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I have recently given birth to my second child. I am breastfeeding him and now that he is 6 weeks old, and we are starting to venture further from home, there is an increased chance of me needing to feed him in public. I breastfed my first son and in that time I invested in a nursing vest.
When breastfeeding at home, it doesn't really matter what I wear. I can just lift my top up as it doesn't matter how much flesh I expose. However this is less than ideal for when I feed my son in the presence of other people. I don't want people getting an eye-full of my breasts or post-baby wobbly tummy and I'm sure they don't want that either!
With my first son I tried using various shawls and pashminas to keep things covered. My main problem with them was that my son's face or head ended up being covered up by them and I worried about him overheating. Also, once he was a few months old he could grab the shawl and pull it off me leaving me rather exposed! It always became a bit of a juggling act and probably drew more attention to me.
I then saw these nursing vests in Mothercare and decided to give one a try. I bought one in white and this style is also available in black, grey or navy and white striped. The vests cost £15 but are currently on 3 for 2 special offer. This vest, like all nursing vests, has 2 layers. The top layer is a normal vest, the only difference is at the straps where it has a clip on each side, just like a nursing bra. This means you can unclip one side of the vest and pull it down slightly without having to take off or pull up the whole vest.
The second layer is like a crop top and it is underneath the main vest part. This layer has two little slits in so you can expose just the nipple foor feeding without having to expose the full breast. The bottom of the crop top layer is very elasticated and quite supportive. This means that if you chose you could wear it without a bra, although this depends on how much support you need. I do sometimes wear it at night instead when I'm feeling like I need a break from wearing a nursing bra constantly.
I hav found this vest to be very useful when breastfeeding as it helps me to be far more discreet. It also makes me less self conscious as I know people aren't able to see everything. It is very easy to unclip the top and I can do it quickly and easily with one hand whilst supporting my son with the other. I like that the vest is a long style as it covers my tummy well and I don't have to worry about it riding up. I would definitely recommend this vest as it has made breastfeeding in public so much simpler and less stressful.
During my first pregnancy I suffered with a painful backache, thankfully only for the last couple of months of pregnancy. The backache started again in my second pregnancy, but this time when I was only 4 months pregnant. I could not face 5 months of excruciating pain and barely being able to walk, so I asked my midwife for advice. She referred me to the physio and a week later I had my appointment.
The physio appointment was actually very useful. I was examined and then the physio explained all about the pelvic girdle and pelvic floor, including showing me diagrams and a nifty little model! In pregnancy, the pelvic girdle can relax too much, due to a hormone a pregnant woman's body creates. This, as well as the pressure from carrying the extra weight of baby, placenta and water, can cause considerable pain. The physio showed me some exercises and explained how to do supposedly simple things, like get into the car, without collapsing in agony. She also recommended I get a support belt so I went straight from hospital to Mothercare.
I found the maternity support belt in the underwear section of the maternity clothes. The belts cost £12. They are available in black or white and in 3 different sizes - small, medium or large. I bought the black belt as I wear far more black and dark clothing. The belt is 100% cotton which makes it nice and soft and unlikely to irritate your skin.
The support belt does up with clip fastenings, like you get on a bra. Also, just like a bra, the fastening is adjustable meaning that the belt can cater for a wider size range and, most importantly, the belt grew with my ever expanding tummy, meaning one size would be suitable for the whole pregnancy.
As soon as I tried the support on I could feel the difference. My bump instantly felt supported and it felt like it eased the pressure on my back. The belt is easy to put on, I simply fastened it in front and then spun it around. It is very comfortable to wear and the adjustable fastening means you have a good chance of getting a nice fit. The belt comes quite high up my bump which has the added benefit of keeping my tummy covered if my top rides up a bit. In the cold weather we've had recently, it also adds an extra bit of warmth!
I rcommend the support belts if you are experiencing pregnancy related backpain or SPD. It did make a big difference and I was a lot more comfortable. If you are in a lot of pain you should also see the physio as the exercises I was shown also really helped.
We bought this Octonauts Gup Mission toy for my son for Christmas, at his request. He saw it in Tesco and went on and on about it for at last a month. As he seemed se keen on it I decided to double up some of my clubcard vouchers and buy it for him. The toy cost £20 but only cost me £10 worth of vouchers. I think I would have ben a lot more reluctant to part with £20 cash as it doesn't seem worth it for this toy, and after seeing my son play with it I believe that even more.
This toy is from the Octonauts cartoon series about little creatures that go on undersea missions to rescue sea creatures in trouble. There are a few different Octonaut submarines and each one comes with a different Octonaut character and a few accessories. The one my son requested was the Gup Mission toy. It is a light blue submarine and comes with the Barnacles character as well as a little red fish, a plastic net and a grabber hook. The submarine has a clear plastic window at the front and this flips up to allow the character toy to sit inside. The main body of the sub also flips open so you can put characters into the main area too. It has a wind up part on the back and this is meant to propel it through the water. This means it doesn't require batteries, making it the ideal bathtime toy, or so I thought.
We first used this toy on Christmas night as my son couldn't wait to play with it. To start with he wanted to move it through the water himself, creating little scenes where the Octonaut had to rescue various other bath toys. Then he asked me to wind the submarine up. Winding it up is easy and I think my 4 year old could probably manage it himself if he could be bothered! However, when I put it into the water it was very disappointing. It never really moved forward more than a few centimeters and instead just floundered about a bit. Another problem we found is with the front window. It doesn't seem to close properly and this annoyed my son while he was playing with it. It looks as though it should clip closed but it doesn't catch correctly, so just pops open. This seemed to make it even harder for it to travel in the water. To be honest, the dodgy window makes the whole toy seem a bit cheap, which it certainly wasn't.
After a few attempts at getting this to work, my son got fed up with it and played with something else. He hasn't asked for this again at bathtime.
In conclusion, both my son and I have been rather disappointed with this submarine. It seemed a great idea and it would have been with a few improvements. Sadly though, it is now at the bottom of his toy box and hasn't been played with for over a month. He does play with the little character that came with the submarine but that is certainly not worth the £20 this toy cost.
Th submarine is available from Tesco, Amazon and, I would imagine, most other toy shops. It is suitable for ages 3+.
I have recently had my second baby. We haven't had to buy too much baby stuff second time around as we kept a lot from my first child. One thing we have had to buy was a bath thermometer as our previous one had vanished.
When in Mothercare I spotted this cute little blue parrot shaped bath thermometer. There wasn't a huge number of bath thermometers to choose from and I liked that this was a more interesting shape than the normal rectangular ones. All the thermometers were priced at around £4.99 but when I picked up the little blue parrot one I found it had a sale sticker on the back and was actually reduced to just 99p - bargain! that was the decider for me so I made my purchase.
* Using the bath thermometer*
Using the bath thermometer is very easy, you simply run the bath and pop the thermometer into the water. You do need to make sure you have mixed the bath water thoroughly or you won't get an accurate reading. You need to let the thermometer sit in the water for around 15 seconds before you read the temperature. Reading it is very easy as the temperature gauge is divided into three sections - blue, yellow and red. If the blue is highlighted then the water is too cold, if it's the red then it's too hot. The yellow tells you the water is just right for your baby. If the water is borderline between too temperature sections then both parts light up so you know you still need to adjust the water slightly.
The thermometer can stick to the side of the bath instead of sitting on the bottom.
I am pleased with this bath thermometer as it does what it is meant to. Having a newborn baby is scary enough without adding the worry of putting them in a bath that's too hot. This takes all the guess work out of bathtime which is a big relief.
It is useful that it can stick to the side of the bath as I can leave it in for the whole of bathtime without it getting in the way. This means I can see when the water is starting to get too cool for my baby.
I also like the cute design of this thermometer and I was especially pleased with the bargain sale price of 99p.
A year ago we bought my son the Tower of Doom castle from the Early Learning Centre. It has been a hugely popular toy and he plays with it most days. At the time we also got a few of the figure sets to go with it and since seeing how much the tower is played with, we have bought quite a few more toys in the range. One of the sets we bought is the Monsters of Darkness.
The Monsters of Darkness set of toys has been made specifically to go with the Tower of Doom, meaning that each figure is the ideal size for using with the tower. Also, just like the tower, the toys are very well made.
In the set you get 4 toys: 2 big monsters and 2 smaller warriors. The first monster is a large minotaur. The detail on the minotaur is excellent, and gives the minotaur the appearance of being hairy. He looks very fierce, with bright red eyes and a snarling mouth showing his teeth. Around his ankle is a broken shackle, suggesting the minotaur was a prisoner somewhere. I explained to my son what the shackle was and he uses it in his gameplay, often having the knights take the minotaur to the castle dungeons.
The minotaur is made of very solid plastic. His arms and legs are fixed and can't have their positions changed. This isn't a problem for my son and he's never complained about it. I think it is actually a bonus as it makes the toy stronger and less likely to break, as some of his poseable limb toys already have.
A word of caution - the minotaur is surprisingly heavy. A child can carry it asily but if dropped on a foot it could cause considerable pain.
Also in the set is a three-headed snake, which is my personal favourite. Just like the minotaur, the 3 headed snake is full of detail. It is bright red with black patches and the front of each snake is gold. Every scale is shown and again, the snakes look rather fierce as their mouths are open in a hiss, with their tongues out and teeth showing. Like the minotaur, the snake is made of hard plastic and is quite heavy.
The third toy in the set is a skeleton warrior. This is basically a skeleton figure wearing armour and holding a shield and sword. This figure is of the same high quality as the larger monsters and again it is very detailed. Because the skeleton warrior is smaller, he can fit into all areas of the castle which makes him an especially good addition to the set.
The final toy is another warrior, this time he is a big beefy looking man. He is dressed in armour and carries a big club. He is of similar size to the skeleton warrior so he can also be used in all areas of the castle.
I love these toys and more importantly, so does my son. We have had this set for over a year and they look as good as when we first bought them. My son plays with them a lot and regularly bashes them together. He also takes them in the bath a lot. Despite all that, no paint is chipped at all.
The toys are so well made and have such a lot of detail on them that they really inspire creative play. Whenever my son's friends or cousins visit, it is this set of toys that they all go to straight away.
The Monsters of Darkness set is available from the Early Learning Centre and costs £20. This may seem like a lot but I feel it is worth the price as you get 4 high quality toys.
I know I should look after my skin, but to be honest I haven't got the time to follow a proper skincare routine. In my younger days I had bottles of cleanser, toner and moisturiser and used them religiously every day. Now, with two young children and very little free time, I prefer something as quick and easy as possible. I have been using facial wipes for a few years and like how quick they are. I do tend to go for the cheap brands and was fairly happy with them before I tried these No.7 facial wipes.
I treated myself to these after getting a £5 No.7 voucher from Boots. As soon as I used them I realised how sub-standard my previous brand had been. The No.7 wipes are so soft on my skin, not at all scratchy like some other brands.
The pack of wipes costs £7 and you get approximately 30 wipes in each pack. The wipes are quite large and bigger than I need to clean my whole face and remove eye makeup. Because of that I tend to cut each wipe in half, effectively getting twice the number of wipes per pack. Half a wipe is still ample size for cleaning my face and makes the pack last twice as long, thereby being far more cost effective.
The pack has the usual sticky flap to reseal the wipes so they don't dry out. It also has a hard plastic lid which clicks closed and works much better at keeping the wipes moist than just the little resealable flap alone.
The wipes claim to cleanse, tone and moisturise making them ideal for pople wanting to look after their skin without wanting to spend a lot of tim or effort on it. Unlike many of the wipes I have tried, these actually do leave my skin feeling moisturised. I don't use an additional day moisturiser after using these wipes although I do use a night cream most nights.
Another thing that has impressed me with these wipes is how easily they remove waterproof mascara. In the past I hav had to almost scrub at my eyes to remove waterproof makeup, but just gntly wiping my eyes with these wipes is enough to do the job.
Because these wipes cleanse, tone, moisturise and remove eye makeup, they are ideal to take on holiday as they would save so much space in your luggage and mean you could avoid taking a variety of bottles and creams.
Since using these No.7 facial wipes, I don't feel I can switch back to the cheaper brands now that I know what I would be missing. They have truelly converted me. They ar a lot more expensive than many other wipes but to me the cost is more than justified as they are so much more effective. Additionally, Boots frequently run a promotion where you get a £5 No.7 voucher when you spend over £5 in store. I save these and use them to buy these wipes, making them cost me only £2.
My son started nursery school in September. One of the many activities the children can choose from is the art area. The school has a number of easels in each classroom, including the nursery, and the children are encouraged to draw and paint independently. If by the end of the week a child hasn't chosen to do a particular activity, the nursery teacher encourages them to try that area, so they are benefiting from a wide range of activities. For the first few months, my son had to be 'encouraged' to do anything related to art and would then complain about it at home. When I asked him why he didn't want to do it, he said it was because he wasn't good at it but everyone else was. This, of course, nearly broke my heart as I imagined him feeling sad about his perceived lack of abilities so I instantly resolved to help him. I should also add that he is no better or worse than any other 4 year old at drawing, however he seems to have very high expectations of what he should be able to do!
I decided that buying him an easel similar to the school ones would be a good start. He enjoys using my big whiteboard when he visits me at work, so I thought that one with a whiteboard side would be useful and importantly something that he would enjoy. I browsed a few different shops online and then found this double sided easel on the Argos site. It was priced at £29.99 which was around the same price as other similar products.
I was drawn to this easel because of the large whiteboard side and so I purchased it for my son's 4th birthday.
The easel comes in a very large box. It is not particularly heavy but it is very awkward to carry so worth bearing in mind if you are planing to buy one. Luckily we were able to park very close to the Argos store, however you definitely wouldn't want to be carrying this around town or having to use public transport with it.
Most of the easel is already assembled, you just have to slide the lower parts of the legs into the upper part of the legs and then slot the middle tray in place. My Dad offered to assemble it for me and listening to him grunt and moan, you would think it was the hardest task ever, however it didn't look that tricky to be honest! The legs needed quite a bit of force to slide them into place but it certainly wasn't more than a 5 minute job.
The easel is made of a strong durable plastic. One side is bright blue and the other side is a bright yellow colour which makes it eyecatching and appealing to children. The blue side has a big whiteboard and the yellow side has a blackboard. The whiteboard is also magnetic and you get a bag of colourful magnetic letters and numbers supplied with this product. Also supplied are a box of coloured chalks and some whiteboard pens. Both sides of the board have a big clip at the top which can be used to attach paper for drawing or painting. You also get a bright green tray that clips into place in the middle of the board. The tray is divided into three sections which are ideal for storing the chalks, pens and letters so that they are always handy.
The entire easel is 107cm in height and 57cm in width. It is advertised as suitable for children over 3 years of age. I would agree with this as I think children aged 3+ would get the most benefit from the product. However, other than the letters and pens, nothing about the board itself is unsuitable for younger children should you feel your child was ready for it.
I am so pleased I bought this easel for my son! It was absolutely his best birthday present, which is something he says and not just my opinion. I have found the quality of the easel to be excellent. It is very sturdy so even when my son is leaning on it as he draws, it never feels like it could fall over. Because the board is made of hard plastic it is very easy to wipe clean, something which is always important when you have young children! It is also a very good size and importantly, the drawing space available is very large which means my son can draw quite a few pictures (or a very big one!) before having to rub them out and start again.
I have one small criticism, and that is that the drywipe pens supplied with the easel are pretty rubbish. They barely worked and were very hard to see on the board. Luckily I had also bought some heavy duty whiteboard pens just in case and I would definitely recommend getting additional pens if purchasing this board.
I admit I was a little nervous about giving my son this easel after he had expressed such a dislike of drawing at school. However, as soon as he unwrapped it (yes, I did wrap it up and it took a LOT of paper!) he got so excited and wanted to draw on it straight away. The change in his attitude to drawing, as well as writing letters and numbers, has been amazing. He uses this easel every single day without fail and in just 2 months I can see his art work is really improving and he is gaining a lot of confidence, which hopefully will give him more confidence about doing art at school. On the very first day of using the board he drew his first stick man, something he had never done at home before. I think he must have been shown how to at school, as he even gave the little man some eyebrows and a belly button! Because of the board, his dad and I got to see his drawings for the first time really, as he had been so reluctant before. I, of course, spent the next week taking photos of every picture he drew on the board. I would recommend this as a nice way to save some of the work done on the easel. His first stick man picture was too precious to just be rubbed away, but obviously that is the point of a whiteboard, so instead I wrote the date on the board next to the picture and took a photo of it. Now I get my permanent keepsake and my son can still use his board!
My son's favourite way to use the easel is to draw on the whiteboard side, but there are many other ways to enjoy this board:
* The blackboard side is great for drawing too and we tend to use this side to attach paper using the big clip. My son can then use his crayons and stamper pens.
* Recently he has asked me to teach him how to write numbers using the whiteboard. I write a number then he tries to copy it. When we have tried this on paper he gets frustrated when he makes mistakes however if he makes a mistake on the whiteboard he can just rub it out and try again. I think this is the main appeal for him as he can instantly forget any that go wrong as they aren't there anymore. This is a big help for his confidence as he can be rather self-critical. He has also started writing letters and small words this way.
* I bought a set of early reading magnetic words and we have stuck a few of these onto the magnetic side. He then practices sounding the words out when he chooses.
* We use other magnet sets just for fun, we currntly have various Star Wars magnetic people dotted around the board.
* We leave messages for him to try and read, usually simple things like 'Hello my boy'.
* On Christmas Eve, Father Christmas left a message on the board!
My son has developed quite a Star Wars obsession over the last year, all thanks to his Dad. Last Christmas we bought him lots of different Star Wars figures, vehicles, dressing up outfits and one of these lightsabres. He also received a lightsabre from his grandparents. They were worried he wouldn't want it after they found out we had also got him one, but he was delighted he had 2 as we can now 'fight' properly!
We bought our lightsabre from Argos, paying around £8, but have seen them in other shops like Asda, Tesco and also online. The lightsabre is about 30cm long when not extended. When extended it is around 90cm long. On the base of the sabre is a little red switch that needs to be pushed down in order to flick the coloured part out. This is pretty easy to do. The handle also has a little clip so you can attach it to your belt or trousers.
The lightsabre comes in either blue, green or red. I am reliably informed that the red ones are for the 'baddies' who are the Sith Lords such as Darth Vader and Darth Maul. The Jedis have the blue and green sabres. If you're buying for a child with a particular favourite character it is worth checking which colour lightsabre they should have, to avoid disappointment. As it is, my little Jedi now has one of each!
This is the basic sabre so you don't get any lights or sound effects with this one but it also means it is one of the few toys that doesn't need batteries. The lack of sound and lights has not bothered my son at all, in fact I think he prefers it as he gets to make his own sound effects. There are more expensive lightsabres available and they do light up and make noises. We also have one of those but it is these basic ones that have proven to be my son's favourite.
The light sabre is made of plastic and feels sturdy. I was dubious that it would last very long, especially with all the duals my son and husband have. However, over a year later and all our light sabres are as good as new. They really have taken a lot of abuse and daily bashings into chairs, table legs etc, but they haven't even cracked. Knowing how roughly they have been treated, I must say I am very impressed with how well they are lasting.
My son (and husband) have had daily use out of these lightsabres. I was wary about buying my 3 year old what seems to be a weapon, but it has allowed him to engage in some lovely role-play. He loves to act out scenes from Star Wars and also create his own new stories. Of course, the main fun is still to battle with his Daddy, but even that has become quite skillful and they even choreograph some moves together like a real battle sequence. I have been surprised at how much play he gets out of these sabres, which are essentially colourful sticks!
At the end of last year my family and I finally moved house. It was a huge thing for us as our house had been on the market for 3 years and we were giving up hope. We were desperate to move into a particular village but the houses were so expensive. Then we chance upon what is now our home. Previously owned by a lady who had 'let it go', the state of it put off all other potential buyers, but happily for us, meant the price had been dropped significantly. We were able to look past all the work that needed doing and could see that it would be worth it in the end.
Before we even moved in, we knew our priority would be decorating our 3 year old son's room and making it as homely as possible for him. We knew there was going to be a lot of building work and disturbances in the house over the coming months and we wanted him to have his room as his little escape place. His room in our previous house had been decorated before he was born so this would be his first chance at having a say in what he wanted in his room. We explained to him that we were going to make his room nice and asked what he would like. I was a little worried when he said red walls, blue carpet and green curtains but thankfully he quickly changed his mind! After thinking about it for a few days, he decided he would really like animals on his wall. My son LOVES anything to do with animals so I knew he had made a sensible choice.
I began my quest for the perfect decorations but it was not as easy as I first thought. You would imagine an animal theme would be quite easy to find but almost all the wallpaper or borders I found were too babyish, like they were designed for a nursery. I wanted something that would last him more than a year before he grew out of it. I was beginning to think I may have to have a go at painting animals on his wall but I wasn't too sure how impressed he would be at my attempts at an elephant! With less than a week to go before the move, and with me already practising drawing elephants and other animals, my friend happened to mention something she had seen at her sister's house. She described it as a flowery mural and said it was a whole wall scene that was like wallpaper but made a big picture. She didn't know where she had got it, and had no idea if they did children's versions, but at least I had something to search for on the internet.
That night, after a very quick search on Google, I found exactly what I was looking for. I simply typed in 'wallpaper mural for kids' and up came around 30 designs from a range called Walltastic. The Walltastic range are wallpaper murals designed specifically for children's rooms. Straight away I spotted a jungle animal design, it was just what I wanted so I ordered it straight away. It was priced at £34.99 which I thought was a great price as it would cover the entire main wall in my son's new room. The murals measure 10 feet wide by 8 feet high. Instead of coming on a roll like wallpaper, the mural comes in 12 strips that make up a full scene.
*Putting up the mural*
My husband and I have never attempted wallpapering so I called on my Dad, an expert at wallpapering, to help out. After having a look at the mural, he got rather nervous. The main difference between this mural and regular wallpaper is that there is no room for error. With regular wallpaper you just have to line up the pattern if there is one. Even better if there is no pattern and you've just got to worry about getting the paper straight. However, this mural is made up of 12 separate pieces that all have a different piece of the final picture on. You put them together to make the big picture, kind of like a huge jigsaw. If a piece is put up even slightly too high or low, it could completely ruin the final picture. Added to that, if you place a piece incorrectly and then rip it when peeling it off, you can't just use another piece of wallpaper. You get one shot at putting this mural up so it has to be done carefully.
Having said that. after the initial nerves the mural turned out to be very simple to put up. The sheets don't come ready pasted, so you need to provide your own paste. We decided to start with sheet number 3, which would be one of the middle ones at the top, then to work outwards from there. That seemed the best way to get the mural central in the wall. The first one went up very easily, so all was going well. Then the tricky part started and we had to line up the second sheet perfectly. My expert Dad managed this much better than I ever could have and we found that there is room to move the paper slightly if you don't get it exactly where you want on the first go. My Dad continued papering the wall and actually found it much easier than first anticipated. The process is much slower than papering with normal wallpaper as you have to be so much more careful, but the process isn't that much harder.
Although I was pleased the mural went up so well, I was concerned with the initial appearance of it. There were A LOT of air bubbles under the paper, far more than I have ever seen with normal paper. To be honest I was very worried that the bubbles would stay as it did totally ruin the look of the mural. We smoothed the paper with a damp cloth but that didn't really do much. My Dad suggested that it might improve once it had dried out but I wasn't too hopeful. Thankfully, by the next morning every single air bubble had completely disappeared and the mural looked wonderful. I have no idea why it had so many air bubbles or why they disappeared overnight, I'm just very pleased they did.
The mural has now been up for around 7 months and is doing well. There is no sign of peeling at the edges and it looks in excellent condition.
*My son's reaction*
My son couldn't wait to see his new room (he had slept in our room the night before) and so ran straight in as soon as he woke up. He was absolutely overjoyed with it and kept saying "WOW!" and naming all the animals he could see. As I've said, the mural has been on his wall for around 7 months and he looks at it every day. He often incorporates it in his play and we use it frequently for making up stories about the animals. I feel he has got a lot more benefit from this jungle animal mural than he ever would have from normal wallpaper. I can imagine as he gets older we will be doing activities like drawing the animals. He has already started asking me questions about them and we have even had to do 'research' on the internet to answer the many questions I don't know the answer to! I didn't expect that the mural would end up being so educational but it has certainly been a welcome bonus.
*Styles and availability*
There are over 30 different Walltastic designs including: princess, football, sea adventure, pirates, dinosaurs, fairies, space, mermaids and ponies. There are also murals featuring popular cartoon characters such as Peppa Pig, Thomas, Fireman Sam, Ben 10, Barbie and many more. I really think there would be a style to suit every child as there is such a huge choice of styles to suit a wide variety of age ranges.
The main stockist for Walltastic in the UK seems to be www.101kidsdeco.com. They sell the main murals at £34.89. The character murals are more expensive at £44.89. I think these prices are still very reasonable as the mural really does transform the entire room. I think you could easily pay that for normal wallpaper and it would be nothing like as effective. Some of our friends have asked about the mural and nobody can believe how cheap it was, it certainly looks like it should costs far more.
Because the mural is so detailed, you don't really need to have much on the other walls. We have painted all the other walls a very pale green to complement the jungle theme and this was very cheap as we just used a B+Q own brand paint. We have totally revamped our son's room for about £80 which I think is a fantastic price.
In conclusion, I am very happy that I decided to buy the Walltastic mural for my son's room. It went up more easily than expected, it looks fantastic, has unexpected educational benefits, is great value for money and most importantly my son adores it.
At the time of writing this review I am 28 weeks pregnant. My tummy is lovely and big but gets quite dry and sometimes feels itchy, which is apparently quite common. Because of this I have tried various lotions and oils designed for pregnant women. When perusing the shelves in Boots, I spotted this Sanctuary Mum to Be oil. I have used a lot of Sanctuary products in the past and have always really enjoyed them so I was drawn to this oil. However, I decided the price of £10 for a 150ml bottle was too expensive (I've never been one to spend much on myself) so opted for a cheaper alternative. A few weeks later I was visiting my Mum and, to my delight, she had treated me to a bottle of this oil. It was especially surprising as I hadn't mentioned it to her.
*Using the oil*
I used the oil that night and completely fell in love with it, instantly wishing I had bought it weeks previously so I could have been enjoying it all along. The oil smells lovely and the bottle states that it contains tamanu, borage and organic rosehip seed oils. There are many essential oils that can't be used during pregnancy. As this product has been specifically designed for pregnant women I felt reassured that it would be totally safe to use. The bottle also states that the product is midwife approved.
As I said, the oil has a wonderful scent. I was pleased to find that the scent lasts all day. I even had people comment on my 'gorgeous perfume' when in fact the only product I had used was this oil!
You don't need to use much oil to get full coverage of your bump; a little drop of it spreads a long way. It doesn't fully soak in straight away so I would recommend applying the oil 5 minutes before getting dressed. I found the oil instantly soothed my bump and stopped it feeling dry and itchy. This feeling lasts all day as well, not ust a couple of hours like the other cheaper products I have tried. I tend to apply the oil every morning and occasionally at night too, but the night time application is mainly because it feels and smells nice and not because my skin actually needs it. I have been using this oil for approximately 12 weeks and have used just over half a bottle.
This product claims to 'prevent and reduce the appearance of stretch marks'. I am always dubious of claims to stop stretch marks, especially since my midwife told me it is almost certainly down to genetics as to whether you get stretch marks.
With my son, born nearly 4 years ago, I tried various creams and lotions (but not this Sanctuary one) and still developed huge, angry red stretch marks from 15 weeks onwards. They did eventually fade to whitish silver in colour but I can't say I was looking forward to getting more with this pregnancy.
Now, I don't know if it's due to this oil or not, but I am now 28 weeks pregnant and, as yet, have not developed a single stretch mark. Of course, it's quite possible that my skin had already been stretched more than should be possible in my first pregnancy so this bump is growing into that, or it could be that I have found a miracle oil that actually does what it claims. I would be interested to hear from other people who have used this oil.
Either way, whether it stopped the stretch marks or not, it doesn't really matter to me. I didn't get the oil in the hope of preventing them, it's just an added bonus if it has. I would definitely recommend this Sanctuary oil to other pregnant women. It might seem like an expensive treat but it really is worth it.
I got these gorgeous little scales for Christmas. As they were a gift I don't know the exact price paid or where they were purchased from. However a quick check online shows that they retail for approximately £8 and are available from Amazon, Lakeland, Tesco and many other shops. The scales are made by Salter.
On unwrapping them, the first thing I noticed about my new scales was the bright green colour, they really are very bright! I love the colour of them and find them so much more appealing than my boring old plain white scales. Even my very fussy husband likes the look of them and is quite happy to let then live on the kitchen worktop rather than forcing them to spend their days hidden in the cupboard. The scales are also available in a berry red, purple and white.
I like the appearance of these scales very much. Not just the colour, but I like the shape of them too. The actual display part is large and round, like a big tummy, and sits on two little round feet. The bowl then sits on top like a little head - the whole thing makes me think of a chubby little green alien!
The numbers on the display are easily large enough for me to read, but I know some people would prefer them larger. My mother-in-law for example, struggles to read the display so these wouldn't be suitable for her. That said, she is incredibly long sighted and does not have 'typical' eyesight.
The pointer arrow is large and shows clearly what weight is being indicated. On my previous scales the pointer was white and it was on a white background, which made it difficult to read. This pointer is dark grey and is on a white and green background, making it much easier to read. There is a grey dial that you can use to adjust the pointer if necessary. This is simple to use and accurate.
The scales weigh up to 3kg/6lb 8oz. The minimum it can weigh is 25g/1oz. The scale goes up in intervals of 25g/1oz. The weighing bowl is a domed shape and I prefer it to previous box shaped ones I have had as no flour or butter can get caught in the corners. The bowl is dishwasher safe which is another bonus. The base fits inside the bowl for easy storage if you want to store this little beauty in a cupboard instead of displaying it proudly.
I have found the accuracy of these scales to be fine. I use them for weighing cooking ingredients as well as weighing items I'm selling on Ebay so I can work out the postage. I have never had a problem with them.
In conclusion, I would definitely recommend these scales. They look great, they are a very reasonable price and most importantly they are accurate.
For Christmas we bought our 3 year old son the Tower of Doom from Early Learning Centre (for details of the Tower of Doom please see my earlier review). Along with the tower we also purchased several of the figures and beasts that form part of the set. This review is for the Royal Knights set.
The royal knights come in a set of 4 figures, approximately 9cm in height. In the set you get a king, hence the 'royal' title for the set, as well as three knights. They are all dressed in blue and silver armour and look like they are part of the same set. This is especially useful if you purchase one of the other sets of knights (black or red) as your child can then easily identify which 'team' is which.
What I especially like is that, although the knights are all similar in colour and size, they are also very different and this makes playing with them more fun (so my son says!). The knights are all in differing positions of attack and have slightly different weapons. They are also dressed in slightly different armour, for example one has a full face helmet on, the king has a crown and the other two have an open helmet. This means your child will be able to tell them apart should they choose to name them, our king is currently King Bob!
These figures have a lot of detail and are very interesting to look at.
The knights are made of plastic and seem durable. Prior to purchasing these I read a review of them on the ELC website. The review said that the knights were not durable and the swords and shields had broken off within hours. Thankfully we have not had that problem at all. We have had these toys for nearly 3 months, they have had daily play and show no sign of wear or damage at all.
This set cost £10 and, as far as I know, is only available from the Early Learning Centre. The website states that they are suitable for ages 3-8.
My son and I have been very happy with these figures. They make a wonderful addition to the Tower of Doom and he has had hours of fun with them.
We bought this bed when we were taking our 3 year old away for the weekend. It cost just over £30. We thought it would be ideal for any weekend breaks and trips to see our families. Unfortunately we have been very disappointed with it.
The Readybed is a child-sized inflatable airbed. The one we chose was the Toy Story 3 design and it is bright green and blue in colour. It has a big picture of Woody and Buzz on the front. The Readybed also comes in Peppa Pig, Zingzillas, Night Garden and Winnie the Pooh designs.
The bed comes with a cover attached. It unzips like a sleeping bag down one side and this enables the child to get in easily.
At the top of the pillow end is a screw cap where you attach the pump. The little pump comes with the airbed, along with a bag to carry it all in.
Here is where the disappointment began.
The instructions say to unscrew the cap at the top of the airbed, then to close the valve by pulling the little red tab. I did all of that but the little black flap, that was meant to close, never fully did. Around the inside of the cap is a lot of extra plastic, where it looks like it has been cut roughly and inaccurately. This stops the valve closing. I (and many people) have tried pushing the extra plastic back but it doesn't work. This means that it takes an incredibly long time to pump the bed up as some air comes back into the pump. In addition, the hose of the pump often disconnects from the main body of the pump causing air to gush out of the hose. This is incredibly frustrating and means it takes even longer to pump up the bed.
*Using the bed*
Initially my son was very keen to use his new airbed. He climbed in and I zipped the cover up. I put an extra cover over him as the cover attached is not warm enough on it's own. It's very thin and would only be suitable for warm summer months.
When my son first got in he wriggled and squirmed for the first few minutes trying to get comfortable. I then realised how noisy the bed is! It squeaked very loudly every time he moved even slightly and it actually took him far longer than usual to go to sleep. Eventually he did, so I left his room and went downstairs.
A while later I went to check on him. Horrified, I saw that he had rolled in his sleep and had flipped the entire airbed over. He was now under the bed with it on top of him. Luckily he was unharmed, but I had to take him out of the bed in order to turn it round the right way. Within a minute of being back in the bed, I watched him roll slightly, and again flip the bed. This time I was able to stop it before it flipped all the way over but I couldn't watch him all night so he ended up sleeping in my bed for the night.
A few weeks later we tried using the bed again, this time not pumping it up as much, in case that was why it had flipped over. Again, my son rolled slightly and flipped the bed so quickly we couldn't stop it. He ended up banging his head on the floor so that was the 2nd and last time we have used the bed.
I do not recommend this Readybed to anyone. I feel it has been a huge waste of money as it is not fit for use. Although my son rolls in his sleep, I would imagine it's not that unusual and many children also do. It seems this bed is only suitable for children that do not move at all. I am hugely disappointed in this and my son won't be using it again as I think it is dangerous.
*Update* I emailed the maufacturers and have heard absolutely nothing back from them. I would be interested to know if anyone else has had similar problems with this product.
This set of dinosaurs was another of my son's Christmas presents this year. I bought the set from Argos, they were advertised at £9.99, but were in the 2 for £15 offer. I bought 2 packs, one for my son and one for my nephew, so I only paid £7.50 each for them.
I was a bit dubious about the quality of them for that price but they had favourable reviews on the website so I gave them a chance. I'm glad I did as I have been pleasantly surprised by them.
The box the dinosaurs come in is rather small and I instantly thought the toys were going to be a disappointment. However, when I opened the pack I saw that the dinosaurs were actually quite a decent size, but had been positioned with their legs stretched back so they fit into the small box. The legs are moveable so this was no problem at all.
You get 3 dinosaurs in this set: a T-Rex, a Raptor and a Spinosaurus. They all look very different, being different shapes and of differing colours. Any young dinosaur fan should be able to tell what type of dinosaur these are as they are quite realistic looking.
My 3 year old instantly loved these dinosaurs and started playing with them straight away. He quickly realised that when he moved their arms, their eyes lit up red and they made a loud roaring sound. This surprised and delighted him and is a great effect to add to the enjoyment of these toys.
I highly recommend these dinosaurs. They are nicely detailed and are a great size, much better than most of the dinosaur toys available. The added effect of the light up eyes and roaring sounds is excellent and makes them so much more interesting than the standard dinos. I thought I had got a bargain when I bought them, but I have seen they are now on sale at Argos for £3.49.
My husband and I bought this castle for our 3 year old son as his main birthday present. We first saw it in a Mothercare shop with an Early Learning Centre section. It was on a high display and my son spotted it from across the store. He dragged us over to it and was in awe as he stared at it. My husband, of course, checked it for it's sturdiness and durability while I checked it's price! We were both happy with it so bought it for a very happy little boy.
The castle comes flat packed so requires assembling. I was a bit worried about this to be honest as it always means there's a potential for missing parts or bits that don't fit where they should. Thankfully I had no problems at all assembling the castle. I built it on my own and it took approximately 1 hour 15 minutes, but I was watching TV and had a glass of wine at the same time! The instructions that come with the castle are incredibly easy to follow as they have plenty of illustrations to show what should be going where.
What I liked best is that you don't need any tools at all as there are no screws or nails involved in the assembly, all the pieces just slot together. Surprisingly though, the finished castle is incredibly sturdy and feels very well built. I was worried that it would be a bit flimsy since the pieces just slot together, but that actually seems to help make it stronger. Each piece of the castle is made from thick wood and feels of good quality, there are no thin, easy to snap bits here.
*Appearance and features*
The castle is a fantastic size, measuring approximately 110cm in height and 95cm in width which means it is big enough for a few children to play with it at the same time. The castle is mainly black and grey in colour and has a lot of detail painted on. On the base there is a fiery effect and around the bottom of the castle it has a rocky effect. One side of the castle has a moving drawbridge; there is a handle and when it is turned the drawbridge raises or lowers. It works easily and was also easy to build. On the other side of the castle is a dungeon area with lifting door.
Each side of the castle has different sections where characters can be stood. These sections all have painted details on the floor, such as rats or octopus tentacles sneaking out through grates. These are interesting effects for children to look at and help their imagination and game playing. At the top of one of the turrets is a big flag pole with material flag.
My son's favourite feature is in the middle of the castle, near the top. It's what he calls the 'trap door'. Two pieces of the floor are hinged so they can swing down. They balance on a little bit of wood that is actually the tongue of a gargoyle. When the tongue is pulled out then the trap door opens, plummeting any figures standing there down to the floor. It is amazing how long this trap door can entertain a 3 year old!
This castle is part of a set from Early Learning Centre. The castle is the main toy but there are many others in the theme. There are around 8 figure packs, usually containing around 4 figures. You can choose between different sets of knights or monsters. I won't mention them too much here as I'll be reviewing the other toys separately in another review and don't want to just repeat myself.
The castle cost £75 and came with a free pack of monster figures, normally costing £15. Although it is an expensive toy, in my opinion it is worth it as it has so much play potential. It is also incredibly well made and durable so I can imagine it will last for a lot of years. The box recommends it being suitable for ages 3-8 and I would say this is about right, although some older children may still enjoy playing with it. I wouldn't recommend it to children younger than 3 as I don't think they would get as much out of it and I think they would find the drawbridge and trapdoor difficult to work.