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"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm": Aquabeads Despicable Me Minions Playset Review

Enthusiasm was definitely the right word to capture the mood when the latest Aquabeader assignment came through for Miss T; to review the Aquabeads Despicable Me Minions Playset. Aquabeads are clever little colourful beads that stick together with nothing but water once they've been arranged into a design.

Miss T ADORES Minions and she ADORES Aquabeads -  so the two combined! Wow!

We've spoken before about how we love the new innovations that the Aquabeads playsets have. Each new set seems to have evolved in some way with an improvement. This time there was a new design of sprayer (which works amazingly well! - more about that later) and a 'Bead Peeler' which is designed to scrape the beads off sooner rather than waiting for them to dry completely so that you can get back to using the table tray to make more Aquabeads minions designs even sooner.

Also in this set was the main yellow palette for storing the 700 beads included (the table tray cleverly clips on top when the set is not in use to keep the beads safe) and 2 template sheets. With designs printed on both sides, this actually gives 4 different design options. 

Miss T set to work straight away. I love seeing her independence grow. Although she has loved Aquabeads for ages, she would often need someone to help her considerably but this time she was off busily working on her design by herself.

After a while she dug out the bead pen from one of her other aquabeads sets as she found it easier to place the beads using the pen rather than her fingers. The pen is not included in this set but you can buy it separately if you need one.

Then it was time to spray water onto her design using the sprayer. The spray bottle was different from the previous ones we have had in other playsets. This time it is more of a proper spray that comes out using a pump spray mechanism rather than a squirt of water like the previous sprayers.

Because the water came out in a finer mist, the beads didn't get super-soaked through so were quicker to dry and turned out shinier looking. We tried the Bead Peeler after 10 minutes but I think we are going to need a little bit more practice with it. As we weren't in a hurry to do another design, we left the Minion and his banana on the table tray to dry. 

Aquabeads are a pretty mess-free way to play but with the new sprayer, the table tray ended up without any bead residue left in it making it ready to play again next time (previously I would give them a good wash to get any residue from the wet beads off).

Needless to say Miss T was thrilled with the minion she had made - Kevin I think it is (she would know but isn't here as I write this) and the cute little banana. After all you can't have minions without Ba-na-naaas.

This is a super Aquabeads set that would make a great gift for minions fans. Or Aquabeads fans. Or both.

You can buy the Aquabeads Despicable Me Minions Playset here.

Proud to be Aquabeaders:


Easter 2018

Our Easter tradition over the past 12 years has been the annual Easter egg hunt at Granny and Grandad's house. Things had to be postponed last year as Miss T ended up in hospital on Easter day as a result of getting chicken pox. It is one of the problems associated with being on methotrexate - even common childhood illnesses can take a serious toll on her health - It was almost a week before she was able to come home and was on an acyclovir drip several times throughout the day and night. 

But the year before and every year before that it was a regular occurrence. Photos from our 2015 Easter egg hunt can be found here in the days that Holly dog was with us and used to join in the fun too. 

This year the Easter egg hunt went ahead despite hearing the sad news that my dad had passed away in the early hours of Easter morning. 

Massive thanks to granny and grandad for another fabulous Easter egg hunt! 


Miss T is 6 years old!

Oh my - how time does fly by. It is so strange to think that when Miss T was born, D was six years old - the age she is now.

And it is times like this that I love the wonder of blogging. We began the blog in 2012 - the year she was born and it seems that the first proper milestone update was at 9 months old but then fairly frequently after that at 10 months, and 13 months and so on. As well as capturing other milestone moments like her teething,  her 1st birthday, getting new shoes when she started walking. It is so lovely to look back on all those memories that would be so much harder to do without the blog.

Of course there are memories of things we wish were different - when she first developed Juvenile Arthritis. How I would do anything to take away her JIA. I pray it won't define her, or limit her and I pray she will overcome it to achieve her dreams in future.

So now she is 6. There was more than one day of celebrations as she had her party with just a few friends pottery painting on one day, then having granny and grandad over the day before her actual birthday and finally the big day itself.

She helped me make unicorn cupcakes which turned out super. It was the first time we had ever made them. Apparently a group of unicorns is called a 'blessing of unicorns' - what a beautiful term for it.

Little had we realised that just after we made the cupcakes, it was #NationalUnicornDay. Who knew there even was such a day!

So 6 years old. My baby is now 6. I could not have wished for a more amazing daughter. So caring and kind and sensitive and brave and creative and imaginative and strong and super!


"Look up at the stars and not down at your feet" - Our Snow and Stargazing Wonder-filled adventures

That quote has been made even more famous this week with the loss of Professor Stephen Hawkins. The truth is that I have always loved looking at the stars. Whenever life troubles seem so big an evening outdoors looking up at the greatness and vastness of space seems to make all my problems melt away.

In support of the current on-pack promotion, The Great Oreo Cookie Quest, Oreo have challenged bloggers to share their own wonder-filled adventures with the #OreoCookieQuest hashtag. Our family have always enjoyed a good treasure hunt whether it is looking for eggs at Easter or the educational treasure hunts I used to set up in the years we were homeschooling. We've enjoyed many wonder-filled days out visiting museums, observatories and monuments too.

As the boys have grown older, J now a teenager and D nearly a teen too, it has become increasingly difficult to fill their days with wonder and drag them away from their computer games. But the one thing that we can do together as a family that never ceases to amaze them (and us) is our own stargazing adventures.

We had one such night planned - with telescope and hot chocolate at the ready. Along with Oreos to dip and dunk into our hot chocolate.

But then this happened...


Winter often provides some of the clearest nights for stargazing but tonight's adventures were thwarted with snow clouds up above leaving visibility low.

But it made me realise that snow itself is another wonder-filled adventure. How rare it is (we hadn't had a proper snowfall where we live for 6 years!), how pure it is, how beautiful it is. The uniqueness of each snowflake.

Just as we can stargaze into the dark sky at night and spot more and more stars each time we look as our eyes adjust to create this gigantic stunning canvas of beauty in the night sky, as the snow falls flake by flake it also creates a wonderful winterland scene like looking out onto a painting.

Both totally awe-inspiring.

So, after playing in the snow, we used our indoor time warming up whilst doing a Stargazing themed Oreo cookie quest.

We plotted a few simple constellations that we've often seen in the night sky leaving one of the crucial stars out. The kids had to find where the missing star would go and fill in the gap with an Oreo.

Then arty D carried on the fun with some snowy themed pictures incorporating Oreos!

We love stars so much that we even named our cat 'Star'.

If you've never tried stargazing before, I'd thoroughly recommend it. We do have a telescope which has enabled the kids to see Jupiter and some of its moons.

Even without a telescope, the moon's features can be seen really well with a good pair of binoculars.

With the naked eye shooting stars can be seen - especially as certain times of year when there are meteor showers (e.g. August's Perseid's meteor shower). You can also spot the space station orbiting the earth at dawn and dusk at certain times (find out more here).

There are also several apps available that can help you identify the names of planets and stars so when you spot a particularly bright star in the sky, pointing your phone or tablet at it will show you what planet or star it is using one of these apps.

One final tip for stargazing...If at all possible head away from town and into the countryside where there is less light pollution and suddenly as if by magic thousands more stars are visible.

So whether your wonderfilled adventures are in snow or in the stars there is much to be learnt and lots of fun to be had with Oreos.

This post is an entry for BritMums #OreoCookieQuest, sponsored by Oreo. You can find out more about the #OreoCookieQuest here and find out how to take part in The Great Oreo Cookie quest currently featured on promotional packs of Oreos.