Friday, 14 November 2014

Daisy Roots Crawley - perfect pottery fun

On a cold half term day I was looking for something creative to do with J, seeking FB for inspiration a friend had been to Daisy Roots & loved it, so we thought we'd give it a try! Based in Crawley just outside Witney it's only a few minutes drive away, super easy to find with parking outside! Inside is something crossed between Aladdin's Cave & a tardis, lots to see & different areas to look at it in. Viv the friendly owner showed us upstairs to the children's corner where J played happily with the toys whilst I picked out what we were going to do. As it was coming up to Christmas we opted for a bauble, Viv skilllfully got J to put his hand on it, he loves getting messy to happily obliged! I then gave him free reign to decorate a mug for my desk at work, he picked the colours then finger splodged all over it! The result was a mis-mash of splodged colours, I loved it! Viv agreed to add some finishing touches & took our number to text when it was ready.
2 days later I was suprised to get the message saying everything was ready, we called in & picked up our treasure! 
Back home we unpacked it & were stunned with the results! The bauble looked amazing with raised snowflakes around the handprints & the year added. My mug however was the show stopper, the firing had created a beautiful glaze & the colours jumped out, again on the bottom was the year & memory message that I chose. So now when I have a glum day at work my memory mug reminds me if a happy day & brings a smile to my face!
Viv at Daisy Roots was patient & understanding, her expert help was great! I look forward to returning next holiday for more pottery painting fun!
Slummy Mummy Seal of approval = granted!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Baking with a toddler - the slummy mummy way


Over the summer one of J & mummy's favourite activity has become baking cakes. After a few trial and errors we now have our baking time down to a fine art, it's a time we both love, and the cakes at the end taste pretty damn good!
Bear in mind J is only 2.5... So his patience isn't so great, I discovered the hard way waiting for ingredients to be weighed was way to long for him, so using cake mixes are the ideal alternative. My favourite ones are by Wrights Flour who have an array of cake mixed from chocolate fudge, Ginger, Madeira, toffee, carrot etc. They are also fairly cheap for the amount you make up. You simply need to add water a vegetable oil (stock items we all have) & then you're away!

Here's our baking routine -
1. Mummy gets the kitchen ready, clean tops, bowl ready, oven pre-heating, and chair in the kitchen for J to stand on.
2. Mummy & J wash hands.
3. J gets his apron on (& in our home his chef bandanna)
4. J picks the cup cake cases and puts them in the tray.
5. Mummy empties the mix in the bowl and J stirs the flour, mixing out the lumps.
6. Mummy adds the water and oil - J mixes it in.
7. Mummy helps J mix, but generally leaves him to it.
8. Mummy spoons the mix into the cases - J licks his spoon.
9. Mummy puts the cakes in the oven. 
10. We check on the cakes together, and when it's time mummy lifts them out.
11. J helps check to see if they are cool to decorate, once they are - Mummy uses the back of the spoon to spread the icing on, & J decorates with sprinkles from a little bowl.
12. We both taste test the cakes in the garden.

I'm sure over time J will do more and more and we can learn to follow recipes together as well. I purchased a little baking set for him and it's ideal as he can grip the smaller spoon easier, he also knows not to mess with the bigger spoons. Yesterday we made chocolate fudge cake cup cakes for Grandad's birthday. We all enjoyed them!




Bird Land Bourton on the Water - a bird-tastic day out


I was looking for somewhere different to go with J when someone suggested Bird Land, I checked out their website and armed myself with the postcode for the sat nab GL54 2BN and set off, the postcode takes you to the pay and display car park in Bourton which is right next door, we parked up and walked the short distance to Bird Land, and entered a feathered world of fun. 

The park is lovely with aviaries displaying various birds, they also have open pens for different birds such as flamingos, and other water birds, our favourite was the penguins who you can watch swimming under water with the viewing panels, J was fascinated watching them dive for their food, and coming up close to the glass. He raced around the aviaries taking in all the different birds and mocking their calls! 


The park is well laid out with lots of outdoor room for picnics to take it all in, with the weather looking glum we opted for the eatery on site, which was lovely, serving homely food and reasonable prices. The play area is well equipped with a sand table to build some master pieces. 


We spent hours here, and loved it. It's under a tender to get in, with children under 3 getting in for free! So another bonus.
 We will be returning again before the end of the year I'm sure it'll become one of our hot spots
www.birdland.co.uk

Brown Bear- at last a decent baby shop comes to Witney

With the parent parking spaces being full near Waitrose yesterday I had to park in the long stay area of the car park, I'm so pleased I did as I got to discover Brown Bear which has recently opened in Witney.

The shop is situated on the end of the row of shops (opposite end to Hacketts) and has lots of goodies for babies, toddler and parents. I loved wandering round and seeing the amazing aray of stock that they have.  Brown Bear isn't like the other children's shops in Witney, for a start it's really accessible, and buggy friendly all on one level with space to wheel around (hooray!) it's light airey and a pleasure to  browse around. Along with the usual baby things Brown Bear also stocks all those 'life saving' baby times such as snooze shades, gro bags, gro clocks etc. Many of these items I remember waiting days for to arrive when J was a baby having had to order them online (& pulling my hair out in the waiting process)  they also have some adorable new baby items, including the range of the 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar'. J also spotted his favourite Gruffalo in the shape of a Trunki, luckily he was in the buggy else I'm sure he'd of been out and whiz zing around on one.... Which I'm sure the staff wouldn't of minded, the lady behind the counter was friendly and welcoming and willing to help.
The shop is just round the corner from the rear entrance of the Methodist church where there the children's centre holds sessions, so it's ideal to visit before or after!
Big thumbs up from me, I will definitely be making a return visit.
www.brownbear.co.uk



Sunday, 27 July 2014

Minster Lovell Ruins - a dreamy place to explore


I was looking for somewhere close to Witney where I could go with J to explore & have a picnic, someone suggested the old hall ruins at Minster so yesterday picnic in hand we drove over to try it out.

The hall is fairly easy to find with brown road signs off the main road from Witney, you wind down into the village on one way roads & then climb back up to the ruins. There are about 8 or so car spaces, after that people park up on the road side. We were lucky yesterday & got a space, as I was unsure of how far it would be to walk I took the buggy, but soon discovered it was only a 5 minute walk to the church, you then access the ruins via the cemetery. We had 3 small steps to over come with the buggy but bar those no access issues.

The ruins are breathtaking! Their grand nature set in such lovely surroundings are awe inspiring. We wandered round looking at the ruins, & found a picnic spot under a shady tree to eat our lunch & take it all in. Close by us a river where older children had their fishing nets out, there was also a family of ducks which J loved & fed our left over bread too. I noticed a footpath darting off along the river accessible via a kissing gate so not so great with the buggy, perhaps next time J will walk it & we can go explore.

I definitely plan to return over the summer for some more picnics & ruin exploring 

Strawberry picking fun at Millets Farm Centre Abingdon

Having grown up on a farm myself & learnt first hand where food comes from I want J to grow up gaining an understanding too. So when my dear friend E suggested taking our boys strawberry picking I jumped at the chance, it sounded like a fun educational morning to me - a tasty one too! 

Equipped with our baskets we set off to find the strawberries, it's only a short walk from the car park but for J he needed a snack stop en route, after refuelling we walked the last few meteres & were greeted by tunnel after poly tunnel of strawberries! The strawberries were on stands which meant the strawberries hung down, making it so much easier to see them & pick them, for our boys the stands were just a tad too high, but they did manage to find some just low enough that they could reach up & pick them. E explained which ones to pick & they were away. The boys then cottoned on that what they were picking were edible, & soon I had J trying a few, declaring them all tasty & yummy! It was a memorable sight seeing them hunting for the best ones then sampling a few. Be aware the ground is a little uneven so excited little ones may trip, E managed well taking the buggy down the rows, her buggy is well equipped for off roading, my little one would have struggled. 


Baskets full we headed back to the shop to pay. This was the only downside to the day, you had to pay in the shop, & at lunch time the queues were huge, it'd be better if they could set up an outdoor paying station near the gate to save treking through the shop.

We had a magical time & J proudly told family about his tasty picking adventure. We will definitely be going back again for more picking, we'll check out the other fruit & veg on picking offer too!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Kids have meltdowns get over it!

Today my friends son mid shop had a meltdown. My friend as always handled it well, she calmly held him & spoke quietly to him. She stayed in the shop multi tasking waiting in the queue to pay. I was with her & had the misfortune to hear the rude grumblings of a fellow customer who in his twilight years made mean & nasty comments. 
 I have never experienced such nastiness targeted at a mother before, & it reduced me to tears. My mum always taught me that if you having nothing nice to say don't say anything at all, whislt I appreciate standing in a queue with an upset child isn't pleasant, please think of the parent, instead of scowling offer a supportive smile, instead of glaring, give a friendly eye roll, or pull a face for the little one. Instead of judging - put yourself in the parents shoes. 
We cannot possibly remove ourselves from shops each time a meltdown occurs  as this would give our children the message that to get out of shopping just cry & wail! 
I was mortified how another parent could be so harsh especially as he had his grandchildren with him - what sort of message does that give them? Not the best role model for them. I tried to talk calmly to him to no avail, other customers tried to help by saying not to worry. 
I hope this man realises what he has done, & next time has a tad more patience. 

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Cutteslowe & Sunnymead Park Oxford - a fab family friendly day out

I love  hearing about lovely parks in Oxfordshire and taking the whole family with me to go roadtest it for ourselves... and that is exactly what we did this afternoon, map in hand we drove the 15 mins from Witney to Cutteslowe& Sunnymead park to the north of Oxford.


It was easy to find and had plenty of pay and display parking. The park was a wonder, with so much to do I wish we'd come earlier in the day and brought a picnic with us.There was a mini railway with J loved, for a £1 a ticket you can take a ride round, all 3 of us went on and 2 turns round the track later, J was wanting more, having waved madly at anyone who passed us. Luckily there was more to see, so a quick 'lets go see the birds later' and we were marching on to the aviary where J was mesmerised by the multi coloured birds, taking delight pointing at them "look Daddy a yellow one!" The aviary was in spotless condition and the birds had lots of room to fly around. We moved on to the park, passing the basket ball court en route where J enjoyed watching  some teens taking practise shots. The park had plenty for all ages, from slides, to swings, merry-go-rounds and climbing nets. J tore off and was soon climbing up to test out the slides. After he'd exhausted the play equipment the sandpit caught his eye and J  did the quick step in that direction, removing his shoes on the way. The sand pit was big with lots of room for everyone to build a sandcastle *note to self take a bucket and spade... luckily J was happy to use a spare cup to build his master piece.  Whilst mummy and J played in the sand daddy went to the kiosk to bring back cool refreshments, ideal in the hot sun. There was loads to do for children of all ages, with  a zip wire, and hand and foot grips to climb up tree stumps, so a mini adventure house on the hill, the park was busy but there were loads of space for families to run around.




At either end of the park is a community centre with toilets open for the public. I also noticed some formal gardens which would of been nice to walk around [had J not of been glued to the sand pit] There was  a paddling pool which was closed, but some of the locals told me it opens in the summer, there was also a crazy golf that looked fun too. In addition to all the fun bits there was lots of green space for families to picnic and play ball.

To find it yourself follow the info on here - http://www.oxford.gov.uk/PageRender/decLP/2_Cutteslowe_and_Sunnymead_occw.htm
A big thumbs up from us, we'll definitely be going back

Clothies burping cloth - product review

Burping cloths are part of every parents essential kit, baby drinks - baby burps - burp cloths catch it = standard!  But burp clothes don't have to be standard!

Introducing Clothies burp cloths, fun & funky designed cloths with a fleece back to absorb the spills. As a mummy I have a pile of muslin cloths to do the job - could I be tempted to switch? Does the Clothies cover all bases?
1. Design- big enough to catch spills, small enough to fit in my bag. The Clothies was just right
2. Wash -I'm a  bung it in the wash without reading instructions person, the Clothies survived well- and came out still looking fab & retaining it's shape. 
3. Style - Clothies score top marks here, they come in a wonderful large range of designs that are bright & colourful, with patterns to suit all tastes. 
4. Mopping up spills - not only does it look fab but the Clothies also do a great job of catching the spills, the fleece backing is super absorbent!
5. Price - at £14.99 for 3 the Clothies would make a great baby shower / new baby gift.



 
Would I be tempted to switch? Use a Clothie is far more stylish in public than a muslin cloth, it does a great job of looking  funky & being practical - which is what we all want. So I think having a range of Clothies to hand is a great idea! I would of loved a pack in my baby shower gifts & will suggesting them as gifts for others!
Slummy mummy seal of approval given 

Sili Squeeze - perfect for food on the go. Product review

When I was asked to review the Sili Squeeze I wasn't sure what to expect. I was told it was ideal for baby food on the go, & having seen some of the other reusable pouches on the market, I was expecting something like those. I was pleasantly surprised to be given something far more sturdy & durable!  I decided it'd be best to try it at home first so I had back ups on hand in case it it all went to pot, I filled it with my baby's favourite puree of apple & peach & gave it later that day, the Silli Squeeze  so easy to use, undo - fill up- put top on - squeeze & go. The soft case made it easy to grip especially when things got messy. I was also concerned that it'd be a pain to clean, but it was easy to take a part & put in my dishwasher! Huzzah! I've used it several times since & each time had a great experience, my Sili Squeeze has become part of my everyday kit & I've recommended it to my NCT mummies too.

 
I love the Sili Squeeze you can tell it's been created by parents for parents! I've looked on line & seen that they come in different colours, which will be great to identify sweet & savoury as I must admit on occasion I've forgotten which pot has pudding in & served up pear for mains & parsnip for pudding - I'm sure Delia would not approve.
 
Great product, great price - a must have! www.thesilisqueeze.co.uk 
 
Slummy mummy seal of approval granted!


 
Sili Squeeze are now offering all mummies a £3 discount of their orders for a limited time by using the code - SILISM at the checkout

Monday, 30 June 2014

Peppa Pig World at Paultin’s Park – A must for all Peppa Pig Fans.


 
J loves Peppa Pig, and after watching countless episodes [why are they so short?] I have also become a fan. The cute pink pig has teenagers attitude, and has been a huge influence on J. He loves jumping up and down in muddy puddles [with his boots of course – that’s what Mummy Pig insists] feeding the ducks, and asks for chocolate cake at meal times [its Peppa’s favourite!] He also knows to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ too. When we heard about Peppa Pig world we were all excited, we were even more excited to hear that its suitable for young children so lots of rides for J to go on.

We bought our tickets online which saves a few pennies and got there early, parking was easy. With pre-purchased tickets entry was super quick; we were given a map and headed straight to Peppa Pig World.
 

We were WOWED! There was so much to do, we’d be advised to head for rides which get busy first so we went on Miss Rabbits helicopter ride,  and after a 10 minute queue we were flying through the air, getting a bird’s eye view of the park, STUNNING! From there we went on the balloon ride, car ride, we explored Peppa’s house, rode a dinosaur, soared in the clouds, and floated in boats. There was so much to do we had great fun. J loved pointing out the characters and got excited to see all his favourites. The queues did build on some of the popular rides [The dinosaur ride we waited 20 mins] but for others we go straight on. On a few rides the moment was captured on camera which you could buy after, unfortunately for us when the only one we looked decent in was shown, the printing machine was down – BOOOO.

Peppa Pig world has lots to see and do with everything from the gardens to paths to stalls looking like they’d been zapped straight out the show; you really were immersed into it. When we stopped for lunch there was plenty of picnic tables available to use, we were joined by some rather aggressive ducks, at first this was a novelty for J, but after nearly losing his sausage roll he found it all very scary and climbed into my lap for protection! After we explored the Mr Potato’s playground and J charged round climbing on everything following the rainbow road which led to … Muddy puddles. This time I was prepared, I’d got both J’s swimmers and his waterproofs and given the overcast weather opted to put him in his wellies and water proofs – he loved it and jumped to his heart’s content in the puddles, the fountains came on in turn and on one occasion J found himself right in the middle and got soaked! Quick cuddle from Mummy and a change of clothes later he was ready for the park again… there really is no stopping him.



I found the changing facilities disappointing, given the main customers are families they were crowded and not well placed.  In a ladies toilet in the main park there was a drop down unit,  right near the door, no cubical, so had there of been a queue we would have been in the middle of it. Likewise the unit was fine if you were tall, but for more petite ladies they would have struggled. At 5ft 8in I could just about cope.

Each ride had space nearby where you could park the buggy, for some rides I parked the buggy fairly centrally and left it there. With of course removed our valuables! It was lovely to see all the buggies lined up, it really reinforced the family vibe the park has.

 Entry to Peppa Pig World also give you entry to the rest of Paultin’s and there is so much to see and do, after the excitement of Peppa Pig we wandered through the gardens and through ‘dinosaur land’ which was lovely but a tad tired looking. Clearly money has been ploughed into Peppa Pig world in recent years and I feel that the rest of the park may have been neglected somewhat. I think it’d be a good idea to separate the pricing for Paultin’s and Peppa Pig World, having tickets for each separate area at a lower price with the option of both for a combined price, a coloured wrist band entry would help identify who has paid for what. I also think parents should be issues with a lost child sticker as standard, with so many children running around this I’m sure would help sort out separated families quickly.

The gift shop at Peppa Pig world was stocked with all manner of Peppa Pig fun and had something for everyone at all prices. We treated J to a dinosaur like George’s which he clung to – one very happy toddler.

The food outlets were ok price wise, not particularly cheap but not overly expensive. The choice wasn’t fantastic at Daddy Pig’s cafĂ© but we found something for everyone to top up our picnic.

The exit is every parent’s worse nightmare ….. it’s via the toy shop – great for Paultin’s, not so great for parents,  it’s impossible to get out without seeing something that your little one wanted, I think next time a blindfold would help!



 Slummy Mummy Seal of Approval = Granted

Guest Spot - The Launch of the Parent Education Company - by Mummy S


I recently attended the launch event of the Parent Education Company, a brand new business based in Witney and developed by my NCT mummy buddy Sarahjane Gillies.

I’ve known Sarahjane for over 8 years and value the knowledge she brings to all us Mum’s as we struggle with the demands of parenthood, work and general life. If we are going through a difficult phase with our child, we always draw upon Sarahjane’s 15 years of experience working with children and their families as a qualified early years teacher, to bring practical and grounded advice to see us through.

Sarahjane wanted to spend as much time as possible with William (aged 15months) at home, instead of returning to the demands of teaching, but also wanted to share her professional and practical experience with other parents who go through various difficult phases with their children. So she has created this inspirational business to fit around being a Mum, but also to fulfil her ambitions.

The Parent Education Company delivers workshops on positive behaviour management, language and literacy development, raising self-esteem and confidence. The workshops are very child focussed and the advice given is both practical and achievable.

If workshops are a little out of your comfort zone, Sarahjane also offers a consultation service within the family home. She will develop a personalised and specialised positive behaviour management plan to help provide parents with the tools to raise happy, contented children.

Check out the website:


or email:


for further advice or chat about attending forthcoming workshops.

Fingers crossed this business flourishes and goes from strength to strength.
 

 

 

 

 

Friday, 13 June 2014

The sun has got his hat on – top sunny tips from the Slummies


With the sun finally arriving and looking like it is here to stay, I wanted to share a few tips with you to make your life a little bit easier.

Hats – and lots of them, there is nothing worse than a day in the sun being delayed because you can’t find your child’s sun hat. To avoid this be savvy and buy a few I got some really funky low price ones for as little as £3 each. We store them in a basket by the front door which makes it an easy reminder to grab one as we walk out. I also have one stashed in the car, and in my bag. J regularly rotates his nursery sun hats; I always check at the end of each day what hat they have stored there.

Sunscreen – shop around, there is always an offer on somewhere for third off or BOGOF’s. I go for factor 50 for sensitive skin [as J has eczema] I’ve also bought a few in different formats, and have found the J likes the rollerball one and will happily apply it himself [Mummy then fills in the gaps] it also fits snuggly in his bag. The spray ones are good too and aren’t quite as greasy as the regular cream ones. Like hats I have a few bottles so I’m not doing a mad hunt for it before we go out. I also keep a bottle of after sun in the fridge, just in case.

First Aid kit – keep a small one in your car and bag with the basics in, as with more short wearing and running around comes more trips and grazes!

Wipes – I have wipes everywhere, car, handbag, next to the sofa etc. They wipe away everything, and are a lifesaver with melting ice cream & squished summer fruits.

Talcum Powder – Is a must for all sand pit lovers, a quick dusting of talc after J gets out the sand pit of off the beach helps remove the sand making for a happier J, and happier mummy as it’s not trekked through the house. I take a travel size one to the beach.
 

Sunglasses – Luckily J loves wearing his ‘sunnies’ unluckily he’s a tad heavy handed so has broken a few pairs. So I tend to go for the lower price ones.  He does look mighty cute in them!

 

Saturday, 17 May 2014

DIY shorts!

With the sun finally out I suddenly panic about J having summer clothes, whilst searching his draws for shorts I came across a pair of his jeans that fitted round the waist but where a little short in the leg.... A few snips later &  a pair of shorts appeared! Ideally for the summer = SIMPLE!

Friday, 16 May 2014

Lego Land – Fab Family Fun!


 
When hubby suggested a day out at Lego Land with J I wasn’t so sure – what would J get from the day? Would he be able to go on the rides or would we have a frustrated toddler on our hands [AGAIN] We managed to find a great offer on the side of a cereal packet for 2 for 1 entry so I relented and agreed to go, & as J was 2 he would get in for free [HOORAY] We decided to see it as a family day out rather than a theme park trip, which was the best idea. There was no pressure to go on rides; instead we planned to enjoy the Lego marvel around us.

As we live only an hour away we planned to leave home at 8.45ish and get there for 10ish allowing for usual traffic, what I didn’t plan for [naively] were the long queues to get into Lego Land, they snaked down the resort and out on to the roads. A while later we got in, and then joined the long foot queue to get in – tickets in advance would have been easier for sure!  Once in we headed straight for the baby changers, and I was pleasantly surprised to see so many options and so few queues for them. In every toilet block there were changing facilities and on the day we visited these were all clean!
 

I loved walking round Lego Land, around every corner is a Lego delight waiting to be discovered. J adored looking at the creations and seeing them move or start singing. For older children on some of the declining paths there was the option for them to use slides rather than the stairs – I would of loved to use this option too rather than the paths, but alas I was in charge of the buggy. We wondered round mini land and J came out of the buggy to explore, he soon found the rocket launcher, trains and boats, he ran from display to display excitedly pointing to things “look mummy boat” “daddy I found rocket!” He was a tad confused to see a real life duck had hijacked the mini duck pond though.


Upon entry you are given a map which indicates what rides are suitable for certain age children so it is easy to identify where to go, we opted to try one or two rides and  headed towards a mini train ride which was one of the first ride experiences J had ever had, with no queue we got on quickly, I squeezed in the small carriage  with him and we set off on the figure of 8 ride, J didn’t seem worried by it at all, and enjoyed pointing out the different characters we passed.  In the end we didn’t go on any more rides, the queues built up and J got tired so we enjoyed wandering round instead.




We stumbled about the splash zone and I regretted not bringing J’s swim things. It looked like so much fun, with different areas to go play in the water in, J looked on longingly. There was a shop with swim things for sale, but these were at Lego Land prices, and way beyond us, so we enjoyed watching the animals spurting water at the others instead. We then discovered the play area and J had great fun charging around, climbing on things, he’d of happily spent all day here.

Come lunch time we managed to find a picnic table and enjoyed the picnic we’d bought with us, there are lots of food outlets around so lots of choice, but again these are pricey so for a cheaper option a picnic is a great idea. The picnic table we used was next to a closed foot outlet, it would have been nice to see more random picnic tables around that families can use to enjoy their own food.

We then spent time wandering around the different zones, watching children getting soaked on the water rides and seeing the smiling hyped up faces of everyone leaving the rides. There is a lovely atmosphere at Lego land, everyone seems to be enjoying themselves and having fun.

 

We managed to watch one of the stage shows, and saw the good guys defeat the pirates with lots of cheers and boos and amazing water stunts. My top tip for the shows would be to get their well before show time to get a good seat, we arrived late and ended up standing to the side and missed some of the action. The shows do get really crowded too.

We wondered round the gift shop after J had gone off for a snooze and although there were lots of lovely things, they were all really pricey! What happened to the days when you could buy things with pocket money? Now you need a bank loan to buy a memento! With a snoozing toddler we opted not to buy anything and to save the pennies for another day. On the way out we purchased some ice creams to cool us down,  the machine wasn’t working quite right so I had an odd shaped very frozen ice cream, by time it started to soften J had awoke and quickly claimed it as his.

At Lego Land you have to pay for parking, I’m disappointed by this surely there isn’t a need especially as the ticket prices are high?

All in all we had a fab day, with careful planning the day doesn’t have to be expensive, if you have young children don’t be put off, there is loads to see and occupy little ones without having to go on rides, saying that I am looking forward to when J gets a bit bigger so we can take him on all the rides.

Mary Jean natural products –review


 
I have recently been on the hunt for more natural baby products and came across the delights of Mary Jean www.maryjean.co.uk I was sent some products to try and was soon whisked away to a calming lavender world of delight!

The handmade lotions and creams are packed full of natural ingredients with no nasties, making them perfect to use on sensitive little skin.  I found the products to have a wonderful calming effect, and really soothe  J’s skin after a flare up of nappy rash. The calming aromas are wonderful when used after bath time and helped calm J down ready for a good night’s sleep. J especially enjoyed playing with the soap, and even managed to rub some on himself [before using it to bomb his toy duck!]  I naughtily sneaked some of the lotion into work with me, and have used it on my sore chapped hands, after a few days my skin had recovered well and were soothed, and the lavender scent helped me recover after a particularly stressful day.

The products are well priced and are elegantly packaged – resulting in a big thumbs up from me
Slummy Mummy Seal of approval = GRANTED



I think a selection of the mother and baby products would make a wonderful gift for new mums too.

Thank you Mary Jean for allowing us to road test your lovely range and for helping creating a calming atmosphere

Sunday, 11 May 2014

2 year checks - dispelling the myths!

When I had the letter come through regarding J's 2 year check with the HV I was worried, I heard so many rumours about them that I worried myself silly... One friend had said "you have no choice over the appointment time!" Ah & here was mine at a really bad time....dare I try & change it! I called the HV's & they happily changed it for me. Hooray!
I then looked through the x2 questionnaire that you are asked to try & do, they questions ask about your child's social skills -eg how they interact with others? Are they over friendly with strangers? 
Everything seemed straight forward, I answered the questions honestly & consulted with hubby it to make sure he agreed.
The second questionnaire looked more at the child's motor skills, asking about walking, kicking a ball, holding cutlery etc. It asks for you to complete simple activities with your child, many of these I already had done with J and the others he'd recently done at nursery. So again nothing to worry about. 
There were also some questions about the child's sleeping, eating & toilet habits. 
On the day of the appointment the HV went through the questions with us & asked if we had any concerns. She weighed J & attempted to take his height measurement. She was really happy with his progress & complemented us on his manners. She also gave us some advice on his eczema. 
There was critiscm at all, we we're put at ease. I was also encouraged  to contact them in the future if I did have concerns. 
So if you have your child's 2 year check coming up, don't worry or panic the HV's are there to help! 

Friday, 21 March 2014

Fab Little Gifts - personalised chocolate bar review

Fab Little Gifts make the perfect little token gifts which are ideal when you want to give someone a little gift. I was asked to review their products and was sent a bar of chocolate personalised for Junior J's 2nd Birthday.

The bar of chocolate was decorated with a friendly dinosaur and had the message 'Happy 2nd Birthday Jake' written on it [similar to the one below], Junior J loved it and recognised the dinosaur character. I gave him it to him mid way through his birthday and it was the ideal time to keep the birthday memento going. Not only did the bar looked great, the chocolate tasted great too... luckily Junior J was happy to share.

I've looked through the other items on their website and was amazed to see such a fab wide range suitable for all occasions. The make the perfect 'thinking of you' gift.  They are reasonable priced so won't break the bank when you want to spread some cheer.



Slummy Mummy Seal of Approval = GRANTED
Please check out their website to see all the other fab gifts
 http://www.fablittlegifts.co.uk/

Pipsy Koala – product reviews

When I stumbled across Pipsy Koala [through a link on Facebook] I was instantly in awe of the wide range of fresh products available. I was lucky enough to be asked to review a few products from their range, and jumped at the chance!

Unisex Changing Bag – now when I hear the see the term Unisex I usually scoff, I’ve never really found a product that truly is Unisex… until now. The changing bag has been clearly thought out and is ideal for both mums and dads to use; we’ve been using it now for a few weeks and have got on really well with it. The chunky zips make it easy to use, & the sturdy wide base is great and allows the bag to stand up on its own [no more toppling bag with contents spilling out in all directions!] The bag has multiple pockets which are excellent – lots of room to store things, with obvious places where certain things should be. The wipe clean surface also makes life so much easier when you have a mucky monster on your hands that enjoys trying to splatter everyone with his dinner. The neutral design is great, both hubby and I can use it, and no more comments from hubby about having to carry around a ‘women’s bag’. It also comes with a changing mat, and messy bag – everything has been thought of and covered. The bag fits over the handles of the buggy too. The best bit of all is the price for £24.99 you get an all-round great changing bag which will adapt as your child grows older.
 

Automatic Nightlight – I’ve seen various nightlights around but never really been convinced by any of them, I wanted one to use on my landing so when Junior gets out of bed there will be some light to guide him and help avoid accidents. When the night light from Pipsy Kola arrived, I admit doing what my husband usually does and taking it out the packaging and not reading the instructions, I plugged it in expecting it to come on straight away, and was a tad disappointed that it didn’t, I left it plugged in and went on with my day, only later on in the day when it got darker did the Nightlight come into its own, and I noticed it glowing [at this point I rescued the packaging and realised it’s an automatic one that comes on when it goes dark!] As soon as I turned on the hall light it went off, and likewise when the lights went off it came on. Perfect for our family, simply plug it in and go. It produces a lovely soft glow, which is bright enough to guide you, but not too bright so as to illuminate the whole house. The ‘dome’ of the nightlight is brilliant, it doesn’t get hot so I don’t have to keep Junior J away, and should he fall into it he won’t get hurt. It uses and LED which gives the light a longer life span and makes it economical to run. Its soft glow is perfect, and has not only illuminated the way for Junior J, but also saved me a few stubbed toes during the night. Again the best bit is the price just £8.99, I’ve seen so many nightlights on the market that are not half as good, yet priced twice as much!


 

Bath Animals – out of all the items we were sent to review these were my favourite, they contain 10 animals of an Australian theme, featuring a koala, emu, crocodile, wombat and kangaroo. Junior J loved them, he explored them all and enjoyed learning the new animals, and he liked wetting them and sticking them to the tiles and matching the pairs up. They come in a mesh tidy bag which sticks to the tiles with suckers, great for storage and drainage. At the end of bath time Junior J like putting all his animals to bed in the bag. It’s really refreshing seeing children’s toys feature different animals, making them not only fun but education too. Unsurprisingly these too and well-priced at just £5.99


 
I have nothing but praise for Pipsy Koala; the products are well thought out, well made and well-priced. Thank you for giving me opportunity to review the products and providing hubby with no excuses as why he can’t carry the bag!

To discover Pipsy Koala for yourselves please visit - http://www.pipsykoala.com/index.htm



Slummy Mummy Seal of Approval = granted

 

 

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Hilltop Garden Centre - a hidden little gem

Tuck up in the hills a few short miles from Witney is Hilltop Garden Centre, a Slummy Mummies favourite... why do we like it? Besides the lovely setting, ample parking and buggy friendly paths and displays they have recently re-furnished their cafe area and included a children's corner, which is specifically for children, with books, and games and the best nature floor covering! They have fab cakes, a clean baby changing area, and a play area outside. Junior J & Junior G love running round and exploring the plants, whilst Mummy Q and I get to catch up. They offer a wide variety of products and some lovely children's things! A firm favourite with us... but shhhh don't tell anyone!
cafe-2

http://hilltopgardencentre.net/

Naty Nappies - product review

We all like to be Eco friendly, but with nappies I thought that unless you use re-useable nappies there was little I could do, how wrong was I - introducing Naty by Nature Babycare nappies, a range of nappies that are made with natural and renewable materials, that have GM free corn based film, are naturally breathable being both chlorine and fragrance free. When I first heard of them I admit I had my concerns-  how absorbent would they be? Would Baby J be comfortable in them? Given how Eco friendly they are how soft would they be?

I was sent a few packs to try and waited for a weekend at home to try them out.... Just in case they didn't perform well! I was pleasantly surprised, although they lack some of the softness that the leading brands are known for, they are still kind to the skin, and perform just as well as them too. They contained everything Baby J threw at them and lasted well. I'm really impressed! So being Eco friendly that must mean they cost the earth right? Wrong they are the same price as the leading brands and I've noticed that like the brand nappies if you keep an eye out in supermarkets they are included in offers too. One of the other mummies tried them too and unfortunately her Baby who has super sensitive skin didn't agree with them, so I'd suggest borrowing a few from a friend to see how you go before committing and buying a full pack. There are a few brands of nappies I buy when I do my shop, I usually look out for the ones on offer and stock up, I will be adding Naty nappies to my trusted list and will buy them again. http://www.naty.com/baby-care/nappies/


Slummy Mummy Seal of Approval = GRANTED

Funky Giraffe bibs - product review

Bibs for a long time have become a necessity in our household, with Junior J's teeth taking an age to come through dealing with the dribbles is a way of life. As you'll know from reading other articles we've been lucky enough to road test several different bibs, and each has their merits.... so when we were asked to road test some of Funky Giraffes bandana bibs I wondered how these would differ ?

When I opened the parcel it was easy to see... funky by name and funky by nature! The bright colourful bibs featured eye catching designs, making them stand out a mile. From cars and planes to stars and skulls, each one is colourful, & fun. Junior J enjoyed picking out one to wear to nursery, he opted for the plane one


The bright bib stood out a mile, and looked great with his outfit ...but would it last the day? Its all very well looking great, but would it catch the drool? When I went to pick up Junior J later in the day I was pleased to see he was still wearing his plane bib, and that it had done a fab job in keeping him dry - big thumbs up!! The bibs are made from 100% cotton with a soft fleece backing, which makes the bibs soft to the touch and kind to the skin. They have double poppers so can be adjusted to fit. The bibs also withstood my slummy mummy clothes washing technique too [bung everything in and hope for the best!] and came out in shape, and still bright and colourful.

Having spent time on the Funky Giraffe http://funkygiraffebibs.co.uk/ website I was bowled over by the wide range of bibs available there is something for all tastes, and to match all outfits, they are reasonably priced with a discount for the more you buy. They have also extended their range and do clothing, socks too. All bright and colourful with their funky designs! So if you want to brighten up your baby's wardrobe and add some zest into it head straight to Funky Giraffe! Big thumbs up from us!

Slummy Mummy Seal of Approval = GRANTED
 

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Social etiquette at soft play... What are the rules.

Help! What are the social etiquette rules at soft play? The toddler area clearly has a sign that says for under 5's only yet there were older kids tearing around climbing up slides and sending little ones flying, at first I hoped a parent would claim them and tell them off but it soon became clear that no one was going to do it. When my little one slide down the slide he narrowly avoided a foot in the face from a ten year old climbing up the slide, when Junior J innocently said "mine" the older boy angrily shouted back at him, I calmly explained he's under 2 & doesn't understand  but still the older boy shot both me and Junior J evil glances, I had no idea what to do, so picked up Junior J and moved on too the ball pool, which was fine until another older child went in and got really rough throwing the balls and kicking. I want to be able to let Junior J enjoy himself and run around freely, I want to sit back and give him confidence to explore in a safe environment, but how do you manage the older children. The soft play has a separate part for under 12's which has the same style equipment for older ones. There were no staff policing the area and when I asked at reception they said it was the responsibility of the parents to look after their children, so what do you do when the parents are't watching and are not near?

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Ikidz softplay review - I wouldn't not on busy days!

So the rain is chucking it down, with the farm parks shut, and our swimming things drying from yesterday what were we to do? Soft play it is, which is a great idea, just a shame half of the population of Oxfordshire had the same idea too. We'd heard great things about the ikidz soft play near the Kassam so thought we'd give it a try, easy to find, loads of parking, it  started so well..... The queue out the door would of usually made us turn and run, but given we'd made the special trip we persevered 15 minutes and one grumpy little one later we were at the till ready to pay, having already checked out the prices on their website I was surprised to learn they were different in store  than those online, you have to join for a fee before you can use it, again this was ok.... Form filled in then we were ready to go.... We then clocked the massive crowds.... But that's ok there is bound to be enough room for us all.... WRONG!
We were packed in like sardines, with little room to maneuver round, the play equipment was covered with children, with all available seating taken we found a tiny patch of carpet to take off our shoes, I then herded Baby J forward to the toddler area which we were told was the area for us to use, which was disapointly  small, I encouraged Baby J up the equipment which is clearly sign posted for under 3's only but unfortunately with no staff around to monitor this he was pushed down by some older children who were charging around, we changed tatic and when  a trampoline came up managed to nab it, this Baby J loved, he soon got the idea of what it was about and enjoyed bouncing up and down, I sat near the edge and using my hands helped bounce it, this equipment was great, it was contained and well padded. Baby J had a fab 5 minutes of being Tiger before I felt the need to move him off as a small queue had built up, we managed to get on the swings and again had a few fab minutes before the mutters and tuts from other parents made me move on, we attempted the soft play equipment again but it was over crowded. The cafe area was rammed with no seats free, and a queue building there was no chance there would be any space for us any time soon, so after a manic 20 minutes which was mainly spent trying to find some space we left. The cold fresh air was really welcomed, inside had been hot and humid feeling more like a cheap nightclub with a sea of bodies that a fun play area for children. Bar the member of staff on the till & those in the cafe area I didn't spot any others,  no one was monitoring the children playing which led to what I felt was chaos. The lack of seating or clearly make space to put shoes & bags made for hubby acting like a cart horse lumping all our stuff around, he didn't manage to get near to see Baby J playing and was stressed out by the sheer numbers of parents all trying to get a view. 

On a quieter day I'm sure it'd be much better, and have heard from those who go during the week how much fun it is, but on a cold Sunday it really wasn't the place to be. Disappointed.com

I will now start a new quest to find a soft play area which cares more for those using it.....

Sunday, 5 January 2014

The perfect Slummy Mummy Secret Santa

Some secret Santa gifts can be very hit and miss, in the past I've received all manner of odd items, however this year I was given a fab gift which I want to share as it's something that can be replicated for different occasions, and I'm sure will be loved by all.

The Slummy Mummies in the past have done a random secret Santa game, where you bring a gift to the agreed value, we then take turns in picking a gift and opening it, there is a slight twist where if you like a gift that someone else has opened you can 'steal' the gift. This has lead to lots of laughs where everyone has wanted a certain gift. This year we randomly hinted to everyone what the gift might be... All the gifts sounded fab but Mummy L's hint of it being home made had me intrigued, & being one of the last to pick (purely by chance of course ;-) ) I went for Mummy L's whose had yet to be claimed. Hooray! 

I'm so pleased I did I was given a Christmas recovery kit, which was filled with an array of lovely things including, a jar of granola (I'd never tried it before but now love it) a head massager which I've found is super relaxing and has helped relieve head aches, a piece of art work by her son to help me keep my New Years resolution, exfoliators, and some BB cream which is simply amazing (perfect for busy mummies who haven't the time to spend ages applying different foundations and creams in the morning)  I really loved my gift and it has made me appreciate the time, effort and thought that had gone into it. I hope next year to make up similar gifts for family & friends. I'm a big fan of homemade gifts as my friends & family know (for my birthday I was given a box of biscuits with my name and happy birthday printed on by my best friend they were so lovely!) I also try and utilise my son's first art work skills as much as possible with hand painted cards, canvas's & other items. 

Handmade items are so lovely and really give gifts that special touch! As for my secret Santa gift, as I love my Mia Tui bag that I road tested so much, I bought another one of the bags, which went down really well!
HAPPY HAND MAKING EVERYONE!