Creating a Kid’s Wardrobe for Bad Weather

There’s nothing like a sudden-onset Snowmageddon to make me realise how woefully underprepared we are for cold weather. The girls both have decent winter coats, as do Husband and I, but in terms of proper cold weather gear, it’s only Husband who was sorted. Not only does he have water-resistant jeans and gaiters to protect his lower legs, he also has all-weather boots and merino layers for his top half. As you can tell, he spends a lot more time outdoors than the women of this household do!

We went out sledging on Wednesday, and it was so wonderful and fun, but we had to go home after an hour as the cold started to seep in and Sausage’s legs ended up damp after she decided to cheese-roll down a hill! I’ve been looking at kids winter clothes on the internet, in the spirit of being a bit more prepared if more snow turns up and thought I’d share some of my favourite items with you:

Didriksons 1913 Moarri Overall

Aside from the fact that this base layer is SUPER cute, I think both girls could really benefit from a proper thermal base layer to wear when it gets cold. We’ve been layering with wooly tights under their trousers but it’s not very comfortable or practical, so something like this would be properly fit for purpose.

Color Kids Tudo Pants

These fleecy pants would be so much better for outdoor fun, because they’re nice and loose fitting, unlike jeans which can be really restrictive and hard to run around in. These would make an excellent mid-layer over thermals and under a snow suit and the girls would find them super comfortable.

Isbjörn Panda Sweater

As well as being water-repellent, this fleece protects against sharp wind and is a brilliant mid-layer for wearing under waterproofs. Layering like this would give the girls the ability to still move around and either add more layers or take some off, depending on their environment.

Color Kids Klement Overall Children

This waterproof overall would be absolutely perfect for cheeserolling down hills in! The girls could play in the snow for as long as they want witout ever having to worry about getting wet, and the bright colours mean they’re really easy to see on a background of pure white. In fact, I love this overall so much that I wish they also made it in my size!

Sorel Whitney Short Boots

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from my very outdoorsy Husband, it’s that good footwear is VERY important. Having the right pair of boots for your environment is basically the most essential part of any outdoor wardrobe, and these snow boots look as though they’d be perfect for the girls. They have a decent sole, are lined with microfleece and are waterproof – ideal for afternoons gadding about in the snow.

Are you regular outdoorsy people? Do you have a favourite selection of clothes that you wear when the temperature plummets? Leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear from you.

5 Cover Versions Which Are Better Than The Original

I have to admit, I’m incredibly fussy about song covers, especially when they’re songs that I love – Husband loves a version of Hotel California which is originally by The Eagles but covered by Gipsy Kings, and while I can appreciate their style and talent, I just can’t get my ears around their version of this song. There are, however, a few cover versions that I think are actually way better than their original, and I wanted to share them with you to see if you agree. Go and get a cuppa and listen to all the songs as you get to them – at least it’s something to distract you from all the weather talk for a few minutes!

Hurt – Nine Inch Nails/Johnny Cash

I’m not sure if it’s because Johnny Cash recorded this when he was very poorly, but there’s something about his version which chills me to my soul. I love the NIN version, but Johnny makes this song his own and although Trent Reznor wasn’t sure about it at first, he grew to love Mr. Cash’s version, saying “Having Johnny Cash, one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time, want to cover your song, that’s something that matters to me. It’s not so much what other people think but the fact that this guy felt that it was worthy of interpreting”. I also need to give a nod to Johnny Cash’s version of Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode at this point, which is equally amazing.

Forever Young – Bob Dylan/Audra Mae

A lot of people may disagree with me, but I’m firmly in the camp of people who believe that Bob Dylan should write songs for other people and not sing them himself! He’s capable of writing some incredible lyrics and melodies, but his vocals really don’t do it for me. This cover of his song “Forever Young” sounds beautiful when sung by Audra Mae and I genuinely think it’s far better than the original.

Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen/Jeff Buckley

This might be an obvious choice but for me, Jeff’s version is absolutely definitive. It may be because Leonard Cohen’s voice is a bit of an acquired taste, or the fact that Jeff Buckley’s voice is so astonishingly good (he had the same vocal range as Pavarotti), but I’ll always choose to listen to his version of this song over the original (and Alexandra Burke can GET IN THE SEA).

Running Up That Hill – Placebo/KateBush

Controversial opinion alert – I actually CANNOT STAND Kate Bush. Her vocal style sounds like someone bashing a bag of kittens against a brick wall, and it sets my teeth on edge. I do, however, absolutely LOVE the Placebo cover of this song. Brian Molko does a MUCH better version in my opinion, and I far prefer the actual arrangement of the song, too.

Respect – Aretha Franklin/Otis Redding

Probably the least controversial of my choices, I think you’d be really hard pushed to find anyone who doesn’t agree that Aretha’s version is the absolute definitive of this song. She’s not called The Queen of Soul for nothing! This is one of those songs that you absolutely cannot help but sing along to…even if you can’t reach the same notes as Aretha!

What are your favourite musical cover versions? I’d love for you to share them with me in a comment below.

Anywhere But Here…

I’m not going to lie, between the relentlessly horrible weather (we’re currently on day 4 of being snowed into our village) and the looming spectre of Brexit, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about places I’d love to live which aren’t here. My lack of foreign languages and massive pot of money to enable us to do so means we’re pretty limited, but it doesn’t stop me from dreaming. Here’s a few of the places we’d love to go:

France

Husband actually lived in France in his youth, in a fairly remote Alsace town, and although I’d rather go somewhere warmer and more southern, France is a really appealing prospect. I think the girls would love the culture, and there are some amazing IB schools in France that they could attend where I think their education would probably be even better than here. France is also only a drive away if we ever need to get back to England quickly.

Iceland

Okay, so I know it’s really not an improvement in terms of weather, but I really love Iceland and the pragmatism which seems to be at the core of their culture. It’s a beautifully rugged country and the more I read about it, the more I’d like to go there – maybe for good!

Vancouver Island, Canada

I’ve had a bit of an obsession with Vancouver Island after reading about it a few years ago, and I think I’d move there in a heartbeat if I had an opportunity. Unfortunately, so would thousands of other people and I think it’s pretty expensive and hard to get visas for these days, although that does show you what a great place it is. The landscape is incredible and the way of life there just seems like something we’d really love. Also; who doesn’t love Justin Trudeau?!

New Zealand

New Zealand is another place that we have a bit of a family obsession with and somewhere we’d happily relocate to. It’s one of those incredible countries where you get the best of it all  – hot beaches, snowy mountains and temperate areas which feel pretty much like home. The wildlife in New Zealand would be fascinating for the girls, especially Sausage who’s had a lifelong dream of becoming a marine biologist.

South Korea

This one might seem odd, and the proximity to NORTH Korea doesn’t fill me with joy, but I’ve seen a lot of programmes about South Korea recently and as well as it being a beautiful country, the way of life seems really nice, too…although I must admit, a large part of the draw is the food!

Where would you go if money were no object?

For more info on the International school in Paris, follow the link.

Things to Do in Liverpool #LiverpoolGuide2018

Liverpool Town HallIf you follow me on social media or have read this blog for a while you’ll probably be aware that we’re a family of Liverpool FC fans, and were lucky enough to go along to Anfield for a VIP visit a few years back. It’s still one of the best things we’ve ever done (not least of all because we got to watch Liverpool smash West Brom 4-1 and witnesses Luis Suarez score his first home hat-trick!) but my one regret is that we didn’t have more time to spend around the city of Liverpool.

Husband and I have said many times that we’d love to visit Liverpool and spend time in the city, and there are lots of things we’d like to do while we’re there. Here’s just a few of them:

 Shopping

Okay, okay, so I know this one is a cliche, but our local town has a high street which is populated with Pound shops or empty units which are being squatted in by mobile phone case shops – absolutely DIRE if you want to buy something to wear and don’t want to do it all online! I have it on good authority that Liverpool ONE is absolutely amazing for shopping, and I think I’ll be doing a lot of saving up before hand so that I could really treat myself.

See The Liver Birds

Liverpool is full of iconic sights, but the Liver birds on top of the town hall are probably the most famous – Husband even has one of them tattooed on him (along with five stars for every time we’ve won the Champion’s League!). Seeing them in real life would be really cool, and another thing to tick off of the bucket list.

Museums

Liverpool has some amazing museums, including a Beatles museum, TATE Liverpool and the International Slavery Museum. Liverpool has such a rich history and is a true melting pot city because of the docks, and I’d love to absorb as much of the history as possible – museums seem like a good place to do that.

Albert Dock

The Albert Dock used to be a busy industrial area where boats would load and unload, but it’s been renovated to be a busy waterfront leisure area, full of bars, restaurants, shops and museums, all set in the country’s largest collection of Grade I listed buildings. It sounds like an amazing place for Husband and I to have a night out!

Anfield Stadium

Yes, I know this is what we did last time we were in Liverpool, but when you’re not a season ticket owner or Liverpool local, tickets are like HENS TEETH and really hard to get hold of! We’ve not been to Anfield for a match since 2013, and although I was pregnant with BB at the time (so she’s technically been there!) we’d love to take her up again for her first proper experience.

Are you a lover of Liverpool? What’s your favourite place to go while you’re there? Do leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear all about it.

Tackling Anxiety the Natural Way

Guest Post

As a person who has suffered with anxiety attacks for almost 20 years, I regard most things which claim to solve them (or even help) with extreme cynicism.

It doesn’t matter whether they’re things that the doctor has prescribed which have pleasant side-effects like “suicidal ideation and malfunctioning penis”, or more benign, gentle things, like peppermint tea, they all seem to do the same thing for my anxiety – nix.

So when someone recommended CBD oil, I did my usual. I smiled, vowed to go and buy some immediately and walked away with precisely zero intention of ever doing so.

A time later, on a day when my anxiety was really amped up, I was feeling pretty low. The usual “I can’t go on like this” mantra was bouncing off the walls when I recalled my pal’s recommendation. I’d have a look, I thought. Even if it distracts me from this latest bout, it’ll be a good thing.

After a bit of cynical Googling I found myself eye-to-eye with some actual, honest to goodness information. Not the sort of thing chucked around by folk who prescribe crystals for haemorrhoids, either, but proper, science-based stuff. It was telling me that extensive research into CBD oil was under way and that, so far, results were encouraging.

The stuff may help with anxiety, along with a laundry list of other illnesses, and it carried with it minimal risk when compared to other medications and treatments. So, after exhaustively devouring every piece of reputable information I could find on the subject, I chose to give it a go.

Fast forward 2 months and I can say with some certainty that the stuff has changed my life. And I don’t make these proclamations lightly. I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, an effusive person.

I started off on a small drip under the tongue once a day, and within a week or so I began to feel more even. It wasn’t a silver bullet effect, but day by day things started to dial down, until the invasive thoughts were less like a nagging voice and more like a barely audible echo.

Perhaps the only major drawback was the taste. To say it’s unpleasant would be an understatement. But I got around that potential sticking point by moving from a drip on the tongue to a vape liquid and electronic cigarette, which gives me the same benefits without the feeling that I was going to vomit.

I honestly cannot stress how much better I feel thanks to this stuff.

Given the costs of prescriptions, the potential damage that some pharmaceutical medications can do to you long term, and the potential side effects, it’s a no brainer for me.

The setup costs were minimal. The oil isn’t cheap cheap but it isn’t mega expensive, and a 5 minute visit to somewhere like Vapour.com to get a decent vape kit didn’t break the bank, either.

As I sit here now, typing this, I actually feel better, and I didn’t need any mad pills, transcendental meditation or expensive pseudomedicines to get there.

I don’t expect you to blindly take the word of a stranger on the internet, but if you’re on the fence, dealing with anxiety or depression and can’t think of what to do next, consider the opinion of this here cynic. It may well change things around for you.

How To: Create Valentine’s Day Cards + Content for Social Media using the Instasize App

Who said Valentine’s Day was just for lovers?! We view Valentine’s Day as a day of love – celebrating with whoever you’re lucky enough to hold close. With social media playing such an integral part of our day to day lives, avoiding the massive amount of Valentine’s Day posts that your feeds and timelines are about to be flooded with sounds impossible. So why not join in on the fun? Instasize – a premier photo editor + content creating tool kit gives you the ability to completely transform the photos you’ve taken with your smartphone into engaging content pieces that both your friends and followers will love. The app is free to download for both IOS and Android platforms: http://instasize.com

Spice your feed up this V-Day with some border love. Create custom family collages to show the special people in your life just how much you appreciate them. The app currently has two available border packs that contain a plethora of Valentine-y backgrounds.  And at the start of this week the people over at Instasize introduced a flashy new Marble Border Collection we’re obsessed with. Keep reading to find out what types of content you can be creating for your various social media platforms – all created in under 2 minutes and with the Instasize App.

Borders & Collages:

You can find the Valentine’s Day themed border packs within the apps border editor. After selecting a photo to edit, click on the border icon (it looks like a square within a square) and from there you can download the “XOXO”, “LOVE”, and “Marble” border collections. Here is the step by step breakdown on how to re-create the collage above:

  1. Open the Instasize App (download here: https://instasize.me/xcSO/OdnBzRMzvK)
  2. Tap the “plus” sign to select which format you wish to edit.
  3. Tap the “collage” icon.
  4. Choose up to 6 images to be placed in a single collage. (we chose 3 to begin with)
  5. At the top, you may swipe left to see different layout options.
  6. Tap the layout option you wish to use.
  7. At the bottom of the editing screen, tap the “borders icon”
  8. Choose either the LOVE or XOXO border packs.
  9. Select Valentines borders of choice.
  10. Use the bar above to adjust border width
  11. Next to the “borders” icon, tap the “A” icon, meaning text.
  12. Write your desired message (we wrote “XOXO”) followed by the checkmark when complete
  13. Swipe left to choose from an array of fonts. (We love “Cute Love” font)
  14. Pinch with two fingers to move or adjust size of text.
  15. To add another text, swipe right at the bottom until you see the plus sign and tap.
  16. Next type your family’s name to complete your valentines card. (The Sorenson Family)
  17. Move Text to desired area on photo.
  18. Share with friends, family, and followers!

Valentines Card w/ Text:

These easy to make cards are the perfect addition to any Instagram Stories, Snapchat, and/or Instagram feed. The Instasize App comes equipped with over 30 fonts to choose from for creating themed content online. Best part? You can make add text to any photo in under a minute. GO.

  1. Open the Instasize app.
  2. Tap the plus sign at the bottom.
  3. Tap the “photo” icon to choose your image.
  4. Apply desired filter on top.
  5. At the bottom tap the “A” icon meaning text.
  6. Type your message “My Loves” and desired color of text.
  7. Choose font (we used Playlist Script)
  8. Position text on image.
  9. At the bottom scroll all the way to the left until you see the “+” sign to add another line of text.
  10. Repeat steps 6-8
  11. To create the lines on either side of your text like pictured above above, repeat step #9 and type — side by side to create a “line”
  12. Create two and add to each side of text “My Loves”

Unlock new fonts, filters, and border collections every month with a subscription to Instasize Premium – enjoy a free 7 day trial on us: https://instasize.me/xcSO/OdnBzRMzvK

Valentine’s Quote w/ Background

Another great addition to any Instagram Stories, Snapchat, and/or feed are themed text posts. We’ve discovered that our borders (typically used with photos) make phenomenal backgrounds for quotes! Here’s how to recreate the above image on your own device.

  1. Open the Instasize app.
  2. Tap the plus sign at the bottom.
  3. Tap the “photo” icon to choose an image (it can be any image, we’ll be removing it from the frame so we can have full access to the border).
  4. At the bottom scroll to find the borders icon.
  5. Choose desired border from the “XOXO” or “LOVE” pack.
  6. Pinch your photo to make it small and slide it off to the side until you no longer see your photo.
  7. Find the text icon below
  8. Type out your Valentines message.
  9. Choose font (we used Blackout Midnight)
  10. Position text on border.

With 20 different border backgrounds to choose from there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t be posting some fun + engaging content this Valentine’s Day! Tag the Instasize app on Instagram for a potential chance at being featured.
Instagram: @instasize.official

Let’s Talk About Love

Valentine’s Day is a bit of a non-starter in our house. Husband and I don’t really believe in having a prescribed day on which to love each other (although the big git always manages to buy me lovely presents for it, even though we say we aren’t going to!) so we don’t do the whole ‘romantic meal’ thing like other couples do, and one of our anniversaries is on 22nd February anyway, so it all feels a bit silly.

The Independent Pharmacy have put together a really interesting infographic to show a whole load of facts relating to love, sex and health, just in time for Valentines Day.
Sex, health, and romance on Valentine's Day.

I’m genuinely shocked that 53% of women would end their relationship if their partner didn’t get them something fancy and proudly count myself not part of this group! I also love the stat about how many babies are conceived on Valentines Day – November must be a really busy time in maternity wards across the land! All of the stats are actually really fascinating from a sociological point of view.

What’s your favourite stat from the infographic? Did any of them really surprise you? Do leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

THE PURGE (AKA, Don’t Stand Still or Mum Will Throw You in the Bin)

Before Christmas, we were lucky enough to be given a brand new sofa, and in preparation for this, I cleared every stick of furniture out of our living room and cleaned the carpet the day before it was delivered. As it turned out, I quite like having a lounge which isn’t stacked high with toys and other clutter, so much of what we moved has sat in the dining room since the beginning of December, making the room look like a huge version of Monica’s secret closet.

THE PURGE

Last week, I decided that enough was enough; we couldn’t live with one room that looked like one of those storage units, but the rest of the house was by no means ready to receive all of the stuff from my Room of Shame.

And so began…THE PURGE!

I started with the airing cupboard, taking out all of the duvet sets and sheets, and storing them in under-bed boxes, giving us a huge empty cupboard to use for other things. Then I moved on to the girls room, where I managed to clear out SIX black bags of clothes and two massive IKEA bags full of toys for charity, as well as four bags of rubbish, which gave us a whole bunch of empty storage in which to put all of the new things they got for Christmas. Next, I moved on to that dead space at the bottom of the wardrobes that I tend to fill up with things like old pairs of curtains and blankets which don’t really have another home, and managed to fill up two more bin bags of stuff for the charity shop.

My next job is to tackle The Room of Shame, but now that the rest of the house is so much clearer and we have plenty of space to tidy INTO, it doesn’t feel nearly as daunting – I don’t feel the need to start Googling ‘storage near me‘ anymore so that I can just move half of our belongings elsewhere!

The nice thing I’ve noticed is that the decluttering has had a really positive knock-on effect for my mental state, and our lives as a family. I’m taking more interest in other housework because the house looks nice and I want to KEEP it looking nice, and Sausage has a clear desk to do her homework on, rather than perching up at the coffee table each evening. BB has also taken an interest in helping me (in exchange for pocket money, of course!) to put washing away and do other little jobs, which is a habit I’m more than happy for her to get into. I think I’ll make The Purge a six-monthly thing so that we stay on top of it and don’t feel like we’re perpetually drowning in old clothes and toys!

Do you have a purge every now and again, or are you a bit of a hoarder? Do leave me a comment below.

Feel Good Contacts (review and discount code)

Last year, when I started going to the gym a lot, I quickly became aware that wearing glasses and lifting weights were not very compatible – there’s nothing quite so precarious as positioning yourself under a bar to do some heavy squats, only for your glasses to slide down your nose. You have the choice to either re-rack your bar and push them up (only for it to happen again as soon as you lift) or try to hold the bar with one hand while balanced on your shoulders and push them up. Trust me, neither are good options, and I realised that I’d need to give contact lenses another go if I wanted to carry on lifting.

For me, the best option was to have my eyes tested and have a contact lens consultation at a high street optician, and then use my prescription to buy my lenses online, which is what I’ve now been doing for over a year, however the lenses I’ve been using have been getting progressively more uncomfortable, so I knew I needed a change. As luck would have it, the guys from Feel Good Contacts got in touch as asked if I’d like to try some lenses from their range, so I jumped at the chance!

Feel Good Contacts packaging

Feel Good Contacts is the cheapest online retailer of contact lenses on the market and due to their Price Match guarantee, customers will not find their lenses cheaper anywhere else online, or on the high street. Feel Good can save customers up to 50% on their contact lenses. They also offer a ‘matching service’ which helps you to find an alternative to the lenses you already wear, giving you options. They also offer Next Day Delivery when you order before 7.15pm, which is amazing service!

The lenses that Feel Good Contacts originally wanted me to trial turned out to be unsuitable because I have an astigmatism in one eye and need a toric lens, but they were able to recommend some lenses for me (Coopervision Biofinity and Biofinity Toric) and they were absolutely spot on! I’ve been wearing them for almost a month and they’re the most comfortable lenses I’ve ever worn. Feel Good Contacts sent me a lens case and some solution with my lenses too, making it a perfect little package with everything I need. Delivery was really fast and everything was beautifully packed to fit through a letterbox so you don’t have to worry abut not being around when they’re delivered.

I have enough lenses to last me until the beginning of April, but I will 100% be using Feel Good Lenses to buy my contacts when I need to get some more as the combination of the price, the delivery and the customer service has all been amazing. If you’re thinking of making a change to your contact lens provide, I can highly recommend Feel Good Contacts and as an added bonus I have a discount code for Mum’s the Word readers to use, giving you an additional 12% off of – just enter STAYCOMFI12 at the checkout. Oh, and do come back and leave me a comment to tell me what you think of Feel Good Contacts, too!

BabyMel Changing Bag Giveaway (in association with Sudocrem and the Baby Changing Room Awards )

It’s crazy to think that in 2017, there are still public places with totally substandard changing facilities, but it’s a fact. Although both of my girls are well beyond the nappy phase, I still notice these things when we’re out and about and I’ve given more than one sympathetic eyeroll to a struggling Dad who doesn’t know whether to balance his kid on his lap to attempt a bum-change, or brave the ladies toilet where the ONLY changing facilities have been inconveniently placed. One place I never fail to be impressed by is our local IKEA. Not only to many of them have HUGE family toilets which have ample space for buggies and wheelchairs, their family loos also have an adult size toilet and a kid sized on in the same room so that everyone is catered for in one special space.

Sudocrem Baby Changing Room AwardsFive years ago, Sudocrem launched the Baby Changing Room Awards to celebrate exactly that – spaces which have been designed with ease and inclusiveness in mind, and this year’s nominations are now open. The awards aim to recognise the fact that “changing” is about SO much more than babies, and that there are children with complex needs who’s parents need adequate facilities to make their lives easier.

Parents like Laura Rutherford, whose son Brody, 5, suffers from GDD, epilepsy, hypermobility and hypotonia, is forced to change her son on a toilet floor. “Life beyond a baby changing table when your child is doubly incontinent means constant exclusions when you go out as a family. It’s heart breaking for us as parents and this is an issue that will sadly become harder and harder as he grows up. He is different not less. Time for change.”

Jenny Miller CEO of PAMIS explains, “We are thrilled that Sudocrem have recognized the needs of children with complex needs as they grow too large for baby changing facilities. Children and young people who require these facilities are often prevented from taking part in their communities by the simple things that we take for granted. In 2007 we cofounded the  Changing Places Consortium and campaign to develop accessible facilities for the most disabled people in the UK. The Sudocrem award scheme is a great idea and we’re confident it’s going to make a big difference!

If you would like to nominate a changing room for the award, then let us know which changing room, why you want to nominate it and preferably include a photo on Facebook via the Sudocrem website www.sudocrem.co.uk/social-hub or by emailing   competitions@satellitepr.com.

To promote the awards, Sudocrem is giving one lucky Mum’s the Word reader the chance to win a beautiful Babymel Frankie Tweed Nappy Change Bag worth £58.00.

Win a BabyMel changing bag with Mum's the Word and SudocremTo be in with a chance of winning, just complete the Rafflecopter widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and don’t forget to nominate your favourtie changing space in the Baby Changing Room Awards!