Saturday, 25 February 2017

Looking after your Lidl'un...

When a huge parcel arrived from Lidl, Honey and Ace were super excited and that was before I even opened the box! 

We were asked to test and review Lidl's range of baby products and I was expecting to receive nappies, wipes and perhaps a snack or two, so I was amazed to see that their range is actually a lot more extensive than that! 

Honey, who is obsessed with eating, was overjoyed to see little snack cucumbers and snack peppers (perfect for lunchboxes) and I was pleased to see mini versions of a range of vegetables, including cauliflower clouds, broccoli trees and sweet potato piggies. We mainly use frozen vegetables but I like Honey to see what things look like when they’re fresh and these are the perfect size so that we wont end up with lots of waste.

Ace made quick work of the Lidl’uns food pouches and rice cakes, with his favourites being the ‘sweet potatoes, pumpkins, blueberries and apples’ and ‘parsnips, carrots and apples’ pouches, they are made from 100% fruit and vegetables and easily compare to more expensive brands. They are brilliant to pop in the changing bag to ensure he has a filling meal when we’re out and about or in a rush at home.  

It seems like Lidl is fast becoming a one stop shop, as we also received products from their Cien Baby Care range (Body wash and aqueous cream) and even some body oil for Mummy, as well as a rather fetching (and tumble dry-able - woo hoo) babygrow! Let's talk about the babygrow for a moment, for those of you who know us, you'll know that they aren't Ace's usual attire and that's partly because he grows out of them feet first after about two weeks! Well, I'm pleased to report that at 11 months, the 6-12 month suit was still very roomy and could easily accommodate a disposable or a cloth nappy. The only thing I would change about the onsie, would be giving it non slip feet as my little man is very active and found walking in it a bit slippy.

We have also been trying the Toujours baby wipes, which come in both full size packs (perfect for the changing station at home) and travel packs (great for keeping in the swimming bag). They are strong, a good size and the packet seals well, keeping the wipes moist unlike some other supermarket brands we have used in the past. Their nappies have also impressed me. I had started using a more expensive brand overnight, but soon stopped when I realized that the Toujours nappies kept Ace dry for 12 hours too, no wonder they’ve won awards!

* I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers 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 or to attend an event. I have full editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.

Ace wears... Striped Onsie by Lupilu @ Lidl
Honey wears... Heart sweatshirt by Primark

Monday, 20 February 2017

Try Everything...

I can't believe I'm writing his post already. How have I been on maternity leave for 12 months? How is my baby (he's well and truly a toddler actually) 11 months old already? On the first day of my maternity leave, I wrote down my favourite moment of the day and put it in a Kilner jar. Almost every day since, I have done the same thing. On my last official day of maternity leave, I tipped out my jar of awesome and reminisced about what an incredible year it has been! Here's a round up of some of the highlights from our year, click on the hyperlinks if you fancy reading more about any of our experiences.

I decided to finish work at 36 weeks this time. It was a gamble as I worked until 38 weeks when I was pregnant with Honey and ended up having a month off with no baby as she was two weeks late in the end! This time though, I wanted to spend as much time with Honey as possible with Honey before her little world was turned upside down and changed forever. We went on holiday played, baked (in fact we were baking when my waters started to break), went to the park and had plenty of photos taken of baby brother bump. This was something I was really keen to do as I only have selfies from my pregnancy with Honey.

I needn't have worried about starting maternity leave early this time as baby brother decided to begin his journey at bedtime on his due date and put in an appearance early the next morning! Luckily, we'd already been to visit Gill at Mouse About Town for some more gorgeous photos. All went well with the birth and we were home a few hours later for a nap and to introduce Honey to her new baby brother. We tried out his name overnight and told Honey when she came into our bedroom the next morning. To say she was proud was and understatement, she couldn't wait for our families to start visiting so that she could tell them all about Ace Danger!

Since the day Ace was born, we carried him in t-shirts and slings and he attended his very first sling meet at only two days old! With this in mind, we were excited and very honoured to be asked to appear in some instructional videos for Vija Design UK who offer kangaroo care clothing. We spent a fun few days turning, twirling and trying not to smile (which I totally failed at) and the results are beautiful and something we will treasure forever and which will hopefully help lots of new parents get the most from their tops. While at his first Cranial Osteophathy appointment, Ace was also asked if he would appear in a promotional video for the wonderful Nurture 4 Life. This time round, we also discovered the wonder of the Poddle Pod and wouldn't have been without it! Honey Ace made it onto the Poddle Pod collages too, which made me smile!

Honey's third birthday fell in May. She had her first broken bone, which meant her first hospital visit and her first x-ray, but you'd never have known as just days later, she was crawling through tunnels and having the time of her life at her birthday party. It was a big one this year as we'd invited lots of friends we don't get to see very much so they'd get to meet Ace too! We also had a great time at Cheltenham's first ever Children's Festival this month.

In June, Pitville Park finally reopened which was a revelation! Honey loved it instantly and her confidence to try new pieces of equipment grew each time we went. I later went on to review the park as one of Cheltenham Maman's first guest bloggers! June also held Ace's first holiday. We stayed in Bowness on Windermere in The Lake District and it rained almost every day! This didn't stop us from having fun though and Ace managed his first ferry, first museum and lots of swimming that week. We had also been chosen to test and keep a gorgeous Pink Lining wonder bag for Kidly and that too, was a revelation and we haven't looked back from it since (which is a miracle for me as I do like to switch up my changing bags).

Honey had great fun playing the pianos which were installed around town as part of the music festival this month! We are so lucky to have so much free entertainment in Cheltenham! This month, Ace also started his first term of Sling Beat, learnt to roll from his front to his back and attended his first team picnic. Cheltenham Maman and The Bump to Baby Chapter launched their Push it Real Good walks this month too and we had lots of laughs and made lots of friends attending these. Honey was super brave at the end of term and took her favourite story 'Super Potato' in to my school to read to my class, they were enthralled and asked to hear it again!

We also took Ace to his first beach and were pleasantly surprised when he only ate one fist full of sand!

Ace got his sitting up badge in August, that's to say, we could trust him to sit securely by himself without needing anything behind him. He also attended his first Miniature Music class, which he loved straight away and showed off his excellent rhythm and clever drumming skills! Honey loved visiting the pop up Science Centre, taking part in her first forest school session and had her first pony ride at Lower Slaughter village fete. The blackberries were out in force and Honey loved picking her own pudding from our car park! Ace learnt to roll the other way this month and instantly started training himself in how to crawl (this involves a lot of planking and rocking FYI). Finally, Aunty Jo wore Ace for the first time at Birdland, significant because this was only the second time he'd been worn by anyone other than Mummy Daddy (Nicole was the first, at our Vija shoot)!

In September, we made our own pizza, Honey and Ace became models for Cradle to Crib and Honey started Pre-School! We took Honey and Ace for their first cinema experience together and Honey and I danced together with her in a sling for what was probably the last time ever. Ace
 went on his second holiday (first time in Devon), learnt to crawl and made the Pink Linker roundup on Instagram!

Once again, Ace found his inner diva and modelled for some Miniature Music photos, attended the Cheltenham Maman launch party and still found time to start Tatty Bumpkin classes - phew!

A post shared by @miniaturemusicians on

We welcomed Ace's first younger cousin into the family at the end of September and they had their first play date as a foursome this month. Ace honed his skills as a demo baby and appeared in a ABC front carry video.

Both children attended a book launch at the local library and we went on lots of Autumnal walks in the park. Honey was obsessed with Autumn this year and loved looking at all the fallen leaves and collecting them for her Pre-School project. This month also marked the start of looking round primary schools for Honey!

Ace enjoyed his first bonfire night safely ensconsced in a sling and wearing his very own 'ears'. While on a road trip to North Wales, we noticed that Ace's first tooth had come through and we were lucky enough to receive some of the newly launched Nom Nom snack bags which revolutionised snack time on the go for us! We were also fortunate enough to win a buggy clean from the Sparkling Pushchair Company and Ace has been banned from snacking in the buggy ever since!

Ace spent most of December clapping his hands and waving at everyone, began playing on park equipment other that swings and even met Father Christmas at Honey's Pre-School! Honey was busy taking part in her first nativity play and sang all the songs on a loop for the whole month and beyond. Of course, there were plenty of parties in December, highlights include the Push it Real good party and Honey's Pre-School Christmas lunch which I was able to attend as a helper. Honey made her own Christmas presents for Ace this year and they jointly received a gorgeous play house from Mummy, Daddy and all the Grandparents. Mummy had some fun nights out courtesy of Cheltenham Maman and laughed her head off with the Scummy Mummies and at The Fire Station with lots of other Gloucestershire bloggers.

Mummy had her very first ukulele lesson and absolutely loved it. We started off our year of adventures with a VERY muddy walk up Robinswood Hill, swiftly followed by a visit to the beautiful Belas Knap. Honey had her first party invitation from a friend she made by herself and we attended some really useful Peer Supporter training for the local sling library.

Ace went on his third holiday, another trip to Devon and another wonderful week of Great British weather! It was Ace's friend's first birthday and Christening, we attended the Miniature Music Valentine's disco, took a wander round Crickley Hill Country Park and caught up with lovely friends for some park adventures!

The Future
We've got more fun and games in the pipeline already, this week, we are off to Baby Prints Cheltenham, so look out for a post all about that (and maybe even some photographs in a very familiar style)! We are excited to have been invited to judge the trade stand competitions at The Cotswold Baby and Toddler Show in May. There are some home improvements on the cards, Ace and Honey's room is due a revamp and the only statement out statement wallpaper is making these days is 'change me'. 
Ace's childcare situation needs finalising and a house move is overdue so there's plenty to keep us occupied!

Although I'm officially back to work now, I am incredibly fortunate that my employer has been able to grant my request for a two day working week. Don't get me wrong, mine isn't the kid of job you can just leave at the door, you're always thinking, planning, marking and spotting ideas, not to mention assessing, reporting and making resources. So, it'll never be as simple as two working days and that's it BUT, the rest of the week can be on our terms and I can work when the kids are asleep or when the husband is on a night shift so as not to encroach on family life too much.

If you've read this far, thank you and give yourself 10 million Honey points, it's been a long one! A huge thank you to everyone who has read the blog, liked our posts on Facebook or Instagram, as well as everyone we have attended classes, playdates and groups with this year. Thanks also go to everyone who has offered us all these fabulous opportunities, we couldn't have had such a great year without you!

Honey wears... Tea party dress by Frugi
Ace wears... Dinosaur shirt by John Lewis

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Over the hills and far away...

Crickley Hill Country Park is the place to go for beautiful views over Cheltenham and Gloucester. At £1 per two hours for parking, gorgeous views at every turn and a designated picnic/BBQ spot, it can be a quick walk with the dog or a full morning or afternoon's adventure. We set out following Honey, who took us on a meandering path round the hill, stopping to pick up sticks, climb trees and point out horse and cow poo. Occasionally, we followed one of the trail arrows but more often than not, she just went wherever looked the muddiest most exciting. We got up close and personal with some very hairy cows (easily avoided if you're not a cow fan) and built fireplaces in a few snake dens (the one from the Gruffalo had apparently built a few holiday homes and then slithered back off to his own forest).

Last but not least, we visited the on site cafe which is situated next The the toilets and visitor centre. The food menu looked delicious and seemed reasonably priced, but do check before you queue as they stopped serving hot food with little warning while we were there. We shared a hot chocolate and a cake which we enjoyed very much!
We didn't take part in any of the activities today, but saw a few families having fun doing the treasure hunt which you might want to look at if you have older children.

Honey wears... Ear muffs by Accessorize

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 ...