Thursday, 28 November 2013

Being good enough

When I found out that I was expecting our first child, I remember promising The Grumpy Egyptian that I would be the best mum ever. I had these dreams of my little one never feeling sad, never getting sick and never wanting. That hasn't quite worked out and now I find myself having to deal with the realisation that sometimes just being good enough is as best as I can do.

My Twitter followers would have read this week about my struggles with lack of sleep because the Mini Grumpy Egyptian is suffering her first cold. In the past four days I have visited Boots everyday and left with some form of medicine or device aimed at easing the little ones symptoms. Today when I visited, the sales assistant who was also a mum, and I found ourselves talking about how despite not knowing whether an item would work, we would still pay any amount if there was a chance it would make the mini one feel better. I can't magic away her illness or wave a sleepy wand, but I can keep getting up during the night to hold her, comfort her and suck the snot out of her nose with a creepy tube that is as gross as it sounds.

Often I hear stories from fellow mums about how great their child sleeps or how they are ahead of others in their milestones. And let's face it, those who think they are an expert when it comes to raising children are often the ones that do things in a way that is drastically different to how you would do things. While new mums may often be described as being overly sensitive, the best thing I've leant since becoming a mum was to ignore 99% of people's advice! Sure some of it is great and I know most just mean well. But often it ends up making me feel like I'm failing in some way or not being as good as the other mums because I don't make playdough from scratch or buy organic cotton babygrows from sustainable sources. And don't get me started on washable nappies. Life is just too short.

A babygrow that I saw for sale at a recent Little Pickles Christmas Market

I read to my daughter. I play music and dance around the bedroom like an eejit with her. I make sure to choose healthy foods for her so hopefully she doesn't grow up with my ferocious sweet tooth. I play with her and point things out to her when we are out walking and embarrass myself by singing "Teddy Plays on the Swing" in the middle of the high street. I might not be supermum and sometimes I do get frustrated when she cries or sad when I'm sleep deprived. But then that smile when she wakes up and sees my face or laughs because I've blown raspberries on her tummy makes all the nasty bits of motherhood seem so insignificant. So for now I am going to try my hardest to not beat myself up about the things I don't do or can't do and concentrate on the thing I can do better than anyone else - love her. With everything else, I will just have to settle with being good enough, for now.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Review: Boots Nappy Rash Spray

We've always been quite lucky when it comes to the Mini Grumpy Egyptian's bottom in that nappy rash had never really affected her. And then she began teething. So it was perfect timing when Boots sent me through their Nappy Rash Spray to try out.

Basically it does what it says on the tin and is a spray treatment rather than a cream-based one. The idea is that you don't have to rub it in, just spray and pop a new nappy on. However I had a problem with the nozzle as each time I sprayed it shot out in a stream rather than the mist that I thought would have been more appropriate. I did leave a small review on the Boots site and having read what others wrote, wonder whether or not I had a dodgy nozzle. 

It does say on the bottle that you don't need to rub the spray in as the movement of the nappy will ensure even coverage, but I didn't find that to be the case. The areas that the spray did cover seemed ok, but the parts that weren't sprayed were easily identified and a bit sore. The Mini Grumpy Egyptian didn't however seem to mind it being applied and I assume that is down to the cooling effect the spray claims to offer.

I found this to be an interesting product on paper, but not one that really worked so well in reality. I may be tempted to try it again, but will be sticking with our usual barrier cream for now. What do you use to keep the dreaded nappy rash at bay?

Disclaimer. I was send this product free of charge to review, but all opinions are my own

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Charitable Initiatives: Operation Christmas Child

Image from Operation Christmas Child website

Given that this will be the Mini Grumpy Egyptian's Christmas, we have decided to keep things low key, but I'm still looking forward to seeing her excited face when she gets a couple of new toys. Even with money being tight and such I couldn't imagine her not having something to open and that is where this charity comes in. This is the second in a little series detailing the charitable initiatives you can get involved with this year starting off with Operation Christmas Child.

Operation Christmas Child started some years ago (I remember filling a box when I was at school) and basically consists of decorating a shoe box before filling it with toys, books, hygiene products and sweets that are aimed at a particular gender and age group. The boxes are then collected at numerous locations across the country and dispatched to children across the world that without your box may not have received anything for Christmas. The deadline for dropping your box off is NOVEMBER 18. Click here to find your nearest drop off point.

This year I decided to create 2 boxes. The first for a girl and the second for a boy, both for ages 2-4. I gave myself a budget of around £12 per box and you will be surprised how much you can get for that. You also pay £3 for each box to cover delivery costs, so this was on top of my budget for the boxes. Here is a list of the items it is suggested you choose from along with what you are not allowed to include.


Here is a list of what I put in the boxes (shown above and about to be decorated):

Colouring pencils
Wax crayons
Writing pencils
Pencil sharpener
Mini hairbrush and hair clips (girl)
Individually wrapped sweets (lollypops and chewy ones)
Teddy bear
Colouring books
Plain paper notebooks
Toy cars (boy)
Toothbrushes and toothpaste
Tambourine and plastic recorder (girl)
Pencil case

I'm also writing a little notecard to go in each box to say we hope the kids like their presents.

Operation Christmas Child is ran by a religious group, which I know from talking to people in the past may put some off taking part. However I couldn't give a damn what religion someone is. If they are doing good and helping those in need, then you can't argue with that. Click here to find out more.

Charitable Initiatives: Christmas at the NSPCC

It is very easy to get swept up in the commercialism surrounding Christmas, and brushing all religious aspects to one side, forget it should be 'for the kids'. Watching all those adverts that appear on the TV at this time of the year always struck a chord with me, but since becoming a Mummy, I find myself hugging the mini one a little tighter - something I bet many mums can relate with. So what can you do to help? This is the first in a little series detailing the charitable initiatives you can get involved with this year starting off with Christmas at the NSPCC.

Image from the NSPCC site showing an example of one of the designs available

The National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children is offering parents the chance to arrange a personalised letter from Santa. Each letter can be personalised with the child's name and age as well as details like their favourite activity. There are seven different designs to choose from including one for baby's first Christmas and even one for grown ups. The letters are available in English and Welsh.

The letters can be sent not just inside the UK but abroad as well with the last date to request a letter for international delivery being November 29. A suggested donation of £5 is given for each letter, but it can be increased if you wish. You can find out more about where your donation goes by clicking here.

I have already requested one for the Mini Grumpy Egyptian's first Christmas as I think not only are the proceeds going to a good cause, but the letter itself will make a nice keepsake. What do you think about this kind of initiative? Does getting something in return make you more likely to donate?

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Review: Ewan the Dream Sheep

Sleep is like the Holy Grail for all new mums and given that I remember breaking down in tears at least once a day due to exhaustion when the Mini Grumpy Egyptian was just a couple of weeks old, it was something that I and I'm sure most mums would give almost anything for. I've always struggled to get the Mini Grumpy Egyptian to sleep well because she believes that being help by her mummy (boob in mouth preferable) is the only way a Princess should rest. Unfortunately for the little Princess in this story, mummy is going to have to go back to work and needs to have a bit of time during the day to do things other than hold a sleeping baby. Just in time, I met Ewan.

I had seen Ewan the Dream Sheep on numerous parenting sites and forums, but it seemed like a bit of a gimmick. I didn't understand how a cuddly sheep would help my baby sleep so despite umming and ahhing about it, I didn't buy it. When the Mini Grumpy Egyptian reached six months last week, I popped into my local jojo maman bebe store and they had a lucky dip going where you could get 10%, 20% or 50% off your purchases. I got 20% and after a particularly rough nights sleep decided to bring Ewan home.

Oh. My. God. I don't know what possessed me to put it off for so long. The Mini Grumpy Egyptian fell asleep while feeding as normal and as I put her into her cot, I turned Ewan on (if you will excuse the expression!) and she stayed asleep! I stood frozen for a couple of minutes expecting her to start wailing at being put down, but she just cuddled up to Ewan and slept for 3 hours. A major accomplishment.

When she woke during the night, I initially tried activating Ewan and patting her gently, but if that didn't work, a feed followed by being put back in her cot with Ewan did. Ewan plays four different sounds that all have mum's heartbeat playing in the background. The Mini Grumpy Egyptian reacts well to three of the sounds, but hates the harp one so I have to remember not to press that at 3am! Ewan also emits a red glow that admittedly I found a bit creepy at first (especially when combined with a heartbeat going on in the background), but the mini one likes it so for a good nights sleep I can suck it up! The only problem I have with Ewan is that the sounds only play for 20 minutes and sometimes the mini one needs a little longer.

I have tried using Ewan to get daytime naps a bit more organised and much to my shock the Mini Grumpy Egyptian has fallen to sleep by herself (no boob or rocking) two or three times so I'm hopeful he will help her in learning to self-sooth.

Have any of you used Ewan or do you have other sleep aids you swear by?

Disclaimer: I paid for this product myself, but found it so good I wanted to offer another positive review

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Christmas presents for children- offers & online codes

So I waited as long as I couldn't but the time has come to bring up the dreaded C word. No! Not THAT C word... Christmas. Whether it's your first or your thirteenth Christmas with children, we all want it to be special. And while special doesn't mean expensive, there is no hiding from the fact it can have a serious effect on our finances. Luckily lots of retailers are holding offers that if used right could save you a pretty penny. Here's my round up of the offers I know about.

The 3-for-2 at Boots is legendary for smellies and stocking fillers in my house, but I was pleased to find out it also includes toys. Another good offer is their 3-for-2 on kid's clothing from the Mini Club range - well worth it if you have to buy coats for a couple of kids. It is worth joining its loyalty card scheme and parenting club as you get extra points when buying kids stuff, which soon add up and can be spent online or instore. I've got about £55 on my card that I'm saving for the sales.

Currently offering 20% off Mothercare furniture and mattresses, as well as 25% off selected baby entertainment so good for new mums/those thinking of moving their little one to a big bed. There's also 20% off if you buy 3 items of clothing. Plus free delivery on all orders over £50. The Mini Grumpy Egyptian has some pyjamas coming her way from here.

I love these guys and they are offering a 3-for-2 on 100s of Kiddicare toys from November 5 to December 2. They are also offering 3-for-2 on all branded toys but this ends midnight Monday November 11. The customer service and delivery from Kiddicare is fantastic so great if you need a present fast! Also I have found that their prices are always really good and we ended up buying a lot of the Mini Grumpy Egyptian's big stuff - car seat, etc - from here as it was significantly cheaper.

The Book People
My mum introduced me to these guys and after signing up to its newsletter I've had some great offers through. They do some fantastic book bundles and sets such as the Winnie the Witch Collection and Satchel for £15. I'm planning to get the Beatrix Potter collection, which was around £35 last time I looked.

Toys R Us and Babies R Us
They are offering 20% off on November 9 and 10. You just need to use the code: ESAVE20NOV or download the voucher online. Free delivery is also offered when you spend £29.99+. They also have a membership scheme where you get emailed random offers throughout the year.

JoJo Maman Bebe
If you have a branch near you and need to get some presents or essentials it is worth popping by this weekend. From November 7 to November 10 stores are holding a Christmas shopping party with lucky dip where you could win 10%, 20% or 50% off your purchases. There's also free gifts and chocolate for those buying. I bagged a 50% discount the other day and got some great stuff! If you sign up for their newsletter they also do a monthly offer where you can get a discount or free item when spending a certain amount.

I'm sure I've missed some, so please post any offers you know about in the comments section.

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Monday, 4 November 2013

Splish splash I was takin’ a bath

Sometimes when people tell me that the Mini Grumpy Egyptian is small for her age, I look at them like they are crazy. To me she feels huge, but I have to remind myself that this is only because she was so tiny at birth. The Mini Grumpy Egyptian weighed just 2.7kg when she was born and now is slightly over double her birth weight as she approaches six months. The past month has seen some major changes in her that I wish The Grumpy Egyptian was here to see (visa issues – ARGH), but there are so many more milestones for her to cross that he can be there for.

Firstly, the time came to pack away her tiny baby and newborn clothes. Then in the same week I had to admit her 0-3 month stuff just wasn’t fitting anymore so that pile found its way into storage too. Now she is in her 3-6 month clothes and I just adore dressing her in clashing colours and prints, much to my mother’s horror. Well if you can’t colour clash as a child when can you get away with it?
Secondly, the baby bath got too big. This one crept up on me! I swear it was only yesterday we moved her from the *ahem* sink to the baby bath and now that is too small. Now baths take place in the big girl bath aka the bath! She loves being able to kick and stretch and swallow as many bubbles as humanly possible.

Thirdly, Operation Weanathon has begun and the Mini Grumpy Egyptian is loving trying out new tastes and textures. Favourites so far include carrot, blueberries, sweet potato, broccoli, banana and… Thai Curry Soup. Yep, you did read that last one right. Seems as though we have an adventurous eater on our hands. Lots of Annabel Karmel being called upon to give me ideas of things to make for myself that I can also try with the mini one.

And finally, but potentially most significant is that the Mini Grumpy Egyptian has outgrown her crib. This week I am off to buy her a cot that she can stretch out in. Considering an IKEA one at the moment, but am going to have a look at some before deciding. Any recommendations? The Mini Grumpy Egyptian might not be sleeping through the night yet, but hopefully that will change in the not so distant future.
I am linking this post up with The Oliver’s MadhouseMagic Moments linky so why not head over there and see what other mums are celebrating this week.