Thursday 29 May 2014

1st Birthday Plans

Eliot's 1st birthday is fast approaching. In less than a month we will be celebrating. I still can't quite believe it, it feels like yesterday I was walking around with my baby bump and now my baby is turning 1!

For his birthday we have a couple of things planned. Luckily it falls on a Thursday when I'm off work so I didn't have to try and swap it. The OH has booked it off so we are looking forward to spending this special day together as a family. On the actual day we have something quite exciting to do (more on that at the time), then we will probably have a picnic and then we are going to Battersea park zoo. Eliot loves animals so hopefully he will really enjoy it. I'm sure we will see a couple of relatives too!
Present wise I have been buying stuff for ages, as far back as the Christmas sales. One thing we do need to get is a toy washing machine as he's absolutely obsessed with the real thing.
My mum has bought him a Little Tikes trike which I can't wait to get him on, he'll love it (I hope!).

A couple of days later on the Saturday we are having a little gathering of close family and friends at ours. We have gone for a bee themed party after I was inspired a few months ago by Hannah's (from Make Do and Push) Pinterest board most of which I added to my board.  Eliot has a cuddly toy that he used to love that I named bumble because it resembles a bee and he is a summer baby so the bee theme seems perfect.
I have been buying party bits over time, Now I think we're just about ready with party decorations.
I am planning to make a cake myself in the shape of a 1 so I do need to buy a cake tin.
We of course have to do a cake smash (with a shop bought cake) and I will be following Hayley's tips from Sparkles & Stretchmarks. I will also be following some of the food tips from Kelly's from To Become Mum post. If you haven't checked those posts out and you're planning a 1st birthday I def recommend having a read!
I am super excited about his Birthday and all the new things to come but at the same time sad my baby will not be a baby for much longer.

Some of the party bits

What are your planning for your little ones first birthday?

My Life As A Mummy

Monday 26 May 2014

Baby Bjorn Cups REVIEW

I don't know about you but I wasn't aware that Baby Bjorn did weaning products. When I  thought Baby Bjorn I thought baby carriers! However they do have a range of fab products and we've been trying out their baby cup.

This innovative design was born when one of the product developers for Baby Bjorn noticed how tricky it was for his own 18 month old daughter to transition to a drinking cup. So he set himself the challenge of producing a cup suitable for babies/toddlers. One that was easy to learn to drink from, wasn't breakable and wasn't easy to knock over.
The developer and his team spent a long time producing this cup from watching and analysing how babies/toddlers drink to constructing several prototypes. They also interviewed parents and had their children try them out. Until they got to the design you see today! Here's the science bit...
 The cup is made 'stable through a low centre gravity and a rubber strip on the bottom'
A rim at the bottom on the outer edge also allows it to slide, rather than fall over when knocked or pushed by a little one.
Overall it took about to years to get the result they wanted.
So, what did we think of it? On first glance I just loved the bright colours and look of the Baby Bjorn cup. A big plus point for me is that they're BPA free as are all of their plastic products.  It's also dishwasher, microwave and freezer safe, always a bonus as I've come across a few products that can't be used in the microwave! It also has the measure on the clear part so you can see how much your child is drinking.
The first time we used it I put a little drop of water in the bottom to see how Eliot got on. Immediately he picked it up and tried to drink from it. He needed assistance to lift it up to drink the water and did seem a bit confused by the water flowing freely not like when sucking on a cup or bottle. Over time he has got the hang of how to use it and this is due its design making it easy to grip.
He is a 'typical' boy and loves throwing and bashing things about so he's not quite ready to be left independently with it as his water would be everywhere! Although he hasn't been able to push or knock it over, it just slides as mentioned above.
Additionally it has been great for using as a feeding pot, we've been using it for cereal and fruit. It is recommended as suitable from 8 months but would be great to use it as a feeding pot before this and as a cup when your baby is ready.
Baby Bjorn products are available to buy from a selection of stores, you can see them here.

Have you tried any of the Baby Bjorn weaning range?

* We were sent these cups for the purpose of review. All opinions are entirely my own.

Family Fever

Eliot's 11 Month Update

My little man, I can't believe that in one month I will be writing your 1 year update, 1 year! I can't believe that you've been in our lives for 11 months.
We looked back on some video clips when you were around 2 months, if we didn't have them it would be hard to believe you were ever that small.You seem like such a little boy now and not a baby!
You have hit some big milestones this month, you have just started to crawl and can pull your self up to stand. Here's a little clip of you on the move...
You were fine at the end, there wasn't a bump fortunately but you did have a big bump the other day. Which worried mummy and daddy but you stopped crying quickly and went back to your usual self.
You still like to walk around holding on to our hands but now you know you can get to what you want independently you will plonk yourself down and start crawling (usually towards the washing machine).
You also have two new teeth! That have come through next to each of the top two. I think you are still teething as you keep putting your fingers in your mouth and chewing them.
You are strong willed and we've seen glimpses of tantrums to come! You don't like being taken away from something you are enjoying like the swing or washing machine. When I change your nappy you can be very wriggly, making change time increasingly difficult! Sometimes when I'm carrying you and go into or leave a room you will start thrashing around and whinging because you don't want to go in or leave.
I'm not sure if I've mentioned that you give kisses, not always but sometimes you will give us a sloppy kiss! You like giving pictures and toys kisses!
You are also waving now which is very cute!
We've had some lovely weather this month so we've enjoyed picnics and parks.

 Blurry photos of you standing as you can't keep still!

You still love your food but have had a funny few dinner times when you've refused to eat most of it but I think this is due to you teething. You also like to taste food before you eat it just to make sure you like it!
Bottles are still the same, you have three a day, two 7oz and a 5oz.

We haven't checked your weight but your 8-12 month check with the health visitor will be soon so we will find out then.    

You are now wearing mostly 12-18 month stuff, even some of that only just fits but there are still a few larger 9-12 month bits that still fit you.

You have been waking up quite frequently because you have got yourself into an awkward position and can't turn back. As I've said I think your teeth have been bothering you so that's disturbed your sleep. Thankfully so far you are pretty happy going back to sleep.. 

My cheeky monkey

Your Likes/Dislikes

  • You are obsessed with the washing machine and will sit for ages putting stuff in and taking stuff out
Other than that I don't think there's anything else that is too much different from a couple of months ago apart from you are much happier in your 'big boy carseat' than your old one!

I still can't believe you will be a whole  year next month!
Love you lots
Binky Linky

Thursday 22 May 2014

Inner City Gems-Center Parcs' May Blogger Challenge

Over the past few weeks, London has been blessed with some glorious weather and what better way to enjoy such days than getting out and about! We all know the British weather is consistently temperamental so I believe you need to make the most of the sunny days we do get.
Living in London it's easy to forget that any serenity and greenery exists amidst the busy hustle and bustle. 
But take a leisurely stroll and you will surely come across some inner city gems.
Take Battersea Park for example, a beautiful green space with wildlife, a boating lake and even a zoo!
It's also home to a Peace Pagoda, a Buddhist stupa making it easy to contemplate you are not even in  London.
On our stroll around the beautiful gardens, we took a break to feed some of the resident ducks. Much to my surprise a heron flapped over and got stuck in with the carb heavy feast!
I adore animals so I was thrilled when the heron joined the ducks. I didn't expect to come across herons on our city park wander.
Here are another couple of herons we spotted as we walked through the secluded paths. Not as confident and/or hungry as the previous heron as they didn't budge when we fed another group of ducks.
Of course the pigeons flocked towards us rapidly to get in on the bread action. Now I know the majority of people dislike pigeons, I don't. In fact I feel sorry for them with the amount of  hatred they get. Regardless of their unpopularity there's no denying that they are iconic city wildlife, you will find them everywhere!

When the weather is good you just have to get in a bit of alfresco dining. On our walk we enjoyed a family picnic.
Time to take a break and recharge! Time to savour summer tastes and enjoy the sunshine. Time to chill out with loved ones. Time to admire the clear blue skies and do a bit of plane spotting...
High in the sky or on the descent to Heathrow. A stark reminder you are actually in London!
It was also an opportunity to snap some of these precious moments. I do love a selfie but it is hard to get little ones to cooperate! My cardigan is clearly more interesting!
And as a finale to our outdoor family time locally, Eliot enjoyed a jaunt on the swings...the smile says it all! 
On a recent venture out of London, we took advantage of the countryside gems! Almost no traffic and fields upon fields of green, with the odd flock of sheep and herds of cows here and there.  Extremely peaceful and relaxing!

 We made several attempts at some family selfies but as usual the little man was distracted by something else!

Rich Heath from Center Parcs gives four tips when getting snap happy outdoors. I'm torn so I have two favourites, taking family selfies for those precious memories and capturing nature, you never know when you'll come across that wildlife again!

*This is my entry to the Center Parcs and Tots100 May challenge. If I'm chosen, I would like to visit Longleat Forest

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Sheridan AW14 Collection

Last week I attended the Shridan press event in central London. If you haven't heard of Sheridan before they are an Australian brand with innovative designs that ooze the highest quality.
On arrival I was offered some prosecco but I opted for sparkling water instead, better to be safe than sorry when I was returning home to mummy duties! Before I had a chance to look at the collection I was lucky enough to get a manicure, what a treat! Whilst my nails were being beautified I eyed up this gorgeous bedding. I loved the peacock inspired print.
When my nails were (almost) good to go after I'd already smudged them once I was shown the rest of the collection by one of their lovely team.
I am a HUGE fan of floral print so this bedding was right up my street! I love how the stripes work so well with the floral.
Later this year Sheridan's loungwear range for men and women will also be available, from basic cottons to wrap overs.

My favourite piece from the clothing collection had to be this cardigan with knot feature. I love grey, it's lightweight and that knot helps hide some sins!
Overall though my favourite collection was the baby range. This striped blanket is so adorable and the blue blanket to the left is named the 'Elliott blanket'. A firm fave as it shares the same name as Eliot!
I must admit I do get jealous of girls clothes and accessories as they are so pretty. It was the same with Sheridan's bedding rnage. Just look at this beautiful print on a baby sleep bag!
Have you browsed the Sheridan collection yet?

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Did you know?

Did you know we're on You Tube?! Here's my channel link.

I started vlogging a few weeks ago now. It's lots of fun but quite time consuming, although I know it will be worth it in the future to look back on videos of Eliot!

It would make my day if you popped over to check out my channel and subscribe if parent vlogs are your cup of tea!
If there's anything you'd like to see in particular then leave me a comment :)

I'm also looking for parent blogger's channels  I haven't come across yet, if you're on You Tube too do leave your link below so I can pop over and subscribe!

Here's my most recent vlog... The Super Mum tag. Have you done it yet?

Binky Linky

My Life As A Mummy

Monday 19 May 2014

Baby's First Belvita #MorningStories

Ahh the mornings, not my favourite time of day for several reasons. Here are a few...
  • I have to leave my bed (and may not of had a good nights sleep!)
  • I need to be organised (not my forte!)
  • I need to organise everyone else (and by everyone else I mean my other half & baby)
Thankfully at present I am just working three days a week. These are the mornings that are more hectic! On the days I'm not at work I can follow a more relaxed pace. They usually go like this...
Eliot likes his sleep so normally wakes up between 7am-8am. The first thing we do is a nappy change (very swiftly) and then t's time for his much loved bottle.

After about twenty minutes we will have breakfast together. I think it's great to have a variety of breakfasts as it prevents boredom with the same old same old!

We were recently sent some packs of Belvita biscuits to try out and I was looking forward to this new mix in our morning routine.
I actually used to carry Belvita biscuits round as snack when I was pregnant and didn't really think of them as a breakfast choice. However with four simple steps they give you a balanced breakfast.
  1. Belvita breakfast biscuits
  2. A portion of fruit
  3. A serving of dairy
  4. A drink to hydrate you
They are also 'the only breakfast biscuit proven to slowly release carbohydrates over 4 hours'
and are
rich in cereals, a source of fibre, made with wholegrains, have a selection of vitamins and minerals and don't contain colours or preservatives.

I was keen to see if the four steps helped keep my hunger at bay until lunch time. So was Eliot, as you can see in the photos (and video clip)  below.

He definitely welcomed this new combination for breakfast. It can easily be varied too, with the flavour of Belvita, the fruit and the dairy portion.
To my surprise the four steps did keep me satisfied until lunch time!
I had enjoyed the flavours I tried in the past but I'd never tried the biscuits with the yogurt filling. For some reason I wasn't particularly attracted to them. But boy am I glad I have given them a taste! The new yogurt crunch with cocoa biscuits flavour, is my favourite so far!

Enjoying Belvita's 4 steps to a balanced breakfast.
 The four steps are perfect when I am working and everything is always a rush! I just grab a packet of Belvitas, a piece of fruit and a yogurt drink to have on route or when I get to work. Quick and simple but also getting a balanced brekkie!
My top tip for making the most of the mornings (when getting out of the house) is prepare the night before. So get lunches ready, get clothes to be worn out and have bags packed! It just saves some precious time in those early hours! And don't do what I did last week and forget your baby's bottle and have to go back!
This post is an entry for the #MorningStories Linky Challenge sponsored by belVita Breakfast. Learn more at
*We were sent packs of Belvita biscuits for this post. All opinions are my own.

Friday 16 May 2014

That's Not My Class...

That's not my class...

They're not the children who learned and grew with my precious bump cargo.

That's not my class...

They're not the children who my colleague and I took on a London sights tour that was a disaster.

That's not my class...

They're not the children who I picnicked with and threw a party for in my final week before maternity leave.

That's not my class...

They're not the children I said goodbye to on 7th June 2013.

That's not my class...

They're not the children who squealed with excitement when I returned a few weeks later with my baby boy.

That's not my class...

They're not the children who gave me a group hug on the same day.

That's not my class...

They're not the children who wrote me letters, congratulating me on my new baby and asked questions about him.

That's not my class...

They're not the children who whispered 'It's Miss Turner' and waved during assembly when I returned to work on 4th April 2014.

That's not my class...

The class I've taken over ARE the children who lost a fantastic teacher when she left at Easter. 
They ARE the children who are trying to get their heads round having Miss Turner for three days a week and another for the other two.
They ARE the children who I will be writing reports about, yet I barely know them.

They ARE NOT my class.

Returning to work is always going to have some sort of impact on emotions for numerous reasons. 

I didn't expect to feel the way I do.
I am used to teaching a new class from the start of the academic year in September. 
Some of the children I taught before gong on maternity leave had been in my class for nearly two years. 
Robin Class 2012/13 were the children I taught when I found out I was pregnant, they were part of that special time as I spent five days a week with them. 
Robin Class 2012/13 will always hold a special place in my memory, not only because my bump grew with them but because they are a wonderful group of kids!

How did you feel if you returned to work after maternity leave? Did things feel different?

Binky Linky

Sunday 11 May 2014

The Ordinary Moments #11 Explosions Of The Nappy Kind!

All parents have no doubt encountered many a nappy explosion, they are a perfectly normal ordinary moment. They are just one reminder how life is different as a parent.
Just a few weeks old...

Back in the early days Eliot would have fairly regular nappy explosions and of course they weren't always at home, no, no, no!
 Eliot wasn't mortified when one of his 'explosions' leaked onto the floor in Tescos last summer, nor was he embarrassed when his poop escaped on a train journey and ended up all over me. Nope, the boy was and still remains un-phased about these incidents ;)

These two incidents are particularly crystal clear, like they happened last week. But they didn't, Eliot was a few weeks old. Now he is just over a month away from his first birthday. This is just a stark reminder of how quick time flies and how the ordinary moments can be so precious.

 Now I'm not saying Eliot's nappy explosions are precious, but how small he was is. How much he's grown and changed since then, is. In just over a months time he will turn one. I still can't comprehend how quickly the time has flown.
That's why the ordinary moments are special!
Taken these week on his first Thomas ride.

Wednesday 7 May 2014


I've been sitting on this post for a while now because I waited a long time for a response to a complaint. I then escalated it further by contacting the CEO. Please share with other parents! Here's why you should always check the label...

On route to our holiday last month we stopped off at a Harvester restaurant for dinner, the Harvester in Beaconsfield to be more exact! I've always found them family friendly, certainly not gourmet but not a rip off for the food they sell.

We ordered our food and a jar of baby food for Eliot. We wanted to eat quick and continue with our journey so a jar seemed like the best option for him. Our meal arrived but there was no sign of Eliot's. I asked the waitress who apologised it hadn't been warmed and she bought the jar in some hot water to the table. And boy am I glad it wasn't served out of the jar! When I went to open it I happened to catch the use by date, March 2014. We were now in APRIL!

I'll continue via the complaint I sent via Harvester's online form...

Myself, partner and nine month old baby boy visited the restaurant whilst on route to our holiday destination.

We ordered our meal and asked what baby food options were available, there was only one.

When our meal arrived there was no sign of the baby food and I had to mention it to the waitress. It had not been prepared so it was brought to the table in a cup of hot water and my hungry son had to wait. As I was about to open the jar I happened to check the use by date which was 03/2014. As well as being served food after ours, my son was served food that could potentially make him unwell. I told the next member of staff who came by and asked to speak to the manager. When the manager came over several minutes later he didn't appear too concerned about the matter. He apologised and when asked, said there were systems in place to check the baby food and he would sort some more quickly.

The waitress who served us came over and also apologised. We could then see her searching for more baby food. It was apparent there wasn't any and after some time she returned to apologise again for not having any more baby food available. She said that not many people order baby food so they don't stock much. As a chain of restaurants that won an award for being family friendly in 2013 I think it's poor to say the least that there was only one jar in stock. One that was out of date! You cannot have staff giving that excuse to customers when baby food is advertised on the kids menu and you hold a family friendly award!

We ordered some pasta off the children's menu for our son to eat, who had obviously then been waiting a long time.

The manager came over and said he would take half off the bill, then later said he would take care of the whole bill. I'm fairly satisfied that the situation was rectified as well as it could be in the restaurant.

However,I would like to know what systems as a company you have in place for keeping on top of sell by dates of baby food? Why was there only one jar available when the menu says something along the lines of 'choose from a selection'?
 I expected to get a response pretty quickly, even to just acknowledge they'd received my complaint. A couple of days passed and I hadn't heard a peep. I called Mitchells & Butlers who manage a range of brands including Harvester to follow up my complaint. The first time it was the weekend and I spoke with security. When I tried again I was told the Harvester customer care team were not in and to call back later. I was annoyed to say the least so I attempted to find another way of contacting them. I'd already discovered they didn't have a Twitter account but found a page on facebook, so I sent them a message.

I was told my complaint was being investigated by the area manager and that I would hear from someone soon. I left it at that, intrigued to find out how long it would actually take for them to get back to me. A week passed...nothing.  It had been over two weeks since I'd sent my original complaint, I was fuming. Was my sons health and that of other babies of little concern?! Ok, Eliot didn't eat it, it didn't make him ill but the fact was it could have done, not to mention they would have been in breach of some sort of health and safety regulations.
 So  I wrote another message via facebook asking them to give me the CEO contact details (which I'd already found through the wonder of the web, I was just curious to see their response) as I felt my complaint hadn't been taken seriously.
Shortly after I received this response...


No mention of the CEO's contact details as expected! Then another response... 

I'm assuming Julie got in contact with the relevant people with a bit more haste as an hour or so later I received a phone call from the area manager.
To cut a long phone call short...He apologised and took full responsibility for nobody getting in contact with me sooner, he told me what measures had taken place since the incident and I was told I would receive some gift codes if we chose to visit a Harvester in the future.

I still felt unhappy that it took so long to get back to me, I felt unhappy that I didn't really get a clear explanation as to why there was out of date baby food in the restaurant. Was my sons health to the value of a Harvester meal?

Prior to the phone call with the area manager I already knew I would be contacting the CEO of Mitchells and Butlers, Alistair Darby.  

The only real positive I got from this was how long it took for him to respond, he was very swift! But all he did was pass it back down to the people below to deal with.
 I understand he's the 'big fish in the pond' but I'd specifically asked him questions that were directed at him. Questions that required his personal response but he didn't answer them. No 'sorry' was received either. It's an utter disgrace that a CEO couldn't apologise that Eliot was served out of date baby food in one of their brands. Ok, not his fault but sorry doesn't cost a thing!

 The fact that Harvester has won an award for being 'Best Friendly Restaurant 2013' is a joke considering how we were treated.

Have you ever experienced something similar? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

                                                    Binky Linky

Thank you so much for stopping by! I appreciate comments and read all of them!