28 March 2016

The Little ones get creative this Easter

The Little ones love to get creative so this Easter we have done a few simple crafts. First we made some simple cards for family and friends, just a little kit I had bought for them to do after school one evening. They both still like to do cutting and sticking and are often asking to get the sticking bits out of the cupboard and make things, especially Little 1, she likes to make cards a lot and often comes home from school with things she has made during break.

Lots of glue, a pile of cards and some sticky fingers later, we dug out some more sticking bits and Little 1 and 2 made some Easter pictures too. It was interesting watching the girls personalities coming out on their pictures. Little 2 put her bunnies in a line with flowers in between them, it was all nicely spaced out and then she carefully laid the grass in 2 straight lines, she took her time over her picture and was very careful.

Little 1's picture was similar in design but showed her slightly more haphazard and rushed personality, especially with the grass, she pulled and tugged it out of the packet, and stuck lots down with bits everywhere, it was all stuck to her fingers and all over the table too. It was really quite interesting watching the two of them create their pictures.

Instead of Easter eggs, as the Little Ones get lots from other people, Nanny usually buys the Little Ones a gift for Easter instead, this year she bought the girls Easter bonnets and bits to put on them, chicks, bunnies, bugs and little eggs.

We had fun making the bonnets, some of the bits stuck on and some things needed to be sewn, Nanny helped Little 2 and I helped Little 1, the girls loved the little polystyrene eggs, Little 1 and I made them into little nests and Little 2 wanted an Australian style hat with eggs hanging off the sides, it did look a little funny!

Easter Monday saw us doing an Easter egg hunt which we have been to for the past few years, the girls had to look for 12 bunnies around a local nature reserve and write down their names in order to get themselves an Easter egg. They both had fun finding the bunnies and jumping in muddy puddles on the way around too. 

Then there was more creativeness from the girls as they did some colouring for the colouring competition. Little 1 did hers rather quickly and set off with Daddy to hunt for a specially well hidden golden egg which even though we have hunted really hard for them over the last few years we had not ever been lucky enough to find one. Daddy and Little 1 read the clues and off they went to hunt.

Little 2 spent a lot of time doing her colouring, almost half an hour in fact, she was so careful staying in the lines and colouring each section at a time, even though she did the whole picture purple. She loves purple, all her drawings are generally purple at the moment! When she had finished we went off to find Little 1 and Daddy, just as we reached them Little 1 found a golden egg and we went back to claim her large Easter egg prize. Armed with chocolate and a sleepy toddler we headed home to the girls chatting about how much chocolate we might let them eat when we got back.

Update: Little 2 won the colouring competition for her age group, she was very pleased to pop and collect her chocolate prize to add to the collection of eggs in the kitchen cupboard. Well done Little 2.

24 March 2016

Introducing the Totsbots EasyFit Star nappy

For the last month we have been carrying a secret (literally), we have been testing out the New Totsbots EasyFit Star cloth nappy, a new version of the Totsbots EasyFit v4 with some great new features and benefits.

Totsbots EasyFit Stars are a slim-fitting easy to use 'all in one' cloth nappy and with no assembly required, a waterproof layer and an attached absorbent core they are really simple to use. And with the durable hook and loop fastening they are as easy to use as a disposable nappy too.

Just popper down the front poppers to fit from birth (around 8lb) and undo as baby grows all the way to potty training (up to 35lb), pretty economical don't you think. 

'one piece-opened out'
There are some great new features on these nappies. They have a New ultra soft bamboo core made with the same fabric as the Totsbots bamboozle stretch nappy, it is soft, super absorbent and has no chemicals next to baby's skin.

There are New clever stitch free seams for maximum on the bum performance and a New 'no escape' Bamboo Buffer Zone meaning a great performance and fewer changes too. There is also a New waterproof tummy zone keeping the wetness in the core of the nappy.

'The tummy zone'
Totsbots were kind enough to send us 5 of the New EasyFit Stars to put through their paces and with a heavy wetter like mine Little 3 was definitely able to thoroughly put them to the test. I loved the simplicity and slimness of the nappy right from the start, they are much less bulky than our usual nappy. I was so looking forward to getting these nappies on Little 3 that we only did one prewash before we started using them and as every cloth nappy user knows, it takes several (up to 10 even) washes to get nappies up to full absorbency, I have to be honest and say I was expecting a few leaks because of this but there weren't any.

Little 3 is a power pee'er, he seems to be able to hold it for ages and then let it all go at once, believe me can soak a nappy (or the change mat and all his clothes) in seconds. I was hoping for great things and the Totsbots EasyFit Star did not disappoint. Little 3 has been wearing these for a month now and we have not had a single wee leak whilst wearing them, I am seriously impressed, nor has he had damp trousers or a soggy waistband thanks to the tummy zone and other new anti- leak features which I think is a great. 

The nappy did let me down once though in the most horrific of out-the-side, down-the-leg  kind of way which was not fun and ever since we have been careful as to what time of day we use them, preferring our old faithful nappies for the first change of the day, but we haven't had any poo leaks at other times. Having said that I love these nappies and they are either on the bottom or in the wash and hardly spending anytime in the drawer at all. They look so slim and comfortable allowing Little 3 to move around easily, they fit really well (at 21lb we are using them on the middle rise setting) and there is loads of room for him to grow too.

Being an all-in-one nappy and made of slower drying but super absorbent bamboo fabric they do take a little longer to dry than my other bamboo nappies, on the arier my nappies are usually dry in 24-36 hours whereas these take 36-48 hours and need turning inside out to finish off, so you might want to have a few more in your stash to keep you going.

N.B We received these nappies free of charge for the purpose of this review, however all views and opinions are our own honest thoughts.

21 March 2016

Little 3 at one year old

Little 3 has changed so much over the last few weeks, he has turned into a cheeky little fellow, smiling and laughing, shooting cheeky smiles as he dives behind the curtains to appear grinning from ear to ear calling ba (boo). 

He has turned into a proper little boy and loves rough and tumble, he has taken to crawling really fast and then suddenly dropping his head to the carpet and rolling over on his back laughing expecting you to 'get' him and tickle him. It is really funny and I adore his giggles but he has almost tripped me up several times doing it randomly as I am walking past!! 

He finally stopped calling me 'bab' this week and has started calling me Mumma. I heard it for the first time while we were walking around Tesco of all places, he was in the pushchair and thought I heard him muttering mum, mum, I must have looked a bit odd standing in front of the pushchair going 'yay, did you say mummy, can you say mummy!!' He has said it several times since with a big cheesy grin, I reckon he has known how to say it for ages and was just making me wait.

He is getting stronger on his legs and is beginning to stand unsupported for a few seconds and we have had a couple of attempts at a step but his balance is not good and he falls straight back down, he is very good with the walker he had for his birthday though. He would still rather get down, crawl 6 inches and stand up again than just cruise a bit so he is in no hurry to walk, but he is dying to get out the pushchair and join in with the girls running ahead on the school run judging by the grunts and excited leg kicking as he watches them speed ahead.

He has begun to 'play' now too. instead of just exploring objects and throwing, banging or eating them, he has begun to push cars around and put shapes in the shape sorter, he is exploring his toys properly and loves to tidy up too. When we were playing with the play people and house he began to copy me and was pretending to make the people move and put them in the bath and bed when I was saying 'he is going to bed etc', later he was playing with Little 2 and doing the same thing, put the play people in the bath and bed and saying ba for bath. Little 2 thought it was great that he could actually play with her now and they had a wonderful time together that afternoon.

Since then Little 2 has had a renewed love for her little brother and has begun to play with him far more. The relationship between the two of them is growing strongly and they have got quite close of late until Little 3 gets over excited and smacks or bites his elder sister. Little 2 is very good about it though and firmly tells him it is not nice to hit/bite and continues as if nothing has happened.

Little 3 is teething again too, he hasn't wanted me to look but he has been biting A LOT this past week or two and it wasn't until I had to fish something out of his mouth that I felt two new additions taking his total of teeth to 10!! Little 3 has cut his top and bottom left molars, he had been so good about it bless him, we had a run of several night wake ups but he resettled quite quickly so didn't think much of it but now I know it was probably teeth.

At 12 months old Little 3...

Is cruising and beginning to stand unaided
Has finally said 'Mum'
Uses a spoon and eats what we eat
Has 10 teeth
Now has just one nap a day
Has begun to play 'properly' and 
Loves to tidy up.

17 March 2016

My Little 1, my superstar

I do not tend to write about Little 1 as much as the Little 2 and 3 at the moment, she is at school all week and at weekends rather than having the camera to hand snapping pictures, I am spending time with them all not thinking about what to write for the next blog post and enjoying the time with my children instead.

This week was parents evening at school and as I sat there and listened to all the things Little 1's teacher was telling me about my daughter, almost all things I already knew, I could not but smile and think of my daughter proudly, my clever, helpful ,thoughtful, sensible little superstar.

Little 1 has always been bright and being one of the eldest in her year with an early October birthday she was well and truly ready to go to school when she did. This readiness held her in good stead and she took to learning, reading and writing like a duck to water and has never looked back.

I knew she was doing well from the last parents evening back in September and the things that she tells me about her day, the level of her reading book and speed at getting through her maths targets we practice at home. She has recently earned her silver star award too, in her school they earn stars for good bits of work, being exceptionally helpful etc and work their way through bronze, silver and gold during the school year. Last year she was 2 stars off her gold award at the end of the year and her goal this year is to achieve it.

Daddy and I sat and listened to Little 1's teacher tell us that she is doing very well, apparently she has to go to the year above to fetch reading books as she has read all the ones in year one and is well on her way to completing all the levels (she is on the last band now) and becoming a free reader a year ahead of the expected norm. Her spelling, writing (although she has a tendency to rush and could write a little neater!) and maths is great and there are no concerns about her whatsoever. We have tried telling her that 'quality not quantity is best' and to slow down and concentrate on writing a bit neater, to take more time to think about what she is doing and that as long as she works well and does her best we are happy whatever the result but try getting a 6 year old to understand that finishing first doesn't matter.

Her teacher also told us that she is really helpful often offering to help tidy and set things up with her and her friends before going out to play. She said that Little 1 has some sort of magical rapport with her peers and a great many friends in the class. She told us that she has asked Little 1 to help some of the other children with difficult tasks, to talk them through it and explain it to them (helping her own understanding and comprehension in the process) and helping her friends too. She said that Little 1 has a great ability to do this and is fast becoming the one her peers turn to for help. 

As parents we are really proud of our daughter and think she is amazing, a little star but part of me also wonders if this is a little bit too much for our little girl. She wants to do her best and works hard but she also wants to keep up with the other high flyers in the class. At the end of last year she suffered with a bit of burnout as end of year tiredness conflicted with her need to work hard and there were a lot of tears. I am a little worried that she isn't having enough down time during her day if she is helping during breaks and helping others when she has finished her own work and that the same thing will happen this year. 

14 March 2016

A little boy, a first birthday and some balloons

It is a big event for us today, today is Little 3's first birthday, my little boy is growing up, my last baby is not officially a baby anymore he has become a toddler, eek. The past year has had it's ups and downs but the last few weeks with my little boy have been great.

As Daddy was at work and the girls were at school and preschool all day today, the actual day of his birthday, and knowing that he would just be tired and grumpy by the time everyone was home in the evening, we decided to be a little naughty and celebrate his birthday yesterday instead. We had already spent Saturday with the help of the girls making Little 3's birthday cake, a simple victoria sponge with buttercream all over it and chocolate buttons in the form of a 1 and we took the children swimming and to the park followed by flapjack and hot chocolate in the leisure centre cafe. Sunday morning was spent playing with the fisher price garage we had cleaned and brought down from the loft (it had been little 2's as a toddler) and opening presents. Later on we'd invited the cousins and grandparents over and had a proper Sunday tea which was lovely.

I tried to do a mini photoshoot with some balloons and the girls in the hope of getting some nice pictures, we ended up getting rid of the balloons as Little 3 preferred to try and eat them but we got some nice snaps.

Happy Birthday Little 3 x

9 March 2016

We need a new set of baby wheels

The time has come to seriously think about a new set of baby wheels AKA the pushchair. Our current mode of transport is a travel system that I bought nearly 7 years ago when I was pregnant with Little 1 and I can only imagine the miles that pushchair has done.

It has been totally and utterly great and well worth the money I spent on it all those years ago, it was one of the lower mid priced ones back then and nothing like the fandangly fancy ones you can get these days but it has done it's job well and apart from a new raincover and worn out wheels it is still going strong, it has been everywhere with us.

It is still a great pushchair and I do really like it, especially the massive shopping basket seeing as I have to do all the shopping on foot as I do not drive and Daddy has the car for work, it is also great for carting the girls lunches, bookbags etc home from school too. It is warm and cosy in the winter with the thick and snuggly footmuff and has some great features.

The issue is it is very heavy and big, we have nowhere to store it at home so it ends up taking up half the downstairs bathroom where it is in the way of the sink and we are constantly tripping over the wheels getting to the loo. It is also very heavy (I have trouble lifting it) to get it up and into the car boot where it takes up the whole floor of the boot leaving no room for shopping, there is no way we could fit luggage for holiday in the car with this pushchair in the boot. It is also that little bit too wide for the preschool ramp and doorway and navigating the aisles of the shops in town so I can get fed up with it at times.

Now that the weather is warming up and Little 3 is that bit older I think it is time to get a smaller more lightweight and practical buggy. We had a lovely Silver Cross pop one for Little 2 we used for a short while until Daddy tried to squash it in the car boot with all the holiday stuff and bent the back wheels, it now squeaks and wobbles and the wheels have worn out on one side, we asked about replacing parts but it isn't an option on the bit that is damaged.

Our idea pushchair would have..

A large hood- for sun and wind protection
A raincover -obviously
A snuggly cosytoes/buggy liner- for the colder days and winter school runs
A big shopping basket- a must for me
A pocket or cup holder- for my keys and tissues
Recline without waking up a snoozing toddler
Collapse down easily without taking up too much space
It would be Lightweight
And have not too tall handles as I am only 5 foot 2!!

Do you know a pushchair that fits the bill, I'd really like a nice one with a lovely print but one that isn't too expensive, it needs to last Little 3 at least a couple of years and we walk everywhere so it will get used a lot. I need to go shopping...

update: My travel system finally gave up on us, a week after writing this one of the front wheels snapped off, on the school run -cue dashing home, dumping the broken buggy as we were closer to home than school and lugging Little 3 in my arms all the way there and back!! A plastic part attaching the wheel to the chassis had snapped, so we are now in DESPERATE need of a pushchair but using the damaged wobbly one at the mo until I can persuade Daddy to let me go shopping!

7 March 2016

Negotiating nap times

We are currently in the process of nap time negotiations with Little 3 and by the looks of it we are down to one nap a day now. Napping has not been one of Little 3's best points up until recently, as a tiny baby he would only nap while having a lazy feed on me meaning he was pinned to my chest and me to the sofa for long periods of time. If I knew he wasn't hungry, I had dinner to cook or a school run to do he would scream until he fell to sleep exhausted on my shoulder or in the pushchair where he would sleep 20 minutes MAX and then we would be back to square one. The early days were tough and Little 3 was quite often tired but it did get better.

By 5 months old he had found his thumb and began to sleep a little better although he mostly still wanted to fall asleep on someone, he would go down in his cot once settled but you could set a clock by him and guarantee that he would be awake in 25 minutes maximum. He did this three times a day, after the morning school run, midday and after the afternoon school run, there simply was not enough time to do anything in this short space of time. I usually used it to prepare the next meal for myself and the girls or read a quick story/play a game with them if I wasn't hurriedly putting the washing out or something. As a family we found it rather tough, Little 3 was still tired when he woke and unhappy but nothing I tried would get him back down, he demanded a lot of our attention and the girls didn't get enough. 

Little 3 was so different to Little's 1 and 2, they had both been model babies, they would nod off in the bouncer after a feed and sleep ages, doze happily in the pushchair or out in the car, they would both go to sleep by themselves and slept in their cots for naps once they were a few months old. Little 3 was a completely different child, he needed cuddles and holding, he wanted us and with two other children to care for it was not easy, perhaps it was the reflux and he was more comfortable upright, I have no idea.

Slowly but surely he began to self settle and go down in his cot with just a quick cuddle and things got better still. By 7 months he had begun sleeping much better at night once we realised he wanted a muslin as a comforter and the odd nap was more than 25 minutes! This continued until the beginning of this year when we moved him out of our room. 

Now if you had told me that Little 3 would not be in his own room until he was 9 months old I would have laughed out loud. Little's 1 and 2 were in their own rooms and sleeping through at 6 and 4 months respectively, we hadn't moved Little 3 before that as he had been such a poor sleeper waking 3 or 4 times a night and wanting feeding and later cuddling back to sleep. We didn't want him to wake the girls, the head of his cot in his room is up against the wall of Little 1's room and we didn't want her disturbed, she had school to go to and needed her rest.

Shortly after going into his own room Little 3 began to sleep through the night a whole 12 hours several times a week and oh how it was bliss, after nearly a year of interrupted sleep (if you count waking up for a wee in pregnancy too) I was sleeping much better and Little 3 was so much happier and rested too.

Sleep = happy cheeky chappy!
6 weeks ago he began lengthening his morning nap to around an hour or more and taking half an hour to an hour after lunch too. It was lovely to see him happy, rested and getting the sleep he needed, he began to sleep through the night nearly every night too, all this sleep did mean he was ready to start the day around 5.30am though but I'd have that anyday rather than being up half the night.

This past week or two as he approaches his first birthday, Little 3 has dropped down to one nap, he is not tired after the school run and now goes down around 11ish and sleeps until lunch sometimes an hour and the other day 2 and a half!! The bonus of him having one nap is we can now go to more baby groups as he is awake in the morning and early afternoon. The best bit of all, now that he is tired by bedtime having been awake since lunch, we have been having to wake HIM up in the mornings at 7am to get breakfasted before going to school!

I am much happier and not nearly so exhausted now that everyone is getting a better night's sleep, having a block of time late morning while Little 3 naps means I can spend quality time with Little 2 when she is not at preschool and get all the jobs done on the days that she is. And with this happy chappy waking up with a grin like this...

...because he is finally getting the sleep that he needs, our household is full of giggles, laughter and playing these days rather than a tired grumpy baby.

How did naps evolve for you? Did you have the problems that we did with Little 3??

1 March 2016

Mummy overcomes a fear

For as long as I can remember I have been afraid of the dentist. I have vivid memories of the dentist surgery I went to as a child, I always knew when we were going as we would drive in the opposite direction of our home when we left school, Mum didn't tell us we were going until then as she knew I hated going.

I can remember it was a large converted house on a main road and painted very white, it was clinical and smelt like rubber gloves, there were toys in what was once the front room and oh how I hated sitting waiting in there.

I can not remember what sparked my fear for I never had anything done to me as a child. My parents made us brush our teeth religiously and I thank them for it although when I was little I probably didn't. Every dental check I would have a clean bill of health and so I really do not have a particular event that would have caused my fear. The only thing that I can think of is that my poor younger brother was not as lucky as me. He had to have lots of fillings in his milk teeth even though we both brushed our teeth the same, his were obviously not as strong as mine and as we went at the same time I watched them all (thankfully his adult teeth have been much stronger).

I can not really put a finger on what it is that bothers me, it isn't particularly the setting, the white room and the chair although it does not put me at ease. I know that going to the dentist these days is not generally painful with all the advances in technology. I don't like the dentist being close to me, in my personal space and in my mouth so maybe it is that, I don't like the instruments in there either poking around but who does? I don't understand it but all I know is I hate the dentist.

I have always attended my check ups though and take the Little Ones too. In my mind although I hate going I would rather have the dentist find something small that is easy to fix than not go for years and suddenly end up with raging toothache or major work needing doing. I think it is important to take the children regularly too as they are a bit uncertain, this way they will get used to it and not fear the dentist as I do. I am very careful not to show my feelings about the dentist as I do not want them to feel like me. Little 1 had her first dentist appointment at 18 months and so far the girls seem okay with it, they will both sit in the chair as long as I stand beside them to hold their hand and they love getting the sticker afterwards.

When the 'appointment due' letter comes through the door it fills me with dread, I'll leave it a few weeks mustering the courage to make the phonecall for the appointments and then make it for the next available school holiday so that I do not have to take Little 1 during school time as we generally all go together. Doing this gets me at least and extra month or two before I have to go!!

Up until last month at the grand ol' age of 32 and a bit I can proudly say that I had never ever had a filling, the only thing I have had is a little bit of cleaning a couple of times and do you know what I was really pleased with that fact. Then it happened....

Daddy had bought me some of my absolute favourite treat for Christmas, Thorntons chocolate covered toffee.... mmmm. I only have it on my birthday and Christmas usually as I know it is bad for my teeth! We had been eating it over a few nights a little bit in the evening, I am sure that is what did it. One lunchtime I thought my tooth was rough, I cleaned them thinking it was food but over the next few days it began to sink in that I had done something, I needed to go to the dentist. Although it wasn't painful I wanted to get it sorted asap as it was on my mind and the fear would just be there until I had done something about it.

I went to the appointment, feeling awful, I hadn't slept well for a few days and realised I had been pretty short tempered with the children too, I hadn't been able to eat as my stomach was in knots and I felt really quite sick.....

Yes I did need a filling, a bit of tooth had come out the middle (it probably was the toffee, no more of that from now on then) but I had to make another appointment for a weeks time.... grrr after all that, I'd even told the receptionist that I needed to make an appointment for a filling not a check up. The dentist was not my usual dentist and could tell I was uneasy, she explained that it was just a small one and not much drilling (phew) still I was going to have to do it wasn't I.

The day came and I actually felt better than the previous appointment, I could eat and I had slept well too, the only sign of nerves was the fact that my hands were shaking badly. I had the option of having the local anesthetic or not and quickly decided to go for it as I don't mind needles normally and if I hadn't had it and the filling hurt that would be it for me wouldn't it, the fear would be worse after that.

It was all over pretty quick, I had done it, overcome my fear of having a filling. I can't say I was relieved at all, I just feel worried that this is the beginning of more dental treatment now that I am getting older. I do however feel a little bit more 'meh' about the dentist, still don't like the thought of going, about them finding something, having things in my mouth but I am not so fearful as I was, maybe next time I will not be shaking quite so much... at least I don't have to go for another 6 months, hopefully.