Saturday, 30 April 2011

A quick question

This has been puzzling me now for a little while, so I thought I'd get the internet's opinion.

If someone asks you to strip the bed & put the bed linen in the wash, what do you do?

Do you:
a) Remove only the fitted sheet, and wash that, leaving the duvet cover & pillow cases as they were, and leave the mattress bare
b) Remove all the bed linen and wash it, but leave the mattress, pillows & duvet bare.
c) Actually remove and wash everything and replace with a nice new clean set of bed linen.

I could have understood option B, with the likely excuse that he couldn't find a clean set.  But A?

Men, huh?

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Graco Parent & Child Interaction Day

Was it really a week ago?  Apparently so.  Well, it was a week ago that I found myself in the bar of the Drury Lane Travelodge with Squeaky, a couple of good friends and a reasonable bottle of red wine, anyway.

Last Wednesday, Squeaky & I jumped on the train to make our way to London for a press day with Graco,  along with some of our fellow Graco ambassadors.  We had a reserved seat. but as I had the Symbio with me and didn't really want to leave it unattended, we commandeered the wheelchair space at the end of the carriage (there weren't any passengers with wheelchairs needing it, don't worry!) and left our seat for someone else.  This meant we had a lovely space for Squeaky to stretch her legs & enjoy the journey (and I didn't have to have her on my lap for 2 hours solid).

I'd already scoped out my routes from the station to hotel, and hotel to The Future Gallery, and found that due to some fairly major works, the underground was a non-starter, so we leapt on the bus, and watched the world go by as it limped slowly up Oxford Street. I was having visions of trying to get us both on board an old-fashioned London Routemaster bus (you know, the ones with the door at the back & the spiral staircase), but they don't really exist any more, or at least not on the route I needed.

Well, enough about that.  The press day itself, seeing as that's what we were there for.  Squeaky & I were the first to arrive (by about an hour & a half, if I'm honest, but that includes the time spent having a sneaky McD's breakfast & a stroll round Leicester Square), and were greeted by the lovely Jane, who has been at the receiving end of a lot of my emails over the last few months (and yet she still smiles!), and we were soon joined by Wendy, Emma, Danielle & Lindsey with their lovely children, Symbios & Fusios.  (That's the pushchairs by the way, not their children's names.)

Dr Suzanne Zeedyk & Emma Kenny both gave presentations regarding child psychology, parent/child interaction, the effects on children's development & how changes to pushchair design through the years, and across the globe, have changed the way children experience their world.  There are many reasons why the old fashioned Pram (think Princess Di pushing Wills around [look! I'm being topical!]) has given way to the outward facing buggy so popular today - greater use of cars, engineering, safety advances, storage, fashion, celebrity, the list goes on.  But these outward facing buggies, allowing children to see the world, could be creating stress for the baby, as well as denying them the opportunity to interact with their parents.

Children are born connected, and not just by the umbilical cord.  Studies have shown that babies can recognise sounds, songs, and words heard in the womb after they are born.  Babies are born mimics, and face-to-face interaction helps stimulate the growth of neural paths, promoting the child's intellectual and emotional development.

Both the Symbio & Fusio have the option to face either inwards or outwards, enabling communication and building stronger bonds between parent & child.  I love this, and usually have Squeaky facing me to we can chatter while we walk - but I've always got the option to flip the handle and show her the world (or pull her through a doorway, honestly, that is such a useful feature).

I have to admit at one moment during Suzanne's talk, my little brain went walkabout.  Suzanne spoke about how touch stimulates the production of Oxytocin, a hormone that promotes happiness, love, and a warm & squishy feeling.  My brain, still filled with breastfeeding mentor training went haywire, and started wondering why we weren't also talking about Prolactin and "P makes it produce, O makes it flow!" Luckily I kept that thought to myself, until now at least.

We also had a bash at baby massage, with the lovely folks from Tiddley pom, and had a Symbio vs Fusio pushchair shootout, where Squeaky & I came second to Danielle's lightning Fusio skills!  Seriously, she's a whizz. I also had a lovely chat with Katy from Pushchair Trader about the FlipFlop test (or what happens when you galumph down the road rather than taking delicate tippy-toe steps and fall over your footbrake) The Symbio's fingertip brake is a great big pass on that test.

It was great to meet the other ambassadors, and we had a good chat, ate lots of cake and played a quick round of baby Russian Roulette (go me, linking to my own posts!) before heading back out into the world with our goodie bags. At this point, I should admit that my macaroons didn't make it past Paddington Station, but they were lovely. Our journey home was completed with a cancelled local train, the next one being full to bursting with drunk & sunburnt people who'd spent the whole day on Barry Island beach, and a slow stagger up the hill home.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Magpie Monday - Toytown

This isn't the Magpie Monday I planned to post today, that one can wait til next week.

Today is toyday, I've decided.

We hit the car boot sales of Cannock yesterday, after a thoroughly unsuccessful tour of at least half a dozen uninspiring charity shops on Saturday.  And after about an hour, we thought the car boot sales were going to be just as fruitless.  I spotted a couple of In The Night Garden... books & toys on one stall, but they were overpriced, and the stall holder wasn't prepared to haggle at all, so we walked away.

We were just about to give up, and I'm not joking here, honestly, we were all set to go back to the car as we'd had enough, when we realised there was *just one more row* on this side of the sale, so we might as well finish the job.  And there she was.  Lottie!

 For the uninitiated, Lottie is a Mamas & Papas rocking ladybird.  Cost about £60 new, give or take. I paid £5 for her.  They're selling for £20-£25 on ebay, so when Squeaky grows out of her, I may well sell her to get my money (and more) back.  She's in really good condition.  We borrowed a Lottie from our local toy library a few months ago, and that one was far more worn & stained, this is almost brand new. We love Lottie!

Come join the Magpie Monday party.  Me and My Shadow

Monday, 18 April 2011

Shloer Summer Fruit Punch Review

After having tried some of the regular Shloer earlier this year, I was really pleased to be offered the chance to try the limited edition Shloer Summer Punch variant. I've been waiting for a suitably sunny day to sit outside with a glass, but they only seem to be happening when I'm at work. Bah, I say.  So instead I'm sampling in the comfort of my living room while Squeaky's asleep & her Daddy's on a late shift.

The Summer Fruit Punch, like the rest of the Shloer range is alcohol free, based on grape juice.  This one though, is something a bit different.  It's kind of a non-alcoholic version of a certain long drink, usually served with a load of bits of fruit in the glass, popular at Wimbledon.  You know the one I mean!

And?  Well, it is a very grown up tasting drink.  I have a sneaking feeling you could get away with serving it to people and having them think it was boozy.  I can't quite describe the flavour, Jilly Goolden would probably say things about cinnamon sticks & fresh cut grass. It's not sweet, which is what I was expecting, most "fruit punch" type flavours are just strawberry and apple and cloyingly sweet.  This isn't that at all, it's proper grown up and delicious.

Shloer have also launched a facebook app, The Shloer Sunday Cookbook, where users can share recipes, pick up ideas, and enter each month's competition to win a half day's cookery course.  I missed the date to submit my recipe this month, but watch out in the future!

What did I serve my Summer Fruit Punch with? I'm sure you're dying to know.  Well, I didn't have quite as much fruit to hand as the picture above, so a simple slice of plum (yum yum, I'm addicted to plums at the moment), and served alongside a cheese & onion pasty.  Who said this blogging lark wasn't glamorous?

Disclosure: I was provided with a bottle of Shloer Summer Fruit Punch free of charge for the purpose of this review.  I was not told what to write, and all opinions are my own.  Links are provided for your convenience only, I am not a member of any affiliate scheme & will not receive reward for their use.

Magpie Monday - Storytime

Once upon a time, there was a very Squeaky baby.  She went with her mummy & daddy to visit Grandma & Grandpa.  While they were there, they went on a nice walk.  Squeaky's mummy had just changed Squeaky's nappy, so didn't take the changing bag out with her.  Silly mummy!  They had a lovely walk in the sunshine, and found a car boot sale.  Sadly, there wasn't very much there, but Squeaky's mummy did find a lovely yellow top & trousers for 50p. which she thought would be lovely for springtime.

Then, everyone went to the coffee shop for a nice cappucino.  Squeaky had a drink of her own.  Then something terrible happened.  Something the mummies reading this have probably already anticipated, but for those who haven't, or are of a delicate disposition, I can only refer to as The Poosplosion Incident.  Oh Dear!  Squeaky's trousers and vest were covered in sticky poo! Whatever could we do?  Luckily there was a supermarket nearby, so Squeaky's mummy bought some nappies and wipes.  And Squeaky got to wear her brand new outfit on the day that it was bought, because the alternatives were either half-naked baby, or stinky poo-covered baby, neither of which are really very nice.

As you may have guessed, this is that outfit.

And as it's story time, a story book for Squeaky.  My aunt is bordering on certifiable, and for some reason buys pretty much everything she finds with ducks on it to send to me.  I still haven't figured it out, so if you have any insight into the workings of the minds of aunties, let me know.  Well, this book, I figured "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em", and thought I may as well buy it myself, as I was bound to end up with a copy at some point.  It's not bad as far as they go, even though Squeaky's not 2 yet, she can't read the cover.  It's not like an 18, they don't suddenly start talking about "adult themes" in 2 year olds' books.  I'm wondering now, what would be appropriate in a 2 year old's book, but not in a 1 year old's? 

Jump onboard, folk! Me and My Shadow

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Back on the hamster wheel

I've made a couple of mentions of work, and I kind of planned to write this post last week, only it didn't happen.

Well, I should have gone back to my old job back in October when my maternity leave ran out, but one way or another, I decided it wasn't really for me, and chose not to return.  Spent a lovely few extra months with Squeaky, and trying to find something that I wanted to do, and that met my basic desire for something part-time & close to home.

A few failed interviews, and a lot more failed application forms later, and I found something.  I'm not going to use this as a work blog, that's not what this is about. But so far, the job is everything I wanted it to be, with extra sprinkles.  So I'm a happy blogger.

This is more about Squeaky.  She's in nursery now while I'm at work, or at home with Squeaky Daddy, depending on his work shifts.  So far she's had 3 full days in nursery, and 3 days at home.  And the difference it's made already, I'm struggling to believe.  She's come on so much in terms of independence, eating better for herself, and becoming more of a toddler & less of a baby.  She cries when we drop her off, and again when we pick her up (though she did that at the crèche while I was on the breastfeeding peer support course, so I expected that.) but she's getting on and doing, playing & joining in with the activities the rest of the time like it's the most normal thing in the world for her.  A huge relief.

As for me?  Well, I can drop her off just fine.  But when I come to pick her up, or hold her in my arms, put her to bed, that's when it rips me to pieces.  I realise what I'm missing.  I know it's best for both of us - I need that mental stimulation & time to be "me" again, not just an appendage to Squeaky, and for her it gives her socialisation & contact with other children that as a (so far at least) only child, with no other real family around, she's otherwise missing out on.  It's hard though.  Someone tell me it gets easier?  Please?

Monday, 11 April 2011

Magpie Monday - Holidays 2

I promised you some of the bargains I did buy (as opposed to the list of bargains I didn't buy) when we were in Devon the other week.

Right. First of all, proof that I do occasionally buy things for me, not just Squeaky.  A crinkly Cotton Traders shirt.  Soft as anything.  I'm not 100% convinced about it for work, the buttons are a bit eager to pop undone, but as a cover-up it's fab.  And a random book, as I'd finished the book I took with me, and needed something to read while Squeaky's drifting off to sleep of an evening. The cover just appealed to me.  It's actually already gone back to one of our local charity shops, despite the comment on the inside cover that it's "Brilliant, a keeper".

Second up, a holiday outfit for Squeaky.  Picked up on a car boot sale somewhere near Torquay.  According to the lady I bought it from, it came from Malaysia, and was bought for her child, who then grew at all the wrong times so never got chance to wear it.  There was a yellow & green one too (like the top bit of the shorts), but I fell in love with the colours on this one.  If anyone says Squeaky looks like a boy, they'll have me to answer to!  It's all handmade, the waist fits perfectly now, but there's so much stretch to it, we'll get loads of wear, I think.  I love to put Squeaky in unusual clothes, rather than have her looking the same as everyone else's child.  It's more fun that way, and it's easier to spot her in the middle of a playground if she's the only one in a fuchsia pink cardigan!

ARGH!!  There was going to be another picture here, and a story, a tale of drama, woe and remarkable prescience.  But Blogspot is apparently not in the mood for uploading the other photo, and I have to go to work. So that will have to wait til next week.

Hop aboard the Magpie Monday train! Me and My Shadow

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Graco Nautilus Car Seat

One of the great things about being a Graco Ambassador is getting the opportunity to try out some of their wide range of baby kit.  Squeaky only recently outgrew her infant carrier/Stage 0 car seat, and we were very pleased when Graco sent us their Nautilus car seat to try out.

The Nautilus is a Stage 1/2/3 car seat, meaning it will last her all the way until she's 12 - all the car seat she'll need!  That by itself makes it a great value buy.  I really like the idea of having one seat that will carry her all the way through to being a teenager (argh! Does that have to happen???????)  The seat is quick & easy to fit into the car, meaning we could be off on an adventure in no time at all.

The Black Stone colourway (black & gray-brown) is really smart, and actually goes well with the inside of my car.  It's a good neutral option, suitable for boys & girls (our other car seat is very, very pink) and the covers are easy to clean, as proved by Squeaky's decision to throw her drink around when I wasn't looking.

She seems very comfortable in it - the harness is easy to adjust and do up, and I'm confident she's safe, the adjustable headrest keeps her head in place even when she's dropped off for yet another nap.  As she's still at the lower end of the weight range, she's not made use of the cup holder yet (she can't quite get to it), but I've found it's a good place to put my car keys when I'm getting her sat & strapped in .

I'm really taken with the Nautilus, and it seems Squeaky is too. The RRP is £129.99, and it's available from Toys R Us, Mothercare and other good retailers.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Magpie Monday - Foodie Special

I had a couple of options for this week's post, but I've gone with the foodie choice, for no better reason than that I am thoroughly BORED of clothes.

When we were in Bournemouth the other week, we went into Poole, which is seemingly Charity Shop Central.  However, I found almost nothing that took my fancy, and then bemoaned the fact that all I bought was a toast rack, not exactly a photogenic or interesting item.  Then I stopped to think about it, and about why I'd bought the toast rack in the first place.  And realised that actually, it was pretty much a perfect Magpie Monday purchase.

For me, Magpie Monday is about making the most of your money - not buying new, expensive items just because, when there's an alternative that will be every bit as good for a fraction of the price.  Reusing, reimagining, finding another life for something.

OK, so how does that match up with a second hand toast rack?  That in all honesty was probably no cheaper than one from the High Street.  Well, here's the deal.  Squeaky has discovered a love of toast.  Breakfast time, mid morning, generally whenever I offer it to her.  Toddler snacks are obscenely expensive.  A slice of toast, left to cool & crisp, then spread with butter can be packed up & taken out as a mid morning snack for roughly nothing, as we'd have bread around anyway.  And it will be met with much the same level of excitement as a biscuit, fruit bar, or whatever.  So, not only have I saved a bit of tree, metal, whatever, in buying a second hand toast rack, but I save money every time I use it as Squeaky has a free snack, rather than an expensive packaged one.

While we're on the subject of food, I have a confession to make.  I'm a rubbish cook, with a fetish for cookbooks.  I'm sure I'm not alone.  I read them, look at the pictures, get ideas, and do nothing about it.  I'm trying to curb this habit, but if I find a nice looking cookbook on my travels, I can't resist snapping it up, in the hope I might actually use this one.

The Readers Digest one cost me 50p from a car boot sale in Cannock, the M&S one £1.50 from the BHF shop in Weston.  You never know, I might make something from one soon.  Maybe.

Check out the other bargains Me and My Shadow

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Baby Royale Luxury Blanket Review

I was recently sent a Baby Royale luxury blanket to review with Squeaky.  She seems to have inherited my need to be very warm at night (as we discovered during the cold spell earlier in the year), so this seemed like a good product for us to take a closer look at.

The blanket is made from 70% bamboo & 30% organic cotton, in a handwoven style. When I saw the size of the envelope, I expected something tiny, but it's a full sized baby blanket.  The bamboo & cotton mix makes a fine silky-soft fabric, which is heavier than it appears.  Does that sound strange?  It's not a heavyweight blanket, but has more substance than simple cotton blankets of the same thickness.  The thinness of the fabric makes it ideal for travelling as it takes up so little space, and I wish it had arrived a few days earlier, so I could have taken it to Devon with us as space was at such a premium in the car.

Squeaky seems to like it. The weight of the fabric means that even with a world class wriggler, it doesn't fall off her in the night.  I like it too.  She's been having some dicey nights of late, and I've found myself in her room at 0-dark-early once more than I'd like. The blanket has found it's way to my knees or shoulders a couple of times, to keep out the 3am chills.  It's not a "hot" blanket, the sort you'd find in granny's spare room, but the fabric keeps the cold out and lets you keep a comfortable body temperature.

I'd never considered bamboo fabric before, despite my teenage forays into those hippy shops full of alternative fabric clothing, joss sticks & wind chimes.  Bamboo is regenerative, the plants are trimmed to obtain enough bamboo for use,and the crops regrow, rather than having to be planted again.  It's naturally hypo-allergenic too, and so soft they advise against using fabric conditioner (which saves me money). I'm not going to go out & replace our entire wardrobes with bamboo clothing, but I would certainly consider this as a welcome gift for a new baby.

The Babyroyale luxury baby blanket is available from Babyroyale directly or from the online nursery shop Hello Baby. Hello Baby also sells a wide range of other baby and nursery stuff including Baby Toys, nursery furniture, travel and safety products.

Disclosure: I was provided with a BabyRoyale blanket free of charge for the purpose of this review.  I was not told what to write, and all opinions are my own.  Links are provided for your convenience only, I am not a member of any affiliate scheme & will not receive reward for their use.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Feeding Woes - The battle continues

If you were reading this blog back at the start last year (Ooops, I let my first blogaversary slip by without noticing), you've been bored enough to read the archive, or you've had me earbashing you in real life, you'll know that La Squeak had issues with her weight when she was a tiny creature, but with a whole load of support from our Breastfeeding Support worker we worked out supplementary breast feeds, expressing, and somehow dragged her back onto the graph.

Since then she's been fairly good.  Stayed pretty stable, and eaten most things I've offered her, with the exception of spinach, I'm sad to say.  A slight slip when she got an attack of Norovirus the tail end of last year, but I didn't feel much like eating then either.  Fruit, veggies, curry, yorkshire puddings, pickled onions, yeah, she's an odd kid.

But for the last week or so, it's all gone sideways.  She's cutting her first molar at the moment, and threw up a couple of small meals/snacks, I think through pain, and now she's refusing almost everything. Breakfast porridge goes down ok, though not with huge enthusiasm.  Chocolate spread sandwiches, yogurts, fruit pouches and jelly are about the only other things I'll vaguely call food that she'll even consider.  A bit of toast with philly on it was a major triumph this evening.  I'm trying not to get worked up, she's a little more inclined to eat if I'm paying no attention to her, but I'm getting twitchy.  She needs more food, dammit!

She ate a slice of ham from the samples at Tesco's deli counter yesterday, but when I offered her the same at home, she didn't want to know. Grrr.  I think I'll just put a picnic on her tray tomorrow & see how much goes in her, rather than down the walls.  I'm sure there's some more pickled onions round here somewhere.