read out loud and enjoy a mesmerising display of images and animations projected onto the ceiling or wall. Parents can even record themselves reading a special story to their child, which allowed Ted to listen to his mama’s voice even when I was on the other side of the world.

We love the fact that LeapStory presents a great mix of well known classics and lesser known content. With more than 80 preloaded tracks spread out over four different categories (classicsmyths, legends and fables, sleepy time and learning songs children are guaranteed to discover delightful stories and songs they have never heard before. From Rapunzel to Rumpelstiltskin, from the Tortoise and the Hare to Three Little Pigs, from Little Red Riding Hood to Robin Hood, from Jack and the Beanstalk to the Fox and the Crow and so many others, LeapStory offers loads to listen, learn and love. Ted’s favourite is by far the Gingerbread Man!

We have put the LeapStory on Ted’s bedside table so it is always within hand’s reach, he can see the light-up base and projector and he often turns it on himself to listen to a story or two. After six solid months of use we can safely say it has been thoroughly tested by our big family and the kids still turn it on every night at bedtime, if that’s not a tick of approval I don’t know what is!

Whether they want to select a favourite adventure or hear multiple tales, set a timer to listen to stories as they drift off to sleep, flick through the different options or turn on the light projector, we have found the LeapStory cube easy to control. Featuring six simple buttons and an adjustable projector LeapStory allows young children to feel independent and in charge and they don’t need to ask mum or dad for help with every little change (particularly handy at bedtime!).

Getting tired of the same stories? Need a fresh fable or new nursery rhyme? No problem! Simply connect your LeapStory to your computer and download an additional content pack completely free using the LeapFrog Connect application. The LeapStory device will work on 4 AA batteries (great for holidays, camping adventures or road trips) or mains power using the included adapter.

You can find LeapStory at a Big W, Myer or other good toy store near you and online at selected retailers.

To find out more about LeapFrog, to browse the range and to locate stockist near you visit www.leapfrog.com.au.

Santa’s Wonderland 2019

 Out & About  Comments Off on Santa’s Wonderland 2019
Dec 082019
 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year 🎄✨ We just returned from three fun filled hours at Santa’s Wonderland and what a fabulous afternoon we have had! After our first visit to Santa’s Wonderland last year our expectations were high but Adelaide’s biggest Christmas event most certainly delivered, it was nothing short of amazing.

Traditional Christmas carols and sparkling lights, beautifully dressed up trees and eye catching displays, unlimited rides for young and old and photo opportunities galore, ice skating, toboggan slides, jumping castles, ride-on reindeer and much more… There is just so much to love about Santa’s Wonderland. If you want to treat your family to a memorable outing this festive month Santa’s Wonderland is ready to welcome you, book your visit online to secure your preferred time-slot or pay at the door. Here are just a few snaps of our Santa’s Wonderland experience:

Santa’s Wonderland is located at the Adelaide Showground (Wayville, SA) and will be open from December 6 – December 24, 2019. Each ticket allows for 3 full hours of entry during the session-time chosen when booking, that’s a whole lot of Christmas fun! With over 35 sessions to choose from there’s a perfect time slot for everyone. Please note that advance booking is recommended as sessions do sell out, alternatively tickets can be purchased at the gate at door prices. Children under 2 years of age are free.

To find out more about Santa’s Wonderland and to secure your preferred session online visit www.santaswonderland.com.au.

Lounging in Luxury with Linenly

 Eco, Home, Sales & Savings  Comments Off on Lounging in Luxury with Linenly
Aug 112019
 

A few weeks ago I introduced you to Australian company Linenly, home to the most beautiful organic bamboo bedlinen. I have been so excited to discover their range and even more so to dive into a bed freshly made with bamboo goodness! After impatiently stalking the postman for my order I quickly gave my new linen its first wash and manage to swap my sheets just in time for bed…

Because many of you are new to bamboo I promised to share my thoughts on this luxurious range and I made sure to spend a good month trying it out. I slept on it and under it, I washed it and dried it, I ironed it (low setting!) and even squeezed in a few sleep-ins which is very rare for me! There is a lot I want to say about Linenly, but in short let’s just say we are very impressed.

My Linenly order arrived quickly, it was delivered in a matter of days and carefully wrapped for safe transport and delivery. As you can see even the packaging is eco friendly: this nice fabric bag (which matches the colour of your new sheets) holds all your new linen and if you’re a master folder you may even be able to store everything back in there whilst not in use. It would most certainly make it easy to keep the sheets and pillow cases neatly together in your linen cupboard.

The sheets are silky soft and you instantly notice the high quality. All Linenly bamboo sheets have a rich 400 thread count and have been made with a premium sateen weave, it feels like sliding into a deluxe hotel bed every single night. Even after washing our sheets several times the smooth, silky feeling remains, which confirms the quality and durability of this bamboo fabric. For more fabulous facts about bamboo check out my earlier post about Linenly.

Keeping our old sheets onto our extra thick king size mattress was a daily cause of frustration but the Linenly fitted sheets are a generous 40cm deep (and stretchy) and therefore stay perfectly in place. I was so pleased with how the ‘forest’ colour matched with the headboard of our new King Living bed, it looks really clean and calming. Rest assured, there are eight stunning colours to choose from so there is a perfect shade for every bedroom.

If you are keen to give bamboo a go now is the time, with Linenly offering a massive 40% discount on all Linenly bamboo sheet sets. Prices are as marked, Australia-wide delivery is free for orders over $150.

To find out more about Linenly, to browse the range and to order online visit www.linenly.com.au.

LeapFrog: LeapPad Low-down

 Toys, Books & Movies  Comments Off on LeapFrog: LeapPad Low-down
Jul 122019
 

A few weeks ago I promised you a more detailed post about the LeapFrog LeapPad, one of the most popular kids tablets across the globe. As a loyal LeapFrog family we’ve been using LeapPads from the moment they were first released (in fact before that we even had its predecessors, the good old Leapster GS and Leapster Explorer) and many years on we remain big LeapPad fans. I regularly receive emails from readers to ask my opinion so I thought I’d put my two cents in…

While I will mainly focus on the four latest LeapPad models I would like to stress that there is still a big market for the older styles (LeapPad 1, LeapPad 2 and LeapPad 3) as well. You may not be able to find them brand new, however you can easily pick one up second hand on Gumtree, eBay or Marketplace (often with a heap of cool game cartridges included) at a bargain price which is a great way to start your LeapPad journey.

The durable design means that the earlier devices have lots of play left in them and you can still connect them to your computer with a USB cable to download new apps from the App Centre. Just make sure you tick the matching ‘Filter by Product’ box in the App Centre when searching for new apps. The majority of ‘old’ LeapFrog game cartridges are also compatible with the newest LeapPads, so they hold their value well. Remember you can always upgrade your device later while holding onto your game cartridges collection.

Good to know: I know I have mentioned this in previous posts but just in case you missed it… When you purchase apps in the App Centre they are not allocated to a specific LeapPad only but added to your LeapFrog Parent Account instead. From there on you can install them on each LeapFrog device (up to five) connected to your account. So instead of having to buy the app for each LeapPad individually you only need to purchase it once and then all your kids/LeapPads can enjoy the same game. 

Because your purchased apps are connected to your LeapFrog parent account, when you decide to upgrade your old LeapPad to a newer one you simply remove the app from the old one and install it on the new one. Just link the new LeapPad up to the same parent account and you can automatically enjoy all your previously purchased apps, how easy is that?

LeapFrog LeapPad UltraBack to today when the most popular LeapPad models are the LeapPad Ultra, LeapPad Platinum, LeapPad Ultimate and (a little different to the others) LeapFrog Epic. Compared to the first models these four are noticeably bigger, fancier and faster with front and back camera and beautiful full colour screens, making kids feel very grown-up with their own modern tablet. LeapPads are designed to be safe for small hands, you can protect the LeapPad Ultra with a gel skin (sold separately), the LeapFrog Epic comes with a rubber cover and the other two have a built-in shock-proof bumper.

Unlike the LeapPad 1 and 2 all newer LeapPads are rechargeable, there is no fiddling with costly batteries that keep running out and a charger is included. Each LeapPad comes with a selection of included apps so it’s ready to go straight away. Kids can play games, keep on track with a calendar, a clock and a notepad, take videos, snap photos and record voice memos and edit them into their own unique art, listen to music and much more.

LeapFrog is all about learning fun, each and every LeapFrog game is developed by educational experts to learn, practise and improve important skills through play. You can grow your personal LeapFrog Library by purchasing new games in the App Centre where you can select games that focus on the learning area of your choosing. Using games featuring popular characters like PJ Masks, Peppa Pig, Frozen and Paw Patrol and many others even the most stubborn learners will fall in love with learning.

The amazing thing about LeapFrog is that it recognises your child’s achievements and progress and adjusts content and challenges to match your child’s learning level, this keeps things fun and interesting all the time. A LeapPad allows for multiple player profiles so each child in the family can play at their own level and pace, now that is clever!

Hip Tip: The LeapFrog App Centre regularly runs brilliant sales (eg. 30% off all apps, buy 2 get 1 free) so parents can stock up on a bunch of cool new apps at a fantastic price. We usually do this before school holidays or big family trips to surprise the kids and save a lot. You don’t even have to install them straight away if you want to keep them for a rainy day. Keep an eye on the app or the LeapFrog Australia Facebook page for the next app sale.

All four LeapPads can be connected to WiFi if approved by parents (protected with a parent lock code). Having the WiFi connection set up means app downloads and updates are a breeze, there is no need to connect to a PC. Children can also browse the virtual LeapFrog Rewards Store where they can trade the reward tokens they have earnt in their games for game add-ons. There are NEVER any in-app purchases, children have no way of accidentally buying anything and there are no ‘temptations’ which is a real win for LeapFrog.

Most importantly the WiFi function provides access to a completely safe online environment called LeapSearch. All LeapSearch content has been carefully handpicked and approved by LeapFrog team of parents and education experts, so you can rest assured all web pages, videos, images and games they encounter are 100% kid-appropriate. As a parent I love the fact that it allows curious children to enjoy the freedom of exploring ‘the internet’ and searching for things that interest them without the worries of the world wide web.

LeapFrog EpicSadly the LeapFrog Epic is not that easy to get in Australia but it is definitely worth a mention. Unlike the other LeapPads this tablet runs on the well known Android operating system. The way it works and feels is a little different (in a good way), it is more customisable (not only the dashboard and background but also eg. the local weather) and if desired you can even add compatible Android apps and Google Play apps to it. Personally we only stick to the LeapFrog App Centre but I can see how to some this could be nice bonus.

Do we have a favourite? I think my children all have different opinions and they often share/swap between the different models that we have purchased over the years. Hattie is chuffed with her LeapPad Platinum, Juliet adores her LeapPad Ultimate and the twins feel very special with the LeapFrog Epic. We have purchased some of our LeapPads new and some second hand and I haven’t any issues at all with either, but of course if a new one fits in your budget and you prefer the peace of mind of warranty the newest LeapPad Ultimate is your best bet. Each to their own but in our family all LeapPads are winners!

Fair is fair, while there are a million things I love there are obviously also a few small things I dislike about each of the designs. Most of them are really petty dislikes I have to say but I promised to be complete:

  • I preferred the hard tip stylus of the LeapPad Ultra (and earlier LeapPads) over the soft tip styluses of the other three. It doesn’t wear down as easily and is cheaper to replace.
  • I wish the LeapFrog Epic would take game cartridges so we could use our game collection instead of having to download all the apps. I was also a bit sad that a rare few of our old games would not work on the LeapPad Ultimate, they do work on all previous models though.
  • When small children play their LeapPad Ultimate in landscape position the ‘on/off’ button sits exactly under their little hand so they sometimes accidentally turn it off.
  • The LeapFrog Epic is the only tablet that works with the LeapFrog TocoMail App. This fantastic app lets children send/receive basic emails to/from pre-approved contacts so our twins can communicate with their grandparents overseas which they really enjoy. I really hope they make this app available to the other LeapPads too!

Although I think I have covered a lot of the questions I received, I probably have missed some too. If there is anything at all you would like to know just get in touch and I am happy to help. Good luck finding your perfect LeapPad and enjoy the LeapFrog journey.

To find out more about LeapFrog, to browse the range and to locate stockist near you visit www.leapfrog.com.au.

A Magical Night Out: Disney On Ice

 Giveaways, Out & About  Comments Off on A Magical Night Out: Disney On Ice
Jun 072019
 

Now that my six little Disney fans are tucked safely into their warm beds I can finally put my feet up for a moment, but not before I have told you about our fabulous night out enjoying Disney On Ice celebrates Mickey and Friends at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre. What can I say? Words simply don’t cover all we’ve seen and the fun we had but here are a few snaps of the evening, doesn’t it look amazing?

Over the last few years we’ve had the pleasure of seeing Disney On Ice several times but this year’s show would have to be my personal favourite. Tonight we joined Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy on a hunt to find Mickey’s favourite memory, not an easy task.

We saw how Dory searched for her parents and found them, we travelled the wild ocean with Moana and watched her return the heart of Te Fiti, we experienced the sudden Winter in Arendelle brought on by Elsa and so much more.

We spotted Woody and Buzz and the emotions of Inside Out, we sat on the edge of our seat seeing Ariel up in the air and bit our nails watching Rapunzel and Eugene floating through space, we saw snow and even fire, we danced, clapped and sang along and of course we admired all of our beloved Disney Princesses and their princes.

When you have a big family like ours it is almost impossible to agree on a favourite moment of the night, but I think we’ve narrowed it down to Mulan and the Chinese Dragon, Merida with her cross bow and Mickey and Minnie Mouse wearing the prettiest ‘wedding’ costume as voted by the audience.

We are tired but so full of special memories and I know that our children will be talking about this spectacular experience for a long time to come. Whether you’re young or old, there is simple no age limit for the joy that is Disney On Ice.

The good news is that it is not too late to get a slice of the magic. There are still 7 Adelaide shows lined up (and plenty more around the rest of the country!), so grab your chance to make this long weekend an extra memorable one. Tickets prices start at $33 per person and children under 2 are free when seated on their parents’ lap. You can check out the venue map and book your tickets online via Ticketek right now.

To find out more about Disney On Ice celebrates Mickey and Friends, to take a closer look at the tour schedule and visit www.DisneyOnIce.com.au.

Want to win two A-Reserve tickets (RRP $92) to see Disney On Ice celebrates Mickey and Friends on Friday 5th July (5.30pm) in Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena? Hop on over to the Hip Little One Facebook page and tell us about your favourite Disney character to enter, good luck!

On the move with Chase me Casey

 Baby, Toys, Books & Movies  Comments Off on On the move with Chase me Casey
Jun 242018
 

VTech

There is no stopping him now! Ted is turning into quite the adventurer and if he sees the chance he is off exploring the house. Thankfully he makes plenty of noise so we know exactly where he is hanging out. His latest hobby is following around this fella by the toy makers at VTech:

VTech Chase me Casey (RRP $59.95, ages 9-36 months) is a gorgeous toy monkey who loves to hang out with curious toddlers. Not only is he very cheeky, he is super clever too as he is fitted with built-in sensors that help him move around the floor without bumping into things, react to movements and interact with your little learner.

Casey is quite the versatile fellow and there are many different ways to enjoy his company, making him a hit with little ones at all different stages. Measuring an impressive 34cm tall Casey is designed with little hands in mind, he is easy to control and easy to spot. Using the five chunky shape buttons toddlers can not only activate lights, sounds and music but also learn about letters, numbers, colours, body parts and more. It’s a fantastic way to train those important fine motor skills and a good introduction to the cause and effect principle too.

At 9 months old Ted loves crawling after Casey in Catch Me Mode, he has just mastered proper crawling and trying to keep up with Casey is great practice! As Casey rolls across the floor he encourages tiny explorers to follow him through music and short sentences. He even recognises when he’s been caught; time for another round of play.

Whether your baby is just sitting up or can already stand independently, with Casey in Music/Dance Mode no one will be able to sit or stand still. Casey can play a range of catchy tunes/music styles for kids to bop, hop, tap, clap and swing along to. In dancing mode Casey will wiggle and dance but not move away so he stays within reach of little hands to press his buttons. Parents will appreciate the volume control for quiet play.

Chase me Casey is available in blue and pink and is available at major department stores, select online stores and independent toy retailers across Australia.

To find out more about VTech, to browse the range and to locate a stockist near you visit www.vtech.com.au.