Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Little L is 18 months

Just before Christmas we caught a cold that meant that most of the time we spent in a miserable mood and L didn't really want to eat or play or do anything else apart from being attached to me.

L is being her extremely active self and won't sit still for long, won't be interested in a book or a toy for more than 5 minutes, which to me sounds normal as I'm used to it, but some say that I should discuss this with a doctor.

Lots of months of stress about L's eating habits caught up on me this month as L lost her interest in eating soups for lunch. Normally I would make vegetable soup for her with different types of meat but the older she gets the more she wants to eat independently and normally it ends in lots of tears as I insist on eating and L insist on holding a spoon herself, which I don't mind. Once I give her a spoon she would mess with the food and won't eat it. We have tried distrusting her, eating on my lap instead of highchair but nothing seems to be working..

Any advice on how we can tackle eating issue?

Monday, 28 December 2015

What to do with unwanted Christmas gifts?!

As some of you may know I'm a very practical person, I prefer to do gift wish lists for my daughter's Christmas or birthday even though I avoided it this year I think it's a geniunly good idea to let the gifter know if there is anything you want in particular than to be disappointed with the present. 
Of course we are all grateful for the company, food and gifts we have received for Christmas or birthday but I won't lie I was quite disappointed with what L has received as every single gift she was given was a duplicate of what she already has or I bought her for Christmas. 
As L opened/ripped her presents I cant take them back to the shop but we thought of an alternative- to keep them at in laws as she would need to play with something there. 
When in comes to presents for adults it can be a slightly different story, here is what I do and what you can do as well if you are unhappy with your presents:

1. Return them back to the shop/exchange. Sometimes gifts come with a tag or receipt which can be really helpful. You can always take an item back or exchange it either for a different item or ask for a store credit.

2. Sell on Ebay. I haven't actually done it, but I can see why some can consider this as an option. You can sell unwanted gift and spend the money on something you actually need or use them to buy something for a gifter's birthday or Christmas.

3. Gift it to a charity. It could be a great way to help a charity you support.

4. Re-gift. When I buy gifts I always think about the giftee, what they like and would prefer but of course there is a chance that a giftee doesn't like my present.  
I have done re-gifting for many years now, top tip is to remember or to write down who gave you the gift originally. My mum once gave her work colleague a Christmas gift and by the end of the working day a different person gave her- her own gift, awkward!

5. You can offer your unwanted gifts on freecycle websites or your local freecycle facebook pages, but be careful some people are appear to be scammers and can either waste your time or sell your unwanted gift.

6. Keep the gift for you little one, one day when they are older they may appreciate it more. 

Have you ever considered any of these options?

Friday, 25 December 2015

Bepanthen goodies Christmas giveaway

I have an exciting giveaway for you, my lovely readers! I have a goody bag full of Bepanthen products! 

"We all understand that harsh winter weather can play havoc with our own skin- but have you ever thought about the impact it has on your baby’s delicate skin?  Health Visitor and Paediatric Nurse, Nicola Joseph, is here to give you her baby winter skincare tips, so you can help keep your baby comfortable during the cold, winter months.

1. Babies are much more sensitive to a change in temperature than we are, and it can be tricky dressing them for the cold winter months when you know you will be going from a warm, centrally 
heated environment to the harsh outside air. To help you manage this, it’s best to dress your Little One in layers that can be added and removed easily as you move from temperature to 

2. Just as babies can be prone to heat rash in the hot summer months, they can also get heat rash in the winter from wearing too many clothes or swaddled in heavy blankets. Babies are particularly susceptible to this if they are warmly dressed and in one particular place or position for a long period of time- such as a car seat. To avoid this, ensure you are dressing them in breathable, natural fibres, and try to ensure that they only have cotton next to their skin.

3. Too much bath-time fun can dry your Little One’s skin out, particularly during the winter months- so try to keep bathing limited to two or three times a week– particularly when they are young.  
There’s no need to use any products in the bath as these can be particularly drying.  If your LO’s skin is feeling a little dry, straight after the bath use a ‘free from’ moisturiser such as Bepanthen Baby Moisturiser with a mild gentle formula that’s been developed specifically for new born babies or those with extra sensitive skin.

4. When washing your LO’s clothes, use a gentle, fragrance-free fabric wash and conditioner to keep her clothes feeling soft against her skin. This is particularly important during the winter months when she is likely to be covered up for most of the day and night.

5. Don’t forget, although the temperature may be cold, if the sun is shining you should still protect your baby’s face with a good, high protection, sun lotion such as Bepanthen Baby Sun Cream".

Now to the giveaway! For your chance to win your own Christmas themed giveaway, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below (the competition ends on 8 January 12am):

a Rafflecopter giveaway Good luck! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Arts & Crafts: Felt Christmas tree

I have seen this idea on Facebook and thought that it's a great alternative to a real or artificial Christmas tree. L is an active and adventurous toddler and I can envisage her pulling all the baubles from the Christmas tree and eventually knocking the tree down, to avoid this I have spend few minutes making a felt Christmas tree.

The principal is very simple, it is a space-saver Christmas tree which can be attached to almost any surface be it a wall, door or a window. I liked it as I saw an educational element in creating such tree as your toddler learns what Christmas tree is, why it is there on the wall and learns about colours (if you add different felt baubles). 

Unfortunately we are unwell and I didn't have a chance to cut a star for the top and baubles, but if you have a spare moment and supplies it is achievable in an hour or so.

To create felt Christmas tree I have ordered 1/2 meters of dark green felt from Ebay which costs £1.42 as far as I remember, which is much cheaper comparing to a competitive craft shop. You will also need a dry soap (dry soap is a great alternative to chalk or marker pen), scissors and a ruler
I used the floor as my "working table" as it was easier for me to see how straight the line and triangle is. I had to improvise as I didn't have a ruler handy and used a playhouse shatters window to draw the lines with a dry soap.  I started with the line at the bottom, picked a middle point at the top and drew 2 long lines from the bottom line corners to the middle point. 
Once the triangle was done I had to cut it with scissors, I would advise to use sharp scissors otherwise it would be difficult to cut it straight. 
Once the Christmas tree shape was cut I attached few velcro pads to the back side, you can use white tack or sellotape depending on the surface, but be warned your toddler may want to chew on white tack.

I'm glad actually that I didn't do accessories as L keeps pulling the Christmas tree, it spends more time on the floor than on a wall, but I'm still hoping that once L is used to seeing it she will let it go and enjoy it for what it is.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Little L's Christmas Wishlist 2015

This year I'm a little bit more relaxed about what our relatives are going to get for L, if you remember last year I made a wishlist which I have forwarded to everyone and we ended up having random gifts.
Here is the list of toys I think are appropriate for Christmas, not so expensive and will be played with a lot!

Ebay Wooden Cars Click Clack Track
Pimp My Stroller frenchie toy stroller 
Playmobil police car

Which toy do you like the most?

Friday, 18 December 2015

Christmas Gift guide: Fairy Tale Gourmet

I would like to finish my Christmas gift guide on a sweet note, literally. Few weeks ago I came across Fairy Tale Gourmet chocolate company and their eye-catching fairy tales sweet collection.

 "Fairy Tale Gourmet is an award-winning, London-based company leading in innovation of high-end chocolates, desserts, and other original gourmet creations, offering a unique experience inspired by the literature of fairy tales.

Based on extensive research on international cuisines our team has developed exclusive recipes, transforming fairy tales into a new adventure of flavours. Each product has a story to tell, through contemporary designs and sophisticated presentation.
We have worked with Harrods, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and retailers in Europe, in the USA and the Middle-East".

"Our cakes vary from rich and moist brownies to soft and fluffy sponges, including an egg-free recipe with one the most powerful antioxidants in the world: Fo-Ti. This ingredient is prepared from a rare plant that grows in the mountains of central and southern China. Health benefits surround this incredible tonic herb and it is known for reversing grey hair. Also, the Himalayan Pink Salt used in our recipes has a rich mineral content".

These are just few of their creations:

So cute and I bet so tasty!!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Arts & Crafts: handprint and footprint salt dough Christmas


I wanted to do this for a while now, as I thought it could be a lovely way of explaining to L basics of Christmas and could be a great Christmas present for our close family members. 

I tried to create Santa and Rudolph as seen on Pinterest but I have decided that I should let L decide what will be created on the ornament as family will appreciate it more than my weird artwork. As it is work in progress here are 2 ornaments we (I) made so far.

It is very easy to do if you follow the correct recipe:

- 1/2 cup of salt
- 1/2 cup of flour
- 1/4 cup of water
- mix and knead the dough, add a little bit of flour if sticky
- cut the dough onto small pieces/balls
- use rolling pin or a bottle to create a round shape
- put your little one's hand or foot firmly onto the ornament
- cut the excess 
- put in the oven for 2-3 hours under 100 degrees
- paint once dry

What I have learnt from the process: I need to relax and let L create the ornaments, I need to find better paints (I used acrylics).

Monday, 14 December 2015

Christmas Gift guide: Macy Boo Gifts freestanding reindeer

Last weekend I started to decorate the house for Christmas, we have a tin Christmas tree, few plain wooden decorations courtesy of my mother in law and a cute freestanding reindeer courtesy of Macy Boo Gifts on our fireplace.

"Hayley is a mum to little Macy Boo who will be 4 in February. Originally started to make a few things to sell when Macy was 1yrs old to help buy her clothes, take her on little holidays etc. The business just grew and grew and now Macy Boo Gifts have around 10,000 followers!!! Hayley still works at the local hospital 3 days a week and works at Macy Boo Gifts in between".
I have picked to review a freestanding reindeer as they can be personalised with the name or a small message for example "Merry Christmas" and will be a great decoration for a shelf or a fire place. 

Freestanding engraved reindeer is made of MDF, hand painted in red, finished with golden polka dots and gold or silver engraving and a dust of glitter to sparkle.

This cute and not so little reindeer has a button nose and jingle bells decorations on his neck and comes in 2 sizes 15cm tall (£12) or 20cm tall (£15).

Macy Boo Gifts make great decorations for any occasion, if you are a last minute person give Hayley a nudge and maybe she will be able to sort something out for you, but hurry!

Disclaimer: I was sent the item mentioned above for the purpose of this review/gift guide. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Lapland Mailroom Letter from Santa giveaway

Last year we had exciting collaboration with Lapland Mailroom, you can read all about it here. This year I have teamed up with Lapland Mailroom to offer you a chance to win your own personalised letter from Santa (starting from £7.95).

"There's nothing like the magic of a letter from Santa to light up every child's face this Christmas. A personal greeting from Santa as they open their presents will add even more joy and laughter to the happy day.

Each Lapland Mailroom Pack includes a very special personalised Letter From Santa / Father Christmas Letter, each traditionally designed letter from Santa is printed on high quality bespoke Christmas paper and has many personal references that enhances the excitement of Christmas for your child. There is a choice of 4 different letters which are all written slightly differently so siblings do not receive exactly the same letter!"

For your chance to win your own Christmas themed giveaway, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below (the competition ends on 14 December 12am):

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Geronimo festival is back!

I have a very exciting announcement to make- I will be attending Geronimo Festival (children's festival) in May 2016 as a Geronimo blogger ambassador for the Tatton Park events! I have read a lot about the festival last year and as L is a very musical child we thought that it would be amazing for her to attend Geronimo festival!
I will be sharing pre-festival announcements, festival news and our impressions so stay tuned!

"Following a hugely successful first festival in 2015, Geronimo is proud to announce it is not only returning to Tatton Park in Cheshire for a second year in 2016, but it also has a new second home at Harewood House, just outside Leeds.

Taking place over the weekends of 1-2 May (Harewood House) and 29-30 May (Tatton Park), Geronimo is back, bigger and better with a huge programme of events lined up for both venues.

Set against the wonderful woodland backdrops of two of England’s premier visitor attractions, Geronimo will yet again be delivering an exciting array of acts, amazing experiences and wonderful adventures, including lots of new attractions – all resulting in a fantastic family day out.

Festival Director, Simon Goldman said: “After the huge success of Geronimo at Tatton Park in 2015, we decided to look for another venue to give even more families the chance to enjoy the Geronimo experience. As a father of seven, I know how hard it is to find quality days out that cater for the whole family. With Geronimo, we’ve created a festival that’s going to keep the kids entertained all day long, and create memories that will last a lot longer. 

Expect a line up jam packed with some of the biggest names in children’s entertainment, a brand new theatre and literary zone with award winning productions and a second stage featuring live music. And there are hundreds of other crazy and unusual activities like giant Tortoise encounters, stone carving and a crime scene for kids to solve. This really is the chance to tick off some of your 50 things to do before you’re 11 and three quarters!” 

Tickets are on sale from Saturday November 7 priced from £18.50pp. A ticket for Geronimo Harewood also includes access to Below Stairs of the House. 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Little L is 17 months

Little L has changed a lot in the past month, she is more adventurous and does things or tried to reach for things which she is not allowed to touch.
But apart from being super naughty she is also incredibly cute and it's not biased! 
Her hair has grown so much as well and I have tried elastic bands and different bows but L just will take them off no matter what!

Weight wise she has gained 400g in few months which to me seems not much but health visitor tried to reassure me that it's normal weight gain and that she can only fit the food same size as her fist. 

Teeth- L had all 4 canines coming through on one week, 3 are out and 4 is still on the way.

Clothing- L fits in 12-18 months clothing, some of them are a little bit long but it just means that it will last her longer.

Character- she is more active than I have ever been, and according to my mother-in-law she has taken it form her father. She likes to sing randomly and to dance, would recognise English nursery rhymes despite of me speaking Russian with her and will point at her neck or head when listening to "Head and shoulder, knees and toes". L keeps dragging me to places/rooms by holding my hand or finger when wants to show something or wants me to point at things but has also started to tell me that she is L, point at In the night garden characters and other things she will recognise. She generally speaks/babbles in her own language but will say few words in Russian or English. 

Toys: L has all sorts of toys- Mega blocks, rubber bricks, soft toys, ball pit and will play with them if we are in the room or by herself which isn't very often, but I'm sure one day she will be more independent. 

What's your little one up to this month?

Monday, 7 December 2015

Christmas Gift guide: Wingman grooming essentials for men

I always struggle to find what to buy for male half of our family, normally I would buy clothes or grooming kits, as these are the most practical gifts I can think of.

When I came across Wingman grooming essentials I thought about my nephew straight away. He is young, just started shaving and likes all new and trendy.

"Wingman is a British brand that combines lifestyle and performance to deliver awesome grooming products for men.

Founded in 2009 by Stu Jolley, the lightbulb moment came while camped on the beach on a surf trip to the south of France. Rifling through his wash bag, he realised how disillusioned he was with the total lack of male grooming products that aligned with his lifestyle. Wingman was born out of this frustration and he set out to create an authentic brand that genuinely serves the needs of the modern man.

Stu teamed up with Simon Maudsley, a like-minded individual who also believed there was an ever-increasing opportunity for a lifestyle brand offering high quality grooming products for men. From those first days the end goal with Wingman has deliberately been kept simple: to make life that little bit better".

We have received a selection of 3-in-1 multi gels: mint boom, jet fuel and citrus charge (shower, shampoo, shave) worth £2.99 for 250ml bottle; energising and sensitive moisturiser (100ml, £ 5.99); face wash (£3.99 for 150ml) and face scrub (£4.49 for 150ml).       
"Wingman Multi-Gel is a functional 3-in-1 product that enables you to SHOWER, SHAMPOO and SHAVE all from one bottle. Invigorating shower gel and shampoo enriched with aloe vera for a super close shave. Save time, effort and space.

Nobody wants a boring life. Life should be an incredible adventure every step of the way. Citrus Charge™ is for those who always live the dream. In Wingman we trust.

Have you ever been attracted to a man/woman by his/her smell? Well, jet fuel and citrus charge smell exactly like an "attractive man". The gel is thick, which is great for shaving as you will need just a tiny drop. And most importantly it is practical as instead of carrying lots of different bottles when away you will have just 1 for all your needs.   

Energising moisturiser gives a cooling effect on the skin as well as gives a "life boost" to your skin. Sensitive moisturiser smells of aloe vera and will soothe dry, sensitive skin. 
The gel is white in colour and "dries" out on the skin quite quickly but doesn't make it dry, perfect after cleansing or shave.

Cleansing face wash "foaming gel cleanses, nourishes and conditions without drying out. With stimulating ginseng, it counteracts dryness and restores balance for clear and energised skin".
Sensitive face wash "foaming gel cleanses dirt and debris from sensitive, dry or easily irritated skin. With soothing aloe vera to help reinforce natural defences, skin will be nourished and refreshed".
Both of them come is a form of a clear/lightly coloured gel and foam once in contact with the water not only cleans the skin but also moisturises. 

Face scrub "purifying cream scrub exfoliates dead skin cells, unclogs pores and removes impurities like oil and dirt. Ginseng helps stimulate and activate the skin, leaving it looking fresh and feeling smooth". 
I'm a big fan of scrubs and this would be an ideal scrub for me as I could feel rough seeds, which "scrubs the skin without damaging it"

Overall, a great variety of practical products for men!

Disclaimer: I was sent the items mentioned above for the purpose of this review/gift guide. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Christmas Gift guide: love2read Christmas personalised photo book and giveaway

I have previously reviewed love2read book for Father's day back in June, since then L enjoys looking through the photo pages and recognising herself and daddy. 

"The aim of each unique book is to help your child develop a love of reading. It does this by presenting photographs which reflect your child's world and relating them to simple words. Research shows that if your child loves books they will learn to read much faster and you will be encouraging a lifelong love of reading.

The key words in each book are known as high frequency words which are some of the first words your child will be taught to recognise when they start school. As they start to recognise these key words on sight (also know as the 'look and say' method of learning) their confidence builds.

Over the years the way of teaching children to learn to read has changed, although the current favoured method in British primaries is through phonics there is still a lot of emphasis on comprehension, high frequency words (often referred to as tricky words) and reading for pleasure.

I got the idea for using photos to create personalised reading books to help my middle child, who has special needs, learn to read. I made a book using photos of our family and it was a real hit, so I made some more using different words. Then I noticed that my youngest child, who was only two at the time, was always picking up the homemade books and was reading them to anyone who would listen. Friends starting asking me to make books for their children... and so love2read was born.

In fact I knew why the books were so successful because I'm a qualified teacher with over fifteen years experience working in primary schools as a classroom teacher. I've used this knowledge to design our range of books so now you can help your children without having to resort to glue and scissors like I did!"
For your chance to win your own Christmas themed love2read book, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below (the competition ends on 14 December 12am):

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

My breastfeeding it started

When I was pregnant I have read different books about first few days with a new baby and breastfeeding a newborn, how little did I know, that breastfeeding wouldn't be as easy as I thought.

When L was born we had a skin to skin and I tried to latch her onto my breast, but she didn't seem interested. I was reassured that it's normal, that we should try again sometime later and if not then she will definitely be hungry in 12 hours. First day we spent having lots of skin to skin, attempts to feed but nothing worked. Once midwives realised that it's been over 12 hours and L didn't latch they tried to call breastfeeding counselor to see if she can assess the situation ans suggest what to do, but in the meantime midwives offered to hand express colostrum in a small syringe. I was shown how to hand express which seemed easy, but once I started expressing I realised that it is a hard work!

My sister was helping me with expressing during visiting hours and at night a student midwife was helping every 2 hours. As I had a privilege of staying in my own room it felt less stressful as I didn't have to think about other mums or babies but nonetheless it was a very difficult time. L was constantly crying from hunger, because of that she refused to sleep and I felt embarrassed to press the bell every time I needed help expressing. I crumbled once when my little helper-student midwife finished her shift and instead I had a middle-aged midwife who didn't give a monkeys about me being upset and not knowing how to handle crying baby and hand expressing tiny amounts into a tiny syringe. Her stern face and an attitude were like a slap on my chick telling me to get on with it. I couldn't wait till the next day, I hoped for a better day, more colostrum and of course my husband next to me. The next day I had 2 lovely meals at the hospital and lots of different midwives trying to help us. This time they showed us how to use electric pump and tried cup feeding, once they saw that I'm comfortable with it they discharged me.

When we arrived home it was time to feed L and as I have learnt how to use hospital electric pump I was confident in using the one I have prepared to use at home. I have read all instructions, put it all up and started expressing or trying to. I sat their listening to a loud noise of he electric pump and watching the only drop of milk being stuck in one of the tubes. We have check the pump together, tried again and still no milk. I tried hand expressing-nothing came out again, and then in the moment of despair I put L to latch on my breast, I couldn't believe my eyes for the first time L latched and was drinking! 

Our second night we have spent trying to express milk with electric pump, hand express and constantly called midwife's emergency numbers for advice and support. 
The next few days we had different midwives shaking their heads in disappointment that L didn't put enough weight (it is the reason why 16 months later I still stress about L's weight), had different breastfeeding support workers talking to us, showing us techniques, health visitor giving us completely different advice from what breastfeeding workers told us with regards to breastfeeding. 
For the first 6 weeks L was slowly but putting weight on and since then she stayed on 9th centile line going up and down.
But once I was confident in breastfeeding, knew what is right for me and L I relaxed and enjoyed every single minute of breastfeeding. 
The first few weeks were hard, confusing and overwhelming, but I stayed strong and stubborn because I wanted to do this for my daughter, to proof to others that I can do it, to show that only those who believe and persevere can do this as well. 

No matter how hard it was it is an incredible experience and 17 months later I don't want it to stop. 

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Celebrating Breastfeeding Christmas Extravaganza giveaway

Christmas is my favourite time of the year, I love family gatherings, relaxed atmosphere, presents exchange and watching Home Alone or Gremlins, what more can you wish for?!
Last year we were meant to celebrate our first Christmas as a family of 3 but as we all had a bug we stayed at home trying to recover. This year I'm hoping we will have a great time and share the day with our close family and friends!

As L is still small it might be a little bit overwhelming for her to see lots of people, even though she loves attention and seeing familiar faces but I hope if she is relaxed enough, fed and entertained she will have lots of fun!

I will rule myself out from any meal preparations this year, I'm not good at it anyway, and will try to concentrate on keeping L happy. I think it is very important to stay stress free as baby/toddler can sense when mummy is upset or stressed.
I will pack all the necessaries for L and will take my breastfeeding cover which I didn't use for ages as I prefer to feed L discreetly on my own and if it's getting too much me and L can always sneak into one of the bedroom to feed and have a rest.
Breastfeeding during Christmas holidays could also be a great excuse for an extra mince pie or trifle, who would want to say "no" to a breastfeeding mother who is always hungry and need some extra calories.
I'm not ready to drink alcohol yet, I haven't done it for 2 years, but will bring non-alcoholic wine and juices with us in case anyone wants to say a toast. But it doesn't have to be boring I might make or ask someone to make a non-alcoholic cocktail for myself.
If I want a little bit child free time I will be more than happy to pass L to one of her aunties and grandparents, I'm sure they will love it as well.
Fingers crossed that all goes to plan!

I have teamed up with some lovely bloggers and brands to offer you a chance to win some great prizes worth over £300, all you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below :

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The code word for the Celebrating Breastfeeding Christmas Extravaganza is sleigh

With special thanks to our sponsors for providing the amazing prizes: ARDO, LoveyUsh, Milk & Mummy, Lorna Drew, Mummy Makes Milk,Thrupenny Bits, breastvest and More4Mums.

Click here for T&Cs.