Monday 28 August 2017

Eliot You Are 4! An Update

At your pre-school graduation ceremony
Surprise surprise, this update is overdue but this time it's just a couple of months late! There have been lots of changes in the time since your last update too!


I suppose the biggest change that is about to happen any day now is that you're about to become a big brother. You're not exactly excited at this prospect but I'm sure once your new sibling is here and things have settled down you will love being a big brother. You are keen to have a sister so we have been working on helping you understand it might be a brother which at times you are really not happy about! You have said you want to push the pram and help change (non poop) nappies so I'm looking forward to your assistance.
You are also about to start 'big school' which you have told a couple of people you are 'worried about'. It is a big change as you were so settled in your pre-school and had lots of lovely friends but you are soooo ready for Reception and you'll make lots of new friends which is part of the adventure!
You don't realise it yet but you love to learn, you ask questions and soak up lots of different information like a sponge. I think you will be much better at maths than mummy was, you count to 20 and beyond recognizing the numbers, if there is an unfamiliar number on a bus you will ask which number it is. You know the 'plus' and 'minus' symbols from one of your number puzzles and have an understanding of what they mean. I have a feeling math's is going to be one of the things you most enjoy at school.
You still enjoy books, mainly at bedtime but there are occasions where you will sit and look through a book by yourself, telling the story. We went through a phase of  practicing letter sounds with your alphabet cards every night, you know the alphabet sounds and can read and spell bus, cat, dog and a few other words.
You're still not keen on drawing and writing but have started to draw pictures of people which are very cute! You occasionally spontaneously decide your going to try and write something, like the other week when your tried writing letters from your name.
Before the summer holidays you did have a settling in morning at your new school which you went in to confidently and before pre-school broke up you had a graduation ceremony which made mummy very emotional! You were given a certificate and leaving gift by your key worker, Lisa who you you enjoyed joking around with and called 'pineapple head'.
 Earlier on in the year with the help of some of your pre-school staff we made a break through with potty training! You use the toilet independently, although there are still times you avoid going and hold wee in. We're still working on poo's but you have made such progress to where you were at Christmas.
 Your behaviour continues to be extremely challenging at times, when you're good you're really really good but when your at the other end of the spectrum you like to push boundaries to the limit or have epic meltdowns. I must add though you were a complete angel at pre-school so I hope your good behaviour carries on in your new school!
You had your three year boosters at the beginning of the year, it was a struggle to even get you in the room. There was a nurse on either arm ready to get the two injections over together. I had phoned to pre-warn the nurse of your phobia but I don't think she realised how difficult you would be. Thankfully we are over and done with all your immunisations, so hopefully there won't be anymore injections for some time!
You did have tonsillitis in June which meant you needed antibiotics which was a bit of a nightmare as you don't take medicine. Four times a day was a challenge but we bribed you with sweets and a sticker chart. You would let pre-school staff give you the antibiotics without any objections which was rather frustrating.

Over recent weeks you have all of a sudden become quite fussy with food, you ate cheese (cheddar) and cheese sandwiches like there was no tomorrow! Then one day you declared 'I don't serve cheese anymore!'. So you've quit eating cheddar but will have soft cheese sandwiches, you've also gone off cucumber saying you don't want it. You do still love egg and will request egg sandwiches or an egg!
Of course you still love naughty foods and would quite happily eat them all the time. As I've said before I know you ate more of a range of foods at pre-school so hopefully you will do the same at school.
Not keen on having a picture with mummy at your pre-school graduation
You were sleeping through pretty much every night until around June. You have been waking up most nights and getting into bed next to mummy. I think all the changes that are due to happen are playing on your mind and this is disturbing your sleep.
On a trip to Southend with Nana J & big cousin Ella
I'm sure you've been weighed at some point but I'm not sure how much you weigh at the moment.
You are wearing most clothes in size 4-5 years. Some 3-4 clothes still fit but as I've said before it can vary so much though depending on where the clothes are from. You do seem to have had a growth spurt and are as tall as some children who are a year older than you.
Pretending you've just had a workout at the gym!
  •  Trains & buses (still)
  • Making traffic jams with all your vehicles
  •  Toy Story (still)
  • PJ Masks and Transformers Rescue Bots
  •  Playing games such as snakes and ladders
  • Playing rough games with daddy
  • Going on train, tube and bus journeys

  • Hand dryers, if we're in a public toilet you'll sing 'I don't like the dryer' over and over again to stop other people from using them, even though you use them on some occasions.
  •  Showers
  •  The dark.
  • being told off
  • consequences
  • Queues and waiting

Saturday 26 August 2017

Hamerton Park Zoo Review

We  recently had a family trip to Hamerton Park Zoo near Sawtry in Cambridgeshire. Nestled deep in the countryside on first appearance looks more like a farm than a zoo but it's actually a lot bigger than it seems. We arrived in the afternoon just before half one, on entry we were handed a couple of leaflets and entered the park. There was a noticeboard with different animal feeding times throughout the day, the last one being (on the day we were there) at 1:30pm. It was the cheetahs being fed which I was keen to see so we started to rush round the zoo (in the wrong direction). This is where I felt it would have been helpful to be handed a map on entry or be informed they were available to buy within the guide.
Whilst trying to get to the cheetah enclosure I was briefly distracted by the frisky tortoises, Eliot loudly declared 'Look mummy that tortoise is climbing on that ones back', which made me chuckle. You can always trust an animal to give you some sort of nature in action!
We were just in time to catch the end of the feeding session and I was surprised how close you were to these beautiful animals. Being a cat owner I also have a love and fascination for big cats too and really enjoyed observing them. It was great to see their enclosure was large, with plenty of space for them to roam.
Even though their keeper had finished feeding them, the cheetah's were obviously hoping for more food as they stuck close to the fence whilst the keeper chatted to people and answered questions. It was then one of the cheetahs began to make a 'meow' type noise over and over again which was amazing to hear as I'd never heard it before and was surprised how much it sounded like a pet moggy!

Eliot had spotted the play area and the train by this point and was eager to get on to both. We told him we'd do both later as we needed to have lunch first.
We did have a look at a few more of the animals including the American mammoth donkey's which were happy to be petted. There was also a step up to reach them making it easy for children to stroke them.

The hand washing area was just behind, so made it very easy to ensure hands were cleaned after stroking the mammoth donkeys.

We then headed to the café to get a bit of a late lunch. Below is picture of the food that was on offer and prices on the day we visited.
I quite fancied a jacket potato and the other half (OH) wanted a bacon roll but unfortunately all the jacket potato's had gone and there was no bacon left, which was a bit disappointing but I suppose can happen later on in the afternoon. There were still different sandwiches available to choose from but I ended up going for the pepperoni pizza, as did Eliot and the OH went for a burger and sandwich. The hot food was microwavable so not anything to have high expectations of but was fine to fill a gap.
There were a few tables inside the café and then picnic tables dotted around outside as well as nearer to the play equipment. One thing that did make my experience in the picnic area less enjoyable were the amount of wasps that were around. Obviously being one of the warmer days, they were out in force around the food and drink. I personally can't bear them and admit to having a bit of a fear after being stung as an adult, I'm one of those people that runs, flaps their arms, squeals and shrieks if they get too close and certainly did all of those things a few times! I know they don't bother some people but I think it could put a dampener on a day out if your child got stung, therefore I think those wasp catcher bottles would be useful around the café and picnic area for those warmer months.

We were kindly gifted £25 to spend in the café or shop as part of our review, the above food along with some drinks, left us with just over £8 change which we saved for Eliot to buy a souvenir in the shop.
Once we'd finished lunch we decided to go back to where we'd started and have a proper look at all the different animals before having a train ride and letting Eliot loose on the play area. There are over a hundred different species of animals to see, so really lots to look at and take in.
We spent a fair bit of time around the bird enclosures, particularly observing the vultures who were intimidating as well as fascinating to watch. Their wingspan was incredible and their body language and movements was really interesting. I think the were hoping to be fed but also seemed to have a dislike of cameras.

One thing that I liked around Hamerton Zoo were the information plaques for each species somewhere around their enclosures. They weren't overwhelming with information but gave you enough, including the animals' level of vulnerability in the wild e.g. 'critically endangered'.
I loved the display cabinet of different bird eggs, (above) Eliot was also interested in the different sizes which included replicas of eggs of extinct birds such as the dodo.

We continued enjoying looking at and reading about the different creatures in their enclosures even though Eliot continued to pester us about the train and play area. From meerkats to bearded dragons back to the mammoth donkeys and the other animals in-between, there is plenty to see.

It was when we were back near to the mammoth donkeys that we realised the train was being put away for the day. Shock, horror, we thought this may end in an epic meltdown from Eliot being the train fanatic that he is, luckily he didn't but he was disappointed he was unable to have a ride. I was surprised as it was around 4pm and the zoo was open until 5:30pm. It was pretty quiet and perhaps that was why the train was put away but I felt there should have been timings visible somewhere or it should have been mentioned when arriving and entering the zoo. I wasn't even aware that tickets to ride the train had to be purchased until after our visit. This is something you could definitely be made aware of when entering.

So with a train ride fail under our belts, we headed to look at some more big cats, two Bengals and a Malaysian tiger. Again I could watch these big cats for hours, and was in awe at being so close to these incredible animals.
The tiger enclosures are quite new and there are indoor parts where there is lots of information about tigers and the conservation work Hamerton does.

After exploring the tiger enclosure we headed to the 'Stroll A Safari' where you'll find sheep, ducks, chickens, camels, alpacas and pygmy goats. Some of the animals can roam out of their enclosures and you can feed them with food from the feeding station which you will need 20p coins for. Unfortunately the animals had ventured back into their enclosures so we missed out on feeding any.

Luckily Eliot didn't mind as he was still keen to spend time on the play areas. Before doing so though we headed to the shop so he could buy a souvenir as we didn't want to miss the shop too! I must admit I'm not a fan of gift shops as they're usually overpriced but there were a fair few items at pocket money prices. Eliot did spend a very long time deciding what he would like but in the end chose a zoo themed story book and a dinosaur egg which you're meant to put it water and it hatches but he ended up cracking it open whilst pulling it out of the box.
We were one of the last few families there so Eliot pretty much had the play equipment to himself and enjoyed the end of his day out climbing and going down the slide.

Overall we had a really enjoyable afternoon at Hamerton Park Zoo, if you're not too far away and looking for days out in the last week of the summer holidays it's definitely worth a visit!

Things we loved...
  • Opportunities to see some of the animals being fed
  • Able to observe the animals in large enclosures
  • Information available not too overwhelming
  • Covered picnic areas so still able to eat outdoors in wet weather
  • Some walkways around enclosures covered so able to stay undercover in some areas if weather is wet
  • Play area for babies and toddlers as well as older children
  • Opportunities to stroke/feed some of the animals
Things that could have made our visit even better...
  • Being given a map on arrival (the park is not huge but as we arrived at a feeding time this would have enabled us to get to the enclosure quicker)
  • Being told that train tickets need to be purchased on arrival/having a sign near the train pick up point
  • Having train start and finish times visible to avoid any disappointment
  • Wasp control measures around café and picnic areas
Hamerton Park Zoo is open everyday apart from Christmas and Boxing day. Adult entry is £13.99 per person, children between 3-8 years pay £8.99 and under 3's go free. Tickets can be purchased online or on the gate. Head to the website to get your 10% off voucher!
* We received free entry and a £25 voucher to spend in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own


Sunday 13 August 2017

Strepelle Review-A Test For Group B Streptococcus

I first became aware of strep b whilst pregnant with Eliot back in 2013. With it being my first pregnancy and experiencing a couple of scares I was an anxious expectant mum and read up on everything I could.
If you're not sure about group b strep and what it can mean for your baby here's why Strepelle advise on taking the test...
'Most pregnant women who carry GBS bacteria have healthy babies. However, there is a risk that GBS can pass to your baby during childbirth, creating serious and life threatening complications or causing lifelong disabilities'.
Knowing that group b strep could be potentially life threatening to my baby, towards the end of my pregnancy I asked my midwife about it and was told there was no testing. I was not aware of any self testing kits available at that time, so at that point I had to hope for the best!
As it turned out I ended up needing IV antibiotics every four hours whilst in labour with Eliot as my waters were the first thing to go and he wasn't delivered within 24 hours, which meant he was more susceptible to infection. If group b strep was present without my knowledge, the antibiotics obviously protected Eliot.
During my second pregnancy I was aware Strepelle was available to do a home test so when the opportunity arose to try it out and review I of course said yes. Even though I have felt much less anxious during my second pregnancy, group b strep has still been something that was on my mind and I had been thinking about purchasing Strepelle.
You can do the test at home from 35 weeks of pregnancy. You're advised to do the test and post it between a Monday and Thursday so your sample doesn't lose strength over the weekend period. I took samples and posted on a Wednesday when I was 35+4, I'd read a couple of other reviews by bloggers which I found helpful before I read the instructions in the kit.
The kit contains two sealed swabs & tubes, instructions, a form to fill out with your details and a stamped, addressed envelope bag to send your samples back to be tested in the lab. 
From reading the other reviews I was already aware that one swab was a vaginal swab and the other a rectal swab. The instructions give you very clear directions along with diagrams, with how to take the samples which I found very easy to follow.
I must admit it wasn't the easiest thing for me trying to collect samples with a big bump acting as an obstruction but certainly not unmanageable!
Besides I would much rather take the samples myself rather than have someone else do it if the test was available on the NHS!
One thing I wouldn't have known if I hadn't read one of the reviews prior to taking my samples was that there are stoppers in the top of the tubes that you need to place the swab in once you have taken it. These need to be removed before you can put your sample in. It's not mentioned in the instructions and I probably would have ended up trying to force the swab in before realising I needed to remove the stopper.
Once both samples were taken I filled out the 'Test Order Form' and stuck labels with an identification number onto each tube before placing in the envelope. 
On the form you can select which way you'd prefer to receive your results, either by email, text or post. I opted for text message as I felt this would be the fastest way to receive my results.
If the result for strep b is positive then you are also sent a letter so you can share with your midwife/doctor and make a plan for your labour.
I felt a sense of relief that I'd been able to take a test for group b strep and did not worry about whether or not the results would be positive. I was pleased that I would know one way or another and be able to plan for IV antibiotics if needed.
You usually receive result within 5 working days but this wasn't the case for me so I contacted strepelle via the email address on the half of the test order form you keep with your unique identification number. It advises you to get in touch if you haven't had your results back within 7 days.
 I received a very speedy response apologising for the delay and with a letter attached confirming that my results were negative which was fantastic news!
Strepelle has definitely giving me peace of mind about group b strep, enabling me to have one less thing to worry about! I certainly recommend it, it's really a no brainer when the possible outcomes of passing group strep b to your baby are so worrying!
The test is £39.99 and available to purchase here.
* I was sent the Strepelle test kit in exchange for a review. All thoughts & opinions are mine

Saturday 5 August 2017

The Second Trimester-Baby 2

Baby 2
 13-27 Weeks
I'm well and truly into my third trimester writing this at 36 weeks pregnant but better late than never!
Morning Sickness & Other Symptoms
My morning sickness continued a few weeks into the second trimester, still not actually being sick but suffering with nausea particularly if I was hungry.
I think I started to feel those first flutters when I was around 16 weeks pregnant, it felt like bubbles so I wasn't completely convinced. I started to feel those bigger movements between 18-20 weeks.
The old heartburn started to kick in sometime during the later part of the second trimester, only after eating certain things or at night when laying down, I bought supermarket own brand 'Gaviscon' to treat it.
I lost my appetite a bit (as well as being a bit lazy I suppose), preferring to eat cereal and toast rather than a proper meal in the evenings, like in the first trimester. Other than that I don't think I had any particular cravings.
It's funny reading Eliot's second trimester back as I had a few 'scares', this time I've been luckier and didn't experience any.
I met the midwife I would see for all of my general appointments at 16 weeks, her name was Carole. I got to listen to baby's heartbeat at this appointment which I always find reassuring. I also told her I probably wasn't going to deliver at the local hospital and was told I'd have to go to the GP to get a referral letter as where I wanted to deliver was out of their area. Before I saw her at my next appointment at 24 weeks I visited the GP and asked him to refer me. He didn't seem to think my preferred hospital would oblige but a few weeks later I received an appointment at my hospital of choice for when I'd be 28 weeks.

For some reason they don't book your anomaly scan until 21 weeks at the local hospital. I did feel slightly nervous as there is a worry they will find something that might not be good news. Thankfully everything looked ok and this time baby was facing upwards and behaving, letting the sonographer look at all the things she needed to (not like Eliot at his 20 week scan)! We stayed team yellow this time, choosing not to find out the gender (which I've written a post about here).
I did feel a bit disappointed with the overall experience as it felt a bit rushed.

I started buying a few bits but as we didn't know the gender of baby 2 I didn't want to buy too many neutral clothes as there's only so much white/grey/yellow you can buy! I also started looking more into pushchairs and car seats. We already have a crib that was Eliot's for those first few months so just need to buy a new mattress.
Thank you so much for stopping by! I appreciate comments and read all of them!