Thursday, 28 February 2013

We're Doing Something Funny for Money - Comic Relief 2013

I'm quite bad at raising money for charity. I happily contribute where and when I can to the efforts of others but it is rare that I ever do anything myself. This is partly due to being busy and partly to a lack of imagination. This year is different. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Comic Relief, a charity I've always tried to support but one that I can't remember ever actually fund raising for.


Izziwizzi Kids and Gelli-Baff have teamed up to offer some of the Playfest participants enough jelly to enable us to do something funny withe jelly. I've been dragged persuaded into getting into the paddling pool and taking a fully clothed jelly bath with my new blogging friend Jenny from The Brick Castle (if you haven't visited her blog yet you're excused, she's new, but you really should go and do so soon). She's offered her house if we bring the paddling pool, I think I come out of that deal much better than she does!

The big event will take place on Saturday 9th March and we'd love it if you could take a moment (and a pound or two) to sponsor us. The whole debacle will be filmed so you'll be able to have a laugh at our expense (or with us) after the event.

If you can think of a way of doing something funny with jelly you can find Izziwizzi Kids on Facebook for more information on how to sign up.

ergoPouch - A Review

I'm a big fan of baby sleeping bags. I have two wiggly children and we've had many different sleeping bags used in our house over the last three years. My two would both kick off their blankets if they weren't in a bag and I hate to think of them being cold when we're all asleep. It can be confusing trying to work out which sleeping bag to buy from the wide range available and we have had some that have been more successful than others.

I was recently invited to review an ergoPouch sleeping bag in my role as a member of the Babyworld review panel. My oh my, I think I may have found the Rolls Royce of baby sleeping bags!

ergoPouch is an Australian brand which has recently launched in the UK selling a range of sleeping bags, pyjamas, swaddles, wraps and comforters. They pride themselves on providing products that are safe, organic, eco-friendly and provide optimal temperature balance.

We were sent the Organic Cotton Quilt Warm Weight Sleeping Bag. it is made of organic cotton and is breathable so it keeps the child's temperature consistent. I've found that my baby girl often gets a bit sweaty in her other sleeping bags but this one, despite being warmer, regulates her temperature and she doesn't seem to sweat at all. The ergoPouch comes with it's own room thermometer supplied for extra piece of mind on the heating of your child's room. This is compact and easy to use.

ergoPouch

The fit on this sleeping bag is quite slim. This is to prevent babies being uncomfortable when lying on excess fabric and the twisting of the bag that can cause. It really works. The bag moves with my daughter rather than her weight causing her to twist against a larger sleeping bag.

As mentioned earlier, the bag is made of 100% organic cotton. This has a thread count of 400 and it feels wonderful. I think it feels more like silk than cotton. There is no polyester filling and this makes it hypoallergenic too and adds to the breathable  quality of the sleeping bag.

Another excellent feature is the double zip. You can unzip from the bottom to enable parents to do night time changes without unfastening the whole sleeping bag. I've had a couple of zips break on sleeping bags with my two children but I don't think there is any likelihood of that with this zip. It is excellent quality and fastens smoothly and easily.

We've washed this sleeping bag a couple of times now and it has done beautifully, there is no sign of bobbling or pilling which, again is sometimes an issue with lower quality sleeping bags.

The sleeping bag is expensive with an RRP of £49:99. Our bag is size 2-12 months so my daughter will only get one winter from it. The next size is 12-36 months so a child would get at least two winters in that sleeping bag which would make it far more economical. I believe that this sleeping bag would make an excellent gift for a new baby, or perhaps a great first birthday gift. We will be using our ergoPouch throughout the rest of the Winter and I'm sure it will continue to keep Little Miss snug and warm.

Baby Girl ergoPouch

Disclaimer: We received this product to review but all opinions are open and honest.

Wednesday 28/2/2013 First Taste (119/365)

Baby girl weaning first taste of food fruit puree

Little Miss had her first taste of food today. Just a little apple purée. She liked it a lot and got very excited, even trying to grab the spoon from me. Her tongue thrust reflex is still very strong so I'm not entirely sure she is ready. I think I'm going to try her with some soft finger foods now and see how we go from there. She is six months next week (eek! Where does the time go?) Weaning is definitely in her near future.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Ella's Kitchen Mini Milk Float Delivers Their New Dairy Range


We're just about to start the weaning adventure with Little Miss so I was very interested to hear about Ella's Kitchen and their new range of yoghurts, fromage frais and rice pudding. Bud and I were big fans of Ella's Kitchen when we were weaning (in fact he still adores their fruity pouches which were the subject of one of my first blog posts when Bud learned to squeeze the pouches himself.

To promote the new range Ella's Kitchen have built the world's smallest milk float. It stands at 133cm tall and 88 cm wide, and is just the right size to be driven by Ella's Dad, and the company founder, Paul Lindley who has been using it to deliver the new products to children in London.

Ella's Kitchen Mini Milk Float

The new dairy range contains no added refined sugar and provides a natural source of calcium, so they are a great way to introduce dairy to tiny tots for the first time.

Ella's Kitchen's new yoghurts, rice puddings and fromage frais can be found in the dairy aisle at Asda, Tesco, Waitrose and Ocado. 'Like' their page on Facebook to keep informed about their great range.

Disclaimer: We received samples of the new range in return for telling you about it.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Monday 25/2/2013 Cuddles (117/365)

Baby girl daddy asleep together cuddles

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Sunday 24/2/2013 Lipstick (116/365)

Little Boy toddler drawn face lipstick

Bud got creative with my Burts Bees Lip Shimmer today. Very fetching, I'm sure you'll agree!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Saturday 23/2/13 Bed (115/365)

Small Boy toddler asleep cot bed

I've been meaning to take a photo like this for ages. This is Bud's standard sleeping position. He always has his head thrown back. I usually move him to a straighter position (luckily he sleeps heavily so it doesn't disturb him) but when I go back to check on him he's always in this position again. This was the ideal photo for today. We were out for a lot of the day shopping and I managed to leave both my phone and camera at home so no photos there!

A Brand New Country Kid

On Thursday we decided to try out a different park. This is one that Bud has explored with grandparents and cousins before but I've never taken him there. This is quite bizarre really as it's about the same distance away as 'our' park, just in the opposite direction. It isn't on the way to anywhere so I can't combine it with a trip to the shops or the library and I tend to forget about it.

Little Miss has been along on all our jaunts to play outside since her birth but has mostly slept through them, snug inside her pram. On this trip she was wide awake and giggling at me throughout the walk to the park. It was a very cold day with beautiful blue skies and fluffy white clouds.

Farnworth Children's Park Blue Skies White Clouds

I decided that it was the day for Little Miss to have her first turn on the equipment. She supports her own head really well and she can sit up for a few seconds at a time so I thought she'd love it. Her big brother pronounced her too little for the park but he's going to have to get used to her getting bigger and joining in more, this is just the start! Little Miss went on the swing and the spring rider, all with very gentle movement of course. She smiled throughout so I'm fairly sure she enjoyed it! She wasn't out of the pram for very long as, whilst she was bundled up in blankets inside it, her coat wasn't really big enough to keep her warm outside it. A lesson for next time. 

Baby girl small toddler boy swings park spring rocker

I've loved comparing them on the equipment and seeing Bud's assurance on it. He climbs in and out of the rockers on his own, scoots up the steps on the slide and can almost swing himself too. Inevitably it also brought thoughts of Bud's first trip to the park, a different one but with very similar equipment. He was around the same age Little Miss is now and I remember feeling really nervous about my precious baby being on the swings! He's always loved it and parks have been favourite haunts ever since. I thought I'd dig out the photos from his very first trip. It was a glorious, warm day with a lots of sunshine. As you can see I didn't let go of the swing.

Baby boy girl swings park

I love Bud's expression in this photo. He doesn't look very happy but he was smiling and giggling. He really does look quite different to his sister here!

Linking up with Jenny and Lauren at Flashback Friday for the first time, and, as usual with Coombe Mill for Country Kids. Please click on the badges below to read the other entries or to add your own.

flashbackbadge1 Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Friday 22/2/13 Pretty Girl (114/365)

Pretty baby girl smiling

Here's my pretty little girl, trying to sit up whenever she can despite the fact that she refuses to roll over and looks at me like I'm mental if I try to encourage her! She's growing up so fast, she'll soon be six months old. Where does the time go?

Monday, 18 February 2013

Click and Collect with Matalan

I'm a big fan of Matalan. We are regular shoppers there and it is where I bought one of Bud's most memorable outfits when he was a baby - a sleepsuit for his very first Christmas Eve which read 'Baby's First Christmas'. I remember being so relieved to find it and I still have it in his memory box.

Anyway, enough reminiscing, Matalan have launched a new Click and Collect service from their website which allows you to order online and then collect it from your most convenient Matalan store. I was delighted to be offered the opportunity to test the service for myself and tell you about it. I'm not used to having a shopping trip for myself and it took me quite a while to choose the items I wanted. I did spot some lovely things for Bud, Little Miss and Red Rose Daddy but I concentrated on the task in hand - clothes for me!
Matalan dress and two gilets

As I'm still breastfeeding I need comfortable, relaxed clothes. I'm all set for smarter dresses at the moment but a lot of my day wear is looking tired. I decided I'd choose yet another pair of skinny jeans and look for some comfortable tops to wear. I've also been after a pair of heels to wear with dresses. My Mother in Law showed me a pair of wider fit shoes that she had bought recently and they fitted me really well and I was pleased to see that Matalan had a good range of these. I've been struggling to get shoes that fit as a six is too small but a seven is too big at the moment. A wider fit six fits really well, another seemingly permanent change following pregnancy! So here's what I went for. I loved the look of the tunic top and couldn't decide which colour to go for, so I got both!

Matalan Click and Collect
The Matalan website is incredibly easy to use and in order to choose click and collect you select standard delivery and then choose your most convenient store. Delivery to store is then promised within three days. As well as taking the usual credit and debit cards I was pleased to see that Matalan also accept PayPal, handy for spending any accumulated funds you may have! I placed my order on Tuesday evening and then, on Thursday afternoon, was told that my order had arrived in store - a day early, I went to collect my order on the following day and was greeted at the tills by a really pleasant young man who chatted to me while a colleague went to retrieve my order. He told me that the Click and Collect service is proving really popular and that I was the fifth customer who had come in to claim an order that day. I was in the store less than five minutes and was very pleased with my order when I got it home.

The shoes fit perfectly. I've never bought shoes on line before but decided to take the risk with these as I really liked them and knew they would go with so many items in my wardrobe. The tops are great, so soft and comfortable and perfect worn over a little vest top for easy nursing. I have the skinny jeans in three other colours so they were an easy purchase. I actually thought they were more grey from looking at the photo online but they are a true khaki. I adore scarves at the moment as they are an easy way of wearing something decorative and I can avoid Little Miss pulling on a necklace. I probably won't ever wear all the items together as I am in the terrible photo below but they are all great additions for reviving my wardrobe.


Disclaimer: I received payment to cover the cost of my order from Matalan. All opinions are my own.

Monday 18/2/2013 Picnic (110/365)

Small Boy Toddler Biscuit Gingerbread man Park

It was wonderful to wake up to sunshine again today. We went to the park and, as Bud had requested a picnic, stopped off at the bakery on the way. We bought sausage rolls and gingerbread men and ate them on a bench in the park after working up an appetite on the equipment.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Sunday 17/2/2013 Tower (109/365)

Blackpool Tower Blue Sky Sunshine Silhouette

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Saturday 17/2/2013 Smile! (108/365)

Smile Blackpool Tower Comedy Pavement

Friday 17/3/2013 Sid (107/365)

Sid Sloane Small Toddler Boy Smile

We went to see Sid's Show on Friday and Bud was completely enthralled. We queued to meet Sid afterwards and he was completely lovely and great with the children even though Bud clammed up completely and wouldn't speak. He did manage to squeak 'thank you Sid' as we left though. He has talked about the show all weekend so I know he loved it. This isn't the best shot but the queue was long and I was conscious of restless children behind us so it was three very quick snaps and this was the best of a bad bunch!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Thinking of Summer

Beach Holiday Writing in the Sand


The February gloom is leading us to turn our thoughts to family holidays. Obviously, as our car has been written off, the priority will be to replace that as soon as we can so a holiday may be out of the question again this year. We didn't manage a holiday last year because we had to save my partner's annual leave so he could take time off when Little Miss arrived., He changed jobs and we didn't realise he wouldn't qualify for paid Paternity Leave until it was too late. The longest holiday we've ever been on is five nights so a full week would be a real luxury.

I'm not sure whether or not we will be able to book in advance so, if we do decide to go abroad it would probably be by booking a late deal. We would need to get organised though as only Red Rose Daddy has a valid passport at the moment. My perfect holiday is a city break, I love exploring a new city, visiting museums and galleries and eating in great restaurants however, that sort of holiday really isn't practical with a baby and toddler in tow so we need to start looking at a week or two in the sunshine.

Both of our families have a history of visiting the Balearics and I think Majorca or Menorca may be a good option for us. One advantage of having two children under three is the ability to look at holidays that fall in term time. I've been looking on latedeals.co.uk and have found a week's self catering in Majorca, departing on 22nd March from just £289 per person. If we're flexible with dates and get organised some sunshine may not be beyond us this year!

Sponsored Post

Thursday 14/2/2013 Valentine (106/365)

Valentine's Heart Shaped Chocolate Cookies Biscuits

I made Red Rose Daddy some chocolate heart-shaped cookies as his Valentine's gift. They weren't the prettiest biscuits ever but he is enjoying them. They taste a bit like Bourbons.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Wednesday 13/2/2013 Two by Two (105/365)


We went to the museum today, with new friends. Jenny who blogs at The Brick Castle and her fab boys #3 and #4. We had a lovely time even though the snow was tipping down again. Bud loves the huge Noah's Ark that we always find in the Art Gallery and all three boys spent quite a long time playing with it. 

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Tuesday 12/2/2013 Highchair (104/365)

Baby Girl Cosatto Noodle Highchair

Little Miss tried out our highchair for size today. I was busy in the kitchen when she woke up and was grumbling so I decided to get it out and sit her in it. It reclines so it supported her well.. She's a few weeks off weaning yet but I'm sure the sight of her in this will soon become all too familiar.

Dressing Up for Valentine's Day

I have to be honest, we're not really into making a fuss of Valentine's Day. We did pre-children when we could decide to go out at the drop of a hat but now we're a mummy and daddy, with a toddler and baby, this is much more difficult. We're going away this weekend with about fifteen family and friends so we're hoping to be able to slope off for a couple of hours and enjoy a little time to ourselves. My wardrobe is a little low on glamorous outfits at the moment so I've been window shopping online and think I may have found the perfect dress in New Look's selection of lace dresses.
I've found this beautiful Mela burgundy lace dress which is exactly the sort of shape I love, especially when I don't have to worry about feeding Little Miss. Once I found this dress I carried on browsing the website and found some lovely accessories that I would love to team with the dress. I've put together a Polyvore board to show you exactly how I would style the dress for the perfect Valentine's Day date.

New Look style for the Mela Burgundy Lace Dress

If you are off on an exciting evening out for Valentine's Day then have a wonderful time. If, like me, you're just having a cosy evening in, then I hope you enjoy what ever treats you have in store. New Look has a fantastic range of fashion available on their website and on the high street, I'm sure you would find the perfect outfit for any occasion there.

This post was brought to you in conjunction with New Look

Monday, 11 February 2013

Monday 11/2/2013 New Boiler (103/365)


A boring photo today but one that is a source of great happiness for me! We finally have heating again, our home is warm and I can stop worrying about my children being cold. Result!

A Car-Free Family

This weekend saw our courtesy car return to the hire company following our Renault Megane being written off and us start our life as a car-free family. I've decided to try and be positive about it and I'm not going to say 'without a car' or 'no car', we're going to be 'car-free!'

So far it hasn't been too bad. We've had a week of family birthdays and have been picked up by relatives to go out for two meals. My Brother had a get together for his birthday on Saturday night and we got a taxi for that. We would probably have done that anyway as Red Rose Daddy was planning to have a couple of beers.
Small boy toddler Little Tikes Cozy Coupe
At least Bud still has wheels

We're going away this weekend with the extended family and, luckily, enough cars are going that we will be able to get a lift, I didn't fancy getting the train with all our luggage and two children but of course we would have done if necessary. In the week it won't actually make masses of difference to me as I don't drive. The car used to sit outside the house all week as RRD gets the train to and from work. It is at the weekends where we will miss the ability to just hop in the car and go out. We won't be able to just pop round and see my parents as we usually do.

Our house is in a perfect spot to be without a car, we have a small town centre, doctor's surgery, library, toddler group, country park and three playgrounds all within walking distance. We also have my partner's parents and brother and his family within two streets. We don't need a car and it is a luxury for us but it is one that we have become accustomed to. I'm sure that when we can afford to get a replacement vehicle and do so that we will appreciate it much more than we did previously

I'm going to continue to blog about our car-free family life, wish us luck!



Sunday 9/2/2013 Sleep (102/365)

Baby girl asleep sleeping white sleepsuit onesie

Saturday 9//2/2013 Train Set (101/365)

Small boy toddler train set play


The Mama-licious Feed Me Dress

As part of my role as a guest blogger for More4Mums I am pleased to be able to review the Mama-licious Feed Me Dress. Dresses are always tricky to wear while breastfeeding. Many of my favourite dresses are not suitable to wear while nursing as they need me to get undressed when Little Miss is hungry. As I'm a huge fan of wearing dresses I was eager to put this one through it's paces. The dress is available in Black and Midnight Blue. I try not to wear too much black as it really doesn't suit me - I'm too pale - so I was pleased to choose the Midnight Blue dress.

Mamalicious Feed Me Dress from More4Mums in Blue

I am not a natural model so please excuse the terrible photo! I hope you can see the dress well. The dress works with a moveable panel in the 'V' shape of the neckine. You simply move the upper layer one way and the lower panel the other and this allows you to feed discretely. The dress is made from good quality jersey which has plenty of stretch. It holds you in but also allows you to move freely while wearing it. I really love the sleeve length as it allows me to show off my skinny wrists (I know, I know but you have to find the positives in your appearance and go with them) and wear a great bangle or bracelet too.

Mamalicious Feed Me Dress Midnight Blue from Made4Mums

I found the dress really comfortable to wear and it was extremely easy to feed Little Miss while wearing it. I did need a muslin to cover my modesty in public but, compared to having to undress to use some of my existing dresses, that was just fine. I would usually use some kind of cover anyway. I've worn this dress a few times now, both for casual days and on two occasions for formal meals. It is extremely easy to dress up or down and is a really adaptable item for my wardrobe. When you are breastfeeding it can be difficult to find clothes which work formally but this has been perfect for a couple of family celebrations that I have attended in the last few weeks.

I've been using Polyvore to pull together a couple of boards to show you how easy it is to style this dress for different occasions. I've worn my dress with scarves around my neck and I thought I would incorporate this into the boards too. As many breastfeeding mums will know it can be difficult to wear necklaces with a feeding baby grabbing them so scarves are a great alternative to these. I also love a great scarf because I can use it as an impromptu cover for feeding if needed, simply by untying or unwinding it. As mentioned before the three quarter length sleeve gives you the chance to show a fantastic bangle or bracelet and I've added one to each look.

My first look is a smart one. This is the way I'd style this dress for a meal out or for an occasion which calls for formal wear. The shoes are from Matalan and are already in my wardrobe and I wore these today with my Mama-licious dress when we went out to dinner to celebrate my Mum's birthday.

Mama-licious Feed Me Dress Styled Smart

The second shows a weekend look. This is an outfit I'd love to put together for a day out with my little family. Lunch out and a little shopping, or a trip to the museum with them. I love the scarf and the bag in this set and would love to wear this all together!


Mama-licious Breastfeeding Dress Weekend look

It can be difficult to find good value items which are suitable for nursing, often they can be very expensive and, with a limited lifespan it can put a mum off. This dress retails for only £27:99 at More4Mums which I think is excellent value for money. You could continue to wear this after stopping feeding too as it isn't obviously a nursing dress, it is simply a stylish, great looking dress. 

Disclaimer: I received this dress free of charge to review as part of my role as a Made 4 Mums Guest Blogger but the thoughts and opinions expressed are all my own. 

Friday, 8 February 2013

Friday 8/2/2013 Please Mummy? (100/365)

Friday 8/2/2013 Please Mummy? (100/365)

'Please Mummy, I just want the camera. Please Mummy.' Bud was determined that he was going to play with my camera today. I wasn't prepare to let him so we dug out his Kiddizoom  vTech camera and he played with that instead.

Chinese New Year Snake Puppets

I tend to rely on Pinterest for craft inspiration and hardly ever come up with my own ideas but last night I was thinking about Chinese New Year and the Year of the Snake and came up with the idea of making snake puppets with Bud. I was inspired by the way that the Chinese dragons dance and I wanted to replicate that movement with our puppet.

How to Make Chinese New Year Snake Puppets

You will need:
Paper
Scissors
Crayons, pencil crayons or pens
Decorations
Glue
2 Drinking Straws
Sticky tape
Get your supplies ready Chinese New Year Snake Puppets

First, cut a strip of paper to how long you would like your snake to be. Ours was about 50cm long and about 8cm deep. I'd suggest not making it too long as you want to make sure that the straws will hold the weight of the decorated snake. We decorated using stamps, coloured pens, crayons, pompoms and foam pieces.

Decorating Chinese New Year Snake Puppets

When Bud was finished we added a foam tongue and a sparkly flower eye.

Completed Chinese New Year Snake Puppets

When you've finished decorating your snake you need to fix the drinking straws to the back of your puppet so you can make it move. I did this by turning the snake over and sticking one a few centimetres from each end of the snake.

Affix the straws Chinese New Year Snake Puppets

Once you've done this you should be able to hold your snake up using the straws and make him move by moving your hands backwards and forwards.

Ready to move Chinese New Year Snake Puppets

While you aren't playing with your puppet you can stick the ends of the straws into blu-tac and it will stand up on it's own (as seen in the top photo). Ours is currently inhabiting the mantlepiece where Bud will no doubt show it to anyone who comes into the house for the next few days!

We talked a bit about China and the new year while we made our snake. At two and three quarters Bud can't quite understand but he was interested in talking about all the different animals of the Chinese calendar.