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

Monday 30 July 2012

Road Trip days 5,6 & 7 - Zamek Ksiaz, Poland

Our road trip peaked this weekend with 3 days in Poland for a for a family wedding.  I'll try and get some better pictures of Lara in her bridesmaid getup to share with you in the future.  Don't forget to follow our Road Trip ups and downs over on ParentWheels.

Holly in her party dress with her Auntie

Zamek Ksiaz where the wedding took place behind those great big windows

the castle grounds

Quite some volume of this was consumed

Lara partied hard and had soooooo much fun with her cousins

Someone wasn't taking the ceremony seriously!

Our hotel room in a quirky outbuilding of the castle

too much Polish vodka?

Sunday 29 July 2012

gNappies Review - Reusable AND Disposable Nappies

As regular readers will know I am a cloth nappy lover but I also use disposable nappies when it is more convenient for me. I'm a wimp when it comes to using cloth nappies out of the house as I don't like having to bring home the fall-out! gNappies are an innovative eco-nappy which claimed to have a solution to my problem - a reusable / disposable hybrid nappy that I could use whichever way I wanted. So, did gNappies save the day for me?

gNappies little gPants in Plum
Holly wears gNappies
gNappies are a three-part nappy. The little gPants are soft fabric outer pants that are very lightweight and thin; they aren't clamy or bluky at all. On the inside there is a breathable but waterproof pouch that you snap into place. Inside the pouch you place the rectangular absorbent nappy. You have a choice of two different types of nappy - a 100% biodegradable disposable nappy or a reusable cloth nappy that you can wash and use again.

I tried out the gNappy little gPants with Holly - we were sent a set of disposable inserts to see if I could be converted to using eco nappies when out of the house. My first impressions were good: I love the little pants because they aren't bulky. Bulky reusable nappies tend to mean that my girls are/were in clothes a couple of sizes bigger than their age to accommodate the big bottoms!

To some people gNappies may seem like more work than some of the all-in-one nappies available but I know from my Bambino Mio experiences that the effort is usually worth it in terms of effectiveness. You do need to buy different sizes of covers as your baby grows but once again, I've found from experience that this leads to an easier-to-fit and bitter-fitting nappy.

multi-coloured gNappies
Image courtesy of gNappies
I found the waterproof pouch to be really effective at preventing leakage onto the soft fabric cover, even of poo. The idea is that if the cover doesn't need washing, save the energy but if I'm going to the effort of washing the pouches, a few small covers isn't likely to make much of a difference. I also found the pouches quite fiddly to snap in and out so decided just to leave them snapped into place all the time. The biodegradable inserts were really impressive; very absorbent!

I'll admit that I wasn't entirely sure which way round the little gPants were supposed to be worn. Most of the pictures on the site look like they are the other way around to the way I put them on Holly! Holly seemed very comfortable in the gPants.

The biodegradable inserts for the gNappies works out at about twice as expensive as traditional disposable nappies but if you use the cloth inserts at home them the costs would drop significantly.

I will admit that I have not been converted to using gNappies when out of the house. I thought they were brilliant for wet nappies but for dirty nappies the waterproof pouch got dirty and so I still needed to carry the mess home with me!

gNappies tiny pants for newborn
Image courtesy of gNappies

gNappies little pants come in some very cute designs (gBloom is definitely my favourite) and earlier this year they even did a limited edition pair of gBpants to celebrate all things British !

Milton Mini Portable Steriliser Review

I had been expecting to need some form of sterlisation utility to take with us on our Family Road trip across Europe so the Milton Mini portable soother steriliser seemed ideal because it would barely take up any space in our boot.

The Milton Mini is a small ball about 8cm across into which you can place a dummy when you need to sterilise it. The steriliser uses a combination of cold water and a single tiny Milton mini sterilisation tablet.

The Milton Mini has a little fabric handle which allows it to dangle off the handles of a buggy or to attach to your changing bag. I was worried about sloshing water inside the ball but in fact the sphere contains two sponges which absorb the solution and distribute it across the soother.

Sterilisation takes about 15 minutes. As a newbie to cold-water sterilisation I'm not sure whether this is fast or slow! When I'm out and about I think I'd want a quicker turnaround for a soother that needs to be used for an angry baby but then 15 minutes isn't that long in the grand scheme of things and afterwards the dummy is ready for use straight away.

I found the Milton Mini very easy to use, to assemble and maintain. I can imagine it would come in very useful given my previous experience of lost dummies at the bottom of a gungey changing bag. As it is, Holly won't take a soother (despite may attempts when all she needs is to suck on something to send her off to sleep) and so the Mini Milton didn't come with us to Poland but you never know, she may change her mind!

Thursday 26 July 2012

Road Trip days 3 & 4 - Celle, Germany

Days 3 and 4 of our road trip were spent in Celle in northern Germany, the town where I lived when I was a baby.  This is the first time I have been back in 33 years.

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Family Road Trip Days 1 & 2 - Wokingham to Eindhoven

I am sharing the full road trip over on ParentWheels but I thought I would post our journey in pictures here on Mellow Mummy!

Everything a family could ever need

Ashford Premier Inn
Waiting for the car ferry

"I don't want to get back in the car"

Those good ole White Cliffs (made of sugar, Lara tells me)

Enjoying the fresh air out on deck

En route to Eindhoven

Monday 23 July 2012

Follow us on our Summer Road Trip!

A few weeks ago, when Boots challenged me to "say yes to summer", the weather was grey and miserable and I wasn't sure I was ever going to be in the mood for long summer days in the sun but today is a happy day; today we are going on holiday and most definitely saying YES to the summer.  I really hope you will join me and the mellow family over the next 10 days as we share photos and stories from our summer road trip.

Lara saying "yes" to summer !

For those of you who don't already know, Lara, Holly, myself and Mr. B. this evening will be embarking on an epic family summer holiday.  We are driving across France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany to Poland and back over a period of 10 days.  The weather is set to be fine for the next week or so and I'm hoping we will get to see Europe at its best and will have some time to get out and enjoy the sunshine.  Lara can't wait.  Holly has no idea what is about to happen and me... well, I'm really looking forward to it but the excitement is tempered somewhat with a little trepidation.  What have we let ourselves in for?

Tonight we are staying in Ashford near Dover so that we don't have to rush for our channel ferry in the morning.  We are taking a leisurely ferry crossing to Dunkirk and then heading off through northern France and Belgium into the Netherlands (a first for me and the girls) to Eindhoven.  As the week progresses we have plans to visit Celle in northern Germany, the town where I was born. We are spending a long weekend relaxing and attending a family wedding in a fairy tale castle in Walbryzch, Poland before heading back next week via Bavaria and Bonn.

umm... which one shall I take?

There is no doubt that a 2,000 mile round trip over 10 days with an impatient 3 year old and a hungry 3 month old is going to be a challenge.  This is exactly why I'm planning on sharing our travels on the blog and on ParentWheels - to demystify some of the challenges of travelling with kids.  I'll be blogging as often as I can (mobile roaming wifi permitting!) and sharing our tales on twitter as @jumblyMummy and @parentWheels.  Not only will we be pushing our own sanity to the limits with between 4 and 8 hours a day in the car but we will also be putting the brand new Toyota Prius+ 7-seater hybrid car to the ultimate family test.  The Prius+ launches later this month in the UK and we have been asked to put it through its paces on our epic trip across the continent.  Stay tuned to Parentwheels to find out whether it can cope with the demands we place on it!

The biggest demand on the car so far is luggage space.  Have you any idea how much stuff you need to take on holiday for hotel stays with two girls this age???  On the list so far
  • Two million changes of outfit for Holly
  • Two million changes of outfit for Lara
  • Two million nappies, 6 million baby wipes
  • As few changes of clothes as we can get away with for me and Mr. B
  • Long-lasting suncream, sunhats, umbrellas, raincoats
  • Travel first aid kit
  • Travel steriliser and bottle (in case of over-indulgence on my part at the wedding)
  • Travel cot, inflatable toddler bed, lightweight buggy
  • Wedding outfits for us all
  • Camera to capture all of our family holiday moments
  • Road atlas and phrase books (my polish needs a bit of polishing!)
  • Travel money

Boots and St. Johns Ambulance Travel First Aid Kit
To top it off, several of the countries we are visiting have surprising laws about what it is you have to take with you in your car when travelling - I blogged about European Driving Law this week on ParentWheels.  And so to top it all off we have our breakdown kit, breathalyser (?!) and our trusty Boots travel first aid kit which I have supplemented with a few natural first aid products of my own.

So, are you and your family ready for the summer holidays?  Will you be saying "yes" to summer? Have you got a trip you are planning that is more bonkers than ours?  I'd love to hear about your summer plans in the comments below.

Sunday 22 July 2012

Raa Raa the Noisy Lion - Huffty's Interactive Train Review

Lara and I were asked (in our capacity as play experts!) to review one of the new toys from the hit TV series, Raa Raa the Noisy Lion.

Raa Raa The Lion - Huffty's Interactive Train is suitable for children of about 12 months upwards so I was worried that it wouldn't capture Lara's imagination that well but as you can see from the video below, Lara still enjoys playing with trains a lot.

I'll admit that we don't often watch Raa Raa the Noisy Lion because I am not usually around at the hours it is on CBeebies but we have watched it once or twice with Lara's Grandma and on iPlayer so Lara recognises all of the characters and was really excited to see the train when we first received it.

Raa Raa The Noisy Lion - hufty's interactive train

The interactive train comes with one character - Huffty the elephant - and three carriages. Each carriage can take one of the range of Raa Raa characters so the toy is designed to tempt you into buying another toy or set of characters which, like a good mum (aka mug) I did! I bought a set of three additional characters to go into the train and Lara swaps them all around.

Huffty's train is "interactive" in that it plays sounds when you push the train along or when you press down or move the character in the front carriage. Each character causes it to make a slightly different set of noises - there are 15 different phrases in total if you collect all of the characters.

hufty's interactive train

I found the range of noises to get very annoying after a time and so I was glad to have a little variety from the other characters, not just Huffty. Lara took quite some time to work out when the noises occurred but now enjoys swapping the toys in the carriages to hear it play different noises.

Unlike almost all toy trains Lara has tried before, she can actually manage to click the train carriages together herself (a relief to me). I would think that Lara's imagination might be captured more, and that the might spend a little longer playing with this train if she were a little younger but, because she is still relatively new to the program she is inspired to invent her own Raa Raa tales when playing with it.

Follow Raa Raa on Facebook.


Marks and Spencer Nursing Bra Review

I am a firm believer that you can't beat a pair of M & S pants for quality and comfort but I'd never really tried out their bras before this month, and certainly hadn't dipped into their range of maternity and nursing lingerie until Marks and Spencer asked me to review an item from their nursing bra range.

I tried out the Maternity Padded T-Shirt Nursing Bras which come in a pack of two - I chose them because of the astonishing value - £30 for the pair.  I don't normally go for a white bra and expect to be wearing the black one more often but I do have a couple of summery nursing tops in white for the summer (!) so it will come in useful.

The bras are very very comfortable and the padded cups are invaluable.  Most of my nursing tops are lycra or elastane and I hate going out with the lumps and bumps of breastpads showing but in these t-shirt bras the thick padded cups hold their shape and mean that your boobs look smooth and rounded rather than lumpy and leaky!

marks and spencer t-shirt nursing bra
image courtesy of

As any good maternity bra should, these bras have a nice wide range of fastening loops at the back to allow for your changing shape towards the end of pregnancy and after birth.  The bra design features a very thin line of lace along the top of the cups - personally I think it would look acceptably feminine without the lace but at least the lace isn't itchy.

The drop-down cups for nursing have a very easy to use clip which really is the single most important feature for me on a nursing bra.  I find it very easy to clip them back again with just one hand.  Being a t-shirt bra, the cups are quite thick so you have to fold them carefully out of the way when feeding but they are soft and can withstand a bit of squidging!  The bra is non-wired to protect your breasts during a time when they need as much love and attention as they can get.

I'm really happy with the Marks and Spencer t-shirt nursing bras and I'm certain they will become my essential everyday breastfeeding bras.

The full range of Marks and Spencer maternity and nursing lingerie can be found online and a selection is available in store.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Am I Still THE Mellow Mummy?

10 weeks in and life is returning to normal. I no longer live in a state of survival, trying to get through every hour without making a mistake. I feel on top of motherhood, which, compared to the first time, I think it pretty good going! I thought that it would be a good idea to re-evaluate my Mellow Mummy status. Am I STILL the Mellow Mummy even after a second child?

When Lara was born, motherhood had the wonderful side effect of calming me down, making me happier, less stressed, more relaxed and more spontaneous. I know a lot of this was to do with hormones and to do with the happy chemicals that Lara and I shared when we were together because when we were away from one another and, when I went back to work after maternity leave, the mellowness did begin to wear off a little.

During the later stages of pregnancy with Holly I could feel the 'yeah... whatever' feeling of mellowness descend again but childbirth does strange things to a woman and I was worried that this time I might benefit the same mellow side effect.

I certainly haven't had the 'nice hair and nails' side effect this time around but my 'totally random dry skin' side effect has come back since giving birth to Holly. Damn.

And the mellowness? Yes it is definitely back. Perhaps even stronger than last time. As a first time mum it is unusual for someone to be as laid back as me and to be so happy to just go with the flow and with your instincts. For a second time mum it is not so out of the ordinary. There are lots of happy and relaxed faces among my new second-time-mummy friends but then there are also still worriers - I'd love to be able to pass on some of the mellow vibes to them.

So yes, motherhood is great fun and I'm looking forward to the challenges that life has to throw at us together. If I can cope with toddler tantrums and two daughters with chicken pox in the first three weeks of Holly's life then what else does life have in store for us?

Monday 16 July 2012

Holly's Naming Day

This weekend we celebrated Holly's Naming Day. We had a similar event for Lara at about the same age - it's nothing formal, just a good excuse to get as many of our family and friends in the same place at the same time as we possibly can. Towards the end of the afternoon I said a few words of thanks to everyone and we drank a toast to Holly.


We invited all of Holly's cousins (there are quite a few now!) and in the end we cooked a buffet lunch (no chance of a BBQ) for 21 people. I used the event as another excuse to hone my new-found cake-decorating skills. I know the cake decoration is a bit literal in its interpretation of the Holly Button theme but I think the pink (or indeed blue) buttons could work for any new baby cake, don't you?


Holly's naming day was also a good excuse to get the two girls dressed up again. Boots mini club sent us two not-too-formal dresses and I knew they would be perfect for the occasion. Lara's dress is a really light cotton and features a butterfly design in very grown up colours of coral and blue. Holly's dress is a slightly puffed-out blue spotty dress with a white collar - I even finished it off with our own Boots mini club bib!


Holly was a very lucky girl and received some wonderful presents, many of which will last her a lifetime. She also received a gorgeous denim baby jumpsuit from... you guessed it... Boots mini club!

Sunday 15 July 2012

SKEANIE Leather Shoes Review

Lara was asked to try out the gorgeous soft-soled shoes from SKEANIE. All Skeanie shoes are hand-made from leather offcuts which means they are environmentally more sound than traditional shoes. They are soft and designed to protect growing feet.

Lara's foot bones will be just about finished forming now that she has turned three. Until now her feet have been mostly made up of cartilage and with soft bones forming which makes tiny feet prone to damage from pressure and shoes which don't provide enough flexibility.

Skeanie have a small but fascinating range of soft-soled shoes for infants and children. Their Junior range includes boots, shoes and sandals. Lara helped me to choose a pair of very lady-like white sandals (£34.99).

Before the Skeanie shoes arrived I was worried that soft leather shoes for a three year old might look a bit 'earth-mother' but when the shoes arrived my worries were dispelled. The sandals look every bit a shoe and when she wears them Lara looks incredibly grown up. The shoes look incredibly comfortable because they sit softly against the foot rather than supporting the foot itself.

These skeanie sandals are so different to any other shoe Lara has owned and I love that they stand out from a crowd. They are summery and light and perfect for with Lara's party dress. I think they will be perfect for when we are on holiday because we will be spending a long time in the car and don't want Lara to be wearing a heavy, hot enclosed shoe.

The sole of the shoe is bouncy but not as soft as I had imagined - it still feels like a shoe that I would be happy for Lara to spend the day walking in. I love the fact that these shoes are made from offcuts - it saves so much waste and the shoes don't suffer in style or construction. I just wish I'd discovered Skeanie earlier in Lara's shoe-wearing life!

Alison Claire Natural Cosmetics Review

When I first discovered Alison Claire natural beauty on twitter I was instantly taken by their products - they are just my kind of thing; naturally sourced ingredients for gorgeous-smelling yet effective skincare. Mellow Mummy has been somewhat focussed on the newborn baby element of motherhood recently so, when Alison Claire asked me to review their range, I thought it was an ideal opportunity to bring the focus back to mummies... for a little while at least.

I was in need of a new body lotion and, having been feeling a bit envious of Holly's gorgeous rose geranium scented nappy cream (!) I opted for the much more grown up Alison Claire Rose Geranium Body Lotion which costs £12 for 200ml. The body lotion smells divine - I now no longer have nappy cream envy!

The Alison Claire body lotion comes in a nifty screw-top bottle with a small opening at the top. The lotion is not too thick and not too thin. I find it doesn't absorb well into my skin and feels, for lack of a better word, soapy (I know it isn't soap because all Alison Claire products are SLS and paraben free). This feeling comes from the natural emolliants used in the Alsion Claire body lotion; apricot oil, radish root extract, coconut extracts and some natural antioxidants including vitamins E, B12, and white willow.

I have been using the body lotion all over but particularly concentrating on my arms (which go weirdly dry and bobbly after childbirth it seems) and I'm not wowed by the body lotion's moisturising effects but I do absolutely love the natural fragrance which makes me feel summery.

I have also been trying out the Orange and Patchouli Hand cream. Patchouli is another natural scent that I have always loved - it is a heady and intense fragrance which combined with the zingy orange makes a fabulous earthy smell.

The hand cream is light and instantly absorbed and with active ingredients such as jojoba, cocoa butter and coconut extract it takes care of the skin on the backs of my hands and wrists with gentle natural moisturisers. The orange and patchouli hand cream costs £7.99.

The favourite of the products I tried from Alison Claire has to be the Peppermint Shower Gel (£12). It is fabulously invigorating. With natural peppermint oil and peppermint water it has a clean, crisp smell and leaves your body with a refreshing tingly feeling all over. After showering I feel like I'm lighter (I'm not that grubby!... I just feel all floaty and energised) and I feel like I'm breathing cleaner air! Awesome.

Image credit:

Thursday 12 July 2012

Bebe au Lait Nursing Cover Review

I was really pleased to be asked to review the Bebe Au Lait nursing cover by Bibs and Stuff. When I was breastfeeding Lara I tried a nursing cover and it drove me to tears so in the end I usually tried to avoid breastfeeding in public. This time around I am a lot more relaxed about feeding in public but there are places where I would prefer to be covered up so I have been trying out the Bebe au Lait nursing cover to see if it is easier to use than the last cover I tried.

The Bebe au Lait cover is really generous in size - it covers not only baby's head and your boob but pretty much most of your upper body. This is good because you don't have to faff around trying to place it accurately - it is very easy to use. It also means that you can drape the Bebe au Lait over a pram or pushchair to use as a sun cover.

The design of cover I received is called Yoko. It is a really stylish design - all 12 of the fabrics available are very beautiful modern designs and I'd be happy to be seen with any of them.

The Bebe au Lait cover straps eaily around your neck with a buckle fastening. The thing I think is the genius of the Bebe au Lait (and the thing which makes me use it rather than just going freestyle even when I'd rather be covered up) is that the top of the cover has a rigid strip in it which makes it rest in a v-shape away from your neck. This allows you to look down on your feeding baby to make sure they are sucking and not asleep! It also lets air in so you don't feel like you're smothering your baby.

I will admit that if I am breastfeeding somewhere that I am comfortable, or somewhere I know to be boob-friendly, then I still don't bother with the Bebe au Lait but it is useful for places like theme parks, aeroplanes and... as I'm sure I will find out at the end of this month... foreign motorway service stations where you can't be sure if the person sitting next to you is someone you would rather not bare all to!

The nursing cover also features a tiny pocket in one corner - I'm not entirely sure what you are meant to keep in it but it looks like whatever it is, it would probably fall out! The pocket is made from absorbent terry cloth which is a lot more useful and I use it for mopping up the dribbly bits after Holly has fed.
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