Friday, 28 August 2015

Weaning Update - Vital Baby Essentials

Joseph has taken to weaning like a duck to water. Loving to try every new food and always wanting a variety which is great to see. He's now on 3 full meals a day and loves this new routine. It seems to have settled him more too as he's now going for longer between feeds. 

All our weaning essentials have come from Vital Baby as we are proud to be #WeaningWarriors for them whilst Joseph goes through his feeding journey. So today I am going to talk about Vital Baby. About their products that have helped Joseph start onto this new path and how he is getting on with them.

So, who are Vital Baby? In 2005 the Vital Baby and their feeding products was born after a few years developing the range of baby feeding accessories and quickly became known for quality, innovation and family values that inspired its creation. 

When it came to weaning Joseph, I was apprehensive. Babies can be so fussy with foods and it's all about perseverance and finding what they like and then trying to grow that base over time. 

To help on this new journey, Vital Baby sent us a set of weaning essentials. We received:

  • First Food Pots
  • Weaning Set
  • First Tumbler
  • Soft Tip Weaning Spoons
  • Press 'n' Pop Mini Freezer Pots

When they arrived, Joseph had just started to try his first foods and so we got to using them straight away to see how they faired. The bundle of products that we received contained everything that we needed to start weaning. From the basics of bowls and spoons to freezer pots for making your own homemade weaning creations.

When it comes to Vital Baby products, I love that they think about problems that parents may come across. The weaning set combats one of the main ones that we have faced. Having food for Joseph when we are out and about. The weaning set comprises of a bowl which is sealed with a lid for easy travel and a clipped part on top of the lid which holds a spoon 

I think it's great that I can just prepare food before we go out and then throw it into the changing bag until Joseph wants it. No searching the bag for runaway spoons or worrying about opening my bag to a baby food bomb as the contents are kept safely inside the lidded bowl. 

For when we are at home, I have found that the first food pots, baby's first tumbler and soft tipped spoons are predominantly used at feeding time. 

The First Food Pots are the perfect size for feeding a full meal to Joseph and also have clip on lids for if you make up extra and put it in the fridge for dinner time or want to pop out on your travels. Holding around 6oz of food, this is well enough for young weaners or for keeping snacks in and also keeping them fresh by closing the lid.

The super soft spout on the Baby's First Tumbler is great for sensitive gums. With the option of having either non-spill or a free flow 2 in 1 valve, it gives you control of how the drink comes out. It is the perfect size for little hands and Joseph has no problem at all drinking from it although I do think it would benefit from handles to make this easier when baby's are first learning to hold the tumbler.

When it comes to the spoons, I think it's great that you et a pack of them as they always seem to be the thing that disappear. They are soft tipped to protect sensitive mouths and have curved handles which gives Joseph a better grip on them. 

By far though, out of all the products, my favourite are the mini Press 'n' Pop freezer pots. You get 8 in a pack and each pot holds 1oz/30ml. I make a lot of baby food myself as I try to get Joseph eating the same as us just a more blended, mashed and baby-friendly version. So when it comes to freezing food, these pots are perfect. 

The secure clip-on lids protect the food from contamination and from leaking and they stack up for storing neatly in the freezer. The soft Press 'n' Pop bases are inspired though as it means no more trying to force the food out of the pot when needed, you just simply press in the base and out pops the food. Joseph has 2 pots worth of food at a time so it means that I can have 4 meals ready and prepared in the freezer for when he wants them. 

Products with thoughts gone in to them, with attention to detail, with everything a parent needs when it comes to weaning time. They have made weaning easy and fun now that I'm no longer worrying about storage and freezing. 

You can find more information and purchase these products from the Vital Baby website (they are available in pink and blue as well as the orange that we received) and now I can see why these are award winning products!

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Life Lately #1: A Tale Of Adventure And Exploration

With it being the summer holidays, it has been the perfect time to get out and explore our local area. Visiting places we haven't been before and learning about new things with the boys. We're now over half way through the holidays and the boys have loved getting out and about as a family and seeing new places and visiting old favourites too.

Here are just a couple of our highlights from the past few weeks...

I spoke recently about our love of Yorkshire which you can read here. We get to go places all the time but have, in the past few week, visited the Royal Armouries, which is full of historical weaponry and armour.

The boys loved visiting the hunting area and seeing all the animal armour on the horses and the huge elephant which they did think was real and a little scared of it! The Hall of Steel is a masterpiece and a great thing to look at.

We then walked back to central Leeds on the canal which was a lovely walk to take.

Although the summer has mostly consisted of mediocre weather, we have had a few nice days and we took advantage of this with a trip to the beach.

We adore Scarborough and try to get there as much as possible. The beach does get very busy though in warm weather so we jaunt off to Cayton Bay which is about a 10 minute drive from Scarborough. A lovely Bay with its unspoilt views and not busy at all. They boys can run about and paddle in the sea on the long stretch of beach.

Not everything has to cost money and long trips on the train, so during the days that we have had nothing planned, we made sure to get out as much as possible to different parks and do different things each time.

Going to the park doesn't mean just playing on the swings and getting dizzy on the roundabout. There is so much more to do to keep little ones moving and exploring.

Taking a football or Frisbee is a great way to run off some steam if the play area is busy and we even take the bikes or scooters up too as the boys love being able to ride around such a vast area. One of the parks we went to also runs by the Leeds-Liverpool Canal but unfortunately we couldn't have a walk down there as we had the park and there are about 80 steps to go down to get to the canal.

There are many other points that we can get on to the canal though so that is going on a list of things to do in the next couple of weeks.

Being from a big family, there are a lot of family occasions to go to. Last week signalled a third birthday party. This was at Monster Kidz in Leeds. We have never been there before so it was good to visit a new play gym and see how it compared to the ones we've previously been to.

Monster Kidz was huge and had loads to do for the boys and even a small play area for Joseph who loved interacting with other babies that were there.

The party was great. All set in a little party room with flickery lights and music, the birthday boy getting a huge throne to sit on and a buffet of food as far as the eyes could see. The boys loved the day eating and playing, and even more playing.

It has been an amazing few weeks, spending time as a family and exploring the area around us. I now can't wait for these next few weeks to see what adventures we go on and new places that we will be visiting.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Everybody Learns: Lexia Reading and Writing Workbooks

Lexia Reading and Writing workbooks are a part of a programme that have been designed by primary and special needs teachers to help children make progress with their early reading and writing skills. Providing repetition of exercises to aid children's learning as they follow along the books. 

The books include black and white line drawings that children can colouring in as they reach a new page and the books are very engaging, encouraging children to participate and learn with the books. 

Thomas' reading and writing skills have always been a little behind. Only last year, he was diagnosed with having a lazy eye and prescribed very strong glasses to aid his sight. This was when he started to get better with his skills and has slowly progressed throughout the year. 

He has been playing catch up ever since and, although he isn't behind in what they would expect his attainment level to be at school, I was worried that these school holidays would set him back if he had a full 6 weeks of no structured learning. 

So I was sent out a set of the Lexia Reading and Writing Books levels 1-4 for Young Children for Thomas to work through. Each level comprises of 2 books, each getting progressively harder as the books go up in stage.

The workbooks help children to practice reading, handwriting, phonics and spelling with engaging illustrations throughout and symbols to show and explain exactly what needs doing within each page. 

Starting from level 1 which helps with letter formation (a to z), phonics and sounding out words and spelling 3 letter words. Letters which need filling in are dotted so children know exactly what they look like and there are hints with pictures describing the word that they're supposed to be writing. 

Level 2 goes over what was learnt in the previous level but excels to words containing blends, digraphs and writing captions. They then progress to level 3 which is about words with a silent 'e', word meanings, reading short stories and answering questions to do with said story. The last level focuses on words with vowel digraphs, reading and spelling two syllable words and answering harder comprehension questions.

So far, Thomas is enjoying working his way through these books. Although not an avid lover of learning, he does like to try his best when doing work and is adamant that he will work through the books to help him gain confidence with his reading and writing so that he can show his teacher just how well he has progressed at home. 

It has been great to see Thomas work his way to the 2nd level 2 book since the start of the holidays and gaining confidence in his reading and writing abilities. 

The Lexia Reading and Writing Workbooks are £24.99 for the set of eight books and can be purchase from the Everybody Learns website.

Monday, 24 August 2015

The Story Of Three Babies

When you find out you're pregnant with your first child, it is a magical moment, a moment when you imagine all the things that you'll get to do whilst being pregnant, get scared about the birth and dream about seeing your baby for the first time. After the first pregnancy, you know what to expect and so other pregnancies become easier and usually a lot lazier too. 

Here are a few of the things that I think change as you have more children. Do you recognise any of these?

Maternity Clothes
1st baby: You start wearing maternity clothes as soon as you show a sign of any bump at all, even if it's really just a big lunch that has bloated you. *no, that is obviously a baby bump!*
2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible, holding off the tent style maternity wear.
3rd baby: Your maternity clothes ARE your regular clothes. I even continued to wear my maternity clothing after the birth, just because I was so used to them and they are super comfy. Who cares if they are unflattering, I'm covered in baby sick (or other bodily fluids) 90% of the time anyway.

Baby Clothes
1st baby: You pre-wash all the newborn clothing, sometimes twice, as soon as you buy them and a week before you're due just to make sure they're clean. You then colour co-ordinate and fold them neatly, and in order, in the baby's set of drawers.
2nd baby: You check to make sure that your first babies clothes are clean and discard only the ones with the darkest stains, and then buy only the necessities that you really, really need for this baby.
3rd baby: Boys can wear pink, right? And I might as well keep him in his babygrow since onesies are all the rage these days. I'm a style concious mum don't ya know?!

Getting Ready For The Birth
1st baby: You practice your breathing every day, visit the antenatal ward, birthing rooms and go to every appointment and class to make sure you're ready for the birth.
2nd baby: You don't bother doing anything because you remember that last time that the breathing didn't do a thing and you know where the hospital is anyway, right?!
3rd baby: You ask for an epidural in your eighth month of pregnancy. I already knew that I would be having an epidural in my third pregnancy as I suffer with high blood pressure in labour and so couldn't wait for it to take the pain away. Unfortunately, Joseph decided to fly out and there was no time at all to have it done.

Crying Baby
1st baby: At the first sign of distress, no actually not even distress, at the first frown or slight noise you pick up your baby and go through the stages of 'does he need feeding, changing, is he tired, etc etc, until something works'
2nd baby: You pick the baby up when his cries threaten to wake your first born child.
3rd baby: You teach your older children how to wind up his favourite musical toy and plus, they say that letting babies cry is a good way to make them learn, controlled crying and all that!

Changing Nappies
1st baby: You change your baby's nappy every hour, whether they need it or not and apply nappy rash cream each time. 
2nd baby: You change their nappy every two to three hours, if needed, usually when they have a bottle.
3rd baby: You try to change their nappy before others point it out and complain about the smell or you see it sagging to their knees, which ever comes first. 

Baby Activities
1st baby: You take your newborn to Baby Massage, Baby Story Hour and swimming at least twice a week to let him 'socialise' with other babies. 
2nd baby: You take them to Baby Story Hour as it gives you a break from reading the books for a change. 
3rd baby: You take them to the supermarket and on the school run, they can socialise at the school gates anyway!

At Home With Your Baby
1st baby: You spend most of your days just gazing at your baby, wondering what he is dreaming about. 
2nd baby: You spend most of your day watching to be sure your older children aren't poking or hitting the baby.
3rd baby: You spend most of your day hiding from your children *usually with one of their chocolate bars for company*

Of course, with all my children, I adore and am thankful for them, but after your first, you get to know what you need to do and aren't as cautious as you once were about every little thing actually making it much more of a relaxing, enjoyable experience to have. Can you relate to any of these experiences?

- This post was previously published in April 2015 but I have shared it again due to it still been relevant and one of my favourite fun posts

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Choc Nibbles Frozen Dessert Slice Recipe

During the school holidays, it is hard to come up with ideas to keep to kids entertained whilst the weather is rubbish. We try to get out as much as possible, but it seems that the weather goes against us and so, on days like that, we stay at home and get crafty or make our own recipes up. 

And so, to celebrate the summer, Choc Nibbles has challenged us to use their delicious chocolaty treats as a core ingredient in a frozen dessert in their #iceicenibble challenge. 

So here is our recipe...

You will need:
200g digestives
100g melted butter
3/4 different flavours of ice cream
Choc Nibbles (as many flavours as you like)
Choc Lick

  1. Line a loaf tin with baking parchment (this will make the slice is easy to remove afterwards)
  2. Crush the digestives and 50g of Choc Nibbles into crumbs using a freezer bag and a rolling pin. Mix this with the melted butter and squash down into the loaf tin. Freeze for hour an hour.
  3. Add a layer of ice cream and then freeze again for half an hour. (it's advisable to get soft scoop ice cream as it will spread in the tin easier)
  4. Keep layering with different flavoured ice creams and Choc Nibbles in between each flavour. make sure to freeze in between each layer. 
  5. When the loaf tin is full, sprinkle with Choc Lick and freeze till ready to serve.
  6. Slowly lift the ice cream slice out of the loaf tin and remove the baking parchment.
  7. Serve immediately in slices.

And that's it, simple and easy to make, one that the kids can do on their own.

As you can see from ours, we went for a mint and chocolate theme. So we used mint chocolate chip, white mint, chocolate and vanilla ice creams and a mix of mint and regular Choc Nibbles. This was a favourite with the boys as they love mint ice cream.

I loved creating this recipes as it's something that the boys can do on their own with me just watching and helping with reaching the freezer and melting the butter. 

And it doesn't stop there. You can choose any flavour you like. Go for a jammy ice cream slice using raspberry ripple ice cream and Jammy Choc Nibbles. You could even put the Posh Choc Nibbles in the biscuit base to give it an extra chocolatey kick. 

A perfect recipe to make in advance and then use when needed. Do let me know if you give this a try, it would be great to see your variations.