Saturday, 28 May 2016

Girls and Boys Come Out to Play...

On Saturday 28th May, Cheltenham played host to its first ever Children's Festival. The event centred around the Town Hall which was divided into zones such as 'Exploring Technology', 'Telling Stories' and 'Playing Outside', each hosted by a different Cheltenham based trust or business. 

When we arrived, the event was already in full swing so we were able to wander through each zone either watching what was going on or, if Honey was feeling brave, joining in with the activities. Honey's favourite things were: making a Bear Hunt head dress, decorating a gingerbread man and painting with mud. She also enjoyed visiting the library bus and was excited to borrow a book (even though we have the very same stories at home already - lol). 

We had a great time exploring all the activities, which were completely free of charge, and we will be first though the doors if it happens again next year! 

Honey wears... Dinosaur leggings by Next

Thursday, 19 May 2016

A star is born...

We didn't get into babywearing until Honey was about 4 months old, before that, I'd been put off as I found the carriers and slings we had, really uncomfortable. To cut a long story short, we met Nicole, found ABC's and never looked back!  Over the last few years, Nicole has helped so many Cheltenham and Gloucestershire families enjoy safe babywearing through running the Sling Library with a small team of trained volunteers and via her online business selling ABC's and Vija tops. When she asked if we would be interested in helping her make some videos showing parents the benefits of Vija skin to skin tops, of course the answer was yes!

One of my first purchasing decisions when I was pregnant with Ace was a set of Vija t-shirts for myself and my husband, which we started using as soon as Ace was born and instantly loved it! As part of the preparation for shooting the videos, I had to practise wearing Ace in a range of different Vija products which was amazing for both Ace and myself and got me thinking about the the different strengths of each top...

The one that's perfect for shopping...
The t-shirt is a little like wearing a stretchy wrap but without the faff (yes, I still think it's a faff even though I can do it now and I love it) of wrapping and it allows you to complete tasks completely hands free. I often wear Ace in this when we pop into town as it allows me to have my hands free to carry shopping and hold hands with Honey, plus it is laced with sleepy dust so Ace doesn't get bored of being dragged around the shops! If he wakes up, the fact that I can discreetly breast feed while still wearing the top, comes in really handy.  It's worth noting that the tops are not exclusively for skin to skin time, babies can be lightly clothed inside the tops so they won't get chilly if you need to take them out when you're out and about!

The one that's perfect for chilling...
This is a lovely top for evenings in front of the TV or for lounging about in a shady patch of the garden! While it doesn't give you the same hands free abilities as the other tops, it is the easiest to get Ace in and out of which makes nappy changes simple and it still lets you have that super snuggly/soothing skin to skin time.

Camisole and Cummerbund
The one that's perfect of you're in and out...
This is really two tops in one! The camisole can be worn on its own if the weather is warm, it has a panel of fabric designed to wick sweat away from the body and additionally, Ace has his legs out so won't get too hot either. It can be worn with the cummerbund as an extra support/layer. I wear this one at home when i'm doing housework or if Ace is feeling a bit fussy close to bedtime and it's not quite time for his last feed of the day. It's fab if you're in and out of the house hanging out washing, taking the rubbish out or playing in the garden as you can add and remove a layer quickly and easily.

Wrap top
The one that's closest to wrapping...
This top lets you feel like you're wearing baby in a stretchy wrap but without actually having to know how to wrap. I wear this one on hot days when Honey is playing in the garden and wants company at one of her imaginary tea parties, as well as to the park or shops. As with all the tops, it's also great knowing that Ace is getting plenty of tummy time as we're on the go!

*Although we were very kindly given a range of tops to practise with, all opinions expressed in this blog are my own.

Ace wears... A selection of Vija skin to skin tops

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Date night with Deliveroo...

Date nights when you have children take on many different forms. There's the traditional night out as a couple where a babysitter's at home with the kids (can be expensive), there's the family date where the kids come too (can be stressful) and then there's the home made date night, where the kids are upstairs in bed, which is where Deliveroo can help! 

Step 1: Pick a restaurant based on a search using your postcode (we chose Strada).
Step 2: Browse the menu (either on the website, or the free app).
Step 3: Place an order (you will get an email to let you know that your order has been accepted).
Step 5: Enjoy.

The website is easy to navigate and can store your address and payment details for next time you decide not to cook! I've seen the Deliveroo bikes out all over town and always wonder how they got the food to you without falling off or the food getting cold but somehow they did (they were quick too) and we got to munch on a restaurant quality Italian feast in the comfort of our own home! As well as the high standard of food, the lack of washing up is also a winner and means you have time to sit down and enjoy a film together plus the fact that most of the packaging is recyclable is also a bonus.

Delivery is more expensive than a traditional takeaway but the range of options more than makes up for that and you can also sign up for marketing emails which let you know about carefully selected special offers and deals. You can also pre-order your food to arrive after the kids bedtime if you're feeling particularly organised!

A huge thumbs up for the home made date night, no need to spend a fortune on babysitters, no need to dress up for the occasion (although it's nice to anyway) and no expensive taxi home when you can't decide whose turn it is to be designated driver! 

*Although we were very kindly given some Deliveroo credit, all opinions expressed in this blog are my own.  I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product to to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity, I have received a voucher as a token of thanks for this post.

Honey wears... pyjamas by The Little White Company

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Party time...

In previous years, Honey's birthday celebrations have lasted a whole day with her friends coming along to the house to play in the morning and family members joining us in the afternoon. This year, with a young baby added to the mix, the idea of having everything over and done with by lunchtime really appealed! There was only one issue with that, the unpredictable weather! If the sun shone, we could all spread out into the garden and there would be no problem, but if it didn't then we'd be playing sardines in the house!

After toying with a range of party venues and packages, I decided to hire out our local church hall for the occasion and organise a 'stay and play' style party for Honey. I chose a morning slot for two reasons, firstly so that Honey would be at her best (she can get quite tired and grumpy of an afternoon now that she has dropped her afternoon nap) and secondly, so that food preparation and expenditure would be kept to a minimum (snacks and drinks rather than full on lunch). To keep costs down, I rejected my initial idea of hiring a bouncy castle or soft play package and decided to mimic some of the toddler sessions we have attended at similar venues.

In the end, we had:
Garden games
Sensory play trays 
Colouring activity roll
Big Kids' games

Each play station had a sign with words and pictures in an attempt to keep things tidy and organised (ish) and were created using things we already had so again, helped to keep things to budget. All the children seemed to enjoy flitting from one activity to another and had the option to play with, or just near each other!

I was fairly last minute about it all this year as we were playing everything by ear depending on whether or not Ace was a late baby and how he had settled into family life. Unfortunately, this meant that we missed out on having the incredibly popular Tiddles Face painting there and I didn't have time to arrange for an elaborate cake to be made by the fabulous Yippee Foods. These are two local businesses run by lovely friends of mine, but there's always next year for us and I highly recommend you take a look at their pages if you're planning a party soon!

Honey wears... Florasaurus dress by Boden


Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Is it a bird...

Today we visited Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust with Honey's Grandparents. I'm not really one for wandering around looking at things and reading information signs (unless there are dinosaurs, then i'm totally on board), but I have to admit it takes on a new meaning when a toddler's involved. 

We started by purchasing the all important feed, then headed out to meet the birds. Honey's only hopes for the day (to see a pigeon and a seagull) were realised within the first five minutes of arrival and to be honest, even though she got up close and personal with all manner of different winged wonders, the sight of her two favourites still excited her every time! Honey adored exploring all the different paths and walkways and loved the hides (for the steps to climb up, not for the bird watching opportunities). A few weeks ago, Honey fed a deer and some lambs on a visit to All Things Wild and today she once again impressed me with her bravery around animals as she fed geese and attempted to feed swans that were bigger than her!

Honey's favourite area was 'Welly Boot Land' which features a meandering stream for paddling, as well as play equipment such as bridges, slides and roundabouts. At lunch time, Honey was delighted to be able to choose her own lunch in the lovely (and reasonably priced) cafe and happily filled a bucket with tasty treats to munch on while she mulled over her day so far.

After lunch, we visited the flamingos and ticked a few more species off the list on our map. True to form, Honey chased multiple pigeons shouting "stop please, I want to stroke you" so next weekend, we are heading into town to stand outside New Look.
Honey wears... Coat by Hatley

What a waste...

It was Anne-Marie Bonneau (aka Zero Waste Chef ) who wrote "we don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need ...