Tuesday, 30 November 2010

My Thinking Slimmer Slimpod Trial

As a self-confessed yo-yo dieter, my weight is prone to swings.  When I start a diet I am full of motivation, but the slightest glitch usually results in a reversal of my good work as I hit the comfort of the biscuit tin.  This pattern has existed my whole adult life, with my weight fluctuating between an upper and lower limit.

When I was offered the chance to trial a Thinking Slimmer Slimpod, I was very keen to give it a go.  I've never used hypnotherapy before, but am definitely open to the idea of harnessing the power of the subconscious.  Thinking Slimmer is a revolutionary new way of losing weight created by Harley Street experts.  they aim to re-tune the mind to adjust the way it views food, health and fitness.  In just 10 minutes a day, it claims to spell the end of diets and calorie counting, leading to weight loss (average loss is 16lbs over 10 weeks.)

They offer 16 different programmes available as downloads priced at £24.99 each which includes 13 weeks free VIP membership to the Thinking Slimmer club, which offers resources on food, fashion and fitness.  I have chosen the "Drop a Dress Size" slimpod and by listening to it every night for at least 21 days, it should influence the way I think about myself, my attitude to food and how I look after my body.  I have already listened to my introductory recording and am feeling quite excited about giving this method of weight loss a good try.  I will receive motivational emails for the next 21 days to keep me on track.  I will report back to let you know how I am getting on!

Full details are available at the Thinking Slimmer website, where you can buy the slimpods and try this revolutionary weightloss technique for yourself!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Mission:Explore Review

As a mother with three daughters  I was intrigued by this book, Mission:Explore.  It has been approved by the Pink Stinks Campaign for real role models for girls. They "believe that body image obsession is starting younger and younger, and that the seeds are sown during the pink stage, as young girls are taught the boundaries within which they will grow up, as well as narrow and damaging messages about what it is to be a girl."  They aim to promote  the importance of  positive gender roles to girls.  This book is gender neutral and promotes a positive message to young people giving both boys and girls the same opportunities.  So it is perfect for young girls (no princesses, fairies or pink sparkles here!!)

Mission:Explore has been created by The Geography Collective. They say:

"Mission:Explore is a project to encourage (young) people to see, explore and make sense of the world in new ways.The Mission:Explore book includes 102 missions that challenge you to (re)discover our world. Each illustrated mission will get you questioning, playing, experimenting and researching before rubbing, writing, scribbling, sketching, smearing, scraping or drawing your findings on its pages."

National Geographic say:  "Mission:Explore is bold, cool, exciting, innovative, geographic, educational…and just plain fun! Every curious kid, budding geographer, and responsible parent should have a copy!".

It is aimed at children aged 10+ years old and challenges them to go out into their neighbourhood to complete tasks and explore their environment.  This ethos reminds me of my own childhood where I'd be out and about all day, exploring, building camps and inventing things to do.  These days children tend not to play in this way, so it is an interesting concept to introduce these ideas by way of this interactive pocket book. Issues of personal safety are dealt with well.  Learning to play safely out of doors and assessing risks are essential life skills. Children are given the opportunity to question things that they may otherwise take for granted.  They are even encouraged to engage with local politics and think about issues that effect them.

The style is really kooky with fabulous cartoon illustrations, and is written with a real sense of humour.  I sniggered my way through the pages!  I really liked the mission to 'make your local area more friendly'.  It empowers young people to make a difference in their community and think about the needs of others.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and was taken back to my own childhood.  To be very honest, I wouldn't be comfortable with my youngest daughter being out without a responsible adult.  I know this is a common apprehension felt by many parents in this day and age.  However, the missions would be fantastic starting points for family adventures, enabling younger children to take part in the activities and engage with mum and dad in a fun way in the process.  Older children could enjoy their own adventures using this book and following the safety guidelines.  It is such an original, witty and enjoyable read, which is interactive and engaging. The ethos is to get children to play outdoors to explore, discover and learn,  bringing this freedom back to our children in a thought provoking, intelligent way!  Profits are used to provide books for underpriveleged children giving them the same opportunities to enjoy this book.  I'd definitely recommend it.

Available from Amazon.

The Graco Symbio at the Lakes!

With all the drama that befell us this weekend, one thing that proved completely reliable was our Graco Symbio!  The unbelievably cold weather could have made things difficult when out and about with a young baby.  Thankfully for Freddy, Graco's cosy toes proved second to none for its warmth and comfort.  The temperature dropped to 3 degrees below zero during the afternoon, but Freddy was able to sleep in the Symbio completely unbothered by the cold.  The thick fleecy material totally cocooned him and was incredibly insulating and the design of the cosy toes allowed us to button it up right up to his chin.  Pulling over the hood protected his face from the wind.  This really was the ultimate test for this feature of the Symbio.  The success of this was paramount to the comfort of my baby and I was so pleased that it lived up to and exceeded my expectations.  He slept peacefully during our walk of the grounds and stayed asleep after we returned to the house.  Obviously, this is one comfy ride!!

The Lakes...our near miss!

We have safely arrived home after a rather eventful weekend in the Lake District.  It is so typically me to be holidaying in the West Lakes when unseasonal blizzards set in!  We had a very hazardous moment when our Sat Nav took us down a route that crossed Corney Fell , which turned out to be the second highest road in the Lake District.  It was the day before the snow fell and we were totally caught out.  The thick ice on the high roads made it treacherous to drive on, but the gradient made it impossible to turn round and go back.  We inched along having to stop every few hundred yards to walk out the next challenging obstacle.  Four times, I was terrified and in genuine fear for our safety.  My baby was sleeping in his carseat and I prayed he'd stay peacefully oblivious to the danger we were in.  At one point my husband lost control and our Galaxy hurtled out of control down an icy slope with a steep incline to our right.  To see my husband start to panic was the worst thing, because he is such a confident and competent driver.  If he starts to panic, I know it's bad! Thankfully, he was able to gain enough control to get two wheels onto a grass verge which allowed the brakes to work enough to stop our descent.  Unfortunately, my son Joe was following us in convoy and he failed to get control of his vehicle and crashed into our bumper.  Luckily our big car had enough inertia to stop him without pushing us over the edge of the incline. If we hadn't been in his path, he could have gone off the road...I've never been happier about a prang!!  We were very shaken and my daughter hit her head on the side window.  Thankfully though, we were all OK.  It took us nearly 2 hours to drive six was the worst, most frightening journey I have ever been on.  I shudder when I think about what could have happened, but knowing we were all OK and that the cars were not too damaged, bar a cracked bumper, made me feel lucky to still be able to continue my holiday.

Our family meal was meant to me on the Staurday night, but the icy roads and our traumatic day made us loathe to venture back out.  However, the restaurant was good enough to move our reservation and set menu to the Sunday at noon instead.  So we went en masse to Brockwood Hall to celebrate my parents' 55th wedding anniversary in style.  As most of us are vegetarian we arranged a suitable menu in advance.  But when the "vegetable" soup came out, it was so chicken-y i had to query it.  We were told it was leek and potato...not convinced!!  At the least it was made with chicken stock.  The lunch was redeemed by a rather delicious goat's cheese and leek tart served with roast veg trimmings...but again it was let down a little by the fact that the gravy was not vegetarian.  Dry roast spuds are really not as good as a nice gravy covered tattie...but overall the meal was good.  Dessert was a perfect sticky toffee pudding with ice cream.  Lovely!  Coffee served in the bar completed our meal.  We forgave them for soup-gate because they were so ameniable about moving our booking...and the food was generally good.

We searched the house for evidence of paranormal activity.  Apart from a couple of unexplained knockings, my mum feeling someone touch her head, Fred being fixated by an old stone wall and me thinking I saw my sister lying on her bed (when she was still downstairs!!) we saw no concrete evidence of the Lady in Gray said to walk the halls of our house.  A nighttime walk of the grounds was exhilarating, but we witnessed no ghostly goings-on. 

The snow that initially gave us a beautiful sprinkle, soon started falling in huge flakes.  The land was soon covered in a good three inches of white snow.  It looked beautiful and Freddy was amazed by his first time out in the snow on his own two feet!  But the potential hazards of the weather conditions, after our near miss, made us eager to leave during daylight hours, rather than stay on and enjoy our last day.  But the beauty of the snow covered Lakes was breathtaking.  Our journey home took much longer because of the road conditions...but we got home safe and sound.  The rest of our party have also all arrived home safely.  It was a very eventful weekend...and it was wonderful to be surrounded by the whole family!

Corney Fell before the drama!

The gorgeous kids!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Holiday Hell or Heaven?

We have had this family gathering booked for months.  My parents are celebrating their 55th Wedding anniversary in December and this holiday is their way of celebrating.  There is nothing they like better than having their family around them, so booking a manor house in the Lake District and inviting everyone was the perfect choice.

Irton Hall was the location we settled on.  We booked Broughton House and the The Clock Tower to accommodate our extended family.  We loved the idea of staying somewhere steeped in history, opulence and with a spattering of associated paranormal activity! The idea of my parents feeling like Lord and Lady of the Manor was a very appealing prospect.

Broughton House

The Clocktower
So, yesterday we set of armed with a Sat Nav to drive the 160 miles from our home in Shropshire to the West Lakes.  Prior to this, I had my usual pre-holiday meltdown where I fail to cope with the prospect of leaving the safety and security of my own home.  I panic about what to take, and end up overpacking to cater for every single eventuality that might befall me or the children.  It's my "thing"...I do this every time we go away. We set of 3 hours later than I had initially planned to, but we were on our way.

The journey was good with minimal traffic, so we made good time until the last 20 miles.  Our Sat Nav must have thought it was incredibly funny to lead us of the beaten track to take a cross-mountain short cut.  To call what we were driving on a road would be a stretch of your imagination.  The track through the snow capped hills wound around, climbing and falling in a fashion akin to a rollercoaster.  In some circumstances this would be fun, but baby had just woken up and was getting restless.  Teenaged daughter was feeling car sick and my general anxiety had resurfaced, manifesting itself into a form of Tourette's aiming abuse at my husband for not checking the route before entrusting our lives to a mischievous Sat Nav!  Thankfully, Ian is incredibly tolerant of my episodes and kept his mind on the driving and after what seemed like an eternity we arrived safely at our destination.

The house was instantly impressive.  The sheer size of the property is amazing.  I chose a bedroom that, in terms of surface area, would dwarf the entire ground floor of my own four bedroomed house.  It's huge with an enormous four poster bed and an ensuite with one of those stand alone bathtubs in the middle of the floor.  The stair case is dramatic with its huge stained glass window and chandelier.  The living room boasts a wonderful open fireplace.  The roaring fire is perfect in this Wintry weather.  I can just imagine this house in its glory days when Henry VI and Oliver Cromwell came to stay.  The ghosts who reputedly roam the halls must have some stories to tell!  Hopefully I'll have some tales of my own to tell soon, about our long weekend!

I'm now going to go down to the grand kitchen for a family breakfast around the biggest table I've ever seen in a holiday home.  A fresh dusting of snow has made the 19 acres of woodland look very inviting...I'm looking forward to exploring!  My older children arrived safely last night and I can't wait to see them, when they wake up!  Maybe holidays aren't so bad after all!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Kizzy's Doodle

Kizzy aged 8 has been doodling inspired by Mummy's Little Monkey's doodling competition in association with Feel Good Drinks.  Here is her fruitilicious Feel Good doodle!

To my sixteen year old self.

It's 25 years ago.  I am sixteen.  I think I know what life is all about, I think I know who I am.  It's Christmas party season and I eagerly walk to the latest party venue with my friends.  We drink cider straight from a 2 litre bottle.  Someone adds a half bottle of vodka when the level allows it.  We giggle at how daring we are as we swig the amber liquid.  How grown up we feel. We have no rules.  We are free.  We are young and invincible.

Everyone is there.  Everyone is drinking.  Who is going to tell us not to?  My parents don't even now where I am.

Gatecrashers arrive.  I know these boys! How cool.  They are older than we are.  One of them is interested in me.  I'm young, I'm tall, I'm slim, I have long dark hair.  I'm drunk.  I feel sick. He sees his opportunity.  "Come out for some fresh air."  He feigns concern. I don't see his intentions.

Does he force me?  I don't know.  I'm confused.  I'm not steady on my feet and I'm easy to topple over to the ground.  I giggle nervously and try to stand.  I am pushed back down.  Hard. "Shhh" he says in a forceful way that strikes terror into me.  I say nothing.  I don't say "No", I  don't know how. I don't know what to do.  Is this happening?  My murmurings of protestation are hushed. No. I don't want this.  But he does. I'm helpless.  My mind is reeling but my body does not show any signs of resistance.  It shows no signs of consent either.  I'm passive.  Frozen. It's wrong.  I lie in the garden and see people's feet stepping around us. Please somebody stop this.  I want to go. I don't want to be here. Help me.  I don't know how to stop it.  He is rough but there is no violence.  There is no threat of violence.  But there is fear. Fear immobilises me.  My head spins.  I don't know what to do, so I do nothing.  I wait for it to be over.

He's done. He leaves.  I stumble to my feet.  Dishevelled.  Disorientated.  I puke.  I see the gatecrashers laughing.  I know they are laughing at me.  They joke.  "My turn next." Laughter.  I cry.  More laughter. Humiliation.  Pain.

My wonderful friend, the man who will later become my husband, helps me.  He puts me in a taxi.  He takes me to his house.  I sleep on his mum's sofa.  He sleeps in the armchair to make sure I am safe.  He stays with me.  He doesn't judge me.  He doesn't laugh.  He doesn't take advantage of my drunkeness, my naivity, my stupidity.

I go home in the morning.  I am covered in mud.  "Why are you so dirty?" my mum snaps.  "Because we lay on the grass, looking up at the stars, holding hands and singing Christmas Carols."  I made up this fantasy.  Not to get out of trouble.  I did it for myself.  That's the girl I want to be. But I am not.  I am changed.  I am affected.  But I don't tell anyone. Who would believe me?  Did I ask for it?  Was this my fault?

I am the girl without the tools I need to cope.  I am the girl who doesn't realise that her life is about to spiral out of control. 

But it's OK.  I survive.  I grow up.  I learn from my mistakes.  I understand about the tools we need in life.  I understand because I know I didn't have them.  I wish I could go back and teach sixteen year old me what I now know.  I wish I could give her the confidence, the self-esteem and the belief that she could be in charge of her own destiny.  I wish she had been aware of the pitfalls of being a teenager who believes there are no consequences.  There are always consequences. 

Years later I make sure my own children have the tools they need to be the best version of themselves that they can be.  They do.  I am proud.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Graco Symbio at the BBC Good Food Show

My last post is all about our day at the BBC Good Food Show.  Not only was it a great day out, but it also provided us with a unique opportunity to test our Graco Symbio.  A busy, crowded event with a toddler in tow can prove to be very difficult.  Thankfully, many of the features of the Symbio turned out to be a Godsend!

Firstly, the comfy, snuggly cosy toes helped lull Freddy off to sleep and he remained slumbering peacefully for a good hour after we arrived.  This gave Daddy a chance to sample the alcoholic beverage freebies on offer!

The basket underneath the pushchair was deceptively spacious.  We filled it with magazines, leaflets, a book, giveaways, some Christmas gifts we bought and our freebies.  I was surprised by how much we were able to place in the basket and nothing fell out or got squished!

When he first woke up, I think Fred would've felt quite intimidated by all the people crowding around at the show, milling around his pushchair.  A flip of the handle ensured he was looking at us when he awoke, so he felt safe and confident and happy.

On the courtesy bus, the compact size of the pushchair, coupled with manoeverability of the swivel wheels at the front, allowed us to get Fred onboard and positioned with minimum fuss.  He sat happily and safely while we made our way back to the carpark.

Facing out to watch the world go by, snuggled up against the chilly weather, we returned back to the car after a successful day out assisted by the unique design of the Symbio.

The BBC Good Food Show

I was lucky enough to win tickets to this year's BBC Good Food Show thanks to Jo, in a giveaway at her fabulous blog Given to Distracting Others.  So, today my husband and I along with Freddy set off to the Birmingham NEC for the first day of the show.

We arrived, and after parking, caught the courtesy bus to the entrance of the show halls.  Thankfully Freddy was fast asleep in his buggy giving us an opportunity to wander around the stalls.  My husband Ian was particularly impressed with the area hosting the alcoholic drinks!  He happily wandered around sampling liquers whisky, cider, wine and Crabbies Ginger Beer.  I had to rein him in a little reminding him that it was 10.30am and if he continued to "sample" the freebies he would be out cold by lunchtime!!


When I managed to encourage him to leave the copious amounts of free alcohol behind, we meandered around stands giving away crisps, cakes, bread, cheese, soups and ice cream!  It made for an interesting snorgersboard of tastes and textures.  As a vegetarian, we by-passed the hog roasts, pates and butchers.  One pork seller eagerly offered us the chance to taste his sausages, but I politely declined explaining that we were veggies.  "But our pigs are all vegetarians!" he replied.  I told him I'd happily eat with his pigs, but I wouldn't be eating them myself!  

As a keen comper, I enjoyed the huge amount of competitions on offer.  I scribbled my details down on leaflets galore....fingers crossed. maybe I'll get lucky!  I also loved picking up freebies...jelly beans, toastie bags, magazines, money off vouchers and canvas shopping bags.  Ian picked up a Marco Pierre White headscarf from a pile on one stand, but in hindsight I don't think it was actually a freebie...oops!  I have visions of Chef Marco searching for his missing headwear.


We stopped by to watch the Masterchef Experience hosted by Andy Peters (whose arms were hugely buff).  We saw some Masterchef contestants and also saw James Martin at a book signing.  I also recognised a lady chef from This Morning.  We didn't go into the main theatre because by now Freddy was awake and ready to sample some of the offerings himself.

Easi-Yo Yogurts

Hand baked crisps

Gluten free snacks

Freddy's favourite snack was the Jazz Apple which was a cross between a Royal Gala and a Braeburn apple and very tasty.  He also loved the Tilda Rice that he devoured using a little plastic fork.  He loved the samples and made a lot of friends on the stands who were eager to give him little pieces of cake, bread and pretzels! 

My find of the day was an amazing Ginger Cordial by Belvoir ,which is going to be a perfect alcohol-free Christmas tipple for me!  So I was well pleased.

The Gallery...Black and White

This week's Gallery at Sticky Fingers is on the theme of Black and White.  My entry is a photograph I took in May this year for my 13th Wedding Anniversary.  My husband presented me with a platinum eternity ring.  The seven diamonds represent each member of our family, Ian, myself and our five gorgeous children.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

A Big Sister's Perspective on the Graco Symbio

The Graco Symbio Put Through Its Paces By Freddy's Big Sister

Graco, Symbio, big sister

There would be no point in having a pushchair that did not get the seal of approval from 8 year old Kizzy!  She is my canny, discerning daughter who likes to have a hand in all household purchasing decisions!  She has a very mature head on her shoulders and likes to be involved and have her say.  She is also a fantastic big sister, who cares deeply about her little brother's comfort, welfare and happiness.  So today we put the Graco Symbio through its paces to see if Kizzy approved of her brother's new mode of transport. 

She wanted to push him and decided on the outward facing position so Fred could watch the world go by, pointing at cars, cats and other children!  I was very impressed at how well the Symbio handled.  With the wheels in full swivel mode she had no trouble manoevuring around the pavements.  Consequently Fred had a nice, smooth ride.  Kizzy broke into a run at one point to see how well the Symbio coped at speed.  They worked up quite a head of steam which Fred thought was very funny!  Kizzy said that because the Symbio was so light, it felt like she was just running along and not pushing the pushchair at all!  So if I'm ever in a hurry or have a bus to catch I know that it will not pose a problem (although if you've ever seen me trying to run, you'll realise that the pushchair is the least of my worries in that particular scenario!) You can check out her speed test using the link below...

The Symbio Speed Test

Kizzy loved the cosy toes!  It is very soft and fleecy on the inside, an absolute necessity in this cold weather.  Kizzy was happy to know that her baby brother was warm and snuggly!  It met with her stringent approval.  The colour is a real positive feature.  Black and red is a fabulous colour scheme, reminiscent of race cars with go faster stripes.  Kizzy liked that the pushchair and the cosy toes matched and that the cosy toes looked like an integral part of the pushchair and not an after thought.

The reversible handle mechanism was another feature that Kizzy liked.  She was easily able to hold down the button and pull the handle across to change the Symbio from frontward to rearward facing.  It really is incredibly simple to do.  She saw how useful it would be to change the orientation of the pushchair if Freddy was tired or sad. The caring, big sister side of her was pleased by this feature!

So, overall, Kizzy approved of the Graco Symbio and is looking forward to putting it through further paces, all the while keeping her discerning big sister's eye on the proceedings!

Monday, 22 November 2010

When the Graco Symbio pictures!

Freddy got stuck in when his Graco Symbio arrived this morning!  Daddy was away in Leeds so Freddy had to help me build his new wheels.  What a good little helper he was!

graco, symbio
Oooh...big box!!

What's inside???

Red and sporty...looking good!

Just get this plastic off!

Read the instructions!

I like the look of the seat...comfy and soft!

Nice metal chassis..looks cool!

Just need to put the two together!

The finished pushchair...I'm going to like my new wheels!!

Winning Photos Gallery!!!

As I am feeling terribly saddened by my inability to upload my pics from my memory card to my laptop, I thought I'd share some of my family's recent successful photography! 

This was actually my husband's photo that he took the day after we bought Fred's first pair of Clark's shoes.  He had waited so long to sit 'Father and Son' shoes together on the door mat.  This won a £50 Clark's voucher!

I dresssed my 77 year old mum up as Ozzy Osbourne for a Chicago Town popstar lookalike photo competition.  She was such a sport and totally up for the challenge! She won an i-pod!

My lovely husband had far too much fun doing this photo for the Sky TV Dexter Mug Shot competition.  His blood spattered bio-hazard suit won him series 1-3 of Dexter.

You wouldn't believe that he was a real softie by looking at this picture...he looks really mean and scary!  Glad I know better!!

I'm not the world's best photographer by any stretch of the imagination.  But I do enjoy taking photos and I hope I soon learn what all the buttons and settings mean! My Lumix G2 is really complicated and I know I'm only using it to a fraction of its potential...but I'll persevere and hopefully will have more mad family pics to share soon!!


Graco Symbio Challenge No.1 Completed

Constructing My Graco Symbio!

Well, I am quite pleased with myself...even possibly a little smug!  I have before me a brand, spanking new Graco Symbio Pushchair...put together with my own fair hands! 

Now, I have to be honest, it really wasn't difficult.  Has my husband been exaggerating the difficulty factor of pushchair building for the last 22 years just to impress me???  Or have Graco designed their Symbio to be user friendly from the moment it arrives?

The construction was very intuitive with the parts simply clicking into place.  It went together easily and feels sturdy.  I sat Freddy in it and he was quite comfortable and I think I've built it correctly!

I had a little play with the reversible handle and it was such a simple process to switch from rearwards to forwards facing...there'll be more on that fabulous feature in later posts!

I really like the look of the Symbio.  It's not like any travel system I have had before.  It has big chunky, swivelling wheels and a really modern looking metal frame.  The seat is reminiscent of a car seat and is very soft and comfy.  The straps are secure and easy to do up and undo...not at all fiddly which is a plus with a wriggly toddler.  The raincover fits on with poppers and a zip...I love that idea.  Quick and easy!

Everything seems to have been thought out to make the Symbio user friendly.  My first impressions are very positive.  I look forward to looking at the features in more detail when I put it to the test.

I am now raring to go...just need to figure out how to fold it up to fit in the boot of the car and the world's our oyster!!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Silent Sunday- Funny Face

One picture, posted on a Sunday, with no words!

Keeping Toddlers Safe With A Baby Dan Safety Starter Set

Toddler Safety in The Home

Life with a toddler has many challenges!  Things we took for granted before, suddenly become fraught with peril.  Curious little people with inquisitive minds and a determination to seek out all things dangerous, hone in on everything we'd rather they didn't touch.  Little fingers poke, pull and push and seek out anything they can get hold of.  Nothing is safe, nothing is sacred!  This is the time when we, as parents, need to take precautions to protect our precious bundles with regards to safety in the home.  Toddler proofing your house is quite a minefield which is why a company like Simple Safety Solutions is invaluable.  They say:

"We are passionate about providing quality child safety products as we believe that all children have the right to live, learn and play in a safe environment. All our child safety products provide simple solutions to the every day concerns you may have about your children's safety. We aim to provide the biggest and best selection of child and baby safety products so that you have one less thing to worry about."

My son is now 16 months old and he is eager to explore every square inch of his environment! Some days we have quite a battle to keep him out of drawers and cupboards.  He may have a toybox filled with bright, colourful safe toys, but the contents of my kitchen cupboard is far more enticing.  So when I was offered the chance to try out the Baby Dan Safety Starter Set by Joanna at Simple Safety I was very keen to give it a go!!

This set consists of 21 pieces, with the basics needed to baby proof your home.  The first item we used was the Fingersafe that fitted to the top of the door to stop it from slamming shut on little fingers.  One of my nieces actually had her fingertip removed in a door related accident, so this is something I am very aware of.  The device was discrete, easy to fit and did the job perfectly. 10/10 for its simplicity and effectiveness!

The Socket Plugs were quite different to the ones I had used in the past.  They sit flush in the electrical socket, preventing children from inserting anything into the power supply.  A unique twist and pull removal system means that they can not be removed by a child.  Previous designs I have seen had small integral handles and I had witnessed Freddy and his 2 year old cousin pulling them was an intriguing game for them!  The Baby Dan covers need to have a second one locked on to the three corresponding holes on its face to remove it from the socket.  No toddler has managed to remove one yet! Quite ingenius!

The corner protectors sit on the sharp corners of tables or work surfaces and stop nasty knocks on baby's heads.  They did exactly what they said on the packet! They were easy to put on with adhesive pads and did the job!

The drawer/cupboard locks were slightly fiddly to fix as they screw directly into the drawer or cupboard front and sides, but once fitted were very secure.  The opening mechanism was very effective, you just reach in and flick the catch to open the drawer. My son has done battle with them and has not managed to gain access.  So I am impressed with their effectiveness! 

The on/off lock is easily installed with the double sided sticky pads onto the fridge door.  It seems sturdy and strong which impressed me.  The catch attaches to the locking mechanism which slides up and down to secure or release it.  This simple switch allows the door to be opened or locked shut.  I was surprised that it worked so well to be honest and is our favourite safety device in the set. Again it has not been defeated by Freddy!  Thumbs up!

As this picture shows Freddy is intrigued with the contents of my plate cupboard and is regularly removed before he uses my plates as frisbees.  This is obviously a problem that needs to be overcome!!

safety, toddlers, babies, home safety

Baby Dan's solution to this problem is the Cabinet Lock.  It consists of a plastic clamp-like device that fits around the two handles and is then tightened to prevent access.  I don't know if possibly my cupboard door handles are further apart than the norm, but the fit was quite loose meaning that Freddy could pull back on the doors creating a gap between them into which he could have inserted and trapped his hand.  Also the ratchet mechanism was quite difficult to use and was also sharp on little fingers. Using the screw-in door/cupboard locks has proven to be more effective and much more practical.  This is the only piece of the safety set that we are not using, as it didn't seem to be effective enough on our double fronted cupboard.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Christmas Ponderings!

I can't believe how quickly Christmas has come around.  It seems like only yesterday that my 8 year old Kizzy started her new Junior School.  I was so worried about that decision, taking her out of a small, village primary school and sending her to much larger primary school in town.  However, she settled in really well and loves the more structured approach to the lessons, and enjoys the resources available in a bigger school.  So my feelings of guilt were assuaged!

So now, Kizzy is busy rehearsing her Christmas play..."Primary School Christmas Musical"...which makes me realise just how speedily the festive season is hurtling towards us!

At Christmas, I like to have an angle, a theme, a hook if you were, upon which to form my festivities around.  We had the "Caring, Sharing Christmas" with charity presents...I received a chicken toy to represent a real live chicken that was sent to a third world family on my behalf.  I hope it laid many eggs for them!  We had the "Pagan Yule" where we made pentagrams out of twigs and a real Yule log.  We hung dried fruits on the tree and reconnected with Mother Earth.  We had the "Tight Christmas" where we spent minimal money and had the economy frozen Vegetarian Christmas Dinner.  We've done the "Centre Parcs Stay Away for Christmas" staying in a lodge in the woodland and swimming in the outside pool on Christmas Day.  That was actually amazing.  The steam off the warm water as it met the frigid air, made for a unique swimming experience.  It reminded me of those Japanese Snow Monkeys who laze around in the warm pools as the snow falls around them!

Picture sourced via Google Images.

So this year, I'm trying to get a direction for my planning.  I know it will be hugely fun this year, Freddy will be of an age where he'll be into everything.  I'm sure the tree will be pulled down several times and baubles will be used as footballs or projectiles.  Wrapping paper will be strewn all around and the tins of choccies will be raided!  I'll be finding half sucked Celebration sweeties stuck to the sofa for weeks. He is going to love it though, that's for sure.  We haven't had a toddler in the house for a good few years now, so seeing Fred in a little Santa suit causing mischief will be wonderful!

My eldest daughter Megan will be spending some quality time at home us this year.   Now she is a free agent, she doesn't need to share her free time from university with anyone else.  I'm looking forward to having her all to ourselves again!  She loves coming home and is a real foodie! She loves good homemade veggie fayre and so perhaps this can be the year of the gastronomical Christmas!

Usually, I have my eldest son Joe home...although he does eat vegetarian food, you just know he is craving a juicy steak!  This makes cooking for him quite galling!  He doesn't like fancy food at it vegetarian or carnivorous, so for the last few years, I've had to make a second dinner especially for him.  He does, however,  love Quorn Roast, and will consume a whole one singlehandedly. So I have to juggle cooking for him with trying to make something for the rest of us, usually a simple nut roast or a chestnut pie.  However, this year, he's spending Christmas with his girlfriend's family.  He'll get to do the whole traditional roast turkey thing for the first time in years, so I know he'll be happy.  And I'll be free to concentrate on cooking a sensationally complicated Vegetarian Feast without worrying about catering for fussy eaters!  Mmmm...I think this may definitely be the direction to go.  A Festive Foodie Fiesta!!!  So, it's time to dig out the recipe books and get googling some new adventurous veggie dishes to inspire and excite me and give the family a delicious dinner!

ShowOff Showcase

Friday, 19 November 2010

Before and After...The Gallery

This week's theme was to recreate an old photograph.  I immediately thought of a pair of photos I already had in my collection which would fit the theme perfectly.  In July 2009, I gave birth to my little boy Freddy.  Introducing him to his Grandad was a very emotional experience.  He'd cradle his newborn grandson in his arms and look down with a mixture of love and pride as he studied the as yet unknown face, taking in every feature.  This year in June 2010, my sister gave birth to her baby boy Dylan.  Again Grandad looked at the latest fruit from his family tree in the exact same way.  See for yourself...


Wednesday, 17 November 2010

I'm not a New Age mother...I'm just me!

Today, I discovered a new blog Naturally Mummy.  It resonated with me.  It made me feel like I am not alone in the world!  Although Freddy is my fifth baby, and my experience with my other children has confirmed to me that my parenting techniques clearly do work, I still have a mild dose of embarrassment at how I choose to raise my babies. I tend not to talk about my ways to other mums because I know I'll be judged as some New Age ideologist.  This is ridiculous because my older children are all confident, successful, independent, well rounded, open, loving people. I have exteremely good relationships with them all and always have done. I did a good can't be a total fluke, unrelated to their upbringing.  But singing my own praises is something that does not come easy to me. Even now, aged 41, I have a deep set insecurity that causes me to question everything I do, even when faced with the evidence, I find it hard to take credit for all that is good in my life. 

We are bombarded with childcare advice through the media.  How to lie your baby down to sleep, when to wean, what to feed them.  This imformation has constantly changed in the last 22 years.  When Joe was born we were told to lie them on their tummies at night and wean at 3 months.  Now it's "back to bed" and solids at 6 months.  Needless to say, in another 20 years time it'll all be different again.  Motherhood is not a science.  It is instinctive, organic and everchanging. 

My own personal view of mothering is that the baby is a little human animal.  They aren't privvy to the latest W.H.O. guidelines. All they have is their needs.  As a mum, I want to meet these needs in the most natural way possible.  With Freddy, I have breastfed on demand since birth.  He's never had to cry for a feed.  He's never known hunger.  He knows what he wants and I provide it.  Obviously since discovering the joys of solid food and diluted fruit juice, his need for his milk has lessened but is still a big part of his diet and his comfort.  At 15 months old, a lot of people think I should stop feeding him altogether, but I'm not in any rush.  The alternative, cow's milk, seems like an unnecessary step at this time.  I can provide perfect milk for him...and it's completely free!  No need to stop yet...maybe after I've seen him through Winter.  With all the germs that do the rounds, breast milk offers a degree of immunity and really does have magic properties if baby has a cold or a sickness bug!

In the same vein, I'm not a believer of babies needing to cry themselves to sleep.  Using the little animal analogy, a crying infant would attract prey to the nest.  The baby would lie close to its mother, safe in her proximity and with access to the life-giving breastmilk.  OK, I know the wolves won't come if I leave Fred to cry...but why does he need to cry at all. I don't want him to feel afraid, alone or unloved for even a second.  I know that is really emotive, and that babies forget in an instant, but for me personally, I just can't do it.  I don't have to do it and I'm fully prepared to sacrifice my "me time" for the next three years to satisfy my methods!  Luckily I have a husband who feels the same way.  He has named this technique and calls himself an "N.C" Advocate (i.e. No Crying).  We have co-slept with him since birth to no ill effect.  He has his own sleeping area...a three sided cot against my side of the king sized bed.  He is free to wriggle across to me for warmth, comfort or a feed and the disturbance to me and my husband is minimal.  He wakes up happy.  We know that this time next year he will be in his own bedroom, enticed by the lure of his own sports car bed.  It's not for ever...just for now.

 I guess our methods could be akin to the Attachment Parenting movement.  The portrayal of this on the TV recently showed the parents in quite a poor light.  They were almost mocked by the editing and shown to be weird New Age types.  The families portrayed were quite extreme and militant.  It's a shame therefore that most people would assume that someone who is raising their child in the Attachment method would breastfeed until the child is 8 years old or would let their newborn go nappy-less as a pro Elimination Communication fan.  We don't subscribe to these extremes.  We are two very normal parents doing what we personally think is best.  I've never really conformed to the norm and like to do my own thing, this is no different.  I'd never tell anyone else to raise their child like this.  It is hard, time consuming, intense, limiting and emotionally draining at times.  But I am dedicated to this approach and it is only for such a short time.  None of my babies raised this way have turned into clingy children.  They are very confident and self-assured.  They are independent and happy to put themselves to bed without any fuss.  Sometimes I do still feel guilty that I'm not more conventional...but this is when my husband simply says "You just have to look at our kids to know we're doing the right thing!"  and I know exactly what he means.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Got a Graco Symbio...not afraid to use it!!

I've been fortunate enough to have been picked by Graco in their competition to win the chance to review their fabulous new award winning pushchair the Symbio!  Over the next couple of months I'll be putting the Symbio through its paces with help from my one year old son,  Freddy!  We've got lots of ideas up our sleeves we'll be blogging, tweeting, videoing and Facebooking about our adventures!

I hope everyone will get behind us and share in our fun and games as we see how the Symbio copes with life Inside the Wendy House!!!

Fred's ready for action!

My Tip for a Frugal New Year!

I have recently been lucky enough to win £100 of Argos vouchers in a competition by submitting a tip that would help you cope with the onslaught of January's bills. I am quite proud of my idea, so I thought I'd share it on my blog....

"To tighten my belt in January, I have my annual "food audit"! My family laugh...but I go through the cupboards and freezer and plan menus around what we've got lurking there! It means nothing gets wasted, we only have to buy perishables for a few weeks which cuts our shopping costs and the kitchen gets a good sort out!! We also discover a few new ideas for dinners as we have to get creative and google new recipes to use up all the rogue tins and packets bought then ignored over the previous year!!!"

Time to get creative in the kitchen!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Montagne Jeunesse Tottles Face Masques Review

Pampering With Montagne Jeunesse Tottles

Montagne Jeunesse have recently launched a new range of "Tottles"!  What is a "Tottle"? I hear you cry...well think of a cross between a tube and a bottle and you have it!  The tottles give ten applications of Montagne Jeunesse's luxurious face masque which means you can enjoy indulgent facials over and over again.  Alternatively, there is enough for you to get the girls round for a fabulously perfect pamper party!
The company's ethos is as perfect as their products.  Their products are lovingly made with only the purest, most natural ingredients, which are responsibly and ethically sourced.  As a vegetarian myself, the fact that all Montagne Jeunesse's products are approved by The Vegetarian Society is very reassuring.  They are also Cruelty Free and approved by BUAV with a strong committment to animal welfare.  They say:

"Montagne Jeunesse are vegetarian and animals are their friends - that's why they don't bash bunnies ar add bits of animals."

I have been fortunate enough to have been sent one of each of the four new fresh and delicious formulations to try for myself.  I have used the masques before, but had found that the sachets were quite messy and some of the product would go to waste, so the tottle was a perfect solution to this problem.  Just squeeze out the amount you need for one application then mess. no waste!  You just have to smooth the sumptuous masque onto the skin, leave for 15-20 minutes while you lie back and relax, and then rinse thoroughly. 


"Revitalising and rejuvenating, this exotic mix of fruits will give your skin an energy injection. Red Grape, Noni Fruit and juicy Mango work to revitalise and cleanse pores, lifting away impurities and dead skin cells, revealing a more glowing and radiant you."

The fresh fruity fragrance smelt very enticing and I've always enjoyed the feeling of peeling the masque off!  My skin felt really revitalised.


"Get cosy and comfy with this irresistibly spicy warming masque that heats up and opens pores, ridding skin of any nasties in an instant. A gorgeous and exotic blend of Cinnamon, which brightens and tightens, and uplifting Ginger, will leave your skin radiant and deep-pores cleansed."

I loved this.  It smelt like Christmas!  My skin went very warm and I could just imagine all the impurities being removed from my skin.  This would make the perfect, pampering facial for winter.


"Renowned for its cleansing and super hydrating properties, delicate Damask Rose is infused with Africa’s miracle Marula oil to rid of anti-oxidants and seriously moisturise. Then the Shea Butter and Cocoa Butter join forces to soften and smooth for enviable silky skin. The lovely fresh floral fragrance is a damask delight."

This masque felt very moisturising and my skin felt soft and smooth after using it.  The rose scented floral fragrance is not one of my personal favourites, but my mum loved it.


"Indulge in divine, dark chocolately orange bliss where moisturising Cocoa and Shea Butters combine with sweet Orange Oil, to deeply cleanse and nourish. Did you know that orange is jammed packed full of anti-oxidants which help protect skin from free radicals that bring on the signs of ageing? This ultra rich wonder masque smells like heaven on earth and is not to be missed when it comes to spoiling your skin."

This masque had a note on the back telling you not to eat it, and with good reason!  It smelt like a Terry's Chocolate Orange and the temptation to pop some on my tongue was strong!  It was rich and gorgeous and I felt thoroughly indulged, lying down, relaxing, surrounded by the delicious smell of chocolate...utterly heavenly and calorie free!

Total Chocolate Bliss

I really enjoyed putting the Montagne Jeunesse Tottles through their paces!  They are a fun, fresh, new product designed to make using the masques even easier with less waste and mess.  With the New Year approaching, it's high time for a new skincare routine and with Tottles you can discover the secret to a beautifully soft, flawless complexion!

The New Montagne Jeunesse Tottles are available from priced at £4.99 each.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Seasons : Winter's First Snow

I've just discovered The Gallery and have enjoyed looking at some wonderful photographs within some lovely blogs.  Fabulous pictures capture the weekly theme and are shared and enjoyed...and I'd love to be a part of it!

Winter:  There is nothing more magical than the first flurries of winter snow.  The children grab their hats, scarves and gloves and hurry out into the garden eager to make footprints in the unblemished blanket that covers the ground.  Snowball fights and snowman construction ensues.  The top picture shows my three girls sitting on their giant snowball that they'd rolled round and around gathering snow making it bigger and bigger!  Very quickly the novelty wears off though and freezing fingers and numb toes make the lure of the warm house very attractive.  We pull off wellies and peel off frosty, wet socks. Scarves and hats and gloves hang over radiators dripping onto the floor.  Hands are warmed on mugs of delicious hot chocolate.  We all snuggle up under our slankets, rosy cheeks aglow!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...