- Meeting Mr Claus!
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- December 17th, 2011
Christmas is getting closer and I am just so excited! As I’ve said before, I simply cannot wait for Florence to enjoy the first Christmas she will understand anything about and I’m going all out to encourage the Christmas spirit in her! I love the season for so many reasons, I got together with my husband on Christmas Eve eleven years ago, I met my best friend at Christmas when my Mum and I went on holiday to Tunisia when I was 14 and I gave birth to my daughter on New Year’s Eve in 2009. These are just some of the reasons it’s special to me but there are lots more. It feels funny this year to be pregnant at Christmas and not imminently about to go into labour. 2 years ago I was of course in the position that I might do so at any minute and was desperate to get through the whole Christmas period without it happening. Florence was due on my husband’s birthday, the 2nd January, which was a strange coincidence as he was actually due on his Dad’s birthday which is Christmas Eve. I thought then that I didn’t want her to come any earlier than that because it would be better to have a birthday completely separate from all other festivities and of the hot dates I wanted to avoid, New Year’s Eve was one of them. However, after I went into labour on the 28th (It was a long stretched out affair with lots of drama, a journey from Norfolk to London in the snow being one of them) I realised that New Year’s Eve was probably the best date in a bad bunch. Christmas day would have been a bit duff and Jonny said that being born on the 2nd January was a bit of an anti climax; all the excitement had ended for everyone else and by the time he got to his teens his mates never wanted to go out as they were partied and moneyed out! So I’m really glad that she made New Year’s Eve (even though we only had 20 minutes to spare) and at least for every birthday not only her friends and family, but the whole world will be in the party spirit, there will always be fireworks and she will always be allowed to stay up late – her favourite thing! Last year at 23.40 I had my photo taken with her and plan to do the same this year. I couldn’t believe a whole year had passed since I gave birth to her and watched snow and fireworks from the hospital window as I held and fed her for the first time. How then, can it have been ANOTHER year already?
2 years on and I’m still breast feeding that beautiful baby girl although now she is a beautiful big girl and I am still trying really hard to get her off the boob! I met another Mum this week who’s in exactly the same position as me with a 2 year old who won’t stop. It was nice to meet somebody else who has a similar problem because I don’t find it very often and it’s not really talked about in magazines. There’s lots of info about helping women to start but not a lot for women who just can’t stop! I guess I simply expected her to naturally stop and self wean at some point and it hasn’t happened. When she was six months old I remember feeling sad trying to start her on solids, thinking that my breast feeding days with Florence were going to come to an end, little did I know eh! In a way I’m glad, Florence is naturally slim and she is not particularly interested in food unless it’s chocolate. If she gets ill, it’s the one thing she will take and I know it not only helps her feel better but helps prevent illness in the first place. It gives a lot of comfort and I suppose I am a softie and keep wanting to give her that. This week we had an unfortunate dash to A & E when Florence had a horrible bump to the head after falling off a chair at her play group Christmas party. She’s absolutely fine thank goodness but on that particular day I was glad I was still giving her ‘milk, milk’ as it gave her comfort and in a situation like that how could you ever mind?! I do think it would be nice to have a break before the new baby comes, just a while when I can wear normal bras and have a rest before Mrs Big Boobs comes back to town and I start this whole crazy feeding process from scratch again! I say that but I’m too soft, I bet I’ll end up being a tandem feeder; I’ve got my fingers crossed she’ll self wean before then but all evidence so far points to it not being the case! If the me from 10 years ago could see the me now, she’d be rolling on the floor laughing!
Following on with my Christmas theme and in my bid to initiate Florence into the season of excitement I took her to see Father Christmas in the new Westfield Stratford shopping Centre. I stupidly hadn’t thought to book up a ‘Father Christmas’ experience in advance and was upset when it came to it that lots of them had been booked up months ago. Apparently there’s a good one in Harrods but you have to book in about September so that was a definite no, no. We had briefly been to see him when we went to Winter Wonderland but it was a brief visit and Florence was tired so I really wanted to do something she would be able to be excited about. When the lights were switched on in the area that I live we could have popped in to his grotto then but the queue was hugely long, it was coming up to tea time and it did seem a touch early in the build up even for me! I was delighted then to find that Westfield Stratford had and still does have lots of spaces available for their experience and believe me, it’s a whole experience and not just a visit with the big man! What’s even better is that if you can go into the shopping centre before you want to go and book for the day of your choice it’s completely FREE! If you don’t live close enough to do this, as I luckily do, then you can book with Ticketmaster for £1.25 per ticket which isn’t too bad either. So, I popped in to book our slot and as luck would have it they had some space available for that same afternoon. In the meantime we went along to join in with some other activities Westfield Stratford has on offer at the moment. In one of the shops outside the main shopping mall and quite close to John Lewis there’s a shop which currently and until New Years Eve in inhabited by some of the staff from that old favourite of ours, Discover Story Centre. Here you and your children are invited to pop in and have a break from all the shopping madness in the form of Christmas crafts, story telling and face painting. Again this is all totally FREE of charge and we had an absolutely brilliant time decorating ginger bread men (and eating them), making glittery baubles for our tree and decorating a photo frame which will now be a present from Florence to someone this Christmas day! We also enjoyed the story of ‘The Ginger Bread Man’ read to us in that un-missable ‘Discover’ manner with lots of props and delight and before we left, Florence had glittery flowers painted on her cheeks which she was very pleased with! By the time it was our turn to head to the grotto we already felt as though we’d had a wonderful day out and we’d only been shopping! The Discover Story Centre which is also based in Stratford, a mere ten minute walk away, is one of our favourite places in London and I can’t bang on about it enough, it’s affordable and brilliant and if you haven’t been you’re missing out! If you look through my archive you can read my full review or if you like, please do purchase the February edition of ‘Junior’ magazine (out in January) where it will be published!
We headed down to see Father Christmas in his grotto, which is on the ground floor, and were really excited when we saw the beautiful building he is residing in at the moment; complete with toys in the window and elves running round attending to your every need. First you are taken into a room with some Christamassy themed soft play equipment, Father Christmas’s Sleigh and lovely little tables and chairs. You are taken in with a group of no more than 50 people and this includes grown ups so it really doesn’t feel busy at all. While here elves come and take the little ones photo and then when you are moved into the cinema room next door all becomes clear as to why! Upon entering the cinema and being given your special 3D glasses, the lights are dimmed and a really sweet 3D animation which lasts around 10 minutes shows Father Christmas’s elves getting ready for the big day. Your little ones photo pops up throughout the showing and its super exciting, especially for the children! Florence even wore her glasses from start to finish without complaining. After the film comes the main event and the children get to meet Father Christmas. I obviously don’t want to spoil the surprise but it’s magical, lovely and all the children are given a present. You also have the opportunity to buy a photograph of your family with the big man which we did and considering everything we did while we were there £6 for the photograph was a real bargain! Loved it, loved it, loved it and so did Florence. I think the best part for little ones is that you do everything in a group so it’s not at all imposing or scary meeting Mr Claus for the first time and we came away with the delightful story of ‘The Night Before Christmas’. Just perfect.
For more information about the grotto please see Westfield Stratford’s website http://uk.westfield.com/stratfordcity/ and for any general info on ‘Discover’ check out www.discover.org.uk.
This week on our travels we have been trialling a great little product called the Buggy Tug. This is a wrist strap which you attach to the handles of your buggy and then slip over your wrist like a bracelet, tighten it so that it won’t come off and then if you are in a position where the buggy handles accidentally come away from your grasp, you still have a hold of the buggy and its important cargo. I’m not sure how many people know this but in Australia it is mandatory for people to have a strap on their buggies which they must wear round their wrists when pushing. In this country, for some reason it is not and most buggy manufacturers do not include one as standard. We’ve all seen the video of that amazingly lucky lady whose buggy came out of her grasp on a train station platform and the buggy rolled as it was on a slight slope, onto the track and right into the path of an incoming train. It’s horrific viewing but thankfully the baby in the buggy in question managed to come away with just cuts and bruises in what can only be described as a miracle. Unfortunately there are other stories of buggies rolling away with much worse results and I can’t even bear to think about it. Now, my buggy is made by Bugaboo and actually does come with its own wrist strap and I do use mine, especially when travelling on the tube or like the other day when I was just walking on an incredibly windy day. The buggy did come out of my grip and even though I wasn’t anywhere where there would have been bad consequences I’m glad I had my wrist strap on to prevent the buggy from getting away from me entirely. So I am used to wearing a wrist strap and the one which comes with my buggy as standard is very good. We tried the Buggy Tug in comparison and it’s equally as good I have to say. If your buggy doesn’t come with one as standard then I’d say also that it’s an essential part of the kit you need with a baby! Can you ever be too careful? Well I don’t think so and this product not only gives peace of mind but might actually prevent an accident. It’s designed for all single handle bar prams and buggies and is very easy to use. Simply hang the strap over the pram, put the loop through the metal ring and then your hand goes through the loop letting you then hold on the handle normally. At just £3.99 with £2.00 postage and packaging direct from their website www.buggytug.com it couldn’t be simpler or more affordable. The Buggy Tug is also stocked at Jo Jo Maman Bebe, John Lewis and Asda nationwide.
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)
I’m wondering if the credit crunch is affecting the majority of people’s Christmas time this year? I spoke a little about it last week but for my family, mainly my husband and I and my sister in law and her family, it’s certainly tighter on the old wallet than previous years. We’ve both started our own families now and the ready cash we may have had at one time in our lives just isn’t as plentiful, so we have decided to have a ‘Walton’s’ type Christmas and make all our presents. Apart from the children – they’re getting proper things which haven’t been fashioned from toilet rolls! Whoops, family, if you are reading this, have I said too much? Don’t worry, I’m not really making anything out of toilet rolls, sticky backed plastic or old washing up liquid bottled but it’s nothing exciting either and that’s just the way it has to be this year. It won’t detract from Christmas because the most important little people will still have super exciting gifts and the main point is that we are together anyway but all the same, it’s still a bit different this year. If you, like us have found it a bit tighter this time, Savvy Mummys, the new daily deals site set up just for Mums and who I think have some amazing offers, have produced a set of great tips below!Keeping hold of your cash at Christmas
Top tips from Savvy Mummys – the savvy spending expertsChristmas can be costly – there’s no doubt about it – but there are ways to avoid blowing the budget each and every year. Being savvy with your spending is not that hard and you can still have fun this festive season plus save some cash at the same time. Savvy Mummy’s is the daily deal site that offers mums super-sized savings on all things mummy related. Here, they share their top tips for saving mummy money at Christmas time.Choose carefully: It’s tempting to stock up on little things that you think your friends and family will “love” when in actual fact – they don’t! Choose your presents carefully; think about how useful they are, whether they are practical or not, how your family or friends will store it and, above all, how much they truly need it. And if you are buying lots of little gifts, buy in bulk. There are some great two-for-three promotions in high street stores in the run up to Christmas.
Managing the kids: Many children have bigger social circles than we do and buying presents for each and every BFF can be tricky. Rather than spending a fortune on gifts for all of your children’s friends, arrange a Secret Santa. Not only will it save you money, trying to guess who bought whose gift is a great game for little ones too!
Sale shop: Always be on the look out for sales, discounts and special offers and utilise the specialist websites. Savvy Mummys is a daily deal site especially designed to save mummies money. Deals are sourced by mums for mums and emailed directly to your inbox so you’re sure to always be in the know. They even have deals for ‘mummy time’ and ‘me time’ so you can be sure you treat yourself as well as your bundle of joy!
Be savvy online: When shopping online, order everything you need from one place and all at one go if you can. Getting your items delivered in one big package will save you a fortune on packing and postage.
Talking turkey: If Christmas just isn’t Christmas without a turkey, make sure you don’t buy a bigger one than you need. Allow for about 0.5kg per person. This should avoid any waste – or endless turkey curries throughout January!
Be prepared: Why not start your own Christmas saving club with your family for year? Open a new bank account and each month put a nominal amount in to it. When December comes around, share the cash you’ve saved up between you and your family and spend without dipping in to your salary!
Savvy Mummys is a community-based daily deal site that offers mums super-sized savings on all things mummy related. With Mum Time deals for when you have your mummy hat on and Me Time deals for when you are looking for some self indulgence; Savvy Mummys offers everything from baby clothes to childcare, toys to holidays, fitness to family activities, dining, beauty and more! To become a Savvy Mummy member, sign-up at www.savvymummys.co.uk.
MY PREGNANCY DIARY WEEK 20
Half way through! Only another amount of time that I’ve already done and I’ll have two children! Unbelievable isn’t it?! I haven’t had my scan yet as am having it the week after I turn 20 weeks on the 19th December but I’m really looking forward to it. I’m going to say as soon as I walk into the room that I don’t want to know the sex of the baby and ask the sonographer to not give any clues. I wasn’t happy about the 12 week scan and the lady practically telling me what she thought even after I’d said not to so I really don’t want any more ideas thanks very much! It’s not that mind, I just want a surprise and even though I feel in my waters that it’s a boy I just like the idea of not actually knowing until he or she is born! So as I said, I’m well excited about it but I’m also a little bit worried… The 12 week scan isn’t a given that everything is running smoothly, just that everything appeared ok at that point, so there is always the slight doubt in my mind that things might not be quite so positive this time. Of course I’m sure it will be fine and while I’m positive most of the time, I have known people who unfortunately have not had happy stories and it does play on my mind a bit. I’m trying not to worry and think like that though because it’s horrible; as I’ve said many times, I am naturally a worrier and it’s hard to stop! I’m really glad that it’s happening before Christmas and fingers crossed I will be able to stop worrying by then! Ha! As if!
My ‘Pregnancy Product of the Week’ is a really good one this week! It’s one I’ve been waiting to get into for a while now and I’m so, so pleased it’s finally nearly Christmas and time for me to wear it! Being glam and pregnant don’t necessarily go hand in hand but just because it’s party season does not mean that us mummies with tummys have to look drab and boring; there’s lots of lovely things out there! I’ve actually got two gorgeous dresses to wear over this period. I really needed two because for me, it’s not just the Christmas parties I need to glam up for, but also the amount of birthdays in my family that week mean even more parties for us! This week I’m going to tell you about the dress I’ve chosen for Christmas and next week I’ll talk about my New Year’s number. So, the dress I shall be wearing on Christmas Eve and also again on Boxing Day is from the maternity section of George at Asda, costs just £16 and unlike my disaster tights from their maternity range last week, is worth every penny and looks like it must have cost an awful lot more! It’s called, simply, ‘Embellished Maternity Dress’ and comes in black (my choice) and plum. It has gorgeous beading on the shoulders which move into floaty oversized sleeves, perfect for covering up slightly less than toned upper arms (definitely a plus point for me), is styled as if it is a wrap around and has a tie at the back. On me, (I’m 5ft 3”) it’s a mini skirt but not ridiculously short and it skims beautifully over my little bump in a very flattering way. I’ve tried on my whole outfit and I feel fantastic in it. The fabric composition is 96% Polyester, 4% Elastane and is machine washable despite the embellishment detailing. When I fist saw it I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t more jersey type looking but now I absolutely love it. Being the sort of fabric it is, it can build up a bit of static with your tights but that’s easily sorted with a spritz of hairspray over your upper legs at the beginning of the night. (a little tip from Askamum)! It’s such a contrast to the George tights I reviewed last week and gives me new faith in the range; to be honest, if you were to go to a haberdashery you would pay about £16 for just the beads so the dress is such a great bargain and I love it so much I think I’m going to buy the other colour too!
If you fancy glamming up in the same party dress as me then you can purchase it in some Asda stores which stock the maternity range or on line at http://direct.asda.com/womens/maternity/.
So, until next week when hopefully my worries will be allayed a little and I can also bring you news of all the other things we’ve been up to. We’ve got a heavy week of Christmas parties at play groups and then will be capping it off with Florence’s early birthday shin dig! Take care for now!
(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.)