Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Davina for Next Collection!

What's the first New Year's resolution that you can think of?

Yes, it's that old chestnut about getting fit! Except this year I really mean it. Noah is 5 months old now and I've done well at shedding the pounds of baby weight but my aim really is to shed a bit more, get fit and tone up. I'm resolute that I'm done with child bearing and so I really want to get fit so I have the stamina to keep up with my lively children. Just in time for my declaration to work my booty, super fit (and super mum) Davina McCall has collaborated with Next on a shoe and fitness collection!

Davina for Next provides the ultimate workout and post-workout clothing along with a range of innovative everyday shoes featuring F.I.T technology to reduce load-bearing stress on joints and provide additional support.

Whenever I've undertaken a new fitness regime (and there have been many!) I've always been of the opinion that I NEED new kit to work out in. I'm only as good as the trainers/ leggings etc that I'm wearing. And looking at this range from Davina and Next there is so much choice and it would draw many a compliment. Here are my picks from the range, put together they would make a fab workout kit!

Firstly the trainers:

I love the look of these, I like the 'go faster' stripes, you wouldn't see me for dust running in these....

Next up the legs, I'd choose these cuffed joggers, they look comfy and knowing Next clothes as well as I do they'd fit my big womanly bottom!

I love the colour of this cropped bra top and I'd wear it underneath this:

And that completes my dream Davina for Next fitness outfit! As a complete outfit it would look quite retro and 80's I reckon and I've always admired that Olivia Newton John 'Let's get Physical' look, now if only they did headbands and legwarmers too....

My most successful attempts at getting fit have always been when I've had a goal in mind, including running Race For Life and the Marie Curie Swimathon, so I intend to sign up for a challenge (10k or a swim) to take place around March/ April time (nothing too serious, I don't want to punch above my weight) so that I have an event to train for. This is how I motivate myself best. Next are giving some lucky bloggers the chance to review the Davina for Next range and I'd love to be one of them. I'd put the kit through it's paces and share the blood, sweat and tears (and there are always tears!) with my readers!

Davina for Next will be available from selected stores, from the Next directory and online at next.co.uk from next Spring. Check it out and it could help you to keep your New Year's resolutions!

Peekaboo Barn & Counting With the Very Hungry Caterpillar Phone App Reviews

I LOVE Phone Apps and lately I've really fallen hook line and sinker for kids phone apps. They are brilliant for situations where I'm doing something with the baby and Isla needs entertaining. Because my phone is with me 24/ 7 it means these games are always with me and she LOVES them too. She asks to play them regularly (usually when I'm in the middle of texting someone or fiddling about with it myself!) and it really impresses me that kids know how to work all this new technology. 

We were asked if we wanted to review 2 phone apps by Night & Day Studios: Peekaboo Barn and Counting with The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

When we first had a go of Peekaboo Barn I wasn't really sure about it, it's so simplistic. All the animals are in the barn, you tap the door and every time you do a new animal appears, it makes the relevant animal noise before the animal appears so you can get your child to name the animal before they see it and a child's voice says, "cow", "sheep" or "goats" (Isla's favourite!) when the animal is revealed. However what do I know? Isla really likes it. She will do it over and over. Also just for Christmas the app has updated and it's all snowy and all the animals are very festive with either santa hats or Rudolph noses on etc. It's a very sweet game and I would recommend it. Another thing that we haven't done as yet is record Isla's voice to go on it which I think will make her love it even more!

The next game is Counting with The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I loved this immediately because I just adore the illustrations for The Very Hungry Caterpillar and we have always loved the book. Isla can count to 10 already and likes any counting opportunity so this game was a goodun. It has 5 different difficulty levels and has all the snacks that feature in the book. For some reason Isla has formed an attachment to the 'pickles' and loves it when she has to count them! It's not all about counting either - it's also about being able to recognise different foods and also knowing which ones to select. The final level is against the clock, we've not done this yet as we spend too much time talking about the different foods "I like lollipops" etc etc you get the picture.

All in all these are both good games, the Hungry Caterpillar one being slightly more educational than Peekaboo Barn. My only negative observation is that I feel that Peekaboo Barn is slightly over priced for what it is.

Peekaboo Barn costs £1.49
Counting with the Very Hungry Caterpillar costs £1.99

Both available from the iTunes App Store

Monday, 19 December 2011

Isla & Noah this week

These are a few of my favourite photos of Isla and Noah from this week. As you can see I'm absolutely loving the Instagram and Hipstamatic apps on my iPhone!

Isla is getting really excited about Christmas, we were lucky enough to have a few hours just us girls to make a couple of Christmas cards for Nanny and Grandpa and Nanny H. She loved being let loose with the glue and glitter and I got all sorts of bits and bobs out for her to use on her cards - scraps of material, cut out pictures from my recent birthday cards and even some polystyrene packing that was in a parcel I got that day. We also decorated the tree together and she was fabulous at it - her approach is definitely the more you can put on the tree the better!

She is loving the advent calendar. It rarely gets forgotten in the morning as it's a CHOCOLATE one. Which is obviously very exciting in her book. Think she's really going to miss it when she gets to the last door.

Very much like fireworks night (absolutely terrified), she didn't like visiting Father Christmas in his grotto at Priory Farm. We got shown in to see him and she clung to me and cried. Not the kind of response I expected. It's funny as she's usually such a confident little thing.

Noah has started teething, he sleeps quite soundly until about 3.30am and then he just wakes up and ROARS. It's so sudden, 0 - 60 in 3 seconds! He's not bad in the daytime though and a friend of mine has just lent us her daughters Fisher Price Jumperoo and he absolutely loves it, although I checked the weight limit on it (25lb) and so it won't be long before he can't go in that! It's actually quite a disadvantage from a baby toy point of view to have a BIG baby as he outgrows things that other babies his age would still be playing with.

We're introducing him to more first tastes, he's really enjoying some HiPP Organic Baby food that we've been sent. More about that in another post.

All in all we're surviving, there are fun times and not so fun times (when the tiredness hits!) but this is a great time of year and I'm really looking forward to Noah's first Christmas with all the family.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

My toddler this week #2

Potty in the background, nice! Proudly showing her clever puzzle skills!

So this week I'm noticing all the things that Isla has been saying. I notice that sometimes when I've said something to her she stops and looks at me really seriously. This is when she is thinking about something I've said, mulling it over and trying to make sense of it. One of my favourites recently has been this:

Me: You're such a clever old stick!
About a minutes silence
Isla: I'm not a clever old stick, I'm Isla!

See, very clever!

My other favourite is this one:

Me: What's the magic word
Isla: Abra....
Me: No, not that magic word
Isla: Oh, thank you!

I loved that one, she has a magic wand and is so into changing us into frogs or rabbits at the moment.

Another one that I have no idea where it came from is her saying "Bravo!" when we've achieved something! Not something I've ever really said, so I'm assuming this is a nursery thing.

We've also had a lot of references to 'best friends' this week. Just to show how fickle toddlers are, here are two examples, the first one happened when I was laid up in bed with a bad back this week. I can hear Isla downstairs harassing the Other Half to come upstairs and see me..

Isla: I want to see mummy, mummy is my best fwwwweind

On the flip side of this, the following morning when I was trying to get her dressed, (me still having the bad back) I got cross as she was escaping my clutches! So this time:

Isla: You're not my best fwwwweind anymore

The final two Isla quotes can be solely attributed to Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly:

"Sit down your majesty" and "Ahoy there me hearties"

The first one I'm trying to get her to say to my Dad, just because I think this would be funny. I'm loving Isla's chit chat most of the time and I'm going to keep trying to record her 'Islaisms' so we can look back on them and have a good giggle!

The Gallery - My Awesome Photo

I know this isn't a photo of a bungee jump or some amazing waterfall/ beach scene or me wing walking (never going to happen!) but this is MY AWESOME PHOTO. It captures my OH and I in a way that we'll never probably ever be seen again. I absolutely love this photo, when I look at it is makes me feel all mushy (it's also slightly cheesy I know!). I haven't done anything with any of my wedding photo's and we got married over 3 years ago, they remain on a disc and on my laptop waiting for me to put them in a book but if anything happened to them, I would really be upset about not seeing this one ever again. Photo's are weird like that aren't they? I love reliving memories just by looking at a stack of photo's and I really do love reliving the memory of my wedding day!

Check out the other Gallery Entries here

Friday, 2 December 2011

Jelly Kitten Skidaddle Zebra - Christmas Stocking Filler

I've previously posted about Jelly Cat soft toys on the blog - we love them! Isla has her bunny and Noah has his dog and Cousin M has donkey AND bunny! I didn't realise that related to Jelly Cat is Jelly Kitten and when Hello Baby offered to send me a Jelly Kitten Skidaddle Zebra for Noah to try out I was really pleased as I knew it would be a cool toy for him and also one that isn't a hand me down!

Here's my little zebra enjoying his Skidaddle Zebra!
It's such a lovely toy and would make a cool Christmas stocking filler. The black and white is great for babies to look at and the rings round each of the zebra's feet have been good for Noah to hold on to and chew on (everything is going in his mouth at the moment!). There are also blue ribbon tags for the mane, which gives another texture for baby to feel.  There is also a useful strap on its head so it can be attached to the cot and car seat. Naturally every toy that enters our house also has to be given the Isla once over and she loves it too, I also love when she says Zebra as she doesn't pronounce the 'Z' - it's an 'Ebra' as far as she's concerned!

The Skidaddle Zebra is available from Hello Baby and retails at £10.99.
Hello Baby also sells a wide range of other baby and nursery stuff including Baby Toys, nursery furniture, travel and safety products.

I was sent this Jelly Kitten toy by Hello Baby for free in exchange for a review. My opinions are honest and my own.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

My toddler this week...

This week I witnessed the funniest tantrum yet and it all started with a banana!

Isla: I wanna 'nana
Me: We're going to nursery in a minute, you'll have breakfast there.
Isla: I wannaaaaaaa 'nanaaaaaaa (repeat x 12)
Me: OK then (goes gets banana, peels it and hands it over)

Isla: I wannnnnnaaaaaaa 'nanaaaaaa
Isla: (Now pointing at the remaining bananas in the fruit bowl) I wanthatone

She now throws the banana that I gave her on the floor and goes back to pointing at the other bananas. I ignore her and get Noah ready to leave the house. Then she goes over to the discarded banana, stamps on it and goes over to the window hysterically crying, looking out in despair. When she stamps on the banana I'm open mouthed, as I've never seen this level of stroppiness before! Then 2 minutes after stamping on it, she goes over to the banana picks it up and happily walks off eating it!!

Who could know that a banana could cause so much grief?!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Weaning Has Begun!

Shea Mooti - Review

I am a big fan of using oils for stretch marks. Fact. I'd love to say that my body is a stretch mark free zone but that would be a lie. I can't even say that I didn't have any until I had kids, I had them WAY before! One thing I can claim though is to not have had one single one across my tummy after my first pregnancy. The sad news though is that the second pregnancy didn't take any prisoners and I have a few on my tummy now. But rather than feel hung up about it like I used to about the ones on my thighs, I actually don't mind so much as I have my beautiful boy to show for those 'battle' scars! I love using oils as I think they help to keep my skin supple and help to make it look more youthful.

Anyway, moving on. I was asked to try two products from the ethical skincare range Shea Mooti and I was really up for it as I LOVE body care products and it makes a change to receive something for me. Before children, without fail I would moisturise my whole body EVERY DAY. Now with two children, time spent on myself and my body is limited and I don't lavish enough attention on my poor weary, clapped out shadow of my former self!

I tried the Belly Rub Stretch Mark Oil and the Soothing Leg and Foot Cream and I really can say that I would buy and use them. I have a preference for the Stretch Mark Oil as I loved the scent of it and I really do think that it helps my skin as it shrinks back to size. The Stretch Mark Oil is most often used by the mum to be and I'm using it post baby but I would say that it's just as vital to be kind to your skin when you've had the baby as it is pre baby. The oil absorbs nicely, it's non greasy and doesn't sit on top of the skin.

The Leg and Foot cream has such a lovely texture and it feels great on the skin. I wasn't as keen on the scent for this product, it wasn't as delicious smelling as the stretch mark oil but I think this might be due to the anti-septic oils contained within the product. Again this is a product that would be well suited to a mum to be as it is described as "Therapy for those hard working legs carrying a heavy load" - I would say that Noah is definitely a heavy load (20lbs at 4 months!) and so my legs are working just as hard now as when I was pregnant and so deserve to be treated to this cream!

Both of these products are packed full of wonderful ingredients and all Shea Mooti products contain Shea Butter. This brand is a wonderful example of 'natural' skincare. Try it yourselves!

At the moment they have a discount code for first time users to get 10% off their first order. Quote SHEA131 at the checkout.
Like Shea Mooti on Facebook and follow on Twitter for all updated news on their products!

I was sent both of the products mentioned in this review for free but my views are honest and my own.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Give As You Live

Last night I went to an event at Liberty's in London and I feel compelled to tell you all about it ASAP as if the word gets out quick then a lot of charities can benefit from all the online Christmas shopping that will be done between now and the day itself!

I clocked off with the kids yesterday at 4.30pm and handed over the reigns to my OH. I felt mildly sorry for him as the end of the day is usually pretty fraught, but as I made my way to the train station, I was getting excited about being in London again (something I usually complain about when I work there everyday!) and looking forward to finding out about 'Give as you Live'.

I was welcomed by Polly Gowers founder of 'Give as you Live' and CEO of Everyclick, a fundraising technology company, which enables people to give to any of the UK's charities (from the smallest hedgehog related charity (!) to the biggest Cancer related charities) through everyday online activity such as online shopping.

Give as you Live is Polly's latest initiative. What is it?

Give as you Live is an online shopping app that turns every pound supporters spend online into funds for their favourite cause. How does it work?

Quite simply you go to http://www.giveasyoulive.com/ and download the app to your PC, this takes seconds and on restarting it will be present on your computer. Once restarted the Give as you Live app should start up and ask you to register all your details and also select the charity that you would like to benefit from your online purchases. I chose Myeloma UK as my Dad has this condition and the more money they get the bigger the strides towards a cure. Once you have an account registered you can regularly check how much you raise just by shopping.

You then shop online and if you shop at a store that is part of Give as you Live (which shouldn't be hard as there are over 1500 retailers linked up) then a window pops up and asks you if you want to give on this shop. You tick the box, do your shopping and rack up money for charity. The beauty of it is that you are not putting your own hand in your pocket, just by doing your usual shopping (Christmas or otherwise!) you will earn your favourite charities some valuable funds. It is the retailer who will be making the donation.

There are too many retailers involved to mention them all but most of the big ones are, including Boots, Sainsbury's, Debenhams, John Lewis, Liberty, House of Fraser, Topshop, M&S and soon one of the biggest online retailers Amazon will also be joining the throng!

An example of how much charities can benefit from this, 5 gifts and how much can go to charity if you Give as you Live:

iPad2 costs £399 and £5.99 would be donated to charity
iPhone 4S costs £499 and £7.49 would be donated to charity
Scrabble costs £14.99 and 58p would be donated to charity
Kindle costs £89 and £4.45 would be donated to charity
Twilight Box Set costs £8.49 and 21p would be donated to charity

This isn't just a Christmas initiative, it works all year round but it's worth saying that in this country last December, £6.8 billion was spent shopping online and if everyone had used Give as you Live £170 million could have been raised for UK Charities. If you're a fan of charity starting at home then you really should make the effort to shop in this way!

Go to Give as you Live and start your Christmas shopping and feel good knowing that you're doing your bit for charity.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Perform Party

Isla and I were recently invited by Energy PR to a Perform Party. We had no idea what it was about before we went but from the blurb it sounded like it would be right up Isla's street as she loves singing and dancing:

"Perform is a unique drama school for children, using a mix of drama, dance and singing specially formulated with a focus on child development to bring out every child's true potential, so we would love you to come along and see what Perform is all about. The Perform Parties are high energy, fun and totally infectious, children just can't resist joining in all the activities"

The parties will cover two age groups, so the whole family can come along and join in the fun
Mini Ps 1-3 year olds
Perform Parties 4-8 year olds"

Isla is 2 so she went to the Mini P's party. We were told that obviously the age ranges had to be a bit broader than usual for the purposes of the day, so the Mini P's party included things that were directed at young babies too. The theme for this party was 'Under the Sea' and the actress who ran the session was dressed as a mermaid, which I think Isla loved as it tied in with her current new obsession with The Little Mermaid!

The activities are used to promote the 4 C's - Confidence, Concentration, Communication and Coordination. The teachers use a unique mix of Drama, Dance and Singing to bring out every child's true potential.
What did Isla think of it? Well I think she enjoyed herself, she was a little bit tired during the session which was making her at times a bit 'free' and doing her own thing and I didn't feel like that was encouraged and the kids were expected to fall in line which doesn't always happen with 2 year olds. Isla was her usual friendly self and went off to hold the actresses hand who was leading the session so she obviously felt comfortable with her. Isla loves parachutes (this is a regular part of Gymboree and MAD Academy - classes that Isla has also loved) and so enjoyed this bit of it, she liked the instruments and the dancing. We didn't recognise the songs in the class but I guess with regular attendance then the kids would learn them. Unfortunately we also missed a bit of the session due to a toilet trip (grrr potty training!) but on the whole she had a good time.

Perform parties come in all different themes so you can pick one that fits in with your child's interests/ imagination:

Mini P’s
-          Fairies and Elves
-          Peppa Pig
-          The Night Garden
-          Teddy Bear Picnic

Perform parties:
-          Fairytale Forest
-          Popstarz
-          Superhero school
-          Ghost hunters
-          Magician’s Chamber
-          High School Musical
-          Peter Pan
-          Chocolate Adventure

Perform are not only about parties, they also run weekly classes and holiday courses. Go to Perform for more details and to see if there are classes near you. they are currently offering every child the first Perform session free here

All in all we had a fun mummy and daughter day in London, we received a delicious lunch and a goodie bag with T-shirt and CD on the day.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas - Christmas Stocking Filler!

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to a preview lunch for the new Ice Age DVD release - A Mammoth Christmas. In recognition of the fact it's a Christmas release we had a delicious 3 course Christmas lunch and pulled crackers while Christmas Carols played in the background! It really was a lovely way to spend a lunchtime, I appreciated some me time away from the kids and also caught up with Mirka from All Baby Advice looking glowing with baby bump!

So after the festive fun we went to the screening room and watched the 20 minute film. So what's it all about?

Everyone's favourite sub-zero heroes are back in an all-new holiday adventure for the whole family. When Sid accidentally destroys Manny's heirloom Christmas rock and ends up on Santa's "naughty list", he leads a hilarious quest to the North Pole to make things right - and ends up making things much worse. Now it's up to Manny and his pre-historic posse to band together and save Christmas for the entire world.

I can't wait for Isla to see it as she really loves the characters in Ice Age (she should do after the number of times we've watched it together!) and she loves the little squirrel who chases the acorn all the time. I enjoyed it, it was very funny and all the original voice cast are back too.

Ice-Age: A Mammoth Christmas is out on DVD from the 21st November 2011and is available exclusively from Asda, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Priced at an excellent £5!

I was given a box set of the Ice Age collection and a cuddly squirrel on the day. The views written here are my own.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Justin Fletcher's New Single - Hands Up

I don't know many kids who don't know of Justin Fletcher in his many different guises in 'Something Special' and 'Gigglebiz'. In time for Christmas Justin is releasing a single 'Hands Up' from his forthcoming album of the same name.

I'll honestly say that this isn't my cuppa tea at all but seeing as the music in the car isn't allowed to be of my choosing anymore then what's it to me if we have to listen to this on repeat everywhere we go?! Isla loves it and Justin's voice is so distinguishable that Isla says put Mr Tumble on when I've dared to try and listen to something else. So there you go, 2 year olds love this stuff and who am I to argue. Justin if you're reading, no offence, I'm just more of an Indie girl  and I really do love you on the telly!

We'll be reviewing the album here at I Heart Motherhood in the spring but in the meantime if you want to connect with Justin you can on Twitter and on Facebook

Hands Up is released on 20th November.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Noah is Given his Marching Orders!

On Friday I had myself a really lovely lunchtime stroll around Borough Market with Noah and one of my dear friends. I was a little bit anxious about venturing to London on my own with Noah, but given I was only travelling to London Bridge, I knew that we weren't far from home and that we didn't have a tube journey to contend with.

We were all having a really lovely time, Noah was taking in the sights and sounds and my friend and I were spending on delectable foodstuffs! After an hour we thought it best to have a cuppa and a cake and get Noah fed, so we went to a Patisserie on the edge of the market.

Being on maternity leave at the moment I'm finding myself having coffee and a cake in cafes quite a regular thing, so on entering the cake shop I had no inkling that we would be asked to leave as that has NEVER happened to me before, so I was blissfully making my way to a table to sit down when the waitress intercepted me and said that we couldn't come in here with THAT. I initially thought she meant the buggy and given that it was a really small shop I thought, fair do's it is a bit tight, so I said, that's fine I can fold it down (handy Maclaren!), again she said no and I mistakenly thought that as she had an Eastern European accent that she didn't understand what I meant, so I repeated that I could fold it down and put it under the table. How wrong was I? She understood quite well what I meant and she then had to think up some other reason that we weren't welcome. 'Erm, we have no seat for him'. Well that's easy I said, he can't sit up on his own anyway and he would be sitting on my lap. I'm very calm, really still not getting that she doesn't want my baby in the place - it's not the buggy at all!!! To which she just bluntly told me that her boss wouldn't welcome us. So 'THAT' which she was referring to was my baby.

The penny dropped.

I was a bit gobsmacked and anyone that knows me would know I would at that point normally have flipped, blurted out a load of angry words and flounced out. But my saviour was my friend who I hadn't seen for ages and I really didn't want to make a scene and embarrass her. So we walked off up the road perplexed, with my friend feeling bad that she'd suggested the place.

On reflection now I'm actually outraged. When we found somewhere to sit down and have coffee, Noah was brilliantly behaved, had his milk, looked cute, giggled and did not once cry, he drew admiring looks and we got on with our afternoon.

I found myself thinking about the incident quite a lot since it happened and I decided that it deserved a blog post as I've never been refused entry to a cake shop because of my kids and it got me wanting to google this particular place and I'm glad I did as I now feel that I wasn't singled out, apparently this place has a terrible reputation for pushing people out the door for not spending enough, telling people they can't use laptops and now telling people with kids that they can't come in! Unfortunately this establishment will not suffer as there is enough trade in the area but I now feel it's my duty to add to the online log of dissatisfied customers (although obviously I can't call myself that, not actually having imbibed anything!) and name the place as PATISSERIE LILA.

Don't go there unless you really can't find anywhere else and you fancy potentially being humiliated.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Christmas Stocking Filler - Talking Princess Holly Soft Toy - Review

Isla was recently very lucky to be sent a Talking Princess Holly by Entertainment One to try. She was at nursery when it arrived, so I unwrapped it and left it on the table for when she came home. I didn't even get a chance to give it to her, she spotted it as soon as she got through the door and was so excited! Along with Peppa Pig, she is a massive Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom fan and she already had a Ben Elf, so she was so pleased to have Ben's partner in crime! She pressed her tummy and heard all the phrases, she loved that she had a wand and she started running round the room 'flying' Princess Holly around. She is now one of Isla's current favourite toys and is definitely fuelling her new obsession with Princesses. Much to Isla's annoyance Noah also seems to like toys that talk and has taken great pleasure in cuddling and dribbling all over Holly too!

You can squeeze Princess Holly's tummy to hear 5 fun phrases including, "I'm Princess Holly", "Come on let's play", "Now wand, what shall we do today?" Made from soft and cuddly fabrics she's ideal to hug and hold.

Talking Princess Holly retails at £12.99, from all good retailers and would make a great pressie for any budding little Princess!

Monday, 7 November 2011

I ♥ Essie Jain

Essie Jain's 'Until the Light of Morning' is simply gorgeous and if like me you have a baby that loves to fall asleep to music then this will be right up your sleeping beauty's street! Not only that it's also really enjoyable from an adult perspective too, not a Twinkle Twinkle in sight! I would compare it to the likes of Zero 7 (who I love!), it's really quite folksy and Essie's voice is beautifully hypnotic, sending baby into a gentle slumber (not to mention a tired mummy)!

You can purchase the album on iTunes for £5.99

We received a copy for review and I'm happy to say we absolutely loved it!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Fab Oh Baby London Giveaway!

Oh Baby London was started as an independent baby and children's wear brand in Brick Lane, London in 2002. What started as an allergic reaction to pastels by founder, designer and mum of two Hannah McHalick has grown to a full collection of cool but cute fashion for kids and the coolest kids products. Eccentric, bold design and irreverent truths like 'Been Inside For 9 Months' are the essence of Oh Baby London. 

All designs are 100% original, created in the Brick Lane studio by people who love what they do. Oh Baby think that clothing shouldn't be disposable, so they build it from high quality materials, and don't believe in throwaway fads or hype. They also try their hardest to be ethical throughout the entire process, from the fabric all the way through to distribution. Oh Baby collaborate with the HEBA Women's Project, a non-profit organisation which aims to empower women by teaching them skills and all the clothes manufactured from August 2007 use fabrics are tested free from harmful chemicals, and are made by people paid fairly with good working conditions.

Noah was lucky enough to be able to try out one of the wicked rompers - he looks like a member of Bad Manners (Baby Buster BloodVessel?) - very cool! This particular one costs £20, and there are many other designs.

There are so many lovely things on the site that I would love for Noah and I'm sure I'll be spoiling him sometime soon!

The lovely people at Oh Baby London are giving my readers the chance to win £20 to spend on anything on their site and there are plenty of things you can buy for that amount! All you need to do is visit the Oh Baby London site and tell me in the comments below what you would spend your £20 on. Please leave a method of contacting you should you win.

For an extra entry please tweet this competition mentioning @iheartmuthahood and @OhBabyLondon and the URL of this post. Please leave an extra comment below to let me know you have done this.

For a second extra entry please follow @OhBabyLondon on twitter and let me know you have done so below in a separate comment.

This competition will end on Sunday 20th November at midnight. UK Entrants only.

Good Luck!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Charity Shop Gems

Since having the kids I've found myself looking in charity shops more often than I ever did. They are such great places to find bits and pieces for children and so I thought I'd share with you some of the little gems that I've bought and my most recent find is my favourite so far...a Thomas the Tank Engine throw. A steal at £4! Noah is often found lounging around on top of it.

The shop we bought it from was fantastic as it was a children's hospice charity shop in Truro that only sold children's clothes, toys and equipment (buggies etc.). It wasn't like any other charity shop I've ever been in - everything was set out so nicely and I had the patience to look at stuff rather than seeing a load of jumble and walking out. Of course we couldn't escape without buying Isla something too, so she fleeced us for a bracelet and cuddly dog!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Noah at 3 Months

So what's he up to then? Well nothing amazing to anyone other than me! He's doing lots of screechy, shrieky noises like he's trying to talk which I love and we have shrieky conversations with each other.

He weighs 18lb's!! Nearly doubled his birth weight! I'm sure this isn't that amazing again to anyone other than me, but I still marvel at the fact that he is hungry hungry! The differences between girls and boys are really apparent to me. With Isla she toyed with her milk, regularly left ounces of the stuff untouched, she was quite content but I was a typical new mum, worrying that she wasn't getting enough and trying to ply every bit of each bottle down her throat. I'd note down every feed and tot up the total every evening and sigh over how she wasn't downing anywhere near the amounts that the books said a baby her age should have. I really don't know what I was worrying about, she was perfectly healthy and no scrawny baby! Noah is so different. He just eats and eats, to the point where I think weaning him earlier than 6 months might be necessary. This doesn't thrill me the same way it did the first time round as I know the stresses and strains it can cause, although if he likes food as much as he likes his milk then it won't be stressful at all!

This week he has also started blowing raspberries and he's trying to roll over - he gets on his side and then gets all annoyed and starts crying. He giggles lots when I'm tickling him or pulling funny faces. I love his giggles! I also love that he hears my voice in a room and searches for me with his eyes. He'll stop looking at whoever he's with (even daddy!) and look for me. He's also started grasping toys and rattles which means he's starting to play.

The one other major difference between Isla and Noah is the sleeping, but again I put this down to experience. I don't run to him when I hear a cry from him if he should still be asleep and he very cleverly gets himself back in the land of nod! I find this quite wondrous because it took Isla till at least 6 months to do this. He also goes down in his cot really well and can get himself to sleep with minimal help and rarely a 'sshhh' - I used to 'ssshhhh' like a maniac with Isla - until my mouth was bone dry!

Another thing that's different 2nd time round is that I don't freak out so much about his development like I did with Isla. When that weekly Babycentre email hit my inbox when Isla was a baby I'd worry if she wasn't doing some of the things it mentioned. This time round I know that these things will happen and that they happen at different speeds for all babies. I know that he will roll over and eventually sit up on his own. That's not to say that I don't encourage these things to happen but I'm just measuring him less against other babies and I'm looking forward to watching Noah grow in his own time. I am enjoying him as a baby more than wishing him older.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

WIN a trip to Lapland to meet Father Christmas!

How would you fancy winning a trip to Lapland to meet Father Christmas for you and your little one? I think all parents would love to provide their kids with the chance of meeting the big man in the flesh. It would be a dream come true!

Well Transun have set up Father Christmas with his own Facebook Page and Twitter account and in between reading all the children's Christmas lists and checking on who's been a good girl or boy this year he's posting updates about life in Lapland with Mrs Claus and giving updates on the Elves and the reindeer!

So how can you win this treat?  Visit the Facebook page to enter the competition for one lucky boy or girl (and an equally lucky parent!) to spend the day with Father Christmas in Lapland. Entrants must upload pictures of themselves in the Christmas spirit and explain in no more than 20 words why they deserve to win.

The deadline for the competition is 11th December, so get entering!! Ho ho ho!!


Monday, 24 October 2011

BabyMel Big Slouchy Dot Bag - Review

I was recently asked to review a baby change bag. I'm not greedy and I already have a really good one, so I decided to ask a friend of mine who's just had gorgeous baby girl, Evie, to review it for me, so over to you Julie!
"When Sharon asked if I would be interested in reviewing the Babymel Big Slouchy Dot changing bag I was delighted, as I had just had my second child and was using my old free pram bag, which, to be honest, was doing my head in with its lack of pockets and design! So I excitedly packed up my Big Slouchy and started putting it to the test. 
Firstly it’s a good looking bag, with a funky black and cream dot design, that is not too girly, so my husband was happy to carry it as well.  The shoulder strap was really strong and a good length allowing the bag to be carried over one or two shoulders.  You can also attach it to the pram handle bar using the Babymel stroller straps.  These unique stroller straps are a great idea and very handy with our single handle bar pram. The only downside being I found threading the Velcro straps through the plastic hoops a bit fiddly and if you don’t do this then the Velcro doesn’t hold with the bag fully packed up.

Talking of packing up...the excellent size of the bag meant I was able to pack to the rafters with the baby stuff and my toddler’s bits and pieces.  There were a good number of inner pockets and a handy outer pocket for the things you need close to hand. I found this concealed outer pocket particularly good for my phone and car keys, so I didn’t need to rifle around for them when loaded down carrying a toddler and my baby in its car seat!
Inside the bag the removable insulated bottle holder is a good feature and was deep enough to fit two small bottles in it. The changing bag also comes with a well padded changing mat in the same printed design as the bag. It was surprisingly big enough to change my 2 year old on and comfy enough for my new born. 
The only thing I feel the bag could have benefited from was a separate compartment/detachable pocket to keep my nappy/wipes in so you didn’t have to take the whole bag with you.
Overall the Big Slouchy is a great accessory for any mum or dad who wants a hardy, good sized bag at an affordable price."
The New Babymel Big Slouchy bag retails at £55.

We were sent a Big Slouchy Bag to review free of charge. The opinions expressed in this review are nothing but honest.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Philips Avent Sterilizer - Review

When formula feeding, sterilizing the bottles becomes a nightly ritual for a whole year (uugh, I'd much rather have my feet up watching Corrie!) so you have to be happy with the equipment you use. I used an electric steam sterilizer when we had Isla 2 years ago and I decided that we'd do the same this time with Noah. I'm not against cold water sterilizing (very handy for when out of the house at my parents or on holidays) and I've never actually tried a microwave sterilizer so have no idea if they're any good, but I'll stick with what I know! Steam Sterilization is also the most effective at killing harmful germs.

I was sent the Philips Avent 3 in 1 Sterilizer to review and as soon as I switched to formula feeding I got started using it.

So, what's all this 3 in 1 business about? Well the machine has two baskets, and the idea is that you can use the big basket alone, or the small basket alone or use them both together stacked. In the early days with baby when there are more feeds you would use both baskets, but as the feeds drop then the need for both baskets would disappear. It's a great idea really. The machine is very streamlined and doesn't take up a lot of worktop space - which is at a premium in my kitchen.

The blurb says that it is suitable for all bottle types and as I don't use Philips Avent bottles, I wanted to know if I could easily fit my Tommee Tippee bottles in the baskets, and I'm pleased to say that I could get 5 bottles in there - which is all Noah needs in 1 day. They are pretty wide bottles but there was plenty of room. Obviously if we'd been using the straighter Philips Avent bottles then we'd have been able to fit 6.

Another important thing to consider when considering which sterilizer to buy is how long it takes to actually complete the task - this one takes 6 minutes which is pretty speedy - all good there then.

My gripes with the machine are that firstly the heating unit has the power lead going directly into it as opposed to having a one that you can detach. This makes it a bit of a pain when draining the water away from the water reservoir. A detachable power lead would be a much better design.

My second niggle is that the machine is that there is no display on it telling you how long ago the unit was switched on, so say if I put the bottles on to sterilize and my partner didn't realise then he may think they're not done and do them again or he may think they are done when they're not.

And my final gripe is that the heating element has tended to burn dry even when we've put the right amount of water in the reservoir. It has caused the element to discolour slightly. This hasn't affected its function though.

All in all, I would recommend the Philips Avent 3 in 1 Steam Sterilizer to new mums who are formula feeding. The Philips Avent 3 in 1 Steam Sterilizer retails at £59.99.

I was sent this product for free in order to write a review. My review is nothing but honest!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

RIO - New Release on DVD and Blu-Ray

Recently Isla and I had a fab girls day out to London Zoo to watch RIO, the new movie about two Macaws! I was really looking forward to the day and I'd told her what we were going to do and she was looking forward to it too - especially about getting her face painted!

The morning took a bit of a turn when I had to decide to ditch nappies for the first time at Isla's request and I felt that this new development could marr our day but it didn't, and we did have a fab time!

We arrived at London Zoo and went to the mummy blogger private showing, where there was a face painter - Isla asked to have a goat (yes, she's quite stuck on goats since our farm holiday!) but was very satisfied with the beautiful Blue Macaw. She was also really enamoured with the plush toys of Blu and Jewel that she received! And now on to the film....

RIO is a high-flying animated comedy for the whole family. Blu is an exotic pet bird who believes he's the last of his kind. But when his owner learns about Jewel, Blu's female counterpart in Rio de Janeiro, they set out on the adventure of a lifetime. Even though he's never learned to fly, Blu befriends a group of wise-cracking city birds who help him find the courage to spread his wings and follow his destiny!

I loved it because I'm lucky enough to have been to Rio on holiday a few years before we had the children and the film really captures the spirit of such a fantastic city - I particularly loved the scenes in the Sambadrome - we had an amazing time there at Carnival!

Isla was brilliant - she loved the film and was riveted to the chair while it was on (only one trip to the loo!) and she was dancing to the samba soundtrack at the end. My worries about her not being able to sit in a cinema set up were upfounded! The final treat was when Roberta the Macaw came to see everyone. What amazing birds they are - such beautiful colours and brilliantly behaved considering she was faced with a room of excitable children.

We reckon this movie would make a fab Christmas Stocking filler!

Rio is released on 24th October and "Angry Birds Rio" has joined the home entertainment release celebration and is adding to the fun! Consumers who purchase the Rio Blu-ray and DVD can download 15 all-new exclusive levels of this most popular application of all time. These new levels are all PC, MAC, tablet and mobile phone (Apple/Android) compatible.

In addition to the Blu-ray Triple Play (£24.99), Rio is available to purchase on DVD with Digital Copy (£19.99) and Blu-ray 3D (£29.99).

Here are a couple of fun Rio related games for your enjoyment:

Click to View some RIO Activity sheets and games

Friday, 14 October 2011

Peppa Pig - International Day & Other Stories - Review & Competition

Isla is absolutely obsessed with Peppa Pig, if I let her she would watch it over and over again! Not to mention the numerous t-shirts, slippers, hats all emblazoned with Peppa. In order to satisfy her thirst for all things Peppa she even went to Peppa Pig World this summer and tomorrow is going to see Peppa Pig Live, so you see we have a true fan on our hands! So when we were sent 'International Day and Other Stories to review she was so excited and if I'm honest so was I because it has episodes with my favourite character - Grampy Rabbit! Who can resist a character voiced by Brian Blessed?! Needless to say this DVD has already been watched 4 times in 3 days so I think it has Isla's seal of approval. I love watching her reactions to the characters and hearing her giggle to the tales of this cheeky piggy!  

Entertainment One would like to offer one of my readers the chance to win a copy of this DVD. All you have to do is comment below with the answer to the following question:

Who is Peppa Pig's best friend?

(a) Zoe Zebra
(b) Rebbecca Rabbit
(c) Susie Sheep

Please leave contact details along with your answer so I can get in touch should you be the winner! Entries need to be in by 24th October.

And should you need any convincing that this is a great DVD, Check out the blurb.....

International Day and Other Stories

Peppa Pig, the UK’s No. 1 pre-school character, returns to entertain your little ones this autumn in a brand new DVD Peppa Pig International Day and Other Stories.

Available from Monday 24th October 2011 (£12.99 RRP, Cert U, Entertainment One) just in time for the school and nursery half term break, the DVD is packed with 11 fun-filled tales about Peppa Pig and her family with all the joy and laughter we’ve come to expect from this adorable character.

Peppa Pig is a loveable, cheeky piggy who lives with her little brother George, Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig. Peppa’s favourite things include playing games, dressing up, days out and jumping in muddy puddles. Her adventures always end happily with loud snorts of laughter.

Join Peppa Pig and her little brother George for the lead International Day episode, where Peppa and all her friends at playgroup dress up as different countries from all over the world, and 10 other adventures that will have the whole family singing Peppa Pig – Oink Oink!

International Day - Grampy Rabbit's Boatyard - Shake Rattle and Bang - Pottery -- Mr Fox's Van - Biggest Puddle in the World - Chatterbox - Chloe's Big Friends - Edmond Elephant's Birthday -  Gym Class
BONUS EPISODE - Paper Aeroplane

Thursday, 13 October 2011

The Adventures of Isla & Noah - Fab Farm Holiday At Coombe Mill!

This September we rather bravely went on our first family holiday as a foursome! Noah was 10 weeks old and Isla is 2 and we all went to Cornwall, which isn't the most fantastic of car journeys. As the day of departure approached I had a feeling of dread! How was it going to work? Four of us in the car with all our luggage for 7 hours, what was I thinking when I booked this holiday??!!
Isla and Sheepy (yes that manky sheep had to come too!)
As it turned out my kids were FANTASTIC! We stopped twice both ways at the times when Noah needed feeding. Obviously we were at his beck and call and so had to stop for as long as it took to change and feed him - an hour both times in case you're interested, therefore making a 5 hour journey take 7 hours. Even more surprising that Isla didn't go stir crazy in the car. She slept for about 1 hour of the journey. The rest of it she chatted and sang songs and looked out the window and did some drawing.

Isla with one of the chicks
So we arrived at our holiday destination and couldn't have been happier! We were staying at Coombe Mill, which is a farm in North Cornwall, very close to Padstow and Port Issac (Doc Martin is filmed here apparently). I knew that Isla would love it from the minute that I read about it. There is a feed run 6 days a week to feed the animals on the farm and this involves going on a tractor. She loved doing this and so did I. It was brilliant walking around the farm in the fresh air and Isla loved seeing the animals up close. We fed the animals together - and we took up our scraps to the greedy piggies - who as soon as they saw the tractor would run the length of the fence to greet the farmer and his bucket of food! We also saw the deer run majestically across the fields - such beautiful creatures! Isla's favourite part of the feed run was feeding the rabbits and collecting the eggs! Collecting eggs even resulted in her eating her first ever egg - how could she not eat a boiled egg collected fresh that morning? I was elated by this as she is a notoriously fussy eater, she had 2 eggs that week!

What else did we do? We went swimming to a local pool when it was a rainy afternoon. We went to Padstow - didn't end up having Rick Stein fish and chips but we did have a cream tea AND a big ice-cream! We went to Newquay, had fish and chips and paddled on Fistral Beach. We went to Truro for a bit of a gander - this wasn't intentional we were heading for St Ives but realised we were a bit late to make the most of it and so stopped here instead. We also went to Polzeath beach to make sand castles and check out the hot surfers.

Of course she didn't write this, she's only 2!
And the time that we weren't gadding about North Cornwall was spent at the cottage which was well equipped for families. Mine and Tony's only gripe was that the bedroom was a little small for the four poster bed it had in it - the number of times we bumped our head on the overhead frame when getting up to feed Noah in the night was comical, but really that was the only thing and we are both exceptionally tall! We loved that the reception was stocked with some kids DVDs - Isla has developed an unhealthy love of 102 Dalmatians after a rainy Tuesday afternoon watching it twice! And if we hadn't of remembered our welly boots we would have found a pair our size to borrow. We also made use of the fab freezer with home cooked meals on our first night.

Noah's first ever trip to the beach!
Because we went in September after all the kids have gone back to school most families had children around Isla's age and babies. Everyone was so friendly and relaxed and sharing info on places they'd been that was good and also keeping an eye out for each others little ones and lending a swim nappy or two. All in all we had an absolutely fabulous time at Coombe Mill, Isla especially loved it and has developed a love of goats! We'd definitely go back - especially knowing that there are now Wallabies on the farm!

Here are a few more pics: