- December 21st, 2011
I’ve got such an exciting competitionto launch that I just have to make it the very first topic this week! Now, we’ve been lucky enough in this household to have had lots of lovely trips to the theatre recently! It’s one of my absolute most favourite things to do and I’m so enjoying taking Florence and exposing her for the first time to my passion, I kind of think she’s loving it too which makes it even better! Sometimes however, it is nice to get out to the theatre as an adult, sans children and with another adult who will hopefully sit beside you rather than on your lap, not rub a snotty nose on your shoulder and if they hold your hand (hopefully) it won’t be sticky! It is with great difficulty then that I am not stealing this prize for myself and running off into the night! As a delightful treat just in time for Christmas I have two tickets up for grabs to see THE ballet of the season! Interested? Read on:English National Ballet is offering a lucky reader the chance to win a pair of tickets to see Christmas favourite The Nutcracker at the London Coliseum. The tickets can be used for any performance* between 26 and 30 December 2011.
Journey back in time with English National Ballet’s The Nutcracker to a frost-covered, gas lit London and join Clara, her Nutcracker doll and the magician Drosselmeyer in this traditional festive tale for all the family. In a world of Edwardian elegance sparkling with Swarovski crystal, The Nutcracker brings to life the eternally popular Tchaikovsky score featuring the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Waltz of the Flowers.
To win the tickets please answer the below question,
What is the name of the famous fairy in The Nutcracker?
A) The Tooth Fairy
B) The Sugar Plum Fairy
Send your answers via email to me at [email protected] by mid day on 23rd December and you could be in for a brilliant Christmas present!
(Winners will be drawn at random just after mid day on 23rd December 2011 and notified shortly afterwards via email)
Talking of the theatre, we had a pretty delightful trip this weekend ourselves. My Mum, Florence and I went to see ‘Slava’s Snowshow’ which is on at the ‘Royal Festival Hall’ based at London’s Southbank Centre for a limited season of just three weeks after a fifteen year absence from the London stage. This show/spectacle/art work is something that really has to be seen to be believed. Now we did get to take Florence with us even though it was recommended that children under the age of 8 don’t attend but the rules have now been revised to state that it is not suitable for children under 8 and that it is NOT suitable for babes in arms at all due to the levels of audience participation. I feel they are being rather cautious as if you sit further back, as we did, they wouldn’t really be affected but at the end of the day thems the rules and actually the show is rather too sophisticated for really little ones in other ways so it’s probably the right decision to leave them with their Grandparents for this particular show! So, what can I say? It’s so hard to try and describe this performance art with words. I’ve been wracking my brain for a few days now wondering what I’m going to say to do the show justice and I’m not sure there really is anything that can be put down in black and white which will do the job properly. It’s beautifully and cleverly performed by two clowns in particular with a cast of supporting clowns along the way. When I say clowns however this conjures up laughter and happiness to the imagination and while this show does have amusing moments I’d say it’s more touching than funny. Mum and I came away with completely different takes on it. I had decided there was a particular storyline and she had depicted something else entirely. A bit like seeing a Salvador Dali piece in the ‘Tate Modern’ I feel it is open to interpretation and each person is bound to interpret something different. I saw it as a sad old clown at the end of his life wanting to end it all because he’d had enough and being shown by an angel through the seasons of his life just before he made that leap into the unknown. I saw him being shown through his child and adulthood and shown that actually the winter was just as much a journey and I felt that where he was left, even though it was the end, he was then happy. I am almost certainly wrong but who cares, that’s what I took from it and I enjoyed it.
The mimes, movements, music and clever use of sound is thought provoking and exciting with humour and sadness and it evoked lots of emotion from the audience. Special effects were both amazing and baffling, someone incredibly clever with an eye most people couldn’t even dream of has worked on this show and it certainly is worth seeing and lives up to all its hype! There is a lot of audience participation which culminates at the end in the best snow storm you’ll see inside a theatre, hands down! You will leave shaking snow from your boots (and we weren’t even near the front). There are lots of moments like this however, and I don’t want to draw on them too much as I feel it might take away a little of the magic, you’ll just have to go and see for yourselves won’t you! Like I said, under 8’s are not advised to go and I have to say that as well as the special effects the company seem so worried about, I feel there are scenes with images I wouldn’t want little ones to take away with them, in the opening scene the clown ties a noose around his neck and I just think content like that may be best placed for an older audience. Take your older children for a cultural and beautiful experience and go and enjoy the show which won ‘Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience’ and was nominated for the ‘Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event’ yourself.I’m not sure you’ll find something similar anywhere else!
Tickets start at £20 (on selected dates only) and run up to £65 but there are special group and discounted rates of p to 50% which are worth looking into. Running from 17th December to 9tth January tickets can be booked at the box office on 0844 875 or through the gallery on their website www.southbankcentre.co.uk.
Apart from that, this week we have been mainly getting ready for Christmas and fitting in a quick trip to the ‘Museum of London Docklands’ for Florence’s early birthday party. Last year it was a blizzard on the day of her birthday party and the snowiest day of the year so I was a little wide eyed to see snow for the first time this year on that day but happily it didn’t last long or affect anyone getting there! She loves the museum and their soft play area (which is SO much more than just soft play) as it is ideal for toddlers, it’s free and just a little bit educational too! We went en masse with our gaggle of friends and then we had a Peppa Pig birthday cake in their picnic area afterwards. I can say with certainty that she had an absolute ball despite being up till super late the night before! My Mum had travelled down from Norwich to bring me the birthday cake which she had made (it was amazing) and I’d made the mistake of letting Florence know she was on her way. Well, that was it as far as sleep was concerned, she was determined to stay up and see her Gram and then when she actually arrived Florence went into a bit of an excitement frenzy! We were all ready for bed while she whizzed round the living room squealing with delight until midnight!
Unlike my Mum, I am not a brillioso in the kitchen and have had some absolute disasters this week! As I’ve said before we are ‘making’ presents in a bid to save money this year but so far I have just put a whole load directly in the bin by failing to make anything that is either edible or aesthetically pleasing… Oh well… At least I had my ‘back up plan’ for the home made presents and I think I have managed to save the day, even if I didn’t manage to save the honey comb! If it can be called that? Gooey mess in my bin would be more like it! Still, if it’s sweet Florence would eat it regardless. This week she had her 2 year development check, which is strange cause it’s early and I know loads of two year olds who’ve not had theirs yet but she did incredibly well and the health visitor thought she was far exceeding expectations which makes me a proud Mummy! She’s also put on 6oz this month meaning that she’s still under 21lb but is back going up the line rather than down it! I’m sure it’s because she’s been eating up all her breakfast in anticipation of having her chocolate advent calendar if she does eat every last mouthful. Not sure I’ll be able to keep that up and have a calendar for every month though! She’s never been a good eater but this bribery seems to be working a treat, she’s getting through tea time with the promise of a chocolate from the Christmas tree too.. Ooops, I see the chocolate pattern here… Guess if it means she eats I might just have to stock up on ‘Celebrations’ throughout the year as food incentives.
If you’re just beginning to wean your baby and worried you might have problems (as I most definitely have had with Florence then you might be interested in this. My friends at ‘Munchkin’ have put together a list of rather useful tips that I thought would be worth sharing!
Weaning – the next big milestone for you and your baby. Whilst this may seem daunting to many parents – it doesn’t need to be. Munchkin, the innovative infant brand, has some top tips for successfully weaning your baby whilst also enjoying this important experience.
Experts at the Department of Health agree that around six months is the best age to introduce solids to your baby. Before this, your baby’s digestive system is still developing and weaning too soon may increase the risk of infections and allergies. If you are in doubt as to when you should start weaning, consult your doctor or health visitor for advice and support and give you very specific recommendations for your child.
It is all about the slow introduction of solid food for your baby. Be sure to continue with your milk feeds at this stage as your baby will get all the nutrients and goodness they need from it whilst experimenting with other tastes and textures.
When you have decided it’s the right time to start weaning, try to pick a slot in the day when you’ve got time. Perhaps try weaning at their lunchtime feed or at breakfast so you have a few hours in between sleeps and feeds to monitor your baby and to take your time. A baby that’s not sleepy will be much more receptive to trying new things.
Make sure you’ve got the essentials. You’ll need a solid highchair and, if you’re planning on spoon feeding your baby, the award-winning Munchkin Soft Tip Feeding spoons are ideal for this task. These have a rounded shape that’s gentle on your baby’s gums and the special handle is ergonomically designed for a comfortable hold. You also won’t be able to do without lots of muslins or wet-wipes and maybe a wipe-clean mat on the floor – it’s going to get messy!
Start by giving a little of their milk as per normal, then stop after a few moments to try some solid food. If you’re feeding your baby then puree or baby rice might be where you start or it might be something like toast if you’re planning on trying baby led weaning. By doing this your baby will still feel a little hungry but not so full that he or she has no interest in the new food at all.
It’s important to introduce one food at a time. This is for two reasons: first so you can monitor for any possible allergic reactions and second so you can make a note of what he or she really likes. Don’t worry if your baby only seems to like one type of food, as much as it’s important to have a varied diet, they are still very much trying new things out at this stage and may well go through phases of liking and disliking different food types. The Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder allows babies to enjoy natural flavours, textures and the goodness of fresh food safely without the risk of choking.
Think about the size of your baby’s belly! Remember, looks can be deceiving and the actual size of your baby’s stomach is only the size of a walnut or golf ball. The Munchkin Mini Blender allows you to create fun and varied mealtime choices and is just the right size for little portions and little mouths!
Try to relax! You’ll only get to do this once with your child so try to enjoy it and take your time. If your baby is not taking to the food after about 10-15 minutes of trying, then continue with the rest of the milk feed and try again after a few days.
Munchkin offers a comprehensive and innovative range of award-winning infant and toddler feeding essentials. Designed to make mealtimes stress-free and fun for parents and babies, the award-winning range offers a colourful collection of products that are made from the highest quality materials and are all BPA free. Visit www.munchkin.eu.com.
Don’t forget I am running a fantabulous ‘into the new year’ competition for three lucky readers of mine to WIN some ‘Uki’ goodies. If you’ve not seen ‘Uki’ and his delightful friends on ‘CBeebies’ then you won’t know what I’m talking about but I urge you to tune into ‘Show Me Show Me’ which is aired twice daily throughout the week and where they are showing ‘Uki’ at 9am and 1pm to audiences for the first time. He’s a delightful character who is gentle in both character and pace and the programme, which is aimed at children between 18 months and 4 years is designed to be thought provoking and calming for them. ‘Uki’ also has his own app for the iPhone which you and your child can play along with, try out his card game and find his friends together. There is also a DVD available to buy for £11.99 and a Plush ‘Uki’ toy which is just adorable for £9.99. To find out more about ‘Uki’ and his friends please visit www.ukiland.com or check out http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/uki/. You can also follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ukiland. And now you could be one of the three people WIN a ‘Uki’ Plush toys and a copy of the DVD right here on my blog. All you have to do is email me at [email protected] putting ‘Uki Comp’ in the subject line and include your name, address and answer to the question below by mid day on 30th December 2011:
‘What time of the day during the week is ‘Uki’ shown on the CBeebies channel?’
(Winners will be drawn at random just after mid day on 30th December 2011 and notified shortly afterwards via email)
MY PREGNANCY DIARY WEEK 21
So, I’m pleased to report that my 20 week scan went extremely well. As far as the scan itself is concerned! I had to pick my notes up from the maternity department and then go to another area of the hospital for the actual scan so Jonny pulled up outside maternity while I ran in and got them then we were going to drive round to the other side to park. When I got back in the car, would you believe it, the car wouldn’t start! Time was ticking away and we were getting closer and closer to the scan so I ran into reception and explained what had happened and that we weren’t in a proper parking space. I asked if my husband could come with me to the scan if we left the hazard lights on and called the AA when we got back but unfortunately (and typically for unhelpful hospital car parks) they wouldn’t let us leave the car unattended so I had to go to the scan all by myself. I was so sad because I’d really been looking forward to us all going and I obviously had to leave Florence with Jonny as I wouldn’t have been able to look after her myself while I was being scanned. Jonny and Florence were sad too to have missed it but hey, I guess such is life.
I sat in the waiting room on my own, watching all the excited families and couples and just wanted to cry but as soon as I saw the baby on the screen my frown turned to a smile. It really is the most amazing thing and I think because the sonographer felt sorry for me (I explained what had happened) she was especially lovely to me and because she made a slight mistake and deleted all the images after she had taken them for her records I ended up having double the amount of time and having the scan all over again. The first time round the baby had been face down but in between I went to the loo and had a drink of cold water and he or she moved round so we got to see him or her from all angles. The sonographer even showed me the baby’s lips! It’s totally amazing that you can do that don’t you think?! She also gave me my pictures for free which was nice of her considering they’re meant to be £6! Can’t believe that either – I mean it’s only a bit of paper, it’s the hospital taking supply and demand to its advantage if you ask me! Anyway, most importantly everything seems right at this stage, all fingers and toes accounted for and this time she gave me a hint that the baby is a girl! I really don’t mind what I have but I want it to be a surprise and after the last time when it was hinted for a boy I was annoyed so this makes it evenly balanced and back to surprise again!
I said last week that I had an absolutely stunning dress to wear this New Year’s Eve and I would be making it my ‘Pregnancy Product of the Week’ this week. If you’re searching for that perfect party number now that you have a new body with a bump in the front then this might be just the one for you too! It truly is a show stopper and bound to make you feel totally special even though you are pregnant and if you feel like me, feeling like the elephant in the room! There’s no room for elephants near this dress cause it’s truly beautiful AND elegant! And it plays to your figure beautifully. Lots of maternity wear you find these days is just for functionality. There’s lots of hype to suggest otherwise but when it comes down to it that’s what it’s all about. Style and fashion seem to just go straight out of the window if a lot of the things I’ve been seeing in the shops this season are anything to go by. It’s brilliant, in that case, that we have such excellent online specialists in the field because otherwise I’d be dressed as a sack of spuds most of the time! I’ve had some absolutely great pieces from online shopping but this dress really takes maternity wear to the next level!
So on New Year’s Eve I shall be dressed by Eva Alexander in their ‘Sequined Midi Maternity Dress’ and I couldn’t be happier. At £180 it is certainly a treat but for the quality it is a superb and you will be pleased you made the splash out on something this special. It has long sleeves, a great v neck shaped neck line which isn’t too low and comes just below the knee. A lovely length for a pregnant lady! It is a dress which commands heels (but hey, it’s a party and there’ll be seats) for me because I am only 5 ft 3in and because of the below the knew hem line I look too short without them but I think if you’re glamming up then heels are a must anyway! Covered from top to toe in sequins you might think this is really ostentatious and over bearing but in reality the sequins are so tiny and sewed on in a beautiful swirling pattern which makes them gleam and glisten really subtly. For sure this dress will draw attention to you but not in a really obvious way; you will be noticed but for all the right reasons! It is 90% Rayon and 4% Spandex so is super stretchy but doesn’t make you feel like you’re all on show. With gorgeous ruching down each side and ample room for a bump, no matter how big, you won’t feel like it is too figure hugging despite being a tight dress. It’s actually very slimming and hugs a pregnant tummy perfectly. It comes in UK sizes 8 – 14, I chose a 12 erring on the side of caution. I actually think I could have easily got away with a 10 but I kind of like the extra room the 12 gives me, either would have been great for me in different ways. All in all a lovely dress and from a unique and new to me company that I shall be recommending to everyone for ages to come!
Eva Alexander stock everything from essential wardrobe classics, work wear and evening wear and one thing that rings true with all their clothes is that style and quality are absolutely top of their priority. Founded by Jane MacDougall the idea came to her when she was searching for well tailored, sophisticated maternity wear made out of refined fabrics that she could wear in every life situation with casual elegance. Her love of beautiful clothes and timeless classics rings true in her whole collection and I truly think you’ll be both pleased and surprised when you have a look at her site. Another plus point to buying Eva Alexander is the knowledge that Jane is committed to giving ten percent of her corporate profits to non-profit organisation(s) that make changes in other people’s lives by providing them with the necessities required to improve their standard of living. Every time you buy an Eva Alexander number you will be donating to this fund so there will always be two good reasons to feel great about your shop!
For information about my beautiful ‘Sequined Midi Maternity Dress’ and to view the whole collection (which has some really very affordable and delicious pieces even if you can’t quite manage to splash out on a big number) then visit their website
www.eva-alexander.com. And even better is that at the moment and until the 8th January 2012 they have a special discount of 30% when you enter the code ‘HAPPY HOLIDAYS’ at the checkout! Just perfect for this party season!
Well, this will be my last post until after Christmas, so I wish you all a very merry, happy and safe time this Yule season. I hope Father Christmas brings you everything you asked him for and that time with your families is special and fun! From now until then, I bid you a jingly belled goodbye!
(All opinions and words, apart from those in green, are my own. I have not been paid for this article although I did receive some products to keep after I had reviewed them.)