Saturday, 14 July 2018

10 gift Ideas for Baby Girl's First Birthday - Need Help?

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Coming up to our granddaughter Ruby's first birthday I had to do a lot of thinking about what we could give her as a gift and I decided to work on a blog post based on this.

So here we are with 10 Gift Ideas for a Baby Girl's first birthday.

If you haven't got a baby girl to buy for then click through and see 

Click the pictures and names of toys below to find out more about each one.

Click the Numbered Titles below to see a range of examples.

I am not including clothes here as we seem to find that our granddaughter always has too many clothes but if you really like buying clothes check with the mum first about what size would be best.

I am also not including a doll or doll's pram as usually this is something bought by the family.

1.  Peek-a-Boo Elephant

Ruby has always loved it when any of us would play peek-a-boo with her even if we just put our hands over our eyes and then pulled them away.  She would always giggle.

So when I saw this elephant I knew I just had to get one for her and it was part of our Christmas present to her when she was only 6 months old but would make a great interactive playmate for a 1 year old.  The ears go down in front of the eyes and then lift up again.  Two buttons concealed in the soles of the feet make it talk or sing.

There are lots of varieties of this so I did a lot of looking around to pick the one I thought was best and I was definitely not disappointed with it.  This is the one - it is all grey but others are all pink or you can also get pink and grey ones.

Oyedens Baby Elephant Soft Plush Toy Singing Stuffed Animal 

Kids Doll Gift (Gray)

2.  Rocking Horse.

There was already a Rocking Catterpillar in our son's house which had been given for Matthew so we hadn't thought about this type of item for Ruby.  However my niece brought a Mamas & Papas rocking horse to us when she came to visit one time and even when Ruby was still only about 8 months she loved being held on the back of it while we gently rocked it.

Then of course our grandson Matthew would get up on it and have a little go himself.  So the pink rocking horse stay's a nanny's house and they can both enjoy it here.

This is the one most similar of the same good brand that I could find on Amazon

Mamas & Papas Rocking Animal, Plush Pink Rocking Horse Toy with Solid Wooden Base and Raised Seat - Belle

3.  Wooden Educational Jigsaws.

Girls and boys both love jigsaws and it is never too early to start them on simple pull out jigsaw puzzles because first they are learning to lift the pieces out and then they learn to place them back again.  Great for dexterity of little hands and fingers to begin with and then for hand eye co-ordination later.

Here are two for the girls who love animals

Viga Farm Animals Wooden Pull-Out Peg Puzzle

VIGA Handle Puzzle with Jungle Animal Design

and here are a set of three which cover the numbers, letters and shapes which is the gift that our daughter bought for her lovely niece.

4.  Postbox Letters

We are always keen on educational toys because we like our children to learn through play and build conversation through play as well so colours are best introduced in playtimes.

This is the gift our oldest son bought for his niece Ruby's first birthday and as well as helping her to learn colours it will help with her co-ordination as she tries to put the letters in the letterbox.

It is an Early Learning Centre Toy so will be of a good quality too.



5.  Shape Sorters.

Our kids had a simple round tub with a lid which had 3 shapes cut out and then there were 4 sets (different colours) of the three objects that would fit in through the different holes.  They never tired of this for the first few years.  Such joy and clapping when they could put each piece in correctly.

Now they have them in all different forms.  Like the Noah's Ark sorter that we got Matthew one day when we saw it cheap in Lidl but unfortunately we never know when these types of products will appear again in Lidl stores so I can't suggest it.

Fisher Price make a nice one which is a tub with a lid and with a handle.  It has appeared in Matthew and Ruby's house too.

Fisher-Price FFC84 Baby's First Blocks, Baby Shape Sorter 

6.  Puzzle Play Mats

Lots of places sell these types of mats where they are like a very large jigsaw with letters or numbers.
They are very colourful and of course educational but also a softer place for crawling and sitting than a wooden or tiled floor.

It was because of the hard tiles in our expansive kitchen floor where the kids play that made me first think of getting a mat.

Assemblemat® - Soft Alphabet Puzzle Play Mats - Interlocking Foam Mat For Children - Activity Puzzle Playmats - Floor Protection

7.  Pop Up Pals

The one we have for the grandkids was given to us by my niece some time ago and I couldn't find the identical one online but there are many that are very similar.

The children love to see the animals or characters pop up when they hit or turn the shape in the correct way.  At one years old it is more hit and miss but gradually we will see Ruby catch on to the different ways to produce the pop up just as we saw Matthew do it.

The one shown here was chosen because of the good reviews it has received.

Need ideas for a Baby Girl's first birthday? Just check here!

8.  Musical Activity Table

While I was researching this I found a review by another blogger for a musical table.

I had been debating about a child's table and chair set and about a different musical instrument than the ones I had on the boy's list.  I had just made up my mind that the table and chair set was not right for Ruby yet so would not be right for other one year old's and here I found this review.

It was very favourable and so are the reviews on Amazon so I thought this would be a great idea to incorporate the music (which should lead to dancing if she is anything like her brother) and the table to stand at now that she is standing and starting to walk.  Then one day I walked into their house and someone had given them one of these and I saw firsthand how Ruby could stand beside it and enjoy making music.

Oh and don't forget the hours of delight the lovely noise music will bring to mummy and daddy!!

LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Table

9.  A Child's Bible.

Never too soon to start reading to your child.  They just adore to look along as first you turn each page and then they try to turn them.  Of course they like to turn back the pages too which is rather infuriating for someone like me who wants to read the story when it is the first time they  have seen the book.

Also never too soon to get a child's Bible.  Even though at that age even the simple bibles may seem too much for them just simplify the story even more as you turn those pages and reveal the pictures.

At the shower for our grandson Matthew our gift was the Jesus Story Book Bible by  Sally Lloyd Jones.

The Jesus Storybook Bible Deluxe Edition: With CDs

This version has a set of CDs along with it.  The book is well written and well illustrated and Matthew loves to go grab it each night to have his Bible Story (+a few other books) read before bed.

Now it is playing in the car as they travel so Ruby is getting acquainted with it there and will soon be having it read to her as well.

There are other versions of it too which are cheaper than this one.

10.  Personalised Bracelet.

When I was thinking and thinking and thinking for something special for Ruby and something that had not been already got for Matthew I was really having a hard time because other gifts like a Doll and a Doll's pram etc. had already been got by her mum's side of the family.

In the end I thought about an expanding bracelet.  I had one as a small child and so did our daughter Linda so I did a search and found one for Ruby.

I can be personalised up to 15 characters including spaces so you can get more than the child's first name if you wish and it comes in a little bag.

Personalised Child's Bracelet -

The birthday and party have passed for us now and we no longer have a baby granddaughter we now have a toddler as she has started to walk.

If buying through Amazon via the links in this blog I get a little commission but that does not mean any extra expense to you.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Killyleagh - A to Z of Places I Have Visited

I am writing about some places I have visited in alphabetical order.
Still wondering what I will do for the more unusual letters like Q and X etc. but maybe I will have a brilliant idea later.

Our daughter got engaged in March 2016 and decided that the wedding would be in August that same year because that was when she and Stephen could get back to Northern Ireland from their work in South Korea.  Obviously this did not allow us much time to get everything organised and because she was so far away most of the organising fell to Fred and I.

Finding a venue for the reception was one of the first things we needed to do so Linda made a list of 20 places by looking at recommendations online and we visited most of them, took pictures and face timed her while we were there if possible.

One of the places she had on the list was in the village of Killyleagh which we had never been to before.  It is about an hour away from our home in Banbridge towards Strangford Lough and north of Downpatrick.  From what we could see on the website it could well have suited her needs, so we rang them and made an appointment to go see the venue and talk to the owners.

The first thing we saw as we entered the village was a long high stone wall and we decided there must be a large house and grounds behind it but of course our main intent was to follow the directions we had and find the venue.

The street where the venue was located was on a slope and so was the street behind the venue and these two streets were the main streets in the village.

At the top of these two streets was where that high stone wall was and looking up from the venue we could see that there was a lovely big gate and turret type features to either side of it.

Unfortunately to the left of the picture there is the village library and car parking spaces which spoilt the view somewhat.  Add to that the fact that it was a very dull day when we were visiting but maybe we will get back sometime in much better brighter weather.

I got a bit closer to take another shot

Still cars in the picture but now we can see that there is the hint of a building inside the walls.

So of course I need to get a closer look but when I go up to the open gateway there is a sign saying that the public can go into the gateway but are asked not to further enter the grounds.

So a picture was taken from just outside the gateway.

which clearly showed the large house within.

Another one taken a step inside the gateway

and a third taken from about halfway through the gateway.

The village was really rather busy with many cars driving through the main streets and it was hard to find somewhere to park.

So we then headed out to the harbour area to have a little walk but it started to rain and photos were just not good there.

This one from Wikipedia does show the more quiet atmosphere in this part of Killyleagh.

Killyleagh harbour and St John's church

By Albert Bridge, CC BY-SA 2.0,

The local people told us that the Castle is still lived in by the present generation of the family who had always owned it and is not open to the public.

However they said the family were very good about allowing wedding pictures to be taken there.

Want to see a castle that is still lived in?

In the end the venue we had gone to see was not suitable for the wedding reception as it was not wheelchair friendly although the B&B associated with it did have a lift for people staying there.

Here's another picture from Wikipedia that shows how impressive the castle is from higher up and from an angle further to the right.  Even so again much of the buildings on the main streets are obstructing part of the view.

Killyleagh Castle seen from Church Hill

By Albert Bridge, CC BY-SA 2.0,

The village is lovely and if you are ever in the area and like to see castles then it is definitely one to see and remember it is very unusual for one to be lived in as the normal family home.

If you missed any of the previous places in this series just click on the Titles below:

A for Alicante
B for Bratislava
C for Calpe
D for Durbuy
E for Ennis
F for Florida
G for Gran Canaria
H for HongKong
I for Islandmagee
J is for Jersey

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Sunday Scripture - Luke 1 v 37

Sunday Scripture is just simply a thought or two on a Bible verse that may have struck me afresh or maybe for the first time or has always be special to me.

When looking at a piece of work for children this week I was struck by this verse and wanted to make a graphic for it immediately thinking what kind of background would reflect the awesomeness of the words.

Something powerful perhaps like a storm because I had thought of how powerful Jesus was in the face of the storm and was able to calm the roaring winds and raging sea.

Something immense and unmovable like a mountain?

Something so large it is almost infinite like the universe?

In the end I was enticed by a picture of a guy standing by a roadside, suitcase beside him and Bible in his hand looking into the distance.

To me this picture summed it up.

For with God nothing shall be impossible when He has led us to do it.

For with God nothing shall be impossible because He is in it.

For with God nothing shall be impossible because He is always with us.

For with God nothing shall be impossible because He is greater than everything else.

For with God nothing shall be impossible because He is Almighty God.

Taking this verse in context which must always be the case, brings us to the passage in Luke chapter 1 where the angel is telling Mary that she is to have a son and call him Jesus.

30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

However the angel does not stop at verse 31 but continues to tell Mary how great Jesus will be because He is the Son of God and then gives an example of an impossible thing having happened to her cousin Elizabeth.  That impossible thing was only possible because of God.

What about the impossible things ahead of us?

So I chose the picture above to encapture this verse because God was not just the God of the impossible with Mary he was also the God of the impossible with Elizabeth and He is also the God of the impossible with all of us who trust in Him.  

Whatever we have to do or wherever we have to go or whatever situation we have to live through that we do not see how it can possibly be done, or got to, or lived through - it is all possible with God.

What hinders us from seeing this for ourselves?
Simply because we can not see things as God does - we are not almighty like God.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Jersey - A to Z of Places I have Visited

I am writing about some places I have visited in alphabetical order.

Still wondering what I will do for the more unusual letters like Q and X etc. but maybe I will have a brilliant idea later.

In 1995 we returned to Northern Ireland from our 3 years of living in the US.

Shortly after this my father died leaving mum on her own.  She had always liked to travel so the following year my sister and I and our families and mum decided to go on holiday together.
It was decided that we would go to Jersey in the Channel Islands because mum and dad had gone there several years before and had really enjoyed it.

I was very happy to go there as we had never been to any of the Channel Islands previously and we had always heard that the weather was better there than in the UK.

One of the things I remember the most about that trip was going to the Jersey Pearl.  A place to learn all about how pearls form and about the grading of the quality of pearls.  It was very interesting for all 3 generations of our family.  Then Fred bought me a heart necklace with a little pearl set in it; a little pearl that I had chosen myself.  I still have that necklace today.

The Jersey Pearl has been open for over 30 years now and is evidently still one of the biggest attractions on the island.

It is at St. Ouen which is on the North West of the island.

The island of Jersey is not very large and we could comfortably drive the whole way round it in one day stopping off to see some sights.

Some of the coastal regions were similar to the rocky parts of the Northern Ireland coastline and we all enjoy the rocks.

The beaches were nice and with having 6 kids in our group (my sister and brother-in-law have 3 and we have three) we spent several hours on the beach. If you have read the CALPE post in this series you will have read more about my sister and brother-in-law there and my brother-in-law inspired one of my NEED HELP? blogposts.

Some of us are very fond of swimming in the sea and the temperature of the water was somewhat higher than we are used to in Northern Ireland thankfully.

The capital of the Island is St. Helier which is in the south of the island

and has a lovely harbour & marina.

Another thing some of our family are very fond of are castles.  Mostly we see a lot of ruins of castles but here on Jersey there was a very impressive medieval castle which is over 800 years old.

It is called Mont Orgueil Castle and overlooks the beautiful fishing village of Gorey on the east of the island.

We spent a lot of time one day looking round the castle

and the sea front is also nice to walk along.

 There is another Castle called Elizabeth Castle which can also be visited on a rocky islet in St. Aubin's Bay near St. Helier on the South of the Island but this one is only 300 years old.

There are also several sculptures on the island but they may be more recent than our visit so long ago and I do not remember them.  Which is a pity because if you have read the post in this series about ENNIS or an earlier post about TERVUREN in Belgium or one about FOUNTAINS you will know that I like unusual fountains, roundabouts and sculptures.

I have heard of the Jersey toad being a unique species of toad and there being a sculpture that and I believe there is  one to do with liberation and a kind of tree shaped one but maybe I just need to go to Jersey again to discover them all.

Where do we find pearls, toads and castles?

Another thing I remember about Jersey was all of the family enjoying ice cream together most days but then we would enjoy ice cream anywhere and always will at any chance we get.

We have not had the opportunity to visit the Islands of Sark and Guernsey which along with Jersey make up the Channel Islands but I believe Sark is smaller, very beautiful and known for it's wildlife whereas Guernsey is predominantly a fishing island.

Photo Credit:  Pixabay  &  Wikipedia  as my few pictures of so long ago were not able to be used in this post.

If you missed any of the previous places in this series just click on the Titles below:

A for Alicante
B for Bratislava
C for Calpe
D for Durbuy
E for Ennis
F for Florida
G for Gran Canaria
H for Hong Kong
I is for Islandmagee