Operation Christmas Child - Bring a Smile to the Face of a Child this Christmas

21:43 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Since having Bud I've become more aware of how lucky we are. We are able to supply Bud with everything he needs and have money for luxuries - treats and gifts which allow us to indulge our little boy. Having seen how many presents our spoiled little boy received last Christmas and for his first birthday I really started to think about the children who don't get a gift at Christmas and, for whom, the benefits of a good meal, warm home and secure life are unfamiliar.

I've been aware of the 'Shoebox Appeal' for a few years. Bud's Grandma makes up a box every Christmas and several other friends have participated too. The appeal's official title is Operation Christmas Child and it is organised every year by the Samaritan's Purse charity. The idea is that you take a shoebox, cover it in Christmas paper and fill it with a number of small gifts which are then sent to a child in one of 14 (in 2010) countries, these include Haiti and countries in Eastern Europe and Africa. Suggestions for gifts include sweets, socks, hats, gloves, soap, flannels, cuddly toys, balls, stationery etc. Alongside your box you submit a donation of at least £2:50 to cover your box's transportation costs. They suggest that your box is targeted towards a boy or a girl and in a certain age group. The website has lots of useful information.

This year I have assembled two boxes. One for a girl aged 5-9 and the other for a boy aged 2-4. I'm quite lucky that my mum works for a well-known supermarket chain and looks out for little bargains for me. I've also shopped in stores like Primark and Home Bargains to buy things for my boxes.
Box 1 - includes cuddly elephant, socks, hat, gloves, soap and flannel, hairbrush, toothbrush and toothpaste sweets, pencil case, hair bands and clips and some small toys.
Box 2 - much the same as box 1 but geared towards a small boy.

My boxes were easy to put together and I have really enjoyed doing it. I plan to carry on with this in future years and will get Bud involved too, in the hope that it will help him to understand that some children are not as lucky as he is.

Mummy From The Heart is having a big push on Operation Christmas Child this year and is aiming for her child's school to donate 150 shoeboxes this year. Her blog post explains the whole project really well.  MummyMummyMum has a fab giveaway over on her blog to support this and anyone creating a shoebox this year can enter by posting a photo to her Facebook page.

Silent Sunday

19:46 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments


00:01 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

This week has seen two of mine and Red Rose Daddy's Grandmothers being the focus for our attention, for two very different reasons and, having seen Bud interacting with his much-loved Great-Nannas I have been thinking about how lucky he is to know them and to have them in his life.

My Nanna fell and broke her hip last Saturday, this was obviously very worrying and we've been back and forth to the hospital to visit her all week. I've taken Bud a couple of times and she has been delighted to see him. He takes it all in his stride and wasn't bothered that his Great-Nanna was in bed, perhaps he is just too young to sense a difference? In general, I don't really want him spending too much time there and am conscious that he could create a ruckus, I'm sure the other ladies on the ward wouldn't find him quite so delightful if he did! He has been a big hit so far. It really is such a shame though. She will be 90 next year and still lives independently, with a little help from the rest of the family, and we are all hoping that it doesn't lead to an increase in frailty as her fearsome independence will not take kindly to that!

Red Rose Daddy's Nanna is 80 on Monday and she celebrated her birthday tonight with a big family party. I really thought Bud and I would have to miss it as we had a lovely bout of sickness to contend with (Bud's) this afternoon but he woke from his nap feeling brighter so we went along for a couple of hours. I know the rest of the family would have been very disappointed not to see him and they love seeing how much he has grown (those who don't see him regularly). We were home by 10pm and Bud is now sleeping peacefully so, fingers crossed, he will feel better tomorrow.

Anyway, back to the point. All my great-grandparents died before I was born, and Red Rose Daddy's too. My parents, in fact, only knew one each of their grandparents and they were long gone by the time I was born even though my Mum was a child bride and barely 18 when I was born. Bud has the full complement of Grandparents (thank goodness! I'm hoping they get to be Great-Grandparents too!) and three Great-Grandmothers. In the space of the last 50 years families have changed an awful lot, with the older generation achieving much longer life expectancy and taking a much more active role with their Grandchildren. I used to love talking to my Grandparents and spending time with them when I was small and I know Bud adores his too. I know, as children grow, Grandparents and Great-Grandparents can become more distant figures but I'm determined that this special relationship will continue for my boy and our respective sets of parents and remaining grandparents. He can, and will, learn so much from them. I especially treasure the photos we have with his Great-Grandmothers which so clearly show the joy that the others' company brings them.

As for me, I am trying to connect to the previous generations of our families by tracing our family history. I want to be able to show it to Bud and say 'look, this is where you come from.' It is a massive, ongoing project but I love spending time digging through the records and the old family stories and learning more about the lives my ancestors led. I'm back to 1799 on one branch of my tree and definitely looking forward to moving further back in the future. I've already got some interesting stories which I will share with you in another blog post.

CLOSED Giveaway: Win a Family Ticket for the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Manchester

14:11 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

For those of you who aren't aware of it, the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is located at the Trafford Centre in Manchester. I've never actually visited the centre myself but it is one of my nephew (LEGO Boy's) favourite places in the world and is always the first place he requests to go when given the opportunity. He says it has lots and lots of things to do and is one of the best things to do in Manchester. He especially loves the LEGO Factory, MINILAND (where you get to see fab LEGO models of famous buildings) and the LEGO Racers: Build and Test (where you can build your own racing car and test the speed of it on a race track). He can't wait until Bud is a little bit bigger as he thinks Bud will love the DUPLO Village. I think we will probably take them next Summer when Bud has had a chance to get to grips with DUPLO that we are buying him for Christmas and is more used to the bricks. My Brother and Sister-in-Law think that it is a great day out and the perfect treat for LEGO lovers. 
Until 31st October (so all the way through half-term) visitors can experience Halloween Manchester at the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre where you can Build your own mini LEGO Frankenstein in the Model Builder's Workshop, search for the skeletons and ghouls in MINILAND and brave the gloomy Factory Tour if you dare! They have regular special events throughout the year which you can check out on their Events Calendar.
The LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is situated in Barton Square at the Trafford Centre in Manchester so you can combine a visit with some shopping or a meal. In the run up to Christmas the Trafford Centre's Santa Claus usually takes up residence in Barton Square too, so you might catch a glimpse of him too, and possibly have the opportunity to tell Santa which LEGO you would like for Christmas! Parking is free and the Trafford Centre is just off the M60 motorway so really easy to get too.

Tickets start at £8:10 per person and you can also buy an LDC Unlimited Annual Pass, if you are regular visitors, for £27 per person. This includes £10 free LEGO, a free ticket to LEGOLAND Windsor, special discounts for pass holders and a free LDC Unlimited gift on every visit. If you are planning to visit at least three times in a year (you can visit every day with this pass!) or are also planning to visit LEGOLAND Windsor, this is a great buy. Check the website to book online as it will save on queuing and you can save up to 50% on the standard admission price. 


The LEGOLAND Discovery Centre have offered me a family pass (to admit 2 adults and 2 children on one occasion) to give away so you can experience the fun for yourself.

To enter please tell me what is your child's favourite thing to build with their LEGO. Please leave your answer in a comment below, with your e mail address or twitter username so I can contact you if you are the winner.

For additional entries:-
Please leave a separate comment to tell me which of these additional entries you have done (and I will check!)

The giveaway will close at 11:59 PM on Wednesday 9th November and I will pick a winner at random.
The winner must reply to me within three days of me contacting them, if they fail to do so I will select another winner. Only correctly completed entries made before the closing date will be valid.

Bedtime Changes

23:02 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Tonight I feel like Bud and I made a significant change to his bedtime routine. I didn't feed him to sleep. This has happened before but I've never actually been there on those occasions. Tonight I fed him then took him upstairs and put him into his cot, sleepy but very definitely awake. For the first time in 18 months my little boy has gone to sleep in my presence without falling asleep on the breast.

I'm not quite sure why tonight was the night to make this change. I've been thinking about it for a while and, as we went out last night so his Grandparents put him to bed (after he fell asleep on Grandad's lap) I thought we could use that as a line drawn in the sand. Bud loves feeding, I hear the stories of self-weaning and I am amazed as the prospect of my boy ever willfully giving up on his 'bop' (his word for my milk) seems unlikely at best. At bedtime he will, if allowed, feed for up to an hour and, as he falls asleep, will wake up if I try to move him. He is getting heavier and more awkward to carry around now so I need a way of putting him into bed and not having to move him when he is sleeping. Stopping feeding to sleep is clearly the solution.

Tonight I placed him in his cot and, at first, he was completely indignant and stood holding on to the side of the cot bar, shouting and crying (mainly for his Daddy as usual). He has a Globug but he can't press it's tummy hard enough to turn it on himself so I did it for him, a few times, and he sat down quietly in his cot. Eventually he lay down and nodded off. I had been sitting on the floor of his room, not making eye contact, during this whole time and thinking he had gone to sleep I attempted to leave the room, whereupon he woke up, stood up and started shouting at me again. I repeated the whole process and left him, sleeping peacefully, after 40 minutes.

It wasn't the fastest process but I came downstairs feeling like I had done the right thing and that we may have turned a corner. Bud will still be having his evening 'bop' but that won't be what he falls asleep doing. All I need now is some tips for how to get out of the room before he goes to sleep, or to speed up the process if I do have to stay with him. Do any of you have any suggestions?

Silent Sunday

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A Twitch in Time?

14:38 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Recently we've noticed that Bud has started with a little nervous tick or twitch, basically he softly pinches his mouth and chin. I can't really describe it other than by saying that he brings his fingers and thumb together by smoothing them down his face. If anyone remembers that 'Jimmy Hill' thing people used to do where they rubbed their chin, the movement is a bit like that but on his lips instead of his chin. Phew, I hope you understand what I'm trying to get at!

Anyway, we first noticed it a couple of weeks ago and he has been doing it since. We see it when he is tired or upset and when someone leaves the room. I've been trying to ignore it and not make an issue of it but it is really starting to upset me. A few people have said he is doing it to comfort himself, which is OK - he has never had a dummy or a blanket and has never really bonded with a special cuddly toy but I feel awful that he needs to comfort himself, does it mean that he feels anxious or alone? Do you see what I mean? I am with him during virtually all his waking moments and feel like I am somehow failing him because he is worrying or feeling insecure choosing to comfort himself in this way and my comforting is not enough! I know I'm being an irrational mummy but I can't help feeling upset when I see him doing it.

I've been frantically googling and the consensus seems to be that it will probably go away on its' own. For now I think I'm going to have to keep watching my little boy perform his little movement. There has been no other change in his mood or behaviour so maybe it is simply him getting older and more independent? I don't know but I don't like it.

Do any of you have any experience of this with your little ones? I'm hoping that in a couple of months I'll be wondering why I was so worried in this blog post.

Shining Light

20:35 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Music has always been a source of joy to me. I can't carry a tune in a bucket and have no musical ability whatsoever but I have always adored music, whether live, recorded or on the radio. It has always been the one thing that can relax me, inspire me and soothe me. After Bud arrived I completely lost touch with that side of myself and oh! How I misssed it. I didn't realise I missed it because I was in new-baby haze where putting my child first meant that all my interests really got sidelined but, as he grew bigger, I needed to get back to myself and reconnecting with live music is the way that I have done so. This coincided with reconnecting with an old school friend who lives locally and has much the same taste in 90's indie music as I do. Since April this year we've been to several gigs and this Sunday six of us are off to see Ash in Manchester. I cannot wait!

I've had a bit of a crush on Tim Wheeler, their lead singer since they released their first album '1977' in 1996. The band were the same age as me (I was also born in 1977 which was the reason they named their album so) and their debut album was a firm favourite of mine. The gig on Sunday sees them playing their biggest album, Free All Angels, live along with other greatest hits and they will be joined by Charlotte Hatherley their erstwhile guitarist who is rejoining just for this tour. I've seen Ash before but without the anticipation that I feel this time. My favourite Ash song, Shining Light, will definitely be played on Sunday night as it came from Free All Angels. I love the lyrics to this and it never fails to uplift me.

I think the reason for the anticipation is, simply, the importance of doing something just for myself and taking time out from being a Mummy to be 'me' again. I'm lucky to have a wonderful family who will look after Bud when me and RRD need a night out. I'm also very lucky to have a little boy who bops round the living room with me when I turn 6 Music up loud(ish - I'm in my 30s you know!) I just hope that he grows up to love music as much as I do and, if not, finds a equivalent source of joy whatever that may be.

Wordless Wednesday

12:00 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

10 Things that Bud and I Have Learned This Week...

23:19 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

1. ...that Bud now knows three of the actions to one of his favourite songs and can wait for the appropriate moment in the song to make the action. The Song is 'Wind the Bobbin Up' and he can now 'wind the bobbin', clap his hands at the right time and also point to the ceiling. I am very proud.

2. ...that our local library is a very exciting place full of lots of new books to throw all over the floor explore! The librarian will even let you take some of the books home with you! Result!

3. ...that Strictly Come Dancing is essential toddler viewing. Ditto for the World Gymnastics Championships.

4. ...that I won't be buying any more issues of 'Mollie Makes' as, much as I would like to be that sort of crafter, I'm just not.

5. ...that Red Rose Daddy makes really good Cornflake Cakes.

6. ...that, according to Bud, sheep and goats say 'baaaa', all birds say 'quack, quack, quack' and cows and llamas say 'mooo'.

7. ...that we really need to sort the central heating out before it starts to get really cold and the leaking pipe completely ruins the lounge floor.

8. ...that spending the day with good friends is great for the soul, even if you haven't seen them for 3 years and you were sick in their car on the last occasion you did so.

9. ...that Bud can walk in wellies.

10. ...that I'm really enjoying blogging!

What have you and your families learned this week?

Introducing Bud

13:45 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I know I've posted a few photos of Bud on the blog so far but, as you're all meeting him at 18 months I thought I would share a few photos of him so you can all see how he has grown!

Reflections on Bud's Birth

13:32 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Bud is now 18 months old and we are seriously considering a brother or sister for him. This has led me to really reflect upon Bud's birth and how I would want a future delivery to be different. On one hand Bud's birth was everything I wanted it to be but, on the other hand, there was one big issue and I am only recently realising that this has affected me quite deeply.

I was convinced that I would go overdue with my pregnancy. He was my first baby, I had no 'shows' or false starts so I was a bit surprised when I went into labour! We had been at Red Rose Daddy's Brother's house celebrating his birthday, playing board games and generally having a nice evening, until about 11:45 on the Saturday night and came home to go to bed. I felt fine and had really enjoyed the evening. When I got to bed I just couldn't settle and kept going back and forth to the bathroom. After about an hour of this it started to dawn on me that this could be my waters slowly breaking. This was three days before my due date so I was quite taken aback, I had only packed my hospital bag that morning! I got up and went downstairs and, shortly, RRD came to see if anything was wrong. At 3am I got my first contraction and, very quickly they got closer and closer together. After about an hour, when they were about 5 minutes apart, I rang the hospital and they told me to come in. We eventually arrived at the hospital at 4:45am.

When we arrived on the maternity unit I was put on the ward, to be monitored on a bed. They confirmed that my waters had broken and then I didn't see anyone for 2 hours. So, I was left, with my other half, wired up to the monitors on a bed, in pain. I couldn't move around which was driving me mad. No pain relief offered and I hadn't been examined. At the time I was quite surprised that the pain wasn't as bad as I was expecting. I don't quite know what I was expecting because, looking back, they were pretty bad! I lay on the bed for the whole two hours just getting through each pain whilst RRD sat feeling quite helpless and holding my hand through each pain. I probably should have kicked up a fuss and asked to be examined earlier but, first baby, this was all new to me.

At 7am a midwife finally came to examine me and I was expecting to be told that I was only 4 or 5cm dilated and was not looking forward to a few more hours of the pain. I'd read all the books and knew that the first stage of labour can last up to 24 hours, especially in first pregnancies, so I wasn't hopeful. The midwife asked me if I was feeling pressure and told me I was fully dilated! So, zero pain to 10cm in 4 hours, I was so pleased. I knew that my maternity unit had a midwife-led Birth Centre and was really keen to deliver there so I was delighted to be asked if I wanted to go up there and go into the pool. The midwife also got me some gas and air which, to be honest, I couldn't really be bothered with as I had got that far without it. Within 15 minutes I was in the water. The pain was so much more manageable straight away. I quickly got fed up with the gas and air and abandoned it. After about an hour in the water I really started to want to push and the midwife agreed it was fine for me to do so. I've never worked so hard as I did when pushing during labour. Nothing prepared me for the sheer physical exertion of it. Bud's chin was down and this made pushing even more difficult as he would move down then move back up as I relaxed. I pushed for a long time and the midwife kept saying that, without progress I would have to get out of the water. I was determined that I that wasn't going to happen so every time she said this it renewed my efforts and I was able to push more and move forwards.

Bud was finally born, in the water, at 11:17am on Easter Sunday morning. His shoulders got stuck after his head was delivered and he needed the midwife to manouevre his shoulders out. He was placed on my chest for me and RRD to discover that we had a little boy. I had been convinced that I was expecting a little girl and had told the midwives this so, as she lifted him up, she said 'here's your little girl'. I looked down and said 'we've got a little boy!', actually he wasn't so little. Bud weighed in at 10lbs 5oz! I couldn't believe he was so big! From this point onwards it all went a bit wrong.

Bud and I were still in the water while RRD cut the cord and there was a lot of blood in the water. I was very tired and I didn't want the baby to be in the bloody water (angry new mummy) so told the midwives that we were getting out. Right now. One of them took Bud and gave him to his Daddy and then they both helped me out. There was a lot of blood then. A lot. I'd previously request that my placenta was delivered naturally but the midwives asked me to have the injection to deliver it, I quickly agreed. They also asked the Head Midwife to come in. It took them a while to deliver it but it was fine and they revealed that I had torn and I would need to have this repaired. I held Bud for about 20 minutes and then they took me off to the Delivery Suite to be examined and to have the repair done.

I spent the next three hours away from RRD and Bud. The doctor examined me and said that I needed to go to theatre. From that point onwards I lay in a room waiting for a space in theatre. I was very tired and was trying to sleep but, really I think I was in shock. The midwife from the Birth Centre stayed with me and she was fab but, bizarrely, it didn't occur to me to ask for Bud and RRD. Looking back I don't know why they couldn't have come down to be with me when I was waiting. We were separated for far too long and that makes me so sad now. Eventually I got into theatre, had my spinal block and had my stitches. The staff again were fab. I remember having a really in depth conversation about marathon running with the anaethetist who held my hand throughout the procedure. I was then taken to recovery and finally reunited with Bud and RRD. Red Rose Daddy had been left with the baby to get him into a nappy and dressed. Bud greeted him by poohing all the way up his arm! He wasn't kept informed by the medical staff and was so worried about me. He was also trying to keep our families informed but had nothing to tell them so more people were worried. Both sets of our parents wanted to come and wait with him but, he says that he was conscious of how little time we had spent together as a family and wanted me to spend some more time with Bud first.

From this point onwards it was fairly straightforward but I did have two more instances of unnecessary upset. The first came when one of the Healthcare Assistants came to empty my catheter pot where she tutted and said 'what a mess', well, excuse me for having no control over my bladder at the moment! The second was around breastfeeding. I was determined to breastfeed Bud and kept asking for a midwife to come and help me with him. I must have asked 4 or 5 times and, eventually, at 11pm someone came and he fed. I was in tears by this point as I was convinced my baby was starving. To be fair he had slept most of the time so he really wasn't but you instinctively want to feed your child and, because of the spinal block, I needed help with this and it wasn't forthcoming.

I mentioned before that is was Easter Sunday and the maternity unit was really busy. The midwives were generally lovely and did an excellent job. I had a breastfeeding session with a Healthcare Assistant who specialises in supporting breastfeeding the day after Bud was born and she was so helpful. She supported the start of my breastfeeding journey (that's another post) and without her I might not have managed, she was a great resource.

Nothing prepared me for the physical impact of giving birth. I pushed for a long time and every muscle in my body felt strained, that and the after effects of the tear meant that I was incredibly sore and fragile but I was able to stay in for 2 nights and this really helped. I have never been so glad to get home than the day we brought Bud home from hospital and started our new life together as a family.
(Ready to go home - note how washed out I still am - I lost over a pint of blood)

As I mentioned, we are really thinking about a new baby and I am really quite scared that I will tear again and be forced away from my baby again. It isn't the pain or the tear that I am worried about but I've realised how upset being away from my child for so long made me and I really don't want to go through that again. Next time I will be far more opinionated, strong willed and will know what to expect and I will definitely be telling the staff what I want. RRD will, I think, be more forceful too. If I need to go to theatre then the new baby and RRD will come with me as far as possible and I will try to feed as soon after delivery as I can. Only with hindsight and knowledge can you come to a clear understanding of your birth experience and writing this post has taken a while but has really helped me I think.

I have submitted my birth story to Actually Mummy's Birth Story link-up. Click here to add yours or read more.

Actually Mummy

Mini Milestones - Pouches

16:39 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

One of the things I have found since becoming a parent is the importance of all the little milestones to you, as well as the more obvious 'biggies' (sitting up, standing, walking etc) and it seems like we have had a week of them.

This is a bit of a silly one but I still felt proud, Bud fed himself from a pouch. If you don't know what I mean by pouch, they are the baby food sachets which have those plastic lids that are designed for your little one to feed themselves from. Bud has struggled with them so I've always had to squeeze the pouch into a bowl and feed it to him with a spoon, which defeats the point of the convenience of the pouch. He doesn't have them very often but Ella's Kitchen sent us a free sample of 'The Orange One'  which is a new addition to their range of fruit smoothies. We are big Ella's Kitchen fans in our house and I think Bud has tried most of their range so far. Their products appeal to me as they are organic and natural.

I decided to try Bud, yet again, to see if he could work it out himself. You simply snap the seal by twisting the top and off it pops. I gave this to Bud and he really surprised me by eating it all up. He had a few breaks so I could squeeze the smoothie up to the top and he could get more out but had no problems with the pouch itself. I've always put his inability to work pouches out before down to him never actually having had a bottle but it looks like he has sussed it now. To be honest he has probably been able to do it for a while but it has been a couple of months since we last attempted it.

'The Orange One' is a great snack for your toddler, and would be great for school lunchboxes. It contains no nasties, like added sugar, salt or water.It is just a blend of oranges, guavas, mangoes, banana and a bit of lemon juice so it can be one of your child's 'five a day' too. All the fruit used is 100% organic. The range includes five flavours so there should be one for every child. I will definitely be buying more of these, mainly to keep in my changing bag for snacking on the go. The pouches don't need to be refrigerated so it won't matter if Bud doesn't eat them for a couple of weeks which is great! Definitely another winning product from Ella's Kitchen.

If you visit the Ella's Kitchen wesbite you can become their friend. They will send you a free weaning guide and 500 new members each month will also be sent one of the fab Terracycle lunchboxes, made from empty, recycled food pouches.

Ella's Kitchen Fruit Smoothies are currently available in Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Toys'r'us and Ocado. 
Price: 69p per 90g
Rating: 5/5

I received this pouch as part of Ella's Kitchen's promotion where they sent out 15,000 free samples of this product. Keep an eye on their website to look for future product launches when they may have more samples available.

Review: Amarya Beauty Box

23:19 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Last week I was lucky enough to be chosen as the winner of an Amarya Beauty Box from a competition on their  Facebook page. Amarya is an online natural and organic beauty retailer who have recently launched a Beauty Box scheme. This seems to be quite a trend at the moment and a few companies are offering similar, whereby you pay £10 a month to receive a surprise beauty parcel each month. Amarya is different thought because they offer only natural beauty products and they also offer one full size product, worth at least £20, and a selection of samples in each box.

I received my box this morning and thought I would tell you all about it...

The postman will knock on your door with a white shoebox-shaped parcel which you open up to find

another lovely white box tied up in pink ribbon, with a card welcoming me to my first box. Upon investigating further I found, in addition to the aforementioned lovely white box, a leaflet showing the Amarya range and a gorgeous white cotton shopping bag. I absolutely love bags like this and always have a couple stashed in my changing bag for 'emergencies' (mainly to stash Bud's dirty clothes if I have to change him when I'm out and about or, more often, for shopping trips) so this will be a welcome addition to my burgeoning collection.   

So, time to open the lovely white box. You open up the tissue paper to find a little booklet, tied up with more pink ribbon, explaining the contents of your box, with the products lurking beneath.

I received the following products:
and they looked like this (except the sachets - I forgot those)

I've tried all the products apart from the sachets now and am extremely impressed. I was already familiar with Ren and Lavera but the Madara range was new to me. It is a Latvian company and I think they are quite new to the UK. The Tinting Fluid is fab. I've only tried it on the back of my hand but it blended really well and smells amazing. It promises to 'even out skin tone and leave you with fresh and radiant skin', I'm not a massive foundation wearer, I find it too heavy on my skin, so this could well be a lighter, lovelier alternative for me.

The Lavera hand cream contains organic shea butter and almond oil and is really reasonably priced for the full 75ml size at £3:75. This too smelled lovely and was very moisturising on my hands.

The Ren eye gel is actually my usual eye gel so I was really pleased to receive the tiny travel size. The full size product of this is 15ml and retails at £18:00. This gel is really light and cooling and really refreshes my eyes when they are tired or sore. As I have allergies this is quite often and this has been the best eye gel I have tried to relieve the heaviness around my eyes that I suffer from as a result of these.

The Dr Hauschka sachet products retail in excess of £50:00 each so I will save those for when I have some pampering time to try out properly.

The little booklet also contains a code where you can get 15% off the brands contained in your box, should you need to repeat buy, or upgrade to the full size.

I was really pleased with my lovely Amarya prize and am sorely tempted to sign up. If I was working I definitely would be doing so but my subscription might have to wait a little while. I think it might make a lovely Christmas gift for someone special in your life, and at £10 per month (the money is taken by Direct Debit or Paypal) you could spread the cost easily. There is no contract and you can cancel your deliveries at any point. There is a really good FAQ page on the website which will answer any questions you have. They also have a 'Refer a Friend' scheme whereby, if you want to sign up, you can e mail Amarya with your name, the date you joined and your friend's name and you each get a free box for one month! I think I may well be returning to Amarya when finances allow.

Rating: 9/10

I received my Amarya Beauty Box as a competition prize and have chosen to review it of my own accord. I have received no incentive from Amarya to do so.

Wordless Wednesday

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Review: Mega Bloks Time to Build Advertiser Page

16:35 Pippa Ainsworth 1 Comments

Bud loves his Mega Bloks and plays with them a lot. He is just getting to the age where he is starting to build things by putting the Bloks together instead of just banging them against one another like he did when he first got them last Christmas. I was browsing online earlier and came across a new (to me anyway!) advertisement website for Mega Bloks, hosted by Cartoonito. The site introduces Buddy who seems a friendly little chap in his Mega Bloks hard hat and he has a video on the home page which shows a different model everyday, today it is a caterpillar. There is a link at the top of the page entitled 'Build Your Own' which, if you click on it, shows about 20 different models you can build from your Mega Bloks, with everything from a Sailboat to a Giraffe. This reminded me of the instructions you get with Lego kits, they show you which bricks you need then how to put them together to create your model. Some of the models are actually quite complex and I feel it would be a great way of introducing your little one to more complicated modelling as they get older. It would also be a good way to get parents involved with playing with the Mega Bloks.

The website has a competition ongoing where, if your little one builds something with their Mega Bloks you can photograph it and upload it. If you are one of the first 250 (at the moment I can see approx 110 in the Gallery) you will be sent a free Buddy, which would be a great addition to any Mega Bloks collection. We've uploaded and hope to receive a free Buddy for the Bud. Other features include an extensive page on the benefits to children of playing with Mega Bloks which I found informative. There is also a section on Retailer and Product Information which, at the moment, shows an offer on at Tesco with more promised as 'coming soon'.

I found this website when surfing the internet and have received no incentive from Mega Bloks to make this post.

My first post

14:17 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I'm a big blog fan. I love reading other people's blogs and commenting on them but for a while now I have been thinking 'I can do that, and I would really like to'. So, after agonising over the naming of the blog, seriously, naming my child was easier... here I am and i'd like to tell you a little bit more about me.

The blog's name is a product of my proud Lancastrian roots, admittedly county boundaries now dictate that we live in Greater Manchester now (and actually have done so since before I was born) but I'm going to ignore that. I've even lived in Yorkshire so am even more sure of the importance of the 'Red Rose County' to me.

I'm a first-time, stay at home mummy in my, ahem, mid-thirties. I have a little boy (the 'bud') of 18 months who swings between being a one-boy demolition crew and the snuggliest, cuddliest baby boy ever. I love being at home with him and we try to do lots of fun things together, especially outside as he loves to be out in the fresh air more than anything else. He does about a hundred funny things every day and I hope to share a few of them with you. Other things the bud loves are animals, all of them, real or toy, books and balls.

When I was younger I always wanted to be a sports journalist and did lots of writing on school newspapers, newsletters etc but, by and by, my plans changed and I ended up with a career in the public sector from which I was made redundant just after returning from maternity leave in the summer. I've never lost my love of writing though and I plan to use this blog as an outlet for the words that wander almost constantly around my head!

I'm very opinionated and love to share my opinion with anyone who will listen so I plan to tell my readers about things that we have found, new products, days out, recipes, activities, whatever we find really. I also really love a bargain so will be sharing any of those that I find too.

Spending time together as a family is really important to us and we try to get out and do something fun every weekend. Our extended family is really important to us too, and we are lucky to have the majority of them living close by, so you will probably meet the bud's grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends through my posts too.

My main interests, when I get a minute and the Bud is in bed, are cookery and baking (although the Bud likes to help me with this too), crafts and I am also researching my family tree. This all keeps me busy as you may imagine! Red Rose Daddy is a keen gardener and keeps us well supplied with various fruit and vegetables grown in our back garden throughout the year. He is also very athletic and loves the gym and runs marathons, or he will when he finally gets accepted by the London Marathon anyway - he has run three other marathons in other places. He is a Scout Leader and loves the opportunity to get out into the countryside, obviously a trait our Bud has inherited.

So, that's our little family introduced. I look forward to sharing more stories from our life together, and more of my thoughs on all manner of things, with you all.