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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Healthier Meals With Quorn


Everyone wants to give their family a healthy diet, but at the same time we still want to give our partners and children the foods they love.  With Quorn you can do both!  Cutting out the meat in your diet, needn't mean compromising on meal choice or losing out on a key source of protein, vitamins and minerals.  All you need to do is swap the meat in most recipes for Quorn.  It is not only delicious, it is a good source of essential nutrients and is low in saturated fat and has no cholesterol.  You can cook all sorts of recipes from scratch and discover new dishes, expanding your repertoire of  fabulous, tasty and healthy family favourites.  What's more, you can hardly tell the difference so there is no compromise on taste at all!  It's an easy change to make.

Whether you are a seasoned vegetarian or someone looking to cut down on meat, the Quorn website is full of recipe ideas to give you inspiration.  From family favourites such as Cottage Pie and Spaghetti Bolgnese using Quorn Mince to an exciting Risotto or Thai Green Curry using Quorn Pieces, there are plenty of suggestions for feeding your family healthier, tastier dinners.  Quorn also makes a range of ready meals, deli products and snacks giving a wide range of options for all mealtimes.

Quorn Tikka Masala
You can share your own recipes and photos of Quorn dishes on their Facebook Page and share your favourite meals to inspire other families who are trying to make the change to a healthier lifestyle.  

Thai Green Curry
  My family has been vegetarian for over 10 years.  My two youngest children have been vegetarian since they were in-utero!   Quorn products make it so easy to serve up healthy, interesting and delicious dinners for us all.  I can cook in confidence knowing my family are getting all the protein and nutrients they need.  I love the extensive range which means that  I can feed my children many traditional kids' favourites such as burgers, nuggets, sausages, meatballs and the incredibly yummy Fishless Fingers!  The mince and the pieces are so versatile that I enjoy being experimental. Our family favourite cuisine is Mexican and we love making Fajitas, Enchiladas and Tacos using Quorn products. I swear by it!

Fishless Fingers
Quorn really is a great choice and is many things to many people.

  • For the food lover it is a simple way to make favourite dishes ...healthier.
  • For anyone looking to reduce their meat intake Quorn means you don't need to give up choice or taste.
  • For the weight watcher it drastically reduces the fat and calorie content of meals without compromising on favourite meals.
  • For the healthy eater it is a cholesterol free source of protein, fibre and essential nutrients.
  • For vegetarians it is a great source of protein which causes no suffering to animals.
  • For the busy mum like me, it is convenient, versatile, easy to use, nutritious and delicious...who could ask for more?!
Find out more at Quorn.co.uk


Featured post in conjunction with Quorn.

The Joys of Being a Toy Tester


When Kizzy was named as the new Princess Galt, she was awarded £250 of Galt Toys as part of the prize.  Having the chance to choose her favourites from the whole range of art, craft, activity, science and discovery sets was a dream come true.  The Girl Club offered her loads of items befitting her princess status!  Kizzy particularly loved the sets that combined her two favourite things...science and beauty...and picked out sets to make her own perfume, bath bombs and lip glosses!  She also loved the girlie secret diary, jewellery making sets and fashion designer sets.


She has enough activities to keep her going for a whole year and we'll report back on her favourite items.  What a lucky little girl she is!!  Just look at the two huge boxes that arrived for her!


I really like the fact that my little princess loves her science.  The Disgusting Science set really got her excited as did the Horrible Science range.  I predict lots of messy experiments will soon be carried out in my kitchen!


We are so grateful to the lovely people of Galt for holding such a lovely competition for the kids, with such amazing prizes.  Kizzy considers herself to be a very privileged young lady and intends to carry out her royal duties to the best of her ability!


Take a look at Galt's website if you are looking for ideas for really innovative and inspiring arts, crafts, science and activity sets for both girls and boys.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Spring Cleaning the Natural & Clean Way

Natural & Clean are cleaning specialists who offer a wide range of innovative and environmentally friendly travel, pet and household cleaning products, to make our homes fresh, clean and odour free.


With Spring Cleaning season fast approaching, and with us about to put our house on the market, I was very pleased to be sent a selection of these products to test out.  The company ethos is to create, distribute and sell the finest quality cleaning products that respect the Earth.  The products do not contain any animal based products and are not tested on animals.  Made without harsh chemicals, they are also kind to those of us who live in the house being cleaned, which is really important when you have children.

The Natural & Clean range includes carpet and upholstery cleaning products.  I was particularly pleased to receive these as our beige stairway and hall carpet is looking slightly worse for wear and would benefit from a good clean.


The Dry Carpet Cleaner is a really innovative product.  Millions of tiny sponge like granules absorb dirt when agitated into the carpet.  The pack comes with a brush to work it into the pile.  The granules absorb dirt from the carpet fibres and change colour.  They can then be simply vacuumed away.  It is very easy to use and leaves the carpet smelling fresh and looking cleaner.  Knowing there is nothing unnatural in the product is very reassuring with a toddler in the house.  The cleaner looks a lot like damp sand, which goes to work straight away.  After about 10 minutes you can hoover it up.  The carpet definitely looks better for the treatment and looks less aged.  It currently costs £5.19 for a 500g pouch.

The Spot Remover Spray targets tough spots and spills directly.  Made with high quality natural ingredients means it is free from solvents, bleach or phosphates.  To use, you spray onto an absorbent cloth and rub over the spill.  It is even suitable on wool.  The  discolouration is lifted from the carpet.  It is an effective and safe way to tackle stains.  I tried it on a muddy print on my stair carpet and it lifted a lot of the discolouration very quickly and easily.  I'll be targeting more of my carpet with this later, and hopefully make it look much cleaner for any prospective buyers!  There are also Spot Remover Wipes for extra convenience. They are effective on coffee, tea, food grease, pet accidents, soft drinks etc and can be used on most fabrics. With messy kids, these are a must have!  The wipes foam up when you use them, but quickly dry to a powder meaning there is no sticky residue.  Each wipe goes a long way so one would tackle a spill effectively.  Both the spray and 25 pack of wipes each cost £3.43.


The Bin Deodoriser is a powerful formulation which attacks the cause of unwanted odours, neutralising and removing them.  You simply spray it onto offending areas such as the kitchen bin, wheelie bins, cat litter trays, nappy bins or waste disposal units.  You can also spray the internal surfaces of bins after each bag change to keep them smelling fresh.  Powerful active microbes neutralise the pong instantly.  I was really impressed by this product.  It didn't mask the stink with an artificial fragrance, it made the smell disappear.  It is safe for pets and people so you don't have to worry about harsh chemicals in your home.  It is just £3.39 for a 300ml trigger spray bottle.  It is perfect for freshening up every bin in the house.  I wish I'd had this when Fred was still in nappies because they made the bin reek! 

All the products have performed really effectively.  The packaging has good information and clear instructions for each product's use.  I love that they are environmentally friendly, not tested on animals and safe.  I was impressed to find a brand that does not compromise on its company ethos or the quality of its products!  I'd recommend taking a look online for the full range of pet, baby, travel and household cleaning products.

You can purchase directly from the Natural and Clean website and orders over £50 are free.

*I received samples to test but no compensation was received.*



What Was Number One When Your Kids Were Born?

I just saw Chelsea Mamma 's meme on her blog and thought it was a lovely idea. I did a What Was Number One When You Were Born post myself a few weeks ago and it seems like the logical progression so here are my five kids' number one singles from the day they were born.

Joseph
U2 "Desire"


Megan
Vic Reeves and the Wonder Stuff "Dizzy"


Ella
Mark Morrison "Return of the Mack"


Kezia
Will Young and Gareth Gates "Long and Winding Road"


Freddy
Cascada "Evacuate the Dancefloor"


I did not remember one of these songs being number one when my babies were born. I must have been too busy being 9 months pregnant to have cared about the charts!  I think they are mostly quite fitting.  Having my first baby became my "desire" as a mixed up teenager, and having Joe really did put me on the path to becoming a better person.  Megan really is my wonderfully 'dizzy' daughter who makes me laugh and fills my life with laughs and all manner of 'wonder stuff'!  After Ella was born we started the process of changing our family name to McDonald...hence "Return of the Mack"!  Kizzy's birth gave us the beautiful song "The Long and Winding Road" which is a good metaphor for our journey together as a family, forever evolving and travelling but our road will always lead us back to the door of home.  However, Freddy's number one song has no relevance at all..it's a rubbish dance track.  So I'll choose the song we listened to while I was in the labour room waiting for my contractions to start.  The local radio station seemed to play the same few songs over and over again at 3am, but I found this one most poignant to my situation....

Take That  "Patience"


What was number one when your babies were born?

Monday, 27 February 2012

*CLOSED* Vote for Kiddicare's New Arrival and Win a £1500 Spending Spree

Kiddicare is planning a new arrival! This Autumn, they will be opening a brand new superstore and they are putting their customers in the driving seat giving them the chance to decide on the location through the power of social media.  They are giving YOU the chance to vote for your preferred location by visiting their Facebook Page.  Voters can also take part in a special competition to win a pre-opening £1,500 personal spree at the new store!  Enter the competition and if the store you voted for wins, you are in the draw for this once in a lifetime prize.

I am championing the Birmingham Store, one of the six stores that are in the running to become the new Kiddicare Superstore.  Stocking thousands of baby and nursery essentials under one roof and offering exceptional service including free car seat fittings and product repairs, Kiddicare is the one stop shop for every family's needs.

 www.kiddicare.com/facebook
You have until the 9th March to vote and enter into this amazing competition.  Share the news among your friends and follow @kiddicare on Twitter and use the hashtag #NewArrival to spread the word.


      So don't forget to VOTE BIRMINGHAM and bring Kiddicare to the West midlands in Autumn!







When My Husband's Away....

This week Ian is away on business.  He left at the weekend and will be returning next Friday night.  He is only a couple of hundred miles away staying in Windsor, near to where we used to live.  But he may as well be on the other side of the world.

When we first moved to Shropshire, Ian still worked down south.  His shifts were four days on, four days off so he stayed with my parents when he was working, and drove home after his last shift to spend his days off with us.  It was a gruelling lifestyle for him, especially as he alternated between day shifts and night shifts and his body clock didn't have a clue whether it was day time or night time.  He often fell asleep on the kitchen table in the middle of his dinner.  Those were difficult days for us all and I'm glad to see the back of them.

Since then things have improved.  His current job is in Birmingham which is 60 miles away from here and so is a commutable distance.  He is however on call 24 hours a day which means he can get home after a slow drive up the M6 and be called straight back in again to fix a broken computer.  It's sometimes really frustrating, but it is why he is paid so well so we can't complain.

This week he is on a course which will diversify his role, making him (hopefully) more useful to the company which is always a big plus in times of redundancies and cutbacks. It is great that they are still investing in him and giving him the kind of career progression he wants.  But, how I hate him being away!

I feel like such a fraud.  Millions of women cope with husbands that work away day in and day out.  I seriously don't think I could handle that.  I admire the strength of military wives raising a family while their husbands fight for their country.   When Ian's away I feel like part of me is missing.  We are such an old married couple, that I sometimes think we have just merged into one.

When it comes to division of labour, Ian does so much of the housework and childcare that I am spoilt!  When he isn't here however, I become much more dynamic and less lazy more efficient.  I think it's because I am at heart a control freak so if I don't do it 100% myself, I prefer to simply delegate the whole job responsibility to someone else.  Ian's attempts at 'helping' over the years have landed him a whole load of personal chores.  In his absence, I do everything with gusto and in my own way, which is actually quite satisfying.  Plus, it's good for me to have to step away from the laptop and do some housework!

But I do miss my right hand man.  I miss his hugs.  I miss him making me cups of coffee.  I miss his wake-up call in the morning.  I miss him being there for a chat.  I miss him helping look after Freddy and the girls.  I miss him taxi-ing the kids around. I miss my best friend.  However, the one thing that I totally do not miss at all is his snoring!!  So it's not all bad ;)

Me and My Man x

Mixed Load Laundry with Colour Catcher

When the laundry mountain is threatening to take over your house,  the prospect of  fastidiously sorting through every item according to the washing instructions and colour can prove daunting.  With Colour Catcher from Dylon, you have one less thing to worry about as you can confidently do mixed coloured loads without fear of  colour runs.  


Less sorting also means you can do fewer loads.  No need to wait for a full load of whites or running a load that is half empty.  This reduces the amount of water, electricity and detergent you use...good for the pocket and the planet!


Just pop one sheet of Colour Catcher in with your mixed load and wash in the usual way.


Each sheet acts like a magnet, drawing away the traces of dirt and dye that bleed from coloured clothes and trapping them during the wash.  This keeps the dyes away from the other clothing in the wash avoiding the grubby, grey appearance that can build up over time.


The proof is on the sheet!  

I was sent a box to test for this review.  Ella has a black and white dress which I hate washing!  I never know whether to treat it as a 'light' or a 'dark'.  With a Colour Catcher sheet in the wash, I was confident that I could I put it in a mixed coloured load and not worry about it.  It came out perfectly.  It is these type of items that benefit most from using a Colour Catcher, giving you peace of mind.  With the fashion for colour blocking or monochrome clothing, it is reassuring to have a product that enables you to wash the garment without worrying that you'll ruin it.   *Care still needs to be taken when doing laundry (see the Precautions list below).

Colour Catcher is available in three sizes 12, 24 and 40 sheet packs priced at £2.89, £3.65 and £4.99 RRP respectively.  Available at Tesco, Asda, Wilkinson, Sainsbury's and Waitrose.  


*Precautions:

  • Certain fabrics are more susceptible to colour runs; red or dark coloured fabrics and cotton garments. To ensure maximum effectiveness for items with poor colour fastness use 2 or 3 sheets
  • New coloured garments should be washed separately for at least the first 5 or 6 washes whilst certain large dark coloured items, such as jeans and towels, should always be washed separately
  • Effectiveness cannot be guaranteed where large quantities of dye run from non-colourfast garments
  • Reasonable care should be taken if mixing colours with whites
  • Always follow the washing machine manufacturer’s instructions

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Digital Thermometer

A few weeks ago Freddy was very poorly with a virus that caused his temperature to shoot up rapidly causing him to have a convulsion.  We had a frantic phone call with the out of hours doctor who gave us some advice which he followed.  Thankfully we managed to bring his temperature down and he bounced back over the next few days.  Having a child who is not well is extremely stressful and upsetting.

A rise in temperature is a tell-tale sign that your little one could be poorly.  When you are nursing them at home, it is reassuring to be able to keep a close eye on their temperature.  It gives peace of mind and can alert us to any changes in their condition.

Tommee Tippee has launched the new closer to nature® Digital Ear Thermometer to give parents that peace of mind.  It is a real must-have for the medicine cabinet, ensuring that we can check our children's temperatures quickly, easily and accurately whenever necessary.


The speedy thermometer keeps track of baby’s temperature quickly and accurately; simply place the tip in your little one’s ear and press the scan button - then after just 1 second, an accurate temperature reading will show clearly on the easy to read LCD display. It has a tiny tip making it safe for everyone from newborn babies to grown-ups and is also really easy to operate - giving you one less thing to worry about!

Other great features of the closer to nature® Digital Ear Thermometer include:

      A fever alert which alarms when baby’s temperature is too high, leaving you in no doubt.
      Stores 9 memory readings so you can monitor baby’s temperature with ease.       
      Complete with 8 replacement hygiene covers (replacements are available to purchase separately).
.

We were sent a digital thermometer to try out.  Thankfully, my children are all well at the moment but we had a go taking each other's temperatures. The thermometer is comfortable to hold and very easy to use. The design is very user friendly.  

The fever alert is a great feature of the thermometer.  It is easy to forget what the norm is for body temperature, so the alarm is a fool proof way of knowing when your little one is getting too hot.  The memory feature lets you keep track of your child's temperature, which would be really useful when monitoring their symptoms.  Knowing an accurate reading of your child's temperature means you can provide relevant information when you seek medical advice.  The closer to nature® Digital Ear Thermometer means you have one less thing to worry about when your child is poorly.  

For the RRP of £34.99, this thermometer is a worthy investment for any household.

tommee tippee® products are available at, Amazon,  Asda,  Argos, Boots, Mothercare, Morrisons, Sainsburys, Tesco, Toys R Us or online at www.tommeetippee.co.uk .

 www.facebook.com/tommeetippee 
 www.twitter.com/tommeetippee


The Tooth Fairy 2

Whenever any of my children lose a tooth, we leave it under the pillow for the Tooth Fairy.  But never do we imagine the Tooth Fairy to look like the star of the new movie from 20th Century Fox.  Available on DVD on March 12th, The Tooth Fairy 2 introduces us to an all new and very unlikely Tooth Fairy played by Larry the CableGuy.


When Larry Guthrie loses his first love to the sleazy town hot shot, he decides to try and win her back by tugging at her heart strings.  He volunteers at the local kids' after school club but soon slips up when he tells the kids that the Tooth Fairy is not real.  He then becomes magically transformed into a pink-winged, tutu-clad fairy in order for him to learn his lesson.  He is sentenced to collect ten children's teeth in ten days.  If he fails he loses his best ever memory.


The story is heart warming as you see Larry becoming a better man through his experiences and see his first love warming to him again.  Her fiancée does all he can to sabotage Larry at every possible opportunity, creating some funny moments.

There were loads of funny moments which kept both Kizzy and Freddy entertained.  We were all rooting for Larry on his journey of self discovery.  It is a good fun-filled family film with some touching moments.  The cute kids definitely added the 'cute' element to the film.

The Tooth Fairy 2 DVD is jam packed with extra special features...including an introduction to 'Larry The Hairy Fairy'.  Tooth Fairy 2 is also available as part of a special double-pack that includes the original Tooth Fairy film starring Dwayne Johnson.

Release Date             12th March 2012
Running Time             86 minutes
Certificate                   PG
DVD Price                 RRP £15.99
DVD Double Pack     RRP £19.99

Friday, 24 February 2012

Princess Galt is in the Papers

From Shropshire Star Group Newspapers

Albelli Photo Books

Albelli produce the most incredible photo books for every occasion.  I like to regularly get my digital photos made into photo books, which are a wonderful way of preserving our memories.  So far, this February has given us some unexpected snow days, half term and Valentine's Day.  With so many fabulous photo opportunities I've got lots of lovely photographs of my family that deserve to be on display for everyone to look at.  So I was very pleased when Albelli offered me the chance to make my own photo book.

I love the Albelli site.  You can make photo books instantly by choosing which pictures you want including and letting the programme do the rest.  But I love the freedom of making my own.

Page layouts, backgrounds, number of photos per page, text and photo sizes can be played around with to create your own unique design.  I loved the creative freedom, dragging, dropping and cropping my pictures in my own way, picking colour schemes and adding text boxes.

It is quite intuitive and user friendly and regular save prompts ensure you don't lose your work!

Creating my Albelli Photo Book
When you have created your book you can choose optional extras such as a full photo front cover and extra thick glossy pages.  These make your creation even more special.

My Photo Book arrived a week after I made it which is a great turnaround time.  Email messages kept me informed of its progress along the way.  The books are sent in sturdy cardboard packaging and are wrapped in plastic so they don't get damaged.

I have to confess that I let out a little gasp of joy when I saw my book.  It was so glossy and colourful.  No wonder Albelli were voted as the No1 Photo Book by The Gadget Show!

My Valentine's Cupcakes on the Cover
Different Layouts 
Thick, glossy pages
Valentine's Day Photos
Funky Backgrounds

Prices start at just £6.95.  

They would make a fabulous, unique and thoughtful gift for Mother's Day filled with family photos.

Find out more at Albelli.co.uk

Midnight in Paris

It's the Oscars this weekend, and we LOVE The Oscars!!  This year however, I hadn't seen any of the films nominated for Best Picture which was a bit of a shame.  However, Warner Bros came to the rescue when they sent me Midnight In Paris to review as part of my rom-com package for Valentine's Day.


Directed by Woody Allen, the film tells the story of a young engaged couple, dreamer Gil (Owen Wilson) and materialistic, shallow Inez (Rachel McAdams) who travel to France with Inez's unpleasant parents who are on a business trip.  Gil is a writer, fed up with his unfulfilling career in Hollywood but struggling with his first novel, who finds the ultimate inspiration in the city as he goes on midnight walks filled with fantasy.  But the closer he gets to the heart of the city, the further away he gets from the woman he thought he loved.

Woody Allen embodies the charm and magic of Paris and the golden age of the Bohemian era of the '20s.  Literary and artistic greats from the past are brought to life as Gil magically transports back in time night after night. He becomes involved with all these characters causing him to reassess his life. Inez accuses Gil of "being in love with a fantasy" and this becomes the theme of this movie.  Searching for the Golden Age and seeking appreciation for his art becomes an obsession that changes his future and leads him to his destiny.

Why Gil time travels is never explained, but if you just accept that he does and go along with it, then you can share his journey into these bygone eras.  I particularly liked his encounter with the Surrealists!

The cinematography is sumptuous, showing the sights of Paris in the romantic way we imagine and wish them to be.  The script is sharp with some genuinely witty moments especially as Gil's double life alienates him further and further from reality and his fiancée.  My only real problem is the casting.  I love Rachel McAdams but felt she was very under-used.  Owen Wilson's character seems to be the same in every film he acts in.  I almost expected Marley to come bounding in at any moment wagging his tail at the sight of his master! I failed to see him as a struggling novelist willing to deconstruct his life of privilege in favour of the realisation of his Golden Age Notion. Someone with more intensity would have worked better for me.  But even though I found his character unbelievable,  he is likeable nevertheless.

As far a romantic comedies go, this doesn't fall into the 'laugh out loud' sub-genre.  The humour is more subtle, playful and gentle.  The twist in the story at the end was quite predictable, but still made you smile as Gil gets his girl.  It is definitely a more intelligent 'rom-com' as you would expect from Woody Allen's directorship.  One for the more mature audience, who still enjoy a touch of fantasy and romance on screen!

You can buy Midnight in Paris at Amazon for £9.99 and keep an eye out for it at the Oscars on the 26th!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

I can't believe we are racing towards the end of another week.  Time to take stock again and give thanks for all the good bits!

1:  The sun shining today gave us a taste of Springtime, which I hope will soon be upon us for real.  The sunshine always makes things feel better!  It was the first day that I didn't crank the heating up in the car on the school run.  It'll soon be air con time :)

2:  Kizzy was announced as the Face of  Princess Galt.  We attended an official photoshoot where some absolutely stunning professional photos were taken.  She was an absolute star and did her mummy (and Galt Toys) proud!

3:  Operation De-Clutter went off to a flying start with a car boot sale held at the local sports hall.  We did really well making over £100 on the kids' old toys and other bits and bobs that we'd sorted out.  The thing that I liked best was seeing our pre-loved toys re-housed with new boys and girls.  Lots of children were made very happy getting something new to play with.  It is recycling at its very best!
Plus it takes us one step further towards our ultimate goal of moving house.  We've seen some amazing homes in our price range in a lovely little town close to Northampton.  It makes me believe that it is an achievable plan!

4:  Freddy's new glasses are proving a bit of a challenge, but he is getting better at keeping them on with every passing hour.  This makes me think they must be doing some good and getting his eye working.  He looks so cute in them too!


 

Kizzy is The Face of Princess Galt

A while ago I spotted a competition where you had to submit a video of your child showing why they should become the Face of Galt.  There were four categories:  Scientist, Artist, Baby and Princess.  Kizzy embraced the idea of the contest and here is the video we submitted.


Earlier this year we had an email to say that Kizzy was to be crowned as Princess Galt!  A photoshoot was organised at the Marriott Hotel in Derby, which is the oldest Marriott in the world with the charm of an olde worlde castle.

We met the other category winners which included Lisa, a long standing friend of mine from the Facebook who is a fellow comping blogger, mum to the gorgeous Dexter and a very lovely lady!  We had a room which was filled with Galt products for the kids to play with while they waited for their turn in the limelight.

Galt Sequin Art
Kizzy was given a lovely princess outfit to wear which made her look absolutely gorgeous...like a real princess!  She really was perfect!!

My Princess
Kizzy's photo shoot was very fairytale like. Brown toned filters and a smoke machine created a soft focused effect.  The settings included a secret staircase and an ornate window sill.  Kizzy followed the instructions of the photographer really well although that meant holding quite uncomfortable positions perched on the edge of a very narrow wooden step.  She was a star!

Setting up the shot.
We had a lovely lunch and then the kids did a group shot.  I felt so relieved that I had a 9 year old daughter who was able to hold her pose while all around her things were chaotic.  The other three little ones and their parents had quite a time trying to get them to sit still and look at the camera.  Getting them all looking in the right direction and smiling was a real challenge.  I could just sit back and relax as Kizzy sat like a little angel, even when Baby Galt stuck his rattle in her eye!

We had a great day.  Kizzy did so well and I was very proud of her.  Freddy was pretty well behaved even though he ate four pieces of cake, crawling halfway across the table to get them...but he had a great time supporting Kizzy!  Even big sister Ella enjoyed playing with all the arts and crafts sets that Galt had provided.

I can't wait to see the finished photos used by Galt...they were incredible.  The photographer had such a great vision and the models were all gorgeous!

Take a look at Galt's website to see all of the Face of Galt winners.

How To Make a Toddler Wear Glasses

Yesterday we picked up Freddy's new glasses!  The trendy Mr Bump blue frames are very smart and stylish, a million miles away from the old NHS specs from my childhood.  They  make Freddy look very cute.

The right lens is just clear glass and I was shocked that the left lens was quite so strong and magnified.  My poor little man has soldiered on with really poor vision in that eye.  It is remarkable how well children can adapt to something that an adult would struggle with and moan about!

At first Fred was not interested in putting them on.  He liked it when his toys put them on, when we put them on and even when the apple he had for his mid-morning snack put them on.  But he was not impressed having to look through them himself.  Ella, Kizzy, Nana and Grandad all put on their glasses to show Freddy how cool they looked, but he was still reluctant to wear them.  I'm sure they must make his poor eye feel strained as it tries to start working again.  It must seem very odd to a 2 year old who doesn't fully understand what it's all about.
Not Quite Right
As ever, my lovely virtual friends on Facebook offered me solutions, ideas and advice and just discussing the problem really helped.  Thank you all for your much appreciated support :)

I've discovered that doing an activity with him that requires close-up vision is the best way to get him to comply.  I tell him that if he looks through the 'magic windows' he'll see things better.  I get him to look at things and describe colours and shapes to focus his eyes.  We did a whole hour playing with Duplo in his glasses this morning which is a real positive step.  Lots of praise and encouragement is the key...along with lots of distraction.  He is getting less opposed to them and the odd bribe reward seems to work well too.  I'm not going to make a huge deal out of it as I don't want him to become spectacle-phobic!  So I'm being relaxed and giving him breaks and not pressuring him.  Afterall it's early days!

My New Glasses
His next appointment is for six weeks time.  I really hope it shows that his left eye has had its vision kick-started.  We've caught it early and time is on our side.  Eyesight is such a valuable thing and I''l do all I can to get Freddy's problem resolved....even resorting to Jelly Tot rewards for keeping his specs on!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Pillow Pets...Is It A Pillow? Is It A Pet?

Everyone loves snuggling up to something warm, soft and cosy.  If that warm, soft and cosy thing just happens to also be a cute, friendly and playful pal, then all the better!

Mookie Toys have brought the original Pillow Pets to the UK.  They are  premium quality, ultra-soft and cuddly chenille plush toys that double up as  lovely soft pillows.  Perfect for nap time, travelling in the car or playtime!


We were sent a Playful Penguin to try out.  He had a very appealing little face that just cried out to be hugged!  I really like the idea of a cuddly toy that also has a practical function, making it more than just another 'teddy'. It is really well made and the fabric is a great quality...beware of cheap imitations on the market!


A velcro-strap underneath the Pillow Pet is released to transform the cuddly toy into a pillow.  It is quick and easy to switch between pillow and pal.  The pillow really is super soft and very comfy!


Both two year old Freddy and nine year old Kizzy loved their Playful Penguin Pillow Pet.  All ages can enjoy cuddling up with one, from toddlers to grandparents!  I even enjoyed a snuggle!  Catching a cheeky forty winks has never been such fun!

The range includes Silly Monkey, Playful Penguin, Comfy Panda, Snuggly Puppy, Magical Unicorn, Wiggly Pig, Ms Ladybug and Bumbly Bee!   And especially for Easter, Cuddly Bunny, Thumpy Bunny, Puffy Duck and Fluffy Bunny  will be joining the gang.  They are all cute, colourful and fun!  




Find out more at pillowpets.co.uk.  The Original Pillow Pets are priced at £19.99 RRP and available from Toys ‘R’ Us and Amazon.  They'd make a great Easter Gift Idea!



When Your Best Is Just Not Good Enough

When once asked by one of my children what you should do if your best just isn't good enough, I replied that you should say bollocks to those who don't think you are good enough and carry on doing exactly what you're doing regardless.  Sage advice I thought and congratulated myself on my words of wisdom.

However, I have been contemplating whether or not this is actually right.  Is just doing your best really enough?  Or should we be honest enough about our limitations to see that sometimes we simply aren't good enough for the job in hand and concede defeat.  Should we take the pressure off ourselves and pass the challenge on to someone better equipped?

What about when the thing that you are doing is really important?  What about if it is a matter of life and death and your best attempts fall short?  If 'your best' really isn't good enough, how do you reconcile the fact that you are letting someone down or causing potential harm? Would it better to not try at all?

Suppose a plumber did his best, but still flooded your house?  Or an inexperienced, sleep deprived junior doctor nicked an artery during surgery?  Or a hairdresser, who in spite of trying her very best, managed to botch your cut and colour leaving you looking like a clown?  Does the fact that they 'did their best' really help the situation?

We live in a target and results led society.  Children are continually tested in schools, they are judged, they are  made to sit exams, they are expected to reach a minimum requirement by the end of their education.  If their best doesn't meet this criteria they are deemed to have failed.  In the workplace we are given targets which need to be met.  Pay rises, promotions or potential redundancies rely on these targets.  Like it or not, we are constantly put in situations where we have to perform.  Failure to do so, however hard we may have tried, is going to have repurcussions.

I think that this also applies to a certain extent to the art of parenting.  I define myself first and foremost as being a mother.  Motherhood takes precedent over all my other roles and I feel it is the most important thing I've ever done and will continue to do.  I try with every molecule of my being to make my children happy in all aspects of their lives.  I strive to be the one who can help them overcome all their obstacles.  I try to empower them to find the solutions to their problems.  I want to be the one who can fix anything that they need fixing.

Unfortunately, sometimes I can't 'fix' things.  Realistically, there will always be problems that are beyond my control.  It is human nature to feel somehow to blame if anything goes wrong, even if it is completely out of our control.  As a mother we have to juggle so many balls at once.  When one of those balls is dropped should we feel guilty or blame ourselves?  The logical side of me says no, of course we shouldn't, but the emotional side starts doubting my abilities and my worthiness of being a mother.  Maternal guilt is a powerful thing!

 The universe blessed me with five amazing, inspiring and incredible children.  I hope I'll be 'good enough' to allow them to realise their true potential.  I hope they'll grow up knowing how loved, adored and cherished they are, and how they really are the centre of my universe.  I hope they will learn from me, but make their own choices, forging their own path into the world.  And if there are some things that I can't fix for them myself...I will be honest enough to face up to my limitations and admit that I can't simply wave a magic wand and make everything better for them.  But I'll be resourceful enough to find someone better equipped who can help...and that's my promise to my babies!

Maybe it's admitting that we're sometimes 'not good enough' that makes us so much better than we think we are!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Pancake Day!

I have eaten my body weight in pancakes.  Chocolate pancakes with Nutella and Scotch pancakes with maple syrup and ice cream.  What a lot of stodgy, batter-y goodness!  I've over indulged but my belly is happy...it's the little pleasures that make life worth living!

Pancakes with Maple Syrup
I love getting in the kitchen with the kids and getting our pancake production line in full swing: mixing, frying, tossing, topping and eating!  Fred wasn't too impressed with his pancake, but I think he was expecting cupcakes making the flat little offering a disappointment!

However, the rest of us had his share!

Pancakes!
I hope you had a good Pancake Day and enjoyed your own carb-laden treats today, however you enjoyed them!  Next stop....Lent!

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