Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Gallery - Animals

I'm not sure if a butterfly counts as an animal since they are insects but they are truly beautiful and I love this shot of a butterfly I took when we went to the Amazonia centre in Scotland. When you go into the room, the butterflies are flying all around you like little rainbows of colour everywhere.

The butterfly reminds of the ugly duckling that turns into a swan. As a caterpillar, he is truly horrible to look at; in my opinion anyways. Wee Z loves them though and was delighted when he found one just outside our garden. One of his favourite books is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and he kept asking when the caterpillar would turn into the beautiful butterfly. He certainly was a big fat caterpillar!

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

Monday, 29 August 2011

Explaining Disability to a Four Year Old

A few days ago, just before bath time, we were watching Charlie and Lola on Cbeebies. Before the show starts, Cerrie, one of the presenters, does a little segment which is based around the show that is about to come on. That night she was doing a jigsaw puzzle of the little dog, Sizzles in Charlie and Lola. If you've never watched Cbeebies then Cerrie has half of her right arm missing. She was born that way. Her being a presenter on Cbeebies featured in the news back in 2009 when some parents felt the need to complain to the BBC that she should not be allowed to present on children's TV.

Wee Z has never once mentioned anything about Cerrie's arm until that night. He said, "Mummy, Cerrie is missing her hand!" I said, "I know." I have to admit I was a bit unsure of how to deal with this, not because I have a problem with disabilities or anything like that but more because I didn't want to make a big deal of it. Does that make sense? Wee Z persisted though asking, "Where is her hand? Why is her hand missing?" So I explained to Wee Z that Cerrie had been born that way however that didn't make her any different as a person from him or me. She was still Cerrie just without a hand.

I don't know if this was the right thing to say; to be honest I can't ever remember having any conversations with my parents about disabilities. My Gran's cousin has down syndrome and we used to visit her often when my sister and I were younger. My Gran and my Mum didn't treat her any differently nor did they behave any differently around her and this set the example for my sister and I.

Since having our talk, Wee Z hasn't said anything more about Cerrie. I hope I didn't come on too strongly with him but I also want to be open and honest with him. I think it's really sad that some parents felt the need to complain about Cerrie being on TV. How small minded can some people be?

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm a fussy cookie eater. I do not like hard, biscuit type cookies; I like the soft, chewy cookies, my favourites being Tesco's Finest white chocolate chunk cookies. They are delicious. Followed closely by Millie's Cookies.

I've attempted my own cookies in the past but they just end up hard and not nice. That was until I found a recipe in my Lorraine Pascale Baking Made Easy book. Well, Wee Z found it when he was browsing through it. He said "Mummy, I want to make these cookies!" I agreed, somewhat reluctantly because, of course, they were going to turn out hard and I would have to throw them out. We made them for the first time a few weeks ago and when I bit into one, well, it was heavenly. The cookie almost melted in my mouth and the kids loved them.Husband declared "They are the best cookies you've made!"

The next time we made them, I read over the ingredients and decided to play about with the chocolate used in the cookies, so here is the recipe I used.

110g butter, softened
200g soft light brown sugar (light muscavado)
1 medium egg
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
165g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
30g cocoa powder (I used Cadburys Bournville)
100g milk chocolate chunks
100g white chocolate chunks

Preheat your oven to 190°C (375°F) Gas Mark 5 and line 2 large baking trays with grease proof paper.

Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and cream together until mixed. Stir in the egg and vanilla and then give it a good mix until all combined. Add the flour, salt, baking powder, the bicarb and cocoa powder and mix until the dough is stiff. Add your chocolate chips and mash everything with a wooden spoon.

This mix makes those giant American-style cookies and you'll get about 8 large cookies from this. Use a spoon to simply dollop some mix onto the baking trays and make sure you leave about 3 or 4 inches between each spoonful. As the cookies bake, they will sink and expand out. Bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes. When you check them at 10 minutes, the cookies should look cracked on top and don't worry that they look very soft and runny. If they haven't cracked or are just cracking, leave them for the remaining 2 minutes and then take them out. They will still be soft and look uncooked but they are supposed to be like that. Leave them to cool on the baking trays and they will quickly harden up.

Then enjoy! I found the cookies really delicious and almost a bit chocolate brownie like. They are quite rich though so one was definitely enough...until later that evening anyway! We had a few left the following day, unlike the first time we made them, and I was very pleased to find they were still soft and chewy on the inside.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Gallery - World Photography Day

Since taking part in The Gallery I've come across some truly stunning pictures. I fear I do not have a creative bone in my body, except when it comes to cupcake decorating and even that's questionable, but I do try to take some nice pictures. Sometimes I get lucky and catch some crackers, like this one that I used for Silent Sunday...

Other times my pictures turn out a complete mess and I quickly hit delete and try again. I'm quite bad for waiting for the shot to be absolutely perfect, especially when I take photos of the kids. With young children that perfect picture rarely happens. One looks away when the other finally looks up to say "cheeeese" and by the time you've got this first one to pay attention the second one has gotten distracted by a dust fleck or something shiny...

The beauty of photography is capturing that shot. The picture that took only one snap to take but creates a life-time of memories. Everything is digital now, which is great because you can delete or print as you want and play about with lighting and colours and effects. However, I do miss the days of camera spools and making sure you had wound the spool up properly when you'd finished your film so it didn't get exposed to light when you took it out your camera and popped it into Boots for a week long developing. The excitement of getting your photos; the joy at seeing your memories and the quick destroying of the evidence of anything horrific or embarrassing.

This post is for The Gallery. The theme this week is World Photography Day.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Listography - Last Week

This week's Listography over at Kate Takes 5 is all about last week. In pictures.

Everything was being potty trained

Baking some delicious cookies

A spot of gardening
Breakfast with friends
A mysterious treasure chest

Friday, 19 August 2011

Potty Training

Potty training can be somewhat daunting. I was definitely freaked out about the idea that I would have to help teach my children how to use the toilet. How would I know when they were ready? Do they just know themselves? Will I have to keep asking them every 5 minutes if they need a wee?

Wee Z being a boy, I thought would be lazy when it came to potty training. He wasn't potty trained until he was 27 months but at that point he learnt to use the potty and the toilet with a toilet seat within 3 days. I probably could have gotten him to do it sooner as he was speaking and understanding what we were saying to him before he was 2. However, as I was as clueless about knowing when he'd be ready as he probably was, I just let him get on with it. We'd let him run about without his nappy on after dinner every evening and had a potty on stand-by. When he eventually started going to use the potty, he was doing it himself without being asked or told and when he finished we made sure we made plenty of fuss over him.

As our method seemed to work so well with Wee Z, I decided to take the same approach with Miss C. She was able to run around nappy free after dinner. She never peed with her nappy off once she was passed the age of 18 months, which is when they say a child starts to recognise bladder control. She wouldn't sit on the potty though. I've heard of kids sitting on the potty reading a book so they get used to the potty but Miss C was not interested. About 2 weeks ago Miss C decided she did not want to wear her nappy at all which was fine by me as it was a miserable wet week. The potty was actually hidden behind the couch and she went and got it herself, sat on the potty and did a pee. Cue plenty of fuss and cheering from Wee Z and I and 2 days later she had cracked it.

The beauty of children is that each child is different and potty training is no exception to the rule. This is why this post isn't just about my children and my potty training experience. There are loads of potty training stories and tips out there. One of the things I've learnt from potty training is knowing when to praise and when to just let it pass. Whenever Miss C uses the potty or the toilet we clap and cheer and have cuddles. She also has a Peppa Pig reward chart which we put stickers on every time she uses the potty. If she has a chart full of stickers then we'll reward her with a small treat. If they have an accident then we don't make a big fuss; simply explain that they need to use the potty for a wee or a poo and leave it at that. Praising them for doing the toilet in the potty makes them realise that they get praise and attention when they do something good.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Back To Nursery

Hurrah! Today was Wee Z's first day back to nursery which he has been looking forward to since before they broke up from nursery in June. Bless him, he loves his nursery.

The nursery he goes to offers a split session for 3 years old which means they either get 3 days or 2 days. Wee Z had 2 mornings however now he is 4 he gets to go to nursery 5 mornings. He has been asking to go for 5 mornings for ages and has been counting down the sleeps until today when he, finally, became a BIG nursery boy.

Sadly, with shift changes at work I won't be able to take him to nursery everyday. I'll be able to take him every Friday and then every second Thursday and Husband will take him the rest of the time. I suppose it will be good to hear all about his day though when I get in from work.

Like today when he told me he had "homework".

I didn't think they'd get homework at nursery and was somewhat relieved when I saw it was simply an 'All About Me' leaflet he had to fill in. I'm not ready for sums and stuff...I need to brush up on my skills first. Wee Z was really excited to get stuck in though (I'm sure that may not be the case in years to come) and we sat together and filled in his booklet. He filled it in all by himself and only needed me to help with his spellings.

As well as my little boy starting back at nursery, Miss C is going to start going to playgroup once a week. She's never benefited from a Mother and Toddler group like Wee Z did so I think going to a playgroup and socialising with other children aside from her brother and her few friends she has, will be really good for her.

Both my babies are growing up so fast! I may need to borrow Miss Baby K for awhile to be reminded of how hard the baby stage is or Husband could be in trouble.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Gallery - Black and White

This is one of my favourite black and white pictures as it is of me when I was carrying Wee Z in my massive tummy. At that point I was about 35 weeks pregnant and feeling the size of a family saloon. I loved being pregnant though and often miss my baby bump. At least I have this photo to remind me of my baby who I carried for 40 weeks + 2 days.

This post is for The Gallery. The theme this week is Black and White.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Listography - Guilty Pleasures

I haven't taken part in Kate's Listography in awhile but having a fair few guilty pleasures myself, I knew I had to take part this week. Unfortunately it is limited to five...!

Cake Boss - I love this show so much. I don't know if it is because I love cake so much or whether I love pastries so much or whether I love Italians so much. I just love it.

America and Britain's Next Top Model - I've watched ANTM since it first started and god do I have a crush on Nigel Barker. I love the makeovers, I love the photo-shoots and I love the Jays. I'm loving BNTM this series already and I think Elle McPherson is FAB!

Buttercream - Probably a lot to do with the fact that I love cake. Whenever we make cupcakes I have to lick the spoon and the bowl and basically anything with buttercream on it.

Tom Hardy - The man is just gorgeous - that is reason enough.

Body butters - I love body butters especially The Body Shop ones. They smell delicious and feel really lovely on your skin. I use them as a treat after a bubble bath.

Images taken from Photobucket or Google Image search

She's Only Gone and Cracked It

I was planning on documenting my potty training experience with Miss C as I thought she may take a little while to perfect it but Miss C had other ideas. Miss C is now potty trained; after 2 days.

Last week Miss C decided she didn't want to wear her nappy as we were getting dressed and as it was a particularly wet day, I knew we'd be in all day so I allowed her to run about bare bum. Within 20 minutes she sat on the potty and did a pee. Cue lots of clapping and cheering and Miss C was delighted with herself. There has been one accident on the trampoline - more due to excitement than weak pelvic floors I think - and that has been her. No nappies during the day. She's still wearing night time nappies as her nappies are still wet when she wakes up but I have noticed they are slightly drier in the morning and she's been asking to have them straight off when she wakes up.

What has been lovely through her potty training is seeing her reaction to Wee Z who has taken a great interest and is the first to run up and cheer her on for doing a pee in the potty or the toilet. She beams with pride up at him and I think his involvement has really pushed her to pick it up so quickly. She just wants to be like her big brother.

I always dreaded potty training when Wee Z was a baby as I couldn't imagine being able to get him to actually go to the toilet himself. Like with Miss C, I let Wee Z decide when he was ready to go to the toilet himself and he cracked potty training within 3 days. He's still wet at night but I have read that boys can take slightly longer to be dry at night so again, I'll let him choose when he is ready.

So now it seems my baby days really are coming to an end. I'm a bit sad to see my little girl giving up her baby traits and becoming more and more child like everyday but I'm also so proud of the great job she has done.

Now to potty train the cat

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Vanilla, Strawberry, Butterscotch - Cupcakes

A few weeks ago I came across The Cupcake Queen blog which is written by Kelly, a busy mum of 5 who also bakes and sells delicious looking cupcakes and cakes. Kelly also gives some great advice on her blog on using various cake decorating tools and shares some yummy recipes. I recently won the Jane Asher Cakes for Fun book on her blog and the kids and I have loved looking through the book choosing cakes to try out.

Kelly shared a recipe for cupcakes with Askey's new butterscotch flavour treat sauce and I just had to try them out. As you may know I LOVE cakes and I LOVE baking. I used my own cupcake recipe as it makes 12 instead of 24 using Kelly's recipe and just adjusted the butterscotch quantities. I also used Tesco's own butterscotch sauce as I couldn't find Askey's stuff anywhere. We made one half of the mix as just vanilla cupcakes with the butterscotch icing and then the other half of the mix had the butterscotch in the sponge. They turned out fab and were really, really scrummy. Thanks for the fab recipe Kelly!

I then decided to get creative with some strawberry sauce and made vanilla cupcakes with strawberry buttercream. I know you can use pureed fresh strawberries to make a nice strawberry buttercream but strawberry sauce makes a good substitute when strawberries aren't in season. Or if, like me, you are feeling lazy!

For vanilla cupcakes you'll need:

150g (5 oz) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
150g (5 oz) caster sugar
175g (6 oz) self-raising flour
3 eggs (medium sized) at room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C (350°F) or Gas Mark 4. This recipe makes 12 cupcakes. Place all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric whisk for 1-2 minutes until light and creamy. Divide the mixture equally between the cases. Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes until risen and just firm to touch. Place them on to a wire rack to cool.

For buttercream you'll need:

150g (5 oz) unsalted butter, softened
250g (8 oz) icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons hot water

Put the butter and icing sugar in a bowl and beat well with a wooden spoon or hand-held electric whisk until smooth and creamy. I tend to start with a wooden spoon so the icing sugar is combined a bit before I whisk it together to try and save the sugar dust going everywhere. Add the water and vanilla extract and beat again until smooth. Before beating add your flavour choice whether it be the butterscotch or strawberry sauce. I found I needed about 3 tablespoons of strawberry sauce but you can add to your own preferred taste. Use a piping bag and nozzle to pipe the icing on or just spread it on with a knife. We used pink glimmer to decorate our strawberry cupcakes but you could use silver balls or edible glitter - whatever take your fancy! Then...Enjoy!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

It's Raining It's Pouring

I'm thinking that our short lived sunshine spell has come to an end and been replaced with dark skies and heavy downpours. Actually, sitting in work last night I had that "gosh it's going to be Christmas soon" feeling. It's only August!

There are only so many activities you can do with your kids when it's raining outside. We've done them all this week: drawing, colouring, baking, building, jigsaws. Yesterday as a treat we watched Monsters Inc on DVD all snuggled up under Wee Z's duvet. I've thought about taking them out to a soft play but I just can't face the idea of crowds of children with parents who had the same idea. Nor do I agree with paying their higher prices when the schools are out.

Clearly Wee Z and Miss C are fed up with the colouring and the puzzles and spent 2 HOURS this afternoon going through my cookbooks. Wee Z chose to read Lorraine Pascale's Baking Made Easy whilst Miss C went for Annabel Karmel's Top 100 Pasta Dishes. Wee Z was almost salivating over the cakes and pastries (clearly he takes after me!) and Miss C was shouting "Mummy look" and ooooing at the various pasta shapes and dishes. So if you are stuck for ideas look no further than your cookbook cupboard!

I wonder if I have a couple of budding masterchefs in the making?!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The Gallery - Water

Water. Something we truly take for granted.

Whenever we need a drink we simply turn on the tap. We have a drink. Clean water. Sometimes we take too much and pour it down the sink.

In the morning I have a shower and although it may only last 2 or 3 minutes, I don't think about not being able to have a shower. I just have one. At night the kids have a bath and again we don't think about the water, we just run the bath and clean our children.

I know I can turn on my tap and have running water. I'd never considered that a luxury, just a basic human right.

At the moment, east Africa is suffering one of the worst droughts in around 60 years. There has been no rainfall in the last 2 years and none expected until at least November which is leaving millions of people starving. Without rain they can't grow crops nor can their livestock survive. Not enough aid is getting through to the countries that are so badly affected by this drought; Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti. In Somalia at least 6 in every 10000 children are dying everyday. They don't have the basic human right of running water.

This isn't a sponsored post and I haven't been asked to write this for awareness by anyone either. The Gallery theme this week is Water and it felt appropriate to me. Sometimes we forget just how lucky we are which is why things like the riots at the moment make me feel so embarrassed and ashamed. There are bigger problems out there.

You can donate to the Disasters Emergency Committee who are providing through donations as much aid as they possibly can.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Who Are You Supposed To Be Then?

A few weekends ago my friends and I got all dressed up in 80s fancy dress and took ourselves out on the town for Mama N’s hen night. I love fancy dress though I prefer to go out and buy a costume rather than spending time trying to be creative and make one myself.

Some of the best nights I’ve had have been where fancy dress has been involved. This year Husband and I were invited to a fancy dress party, again with the 80s theme, and Husband went as Robocop. There were some great costumes on show such as Bananaman and Big Bird. My favourite had to be Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars. It was great fun trying to guess who was hiding behind which costume.

Of course every year we break out the Halloween costumes and have a party for the kids where they get to eat lots of sweets and wear adorable outfits that, most of the time, don’t look scary. The kids love getting dressed up too. One of the best Halloween costumes I saw was a kangaroo costume my friend had for her little girl. It was really cute. Last year Miss C was a fairy princess, Wee Z was a policeman and Husband was Darth Vader. You should have seen the looks we got walking up the

My all time favourite dress up moment was New Year when I was about 14. We were staying with my Dad for the festivities and whilst we were all dressed up in our posh outfits to bring in the bells, my Dad opted for full 70s fancy dress complete with big black afro, a psychedelic shirt, white flares and black platform shoes. He even had the fake moustache and rose-tinted specs. He looked fab! If only I had some photos to show you.

My next fancy dress party is for Best Friend’s birthday in a couple of months. The theme is the 80s again although I think I may have exhausted my tutu and legwarmers this year. I’m thinking maybe Wonder woman or maybe a bit more punk rocker?!

Featured post

Friday, 5 August 2011

Little People Zoo from Fisher-Price

Little People Zoo from Fisher- Price is a new range suitable for children aged 18+ months. We received the Zoo Talkers Animal Sounds Zoo to review. 

Fisher-Price has opened its doors at Gatwick airport to bring passengers with young families a fun lounge for their children to enjoy whilst they are waiting for their flights. The lounge will feature lots of Fisher-Price toys and a shop and hopefully it will be a place where kids (up to the age of 5) can come and play whilst their parents enjoy a bit of peace. I can remember waiting in airports when I was younger and after awhile my sister and I would begin to fidget and become bored with just sitting and waiting for our plane. Having a play area or games room would have made our journey (and my parents’ journey) a lot less frustrating! The play area is open now and will remain open until October 28th 2011. It’s also free of charge!

The zoo arrived in a huge box which caused much excitement between Miss C and Wee Z. As I pulled the toy out of the box they were ooohing and aaahing and jumping around clapping their hands. Bright coloured boxes tend to have that affect on them!
The zoo comes flat packed so I searched for my screwdriver (Husband’s actually!) and had a quick read over the instructions. They were easy enough to follow although it took me a good 10 minutes to piece it all together...nothing like some toddler help when you’re assembling things. Wee Z helped me by putting all the stickers on on his own and then we were good to play.

Once assembled the zoo looks like a lot of fun. It requires 3 AA batteries (which are not included!) so that you can hear the animal sounds and the zoo keeper. The box shows you all the animals you can collect separately for the zoo as the set only comes with 3 animals, a lion, a polar bear and a gorilla and a zoo keeper. That was really my only criticism of the toy; more animals included please. The individual animals are available to buy at around £3 each whilst this zoo is priced at around £40. With around 8 animals to collect you’re looking at spending almost £70 on this toy and all the extras.

The zoo has a lovely blue slide for the polar bear to slide down, trees where the gorilla can relax and a green area for the lion to keep an eye on his jungle. Wee Z loved the slide and soon had a number of toys sliding down it whilst Casper, the kitten, tried to catch them at the bottom. Miss C’s favourite part was the swinging canopy for the gorilla to sleep in. She had him going at some speed! That was my favourite part too and I wouldn’t mind one of those in my own tree. The animals have holes in the bottom of them which when placed on a circular red platform and pushed down tells your child what animal it is and then it makes the noise of that animal. The toy is designed to help your child to learn about the animals and the noises they make. It took me a minute to figure that out though as I bashed the red button saying “why won’t you work??!!”

The toy is plastic but sturdy once put together and seems well made. It’s colourful and has lots of bits to play with. Miss C and Wee Z sat together and played with it and seemed to really enjoy it. At around £40 I’d say that it was probably a fair enough price to pay for a Christmas or birthday present but I’d be looking out for any deals to get the rest of the animals with it. 
We received the Little People Zoo for the purposes of a review. This opinions expressed in this post are of my own.

Breastfeeding Tips

I received a few breastfeeding tips in an email at the beginning of this week because it's World Breastfeeding Week. These tips come from Dr Alan Greene, who is a paediatrician in America.

  • With a colicky baby try eliminating cow's milk from your diet. You can also try avoiding cheese, ice cream, yogurt, puddings, custards, cream sauces and butter.
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. This will help increase your milk supply.
  • Make sure you are getting the recommended daily amount of vitamins and minerals.
  • Don't feed your baby more often that every hour and a half to two hours. Your baby may want to eat more often but you will not have the milk she needs in less than an hour and a half (from start time to start time.)

You're only an expert at feeding your own baby but tips along the way can be useful and whilst I had heard of a few of the tips Dr Greene offers, I never knew that dairy might cause colic. I was also led to believe that you should be feeding on demand to encourage your milk supply to match your baby's appetite.

I though of a few of my own tips from my own experience but again, this was just my experience with Miss C. Breastfeeding Support Groups (BSG) are a great source for tips and advice or just for somewhere to meet other breastfeeding mums. I also used the Internet alot by watching videos and reading articles and information on parenting websites.

  • Relax - Easy to say I know, because for the first few weeks you feel like you can't do anything.
  • Take each feed as it comes
  • Use a good nipple cream - I swore by Lanisoh which my Mum recommended to me from when she used to breastfeed
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Don't be scared to ask for help - This is where places like your BSG comes in really handy. They are real mothers who have breastfed or are breastfeeding
  • Sleep when your baby is sleeping - If you can and to be fair I don't think this just applies to breastfeeding mums
  • Persevere - The first month or so is demanding but if you can keep at it that's the hardest bit past
Of course I have now stopped breastfeeding which I wrote about 2 months ago but I'm very proud of myself for doing it. Why should I be proud of myself? Surely I've done what nature intended me to do. Well yes I suppose, but just because it is natural doesn't always make it easy.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Those Cakes Are Pyjamas!

This is a guest review from my Sister who reviewed the pyjamas with Miss Baby K.

BabyBlooms is a company specialising in innovative gift ideas for new parents. Their unique selling point is that they produce ‘cakes’ and ‘bouquets’ created with their own brand of baby clothing.

I was asked to review their popular “Baby Cake Pyjamas”, which I found delightful! The “cakes” arrived in a lovely colourful box, adorned with little cupcakes and had a little window in which to behold the sumptuous-looking pyjamas!

The presentation was gorgeous! BabyBlooms clearly pride themselves on providing quality products. The box was lovely and it was wrapped up in a nice bow - very pretty and cute, which is appropriate when it comes to giving gifts for a new baby. I was actually quite excited when I saw the “cakes” as they looked very real and quite delicious. I know that if I had unexpectedly received them as a gift I would have been very pleased!

Once out of the packaging I had a good look at the pyjamas. They appeared to be well-made (100% cotton) and felt nice to the touch; not too thin, not too thick; just right for those cool nights with blankets, or those warmer ones without.

I received the cream coloured pyjamas, though pink and blue varieties are also available. I would say that this is my only criticism: the design is very bland and as a stand-alone pyjama set, very average. I don’t think I would pick them off the shelf had they been on display without the novel cupcake presentation.

The sizes available are 0-6 months, which I had, and 6-12 months, so they will last for a good while, however the 0-6 months are quite large and would probably swallow up a new born. You could continue to enjoy the “cakes” for a few months before use. My little girl is nearly 4 months and they fit nicely with room to grow. She seemed comfortable in them and stayed warm in them, despite kicking off her blankets.

They washed well at 40 degrees and retained all of their original softness and colour.

The “Cup cakes” cost £14.99, which both my partner and I agree was a fair price to pay as a gift. The pyjamas themselves I wouldn't say are worth that, however I would certainly buy a gift set for someone I knew. The product is so well thought out and beautifully presented.

Definitely go and check out the website as their other products look amazing! I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like it before. I was very impressed!

I received the Baby Cakes Neutral Cupcake pyjama set for purposes of a review. The opinions in the post are my own. 

My Breastfeeding Journey - A Guest Post

This post is written by my Sister, mummy to Miss Baby K.

This week is Breastfeeding Awareness Week, and as a new breastfeeding mother, my sister asked me to write an account of my experiences of breastfeeding.

Before getting pregnant, I’d have never thought that there was a need for raising awareness about breastfeeding. For me, breastfeeding is the way you feed a baby; it was how I was raised. I remember my Mum used to always encourage my sister and I to breastfeed our own babies when we had them; proudly boasting that the reason we were rarely unwell was due to being breastfed.
However, when I was pregnant I began to realise that breastfeeding was not necessarily the common way to feed a baby. I remember everyone I spoke to would ask “How are you going to feed her?” which I found strange. Surely all women set out to breastfeed, I couldn't understand why someone would choose not to breastfeed. I then came across a scary statistic. Although the majority of women begin motherhood with breastfeeding, over 70% will have abandoned it by the time their baby is 6 weeks old. This shocked me! I couldn't understand why so many women decided to not breastfeed.

I started asking others what their opinion was. I found that very few people I knew had successfully breastfed their children; most had found it too painful and demanding, some had said they didn’t make enough milk for the baby whilst some said it was simply because they didn’t want to do all the hard work and wanted their partners to share the responsibility of feeding. In fact, I had friends telling me not to breastfeed as I would lose my independence and my partner would get an easy time of it! I even had my partner’s mother ask me if I had bought bottles and sterilising equipment, to which I replied that I was going to breastfeed. She looked very doubtful and said “It’s not that easy, the baby probably won’t latch on, mine never did.” I must say I was very disheartened and started to panic that I would not be able to breastfeed.

Of course I knew that a lot of women formula-fed their baby as breastfeeding was difficult, but I somehow never considered the fact that I would have problems myself. I simply assumed that I wanted to breastfeed so I would breastfeed.

I found breastfeeding difficult for the first week; it was very painful, despite what all the books say. I truly believe the phrase “If it hurts you’re doing it wrong” should be banned! I was exhausted and frustrated as I was the sole provider for my baby. I was up every 2 hours at night, I was stranded on the sofa for hours at a time, unable to move because of my baby, my nipples were raw and bleeding - nobody else, just me. It was a difficult time; I now understand why women give up. Breastfeeding is like a full-time job! However, I was determined and had wonderful support from my family as well as a brilliant Breastfeeding Support Group around the corner.

These support groups are incredible, I can’t praise them enough! They are real nursing mothers. They've been there, they knew how I felt. Their advice was invaluable to me and got me through the first (the worst) week. I found that the midwives I spoke to all had different opinions on breastfeeding. The advice, although well meant, was very confusing. And it was particularly annoying to have a midwife commenting on your latch when she had never had a baby herself. “It shouldn't hurt you; if it does she’s not on properly.” Eh...and you know what it’s supposed to feel like do you??

I don’t think we need to raise awareness on the benefits of breastfeeding, I believe everyone knows that breast is best; it’s just that women aren't being given the right information. Women need to be made aware of the realities of breastfeeding. Its hard work, it hurts at first, it can take a good few weeks to get into a routine and it is as demanding as a full-time job in the beginning. But it is so worth it! When people say to me “I can’t believe how big she is, she’s piling weight on!” I can’t help but feel very proud of myself. My baby girl is now 15 weeks old and exclusively breastfed. I absolutely love breastfeeding her. I find it extremely rewarding to see her gaining so much weight; knowing that I did it all by myself.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Gallery - Birth

Bringing you in to the world
Was scary and surreal
Nothing could have prepared me for
The pain that I would feel

The hours of contractions
The tightening in my tummy
My back and bum were on fire
And I was screaming for my Mummy

Where's the gas and air?
Get me some pain relief
I feel like I'm going to crap myself
Get this baby out good grief

Your Daddy is looking terrified
He doesn't know what to do
They're offering him a cup of tea
Milk and sugar? One spoon or two?

I really need to push now
There is no stopping you or me
Get your gloves on now midwife
Put down that cup of tea

Here come the head and shoulders
Your baby is about to be born
Concentrate on breathing then pant
You don't want your bits torn

Then everything just stops
The pain is all away
The only sound that fills the room
Is your cry on your birth day

I can't believe we made you
I can't believe I just gave birth
I'm falling in love all over again
And the pain for you it was all worth

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

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Breastfeeding - Getting The Hang of It

One of the hardest things I found about breastfeeding was the demand for feeding. In the first few weeks I felt like Miss C was permanently attached to me and it seemed to pass by in a haze. I was lucky that Husband had his 2 weeks paternity leave followed by 2 weeks holiday which meant he was there to help look after Wee Z and I could focus on Miss C and myself. Of course when he went back to work, Miss C was still feeding almost every 2 and a half hours and not sleeping through the night whilst Wee Z decided he wanted to start potty training.

Every week Miss C was gaining weight and only lost 2oz from her birth weight in her first week. It was those weight gains that spurred me on, kept me going when at times I felt so tired and so emotional that I wanted to just give up. It was the most rewarding feeling knowing that I was helping her put on weight by feeding her myself. With Wee Z bottle feeding, I could see how much milk he was taking so I knew when he was full because I could see how much milk he was taking. With breastfeeding I had no idea how much milk she was taking and I really had to pick up from Miss C's cues. As the months went on it became easier to tell and eventually I knew when she was just using me for comfort and when she was actually hungry.

Routine is something I swear by and I was keen to introduce a routine as quickly as possible with both my children. This was easier said than done with Miss C as she had other ideas. In my post Mummy Goes It Alone I wrote about my typical routine before Miss C started weaning. She was almost 6 months at this point. Just looking at it now makes me feel exhausted:

6.30 - Morning feed which can last about 45 minutes
8.30 - 2nd feed which can last about 25 minutes
11.00 - 3rd feed, depends on her how long this lasts sometimes it's 20 minutes other times it can be as long as 45 minutes
1.30 - Lunch time feed, lasts about 30 minutes
4.00 - Tea time feed, lasts about 40 minutes
6.00/6.15 - Supper feed, lasts about 20 minutes
7.45/8.00 - Bed time feed, lasts about 45 minutes

In between that I would play with Wee Z, make sure he was fed, watered and clothed and did my housework. Phew! It isn't easy being a Mum.

Greedy little madam!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Revisitng Breastfeeding

As it's World Breastfeeding Week from today until August 6th I'm revisiting some of my old breastfeeding posts since I'm no longer breastfeeding. My sister has also agreed to write a guest post about her experience of breastfeeding as a first time mum. These posts aren't really meant as advice and of course, we're only experts at feeding our own children but I definitely found that there wasn't a lot of support for me when it came to breastfeeding (and bottle feeding) so reading about other women's experiences really helped me.

I've definitely seen a fair few posts about both breastfeeding and bottle feeding and I've always maintained that it is a woman's choice how she choices to feed her baby. My post Breast Vs Bottle - Just my Story was written on my blog on 25th July 2009.

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