I’m sure by now you’re aware that Meg has a keen interest in reading, and talking!  But not so much with numbers…she can count to 10 which is fine but anything above that and we start to struggle.  Neither has she got the patience to sit and count things, she’d much rather be pretending to be a fairy or (probably more accurately!) a pirate and if you challenge her to count something she’s more likely to just pluck a number out of the air than try and correctly guess it.

Which, of course, is fine and I love that she is so creative when she plays but I have found myself wondering over the last couple of months what steps we need to take to help her prepare for school next September.  Obviously this will be a gradual process but it doesn’t hurt to consider it, does it?

So I was intrigued to see how Meg would get on when we were sent Hot Dots Jnr to review by Learning Resources.  The Hot Dots system is basically an electronic pen which can be used with a variety of sets.  Your child touches the pen onto the answer they think is correct and it either lights up red or green and has accompanying phrases or music.

We were sent the numbers and counting set which is aimed at 3-6 year olds.  When Meg first  opened the pack I thought the cards were really simple.  She’s at the lower end of that age bracket and she was dealing with them without any problems, but then she got further into the pack and the cards did get a good deal more difficult with her needing to identify the number written in word form.  Meg, of course, had very little chance of getting this right but it was interesting watching her trying each one and working out which was the right answer.

The cards cover counting, matching and sequencing.

I really liked this set, we’ve had it for over a month now and Meg will still fetch it and sit quietly playing with it.  Eli also likes ‘joining in’ and identifying the different animals on the cards!

There are lots of different sets available from the Learning Resources website.  I’ve added a phonics set to Meg’s Christmas list as I think it’s something which will get well used.  

Disclaimer: I was sent the Hot Dots Jnr Set to review.  All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own. 


We very nearly stuck to our meal plan last week which was refreshing!  The only change we made was a sneaky payday take out on Thursday so the turkey meatballs have been carried forward onto this week.

I had some comments last week about the sausage special so the recipe is below.  I found it on the internet (possibly Netmums?) but I change what goes in it almost every time I make it so I’ll just put the most basic version down.  I have found it’s one of those recipes which happily lends itself to whatever you’ve got in your cupboard!

Sausage Special
6-8 sausages
1-2 chopped carrots (I prefer cutting mine into cubes so they go soft and the kids eat them!)
1 chopped onion
1 tin of baked beans
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 crushed clove of garlic
150ml vegetable stock

Grill the sausages.  In the meantime, fry the onion in some oil, add the garlic and when soft add the tomatoes, mushrooms and carrots and let them cook through on a low heat.

When the sausages are brown, chop them up and put them in (this can be at any point).

Add the beans and the vegetable stock.  Simmer for 15-20mins until ready.

Serve with potato, crusty bread…whatever you like.  My kids generally prefer mash with this.

I hope that can be of use to someone!  It’s even better reheated as it tends to thicken and as a family of 4 I find there’s usually enough leftovers to freeze another meals worth.

So, onto this week:

I’m linking this up with At Home With Mrs M’s Meal Planning Monday.  For more meal inspiration why don’t you go and look at the other links?


On last week’s meal plan we had cowboy chicken which proved quite popular and I said I would post the recipe.  So here it is, it’s so easy and simple and really quite yummy!

It’s meant to be made with chicken drumsticks but I’m not a fan of chicken on the bone so I always use chicken breasts.  Works either way.

– chicken drumsticks
– 2 lemons
– 1 tbsp clear honey
– 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
– black pepper and mixed herbs

Put chicken breast in an ovenproof dish.  Squeeze the lemons, drizzle the honey and crush the garlic over them.  Season with pepper and mixed herbs.  Marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours.

When you’re ready, put them in the oven (covered otherwise they’ll dry out) at 180 C and cook for around 40 mins or until the chicken is cooked through.


This week’s meal plan is a bit scrappy.  It’s the week before payday which as usual means using up all the remaining bits and pieces in the freezer and cupboards.

 For more meal plan ideas pop over to At Home with Mrs M.


We’re currently at that point in Meg’s life where almost every other sentence coming out of her mouth has great comical value.  She just says what she’s thinking and isn’t bothered or aware of the consequences.  And sometimes it’s so unintentional you just have to laugh!

On Thursday I took the kids on a 2 hour walk.  Despite being consistently asked 15 minutes before we left whether she needed the toilet, reminded that there wasn’t a toilet there and forcibly plonked on the toilet before we left when we were about halfway round naturally Meg decided she needed a wee.

Luckily there were public toilets and several other mums present who shared an eye-rolling “yours too eh?” moment with me when I entered.

So, the scene is set.  

Meg was on the toilet, swinging her legs, taking her merry time regaling us all with a tuneless version of Baa Baa Black Sheep when her welly fell off.  Naturally Meg exclaimed “oh my welly has fallen off” except, at the moment Meg is being a pirate, so what she actually said was “argh me willy has fallen off”

That in itself caused me to stifle a giggle but I couldn’t help myself when a little voice piped up from somewhere else in the toilets:

Small child: *gasp* “Mummy, what if my willy falls off” 
Clearly harassed mother: “Your willy won’t fall off, don’t be ridiculous” 
Small child: “I just heard it”
Harassed and exasperated Mother: “I don’t think that’s what she said”
Meg *indignantly*: “Yes I did, my willy fell off!”

I tried and failed at not snorting with laughter and we had to hide out in the cubicle until I was sure the other mum had gone as I don’t think I could have taken the glares.

Definitely one of the funniest things to happen for a while, I just hope that other poor boy isn’t too traumatised!

I’m linking this up with Actually Mummy’s:

Wot So Funee?


The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

I said last week that I was going to review the last two books in the trilogy but I really haven’t much to add other than, if you haven’t read them – do!

If you want to read my earlier review, you can do so here.  

I thought instead I would review the book I’ve just finished.

Tideline by Penny Hancock
He chose to come to the River House.  She chose to keep him there.  Forever…

I’m not usually a fan of thrillers so I was a bit wary when I first started Tideline but from the first page I was hooked.  The story is centered around Sonia, a voice coach who teaches from her home River House which is situated near the Thames.  She opens the door one day to 15 year old Jez, who has come to collect an album Sonia’s husband Greg offered to lend him.  Sonia invites him in and asks him to stay for a drink.  During that time Sonia is overwhelmed with a desire to keep Jez in the River House in order to ‘protect’ him.

You meet various characters in the book and some of the chapters are written in a third person narrative from Jez’s aunt, and Sonia’s friend, Helen’s point of view.  I can see why Penny Hancock has done this, to help with the flesh of the story but the chapters were few and far between and at times I felt a bit unnecessary.  

The book starts the minute Sonia opens the door to Jez which I found difficult to begin with.  I wanted more of an introduction to the characters but instead Penny Hancock just begins with the meaty story and doesn’t let up until the end.  The reasons behind Sonia’s decision to kidnap Jez are unraveled and revealed slowly throughout the telling of the story.

What is so interesting about this is that it’s not often you read a book from a captors point of view.  Penny Hancock has created a very troubled woman in Sonia but one you almost start to feel sorry for.  It was an interesting perspective to read from.

The premise of the book is quite unsettling and at times I found I had to try and read it from a more removed mindset as it is incredibly dark but I honestly couldn’t put it down.  There is a twist right at the end which I didn’t see coming at all and definitely made it worth finishing.

I also enjoyed how Penny Hancock tied everything in with Sonia’s obsession with the River Thames.  If you don’t like overly descriptive books then this is probably a big turn off but she often relates things back to the way the river works and a lot of Sonia’s thoughts and emotions are intertwined with descriptions of the Thames.  I thought it was clever.

My Other Half read this book and didn’t enjoy it.  He felt that there was too much ’emotional reasoning’ and felt quite unsympathetic and angry towards Sonia.  I can understand his comments but I thought that this was part of the genius in the telling of the story as you see Sonia as a real person, with real issues and in some ways you can begin to empathise and identify with her despite the awful things she does.

If you enjoy thrillers then I think this is definitely a book worth reading.  If you don’t like books which have an unsettling negative element to them then I would give it a miss!

If you want to join in with my Book Love linky, please do.  Feel free to take the badge too 🙂

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Currently Reading: The Adulteress by Noelle Harrison