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There's a House Inside My Mummy - Giles Andreae 08/07/2007

There's a house inside my MUMMY

There's a House Inside My Mummy - Giles Andreae A fantastic, fun book, written especially for a 2 year old about the impact a brother or sister will make to his every day life. On discovering that I was expecting my second child, the question how do we tell our son and how do we prepare him for the change it will make to his life came about. Benjamin was 2 ½ when I became pregnant and although there are some good books out there, most were well beyond his level of understanding at the time. Off I trotted to my local Borders Bookstore highly motivated and hormonally charged. I struggled to find anything in the children’s department and being as I was and constantly having to run to the loo, there was no time to loose so I grabbed an assistant and she directed me straight to this one. I read through it in the shop and totally blubbered. It was exactly what I wanted. It was that good, I was still blubbering in the queue at the checkout! Written by Giles Andreae, known mostly for Purple-Ronnie, this book has a wonderful rhythmic pattern to it and has some fantastic, believable, yet most importantly for a two year old, tangible illustration of things that are happening to the child’s Mummy. He wrote it for his own child. From the title, you get the hint that it is going to explain everything that is happening to the person who is pregnant as if she has a house inside her and it’s written from a little boy’s perspective. It’s also written in the modern day where the Daddy spends a good amount of time with the boy ...

Members Advice on Tongue-tie 03/08/2006

Successful breastfeeding with a severe tongue-tie

Members Advice on Tongue-tie Tongue-tie affects 1 in 250 people. This is our family story of the first few months with our first son, Benjamin, who was born with a severe tongue-tie. I am writing about how we overcame those difficulties. I do hope that this becomes an encouragement to you out there, whether to help you persevere with breastfeeding, give you confidence to 'go against the flow' of some healthcare advice, or encourage you with whatever struggles you have. After trying to conceive for eighteen months we couldn't believe it when we got a positive reading from a pregnancy test and worked out I was about six weeks pregnant. From then on, as I was only working part-time, I did quite a bit of reading about pregnancy, birth and bringing up a baby. I had it all planned… an active birth with very little, if any, pain relief, 'breast is best', only stay in hospital one night after the birth, etc. We did a lot of talking to friends about their own experiences of pregnancy and birth and attended a local NCT class, which we found was exceedingly helpful. From then on we began to think of the 'what if' scenarios and tried to adopt a more flexible approach in my birth plan although I was adamant that I was going to breastfeed and even if our baby struggled to latch on at first, it would be easy after a little practice. After 40 weeks exactly including 2 ½ days of contractions, Benjamin was born weighing 6 lbs 8 ounces. It hadn't been the perfect birth - one very early trip to hospital to be sent ...

The Undomestic Goddess - Sophie Kinsella 03/08/2006

A laugh-out-loud book to read!

The Undomestic Goddess - Sophie Kinsella This is the first Sophie Kinsella book I've read and certainly won't be the last! My husband officially thinks I'm barmy as there are a number of scenes within this book that I just couldn't help laughing out loud whilst reading (not something I do regularly!). Sophie Kinsella's style of writing is such that it is a very easy read yet gripping and I just couldn't put the book down. It is written in modern day and it is clear that she researched certain elements well that are vital to the book such as the life-style of lawyers as well as housekeeping. *** MAIN STORY *** So the main story is based around Samantha. She is a very successful lawyer and working herself into the ground in the hope that she gets a partnership in Carter Spink, the most successful firm in the business. If she succeeds in this, she will become their youngest ever partner. Her life is one of organised chaos. She works all hours day and night. Her lifestyle is such that her day is split into 6-minute billable sections. She has no idea of anything to do with domestic life. She sends all her clothes to the dry cleaners, has a cleaner in, if the cleaner asks her how something mechanical works, she buys a new one! And on top of all this, she has no idea how to cook - not even the simplest of things. Her family are in similar jobs and frequently let her down for birthdays. Her mum has very high expectations of her. Not far into the book, Samantha realises she's made a dreadful professional mistake ...

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets - Eva Rice 25/07/2006

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets - Eva Rice This is a delightful read that I picked up in Asda a month ago. Some of you may be impressed to discover that it was of 2006 Richard and Judy's bookclub choice, although that didn't impress me. The book is a really enjoyable view into the life of an 18 year old, Penelope Wallace, and her family back in the 1950's. She is part of a very eccentric family and becomes friends with a more eccentric family. She had lost her father at an early age as he died fighting in the war and they live in a huge ancestral home that is far too big for them to afford to run and it is literally crumbling around them. The book is well researched and describes in great detail various aspects of the 50's such as Johnnie Ray, the discovery of Elvis's new style of music, fashion, food available at the end of the war, tea shops/café-life, transport, you name it, it's in here and all in great detail. Eva Rice writes in a very readable style although she has a great skill of making you more and more inquisitive about what's happening by supplying you with tiny amounts of information that you have to hang on to until later on in the book. Her use of description is the best I've come across in a long time - you really feel as if you know exactly where the characters are, what they look like and their characteristics. *** MAIN STORY *** Without giving too much away, this book takes you on a real journey, not only with Penelope but also with her brother, mother and three friends she comes to know: ...

Oasis Holiday Village, Lake District 02/06/2006

Centerparcs in Spring

Oasis Holiday Village, Lake District We recently returned to Centerparcs for a mid-week break. We had previously visited late November and it was lovely to return in a different season. We had enjoyed our previous visit so much and were so impressed with how well they catered for young families and accommodated our son's food allergies that we just had to go back. I know this review is quite long but feel it has to be to tell you about the vast array of things Centerparcs in Whinfell Forest has to offer you. PRE-REGISTRATION If you have internet access, which I assume if you're reading this you have, you can pre-register your group prior to arriving. This can be updated an altered until a few days before you're due to arrive. Details required are the names of each group member including age as well as your vehicle registration number, estimated time of arrival and details of all bikes you plan to take onto the site. This massively reduces the check-in time on arrival. ARRIVAL We turned off the A66 at the sign to Centerparcs. It's quite a drive into the forest from here so don't think you've made the wrong turning and don't worry if you see a few farmers and tractors on the way either. You'll eventually get to the security gatehouse where you'll be asked if you've been before and if you've got all your registration details to hand. If you have, you will be directed to follow the road to the left. The first time I got to the arrivals point, I couldn't believe my eyes. A flat roofed, rectangular building ...

The Accidental - Ali Smith 30/05/2006

A Great Summer Read

The Accidental - Ali Smith A superb summer read. I am not a huge avid reader by any means but wanted a novel to read whilst on holiday recently. I'm a fan of Isabel Wolff but just wanted something a bit different, a little more challenging on the brain. This book was the Winner of the Whitbread Novel Award 2005 and was also short listed for the Man Booker Prize the same year, so I thought I'd give it a try. The first thing that struck me immediately when I read the first page was the lack of speech marks! This might be trivial to you but as a teacher, I would have lots to say to my pupils if they produced a piece of writing without them in! I did find myself often re-reading passages once I realised they were being spoken by someone. How today's grammar and punctuation has changed. For me this was quite distracting although I'm sure many of you out there wouldn't be bothered and are quite used to reading novels in this style. The initial chapter begins with the person talking about his/her mother and the chapter comes to an abrupt ending. The next page is entitled 'The Beginning'. That's it, no text. At the end of this chapter, I found myself going immediately into another one without a title with the first line starting in the middle of the page without a capital letter. 'You what?' I thought, but continued to read! I just had to skim through the book as I was totally confused with the second chapter almost being a totally different novel. I cracked the code. The book is split into three main ...

Scan Swedish Meatballs Pork and Beef 23/05/2006

Munchable Meatballs

Scan Swedish Meatballs Pork and Beef What jumps into your head when you think about meatballs? Over processed, full of additives sludge? Well it's time to rediscover them again. We first tried these last year on holiday when we found them in the chilled cabinet of the local Somerfield Store. Since then we have bought Scan's Swedish Meatballs in both Sainsbury's and Tescos and they currently retail at £1.77 in Sainsbury's for a 350g pack. BEGINNING What you get is a plastic rectangle container that is sealed with a cardboard sleeve over this with all the information on. They come pre-cooked so are therefore ready to eat or you can reheat them either in a microwave for approximately a minute per portion or in the oven for just 15 minutes (just enough time to cook some pasta to accompany them). The portion recommendation is for 8 meatballs per serving which may seem a lot but they are small measuring less than 2cm in diameter. The main appeal that these have to us, as well as the taste, is that they are egg and dairy free so are suitable for my son's dietary needs. I must warn you however that other flavours of meatballs this company do can contain egg. You can freeze the meatballs but we've never bothered as the pack tends to come with a few weeks use by date on them. If you've watched recent horrific reports about the meat contents in some processed foods, you will be glad to know that there is a total of 73% meat in these pork and beef meatballs. Scan foods also ensure that premium quality ...

How Big is a Pig - Clare Beaton 09/05/2006

What a beautiful book

How Big is a Pig - Clare Beaton I was ordering a memory card from Amazon and, as always, felt obliged to look for a few books for my son to make up the money to get free delivery! Being 2 ½ I thought a book about opposites would be good as it's something we've not even considered teaching him yet. This one caught my eye immediately and I eagerly awaited its arrival. My immediate impression when I opened the book was that it was absolutely, without doubt, a really unusual and beautiful book. It is published by Barefoot Books, a company I've never come across before but will be looking out for in future. *** BAREFOOT PHILOSOPHY *** Apparently Barefoot Books' motto is, 'Walk the way of wonder'. They aim to represent many cultures through artist, writers and storytellers. Their stories promote understanding of different cultures and independence. Their books encourage harmony with the natural world, moving across different boundaries that haven't been crossed before. *** ILLUSTRATOR/AUTHOR *** Claire Beaton (picture below) illustrated this book. She worked for 8 years as an illustrator for children's TV programmes for the BBC. She has had almost 50 books published and is as very sought after creator of handcrafted picture books. Stella Blackstone has written songs, poems and rhymes as long as she can remember and has produced the rhyme for this book. *** LAYOUT/PICTURES *** Firstly, the layout is set over a double spread of the book producing eleven back drops for the text. The pictures ...

Letterbox 05/05/2006

Keep away from Children

Letterbox This is a great mail order catalogue full of unusual gifts and items for toddlers and primary aged children although not one to leave around if you have a 'I want…' child. There are items you find elsewhere but there are a lot of ones I've never seen and that is saying something as I'm rather a mail order shopaholic, particularly with children's catalogues! I first discovered Letterbox last Autumn when a friend gave me her catalogue as she felt her children were becoming a little too old for the products they sell. This review is predominately about their mail order service and catalogue although I will be referring to some aspects of their website the two orders I have placed from the catalogue, I have done so through the site. *** RANGE OF PRODUCTS *** The current Spring/Summer 2006 catalogue is reasonably weighty for a children's catalogue at 98 pages. There are twelve sections within the catalogue and are easily located via a coloured band along the bottom of the pages. OUTDOOR TOYS has everything from small sand moulds of the alphabet to large climbing frames unusual outdoor apparatus such as pedal racers. If you haven't experience these, they're fab. They're two flat foot-sized platforms linked together with a bar. There are wheels either side of the racer and basically when one platform is down, the other is up so you effectively cycle flat footed without holding on to anything… great fun. Had a go some years ago at an outward bound centre. PRACTICAL ...

My Potty Book for Boys 04/05/2006

The time has come...

My Potty Book for Boys You guessed it, potty training time! I had read all about it and decided it was time to take the big step for stage one of toilet training following Gina Ford's 'Potty Training in one week' book (don't worry the whole process does take longer than a week). Our problem was that our son just wouldn't sit on the potty! In an attempt to get over this hurdle (after a few weeks of leaving it around and trying to encourage him to sit on it) I searched Amazon's website and discovered this book. I bought it for £4.38 although I have since seen it advertised for £3.99 so look around! The book itself is a shaped board book consisting of 10 WIPEABLE pages. Each page has photographs of different boys investigating potties. They have used a variety of different boys which include many different races which gives it thumbs up multiculturally for a good book to have in nurseries. They have also used a variety of different styles of potties so one of them has a good chance of looking, at least a bit like yours. The pictures have been done in the current modern style against a bright white background. There are a variety of arrangements of the pages ranging from just one picture to up to three on a page. Sometimes the boys are looking at the camera, others are busy exploring. All but three pictures include potties; the first two don't as they talk about wearing a nice clean nappy and the end one shows a 'big boy' wearing underpants. There is a happy and mischievous feel to the book. ...

VTech Bob's Talking Telephone 25/04/2006

"Hello Bob"

VTech Bob's Talking Telephone Not only is this a great educational toy but it has an on/off button too! Our son received this for his 2nd birthday and it has been well used since. I wasn't a fan of VTech before this toy came into our house. For me, VTech symbolised sitting a child down with an electric book that reads the story to the child without having the interaction of another person. OK so I was wrong on that too, I have since seen a 4 year old use a Leapad and I was very impressed with the comprehension skills it encourages. I won't bother describing the phone too much as you can see it above but it is a reasonably big toy measuring approximately 23cm by 23cm. The telephone receiver fits snugly into the base so it doesn't fall out the minute you knock it although it doesn't need much strength to get it out either. Bob's hand slides to select which of the three modes of play you want to have a go at. The buttons are quite chunky so there is less chance of hitting the wrong one by accident and they light up when you press them. Currently retailing at £14.99, VTech suggest that this telephone is suitable for 2 to 4 year olds although I wouldn't be put off giving it to a younger child as they'd be rewarded by pressing the buttons. The toy takes 2 AA batteries which are concealed underneath this toy and secured with a screw. Firstly the microphone is build into the base, under where the phone sits, so you don't have to worry about your child's hearing as it is quite a loud toy. The thing I ...

Member Advice on Cerebral Palsy 20/04/2006

Benjamin - six months on

Member Advice on Cerebral Palsy I am writing this to fill people in on why I've not been on Ciao for a while and to share with you what has been going on in our family. I do not expect people to rate this. As some of you are aware, Benjamin was a bit late in getting to grips with walking and for a long time, we were just thinking that once he got going, he'd become more stable. We mentioned to his allergy consultant (he's severely allergic to milk and egg) our concerns and he said that he did think there was a medical problem which could be a tight tendon or, the worse case scenario, the mildest form of cerebral palsy. He referred us to another consultant and we had a difficult 6 weeks waiting to see him. Within minutes of seeing the consultant at the end of August, he confirmed that Benjamin had right hemiplegia, cerebral palsy affecting one side of the body. It is likely to have happened during pregnancy or birth and is very common to happen during a straight forward pregnancy and birth. The main cause would have been a bleed in his brain sometime. It's just one of those things that happen and I've been assured that I couldn't have prevented it happening. Overall, the outlook is very positive. The hemiplegia is mainly affecting his calf and ankle, making him walk high on his toes on his right side. He does have a mild weakness in his arm which we never realised as he's very strongly left handed. Since his diagnosis, many medical professionals said that if they knew of a child who was strongly left ... 17/04/2006

Kidsguide: how to keep them entertained I first discovered this site just under a year ago whilst searching the Internet and have found it really helpful on numerous occasions since. Initially I was part of a group of people setting up a new parent and toddler group and we were looking for places to advertise/inform people of the group. *** WHAT IS THE WEBSITE/WHO IS IT AIMED AT *** The website is a place to find out about local family events and services which include information of groups and events for pregnant women through to activities for teenagers. The area it supplies information on is focused on the south-side of the North West: it covers Chester, Cheshire, Ellesmere Port, Wirral, Warrington and Flintshire and Wrexham. The site was started only last year and currently receives up to 1700 hits a day. *** WHAT INFORMATION DOES IT CONTAIN *** You name it, everything that is required from birth to mid-teenagers: places to go including family friendly places to eat; what's on that month; sport events; shopping; clubs and classes; childcare; parties; and useful contacts including local government site links. *** HOW USEFUL/UP-TO-DATE IS THE INFORMATION *** The website's aims are for them to remain: free; instant; continually up to date; comprehensive; detailed and supportive of the local community. I recently contact the website owner to change my telephone number on our entry within the toddler groups section and it was changed within 24 hours. I can only assume that if everyone is as ...

Members Advice on Lactose/ Dairy Intolerance 11/04/2006

A Day in the Life of a Toddler's Diet (Milk Free)

Members Advice on Lactose/ Dairy Intolerance This review based on our own personal experience of having a child with a severe allergy to milk. He is also allergic to egg but for this review, I am focusing on milk which turns up more in food products anyway. I will briefly refer to products that we use regularly as substitutes as well as dietary advice we've be fortunate to receive from a paediatric dietician from our local hospital. There are a couple of reviews of products that relate to this review and rather than repeat myself I will put the links in although I DO NOT expect you to rate the reviews if you go to read them. This review is long but I believe it has many important elements in for people new to milk allergies. I N T R O D U C T I O N *** VERY BRIEF HISTORY *** Benjamin was breastfed from birth but I found expressing very difficult so I decided to use formula purely for breakfast cereals. With less than 5mls of formula, Benjamin had an anaphylactic reaction and I had to call 999. He was diagnosed as being allergic to milk initially but the allergy consultant asked us to also avoid fish and egg until he was older to be tested as these are commonly linked with milk allergies of this kind. At 13 months it was confirmed he was allergic to egg but when tested for fish at 19 months, it was negative so we are now able to slowly introduce fish into his diet. We have been told that the type of allergy that Benjamin has should go between the ages of 2 to 4, egg being the last to go [more info on initial ...

Early Learning Centre Soft Stuff People and Vehicle Shaped Cutters 30/03/2006

Hours of Fun to be had

Early Learning Centre Soft Stuff People and Vehicle Shaped Cutters We bought this tub of goodies soon after Christmas for our son. It is a bargain at just £5 and we are sure it will withstand many more hours of play. For those of you who have no idea what soft stuff is, it is ELC's own type of Playdoh. It is softer than the original Playdoh and the soft stuff that comes with this tub is very bright, almost florescent. You get four packets of soft stuff, red, yellow, green and blue, but they are small packets, I would say the equivalent to about a third of the quantity you usually get in a standard sized pot of Playdoh. Being softer, you don't need to 'work' it as much to loosen it up before you start modelling with it. The packets that they come in do not reseal and the big tub has a screw top which is not airtight so you can either store it by wrapping it in cling film, putting it in a sandwich bag and tying it or, like we eventually did, just add it to the rest in other Playdoh tubs. As well as that, you also get a white plastic play mat with all the characters and objects of the cutters printed around the side to form a border. As it is always stored in the tub, it has permanent creases in it. We get around this by sticking a bit of Playdoh underneath all four corners to attach it to the table. The shaped cutters themselves are lovely and robust made from hard plastic. They span 3 generations of people from children to parents to grandparents. They also have different vehicles including a truck, train, caravan and tractor. The ...
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