Friday, 3 July 2015

Funky Kid Friday - Little Wild Child

Oh.. it's been one of those weeks.  Ethan has been off school all week apart from today.  Felix has been full of craziness.  His sleep is terrible again and he's taking ages to settle in the evenings as well.  We're all a bit worn down and I'll be honest, I don't much feel like blogging!!

We've been home all week, we've not really gone anywhere or done anything.  Felix has spent most of the week naked in the garden!  I thought I'd share a couple of outfits from last weekend:

Stitched Up Apparel, Be Wild

This t shirt couldn't be more appropriate for Felix.  He needs no encouragement, he IS wild!  We were sent this t shirt by Stitched Up Apparel who we brand rep for. Stitched up are a UK brand run by a stay at home Mama.  She makes some beautiful clothing and this tee is part of a brand new range!  It retails at £14.

RaanRoo, Ra an Roo, Ra and Roo, Kids Romper, Penguin Romper

This stunning penguin print romper is part of a limited edition range from Ra an Roo.  It's really well made.  The style is retro but the print gives it very modern trendy feel.  Felix loves anything with animals on so it was a hit with him.  I love it because it has a "baby" feel about it!

So, now it's over to you guys!  What have your little ones been rocking in this heat?  Link up below, tweet me your links, link back to me - you know the drill!

Happy Friday!


Tuesday, 30 June 2015

When is it right to use finance?

Pete (the hubby) and I are not natural risk takers.  We don't buy lottery tickets, we went to Vegas and didn't gamble and we've always taken out fixed rate mortgages.  Debt makes us both uncomfortable.  We are lucky, Pete earns a good wage and we can afford for me to stay home to look after the boys, for now.  This does mean that we have to be careful with our money though.  You won't find us holidaying in Jamaica (one day maybe!) and we don't drive a fancy car.  That's not to say we don't have holidays or a good car, we do, but we do it within our budget.  Holidays are UK or France.  The car is a family run around and Pete rides his bike to work meaning that it doesn't get used often anyway!

Sometimes, we have had to make large purchases.  We have always tried to save up before buying very expensive items but we've found that is much harder now we are on one income and have two boys.  When it comes to things like sofas or mattresses, we have used store finance schemes.  Pete is much more uncomfortable with schemes like this than I am (sensible person!!) but I always think that as long as you use these things to your advantage then it's OK.  The key is to look for 0% finance or credit cards.  You do NOT want to be paying interest.

We bought a new mattress recently and we wanted to make sure it was an excellent one that will last us 15 years or more.  This meant that it was VERY pricey!! So, we used the stores credit scheme and we are paying it off in monthly installments over 6 months.  That way we could have the mattress when we needed it (and we did really need it, our old one was grim!) but pay it off without putting ourselves out of pocket and crucially without paying more than the actual cost of the mattress.

There is a very handy site online which can offer you all sorts information on companies that offer credit schemes for products from clothing to furniture, it's worth a look if you're thinking about making a purchase using credit.  Click here for more info!

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Keep safe with CosmEthics

I've written a few times about trying to use healthy and safe products, both on myself and my family. I've always preferred to stick with more "natural" products where I can.  That's not to say that I don't recognise the benefit of modern medicines at all and I'm certainly pro immunisations!!  I also know that "natural" doesn't definitely mean safe. We all know about poisons which occur in nature!  However, there are some ingredients like SLS that I do like to avoid in my products.  We all have sensitive skin in our family and I know we benefit from avoiding harsh chemicals.

I recently found out about a very hand app. It's all about apps these days!  Anything which is handy and can make our lives easier is good in my book.. or my phone ;-)  This particular app has been created by CosmEthics and is available free on iOS and Android.  The idea of the app is to give users a quick understanding of cosmetic products ingredients.  You can also add personal "alerts" which can flag up ingredients which are particularly problematic for you, such as in the case of allergies.  I wanted to share this information because this is something that I am genuinely interested in and I know there are many others out there who like to know about what is in their products.

At present I have been looking up products online, googling each separate ingredient before deciding if I wanted to buy it.  This app will now do that for me! Yay! Time saved!

Friday, 26 June 2015

Funky Little People - Summer Sale!

One of my favorite online retailers and one of our longest standing sponsors, Funky Little People are having their summer sale!

There are some amazing bargains to be had from funky Smafolk bedding to wonderful Dunns t shirts.  It's got to be one of the best places to stock up on your Scandi addiction!!

Go check it out!

Funky Little People Summer Sale, Freds, Dunns, Smafolk

Funky Kid Friday - Mini Rodini Swimwear

Hurrah!! The sun has (mostly) got his hat and we've been getting out to play!  I'm lucky enough to enjoy all seasons.  I love the smell in the air in Autumn, the colours, the falling leaves.  I love wrapping up warm in Winter and the chance of snow always excites me.  We don't get it much in Somerset and I just see it as fun, not a bother!  Spring feels refreshing and exciting.  What I love most about Summer is just how easy it is to get outside.  Of course, it's not like all rain stops but it is generally dryer and even if it's cloudy, it's still warmer.  My boys love it outside, Felix in particular. He would spend the whole day outside if he could.

Getting out in the garden means getting the paddling pool and sprinkler out!! I'll be honest, my two do love running around in the nuddy but there are times when a swimming cosy comes in handy!!  Visits to the beach or pool.  On holiday.

I wanted to share Mini Rodini's swimwear collection with you today. MR are a brand that I truly love.  I get very excited when they bring out a new collection but best of all, their old collections don't date.  Their clothing is all fantastic quality (we have quite a bit of it, I can vouch for this!) and it really lasts, washing well.  They have a truly stunning swimwear collection at present.  You can still buy some items from previous collections, they all look great!

I love the UV suits they sell.  I'm a fan of UV suits for kids, especially younger ones.  When you have someone who is outside as much as Felix is, it's useful to know they are protected.  I'll be honest, like many, he's not a big fan of being held down and creamed up!! With UV suits you know that a good portion of their skin is covered.  These suits are the equivalent of SPF 50+, very high, and the material is breathable and dries quickly.  So no staying damp or getting all sweaty.

Mini Rodini Swimwear 2015, Swimwear, Kids Swimwear, Mini Rodini
Image Source: Mini Rodini

For older children MR have a stunning range of swimsuits, shorts and pants.  There are some unisex friendly designs and definitely something to suit every child!  I think I would get Ethan the heart print swim pants or the spotty ones.  I'd get Felix a heron print UV suit.  They'd be the most stylish boys by the pool, I'm sure!!

Prices range from £18 for swimpants to £50 for a UV suit.  MR also have a summer sale on just now - worth a look!

What have your kids been rocking this week?  Link up any kids fashion posts below.  Please don't forget to link back to me in your blog post and display my badge.  Tweet me your link and I'll retweet!

Have a gorgeous weekend all!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Duvet sets avaibible at Tobias & The Bear!

Wow!! The day has finally come!  I really adore gorgeous kids bedding.  My boys are very lucky and they have a stunning range of bedding to choose from.  My favorite sheet for Felix's cot bed is hands down the one I bought from Tobias & The Bear.

Not so long ago I asked if T&TB would make a duvet cover and I was told they were planning too... well, guess what!! They are now here!!

I can't recommend their gorgeous bedding enough and this is totally on my list to buy - go check them out!

Mums Know Best

I was recently contacted about a campaign run by Littlewoods, #MumsKnowBest.  Now, when growing up, it seems to many of us, I suspect, that our Mum's don't know best.  That in fact we do.. and then we grow up, have children of our own and realise that we actually know nothing.  Not. A.  Thing.  Our own Mum's though?  They become a walking encyclopedia of child knowledge.  A source of comfort, support and understanding.

I know that not everyone has a great relationship with their Mum.  Those of us that do are very lucky. I know that for me, I became to truly understand and appreciate my Mum when I myself became a Mum.  Suddenly I got it.  I realised all she and my Dad had gone through for my brother and I.  The pain and discomfort of pregnancy and labor.  Sitting up all night feeding, staggering around bleary eyed yet somehow managing to look after us.  Looking after the house with far fewer conveniences than I have!  A twin tub for washing countless terry towels, if she was lucky! No microwave.  No mobile phones and twitter for support!

I can't really share any stories from my teen years of where, actually, my Mum knew best.  Firstly, I was quite a good (boring) child and I never really rebelled.  But I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that for the most part, my parents just let my brother and I get on with whatever it was we wanted to do.  I think this respect they had for us and our ability to make our own choices was very supportive and something I want to replicate!  I'm not saying that my Mum never told me off, but I can honestly say that I can't think of a time when she told me that I shouldn't do something or that doing something would be a bad idea.  I think she saw that it would be good for me to sometimes make the wrong decision and then find out what the consequences would be.  I did a few stupid things like getting drunk.  My lovely Mum cleared up after me and supported me the next day.  I never caused too much trouble though!

My Mum is a pretty unique person.  I think that anyone who knows her would agree.  She didn't have the easiest start in life.  In fact, she was very poorly as a child and it wasn't really expected that she would make it through childhood.  She was severely ill with asthma and in the 50's and 60's asthma was a killer.  Of course, it still can be today, but I think it is generally better managed.  My Mum told me stories of being in hospital.  She spent a great deal of her childhood in hospital.  A few times they didn't expect her to make it through the night.  My mother is a strong person though and she battled through.  She told me how she lost all her baby teeth due to the medication she was on!  Her childhood was very different to mine.  When she wasn't ill in hospital she was at boarding school.  I think her upbringing made her fiercely independent and gave her a real lust for life.   Some of her stories from her teen years in the late 60's/early 70's are real eye openers.  I think she was a lot more exciting than I was!  She told me about how she used to hitchhike around with her friend..  Goodness only knows what she was up to!

When she was 17 Mum moved up to London and studied to become a chiropodist.  She met my Dad who was working in Bristol at the time and they moved down to this part of the country.  My Mum remained a rather unique woman.  She was quite "old" when she had me, at 30.  This was 1982 remember and many women had already had their children in their early 20's.  Not only that, she went back to work when I was 6 months old.  As I said, my mother is very independent and likes to be busy.

What I really want to say about Mum is that not only do I know that she does know best (most of the time!) but she really knew what was best.  What would be best for me.  She has always gone the extra mile.  When I was 7 and started going to Brownies I was scared to go on my own.  She came with me, and not only that, she completed her guiding training and ended up running the Brownie pack!  She didn't force to me to continue doing things I wasn't happy doing.  When I told her that I wasn't enjoying ballet and gymnastics. she accepted what I was telling her and I stopped going.  No forcing me into things.   Mum is always thinking of others.  She would do lovely things like create special "holiday bags" for my brother and I when we went away, a bag with activities, some new toys.  She has always supported us and our community.  When I got involved with the Scout & Guide Band she helped out there.  She would come on marches with us.  When a teacher at my infant school seriously dented my confidence she got me into a new school and made sure that I had the support I needed at home and at school to get my confidence back.  I know my Mum always has my back.

About 11 years ago Mum started having some health issues.  She was having some problems with her sight.  As is typical with my Mum she had been keeping a lot of this to herself but then there came one day when she could no longer ignore it.  Mum was still working almost full time, running her own chiropody practice as well as being an active member of the local W.I. and running a Rainbow pack.   She made an appointment at the doctor just to check things over... and then life changed.  The doctor recommended she go straight to hospital.  She was rushed up there.  I was at the hairdressers after finishing work when I got the call from my Dad telling me that Mum was in hospital having tests.  I rushed home, my heart in my mouth.  Dad had come home, he picked my brother and I up and we headed straight back to the hospital.

Being in the hospital family waiting area was one of the most grim times of my life.  I've never had a great relationship with hospitals because the only times I've ever been in them, something bad has been happening.  There is a great deal of noise in hospitals.   They are manic and overwhelming.  Seeing Mum lying down in a hospital bed was scary.  My Mum remained outwardly calm and in control but I have no doubt she must have been worrying in her head.  Who wouldn't be?  She had to have a lumber-puncture and scans on her brain.  I will never forget when the consultant came to see Dad, my brother and I in the family room.  My brother was in tears.  Dad looked scared and in shock.  I seemed to go into some sort of autopilot taking control.  We were all convinced he was going to tell us it was a brain tumor.  Thank God it wasn't.. but it wasn't nothing.  They believed Mum had MS.  It's very hard to diagnose MS and in fact, doctors don't really like to give it as a diagnosis.  You have to display a variety of symptoms and at different times.  A neurologist will look for areas of scaring in the central nervous system.

It wasn't great finding out about the MS.  Better than a tumor or other illnesses perhaps, but MS has still come along and changed our lives.  Mum never went back to work ever again.  She had to sell her practice and "retire" before her 50th birthday.  This disease has robbed her of the ability to work until an age of her choosing.  Whilst she remains the spirited fighter she has always been, she hasn't been able to do all she had planned.  Mum always talked of becoming a councilor for the local council when she retired.  She wouldn't be able to do that now.  Traveling further than Europe is not possible so she has had to accept that she won't see America, Australia and other places she might have wanted to visit.  She can't walk as far or for as long as she used to.  Driving anywhere other than the town in which she lives isn't possible.  She has to go to bed early every day and rest every afternoon.

Mum still does A LOT.  She wouldn't be the same if she didn't!  She runs book groups, studies geology, attends church, Mothers Union, volunteers in a child contact centre, helps run a toddler group and likes to be involved with my two boys as much as she can.  I hate that MS has changed how she would like to be living her life but I know that she has had to make her peace with it.  I know that she still does all she can.  So, whilst I cannot share stories of when I did something silly and Mum told me it was silly and she was proved correct I can tell you that I know my Mum does know best.  She shows me every day what is best.  Keep trying.  Keep doing things.  Don't let life hold you back.

Thank you Mum.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Get 20% off at Chapter One!

I love Chapter One and wrote about them for Junior Style this week.  If you head over there you can read all about them and even get a 20% off code!  Check it out!!

Funky Kid Friday - Gecko Unisex Clothing

Last night a friend of mine alerted me to a very cool Kickstarter campaign.  It's no secret if you read my blog, or really see anything I post on social media that I am very pro unisex clothing.  I think it's super important that we teach our children that colours are nothing to do with gender and sexuality and that girls can be just as interested in space as boys and boys just as interested in looking after a doll as a girl might.   Equality my friends!

The Kickstarter campaign I heard about was set up by Gecko Clothing.  Gecko are a UK brand who specialise in unisex clothes.  They are currently trying to raise money to support their brand and expand their range of funky clothes.  There are only 4 days to go and, bless them, they still have a way to go to reach their goal.  Though I have to say they've done well, they've raised £3,025 so far!  In fact, I had to pledge myself and went for £20.  This is something I am passionate about after all!

Gecko Clothing, Unisex clothing, Kickstarter

I wanted to write about them today to help spread the word.  As bloggers we have access to a great audience.  I like to use my "voice" to help those I can!  I really like Gecko's eco credentials.  They aren't just about unisex clothes, they like to keep things as good for people and the planet as possible.  Sheep poo paper tags on clothes!  Fairtrade organic cotton with no nasties.  Clothes made in Fairtrade and GOTS registered factories who support local small farmers.  And something else which is a bonus - their clothes are built with cloth bums in mind so are extra roomy!!

I can't make you go and pledge, but I'd love it if you'd take a look!

Happy Friday and if you have a kids fashion post, please do join in below!


Friday, 12 June 2015

Selling and buying a house - week two.

It's now two weeks since our house went up for sale and what a fortnight it's been.  If my blog is quiet it's because Felix is sleeping badly, causing me to be exhausted and not very motivated and because the remainder of my free-time has been taken up by getting out of our house for viewings, viewing other properties and dealing with sale related paperwork.

Really, I think we've been very lucky so far.  The biggest news I have is that our house has sold!  Yes, it'd been on for just over a week when it all went a little crazy.  My phone was ringing off the hook with offers on the house.  In the end we had two first time buyers bidding against each other which was amazing.  I can't believe it but the house sold for asking price!  Of course, this is all "subject to contract" and people do sometimes change their minds but assuming it all goes smoothly, this is very good!! We're happy that they are first time buyers because it helps keep the chain short.  They also have a good deposit and mortgage agreed.  We couldn't really ask for more!

What is even more exciting is that we made an offer on a house we like that has been accepted.  It took a few offers before the vendor went for it but I managed to get an offer £4K under asking price accepted.  Which is just as well because the place needs it's two bathrooms updated (yes, dammit!  Two bathrooms!) and one of it's two kitchens ripping out and one updating.  It was set up for dual occupation hence the two kitchens.  One of them is upstairs so that shall become a study or, as hubby would have it, a "man room" but it WILL include a craft/blogging nook for me.  Hurrah!  The boys will also have a very large bedroom each and a playroom.  Downstairs we'll have a separate dining area (no more eating in our living room and food being ground into the carpet) and will gain a downstairs loo and utility room.  There's a large garage which has a garage door operated by remote which Pete is particularly excited!  Best of all, we're still within the same walking distance to school but closer to the town centre.  To say I'm excited is an understatement and I'm keeping everything crossed that it doesn't fall through!!!!