Healthy school snacks – we’ve been trying Pulsin’

Pulsin review

Two and a half weeks in and food has featured heavily in our school conversations (it’s one thing she is keen to talk about – she definitely has schoolnesia about most of the things that go on in class).

Food-wise there are the healthy snacks the school provides (carrots on Monday, apparently), the anticipation of school dinners (definitely macaroni cheese every day), the after school nourishment and the questions over packed lunches (I’m holding out on these – hopefully the promise of hot macaroni cheese will tide her over for a while).

We’re currently all about the snacks here – especially with Baby D’s appetite. So Pulsin’ Kids’ Fruity Oat Bars scored highly when we were sent some to try. The bars are gluten free, dairy free, soya free and include only natural sugars. They come in strawberry, blackcurrant & apple and orange choc chip flavours so still feel like a real treat.

She loved them and I really enjoyed the raw chocolate brownie that found its way into the package for me – thank you! I also like the fact they’re made in Gloucestershire which is just next to us (we’re now in South Glos).

We trialled them before she started school and they were described as a school lunch bag or snack time treat and now she’s started and has the hunger of a bear I can see why they’d be good. Certainly worth considering over carrots…

Pulsin’ Kids’ Fruity Oat Bars are £2.99 for six 25g bars in a multipack. They are available from selected leading retailers. Thanks for sharing some!

Are you going to the Baby & Toddler Show? Win a pair of free tickets…

Baby & Toddler Show Win

New school…new season…new baby? Not for me! But if you have a new little one or one on the way have you considered visiting the Baby & Toddler Show? It’s the biggest of its kind and it’s returning to Sandown Park, Surrey, on 23-25 September.

We’ve been twice and have come back with some really useful things – like my Mia Tui changing bag, which I love, and my Ergo 360 baby sling. It’s also a very child-friendly day out. Baby Scrip loved playing with toys in one of the baby areas and toddler Scrip went in her first ever creche there (and loved it).

If you fancy winning a free pair of tickets, the giveaway is below. And for everyone else, save 1/3 on tickets by using the code BTS34 online.

So what can you expect there?

* Really good deals on top brands and baby essentials – 100s of unique and useful products which you won’t find on the high street (I can vouch for that).

* Guaranteed best prices on car seats, prams, buggies and furniture – all the big names including Bugaboo, Britax, Mamas & Papas, Maxi-Cosi, Quinny, Silver Cross, Cosatto, Bloom, Cybex and Joolz.

* Over 150 top brands and products to test, try, compare and buy – meet knowledgeable experts and have hands-on demos.

* Expert speakers giving new parents everything they need to know on feeding and weaning, babywearing, first aid and sleep.

* The RLSS UK Baby Academy and a free first aid taster session to learn vital first aid skills.

* Piccolo, the new organic baby food brand inspired by the Med lifestyle – visit the stand to try all the products and talk to Piccolo’s team of nutrition experts about all things weaning, food and nutrition. Plus, hear from Piccolo’s infant nutritionist, Alice Fotheringham at the Expert Advice Workshops.

Sandown Park is easy to get to, there is free parking, easy access for bumps and babies, and a huge Vital Baby Feeding Area and Baby Changing Area.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Facebook // @BabyandToddlerShows
Twitter // @BabyShows
Instagram // @babyandtoddlershows

The rules

    • Entrants must be 18 or over and UK residents.
    • The prize includes a pair of tickets to the Sandown Park Baby & Toddler Show 2016. They can be used for one day of this September’s show.
    • Competition closes at 12.00am on 20th September. Any entries submitted after this date will not be included.
    • Tickets booked using the code must be booked online before midnight on Thursday 22 September.
    • The winner will be selected randomly through a prize draw and announced on newmumblings.com and through email.
    • There is no cash prize alternative.
    • Children under 16 attend for free and do not require their own tickets.

Cheat’s Chocolate Fudge: a five minute recipe

Chocolate FudgeI made this with Scrip on one of our afternoons together after a half day at school. She’s always loved baking and sometimes we need a quick, simple recipe that doesn’t involve a sink full of washing up (but that leaves a very lickable spoon). She does tend to ask about tasting whatever it is as soon as we get the ingredients out but she managed to control herself during this one (and I did, too).

This is fab – it uses store cupboard ingredients and makes an impressive-looking fudge. I can’t pretend it’s up to true Cornish fudge standards (mmm Roskilly’s) but it’s tasty and moreish (best to cut it into small pieces). It’s also easy to halve the mixture and still get a decent amount. Enjoy.

Ingredients

500g (1lb 2oz) icing sugar
50g (2oz) cocoa powder
50mll (2fl oz) milk
50g (2oz) cold butter, chopped (mine was actually room temperature)
Large handful of roasted and salted peanuts or raisins

Method

Put the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a large microwave-safe bowl; whisk to combine. Add milk and chopped butter and cook on full power (800W) for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, line a tin or serving dish roughly 15cm x 25cm (6in x 10in) with baking parchment.

Whisk the hot mixture until smooth (it will thicken as you do so), then stir in the nuts or raisins. Empty into the lined tin, level the surface and chill for at least 20 minutes before cutting into small chunks.

I originally found this recipe in Good Housekeeping. Another five minute recipe favourite is my chocolate oaty slices.

Phrases I thought I’d never say

drying dayI’m back to my pre-baby weight now (it’s taken 16 months this time around) and am wearing so many more of my old clothes. I’ve also had a few days away with my grown-up family on my own and I had a bit of time (and sleep) which helped me realise I’m feeling much more like myself. Although it’s definitely a new version of myself.

I guess it’s a normal part of adulthood but the new me says things the old me might shudder at. And she says them without irony.

Along with warning my children ‘It will all end in tears’ (and knowing I was right) last week, these are a few utterances that have come out of my lips recently..

  • It’s a good drying day [seriously – when did the washing become the first thing I thought about as I opened  the curtains?!]
  • Oooh is it that time already [at 10pm]?
  • Are there any more good boxsets on?
  • Do you fancy a hot chocolate [not Horlicks quite yet]?
  • I’ll just whizz the hoover around.
  • Just a spritzer for me [and I actually mean it].

On the eve of my little girl going to school

Going to school

 

Tonight you let me wash your hair
No fuss, as if the water wasn’t there
You dried yourself and put nightclothes on
Tolerated the toddler’s evening fun
You chose two stories and patiently waited
You spelt out some words, really concentrated
Then I kissed my little girl goodnight
Set the gro-clock, turned off the light
And closed the door on our life so far
Four and half years of my biggest star.

You’re excited, apprehensive, keen to start
I echo your feelings, but there’s also a part
That can’t let that eager little one go
Feeling sadness I’m trying not to show
School’s like a marker, a new path we must find
And I’m worried we’ll leave a little bit behind
I know you must learn, and change and grow
The journey’s exciting and there’s a long way to go
But in a way I suppose you’ll always be
My bright, loving baby, indefinitely.

 

Goalllll!: Mothercare Junior Goal review

Mothercare Junior GoalA quick garden kick about has become a bit of an after-work ritual – weather and work permitting. I love the fact we can all have a bit of a run around together, with Scrip pretending to be mummy’s team or daddy’s team, alternately. And my husband enjoys it even more (he’d be happy playing football all day, every day). So Scrip was delighted when I was able to review this garden Junior Goal from Mothercare.

It’s a good size – not too tiny for growing children but not dominating the garden – and it was easy to put together. The net was a little fiddly to attach and needed a gentler touch than my impatient husband! It would have been easier if the instructions were just for this type rather than three different goals, as that made it a little confusing. But all in all it probably took about 20 minutes to put together. So even keen footballers can wait that long to take their penalties.

Scrip even told my sisters she wanted to be a footballer when she grew up, so I think she’s enjoying using it! We’ll get a cover for it for wetter weather so it lasts a fair few football seasons, but at the moment it’s tucked away by the hedge for quick access. And as you can see, it doubles up as a useful bar for aspiring walkers.

Thank you from my whole football team, Mothercare! The Junior Goal is £29.99.

NOTHS: Christmas has got Scrip and Baby D’s names all over it!

My lovely sister donned her jingle bells for a preview of the notonthehighstreet Christmas collection this week. Here are her highlights. 

Anything personalised was always a big hit with me when I was little (remember those catalogues filled with pages of personalised coloured pens and pencils?) and if Scrip and Baby D are anything similar, NOTHS have got this aunty’s Christmas shopping sorted!

Tree decorations, wooden zoos, pyjamas, tents, dolls houses and Christmas stockings – you name it, you can have that special name put on it!

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A personalised tent will keep those furry friends safe

There’s a cushion for the cat, a monogrammed chef’s apron for the big chef, a kitchen for the little chef – and a coffee pot for the whole family.

Oh, and if it’s a baby bear or a little badger you’re buying for, they’re covered too!

notonthehighstreet.com Christmas in July 2016

Baby bears can keep snuggly in this sweet sweater

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Cute cubs cuddle up in this charming playsuit

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There’s no mistaking the owner of this beautiful dolls house

They'll have sweet dreams in personalised pyjamas

They’ll have sweet dreams in personalised pyjamas

Original tree decorations

Original tree decorations – flamingos, pineapples and cactuses

Coffee

Personalisation gets grown-up!

notonthehighstreet.com Christmas in July 2016

Christmas is looking beautiful at notonthehighstreet.com’s Christmas in July 2016

Capturing all the charm of Disney – Courage & Kind clothes

Courage & Kind clothesHow many Disney DVDs do you have – a whole library or a choice few? A friend of mine has the entire back catalogue, I think, in all their technicolor glory. Scrip would certainly like a few more and she cherishes the ones she has. I still enjoy them, too. I can easily be persuaded to sit with her and watch Tangled or Cinderella – much more so than My Little Pony.

So why doesn’t that magic translate onto Disney clothes? Not the replica princess dresses but everyday items. Scrip adores her Frozen PJs but they’re really not very charming. Likewise t-shirts and jumpers. So how about these Courage & Kind clothes – aren’t they beautiful? These are from the Alice in Wonderland range and I love how they’ve created clothes which are just as magical as the film.

The dress is gorgeous with a beautiful and clever Alice-inspired pattern, and the cardigan has little felt Queen of Hearts pockets. I’m trying to save these two for a family party but I’m coming under a lot of pester power from Scrip who just wants to wear them all the time.

All of the Courage & Kind clothes are inspired by the classic cartoons but don’t just slap an image of the hero or heroine on the front. They use patterns, imagery and styling in original, interesting ways, creating outfits that charm the parents as much as their children. There’s a boys’ and girls’ range too. They’d also make fantastic presents.

They’re an investment rather than every day, but they’re beautifully crafted and fit well. In fact I’d love some adult versions, please! I know I’m not the only one, judging by the reaction on Instagram.

PS – I love the name! ‘Have courage and be kind’ has got to be my favourite Disney life motto.

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Haven or Hell – 7 spaces to embrace with kids

Haven or Hell with kidsLast weekend was a family one with grandparents, in-laws and Scrip and D’s cousin staying nearby. Just 17 months apart, the girls played together so well while Baby D padded behind, only being distracted by anything that looked like a ball, a coin or a stick…

An unsettled Sunday meant we headed out for the day to the Avon Valley Country Park, which was good fun. Despite the dry forecast it started to rain, so we made a beeline for the the indoor picnic area. A stark, temporary structure, I would have previously shunned this particular spot. Now, with soggy children in tow, it was a haven.

That made me think how I now see other spaces in a totally different light, post-children. Here are a few that come to mind:

  1. The supermarket cafe – once firmly avoided, now embraced. Good source of food bribes and generally offers a pretty cheap lunchbox.
  2. Service stations – formerly a necessity to be endured, now a little light at the end of a long tunnel (particularly if you tend to inhabit the M25 or A30 as frequently as we do).
  3. Petrol stations – ditto, on a smaller scale. A chance to stretch legs and stock up on chocolate buttons.
  4. WH Smith’s magazine/comic aisle – all that colour, all those cartoon characters, all that cheap plastic. So many gleeful smiles.
  5. Soft play – the noise, the smelly socks, the chaos…and the yelps of delight from children as soon as they enter. Although I still avoid busy times where possible and I follow my husband’s soft play survival guide.
  6. Ikea – and we haven’t even tried the creche yet! Children young and old seem to enjoy playing pretend houses and that’s before they’ve even got to the play area. I challenge you to try and leave without an oversized toy in tow.
  7. Pets at Home – is it just me or is this shop a great mini zoo/wildlife park for those of us who don’t even have pets? Just don’t try and feed the rabbits…

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In memory of Jo Cox

I sat down today to write a blog
Just a few thoughts about life through the fog
About work, about children, about my day
But then the news took my words away
I didn’t know Jo Cox, the female MP
Whose life was cut short so terribly
I know of her actions, her incredible drive
Her desire for peace, keeping hope alive
I know she has a husband whose recent statement
Was so touching and so eloquent
Also two little children who are far too small
To suffer so terribly from this all
What can we say? It makes no sense
There can be no amends, no recompense
No alternative parent, alternative wife
Just a void for the rest of their life
No replacement for her powerful voice
Trying to do good, giving positive choice
Attempting to bring the world together
Then suffering this now and gone forever
I hope in her name we can carry on
To overcome the hatred; it must be gone
And in the meantime we will celebrate
Her vast achievements, before this fate
A mother, a wife, a female MP
So special, so vibrant, an inspiration to me.