Saturday, 29 December 2012

Peppa Pig's Treasure Hunt Review



CRITERION THEATRE: 6 December 2012 – 6 January 2013

So after our girls afternoon at Aladdin we followed it up by spending Christmas Eve back in London watching Peppa Pig's Treasure hunt with Aunty K and Cousin M. It was fab. The girls both love Peppa Pig and it was the perfect holiday time treat! 


In Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt Peppa Pig and her friends set off on a new adventure, a treasure hunt. Peppa, her brother George and friend Danny Dog get up to fun and games on a day out on Granddad Dog's boat. There are clues aplenty as Pedro Pony, Polly Parrot and Zoe Zebra help them find their treasure as they all enjoy a day of adventure. Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt features true-to-life puppets, sing-along songs and a story that will charm and delight all her fans. 


What did we think?
Well the girls loved it! It was a hit from the very beginning, they were shouting out, singing along, laughing and did the usual worried look when the interval started and said "it is coming back on, isn't it?". The puppets are great and the puppeteers are also good as they manage to convey the characters of the cast of Peppa Pig without being too obviously present on the stage. They also do a really good attempt at sounding like the characters, the girl speaking as Miss Rabbit did a good job of sounding mildly sarcastic! There are some funny moments when George cries and the audience get slightly wet with his tears. We also loved the bit when Peppa is on the beach looking in a rock pool and it all goes dark and then fluorescent starfish, jellyfish and seahorses come out - it felt really magical for the kids. 

The only human character is Daisy who brings the whole story together, talking to audience and helping Peppa and her friends find the clues to the treasure - which was lots of presents from Father Christmas. Father Christmas made an appearance on stage which was very exciting for the girls and everyone sang a rendition of Jingle Bells. 

We had such a lovely morning and it was a really nice way to spend Christmas Eve and start to feel the magic build up. Theatre trips with the kids at Christmas time really are a must! For tickets go to www.peppapiglive.com

Disclaimer: We were given 4 tickets to Peppa Pig's Treasure Hunt

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Aladdin - A Wish Come True - Review




The O2 launches new theatre space with first-ever holiday pantomime
- Theatre space set to further diversify attractions available at The O2 -
- New purpose-built theatre to debut this Christmas with Aladdin A Wish Come True -

This Christmas the O2 has staged its first-ever pantomime under the tent with Lily Savage leading an all-star cast production of Aladdin A Wish Come True in a new purpose-built theatre.

The performances between 7 December and 5 January 2013 will see the inaugural use of the theatre space at The O2. It has been created to further diversify attractions at the venue in addition to the world-class live entertainment already available.

Appearing by kind permission of Mr. Paul O’Grady, Lily Savage will perform as Widow Twankey on a proscenium arch stage in front of 1,900 seats adjacent to the bars and restaurants of The O2’s Entertainment Avenue. Former S Club 7 member Jon Lee will play as Aladdin with legendary theatre impresario Michael Rose producing the show.

Rebecca Kane, General Manager of The O2, said: “We are always thinking of new ways to add to and diversify the live entertainment available at The O2, appealing to the broadest ages and interests possible.  It is exciting to have a specially built, live theatre on site for Christmas 2012 and I can’t think of a better way to introduce it than with this classic British Pantomime.  It is a fantastic production with a super cast and, along with all of our other attractions here, such as our rooftop walk ‘Up at The O2’, our interactive museum – The British Music Experience and the vast choice of restaurants, the O2 provides a fantastic day out for everyone from across London and beyond.”

Michael Rose said, “Not only is it exciting to produce The O2’s first ever panto, it is an honour to be opening this new theatre space within The O2, which I am sure will be used to great success.  The range of theatre-based programming The O2 will now be able to offer will make this venue a true entertainment destination.”

What did we think?

Isla and I went together, we were all meant to go but Noah was poorly so stayed at home with Daddy. Isla loves a good show, so I had high hopes that she would love this one too. We arrived at the O2 (which we've been to before for In The Night Garden and loved it there) and collected our tickets with ease and entered the newly erected theatre tent. The staff were really friendly and we were able to leave the buggy in the foyer. Although it is a pop up theatre it had all the facilities and it was also very warm in there (almost too warm). It had all the usual refreshments to buy and a few promotional things - I got away lightly by only buying Isla a flashing ring for £2. 

We took our seats (it's worth mentioning that the seats aren't your usual theatre seats - they are the plastic ones you usually get in a music gig - but they've added a little cushion to try and make the performance more comfortable to sit through) and waited for the show to begin. And it began with a funeral in Birkenhead - not what you'd expect in a panto, but it set the story well. Widow Twankey is left a launderette in Old Peking in her late husbands will and from the land of the Scouser we are transported to the Orient! I loved Lily Savage in this production. I felt like this was a panto that appealed to adults and children - in fact I wasn't expecting to see groups of adults watching a panto without children - but it does happen it seems! The only thing I would say is that the bits that Isla (who is 3 and a half) didn't like were the bits where Lily Savage was doing her own solo bit - there was about 10 minutes of this at one point that I was thoroughly enjoying but Isla wasn't so bear this in mind. That said there was plenty that Isla did like about it!

Her favourite bit of all was the magic carpet scene where Aladdin seems to fly out above the audience, there were no obvious mechanics so she really did think it was flying. She also seemed to really like Aladdin, played by ex-S Club 7 band member Jon Lee and I have to say that his singing was superb! He was so enthusiastic and made a great Aladdin. The other great thing about the Panto were the references to other well known films/ songs that Isla could make a connection with. For example Aladdin and the Genie of Abanazar's ring sing a fabulous rendition of 'You got a Friend in Me' from Toy Story - a song that Isla loves. It was also obvious to me that Widow Twankey rather resembled Miss Hannigan from Annie and no sooner had I thought it the younger members of the cast in one of the scenes say 'We Love You Mrs Twankey' in the same way the orphans say it in Annie. Again this is another of Isla's favourite films and a show that we must see when I ever notice it touring!

All in all we had a very enjoyable afternoon. In summary the cast were great, including the children. The appearance of the Genie to Pink's 'Get the Party Started' was probably my favourite bit - great voice and staging. The dancing in the show was top notch. I'm a big Strictly Come Dancing fan and it tapped into that for me and helped me mourn the loss of it from my weekend! The orchestra were amazing - watch out at the beginning though for a very sudden blast from the brass instruments where Isla nearly jumped out of her skin! If you've still got some time on your hands over the holidays then I fully recommend a visit to this Panto, it's great for all the family.

Tickets for Aladdin A Wish Come True can be purchased via www.TheO2.co.uk


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Turkey Enchiladas - Recipe

Last week we were lucky enough to take delivery of an Asda Butcher's Choice Turkey! I've never cooked a whole turkey before, only turkey crown or breast, so I approached it with trepidation but decided that I'd just cook it like I do any roast dinner. We were also given an Asda gift card in order to get some bits to go with our turkey, so I got all the veg and the pigs in blankets, stuffing (forgot the cranberry sauce though!) and some mince pies for afters. I was really impressed with all the Christmas fare available when I went in store and especially impressed with the 'Extra Special' range, made in partnership with Leith's School of Food and Wine.

Once we got home from the supermarket I got cracking and put the turkey in the oven and prepped the veg. The turkey said it would feed 9 people so I knew that we would have plenty of left overs to make something else the next day.

So this is our turkey at the end of cooking and the dinner that we sat down to eat. The OH was very impressed - and he'd done a hard days work as a postman so a big roast was just what he needed! The turkey really was deliciously soft and tasty.




The following day I made Turkey soup, yeah I know not a very original use of turkey leftovers but it's the right time of year for soup, and I make it regularly when we have a left over chicken carcass. Recipe can be found here - just replace chicken with turkey. There was also enough turkey to make Enchiladas, which is great for a tasty lunch, here's my recipe:




Ingredients:

Leftover turkey - use enough turkey to feed two
2 Peppers, sliced into strips - I used yellow and orange
1 Red Onion, sliced into thin half moons
3 Garlic cloves
1 teaspoon of Lazy Chili
Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 teaspoon of Cumin
Half a teaspoon of Ground Coriander
390g Chopped Tomatoes
Dash of Worcestershire Sauce
1 Chicken Stock Cube with 100 ml of water

4 Flour Tortillas
75g of Cheddar Cheese
150ml Sour Cream
Salt and Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C.

Method:
  • Gently fry the peppers and onion in the olive oil until nice and soft, adding in the garlic after 5 minutes and the lazy chili, cumin and ground coriander once softened.
  • Add the turkey, chopped tomatoes, chicken stock and Worcestershire sauce and leave to simmer for 10 minutes - that's your Enchilada filling done
  • Place 1 tortilla in your oven dish and put some of the turkey filling in the centre. Fold the tortilla so that the filling is sealed. Repeat this with all four tortillas so that you have them all in the line, nice and snug.
  • Mix the Sour cream and cheese together and then spread over the top of the lined up tortillas. Put on a baking tray and place in the oven until nicely browned on the top and the filling is starting to bubble out the ends of the tortilla - about 20 minutes.
  • Serve with some nice salad - ENJOY
I've found this a great way to use up left over turkey. There are so many things you can do with the left over bird on Boxing Day - what would you do?

Thank you to Asda for sending us the turkey, gift card and a few other treats - including some really delicious 'Extra Special' Belgian  Marc De Champagne Truffles - pick some up if you can!



Monday, 17 December 2012

Getting Rid of The Dummy!



This week something big happened. Isla kicked her "Nummy" (her name for it) habit! It was a day that I couldn't see coming at all and it was meant to happen a year ago - Father Christmas was meant to take it in exchange for presents but it never happened, he was too busy delivering presents to stick to his guns on that threat. I remember in the early days of this blog writing about her Gummeeeee (as it was then called - it's gone through a few names changes!) and how at the age that Noah is now, she would call out in the night and we'd have to go in and replace it 5+ times). In recent times we'd whittled the dummies down from having about 8 in circulation to this one lone yellow number, that used to have a frog motif on the front. Isla would occasionally refer to the frog, saying sadly, "there's no frog here now Mummy". The number of times that we misplaced this one dummy and turned over the whole house trying to find it I couldn't count.

Dummy use was only for bed time and that had been the long standing rule for a good while. She had a dummy at nursery that she would use at nap times there, but that mysteriously got 'lost', yet she wouldn't struggle to nap there, so I felt that this was proof enough that the dummy was no longer needed - she didn't *need* it to get to sleep. I kept suggesting to her that she was a big girl and that she didn't need her nummy anymore, but with a glint in her eye she would always say "I do Mummy, I need it".

This week however the situation was taken out of my hands and Isla came to me with Nummy and told me it had a hole in! This was obviously making it a bit less effective and also from my point of view we couldn't keep using this thing with a hole in it - it would be a germ breeding ground (if it wasn't already). So I said as much to her and she looked slightly perturbed, but she didn't get really upset and whingey like she had in the past so I pressed the point that it couldn't be used and then the real clincher came when I said that if she gave up Nummy she could have a Barbie. Well that was that - Nummy was handed over and there was no argument. I couldn't quite believe it, I'd seized the opportunity and the habit was over.

AND YES I RESORTED TO BRIBERY. AND IT WORKED! I'M NOT ASHAMED!

She was pleased as punch and as luck would have it she went to bed that night without Nummy and was happy to wait until the morning for the presentation of Barbie! We had a Barbie in the cupboard which was one of her Christmas presents, it was a pretty inexpensive one and for the sake of getting rid of the Nummy it made one happy little girl and one happy mummy. I'm pleased that it's gone now as I knew that she was getting way too old for it and also I was sure that the dentist wouldn't be impressed. Although I am going to admit to feeling a small tinge of sadness as it was the final frontier of babyhood. The last thing that baby-fied her. Every evening in her pyjamas she would sit watching a bit of bedtime TV, with a cup of milk and her nummy and Sheepy and I'd hear her occasionally suck suck suck on it. Nummy has hardly been mentioned since, only to say that she's a big girl now and she doesn't need it and that the babies need it now. Go Isla!




Wednesday, 12 December 2012

How to Make a Christmas Snow Globe

The kids and I have made a few crafty things in the run up to Christmas - these Homemade Tree Decorations:

And also some salt dough decorations, which were fun to make so we got on a bit of a roll and I decided we'd be a bit ambitious and make a Christmas Snow Globe. This was made all the more exciting because it meant I would need a glue gun - something that is a must have for most crafters - so I think I've made it into the ranks now! hahahaha! 

What you will need to make a Christmas Snow Globe:

Materials with my Glamorous Assistant!

An empty clean glass jar with a secure lid
Enamel paint to paint the jar lid
A plastic Christmassy ornament - important to pick a material that won't perish in the water
Glitter
Glycerin - can be bought from pharmacy
Water
Glue Gun
Silicone

And one Glamorous Assistant!

Firstly Paint the Lid with the Enamel Paint - we chose Red!
We dried the lid with the hair dryer in order to speed up the process!
Add glue (using glue gun!) to underside of lid and attach Snowman.
Stick optional stars around the jar.
Fill jar with water!
Add Glitter - LOTS!
Add Glycerin - just a dash - to thicken the water and
make the glitter float and swirl around better!
Then screw on your lid and seal up the jar using silicon
 (the stuff that you would use to seal round baths) - smooth it round neatly
and then leave the jar with your  Snowman upside down overnight, to ensure silicone dries and seals
In the morning turn over your snowglobe and check that it's not leaking!
Add a pretty ribbon to the bottom and give it a good shake and watch the magic!
This will make a fab Christmas gift for the Grandparents! 


Tots100 Experience Days Competition

Friday, 7 December 2012

It's Not All Sunshine and Flowers...

Sometimes this blog can paint a picture of a fantastic family life. We did this, we did that, we did crafty stuff, we baked, we laughed so much etc etc. However life isn't always like that behind the scenes. I like to write about the happy stuff as for me this blog is more about being a diary of my kids lives and the fun we have but I forget sometimes that it can be an outlet for me to channel some thoughts. Today I feel like shit. I look like shit and I've behaved in a rather shitty way.

This week I've been really busy at work and I have a slightly tricky project on that is putting me on edge all day long. I've worked on my afternoon off which has severely annoyed me as this is my only time during the week with the kids. I also worked all evening that day making me no fun as a partner in the evening. Two out of two for being a crap mum and crap wife there. Then I couldn't even enjoy the kids nursery Christmas show for (a) someone calling me re work knowing I had booked time off to be at the show and (b) some other work crisis (that wasn't actually a crisis but tell that to your client) that someone at work very kindly helped me with.

So this morning I NEEDED to get to work on time to sort out this project that is getting me down. Isla and I get out the front door (her with a banana and her morning milk in her hands, me with laptop on my back) to make the mad dash in the buggy to nursery so I can shove her through the nursery door with a quick kiss and then run to get my train. Only this doesn't happen. We get 5 mins up the road and this happens:

"My sheep, my sheep!"
"WHAT?!"
"Where's Sheepy?"
"seriously Isla Mummy is going to be late, do you really need Sheepy today?"
Face looks really unhappy and sad "yeeees I do"
"FOR GOD'S SAKE, NOW I'LL BE LATE, YOU NEED TO KEEP HOLD OF YOUR THINGS ETC ETC" marching back to the house.

I carry on shouting, hunting for the sheep while Isla stands bewildered. I say LOOK FOR IT THEN!!! But she doesn't know where. She probably can't think for me ranting and raving. This goes on for 5 minutes, I go upstairs twice. My mother in law looks too and Noah has no idea what's going on. Then she chooses another sheep and we go.

I continue to have steam coming out of my ears. At the end of our road I see a little grey lump, on the pavement, it looks like Sheepy. It is Sheepy. How had I walked past this while stomping back home?! We pick it up, both relieved. We get 1 minute up the road and I start to cry while tearing along with the buggy. I've missed my train, so the hurry isn't that great as I have plenty of time till the next one. I'm now hurrying because I want to get to nursery to properly say sorry and give my beautiful girl a hug and a kiss. I feel like one terrible mum.

And I can say I've felt like this all day. Brimming with tears and hardly talking all day. I'm not going to make excuses but I feel like I'm packing too much in, and I think with my Dad in hospital at the moment for treatment I also have that in my mind. He isn't too bad but I worry about him and my mum and I don't think I'm much support for them either. I'm looking forward to a weekend spent out of work and immersed in my family. I love this time of year and I really don't want to feel too stressed to enjoy it and end up barking at everyone. I know we all have these kinds of days, I just felt this time it was worth getting it out as a reminder of what's important and also so you can see that my reality isn't always sunshine and flowers.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Activity Superstore - Champagne Afternoon Tea Review


If you're stuck for ideas for Christmas presents for your friends and family then look no further than Activity Superstore. I also think it's a brilliant 'lazy' option, no need to trudge out the door in the freezing cold and scour the high street, just turn on the laptop and order a gift experience for your nearest and dearest!

I was lucky enough to sample one of the many treats that Activity Superstore has to offer, a Champagne Afternoon Tea for Two at the Park Lane Hotel and it was blooming lovely, blissing out in the calm tranquil surroundings of the Palm Court, sipping champagne and gorging on eating dainty sandwiches and delicious cakes whilst a harpist played in the background. The Park Lane Hotel is situated close to Green Park station so very easy to get to and perfect for a bit of relaxation after hitting the shops in London's West End. 

The OH and I enjoyed this treat so much as we'd been here some years ago in our early years of dating and so it was a nice reminder of how we need to take some time out to enjoy eachother's company more away from the children every now and then. The hotel was decorated from head to toe with Christmas trees and gorgeous decorations it really made me feel that the holiday season was in full swing.

So what does a champagne afternoon tea in London in the Art Deco surroundings of the Park Lane Hotel involve, apart from the obvious champagne.....? On arrival you are served with a glass of Mumm champagne and offered the tea menu. We're really boring when it comes to tea and we chose English Breakfast tea - nothing beats a cup of builders! Then we were served with a selection of delicious sandwiches, followed by some warm scones with the obligatory jam and clotted cream but also the most delicious lemon curd I've ever tasted! As if that wasn't enough we also followed up the scones with 2 fine french pastries each that we could choose from a selection. I chose a delicious passion fruit and coconut number and another little cake that I forget the name of. OH chose a chocolate cake and a pannacotta. All were exquisite. We were so pleasantly full after that lot that if we didn't have to get back to pick the kids up from nursery then we would have easily have sat in the Palm Court for another hour and indulged in another glass of champagne.

The surroundings are relaxed and the staff are attentive enough and make you feel very special. I think this is the ideal kind of present for the person who has everything. These kinds of gifts are memorable and taking time out for yourself these days is a very rare thing. The Afternoon Tea for two at The Park Lane Hotel will set you back £79, but in my opinion it would be worth every penny as a treat for your nearest and dearest - it's something I will be considering doing for my parents when my Dad finishes his cancer treatment in the not too distant future.


Thank you Activity Superstore for letting us have this enjoyable experience, all views and opinions expressed here are my own.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Great Disney Princess Stocking Fillers!



Isla's weekend has mostly comprised of walking round with a little pink drawstring bag with all her new 'treasures' in it. They are in and out of the bag all day long, they all come out, get lined up on the table then they all go back in. I've found that Isla loves having collections of lots of little things, and if they're Princess 'things' then all the better! Yesterday morning I surprised her with some Disney Princess gift sets and that's what I'm referring to here. 



The stuff that was within these gift sets was enough to make Isla say 'WOW' a lot. With every new discovery of a lip balm or hair glitter or hair slides there was extreme excitement. Here she is getting stuck in to the Cinderella Lip balm. This needed to be surgically removed from her lips by the end of the day.... I'm joking but she must have the softest lips in Surrey! This is what we received and what we thought.....



Shimmer and Sparkle Set
This super value box set includes a clear shimmer lip balm, a glitter hair mascara wand, a heart ring and a mini diamante tiara. A mix of three designs and colours are available featuring your favourite Disney Princess characters, Ariel, Cinderella and Rapunzel. Available from October at Asda, Boots, Sainsbury’s and Superdrug, RRP £4.00.

We had the Rapunzel gift set. The hair glitter and lip balm were the real hits in this pack - we all had to have hair glitter - mummy, daddy, Noah and Nanny Helen! At first the hair glitter wand caused a little bit of confusion as it looks like a mascara brush and Isla often sees me applying this to my eyes so I did have to do a bit of a pep talk about not putting it near her eyes, after that we were good to go though.

Shimmer Lip Balm with Clips
Available in three Disney Princess-inspired designs including Cinderella, Ariel and Rapunzel. The set features a moisturising shimmer lip balm available in three fragrances including berry crush, blueberry and honey peach along with two pink sparkle heart hair slides. Available from October at Asda and Boots, RRP £2.50.

We had the Cinderella version of this. As you can see from the photo, she loved the Lip Balm, she was smothered in it! She also got me to put the hair clips in straight away.

Ballroom Beauty Essentials
Available in three Disney Princess-inspired designs including Cinderella, Ariel and Rapunzel, each bag contains a signature Disney Princess hand mirror, a plastic heart shaped ring, either berry crush, blueberry or honey peach fragranced bath bubbles and a glitter hair mascara wand. Available from October at Asda, Boots and Sainsbury’s, RRP £7.00.

We received the Ariel version of this gift set. This was a big favourite - the bag now contains the goodies from all the gift sets. She also loves rings and I think we have hundreds of them all over the house, so it's always good to have a few more to replace the mislaid ones.

Bath time Pamper set
The Princess Bathtime Pamper Set contains everything your Princess will need to pamper herself. The set includes a summer fruits fragranced bubble bath, two glitter bath fizzers, bath confetti, a mini tiara, a heart shaped ring and two heart gem hair bobbles! Available in Asda this Christmas | RRP £6.00

We received the Ariel version of this gift set. We had to use the bubble bath this morning (as well as the bath fizzers in the set below) - the bottles are really cute - because it was Isla's gift she insisted on putting it in the bath and getting her to have her bath was no problem at all.



Cinderella’s Bathtime Dressing-Up Set
Spend bath time creating the perfect outfit for Cinderella with her Bathtime Dressing up set. With 3 interchangeable wet and stick dresses there is an outfit for every princess occasion. This set also includes three glittering Fizzy Bath Hearts which create a sweet smelling aroma when dropped into the bath.
Available in Boots this Christmas | RRP £5.00

This has been a real hit! But....it did cause problems in the bath because Noah kept taking the dressing up pieces when Isla was trying to do them. He's in a real 'mine' and snatchy phase, so she got a bit fed up, but once he got out she played with them for ages, making all 3 Cinderella's in no time, sticking them to the side of the bath. The Fizzy Bath Hearts had to be used in one bath, I couldn't refuse her happy face as she kept plopping them in. 

Most of these bits and pieces are sold in Boots, which means that they're in the brilliant Christmas 3 for 2 offer that Boots run at Christmas time, and you also get to earn advantage points. All items are appropriate for children aged 2 - 5 years and I think would be a real hit as stocking fillers on Christmas Day judging by the reaction from Isla to all the loot this weekend....she's currently badgering me to have ANOTHER bath with her new bath fizzers....so see you later.


For further information on H&A’s tried, tested and trusted toiletries, cosmetics and gifts, including stockists, please visit www.handa-uk.com


We were sent all these items free of charge, but all opinions are my own and honest.

Silent Sunday


Silent Sunday

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

JOHNSON'S® Baby Mums Know Best Campaign

JOHNSON'S® Baby have asked me to write a "note to self” including what I wish I’d known as a first time mum. 

Dear Sharon

First of all, take it easy. You're a new mum, no one expects you to be super mum, super wife or domestic goddess! It's a tough job and with all jobs you need to take your time to learn the ropes! Take time to bond with your little person, enjoy the early days as much as you can. Work out your own methods and best ways of doing things and try to dodge all the conflicting advice that you will get hit with from the minute baby is born. Feel your way and trust your instincts!

Don't feel bad if breast feeding doesn't work. Always give it a try but if you feel it's making things difficult and causing you unhappiness then that's only going to transmit to the baby. Breast is undoubtedly meant to be best but what's best for some isn't best for all and formula is NOT the devils work! It's been around for mothers’ for decades and it does the job! Don't give yourself a big guilt trip if you bottle feed, if you’re happy, baby will be happy.

Nappy changing a newborn is hard enough but when you’re told by the hospital that for 6 weeks you should only clean your babies bottom with water and cotton wool and you mustn’t use baby bath to bathe baby it just makes things that much more fiddly. Filling up little bowls of water, pulling off big wodges of cotton wool – it’s all done for the best possible reason – to protect your baby’s skin but recent research from The University of Manchester suggests that it’s not necessary to stick to this regime. An independent clinical trial recently found that JOHNSON’S Baby Extra Sensitive Wipes and Top-to-Toe Bath are just as safe as using cotton wool and water. Current advice from midwives and health visitors is to just use water but us mums need something more convenient and effective. If you want to get out and about with your baby, cleaning them up with water and cotton wool in the shopping centre baby change area is not exactly easy! It’s so great that us mums can now clean our babies with no guilt.*

Don't always rely on supposed 'Parenting Experts'! Don't buy every book on Amazon that promises you sleep or guarantees a fully weaned baby by 1 year. Babies are all individuals too, they will have their own rhythm and you can influence it to a certain extent but don’t worry if your baby isn't doing the same as what the latest expert’s book says! Be an ‘expert’ about your own children and don’t worry if your baby doesn’t follow the ‘norm’.

Don’t feel bad about using a dummy! If a dummy works for your baby and helps to settle them then use it (don’t get too cross though when you have to get out of bed a few times a night to replace it!) and ignore other people’s comments and remarks. Why make your baby unhappy for trying to conform to other peoples opinion. If the dummy provides a bit of comfort that your baby needs (especially when teething) then pop it in.

Most of all stress less and enjoy your baby more, have the courage of your convictions, trust your instincts, as after all, mums know best!

Love

Me 


* I really do wish clinical proof about the safety of using wipes on babies had been around when I had Isla. When you leave hospital with your newborn, you really do want to do the best you can for them and you feel you need to protect them in every way. So you persevere with the water and cotton wool and it’s just one more thing that can make your day that bit more complicated. It’s really not easy going out and about with a baby as it is and changing them on the move can be fraught with pitfalls – remember those poos that go all up the back, wipes are perfect for those! So I’m glad that mums can now confidently make a choice when it comes to cleansing their newborn baby, right from the very first day.

The independent trial conducted with over 500 mums found JOHNSON’S® Baby Extra Sensitive Wipes and Top-To-Toe® Bath to be just as safe as using cotton wool and water or just water to cleanse delicate newborn skin. Keeping baby’s skin clean and hydrated is important for their general well being and happiness.

Endorsed by family health expert and mum of two young children, Dr Ellie Cannon says: “I know from experience there isn’t a mum out there that doesn’t worry about every action they take when it comes to their babies. There are plenty of occasions when there’s a mental tug of war over whether to follow professional advice or to trust your instincts and make a decision that just feels right for you, regardless of professional opinion. The findings of this clinical trial now give new mums one less decision to worry about, and actually provide them with reassurance and confidence to make an informed choice that’s safe for their baby – fantastic!”

To find out more about the campaign, take a look at the following youtube link:




"I have been asked to work with JOHNSON'S® Baby to write a "note to self" to coincide with their Mums Know Best campaign which aims to empower new mums and women in the last stage of pregnancy to trust their instincts and have confidence in their own convictions, supported by the groundbreaking new independent evidence proving that JOHNSON'S® Baby Extra Sensitive Wipes & Top-To-Toe® Bath are as safe to use as water alone on newborn skin. They have paid me to write this post."

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Cbeebies The Album - Great Stocking Filler!

We've been listening to this in the car the last few weeks and the kids aren't tiring of it yet. It's a collection of all the theme tunes from the Cbeebies shows. It also includes all the Cbeebies presenters songs - which happen to my preferred choice as I do like all the seasonal songs! Noah's favourite is Baby Jake and Isla is partial to Woolly and Tig and Timmy Time! Our only complaint is that it doesn't have 'Get Well Soon', which is Noah's favourite theme song - he's constantly going ' happy, happy, 'et ell ooo' but it was probably pressed before that show came out so I'll forgive them! I think this is perfect for kids as they are familiar with all the tunes and also being theme tunes they are pretty short. I also love that there are some old favourites on there like Postman Pat which I'm often singing along to in the morning!

It would make a great Christmas Stocking filler this Christmas for your little ones. You can buy it here from Amazon 

We were sent the Cbeebies Album for free in order to write this post. 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

IT'S RAINING, IT'S POURING.....


Groupon - Review

I'm not a Groupon Newbie, I've used it once to book an overnight stay in Brighton with the OH before Noah came on the scene. It was lovely to get away for the night, even if I was really boring and wanted to go to bed early because I was up the duff. Since then I've not used Groupon so when I was approached to do a Groupon review I said yes immediately. I was given a £40 credit to buy anything or book any experience I liked. I'd seen a cupcake decorating course on Groupon a few times on their daily emails and so for a week or so I looked out for something similar but nothing came up. So then I changed tack and decided to look for something that would benefit the OH and me. Dinner at Marco Pierre White's restaurant at the Mecca that is Stamford Bridge presented itself and I knew that the OH would love me forever (he'd have loved me more if a Chelsea match day ticket had preceded the meal but never mind!). it looked like a great deal - 2 courses (main and dessert) and a cocktail for two for £34 - it should have been £84.



It's very easy to buy on Groupon. Sign up to Groupon and create an account. You select the item or experience you want and you click on the deal. The deals are updated daily and they last for 24 hours, so you have until midnight to decide if you want to buy something. Once you've clicked 'buy' it's just a case of waiting to see if the minimum number of people have bought the deal, if they have then you get it, if they haven't then you don't. Simple. When the day has ended Groupon will check if the minimum number has been reached and if it has then you will get an email, you log in to your Groupon account and then print off the confirmation of the deal and make sure you remember to take it with you to your experience. 

We had a great night but what I will say is that unless you drink tap water and you don't get swayed by all the other delicious things on the menu at a posh restaurant then you will still spend a fair amount, but what it does do is make an expensive restaurant cost the same as your local high street restaurant. On top of the £34 that the deal cost we spent another £88. This was because we added on a starter each (potted duck for him, crispy beef salad for her), 3 side dishes, a bottle of red (the cheapest at £22) and an Irish coffee (£11 each if you please!) and a bottle of water. We both chose the Rib Eye Steak with Bearnaise sauce as our main meal included in the deal and the desserts were divine - Madagascan Vanilla Pannacotta for me and Caramelised Apple Pie for the OH. Oh and our cocktails (Cosmo for me and Apple Martini for him) were delicious! It was lovely, the service was great, attentive but equally not sitting in wait on our shoulders. The ambiance was great, low key and relaxed. I 'shazamed' the music in the restaurant because I liked it so much (Rhythms Del Mundo/Cuba) and me and the other half had a lovely time while the kids spent the night at Nanny and Grandpa's house. 



Would I use Groupon again? Yes most definitely - they have some fab deals, I looked on my local Groupon today and there was the elusive cupcake decorating class (maybe next time!) and there were also some rather cool looking Nike High Tops on offer - reduced from £66.99 to £29.99 - bargain. Check out the deals at Groupon


Two happy, well fed parents! (he is growing a Mo - he doesn't look  like all the time)

Thank you Groupon for helping two very tired parents go for a rare night out - it was great!

Earth Friendly Baby - Review



We've been trying out some Earth Friendly Baby products in the last couple of weeks at bath time. If you've not heard of Earth Friendly Baby then I can tell you that they are an eco-friendly range of baby skincare products. Earth Friendly Baby products aim to enrich parent and baby well being through natural personal care.  The brand philosophy encapsulates sustainability and living in balance with nature.  The products do not contain animal-derived ingredients or use animal testing and we strive to share these values by making natural products affordable and accessible to as many people as possible.

We were sent the Earth Friendly Baby Organic Lavender Shampoo and Body wash (RRP £4.08) and the Earth Friendly Baby Organic Lavender Bubble Bath (RRP £6.12).

I really do like these products, they smell lovely - we were sent the Lavender version (I had hoped for mandarin) which is the scent that's supposed to promote sleep. After use the kids both smell incredible. The bubble bath produces lots of bubbles - very important to my kids for making beards obvsiously.  I like the packaging and branding of the products - it's all very simple which seems in keeping with the nature of the products. My kids don't tend to have sensitive skin but it is nice to know that the products you're putting on their skin contain the best ingredients.

I have a couple of gripes though. The top of the body wash bottle has a sensible cap that pops up so you can squirt out what you need. However the lid for the bubble bath is a screw top and so can be completely removed. I would have preferred it if the bubble bath had the same style lid as the body wash. It feels safer to me in case the children get hold of it and also the bubble bath is actually quite runny  - not thick like most bubble bath so a squirty lid may also stop you from using too much. Which brings me to my next point....

I know that these products are organic, and they aren't tested on animals but they seem over priced for the quantity you get. That said in terms of the bubble bath a little does go a long way. Not quite true of the body wash (particularly if my OH is squirting it!), which I can see disappearing quite quickly. All in all I don't think we will be changing from our current brand of baby skincare products but it was nice to give Earth Friendly Baby a try as I'd often seen it in Boots.

 All of Earth Friendly products are hypoallergenic, plant-derived, biodegradable, and free from artificial colouring, synthetic fragrance, SLS and parabens. Ingredients are organic where possible and not tested on animals. 


Earth Friendly Baby is available from Waitrose, Ocado, John Lewis, Boots, Sainsburys and wholefood stores.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Book Reviews - The Fearsome Beastie & Tamara Small and the Monsters' Ball

Isla was sent some new books recently. They came around the same time as she'd just got into having stories from the iPad so I was interested to see what would happen - would she shun the books? I wasn't sure. I hoped not as I personally am a big fan of REAL books! I'm not yet converted to Kindles and ibooks. In the case of children's books, I love a beautifully illustrated REAL physical book, where you can really pore over the pages. That's not to say I won't be converted at some point.....



When I told her she had new books she was hyped. Both her and Noah love stories at bedtime. The first night she wanted to read Tamara Small and The Monsters' Ball by Giles Paley Phillips. I didn't know what to expect and as I started to read it dawned on me, was this a good idea to read about monsters at bedtime? Well I needn't have worried as we soon find out that these are fun loving monsters! The build up before we find out they're friendly monsters is good though and Isla was all snuggled up into me until I felt her physically relax when the pictures showed Tamara having fun with the ghosts, vampires and witches!

The book is written in a rhyming style which makes the story flow really well and I find it also helps children to remember large chunks of the story, particularly good for pre-schoolers who can't read just yet. The illustrations are good, the ghosts and ghouls particularly well done. Isla really likes the skeleton and asks what it is, as she doesn't quite understand our bodies are made up of bones! 



Next up was The Fearsome Beastie also by Giles Paley Phillips. I really liked this book, but my mum had concerns that it was a bit scary for bedtime. Thinking about it now, it is different to Tamara Small, the suspense and the fear are held for longer in this book. That said Isla didn't seem overly scared by it - she thought it was like Little Red Riding Hood. And it is really, a fearsome beastie comes to town in search of children to eat! He soon meets his match when the Grannie finds him, chops him up and makes beastie stew for all the children to eat!

I liked this book particularly as it gets back to old style fairy tales. It is reminiscent of Little Red Riding Hood as we have the people getting eaten and then someone comes to save them. In this case the story becomes funny, it's no boring woodcutter that saves them it's a little grey haired old lady! 
Giles Paley-Phillips cites Roald Dahl among his influences and I totally get that. The humour coupled with a gruesome tale is exactly what Dahl did best and I see it in these books too. 

With both these books I liked getting away from the 'princess' stories that we've had to read of late (all that pink and slushy love stuff!). Also I am happy to report that REAL books still have a place in our house, Isla hasn't ditched them in favour of the iPad.


Both books can be purchased from Amazon and they would make incredibly good Christmas Stocking fillers!
 
Tamara Small and the Monsters' Ball - Giles Paley-Phillips
The Fearsome Beastie - Giles Paley-Phillips


We were sent these books free of charge to review, all opinions are my own.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Do You Have Baby Lag?

Well it's official. I do. I am 87% Baby Lagged according to the JOHNSON'S Baby site. I'm sleep deprived but striving. I would say that's pretty accurate actually. Noah is 16 months old and we've only just started to get a few unbroken nights sleep. It's never guaranteed but the ratio is approximately 5 nights bad sleep to 2 nights good sleep! Now I've typed that out it doesn't feel much to celebrate actually. Baby Lag is mainly associated with new parents, who have a baby not sleeping, but I can say that as parents of two children (I have to mention Isla is a great sleeper!) we definitely have that 'zombie feeling' during the day and we also crave uninterrupted deep sleep. It's been a hard thing to accept having a bad sleeper when we were so spoilt first time around with a child who sleeps like a dream and who will sleep through 12 hours a night.

Dr Dev Banjaree, a sleep expert, has been working together with JOHNSON'S Baby on the Baby Lag sleep campaign. He has identified that there are a few things that parents can do to help their babies sleep well:

  • Routine is key!
  • Try to get your baby to settle on their own at night
  • Be Consistent with your approach, keep the lights low, soft voice, minimal stimulation
  • Keep a sleep diary so you can track progress - when you're tired you'll lose track of 'good' nights and 'bad' nights - note it down and then you can truly see if your baby is getting better at sleeping!
  • And finally if you can catch up on some sleep in the daytime. Easier said than done I know - that washing basket will be calling out to you, or the hoover will be glaring at you to run it round but actually as a parent you'll do yourself more favours if you catch up on the zzzz's. Baby Lag can threaten to spoil your enjoyment of your little one. 

You can test whether you are Baby Lagged by clicking on the badge below. It'll take through to the JOHNSON'S Baby site where you can play 3 fun games to help determine how 'Baby-Lagged' you are, based on reaction times, coordination and memory, once you've received your score you will be introduced to a 3 step bedtime routine - I do hope you're less than 87%!


babylag

This is a sponsored post, but the advice from JOHNSON'S Baby could stop you looking like the cast of Shaun of the Dead!

Making Our Own Christmas Decorations

I love 'trying' to do crafts with Isla. I say trying because after about 15 minutes it does feel that way as more and more mess gets made and we're covered head to toe in glue, glitter and paint! It does feel like a major test of my patience but somehow I manage to pull it off and go with the flow!

A few weeks before I had a little look on eBay for some bits we could use for crafting and I was actually amazed by the stuff you can buy and also how cheap it is. I bought a mixed bag of buttons (£2.95 for approx 200 buttons) and lollisticks (£1.80 for 100 sticks) - we don't eat a lot of ice lollies in our house! I didn't really know what I was going to do with them at that point. Then I bought some silver and gold paint and it came to me to make a few Christmas decorations.

A rainy Sunday presented itself and so we cracked open the glue, paint and glitter. Isla loved the buttons. There were so many different ones and it really appealed to her 'magpie' nature as they were like little treasures - loads of sparkly ones, brightly coloured ones. She kept trying to secrete them in various pockets but I had to ask her to give them back as Noah is still of the age where he'll put stuff in his mouth and choke.


Yes, that is a Wigwam in the background in our living room and
Isla does have 'warpaint' on!

With the lollisticks I got her to paint them silver and then when they'd dried I dabbed glue on and she sprinkled on the glitter. We also added a few buttons and then I stuck them together like a snowflake. I also cut out some cardboard disks and she painted those with silver paint mixed with some glue and stuck the buttons on and sprinkled with glitter. All I need to do now is get some silvery string to attach to the 'snowflakes' and button baubles so that we can hang them on the tree.

I'm pretty pleased with our efforts and I look forward to putting them up. Isla really enjoyed making these and I can't wait to get the buttons out again to make some other cute crafty things!