Sunday, 30 March 2014

Silent Sunday

Friday, 28 March 2014

Does your child cry when they poo?

Back in January I wrote a post about being sabotaged by poop. Yeah, it's ok to chuckle. Just one of those not-quite-so-funny-at-the-time events that's the norm here at Bod Towers with two under fives. Even I can chuckle about it now.

But read a little deeper and you'll see a little baby boy that wasn't laughing.

Little Man has had trouble 'going' for a while now and unfortunately this scene has been repeated a number of times. I think it started when he began solids, he certainly had no problem at all when we were breastfeeding. When I became ill and we had to move to formula feeding I was worried that it might cause him to become constipated but thankfully it didn't.

I remember mentioning he was struggling with his poos to a health visitor and she said that it was common when babies started eating more solid food. Did she tell me to keep an eye on it? I don't remember.

After a while he started taking himself off into corners to poo, his face beetroot red from straining. This progressed to crying and it didn't feel right to me. Everyone said he'd grow out of it but when my Mother heard a feature by Dr Mark Porter about constipation in children on his Inside Health programme on Radio 4 it spurred me into action. I made an appointment for the same day with our doctor and Little Man was diagnosed with chronic idiopathic constipation.

Chronic idiopathic constipation - it sounds like such a big condition for such a little boy.

What it basically means is that there's no medical reason why he's constipated and it's been going on for a long time.

It's almost certainly psychcological.

Babies and children that have had one or more particularly unpleasant 'experiences' with going can start withholding their poos because they're afraid it will hurt. Of course this just makes the problem worse as it builds up inside them and the whole process becomes a vicious circle.

In our case the treatment is laxatives to make it easier for Little Man to go. The first medicine we tried, called LACTULOSE, did precisely nothing so we moved onto the stronger MOVICOL which certainly works, although I'm not having to stand behind a protective shield or anything. It's just helping him to go without straining. I often don't even notice when he's gone now until, you know, I know *holds nose*.

He's taking two sachets a day at the moment, prepared with water and mixed into his milk (you can mix it with squash too but he refused to drink it like that) and I've been advised that he may need to continue taking it for a few months. The important thing is for 'going' pain-free to become normal again so that he doesn't associate the feeling of wanting to go with pain or fear. Then we can reduce the dose to once a day and slowly wean him off altogether.
They key word here is slowly. Our treatment isn't going to be short term but some children have to continue treatment for years.

Idiopathic constipation is actually more common than you'd think, according to NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) as many as 30% of the child population in the UK may be affected at some time, and if it's left untreated it can lead to quite serious problems as they get older. One of the major difficulties is recognising the condition. Often children who have idiopathic constipation can still soil their nappies or clothes as it 'leaks' around the poo that they're trying so hard not to pass. So you think they're going when they're not.

One organisation that I turned to for information was ERIC (Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence). ERIC is the only UK charity dedicated to improving the lives of children and young people with ongoing continence problems. There is a wealth of resources on their website and a helpline that worried parents can call for advice.

Brenda Cheer, the ERIC Nurse, gave me this comment:
“Many parents are simply unaware of the symptoms of constipation, such as soiling, and often think their child is being lazy. Early intervention for constipation is crucial as the earlier the signs and symptoms are recognised the easier it is to resolve the problem. The effects of unrecognised or inadequately treated constipation in children can include significant abdominal pain, fecal incontinence, appetite suppression and low self-esteem. Constipation also has an effect on the bladder and may jeopardise attempts to potty train or, later on, to get dry at night.
The long-term impact for the whole family can include social isolation, disruption to family life and feelings of frustration and despair.
Raising awareness will also help overcome the stigma surrounding this difficult and frustrating problem. Because it isn’t generally talked about, many parents just aren’t fully aware of what’s ‘normal’, and so it is very hard for them to spot the early signs.”
I'm so glad that I asked for help when I did. Little Man has stopped crying when he goes and I'm hopeful that this won't have a lasting impact on him.

Because I don't want to see that beetroot red, straining, crying face again.

Does your child cry when they poo? Listen to the Radio 4 programme that convinced me to look for treatment, visit for useful information or speak to your GP.

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Wednesday, 26 March 2014

How to Catch a Star review and giveaway

Some children's books are classics that can be read over and over again and passed on to future generations - Winnie The Pooh, Peepo!, Goodnight Moon, Each Peach Pear Plum are some of our favourites - and we're lucky enough to have read many of them. But there's one modern classic that we seem to have completely missed out on and that's by Oliver Jeffers. This year sees the book's 10th anniversary - available to buy from tomorrow - and we were luckily enough to be sent a fabulous anniversary edition to review and another copy to giveaway - plus FREE activity sheets for you to download - so keep reading!

The story centres on a little boy who watches the stars out of his bedroom window at night and wishes he had one of his own as a friend. So he makes various plans for ways to try and catch it. It's beautifully illustrated and a lovely gentle tale for all ages.

Curly Girl was certainly intrigued when I gave her the box...

We read the story together and she absolutely loved it. 'I wish I had a star as my special friend', she said. She particularly liked the part in the story where the little boy can't use his rocket ship to catch the star as it's run out of petrol *chuckles*. We received some glow-in-the-dark stars along with the book and I fixed them to the ceiling where they glowed softly when I switched the lights off. Curly Girl immediately jumped up to try and catch one and we chatted about the different ways she could try to catch a real star.

This really is a lovely book and one that I know we'll be reading again and again before passing onto Little Man so he can have his very own star-catching adventures.

And after watching this film about Oliver Jeffers, I'm now a HEEWGE fan of his lucky is he to do what he loves every day?

Free activity sheet downloads!
FREE downloads
I've got some fun How to Catch a Star activity sheets for you to download completely free!

There are eight pages including spot the difference, colouring pages, join the dots, puppets to cut out and re-enact the story with and a make-your-very-own star mobile.

Just click on the link above and you can download the activity sheets to your computer to print off or share.

I've got one copy of the anniversary edition of to give away to lucky reader. To enter just use the Rafflecopter widgety thing below and follow the instructions. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Disclosure and all important small print: We were sent one copy of anniversary edition of How to Catch a Star to review and one to giveaway. We received no other compensation and all opinions are ours alone. This giveaway is open to UK entrants aged 18 and 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.

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Monday, 24 March 2014

Toddler safe messy play with cereal and Angel Delight

I haven't attempted much messy play with our sixteen month old Little Man recently, but today I was so inspired by this post and this one over at GhostwriterMummy that I decided to create a similar activity for some sensory fun in the high chair.

Messy play with toddlers is all about preparation as they only have a short attention span. Try spending time putting things in containers and whipping up a batch of Angel Delight with a toddler sitting waiting - they'll lose interest quickly and you're likely to get a frustrated little one who's not in the mood for playing your game!

Knowing this (from personal experience) I planned ahead this morning and pulled together what I needed - different kinds of cereal, some strawberry Angel Delight, a spoon, his toddler coverall and our colourful floor cover - while we were all having breakfast. Luckily I could make use of the cereal leftovers from breakfast making it a less costly activity. And I only used half of the Angel Delight that I'd made up so the rest can be used for pudding after lunch. The floor cover I use is a simple PVC covered fabric that you can buy on a roll from most haberdashery stores. John Lewis has a great selection here. Or you could use a tarpaulin from a camping or DIY store.

Preparation is key with messy play for toddlers...
After I'd dropped Curly Girl off at school and Little Man busied himself 'locking' the front door with his own personal set of keys (hastily pulled together after my set went for a swim in the loo) I spread the Angel Delight out in a shallow box perfect for exploring with little fingers.

Little Man's first instinct was to dive into the Cocoa Pops for a snack but we soon started exploring the different textures of hard and soft, crunchy and smooth. He wasn't keen on putting his fingers or hands into the Angel Delight so I introduced the idea of standing the Frosties and Cheerios in it like soldiers in a line he started to copy me, picking up the cereal and placing it into the strawberry mixture.

His favourite thing was crushing each of the cereals under his fingers and then with the spoon, chuckling to himself as they popped and crackled. I talked about the sound they made and showed him how the Angel Delight didn't make the same sound when I squished it with my fingers. He swooshed the cereals around in their boxes, watching them fall over the side of the high chair and exclaiming as they fell onto the floor. He also fed me the cereal, picking up each piece carefully and placing it in my mouth - great for his small motor skill development and yummy for Mummy too!

This was a fun 10 minute messy play activity that didn't take much clearing up and was completely safe for a toddler as all the elements were edible. In fact quite a lot got eaten!

Next time we might make up two different flavours of Angel Delight and explore mixing them together or add more tools like cookie cutters. I'd also like to try this activity with Curly Girl in the Easter Holidays and seeing how differently she explores the different elements.

By the way the lovely Susanne over at GhostwritterMummy has helpfully pulled together this fab set of 8 fab sensory play ideas for toddlers. If you've been thinking about trying out messy play with your little one I thoroughly recommend popping over for some inspiration!

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Sunday, 23 March 2014

Silent Sunday

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Video review: Putting e-cloth and e-body products to the test

With two little ones under five any time that I have to myself is precious. As soon as Little Man is down for his morning nap I leap onto my laptop and get to work. As I'm a housewife as well as a freelance writer and blogger it's also my responsibility to keep Bod Towers spik and span so to maximise my work and me-time I want cleaning to be as efficient as possible. With this in mind the e-cloth range of cleaning products promises a lot and when they offered to send me some to review I was interested to see if they would deliver.

What's so special about e-cloths? 
There's lots of technical jiggery-pokery involved but essentially each e-cloth contains millions of tiny fibres, each one a thousand times finer than cotton. When you add water, which is attracted to dirt, grease and bacteria, the e-cloth lifts and traps the water and the dirt along with it. Simples. You just wash the e-cloth in the washing machine to renew it and all products in the e-cloth range are guaranteed for 300 washes.

As well as being environmentally friendly, because you only use water with an e-cloth you don't need chemical cleaning products, saving your household cleaning bill up to £100 a year so they say (although I'm a tad sceptical about that).

So that's the promise. I tried out the glass and polishing e-cloth (£4.99) first. Our internal doors have lots of glass panes that get routinely decorated with grime from little fingers and I usually use a polish and cloth to rub away at them although its hard to get them completely smear free. The e-cloth works best damp so I ran it under the tap and squeezed it out before wiping one of the panes gently in a circular motion and then drying it with the e-towel, a super-absorbent tea towel (£4.99). It actually did a great job, leaving the glass sparkling without much effort and no cleaning products.

Next to test the e-towel properly. I just happened to have a couple of wine glasses newly washed *ahem* and set to work drying them with the towel. Compared to my usual tea-towel it's quite thin and easy to push into the glasses to dry them thoroughly. Mmmm... not perfect results, definitely not as streak-free as promised, but pretty good none the less.

An e-cloth for your face?
Interestingly the bofins who came up with the e-cloth have used this same microfibre technology in a new range of body products. The e-body face cleansing mitt (RRP: £6.99) for example, is designed to quickly and gently remove make-up without the need for harsh and expensive make-up removers or cleansing lotions. The blurb even says its ideal for those who suffer from skin irritations, gently sweeping away dead skins cells while deeply cleansing your pores.

Mmmm...I wasn't so convinced about this one. I mean household grime is one thing but make-up is quite another. Could a cloth and just soap and water remove all traces of the BB cream, concealer, mineral foundation, blusher, eye liner and mascara that are needed to create my au natural face? Surely not without scrubbing and leaving my poor skin dry and begging for its usual moisturising cleanser and toner regime. But I'm nothing if not game so I decided to give it chance. Here's my video review...

Pros and cons
The only real drawback with the ecloth range is that while they can be washed in the washing machine at any temperature they can't be washed with conditioner (it clogs up the fibres) so I can't just chuck them in with any old washing load. However, the fact that they helped me to clean quickly and efficiently with just water is a real benefit. I'm not convinced about the e-towel but I'd recommend the e-cloth glass and polishing cloth and the e-body face mitt certainly beat all my expectations.

If you liked this review please consider voting for 
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Disclosure: I was sent an e-cloth glass and polishing cloth, an e-towel and an e-body face cleansing mitt to try out. I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Silent Sunday


Friday, 14 March 2014

Fashion Friday - on almost reaching my pre-baby weight

On the two occasions that I've been pregnant I've gained a significant amount of weight. Not for me the neat little mini-bump, oh no. With Little Main I gained 3.5st (49 lb) - well to be honest I stopped looking at the scales at this point so it could have been more - and we all know that baby is a teeny amount of that gain. I lost a fair amount of it by last Christmas but really wanted to tackle the remaining pounds and get back to my pre-baby weight again.

And I'm pleased to say I'm almost there! Only 2.5lb off my goal weight and this weekend I managed to fit into this pair of size 10 super skinny jeans from Boden. I was so delighted that I had to have a photo to celebrate the occasion.

I love these jeans. They're actually much more comfortable than you'd think as they're very stretchy and soft. The tobacco colour is classic but I also have a pair in Hibiscus which is a fab bright red just perfect for Spring, especially with a blue and white striped Breton top. On this occasion I paired them with a simple light blue shirt (made for me in the fabric market in Shanghai when we were in China) and gold sparkly flats from Next.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

On rediscovering an old brand - The Body Shop

There are not many brands that we can all enjoy as a family. I've got my favourites, OH has his and the kids are very choosy when it comes to everything from food (no Mummy not a yoghurt, a Frube) to toys and books. So when The Body Shop offered to send us some products that we could all enjoy I hesitated. I used Body Shop products in my younger days (only a couple of hundred years ago) and while I remember the creams and lip balms fondly I felt like I'd moved on. I decided to give them a fair chance to reconvince me.

We were sent four products to try out - for me a tub of Shea Body Butter (£13), for OH a tub of For Men Maca Root Shave Cream (£8), for Curly Girl a cute little pot of Born Lippy Lip Balm in Strawberry and for Little Man a tub of Buriti Baby Body Butter.

My Shea Body Butter arrived in a similar simple tub to the creams I remember and it has a delicious nutty scent. It's super rich and creamy and left my dry skin feeling nourished if a little oily. For me this is a treat and not something I could apply and then put my clothes on straight away as it needs a little time to sink into my skin, but fab for the weekend when I have a bit more time.

Little Man's Buriti Body Butter was a revelation! It has a lovely light and creamy consistency but when I rub it onto his body it somehow becomes like a liquid and disappears into his skin almost immediately. It has a delicate scent that isn't overpowering and I'm a huge fan. This is my new must-have baby cream.

OH's For Men Maca Root Shave Cream is a best seller for The Body Shop and is supposed to improve razor glide for a comfortable shave but my hubbie is pretty brand loyal and it took some convincing to get him to try something new. He reported back that it is super rich, lovely on his skin and very moisturising but that it did tend to clog up his 'wet n dry' shaver. On work days he's a man on a mission to get out the door so he said it was more of a weekend shaving cream when he's got more time.

Curly Girl's Born Lippy strawberry lip balm comes in a neat little pot and has a fruity, strawberry scent. The balm is bright red but it doesn't actually seem to add any colour to her lips, the only reason I'm letting her use it. She calls it her 'lipstick' and now comes up to me on a regular basis to pout and ask whether I think her lips are dry and need more lipstick. So cute. She loves that she can join in when I put my lipstick on in the morning and I know that it's good quality so I don't mind her slathering it on.

TOP TIP: If you're looking for help in creating the ultimate smoky 
eye look The Body Shop website has fab set of 'how to' videos

Incidentally I found out that the whole baby Buriti Bottom Butter might be discontinued (such a shame) so ran out to stock up on pots of it at my local store. While I was there I found that The Body Shop also has an All-in-one BB cream (£12) and it's become my new fav make-up base. Straight out of the tube it's a thin white cream but when you apply it to your skin tiny pigment-filled capsules burst and release the colour inside them - you just blend it into your skin and it matches your skin-tone. I'm always skeptical about products that say this but I must say this one is the real deal. I gives me an even finish with light coverage and keeps my skin hydrated. Who knew?

Have you rediscovered a brand from your 'youth'? Or do you remember using The Body Shop products when you were younger?

If you liked this review take a look at my other reviews and please
consider voting for Bod for tea in the MAD Blog Awards. Thank you!

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Monday, 10 March 2014

Parenting Around The Planet: Expat Mammy in Dubai

Today I'm delighted to welcome the lovely Expat Mammy as my guest here at Bod Towers for another in my occasional series of posts about Parenting Around The Planet. Expat Mammy is a mother of two, wife and blogger. She's living in Dubai for the second time, writing about parenting, travelling with children and suffering with Post Natal Depression. She says of her blog: "Sometimes I'm funny, sometime I'm not, however I'm always honest!" I love this frank and honest commentary on parenting in Dubai which has a lot of parallels with my experience of living in an 'Expat bubble' in Shanghai. I hope you enjoy reading it too.

You can find Expat Mammy on  and  and of course you can read about her day to day adventures in the United Arab Emirates at

If you'd like to contribute a post for Parenting Around The Planet get in touch with me on or by .


Being a parent away from my family and friends is normal for me, it always has and I'm not really sure how I'd cope parenting in the UK or Ireland if I'm honest, I'd probably feel like a fish out of water. It's kind of why I didn't really like Amsterdam, it looked and felt too normal, too much like home….it makes sense in my head anyway!

Dubai is a strange place for some, you either love it or hate it. I've heard it called a few names; pretentious, over the top, breath-taking, cosmopolitan, money……. to us it's home, they say home is where the heart is and our hearts will always be in our home towns but we left a piece of us here too, that's why we returned last year.

Parenting is NEVER easy wherever you are in the world and parenting here is a complete minefield. Parenting with postnatal depression while away from your family and everyone familiar is absolutely hell. However we have coped and hopefully we're getting closer to that light at the end of the tunnel.

Here is what I feel is different about parenting in Dubai...

The added pressure

Being here has allowed me to have the best full time job in the whole world, a stay at home mammy. I am at home all day with my two babies, I see them explore new things, I see LPV coming home from nursery with amazing vocabulary, Miss C babbling to herself in the morning sun out on the terrace. Being back here has helped my mood, I'm a happier mammy, I feel everyone in the house feels this too. LPV often comes up to me and tells me "I'm his best friend". That, right there, melts my heart and makes me feel so full of love and warmth that there's no need to be sad any more. I have a long way to go with my depression, I know this, but I have a great support network in Dubai and my friends are awesome. I can answer the door in my pj's and its Okay!!

However I do sometimes feel the Dubai pressures; the constant need to look how the glamazons do wandering through the malls with their Gucci diaper bags and two inch waist. I find never leaving the house without make-up exhausting to be honest. The women who don't sweat getting their kids in and out of the car - how do they do this? It occasionally runs away with me but I look at the kids and it bring me back to earth and to focus on what's really important.

First plane ride for miss C
The pressure to be super mum is rife here, who has made best costume for dress-up day, is your name closer to the top or bottom of the phone tree? Are you even on the phone tree?

Probably not.

Are you a member of the PTA? It's not just pressure on you as a mammy, it's the pressure on the children that ruffles my feathers. The whole school assessment process is appalling, two sometimes even three assessments on three year olds to get a school place. They come to your home, your child's nursery and then you get called to the school. You as a parent are judged, by your clothes, your relationship with your child and worse of all…..what type of passport you have! When you meet mammy's in the playground the first questions is what schools have you applied too, have you got a play, did you get an assessment? If you mention you're applying for a particular school "Oh that's really academic based" Yes and your point being??? Just what are you implying? I have personally felt a lot of pressure on LPV, for him to be able to write his name etc. I'm told it's what is expected here….well I won't push my child into anything and he develops at his own pace.

Safety first

My kids are my life, to keep them safe is my priority, I think this is why we haven't moved to the US yet and be honest I'm not sure if I could ever go with so many shootings there. That's what I love about this city; I feel safe, I feel my kids are safe. I'm not saying there are no threats or unsavoury people here but punishments are harsh with a lot of zero tolerance as a deterrent. However this doesn't stop me from having a complete and utter nervous breakdown when LPV does one of his "runners" in the supermarket or doing his favourite - hiding in clothes rack in sports shops!! So relieved in finding him we of course rip the head of him for running away then hug him when the blood pressure stabilises.

Haha, they'll never find me here!

Health and safety rules tend to be very flippant here, a friend has reported seeing live wires hanging out of wall in a school. The complete lack of common sense and utter stupidity of some local and EXPAT parents when it comes to car safety is just beyond belief. You have to blink and rub your eyes to believe it's true when you see a child no older than two hanging out of a car window like a dog!!

I am a proud mother of two gorgeous children, they're fair, have beautiful and green eyes I want to photograph them all day. However I find it very difficult when strangers are wanting to touch, hold and photograph my children . No one asks you if it's ok and to be honest NO, NO it's NOT ok that you're a perfect stranger and you want touch my pride and joy. My husband almost threw some guy's phone in a fountain when he came right into LPV's face and took a photo. It's wrong, some could say I have double standards posting my children on my blog……. but the word I offer you here is choice, this is my choice and have control over how much and what goes on there.

The safety issue can swing both ways, on the other side of the coin are the concerns about the bubble they live in. Dubai can be very shut off from the rest of the world. The zero tolerance they have on most things is awesome but is living in this environment making them naive? Being sheltered from the bad world I worry they'll be sitting ducks for the horrid people out there. I have a friend whose eldest son wanted to go to the UK to boarding school, he's grown up here in Dubai but had never been on a bus or train by himself. I feel that the children will find it hard to learn basic life skills that will make them a bit more street-wise. At night I lie awake thinking about what they'll become, have we done enough to turn them into well-rounded individuals, what can we do to protect and educate them?

Money and the Class system

Every country has them, however I feel it's to the extreme here. A lot of households have live-in maids, a small percentage of maids here practically raise the children. I believe that behaviour mirrors behaviour and when you see small children talking to these grown women like they're dirt I feel embarrassed to live here. A lot of expats here earn tax-free salaries and enjoy the high life, why not if you've worked hard enough for it. However don't forget where you have come from and the fact you would NEVER have it at home. Here in Dubai you don't pump your own petrol, wash your own car or pack your own groceries. I find it hard when the children are watching this, I purposely try to find a cashier with no help so I can do it myself, then someone rushes over to help. I don't want my children to feel that this is the norm. A massive fear of ours is ending up with the stereotypical EXPAT BRAT, so we're giving LPV little chores at home like picking up his dirty clothes and taking out his plate. Our children need to know that this isn't normal life to have all these things done for you. I'm super proud to say I have a very well-mannered child, who is pleasant and helpful.

Yes, flight attendant I'd like some Aptamil please!!

There is money here, lots of it! Unfortunately we're not up to our knockers in the stuff but we have a great house in a compound with our own pool, so the wee ones are very lucky! Dubai gives us so many opportunities, how many children do you know that are valet-parked for lunch and have flown business class? It's hard not to get sucked in by it all, surrounding yourself and your children by others who keep things real is so important. Activities that are available to children are phenomenal, so I try to limit their activities to "normal" ones; swimming lessons and a music class. I really don't think there a need for Miss C to be visiting the spa and LPV to go an activity every day, we actually just love going to play dates in the park. We are just doing the best we can, keeping it real while the rest of the city gets sucked into the lifestyle everyone thinks we lead. We get out of bed each morning, argue as to who's going to get up with the baby, feel like the worst parent ever when you forget their library book or send a cereal bar in their packed lunch. We're just being parents - we just do it in the sunshine!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Our first weekend away without kids for almost FIVE years

Last weekend was the first time in almost five years that we left the house together, sans little ones, for more than a few hours.

The preceding week was ALL about preparation and my poor parents were left with pages of information about routines, mealtimes and emergency phone numbers. The pack required a staple people. My Mother listened carefully while I told her things she already knew for the umpteenth time and told me not to worry.

I worried.

And when I wasn't worrying I was wracked with guilt. And when I wasn't doing either of these I was giggling like a school girl. Wheeeeee!

We tiptoed out of the house at ridiculous o'clock, jumped in the car to Gatwick and sat at Cafe Rouge sipping strong coffees while we waited to board our plane to Barcelona. I actually read Vanity Fair from cover to cover. And all the time I kept expecting a little hand to tug at my sleeve or a 'Muuuummeeeeee'. It was surreal.

Beautiful Calella de Palafrugell
We had an amazing weekend near Girona in Spain with grown up dinners, proper conversations that lasted more than five minutes and time to just be together. We visited pretty little villages like Calella de Palafrugel and Regencos and we almost bought a house (that's a whole other story). The time away gave us a chance to reconnect, as a couple rather than as Mummy and Daddy, and I would sooooo recommend it to any parents.

When we got home Curly Girl was so excited to see us and full of tales of the wonderful time she'd had with her grandparents. Little Man was unexpectedly distant, had learned to say 'Nana', forgotten how to say 'Mama' and cried most of the afternoon after my parents left. He'd recovered by the next morning thankfully but it did make my heart cry just a little.

While we were away I took the opportunity to wear some grown-up outfits (cashmere and Marmite on toast is not a good combination *sharp intake of breath*) so I'm also joining in with Fashion Friday from the gorgeous Vicki over at Mummy's Got Style (she has a fab competition this week too by the way, have you entered?). This is my travelling outfit photographed at our hotel Salles Hotel Mas Tapiolas.

Skirt - Ann Field wrap skirt at Zalando
Button back cashmere Jumper - from Italy, a present from OH
Tights - Marks & Sencer
Boots - M&S vintage (which means they're about 15 years old but it sounds sooo much better)
Sunglasses - Ralph by Ralph Lauren
Scarf - grey butterfly scarf by Lisa Angel at Not On The High Street
Earings - Tiffany
Necklace - Made for me in the jewellery quarter in Shanghai
Bag - aka the black hole - chestnut leather bought in Shanghai when we lived there

Have you had a weekend away without the children? Did you find it helped you to reconnect with your husband/wife/partner?

Thursday, 6 March 2014

7 things I wish I'd known about toddler boys before I had one

When I found out I was pregnant with a boy I wasn't concerned. I don't know anything about baby boys, I thought, but how different to little girls can they be? Fast forward 15 months and I know. They're definitely different. Here's five seven things I wish I'd known about toddler boys before I had one...

#1 The obvious one - stand back when you change them
I knew this. I knew it because everyone told me. But I'm still the only one in the family who has been caught out on more times than I care to admit. Why is this?

#2 Boys are well, boisterous
The clue is the name right? Seems like another obvious one but at fifteen months Little Man is SO much stronger and more boisterous than Curly Girl was at the same age. Heck, he's almost as strong as she is NOW and she's almost five. There's nothing he likes better than some ruff and tumble play which is exactly what I expected, I just didn't expect him to be able to wriggle out of my arms when I'm half way down the stairs. *gulp*

#3 ...and violent!
When you're a toddler it's all about me, me, me. That's my toy. That's my milk. Get off. As a result toddlers can be a touch aggressive. I count myself lucky with Curly Girl. While other Mummys at playgroup kept a watchful eye over their little ones to make sure that they weren't whacking other children over the head she was, more or less, the model of perfect behaviour. Indeed she was usually the one being whacked. With Little Man it's a different story. Don't get me wrong, he is completely adorable most of the time but there are lightening flashes of violence that leave me a bit stunned. For example, last week I was sitting crossed legged on the floor and Curly Girl came and perched on my knee. As soon as she sat down Little Man came toddling over and smacked her in the face crossly before trying to back into her space and sit down on top of her. What the...?!

#4 Kleptomania and misbehaviour
Curly Girl had her fair share of naughtiness but if she was playing with something she shouldn't have been then after a few strongly spoken disapprovals she would back off and find something else to amuse herself. Little Man, on the other hand, is unrelenting. He knocks down whatever anyone builds and throws noisy tantrums whenever he doesn't get what he wants. He happily takes everything out of all the drawers and cupboards in the kitchen before moving onto my handbag, OH's work bag and anything else that happens to be lying around. Doesn't matter what we say to him, he just smiles and toddles off with whatever he's nabbed. I spend most of my afternoons trying to locate the things he's rehomed. When he's a bit older we're not going to need the naughty step as much as a flight of naughty stairs.

#5 You don't need to buy any bath toys
Yep, it starts young. Who needs expensive bath toys when you've got one built in. No matter how Curly Girl tries to coerce him into playing a fun bath game, he's not interested. His 'can't you see I've already got my hands full' expression says it all.

#6 If it's food, it's going in
If you've been a regular reader of this blog you'll remember that when Curly Girl was younger I started the Fussy Eaters Support Club because it was so difficult to get her to eat anything. Little Man isn't half as choosy. Anything and everything goes in. If it looks edible he'll eat it. If it's on the floor, under the sofa or down the back of the radiator, he'll pop it in his mouth. It might get spat out again or thrown over his shoulder Henry VIII style to decorate the walls but it goes in first.

#7 They have problems with their ears and bums
At the moment Little Man is suffering with glue ear and constipation. I'm reliably informed that the two things are not connected (except by about half a mile of blood vessels) but they do seem to be common to boys - lots of my friends and acquaintances who've had boys tell me they suffered with more ear infections and toilet problems than their daughters did. I wonder if studies bear this out...

I realise that the title of this post makes it sounds like I'd change something about having Little Man if I'd known these things - of course that's not true. He's my last born and I completely adore him. But if I HAD known some of these things perhaps I might have prepared myself just a little bit more thoroughly...!

What do you wish you'd known about before having a baby boy? 

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Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Giveaway: Delicious Mother's Day chocs from Hotel Chocolat... and a special request

What does mother's day mean for you? A lie in? A hand made card coloured with crayons? Breakfast in bed? When I asked this question on my favourite survey tool - Twitter, naturally - I got some interesting answers...

What do all these things have in common? Special time for Mummy. Time to savour something, time to indulge, time to just be.

TIME. It's the one commodity you can't buy. And the one that so many people, myself included, take for granted.

I can't give you time. But I can give you the chance to savour something sweet for youself when you make that time. (And I thoroughly recommend that you do.)

Hotel Chocolat have offered me the chance to give away a box of their delicious H Box for my Mum Mothers day chocs, worth £13, to one lucky reader.

Here's how they describe them...
Our most heart-warmingly delicious chocolates filled with exciting and uplifting special recipes designed to make Mum happy this Mother's Day...

...Passion Fruit Truffle, Strawberry & Rose Truffle, Salted Caramel Cheesecake, Balsamic Caramel, Pink Champagne Truffle, Lemon Berry Tart, Caramel Praline, Chilli, Ginger & Almond Praline, Champagne Bellini, Soft Caramel and Triple-Layer Praline.
How yummy do these sound?! And here they are in all their chocolaty loveliness...

To enter just use the Rafflecopter widgety thing below and follow the instructions. And don't forget to sign up for the latest news about my giveaways!

But before you enter I have a special request. Please keep reading. 

Hotel chocolat offered to send a box of Mother's day chocolates to another blogger on my behalf. Since the passing of beautiful Matilda Mae last year Mother's day has a special resonance for me and Jennie at was the first person who came into my mind. Through her painful, beautiful words she has helped so many other Mummys like her for whom Mother's Day will be such an impossibly difficult time this year. It's not enough. Of course it's not, how could it be? But I want her to know that I'm thinking of her. And perhaps that's what Mother's Day is all about. So please, donate whatever you can afford to The Lullaby Trust this Mother's Day in Matilda Mae's name and keep her memory alive while helping others. Thank you.

Giveaway - Mother's Day chocolates from Hotel Chocolat

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer and all important small print: Hotel Chocolat offered me a box of chocolates as a giveaway prize. I received no other compensation and all opinions expressed 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.

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