Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Top tips for flying with a toddler

Travelling with a toddler *screeeam*. No wait, it's not that bad. Or at least it doesn't have to be. Having lived in China for three years we were often flying backwards and forwards to the UK and elsewhere and what started out as a ramshackle make-shift affair eventually became a military operation. Our last holiday abroad was to Walt Disney World in Florida and I finally managed to put all our experience into action. So here's my top tips for flying with a toddler:

#1. Request a booster seat.
If you're flying with Virgin Atlantic request a booster seat that comes with a 5 point car-seat style harness (and if you're not flying VA it's worth checking with your airline if they offer the same service). The booster lifts a small toddler up high enough to be able to see the seat-back television screen and keeps them snugly secure during the flight. As the harness is something that Curly Girl is used to wearing in the car she settled right in. It also has the bonus of not being able to be undone by little hands so that you can rest easy if they, and therefore you, decide to take a nap.

#2. Prepare a goody bag.
A goody bag is an essential piece of kit to take with you on the flight. Even the most tv fixated toddler gets bored of wall-to-wall cartoons so a goody bag of small, inexpensive toys can provide a welcome distraction. I also add in a few old favourites that I sneakily hide away for a few days. Seeing them again is like meeting an old friend! I tend to ration Curly Girl to a few toys each hour and usually have enough left over to use as emergency toys throughout the holiday. On our trip to Disneyland Orlando, the goody bag included:
  • two small bean bag Disney characters (we bought a set from Disneystore before we left and gave her one each morning before we set off to the Disney parks, much cheaper than buying the toys in the gift shops) 
  • sheets of different stickers 
  • wirebound plain paper A5 pad for scribbling and sticker sticking 
  • pack of washable crayons (don't need sharpening) 
  • - when you turn them over they make a picture of Thomas = instant puzzle 

#3. Take familiar food with you.
If your holidays are anything like ours they start with a very early start indeed. Curl Girl ate her breakfast an hour earlier than normal on our last trip and was hungry again by 10am. So I packed a bag with (fairly) healthy snacks (yoghurt raisins, breadsticks etc) that she could graze on while we were on the road and at the airport. Once on board the plane it's usually a good two ours before the first meal is served (and with Curly Girl there's no guarantee that she'll eat anything the airline supplies) so I also packed a mini-lunch for her with toast, a fruit pouch, banana, custard pot, crackers and cream cheese so that she could eat when she needed to. Getting over-hungry and over-tired are the two main factors in toddler melt-downs on flights in my experience. Unfortunately there's usually too much going on for Curly Girl to nap when we're travelling but as soon as we arrive at our destination I try to get her straight into the new time zone and back on schedule. It can take a day or so but it's worth it for everyone to get a good night's sleep when there's so much excitement during the day.

#4. Relax the rules.
Ok so I don't let Curly Girl watch too much television at home. And chocolate isn't an every day staple food. And that's fab when we're at home in a familiar environment with all things being equal. But when you're travelling all things are most definitely NOT equal. I'm not suggesting relaxing ALL the rules (as I mentioned above I believe that maintaining as much of our normal bedtime routine as possible is important to give some stability) but we do flex 'em a bit. So a bit more tv than usual is cool and the treats are, well, a bit more abundant than normal too. But that's what being on holiday is all about.

BUT - as soon as we're back at home the schedule is back with a vengence. I try really hard to get everything back to normal as soon as possible and Curly Girl feels secure that she's home again where she knows what happens when. It's not for everyone, but it works for us.

Do you have any top tips for travelling with toddlers? Or with a toddler and a baby? I'd love to hear them - leave me a comment below!


Monday, 25 June 2012

I was analysed at Brit Mums Live

BritMums Live! 2012 

I'm sure you've already read a dozen or so posts about this weekend's Brit Mums Live conference at the Brewery in London. I won't bore you with more tales of how wonderful it was (it was!) or how amazing it was to finally meet the lovely peeps that I've been chatting to virtually for up to two years (Rachel from Mid 30s Life, Michelle from , Louise from Team Lloyd, Hayley from Downs Side Up, Spencer aka , Fran from Mother Venting, Tinuke from Circus Mums, and so, so many more - squeeeal!) or how scary and then releasing it was to finally 'come out' in the blogging world and allow people to put a face to an anonymous blog (eeeeek!). I won't mention how brilliant Sarah Brown was *nods* or how sad I was to miss Ruby Wax and the Brilliance in Blogging Awards ceremony on Friday as I didn't arrive until Saturday *sniff*.

Nope, none of that from me.

In fact, I skipped one of the sessions that I was planning to go to (accounting for bloggers - can I steal the notes from anyone please?) and instead had my handwriting analysed by the fascinating Ruth Myers on the Cuticura stand. Ruth is a Forensic Handwriting Expert who has worked for the crown prosecution service analysing suspect documents - coo! - and check out her celebrity signature analysis. Interesting stuff.

First Ruth measured my emotional foundation and how I react to life (gulp). She studied the paragraphs I'd penned and summised that I'm logical, non-judgemental and fair. So far so good. She said I had rather large writing which shows a broad perspective on life and on the repercussions of my decisions, a low boredom threshold and a need for variety. That is SO me. Repercussions? I study them for hours people, hours. Drives OH insane.

Next she looked at the slope of my writing, it's angular apparently, which shows that 'yours is the reason why', I have an investigative mind. True I suppose, I'm always interested in the background to things (Marmite for example, how the heck did that come about?).

In terms of my goals she said they are practical to high, although my willpower isn't always 100%, and I have an optimistic attitude to success. I like to take control and lead others (in other words I'm bossy, correct) and appear to be extravert while keeping things hidden. I'm guarded and secretive too apparently, but shhhhh don't tell anyone.

She also told me that I'm not competitive (also true) and assertive without being aggressive (yes I was particularly assertive with the guy who cut me up the other day). 'You don't want to succeed at the expense of others' she said. Quite so.

The way that I write my 'd's' shows that I'm stubborn despite all attempts at logic and reason (am not!). I'm apparently also determined, reliable, conscientious and individualistic. Who knew?

And guess what, I'm a people person. Well, one look at me randomly hugging people I've never actually met before on Saturday could have told you that.

So who am I really? Am I the sum of all these things? Yes I suppose I am. And more, I hope. It was fascinating having my handwriting analysed by Ruth. Thanks to Cuticura for bringing her along.

Finally I'd like to share with you a nugget that I took from the wonderfully 'real' and honest Sarah Brown who did the Keynote speech on Saturday. It really struck a chord with me and with the rise of cyber bullying or 'trolling' it's a keeper:
"However the world tweets you, don't let it change the way you tweet the world."
Wise words indeed. 

See you at Britmumslive 2013. I'm already planning my trip.

Images courtesy of britmumslive and Ruth

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Silent Sunday

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Saturday, 23 June 2012

Bumplog: using my lady lumps again

Before Curly Girl was born I was convinced that I'd be a veritable Earth Mother and that all things motherhood including breastfeeding would come easily to me. How diluded was I? I blame the hormones. Fact is that breastfeeding didn't come naturally to us at all. Perhaps it was because Curly Girl was premature and oh-so-tiny, perhaps her stomach wasn't developed enough to digest much milk in each sitting, perhaps I was too stressed-up-to-the-eyeballs and sleep deprived with feeds every two hours around the clock to relax properly. Who knows. Whatever the reason we struggled. Lots. With no health visitor system in China we eventually employed an expat retired UK health visitor to come and watch us feeding and give me advise. Thankfully she didn't stop there and after the first aborted feed she manhandled the two of us into a properly latched position. I can't thank her enough for the invaluable support she gave us in those early days. We went on to continue breastfeeding successfully and finally weaned Curly Girl at sixteen months.

But in a cruel twist of mother nature's fate I've forgotten (or more likely blocked out) a lot of those early, difficult times and now feel like I'm almost back to square one. I definitely want to breastfeed peanut and so with plenty of time until he comes along in November (or there abouts) I've decided to do some proper preparation this time around. So it was fortuitous that I read the excellent Six Ways To Prepare For Breastfeeding from Adele over at Circus Queen and I immediately ordered her recommended reading - 'The Food Of Love' by Kate Evans. Now I expected to smile or perhaps chuckle a bit thanks to Adele and others' reviews but I wasn't prepared to snort my decaf coffee down my nose at six o'clock in the morning. Not pleasant but hellishly funny.

'The Food Of Love' is not all mirth (although the cartoons of feeding positions are side-splittingly good, and familiar for a second time mum!) and so far I've bookmarked a number of pages of advice and guidance that I want to read again when the time comes. It's also causing me to flip-flop between approaches - from Gina Ford's routines (veritable cocaine to a type A certified list maker like me) to burning my bra and going with the flow, quite literally. We'll probably end up with a combination of the two, with lots of advice from my lovely Mummy friends thrown in for good measure, but for now it's enough to know that I'm arming myself with some knowledge for this second breastfeeding adventure.


Thursday, 21 June 2012

#BritMumsGetFit Challenge Update

Back in February I set up the  with the aim of using the workouts getting fitter, trimmer and more toned before Brit Mums Live on 22 June. I was, frankly, quite surprised at the response to the challenge and we quickly grew to a group of twenty like-minded masochists bloggers.

I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who's been involved in the challenge and also to Brit Mums for promoting it *smooch*. For those lucky peeps who are attending the first session on Friday, today is the last workout of the challenge.  I'll be going on Saturday so I could theoretically squeeze in another session before I go but the one fly in that ointment is the rather large bump that has appeared in front of me. But never fear, I haven't let that stop me keeping active.

Fionnuala McAuliffe, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at University College Dublin said in an interview with The Independent last year -
"There are significant benefits to mild and moderate exercise while pregnant. Regular exercise during pregnancy helps better prepare women for labour and delivery, and may also offer long-term benefits for the baby. Moderate exercise during pregnancy helps reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, less gestational weight gain and less somatic complaints including insomnia and low mood."
Quite so. I was so scared during our first pregnancy that I didn't do any exercise other than the odd yoga session. I gained three stone and it showed.

I'd been using the site for a few months before I found out we were, by some miracle I might add, pregnant with Peanut so I considered myself fairly fit. I finally saw my shape starting to change and I liked it. A lot. However, a lot of the exercises in the workouts are not suitable for pregnancy so I needed some modifications. I spoke to a Pilates teacher friend who showed me exercises that I can which are safe and keep me flexible. I bought a pilates ball and a copy of by Caroline Anthony. That combined with walking and stationary cycling is, I hope, keeping my fitness ticking over until such time as I'm able (and willing) to start Bodyrocking again.

So it's au revoir to the #BritMumsGetFit Challenge and from me for now, but definitely not goodbye. Like Arnie says, I'll be back.

Image: photostock /
Independent interview reference

Monday, 18 June 2012

A table fit for a 3rd birthday party

Hang on a sec, I just want to mention something. I've decided that with a baby brother (Peanut) coming along at the end of the year it's about time that DD had a proper name. So henceforth the toddler formally known as DD will be known as Curly Girl. Hope it doesn't cause too much confusion. Right, where was I...

With only a few weeks until Curly Girl has her third birthday I've started thinking about her party. Well, that's not entirely true. I've been thinking about this birthday party for a while. The invites are out. The cake has been ordered (Thomas the Tank Engine, via Tall Sis). The entertainer has been bribed booked for face painting and general keep-the-kids-amused-for-pregnant-Mum activities.

Last year we didn't really do too much. We'd just returned from China and a family BBQ, perfect in it's low maintenance, was the best solution. Of course it helped that we had a gorgeous sunny day, something I'm not banking on this year (although it hasn't stopped me from ritually sacrificing the odd umbrella in the hope it will tickle the Sun God's funny bone and get her to pop her head out).

As Curly Girl is still only three years old a low-key affair is do-able so this year will be a variation on last year's theme - family and friends, BBQ and kid's food with the addition of a bouncy castle (on sale at Tesco Direct) and some face painting and puppetry. Done.

But with at least 10 adults and numerous kidlets we need a good sturdy solution for holding the mountains of food and various crates of booze bottles of pop that will be needed to fuel this party. So I was very interested to review the Leisure Blow Moulded Folding Table from the Achica Living website. I'd seen the ads on tv for this online members-only luxury lifestyle store, but I hadn't browsed the site before. It's actually rather clever. Limited time promotions with exclusive prices and limited stock. The time left to buy ticks away next to each item. (It's a little bit addictive.)

Back to the table. To be honest I'd been wanting a table like this for a while after borrowing one from my next door neighbour. You just never know when you're going to need the extra space. (Usually I find it's when I don't have the extra space.) The table folds right down the middle and the legs fold underneath so that while it's an impressive 6 ft long (185 x 77.5 x 5.5 cm) opened up, it's compact enough when folded not to cause us problems in an already stuffed-to-bursting garage. There's also a locking mechanism for the legs for safety. Thank you Achica, it's perfect.

So, now the table's sorted, I just need to order the food and drink, buy a new longer table cloth, organise the party bags, decide what both Curly Girl and I will wear, work out where to put everyone and everything if it rains and generally get my shutzpah together. I feel another to-do list coming on...

Disclosure: Achica sent us a Luxury Leisure Blow Moulded Folding Table to review. We received no other compensation. Table images courtesy of Achica and, cake image courtesy of

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Silent Sunday

Inspired by...

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Thursday, 14 June 2012

Read this and make a difference #ShareNiger

Today I'm not writing about bump. Or DD. Or my life. 

Today I read an article that led to another, that led to me donating what I could to help a family thousands of miles away.

Today I'm handing this space over to #ShareNiger.

Please, if you only do one thing today, read this article from Rosie Scibble '' and then read Patch Of Puddles 'Be Part Of Something Amazing For Share Niger' and watch the video.

If you're able to, donate what you can to help sponsor a child. If you can afford £6 a month you'll be put together with others into groups who can sponsor a child together and follow their progress. 

Let's prove Rosie right and show that we can make a difference.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Bumplog: Fav pregnancy purchases

So today I'm 17 weeks pregnant. Last time around with DD we were living in Shanghai so my maternity kit was somewhat limited by what would fit me - I am not (and frankly I will never be) the size of a typical Shanghai gal. How do they even give birth sans hips? It's nothing short of miraculous.  Anyhoo, this time around I'm overwhelmed with the plethora of purchases available to the bumpy lady and I've been diving in with both feet (errr.. perhaps that's just a jump...). So here, in no particular order, is my round up of my favourite pregnancy bits and pieces so far.

Emma Jane Maternity/Nursing Bra
As much as I love how my underwear looks, when boobs grow this quickly it's all about comfort. I started off with good 'ol M&S but I've just recently bought one of these from Emma Jane. A maternity/nursing bra with removable pads that give you great shape just like a t-shirt bra. I LOVE it. Super comfy, if a little big around the back at the moment, with nice wide straps. I can forget I'm wearing it and that's perfect. I bought mine from Jo Jo Maman Bebe for £16.

Long sleeve striped top
This is my fav top purchase so far and has been perfect in the cooler weather we've been having. The fabric is ruched at the side which is very flattering and it's available in lots of other colours too. I went with the navy/white stripe as I'm loving the nautical look at the moment. A true maternity staple and good value at £18 from Mamas And Papas.

Cropped maternity jeans
If Summer ever arrives I will be LIVING in these. Super comfy, not too short and a good colour. There's loads of room to grow as you can synch in the sides with adjustable buttonhole elastic. Brilliant buy at £29 from Jo Jo Maman Bebe.

Carriwell Maternity Support Band
When I was carrying DD I had terrible backache in the third trimester and I can already feel it coming on again some days, so I decided that this would be a good investment. It's designed to take the pressure off your back and lower abs. It's super clingy so it doesn't really show under clothes (unless you're wearing something shear or very thin) and I can see already that it's going to be a staple underwear piece towards the end. £11 from Jo Jo Maman Bebe.

Maternity Chinos
I tend to live in jeans a lot of the time so these were a welcome Spring addition to my wardrobe. They're snug in the right places and very comfy but I'll be growing out of them soon as I got a small size to wear at the beginning of this pregnancy and also after Peanut is born. £30 from

Pacapod Phoenix *swoon*
Pacapod Portland *drool*
Looking forward I'm already fantasizing about a new changing bag. I'm intrigued by the Papapod system with it's changing and feeding pods and at the moment the two I'm loving the most are the Phoenix in chocolate leather and Portland in Conker. At £200 and £120 respectively they're not cheap but with a toddler and baby in tow I expect to be carrying most of the house around with me so a bigger bag that's going to wear well and, just as importantly, that I love will be a sound investment methinks. At least that's how I'm justifying it to OH at the moment.

What are your favourite maternity purchases? Do you tend to stick with one or two brands that you know and love or do you shop around? Do you own a Pacapod changing bag? Which one do you have? Do you like the pod system? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, 11 June 2012

New to the UK or planning to visit? Read this...

When I lived in China for three years I struggled at the beginning to find my feet. I had LOTS of important questions. Where should I go to buy Marmite? for example. You see my dilemma. So as an ex-ex-pat I was really excited when I read Rachel's article over at This Mid 30s Life's a little while ago about her new venture with her friend Ginny - Mums Away UK.

Mums Away UK is a new website specifically for families moving to the UK or planning a trip to the UK. Their mission is to make your relocation, or holiday, as stress-free as possible. There's advice on getting organised before you leave and they've researched (and experienced!) how to get your family settled. For example, there's information on how to find a doctor, where to find a playgroup and the school system. Time for some family fun? There's a whole section on that too. 

I wish I'd had a resource like this when I left home for a new country - well done Rachel and Ginny!

P.S. They're also on Twitter () and Facebook () so pop over and say hello.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Guest post: 5 Ways to Prepare Your 1st Born for a new baby

A couple of weeks ago we broke the news to DD that she was going to be a big sister. I worried about it for ages, wondering how to break the news and how she'd take it. Thankfully she took it well and apart from the odd moment when she's convinced there's a baby puppy in my tummy she seems content enough. As I'm sure there are others out there in readerland in the same boat today I'm pleased to have a guest post on just this subject from Nancy Parker. 


You have exciting news! You are growing your family from three members to four. It’s an exhilarating and busy time preparing for your next little one. One thing that parents worry about is how the first born will react to a second child, have no fear the 5 ways to prepare are here!

  1. Start early: It doesn’t matter the age of your first born when it comes time to telling them a second child is on the way, it’s going to be difficult. First things first, once you have the okay from your doctor to make the announcement public, tell your child. Sit down with your first born and share the news by telling them that they are going to be a big brother or sister. Remain positive and excited, your child will sense any uneasiness if you have any.
  2. Participate: During your pregnancy have your first born participate in helping and planning for the new babies arrival. Ask them to help pick out baby names or find things for the baby’s room. You want to make your first child feel like they are going to be important in their sibling’s life, so give them ‘responsibilities’.
  3. Reminders: Throughout the pregnancy give gentle reminders of the baby’s arrival and what that means at home. They need to understand that things will be different but okay. Talk about the baby a lot, the more you do, the more they will be prepared.
  4. Other children: You may have some relatives or close friends with other small children; work with them in preparing your first born. Schedule many play dates or long visits. Allow your first born to help ‘hold’ the baby, play and learn things about the baby. It is a difficult concept for a child to comprehend, the more they are around a baby, they will understand.
  5. Make time: Once your second child arrives, no matter how difficult or tired you may be, be sure that you make time for your first born. You want an easy and smooth transition into your time sharing. Schedule daily one-on-one’s with your first born, this will help them feel loved and not replaced.

This is an exciting and scary time for your family! You are growing and that means a lot more nappies (diapers), toys, tears, hugs and kisses. As long as you remain positive and understanding with your first born your family should have no problem when your second arrives. Congratulations!

Author Bio
Nancy Parker was a professional nanny and she loves to write about wide range of subjects like health, Parenting, Child Care, and Babysitting, nanny service tips etc. You can reach her at .

Image courtesy of

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Bumplog: You know you're pregnant for the 2nd time when...

...your don't get to put your feet up. Ever. go through your old maternity things and wonder how you ever got to be so big last time around (and quake at the thought of it happening all over again). start wearing those same maternity things three months earlier than last time.

...people you don't know ask you when you're due and try to hide their shock that it's not sooner.

...your toddler bounces happily on your bump and you don't bat an eyelid. look forward to going to bed with your maternity support pillow as much as your husband. fight your toddler to get to the loo first.

...your toddler's Disney films make you sob into your maternity t-shirt.'s a race to see who will drop food on their belly first - you or your toddler. ignore your Bounty pack. start to fill in your baby book now because you know from experience there will be NO time later on. ignore all the adverts for baby gadgets and focus on finding a storage solution big enough to hold a years supply of nappies that will last about a week.

Feel free to add your own in the comments!

Image(s): Free images from

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Silent Sunday

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