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

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Vertbaudet Autumn / Winter Review



As you probably already know, I'm a great fan of the children's clothes and furnishings at Vertbaudet. Over the coming months I'm looking forward to trying out some of their maternity clothes and in the new year, their designer baby clothes too.

Vertbaudet recently sent Lara a brand new outfit to try out - it freaked me out how grown up she looked in it.

Lara's flared skirt is currently on offer at £10.50 and the Happy Price grey short-sleeved grey cardigan is only £9. If I bought clothes for this price on the high street the quality would be dubious but with Vertbaudet I am always happy with the quality of the items I buy.

The flared skirt has a nice rounded shape to the base. It looks like quite a thick, wintery fabric but actually it is relatively light 100% cotton (which is handy because Lara hates wearing a heavy skirt). It has a zip fastening and is so easy for us to put on a wiggly toddler.

The short sleeved cardigan was a choice of mine designed with the skirt in mind. You can also buy it in pink and dark grey but the light grey seemed to go best with the skirt. I love the wide ribbed neckline and sleeves and the two big buttons at the top which let the cardi gently fall over Lara's belly. It has washed well (always a risk with a knitted item) and I think we will get a lot of use out of this item of clothing.

Both items are available in sizes from 2 to 14 years old.

I guess my only concern with this outfit is that Lara looks so smart that it feels like she should be off to school or to work when she is wearing it!

Living Nature Handcare Review

This month I have been sampling some of Living Nature's products from Mypure for hands. I've tried some of Living Nature's haircare products before and although their all-natural New Zealand approach really appeals to me, I hadn't been that impressed so this time I decided to try something totally different.



The Living Nature Purifying Handwash comes in a 250ml pump-action bottle. It is quite genuinely the nicest pump soap I have ever tried. It is incredibly gentle on my skin for a soap and smells absolutely divine with a gentle honey scent from Manuka honey.

The Living Nature handwash describes itself as 'rich' but I actually find it a bit watery. It is so runny that it spurts out of the pump spout at speed and at an unusual angle so that actually you need two hands - one to pump the bottle and one to catch the catapulting soap!

Despite this, I do really enjoy using the handwash and, as a bonus, the active plant ingredients of Living Nature products are supposedly able to promote cell renewal so my hands may even start to look younger!



To compliment my new handwash I also got hold of a bottle of Living Nature Nourishing Handcream. Once again, I found the formula to be a touch too liquid and this caused the handcream to take a long time to be absorbed into the skin.

The handcream contains manuka honey as its active nourishing ingredient but also Larch extract which I assume gives it a really nice refreshing plant-y smell and helps to provide a natural barrier for my hands against the elements. I've found the Living Nature hand cream to leave my hands feeling supple but not sticky (even though it does take a long time to absorb, it doesn't hang around on the skin).

You can buy pretty much the full range of natural hair, skin and body care products from Living Nature over at mypure.co.uk.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Pregnancy Blog :: Week 14

This week's pregnancy blog is all about boobs. If you're not into boobs then I'd stop reading now. If you are into boobs... well.. I'm not sure I want to know about it.

Boob growth during pregnancy is another one of these things that people don't warn you about.

I remember the shock, during my first pregnancy, of how quickly my boobs grew. By the end of my first trimester I had to get re-measured and had gone up from a 34B to a 38DD! Oh my. After Lara was born I think there was probably a bit more growth to accommodate breast feeding but in the months after we stopped breast-feeding things began to calm down a little. Mind you, I never managed to fit back into my old bras.

This time around I lifted all of my old maternity clothes out of the loft at about 6 weeks pregnant and found that none of my old maternity bras fitted. I'm going through the same enormous growth stage as I did last time, just that I'm starting from a different point. Who would have thought they could get even BIGGER???

This week the boob size actually started to become a problem. I'm not used to them getting in the way when I walk! Mr B. seemed excited by the new figure but as soon as he realised that I was feeling so sensitive I wouldn't even let him breathe on them, he quickly lost interest. Lara on the other hand seems to have remembered that, quite some time ago, she used to have an intimate relationship with my boobs and has re-developed a fascination for them. This week in the swimming pool she kept prodding them!

I know 'why' your breasts increase in size during pregnancy, I just don't get why your body has to make preparations quite so early on in proceedings.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

VTech Innotab - A Pre-schooler Review



Traditionally I don't post reviews on a weekday but I wanted to post this one because it is an observation about Mellow Mummy and about why I blog. I reviewed the VTech Innotab a couple of months ago after a preview I had attended. I was impressed and shared my review which has since become one of the most popular blog posts I have ever written. I've had comments and questions from real parents wanting to know whether I'd recommend it for their children. People like help making decisions if they are going to spend £80 on a gift like the Innotab and I'm glad to have been able to help them all. This is one of the reasons why I started Mellow Mummy. I like sharing my views and I enjoy helping others find out about products.

And so I now want to share my experiences having owned a VTech Innotab of my own (OK, Lara's own) for the past two months. I wanted to update the world on my real opinions of the Innotab rather than just my thoughts after a 2 hour preview.

It is worth pointing out that Lara is 2 which is a couple of years younger than VTech recommend the Innotab for. Despite this, I think Lara has a lot to get out of using the Innotab and I have been absolutely astonished at how quickly she has picked up the technology and how, every single time she uses it, I see a new skill developing in her. Counting, Drawing, Co-ordination, Control, Accuracy.

Lara's favourite applications are the 'Colour and Pop' and 'Art Studio' which are both colouring/drawing apps. I think it will be many years before Lara would show an interest in the calculator, notebook or friendship apps. It will also be some time before she can fully benefit from the educational reading assistance of the Innotab but this doesn't stop her from spending hours sitting with her innotab, listening to the stories and turning the pages.

When I registered the Innotab and downloaded the Learning Lodge software I got three free software credits. I downloaded two books and one game. Both books have an american accent, which is frustrating, and neither of them offer content anywhere near as high quality as the default book that the product came with. The game I downloaded is pretty awful too. I'm tempted to try out one of the branded cartridges to see if the content is more impressive.

Occasionally Lara tries the games - she is pretty awesome at the built-in penguin game. But generally she prefers to draw.

One of the most common questions I am asked is about the battery life of the VTech innotab tablet. Honestly, its appalling. The first set of batteries (OK, they were cheap ones) lasted about 2 hours of use. That day I went an invested in a mains adapter for the Innotab (I got a VTech branded one for less than £10 at argos). OK, being attached to the plug socket does rather negate one of the appealing qualities of the Innotab but within your own home you're never that far from a socket anyway. On a fresh set of Duracell batteries we get maybe 4 or 5 hours use at an absolute push.

The other thing I get asked about is the age range for which the Innotab is suitable. Really I think this is hard to judge but VTech recommend 4-9 years. I think more like 3-7 years; once your child is school-aged they will become far less impressed with children's tech.

One last point, I have found it easier than I expected to transfer photo and video onto the Innotab (tonight, for the first time I transferred over some M-PEG music too). As long as you are prepared to transfer video into MPEG format you can upload most photos and videos via the Learning Lodge software and the only thing that limits you is the size of the SD memory car you plug in to the Innotab.


 




Monday, 24 October 2011

ThinkingSlimmer - An Unexpected Side-Effect

When I started using the ThinkingSlimmer 'Drop 2 jeans sizes' slimpod back in July/August, I had no idea I was pregnant. I used it for 4 weeks before finding out I was expecting a baby, at which point I was recommended to stop using it because a woman's food needs during pregnancy are quite different.

I wanted to take this opportunity just to tell you about the difference it did make to me. Obviously I wasn't losing weight. In fact, in the first 5 weeks of pregnancy I put on an astonishing 5kg in weight. Eek. I would say that I also didn't notice any difference in my eating habits after using the slimpod but this could also have been down to my change in hormones and different needs. However, it did have one very big impact for which I am very grateful and which I attribute directly to the ThinkingSlimmer process. I gave up caffeine!

Ever since Christmas last year I had been planning on trying to cut down my caffeine intake because I knew I was going to try and conceive again (high caffeine intake is known to affect your ability to conceive). When I miscarried in June I told myself I really needed to get on top of my diet and my caffeine intake. Even with the miscarriage to kick me into shape I was struggling with willpower. I'd go to work in the morning and tell myself that I didn't need to have 3 cans of diet coke as well as the two morning Nespressos and I really could get through the day without an ice-cream from the endless free supply. But then come lunchtime I'd convince myself that just one coke wouldn't hurt and by mid afternoon I'd be raiding the freezer.

I've tried giving up caffeine before. Its painful. Days 1-3 are normally fine but then the withdrawl symptoms kick in. Usually a mind-numbing headache that makes the basic functions of life a struggle. By day 10 I'm normally fine. I saw a good friend go through that kind of detox quite recently and come out the other end having consumed a year's supply of paracetemol. This is why I wasn't looking forward to giving up caffeine and it wasn't my main focus when I started ThinkingSlimmer.

Within 48 hours of trying the slimpod for the first time there was a niggly thought in the back of my head telling me "why don't you try dropping the diet cokes?". The next day I went for it. Coffee and cokes didn't even cross my mind. Day two of operation no-caffeine was the same. Days 3 and 4 were the ultimate test. Still no headache. I got through the full working week unscathed.

I spent the next week waiting for the withdrawl symptoms and expecting my willpower to wane. There were none, and it didn't. During week 3 I felt so good that I decided to have a little experiment. I had a cup of coffee in the morning each day that week and expected to fall straight back into my old habits. I didn't. I now feel totally in control of my caffeine intake. I can choose to have a coffee or a coke... or I can choose not to. Sometimes I go for a decaff, sometimes I don't. It feels great to have the choice and knowing that I'm pregnant, I'm glad to have got on top of my caffeine intake.

So here I am now in late October still in control of my caffeine and ice-cream consumption even though I stopped listening to the slimpod after 4 weeks. My only trips to that fridge in recent days have been for pineapple ice lollies to fulfil my cravings for tropical fruit!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Clarks Autumn / Winter Children's Shoes Review

Clarks' Autumn and Winter range of children's shoes are now out and, every evening when I drive past our local Clarks store, and every lunchtime when I wander past, my eyes get caught by their scrumptious range of winter boots for little girls and boys.

Clarks very kindly sent Lara a voucher so that she could buy a pair of clarks kids shoes from the new autumn/winter range. Shoe shopping on a busy saturday afternoon is my idea of a nightmare; there is simply no way I could ever work in a shoe shop and remain civil during the saturday rush but the staff in our local Clarks in Wokingham were impeccable and remained calm and helpful throughout the whole experience.



I really really wanted Lara to have a pair of warm, snuggly boots. We tried these gorgeous brown roll-top boots and these funky blue suede ones. In fact, Lara tried on about 8 different pairs of boots and seemed to be in her element. However, I think we have come to the conclusion that Lara has inherited legs the same shape as her mother and will therefore never be able to fit into boots without restricting her blood supply.



This didn't deter the cheerful staff who could have brought Lara boxes of shoes to try on all day! Thankfully, the Clarks autumn/winter range offers a lot more than just boots. For girls there are a range of pumps in sparkly colours and for boys there is a wide range of leather shoes.

We chose Lara a pair of purple nubuck leather shoes from their Bugglies range. They have a cute butterfly motif and embroidery and the simple velcro fastening keeps them tight on her feet and is easy enough that she can put her own shoes on now. As a bonus (for her, not me) Lara's new shoes came with a sheet of bugglies stickers!



We consistently go back to Clarks for Lara's shoes. Not just because of the modern range (and patient staff in our local branch) but because we know their shoes have been designed specifically for tiny feet and they are shaped to help support the bones in the feet during the delicate growing stages. I have on two occasions bought shoes for Lara by mail order (something Clarks won't even let you do for such young children) and have been disappointed by the support they offer and the comfort and fit. At Clarks, I know that even if I order online, Lara's shoes will be professionally fitted to her in store.

I think that the next pair of shoes on our shopping list is going to be a pair of snuggly winter slippers for Lara.

Cambridge Baby Organic Wool Hat Review



Olga and Santi have been reviewing the absolutely scrumptious Pickapooh wool hat from online baby and children's clothes specialist, Cambridge Baby.

Cambridgebaby.co.uk specialises in clothing made from organic and natural materials. Their clothing range spans from newborn to teens (and even a few adult products in there too). There are some really outstanding pieces such as merino wool sleepsuits and some cotton and bamboo staples such as vests, tights and t-shirts. They even sell ecological detergents for you to wash your clothes in and keep them looking great.

Cambridge Baby currently have a lovely range of winter clothing with a particular focus on hats and boots to help keep your little ones warm during the colder months.

Little Santi reviewed the Pickapooh Wool hat with organic polar fleece lining which costs £19.

I must admit, I am a bit of a hat enthusiast. When Santi was sent the Pickapooh hat I was thrilled with the idea of reviewing it. I have for the most part tried all hats designs, many of which do the job they need to... the Pickapooh hat more than does its job; it is EXTREMELY warm and cosy.

The outer and inner lining are made of wool, so not only is it breathable, but its also the ideal companion for those frosty days. Because it is wool, if it does get too grubby, it must be hand-washed on a cool wash, but really it is well worth the effort.

The pickapooh organic wool hat covers the whole head and ears and has a string so you can tie it (in case you have a little one who likes to take his hat off to chew it). The hat has room for growth, however it manages to fit snuggly in the baby's head so that it doesn't end up moving around their little heads.


    

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Pregnancy Blog :: Week 13


Quite unexpectedly, I had my 12 week scan on Monday. I say unexpectedly... I was after all, 12 weeks pregnant so it didn't come as that much of a surprise but on Monday morning at 10.59am I didn't even know I had an appointment for a scan and by 2pm I was at the hospital.

The plan to have my baby at the same hospital where Lara was born because it would be easier has proved a little stressful. Last week they said they were 'still in the process' of making the appointment and this week I rang them to find out whether they had actually got around to booking me in, only to find out that (a) yes they had and (b) they had sent all my appointment details to the address where I was registered last time I had given birth. Right. It can't be that uncommon that someone moves house between their visits to a hospital, can it? Why not read the new address and GP details on the frickin' booking in form???

I grovelled to my boss and re-arranged some meetings. Thankfully we have a very understanding boss who is expecting his first child next month. When we got to the hospital, it was clear from the two people in front of me in the queue that people do move house between hospital visits.... regularly! Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Anyway, the scan went very much like my last 12 week scan. Baby was there and seemed to have all the required pieces intact but didn't want to stay still long enough to have their measurements taken for the nuchal scan test. Actually, this baby did seem REALLY wiggly and it gave me the giggles which is not ideal when someone is trying to hold an ultrasound scanner to your belly. This merited a frown and a look of disgust from the sonographer.

The sonographer told me to go and empty my bladder a little (partially emptying your bladder is easier said that done when you've been tanking up on fluids for the past few hours in preparation for a scan). She also asked me to have a snack and wait for a little while. Half an hour later we tried again and baby had obviously chilled out a bit. She took the measurements and that just left me to have my blood sample taken for the combined downs syndrome test.

I had forgotten that given the whole 'out of area' thing, I still needed to have my booking bloods taken too which meant that the midwife needed to take 5 tubes of blood from me. I am notoriously difficult to extract blood from and the first attempt didn't yield anything. She tried the other arm and, as I started to hear the blood trickle into the first tube I knew I wasn't going to make it. The blood flow slowed down at the 4th tube but I don't remember the 5th because I lost consciousness and the next thing I knew I was in a bright room with a fan blasting cool air into my face. Ah well. I may not be able to cope with giving a blood sample, but at least I know I can deal with childbirth!

Anyway, the results of the scan showed that I am indeed due in the last week of April. That there is only 1 baby (phew) and that I have a small cyst on the edge of my womb which was 'probably' caused by (not the cause of) my miscarriage earlier in the year. Currently they don't seem worried by it but they will keep monitoring it.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Little Readers - A Meme


I have found myself looking for ideas for books to buy my pre-schooler Lara for Christmas. We own a lot of books already and we borrow loads more from the local library but every so often we come across a real gem that provides many many hours of entertainment. I'm on the lookout for more of those gems.

And so I decided to start a meme so that I can find out about the books for preschoolers that you've come to love. The books that genuinely bring your family together and which make your children's eyes light up. The books that have shown to offer the best value for money and have helped to inspire your little ones to get involved with books.




For example... my absolute favourite book that we own is called "The Baby Dragon Tamer" by Jan Fearnley. The Baby Dragon Tamer tells the story of a little baby who is rudely awakened by a fierce dragon, causing the baby to cry. The dragon tries to convince the baby to give him his treasure and then the dragon freaks out at all the crying and does everything he can to stop the screaming. Eventually the two make friends and all is well with the world.

There are lots of reasons (listed below) why I love this book and why Lara loves it too but the primary reason is the amount of joy that I get from listening to my husband read it to Lara as her bedtime story. Mr. B. really gets into the story and ever since we first received the book (when Lara was about 9 months old) he has always given 100% when reading it. EVERY SINGLE TIME I hear Mr. B.'s booming voice declaring "GIVE ME YOU TREASURE" it brings an enormous smile to my face because I know, tucked up in bed, it is bringing an enormous smile to Lara's face took. Shortly after that I will hear her little giggle as the baby says "Goo Goo".

The Baby Dragon Tamer:-
  • Is a book with a real story but not so much a 'reading book' as some

  • Has brightly illustrated images that excite little eyes

  • Encourages noises and emphasis on different areas and sounds throughout the story such as "Crash", "Boom", "Woooosh".

  • Has a happy ending"


To start the meme rolling I've tagged

Cafebebe
Him, Me & Three
Young & Younger
Brink of Bedlam
Mummy Matters

If you join in the meme you can add your link to the linky below so that I (and everyone else) can come and read your book recommendations. If you would like to use the badge above you can use the code

<div align="center"><a href="http://www.mellowmummy.co.uk" target="_blank"><img style="width: 206px; height: 206px;" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mHBpnQnmchE/TpyMJrAvygI/AAAAAAAAC5U/PTHRFl61cYc/s400/IMG_3172%2B%25282%2529.jpg" border="0" alt="Mellow Mummy Little Readers"id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5664556529117809154" /></a></div>




Monday, 17 October 2011

Cooking With Children : Wholemeal Pear Breakfast Muffins



I love cooking muffins with Lara. There are lots of reasons why muffins work with toddlers; they rarely require exact measurements, you can shove all of the ingredients in a bowl at once and mix until your heart's content, and at the end of it all you have a single-serving snack suitable for a smaller appetite.

A couple of weeks ago we received a goody box from Princes packed full of tinned fruit (if you haven't entered my competition to win your own fruity breakfast hamper, do so now as it closes tomorrow). I mentioned at the time that I intended to reproduce one of my favourite breakfasts of all time, wholemeal pear muffins. So, as promised, here is my attempt. The recipe is based on a savoury wholemeal muffin recipe from a cookbook my Mum gave me (which is why the measurements are in cups). We tried to sweeten it with a little sugar and some honey but I think they are actually still quite savoury at the end of it with tiny bursts of sweet pear goodness!

INGREDIENTS (Makes 6-12 muffins depending on size)
1.5 cups of wholemeal flour (I could only find bread flour)
0.5 cups of plain white flour
1 cup porridge oats
0.5 cups brown sugar (I used demerara because its what I had in the cupboard)
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk (whole or semi-skimmed)
1 egg
1 tablespoon honey (if it is thick honey you may want to melt it a bit first)
1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tin of peeled pears (about 4 pears) chopped into pieces no bigger than 1cm cubed (we used Princes tinned pears in grape juice!)


METHOD

  1. Grease a muffin tin or (for a smaller muffin) a series of cupcake cases. I used the muffin tin, Lara insisted on cupcake cases. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

  2. Get your little helper to mix together the flour, baking powder, oats and sugar in a big bowl.

  3. Stir in the wet ingredients - milk, egg and honey

  4. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and nutmeg (beware a toddler weilding a jar of cinnamon)

  5. Finally stir in the chopped pears until the mixture is well combined.

  6. Split the mixture evenly between the muffin cases. Our mix made 6 full-sized muffins and 3 cupcake sized ones.

  7. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden all the way over. Once cooked, remove from their cases as soon as your (adult) fingers are capable of holding the hot containers. The longer you leave them in the cases, the soggier they will get (I know from experience).

  8. If you want to serve them for breakfast you can either get up early to make them or else make them the night before and warm them up in the oven for 15 minutes before serving. The muffins don't taste anywhere near as nice cold as they do warm. I think they taste best served with a sliver of real butter. Lara prefers hers plain



Sunday, 16 October 2011

Kiddy Balm Review


Kiddy Balm came in to our lives this month. Oh how I wish we'd had it since Lara was a baby. Kiddy Balm is a multi-purpose balm that can be used for blocked noses, itches, heat rash, insect bites and stings (and a whole host of other uses if you can think of them!). The great thing about it is that Kiddy Balm is the only product of its kind that can be used on babies as young as 3 months old.

When Lara was about 4 or 5 months old she suffered from a string of colds which were really hard to deal with. Then again at about 7-9 months and her blocked nose caused her a whole lot of grief. We tried every remedy I could think of but what I really wanted to use on her was my own secret ingredient, Tiger Balm. I spent a number of years in Hong Kong as a child and we learned to use Tiger Balm for all sorts of uses such as clearing a blocked nose or relieving an itch. In the UK it is quite easy to find these days but it phenomenally expensive and I certainly wouldn't recommend it for a baby - way too powerful stuff. Kiddy Balm is a very similar thing, but made with babies and children in mind.

Kiddy Balm comes in a small 8g metal pot that is easy to open from a small rim around it. It is a semi-solid balm made from all-natural ingredients and the stuff that really does the hard work is Eucalyptus oil, camphor and menthol which give it a really zingy instantly-nose-clearing scent!

I found Kiddy balm to rub on really easily and it came out of the pot simply too so that I didn't end up applying bucket loads! We've so far used it to relieve an itchy spot for Lara and then the very next evening she demanded that we rub some more on even though the spot had gone!

I'm looking forward to trying it out next time Lara has a cold (weird, she hasn't had a cold for almost 12 months!) but I also think that Kiddy Balm will be great for me and Mr. B. Kiddy Balm costs £3.95 and from experience, will last you a long time... a little goes a long way.

ASDA Play & Learn Review

Lara has been doing what she does best - reviewing toys! the ASDA play & learn range is a selection of great value toys for pre-schoolers.



The ASDA Play & Learn musical baby steering wheel costs just £3 and is suitable for younger children from around 6 months. It comes with batteries already fitted. Lara likes to sit in the back of the car and play with it - pressing the buttons for the indicators and the ignition. I'll admit, it does make a bit of a racket but she seems to love is and has become quite possessive of it!

The musical baby steering wheel is a good toy for a tiny tot because it is easy to grab and has a number of interaction points.



The other toy from the ASDA Play & Learn range that Lara has taken to is the 26 piece wooden blocks set. A very traditional set of building blocks with letters and pictures on. They are made from a very lightweight ethically sourced wood. The blocks are surprisingly small so they are actually quite good for little hands because they are not heavy or bulky. I have great fun making silly words out of the blocks.... Lara just likes to pile them up into towers or else sort them into their different colours.

At £3 as well, these building blocks are really good value as a 'staple' toy suitable for little ones across a wide age range.

You can buy ASDA's play & learn range in store or online at Asda Direct

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Lara does... Herefordshire Beacon (1109ft)

Last month Mr. B was challenged by Kiddy to climb the steepest hill he could find with a toddler on his back using the new Kiddy Adventure Pack. No stopping. No running.

Now, Mr. B is not afraid of a challenge so we sought out the steepest hill we could find... while we were on holiday in Herefordshire we decided to tackle the tallest of the Malvern hills on the Herfordshire side of the border (the Worcestershire beacon is slightly taller). At the top of the Herefordshire beacon is an Iron Age settlement called British Camp and we had heard the views were amazing. This was the ideal challenge for the Kiddy Adventure Pack.




The Kiddy Adventure Pack is a baby and child backpack carrier for babies who can sit upright unaided. It is suitable for children right up to 18kg (Lara, at 2 years is just a touch less than this). When Lara was a baby we tried a similar baby carrier as Mr. B was eager to try and carry her on his back but the one we tried (from freecycle) was simply a metal frame with a really flimsy fabric and we didn't feel safe using it. The Kiddy Adventure Pack couldn't be more different. It is a really lightweight frame with a strong, sturdy fabric and padding everywhere that you would think you would need it. The best thing about it is that Lara likes being in it but as a bonus, Mr. B thinks it looks cool too.

Our Kiddy Adventure Pack has now become one of our travel essentials. It helps us because Lara is old enough to walk with us now but she gets tired out easily and couldn't reasonably have been expected to walk up a 1109ft hill unaided. Using the Kiddy Adventure Pack gives us the freedom to be buggy-free.

You can follow Kiddy on facebook and on twitter for news about their latest products.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Pregnancy Blog : Weeks 1-12

If you read yesterday's blog post then you will know that I am now just about 12 weeks pregnant with my second child. Woop!!! I thought I'd take this chance to update all of my readers on the pregnancy so far.

After the miscarriage earlier in the summer I was really hesitant to get excited when I first missed my period. I think it says a lot that back in June I took my first pregnancy test about 2 days before I was due but that after a couple of months relaxation, this time around I didn't take the test until nearly two weeks after.

It also feels quite significant that with the failed pregnancy I felt incredible morning sickness right from day one but that this time around it didn't start until a much more reasonable 6 weeks.

Saying that, there has been very little sickness. During weeks 6 and 7 I had a really horrible metallic taste in my mouth (in fact, it was what prompted me to take the test) and the occasional judder of sickness. With Lara I used to get these judders a lot, usually during the evening. So far this time I've had very few judders and by the end of week 7 the sickness had disappeared.

I haven't really felt tired either. In fact, I was so freaked out by the lack of any symptoms that I rang my GP who told me to stay mellow!

I had to tell my boss about the pregnancy a few weeks earlier than I had hoped as I felt I needed to explain my absence in a Go Ape team-building session that I had been involved in setting up.

I saw my midwife at 9 weeks which was entirely uneventful. I've chosen to get my pregnancy and labour care at Frimley Park in Surrey, the same hospital where Lara was born. This presents me issues because it isn't in the same NHS area as my GP so all my care is officially 'out of area'. As was expected, it is proving quite troublesome getting the two parties to communicate with each other and the politics involved are ridiculous - I can't have my blood samples taken by my midwife because the Surrey hospital won't accept the Berkshire blood results. As a result of this complexity I still don't have a date for my first scan even though I am more or less 12 weeks pregnant. Joy.

And finally, I made the decision to tell the world at this point because I'm very very slowly beginning to feel the worry of miscarriage fade. I don't think that you can every really relax about pregnancy after having miscarried but I do find a little comfort in the stats which show it is less likely after 12 weeks. I think there will always remain that seed of doubt about my body's ability to carry the baby through to term and I can only hope that the worry fades (perhaps after the first scan) enough for me to enjoy the pregnancy.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

My Bio Oil Skin Story (and a BIG Mellow Mummy announcement)

There is something rather rewarding about accepting that you have got stretch marks. Its almost liberating to admit it. As part of Bio Oil's new 'Skin Stories' campaign to get people sharing and celebrating their scars, I thought I would share some exciting news with you.

When I was pregnant with Lara I swore by Bio Oil. I slathered it on for much of my second trimester when I first noticed that my boobs were doubling in size and the skin was stretching. I'll admit that I wasn't anywhere near as thorough during the final trimester when my belly really started to bulge and I guess that was because I really felt that my skin around my tummy was healthy and seemed to be coping well with the stretch.

In the couple of years following Lara's birth I've noticed that the skin on my breasts has recovered well but the skin around my belly (where it was most stretched to accommodate Lara's 8lb 12oz) is pocked and scarred. With hindsight, I should have paid more attention to this area at the time!

The stretch marks on my tummy have become all the more noticeable in the past couple of months, mainly because my tummy is beginning to bulge once again. Yes, after the little hiccup in the summer, I'm pregnant once more and approaching the end of my first trimester with the beginnings of a bump.

As my waistline has slowly started to expand, I've become really aware of the stretch marks and so this time I'm determined to combat the effects with Bio Oil. I've been using it for a month now and can see a marked improvement in the appearance of the existing stretch marks and I'm hoping that it will also have preventative effects too.

This time, I'm going to stick with it and, along with a few other skincare essentials and handy tips, I'm going to try and keep good care of my skin during pregnancy and in those vital few months afterwards.


To take part in the ‘Skin Stories’ campaign, you can contribute your skin story to the Bio Oil facebook page and for every story shared they will donate £1 to the British Skin Foundation:
  • Follow the campaign on facebook at www.facebook.com/biooiluk and find out what women like you have to say

  • Join the conversation and contribute your own skincare or body positive ideas, thoughts and recommendations to the group.

  • Get some answers by putting your questions to our team of skincare, health, beauty and wellbeing experts (details below) who will dispel myths and offer practical advice that makes a difference

  • Try something new: watch videos from our experts and celebrities, learn top make-up and skincare techniques

  • Become a campaign ambassador: talk about the campaign on your own facebook wall and maybe offer a link to our page; tweet any positive news or views you learn, and use the campaign to help you talk about the subject with family and friends.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Halloween Baking : Recipe and Competition

halloween baking bat biscuits

This weekend Lara and I filled the house with the warm, autumny smell of homemade biscuits. We created some halloween treats using the Bat Cookie kit from Dr. Oetker in practice for our planned halloween extravaganza (I'm determined that we are going to make all of our halloween treats this year rather than buy in packets of fun-size).

halloween baking dr oetker

The kit was really easy to use. We added just 85g of butter to the ready-mixed flour/sugar combo and stirred it into a soft dough.

halloween baking rolling

Then we rolled it out until it was thin enough for us to make about 6 biscuits.

Then Lara set about cutting the cookies using the bat-shaped cookie cutter supplied with the mix. We also cut a few of our own using a pumpkin-shaped cutter and a ghost-shaped cutter.

halloween baking cutting

The cookies baked for just 10 minutes before cooling enough for us to ice.

halloween baking cookies

Lara squeezed the supplied black writing icing to make faces and squiggles. I mixed up some icing sugar with water and then turned half of it orange using food colouring. These made some great biscuits and I think we are now well prepared for halloween.

halloween baking dr oetker hamper

You could win a hamper of Dr. Oetker baking goodies to make your own Halloween treats. All you need to do is fill in your details in the form below by the 23rd October. If you are looking for more competitions to enter then check out the Dr. Oetker baking facebook page where there are frequent promotions. Currently they are running a competition to win tickets to the 'Cake International' show at the NEC.




THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSES AND WAS WON BY Laura Wharam FROM STAMFORD.

TERMS & CONDITIONS:



  1. The competition is open to UK residents only.


  2. Only one entry per person. Multiple, automated or bulk entries will result in immediate disqualification


  3. Entries will only be deemed valid if a valid email address and postal address is provided when entering


  4. The winner will be selected at random from all valid submissions received by 18.59pm on 23rd October


  5. The judges decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into


  6. Winners will be emailed on the evening of the 18th and the prize will be dispatched to the address used to enter.


  7. The winner's name will be published on this site

Sunday, 9 October 2011

HippyChick All Weather Clothing Review



I will never ceased to be amazed by how relevant the products that Hippychick sell are to our life; I think this is the first time that we've used one of their own-brand products and I haven't been disappointed.

Hippychick have quite an extensive range of all weather clothing on offer from waterproof jackets to all-in-one suits. We tried a pair of waterproof dungarees which Lara now refers to as her 'gardening trousers'.

These are a set of really light-weight waterproof dungarees that Lara can wear over the top of her normal clothes to keep them dry, clean and warm. They are made with Teflon so they are really hard-wearing and are windproof to help with the warmth but ensuring that the fabric is still breathable so she doesn't get all hot and sweaty.

At the base of each leg is an adjustable strap so that you can tighten it around the ankles to prevent water or cold getting in. We also found it really easy to adjust the straps around the chest to get the right fit for Lara. Matched with a waterproof jacket, Lara is going to be well equipped for whatever autumn will throw at her!

I'm really pleased with how practical the Hippychick waterproof dungarees are; I've already had to wipe them clean of garden mud and this was dead easy... but if I really needed to I could wash them on a low temperature. They cost £23 and are available in blue or plum in sizes from 12 months to 5 years.

Garden Games Review

Last weekend, with the unseasonal sunny weather, we got out in the garden and played a few family games in the sunshine. We had been sent a set of Quoits to review from GardenGames.co.uk

Garden Games 2

If you've never played Quoits before then let me explain - its pretty simple, which is why it makes for a great game for Lara. You each stand a fixed distance away from the wooden cross and throw your rope rings in an attempt to hook them over the different posts attached to the cross. Each post is worth a different point value and the aim is to get as many points as possible.

Garden Games 1

Lara and I spent many a happy hour on Sunday hurling rope rings across the garden! Actually, I think Lara enjoyed going to fetch them and re-arrange them all more than she enjoyed the competitive edge.

I found the Garden Games quoits set really easy to assemble, apart from the centre peg which just wouldn't go in - I had to balance it in place. Quoits costs £15.99 from Garden Games where there are LOADs of other garden games on offer such as giant snakes and ladders and connect 4! For us, Quoits is perfect because some of the other outdoor games we own require a bit too much concentration and discipline for a toddler but this one is a game which brings every player to the same level, regardless of age.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Working Mums Now & Then

I shall admit that this post is just an excuse for me to upload some lovely pictures of Lara, me and Mellow Grandma!

Recently we all appeared in an edition of Yours magazine in an article comparing women's approaches to motherhood between generations. I was really pleasantly surprised at the article which talked about mothers and daughters who had each taken a different approach to working motherhood and it prompted some interesting discussion on the Yours forums.

I am a working mum. I love doing what I do. My mum largely didn't work. Both approaches were right for us. I don't feel any guilt for working away from Lara for much of the day, but I also don't think Mum made a wrong decision. People should do what works for them financially, socially and culturally.

Anyway, I shall leave you with the photos from the article which I have reproduced here with kind permission from Bauer Media.








Monday, 3 October 2011

Pass on the Love with Persil

Earlier this summer, Jo Whiley launched the Persil 'Pass on the Love' picnics and we were given the chance to host our own Teddy Bear's Picnic too.



Lara held her own Pass on the Love picnic in our spare room on a rainy evening. It was a chance for us to sort through all of her teddies and soft toys (and through my own rather massive collection too) and see if we could find any toys who were feeling a bit unloved and in need of a new home.



Our searching identified one rabbit, a parrot, a chimpanzee and a hippo who Lara had shown no interest in for quite some time. The Persil Pass on the Love picnic is intended as an opportunity for you to pass on these cuddly toys, and any other bits and bobs you no longer need to the other attendees at your picnic or on to Oxfam. I washed the cuddly toys in my brand new bottle of Persil 2-in-1 with Comfort and then dropped our offerings off at the Oxfam near our work (remembering to tag them with my own Gift Aid tag so that Oxfam can claim back the tax on the items of mine that they sell).




And the fact that the summer is nearly over and it was chucking it down with rain didn't ruin our picnic. In fact, you can have a picnic any day of the year. Lara's own birthday party this year was intended to be an outdoor picnic but we held it in the living room instead. In fact, one of Lara's Aunties gets all the more excited about living room picnics because they remind her of childhood!

So, a great big thank you from Lara and our teddies to Persil 2in1 for helping us to Pass on the Love.



Sunday, 2 October 2011

Angels Children's Fancy Dress Costume Review

kids fancy dress costumes
Meet Nurse Lara!


We were sent a Fancy Dress Costume for Lara by Angels fancy dress and, given that Lara has received a medical kit for her birthday this summer, a nurse's outfit seemed really fitting!

Lara has just started dressing up in different outfits at nursery so she immediately understood what she was meant to do with her new outfit. She had a great time on this occasion being Nurse Lara and I know that next time we get invited to a fancy dress party, Nurse Lara will definitely be in attendance!

Lara's kids nurses costume comprises the dress, head-band and medical bag. You can buy it in ages 3-8 years and it costs £15.99 to buy online (delivery is free to the UK).

The fabric is really lightweight and so the dress goes on easily over other outfits. The dress fastens with velcro so when Lara loses interest, we can take it off quickly. I like the fact that the headpiece is elasticated as it means it will stay on however wiggly my toddler is.

kids fancy dress costumes

The outfit needed a good iron once we took it out of the packet so I recommend buying with plenty of time if you are planning to wear this for a party. I also needed to trim quite a few loose threads from the dress.

My favourite feature of the children's nurses dress is the little watch (it is fabric) that dangles from the chest - a very authentic touch!

Two Great IPod Apps for Toddlers

Lara loves her apps. All two year olds do, don't they??? I'm always on the lookout for more fun ipod apps that will entertain Lara with at least some semblence of educational content and this month we have been pointed in the direction of a couple of goodies...

My First JCB App



My First JCB App is available for IPad, IPhone and IPod Touch for £1.49. All of the games are suitable from an age as young as 2.

The format is very similar (very!) to the Humf app that Lara already has, but children probably don't notice that!!! Lara's favourite games are:-

  • Painting (colouring in)
  • Racing
  • Memory (matching pairs)
  • Jigsaws


I think the bright colours and smiley faces make this a great pre-school app and Lara would agree. Every morning I get woken up by Lara asking "want to play diggers". My only negative comment on the entire app would be that some of the games require you to differentiate between the JCB characters and unless you know them well, the differences can be as subtle as a slightly different coloured windscreen which Lara found tricky.



Postman Pat SDS


Postman Pat SDS is also available for IPad, IPhone and IPod touch although from experience I think it would probably work best on the bigger screen of the IPad.

There are 9 different games and they all have brilliant graphics. My feeling is that each of the games is suitable for children of a bout 4 upwards. They all require a little too much co-ordination and concentration for Lara right now. I also found that on the Ipod touch screen that the games were hard even for me to play because of the size of the images and text and the levels of accuracy needed with your fingertips.



Lara's favourite game is the 'Pencaster trains' where you have to change the signals to make the train go to the correct destination. It is short and easy to repeat.

The voices, music and sound quality throughout all of the games is really good.
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