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Educational Play with Schleich I'm a big fan of learning through play. Unforced educational play. I'm not a teacher and I don't want to be. I want my children to naturally learn whilst they are having fun. When I was contacted recently...

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Say Eh-Oh to the new Teletubbies toys! There back!! Teletubbies made a joyous return to CBeebies last year, and this year marks the launch of the new range of toys. As you know I was sent a box just before Christmas, and today I can finally...

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Travel: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough Last weekend Nana and I took a rather lengthy journey north for a night away at the Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, with Little Dude in tow. The Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is a luxurious country hotel...

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A Place To Enjoy My Garden I love my garden. I love the fact that I have a garden, especially with the recent gorgeous weather we've been having. Whilst I have a pretty compact garden, there's a lot going on out there. Plants, fruit...

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Cuddles With Ben Cohen Some days I have a really difficult job. Days like this for example. *Ahem* That rather nice young man is former rugby player Ben Cohen. Ben is a bit of an expert when it comes to cuddles. He has...

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Review: Almondella Baby Box

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Pregnancy, Preparing For Baby, Product Reviews | Posted on 28-06-2014

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I’ve reviewed a few beauty monthly subscription boxes on here and been a big fan of the concept, as well as the contents. The arrival of Little Dude has given me the opportunity to test out a new kind of monthly subscription box – the baby box.

I was recently sent a brand new Almondella box to test out. Almondella originates from Finland where new mothers get a box of products when their babies are born – something which I must say appeals to me!  – which includes clothing, washable nappies, bedding, towels and other care products. You might recall that Prince George received a box from the Finnish government when he was born. The empty boxes are even used as a bed for baby, which certainly saves on buying moses baskets. Almondella decided to give people to get their own taster of this box by providing a monthly box which fits in with the age of your baby, starting from when they are in your tummy right through until they are 3 years old. If you become a subscriber you get a preview of the contents each month and so get the option to skip a box if you wish to.

We were sent a “Newborn Box” to review, which contained items for Little Dude and for me. Our box contained a Lifefactory Glass Bottle for feeding, a packet of Imsevimse Washable Breast Pads, some Love Boo Bosom Buddy breast firming cream, a pair of Moi Leggings and a Darling Clementine Note card.

almondella subscription box contents

This box is clearly geared up for those early days of seemingly endless feeding, and even comes with a leaflet about bonding with your baby through breastfeeding. Now unfortunately for me, despite my best intentions, a slightly traumatic birth and subsequent problems have meant that breastfeeding was pretty unsuccessful from day 2. Little Dude enjoyed about a 36 hours of being purely breastfed and that’s brilliant for me, considering the chaos that ensued. Despite this I think this box and its contents are pretty cool.

I love the colourful breast pads – who says they have to be plain and white – and I’m sure these would have been great fun to use given the chance. The breast firming cream smells really fresh and absorbs nice and quickly which is crucial for any kind of beauty regime nowadays. I adore the leggings which are a great gender neutral grey shade with a distinct black bird pattern across them. These are sized 0-6 months so we should get plenty wear from them, even if a bit of rolling up the legs is required at the start! Personally the idea of a glass feeding bottle is a bit scary – I do tend to drop things pretty regularly – but the silicone sleeve on this bottle will provide a degree of protection. Being made of glass also makes the bottle more dishwasher friendly without the danger of picking up strong odours and colours which often occurs with plastic bottles. Finally the note card is probably the vaguest part of this box, though I guess it would make a cute Thank You card for those baby gifts that you receive.

The Almondella boxes start from 45 Euro a month for a 12 month subscription – that’s just over £36 at today’s exchange rates – with the price increasing slightly per box for a shorter subscription. Trial boxes are also available from 30 Euro and one off gift boxes are 59 Euro. Now according to the enclosed leaflet the contents of my box retails at 85 Euro (just under £70) making the 45 Euro price tag seem a pretty decent saving. Whilst I wouldn’t personally pay £70 for the contents of my box, I think £36 would be fairly reasonable, especially when its being delivered and sent internationally. All the products are of a great quality and they are all something that little bit different that you probably wouldn’t find in stores. Almondella boxes gives you a great insight into baby brands and products from across Europe and for me that’s another interesting feature.

Almondella subscription boxes are available from their website. You can also find them on Twitter @Almondella

Preparing For Baby: Mummy Style

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Fashion, Preparing For Baby, Product Reviews | Posted on 13-03-2014

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I am 30 weeks pregnant today – can someone explain where the time has gone? Little Dude could be here in as little as seven weeks if I end up getting an early induction – which is still up for debate! – so we’ve spent this week making sure we have everything we need for the hospital bag, or at least have everything we still need written down. Its all about lists at the moment, especially now my brain has turned into some form of mush.

This week I finally had to dig out my maternity jeans – I’m sorry! – but I’ve been wearing maternity tops for a while now. I’m so pleased the weather is improving and I can stop wearing big baggy jumpers and can now wear t-shirts and more spring like tops. A while ago I was lucky enough to get sent some of Mothercare’s brand new Spring/Summer range to review, and I’m so excited that I can finally get it out and start wearing it without freezing. I was especially lucky to be given a pretty free reign to choose five tops to review, so I went for four that I could breastfeed in after Little Dude arrives if all goes to plan, and one top that isn’t feeding friendly. All the tops I chose will be fine to wear both before and after Little Dude’s arrival so I hopefully have my wardrobe sorted for the next few months at least!

mothercare spring summer sussex mummy review

First up is a Navy Wrap Top. It has 3/4 length sleeves and a hidden discreet layer that allows for “access” for feeding. I love this top – which you’ll notice I also have in red – as its smart and can be used for dates or events. It can easily be dressed up or down depending on whether I’m wearing it to go shopping, or to go out with Daddy or friends. I also really like the easy access panel which means I can feed Little Dude whilst wearing it without any trouble. The Red Wrap Top is basically the same, but I would mention that its more an orange colour than being red. Think more tomato soup red than post box red.

I also got a two pack of Grey and Black Nursing Tops. These are both incredibly comfy and ideal for everyday wear and for casual wear. I have been practically living in these two tops since the weather improved. Both again have 3/4 length sleeves and the hidden layer for feeding access, so they are both practical as well as comfortable. A must when you’re pregnant. The simple design makes them really versatile too, and they can be worn with jeans or skirts, and hopefully with shorts if it gets much warmer!

Another great smart top I received was the Green Bow Print Nursing Top. Again this is ideal for events, and would make a great back to work top. The length of it means I can’t wear it whilst I’m pregnant as my cute bowling ball bump does still out a little, but the short sleeves mean that I can wear it comfortably this summer whilst feeding my new baby boy. Again it has a discreet hidden layer for feeding, but as with all the other tops that have this feature I don’t think they are obviously maternity wear and could be worn even if you aren’t breastfeeding.

The final top I chose was a simple Blue & Cream Stripe Jumper. Its only a thin jumper and with the 3/4 length sleeves its perfect in the current weather. In fact I’ve worn this a few times without a coat on, though I’m not sure if that’s the weather or my own body temperature! This is the perfect partner for a pair of jeans and some comfy shoes for a relaxing walk round the park with Little Man or a trip to the shops with Nana.

I love all the items that Mothercare sent me. They are all really comfortable and show off my growing bump well. Its nice to be wearing clothes that flatter my shape instead of clothes that swamp it. All these tops are available in store and online now, and the jumper is in fact currently reduced in the Mothercare sale. The ideal time to buy!

Mothercare also sent me some of their “Its Your Body” toiletries to test out. Some of those bits are now packed and ready in my hospital bag and I’ll be reviewing them all once Little Dude makes his grand entrance in May.

Preparing For Baby: Breastfeeding

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Pregnancy, Preparing For Baby | Posted on 30-01-2014

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I’m now 24 weeks pregnant. Can you believe it? We found out at the start of this year that we’re having another little boy. Admittedly I did want a little girl – I’m sure all mums do – but I’m really excited to meet my new Little Dude in May, and we’re having a lot of fun getting things ready for him. Having a boy already, and being organised enough to keep a lot of things “Just in case…” our shopping list isn’t too long this time around. There’s a few new bits and pieces we want, but we’ve been lucky enough to dig out a lot of good stuff that we kept, and we’ve been sent a few key items for review. Obviously I can’t review any of them properly yet, but I can preview them now and do a proper review once we’ve used them in May.

I am hoping to breastfeed with Little Dude. Things didn’t entirely go to plan with Little Man – the fact that my breasts didn’t grow at all during pregnancy should have been my first indicator – and we struggled with a poor milk supply, a very hungry baby and a small appendicitis incident rather early on. We combination fed Little Man from day 3 and whilst I’m not going to get stressed if we end up doing that again with Little Dude, I am determined to give breastfeeding a go. Little Man was purely formula fed from 15 days old – I was a little busy in hospital having my appendix out at this point – so I hope to achieve at least two weeks breastfeeding with Little Dude, and any more than that will be a bonus.

We have a couple of bits of kit ready for breastfeeding. The main thing I was thrilled to find tucked away in the loft was my Tommee Tippee Electric Breast Pump. We bought this 10 days after Little Man was born after wrestling with a manual pump for a week. I wanted to try and encourage my milk flow and make it that Daddy could do some feeds. That’s really important to me – and to Daddy – again this time. I want Daddy to do some feeds during the week, especially when he goes back to work, so he has that important bonding time with his new son. Hopefully he’ll be feeding expressed breast milk – my breasts have certainly grown this time so fingers crossed – but if its formula so be it. I only got to use this pump for four days before being rushed down to A&E so I didn’t really get much experience using it, but I’m optimistic I’ll get to test it out properly this time.

cantaloop tank top tommee tippee breast pump sussex mummy

Something we’ve been sent to review for both during my remaining pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding is a Tank Top from Cantaloop. I have great plans to wear this top later in the spring when it gets a bit warmer, and then certainly during the last few weeks of my pregnancy and hopefully throughout a warm summer, but I did try it on when it arrived just to make sure I’d chosen the right size. The top has a built in bra for support, and adjustable straps to ensure the correct fit. Comfort is essential during pregnancy. The top fits really well and there is plenty of room around my bump for growth, as well as a bit more space in the cups for any extra growing my breasts do. The top has super easy clips that unfasten so make breastfeeding easy and discreet and overall it is very comfortable so far. I can see this being my go to outfit for most of the summer!

What other things do YOU think I need to make my breastfeeding experience easier? I’m considering a scarf or cover of some kind. What would you recommend?

Pregnancy: The First Trimester

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Pregnancy, Product Reviews | Posted on 28-11-2013

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As of today I am 15 weeks pregnant, and according to the app on my phone my baby is the size of an apple. I can confirm that my bump is definitely bigger than an apple, in fact its more the size of a bag of apples. I’ve had an obvious bump since about week 8 which meant there was a lot of baggy jumpers being worn before we announced at 12 weeks. Now these baggy jumpers are all a bit tighter than they were. I was aware that people showed a lot sooner in a second pregnancy, but I wasn’t quite expecting it to be this obvious this soon.
I’ve been fairly lucky so far. All day nausea, yes. Actual sickness, thankfully not. Insomnia, yep. Discomfort, oh yes. Appetite, vague and intermittent, and rather limited. For the first few weeks I barely ate anything. Everything made me feel sick. I lived on Doritos. Nowadays I’m eating Pringles by the tube and drinking gallons of milk. Yes, I am enjoying these at the same time much to the alarm of friends. I’ve regained my taste for cups of tea which went for a long time. I can manage fruit again. But I can’t eat potatoes in any form, chicken when its still hot or pasta. I’m hoping these oddities will end soon and I’ll be ready to eat anything and everything come Christmas or my plate is going to look a little forlorn.
As you’d expect there have been a few products that have helped me get through the first dubious trimester, though sadly none of them are food based!
Bump Support Bands: Despite my bump making an appearance so soon maternity jeans were out of the question. I wore them for about a week when it got to the point that my regular jeans were digging in and by 6pm each night it was easier and comfier to sit there with them undone – not handy if you have to get the front door in a hurry! A week later and my bump seemed to rise up overnight and now my regular jeans fit again. Unfortunately my bump was missing out on the support from the stretchy band on my maternity jeans and my back was beginning to ache so I looked into support bands. The first one I found and tested out was from JoJo Maman Bebe and was their Multi-Use Bump Bandeau. The idea of this is to wear is either wear it over your regular jeans as a support for your bump in the early months, or use the clever buttons to fasten it to your regular jeans in later months so you don’t need to by maternity jeans. When fastened in to your jeans it makes them comfortable and you still get the support you need, without buying what are often expensive maternity jeans. Now I haven’t been able to test the button feature out – I’m not quite that big yet – but I did use it as a regular bump support. Despite getting a small I did find that this was still a little too large for me and wasn’t really providing support. It did keep my bump warm though! After this I tested out the Bump Band. This is simply a bump support which can also be worn beneath tops which may usually be too short to be worn when pregnant, providing you with a bit of modesty. I found the Bump Band was a much better fit at my current bump size, and with its claims to have 120% stretch it should last a long time yet. I think I’ll be using the Bump Band for now, but hopefully I can grow into the Bump Bandeau and try out its button fastens soon.
Bravado Bras: When I was pregnant with Little Man my breasts didn’t get any bigger. My first clue in hindsight that breast feeding wasn’t going to be particularly successful. We managed two difficult weeks of insufficient supply combined with formula top ups before he went on to just formula after my appendix decided to burst. When I found out I was pregnant again I decided that I’d certainly give breast feeding another go, but won’t worry if it all goes wrong and formula is a perfectly acceptable alternative, despite what the breast feeding mafia will have you believe. My breasts became tender and uncomfortable very quickly and by 10 weeks I was getting them measured, finding to my shock that they’d gone up 3 cup sizes already. I bought a couple of new bras and was told I’d probably need them measuring again in January. Two weeks later I’d outgrown the new bras. This was going to become expensive if I carried on at this rate! Bravado came to my rescue when they sent me a Bra and a Support Tank to review. My breasts have NEVER been so comfortable. The bra and tank I was sent can be used when pregnant or for feeding as they both feature drop away cups for access and skin to skin contact. They are both lightweight, seamless and insanely comfortable. I can’t tell I’m wearing them which is a vast improvement, even on the ones I bought in the correct size after being measured. Luckily for me, and my bank balance, the insane growth seems to have calmed down a little and I’ve been wearing the Bravado bras for three weeks now. Fingers crossed they last me a while longer – otherwise I’ll have to get online and order a few replacements.
Simple Skincare: I’ve always used Simple products on my sensitive skin. Their face wipes are brilliant and are my must have item, but I’ve used their exfoliater and their moisturiser creams too. I think we’ll all agree that in those first months of pregnancy we don’t exactly look our best. White faced and a little queasy is not a great combination, especially if you’re struggling to sleep and running around after a 3 year old all day. Simple sent me over some of their new Kind To Skin + range to test out and luckily for me it came just as I was looking a little worse for wear. Firstly I was sent some Moisture Boost Hydro Mist. This is a handy spray which you can use on your face when it needs a little boost and a refresh. It can be used over make up and is great for combating dehydration and tired looking skin. I loved this product. Handy to keep in your bag when you’re out and about and a great way to wake up in the morning. Very refreshing and it left my skin feeling instantly moisturised. They also sent me some Perfecting BB Cream. I’ve seen a lot about BB Creams in the media but never spotted one I’d risk using. Simple’s is perfect for sensitive skin so seemed the obvious choice. The cream is very light and blends in quickly. I love that it has SPF 15 protection and after applying it my skin looked much brighter and healthier. I don’t wear make up every day, in fact I rarely wear it at all, as I don’t like the feeling of foundation on my skin. This product gave me healthy glow without the heavy feeling of  make up. A pack of their Radiance Brightening Cleansing Wipes were also included. Like I said I love their wipes and typically use the “original” ones or occasionally the exfoliating ones. I’d never tried these before, but they cleaned my skin well and combined with the other products I managed to look healthy during my first trimester, as opposed to as dubious as I felt!
Astral Cream: Its not just the skin on your face that takes some battering when you’re pregnant. I was lucky enough to escape the stretch marks with Little Man but I’m not taking any chances so I want to keep my bump nice and moisturised too. I’ve been using a nice moisturising shower gel but I’ve also been using Astral Cream. This is a great little all over moisturiser that works really well on dry elbows and knees as well as hard working feet. It has been great to rub into my bump each night and has kept it sort and supple, well moisturised and protected. Astral Cream comes in three sizes – a 50ml handbag sized pot for when you’re on the go, a 200ml pot for travel and at home, and a mega 500ml pot for those addicts out there. I received the mega pot to review and its brilliant. I’ve been using on my bump but also on other dry skin areas, and I’ve even spotted my husband using it too. A great value product that really works.
What products couldn’t you live without in those early weeks of pregnancy?

Sponsored Post: Peaks Of London

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information, Sponsored Posts | Posted on 13-04-2012

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When it comes to breastfeeding you want to make life as easy as possible so your little one can get quick access to their milk whilst also maintaining mums dignity. You also want to look stylish, especially if you’re out and about, whether it be lunch with the girls or a family wedding. Nobody wants to loose their sense of fashion when they become a mum, nor do they want to flash their bodies to the world, so beautiful breastfeeding clothes are a must. You don’t have to reach for the nearest stretchy cotton top either – you can go a little bit glam with Peaks of London and their range of breastfeeding dresses.

The Tokyo Dress is my favourite:
This dress has a casual feel to it, but can be teamed with heels for a more dressed up feel. There is a drawstring tie which allows adjustments to whatever your body shape, and the puffball sleeves flatter every shape and size. The drapes on the front of the dress provide discretion whilst feeding, protecting both your body from the crowds, and preventing your little one from being distracted.

If you’re looking for something a bit more special for a wedding or party, try the Drape Dress:
The wrap tie allows you to adjust to fit and highlight either your waist or cleavage to suit. The twisted knot on the front of the dress adds a good decorative feature as well as providing access to your precious milk. The knee length dress is a “must have” for any events you might need to attend this year.

Peaks Of London’s full range can be found here.

Product Review: Cot 2 Tot Wrap

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 19-03-2012

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Baby wearing isn’t a new concept. Its a great chance for bonding with your child and getting some of that all important “skin to skin” contact. It’s also a handy way to carry your child and still have your hands free – just ask Amanda Holden! But what about when you’re child gets a bit bigger? My Little Man is nearly 18 months old and carrying him around is getting a little harder on my back. He enjoys being carried around and being that little bit higher up than he is in his pram, but I can only do it for so long before my back and arms start protesting!

The Cot 2 Tot Wrap does precisely what the name suggests. Its a versatile wrap which can be used to carry your child from birth up to approximately 2 years old. You fasten it around yourself in the ‘Basic Knot’ and it can then be adjusted in a variety of ways depending on how you want to carry your child. “The Cuddle” leaves baby facing into your chest, whilst “Facing Out” allows them to keep an eye on the world around them. “The Cradle” is super comfy for them and lets them snuggle up close for a nap, or even for breastfeeding. “The Hip Carry” balances them neatly on your hip and holds them there in the way you would naturally – and this is the position I use to carry my Little Man around.

I was a little nervous when I first tried on the Cot 2 Tot Wrap myself. I’d received a brilliant demo and some helping hands from Becky, one of the Cot 2 Tot team, but by the time I’d got home it had all become a bit of a blur. Where was I meant to put his feet? Where does this piece go? Thankfully each Cot 2 Tot comes with a handy set of picture instructions and I soon had it figured out. I must admit to getting my Little Man stuck the first time, and subsequently used a teddy until I was confident in what I was doing!

The original plan was to test the wrap out on our recent day out to Fishers Farm Park a few weeks ago (Read about that here) but Little Man was adamant that he was going to walk around there holding my hand so I spent the morning wearing the wrap without him in it. This is one thing I love about the Cot 2 Tot Wrap – I wore it without a child in and didn’t feel that it was in the way at all. I just walked around with it fastened in the ‘Basic Knot’ position, ready for Little Man if he needed to be carried for a long time or started to look like he needed a nap.

With the first attempt to use it a bit of a failure due to my overly keen Little Man I instead took him for a walk in the village. I fastened the ‘Basic Knot’, slipped him easily into place, and secured him into the “Hip Carry” position. I love how this position allows him to cuddle you and for your arms to naturally fall into position cradling him as though you are carrying him. We set off to meet Daddy from the train station. I live at the opposite side of the village to the train station and we estimated that the journey there and back is a little over a mile. Can you imagine carrying a 17 month old for a mile where there are a few hills involved? I set off thinking that worse case scenario Daddy could carry him back. No danger of that! My arms and back didn’t feel a thing! I was supremely comfortable, and more importantly so was he. The way the wrap is fastened around you means that the weight is distributed evenly across both shoulders so there’s no risk of doing yourself any damaged. Little Man LOVED being up high and was chuckling and giggling the entire time. He was waving at cars and pedestrians and pointing at birds and animals as we went. He was having the time of his life, and I didn’t feel like I was doing much at all!

See just how easy it is to wear – though I do recommend practising before going out with your precious cargo – with this brilliant demonstration video, filmed at The Baby Show:

Cot 2 Tot Wraps are available in two colours – Harbour Grey and Midnight Blue – and are priced at £39.99

You can find Cot 2 Tot on their website at http://www.cot2tot.co.uk. Give them a follow on Twitter too @Cot2Tot50

The NCT

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information | Posted on 25-02-2011

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Over recent weeks the NCT, its opinions and its teachings have come under much debate in the media, and via Twitter. As one half of the estimated 100,000 couples who do an NCT course each year, I felt vaguely qualified to comment.

One of the best things we did. Ever.

Now I didn’t always agree with what we were being “taught” and following my labour and early weeks as a Mummy I thought there were issues they could have touched upon which they didn’t, but to be fair they can’t cover absolutely every eventuality. Yes natural birth and exclusive breastfeeding were pushed above all other options, but I think in an ideal world we’d all like a natural, and simple, birth and to provide a veritable supply of milk for our babies. But its not always possible. I had every intervention in the book just stopping short of a caesarean, and I had to stop breastfeeding after two weeks (try not to get appendicitis that soon after giving birth!).
My NCT experience opened my eyes to a lot of ideas and options which I probably would never have considered otherwise. It also highlighted how little I knew about what I was letting myself in for! But the best thing about the NCT? Even now, almost six months after the classes finished, I meet up once a fortnight with the other eight Mummies and their gorgeous babies from my class to compare comedy stories of what our little ones are doing, to provide a fantastic support group for one another, and most importantly, to eat cake.

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