Saturday, 29 August 2009

The Big Bear Adventure

This weeks Saturday review is of our visit to the Build A Bear Workshop.

ModelGirl and I have been before but this was a first time treat for FunnyGirl who had only visited the store to buy clothing for the panda that she had been given for Christmas.

Luckily the store was quiet when we arrived which made the whole experience a whole lot more enjoyable. The girls were told that they could choose any bear and a full outfit so they were pretty excited.

This gave us quite a problem as there were too many bears to choose from! ModelGirl being the bunny lover that she is settled for a rabbit (after picking up and putting down just about every other available option!).
FunnyGirl - as we know, has a bit of a thing for Pandas - but her lovely big sister had already made her this one, so she really was in a pickle about which one to choose.

A good fifteen minutes later she settled on the Hello Kitty. ModelGirl already has this one at home but as we have a joint collection of Hello Kitty stuff - it's more the merrier.
After choosing their bears - the girls had to decide which sounds that they would like to put in them. As with the bears, there are lots to choose from including the option to record your own message. This is great if you are making a bear as a gift for someone - and when ModelGirl made the panda for FunnyGirl's Christmas gift last year this is what she went for, recording a message that said; "I Love you Boo Boo!"
Yes, it brings a tear to your eye - but none of that for us today - it was Hannah Montana and I Love you - all the way!

On to Stuff Me!
You get to choose how cuddly you want your bear to be from soft, cuddly or big and fat and you step on the peddle that starts the stuffing machine. They also pop in a bar code that registers your bear to you. This means that if you and your beloved bear get parted and returned to one of the Build A Bear Stores then they will know who the lost bear belongs to.
A good idea in theory but I have to wonder how many people would know that the lost bear had come from a Build a Bear Workshop and that if they took him in he would be reunited with his lost child? Good marketing though.

Before the stuffing is completed you get to choose your bears heart, rub it in your hands and fill it with love and wishes before it gets stitched up inside.
A free heart comes with the cost of the bear but you can also choose a charity heart for £1 or a cool beating heart for £4.
Next you are on to the Fluff Me station - you put your bear into a bath and he is showered with air to fluff him up and make him snuggly, after a little brush he is good to go.
If you are building a bear on a budget - or if it's for a gift then now is a good point to quit. You still get the little house box, birth certificate and access codes to get onto the interactive Build-A-Bearville site but it is so easy to bust your budget when you get to the dressing stage.

Clothing and accessories take up at least half of the store. There are complete outfits, mix and match separates, accessories and just about ever themed costume you could think of from SpiderMan (great mask!) to a Beefeater and a surgeon to a cheerleader.
Clothes start at £3.50 for a basic T shirt and go up to £12 for one of the complete outfits. You can accessories to your hearts content with wigs, glasses, mobile phones, roller skates, boots and high heels. Then there is the wardrobe to keep all of your new friends gear in one place, or the bed, stroller or bear carrier. I could go on....

The girls had a really good time making their bears, a trip here is a lovely treat. It's not all girlie though - there are some things that would appeal top boys but TotallySonny was not interested in the slightest!

Some of the Build A Bear Workshops host birthday parties from £8 per head, they would definitely be a contender if we had a local store as I hate the endless stream of same old parties each year. Not too bad if you have one child but times it by three and the odd bit of excitement goes a long way!
Bears range from £8 to £18, sounds £2 - £5 and hearts free to £4.

Friday, 21 August 2009

The Saturday Review - The Gro-Clock

Gro Clock review
Now this Gro-Clock review is a tricky for me. I have to say that when I saw it in a mag recently that I truly wanted it to be the answer to our five and a half year old early rising problem that is FunnyGirl.

I have a very strong affinity with the guys at Grobag as I (yes little old me) was the PR who successfully launched their sleeping bag to the global masses.
When they came to me they had already had two unsuccessful PR's and they said to me...
"I don't think that you can get press on a baby sleeping bag."

That night I went home armed with the said Grobag. ModelGirl was our mini bambino of the time, she slept OK, woke early, went to bed late. Liked too much boobie action in the middle of the night (a bit like her dad).

I had no hopes - no dreams. Simply zipped her up and off she went.

That night there was no last feed at 11pm and I had the first full nights sleep that I had had since she was born.

I woke, startled and ran into her room fearing tragedy. I stopped listened. Not too hard mind you she was snoring her head off. I looked at the clock - it was 10am. She has been asleep for 13 and a half hours......

So to cut a long story short... How many people do you think that I told about that? From that night on ModelGirl went down to sleep at the same time as DinoBoy (or TotallySonny as he is now know) at around 6.30pm and didn't stir till at least 8 - or 9am the following day.

Whizz forward. ModelGirl is now seven, not far off eight. Funny girl will be turning six before the year is out. She is a morning person. No one else in this house is.....

This causes lots of grumpiness and unhappiness (mostly mine I have to say). It wouldn't be so bad if FunnyGirl didn't have a habit of falling asleep at inopportune moments her pizza... at her schools church service....

You get the picture. It drives us all crazy that she makes us get up before 6am and then she sleeps for England at her leisure.

There will be some of you out there saying, well don't let her have a sleep.
Yes... OK, you try and stop her. She has been known to fall asleep mid conversation or even once in a restaurant when I simply turned to the other side of me to pick up a napkin from the floor. I turned back to cut her food...... Gone.

So. You get the picture....... We neeeeeeeeed FunnyGirl to stay in bed. Just for one day, just till it's normal O'Clock. Six would be good. Seven would be nirvana.
I saw the Gro-Clock in a mag and so I called the Gro MD (name dropping if you like) and asked him to send me one. He kindly obliged.

It arrived the next day. "Look" I said to FunnyGirl, "How exciting a special clock for you - that is going to tell you when it's time for you to get up in the morning."

"But I know when to get up mum." she said

"When's that?" I tentatively asked

"Cuddle time!".....

Ahh yes, I knew that well. It was cuddle past darkness in the not time to get up past scale.

But now I had a plan....

Set the time wrong I pleaded to hubby, but he being the more honest (not in PR one of our partnership) said NO. "She's not stupid."
And he was right. So we set the clock. At night time it shows the moon and you set it to whatever time you want it to show the sun. Plenty of opportunities to make them sleep in till lunch time if you so choose but not on hubby's watch!

Off we went to bed.

Day 1 - Funny girl stormed in at 5 something... we had had a later than usual night wrongly thinking that we may actually get to stay in bed till 6... Wishful thinking.

She was so excited that she woke early to wait for the moon picture to change to the sun and after at least an hour of waiting she had to rush in to tell us that her stupid new clock didn't work.

You can't pull the wool over her eyes!

Day 2. By this point I was starting to feel like the wolf in the three little pigs, continually out smarted by those pesky little blighters.

Again, she pounced on us earlier than usual. Fine I thought. This calls for a plan.

So I said to her.... "Tomorrow morning I will meet you at 5am at farmer Giles field where we will pick apples..."....eeeekkkkk Ok so I read too many Ladybird books. She wasn't going to be that easy to out smart and as it happened we kind of settled on a mid ground.
We agreed to a wake up time of 6.30am. That if she wakes before then - that she has to play in her room.

A couple of weeks have passed and the one thing that having the Gro-Clock has taught me is that FunnyGirl had no idea of what time it really was when she woke up.
So to come in to our room to be met by two grumpy parents, really wasn't her fault.

Wake up time - is just like bed time and play time. It's set by boundaries and whilst most five year olds could probably tell you what time they go to bed - how many of them could tell you what time they're supposed to get up?

Gro-Clock taught me a lesson. It taught me that I shouldn't expect my wonderful daughter to live by rules that I don't tell her even exist?
All that aside - it is a pretty cool nursery clock - and I like it.

Mummy-Tips Gro Clock
Gro-Clock RRP £39.99 is MummyTips Must Buy for any young child. I just wish that I had tried it sooner - I may have had a few extra hours sleep in my life! Well done Rob and Ouv, another fab product.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Blogging and me......

I've only been blogging for about six months but in that time my life has completely changed and as a result the lives of those close to me have changed too.
Gone are the evenings in front of the TV flaked out and snoring by 9pm. Now my evenings are spent sitting opposite my hubby at the kitchen table, both of us engrossed in our Twitter feeds or blogs.
Funnily enough we have settled into the same 'Twitter Tribe' and are often caught up in the same conversations.
He started a blog too. Inspired by an an amazingly kind act that shook the roots of everything that he believed in.

Then there are the people that I have met on line. People that I've bonded with without visual distractions. People that you know care for you and look out for you - probably more than you 'real' friends do. You find yourself looking out for things that you know they will like and you speak openly without the constraints of everyday life.
Surprise parcels in the post..... when was the last time you got one of those from your everyday friends?
Yesterday with the postman came a box full of lovingly sewn cushions and dresses for my children, made by one very special person who stayed up nearly all night making them for me despite having four demanding children of her own.
How many of you regular friends would do that?

Then there are the people that I have met and formed business relationships with. I have a fab new client who I was following on Twitter. She came to me for advice - not knowing that I was already watching her - and it took a while for us both to realise.
We are a couple of weeks into our business relationship and what a couple of weeks they have been! She is totally inspirational - with six kids in tow. You should stop by her site and have a look at her revolutionary new product. It's called easidream and it is awesome!
Then there is a lady over in LA. She has gone out of her way to help me in a project that I am setting up this weekend for one of my clients.
She didn't have to do that - we have never met. She has not only showed kindness to me - but she also sent @byyanto a stack of the Pearsons Salted Nut Roll that he fell in love with after me gifting him some on my return from Chicago.
She went out, bought them for him, packed them up and sent them to him here in the UK - all the way from sunny LA!

And then there is my boy - Sonny. What I have witnessed over the last few weeks has been nothing short of amazing. I have seen him blossom and grow and this is entirely down to his blog.

On Saturday we went to Drayton Manor Park - with free passes offered to Sonny. When we were back home after a wonderful day out I commented to him that he looks really happy at the moment and his reply totally shocked and surprised me.

He told me that he is happy for the first time in his life - that he feels like he has a purpose, something to look forward.

He is eight years old and I felt like a failure as a parent at that moment. All any mum wants is for her children to be happy.

But he went on to explain that he hadn't been happy at school - that there was someone in his class who was making him very unhappy but he now felt like that didn't matter anymore because he has his blog - he is TotallySonny and people want to listen to what he has to say!

The transformation in him has been nothing short of a miracle. I'm not saying that he went around under an Eeyore cloud before. He is popular, cute, clever and everyone loves him. He is just one of those kids that people take to. But he didn't have the spark that I have seen grow inside him over the last few weeks.

I wonder if he will think back to this summer and remember it as fondly as I will? I'm not sure how long his blog obsession will go on for but while it does I will nurture, encourage and promote the hell out of it. If he takes nothing more than this new found confidence then that's enough for me.

Blogging it seems is turning out to be a family obsession. The girls want a part of it too! Sonny tells FunnyGirl - "You will have to wait until you are seven at least." and to ModelGirl he is offering advice on what people would like to read if and when her time comes.....

So that is what my new life on the internet has brought me. A shared love of reading and writing and an amazing bunch of new buddies who I know will be my true friends forever.
Please do stop by the little fellas blog. He absolutely loves reading the comments that so many of you leave. You can find him at
Sophie4Sophie - you rock. xx
Sprmama - you are one of the kindest people I have known xx I hope that you enjoy your lunch at the Ivy on Saturday with annabel Karmel - you deserve it.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Wordless Wednesdays...

This is the first time that I have partaken in Wordless Wednesday - so I am turning it into a (not so wordless) caption competition.
Best entry wins a Stokke® Tripp Trapp chair worth £135.....

Rules are as follows.
1. You need to follow this blog.
2. Post your caption in the comments.
3. Caption can come from any or all of the people in the picture.
4. If you re tweet the comp you can enter twice.
I will pick a winner at 8pm GMT on Wednesday 19th August 2009..... Be creative!

Please feel free to link to the comp from your own blog - that will give you an extra entry too.
I must add that TotallySonny has a new blog post today too. For those of you who don't know, he is my 8 year old blogging son. Do stop by.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

New Product Alert!!!!

My last post was a bit too emotional and I think that I should probably stick to writing about products in the future!

I have a real exclusive for you today....

Zoobie are a fresh, hot new brand that I came across for the first time at the Earls Court Baby Show last year. I kept in touch and I've been waiting with bated breath (literally) for news of their official launch. Finally things are happening and they will be on sale in Mothercare and other selected nursery stores in the next few weeks.

The Jigsaw is a simply stunning top of the range wooden highchair that is beautifully crafted. It has a 360 degree rotation and is height adjustable, which is a great feature for when you are weaning. The removable tray is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning and the seat pad is really soft and scrummy.

The Spoon highchair is ideal if you are short on space but still want something stylish. It has a removable dishwasher proof tray so your baby can sit with the rest of the family at the dining table as well as independently and most importantly if space is an issue - it's lightweight and free standing when folded.

Their final launch product is Pebble.
I really struggled to find a stylish baby chair when my three were babies and a lot of brands have jumped into this under established market. I settled for a Baby Bjorn chair but in the end the cat used it more than DinoBoy did. I'm not sure that we bothered at all with the girls. I know FunnyGirl didn't want to be anywhere other than in her Stokke Xplory!

Pebble is a beautiful chair that looks stunning in the flesh. It has seven recline positions, a super smooth rocking motion to calm your baby and a stand to keep it stable at nap times. It has a soft easy to wash seat and head hugger and it's super lightweight it you need to pop in the car for trips to visit the doting grandparents! (only 3.2kg).
For more info and to see the full range of colours - have a look at the Zoobie site.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Old baby products we love

A Baby journalist friend of mine commented to me this morning that she had recently received three press releases on the same product from three different PR agencies - but seeing how I was always so on the ball - mine naturally landed in her inbox first.
This got me thinking....
The said product is nothing new. It has in fact been readily available to babies around the world since it's launch back in 1961 and I thought, that will make a good blog post. So here I am bringing you some products from our own childhood that are still going strong today.

If you have any other ideas that you think should be added to this feature - please do let me know.

Naturally I had to begin with the STOKKE® Tripp Trapp.
Launched back in 1972 (yes I was born in the year of the Tripp Trapp), it has been going strong ever since. STOKKE® have sold over six million units across the world and the popularity of the Tripp Trapp is at an all time high as parents want longevity out of the products that they invest in.
I met someone when I was over at BlogHer - who had a Tripp Trapp back in 1973 - her chair is still going strong and is now used by her own children.
Tripp Trapp is now available in twelve beautiful colours, which to be fair does make it tricky when you have to choose which one to buy!

2. Sophie the Giraffe
Born in 1961 at a time when the only animal toys available came in the form of everyday farm animals or pets. The exotic nature of Sophie - along with the fact that she is produced using 100% natural rubber and food paint have gone a long way to her staggering global sales of well over 30 million.
Suitable for babies from around three months - she is safe to chew, making her great for teething and excites all of babies other senses.
Her secret recipe is still a well guarded secret and each and every toy is traditionally produced in a process that involves more than fourteen manual operations!

3. The Maclaren Stroller
Now I know that this shouldn't really be included as it's design has evolved so much since retired aeronautical engineer Owen Maclaren designed and patented the first ever umbrella folding baby buggy back in 1965.
After struggling with his grand daughter's large heavy pram at an airport he decided to take all that he had learnt from his aviation past to bring the buggy into the jet age.
The first buggy was super lightweight at just 3kg and folded like nothing had before it. In 1967 1000 buggies were produced from Maclaren's converted stable in Northamptonshire but by the time of his death in 1978 more than 280,000 units had been exported.

4. Prince Lionheart SlumberBear
A real newbie in the scheme of things, SlumberBear was launched in 1978. Designed by a doctor it was a truly revolutionary product with it's soothing actual womb sounds. Still going strong today it has a couple of updated versions but it remains a fantastic product.

5. Johnsons® Baby Powder
The Johnson brothers went into business back in 1885. At that time they were producing medical gauze dressings and plasters. After a number of complaints from people saying that their plasters had caused skin irritation they began to include a small pot of talc with certain products to help soothe the skin.
This led to people just asking for the talc and and Johnson's Baby Powder was launched onto the market in 1893.

So then I came to number six and I was stumped. I started ask around to see if anyone else could think of anything. Whilst people mentioned lots of products like bathing aprons, baby walkers and nappies and lots of brands like Mothercare, Avent and Britax - none of them are still producing the same actual product.

All very interesting and in fact, out of the five products that I've featured above only the STOKKE® Tripp Trapp and Sophie the Giraffe remain true.

I'm really keen to add to this feature - so if you can think of any baby products (not food, baby milk or toys) that are still going strong today, please do let me know.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Simply the Best Breakfast Bagel...ever

So the are actually two things that I learnt at BlogHer09. The first was how to cook bacon and the second was the all American Breakfast bagel.
Three points to note here...
1 - we are not a nation of Bagel lovers...
2 - who the hell has a burger for their breakfast...
3 - Egg white? what's wrong with the yolk?

OK... so everyone that knows me will vouch that I'm not a big breakfast kind of girl.... but when in Chicago my body clock was all over the shop and my midnight chicken kebab thoughts morphed into breakfast bagel.... I don't know how - so don't ask.

Anyway, there I found myself in an actual Bagel store (very odd) and I ordered... (even odder).
To be fair - I had no idea what I was getting.. and yes I we were speaking the same lingo but hell Bagel, breakfast... you don't get all that in the English countryside.

So when I walked out of the deli, warm bagel in hand, I must say I was more than a little bit excited! I rushed the two blocks back to my hotel and called back home.
"I have a bagel" I excitedly announced.
"Yeah" was the response from home...
I knew that this was a solo mission....

But OMG.... They missed out BIG TIME!

My bagel, my beautiful breakfast bagel had a thin (McDonald's like) burger, egg white? salsa and chilli's. WOW

I was so not expecting the total taste sensation..

That night it was the total of my love email back home to my hubby - for I knew that this said Bagel would become him!

Fast track back to the UK... and here is the totally stunning BlogHer09 Breakfast Bagel recipe!

A Nutty Bagel is best.
Slice & toast
Cook a couple of slices of bacon (see my last post)
or a slim and juicy burger
Cook egg white in microwave for 40 secs
Turn on to Bagel
spread hot salsa onto one side of bagel and cover with pickled chilli's
place on burger or bacon


Tuesday, 4 August 2009

MummyTips learns - How to Make Perfect Bacon......

I have been meaning to get this post out since I came home from BlogHer09 last week. It was an odd happening but hey - what will be will be...

So it was the morning of the second day of the main BlogHer conference. At that point I was still a little down on the event as a whole. I went and sat down to check my emails and a couple of other ladies came and sat close by.
One of the ladies was leading one of the Geek lab sessions later that day and we got talking about popular posts on our blogs. Someone else joined in and she said that the most popular post in the history of her site went back about two years and was still getting really good traffic today.
Naturally I asked her what it was about and she said that it was pretty random and not at all the usual stuff that she wrote about.
Her post was about how she discovered how to cook the perfect bit of Bacon....

Interesting... I said and how do you do that?

You cook it in the oven she replied!


Now I am a bit partial to the odd bit of bacon in the morning but like everyone else I hate the mess that goes with it. Cooking it in this way is so simple that I am surprised that I hadn't thought of it years ago.

I was so excited at that moment that I had to email straight home to share my new point of wisdom with someone who would appreciate it!

So I thought. I have travelled all the way to Chicago, leaving my family for five whole days - just to learn how to make bacon! Ummm interesting!!

So - what you do is preheat the oven. I use 175c in my fan oven. Cover a baking sheet with foil and pop in for about 15 to 20 mins, depending on how well done you like it.

That's it. Drain on kitchen towel, and throw away the foil. It produces lovely crispy bacon - without any mess at all......

I must say a big thank you to Charming & Delightful - without her tip I would have been completely disillusioned!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Review day.. Little Yeo's Yoghurts....

Since returning from my Chicago adventure I have had lots of approaches from brands asking me to review their stuff.
After thinking long and hard about it I have decided to make Saturday my regular product review slot. I have a bit of a backlog and I'll try to get through them a couple at a time.

Your thoughts and comments - as always, are appreciated!

To begin - we were sent some Little Yeo's Yoghurts for the crew to try.
It has been well documented on my blog that my kids are pretty terrible eaters. But one thing that they can be guaranteed to scoff down is stuff like this.
The bag of chilled stuff arrived just in time for breakfast and the first four pack was gone in a jiffy.
Verdict from the monsters.... "Can we have another one please?"

Suitable from just six months they are a perfect weaning food. Made from mild creamy organic wholemilk yoghurt and natural fruit purees with no artificial flavours, colours or sweeteners.

They come in two pack sizes. Six pots of 55g (the ideal size for babies) and a four pack of 90g pots - that my lot wolfed down.
The cost around £1.69 from all major supermarkets.

The other thing that I have been sent to play with is the new EA Active for the Wii. It being a really horrible rainy day today - is probably the right time to get my exercise gear on and give it a go.... or I might just curl up on the sofa with the kids and watch Torchwood.....


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