Friday, 31 May 2013

Lunch box creation with Walkers Hoops and Crosses

The nice people at Tots100 have teamed up with Walkers to promote its new Hoops and Crosses baked low fat wholegrain snack.  They're running a competition, where you can win up to £500 of Amazon vouchers.  Entry is really easy, all you have to do is design a 'totally amazing lunchbox that your own cheeky monkey can’t wait to tuck into'.  It must include Walkers Hoops and Crosses in it.

As our son starts school in September so I've started to look out for tasty and healthy ideas for lunchboxes so he doesn't end up with the same things every day.  So this competition was ideal for me!  Inspired by the hoops and crosses in the Walkers snack, I thought a games themed lunch box may appeal to him.  I should also tell you that I make a packed lunch for my husband most days, and I thought this would be great for him too!

Here's my box:

You'll see a 'Pacman' cheese eating grapes, a 'Rubik's cube' sandwich made with peppers, tomato 'marbles' in a carrot strip 'target', and cucumber and carrot 'sticks' alongside the Walkers 'hoops and crosses' game.  There's also a tub of houmous to dip the veggies into.

I tested it on our son today, and he ate all bar the carrot sticks (good going as he won't normally touch anything green)!  He did love the Walkers snack and Pacman cheese most of all though.

I'll be looking at other entries with interest to try and get some more ideas for his lunch boxes in September.  If you have any ideas, please leave a comment, I'd love to hear how you make lunches different everyday!

This is my entry into the Tots100 #HoopsandCrosses competition

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

MAM Oral Care Rabbit review

When it comes to teething, it feels like I know it all.  Our son started teething really early, and suffered alot with it.  His cheeks were bright red, we were up night after night on and off for many months, and it felt like I tried every 'natural' remedy with him.  Eventually we resorted to Calpol, which, in the end, proved the only thing that relieved his symptoms.

So when our daughter started dribbling a few weeks ago and was generally a bit grouchy, I was really hoping it wasn't her teeth.  At 10 weeks she was a bit early to be starting teething, but with the dribbling and chewing her fist I wondered if her teeth could be bothering her.  She has had a couple of white spots on her gums where her two front bottom teeth will be since she was born, so I figure it must be so!

I won the MAM Oral Care Rabbit about six weeks ago on the excellent MAM UK blog, and although (if I'm honest) I was a bit sceptical, I thought I'd give it a go with her.  Here is ours still in its packet (they are also available in blue), front and back:

The idea is that you put your fingers in the rabbits ears and rub baby's gums to provide teething relief and also to help clean early protruding teeth and get them used to oral care. 

The great thing about the Oral Care Rabbit is that you can wash it at 40, tumble dry it and sterilise it by boiling, steam or microwave if you want to.  So I washed it on a normal white wash in non-bio and figured it was clean enough to use without sterilising. 

Just so you know, the front of the ears is microfibre, and the back is satin type/polyester material.  The face feels like a soft and cuddly mix of cotton and polyester.

Despite my initial scepticism, our daughter genuinely seemed to like it, and it provided her with some relief when biting on the ears.  It meant I could have a bit of a feel round her mouth too and see if I could feel any teeth coming through (not yet!).  She spent a good few minutes chewing, sucking and biting on it and it stopped her from crying, whilst seeming to provide some relief. 

It was also good to know I was giving her gums a bit of a clean too, and although our daughter isn't sicky at all, if you have a baby that is this would be a nice way to clean out their mouth. 

We've used it a few times now and each time she spends a while biting down on it while I rub her gums.  It washes and dries well and continues to be soft and cuddly, so I'm sure when she's old enough to hold and put things in the mouth this will be something she will use herself again and again.

The MAM Oral Care Rabbit comes in pink and blue, and you can get it from all the usual outlets including Amazon.  It retails for about £5.  Well worth it I think!

Do you have any good teething tips that provide relief?  I'd love to hear them.

Disclaimer:  I won this product in a competition on the MAM UK blog so I didn't pay for it, but MAM was unaware of this blog entry and all thoughts are my own.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

A lovely holiday, and a first for our daughter

We've been away for a while - to Center Parks at Sherwood Forest.  It was our first holiday as a family of four, and we had a great time.

We've been to Center Parcs many times; our son loves the activities, we all love the food and fresh air and the lodges are perfect for us.  We usually upgrade to an Executive Lodge to get the updated decor and towels and toiletries, and this time was no exception.

One thing I noticed when booking this time though, was the three bedroom lodges are very often the same price as those with two bedrooms.  So if you're searching online, try adding an extra person or two to get options with more bedrooms and compare this to the price of the smallest number of bedrooms you can get away with.  For us, the extra bedroom at no cost meant our two kids could each have their own room.  This meant I could feed our baby girl in the middle of the night without disturbing our son or my husband.

As our son starts school in September, we'll be going less and less.  The price increase during school holiday periods for Center Parcs is shocking, and although I'm sure we'll be back, it'll mean less frequent visits.

Although the weather was a bit hit and miss, we had a great time.  Our daughter loved swimming for the first time, and our son loved archery and jet skis in the pool!  I take away happy memories of our first holiday with the four of us.

Are you going away this year?  I'd love to hear where to - we're always looking for new ideas but somehow always end up at Center Parcs!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Off he goes!

We enjoyed a lovely bank holiday weekend, it was great to get some sun.  We spent a lot of time at the park with our son and daughter, and our son achieved an important milestone - he rode a bike on his own for the first time!

He had a Kokua Likeabike Jumper balance bike when he was just over two (Santa brought it for him at Christmas) and he's always loved it.  So we got him a second hand bike without stabilisers a few months ago because he was so fast on his balance bike and at four and a half was rapidly outgrowing it.  With it being second hand, we didn't mind if it got a bit mashed as and when he falls off!

At the weekend he showed an interest in it, so on he got, we explained how it worked and off he went first time, after we gave him a push to get him started!  Somehow it felt like a bigger moment than when he first started walking... seeing our little guy cycling and laughing at his success round the park.

He got a bit of a grazed knee and a few bruises, but he laughed his way through it and is now getting really confident on it.  I'm so proud of him :-)

So all in, a great weekend.  Did you or your family achieve any successes over the weekend?  I'd love to hear about them.
This is my entry into the Tots100/Curious George competition.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Review of Cheeky Shoes

I don't know about you, but Santa usually brings me slippers for Christmas.  Except last year, when he brought me a Kindle instead.  So I've been on the lookout for a pair of indoor shoes for a while now.

I was introduced to Cheeky Shoes through a competition, and loved the website and look of the shoes.  As I tend to wear my slippers in the garden and we have hard floors, Cheeky Shoes looked ideal as a compromise to keep my toes warm, look great and be reasonably hard wearing but comfortable!

Cheeky Shoes was started by two guys who had the business idea at university and wanted to build a business designing and selling comfortable and 'cheeky' shoes to women. 

So, I placed my order on a Friday night (a pair of cerise pink Cheeky Shoes) and had a Paypal receipt instantly.  I didn't immediately get an order confirmation email but didn't think anything of it.  By the way, I found the website and ordering process really easy, even on my Kindle.

By Tuesday morning the following week I was starting to wonder if my order had been received, and then at about 3pm I had an order receipt email and order processed email within minutes of each other.

The shoes arrived six days after my order (ok this is only a three working day gap) and fitted through the post box as they say on the website so it didn't matter that I wasn't in.  Hooray!

Here the plastic packet they came in:

And here's what was in the packet:

They shoes are really comfortable, and the colour is very vibrant.  The sizes are true to form, and my usual size six fits perfectly so no need to take advantage of the free return policy.  The soles of the shoe are firm but flexible, and the top is a neoprene/lycra mix that stretches aroundy your feet.  The packet states they're 'made in China, but not in a sweatshop', which makes me feel better.

I've worn the shoes all this morning and they're very comfy and perfect for this lovely weather, and would be great indoors in winter too.  I can imagine they would be fab on holiday, especially on the beach!

Despite taking a while to arrive (I guess I live in an Amazon world where everything is very quick), I still love the website and the back story to the brand. 

I'll be back to buy another pair soon!

Disclaimer: Shoes were purchased as a consumer and Cheeky Shoes were unaware of this blog post at the time of writing.

The usual bit about me

To start this blog and while I get to grips with the lovely, here's the usual bit about me and why I'm starting this online journey.

Me: the most important thing you should know is that I'm me.  I'm 35, live in the Midlands UK, I work full time in IT and tutor very part time. You can:

Add three (but I'm still me): I'm Mum to two wonderful kids (a four and a half year old son and a daughter who's two months old), and wife to my lovely husband of two years. 

I'm currently on maternity leave until early in 2014.  I was inspired by recently joining Twitter (late to the game or what?) and discovering the world of blogs, so I thought I'd join the party.

So this blog will hopefully document our journey as a family, my quest to maintain myself, save money, share parenting and me time ideas, favourite things, recipes and a competition or two.

I'd love to hear your comments.  Please share!