Potty training is going to be January’s theme. But crikey, it’s a huge theme to even think about tackling. It’s one we’re in the middle of at the moment, and (touch wood) is going really well. It’s also one a lot of my friends are doing. There’s so many questions.. how do you know your little one is ready? What do you need? What do you do? How many changes of clothes do you need? Training pants or cold turkey? What’s the right way to do it? What should you avoid? What about when you’re out and about?
That was probably half of the questions in my head when we first started, and as we’re progressing there truly is no right or wrong way, but you’ll get a ton of recommendations along the way and something will work (when your little one is ready, of course). Over at the Mum Friendly Facebook Group we’ve been chatting about it and there’s several different opinions (as there should be!) which are great for ideas.
Realistically with the time I’ve got at the moment I suspect this theme will run into February. We’ve some fabulous giveaways along the way which I’ll get online as soon as I can (hopefully today or tomorrow for the first ones) – everything featured is something I’ve already bought, and I’m sharing things I’ve liked which the companies have been very kind to donate.
Published in December 2011, ‘Toddlers: An Instruction manual – A guide to surviving the years one to four (written by parents, for parents)’ is one of those books you really need to know about. It’s available in paperback and Kindle formats, and even better, part of the royalties are donated to Home-Start, one of the UK’s leading family support charities.
The book explores why toddlers behave the way they do (and speaking as a mum of an almost 2.5 year old, anything that can shed any light is a good good thing!), and putting it out there as an instruction manual. Having quickly skim read some of the sections I know it’s something I’m going to be using a lot these next few years…!
It’s nice to know you’re not alone when you wonder what on earth is going on in your toddler’s head, the book brings together tried and tested practical, down to earth tips from parents who’ve survived the toddler years and want to help you do the same. From help getting your child to sleep through the night, listening when you say no and getting them to stop reacting with horror when they see something they don’t want to eat, this book WILL help! The book celebrates the qualities we love about toddlers and suggests ways to navigate their less appealing aspects. It’s never going to stop them tormenting us, but can help us get through with your sanity (just about) intact!
Joanne Mallon has created a fantastic book – she’s a freelance parenting journalist, a life and career coach, and a parent of two.
Home-Start supports almost 73,000 vulnerable children across the UK. Last year, their 16,000 volunteers gave a million hours of support to families. Home-Start help them cope with post-natal illness, isolation, bereavement, disability, domestic violence and much more.
Do I need to tell you more? Here’s some words from the press release
* written with warmth, understanding and love – no preaching or judgemental comments;
* invaluable advice from many parents on what they wish someone told them about toddlers;
* practical guidance from experts, empowering the parent to make their own choices confidently;
* up-to-date information on toddlers using technology, including advice on iPads and the under 5’s;
* tried and tested tips for tackling common toddler issues including tantrums, fussy eating, potty training and sleep problems;
* easily accessible information broken down into bite sized chunks;
* reminds parents that despite the tantrums, tears and toilet training, there is much to love about the precious toddler years.
In addition to this, I’ve contributed two end of chapter sections to the book, so am proud to be featured in here – it’s a great book and will be a great resource for parents now and in the future.
We did a flying visit to Guildford just after Christmas – and our first trip out while doing the magical world of toilet training. So you’d think it’d be easy to be out and about and find what you need – but actually, it wasn’t.
Mothercare is still the best place for changing nappies and so on, but when you need a toilet which is big enough for a buggy, as well as you, you get a bit stuck. There’s disabled toilets, but as there were seperate changing facilities, it felt a bit wrong to use them (would you? Comment below, please!)
Eventually, the best place we found for enjoying a coffee and sandwich, as well as good sized toilet facilities was at Pret A Manger – plus they do kid-sized sandwiches too – and they’re half price.
With not being as familiar with the place as we are locally, it was a bit of a struggle – someone suggested Debenhams, but we couldn’t actually find it! (as we know their cafe’s are fab). If anyone has any good Guildford recommendations that aren’t above, do let us know!
If you do have a baby and are there, we can recommend the changing facilities at the Westfield shopping centre – aka The Friary (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a Westfield when we last went there!) – top floor and they’re lovely.
I went a bit Christmas crazy. I’d always set it in my head I’d do two Boudoir Privé subscriptions, and then two Carmine ones (box is due to arrive next week, alas), then Glossybox went and spoilt it by letting me know I could get their Christmas box at a reduced price… so I went for it. Five beauty boxes in two months is probably overdoing it, but hey.
Add to that Boudoir Privé are now Joliebox, having merged with the french company, so there’s extra more goodies this month to celebrate this – and they didn’t disappoint. My first Glossybox arrived this morning and I was really happy again with what I received.
Will I keep up these subscriptions? Probably not, I now have lots of lovely new makeup to keep me going for a long time – it was a great treat and something I might dip in and out of. I like how with Glossybox you can still order a box once it’s been released, whereas with Joliebox you only have the one chance. Carmine also seem to follow the same route as Glossybox which is nice.
So, what did I get? My Joliebox had some lovely things in it – some OPI Gold Shatter Nail Lacquer (which I’m currently wearing on its own and amazingly it hasn’t chipped yet!), Mitchell and Peach Shower Wash (not tried yet, but it smells good – it smells of flowery gardens), a New CID Cosmetics i-gloss (hurrah! A lipgloss with the mirror and light on it, I like this brand!), Jane Iredale 24-Karat Gold Dust (once I’d sussed it out, it’s a nice shimmer powder – which you can also put in your hair!), Yon-Ka Vital Defens – a nice cream (which helps preserve youthfulness, which quite frankly I do like). There were also bonuses – some Kusmi Detox Tea (had I gone to my work Christmas Do, this would be needed this morning, but oh, it smells so good) and a Joliebox concealer brush (which I can’t wait to try out).
Glossybox had some lovely things too – a Blink + Go Hi-Definition Mascara (full sized
too which is good as I needed a new one), Cargo Cosmetics – Classic Lip Gloss (I’ve had
so many lip glosses now I might save this one or give it away – this is a good colour though, more me, darker shade ‘morocco’), Deborah Lippmann Razzle Dazzle Mini Nail Varnish and Stripped to Go sachet (oh this is a loooovely colour, a really deep deep red, and I love the idea of a polish remover in a mitt, with one mitt doing all ten fingers – though I bet it’s quite costly), Jurlique Age Defying Ultra Firm and Lift Cream (a 5ml sample which I’ll be trying today, which apparently helps regenerate new skin cells), and finally a Rituals Foaming Shower Gel (full size too, Organic Rice Milk and Cherry Blossom).
I’ve really enjoyed receiving boxes of things I wouldn’t normally buy, or wouldn’t know where to start looking. It’s felt like a nice pamper without having to do too much. As I’m a working mum I spend a lot more time on my daughter than myself, so this was a nice treat, even if it was quite pricey. I love that Joliebox included tea in their box (and it smells amazing) – although they’re at crazy prices on their site, so I’m sticking with Teapigs… for now.
We bought a Delia’s ready-measured ingredients cake mixture from Waitrose last week, what with it being reduced to £5 in store. These opinions are my own, and I wasn’t paid vast sums of money to post this, nor given any freebies.
It felt a bit like we were cheating, buying it so late – but time was running out and I’d read it was fine to prepare your cake a week before the big event – so here we are. Actually, I felt like a complete fraud, but H loved helping to mix everything together, so it was extremely handy for that – and definitely a three-person job. First off, when Delia says to check the manual on your oven if it’s fan-assisted, she means it. If you then start to check once the cake is in the oven, only to find out an hour later you’ve put it on ‘defrost’, you’ve only yourself to blame (thanks, husband!). I remain guilt-free.
So, we laid out our sachets of stuff on the table, our butter we’d bought the previous day still not quite ‘really soft’ like Delia said, but we figured we’d work with it.
H sifted in the flour and spices, while I added butter, salt and eggs – and we stirred. And stirred. Oh, and a little more.
In the end, husband helped us out with the electric whisk as it was pretty tough, and our collective arms were a bit tired, which did the trick and the gloopy butter-speckled mixture resembled more of a cakey kind of thing.
After that we stirred in the pre-soaked fruit “ooooh raisins!” said H, and added the treacle. It was only then we couldn’t find our string to tie it all up in the oven, so I had to run to the shops leaving husband and H grating some orange and lemon (while listening to The Wiggles, good cooking music).
That was it. Crikey, that wasn’t too bad, and H did quite a lot to help too (we did the important bits).
So in the oven it went, the first hour was a write-off (see previous mention about checking your oven, Delia is not wrong), but actually after three and a half hours ours was ready (well, four and a half in total, so maybe the defrost setting does something). It took forever to cool, in fact, until this morning. We have some marzipan and some icing ready to go, I just need to get some jam to seal it (I’m guessing blueberry won’t do). We’ll have enough left over to make some icing snowmen to stick on top… stay tuned for a final photo…
In summary, while I think it was extremely lazy of us to take this route, getting things prepared beforehand wouldn’t have happened, so it was nice to have everything there and ready, although at a £10 regular price it’s a bit much for what you get – especially when you can end up spending another £10 or so to get the extras to go with it (brandy bumps that up a bit). I’d do it again if I was short on time, but would love to be a bit better organised and have time to be able to do it a bit more ‘properly’ in future – it’s definitely a good place to start if you’ve never made it yourself before (raises hand) – and definitely worth getting while it’s down to £5 – wonder if there’ll be further reductions next week? There were quite a few in-store….
There’s sales everywhere – and competitions everywhere. Euromillions claim they’ll create a few more millionaires before Christmas, and it’s all well and good, but I never win competitions, so I’m not holding out much hope.
So instead I thought I’d do a piece on places I spot bargains, that kind of thing.
There’s a few blogs I follow – and have recently found Playpennies which is a brilliant site – somewhere with so many posts about things I never realised I needed until I read them! Need a hooded towel for your little one? Why pay more when you can get decent character ones from Play.com? See, I’d never have thought of looking there and would have forked out twice as much. Add it to your rss reader/subscriber thing, you wont regret it – they’ve done all the hard work to make it easier for you.
When I hurt my back earlier this year I had many days lying in bed recouperating – and with that discovered Lidl Photos. Some people might get a bit sniffy about Lidl, but actually compared to some Photobox or Snapfish photos I’ve had printed, the Lidl ones have been by far the superior quality. There’s been a deal to get a free photo book on there for a few months now, though sadly not Mac compatible (so that counts me out).
Vistaprint have been offering bazillions of free things as I’d ordered up some business cards from there, with just shipping costs on top (at £3ish). I got 10 photo Christmas Cards from them at no cost – considering when I did them in H’s first year they cost £25 with shipping on top via another high profile photo company, I’ve saved a packet. I’ve had a few things where hidden charges creep in, so be aware.
The Book People keep coming to my husband’s work and I keep making him buy things for H, such is their fabulously wide selection of books – then they really taunt me by turning up at a local fair – we love The Book People, H’s current Meg and Mog obsession (and with it a baby octopus one) stems from the six titles in a bag they’re currently doing.
Finally, if you’re like me and horribly disorganised, then you’ll not have a Christmas Cake sorted yet. Fear not, as Delia’s make your own at Waitrose has been reduced to just £5 in-store – although on seeing the ingredients in sachets, I do kind of wonder if I could have done it myself? Naaah, far too lazy. There’ll be a feature on the making of the cake to follow… once we’ve bought the extra bits we need. I think we’ll probably skip the icing and just have fruit cake…
Poundland has been great with our Christmas preparations, it seemed to be the only place which did glitter (shame on you WHSmiths!), and had stick on snowflakes for the windows which are pretty cool. I also got a large Christmas Stocking for H to put under the tree (it had a plastic window on the front which I picked off), which we may well fill up with fruit next Saturday… worth checking anyway, if you haven’t already!
We’re regular visitors to the wonderful Painshill Park in Cobham, and for the first time yesterday we visited to take H to see Father Christmas.
We got tickets for 4pm (the earliest you can go on a weekday), just as the sun was setting and the fairy lights were coming on – the park looked beautiful, and it’s definitely something worth experiencing at that time of day if the weather is good.
You enter the park the usual way, and take the disabled/step free route towards The Grotto which is signposted with random Santas along the way. A 20 minute walk when your little one is in a buggy is probably more like a 25-30 one when your toddler wants to walk – so leave plenty of time!
You get to a large tent next to the big lake, and wait your turn – you’re checked in with a number and an age appropriate card for the present, and there’s refreshments available (mulled wine!) – though these are at an extra cost.
We waited for a very short time (we were number 6), and took a short walk from the tent into the grotto, where Santa was waiting on his sleigh, shook H’s hand and asked all the right questions. H told him she wanted “a baby octopus” and looked a bit disappointed when she realised her present wasn’t one..
Actually, the only criticism I’d say was the present H got was really young for her – but she was happy with it, and actually, the Santa was excellent, so that far outweighs anything else.
The setting of The Grotto for Santa was fabulous – it looks gorgeous inside and isn’t too cold (it was a chilly night), though worth bearing in mind you can’t take buggies in there, as there’s five or six steps as you leave the grotto to get back onto the island – there is buggy storage outside the main tent though.
It was a lovely smoothly run experience (thank you elves!), also helped by H being given a present which had an activity book in it which she sat and coloured in while we waited. I would defintely come back next year, plus heading back to the car park (now with toddler in buggy as she wanted to open her present) in the dark with all the lights was lovely.
I’ve gone on about this promotion so many times to people I’m making myself sick of it – but it’s a brilliant promotion, and one which if you time it right you can get amazing benefits from.
Schweppes Abbey Well bottled water comes with a cap which will get you a free swim. Not all pools are doing this, so you need to check their website. This promotion has been running for almost three years now, and I’m hoping is going to continue after January 2012 (as it has done for the last two years…) all you do is check your pool, check the times the pool will accept the swim bottle cap for (my local posh gym will only do from 12-2 on most days, whereas the regular pools are all day), turn up with your swimming things, swim.
Today I went to the Spirit Health Club at the Holiday Inn in Sutton, and with my free swim bottle cap I got my swim (very good for my back), a sit in the spa at the side of the pool (those water jets went right into my back, lovely!), a steam room session, oh and a sauna too. Oh, and if you’ve not brought a towel with you, it’s one of those nice gyms that will provide you with one – if you’re close to this gym, don’t forget to get a token for the lockers before you go in (I did).
Even better, these bottles are often on promotion – supermarkets will do two for £1. So strictly speaking it’s not a free swim, as you’ve had to buy a bottle of water, but heck, for the extra pampering I got today I’ll take it, thanks.
Bushy Park is somewhere I’ve been visiting since I was little – although I’m not from London, that side of my family lived in the area, so it’s somewhere I’m familiar with.
Recently a new cafe and fenced in area has opened, the Pheasantry Cafe, which also has toilets (outdoor, they’re not in the dining area) a community room and education centre.
The nicest bit about this area is how fenced off it is from the rest of the park – it’s somewhere your toddler can wander around (supervised of course!) and not go too far – there were even parakeets in the trees. There are ponds (with ducks and swans), worth mentioning, though this wasn’t a problem for us.
The cafe itself had plenty of space for buggies, approximately 5-6 highchairs, and was reasonably priced too. Definitely one we’ll keep going back to anyway.
To get to the area, if you’re coming from Hampton Court, drive towards Teddington, and you’ll see signs on your left. We’ve always headed to the right where the play area is, so it was nice to go somewhere different.
Okay, so after getting my first Boudoir Privé box last weekend, I went a bit crazy and had a look around at other boxes out there – Carmine offer a discount for the first box, I knew I’d get the November one (only the second one they’ve done) which looked kind of interesting, so I went for it – and it arrived this morning.
Inside there’s some good samples, and definitely things I’d think about using.
• Lulu’s Time Bomb – Flashback Night Cream. Yep – Lulu – this is described as a ‘extremely powerful anti-ageing time machine’ – and while my love of Dr Who kind of went when Christopher Eccleston left, I’m willing to give this a go.
• New CID – iPout Lipstick – okay, another lipstick. H looked in horror when I said I had one, while I looked on in amazement at the really simple idea of building in a mirror – and get this – a light too, for when you apply it. Brilliant!! • Dainty Doll – Eyeliner Pencil. Oh yes, it’s Nicola Roberts of Girls Aloud’s makeup range which made me feel a bit young, but actually, it applies really nicely, and I can see myself using it a fair bit – in a nice browny shade too.
• Neom Organics – Real Luxury Body Lotion – apparently an equivalent to fine chocolates and champagne, my very dry skin liked it, although I think I probably need some more… packed with the smells of lavender, jasmine, basil and more – smells gooood.
• Cosmetics A La Carte – Brow Ink. Okay, this one is the one I’m liking the look of the most – a semi-permanent ink where you can draw in eyebrows and not accidentally wipe them off. I’ll let you in to a secret – when I was about thirteen my sister threw a swingball bat at my head (I kept winning), and it split a section of skin open on my eyebrow – it’s never been the same, and always looked odd on photos. This could give me proper eyebrows again! So I’ll definitely be using it. It can also be used as a liner – I would definitely buy this.
Anyway, without trying to compare the two boxes too much, I’d say right now Carmine appears to be more my kind of thing, I’m definitely going to get another box of each to see what’s on offer for December (some perfume please, or a good concealer!) – now if only someone would start doing a Mummy Box…