Our Bathtime Buddies scavenger hunt

A few weeks ago we were set a brilliant new challenge as members of the Bathtime Fun Squad – to create a scavenger hunt with the Bathtime Buddies range. This challenge was right up our street, as Willow is forever asking me to hide things around the house so she can play a game trying to find them. She will often then tell me to close my eyes so she can then hide them for me – only she seems to always put them back in exactly the same place! It’s a fun game anyway, although I do think she believes I’m the worst scavenger in the world – ‘unable’ to spot the treasures even when they are right in front of me ūüėČ

Our challenge was to encourage our little lady to find the following: –

Something fluffy
Something shiny
Something that grows
Something colourful
Something that flows

I wanted to do this in the garden as I had some great ideas for hiding places, however the summer never did seem to want to start! Whenever Willow was at home with me it was either raining or she didn’t want to play. With the sun making a brief appearance on a day when we had no plans at all, I managed to finally set up the hunt last week.

I hid the first Bathtime Buddies Squirting Duck on the washing line, and told her to look for something fluffy. This was a little hard because our washing is never particularly fluffy, but I helped her along by reminding her that towels can be quite soft – then she spotted it straight away tucked in the hood of her bath towel.

Next we went for something shiny, which was our rather unused BBQ. The purple duck was easy to spot peaking out from the black BBQ cover, and whilst she admired it I managed to snap this quick photo, which also shows the green duck hiding by something colourful!

For something that flows I hung the Wash Buddies duck from the garden tap – although I think the size and colour made it rather an easy spot and I didn’t have to give her any clues at all!

This gave us a good opportunity to talk about ‘things that flow’, and we had a nice little chat about where we might see water flowing – taps, streams, the sea! I also talked about how there are rubber ducks that came off a shipment and have been floating around for years and being used to charter the ocean’s movements, but I’m not sure she quite believed me! Still, it was nice to talk about and one day she might find out that her mummy doesn’t always make stuff up!

SomethingGrows2After quite a few more clues to find the green duck who was cleverly camouflaged, I told her that the last yellow duck was near something that grows. Willow’s reply was instantly ‘My carrots are growing’ and she headed straight for our mini vegetable area. She’s just too good at this game!

I loved being able to use the scavenger hunt as a way of talking about all the things around us, and it was also a great way to get Willow thinking about other things that were similar. It’s a lovely, satisfying feeling to realise that our children do listen and take onboard the information we give them, especially when they talk about things that were discussed weeks ago. The carrots were a prime example because they were planted months ago and we haven’t really paid them much attention with the weather being so bad. Still, she remembered they were there!

SomethingGrowsAt the end of our little game Willow also pointed out that she was growing, and asked me if she was tall enough to go on a roller-coaster now. That’s my girl! ūüėÄ

Thank you to the H&A team for sending us these lovely little bath toys to have fun with. I’m so glad we finally got to do this scavenger hunt out in the garden. It’s been brilliant fun, and I’m sure we’ll be repeating the game next time the sun comes out to play. Just goes to show that bath toys are just as much fun outside the bathroom!

Check out our short little video of Willow using her ducks to count with (she could do with a little more practice!)

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A cute little find – Millie Pink hair ties

Whilst shopping for some more wonderful Childs Farm bubble bath¬†I noticed a few things for sale that I’d not seen before. The items that really caught my eye were some cute little elasticated hair ties by Millie Pink.

Now I’d never heard of the brand before, nor seen their products ‘in the flesh’, but something about them just screamed to me ‘you’re gonna love these’.

The pack of five bands admittedly cost a little more than I’d normally want to spend, however the over-stretched, ugly-looking hair band around my wrist was a strong reminder that it was about time I invested in something new. My last few hairbands have all been bitterly disappointing, so I figured it could be another case of ‘you get what you pay for’.

The Millie Pink hair ties didn’t look like they would be irritating around the wrist, although it was a little unclear if these would be tiny, toddler-sized bands that would probably cut off the circulation on an adult. I took a punt and ordered some – for myself
and also for my little lady.

TiesToday is the first day I’ve properly had a chance to try the hair ties, and I absolutely love them!

To answer my own question, they do fit around my wrist perfectly and are not tight in the slightest. Even better, I think they do look kind of fun. I probably won’t wear loads of them all up my arm, but I can see myself with one or two.

Comfort is the biggest factor for me because these days I keep a hairband on me at all times. My hair is just so long that it needs tying back if I’m cooking, cleaning, drawing or just feeling a bit hot. It needs to be comfortable both on my wrist and in my hair, and I have to say that these tick both boxes.

I’m probably a bit old for Millie Pink’s target audience, but this is why I wanted to write a review – because a good product will appeal to more than just those it is marketed at. The choice of colours is really fun and cute, and I do like the way the different ones have been packaged together. Of course it’s always nice to have the option to choose individual ones, but perhaps that might be something for the future. For now, the packs of one colour (such as my dark blue ones) is great, although I would like to see an all black set.

Overall, a really great little product that I’m very happy to have discovered!

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One final Playpatrol mission – Ker-ching!

I must admit we’re feeling quite sad that our time as Bigjigs Playpatrol agents has finally come to an end. We’ve had great fun opening up our mystery parcels and testing out the contents, but have to admit that the best has definitely been saved ’til last.

Our final mission was to review the amazing Shop Till with Scanner Рretailing at £29.99.

till2Willow happens to really, really love playing shops, and I absolutely love joining in. Not only is it great fun, but it can also be played sitting down Рperfect for moments when you are just feeling utterly exhausted! We like to set up an array of wooden fruits, vegetables and some random toys on a bench, then one of us will turn up ready to buy everything.

The great thing about this till is that it enhances our game¬†– Willow has really got into the role-play element since we had this toy, and I’ve found she will now play for a lot longer than before. It’s almost like the till helps to spark her imagination both when playing the shopkeeper and the customer.

I love that this has a little scanner to one side, although I’m waiting for the day that things get dropped into the square hold that’s visible when you pick the scanner off its holder. It’s not a major problem, but it would mean turning the till upside down to shake things out – I envisage receipt paper unravelling and coins all over the floor!

till1The buttons have a really nice feel to them – you can properly feel that you’ve pushed them in which makes it feel like you are actually making a difference. We also love the swipe card reader – and we have a good laugh pretending that the card isn’t recognised. It’s just like real life! ūüėČ

I guess I would have preferred if the bank notes were wooden too, but in actual fact you’d only be able to get one or two in the till and you’d be full up, so it makes sense they are paper. I’m just not sure how long they’ll stay all nice and crisp that’s all. The little credit cards are really cute and we also like to pretend they are shop loyalty cards – so I will ‘stamp’ one each time she comes to the shop and then give her something free after a few visits. It gets me a genuinely excited smile every time. Just brilliant!

Overall, this toy is a real keeper. I can see it being played with for years and years, only to be passed down to any younger children in the future. It’s definitely one to stay! Great work Bigjigs! ūüėÄ

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A natural deodorant that works!

So I guess not everyone¬†will understand why I am so¬†excited to finally have found a deodorant that works, it’s just that finding one that is 100% natural¬†has made my search near impossible.

It all began roughly a year ago, when I noticed a tiny spot in my left armpit. It seemed innocent enough, but it began to itch like crazy and torment me with wild visions of trying to cut it out. You see, I get like that – when something about my body bugs me, I scratch, and itch, and pick, and dig, until it’s unrecognisable. I just can’t help it! I know, I know – it’s both gross and bad.

Anyway, this little blemish got worse and worse, and soon my whole armpit began to itch, burn, and sting whenever I put deodorant on it. I was stuck between what felt like a rock and a hard place. I didn’t want to not put deodorant on and smell bad, but at the same time it felt as though everything I put on my skin was making the problem worse.

I’m not going to lie – those few months were horrible. The skin where the first tiny spot had appeared, well it blistered and scabbed, then blistered some more. I developed this sort of scabby rash – little brown dots that seem to spread and cause more itching. Alongside this I started to convince myself that I had given myself cancer from all the toileteries I’ve used in the past. Yes it was paranoia, but the fear was very real, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

So anyway, I finally managed to clear the problem by not using any shower products on that arm, and only using deodorant on days when I simply couldn’t bear to be without – so whenever I was in public. Luckily, I had become a new mum and much of my life was spent within five metres of our house, so I had the perfect opportunity to give my skin the much-needed breathing space. It wasn’t easy and I went to bed many times in tears, holding my hands between my knees so I wouldn’t scratch.

It took months, but after it cleared I vowed never to go back to commercial deodorants again – not just because it worried me what damage they might do, but also because I had spent weeks ‘feeling’ how bad they were by the worse reaction they caused.

And so began my quest. I understood, and slowly came to accept, that any natural product I found was likely to leave me with some disappointment. After all, they will never be anti-perspirants because the very nature of an anti-perspirant is to go against what your body does naturally. Our bodies sweat as a method of cooling, and using anything to go against nature should always be something we think more about. But that’s just it – we live our lives being led to believe that ‘growing up’ means getting to choose between a can of Sure or a a roll-on Dove. It’s never a question of should we use these products or not – it’s a question of¬†which one shall we use.

Over the next few months I faced a different sort of challenge. Finding a product that was natural was damn hard work. You can’t just pick something up with your weekly shop, or pop along to Boots to browse the choice. The selection is terrible, and often non-existant.

I was forced to branch back out in the online world. Easy enough you say, but these things are expensive and I was buying product after product with no idea of how they smelt, or whether or not they worked. Where I usually would spent £2 or so for something that lasted months, I was now buying natural deodorants that cost upwards of £8 and sometimes only lasted a few weeks.

The search made me feel totally dispondent – it was like I was never going to find anything that didn’t just vaguely mask the smell of BO enough to make me smell like a tramp who may or may not have rubbed a vanilla cupcake under their arms.¬† I hate to admit it, but I gave up. After a few weeks of half using a natural deodrant, then half using my old Mitcham stick because I didn’t want to earn a reputation of ‘that girl who stinks’, eventually I threw in the towel and crossed my fingers that the rash wouldn’t come back.

emptySo this leads me to our recent trip to Florida. On heading out of Epcot after a long day tasting food from around the world during the ‘Food and Wine Festival’, Scott paused to quickly browse a lovely little stall of Rinse products. We were tired and a bit grumpy so didn’t give the stall the attention it truly deserved, but one particular product did leap out at me – the deOdor Stick (Rugged). It smelt a bit, well, ‘manly’ I guess, but I didn’t care – it was a natural deodrant that I hadn’t tried yet, and I felt compelled to buy it. I almost didn’t – because in the back of my head was a voice saying ‘nothing works’, but my voice of reason also chipped in with ‘you never know!’

I didn’t even look at the cost (it’s $10.95 / about ¬£7.50) – perhaps because I was re-excited to go down the all-natural path again. I told myself ‘It would just be bloody typical if the one thing that works is something I can only get in the USA’.. and that my dear friends, is ‘Sod’s law’.

Rinse’s deOdor Stick is the bloody one thing that works! Just typical! (but yay!)

Now, it really is important to remember that this isn’t going to stop you from sweating. Sweating is natural – what kind of horrible stuff must they put in an anti-perspirent to stop that from happening eh?! Once you accept that, I think you’ll be pleased with these products.

DisneyStickThe deOdor Stick comes in three scents – Original (which I stupidly thought meant it was unscented so didn’t even try it!), Lemongrass & Bergamot (very lemony) and Rugged (a bit manly, but not so much that it can’t be gender neutral) On the left is my lovely, first ever purchase from Rinse, with the Disney barcode over it. I actually am tempted to keep this empty in a memory box! A bit weird, right? But I love how this one little tube has changed my life!

To use, you push it up from the bottom (which can be a bit tricky if it gets stuck) and what you have is a roll-on sort of solid cream. It’s not creamy like cream, but it certainly goes on like a nice lotion. It absorbs well (especially if you’ve just got out of the shower) and there is none of those white specks falling out of your armpit and showering your black clothes! It also doesn’t make your nose sting and your throat tickle like spray deodorants do, so that’s a bonus!

So here’s the thing – I still sweat, and yes this is a bit annoying after spending my whole adult life blocking this natural reaction, however my sweat doesn’t smell bad. Sometiems it smells of ‘rugged’ and sometimes it smells of nothing. Either way, I’m happy with that. I’ve been using this deodorant since mid-November 2014, and it ran out completely this week. That means it’s lasted about five months.

I’m going to be honest with you. One thing you do need for this to work, is to be clean. If you’ve already been sweating and smell a little, the deOdor stick doesn’t work quite as well. For me this means washing my armpits every day regardless of whether I was going to have a full on shower – which I don’t do every day during winter because my skin dries out terribly. So on day one my deOdor stick is amazing, but the next day isn’t quite as great. There isn’t this ‘one application lasts 48 hours’ that you see on some adverts. Again, I’m now a little wary of anything that can make that claim anyway. I mean, what do those products do exactly?

I guess there isn’t really a great deal more I can say about Rinse’s deOdor Sticks – just that they work, they smell lovely, and I really wish they had a shop in the UK!!

Excuse me while I go to bed muttering ‘typical, just typical’ over and over!!

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How to be ill with a toddler

Being ill sucks, but being ill with a toddler is currently the hardest thing I’ve had to do all week, yet I feel like a lightweight for even mentioning it.

Let me put it this way Рyou remember that time when your limbs felt like they were on fire and glazed with ice? That every little movement both ached and exhausted you. Your knees cracked like they were riddled with arthritis, and the back of your throat burned like you had swallowed acid. And lets not forget the cold sweats and burning shivers. You remember that? Would you have gone to work like everything was fine, or would you have called in sick so you could writhe around in self-pity and sweat?

If your answer was ‘go to work’, then I genuinely salute you because no one should have to go through being ill at the same time as having to concentrate on anything else. And by anything else – I mean look after anyone else. Because lets face it – being a mummy is basically a 24hr job – only you aren’t even paid for it. And no – I don’t count purple scribbles all over the walls as a form of compensation, even if she smiles at me while doing it.

Today I’ve learned some very simple ‘rules’ for being ill with a toddler, which I though I’d share with you all.

1) Drop your standards – When you have minimal energy to give, give the minimal effort. By this I mean letting go of your usual high standards, and just see where the day leads you. When it comes to choosing clothes, literally grab whatever is nearest. If your toddler wants to do some art, let them use pink and red pens on dark red paper. Now is not the time to try and teach them about colour blending, perspective or the art of hexagons. I would also advise you quit feeling guilty that you aren’t getting them out to the swings today. It’s just one day – if they can play in the garden instead, then great. You can’t be using up your precious energy pushing the swing high enough for your toddler to lick the clouds. Remember that would only burn you out – not them!

Brolly2) Let there be mess –¬†When it comes to general mess making, you have to approach things from the angle that everything can be tidied later (preferably when someone else comes home to help!) It helps here if the weather is nice enough to base yourselves outside. Today I spent most of the day sat on a picnic mat in the garden, letting Willow fling sand around with a scoop. And yes, some of it was flung into my face. Ordinarily I would have tried to encourage her to keep it all inside her play¬†table, but today it simply didn’t matter. Bits of sand were flung high enough to hit the washing above her, but who cares? It would dry and brush off easily enough!

3) Don’t bother trying to reason – Willow has been asking to play in the paddling pool since Christmas. We have obviously spent many hours reasoning with her, because we didn’t fancy filling an inflatable with water and watching it freeze over, just to prove a point. Today it reached a surprising 16¬ļC and you know what – the paddling pool came out. It wasn’t exactly warm enough for her to spend too long in the water, but she had loads of fun. At first she spent fifteen minutes running around it shouting ‘look mummy, it’s the paddling pool’. Then she spent five minutes dipping one foot in and out, followed by the last ten minutes of standing in it and kicking water everywhere.¬†I had¬†thirty minutes of not having to move and it was bliss.

4) Use clever trickery – Willow kept asking me over and over again to fill up her mini watering can, but the going back and forwards to the tap was killing me. Instead, I turned the outside tap on so it dribbled, and this gave her the option to fill it up herself without having to ask me. Usually I would have been plagued with thoughts of ‘but it’s a waste of water’ but today, it was the water or me – I chose me! There was another advantage too – it dribbled so slowly that she had to wait ages even to fill her tiny can, so that ‘wasted’ even more of the day – Bonus!

5) Don’t look at the clock – Being ill means everything feels like a challenge and time moves to the rhythm of a new clock. I got through today by doing whatever I felt I could do at whatever time I could do it. We ate when it seemed right, and she went to bed when everything else came to a natural end. If this means a slight change in your routine, I really wouldn’t worry about it. If you try and keep them up ‘just one more hour’, you’ll only burn yourself out.

 

So there you have it – 5 tips on how to be ill with a toddler. If this is something you are going through right now, then you truly have my sympathy. I have blisters covering the back of my throat, and I think I will literally¬†cry if anyone mentions¬†anything along the lines of¬†‘having a bit of a sore throat’. Anything that hurts so bad it makes you want to rub actual salt in the wound just because you know it might help heal it – well that can’t ever be described as ‘a bit of’. Haha. Yes, I’m feeling rather sensitive right now!

ūüėČ

Just remember to pace yourself and go to bed as soon as you physically can. Rest is the most important thing! And speaking of bed.. night night! x

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Sometimes being a mummy sucks (and is depressing)

I know, I know. That title makes me sound like a cold-hearted beeyatch, but in all honesty – although I love my daughter very much, sometimes I just don’t like her.. and that depresses me.

Having suffered with depression for over a decade, I’m often more sensitive to the warning signs that I might be slipping. Right now however, I honestly can’t tell if it’s depression whispering¬†to me, or if this is just what it’s like being mum to a toddler. I think most parents will be able to relate to this, and most non-parents will think I’m being over the top.

So here is why being a mummy sucks: –

The Contradictions

I honestly can’t stand the contradictions. ‘But I really, REALLY want pasta Bolognese’ she begs – followed ten minutes later when you serve dinner with ‘I don’t want pasta Bolognese, I want something different,’ as her voice rises and the tears start to flow, ‘I don’t liiiiiiike ittttttt.’¬†We don’t offer her another dinner (otherwise I would currently be preparing the 31st dinner of the night) but it still doesn’t make it any less soul-destroying. You¬†think you’ve just served the perfect meal (the one she has consistently loved for the past 2 years) and instead, this contrary little elf rains all over your parade. Quite frankly it’s tiring at the best of times, and most of the time just downright annoying. When you deal with this all day, every day – whether it’s because you gave her the wrong coloured soup, or the broken biscuit that can’t possibly taste the same, or maybe the pens instead of pencils – well, let me tell you – it drives you insane. I know it’s not a reflection of me, my cooking, my choices, or of my parenting, but¬†it¬†still chips away at your mental health and makes you feel like one massive disappointment.

The Mind-Changing

Similar to the contradictions, the mind-changes that a toddler goes through in any 24-hour period is astounding. I can’t take anything at face value anymore, and that leaves me with a really horrible mix of doubt and suspicion. Sometimes as parents we have to overrule the decisions our child wants to make – because let’s face it, they just want to throw ‘normal’ out the window. But wherever possible, I try my hardest to let Willow make her own decisions so that she can learn about consequence. As she slowly begins to think more about how decisions may affect her, the time spent making the decision in the first place has grown exponentially. I’m faced with a ridiculously long time wasted as she chops and changes between desperately wanting a bowl of grapes one moment, and not being able to live without a kiwi the next. In the back of your mind you are thinking ‘I could have finished writing my¬†book by now,’ or ‘that was twenty minutes I could have spent sorting the washing’. It’s annoying, it’s frustrating, and it leaves me feeling like¬†I’ve been banging my head against a brick wall.

The Lies

When you nip to the kitchen and come back into the living room to find purple pen up the wall, it’s hard enough trying to keep your cool when the only other person in the house is innocently pleading ‘it wasn’t me’. Need I say more?

The Memory

Willow hasn’t just got a memory like an elephant. She’s got a memory like a whole bloody herd of elephants, who have all made life-long virtual notes – complete with indexing and a search function. You know when you have to just say¬†something to keep the peace. A flippant comment such as ‘we can go to the slide and swings tomorrow honey.’ Well tomorrow will come and all hell fire will rain down if I don’t keep that ‘promise’. Of course remembering something from one day to the next is fine, but recently I’ve been faced with ‘But mummy, last week you said we go to toddler group on Frys-day’. I hate that guilty feeling when she looks at me with that expectant grin, and I have to break it to her that today is now Saturday and we missed toddler group. Not only does she remember things from one¬†week to the next, but she can recount details from a holiday we took 5 months ago – and gets frustrated when I simply can’t remember ‘that ride we went on with the man in front.’ I mean come on, 5 months? I can’t even remember what we ate for dinner last week. It paves the way for frustration (hers) because I just can’t keep up with her memory.

The Negotiations

Somehow our 3-year-old has gained negotiation skills that would make the FBI weep. You¬†stupidly assume, after telling someone twenty times that they could only have one more whatever, that they may¬†have listened. I mean, it’s a pretty fair assumption. Can you imagine if every single conversation you had in the day, meant repeating yourself over and¬†over and OVER.¬†It would drive you nuts, right? Just think about it. You casually pop into Costa for a coffee to start the day. ‘Can I have a latte please,’ you ask as the barista passes you a croissant. ‘No, a latte,’ you repeat. They ask you if you want a croissant instead. ‘A latte,’ you say again – this time getting slightly irate. The barista asks if you want sugar with your hot chocolate. ‘I said I want a latte,’ you reply – trying to keep your cool. They hand you an iced tea, and you are ready to scream and throw the damn drink across the room. You then decide to pop into the newsagent next door to buy a bar of chocolate to calm your nerves. ‘What’s that,’ the shopkeeper says, ‘you want some crisps?’ I can tell you now – it’s tiring. When day in, day out you are on constant repeat – when every tiny little decision becomes a negotiation and you are constantly forced to fight your corner, understand when I say that by lunchtime you’ll be exhausted.

The Disrespect

Having to watch a tiny little person single-handedly destroy stuff, is really tough. From drawing on the walls to throwing hard objects around – Not just once, but over and over again, despite the calm explanations, the discipline, and the terrifying outburst of anger that you simply couldn’t keep under wraps. It seems that no matter what angle you approach this from, toddlers just have no respect for you or your belongings. Yeah, yeah. It’s their way of learning and expressing themselves – they don’t¬†know that what they are doing is disrespectful. But as a well-mannered, caring adult, it’s really hard to keep your cool and tell yourself it doesn’t matter. Because when the person you love and care for responds by throwing a wooden pan at your computer as part of some kind of animalistic ‘game’, who wouldn’t want to simultaneously cry and scream?

The Copying

Kids are like sponges. Kids are discovering¬†all the time, Kids are always watching and learning by example. I know, I know – I’m so grateful that we acknowledged this¬†from day one and always tried to work it to everyone’s advantage. But I can’t control what she copies and a lot of the time¬†that makes me cry inside. Often I just want to eat a biscuit without hearing that little voice ‘Mummy can I have one too.’ Or say something to my hubby without our little parrot repeating it over and over again. Worse than copying us, or bringing home tendencies from the more aggressive kids at nursery though, is her incessant need to copy the irritating CBeebies characters¬†(I’m looking at you Bing) When she first started watching the stupid¬†bunny I admit that I didn’t see how we would live to regret it. But Willow is able to not only copy his pathetic mispronunciation of words that I¬†know she knows, but she does it with his irritating voice too. This week we did some painting, and I was faced with thirty minutes of ‘Diiiiip it, wiiiiiipe it, paint.’ – Over, and over, and over, and over. By the time her ‘art’ was finished I wanted to burn all the paper in the house, throw out the TV and tip the paint down the sink. It was like water-torture. Slow. Painful. Relentless.

The Independence

So that sounds like a positive thing, right? – Something we all want to see in our children as we gaze at them across the picket fence, our hearts filled with love and pride. Well you know what – If I hear ‘I can do it’ one more time today I think I’m going to scream. Just like the procrastination, often you just want to get things done. Whether it’s pulling the training pants down so she doesn’t pee all over the sofa, or putting on our shoes so we can make it to the shops before they close. Gone are the days when I could just do it for her and get on with the morning. I know it’s great that she wants to try, and trust me – I’m not deliberately trying to quash that. It’s just that when you already¬†know she can’t do something, because perhaps she hasn’t learnt to drive yet, or isn’t tall enough to take coats off the hook. Well, that’s when it feels like little miss independent has been sent to try you.

The Procrastination

A bit like the above, sometimes you just want to ‘pop to the postbox’ or ‘quickly go for a wee’, and your toddler will do absolutely everything in their power to prevent this from happening before the turn of the century. So, you battle for thirty-five minutes to get her shoes, coat and scarf on and you step outside only to realise you are still in slippers. Back inside we go – after a five minute discussion about why the recycling bin has moved 3 millimetres, only to finally leave the house, make it almost out of spitting distance before she declares she wants her gloves – which are back at home. Of course they are! You try and reason with this little monkey for another ten minutes, ‘But sweetheart it’s summer and you don’t need gloves’. She has cemented her feet to the ground and is starting to scream, so then you try the drag and distract technique ‘Ooh look at that tree over there,’ I say, hooking my arms underneath hers to try and drag her from the spot. She has other ideas and pulls out all the stops with the vicious back-arching and wailing method. ‘Ok, Ok. Let’s go back and get your gloves,’ I say – anything to get her to move. Finally she is walking again, but every three steps she stops to admire the grass, the pavement, the cat-sick and trampled daisies. I tell myself we aren’t in a rush and I should be patient, but in all honesty I feel like I don’t want to step outside ever again. Of course as soon as we¬†finally¬†make it back to the house, she says ‘Mummy.. I don’t need my gloves’. I refer you back to ‘The Mind-Changing’.

There is one upside to this battle though. Since becoming a mummy I’ve begun to really appreciate the value of time. Every ten minutes I get to myself is as precious as that week-long holiday I¬†used to take without a second thought. If we know that Willow needs to have her nap after lunch or we risk her having an utter meltdown, well then we will make sure that¬†the morning isn’t wasted. This means going out to the shops without a shower, taking her out for a walk without applying lotions and potions, or grabbing whatever clothes are nearest so that we can just get in the car and go. Once upon a time straightening my hair would occupy me for ages before I felt I could face the world – now I just tie it back and hope for the best.

The new-found appreciation for time is¬†also why you’ll rarely see me sharing cute video’s of cats sneezing, or posting links to photos of ‘the funniest thing you’ll see all year’. You know why – because I just don’t give a shit anymore. Those are three minutes I could have spent hanging the washing out before another wash load starts to smell musty. Or a minute longer for me to close my eyes and¬†enjoy silence. And I’m actually really grateful for that. Procrastination is what keeps us from success, and now I’m a mummy I want nothing more than to find success – because that will balance out all these moments where I just feel like I truly suck.

 

So there you have it. Not only have I joined the club of parents who are exhausted from the broken sleep and nights of creeping into the nursery to check our children are still breathing. Perhaps you can also understand why¬†I¬†also feel that I am slowly losing my mind. I admire anyone who can cope with all of the above on a daily basis and take it completely in their stride. Right now¬†I’m just not really that kind of person. Yes, there are wonderful moments – and most of the time they are enough to completely counteract the annoyances. But every now again the balance feels like it has shifted dramatically, and it leaves me wide open to those depressive tendencies.

Of course I love Willow dearly, and¬†know¬†I am ‘lucky’ to have a healthy, happy little girl. I write this because it is my way of trying to reclaim a little bit of sanity during my moment in motherhood when I feel like I just want to curl up in bed and cry.

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Risk-taking with a toddler

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 12.59.43Back in my mid to late twenties, I have to admit that I took a few risks in life. I abseiled down our University, flew in a microlight and glider, jumped out of a perfectly working aircraft Рtwice, and freely went for a swim with sharks.

My point it – I displayed real moments of having no fear. A good ten years later it got me thinking as to whether I would do any of those things again now. The diving is a definite no – I absolutely hated it, but I really did enjoy the two skydives. However, now I’m a wife and mummy, I’m not sure I could ever get past the guilty feelings of ‘what if’.

So then I began to wonder what risks I take currently? As a mid-thirties mum with a three-year-old, here’s what I found: –

  • Sometimes I leave Willow ‘doing art’ at the table while I go and wash up the ten paintbrushes she has already used in the last minute. It’s risky business – I could come back to find our whole house is another colour.
  • I once went upstairs to empty the potty during a no-pants morning, and forgot to put her in a nappy. This is serious stuff – she could climb up onto the sofa and open the floodgates at any moment!
  • Despite a lovely array of cloth nappies and conveniently sized change bags, we often take Willow to the shops and don’t even take a spare nappy with us. I mean, how much more of a risk can a parent take?!
  • Back to her ‘art’, I recently set up a little corner in our living room so that she could reach everything herself. This includes glitter glue, scissors, paint, chalk, play doh, pens, buttons and a whole array of tiny little bits n pieces that are just dying to be knocked over so they can multiply under the sofa. I still can’t decide if it was a genius use of space, or a big mistake – either way, I think this means I’m walking on the wild side again!

So there you have it – what it really means to take risks with a toddler!

Hands up if you have done any of these?

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Moisturiser with a difference – from Rinse Bath & Body, USA

Whilst at Epcot Food and Wine Festival in 2014, we paused at an interesting stand belonging to Rinse Bath & Body. It was actually Scott who stopped to have a look, as he was interested in their Peppofoot foot spray. I have to admit that I probably would have kept walking – but only because the weather was a strange mix of heat and rain, making it uncomfortably humid. We were already heading back around the lake to the exit, and we were feeling pretty tired – and not in the mood for shopping.

EpcotStorm

Scott passed me a fig scented body spread to smell, and I was very impressed (more on that in another post) but I didn’t feel that I could justify any more lotions and potions – especially given how limited my luggage space already was. After a very quick smell of a few different products (none of which I can remember) I decided to buy a natural deodorant (I will also write about that in a separate post). We left with only a small purchase each and a still very neutral opinion of the company.

Back at the villa a few days later, I was absolutely kicking myself for not finding the energy to take a better look at the Rinse range. I’d been browsing online and fallen in love with the sound of everything, but wished that I knew what¬†the scents were like. I was particularly interested in the 100% natural products, as my skin has always been really prone to unhappiness.

Back in the UK I decided to order a few things online and have them shipped to my cousin – seeing as he already had some other US-exclusive things I’d ordered for Willow stashed in his apartment (mostly bumGenius nappies). I figured the extra postage would be worth it, especially as some of the smaller items like lip balms could fit in the little gaps around everything else.

Rinse Bath & Body Squalane OilI was desperate for some new moisturiser, so plumped for the Squalane Oil¬†–¬†‘a light, scentless & quickly absorbing oil which is known to heal the skin from the inside out & is also loved for its ability to promote cell elasticity, cell regeneration & fight fine lines & wrinkles’ (taken from the Rinse Bath & Body website)

It’s now roughly a week since I’ve been using the Squalane Oil every morning and night, and I’m so far extremely impressed. I was initially nervous of the fact this was an oil, as I thought it would feel too greasy on my skin. I’m pretty sure this is what most people would assume, but in actual fact it is very light. It absorbs very easily, and I think the only danger would be using too much. They say ‘a little goes a long way’, and I couldn’t agree more.

Immediately after applying the Squalane oil my face does feel a bit unusual, but it’s literally just while it absorbs. I love that there is no scent to this product because what I am left with is skin that feels 100% normal. Now I know that doesn’t sound particularly amazing, but trust me – it is.

‘Normal’ is exactly what I want from my moisturiser. It means my face isn’t itchy, clogged, oily, taut, dry, flakey or perfumed. It just feels ‘right’, and most importantly, it feels right all day and all night. It’s not until I wash my face again that I begin to feel the dryness – because up until that point the Rinse Squalane oil has made me forget how troublesome my skin is.

Now this leaves me with an overall feeling of great happiness and frustration. Happy because after 35 years of irritating skin, I have finally found what works for me – but frustrated because of course it has to be from a shop over 4,000 miles across the Atlantic. I’ve literally spent hours daydreaming about how I could justify a family trip to Georgia – where I could casually ‘pop in’ to the Rinse store‚Ķ and hubby could come back for me about 6 hours later.

Rinse have told me that they do ship to us here in the UK, but it’s just not the same as visiting the store is it. But, of course it’s still better than nothing.

For me, I will keep trying to find an excuse to fly to Georgia someday. I just hope that in the meantime they don’t discontinue such a wonderful product.

Squalane oil from @rinsesoap – I would fly over to the USA just to buy more of this! #rinsebathandbody

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Bigjigs Baking Set – Our Review

BJWhiskOur latest #Playpatrol review is of the ‘Young Chef’s Baking Set’ from Bigjigs, costing ¬£11.99.¬†This arrived in our house the week before Willow’s birthday, and as much as I wanted to rush it straight over to her I did feel that it would be a perfect extra present for her. As it turned out, I hid it at the back of the wardrobe and temporarily ‘lost’ it – so I only just gave it to her. She’s now 3, and¬†just in Bigjig’s¬†recommended age¬†range¬†of 3+ (not that we pay much attention to recommendations)

The sweetest thing about giving her anything from Bigjigs is that she gets immediately excited. She squeals ‘Bigjigs’ and runs around wanting to open the box straight away.

Rather excited about the @bigjigstoys bake set #bigjigs

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Despite the fact she had only just¬†‘helped’ me do some baking in the kitchen the previous week, I did find it quite surprising that she saw the baking set and associated it with Play-Doh. Whether or not this was the intended use I’m not sure, but it does lend itself well to either real baking or pretend baking – with one tiny exception.

BJPinMy only bugbear is the rolling pin – For some reason it sticks to the Play-Doh and is therefore impossible to roll. Instead of a nice flat pile of blue squidgy stuff, we are left trying to pick bits off the wood. Maybe it’s the texture, or maybe it’s just the weight. I’m really not sure, but I don’t fancy it’s chances at rolling anything. The other tiny annoyance is that the handles aren’t fixed very well. For little hands it’s not such an issue, but when I’m invariably enlisted to give Willow a hand, I worry that I’m going to break her new toy. I personally would prefer this to be one solid piece – even if it meant doing away with shaped handles.

With that aside, this is a really, really sweet set. Everything is is perfect proportion and feels just like a real baking set – just shrunk down.

BJGloveWillow particularly loves popping tiny bits of Play-Doh into the paper cases and pretending she is making fruit flavoured cakes. She even knows to use the oven glove when getting the baking tray out of the pretend over – because it’s going to be hot. Today I actually left the miniature oven glove on the table, and she got quite upset, crying ‘Mummy! Where’s my oven glove. The cakes are ready!’ There was a definite hint of panic in her voice, as if the cakes might be ruined.

She then wanted me to take a photo of her glove, which is just Willow’s way of saying ‘I really love this’.

Although we’ve still only tested this set with Play-Doh, I definitely think it is one of Willow’s new favourite’s. This is largely down to the fact that she is a real little foodie, and absolutely loves food – both eating it and watching/helping me prepare it.

BJSit

The only part of the set that she hasn’t shown a great deal of interest in is the measuring spoons, but this is more down to the fact that it’s pretty hard to measure Play-Doh in that way. If we were to attempt some real baking, I’m fairly sure those spoons would get used too. The little metal bowl is brilliant and feels like it could survive a few knocks – the same goes for the baking tray.

BJTray

Overall, the Bigjigs baking set is a cute little set that is perfect for introducing little ones to baking. I do think there a few little tweaks that could be made, but for the price I certainly wouldn’t be put off buying this. I really think it’s important to get kids talking about food and learning how stuff is made, so this kind of toy is right up our street.

Fruit cakes anyone?

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What I’d really like for ‘Mother’s Day’

To me this is one of the most unnatural and ridiculous questions we all feel obliged to think about. Sure, some chocolates or biscuits would be nice. I’m not really a flower girl so a potted plant could find a space in our home, but in all honesty I would be just as happy with a pair of practical socks or a power tool. I’m not going to turn down a little bit of spoiling, but I really would rather no-one buys me anything pink. ¬†I mean, what is it about the word ‘mum’ that automatically triggers all¬†shops to adorn the shelves with the¬†same old pink crap. Yes I’m a mother, but I don’t need a flowery mug with ‘mum’ written on it to remind myself of that fact. Nor do I really need a pink apron, or tee shirt with ‘world’s best mum’ scrawled all over it.

Perhaps I could try and be all modern and original, and write about how ‘what I’d really like on ‘Mother’s Day’ is a lie in, or a clean kitchen. Or maybe even to have a shower without little hands trying to bang the door down’. Ah, so you’ve heard it all before, right?

No, there are only a couple of things that I would genuinely like.

 

First, I would like to¬†feel loved on all the other unmarked days of the year. To me, that doesn’t mean waking up to breakfast in bed served on an ornate tray with a vase of fresh flowers. It means Willow running up to me with arms stretched wide¬†after spending a day apart. Or politely saying ‘Thank you mummy, this dinner was the best dinner ever.’ It’s these little things that truly make one feel appreciated, valued – loved.

More importantly though, I want Willow and I to share such a bond that she grows up feeling like she¬†wants to do these things – that she¬†wants to send me a random little card to say hi, or pop around for dinner. I want her to grow up feeling that she isn’t obliged to buy me¬†something –¬†anything on this manufactured Hallmark day. And I don’t want her to feel guilty when she doesn’t. If we plan to meet up on a certain Sunday in March and her car breaks down or she’s come down with the flu – my only wish is that neither of us feel that pang of guilt – ‘Oh, but it’s ‘Mother’s Day’. You know, life just happens.

As¬†morbid as it is, I want to raise Willow so that when I die, she is strong and independent enough to dismiss all the constant reminders on ‘Mother’s Day’ – the ones that bombard her from all angles with lame ‘ideas’ on how to love. I want her to simply know that when her mother was alive, she loved and was loved. When Willow checks her post, opens her inbox, visits the grocery store or fills the tank up with fuel, in all the days and weeks leading up to ‘Mother’s Day’, I want my daughter to hold her head up high and not feel that society is rubbing her loss in her face – because it¬†is¬†just another day.

Maybe as I get older this ‘special day’ will mean more to me – but I genuinely hope not – because it will mean that I’ve failed in my aim to raise a daughter who asks questions before conforming to the norm.

In the year Willow was born, I was asked ‘Ooh, what did you get for ‘Mother’s day?’ – From my 3-week old baby? Well, sadly her credit card was declined and she forgot the pin number on her bank account. Are you serious? What do you mean what did she get me? – she is 3 weeks old!

I know, I know – what people really wanted to know was ‘is your hubby considerate and caring enough to rush out and buy you a card?’ Thankfully, no. He was too busy scraping projectile newborn poop off the cupboard door – and how grateful I was too. It’s ridiculous to balance the assumed love of our baby onto his already exhausted shoulders. To be quite honest, I’d rather we all concentrated on being strong as a family unit the other 364 days of the year.

Because as it turn’s out – since I had my baby these days are all¬†‘mother’s day’.

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