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I stumbled upon Secret by accident, it was on special offer ? by one get one free at Superdrug a few years ago. Previously I had always used aerosol deodorants as they went on well and dried really quickly, but then there was an article in the paper about how aerosols deodorants were really bad for you in case you breathed them in & that they shouldn?t be sprayed around children etc etc. Being a first time expectant Mum I think the hormones had gone to my head and I took it a bit too seriously. I changed to a stick deodorant! I couldn?t bear the idea of roll ons as every time I use them I seem to spent 5 minutes flapping my arms violently trying to get it to dry so I can put my clothes on! I really hated the sticky feeling while it was drying too! I initially changed to Natrel stick deodorant which was the same make & scent that I had been using since I was 14 (I was 26 when I stopped using it!!!!) Unfortunately they decided to stop producing it & so I had to find something else! I saw Secret on special offer and decided to try it. It has about 3 different scents & a ?no scent? variety. As I did not like any of the scents, I chose the plain one and I really liked it. 3 years on I am still using it. It works really well, keeps me fresh, dry & smell-free! It goes on easily and lasts all day even in the Summer. I like the fact that it goes on dry & doesn?t feel remotely sticky, which is great for a busy mum as I can dress quickly without waiting & I don?t have to worry about spraying anything near my kids! I can't remember how much I paid for it last time I bought it but I think it was around £2.00. It certainly offers great value for money as you can use it for months before needing another one. It does not contain alcohol & apparently the secret of the ?no scent? but no smell is that it contains a masking agent. Anyway, it works fine for me. The only annoying thing about it is that every time my hubby?s male sc
ented stick (which I can?t use!) runs out ? he uses mine as it doesn?t smell ?girlie?! Oh well, I cant have everything can I?
Madasafish! What a strange name! We had never heard of it before, but picked this ISP from a magazine that was a guide to choosing ISPs. Basically I was totally fed up with Btinternet taking the mick. After being a very good customer of theirs for about 3 years, they decided that they didn?t like me any more because I was a high access user & to get rid of me, they gave me a new access number which basically meant that I was unable to get online & when I did, I was thrown out again in less than a minute! The service was abysmal & I found that I could only get online in very unsociable hours! I complained about the service hundreds of times as I thought ?anytime? literally meant ?anytime? but BT did nothing & their attitude was truly ?we don?t care & we are not going to do anything about it?. I struggled on & on with BT for months as I didn?t want to change my email address because of the inconvenience that it would cause because a very large number of people, job agencies & internet sites use my bt address. Anyway, enough was enough & BT wasn?t going to get any more money out of me so I looked for something else. Nothing could ever be as bad as BT or treat their customers so badly. I bought a computing magazine to select another ISP and looked through the list of unmetered access providers i.e. 24/7 access without having to pay for the calls. We tried AOL but couldn?t get online all evening ? not a good start so we cancelled the service the following day! Then hubby chose Madasafish ? I?m not sure why ? maybe it was the name? Madasafish provides both metered & unmetered services. Unmetered access is £14.99 a month & Metered - you just pay the price of the phone calls (local rate) I obviously chose unmetered as hubby & I are both at home most of the day & the computer provides most of our entertainment in the evenings as we arent really able to get out in the evenings much with 2 small kids! We signed
up online & got access straight away with no problems and I was surprised by the next morning getting a call from Madasafish just to check that everything was going well (BT take note ? this is true customer service!) I was pleased and very surprised that they called. We chose our own email address & the mail works fine ? unfortunately Madasafish have no Webmail facility to view your mail online if you are away from home, but this is rarely a problem for me. When we asked, they did direct us to another Webmail provider which was very good of them. The access speed we are getting is pretty good, the same as BT. I have a 56k Modem & the access speed is registering as 40K. I have only had trouble getting in once (I tried 3 times & then got in ? with BT I tried upto 25+ times & sometimes didn?t get in!) Apart from that I normally get in 1st time every time. Sometimes in very peak hours I do lose the connection, but its not a problem to get back in& It?s a real luxury to get to the end of 2hrs & then be disconnected as with BT I?d be lucky to get to 10 minutes without being thrown out 3 times! It does make life so much easier & less stressful & so far I am really happy with the service. In their words ?We give you unfeasibly fast access. You get the choice of going faster, or free-er? (depending on whether you choose Metered or Unmetered service) As far as I am concerned ? I am surfing, faster, free-er & with far more ease than BT ever gave me! Oh yeah & I love the name Madasafish ? everyone comments on it!
I don't normally write reviews on books, but this is one toddler book that I particularly like and think that it deserves a mention as it is in a class of its own. Normally when my 2 year old picks a book off the book shelf, hands it to me & says "read it!"" I think oh no! not that book again as most toddler books are so boring, unimaginative & repetitive. (I confess to hiding one about a fish that I couldn't bear to read again!) This book, however, is great, and one that I don't mind reading over & over again. My son absolutely adores it too. Basically Dear Zoo is a book where the reader has written a letter to the zoo requesting a pet. Each page says the sent me a..... & there is a picture of a container & you have to move the flap down to see what the animal is. The book doesn't say the name of the animal, so that when you say "they sent me a"... your child has a chance to name the animal themselves so it's a great way of learning the names of animals. I had some great responses off my son to start with when he called the camel "a horsy!" & he used to call the snake a snail as he used to get them confused (now it's a "nake") The monkey is always greeted with my son going "monkey - ooh ooh" & making some great monkey impressions! (I always maintain that monkey probably behaves better than my son so its very amusing!) Once the flap is lifted & the animal named, underneath it says He was too.... (and a reason why the animal wasn't suitable) I sent him back. It's a fun book with an elephant (too big), a girraffe (too tall), lion (too fierce), camel (too grumpy), snake (too scary), monkey (too naughty), frog (too jumpy) and finally the zoo sends a dog which was perfect! It's a very entertaining, interactive book that catches both children's imagination and adults, the lift up flaps & the participation of the child make it much better than just readi
ng an ordinary bedtime story book and I think that my son learns far more from it than from most other toddler books. It is definitley the best and most entertaining book that I've read to my son so far! It is available as a paperback book or a hardback but I would suggest getting the hard back copy as my son loved the paperback one so much that he damaged it! I managed to get a hardback copy from my local carboot sale & so far it is lasting very well. I wouldn't leave a child unattended with any "lift the flap" type book though because little fingers are so tempted to rip all the flaps off - don't ask me why but that's the way kids are! We had a lovely book where farm animals stood up in the middle of each page when you opened it & my son pulled all the animals off! (Thank goodness all my books come from charity shops or car boot sales or I would be gutted!!!!) Anyway - this book comes highly recommended for any toddler. (The price is £4.99 for the hard back - I'm not sure for the paper back but the hardback will last much longer as it's very sturdy!)
LONDON I have now lived in London for 10 years. I moved here as a student & since then I have got married & had children. I will try to write about London as best as I can, but really I would need a whole book to put everything worth mentioning down! TRANSPORT London is very well served by public transport being the capital. There are several Railway stations (Kings Cross, Euston, Victoria being the major ones) There are 2 major airports, Heathrow & Gatwick & a lesser known City airport. The capital is well served by many daily coach services in & out of the capital throughout the day so getting here for a visit is not a problem! Inside London ? it isn?t hard to get around. The main item any Londoner will need get is an A-Z, once you have one of these then you will be able to find anything! The City is well served with Tube, bus & Docklands Light Railway (DLR) but its worth remembering that the bus service can be extremely slow in the rush hours & waiting for buses can be tedious. If you are able to, then the tube is usually the quickest option although unfortunately its not very accessible to anyone with disabilities or with children in buggies due to all the stairs and few stations with lifts. Although improvements are being made especially with the buses, London would be fairly difficult to navigate by a wheelchair user. I have given up trying to use public transport and now have my own car. SHOPPING You can buy almost anything in London! The major shopping street is Oxford Street which has everything from Selfridges, John Lewes?s, HMV, Hennes, Allders, Dixons, H&M, Mothercare & many independent unusual London clubwear type shops. Round the corner from Oxford Circus is the famous Carnaby street which has some good shoe shops but sadly Carnaby street has gone very commercial. 10 years ago, I used to buy some very alternative clothing from this street as it had many shops selling unusual clothing including roc
k, Goth, metal, PVC and other interesting clothes, however, over the years most of the shops that gave the street its interesting and alternative feel have gone. There are some good shops left, but other shops have been replaced with Shelly?s, a sports shop, Pret a manger, Lush etc. I feel that the innovative, alternativeness of the street has unfortunately been lost. Not far from Oxford Street is Leicester Square which is where it all happens at night! It has a large number of eateries including Chiquitos Mexican restaurant, Deep Pan, Burger King and many more. My favourite is the Haagen Daaz restaurant where hubby & I used to share big boxes of ice-cream covered in lashings of melted real milk chocolate. Leicester Square Odeon is where many films premier and the stars turn out in force. Also there are a large number of night-clubs including the Hippodrome & Equinox. You can meet a variety of interesting people here as occasionally you find people standing on soap boxes with their bit to say just like speakers corner. A lot of the London nightlife is concentrated round Leicester Square, Tottenham Court Road, Soho etc ? these are the areas that the most busy with revellers at night. There are a large number of pubs, almost everywhere you look there is a pub! but buying a pint in the centre seems to go up every time I go ? be prepared to pay £2.60-£3 a pint! Not far from Leicester Square is London?s famous China Town with lots of Chinese restaurants and shops selling exotic Chinese foods and produce. This is well worth a visit. I like looking round the shops as some of the foods are delicious (although some things are totally unfathomable and expensive). You can get large packs of Chinese noodles for bargain prices which is great for students! Covent Garden is an interesting place to visit ? it has a slightly ?arty? feel. You see many street performers in the area doing all sorts such as mime, dance, comedy, music etc. which can be
very interesting to watch. You can get a bite to eat although probably not very cheaply & you will probably have to share your table with a few pigeons! The London transport museum at Covent Garden is definitely one to visit. It has a fantastic array of old fashioned buses, trolley buses and trams as well as old tube trains & it gives you all the history. My little nephew adored it & I shall be taking my sons when they are a little older and more able to appreciate it. Its very family friendly & a perfect day out for the kids ? the coffee shop next door was amazingly cheap too! Knightsbridge is obviously another major shopping area with Harrods & Harvery Nichols & other pricey places, but unfortunately these are for the seriously loaded or for window shopping only! Kings Road, Chelsea is another famous shopping area but again the shops are mainly for the sloane set & those can afford to do some serious shopping. High Street Kensington is another large shopping street, but even though I used to live there, I never found it overly inspiring. It has the usual M&S, GAP, H&M, Shellys, Next, Tower Records, a bookshop, shoe shops etc., but I wouldn?t go out of my way to shop there. Just off High Street Kensington on Kensington Church street, there are a whole range of shops called Amazon which sell cut price clothes by French Connection & other makes ? clothes start at £5 & £10. (I think that Amazon could have re-named itself ?Kensington Market? as the real Kensington Market ? a very alternative place (similar in a way to Affleck Palace in Manchester has been closed down) Anyway this place is definitely worth a look in as you can get a whole new wardrobe for next to nothing! Queensway ? is a sort of shopping area although it?s more of a road for finding somewhere to eat! There are a huge number of restaurants of every variety here everything from Chinese, Arabic, Mexican through to fast food chains. Whiteleys shopping centre is at t
he bottom of the street and is a shopping centre with class, but I go there mainly to eat or go to H&M as most of the shops are fairly expensive! South Kensington is very good for museums such as the V&A (Victoria & Albert museum), the Science Museum & the Natural History Museum. The Natural History museum has an amazing building decorated with extravagant stone carvings & designs. It is certainly worth looking at in itself. Many buildings & walls in this area have scarring from World War II bombs which remain as a sobering reminder of the realities of war. The South bank is an experience in itself with the London Aquarium, the London Eye, The Tate modern & loads of pubs to name a few of the attractions. I went on the London Eye last August with my family and it definitely was a trip worth taking, the views were spectacular. My 17mth old son had a whale of a time with his cousins & even someone who hates heights as much as I do enjoyed it! There are many sights & attractions that I haven?t mentioned such as Buckingham palace, Trafalgar Square, The Houses of Parliament, The Tower of London, Madame Tussards etc etc. To really appreciate London & get round it all, you would have to live here! The only problem is that once you live here, you tend to get lazy & not visit stuff that you would do as a tourist! Living in London is something I have a few mixed feelings on ? I love London & its my home, there are many positives for living here however there are major problems such as housing, crime and the fact that many people that you meet tend to be in a permanent hurry & will knock you out the way. I find that when I go into the centre I tend to meet a lot of very rude ignorant people who push you about & wont give you the time of day & look daggers at you if you or your child happen to get in their path. Everyone in London does seem a bit wound up by the stresses of living in the city! HOUSING For those who intend to stay
long term, finding good affordable housing can be very tricky and unless you earn mega bucks, buying your own place can be a bit pie in the sky. Luckily while a student, I stayed in college halls & later after I got married I moved in with my hubby & we have a Housing Association place. If you can get Council or Housing association place, then you are very lucky, but your problems may not end there. We are now in a 1 bedroom flat with our 2 children & trying to get a decent family sized flat is like trying to get blood out of a stone. In short London has a huge influx of people and not enough good, affordable housing to cope with everyone ? the government have not made enough effort to alleviate the problems either. At the moment, making a broad generalisation, the rich can buy homes, the semi-affluent can privately rent & the poor get stuck in inadequate social housing. This city is a great place with plenty of opportunities, but it can also be very lonely & isolating if you are not in a community & do not have family near by. I doubt that I would have stayed if I had not got married & started a family & made friends. Still, this strange city which is ever changing is my home & at the moment I?m glad to be here.
I am the very happy owner of a Citroen Xantia Turbo diesel. How we got it is a bit of a long story & we didn't choose it ourselves or do any research, but my mum bought it & made a very good choice! I didn't think that I would ever own a car and especially not as we live in central London. However, now that we have two very small children it has got a bit difficult to get on & off public transport & the tube isn't very accessible to mums with children in buggies. I was also fed up with all the time I wasted at the bus stops waiting for buses (up to 40 mins at a time) & I really started to wish that we had a car to get about in. Coincidentally my mother-in-law was ditching her old car & gave it to us. My mother decided that as it was on its last legs (or wheels) & didn?t think it was very safe so she told us that she would swap it for a better car. My parents have had Citroens for the last few years & have found them to be very good, reliable & cheap to run. They get their car serviced regularly at their local Citroen centre, so it was while my mum was there that she saw our Xantia for sale for £1600. When my mum took me to see it, it had already caught my eye. I thought "that's a nice looking car" as my mum drove in, but I didn't realise that it was actually the one that was going to be mine! I was so thrilled when I found out - It was definitely love at first sight! We traded our old car in for £300 (not sure it was actually worth it as my mother in law only paid £250!) and my mum paid the rest. Getting the car has definitely been one of the best things that happened this year. The Xantia Turbo Diesel (1.9L) is an extremely good looking car. It is a large saloon model (although you can get an estate model) & from the exterior is looks very stylish. Inside the car, it is extremely spacious & comfortable & there is plenty of leg room in both the front & the back. The seats are very comf
ortable & fairly adjustable. I t is definitely a very comfortable car to both drive & be driven in. If you take the parcel shelf out & put the seats down, which is very quick & simple, then the carrying capacity in the back is enormous. We have moved a huge chest of drawers & put a small 2 seater sofa in it! I had never driven a diesel car before, I had always driven various small petrol engine cars. The first thing I noticed about the Xantia was that it seemed very big & very powerful compared to anything that I had driven before & being a diesel engine, it has a lot of pulling power so it is fairly difficult to stall the engine. I have definitely found it much easier to drive than anything I have driven previously even though it is much bigger. The steering is very good and it is power assisted which makes it very light to handle even though the car is fairly big. It manoeuvres very easily. Our car has a very high mileage, it?s a 1996 car & it had done 142,000 miles on purchase. The mileage seemed very high, but I have been reliably informed that diesel engines go on for a very long time - at least until 200,000 miles and beyond. I must admit that I have seen an identical car advertised with 206,000 miles on the clock & it was still going strong! The car has been serviced regularly & it is running very smoothly. The car is very economical and does about 40-45mpg although it obviously does less when doing town driving - particularly in London due to all the slow roads & stop start stop start driving conditions which use up more fuel than normal driving. One of the fancy things about the Xantia is that it has an interesting suspension system which raises & lowers the car from time to time to keep it level. You don't often notice it when driving but sometimes when you stop or pause at a traffic light, the car levels up which is a bit strange but it certainly provides a very smooth comfortable ride. Our
Xantia is the very basic one & although there are a couple of fancy ones (like my parents one) with remote central locking, electric windows & the like. I am not too bothered about the windows, but I would have liked central locking as it can be a bit of a chore after getting the kids out of the car & the buggies out of the boot then I have to lock all 5 doors up! One very good feature of the car is that it has an integral immobiliser. The only way that the car?s engine can be started is by tapping in a code by the driver after the key has been turned a couple of notches in the ignition lock. Once the code light goes green you can start the engine . With a diesel car you have to wait a couple of seconds for the glow plugs (the diesel equivalent of spark plugs) to heat up - the light goes out on the dash & you can start the car. Usually by the time the code has been entered, the lights go out - if you don't wait, then you risk damaging the engine. The immobiliser is obviously a very good feature & its very reassuring when we have to park our car on the street every night as I feel slightly less worried that it could be stolen. Some of the fancier models, like my parents one have the remote central locking & you cant drive off or start the engine unless the correct remote control key is in the ignition lock. I can say that based on the fact that my parents have owned Citroens for years & my sister had an old one off my parents, that Citroen is a very reliable make and the cars are very well made and reliable. I would definitely recommend it for being a reliable, economical and comfortable family car & don't be put off by high mileage if it has been regularly serviced as it should still go on to give you miles of pleasure!
Reusable nappies! Since taking up using cloth nappies, I cant ever imagine why I thought that they were so difficult! I must admit that when I had my 1st son I thought that nappies came as ?Pampers? or ?Huggies? & I had no information on using cloth & noone recommended it to me. At the postnatal classes I only ever saw one person using them & at the time I thought that they were really brave & probably a bit mad! I was quite happy to use disposables without a 2nd thought. My mum gave me some terry squares, pins & plastic pants (probably that she had used on me!) I was very grateful and used them as sick cloths & burp pads etc, but I certainly had no intention of ever actually putting one on my baby! Well moving on to when I had my 2nd son, I had always had a few guilt pangs with my 1st son about throwing away nappies as there seemed to be so many in the bin at the end of the day, but when I had 2 children in nappies it became ridiculous. What also became ridiculous, was wasting £10 a week on them. My hubbies job finished & due to all the September 11th trouble, IT jobs disappeared over night. It suddenly seemed so silly to be throwing away so much money & so many nappies. I decided to try using cloth, so I started with the terry nappies that my mum gave me & they were pretty good, they washed & dried very easily & I found them very easy. Unfortunately I couldn?t persuade hubby to wrestle with a wriggling baby, a cloth square and some pins! So I had another think about it & I moved over to using Kooshies Ultras. These are cloth nappies that look almost the same as a disposable, they are the same shape & you fasten them with velcro tabs. Hubby had no excuse this time as they are easy & they are hubby-proof! I also found that I can use them on my 2 year old. I didn?t dare use the terries & pins on him as I thought that he would tug away at them & probably injure himself on the pins. He hasn?t actually noticed anything different & seem
s very happy in them. SO HOW DO YOU USE CLOTH??????? If you think that it sounds really daunting (& I confess that I used to think it was!) It is really really simple especially once you get used to them! All you need is your nappies, nappy liners (usually paper or nylon), some boosting pads & a nappy bucket. Once you get in the habit & routine with them, then you will wonder why you wasted so much money on disposables! With pooey nappies, take out the dirty liner & flush the solid bits down the loo & put the dirty nappy to soak in a bucket of water. Don?t add detergent as this can rot your nappies and shorten their working life. With weed nappies, remove the liner & put it in a washing net ready to go through the machine, you can put this nappy in the bucket if you wish, but I tend to leave wet nappies separately. Wash pooey nappies at 60 degrees with normal detergent (weed ones can be done at 40 degrees.) I tend to put weed nappies in the normal white wash as urine is harmless and sterile. Don?t put fabric softener in the wash as it can coat the nappies with a film meaning that they aren?t as absorbent as they should be. Sometimes an extra spin can wring the nappies out a bit better which means that they will dry quicker. Make sure that you have enough nappies to last you comfortably while your 1st lot are drying. To be ultra ?green? it is best to dry your nappies naturally without a tumble drier. I put mine outside & then air them on the pipes in the airing cupboard which works very nicely. I prepare my nappies as soon as I have dried them i.e. I put the boosting pads (small strips of cloth to increase the nappy absorbency) in the nappies & the paper liners, then I put them away ready for use ? that way I don?t have to do any messing about when I need a nappy. To anyone who is starting out with a new baby, I would urge them to consider cloth. The outlay may seem initially high,
but the savings are huge. Over the course of 2-2.5 years you can spend £1000-£1500 on disposables, whereas with cloth (depending on the make you choose) the outlay may be £200, but you will make huge savings on the cost of disposables & you can use them for more than one child. You can also sell them on when you finish with them! You also don?t have to get them new, ebay & the cloth nappy sales forum on UK parents are very good for second hand nappies (& advice on using them) I have bought all my nappies off ebay or via UK parents and it has been a very good investment. I am pleased to be no longer throwing away £10 a week or contributing to the landfill site problem. I am not feeling that holier than thou (OK just a little LOL as I have a cleaner conscience!) but I am definitely feeling the benefits in my wallet! The disposable nappy problem is huge & they are not easy to breakdown once in landfill sites as most of them are not environmentally friendly & the gels & plastic coatings will either not break down or will take hundreds of years. As there are thousands of babies in the UK each using about a packet of nappies a week, you can soon see why the landfill sites are filling up & the councils are having a lot of trouble finding new sites. I personally feel that much more should be done to promote the use of cloth nappies over disposables as most people are unaware of the alternatives or the benefits. Hospital antenatal clinics & parentcraft classes should mention it as a viable alternative & more information leaflets should be available to new mums. New mums get information on breastfeeding so why not give information on environmentally friendly nappies? The Bounty pack would be an ideal place to promote cloth nappies. Sure Start is another scheme that I believe should back it as Sure Start helps mothers in the most deprived areas (I live in one!!) I bet that many mums on low incomes would be very interested in saving money as I
certainly was! A few councils offer incentives to residents such as vouchers to purchase cloth nappies ? more innovative schemes like this are definitely needed! Anyway, without being all militant and burning packs of disposables! Cloth is definitely the way forward in a world of finite resources. (if you had said that I would say this 3 years ago, then I wouldn?t have believed you!) Anyway cloth nappies are definitely worth a try and you could save a fortune as well as the environment.
I am writing this story mainly to get a few things off my chest and to get rid of some of the things that have weighed me down over the last year as I believe that both my son & I suffered needlessly by failure to identify my son's problems at an early stage and from being patronised by people who wrote me off as just another fussing mother. I will start back in April 2000 when my beautiful son was born, a perfectly healthy baby weighing 8lbs and although I know that all mothers are biased, my son was truly beautiful, a gorgeous dark little thing with dark hair (blond now!), dark eyes & olive skin. The night he was born, I thought that I had never seen anything so beautiful in all my life. I was totally besotted with him. We bonded well and I breastfed him for the first 6.5 months of his life & he progressed well, then I switched him to bottles. I started the weaning at 4 months and all seemed well until I ran into trouble at 8-9 months when I tried to give him lumpy food & he was violently sick every time, he tried to swallow. I asked for the Health Visitor?s (HV) opinion & advice as I could not move him on to lumpy food. I was told more or less, that I would have to persevere or he?d be eating baby food at 3! I didn't get much helpful advice at all. The whole family was then really ill with flu for 5 weeks (seriously - it was awful!) but eventually after a holiday in Malta we recovered, but still my son couldn't eat, so I carried on giving him mainly soft baby food. I still tried to wean him onto real food & fortunately by 12 months, he tried to eat it, but he ate so little & drank so little milk that it was worrying. At 13 months he had a serious viral infection and had to stay in hospital, initially we were told it was meningitis and that they were going to give him IV anti-biotics, but fortunately it was a false alarm & turned out to be far less serious. During his stay, he ate almost nothing and drank only 2oz of milk
a day, but no-one seemed that concerned about it even though I mentioned it to the Dr that his appetite was very poor. In the months that followed my son recovered, although he seemed to have been a bit knocked sideways by the illness & still he did not eat much or drink & he threw all his food on the floor. I watched my son go from a well padded baby, to a stick thin toddler and it was very clear to me by this stage that something was wrong. I tried to tell the HV my concerns many times, but I was fobbed off constantly as an over-anxious fussing mother which I found was a bit insulting. It's not nice when you know that people are not taking you very seriously - especially when you are sure that there is a genuine problem. I fought very hard to get someone to take notice but was fobbed off each time. My son started to have horrendous bouts of sickness, vomiting every night, his nose ran thick & green constantly & he made no progress with speech or comprehension of anything I said to him. I couldn't teach him anything & all the response I got was that boys are slower than girls!!! Slower maybe, but I thought by nearly two, surely he should know more words than, Star, door & Daddy & other peoples boys of the same age seemed very chatty and fluent! He was also always ill & at the hospital or doctors all the time. I started to feel like booking in a weekly appointment in advance each week, I was there so often. A couple of times, I had booked for myself, but my son took the appointment as a complete coincidence! From 15mths-20mths, my son's weight stuck hovering around 10kg (22lb) mark, which was very underweight & he dropped down more than 2 percentile lines (which is usually the point that they start to worry!) I told the HV this & she didn't really listen - months later ? she said "oh he's dropped 2 percentile lines" and I said "Yes I've been telling you that for months!" I really felt I was
banging my head against a brick wall & I got very frustrated by it. Eventually my son was referred to the hospital who didn't really take me seriously either (great!) Every time I turned to Drs or health visitors with my concerns, I was fobbed off. I was even sent with my son to a child psychologist for his "behavioural problems regarding eating". I gave birth to my 2nd child when my 1st son was 17mths old and during the week I gave birth, my first son was so ill and sick with another bout of violent sickness that I started to really worry about him. My sons bouts of sickness were odd, he'd be fine during the day time, then after being asleep for a few hours, he would cry in a very distressed manner & be violently sick. This occurred night after night after night and my son lost even more weight. He wasn't actually ill in the day time either, no temperature or any other sign of illness. His tummy also had the most terrible diahoerrhea. He'd be ok for a week or even 2 & then it would start again. He was so sick round the birth, that I looked at him one day in his playpen and he looked like a famine victim, a skinny body that I could see every bone & stick thin legs & still he wouldn't eat & I despaired. How could I fatten my child up and get him to full health again, when I couldn't get him to eat? How could I find out what was wrong with him when no-one took me seriously? I was very upset & I cried a lot over it. Sometimes I thought that I might lose him & that opened a whole can of worms emotionally. I had spent months of watching my son ill & they termed it "failure to thrive" - oh how I hated that phrase with a vengeance! Failure to thrive sounded so awful & so hopeless & Victorian. I started to feel that I was a failure as a mother. The child psychologist was not helpful at all, she went over all the weaning etc to find out why my child "had developed behavioural problems wi
th eating", to the point that I thought that the reason my son was so sick was my fault because I had got the weaning all wrong. This may sound silly now, but at the time I had been under an enormous amount of stress and due to the lack of support & feelings of helplessness about watching my son go so downhill without being able to do anything about it or get anyone to take me seriously, that is the conclusion I came up with. I also think that all the hormones raging in my system from childbirth didn't help matters either. I still couldn't get any help for my son and the stress really mounted up & I started to have very severe panic attacks & anxiety attacks that did not seem to end. The physical symptoms I suffered as a result of these were awful. All the time I desperately tried to ?pull myself together & stop feeling anxious, but I couldn't and the Drs couldn't help me because I was breastfeeding. I never realised that anyone could feel so bad with anxiety & each time I hit what I thought must be the bottom, it got worse. I thought as my son was so ill & never making any progress that I could lose him & I wrongly thought it was my fault so the false guilt I had was awful. I do think that all this could have been avoided if the health professionals had listened to me at an earlier stage. My son was in hospital again when the new baby was only 5 weeks old. He had tonsillitis, ear infections & had a type of fit in the night. His temperature was sky high & the hospital had trouble bringing it down, he was acting really strangely repeating the same garbled phrase over & over again while staring blankly into space. The hospital treated him, but still no-one did anything about his very obviously inability to gain weight. They didn't even do any tests even though I asked. A week after he was out of hospital he had yet another serious ear infection & this time the GP referred him to the Ear Nose & Throat (ENT) department (I w
as told that this could take up to 6 mths for an appointment!!) By now, I was in a terrible state with my nerves & my son was in a very bad way & even when he picked up, I knew that it was just a matter of time before he was ill again. I tried to find a reason for my sons problems myself and I tried everything, I even switched my sons formula milk to Soya & when I did, he suddenly gained 0.8kg - the first gain in 8 months. The Dr started to wonder if he had coeliac disease or milk intolerance although the didn't test him, we tried cutting gluten & cows milk out of his diet, but it made no improvement. Luckily the appointment with ENT came through at the end of February when my son was 22.5mths. The ENT consultant was fantastic and found my sons problems straight away. His tonsils were so big that they practically blocked his throat (the Dr was very excited at the size of them!), they were red and sore which explained his inability & reluctance to swallow or suck on bottles & beakers and why he didn?t want to eat anything. His nose was running constantly for more than a year with thick green snot & this turned out to be due to swollen infected adenoids & after a hearing test, they discovered that he was almost deaf and needed his ears cleaning out & grommets fitting. He also had sleep apnoea where he stopped breathing in his sleep, followed by him suddenly gasping a big lot of air which is quite scary to watch. The consultant said that he needed his tonsils & adenoids out as an emergency & said he would put him down for top priority which meant that it would be done in 6 weeks. (6 weeks for an emergency!!!) At last I finally found out some of my sons problems & I realised it was definitely not my fault. This took a huge weight off my shoulders as I finally realised that I wasn?t to blame for my sons illness. Those 6 weeks waiting for the op were awful ? my son lost the 0.8kg he had gained, was sick every night & ha
d the awful diahoerhea. I was so scared that he wasn't going to be able to have the op as he was even sick the night before the op, but fortunately they went ahead & did it. The day before my son was 2, I took him to the hospital for his op (tonsils & adenoids removing & grommets fitting) & I was very emotional. 2 years previously I had gone into the same hospital and had the induction started as I was 14 days over my due date. Nothing much actually happened for 23hrs & then I had him very suddenly in an hour & 15 min labour. Now here I was bringing him back as I joked for a "repair"! He weighed only 22lbs (10kg) and was in the doctors words ?lighter than many 9 month old babies? (My 2nd baby was 22lb at 9mths too!!) He looked like a flower kept of out the light, he had grown upwards, but not outwards & was painfully thin. They took the younger patients down to theatre first and I went with him, he was a bit scared & I couldn't really explain anything to him as he was too young & couldn?t hear me clearly anyway. Perhaps that was the best thing as he wasn't fearful in the run-up to the op. I held him in my arms as the put him under the anaesthetic & I felt very tearful as I left him, he looked so tiny & pathetic on the trolley, but I consoled myself that I was more worried that the op would be cancelled, so it was a relief to have it done. About an hour & a half or so later I went to the recovery room to see my son & go with him back to the ward. To my relief he was fine, but heavily sedated & on morphine. I had to hold the Oxygen mask over his face to keep his blood oxygen levels up as the nurses in recovery were very busy as there were a lot of patients in the recover room. They took my son back to the ward & he slept peacefully for most of the day. The next day the doctor spent a long time talking about my sons illnesses & they finally tested him for everything they could think of! All the tests have later proved negativ
e and it appears that his tonsils must have been causing all his trouble - the bugs were going down his throat into his tummy & making him very sick. The surgeon told us that his ears were extremely full of rubbish too so the clean out & grommets should make a huge difference. He was right. In the week after the operation, my son was learning several new words every day and once his throat had healed, he started to eat like a horse & he gained weight very quickly. After spending nearly a year at 10kg (22lbs), within one month he gained 1.5 kilos (3lbs) & now 4 months later, he weighs 12.5kg (27lbs). My son is now in very good health, he has had no recent bouts of sickness & he is doing really well at last. I just wish that the doctors & health visitors had actually listened to me when I had told them that I thought that there was something wrong with my son. I am a great believer in the fact that a mother knows when something is amiss with her child. There may be a small minority of fussers & time wasters, but surely as a busy mum expecting & then having my 2nd child, surely you would think that they knew that I had better things to do with time than waste theirs???? In my opinion Mothers know best! Having said that, I still cannot thank the doctors & surgeons who did the operation enough, especially as I know that they are normally reluctant to perform this operation on children as young as my son & I am so grateful to God for my child's renewed health. I feel like I've been given him back again & I cannot be more grateful after the year we have been through.
A long time ago, well 2000 actually, I started to really get into the Internet community. I?d had Internet for a long time, but by 1999-2000 more & more stuff became available online & due to an increased amount of time on my hands, due to leaving work & having my first son, I started to use the Internet more & more. As a new parent I was looking for friendship and reassurance from other parents, so I joined Motherandbaby.co.uk. This was a fantastic online parenting magazine site with a chat room & forum boards & thanks to M&B as we called it, I made many online friends that I still have today. We all were very fond of M&B and chatted night after night about all sorts of stuff (some of it would make your hair curl!) until unfortunately the site closed due to financial reasons. For a long time I carried on chatting to my M&B friends via MSN & didn?t bother moving on to another parenting site, however after much nagging from one of my friends I eventually joined another parenting site which also went belly up! (Was it something I said??) Anyway, feeling a bit lost again, I looked for another parenting site & on recommendation, I joined Ukparents. I have found the people on the site very friendly and easy to chat to, so Ukparents now fills the void left by M&B!! The site originally was called Ukmums but was re-named UKparents to include dads ? I think that some of the men were feeling left out! It is free to join and you have to be registered to participate in any of the chats, forums or competitions. Joining is a very quick process with e-mail verification, but once you have your log in name & password, you are ready to go! The site is well laid out & very easy to navigate. You move round the site very easily with a list running on the left hand side that you can use to move to a different part of the site & back at any time. The site has many articles on topical issues which change weekly or every few days. The home pag
e after you log in is updated daily. There are many helpful sections on the site, such as the forums which are basically message boards, (I?ll come back to these in more detail) & the chat rooms. I particularly enjoy the chat rooms. They have the foyer where everyone enters the chatzone & from there, there are other rooms that you can visit and join in different chats such as cloth nappies, trying to conceive, fun etc. The chats can be very lively and you meet a wide variety of people from the expectant 1st time mum to the mother of 5 (or more!). It?s a nice way to unwind & chill out & if you have something to get off your chest, usually there are a lot of good listeners about who can give you advice, comfort or cheer you up! Sometimes as a mum, things can get on top of you and it?s great to know that you aren?t the only one going through it all. Sometimes listening to others can really put your problems in perspective & other things you learn to laugh about! As well as chat ? there is a specific page called ?Ask the parents? where you can send in a problem & they feature one problem a week & invite everyone to give their opinion on how the situation could be helped. This can prove invaluable with helpful advice. There are many competitions, which I don?t usually bother with ? through lack of time, but I do have a look at the caption competition. Ukparents pick a strange baby photo and invite you to caption it, you can read everyone?s answers too! Top tips ? where other parents give you the benefit of their experience can be a good read and give you a helpful tip that you have never thought of. If you post a tip, then you also get 25 points on their reward scheme! The reward scheme is one where you accumulate points each month for taking part in various activities on the site including top tips, ask the parents, online diaries etc. You get different amounts of points for different things. And the top 3 people win
a prize ? this hasn?t been me yet unfortunately (and I had loads of points last month!) but its not so much the winning as the taking part which makes the online community. I?d do it without the points, but they are a great incentive to get people going! A very important part of the site (in the forum area) is the buying, selling & swapping boards where you can pick up 2nd hand items you need for your children or yourself & you can sell on anything you don?t need. I have bought lots of cloth nappies here on the Buy & Sell nappies forum as I couldn?t afford any new ones with my hubby out of work. Right, now to the message boards or forums to give them their official name! The forums are great and are a brilliant way to sound off all your concerns, worries, joys, hopes, fears, problems, elation etc. as there is nearly always someone there listening who can put your mind at rest, share your dilemmas, have a laugh or whatever. On these message boards (of which there are probably about 100 to choose from ? see below), you can post a query or message to other parents in the same circumstances as you and then visit back later to see the replies. You can gain a lot of support and advice from other people who are going through similar issues. You need never feel you are alone. Some of the boards have the feature for you to remain anonymous such as the Trying to conceive, Post birth sexual problems, Domestic Violence etc. This way a member can get the help and support that they need without revealing their identity. The server does make a note of who posted, but no-one on the board will ever find out who you are. The list of forums is huge (see below) ? General Forum ? The Debating Forum ? Buy & Sell - Sales ? Buy & Sell - Wants ? Buy & Sell - Nappies ? Swaps Board ? Email Friends ? UKparents Recommend ? 'Where to find...' ? Help other UKparents ? New Ways to W
ork Most Popular Forums Baby Names ? Birth Experiences ? Breastfeeding ? Cloth Nappies ? Eco-Friendly Menstrual Products ? Help other UKparents ? Infant Potty Training ? Miscarriage ? MMR and Vaccinations ? Parents on a Budget ? Post Natal Depression ? Potty Training ? Sleeping Issues ? Starting School ? Stay at Home Parents ? Twins & More ? Working from Home ? Working UKparents Main Communities Trying to Conceive The Bumps Club: For Expectant Parents Parents of Newborns Parents of Under 1's Parents of Toddlers 1-3 Parents of Pre-schoolers 3-4 Parents of Juniors 4-9 Parents of Pre-teens 9-13 Parents of Teenagers 13-16 Specialised Communities Adoptive / Fostering Parents Bereaved Parents Dads Only Diabetic Mothers Disabled Parents Epileptic Mothers Ex-pats First Time Parents Grandparents Only Kids Large Families Lesbian Mums Mixed Race Parents Motherless Mothers Mums 35+ Parents in the Forces Parents of Boys Parents of Children with a Large Age Gap Parents of Children with a Small Age Gap Parents of Girls Parents of 'Only' Children Parents of Twins & More Parents on a Budget Parents Under 21 Parents with a Big Age Difference Parents Working from Home Single Parents Stay at Home Parents Step Families Student Parents Working UKparents There are Antenatal clubs where you can talk to other mums to be who are due in the same month as you ? great to compare notes! (It would be very difficult for me to decide which month to be in as I tend to go way overdue with my babies! 14 days (till induced) & 10 days (happened naturally after sweep!) Gender Selection IVF & Subfertility Pregnant/TTC after Miscarriage Pregnancy Baby Names Big Babies! Caesarean/VBAC Foetal Abnormaliti
es & Birth Defects High Risk Pregnancy Home Births Miscarriage Pregnancy Issues Scans & Tests Waterbirths Attachment Parenting and Co-Sleeping Birth Experiences Bottle-feeding Breastfeeding Cloth Nappies Colic & Other Ailments Contraception Disposable Nappies Green Parenting Infant Potty Training Losing Weight MMR & Vaccinations Post Birth Sexual Problems Post Natal Depression Premature Babies Special Care Babies Weaning Toddlers Bedwetting Bilingual Kids Child Daycare Discipline Feeding Toddlers Potty Training Training Pants Walking & Talking Schoolies (4+) Bullying Home Education School Education Starting School You and Your Child's Health Allergies Child Disabilities Child Safety Complementary Medicine Domestic Violence Eco-friendly Menstrual Products High Need Children Nutrition Sleeping Issues Special Needs Kids Vegetarian Diet Your Health Just for Fun! Big Brother (TV show) Current Affairs My Relatives! Pesky Problem Kids! Pets & Animals Sports & Activities for your Kids Sports and Sporting Events Toys & Games Travel & Holidays TV, Books & Films So as you can see, it is a very big, diverse community & almost everything you need for parenting advice is here! I would rate this site very highly as a great mine of information, support & a useful tool to help to any parent. Parenting is a hard enough job & you don?t get a practice run to hone your skills, this way, at least you can learn from other people?s successes & failures and can avoid some of the pitfalls! I have even chatted to several grandmothers who are brushing up their skills to look after their grandchildren! If you are a parent, then have a visit & see what?s available as there is something for eve
More tales of poo-scraping!!!! Well as I said before, I never thought that I would ever use cloth nappies as I was very adverse to the idea of scraping out pooey nappies! I thought disposables were great & I was very glad to bin the contents of my sons' behinds! However, things changed when I started to get a bit worried by how many nappies were going into the bin at the end of every day with 2 children under 2 and also the cost started to really mount up with them both using a packet of nappies each a week so I decided to look into using reusable nappies. I started using prefolds & terries which worked pretty well, but I still couldn't persuade my husband to put a cloth nappy together. A baby, a cloth square, pins & plastic pants are far too complicated for a man! (or that is the excuse) I also started to run into trouble with the fact that my son has a very big bum & I couldn't get him in the car seat with a terry nappy on! I had to re-think my strategy so I've invested in some second hand Kooshies Ultras. Kooshies Ultras are all in one nappies - they are waterproof & do up with velcro tabs at the sides i.e. no need for pins or plastic pants. They resemble a disposable so therefore my husband can use them!!!! The outside of the nappy is waterproof & this can be plain or patterned & the inside is made of thick soft layers of cotton with a flap booster bit which lifts up to help the nappy dry quicker. The elasticated leg cuffs seem to hold all the nappy contents quite well too! These nappies seem to work very nicely on both my sons. I tend to "boost" them, which means that I add either a couple of kooshie booster pads or a folded soft bit of cloth or terry face cloth (don't worry I don?t use them on my face again LOL!) to make the nappy hold more wee. Another useful thing is a nappy liner - a small bit of thin papery material which is used to catch any solids. This makes cleaning the nappy much easier
& less unpleasant as the liner can be flushed down the loo with all the nasty brown bits. Once a nappy is used & I've scraped the solid bits down the loo with the flushable liner, the dirty nappy goes into a bucket of water to soak to avoid any staining! I don?t use any detergent in the bucket as it can rot your nappies so that they don't last as long or work as well! Wet nappies can go straight in the main white wash as its only a bit of wee (urine is harmless & sterile) and they can be washed at 40 degrees. At the end of 24hrs round up all the pooey nappies from your bucket and do them at 60 degrees with normal detergent (I like to put them through a short rinse wash first!) & they will come out sparkling and white. I have been told that fabric softner makes them less absorbent and that vinegar can make them more absorbent! Using them is really easy & about as convenient as disposables. The nappies are best dried outside naturally, but I use a warm radiator or the airing cupboard pipes as due to the thickness they can take a while to dry. Cloth nappies are much more environmentally friendly as they don't go into landfill sites & if you dry them naturally (not in the tumble drier) they use less energy. They also are a lot cheaper. On average it costs up to £500 a year for disposables, so about £1000-£1500 by the time you have potty trained. If you use cloth nappies, then it can cost £200-£250 new depending on the nappies that you choose. I have bought my nappies second hand so I have saved even more money! You can also use cloth nappies on any subsequent children so they are a really good investment especially if you plan to have other children and you can sell them on once you have finished with them! If you are interested in cloth nappies, try Ukparents (www.ukparents.co.uk) where people sell re-usable nappies & wraps and you can also get good advice off other mums who use them. (You might even make a few friends too!) <
br>Ebay (www.ebay.co.uk) is another good source of reuseables. If you want a nappy with the ease & convenience of a disposable, but environmentally friendly, then this type of nappy is for you! And as I said before, if I can do it (as a busy mum in a 1 bed flat with 2 kids) anyone can LOL!
Online friends Initially it sounds very strange to have people that I have not even met, who I consider to be my friends, but in the days of cyber space I think it is now more the norm, than unusual! (Although my mum still thinks that I am a bit mad & cannot get her head round the idea.) Nowadays most homes have the Internet and most people communicate with other people while online, so it is inevitable that you may end up with some cyber pals. Although it is wise to be cautious about who you give your details out to! When my first son was born in April 2000, I had to spend more time at home as I was no longer working and had a new baby to look after. It was a complete culture shock to me to spend so much time at home and with so much more time on my hands (even with a baby!), so I started to use the Internet for recreation and due to a more limited ability to get out in the evenings, I started to transfer my social life to the computer! This might all sound very sad to the uninformed, but its not quite like that. I am not a nerdy person & hopefully you would find out that I was very normal! For those who are stuck at home with children, or who are too ill to go out or who are too shy to meet people, then the computer may be an ideal way to form friendships and have some form of communication with others. It can stop the sense of isolation and loneliness which might otherwise be overwhelming. The computer is an invaluable communication tool and there have been many times when the computer has been a life line to me. Staying at home with a baby (who much as I love him, he does not provide very stimulating conversation & is prone to driving me up the wall!!!) it can be very easy to become depressed (& I have suffered from Postnatal depression). There were many times that the fact that there has been someone else on the other end of the computer, another human being out there to talk to - meaning that I am not on my own has something that I c
ould not have done without. As a new mum, I joined the Motherandbaby.co.uk site (now gone unfortunately). This was a whole new experience to me as being a mum seems to give you an immediate bond with any other mum ? despite whatever your social standing, race or creed you, you are all united by the trials and tribulations of childbirth & raising your kids. Childbirth is a great leveller & we all seem to revel in gory (or otherwise) stories of our labours and the funny things that our kids do! I made many friends in the chat room on that site & I met some lovely people who have really been true friends to me despite the distance & despite never even meeting up! The people I've met and stayed in contact with have been lovely, genuine people, for instance, when I was expecting my 2nd son ? one Internet friend lent me baby equipment & sent girls clothes to a friend of mine who didn?t have any for her new daughter. I have also sent things to other friends so there is definitely a sense of community despite the distances involved. When the Mother and baby chat room closed along with the site, we moved to MSN messenger service and carried on our private conversations & that way & I am still in contact with quite a number of people from the site. I now go to a different parenting site chat room & am friends with many people in that chat room, but I still prefer the company of my friends from M&B who I have now known for about 2 years. People may say, that they are not ?true? friends because we have never met up, but I dispute that. A friend is someone who is there for you & who will listen to you & offer you help and advice & I can say that about many of my Internet friends. Last year was one of the hardest of my life & there were some very dear people helping me through it who I could laugh & cry with, people who I have never seen in person (but I've seen photos of them!). It may seem strange, but the world is changing and there are some g
reat people online, but I would be very wary of meeting up with people that I hadn't known for a long time. Some of my friends I have known for 2 years & I would like to met up with them, but sadly the distances involved are too great. Maybe one day? Anyway, whatever happens, we?ll keep on meeting up night after night in cyberspace (so long as MSN is working!) and be there for one another in a cyber community. It may be different, but the friendships are no less valid.
I never thought that I would ever use cloth nappies as I was very adverse to the idea of scraping out pooey nappies!, as far as I was concerned I was quite happy to sling the used nappies in the bin and forget about them! However, things changed since the birth of my second child. I started to get a bit worried by how many nappies were going into the bin at the end of every day with 2 children under 2 and also the cost started to really mount up with them both using a packet of nappies each a week! I started to think about cloth nappies when my son was getting very bad nappy rash and I thought that a cloth nappy would let his skin breathe a bit more than disposables just to get him better. I dug out some old terry nappies that my mum had given me "just in case". When she gave me them I never thought that I would ever actually use them other than as sick cloths or to protect the furniture! My first experiment was done only while at home when I put my son in a terry nappy and as I didn't have any plastic pants I used a Sainsbury?s bag with two holes cut in the bottom for legs! I used the handles to tie it round his waist!!!! It looked really funny, but it worked pretty well for round the house and his bum rash cleared up quite quickly. (I know that you will all think I?m insane now!) Anyway, this got me thinking about properly using cloth nappies. I saw a new set of Mio Bambino prefold nappies on ebay with a wrap, nappy pins & liners, so I thought that I would try it out properly! Prefold nappies are like a thick soft cotton pad with an extra padded panel bit down the middle for those who of you who don?t know! You can then fold the sides of the nappy inwards to make it fit your baby. It then does up with two nappy pins, one at each side. Mind your fingers as well as the baby LOL! I find that the prefolds are best boosted as it makes them hold more wee. You can use booster pads or a bit of absorbent thick c
otton material (I have got some material from the carboot sale similar to the nappy material & it works really well to make the nappy hold more & last longer. My son wees for England so I have to put the extra material there! You need to use nappy liners to catch the solid bits (eurghh! this is where I go all squeamish and long for disposables.) The solid bits go down the loo with the flushable liner and the dirty nappy goes into a bucket to stew (sorry soak!) I think if only I could tell what my son was going to do, he would get a disposable for the poo & cloth nappies for wee lol! Anyway, joking apart, dealing with the nappies is really easy. Weed ones (my favourites!!!) can go straight in the main white wash as its only a bit of wee (urine is harmless & sterile) and the pooey ones need to go straight in a bucket of water to soak as you don?t want nasty indelible brown poo-stains lol! At the end of the day round up the pooey ones from your bucket and do them at 60 degrees with normal detergent & they will come out sparkling and white. I have been told that fabric softner makes them less absorbent and that vinegar can make them more absorbent, but I haven?t yet dared to add vinegar for fear of smelling like a fish & chip shop! Another foible of cloth nappies is that after you have washed the prefolds 5 or 6 times, they actually work better and look softer and more fluffy! The last important thing to note is that if you use cloth nappies, you will need a nappy wrap or plastic pants to prevent the inevitable leak without them. You can get a wide variety of wraps but I use the Mio Bambino diaraps which are shaped like a disposable nappy. They are rubber lined with material on the outer bit, they have elasticate waist and leg cuffs and they do up easily with velcro. I also use plastic pants sometimes if all the nappy wraps are in the wash as they work very well too (wash the wraps at 40 degrees not 60!) Anyway, cloth nappi
es are a great idea, a lot of us were brought up in them before disposables! They aren't so damaging the environment. OK they still need washing & detergent, but at least they won't be filling up a landfill tip site. They also are much cheaper on your pocket in the long run (my main incentive!). You also don't have to buy them new, you can buy them off friends who have finished with them, or there is a big buying & selling cloth nappies forum on Ukparents (www.ukparents.co.uk) where people sell reusable nappies & wraps and you can also get good advice off other mums who use them. (You might even make a few friends too!) I got mine off ebay (www.ebay.co.uk) which is another good source of reuseables. The bottom line (pardon the pun) is that if I can do it, anyone can LOL!
MAWS HEAT SENSOR BOTTLES I normally use Avent bottles and have never bought anything else, but recently I ran low on bottles. My eldest son kept hiding them & I didn't find them until they had gone green & had to go in the bin (yeuch!). Anyway, I was at the carboot sale (as per usual LOL!) and someone sold me a MAWS steriliser with 3 new bottles for only £2. As I can?t get one Avent bottle for that price, I didn?t mind trying them out. The MAWS heat sensor bottles are a wide necked bottle with a wide teat which is really good for babies that were previously breastfed or who are having mixed feeding (breast & formula). The wide neck is also very good for getting the formula in the bottle, although I still tend to miss while half asleep! The Heat sensor strip runs down the side of the bottle & lets you know whether the milk is at the right temperature or not. Pink is too hot & mauve is just right. This is useful, but I think it's a bit of a gimmick, the old fashioned test on the back of the wrist is just as good! The bottles are very attractive with mint green locking rings & see through mint caps. The measurements on the bottles are very good and are clearly marked. I find them clearer than on the Avent bottles - the oz & ml measurements are closer as well. The teats have a cross shape on them which is good as they can be used for all ages as the teat flow adjusts with the sucking. This means that you can keep the same teats as your child grows. This is very cost effective as the Avent bottles require you to change the teats for teats with different numbers of holes for different ages which can get very expensive at £2.29 for 2 teats! (I normally have a whole set of 12 bottles too!) Two major disadvantages with the MAWS bottles are that the teats are very thin & have a tendency to collapse which is not very good (the Avent teats don't collapse) My younger son (7mths) gets on fine with the MAWS bott
les, but my elder son (just turned 2) cannot get on with them at all - the teats always collapse for him - so maybe they aren?t so good for older children? I would still recommend the Avent bottles over the MAWS bottles, but the MAWS ones are a very close second and are better value for money.
Baby Dan Premier Pressure gate This opinion isn't very long as there is only a limited amount you can say about a safety gate!, but I had such a bad experience with this gate that I felt compelled to write! Safety gates are normally ideal to keep your toddlers out of the kitchen, bathroom, off the stairs or anywhere else that they aren't supposed to go & believe me wherever they aren't supposed to go - there you will find your toddler LOL! Safety gates normally work really well to keep toddlers confined to where you want them. I got this safety gate not through personal choice, but because I live in a Sure start area and as my hubby is currently out of work it meant that we could get a home safety pack for £5. This pack included the Baby Dan Premier Pressure Gate. The gate looks nice, you have a choice of colours including silver, white, white & dark grey etc. (I personally didn't have a choice - I had to have the one given to me which was white & dark grey - if I had a choice it would have definitely been the silver one!) It was fairly simple to fix to the wall but the instructions were ridiculously complicated - I used the cups to fix it into position as I wanted it to stay in the same position for a long period of time. It does say that you don't need to put any cups up but I thought that it was safer to do so. Operating the gate is not very simple, to get through it, you have to lift up the handle, push a button in & then lift it up to go through it. This mechanism is very fiddly and annoying & especially irritating if you have to go through frequently. It really started to drive me up the wall! I certainly would not recommend it. I have 2 Lindam squeeze handle gates already which are really simple to use (squeeze handle & walk through), so I particularly did not like this gate. The worst thing is that after only a couple of days use, the gate actually broke! My little son (a very ligh
tweight two year old!) tried to force by me while I was lifting the gate up to go through it & it came right off on one side & now is unusable. When I told the people at Sure Start, they told me that other gates had also broken. My personal opinion is that the gate is very badly designed, difficult to use & I would not recommend it to anyone. I must admit that I am surprised as I thought that Baby Dan was a good make, but this product is definitely one to be avoided. My personal recommendation is the Lindam squeeze handle gate for hassle free use!
I recently purchased a Cossatto Cygnet pushchair for my oldest son as my younger son stole his Graco Citisport! I was looking for a light umbrella fold buggy with a hood, raincover, swivel wheels & lie-back seat. I thought that I had a bargain when I saw the Cosatto Cygnet buggy on Yahoo auctions & I bought it for £45 (£35 & £10 postage). Well it arrived in excellent condition and I was sure that it was a great saving on buying a new one (approximately £85). I was really pleased with it until I took it out of the front door and tried to steer it with my toddler in it! It was absolutely awful, I've had supermarket trolleys that steer better than this buggy! There was nothing wrong with the buggy itself and it looked like new without a mark on it, so I can only assume that it is very badly designed and very heavy on the back wheels. I really don't like it at all. After having the Graco Citisport which is excellent - I feel that the Cossatto buggy is like trading in a Ferrari for a skoda! My husband likes the fact that the handles are very high and suitable for him as he is very tall but he isn't gone on the steering either. I will go over the main features of the buggy - many of which I feel are thoroughly lacking. This buggy has a very attractive colourway of yellow & blue. (I have also seen blue & green). It looks very smart & stylish & I feel quite happy pushing such a nice looking buggy around! WEIGHT It is not exactly lightweight! It seems to be around 9-10kg which makes it heavier than many umbrella fold buggies. I'm not exactly sure why it is so much heavier, but this needs to be borne in mind. HANDLE HEIGHT The handle height is very good - I'm 5ft 10" & I felt that the handles were very high! Normally on buggies, the handle is too low! My hubby is nearly 6ft 2" and he found the handle height very comfortable. STEERING, SUSPENSION & WHEELS The steering of this bugg
y is really awful, it has front swivel wheels, but it feels like you are dragging a lead weight around the corner when you try and turn it. It is harder than a supermarket trolley to get it to go where you want it to. When the infant seat is fully reclined, for some reason this makes the buggy a bit easier to steer which may be fine if you have a newborn, but if you have a toddler in it, then you will be going nowhere fast. I also do not like the way that you constantly need two hands on it to get it to go any where near where you want it to go. I like to be able to push the buggy with one hand occasionally and with this buggy, you are unable to do so. You can't go round tight corners easily either. The buggy has nice big wheels, but it's no good on a buggy that wont go where you want it to & it's a huge effort to push it. The swivel wheels are lockable but so fiddly to work out whether they are locked or not! The suspension is average - not bumpy, but nothing special. BRAKES The brakes are very bad. They kick on with a pedal over one of the wheels & a lever is supposed to pull the brake down on the other wheel - however, it doesn't always lock it on properly. I have also noticed that the brakes even if you get them on properly, they knock off way too easily. I have had them come off several times and I've only had the buggy a couple of weeks! They are not good at staying locked - this is a very negative point as good brakes are much safer. THE SEAT & HARNESS This buggy lies back completely flat for newborns & has several seat positions. It is a bit fiddly to work out the seat mechanism and I don't find it that easy to get it to go down sometimes. You have to do each side at the same time which can make it difficult. The harness is very good as the top straps are secured at the top of the buggy which means that they won't slip off your baby. FOLDING, THE CARRY STRAP AND CARRYING THE
BUGGY Folding the buggy is simple in theory, you push up two levers of the folding mechanism at the back of the pram and push it forward & it should fold into an umbrella fold. Unfortunately sometimes it gets stuck while are folding it - the seat raising mechanism catches and gets stuck - very annoying if you are trying to get the buggy down in time for the bus & you start to struggle with it! You certainly cannot fold it one handed or while holding your baby. The shutting clip is fiddly and also has a very annoying habit of coming off when you are carrying it or put it down! RAINCOVER & HOOD It has a hood to shield the baby from the sun or rain and it is really easily opened and shut with a small clip. It comes complete with a raincover which is very good as buying a good raincover separately can cost up to £20! However, it is only a small piece of plastic that goes over the front - it doesn't cover the back of the seat or basket. BASKET It comes with a cloth basket hanging underneath, but this is not overly large & I haven't used it as it is very shallow & stuff could fall out of it. OVER ALL - I would say don't get this buggy, it's cumbersome, difficult to steer, heavy, the brakes aren't good and you could get a much better alternative such as the Maclaren Daytripper for much less or better still, get a Graco Citisport! (see my opinion on it if you are interested!) You can't get an easier, lighter, better buggy to use than the Citisport!
After reading a highly amusing account of public transport, I decided to jot down my equally dubious experiences. This time on the London bus service. I moved down to London in 1992 to go to University, and happily due to the close proximity of my halls of residence to the campus (bang on the door step!) and the fact that I was very central, I didn't have to encounter the joys of a London bus very often. When I did need to travel, I usually used the tube, which despite the moans, it generally seems to run fairly smoothly, usually on time and seems to be used mainly by sane people! However, all changed when I moved into a flat which was further out and only truly accessible by buses. Wow - what an eye-opener! Now, for the last seven years, my life has been dominated by the trials and tribulations of using the London bus service with all its quirks & foibles. I also hate to think quite how long of those 7 years I have spent at the bus stop waiting - sometimes it feels like half. GUIDE TO THE LONDON BUS SERVICE BUS DRIVERS The bus driver is a very strange breed - occasionally you find a happy, polite one (obviously first day on the job), but more usually it is driven by a psychopath on day release from the local hospital with no social graces or any regard to human life or property. I maintain that the usual bus drivers job interview is on the lines of:- - Do you hate people? - Do you have a problem with society? - Can you be rude to the public consistently? - Can you drive like a maniac - but without actually crashing the bus? - Do you have an attitude problem? (any one will do) An answer of Yes to any or all of these questions ensures sure employment. Occasionally they let a "normal" person drive the buses just to confuse the passengers and to fill the equal opportunities quotas of actually employing some people in full charge of their faculties. DRIVING THE BUS (only
usually done by the driver ( but if he goes missing on a change over - the passengers start making threats of mutiny.) Driving a bus generally consists of driving at break-neck speed between stops & on reaching (or over-shooting) the next stop involves the slamming off the brakes as hard as possible while watching the passengers go flying. (You may knock one over if you are lucky.) Once at the stop the fun begins, open the doors, shout at passengers to hurry up, then mumble at them, give them their change in 1p pieces, refuse to lower the bus for easy pram access and pick on some poor unsuspecting bloke and demand him to come back 3 times to inspect his (valid) bus pass. Turn a passenger away for having a £5 note (feel the power), take a dislike to someone who says something about your attitude, turn off the engine of the bus & tell the passengers that "we aren't going anywhere until the passenger gets off the bus" (these stand offs can last 5-10+ minutes while the irate passenger who has waited for 40 minutes pleads to be allowed to remain. Tough luck, the driver is really enjoying his 5 minutes of power and it's gone to his head, the passenger eventually has to leave - but not before the whole bus has joined in the argument either supporting the passenger or wanting him off as quickly as possible so they can get moving again. Anyone who stands up for the evicted passenger usually finds that they are threatened with the same fate. This shuts everyone up. Eventually off we go again. The driver is now running very late, so despite frantic waving by would be passengers at the bus stop, he slows down & then speeds off sharply past the stop while the long queue of people salute him with V signals. (The driver is really tripping now.) Unfortunately for the people in the queue, the bus behind, as buses always travel in convoy (they are a naturally gregarious species) also thinks this is a good idea and speeds off past them too, lea
ving them even more irate, more late and more fuming. I have noted that Driving Past The Bus Stop is a phenomena that particularly occurs when its raining, extra cold or dark. (The drivers now have a manic grin.) And so it goes on from bus stop to bus stop for the entire shift - the passengers getting grumpier and the driver getting more kicks. THE PASSENGERS A strange motley crew of people who would never normally even associate, all tightly packed in together and forced to remain civil to each other (most of the time anyway), all from different countries and some from different planets - all united in their main cause - to get to their destination - hopefully on time. PENSIONERS are usually OK (but tend to moan a lot) or say in extremely loud voices, extremely embarrassing things - such as "She looks like she's going to drop it any minute!" when a heavily pregnant woman walks by! (We all cringe & hide under the seats.) MUMS WITH BUGGIES - The bright ones park in the buggy spaces, the dim ones put the buggy in the middle of the gangway & wonder why noone can get past them. THE TODDLER - a strange beast not even understood by its parents or even itself. Unable to sit still for even half a minute and certainly unable to complete a full journey without a tantrum - followed by rolling about with legs thrashing - all because Mum wouldn't let them eat a dog biscuit covered in fluff off the floor. Unfortunately toddlers are synchronised so that at least one of them is programmed to howl incessantly and inconsolably all journey (I hope it's not mine!), while its mother frantically tries to control it while turning crimson from embarrassment at it's behaviour. Heaven help you if all toddlers present exhibit this trait at the same time. SCHOOL KIDS - arghhhh! Between 3 & 4pm someone turns out the local zoos & they all get on the bus, loud, noisy, showing off, jumping up & down all over t
he bus & even climbing the poles! "Normality" only starts to return round about 5pm when they have all been rounded up again. THE SHOPPING TROLLEY PUSHER - yes, there is always one and apart from a perfectly sane granny with a bad back, almost invariably, anyone pushing a shopping trolley (especially when young) is truly insane and the bigger the trolley, the loopier the pusher (is this where that famous phrase "off your trolley" comes from ? I wonder?) The biggest rows I have ever seen on buses have been caused by someone let out for the day with a trolley. Take note & avoid. THE MOBILE PHONE USER - we all use them, but then there is the archetypal loud phone user who is louder than Dom Joly from Trigger Happy TV. "Hello" they tell the bus & start to divulge (exciting) details such as "I'm on the bus!", "I had McDonalds for tea" & "I've been shopping". If you listen (you have no choice) you may actually hear something truly embarrassing as my hubby did & was laughing all the way home, which brings me on to the next subject. PEOPLE WHO DISCUSS THEIR SEX LIVES LOUDLY - erm yes, it's true - you know who you are and we are STILL laughing at what we overheard - and don't think that you can get away with saying it in a foreign language either! THE DRUNK - There is always the obligatory drunk, every rush hour bus has one (are they employed by the bus company?) They get on with the maximum fuss and shout in a loud slurred voice for everyone to hear for the whole journey. They ramble at anyone who would care to listen to them (and everyone else who doesn't want to), eventually they get off (by falling out the door usually just before your last stop) - much to the relief of all the other passengers. THESE MUST BE OBSERVED Manners when travelling on a bus (rules) 1) When bus arrives - push to front of the queue, jump over anyone with a pram and
elbow the pensioners out of the way. It doesn?t matter if you were the last to the bus stop, it just matters that you get on the bus - and first! 2) Ignore anyone who needs help to get on the bus - you don't want to strain yourself do you? Particular ignore mums with arms full of babies & pushchairs & old ladies with shopping. 3) Find a seat, sit in it and for goodness sake don't move from it, if you do, someone more deserving might get it & we can't have that can we? Close your eyes, read your paper, look at your watch, stare out of the window ? do anything to avoid eye contact with the standing pregnant woman, the ninety year old lady and the man holding two children while the bus lurches from stop to stop. 4) If anyone requires the seat next to you - make sure that they can't sit there, by either sitting on the edge on the seat near to the central aisle or by putting an enormous bag on it. If anyone asks you to move your bag, huff & puff, look EXTREMELY PUT OUT (how could anyone be so unreasonable?), move the bag extremely slowly and allow the person to sit on half the free seat. If they ACTUALLY want you to move, swivel your bum sideways and make them squeeze past you even if they are 8 months pregnant. 5) If anyone bumps into you, make sure you cause a massive argument which results in you asking them to "step outside". CATCHING A BUS Easier said than done this one! Firstly allow a good half hour extra to your journey time, this way the bus will be on time & you will arrive early at your chosen destination. Woe betide you if you are running behind, as running behind on a personal level ALWAYS results in at least a 40 minute wait for the bus guaranteed! (Try it if you don't believe me!) Ignore the timetable, I've no idea why these are printed - maybe to give the passengers a false sense of security? To give them something to read & do while waiting? To reassure them that after 30 minutes
of waiting that the bus will surely turn up as it's supposed to be every 10 minutes or maybe they had too much A4 paper at the depot that just had to be used up? What ever the reason, the timetable doesn't actually bear any resemblance to reality and reading them is a complete waste of effort - unless of course you want to know which direction that the bus is travelling (that is if it actually turns up at all.) What ever you do, don't leave the bus stop and decide that it would be quicker to walk. This may be theoretically true, but one of two things always happens. If you stay at the bus stop, the bus will be another 20 minutes, if you leave, as soon as you get too far to get back - along will come the bus and sail past you. If you started to walk, on no account run towards the next stop to reach the bus, the driver will see you, slow down the bus & appear to wait - then as you approach the bus, he will close the door in your face and drive off - leaving you breathless and him with a manic grin on his face. You made his day, but was it worth it? If by any chance, despite all this, you got on the bus, you actually made it to your destination on time and all was well, don?t worry, they will catch you out next time - you have been warned.