Mellow Mummy: January 2012 : Taking life as it comes...

Tuesday 31 January 2012

Cooking with Children :: Fruity Flapjack Recipe

fruity flapjacks

These fruity flapjacks make great snacks for hungry toddlers because, although they are sweet, the oats have lots of slow-release energy to keep them going. Lara and I cooked flapjacks together - it was our best joint cooking effort yet and the result was YUMMY! We chose to adapt a Mary Berry recipe to make our flapjacks with dried fruit and honey (usually I would use golden syrup). We had plenty of Manuka honey in the house which is known for its medicinal qualities and this meant that our sneaky afternoon tea was also helping to ward off colds!

400g porridge oats
200g butter or marge
200g honey
200g brown sugar (ideally demerara but if not then a 50-50 mix of dark brown sugar with caster sugar works well)
40g raisins
20g glace cherries

  1. Preheat the oven to about 180-190 degrees. Using a baking tray that has some depth to it (ours was about 20cm by 30cm by 2cm deep), line the tray with greaseproof paper and then grease the paper well.

  2. Measure out all of the ingredients and then chop the glace cherries into quarters

  3. dried fruit flapjack

  4. In a large saucepan, gently heat the butter, sugar and honey until the sugar has disolved into the melted butter gloop. You'll see I've become brave enough to let Lara join me at the hob now but I think she was a bit wary of the hot sticky mixture.

  5. flapjack with honey

  6. Take the mixture off the heat and then mix in the dried fruit and oats and stir until everything is well-covered in the liquid.

  7. Pour the mix into the lined baking tray and then flatten it well (Lara LOVED this bit and even invented a song about it), making sure to push it into the corners. Heat in the oven for about 15-17 minutes.

  8. flapjacks waiting to be cooked

  9. When the flapjacks come out they should be golden and still very soft. Before they cool, score the top of the flapjack to make it easier to break once it has cooled.

fruity flapjack recipe

Sunday 29 January 2012

Find-me-A-Gift Valentines Make Up Review

mememe make up review
This MeMeMe Costmetics Bronze Collection is part of the range of valentines gifts at this year and it currently costs just £12.99.

I tried out this palette of bronze make-up last weekend and was pretty impressed - I'd be happy to receive it as a valentine's surprise! The set comprises a bronze blusher, a chocolate brown nail varnish and a fabulous golden lip-gloss which, put together with a black mascara and a little bronze eyeshadow of my own, created a very grown-up, warm wintery look.

The nail varnish has a very thick, high-gloss consistency. I found it to be a very forgiving nail varnish, which is handy given that the applicator brush was poor and had bristles sticking out at angles. The blusher is really good though - it comes in a cute presentation box with a wide, thick brush and blends nicely on the skin.

The star of the MeMeMe Bronze Collection is the lip gloss. This isn't the first time that I've tried a MeMeMe lip gloss, I have another, bright pink one in my collection! MeMeMe lip glosses seem to last me all day without needing to be reapplied other than after meals. This gloss is a light bronze, almost golden colour and the best thing about it is that the lid of the lip gloss has three bright LEDs in the tube which illuminate when you take the lid off. I guess the idea is that it helps you reapply the gloss in the gloom of a night-club but I find the extra light really handy at any time. I also appreciate the small mirror on the outside of the tube that is 'just' about big enough for you to check that you have applied the gloss well.

The Essential One Snowsuit Review

Last month I sang the praises of The Essential One and their range of newborn clothing essentials. One of the other areas in which The Essential One specialises in is baby snowsuits.

Most of the snowsuits at cost £28 and they are all wonderful quality. Soft, snuggly and easy to get on. Until the day after Lara was born, I didn't really grasp quite how warm and snuggly a newborn baby needs to be kept - a snowsuit isn't just for use in the very frozen depths of winter!

The Essential One snowsuits are available from first size (7lbs) all the way up to 12 months old (although I should warn you that trying to get a snow suit on a 1 year old is no mean feat - they are phenomenally wiggly by then!).

The snowsuits have two full zip openings for easy access, a toasty warm hood and detachable mittens. I really really LOVE the supersoft fluffy fabric and the really soft cotton lining; in fact, what I really want is one of these for me!


Saturday 28 January 2012

Pregnancy Blog :: Week 27

Ug, what a week.

I have come to the conclusion that pregnancy has this time turned me into a miserable witch. Everyone annoys me. Yes, including Lara and Mr. B. I find myself getting fed up of people and their ridiculousness all of the time and have had to apologise several times this week for being so abrupt and offensive.

I have also got back ache for the first time in this pregnancy. I think it is a lot later in the pregnancy than last time, but even so, its a bit depressing to know that I have 13 more weeks of this to go. At least I received lots of useful tips at a gathering of chiropractor type people last weekend!

In better news, I received my maternity NHS prescription exemption certificate this week. I was really surprised that neither my midwife nor my doctor mentioned it to me - I had to ask them about it and when I did, they took about 15 minutes to find the form. If you're pregnant GO AND GET YOUR MATERNITY EXEMPTION APPLICATION FROM FROM YOUR GP! trust me, after the birth you will be grateful not to have to pay for prescriptions for 12 months. By my reckonings, this one tiny little plastic card saved me about £125 in prescription fees last time around.

Finally, I attempted a trip this week I was actually quite worried about - an afternoon in London with Lara, the buggy and a bump. It was a bit of a rushed visit which was due to end with a train journey out of Waterloo at rush hour. Actually, Lara was heavenly (compared to normal) and so it was no where near as horrific as I had imagined (thanks partly to the fact that I've learned the buggy-friendly routes through central London). We even managed the tube together for the first time. I was shattered afterwards though.

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Cooking with Children :: Spanish Omlette Recipe

A traditional spanish omlette takes a lot of care and attention to cook and requires a level of patience generally lacking in a two-year-old. This recipe is a quick alternative that adds a few non-traditional but exciting flavours to which I am trying to introduce Lara.

My recipe features green olives from spain - it may seem quite adventurous to be serving olives to a two-year-old but at this age children are so impressionable, and so eager to explore new tastes and textures that I figured it would be worth a try (it wasn't a wholly successful experiment but at least Lara tried them!). Green spanish olives are quite a mild flavour and add a different texture to the omlette.

Spanish Omlette with Chorizo and Green Olives Serves two adults and a toddler when served with salad.

5 eggs beaten with a little salt and pepper
Half a mild dried sausage (we used an english chorizo)
1 onion chopped or sliced thinly
1 small bowl full of cooked potatoes (we used left-over new potatoes) sliced or chopped
1 handful green spanish olives chopped in half
A big glug of olive oil
Fresh parsley or Basil to serve

  1. Warm the olive oil in a large (20-24cm) non-stick frying pan on a low heat.

  2. Fry the onion on a gentle heat until soft but barely coloured.

  3. Add the olives and the chopped dried sausage and fry for a minute or two until it starts to release its oils and the sausage just starts to crisp.

  4. Add the chopped or sliced new potatoes and cook for about 5 minutes until warmed through.

  5. spanish omlette with olives

  6. Turn the heat right down and add in the egg mixture and spread it evenly over the pan. Cook until the egg has fully set - this can take between 10 and 20 minutes if you have the heat low enough. If you are in a hurry you can speed this process up but you will probably find that the base begins to burn before the top is cooked and you will need to finish off the omlette under the grill.

  7. Once the omlette is cooked, turn it out onto a large plate and garnish with fresh herbs. Serve with salad or chopped bread.

spanish omlette recipe

Lara loved the texture of the omlette and enjoyed chopping all of the ingredients but seemed unimpressed by her first foray into the world of olives! Ah well, we'll just have to try again some time.

Monday 23 January 2012

Cooking With Children :: MESSY!

My entry to Appliances Online Messy Kids Cooking competition

This weekend Lara and I made homemade pizzas together. The act of topping a pizza wasn't messy in itself. But the eating... well, let's just say that it took some time to remove the tomato stains!

Sunday 22 January 2012

Tractor Ted DVD Review

tractor ted DVD
Very occasionally Lara and I disagree on things. There are times when I have to leave the room because, although Lara is mesmerised by something on TV, I simply cannot stand it! Justin's House is one of these things on which we disagree... Tractor Ted is another.

We first discovered Tractor Ted on holiday in Hereford this autumn. Lara was unwell towards the end of the trip and so we raided the stash of videos and DVDs that the farm owners had left us - Tractor Ted was an immediate hit with Lara. Since then we have been asked to review the latest DVD - Tractor Ted Mighty Maize Machine.

I'll admit that the Maize Machine in question is quite impressive... a forage harvester that efficiently munches up corn and maize at quite a phenomenal rate. I just find the commentary and the slow speed of the DVD grates on my nerves. Lara however will quite happily sit through the entire DVD in silence - something that is very rare given the attention span of a 2-year-old.

Tractor Ted is a cartoon character who introduces clips from the countryside and from real farms of daily farm life with animals and machinery. Tractor Ted was set up by farmer David Horler and by Alexandra Heard when her three children were young and asked her all the time to stop and watch the machines at work in the fields. There are now 15 DVDs covering big machines, looking after animals, the seasons and about growing food. It is educational but somehow holds a magical fascination for Lara.

There are lots of bright Tractor Ted farm-related toys on offer at where you can find out more about Ted and even join his fan club!!!

Method Laundry Review

method laundry
Searching back through the Mellow Mummy archives you'll notice that I am somewhat of a Method fan; Method products so far have made me mellow because they are quite genuinely effective and yet they attempt to reduce their impact on the environment by, wherever possible, eliminating the nasties from their products. Until now I had never tried Method laundry - my own Mum recommended it to me last month at precisely the same time as I was offered the chance to review it.

I've been quite fussy about my laundry products since Lara and her sensitive skin came into my life. I've tried a number of brands since she was born but in general I have stuck to two big names but a recommendation from your own mother can't be sniffed at!

My first observation was of the pump dispenser. Why don't more companies do this? With gel laundry detergents I'm always measuring it into cups which then dribble everywhere but with a pump there is no mess.

I also noticed that I hardly needed ANY detergent in my wash at all. the (recycled plastic) bottle told me to use 4 pumps but I found that this produced so much foam in my wash that I could barely see in to the washing machine drum so after a couple of tries I reduced this to 3 pumps. The detergent is highly concentrated with 95% active plant ingredients so not only does it have less scary chemicals to seep back into the water system but it requires less packaging that most other brands, including those that market themselves as highly concentrated.

I love the peony blossom smell but the fragrance doesn't last long on my clothes afterwards. I'm looking forward to trying out one of the Method refill pouches as it always seems a waste to throw away an empty bottle.

I haven't tried Method laundry out on any really evil stains yet but I am sure that with new-baby reusable nappies coming in a few months time I will get a chance to really put it to the test; eco-cleaner vs eco-nappy-contents!

Saturday 21 January 2012

Pregnancy Blog :: Week 26

So this is it, the final frontier. I'm into my last trimester and on the homeward straight. Actually, it still feels like an age away... I remember the last 10 weeks REALLY dragged last time (made worse by the fact that actually it ended up being the last 11 and a half weeks).

I have a series of maternity appointments lined up ahead of me - they get more frequent from here on in. First off will be my GTT (glucose tolerance test) in a little over a week where we will find out whether I'm at risk of gestational diabetes.

Mr B. and I have started to make some early preparations for the baby's arrival. Last week we lifted out all of the baby clothes and paraphenalia from the loft (thank goodness I kept most of it after this moment of indecision back in January 2010). I've also spent a few vouchers I had saved up on maternity and baby essentials in an attempt to get me into the baby-shopping mood.

This week I've fallen over twice. Nothing serious, and baby is still fine and wiggly as normal but it has just highlighted to me how much my shape and balance has changed. I'm also feeling REALLY uncomfortable when I walk and when in bed - far more so than I ever did when I was expecting Lara. I'm also suffering from cramps in my legs at night but thankfully, my DK app tells me that all of these feelings (cramp, pelvic discomfort and a loss of normal balance) are all quite normal when entering your third trimester.

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Surviving a Newborn - A Mellow Guest Post

Today's Guest Post has some extremely mellow undertones. Ella from Bells' Little One shares her tips for remaining mellow with a newborn - I shall have to try and remind myself of these tips in a few months time.

Four months ago (almost to the day in fact) my life changed forever in the most amazing way. No matter how many books I read, classes I attended, websites I browsed or veteran mummies I spoke to... when it came to it, I really still had no idea! However, we humans are adaptable creatures (well most of us!) and although you can never 'perfect' parenting, you can at least get to a stage where you start to feel comfortable and (dare I say it?) confident in your ability to look after your baby.

Those first few weeks are definitely a 'sink or swim' moment for anybody's relationship (and sanity!) Luckily myself and my husband both chose the swim option and we quickly fell into a routine of sorts when it came to attending to this demanding little person's every whim. As I breastfed for the first three months, it would have been easy for him to feel left out of things but being the amazing daddy that he is, he quickly carved out his own little niches - and to this day, Oliver's daily bedtime bath (and now feed) is always 'daddy' time.

While at times I felt that I'd really been thrown in at the deep end, I soon found it was very important for me to recognise the things that I was finding the most difficult to cope with and address them quickly before it all got out of hand. Especially with all those leftover hormones floating around, things can soon escalate and before you know it things can seem like the end of the world. One of my pet hates was the nights - I really grew to dread them - I found the constant wakings extremely tough, especially as I was breastfeeding and could never pass the responsibility on. Eventually I realised that if I stopped trying to get back to sleep in between feeds and just expected to be awake most of the night for a while, (I moved into the lounge with baby, watched TV, drank tea and dozed when I could) it suddenly didn't seem so bad. Also from doing that I noticed that a lot of the times I would normally have woken up, Oliver was in fact still asleep and just making lots of noises (he's still a noisy sleeper now). So eventually, going against any health visitors' advice, we moved him into his own room at about three weeks old (closely monitored) and we have all slept a lot better since.

So I guess the moral of that story is another good tip for survival in itself - that health visitors (and midwives, doctors, parents, in-laws and anyone else you can think of) are there to support you and advise you (when asked!), NOT to tell you that you are wrong and make you feel like a bad mother. I very quickly learned to just say "Mmmm hmmm" to most of the'helpful' advice I've been given and then carry on my own way 99% of the time anyway. It is easy to feel bulldozed and pressured as a first time mummy but just stand up, be strong and do things your way anyway! No two babies are the same and nobody knows your baby better than you (and that includes your mother-in-law, no matter what she says!)

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Liz Earle Facial at the John Lewis Retreat, Reading

john lewis beauty retreat reading
Tucked away beneath the hustle and bustle of Reading town centre is a little oasis of calm; the brand new John Lewis Beauty Retreat. The basement of John Lewis in Reading, previously home to consumer electronics, has been given the feminine touch with a nail bar for Jessica nails and a Blink eyebrow bar alongside a series of treatment rooms from my three favourite skincare brands on the planet - Decleor, Elemis and Liz Earle so that now, as well as popping into John Lewis to top up my skincare supplies I can experience these products at their best with a professional treatment.

Last week I was lucky enough to be treated to a 60 minute Liz Earle Healthy Beautiful Skin Facial in the new John Lewis Beauty Retreat in Reading. At £65 I think it is the best value facial on offer at the retreat and is one of the best facials I have ever enjoyed - a very welcome treat in these later stages of pregnancy (most facials are unsuitable for pregnant women during their first trimester).

john lewis liz earle facial treatment roomThe Healthy Beautiful Skin Facial is a prescriptive facial where your beauty consultant will adapt the products they choose to suit your skin. After a really welcome gentle cleanse and exfoliation with the Gentle Face Exfoliator, I was treated to a long, indulging facial massage with the heady scent of neroli oil. The facial massage included focussed on key areas including the neck and decolletage.

Towards the end of the facial my skin was treated with the intensive Nourishing Treatment Mask - a very light yet deeply hydrating mask. Small areas of my skin were also treated with the Deep Cleansing Mask and then, as the masks did their work, my consultant tried her very best to wrestle the stress and strain of a busy computer programmer's life from my neck and shoulders!

john lewis beauty retreat elemis treatment roomThere was a large massage element to the facial but that didn't mean I felt starved of my fair share of gorgeous natural products - the Healthy Beautiful Skin Facial is a great introduction to the entire Liz Earle Naturally Active range.

I loved my facial and am still loving its effects now. My only negative point of the whole experience was the noise - I think that the treatment room in question is being worked on in the very near future to reduce the sound of the footsteps above. Actually, I didn't find the noise too much of a disturbance but I was certainly aware of the gentle clump of thousands of busy shoppers above me. I would also say that the sounds of people talking and walking are very noticeable in the main reception area where some of the non-facial treatments take place.

john lewis beauty retreat receiptionYou can contact the Beauty Retreat for John Lewis, Reading on 0118 952 5947 for appointments and details of treatments.

Monday 16 January 2012

Cow's Milk Protein Allergy - Resources, A Survey and a Chance to Win

Ever since I first introduced Lara to infant formula at 3 months old I've suspected that she is, to some level, sensitive to the contents of cow's milk. We have experimented with removing it from her diet but Lara LOVES milk, however itchy it makes her skin, and however uncomfortable her belly is after drinking it. I've steered away from a professional diagnosis through a fear of how much it would change our lives if she were to be diagnosed as allergic (although I strongly suspect that she is not allergice) and through some hopeful thinking that if it isn't causing her too much grief then hopefully the symptoms will pass without having to take drastic measures.

Cows’ milk protein allergy is the most common childhood food allergy, affecting between 2-7% of babies under one year of age. With a wide variety of symptoms (many of which can be similar to other conditions) having a child with cows’ milk protein allergy can be very worrying for parents. Aptamil and Allergy UK have partnered to create a range of resources to help support parents and help them to understand this condition.

Allergy UK is running a survey to share the experiences of parents or carers who have a baby with cows’ milk protein allergy, or suspect their baby may have the condition. We’d love for your readers to get involved to be in with a chance to win one of 30 vouchers from Mamas & Papas for £30. The survey is available from If you have a child with cow's milk protein allergy, or suspect that you have, please go and fill in the survey to ensure your experiences and views are recorded. The survey is open until February 3rd.

An online leaflet on the common symptoms of CMPA and what to expect from your GP or healthcare professional when you seek a diagnosis is available at You can also read Aptamil’s cows’ milk-free recipe leaflet for meal ideas

Sunday 15 January 2012

Corine de Farme Disney Baby Bath Products Review

disney corine de farme baby cosmetcs

Gosh, the new baby Button is going to be a lucky little thing. We were asked to try out the range of Winnie the Pooh baby bathtime cosmetics from luxury french cosmetics company Corine de Farme. Although we have been trying these out on Lara, I think they are very special for a tiny baby so I'm going to stash them away for baby's arrival!

In the past I have known Corine de Farme better for their upmarket range of shower gels and body care products for women but these latest Disney Winnie the Pooh products are designed with baby in mind. Especially for sensitive skin and to be gentle to hair, eyes and soft baby skin.

All of the products are colour free. I really like the sensitive baby lotion as it is a very light lotion that is almost instantly absorbed but you can feel a velvety soft residue on the skin afterwards. I wouldn't use it frequently on Lara because of her skin condition (for which I prefer to use 100% natural products or a specialist emoilliant cream).

My favourite product from the range is the hair and body wash. For a baby with very short hair I don't mind using an all-in-one product and this one has a nice gentle foam on both the skin and the hair. The scent is very gentle and conjours up images of tiny babies just sniffing it!

The Disney Winnie the Pooh branding particularly caught Lara's eye and the colours are fun without being bold and garish. The pump action bottles are perfect for when having to hold a baby as you can squidge them down with just one hand cupped over the dispenser.

Corine de Farme Winnie the Pooh products can be found in Boots and some Sainsburys stores and they recently won the Mother & Baby award for Best Premium Baby Skincare Range.

Three Brand New Books for Toddlers

Every evening when I pick my daughter up from nursery she is engrossed in a book. I find it hard to meet her insatiable appetite for new books and often find myself drawn to the same old classics when we visit the library so I was really happy to be asked to review three brand new books for toddlers that were published at the start of this month.

All of the following books are suitable for children from 2 upwards.

BOOK REVIEW: Not on a School Night by Rebecca Patterson

Not on a school night book review

Not on a School Night is about a pair of boisterous brothers; after their parents switch off the lights each night they get upto all sorts of fun and adventures, much to Mum and Dad's annoyance.

On a school night the boy's fun and games are always cut short but at the weekends... well, what can I say?

Lara liked the pictures of the boys making duvet dinosaurs but I don't think she found the story very compelling (she wouldn't think of playing up on a nursery night, would she??!?!). I found the illustrations a little disappointing and there just wasn't enough magic and mystery for Lara.

Mellow Rating : 2 / 5

BOOK REVIEW: Zoe and Beans : The Magic Hoop by Chloe and Mick Inkpen

zoe and beans and the magic hoop review

This is the first of the Zoe and Beans stories that I've read with Lara and I really enjoyed it and will definitely be looking for more. Zoe and her fun doggy friend Beans discover a magic hoop; every time Beans jumps through it he turns into a different animal. Eventually Beans turns into an animal too big to get through the hoop so Zoe puts him on a diet!

The story is well written and engaging. The illustrations are lovely and have that little element of magical sparkle that gets Lara excited. Lara particularly liked it when Zoe resorted to chocolate bribery!

We have already read this book together numerous times and I can see it being one that Lara goes back to time and time again.

Mellow Rating : 5/5

BOOK REVIEW : DOGS by Emily Gravett

DOGS childrens book

DOGS is a picture board book all about... well, dogs! It is not a new book but had never previously been available as a board book. Because it is board, Lara feels confident reading it alone.

The book has beautiful pencil and watercolour illustrations and each pair of pages features two opposite dogs such as 'stripy' and 'spotty' or 'slow' and 'fast'. I love the simplicity of it and the cute twist at the end of the story (which I shan't give away here).

The book reminds me a lot of 'Happy Dog, Sad Dog' by Sam Lloyd but somehow it just can't quite compete. The illustrations, although gorgeous, are a bit too pale and detailed for a toddler to really appreciate and some of the words such as 'stroppy' and 'soppy' are not ones that a toddler would commonly use elsewhere so Lara struggles to recognise them as opposites.

Mellow Rating : 4/5

All of the above books are now available from Macmillan Children's Books.


Saturday 14 January 2012

Pregnancy Blog :: Week 25

This week I had my one (and as far as I can see) only maternity check-up with the G.P. My G.P. is always very positive (this is generally a good thing) and put me in good spirits - he seemed very critical about the Midwives' notes in my records but from past experience this doesn't enormously surprise me.

My bump was measured and was approximately 25cm which is spot on for 25 weeks. Theoretically your bump grows 1cm each week from now on but it's all a bit approximate. The doctor tried to take the baby's heart beat but it was once again so wiggly that he couldn't pintpoint the heartbeat for long enough to take a reading. This is one properly active baby. Several times this week I've felt baby kick so hard it has bumped my belly against the desk at work!

Tommy's Having a healthy pregnancy guide

This coming week Tommy's are launching their new FREE guide for pregnant or expectant women called "Having a Healthy Pregnancy". This is by far the best guide to pregnancy I have seen so far - modern and up to date it is packed full of information without being dull. I particularly like the chapters on health issues during pregnancy which are honest yet not preachy and provide ideas for realistic ways you can get on top of things. Inside the Heaving a Healthy Pregnancy guide you will find:-

  • A detailed pregnancy calendar
  • Chapters on diet, weight, exercise, smoking, mental health and drugs and alcohol
  • Antenatal care – from finding a midwife to what happens during your antenatal appointments, as well as what your notes mean
  • Preparing for birth – writing a birth plan, packing your bag for hospital and pain relief options
  • Labour and birth – what to expect

You can order your copy for free at

Thursday 12 January 2012

A Mellow Birth?

Today's guest post is written by Sian at You're not from round here. You can also find her on twitter as @HelpfulMum.

Is it possible to have a mellow birth? Can you prepare for a mellow labour and does that mean it will be?

Childbirth could be one of the most stressful events of your life. Could being the operative word. It could also be calm and, whilst probably not relaxing, certainly a chilled out experience. I have had two children and both were completely different labours. However, one thing stayed constant throughout. I remained calm. Here are my top tips for a mellow birth.

1. Ignore all the stories you hear pre-birth
2. Accept that it will hurt
3. Don't panic
4. Stay in control
5. Remain calm

When you are pregnant you will hear every labour horror story going. Even your aunt's sister's cousin will have a say. Don't listen to them. With my first pregnancy I was bombarded with scary stories (and the odd good story too). I decided to ignore them. Pregnancy and childbirth are unique. I will never experience what they have. Something similar maybe, but not the same. So ignore the stories, they will only stress you out. Also, try not to have too many expectations of how it will be. I'll admit that with my son I refused to even read the labour chapter of any pregnancy book. I just didn't want to know! Ultimately, it was going to happen whether I liked it or not and nothing could prepare me for that.

Accept that it is going to hurt. I'm sorry, but it's true. It will hurt. Maybe not a lot. Maybe loads. Either way, it will hurt. I didn't have any pain relief with either child. Not because I'm hard, or have a high pain threshold, but because, when it came to it, I opted to deal with the pain myself (mainly using deep breathing techniques).

With my son, I had a very slow and long labour. Nothing out of the ordinary. I took it all in my stride. I found that, for me, staying silent was the best option. Apparently (according to my Mum) I said 'ouch' once, right near the end. With my daughter I again stayed silent. It's very odd. I always thought I'd be someone who was screaming and shouting, but when it came to it, I couldn't emit anything!

It might be an old wives tale, but my body certainly instinctively knew what to do. When the midwife told me that my body would soon start pushing, she wasn't wrong. It is one of the most surreal experiences to have your body start doing things without you telling it. I found it very useful to override this and control the pushing myself.

It is very easy to say to someone 'just stay calm', as if it were the easiest thing in the world. Trust me, when you're having contractions, it's hard. It is, however, rewarding. Looking back, I think that staying silent was my way of staying calm. It disabled me from shouting, screaming and potentially losing control. I saw each contraction as a step closer to meeting my baby (which can surely only be a good thing).

I don't think it matters what kind of birth you are hoping for, these tips can cover them all. Expect the unexpected. I guess that just means don't have too many expectations. With my daughter, I hoped for a nice relaxing water birth. She had other ideas, and arrived when the pool was half full! She came so fast that I had to catch her between my legs!

I think you definitely can have a mellow birth. Certainly, I have had two very different, but equally mellow labours. Preparation for a mellow labour is hard. You can only second guess how things will be. Even if you have had a child before, it is not a guide as to how labour will be this time. It definitely is a case of taking it as it comes!

I wish you a mellow labour. Childbirth is amazing, that much is true. Enjoy it!

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Good Cop. Bad Cop.

Today's guest post by Jo from Slummy Single Mummy is about finding a mellow balance when you are a single parent with no-one there to check up on you.

I’ve realised, only very recently, that I am a bit of a softie. I’d always thought I was a pretty firm parent, but since my new partner has moved in, and been able to offer me a new perspective, I’ve begun to realise I am far from firm. (And not just in the thigh and bottom area).

Like just this week...

We were in Sainsbury’s, and my nine-year-old wanted to buy a magazine. This particular magazine was £4.99. (Seriously, since when is ANY magazine cost that much money??). I said no, quite reasonably I thought, and she looked sad and said please in a cute voice. I wavered, knowing she’d been collecting these magazines, but also knowing she’d just blown all her Christmas money on crappy toys, despite my suggesting she save some.

I looked over to my partner and he raised his eyebrows in a way that said ‘if you let her have that I will lose all respect for you’, so I held my ground.

She wailed a bit, and stomped off to put it back. I felt awful. “Was that the right thing to do?” I asked my partner, rather pathetically.
“Yes!” he assured me, quite loudly. “She’s just had about a million Christmas presents! If you’d have bought her that as well I’d have had to poke you with a stick.”

I think it comes partly from having been a single parent for so long. When you don’t have another adult in the house, you can’t help but want to indulge your children a little bit, if only so they’ll be somebody in the house who likes you. Respect is all well and good, but it won’t keep you company and eat sweets with you on the sofa in the evenings.

It’s a tricky balance isn’t it? How, as a single parent, do you go about being the good and the bad cop? And how do you know you’re doing it right with no one else there to keep an eye on you? When you find out, let me know...

Tuesday 10 January 2012

The To-Do List!

When I was expecting Lara, I put together a list with Mr. B. of things we wanted to make sure we did before a baby came into our lives - I blogged about the maternity list some time ago but now the time has come for me to make a new list. The days are ticking down now until the arrival of the new baby Button in April.

This time around, the list is a little different and somewhat less lengthy. There are different things I long for, different opportunities I'm frightened of losing and of course there is Lara! You'll notice that a few of the things on the list are for her.

  1. Have a top-to-toe mother-to-be spa or salon treatment.

  2. Find a babysitter and go out for a long relaxing meal (in a restaurant with comfy chairs) without having to be called home because Lara is being a monster.

  3. Teach Lara to ride her balance bike.

  4. Go for a big family swim at Coral Reef (something we haven't done for ages).

  5. Go to the cinema... not sure whether this will be with or without Lara!

  6. Eat a phenomenally hot curry with lots of onions... I learned my lesson from breastfeeding Lara that onions cause windy babies!

  7. Eat dinner at the dining table as a family as many times as possible in case we don't get another chance to sit together for some time.

  8. Take Lara to a playground more exciting than the one on our estate.

  9. Get a photo taken of the three of us together.

What would your maternity to-do list look like?

Sunday 8 January 2012

Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra Review

When I reached the end of my first trimester, I lifted out all of my old maternity and nursing bras and came to the worrying realisation that most of them no longer fit me. Bravado sent me one of their very festive poppy red Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bras to review - incredibly good timing for which I am very grateful as it is the best nursing bra I've tried to date.

The fabric of the bra is really flexible - bouncy I'd say more than soft. When I wear it, the bra seems pretty much unnoticeable through my clothes and there are two handy inserts to smooth things out if you happen to be wearing breast pads (which can often cause things to look a bit lumpy). Because it is so flexible I think the bra will cope well as my body shape changes in the last trimester of pregnancy and then after the birth.

Although I haven't yet put the nursing clips to a real test, they seem very sturdy and strong but not difficult to release. I barely notice the clips and their supports right now but if you do want to transform the bra into a non-nursing bra after you stop breast-feeding then Bravado provide a nifty conversion kit which allows you to remove the nursing clips and the supporting straps permanently.

I can understand why people would want to convert this bra after they have stopped nursing - it is easy to become attached to a piece of lingerie as comfortable as this. To top it off, its also pretty stylish while still being practical. I love this bright red colour and Bravado also occasionally do limited edition colours as well as the standard black, white and nude colours.

For a non-underwired bra I am really impressed by the level of support that the Body Silk bra provides. My only negative comment is that I found the sizing a little complicated - I'm a fan of traditional bra sizes and of UK dress sizes and it frustrates me to have to map to proprietary sizing charts.

Trilogy Vital Moisturising Cream Review

trilogy vital moisturising cream
I have a tradition that I've held since my school days that in the new year I refresh all of my cosmetics and make a new start. This year I have opened up a bottle of Trilogy Vital Moisturising Cream that I was sent to review.

The Vital Moisturising Cream is one of Trilog's flagship products and I can understand why. It is made with a heavenly scented combination of active ingredients such as Evening Primrose Oil, Rosehip Oil and Carrot Seed Oil. They don't only smell great but they also provide nourishing omega 3 and 6 oils which help to help your skin repair and replenish itself.

The moisturiser claims it is suitable for all skin types, especially dry skin. I have combination skin and I've found that it leaves my skin feeling quite heavy and greasy after use - I think it would be better suited to a drier skin type.

I love the scent and I love the pump action of the dispenser (a feature I was also impressed by on the Trilogy gentle calming fluid. the texture of the cream is really light and it is almost instantly absorbed. I really appreciate the ethical and environmental philosophy of Trilogy and I just wish that the cream suited my skin a little better.

You can follow Trilogy on facebook. Trilogy Vital Moisturising Cream costs around £24.50 for a 60g jar or 50ml pump and can be found at,, House of Fraser and John Lewis.

Saturday 7 January 2012

Pregnancy Blog :: Week 24

Today has been a very mellow day (which explains why my regular pregnancy blog post is so late... apologies!). A facial, a leisurely drive into deepest Berkshire and then a cheeky nap. Pregnancy rocks.

This week I have been back at work after the Christmas holidays. It didn't come as so much of a shock as I had anticipated and I seem to have got back into the routine quickly. Work is busy as ever but at this stage in my pregnancy I feel like I can take anything on. I multi-task as no-one has ever multi-tasked before! In fact, I feel so capable, so on-top of things that I decided to launch my third blog this week - Family Tech - hopefully I can maintain the energy that I have for it even after baby arrives.

I have started to think about furnishing the nursery. This week I managed to secure a second hand glider chair from twitter (realistically there was no way I was going to afford a new one) and I have lifted out the moses basket from the loft (OK, so Mr. B did the actual lifting... I did the thinking). I'm still on the lookout for lots of storage and a table so I have subscribed to my local freecycle group and will pounce when anything appropriate comes up. During my first pregnancy I managed to furnish the entire nursery and clothe Lara for 3 months through quality seconds from freecycle!

My bump has grown significantly again. I know this because I mis-judged it when trying to close the car boot and caught my belly. Eeek. I am also just starting to feel a little uncomfortable in bed. I've lifted out my support pillow but it seems a bit like overkill right now. My growing bump means that I really need to start looking for some genuine maternity tops rather than just wearing the baggiest and saggiest of my existing clothes.

Tuesday 3 January 2012

The Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro Challenge - how fast can you fit a car seat?

Kiddy challenged us to see how fast we could get a team of people to fit their group 2, 3 Isofix car seat, the Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro. Finding a team of willing volunteers over the festive period who were in any state to fit car seats was a challenge in itself so in the video below Mr. B. shows off his skills solo-style.

The challenge in fitting a car seat is to ensure that you do so safely and correctly. Isofix fitting help a lot with this and certainly speeds up the process compared to a seat that is fitted with a belt. Kiddy provide two bright yellow Isofix guides which are intended to make the process even easier but they don't quite fit in our shiny new car because the leather isn't pliable enough yet! Despite this, our first foray into the world of Isofix has been a great success, I'm really pleased with how much it aids the process of fitting a car seat.

The Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro has retractable Isofix connectors so can be used in cars that don't have Isofix mounting points. As a group 2,3 car seat Lara has not yet tried it out but we are using it for friends and family when they are with us. Actually, Lara is not that far off being ready for a group 2 seat even though she is only 2 and a half. Lara is as tall as many 4-year-olds I know and at 16.6kg she is certainly heavy enough to go into the Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro.

You can read my comprehensive review of the Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro on my sister site, Parentwheels. You can follow Kiddy on facebook and on twitter.

Sunday 1 January 2012

Bobux i-Walk Nubuck Desert Boot Review

bobux nubuck desert boot review

Guest reviewer Matthew (1.5 years) and his mummy Diane have been reviewing the exceptional baby and toddler shoes, specifically the i-Walk Nubuck Desert Boot, from Bobux.

Bobux shoes are a New Zealand brand whose focus on eco-friendly processes and materials makes them particularly appealing to Mellow Mummy. Bobux make soft sole first shoes, pre-walker shoes and the i-Walk range for new walkers upto 24 months such as Matthew. This is what Diane thought of the Bobux i-Walk Nubuck Desert Boot...

bobux i-Walk review

The sole is nicely flexible; Matthew had no problem walking confidently within a few paces, and then easily running and climbing within a few minutes. The boots are much lighter than you expect and are not bulky at all - Matthew tends to get a bit caught up in his old shoes sometimes when trying to climb but has not found this an issue with the Bobux boots; getting up and down and even crawling without difficulty.

The Desert boots have good ankle support; they are sturdy but well shaped and extremely soft and smooth around the ankle. We have tried on boots in the past and have been disappointed that this part of the boot is too rigid, almost cutting into the ankle.

The boots are very easy to put on, the opening expands more than enough, we have not had any struggles getting them on and the fastening strap is very secure with plenty of room for adjustment. If Matthew were a liitle older he would master putting the boots on himself quickly.

Although flexible, the sole is reasonably thick so it is up to the challenge of fairly wet weather conditions (walking through wet leaves etc.) before the nubuck is soaked through, although I must admit I would switch to trusted wellies for walks in anything more than light rain.

You can see that the boots are very well made, the stitching and finish are high quality.

bobux shoes review

I really like the way they look, fit and how Matthew walks in them so would buy Bobux shoes again. Matthew also loves them and is keen to show them off to anyone that is interested! He even enjoys playing with the little cloth bag that that the boots are delivered in and uses it to carry bricks and other toys around the house in.

The only remotely negative points are that as with any internet shoe shopping, you need to be confident that you have chosen the right size, and in some cases style to suit your childs feet. There are less expensive childrens shoes available, however they do not neccessarily offer the same quality as Bobux.

You can find Bobux on facebook and on twitter.

E45 Junior Review

As you know, my daughter suffers from mild ezcema. I haven't quite put my finger on what causes it yet but her skin was the driest and most blotchy I've ever seen it at the start of December when the weather was cold (this did co-incide with me using a free sample of a different washing liquid). I always look for bath products for Lara that are free from SLS (sodium laureth sulfate) and where possible, man-made-fragrance-free and paraben-free. This month we have been using products from the E45 Junior range.

E45 junior foaming bath milk

Our favourite product from the range is the E45 Junior Foaming Bath Milk. Because we use SLS-free products we normally sacrifice a foam bath because SLS is the ingredient that makes things foam. It is so nice to be able to offer Lara bubbles at bath time and not worry about her skin. The bath milk has to be shaken before use to mix the ingredients. The foam is really good and the bath has a milky colour to it when you use it.

E45 junior hand and body wash

Once in the bath, Lara now uses the E45 Junior Hand and Body Wash which is a clear gel with brightly coloured beads that are packed full of mineral oils to condition the skin. It is no good for me as I'm allergic to mineral oils! However, Lara seems to like it and will actively choose this body wash over her existing one. The gel doesn't leave any greasy residue (which many emolliant products do... quite understandably).

E45 junior moiturising lotion

After her bath I religiously cover Lara's skin with moisturiser. It is when I forget (or to do this that Lara's skin is at it's worst. I must say that the E45 Junior Moisturising Lotion is the product from the range with which I am least impressed which is strange because E45 would be the first brand I would think of for an adult's dry skin. I didn't find the lotion to be very effective - Lara's skin absorbed the lotion quickly and it didn't feel much less dry after use.
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