Thursday, 14 September 2017

Montessori: Following the Child's Interests.

I think one of the hardest but also easiest part of Montessori is "following the child". We try so hard to give Violet pretty much free reign, when it's safe to do so and more often than not, she will lead the way with whatever activity we're doing. It can be difficult at times, as obviously Violet doesn't understand dangers and can get quite upset when she is unable to wander off and do her own thing. However, when we're somewhere safe, it's easily my favourite part of Montessori. 
I often sit back and watch what Violet is playing with or doing with her toys and other miscellaneous items. For example, the last few weeks she's enjoyed putting things in baskets and transferring items from one basket to another. So we've developed this a little more this week and provided her with a few different types of bowls, baskets and bags to transfer her things. 

I'm loving that she's become a bit of a bookworm lately too. She will bring me books from her shelf several times a day and we will read them together, with her turning the pages when she's ready. Or she will sit on the floor or sofa and open and close the books and look at the pictures and photos. I did a whole post on Montessori-friendly books, here
But more than anything, Violet loves dogs. It was one of her first words, despite us not having a dog. I assume it's from spending lots of time at the park and on walks where we see dogs. I've been following this interest and set up a little station with different breeds of dog toys and some dog-themed books. She seems to have enjoyed exploring the different kinds of dogs and we've had fun reading about pooches too! Violet will correctly point and say "dog" whenever we see one, although she does tend to call most animals dog at the moment. 
I'm really enjoying allowing Violet to take the lead on her own play and learning and I can't wait to see what other interests she has as she's getting older. But I know secretly my hubby is hoping the dog interest is just a phase, I don't think we will be getting a puppy any time soon!

Katie xx

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Sony A6000 Hybrid Camera.

Sadly my Olympus Pen camera died on me suddenly a few weeks back. We've been coping just shooting away on our iPhones but last week we finally bit the bullet and picked up another camera. 

After a lot of discussion and a few recommendations we went with the Sony A6000 and I'm so please we did! We're both still getting to grips with the camera itself but I think we've mastered getting a pretty decent up-close photo of Violet. I've featured a few of my recent snaps in this post, so you can get an idea of the quality of the camera. 

I don't know a great deal about cameras, but I love that this has an eyepiece, unlike my Olympus Pen. Of course, you can still you the screen to take a photo too, but it is nice to take a photo the "traditional" way. It's really easy to change the size of lens too and I'm currently loving it around 45mm to get really great photos of Violet. 

I'm so happy we went with this camera. It takes amazing photos and is still stylish and compact, which is something we were looking for. Definitely a good choice for beginners too! 

If you have any tips and tricks for getting started with a new camera or if you have this one, I'd love to know more!

Katie xx

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Healing Violet's Skin.

I've always had very sensitive skin. I'm fair so burn easily, but also suffer with a rare skin condition and have generally awkward skin. And unfortunately that seems to be something Violet has inherited. 

Last week she came out in a mild rash, that very quickly turned into something more and despite seeing two pharmacists and two GPs no one could put their finger on what had caused it. I will apologise in advance for the close up photos, but we were keeping a close eye on the area. I've been so impressed with the healing process I needed to share my new found love for some products. This is in no way a sponsored post, just a very happy Mama. 

After speaking to a few of my friends, who's babies also suffer with problematic skin, the consensus was to give Aveeno a go. It's really easy to pick up in the supermarket so I thought it couldn't hurt to try. We picked up the Soothing Relief Baby Emollient Cream for the sore and dry areas and the Daily Care Hair and Body Wash for the bath. 

We have been religiously applying the emollient cream to the irritated area at every nappy change and lathering her entirely in the cream before bed. And the results are right below. Today marks a week since the first photo was taken and the improvement is remarkable. The area is well moisturised and the skin has renewed itself amazingly fast.
Again, we've only been using the body and hair care at bath time, to ensure we don't aggravate the skin again. I imagine this has helped with the cradle cap, Violet still has too! 
Before Aveeno
After 3 Days
After 5 Days

I am absolutely blown away with how quickly her skin has cleared up and how different it looks from a week a go. I was worried this was going to be a long term issue that we would struggle to get under control. But with the right products for her skin, we had definitely got on top of the issue and will continue with our regime to prevent it from happening again. 

If you're in the market for eczema prone skin, I would without a doubt recommend giving Aveeno a go. 

Katie xx

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Montessori-Friendly Charity Shop Finds.

You can spend hundreds if not thousands on things for your child, as a new parent. There are certainly a few things I would buy or not buy, next time around. Charity shops, car boot sale and even Facebook selling sites are great ways to pick up bargains and save yourself some money. So I thought I'd share a few of my recent Montessori-friendly second hand buys, these are all charity shop finds but I do love a car boot sale too!
EverEarth Musical Triangle - RRP £22, I paid £2.50
EverEarth Traingle Activity Centre - RRP £25, I paid £2.50

Plan Toys Chicken Puzzle (brand new) - RRP £15, I paid £1.99
Duplo Set - RRP £17, I paid £2.50
Plan Toys Drum (without stick) - RRP £20, I paid 99p
Small Rainmaker - RRP around £6, I paid 49p
Bonikka Doll (he was brand new; excuse his stain, V loves him) - RRP £15, I paid 75p
Vintage (1989) Peter Rabbit Shirt - RRP unknown, I paid 20p
All in One Waterproof (brand new) - RRP £20, I paid £2.99

I've picked up a few great finds at car boot sales and on Facebook selling sites recently too. Let me know if you like this kind of post and I will share my other bargains! 

Have you picked anything up in the charity shop lately?

Katie x

Sunday, 13 August 2017

DIY Beeswax Food Wraps.

Since having Violet I've become more and more aware of ensuring I look after this little planet of ours, as much as physically possible. It's no secret that I use way too much plastic and should be recycling more than I do. But I'm certainly on the way to making some more changes. Of course, we're doing our bit as V is in cloth nappies and I really do feel as though that's helping us make a difference but there is always more that we can do. 

I'm a sucker for anything that comes in plastic packaging - pastries, sandwiches, fruit salads and fizzy drinks. And really there is no need for me to be picking these things up when I'm out. I am really trying with choosing cans instead of bottles and need to invest in a reusable bottle. But for now I've managed to get around the excessive plastic sandwich packaging and made some DIY beeswax food wraps. 

These are so simple to make but really effective at keeping your food fresh on the fridge/cupboard or used to bring out some snacks for on the go. Plus they mean I'm cutting down on the amount of plastic I'm using on a daily basis. And making them yourself can save you lots of money from the pre-made beeswax wraps you can find online. These worked out around 25-50p each to make, bargain!

I had a good old google to find a step by step, but settled for this one from Apartment Therapy as it was the most straight forward. 

All you need is beeswax beads (I picked mine up from Amazon), some thin cotton-type fabric (I got scraps from eBay), scissors, baking paper, tin foil (optional) and an oven. 
1) Cut your wrap to size, it's entirely up to you what size or shape. I'd suggest trying a few different types of fabric too, some take to the wax better than others. 

2) Pre-Heat the oven to around 90 degrees Celsius. And lay out your tin foil and baking paper on top. 

3) Pop down your fabric and sprinkle an even coating of wax beads. You can always add more or re-melt to get the excess off of there is too much. 
4) Heat until the wax is melted. About 4-5 minutes. 

5) Take the wrap out of the oven and lift off the baking paper ensuring that the whole thing is covered in wax. Be careful as the wax may be warm but shouldn't be too hot to hold. 

6) The wax hardens quickly, so pop it down on a flat surface to fully dry and your wrap is ready to go!

Just a note to say make sure you wash with cool soapy water, anything too warm will melt the wax. 

It was a little trail and error to begin with but it was super quick and not too messy at all. We've tried our wraps out a few times already and I'm pleased to say they're doing a fab job at keeping our sandwiches fresh for picnics!

Let me know if you give these a go. 

Katie xx

Thursday, 3 August 2017

#SmarTdiscoveries with SmarTrike.

Before I was contacted about SmarTrike I hadn't even considered getting Violet a trike. I'm not sure why, but it just hadn't crossed my mind to even start looking for an alternative to her pushchair. So when we were asked if we'd like to review the recliner Infinity SmarTrike*, I couldn't resist giving it a go. 
Since this little number has been in our lives, going out to the park or for a walk has been so much more relaxing. It's incredibly easy to get her in and out, meaning she can walk when she wants but it's also really simple for me to pop her right back in. I love the one touch steering too, I can use one hand to guide the trike which is great when trying to hold a toddlers hand at the same time. It also makes it super easy to manoeuvre around shops and squeeze through little gaps in the library!
The trike has a recliner function, in case V does need a little snooze, although she is too nosey to nap when we're out an about. There are so many other options with the trike too. It's a 5-in-1 SmartTrike and can be used from 10-36 months, the hood can be removed and the pedals can be folded up. The front wheel can be disabled from use with the handles so parents still have full control when their little one isn't quite ready for independent riding! It also featured a fab bag on the back, which is the ideal for all the nappy and snack essentials we need when we're out. 
So far our trike has been to the park, library, shopping in the Trafford Centre and a farm. It's pretty much revolutionised our day trips. I'm so excited to take this out with us on even more trips. Violet is so much more content and clearly feels like she has more independence in the trike. I'm so pleased we took the chance on SmarTrike, I would absolutely recommend this to all her baby friends. 

Have you considered picking up a SmarTrike for your little one?

Katie xx

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Our National Trust Membership.

We'd been talking about getting a National Trust membership for sometime. My birthday came along and Mr A kindly surprised me with our joint membership. I don't think I've ever even so excited about such an "adult" present! 

I really feel like it's given us more freedom to explore and a good excuse to get outside no matter the weather. And we couldn't have joined at a better time. Not only is it a little warmer outside but the hubby is now off for the school holidays, we're getting every opportunity to visit new places. 

So far we've explored a few places in Cheshire Quarry Bank Mill and Dunham Massey. Quarry Bank Mill was a great day out, we walked around the mill and Violet watched the machinery demonstrations. Then we explored the gardens, which are beautiful and of course V adored the water running through. We will definitely be heading back again over the summer. 

Dunham Massey is somewhere we've always loved since moving to the North West. Dunham has gorgeous grounds where deer roam free but we've never actually been through to the paid entry areas. Of course with our membership, we got free parking and enters to the property and the gardens. We had a home-made picnic on the grass and Violet was free to practice her walking and to give her new SmarTrike* a good run around.  She loved the fact we were dining alfresco and that she could watch their children playing. As always the ducks and geese were her highlight of the day! 

When adding up the cost to entry the buildings, gardens and parking at both NT properties, we've easily got our few months of money worth. I could 100% recommend a National Trust membership and we will absolutely be continuing this as Violet gets older. I already have a list as long as my arm to visit over the new few weeks!

Do you have any NT recommendations?

Katie xx


Tuesday, 18 July 2017

6 Things I've Learnt in the First Year of Motherhood.

And so it's here. Violet's birthday is a mere two days away and I'm feeling strangely nostalgic. I keep thinking "this time last year..." and all the memories of pregnancy come flooding back as if it were yesterday. Today marks a year since I was 35+5 weeks pregnant and my waters went, marking the beginning of a long 32 hours of labour. I've never quite experienced anything as adrenaline-filled as knowing your baby is on its way. And nothing quite as frustrating as things not progressing as quickly as you'd hoped. But that was a whole 365 days ago, and here I am with an almost-one-year-old. Here's a few things I've learnt in my first year of being a Mother:

1) The love you have for your child, is 100%, without a doubt, unconditional. And just when you think you're full to bursting, you somehow love them just a little bit more each day. 

2) The human body, in particular us females, is absolutely incredible. Breastfeeding failures aside, I grew a baby. I don't think that truly sets in until you start watching them grow up. 

3) The speed a baby learns at is beyond amazing. Seven months ago Violet had just managed to sit up without throwing herself back or falling. Now V is walking! She's gone from lying on her back to actual walking in the space of seven months - that's actual craziness! Imagine if adults learnt at that speed, we'd all be super humans. 

4) Having another human rely solely on you for everything is an unbelievable responsibility, but the best thing in the world. Violet is incredibly independent and has been from a very young age but at the end of the day she still comes back to me to provide her with lots of love, cuddles and kisses. 

5) Not exactly, something I've learnt but our little family has been brought closer together. The hubby and I have worked as a team to make all the big parental decisions that need to be made in the first year of life. I couldn't have asked for a better partner in crime!

So happy almost birthday, to the most beautiful, clever and inquisitive little lady. We love you to the moon and back pretty girl. 

Mama xx

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Getting Ready for One.

Untitled #89

I know I keep saying it but I really can't believe Violet will be one next week! It's crazy how quickly time goes when you have children. And crazy how quickly they grow out of things and are ready for the next stage or milestone. So after browsing the web, I've managed to pick out some bargains ready for the next few months as Violet is getting older. 

Unbelievably we're almost ready for the next stage car seat. No more newborn seat, but an actual big girls chair. We've been eyeing up some of the chairs from Joie for a while but buying a new car seat is a big decision. Ideally we want another with an ISOfix base, but I think that still leaves our options pretty open. 

It's official, the bottle has gone during the day. Violet is still having milk at bedtime and one bottle overnight but dropping them will come over time. During the day she's having lots of water and loves the novelty of using a straw or sippy cup. These ones from Tommee Tippee are fab, they are insulated so keep water nice and cool too. 

As V has a summer birthday, I love the idea of a garden party to celebrate. If the weather is on our side, we will certainly be outside playing in the paddling pool. However, I'd love to get a few more bits for the garden. This picnic bench is just the sweetest thing and could easily be used for some arts and crafts as well as meal times. 

The crab paddling pool is definitely an upgrade on our basic pool. Violet is pretty much obsessed with the hose pipe so I really wanted to get her a sprinkler type inflatable too. Let's cross everything for the sun to be shining on her birthday weekend!

It's just crazy that we're preparing for moving into the second year of Violet's life. But I'm so excited to celebrate with her and continue to watch her grow into a very independent little lady. 

Katie xx

Monday, 10 July 2017

The New Way to Travel.

Last month we were kindly asked if we wanted to be a part the YippeeYo* ambassador and after seeing so many fab reviews and photos, we couldn't say no. So what is a YippeeYo? It's a pull-along style buggy that can be used on pretty much any terrain. 

Our YippeeYo arrived swiftly, very well packaged with lots of foam peanuts, in three pieces. We attached the wheels very easily and the buggy was ready to go. The seat has space for two children, so Violet can take a friend or Stan her teddy bear with her! The harness is easy to adjust and tightens perfectly around Violet, despite her being small for her age. 

We've taken the YippeeYo on a few trips now and always found it easy to manoeuvre around. We've even had it on the beach, which was lots of fun and definitely easier than taking the pushchair. Violet loves the fact it's close to the ground too and she can have a good look at everything that's going on. 

Keep an eye on my social media for lots more YippeeYo fun!

Katie xx

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