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

Thursday 29 July 2010

Lara Walks - A Proud Mummy Moment

I hope you will indulge me just this once in a purely motherly show of pride!

About 6 weeks ago, a fortnight before her first birthday, Lara first showed the signs of wanting to get up and go. In the past week she has mastered it! You can tell that her brain is now telling her to walk in the first instance and crawl if all else fails.

I took this video at the weekend. It makes me smile. I know every parent goes through it, but I think we're biologically programmed to have that wave of pride when it happens. Enjoy.

Wednesday 28 July 2010

My Working Mum Resolutions - 6 Months On

Wow! I can't believe that six months have passed already since I returned to work after maternity leave. It seems like an appropriate time to once again re-evaluate my Working Mum Resolutions.

  1. Don't Offer My Time For Free
    I have found it incredibly easy to switch off at exactly 5.30pm. I have rarely, perhaps only once, switched on my laptop out of working hours. I don't feel any less productive than I was pre-Lara and and I don't feel any guilt. Things feel RIGHT.

  2. Don't Take Work Home
    Well, I have a laptop now (through no choice of my own). But, surprisingly, it hasn't made me any more likely to work from home. I'm doing well at this one!

  3. Make Thursdays Fundays!
    Oh Lara and I get up to all sorts of fun on Thursdays now. Lara gets to go to parks and playgrounds and playgroups on her days with the childminders so I like to do something a little more adventurous on a Thursday. Recently, as well as swimming, we have been into London for the Christmas press previews, and we have visited Legoland and Marwell Zoo.

  4. Make the Most of Weekends
    Weekends are busy. Sometimes I long for a weekend which isn't packed full of fun stuff. Of visits to grandparents. Of day trips. OK, maybe I don't! It means that my weekday evenings involve a little more cleaning and admin than I'd wish, but at least we have time to be a family together at the weekend.

  5. Keep On Blogging
    I'm doing a good job, right?

  6. Feed The Family Well
    We've had a few too many takeaways recently (Lara doesn't get takeaway – she gets ready-made food). But, in general, I feel that we're managing well to provide Lara with great home-cooked food for lunch and dinner. Sometimes I get back from work and feel too tired to start cooking and on those days I am thankful for freezers and takeaways.

  7. Make Time For 'Us'
    Mr B. and I spend quite a lot of time together as a couple. We are very lucky to have lots of family living within a sensible drive from us so Lara can spend nights and days with her aunties and grandparents if we need a bit of time to ourselves (or if we want to go out for a posh meal in London). I sometimes feel a little cheated in the evenings if Lara has had a late night – I feel like I can't be a grown up until Lara has gone to bed. Now that we have introduced a formal bedtime (8.30), this feeling may fade.

  8. Stay in Touch With Mummies
    I recently blogged about how hard I am finding it to stay in touch with my real-life mummy friends. I'm trying not to crawl back into my all-male world!

  9. Keep Healthy
    Hmmm. The aforementioned takeaways aren't contributing much to the healthiness, are they? I did manage to shift that baby weight but nothing much more. Ah well – Must Try Harder.

Tuesday 27 July 2010

The Gallery (Nature): Washed Away

That night, as the winds howled through your branches, I lay shuddering in my hut, warm and dry under the protection of your forebears. As the tropical rains washed the silt from your roots and ripped you away, I listened to the insistent drip, drip, drip; the heavens had violated my peace.

Now you lie isolated at the end of civilisation, preserved, like an ancient King, by the salty current that licks your wounds. Your leaves no longer breathe life to the world, your fruit no longer give nourishment to those struggling families who relied on you. You have been forgotten by all but the plants and birds who find momentary shelter in your tangled roots.

Your branches have long since been torn away by the repetitive tide. Your colour has seeped into the vast blue ocean. As I age, time will smooth away your wrinkles, slowly demolishing your softened features and, many years after I have gone, every inch of your being will be broken down and re-distributed. You will (as is nature's way) once again bring life.

This picture was taken on the Mozambique coast which is regularly transformed by devastating tropical storms. This post was written for this week's Gallery at Sticky Fingers.

Monday 26 July 2010

Guest Post From My Mum! - Oh it’s Grand Being a Grandma!

Today's guest post is by none other than my Mum, Jane. Mum blogs at The Competition Grapevine and writes a monthly publication under the same name which is dedicated to inspring the world to enter (and win) competitions.

Not being the sort of person who automatically likes babies just because they are babies, I have been rather puzzled over the years when intelligent, rational, middle aged friends, both female and male, turned into misty-eyed dreamers at the mere mention of their grandchildren. Surely nothing could compare to having a child of your own? To holding your first baby in your arms and thinking, “We made that!” A generation down the line, wouldn’t a certain amount of remoteness come into play?

All that changed in June 2009 when our first grandchild Lara was born. I first held her just a few hours after she was born and fell in love at first sight. The feeling of “We made a child who was capable of producing that!” was unexpected and quite overwhelming.

And as Lara has grown older, it has been wonderful to see how readily that love is returned. When she sees me, her face lights up and I know that the love is unconditional – it’s not because I feed her, clothe her or care for her. It’s simply because I’m there.

Being a first time granny isn’t without its worries, the main one being how to provide the help and support that is needed without appearing to interfere. I hope that being ready and willing to help when asked without actually sticking one’s oar in uninvited is the right way to go about things (and I’m sure when Emma reads this, she will tell me if it isn’t).

Discipline and routine may provide minefields further down the line. Emma and her sister only saw their grandparents once or twice a year because of where we lived, so it was very easy for them to accept that different houses had different rules, and that grandparents were put on Earth for no better reason than to spoil them. They soon understood that it was perfectly acceptable to have ice cream for breakfast at Grandma’s house and yet unacceptable to even consider asking for it at home. As Lara lives much nearer to us and we hope to see her more often than that, we won’t be able to break House Rules so freely and will have to make such treats into special occasion ones.

But every grandparent loves to spoil their grandchildren, and I have a way of producing unexpected treats and goodies that is guaranteed not to cause any kind of conflict – I win them!

As you may know from Emma’s previous blog posts, I am a comper, so winning things is a hobby and a way of life for me. I have always enjoyed winning prizes that I could give to the family, as a way of providing extra treats all through the year rather than just at Christmas and birthdays, and now there is a whole world of baby and child related competitions for me to enter.

Many of the parenting websites also welcome registrations from grandparents, and most of them run several new competitions each month. There is also a dedicated site for grandparents, Be Grand which often has competitions open only to grandparents.

Toy shops and children’s wear shops, both on the high street and online, also run frequent competitions. Only a few days ago I was able to give Lara this striking new dress from Barnyard Kids which I won through a competition run on the Four Magpies blog.

I know that most people reading this blog will be parents rather than grandparents. You may, yourselves, have parents who are beginning to show their age, to slow down and not be as active as they used to be. Or they may be close to retirement and looking for a not-too-costly hobby to fill the new leisure time they anticipate. Entering competitions could be just what they are looking for – and as a bonus, they might soon be winning treats for you and your children!

If you would like to find out more about entering competitions, take a look at the Competition Grapevine

Sunday 25 July 2010

The Sunday Review -Lovea Tahitian Monoi Body Lotion

I recently read a review of the Lovea Tahitian Monoi Moisturising Body Lotion that said the product worked really well, but that the smell was unpleasant. Well, I think I shall turn that on its head with this review. I guess that a body lotion is a very personal preference and what works well for one person, might not work well for someone else's skin type – we're all different.

I have totally fallen in love (ha, ha) with my Lovea shampoo so I had high hopes of their body lotion. The moisturising lotion, like all of Lovea's products, is made from organic plant-based products and is free from sulfates, parabens and pthalates so I was hoping that it would be kind to the stressed and bonkers skin on my arms and legs.

I found the body lotion to be quite thin, but this means it is very refreshing and almost instantly absorbed (or is that just my dehydrated and unloved skin?). I have been using it for three weeks now on my arms and legs and have noticed no lasting difference so I'm not wowed.

I do however find the smell totally and utterly scrumptious. The smell of the Tahitian flowers is tropical, summery and light. It reminds me of my childhood in Hong Kong and is a relaxing smell to help me relax in the evening before I go to bed.

Lovea Tahitian Monoi Body Lotion is available from and is suitable for normal skin types.

Friday 23 July 2010

Lara DOES Christmas in July

Yesterday, myself, Lara and the 20 Something Mum spent an enjoyable afternoon in the City discovering lots of new goodies that will be on sale from the Autumn as part of the countdown to Christmas. We visited the Disney Christmas preview and the Wilkinsons Christmas preview - Lara loved it.

At the Disney preview, Lara was the star of the show - one journalist even thought that she WAS part of the show! She trotted around (sometimes without holding on to me!) and explored all of the exciting displays.

Her eyes lit up with glee at the Christmas tree made from cuddly Disney characters and she seemed totally transfixed by the Disney Princess merchandise.

Winne the Pooh was definitely the biggest hit though.

Later on, at the Wilkinsons preview, we were some of the first people to see their new range of baby and childrens toys. Lara gave the baby toys a really good test! We were all totally astonished at the prices of the toys which were all considerably more than reasonable.

Lara got in a bit of trouble for ruining the display of toy cars - that's my girl!

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Marwell Zoo – Lara Comes Face to Face With A Camel

Choosing a day out for a 1-year old is hard. I want Lara to be up for anything but I know that lots of things are still beyond her. She can't walk without holding our hands and I'm not sure how engaging she finds some activities; I want her to see and do exciting things without pushing her too far.

Recently the Mellow family took a few days off work to spend some quality time together. On Thursday we went to Legoland Windsor which was a big hit with all involved. On Friday we were looking for something a little more peaceful so we went to Marwell Wildlife Park near Winchester in Hampshire.

I was worried that Lara wouldn't be able to see into, let alone pick out any of the animals in their enclosures – it is hard to tell how good her eyesight is at this age. Thankfully, most of the enclosures at Marwell Zoo have a range of different viewing areas at all heights meaning that Lara could see into most enclosures whether she was inside her pushchair or standing.

Lara was certainly able to pick out the animals from their camouflage. She particularly enjoyed looking at the Lemurs and the Big Cats (something that the Mellow household always looks forward to, and which Marwell does very well). At times, Lara clearly recognised the animals; with a little 'oh' she would point towards them. I'm pretty certain I heard her attempt the word 'Zebra'.

Marwell Zoo has lots of large open spaces to pootle around. This is good for the animals as it gives them some privacy and some natural space. It is good for you too because it means you get some exercise! We hit our full recommended 10,000 steps that day (with a pushchair, so that counts as extra, I'll have you know). To make things easier, there are two types of trains (a land train and a mini steam train) that tour the park and pick up/drop off at all sorts of locations throughout the grounds.

Last time I visited Marwell I had recently moved in with Mr. B so things such as baby changing facilities and playgrounds didn't feature high on the list of plus points for the Zoo. Now, these things are important to me. There were nappy changing facilities in some of the toilets throughout the park, but not all. They were fine, but not massively spacious or clean. We saw two large, well-equipped play areas within the Zoo – one of them had a large sandpit which was rammed full of people. We had no problems anywhere in the park with pushchair access.

Last time we visited Marwell in the winter the food provisions were atrocious. Since then they have built a large café that looks out over the 'African Valley'. The food is expensive but palatable and caters for all ages and tastes. There are highchairs and changing facilities here. In the week before the school holidays I would have expected more of the food and drink kiosks throughout the park to be open.

I had been looking forward to introducing Lara to the farm animals that you would traditionally expect at a UK zoo. Sadly, Marwell doesn't currently have a petting zoo so we were a little disappointed. She did however get to meet a camel up close (Lara really wasn't too keen on this). Mr. B. tried to show Lara a tank full of beautiful tropical fish, but Lara wasn't having any of it; I hope she hasn't inherited my fish-a-phobia.

I'd recommend Marwell Wildlife as a peaceful but exciting day out for families with children of all ages.

Tuesday 20 July 2010

Lunchbox Fillers for Hungry Toddlers - Any Tips?

I send Lara to the childminder with a lunchbox, partly because I wouldn't want to burden the childminder with the need to provide separate, baby-safe foods for just Lara; and partly because it means I am still in control of what types of food (and importantly, how much junk) Lara eats. I admit, I have strong views on feeding my toddler so the following may sound a bit preachy in places but remember - I'm mellow - I don't live stricly by my 'healthy eating' rules but I try my best - bringing Lara up with a love of healthy food is IMPORTANT to me.

I'm always on the lookout for ideas for healthy, easy-to-prepare, filling snacks to put into Lara's lunchboxes. I've found a number of life-savers over the past few months that I wanted to share with you but perhaps you can help me out with some more suggestions – comments welcome!

Home-Made Snacks
As-per my working-mum resolutions, I try as hard as I can to provide Lara with home-cooked food every day in her lunchbox. But, I'm not superwoman so I very rarely manage a home-made main meal AND home-made snacks. I'd love to have time to cook flapjacks (sweet and savoury), low-sugar cakes, and other goodies; but the reality is, I don't. I simply don't have time. And so, I struggle to find healthy, ready-to-eat alternatives in my local supermarkets.

Images courtesy of Bondy Consulting

Crisps & Biscuits
There are a million and one different snacks and biscuits specifically targeted at children. Most of them sweet. Next time you're in the market for kids snacks, just take a moment to look up the sugar and salt content of them - you would be very surprised (Heinz Biscotti are a case in point).

I have always been happy with the ingredients in the Organix and Plum Baby snacks but when I try them myself, I personally prefer the flavours of the Plum Baby products. I'm particularly happy that Plum Baby have just launched a range of savoury snack foods – it makes such a pleasant change from the sweet biscuits I had been offering Lara. The Plum Baby snacks are very 'grown-up' styles and flavours. I particularly enjoy munching on their Parmesan Bakes, and their new Spelt Breadsticks! As happy as I am to have them in Lara's lunchbox, I do have a couple of reservations; the pack sizes are much too big for one sitting and I'm disappointed with their use of Palm Oil as an ingredient.

FruitFruit is easy as a snack food; especially now that Lara has an ever-growing set of teeth. A piece of fresh fruit is a regular sight in Lara's lunchbox but on the days when I run out, I have emergency rations of Organix fruit purees and squeezies on hand. Lara also loves Humzingers – these fruit chews are nowhere near as good as the real thing but they make great lunchbox fillers.

Image courtesy of Humdinger Foods

Yoghurts & CheeseFruit yoghurts have sugar in them – fact. When I'm buying yoghurt for Lara, I look for ones with no added sugar but it is hard to find one with less than 12% sugar. The Plum Baby fromage frais have the lowest natural sugar content, but they are near-impossible for me to find. Our current favourites are the Little Yeo's which are VERY tangy. In terms of cheese, I normally steer clear of processed cheese products for Lara. The most junkie I'm prepared to go is Mini BabyBel (I lost one in the living room recently and still haven't found it). The cheapest, and most no-nonsense option is for me to buy a piece of 'normal' cheese and wrap a small piece for Lara each morning.

Images courtesy of Tropicana (Freud)

Until very recently I had only ever offered Lara water and milk (apart from one failed attempt at fruit tea which Lara spat out and which permanently stained a brand new outfit!). I want to be able to offer Lara something a little more exciting just once in a while.

I refuse to offer Lara the fruit squashes that myself and Mr. B drink regularly (too much scary stuff inside them – she can drink it once she can read me the ingredients and tell me what they all are). That really leaves me with few options; hot drinks don't seem to appeal to her and should only be given in small quantities anyway; watered-down fruit-juice seems like the best bet (her teeth are too young for the neat stuff) but it means that I need to decant a small amount of juice into a cup or bottle for her to take each morning in addition to of her water cup and milk cup.

I've had a look at the pre-diluted juice bottles that are targeted at children and I'm appalled. The current options look like they're healthy but they just aren't. They are either packed full of added sugar or sweetner, or packed full of preservatives (natural or not, it just seems so unnecessary). I recently tried the Tropicana K1ds juice drinks for children which will be available in August this year; If I can get over the environmental guilt of regularly using these small plastic bottles then I'm happy to give these to Lara because they are just juice and water. Nothing else. I still plan to save them for treats, and I need to make sure that she brushes her teeth afterwards, but at least I've found a lunchbox drink of which both Lara and I approve!

If you'd like to find out more about providing your toddler with a healthy, balanced diet; check out Little People's Plates, a website produced by the Infant & Toddler forum - a group of independent nutrition and development experts.

Sunday 18 July 2010

The Sunday Review - Canvas Dezign : Canvas Photo Prints

I recently told you that my holiday photos ARE my holiday souvenirs and there is nothing that I like more than choosing a few special images and getting them enlarged to display on my walls as little works of home-grown art. With an imminent house move ahead of me, I'm on the lookout for new wall coverings.

Canvas Dezign approached me to try out their printing service. I was a little dubious, not only because they approached me completely out of the blue, but because I've always thought that a canvas print might highlight the flaws in my photos, rather than enhance them.

Anyway, it turns out that Canvas Dezigns just wanted a chance to show off to the world what they can do! The print I ordered is their most popular size – a 12 inch square stretch canvas print made to order from your own photo. They produce prints of sizes – their standard prints range from 6x6 inches (just £8.99) to a MASSIVE 40x40 inches (at £119.99). They have a flat rate of postage of £9 so the bigger your print, the better value the postage.

My print was delivered by courier within 48 hours of sending them my digital image (they have a virtual ordering system on their website where you can prepare your image before ordering your print and even see what it will look like on the wall!). when the print was delivered, it was incredibly well packed to avoid any damage to the finished product. It arrived while I was at work and it took all of my willpower to stop myself from tearing it open there at my desk! As soon as I got home I tore it out of its packaging like an excited child. And here it is...

The image pleasantly surprised me. The colours are bright and vivid and there is no loss of detail at all, in fact when I look closely I can see all of the stones on the ground and each of the individual leaves on the trees. The wrinkly, dusty skin of the elephants looks amazing.

I particularly liked the fact that my canvas came with a set of wall fixings (and a spirit level to help me hang it straight!). It also came with a leaflet with some handy tips on how to keep my print looking as good as new.

So now I am won over and will be decorating my new home with all of my favourite photos! A canvas print makes a great souvenir, an ornament or a stunning gift so why not take a look at Canvas Dezign's website and see if it inspires you too.

Use the code EKOTULHOUQIE to get a 5% discount at the checkout

canvas prints

Thursday 15 July 2010

Pampers – The Dry Max Adventure Continues

You may have seen me vent about disposable nappies and my guilty conscience earlier this week. Now that I have got that off my chest, let me share with you the fascinating parts of my trip to the Pampers research and development centre in Schwalbach, Germany.

Upon arrival we were greeted by Űber-Scientist, Frank Wiesemann who has worked for Pampers for 15 years. I was slightly disappointed that Frank didn't have a long scientist's beard or a pristine white coat (although we did see him slip is lab coat on later in the day!). In his own wonderful German way, Frank gave us a brief run-through of the history of Pampers disposable nappies and the key technological milestones that have shaped their development.

Keen to show us the research and development centre where the new Pampers with Dry Max were developed, Frank took us on a tour of the building. First we visited the play room where several hundred local babies are invited to come and do what babies do best – play! The Pampers researchers patiently observe them to see the ways that babies move and how the nappies behave in real-life situations.

Next we entered the cool climate of the skin lab where important measurements are taken from the children after set periods of time to find out how much moisture is lingering on their skin with the potential to cause nappy rash.

Moving swiftly on, Frank rushed us through the top secret development lab where (seemingly) grannies in hairnets were knitting hand-made Pampers prototypes much like the Shreddies advert. We could see scissors and glue and rulers. It looked like a school project!

Next we got to experience the noise and wonder of the machines that make the nappies. At Schwalbach they have a small number of machines with which to manufacture prototype nappies. The machines filled the room and the sound filled our ears. Every few seconds a small, perfectly-shaped nappy would plop off the end of the line to be examined by the workmen for its suitability for test.

The next part of the tour took us to the 'Sensory Room'. Here the Proctor & Gamble guests and employees get to experience what it is like to be a baby. First, a giant cot with a mattress I could fall in to and a bear that dwarfed me – on the ceiling was a blurry picture of my 'mummy', barely visible to a baby's developing eyes. Next a super-size room with a coffee table at eye-height full of tempting things for me to grab. And finally, a garden full of toys and flowers for me to run and play with.

Our last stop before our environmental debrief was the development laboratory. Here, the science kicked in. Frank showed us the poly-acrolyte gel which they call the 'Super Absorber'. The new Pampers Active Fit nappies are packed full of the stuff which means that they are absorbent enough to hold over 12 hours worth of urine. It's a fine powder which transforms slowly into jellied blobs when it comes in contact with moisture.

The new Dry Max nappies differ from the old nappies in that they don't contain a cellulose core to hold the Super Absorber. The cellulose core was the bulky, fluffy bit but now that it is no longer needed (thanks to a magic cobweb of glue???), the nappies are a lot thinner and can hold a lot more moisture. The Super Absorber is fascinating stuff but I can't help thinking that the old nappies may have absorbed less and held it in worse, but that their absorbency was quicker. I've spoken to several other mummies who have found that the Dry Max nappies seem to take some time to suck the moisture up, but once they do, it stays drier for longer.

If you want to find out more about Pampers with Dry Max, visit the Pampers Village website at

My day at the Pampers R&D department was a unique opportunity to learn about the thought and effort that goes into developing a Pampers nappy – I shall never look at a disposable nappy in quite the same way ever again. The hospitality was brilliant and the R&D centre was fascinating. Thank-you!

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Household Basics - Life, My Way (The Gallery)

This week's gallery theme is "Can you see what it is yet?". Last week I told you about my image portfolio - well, trust me, there are plenty of images in there which would fit the bill. Sligtly abstract images of things I know well - it's one of my 'things'. Cars, Leaopards, Stones, Seats, Dung Beetles.

Anyway, this is the first week for which I have actually lifted out the camera and taken some brand new images rather than rummaging through my photo archives. Tara, you have inspired me. I could have taken millions of em!

Here are some household basics... can you guess what they are?

Monday 12 July 2010

Is Pampers 'Dry Max' A Green Step Forward?

As someone who only uses disposable nappies as a convenience when travelling, or when I'm out and about, I was particularly fascinated to be invited to tour the Pampers research and development facility in Schwalbach near Frankfurt. Because I only use disposable nappies about 30% of the time, I don't take them for granted. I'm very aware of their effectiveness, of their fit, of their price and of their construction. I'm fussy when it comes to disposable nappies.

If you are a user of Pampers nappies then it can't have escaped your notice that a short while ago, the Pampers Active Fit nappies changed. I was invited to Germany to find out more about the research and technology behind the new Dry Max technology. And so, with a handful of journalists from Prima Baby, Mother & Baby and Think Baby / Made for Mums, I spent a day finding out about the new Dry Max technology and the 10 years of research and development behind it.

The journos squidge a nappy full with 500ml of liquid!

I promise to share with you some of the exciting tales and photos later in the week but for the time being I wanted to talk about the issue that was most important to me on the day.

I use reusable nappies. I use disposable nappies. The two can work together.

I cook healthy, scrumptious home-made food. I buy convenience food. The two can work together.

I have been using disposables a lot recently due to our trip to the USA last month. As I passed through Heathrow airport on the way to Frankfurt for the Pampers trip, I couldn't help but wonder what people had done before the days of disposable nappies when travelling with babies. I can't think of anything I'd like to do less than lug a bag full of stinky nappies around in my hand luggage. In the days when my parents travelled the globe with me, disposable nappies were REALLY bulky, plastic-wrapped, rectangular lumps that offered little protection from leakage. But, even so, my parents still chose them over cotton nappies when they travelled. The new Pampers Dry Max technology is the biggest technological breakthrough in disposable nappies for around 10 years and it means that disposable nappies of the future will be compact and ultra-absorbent – ideal for travel.

Me examining the difference in bulk between the old and new Active Fit nappies

At the end of the day in Schwalbach, Proctor and Gamble brought out the big guns - The Environmental Expert – to tell us why the new Active Fit nappy is going to save the world. Now, as a green mummy, I'm more than aware that the environmental impact of my reusable nappies is similar to that of disposables (as they kindly pointed out to me here). That's assuming that I use evil washing detergents and evil tumble driers (sometimes I do, sometimes I don't) and that I'll never have any more kids (which, I hope, is unlikely). I'm also aware that for every reusable nappy that Lara wears, it is one less disposable, non-biodegradable nappy piling up in UK landfill. And anyway, I don't only use reusable nappies for their environmental impact; I use them because Lara's skin is always 100% free from nappy rash when she wears a cotton nappy (but she gets a rash with just one day of disposables); I use them because I find it easier (and she finds it easier) to identify a wet or dirty nappy when it happens and I use them because they smell and look nicer.

The new Dry Max technology involves more of this crazy absorbent gel

P&G were quizzed by us all about the environmental impact of the weird gel that is now the primary active element of their new nappies (The gel is also known as Super-Absorber – read more about it later this week on Mellow Mummy). To be very honest, they coped well under pressure – Pampers are not designed to be biodegradable in any way and their primary focus is performance. P&G were keen to point out that the new Active Fit nappies with Dry Max have a significantly lower environmental footprint than their predecessors; from raw materials right through to disposal. Each nappy now has about 20% less bulk which means less space being taken up in landfill. To me, it doesn't make an enormous amount of difference to which brand or style of nappy I buy, but if I am going to use a disposable nappy, then yes, I would like to know that the manufacturer was making attempts to reduce their impact on the planet.

So no, Pampers with Dry Max will NOT save the planet but at least it is a small step forward and now, having spoken to the real scientists behind Pampers disposable nappies, I know that the thought is there and that somewhere in the depths of their research centre there are small steps being made to research a greener alternative, perhaps another 15-20 years in the future.

Sunday 11 July 2010

Mellow Mummy's Baby Wipe Index

So how is this for a baby wipe review? A full index of british baby wipes as ranked by Mellow Mummy.

As much as I tell myself that baby wipes are an environmentally unsound solution to the mucky baby problem, I do use a lot of them. One day, I will try a re-usable wipe but for the time being, I'm on the lookout for the perfect baby wipe.

Since Lara was born I have tried a large number of different brands (and I'm still trying them, I have a few to add to the list over the coming weeks). I have decided to document them all (not just the ones for which I have written blog reviews) so that the world can share my thoughts on how they all rate compared to one another.

I have ranked each wipe based upon the criteria that are important to me as an environmentally conscious mum to a daughter with sensitive skin:-
  1. Effective cleaning
  2. Natural skin friendliness
  3. Environmental Impact
  4. Fragrance
Please excuse the enormous gap here - blogger insists on putting it there!

1Jackson ReeceTicks all of the boxesHard to find on the high street
2WaitroseBest supermarket biodegradableHard to get out of packet
3Clearly Herbal (standard)Smells fabExpensive and not biodegradable
4Vital BabyParaben free, great scent (& unscented ones too)Only suitable for face & hands
5Pampers SensitiveLarge surface areaStill packed full of chemicals
6Nature BabycareLarge surface area, kind to skinPricey, Lacking fragrance
7Earth Friendly Baby100% biodegradable and natural ingredientsUnattractive scent
8Huggies Natural CareLarge packs, fresh scentDisintegrate as you pull them out
9Aldi MamiaUnfragranced. Great price.Dry out quickly.
10Boots (sensitive)Often available at a GREAT priceToo wet and still harsh on skin
11Huggies Everyday WipesFresh scent, good valueFunny texture and break easily
12Tesco Baby (sensitive)Average in all ways!Packaging is not user friendly
13Mio Wipes (Bambino Mio)Biodegradable and kind to skinAwful scent and VERY expensive per wipe
14NatracareFree from harmful chemicalsSmells like public loos
15Johnsons (sensitive)Gorgeous smellFar too wet and foamy
16Wilkinsons (standard)Soft & good scentSmall and not absorbent
17Huggies Pureum...They smell chemically and disintegrate
18Pampers (standard)Often on special offerVery harsh on the skin

If you sell/make/represent a baby wipe that is not featured on this list and would like me to review it, you can contact me at jumblyMummy[@]gmail[.]com .

Friday 9 July 2010

The Blogging Meme

I was tagged a little while back by the Award-Winning 20 Something Mum in her brand new meme. The Blogging Meme. Claire invented the meme on her Blog-o-versary so it seems fitting for me to carry it on today, on my ACTUAL birthday!

To fulfil the meme, I need to tell you about my favourite blogs in the following categories and hope that their authors want to join in!

My favourite blog changes quite regularly but currently it is Mummy's Busy World written by Little M and his lovely mummy Maria who is small, bubbly and squidgable. I love the fact that the blog is written from a different point of view – it means that the content is well thought out and very different to most of the other blogs I read.

This is most definitely The Competition Grapevine. After a long break from the blogging world, my Mum, Mrs Competition Grapevine to you (or Mellow Grandma if you prefer) has come back with a vengeance. I respect her as a blogger because I know how little time she has in her crazy competition life and that she finds any time to tell the world about how to join in is a miracle in itself. I've seen her blog grow over the past couple of months into a genuinely useful resource.

As I'm sure you'll all agree, the weekly photo gallery at Sticky Fingers has really been a hit. I love seeing the varied takes on the prompt and I am in my element when searching through my photo archives for suitable pictures.

I saw this post a while back when it went viral but it helped me to discover a fascinating, topical, overseas blog :-
The 1 Year Happy Meal

The post was a year in the making and is just up my street. Baby Bites has lots of great posts about children's food in the U.S. – many of them with very strong opinions.

Tuesday 6 July 2010

The Gallery - Holidays

I love taking pictures on holiday. My camera comes with me wherever I travel. My holiday souvenirs are the photos I take. Often I take too many. From a two-week honeymoon in Africa, I came home with over 760 photos (and that was after editing them on-the-fly). After every holiday I go back through my photos and choose one, maybe two of them which I get printed as 10x8" prints and I put them into my big, black-paged portfolio. My portfolio is for me, no-one else. It contains memories of the last ten years of holidays.

Sadly, I can't share many of them here because my CDs and prints are all stacked in a storage unit ready for our imminent house move but I thought I would share with you a couple of images from my more recent travels which are stored at Photobox

These two photos were taken on honeymoon 2 years ago in Chobe National Park in Botswana. Safari is unforgettable. These pictures were both taken in the yellowing sunshine of a hot African evening. Note:- I don't have a special zoom lens on my SLR, it's just a bog standard lens. We were really that close!

These two photos were taken in Cornwall (just outside Mousehole) in February last year. It was our last holiday before the arrival of Lara on the scene. I chose them not only because they are in stark contrast to the honeymoon pictures, but also because the total lack of humans and animals in these photos will always remind me that these were the last holiday snaps I took without a child. From now on, all holiday pictures will have kids in - isn't that right?

This post was written for the photo Gallery at Sticky Fingers

Monday 5 July 2010

Travel With A 1-Year Old: Foreign Food!

I'm not a fussy eater and when I go on holiday, I am usually more than happy to sample the local fare. Thanks to our approach to weaning, Lara will eat pretty much anything we give her, and at 12 months old, she requires little assistance at meal times. On our recent trip to the USA I was extremely grateful for the baby-led weaning approach but even so, I did struggle at times to find food that was suitable for Lara to eat.

We were staying in a small town in upstate New York, not too far away from civilisation. On one occasion, myself and Mr. B. went out exploring to find food for a light lunch – a picnic of sorts. The only food shop in the town was part of a petrol station. There were aisles and aisles of food, and even a deli counter – it seemed promising at first sight. And it would have been perfect if we fancied a carb-fest. Crisps, Pastries, Crisps, Breads, Nachos and more Crisps. The deli counter turned out to sell (a) sliced ham by the kilo and (b) processed cheese by the kilo – that is all. We quickly moved on.

We managed to find a local pick-your-own farm where we bought copious quantities of raspberries, blueberries and strawberries for Lara to devour (messily). A few miles further down the road we found a supermarket where we planned to stock up on soft drinks, bread, cold meat and cheese. That was easier said than done. The choices were endless. We finally plumped for ham that was marketed as 'without added hormone' and cheese that was marketed as 'deli slices' rather than cheese. With these things we hoped to provide Lara with a healthy, filling lunch.

Eating out wasn't much easier. Most of the places we visited served grease, with chips. Fresh, home-cooked food but always served with chips. Lara ate way too many chips that week. We did find one gorgeous modern restaurant who were happy to accommodate Lara. The menu was totally different to anywhere else we had been, the atmosphere was great but almost everyone else in the establishment was eating... chips.

The most horrific food moment was in a motorway service station on the way back to the city. In the UK, even in the grimmest of service stations, I would expect to be able to find something suitable to feed a toddler – low sugar, low salt and preferably bearing some resemblance to it's raw material be it animal or vegetable. At this service station though, we had the choice of coffee & muffins, bagels & ice cream or Macdonalds. There was NOTHING we could offer Lara. It was a good job that I had a banana stashed away in the changing bag.

On our travels we took with us the Totseat and the Brother Max Travel Weaning Bowl. I couldn't have managed without them.

Sunday 4 July 2010

The Sunday Review – A'Kin Conditioner

I've been experimenting with shampoos and conditioners again. My hair needs a lot of conditioning – it is coloured and it is just at that length where it knots and tangles incredibly easily despite being generally greasy. Many are the days when I feel like I should resort to a pair of scissors rather than trying to detangle my tresses.

Having enjoyed my A'Kin facial mist last month, I was more than happy to try out one of their range of conditioners. I have been using their Jojoba and Lavender Conditioner which smells totally and utterly fabulous. Using it is like having a full-on aromatherapy head massage!

Image courtesy of

A'Kin products are all made from Australian organic, plant-based products so they are free from sulphates, parabens and pthalates – one of the other advantages to A'Kin products is that they never use mineral oils in their hair care products which is fab, given that I am allergic to them (this can often limit my choice of cosmetics).

The conditioner is described as 'light'. It is a very thin consistency and you really only need an extremely tiny amount to do the job. I found it hard to get used to how little I needed and so the first few times I used it, I overdid it a little and found my hair to be sticky and heavy. My hairdresser is always telling me how little conditioner I need so I reduced the quantities and very soon found that my hair improved in texture. Now, after I have used it, my hair feels clean and manageable.

I haven't noticed any considerable improvement in the knotted-ness and tangly-ness of my hair, but it does feel and look healthier than before. Unfortunately, that amazing smell of A'Kin Jojoba and Lavender Conditioner doesn't linger (Boo).

Friday 2 July 2010

Travel WITHOUT a 1-Year Old aka The Stress Hormone

I've blogged a lot recently about travelling with Lara; I've shared my tips on how to remain mellow, especially when travelling abroad by aeroplane. Yesterday, for the first time since Lara was born, I had occasion to fly abroad WITHOUT Lara. The luxury.

Yesterday I flew to Frankfurt to visit the Pampers R&D department in Schwalbach. It's a fascinating story that I shall tell you about in more detail at a later date. It is the first time I have ever been away and travelled back by plane all in the same day and it felt so good to be taking only hand luggage with me. No queuing at the bag-drop desks. No hanging around at the baggage reclaim. This is travel at it's fastest, right?

I was very much looking forward to a fight without the need to carry vast quantities of baby supplies with me. I felt slightly un-nerved without a changing bag and a pushchair to hinder me and, as I passed hesitantly through security I hung around expectantly, imagining that a customs official might want to ask me to taste one of the items in my bag. But no, this time I was travelling with no strings attached and no baby-gubbins to weigh me down.

Travelling out to Germany yesterday wasn't too bad but on the way home, our flight was delayed by over an hour. That may not sound like much, but on a flight than only takes just over an hour, that's double the time you expected. Exactly a week beforehand, I had been on the same end of a flight-delay. A 15 hour delay on a 7.5 hour flight from the USA with a 1-year-old in tow.

Lara crawling in at midnight after a hard night drinking and dancing in the US of A

The fascinating thing for me was that where a week ago I had been relaxed and resigned to my fate, last night I got stressed and impatient. I've decided that this demonstrates the Lara-effect. Lara calms me down. Lara makes me mellow. Ever since Lara was born, I have been transformed. The manic, control-freak, stress-meister has disappeared and the mellow, pragmatic, realist has been revealed. Last week I took it all in my stride and never once did I feel my blood pressure rise, or the red mist descend. But yesterday, in Lara's absence, I felt that naggy, stressy feeling again. I was up out of my seat, scouring the departures board for updates, ranting about airline staff and hurling abuse at fellow passengers. The old me had returned.

I'm sure that there is a scientific explanation to the mellow mood that Lara causes in me. It's probably hormones but it might just be her gorgeous smile and twinkling eyes that melt me. Mr. B. says that it's just that all other stresses pale into insignificance compared to a stroppy toddler and a poor night's interfered sleep.
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