Tuesday, 31 May 2011

When Sickness Strikes

I have to say that there is NOTHING, absolutely nothing worse than being poorly and still having to look after children. Yet another thing you cant appreciate until you have kids. I have spent a large chunk of the weekend in bed feeling dizzy, tired and a bit odd and now I have a coldy thing. The only remedy which appears to work is a large glass of cola. Of course, it's something that I have most probably caught off the children who seem to be able to wake up at 5:30 and run around till 7:30pm without so much as a moments rest.

So, having children requires superhuman strength and power. Why did no-one tell me this? I guess if this gem was passed on, no-one would have kids. The thing with illness is that all potential help also vanishes as people don't want to expose themselves to potential germs. Its all a bit of a nightmare. Suggestions gratefully received, on a postcard, you might not want to come near...

Friday, 27 May 2011

Inspiration from Yeo Valley Organic Gardens

Yesterday I had a really great treat, a whole day out without children to Yeo Valley. This time I got to see the Organic Gardens which are rather fabulous and taste test a load of yogurts and ice-creams. They are all so scrummy it's very hard to decide which is nicest.  I think I shall go out and buy some of the new coconut yogurt as it is so unusual, I cant decide whether I love it or hate it!

Did you know that you can actually visit the Organic Gardens and enjoy a nice lunch or tea and cake? It's well worth a visit and you can find more on their website. I found it inspirational, not only in terms of ideas for good food but also for garden projects. Next year I shall be planting Alium bulbs through my lavender.

As at the moment I'm finding it hard to find the right words to describe stuff, let alone articulate myself properly, I shall leave you with some pictures, enjoy, and do put it on your places to visit.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Fifi's new bed

This time last week Fifi's new bed arrived. After looking around for ages I decided upon this one from Marks and Spencer and I must say I have been exceptionally pleased with it. I think its good value for money and it's really well made.  And no, I haven't been paid to say that!

Bed arrival day was exciting. I was a little bit worried that we might have trouble on our hands. Fifi has never slept well and has always been up at the crack of dawn, I wondered if she would stay up playing with toys all night. This has not happened at all. Instead we have a little girl who is sleeping better than she has done before. Unfortunately she still wakes up at the crack of dawn and like her brother refuses to set foot outside her bed until we have come into the room to get her.

The thing I like most though is the fabulous girliness that Fifi's bedroom brims with. It really is a little sanctuary of pink and white. I love it. I wish it was my bedroom. There really is something special about having a little girl, it enables you to really indulge your girly side. I hope she carries on liking pink, ponies and dollies...

I think I can regard this as an overall a success, don't you?

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Think yourself lucky child!

I've been reading this fabulous book about corsets. OK, well it's probably not everybodies cup of tea, but as someone who is really quite passionate about historic costume and vintage fashion I cant help but spend my free time reading every scrap of information I can about such things.

I've recently become interested in historic underwear as I have been looking at the collection at work. I also managed to get a grant to pay for a replica of one of our dresses. The grant also enabled us to have the entire appropriate set of under garments made. Which lead to a little bit of research for me. Believe me, you would not have wanted to get dressed in the early Victorian period, what with the split drawers, chemise corset and up to 5 different petticoats etc etc etc you would have been weighed down just with your undercrackers. That's before you put on your heavy dress, just for going downstairs to take tea.

The corset is a very interesting garment as all sorts of myths have come about surrounding it, some true, some pure fantasy. I like the story of the bride who got married and then collapsed and died shortly afterwards apparently as a result of suffocation. Her corset was done up too tightly. Apparently the mother then ran off with her widow and married him. One suspects foul play...

The first evidence of corsets are metal ones found in museum collections across Europe in the Fifteenth Century. It is now thought that these odd contraptions may have been made and worn for medical reasons. Then from about the Sixteenth Century you start getting variations on what we imagine corsets to look like. The variations in the lacing helping with dating. Some of them were designed to make the waist a perfectly small size, just 24 inches around the waist. Medical reports at the time suggest autopsy's of women with deformed overlapping ribs and so on.

By the time you get to the late Victorian/ Edwardian period corsets first get longer and then slowly, partly as a result of the need to work on the land during the war they stop being worn altogether and women's greater independence. This issue is a whole essay in itself and is bound up with the social- political circumstances at the time. Interestingly, during the Edwardian period you start to get lots of slightly potty fashions, the hobble skirt springs to mind. Corsets were nearly a thing of the past, that is, apart from the old ladies who were a bit set in their ways. Corsetry did carry on, with body shaping undergarments in the fifties and sixties and then you get to the present day...

One thing that really stands out though is that it seems that by the Seventeenth century even children wore corsets, starting as young as two. Perhaps even more shocking, little boys up to the age of six were made to wear stays (when they were breeched).  So next time your children are moaning about their clothes it might be worth pointing out that it could be so much worse....

This is a very brief summary of a few points which interested me, I'ts a topic which I intend to write a lot more on and lecture about. However, I'm already pointing out to the kids how lucky they are to be wearing comfy clothes, sometimes it's worth sitting back and remembering how far fashion has come!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Review: Brolly Sheets

Fifi has just got her first bed and as luck would have it she was given a Brolly Sheet to test out on it! Brolly Sheets are one of those ideas that you wish you had thought of yourself. Basically they are a waterproof absorbent sheet with a cotton top which means that you can pop one over the fitted sheet. I love this idea as I am forever having to strip Boys bed because of night-time accidents.

Brolly sheets were invented in New Zealand by Diane who was fed up with changing bedding in the middle of the night when her children had accidents in the night.  She couldn’t find anything on the market that would offer a quick solution, so she created it herself. They have just launched here in the UK.

I asked for a pink one for Fifi and I have to admit, it was a slightly brighter pink than I anticipated. It washed up really well and so far has stayed pretty soft and comfortable, despite line drying.  I was a bit worried that there would be a ridge in her bed which might be tempting for her to fiddle with and get tangled in.So far, so good. I don't think she has really noticed. 

One thing I have noticed, my anticipated washing amounts have dramatically reduced as now I only have to was one sheet when we have a nappy leak. I'm getting one for Boy next, not only is this better for the environment in reducing the amount of washing I'm doing its got to be cheaper overall. It's one of the best twenty five quids you'll spend on kid stuff.

These are a great invention, I would think that they are also great for any elderly or infirm relatives. I can see them rapidly becoming a toddler essential. Find out more at their website.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Review: Lego City Police Boat

Boy is obsessed with Star Wars Lego and Duplo. His sister loves Duplo and Duplo alone, she can spend hours playing with it. We have been slowly making our way through the Star Wars Lego Range in order to bribe him, get him to be a good boy. So it was brilliant when Lego sent him the Lego City Police Boat. It might not be Star Wars but it's Lego and that's good enough for him.

The Lego City range is brilliant, you can literally build your own city through a series of purchases at special moments. It is of course, also totally compatible with Lego and Duplo, so imagination can literally run riot. One of the best things about the Lego city Police boat is the size of it, at about 30 cm long you have a nice big sturdy boat which can be used in lots of different scenarios and which has space for plenty of Lego Mini-figures.

The hull of the boat itself is one piece, which means it's water-tight. I wouldn't advocate using it in the bath as such but you can float it in the sink or padding pool without a child in situ.The top half of the boat is all built from traditional Lego, and is full of nifty features like a cargo hold, a removable cabin and so on. It's fun to build, with the added bonus that since you don't have to build the hull it comes together really quickly.

In terms of how easy it is the build the boat we found that it was a great project for the husband and boy to work on work on together. This is something that I think is very important and can be a key factor in helping me decide about whether or not to purchase a toy.

All in all though, this is a Lego set that can't really be faulted, especially at an RRP of £29.99, as you get a lot for your money.

Saturday Afternoon

As Duplo Ambassadors we get sent lots of lovely Duplo, this afternoon I am getting to build the Duplo Police Station with the kids. That's if we can stop playing with the vehicles...

Review: Here Comes the Poo Bus by Andy Stanton

Fifi and Boy were very kindly sent a copy of Here Comes the Poo Bus by Andy Stanton. It's one of the most bizarre little poems you will ever read to your kids. Essentially the tale of Uncle Toad who collects insects for a special trip to the seaside on board his bus made of poo. Little do they know this is just a ruse and when they reach the seaside Uncle Toad has a feast.

You'll either love this book or hate it, I loved it, Fifi loved it from the first time we read it. However, we do both like a bit of grisly gruesomeness! The boy and the hubby were slightly traumatised and had to have a long discussion about the images of injured and decapitated insects. That said, they did read it every night for a week in a row. I think this book is appealing because the imagery and illustrations are frankly, absolutely disgusting, it's truly horrid and disturbing and that's what gives the the book an edge on some of the 'safer' toddler reads. I thought it was very clever. My one criticism is that the poem didn't scan brilliantly in places, but that's me being finickety.

All in all, I give it 8/10 the hubby would give it 5/10. As I say, you'll either love it or hate it. If you want to find a bit more check out the Puffin Books website.

Format : Hardback
ISBN : 9780141333991
Size : 260 x 215mm
Pages : 32
Published : 05 May 2011
Publisher : Puffin

Review: Lego Minfigures Series 4

We were sent a selection of minifigures. The hubby jealously eyeballed the kids as they opened them in a frenzy. Mini figures are a new thing to us, having spent much of the last year in a haze of building Lego Star Wars or Duplo. It's great to have a few more characters to play with and to be honest the excitement of not knowing what you might get seems to create such a level of joy. I think they are a sort of modern day equivalent to those packets of stickers you used to buy in the newsagents when you were a child. Except these are about a million times better as you can use them and play with them forever!
Lego are now onto series 4 of their minifigures and there are a load of fab little people in this set including a Hazmat guy (quite topical if you want to create Japanese nuclear disasters), a Werewolf, a Kimono Girl and an Artist. The hubby wants the Werewolf more than anything else in the world at the moment. The kids have really enjoyed playing with the Skater Girl. These are a great idea and perfect for pocket money or a couple would make a fab kids birthday party gift. I'm sold on these. I'll let you into a little secret too, apparently there is an app you can get on your phone which allows you to find out what is inside the packets. If you see a dad looking furtive and going through all the minifigures when you are in John Lewis next, you'll know what he is up to...

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Teaching the boy to ride a bike

The boy got a proper bike for Christmas, its a Ben 10 branded bike and just the perfect thing for little lads to zoom about on. Initially he didn't even notice the thing on Christmas morning and walked straight past it. I think this should have been a sign. However, I have been persevering and trying to encourage cycling in my usual half-hearted manner, which means I give up and let him use the scooter instead.

What's that then?
Yesterday in a moment of being in control I decided to ignore the tantrum and threaten to leave the bike outside for another child to have and make him walk, that was unless he used it. I was personally amazed at my attitude and fortitude for actually going along with it. I am guilty of just giving in at the first sign of trouble as I am a practitioner of 'easy life parenting'. Yes, I realise this is something which ultimately backfires, but why worry about the future? Anyhow, the tantrum lasted at least 5 minutes I bet the neighbours (especially the weird ones opposite) were loving my open display of parenting. The screams were loud, I was half way up the street and the Boy was lying on the pavement outside our house.

Then a miracle happened. He got on his bike and rode after me, then he rode the bike down the road to the postbox and back. Today he cycled to school and then went for an additional bike ride later on. It seems the cycling bug has finally caught on. The only problem now is that it's much harder to drag a toddler bike back from school than a mini-micro scooter. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea after all....

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Safety Information for Kids; Scalds

I think it's so important to have as much information as you can get about kids safety, so when the clinical lead of the South West Children's Burns Centre at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol (North Bristol NHS Trust) contacted me with this information about a campaign they are running I thought it was more than worth telling you all about it. Do take a few minutes to have a look at the video and check out the information about the campaign here www.nbt.nhs.uk/hotdrinksharm

Do you ever wonder why you had them?

The other day the children pushed me to the limit. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have developed patience levels which would rival any saint. In fact, I'm expecting sainthood upon my demise. However, when pushed to the limit I found myself saying (very quietly) that I think the children may have ruined my life. Of course, this was just in the heat of the moment. I mean, no-one really deserves to be kicked and screamed at by two toddlers whilst trying to talk on the telephone which has rung just at the moment when I was about to go out the door to buy nappies. At that moment I saw myself as I could have been, running my own museum enjoying cultural activities, stress free evenings out and money to buy what I wanted.

So recently I have begun to wonder about whatever possessed me to have them. They are wanted and were miracle babies, I was so desperate to have the Boy I thought I might just wither and die if I couldn't get a child. But where did this urge come from? Very few of my other friends had kids at the time. We had been married for a while, it seemed time. Was it subconscious cultural conformity? I cant pin point it.

Yes in many ways they have enriched my life, but in many ways they have also spoilt what could have been. Its where I am at the moment and that's fine, I couldn't be without them now. But  every time you are woken up at 5:30 AM, every time you are screamed at, your stuff is wrecked, everytime you try to go shopping and cant look at a single thing and you are not even allowed to watch what you want on the television,  you can't help but wonder...

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Just leave it on the plate...

Increasing girth is a thing of worry, therefore I have enacted a regime of 6 AM runs which unfortunately seems to be having little impact. Yes, the problem is one of chocolate and biscuit snacking. That is the result of general frustration with life, the mundane drudgery of it all. As I sit here and type I know the time so I can predict exactly who will walk past my window, who will drive off and what will come on the television. Somehow a piece of Diary Milk makes all that better.

I also blame the children. It's entirely their fault. They drive me mad forcing me to sneak off into the kitchen for chocolate and sweets and even worse they leave food. Lots of food. And. I cant bear to think of it going to waste. My childhood was full of images of starving Ethiopian children, the production of food leads to global warming and the destruction of our planet. I am filled with guilt about food waste.I am filled with guilt about being fat.

I suppose it might be possible to leave it there, just leave it onto the plate to be scraped into the bin. I suppose this is theoretically possible. I know for sure it is impossible to dish up less stuff as the kids seem to need to have food left over. I dish up less, they just ask for more. The only solution is for me to eat after them, not good for their social skills though. So whats it to be? Life presents strange quandaries at times. Another case of over analysing the situation...

Thursday, 5 May 2011

You can even get a jet skiing baby doll!

I have to admit I got a press release about this particular doll and it did make me laugh. Yes, I know I'm a misery but I think somewhere along the way the purpose and point of toys seems to have got a little, well, off the point of them. You see, you can now get dolls doing things that I would never even have the opportunity to do myself, but not in a 'fantasy' way. Dolls seem to do the real life activities of the rich, or the extreme sports fanatics and they dress as if they are standing on Californian street corners.

Since when did dolly role playing become like this? Quite so 'adult'. In the late 1970's and early 1980's I remember Sindy's horse and Range Rover being the ultimate in luxury outlandish activities for dolls. Fancy owning a Range Rover (like Diana)! But at least you could drive it about the living room. How does one go about getting their doll to jet ski? I can only presume you either need a massive bath, or your own swimming pool or that you will subject yourself to endless hours filling the paddling pool...

Anyone else seen any toys which encourage extremely expensive sports or similar?

Anyway, if you want one the set includes a my little BABY born® Doll and new battery operated pink jet-ski.  Priced at around £29.99, my little BABY born® Doll with Jetski is suitable for girls aged three plus and is available at all good retailers nationwide

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Then and Now



I was looking through some of my pictures, look how they grow. It has gone very quickly....

Singing at Bedtime

Perhaps a song about fairies that push dollys in toy pushchairs?
Both children have taken to singing recently. They tend to be made up songs around the tune of Twinkle Twinkle or Humpty Dumpty. I have to admit that one of the most rewarding bits of parenting for me at the moment is hearing their little voices happily singing away without a care in the world. I have a feeling that these songs capture moments of their days and thoughts which they would never reveal to me.

At the moment I'm really tempted to sit outside Fifi's door with a portable sound recorder and capture some of the singing and chattering, it really is lovely. I wonder though, if this is too much of a personal intrusion. Would she appreciate these recordings when she is older or would she think I was mad/ intruding upon her innocent privacy?

For the moment I will just sit and enjoy the moment, there's not enough of that sometimes and too much video recording and photography...


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