Second birthday plans finally confirmed

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s our eldest daughters second birthday tomorrow and we’ve finally decided what we’re going to do.

No party

We decided very early on that we weren’t going to have a birthday party this year. She’s still too young to really enjoy it and she would probably get overwhelmed. Instead it’s just going to be my wife, my 4 month old daughter, my parents and myself. We have most of the day planned out, but it’s all going to be about what our daughter wants on the day.

Plans

  • Have a nice breakfast and try and eat together. Recently we haven’t had our breakfast together as a family that much, often my wife is feeding our youngest whilst I give my eldest her breakfast. Otherwise I’m looking after the youngest whilst my wife has breakfast with the eldest. So tomorrow, on her birthday, we are going to try and have breakfast together. In addition we will probably try and give her a bit of a treat for breakfast rather than just her normal porridge. Maybe pancakes if she fancies it otherwise some nice fruit for in her porridge.
  • Open and play with presents. Although there are only a few of us here on the day, we have already received other presents from family and friends to give to her. this is in addition to the presents we are getting her. There are therefore a lot to open. We will probably only bring a few out at a time so she doesn’t get overwhelmed. Any she doesn’t want to be open can be saved for the afternoon or for another day.
  • Have a cupcake with 2 candles in. As there are only a few of us there tomorrow we have decided not to make a big cake, but to have some cupcakes instead. We are intending on making a cake to share at the local toddler group on friday, where all the children and adults can sing happy birthday to her. She loves cupcakes, or fairy cakes, as she calls them. She also normally like making them, but we have decided to make them ourselves this time so it will be a surprise tomorrow to get them.

 

  • Go out for lunch. Although not normally a fan of chain restaurants. We will probably go to Frankie and Bennys tomorrow as they do have a good childrens menu and usually make children feel very special on their birthday. As it’s a treat for my daughter rather than us as parents, this is probably where we will end up.
  • Have an afternoon nap and/or play with presents. With a bit of luck our daughter will be tired out, but not overtired and she will have a nice nap. After that she will be able to play with her presents till dinner time.
  • Chinese for dinner. For dinner we are planning on having a chinese meal. We have peking duck in the freezer and will probably make a sweet and sour dish as well as some prawn crackers as she absolutely adores those.
  • Normal bedtime routine. We will give her  a bath and do the normal bedtime routine, although we might give her some new pyjamas and/or a new duvet and duvet cover.

 

Thoughts and feedback.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, although I’m not sure if we would make many if any changes at this late stage. I’ll also write a follow up post in a few days time to let you know how it went. The main thing is that our daughter enjoys herself and I’m sure that by having a special day with just a small number of people she will.

 

 

 

 

 

The top five places to get free drinks in a child friendly environment.

Taking your child out most days can get very expensive. it is therefore always good when you can get something for free. Especially somewhere where your child feels comfortable and enjoys. Most of these free drinks entail joining a loyalty reward scheme, but all bar one are free to join.
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  • Waitrose:With the My Waitrose loyalty card you can get a free cup of tea or coffee every day. This is especially good in Waitrose stores that have a cafe as you can give your child their lunch/snack whilst you have a drink (and maybe a cake or sandwich if you want to spend some money). The card also gives you additional benefits such as a free newspaper, to read with your drink, when you spend £5 in store on weekdays or £10 at weekends. You can check for your nearest store and join the programme online here.
  • Toddler groups: I have 3 local toddler groups that I attend regularly. Not only are they great for the kids it’s also a great way of getting to know local parents. One group charges £1.50, another £2 and the third, which is church run, is free but asks for donations. the two paid ones run for about an hour and a half and they give free snacks to the children. The church one runs for an hour and don’t offer child specific snacks, but have biscuits which both adults and children can have. All of them offer  free tea and coffee and usually biscuits as well. This is great value compared to going to say a soft play which is much more expensive and don’t offer the routine of familiar faces.
  • IKEA: With the Ikea family card, which is free to join, you get unlimited free tea and coffees during weekdays (I wouldn’t want to take a child to Ikea at the weekend anyway) as well as discounts of food. A 6 piece breakfast comes in at £1.50 with the card which is amazing value considering the drink is free as well. They are also very child friendly with a play area withing the restaurant. The last time my daughter went she also loved going to the children’s showroom, where she was exploring ther beds and play tents that they had on display. For over 3 year olds they also have a creche where you can leave your child for an hour. To join Ikea family and/or to find your local store click here.
  • Dobbies Garden Centres: Although not technically free as it’s a paid membership it is very good value and my daughter loves walking around looking at the plants and indoor displays and especially the aquarium. To join the Garden Club costs £10, but you receive 2 vouchers to use each month, so 24 in total. As drinks are about £2.50 you effectively get £50 worth of drinks for £10. The restaurants are also very spacious and have a little play area. Also you get rewarded on money spent at the garden centre as well as 10% of plants so if you buy £100 worth of plants you will actually get a discount of £10, which is your membership fee as well as a £2 voucher in your annual statement. To find your local store and/or to join click here.
  • John Lewis: When we joined the My John Lewis reward programme we got several vouchers for a free drink and cake. This was always gratefully received. I have heard that John Lewis are changing their reward scheme so you might not get these vouchers. However it is free to join so is probably worth doing if you have a local store. To find out more and/or to join click here.
  • O2 priority: A bonus one for O2 customers. If you have an 02 phone you can get a free cup of coffee every Tuesday at Cafe Nero. If you like your coffee, and are not with O2, it might even be worth getting a free 02 pay as you go sim for an old phone to get this reward. To find out more click here.

What do you think of my suggestions? Can you think of any more, then let me know.

The List

Cooking fun with your Toddler: Ditch the processed supermarket and takeaway pizzas and make your own.

Cooking with your toddler or a child of any age for that matter can be extremely fun. It also teaches your child valuable life skills. Eating freshly prepared food is also a lot cheaper and healthier than processed food.

I’ve made pizza’s with my daughter since she was about 19 months and she absolutely loves it. This recipe is enough for 3 to 4 pizza’s, but you can freeze the remainder to give you a quick meal another day.

Ingredients you’ll need:

For the base:

  • 650g Strong White Flour
  • 375ml lukewarm water
  • 7g sachet of dried yeast
  • 25ml olive oil
  • a pinch of salt

For the tomato sauce:

  • tube of tomato puree 175g-200g
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-4 garlic cloves depending on taste
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of dried herbs (Oregano, Basil, Marjoram, etc) or you can use mixed herbs
  • 250ml water
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the topping:

Anything that you fancy really. Examples, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, sweetcorn, onions, olives, ham, chicken, pineapple. anything that you and/or your child fancy. Although I do recommend using cheese on top.

Method:

For the base:

  • Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a big bowl, add the olive oil then gradually add the lukewarm water. It is best to do this gradually as if you have slightly too much water your dough will become to sticky and you will need compensate with more flour.
  • Now comes the exciting part for your child. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes till it becomes elastic.
  • Put in a bowl and cover with a clean, damp tea towel and leave to rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. At this stage you can start on the tomato sauce and start preparing your topping
  • When ready knead again and separate into 3 or 4 balls.
  • At this stage you can freeze any balls you will not need
  • Roll out required balls on a flour covered surface and shape into pizza bases and put onto a baking tray or pizza stone

For the tomato sauce:

  • mix together all the ingredients except for the water.
  • gradually add the water until you reach your desired consistency, which could be quite a bit less than the full amount of water.

Putting it all together:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200c
  • Spread tomato sauce over the base, you can freeze the rest in batches to use with your remaining pizza bases.
  • Let your child decorate the base with the chosen toppings, you might have to even thing out after they have finished.
  • Sprinkle with grated cheese
  • Bake in pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes, until the edges start going nice and brown and the cheese has melted.
  • Enjoy

 

How did you get on?

I hope you like this recipe and try it out. I’d love to see photos of your homemade pizzas. I’ll hopefully be making this again in the next week or so, possibly today but my eldest is having a long nap, and will post the finished result.

 

 

 

 

 

Fisher-Price Kick & Play Piano Gym one of our best purchases.

When my wife wanted to buy the the Fisher-Price Kick and Play Piano Gym I thought she was just in a pre-baby spending mode. I saw there were a lot of cheaper gyms out there and suggested we got one of those. I’m so glad she put her foot down and we bought this.

This has been used since just after birth by both our daughters. They absolutely love kicking the piano and making the music come on. The attached toys are also just tantalizingly out of reach so they have to put a bit of effort in to get them.

Whenever I’m holding the baby and she won’t settle on me I put her down on the gym and she seems to settle straight away. It also seems to really help with wind as the kicking motion helps release it.

I would recommend this to anyone who is due to have a baby or has a newborn. I would have to say that my eldest probably lost interest at about 14 months, however now that her sister has arrived she likes going on it at the same time as her.

I would have to say that this gym is one of the best purchases we have made. It seems to distract the child for long enough for you to do something meaningful. From looking at the Amazon reviews it seems I’m not the only one who thinks this.

Dentists, Snow, Poo and pre-school, just another week.

The last week has been jam packed. And most of it has been fun so it’s been good but very tiring.

Dentistskids-dentist-clipart-biypEjx6T

 

We had a family trip to the dentists last wednesday and my eldest daughter was surprisingly well behaved, even though she did keep running from the waiting room to the consulting room to get books. She was a bundle of energy, but did manage to sit still long enough to have her teeth checked, which are all doing fine. She really loved the protective glasses and was enjoying putting them on. The dentist was also really good with her and gave her her own mirror to use so she could play whilst her teeth were being checked. I do recommend taking them to the dentists at an early age, at the same time as you’re having your teeth checked as it teaches them not to be scared of the dentists.

 

Snow

On Saturday we had a very fine layer of snow and in the morning there was still some snow falling. Our eldest loved it and would have probably played out in it all day. I really hope we get some proper snowfall soon as I cannot wait to see her reaction to that.

Poo StoriesPoop-floats

There have been two poo related stories this week, the first involved me fishing poo out of the bath as my eldest daughter decided that was the best place to do it. This has happened a few times and I think it’s the warm water relaxing her. In any case I’d rather have her do it there than be constipated and miserable at bedtime.

The second poo incident was a much better one as she asked for her potty and then proceeded to do a poo in it. This was a real proud daddy moment. This is the first time she’s ever done that and we haven’t properly started potty training yet. We did introduce the potty just before christmas, but then were away for two weeks and hadn’t got back to using it yet as she hasn’t seemed ready. We’ll have to start encouraging her to use it more.

Pre-School

This morning we took our eldest daughter for an introductory session at the local pre-school.  Our youngest tagged along, but was asleep the whole time. Our eldest will be starting after easter, but we just wanted to get a feel for the place and get an idea of what they would be doing with her. We were a little worried that she’d be fazed be a new experience, but she took to it like a duck to water. Pretty literally actually as she got soaked at the water table. She enjoyed it so much she didn’t even realize we were there as well and she cried when we had to leave. It was a great success and I’m looking forward to her gaining some independence when she goes there properly.

Other events

The rest of the week has been more mundane with the normal activities. We attended two toddler groups and had a play date which my eldest daughter always loves. We did shopping twice, including a trip to one of her new favourite places, Dobbies. She remembers it from the great christmas displays they had and although they’ve all been packed away for another year she still loves it. She especially likes the aquarium and just walking around looking at all the plants and garden ornaments. She could easily spend a good few hours there without getting bored.

Night times have been a bit of a disaster though as our youngest has decided that 4.30am is a great time to start the day. I don’t think my wife and I agree. Hopefully she’ll get into a better routine and be sleeping more consistently at night.

Looking forward to the coming week

All in all it’s been a great week and I’m looking forward to the next one. We haven’t got that much planned apart from the usual activities/toddler groups, etc. However i’m sure the week will bring up some surprises.

Review of Britax Dualfix extended rear facing car seat.

When our eldest moved up from her first car seat to her latest, the Britax Dualfix, we did a lot of research.

Britax Dualfix

Britax Dualfix

After all the online research we decided that an extended rear facing seat was the safest option and was the kind of car seat that we wanted to get. However it is very difficult to visualize these seats online. We therefore decided to go to the In Car Safety Centre in Milton Keynes, which specialize in car seats and have a really big range of rear facing seats. We needed to make an appointment to ensure that we got the care and attention that we needed. The service was excellent they talked us through the features and benefits of the car seats and then we selected a few to try in our cars.

The Britax Dualfix was the clear winner for us. It had a really good safety rating, as well as having extra functionality that we liked.

Main Features:

  • Various reclining functions: The Britax Dualfix seat is suitable from birth, although you cannot carry it around with you or put it on any wheels.
  • Removable cover: This is very handy and some of the car seats don’t come with this functionality and would be a nightmare to clean. The britax Dualfix is very easy to clean.
  • Swivels round: The Britax Dualfix can be both forward and rear facing and this is probably the most important feature for us. Although for safety reasons we have not used it forward facing we alwayds swivel it to the side when getting my toddler in and out. This makes it really easy to get her in, even when she’s throwing a tantrum. I’m not sure how you would get my daughter in a rear facing seat when she’s resisting as you don’t have the angle to work with. However with the Britax Dualfix you do.

Downside:

  • The Britax Dualfix will only fit in a car with Isofix. Having said that it is the safest way to install a car seat. However if you need to change cars you have to have one with Isofix fittings.
  • The Britax Dualfix is pretty heavy and is probably not suitable for frequent changes of car or for carrying inside with a sleeping baby.
  • the Britax Dualfix is  reasonably expensive and as a rear facing seat it is only suitable up to 18kg so you would need to buy a new car seat sooner than if you went for a forward facing seat.

Conclusion

All in all I have to say that the Britat Dualfix is a great car seat for us. Our toddler has the tendency to resist getting into her seat and with the swivel function it makes it that bit easier to get her in. Once in the seat she seem to find it very comfortable and we are safe in the knowledge that it is one of the safest car seats we can get.