Snow White AnimalsOne of my favourite things about our new house is the immediate surroundings and the wildlife that lives within. Yesterday, we had to drive into town at about 7.30am and it was a glorious day; as we turned the corner out of the end of our road we saw rabbits, squirrels and phaesants, all just happily milling around eating at the edges of the farmers field. When you’ve lived in a very built-up town for the best part of 31 years and the closest you get to nature is next doors’ cat shitting in your sandpit and ripping open your bins, seeing this kind of scene on an almost daily basis is like that scene in Snow White, minus the housework-doing bluebirds! However, there is a downside to all this nature.


When I first started driving, back in 2002 (*boke* HOW can it be that long ago?!), I used to commute to work along an A-road every day, a drive of about 13 miles but it was then that I first started to notice roadkill. I may not show it, but I can be a sensitive soul and after a few weeks, seeing death and destruction on a daily basis really started to drag me down. I’d be at once repelled by the sight of squashed animals and obsessive about spotting them as I went. It was like a form of self-torture, my brain saying “I’m going to make you feel REALLY bad for the rest of the day” and I was really glad when I stopped doing that commute as it started to mess with my mental health, I think.

If we’re friends on Facebook, you may have seen my recent post about having seen a mouse run out into the road while I was driving along, followed by a weasel which proceeded to eat said mouse. It was all very David Attenborough but it was on this day that I realised something. If that weasel-eating-a-mouse had stopped in my lane, I’d have had no choice but to run it over. I was driving along that road at about 40 miles an hour (it’s a national speed limit road with a 60mph max, but I never drive that fast, especially if the kids are in the car) and it’s a narrow country lane with barely room for two cars to pass. There’d be no leeway for me to swerve, and quite frankly, if it’s a choice between Burrito Baby, Sausage and I ending up nose-down in a ditch next to a farmers field and saving a weasel, I know what choice I’d make.

Sausage is even more of a gentle soul than I and I’ve had to try to break it to her gently that these things happen and that one day, we may have no choice but to forge on regardless of whether something goes under our wheels. If I’m honest, I’m absolutely dreading it, for both of our sakes. I know that it’s a very real possibility and when (probably not *if*) it happens it will weigh heavily on us both. Just yesterday we saw a freshly-squished squirrel and the best way I could reconcile it for us all was to say “well, it’s sad for the squirrel, but I bet a crow or a fox will be getting a good meal for its babies today”. It’s all very Elton John, innit? #circleoflife


I know lots of people will think I’m barmy or a big baby for not wanting to hurt animals, but it’s just not in me to be so carefree about it. Regardless of what type of creature it is, it’s a life – and before you ask, no, I don’t kill spiders or insects either, so my regard isn’t only for those thing which are cute and fluffy!

Do you live in or commute through a rural area? Do you have any tips for avoiding wildlife on the roads, or any stories related? I’d love to hear about them, so please leave me a comment below.

Spatone Iron Supplement Review

A few weeks ago, the people at Spatone got in touch and asked if they could send me some of their products to review. Having suffered in the past with anaemia, I thought it would definitely be worth giving it a go, especially seeing as I had a house move and various other stress coming up, during which time I needed to be at my best.

Spatone Iron Supplement

Spatone is unlike other iron supplements in that it comes in liquid form and tastes a lot like a concentrated shot of pressed apple juice. This delivery method means that the body absorbs a far greater proportion of the iron in the supplement, as opposed to tablets which can be big, hard to swallow and potentially only offer 5% viability.

In the past, such as just after the girls were born, I was put on iron tablets by my doctors because of blood loss during surgery and, without wishing to be crass, they’ve caused the unfortunate side effect of constipation, which is something I (and probably everyone else) absolutely hate and don’t cope with very well. The good thing with Spatone is that they don’t seem to cause this problem, which I suspect is because of the apple juice counteracting that as a potential side-affect.

One thing that I was unaware of is that iron is the one mineral which women need more of than men, due to menstrual blood loss and as someone who’s suffered with gynae issues, I can certainly see why this would be the case. Spatone is really easy to take as it’s sold in individual, single-use sachets, so taking them every day is a doddle as there’s no need for measuring and you can even chuck them into your handbag if you want to take them on holiday with you.

Another thing I love about Spatone is that they’re perfect for use for (almost) the whole family – they can be used by anyone above the age of 2, which means you don’t have to buy a whole bunch of different iron supplements if you want to keep the whole family topped up. They also taste good enough that the kids never object to taking them, which can be a real boon if you’ve got kids who make a huge fuss of nasty tasting “medicine”!Red Blood Cells

With my Spatone samples, I also received a leaflet which contained some information which I found really interesting – did you know that, generally, runners can suffer with low iron levels? This is because the impact of your foot hitting the pavement can literally damage the red blood cells, leaving them destroyed and unable to carry oxygen. Additionally, the very act of sweating can cause iron depletion, so even if you’re a casual jogger it’s important to top up your iron levels with a dedicated supplement like Spatone.

My experience with Spatone has been a positive one. Having had only a weeks’ supply, I can’t say 100% that I feel any better than I would have without them but it has definitely been a pleasure to be able to take an iron supplement and know that I’m maintaining good iron levels without the added worry of constipation.

Do you suffer with low iron levels? Do you find that iron supplements in tablet form upset your digestive system? Leave me a comment below.

Potty Training with Thomas and Friends

Hey, you. Yes, you over the there. The one with the haunted look in your eye and the bucket of tiddly toddler clothes soaking in your laundry room! Let me tell you a secret:

Potty training does get better!

Seriously. I know it feels like a really daunting prospect to think about beginning the potty training process, or if you’re already in the middle of it all it can feel like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel but for the vast majority of kids, it will just “click” one day.

Sausage was by no means a picnic to potty train, despite being a beautifully well-behaved kid. I remember the hair-tugging frustration at sitting with her in our lounge and watching her stand literally RIGHT NEXT TO her potty and wee on the floor instead. I remember how I’d take her out without a nappy to go on the shortest of walks and ask her a hundred times before we left if she needed to lose the toilet, only to get 100m up the road and hear “uh-oh!” from Sausage, who’d be standing in the street with soaking wet leggings!

Worryingly, Sausage is actually the more compliant of my children. Burrito Baby is firmly in the “NO” stage of her life (yes, we’re calling it a stage and NO, we won’t be mentioning that, at last count, that stage has lasted for approximately a year of her 19 months of life…). When we were asked if we were considering potty training BB, my blood ran cold. However, I’m going into this armed and dangerous!Thomas & Friends Potty Training

We were sent a copy of the Thomas & Friends “My Thomas Potty Book” and “Well Done, Thomas” Activity Book and I’ve been reading the Potty Book to BB almost daily. The whole thing is intended to normalise the process of potty training, which is something I really see the benefit of. As adults, I think we often underestimate how bizarre potty training can be for kids. They go from ranging around and ‘going’ where they please to sitting down and being confined to a potty. I remember, when my youngest nephew was potty training, he took to it like a PRO, using the potty for wee with no bother at all. However, whenever he needed to poop, he’d ask for a nappy to be put back on because he was so used to going whilst standing up!

The thing I love about the “My Thomas Potty Book” is the way it gently introduces potty training paraphernalia, such as potties and pants, and makes the whole thing seem like a big, new, fun adventure. It also has a built-in reward chart which can be used for positive reinforcement when they manage to use the potty and, to be fair, I think my kids love stickers more than they love me, so the inclusion of stickers is a great idea. The activity book is a little advanced for BB at the moment although, at just 19 months, we’re starting the potty training journey quite early and I’m sure the book will come into its own in the next few months.

We’ve actually been lucky enough to be given another set of books to give away to one lucky reader – all you need to do it enter through the Rafflecopter widget below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What The Tooth Fairy Pays in UK Homes

Sausage is in year 3 now and is in a class of absolutely lovely kids. Her main little group of friends are all fantastic and I love chatting with them while they’re lining up in the mornings. One thing that I noticed this morning is the distinct lack of teeth between them! One of Sausages bestows, who we’ll call Miss Custard, was telling me that she’s lost two teeth I’m the past week! She decided to be merciful to the Tooth Fairy though, and put both under her pillow at once so that she’d only need to make one trip to provide remuneration for Miss. Custards gnashers! She excitedly told me that she’d received the princely sum of £2 for both teeth, which according to Sun Life Direct is actually bang on the national average – nice to see that Mrs. Tooth Fairy isn’t perpetuating any sort of North/South pay divide!

Here’s a lovely little infographic, giving you an insight into a few other facts about tooth-related monetary gain!
 photo blog-what the tooth fairy pays in UK homes-infographic_zpspp73sfsx.png
I was most surprised to see that kids in London are frequented the least by the Tooth Fairy – although, everyone knows that only believers get a visit, so perhaps those toughened, cynical city kids just don’t believe enough to get a coin for their tooth!

Sausage seems to be ahead of the curve with her adult teeth – she’s already lost 5 baby teeth and currently has a wobbled and her adult teeth have grown through on the tops and bottoms. Keeping on top of tooth brushing is vitally important now that her permanent teeth are in and it’s something that we’re really hot on in our house.

Hopefully she won’t need braces once she’s older; I had both “train track” style braces and a retainer when I was in senior school and although I was lucky enough to only need them for less than a year, it was bad enough even during that time!

How much does the Tooth Fairy provide to your little ones? What age did your bigger ones stop being believers? I’d love to hear all about your tooth-related experiences so do leave me a comment below!

Do You Let Your Kids Play Sports? is getting to an age now where after school clubs seem like more of a priority and Husband and I have been doing a lot of research to find things which we think are suitable for her. She loves a bit of rough and tumble and has been asking about trying a martial art for some time. Her hero at the moment is Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey, the undefeated female champion of the UFC, who  also happens to be an enormous Pokemon nerd, just like Sausage! Rousey’s beginnings were in Judo, in fact both she and her mother are medal-winning Olympians in the sport and Husband and I both think that Judo would be a great sport for Sausage as it’s not about punching and kicking, but throwing and pinning.

A new infographic from World Rugby has been put together to show how parents are actually unfazed by potential injury when it comes to sports because they feel that the benefit of being active FAR outweighs the risks. Here’s the info:

Spoortswise infographic-page-001

Of the parents polled for the infographic, parents chose weight management, social skills and teamwork, amongst other reasons for encouraging their kids to play a sport. I also think that it’s really important to encourage a competitive spirit. There’s been a real shift towards inclusiveness which can be SO positive in so many ways but I also think that lowering standards to ensure that ‘everyone can take part’ really discourages competitiveness and can stop talented kids from excelling. I’d never advocate nastiness, but I think learning that edge can be really beneficial for kids in later life. Life IS competitive.

How do you feel about contact sports? Are you too protective to let your kids do something where they might get hurt or do you encourage rough and tumble play? Are you passionate about competition or do you think life is competitive enough once they reach adulthood and feel that kids should be insulated from it? I’d love to hear your opinions on this subject!

Jeremy Corbyn – A New Hope

Yeah, okay, so the title of this post seems rather Star Wars related and I won’t deny that this meme had more than a little bit to do with it:

Obi Wan Corbyn

Aside from mildly amusing internet memes though, there does seem to be an air of jubilance and hope surrounding Jeremy Corbyn’s appointment as the leader of the Labour Party. In fact, whilst sitting here on Saturday morning with my daughters, waiting for the announcement to come in, I must admit that I shed a tear when the results were finally revealed. I had to explain to Sausage that my tears were tears of joy (BB was mostly okay…she gave me a hug and then carried on bombing around shouting “CHIPS” at the top of her voice). For the first time in years, I feel hopeful.

I have to admit, I was an Ed Milliband supporter when he was leader. I felt that he was the closest thing to socialism that we’d seen in years and felt that his values matched mine…almost. However, when I first started reading about Corbyn, back when he was struggling to get enough nominations to even run for leader of the Labour party, I felt like my eyes were opened. Ed may have had his heart in the right place, but his version of socialism was down-right wishy-washy compared to Our Jez.

Many of my friends, people I respect greatly, after the general election commented that there was no point voting either way because there was so little difference between what the big parties were offering. Now, that is no longer the case and it feels like we genuinely have a CHOICE. We can choose austerity, big business, decimation of public services.


Or we can choose ‘Corbynomics’. (God, I hate that phrase. I hate how the Tory rags are STILL using it to denigrate Corbyn despite the fact that the vast majority of those in the know agree that it’s sound economic policy and that, actually, AUSTERITY DOESN’T WORK.)

We can choose to have an NHS which doesn’t want to charge us at the point of delivery.

We can choose the possibility of an education for our children which won’t leave them in crippling debt.

We can choose the chance to live in housing which won’t be astronomically expensive.

We can choose to say “NO” to exorbitant energy prices.

We can choose to live in a country where mental health is taken seriously.

We can choose to say “NO” to prioritising nuclear weapons above education, health and housing.

We can choose to tell the likes of Amazon and other wealthy global companies that they MUST pay their taxes.

We can choose a leader who will put a halt to what can only be described as “economic cleansing” by making rents and house prices in London so high.

We can choose to tell our kids that The Arts aren’t only the privilege of the wealthy.

We can choose a leader who won’t take us blindly into wars-for-profit which will benefit no-one but his mates.

Above all else, we can choose to make a move towards a kinder society.

So that’s why I shed a tear. Because the thought of a future like that for my kids, my family and my friends is something worthy of tears of joy. The Tories are running scared, that much is obvious from the horrible smear tactics that they’ve employed in the past few days. The right-wing press seems to have lost its damn mind, printing stories and headlines which look like they’ve been copied and pasted straight from The Onion. It seems obvious to me that they’re pooing their pants.

There may be 5 years until the next election, but those are 5 years in which we can feel hopeful about a brighter future.

Since the General Election, I’ve been feeling pretty disillusioned by what I perceived as a societal move towards cruelty. However, this has buoyed me immeasurably. I’m going to leave you with a quote which says it far more succinctly than I can:


“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

We’re VTech Toot Toot Friends Ambassadors!

A few weeks back, Burrito Baby and I received the awesome news that we’d been chosen to be VTech Toot Toot Friends Ambassadors and would be receiving all of the new range to play with and review. As you can see, BB was over the moon! The smaller characters retail for around £8.99 each, while the Trot and Go Pony is £15.99. The Hospital playset is a very affordable £29.99 and even the Discovery Sounds House, which is the bigger of the two playsets, is only £44.99.

VTech Toot Toot Friends

What we discovered, being Toot-Toot Friends noobs, is that all of the playsets can link together, forming a big town, and each character can be used in all of the different areas. Want to take your horse to the hospital? Go right ahead! These areas are called ‘Magic Points’ and allows kids to use the individual  characters to interact with the play sets. There are also points within the Busy Sounds Discovery Home where characters can sing to one another, something that BB seemed to regard as being akin to magic!

BB has really good gross and fine motor skills for her age (I mean, the kid is NEVER still, even when she’s sleeping!) but all of the elements of the characters and the playsets were solid and easy to hold, even for the tiniest hands. It also feels like it would stand up to a whole lot of toddler punishment, too; BB has developed a habit of throwing things when she’s in a mood but I can’t see even the biggest toddler tantrum being able to do damage to the Toot-Toot Friends!

I really like the fact that these feel like “next level” toys in more ways than one; in terms of BB’s development, they feel more in-depth than all the other ‘flashing lights, ABC, 123’ toys that she has and they also feel like they incorporate all of the things that babies of this age love with the technological expertise the VTech is famous for. They’re interactive, educational and intuitive, all things which I think are important for development through play.

If I had ONE minor complaint, it’s that the stickers are a little bit fiddly to apply when you’re assembling everything, especially as some of them are located behind or inside certain parts. If you’ve got a steady hand, you’ll be fine, but the best advice I can give you is to assemble everything when you don’t have an excited, slightly tyrannical toddler climbing all over you.

I also think that selling all of the characters and sets separately is a great thing. It means that you can still buy Toot-Toots friends toys even on varying budgets, and if a birthday or Christmas comes around, the playsets can be bought as a main present, while the smaller components can be bought by friends or relatives to build a full and comprehensive collection.

BB and I feel like we’re off to a great start as ambassadors for VTech Toot-Toot Friends – we already love the toys and can seem them being a great source of fun and education for BB in the months to come. Review

A few weeks ago, the guys at Get The Label asked if we’d like to review their site, and given the fact that we’re heading towards cooler weather and both girls seem to have outgrown all of their clothes, we jumped at the chance! We were given £150 to spend across the site, and this is what we got:

Burrito Baby wears:

Adidas Baby Girls Essential Jog Suit – £12.99

Converse Baby Girls 2 Piece Fleece Set – £14.99

Adidas Originals Infant Girls ZX 850 Trainers – £19.99

Skechers Infant Girls Keepsakes Boots – £12.99

Sausage wears:

Adidas Junior Girls Rock It Zip Hoody – £14.99

Adidas Junior Girls Rock It Jog Pants – £14.99

Adidas Junior Girls Wardrobe Jog Pant – £14.99

(vest models own!)

Mum wears:

Vero Moda Womens Alba Jumper – £9.99

Converse Womens CT Ox Diva Trainers – £32.99

GRAND TOTAL: £148.91

Given the amount of branded stuff we were able to buy, I think coming in at under £150 was actually amazing and really good value. The girls’ trackies were absolutely perfect for the autumn weather and both Adidas and Converse are brands we’ve bought before so we know the quality is high. BB’s trainers are so ridiculously adorable and the Velcro fastenings make them really easy to get on and off. Her boots will be perfect for the cooler weather and are sturdy enough to help her to walk easily, without being heavy.

As for me…well, I couldn’t let the opportunity to grab a new pair of Converse pass me by, especially as I’ve worn my old ones to the point of decimation! I was trying to find myself a grey pair, but they didn’t have them in my size, so I opted for something a bit more eye-catching! I’d not actually seen this design before, either, so I was rather chuffed with my purchase.

The jumper I bought, however, has become a part of a saga of heartbreak. I saw it on the site and absolutely loved it, and had actually planned to go back at a later date and buy myself the jumper in the other colours. However, the first time I EVER wore the turquoise one, I was standing at our local noodle bar waiting to pick up a quick dinner, holding BB as we’d just got out of the car and I looked over my shoulder only to notice that she’d got her little fingers into the knit and pulled a massive thread out! I was absolutely gutted as I very rarely buy myself anything new, and although Husband offered to replace it for me, I stubbornly refused!

LEARN FROM MY FAIL! Don’t wear that jumper if you have a fiddly toddler. Other than that, you’re good to go; it’s an absolutely gorgeous jumper which is lovely quality and very well made. It’s just that mine got destroyed!

Delivery from Get the Label was really quick and the website was easy to navigate and nice to use. We’d definitely recommend Get the Label and will be going back to buy more stuff for all of us in the future.

Schools Around the World

With the kids now back at school, we’re well on our way to being back in a routine (despite poor Sausage having been off for the first three days of this week with tonsillitis :sadface: ). Brantano has produced a number of infographics to illustrate what a school week looks like in various countires around the world; here’s the UK


Another country that Husband and I really like the look of is the Netherlands. We’ve spoken at length about where we’d go if ever emigrated and the Netherlands is way up high on our list. We love their slightly more laid back attitude to life than the UK and their education system is definitely something which appeals. Here’s their school week:


I think Sausage would get a huge kick out of not wearing a uniform to school! Also, Sausage actually started school age 4 so having an extra 2 years with them, allowing them to grow and develop at home rather than in a classroom must be wonderful. It’s interesting also to see the male/female ratio of teachers and how so many teachers in both countries tend to be female. Sausage has only has female teachers up to this point in her career, and I wonder how different her experience of school would have been if she’d had a male teacher?


Japanese kids seem to have it pretty tough – Sausage would not be at all fond of the idea of maths drills and learning the 26 letters of the English alphabet is tough enough at the age of 4 – can you imagine needing to learn almost 100 times that many?! Mind blowing!

Where would you like your kids to go to school? Do you love the UK system? Is 4 way too young or were you pleased to get them in the classroom as soon as possible? Leave me a comment below.

Huggies Pull-Ups Review

Huggies Pull UpsA few weeks ago, Huggies got in touch to see if we’d like to work with them on a review of their Pull-Ups, and they kindly sent us some daytime pants, night-time pants and a whole selection of other goodies to try out, including a potty. Burrito Baby has got to an age now where she’s really vocal about going to the loo – she’ll often declare “WEE WEE!” or “BOOM BOOM!” just before going, which is a really good pre-cursor to getting potty training underway and Husband and I have been talking about getting a potty just to keep in the room for when she decides to use it.

Because BB idolises her big sister, she’s quite adamant that she’s a big girl and most definitely NOT a baby, so being able to offer her big-girl pants to put on when I first opened the Pull-Ups was a massive plus-point for her. She’s also a huge fan of Minnie Mouse at the moment, so she was thrilled to see her on her pants, running straight through to Husband and shouting “DADDY! MINNIE! BUUUUM!!” (most things that BB says are at a rather high volume at the moment…).

In terms of nappy changes, she’s also got to that age where it’s very hard to get her to lay down for more than about 5 seconds at a time, so being able to step in and out of the Huggies Pull-Ups was something she really appreciated. It also makes my life a whole lot easier!

Being able to pull the Pull-Ups down like knickers when it’s just a wet nappy is fine, but I also liked the fact that the sides tear apart for dirtier changes, although as one MINOR negative point, I remember there being a sticky tab on the back when I used them for Sausage, to keep everything rolled up when you change them, but that doesn’t seem to be there anymore and it’s very much missed as I now have to use a nappy bag again!

Potty training isn’t something that Husband and I are pushy with – we firmly believed with both girls that if they’re ready, they’ll do it and that has definitely been the case with both of them. Sausage was stubborn at first and I remember more than one occasion of looking on incredulously as she stood, nappy-less, next to her potty and wee’d on the floor instead! BB is applying the same Crammond stubbornness (I don’t know where that comes from…) and is mostly treating her potty with superstition at the moment but we did have a successful poop on the potty today and at just 18 months old, I think that’s really good going! She looked absolutely mystified about the whole process of sitting on a seat to poop, but once she realised what she’d done, she looked pretty pleased with herself!

Huggies are hosting a whole bunch of Potty Training Parties around the UK to help mums and dads with the process and have even got little reward charts and stickers available with a free sample of Pull-Ups to show progress, which I think is a great idea. Sausage always responded really well to reward and although BB is a little young for the concept at the moment, I’m sure in time we’ll use them again.

Overall, we’ve been really impressed with Huggies Pull-Ups. We’ve had no leakages and being able to liken them to ‘big girl pants’ like her big sister wears has really appealed to BB. We’ll definitely carry on using them and I think they’ll be invaluable to the potty training process.