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Monday, 26 September 2016

Ariel the Mermaid Party Pack Review

Lily turned 4 years old last month and we had such a busy time generally. December, January and February is birthday season in our families so that means lots of present buying, card writing, wrapping and going to parties. What made it easier for us this year with Lily's birthday was the "Ariel Beautiful Mermaid" party pack for 8 from Party Bags and Supplies.

I chose the Ariel themed pack as Lily does love Disney's Little Mermaid and I thought it would go down a treat, which it absolutely did.

So what was included in the party pack?

Here is a photo showing you everything that we received:

What was included in a Party Bags and Supplies Ariel party pack

Let's start with number 1; the tablecloth
The Ariel-adorned single-use plastic tablecloth brightened up our table and provided the perfect backdrop to the rest of the underwater themed party essentials.

Number 2:
Eight medium-sized, child friendly paper plates which features the same Ariel design as on number 3 - the plastic cups, with slightly different Flounder and Sebastien, along with some sea-flowers. The variation adds a bit more interest; not everything has the same print on it which is good.

Number 4:
Sixteen soft paper napkins, which of course are always vital at a party, at the ready to wipe away buttercream, cake crumps and pizza sauce. These napkins featured Ariel in front of an open clam shell with a blue background and a floral design.

Now let me focus a bit more of number 5 because these are the exciting items of a children's party, especially for the children if not so much for the adults. I'm talking about party bags! I didn't have the opportunity to get stuck about what to fill the party bags with as the party bag came complete with eight of them.

What is in the Ariel party bags
The party bag itself is scallop shaped which fits in very well with the underwater Ariel theme and inside you will find 5 items. In ours, Lily found a bright piece of rubber jewellery, so she has been waving her hands around showing off her new ring now as well as her beaded bracelet. There is also one sweet treat; a Lovehearts lipstick, a springy sea-creature and a Sea Life activity and sticker book which could serve well as a rainy day activity. It does seem that this party pack is targeted to little girls, but if you wanted to put something in extra to suit the boys in your party then do so, and don't forget a slice of birthday cake!

I have now got lots of ideas for Alexander's second birthday in July and I hope the planning will go as smoothly as Lily's did thanks to the Ariel the Mermaid party pack from Party Bags and Supplies.


Thursday, 22 September 2016

Creative Writing & NCC Home Learning: Competition

I adore writing and for the most part of my life I have enjoyed being an avid reader.

 Life gets in the way sometimes and I find myself not quite so able to dedicate the time to reading as many novels, or even science papers as I would like to. It is actually a 2016 goal of mine to do a bit more reading each month, so I had better get cracking before the year is out and before I have a newborn baby to take care of too.

I believe that my love of reading and writing started at a very young age; I zoomed through the different categories or levels of reading books in the early years classrooms of primary school and I am reminded of that each evening when Lily brings home a new book to read from her own school. I am glad she has also got an interest in reading and I am proud to say that her writing work is presented on the work as "Outstanding Work of the Week". That's my girl!

When she has fully grasped the ability to read and right, I will absolutely be encouraging her to be as creative with her writing as possible, supplemented by visits to the library. No doubt this will only influence my own interest in creative writing. I have several ideas for children's novels, but to be honest I don't know where to begin in terms of approaching publishers. In the meantime I can only do what I can here and there.

NCC Competition

The creative writing module breakdown. What a great prize.
A breakdown of the Creative Writing course

NCC Home Learning have an exciting competition going, perfect for those of you, like myself, who have an interest in writing and English language and literature. If the competition question is answered correctly and your name is selected, the prize of a Fiction/Creative Writing course will become available to you to supplement your own personal development, from your own home.

Simply answer the question within this link:

Which two authors won the Man Booker International Prize for 2016?

Don't forget to follow NCC Home Learning on social media to find out the results. The competition closes on the 30th November. Best of luck!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Caring for sensitive baby skin with WaterWipes

It is National Eczema Awareness Week so there is no better time to mention the fact that we love using WaterWipes which were designed with sensitive baby skin in mind, and also provide you with some tips on caring for eczema prone skin.

Water Wipes brand logo

Let's go back to 2014, our second child Alexander was born in July and I decided to use WaterWipes from the very beginning, alongside cloth nappies. Cooled boiled water and cotton water is often referred to as the gold standard for newborn skin care, and that is what WaterWipes have been based on. I used them whilst in hospital, after delivery, during readmission for phototherapy and beyond. I will absolutely be packing a large 72 wipe pack in my baby bag ready for the arrival of our third child.

Water Wipes 72 pack

In comparison to the majority of baby wipes which can contain up to and exceeding 10 ingredients, WaterWipes simply contain 99.9% water and a drop of grapeseed extract which is a natural skin softener. No chemicals, no alcohol and no added fragrance. Naturally they have been recognised by the UK's midwives as being safe to use from newborn and Allergy UK have approved them too. As a non-skin irritant, WaterWipes are ideal for babies and children who have sensitive, eczema-prone skin. Alexander has a slight tendency to get dry skin, due to the hard water common in the South Coast, so particularly when he was much younger we felt that these wipes really helped soothe his skin, and reassured us at the same time that we weren't exacerbating the situation by adding skin-drying ingredients. Again, when he suffered a viral-rash WaterWipes came in handy too.

Water Wipes ingredients comparison

As an adult who's facial skin can go a bit erratic due to changes in weather, central heating and hormones, I am also pleased that WaterWipes produce make up wipes, so do check those out too.

How about some tips on how to keep babies' skin soft and smooth during bouts of eczema as advised by a South Coast midwife at a maternity hospital*:

  1. Hotter temperatures can cause sweating which can exacerbate eczema and make certain clothes quite uncomfortable. Clothes made from natural fibres such as 100% cotton allow skin to breathe and air to circulate well. I'd also like to add that the same applies to room and bath water temperature.
  2. Consider adding a bath emollient if you live in a very hard water area.
  3. Some children can be sensitive to laundry detergents with an excess of ingredients. Sometimes discovering what the root cause of eczema can involve trial and error. Whilst there is no evidence to suggest that enzymes in washing detergent or fabric conditioner can irritate babies skin, many parents choose to use simpler products, particularly those which are fragrance free.
*Disclaimer: Eczema causes and treatments can vary and what may work well for one child may not be ideal for another.


Monday, 19 September 2016

Decorating a shared kid's bedroom with Monochrome

My children currently share a bedroom which has nice bright white walls, but since being painted it hasn't really accrued many accessories and decorations. As much as I love colour, I am definitely loving monochrome. Take a look at what I think would go well in the shared bedroom:

1. Green and Paper Indian Sheep print / Deco Baby
Prints, throws and soft-furnishings can inject a splash of colour into a monochrome styled kids bedroom and can be changed easily.

2. OYOY The World Rug /OYOY
Because a love of geography runs in the family!

3. Little Lovely Company Wall Hooks - white leaves / Deco Baby *sale*
These not only look stylish but are also functional for Lily to hang her school uniform up for the next day, or hang her reading book bag from.

4. House Doctor Black and White Stripe Storage Basket / Deco Baby *sale*
This could be an ideal laundry basket for the kids to share. Alternatively it will get filled with books and toys.

5.Little Lovely Company Letter Banner - Black / This Modern Life
I like the idea of creating a banner in their bedroom, although this set only comes with 2 x L's when ideally we will require 3. I'd probably personalise it using their nicknames though.

6. Heico Bunny Lamp / Deco Baby
Lily's favourite toy in the whole wide world is her Jellycat cuddly toy bunny 'Biddy' who could be the spitting image of this night lamp.

How have you decorated your children's shared bedroom?


Marwell Zoo's Zany Zebras

All over Southampton can be found a variety of four-legged creatures of different colours and sizes. Don't worry, nothing has escaped from the zoo, these are Marwell Zoo's Zany Zebras and they are brightening up parks, shops and streets all over the city.

Begin your trail at Marwell's Zany Zebra Zone which is located in the Marland's Shopping Centre and pick up a leaflet to discover the trail. The sculptures based on the Grevy zebra won't hang around much longer in this habitat though, they will soon move on to have a big reunion at the Ageus Bowl for Marwell's Zany Zebra Zebratastic Weekend which will run from the 14th-17th October. The grand total of Zany Zebras stands at 150, which will certainly help with raising money for Grevy zebra conservation when each and every one go up for auction at the Charity Fundraising Auction at the Hilton on the 18th October. Plus the schools which helped create and design the funky patterned zebras will also benefit from the auction.

Just some of the Zany Zebras Lily spotted:

Marwell's Zany Zebras

What do I have to look out for?

Pick up a trail map within the Marland's or at various points across the city, alternatively you can find the map online. They are quite spread out so you can dedicate a few days, afternoons or weekends to spotting them all. Whilst at the Zany Zebra Zone you can enjoy arts and crafts workshops, chat to the Marwell team about the Grevy zebras and even get your hands on the latest fashion accessory; the #ZanyZelfie ears!

Even more Zany Zebras

What is going on at Marwell Zoo?

Marwell Zoo is home to a GIANT Zany Zebra sculpture who goes by the name of Gulliver so make sure you capture a 'GiantZelfie snap with him. There is also a mini trail of replicas found in the city throughout the zoo to enjoy.

Some of the Zany Zebras we spotted earlier during the summer holidays

Hopefully we have given you a taster of what to expect, enjoy yourselves!


Friday, 16 September 2016

Maternity Fashion: Outfit of the Day | 26 weeks

A loose Autumnal shirt teamed with comfy maternity jeans was the look of the day at 26 weeks pregnant.

I'm wearing last Autumn/Winter's H & M shirt with a pair of skinny maternity jeans by Jo Jo Maman Bebe. They are a size 6 can you believe! They don't have a slim fit on my legs, they have more of a 'relaxed' fit on me, but they are comfy all the same. My sandals are from Primark and I adore wearing them as they are really comfortable despite their winklepicker style. 
On my nails I am wearing grey nail polish also available from Primark. I'd say it is more of an elephant blue and it wears really well.

Thanks for taking a look at my maternity outfit of the day


Breaking the taboo with Hartmann

Title image: 1 in 4 women from the age of 18 will suffer some form of bladder weakness

According to the Bladder and Bowel Foundation, 2011, over 9 million women have some form of bladder problem. That is a lot! And yet whilst the world and media alike are now pretty much open to talking about periods and sanitary wear, it is only now that incontinence products are being more actively promoted on television. Why is it the last taboo, for men and women alike?

Hartmann's explains that there are numerous different definitions of bladder dysfunction;

Stress related - under effort or exertion, such as sneezing, coughing, laughing, bouncing on a trampoline...

Urgency related - involuntary leakage accompanied by or immediately preceded by urgency. "I've got to go, NOW"

Mixed urinary incontinence - a mixture of the two aforementioned definitions; such as sneezing combined with urgency.

Nocturnal Enuresis - involuntary loss of urine during the sleeping patterns (may not necessarily be during the nighttime)

For me, as a young woman pregnant with my third baby, the most typical form of urinary incontinence I could experience is stress-related. This is exceedingly common, particularly after subsequent pregnancies. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Afterall whilst pregnant you are carrying excess weight and the weight of the baby often presses on the bladder. Previous births are more than capable at weakening the pelvic floor muscles which are key to bladder control. Hence why midwives are keen to reinforce the importance of keeping up with regular pelvic floor exercises, known as Kegal exercises. Not only do toned pelvic floor muscles support the bladder and the bowel (think of them being a hammock supporting the bladder and bowel) but they also assist normal bladder and bowel function and prevent leakage, plus contribute to sexual function.

Following a normal delivery and an assisted delivery with forceps I am not ashamed to admit that after a particularly substantial sneeze that I can leak. I will maintain my kegal exercises throughout the remainder of my pregnancy and beyond. Many women are keen to get their pre-natal body and abdomen back in shape quickly after birth but are quick to neglect these pretty important pelvic floor muscles which need working out even more so. 

Hartmann's supply a range of incontinence products, but the ones which could suit pregnant women the best could be the MoliMed Comfort, which is a discreet shaped pad designed for slight incontinence (75ml capacity). They are soft and feature no leaks gussets and whilst they aren't as thin as a regular pantiliner, these are still lightweight and slim. Use the product selector to choose which pad is best for you. There is something suitable for everyone's particular needs.

Example of the results of the Hartmann Product selector
Example of the Hartmann Product Selector results for a female in 2nd trimester of third pregnancy.
Collaborative blog: all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
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