Monday, 16 October 2017

When you just can't get to sleep.....

My son loves reading he is 6 years old and a pretty confident reader, I have always encouraged reading from a young age and love reading myself so as such we are fortunate enough to get through lots of books!

Hibernation Hotel is a story about Bear.

A Brown Bear that was already late for hibernation time but he just could not get to sleep. With an overcrowded, noisy, smelly cave he makes his way to a fancy hotel to get himself some comfort and peace and quiet.

With a wake up call scheduled for the 1st March he set about hibernating after he had enjoyed many of the things that staying in a hotel offers. Finally settling into bed he felt sleepy and as he is about to drift off to sleep other guests in the hotel have different ideas by hosting a party!

 Will Bear ever get to sleep?

This is a lovely story about all those reasons we find that we cannot settle and get to sleep and the illustrations are wonderful, my son loved the funny illustrations in the book and often made comments as we were reading on his interpretation of the illustrations.

When he had finished reading the book I asked him if he had enjoyed reading the book and he said it was really good. Alex is a huge fan of animals and he loves reading factual and fictional books that feature almost any kind of animal so this book was a huge hit with him.

He liked that the font was larger in the book and said it made it easier to read and more enjoyable to read alone. 

It was lovely to see him read the book alone, taking in the comical illustrations and commenting as he read the text on what he thought of the illustrations on each page including when Bear drank water from the toilet bowl, Alex thought this was disgusting!

A lovely book for you to read to your child and also for a child to read to themselves. 

Hibernation Hotel written by John Kelly and illustrated by Laura Brenlla.
Published by Little Tiger Press 

I received this book free of charge in exchange for my opinion.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Role Play Toys - Leapfrog Shapes & Sharing Picnic Basket

As a mum I have always remembered how when I was a child I enjoyed toys that involved an element of role play and with my son I struggled with this, he didn't enjoy his kitchen or playhouse both of which I enjoyed as a young child, so when my daughter came along I really thought about the types of toys that she would enjoy as a young child.

My daughter was born at the end of January so one of the gifts that she received was the Leapfrog Shapes & Sharing Picnic Basket. Admittedly it was me that fell in love with it more, the bright colours and sounds I was sure it would be a hit.

One of the main things I like about the Leapfrog range of toys is that they use British Voices which I find really helpful when your child is at the age where they are just starting to learn to talk and it also has 2 volume levels.

There is a large, brightly coloured butterfly button to the front that when pressed plays up to 30 audio responses.

Having had this from the age of 12 months it has become a very popular toy with my daughter and now at 19months of age she really enjoys the role play aspect, setting up the picnic blanket and setting out the food before then pretending to eat and drink.

 This is a lovely gift for both boys and girls alike, as it helps them to recognise shapes and colours with the help of the audio button with the preset phrases.

As with all of the Leapfrog toys they are robust and with a toddler dropping them at height and banging them around they show absolutely no signs of wear.

A 14 piece picnic basket which contains a picnic blanket, 2 plates, 2 forks, 2 cups, 6 pieces of food and the picnic basket itself.

This review is based on my own opinion and experience of using the toy with my daughter and it was provided as a gift by a family member.

Recommended from the age of 6-36months.
Requires 3 x AA batteries

Monday, 14 August 2017

Ford Fiesta Titanium - Mummy's Review

Last month I discovered that my long lasting car, affectionately known to me as Freddie was no longer viable to repair and keep so the time had come to look for a new car, however with a tight budget and two young children I needed something that could match my 2005 Ford focus in size.

I had forever longed for a Ford Fiesta, yes, lots of other amazing cars out there but I have always had Fords, they have served me well, Freddy for example had been with me since the age of 3 so I was thrilled when my husband said he had found a White Fiesta for me to look at. I was so excited as it had been my preferred choice, fast forward 4 weeks and I find myself not with the White Fiesta we initially bought, but with a Silver Fiesta whilst my new red car was to be prepped. It is a very long story which I may go into at another time but for now this is a review on the car I had for 2 weeks.

As a mum of 2 young children, the car had to offer space so what better time to check it out than on a trip to the Zoo.
For a family of 4 the fiesta matched my needs, most of the time it is just me and my 2 children and as you can see they are more than happy in the back!

This is my honest review of the Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium 2017.

As for the boot space, I bought a pram that was lightweight and collapsed small as I had managed with a large chassis with my son and wanted something to make life easier and as you can see it takes up half of the boot, and the pushchair unit sits comfortably on top with a small amount of space to spare.

Fitting the car seats to the rear, the car does have isofix but unfortunately my previous car didn't so I need to look at upgrading them as they are currently forward facing seats secured via the lap and diagonal belt.
To fit the seats safely I had to remove the rear head restraints or the seats would not fit correctly.

Ok, first off the main Fiesta range do all look similar and unless you are a bit of a Ford Geek like I am you can not really tell the Style from the Zetec or the Zetec from the Titanium, they are basically all similar apart from a change in alloy and the interior specifications.

The Titanium to me does look a little more edgy with the privacy glass in the rear of the car and tinted windscreen. Definitely a bonus when having children in the back as it does help shade the sun without the need for sun visors sticking onto the windows.

The Eco Boost 1.0L engine actually offers a higher bhp than my 1.5tdci although I found it struggled a little at time and didn't appear to be as quick off the mark as my diesel, however my husband said the facts state otherwise and I will agree to be proved wrong.

The car claims to be pretty fuel efficient offering 65mpg, now my husband had the pleasure of driving this car twice once it exchanged hands and well, he doesn't drive very economically compared with me who averages 27mph on the school runs and village drives that I tend to do. £15 of fuel provided just under half a tank of fuel and just under 150 miles, now 3 days later we have 90 miles left before refuelling.
I struggled to get it higher than 40mpg again quite a difference compared with my diesel that offers me around 64mpg as a comparison.

Inside the car it's pretty spacious and I found it not much smaller compared to my focus.
The titanium has an upgraded stereo with the Sony DAB system in place which I found an absolute nightmare to just get in the car and operate, one where you definitely need to read the manual before attempting to use it whilst driving and my husband agreed.

The bluetooth feature in the car is great for calling hands free or answering calls whilst driving if required.

I liked the novelty of the puddle lights on the wing mirrors illuminating your path as you get into the car as well as the illuminated footwell, something that comes in quite handy when you have two children and something gets dropped on the dark and you need to locate it when leaving the car.

Child locks are easily activated using the key, a feature I would love to see Ford introduce is the lock system via the driver controls, much easier and much more user friendly.

Getting the kids in and out of the car is simple enough, there is plenty of room behind the seats for my 2 children to be seated comfortably at 6 years old and 1 year old.
There is a small amount of space between the two seats but not enough for a 3rd passenger in the rear of the car when 2 car seats are in place.

Cruise Control, not something I tend to use, as I only go on short journeys

Auto Dimming Rear View Mirror
I found this slightly intrusive whilst driving it seemed to cause a bit of a blind spot when driving and the positioning and design was slightly distracting.

Sony Stereo System
This looks super sleek but isn't really very user friendly, I didn't really get to grips with it in the fortnight that I used the car and I definitely needed to read the manual to work out how to even tune the radio in!

Underneath is the climate control which is a digital display a lot easier to control the temperature compared with the manual control in the Zetec version.

Overall if you are looking for a car that will accommodate the school runs, days out and will comfortably fit 2 adults and 2 children then the Fiesta does offer that.
It is great fun to drive with great steering and handling and the interior is finished off to a good standard.

If you have any questions then feel free to leave a comment on this blog post.

This car was a courtesy car for a 2 week period. All views and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Pampers the Premium Nappy that never fails.

As a mum, many people ask which brand of nappies are best and as you can expect there are always lots of opinions. I used Pampers Baby Dry for my son almost 6 years ago and was keen to use them again with my daughter this year.

I initially started using Pampers New Baby and I have to say I was disappointed, when the nappies were wet there was a strong odour although I did like the wetness indicator whilst having a newborn. I switched over to leading supermarket brands and found I did start to prefer them but I had one issue, they were fairly bulky.
When my daughter became more mobile I wanted a thinner nappy and decided to give the Pampers Baby Dry a go and see if they suited her. They did and I have not bought another brand since.

I was excited when I was asked to join the Pampers Project over on Super Savvy Me as there was a new design for the Baby Dry Nappies and I was looking forward to seeing how they could perform even better.

The new and improved Pampers Baby Dry did not disappoint, there are now 3 absorbing channels in the nappy which is really noticeable compared to the older design. The wetness is evenly distributed rather than all pooling together and dragging the nappy down.

The wetness is locked away from the skin which means I don't have to worry if my daughter sleeps for longer than 8 hours as I know she will still be fairly dry.

When it comes to putting my daughter to bed for the night I do not trust any other brand than Pampers Baby Dry. There is no strong odour given off by the nappies and they suit my mobile 9 month old very well.

The nappies are thin but perform as well, if not better than before. When the nappy is full it's easy to see the three channels and how well they work at distributing the wetness away from baby's skin.

I received a pack of Pampers Baby Dry to try for myself in exchange for my opinion on the brand.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Following on with the milk....

As part of The Insiders Team I was selected to participate in the SMA® PRO campaign. As my daughter was still on first milk at the age of 8 months, I wasn't too sure if I had wanted to move her over to follow on milk and wasn't sure of the advantages in doing so.

When I had my son over 5 years ago I followed the advice set out by midwives and brands, and as my son hit 6 months moved him onto follow on milk without actually knowing the reason or difference as to why I should. As my daughter had been exclusively breastfed up to the age of 6 months, I had intended to just go straight onto follow on milk but by speaking to other mum's had made the decision to go onto First Milk.

I started on Cow & Gate as that was the brand I ended up sticking with last time and decided there was no reason to switch so when this campaign appeared I thought I would look a bit more into it.

Within my pack I received the following to sample and offer feedback
  • 1x 800g tin of SMA® PRO Follow-on Milk with NUTRI-STEPS®
  • 1x 1l carton of SMA® PRO Follow-on Milk with NUTRI-STEPS®
  • 1x campaign guide
  • 1x market research booklet
  • 4x 200ml cartons of SMA® PRO Follow-on Milk with NUTRI-STEPS®. 

To share with other interested parents:
  • 10x Baby Food Diaries with £2 money off their next purchase of 1x 800g tins of SMA® PRO Follow-on Milk with NUTRI-STEPS®.

So what is SMA PRO?
The PRO in SMA® PRO range symbolises a progression in their formulations carrying a sense of Progress, Professional and a change in process. It represents some of their most advanced formulas yet.

SMA claimed to have something different, they claim to have an exclusive Protein Process BUT what does this actually mean?

After scrolling through all the FAQs I am still not completely clear. SMA are not giving anything away, they simply claim it is an innovative protein technology that is not found in any other UK Formula. They stated that the exclusive process modifies the whey fraction of the protein found in cows' milk and creates a better amino acid profile.

Now one of the reasons I was keen to stick with First Milk was because I had heard that Follow on Milk contained more sugar, after comparing like for like with SMA First Milk and the Follow on Milk this is simply not true. There is less sugar in follow on milk.

Overall the nutritional information appears to be pretty similar so for me that theory was thrown out, it was almost identical to first milk.

We have now been using the Follow On Milk for over 2 weeks now and my daughter seems pretty happy with it, she drinks it with no bother and seems to not have as much wind.

As for her stools we have not recognised many changes since switching as we were suffering with stubborn stools on the previous formula and since switching we have noticed a difference. 

So are there benefits from switching from First Milk to follow on milk?
I have to be honest and say that I haven't really noticed that much of a difference with my daughter. She is taking less milk now and is eating more solid foods and as the follow on milk has been formulated to complement the weaning diet. As a baby still relies on milk, SMA aims to help leave room for solids so that the milk doesn't fill baby's tummy up restricting the amount of solids that the baby takes in. Based on this theory this is probably why we are seeing a drop in the level of milk she is now consuming and her interest in more solid foods.

Now we are on Follow on milk, I think we will stick with it now as it does seem to work well with my daughter. 

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Boost your skin for hydration.

Do you have a skincare routine? No me neither, quite frankly with two young children looking after myself normally comes a little lower in the pecking list so I am often lucky if I can manage to get out of the house in the mornings with a brush put through my hair!

As a Bzz member, I often get the chance to try products for free or for less so when the Neutrogena HydroBoost Campaign Invite arrived I snapped it up!

Lack of sleep goes without saying when you have a baby and well, for the past 5 years I haven't always had the best sleep routine and as we all know that can leave the skin to become imbalanced and causes it to become dehydrated and along then come the redness and spot breakouts, something that for me had started to return a few months after baby no.2 had arrived.
We all know that drinking water is great as it keeps you hydrated and is good for the skin so discovering the HydroBoost range has been great as it promises to lock in hydration.

I was fortunate enough to receive the Hydroboost Gel Cleanser to sample, a full size bottle that I started to use when I was brushing my teeth, two birds with one stone.
The gel comes in a pump dispenser to it was quickly dispensed, mix with a small amount of water and lather onto the face before rinsing off. Job Done. A quick but simple change to my morning routine that was easy to manage and what was more it really helped my skin.

The gel is non sticky and lightweight so there was no residue left on your hands after lathering and rinsing off and your skin doesn't feel tight and greasy, my face just felt, well hydrated!

After using the gel for over a week, I did become aware that so many people commented how well I looked and one person even said how fresh faced I looked!

I have managed to more or less stick to this routine and on occasion would use the gel in the shower in addition to the morning routine after a work out.
Since using the water gel, I have not suffered from any breakouts or dry patches and feel confident to go out without any make up on, even if it is just on the school run.

As mentioned I received this product free of charge as a Bzz Campaigner.

RRP £7.99

Friday, 30 September 2016

A new love for fitbit

As a long term user of a fitbit, I have had both the flex and the charge, so when my charge became defective recently I was offered the Alta as a replacement.

Admittedly I wasn't too happy as I enjoyed the charge and how it functioned but was promised by fitbit that this would soon fit in with me and when I received it I have to admit that they quite possibly were right!

WOW! Fitbit have seriously upped their game, the Alta arrived and the first thing I noticed was how much more luxurious the packaging looked compared to when I had received the Flex and Charge previously in simple packaging.

The Alta already looked much more stylish with the magnetic clasp on the box and the little booklets and tabs to remove them from the box, it appears a lot of thought had gone into the design and all the little touches had not gone unnoticed. It felt like Christmas.

What's Included?

  • Removable Fitbit Alta Tracker
  • Classic Wristband
  • Charging Cable
  • Wireless Sync Dongle

    I was surprised to lift out the fitbit and discover how much heavier it felt compared with the charge, although the narrower band appealed to me once more.

    The Alta looks a lot more like a premium product and finally looks like a product to warrant the expensive price tags that fitbits have always carried.

    A sleek design, I loved the charger how it acted as a bulldog clip to clip onto the Alta and charge via the USB cable.
    Adding the device to the app was simple enough as it is located via Bluetooth.

    It took just over an hour to charge via the USB and then it was ready to go.

    So what's different? 
    If you are reading this then you know what they are and are looking at deciding which one to opt for. Alta never figured as a choice for me as if I was to change from the Charge I was looking to opt for the Blaze however with the launch of the new Charge 2 that was now on the list to opt for.

    The Alta has a clear OLED Tap display, now this is the one thing I am not keen on, the tap display, call me old school I prefer to have a button to press or a touch screen, I always find the tap hit and miss.

    Fitbit appear to have listed to their customers with many wanting interchangeable straps, something only the flex really offered up until recently but now the blaze and the alta and the charge 2 offer interchangeable bands making it easier to use more often and to fit in with any occasion.

    The Alta looks stylish on and is a lot less bulky, and I just wished it did the heart rate as well and I would be truly happy.

    One of the key features that I like is the vibration to encourage you to get moving, something I think is an added bonus compared to the earlier versions, a slight vibration and you know you have been sedentary for too long and to get up and go for a walk.

    It is sweat proof, which is excellent for me as I sweat plenty when I work out and although it states you can wear the Alta in the shower, I don't think I will be trying this.
    The Alta is a stainless steel tracker and it does contain nickel so if you are allergic to this it is something to bear in mind if you are looking to choose this fitbit.

    As well as measuring steps, distance, active minutes, calories burned and sleep, it also will record workouts automatically. It also will display the time and your smartphone notifications.

    Overall I think fitbit are doing well, continuing to be innovative and offering what the customer wants and of course excellent customer service.

    Is this the one for me?
    If you want a fitbit to track steps and track sleep then the Alta ticks all the boxes, but there are alternatives such as the Flex 2 but bear in mind that this does not display the time, for me I find it much more motivation to have on screen display as there are times when it's not convenient to have your mobile on hand and I also like that you can receive your notifications via the Alta.

    The Flex 2 however is swim proof so if your main form of exercise is swimming you may want to look at this option.

    The fitbit Alta was provided to me as a replacement for the defective Charge which is now discontinued.
    RRP £99.99