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See posts about: // Isabelle // Parenting // Family //

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Facebook newsfeed mummy overload!

It struck me the other day how much my Facebook Newsfeed has changed over the last few months. I vaguely remember before Isabelle was born it was made up of status updates/photos/shared things from people I used to go to school/university/camp/work with.

Now, I can't even find those people amongst my mummy bits! From mummy friends, to mummy pages, and my 'crunchy' pages, the posts come thick and fast from all. For example right now (it's 9.30pm on Friday night, and yes I know how sad that is!) the first 10 things on my feed are:

1// an update on a post on the NI Cloth Bums page
2// a picture of a friend's ADORABLE little lady in her pram going for a walk with the biggest smile!
3// a old school friend post
4// a post on a slings page
5// a Baby Sensory Belfast update
6// a friend's shared post
7// a post one of my mummy groups
8// a Cheeky Wipes update
9// a cloth nappy selling page post
10// a picture of a delicious looking cake made by a wondermum from my breastfeeding group (seriously, she has 2 littles, a job AND time to bake?!)



So 8/10 are mummy/mummy lifestyle related. I'm not sure when this happened, but it certainly means my Facebook is never quiet! Going on to find 24 notifications every time I log in from the various mummy groups I'm part of, and trying to keep up with all my new 'mummy friends' is exhausting sometimes!

What does make me laugh at times though is that most of this activity happens in the evening, and very little during the day - obviously once our little ones are safely in bed we all jump straight on Facebook! Even as I type this blog post the computer is pinging with more and more notifications!

If you want to look at it another way, I'm pretty damn lucky to have such a great group of new mum and baby groups, and friends, to share my new lifestyle with!

Friday, 27 September 2013

What's in my trolley?!

A while ago I did a post about packing for a trip with Isabelle to England, and what was in our suitcase. Since this week's posts have all been very personal/family centred, I thought I would do a post which gives a little insight into our every day lives...what I buy at the supermarket.

Now, I know that sounds immensely dull. But I bet you read on anyway, and I bet that you actually enjoy having the chance to nosey in someone else's weekly shop! I know that I am always interested - and often amazed - at what I see other people buy, and it makes you wonder sometimes what people get up to at home!

Our weekly shop usually comes in at around £50-60, although last week it was a pretty mammoth £70 as we needed lots of cupboard essentials which we seemed to run out of all at once! I ALWAYS shop in Tesco, and we usually end up with loads of vouchers from their Clubcard reward system which always helps bring our bill down. I also plan what meals we are going to have each week before I go shopping, and that helps me write a list of what we need, so I don't end up buying loads of things that won't be used.

After years of making fun of my sister-in-law for writing her shopping list in the order she will find things in the supermarket, I must admit I am a total convert and always do the same now!

So here was last week's shop, unpacked and ready to be put away once I got home:

I'm pretty proud to say that at least 75% of what we buy goes into the fridge (or to be frozen), and we buy very few 'processed' things like ready meals, ready made sauces etc. There is a tub of ready made pasta sauce in there that I grabbed for dinner that night - and then wished I hadn't bothered. It looked  great, but in reality was just the same as any sauce we usually make ourselves!

A lot of what I buy is fruit and veg - this week there was pineapple, melon, potatoes, peppers, onions, mushrooms, leeks, grapes and sweet potato. We don't eat a huge amount of meat - there is steak that I made for Simon's birthday and some chicken breast underneath that, simply because I don't like meat. We have it with most meals, but usually just have chicken, which is something I'm sure Simon wishes he could change! 

Every week I buy yoghurts, milk, fruit juice, eggs, cereal, cheese and usually some bread as well. We get through so much juice in particular, and I always buy the not from concentrate, chilled juice. It's expensive, but tastes so much nicer (and is 1 of our 5 a day!).

This week I spent a lot of time chasing down various condiments - mayo, salad cream, soy sauce, sweet chilli - which will last us for a while, and which all magically ran out within a few days of one another! 

It's pretty scary actually that that little group of bits and bobs cost us £70. I really understand why some families who live on a tight budget can't afford to eat lots of fresh fruit and veg, or great quality meat, as that is definitely were the bulk of our money goes. If I needed to keep costs down, I would head for the freezer aisles for ready meals/processed food as money seems to get you much more there.

So there you go - a little nosey into our lives. Shopping day again today...and since we have visitors this weekend, and are 'catering' Isabelle's baptism party for the family, it'll be a big one! 


Thursday, 26 September 2013

Two Days of Two under Two

You may have read my post last week about looking after my nephew as he began his potty training. Well, as I mentioned, after looking after him one day that week, last week, I was charged with looking after Jacob for two days (so I must have done an OK job the first time round!). And so life with 2 under 2 began... (Technically, Jacob is 2 and a quarter, so two under two isn't quite right, but it's not far wrong!)

On Thursday, Jacob arrived at 8am at my house, not long after Isabelle and I had gotten up. Luckily, as I mentioned last week, Jacob is a very good boy, and he and Isabelle seem to amuse one another pretty well. Unfortunately, this day, Jacob was not in his finest form. Since he is half made up of genes from my family, this is NOT a good thing! A moody Gray is not something to be reckoned with - and a moody toddler Gray is even worse! To add insult to injury, the weather was not great, which meant we couldn't do much outside as we almost got blown away when we tried.

That said, the day didn't go too badly overall. In the morning, Jacob helped me get Isabelle washed and dressed, and helped me change her nappy - getting in lots of practise for when his new sibling arrives in just a few weeks! He loved using the wipes to help me 'clean' Isabelle's bottom, and was convinced he could see poo everywhere, so spent more time dabbing at her feet than anything! They had lots of cuddles throughout the day, and other than that, Jacob spent some time reading through a toy magazine (coveting the 'Scooby Dooby Doo' toys).



Before lunchtime, I decided to relocate to my parents' house for a change of scenery for us all, and unbelievably BOTH babies fell asleep in the car on the way there. This meant I managed to get a nice quiet cup of tea in, before Miss Isabelle was awake again. Jacob slept for an hour and a half (almost a miracle in his case!) and the only massive mishap of the day accompanied this. Since it's only a 7 minutes journey from my house to my parents, I didn't put any pull ups on him. So he was in pants. Imagine how soaked the poor boy was when he woke up from that nap! And imagine his car seat...!



At lunchtime, I became more glad than ever to be a baby wearer, as Isabelle decided Jacob's lunchtime was her nap time, so in an attempt to manhandle two grumpy bums, I had her in her wrap (asleep soundly) and him at the table munching on toast and Bob the Builder spaghetti. This was followed by him demanding I push him up and down the driveway in his buggy - which would have been impossible if I didn't have Isabelle snugly wrapped on my front, giving me both hands free.



Some more cuddles later, and a bit of shouting which upset Jacob so much that it was the first thing he told his mummy on her return home, and the day was over without any MAJOR incidents.



So, despite Jacob's bad mood, and the awful weather, we all survived. I was glad that Simon had the next day off to help out though, especially as Uncle Simon is considered much more fun and interesting than strict auntie Sawah! While Izzy and I went to Baby Sensory, the boys went blackberry picking, before we all had lunch and took the dogs for a walk.

Here's my favourite picture from the two days - it captures the love these two little cousins already have for each other, and the fondness they can show one another when the mood strikes them both. And it makes me sure than when he becomes a big brother, Master Jacob will do the most marvellous job.


Review: Sudocrem Skin Care Cream

Sudocrem and babies bottoms are pretty synonymous in most people's minds. We can't actually use Sudocrem as a nappy cream as it isn't compatible with cloth nappies, but I know that many people who use disposables swear by it. Simon's family always seem to have a tub of it handy...and I wasn't terribly sure why.

Until now. Sudocrem isn't just for babies bottoms - it's fast becoming a new "must have" for skin care as well. So much so that Sudocrem have now brought out a hand-bag sized tube of skin care cream, which is similar to the normal Sudocrem cream, with a few slight adjustments to make it even more perfect for using as part of your skin care routine.



It's uses range from healing sunburn, to soothing dry skin, and even to help clear up spot prone skin. This is what I found most intriguing about the little tube I was sent to try, as I've always been really prone to spots.

Sure enough, not long after receiving the tube, a spot began to appear. After my normal cleanse, tone, moisturise at night, I popped a bit of the Sudocrem on (probably not best done before you head out as it's still as white as normal Sudocrem!) and sure enough, by the next morning, the spot had decided it wasn't worth the battle and disappeared. Since then, the cream has been safely stored beside my dailt skin care products for use whenever I need it.

There are so many products out there which claim to clear up spots. But Sudocrem Skin Care Cream costs just £2.11 for 30g, and it seemingly will last me forever as a little goes a long way! So along with it's other uses, I think it's safe to say that this little gem is a skin care essential - especially for mommas on the go.

Visit their website here, or follow Sudocrem on Facebook and Twitter

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Celebrating daddy's birthday

Yesterday, Isabelle and I helped Simon celebrate his 27th birthday, and his first since becoming a daddy. We always try to make our birthday a day for family anyway, so this year it was extra special having Isabelle join in our celebration. Simon took the day off work and, after a totally hectic few weeks, we just enjoyed the chance to spend some quality time together and relax as our little family.

I got the chance to use some of my new buttons and put my Pinterest pins to use when I (with Izzy's help of course!) made Simon's birthday cards, and I used another Pinterest idea when wrapping his gifts. His main gifts were some tickets to Russell Howard's tour next month, and the new Lightroom upgrade for his photography, then a few little bits and bob.
My handmade cards

Pinterest wrapping idea
We made pancakes for breakfast, got ready, and took all 4 dogs to the beach for a walk and a little picnic. Nothing major, nothing over the top (we're talking sandwiches and Lucozade, not champagne and strawberries!) but we enjoyed spending the day together. Isabelle was a little grumpy during her first beach outing - maybe something to do with the dogs constantly shaking on us?! It wasn't the nicest weather, but we wrapped up warm with Izzy in her sling, and at least it didn't rain! Back at home, I made Simon steak for tea, before we Skyped his parents and then watched the Great British Bake Off. We are very rock 'n' roll!

Not 100% sure of the beach at this point
Throwing the ball for the doggies
And this is possibly my new favourite photo of Isabelle...THAT FACE!! Totally ridiculous! She was loving the beach and daddy's birthday at this point! Those little chubby cheeks...



A lovely family day, and a chance to relax together before more madness this weekend as we host Isabelle's baptism - stay tuned for some pictures next week.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Review's Day Tuesday: Loubilou Children's Website

When I was recently approached to review the website Loubilou, I have to admit I had only heard of them once before, and had never checked the site out for myself. Loubilou is a bit like Not on the High Street - but everything on it is specifically for children. From clothing to toys, party games to furniture - whatever you need for your little angel is available here. You can get brand name items - such as Lamaze - but the majority of items are independently made, and many are available for personalisation. Loubilou has over 3000 items from some 300+ sellers, so there is something for everyone available.

The first thing I noticed when I logged on to the site was the 'category' button. This drop down menu easily allowed me to direct what I was looking for to the correct section. There is also a search tool which I made use of, and it worked really well at helping me narrow down my results. I hadn't a clue what I wanted to get Isabelle, so decided I would peruse each category and see what caught my eye. I started in "Baby/Accessories" and immediately loved that, as I scrolled down the page, there was no need to click on to the next page, or even chose "View all" as the next set of items load automatically once you reach the end. Why don't all websites offer this!? It's genius!

The categories were clear and it was easy to find the category I wanted to look at next based on what items I thought I might like to look at. There are enough categories to seperate all the goods out, but not too many to become confusing. My personal favourite was the "Party/Games" category, which is made up of everything you need to throw the perfect party! Such a clever idea to have this, and I'll definitely be back for Isabelle's birthday.

The choice of items is just unbelievable. Anything you want for a child or baby, you can find it here. The fact that so many items offer personalisation means that not only can you find something quirky and unique for your own little one, but it is perfect for an unusual gift for a friend or family member's baby. Here are some of my favourite items:



                                                         



After much deliberation, Simon and I settled on some Clemmy Soft Building Blocks and our old favourite, a Sophie the Giraffe bath toy. One criticism of the site I have is that for the items we bought, the images weren't particularly clear. I imagine sellers are responsible for their own images, but I wasn't impressed with the image for the building blocks in particular. Luckily, their description won us over.

Ordering was a breeze, and we paid with PayPal easily. I was quite shocked when I realised that because we were ordering 2 items and they were coming from 2 different sellers, we were being charged postage twice, which came to £6.90. The total for our order came just just over £25, so I personally think this is a lot for postage. If you decided to order a batch of gifts for Christmas or a birthday, you could end up with a huge shipping bill if all your goods come from different sellers.

The items arrived within a few days and were very high quality, and Isabelle has especially taken to the bath toy - especially as those old teeth are playing up again and it's great for chomping on.

Overall, I was really happy with my experience using Loubilou, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to anyone shopping for littles - especially in the run up to Christmas when sourcing unusual, unique and beautiful items isn't always easy. This way, you can find the perfect Christmas gifts for littles without having to trudge around the shops on Christmas Eve!

As well as the website, you can keep up to date with Loubilou via Facebook and Twitter, and follow their wonderful boards on Pinterest



Monday, 23 September 2013

Some rare baby cuddles...

Isabelle isn't a very "cuddly" baby. She LOVES her boob time, but generally she doesn't cuddle up if it isn't for boobs! She will sit with me while we chat, sing songs etc, but rarely just for a cuddle. Since she was very little, she's been quite independent, and often prefers to sit alone so she can watch what's going on around her rather than be hassled by her mother/father/granny etc!

So, today I've been enjoying some rare cuddles. The little lady has cuddled up on my chest a few times, sucking her thumb, and just snuggling in. It's been just delightful getting those special few moments with her.

Sadly, every silver lining has a cloud and for us, it's those pesky teeth! They are to blame for making her feel a bit sorry for herself, so while I'm enjoying the cuddles, the poor baby is feeling pretty rotten.

Still, I'll enjoy these moments while they are here, and this is much preferable to the yelling that has accompanied her sore gum days in the recent past!

And a recent picture of my little lady, who is 5.5 months now and more beautiful and wonderful every single day. Stay tuned for her 6 month update in the next few weeks (and our move towards weaning...)

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Review: Dettol with E45 Softness Handwash

Dettol and E45 are both well known brands, but not generally two which you hear of working together. However, they have recently joined forces to release a hand wash, combing the best of both worlds. The hand wash, available for £2.49 nationwide, comes in 3 'flavours' which are inspired by nature: Lotus Flower, Honey and Camomile.



As all mummies and pet owners will tell you, washing your hands numerous times a day is a necessity. As both a mummy to Isabelle and 2 dogs (and a cat) my hands are usually pretty filthy. The constant washing, and using wipes when changing Isabelle's nappies, has left my hands drier than they have ever been. I don't always remember to moisturise them either, so they have definitely been neglected over the last 5 months.

We try to keep hand wash beside all our sinks, and so when I received a sample of the Dettol with E45 Softness, it went straight into the kitchen. I was slightly skeptical about the hand wash as anything I have used in the past which claims to have 'built in moisturisation' never seems to do much. However, I did comment straight away to Simon after using the Lotus Flower version that I could FEEL it had left a protective, moisturising layer on my hands. No, my hands didn't feel like they had been thoroughly moisturised, but neither did they feel as dry as they usually do after washing, and I honestly didn't feel like I needed to moisturise them afterwards. Knowing my hands were 99.9% bacteria free when Isabelle next decided my finger was her favourite teether was great too.

Along with the hand wash, I also received a sample of the Dettol kitchen spray surface cleanser. This couldn't have come at a better time as we had just run out of our spray the night before! We have used the Dettol kitchen spray many times in the past, and are able to rest easy knowing our kitchen surfaces and table are always 99.9% bacteria free. Unlike other brands, this spray doesn't leave a foamy or soapy residue, and simply wipes away, cleaning and sterilising my surfaces beautifully.

I also received a pack of antibacterial cleansing wipes. I've never used the wipes before, but managed to open them that very day to clean one of the pram wheels, and they will be perfect for wiping down Isabelle's high chair tray, allowing her to eat directly off it without any fear of germs on her food.

All 3 Dettol products are available at a variety of stores nationwide.

Friday, 20 September 2013

My H&M recent buys

As we head into autumn, I realised that - as always - I need a few new bits to add to my wardrobe to help me get through the colder days. The most important thing for me at the minute is that any top I wear is easy for me to breastfeed in. I have a whole load of clothes in my wardrobe which I'm totally unable to wear because they aren't loose enough to pull up, have no buttons, are too high necked etc. Coupled with the fact that since I won't be working, I need a few casual things to throw on around the house and to keep me cosy as we head out with friends and to baby groups.

H&M has became a staple in the Jay wardrobes over the last few years. Both Simon and I frequently buy from there, and my post about Isabelle's autumn wardrobe featured lots of bits for the littlest Jay from H&M too. So, that is where I headed when I wanted a few extra bits to see me through the next few weeks.



The Parka (£29.99) has kept me nice and toasty already, and stood up against one heck of a rain shower too. Last winter I was far too pregnant to wear a coat, and to be honest, I HATE most coats and never buy one, so this was something a bit different for me. It's big enough to fit a chunky hoody under for days when it's extra cold, and will be great for running to and from the car with Izzy.

The jumpers (middle pic £19.99 and right £12.99) I bought to go with jeans when I'm out, and leggings when I'm at home. I sized up on both of them so they are nice and baggy for comfort and ease of feeding Isabelle. I actually got the second jumper in 2 shades (not shown) - green, and a pretty lurid pink, which looked a lot less neon/traffic cone in the shop. Maybe that one is a "at home" jumper only...

I love the first jumper so much I'm contemplating getting a few more in different colours. The only issue being that it sheds, and poor Isabelle spent most of the day when I wore it choking on bits of fluff!  But it's warm and toasty, and great for feeding her, especially when teamed with one of my trusty H&M nursing vests.

I think H&M are great for pretty cheap basics to top up any wardrobe - but because I am hardly a "yummy mummy" they make up the bulk of mine! We are due a catalogue any day now, and I know it will be well thumbed by the whole family to make sure we get some more warm and cosy bits to help us transition to winter.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

My dip into potty training

Not with Isabelle I must quickly add!

My sister in law works 3 days a week, so on Friday, Jacob usually spends the day with his beloved "Gandad" (his R still eludes him). However, 'Gandad' and 'Ganny' are currently on holiday so, last week, care of Jacob fell to (his much less beloved) auntie 'Sawah'. This is fine, as a few weeks ago I had him for half a day and, as Jacob is such a good boy and Isabelle is fascinated by him , it is no trouble at all to look after him. In fact, it's a joy to get to spend such quality time with my favourite little man. However, on Tuesday I received the news that Jacob had requested no more nappies, and was now officially moving on to potty training. Helen asked if that was OK with me, as I also have him two days this week. Of course, the last thing in the world I want to do is hold Jacob back, so I said yes, absolutely no problem! I have worked with lots of toddlers in the past, but the closest I've gotten to potty training is a few weeks after it's been started, when everything is pretty set in its way, and littles just need lots of reminders and trips to the bathroom. I've never yet had a hand in the actual early training of a little, so I was a little worried that I may have bitten off more than I could chew!

Jacob showing his cousinly love when Izzy was little(r)

Jacob arrived at 8am complete with at least 10 spare pairs of pants, lots of spare trousers, his potty, and his Smarties (One Smartie for each wee in the toilet or potty). I must say, he was a STAR throughout and has done a wonderful job of cracking this potty business. If only the same could be said for his totally incompetent auntie Sawah!

The first pee was a teeny accident, then he told me he still needed to go, so onto the potty, Smartie doled out. Yes, a quick change of pants and trousers were needed, but I was quite confident that we would get on OK after a pretty good start.

I pestered him non-stop asking did he need to wee, and he told me no, no, no until eventually, yes, he said he did. Unfortunately, I was feeding Isabelle at the time, so I only had one free hand to help him onto the potty...this didn't go well. I somehow misjudged his position, which I very quickly realised as his pee spread out round the potty! Not only that, but my poor positioning meant the poor pet had managed to get it all over his trousers, pants and his socks! Very much not his fault, so a Smartie for him, and his socks, pants and trousers off. I decided trousers were too much hassle, so just new pants went on. I apologised to him for my poor technique, and he agreed with me that I needed to "try my best".


Next time, having learnt my lesson, I was careful to lift him with both hands onto the potty. Despite a story of this happening to his Grandpa the day before, I forgot to hold his "firehouse" pointing downwards cue a spray of pee all over my knee, and his pants, before I came to my senses and pointed it downwards.  Pants off, and I decided these were also too much hassle, so after he received his Smartie, he had a great time opening my mail, and jumping on the bubble wrap from a parcel in just his top and vest.

All this toilet talk made me realise I needed to go, so Isabelle went into her bouncer, nakey boy was on the bubble wrap and I nipped off for a wee. On my return, Jacob was crouched beside his potty, looking sheepish and a little worried, standing in a huge puddle. I asked him if he had weed and he said yes, and he needed a towel. It was so clear that in my absence he had tried to get on to the potty on his own (and failed miserably), that he got his Smartie, and I got a telling off for not being there to help him! He had managed to soak his tops this time, so for a short while he was totally naked. It did take a towel to mop up his pee from the floor and my poor rug, and another discussion about how he was doing great, but I needed to "do my best" ensued, and he promised that if I managed to help him get all of one wee in the toilet or potty then I could have a Smartie too!

And that was all by 11.30am...

The terrible two...

Luckily, the afternoon went much more smoothly. We went to meet Simon for lunch so he wore some pull ups for the car journey, and we had a great time. You'll be very happy to hear I finally earned my Smartie after lunch, and not a single drop was spilt anywhere it shouldn't have been. Two successful wees later, and he was shipped off home with his mummy, who I think was secretly relieved to get him away from my total incompetence!

At the end of this week I have Jacob on Thursday and Friday, and am hoping that my skills have improved and, if only for the sake of my rug, I am able to help Jacob move one step closer to being totally potty trained. And hopefully by the time Isabelle's turn comes, I'll be quite competent in the whole endeavour!

Stay tuned next week to find out how I get on with days 2 and 3 of my adventures with 2...

How did you find potty training your little one? Anyone as totally useless as I am?!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Pram "porn" and my pram ideals

If 'pram porn' were an illegal activity, I would be in the slammer right now. I am obsessed with prams, and am always checking out other people's - even people I drive past. I am a total pram snob, but not for the most expensive, or the most exclusive brands...I have my very own set of likes and dislikes which lead me to conclude whether I like or dislike a pram almost immediately.

Since 2008, when I saw one on a school run during my time as a nanny in Norfolk, I have loved the Quinny prams - the Quinny Buzz in particular. My love intensified when my sister-in-law picked the Buzz for her first pram, and I got to use it (complete with my special pram walk!). It had everything I needed and wanted in a pram. And that's where my pram snobbery comes into effect. I have a very specific set of things I think a pram should be/have in order to be attractive to me.

* 3 wheels: I don't really know what it is about 4 wheelers that I dislike so much, since they make up the bulk of prams, but I just can't have them. I look at them and I see a boxy, square, bulky thing, like the Obaby Zezu (left).  Now, I will concede that some 4 wheelers do look better than others - the Uppababy Vista (right) would be my 4 wheeler of choice. I know that in reality, 3 wheelers are actually more bulky than 4 wheelers, but it's something I just can't get past.



* Black goes with everything: Coloured prams are not my cup of tea at all. I think the pink Oyster on the left is horrendous, and even the green Mamas and Papas Sola on the right just turns me off right away. I may be particularly boring on this point, and I know lots of people like to have something different, and bright and quirky for their little one, but it just is not for me. Unless you are a 'city slicker', I also think that it's hugely impractical to have a coloured pram. Ours is covered in muck from the country lanes, so black hides it well.


* Parent facing: if you have a pram that is not capable of being used parent facing, such as the many strollers on the market, I am just not interested. It is integral to me that I am able to face my baby. Luckily, almost all travel systems do allow this.

* Frame structure: Some buggies are just so WEIRD looking, and this is one thing that really makes me turn my nose up!


So, you may be asking yourself, does my Quinny Buzz meet all these requirements I appear to have? Well, after all that, I don't actually HAVE a Quinny Buzz. No, during my extensive pram research (to be honest with you, it was carried out before I was pregnant), I came across the Mothercare My3 pram. Think of it as the Tesco own brand version of the Buzz, and it's actually made by Quinny for Mothercare. A few reasons we chose it in the end:
* it came with everything included - carrycot, rain cover, cosy toes - we didn't need to buy anything else
* it's significantly cheaper than other, similar, prams
* although available in colours and 4 wheels, there is a black 3 wheeled version
* it can be parent facing, and also used with our Maxi-Cosi car seat

No, it isn't perfect. The shopping basket is a joke, and it is a 2 part fold, but I am so incredibly fussy about prams that this is as close as we are going to get. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I absolutely love it!

So there you have it, I am a total pram snob. But it's not the price tag or even the brand name that dos it for me - it's 100% based on looks. I know they say don't judge a book on it's cover, but when I see someone pushing a 4 wheeled, coloured, non-parent facing, weird framed buggy, I can't help but turn my nose up ever so slightly...

(Sorry to anyone who owns one of the aforementioned prams!)

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Reviews Day Tuesday: Ozeri Turtlemeter

Bath time is one of Izzy's favourite times of day. She usually baths every other night and, as soon as she's in, she lies back and relaxes. If she has gotten over tired and is having a mini meltdown, and needs to chill out before bed, we pop her in the bath and all is well.  She's just taken to sucking her thumb while in there to add to her relaxation!

I still remember the trauma of Izzy's first bath (for me) and although Simon takes charge at bath time, I am still nervous of everything from her jumping around too much and slipping, to the water temperature.

So when Ozeri sent me one of their Turtlemeters, I was really keen to try it out. The premise behind this is remarkably simple - it's a bath thermometer. The centre of the turtle has an LCD display which gives a constant temperature reading, and is coloured to show at a glance if the water is an appropriate temperature. The turtle floats, and so is also something that kids can play with in the bath.



We are still using our baby bath and, I have to admit, it does actually have a thermometer built into it. However, we quickly realised that if we use bubble bath, you can't read the thermometer to make sure the water temp is OK as the bubbles obscure it, and it isn't the easiest to read at the best of times. Because the Turtlemeter floats on top of the water and bubbles, we can chuck it in when filling the bath and, within one second, it will give us a reading using the sensor located underneath the turtle. The thermometer is constantly reading, so updates the LCD display accordingly, letting you know if the bath is starting to cool down. Once we move Isabelle to the main bath in a few weeks, this will become even more useful to make sure her bath is at the perfect temperature every time.

Green means go - perfect temperature

The LCD screen is really easy to read the temperature from, and the colour coding means that a quick glance will let us know that the water is OK. The screen is blue if the water is too chilly, green when it's just right, and red when it's too warm. I know most people test the water temperature by feeling it, but since the temperature this summer has been so up and down, Simon and I have realised that we can't accurately judge the water temperature ourselves. When it's warmer outside the water feels cooler than normal and vice versa, so this gives us total peace of mind. The LCD reading is given in Fahrenheit, something us Brits may not be used to, but the colour coding means that it is still so simple to use. The back of the packaging also gives the range each colour corresponds to, so you know if you are edging towards too warm/cool. The sensor only works when in water, so there is no on/off switch to forget about and let the batteries run down - as soon as it's out of the bath and dry, the screen is off. 

Overall, this is a very nifty little gadget for parents who, like me, worry about bath time. Isabelle is still a bit young to appreciate it as a toy, but I know she will love it as she gets bigger - especially the light on the display. 

The Turtlemeter retails for £9.99 on Amazon.co.uk, and you can learn more about Ozeri's products on their Facebook and Twitter pages. 


Friday, 13 September 2013

To Cry It Out or not to Cry It Out?

A friend brought this article to my attention last night on Facebook, with a warning that it was rubbish advice and new mums should avoid it like the plague. I was intrigued, as the little blurb said something about training your baby, and I always find the idea of 'training' a baby an interesting one, since it seems to be THEM training us, and letting us mistakenly believe it's the other way round!

At first, I read through points 1 and 2, and started to think that maybe my friend and I had very different views on things. Start a regular routine - well we let Isabelle do that and we followed it. Be consistent (check), keep night and day separate (check) and find out what soothes your baby (check). So I was a bit worried she was at home thinking parents like Simon and I are awful. Then I read the next points.

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At it's heart, this is an article encouraging people to let their baby cry it out (CIO), or to use controlled crying (CC) to 'train' their baby to sleep, with the end goal of the parents getting a good night's sleep. Honestly, I'm not 100% sure what the difference between CIO and CC is, even after a quick Google, but they both seem to rely on roughly the same idea. Please feel free to correct me in the comments if I have the wrong end of the stick. You put your baby to bed awake, and let them cry, BUT you continue to go in at set intervals to ensure your baby is OK, and reassure them that you still exist. Gradually, the time between visits increases, and your baby realises that you are still there, and learns to self soothe. Not only that, but they learn to sleep through the night (STTN), or at the least, resettle themselves should they wake. The article linked above states that after 3-4 months, a baby is physically capable of making it through the night without food and, indeed, I know many babies who STTN much earlier than that.

So, while I understand the premise of CIO/CC, and I know some parents are at their wits end with horrific sleepless nights (I know my brother and sister in law were!), to me, CIO/CC is just not an option. The idea of purposefully leaving Isabelle to scream so she learns to settle herself just seems cruel to me. To me, CIO/CC does not teach her that I am still there somewhere even though she can't see me...it teaches her that when she cries, I will not come to her. It leaves her alone, upset and probably scared, until she realises I am not coming to soothe her and so she may as well not bother crying anymore.

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Now, I am NOT saying that CIO/CC is in anyway child abuse, please don't get me wrong on this next point, but whenever I read about it I can't help but remember the NSPCC advert which went something like "Tom doesn't cry anymore. He learnt that nobody will come when he does."And that just breaks my heart. Because to me, that's exactly what CIO/CC would do. Teach Isabelle that even if she cries, her mummy will not come back for her.

There are a lot of parenting labels out there, with natural parenting and attachment parenting amongst them. I don't think anyone is totally one thing, but I like to think I incorporate elements of NP and AP into my parenting style. It pains me to hear Isabelle truly cry, even for a minute, and the only times I have walked away from her crying are when I know Simon is there to step in instead. I cannot leave her to cry uncomforted, it just is not in me. I want her to know that if she cries, I am there for her. If not 100% of the time, as that just isn't always possible, then at least 95% of the time. I want her to be reassured that when she needs me, I will respond. People tell me I will spoil her, but I disagree. I am not giving her things she doesn't need. In my mind, a baby needs comfort from their mummy, and that is exactly what she gets - comfort from me when she needs it. Of course, my being there doesn't always stop her crying (God knows this week it hasn't!) BUT I am there, and she can rely on me (even if I am at wits' end and cursing her).

So, for me, CIO/CC totally go against this principle, and is not something I am happy to do. Yes, I may get a full night's sleep - something which was just an hour or two away last week, and this week couldn't be further from my grasp - but I am not willing to put Isabelle through 7 nights of hell just so I can get more sleep. To me, I signed up for this parenting gig, and a lack of sleep is part of that.

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I know that CIO/CC is something many families do, and it has worked. And they are happy, their child is certainly not scarred for life, nor does their child sit silently in the corner thinking their parent won't respond to their cries. I know that, as this is a controversial topic, many people will see this post as an attack on their parenting which is not what I mean it to be. I've said before that each family must do what is right for them, and I've also said before that Isabelle is a pretty good sleeper which no doubt skews my view on this issue. But, for me, CIO/CC is not an option for my family. Isabelle will not be a baby or toddler forever. I will not need to feed her to sleep each night, nor feed her once, twice, or four times during each night forever, so I am not willing to take part in CIO/CC to hurry along her natural progress.

And trust me...you haven't heard her cry. It is something pretty flippin' special when she gets going. My neighbours would have a petition against us doing CIO before the first hour was up!!

What about you? Have you used CIO/CC and it's worked wonders? Or are you thinking or trying it in the near future and think I'm a bit self-righteous?! Let me know in the comments below...

Thursday, 12 September 2013

People making me a better mummy

A lot of the time I feel a bit like a one woman band.
I think it comes from the fact that Isabelle refuses to take a bottle, so I can't leave her with anyone else for more than an hour or two at a time (not that I would have it any other way! I miss her too much!). Of course, Simon has to work, so because it's Isabelle and I together all day, I often feel like I am responsible for everything concerning Isabelle, and that can be difficult, and a little tiring if I'm honest. Of course I get unlimited help from my family, but it's often the mental responsibility that I find hardest. However, I realised that if it weren't for the people below, I would be totally lost, and in fact I am unbelievably lucky to have such a great group of people to help make a better mummy, and help make my life so much easier - practically AND emotionally.
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* My sister in law*
I don't know whether it's because she's a mummy to a little man herself, or if it would be this way anyway, I suspect the latter, but she gives me so much advice and help that I'd be pretty lost without her. Silly little things during pregnancy, and now during our first few months, that I wouldn't have known without her have all helped me make the decisions which are helping me build Isabelle into the person that she is. She is always there when I need her, and her constant support and love for both Isabelle has been overwhelming and helped me out so much. I can't wait until her next little arrives so she is off work again! 

* My mum *
I think your own mum is probably the most influential person when you become a mummy yourself that  she is a no brainer on this list. Yes, she can be a bit of a pain in the bum sometimes, but overall she knows more about raising babies than I ever will and so many of my ideals about how I want to raise my family come from how we were raised. She has been an invaluable source of support and love throughout Izzy's little life, and I know she will be for evermore.

* My mother in law * 
I've mentioned before that Simon's family live in England, but that doesn't stop Simon's mum being a wonderful influence on my parenting. More than anything, she has been ever supportive of everything I have done with Isabelle, and some of the kindest words I've received about being a mummy have come from her. The confidence boosts she unwittingly gives me make me feel like super mum, which in turn help me become more sure of my decisions affecting Izzy.

* My sister* 
My sister doesn't have any babies of her own, but I think that's why she is so helpful to me. She makes me feel like a parenting genius (not because she doesn't know anything, I hasten to add!) which again gives me so much confidence in my parenting abilities. She is always there for me when I need her, and knowing that she would drop everything to help me out if I was in a parenting pickle means I can relax and I know I have all her expertise and knowledge at my fingertips, even at 3am (although I'm sure she'd prefer it was at a more sociable hour!)

* My dad*
My dad is responsible for one of the kindest things I have heard about my parenting so far - and I heard it second hand from my mum. He told her how proud he was of how well Isabelle had grown, and how great it was that I had done that all by myself. Giving me a confidence boost in my breastfeeding 'ability', and hearing how proud he was of me made me feel 100ft tall!

* Simon *
Of course, it goes without saying that I wouldn't be half the mummy I am without Simon's unwavering love and support for both Isabelle and I. 

So, in reality, I'm a lot more like a symphony than a one woman band - and all thanks to my amazing family! Aren't Isabelle and I lucky to have such a great team behind us? (And let's not forget my father in law, brother and brother in law who are all pretty amazing too!)

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Who is it helping you become the parent, or person, that you are?

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Today I am thankful for...

Every so often it's nice to sit back and think about the things in our life which are pretty great. Especially coming in to winter when so many of us tend to spend months on end moaning about the weather, the short days, the 'hassle' of Christmas...the list goes on. So here are some things I am currently very thankful for.

* My beautiful daughter 
* My husband 
* Owning our own home
* Being in a position to stay at home with Isabelle
* The lovely new friends I am making through my baby related activities
* The fresh country air when I walk the dogs
* The onset of autumn 
* My family, especially my beautiful nephew
* The lovely response I've gotten as I've started my blogging journey

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Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Review's Day Tuesday: Pot of Gold Baby Balm

For the last few weeks, Izzy has had a weird redness around certain parts of her nappy area, and some of her skin has been a bit flaky. I was pretty horrified to eventually realise (by a process of elimination) that the new 'flavour' of nappy cream I was using was the cause. Luckily, I had just received a sample of Pot of Gold Baby Balm from the lovely people at New Zealand Honey Shop, and was able to stop using my old and start using the new straight away.



The Pot of Gold Baby Balm is described by the NZHS as "Guilt Free" - the palm oil used in the baby balm is sustainably sourced from Colombia, so there is no issue with infringement on the SE Asian orangutans' habitat, so you can have a warm and fuzzy feeling as you slather it on, knowing you are doing your best for future generations. The baby balm is 100% natural, using only active ingredients, and is 75% organic. It has a boat load of vitamin E which is great for skin, and I was shocked when I looked at the ingredient list because it's so short!

Along with being a guilt free product, the Pot of Gold Baby Balm is also remarkably versatile. Obviously, it's main use is as a nappy cream, but it can also be used as lip salve, for cradle cap, for cracked/sore nipples and cracked/sore skin in general. Best of all, Pot of Gold Baby Balm is absolutely safe for use with cloth nappies! 

The balm smells lovely, of grapefruit, and a little bit goes a very long way. I've barely made a dent in my tub after 2 weeks, so I know my 50g pot will last for months to come. That means that the retail price of £8.20 from the New Zealand Honey Shop is a steal, as it will do so many jobs for such a long time.

The balm made such a difference to Izzy's sore spots. I put it on for the first time at night and, come the next morning, her skin was perfect - no redness in sight! I continued to put the balm on her at various nappy changes - and always overnight - and if she had any small spots of nappy rash, they disappeared by the next change. 

If you have ever had to wipe your finger off after applying nappy cream, you might like to know that when using the baby balm, I was able to wipe any extra onto my lips, and it really does double as a lovely lip balm, which leaves a nice little sheen.

Overall, I cannot recommend this product highly enough. As a nappy cream it is perfection, and it is so versatile that I am taking the old nappy cream, my lip balm and hand cream out of my nappy bag, and putting this in to replace all 3! And to know that it is all natural, 75% organic, and sustainable means that I can feel good about using this fabulous product as well. To buy your own Pot of Gold Baby Balm, visit the New Zealand Honey Shop, or follow their Twitter and Facebook pages.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Silent Sunday: One picture, no words

(Almost no words this week! From now on, my Silent Sunday posts are in collaboration with SCJ Photography. Check out Simon's website or Facebook page for more info)


Saturday, 7 September 2013

Review: Get a little more of your daily vitamins

I recently received some samples of adult and children flavoured water drinks with a twist - they contain your RDA of different types of vitamins. When I was working, I found it so easy to get all of my 5 a day before I even got home for dinner, and ate a lot fruit in particular. People at school used to comment on how healthy my lunches were, and I felt especially good when I was pregnant knowing I was providing my little with lots of great vitamins and minerals.

However, since I've been on maternity leave, I've found it so much more difficult to continue with this. I just don't seem to eat the same way at home, so I knew I was missing out. Since Isabelle relies on me for all her vitamins too, it's vital I get what I need. The More or Less Drinks Company have a range of drinks designed especially for people like me who are struggling to balance their diet. "Get More" are drinks designed for adults, to help them supplement their daily diet with vitamins they may be missing out on. I don't need to tell you why it's important to get those vitamins, and even if you do eat a balanced diet, you may not be getting your RDA of all the different vitamins you need.




I received the B vitamins apple and raspberry drink, and the Multivitamin sparkling citrus drink . The packaging of the drinks is great - it is cleverly designed so you can see through the bottle and lets you know which vitamin combination you have at a glance. We took one drink to church, and one for a walk with the dogs instead of the sports drink we sometimes take along when it's warm. Both drinks were really tasty, although Simon and I both agreed we preferred the B vitamin apple and raspberry water. They just tasted like 'regular' flavoured water, which is wonderful as there is no compromise on taste or quality to make the drinks the healthy choice.  As well as keeping me hydrated - something else I struggle with when I'm not at work - it felt extra good to know that I had my RDA of the different vitamins so easily and, importantly for me, was able to pass those along to Isabelle. The range also includes a vitamin C and vitamin D drink to help you top up where you may be lacking. You can buy the 'Get More' drinks for adults in Tesco for £1.45 - not much for your daily dose of vitamins which hydrates you at the same time! Oh and did I mention the bottles all have fewer than 10 calories?



The "A Little More" drinks are a similar idea, but these ones are aimed at children. All mummies will have gone through a food battle with their littles at some point, and will know that trying to get fruit and veg into them can be tough. So of course it's a worry that they may not be getting all their vitamins. The A Little More drinks come in smaller bottles, with a handy sports cap for little ones to use easily. Although they a for over 3 years, I let Jacob try them out to see how he got on with the orange flavoured vitamin C and mango flavoured vitamin D drinks. He tried the orange vitamin C drink while he was having his lunch and, while he didn't down it all, he didn't have any objections to drinking it, which is a win in my eyes! And so, as easily as a few glugs with lunch, he got a boost to his vitamin C intake, and great hydration for the most active toddler I have ever met! There is also a multivitamin kids drink in the range, and these can be picked up for £1.09 in Tesco, and would be the perfect size for school lunch boxes and school bags.

The More or Less Drinks are a quick and easy way to stay hydrated and get your daily RDA of certain vitamins. They are tasty and would make a great addition to any handbag, briefcase, school bag or change bag to sip during the day. For more info, check out their Facebook page! I'll definitely be adding some to our weekly shopping list to make sure both Isabelle and I keep our vitamin levels up as we move into winter.

Friday, 6 September 2013

My favourite saying "L'esprit de escalier"



How many times in your life have you felt this? In some cases, I am still rerunning conversations and thinking of the perfect retort to what was said years later. Now just to invent a time machine...

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