Monday, 28 February 2011

21 months

My baby is no longer a baby, she's a fully fledged member of the toddler group. Miss C is now 21 months and although she is tiny, she has a big personality.

Every day her vocabulary is growing. She can say cat, dog, cheese, bread, yogurt and many more simple words. She is already starting to string words together to say things like "wove you daddy!" and "night, night mummy!" She can almost say her brother's name. When she hears the phone ringing, she shouts "Bella".

She's running and skipping and loves to dance. When she picks something up she has to extend one leg out in the air like a little ballerina. She likes to copy her brother by climbing everything.

She loves her teddy bears and has to take them with her everywhere she goes. She loves Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly. She loves to wear her Peppa Pig wellies or her pink boots.

She doesn't like getting her hair done and she doesn't like it when she doesn't get her own way. She hates when her brother steals her toys.

She is cheeky, she is cute and she is our little princess.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

A Sad Day and Memories Recalled

At the back of this photo, the man on the right is our Uncle Hecky. He passed away this morning at 4am at the age of 82. He'd always been strong, fit and healthy so it was sudden. This photo was taken at Wee Z's naming ceremony in 2007.

I've never had to deal with a big death in my family other than that of my Gran which has been the one that most affected me so far. So far...It sounds awful to say that but of course, it's the way of the world. We're born, we live and then we pass on.

I last saw Uncle Hecky before Christmas when he came to visit us with GG, my Grandma. We went for lunch, his treat, and had a really good time.

He was a cheery man, perhaps because he was quite deaf, so was happy to sit around the children and smile at them whilst they were talking to him because he probably couldn't hear a word they were saying. His wife, my Grandma's sister, passed away a few years ago. I hope wherever he is now, he's with her; Aunty Moo Moo we called her. I have a picture in my baby book of me on my first birthday and I'm sitting on Aunty Moo Moo's knee and Uncle Hecky is standing behind her. Uncle Hecky would always tell me the story of the time they took me to Blackpool when I was young. I don't remember it, but it always made him smile to recall it. He always used to sing to me "Tell Laura I love her" because of that old song by Ray Peterson from the 60s.

May he Rest In Peace.

Silent Sunday - Walking with my Daddy

Orchard Toys Giant Alphabet Jigsaw - Review

We’ve been playing with the Giant Alphabet Jigsaw by Orchard Toys.  They sent us the jigsaw to review and here’s how we got on!

Wee Z enjoys doing puzzles and Miss C is starting to get to grips with putting them together, sometimes successfully. I love the chunky pieces in this jigsaw, making them easy for her little hands to hold. The jigsaw is the alphabet, with pictures on each piece representing a letter from the alphabet.

It didn’t take Wee Z long to put the puzzle together as he knows his alphabet and we encouraged Miss C to try and find the letters by shouting out the picture for the letter. “Where is the P for Penguin?” we’d say, and off she’d go to find the penguin.

Once put together the puzzle is quite large, bright and colourful. We could then sit and point to the letters and pictures together and sing the alphabet song. I like how Orchard Toys have gone for different pictures for the letters, like instead of using dog they’ve used dinosaur for D and quilt for Q instead of Queen.

The puzzle is well made and, like all of Orchard Toys’ products, the board is 100% recycled. The pieces are strong so you know the puzzle is going to last. The puzzle is for ages 3-6 years but definitely one for all the family to enjoy together. As well as being fun to do, the puzzle is also educational so it’s great for learning through play.

Wee Z having fun doing his new puzzle

Friday, 25 February 2011

Buggysnuggle - Review

When the zip on the foot muff on my pram burst, I was pretty annoyed. So when the opportunity to review a Buggysnuggle came up, I jumped at the chance.

The new design Buggysnuggle is a foot muff for pushchairs. It fits almost all pushchairs, comes in 40+ fabric designs and is very easy to fit. The top can be zipped off for use in warmer weather and the zips open at the bottom allowing muddy feet to stick out.

As well as the Buggysnuggle for use in prams, you can buy car seat liners called Dinkysnuggles and also grow-bag style Babysnuggles for use with young babies in their prams or car seats. The designs are gorgeous too, with beautiful pinks and blues to the funky cow print design.

The Buggysnuggle is a lovely fleecy material. The one we were sent is a gorgeous purple grape colour with lilac, blue and cerise coloured flowers. We have a very pink pram for Miss C and I’m delighted to say it goes with it beautifully. We took the pram with the Buggysnuggle on when we went shopping at the weekend. I could see mums with the purple version of our pram eyeing it up and admiring it as we walked passed.

The Buggysnuggle was really easy to fit on to our pram. There is an elastic band across the back of the Buggysnuggle which you can slip over the back of the seat in the pram and then you simply pull your harness through the slots to fit it in place. If you have a five point harness, there is a velcro opening down the middle of the Buggysnuggle so you can pull the whole thing through the sides without having to fiddle with unhooking straps and trying to fit them through openings, making sure they don’t get twisted.

The one thing I noticed about the Buggysnuggle is how big it is. Wee Z could still fit in it and he is almost 4. Most foot muffs I’ve encountered have only lasted until Wee Z was about 2 and a half and he’s small for his age. It’s great that they’ve taken age and size into consideration when making the Buggysnuggle, durability is definitely important when it comes to things for your children! The top half of the Buggysnuggle is removable which makes it good for all year round use. The other thing I loved about the Buggysnuggle was the bottom of the fleece has holes from muddy shoes to stick out of so you don’t get the inside all dirty! It is machine washable though, so if it ever does get dirty you know you can wash it without it getting ruined. I am very impressed with the Buggysnuggle!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Getting crafty for prizes

My 2 love drawing. Miss C is getting really good at drawing circles and colouring in and Wee Z loves to colour and write, and if it's a paint by numbers type colouring book, well he's there!

Artful Adventures, a children's art work blog, have teamed up with Fly Thomas Cook to host a fab competition for kids to enter. On the site, you download and print off a paint-by-numbers drawing for your children to get creative with. They can use colours, paint, glitter; the more creative the better. There are some fantastic crafty prizes up for grabs for the best entry as chosen by Artful Adventures.

We've decided to enter and here are our pictures!

Wee Z age 3
Wee Z has gone for some cotton wool for snow and some kitchen tin foil to make the plane look rather shiny. He has a craft box Bella and Pops got him for Christmas filled with paper and stickers and he chose a sun coloured flower to make into his sunshine. Of course the sunshine needed a face!

Miss C age 1
Miss C used felt tips for her picture and with a little brotherly help, she made this lovely picture.

Good luck if your children decide to enter!

Listography - Perfect Day

  1. The sun splitting the sky - I love the sun and I can't wait for Summer to come. Heck even Spring would do right now. Hanging the washing outside, opening the windows and doors, the morning fresh air, walks to the park or the beach, ice cream, picnics, paddling pools, the smell of sun tan lotion; I love the sun!
  2. A night out - I enjoy being able to go out with my Husband when we can. It's nice to spend some time together, without the children, and enjoy each other's company and some grown up conversation. It's made even better when there is some delicious food in the mix too.
  3. Getting my hair done - I really love getting my hair done. I used to go to the hairdressers and it was my "me" time. I would take a book with me, enjoy a cup of tea and a biscuit and have a lovely head massage in peace. I don't have the time to go to a hairdresser now, but I still enjoy when my hairdresser comes to the house and makes my hair look gorgeous and shiny. I just wish I could re-create the look!
  4. Watching a film - At the weekends, Husband and I use one night sometimes two to watch a film together. If we don't have a film to watch then we'll work our way through a box set (currently Glee season 1) with a bag of crisps and some sweets. If it's a really chilly night, we'll put the couches together and bring the duvet down. Bliss!
  5. A bacon roll with a runny egg - My idea of a perfect breakfast but of course, we only have one once a week. Crispy bacon and a runny egg on a roll, delicious. It was torture not being able to eat runny eggs when I was pregnant!
This post is for Kate Takes 5's Listography. The list this week is your top 5 perfect days.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Going against a manufactures safety advice?

Whilst nosing at my Facebook feed, I noticed a comment made on the Tommee Tippee UK page that made me stop and read over what they had to say. Yesterday, Tommee Tippee UK posted something to warn against their dummies being customised with gems. I never saw the post, but from what I gather they received some backlash with negative comments, including name calling and abusive language. Unfortunately, they have deleted the post; they obviously felt they had too.

I was a bit confused when I read the post and the comments, purely because I couldn't help but wonder why on earth you'd want to customise a dummy. I'm not going to judge anyone who chooses to customise their babies clothing or blankets or shoes, but a dummy? It seems rather strange, mainly because it goes in a babies mouth. Why would you want superglue anywhere near your babies mouth? Or something they could potentially swallow if it were to come off.

This got me to thinking about other products that we may use with our children everyday. Do you always follow the safety guides on the equipment you use? I know when I was using a steriliser, I made sure I followed the instructions and made sure it was cleaned and descaled regularly. All of Wee Z's bottles were properly washed, sterilised and replaced every few months. His dummy and sippy cup were replaced whenever they showed any signs of wear. I never added baby rice to a bottle to give to Wee Z to fill him up because the manufactures say they are not designed for that. I make sure I have the correct car seat fitted for their age and weight. I have done all of this and would continue to do this to ensure my children never came to any harm because of something I should have followed.

When it comes to things like toys, of course Miss C has played with toys that aren't meant for her age but her play is supervised. I won't let her play with something that could harm her but if I feel she is able enough to play with something that might not necessarily be recommended for her age group then I will let her play with it. And of course I've left them both unattended in their swinging chair or high chair whilst I popped to the loo, they were strapped in, they weren't getting out! This is where common sense comes into practise.

It's when I heard the story of a person who put an animal in a microwave to dry it after a bath and then sued the microwave company when the animal didn't survive because the company did not put a disclaimer in place saying, animals don't go in microwaves. Not everyone has common sense! I don't think Tommee Tippee should have removed their post reminding people not to tamper with their products, they are within their rights to do so, but surely, a bit of common sense should be adopted by us parents too and to remember that the safety rules are there for a reason.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The Gallery - Expressions

As shown here by Miss C - The "this book is so boring my eyes have glazed over" expression.

As shown here by Wee Z - the "OMG" expression.

This post is for The Gallery - The theme this week is Expressions.

Who needs Masterchef?

It's no secret that I love to cook and to bake and I love doing it with my kids. I used to help my Mum with the cooking and from a young age I can remember cooking bacon sandwiches for my Gran. We also used to buy the fairy cake in a box mix and bake them with my Gran too. Cooking and baking has always been something I love to do and I really want to pass that on to Miss C and Wee Z.

Last week we decided to bake scones. I got the recipe from this gorgeous baking book, The Children's Baking Book, which my Mum bought me when the book people came to visit her office. If you like to bake then I'd definitely check it out. I actually used this book when I made Husband's birthday cake a few years ago. Anyway, we found the recipe for scones and we got set to bake.

Wee Z loved stirring the mix and then rolling out the dough and cutting the scones out with his cookie cutters. Miss C enjoyed putting her hands in the flour and butter mix to make it into fine crumbs. They both helped put the raisins in and eagerly waited for the scones to cook. As soon as they were out the oven, they had theirs with some butter on. They tasted really good but they could have done with rising a bit more. Next time I'll roll them out a bit thicker.

On Friday, as Wee Z was off nursery for half term, he came with Miss C and I to do our food shopping. I couldn't get a double trolley so I asked Wee Z to walk. Usually he would go mad at the very suggestion that he use his legs for anything but having convinced him to help me do the shopping by holding my list, he walked round the supermarket, helping me get all my food. I could see the older shoppers looking and admiring how well behaved he was and I was very proud!

We got ingredients to make a yummy tomato sauce to have with some pasta. Wee Z is a terribly fussy eater, but I thought if I could get him involved with the cooking he'd eat it. He didn't, but Miss C and I enjoyed the fruits of his labour.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Funny things my child says #1

Whilst lying on the couch together, Wee Z turns to me and starts to rub my eyebrows. I had just had them waxed.

"What are you doing to my eyebrow?"

"It's not bushy anymore."

Husband and I were lying in bed on Saturday morning. Miss C was having her morning feed and Wee Z was sitting beside his Daddy. We were watching Cake Boss and they had just made a gorgeous 7 tier wedding cake. Buddy had to stand on a table to build the cake.

"That's great but how are they going to cut it?" Husband comments.

"Simple, they get a knife and then they just cut it!" replies Wee Z.

Wee Z was helping Daddy make a cup of tea. Wee Z was taking the tea bag out the cup and said, "I'm great at tea-bagging."

Wee Z has just moved into a single bed. He does not like his new bed. Either that or he has reached the age where he's going to start giving us trouble at bed time. Tonight, he said "I don't want to go to bed, I have a sore tummy!"

"Do you need a pee?" I ask.

"No, my tummy is sore just for the sake of it."

Honestly, where do they get these things from?!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

This is Me - A Meme

My old schoolie Amy has tagged me to take part in Tara's This is Me meme which involves getting your kids to draw a picture of you and the posting their artwork by means of a photo.

Whilst I started making lunch this afternoon, I got Wee Z and Miss C to draw a picture of Mummy.

This is Wee Z's vision of his Mummy. I have long brown hair, a long thin body (such a nice child) and little short legs which is pretty much spot on. He drew himself beside me and then he drew Miss C and a love heart.

This is Miss C's drawing. She is only 20 months old but there does look like there could be a set of eyes in the picture and a slight turned out smile. When I asked her if that was Mummy she said "NO, Daddy!"

I was going to ask Husband to draw a picture however I feared it may be too inappropriate to share...

Silent Sunday...The Force is strong with this one

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Our Perfect Date

As it was Valentine's Day on Monday, Husband and I went out for a lovely meal last Friday as a treat to ourselves. Finding a babysitter for our 2 is like trying to find a needle in a haystack but we managed and whilst my Father-in-Law stayed with the children, Husband and I got glammed up and headed off to a lovely restaurant. We'd never been there before so we were excited to try it out.

The food was delicious! There was so much to choose from on the menu that I spent a good 10 minutes pondering what to have. I feel you really have to treat yourself to something nice whenever you eat out, especially without the kids, so I like to take my time to decide. When we were driving to the restaurant, I asked Husband how many courses where we going to have, 2 or 3? Three, of course! Does anyone else feel they have to order a starter, a main and a dessert whenever they eat out? You'd never normally eat that much at home!

I had chicken and rice soup, lamb cutlets with fondant potato and veg and honey and vanilla crème brûlée and Husband had chicken liver pate, Gressingham duck with cabbage and sticky toffee pudding. Needless to say we were pretty stuffed afterwards! I was going to take a picture of the food, but then I thought people might think it a bit weird and I didn't want to say "It's for my blog!".

After the meal, we headed home. I was working the next day so didn't want to make it a late night but it was nice just being able to spend time together alone. Sometimes I think when you have kids, you forget about spending time with each other and when you do you are reminded of the reasons why you got together in the first place.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The Gallery - Togetherness

I took this picture last summer when we took the kids to a farm park. I  just wish the cage hadn't been there when I took the photo. I think it really sums up togetherness and it's really cute too.

This post is for The Gallery. The theme this week is Togetherness.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Listography - Top 5 favourite movies

I've told you before how much I love a good list and having seen lots of Listography posts appearing in my reader of late, I thought I'd go check out some of the lists of blogger loves and join in myself. Listography Linky was started by Kate over at Kate Takes 5 when she realised she had lots of lists on the go just before Christmas. Now, every week she posts a topic and encourages other bloggers to take part by writing their top 5 list. What a great idea!

This week the topic is Top 5 Favourite Movies:

  1. Clueless - I can't remember the first time I watched this film but it has been a firm favourite of mine for years. I love Cher and wish I had her life sometimes. A wardrobe with moving rails and a computer to co-ordinate my outfits? Yes please!

  2. Dirty Dancing - Now, I'm fairly new to Dirty Dancing in that I only watched it for the first time a few years ago. Husband couldn't believe I had never seen it and I'm very glad he made me watch it. Patrick Swayze was such a good dancer and my favourite line "I carried a watermelon!" makes me chuckle every time.

  3. Never Been Kissed - I love this film, Drew Barrymore is so funny and it's just a fun movie.

  4. She's All That - Another film I really love! I definitely have a thing about chick flicks with high schools in them I think. It also helps that Freddie Prinze JR is HOT!

  5. The Fast and The Furious - I love the cars in this film, I love the men in this film and I just love, love, love this film.

I could have added another few movies in here like Transformers or Romeo and Juliet. What a hard list!

Valentine's Day

Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
I sure am lucky
To have a Husband like you

Every day you make me smile
Our world is filled with fun
Each day I love you more
I'm glad I found my One

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

My first attempt at a proper Steak Pie

I regularly make steak pie however it's more a steak and sausage stew with puff pastry on the side. My father-in-law gave us the recipe as his steak pie (or steak stew with pastry on the side) is really delicious. The steak is so tender, it just melts in your mouth. I put my own stamp on it by adding in skinless sausages so the kids will eat it too.

I was feeling inspired after watching one of my Jamie at Home DVDs and decided to try and make a proper steak pie. I decided to stick with my own recipe and just add the puff pastry to make it into a proper pie. I use braising steak as it works better and it tastes much nicer too.

Ready to go in the oven!
I cooked my steak with one onion, a few cloves of garlic and skinless sausages. You can add seasoning if you wish. Once I had fried them off, I crumbled a beef stock cube over the meat and added water. Not enough to cover the meat as you should still be able to see it above the water. I let it simmer for about 2 hours and then left it overnight.

I bought puff pastry from the shop and rolled it out myself. I lined the bottom of my casserole dish, spooned in my steak and sausages and then covered the filling with more puff pastry. I scored the pastry lightly and used an egg wash to seal it all together.

Wow, go me!
I cooked the pie in the oven at 180°C for 40 minutes, until the pastry was golden. Put together with some roast potatoes, vegetables and gravy and it was delicious!

Yum yum!

Monday, 7 February 2011

The Mastermind of a 3 year old - Tiredness

We were getting ready to go shopping and upon announcing this to Wee Z, he declared in an all mighty strop, "I don't want to go shopping I'm too tired!"

"You can have a sleep in the car then. That will make you feel better!"

We set off on the 20 minute journey to the shops and Miss C already has heavy eyes...and she's gone. Daddy turns to Wee Z and says "You said you were tired, why don't you go for a nap?"

"Wait Daddy, I left my tired body at home so I'm not tired anymore!"

Quite! If only all us tired mummies and daddies could do that eh?

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Closer to Nature DECT Digital Monitor Review

Husband wasn't too keen on having baby monitors when our children were babies, but I wanted them for that extra reassurance. I'm a heavy sleeper and I often find that I don't hear the kids waking during the night until they are really loud, especially if I know Husband is in the house. He's a light sleeper, so he hears everything! Now the children are older, I don't use monitors often, unless they have been sick or if someone is babysitting.

We have been trying out the new DECT Digital Monitor from the Closer to Nature range by Tommee Tippee. The design is stylish in simple black and white and very modern looking with an LCD display on both units so they are easy to read and use. Why would you need to read them? These monitors include a thermostat that will read the room temperature where your baby is sleeping and relay the temperature to the parent unit. Clever! You can also talk to your baby through the monitor using the talk back button to comfort them whilst you make your way to them.

The great thing about digital monitors over your standard monitors is the clarity. I often hear about people having normal monitors that pick up interference from somewhere else and the sound is easily distorted. I can confirm this from using standard monitors for some time. DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Technology) means you can have a range of up to 300 metres with no interference. If you go out of range, then your parent unit will start to beep every 10 seconds until you become "linked" again with your baby unit.

The monitors were easy to set up and were working within seconds of me switching them on. The monitors have auto-channel select so you don't have to fiddle about saying a one two, a one two into the baby unit until you find the right channel. The baby unit has a night-light which is controlled by the parent unit and that was the only thing I found tricky to set up. You can vary how bright the light is and turn it off altogether without having to go to the baby unit to turn it off. Both units have their own docking stations where they can charge up but they can also be battery operated if needed. Volume control allows you to decide how loud you want the parent unit to be and a sound gage by way of blue lighting on the parent unit lets you see if there is any noise and how loud it is.

The DECT Digital Monitor has a RRP of £64.99 so very competitive with the other digital monitors out there. You can also buy the Tommee Tippee monitors with a Digital Sensor Pad monitor at a cost of £99.99 RRP. The sensor pad allows parents to monitor the movement of their baby in their cot. If no movement is detected within 20 seconds then an alarm would sound to alert the parents. I haven't received the sensor pad so I don't know how well it works but I can see it offering reassurance to parents of newborns.

I was impressed with the monitors and having used monitors in the past I definitely think you need to spend a bit of money if you want to get good, clear monitors. The additional benefits of the built in thermometer and night-light are great too.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Big Chocolate Tea Party

My children are my passion, my life. I don't know where I'd be without them and I'm very lucky that they are both healthy, apart from the odd cold now and again. Which is why I am really happy to write about a wonderful charity event being held throughout the month of April to raise money for The Sick Children's Trust. They believe that no child should be separated from their family whilst in hospital being treated for a serious illness, so they use donations received to provide "home from home" accommodation so the child's family can be near them until they recover.

The Big Chocolate Tea Party is hosting for it's 2nd year this April and proved a huge success last year when the charity raised £14000.00! All you have to do to get involved is host a tea party with plenty of chocolate and send any donations to them.  Easy peasy! There are some gorgeous chocolate recipes on the site courtesy of top chefs Phil Vickery, Gino d'Acampo, Gary Rhodes, Ainsley Harriott and Heston Blumenthai.

Top Hats

My personal favourite chocolate recipe always goes down a treat with kids and adults, in fact I've seen adults push the kids out the way to get to them. These are really easy to make. All you need is a bar of chocolate, a bag of marshmallows and a tube of Smarties. Get mini paper cases because the marshmallows fit much better than regular cake paper cases.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pot of boiling water. Once it's melted you can use a spoon to put a small amount of chocolate in a case. Place a marshmallow in the chocolate filled case and then, using a knife, spread a small amount of chocolate and pop a smartie on the top. Repeat until you've used up all your marshmallows.

The Gallery - Shapes

Where there are shapes there are delicious baked goods...

This post is for The Gallery. The theme this week is Shapes. Go check out the other entries!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Pinch Punch it's the First of the Month!

February is here already?! It seems like only yesterday it was January...ah you know what I mean!

I don't have any major plans for this month. I always find February a rather pointless month what with it only having 28 days and all. The most exciting thing to happen this month will be putting my car in for it's MOT and hoping it passes first time.

We went for a walk to the park today. At least now it is getting closer to Spring we can get outdoors more often. Although with the snow in November and sun splitting the skies in March you never know what you're going to get when you open your curtains every morning. It was a bit chilly so we wrapped up in our coats, scarfs, hats and gloves and took some bread so we could feed the ducks.

It's about a 15 minute walk to the park from our house and Miss C fell asleep as we were crossing the main road to get into the park. She hasn't been sleeping well at all so I wasn't surprised to see her snoring away in her pram, drool trailing for her mouth. Such a pretty girl! It was nice to spend some time with Wee Z though, who was up and down the slide over and over again and asking to be pushed "not too hard" on the swings.

We spent about an hour in the park and after sitting on the bench to feed the ducks we left to come home for a hot cup of tea. Miss C promptly sat straight up in her pram as we walked out the park. Perhaps she was trying to tell me something?

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