Tommee Tippee Review and Giveaway

We’ve always been huge fans of Tommee Tippee, using a range of their bottles and beakers. At the moment, Alex is using one of the 12m+ Active Straw Cups. It holds 260ml, perfect for a thirsty toddler, and has an insulated core to keep drinks cool. The straw flips down to stay clean and prevent spills.

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Ben is using the 4m+ Weaning Sippee Cup. This has a capacity of 150ml and handles for chubby little hands to hold. As they get older, the handles can be removes as can the non-spill valve, to help oral development.

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One lucky reader now has the chance to win one of the 4m+ Weaning Sippee Cups (in pink).

To enter:

  • Fill in the Rafflcopter widget below to verify your entries
  • Complete the mandatory entry first – answer the question – comments that do not answer the question will not be counted! Comments may not appear immediately due to moderation.
  • You can come back and enter every day via Twitter and Facebook.
  • The closing date is June 24th 2015.
  • All terms and conditions can be found here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!

Valspar Paint Review

When we moved into the this house last year, we gave the boys the bigger bedroom and we had the smaller double. There is a third bedroom but that’s used for storage.Now Benjamin has grown out of his moses basket, we need to swap bedrooms because the cot doesn’t fit in our room, and as he doesn’t sleep through the night yet, we can’t put him in with the boys. In fact, he will more than likely stay in with us until he is big enough to go in a toddler bed.

The boys have never really had a ‘nice’ bedroom. Instead, they’ve had a room where their clothes are kept and they sleep. Now they are old enough to go upstairs and play by themselves, we want them to have a nice room. They both love superheroes, especially Spiderman, so we have gone with that as a theme. It isn’t quite finished yet – we still need to put up a new curtain pole and fit a blackout blind, but we have done the actual painting part!

We were gifted a voucher for Valspar Paint to do this. Being a Spiderman theme, the obvious colour choices were red and blue. We opted for ‘High Voltage’. Because red can be overpowering in a bedroom, we just painted the one wall, and left the rest cream.

valspar paint

Valspar is available to buy from B&Q. We chose a five litre tin of the Premium Walls and Ceilings Paint, which costs £43. It’s an emulsion that is a paint, primer and undercoat in one, making decorating an easy job. It’s durable and scrubbable, which is perfect for wiping off grubby little handprints.

Valspar Paint

The paint is a lovely vibrant colour. The wall that we painted was perfectly smooth so we used a roller to do most of it. It went on evenly and smoothly, and was touch dry within a couple of hours. Two coats later and we have a perfectly painted wall.

Valspar PaintAlthough not cheap, I would definitely use Valspar paint in the future. In fact, we have some of the wood varnish for a future project – watch this space!

Once the room is completely finished in the next couple of weeks I’ll be showing you the entire room and what we have done!

 

*We were provided with vouchers to purchase this paint with, in return for an honest and unbiased review.

 

 

Weigh In: Week Three

As I mentioned last week, I wasn’t expecting a loss at all this week.

We were away over the weekend at a wedding, and ended up going out for dinner, having Macdonald’s for breakfast (not a great deal of choice at a motorway services hotel!), canapes, three course wedding meal, buffet and alcohol, not to mention the chips at the seaside on Monday. So, I was over the moon to step on the scales yesterday to find that I had lost 1lb!

I’ve now pretty much finished all the Slim Fast things I was sent. I’ve had a couple of the snacks this week, and still have half a tub of shake mix left, but I’m now using the My Fitness Pal app on my phone. It’s really easy to use to keep track of how many calories I am consuming, and means I can plan for treats. It’s also opened my eyes to the calorie content in a lot of food and drink – over 200 calories in a bottle of Kopparberg – eek!

I’ve said it before, but I’ve really began to think about the food choices I make. We went to Wetherspoons for dinner on Saturday evening. Normally, I’d choose the burger and beer meal which is well over 1000 calories (not even counting the beer!), and I’d always end up coming away feeling bloated and not really enjoying it. This time, I was about to choose the chilli con carne, which was about 600 calories. As I went to order, I noticed the vegetarian chilli, which was under 500 calories. I really really enjoyed it – and meant I had plenty of calories left for a cheeky gin and tonic (100 calories!). Although there is not a chance in hell I would become a vegetarian, I do really like veggie food, so I may try veggie sausages and mince as a lower calorie alternative.

The cravings for chocolate and biscuits have totally gone. I’d much rather have a banana now, or even a slice of toast if I am hungry. I’ve also bought some ‘trail mix’ from Tesco, which contains nuts, seeds and dried fruit. It’s quite high in calories, at 108 calories for 25g (not a big amount!), but obviously a healthy option. I carefully weighed it out into Ben’s old weaning pots, so I can pop a pot in my bag if we are going out.

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I’m hoping next week, after a ‘normal’ week, I will have a slightly bigger loss, but a pound is a pound – that’s 52lb a year!

Lost so far: 9lb

To go: 69lb

Modern Dad Pages

InstaNatural Advanced Scar Repair Gel

InstaNatural scar gel is designed to reduce the appearance of scars, and leave skin feeling and looking moisturised and healthy.

InstaNatural Scar Gel

It needs to be applied to the scarred area twice a day. It comes in a practical pump bottle and is a thick, pleasant smelling orange coloured gel.

I passed this onto my dad, who has severe scarring on his ankle and leg from surgery last October. He is going on holiday in the summer and is quite conscious about the scar. He’s only been using this gel for a couple of weeks, but it is already looking less angry and red!

InstaNatural’s Advanced Repair Scar Gel is available from Amazon or the InstaNatural website for £22.95.

*I received this product free for my honest and unbiased feedback.

Making Memories at the Seaside

A question we have heard a lot from the boys lately is ‘can we go to the seaside?’. As we live a two and a half hour drive from the seaside and currently have no car, it hasn’t been possible, and that broke my heart. They so desperately wanted to go!

Last Sunday, my sister in law got married. The wedding was just outside of Telford, which is about an hour away on the motorway. Knowing how difficult we would find it to get to, she lent us her car for the weekend. We booked a hotel for two nights, so we didn’t have to rush in the morning or drive back on the night.

The wedding (which was beautiful!) was on the Sunday. We woke up very early on the Monday morning, and decided that we were going to make the most of having the car and take the kids to the seaside.

Because it was a spur of the moment decision, we weren’t very well organised – we had nothing to sit on except a towel and a baby blanket, and I didn’t have a cardigan or jacket.

We ummed and ahhed between Prestatyn, where we have been on holiday twice before, or Barmouth, where we have been for a couple of weekends before we had the kids. Prestatyn was closer, but there is more to do at Barmouth. Plus, to get to Barmouth we would need to drive some beautiful areas of the Snowdonia National Park.

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We packed up the car and set off with a backseat of excited children. We stopped off in Welshpool (I think!) for some lunch in a little tearooms, where we had a burger and a coffee, and the kids had sausage rolls, chips and chocolate milkshakes. The town was decked out in bunting, and Harrison thought it was a ‘great party!’

PicMonkey Collage

As we travelled through the mountain areas, Harrison and Alex had a slight disagreement whether they were hills or mountains. Eventually, Alex dozed off and Harrison entertained us with his incessant chatter!

We arrived at Barmouth at about 2pm, and considering it was a warm bank holiday and was packed, we managed to find a parking spot straight away on the sea front. We loaded the pushchair up and headed straight to the beach. As soon as we got onto the sand, the kids kicked off their shoes and socks and were off! Graham trailed slightly behind – it appears our beautiful pushchair isn’t great on sand! It was lovely and warm on the beach, and the kids took their jeans off for a paddle in the sea. I was a bit unsure about how they would react, but they loved it. Even Ben had a paddle!

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Alex had brought along his digger and was having the time of his life digging up the wet sand. We then trundled back up the beach and found a shop which sold buckets and spades. After a quick ice cream stop, we headed back on to the beach. The kids (and Graham!) got to work on building and knocking down sand castles. Ben loved putting his tiny toes in the sand and eating fistfuls of it. Graham took them for a ride on the donkeys whilst Ben and me chilled in the sunshine.

Barmouth

We then went for a wander down the promenade to look at the boats in the harbour. We saw some huge jellyfish that had been washed up which fascinated the kids.

jellyfish

 

We walked back down to by where we had parked and had some chips – has to be done at the seaside. By this point it was gone 6pm, and we had a two and a half hour journey home to do. We loaded three very tired but very happy little boys into the car. They all dozed for half an hour or so before waking with renewed energy. This meant I spent half of the journey with my arm twisted into extremely uncomfortable positions to give Ben his dummy and Sophie the Giraffe every time he dropped them. Alex was content to watch the world go by out of the window but Harrison drove us mad with question after question:

Why are there sheep?

Can we have a pet sheep?

What do sheep eat?

Why do the sheep have colours on them?

Can I drive?

What do windmills do?

Can we go to a party?

Can we go to the farm?

The day finished off a really lovely weekend. I can’t wait to take them again!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Benjamin’s 6 Month Update

Today baby Benjamin is six months old! I’m still struggling to get to grips with the fact that he isn’t a newborn baby anymore.

So what has he been doing since his five month update? Well, he has been practising crawling. He’s got all the elements, now he just needs to put them altogether. He managed to crawl a couple of feet a few weeks ago, and then face planted the floor. He’s also sitting up pretty independently now.

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We are well into weaning now, and it’s apparent that this kid loves his food! We are doing a mixture of baby led weaning and puree still. Last weekend I did have to give him jars of baby food because we were away at a wedding, although he did demolish half of my chocolate fudge cake and ice cream.  Talking of ice cream – I think we have discovered his favourite food! Whenever Alex has an ice cream he always leaves the cone. A couple of weeks ago, I gave Ben the cone with some ice cream left in it to see what he would do – he knew exactly what to do! He made almost no mess either. He also loves scrambled eggs, cheese, yorkshire pudding, fromage frais and carrots.

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He was last weighed about a fortnight ago at his consultant appointment, which I will be blogging about soon. He weighed almost 16lb – double his birth weight!

He loves playing in his doorway bouncer and is really starting to interact with his big brothers. He watches them and giggles when they do something daft. His favourite toys at the moment are an old fashioned rattle, Sophie the Giraffe and a gel teething ring. He also loves singing – Row the Boat is guaranteed to get a smile from him.

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That’s pretty much it for his half-birthday update!!

5 Fun Design Ideas for Kids’ Bathrooms

There is a special feeling that comes with designing spaces for kids and babies in your home – it probably comes from knowing how much joy it will give them – and the kids’ bathroom is no different The bathroom may be one of the smallest rooms in the house, but to your tiny humans it’s huge!

Consider using some of these cheerful ideas and smart designs to make this a room your kids want to spend time in:

1. Add a splash of colour

Kids' BathroomImage Source: Chris and Jenni (Flickr)

Brighten up the room with a few bold colours, whether it’s painted on the walls or built into it (such as the cabinets or sink. If you want a simpler change, try rolling out a colourful bath mat or rug. Colourful geometric shapes or a scene from their favourite Disney film will definitely get them going.

Tip: If you choose to add a rug to the space, ensure it’s washable for easy and regular cleaning.

2. Personalise their space

Situations can get a bit heated when you have more than one kid sharing the same bathroom. Avoid pushing and grabbing by making each child’s towel, toothbrush, and toiletries by assigning them a colour code or even their own monogrammed caddies. If they each have their own colour, you’ll also know who’s picking up after themselves and who isn’t!

3. Let them decorate

If your children are creative types (or they take pleasure in drawing on the walls!), indulge them with chalkboard-painted walls in the bathroom. They can doodle while waiting for the bath and it will make them feel like they have a place that is their own.

Tip: Chalkboard paint is black so it can make the bathroom feel quite dark – keep it to one wall or area so it’s not overwhelming.

4. Make room

If there really is an issue with taking turns at the sink, consider doubling up on faucets so that no one has to argue about who goes first. Look for a double faucet sink – you may find that there are small models that fit in the same space

5. Give it a theme

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A theme gives your bathroom an instant update – whether it’s a jungle concept or their favourite cartoon, you’ll both have fun finding pieces that fit. An Around the World theme would work well: a map shower curtain, earthy tones, and different worldly accessories. To really take your theme up a notch, look for vinyl decals to stick to walls and cabinets.

TipDon’t make it too trendy – kids are fickle and you might not like hearing them upset about being “so over” Frozen (who are we kidding, that will never happen!).

 

If you’ve been inspired to redecorate your bathroom with the kids, be sure to check out Bathroom Takeaway – they make buying bathrooms online as easy as 1-2-3!

 

*This is a guest post

Personalised Gifts for Father’s Day

Father’s Day is rapidly approaching (June 21st!) and I’ve been looking for gifts that are suitable for the fussiest bloke on the planet – Graham.

Like most blokes, he’s partial to a beer or three, so these personalised beers from Personalised Gift Solutions are perfect.

Personalised Beers

For £21.95, you get three 500ml bottles of ale, which spell out DAD. Each bottle can be personalised with the recipient’s name and a message.

Personalised Beer

Personalised Beer Fathers Day

I thought these were absolutely lovely, and perfect for a beer swilling dad. The website, which you can visit here, has tonnes of lovely gift ideas, all of which can be personalised for any occasion. There are coffee hampers, cufflinks, wines, spirits, mugs, phone cases – something for even the fussiest of blokes! The last day to order for guaranteed delivery for Father’s Day is Monday 15th June.

 

* We received this product free in return for an honest review

 

 

 

Money Saving Tips for Your New Baby

Money saving tips ready for your baby

There seems to be millions of things you feel you need to buy ready for your baby, but are they really essential and could you possibly get them cheaper elsewhere?

With a few small steps you could make some big savings.

Average costs

First step to saving money is to know what the average person spends on their baby, this way you can get an idea and plan ahead. Using a baby cost calculator will enable you to do this.. I have found the average person spends £44,000 over a three year period. Breaking this down this is what you’re spending:

  • Clothes- up to £4000
  • Pushchair- up to £400
  • Car seat- up to £300
  • Furniture- up to £1,500
  • Cot and bedding- up to £300
  • Food- up to £6,000
  • Nappies- up to £1,200
  • Childcare- up to £30,000

Have a budget and make a plan

A great way to stop over spending and buying things you don’t need is to create a plan. Monitor your spending habits and see if you are able to cut down on items which you don’t particularly need, that may be a meal or a cinema trip every week, cut it down to once a month and you’re sure to make some beneficial savings.

Know what you need to buy

Don’t go for a trip to Mothercare without a list, you will leave with a trolley full of items that you really didn’t need. Here are some essentials that you’re most definitely going to need to stock up on:

  • Clothes: all in one suits, vests, cardigans, coat or an all in one suit and a hat.
  • Nappies, Nappy sacks, wet wipes and cream.
  • Nursing bras, breast pads, bottles, teats, bottle brushes, steriliser and bibs.
  • A mosses basket or a cot, bedding sheets, a mattress and bedroom furniture.
  • A baby bath or a newborn bath support, towels, baby cleanser and wash.
  • A pushchair with a rain cover and a sunshade.
  • A rear facing car seat and sun blinds.
  • A changing bag with a changing mat.

Though a few of the essentials need to be brought new especially the rear facing car seat, which must always be brought from a reputable retailer to ensure it is safe and in working condition, Halfords always have offers on, so have a look around different shops and find the best offer. Other items such as clothing can be brought second hand. Ask friends and family if they have anything which their children have grown out of and could be passed down onto you, also try having a look on local sites such as gumtree for bundles of clothing and furniture being sold.

Childcare costs can also be reduced by making sure you’re claiming what you’re entitled to such as child benefit, but also have a look at childcare tax credits and the salary scheme sacrifice given by your employer. Ask friends and relatives if they are able to help out even if it’s just once week with childcare, this will amount to a big saving over time.

Money Saving Tips For Your Baby

Image Courtesy of Digital Internet

 

 

 

*This is a guest post

Empty Nest and Desert Island Dreams: A Guest Post

Another guest post on the blog today. This one is from my close friend and newbie blogger, Julie from Menopause 4 Thought. This one is particularly lovely to read, as even though I have many years before any of my kids grow up and leave home, I know it will come round quicker than I expect it. I’ve not really sat and thought about my life after that point, so it is fab to hear from someone who is at that point. Over to Julie…

Empty Nest and Desert Island Dreams

Well to all of you with little ones tugging at your skirts, disturbing your sleep and generally taking up every waking moment, this is for you, the unpaid, often unrewarded guardians of the next generation. I remember sending my kids to their grandparents and using the time to go to bed, not party! Sound familiar?

After 27 years of being a mum to four children, from age 18, my youngest is nearly 17 and will be the last to fly the nest when she goes to Uni next summer. Nowadays, I can sleep in if I have no commitments that day, I can do my make-up in peace, I can go out without worrying about childminders, get drunk without fear of watching teletubbies (or whatever it is now) whilst still inebriated the next morning (not fun!) and I can plan a holiday outside of school holidays! So yes, for the main I have a child free life, as much as you ever can that is. I guess to you all, my life now must seem like heaven.

Word of Wisdom: they never really leave, you never stop worrying and you are always on call! The older children visit with the addition of my four beautiful grandchildren. I love them all to distraction but I have to say that I am glad when they return home and my life has a semblance of peace once again. I honestly don’t know how I did it?!

Anyway, with this ever empty nest, came a startling revelation that as I have been a mum so long, I really do not know how to be an adult without it being based around children. I was so young when the responsibility changed my life that I am now confused, not having formed a definitive ME!

I had so many dreams, but they went on hold when I became a young mum and began gaining the wisdom of someone older than my years and missing out on the kind of things I should have been finding out at that age. Who is this middle aged Julie?

I was so busy trying to be a good mum, good wife (failed twice!) good teacher, that I kind of lost who I was. Being defined as someone’s mum, wife or teacher can do that! I do not regret this, any of this as it all led to where I am right now. My children are by far my best achievement and I am so proud of the people that I have raised. They are awesome!

I am however now scared. Scared that I am too old, too unfit, too tired to live my dreams. I can feel the young me ‘rushing’ to the surface with a strong desire to get out and scream NOW…NOW it is your time! Get ready because it is going to be awesome!

Unfortunately, the 45 year old me is less spontaneous because I know how hard life can be. I know that my childish dreams of far flung places are possible but that they are often tough and dangerous. No longer do I believe that I am invincible, that went with my youth, when I had to grow a sensible head. BUT I am still that dreamer, that girl who wants to experience world culture, to be free, just for a while.

I knew this most powerfully as I stood watching a dear childhood friend being carried in her coffin to her final resting place last summer. I knew at that moment that I do not want to regret not taking the risk and grabbing life by the horns. I know intrinsically that I need to do this, to at least try to fulfil some of my greatest desires.

So I have taken drastic measures because I fear that I will make excuses; I will stay for my grandchildren and never explore; that my travel dreams will be my biggest regret on my deathbed. I have applied to go on The Island! As I watched every week, the contestants, male and female, conquered fears and anxieties, relaxed into the strange new world they found themselves in and I know that it has changed each and every one of them forever.

I hope I get it and I am using the Law of Attraction to visualise myself there. Either way it is the start of many more brave steps I know I will be taking in the next few years as I strive to be an inspirational Granny, and Mum moving forward.

Wish me luck! Love always

Julie x

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You can follow Julie on Facebook and Twitter.

Depression and Me: A Guest Post

Today’s post is written by a friend and fellow blogger, the lovely Laura from Mind Mood Mommy. Here, she shares a beautifully honest post about her battle with depression…

Depression and Me.

Being a single mum is hard. Especially when you’ve been used to just being one parent. Suddenly you have to be both parents 99% of the time. Factor in depression and anxiety, and you can fast turn into a mess.

As it’s Mental Health Awareness Month this month, I thought I’d share a little (it would be a MUCH longer post if I shared all!) bit about my depression and how it came to rule my life.

At the beginning of this year, my husband of 5 years and partner of 13, decided he no longer wanted to be a family. I was heartbroken. It seemed as though the world was out to get me; I’d had an unpleasant pregnancy with my youngest and a pretty complicated birth, which resulted in me having to have another emergency C-section whilst fighting infection and a large blood loss. At the same time, my husband slipped two discs in his back again and was out of action for 6 weeks (in fact he spent a whole week lying on our bedroom floor as he was unable to move!). Life looked pretty grim and I couldn’t see a way out.

I carried on as best I could, but it put a huge strain on our marriage and back in January this year, it broke us. I assumed the exhaustion and not wanting to get out of bed was just a factor of me getting used to having to do everything. I was wrong. I had been visited by depression. I was weepy (I’m quite an emotional person anyway, so nothing too out of the ordinary there), but I had also become angry. I am not an angry person, I never have been really. I don’t like confrontation and I despise people that are always shouting at their children, yet suddenly I’d become one! That’s when I realised I needed some help.

I went to the doctors who initially wanted me to have anti-depressants. I refused as I didn’t understand at the time that they actually helped. I thought they would just mask the problem instead of deal with it. They also recommended that I tried Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to try and deal with some of the issues I have.

I am now into my 4th week of CBT and I have to admit, after initially being sceptical, I am noticing a difference. That coupled with me now also being on anti-depressants to rebalance the chemicals in my brain, and I am starting to feel less angry all the time.

I know I have a long way to go before I am myself again, but I feel that I have made the first steps. I am hoping that I can find my positive mental attitude that seems to have deserted me of late, and that I can be ‘normal’ again.

 

You can follow Laura on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with her posts!

Your Guide To Shopping For Baby Before Birth

*contains affiliate links

The second trimester of pregnancy is a mixed bag of emotions, physical changes and shopping. For most women, reaching this point means an end to all that morning sickness and weird cravings. For a lucky few, it means overwhelming happiness as you move out of the danger zone of early pregnancy. The reality that a baby will be here in just a few weeks kicks in, and the shopping can begin.

If you’ve not had children before, figuring out what you’ll need in the first few weeks after birth can be a challenge. You can buy nursery furniture online or at your local store. A cot isn’t usually needed until after about six weeks, so there is no need to panic about buying one this early. Baby will usually sleep in a Moses basket next to your bed so you can nurse through the night, without having to leave the room. A cot will take two people to put together, and it will be too heavy for you to carry upstairs when it is delivered.

Having a changing table is very helpful, especially in the first three weeks, because you will be sore from the birth. Standing or sitting instead of kneeling over a baby on the floor will be more comfortable. It will also provide you with more storage for all the nappies, creams, cotton wool and wipes. You will also need to buy a change mat separately, and having a second, foldable one for your change bag is very useful.

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A change bag is an essential piece of kit from the moment you go into labour. Inside you should keep:

baby wipes,

nappies,

three or four sets of clothes,

a sterilised bottle,

hand cleansing gel,

nappy sacks

and some antibacterial wipes.

You may also want to add a pacifier or baby toy to keep little one amused while you are out and about. Some stores give these bags away for free, but you might be better off buying one that suits you and your needs.

At this stage of pregnancy there is no way to tell exactly what size your baby will be when he arrives, so buying newborn clothes is going to be tricky. Buy plenty of babywear from birth, but hold off buying small newborn outfits until she arrives. You are likely to be in the hospital long enough for you to order something online or nip to the store. The same goes for maternity bras. You won’t know if you will be engorged and enlarged until three days after birth. If you get something too small, you can cause damage to your breasts.

Lots of the items on your shopping list right now will be more about you coping with the third trimester, labour and the birth. You’ll need some maternity pads and breast pads. And you may want some disposable knickers for the first couple of days after birth. If you want a home birth, you need to start planning early if you would like a birthing pool. To help with the pains of early labour, you may want to invest in an exercise ball to help move your pelvis. Just remember, the last four to six weeks are the most uncomfortable so you won’t want to be out and about much or assembling furniture. Good luck!

Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeremysalmon/4659606160/

Weigh In: Week Two

Well, week two and a massive disappointment. I didn’t put anything on, but I didn’t lose anything either. I really don’t understand why. I’ve pretty much stuck to the plan. On Saturday we visited a foodies festival, and I reckon I went about 300 calories over – but should have more than made up for that in the amount of walking we did, so I am a more than a bit puzzled. However, people have said that I may have lost inches rather than weight – I didn’t measure myself so I have no idea. We also seem to have an issue with scales – In four ‘weigh ins’ I had three different weights (Graham can vouch for this!), and I seem to have different weights depending on where I stand in the kitchen. Now I have no idea about how accurate our scales are!!

I felt really down in the dumps about it this morning (it’s Friday when I am writing this!) and may have had a cry and a sulk. I’m now feeling a bit more positive about it. I’m still 8lb lighter than I was two weeks ago! I’ve finished the Slim Fast Challenge now, so am now making the transition to eating ‘normally’. I’ve downloaded My Fitness Pal for my iphone, which calculates how many calories I need per day if I want to lose two pounds a week based on my current weight and height. The good thing about this is I can scan in products and it works it all out for me. By using this, I can keep an eye on my calorie intake. I still have some slim fast bits and pieces left, and I’m going to use those in conjunction with My Fitness Pal.

I’m not holding out for a huge loss – if one at all – again next week, as this weekend I am away for my sister in laws wedding. I know that my attitude towards food has changed though, and won’t just eat for the sake of it – I’ll be thinking a little more carefully and making healthier choices where possible!

Pounds lost: 8lb

Pounds still to lose: 70lbs

Travelling: Living a Dream

Something a little different from me today. I’m not particularly well travelled – Tenerife is as far as I have gone – but to see more of the world is one of my dreams.

My brother’s girlfriend, Charli, has been lucky enough to see so many beautiful areas of the world. I asked her if she would write a little about some of the places she has been to, what she has learned from visiting them, and her top tips for making the most of the trips….

Hi readers! My name is Charli, and Rachel has asked me to post a guest blog about my love of travelling, which I have done quite a lot of recently. My favourite thing about travelling to new places is that as well as having a lot of fun, I also learn about myself and the world around me.

These are the recent places that I have been, and the lessons I learnt along the way;

Sunshine Coast: Follow your Dreams

In 2014 a dream came true; I was given the opportunity to work for six months in Australia. Not only that, but I was based in an absolutely stunning part of the country called The Sunshine Coast. This is an area approximately one hour north of Brisbane (Queensland). It encompasses a number of small coastal towns, such as Mooloolaba, Noosa and Coolum. I was blown away by the natural beauty of the Sunshine Coast, which as well as having numerous pristine beaches also had mountain ranges, rainforests and hinterland. Noosa is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to, and it well deserves its reputation as one of the best places to visit in Australia. I lived my best life whilst in the Sunshine Coast. I felt at peace, happy and motivated to be the best possible version of myself. For example, I started going to the gym six times a week (from zero times a week in the UK!) and I became much more laid back at work and home. This experience taught me how important it is to follow your dreams, no matter how impossible they may seem.

Top Tips for Sunshine Coast:

1.Browse the Peregian Beach independent boutiques before relaxing on the idyllic beach

2.Have dinner in one of the many amazing restaurants in Mooloolaba, such as Spice Bar and Thai Lotus

3.Walk through Noosa National Park and admire the stunning views

4.Admire the Blackall Mountain Range from the peaceful Maleny Botanical Gardens

Noosa beach

Sydney: See as much as you can

The first trip I took within Australia was a weekend in Sydney. I will never forget getting off the train at the harbour and seeing the Opera House only a few feet away. It took my breath away, and it hit me; this is real. My dream has come true; everything is how it should be. I felt so overwhelmingly happy. I had a fantastic weekend exploring Sydney, it was a great city for tourist sites and shopping, but nothing will beat that first moment. I spent a lot of money travelling around Australia, but when I think back to moments like that, I know that the debt is worth it. I would hate to die or reach old age regretting that I didn’t travel and follow my passions just to save money.

Top Tips for Sydney:

1.Get up early to walk around the Opera House in the early morning sun, before it becomes clogged with (other) tourists!

2.Visit the Sydney Sky Tower to great 360 degrees over the city.

3.Enjoy lunch at one of the cafes in the Harbour overlooking the Harbour Bridge/Opera House.

4.Visit “The Rocks” for great artisan markets, bars and views across the water.

sydney

Melbourne: Find Peace in the Chaos

The second city trip I took was to Melbourne. I adored Melbourne, the city had a great vibe about it that is hard to explain. And although it was a very busy city I found that it was very easy to find peace amid the chaos in one of the many cafes, riverside benches, or museums. There is a strong sense of history in Melbourne, with beautiful architecture, but also there are also a plethora of modern buildings and modern art galleries to explore. There are less traditional tourist traps in Melbourne than Sydney but I preferred the atmosphere here, and now I find that in any city (even London) I am able to find a little slice of peace away from the manic city life.

Top Tips for Melbourne:

1.Take the Eureka Edge experience – you are suspended almost 300 metres from a skyscraper in a glass cube and get great views of Melbourne with an added twist!

2. Enjoy a glass of Australian wine at one of the many fashionable riverside bars as the sun goes down.

3. Check out the exhibitions at the National Gallery of Victoria (I visited the Jean Paul Gautier exhibit which was stunning!).

meborne

Auckland: Feel the fear and do it anyway

At the end of my secondment I spent four days visiting a friend that had just moved to Auckland. A highlight of the trip was a new experience for both of us; we bungee jumped off the Auckland Harbour Bridge! We were both very nervous on the morning of the jump, and the anticipation builds as you are strapped into your harness and have to walk half the length of the harbour bridge, to reach the jump site. As I stepped on to the jump platform I was told to stand so that the front half of my feet hung over the edge. I could feel the wind and see nothing but a lot of drop space and deep water below. I was pretty terrified! He started counting; “Three” oh my god, I can’t do this… “Two” No, I have to do this… “One”… I don’t think I thought anything I just jumped! As soon as my feet had left the bridge I was hit with a massive wave of endorphins and adrenaline. It was the biggest rush I have felt, I didn’t scream but instead you could not wipe the giant smile from my face! At the bottom you pull yourself into a seated position and look across the beautiful Auckland skyline as you are raised back up to the bridge. This made the experience even more magical.I want to do more bungee jumps now, although I know that I will still be terrified I also know that it will be worth it!

Top Tips for Auckland:

1.Take the ferry to Waiheke Island for the day and explore the beautiful beaches and vineyards.

2.Visit the Auckland Sky Tower, the tallest in the Southern Hemisphere

3.Bungee off the Harbour Bridge of course!

auckland

Mount Coolum: Your mind will quit before your body

One of the mountains that most Sunshine Coast locals have climbed is Mount Coolum. The summit is 208m and it is a relatively steep climb.Being overweight my entire life and only having recently started going to the gym I felt that this would be beyond me, and though I wanted to do it for months I was too afraid to try it. In my final week of being in Australia I decided that I needed to face my fear and overcome my self-doubt. I set out on New Years Day at 6am to try to avoid the summer heat – but it was still over 25 degrees! The climb was tough in the heat, and I stopped a few times on the way up to “take photos” (a.k.a. try to breathe again). Numerous times I told myself “I can’t do this”, “I’m not going to make it”, “I am not good enough”. Then I told myself “shut up” and kept climbing. When I reached the summit I was euphoric! I had done it; I had pushed through and climbed a mountain! I sat and watched the sunrise over the Sunshine Coast and reflected on my time in Australia. I had done so much and had become a much better person than when I arrived. On my final day in the country I had learned one final lesson; your mind will quit before your body so keep going!

mount coolum

Amsterdam: It is who you see the world with

After arriving home from Australia within a week I was already off on the next adventure; a few days in Amsterdam with my partner Cooper (aka Rachel’s brother!). I loved the architecture of the city, and Anne Frank’s house was an incredibly moving experience. This was the first time in six months that I was exploring a new city with someone else, and not only that but the man I loved and who I hadn’t seen in six months. My favourite part of the weekend was just spending quality time together, enjoying each other’s company and sharing new experiences. It is great to travel alone in terms of confidence and personal development, but sometimes it’s nice to have someone to share the adventures and memories with.

Top Tips for Amsterdam:

1.Enjoy a pastry at the Nutella Café.

2.Wander along the many canals and admire the architecture – don’t forget to check out the tall rooftops which often have interesting statues atop them.

3.Visit the Heineken Experience – even as a non beer drinker I had great fun! And it includes a free canal tour across the city.

amsterdam

Copenhagen: See the magic in the world around you

Shortly after my trip to Amsterdam I booked a last minute weekend away with my Mum to Copenhagen. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, as I had never really been to Scandinavia or looked into Denmark too much. In the end it turned out to be one my favourite cities! The architecture is incredibly beautiful and there are so many designs, landmarks and statues that have a fairy tale theme. Hans Christian Anderson is one of the city’s most famous residents, the author of one my favourite fairy tales; The Princess and the Pea. My Mum’s favourite landmark was the statue of the Little Mermaid. I loved the spires of the cities that were sculpted as dragon tails. Copenhagen is stunning, especially in the early morning sunshine when there aren’t too many people around. It felt like stepping into a magical world – every little girl’s dream! We also visited the royal palace which truly topped off my feeling of being a fairy tale princess for the weekend!

Top Tips for Copenhagen

1. Take a boat tour to see the main sites from a new angle, and get a feel for the whole city.

2. Enjoy a traditional Danish breakfast along the river in picturesque Nyhavn.

3. Visit the Royal Palace and admire the beautiful reception rooms. The Beauty and the Beast library was my favourite room. You can also enter the tower for free; one of the tallest viewing points to see the whole city and admire the fairy tale rooftops and spires.

copenhagen

Falklands: Get back to nature

Over the past four years I have been lucky enough to visit the Falkland Islands five times with my work. In fact, I am writing this post from the Falklands! There is no wifi or mobile data in the Falklands, unless you are at home, and we spend a lot of time driving around the country, walking on beaches, watching the local wildlife etc.Some of my happiest memories from these trips are watching wild dolphins, seals, sea lions and penguins, or sitting on the picturesque beach whilst the sun sets over a huge clear sky. Every trip I am reminded how peaceful and freeing it can be to step away from technology and reconnect with this amazing world we live in. The struggle is remembering that back in the UK…

Top Tips for the Falklands

1. Fly over to Sea Lion Island to see wild seals, sea lions and penguins in their thousands

2. Spend a night partying at the local “disco” Deanos (beware it shuts at 11pm!)

3. Enjoy the local squid rings and the Malvina Hotel

falklands

I hope this post will inspire you to take a trip, maybe just within your own country, maybe some exotic adventure you have wanted to take for years. Whatever it is just get out there and explore a new part of the world, and just maybe you will also find a new part of yourself out there.

 

A massive thankyou to Charli for writing this for me, and for letting me use her photos. Big thanks to my brother Simon – I nicked one of his as well!!

New Baby? Everything You Can Expect Now

*This is a guest post

When I first had my little one, nobody could have prepared me for how my world would change. Motherhood is not just a phase of your life – it is everything. I honestly had no idea how I would feel until I came home from the hospital. From the on, I had to care for someone else: my child. It was a strange feeling, but I think I went through what a lot of young mums feel. It’s normal. Here is everything you can expect when you have your first bundle of joy.

You will cry (all the time)

Okay, so first you will cry because you are happy. Having a baby is one of the most beautiful things that will ever happen to you, and you’re sure to get a little emotional. Then, later, you will cry because you are sleepy and you find it all tricky. Having a baby is a roller coaster ride for your emotions, and so you better keep some tissues handy. Don’t worry. Your feelings are normal and you need to chill out. With time, you will start to learn how to cope.

Your baby will cry too

Of course, you won’t be the only cry baby in your home – there will be an actual baby crying much of the time. When you have a little one, they tend to be loud at first. You need to make sure that you are strong when your baby is yelling. Your child needs you to be the secure one, and so you will need to relax and take charge of the situation. Look at some advice on what to do when your baby cries. That way, you will be ready for anything.

You won’t know what to buy

Before you have a baby, you might not know what to get. You should attend some baby shows so that you get an idea of what you need. Once your baby arrives, you will have to learn on the job. It won’t be easy. There will be things that you didn’t know you’d need. Make sure that you have a spare budget for these little extras – you will need it.

Nights will be hard

At first, your baby might sleep with you in your bed. After a while, though, you need to make sure that your child has somewhere else to sleep. You could get a baby moses basket to put by the side of your bed. That way, you don’t have to worry about your child being in another room and you can check that they are safe. Newborns tend to wake up a few times throughout each night. That means that you will get less sleep than you usually do. Get used to it.

You will learn to love kids’ TV

When you first stay home with your child, you will find that the days feel long. Of course, sometimes, your baby will watch TV shows. There are some great kids’ TV shows these days and it won’t be long before you become a complete addict. Before you know it, you will start looking forward to your favourite show each day. Trust me, it will happen.

You will realise how strong you are

All in all, having a baby teaches you how strong you are. Right now, you might not think you can do it, but you can. After the first few weeks, you will see that you have superpowers – we all do. You have been hiding them until now, but now it is plain to see that you are Wonder Woman. If you can handle motherhood, you can handle just about anything!

Capture

Photo Credit: Gabe Menashe

Cardboard Rocket Playhouse from Kid-Eco Review

We were really excited to have the opportunity to review this fabulous cardboard rocket playhouse from Kid Eco. We have two little boys who love playing spaceships and astronauts, so you can imagine their delight when they saw this!

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We chose a plain white one so that they could decorate it however they wanted, although it is available in a variety of colours. It was easy enough to put together – it took Graham about fifteen minutes and that was with two very excited children (and one very excited mummy!) getting in the way. No instructions were included in the box, but these are easily available on the website, not that Graham needed them!

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11144415_10155579119895500_3341833418675295080_nWhen it was put together, I couldn’t believe how big it was! The dimensions are stated clearly on the website but it did still take me by surprise – it is huge!

The one thing that I had been concerned about was how sturdy it would be – after all, it is made of cardboard and I have a very boisterous two year old and nearly four year old. Surely a cardboard playhouse wasn’t going to last very long with them around? Well, after over a week of being played with, leaned on and pushed around the room, it is still pretty much intact. The ‘hinge’ on one of the doors is showing a little bit of wear, but nothing too drastic.

11351287_10155579120430500_1699294768758879864_nThe playhouse has two doors, and plenty of cut outs to peer through. It’s really spacious inside – both Harrison and Alex can fit in there easily, and I reckon another toddler or two could squeeze in there. On more than one occasion I’ve found Harrison curled up in there with a pillow and a quilt!

11017542_10155579119705500_6857991847439891288_nThe kids had hours of fun decorating it. Had the weather been kinder we would have taken it outside and painted it. Instead, we got the big marker pens out, and let them loose. Alex had a good scribble and Harrison used it as an excuse to practise writing his name.

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At £28.99 I think it is fantastic value for money. There are several different types of cardboard playhouses, as well as cardboard furniture and toys.

*We were sent this in return for an honest and unbiased review.

 

Top Tips for Teething Babies

Just when you think you’re getting to grips with being a mum, a brand new hurdle comes your way – teething. When teething starts, you can pretty much kiss goodbye to any routine you’ve got yourself into. That nice, easy going happy baby becomes a soggy, dribbling grizzly little monster almost overnight. Teething is pretty rubbish – for both baby and for parents.

How do I know if my baby is teething?

Believe me, you will know well before that first little bit pops through the gum. Babies can start teething at any age, but it can be months before one shows. Harrison started showing all the symptom when he was seven weeks, but was about ten months before one popped through. Alex started about five months and a tooth appeared at about nine months. Benjamin is six months and teething but no sign of any yet. The first teeth to come through are the bottom front ones (incisors).

Some common teething symptoms include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Red, flushed cheeks
  • Chewing on everything, including fingers and fists
  • Dribbling

Top Tips for Teething Babies

  • Try a natural teething remedy such as Ashton and Parsons Powder. I swear by this stuff. Because it is natural, it can be given hourly for up to six doses in 24 hours. Within minutes of having a dose, Ben is back to his normal cheery self.

Teething

  • Teething toys – there are plenty out there designed to be chomped on. There’s all sorts of rings and toys that can be popped into the fridge to be chilled, or there is the famous Sophie the Giraffe, which Ben loves!

Teething

  • Medication – sometimes when symptoms get too bad, we have to turn to a paracetamol suspension such as Calpol. Obviously, check age range and dosage before giving it to baby!
  • If baby lets you, try gently massaging their gums with a clean finger, or even a clean soft toothbrush. It can help to relieve the pressure.
  • Chilled veggie sticks such as carrot or cucumber sticks are great for older babies to gnaw on
  • Amber – we’ve not tried this but I know lots of people swear by it. There has been a few negative stories in the media recently about the necklaces and bracelets being a choking hazard, so do your research first.

What have you tried that works?

 

Don’t Abuse the NHS!

The NHS is under a lot of stran. There isn’t an unlimited pot of money and whether it or not, cuts have to be made. One thing that is not going to help is people abusing the system under the Minor Ailments Scheme.

This scheme was set up a while ago to encourage people to seek advice from a pharmacist for minor ailments such as coughs, colds, hayfever, insect bites etc rather than take up a valuable GP appointment. Don’t get me wrong – if you’re worried about something, especially when it comes to the kids, you should always get it checked. However, I do know of a parent that rushes their otherwise healthy child to the doctors or the hospital every time they have a cough, cold or upset tummy. She can’t understand why she isn’t sent home with medication for them, and moans when she can’t get appointments for things that really do need a doctor. Jeez, if I took the kids to the doctors every time one of them was under the weather, we’d be there every day. It’s only Wednesday and so far this week all three kids have snot dripping from their noses, coughs like a 20 a day smoker, we’ve had some pretty dodgy nappies and puke. It’s all down to having a cold, and I’m not worried. If I was, the first place I would go to is the pharmacy, who would tell me to keep them hydrated and give them Calpol or the like to keep any temperatures down and make them feel a bit more comfortable. This is what the minor ailments scheme is for.  However, under this scheme I’d also be entitled to get calpol, head lice lotion, hayfever medicine, plasters and various other over the counter medication. This scheme has gone viral over Facebook in the last week or so, which I think is really irresponsible. I’ve seen people comment saying things like ‘I’ll be heading to Boots to stock up this week’. I can’t imagine the pharmacy would give out more than one bottle at a time, but if every single person with a child does this, can you imagine how many bottles of calpol and how many packets of plasters would be given out – for free?

Yes, we all want to save a few quid here and there, but you saving £3 on a bottle of calpol and 30p on a pack of plasters costs someone else – the NHS. I’ve heard varying amounts of how much it costs them, but whatever it is, it still costs them. That money has to come from somewhere, whether it’s another department in the NHS or even something totally different, such as the education or the defense budget. Wherever it comes from, it’s going to affect you and your kids.

Imagine if in a couple of years they need to make cuts on some life saving treatment in order to pay for all the bottles of free calpol and plasters? People aren’t going to be very happy! Calpol costs about £3 in the supermarket, less for an own brand which is identical. If you have children, you are responsible for making sure you have what they need, and that includes things like this. Don’t leave it until you’ve ran out and skint to get some – add it to your shopping list when you know you’re coming to the end of a packet or bottle.

Please, please, please, before you share that status, before you run to the pharmacy to stock up on over the counter medication, have a think. Do you need it? Can you buy it yourself? Don’t abuse the NHS. It is there for people who really need it, not to stock up your medicine cupboard.

 

Phytalotion Review and Competition

After having three children in a relatively short space of time means my tummy now resembles an A-Z map – covered in lines and stretch marks (attractive image, I know). I know lots of people say to be proud of them, but I can’t stand them!

I know I’m never going to get rid of them completely, but if I could get them to fade, that would be brilliant. That’s where the Phyalotion and Phytaoil by Phytacol come in.

Phytalotion Review

Available in both lotion and oil, it is designed to help treat damaged skin, scars and stretchmarks. Retailing at £9.99 for the lotion (which is what I tried), it contains rosehip oil and extracts, which are known for their skin regenerative properties.

Phytalotion Review

I haven’t been using it long enough yet to see a difference to my stretch marks, but I absolutely love the product. It smells lush – like lavender. It makes the skin on my tummy feel lovely and moisturised, which I guess goes a long way to help reducing the appearance of stretchmarks and scars.

I’ve teamed up with Phytacol to offer one reader the chance of winning a bottle of either the oil or the lotion

To enter:

  • Fill in the Rafflecopter widget below to verify your entries
  • Complete the mandatory entry first – answer the question. Comments that do not answer the question will not be counted! Comments may not appear immediately due to moderation.
  • You can come back and enter every day via Facebook and Twitter.
  • The closing date is Wednesday 10th June 2015.
  • All terms and conditions can be found here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Foodies Festival

On Saturday, Graham, me and the kids met up with some friends and headed to Cannon Hill Park in Birmingham for the Foodies Festival. We were so lucky that the weather was gorgeous, and Cannon Hill Park is a beautiful place.

The first stands that caught our eye were the alcohol ones – well, on such a beautiful sunny day it would have been rude not to!. There was Pimms, champagne, rum, cider, Prosecco, wine…heaven! We sampled some of the new Stella Artois Cidre – we all liked the peach one best, but the elderflower one was pretty damn nice!

Foodies Festival

Foodies Festival

 

There were plenty of pop up restaurants selling almost every kind of food you could imagine, from Jamie’s Kitchen to burgers and hot dogs, street food, pulled pork, paella, flatbreads, chips, pastries – you name it, it was there! There wasn’t many ‘child friendly’ options, so the kids had chips. Graham had pizza, and I, trying to stay on track with my diet went for a healthier (and extremely delicious!) option of Hungarian chicken stew, with rice, salad and pickled cabbage. For £5 I got a huge tray of it, and couldn’t finish it!

Foodies Festival

 

The best bit was the chance to sample all sorts of delicious things from independent stalls and retailers. We tried chocolate, fudge, popcorn, cheese, salami, chorizo, dips…all of it delicious!

foodies festival

foodies festival

 

We tried some of the ‘Godslayer’ chilli dip from The Chilli Farm – it certainly lived up to it’s name as a ‘f*****g hot sauce’.

foodies festival

 

To cool our mouths down, we headed over to the bar to have a drink. The others had a cider and I had a gin and tonic, which was perfect in the sunshine. Whilst we had a sit down, the kids loved exploring the bus!.

foodies festival

There was plenty of open space to walk about and even though it was busy, it didn’t feel crammed. I would have liked to have seen a little bit more seating – there were only a few benches. We ended up standing up to eat which wasn’t too comfortable. There was plenty of grass space to sit on though.

foodies festival

There was also a stage with live music, which was nice to listen to as we walked around.

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All in all, it was a lovely day out, and a chance to discover some new foods and drinks. If you get the chance to visit it at any of the other venues this year, I highly recommend it!

 

*We were given complimentary tickets to visit the festival. All opinions are our own.

The Baby Show 2015

On Friday, Benjamin, my sister in law and I hopped on the bus to visit The Baby Show at the NEC in Birmingham. I went last year with my mum when Ben was just a little bump, and really enjoyed it. This year I was really looking forward to meeting up with some brands I have worked with, and a few other bloggers.

We arrived at the show at about 10.30, and it was already filling up. I’ve been to plenty of shows at the NEC before, and they are all absolutely huge. The Baby Show is no exception!

The first exhibitor we came across is one of my favourite baby brands, Cosatto. We admired all the beautiful pushchair designs, and they loved seeing Ben in his Giggle Pablo, which we were inspired to get from visiting the show last year. We bought ours from Beebies Baby Store.

Cosatto

We also popped over to say hi to the ladies behind the fantastic Poddle Pod – I’ve heard so many positive reviews about them, so it was lovely to see one ‘in real life’. I can confirm they are fab!

We then zipped over to the Tommee Tippee stand for a mini blogger event. We had a look at the huge range of beakers and cups available (giveaway coming soon!).It was lovely to see Zena from Zena’s Suitcase and Aby from You Baby Me Mummy. We also tried samples of Arla Big Milk – perfect for a milk lover like me!

Arla Big Milk

 

Baby Show

We stopped off and said hi to Funky Giraffe Bibs, who I’ve reviewed for recently. They’ve just had a new range of designs come in, which I had a mooch through. I love their new frilly bibs!

Baby Show

 

As always, there were plenty of discounts to be had, and opportunities to try out new pushchairs, highchairs and bouncers.We didn’t buy anything, but I was very tempted!

We also came away with plenty of freebies – baby bottles, cereal, cereal bars, Organix baby porridge, Cow & Gate pouches – the pushchair was crammed with bags!

All in all we had a great day. I’ve never taken any of the kids to a show before, but this one is brilliantly set up for babies and kids. It’s finished in Birmingham for this year, but if you get the chance to go to one at any of the other venues, I definitely recommend it!

 

*We were sent two complimentary tickets to attend the Baby Show.

Weigh In: Week One

You may have read my post last week about my slimming journey goals. To kick off my weight loss, I’ve been doing a two week trial of SlimFast. Yesterday marked the end of week one.

I lost 8lb.

Yes. 8lb!! I had to weigh myself three times to check my scales hadn’t broken. To put it into perspective, Benjamin was just over 8lb at birth. I lost the weight of a newborn baby in just one week, and for that, I am pretty damn proud of myself!!

I had been looking forward to the challenge but was worried I would find it difficult. I obviously eat too much – so cutting down so drastically would be really hard, right?

WRONG! It was so much easier than I thought. I started off having a shake for breakfast, but then soon realised I need to feel like I’ve eaten something to start the day off, so since day two I’ve had the meal replacement bars for breakfast. By 10am I have been hungry, so had a snack around that time. Some days this has been one of the SlimFast snacks, other times it has been a banana. Lunch has been one of the shakes. About an hour after lunch I seem to feel hungry, so have had a snack (less than 100 calories) around that time. Some afternoons I have had just one snack, other days I’ve needed one about 4pm. The busier I am the less I feel I need one. Dinners have been our normal meals, which have always been relatively healthy. This week I had:

Baked potatoes, mackerel and salad

Roast dinner

Homemade burgers

Pasta and meatball bake

Baked potatoes, pork chops and salad

Baked potatoes, roast beef and beans

Mashed potato, roast pork and vegetables.

Not once have I ‘denied’ myself anything at dinnertime – I had cheese on top of my pasta, I had gravy, I had butter on my potatoes and some mayo with the salad. It proves you don’t have to cut everything out to lose weight – just cut down.

SlimFastChallenge

I’ve generally enjoyed the SlimFast products. The chocolate shake that you make up yourself is lush. The mocha latte one is also really yummy. I’m not overly keen on the strawberry one – it’s a little sweet for me. What I do love are the snacks, especially the chocolate bars. They taste far too good to be eating on a diet!!

This week, I’ve learned so much about my eating habits. I’ve learned:

  • When my ‘dangerous’ times are in between meals. This seems to be about 10am and 2pm. This is when I would have ended up having a biscuit or four. Now, I have a low calorie snack.
  • That sometimes I think I am hungry when I am actually thirsty. When I feel peckish, I go and have a cup of coffee, and about 80% of the time it’s stopped me wanting anything else.
  • That I do have some willpower. Graham sat and munched through a bag of Doritos (my absolute favourite thing!) in front of me. I had one crisp, and that was it.
  • That bananas are excellent for filling you up and for a boost of energy.
  • That boredom makes you feel hungry. When I’ve been out and about doing something I’ve not noticed that I’m hungry. When I’m sitting at home, I notice it more, and so more likely to snack.

I feel really proud of myself for this week. I’ve stuck to the plan (apart from the one dorito!!) and feel all the better for it. I have my sister in law’s wedding next week, and this has given me an amazing boost. I’m off to a Food Festival today, so no doubt will end up deviating from plan a little, but that’s ok. I’ll not overdo it and be straight back on plan on Sunday. I’ve had an amazing amount of support from Graham, from my family, from friends and from blog readers. One of my friend’s has been doing the plan at the same time, and she lost an amazing 6lb this week (well done Claire!). We are texting each other every day to see how each of u has been getting on, and that is really helpful as well. I know if I felt tempted, I could text her and she would send me a ‘DON’T DO IT’ messsage!!!

So that’s week one. 8lb down. Just another 70lb to go!

Win!! A Personalised Father’s Day Photo Book

Earlier this week you may have read my review on our fantastic photo book from Love2Read – if you haven’t seen it, you can check it out here.

We weren’t the only ones impressed with the book. Harrison couldn’t wait to take it into school on Monday to show off. When I went to pick it up, they were asking me where it was from – they loved it!

Love2Read

Father’s Day is creeping up on us – (June 21st) – and what could be more lovely than a personalised photo book all about Daddy? Love2Read has a range of gorgeous books perfect for the occasion, which need to be ordered by June 15th to be ready for Father’s Day.

I’m really excited to be teaming up with Love2Read and giving one lucky reader the chance to win a personalised Father’s Day book.

To enter:

    • Fill in the Rafflecopter widget below to verify your entries
    • Complete the mandatory entry first – answer the question – comments that do not answer the question will not be counted! Comments may not appear immediately due to moderation.
    • You can come back and enter every day via Twitter and Facebook.
    • Liking and sharing on Facebook aren’t required, but always much appreciated!
    • The closing date is June 6th 2015.
    • All terms and conditions can be found here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!