Mellow Mummy: June 2011 : Taking life as it comes...

Wednesday 29 June 2011

My Secrets To A Great Holiday Tan

Last month I spent a week in the mellow sunshine of the Cote D'Azur and lapped up the spring sunshine (I know that's a bit depressing given the current weather conditions... but don't give up hope). I don't consider myself a sunseeker but I am definitely a sunshine person. Sunshine makes me happy (and makes my skin happy too). Half way through the trip my Mum asked me if I'd had a spray tan before the trip – err no , this is all me. I just seem to have got the hang of keeping my skin healthy while building up a nice mellow glow. I'm going to share my secrets for how I do it!

I know its a cliché but its true. If you exfoliate your skin before (and during) your holiday it will be much better prepared for the sun (so long as you moisturise along the way). I like to use a body scrub two or three times a week when I bath or shower and despite having tried one or two organic, natural alternatives I am still totally in love with the Clarins Smoothing Body Scrub with Bamboo which is by far the most effective I've tried.

Drink Lots of Water
Another cliché I'm afraid but it is one I swear by, especially on holiday. Drink loads and loads of water to keep your face and body well hydrated and if you're indulging in a little bit of the local tipple... drink MORE water to compensate.

soltan high spf sun lotion

Start With a High SPF, Then Work Down
I swear by suncream for a great tan. I love being out in the sun – it makes me mellow but I know that burning in the sun is not only bad for the skin in the short term, but can have lasting effects in the long term. A burnt skin is not a sexy look. I always start my holiday with about 24 hours of really high factor sun scream (factor 50+) and then work down. By the end of a two week holiday my body's own sun-protection has kicked in a little so I will have worked down to a lower factor (mind you, I still never go lower than factor 15). And, as the Boots advert says, it is important to choose a sun cream that also offers UVA protection as well.

Apply Regularly
Top your suncream up regularly throughout the day to keep your moisture levels high – sun lotion can be a very effective moisturiser in addition to the sun protection they offer. Regular top-ups also mean that you get the highest level of protection from the drying, ageing rays of the sun.

aloe vera moisturiser

When you're on holiday in the sun, don't let a single day go by without applying two tonnes of body lotion or moisturiser. Always end the day with a body lotion of some sort and don't hold back. You don't have to invest in an expensive aftersun lotion (although they are made to smell summery and leave you feeling cool they are often packed full of chemicals). A very simple but effective moisturiser will be fine – I'm currently in love with Eternal Skincare’s Aloe Super Hydrating Moisturiser which soothes the skin with aloe vera but is totally unscented and can be used all over the body. I like it because it is thick and feels like it is giving my skin a protective layer and unlike many aftersun creams it isn't packed full or water or parabens.

Add a little sparkle or a summery glow to a light tan with a bronzer. Don't use too much – just enough to add a little glow and really highlight your natural colour. I tend to use a mixture of a liquid facial or body bronzer (something along the lines of Estee Lauder's Daywear Sheer Tint Moisturiser which has SPF protection too) and a powdered bronzer which can add a hint of pink and a little sparkle. If people hadn't noticed your tan before, they will now.

Choose the Right Nail Varnish
You can make a light tan look several shades darker by wearing the right make up. The most effective trick is to choose the right colour of nail varnish on fingers and toes. A perfectly finished light french manicure (or a simple light pink) works really well but I currently swear by a deep Shimmering Bronze pure color nail varnish from Estee Lauder which makes me feel far more tanned than I really am.

Images courtesy of Estee Lauder (except Boots Soltan courtesy of Boots and Aloe Vera moisturiser by Eternal Skincare).

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Childrens Birthday Parties and Birthday Cakes - Bloggers Carnival

Welcome to my monthly blogging carnival! This month, in honour of Lara's 2nd birthday, we're sharing our stories about children's birthday parties and birthday cakes. Here's a selection of great posts with inspiration for party ideas and children's birthday cakes.

childrens birthday cakes

Cheryl at Welcome back to the Madhouse was made a pink birthday cake by her daughters! You can see the finished article in a post a couple of days later!

At A Matter of Choice a gorgeous young man has been celebrating his 2nd birthday with a fun party and a Mickey Mouse theme.

Susan K Mann celebrated her son's 4th birthday with a party at a soft play centre. A great idea for getting out of the house and taking some of the pressure off arranging a party.

Currently on A Major Love of Film there is a whole series of blog posts about party planning. From venue ideas to invitations. From party games to food inspiration. Its all there!

At Yummy Mummy, Flabby Tummy Laura has celebrated a 2nd birthday and a 4th birthday in the space of a week! This post sees the aftermath and a picture of some gorgeous looking cupcakes!

At Fuss Free Flavours there is a fab recipe for some 'Mad Scientist' cupcakes!

Kids Party Heaven is an entire blog on this month's carnival theme! Rather than choosing a specific post, I thought I'd just point you in the direction of the blog. Some of my favourite posts are on ideas for saving money but there are some really impressive recent posts on face painting ideas.

At Simply Fabulous there are some great pictures of a really wonderful first birthday, a brilliant cake and a very happy little girl.

And finally, here at Mellow Mummy we have been celebrating Lara's 2nd birthday. I blogged about her birthday cake (the photo above) and presents this year. Last year we had a birthday BBQ and Lara had a Makka Pakka cake; we also celebrated her first birthday with all of the other babies from our NCT group with a picnic in the park!

Monday 27 June 2011

Being Two

Dear Lara,

Being two does not give you the right to run up and down the central aisle at Sainsburys shouting “Peppaaaaaaaaaahhh Pig” repeatedly at full volume. It does not mean you can throw your toys over the stairgate at the top of the stairs and then cry. It does not mean you can post my coasters through the french window one at a time and then exclaim “oh”.

Turning two is not an obstacle. It's an opportunity. You don't need to stand in the corner and act embarrassed when you see someone you've not met before (or haven't seen for a while). You don't have to worry about no longer being the oldest person in your class at nursery – there are older children you can share with and learn from; pick their brains, you might learn some tricks!

Being two does not mean you need to shout and scream when you don't get your own way. It doesn't give you the right to fib and certainly doesn't permit you to force those tears you think are so effective.

Lara, being two means I can stop counting your age in months. It means I need to start shopping for clothes in the children's section, not the baby section. It means I have to pay slightly less to send you to nursery and it means you're no longer a baby – you're a young lady now. It's that simple.

Being two is great fun.

Sunday 26 June 2011

The Sunday Review - Unbelievabowl by Vital Baby

When I first unwrapped the Unbelievabowl from Vital Baby I thought "If this works, this is a piece of frickin' genius". A baby weaning bowl that actually sticks to the highchair or table? I mean actually... as in for more than 2 seconds.

I placed the small circular stand onto the kitchen work surface and pressed down the clip to cause it to suck the air out and fasten itself firmly to the table. Then I twisted on the small bowl (perfectly flat at the bottom to ensure a good amount of space for food, yet well rounded at the sides to help you scoop the food out, without being so tall you drop the food before it reaches the top). Then I gave it a really good yank!

I pulled with all my might and the bowl stayed right there on the surface. Right, I thought. That's bliming brilliant. Really unbelieve - a - bowl.

So I called through to Lara who had been chilling out in front of CBeebies and Mr. B who had also been enjoying a bit of Show Me, Show Me. "Watch this Daddy", I said and, with a snigger, I challenged Lara to pull the bowl from the work surface.

And, right there in front of my eyes, Lara reached up, placed her tiny little finger against the suction base of the bowl and tipped it right up and off the table! Un-fricking-believeable.

I've tried the bowl on the highchair, on the wooden table, on the kitchen work surface, on waterproof table cloths, placemats. You name it, I've tried it. On about 50% of the surfaces I get pretty much no suction at all - at least no better suction than the bog standard bowls you find at the supermarket. On the other 50% of surfaces (mainly the wipe-clean ones) it sticks really very firmly indeed but somehow my toddler has the magic touch. For Lara, the bowl never stays put for more than a couple of seconds. I don't get it. Its like some sort of secret she's unwilling to share with me.

And so, the wonder of the Vital Baby unbelievabowl has been rather dampened for me!

The Sunday Review - Comvita Pore Refining Mask

I've known for some time now that I was missing a vital piece in my regular skincare regime - an effective purifying face mask. I was hoping that I had found something to plug that gap when I came across Comvita Pore Refining face mask which is one of the new products at this month.

The mask is a really thick Kaolin and Bentonite clay-based cream which you apply for about 10-15 minutes before washing off. I've been using it once a week for a really thorough deep-down clean. The mask includes a number of ingredients which are specifically designed to reduce sebum (and the visible oiliness) on the surface of the skin and I'd say it does that really effectively.

Other ingredients such as jojoba and macadamia oil are designed to restore moisture so that, even though your skin feels clean, it doesn't feel dried out or stripped down. Comvita's big selling point is their own Manuka honey ingredient which, it is claimed, can improve skin elasticity meaning that Comvita can market themselves as an anti-ageing brand.

I've used face masks in the past that have a more dramatic after-effect (both in feeling, and in the visible appearance of my skin) but I've never come across a natural mask that can clean this well. One of the reasons why I've not settled on a face mask in the past is that they often contain mineral oils that irritate my skin - this one doesn't. Comvita is also paraben-, slufate- and phthalate-free.

Comvita Pore Refining mask costs £25 for 75ml at mypure. My gut feeling is that this is prohibitively expensive for me to consider buying it again unless I were to reduce my usage to special occasions (or emergency skin SOS). However, if you compare it to the little sachets of one-use masks that you can buy on the high street, it actually seems like better value.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

National Child Safety Week with Totseat

Regular readers may know that I am a big, big fan of the genius that is Totseat (you can read my review on Family Panel Reviews ). With the summer weather approaching (cough, cough) and the prospect of al-fresco dining with your babies and toddlers looming (please world) a Totseat washable, squashable high chair might well be top of your list of must-buys. I wholly recommend my Totseat to any new mums as the single product I could not have lived without when Lara was about 6- 18 months old.

To celebrate National Child Safety week THIS WEEK, Totseat are giving away a 48-page safety booklet with every Totseat ordered on their site this week (until the 27th June).

'Now I can crawl, I can ....' is produced by the Child Accident Prevention Trust and outlines how to avoid household accidents which are the second biggest killer of children in the UK (cancer being the first). Those children most at risk are in the pre-school 0-4 age group.

Rachel Jones, creator of the Totseat, sought guidance from the Child Accident Prevention Trust when developing the product to try and make it one of the safest fabric highchairs on the market. As a result the Totseat features a number of superior safety features including:

  • The way in which Totseat envelopes the child fully. It comes up over their chest with the straps fastening behind the chair at head height using a strong clip which allows for safe and rapid fastening and release

  • A unique, detachable cumberband which provides back support to prevent baby slipping through an open backed chair

Totseat carries the Child Accident Prevention Trust logo and, as part of a commercial arrangement, donates a percentage of the sale of every Totseat sold in the UK to CAPT.

I have a competition to win a Totseat coming soon so stay tuned!

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Birthday Presents Galore

Behold, Lara's 2nd Birthday cake! I ummed and aahed about what character cake to make her this year (it would be hard to beat last year's Makka Pakka) but in the end I decided that, given Lara's two favourite foods in the world are strawberries and chocolate, I couldn't go wrong with a strawberry gateau.

chocolate and strawberry gateau

Unless you hadn't gathered already, this past weekend was Lara's birthday. She had loads of great presents including a toy kitchen which she has spent almost every waking moment playing with!

toy kitchen

Lara is an incredibly lucky little girl; she even got sent these specially selected Birthday Gifts straight from Hotel Chocolat! A bumper bag of milk chocolate treats that are perfect for any little girl who likes ballerinas (and/or chocolate).

birthday chocolate

Lara was sent The Twinkle Toes Bag which is a yummy gift bag of different goodies all on the ballerina theme. She shared her gemstones treats with us but her little 'tiddly pot' of tiny buttons was devoured with none of our help! There is a great big Twinkle Toes ballerina made from solid chocolate which is nearly as big as her head! Lara's favourite item from the gift bag was a set of 8 mini twinkle toes ballerinas.

As well as the chocolate, Lara received a Funpod so that she can learn to cook with me in the kitchen - watch out for some fun photos and recipes coming soon

Monday 20 June 2011

Twelve Months Of Lara

Lara is two. What better way to celebrate than to look back on the last 12 months?

June 2010
first birthday cake

July 2010
looking beautiful in july

August 2010
Ice cream in Interlaken

September 2010

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010
center parcs

January 2011
munching an apple

February 2011

March 2011
grining in March

April 2011
pottery painting in April

May 2011
geraniums in france

June 2011
toddler eating potatoes

Sunday 19 June 2011

The Sunday Review – Crocs Chameleons Colour-Changing Shoes

These Crocs Chameleons are quite possibly the coolest thing Lara has ever been asked to review!

Crocs Chameleons are new this summer – they change colour in the sunshine. When exposed to UV rays the shoes change from one relatively pale colour to a different, brighter colour. Lara's bright yellow Crocs change from yellow to a deep bluey green.

The Crocs Chameleons turn heads. Lara gets loads of comments from people she meets, and when they see the magic trick take place in front of their eyes, most people are in awe! It only takes a couple of seconds for the transformation to take place.

I'm not convinced that Lara has quite grasped the wonder of her Crocs. She calls them her “yellow shoes” and every time we go outside and the colour changes, I point it out to her and she shrugs and carries on with whatever she was doing. Oh well.... I'm impressed, even if she isn't.

Crocs Chameleons are a limited edition and are available in both their traditional-shaped translucent clogs, and in their Shirley sandal. Crocs Chameleons start from a UK size 4 (teeny tiny, Lara's feet were never that small!) and go all the way up to a junior size 3. They cost from £34.95.

The Sunday Review – Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser

I don't consider myself to be brand-loyal, especially when it comes to skincare products but very occasionally a catalogue drops through my door for cosmetics where I feel the urge to buy every single product in the entire range – the Liz Earle Naturally Active catalogue is one such range. Their products have a gentle mix of science and nature and are all so beautifully presented that I can barely resist.

I have been trying out the Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser and have been wowed. I always use a face wash in the morning; its a skincare routine I've had for years and works for me. The Hot Cloth Cleanser is a kind of face wash – a thick sumptuous cream dispensed by a pump which you then wash off using the specially designed linen cloth. This cleansing wash is by far the most effective I have ever used.

Liz Earle pride themselves on the simplicity of their products; each of them features three or four headline natural ingredients that are chosen for their specific natural actions. The Cleanse & Polish cleanser features rosemary, chamomile, cocoa butter and eucalyptus oil and it is these ingredients that contribute to the distinctive earthy aroma. The scent is quite savoury for a skincare product but I love it – it reminds me of autumn mornings.

After you have rubbed a couple of pumps of the cleansing cream into your dry face you 'polish' it off with one of their pure muslin cloths that has been soaked in hot water and then wrung dry. It is such a simple thing (and to be very honest, you could use any soft mulsin cloth, there's nothing magic about the Liz Earle one) but it is so effective. The comforting steamy moistness of the hot cloth against your face is invigorating and you can feel your pores opening and saying “aaah”. The gentle scrubbing of the linen fabric feels great and afterwards... well...

...My skin, after using the Cleanse & Polish cleanser in this way, feels clean like it has never felt before. It really does feel like every molecule of dirt has been lifted from my face. I've even tried the cleanse and polish routine to remove tinted moisturiser and mascara and it was incredibly effective (mind you, I did have to put the cloth straight in the wash afterwards).

Liz Earle Naturally Active Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser comes in a 100ml (£13.25) or 200ml (£23.45) starter kit with two muslin cloths and a zip-up bag. I've just found out that they do a monthly subscription service... *drops big hints to Mr. B.*

I love it.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Bio Oil Buggython - Battersea Park 13th July

On 13th July the first ever Bio-Oil Buggython will take place in Battersea Park, London to raise money for the British Skin Foundation. On the day hundreds of mums and dads will push buggies around the gentle 2.5km course all in aid of the good cause – and what’s more they will receive a goody bag worth £15 at the end of the route!

Bio-Oil is looking for mums and dads to come down to the park on Wednesday 13th July, 2011 from 10am to 12 noon and push their buggies (and babies and toddlers) to raise money. The event is a chance for parents to lend their support to a worthy cause and maybe meet some new friends along the way - it should be a really fun day! All the money raised from the event will fund vital research into children’s skin health by the British Skin Foundation.

Taking part is easy. Find out more by visiting Registration for the event includes a £10 donation to the British Skin Foundation. Everyone who takes part will leave with a goodie bag worth over £15, including a 60ml bottle of Bio-Oil.

In the coming weeks we'll be reviewing Bio-Oil on Mellow Mummy for some of it's lesser known uses. Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday 15 June 2011

The One Where I Explain Pubic Hair To My Not Quite Two Year Old

baby bubble bath

We gave up on the baby bath when Lara was three weeks old. We were both rubbish at holding Lara in the bath precariously and it seemed to save time, water and stress for one of us to hold Lara in the bath with us, while the other one bathed her. From then on, Lara shared a bath with us right up until she was about 16 months old.

Over the past few months, a bath with Lara has become a rare thing. She doesn't need us in there with her to keep her steady any more and to be honest, there isn't room for both of us in the bath – I barely fit in the bath when I'm alone, let alone when there is a taller-than-average toddler in there with me.

This weekend we shared a bath for the first time in months and I realised how much Lara had grown up in that time. Mr. B. was busy, I needed a bath, Lara was being a minx... so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and get in with her – much to Lara's excitement.

When Lara sat down between my legs, she wiggled and giggled and then jumped up in horror. I realised she was staring straight between my legs.
“What's that mummy?”
she asked innocently.
“Hair, Lara”.
She frowned and touched her head.

Quite randomly she then said
and started trying to wipe it off with her frog-shaped flannel. Having little success she then looked up at me and asked

“No Lara, it's hair”.

Lara reached down perplexed that she didn't have hair there too. I really felt I had to explain. I pointed out that she may not have hair there now, but she will do in the future. This seemed to satisfy her; she sploshed down into the bath water and hit me hard in the belly with a floating Winnie the Pooh.

Image: Simon Howden /

Monday 13 June 2011

Potty Training The Mellow Way - An Update

A few weeks ago I hosted a potty training carnival here on Mellow Mummy. At the time, I had little of my own to share other than reviews of potties that Lara had 'tried' to use. Now our attempts at potty training have stepped up a gear so I'm sharing our progress for the Going Potty carnival at Mummy Mishaps.

As you may know, I started offering Lara a potty to sit on when she was about 13 months old. We have had a potty in the bathroom, the nursery and the living room ever since. It's there, we talk about it but we never forced the issue. Before a bath Lara would occasionally sit on it, only very rarely was this successful.

Two weeks ago I felt compelled to step it up a gear. Lara's communication has come on so much that I had vaguely been considering it for a couple of weeks and then, when one of the other children at her swimming lesson turned up one week fully toilet trained, I decided it was time. I know, as the Mellow Mummy I shouldn't feel pressured into these things but you can't help it. With summer just around the corner, the time felt right. Lots of chances (weather permitting) to play outside and not worry about accidents.

potty training

I bought a packet of stickers and a bag of giant chocolate buttons and then one weekend I plonked Lara down onto the potty at nappy-change time and tried to explain the concept of bribery!

We've done this every evening after work for a fortnight, and when we can over the weekends. After about two days we started getting successes and Lara's face would break into a great big beaming smile when she realised what she had done. An even bigger smile when she got her chocolate.

Then we started getting brave and removing the nappy for that period of time between getting home from nursery/work and going to bed. This hasn't proved to be a great success. Lara still, after a fortnight, can't really tell me when something is about to happen and so it always ends with a puddle on the living room floor. I think Lara understands now though that a wee on the carpet doesn't deserve chocolate, or a sticker on her chart.

Over the weekend she managed to use the potty on demand several times - one time even in front of her Nanny and Grandad (I don't know who was more excited, Lara or Nanny?). On Monday Lara told everyone at nursery that she didn't want to do wee wees in her nappy and even asked to sit on the toilet (something she outright refused to do at home until this point). In the evening, after a very stressful bedtime, we heard Lara running around upstairs - we went up to find her without her nappy on, searching for the potty. The very first time she had been able to successfully anticpate her need to use it. It filled me with an overwhelming sense of pride that only a potty-training parent can understand.

And so, with a matter of days before Lara's 2nd birthday, I don't think she will be out of nappies before she turns two but I think we're making good steps. I'm not in a rush, it will take as long as it takes - days, weeks or months. For us, potty training has been and will continue to be all about slowly building up a habit (and if you're Lara, its all about the chocolate).

Sunday 12 June 2011

The Sunday Review – The Land of Me (Interactive Digital Story Book)

When we were asked to try out The Land of Me digital story book, I was worried that it would be well beyond Lara's abilities or interests as a not-quite-two-year-old. While I'll admit that much of the content is more suitable for older children, I've been surprised at how engaged Lara has been with the activities when we have played together.

The Land of Me - - is a digital story book and activity centre which can be played on PC or Mac. There are x levels. The first level can be downloaded for free but after that you can currently get subsequent chapters by recommending your friends or by purchasing the chapters (see below for details).

The story centres around three cute characters who visit different parts of the Land of Me. Each level starts with a conversation where your children can interact with the characters and help them choose the next sentence in the story. The two chapters that I have found Lara to interact with most are about size and weather conditions/times of day. Lara watches the characters and then, when prompted, she gets to choose a variable in the story such as the size of the character, or the time of day when it occurred. I've really noticed Lara's understanding of 'big', 'medium' and 'small' improve having played it.

Each level features a topic that encourages learning and creativity and helps young children to stretch their imagination. The best part of the product is the graphics. Each chapter features really well illustrated magical and enchanting landscapes and creatures that capture Lara's interest every time we start the game.

On top of the core story book (which could be over and done with quite quickly with an older child) there are loads of printable activities relevant to each chapter. Many of these projects are a bit beyond Lara right now but will provide lots of entertainment in the future. Cutting and sticking pictures, things to build and make and puzzles. This adds a lot of value to the story book and because you can print them again and again, offers good value for money.

My only complaint about the Land of Me is the download time. You must first download the framework to run the story book, then after that you have to download the chapters. Each chapter is big and although it is handy to make these available for download online, I think I would prefer to buy this on DVD-ROM (which you can do from their website). Sitting waiting for the download with an impatient toddler is painful.

Ordinarily The Land of Me costs £29.95 to download the complete program (6 chapters), or you can buy the individual chapters for £6.95 each.

The Sunday Review - Burts Bees Baby Dusting Powder

Very shortly after Lara was born, I discovered a great talc-free dusting powder which I really rated but I never went back to buy more because I couldn't justify the cost. We've recently discovered Burt's Bees Baby Dusting powder which is sold at the online organic health store Lucy Rose . It is made largely of cornflour which offers high absorbency and because of this, I can't help but compare it to the Maclaren Beginnings dusting powder that I raved about before.

When Lara was in reusable nappies, we didn't often need to use powder because the nappies kept her skin quite dry but in disposables Lara's skin tends to stay very moist so these days I do still like to use a powder but I like to stay away from talcum powder due to the scare stories about it being carcinogenic. Cornflour (corn starch) is a far more natural ingredient and seems, from experience to be far more effective too.

The Burts Bees Baby Dusting Powder powder contains largely natural plant-based ingredients and it is pthalate and paraben free but it isn't 100% guilt free – there are one or two ingredients such as linalool and benzyl benzoate that can still cause skin irritation but thankfully Lara seems to be fine with these.

The bottle of Burts Bees powder is easy to use and, unlike the Maclaren powder, the lid doesn't fall off every time I use it! You just need a tiny amount of powder sprinkled on your baby's bottom to keep them dry at a nappy change. I also use it after Lara has had a bath to make sure her skin is dry, soft and sweet-smelling before putting on her pyjamas.

I really love the smell of the Burts Bees powder. It doesn't smell like anything I can directly recognise... herby, fruity and honey-ey at the same time.

The powder is incredibly good value for money at £6.99. It costs 2/3rds of the price of the Maclaren dusting powder (for a bigger bottle). As with all cornflour dusting powders it will last a very long time.

Lucy Rose stock a large number of organic and natural beauty products – not just for babies (although they do stock Green People and Beaming Baby which are two favourites of mine)! They also stock some of my favourite organic brands for Mummies such as Lovea bio and Akin.

Thursday 9 June 2011

Bondie Bird PlayWrap - A Review by Santi, Aged 3 Months

I usually reserve reviews for the weekend, but when this review of the Bondie Bird Playwrap came in, I just couldn't resist posting it. You may or may not know that Mellow Mummy is supported by a group of Mummy and Daddy reviewers who regularly contribute to my reviews either directly or indirectly... well this review is a little different. It is written by baby Santiago who is just 3 months old!

The Bondie Bird Playwrap is something altogether more ingenious than the traditional activity mat or play gym - it is a sensory play gym that you wear around your neck so that your baby can interact with the toys while sitting on your lap. Alternatively, your baby can sit with it surrounding them. The Bondie Bird Playwrap is a great idea for babies that like to be upright and would be wonderful to take on a flight or as a compact activity toy for taking away on holiday. It costs around £30 and can be bought online at John Lewis or the Handpicked Collection

I love the little cow with the mirror, there is always a baby looking at me from the other side and every now and then he smiles at me. I can grab its little green ribbons with my tiny hands and pull the Bondie Bird Playwrap towards me. It also has a little butterfly that makes a noise when I scrunch it. I still haven't got used to the bells, they keep startling me every time I pull it towards me. My two-year-old brother keeps telling me that the bells are part of a driving wheel as he places the Play Wrap in his legs to play with it. He has shown me new things like the beanie bag and its funny little black hairs, which quite puzzle me.

Tummy time with the Playwrap is fun, although not as much fun as playing with it laying on my back, but perhaps that is because I don't like being on my tummy for too long.

I also love playing peek-a-boo with my mummy and the little plastic mirror on the back side of the Bondie Bird Playwrap. Perhaps the best part so far is that new toys and even my new teether have kept appearing in the rings that come with the Playwrap.

The other day my mum placed it around her neck, but I think I am still too small to play with it there as I can't really sit down on my own yet.

(3 months old)

Sunday 5 June 2011

The Sunday Review - Splash About Swimming Costume

You may have heard me rave before about the Splash About Happy Nappy system; well, Lara has finally outgrown her largest happy nappy and at nearly 2 years old I have started to dress her for her swimming lessons in a one-piece swimsuit. Our most recent swimsuit is another one of Splash About's range of children's swimwear – a simple swimming costume with a stripey ruffle detail.

I'm very fussy when it comes to swimming costumes for myself and I think I'm developing the same fussiness for Lara. I really like the Splash About swimming costume because it is made from a good quality, light weight fabric. My two pet hates when it comes to swimwear are cheap fabrics that perish after one or two uses (the reason why Lara is now on her third swimsuit in as many months) and swimsuits made of such thick or firm fabric that they aren't comfortable to swim in and can often leave you feeling warm and heavy. Splash About seem to have got both of these things right. A flexible, light weight swimsuit that is easy to put on a wiggly child!

As with almost all of their children's swimwear, the swimming costume is made from a fabric that offers sun protection of UPF50+ so they are suitable for wearing on holiday or out in the garden to offer a little bit of protection from the sun.

I would have loved to have shown you a photo of Lara actually wearing the swimsuit - she wore it to her swimming lesson last week and it didn't cross my mind to take a picture and then this morning, when I asked her if she would try it on again for a photo she grabbed it off me, waved it about a bit then ran away with it and threw it over the stairgate. This is the terrible twos and I'm getting pretty bored of it.

Lara's swimsuit has a ruffle detail around the legs and little striped bows on each shoulder. The bows fascinate her but I think they're an unnecessary detail which looks a bit funny. You can also get the swimsuit in Splash About's iconic pink/mango colourway or with a little skirt and bows. They are available from age 1 – 6 years.

At £19.99 the Splash About swimsuit is still good value for money – the quality of Splash About's products is far greater than anything I could buy with a high street name on it so I know I'll get more than one month's use out of this swimsuit.

The Sunday Review – Weleda Wild Rose Smoothing Facial Oil Capsules

I tend to use a facial oil interchangeably with a facial serum. I discovered the effectiveness of a good facial oil a few years ago – a plant-based oil is an integral part of a Decleor facial – and would highly recommend introducing one to your regular skincare routine as they are quickly absorbed into the skin where they can get to work quickly and they really compliment your normal moisturiser. The latest facial oil I have tried is the Weleda Wild Rose Smoothing Facial Oil which comes in capsule form.

I've always liked capsules as a means of distributing expensive cosmetics – yeah, I know it's just another way that they can charge more for something that already costs the earth, but for something like a facial oil it really helps you to get to grips with how much you are meant to be using. Too little and you might not notice the effects; too much and you might be wasting money or reducing the effectiveness through over-use. The Weleda oil comes in small 0.3ml capsules designed for use once every 3 or 4 days. The capsules are firmer than some I've tried which makes them quite hard to twist open – I also suspect that they are plastic, and not biodegradable, but I'm unsure.

The Smoothing Facial Oil is made from a mix of Wild Musk Rose Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Peach Oil and Almond Oil. I was slightly disappointed with the fragrance which is definitely more 'musk' than 'rose', and given the pink packaging, I had built up my expectations of an intensely floral aroma. The blend of oils is intended to help prevent the signs of ageing and provide a deep nourishing treatment.

Musk Rose (Rosehip) Oil is supposed to offer a particular combination of fatty acids and anti-oxidants which supports regeneration of the skin so it is ideally suited to stressed or ageing skin. Rose oil is also a natural source of Retinol.

Once you've managed to open the capsule (!) you rub the oil over your clean, damp skin. 0.3 ml is enough to cover your face and neck AND leave a little left over, which I blot off with a tissue.

I would say that the results are subtle. I haven't noticed any visible increase in the suppleness of my skin but I would say that there were small signs of an improved smoothness but this could just as easily be attributed to a very relaxing week's holiday in the South of France!

A pot of 30 capsules of Weleda Wild Rose Smoothing Facial Oil costs around £16.95. Find out more on Weleda's UK Facebook page.

Thursday 2 June 2011

Call for Posts - Birthday Parties and Cakes Carnival

June is here already and that means that Lara is going to be 2. Bonkers.

To celebrate all things birthday-ish, this month's regular parenting blog carnival is going to be around the theme of children's birthday parties and birthday cakes. The carnival will be held on Tuesday 28th of June and so I will need your submissions by the end of Sunday 26th June which gives you plenty of time to either write a brand new post, or else delve through your archives to find me some juicy blog posts.

Feel free to interpret the theme as you wish - I'm open to stories about successful parties you may have hosted for your own children; perhaps a nightmarish experience you may have had; the politics of children's birthday parties; the overwhelming feeling of pride you feel when your children grow 1 year older?

I'm happy to host image-only blog posts of great parties or fabulous cakes; or recipes for children's party foods or cakes; I'm even happy to host reviews of party products or entertainers.

Leave me a comment with your link, tweet me (I'm @jumblyMummy) or drop me an email on and then come back here on the 28th to read everyone else's posts.
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