Thursday 27 November 2014

Book Review - Sloth Slept On by Frann Preston-Gannon

One of my favorite animals is a sloth.  Despite this, I can never remember the correct pronunciation of the word.  However, I now have no excuse for mispronunciation because now, thanks to Pavilion books, I have a book to read to the boys all about a soth (and according to the Oxford dictionary it's pronounced like oath not cloth if you know what I mean!!).

Sloth Slept On is about a sloth who has escaped from the zoo and the group of children who find him.  This book is beautifully illustrated and manages to combine being interesting and funny with being informative (we find out where a sloth comes from in the world) and is a great example of teamwork for children.

Three children find a sleeping animal in a tree one day.  They've never seen an animal like this one before and they set about trying to discover what type of animal it is and how to get it home.  I won't spoil the outcome of the story for you, but it's very sweet and enjoyable to read.

Both my boys enjoy this book.  Felix won't sit still for the whole story but he loves the illustrations and likes pointing out the different animals.  Ethan enjoys the story, liked finding out a bit more about sloths and says the book is "very beautiful",

I'd happily recommend this book, especially with Christmas around the corner!

Sloth Slept On retails at £10.99 and is available from Pavilion Books.

Trendy Thursday - H&M All For Children

For the last few years, H&M have launched a special collection of children's clothing and accessories in October called All For Children in collaboration (and to help raise funds for) UNICEF.  Each year, the collection is quite something so I was looking forward to this years collection.

Well, if you're on Instagram and love kids fashion, chances are you know just how amazing this years collection is.  With a woodland theme, there is hardly an item I haven't lusted after.  I was never going to be in a position to buy all of the items I wanted, but I was lucky enough to get a few.  The one item I really wanted but didn't manage to get was the bird cape.  Stunning item.. if anyone has one and doesn't want it, let me know!!

H&M All For Children UNICEF 2014
Image Source - H&M

I did get hold of these amazing boots and this fantastic bear hat.  Ethan is mad for the hat.  The boots are a little large yet so it'll be a while before you see him in them!

H&M All For Children UNICEF 2014 boots

H&M All For Children UNICEF 2014 Bear Hat

Some items are still available online and I'm planning on purchasing this top and legging set and this cool tshirt.

H&M All For Children UNICEF collection 2014
Image Source - H&M

H&M All For Children UNICEF collection 2014
Image Source - H&M

Do you have anything from the All For Children range?

Link up your kids fashion posts below.  Please don't forget to link to me in your blog post and/or display my badge.  I will comment on your post and tweet a link.  Thanks for joining in!

Sunday 23 November 2014

Family time at the playground

If we're ever stuck for something to do we fall back on an old favorite.  A playground.  Ethan always loves a run around in the fresh air, a chance to climb.  As Felix is getting older he is also starting to get into playgrounds.  Both boys love swings and climbing.  Playgrounds provide us with an easy way to spend some time together as a family.

We recently discovered a new playground in Tickenham, a village near us, that we hadn't visited before.  As the weather was nice (well, cold, but sunny and dry!) we decided this afternoon would be a great time to visit, so off we went!

We were pleasantly surprised with the playground.  It's hidden behind the village hall and there is plenty of parking.  There are quite a few walks in and around Tickenham so it's a great addition if you're children need a bit of extra fun before or after a walk!

Playdale Playground Equipment in Tickenham

In terms of play equipment, there is a large swing (I think the correct term is a "team swing"), a zip wire, a climbing frame with a slide and a timber framed adventure trail.  Something that appealed to me straight away was that the play equipment was mostly wooden.  It blended in with the natural environment.

Playdale Playground Equipment in Tickenham

Much of it was too "old" for Felix who is 18 months old but Ethan could have a good go on all of the equipment.  Both boys enjoyed the swing.  They were able to go on it together which was fun!

Playdale Playground Equipment in Tickenham

Ethan enjoyed the climbing frame, slide and adventure trail.

Playdale Playground Equipment in Tickenham

Playdale Playground Equipment in Tickenham

Playdale Playground Equipment in Tickenham

All in all we think it's a great addition to the area.  So lovely to know of another playground nearby that we can visit!  If you are one of my local readers then you might want to check it out - the playground is on Clevedon Road in Tickenham, behind the village hall.

Thursday 20 November 2014

Trendy Thursday - What I'd buy if I had the money..

Being a blogger comes with it's perks, there's no doubt about that.. but it also exposes you to all the wonders that are out there.  Particularly if you are into fashion.  I love fashion and clothing for myself but I'm even more into kids fashion as you know and there are so many wonderful brands and designers for kids.  So many fun clothes!!

If I had the spare cash, this is what I'd be splashing it on:

These amazing Tootsa MacGinty knits and wonderful Metsola monochrome top stocked by The Dandy Kid.  Love, love, LOVE!

These epic Christmas designs from Smafolk & JNY Designs stocked by Funky Little People:

This fantastic bedding and funky trousers from the super cool Beau L0ves:

These Oeuf fox mittens stocked by Scout & Co Kids:

This insanely amazing Mini Rodini coat stocked by Cissy Wears:

I could go on and on ad infinitum I think.  How about do?  Do you have a constant wishlist?  It can't just be me!

Link up your kids fashion posts below.  Please don't forget to link to me in your blog post - you can display my badge as well if you like, available on the right.  I do my best to visit your post and comment as soon as I can and tweet your links as well :-)  Happy styling!

Tuesday 18 November 2014

7 Healthy Italian Cooking Ideas Your Kids Will Love

Children are notorious for loving all types of Italian food -- from pizza and pasta to hearty lasagne. However, kids are kids, and they tend not to pay much attention to what they eat. As a parent, you can guarantee your children delicious Italian food with a healthy, nutritious edge. All of a child's favourite dishes can be cooked in light calorie versions. Don't worry; your kids will still enjoy Italian night if you cook it right!

1. Homemade Pizza Topped With Veggies

Pizza is an Italian staple adored by children and adults alike. However, a lot of pizza recipes are greasy and topped with cholesterol laden meats. If you focus on homemade pizza crust with light sauce, you can create the basis for a healthier pizza pie. Top your pie with healthy vegetables that the children like. Many kids love mushrooms, peppers and spinach as long as these ingredients are subtly added to the food.

2. Chicken Penne in a Light Sauce

Most kids love chicken when it's cooked right, and pasta is a regularly fun dish around the house. Try cooking whole grain penne pasta in a light red sauce. Also, make sure not to load the sauce onto the dish. You get enough flavour with less empty calories when using a small sauce amount. Top the pasta with chicken for an extra flavour of lean meat.

3. Vegetable Lasagne

Lasagne is delicious but often packed with fattening red meat. You can opt for vegetable lasagne with spinach and mushrooms instead. This will cut down on fats and introduce nutrition to the dish. Combine this with a small amount of cheese for added protein.

4. Try Turkey Meatballs With Your Spaghetti
People everywhere love spaghetti and meatballs, but this dish can be made even healthier with meatballs made from turkey instead of pork or beef. Turkey meatballs are lean meat alternatives, but kids still find them tasty. Test this idea out by swapping the usual meatballs with turkey meatballs to see your children's reactions.

5. Italian Subs With Whole-Grain Bread

Italian subs are a long-time favourite of sandwich lovers. However, they are often made with fattening dressings. You can keep the Italian meats and cheese on the sub, but to increase nutrition and cut down on unnecessary calories, replace any fattening dressing ingredients with olive oil. Your child will enjoy the wholesome taste of these healthy subs.

6. Tomato Soup the Italian Way

Tomato soup is a wholesome choice for children's lunches. You can top this soup with multiple flavorful ingredients, including garlic, basil and just a small amount of alphabet shaped pasta for extra fun. Your child will enjoy this simple, nutritious soup. Tomatoes are an Italian classic, and when placed in a soup, they provide excellent taste for any discerning young eater.

7. Chopped Italian Salad in a Light Dressing
Spinach, lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers can be combined with healthy vinaigrette dressings for the ultimate nutritious salad. Contrary to popular belief, children like salads if they are made correctly. They certainly do not have to be drenched in ranch dressing. Explore your dining options, and you will find several Italian-style salads your children will love.

If in a rush, you can find the best Italian deli that serves all the healthy goodness of Italian cooking, both you and your children will love!

Friday 14 November 2014

Top picks for Christmas with The Dandy Kid

One of my favorite online shops, The Dandy Kid, have shared with me their top picks for Christmas and the best thing is that not only do they stock amazing items, they have something for every budget!  I thought I'd share with you - after all, it's not long until the big day now!!

What did I tell you?  Amazing stuff, isn't it!  I adore the tents.  I want to get a tepee or tent for my boys but unfortunately I don't have the budget this year.  Hopefully for one of their birthdays!! If I were picking off this gorgeous list of suggestions I think a Metsola playsuit would make it's way into my basket along with something from Hello Apparel for me - hehe!!

Thursday 13 November 2014

Trendy Thursday - #Styleitkids week two!

I am still really enjoying #Styleitkids on Instagram (see last week's post for more details) and it's really cheering me up.  I am only getting around 4 hours sleep every night so am just about getting through the day.. each day I feel more like I'm surviving than living.  If I'm honest, it's really getting me down.  So, for me, at the moment, #Styleitkids is a little pick me up each morning.

This is what Felix & Ethan have been wearing over the last week:

Have you been joining in?

Link up your kids fashion posts below, I'll do my best to give you a shout out over Twitter but please forgive my short blog posts and general rubbishness whilst I'm coping with this lack of sleep...

Saturday 8 November 2014

Dropping the night feed - Night Two

Two nights down... but in that time, I've had less than one good nights sleep.  Woe.

How did last night go?  Well, it was made a lot harder by the fact that Ethan came home from school feeling very poorly.  The poor sole.  When I arrived to pick him up at the end of the school day he was beside himself, crying, sobbing and almost inconsolable.  He was complaining of a sore throat and a painful mouth.  I don't think it's the Hand, Foot & Mouth that Felix has had (though goodness knows because I've read that some children have it but don't display any of the traditional signs, they may just have a temperature, none of the rashes).  I think it's a bog standard cold/virus.  The trouble with my two is that as soon as they have a hint of illness their temperatures spike and they get very feverish.

Ethan calmed down when I got him home and got some calpol into him and he went to bed happily enough.  However, he woke up at 3am asking if he could have a wheat bag warmed up because he was freezing cold (his temperature indicated otherwise, but you know what fevers are like!).  I then spent two hours with him getting him back to sleep.  In the end he settled in bed with us and dropped off around 5am.  I tried to get to sleep and was just feeling drowsy when Felix woke at 5:30 am.  Pete went into him and offered him some water and a little cuddle.  He then left his room..

..cue 15 minutes of crying and grumbling.... As I'd been awake for quite a while at this point and I didn't want Ethan being woken again I decided to go in to Felix and try to calm him down a little.  I picked him up, gave him some more water and then sat with him in his chair for a while, cuddling him.  Once I felt he was calm, after about 10 minutes, I placed him back in his cot and rubbed his back for a few minutes.  I then left the room.  Unsurprisingly he kicked up a fuss but it wasn't like before and was really more of a grumble.

He carried on intermittently grumbling and chatting to himself until around 7am.  We were all starting to get drowsy again and on the verge of dropping off when Pete's alarm went off.. as it's Saturday and none of us work weekends there was no need for us to be woken up at 7am so this was rather unfortunate.  We think he put it on by mistake last night.. an autopilot thing!  Felix heard the alarm and of course, he associates it with "time to get up" so that was that really.  Time to start the day.  I'd been awake since 3am again!

Pete has taken Felix out for the day which is a blessing.  Ethan obviously isn't feeling up to doing anything, and needs to rest at home.  I'm looking after him.  It's quite nice really.  Obviously it's not the ideal way to spend time with your child, I don't like having ill children but I do enjoy spending time one on one with Ethan, especially since he started school.  We've been snuggling up on the sofa, eating home made rocky road (I had the ingredients in the cupboard and it's so easy to make!) and we've watched Elf.

Let's see what tonight brings!!  I'm hoping Ethan is well enough to sleep through which will hopefully mean I don't get tag teamed by the monkeys and get a bit more than 3 or 4 hours sleep.

Anyone else out there going through this just now?

Friday 7 November 2014

Dropping the night feed - Night One.

If you've read some of my recent posts, you'll be well aware of the fact that Felix does not sleep through at over 17 months old, apart from on 6 magical and random nights.  Every night he wakes at some point, it could be at any time from 1am - 5am and we've always gone in to him and given him a bottle of milk and settled him back down.

Until about 14 months old this wasn't too much of an issue.  He'd wake for his feed, one of us would pop in with the milk, feed him and then put him down again.  The feed would take about 10-15 minutes and often he'd fall asleep during it.  After putting him back in his cot whoever was feeding him would head back to bed and sleep on.  This was fine.  However,about three months ago, this pattern changed.  His feeds started taking a LOOOOOOOOONG time.  He'd be taking 45 minutes or more to drink the bottle.  Our reaction to this was to start just giving him the bottle in his cot and leaving him to it.  Not perfect, but it meant he was happy and we all got back to sleep.  Sorted.

And then... it wasn't sorted.  Not any more.  No.  About 6 weeks ago, Felix started happily drinking his milk in his cot but not falling asleep.  No, after the feed, he'd stay awake and start kicking up a fuss in his cot.  He wasn't screaming or super upset, he'd grumble, cry a bit, moan, go quiet, cry for a minute or two, moan, chat to himself, go quiet, cry, moan.  This would go on for up to two hours.  We're not sure why this started happening.  A wonder week?  A growth spurt?  Teething?  Either way, it was happening and it didn't stop.

The trouble is that when Felix is awake, I am awake.  I am sensitive to every move and sound he makes.  I've never needed to use a baby monitor, I've always woken up for both of my boys.  Often I wake just before they do, like some kind of sixth sense.  If he's crying and moaning, it's even worse.  Going in to him didn't seem to help.  What he really wanted was to fall asleep lying on me and be transferred to his cot... but this isn't a solution for us.

Everyone's sleep has been affected by these night wakings.  Ethan has been woken several times.  Often what happens is that Felix will wake at about 4am, be awake and making noise until about 6am at which point he'll drop off and Ethan will wake up.

For the last few weeks I've felt like the walking dead.  Normally I am a night owl, for years I've not gone to bed later earlier than midnight.  Sometimes I would work on my blog until 1 or 2am once a week.  I can no longer do this.  Most nights I am now in bed by 9:30-10pm which is super early for me.  I feel like I am surviving life rather than living it.  I am constantly tired and yawning.  I feel like everything is suffering.  I don't have the time or energy that I'd like for my blog.  I feel sluggish and don't feel like I have the brainpower or energy to deal with my boys.

I've had enough.  After a discussion with Pete, we've decided to try to cut the night feed out.  It's not helping Felix get back to sleep any more.  He's 17 months old, he really shouldn't need to have 7oz of milk to get him through the night.  We've tried watering it down in an attempt to make it not worth waking up for, but that hasn't worked.  We decided it was time to go cold turkey.  Just not give him a feed.

Last night, Thursday night, we decided to do it.  No night feed!! So, what happened?

Well... it was pretty tiring, I can tell you that much!  Felix woke at 3am.  I went in to him.  I picked him up, gave him a few sips of water from his water bottle and gave him a quick cuddle,  I then placed him back in his cot and patted him on the back for a minute.  Then I left the room..

At first, he was quiet.. but only for a minute or two.  He cried a bit, then called out for me.  He spent a good why calling:

"Mummy! Mummy! Cuggle!!! Cuggle!".

Then he'd go quiet for a bit.

He cried and grumbled on and off for an hour and a half.  I didn't go back in to him because I felt he never reached the point of true upset.  Don't get me wrong, I don't like hearing him crying and calling out for me.  It's horrible.  But at the same time, for my sanity, I need him to sleep so I can sleep.

After an hour and a half he spent 15 minutes quietly chatting to himself and then, a little while before 5am he fell asleep again.

I never fell asleep again.  I am sitting here typing this feeling even more exhausted than ever after 3 and a half hours sleep.  Big boo :-(

I am hoping, praying even, that tonight, when he wakes (and I have no doubt he will wake) that he doesn't take quite so long to go back to sleep.  I hope that I'm doing the right thing.  I'm already on medication for anxiety.  I really REALLY need to be able to sleep properly again.  I have had enough and I feel very worn down and low.

Thursday 6 November 2014

Trendy Thursday - #styleitkids

Writing up today's Trendy Thursday is easy!! Have you been joining in with the awesome taggy held by Innocent Charmer and KyNa Boutique on Instagram?  It's something fun to join in with.  The two lovely ladies have come up with a prompt for each day and you post a relevant pic with the tag #styleitkids.  It's cooking up a stylish storm!

These are the photos I've shared so far:

#Styleitkids Beau Loves Converse Donna Wilson Polarn O Pyret Mini Rodini

Details clockwise from top left:

Top - Beau Loves

Shoes - various

Geo print infinity scarf - My Mila Baby
Yellow Gilet - Tesco
Shorts - Marmalade Sky
Stripy tights - Polarn O Pyret

Snake vest - Mini Rodini
Yellow trousers - Charity Shop

Have you been joining in?  If not, there's plenty of time, it runs for the whole of November.  See Kara or Jenny's accounts for more info!

In the meantime, you can link up your kids fashion posts below!  Please do comment and visit others who join in!

Tuesday 4 November 2014

The Truth

There are so many things that we parents are recommended (told!) to do with our children.  So much advice.  So many ways in which we end up doubting ourselves, worrying, wondering HOW we can do "the right thing".  I know I do!

I thought I would share some of my truths.  I know all of the advice and yet there are some things I do with my children that aren't recommended.  I bet you do to!  I thought it might be helpful to have something out there that says; "It's OK!  I don't follow all of the advice either!".

Let me start by saying that advice and recommendations to of course have their place, but so often it serves to make us feel worse.  It can block us from following our gut instincts.  I feel that you have to pick your battles when bringing up children.  Some things are worth worrying about, some things not quite so much!

Here are my truths:

Felix does not sleep through.  He is 17 months old and apart from on 6 freak occasions, he has not and does not sleep through the night.  He always wakes once.  He often wakes twice.  If he's ill he might be awake every hour.

Felix still has milk in the night.  All advice states that children DO NOT need milk in the night at this age.  That is probably true.  It is something we want to wean him off and once he is over his current illness we will be putting a plan into action, however, at the moment he is 17 months old and drinks 7oz of milk at some point during the night.  It helps him sleep and get through the night.  That means we (generally) get more sleep.

Felix still drinks from a bottle with a teat.  Shock! Horror!! Phone up social services now!  He is perfectly capable of drinking from all other types of cups and bottles but when it comes to his milk, he likes his bottle.  He won't drink it if I offer it in any other type of bottle/cup.  Sometimes I worry about it a little.  I know it's not perfect, I know it goes against advice.  But it is his one comfort (other than Mummy and Daddy).  He isn't attached to a toy or a taggy or a dummy.  He loves his bottle.  Loves it.  Ethan used his bottle until he was nearly 3.  I used a bottle until I was 4 (only to have a cup of tea in!!).  My teeth are fine.  I am 32 and have never had a filling or a tooth out.  Ethan's teeth are also in excellent condition.

My 17 month old still uses a bottle!

Felix doesn't always self settle for naps and bedtime.  Sometimes he goes in his cot awake.  Sometimes he goes in asleep.  Before nap and bed Felix has his milk and he often falls asleep during it.  I then put him in his cot.  If he goes in awake he cries and moans for a bit but not normally for too long.

There you have it.  A few truths from me.  Yes, I doubt myself.  I often think that I'd rather he didn't use a bottle or slept through.  But I also tell myself this isn't forever.  He won't use a bottle forever.  I don't use one!  As he gets older he'll drop milk feeds from his day and the bottle will go naturally, just like it did with Ethan.  As for the night feed, there will be a way to get rid of it when we're ready.  It might mean a tough few nights but it is possible.  We just have to be ready to do it!

Is there anything you do that isn't strictly recommended?