Family fun with Catan


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As you know we love to play board games, we have a huge selection of board games that keeps growing. We bought the boys lots of games for Christmas and we spent some of the time during the holidays playing. One of our favourite games is Catan, it's a classic and a good family game that even LP, at 8 years old, can play.

About Catan

  • Picture yourself in the era of discoveries: after a long voyage of great deprivation, your ships have finally reached the coast of an uncharted island. Its name shall be Catan!

  • But you re not the only discoverer. Other fearless seafarers have also landed on the shores of Catan: the race to settle the island has begun!

  • The men and women of your expedition build the settlements using the land's natural resources. Some are available in abundance, other resources are scarce. Ore for wool, brick for lumber, you must barter and trade according to the needs of your evolving cities. 

  • Proceed strategically! If you build your settlements in the right places and skilfully trade your resources, then the odds will be in your favour... But your opponents are smart too!

  • Will you succeed in gaining supremacy on Catan?

The board game Catan sits in the middle of the frame with 3 cards either side of it. The cards each have a different picture; wood, hay,  rock, sheep, brick, and a "monopoly" card. There's a pink background.

After setting up the game to your specifications you get to choose where to place your first settlement. Take time to decide because this decision could determine whether you win or lose the game! 

Once everyone has placed their first settlements, and a road, you get to place one more. After that the game begins. 

Playing the game

At the start of the game, after placing your first 2 settlements, you are given the resources (cards) that you placed your settlements on to get you started. Your aim is to build as many settlements or cities as you can, each settlement gets you 1 point. The first person to get 10 points wins the game. 

  • We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time.

Vince Lambardi

The numbers on the board determine what number is required to earn a resource, if the dice is rolled and that number comes up and you have a settlement that covers that number then you earn a resource of that kind. It sounds complicated but it is very easy once you get started.

Setting up the board game Catan. The board pieces have been put together on a wooden table, each resource board piece has an oval number card on it.

The resource cards are what you use to be able to build new settlements, roads, and cities, but you can only collect these cards when your number comes up on the dice. This is where your decision at the start of the game comes in, because if you chose to place your settlement near a rare number it is less likely you'll get the right resources and so won't be able to build your settlements. 

Small houses have been put onto the Catan board, they are in colours, red, blue, white, and orange. There's a grey figure in the centre of the board, this is the "robber".

  • Do you know what my favourite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.

Mike Singletary

We each have a different coloured settlement; Hubby is blue, BP is red, LP is orange, and I am white.

This game is all about the tactics, where you place your settlements, and how to stop your opponents from building their settlements.

What we thought

Catan is one of our favourite games. The game rules are simple (once you've read and played through) and the game is easy to play. LP likes this game because despite his age he can still win this one, it's all about the right resources coming up and if you choose right you can win. 

The Hubby won by miles!

I'd say it takes roughly 30 minutes to an hour to play - depending on the resources coming up of course! Sometimes you can have a short game, other times it can take a while for someone to win. 

We had lots of fun trading resources, sending the robber to pinch resources from other players, and building our own settlements. 

I'd definitely recommend Catan.

You can buy Catan for £44.99.

We were sent the board game Catan for purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

Motherhood The Real Deal

Help your parents hold on to their independence


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Getting older is never easy, and it's certainly not easy to see your parents get older either. After all, you spend your entire life being able to look up to and depend on your parents that seeing them get older and start to need more help in their everyday life can be incredibly difficult. However, one mistake that far too many people make is they assume their parents need constant care the moment they start to get older. More often than not, doing that is likely to leave your parents feeling as though they're being patronised and losing their independence, something many people value just as much as they get older. With that in mind, here are some things you can do in order to support your parents as they get older without taking away their independence. 

Dropping by

If you're feeling worried about your parents, it can often be tempting to check in on them constantly which is likely to make them feel smothered and kind of frustrated. After all, no one likes being treated as though they're unable to look after themselves. However, if you drop by from time to time, then you're going to able to check up on them and give them a helping hand with certain things without making them feel like you're smothering them. 

Offering emotional support

Sometimes it's not the practical side of things that older people really need support with. Getting older can be tough, and a lot of people start to feel as though they're not as valued as they once were by the people around them. By being there to offer emotional support, you're able to show them that that simply isn't true and that you still value them as much as before. Even something as simple as sitting down with them and listening to the things they have to say can have a significant impact on the way they feel about getting older.

Home care

There may come a time when your parents need more than just a helping hand every so often. However, there's a big difference between needing more consistent help and being able to live independently. This is where home care services can be useful. They offer older people the chance to get the kind of support they need without taking away their home or their sense of independence. It's a great balance that can allow your parents to live much more happily and comfortably without taking away their sense of identity or independence.

It's important to be able to recognise when your parents start to need more help than you can necessarily provide. They might not want to fully accept it, but it's important to think carefully about what the next step is when your parents aren't able to live independently anymore. It's never an easy decision to make, but it's one you have to think about carefully.

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Have you ditched your New Year Resolution yet?


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Did you know that today, 17th January, is Ditch New Year's Resolution Day? I had no idea but I have to be honest and say it sounds about right - a couple of weeks after New Year and already people are thinking about giving up their resolutions.

I don't really make New Year's Resolutions for exactly that reason - they're usually just something that is ignored or, more often, something else for me to feel guilty about not doing. As busy mums we find it all too easy to feel guilty about things, for not spending enough time with the kids, for not making the kids eat more healthily, or for not getting all of the housework done. 

Time to let go?

What if, instead of thinking of extra things you will do this year why not let go? Stop doing all the things that make you feel bad or guilty throughout the year - wouldn't that be wonderful? That's why I loved this campaign from Heidi at ThirdLove, her anti-resolutions really made me want to shout YES!

Doesn't that sound lovely? Eating lunch outside in the sunshine - that really does sound good, particularly given that it's gloomy and raining outside. Getting outdoors during the day is bound to do Heidi some good, she'll get a little walk, spend time with colleagues and friends, and maybe even choose a healthy lunch - all good things - and as a bonus she is giving up something that is bad for her. Brilliant.

This is something I really ought to do (there's that guilt again!), get rid of old bras. I hoard mine (for some insane reason!) and have a cupboard full of old bras that I don't intend to wear again - why on earth am I keeping them?! If you're anything like me you treat yourself to new underwear even less often than you buy yourself new clothes so maybe it's time you ditched your old underwear too. ThirdLove has some cute bras that are definitely worth treating yourself to. The funny thing is buying yourself new underwear always feels wonderful so why not do it more often!

Now this one really resonates with me, I have been doing exactly this. I get my workout done first thing in a morning and when I am done the boys are up and want breakfast. I've had my endorphins fix and feel good and the boys have had sleep and not bothered me. I did this before I even thought of it as a resolution!

What am I letting go of?

Whenever I buy myself anything I feel guilty. It could be a new jumper or simply a lip-care product and yet I feel guilty every time. I think the money would be better spent on something for the boys or groceries and I beat myself up about it for ages. I don't know why I do it. So I'm letting go of the guilt whenever I buy myself something new, even if it's a pair of shoes (I have lots)!

What will you be letting go of?

Is there something that always drags you down? Perhaps that's the thing you should be giving up. It could be those extra chocolates you've been sneaking (naughty!) or it could be the guilt like me. Rather than making a New Year's Resolution to add to the guilt later in the year let it all go and free yourself!

So tell me, what will you let go of?

Run Jump Scrap

Novel ways to throw your child a fantastic birthday party


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When it is time for another birthday in the family, there are many things you can do. For younger children and those reaching certain ages of importance, it is always a nice idea to throw them a party - if they want one, that is. Throwing a party always has it stresses, but that does not mean that it is not going to be worthwhile. In fact, it is almost always worth the effort, especially if you get to see our little one being as happy as ever with their friends and relatives. But it’s likely that you are keen to make sure your child’s birthday party is as fantastic as possible. In which case, you might be wondering what you can do to ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible. Let’s take a look nowat some of the things that you might want to consider in order to throw the best possible party for your child's birthday.

Think of a theme

One of the best ways to make sure that it goes as well as you would like it to is to think of a theme for the day itself. In order to come up with one which will go down well, you should try of course to think of a theme which your children are likely to enjoy. That means going for something relevant to their personality, to their likes, or something which they are interested in. going down this route is safe, and it will mean that you have something to tie everything together nicely too. If you are struggling to come up with a decent theme, then you might want to think about a more general children’s party theme. If all else fails, that should probably be good enough to ensure that your child - and all of their guests - have an enjoyable time, and that you know what the event should look like.

Invite lots - and early

You will probably want to make sure that your child’s party has lots of visitors, so it is therefore hugely important to invite as many people as you think is necessary. By all means don’t go overboard, but also make sure that you invite enough to make it feel like a proper event. As well as inviting a good number of people, you should also be sure to invite those people as early as you can. The earlier you get the date in their calendars, the less likely it is that people will flake out on you, and this will ultimately lead to a bigger turnout in the end. Of course, once again there is such a thing as taking this advice too far. If you invite everyone too early, it will only mean that people might forget about the event again. Find the balance and get it right to ensure a decent turnout, but not ridiculous amounts of people descending on your venue.

Choose a venue away from home

Speaking of which, it is generally a pretty good idea to choose a venue other than your own home for these parties. This is useful for a number of reasons. For a start, it means that you don’t need to spend the day fretting about your best china and the state of your carpet and walls. You can just relax and enjoy it instead, without worrying what might happen or who might have dirty shoes on. But it will also mean that you can arrange for an actual end time to the event, and you might be surprised how important this turns out to be when you re arranging this kind of event. Having a hall booked for a set number of hours means that nobody can or will outstay their welcome, and that will give you plenty of opportunity to clear up afterwards too. If you do decide to use your own home, you will need to try and be clear about when they should leave and so on.

Add a little something new

You will want to include something which is fairly unique in order for the party to stand out and be one that people remember well. All parents want their children to enjoy their party and hopefully even look back on them with fondness. So you should have something that stands out in such a way that people can’t possibly forget it. Perhaps you want to have a photobooth installed so that people can take silly photos. Or maybe you have something even more original in mind. Whatever you decide upon, it is a great way of ensuring that the party is its own event.

Bring in the clowns

You don’t have to have a clown, of course, but having some kind of entertainment for everyone to see is usually a pretty good idea. Often it seems as though not having this makes for an empty affair, so it might feel that you need to. But if you would rather not go down the clown route, what’s generally just as popular is the magician route. Having a children’s magician come to the event can often be enough to complete the day, so this is something you might want to consider if you want the day to have a focal point as well. If you do do this, be sure to choose an entertainer who comes with plenty of testimonials, so that you know you are getting what you’re paying for. With a little entertainment, you will find that everyone - adults included - enjoys the event much more, and that is ultimately what you are going for here. However, be prepared to have to try out a few different local entertainers over the years until you find one that is completely what you are looking for.

As long as you pay attention to all of the above, you should find that you are able to throw a party which your child will enjoy thoroughly, and possibly even never forget. That will be pleasing for everyone involved, so it is definitely worthwhile.

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How to help your Teen cope with exam stress


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Starting today BP has Year 9 exams, we were told just before Christmas he would have exams and that he should start revising for them as soon as possible. As a parent my first thought was "What an awful time to make kids revise for exams!", I thought it was really unfair that the school would suggest revising for exams over the Christmas break. I mean, I'm all for making the children work hard but really, Christmas?! Anyway after lots of discussion we had to make BP create a timetable for his revision, the school suggested 30 minutes per day. And of course, that's when the stress began. So in order to help other parents who may find exam time a struggle I decided to do a little research and try to put together a post that would help both you and your teen.

  • My key to dealing with stress is simple: just stay cool and stay focused. 

Ashton Eaton

Pay attention

It's easy to get distracted with life, especially when you have younger children, and even more at Christmas time. Being wrapped up in preparations and ensuring everyone has all they need for a good break can mean you overlook warning signs that your teen is stressed.

The Hubby and I had to nag BP over the holidays to do his revision. Every day we told him to do it and every day he huffed and stormed around the house because he didn't want to. It wasn't until his first day back at school that I noticed something off, BP wasn't himself. After a long discussion we learned that BP was getting stressed about his exams (amongst other things) and it was causing friction at home. 

So my advice is to pay attention to your teen's moods. There will obviously be the usual strops and mood swings but anything out of the ordinary during exam/revision time is a red flag. 

A moody teenage boy looks into the camera, no smile on his face. He is wearing a grey GAP hoodie, his eyes and hair are brown. The sun rises to the right of him in the background above  grassy mountains.


Encouraging your teen to talk about their stress and what is causing it is hugely beneficial. It allows them to get it out for a start, and we all know that talking about our problems helps - "A problem shared is a problem halved" as they say. Allow them to express how they're feeling, try not to butt in with your opinions and how you think they should solve their problems. At the moment it should be all about them.

Once your teen is finished talking about how they feel perhaps you could suggest ways in which they could ease their stress.

It took BP to break down in tears for us to see how stressed he was and I feel so bad for not seeing it before. We listened to him and have helped him come up with a timetable for his revision. Talking about his stress and the reasons for them definitely helped him and I've noticed he's a lot happier since having this discussion with him. 

Enforce break times

While it is your job to make sure your teen is revising it is also your job to make sure they're not getting overly worried about it either. The best way to battle anxiety and stress during revision/exam time is to enforce breaks from revising. If they have an hour scheduled for revision make sure they take a break after 30 minutes or so. Or perhaps you could help them by taking them out for a treat, a cinema visit perhaps, in order to take their mind off the revision.

  • Even though you're growing up, you should never stop having fun. 

Nina Dobrev

We plan on lots of board game playing and trips out, oh and watching The Grand Tour of course. BP loves watching The Grand Tour and it takes him away from his revision, allowing him to laugh and chill out. It is SO important to give them that time.

Give them space

Sometimes the best way to help your teen cope with the stress is to just give them space. Let them stay in their room for a while, let them listen to music, just leave them alone. Giving your teen space to do the things they enjoy could be beneficial to their moods.

the hands of a teenage boy clutch an iPhone close to the camera. He is holding it above a Macbook Air, his black t-shirt is blurred in the background. The photo is in black and white.

We don't usually like BP to spend a lot of time in his bedroom, he has a room downstairs (open-plan) in which he sits to watch his TV and study, but during exam revision time we've been more flexible. He is starting to need that time on his own and restricting his alone time when he is more stressed is not going to help any of us. 

Useful websites

As a parent to a teen going through exam stress I did some research, I tried to find ways I could help BP. Unfortunately because the Year 9 SATS were scrapped the Department of Education website wasn't much use, it may be more useful at GCSE time but for now it didn't help at all. You see the exams that BP is taking are Teacher Assessment exams, as far as I can gather. However I did find the NHS website useful, they have a brilliant page for exam stress and it's written for parents --> Help your child beat exam stress.

For your teen I would suggest the BBC Bitesize site, it has loads of information, test-type questions, and even teachers available to answer questions they may have. BP has found it really helpful and he's used it for most of his revision. It is not only meant for Key Stage 3 students either, it covers a whole range of subjects and years including Key Stage 1 & 2 --> BBC Bitesize KS3.

I visited both the sites listed (as well as many that weren't helpful) and found them to be very useful. They are the only two I could find that offered any kind of help to our situation. I hope they help you too.

The biggest thing I've learned during this time is to be more understanding. I know he has to revise and he doesn't want to have to, I know I need to make him do it, but I also know he needs a break from it. He can't be revising every day and focussing on exams without getting stressed if it's all he thinks about. I have made the decision to be more understanding, trying to be more mindful when I'm encouraging him to do his revision and coming up with good ways to take him away from his revision too.

Is your teen suffering with exam stress?

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