Christmas · Days Out · Family

Disney on Ice – 100 Years of Magic

Hey…you! Yeah, YOU! Can I tell you a secret? Do you promise not to spill the beans to Sausage?

I know it’s a bit early to be using the ‘C’ word, but ours is going to be getting off to a very special start this year. You see, we’ve been invited by Disney to attend Disney on Ice: 100 Years of Magic at the O2 Arena on Christmas Eve! Sure, going into London on the afternoon before Christmas Day might seem bonkers to some, but we’re keeping it all a surprise for Sausage, right up until the moment we get there and we’re hoping that it’ll be an amazing way to kick off the festive season.

None of us has ever been to Disney on Ice before, so it’s going to be an awesome experience and it sounds like we’ve chosen a great year to go: “Join the celebration as 65 of Disney’s unforgettable characters from 18 beloved stories come to life in Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic! You’ll be captivated by the one and only Mickey Mouse, the irresistible Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio and all the Disney Princesses. Be thrilled by exciting moments from The Lion King; Mulan; and Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Toy Story films; in a skating spectacular filled with magical Disney moments you’ll remember forever as Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic!

The costumes look phenomenal – I can’t believe how they’ve managed to make a skating human look so much like a swimming Nemo and I’m even more excited about seeing what it looks like in the flesh! There are so many Disney characters who we adore, brought to life on the ice and I just know Sausage is going to be blown away.

Disney on Ice

If I’m honest, I think I’m just as excited as Sausage would be about our trip and the fact that we’re going on Christmas Eve just makes it all the more magical. The show will be travelling around the country and if you click on the link above, you can find tickets for a performance near you. We may even see you there!

Kids · Parenting · Review · Toys

Disney Princess Palace Pets Review

If you follow me on any social media, you’ll probably know that poor Sausage has been off school all week with tonsillitis. Every time we think she’s on the mend and ready to go back to school, she seems to get all run-down again, like today when she woke up with a stinking cold on top of it all. She’s feeling pretty droopy, so when a parcel arrived just for her yesterday, the timing couldn’t have been better. She’s had the Disney Princess Palace Pets app on Daddy’s iPad for a while now and she adores the game, which is basically a virtual grooming shop for all of the pets belonging to the various Disney Princesses, and the toys we were sent to review accompany the app.

Disney Princess Palace PetsThe main Disney Princess Palace Pets Pamper and Beauty Salon Play Set retails for around £33 and contains one Palace Pet (in this case it was Summer, a cat belonging to Rapunzel), and gives you a place to sit your animals while they’re being preened and pampered, as well as coming with various hair clips and brushes which can be used on tails and manes. We were also sent Blossom, Mulan’s Panda, Bloom, Aurora’s pony, and Treasure, a singing pussy cat who belongs to Ariel.

Sausage was absolutely over the moon with all of the toys, which seemed really true to the animations within the app (she immediately recognised Blossom as we pulled her out of the box!) and she’s been playing with it all pretty much ever since. All of the toys feel high quality and well made, although some of the parts are absolutely tiny, so I wouldn’t give them to smaller kids or those prone to putting things in mouths or up noses!

I like the fact that there are lots of different pets available, so if your child has a favourite princess you can buy the corresponding animal. The talking and singing cat is slightly larger than the other pets and as such retails for a slightly higher price (around £12.99, compared with around £5.99 for the smaller, non-talking pets) but I think all of the prices seem quite fair, given that it all feels sturdy and like it would last a while. This is definitely the sort of playset that I can see us putting away when Sausage has outgrown it, and passing it onto the baby shen she’s old enough for such toys.

This would make a great gift for any child who loves their Disney Princesses and it’s genuinely cheered my little lady up in a week which has been pretty miserable for her.

(post contains affiliate links)

Anger · Parenting

Leave Merida Alone!

Last year, on my birthday, we visited Lakeside Shopping Centre for a spot of retail therapy and some dinner. It was the first time Sausage had been to a big shopping centre and this particular one has a Disney Store, so I wanted to treat her too. As we walked in, we saw their range of ‘animator dolls’, which are Disney characters made to look like toddler version of themselves. One in particular caught our eye as it has long, curly red hair, just like Sausage. Being fairly up on Disney, Husband and I were suprised that we didn’t recognise the character and immediately did some Googling to find out who ‘Merida’ was. As soon as we read a synopsis of the film, we were hooked and couldn’t wait to take Sausage to see it when it got its UK release a month or so later.

Needless to say, we adored the film. Aside from the beautiful animation and stellar cast of voices we know and love, Merida was the kind of female character that the whole family could get on board with. Merida, for those not in the know, is a willful, fiery, horse-riding, skillful archer who’s afraid of nothing. She resists pretty dresses and royal tradition in favour of feeling the wind in her hair and exploring the Scottish Highlands. She exudes strength and character and has more personality, in my humble opinion, than all of the other Disney character rolled into one (with the exception of Mulan).

So, last week, when news broke that Merida was inducted into the official Disney Priness roster and given a makeover, the whole family was feeling less than impressed. As you can see from the photo, Merida’s waist has been slimmed, her dress ‘glammed’ up, her face is suddenly refined and overly made-up, her hair is a lustrous mane rather than a wild mop and, most notably, her bow and arrow is missing.

I’m genuinely gutted, not just for Sausage but for a whole generation of girls, that Disney felt that Merida needed to be changed in this way before she could be a ‘princess’. The appeal of Merida was her difference from the other female Disney characters who, let’s face it, are largely weak and pathetic and demeaning her by sexing her up is wrong on so many levels.

Why are we not allowing our children to aspire to be something different? Letting them know that it’s about more than looks, more than being the slimmest or the prettiest? What kind of message are we giving them by behaving in this way? I want my daughter to value her brain and her talents before her hair and make up, but I fear I’m in a declining majority with this attitude, given that more young girls than ever state modelling or simply ‘being famous’ as their adult ambition. I read a statistic recently that said that 53% of US girls aged 13 don’t like their bodies and that number goes up to 78% by the time they’re 17. Scary stuff.

There’s a petition on at the moment, calling for Disney to leave Merida as she is and keep her BRAVE. I’d love it if you could go over and sign it and take a stand for women and girls everywhere, females who don’t fit the Disney mould and are proud not to.

I’d love to know your thoughts on all of this, leave me a comment below.

Family · Opinion · Parenting

Jake and the Neverland Doormats

As is the case with a lot of four-year-olds, Sausage is a big fan of Jake and the Neverland Pirates. It’s a pretty good show and there’s always a moral lesson in each episode, cleverly disguised as something that Jake and his swashbuckling buddies must do to help them earn ‘gold doubloons’ for their treasure chest.

I rarely have an issue with the shows that Sausage chooses to watch on TV and I’ve blogged before about how kids shows, these days anyway, are educational and fun. But today, I was listening to Jake while ironing my work clothes and something about it bothered me. Captain Hook was throwing some shit-fit about the fact that he had no treasure for Pirate Show and Tell and Mr. Smee asked Jake and his mates if they’d hide some treasure so that Captain Hook could think he’d found it all by himself and be happy again.

So far, so schmaltzy.

But my problem is this; Captain Hook treats Jake like shit in every. single. episode. Just off the top of my head, I can recall him stealing the Neverland Pirate’s football, tricking them out of Bucky, their ship, stealing Izzy’s puzzle box, also stealing her hula hoop and kidnapping Cubby’s goldfish. I get that there’s a strong theme of ‘taking the moral high ground’ in the show, but surely it all goes a bit too far? Why should Captain Hook get away with behaving this way and still deserve help? I’m afraid this level of tolerance is a step too far for me.

Kindness is a hugely important lesson to teach children and I’m proud to say that Sausage is the kindest person I know, but at the same time, I’d never expect her to be kind if it was consistently being thrown back in her face. Are Disney trying to teach kindness, or simply make doormats of our children?

What do you think? Have you seen the show and thought the same or do you think kindness is something that should be unconditional and I’m a hard-hearted cow?!

Opinion · Parenting · Personal

When Did Your Kids Become Aware of Death?

I’ve had this post in my head for a while but have been finding it hard to find the right words. Sausage, just recently, has been talking about dying. During her games with her dollies, she’ll talk about them dying from one illness or another (mostly due to starvation, if I remember rightly…) and she starts random conversations about people passing away.

When my step mum died last year, I thought I did a really good job of hiding my grief, but looking back I know I failed. She saw me crying, utterly bereft, in denial, angry – the full set of emotions that goes with losing a loved one. Maybe this has contributed to her sudden awareness of mortality.

Then there’s Disney.

I wrote this post not long after I started my blog, but due to that wonderful parental pressure that kids know how to exert, Sausage now watches a small selection of Disney films, with Lilo and Stitch being her absolute fave. In fact, there are FOUR Lilo and Stitch films and a TV series, all of which she now has. In Lilo and Stitch 2 (for those of you who haven’t seen it…) Stitch’s batteries run out at the end and everyone thinks he’s dead. Sausage fixates on this part of the film and even though he comes back to life, often says repeatedly “Stitch is dead, isn’t he Mummy?”.

I always said that I wanted to protect Sausage’s innocence as much as I possibly could, but there comes a time in a child’s life when they start to ask questions.

“Daddy, why don’t you have your cat Mitzy anymore?”

“Mummy, why don’t we see Lorraine anymore?”

She also became aware of the concept after seeing charity adverts on television. She asked her Daddy why the little girl in the Water Aid advert looked so sad and Husband explained that she and lots of other kids didn’t have any clean water to drink, to which Sausage responded that she wanted to give her Christmas money to the little girl to help her. Husband made a donation on Sausage’s behalf (though not out of her Christmas money) and he and I were bursting with pride at our child’s kindness.

And how do we answer those questions without touching on the subject of death? To an extent I feel like I’ve failed her, should have given her a more imaginative answer and skirted around the issue, but at the same time, I don’t condone lying to kids when the truth will do. I think I just have to come to terms with the fact that she’s a bright kid and it was time for her to learn certain facts of life. She’s only three and a half, though. Seems horribly young.

Do you know when your kids became aware of death and dying? Did they hear about it from you and how did you handle the subject?