Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Trick or Treat

I've learnt that once you have kids, ALL the holiday's get even MORE exciting than you originally thought they were.

I think maybe Halloween and Fireworks night are my second favourite excuse to buy themed stuff  holiday celebrations.

For those who don't know, Ali & I were quite the costume makers. I still stand by the fact you can pretty much gather together any costume with £10 in Primark. That's how I rolled at University anyway. Our sport, Ultimate Frisbee, usually involves weekend tournaments with a Saturday night party. This party often comes with a 'theme' and when we were younger (or at University still) we certainly went 'all out' with it. Our best was properly the transformers that actually transformed when we lay down, which we took home best costume from that tournament. So a lot of dress up times, but never normally for Halloween. I'm not sure if we were put off by the prices of Halloween entry in town, or if we just didn't fancy dressing up when everyone else did, but I don't think I'd ever been out for Halloween in town before. In fact, in the last 6 years, we've only celebrated Halloween twice with dress up, and that was both at house parties. 

This was 2009. Ali had been waiting for an opportunity to use his Powerisers as part of a costume and then came along Jack Skeleton. Of course, I was his Sally, after stitching together some material on to an old dress, we were sorted!

This year, I was excited to find out my work were holding a Halloween Party (my work hold pretty good parties!) and I would be going 'out out' in town to Vodka Revs. 

What better to go as than a zombie mummy?! (I properly didn't even need to put make-up on - thanks dark circles.) I'm not sure why I choose it, I think I thought it would be 'easy'. 

Note to self, bandages come in various sizes and human bodies are bigger than I think. (Mine especially, or maybe it was because I panic lied to the chemist that I was making a costume for a 10 year old, not my adult self.)

My original idea was to just layer the bandages on top of a black top and shirt, secure them and then I could just take them off and put them on just before the party.

Wrong again.

It turns out that it takes a lot of bandages and that unless you want to go full body show, it's hard to cover a shirt in bandages too. 

So in came the idea to use all those white muslins that my baby who never threw up, never used. At first, I thought I could wrap them around my clothes and then add bandages on top. Cue overheating.

I settled for having them in 'rags' on my skirt, using safety pins and staples to hold it all together. I then decided I would simply wrap my top half when I got ready to go to the party. I then used Ali's tubey sports bandages to add to my legs and arms for added effect.

On the night I was happy with how it all turned out. I felt the right temperature and they held up most of the way through the night. I had a couple of re-wraps for my top half, and some rags on my skirt fell apart but not off, so I call it a success.

I added a bit of make-up to the face, bandages to my hair and done! 

My manager won the fancy dress with her scarecrow costume! It was great! We all had a great night out celebrating all things spooky!

If your not a big follower of cool Instagram mums, then you may not have seen sonny angels before. Yes, they are strange and yes you can see their bits. They have little tiny wings on the back and their heads can come off. Most of the kids have them on little shelves in their rooms and their mums take super cool photos of them. (I'm fully aware I spend too much time dreaming of cool bedroom designs that I can never achieve, and trying to achieve Instagram living that is out of my reach) 

So Sonny Angels come in series, such as animals, cakes, halloween. The idea is that you don't know which one you are getting when you purchase one from a series (Unless you buy the full collection at the same time). They aren't kidding when they say you will get a random figure, these came in the same outside looking box, glued down, in a plain foil bag. 

I follow an amazing kids concept store on Instagram called Cissy wears. What I love about this store, it's actually based in the UK! I follow so many Australian and US based stores, that even if I wanted to purchase something, the costs involved are unrealistic. So when she posted up a image of the halloween Sonny angels and informed everyone that there was limited stock left, I thought now is the time to get my first one. 

I'm hooked! 

I never thought some crazy little figure would be so exciting to wait for. Maybe it's the mystery pack (a lot like the LEGO mini figure addition) or maybe it's the cute little outfits and heads they have, or maybe I just loving feeling like I own something the 'cool' Instagram mums have. LJ loves them! So it's totally worth it. He waves goodnight to them on his shelf and will be standing waving to them when I go to get him after a nap. They are great distraction toys for nappy changes and he will wonder around the house holding them. I may just have to collect them.

Remember earlier in the year, we attended a baby disco at our local dance house?

Well they hosted a Halloween one last weekend and we attended. It was so much fun!

I had purchased LJ's halloween outfit early in September, when I first saw them in the supermarkets. I went with a 'onesie' style outfit, because I knew it would be the last year he would fit in one. 

I later decided I wanted him to have a 'proper' Halloween costume and quickly bought this spider costume. It was size 1-2 years, but the trousers were no way going to fit him (too big!), so in the end he wore both outfits and I was satisfied with the fact he defiantly needed me to buy both.

Notice how he's eating in both photos? The only time we can get him to pause for 2 seconds for a camera shutter to go off and a chance at a blur free photo.

Isn't it strange to see baby/toddler's dressed in black? 

I'm in love with this photo, even though he looks full on toddler. I hadn't got my DSLR out for a while, so I tried to grab some photos of him in costume. I should have dressed him as Flash instead, it was hard work.

At the last disco, LJ was 8-9 months and we had to walk him around with bent over backs. We were looking forward to him being able to run off and dance this time round, although we hadn't thought for one moment that he might be unsure of a dark room filled with lights and pop music. Yep, we are discovering more and more 'fears' developing from his little toddler mind. So we near enough spent our whole time with bent over backs, holding his hand as we danced together. 

He warmed up to the situation a bit, it seems he takes 10-15 minutes now to adjust to a new place and to feel safe enough to leave our side. 

We had fun taking part in the dancing and little activities at the baby disco. A couple of my friends came too and we all had a little catch up in-between throwing some moves to Thriller and Shake it off! 

We even managed to catch this photo. Brogan and I are a year apart in age, our parent's were all best friends and we pretty much grew up like sisters. Our boys are now a year apart and we see each other regularly. I can't wait for them to have a great friendship and get up to all the funny games like we used too.

So the disco was a success, I enjoyed celebrating Halloween with LJ, as I knew I would be working and partying on actual Halloween. He's still too young to be interested in trick or treating, so we will reserve that tradition for when he's a bit older. 

I did treat him to some treats in the form of his favourite gingerbread men. We found this spooky guy and LJ nearly ate the whole thing! 

I received this e-mail from LEGO a few days earlier. When I saw you could download LEGO face templates for your pumpkins, we were ALL over it. 

I love a good pumpkin carving session, and I'm sure i've insisted that we buy one every year to do. Some how, we still aren't pro's at it. We change our tactics every year, but I have to say it turned out pretty on target, this year. 

People are really stepping up their game now, there isn't many 'traditional' pumpkin faces anymore. They are full on works of art, that I can only imagine leave people with crippled hands for days.

We settled on the surprised LEGO face (maybe because it looked more achievable!)

Like last year, LJ sat up on the table (minus Bumbo this year) to watch us get carving. We kept him occupied with his latest obsession, colouring. 

We did get him involved once the main knife cutting was out the way. Next year will be exciting because he'll be more involved and we'll properly be trying to recreate some Cars lightening McQueen. Which we'll know by heart because we will have watched it 100 more times in the last year. 

He was quite interested in seeing where it all came from, but like me, he wasn't so keen on the whole touching the goo from within.

I can't take any credit for the actual pumpkin carving. Ali did all the work while I tried to keep LJ occupied and out of the fish tank (a job some might say is harder than knife cutting through a thick pumpkin). 

We were all happy with the finished product. No one cried, got hurt or stormed off. We'll call that a success. 

LJ on the other hand, was not too keen on the pumpkin once it was glowing fire from within and had one of those LEGO faces that his parent's keep forcing upon him. This is about as close as we could get him, for all of one second.

He spent actual Halloween with Ali's mum and sister. We managed to trick him into standing next to the pumpkin again, although he soon realised, hence the blurred face. He had a fun day stomping through the park in matching skeleton tops with his Auntie Jade. Ali's mum had decorated the house with spooky decorations, there was a lot of 'wow's'. 

Our local park does a fireworks display every year, normally to music and with a 'theme'. This year it was spooky theme, as it was the 1st November and so close to Halloween. We were unsure what LJ would think of the fireworks. He spent his first year not phased by any loud noises or visual displays, but like I mentioned before, the fears are developing. Ali is a buggy hater in crowded places, so last year we took LJ in the baby Bjorn carrier and he seemed happy enough, so we needed something similar for this year and we weren't sure how it was going to 'go down' with LJ. Our kind neighbours gifted a second hand back-pack carrier earlier in the year (Their thank you card is still sitting waiting to be written and delivered - it's on the to-do's, that list I just keep adding too), so we thought we'd give that a try.

Cue toddler melt-down.

Luckily, we pre-empted this reaction and it happened in the living room and not a crowded place. I don't know what he was complaining about, sitting in a comfy chair on someone's back sounds like my kind of travel. We figured we would try again when we were at the park, and we had some kind of distraction going on. A bottle of milk helped us get him in the carrier and we were on our way, we stupidly thought we had won this battle.

We will never learn.

He lasted 10 minutes, enough to whip Ali with a glowstick like a horsey and 'wow' at some bonfires, grab a family selfie and then he was done.

So I carried attempted to carry him. 

If you've ever had the pleasure of trying to hold a conversation with me while I attempt to just stand and hold my child, then you will have experienced 'the battle'. He is like a wriggling worm that's just dived into a pack of Haribo and then realised he's late for the party of the year. It genuinely looks like he is overpowering me. 'Uncontainable' is the word and arm ache is the feeling.

After letting Ali's parent's have their share of trying to contain the monster, he finally settled down enough to let me hold him while we watched some fireworks.

Last year, LJ fell asleep while the firework display was on, you know when all the bright lights flashing and loud bangs. Well, he nearly did again this year, but mama didn't mind the cuddles.

Lucky for us, he wasn't scared of the fireworks and we all had a good evening. There is something magical about watching fireworks in the night sky, sounded by everyone else looking up in the same direction as you. At least this is what I said. Ali decided it was like Cloverfield and was already deciding on his escape plan. Yes, this is what I live with and why I crave the romance dream. He's lucky I love him for his craziness. 

LJ fell straight to sleep, still clutching his glow stick, that I pulled off his tiny grip once he had fallen asleep. Notice how many 'sleeping baby' photos I have? Yep, it's to remind me that he did. 

Talking of 'battles', we finally won against the teeth brushing battle. 

The answer?

Two brushes. 

Apparently if he has one, then he's quite happy to open his mouth for us to brush. 

Who knew?

Duh parents, it was that simple. 

He's a funny guy.

Remember how much I go on about loving the 'Timehop' app? 

I thought it would be funny to recreate some every so often. 

It's hard to hold a 16 month old on your hip with one arm. Especially when they can wriggle more. Of course, i'm hoping I'll have to take a visit home to dad's next year to re-create the photo. If not, then I might be crying in it, properly while my two year old is having a tantrum in the back-ground. #comeonhousefund

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Sassy Bloom Box

You may or may not have heard of baby gift box subscriptions. 

I didn't hear about them until after I'd had my baby and I was most likely being targeted by Facebook Marketing when various ones came up on my newsfeed. 

Sassy Bloom is one of the upcoming trends of baby gift box subscriptions. They recently celebrated their first anniversary and I was excited to finally get to experience a box and see how it differed from the Nonabox I tried out earlier in the year. 

My friend gave me the heads up of a great offer for first time subscribers to get their first box for £9 instead of the usual £29. The offer details can be found here and it's valid until the 7th December 2014. 

If you sign up, please help me out and put in my friend referral code of - 69375786 or follow my individual link here

The Sassy Bloom website was easy to use and bright and creative. It was very easy to create my account and input my baby's details in. The boxes are created based on your child's age and gender. You can subscribe to the boxes from your third trimester to when your child is two years old. 

The products all have a minimum RRP value of £40, so the box will always be worth the money you pay. I find it's a great way to discover brands and products that you might not have known about otherwise, or newer smaller companies entering the market. Big brand products are also included and a nice treat compared to what you might usually buy. 

You have lots of different options for signing up. Depending on if you want to try one out, or you are sure this is something you want to treat yourself to for a few months running, then you can choose the option to suit you. I think they are a great idea for a baby shower or a new mummy and the surprise factor will ensure you are getting them a different gift from everyone else who just bought an outfit in newborn size. 

The timings on when you get your box delivered depends on the age of the child. My box said estimated dispatch 15th November and I got it last week. I love surprises! Oh did I mention it's free delivery? So the price of your box is even better!

Here's LJ opening up the box...

I was impressed with the box and felt everything suited LJ's age group. 

The boxes have lovely outer boxes and come delivered in a good size cardboard box to protect them. Ideal if you are then giving them as a gift. This was how everything was when I opened it up. 

I love the little features of the envelope regarding your box and further details about how you can earn reward points towards future boxes. 

Everything fit nicely in the box and was wrapped and presented well. 

My favourite was maybe the musical TV as I had one when I was younger and it brought back memories of the early 90's. 

LJ let me wind up the tv and sat and watched the music play and pointed out the animals along the way. I like the little clock in the top corner, he had fun moving the hands round. 

After you receive your box, you can log on to your online account and view more information about the products you received in your box. It also allows you to give feedback on the products and again earn reward points. I think this feature is great, you are helping out Sassy Bloom by letting them know if the products were suited or not, in return, they give you reward points. 

The placemat was one of the first things that LJ pulled out.

We've just started to take the tray off LJ's high chair and use the chair up against the main table. This placemat will allow a good sized (wipeable!) base to provide good protection against food. I love that this mat has animals and letters, a toddler loves nothing more than 'finding' something that Mama asks them. 

The peek a boo house is one of the most practical toys we received in our box. It's small enough to take places with us, but also sturdy enough that it won't easily break if it falls out of the buggy.

Again this is something that I wouldn't have normally purchased as a toy, but that LJ has had a lot of fun playing with. He is at the age where things that open, close and are attached, fascinate him. We took it straight out in the buggy later on.

He fell asleep holding on to it. 

I would say this was LJ's favourite box item! 

I like that the Sassy Bloom item descriptions tell you how to use the products. It gives you other ideas that you might not have originally thought you could use the product for. 

The lunchbox was great! While we already have one similar to this, it's nice to have something new that you didn't have an excuse to go out and buy. (It also helps if you've been lazy and not washed the lunchbox from the previous day!) Munchkin was a brand I had heard of, but I had not seen the lunch boxes before. They have a cooling layer inside to help keep things fresh and a netted pocket to pop extra's in. (we store our bib and spoons here). 

The product that I thought was a brilliant idea, and had not seen before, were the behaviour cards.

As LJ approaches the one and half milestone, I'm becoming more aware of discipline and ensuring I am leading him on the way to good behaviour and will be reading up the various ways to go about this. These cards are a great visual way to show this to younger toddlers.

I'll be keeping these in my back-pack and trialling them out.

This was the only product that I thought didn't quite fit with the personalisation of the gender. I'm not overly bothered that it has flowers on, and I'm unaware if there were other design options, but it's a great product to have. We've used it (in our new lunchbox!) and it's a fun way to keep sandwiches fresh and lose items like biscuits sealed. 

It's also a product that will be able to be used for years to come. 

The total items in my box came to £40.43 value. I thought it was a great box and I had planned on having this as a one off treat, but I think I will trial a second box to see how SB continue the uniqueness of the products packaged. I have already learnt some reward points by giving feedback and uploading a video (You earn £5.00 of points for uploading a video of you opening your box!) so I think I can treat LJ to another fun filled box!

Overall I highly recommend Sassy Bloom! I wasn't disappointed with the box contents and thought they were very age appropriate to LJ. I would be interested to see what comes in the boxes for pregnancy and for younger babies. It would be something I'd try out next pregnancy! I think they are a great upcoming company and it's clear they put a lot of effort into their branding and social media as well as giving rewards back to their customers for helping.