Thursday, 24 April 2014

V-Tech Toot Toot Drivers Parking Tower Review

We were recently very kindly sent a VTech Toot Toot Drivers Parking Tower for Tyne to have a play with.

Here's what VTech say about it:
Playtime with miles of fun learning! The tower’s manipulative features include a big spiral ramp and sliding track, flip-up board, fun roller, car wash centre, parking spaces, petrol station and much more. Includes a cute SmartPoint van and 6 interactive SmartPoint locations that interact with other Toot-Toot vehicles.  
Includes 2 ways to play! Open or close the gate to direct the van, take a rest in the parking places or enjoy the fun features around the tower. Features 3 sing-along song and 6 melodies. Encourages motor skill development and imaginative play.

VTech is a popular brand in our house, Tyne has a lot of toys from their range but Toot Toot Drivers were something we had yet to try out though I had many good things about them.

The tower arrived at a great time as Tyne has recently been showing an interest in toy cars over the past couple of weeks - he loves examining the wheels and watching how they move.

We filmed a short video to show Tyne's first reactions to the toy and his first time having a go at playing with it:

So what do I think of it?

I love the many different aspects of the tower - the car wash is a lovely addition and something I think Tyne will really enjoy when he is a little older and understanding a little more.

 The colours are nice and bright, and the tower itself is sturdy and easy to put together.

It came with a little green van which sings and says a variety of little phrases - I was impressed by the design which allows the car to know what to say in different areas of the tower - for example in the car wash it comments on feeling clean and in the petrol station it says "I`m full!" - little touches like that really make this stand out from similar toys.

 Tyne loves playing with the tower, it is the first thing he heads for every morning when he gets up so to me - that speaks volumes!

I expected him to be less interested at his age than he is, but even though he loves it now - I know its something he'll appreciate even more as he gets older.

The VTech Toot Toot Drivers Parking Tower is priced at £32.99 - to find out more or locate your nearest stockist, please click HERE
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Perfect holiday packing with Monsoon

I've been bitten by the holiday fever bug.

Everybody around me is talking about their holiday plans and I am still yet to make any definite decisions on where to go and when!

Hearing my friends talk about their beach holidays has really put me in the mood to go somewhere warm and sunny, but of course it's difficult when - like me - you don't fly!

I'm forever browsing cruise holidays but its difficult with a 1 year old to consider, especially when cruise companies like to charge an arm & a leg for toddlers!

SO I'm yet to make any definite decisions, but that doesn't stop me day dreaming about what kind of clothes I'll be packing when I do eventually book a holiday.

Packing is something I usually hate, but packing for a big holiday is somehow always fun!

I am always the girl lugging the 2 tonne suitcase around, bursting at the seams with far too many outfit choices and "just in case" items - the beauty of a cruise is that there is no baggage limitations so I take full advantage of this!!

If you want some ideas and tops on packing for your beach holiday, check out Monsoon's new video - I am lusting after the maxi dress and the white kaftan!

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Dressing The Baby: The Easter Edition

Whenever a special occasion rolls around, I get very excited about what little outfits I'm going to dress my little man up in - and so for the last couple of months I have had Tyne's outfits all carefully chosen and ready!

I love nautical clothes for Easter and all of his outfits had that theme to them.

On Easter Sunday, we went for the most smart outfit - Tyne wore a cute striped shirt with navy tie featuring a sailboat print, a pair of navy blue cords and this adorable trilby hat with navy blue ribbon.

Shirt & Tie:
Cords: Tesco
Hat: Tesco

On Good Friday, we went more casual....we teamed his sailboat print tee shirt with some casual jeans.

T shirt: Matalan
Jeans: Tesco

And on Easter Monday, he wore a gorgeous traditional Sailor romper suit. 

I LOVE him in this, and it looks so comfortable too!

Sailor Suit from

I loved dressing my little man for Easter - I'm only sad that there are no more special occasions to dress him for now until Hallowe'en!

Although we do have a wedding and a christening to go to before then, so I guess I can get my baby clothes shopping fix then! ;)

Coming Soon On Sparkles & Stretchmarks: A Bloggers Favourite Blog?

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5 of the Best Creative – and Simple – uses for Fairy Lights

If you’re looking for simple ways to update and improve your home’s decor and atmosphere, you’ve no doubt thought about painting walls or bits of furniture, or purchasing new pieces altogether to achieve your desired effect.
However, there’s a really simple solution for achieving a beautiful, cosy atmosphere in your home and all it involves are some fairy lights and a bit of know-how. Fairy lights can be the simplest way to brighten up spaces in your home. We’ve put together a list of 5 of our favourite ways in which people are using them in their homes, from high-end designers to everyday Pinterest users!

1. Fairy light photo wall

If you love displaying all your favourite snaps and are forever looking for new, interesting ways to do so, the fairy light photo wall idea might be up your street. We absolutely adore this example, found on Pinterest as it features pretty postcards as well as photos. Stick the fairy lights on your wall in lines with pins or tape and use pegs to hang your photos of the leads. Simple!

2. Filling jars and vases with fairy lights

This is a really popular idea at the moment and it’s no surprise as to why. If you have a vase or a pretty old jar that you don’t feel is filling its full potential, position some fairy lights in it to instantly give it a glow. This is the perfect (safe) alternative to using candles too. They look particularly fab in the garden during summer evenings at garden parties.

3. Fairy light sheer curtain 

This is another lovely idea that is perfect for the bedroom especially. Use plain sheer curtains with fairy lights to give the room a beautiful, romantic feel or for a truly magical feel in a kid’s bedroom. Hang them from the top of the curtains and let them drape down to add a unique element to an otherwise plain bedroom component.

4. Fairy lights entwined around furniture and features

Possibly the most common use of fairy lights in the home out of season is to wrap them around pieces of furniture. It’s popular for a reason as fairy lights entwined around staircase banisters, around mirrors or headboards can be really pretty. It’s also really simple! It can be a great technique for giving some soft, gentle lighting and attention to some of your favourite home furnishings.

5. Making words or symbols out of fairy lights

This is a great idea if you want your fairy lights to do all the talking and to be a piece of art in their own right. Get creative and spell out words in your fairy lights or symbols like hearts and stairs.
Shaped lights like these can cost you a fortune if you were to buy them new, whereas you can pick up indoor fairy lights from fairly cheaply and therefore create the look yourself for a fraction of the price.

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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Plate Review & Our Weaning Journey - The Non-BLW Way

We were recently very kindly contacted by the lovely people at Studio Kids Design and asked if we would like to sample one of their lovely personalised kids melanine plates.

We were delighted, and I headed straight to their website to browse the available designs.

There are so many beautiful designs to choose from, or you can upload a photo to be used instead.

I decided on a pirate ship design as it just stood out to me as being so cute and such a lovely plate for a growing little boy - if Tyne had been younger there were some beautiful baby-oriented ones available too which would be perfect for keepsake gifts for new births or christenings.

Once I had selected my design, I was able to add on the text I wanted - in my case Tyne's name - and could then amend the size and the font design and colour to suit my taste.

Once my plate was ordered, I waited for it to arrive - just 2 days later it was here, and I was so impressed by the quality!

The design is gorgeous, and I know this plate will be cherished for years to come by my little pirate!

At just £13.49 I think this is a real bargain for a beautiful and unusual gift, and I really can't recommend the service, quality or the ease of use of the website highly enough.

You can make your own keepsake plate at

Speaking of dinner ware leads me on to another topic I've been meaning to discuss......

You hear a lot of talk about weaning - people starting, progress reports, and so on.

But I have noticed that these days, most of what you hear/read/see is all about the Baby Led approach.

BLW is very in vogue right now, and it's what a lot of people are choosing to practice and by all accounts its what a lot of health professionals are recommending.

But it's not for everyone.

And it wasn't for us.

I read about it while I was pregnant, and I knew right away I wouldn't be taking that route.

I have always had a real fear of choking - for myself and for people around me, I get scared when Jon eats a boiled sweet and he's a grown man! It's just always been one of my anxiety triggers.

And having nannied and worked in nurseries for years, I experienced a lot of near-choking incidents with babies - I am fully aware that the gag reflex is there to protect them and what can appear as choking is just the baby coughing up the food - but I also know that (in spite of the first aid training I have had) I not equipped to deal with it - in all of the situations I was in, I froze. 
I panicked, and shrieked and stood back as other staff members resolved the situation.

So I knew I wasn't going to be following this approach with my own baby as most of the time there would be nobody else to help me and I have experienced my panic in these situations enough times to know that I do not react well.

Also - I have surprised myself by being quite a traditional mother.

I am somewhat of a "hippy" in most aspects of life - I always have been.

I read a lot of spiritual works, I practise meditation, I practise many different kinds of divination, I go to healing classes, I attend spiritualist churches, I go to folk festivals, I even lean toward a hippy-ish dress sense most of the time - so I thought that I would lean toward more baby-led approaches as a parent but instead I have favoured traditional methods.

My mindset has very much been "This is what I was raised worked for me, it will probably work for my child too".

And so far....I have been right. 

So what has our weaning journey been like?

We started Tyne on solid foods ahead of the recommended 6 month stage because we felt he was displaying all the classic signs of being ready, and he had always been a very hungry baby.

So we started off with baby rice at 17 weeks.

He wasn't much of a fan of baby rice (who can blame him!) but it helped him to learn how to swallow something thicker than milk - so after a few days of trying, we moved on to pureed carrot.

We then introduced different fruit and vegetable purees over the coming weeks.

By 6 months old, Tyne was well away - being spoon fed lunch and dinner each day and thoroughly enjoying EVERYTHING we tried him with.

We moved on to Stage 2 lumpier foods at approximately 9 months - he managed the transition very well and didn't seem to notice any change.

However we did try to introduce finger foods at this stage and he did not handle them well. He didn't seem to understand how much his mouth could handle and chose to put things into his mouth whole no matter what the size - he then couldn't chew the amount in his mouth and would end up gagging.

We stopped the finger foods for a while, and stuck with lumpy mashed up foods and soft things such as rice and pasta.

We still spoon fed but allowed him to self feed things like rice with his hands (we offered a spoon but he never used it).

Now he is 1 year old - at around 11 months we re-introduced finger foods and he seemed completely ready for them. 
He now seems to understand how much to bite off, and chews well - he doesn't gag on things anymore, and can eat pretty much whatever we eat cut into bite size chunks and can self feed things such as breadstricks, biscotti, crisps, rice cakes, banana, etc.

I hear a lot of people say that they think BLW is to thank for their children not being fussy with their food but I have to say that I personally feel this could just as easily be down to the personality of the child rather than the weaning method as in his whole life so far Tyne has only ever refused ONE meal - this happened 2 weeks ago, and was a dinner of jacket potato with tuna - he happily ate the jacket potato but did not want to know about the tuna and kept spitting it back out.

I think that considering he is a year old and has only ever refused one meal (and he is exposed to a very varied diet with a range of meats, vegetables, spices etc) he is doing pretty well.

He thoroughly enjoys meal times, and loves to self feed with his hands although he has yet to learn how to hold a spoon! 

He has recently learnt to drink through a straw too which he seems to really enjoy.

So in summary, I have found our traditional puree & spoon fed approach to weaning to be the right one for us - and I will follow it again with any future children we have.

How was your weaning experience? Did you try something different?

As always, I'd love to hear from you!

Coming Soon On Sparkles & Stretchmarks: Dressing The Baby - The Easter Edition

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