Life

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Life is a funny old game. Full of plans, good intentions, an ever growing ‘to do’ list of things you definitely will get round to today.
And then life itself gets in the way.
Real life.
Two children who want to play, grow, learn. Days of fun, days of fights and tantrums. Days where you wish you had 10 minutes peace to get on with the ‘to do’ list. Laughter, fun filled days that you wish will never end and you certainly don’t want to ruin with the mundane of everything on that list that you need to do!
A small business. One which needs a bit of time and love to make it grow.
A husband who is woefully neglected but never complains.
All of these things and more have take me away from here. Life gets in the way. But that’s how it should be really. Whilst I wish that there was more time, more hours in the day, I don’t want to be sacrificing my actual real life to create a virtual one.
I am sad that I haven’t documented Ted’s first few months in the way that I did Elsa’s. That is something that I must try to change. More effort from me is needed there. After all, this is what my blog is all about. A virtual memory book for our family.
So I’m resolving to try. To try to be here & make a little time. For Elsa & Ted & our memories.
Life is a funny old game. Not enough hours, not enough time. Life gets in the way but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Review | Magical Tales And Fabulous Fun At Rainbow Factory, Leeds

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As part of the Big Birthday Week, to celebrate Elsa turning 3 whole years old last week, we paid a visit to the wonderful Rainbow Factory in Leeds. Ted is a bit young to appreciate the magic of books and storytelling so we took along Little Cousin Martha to join in the fun.

The Rainbow Factory is a new venture in Leeds based around a magical wonderland of storytelling, fairy tales and encouraging little imaginations running riot. Classic and modern storybooks are brought to life through whimsical scenes featuring handmade models, crafty activities and the acting out of exciting tales.

We originally visited Rainbow Factory in the summer school holidays. As it turns out it was one of their busiest days ever & it was a bit overwhelming for Elsa. I was very pleased to be invited back to try out the latest themes and experience a quieter and more personal Rainbow Factory.

The Rainbow Factory journey begins with a trip down the yellow brick road to meet the resident creature, Boggles…….

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Before venturing through the heavy red curtains in the world of whimsical characters and hand modelled scenes.The models have all been painstakingly created by hand and have a beautiful ‘crafty’ feel to them. They have character and charm and provoke questions and curiosity from children looking at them. The scenes and characters will rotate slightly and changes are planned for the coming months. I had the privilege of a sneak preview of the ‘works in progress’. Coming months will see Snow White and her Dwarves and Jungle Book characters all make an appearance.

 

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Each month the ‘theme’ at Rainbow Factory changes. When we visited this time the theme was ’emotions’. the staff talk through the scenes and characters with the children, encouraging them to recall reading the books or to describe what they can see in front of them. Children are given a little bucket in which to collect an ’emotion’ (star) from each story scene which they can use to craft bunting or a crown or anything they wish in ‘Goldilock’s  Creative Kitchen’.

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After spending some time creating star and glitter masterpieces in Goldilock’s Kitchen (and fully embracing the dressing up box) Elsa and Martha joined it with an active storytelling session involving dance, singing and all round toddler fun.

The staff get fully involved in the stories they are reading, acting out characters, encouraging participation from the children so they ‘become’ part of the story and immerse themselves in the world of the book.

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As it was a beautiful October day we ventured outside to look at the newly opened Secret Garden. Full of scarecrows, fence murals and strangely seculded from the car park below, on a sunny day like this we could have been in the countryside! Bubble blowing and giant dominoes fun in the glorious sunshine followed until it was time to leave. A very reluctant Elsa removed her fancy dress outfit and came away full of talk of her crafting and playing and when could we visit again?

The Rainbow Factory is a fantastic and enriching experience for children, from young to not so young. There is a wealth of activities to get involved in and your time there can be as structured or unstructured as you please. We love this place and cannot wait to go back. It is so different to anything else out there and is an experience like no other.

 

Full ticket prices can be found here with children (3-12) £8, under 1’s free, age 1-2 £4, adults £4. Ticket price includes a whole day at the Rainbow Factory. Annual tickets are also available priced at £96 (£8 per month) for one children and one adult. 

Opening hours can be found here but are subject to change. After the October school holidays the Rainbow Factory will be closed to the public on both Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Lots of seasonal activities will be taking place in the near future, from Halloween events to Christmas celebrations. Full details can be found on the website or via the Facebook page

 

*We were invited to visit the Rainbow Factory for the purpose of this review. All words and opinions are my own.*

Review | Penwizard Personalised Book – The Snowman & The Snowdog

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As well as being a clothes-a-holic Elsa is something of a book lover which makes us very happy at What Elsa Wears HQ. Elsa’s Daddy reads two books a week and I used to be the same before I had babies. I now just fall asleep when I try to read anything more challenging than Twitter!

 

We are also huge fans of books ‘featuring’ Elsa & Ted. This is fairly easy for Ted; he has a couple of shelves in his bedroom solely dedicated to books such as ‘One Ted Fell Out Of Bed’ and the ‘Detective Ted’ series. But not as much luck with Elsa, particularly when we are trying to avoid the Ice Queen association. So personalised books are the way forward.

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The Penwizard version of The Snowman & The Snowdog is the classic tale with the added twist that it stars your child. Elsa was immediately intrigued by the story having her name in it & found the drawings of ‘her’ fascinating.

“That’s Big Girl Elsa”, is her favourite thing to say.

 

My initial thought was that the story may be a little old for Elsa at just under three. But although it is longer than most books we read it does keep her interest.

 

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The Penwizard website is very simple to use and the books are easily personalised. Just enter the child’s name, a personalised message if required and a few options on hair style and pyjama colour and hey presto – your personalised book is done.

 

The illustrations are beautiful and whilst the options on personalisation of them are obviously limited I think that you can create enough of a likeness to your child. I can definitely see Elsa looking a bit like this in a few years!

 

The Snowman & The Snowdog books would make a lovely Christmas (sssshhhh!) gift and are available in either paperback or hardback format with prices starting from £17.99. Visit Penwizard here to create your very own personalised book.

 

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*We were sent the Penwizard personalised book for the purpose of this review. All words and opinions are my own.*

Diary Of An Umbilical Hernia (Part One)

After Ted was born his umbilical cord did as they all do and hung about for a week or so, getting increasingly crusty, before falling off. Not one for keepsakes, especially of the rotting flesh kind, it quickly went in the bin and we thought no more about it.

 

Four weeks later I noticed one morning that his belly button we looking slightly ‘sticky out-y’ but thought it must be that Ted was going to have an outie rather than an innie. A few hours later, at bathtime, S commented on it too and that’s when I realised that it must be something as he never notices anything!

 

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So I googled. That was a bad move, It’s never wise to attempt to google anything medical, particularly not if it involves your children because you will self-diagnose the worst possible thing. So instead I did the sensible thing and sent a picture to my Brother In Law who’s a GP who confirm what I really did think. An Umbilical Hernia.

 

I had never heard of or come across this before but it is apparently a relatively common thing, affecting up to 1 in 10 babies to some extent. They occur when the circle of muscle surrounding the umbilical cord doesn’t close up quite as quickly as they should. At Ted’s 6 week check the GP advised that it causes no pain and that 95% of them sort themselves out by the time that baby is one. The four (4!) student GP’s who where on in his 6 week check all had a good poke at it. None of them had seen an umbilical hernia before. Given the way they undressed Ted with fear and trepidation in their eyes I would hazard a guess that they’d not seen a baby before either!

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Apart from me freaking out about being able to feel his milk moving through it, we have had no issues with it. And fast forward 8 weeks and it has suddenly and definitely started to shrink. From Ted’s belly button being stretched to the maximum as it is in the above photo he now has a little crease of skin around it again. Hopefully it will retreat as fast as it appeared and I am definitely hopeful that it will be gone and there will be no surgery required.

 

In the meantime I just have to avoid touching it so I don’t feel all the inner workings of his digestive system. Weird.

 

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Ted’s Birth – Blink & You’ll Miss It

So 12 weeks after Ted was born I thought I should finally get round to writing this down before I forget.

Monday 6th April 2015 – Easter Monday
I woke at around 2.45am for my regular early hours toilet trip. On my way back to the bedroom after paying a visit I could feel a trickle down my leg. I momentarily wondered if I had got the point in pregnancy where I had lost all bladder control but I quickly realised that my waters had broken. This was different to my experience with Elsa where my waters broke with a mighty gush.

As I had no pains at all I expected that, like my previous experience, I was in for the long haul so I went back to bed and back to sleep.

Elsa woke me at 4am with a request for a drink (!) so after I put her back to bed I told S I thought we would be having a baby that day. His face was a picture given that it was 10 days before due date.
After speaking to the hospital, we went down at 8.30am for them to check me over. After monitoring the baby’s heartbeat for 10 minutes I was given the option of staying there & going on the drop to get contractions going or going home to wait for things to happen.

Wanting as little medical intervention as possible I opted to go back home. Plus I had my grocery shopping due to arrive between 12noon and 2pm!

Back at home I pottered around, packed my business parcels, bounced on the ball and had another shower. At about 11am things had cranked up enough for me to take a couple of paracetamol. Things then began to move quite quickly with contractions being intense but fairly short and not consistent. The gap between contractions was varying from 2 and a half minutes to seven minutes.

At 1pm I decided that I should think about making a move. But the bloody shopping still had not arrived. And the week would be thrown into chaos without the Asda shop.

At 2.06pm we left for the LGI. I was examined in the Maternity Assessment Ward at 2.50pm where they told me I was 6-7cm dilated. I could have kissed those midwives. Then everyone jumped into action. I was bundled into a wheelchair and raced down the corridor towards delivery.

On the way I was asked what kind of birth I fancied. This was a bit of a novelty after being strapped to a monitor and on my back for hours and hours with Elsa.

“Was a birthing pool available?” I enquired. “Get that water running” they shouted ahead.

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We got the Myleene Klass Suite. All mood lighting and a massive pool. Unfortunately we didn’t spot the mood lighting until several hours after Ted’s birth.

There was a dribble of water in the pool when we got there but I dived in anyway. Being on all fours in a virtually empty birthing pool whilst mooing like a cow is not the most elegant way to be. But dignity and the rest of it goes out of the window when there is a human being trying to get out of you.

The midwife kept emphasising to me not to push yet. What was this woman talking about? I was only 6-7 cm dilated, I had hours yet. Approximately 3 minutes later the urge to push was overwhelming. It’s mad. Having had an epidural for Elsa’s birth I never felt the pushing urges. This time I never made a concious decision to push Ted out, my body just did it.

Within a couple of contractions Ted’s head was out. And then you have the most surreal few minutes of your life where you are just hanging about waiting with a baby’s head between your legs.

Then he was here. At 3.21pm, Ted arrived.

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I picked him out of the water and we sat for a few minutes before S cut the cord.

Ted was born about 50 minutes after arriving at the LGI and 20 minutes after getting in the birthing pool. It wasn’t even half full! To be honest it was all pretty easy. Not to say that it wasn’t painful, but it was all so quick this time and it only took a couple of big pushes to get him out. All in all I only had any pain for about 4 hours.

This was exactly the birth I had hoped for but had feared that I wouldn’t get after my previous experience. I cannot recommend a water birth enough and I also highly recommend acupuncture to shorten labour and avoid going overdue. But that’s another story!

 

Ted’s Togs – May 2015

Ted’s had a pretty stylish start to life, even if I do say so myself. My little chunky monkey is growing at an impressive rate and with the pretty lousy weather we have he is probably not going to be able to wear some of his summer stuff before he has grown out of it.

But fingers crossed for some summer weather.

Here is what he rocked in May.


May was looking promising as Ted started the month in short sleeves. These dungarees and bodysuits are from the Little Bird By Jools range and we have them in blue in the next size up!

Ted is building up a nice collection of leggings & obviously our favourites are our monkeys from our very own Itsy Bits Children’s Boutique. Leggings are so versitile, I’d love to see more boy leggings on the high street.

Ted’s lazing about in more Little Bird in the stripy babygro. An absolute steal on eBay & one of our current favourites.

Raa raa, Ted the lion. This super cute Lilly & Sid set is has been perfect for cool Spring days & we’re sad that Ted’s just about out of it.


One of my favourite brands is Maxomorra & Ted’s first Maxomorra was this sports balls vest, bought in a sale as soon as I found out I was having a boy.

Little Super Ted makes a pretty awesome action hero in his superhero babygro from Next. An awesome three pack, perfect for little heroes.

Twinning, twinning, twinning. I can’t get over how much I love the velour now. These matching Maxomorra outfits are from KyNa Boutique. I love this so much that I have bought the dungarees in a larger size so that they can twin again in the winter!

Ted is in pole position in more Maxomorra here in racing car trousers from Gemini Joe with a vest from Mothercare & hand knit cardigan by Granny.


All the colours for Ted in Maxomorra monsters. Love colourful kids!

And you can’t beat having a snooze in some Little Bird toadstools, rainbows & stars!

Ted looked a super cool dude in his braces top from Oh Baby London & more leggings from Itsy Bits Children’s Boutique.

And finishing off May with some more matchy matchy with Elsa. Everyone loves Maxomorra frogs!

Review | Kit For Kids Ellergenic Pocket Sprung Mattress

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Since Ted was born I have been looking at and researching  mattresses with a view to replacing the one that Elsa used with the cot bed for the last two and a half years.

I came across the Kit For Kids range of Ellergenic mattresses and they kindly offered one for Ted to try out. We were sent the Ellergenic Pocket Sprung Mattress, part of the Ellergenics range which is the first in the UK to receive the Seal Of Approval from Allergy UK.

This prestigious award has been given because this unique range of mattresses reduces the presence of yeast, fungi and most importantly, dust house mites.  The mattress core is sealed, preventing the transmission of fluids into the core or microbes out. And because it is sealed the mattress can be washed in the bath or completely hosed down. Perfect for the dreaded poo-explosion situation we have all had to deal with.

 

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At 8 weeks old Ted is still in his moses basket in our bedroom on a night but I have been putting him down in his cot bed for a nap to allow him to get used to his surroundings before we do eventually move him. He seems very comfortable in this mattress. It is lovely and firm and the removable (washable!) covering gives a slight ‘spongy’ feel which I would like to lie down on!

Another huge bonus for me personally is that Kit For Kids are supporting The Lullaby Trust with this range of mattresses. £2 from the purchase of every Ellergenics mattress is donated to The Lullaby Trust, supporting their research into SIDS and supporting the families affected by it.

The mattress can be purchased here and retails at £189.95.

Kit For Kids also sent Ted a lovely sleeping bag to try from their By Carla range.

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This is a fantastic quality sleeping bag, with the handy addition of detachable sleeves. This is perfect if you put baby to sleep in just a vest or bodysuit. It is also helpful if you are putting baby in the sleeping bag whilst out and about. The sleeves can easily be detached when putting baby to bed so they do not overheat.

My favourite feature of this sleeping bag is that the zip fastens in the opposite direction to most other sleeping bags I have seen. It opens from the bottom, up the side. This gives easy access for night time nappy changes rather than having to disturb baby further by removing the whole bag. I love anything that makes it as easy as possible to get back to sleep quickly during those night time feeds!

This By Carla Lazy Days sleeping bag can be purchased here and retails at £12.95.

 

*We were sent the Kit For Kids Ellergenics mattress and By Carla sleeping bag for the purpose of this review. All words and opinions are my own.*

Elsa’s Month In Outfits – May 2015

I’m back again with the outfit posts and in an attempt to keep up to them they are going monthly!
So May should be a month for cracking out the summer wardrobes, baring legs and arms and running round in the sunshine. No such luck. I have managed to sneak Elsa into a few summer things, mainly by layering under & over. So here goes her month in outfits!


Elsa started off May in Maxomorra Flamingos, a beautiful gift from Jenny at KyNa Boutique.

A bit more Maxomorra for chatting with Alfie the Boxer Dog. This time apples and pears leggings from DaisychainBaby with an M&S top.

The L’Asticot lighthouse dress was a buy from months and months ago that  I had forgotten about until I sorted Elsa’s wardrobe!

And looking like a bit of a tinker on this Tinker Tailor sundress from Lilly & Sid.


I am quite jealous of Elsa’s H&M budgie trousers. I would totally wear them & she rocked them out for lunch by the canal.

Elsa added a bit of sunshine to May in a yellow Bonnie Baby sundress with added extra large knee scab!

More gorgeous Maxomorra (can you tell it’s our favourite?) with the frogs. I love that Elsa can co-ordinate with Ted & his blue frogs!

You can never go wrong with a sleeveless denim jacket. Instant cool and a bargain from George.

Elsa & Big Cousin Lillia had a rare moment of affection at Grandma & Grandad’s BBQ. Made a pleasant change from the usual fighting. Elsa wearing toucans from M&S and they are amazing.

And finally we have the ultimate in twinning. Or should that be tripletting? What could be cooler (or more geeky, depending on your point of view!) than Mama & kiddo matching Slugs & Snails? Rock n Roll!

Review | Dr Brown’s Natural Flow Bottles: A cure for colic?

Ted is windy. And pukey. At times I’m not sure if it’s him or his Daddy doing the burps and trumps.

So whilst Ted has not been suffering with the crying & tummy aches associated with colic I was/am a bit fed up with being covered in freshly puked baby milk. The opportunity to give Dr Brown’s bottles a go came at the right time!


I have seen these before but never paid much attention as we are mainly Tommee Tippee users. And in all honesty these are not the most attractive of bottles out there.

But, who cares if they solved the windy-ness & sick problems?

The bottles comes with a tube & vent system that does something to stop things being as gassy. There is some science behind it here, but being a tired mother of a toddler & 7 week old my only interest is not how they work but “do they work?”.

The vent and tube system appears a bit daunting and faffy at first but after a few attempts it is very straightforward.  The main thing to remember when making up formula in these bottles is DO NOT SHAKE THE BOTTLE. It will leak and you will be covered in milk. The exact opposite of what I was trying to achieve using them!

Getting down to the nitty gritty. Do these bottles work to eliminate wind and sickness? Simply, yes. Having been provided with two bottles to review I used them alongside the standard Tommee Tippee bottles. The difference in Ted after having a feed from a Dr Brown’s bottle was measurable.

Considerably less wind from both ends & minimal puking. No face full of projectile milk for this Mama!

These bottles are not a miracle worker, Ted is going to be a windy & sicky baby it would seem. But the Dr Brown’s bottles have minimised this and the improvement is hugely noticeable. I am certainly going out to buy more of these bottles to replace the standard Tommee Tippee ones we are using.

Dr Brown’s bottles are available to purchase here, starting at £6.99 for a single 240ml bottle.

*I was provided with a twin pack of Dr Brown’s bottles for the purpose of this review but all words and opinions are my own*

Elsa & Ted; Twinning Is Winning

I have long been a huge fan of Mama & Daughter matchy matchy so it was always a given that I would be twinning Elsa & Ted from the off.

The ever growing array & availability of unisex clothes is making boy / girl twinning even easier and Elsa & Ted have had some belting matchy outfits so far.


Leggings are perfect for a bit of boy / girl twinning & what could be better than these handmade The Princess & The Frock beauties from our very own Itsy Bits Children’s Boutique? This had to be my very first bit of twinning as I chose this fabric with this in mind!

This isn’t Ted’s best angle but the matching Maxomorra frogs are blooming ace. Love this funky twist on the traditional pink & blue. Perfect for matching siblings.

And more Maxomorra. If you had told me previously that I would love velour I would have laughed long and hard. But it is ace. Matching dresses & dungarees – what’s not to love?!
I don’t know how long I am going to be able get away with the matchy matchy look before they start to object but I’ll keep going as long as I can. I just need to get in on the act now!