The unexpected move

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I've been a bit quiet lately and it is just that I don't know what to write. All my spare time is being spent searching for new houses as we've been given notice to leave our home as our landlord is selling. The decision to sell came totally unexpected for us, we've just finished decorating the kids bedrooms and Gracie's been accepted into Nursery at the school down the road. Now we have two months to find somewhere else to live, get packed up and move out. We are all gutted as this is the house we imagined the kids growing up in, its the place Gracie took her first steps and the place we bought Zach home from hospital too. It's full of so many happy memories and to us is just perfect.

After looking I have found no properties to rent and every one I do find, I'm too late it's already gone. The next few weeks I'll be spending all my spare time looking for houses and packing up all our belongings so won't have much of interest to talk about or even time to write! That and me returning to work next month too. I'll make sure I update and I still have a few reviews and competitions coming up for you all. Then I will be back properly as soon as we are sorted!

Thanks for reading

bath products

Review: Halos N Horns: Putting the fun into bathtime

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

For those who haven't heard of Halos N Horns, it is a range of lovely fruity smelling bathtime products for kids without any nasty unwanted ingredients. The brand was created by a mum whose child had ezcema and would suffer with bad reactions to normal skin products meaning she had to buy expensive alternatives. Now Halos N Horns can be found in most high street retailers at an affordable price for struggling parents.

Gracie has always had sensitive skin and Zach's is even worse so I'm always looking for products that will help. I have tried a few of the Halos N Horns products now and have been amazed at how good they smell considering they are full of friendly ingredients. I've always struggled to find a bubble bath that doesn't irritate the kids' skin but the Halos N Horns baby bath couldn't be more perfect! I was recently sent the Halos N Horns moisturising lotion and the 'toothy fruity' toothpaste to review.

Up until recently getting Gracie to brush her teeth was a daily battle but all of a sudden she loves brushing her teeth so when her 'toothy fruity' toothpaste arrived she was even more excited about brushing her teeth. The toothpaste is pink in colour and smells and tastes like strawberry and banana. Gracie said it tasted 'yummy' which is always good to encourage brushing! I did have to explain to her she was suppose to just brush her teeth and not eat it the first few times though!

The moisturising lotion is non greasy and made with naturally derived moisturisers plus Vitamin E and sunflower oil to leave babys skin feeling soft. Both Gracie & Zach tend to get a lot of dry skin especially on their legs and back. I've been using the moisturising lotion after their baths on their dry areas and not only does it make their skin lovely and soft but it also smells gorgeous! Even my hands smelt great afterwards. I have actually been using it on myself too and I'm so impressed that I'm planning on buying more products from their range to try.

As well as the two products we were sent the Halos N Horns 'Little Book of Holiday Fun' which is a free book available from Halos N Horns. You can request a copy by post or download a copy from their website. The book contains games, activities and tips for good old fashioned fun including; bath time fun, creative fun,surviving car journeys, beach activities and many more!It's a fab little book with lots of fun ideas we can't wait to try!

You can keep up to date with the latest news by liking the Halos N Horns Facebook page or by following the Halos N Horns Twitter page

I was sent the Halos N Horns toothpaste and moisturising lotion free of charge for the purpose of this review but all opinions are my own.

blackout blinds

Review: Lights Out Blinds

Saturday, May 25, 2013

While the British weather is nothing to be celebrating at the moment, we still have a few signs that it should be summer. The light mornings being one. I've been looking recently for anything to help with the sudden 5am starts from the kids. With renting our property I didnt want a fitted blackout blind which would involve making unneccessary holes in walls. This is where the Lights Out Blinds come in.

Lights Out Blinds are portable pop up black out blinds. Each pack contains two blinds, offering a positioning flexibility. Some windows may only need the one blind meaning you can use each of the blinds in different rooms, whereas others may need more than one if the windows are a large size. The blinds are much bigger than I expected measuring 1m x 1.2m. We have very large windows in our house so the blind is slightly smaller than the window. I found that by rotating them I could completely cover the window by sticking them next to each other so that they overlap in the middle and block out all sunlight. I also found that although one blind doesn't completely cover the window it still blocks out a majority of light. When putting one on Zach's window I stood in the hall so I could see the light in his room compared to Gracie's and there was a massive difference. I then decided instead of using both in Zach's room I would give them one each. They are designed to fit any window even recessed windows thanks to the adjustable sucker used to attach to the window.

Two Lights Out Blinds on Zach's window on a very bright day!

The blinds take just seconds to put up and take down. You can see the full demonstration video here. They fold back down into a handy carry bag perfect for storing when travelling. What I love is that by being so lightweight and easily stored they will be a comfort to your baby/child if they are not used to sleeping in a different place. Of course the blinds are not just limited to use for the nursery, they can be beneficial for many situations such as; people who work shifts who struggle to sleep when it's light, for people in rented accommodation with no fixtures/fittings allowed, to darken classrooms when using interactive whiteboard or projectors or even for use in hospitals or hospices making the room calmer for resting.

Lights Out Blind carry bag
These blinds are exactly what I've been looking for and are far better than I could have imagined. Unfortunately they haven't sorted our sleep problems with Zach, which are obviously not from the bright mornings like i'd hoped, but when he screams in the early hours he no longer wakes Gracie with him. Thanks to the dark room she falls straight back to sleep after being disturbed meaning a sleep deprived toddler is one less problem for me now. They also have helped her feel less confused as it is now light at bedtime too. The Lights Out Blinds are definitely a must have item for us now and I will be recommending them to anyone looking for a solution to sleep problems affected by light.

The Lights Out Blinds come in a pack of two for a RRP of £34.99 but I have seen many retailers selling for around £29.99 which is a bargain if you think about how much two pairs of blackout curtains would cost you!

If you keep an eye on my blog I may even have a competition coming very soon ;)

We were sent one pack of Lights Out Blinds free of charge for the purpose of this review but all opinions are my own.

baby feeding accessories

Review: Feeding Time With Munchkin

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I get easily excited by all the new feeding products for babies these days, with all the new innovative products being sold to make lunchtime easy as well as fun, it's hard not too! We were very lucky to have recently received some lovely feeding products from Munchkin which both kids have been testing out this time. With over 20 years in the industry Munchkin have certainly proved their popularity and can be found in a wide range of leading retailers both online and instore. The items we received were a 4 pack of  Stack-A-Bowls with snack lid, a dinosaur deco toddler plate and a pack of six soft tip spoons.

Munchkin soft tip spoons (6 pack)
These are suitable for use from 3 months, so for whenever you start weaning your baby, these spoons are ideal. They are rounded and soft making them gentle on baby's gums. The long handle makes them easy to reach the bottom of jars or containers of baby food, whether its homemade or shop-bought and each pack contains six different bright vibrant colours making them attractive to your baby. I've always found with both of mine that they knew it was dinner time as soon as they spotted the spoon, so the bright colours reaally help make them stand out. Although they are advertised as weaning stage spoons that doesn't mean they are limited to just babies, Gracie has been using them too for her yoghurt and cereals and has had no problem picking up food with them as the tip is fairly sized.

Dinosaur Deco Toddler plate
These are suitable from 6 months, so when you start being more adventurous with textures and introducing snacks. The plate has three sections, one large and two smaller sections, this is to encourage healthy eating habits. They come in four different designs suitable for both boys and girls and there are matching bowls also available. I've recently started giving Zach more snacks to encourage him to try different textured foods, I've been using this plate to put a few different options on for him to pick at and he is loving being trusted with a plate! I usually just stick them on the tray for him. Of course Gracie could't be left out and as the plate is new and exciting she's also been using it for her dinners.I would definitely say the plate is suitable for both babies and toddlers, especially when trying to teach babies to use a plate.
Stack-A-Bowls with snack lid (4 pack)
These are also suitable from 6 months. The set includes 4 x 7oz bowls with spill proof lids and 1 snack catcher lid. These are great as you have two different functions for them they can be used to store food and keep it fresh with the tightly sealed lids or they can be used with the snack catcher lid, which is great for out and about if your child is picking at food and you don't want them to tip the contents everywhere. The lid is a lot softer than I expected making it perfect for little hands to get in and out. Zach hasn't quite realised how to do it yet! but Gracie has been helping him and can get into it perfectly. Although by helping she's also been sneakily stealing his snacks. It's a good job he loves his big sister or she'd be in big trouble!
We were sent the items featured free of charge for review purposes but all opinions are completely my own.

family fun

ODEON Newbies- Taking babies to the movies

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

This week I took Gracie and Zach to the cinema for the first time. I had never done this before incase they didnt like it or made too much noise. It is very rare that I get to go see a new film at the cinema in fact its rare I get to do anything child free. There are many parents that don't have help with childcare so feel that they can't do the things they like to do.

Well my friend text me and asked me if i'd like to go to the 'newbies' thing to watch 'The Great Gatsby' with the kids. How could I say no to a few hours watching Mr Dicaprio on the big screen?! Until this week I hadn't heard about the ODEON Newbies scheme. ODEON Newbies is exclusively for parents and guardians with new babies. You can watch current film releases with your little ones and sit back and enjoy the latest blockbusters - without worrying about them making noise. The volume in Newbies screenings will be slightly quieter and the lights will be raised more than usual, creating a more calming environment for you and your baby and making it easy for you when you are rummaging through your change bag! The screenings are held weekday mornings and all films will be certificate 12A or lower. Tickets are priced as normal with babies going for FREE!

It was lovely to get out and do something different and finally watch a film I wanted to see before it comes out on DVD. Even though it was a long film Gracie felt so grown up sitting in a big seat watching a 'big dvd' and was so well behaved. It was also nice knowing that if your baby was to get upset you wouldn't be being a nuisance. Not that I had to worry Zach slept through the majority of the film and only woke for a bottle and some snacks.

I'm not sure if it is all ODEON cinemas that take part but there is a list of all partcipating cinemas on the website. It's definitely worth looking at if you have a baby or preschooler and want to get out and see a good movie. I'm definitely glad i've now found it and the £5 I paid for a morning out for the three of us was money well spent. 

children reading

Review: Personalised Peppa Pig Book

Sunday, May 19, 2013

As long as I can remember Gracie has been a huge Peppa Pig fan! she has a Peppa bedroom and lots of Peppa toys, clothes and accessories. When Penwizard offered me a personalised book to review, I was so excited to create it and give it to Gracie!

First of all I had to make the book on the penwizard website. I expected this to take a long time but infact took just minutes! All I had to do was pick which book I would like to personalise, I chose Peppa Pig Playgroup Book Once I had chosen the book it was time to do the personalisation. First of all you choose your childs gender and hairstyle, then you have options to change the hair/skin/ eye colour and you can also add glasses if your child wears glasses. You then type in your childs full name and choose  whether you would like the book to say playgroup/preschool/nursery/school and that is it!  I chose nursery as Gracie will be going to nursery in september so thought it fitted perfectly. You can add an optional personalised message on the first page if you like, I didn't only because I wasn't sure what to say, would be great if the book is a gift though as you can say who it is from so they always remember who bought it.

The book arrived just two days later and it is even better than I could have imagined! Gracie was so excited to see she had a new Peppa book so you can imagine her reaction when I told her the little girl on the front was Gracie. That evening she was so excited to go to bed so we could read her new story book. The story was a lot longer than I thought it would be, which of course was a good thing. It wasn't too long to be boring but also wasn't too short like many of her other books. She loved feeling involved in the story with Peppa and her friends and has read the story daily since we received it. It's lovely to see her going to bed so happy every night. I'm already planning on buying her the party book for her birthday.

These books would make the perfect gift for any young child and are just £14.99. I know that sounds expensive for a book but I would definitely pay that for such a special book, the smiles make it worth every penny!

You can purchase this book along with a selection of other lovely books at

we were sent the book featured free of charge for review but all opinions are my own.

Finally Dummy Free!

Monday, May 13, 2013

This past week we managed to do something I thought would never happen... well not for a long time anyway. Gracie has always loved her dummies and has used them as a kind of comforter. She would always have one in her mouth and others hidden in various hiding places around the house!

For a long time i'd been listening to family members moaning about her still having a dummy but had ignored it as it made her feel happy and safe. If she was ever scared or upset all she wanted was her dummy but now that she is 28 months and preparing to go to nursery in september it made sense to start planning to get rid of it.

After reading a thread on facebook which had lots of tips to help remove a child's dummy from parents that have tried and tested, I decided to give it a go. If i'm honest I didn't expect it to work but was willing to try. The next morning when Gracie woke up she accidentally left her dummies upstairs so I decided it was all systems go! When she realised she didn't have one and asked for it I told her that the fairies had taken them to give them to the little babies like Zach. She seemed to like this explanation but then asked a lot that morning for her dummy. Each time I told her the same story again and she seemed happy for a while. After spending the whole morning without one I told her the fairies would buy her a present if she was a big girl without her dummy which got her very excited. She spent the rest of the afternoon saying Tinkerbell was going to buy her a present.

The day was pretty successful but my next worry was bedtime, she had never gone to bed without her dummy before so I decided if she asked that I would tell her the story again but if she got very upset I would let her have it at night time. Night time came and surprisingly I only had to tell her the story once and she went to sleep with no problems and not a sound all night.

The next morning she asked for her dummy once and that was it after I told her the fairy story one last time we haven't heard anything since. She hasn't even tried to steal Zach's!

So thats one thing down. Next is potty training wish me luck!


Proud Mummy Moment: Crawling

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

For a few weeks now Zach has been able to pull himself into the crawling position and even mastered the art of crawling backwards perfectly! Well today he completely suprised me by getting himself up and crawling forward properly! No army crawl or forward shuffling like I expected to start with he just got up and went. Now is the hard part, I forgot what it was like to have a baby crawling around getting into everything they shouldn't have until today but I couldn't be more happy!

end of maternity leave

Returning to work

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Zach is almost 8 months now. I've been lucky enough to have been on maternity leave since August but with my maternity pay finishing next month I need to plan my return to work. It is not easy to return to work after having a baby.

Firstly theres the seperation anxiety, you carried that little life around inside you for around 9 months, you then look after them day in day out until you one day return to work. For some returning to work is a choice, for me I have no option we can't afford to pay our bills on one wage. I would love to stay at home until both kids are at school or even find a well paid job I could do from home that would bring in enough money to put food on the table and keep the house warm.

Secondly, childcare can be a massive issue. Childcare can be so expensive especially for more than one child. To get a full time day job it would cost me all my wages to have someone look after them taking me back to square one. This isn't just a problem for me but one for a large number of parents. With the rise of the retirement age people can no longer turn to the children's grandparents for help with childcare. When I was younger me and my brother, along with our cousins, would all be looked after by my Grandma while are parents were at work. My babies will be working themselves before my parents retire! With no family or friends available to help with childcare me and Andy must work around each others hours so that one of us can look after the kids at all times. We manage to make this work but its at an expense.

baby food

Review: Plum Baby New Savoury Blends Pouches

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

We have recently been sent samples of the new savoury blend pouches of baby food by Plum baby. I was very excited to be given this opportunity as Plum are one of the few companies I have found that have clear labelling to say that they are dairy free. I usually make all my own purees which is great but is not very handy when going out and about so was very happy to try the new plum blends and see how they compare.

Recently Plum polled more than 2000 of their Plum parents online and found that a massive 76% of those parents were worried about keeping their babies from developing a 'sweet tooth'. studies have shown that what we feed our little ones in the first few years can have a real impact on their eating habits for life. This influenced plum to come up with some savoury led blends for early weaning to encourage vegetables into our babies diets early in the hope it will lead to a healthier diet later on in life. The new blends use interesting savoury ingredients such as purple carrot and quinoa, which are bursting with goodness and antioxidants.

The first of the three new flavours is Pear, blueberry and purple carrot, which is an unusual combination but the flavours blend perfectly together. The second is Broccoli and apple, which sounds like a very strange combination but is a great way to introduce babies to the challenging flavour of broccoli. Last but not least is Sweet potato, corn and apple, again sounds unusual but in my experience i've found that sweet potato is always a winner for babies with both of mine loving anything containing sweet potato. Like all Plum recipes these blends contain protein rich quinoa, making them well balanced meals ideal for little ones.

We received two samples of each of the new flavours for Zach to try. The first flavour that he tried turned out to be his favourite and that was the pear, blueberry and purple carrot. This shocked me a bit as I was expecting the sweet potato to be his favourite! Zach is not a small baby and really enjoys his food anyway and just the sight of the pouch and spoon got him very excited. He polished off the whole pouch in no time. Although that flavour was his favourite he still loved the other two. When I've made broccoli for him myself he hasn't liked the texture as it's not easy to make it smooth but he had no problems at all with the broccoli and apple flavour and not a drop of food was wasted in all six pouches!

My favourite thing about plum pouches is that they are so handy for going out. They take up next to no room in a change bag. They are a great size, with just enough food to fill a hungry tummy with no waste and the packets are nice and slim to fit in your bag. The screw on lid is also good if your baby isn't so hungry as it can be just put away until they want the rest. We have found them perfect when going for picnics too. It is hard to find snacks that are guaranteed to be dairy free so while Gracie can eat what she wants I found it easy to give Zach a Plum pouch then put a few little handy snacks on the tray of his Cushi Tush chair for him to snack on while we are eating our picnic food without feeling guilty about him not getting anything nice to eat.

I would definitely recommend Plum pouches to any parent. Whether they are a busy mum who struggles to find time to make up homemade baby foods or even if they are someone who is just on the go a lot and wants something handy for out and about. I would especially recommend them to parents of dairy intolerant babies who like me struggle to find a variety of foods to give their babies. Plum offer great taste and flavour varieties giving babies some fruits and vegetables that they may not neccesarily be given when eating homemade foods. I mean I hadn't even heard of purple carrots before we tested these out! and the combinations in these pouches are none that I would have put together myself. Best of all the easy to read ingredients and information on the back of the pouches proves that these are completely guilt free, no more worrying that by giving your baby shop bought baby food is damaging their health.We will definitely be buying more of these for Zach.

You can find out more about Plum and their products through their Facebook page or on Twitter

We were sent the products featured free of charge for review but all opinions are completely my own.

children's snacks

Sponsored Review: Walkers Hoops and Crosses Lunchbox Snacks

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Over the weekend we received an exciting package from Walkers crisps. Inside the package was a pack of their brand new Roast Beef flavour Hoops and Crosses crisps and an adorable monkey called Monty!

Of course chief food tester in the house is Gracie and i've been trying to prepare her for school in september which will include packed lunches. She loves her sandwiches and will eat anything on wholemeal bread. Now the problem is finding healthy snacks to go with them. This is where Walkers Hoops and Crosses come in.
Walkers Hoops and Crosses come in three different flavours; Roast Beef, Salt & Vinegar and Prawn Cocktail (all three flavours are suitable for vegetarians). Although they come in three popular crisp flavours they are no ordinary crisps. Hoops and crosses are made from wholegrain and contain no artificial colours or preservatives. Each bag contains just 85 calories. The hoops and crosses snacks come in the shape of noughts and crosses making them a fun snack for older kids. Gracie didn't understand the concept as she is too young and the crisps didn't last long enough to be played with but I definitely think it's a great idea! They would make a great healthy alternative for any kids lunch.
Gracie wanted to try them straight away and as it was lunch time anyway we made her up a little picnic lunch to share with Monty the Monkey. Gracie usually loves cheesey or plain crisps so when we received roast beef I wasn't expecting her to be keen. She pulled a face after the first lick but was soon shovelling them down stopping every now and then to give Monty a taste. I managed to sneak one out of the packet while she wasn't looking and it was yummy! Unfortunately it was the only one I got. The pack was the perfect size for Gracie none of the crisps went to waste and she didn't feel the need to ask for another packet once she had finished. She's been asking for 'monkey crisps' every day since so they will definitely be a new addition to our shopping list and will be an essential healthy snack for her lunch box. The only thing I would improve is the choice of flavours by adding cheese or tomato flavours.
Walkers Hoops and Crosses are available from most supermarkets.
I received the products featured free of charge for review and will be receiving payment for writing this post but this has not affected my opininon on the product. All views are completely my own.

bag suitable for cloth nappies

Review: The Miracle Bag- New Milan Changing Bag

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Any parent will know when taking a baby out you end up with what seems like the entire contents of your house with you and it tends to get worse with the more kids you have. Yeah not much of it is really 'essential' but it is guaranteed if you decide to leave something out then that is the day you will need that item more than ever, so it's best to carry everything 'just incase'.