Thursday, 22 October 2015

Our Adventures with a Recycled Tuff Tray

I love this Tuff Tray. Like, properly love. It saved my poor, abused carpet from more spills. It kept my crazy toddler's mess contained. Plus, it's made out of recycled plastic. SWOON.

We used it near-enough constantly. Indy is getting to the fiercely independent stage of wanting to feed himself. With the tray, no problem! Any spills were easily wipe-uppable, and no damage to my carpet.

Finger painting had always terrified me. We attempted it a couple of times on our dining room table, but things invariably got covered in the thick, staining goop. I was more than happy to strip Indy off and let him prod and poke the paint to his hearts content. I was able to just peeeeel it off the tray when it was dry. Obviously, after this activity, Indy himself was covered. I contemplated trying to take him upstairs and to stand perfectly still in the bathroom while I ran a bath, but realised that was silly talk. Find me a toddler who can stand still while covered in muck. (tip, you can't.) A flannel just wouldn't cut it, a baby wipe wouldn't cut it, visions of looping the hose into the house did flash across my mind (albeit very briefly) and then I had a flash of genius. Our old washing up bowl! It would fit into the tray, it would get him clean, he could play with the water and it would be fine! So, voila. A mini bath/water play.
Butter. Wouldn't. Melt.

I looked around for more ideas on what I could do with this magical tray. Then my mind flashed back to the kinetic play sand I had picked up at the pound shop. Indy had the HappyLands zoo set, and I thought it would be a great activity, to have the animals trampling in sand, mark making. I set up the blue and the stone coloured sand, and let him have at it. No sand got smooshed into my carpet, and it was so easy to put it all away afterwards!

In short, I really really recommend getting a tray. We used it in the garden when the grass was damp, we used it in the kitchen, we used it everywhere. It's perfect for when little hands get the colouring bug but can't quite stay on the pages. It's ideal for Play Doh and other slightly mucky activities. And snack times are super easy when you've got a lipped container for your child. Ha! The tray can be found here. Go get one!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Cloth Sanitary Pads and the Media!

Today I stumbled across a wonderful news article regarding CSP, and from a mainstream newspaper no less! The Telegraph published this article today, and I think it's fantastic. I use resuable menstrual products myself, and I have done since I had Indy. Once the CSP bug really 'bit' I started making my own, preferring to add as many absorbant layers as I felt comfortable with, tinkering with the length til I felt confident, altering the snaps til I felt my CSP didn't budge when I walked. I now use a ready-made pattern, as I finally found one commercially available that I loved. I now sell the CSP that I make, finding great pride in spreading the reusable joy. (In case you wanted to find where to buy them, my page is Silly Panda Nappy Co.

I agree with the article, I too find them to be far more comfortable than the great wodges of sweaty, crinkly plastic I used to stick to my knickers. Gone are the embarrassing rustles in the public toilets, the tell-tale clank of the sanitary pad bin. Hello to soft, dry, pretty periods, with sleek designs and reassuring sturdy poppers. I almost get the urge to show them off at every opportunity. Almost. Instead I spend hours in my sewing room, Indy playing nicely (hahaha) in his bedroom next to me, whipping up another batch of pretty pads, occasionally stopping to cackle or stroke them or just bask in all the lovely fanny fluff.

So whether you're a cloth veteran, or simply intrigued by the notion, I honestly urge you to buy a couple, maybe a few different lengths and absorbancies, and to just treat yo' self. Honestly, your vajayjay will thank you.

Monday, 21 September 2015

The Ultimate Guide to Green Parenting - Zion Lights. A review!

When I was offered the chance to read The Ultimate Guide to Green Parenting, I jumped at the chance. Green parenting is what I aim for, it keeps me grounded and sane, and makes me feel like I'm really making a difference, to both my son and the environment. This book lived up to my expectations and then some. It was lovely for me to finally read a parenting book that focuses on the bigger picture, not just sleeping patterns and eating, but on impact both emotionally and environmentally. To have a parenting book that considers the World, not just your house to me feels pretty rare. I felt accepted and inspired, and I'm sure it will have this affect on others.

The book has several chapters each with a different focus on various aspects of parenting. There are sections on the science behind green parenting, diet and nutrition, vaccines, and nappies, to name just a few. Each chapter is split up into easy to manage sections, all scientifically backed up, and links and references are at the end of each one. The end of each chapter also features a really handy summary of what was just written about, which is brilliant for refreshing your memory or if you're short on time.

The book is written simply, with a friendly reassuring tone. You're not made to feel uncomfortable if you're not doing everything suggested, unlike other parenting books that can make you feel like 'you're doing it wrong'. For me this is a real winner, nobody likes to be patronised or spoken down to especially during what can be considered as the most vulnerable time of your life.

I'd definitely recommend buying this book, for yourself and for any expectant friends. A clearly written, scientifically backed up, eco-friendly way of parenting condensed down into a wonderful book.

The Ultimate Guide to Green Parenting is available to buy on Amazon

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Mini Masterminds

And we’re back! Sorry about the absence, life got in the way (it does that sometimes).
So, what’s happened since we’ve been gone? I swear Indy has grown like a foot taller, he is looking huge and so grown up. The tantrums are also getting impressive; we’re getting a lot of screaming into the floor and growls. He’s been upgraded to a bigger bedroom now as well. Partially because his toys were beginning to take over the living room, and partially because we felt it was time he had a proper space to call his own.

We’ve popped into our favourite bookshop a couple of times in the last few weeks, Books & Pontyclun. Most recently we picked up a DVD called ‘Mini Masterminds – Animals’, because at the moment Indy is obsessed with farm yards and the things that live there. We didn’t know what to expect from the DVD, but it was reasonably priced. Back home, we popped it on and we were pleasantly surprised. It features a backing track of Mozart pieces, made a bit more child friendly and lullaby-like, and a soothing montage of animal pictures and videos. Mozart is renowned for aiding concentration and encourages well-balanced behavioral patterns. We found it ideal to have on in the background whilst Indy was playing. It’s not at all obtrusive or distracting, so Indy isn’t gawping open mouthed at the screen.
It’s something nice and relaxing to have on the television, another bonus if it’s naptime. All in all I’d say it was a worthwhile purchase, and it’s one that Indy keeps picking up  and asking to watch.

I plan to take Indy to a real-life farm soon, we had planned to go in half term but the weather simply wasn’t on our side. Nothing beats experiencing the sounds and smells of a real farm yard!

Next blog post I’ll be reviewing a potty training book I received, how exciting!

Friday, 15 May 2015

An Awfully Long Break!

Thank you to my brother-in-law for this picture!
Sorry for radio silence, we went and got married.... :D it was such an incredible day, with everyone we wanted in attendance. It was filled with food and music and general loveliness, and was so relaxed and low-key. It was perfect.

So, what have we been up to since? Lots! Indy has had his first trip to the beach, it was a spontaneous trip which is always the best type of trip.

We're very lucky to have Barry Island a 20 minute drive away. I have lots of fond memories of playing on the beach as a child, and I'm so happy I can do the same with Indy. I was on the hunt for lovely big shells and pebbles to take home, but there weren't any. Indy wasn't phased though, and had a whale of a time collecting little pebbles, throwing them, then running after them to pick them up again.

Next time we go, we'll take a kite. Indy loves the rainbow kite in Sarah & Duck so I'd love to see his face if we were able to fly one.

As expected, Indy fell in love with the seaside. He picked up shells and pebbles, prodded seaweed, wrote in the sand, and splashed in the sea. He was devastated when we had to leave to get fish and chips. It's a hard life!

During our time off, we visited Caerphilly Castle. What a place! The views are spectacular, but be warned, the stairs are very narrow and can be slippy as a lot of it is open air. Luckily, Nanna came with us and kept an eye on Indy, so we were able to have a wander and take Indy to the more baby-safe areas. He met some ducks and geese and tried to get a bit too friendly with them!

 The information provided at Caerphilly Castle is done in a really lovely and accessible way. There's a video playing in one of the rooms, projected in the round with full surround sound, which really adds to the drama behind the history of the castle.

We would definitely recommend a visit to Caerphilly Castle. The prices are really reasonable, and the gift shop is normal gift shop prices.

What have you been up to? Let me know, I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Rainbow Rice is Ever So Nice!

We made some rainbow rice! Doesn't it look pretty? This is a really easy, straight-forward activity that engages sight, touch, and sound, plus it only costs a few pennies. I'm going to give a step-by-step with pictures to show you how to make your own edible rainbow rice.

This is all I used, some vinegar from the cupboard, some gel food colouring also from the cupboard, and a pack of value rice. Some people use liquid food colouring, some people use gel, there isn't a massive difference although liquid will make a slightly stronger colour. Vinegar acts as a thinner for the gel, and also helps the colour stick to the uncooked rice. Brown rice also works, but the colour will be a little duller (but it's super handy to use up the brown rice that has been lurking at the back of the cupboard for ever.)

I poured a good quantity of rice into a sandwich bag, I didn't measure, just estimated roughly on how much rice I'd like. Then I added the entire tube of food colouring as I wanted a nice vibrant colour. Then a few drops of vinegar were added, and then the mixing began. I rolled the bag between my hands, jiggled it, bounced it, you name it, I got that baby mixed. I lined a tray with cling film and poured each bag out onto it in a thin layer, then I left them to dry for 24 hours, being sure to mix them about every now and then.
picture from
Pretty! These colours weren't exactly what I had in mind, but I liked them just the same. I mixed a couple of the gels to get the lovely darker blue colour, something to bear in mind if you want to save some money on buying lots of different colours. Don't forget your colour mixing!

For ease of clean-up, I used the PVC mat that we got from Dunelm, and a cutlery tray from Ikea to keep the colours separate (for now!). I placed the tray inside our paddling pool, and let Indy have at it!
I placed a selection of child-sized utensils inside the pool (utensils from Ikea) and gave Indy minimal direction. I gave him a few ideas, such as scooping the rice with a pot, but let him explore the texture and the sounds himself. After he finished, I poured all the rice into a jar ready for next time. As the rice is still uncooked it lasts indefinitely, but I will replace it when it's past its best and has been played with several times. Instead of throwing the coloured rice away, I'll make a treasure bottle with it (a future blog post to come). If you try rainbow rice, be sure to show me a picture!

Monday, 27 April 2015

You would never guess it but...

I have a high needs toddler. Everyone who meets Indy comments on how happy, chatty, and smiley he is. When Indy is around other people he is happy to wander around, talk to people, play by himself, you name it. However, you be a fly on the wall when it's just me and the boy, and it's a completely different story.

Indy is my shadow. Indy clings onto me, onto my leg, onto my chest, onto my head. "Mama, mama, mama, please, mama, mama" is repeated, constantly. He still breastfeeds like a newborn, asking every  half hour, pulling on my top and smacking on my chest. I've started saying no, and we successfully night-weaned him using the Dr Jay Gordon method. I play with him, I reassure him, he gets lots of cuddles and kisses and 'I love yous' and is a very content little boy, he just seems to turn into a completely different child when it's just him and myself.

This is partly the reason why I started this blog. I wanted to show myself and others that I was interacting with him lots, and that we were playing together and his needs were being filled. In a way I feel guilty that he acts like this, Daddy has walked downstairs from work and seen how different Indy acts towards me and he has been shocked. I suffer from anxiety that leaves me fairly housebound, so going to baby and toddler groups has been difficult. I'm persuading myself to try a couple in the next few weeks, to partly relieve some of the pressure off me, and to let Indy be around other people. I know nobody there will believe me when I say I have a high needs toddler, watching my confident little boy strut around independently, making friends and playing, but I'm sure someone else there will know exactly what it's like.