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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: Pink Lining Bramley Tote Bag

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information, Pregnancy, Preparing For Baby, Product Reviews | Posted on 03-09-2014

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I am addicted to bags. Since having my first son this addiction shifted slightly to include changing bags, and looking at the changing bag market whilst I was pregnant with my second son I saw things had come a long way. Changing bags no longer looked like changing bags. They looked like handbags. This excited me greatly. Now I did spoil myself somewhat after Little Dude’s dramatic arrival and bought myself a rather pricey changing bag which is just gorgeous. Prior to that however I arranged with Pink Lining to test drive one of their famous Bramley Totes.

Pink Lining has been a hugely popular changing bag brand for a very long time. Their “Yummy Mummy” bags must be one of the most instantly recognisable bags on the market, but if I’m truly honest they never really appealed to me. I wanted something a little more subtle from my changing bag, and something a bit less obviously a changing bag. When I fell pregnant with Little Dude I was rather excited at the chance to get a new changing bag, generally ignoring my husbands protestations that we had several in the loft and was I crazy. The bags in the loft were not going to suffice – I had two children now. I needed to carry all those baby essentials around with me – nappies, wipes, bibs, muslins, bottles, milk cartons, spare clothes… – as well as any bits and pieces my eldest might need – sonic screwdrivers, pine cones, interestingly shaped leaves, sticks for daddy… – and occasionally maybe even things for me – purse, keys, phone, headache pills…! You get the idea. There is a veritable mountain of stuff. I needed a much bigger bag.

Bramley Tote bags are very much similar to a TARDIS – yes, I live with a three year old Doctor Who obsessive. It rubs off. Its HUGE on the inside and stores so much more than you might expect. I get insane amounts of stuff in there, and more often than not to the point where lifting it becomes tricky. But that is not a problem thanks to the nifty straps. They attach to the bag with a clip at either end, and you can attach and detach them easily. You can attach them to use the bag as a shoulder bag or, when it gets a little heavy or for pure convenience,  to fasten the bag onto your pushchair. Switching between the two is quick and easy and it is my favourite feature of the bag.

Being a Tote bag it is not technically a changing bag, so it doesn’t come with anything like a changing mat or an insulated space for bottles which you see in most changing bags. This isn’t a major issue for me as I tend not to use included changing mats when I’m out and about as everywhere I go tends to have a dedicated changing area with no need for a separate mat. In the past week I’ve just loaded up my Designer Change Mat from Munchkin and chucked that in my bag. This fits easily, and still allows plenty of room for the boys’ bits and pieces, as well as my own. There’s even space for small bits of shopping.

I’ve used this bag now for about a month. I’ve used it most days when I go out with the boys, whether that be to the shops, the park, the garden centre, or to visit Nana and Pops. I’ve also used it when I’ve nipped to the shops without either child, effectively using it as a handbag. The design which I went for was the Cream Bows On Navy print. Its a truly beautiful bag and one that works fine with or without the children. In fact the only giveaway that it might be intended for use with small children in the distinctive bright pink lining. I’m sure fans of Pink Lining spot that a mile away.

I love my Pink Lining bag, and at £60 I think its very reasonably priced for something so classy, so well sized and so gorgeous!

Review: Tomy TFV600 Digital Video Monitor

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Pregnancy, Preparing For Baby, Product Reviews | Posted on 29-08-2014

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Little Dude is 15 weeks old – can you believe it? Weeks are flying by at the moment. We’re getting him into something of a routine though, like with all second children I imagine, he does have to work around his older brother. In the last week we’ve managed to get him to go to sleep at around 8pm each night in his crib in our bedroom, meaning we get a couple of hours child free each evening. Admittedly we spend most of this time tidying the kitchen, washing bottles, and preparing feeds for the next day, but hey – its progress. Being able to keep an eye on him whilst he’s upstairs is essential for me. When Little Man was this age we lived in a flat to we could easily pop down the hall to see him, and made do with a simple sound monitor. Now we’re living in a house I think a video monitor is much more necessary, so I was rather excited when the team at Tomy got in touch, offering me one of their video monitors to review.
We were sent a TFV600 digital video monitor to review. Here’s all the technical data, courtesy of the Tomy website:
• Frequency Hopping – to minimise interference ensuring crystal clear sound and privacy
• 250m Range – for flexible monitoring
• Night Vision – to clearly see baby in the dark
• Remote Controlled Nightlight with Adjustable Brightness – so there’s no need to disturb baby using the main light in the nursery
• Remote Controlled Lullabies – to settle baby back to sleep
• Independent Nightlight and Lullaby Function – for extended use after monitoring
• Two Way Talkback – so parents can reassure baby from afar
• 2.4” LCD Backlit Screen on Parent Unit – for increased visibility during the night
• Parent Unit Temperature Display – monitors the ambient temperature in the nursery
• Sound Level Light Display – stay alert to baby’s needs even with volumes off
• Sound Activation Mode – ideal for when your baby is that little older and it’s not necessary to hear her every sound
• Rechargeable Parent Unit – no hassle with batteries
• Battery Level Indicator, Low Battery & Out of Range Alarm – for extra reassurance
• Belt Clip – for day to day hands free convenience
• Pager – helps locate parent unit if misplaced

As you can see it has an impressive array of features. The monitor is incredibly easy to set up – you plug in the camera unit and turn it on. You turn on the parent unit – this can be charged or sit plugged in if you’re not moving around – and the image appears pretty instantly. The camera can be adjusted to point in a variety of directions and is fairly flexible. Due to the set up of our bedroom and the position of Little Dude’s crib we had to lie the camera on its side tilting downwards over the edge of a chest of drawers to be able to see him, but this hasn’t affected the imagery at all. We have been very impressed with the image quality, whether during the day or at night. As you can see here, its very easy to see Little Dude who is sleeping beautifully.

Do all babies sleep holding their heads on I wonder?

As you can see the day time image is much clearer than the night time image, but you can see him clearly enough to establish if he’s awake or not. In fact more often than not if he wakes up in the evening before we go to be he turns his face and looks directly at the camera so its VERY obvious he’s awake, and I’m pretty sure if he could wave at me he would.

I am very impressed with this monitor. The parent unit is neat and easy to use, and the belt clip allows it to be carried around conveniently. There is also a stand that folds out from this clip so you can prop it up on the table – as you can see in the first image. I like how the room temperature is displayed on the screen at the same time. We’ve used the zooming function on this unit, as well as adjusting the brightness of the display. The camera unit is great as well – a compact item that offers truly clear footage of your baby whilst they sleep. The microphone on the camera unit is pretty sensitive and we can quite often pick up the sound of Little Man shuffling around in his bed next door, and more frequently the sound of planes flying over the house – the perils of living on the Gatwick flight path! We haven’t used the talking function to soothe Little Dude when he wakes as yet, but I’m sure this will be utilised more as he gets older.

Retailing at £99.99 I think this is a fair price for this piece of equipment. A monitor is something you use for a very long time – we probably only stopped using one with Little Man around the time he turned 3 – so its a good investment for something we’ll use for that long. As he gets older the need for the video monitoring will be less, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy watching him sleep for a long time yet.

Review: Shnuggle Moses Basket

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Pregnancy, Preparing For Baby, Product Reviews | Posted on 04-08-2014

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A good bedtime routine is, for me, one of the most important things for a baby. I think that if you start with a routine as early in life as you can, you’ll be getting a good nights sleep much sooner than those who don’t. Little Man began with a bedtime routine after a few months and it has served us well. Naps and bedtime have always been relatively easy to maintain – of course there’s been the odd incident – and even now at almost 4 he lives by his routine. As well as a good routine having a safe place to sleep is just as important, if not more so. As parents – and as part of this great blogging community – we are all far too aware of the horrors of SIDS and cot death. Making sure we put our babies, toddlers and children somewhere as safe as we can make it to sleep is vital.

It is recommended that baby sleeps in your bedroom from day one up until they are six months old. With Little Man we had the family moses basket – a large wicker item that had been used for numerous babies over the years, yours truly included. When we fell pregnant with Little Dude we decided we wouldn’t be using it again – its not the smallest of contraptions, and being wicker its not the quietest either. We heard every movement he made during the night, and the basket used to creak with the slightest twitch. So much so that Little Man actually went into his own bedroom at four months so that we could all get some sleep!

So we set off on our quest to find the perfect sleeping environment for Little Dude. We wanted something long – Little Man had been a very tall baby, and part of our reason for moving him into his own room was the simple fact that he outgrew his basket. We wanted something that was going to hopefully last us the full six months, giving us the option to keep him in with us for as long as possible. We wanted him to have his own space – co-sleeping has never appealed to us, so we didn’t want anything that allowed Little Dude to wriggle his way over and into our bed. We wanted something washable – would we have a dribbly baby? Would we have a sickly baby? Would nappies be leaking nightly? We needed something where we could clean the structure and not just the bedding. We wanted something affordable. Every moses basket we looked at just wasn’t right, and mostly because of the length. If we had another long baby he’d have grown out of it far too soon and we’d need to buy something else. Something we were keen to avoid. In the end we ended up buying a crib for at home – a simple wooden crib which fits neatly at the side of our bed but also is suitably longer than the average moses basket. Fingers crossed we get plenty more months use from it yet.

Soon after we’d bought the crib I was contacted by the team at Shnuggle. They were looking for pregnant bloggers to review a choice of items – either their new bath or their existing moses basket. Baths I had plenty of – Little Dude already has two so a third seemed excessive. Their moses basket wasn’t one that we’d found in our endless searching and comparing so we took a look at the website and checked out the all important size. “10% larger than other moses baskets” was something we were pleased to read. Comparing dimensions to the baskets we’d already looked out we found this was the case – it was just that extra bit longer, and whilst it was a few centimetres shorter than the crib we’d purchased we thought it would make an excellent spare moses basket to keep at Nana and Pops’ house for day time naps and overnight visits. We were also excited by the claim that it was “almost silent” when baby was inside – something our previous moses basket certainly couldn’t offer. Soon after we received the rather gorgeous Sky Blue Shnuggle basket and folding stand to test out with our new arrival.

It was a few weeks after Little Dude’s arrival until we finally got the chance to test it properly. When he was six weeks old he and I relocated to Nana and Pops’ house for a week whilst some building work was done on our new playroom. Lots of builders, lots of mess and potentially lots of noise are not the best things when you have a newborn, so for five nights Little Dude got to sleep in his new Shnuggle basket. I can confirm that this basket IS “almost silent” and you don’t get the creaking typical with other moses baskets. The moulded and well ventilated “basket” itself IS easy to clean and any extraneous fluids can be wiped up simply and quickly. However it would seem that we had yet another giant baby. Even at just six weeks old Little Dude was beginning to look a bit too tall for this basket, and now at eleven weeks he’s almost filled it. Now this is by no means a criticism of the Shnuggle basket – this would have happened with any other moses basket and more than likely far sooner. Truth be told he’s looking a little to cosy in his crib as well. Sadly I can’t see him lasting the full six months in our bedroom, and we may find him departing sooner than his older brother if he keeps growing at this rate.

Moses baskets and cribs are, on the whole, one of those necessary but short lived baby items. Unless you have space in your bedroom for a full sized cot or cot bed you have to buy one, and for us, the Shnuggle basket is probably the best you’re going to get. It ticked an awful lot of our boxes, and width wise its great – there’s still plenty room in that respect. But unfortunately whilst I continue to grow giant babies the moses basket or crib is just something that will be used for a ridiculously short period of time.

#PlayPatrol : Mission One : Train Service Shed and Bruno Comforter

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Bigjigs Play Patrol, Product Reviews | Posted on 01-08-2014

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Well here we are, back reviewing Bigjigs toys and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. For our first mission of this new series we were sent two toys to review: a Bruno Comforter for Little Dude and a Train Service Shed for Little Man. Two very different toys for two very different boys, so without further ado, let’s get on with the show.

First up we have Little Dude’s newest friend, Bruno. Now Bruno is a member of Bigjigs’ rather cute baby range. Whilst they are famous for their wooden toys – trains especially – they do have a lovely selection of soft toys that are suitable from birth. Bruno Comforter is a soft fabric square, plain on one side and patched on the other. In the centre of the patchwork side is Bruno’s colourful head, and on the end of each corner is fun toy to play with. Two plastic teethers to play with and chew on, and two soft feet, one of which is squashy and one that crinkles.

I am a big fan of Bruno, in all his forms. This comforter is a perfect toy for any newborn, and Little Dude is extremely fond of his new buddy. At 11 weeks old he’s not *quite* grasping and gripping things, at least not consistently, and thankfully we haven’t reached that dreaded world of teething yet so admittedly he isn’t getting the full use and potential from the toy. However he is very efficient when it comes to cuddling Bruno and as you can see from the photo above, having a nice little chat. I love the bright colours, I love how soft it is, and I love that it genuinely works as a comforter. Its a great size for Little Dude to snuggle down with on his playmat or seat, and to come out on trips with us whether its to the supermarket or this week multiple National Trust locations.

Trains aren’t a new passion of Little Man’s, he’s been gracing the local garden centre steam train on a weekly basis for most of his young life, but wooden train sets are. He got his first wooden train set for Christmas, and at Easter his grandparents topped up his stash with a few bits and pieces from the best wooden train company in the world with my gentle guidance. You can understand my thrill no doubt then when we were chosen to review for Bigjigs again and in our first delivery we received the Train Service Shed, which is new for 2014. The service shed is precisely that: where you lead your trains when they need a bit of work, some new oil and a bit of TLC. The shed contains two lanes for maximum efficiency, as well as a drum of oil and water ready for use with spares outside. The walls have shelves painted on them with a bevy of tools and equipment to get your train back into tip top condition, and the roof is full of windows so the engineers can see precisely what they’re doing.

Well, where to start. This Train Service Shed is basically epic. The attention to detail is just mind-blowing, from the oil leaks on the floor of the shed, to the foliage growing up the back wall. The interior design is beautiful and the effort which has gone into it is astounding. Its an amazing addition to any train set – Bigjigs is compatible with all leading train sets – with super bright colours. You discover a new part of this toy every day, a new detail, and new use. This service shed has been used endlessly since it arrived, and has been one of the most recurring toys to grace the floor of our new playroom. It took a little longer than planned – admittedly me having a baby the week the building work was supposed to start didn’t exactly help – but we’ve had a shiny new conservatory built on the back of our house, and for the next few years at least it’ll be the boys playroom. Little Man is especially excited about his new domain – I’m sure Little Dude will fight his corner when he’s big enough – and seems to have made it his personal mission to cover the floor each and every day with toys. The train set is the most efficient way of doing this, and the service shed is always a key part of his work. I love it. Its exactly what I wanted when I dreamt up the playroom. Admittedly I think soundproofing should have been included, but you’ve got to work to a budget I guess.

If I had to criticise the service shed – and I guess I should if I could – it would be the entrance doors. The piece of track they attach to – which is included in the box – takes the two lanes down to one before the trains embark on their journey. Unfortunately the pieces down fit flushly together enough for the doors to open and close cleanly and I here endless choruses of “Its stuck!” coming from my chief engineer. With a bit of effort you can get them open again – pushing the track piece down so it sits below the shed does the trick – but I still find the yellow paint from the doors have begun to rub off on the pale wood track. Also the colour is also coming off on the removable roof where it fits onto the shed walls. A bit of minor decor faults that by no means detract from the enjoyment and endless play that this shed provides.

If you’re not already following Bigjigs on Twitter – and shame on you if you’re not – you can find their main account @BigjigsToys and their account dedicated to their rail toys @BigjigsRail. Give them both a follow and join in the fun, and keep your eyes open for regular competitions. And to keep track of all things Play Patrol keep your eyes on the dedicated hashtag #PlayPatrol.

World Book Day Competition

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review, Competition, Information | Posted on 06-03-2014

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Books are a big part of Little Man’s life. He has a huge Tidy Books Bookcase which is almost groaning under the pressure of so many books. Every night without fail Daddy reads him at least one of these books, and every Saturday morning they go to the local library to get new ones to read. They always come back with two or three new books, generally one of which is a Doctor Who book which doesn’t get read but Little Man likes to carry it around and look at the pictures. We love that he is so keen on books, and we’re hoping this will last a lifetime.

When Little Dude makes his entrance in a couple of months we want to ensure he follows in his big brothers footsteps and develops a passion for books. We’ll be reading to him every night and hopefully Little Man will want to share his love of books with his brother. We’ve already got some books ready for Little Dude which will be attached to his pushchair and car seat so he can “read” whilst he’s out and about.

axel scheffler buggy books sussex mummy competitionMacmillan sent him some gorgeous little Buggy Buddy books which feature illustrations from the super talented Axel Scheffler to take a look at. The set of four books each feature a different animal and these special books have a large button on the front of them that once pressed make the sound of the animal in question. The featured animals are a frog, a cat, a dog and a sheep. The illustrations are amazing and go nicely with the other books that Scheffler has illustrated – many of which adorn Little Man’s bookcase. I love the large button which Little Dude will no doubt have no trouble pressing, and they attach so easily and securely to his new car seat. These will be a great introduction into the world of books and reading for Little Dude.

Now I have THREE SETS of these gorgeous four books to giveaway to my readers to celebrate World Book Day, just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter below to be in with chance of winning one of the three sets of books. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway