Gaming for kids – yay or nay?

On a recent trip to a local restaurant it was really nice to see lots of families with young children enjoying a peaceful meal. Everyone seemed happy and content but on closer inspection I noticed that nearly every person (children included) was more or less attached to an electronic device. Mums and Dads on iPhones catching up on social media or playing candy crush or similar whilst children played on all sorts of gaming pads from leapfrogs to iPads to I don’t know what!

Now I’m all for a relaxing meal but is this right?

I am definitely guilty of using my smartphone too much as is my OH.. I’ve even occasionally become a little attached to a game or two ( Temple run amongst them ) but I try not to let it eat into family time. Izzy is yet to get into gaming or electronic devices – she is only 21 months so that’s probably the only reason we have avoided it thus far but she definitely is picking up on how things work and knows to press the home button to get the screen to light up.

It may sound as if I’m against gaming – I’m not.

From a lot of things I’ve read lately there are definite positives to tablets/gaming pads etc. There are lots of educational games and apps around which have shown a marked improvement for some children in subjects such as maths and spelling. Even our local school which has an excellent reputation gives out tablets to the pupils for use at home. I have nieces and nephews as young as 3yrs old who have mastered games which would have me stumped.

Things have certainly changed since the days of the Spectrum when I was younger – we didn’t ever play for very long but this may have been due to the 30 minutes or so loading time for each game. Technology advances are a little scary aren’t they?

How do you feel about children and gaming? Do you see the benefits? Do you have set rules/screen time allowances for your little ones?

*this post contains paid content

Some things that I love

I’ve decided to join in on But why mummy why “Some things that I love” linky for the first time mainly because its good to focus on the positive things that happen each week.

Something I read:

Since returning from Britmums I’ve read a lot of blog posts from people that I met and people whose blogs I have followed for some time. I’m trying to take the time to actually read blogs regularly.
I’ve also been re reading Goodbye pert breasts by Ben Wakeling and Shadow of the wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon which is one of my favourite books ever.

Something I watched :

I watched Behind the Candelabra this week and its such a funny,interesting film – I recommend it. It’s all about Liberace and stars Michael Douglas and Matt Damon who are both incredible in it.

Something I wore:

Last weekend I was admitted to hospital and whilst there realised I had no decent PJ’s that fit my swelling belly so my mum took it upon herself to buy me some very cool ones covered in giraffes. They are very comfy and fun. I’ve worn them a lot this week. I’ve also been rocking a DVT stocking but I can’t say I’ve loved it.

Something I listened to:

When I first got pregnant Bon Jovi had just released the song Because we can and I loved listening to it feeling happy and excited about being pregnant. I’ve listened to it again this week and Izzy has been dancing to it and its made me smile.

Something I can’t live without:

This may sound like a cliche but I couldn’t live without my family. From my little family of OH, Izzy and bump to my mum, dad and siblings I have found their help and support to be incredible these past few months and I know that I am incredibly lucky to have them. I get calls or texts from my sisters each day whilst my mum is just always there when I need her.

My Breastfeeding Journey

I’ve just read that it’s National Breastfeeding Awareness Week and I thought I would share my breastfeeding journey with you. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the subject as for me breastfeeding wasn’t as easy or come as naturally as I had hoped but I think it’s always nice to read different people’s stories and opinions.

Before my daughter was born I was very keen to breastfeed, I knew all the benefits for both the baby and for me some of which I will list on here further on and of course it just seemed like the most natural thing for a mother to want to do.

I was a little naive and assumed that immediately after birth my baby would nuzzle in and suckle away – this does actually happen for some people I’m sure and I really hope it does for me next time. Unfortunately it didn’t happen that way, although we had immediate skin to skin contact and some help ( nipple pinching ) from my midwife my daughter didn’t seem fussed. I assumed she was just worn out from her (probably traumatic) journey into her new world and so I just continued to try but try as I might she would not feed so I hand expressed for day 1 and 2.

Just born:

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On day 3 ( still in hospital) she had lost over 10% of her birth weight and I was told that unless she put on a certain amount of weight and started feeding I couldn’t go home. I felt like such a failure. Here was something that my body does naturally and I couldn’t get it right. Out came the hospital double pump and I spent the next 24 hours without sleep trying to plump up my little un. It worked but as she still wouldn’t feed from me the *horrible ( *totally lovely actually) midwives made me stay in hospital for 5 whole nights until they were satisfied that I could ( and would ) pump regularly and feed my baby using a teeny syringe. This was a really hard time, I was exhausted from labour and having a newborn with no help at night from my partner or family and it would have been easy to just give up but I really wanted to feed

On my last night in hospital I was very weepy and feeling lonely and an older midwife who I hadn’t met before came and sat with me on my bed, she gave me a hug and told me I was doing everything right and then she told me a secret. Before she told me she pointed out that this was not NHS advice and really she shouldn’t say but it had worked for her daughter – what was this magic piece of advice I hear you say? Nipple Shields. I was sceptical but on the way from hospital with my newborn tucked in my babasling I hit Boots and bought an electric breast pump and a pack of nipple shields.

Just before we left to go home ..don’t I look happy?

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On our first night at home at six days old my daughter fed for the very first time from me using these wondrous nipple shields and she pretty much didn’t stop for days and it felt amazing. I remember feeling so lucky and proud to be feeding my child. She was always a fussy feeder and most times would only feed with a nipple shield unless she was super tired – I guess she got used to the feeling. I continued to express and it meant that when she was a little older my partner could give her a bottle of breastmilk at night when I was really tired. I always loved the times we spent feeding especially when she got older and would reach up a hand to touch my chest or hold my hand. Some of my favourite memories are of us feeding.

At about 4 months Izzy had a lot of problems with constipation and some bowel issues ( going 16 days without a movement became the norm) and we had to see a consultant. We were encouraged to try giving some formula each day to see if it made a difference and whilst it did make a difference she began getting harder to breastfeed. I really wish we had tried some other options but at the time with a child who was in horrific pain I just listened to the doctor. It was only 1 formula feed per day but at 6 months she just plain refused to feed from me. I didn’t seek advice at the time and wish I had but I continued to express until there was in milk left at about 8 months so she carried on having a breastfeed by bottle each day for that time which I’m glad about. The time when I was exclusively pumping was the hardest. I was determined to provide milk for my child and would spend hours each day attached to the pump sometimes for a depressingly small amount of milk. I tried lactation teas and fenugreek but it seemed my supply was gone.

Even though our breastfeeding journey was far from simple I am so glad we did it. I know that I provided the best start I could to my childs life. I am not anti formula at all in fact Izzy still has a bedtime bottle of growing up milk but I know that for me (not everyone) breastmilk is what I wanted to give my child and its what I hope to do this time around too. In fact I’m aiming for a year – I am fully aware this may not happen.

Benefits for baby

*less chance of diarrhoea and vomiting and having to go to hospital as a result
*fewer chest and ear infections and having to go to hospital as a result
*less chance of being constipated
*less likelihood of becoming obese and therefore developing type 2 diabetes and other illnesses later in life
*less chance of developing eczema

Benefits for mum

*lowers your risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer
*naturally uses up to 500 calories a day
*saves money – infant formula, the sterilising equipment and feeding equipment can be costly
*can help to build a strong bond between you and your baby

This time around I am going into this eyes wide open – I know it’s not always easy. I will seek advice and help if I need it straightaway from someone qualified to give it. I’m lucky to have met a wonderful friend and breastfeeding pro ( @midwifetomum on twitter) who I know will be an amazing support to me. I will try my very best and not feel guilty at how long I feed for. I am hoping to not need nipple shields but I will certainly have some ready just in case.

I cannot wait for that first feed. This time I will get photos of this special time.

How was breastfeeding for you?

Dear Baby..Wednesday Words

I have decided to link up the first time to Wednesday Words a linky which is run by Emma of Crazy with Twins.

This is poem of sorts written to the baby residing in my belly.

Dear Baby

You have been part of me for 20 weeks
It sounds like such a short time
But we have grown attached shall we say?
I think about you most of the time and
I already don’t know what I would do without you
It hasn’t been easy
We have already had more tough times
Than is fair

But..
You are worth every minute
I just can’t believe we are only halfway
Through this long journey
Your sister can’t wait to meet you and
I think you are going to be the best of friends

Every day your little kicks get stronger
As I feel you getting to know what your body can do
I can’t wait to see your face
To hold your hand
To stroke your soft skin

For now I wait patiently ..or not
To see who you are
Whose lips have you got
Are you just like me or do you follow your daddy?
Will you be quiet and calm or loud and funny?
Whoever you are and whatever
You may be
Know that you already you are loved
More than you will ever really know

Crazy With Twins

Does my bump look big in this?

It’s getting to that stage in my pregnancy when I start to moan that nothing fits and if it fits I look fat.

My stomach is ..big. My face is starting to get rounder. My ankles are cankling already and my right leg is swollen. It’s not a good look. Add to that I am now wearing a thick white stocking due to a DVT scare last weekend and I bet you are thinking I am one hot mama hey? It’s really not that bad. In fact on most days I quite like my pregnancy shapes..especially my blooming chest but on some days I feel bleurgh.

Luckily this time around I am pregnant at a time when maternity wear is cool. Of course Kate ( as in Royal Kate ) is pregnant so all the major brands have hurriedly created some really pretty maternity lines just at the right time for me ..Woop!

So far I have jeans, tunics, vests, bras and I am on the look out for some dresses and if my leg decides to stop swelling maybe even some maternity shorts luckily I’ve been offered quite a few products to review otherwise I would be broke.

I need to find something special but not too extravagantly expensive for a wedding in September when I will be blooming nicely at 7 months..any brand recommendations? I am definitely planning flat shoes but with the UK weather and my increased size I really do not know what kind of dress to buy.

Were there any items of clothing you wish you had been able to buy when pregnant? Did you like your pregnancy shape? Anyone else have any DVT scares?

A recent bump shot..me and Alex from Madagascar at the Britmums Live 2013 conference:

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*this post contains paid content

Simple Suppers – Cheese and Potato Bake

After a few days away last week I returned home to a sack of potatoes which I really needed to use up and it just so happens I’ve had such a craving for cheese and potato pie. I really didn’t fancy the fuss of making pastry tonight and also I am currently on strict orders to take it easy so I made something quick and simple which my mum made a lot when I was growing up – cheese and potato bake. I adapted it from the basic recipe my mum passed on and it was delicious.

Cheese and Potato Bake

8/9 medium sized potatoes (peeled and diced)
1 red onion (diced)
200g mature cheddar (grated)
75ml of milk
25ml of single cream
1tsp of crushed peppercorns
2 tbsp of butter
1tbsp of herbs (your choice – I used rosemary & thyme)

Preheat your oven to gas mark 4.
Put your potatoes in a pan of boiling water and simmer for 15-20 minutes until cooked through and drain.
Sauté your onions in a tbsp of butter until soft. Heat your milk in a small pan or microwave and add to your potatoes, butter, pepper and cream and mash thoroughly. Mix in your onions and 150g of cheddar along with your herbs and spoon it in to a cazuela or large ovenproof dish, top with remaining grated cheese, some sliced tomato and a few basil leaves for decoration and bake for 25-30 minutes.

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This was a really comforting, tasty meal. Fairly cheap to make and really quick and easy.

I served this with tinned chopped tomatoes and bacon – yum.

This fed 1 hungry pregnant lady, 1 hungry 6ft man and 1 hungry energetic toddler with a chunk leftover for someone’s (mine) lunch tomorrow.

Izzy enjoyed 🙂

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Let me know if you try it 😉

Babies on board at Camp Bestival 2013

When you think of music festivals ..do you think: LOUD NOISES, dirty toilets and drunken teenagers falling over your tents guy ropes? This could be correct in some cases and is the reason why some festivals are not really my thing. Camp Bestival is not one of those festivals.

At least once a week on Twitter someone will ask me if Camp Bestival is suitable for babies/toddlers/children? I always answer with a resounding YES. CB is all about the family. Yes if you go right next to the stage when Dub Pistols jump on there will be loud noises but there are a hundred places you can go which are a lot quieter and calmer right at the same time. I used a lot of toilets during the 5 days we were there last year in all the different fields from the posh ones in the Camping Plus field to the busy ones next to the main stage and I honestly didn’t come across a dirty one – some can get a little *fragrant* but they are toilets and it really wasn’t an issue. There are even special children’s toilets and they are always well supplied with toilet paper and anti bac gel. There aren’t many drunken teenagers.. I didn’t see any – there is the occasional tipsy mum and dad though 😉

Baby on board

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If you are taking a baby – like I did last year then you will find baby changing facilities as well as a baby chill out tent where you can relax and feed your child in peace. Last year there were lots of free Bepanthen goodies which was nice. There are babies and toddlers everywhere – it will make you broody even if you have your own children with you. I had serious pram/stroller envy as there are so many cool ones on display.If that wasn’t enough most people have carts/trolleys which are covered with fancy paint jobs and fairy lights…and it really is adorable seeing all the little ones snuggly asleep while the parents munch on burritos and sip Pimms watching their favourite bands.

Tips for festivalling (made that up) with a baby/toddler:

* Clothes and bedding for all seasons – last year we had incredible weather.. It was gorgeously sunny everyday and my main concern during the day was keeping a hat/bandana on my daughters head and topping up the sun cream but at night well it does get chilly quickly and we had a padded sleepsuit for her as well as a Grobag and snuggly blankets for when she was in her pram. This year we are going to be using a Readybed and probably a fleecy sleepsuit too.

*Food – you will be able to buy all sorts of food at Camp Bestival and some of it really is superb but it can get expensive so packing snacks/pouches for young ones is a really good idea. Be sure to take a camping kettle if you are making up feeds or needing to warm food. Last year we cooked some really lovely meals on a tiny camping stove and I’m sure food just tastes better when you are camping.

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* Toys/books – you may find your child will wake earlier when camping due to the sunshine pouring in, the general hustle and bustle outside or just being in a strange place – it’s worth taking some small toys/games to occupy them while you continue to doze or make breakfast. We actually only had one night of slightly disturbed sleep the first night and then it was all fine – miraculous!

Don’t forget comforters, favourite blankets/teddies or dummies if you use them.

* Ear defenders – if you plan on going to watch the live music and want to protect those teeny ears don’t forget these. I think we paid approx £11 for ours. ( Edz kids from amazon)

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*Sling or baby carrier – we used carriers and a hippy chick last year and they were great.

* Nappies/wet wipes – take more than you would normally use as it would be just typical for them to get an upset belly wouldn’t it?

* Calpol/teething gels etc – hopefully you won’t need this but if you do get one of THOSE nights you will be so glad you brought these.

* Trolleys/carts – you can buy/make these beforehand or hire them at CB. We only hired one for the journeys to and from the car on the first and last day. The price was very reasonable and made things so much easier. If your child is out of the pram/stroller but still likely to get tired little legs in the evening I think it’s definitely worth hiring one for the whole festival.

* Suncream/rain covers/broliies – be prepared!

I will probably think of lots more tips so this post may be ever changing 😉

I know that many of you will still be worried at the thought of taking a young baby away but I really can’t encourage you enough to go – as a family we have said it was one of the best holidays we have ever been on and we do travel quite a lot! There aren’t many places when one day could include: Kool and the Gang, Rizzle Kicks, Mr Tumble and Dick n Dom alongside incredible food.. fabulous festival activities like the wall of death and bedtimes stories from Howard Marks. Each day is an amazing experience and you just will not be able to fit it all in.

Some lovely photos here of fellow Camp Bestival friends enjoying baby time :

So jealous of Abi and Bo in this pic!

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For those of you trying to decide I hope this pushes you in the correct direction and those of you already coming please say hello if you see us. We love making CB friends.

Read about last years CB here

Ticket Info here

I will leave you with two of my favourite photos from last years festival:

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Please ask any questions you can think of and I will try my very best to answer.

* We have been given press tickets to this years CB – thank you 😀