My Liebster Award #1

I was kindly nominated by Zena’s Suitcase for this award… For those not in the know, a Liebster Award is an award for bloggers to give to other bloggers.  It’s a way to say, “Hey, I like your blog!” It’s a bit like a chain letter, I answer 11 questions and then nominate more bloggers with less than 500 followers to answer my 11 questions.  So here’s my answers first off…

1) What’s the best thing about social media?

I love and hate it for a range of personal and professional reasons but the best thing about it has to be the ability to easily stay in touch and keep updated from friends and acquaintances around the world!

2) If your blog had a personality, how would you describe it?

  • Easy-going (by that I mean, this blog will only ever be a hobby so I don’t think I give it the same TLC as a lot of other bloggers – I publish awful photos etc :))
  • helpful (hopefully ;))
  • private (I don’t put baby photos on here)

3) Which of your children’s toys would you rather had never been invented?

My baby is too small to think of anything for this, although the music on his playgym does get annoying from time-to-time, there’s no way we could be without it!

4) What’s your best blog post title/headline?

Hmmm I can’t think of anything that really stands out here – probably ‘Co-sleeping – a common reality and guilty secret?’ as it was first ‘opinion piece’ which I published as it was hitting the news, so it got quite a bit of traffic

5) If you could only give one tip to another blogger what would it be?

Check how your blog looks on a smartphone e.g. iPhone. I read so many blogs that aren’t using the ‘mobile template’ and they hurt my eyes – so much zooming in etc! I think blogger and wordpress both have mobile settings which you can switch on :)

6) Would you pick the scenic route or the fastest route when going on holiday?

Ha – I would choose scenic but my other half would choose fastest and as he normally drives, he would win :)

7) What do you do with your blog when you go on holiday?

My blog takes a holiday too!

8) Where do you get your inspiration from for your posts?

Real-life! My regular updates are a bit of a diary for me, more than anyone else! My product reviews are all things I use that I want to tell other mums about, as I’ve found reviews so useful when I’ve been researching products. So I don’t just review things that brands ask me to review, I review stuff that we use or things I’ve bought.

9) If you were told you couldn’t no longer blog right now, what would you do?

Keep a better diary, maybe do some scrapbooks or something :)

10) When do you spend the most time on your blog?

I only blog when baby’s asleep in the daytime and as he only takes short naps now, that is quite a challenge!

11) If you could be reincarnated as any animal, what would you be and why?

A cat – I love cats – and look how much sleep they get!

Who am I nominating?

I’m not quite sure what the rules are about nominating (does 500 followers mean Twitter followers) and how many other bloggers I’m supposed to nominate but I’m just going to nominate 2 bloggers that I’ve just discovered over the last few weeks… both are relatively new…

Mousedogbaby - has just moved to Wales (not too far from me – we WILL meet!) and has not long had a baby

Clare at milkandsandcastles – is an ex-pat living in the glamorous Dubai with her new baby

So there you go – explore Wales and Dubai and follow these 2 bloggers! I love the questions I was given, so I’d love to see your answers to the same questions ladies :)

Posted in blogging, get to know me better | 2 Comments

REVIEW: Bumbo vs Mamas and Papas Snug

The battle of the baby chairs….

Review of the Bumbo vs the Snug

Review of the Bumbo vs the Snug

The Bumbo

This seems to be a must-have baby product. I’d heard about it when I was pregnant and I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t really like the look of it (I always thought it looked a bit too much like a potty for some reason!) but I was aware that I should buy some sort of chair for baby W as he was getting to the age where he could sit up.

The Bumbo

The Bumbo (and our sofa in the background!)

Then one week, they had one at the mother and baby group we go to and I plonked him in it. Instantly, I realised why it was such a must-have item – my little 4month old baby looked so cute and grown-up!

The next day I went to Asda to buy one and my excitement quickly disappeared when I got it home. I liked the way he was positioned in it – hard to explain but baby’s bum is quite low down in it, seems like a nice comfy position. The big downside is I realised that his chunky legs were already quite snug and didn’t allow much (any) room to grow.

Tight squeeze in the Bumbo

Tight squeeze in the Bumbo

I thought I should take it back to Asda as basically it wasn’t going to last very long at all for us! But also, the tray that came with it didn’t seem to slot together – I didn’t want to force it and break it so I thought it was just a duff one but looking at some online reviews since then, it seems to be a common problem. For £40 you expect a bit more!

The Mamas and Papas snug

I’d not come across this until I asked on Twitter about alternatives to the Bumbo and a few people mentioned the Snug. It was on sale for £30 (normally £37) in the recent Asda baby event so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

the Mamas and Papas Snug

the Mamas and Papas Snug

I’m much happier with it – baby W has room to grow into it. (And then the coloured bit comes out so you kinda get 2 chairs for the price of 1, although I suspect as they get older the less they want to sit in it and stay still!)

A bit more room with the Snug

A bit more room with the Snug

Personally, I think it looks a bit more attractive than the Bumbo and to me, it feels like a higher quality product due to the materials used and the finish. The tray slots together easily, I’m looking forward to using it for weaning shortly!

Overall result

In my humble opinion, the Bumbo is an overpriced gimmick – I can’t imagine any baby would be able to use it for more than a month max (they can’t use it too early – you need to wait until they can support themselves etc). The Snug on the other hand, for £10 less, can hopefully be used for a good many months.

I know there are some complaints that babies can fall out of the Snug, whereas the Bumbo comes with a fitted harness thing… but neither recommend leaving your baby unattended so if he does wriggle out of the Snug I plan to be there to catch him!

At the moment, I’m just sitting W in there for 5-10 mins a day (he gets bored of anything after that amount of time) with his favourite toys on the tray and already a week in I can see how it’s helping his development as he’s started moving his neck around to see what’s to the side of him. I’m looking forward to seeing him eating his first meal in it :)

Was this useful? Do you have either of these products or did you buy an alternative? Are there any other ‘must-have’ items that have disappointed you? I’d love to hear from you –  follow me on Twitter or Bloglovin :)

Small print: I wasn’t asked to review or write about either product, I paid for them myself and just wanted to share my thoughts with you

Posted in parenting, reviews | 3 Comments

REVIEW: Visual Contour medi spa at David Lloyd, Cardiff

I love a bargain, and I love spa treatments – so I snapped up a Living Social deal which was £50 for 2 people to have a facial, neck, back and shoulder massage, a manicure and access to the David Lloyd facilities in Cardiff. My sister and I used the voucher last weekend and here’s my thoughts….

Welcome and ambience

I wish I’d taken photos but the spa doesn’t look particularly inviting, it’s cramped (they’re moving to a bigger space) and busy… the receptionist must have new because she didn’t seem particularly friendly or to know what was going on! A friendly therapist got us to fill in the usual forms and off we went into the rooms which are decorated in quite a ‘bling’ way – lots of zebra print, Marilyn Monroe posters etc…

Massage and facial

These were both lovely! The deal said the facial was an hour long, but actually it was an hour for both (i.e. half hour each). The therapist asked whether I had any problem areas before the back massage (I told her I had knots at the top which were found in a massage earlier on in the week) and she worked well on those and found new knots in places I’d never felt them before! The facial was also lovely but she didn’t ask anything about my skin type beforehand which I found unusual. It was the usual cleanse, scrub and then she left me with a mask on, and an eye mask – very relaxing! My sister said she nearly fell asleep during her treatments, she was so relaxed! Both of us agreed our skin felt great afterwards :)

Products

The deal specified that they used Neal’s Yard Remedies’ products and I was looking forward to having these tested on me as I’ve only used their hand cream and plain massage oils. I’m 99% sure that they didn’t actually use Neal’s yard stuff, the facial products all smelt quite fruity e.g. an apricot scrub, whereas I’d expect Neal’s yard stuff to smell more natural as they use essential oils etc. To be fair, I didn’t ask what they use, but unusually for a spa who might want to sell their wares, they didn’t tell me either….

Manicure

Then for the manicure….. a different therapist, she was young, lovely and chatty BUT she had short, unpainted (fine so far)…… dirty nails! I’m a scruffbag myself so not really one to judge but I’m a bit squeamish about dirty nails, gross!! That aside, I chose the colour and she went to get all my long nails to the same length (they’re all over the place!!) and she couldn’t find any nail clippers!! So I had the rest of the manicure (cuticles done, nails filed and painted) and left with a lovely colour, just a bit odd that they didn’t have any clippers :)

Manicured nails @ Visual Contour

Manicured nails @ Visual Contour

David Lloyd facilities

As part of the deal we were able to use the facilities and I was pretty impressed – the Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room were all good… but the best bit is they have an outdoor pool surrounded by loungers… the sun was shining so we sat out there for a bit and it felt like being on holiday :) (As always, wish I’d taken a photo – taking photos for this blog is always an after-thought!) We had lunch there and it was really tasty – I had Moroccan lamb meatballs and sis had some Caribbean chicken thing, both were great! The rest of the facilities looked good – tennis courts, big gym etc and it definitely attracts a certain type of clientele which is what you’d expect when you apparently pay upwards of £75 to be a member!

Overall result I’d happily love to use that outdoor pool again! Although the treatments all had good results, I’m not sure I’d be bothered about using Visual Contour again – for the same price I think there are better and friendlier places in Cardiff.

Have you tried any Groupon/Living Social deals and had a good/bad experience?

Thanks for calling by! Stay in touch by following me on Twitter or Bloglovin

Small print: I wasn’t asked to review/write about this – I paid for it myself and just wanted to share my experience with you

Posted in beauty, reviews | 1 Comment

REVIEW: Clarins Mum-to-be spa treatment

When I left work to start maternity leave, one of the lovely gifts I was given by my colleagues was a ‘mum-to-be treatment’ at  Clarins in Debenhams, Cardiff. It’s a busy place (and I had to change my appointment a couple of times) so I only had this last week – obviously I’m not a mum-to-be anymore but they said it would still be good for new mums… and wasn’t it just!

The Consultation

I arrived early and met my therapist Jenna, she went through a good consultation e.g. where I needed focus (e.g. lower back pain instead of water retention which is no longer an issue), how I like my massages (firm!) and what skin-type I have (it’s been a bit claggy since having baby W – I think it’s all the breastfeeding hormones!). We seemed to build a rapport early on, and I think she’d put anyone at ease – she was lovely!

Lovely gift - Clarins mother-to-be treatment

Lovely gift – Clarins mother-to-be treatment

The Treatment

The treatment started with a back massage – despite me saying that my lower back needed the most attention, she found lots of knots in my upper back and tried her best to get them out (I think I need a few more sessions!!).

Then on to the longest part of the treatment – a facial – including cleanse, scrub etc and then ending with a face mask. She tried to use products that I didn’t already have, but even the ones I do have always feels better when they’re applied with a bit of care by someone else!

While the mask was on, she gave me an arm, hand, leg and foot massage which was lovely and if I had have been heavily pregnant the leg rub would have gone down a treat!

The Result

I felt relaxed and glowing afterwards, and I could feel and smell those lovely products on me all day (glad I had it done in the morning!). I’d highly recommend this place – it’s a little oasis in the city centre, and I’d defo see Jenna again.

The treatment costs £49 and says it lasts 1hr 15mins. In total (with the pre- and post- consultation) I was in there for nearly 2 hours which is great value for money! Jenna went through the products and special offers with me but it never felt like a hard sell, she gave me the list to take away.

Clarins vs Decleor mother-to-be treatments  

You might recall that I had a Decleor mum-to-be treatment in Center Parcs – both are similarly priced, both feature a facial and massage with their range of top end products, both were great in terms of the therapists and rooms….. but Decleor’s treatment included a mask for your bump which was a really cute touch and felt lovely! Clarins, take note :)

Either way, a lovely treat for a mum-to-be or new mum. Did you have any spa treatments when you were pregnant or as a new mum?

Small print: I wasn’t asked to review or write this, I just wanted to share my experience with you!

Posted in beauty, parenting, pregnancy, reviews | Leave a comment

4 months old!: Weeks 17-18 of being a mummy: seaside and smiles

4 months old... a visit to Cardiff Bay.... new sleepsuits from Next.... manicured nails... windswept by the sea... 2 teeth!.. HMS Destroyer.. a llama at St Fagans food festival... and a garden scene!

4 months old… a visit to Cardiff Bay…. new sleepsuits from Next…. manicured nails… windswept by the sea… 2 teeth!.. HMS Destroyer.. a llama at St Fagans food festival… and a garden scene!

One thing I’ve learnt as a new mum is that every day is different, as is every night… you never know what to expect! So in the last update, I’d had my toughest time yet as baby W cut his first two teeth…. now the last 2 weeks, that seems like a distant memory as the pain has gone and been replaced by his smiles and laughs!

4 months old – loves

He turned 4 months last week – unbelievable! He loves smiling, loves being made to laugh, loves kicking away in his bouncer, still loves munching on his hand, comforter, Sophie the giraffe and anything else he can get his hands on (painful when he tries to munch our fingers now that he has teeth!!), he loves being carried by his dad in the BabyBjorn, he loves bathtime and loves looking at books and pictures, oh and faces and real people!

What we’ve been up to

We’ve had a few visitors, and fewer classes due to the summer hols. It’s been great to have the sun back, makes life so much easier as we can go for walks and use the garden as an extra room. We’ve had some really lovely family days out like visiting beautiful beaches Southerndown and Ogmore; and a fantastic food festival at our local outdoor museum, St Fagans. My sister and I also took W to Cardiff Bay to see all the warships that were in town for the NATO conference – and we saw Prince Charles! One to tell him when he’s older!

What I’ve been up to

I’ve had not one, but two, spa treatments – I will blog about them this week. I was supposed to be sorting out childcare but still not sorted anything yet #eek

Sleep

Still a distant memory! About a month ago, before he started teething, he was only waking up once at about 2-3am. Then teething messed that up, and now I believe we’re in ‘4 month sleep regression’ as he’s taken to waking up hungry at least 3 times -about 11pm, 1am and 4am. He settles ok after these feeds, helped by me whispering ‘twinkle twinkle….’ to him – the things you try!

Purchases

I exchanged a ‘duplicate’ present from Next last week, for some groovy sleepsuits which you might be able to see in the photo montage. They’re size 3-6 months old and they’re the only thing we’re lacking at the moment not that he’s in 3-6 months yet, still 0-3 months! One thing that’s changed in his wardrobe since the last update is that he’s now wearing bibs every day as he dribbles a lot more now (and also likes munching on them!)

Also bought a Bumbo chair which I then changed for the Mamas and Papas ‘snug chair – blog to follow!

And also bought the ‘no cry sleep solution’ book – wish me luck!

 

Enjoyed this update? Read the last update here and follow me on Twitter or Bloglovin so you never miss another update :)

 

 

Posted in my regular updates, parenting | 1 Comment

13 tips for mums-to-be: things that I wish I’d been told!

Your whole pregnancy and early days of motherhood are filled with tips and advice that other parents give you, most are really useful (e.g. buy lots of muslin squares) but not all are true (e.g. ‘sleep when baby sleeps’ isn’t helpful when your baby sleeps best while you’re walking him up a big hill or driving down the M4!)

Anyway this got me thinking about things I WASN’T told but wish I had been!

  1. Get fit – as soon as you find out you’re pregnant (ideally before, if you’re planning!) get as fit as you can – in the third trimester I had some real achy days where I ached from head to toe, and by then it was too late to do anything apart from pregnancy yoga – I should have done lots of swimming…. Being fit will also prepare you for labour which is the biggest workout of your life!
  2. Bump photos/Cinemama –  I used an app called CineMama which joined all my bump photos into a little video – a nice little momento of your pregnancy journey :) (I wish I had taken more/better photos – I was always in my PJ’s lol!)
  3. Join a community – ok so this is a tip I was given (but only by one person so it doesn’t count!) which was to join a Facebook group called ‘Due in May 2014′ which I did and it ended up being a great resource where you could ask stupid questions that you might not want to ask friends/family etc. And actually even more than, you could see questions that other members were asking that you hadn’t even thought of! By now it feels like a proper little community and I would recommend you find something similar whether it be Facebook, forums or *gasp* a real-life group!
  4. Everyone tells you to stock up on nappies and fill your freezer etc but I think you should also stock up on everything from loo roll, toothpaste, cat food to shower gel - your ‘nesting’ time is a perfect time to do this and fill up all your cupboards so that in the first few weeks you only need to worry about getting fresh food in – the more prep you can do in those last few weeks of pregnancy, the easier the first few weeks of parenthood will be!
  5. Leave tags on stuff/keep packaging – during that nesting period you will have the urge to make your nursery as beautiful as possible even though the little munchkin won’t be in there for another few months…. in doing so, I took some bedding, blankets out of its packaging but I’ve since realised we won’t need it as we were given so many so I could have taken them back. Ditto clothes – I would never exchange any gifts, but I could have exchanged stuff I’d bought that we wouldn’t end up needing….
  6. Get your screwdriver kit handy – for some reason, everything from our play gym to our sleep aid needs a screwdriver to change the batteries which reminds me…..
  7. Buy a range of batteries when you’re doing #4! AA, AAA, C, D… the list of battery types in baby equipment is endless!
  8. Get a copy of your yellow folder – when you’re pregnant, you get given a folder to take to every appointment. This becomes a record of your bump and scan measurements, and details of your labour…. when you’re signed off by the midwife about 10 days post-labour, she will take this folder with her and I so wish I had taken a copy before she had… so many memories!
  9. Breastfeeding is messy and smelly – you will get it all over your clothes and bedding! I was given all sorts of breastfeeding hints before baby arrived but nobody told me about the mess, or leakage… or random spraying! (Still well worth it mind!)
  10. The nights will be surreal – In those early few weeks I used to wake so often thinking that baby W was still on me, and said to my other half on a few occasions ‘can you take him off me?’ even though he was sound asleep in his basket! The sleepless nights are tough, but you’ll cope and get used to it!
  11. Poo comes out in the rain – despite having an expensive washing machine, the best thing I’ve found to get poo out of muslins and clothes is to leave them out in the rain- I think it’s the combination of UV light and volume of water that does it!
  12. Don’t buy too many shoes until baby has arrived – my shoe size has gone up one and when I mentioned this on Facebook and Twitter, turns out it’s quite common for your shoe size to go up or for your feet to get wider while/after you have a baby! (Wonder if it’s because you’ll be carrying a heavy load?!)
  13. Your beautiful baby might be spotty, have gammy eyes and have skin falling off – this is all normal during the first few weeks and will all clear up :)

Mums – have you got any tips/things that you learnt the hard way to add to this list?!

Posted in parenting, pregnancy | 14 Comments

Still addicted to my iPhone?

A week ago I set myself the challenge of cutting down on my iPhone usage as I was finding myself getting addicted to checking things like Facebook and Twitter a million times a day!

So how did I get on?

  • By leaving my phone in a different room for most of the day and only checking it during naptime I am definitely using it less – the temptation has gone!
  • However, I realised how much I use it for other things like the camera, notebook and baby apps  – so I’m using an old school notebook and pen – old school, I love it!
  • I unfollowed some of the parenting groups that I’m a member of, on Facebook – if I ever have a bored half hour I can check them, but they won’t clog up my feed (it turns out these are the only updates I ever seem to get as most non-parents are in work or living their lives lol!)
  • Although I don’t think I’m missing much on Facebook, I do miss getting involved in some of the Twitter banter with other mums etc!
  • First thing in the morning is the hardest – baby W has taken to getting us up at 7-7.30 and I’m like a zombie til about 10 – my usual fix is breakfast TV, the Wright Stuff, lots of tea and my phone – that’s been the hardest habit to break
  • I still find myself checking it when I go to bed… this is bad for ‘sleep hygiene’ and I’m tempted to leave it downstairs but it does come in handy for nightfeeds so we’ll see…

Overall result? I like to think I’m slightly less addicted, and if baby W is old enough to take note I hope he has noticed :)

Have you tried cutting down too? Any tips you can share with us?!

Posted in opinion, parenting | 2 Comments