Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Gro-Snug from The Gro Company

Swaddling is one of those things that we are old told to do with babies by family, midwifes, health visitors etc. It's a great way of keeping your baby cozy. However, if you're anything like the hubby and I this activity does not came naturally. When we had our first child we would spend long periods of time trying to work out how to wrap blankets so that they are in the 'swaddle' position. No matter how many times we were shown this by health care professionals we just couldn't grasp it. Our next child has recently entered the world and guess what?! We found ourselves back in a world of swaddle pain. Most of the blankets we would wrap would look like one of those horrific shape presents that you find yourself trying desperately to make look pretty. One of the worst things was that we'd end up making the baby to hot as we would wrap the blanket so many times it would end up adding too many layers.

Thankfully, we were asked if we would like to review a Gro Snug from the Gro Company. I new they made Gro Bags (which we've used) but i'd never heard of a Gro Snug. It acts as a sleeping bag and swaddle blanket so giving you the best of both worlds. As you can imagine, I jumped at the chance of reviewing this as I was hoping it would end my losing battle with swaddling.

It comes in 3 different colours. I chose the pure white one. You may be thinking i've lost my mind in that choice as white and babies don't mix but it's machine washable and it can be tumble dried. You can also choose between a light of cosy style one which depends on what time of year you will be using it. It's suitable for newborns and it's a one size fits all shape covering from 5lbs to 12lbs. 

On the first night we used the Gro Snug, Ophelia loved it. She slept for more prolonged periods of time in-between feeds which meant she was content. We used it as a swaddle so we fastened the poppers at the arms. The bag is very roomy at the bottom which allows space for Ophelia to sleep in the natural frog leg position. The material is soft but also stretchy so it allows for movement which is great for Ophelia as she is a wriggler but this keeps her safe.

My favourite feature is that it unzips from the bottom. This is such a treat during night time nappy changes as it allows for minimal disruption. 

It washes very well. I've washed it every 2-3 days since we've had it and it hasn't shrunk at all and still looks as good as new.

Overall, I couldn't recommend this enough to use with any newborns. It's a lot safer than trying to swaddle with blankets and Ophelia has been very happy and content at night time since we've had it. We are going to buy another one in a different colour. You can purchase them from The Gro Company Store.

Did you swaddle your baby? Have you used any Gro Company products before?


Saturday, 26 December 2015

Christmas afternoon tea at the Celtic Manor

If there's one hotel in South Wales that always puts me in the christmas spirit then it's the celtic manor. We adore the hotel and we have stayed there on wedding anniversaries. It's become a bit of a christmas tradition for us to have their festive afternoon tea every year. The hotel is always fantastically decorated and it feels cozy, warm and homely. 

I love going for afternoon tea and I've tried lots of them in South Wales. I always find the ones at the Celtic Manor to be far more superior than anywhere else and very good value for money. I was delighted to receive a voucher at a blogging event to try out the christmas afternoon tea they had on offer this year.

Before we had anything to eat we were served a mulled wine and then had a choice from a selection of teas or coffee.

Then came the first round of food which was savoury treats presented in a picnic style basket. There were 4 different things and each were very different but the flavours all complimented each other very well. My favourite from that selection was the crayfish, mango and chilli bilini. I've never tried that flavour combination before but it was light and very refreshing. I was surprised it was included in the festive selection as I felt it was more of a summery appetiser. This didn't bother me though as I could have eaten about 10 of them, they were that satisfying. 

The next installment was what you would normally expect to see at an afternoon tea. We were served finger sandwiches, cakes and pastries on a 3 tiered stand. 
There were 4 different sandwiches which were all very nice. There was turkey and cranberry, smoked salmon, cucumber and egg mayo. I would have liked to have seen some more winter flavours with perhaps stuffing and cheese and chutney etc. 
The cakes and pastries all looked lovely. There were 6 each, so there was a lot to feast on. Even though I enjoyed them, I felt like I needed something sweeter. I felt like I was missing something extremely chocolaty. The selection was very filling. I had to ask for a box to take some of them home as I couldn't finish them and I knew we had more to come. 

Finally, we were given freshly baked scones. I loved the way they were presented in cute baskets. You could smell them before they reached the table. They were warm, the perfect texture and above all delicious. 

I really enjoyed this tea, so much so that I went back again with my mum and daughters. I think it's fantastic value for money as it's so much food. In fact, it may be a bit too much food but as I mentioned earlier, you can take it home. I can't recommend the afternoon tea at The Celtic Manor enough. It always seems better than anywhere else I have it. 

There is still time to enjoy the christmas afternoon tea. It's available from 1pm - 3.30pm and costs £26 per person during the week and £36 on the weekend. There is also a 50% reduction on the price for any children wanting to enjoy the tea.

Have you been to the Celtic Manor before?

Sunday, 20 December 2015

My birth story: 2nd time around

I left my labour story at the part where I'd just found out I had to have a cesarean. I'm not sure if you know but my day job is an operating department practitioner. This means that I work in an operating theatre. My job role is to 'scrub' in an operation whereby I assist the surgeon. One thing I've always found working in healthcare is that when it comes to us being patient's,  we make the worst possible ones. I think this is because we know too much and can't shut off.  

When I was transferred onto the operating table, it all felt very surreal. As the team introduced themselves to me, I felt like I was at the wrong side of the table and that I should be the one preparing all the instruments and doing my checks. I found it incredibly difficult to try and blank out what was happening. My consultant was also someone who I work with regularly. Even though I trust him with my life, it was extremely strange seeing him operating without me assisting him. I was incredibly lucky that he was actually the consultant on call the day I was in labour. A twist of fate in my favour perhaps.

Once the cesarean begin, I felt extremely uncomfortable. It wasn't that I felt any pain but it was an epidural anaesthetic so you can feel pushing and pulling etc. Again that didn't bother me but the feeling of discomfort came more from knowing exactly what they were doing so in a sense I felt the knife cut and every other action. I knew what they were doing step by step and I hated it. 

Ophelia was delivered safely and I couldn't wait to have a cuddle. She weighed 7lb 11.5 and she had more hair than I expected. I felt a huge weight come off my shoulders and I cried tears of joy and relief. Hubby had lots of cuddles as I was shaking quite vigorously from the anaesthetic. 

I was so engrossed in my new baby that I hadn't noticed how much time had passed. I suddenly tuned back in to the operation and was able to hear from the whispers that something was wrong. I hadn't felt them start stitching me up. My heart sank. 

My consultant decided to be honest with me (as he knew he couldn't hide anything from me as I've got too much knowledge). They thought that I had a hole in my bladder and that my placenta was completely stuck down, they were struggling to get it out. It had pulled my bladder very high up. They performed a dye test to check for holes and thankfully it was fine (my urine was blue all day then lol). The placenta took a long time to come out and I must admit I found that slightly painful as they were really giving it a good pull. I could see the consultant and registrar putting all their effort in. It looked like a tug of war!

My scar is very small. Smaller than I ever imagined it would be. I was stitched up so I don't have to have any clips removed. 

It's been 4 weeks since the delivery and I am now able to look at all the positives. For a while I felt quite upset about the birth because I really didn't like being a patient and I hated the whole experience. However, when I reflect on it now, I become very emotional. I am so overwhelmed and I feel very lucky and privileged to have had someone I know deliver my baby into the world. The fact that a consultant who I work with all the time delivered Ophelia, makes it all the more special.  

I think the fact that I didn't write a birth plan has helped me to come to terms with my labour and birth. All I knew is that I wanted my baby in the safest way and at the time, a cesarean was needed.

The next part of my labour and birth story will be all about the aftermath. We had to stay in hospital for 6 days in total. Keep your eyes peeled for that installment.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Stick To Stigu planner review

If you know me at all then you will know that I love nothing more than to be organised and I like to achieve this by writing endless amounts of lists and using calendars and diaries. I have lists of my lists. I am a huge stationary hoarder so the more planners etc I have, the better.

I was asked if I would like to review a new planner by Stick To Stigu. Obviously I jumped at the chance. At the moment I write ideas and schedules for my blog in a notepad or on various scraps of paper, so I thought this planner could be used as my blog planner. I think when juggling a personal life and a blogging life, it's easier to have two separate planners to remain more organised.

When the planner arrived I instantly liked it. I really liked the fact that it was a paperback as hardback planners are often too heavy and don't mould well in to a handbag etc. I loved the size of the planner too. I have rather large teddy bear writing so I need a bigger planner to accommodate that. You can also tear the corner off the bottom of the page. This is great as it'll act as a sort of page marker as you can instantly get to the page you require.

I love the quirkiness of this planner, which is what I think makes it stand out from others. It's a few different things in one. It's a planner, a calendar, a notebook, a diary and a to do list maker. It also has different themes each month with lots of inspirational facts and quotes.

The layout consists of a blank page on the left hand side (which is a handy place to write a to do list, notes for the week or blog post ideas). On the right hand side is the diary, which consists of grids. I think this is a great feature as for each day of the week you have 5 grids. I could use this to manage my blog and social media for the day. For example one box could be for twitter actions, one for Facebook actions etc. If you were using this as a normal everyday diary the grids could be made into times of the day or you could use one for each member of your family. 

Overall, I can't recommend this Planner enough to anyone who is looking to organise their life. The possibilities with it are endless. I was hoping to show you pictures of how I will be using it but at the moment I may be booking a last minute holiday for early January so I don't want to write the wrong things in there (told you I was a little OTT with organising lol). 

Do you use a planner or calendar or do you rely on your phone for organising your life?


Sunday, 13 December 2015

Sleepytot Lamb Review

Just before I had Ophelia, I was asked if we would like to review a new comforter from the Sleepytot range. I hadn't heard of this brand before but I was keen to try out a new comforter. Eva loved her comforters when she was a baby and in fact still has them in her bed now. They played a huge part in keeping her settled at night time and therefore allowing her and us to actually sleep.

We received the Large Lamb to review which costs £14.99. This is about what I would expect to pay for a comforter. 

When it arrived I was surprised at how big it actually was. It's a fab size as it's much bigger than most comforters and therefore will last all through toddler years too.

It stands out from others as it has velcro attachments on its arms and legs. This is a great feature as it can attach to the sides of Ophelia's cot (when she is out of her moses basket) and means that she will never lose it at night time. I've also been attaching it to the car seat arms and the buggy. As she gets older she'll be able to search for it and know it will always within reaching distance.

If you use dummies then the sleepytot is ideal. I only gave Eva a dummy at 9 months when I stopped breastfeeding and I couldn't even tell you the amount of times that she was distressed at night from losing it. With the velcro straps you can attach the dummies to the sleepytot and you know they will always be safe and that your child will always be able to find one and then hopefully be able to self soothe themselves back to sleep. You could even attach one to every arm or leg and then you have all possibilities covered. At the moment Ophelia doesn't have a dummy so I haven't tried this feature out with her although Eva quite often steels it and uses it. I'm looking forward to attaching small teething rings to it when the time comes. 

As i've already mentioned, the sleepytot lamb is quite large in size which has allowed me to use it as a pillow when I am getting Ophelia changed. It's soft and gentle underneath her head and of course is familiar to her so it helps her to remain settled. If you use the supermarket trolleys with the baby attachment, then you could also lie this on there as a pillow. The fabric is very snuggly to touch. and cuddle in to.

My mum also gave me a top tip whilst she was here, visiting from Australia. She told me to leave the sleepytot underneath my top for a day so that it would smell of me and therefore when I then gave it to Ophelia she was even more comforted by it.

Overall, we are really happy with it. It's one of the best comforters I have used and I know it will last a long time as Eva (who is nearly 3) is also playing with it and using it to snuggle up to. I love the fact that it can be machine washed (let's face it babies make a lot of mess between being sick and dribbling). I think the best feature though is the fact that it can be attached to various things meaning you have less chance of losing it and it is always readily available.

Has your child got a teddy or comforter that settles them?

Saturday, 5 December 2015

My labour story: 2nd time around

I've decided to write my labour and birth story in a couple of posts or you'll end up feeling like you've read a mini novel.

All through my pregnancy I was hoping that I was going to have a very different experience than my first labour, birth and post partum. I had a long, slow labour and I then had a horrific delivery and was severely infected after having Eva which led to me needing an operation later on to fix up the mess.

Whilst pregnant with Ophelia I remained very positive about what the birth would be like and I had envisioned a different experience to last time. How wrong was I?! 

I started having contractions early Friday morning when I was term + 8 days. They were about 10 minutes apart and were painful but manageable. I was actually looking after Eva at the time so I couldn't make too much of a fuss about them as I thought i'd frighten her.  I thought having her around would be a bad thing but to be honest it was a welcome distraction. I think I was able to deal with everything a lot stronger than I would have done if I was on my own. From about 6pm that evening they became a lot more intense. I dealt with them with paracetamol's and soaking in the bath for what felt like hours (it actually was). I also projectile vomited whilst in the bath. Labour is so glamorous isn't it. I got out of the bath at about 2am and suddenly the contractions became a lot quicker. They were now minutes apart. I decided it was time to go to the hospital. We called my next door neighbour in to babysit Eva until my dad could arrive. The drive to the hospital was horrible. The sleet was extremely heavy which made the journey seem endless.

The midwife examined me and said I was only 3cm and my waters hadn't broken. I couldn't believe it. It was so painful and I was gutted and gobsmacked to find that I was only 3cm. We discussed pain relief and in the end I opted for an epidural as I was so tired and thought that things would take forever seeing as I wasn't very far dilated. 

Next the anaesthetist came to put the epidural in. The midwife then examined me once again but this time I was 7cm. Once again I was gutted as I'd have never had the epidural if I'd have known things were gonna progress that quickly in the space of half an hour. I suppose no one can predict these things though. My waters then broke but came out in a membrane sack. Everyone seemed postive that the baby was going to arrive imminently or within the couple of hours......

The minutes went by, the hours went by. I was examined many times and was still 7cm. At about 10am my consultant popped in. I was so relieved to see him and couldn't have been more pleased that he was on call the weekend I was in labour. He decided to give me something to help contract my uterus. We waited 2 hours to see if that worked. On re - examination I was still 7cm and the head was now not far enough down. The baby started to become distressed so my consultant called it a day and we agreed on a cesarean. I was quite upset about it at the time and I think that was because I had been in labour for so long that I felt like a failure in the end. However, I knew it was the safest option for both baby and I. That's where I will leave this part of my birth story and continue it in a separate blog post.

How have your labour's differed or were they the same? I wished this time around that I was going to be one of these people that have no contractions,  your waters break and then everything starts but annoyingly I had a very similar labour to last time.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Personalised Ben and Holly Xmas book by Penwizard

If you're a regular reader of my blog then you will know I'm a big fan of personalised children's items. Therefore, I was so pleased to be asked to review a new personalised christmas story book from Penwizard staring Ben and Holly and of course Eva.

You may remember that I reviewed one of their princess potty books which starred Eva. She got on really well with that book. Catch up on that review here, Potty Book review.

You can have the book in paperback or hardback costing either £14.99 or £19.99. You can view it here, Ben and Holly Christmas When purchasing the book you then get to personalise a character to star in it by adding their name, hair, eye and skin colour and their hair style. You can also add a message to the book which I think is a lovely sentiment as it makes the book more special. The book arrived very quickly after it was ordered.

The story is about Ben, Holly and your child going to the north pole. It features all the TV programme's main characters such as Gaston the ladybird, nanny Plum and the wise old elf etc. The gang then help Santa deliver presents to their human friend Lucy.

Eva has loved the book. She loves anything to do with herself so to hear her name being read in the book, immediately grabbed her attention. She listens to me read the pages and then she takes great pleasure in finding herself in the illustrations. She loves spotting herself among her favourite characters and of course Santa.There's a particular part in the book where Santa is talking to Eva. She thinks that part is great. The wording is easy for her to follow and the story is engaging for little one's. She asks for it to be read every night before bed.

Both of us are really happy with this book. The quality is great. I love the fact that you can have it in a hardback as even though softback's are nicer for children to hold, I find they get ruined quite quickly though being bent etc. The book took minutes to create and it arrived quickly. The story makes for a unique, enjoyable christmas read that is a must for any Ben and Holly fans. I've now got my eye on the Peppa Pig christmas book and the Snowman and the Snowdog books for christmas.


Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Thoughts on raising children in today's cruel world

Last weeks events in Paris have been playing on mind constantly. Not a week goes by nowadays where we aren't seeing something hideous and completely inexplainable going on in our world. I think its affected me a lot as I am about to bring another child into this world and it leaves me asking myself 'when did it all become so cruel and evil?.'

As a parent you do anything and everything in your power to love, nurture and protect your children in any way you can. I never really understood this power and need to protect somebody so much until I became a parent myself. It makes you realise what your parents did for you and what your grandparents did for them. 

At the moment I feel I am able to shelter my daughter from the terror that surrounds us but of course the older she gets the less I will be able to do that. For now she doesn't see or understand ways in which I protect her from danger and harm, she just sees the fun and laughter that we share. The same will be for my newborn. I am pleased she isn't frightened yet by what goes on around us, but i'm sure that time will come. 

I can't stop thinking about whether we are parenting differently in this day and age or whether it is the world that has changed. By that I mean that when I was growing up I don't recall being frightened or scared of anything going on. I wasn't scared of terror attacks, violence, racism, inequality or anything else that goes on. I was a child of the 80's where it was socially acceptable to be playing in the street on your own with your friends, or walking to school or the shops on your own with friends. We didn't have mobile phones then. If you were told to come home at a certain time, you just did. How did our parents cope? Were we more trusting back then or was the world genuinely a safer place? Did our parents keep us from harm in different ways? Did they have the same worries that we have now? 

I honestly don't know how any parents coped back then. I can't even bear the thought of my children playing in the street these days for fear of them being taken etc. I recently saw that a fellow blogger had cancelled a trip to Disneyland Paris after the recent events in the country. This is the type of struggles and worries we as parents face today. I feel so saddened to think we are living in our world where we don't even feel safe anywhere. I often also question whether the media has made us more worried and frightened. Perhaps we are exposed to much more now through the Internet. 

I don't know what the future holds for this world. I cant predict what dangers we may encounter. All I know is that as a family we cant live in fear and we have to live everyday to the max. All I feel I can do as a parent is to teach my children to be strong, passionate, honest and caring people. I'll teach them what is right and what is wrong. Teach them to treat everybody as equals and that diversity isn't a bad thing. I'll educate them on the world and the people in it. I'll take them on adventures. I'll always teach them to be fearless and try anything once but I'll always be close by to protect them. 

I am eternally grateful to my parents for how they brought me up. I had a fun childhood that wasn't limited by the fears that are in the world today. 

What are your thoughts? Do you feel that it is the world that has changed or is it the way we parent our children these days? Do you blame the media for the fears we face?

#ABloggersChristmas linky number 5

Welcome to the fifth edition of my christmas linky. The countdown to christmas really is on now. The christmas adverts are on the tv and everything is in the shops. 

I've set up this linky as a place for us to share wonderful ideas and experiences and to help us be prepared and organised. Thank you so much to those that joined in last time. We had some great recipes and gift and craft ideas.

#ABloggersChristmas encorporates everything about Christmas so you can share any posts relating to Christmas. I want to see days out, travel, shopping lists, crafts, recipes, traditions and much more. 

Thank you to everyone that linked up last time. It was great to see a range of different posts. 

The linky for now will run fortnightly and you can share 2 posts old or new. The next one will start on the 2nd December. Please make sure you comment on at least 2 posts including the one directly above your own. When commenting please use #ABloggersChristmas so we know where you have found the post. Also please tweet me at 'amininorrisblog' so that I can retweet your links.

cannot wait to read your posts. 

The rules:

1) You can share up to 2 posts per linky 

2) You have to comment on 2 other posts including the 1 directly above your own and comment using #ABloggersChristmas

3) Add the linky badge to the bottom of your post

4) Tweet the link you shared to me @amininorrisblog 

All about a mini Norris


Monday, 16 November 2015

A review of Insta Natural Dead Sea Mud Mask

I was recently sent an Insta Natural Dead Sea Mud Mask to review which you can buy from Amazon for £21.95. 

The mask is designed to be used all over your body. It's made from all natural ingredients. It also includes shea butter,  jojoba oil, aloe vera, calendula oil and hickory bark extract. These are all renowned in healthy skin care. The natural remedy is designed to help with blemishes, dry and oily skin, acne and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It's recommended that you use the mask once a week. You should apply a think layer of the mask to clean skin and then leave it on for 10-15 minutes. Once it's applied the treatment starts working to absorb any excess oil, toxins and dirt from your skin. You then use warm water to remove the mask from your skin.

When the mask arrived I was surprised at how big the tub was. I must admit, at first I thought £21.95 was a very steep price for a mud mask but once I saw the size of the tub, I understood why.

I've had the mask just over a month now so i've used it at least 4 times. I like to use the mask when I've had a bath. For me using a mask is supposed to be relaxing and not a chore so I tend to have a good long soak in the bath and then apply the mask. You really only need a very thin layer. The mask is a nice texture to apply. It's soft and lightweight. I hate the feel of gritty one's so I've been more than happy to use this. It really does harden up after 10-15 minutes and I have to say I did panic slightly the first time I used it as I didn't think i'd be able to get it off. 

Once it's removed it really does make you feel like your skin is super clean and hydrated. My skin is soft and smooth after using it. I've been particularly impressed with how much it has helped with my dry skin. Since being pregnant my skin has been so dry and dehydrated but using this mask has helped.

I can't comment on it's effects with blemishes and acne as fortunately enough I don't really suffer with anything like that. I am also very lucky to have quite youthful looking skin for a 30 year old, so again I can't comment on whether it is reducing any fine lines or wrinkles. 

Overall, I have been really happy with this product. I wouldn't let the price put you off as the tub is massive and it goes a long way. I still have more than 3 quarters left of it. My skin feels great after using it so I would recommend it to anyone. 

Have you used any of their products before? Do you use any masks? I reviewed their stretch mark cream before which you may like to read as I was also very impressed by that, Stretch mark blog post. If you read my blog regularly and follow me on instagram you'll see that I've been putting pictures of my bump up and there are no stretch marks to be seen.


Sunday, 15 November 2015

Bump Watch - Week 40

Week - 40 and 3 days. I knew i'd be late! I don't mind but when everyone else due after me has their babies then I get grumpy.

Baby Developments - There's not really anything I can say here as baby is fully developed. All I can say is that she's cosy. I do worry though as the longer she stays in there, the heavier and longer she becomes!!!!! Ouch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My Bump - Bump is still looking great. No stretch marks but quite veiny. I'm really pleased that i've managed to carry everything all at the front. It is pretty big now but hey that's understandable when you're overdue.

My symptoms - Where shall I start. I pee every 15 minutes probably including at night time. I don't get any sleep due to the frequent trips to the bathroom and the sheer uncomfortableness. She seems to love turning around which is so painful. The braxton hicks contractions I get are very sore to say the least. I do not remember having them like this last time.

Cravings - I'm still enjoying ice-cubes daily! I had a huge craving for madagascan vanilla though this week so I ended up by the ice-cream and normal cream.

Aversions - No aversions at all.

Exercise - Don't be daft! Getting out of bed is all the exercise I need for the day. 

Baby items purchased - At last we finally bought some things. We got a snuzpod which arrived today and I also went shopping to the Jojo Maman Bebe christmas event. They were doing a lucky dip at the till where you win 10, 20 or 50% off your purchases and I got 50. Wahoo. I bought bump 3 new baby grows including a christmas one.

Best moments this week - On my due date the hubby and I went to a cooking class that was taken by a chef that we both like called Omar Allibhoy. He's a spanish chef and we have his cookbook at home. It was blogging event which I was unsure whether I'd get to but luckily I did. It was fab and we both had a great time and learnt quite a lot.

Worst moment this week - Knowing at least 3 people who are due after me and they have all had their babies. :(

What i'm looking forward to - Hopefully feeling a bit more organised. I still don't feel ready.

How Eva is feeling - Eva keeps saying that her sister is coming out soon. I hope she's right.


Friday, 13 November 2015

A letter from Santa's post office

We've really been looking forward to the festive season this year and I think that's because Eva is now at an age where she is starting to understand it all and gets very excited at the thought of it. She loves nothing more than telling us what she wants for christmas and talks about the big man himself all the time. It seemed the obvious year to make sure she received her first letter from Santa.

We were asked if we would like to receive and review a letter from, so I jumped at the chance. The letters cost £4.99 and are quick and easy to make. There are 4 different designs of letter to choose from. Once you've chosen your design you fill out a few details about your child for the personalisation part of the letter and then place your order. You can also select a delivery date, whether it's the next day or some time in the future. 

Eva loves nothing more than receiving post (which she doesn't get often). She seems to get so excited when the postman arrives and runs off downstairs. You can imagine how excited she was to see this envelope in the door. There was a lot of screaming with glee and wows a plenty.

 I just love the look on her face that I managed to capture. It was quite emotional seeing her getting so excited and she was genuinely amazed.

We enlisted daddy's help to read the letter which mentioned that santa knew Eva wanted a garage for her cars and also mentioned Alfie our dog. We would've liked to have put Eva's sister's name in it but seeing as I haven't had her yet, we obviously couldn't. 

We were all really pleased with the letter. I think it's perfect for her age group as the illustrations are warm and friendly and still very child like. The envelope was a huge hit and captured her attention and got her extremely excited straight away. 
The wording is easy for a young child to understand. Eva really was captivated by it all and listened in carefully. What is great to see is that she talks about things that were mentioned in the letter. This gives me hope that the letter is actually working and she believes santa is watching her every move.

I'd recommend this to anyone with young children. The letter was easy to make on the website and it arrived very quickly. It was a wonderful, magical moment seeing Eva receive it. It takes pride of place now in our kitchen under Eva's orders. 

How old was your child when they received their first letter from Santa?


Ideal gifts for 2nd time parents

I've decided to write this post as lots of people have been saying how stumped they are about gifting second time parents. I've had a good, long think about what I think would be practical, useful and very much appreciated. First time around there are so many things you want but as you have more children, it becomes harder to think of new things. This post obviously isn't just for second time parent ideas but obviously 3rd, 4th etc.

1) Babysitting:

I can guarantee you will make any parents smile by offering them some babysitting. Even if it's only taking the other child/children for an hour. You could make up your own little vouchers and gift them to them. A friend of mine recently had our daughter over to sleep for the night. I think it's one of the kindest gifts i've ever been asked and given! I can't tell you how much we appreciated it.

2) Food:

One thing I really appreciated first time around was when people brought us meals to pop in our freezer. I honestly didn't realise at the time how much this helped. It was amazing to be able to go in the freezer and pull out a chilli or stew etc and know dinner was covered without me having to do hardly anything. I can only imagine this being even more useful with already having children as there will be even less spare time to do anything.

3) Vouchers:

Seeing as most things were brought first time around, vouchers can be an ideal gift. This gives the parents the freedom to get things they actually need. You could get any kind of vouchers. Clothes vouchers are ideal for letting them choose things for the new baby. Supermarket vouchers are a great way of helping them cut the cost of their food shopping. Mums tend to like going for a coffee when they are on maternity leave so what about Costa or Starbucks vouchers. Other good ones could be cinema vouchers (if they ever get a chance for a date night) or spa vouchers for a bit of a pampering and much needed time out.

4) Cleaning services:

How about paying for a cleaner to go and blitz the house. During the first month or so you get so many visitors and I don't think people understand how stressful it is trying to ensure the house is always clean and tidy when people pop over. Not only that with other children in the house it is bound to be even messier.
On the same kind of theme you could pay for ironing to be done. 

5) A coffee machine:

I can't even begin to tell you on my first how many times I attempted to make myself a hot drink and either never got around to actually making it or by the time I made it and drank it, it was stone cold. Parents need caffeine to help with the serious lack of sleep!
We have a coffee machine in the house but it's way too technical and takes up too much time. An ideal splurge gift would be a pod coffee machine. Imagine how easy you would make their lives. All they would have to do is pop the pod in, press a button and hey presto a hot drink is made. I'd recommend something from Nespresso.

6) Membership passes:

One thing I worry about with having another child is that I won't be able to afford to entertain my toddler all the time whilst i'm on maternity leave. I still want her to enjoy herself and have a fab time with me but as you know, money ends up tight. A great gift to give someone would be an annual or membership pass to attractions and play centres. This will help new parents be able to continue having fun days out.
I bought an annual pass for myself and my daughter for a local play centre called Mountain View Ranch. It cost £20 each per pass but we can now go as many times as we want for a year. I think I had more than paid for the 2 of them in about 6 weeks as we visited quite a few times cause I already knew the cost was covered. I think people worry that they won't go but if you know it's already paid for you don't have a lot to lose. Even if it's a far away attraction, you would still make the journey a few times. 
Another place that I know do annual passes which is a fantastic day out in Wales is Folly Farm. I wrote a blog post about our trip there earlier this year, Folly Farm blog post. It's amazing value for money there anyway but with an annual pass you could go anytime of the year.
Other suggestions would be Noah's Ark Zoo FarmLongleat and Merlin. Check your local areas and see what one's are on offer close to you.

7) Things to entertain the other children with:

Someone pointed out to me that more often that not the other children tend to get missed out and forgotten about when it comes to gifting. Visitors come over with gifts for the new baby but tend to forget the other child will be there and will feel left out. 
Bringing things to entertain the other child will be handy in more ways than one. Even if it's a colouring or sticker book, it'll make the child's day. It will keep them entertained when visitors are there to see the new baby and also when the parents are feeding the baby. I can imagine in the first few weeks it's difficult to get them to understand that when you are feeding the new baby you can't give them your undivided attention.

8) Photography

Something that would be a great help is vouchers for a photography session. It's always nice to get professional photographs taken. 
You could also get vouchers for places like Photobox or Snapfish. That way the parents know they can get the endless amount of photos they take actually printed or turned into unique gifts.

9) Food subscription boxes

This is one of the best gifts I think. You can get a food subscription box delivered. This is so beneficial in more ways than one. The food is delivered to the house and it comes with a recipe. That way the new parents can have something lovely for dinner without the thought of having to go shopping and the hassle of thinking of something to cook.
It's also a nice idea for date nights for them as they can make a lovely meal to enjoy at home. It's not the same as going out but when you're a new parent you'll take any attempt at a date. We've tried the boxes from Gousto before and they were amazing. 

10) Stay at home boxes

How about creating hampers or boxes for the parents to enjoy at home. You could theme them such as 'a spa from home' and fill it with luxurious candles and beauty products or a 'movie night' and fill it with popcorn, a dvd etc. The list of these is endless but I think they would make a really thoughtful, unique gift.

What would you have liked to receive?

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Easybelts review

We were recently asked to review some toddler belts from Easybelts who make toddler belts for all ages including adults. I jumped at the chance as I can never find any belts to fit Eva's tiny waist. Even though she is coming up to age 3 she is definitely not in that size and more often than not, trousers end up to big for her and they need to be worn with a belt. I can never find any belts in her size, they all seem to start at age 3 or older. Easybelts are all velcro fastening which really got me intrigued.

I allowed Eva to pick the belts she wanted to have from the range on their website, toddler girl belts . She of course loved doing this herself as she is her mother's daughter and loves nothing more than a spot of shopping (providing it's for her). She chose a pink one with a heart motif and a black one. All I then had to do was measure her waist and pick the size that suited her best. The sizes are offered in inches rather than age which is perfect for little ones. 

When they arrived Eva loved them. They are quite plain looking but the motifs on them give them a more 'pretty' look. They are easy to use which make them so suitable for toddlers. I quickly taught Eva how to thread the belts through her jeans and then she easily learnt how to tighten it herself. The velcro feature is what makes the belt so special. Even the smallest of hands will be able to use them.

I think the belts are great for a number of reasons. Firstly, the velcro allows them to be suitable for your toddler to use themselves without your help. This is great especially for when they need to go to the toilet. We all know how children tend to leave a trip to the toilet until the last minute, so the fact that the belt can be quickly undone in these situations is wonderful. It allows them to still remain independent and in control.

Secondly, the velcro is a great safety feature. I won't bang on about how dangerous normal belts can be if used in the wrong areas. At least with velcro you know you can undo and loosen them in an instant. 

Thirdly, it's allowed Eva to wear many of her jeans and trousers again. I had so many pairs that she couldn't wear cause they were always falling down. It's also allowed me to buy her things from shops that she never normally fits into. It's great to see her in something other than leggings.

Lastly, they are such great value for money. They are only £6 each. This may seem more than one's you can get in a shop but at least you know these one's are safe and easy to use. 

Overall, we are both very happy with the belts and would recommend them to anyone with small children.

Do you get the same problem with your child's waist size and finding belts to fit?


Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Pregnancy style - Look 6

This will hopefully be my last pregnancy style post. With 2 days until baby is due I'm not planning on buying anymore clothes until my bump has disappeared. 

A few weeks ago I was faced with a fashion dilemma. I had a party to go to and guess what I had nothing to wear whilst I was so heavily pregnant. I really didn't want to buy a maternity dress as I knew I wouldn't get that much usage out of it. I contemplated buying a breastfeeding dress but seeing as I'm not sure what dress size I'm going to be I didn't want to waste my money on something that may only fit me for a few weeks. 

I decided to head into town and have a nose to see if  I could find anything suitable. I knew I didn't want to spend a lot of money so I headed straight for Primark. It's one of my favourite go to shops for something cheap, that's fashionable.

I found a couple of dresses to try which was great. I fell in love with this gorgeous black laced dress. The style of it is very me, so I was really hoping it would fit. I grabbed it in a size 8 in the hope that perhaps I could squeeze myself into it and therefore still be able to wear it after I have had the baby.

Luckily enough due to the boho styling of the dress, I actually got into the size 8. I couldn't believe my luck. I had found a dress I actually liked, was comfortable in and I knew I could still wear it after the baby was born. I can't remember exactly how much it was but it was definitely less than £20. I've already worn it 3 times so I am getting my money's worth.

The style of the dress is perfect for this winter season. With regards to fashion it ticks all the boxes as it's, black, lace and has the boho/70's styling to it. It's a great staple piece for your wardrobe as it'll go with so many things. I wore it with a pair of slouchy black calf length boots. You can't see them very well as i'm at the stage where my bump takes up most of the room in a picture! You could wear a different colour pair of shoes or boots to add a pop of colour and to make the dress more evening/occasionwear then don't wear any tights.

I wanted to share this look with you to highlight the fact that just because your pregnant you don't have to wear maternity clothes all the time. I think we tend to fall in a trap of always getting maternity clothes as we feel that we need them when it's better to try and find things that you will be able to wear again. Don't get me wrong, I have plenty of maternity clothes as I find them so comfortable but it is wasteful when you are only wearing them for a short period of time. 

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