Thursday, 27 January 2011

Swim Baby Swim UK - Review

Recently I was lucky enough to be asked if Isla and I would like to take a swimming course with Anne Hawley of Swim Baby Swim. Well, I jumped at the chance because Isla really is a little water baby. She absolutely loves the pool and I knew that this was an opportunity too good to miss!

I will be reviewing the course as it goes on over 6 weeks and I'm so pleased to say that lesson 1 went brilliantly!

Anne Hawley is widely recognised as the pioneer and expert of infant swimming and has been in the profession since 1974. Her reputation and lifelong commitment to safely swimming infants has resulted in her distinct, innovative and unique method of swimming babies being copied all over the world.

Anne teaches at locations across London, Surrey and West Sussex. Our lesson took place in Chessington, Surrey which was the most convenient for us and the pool was within a hotel health club, so was really clean, with good facilities and quite a calm setting. The lessons are 30 minutes in length.

We got in the car on Sunday morning, slightly bleary eyed but looking forward to our new weekend activity. Once we were changed and in our cossies, we met Anne and started the lesson. We were in a small group with 3 other children. The exercises we did help to build confidence in the water and ultimately independence.

Isla had fun with the floats, body surfing up and down the pool. I also swam the length of the pool with Anne holding Isla on my back, which I think she found amusing, like I was her own personal dolphin. The kids were also encouraged to grip hold of the side on their own. Isla proved that she doesn't mind getting water all over her face, when it was sprinkled over her and finally the most nail biting part from my point of view was when she was submerged. It was Mummy that needed to be brave on that occasion. Anne talked us through what we were going to do. I was to lift Isla up in the air twice, smiling at her the whole time and then on the third lift bring her down just under the surface of the water. I was to then slowly bring her back out of the water. I did exactly as I was told until the part when I had to bring Isla back out of the water and I did what Anne said most parents do the first time they do the exercise, which was panic slightly and bring her out quick! She made a fuss for about 10 seconds and then as soon as she saw a toy in the water was completely fine again. I'm resolved that Mummy will do better next time.

Isla absolutely loved every minute of the lesson and so did I. We hadn't realised that Hubbie could join us in the pool too, so this Sunday he will be bringing his trunks and sharing in the experience. I'm a firm believer that learning to swim is imperative in childhood and from my conversation with Anne, if children are taught to swim from birth they can even be swimming at least 5 metres independently before their 1st birthday! Imagine that? A baby could be swimming before taking their first steps. My Dad took me for swimming lessons when I was a little girl and our plan is to do the same for our little ones.

I'll keep you updated on how our lessons go, I left the pool on Sunday feeling like we'd had a really great bonding session and couldn't wait to get to Isla's Nanny and Granddad's to tell them all about it. To be continued...

For more details on Anne Hawley and Swim Baby Swim, go to:
http://swimbabyswim.info/

Isla and I are taking part in the lessons as a trial and they have been provided free of charge for the purposes of the review.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Gallery - Children



When I saw that the topic this week for The Gallery was 'Children', the obvious choice was to pick a photo of my gorgeous daughter, but then I thought no, how's about a pic of me, in my favourite Chelsea shirt. I love this photo - the poor colour quality, the groovy 1970's decor and how lovely my nan looks! I also know that my mum would have cut that fringe and later on that day we'd probably have watched 'Metal Mickey' or 'Doctor Who' on the black and white TV.

My sister and I used to spend many a Saturday afternoon at our grandparents house while my mum worked and my Dad was in The Shed end at Stamford Bridge cheering on the blues. I loved wearing this shirt and if I could still have one item of my childhood clothing it would be this.

In the winter we'd spend hours playing board games or cards with my nan and in the summer we'd be having adventures amongst the beanstalks at the end of the garden, more often than not tottering around in my nan's high heeled shoes - we've got the Cine film somewhere of this, must get it out one day!

If you want to check out Tara's blog and all the other Gallery entries go to: Sticky Fingers - there are some brilliant pictures!


Monday, 24 January 2011

Bump Watch...Week 17


Apparently there's a baby the size of a bell pepper in there - why do they always compare babies to fruit and veg?!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Cybermummy 2011 Sponsorship Request...


I am looking for a kind, caring, sharing sponsor to send me to CyberMummy 11 - the UK's number one blogging conference. 

I started blogging in November last year and since then I've become quite addicted to it! I've made some lovely mummy contacts in such a short space of time and they all in their own way add to my parenting experience, from sharing tips and problems to comparing funny anecdotes about our kids. I wanted my blog to reach out to new mums, and mums who are old hands at the job. When I became aware of Cybermummy 11,  I really felt it was something I wanted to be part of as it will help me move things along with my blog. I'd really value the advice and experience I could gain from attending. It takes place on the 25th June 2011 and it's basically the top notch event in the mummy blogging cybersphere! To enable me to go I would love to be sponsored by a business looking to reach out to the parenting world.

About me

I'm a 35 year old mother of 1, a daughter aged 18 months, also expecting baby number 2 in July, so I'll probably be the size of a planet come the 25th June, the day of the conference! I work 4 days a week, which apparently is part time, but feels like full time in my book. Apart from being a mum and employee, I blog and spend as much time as I can with friends and family.

What do I need?

Cybermummy ticket £100 - It's really that simple

And that really is all, as I live in Greater London and already own a season ticket for travel, so no need for accommodation or train fare

What I can offer you:

Announcement blog post and tweets announcing my partnership with your product/ brand

Further mentions in my blog and tweets in the run up to the event - this could be more lucrative for you if I had material to blog about in the form of products you need testing or competitions I could run for you

I Heart Motherhood will happily host an ad on the blog for your product/ brand in a prominent place that will be welcome to stay for 1 year

I will wear a T-shirt with your logo emblazoned across my bump at Cybermummy and believe me by then I will be enormous so you'll have a high profile while I'm there!

In a nutshell I would be a brilliant ambassador for you and your brand/ product, I'd work my little socks off!

I may not have thought of everything, so I'm all ears if there's anything else I may not have mentioned above! If you're interested and think we could work together then drop me a line at
sharon.donnelly@ymail.com or tweet me @iheartmuthahood

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

7 Things You didn't know About Me...A Meme

Yesterday I was tagged by MissieLizzie at Me and My Shadow to join in with the '7 things you didn't know about me meme'. I'm not very good at things like this but I put my mind to it and came up with the following facts.....

1. When I was younger I wanted my middle name to be Cindy...

2. In primary school I really wanted to be Mary in the nativity play but because the headmistress witnessed a tantrum with my mum in the playground about not buying me sweets, she said I couldn't be Mary for fear that I would have a tantrum in the middle of the play - BITCH.

3. I used to have a crush on Snooker ace Stephen Hendry - yeah I know - yuk!

4. I had a Saturday job in a florist when I was 15 and once mixed up some floral tributes for a funeral - I felt terrible.

5. I was a Brossette. Grolsch bottle tops on my shoes, James Dean belt buckle, bandanna, I bought into it all, including untold copies of Smash Hits with my idols on the front cover. I Heart Matt Goss, oh dear!

6. I've been to see Level 42 within the past 2 years (can't even claim it was in the 80's!), let me off though because it was a gift from me to my Dad...

7. I have a long scar on my right forearm where I fell over on my roller boots when I was about 7 and gouged it on a rusty old gate

There you go, some facts that you may or probably may not have wanted to know but it's been fun trying to recall things!

The rules of the challenge are that I have to tag another 15 people to do the challenge but I've seen so many tweeps/ bloggers I know take the challenge that I don't think I can do this bit - maybe next time I might be a bit quicker off the mark and get my tags in first! What are your 7 facts? It's hard isn't it!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Bump Watch...Week 16


It's not really a baby it's the big jacket spud and chilli I had for dinner tonight!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Sure Start Children's Centres

This is another one of my recommendations for a place to go with your little one to get out of the house and socialise with other mums. However just as I decided to write about it I read on Netmums about how local councils will be closing some of these centres down in a bid to cut money.

This doesn't surprise me really, as another one of my topics in recent weeks was about local libraries and the excellent Bookstart scheme (see blog post here). This is now being scrapped and so gradually one by one family resources are being cut to help council budgets that have been cut by the Government to help with the deficit.

Anyhow, I don't want to get too bogged down in political stuff here, while the Sure Start centres do exist I would wholeheartedly recommend new mums to visit their local one and check it out (and if you like it perhaps campaign to keep them open!). In the early days of having Isla, my NCT friends and I all attended a free 6 week baby massage course. The fact that this was free was fantastic to me as it was 45 minutes spent with my friends in a friendly environment with a qualified baby masseur. Our babies all enjoyed it in varying degrees (there was a fair amount of crying!) but we enjoyed having somewhere to go and have a catch up and increase our confidence with our newborn.

Since then a centre has opened just 5 minutes walk from me and lady luck smiled on me when they scheduled a Stay and Play session for Wednesday mornings, my day off! When Isla and I don't have other plans we only have to throw our coats on and walk round the corner for a new selection of toys, some messy play and in the summer a reasonably sized outdoor area to play in. All the kids play, the mums can have a chat and then at the end of the session everyone helps to tidy up and then there's a singing session to wind it up.

I really hope that my local centre isn't closed and local authorities realise that it isn't an option to cut these valuable resources from our communities. Sure Start Centres are useful for all sorts of reasons, amongst them:

- Helping young/ first time mums make contact with other mums
- Running courses and groups to help with parenting skills and increase confidence in new parents
- Free Toy Libraries

What are your thoughts on this? Will you be affected if there are closures?

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Listography - Top 5 Favourite and Memorable Places I've visted


1. Thailand - Koh Lanta - Such a chilled out place. I have my friends to thank for putting me on to Koh Lanta, they went there on their gap year and loved it and I joined them for a holiday. Two years later I returned with my then boyfriend (now OH) and we had a fantastic time again - 4 whole weeks in paradise. All the surrounding islands are also beautiful. Time really does stand still here and I couldn't and still can't get enough of the Thai food. Best of all are the beaches, the water is sparkling and the snorkeling was brilliant.


2. Brazil - Rio - One of my favourite holidays was to Brazil and being at the Sambadrome for Carnaval. It really was crazy and went on for hours. The colours, the sights and sounds were just out of this world and you have to be there to really understand the vibrancy of it all. The costumes, or lack of costumes (!) were amazing and the floats must take the best part of a year to organise. The competition really is fierce between the different Samba schools, to win first prize. Amazing!

3. France - Saumur, Loire Valley - this was one of my first holidays with the OH and it was hilarious, but it was back in the day before we had a digi camera. Not having really been camping before we didn't appreciate all the equipment needed! So we drove to France, pitched up at our campsite feeling all pleased with ourselves that we had a tent, sleeping bags and a couple of disposable BBQ's. Who would have thought that you need a bit more than this: cutlery, plates/ bowls, chairs, gas stove, pans/ kettle and all manner of other camping gear!! Luckily we had people camping next to us who felt sorry for us and lent us a chair but we still had to make a trip to the supermarket to buy all manner of things. And to add to my mans misery the swimming pool wouldn't let the men in without wearing SPEEDO'S!! All in all it was a fabulous if not a little make shift holiday.


4. Greece - Naxos - Honeymoon. A wonderful island. Delicious Greek food (of course!) and a trip to the nudist beach - a first for us both, but now I've had kids, not something I'll be repeating!!


5. Norfolk - Wells Next The Sea - wonderful place on the Norfolk cost, lovely beaches - nearby Brancaster beach was used for Shakespeare in Love. I've been there twice and loved it both times. And the mussels bought from someones garage were huge and when cooked in a Moule Mariniere were out of this world! The second time there was a whole group of friends, probably the last time before having children that we all went away and didn't have a care in the world.

This post was inspired by the Listograpy blog post at:

Katetakes5

Check it out - Kate also recounts some wonderful trips to make you envious!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

New Obsession - Annie the Musical


While I was laid up in bed with tonsillitis the weekend before Christmas, my husband had the pleasure of looking after our 18 month old for 2 days on his own while I felt like I was dying. I felt really sorry for myself and I couldn't do anything, not even speak. The two of them spent the whole time keeping away from Mummy and when they did venture upstairs they would pop their heads around the door, Isla would come to the side of the bed and look very quizzically at me as if to say, 'what are you doing, why are you laying in bed instead of playing with us?' Hubbie would then usher them out so they didn't catch the bugs and Isla would wave at me and say 'bye, bye'. I felt miserable as I could hear all the laughter and usual hub bub of our family going on downstairs except without me!

On the second day of my confinement I noticed in the afternoon that things had gone very quiet downstairs, apart from the sound of 'Annie the musical'. I was intrigued! A bit later on I could hear Isla seemingly getting a bit worried and the Hubbie telling her not to worry Annie would be alright! I wasn't all that familiar with Annie at the time so didn't know the plot. Little did I know that I would become so familiar with the plot that I could now be Miss Hannigan's understudy (I'm sure I could pull off acting like an old lush and looking like a trannie!) and that I would also come to think that Albert Finny's 'Daddy Warbucks' was actually quite fanciable!!

Since that fateful day Isla has become obsessed with Annie and I don't use that term loosely (Annie seems to be as addictive as 'Gummeeeee' - see previous blog post!). From the first viewing she loved the song 'Tomorrow', her own version being 'Moro, Moro'. She does this from the minute she comes downstairs in the morning to the minute she goes to bed pointing at the TV and demanding 'Moro, Moro'. From the point in the film that my Hubbie realised that she was really into it he pressed record on Sky, this meant we only had it from about 25 minutes in and also had all the ad breaks to fast forward - and we have to do that as quickly as possible or we get 'moro, moro, moro, moro', chanted repeatedly until it comes back on. I find it so strange that at such a young age (18 months) she can love a film so much, I wouldn't have believed that a toddler would have the attention span to sit for long and believe me, she is as much of a live wire as any toddler, running rings round me and shrieking most of the time!

It has been known on any one day for Annie to have been on twice. I'd just like to make clear now that I'm not a parent that shoves their child in front of the TV and so we try our best to distract her into playing games or doing other activities but she truly loves it and so I've given in and bought the DVD, so that we can (a) watch it from the start and (b) not have ad breaks to fast forward! The DVD is a double bill with Oliver, so I'm hoping we might be able to transfer her affections to something different just for a change. Wish me luck.....

Monday, 10 January 2011

Bump Watch...week 15


Not much visible bumpage at the moment! Just looks like a fat tum to be honest!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Favourite Illustrations - Nursery Decor Ideas

Before Isla arrived and I had time on my hands to plan her new bedroom I put my mind to how I could make it a bit different from the usual pink fest (we knew we were having a girl), and so I started to think about some of the things I loved when I was growing up and what came to mind first was how I loved the stories of Roald Dahl. They fired up my imagination and I consumed his books like I do chocolate nowadays! As well as the wonderful stories I also adored the illustrations by Quentin Blake that went with the books and I believe that their partnership was amazing, they really complented eachother.

I can't wait until Isla can devour my favourite Roald Dahl stories, The Twits, George's Marvellous Medicine and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In the meantime though I wanted to impress on her my love of Quentin Blake's illustrations and so she has 3 of his framed prints in her nursery, my favourite one being of the Oompa Loompa's. We also have Matilda and Sophie and the BFG. We bought these from the webstore online at The Roald Dahl Museum. She knows their names and they get a 'night - night' at bedtime along with the menagerie of soft toys and all the wall sticker animals (see previous post Gorgeous Wall Stickers).

Perhaps you have favourite childhood characters that you could somehow incorporate into your little ones nursery decor? Another favourite of mine was Rhubarb and Custard and I've framed 2 cute greetings cards I found of them that I instantly I loved and they are also hanging up above her cot.
I love how Isla's room has a variety of things to look at and I hope as she grows up she loves it too.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

The Year that was 2010!

Last year was predominantly a year of getting to know my baby some more and a return to work from Maternity leave. Here are some highlights of my year. 

In January it really felt like the countdown was on to my return to work and on reflection I think I spent too much time worrying and thinking about going back than making the most of the time I had left!

I always hate February, given that it's the shortest month of the year, to me it always feels like the longest. Always so dark, dreary and gloomy that I like to get it over and done with as quickly as possible, so lets move on to....

March: This was the month that Isla started nursery and how I hated those early days! The first day that I left her there for any length of time my hubbie and I went into town to do some shopping. I thought it was meant to feel like freedom and that I'd feel like the old me, but instead I just felt rotten! In the car on the way there I cried continuously. I walked round the shops in a daze with tears in my eyes and to make myself feel less guilty for being away from her I bought her some new things. I practically ran up the 45 degree angle hill to the nursery to fetch her to find that of course she was fine and had a better day than I had!

April: Back to work and it was like I'd never left!! I reduced my hours from 5 days to 4 days, with my day off being mid week so I didn't have to be parted from my little imp for more than 2 days - this fitted in perfectly with my best friend who also adopted the same work hours and so we have lovely Wednesday's together with our children playing together.

I also completed a swimathon for Marie Curie Cancer Care (see blog post The Big C) - 2.5km of breast stroke, back stroke, front crawl and by the end doggie paddle (!) in a time of 1 hour 9 minutes.

May: Isla's first shoes from Clarks. I loved that shopping experience - they take a photo of your child in their first shoes. It made it feel quite special.

June: More fund raising with my sister this time for Race For Life. In total raised over £800 with both of my efforts combined, so I was extremely proud of myself and as was my Dad!

July: The eagerly anticipated 1st birthday! Her homemade birthday card made with my own fair hands was shown on CBeebies much to my excitement!
We had a couple of get togethers planned but Isla was ill on the day (made for a bit of an anti-climax!), so we ended up with a small get together a bit further down the month. She had a lovely time and me and the OH felt very proud of ourselves at having survived the year.

September: Our first holiday abroad with a child on a plane! Hmmm, I'm not in a hurry to repeat that experience.....more on that at a later date....lets just say I learnt that holidays will never be the same again.


December: The month of snow (what a drag!) and Christmas! Our second Christmas as a little family and we were also in the knowledge that another baby is on the way. Good times!


Here's to a healthy and happy 2011 for everyone! Our baby girl is growing into a real little lady and I can't wait to see how she grows this year and adapts to life as a big sister!

This post also features on SuperAmazingMum pop over there and check her out, she's a lovely lady!