Smarter Living with Churchill

19:56 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Technology is now a part of every home in the country. From popping on the kettle for your morning cup of tea to setting your alarm clock in the evening for tomorrow's wake up call it's something we take for granted and is a huge part of life.

Churchill know how important technology is to today's family and have produced a Guide to Smarter Living which aims to help you to to make the most of technology in your home, with some suggestions for great new products to help with this. Each room in the home is profiled with some amazing new gadgets which aim to save you time and make your life easier. It's not just advertising either, each product is showcased with a video review from a blogger to give you a 'real person's' opinion on it.

Smarter Living Guide with Churchill

I've been touring the site and I've added a few of the gadgets to my virtual shopping list. I've seen a few wifi kettles reviewed now and I love the idea of being able to set it off from a nice warm bed in the morning. That would definitely be an incentive to get up! Emily from A Mummy Too reviews the iKettle in the guide and I'd definitely recommend checking out her video if you're in the market for one of these devices.

I think my favourite piece of technology from the guide is the Philips Hue Lighting. Good lighting is incredibly important - the right lighting can relax, energise and generally make your home a warmer and more comfortable place to be. It would be amazing to be able to control this from my smartphone, making sure you never have to come home to a dark house again. If you teamed this with the Hive Active Heating System your house could be toasty warm too!

Churchill are launching a competition tomorrow (22nd January) to offer visitors to the Smarter Living Guide the chance to win a brand new iPhone 6. Great for running all of those apps which link up to the featured gadgets.  Simply click on the little iPhone at the top of the screen to enter.

Which gadgets make your life easier?

Featured Post

Trunki ToddlePak for Travelling Toddlers

18:16 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

LM is something of a force of nature and a fierce believer in getting to do what she wants to do, when she wants to. Recently this has led to a firm opinion that walking everywhere is the way to travel and that she's far too grown up to use her pushchair. As she's not overly keen on holding hands while walking, and with two school runs per day along busy roads to negotiate, this has been something of a problem. Thankfully Trunki came to our rescue when they sent us their brand new ToddlePak to try out.

I've never been a fan of the old style 'reins' and never needed anything like that for Bud. LM is a whole different kettle of fish and I'd actually started to look at reins and alternatives prior to being offered the ToddlePak opportunity. It really was perfect timing and I was very keen to see exactly what she would make of it.

We chose the Purple ToddlePak, with an eye catching purple and orange and an owl featured (at least we think it's an owl, it has been the topic of some debate!) With another baby on the way I was keen to ensure we chose a neutral shade which would work if the next baby is a boy. While there are bright blue and pink designs available, the vast majority of the range is in the typical Trunki funky, bright colours, each with their own animal design.

Trunki ToddlePak Purple

The ToddlePak is made from thick canvas which forms a bib like harness for your child. This is fully breathable so you won't have to worry about your child getting too warm while wearing it. You place their arms and head into it and then tighten it up at the rear. I must confess that I was a bit confused as to how I was going to make the ToddlePak fasten on LM's back when I first opened it but, with an 'aaaaah' it all became clear and I found myself grinning at the very clever design. I was expecting buckles and slides to adjust the fit but, instead, it works with simple velcro. At the rear of the ToddlePak you lift up the canvas to find two velcro straps on the waist, one on each side, which can be lifted and moved to ensure a comfortable fit. You can also adjust at the back to make sure the straps sit properly. This makes it so simple to do and means that you can adjust the fit dependent on what your child is wearing quite easily. It's super clever and a typical design feature of those clever people at Trunki.  I find it easiest to pop the ToddlePak on LM and adjust it rather than trying to do it in advance. The ToddlePak fastens with a really secure plastic mechanism, this was a little stiff to begin with but is much easier now we've been using the ToddlePak for a few weeks. Here is the only issue with the ToddlePak, in that the release buttons for the back buckle are exactly where you automatically place your hands to fasten it. That's only a small problem though and you quickly learn to hold it in a different way to close the buckle.

Trunki ToddlePak Purple

I was unsure what LM would make of the ToddlePak. She hates to be fastened in to her car seat and pushchair - she's the child who starts trying to free her arms the instant you fasten her in - but I think she immediately realised that wearing the ToddlePak lead to the freedom to walk and was very happy to wear it. The included rein can be used in two ways - as a training rein for early walkers which is shorter and allows the adult to help with balance if needed, and then as a leading rein for more able walkers like LM. This sees two leads join in to one and the adult hold it by a convenient handle. We haven't tried the training rein on LM as she walks well but I think it would be very effective for younger children who need a little extra help from their adult.

Trunki ToddlePak

The ToddlePak has become a regular feature of our walks and, as soon as LM hears we are going out she will run to find it. She even tries to put it on herself, with no small amount of success!  Bud thinks it's great to hold the handle on it on quieter roads and it's really sweet to see him helping his Sister. It's given me much more piece of mind when walking with a determined toddler, especially as I start to slow down as my pregnancy advances and I can see us using it for a good few months more, and I'll definitely be using it with baby three from first steps onwards.

Trunki ToddlePak Purple

At £17:99 I think that the Trunki ToddlePak is an excellent design and one that has changed my opinion on toddler reins. It's been admired so many times by other parents and adults and I can often be found waxing lyrical about the great design and how clever it is. In fact a couple of friends have bought them for their toddlers since seeing ours. I really can't fault it and it's exactly the excellent product we've come to expect from Trunki.

Disclosure: We received the ToddlePak for review purposes.

Tips for Showering Toddlers with Cussons Mum & Me Ultra Mild Head to Toe Wash - #VoiceofMums

14:33 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of the Cussons Mum & Me range and have been so ever since they launched during my pregnancy with LM. I found it hard to find lovely pregnancy products so when I spotted their Bump range, at a much more reasonable price than many pregnancy ranges, I snapped up a few products to pamper my bump with. I've used the Bump, Baby and New Mum ranges ever since, I'm definitely a Cussons Mum.

One of our favourite products has always been the Ultra Mild Head to Toe Wash. We only have a shower in our house so any product I use on Bud and LM has to be easy to use, gentle, cleansing and smell great. This product ticks all of those boxes. It's kind to eyes and can be used from head to toe, another plus point when dealing with slippery children in the shower!  I love the pump action dispenser which means I can use one hand to grab enough product to easily wash my child without having to grapple with wet bottles and lids. It's super easy.

Cussons Mum & Me Ultra Mild Head to Toe Wash

Cussons Mum & Me Ultra Mild Head to Toe Wash is really kind to my children's skin. Both of my two have experienced dry skin and this doesn't seem to aggravate it at all. It also contains Camomile which is said to relax, great for evening showers and baths. It smells absolutely lovely and, after a shower and getting them ready for bed, I love the scent of the wash on their hair and skin. I think it feels and smells like a much more expensive product than the around £3 it usually costs me to buy the 500ml bottle.

I thought I would share a few tips for easy showering for those who might be a bit daunted by the idea of not having a bath for little ones. When mine were tiny we used a baby bath and they still love a splash in the bath at Grandparents or when we are away but, at four and two, both of mine enjoy their showers too.
  • For babies who have outgrown their baby bath but are still needing support then the bath chairs, like this one from Safety First or bath supports, like this one from Angelcare, can be invaluable. It's really useful to know your child is supported and a free hand is always useful when trying to wash them quickly.
  • As your child gets older it can still be tricky to maintain their balance in the water. We use a Pourty Up Step Stool in our shower for LM to sit on and it's the perfect height for her to perch on while we wash her hair.
  • Two people helps! We tend to 'tag team' our two so Ian washes one of them in the shower, usually LM first, then passes her to me to dry and dress her while he washes Bud. This way neither of them are waiting to get dry and running the risk of getting cold.
  • Another thing that helps with this is having towels that they can wear. Hooded poncho style towels start to dry them as soon as they put them on and can help to keep them warm, especially useful if you're showering them on your own.
  • Try to get your children used to having water on their faces as soon as you can, it's unavoidable in a shower and it makes life much easier if they are used to it from their baby days.
  • Embrace the toys. It's water. Even if they don't have a bath to float their toys in they can still use bath toys in the shower. Games like filling and emptying can be even more fun with a stream of flowing water. Toys like the Nuby Splish Splash Stacking Cups are great fun for this.
  • Get all of your products, flannels, sponges etc ready before you start. You don't want to have to leave them for a second while they are in the shower and this will make it much easier. Pump dispensers are a must (just like on the Cussons bottle).

Cussons have teamed up with a group of mums to make a fun video which really sums up bathtime, as part of their ongoing #VoiceofMums campaign. It takes a much loved nursery rhyme and changes it to reflect the fun and games of getting your children clean, whether that's in the bath, or the shower. Have a look below, I guarantee it will make you smile.

Do you have any tips for making bath or shower time easier with little ones?

Disclosure: I received Cussons products to help with this post.

Weebledown Farm Wobbily Farm, Mill and Barn

12:36 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I have fond memories of Weebles, they were a favourite toy when I was a child and one I was keen to share with Bud and LM when they came along. I still remember the 'Weebles wobble but they don't fall down' catchphrase and the fun I used to have with them. In the last couple of years the Weebles have seen a resurgence in popularity with their licensing by Character Toys and new ranges featuring Peppa Pig and now, Weebledown Farm.

Weebledown Farm is a brand new range and one that we first spotted in a New Year trip to one of our local toy stores. The eyecatching range of toys is brand new and, having spotted it, I knew LM would love them. We were recently sent the main toy from the selection - the Wobbily Farm, Mill and Barn - and I was keen to see what she thought of it.

Weebledown Farm Wobbily Farm, Mill and Barn

The Weebledown Farm toy include the Wobbily Farm, Mill and Barn set, Wobbily Tractor and Farmer, six different farm animal Weebles which sit on individual pieces of grass and fencing, and three more animals which have their own little vehicle which can be attached to the Tractor. Both Bud and LM are huge fans of farm toys and I knew that they would react well to the Weebles taking up residence in that 'world'.

The Wobbily Farm, Mill and Barn play set is a one piece farm house with additional features of a windmill, slide and roundabout. Included with the building is a Weeble who cannot be bought separately, if you would like to own Rusty the Rooster then you need to buy this set. Straight away I liked this as, with so many character driven ranges you find yourself buying play sets with the same character included over and over again (I'm especially looking at a certain blue engine here), having a unique character included makes me, for one, much more likely to buy a play set.

Rusty the Rooster is a lovely addition to this set. He's rather larger than Weebles from the older style range but this makes him easy to grab for small hands. He's very tough and sturdy and has withstood a good amount of play over the last few days (including being dropped from toddler height) without a scratch. The Weebles are nicely decorated with warm, fun expressions and LM really likes him. I even caught her trying to take him to bed with her the other night.

Weebledown Farm Wobbily Farm, Mill and Barn Rusty the Rooster

The Farm, Mill and Barn set is a really robust toy. It measures 35 x 21 x 27.5cm so is a good size for toddler play. I really liked that the design of it is carried all the way around the set which makes it easier for two little ones to play together. There are five main ways of interacting with it -

  • Sliding your Weeble down the big slide which is the central feature 
  • Placing a Weeble on top of the Mill and pressing the milk churn tower to make the windmill sails turn and the Weeble spin around.
  • Putting a Weeble on the weather vane and turning it by hand
  • Sitting a Weeble on the roundabout at the bottom of the slide (you will also find that Weebles which slide down the slide land on this) and pressing the milk churn again to make the roundabout turn.
  • Perch him on the hay bale at the front of the set.
Weebledown Farm Wobbily Farm, Mill and Barn Rusty the Rooster

LM got to grips very quickly with this toy. She really enjoyed the different ways to interact with it and has found it very engaging. She has played with it every day since it arrived and I definitely think that we may add a couple more of the Weeble animals to make it even more interesting for her. I have in mind that they may make a cute little Easter treat, especially if we choose one of the sheep or chicken Weebles! With prices starting at £4:99 it is possible to add to this range with pocket money savings. Bud has played with it with his Sister but, at nearly five, there wasn't much here to keep his attention and he tired of it after working out exactly what it did and how. I would say that the age range of 18m+ is perfect for this toy and I would say it would hold the attention of children aged up to around three or three and a half.

The Wobbily Farm, Mill and Barn Playset retails at £29:99 which I do think is on the expensive side, that said, LM has really loved this toy and I think that, as the basis for a collection of farm toys that can be added to in future it is reasonable value for money. I can't see us being able to walk past the Weebledown Farm range in our local toy shop on our next visit without adding a new friend for Rusty the Rooster.

Weebledown Farm toys are available from Character Online and all good toy stores.

Disclosure: We received this toy for review purposes.

ASDA George Home Wooden Play Pirate Ship and Farm Play Set

15:06 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We love wooden toys in our house and, given the choice between wood and plastic, we will always opt for the former. It's so much more tactile and feels more 'substantial' than the latter and I love how they look just as much as I do the fun my children have with them. We've amassed a fair collection of wooden toys and I spotted ASDA's George Home Wooden Toys range when they were launched a few months ago, in fact we purchased the George Home Wooden Dolls' House Furniture Set for LM for Christmas as her grandparents were buying a dolls' house for her At £15 for a set of over twenty pieces it's been a great buy and one that has been played with lots since it's arrival at Christmas. We also bought the George Home Wooden Dolls' Pram for my niece and she's been very pleased to push her dollies around in it. This was well priced at £25 too.

ASDA Wooden Play Dolls House Furniture and Pram

We were offered the opportunity to review some of the other toys in the excellent range of toys and decided to opt for the George Home Wooden Pirate Ship and George Home Wooden Farm Set. We actually have examples of both of these toys at home already but I knew my nephews and niece would love the chance to make the most of them.

ASDA George Home Wooden Play Pirate Ship

So first up is the Wooden Pirate Ship. This comes in quite a large box, to accommodate the ship's hull (in one piece), you then have to assemble the masts and rigging yourself. I would say it took me around twenty minutes to build it and it was an easy process, helped by clear instructions and no need for tools.

ASDA George Home Wooden Play Pirate Ship

The ship includes two pirates, a treasure chest and cannon ready for some swashbuckling adventures and you can remove the masts and rigging and store them in the body of the ship to put them away easily. This is a great role play toy and one that children will have hours of fun with. At £25 it's really competitively priced compared to some other wooden pirate ships and represents excellent value for money. It is less complex than some other ships on sale but your child could always graduate to a more complex ship if their interest persists, this is a great 'entry level' example of a pirate ship. The price point reflects this but it's a great toy for the specified 3+ age range.

ASDA George Home Wooden Play Pirate Ship

Next up is the Wooden Farm Set which was my favourite of the two toys we received. This has a really clever design allowing your child to pack it all up and take their toy with them using the roof's design as a convenient carrying handle.

ASDA George Home Wooden Play Pirate Ship and Farm Play Set

Upon receiving the farm I knew that major assembly would be required, it's sent flat packed so the first order was to check all the pieces were present and then start the build. You will need a Philips' screwdriver to screw all of the pieces together. The main structure of the farm is formed with six pieces which need to be screwed together. The instructions for this were clear but be sure to check you have each piece the right way around before starting to construct, this was helped by clear labelling too. I took the assembly slowly and would say it took around forty minutes to complete. The final 'side' of the house is the front, which slides in and out allowing you to store the additional play pieces inside.  This piece has a really clever design with the farmhouse front on one side and a garden on the other, simply lie the garden down in front of the house and you have a ready made play set.

ASDA George Home Wooden Play Pirate Ship and Farm Play Set

The additional play pieces are really lovely with a cow, pig, horse and dog, farmer, tractor, wooden fences and tools included. It really is a ready made play set to allow your children lots of imaginative fun. The age range for this starts at three which is spot on I feel. It's a lovely set for an older toddler and the ability to carry it with you adds an extra fun dimension. I'd expect to pay quite a bit more for this set and I think £20 is excellent value for money.

ASDA George Home Wooden Play Pirate Ship and Farm Play Set

The full ASDA George Home range includes a kitchen, shop and many more items. Check out the following blog posts to see some other reviews of them:
Wooden Play Shop & Cafe and Cash Register - We're Going on an Adventure
Wooden Car Transporter - What the Redhead Said
Wooden 2 in 1 Hob and Grill -  Mardy Kerrie

Disclosure: We received these toys for review purposes. All opinions are my own

Red Rose Baby - 20 Weeks Update

13:35 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I've been meaning to update more regularly during my pregnancy but the last six weeks or so have been really challenging. LM and Bud were both poorly and I've been struggling with bugs, a persistent water infection and pregnancy nausea which has floored me a lot of the time. Christmas has been a factor too and I've found the whole period exhausting. At my most recent (18 weeks) midwife appointment I was instructed to rest. She said she would have signed me off work if I was working outside the home so Ian banned me from the blog, hence the radio silence. Obviously Christmas with two under fives is quite an exciting time but I did have a lot of rest with Ian off work and then lots of quiet, PJ days playing with new toys when he was in work between Christmas and New Year. The infection seems to have cleared now and we all seem to finally be free of the colds that have been plaguing us. LM, in particular, was poorly for about three weeks and when she's feeling under the weather only Mummy will do. I think she sat snuggled on my lap for the whole time she was unwell!

2015 saw us attending the anomaly scan, at 20 weeks and 4 days. All was well and we had a trainee sonographer (who was lovely and strangely familiar, both Ian and I recognised her from somewhere) and her supervisor so saw lots of the baby in an unhurried scan. Everything is as it should be, thank goodness and, whilst we don't know the baby's sex we both suspect baby 3 is a little boy. When taking the abdominal circumference the sonographer asked if my other children were big babies so it looks like I have another bruiser on board. The measurement is large but 'within normal ranges'. I don't yet have my personalised growth chart but I'm thinking that this measurement will be right for my 'usual' baby size.

I was hoping that the nausea I have been suffering had abated as I had a few days clear of it over Christmas but it was back with a vengeance on the school run yesterday. I'm actually starting to think that this is school run sickness rather than pregnancy! Pushing the pram does seem to exacerbate matters and the morning rush is definitely worse, although the nausea is there in the afternoons too. It's really unpleasant and tiring to constantly be fighting the sickness although I rarely actually vomit. 

We've finally told Bud and LM that the baby is on it's way and Bud is super excited!  He has a million questions to ask and has told everyone he has seen since he found out. He has taken the scan photo from yesterday into school this morning for show and tell so I'm sure that his classmates are being kept fully informed too! Obviously he wants to know when baby will arrive and, at the moment, we are telling him 'after his birthday'. Twenty weeks is a long time to wait for a four year old! LM seems faintly amused by talk of a baby and generally just goes to get her dolly when it is mentioned. Although she is older than Bud was when I was pregnant with her, her speech delay seems to mean that we don't really know how much of it she is taking in. We've bought a few new baby books to read with them though and, as usual, she understands far more than we realise.

Tomorrow I have my first consultant appointment. This has been booked because of my history of big babies and the PPH I suffered after LM's birth. I already have a Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) booked although I wasn't diabetic during LM's pregnancy. I think they will probably book some additional growth scans, as I've had before. I don't know if I will get to discuss my delivery options at this appointment. My Community Midwife said I won't be allowed a water birth and I will probably have to be cannulated. I'm hoping to avoid this if necessary but, obviously, will take the recommendations of the medical team. I'm not sure I know how to give birth on land!

I've recently started to wear maternity clothes and have been sent some beautiful pieces from Bibee Dresses which have been perfect over the festive period. So comfortable and easy to wear, but looking great too. More on them in a full review post coming soon. I do need to pick up some more bits and definitely some maternity bras. Time to (gently) hit the sales I think.

I also need to start working on my bump photography, I think this one might be the first I've ever taken! Bump feels quite small to me but it's hard to accurately remember the other two.

20 weeks pregnant, baby three