Monday, 26 August 2013

Goodbye baby stuff...

So even though we decided quite a while ago that we will NOT be having any more children, we still haven't got round to getting rid of absolutely everything baby related. I am not really a nostalgic person and certainly have no wish to go back to those sleep deprived times. The only thing I will keep is the little outfit that both my boys wore when they came out of hospital and of course photos. I will not hoard loads of baby toys in the loft as it's just not something I would ever do. Although Son 2 inherited most of his stuff from Son 1, there was something that I did buy new for him, and that was a mattress. I must admit this was mainly from a selfish perspective: I was convinced that a nice new bouncy mattress would be a failsafe way of ensuring he slept through the night from an early age (how wrong I was...).  At the time, I simply bought a mattress from somewhere local, and didn't do too much research about it if I'm honest. I think in hindsight I should have known a bit more about it and perhaps bought an organic one from a store like The Little Green Sheep. 
I love this one which is £165. I think that's pretty good value really, particularly for your second child as you don't have to go to the expense of buying all the rest of the equipment.

The Little Green Sheep Company Organic Mattress £165
 Actually having had a look at the rest of the site, I defy you to not absolutely love this amazing invention and not want to have another baby immediately just to try it out! It's called the SnuzPod Bedside Crib..
SnuzPod Bedside Crib
It's pretty cool and great for if space is tight. I'm big into cots that go easily next to your own bed as it's much easier when feeding in the night. I'm actually a bit of a "baby cool equipment geek" to be honest, these are some of the cool things I've also found on the Little Green Sheep website...
Sheepskin pushchair liner, £39.95
I'd be happy to sit in a pushchair myself if I had one of these....

How cute are these newborn baby pouches!? Never seen these before, they look pretty womb like which in my book is a GREAT idea, no more of those ridiculous rip off Woombies....
Organic Baby Pouch £19.95
What do you think? Are there far more cool things around than when you had a baby?


Sunday, 25 August 2013

Why French children are better behaved...

There! That's a title for you. And not necessarily true in all cases I'm sure. But we've just spent two weeks in France and I was very curious about how parenting differs in France and what strategies parents seem to use. One of my friends who was brought up in France told me it is the threat of physical violence and being sent "away" to boarding school (I do know of someone this has happened to in France!) that helps parents control their children though I didn't see any children being smacked in public. My friend also likened French children to a bottle of champagne, once the cork comes off they truly bubble over uncontrollably, i.e. they behave badly when no-one is looking. I did see some evidence of this, for example on the ferry a little French boy kept trying to whack my son on the back of the head when his parents weren't looking, though of course this may be am isolated incident and no different to what you see in any UK soft play centre.

I do remember as a child we had some "French friends" who had two teenage boys, I remember them kicking me under the table when their parents backs were turned (I was about 7) which does seem to corroborate the champagne bottle analogy.

Anyway, this is what I noticed that seemed the chief difference to the UK.
1) Adults who did not know the child in question felt free to speak harshly to them, tell them off and "shush" them.
2) I also noticed a lot of "tutting" going on if my children were acting up.
3) There was definitely "glaring" particularly from older women who looked downright angry if a child spoke above a whisper.
4) People actively moved seats if a child was being noisy near them which adds to the social pressure placed upon the parents.
5) I would say that in general, parents interacted less with their children and left them to it a  bit more, especially in parks/soft play areas.

On the whole I thought French children were less demanding (perhaps because they are not used to being constantly interacted with) spoke much more quietly (social pressure) and were less friendly and boisterous than their English counterparts, less outgoing but more mature. These aren't necessarily negatives just observations. I actually felt quite stressed as I struggled to control my children in line with expectations, especially in restaurants and cafes. Other children seemed happy to sit quietly while mine shouted, cried and wanted to run around. By the end of the two weeks after us constantly reinforcing the fact that we expected them to sit and wait patiently for their food, things were starting to get easier and their behaviour definitely "improved" though perhaps only superficially. What I would love is to find a way to encourage my boys to manage their own behaviour intrinsically which is why I'm not convinced that things like reward charts work long term since they are extrinsic.

How do you manage your children's behaviour? Or don't you have to? Where did we go wrong?!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

NCT shop - useful and bargainous!

When we had Son 1 we had only just moved to our local area and knew literally NO-ONE. It didn't really bother me at the time as I was just so used to moving around and being the newbie all the time. However when I found out I was pregnant, I realised I might need a bit more of a support network around me, which is why I joined the NCT. For us, the classes were useful though focused on "natural birthing" which wasn't an option for me due to having placenta praevia. Unfortunately due to son 1's much earlier than expected appearance, we actually missed quite a few of the classes which I am sure covered emergency c sections. I didn't notice it at the time, but there is also an NCT shop that looks pretty awesome and is full of stuff that is genuinely useful and difficult to find elsewhere. Since we were unintentional co-sleepers for almost 10 months, I love the idea of renting this co-sleeping crib for a few months as they really don't last long at all. It will be lots cheaper (£109) and also save the hassle of storing or getting rid of cots when they are no longer useful, believe me, it's a much shorter time than you think!

Rent a crib for £109 for six months, bargain!

There are lots of things to waste your money on when you have a baby, but lots of useful things too.
I had these thermal breast nursing pads when I was breastfeeding and they were life savers. Not literally but they were very useful,
Very useful thermo breast pads, also on sale at £9.95! Cheaper than Mothercare
For breastfeeding mums, I would also highly recommend these Lilypadz breast pads, you'll save so much money and they are better for the environment too. I think I'm right in saying that these also prevent the loss of milk as they have a sort of suction device (?), anyway bargain at £14.99

Very useful Lilypadz breast pads
I also like the idea of renting a tens machine and a breast pump as these are definitely things you only need for a short space of time. Overall I'm impressed with the genuinely useful items on the website and the reasonable prices too. Renting is definitely something worth thinking about as it also means less hassle getting rid of things that will of course lose lots of value.

Did you use NCT before you had a baby? What did you think?

Comfy Sofa Days....

I remember sitting in the staffroom at work a few years ago listening to talk about sofas. We had recently bought two new leather sofas for our lounge since we were expecting Son 2 and soon realised how easy it was to wipe clean leather after the effects of sticky hands. I think altogether the sofas came to around £1300 and we had a 0% finance deal which meant we were simply paying £30 a month for them which we hardly noticed, it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I remember this colleague talking about sofas and saying how he would never ever buy a sofa from anywhere but Laura Ashley or similarly priced shops. I guess it's about priorities, but I actually like changing our sofas every four years or so in which case there is no way I would want to spend £5000 on the whole suite. It's good to have a change and also the seats get worn out after a while. I also really miss our old sofas, they were a bit too big for our lounge which is the main reason we got rid of them, but our new ones are too small, I can't lie on them when I'm tired or ill and they are just a bit too...upright?

I really want something cosy and comfy like this one at SCS which is called "Halo". 

Halo 3 Seater Corner Chaise Sofa Scatter Back

I can just picture myself lounging on it with a very large cup of tea and my kindle, bliss. I also noticed something really cute on the website - a story about a little girl called Amelia who wrote to SCS about how much she liked their adverts then found herself invited to the next making of an ad and was treated to a "behind the scenes" day. It makes me think of all the great opportunities that are open to us all if we only ask! I've lost count of the cool things I've been able to do with my family thanks to writing a blog and a lot of it is about making contacts,  asking politely and being in the know, but those things are incredibly easy to do.

Anyway, here are a few of my fav sofas from the SCS website, what do you think of their adverts? Have you ever had an amazing opportunity simply because you were in the right place at the right time?

Naples Chaise Sofa RHF Scatter Back

Storm 3 Seater Sofa Standard Back

Happy days lounging on the sofa!


Thursday, 8 August 2013

Thrifty Thursday! Fab Karen Millen dress, Baukjen bargain shirt, Oasis£10 dress, Warehouse lovely jersey dress!

So last Friday my dreams came true. A day with no children, no work and completely alone. I decided to take myself into my spiritual home, Leeds. For the previous two weeks I had been completely incapacitated with the most hideous virus EVER. This was a shame as it meant that my last ever day as a teacher was spent simply trying to make it through the day in one piece rather than actually savouring the moment. It must be karma. Along with me being ill there was of course the obligatory family illness which meant everyone caught it including my parents! Anyway, enough misery, I was rewarded with my lovely day in Leeds, this is what I got up to:

- a lovely Liz Earle facial.
- a lunch on my own which was lovely and peaceful 
- lots of trying on clothes and doing whatever I liked.
- meeting my friend Jo for cocktails 
- meeting hubby for a lovely meal then getting the late train home! 

In terms of great deals there was much to be seen! I like to start with expensive and work my way down so I headed straight to Karen Millen and found this lovely denim dress. The cut is perfect and just sits so nicely on, I guess you get what you pay for and it's definitely true in this case. Was £140 now £70. 
Karen Millen Dress £70

LK Bennett have some good deals on dresses at the mo, I like this Gigi wrap dress, so versatile, was £145, now £70! 

LK Bennett Gigi dress £70

Next up was Oasis and Warehouse.I actually bought a lovely coral dress in Oasis for £10 (was £45) which sadly isn't on their website, so I'll post a picture of that soon, but aside from that Oasis didn't have much to offer. Warehouse had some great fitted jersey dresses and even some left in the sale, including this one at £17. It might pay to size up on this one...
Warehouse jersey dress £17

Great for Autumn. 

If you're still looking for Summer dresses there are some nice options in H and M, I bought this one a few weeks ago for £12.99, I've worn it constantly ever since and it doesn't even need ironing! Bingo! 
H&M patterned dress £12.99

I've had some lovely comments when I wear it which makes me pretty happy.

Speaking of sales, there's some good deals over at Baukjen at the moment with an extra 10% off sale items until the end of today, this is my fav at just over £24. I've got it in pink and it looks great with a pencil skirt. 

Baukjen jersey shirt around £24

That's it for now! Have you spotted any more sales bargains? 


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