Monday, September 30, 2013

Little Learners Sleepy Puppy Pack - Book Review

The Little Learners Sleepy Puppy Pack arrived at our house this morning. Whilst I was a little disappointed as I felt it was too young for him, BB was excited to see the box and to explore it's contents.


The little board book and puppy comforter comes in a nice box making it an ideal gift. As with all the books we have received since becoming Parragon Book Buddies, this is great quality and a nice a little tale. The book features the sleepy puppy that makes up the comforter so it's ideal for bedtime reading.

Although the description states that this is ideal for babies and toddlers, and BB clearly loves it, I don't think it will hold his attention for long, and I personally wouldn't be buying this for a toddler. As a gift for a new baby though it is perfect and will have a couple of years of good use ahead of it. 


The puppy comforter is machine washable.

Disclaimer: We received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of this review, however the opinions are entirely our own

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wonderful Wildlife 1 2 3 - Book Review

One of the current favourites on BB's bookshelf is beautifully illustrated book called Wonderful Wildlife 1 2 3, by Charles Fuge.


BB has been 'counting', in his own way, for a while. Even before he could talk he would make the sound of counting. Now he knows numbers, but not the order that they go in. If you ask him to cound he will give you a string of numbers though. He understands the concept of two, but no other numbers - though he is beginning to get it. For example, when he has food like grapes or raisins these days, I always ask him how many he wants. At first he would say two, then he quickly learned that five got him more - and very soon after that he began to use the word lots instead. Smart move BB, but let's try and move your concept of numbers on a bit shall we!

This book ticks all the boxes as far as I am concerned. The text is kept simple, and flows with beautiful rhyme and rhythm, while telling a tale and introducing numbers. The book goes beyond ten, which is quite refreshing, all the way to twenty! The illustrations, also by Charles Fuge, are attractive and full of character. BB loves it too, and I think it has potential to be a favourite for a while.

Disclaimer: We received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of this review, however the opinions are entirely our own

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Choosing a new winter coat

My online selling has been going well. I'm on a mission to not buy anything new until I have sold enough of my old stuff to pay for it. I've sold a few high value items like my old juicer (retired as I now know I want to eat the pulp too), and a Shakuhachi flute, bought with good intentions a few years ago but never played. So far I have raised enough to buy a new super duper blender that will make me whole fruit and veggie juices and soups. I just ordered it this morning and can't wait.

I have now started selling clothes. My maternity clothes to be precise. Several of them have bids on already, including my long wool coat, so I am now looking for a new winter coat.

I want one that suits lots of situations. Something warm, that looks reasonably smart, but which is also practical. Let's face it, it will spend a lot of time in the park, pushing one small child on a swing. A hood is always handy, the winds around here can come straight from the North Sea and are bitter. Zips are important for the same reason. I can also get quite hot walking with the buggy, so maybe something with some optional vents, or that unzips part way easily and comfortably would suit me. Machine washable is obviously an essential too - I will be picking up a child with muddy shoes and a snotty times more times than you can count.

I have just found these great Parkas. I so wanted a Parka as a kid, everyone else had one, but I never did. Now's my chance. I am liking the navy coat with fur trim. What do you think? I think it might be ticking all my boxes.

Squashed Dollops

This post has moved to

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dressing for Winter

The weather here has turned. Last Monday it was still quite warm, on Tuesday it was so cold our central heating came on. Suddenly it was time to take the sunscreen and hat out of BB's nursery bag and replace it with a wooly jumper and a rain coat. I sent him off to nursery on Wednesday with quite a a mish-mash of clothing, and so we spent part of the weekend sorting through both our clothes and checking what fits.

BB is pretty well set up, mostly due to the generous amount of hand me downs we have been given by friends. He is slightly lacking long sleeved T-shirts, but it dawned on me that he can wear some of his lovely short sleeved ones that will likely be too small next summer, along with a jumper or cardigan.

My wardrobe, on the other hand, is not looking so great. You may remember that back in June one of my decisions inspired by BritMums Live  was to wear dresses again. Dresses are awesome as they are easy and comfortable to wear, you don't have to match two separate items, and you generally look quite well presented when you have one on. I did go out and buy two new dresses for summer - both the same style actually as I bought one and loved it so much I bought another in a different fabric. Two dresses was all I needed - one to wear and one in the wash. The ones I bought were quite pricey, but well worth it for the cut and quality. Several people commented on them too, so I know made good choices.

I am thinking I am going to do the same for winter. Two nice dresses should see me through. I plan to buy them before my birthday at the beginning of November and I hope to have lost a little more weight by then. Since cutting out wheat I have lost 8kg and am still very steadily losing. I am planning to do the Whole30 again in October so that should help to shift a little more.  I am going for quality again, and plan to use the money raised from selling all my maternity and oversized clothes to fund my extravagance. It will part of my 'therapy".

So one of the things I plan to occupy myself with over the coming weeks is the hunt for the perfect dress. I have started my search online, and the winner so far is this one.

What do you think?

I am absolutely in love with the pattern, and I think the cut could be very flattering. I do think I need to be a little less wobbly for it to look good, but there's a bit of motivation to exercise and eat properly over the next few weeks.

I know it has short sleeves, but my brainwave with BB wearing short sleeves in winter made me think it might be a good idea. I'll need to think about tights and a jacket or cardigan if I go with this, but being short sleeved it could work for next summer too. That's a good idea, right? More value for money. Or am I just trying to talk myself into it?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Update on "The Last Attempt" at TTC

The last attempt has been an emotional one, to say the least.  I thought I was ready for it. In fact I thought I had already accepted it, but apparently not.

I started testing at 8dpo in the same headless chook fashion as always. I gave up at 11 dpo as I tested +ve on that day with both BB and the baby I miscarried so I thought that if it was possible that I am pregnant I would know by now...

But then the nausea set in.

How cruel is that?

Nausea and BFN all at once!

I thought I was ready for this outcome, but on Wednesday night, as I took BB upstairs for a bath and we were playing a silly, kissing feet game, I burst into tears. I had period pains, and for an expicit moment knew that this was the only time I ever had to experience kissing the toes of my 2 year old as they ascended the stairs. We met up with a friend on Thursday that we know form antenatal classes. Her little one was due on the same day as BB, but arrived 2 days later. She is now 17 weeks pregnant with No 2. One of her first questions to me was about "How it's going, TTC No 2? "  I found myself blubbing in public immediately not that I w=am sad that she asked, I am pleased she did - no one else dare!

But, it's all gone! It's over. TTC, as hard as it is, is no more! I can't help but think that this would be so much easier if I were in a conventional relationship and it could happen "by accident" at a later date, after we have "given up"- but I don't even have that to console me.

Having said all that, in some ways I am not sad. I don't have to be pregnant, or give birth - both of which are a bit of a relief. I don't have to worry about putting my aged body through such traumas, or about how it is going to affect BB when I am incapacitated by my bulk. It was great at the soft play centre on Thursday to be able to play with my child, rather than sit in a pregnant heap - in fact I got quite a work out! We had fun!

There were sad moments too though. For a brief time at the weekend we were carers for his friend L while her mummy went to a party with her big brother. L's car seat was installed in the back of our car and she came for a ride. BB loved her being there and when we dropped her back at her house he was sad, and all the way home was calling to get her back. He would love a sibling, there is no doubt about that. Most of my sadness comes from the fact that I cant give him that.

We are now 13 dpo and still BFN. It's not going to happen. I have spent the evening sorting out maternity clothes to sell online along with all the other stuff I am selling at the moment. I think having a good clear out is an essential part of moving on.

I have no doubt that I am done with getting pregnant, but the baby things can wait a while. Fostering or adopting is still on the cards -I don't think I'm done with motherhood yet, even if it is going to be harder to achieve than I anticipated.

I keep imagining a girl, who is older than BB, being a part of our family. It would be great if we could adopt or foster someone in need of a home and family, and I know I have the skills to work with young girls with troubled family situations...

...but most fostering and adoption agencies don't like that scenario - they like you have a child younger than your own, for a reason I am not quite convinced by.

There are advantages to having just one child by his self too, I can see that, but I just can't see it in our future.

We will see what occurs...

Monday, September 9, 2013

Teaching children how to cook and eat healthily

Guest post by Aimee Claire

With the problem of childhood obesity steadily increasing it is perhaps more important than ever to introduce new tastes and textures from an early age, ensuring that a healthy diet becomes the ‘norm’ in a child’s life from the beginning.

The benefits of introducing a healthy diet from a young age are far-reaching; it can help to improve a child’s concentration span, thus helping with learning, as well as generally helping the child to thrive. A good diet can also influence a child’s resistance to certain infections and illnesses, and can eliminate, or vastly reduce, the risk of certain diseases in adult life.

Promoting healthy eating during childhood

We all need a balanced diet, incorporating each of the food groups; as they say, a little bit of everything in moderation is good. Diets rich in fruit, vegetables, and essential nutrients ensure that our bodies work properly and develop in the right way, as well as helping our brains to function to their maximum potential.

The introduction of a child to a healthy lifestyle creates numerous opportunities for learning; for example, children can assist with shopping, unpacking, and setting the table, learning all about foods, colours, shapes and numbers as they develop their fine motor skills. Trying new foods can also be a great window to new cultures; the possibilities are endless.

The best way to promote a healthy diet and lifestyle is to get children fully involved, allowing them to experience new foods with you; they will be excited to get in on the action, making them much more receptive to any hidden lessons. From creating a list and shopping, to preparation, cooking and, finally, eating; it is important to incorporate each element of planning a healthy diet into a child’s routine, encouraging them to ask questions, voice opinions or formulate their own ideas.

It is important to steer clear of using food as a reward or punishment, methods of discipline that could otherwise deplete a child’s appreciation for food. It is also a good idea to start small; the preparation of smaller dishes is a great building block, establishing certain routines from the early stages of weaning.

Accommodating children in the kitchen

The most important thing that children need when helping in the kitchen is space – and lots of it!  Before starting to cook it is worth trying to clear a surface large enough for children to spread themselves out, tidying away dangerous objects so they can get stuck in. Child-friendly light switches, cupboard tidies, designated shelves and cupboards, magnetic boards for ingredients, and easy clean surfaces are all great ideas; they allow a child to feel truly involved and eliminate any worry. It is also important to ensure that a child can reach work surfaces.  It may be necessary to consider lowering worktops or providing a sturdy stool.

Although children will enjoy mixing foods, measuring and (perhaps best of all) making a mess, it is a good idea to make a plan before starting to cook. This allows for prior preparation of ingredients, surfaces and equipment, and makes sure that children learn about following recipes and being responsible in the kitchen.

Once the cooking and tidying are done, there is only one thing left to do – eat!  Accommodate the whole family around an extending dining table, sharing the fruits of your labours, while making mealtimes a real social occasion. This serves to bring the family together at mealtimes, establishing healthy relationships with food, and encouraging children to try something different next time. There is nothing quite like eating a meal that you have freshly prepared together!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Reducing our food waste

Since we lost the chickens I have really started to notice how much food goes to waste in our house. There are all the peelings to start with, and then the food that BB drops on the floor or leaves on his plate. Even I leave food on my plate at times! Then there's the stuff in the freezer that says to use within one month (some of it dates from May), the over ripe fruit in the fruit bowl and the slightly rotting salad items in the fridge.
I suppose we didn't bother so much when we had the chickens - it didn't seem like waste when they ate it and made us eggs, it was more like a treat for them - some slightly out of date lettuce. Even now when we prepare the veg or if he has had enough dinner, BB says "Chickens like it!" which is usually followed by "more chickens". I still haven't fully decided on the chickens, but either way I want to do something about our food waste, to save us money as much as anything, but also because it saddens me for many reasons every time we throw something away. Since going paleo I have found we need a lot less space for food. I don't need jars of pasta or rice, packets of noodles and lentils, or a collection of flours - that's pretty much emptied one cupboard. I also have a small chest freezer that used to contain cooked and portioned legumes, emergency pizza and loaves of my favourite oatmeal batch. That freezer is pretty much empty now, and just a waste of electricity so think I will sell it within the next few weeks (I'm just holding off in case I do get pregnant - I survived the first few weeks of BB's life on the freezer stock of meals prepared before he was born)

We have been on a tight budget for a few weeks as we recover from a big bill for repairs to my car, so where possible we have survived on what we already have in the house, just topping up with fresh food items as we need them. BB is quite a berry addict at the moment, and this habit sees us going to the market or supermarket every few days for fresh supplies anyway, so I haven't actually done a big shop since July.

Our cupboards and freezer are getting empty now, and this is weird for me. I guess I have always been a bit of a food hoarder, perhaps as a result of growing up on a farm where the freezer was always full of produce and getting to town once a week or so always meant for a well stocked pantry. As I get used to it though, I am enjoying our new streamlined food store. I am thinking I might finally get into this menu planning thing and shop for fresh food every two or three days. Food that we are actually going to eat!

Today I heard via BritMums that it is Zero Waste Week here in the UK. You can sign up on line and pledge to reduce your food waste - this seemed like a great idea for us right now. The things you can pledge to do are listed below - I think I can do most of them - this post is me doing my bit to "Spread the word".

Why not join in yourself

A family weekend in Ireland

Guest post by Aimee Claire

Ireland is a fantastic place to visit with small children, as outside the cities it’s just the right size itself.  That is to say, everything is focussed around small towns and villages that children can enjoy without becoming too weary of the hustle and bustle of large urban centres.  There are endless places to explore that will capture kids’ imagination.  Though it may not be the warmest (or driest) of countries, there are some great beaches, and there are lots of attractions specifically designed for family fun.

Kangaroos at Fota Wildlife Park

Places to take toddlers

Travelling with toddlers is always hard going and, to make it fun for them, car journeys need to be kept as short as possible.  The best way to approach this is to plan well beforehand and make lots of stops to explore new places along the way.  If it’s done right, this will wear toddlers out so that they doze when the car is in motion.

One thing that toddlers always love is visiting petting zoos where they can get up close to the animals.  Newgrange Farm and the donkey sanctuary at Lough Gur are two great options, whilst at Fota Wildlife Park it’s possible to encounter exotic animals, including lemurs, kangaroos and llamas roaming at will.  In Killarney it’s possible to go for a ride in a traditional cart and say hello to the carthorse, and there are excellent play areas at Kylemore Abbey and Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

Travelling in Ireland with a small child

When travelling with a child it is important to fit the holiday around things that they find entertaining.  More adult-centred activities are, after all, not much fun with a frustrated child in tow.  There is no single way to approach this as every child is different, but fortunately Ireland offers a lot of variety.  Children that like trains will love the Clonmacnoise and West Offally bog train, which looks like a giant toy, and will delight in a trip to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.  Kids who like pirates will love the Louisburgh museums and the chance to see where real pirates hid their booty, while those who are into castles will be spoilt for choice; Trim Castle, Bunratty Castle and Ross Castle are always firm favourites.  For truly adventurous ones, there is the Giant’s Causeway, though they might need a little help getting around.

Accommodation and travel

Ireland doesn’t have a lot of chain hotels, as most locations are so small, so it’s not always possible to arrange for a room that can be shared by the whole family.  The smaller hotels in Ireland, however, are almost universally friendly to children and will make special arrangements to fit them in, as well as helping to make the stay more fun for them.  For those who prefer to avoid hotels, camping and caravanning are also an option, but such visitors should be warned - Ireland can be damp!
By far the easiest way to get around with small children is by car.  Family discounts are available for those wanting to take their own cars over on the ferry, and it’s easy to pick up hire cars close to the major airports.  There are flights to Ireland from most major British and Western European airports.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Last ever 2WW

So, I am in my last ever two week wait, and I'm feeling good about it too - whatever happens.

I have been on a bit of a journey over the last couple of weeks, hence the lack of personal posts whilst I sorted my head out a bit. I was feeling like I was totally out of control of everything; how much money we have, where we live, how many children I have. Part of regaining control was to tell myself that there would be no more TTC regardless... originally we said this would be our last cycle - then there was the chance that it might not happen. I didn't want to delay, I have a strong urge to get on with whatever the future is, plus I am nearly 42! So I told myself last time was it and then began to plan...

In my plan we move back to Australia in 2 years, BB goes to a lovely little Steiner School, I get to reunite with some great friends, several of whom have kids around BB's age or just a little older. I get a rewarding, purposeful and well paid job once more and we live a happy life in the sunny desert until BB gets to around 10 or 11, when we move to the coast! We have enough money to return to the UK every Christmas, and DD visits us mid year each year.

I began to think about what I need to do to make that real. It is possible. I need to stop spending our savings though. I am currently working for about a tenth of what I used to earn per hour, which is crazy when my time is ten times more precious now that I have child to raise. So I have made a few changes to how am working, and upped my rates - so far so good.

When DD announced that he would be available for the last try after all I wasn't so sure about. I had become a little attached to my new life plan. Plus I am surrounded by pregnant people at the moment, both online and in real life, so I am being reminded of how hard it actually is to be pregnant. I wasn't sure that's what I wanted to do anymore.  I had also started to get a glimpse of having myself back too, I think there is a window after having a baby when you think another one would be great - you have forgotten what it is like to be you and the hormones are still making you all loved up. Perhaps I am past that now as it no longer seemed like a must do thing.

But sometimes it's hard to know yourself, right? Is it what I really wanted but I was just trying to make myself feel better about the alternatives. Was I just scared? I don't want another miscarriage, or for BB to have a sibling with special needs. Was I being selfish and just wanting my body/mind/time back for me a bit more?

Also, on the other side of the coin, could I live with it if I was the reason BB was an only child. He is so very sociable, he loves having other people around, I have no doubt that he would love a sibling.

And so my plan was to delay the decision. I dutifully peed on a stick and inserted it into the fertility monitor every day. When DD arrived at the weekend we had a big discussion, mostly about all the reasons that it would be good for us to just have one. Mean while the fertility monitor was flat - low fertility, even on day 16. It's usually high by day 11! I wondered if this was cause or effect. Am I not feeling like TTC because I am too old and no longer ovulating?  Or is it my mind controlling my body? (I have always had a really regular, predictable and healthy ovulatory cycle).

On Saturday though a thought started to creep into my head. Maybe we should try this anyway. Maybe my body is going to ovulate late, to give a girl a chance perhaps, or simply just to mature the eggs and build a good lining. Maybe....

On Sunday the monitor was high. I was pretty excited about that. I told DD and he was too. There was no question, we had to try it! So, our last ever AI was on Sunday afternoon. I got my peak on the monitor on Monday, so I am now 2 dpo. Our timing turned out to be good. We are realistically in with a chance. Whatever happens I am happy.

It feels good. It feels like we stopped at the right time. It feels like our little family will have a good life whatever happens. And even though it's now all over to mother nature, I do feel like I am back in control of my life again.

Life is good.

Now, to retain the serenity for the next two weeks...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Creating an artistic craft space for your child

Guest post by Aimee Claire

Learning how to make positive choices and how to express themselves effectively are two of the most important assets that all children need to develop as they grow. Especially during their earliest years, children need the freedom to explore their creativity. Fostering the creative process not only helps a child to learn how to make decisions for themselves and how to commit to whatever activity they happen to be engaged in, but also how to deal with positive and negative feelings, as well as encouraging their mental development.

Encouraging a child’s creativity may be achieved in several different ways. Ultimately, the greatest influence should be placed on the actual process of creating rather than on the finished product, whether the activity is artistic, musical, craft-related or simply creative play.  Fostering an environment that encourages creativity begins with shaping and decorating a room specifically for that purpose; it may be a redecorated spare room or a small corner of a bedroom, kitchen or other room in the house that is decorated and organized specifically for crafting and creating.

Designing a creative space for toddlers

The key to creating a suitable space for children of any age to play and craft in is to keep it well-organized. While children of all ages benefit from having a creative space, toddlers in particular need this kind of play and creativity for proper development, and designing a space with their needs and safety in mind is very important.

Furniture and storage included in the space should be functional, durable and safe for the littlest ones. A good-sized table should be central to a creative space and a low table is obviously necessary for small children.  Chairs for the table are one option but floor cushions may be even better for the smaller children.  Bookshelves, properly anchored to the wall, floating shelves, fabrics bins, storage ottomans, and cloth bags are ideal storage choices, as they are easy to access and generally safe for all ages.

A staple of creative play is dramatic play.  A long mirror and a chest filled with old clothing and accessories can lead to hours of play-acting and pretend.  Items for playing house are appropriate here as well, such as plastic dishes and play food.

Workspace and counter space are very important and should be sectioned off into specialized areas. A section for painting and drawing, for assembling puzzles or blocks, or for crafting are some examples, and each specialized space can have storage and display customized accordingly.

An individual space that grows with them

As children age, their needs and interests will change either slightly or sometimes quite dramatically.  Many of the same storage options may remain as the kids grow, while others such as the tables and dress-up areas may be altered.  A small table may be exchanged for a larger desk or utility table, while the dress-up area may become a reading nook or a home for a painting easel or music stand.

Finally, creating a degree of privacy for the space is important, too.  Children need the opportunity to learn how to play and create and to feel relaxed and comfortable doing so.  Isolation is not good, however. Consider colourful curtains or all types of shutters as possible room dividers or privacy screens for the creative space.