Friday, 31 January 2014

The bed that ruined our holidays

As parents to two young children one of the most treasured and important things to us right now is sleep. I just can't seem to get enough of it. 

So this week my husband and I had the rare opportunity to have a night away in Nottingham. My husband was working but I got invited along too and spent the afternoon reading my book - yes, reading! After consuming over 120 pages of my book in the afternoon in the quiet and peace of stillness I felt very refreshed. I love my kids but it should be compulsory that all parents get a refresh every now and then it feels wonderful. After much needed time with my husband and a fantastic meal in the Hart Restaurant we settled down to sleep, exhausted from the day. 

I was so excited about the sleep part of our trip- a whole night of un-disturbed beauty sleep. No pitter patter of tiny feet to awake me at some unearthly hour begging to watch TV. But that isn't quite what happened. Some would have considered it a comfy matress but I just couldn't sleep because I had forgotten; our matress at home has ruined our holidays! 

At home you see around five years ago we looked to buy a new matress. After a grueling few hours in the showroom battling with my husband over firmness with no resolution we slumped onto a tempur - pedic matress unsure of what to do. It really happened just like that we fell onto the most comfy matress ever and the only one we had ever agreed on. The argument had been resolved. 

We brought it there and then sure that this would be the one. If you have never slept on a tempur matress you should. After about a week I was sleeping better than ever. I say about a week because as the sales assistant warned us the first night you get out of bed wondering what you have done then you adjust, and you just can't go back, or I can't anyway! 

The catch is, yesterday when we got back home from our night away, I was glad to sink down into my own bed and have that deep sleep that I wanted. This amazing tempur matress that allows me to sleep so well has also stopped me from enjoying my holidays. Now on holiday I pine for my comfy bed at home, spending all night tossing and turning. The only answer I can see to this problem is to find a hotel with tempur mattresses. Only problem is I don't know of any, do you? 

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Moments that mattered

Mummy's Little Monkey and Lloyd's Bank are asking about my favourite memories of 2013. To be honest there have been so many good ones (which I  will tell you about over the next few weeks), but the one that has been the most significant for me, is my move back to colour, my complete wardrobe makeover.

Somehow I had become this drab person, reflected in how I was dressing. My wardrobe had become blue, black and brown only and I wasn't sure how it had become that. I saw an advert on one of the mums forums for a new pilot makeover show and feeling adventurous and in desperate need of a complete wardrobe overhaul I applied and got chosen to feature in it. 

It was a crazy week where I spent 3 days in London filming, very different from my usual life of being Mummy. It broke my black cycle, gave me a whole new perspective and a new way to look at myself and my wardrobe. They reminded me that I needed to make time for me in order to give the best to my boys. They saw my vibrant and unique personality and helped me to put that into my outfits. I came out of the week of filming feeling enthused about what my wardrobe could be like, so I threw out all of my blue, black and brown. I then convinced my husband to take me shopping to buy my new much needed items, choosing bright pinks, skinny jeans and other vibrant choices. 

It was just what I needed, and that's why it's one of my most treasured memories of the year. I now feel like me again, the me before I had children, the me that is colourful and fun. I never thought that clothes would change who I was, and I guess they didn't totally but they had knocked my confidence! Six months on I have chopped off my hair, skinny jeans are my staple and I look at myself and smile.

If you want to know more about my fashion makeover, let me know and I will write a more detailed post about it all. 

My London Fashion Week Outfit

I would love to go to London Fashion Week, its always been a dream of mine. So even though with my two little ones its probably not going to happen this year, I have still put together my Lavish Alice outfit just in case, and perhaps this year might just be my year!

I hope you like my wishlist outfit:

What I should be wearing

What will you be wearing?
If you want to enter yourself check out the info graphic below with all of the details in it.

My M&S Magical Dining Room

M&S have teamed up with Love Chic Living to ask Bloggers to create their dream dining room to make those special dining moments, magical.

My theme for picking was luxury with a view to impressing my guests, with a hint of colour. Here is what I choose:

My M&S Magical Dining Room

Picture the scene: music is quietly playing in the background. The delicious smell of a three course meal is wafting from the kitchen into the dining room. We start the evening off with a glass of champagne (Oudinot Vintage 2004) before sitting down to eat. I chose the Sonoma extending dining table so that I could sit as little or as many special guests as I chose for my dinner party, but still have cosy dinners with the family too. The Alton Scroll dining chairs looked so very comfy to sit on, as my guests will be sitting there for the quite a while so they must be comfortable. Sat underneath the plush prism pendant light which will dazzle the whole evening through, you will feel like your sitting under luxury. Sat on the table in front of you is the slate table runner and placemats. Hardwearing and very practical but they look stunning with the turquoise accent of the plates, carafe and chairs. To go with my luxurious and magical dining experience I am serving:

Oudinot Vintage 2004
Caprese Salad 
Lemon Sole with Roasted Potatoes, Butternut Squash and Asparagus
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
Served with the Meal White Wine
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc

Finally I serve a delicious homemade carrot cake with lashings of cream cheese icing that everyone has been salivating over for the whole meal as it has been positioned in the domed cake stand in the centre of the table. All served with a glass of white wine.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Our perfect day at Center, Parcs

Tots 100 are asking what our perfect family day at Center Parcs would look like. I have never been to Center Parcs and in my mind I always pictured that it was for families with older kids, but after having a really good look at their website and inspirational videos my mind has been completely changed! In fact whilst I have been planning our perfect day out I have discovered there are so many family activities that I am wondering just what to choose. From owls to messy play, cycling to quad bikes and aerial adventures to the Aqua Sana spa there really is something for everyone.

First off in the morning we would head to the Teddy bears picnic as picked by my 22 month old (with some help from big his brother). With it being aimed at 2 -5 year olds it should be perfect for both of my boys and how exciting to follow the Teddy bears trail singing songs and listening to stories. I can't wait to see the faces of the boys when they get to meet Rupert Bear.
Teddy Bears Picnic
As we are already in the woods for our Teddy Bears picnic it seems only right to go on a nature hunt through the forest to explore, and to see what we can find. Perhaps we will spot a squirrel or two? My two boys love looking at leaves, finding bugs and spotting wildlife so this would be the perfect chance for them to explore and discover.

Exploring and looking at the forest.
Then it would be lunchtime, and I am ready for a sit down to refresh and revive before the afternoon. Our family choice would be the Pancake House. With savoury and sweet pancakes their should be something to suit everybody's tastes! I am already salivating at the thought of pancakes - they look delicious.
The Pancake House
Now we are feeling fully refreshed we head to the Sub tropical swimming paradise where we plan to spend the whole afternoon. We all love swimming and having had a very child centred morning it seems like the perfect activity that my husband will love doing too.  My eldest son also had his eye on the mini jet skis which look thrilling. We really enjoy encouraging him to be confident and adventurous so we would love to let him have a go. For my youngest they do a SwimaSong swim lesson which would be a great introduction to swimming. Finally a good splash and explore around the pool sounds like my idea of fun, where we are all together, having fun together.

Sub Tropical Swimming Paradise
Mini Jet Skis
SwimaSong Lesson
Finally after this fun filled day, the children would fall asleep as soon as their heads hit in the pillow in our cabin (hopefully), and my husband and I would get the time together that we very much need. Center Parcs have a Dining In service where they will bring food and wine straight to your cabin. Perfect for a cosy night in. The Standard Chinese Banquet Menu looks like a fantastic choice for us both accompanied with a bottle of Chardonnay. As we sit on the porch in the dusky moonlight we reflect on a refreshing family day, happy that we came. The perfect end to the perfect day.

Our family day was inspired by this video 'An adventure with little ones', and if you have little ones like me perhaps you to will be inspired to plan your perfect day with Center Parcs. What would you choose?

This is my entry to the Center Parcs and Tots 100 January Challenge. If i'm chosen, I would like to visit Sherwood Forest.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Why do I need this?

Like every excited expecting first time parent, I tried to resist the urge to buy every gadget and gizmo that everyone tells you that you need.  I was doing pretty well being occupied by a tandem pushchair with seats that configure in a million different positions (that might be a slight exaggeration), kids apps galore and a Trunki. I think that secretly every parent 'wants' their child to have a Trunki! Then came a new dilemma.

This is the potty!
When I got to potty training I wanted to be prepared, this was going to be a whole new experience and I wanted to get it right. We were living in the USA at the time and I found that the media was telling me that I needed a 'singing potty' or one with fully integrated gaming capacity. Perhaps a potty with a working flush, or that you could plug your iPod into? I think not. I was adamant that I needed a plain hardwearing potty that could be fully immersed for cleaning and steralisation, no gadgetry, no batteries required and definitely no gimmicks. It was more difficult than just popping to Tesco's to buy one but I finally managed to find one online; lovely, plain and red. We introduced it early on at bath time when there was no pressure, and my son took to it quickly.  When he decided to potty train properly, he was obsessed with it, so I felt that I had picked well. It came everywhere with us and I battled to get him to use the toilet instead, and in the end I accidentally left it in the car which went to work with my husband, oops!

I do wonder if my son's obsession with the potty was also a reflection of the trauma he had with the green child's toilet training seat we brought to go on our toilet. Being honest I thought that a training seat was a training seat? Wrong again! Normally when I buy something I spend time looking and reading reviews, checking out the different options. But this was just a toilet training seat, what did it matter? My only requirements were that it needed to be moulded plastic and fully immersible for easy cleaning.

This is the green training seat, now hung on our wall!
I am kicking myself on my own lack of judgement. I picked a green one to make it appealing, and it was. My real issues lie with how it functions; it doesn't. Imagine this, my son is climbing up to position himself on the seat and as he is rotating the seat slips sidewards and he is unable to sit down. For any normal adult this would be fine, but for a toddler this is extremely frustrating mainly because when they need to go, they need to go. Then there is the bottom pinch. My son finally manages to sit on it and as he moves slightly to change positions it pinches his bottom, or worse as he stands it gets stuck to him. Finally my biggest frustration with the seat comes when because of the seat slide stuff just doesn't go where its supposed to, leaving me with a big mess to clear up and a very embarrassed toddler for something that really isn't his fault. I am sure that not all training seats have such a big design flaw, but this one does. It is lacking the ability to clip and be secure on the toilet seat! Please I urge you don't make this same mistake.

In hindsight with a three year old who just now sits on the normal toilet I wish I had never brought the training seat at all. It now sits neatly on a hook on our bathroom wall as a piece of wall art. My youngest son (who will be 2 soon) will under no circumstances sit on anything but the toilet, he refuses the potty I am still in denial that he might be ready to train, as he seems too young (I will tell you all about that another day!)

Monday, 20 January 2014

Heroes of the City App Review

A few weeks ago I brought you a giveaway from Ruta Ett DVD AB and now I would like to tell you a bit more about their app that I have been reviewing. I downloaded the app onto both my iPhone and my iPad and with it being aimed at preschoolers aged 2 - 6 it was perfect for both of my boys to use. 

The Heroes of the City has more than six hours of movies and nine games and so there is plenty to keep little hands busy.

When you open up the app you get to choose which section you would like to go into - Movies, Games, Trophies or Store.  My youngest who is 1, has been very taken with the Movies section of the App which shows episodes. The music is lovely in the movie and we all really liked the opening song during the titles. Each episode is 14 minutes long which for us as a family is a good length, and it has been funny to see my two boys crammed around my iPhone watching it. In the movie episodes you get to know some of the key characters such as Pauli who is a police car and Fiona the fire engine along with lots of other characters. The movie episodes are well animated and the characters are very lovable. When asked my son told me that Fiona Fire Engine is his favourite.  I liked as a parent is that each story focuses a lot on friendship, which I believe is really important. It shows that caring for each other and looked out for other people is  a good thing to do, demonstrating this through the stories. It also highlights that anyone can be a hero; ordinary people can be extraordinary when they are caring and looking out for others. If you want to have a sneaky peak at a trailer you can here: Trailer.

The games section was great for my son who is 3, having had a bit of a play myself some of them are quite tricky. I liked the challenge as my son wanted to keep trying and playing, which stops him getting bored but also teaches him perseverance and patience - two qualities which I am keen for him to learn. My sons favourite game is with Fiona Fire Engine where you have to put the fire out by aiming the water hose. With each game it has different levels, and then you can collect trophies for your achievements which unlock additional bonus things. My son loves playing the matching pairs, or putting the pieces into the jigsaw puzzle to reveal characters from the movie. Each game also has sound accompaniment which puts me at ease with being able to supervise by being in earshot, knowing exactly what he is doing by the sound the app is making. 

I downloaded the app onto my my iPhone and my iPad of which it works really well on both, however both of my boys prefer to watch and play on the iPad as the screen is bigger. Having it downloaded on my phone is a really good distraction when we are out and about and I need a distraction quickly for the boys. There is a parental control feature in the store section so you can be assured that your kids aren't going to download something they shouldn't. I really like this feature and I now look for it when I am picking new apps. You can also download extras in the store such as additional movies and games too if you wish. 

If you want to download it yourself or find out more you can here:

Overall I think it is a fantastic app and I would recommend as it has so much to do in it, and its educational too. Both of my boys love it, and its lovely to have an app that plays movies and games. Finally if you have any questions let me know. 

I was sent a copy of the app in order to review it, but all opinions expressed in this review are my own. 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Which watch would you choose?

The Watch Gallery and etailPR are asking bloggers which watch would you choose? You can find out more about the competition here on the etailPR blog.

Anyone that knows my husband would know that he loves watches and takes great pride in wearing one. The one I have picked is a bit out of my price range, but I am allowed to dream! So here it is:

Its the Tag Heuer Formula 1 Steel and Ceramic Mens Watch£2,350. I have chosen it because my husband loves the F1 (and secretly so do I - not that I admit that very often), he likes the metal straps and the deployment buckle which this watch has. The watch is water resistant to 200m which is important when you do bath time regularly with your children (just in case you forget to take it off). The style is classic, elegant and stylish, but different enough to make people look at work. The sapphire crystal is scratch resistant which with my husband being so practical and hands on is an important feature. Overall it is a pretty impressive watch and I think my husband would love it!

What would you choose and why?

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Ectopic pregnancy - my unexpected November

Some of you will know (and some of you will not) that in November I was rushed into hospital, where I ended up with emergency surgery for a ruptured Ectopic Pregnancy.

Being honest, I knew very little about Ectopic's myself and I don't know anyone who has had one. Or if they have, they have never said. Lets ensure we are all on the same page, it is a big deal!  Big deal or not, I don't want to keep it a secret, I don't want it to become another taboo thing that no-one talks about because its important we do! Perhaps if I had known more, or known what to look for I would still have two fallopian tubes. With this in mind, please read, share and feel free to ask questions however stupid, big or small I am happy to answer (if I can).  The following details my experience.

Let me start by saying that I didn't know I was pregnant, in fact I was adamant that I wasn't, I shouldn't be! I had what I thought was a normal period a few weeks before, and I didn't have any of the key 'indicators' that I had had in my two previous pregnancies. In fact one of the only clues was a few days of very light spotting, which being out of character for me I had been to see the doctor about just a few days before (he had referred me for a scan). What I didn't know is that spotting can be one of the signs of an ectopic - characterised as 'unusual bleeding'. If you want to find out more about the key symptoms of an ectopic I recommend reading the NHS page, as it sums it up pretty well.

On that Monday, I had just being doing normal Mum things. My job list had reached about a million bullet points and I was gradually starting to work my way down it. I had dropped my eldest Son off at play school and my youngest son was busy playing whilst I was sitting down, calling councils, drafting out a letter and returning emails. It happened very quickly and without warning, one minute I was fine and the next I had searing abdominal pain. I tried to stand (don't ask me why!) and I struggled up, thinking I was going to faint I sat right back down again. The pain reminded me of that final moment just before you have to push your baby out when your in labour. This worried me a lot, as, as far as I knew I wasn't pregnant and I certainly didn't have a baby to push out.

My practical head kicked in very quickly, I needed help, and quick. I called my Dad, as my other options were too far away and asked him to check on me in 30 minutes, giving time for the painkillers I had grabbed to kick in (which did nothing in case you are wondered). I also was going to need him to collect my eldest son from play school, whilst I called the ambulance. When the ambulance arrived my eldest son was very excited. Who wouldn't be, to a 3 year old an ambulance sitting on your drive is an amazing thing, and what was even more exciting is that Mummy was going to get to ride in it! My youngest son, who is only 1, was not so sure and despite me reassuring him that Daddy (who had also arrived home) would look after him, he was not so sure, he struggled the most and has been quite clingy since.

The ambulance crew were excellent, but A & E was really busy. With it being busy I had a lot of time to think, and I had guessed that I was most likely pregnant, and something was really not right. I have seen one of my friends miscarrying and I felt that that didn't fit with what I was feeling. They kept asking me if I had pain more on one side, which is very typical with ectopic pregnancies. But the pain was so severe I couldn't distinguish which side it was on. About 5 hours in from when the pain had started came the worse pain of all. Up until this point I had been very calm, so calm that the ambulance man told me I needed to work on my pain face. I started to get this shooting pain, which went from my abdomen up to my the middle of my shoulder, it was like cramp, only worse, much worse and it only got more painful every time it came. I didn't know at the time that this is the clearest indicator there is for a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.

I am extremely thankful to the ob-gyn doctor that I saw in the hospital as before he had even examined me, he had made a judgment call that this had a high possibility of ending in emergency surgery. He, without mentioning the surgery part put everything in place to make it as easy as possible for all of the staff that followed him. I can only imagine how scared my husband felt seeing my body weaken and my life hang in the balance, it is only in hindsight that I see how close I was to the edge. It all happened so quickly and within hours of arriving at the hospital I was being prepared for theatre.

At 2am, groggy but awake after theatre, I saw my husband before he disappeared home to sleep and I was moved onto the ward. The operation was successful, but they had to remove my right fallopian tube due to a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. It was keyhole and I have 3 of the most tiniest scars. This still impresses me that even with it being an emergency to look at me you would never know what had happened. I only stayed in hospital for one night (the night they operated) and then came home the next day.

When an ectopic is in your fallopian tube there is nothing they can do to save it, no miracle cure. Believe me in the weeks where I was in recovery I searched high and low looking for answers finding out more about ectopics. But the truth is they can't do anything. Your body isn't geared up to have a baby anywhere but in your womb.

My family have been amazing in the recovery process, being patient with me. I lost a lot of blood and my body needed time to pull itself back together, and thats hard when you have two small children. Friends have also been so kind in their words and support too.

What I find interesting is the reaction you get from people when you tell them. Its a bit of a conversation killer to be honest! My husband has found it very hard when people say "I am so sorry about the baby", as I know deep down he wants to shout "What about the part where my wife nearly died?". Random people have asked if they can hug me - its weird! I really don't want to be hugged by a stranger. Yes I lost a baby, and yes I am terribly sad about that, but what people forget is that my life hung in the balance too. The thought of not being with my two very special little boys that I have already scares me far more than the baby I lost.

Life does go on after an ectopic pregnancy and yes if I want to and I can still get pregnant again even with only one tube. The risk having an ectopic normally is 1 in 100, but after an ectopic its 1 in 10, even higher within the first few months after.  The whole situation was, and still is a lot for everyone to handle and we need time to heal emotionally too, before fully looking to the future and planning for the years ahead.

Finally, emotionally I am not sure that I am ready to move on yet.  I don't have all of the words to describe to people how I feel about the ectopic pregnancy, not just a pregnancy - a baby, my third baby. I hope to write more about how I feel about this baby, when time has spent more time healing. But for now, this baby will always remain with me, in my thoughts, my family's thoughts and is already in its place in heaven.

Winter Style Challenge

Debenhams have been asking bloggers to create their favourite Winter outfits, so here are mine:

Look 1 - The Warm & Cosy Winter look

Total £160.98

Look 2 - Time to Party

Total £245.49

I hope you like them and happy shopping!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Heroes of the City Giveaway

I have been asked to review the Heroes of the City app for both iPad / iPhone and Android aimed at preschoolers aged 2 - 6. Once we have had a good play around with the app, we will let you know how we have got on with it. We are very excited about it, as it is about rescue vehicles in a small town where everyone gets to be a hero and they all help each other out.

You can download or find out more about the app here on the AppStore or on GooglePlay 

This is what you could win!
In the meantime Ruta Ett DVD AB are giving you the chance to win the Heroes of the City DVD, Book and toys, as shown in the picture above. All you have to do to enter is complete the steps on the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is sponsored. Open to UK residents only. The promoter will sent out the prize directly to the winner once I received their contact details. The prize will be a book, DVD and toys but may not be exactly the same as shown in the picture above but will be similar. Once the winner has been chosen I will contact them via email, and they will have 48 hours to respond or I will re-draw. Please do complete the steps that you tick on the Rafflecopter as I do check. Thank you.

Friday, 3 January 2014

The Carrot Cake Catastrophe!

Parragon Books have sent me a new book to review as part of their Book Buddies Scheme. The Carrot Cake Catastrophe by Elizabeth Dale and Gemma Raynor.

Its a lovely book and is becoming one of my favourites to read to my boys, as it a heartwarming tale about Jenny, a young rabbit who wants to make her Mummy a surprise birthday cake. In the story she enlists Grandad to help her to make the carrot cake, but Grandad doesn't have very good eyesight and accidentally puts some of the wrong ingredients in; like soap instead of butter and the eggs whole, shell and all. It is a fantastic story and I don't want to spoil the end for you, so you will have to read it to find out what happens to Jenny and Grandad's surprise cake when mummy gets home.

This is us ready to go - my son was in charge of
carrot peeling

Both of my boys really like the story, my eldest whose 3 particularly found it funny and enjoyed it. I love it when he laughs out loud and giggles at the storyline. The pictures are really well illustrated and the characters are very inviting visually as you are reading it. What is really lovely is that at the end of the book there is a recipe included to make your own carrot cake. So Jake and I thought that we would have a go….

This is the mixture ready to go in the oven.
The recipe was really easy to follow and I am really pleased with how the cake turned out (its pretty tasty as well). We did almost have our own "cake catastrophe" whilst making it, as my youngest turned off my electric scales while I was sieving out the flour. Luckily for me I bake often enough to know roughly how much goes in per spoonful, so I was able to guess, and the recipe turned out perfect. I love carrot cake and the icing tastes delicious!

Here it is the finished Carrot Cake!

I would definitely recommend this lovely heartwarming story, The Carrot Cake Catastrophe, by Elizabeth Dale and Gemma Raynor.

It would make a lovely gift for a budding baker. You can get it here on Amazon if you want to buy it for £5.99 which I think is a great price for such a fun book. 

This review is my own opinion, and I received a copy of the book in order to review it.