Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Crying it out? Or never a minute to myself?

I have two happy healthy children, for which I am very grateful.  I realise I am lucky having children when so many other people wish, hope and pray for a child at any cost.  I must admit the lack of sleep thing is something I have learned to live with. When Son 1 was born, the fact that he didn't just pop off to sleep at night was a complete revelation, what was I supposed to do with him?! It all seemed endless, I aged about 5 years in those first few months. Then over time it started to get easier, he still woke in the night for a feed, but then went straight back in his cot and straight back off to sleep. I still felt exhausted, but at least I knew what to expect.

Now I have two children I am even more tired, I have cried through tiredness it is so severe.  The problem that I have is that Son 2 has never slept in his cot since he was born, he is now 7 months. He instantly wakes up as soon as I lie him down and screams hysterically if I leave him even for 10 seconds. Even in the day I have to feed him to sleep and then hold him until he wakes up, or else go out somewhere in the car  or pushchair. It's only since he has been big enough to go in his highchair that I have been able to get any "jobs" done at all. Most of this blog has been written one handed while holding baby with the other arm! I have chronic tendonitis in both wrists and hands through the strain of constantly holding him. The other problem is that he won't take a bottle, I have tried every brand of formula and bottle and he simply WILL NOT DRINK from them, in fact he screams in terror at even the sight of a bottle! That means that I can never go out for the evening, or have a night away, or even a LITTLE BREAK which I so badly need.  So basically Son 2 is sleeping in our bed while my husband sleeps in the spare room, he will only sleep lying on my arm next to my body ready to feed at a moments notice. When he is in bed he actually sleeps quite well usually waking only once or not at all, but I feel stiff and sore in the morning from lying in an awkward position.

Anyway last night I was so tired and he just wouldn't go to sleep in his cot.  I was at my wits end as my husband was working late and so I was on my own and just wanted some "me" time. I knew Son 2 was really tired so I just put him in his cot and shut the door. He screamed for 35 minutes although I kept going in to check on him (though this seemed to make him more angry!).  Eventually I just laid my hands on his back and he suddenly went to sleep! He woke at 10pm for a quick feed then went back off again.  I assumed it was a one off until just a minute ago when I lay him in his cot again, he complained loudly for a second and again I lay my hands gently on him and he immediately went to sleep.
I really hope I have cracked it as I am SO TIRED....but I still don't like the idea of crying it out.

The idea is I suppose that the baby learns no-one is going to come no matter how loud they cry, but this is an awful thought - learned helplessness! I wonder what other people think? I used to be pro cry it out as it worked with Son 1 but it only took about 5 minutes, with Son 2 he could honestly cry for hours and hours!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Child Friendly Pubs and Restaurants Nationwide

Before we had children, my husband and I were a little addicted to eating out. Hard day at work? Meal out! Nasty cold? Nothing a latte and a croissant won't fix! So it came as a nasty shock to us that children and eating out really don't mix. I no longer know what it feels like to have a "relaxing" meal out. If the service is slow and the food is bad I can no longer laugh it off like I used to and now go into toddler style meltdown. Before children I would never have dreamed about eating out in a "chain" style pub or restaurant (unless I was on a hen night of course), now it is a staple. We know what the menu will have, we know our child will eat the food, we know it is just noisy enough so no-one can hear our toddler say, "this tastes of poo" but just quiet enough so that we don't have a headache for the rest of the day. We know chains have balloons, baby changing and usually some sort of play area. Soulless? Yes. Convenient, Yes!! So I want to compile a sort of list of my favourite chains and say what experiences we have had there and why we like them.

1. Beefeater. We first went to a Beefeater when we were staying at a travellodge at Ashford before catching the Eurostar to France. It was late, we were tired, it looked ok from the outside though I was not keen. When we walked in I was very surprised, nice wooden floors, tables separated from each other into little booths, but most of all I couldn't believe how busy it was! We had some sort of bargain menu (something like £9) because we were eating before 6pm (the shame) and had two courses one of which was steak and it was delicious! Our son was happy as he got to have spag bol and some sort of chocolate sundae. The whole meal came to less than £40 including a bottle of wine and two courses each. Now I insist on going to Beefeaters whenever we go out in a group.

2. Pizza Express. Two of the best things about Pizza Express is a) you can use Tesco clubcard vouchers x 3 in most of them, b) the constant vouchers for 2 for 1, half price pizzas etc which make a meal out for 4 of us come to less than £30 including a small dessert. These days, I always get the leggera pizza as it has less calories, and for dessert I get this coffee and a small lemon meringue thing which is divine. The kids menu is a little pricey in my opinion at £6.25 but includes crudites, pizza/pasta and a lovely sundae plus bambinocino (never seen any child drink this). Love!

3. Pizza Hut. Yes they are desperately unhealthy and I am convinced they fry the pizzas as the bottoms are always glistening with fat but kids love it there, plus there is one in Bingley where we live. Again there is always some sort of deal on, e.g. kids eat free, cheap and cheerful!

4. Starbucks. I'll keep this brief - high chairs, baby changing and them most delicious raisin toast in the world. All kids love their raisin toast.

5. Not strictly a restaurant but Waitrose cafes.They do a really healthy kids lunch box for about £3 which is a real winner and actually has freshly made sandwiches rather than prepacked type ones. My son loves it and I can get a crayfish sandwich.

6. Any Vintage Inn. Highchairs, baby changing, also nice soft drinks for those who are pregnant/driving etc, e.g. sparkling elderflower £1. The specials are usually better than the main menu and there is a good kids menu which my son seems to enjoy. Winner.

7. Wagamama. An actual healthy kids menu and children love sitting on the wooden benches. They have those cool grip on high chairs which mean you don't have to be constantly moving your child's highchair around everytime some idiot walks past. They do a great health drink I think it is called Raw juice or something. Very good.

8. Pret a Manger. Quick is the key factor here, plus they have high chairs and baby changing. There are kids sandwiches if you get early enough (before all the cheapskate adults buy them!) in reasonable flavours (is that the right word?) such as cheese/ham etc. Lots of healthy choices too e.g. fruit pots and yoghurts and comfortable surroundings. There is one in Leeds where they have a small child play area type thing.

9. Red Hot Buffet. The good thing about buffets and children is that if they don't like something it means they can try something else without wasting your money. We went to this one yesterday and it was definitely better than average. There were lots of different "stations" e.g. Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian and you could basically help yourself as many times as you liked. The kids really enjoyed it and it gave them a chance to try things they normally wouldn't go for. Best of all in their opinion was the ice cream factory at the end!

10. Miller and Carter. Not sure if this is strictly speaking a national chain (just had a look there are quite a few dotted around now) but I really like it. It is essentially a steak house but is quite "swish" as my dad would say and not just aimed at men. There is a nice trendy looking bar where you can get champagne and nice wines, and it is generally done out pretty well. There is a really good kids menu with a variety of options. Bingo!

Bella Mama Cara Dress Review!

I was very excited the other day to be sent a dress from the lovely Bella Mama! When I enquired about doing a possible review I never dreamed Kirsten (founder) would send me an actual dress, but it was obviously my lucky day.

"Bella Mama is a small, busy boutique specialising in chic, contemporary breastfeeding clothing and transitional maternitywear for new mamas, blending fabulous style with amazing comfort. To complement this, we also offer a lovely range of beautiful baby bags, swaddling blankets, nursing necklaces, nursing covers, changing mats and indulgent skincare."

I have been struggling for some time to find beautiful, but affordable nursing clothes. I was starting to give up and just revert back to "normal" clothes and keep pulling my top up, but thanks to Bella Mama I think I have changed my mind!  The clothes on the website look very stylish with an indulgent edge, just what a new mum needs, no frumpiness in sight!

When I opened the parcel I was utterly amazed at what a beautiful item it was. The dress itself is called "Cara" and is a deep purple colour made out of jersey material - but good quality jersey. It hangs beautifully on the hanger (see picture)

and I would say it of better than usual quality for a jersey style dres (£45).  The real test though, is what is it like when feeding! Well I put it to the test yesterday when we went out for my birthday meal to Leeds new hot spot "Red Hot"(pardon the pun). Normally it is the sort of place I avoid but with four small children in tow it was ideal. I felt really comfortable all day in the dress even during my hot flush episodes (is this normal?) when in other nursing clothes I often get very warm and flustered probably due to the type of material.  However in my Bella Mama dress I felt lovely. I felt absolutely comfortable feeding in it as it is very discreet with a sort of gap in the neckline (see video) to allow easy access while still allowing a certain amount of coverage.  Due to the good design I was also able to move around easily in the dress and didn't feel constricted at all which is very important when you have young children. The dress also has a fashionable feel and hangs/moves well in a fluid line. It feels very comfortable against the skin and I didn't need to wear any vests etc underneath it. There is a tie at the back which isn't visible in the picture but is great as it means you can adjust the dress to suit your individual shape.

After our meal we then went to Leeds City Museum as I had heard they have some great exhibitions for kids. I wasn't disappointed and found there was a great sort of archeological display and a play area. At 2.30 there was a story time which gave me opportunity to feed again while sitting in front of a young man who was reading the story. I didn't want to embarrass him but as the dress is so brilliantly designed he clearly didn't even notice I was feeding! Result!

Here is a short video showing the dress in all its glory and demonstrating the easy feeding access.

All in all I really love this dress and will definitely be getting some more clothes from Bella Mama as their designs are right up my street (as Cheryl Cole would say).

Sunday, 25 September 2011


I was lucky enough to be sent some lovely Bubble and Balm products the other day to test and review. I love receiving things to review and it really cheers me up when I see my friendly postman delivering a parcel my way.  I really love the idea of Bubble and Balm as from reading their website it comes across that they are a very passionate company who clearly believe very strongly in their product.
One of the items sent to me was the antibacterial luxury handwash

which retails for £4.99.  The description is as follows: - Glycerine-enriched l
uxury handwash with an essential oil anti-bacterial formulation effective against MRSA, E coli and other nasties. No artificial colours / fragrances and triclosan free, suitable for vegans / vegetarians. Stylish aluminium packaging.

It DOES look pretty cool in our bathroom. Anyway, having used it I do really love it! It smells lovely and the smell lasts for a while on my hands. The smell itself is really fresh and clean without being clinical.  When it comes out of the pump it does initially feel a little "thin" compared with other hand soaps but I think this is just because it doesn't contain all the parabens and nasties contained by other soaps. It actually lathers really nicely and I think a little goes a long way.  I have used it on my older son's hands after using the toilet and am pleased to report there has been no adverse reaction which is unusual for him as he has very sensitive skin.  

I was also sent the citrus soap in a tin

Retails for £4.99, here is a short description: Pure clear glycerine soap with an uplifting blend of essential oils including lemon, mandarin and grapefruit. No artificial colours / fragrances, suitable for vegans / vegetarians. Packaged in a stylish recycled aluminium tin that doubles up as a watertight soap dish. 85g.

This soap also lathers really well and again, a little seems to go a long way.  I like the fact it is kept in a tin as this is far more hygienic and means there is less residue on the sink for me to clean off.  My son also likes the fact that the soap has its own "house" to live in and likes taking the top on and off. At the moment I am using it as a bath soap for my sons but I think it would work just as well as a hand soap. The smell is beautiful and leaves a lovely lingering clean smell in the room as well as on the skin. It isn't as drying as normal soaps and makes skin feel really soft. So far there have been no allergic reactions which I sometimes find with other soaps on my children.  For the money I think it is well worth it and would certainly consider buying this as it would last so long. Love love love!

Friday, 23 September 2011


I love cool and funky products, especially when they involve babies. In my opinion there is nothing cuter than a baby in a rock and roll t shirt or something equally funky, though I draw the line at babies in trainers.

When it comes to teething all babies love a good dribble, that is where you need some dribble bibs, and if possible, something that co-ordinates with baby's outfit and looks good too. That is where Funky Giraffe Bibs comes in! Funky Giraffes is  a small, green (not literally), ethical company who designs fabulously, sources ethically, and sells considerately their own bibs and baby products.
"As a mum, I know the importance of quality products for your child and the fact you want your child to look their best. That is why I wanted to produce the nicest, comfiest bibs I could, to give my and your child their own individual look. I also know the importance of good value. So I started on this idea in 2009 using my experience in the fashion industry after my own little fashionista came along."

The lovely people at Funky Giraffe Bibs  were kind enough to send me a great selection of bibs to try out on my dribbly baby!  The products came in a beautiful gift box, it was one of those parcels I felt excited to open....

First of all I tried a bib which I haven't seen on their website but is one where baby puts their arms into the bib and it protects all their clothes when feeding.  Here is a picture of Son 2 in all his glory...

It's a bit hard to see the detail on the bib in the picture but it appears to be a sort of knight's shield design. It is really easy to get baby in and out of and definitely protects his clothes. I would say it is of higher quality than most other similar bibs on the market in this style, I think the difference is the type of material. It also washes well or you can just rinse it out or give it a wipe down after each meal. Also surprisingly he didn't struggle to get out of it like he does with other bibs so he must have liked it.  Crucially it was easy to put on, so many bibs aren't, especially after they have been washed and every meal time feels like a battle. These are made from nice soft material so went on very easily.

Now onto the bandana style dribble bibs, here are some pics!

Purple monsters

Grey and black check

Racing Car

 The material is a lovely quality and is 100% cotton.  On the reverse of the bib is a lovely fleecy material that I wasn't expecting, it makes the bib sit really cosily against baby's skin. There are also two poppers at the back of bib, I think these are to adjust the sizes although you can fasten both poppers to make the bib extra secure.  
The bibs were really easy to put on a dribbly baby and very absorbent.  I could easily let my baby dribble into the same bib all day and would not need to change the bib.   I don't think these are meant to be used at mealtimes, though I have to admit I sometimes do use them at those times as I love them so much!
Here are some pictures of my baby in the bibs!


All in all I really love these bibs, they are functional (they catch dribble and are also fantastic used at mealtimes) look very comfortable and are very well made. The stitching round the side of the bib you can see on the picture above and is very secure. The bibs are fully machine washable and I am pleased to report they washed really well and look good as new.  Funky Giraffe bibs are clearly really comfortable as baby never tries to pull them off unlike other bibs.  The best thing about them though, is the funky and baby friendly designs. Most of the bibs are clearly marketed at either girls or boys though some are unisex. I love the handprint design
At the moment there is a deal for four bibs for £8.60 which is pretty good value in my opinion. New designs are always coming out on the website (although there are loads to choose from already) so I am definitely going to be adding some more to my collection in the near future. I think the bibs work best when co-ordinated with an outfit colour wise, so keep this in mind when you order. 
Love love love!!

Dippy Designs Plaque

I first became aware of the wonderful products of Dippy Designs by Diane a year or so ago when I was looking for a unique Christening pressie. I had a look on ebay as I knew I wanted a door plaque and this ebay shop really stood out! Anyway I ended up buying a gorgeous door plaque for the daughter of one of my friends whose house is very "shabby chic".  This plaque fit in exactly with the decor of her house and looked great hung on the bedroom door. I then bought a "new home" plaque in a very similar style for my brother in law. He said he loves it and it sits in pride of place on his mantelpiece.

Anyway I was lucky enough to be sent a personalised plaque for my two boys.  Here is the finished product!

The picture really doesn't do it justice! I must add that I didn't send a picture of either of the boys but Diane somehow managed to capture them perfectly.  Diane has also added some glitter to the teddy bear which hasn't come out on the picture but it looks really cute.  At the moment the plaque has pride of place in our lounge hung from the mantelpiece where we normally hang Christmas stockings, but I think it would probably look better on a door.  On the back of the plaque is a space where, if you require, you can get a message written in "artistic" handwriting, e.g. on the occasion of your Christening/Wedding etc. There are lots of different styles and designs to choose from and Diane is very accommodating. Each plaque is unique as it is handmade, here is the information from Diane's ebay shop:

Unique Dippy Designs Plaques Features

  • Interesting plaque shapes
  • Good sized detailed figures  - average 5-6cm for adults
  • Pretty ribbon hangers
  • Plenty of detail eg hairstyles, wedding outfits etc 
  • Tasteful understated floral/heart/star decoration all hand made from fimo 
  • Stitching effect around edges of plaque

There are lots of other options too, these plaques are not just for babies and children. Here are some other items I like:-

A wedding plaque to have as a keepsake.
A trinket box, good idea for a first birthday present or Christening present.

And a slightly different style of door plaque for a child's bedroom door. 

When purchasing an item the following information is needed:

1.     Total number of characters required   - two come with the wedding plaque - please order extras  as required
2.   shape required –  heart (max 2 adults only),  house , shield , tree  or rectangle
3.      required wording at top/bottom
4.      names and brief descriptions of all people (remember hair length,  colour,  style, fringes, glasses, moustaches, beards etc and ages for children).  All facial features are in black/red due to special pen used
5.      any specific requirements regarding layout/decoration/colours etc. (Be aware that due to shape and size of plaques there may be some restrictions on layout  of characters).  
Thoroughly recommended! Prices start at around £11 including postage and packaging.
Here are a couple more of the designs I like:

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Woolly Babs Photo Shoot

Today we were lucky enough to be invited to take part in the Woolly Babs photoshoot in preparation for the jumpers for this Christmas.   We had a great time and I even managed to get some behind the scenes shots for my blog. Frank and his family who run Woolly Babs were all really lovely and were very passionate about their jumpers.  Coming soon will be a new range of jumpers for Halloween and Easter which will be available to purchase from the website (prices around £29.99).

Anyway here are some of my pictures behind the scenes (and one from Frank).  We were kindly given a fab Christmas jumper for review which I will be writing about soon.
Babs and Son 2!

Lovely Rudolph jumper and baby being photographed

Friday, 16 September 2011

Bickiepegs Doidy Cup

For some time now I have been trying to persuade my 6 month old son that there are other means of nutrition aside from me! In short I have been trying to get him onto a bottle, in fact I have been trying to give him a bottle ever since he was born, just one a day to settle him in the evening. However it has all come to nothing,  I have every single bottle or cup on the market and not one of them has worked! I have tried every single brand of formula too to no avail.  However there is one item he will drink out of, albeit messily. That is the Doidy Cup by Bickiepegs (now £3.49)

I first started using this cup with my older son when he started drinking from open cups. He found it very easy to drink out of and I gradually weaned him from this cup onto any open cup. The staff at his nursery commented how adept he was at drinking from an open cup from quite a young age. What this basically means for you as a parent is less mess and spillage from a younger age. My only criticism is that he finds the handles a bit tricky to hold as they are quite thin and not easy to grasp for young hands.

So now I am going to give it a go with my younger child, using expressed milk or formula.  I am expecting mess and avoidance but I am willing to try anything at this stage: next week is my birthday and I really really want to go out for the evening and not have to be worrying the whole time that he will be hungry and screaming! I am also going back to work soon and will not be able to demand feed like I do at the moment, I'm afraid little man that your Mummy feeding days are nearly over!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

LilyPadz Review!

In an effort to be "green" (and cost effective) since having Son 2 I have been using washable breast pads so I don't have to keep buying disposable ones.  I have suffered from every ailment common to breastfeeding women, the worst being more or less constant thrush both in Son 2's mouth and on my skin. I think the problem with the washable pads is that they aren't very absorbent so I was constantly damp which is a breeding ground for thrush. I was keen to try something new and noticed LilyPadz on another blog. Anyway the kind people at www.simplylily.co.uk sent me some lovely LilyPadz and cleaner to review! I was very pleased as I love receiving things for review that I desperately need!

On opening the package I saw there was a very useful set of instructions and information.

The pads themselves are made from silicone and unlike most breast pads, do not actually soak up milk but prevent the leakage from happening in the first place.  The idea is that there is a pressure exerted which stops the letdown reflex.  LilyPadz have to be cleaned either with soap or water or you can buy a cleaner like the one pictured below.

 The LilyPadz come inside a nice plastic case so you can easily pack them if you were going away or slip them inside your changing bag knowing they won't get damaged.

The LilyPadz are actually quite sticky so they can stick easily to your skin, and come stuck onto a plastic dome, I assume so they don't stick together. It is probably worth keeping the plastic dome for in between use.  It is easy to remove them from the dome.

 This is what they look like once they are removed from the dome. The idea is that you turn them inside out and then place them on the breast, you need to make sure they are fitted securely and snugly to the skin. I found after a while I didn't need to turn them inside out but simply placed them on the skin. I honestly forgot I was wearing them as they are so comfortable and I can say that it is true I don't have any leakages when I have them on (no idea how this works!).  One of the best things about them is that you don't need to wear them with a bra so for example at night (which let's face it is one of the worst times for leakages) you can ditch your uncomfortable sleep bra or vest and just wear normal PJs. There was also the point on the instruction sheet that they can be used for swimming or wearing under a bathing suit. This is a really good point as when we were on holiday I had to wear breast pads under my bikini which then got wet when I went swimming, most unpleasant.

 All in all I really like them and thoroughly recommend them.  In balance I suppose the only negative would be if they lose their stickiness, but I haven't been using them long enough for this to happen.  I'm also wondering about keeping them after I stop breast feeding for wearing under dresses and tops if I want to go bra- less!
You can buy Lilypadz from Boots for £15.31 Mothercare for £14.99 and Jojo for £15. This might seem a lot but actually works out more cost effective and more environmentally friendly than buying disposable breast pads. They are also far more comfortable and convenient to use.

If you would like to win a pair of LilyPadz, please follow this link to their facebook page to see details of the competition!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Today we made a den....

It rained today. In fact it rained yesterday too, and the day before for that matter. I really couldn't face going out, it was starting to get boring so we decided to make a den! I used to love making dens when I was a child, that is, until I took a lamp inside one of my dens and it got too hot, think charred sheets....

So we made a den today using Son 2's swinging chair and a clothes horse as the frame. I draped a quilt over the top and put pillows inside, I made a doorway using pillow cases and pegs.
The kids loved it! We stayed inside for ages telling ghost stories and making funny noises.  I pretended to be various monsters and Mr Tickles hand found his way inside.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Lovely pictures

The other day one of my oldest friends came to visit with her two gorgeous children.  She is currently setting herself up as a professional photographer and kindly took some pictures of my children on her ace new camera.  Here are the results!


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