Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Giveaway - The Day The Crayons Quit

At four years old Curly Girl is a fully-fledged storybook addict. She will sit happily listening to me (or heck anyone actually, who am I kidding) read book after book, asking questions as we go along. She has her favourites though and, as I've learnt to my chagrin, can be quite critical of new books that don't quite hit the mark in her opinion.

When we received , a new book by debut author Drew Daywalt and International bestseller Olive Jeffers (he of How To Catch A Star fame), I knew the fact that it had just been named #1 in the New York Times bestsellers list would cut no mustard with my own mini-critic. 

Image courtesy of oliverjeffers.com
I'd already read through it myself and I must admit I LOVED it. The whole concept of the story is brilliant - poor Duncan just wants to colour in. But when he opens his box of crayons, he only finds letters, all saying the same thing: We quit! Beige is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown, Blue needs a break from colouring in all that water, while Pink just wants to be used. Green has no complaints, but Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking to each other. The battle lines have been drawn. What is Duncan to do?

More importantly, what is Curly Girl going to do when she reads about this crayon-based crisis, I wondered. 

But I needn't have worried. She loved it as much as I did. In fact we went back and read it through again just to remind ourselves which crayon said what in their letter. Some of the letters are very funny by the way. So Curly Girl gives The Day The Crayons Quit two thumbs up - it's definitely a keeper in this house.

I'm delighted that I've got two copies of The Day The Crayons Quit to give away. It's easy to enter using the Rafflecopter widgety thing below. Just answer the question and keep your fingers crossed!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer, terms and conditions and the all-important small print:
We were sent a copy of The Day The Crayons Quit to review and offered two copies to give away. I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own. This giveaway is open to UK residents aged 18 or over, one entry per household. There is no cash alternative. The winner will be chosen at random via Rafflecopter. The winner will have 48 hours to claim the prize or another winner will be chosen, again at random using Rafflecopter. You DO NOT have to subscribe to Bod for tea or like my or follow me on or as part of your entry.

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

And the Babyweight giveaway winner is....

*Fanfare* *Drumroll* *Balloon release*

And the winner of the Babyweight giveaway is......

Miranda L 


Miranda wins a copy of the fab Baby Weight ebook and a six month subscription to babyweight.tv
Woo hoo!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Quotes of the week

I love quotes, especially the quips that make me smile wryly and nod in agreement. So in a more or less weekly spot (see I even made a new badge *points up*), here's some I've discovered this week...

"Before marriage, a man declares that he would lay down his life to serve you; after marriage, he won't even lay down his newspaper to talk to you." 
- Helen Rowland.

"Self pity is our worst enemy and it we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world." 
- Helen Keller.

"When I was younger I thought I was overweight. I had a good body before. I took it for granted." 
- Carrie Fisher.

"My success was not based so much on any great intelligence but on great common sense." 
- Helen Gurley Brown.

"I still have hang-ups. I sometimes wake up and hate myself just like anyone else does, sometimes for my body, sometimes for a drunk text I sent. But even before I sold any records, I always stood up for myself!" 
- Adele.

"If you haven't cried, your eyes can't be beautiful." 
- Sophia Loren.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Feeling empty before World Breastfeeding Week

We took Little Man to be weighed today. At 36 weeks he weighed in at a healthy 18.9lbs *swells with pride*. Clearly we're doing something right. But I still left the health centre feeling just a little bit empty.

While I was waiting to speak to our health visitor another lady was chatting to her, a beautiful baby girl bouncing on her lap. As soon as they were finished talking, the mother moved to another chair near the open door where there was a lovely breeze blowing in and lay her baby down on her lap. I knew what she was about to do not just by the way she'd positioned the baby but by the smiles on both their faces as they gazed at each other. As she lifted her top and started to breastfeed her little girl the fissure in my heart that had mended over the past two months cracked open. I looked away, giving them the privacy they deserved and shielding myself from the pain.

I turned to Little Man, lying on the changing table playing with his toes, pudgy and oh so well and knew that while bottle feeding hadn't been a choice either of us wanted to make, nor was stopping breastfeeding an easy option by any means, it was at the time. It doesn't seem to have affecting him physically; he's thriving by all accounts, but I do so miss that precious time that we spent together, our bodies connected, eyes searching each other's face, little smiles, conversing without words. Now he usually faces away from me while he drinks his milk (his choice, not mine) and it's a mechanical operation. Something to get 'done' rather than to look forward to or particularly enjoy.

But here's the thing. It's World Breastfeeding Week from 1st - 7th August and while I'm no longer breastfeeding our Little Man I'm fully in support of this year's aims which are to draw attention to the importance of peer support in helping mothers to not only establish but sustain breastfeeding. It's an acknowledgement that while in the past families would often support new mothers in their breastfeeding journeys, encouraging them, answering questions and allaying fears, societal changes and in particular urbanisation means that this support isn't always readily available. Support from a wider circle whether it is provided by trained health workers, lactation consultants, friends who are also mothers or other community members is so important. And so as I think back now to that mother feeding her baby girl this morning I'm smiling instead of frowning, punching the air for her instead of feeling sorry for myself. And if I see her again I'm going to let her know what a wonderful thing she's doing for her beautiful baby.


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Review: Lenovo Ideapad A2109 - a tablet for all the family?

Uh... hello *waves*. It's OH here, guest posting today for wifey while she kicks back and relaxes in the sunshine keeps the kids amused in the Summer holiday heat.

A while back the kind folks at Lenovo sent us the Ideapad A2109 to review over the summer. We’ve been testing it as a family to put it through it’s paces in a number of different scenarios and this is the first of a series of reviews we’ll be posting as we get to grips with the tablet.

In summary
I liked this tablet straight out of the box. It has a quality feel. It’s an impressive 9 inch tablet that is great for all the family and good value at £170 from PC World at the moment. The tablet is built around a sturdy metal frame which means the Ideapad is a delight to handle and reassuringly robust. Start up is very fast, taking 15-20 seconds from pressing the on button and using it is simple and intuitive. Lenovo covers the Andriod 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system with their own Modrian user interface and it is effective, using icons to start programmes. The icons can be placed into logical groups to customise the layout to your own tastes. For Andriod phone users the interface will feel familiar.

The Ideatab uses a Nvidia Tegra 1.3GHz Quad Core processor with built in GeForce gaming processor, plus 1280x800 HD screen and SRS Surround sound speakers, so it's well equiped for basic gaming and video playback. Front and rear cameras make it also ideal for Skype as well as taking impromptu family photos and videos.

In short the Ideatab is a great value all round family tablet that looks like it will stand up to the knocks of family life.

The touch screen interface with its icon layout and simple control keys in the bottom left hand corner (home, back, new window) make the tablet simple to use. Settings can be accessed via another touch button in the top right hand corner whilst voice control is situated in the top left hand corner. The pop up keyboard includes a well judged positive sound feedback that makes typing a delight. The keys are also large enough for full size fingers resulting in fewer typing errors, although one drawback is that the keyboard obscures much of the content section in gmail, which requires more planning than usual. For serious typing I bought an Anker bluetooth keyboard which is similar in size to the Ideapad and works very well. It’s only drawback is the lack of a trackpad, but it makes serious typing far easier and it is something I’d recommend to get the most out of the tablet - I’ve written this review using exactly that combination.

The Ideapad screen quality is good with sharp, vivid reproduction. Part of my morning routine is to do my emails, then read the news (on the BBC APP, on USA Today and via MyYahoo). The Ideatab has quickly become my device of choice for this activity due to its quick start up, ease of use and size. It copes well with text, graphics (checking the weather forecast) and video (breaking new stories)

Family feedback
We downloaded two games from the Google Play store for Curly Girl to play on the Ideapad and she happily balanced the tablet on her lap to play them. The Ideapad is a good size for her and easier to use that a Smartphone (we have a Galaxy S2). Little Man is a tad too small to play with a tablet yet although he seems quite happy to sit and watch me tapping away (good lad).

The all important numbers:

Item Weight - 5 g
Product Dimensions - 1.2 x 26 x 17.8 cm
Screen Size - 9 inches
Processor Brand - NVIDIA
Processor Speed - 1.3 GHz
RAM Size - 1 GB
Computer Memory Type - DDR DRAM
Hard Drive Size - 16 GB
Graphics Card Description - Integrated
Graphics RAM Type - DDR DRAM
Operating System - Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Average Battery Life (in hours) - 9 hours

(Source: Amazon)


You really don't need a lot of extras with the Ideapad but there are three things I would recommend that cost us about £45 from Amazon:

1. - this is a necessary purchase to prolong the life of the screen (especially with the number of ice-lollies being waved around in this house at the moment).

2. - £8.18. A sturdy case for the price let down by slightly poor fit (it is slightly too large for the height of the tablet which means pushing the bottom of the tablet up slightly to touch the home key).

3. - a worthwhile investment at £28.77 for more lengthy typing.

The Android version that comes pre-installed does not support some types of video playback - as it is a tablet, not a laptop. This is irritating but I’m sure I will find a workaround when I try. At the moment I simply use another device instead.

More to try out
As yet we have not tested the video or camera to any great degree. So that’s for the next review. As is making the most of the connectivity - hooking up the picture to our TV for example.

All in all I feel I’ve come to appreciate the Lenovo Ideapad quickly and I'm already wondering how I lived without it - often the case with new technology I find - but now the true test begins - will I still love it after a few months of use?

Monday, 22 July 2013

Review and giveaway - can 'BabyWeight' help me lose mine?

I smell. Not in a nice way. In a sweaty, Tour-de-France jock-strap way. Yeah I know, not very lady like. But I'm on a mission people. I'm a 'project'.

OH has taken it upon himself to get me fit. With my breastfeeding days behind me and far too much belly in front of me there's no time like the present to get back in shape. And so it has begun. I've seen that sparkle in my husband's eyes as he devises my workout - not cruelty, no surely not, it must be determination, right? Determination to get his wife back. The wife that managed to regain her shape through sheer bloody hard work only just before finding out she was pregnant again. The wife that complains non-stop about not fitting into any of her clothes. The wife who is asked on a weekly basis 'when's the baby due' before sucking in her belly and holding her breath until she almost passes out. Yep, THAT wife.

So far I've done a handful of workouts and I must say that I'm feeling great. Well, not GREAT, you understand. Everything hurts after not training at all for over a year. Oh and I've pulled a calf muscle. But mentally it feels fab to be making a start. To feel those endorphins flowing again. To know that not being able to move much on day two is because I worked bloody hard on day one.

Last time around I trained on my own using the basic circuit training workouts at bodyrock.tv . Burpees, squat thrusts, press-ups, step-ups, star jumps, high knees, clean & jerks etc. They work people. They may not be sexy or have you dancing round a pole, but they work.

This time I have two secret weapons - OH (who won't let me quit unless I'm physically sick in front of him) and a new book and video combination from the US called Babyweight.tv.

OH's programme so far goes like this:
  • Put on Prodigy album to get mentally prepared for hell
  • Cycle like a nutter for 10 minutes
  • Faint as I bend down to switch cycling shoes for trainers
  • Perform 10 clean and jerks with pink sandbag while trying not to knock myself out
  • Row 1000m in under 5 minutes while trying to ignore baby crying because he's bored of watching Mummy and she smells bad
  • Suck in all oxygen from room and drink a litre of water in one gulp
  • Perform another 10 clean and jerks
  • Row 1000m again trying to beat previous time
Micky Morrison
Babyweight.tv's programme is more refined and a lot less stressful. It was developed by American Micky Marie Morrison, a physical therapist, International Childbirth Education Association certified perinatal fitness instructor and author of . Micky started out designing a pre­na­tal and post­par­tum fit­ness plan for her clients, which she later fea­tured in the book. When she started getting requests for an accom­pa­ny­ing DVD, she realised that there was a gap in the market for something online - thus Babyweight.tv was, if you pardon the pun, born.

Both the book and the online programme are designed for different levels of fitness, whether you're pregnant, just had a baby or, like me, working to remove your baby-belly but all have one thing in common - the exercises are designed to work out the muscles most affected by pregnancy *looks down at belly and scowls*. So far so good then.

The book has lots of information at the beginning about healthy eating and activity during pregnancy including what's safe and not so safe in a pregnancy/post-partum exercise programme. Then there are detailed descriptions of each of the exercises with clear photos and alternative options. A big plus for me is that the photos are of real women with bumps and baby-bellies - and their babies! I LOVE that the book describes how you can include baby in your exercise - kissing him at the bottom of a half press-up for example - and at around seventeen pounds Little Man is adding 'weight' into my routine already. At the end of the book there are some suggested flows for the exercises that build them into a routine - a picture of each exercise and the page number where you'll find it in the book is very helpful here, but to really make it come to life I found I wanted to watch the videos online.

A real benefit of the Babyweight.tv online classes is that I could jump straight into a beginner class in the comfort of our living room without trying to stretch my pre-baby lycra workout gear beyond it's limits. (I had visions of it pinging back and knocking me out, seriously.) Although some of the beginner videos do have babies included in them so you can see how to incorporate baby into the routine (soooo cute!), I started off on my own while Little Man was napping to get a clear picture of the exercises in my mind. We did try a couple of routines when he was awake and happy to be a squashy dumbell. He LOVED sitting on my lap while I did the core exercises and I just switched him to his play mat when he started to get bored.

One of my fav videos is the Advanced PowerMama half hour post-postnatal class. Micky leads this class herself and talks through each move very clearly so you don't have to look at the video the whole time (that's something I really dislike about fitness videos usually!). The class starts with some sun salutes to warm up but don't be fooled - this is a tough class with push-ups, planks, crunches and lots of balancing moves that work your core to the max. These moves HURT but you know they're working those nasty wobbly bits! The camera does change angle from time to time so that you can see exactly what Micky is doing, but I did find it made the video a bit jumpy at times. The beautiful setting with a mountain in the background and an almost unfeasibly blue sky is breathtaking and although I can't do the whole routine along with the video yet I can feel the moves strengthening my core. I WILL do those press-ups along with you soon Micky!

Working out with baby at BabyWeightTV

There's plenty of variety in the videos from the stretching and tuning in of the Yoga­Mama classes to connecting with your core muscles in the Core­Mama™ classes and completely relaxing and releasing daily stresses with the Relax­Mama classes but most use yoga moves in some form so if you have a particular dislike of yoga this might not be the programme for you. Apparently there are some cardio classes planned too which I'd definitely be interested in. But the programme doesn't stop at fitness classes - there are also Health and Well­ness videos with recipes, tips, tricks, secrets, and cop­ing strate­gies from other moth­ers around the world, a Sooth­ing Mamas Woes series where Micky gives tips on how to pre­vent and treat aches and pains com­mon to expec­tant and new Mums plus healthy lifestyle and green-living secrets in the Mama­Cooks and Eco­Mama series.


There are over 70 videos to help you become a fit mama and four membership levels from completely free with a weekly class that you can watch online to a full year's membership with unlimited streaming classes and a free copy of Micky's Baby Weight book. Even the most expensive option at $89.95 (c £60) is good value when you think how much weekly classes cost to attend and let's not even talk about gym membership.

"You may be in a hurry to get back in to shape, but you can’t rush nature. Respect where you are today and progress naturally," Micky says on her website. Wise words Micky *rubs sore calf muscle*. While I'm enjoying having OH train my butt off (literally, hopefully) I loved reviewing the Baby Weight book and Babyweight.tv videos and would recommend them as a progressive way to getting back into shape.

Woo hoo! I'm delighted that Micky Morrison has generously offered me one ecopy of her Baby Weight book plus a six month subscription to Babyweight.tv to giveaway to one of you lucky lot! To enter just answer the question in the Rafflecopter widgety thing below. You can also tweet about the giveaway for another entry. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer, terms and conditions and the all-important small print:
I was given a copy of Micky Morrison's Baby Weight book and a one month subscription to Babyweight.tv to review and offered a six month subscription and an ebook to give away. I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own. This giveaway is open to UK residents aged 18 or over, one entry per household. There is no cash alternative. The winner will be chosen at random via Rafflecopter. The winner will have 48 hours to claim the prize or another winner will be chosen, again at random using Rafflecopter. You DO NOT have to subscribe to Bod for tea or like my or follow me on or as part of your entry.

ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions

Sunday, 21 July 2013

What is happiness anyway?

Today I'm publishing part of a really interesting article by Acacia Parks, PHD on the science of happiness. As a Happify.com Pioneer I'm using their tools and Acacia's and other scientist's learnings about happiness to build the habits that will make me a happier and more fulfilled me. 

What is happiness? People have agonized over this question for centuries, but only recently has science begun to weigh in on the debate. Before I get into what the science has concluded, let me start by giving some answers to a somewhat easier question: what isn’t happiness?

Happiness is Not: Feeling Good All The Time

Skeptics have often asked whether a person who uses cocaine every day is “happy.” If feeling good all the time were our only requirement, then the answer would be “yes.” However, recent research suggests that an even-keeled mood is more psychologically healthy than a mood in which you achieve great heights of happiness regularly—after all, what goes up must come down. 

Furthermore, when you ask people what makes their lives worth living, they rarely say anything about their mood. They are more likely to cite things that they find meaningful, such as their work or relationships. Recent research even suggests that if you focus too much on trying to feel good all the time, you’ll actually undermine your ability to feel good at all—in other words, no amount of feeling good will be satisfying to you, since what you expect (all the time) isn’t physically possible for most people.

Happiness is Not: Being Rich or Affording Everything You Want

While living below the poverty line certainly makes it hard to be happy, beyond that, money does not appear to buy happiness. Imagine you unexpectedly get a £10,000/year raise. While you would certainly be excited in the short term, it would only be a matter of time before your expectations change to fit your new budget. Before you know it, you’re just as happy as you were before the raise! ...

You can read the rest of the article including more about what happiness is not, what happiness actually IS and find out more about the Happify programme at Happify.com

Acacia Parks, Ph.D is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Hiram College, where she teaches classes on the science of happiness. Her research program focuses on the efficacy of positive interventions, and the psychological and behavioral characteristics of individuals who use them. She received her doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Quotes of the week...

I love quotes, especially the quips that make me smile wryly and nod in agreement. Here's some I've discovered this week...

"Once a woman has forgiven a man, she must not reheat his sins for breakfast." - Marlene Dietrich

"Keep in mind that no matter how cute and sexy a guy is, there's always some woman somewhere who's sick of him." - Carol Hentry

"They say it is better to be poor and happy than rich and miserable, but how about a compromise like moderately rich and just moody?" - Diana, the late Princess of Wales

"One of my theories is that men love with their eyes; women love with their ears." - Zsa Zsa Gabor

And my personal favourite for this week...

"Kids are definitely the boss of you. Anyone who will barge into the room while you are on the commode is the boss of you. And when you explain to them that you're on the commode and that they should leave but they don't? That's a high-level boss." - Tina Fey

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuomo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Are our children losing their imaginations?

I received a really worrying email yesterday. It worried me so much that I spent a lot of yesterday thinking about it, mulling it over in my mind, imagining what it might mean. 

This is ironic actually, considering the email's content. The Forestry Commission, those nice folk that look after our dwindling forests, surveyed 2,000 parents of school-aged children and found that 90% of them think children are losing their imaginations by the time they're ten. 


I was still creating worlds within worlds well beyond that age. Watching Curly Girl making up Scooby Doo adventures with her Shaggy and Velma figures this morning at the breakfast table it was hard to believe that in a few short years she could be too old for this important fun.

Indulging in a little make believe has long been thought to have far-reaching developmental benefits for children: Albert Einstein wrote about the importance of fairy tales in boosting children’s intelligence and the child psychotherapist Bruno Bettelheim believed fairy tales helped children develop independence and key social skills such as empathy.

As well as providing important moral lessons, fairy tales create a space where children can vent complicated feelings, explore their wildest dreams and confront their fears about the big bad monster, finding a way to decipher good from evil and resolve conflicts. (There's an interesting article about this at Reader's Digest.)

So it's really worrying that of the 2,000 parents of school-age children surveyed by Forestry Commission England, nearly three quarters think that today’s children play outdoors less than they did as children and half (51%) believe this directly influences how much imagination they have. Nearly half (43%) thought that children today are less imaginative than they were as children. A further 37% admitted that their children don’t create their own games using their imaginations and over a quarter (28%) reported that their children rarely or never make up stories.Three quarters think children spend too much time on computers and games consoles and over half (55%) think the rise in technology use is also responsible for children’s lack of imagination.

I wonder what these parents are doing about this? I wonder if they are limiting their children's TV viewing time, shutting down the games consoles and taking them outside to play? I hope so. 

If they are then they could do worse than take them along to one of The Forestry Commission's Fairy Tales events this Summer. The Forest Fairy Tales campaign is inviting parents and their children to enjoy the magic of the forest throughout 2013 with events taking place across the country including fairy trails, sculpture making, picnics, crafts and story walks across various Forestry Commission sites. The Commission hopes to engage a whole generation of youngsters in imaginative outdoor play and reverse perceptions many parents have about their child’s interest in the world of pretend.

Rachel Giles of the Forestry Commission said:

“Forests are the perfect backdrop to inspire children’s imaginations as many of the most exciting fairy tales are set in the woods, and Forest Fairy Tales will encourage children to explore new worlds using their imaginations, becoming Little Red Riding Hood, a brave knight or a wicked witch.
“Our research shows that many children aren’t engaging in outdoor play to the same extent as their parents did, and we must work harder to encourage those young people to go outside and use their imaginations before the joy of make-believe and pretend is lost forever.

To find out more about the The Forest Fairy Tales campaign and to download free online activity sheets visit www.forestry.gov.uk/fairytales .

Do you worry about your children's use of imaginative play? Do you think your children are less imaginative than YOU were when you were young?

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Hot enough to fry an egg...

She sat in the garden, hot and sticky, while the baby slept fitfully upstairs. The oppressive weather pressed down, suffocating her. Glancing to the left, she thought about clearing up the barbeque, dishwashing the dirty crocs and boxing the salad ready to be thrown away uneaten later. She turned back and eyed up her daughter's freezing cold paddling pool, pondering if there was a chance she could paddle between the dead insects to wash the storm flies off her sweaty skin. But instead she sat, steaming and wondering if it was hot enough to fry an egg on the patio.

Today I'm joining in with the week #98 100 word challenge for grown ups over at Julia's Place. This week's prompt is the above photograph - very apt considering the weather we've been having!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Baby proofing your home

Sponsored post in association with Irwin Mitchell

Our Little Man is already eight months old! *gasp* It’s hard to believe that the time has gone by so quickly, but when it comes to growing up, babies wait for no one. Keeping this in mind, we figured it’s time to start thinking about baby proofing the house. When we came home from our three year adventure in China Curly Girl was already walking and well-used to not-touching the dangerous things around the house so we didn't really need to do much baby proofing. But I can already see that twinkle in the Little Man's eye that tells me it won't be long before he goes from rolling around to crawling and walking and there's no doubt that when that happens his new found freedom to create havok will cause all sorts of hazards. So with that in mind here's how we're planning to prevent a head injury, as well as slips, trips and other mishaps.

In the nursery. When we start to baby proof Bod towers, we know that the nursery will probably be the best place to start as that's where Little Man spends a lot of his time. When we planned his room we began by researching the safest kinds of baby cots we could find. We ultimately decided on one with slats that were small enough to prevent our little one from poking his head through. Also, we skipped the fancy trim and posts; these are just unnecessary hazards since your clothing or the baby’s clothing can get caught on them. Luckily enough a friend had the perfect cot that she was selling so we didn't have to spend a small fortune on a very good one. In China we had wooden floors and Curly Girl often bashed herself when she was learning to walk so I'm glad we have carpet here under the changing table. This will definitely help avoid a head injury when he's fresh out of the bath and just that little bit *ahem* slippery.

In the kitchen. Next, we'll head to the kitchen to take a look at any potential dangers. Eeek! It's not until you have a baby that you realise it's a miracle we're not all rushing off to A&E every five minutes.  We'll probably put locks on all the bottom cupboards and drawers to keep him from pulling them open and banging around with pots and pans or the various pieces of electrical equipment that are gathering dust in storage and poised for use. I know pots and pans make great, if noisy, toys, but we will need to be careful when he gets a little older and sees them on the hob. Doesn't even bear thinking about, does it? *Sweats*

In the bathroom. In the bathroom, we'll likely be putting mini slip-on covers over all the knobs for the taps. Babies are attracted to shiny things - FACT - so we thought that doing this would take the temptation out of turning the water on and off. Probably won't but at least it will make it harder for him. We've already got a nice whale cover for the spout that doesn't get hot to the touch. We should probably also put a lock on all the toilet lids - or my phone will likely be going for a swim.

Around the house. Baby proofing room by room is a great way to start, but we also need to remember to take a look at all those obscure areas that are easy to miss. First and most importantly, plastic plug-ins to cover all our electrical outlets. These should be as inconspicuous as possible (ours are plain white to blend in with the walls) so that Little Man's wandering eyes don’t land on them. As we already a fairly new carpet I'm not too worried about him falling over on the floors - this was more of a problem for us in China where we had lots of rugs for Curly Girl - but to be honest I just tripped over them instead!

We will probably add to this list as we go. Baby proofing might even mean that we need to change a couple of things when he finally starts walking *gulp*.  So now it's over to you - what have I missed?

What are your top tips for baby proofing your home?

Friday, 12 July 2013

Are you seeing things?

No, don't worry I'm not suggesting a trip to the opticians or anything quite so drastic, it's just that I'm not actually here today. Oh I know it seems like I am but I'm actually over here *points down*

Yes that's me, busy learning Spanish with Rosetta Stone and writing all about it. Ever fancied learning a language but no time to go to classes? Their TOTALe online course is fab and so easy to use. I'm squeezing in bite size chunks while the Little Man is asleep. Anyhoo, my latest article is live over on the Rosetta Stone blogFeel free to come over and say 'hi'... opps I mean 'ola!'

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Top tips for Summer trips with little ones

Sponsored post in association with Bambino Direct

So it’s finally summer - Yippeee!! - and time to make the best of the sun with as many days out as possible. If you're anything like me then having the right accessories and baby care items is essential for these summer holiday trips, particularly with two young children. Here are a few things for us all to think about before charging out into the sun with our little ones under our arms.

Car Seats
We all know that a car seat is a legal requirement for a child, right? But which one is best for you, your car and of course, your child?

Belted car seats have been around for ages and proved their worth as a reliable safety item for children of all ages. So then what is ISOFIX? ISOFIX is the latest method of car safety concerning baby and child seats. An ISOFIX base attaches to the actual body of your car thanks to anchor points fitted in many cars. The car seat is then locked onto the base, safely securing your child.

Both belted and ISOFIX car seats will help to keep your child safe if the worst was to happen, but with many cars not including the required anchors it seems that ISOFIX has a way to go before becoming the most popular choice. We were lucky enough to have ISOFIX points in our Hyundai Santa Fe and I love the easy click-on/click-off base which makes like so much easier when I'm running a teensy bit late *ahem*.

Back-carrying Curly Girl in our
Ergo baby carrier at Disneyland in 2011
Getting Around
Choosing your child's mode of transport is another consideration. Deciding whether to take a baby carrier or a pram will completely change the layout of your summer trip. Whereas a baby carrier brings a hands free bonus and keeps baby as close as possible, a pram makes a perfect bed for your little one and means you don’t have to carry your baby when your arms and shoulders feel like lead. (Plus it has the added bonus of being a useful place to hang your shopping bags!)

A good idea is to think about your trip before you go. Will I be going in lots of shops? Is the area reasonably flat or am I going to be pushing a pram up Mount Everest? Who am I going with? Ask yourself some simple questions and you’ll soon get an idea of the easiest way to get baby around. Of course you could take an item for every eventuality but at times this can require a small coach *blush* so you may have to be a little more selective.

Clothes (and nappies)
One things for certain if you're out for the day with a baby - you are going to need nappies. Whether you use disposable or reusable, you will need to take a few for a day out. Generally it's recommended that you take two nappies for every hour you intend to be away from home. At times this is far too many, but sometimes you might even be cutting it close. I usually work on taking a few more than I'd use at home just in case Little Man decides to air-wee into his new nappy when I'm changing him!

Spills and mess can strike at any time, so it is best to come prepared with some clothes for your little one to change into after you spill your juice all over them *ahem again* or they decide to cover themselves in whatever they can. Funny how I don't tend to remember to take a spare top for me though...

Entertainment and blankets (or Blankie as it may be)
If Little Man was parted
from his Shleepy Sheep... eek!
At all ages little ones need to be entertained. Of course their favourite teddy has to come along for the ride and a cuddle but it's when you're out and about and focusing on the 50% off sale at Joules that baby decides to play the “I throw it, you pick it up game.” Apart from the heart wrenching affect it may have on you, knowing the truth about toys thanks to Toy Story, you may have an inconsolable child when they can’t find that toy that they never cared about before.

Maybe attach a reign to the teddy and the pram, or teddy and your child? Aside from sewing it onto their clothes, it’s pretty much one of the best ways to keep hold of any toys. Don’t forget the odd book either, a little story time-out in the shade is a great way to cool down on a hot day.

Take blankets, or the Blankie if your child is attached to one in particular. Apart from being great soothers, they're essential should any cold weather (or breezes) hit while you are out. In the UK it's a good idea to pack a couple just in case. And snow boots.

The Sun
It goes without saying that any trips in the sun with a young child should involve some (we recommend using as many as possible) form of sun protection. Hats, sun cream and regular rests in the shade are essential for not just your baby, but you as well.

Finally, the key to a successful day trip with your baby is being relaxed and confident at all times. Make sure you enjoy yourself too, because if you're enjoying the day out, it’s most likely that your little one is as well.

This is a sponsored post in association with Bambino Direct - the place to find your essentials for a summer trip or holiday with baby. They have a great range and also offer a live chat system if you have any questions or need any help.

Top image: courtesy of artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Four years ago today...

Four years ago today we sat in a hospital in Shanghai waiting to be told that the time was right for Curly Girl to be taken. Taken, not born. Removed, not birthed. We'd been in the same hospital for two weeks waiting, waiting. Waiting to see if she would put on weight after I'd wolfed down protein shakes and build-up drinks, trying to pass the calories on to her. Waiting to see if she would grow. Waiting to see if she was in any distress. Waiting while Michael Jackson died and we sat watching the news, incredulous.

That day we had our usual morning scan and there was a slight change. Our baby's heart beat had slowed, just a fraction. It was enough to make the decision - we couldn't wait until she was clinically 'full term' at 37 weeks. She would have to join us now. As our wonderful Chinese/American OBGYN left us to prep for Curly Girl's C-section delivery, OH and I looked at each other with a mixture of fear and excitement. After , a difficult pregnancy and months of concern about our baby's size, growth rate and weight we would finally be meeting her. 

We couldn't possibly comprehend how difficult it can be for the first few weeks with an underweight, premature baby. We weren't prepared for the sleepless nights, the engorgement that had to be manually broken down in the most excruciating way because she wasn't feeding properly, the colic. We didn't know how traumatic the 'birth' would be. All of that was yet to come. All we knew was that our baby was arriving that day.

And despite the epidural that didn't really work (even after 5 attempts), the pain and fear of not knowing what was going on and  losing that first precious hour with my baby in my post-birth morphine-induced recovery, we were so, so happy. Our miracle baby, a product of science and good luck, was here. And nothing, NOTHING, could take away that joy.

Happy 4th Birthday my beautiful Curly Girl. 

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