Time for school

My hand hovered over the send button for some time.

My baby’s school application was almost sent but I needed a moment to breathe through the last three years and just adjust, to let his hand sit a little looser in mine.

I thought of all the times I’d felt short tempered with him, all the moments I’d asked him to wait while I finished a text and my heart hurt. Because in less than a year he won’t be all mine. Yes he goes to nursery but somehow that’s cocooned in a preschool bubble of safety – there are babies and nap times and  cuddles.

Do they even get cuddled at school? What if he gets worried and forgets where the toilets are? What if someone says something that upsets him? Will someone help him with his lunch if he gets in a muddle?

I pressed send because life has no punctuation. We can’t pause for a year or two – it’s a continuum of constant change. Some is seamless and some leaves me bereft and slightly lost. Will he still call me mummy when he’s at school? Will he want his hair cut short because someone older says he should?

I’m used to that little piece of my heart that escaped when he was born, dancing around the house, playing at nursery and splashing in  puddles. I know I’ll get used to the next bit but for now I need to indulge my sense of loss because, quite frankly that send button was the  moment I saw him dancing on his own.

 

I just hope he can open his bloody lunchbox!

Tommy’s My Premature Baby app launched

One in thirteen babies are born prematurely in the UK every year. That’s thousands of beautiful babies needing specialist care for days, week and even months. As parents it’s a fear you hold close until your bundle arrives but for these parents they don’t get to breathe that sigh of relief once the baby is born. They have a whole new journey in front of them.

To mark World Prematurity Day which was on 17 November, Tommy’s is launching the first ever UK App to support parents through the complicated early days of a premature arrival.

Through a series of features specially designed for premature babies, the free app My Premature Baby gives parents the facts they need about prematurity any time of day or night, helps them keep track of their babies’ progress, and offers practical and emotional support ranging from breastfeeding and expressing alarms to a ‘Finding Friends’ feature to help them connect with other parents who have been through a similar experience.

Premature babies haven’t finished growing and the earlier they are born, the more likely they are to experience health issues such as chronic lung disease or bowel problems, and to struggle with feeding and keeping warm.

Just imagine how scary that is for mums and dads who just want to hold their child and keep them safe. A new survey from Tommy’s has revealed that only 1 in 3 parents of premature babies felt excited about telling loved ones their baby had arrived, and 1 in 5 were so worried they didn’t want to tell anyone at all.

The Tommy’s My Premature Baby App has been designed in consultation with mums and dads of premature babies. It will act as a companion for parents, giving them practical advice and insight through those early days on the Neonatal Unit or Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU), including the following features:

• Tommy’s expert Having a Premature Baby Guide (3) available in an easily searchable format
• A diary feature, allowing parents to record their baby’s progress, significant milestones such
as coming off breathing support, and their own thoughts and feelings. Users will also be able to search for other people’s prematurity diaries on the app (4)
• The ability to plot weight and height on development charts customised for premature babies
• The ability to record times, amounts and types of feeding and set alarms for breast feeding or expressing
• A sharing function, so that baby’s pictures and progress can be shared easily with loved ones or shared more widely via Facebook.
• A Finding Friends feature. Mums and dads can enter their own postcode and contact other local parents by email who have been through the prematurity journey.

Heidi Livesey, whose daughter Ebony was born at 26 weeks weighing just 511g, said:

The word ‘roller coaster’ is used a lot in neonatal units and that best sums it up – you walk into an alien environment, machines beeping, not knowing what you’ll find or how your baby’s health is going to be. Tommy’s My Premature Baby App is fantastic as it’s full of information that you’re too caught up to ask staff about, and it’s brilliant that it will help mums and dads to learn from other people’s experiences and find friends who know what they’re going through.”

Halloween at BeWILDerwood

One of my favourite times of year at BeWILDerwood is, most definitely, Halloween.

This year we made the trip actually on 31 October and had a wonderful time. With magical pumpkins lighting up our arrival we were ready for a day full of fun.

The children loved the wonderful story-telling and as always the sky maze was a massive hit – even if I did get lost! Tales of Boggles and Twiggles never cease to capture their imaginations.bewilder6

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We spent ages making dens and even our youngest recruit, 20-month Charlotte, was keen to get in the action!

As the afternoon fell we began to gear up for the wonderful, magical lantern parade. We made lanterns and stood by the fires in anticipation. Soon the wonderful staff at BeWILDerwood came out with their cloaks and beautiful bat lanterns to announce the start of the lantern parade.
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It was very busy so it took a while to get through the pumpkin archway but once through there were Halloween delights around every corner. The Hairy Clod spider who wanted to steal our lantern lights, twinkling lights and pumpkins galore.

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It’s a wonderful event, it marks Halloween without being too spooky for the children, however young.

We went on one of the busiest days but there was still plenty of room in the carpark and, because of the layout, it never feels busy when you’re inside. It’s a place of adventure and exploration and a perfect Halloween was had by all.

Snorewizard review

Ok so I confess, my name is Victoria and I’m a snorer.

It’s genetic, my dad sends rumbles through the house that scare animals. My brother sounds like someone in the middle of death throws and me, well, let’s just say there have been several nights Jonathan has slept somewhere other than the bed!

It’s not every night but when I go for it take cover….apparently even the industrial strength headphones he bought to watch films in bed are helpless in the face of my night time rumblings.

On a serious note it can be an huge pain for those who suffer every night from a partner who snores incessantly and can really effect the quality of sleep for those who snore. So when I was asked to review the Snorewizard products, designed to help stop snoring – it seemed like a great idea.

The pillow arrived and I will admit to being a little dubious – it’s very firm and doesn’t, at first glance look that comfortable. How wrong I was!

This pillow has quite honestly transformed my sleep. The first night I slept on it was so comfortable. It cradles your neck perfectly and it’s firmness meant I was not tossing and turning, folding pillows and trying to get comfortable.

It’s cover is breathable so feels cool to sleep on and quite frankly from a comfort point alond I will never go back to a conventional pillow.

So now for the big question – did it help my snoring? Yes is the answer. It took a few nights but after about a week Jonathan said it had reduced significantly and was now more of a light murmur rather than the earth shattering growls he’d previously encountered!

I am pleasantly surprised that such a small change has made such a big difference. Plus, an added bonus is it’s helped my neck and shoulder pain too.

I was sent the mouth guard too but, for me, it was not something I could get along with. I found it very difficult to sleep in. But maybe I should have persevered a little longer – I’m not known for my patience!

Snorewizard offer a full money back guarantee though – that’s great customer service.

Online bingo – what’s your guilty pleasure?

Children are hard work and we all need time to sit back and relax. If not there’s a chance we may be found rocking in a corner!

I used to take long baths, reading whole books and generally pleasing myself for granted. Of course I wouldn’t change it for the world but sometimes I’d like to indulge. If I say my guilty pleasure is a particularly raucous episode of Jeremy Kyle you may laugh. But for some a little low brow entertainment is just the ticket for mind- numbing relief. Now it’s not for everyone but if your secret passion is online bingo then take a look at The GameVillage.

Of course this is sponsored – it’s Christmas and I’m sorry!

Children’s first aid kit

I’ve found that small boys are very good at falling down, tumbling over things and banging into any objects that happen to be in their way.

So, in my house a first aid box is a must! I need something compact, easy to use and filled with all the basics. In light of this I was asked to review the Childerns’s first aid kit from Premier Healthcare and Hygiene Ltd and what a great little kit it is.FIRSTAIDKIT

It has its own zip up carrier it works perfectly for the endless camping trips and bike rides my boys take. You can pop it in the car, in a bag or leave it in a drawer at home.

The cute little plasters have been met with calls of ‘mummy I need another one’ because he was rather taken with the Sealife themes!
On a practical note it has burn cream, alcohol-free wipes and dressings, tape and even an eye bath so means I feel I have all the basics sewn up. For £4.60 it’s a great basic buy to give you piece of mind and keep the tears at bay.

Slimming World – an undercover food frenzy. Without the food.

So, I’ve joined Slimming World.

In itself a great move and let me tell you, despite epic portions of pasta and jacket potatoes the size of Scottish Fishermen’s hands – I’ve lost 6lb in my first week. To be fair my first week did follow a week in which I retained water like a camel but 6lbs none the less.

At my first meeting, sitting on my hard red plastic chair worshipping at the parapet of healthy eating I realised the truth – we were all obsessed with food. Eating it; not eating it, buying it, storing it – particularly in secret places. One woman kept Curly Wurlys under her jumpers in the chest of drawers.

Our esteemed leader is not exactly ‘trim’ but after begrudgingly handing over my cash she talked about losing 5 stones. Fair play I thought, you’re on your way. She followed up with how she’s struggled this week due to Bonfire night.

Come on people – seriously, Bonfire night? Jacket potatoes are the staple of any Slimming World aficionado so don’t blame Bonfire night! Now smuggling sausages and toffee apples under your virtuous spud might be to blame but not the night itself.

In addition to tales of food hoarding, buying, eating and dreaming we were treated to an in depth analysis of one woman’s ‘hormones’. Apparently she’d not lost any weight for a month because of them. I wanted to ask whether they’d been scurrying around at night hoovering chocolate and lard up then, in some kind of umbilical miracle, suctioned the whole lot onto her arse. I didn’t, it was my first week and what did I know.

I also discovered a whole new world of food. ‘Quark, fat free and delicious’, apparently. It sounded more like a cult-inspired mantra than something I really wanted to eat but I’ve duly bought some and it’s sitting in the fridge until I decide what to do with it. Maybe lace it with rum, cream and Nutella and make a cheesecake, no, no, no!

When a lonely man piped up that he’d lost 3.5lbs this week there was an embittered silence. Our leader said: “So what have you done this week to get such a great loss Mike?”

“I followed the plan” he announced, naively expecting this to be a logical and correct answer. No mention of hormones, Bonfire night or even the good grace to invent a sickness bug which could have led to such a shedding.

Curly Wurly woman visibly shuddered and I realised this is not the time to celebrate.

The weigh-in queue is always busy and slow because even the hint of a heavy necklace can take you into the next stone and further from that shiny half a stone sticker. Jeans are a no-no for weigh-in day and boots need to be easily removable. Only a fool would wear a coat.

We were a bunch of kindred spirits, in love with food but not our fat bums. I’m hoping for 3lbs next week – mind you I’m feeling a little hormonal and I’m going to a Christening Sunday – but they’ll understand.

Nib Nibs. From Yorkshire with love

I love a snack and if it involves cheese in any form then I’m as happy as a pig in, well, cheese. So when I was sent some Nib Nibs savoury snacks to try I was more than willing.

Arthur also loves a cheese straw and devours them with the same gusto I have – must be genetic! So we were looking forward to sampling these little cheesy Devils.

We were sent: Roasted Salt and Pepper Jumbo Peanuts, Exceptional Cheddar Cheese Straws, exceptional Cheddar Cheese and Cheeky Onion Straws and Exeptional Cheddar and Spicy Chilli Straws.

cheddarchilliMade in North Yorkshire, this little bites of loveliness were, quite simply delicious. They are made with ‘oodles of British produce’ and by people who take pride in their products.

In perfect resealable pots they are built to last, but I’m afraid they didn’t! I pulled off the seal of the cheddar and spicy chilli and that was it. They were cheesy without being over powering, hint of zing on the tongue and a nice crunch too.

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Arthur loved the cheddar cheese straws: ” mummy these are nicer than peanut butter sandwiches.” Praise indeed from a peanut butter afficiondo! Little beasts of cheesiness, packing a punch of taste which beats most snacks hands down.cheddarcheese

The salt and pepper peanuts were so moorish and I managed to polish them off during a epidsode of Lewis! I did share them with Arthur’s dad who gave them the thumbs up.
I’ll confess I didn’t get to try the cheese and cheesy onion straws as they found their way into Arthur’s daddy’s lunchbox. But I’m told they were crunchy tasty and the box was empty!

Delicious savoury snacks, and a great alternative to crips. Well-made, local and a hit with children and adults. Good work Nib Nibs!

Baby vs career #sponsored

Looking after babies can be a difficult job, especially when you have a career as well that you don’t want to jeopardize. What to do? You shouldn’t feel the need to have to choose between your family and your job; you need to learn to juggle. See below for some tips.
Gumtree infographic baby versus career
Gumtree infographic baby versus career is an infographic that was produced by Gumtree

The Real Halloween at Holt Hall

On a gloriously sunny Saturday afternoon we heading off to Holt Hall for the Fairy Trust’s Real Halloween event.

Even in the carpark I’d already fallen in love with the magical oaks and golden carpet of Autumn leaves…and then the fun began.

An authentic Halloween experience which weaved the beauty of nature through mystical moments and good old fashioned fun. We kicked off with egg and spoon inspired conker races – daddy vs Arthur. I was Arthur’s ‘Halloween helper’ but we did go a little off piste!

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Next Arthur chose a beautiful spider and web to be painted by the lovely ladies in one of the many tents. Arthur was keen to boogie along to the bands playing on the grass – they were fantastic and we stood and watched for ages against the backdrop of the beautiful Holt Hall.

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After a pit stop at the Elf Tavern for mulled apple juice we wandered around the other stall and tents and watched the fantastically dresses witches and elves and slightly scary ogres!halloween6

Then it was into the woods for wizard training where Arthur learned about wizards and how they work their magic through a love and understanding of nature. We learned about Ravens and the powers of the Beech tree – wonderful memories apparently. We collected feathers, leaves and made our own wizard’s pouch.

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It was great fun and a wonderful way of introducing the power of nature and the importance of looking after the countryside.

The whole day culminated in a magnificent lantern parade where huge owls, bats and foxes were lit up and carried through the woods accompanied by drums and punctuated by amazing fire artists swirling through the dark.halloween8

We’d already stopped off in the lantern making tent so Arthur was all ready and he absolutely loved it.

 

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Every time we passed another lantern placed on the floor he shouted:”look mummy the fairies left another one!’.

The whole day was magical and full mystical charm. It brought home the beauty of the places we have around us and had the right level of spookiness to get me in the mood for Halloween fun.

I would highly recommend the Real Halloween as a family day out. Great parking, easy to wander round plenty of loos and even a baby changing tent. Quite a feat to make a well- organised event seem effortlessly untouched but they managed it. I’ll definitely be back.

If you’ve not heard of The Fairy Trust check out the fantastic work they do to protect our meadows and woodlands and how you can help