Monday, 1 September 2014

#MeetAMum - Jodie from Life with Pink Princesses

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I've loved being able to introduce you to new mums through my #meetamum regular feature and I have loved the support and reaction I have had from people too. If you'd be interested in taking part, or if you have any suggestions on what you would like to see in future posts, then please leave me a comment or talk to me on Twitter.

Right, let's get on with today's guest blogger. She goes by the name of Jodie and she's a proud mama to two, soon to be three, princesses...

1. Hello, what's your name and where do you come from?

Hi!! My name is Jodie. I'm 21 but very nearly 22. I was born and raised in Essex but made the decision to leave for a Kent lifestyle in September 2013.

2. Tell us about your children.

I have two daughters. My eldest Princess 1 was born prematurely on Christmas Eve 2008. My second daughter Princess 2 was born in February 2013. We also have another daughter due for arrival this October. My girls have very different personalities and are both very cheeky.

3. When did you know you wanted to be a mum?

I didn't. I found out I was pregnant at the tender age of 15. From the moment I saw P1 on the scan I knew I wanted to be a mum no matter what life decided to throw at me. Since that day my children have been my absolute world!

4. What's your favourite moment as a mum so far?

All the "firsts". They make you want to cry with happiness and sadness all at once. Realising they are growing up far too quickly. Despite all the tantrums and arguments we have, I do enjoy being a mum.

5. What do you wish people had told you before you became a mum?

That I'd never be able to have a bath, go to the toilet or do pretty much anything without a child attached to my leg or demanding something.

6. If we were to look in your changing bag, what would we find?


Spare set of clothes for P2.
Three crumpled nappies.
Half a packet of Tesco Value baby wipes.
Wrappers from a packet of crisps and chocolate snack I took to London.
Changing mat.
Anti-bacterial hand gel.
Tampons (I haven't taken them out from before I was pregnant, mainly in case someone else needed one?!)
A dummy.
House keys and purse.
Nappy sacks.

7. What were the top three things you had for your baby that you would recommend to other mums?

1) Boobies!! Seriously, I'd recommend breastfeeding to any mother. I do understand that sometimes it just doesn't work out, but really persevere because it's so much cheaper and so much more convenient than bottles. 

2) GroBag. It gave me peace of mind and P2 slept better (pffftttt, she still wakes twice a night and always has... at least!) when wearing her GroBag. Plus, it's safer than blankets.

3) Cot bed. Although we did have a Moses basket and did cosleep at the start with P2, for both my girls I've had cot beds and would highly recommend them. It saves so much money.

8. What three things could you have done without?

1) Cotton Wool. I was told not to use baby wipes during the first day... It's rubbish. Pack those wipes!!!!

2) Baby Books. What's the internet for?! Plus they only scared me as a first time mum. Talk to real mums, not just one or two... Loads!

3) Booties/Baby Shoes. What a pointless item invented. Babies don't walk! They certainly don't need more shoes than me.

9. What baby brands do you like and why?

Fisher-Price. I'm currently a Fisher-Price Mum and have been testing products. I also review for them on my blog and have a strong relationship. But I mostly like them because we haven't had one issue with any of their products. I think they're pretty damn amazing!!

I'm also really into Lansinoh and Medela. They have a fantastic and reliable range of breastfeeding equipment/accessories.

10. Are you a working mum? If so, how do you find it?

I was with my first. It gave me the independence and time apart that I actually really needed. It was tiring and sometimes upsetting to know that the childcare provider had witnessed certain milestones before me but the whole situation certainly benefited the both of us. I'm now a stay at home mum, we own our own cloth nappy company and I blog every single day, nearly. Being a mum is the hardest job in the world.

11. What do you enjoy most about being mum?

The times when they surprise you with something new or say something so sweet after you've nearly pulled all of your own hair out just trying to get them dressed. I say them... I really mean my eldest at the moment. It was only today that P2 woke up and immediately said to me "up", it was 6am but the newness of this word just melted my heart and I had to get up.

12. How do you make time for being 'you'?

Honestly, I don't. My "me time" involves watching the telly with my husband whilst doing a bit of sewing. Although I get some good "me time" whilst cleaning the bathroom!!

13. Tell us about your blog / what you do / where we can find you online?

My blog, Life With Pink Princesses, is all about my life. I created it as a way of expressing my thoughts and feelings. It's really helped to keep me sane during times of no sleep or hospital visits with P1. I'm a bit of a social media addict. You'll find me daily on Twitter and Instagram. I'm also Facebook but not so regular there at the moment as I find I get more interaction through the other streams. I love interactions!

14. What's the best thing about being a blogger / what you do?

The best thing... There's loads of things I love about being a blogger. I would be lying if I said it wasn't the free products we review, but ultimately and most of all I love talking to other people through blog comments and social media.

15. Share a crazy fact about yourself.

I'm only 4ft 8in tall. That's about as crazy as my life gets.

Thank you so much Jodie, it was great to hear more about your little family and lots of luck for princess number three. I don't know how you do it, what a lady!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

#mysundayphoto - selfie photobomb!

It's getting increasingly hard to take photos of Ethan, particularly together with hubs or myself, as he's easily distracted and always on the move. This photo was just a simple selfie but at the last minute, Ethan decided to try and press the camera buttons himself and our dog, Watson, decided to sneak in and get in on the action. It's not the best photo but it's unplanned and captures a funny family moment nonetheless.


Saturday, 30 August 2014

ELC Happyland - top toy picks for toddler boys

A little while ago, I wrote about Ethan being at an inbetweener stage and how we were struggling to find new toys for him that were engaging but not too advanced or fiddly for his age (you can see my top toddler toy tips here).

We then found Happyland and everything changed. It's suitable for 18 months to 3 years although there's no reason we can see for Ethan not to play with these toys now.

It's a really fun and engaging range that has everything from people and animal figures through to small buildings, interactive playmats and larger toys. There's around 55 different products or sets to buy in the current range so there's plenty of choice and Ethan already has a few things in his collection.

All photos source from ELC

He has the interactive playmat, with tour bus, tourists, policeman and safari and farm animals, plus a set of construction vehicles and workers.

Dare I say it, I've even bought his main Christmas present. In August. I know, I know, but at the moment the Happyland range has 20% off, to celebrate Early Learning Centre's 40th birthday. It was too good a deal to miss and I had some vouchers to spend so snapped up Ethan's main Christmas present - the Happyland train set. The staff told me that a extension pack will be available for it soon and I also learned that every figure in the range is painted by hand.

I also have my eye on the table, as it would be useful to have a set play area for Ethan and his Happyland toys, and the pirate ship also looks a lot of fun.The prices of the range are great too, particularly for the figure and vehicle sets, and I think Happyland will be on Ethan's Christmas list to Santa for sure.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Making more of memories

One of the phrases I use to in describe myself - you know, when you have to write about a mini bio about yourself in 140 characters of less - is 'picture taking, memory making'. I've always loved photos, spending hours looking through the meticulously kept albums of my Grandfather and the time-weathered family scrapbooks of my Mother. I love being able to look back to a moment in time, taking the chance to reflect or remember a memory, a person, a place, a time. That's why I've always kept albums of my own, although I am rather behind, why I'm starting our family scrapbook and why I love Instagram so much (you can follow me at ToBecomeMum).

I, like many of my generation, am literally glued to my phone most of the day but beyond staying connected and being social, it's all about photos. I never want to miss a moment which is why I went for one of the best camera phones available (a Lumia 1020, if you'd like to know) as I use my phone as a camera much more these days than as a phone. I love my DSLR camera, which comes out on special occasions, but you can't beat a good camera phone for capturing a moment in an instant, no planning required.

Sometimes, you want to make more of a memory. You want the photos of your past to talk to you, to tell you more about what happened after that photo was taken, to remind you why you were there, who was taking the photo and how you felt at the time. Photos are signposts of our past and the many ways we can share them now is just amazing, but sometimes you just want more. For that reason, I am so grateful to have our wedding video, as well as our photos, as it captures that special day in a unique way.

However, now you can bring photos to life. You can give them a backstory. You can let them take you back to a time and place. You can make them speak your own words.

I recently discovered the Memory Box Stories app and I am so glad that I did. Being obsessed with photos, and a habitual over-sharer keen to post / tweet / share a moment as soon as it happens, any new app that let's you have fun with your photos is an exciting one for me.

What's the story with the Memory Box Stories app? Well, it's a very simple but rather lovely idea. You select up to 10 photos, record some audio and then let the app create a video montage. That's it. Such a simple idea but one that you think to yourself 'why hasn't this been done before?'. It's also rather addictive.

When you sign up, you're able to create 20 videos for free. Up to 10 photos per video. Up to five minutes of audio per video. You can the. Choose to subscribe either monthly or annually so that you can create an unlimited number of stories.

You create a profile to share your videos on and you can make these public, using the categories and location tags to help them come up in searches, or you can keep them private. Either way, they live on your profile and you can share them with your friends, family or followers via a link.

I've made a few stories already - they're not perfect but that doesn't matter. I'm looking forward to making more as time goes on, with the chance to listen back and hear in my own words, and those of my friends and family, the story behind the photos.

There's lots planned for the app in the future too. At the moment, it's very straightforward and the functions are very simple. This makes it easy to use but there's a lot more you could do to bring your photos to life in this way so it's exciting to see what else may be added. The hope is that you will soon be able to save drafts and that the app will be available to devices other than the iPhone/iPad.

As I said, it's addictive to use, not only to make your own stories but to see other people's stories too. Whether you're going to visit somewhere or want to see what a friend has been up to, there's lots of stories to be told. I like the format of the app; it makes it extremely accessible and can be used to bring so many photos, perhaps some forgotten, to life.

Memory Box Stories is available on iTunes to download for free, with up to 20 stories included, after which a small subscription fee of £1.49 per month or £9.99 for the year applies to make unlimited stories.

So go on, make more of your memories.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Boost your iron

I'm on a bit of a health kick of late, at least I'm trying. I really love juicing and I've been doing a lot of reading about good things to add to my diet and supplements that can help boost my health in a variety of ways.

I need to make some improvements to my eating habits, as I'm really good when I have time or can be bothered to make meals from scratch (not always easy if I am home alone with the little man or on the road for work) and I do need to get my bum into gear when it comes to fitness. I've started the 30 Day Shred workout, although by no means can I do this everyday. But at least it's a start.

I'm a big fan of Udo's Choice as you probably know (a great Omega3 oil supplement) and I'm giving coconut oil a go in my cooking after hearing so many amazing things. 

Another new addition to my diet comes in the form of  a liquid food supplement, packed full of iron and vitamin C. Spatone combines 100% natural iron-rich water (sourced from the mountains of Snowdonia no less) with added vitamin C to help your body absorb as much iron as possible.

I started taking Spatone as I wanted to give my energy and concentration levels a boost; something I can struggle with, particularly after a sleepless night brought on by Ethan's teething or a long day at work. 

Iron is an essential mineral that transports oxygen around your body and can help with vitality and the release of energy. It's also important for the maintenance of a healthy immune system and to help sustain concentration levels.

The Spatone Liquid Iron Supplement sachets I've been taking are flavoured with apple and can be taken direct or added to water if you prefer. It's best taken on an empty stomach and I have been adding a sachet to my morning juices, to give them an added boost of goodness. 

Each sachet contains 5mg of iron with a high absorption rate of up to 40% (far greater than the rate you can absorb it from most foods) and they're great to have on the go if you need a pick me up. I have a couple in my desk at work and in my handbag too and feel they give me a boost. For me, knowing I'm getting the right vitamins, minerals and nutrients is important and if I'm putting good things in, then I know I'm doing what I can and should see the benefits as a result.

I'm enjoying taking the Spatone Apple sachets and they're really easy to add into your routine. They're also a great option if you're pregnant and want to boost your iron intake.

Here's some expert advice for you if you are expecting. Spatone has partnered up with midwife Maggie Evans to help parents navigate through the nine months with handy tips on for the different trimesters:

1st Trimester Tips
  • Remember Folic Acid is recommended for all pregnant women. Best started before pregnancy, but do commence as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed.
  • Get serious about your nutrition – is absolutely essential for a healthy pregnancy and your baby’s development, but it’s quality not quantity that counts – you only need an extra 300 calories from 5 months onwards.
  • Your first blood tests will be due in early pregnancy – this check includes your blood group, iron and rubella amongst other important tests. Now is a good time to start your daily Spatone to help maintain iron levels during your pregnancy.

2nd Trimester Tips
  • If you have been suffering from some of the pregnancy ailments such as nausea and tiredness, the good news is that for most woman these should start to ease off in the next few weeks.
  • You will have probably been excited to have heard your baby’s heartbeat at your antenatal visit and felt your baby moving for the first time. At around 20 weeks you will be offered a scan to check your baby’s development, which provides you with an opportunity to have a peek at your baby too if you wish.
  • Although your body is adjusting to your pregnancy and you will have put on some weight, it is still important to ensure you get plenty of exercise and fresh air and a good night’s sleep daily.
  • There is often a lot going on – so make a list of questions for your antenatal visits and discuss any concerns with your midwife.

3rd Trimester Tips
  • You may find difficulty in sleeping due to to discomfort – try experimenting with pillows and wedges in your bed.
  • It is still important to continue to eat healthily right until the end of your pregnancy. Now is the time when your baby’s brain is rapidly developing – essential fatty acids and iron are crucial for brain health.
  • Iron demands rise steeply in the 3rd trimester so now is the time to increase your Spatone to two sachets daily.
  • As you get nearer your due date you may experience an increase in Braxton Hicks contractions, heartburn and backache, although uncomfortable, these are all signs that your pregnancy hormones are active and busy preparing your body for birth – so just be patient and await events.
  • Lastly, don’t forget to pack your birthing necessities well in advance and make sure you include your birth plan if you have made one.

So, if you're energy levels are flagging or you want to top up your iron, I'd thoroughly recommend you give Spatone a go. A box of 28 sachets (a month's supply) is priced around £8.25 and you can find out where to buy online here.

*Note: I was sent a box of Spatone Apple sachets to try but as ever, I speak the truth!

Monday, 25 August 2014

#MeetAMum - Lucinda from Teacher2Mummy

Happy Bank Holiday everybody! I am pleased to introduce to you one of my blogging pals today as my latest #meetamum guest post. I have spoken to her for quite some time now over the blogosphere / Twittersphere and we finally met at BritMums Live. She's a fab blogger and an all-round lovely lady so without further ado, let's settle down and get to know Lucinda from Teacher2Mummy a little better...

1. Hello, what's your name and where do you come from?
Hi J I’m Lucinda, originally from Watford Herts. Currently living in  South West London, although we’re hoping to move out of the big smoke by the end of the year/early 2015.

2. Tell us about your children.
I have one little dude, Eliot Jude (I didn’t mean for that to rhyme) who’s 13 months old.

3. When did you know you wanted to be a mum?
Since I was a little girl, I loved playing with dolls ‘being a mummy’. I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a mum some day.

4. What's you favourite moment as a mum so far?
Just watching my son grow and learn. It’s amazing how much they change within the first year and how much they accomplish. If I had to pick one thing I would say hearing Eliot laugh, it’s the most heart warming thing!

5. What do you wish people had told you before you became a mum?
That breastfeeding was hard and not to feel guilty if it didn’t work out.

6. If we were to look in your changing bag, what would we find?
Ha, I uploaded a video a couple of days ago! The usual paraphernalia, nappies, wipes, purse phone, changing mat, hand sanitizer, teething stuff, bibs…I could go on! Just everything I need when I’m out and about with Eliot.

7. What were the top three things you had for your baby that you would recommend to other mums?
1) A crib, it lasts longer than a Moses basket.
2) Muslins.
3) Sudocream.

8. What three things could you have done without?
1) Pram shoes!!! As adorable as they are they are just pointless and end up sat in a drawer.
2) A Mamas & Papas material covered changing mat. Gorgeous but not practical.
3) A baby carrier, we only used it a handful of times.

9. What baby brands do you like and why?
I love Tommee Tippee, they’re a high quality brand and you can find many of their products at excellent prices in baby & toddler events/sales.

I’m  a fan of OXO Tot, they do a fab weaning range that is also high quality.

I also love The Gro Company as we utilise their products on a daily basis.

10. Are you a working mum? If so, how do you find it?
I went back to teaching part time in April but I resigned, so I will be doing supply teaching part time for a little while until we move out of London.

Even though I only worked three days I found it incredibly hard, I don’t know how some mums do five plus days. 

Personally I couldn’t cope with the demands of a full time teacher and being a mum. The nature of the job would also mean I would spend little time with Eliot during the week and I don’t want that.

11. What do you enjoy most about being mum?
Watching Eliot flourish, it is the most incredible thing to create another human being and it is magical to watch them grow.

12. How do you make time for being 'you'?
This I’m not great at. My OH and I are both unorganised so we aren’t always savvy with our time. Once Eliot has gone to bed I like to have some ‘me time’ watching TV, catching up on other blogs or blogging myself.

13. Tell us about your blog / where we can find you online.
My blog is called Teacher2Mummy, it’s everything parent and lifestyle! You can find it at

14. What's the best thing about being a blogger?
The best thing about being a blogger has to be the friendships made with other bloggers. I was lucky enough to meet a good few (including Kelly)  at BritMums Live back in June.

15. Share a crazy fact about yourself.

At Little Britain Live a few years back, I was crazy enough to put my hand up to be dragged on stage with Matt Lucas as Marjorie Dawes. No one else volunteered and I was waving my arms around like a crazy woman! He had no choice but to pick me.

Thanks Lucinda! It was great to have you guest posting today and I urge everyone to head over to your blog now... go on, go!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

#mysundayphoto - my boys

The rather lovely Aby at You Baby Me Mummy posted a very useful Linky list which is great for someone like me who can't seem to keep track with all the fun things going on over on other people's posts. I saw that One Dad 3 Girls does a #mysundayphoto Linky, similar to #silentsunday, so I thought I would join in.

The photo below is of my hubs and little man when we went to the park earlier this week. It captures how difficult it is to actually take a photo of Ethan these days, as he's always looking around him, distracted by all sorts. This time, he was asking his Dad for more food, as we were having a picnic. It's just a natural photo of my boys and it makes me smile.

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