Mellow Mummy: May 2010 : Taking life as it comes...

Monday 31 May 2010

My Biggest Fear – A Meme

I was tagged a little while ago by Claire, the 20-Something Mum in the 'What are you afraid of' Meme. Now, I recently revealed my massive phobia of fish, so I'm not going to repeat myself but I'll let you know something else that worries me...

I'm afraid of incompetency! My own.

There are very few things in life that I have attempted to do, but have failed at. I'm competent at several things. I'm a competent swimmer, a competent cook, I can speak German competently. I can't do any of those things WELL, I wouldn't say I am Olympic swimming material or a celebrity chef in the making and I certainly won't be changing career to become a translator any time soon. But I can do them, and that is enough for me.

I'm afraid, every time I try something new, that I won't be competent at it. SCUBA diving is an example of something I just wasn't made to do. I tried (as part of the fish-a-phobia thing), I managed to do it once or twice... but when it came to the crunch I froze, hyperventilated and burst into tears. It hurt. Not being able to do something hurts.

I think that most first-time Mums get the fear of incompetency. Before Lara was born I didn't worry so much about it (I thought I knew what I'd got myself into) but in those hormonal, stressful days and weeks following the birth, I genuinely thought I couldn't do it. I couldn't be a mum. I picked myself up, my hormones sorted themselves out and now look at me... I'm a competent parent. Actually, I like to think that I'm more than competent, I'm a great Mummy!

I'd like to pass this meme on to all the lovely ladies in the 'Best Baby Blog' shortlist at The MADS:

New Mummy
Young & Younger
Muddling Along

Sunday 30 May 2010

The Sunday Review - Lovea Shampoo aka My Shampoo Snobbery

In the first of two reviews today, I'm going to tell you about my shampoo snobbery. I'm really fussy about shampoo. In my entire life I have tried about a gazillion different brands but have found only 3 shampoos that I like enough to go back to. One of them stops hair loss so was really only useful after I stopped breast feeding, one of them costs far too much for it to be my every day shampoo and the other... well... given my general leaning towards all things natural and kind to your skin, I'm slightly embarrassed to admit, is Pantene.

So, when I was recently asked to try Lovea's Moroccan Argan Brilliance Shine Shampoo, the green, natural-cosmetics-loving side of me thought, “ooh”, while the practical, shampoo-snob in me though “bah”. I was prepared to give it a try.

Lovea is a French brand of certified organic hair and body products. Lovea has been recently launched in the UK by mypure.

Image courtesy of

It took me a while to work out that Argan is actually an ingredient, and not just a groovy-sounding name! Argan oil is a traditional Moroccan ingredient used to bring hair and skin back to life. This shampoo is specifically designed to wake up previously dull and lifeless hair. At present, it is 8 weeks since I had my hair cut and several months since I last had it coloured. My hair is definitely dull and lifeless but I'm waiting until just before our holiday to have it done. In the meantime, I shall perk my hair up a bit with Lovea.

The shampoo smells great and produces a good lather (something that is very rare in paraben-free cosmetics). I found that it left my hair with that wonderful feeling of being TOTALLY clean. I pay good money for that feeling at the hairdressers, and when I buy my salon shampoo products so it is great to be able to reproduce it with something less damaging to me, my hair and the environment. My hair feels a lot lighter and cleaner after using it than it does with my trusty Pantene.

Lovea shampoos are not expensive (they're not cheap either... just above normal really at about £4!). As an organic, natural alternative to supermarket and salon brands I think its great value and I'm happy to add it to my list of Emma-approved shampoos!

Saturday 29 May 2010

The MADs Blogging Carnival – Best of the Best

There is only one week left of voting at the inaugural Mummy and Daddy bloggers awards aka The MADs . If you haven't placed your vote yet, why not head over to Cafe Bebe to visit the MADs Blogging carnival for some inspiration. There you will find great examples of recent blogs from each nominated blogger in every award category.

After you've read your fill, don't forget to place your vote at the MADs, and if you like reading Mellow Mummy, please show your love with a vote for me in the TinyTalk best baby blog category. Thank you!

Friday 28 May 2010

The Cows Milk 'Thing'

You know how I told you I was a member of almost every single baby club around? Well, this week I have been inundated with emails from each baby club, kindly reminding me that in just a few weeks time, Lara will turn one (as if I'd forgotten).

The reason for the flood of emails is evident. At 12 months, the government recommendation is to introduce cows milk into my daughter's diet and, if I am formula feeding (which I am currently), to replace this with cows milk. The formula companies are in a panic, they see this as the point at which they will lose me as a customer and they're desperate to find a reason to sell me more stuff, whether I need it or not.

Image courtesy of Amadeus

For me, the transition to cow's milk comes as a release. No more preparation of bottles each evening to take to the childminders in the morning. No more cash blown away on tubs after tub of infant formula. It means less stuff to carry around and a welcome move away from reliance on a product with which I have always felt a little uncomfortable.

I know there are people who don't or can't do the cow's milk thing. I understand that there are people who see cow's milk as just an unnatural an alternative to breast milk as formula. I also understand the argument that the human stomach was never really built for cow's milk. But for me, it is part of my life, it's a handy, natural option and I'm confident that Lara is not intolerant of it.

I intend to switch Lara as soon as we get back from the USA. I would have liked to do it beforehand but I'm worried I won't be able to get to a local shop for milk while we're away (and I don't trust US milk... it's a long and slightly unpleasant story).

The astute among you will have noticed that not once have I suggested in the text above that I might feed Lara a 'growing-up milk' or 'toddler milk'. It has never crossed my mind. Even after the host of emails from the formula companies, even after the relentless TV advertising... I will not be feeding Lara a toddler milk.

I find the adverts very misleading. A recent TV advert tells us that our babies need to drink a gazillion litres of cow's milk to get the same amount of iron as in one cup of their formula. So? If your child is eating a full and varied diet, they should, by 12 months be getting their required iron intake from real food – not formula food. I do know of children, who, even at 3 years old do, genuinely need food supplements such as toddler milk to get their required nutrients; but in general I feel that toddler milks are unnecessary.

An episode of Panorama a few months back (the one with Annabel Karmel) revealed that many growing-up milks are sweetened to make them appealing to toddlers – feeding your toddler a sweetened drink will only make it harder to transition to cow's milk, water or other natural drinks.

I'll shut up now because I'm ranting. I'd love to know your experiences or opinions on the transition.

Monday 24 May 2010

Travel With a 1-Year-Old : Staying Safe In The Sun

This weekend we have had plenty of practice for our summer holiday next month. The hot weather meant that Lara and I could try out the new sun-cream that we got from Wilkinson and enjoy some fun in the garden.

Last time we travelled abroad Lara was too young for sun-cream. Until about 6 months, western babies are unable to produce the chemicals in their skin to combat UVA and UVB sun rays so no amount of sun lotion will protect them from the harmful effects of the sun. At 3 months, our best bet was to keep Lara out of the day-time sun.

After 6 months, if you plan to let your littlies play in the sun, you have to do your very best to keep their skin safe. If you start to teach them from a very early age that their skin needs protecting in the sun, the less damage they will do to their skin over their lifetimes.

When you are looking for sun cream for a toddler, go for the highest sun protection factor (SPF) you can find and make sure that their protection level has been certified. SPF 50+ is really the best option for young skin so even if you would normally choose a lower factor cream for yourself, make sure you also buy a high-protection cream for your children and make sure you top it up frequently.

Wilkinson's new formula of sun cream is available in factors all the way from 6 up to 50 and their latest formula has been given a 5-star UVA protection rating. The sun cream is thick (a good sign when it comes to high protection from the sun) and their children's range is a groovy purple colour! Mind you, all of Lara's clothes from this weekend are now slightly purple around the edges (but it does appear to have come out in the wash!).

Another great tip when choosing sun cream for your summer holiday – choose a brand where the lid stays closed during travel! All too often I have got to my destination only to find that half of the sun lotion is pooled in the bottom of my bag (the first time this happened, I learned always to wrap the bottles in a plastic carrier bag, but even so, a plastic bag full of sun cream is an expensive surprise you don't really want when unpacking your bags). Wilkinson's bottles have got clip-top lids but their range also features spray-pump bottles which are less likely to open during travel, and which can be fun to use for children and adults alike.

If you are out in the sun with your little ones, make sure you give them a hat to reduce fluid loss through their heads and to prevent sunstroke. Keep them topped up with water (have a cup handy at all times) and, if you can possibly do so, avoid going out in the direct sunlight during the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest and strongest.

After sun exposure it is a good idea to moisturise skin with a really light-weight moisturiser. An after-sun lotion is ideal because it is designed to be easily absorbed into the skin and to reduce the irritation of sunburn; personally I swear by the stuff to help my holiday tan develop nicely but I often use it when I get back from holiday as an everyday body lotion too.

Wilkinson's range of sun creams are available in store from £2.98 for standard bottles, £3.98 for spray bottles and their after-sun costs only £1.98. I've been very impressed by the quality and I think they're great value for money.

Sunday 23 May 2010

The Sunday Review – Kosmea Facial Serum

I have recently discovered . It is just my kind of place. They sell high-end natural and organic skin care, hair care and body care products for women, men, kids and babies. Everything sold by mypure is sulfate free, paraben free & phthalate free.

One of the new brands of products recently introduced at mypure is Kosmea. Kosmea is an Australian brand known for their 100% organic rose-hip oil products.

Image courtesy of

Kosmea Revitalising Facial Serum features their 'Eighth Natural Wonder' all-natural anti-wrinkle technology. Sounds impressive, but does it work? I have been using this product twice a day for a week and I know that isn't enough to prove the anti-ageing technology, but it's certaily long enough for me to know that I enjoy the feel of my skin after I use this product.

The serum is incredibly light and is instantly absorbed into my skin. It is designed to give your skin an instant lift and it certainly does. When I use it in the morning before work I put a little on just before my normal moisturiser, my face feels tight, bright and at its best. At night I don't need to use anything else – I just put some serum on and let it get to work.

In its practical application, and its effectiveness as an anti-ageing serum, Kosmea facial serum is incredibly similar to the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair serum that I recently reviewed. The difference is that the ingredients in Kosmea are all natural. As well as the rose-hip oil, you are treated to Vitamin e and to Hibiscus.

My absolute favourite feature of the product is the smell. The gentle hint of rose is supplemented with the relaxing, summery scent of geranium oil. The smell, combined with the light texture of this serum means that it has become an instant favourite of mine.

Kosmea Facial Serum is available from from £25. Postage is incredibly reasonable at £1.49 or free if you spend over £35.

Friday 21 May 2010

Staying Mellow About... Tooth-brushing

What are we doing wrong? We have been cleaning Lara's teeth twice a day every day for the past five months - ever since that first tiny sliver of white broke through the gum. After the recent Panorama episode that highlighted the risks of tooth decay in formula-fed children, I was keen to ensure that Lara got used to having her teeth brushed very early in life.

To start with, Lara REALLY enjoyed it. There were giggles, a wide-open mouth and she even enjoyed taking the brush from me and going 'brush, brush, brush' all on her own. That lasted for... oooh... a whole four days.

Ever since then, Lara has HATED tooth-brushing time with a vengeance. Every time the toothbrush comes near, she seems eager to give it a go. But as soon as the brush enters her mouth she screws up her face and rejects the brush. She will purse her lips, grab your wrists and physically prevent the toothbrush from approaching her mouth.

When Lara is teething, she is, understandably, even more aggressive when it comes to tooth-brushing time.

After the daily tooth-brush struggle, we offer Lara a cup of water (a grown-up cup, not a trainer cup) and she seems to look forward to this part. More often than not, this is a very messy affair.

I stay mellow about tooth-brushing only by telling myself that if we keep at it, it will, eventually, become easier. At present however, there doesn't seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel.

So, what is the secret when it comes to tooth-brushing?

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Home-Grown Potatoes – Worth The Wait


A seed potato is such an ugly, disappointing artefact. Shrivelled, discoloured and unappetising. If you hide them away in a gloomy, cool place for a few weeks they will - if you're lucky - sprout small, green buds of hopefulness. With each bud is the promise of a runner that will, when the spring is out, deliver a crop of tasty, tangy potatoes.

Plonk one or two of those nobbly seed potatoes in to the bottom of a plastic bucket and fill it up with just enough compost to cover the potatoes. Within a few weeks (or, if they're really eager, a few days), the first signs of life will poke their nervous heads out from beneath the soil. As soon as they appear, cover them over again with a little more compost to keep them in the dark and show them whose boss. Repeat.

Several weeks later, when you can top the bucket up no longer, let that luscious green foliage spread up and out into the great wide world. Once the leaves have flourished into great green bushes, the plants will flower (don't hold your breath, the flowers are really not that impressive). Don't be tempted to dig your potatoes up just yet. The plants may be at their most impressive but you have to give these things time – there are exciting things going on under the surface that you shouldn't interrupt... not yet.

Those last few days and weeks are the ones that count. It may be sad to watch your bright, healthy green plants turn yellow, then brown. The leaves will wilt, the stems will shrivel and only then, when you are embarrassed to keep such a miserable-looking plant on display in your garden, are you ready to reveal treasure.

Tip the bucket on its head and give it a good shake. Delve into the soil and rummage around, feeling the warm and grainy earth between your finger-tips. Feel the adrenalin rush as you discover each golden nugget of potatoey-goodness. And then, with your crop (however small in number it may seem), proceed immediately to the kitchen! Boil them, season them and then... devour them.

It may be months in the making, but a bowl of home-grown early new potatoes results in a few moments of tingly, delicious nirvana.

As a child, I remember eagerly following my Dad to the end of the garden in the evenings to help him cut the herbs from his modest herb-garden that would then be used to cook dinner. It is through this involvement in the herb garden that we were introduced to the more complex flavours of herbs and spices and learned not to be afraid of 'grown-up' foods. As I grew older, I learned to help him grow vegetables and fruits in our garden (and, through my Mum, I learned to help cook them, and eat them!) I am so much looking forward to sharing similar experiences with Lara over the years to come.

You don't need a big garden to grow your own food; in my experience, many herbs and vegetables actually turn out just as tasty and prolific if grown in patio pots (or plastic buckets). If you would like some tips, give me a shout.

This post was written for this week's writing workshop at Sleep Is For The Weak, I used prompt 2 and was inspired by a recent post at My Daddy Cooks and by my recent winnings from Bringing Up Charlie who are both very worthy nominees in the MADs (a quick reminder... please vote for me!).

Tuesday 18 May 2010

Kreativ Blogger - A Meme of Interesting Stuff!

I tagged with the Kreativ Blogger award by fellow techy Susan K. Mann thank you. I have to follow the rules below:

  1. You must thank the person who has given you the award.
  2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
  3. Link the person who has nominated you for the award.
  4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
  5. Nominate other Kreativ Bloggers.
  6. Post links to the blogs you nominate.
  7. Let the nominated victims bloggers know they have been tagged.

And so... let me tell you some interesting things about me.

  1. First up, I was born in Germany. When I need to, I can speak, read, write and understand German but I very rarely need to these days. One day I will take Lara to the town near Hannover where I spent my first months.
  2. I spent my early years living in Hong Kong (If you haven't guessed by now, we were a British Forces family!). Some day, when I am rich, and when I am less terrified about taking Lara on a long-haul flight, I will definitely take my family over there - it is such a different culture and the food is fab.
  3. I suffer from a condition called Freiburg's Disease. It is common in young, tall women and I first discovered it when I broke my foot while bungee-running at a work team-building event. It means that I have to be extremely careful with footwear, and when excercising as my toe bones are very delicate.
  4. I like to sew. Although I have recently re-discovered the sewing machine, I really prefer embroidery, specifically cross-stitch. Years ago, I had several of my designs published in major UK craft magazines. It's a handy skill to have because I will never be caught without a birthday card for someone!
  5. I am the commnity champion of the 'Mums Matters' forum over at Gumtree. It is a place to ask random mummy and daddy type questions. I'd love it if you came to visit me there!
  6. I love to enter consumer competitions; what I love more is winning them. I may not be on quite the same level as my Mum but I've won holidays and kitchens and plenty of other goodies on the way. Plus, it is the way I find out about new products and websites (some of which have become my all-time favourites) and in a funny sort of way, it's how I got in to blogging.
  7. I used to want to be a broadcast journalist. In fact, I was doing work experience on 'Newsround' on the day that John Major famously tendered his resignation in 1995 and launched a leaderhip contest. On that day, I clearly remember the JOY of getting home and finding my own words showing on the Ceefax Newsround page. That was about the height of my fame - Ceefax!

I pass this meme on to:-

Louise at Rock n Roll Babyworld.
and to Maria, Little M's Mummy.

Monday 17 May 2010

5-Star Curry and Pregnancy Flashbacks

Just over 12 months ago, Mr. B. and I splashed out on a night out in London for a curry. Not just any curry; a Michelin-starred curry at Benares in Mayfair. This weekend, we went back to celebrate a special birthday. Curry, followed by 5-Star hotel luxury and a baby-free, teething-free, early-wake-up-free night... my idea of a perfect weekend.

During the length of my pregnancy, the only food I craved was curry. Actually, crave is too strong a word. The only food I had any interest in was curry. I am a foodie, I love to plan my meals and daydream about them throughout my working day. I love to cook, I love to eat. During pregnancy, all that changed. I couldn't get excited about food. There was literally nothing that took my fancy. Some days, the effort involved in planning a meal reduced me to tears. The only food that triggered my taste buds for the whole nine months was curry. Curried anything, any way...I wasn't fussy.

When Mr. B & I drew up our list of stuff we wanted to do before the baby arrived, two of the things at the top of our list were 'have a meal at a celebrity-chef's restaurant' and 'go for a weekend in London'. For our 1st wedding anniversary, we decided to kill two birds with one stone. We had dinner at Benares, part of celebrity-chef Atul Kochar's growing restaurant empire. Dinner was stunning. Benares is an impressive restaurant serving a modern take on traditional Indian dishes. Despite the exclusive location, the clientèle span all ages, races and the complete social spectrum. The dining room runs like clockwork and the professionalism of the staff adds to the spectacle of evening.

The evening was lovely but at 6-months pregnant, I was uncomfortable throughout the meal (despite the staff's best efforts to ease the pain with a comfy cushion). I wasn't drinking so I was unable to make the most of the impressive cocktail list and the mouth-watering wine list. It was our first visit to the restaurant and we were in awe of the Michelin-starred Mayfair-esque wonder of it all – it left us feeling a little uneasy and throughout most of the meal we were worrying about how enormous the bill was going to be.

That night, the couple on the table next to us were enjoying the Benares grazing menu – 5 amazing courses; each a set of small samples from the main menu, served with a glass of wine chosen to perfectly compliment the dishes. We swore that if we ever had occasion (or funds) to return to Benares then we would try the grazing menu ourselves.

As promised, this weekend we returned to Benares. As we were led to our seats I couldn't help but notice the couple next to us. Fresh-faced (i.e. no bags under the eyes), loved-up and she, propped up by a remarkably familiar comfy pillow, sporting a well-formed bump and sipping on a non-alcoholic cocktail while her partner guiltily coveted a glass of wine. Their sly looks towards our tasty 5-course grazing menu told me they'd be back, a year from now.

Dinner was brilliant. We tried so many different things that we would ordinarily be afraid to try. Tandoori pigeon, monkfish with squid-ink mayonnaise, pickled prawns, white chocolate and Cointreau mousse (not all in the same course, I hasten to add).

I would love to know whether the couple next to us return next spring for their post-baby celebration. I hope they enjoy their return visit as much as we did!

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Wedding Menfolk!

This week's gallery theme is 'Men'. Let me introduce you to the men in my life (there are many, but not in that way... in the all-male career kinda way).

Firstly, there is Mr. B. You may have read about how we got together. Here is is pictured on the left with his best man shortly before I became Mrs. B. He looks a bit terrified, doesn't he?

And now meet my mate of honour (I believe you've met him before here and here) and my brother-in-law. This picture was taken on the same day after one or two drinks had been consumed.

Monday 10 May 2010

Travel With a 1-Year-Old : Travel Essentials

It is now only a few weeks until Lara's first birthday. And only a few weeks until our next big trip abroad. Inspired by a post on my Gumtree forum and by the forthcoming travels of Heather at Young Mummy, I have compiled a list of all of the things I feel are essential to pack when taking a summer holiday with a baby. Many of these items make the list as a result of our trip to France when Lara was barely three months old. Others are recommendations from friends, and from bloggers on my recent 'Flying Families' carnival.

Sun Cream
This should go without saying but before 6 months, babies shouldn't go out in direct summer sun uncovered, not even with the most powerful of sunscreen. After this they should have the highest SPF factor available and the sun cream should be topped up frequently. Make sure you try out your chosen brand before the holiday just in case there are any unpleasant skin reactions to the cream.

Make sure you have lots of easily transportable toys and games to keep them entertained both during travel, and once you're at your destination. Take toys that they recognise and will associate with home but don't take the absolute favourite toy, just in case you leave it on a plane, or at a hotel by accident.

UPF Buggy Cover
It can be incredibly difficult to keep your little one out of the sun when you are on the move with the pushchair. We bought a UPF50+ Shade-A-Babe sunshade for the buggy which was absolutely vital for our trip to the sun. I the future, I'd look for a brand that was easier to fit and adjust but in general, it's great to have something that provides all-over protection, whatever direction the sun is coming from.

Travel Highchair
With a baby who is big enough to be sharing your mealtimes, but who is too small to sit unaided in a chair, it is essential to take a travel highchair or booster seat with you because many hotels, villas, cottages and restaurants won't provide a highchair. We use the Totseat which I always carry in my changing bag.

Travel Cot
Many airlines will take a travel cot in addition to your luggage. Our travel cot is a Samsonite Pop-Up Bubble Cot and it is so light and so compact that we can put it into our suitcase. It is brilliant for taking with you when you have no idea what the sleeping arrangements may be but I don't think it is enormously comfortable for Lara as it rests on the floor and the mattress is quite thin.

Infant Formula
If you are (still) bottle feeding then it is a good idea to take all of the infant formula you need and not to rely on being able to purchase formula locally at your destination. Even the brands you know and trust may have different formula's abroad, so may not be to your baby's taste. In many cases you may not be able to buy the brand you want. When flying, it can be stressful taking boxes or powdered formula through security, but the hassle is worth it if you want to avoid having to feed a different brand to your baby.

Sterilising Equipment
On a similar theme, if you are still sterilising bottles and cups then you need to think carefully about how you will do this abroad. In a villa or cottage you may have access to a microwave, so microwave steriliser bags may be the most convenient (and compact) option. In a hotel, you may need to use cold-water steriliser tablets such as Milton. If you are just travelling locally, or you have plenty luggage space, then you may want to take an electric steriliser with you.

Lightweight Buggy
I cannot stress enough how important it is to take a compact, lightweight buggy on holiday. My travel system rocks but it takes up most of my car boot, is impractical for taking on a plane and is too precious to risk on airport carousels. My little Maclaren was bought for Lara when she was 3 months and is so much easier for travelling with, takes up less valuable luggage space, and copes surprisingly well with all terrains.

Baby Wash
Cut down on packing by taking a baby wash and shampoo in one, preferably one that moisturised your baby's skin too. We are planning on taking the Halos n Horns baby wash on holiday this year.

Sun Hat
In the absence of a beach hut or a UPF beach tent, a good sunhat with a wide brim and thick, natural, breathable fabric is a must. I've found that Lara tends to pull her hat off as soon as I put it on her so I have invested in a hat with a cord that ties around her neck. Green Baby do some great sunhats.

You might also consider...

...taking your own baby linen.
… packing a small number of co-ordinating clothes so that you can make several outfits from a few items of clothing (oh, and some hand-wash to clean them with).
...taking more than one swimming costume for your children (for when they won't dry fast enough, or if they are full of sand).
...taking UVA/UVB protective clothing for when your little ones are trotting around in the sunshine.

Sunday 9 May 2010

The Sunday Review -

My Mum pointed me in the direction of littleonesclothing at the start of the year. It is a great, brightly coloured website selling clothing for babies and young children at low prices. very kindly sent Lara this gorgeous Winne-The-Pooh Two Piece Set to try. It costs £9.00 and is a good example of the kinds of clothes you can expect to find on their site.

I wouldn't say that the clothes that littleonesclothing sell are the most well-produced children's clothes on the market (don't go there expecting designer labels or luxury fabrics) but they are certainly a cut above the supermarkets and their prices are more than reasonable for what you get, especially considering that many of the clothes that they sell feature popular children's characters. In The Night Garden and Winne The Pooh are just two of Lara's most-worn favourites. Littleonesclothing also sell brands such as Bebe Cool and Funky Diva which you will struggle to find on the high street. Their sizes range from newborn to around 6 years old.

I recently bought this scrumptious raincoat from them which arrived extremely quickly and is exactly what I was looking for to get Lara through the summer. It is by Sugar Pink and has a bright pink butterfly pattern. The hood is detachable and the lining is a soft, delicate bright-pink fabric.

As a website developer, I can often be overly critical of other people's sites! The littleonesclothing website is extraordinarily easy to easy to use. The search tool is effective but you rarely need to use it because the clothes are split sensibly and accurately into categories by age and sex. The clothes are all incredibly clearly photographed (none are modelled) which gives the site a crisp, tidy appearance. When you choose to view further details of an item, there are often several further images to show patterns or features of the clothes.

I found the ordering process to be easy and the postage costs to be reasonable (UK postage is currently FREE; normally it is free if you spend over £25).

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Hidden Places - The Gallery

This week on The Gallery we have been asked to paint a picture of the world. I wanted to share with you a remote, hidden place of beauty that I feel really honoured to have seen it. Somewhere isolated and untouched by humanity.

Behold, this pristine beach on the island on Benguerra a short way from the Mozambique coast. The beach faces the indian ocean which is wild and feisty on this side of the island, meaning local fishermen have no need to come here. The only humans to walk this beach are the very occasional tourist who, having trekked half way across the world to find this island, have torn themselves away from the ethnic luxury of their hotels to discover the beauty of the real Benguerra.

And now, look closer.

See those tiny little pink crabs with their groovy pokey-uppy eyes? There are literally millions of them. Imagine the feint hiss of the water as the waves trickle back over the hot sand, and then the spooky, chitter-chatter of claws pattering over the beach before the next wave washes up and covers them!

It was very special watching those crabs, on THEIR beach. I feel privileged to have shared it with them - I hope you enjoyed it!

Monday 3 May 2010

Teething Trials – The Results!

A few weeks ago, you may remember that Lara was suffering from teething pain so severe that I was genuinely worried about her. At the time, I received a whole host of tips for how to try and help her through the hard times. The pain and suffering kept going for so long that I had time to try out nearly all of the remedies suggested. So here, for future reference, are the results of our teething trials.

I would like to point out now (in 'Grow your own drugs' stylee) that this was not a scientific experiment and that there are a million and one different variables that can account for the results we've seen and that every child is different, so what works for one, will not work for another. OK, that's the serious bit over.

Teethers & Teething Dummies: Lara doesn't recognise teething toys as things she can put in her mouth. Food goes in the mouth, toys are for playing with. When her teething was at her worst, she didn't want anything in her mouth, not even food, so chilled carrots weren't even an option.

Teething Gel: We have tried Calgel (Lara likes the flavour and sensation but it just doesn't seem to get any relief from it) and we were also given some Boots own brand gel (slightly more effective but she doesn't enjoy the minty flavour).

Teething Powders: We have now tried both Nelson's Teetha powders and Ashton & Parsons powders. They both contain homeopathic remedies which are designed to target many of the symptoms of teething. They always calm Lara down for about 5 minutes (I guess through fascination rather than anything else) but once the novelty wears off, that is the extent of the relief.

Calpol / Calprofen: There is no denying that the paracetemol / ibuprofen medicines we tried on Lara did help to relieve the teething pain. We had been using Calpol to help Lara get just enough relief to fall asleep but the teething was so bad that Calpol wasn't effective enough. Following advice I received in my blog comments, I tried Calprofen instead.

Calprofen certainly had a much more impressive level of pain relief. For a few hours afterwards, Lara was back to her normal, spritely self. However, it had some unexpected, and undesirable side effects. We couldn't use Calprofen to help Lara fall asleep because it made her WIDE awake. She rushed around like a ferret on speed for several hours after taking it. One night, we just had to leave Lara in her cot come midnight because she was still going strong and we were unable to keep our eyes open any longer. A little bit of investigation told me the reason why – Calprofen has a totally different set of E-numbers in it than Calpol. Both contain additives which are banned on the continent and across the world because of the effect they can have on children's health & behaviour.

I like to keep an open mind about these things, but from now on, the Calprofen will be reserved for emergency pain relief.

Amber Necklace: The very last remedy we tried on Lara was an amber necklace that I was sent by the very lovely Little Sunflowers. There is no way I would have bought one myself- it just seemed a bit too quirky. I put it down to co-incidence that the day we first put the necklace on Lara, tooth number 6 popped through and the pain died down; leaving Lara her normal, cheerful self.

Three weeks down the line, Lara started showing the first signs of teething again. She was a little grumbly and I noticed she was dribbling a lot. I started putting the necklace on during the day. Over the past week Lara has been teething a lot; there are buckets of dribble, a sore bottom, the tell-tale scratching behind the ears, she is slightly restless during the night and if anyone puts their hand anywhere near her mouth, they immediately get their fingers gnawed.

The difference this time around is that Lara is still cheerful. We have not had to resort to any of the medical or herbal solutions to teething this time. Lara is definitely a little unsettled but there is no screaming or crying, no misery in the afternoons and no feeling sorry for herself. The difference is remarkable. The one morning when I didn't use the necklace (we were going to swimming and it was one less thing to worry about), Lara was a total nightmare – screaming, miserable and hard, hard work.

Amber necklaces are generally designed to be safe for children to wear. The amber is said to release natural oils onto the skin that have an analgesic effect which soothes and calms them; the longer they wear it, the more effective it is. I am still not certain enough to say that the necklace is solely responsible for Lara's calmer, relaxed nature during teething but I am beginning to be won over (and so are Lara's childminders). I will keep you updated on our progress.

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