Monday, 28 February 2011

Goodbye #QuinnyCasters

We say goodbye with a picture tribute and poem....

The time has flown it's gone so fast
But our time with the Zapp Xtra has been such a blast
We've loved the challenges - and haven't missed one
We found them all to be so much fun. 

We've loved being Quinnycasters through every task
So what did we think I hear you ask
When now its all over I can definitely say
We use the Zapp Xtra almost every day

And although our Quinnycasting time is through
And we're feeling sad and a little bit blue
Cause it's come to an end on this very day
We won't be sad cause the Zapp's here to stay

It's part of the family, it goes everywhere
Whether sunshine or rain - the Zapp doesn't care
It's our trusty friend but we won't cry
Because for us it's not really goodbye.

It's Little E's favourite, her ride of choice
She told us in her tiny voice
She loves it so much - the Zapp Xtra's the master
and we've loved being part of the fab QUINNYCASTERS!

The Big Reveal...Makeover Complete!

Now, I feel like I should caveat this picture and say that my hair actually looked a lot better during the shoot. I appear to have meddled with it quite a bit and knocked it a bit off balance when I got dressed but overall I am really pleased... Whether or not I'll be saying that in the morning when I try and style it myself is another matter!

It was such a fun day and everyone at Love It Magazine was great. Lee Stafford was fabulous and we all had a good old laugh chatting about TV over lunch- Take Me Out was a favourite amongst the girls - everyone wants a bit of Paddy love!
When my hair and make up was complete it was time to pick an outfit for the shoot. There was a few to choose from and eventually we settled on a tight fitting coral number with some gorgeous cream and black bow shoes.

Then it was time for the shoot - I hate posing for pictures so I'm not really sure what they'll come out like. All forced smiles and cheesy grins no doubt. After a quick outfit change in to a maxi dress I was being photographed all over again.
The time went so fast and before I knew it I was in a taxi heading back to the train station. And that's where I am now... on the train home... tired, plastered in make up but happy...I think! Oh sorry you wanted to see the picture didn't you. Here you go (but dont forget Id messed one side of my hair up!!)...

What do you think?! The mag pictures will obviously be A LOT better than my effort! And my camera shows up just how much make up models have to wear under those bright lights. Right Im off - honest opinions please!

A Magazine Makeover... the before shot!

I’m currently sat on a crowded train to Euston and I’m feeling excited and I little scared. I’m off to the heart of London for a makeover courtesy of Love It! magazine. Lee Stafford will be doing my  hair, much to my mum’s annoyance (she loves him and has been trying to get an invite ever since I announced this little trip a  couple of weeks ago). I was until about 2 hours ago, extremely excited about this jaunt but now that I have almost reached London, panic has started to set in.

I have started to think about what might actually happen. Given the time constraints of travelling to and from the North I don’t think that there will be time to colour my hair so I now I have this sneaky suspicion that in order to make my before and after shots look ‘different’ that I may end up with some kind of Emma Watson style ‘pixie’ cut. Don’t get me wrong, I am really really looking forward to this afternoon but what if I don’t like the clothes or even worse…I don’t like my hair!?

We’ve been here before don’t forget, Prima mag made me and my mum look like Phyllis and Rita off of Coronation Street a while back so I know that these things can end up not as expected. I’m not complaining – it’ll be really nice to be pampered – but I always get a bit like this whenever I’m going to get my hair done. I’m sure cheeky chappy, Lee Stafford will put me at ease though. I think I’ll shut up now but for those of you that don’t know me, here’s my ‘before’ shot. I’ll see you later with the final result. Eeeeek!
This pic is from 2 weeks ago by the way - well you didn't think \I was going to take a picture of myself on the train did you?!

Review: Sleepyhead

A couple of months ago I was at my wits end, Little E just wasn't sleeping well on a regular mattress. During the day I would let her fall asleep on a pillow but I was conscious that I couldn't let her lie on a pillow at night because of the risks of suffocation. I scoured the Internet and eventually came across the Sleepyhead pillow. So impressed by it's claims and feeling that it would be the perfect solution to our problems I did emailed Sleepyhead to find out more and to ask if they would be willing to let me review this product here on the blog.

I soon received an email back from Lisa Furuland, the designer of the Sleepyhead, and although she was concerned that at 20 weeks Little E might not be the biggest fan of changing her sleeping location, she agreed to let me have one for trial. Less than a week later the Sleepyhead arrived and Little E has been a big fan ever since...

Little E meets Sleepyhead - DAY 1

Obviously Little E is now 6 months old but ideally you would want to use the Sleepyhead from birth....luckily Little E took to it straight away. Day or night, home or away, Little E always sleeps in the comfort of her Sleepyhead.It's great if you travel a lot because it's light enough to take with you and it comes in a zip case so you can keep it nice and clean. Whether you're heading to Grandma's house or even on your holidays you can be safe in the knowledge that your baby won't be disturbed by unfamiliar surroundings because she'll be sleeping in her Sleepyhead.

The great thing is - not only can it be used as a baby bed - it's also ideal for
tummy time play too. You just put baby on the Sleepyhead with the rounded bumper under your baby’s chest and armpits with her arms in front and you're ready to go!

The Verdict...

I'm so upset that I have only just found the magical Sleepyhead! It would have been ideal for both Mister A and Little E from birth. Unfortunately I only discovered Sleepyhead when Little E was 20 weeks old but she absolutely loves it and it fits perfectly in to her swinging crib. We are just about to move her in to her 'big cot' but the Sleepyhead will be moving with her so we know that there won't be any problems. I can not recommend this highly enough - in fact I love it so much that I may even start a campaign for some UK suppliers to stock the Sleepyhead.

About the Sleepyhead...
Versatility and quality are other keywords when it comes to the Sleepyhead®. As parents, we’re swamped with accessories and gadgets, all claiming to be the solution to a potential problem of ours. However, most of these are normally the solution to one problem only. Versatility and quality equals sustainability and longevity, and the Sleepyhead® is truly multifunctional. It’s equally great for sleeping, resting and waking, as it can be used as a play pod as well as a tummy time aid. Supervised tummy time is essential from day one. The benefits of tummy time are many and crucial: the baby’s development of motor control and planning, sensory integration, environmental awareness, and postural strength. But far from all babies enjoy tummy time. Many babies seem miserable in this position and may cry or even refuse to lift up their head.
Parents find that giving their baby a new perspective - by propping him on a Sleepyhead® - makes all the difference. Simply place him with the rounded bumper under his chest and arms with his arms in front of it. This position also allows for play!
The Sleepyhead® is also perfect when co-sleeping. Co-sleeping is by certain experts said to promote higher self-esteem, confidence, sensitivity and fosters an environment of acceptance. The child also benefits from the calming effect on breathing and heart function of lying next to its mother, which is why some experts claim that co-sleeping reduces the risk of cot death, also known as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
The Sleepyhead® and its protective sides facilitate correct physiological back positioning whilst preventing the baby from rolling out of bed, hitting his head against the headboard, getting caught between the bed and the wall, or wriggling down under the covers.The sides also prevent the parents from rolling on top of the baby. Yet, the sides are comfy enough for the parent to have his/her arm over the side to pat and reassure.
The firm Sleepyhead mattress reduces the risk of suffocation, unlike soft adult mattresses. Placement at adult head level reduces overheating from adult bedding and body heat. Most cots and cribs are not snug enough for the newborn. By slipping the Sleepyhead® in as an insert, the baby sleeps snug and safe. And when it’s time to move from the parents’ bed or the bassinet to a big cot, the transition is easy with the Sleepyhead as you bring it along. Again, a familiar surrounding for the baby, with a smell and feel he recognizes.
And when bringing the Sleepyhead with you on trips, you do not have to worry about the condition of the cots and mattresses provided by the hotel.

Lastly, the climate in the world is important, but equally important is the micro climate surrounding your baby. A lot of research has been put into selecting the optimal breathable materials for babies. The Sleepyhead® has anti-dustmite, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, whilst being machine washable.

The Sleepyhead is not yet available in the UK but you can order it direct from the manufacturer. To find out more information or to purchase the amazing Sleepyhead for yourself you can visit the Sleepyhead website or join the Sleepyhead Facebook page.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

How many cows there are in a glass of milk?

The latest of Mister A's funnies...

Mister A: Mummy, do you know how many cows there are in a glass of milk?
Me: How many do you think there are Mister A?
Mister A: Erm... 122?
Me: No Alex, there aren't any cows in milk...the cows make the know that. You don't actually drink the cows do you? (this was meant as a retorical question)
Mister A: Er, you do Mummy, there are tiny cows in my glass of milk.
Me: Really? Well how did they get in there?
Mister A: Well, they shrunk and hid under the milk and then jumped in and splashed.
Me: Oh right, well what were they doing in the milk?
Mister A looks around the room before whispering: They were hiding in there until you weren't looking and then they were going to jump out and eat your phone.
Me: Oh no
Mister A: Don't be sad though - they tried to eat my Ben 10 colouring paper too but they didn't.
Me: Where are they now then?
Mister A: In my tummy, I drank them to stop them eating everything and guess what - they had eyes in the bottom of their legs.

Eeeek scary stuff!! Looks like we were saved just in the nick of time from those mobile phone eating cows! Loving the imagination though!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Review: Angelcare Nappy Disposal System

We were recently sent the AngelCare Nappy Disposal System to review. I was a bit reluctant at first because we had, had a similar bin when Alex was born but it took 2 hands to use it properly and was not very easy to use.

Set Up

The bin came in 3 parts - the top, the bottom and the blue 'cassette'. The top and bottom clipped together easily and you just peel the top of the cassette, slip it in to the bin and then tie a knot in the plastic ready for use. That's it - your ready to go.

The Trial
As I said - I wasn't expecting much after the bad experience I had first time round but I was pleasantly surprised with this particular bin because it so easy to use. You just lift the lid and push the dirty nappy in. There's a special 'push & lock' system that keeps the smells locked in. The best bit for me is that you only need one hand to use it - there's no silly twisting required.

Once the bin has a few nappies in and you are ready to move them to the outdoor bin you just open the middle section of the system and pull the bag through. There's a built in safety cutter to cut through the plastic, then you just tie a knot in the end of the bag. Simples!

The Verdict
I use mine everyday and it works a treat. It's certainly made my life easier and therefore I can highly recommend!

The Angelcare Nappy Disposal System is available at for only £8.99.

Review: PlayMais

Playmais is a natural children's craft material which is 100% biodegradable and which does not impose a burden on the environment. It is made from maize, semolina and water, and dyed with natural food colouring. Mister A has been begging me to let him play with these for a few weeks but with going back to work and having Little E in hospital we had to delay. I think my little man was enticed by the colours!

The way the Playmais works are they come with a small piece of orange material that you wet and then wring out. Your then use the moistness of the material to wet the Playmais to stick the pieces together. On the first attempt I may have used a little too much water and the small red piece that I had in my hand began to frazzle from the sheer amount of fluid that I had drowned it in! Mister A seemed a lot more competent and was soon well on his way...

The little pieces didn't make too much of a mess (unless they got too wet) and they did leave a little residue of dye on our fingers and felt a little sticky but it was great fun playing and building with them.

I had thought that perhaps they were a little too old for Mister A but he loved them. They were quite fidgety to begin with but once we knew what we were doing we had lots of giggles building different things - I made a tree but it wasn't my best piece of artwork so I'm refusing to share! Here's Mister A's car though...

It's car! I think it's really good, what about you? These things could certainly keep him entertained for a good few hours on a rainy day and it's great that there's no glue involved! We just used a table mat and other than a quick wipe of that and a wash of the hands we were all cleared up in no time. Great fun, good for the environment and a good price too. Worth a try if you have crafty little ones!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Does My Baby Have Meningitis? Our Worst Week

This time last week I was preparing for a second night in hospital with Little E. You may have noticed I haven't been around much. We had an absolute nightmare of a week last week with our poor little baby. After she had her first trial day at the nursery over 2 weeks ago, Little E had suffered with a gunky eye which I had assumed was conjunctivitis.

I took her to the GP the very next day and he took a look, he said it was fine and nothing to worry about so we left without treatment. A couple of days later she developed a cough and was struggling to sleep because of her blocked nose so I took her to the Health Centre - just for peace of mind. He just said it was viral and we should just treat her with Calpol and Ibuprofen. She remained the same for over a week and I returned to work last Monday. She was well in herself, just bunged up. On Tuesday however, whilst I was at work I was told that she had slept for most of the day and when I got her home she was not herself at all. Here's how it all unfolded...


It's 8.00pm and Little E has been really sleepy today. She's been snuffly for a couple of weeks and she's had runny eyes but the GP had told us it was just a virus and nothing to worry about. Since I got back from work though she's been drowsy, I can wake her but she's not herself and she goes straight off to sleep. I go online at consult NHS Direct and submit a form filling out Little E's details including her date of birth and a nurse calls me back 5 minutes later. She asks lots of questions - does she have a rash? are her lips blue? and then she says she will have a doctor call me back. 5 minutes later our local out of hours GP calls me and he suggests I bring her to the Health Centre in 20 minutes. Mister A is in bed so Chris stays home with him and I call my mum to ask her to come with me.

8.40pm We arrive at the health centre and the GP calls us straight through. He asks me to undress Little E and after examining her says he 'doesn't like the look of her' and wants to send her to paediatrics immediately. I start to panic - our local doctors usually just send you off with a tissue so I fear that there is something seriously wrong. She's now developed a rash on her tummy but it does  disappear when touched. The health centre is based at the local hospital so we get sent round to Children's A&E. We are greeted by a nurse who asks me to undress Little E fully so that she can be weighed. She's 15lb 5oz she whimpers as I re-dress her and begins to cough. Her temperature is over 40 degrees. We are asked to return to the busy waiting room where other sick and injured children sit patiently.

9.30pm Little E's name is called and we are not taken to the usual cubicles, instead we are taken straight through to an assessment ward. We sit there waiting and we are asked to collect a urine sample. After taking her nappy off we have to hold the sample pot underneath her - nothing will make her go - we tickle her, blow on her tummy, try to make her giggle... no wee. Eventually after over an hour I decide to 'fashion' a nappy out of some paper towels and she immediately wees all over my hand. It was the first time I had laughed since I arrived home and I feel guilty for making light of a terrible situation.The sample is then taken off for testing.

10.45pm We see an F2 who examines Little E. She suspects it's something viral but bleeps the Senior paediatrician for his opinion. When he arrives at around 11.30pm, he examines her and says that the assessment ward closes at midnight. He's not sure what is wrong with her but as she is having trouble maintaining her own temperature he decides to admit her. He sees that I'm worried and tries to put my mind at ease - "Don't worry, if you had brought her in earlier then she would have been able to go home - we just need to monitor her for a bit longer so it's just easier to admit her and check on her through the night." I feel better knowing that it's just a precautionary measure.


12.30am My Dad arrives to take my mum home and brings 'supplies' - in the panic though he picks up size 1 nappies! Bless him. I open up the fold up bed but I know I won't be getting much sleep - Little E is really clingy now and won't settle.

1.00am The nurse comes to check her obs and warns me that the doctor is on her way in to take some bloods. When the doctor arrives I have just managed to settle Little E but that all goes out the window once they use one of those punch things to prick her heel and start to squeeze 2 vials of blood out of her.

I spend the next couple of hours trying to get Little E off to sleep, she won't settle so the nurse brings a massive old Silver Cross coach built pram and I try to rock her to sleep in that. Every time I think she's in a deep sleep she wakes when I try and climb in to my bed.

3.50am I manage about 10 minutes sleep before the 2 doctors and a nurse burst in to the room.and turn the lights on. I can hardly focus on what's being said as my eyes try to re-adjust under the fluorescent lighting. "We need to do a lumbar puncture immediately and get a canular in her now." They explain that the blood results have come back and they are showing bacteria in Little E's bloodstream which could mean she has meningitis. They recommend that I wait in the room whilst they do the procedure as usually parents find it too distressing to watch. In the panic I agree and soon I am sat alone  with tears streaming down my face. I try to call Chris but he must be in a deep sleep so I call my mum.which makes me worse. I haven't even asked if there could be complications. The clock slowly ticks over and I can hear my baby screaming down the corridor.

4.20am Little E is brought back to the room with her arm bandaged. The canular is in and she's had her first dose of IV antibiotics but because she is so upset they ask me to try and settle her before they do the lumbar puncture. Nothing will calm her down and even when I try to breastfeed she only wants to cry. Eventually she calms down, only to be whisked away again to have the fluid taken from her spine. I try Chris again and this time he answers, he sobs as I tell him what's going on. We are both scared and fear the worst, although we know that she is in good hands.

4.45am My baby is finally returned to me, the lumbar puncture has been done but she's been screaming so much that her little voice has started to break. The nurse says I have to keep her flat for the next 5 hours otherwise Little E will suffer from an awful headache. How are you supposed to calm a baby down if you have to keep them flat? I'm allowed to hold her in my arms but I can't rock her like I normally would. and she still wont settle. I have now gone 23 hours without sleep and I can feel my own body starting to shut down. As I try to soothe my daughter I start to feel dizzy and fall back on to the bed. I buzz the nurse. She insists on taking Little E out of the room in the pram so that I can rest. I feel so guilty but I know I need to sleep to be strong for my baby.

The nurse brings Little E back to me, she's managed some sleep too but she's hungry now. I lie her next to me on the fold up bed and feed her. After half an hour she finally drifts off in to a deep sleep and I move her in to her bed before closing my own eyes and drifting off.

9.30am We are awoken by the doctors returning to the room. I'm still dizzy from lack of sleep and having slept in my contact lenses I can hardly see. They explain that the results of the lumbar puncture have come back and Little E does not have Meningitis. I feel like a weight has been lifted, I'm so relieved. The doctors explain that they are still unclear about what is causing Little E to be so ill and they are now growing cultures on the spinal fluid, the blood and eye swabs to see what grows. In the meantime they will continue to pump the IV antibiotics in to her to try and cure whatever it is that's wrong. I call everyone to let them know but then start to wonder what exactly is happening to my baby maybe the chest X-Ray will tell us more.

12.30pm We head to the X-Ray department for Little E's chest X-Ray where we have a 40 minute wait before we are called in. I have to put on a massive heavy pinafore to keep me safe whilst I hold Little E still. She's still not herself and she cries as I hold her in place.

2.00pm Little E is still unable to control her own temperature. She remains only in her nappy and is given Calpol and Ibuprofen alternately every few hours. Her nose is still streaming and she keeps wiping her nose on the bandages on her arm that cover her canular. She's tugging at her arm too.

5.00pm Finally Little E smiles and I start to relax - she seems a lot more settled now the antibiotics have started to kick in. We have visits from Mister A and Daddy and Grandma and Grandad and the play lady comes in with some bits to keep us entertained. The chest X-Ray has also come back clear so the doctors still don't know what's going on. We prepare for our second night in hospital.


5.00am The nurse comes in with her torch to administered another dose of antibiotics. Little E has been up and down through the night and I have had to feed her at least 5 times. Her nose is still blocked so she can't take a full feed.

9.00am Another nurse and more antibiotics. When this nurse checks the canular though - it's not good news - Little E has somehow managed to pull the canular completely out of her arm. Luckily it was noticed straight away or it could have bled out. We are now faced with another canular insertion and I decide that this time I will go with her.

12.00pm We've been waiting for hours for the doctors to come and collect us. I'd rather get it out of the way and get the antibiotics back in to her as soon as possible. Eventually they arrive and we are lead in to a side room where 2 doctors, 3 nurses and a play member are waiting. I lie her down on the bed and she seems content until they start gripping her wrist. They struggle to find her veins. They can't put it back in the left hand so they try her right. I watch as the needle goes in to her hand and she screams in pain but then the doctor says it's not in her vein and takes it straight back out. He struggles to locate a new site and then decides on her left foot - the same foot that they took blood from on our first night.  Eventually it's complete and I cuddle her in my arms to settle her. Her leg is now in a splint to stop this one from coming out and it's bandaged quite heavily.

5.00pm I start to get grumpy because  I've not been eating properly - the canteen sandwiches leave a lot to be desired - and I force my mum to bring me in a McDonalds when the nurse confirms we are staying another night. Luckily Little E seems a lot brighter. We're told the culture results should be back in the morning and depending on the outcome I can take my baby home. It will be nice to get things back to normal. The past few days have seemed unreal.

10.00pm The Doctor comes to reveal the results. The cultures were clear. I feel guilty now for allowing the lumbar puncture when it was un-necessary but I know it had to be done. They explain that it was probably a combination of septic tonsillitis, flu and an eye infection (all missed by the first doctors at our surgery). The infections took over her body and caused the massive rise in temperature. We will be allowed to go home later today.

3.00pm We are finally discharged with oral antibiotics and eye drops. Little E looks so much better already and the doctors have told me to send her to nursery to get her back in to her normal routine. I'm so glad the nightmare is over and we are excited to be home again with the boys.

It's been over a week now and Little E still can't shake her snuffles but she's a million times better and she's happy. The nightmare week has gone but won't ever be forgotten and I hope that we never ever have to go through anything like that ever again.
For more information on Meningitis please see the NHS website.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Little E's First Day At Nursery

 When I left Little E for her first full day at nursery this morning I also left my camera with them so they could take a couple of pics to document her day....

Bless her, she looks like she had lots of fun. x

Back To Work After Baby

As you read this I'll be sat at my new desk at work. I'll have been up since 6.00am to ensure that I can be showered and dressed before I wake the children. I'd laid their clothes out ready to avoid the usual 'why are there only odd socks?' panic. The baby bag is packed, the bottles sterilised and ready to go.

The nursery opens at 8.00am so I'll have left at 7.40 to make sure I get there as the door opens - otherwise I won't make it to work on time through the heavy traffic. I'll probably have shed a tear as I left through the big heavy door of the nursery as I embarked on my first journey to work since Little E was born.

It's only been 6 months but it feels like a lifetime since I was sat at my computer all day. Saying that though, it doesn't feel like I've actually been off for six months either - my mind must be playing tricks again. The time has passed far too quickly, I only wish that I could have taken a full year out but we're just not in a position to do that.

So I'm back to work, already, it's all gone too fast. I'm having to start a new job too so I'm going to be like the new girl at school. It's 10 o'clock now so I'm probably still struggling to connect to the network - that's if I've even managed to login. The day will be a blur . I know that my heart will be breaking thinking about my babies at the nursery but I'll cope, of course I will... I'm a mum and that's just what mums do... but it doesn't stop the sadness that I'm feeling inside.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

And the Blogerversary Winners Are....

Frontcover Wide Eyed Set
Email subscriber winner: Dessiree Brown

Disney Sing It Family Hits Game

Facebook 'liker' winner: April Daley

A Rachel's Farm Cooler Bag Filled with Goodies
Google Friend Connect winner: Yvonne Brownsea

and finally....

5 x Schwarzkopf OSiS Shine Dusters

The 5 Twitter Winners: 

Email with your details and arrange to have your goodies sent out.

Thank you to everyone for supporting me over the past year!

The One Where We Found Our Old Toys! (If you're an 80's child you may recognise a few of these!)

Whilst searching the loft at Mum & Dads house for Mister A's baby bouncer I came across a bag of old toys..and when I say old I mean 1980s toys from when me and my brother were growing up! For the sake of nostalgia I thought I'd share...

Fisher Price Turtle

Fisher Price Bath Toy

Fisher Price Roly Poly Chime Ball

Fisher Price Band Set

Fisher Price Chatter Telephone

and my favourites....

Roland Rat, Errol and Kevin!

What was your favourite toy when you were growing up?