Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Peppa Pig World !!!


So,  I finally made the effort to take Ernie to Peppa Pig World at Paultons Family Theme Park - and it didn't disappoint.

I say made the effort, as it's quite a trek from where I live, but we had an opportunity to stay in Dorchester for a few nights - so decided to do it.


It's situated on the edge of the New Forest National Park - which is a really beautiful place to visit. So if you've got the time, you could make a bigger trip out of it.

There are lots of lovely things to do in the surrounding area - and really we could have done with spacing it out over two days - as I found it hard with a child of Ernie's age to fit it all into one day - he didn't quite have the patience (to queue) or the energy.

I've just seen here that they've introduced glamping, in a fully equipped bell tent, which would be an excellent way to extend your stay.


Paultons is easy to find being just off exit 2 of the M27. It's well signposted by brown tourist signs along the motorway.

My favourite part of the whole experience was Mr Potatoes Playground. It's really sweet, and a great place for under twos.

It's worth familiarising yourself with the map online before you get there, so you have an idea of what you'd like to prioritise.

Or do what we did and just head for the rides with the shortest queues!



On that note, here's my top tips for Peppa Pig World...

* Keep all your valuables in an easy to carry bag, as you'll have to ditch your buggy for most of the rides.

* If you can bring a picnic, there are lots of nice spots throughout the park to enjoy it.

* Bring swimwear, swimming nappies, and towels for your little ones, so that they can enjoy the  muddy puddle fountains in Mr Potatoes Playground.

* Pack socks for everyone - for inside George's Spaceship Playzone.

* Get there as early as you can, so that you've got time to see the rest of Paultons - theres a beautiful river walk, lots of exotic birds, penguins, and meerkats to see too.

*Cream your kids beforehand, with plenty of SPF, it's hard to pin them down once you get there!

* If you want to avoid buying anything in the gift shop, bring a handful of the Peppa stuff you already own to distract them with.

* And beware that theres no way of completely avoiding said gift shop - you're forced to exit through a pretty amazing one.

* On the flip side, if you're in the market for some new toys, this is a awesome place to shop.

* Children under a meter get in for free, so you might want to capitalise on this before it's too late - and ditch any adults who aren't that bothered - as they'll bump up the price considerably.

* Tickets are cheaper online in advance, and cut down on queuing.


Monday, 8 June 2015

My return to fertility after Breastfeeding


‪I read recently that Dr Geeta Nargund, a consultant gynaecologist at St George’s Hospital in London, has said it’s important women and girls learn about fertility from a younger age - and I couldn't agree more!

‪I was really emotional and angry after first reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler after months of failing to conceive. I realised that I knew hardly anything about that part of my body, you know the part that makes me a woman - I now strongly believe every woman and young girl should know about how their body works and to be able to interpret their fertility.

‪I've since read it from cover to cover, before/during/and after pregnancy, I have been able to use all her wonderful information to actually know what’s going on in terms of my reproductive health - which has been so empowering!

‪I've shared the information with countless (equally clueless) friends, and my copy of the book is currently doing the rounds too.

‪So in this post I'm going to try my best to document my return to fertility post childbirth and breastfeeding - as I found there was hardly any legit first hand information on the web.

‪There's plenty of professional advice, but maybe my experience could be helpful for anyone of you who, like me, have been left wondering what’s going on inside you, and if/when you might be able to get pregnant again - after breast feeding for bloody ages!

‪I gave birth to Ernie on 3rd August 2013. I conceived him 8 months after coming off the pill Dianette. It took a long time after coming off of the pill for my menstrual cycle to return, and the few months before I got pregnant I still had a fairly long 34 day cycle.

‪I was ovulating around CD20 and had roughly a two week luteal phase.

‪I can' tell you what length my cycles were before going on the pill - as I didn't have a clue about any of this stuff - as no one seems to see it fit to educate girls on such matters!

‪I experienced some minor bleeding in early pregnancy around week 6/7, but thankfully everything was fine.

‪After giving birth I had around a month of normal lochia (post birth bleeding) and then nothing for 19 months.

‪Hurrah for the joys of Lactational Amenorrhea.

‪Basically because I exclusively breastfeed (on demand), no dummies or comforters, and co-slept, my body remained infertile - I also think the fact that Ernie fed frequently throughout the night helped matters most.

‪Now obviously there are always exceptions to the rule when it comes to this, but for me, it wasn't until I stopped breastfeeding at 16 months, that I got my first post-birth period around 8 weeks later.

‪Towards the end of breastfeeding I had started to experience symptoms - in the form of random fertile quality cervical mucus - that my body was gearing up to ovulate.

‪I also suffered from PMS-type symptoms – symptoms of an oncoming period without the period – for months before my period returned.

‪So it was around this time that I took precautionary measures to not get pregnant.

‪Before then I was pretty certain that I couldn't - and I didn't. You could say I was practicing LAM - the Lactational Amenorrhea Method of birth control - though I've never temped or charted, so not officially.

‪When my period did finally return I was experiencing delayed ovulation and a luteal phase too short to sustain a pregnancy - which is to be expected.

‪However, on my third, I experienced a text book 'normal' 28 day cycle with a two week luteal phase, so I going to assume, that my body has finally made it's return to full fertility - as mother nature intended.

‪I've also been using some cheap internet ovulation tests (I can recommend these ones) to confirm when I've felt that I might be ovulating.

‪This is only my experience - just like everyone’s pregnancies are different - I'm sure all this stuff can be too, but I wanted to make a record of this information, as I now know what it feels like to be breastfeeding and wondering when my fertility would make a return.

‪Please feel free to ask me any questions in comment section below. Or share your own experience!

‪And let's hope that Education Secretary Nicky Morgan listens to Dr Geeta Nargund's plea for fertility lessons to be included in the national curriculum to “empower people to take control of their fertility”.


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Peppa Pig at the Spa Valley Railway

It's fair to say I really didn't get the whole 'Peppa Pig' thing before I had Ernie. I knew that my niece was really into it, and I had gotten her few bits of merchandise over the years, but the little that I had seen of the actual show annoyed me - so much so that I swore I would never let my kids watch it?!

The trouble is, there's something magical about Peppa - one episode and Ernie was hooked!

It's by far his favourite show, and through seeing how happy it makes him, I've grown to like it too.

So when we spotted a poster to see Peppa Pig at the Tunbridge Wells Spa Valley Railway, we couldn't resist - especially considering that Peppa Pig world is bloody miles away from us, and this is basically in our back garden.

So I thought I'd share the wonderful day out we made of it... as I can't recommend it enough.

*Providing that your child is a Peppa nut like mine!!


After arriving at the station we were invited to watch a few episodes of Peppa Pig - which was screening in this cute little cinema.


There were also some really sweet train sets for the children to play with. Along with Peppa, they also do Days out with Thomas the Tank Engine, and Fireman Sam.


Riding on the steam train was really fun. It was packed full of children, so Ernie could make as much noise as he liked, and nobody minded - which made a nice change.



The train travels from Tunbridge Wells, to Groombridge - through some beautiful and unusual countryside.



I thought he might get scared meeting Peppa but he actually really liked it - she even got a kiss out of him... lucky pig.




We headed to a sweet playground just a short walk from the station.
Along with meeting Peppa, you get a balloon too. Just watch out for when it pops!


Then off to the rocks - Groombridge is famous for Harrison's Rocks, the sandstone outcrop to the south of the village. We managed to go for quite a big walk all through the woods - considering that we had to lug the Maclaren along with us!


Lastly we went to The Junction Inn, a pub near the station, for a really good roast dinner. It's also got a great child friendly garden - full of climbing frames.

There's another Peppa Pig day on the 27th August, and plenty of other fun days on the steam train too - including a Teddy Bears day out.

For more information visit www.spavalleyrailway.co.uk


Friday, 22 May 2015

Easy Peasy Fairy Cakes Recipe


I have to start this post by saying that there is nothing healthy about these cakes... They are pure unadulterated sugary goodness!

I baked these with Ernie as we were both a bit bored, and it's the perfect recipe for teaching little ones how to crack eggs and whip up a smooth, lump free icing to drizzle on top - and a lot of fun was had with the sprinkles!

Perfect for a Friday treat.

Ingredients

100g Softened butter
100g Caster sugar
2 Large eggs
100g Self-raising flour
1 level tsp Baking powder
12 Baking cases

For the icing:
225g Sifted icing sugar
2–3tbsp Warm water
Sprinkles, to decorate

Preparation method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C fan/180°C/gas mark 6. Place fairy cake cases into a 12-hole bun tin, to keep a good even shape as they bake.

2. Measure all the ingredients into a large bowl and beat for 2-3 mins until the mixture is well blended and smooth. Fill each paper case with the mixture.

3. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 15–20 minutes until the cakes are well risen and golden brown. Lift the paper cases out of the bun tin and cool the cakes on a wire rack.

4. Put the icing sugar in a bowl and gradually blend in the warm water until you have a fairly stiff icing. Spoon over the top of the cakes and decorate with sprinkles.



Saturday, 16 May 2015

Baby on Board


I don't like flying at the best of times, and flying with Ernie now fills me with dread (though it's rarely ever as bad as I anticipate) - breastfeeding was a lifesaver for me and made him an angel to travel with as a baby! He would nurse and fall right to sleep for most of the flight. Once I stopped around 16 months, I had to find other ways to keep him busy and content.

Ten (very varied) flights later I've learnt that either way it's best to fly well prepared, and because there's nothing like experience - here's what I've learnt so far...

WHAT TO EXPECT

Security - You'll most likely be directed to a dedicated 'family' friendly airport security - you might look at the shorter queue and think you've lucked out, but in my experience it takes twice as long for families to get through!

Fluid limits - You can take enough baby food, baby milk, and water for the journey - even if it's over 100ml. Just remember to put it all in clear plastic bags for going through security - Same goes for any liquid medicines. Sterilised water must be in a baby bottle to be allowed through. The security staff at the airport might ask you to open the containers to screen the liquids and ask you to taste them. You can order milk from airport branches of Boots and collect it before take-off. I also found some organic 1/2 pint bottles of fresh cow's milk in Boots the last time I flew too - which is handy if you're flying with a toddler.

Bring a basic buggy - Whichever buggy you decide to bring, bear in mind that it will get as beat up as your suitcase, so you might want to re-think bringing your best one. It's worth picking up a cheapie pushchair, or a second hand Maclaren. All you have to do is declare it at check-in and the steward will print you a lable and attach it to however many bits your buggy breaks down into. You can check it in with your suitcases or hand it over as you board the plane. You'll most likely pick it up off the carousel, along with your bags at your destination.

Guard against air pressure changes - When air pressure changes on a flight, it can hurst your baby's ears and cause distress. They don't know to yawn or swallow to relieve the pressure, but the sucking motion can help. So be sure to bottle or breastfeed your baby on take off and landing especially - or let your baby suck on a dummy, if they use one. The one time I didn't feed Ernie on landing he really suffered for it. So another tip off the back of that experience is to pack a spare top for yourself and outfit for your child - to cope with the inevitable projectile vomit!

Nappy changing isn't easy - Most planes have a flip-down baby change area in the toilet, but it's such a small space. So plan in a nappy change before boarding. If you can avoid changing a nappy on the plane, all the better! On long-haul flights this won't be possible, so be sure to pact a compact nappy-changing kit with just the essentials to make it easier.


Don't stress about your child making noise - try not to worry about your baby's crying bothering fellow passengers (I know easier said than done) but we're hardwired to hear our own childs cries, but the noise will bother others far less. Also aeroplanes are louder than you think, so the noise will be drowned out a lot - just take deep breaths and try not to get upset.

WHAT TO BRING

Pack smart - I take a nappy bag, and a bag of entertainment - including snacks. Divide everything into smaller, clear bags - then you can just grab what you need. Bring plenty of non-perishable snacks in single-serving packets - and pouches of baby food are easier to eat from than jars. I try to keep it as healthy as possible, and bring food I know Ernie likes. Ella's Kitchen, and Goodies, do great snacks. I know mothers who pack emergency sweets and chocolates in case of a total meltdown!

Entertainment - The best thing I've found so far, is to pack a load of kids magazines - the kind that come wrapped up with loads of plastic toys, colouring books, and crayons on the front. They provide hours of fun, and they usually contain a few stories - so you don't have to lug around a load of books. You may also want to consider pre-loading a tablet (if you've got one) with kiddie apps, cartoons, and maybe even a favourite film. I bought this Fisher Price protective case for mine, and am really happy with it - the best thing it does is it prevents Ernie from being able to press the home button on the iPad - which is a real pain!


A sling - Even though you can take your buggy to the gate before you get on the plane, there's most likely going to be a big walk once you get off, before you get it back - and that’s a long way to have to carry a potentially sleeping child. Especially if you don't have help with your other bags. Or keep your eyes peeled for an airport pushchair - I've seen them at Gatwick, and in Copenhagen - so they do exist!

Pain relief - Don't even think about traveling without those handy sachets of Calpol!


and...RELAX

It's a good idea to stick roughly to your usual routine, but try not to be too precious about it. Accept that things may go off-piste a little and allow yourself to take some shortcuts you wouldn't at home - like that emergency meltdown chocolate...

It’s never going to be all fun and games travelling with a baby or toddler but with these tips, a bag full of tricks, and a stiff drink, you'll survive!

What’s your experience of flying with kids? Any other advice?

Here's a throwback to what I posted after my first ever flight with Ernie.


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Toddler Madness and Tenerife


Sorry for the severe lack of posts, but being a mummy to a 21 month old toddler is seriously kicking my butt!

Give me a newborn any day...

Now don't get me wrong, when Ernie's in a good mood he's a joy to be around - he's talking all the time, saying and doing the cutest little things - but when he's tired/bored/ill/or frustrated... well... this parenting sh*t just got real!

The testing state is in full effect and I fear that the terrible twos every parent speaks of, are on the way, and I'm not even sure that it will end there.

I've seen a few threenagers in action and it isn't pretty!!!

Fear not though - this isn't me announcing that I'm having a nervous breakdown, I'm learning to laugh it off, have a glass of wine (or two), and roll with it.

But it's fair to say that I've felt pretty overwhelmed lately.

I just want to keep thing's as real as I can here - it's not always hearts and emoji kisses, and with blogs and social media, you're almost always going to post the 'perfect' pictures, but it's important to recognise that there are plenty of rough days too.

At this stage in the game it seems like everyone you chat to wants to know if you're planning another one, and that's fair enough - I'm asking friends too.

So I'll be honest, for quite some time now I've been contemplating whether or not we're ready for #2, and just when I think I am, I have a bad day and put the brakes on the idea.

I know I want to have another baby somewhat close in age to Ernie, but the first year and half have been all consuming for me. 

All normal stuff, and in the best possible way, but it's taking me a while to build up the strength and resilience I feel I need as a mother to be able to weather the bad times along with the good.

And I've felt so wrapped up in the baby I've got, that I get anxious just thinking about the reality of having a second.

As we approach his 2nd birthday, if things are easing up a bit, I think I could get my head around having another one.

Here's hoping!

With all that said... now on to the sweet pictures from the last week on our family holiday in Tenerife, that really do make it all worth it...​


We stayed in place called Los Realejos - it's a town in the northern part of the island of Tenerife, which forms part of the Canary Islands. 


We rented a villa, that I found on air&b, you can see more here www.haciendacuatroventanas.com

It was a beautiful place to stay, and the owner Alberto provided us with plenty of baby essentials for Ernie.



Ernie developed a great love for the seaside, here he is playing on El Soccoro beach, 200 meters from the villa. I loved the black volcanic sand.


 I was really pleased with this Surf Sunsafe Suit from next - for added protection from the sun.


A shameless selfie



Love them or hate them these Crocs were a huge hit for me. I have the hardest time getting this child to wear shoes. Ernie wore these no problem, and they're easy to slip on and off. 



I'm forever taking snaps of these two. This view never gets old.


I ran into some pretty crappy airplane and milk drama! So I plan on posting some updated flight and travel tips for families soon.


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