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Thursday, 25 August 2016

The funny realities of family life.

As a pregnant first time mum I had all of these ideas whizzing around my head about how family life was going to be. Cuddles in bed in the mornings, family strolls on the beach and eating dinner together a family at the table each evening.

But lets face it whilst those idea's are lovely, and do happen occasionally the reality of family life is much different (and often much more amusing!).

Today I thought I would share with you some of our "realities of family life" that we can look back on and have a good laugh about now and for years to come. Please do share yours too in the comments I would love to hear them.

Before I had kids I imagined the kids climbing in to our bed in the mornings and us all having cuddles in bed watching a bit of weekend tv whilst we all woke up.


The reality is that around 5am I am given a wake up call by a child hollering across the hall that they need a drink and want breakfast (at 5am!!). Then I am usually greeted by Evelyn who has managed to strip most of her pyjama's off and thinks its absolutely hilarious to evade my attempts to redress her. All whilst I am shhing the kids to not stomp like rhinos in a herd as our neighbours may be sleeping.

I imagined us having lovely strolls along the beach in the summer and pulling on our welly boots and going out to jump in muddy puddles in the winter. Enjoying nature and being able to educate our kids as we went.

The reality is that whilst we do attempt these walks they don't always turn out so well. Our stroll along the beach on holiday results in Evelyn having a meltdown because being the cruel parent I am, I wouldn't let her out to sea to hold a wind turbine!? The winter welly walks usually result in someone falling in mud (usually James), heck sometimes we don't even make it out of the street without someone needing a change of clothes.

That weaning stage, we all promise ourselves we will cook home cooked well balanced meals and finally we would be able to sit at the table together. I was so looking forward to sitting around the table eating out dinner and sharing stories about our days.


The reality is meal times are fun but messy! I do cook the home cooked meals but usually the veg is left and anything that looks remotely like a vegetable is quickly dismissed. The chat is more along the lines of "please at your dinner" or "no toes on the table" or even " please your your fork not your face to get food off the plate". To be honest if dinner doesn't break out in a food fight I consider it pretty successful.

Whilst at the time these situations seemed stressful we always look back on them and laugh at just how funny they are. How different our views of family life change once you become a parent.

Please do share your realities of family life I would love to hear them.

xXx
.

“I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. I have received a voucher for this post. 


Sunday, 21 August 2016

Quinny Zapp Xtra 2 **REVIEW**

A few weeks before we were due to go on holiday this summer I came to the sudden realisation that, whilst I love our big pushchair it takes up our whole boot meaning there was going to be absolutely no room for luggage! 

We are not a family that travels light so boot space was essential and so we had to look at getting a more compact pushchair. Luckily the lovely people over at Quinny came to our rescue, offering us a Quinny Zapp Xtra 2 for review. 

The Quinny Zapp Xtra 2 is designed with one thing in mind - to make life easier and it certainly did for us. 

Our first impressions of the Quinny Zapp Xtra 2 were really good. It looks sleek and elegant and it has a really good size seat unit. Evelyn is 2 but still uses a pushchair for long walks and near roads etc and some pushchairs have quite a small seat area, however the Quinny Zapp Xtra 2 offers a really generous size seat which is padded and looks super comfy. 


The next thing we did with the Quinny Zapp Xtra 2 was test it out in the car, after all this was our main concern with the previous pushchair. I was amazed at just how small the Zapp Xtra 2 folds down! It easily fit in the boot of our Ford Focus alongside 2 of our huge suitcases as well as all our holiday items for 7 nights. 


Putting the pushchair together was simple when it arrived. It was simply a case of clicking in the wheels (make sure you hear 2 clicks) and attaching the basket and we were ready to go! Putting the pushchair down however was a little more complicated to begin with. To collapse the pushchair you first fold the seat unit down then simultaneously press the numbered 1 and 2 buttons either side of the seat unit, this folds down the handle bars. This is when it got tricky you then have a section at the back on the bottom labeled 3 and 4 and you have to push 3 down and push 4 in. I found this a bit tricky to begin with but after a few attempts (and a few watches of the You Tube video) I had it worked out and its actually really simple to do but definitely a 2 handed job. 

The basket on the Quinny Zapp Xtra 2 isn't huge but this seems to be standard on most lightweight stroller style pushchairs. However its actually quite deceptive. We managed to fit 2 water bottles, sun cream, 2 nappies a pack of wipes, a change of clothes for Evelyn and a few snacks all underneath in the basket so I was pretty impressed! 

Another thing I love on the Quinny Zapp Xtra 2 is the extendable sun canopy on the hood, this really came in handy whilst we were on holiday. When not needed the hood is a standard size but when needed you can unzip the middle section of the hood, allowing you to extend the hood further and providing lots more sun coverage. Evelyn can sometimes get frustrated when the sun gets in her eyes but still wants to see out and Quinny have this covered.


The Quinny Zapp Xtra 2 is suitable from birth right up until you choose not to use a pushchair, its that versatile. It can rearward and forward face and can even be converted in to a travel system using the Maxi-Cosi Pebble or CabrioFix car seat. I love the adaptability of the Zapp Xtra 2 and that you could just buy this one pushchair to last throughout. 

Our over all verdict of the Quinny Zapp Xtra 2 is a big thumbs up! It is lightweight, easy to use and push and is small enough to fit in any boot. It comes with the extendable hood as well as a easy to use rain cover meaning you are covered for all weather.The most important thing for us, Evelyn seems to be happy and comfy so we would definitely recommend it. 

Have you tried out the Quinny Zapp Xtra 2 yet? 

xXx

** I was not paid for this post. I was sent the pushchair from Quinny for the purpose of this review however all thoughts, opinions and photos are my own. **

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Back to School with the Disney Store.

As September looms I am sure lots of us have been thinking about our children heading back to school or evening starting school for the very first time!

So today I am sharing my top tips for getting back to school and I would love to hear yours in the comments too!

Over the summer holidays we all tend to be a little more relaxed on bedtime and a routine which is great over the holidays but can be difficult to adapt back when school starts. Whilst it can be tempting to stick with the late nights and lie ins (if your lucky enough to get them!) try and get back in to routine the week before school starts. We try and set our alarms a week before school starts and setting a more sensible bed time so we can all adjust before school starts. Its makes it much easier if everyone is in that routine when school comes around.

- Let your child get involved in picking some of the items for going back to school, whether that's stationary and back packs or even their water bottles and lunch box. Having items they have picked will make your child feel involved and gives them a little responsibility. Also if they are like James excited to go and show their friends their new things.

- Try and arrange some play dates for your child with their school friends over the summer holidays. It can be quite daunting heading back to school if they haven't seen their friends for over 6 weeks so having that time to just chill and play outside of school can be really good. Even if its just arranging a trip to the park/a picnic with other parents and their children its a good chance for children to catch up outside of the school environment.

- If you don't already have one purchase a family calendar. It can be a great space for everyone to write things including events at school, school trips and record any important school dates that may affect everyone such as in service days. Put this somewhere everyone can see so that the kids can get involved in checking each day too.

- Start labeling EVERYTHING as soon as you can. I always underestimate how long this will take and end up rushing it. I get James involved in helping me pick name labels and let him choose a funky design so that he can easily recognize his own items from his name label.

If you are still looking for some back to school essentials why not check out the Disney Store, James has these super cool Marvel goodies to head back to school with and he is very excited to take them.

Do you have any top tips for those children heading back to school?

xXx

**I was not paid for this post, I was sent this item and we used the item to produce this honest review. 
All thoughts and opinions in this post are my own and written by me. **

Monday, 1 August 2016

James Update - Age 6!

Its hard to come to terms with the fact I am a mum to a 6, almost 7 year old!

James is blossoming in to such a kind boy, he has a heart of gold and goes out of his way to help others which is lovely to watch. He is an amazing brother to Evelyn and is always on hand to help her whenever she needs it. He has been such a huge help to me too especially during the school holidays when he has stepped in to help keep her entertained, he has also loved joining us for our swimming sessions.


He joined his local Beaver scouts group around 6 months ago and has really thrown himself in to the adventure and fun of it. He has made lots of new friends, learnt to tie his own shoe laces and has been on his very first Beaver sleep over (his first sleepover away from us!). He adores Beavers and it has made him so much more independent and confident in his abilities.



James has had some pretty big changes on the school front! Whilst he had been working extremely hard at his previous school we decided (with the help of James) to move him to a new school. I won't go in to the reasons why but we 100% included James in the decision and his final decision was to move and so that's what we did.

James has thrived at his new school and is loving it, he will be moving in to year 2 after the summer holidays which he is very excited for. Despite only spending around 4 weeks in his new school year 1 class the teachers were amazed at how well he adapted to his new school and made lots of new friends. His teacher remarked at how it felt like he has always been a part of the class which was lovely to hear. I think its fair to say I was extremely proud of him!


LEGO and Marvel Avengers are his favourite things at the moment and I love seeing his big imagination ticking over when he creates all sorts of LEGO models and vehicles. He is always so proud of them although we do have to hide them from Evelyn who we have nicknamed "the destroyer" for her quick LEGO crushing abilities.

Swimming has also been a big thing for James at the moment. He has been attending swimming lessons since he was around 3 but recently has been doing so well. He has moved up 3 groups in the last few months and now swims with some children who are a few years older than him.... and keeping up! His swimming teacher was pretty impressed that he could swim 50m without even being out of breath and still keep going. His ability to hold his breath for such a long time is also something that all the swimming teachers are pretty impressed with, we are all certain hes half fish.


Over all James isquickly becoming a kind hearted, sensitive yet confidence young man with a heart of gold and a smile to match. I am so proud watching him become more confident within himself and choose his own hairstyles and clothes which gives us all a glimpse of his quirky personality. I have everything crossed that he thrives in his new Year 2 class and continues to blossom.

You can read Evelyn's update here.

xXx

Evelyn Update - 2 years old.

Its been a while since I did a little update for both James and Evelyn but some time has passed now and I thought it would be a nice time to update you all on how they both are. This is Evelyn's update but you can also check out James here.

Can you believe Evelyn is 2 already (with the attitude of a teenager!). She certainly knows her mind and isn't afraid to put her foot down to get it. She refers to herself as "Princess Coco Pono something I am sure she has picked up from watching her favourite TV show Bing Bunny. Its quite funny really as she demands others call her this too!


Evelyn recently had her very first hair cut. It wasn't actually planned as we had gone to get James hair cut however the lovely man was certain he could get Evelyn to sit still long enough to cut her hair. I had explained my worries about her sitting still and her hatred towards the brush to him but he was still wanting to try. You see at home I only have to bring out the brush and she drops to the floor in a oscar winning performance tantrum so I had avoided haircuts all together.


Would you believe it though she sat still the whole time and loved it! I swear she does it to make me look stupid! Ok so the princess cape and lolly pop may have had something to do with it but still I was pretty impressed and her first hair cut was complete (just a trim to tidy up her wild curls).


Evelyn still loves the water (and being under it) and we swim at least once a week with one of her little friends at our local leisure centre. Its a lovely time for me and her to do something together whilst James is at school and its lovely seeing her confidence grow each time.

Bedtime is something we are still working on, whilst she does stay asleep once she is asleep the getting to sleep is the real issue. Some days she refuses to settle until 10pm which is pretty tiring especially when she is up around 6am most morning. She is sharing a room with her brother in a bunk bed which she loves so I am hoping this may just be a phase and we will eventually find our own routine.

James and Evelyn are still very close and she is loving having him off for the holidays and I think he is loving being home with her too. Its been nice not to have to worry about school pick ups and drop offs and just spend some quality time together. Saying this though they do bickering LOTS! Its usually over the most pointless things too, yesterday they argued over who could hold the empty doughnut pack in the car... yes really! I suppose this is to be expected with brothers and sisters though.

Evelyn has developed in to a crazy, strong willed but extremely cute character who adores adventures, running wild and getting muddy. Her smiles are totally contagious and her renditions of Twinkle Twinkle little star melt my heart. I am so proud of the confident little girl she is becoming, even if she does tantrum like a teenager and wake ridiculously early!


Don't forget to check out our Instagram feed where I share lots of pictures of the kids and our adventures most days! You can find us here - www.instagram.com/tantrumstosmiles.

xXx


Sunday, 24 July 2016

BubbleBum Junkie **REVIEW**

Since having kids the back of our car looks like a busy table at a car boot sale! Every time we get in the car they both insist on bringing a toy, a drink often a snack, however there is nowhere to actually store these once in the car. They therefore usually end up on the floor or the drunks getting spilt on the back seats and crumbs scattered everywhere. So when we were recently offered a Junkie to try from the lovely people at BubbleBum I hoped this would solve our problem. 


The Junkie aims to eliminate everything I mentioned above with its funky, fun design and various compartments to cater for all your children's needs. The Junkie features 2 drinks holders, a large insulated tote style bag which can also be removed leaving a large collapsible pocket area for toys to be stored. The Junkie also has 2 fold down trays and even a "tech holder" to hold a tablet. 


Our first impressions of the Junkie were great, we loved the design and whilst quite bulky it felt sturdy and well made, which is great for kids as we all know they can be quite rough or boisterous. The black gloss and splashes of yellow on the Junkie meant it wasn't to garish and didn't look out of place once stored in the car. 

The "tech holder" is a great edition to the Junkie. We don't tend to have the tablet in the car for short journeys but for long trips such as holidays etc this will be perfect. It means both kids can watch something on the tablet without arguing over who gets to hold it. The tablet holder is at just the right level for them both to be able to watch too so this got a big thumbs up from us. 



The only cons we found with Junkie were that the fold down trays are quite small and as the Junkie is stored in the centre of the back seat with the trays are attached to the main Junkie body. This means that for us the trays didn't seem to come out far enough into James and Evelyn's lap to make it practical to use. It meant they had to lean in to the centre of the car to use it and since Evelyn has harness straps she found it quite frustrating she couldn't do this. 

The insulated tote bag that comes with the Junkie is a fantastic idea. Its perfect for storing snacks and drinks in when on a long journey (and no worrying about food melting or getting too warm!). Its also great for letting the kids pack their own snacks in and taking along for a picnic etc. Both kids loved the cute design on it.

For us the Junkie is perfect it means all the kids toys, drinks and snacks can be stored neatly away keeping the floor clear of everything, it can then be easily removed from the car when needed. Yes the Junkie could benefit from a few tweaks such as the distance and size of the trays however these are such small issues compared to how useful the Junkie has been for us. 

If you have kids who like to bring everything in to the car definitely check out the BubbleBum Junkie

xXx

**I was not paid for this post, I was sent this item and we used the item to produce this honest review. 
All thoughts and opinions in this post are my own and written by me. **

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Restoring your pelvic floor with INNOVO.

I may be only 26 but I have had 2 babies and being a young naive 19 year old when I had my first baby pelvic floor exercises were something I didn't pay much attention too. Oh how I wish I had listened to that midwife who lectured me on the importance of doing my pelvic floor exercises and thrust various leaflets about it in my face.

So when the opportunity came about for me to out INNOVO I was intrigued and excited to try it. INNOVO is a non-invasive way to restore your pelvic floor, treating the primary cause of urinary leaks rather than just masking the symptoms. INNOVO sends targeted impulses via a set of conductive pads to safely and effectively activate all the muscles of the pelvic floor or to calm your bladder.
INNOVO recommend you use the equipment for 5 days a week over 12 weeks, slowly increasing intensity as you feel necessary. The optimum intensity to reach is between 70-75 (or higher if you feel you need to). I started at around 25 but had quickly increased to around 40 after a week. Once  INNOVO say that the feeling shouldn't hurt and therefore if you increase intensity and it hurts you should go back down a little and try again in a few days. I did stick at between 40 and 50 for a few weeks until I felt ready to increase intensity. I ultimately reached around 80 and whilst I could definitely feel the "contractions" of my pelvic floor it most definitely was not painful. After the 12 weeks it is recommended you continue to use INNOVO for 1-2 times a week in order to keep your pelvic floor strong.


The feeling when you are wearing the equipment is hard to describe. As I mentioned above it should never be painful but you can feel some light contractions of your pelvic floor muscles. The contractions will seem to start in your bum cheeks but these will slowly move around to the top of your inner thigh and in to your pelvic floor. Once you feel these muscles contracting this is the correct intensity and these are the muscles you should be feeling contracting to know it is working and targeting the correct area.

The INNOVO machine consists of 2 leg straps which wrap around your bum cheeks and the tops of your legs, 8 conductive pads which are stuck on specific places on the leg straps. Also in the pack you will find the main INNOVO machine which is a handheld device with cables coming from the top. You connect these cables to the two connectors on the leg straps (one red one blue), when you do this ensure you listen for 2 clicks on each one to ensure they are connected correctly. From the handheld device you can control the intensity of the "contractions" and it also shows you the 30 minute timer which counts down and beeps when you reach the end.


93% of users found a significant improvement after just 4 weeks and 86% of users would define themselves as dry or near dry after the full 12 weeks. Which I think are pretty impressive stats and from my personal experience I would certainly agree.

Priced at £249 the INNOVO isn't cheap but as someone who has previously suffered from a weak pelvic floor its hard to put a price on the relief and joy the Innovo can bring. Is it worth it? I would say yes definitely! The INNOVO has managed to give me back a pelvic floor and the ability to run, cough, sneeze and laugh without the worry of a leak all without the need of surgery or invasive treatment. If you think £249 is a little un-affordable in one payment INNOVO allow you to spread the cost in to 5 installments of £41.50 making the INNOVO even more affordable.

INNOVO has given me back the confidence to run around with my little boy, to jump on a trampoline and most importantly laugh without worrying about any embarrassing leaks! The treatment is so simple and all you need is 30 spare minutes 5 days a week to sit/lay with the equipment on and enjoy some time to just relax knowing INNOVO is doing the work for you.

If you want to find out more about how INNOVO might be able to help you, check out the website here - www.restorethefloor.com.

xXx


I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.