Friday, 30 December 2011

Becoming a Mumtor

First things first... what's a Mumtor? I can see you looking a bit confused at the screen.  Well, Mumtors are Cow & Gate's Growing Up Milk Mummy Mentors.  As that's a bit of a mouthful, they took the "Mummy" and the "Mentor", mixed them up, and came up with "Mumtor".  And that's me (and a whole host of other people).

I really thought long & hard about teaming up with Cow & Gate when they asked mums to apply to be Mumtors.  I breastfed Squeaky until she was about 17 months old.  When she reached her first birthday, I started to include some formula feeds, because I knew I'd be going back to work at some point, and it meant I could wean her off me at my own pace, rather than needing to do it quickly.  And as she's a finicky creature with her food, I wanted to give her something more than cow's milk to replace the nutrients she'd been getting from me.

I'm a breastfeeding peer supporter with my local Health Board, so it might seem a bit of cross-purposes to be a Mumtor as well. But really, it's all about supporting mums through some difficult decisions, giving them the information to make their own choices in the best interests of their child.  Heck, if anything, the fact I've both breast and formula fed Squeaky means I'm not going to judge anyone, or tell them they've got to do any one thing.

Breastfeeding is bloody hard work, there's no other way to put it.  The decision to move on to toddle milk is a hard one.  Choosing the right one for you & your child is a case of trial and error.  Cow & Gate is the one that works for our family, and the one Squeaky enjoys.  So after a lot of thought, I applied to Cow & Gate to become a Mumtor, and was delighted when they chose me.  I've got a whole host of information they've sent me, results from The Toddler Census which was carried out last year, so watch out for more informative posts.

Don't worry, I'm not going to become one giant advert, I'm still me.  And I'm not going to force Growing Up Milk down your throats, either literally or figuratively.  But if you see me about in the Real Live World, have a word, I may well have a sample for you!

Cow & Gate Growing Up Milk are sponsoring me to attend the CybHer conference in May 2012.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Vitamin D - The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is really, honestly, quite easy to come by.  It's free, and made naturally in our bodies as a result of exposure to sunlight.  Trouble is, there's not a lot of that around at the moment (you might have noticed!), and shockingly, 9 out of 10 toddlers aren't getting enough Vitamin D to meet their nutritional needs, either naturally or through supplements.

Vitamin D helps with bone growth, and can prevent rickets in children, and osteoporosis in adults, as it helps regulate the calcium levels in the body.  That's something I know about, thanks to a couple of broken ankles, and surgeons giving me dire threats about bone density scans & the like.

Our lifestyles have changed so much over the last 30 years or so, modern toddlers don't get the same levels of Vitamin D that their parents and grandparents did.  Reliance on cars for even short journeys, greatly increased use of sunscreen, more time spent in front of the tv & computer rather than "playing out", all reduce the amount of exposure to sunlight and therefore the amount of Vitamin D floating around in children's bodies.
Image Credit
So, what can we do?  Get out in the sunshine!  Ten minutes a day through the summer months (April - October), without sunscreen, can give a child enough exposure to the sun's rays to produce enough Vitamin D to store in their bodies for the winter.  But really, do we risk our toddlers' skin with exposure to the sun without sunscreen?  And even if we did, that's not going to be enough for some people.  Those living in the north (sorry Northerners!), and those with Black or Asian skin won't get enough sunlight this way, so something else is needed.

The Department of Health recommends all toddlers receive a daily supplement of Vitamins A, C & D.  Those who receive milk tokens (or Healthy Start tokens to give them their proper name) are also entitled to free supplements, and in certain areas of the UK, you may be able to get free supplements from your health visitor even if you're not on benefits(though you might well have to ask).

In addition to a supplement, you can try to include Vitamin D rich foods in your toddler's diet. A lot of breakfast cereals & margarines are fortified with vitamins, another good reason not to skip breakfast!  Oily fish, egg yolks and liver are also good sources of Vitamin D (and yeah, good luck with those).

You can also include a specially formulated Growing-Up milk into your toddler's day.  Squeaky is a DEMON for being a fussy eater at the moment, but two beakers of Cow & Gate Growing Up Milk gives her more than half her daily Vitamin D requirements, so I know she's off to a good start each day, even if she spends the rest of the day refusing to consider anything other than toast.

Cow & Gate Growing Up Milk are sponsoring me to attend the CybHer conference in May 2012.  The statistical data in this post came from The Toddler Census, a questionnaire answered by over 1000 parents in July 2011.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Stay Safe This Christmas

We had a bit of a scare today.  I was just starting to do lunch, I'd put a pan on the oven, with only about a tablespoon of oil in, to heat up, before making some pasta sauce.  Dropped my concentration for a minute & let the oil get a bit hotter than I'd like.  It was smoking slightly, but nothing much, so I thought. Opened the pack of frozen quorn, and shook the first couple of chunks in.  Sizzle. Hiss. Woosh!

Honestly, I never ever realised that pan fires can start with such a small amount of oil.  I always thought of it as being chip pans, full of oil, but seemingly not.  Fortunately, as there was only a small amount of oil, the flames were only small, and I was able to use the wet tea-towel approach to putting it out.  Turned off the gas first, wet tea towel over the pan, away from me, left it for a couple of minutes, then put the whole thing outside to cool down safely.  Textbook manoeuvre.

The official advice from the Fire Service these days is "Get Out, Get The Fire Brigade Out & Stay Out", but as it was such a small thing, I felt I was safe to deal with it.  Remarkably calm afterwards, I was expecting the adrenalin to be flowing, but not a dickybird.

So, lesson to be learned.  If it can happen to me, with a tiny amount of oil, it can happen to anyone.  Please watch the video below, to see what to do, and what not to do.  And if you're in any doubt as to whether you can safely deal with a fire (pan, or otherwise), Get out & leave it to the experts.  The fire service are trained, it's their job.

Christmas Photo Crafts

How could I possibly choose anything else?  I'm not exactly gifted in the crafting stakes, I have to admit, but be honest, who could fail to smile when greeted with a Christmas Card, thank you card, or generally anything, with this photo on it? Just imagine - baubles, gift tags.  In fact, that could be the way to go, gift tags with the recipient's photos on them, rather than writing.

I'm writing this post, brief though it is (the photo makes up for it, right?), as my entry for the Christmas Photocraft Challenge with Britmums & Kodak.  Give it a go yourself!

I'm Taking Part in the Kodak Christmas Photo Craft Challenge

Monday, 5 December 2011

Magpie Monday - Old Friends

Every now & then I figure I should write a Magpie Monday post that's not JUST made up of toddler clothes.  (Spoiler... there are still toddler clothes in this post, but not yet).  This is that post.

When Squeaky was a tiny little Squeak, I had a Poinsettia plant in the window, I'd bought it just before Christmas when I was huge & pregnant & thought it would brighten the place up a bit.  Didn't expect it to last a week, I've got a notorious black thumb. However, somehow this brave little poinsettia made it all the way til May!  Squeaky loved it, as much as a newborn can, and spent a fair number of her waking hours staring at it, and squeaking occasionally.  Fast forward 2 years (OMG, it really is that long), and I spotted out friend Plant in the supermarket. Decided to see if I could make this one last a month, and brought it home to sit in the same place as its predecessor. Then I realised it was just sitting in its cheapy plastic pot & looked a bit rubbish.

Off to the charity shops go I, with a mission, for once.  A pretty plant pot.  And there, in the Salvation Army shop (my least favourite, usually just full of smelly men, school uniforms and bobbly cardigans), was the perfect pot.  Right size, suitable balance of bling and restraint, and all for 50p, when the lady on the till could bring herself to stop gossiping and serve me.  (Please ignore my horrible blinds. I know, believe me, I know.)

Admittedly, the pot now has a length of green tinsel wrapped round it, but I couldn't have found a better home for Squeaky's friend Plant if I'd tried.

So, after my success in finding a plant pot, I thought I'd have a quick look at what the other shops had to offer - hoping I'd find some granny blankets to chop up & turn into ponchos, or generally some crafting talent, because mine ran out a good few years back.  Sadly they were all out of talent, and granny blankets (even the PDSA shop!), and my travels led me to the nice new Marie Curie shop - which reminds me of something I found in there the other week, but haven't taken photos of yet.

They've made a good job of the shop, nicely colour co-ordinated, and volunteers that actually do stuff.  That's more than can be said for a lot of our local charity shops, so as a result I took them in a big bag of stuff earlier in the week.  Well, I had to see what they'd got now, right?  And there, on the children's rail, was a treat.  Squeaky doesn't believe in coats at the moment. Zips are no challenge to her, normal buttons only slow her briefly.  Surely though, the combination of a zip and loop buttons will be beyond her for a week or two?

And better yet, look who's peeking out of the pocket!  It's Upsy Daisy!  You've heard about her Upsy Daisy obsession, right?  And not just one Upsy Daisy on the pocket, but three of them dancing across the back.  In Squeaky World this is nothing short of a miracle.  There's a couple of velcro patches inside the arms, so I think there were originally gloves, but they weren't with it, and I couldn't see a rummage bin to nose through for matching gloves, so we'll have to do without.

Honestly people.  I can't begin to explain how excited Squeaky was to see this coat.  I'll try to transcribe.  "Daisy, Daisy, Daisy, Daisy, Mummy, Daisy! Daddy, Daisy! One, Two, Three, Four! Daisy!"  I put it through the wash (as is my usual way with charity shop clothes), and she spotted a corner of the fabric in the machine this morning.  Not an Upsy Daisy, just a little pink flower.  And stood in front of the washer shouting DAISY until I opened it, and then she dragged a damp coat around with a big grin on her face until I distracted her with toast.  Such are the excitements of life in our house. Toast & Daisy.

Pop along to Lizzie's place & see who else has been shopping this week! Me and My Shadow

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Laura Comfort - It Hurts (review)

I was recently sent a copy of Laura Comfort's new single, It Hurts to review for you lovely readers.

Now, it's been a long time since I listened to anything more modern & relevant than Radio Wales, so I didn't quite know what to expect, and was half anticipating something I didn't understand.  See, my hearing loss kind of messes up a lot of music for me, if the backing is too heavy I can't hear the vocals at all.  That's why my taste in music is pretty much stuck in 1990.

Much to my surprise, I didn't have that problem with Laura's song.  It's beautifully open, acoustic & folky, bordering on country, with more than a little hint of Eva Cassidy.  Laura has got a great voice for this song, and it'll be making a regular appearance on my playlist, I love listening to something different to what people expect of me.

At this time of year, everywhere is full of the same old Christmas classics we hear every year, and whatever dross has been churned out by the X-Factor, Laura Comfort provides a welcome antidote to that, a real singer-songwriter with something new, and genuine content.  The musicians are excellent, and there's a lot of talent in that 3 and a half minutes.  (Also I love her dress. I would look like a sack of spuds in it, but I love it all the same)

Will it be a hit? Possibly not, simply because it's not X-Factor dross, and that's what sells, unfortunately.  Is it worth a listen? Yep, in my opinion.  Take a look for yourself.

It Hurts was released on 14 November.  Laura will be appearing at Ronnie Scott's on December 13th.

Disclosure: I was provided with a cd 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.