Reasons To Be Cheerful

1. It's Christmas! I don't normally do much to celebrate, but want to change that now Little Lady is here. Daddy only got Christmas Day off, but it was a great day. Little Lady was spoiled, by us and others. Kiki is also amazingly great at buying pressies, she has a lot to live up to. I have, amongst others, a new sewing machine (yay!) and an ereader.

2. I'm overeating, now that probably doesn't sound like a reason to be cheerful, but I know that's a sign all is not well. Not sure of reasons why, but I'm aware of it, at least. So that's good, right?

3. There has been a few events that have happened recently, where the 'old me' would have tried to help / get involved, classic case of dealing with everyone else's problems so I don't have to deal with my own.

I know these reasons might not seem logical to you, but to me they are huge steps forward. Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend x

Reasons to be Cheerful

This week's reasons to be cheerful.
For more information on what Reasons to Be Cheerful (#R2BC) is all about please check out this post from Michelle at Mummy from the Heart for a full description.

  1. Michael Bublè! Had a good night at the tribute night. I was feeling sick and queasy beforehand, and overindulged in alcohol (possibly as a consequence), but meal was nice and spent some time away from everything with daddy.
  2. I am getting a new sewing machine for Christmas! I am so excited about this. I have been trying to learn but it takes 10x's as long to do anything with my ancient knackered machine, I'm hoping to get more actually done!
  3. Kiki's nanna (F) came round on Tuesday, she has had a lot going on in her life lately, (deaths, illness, etc.) but she always finds time for us. Given that she isn't family officially, she does more for us than almost anyone. I am very grateful for her.
  4. (An extra this week) I won a DVD of Guess How Much I Love You from Kate On Thin Ice's blog. I love the books and can't wait to watch with Little Lady.

 Little Lady

The 12 Days of Canvas Competition

The 12 Days of Canvas Competition
(A sponsored post) 
It’s (nearly) Christmassss!
Everybody needs a reason to be merry at Christmas and what better way to create some Christmas cheer than to have a sweepstake and give away some amazing prizes!

YourImage2Canvas are currently running the 12 Days of Canvas Christmas competition on their Facebook and Twitter page. The 12 Days of Canvas started on Monday, 10th December and will run until Friday, 21st December. 

Each day, for twelve days, a new fun competition is announced on either the YourImage2Canvas Facebook page or the YourImage2Canvas Twitter page. Participants then compete from 9am to 5pm in a sweepstake to win canvas print prizes; entrants can win some fantastic prizes including YourImage2Canvas gift vouchers and beautiful canvas prints. The perfect last minute gift or a nice home addition for Christmas.

Are you looking for a last minute Christmas present or stocking filler? If you have a friend, wife, husband, brother or cousin then a personalised canvas print is the perfect sentimental gift, and a great way to showcase special photographs around your home.

Just like YourImage2Canvas on Facebook and Follow them on Twitter to see how you can get involved.

Good luck!

Saving money - mum's method

I was watching Martin Lewis's show on Tuesday and he mentioned the downshift challenge. If you're already a fan of moneysavingexpert then you'll no doubt have heard of this. Basically, you drop down a level at the supermarket:

1) Premium (Finest, best)
2) Brands own (Kellogg's, Bisto)
3) supermarkets own brand
4) supermarket value

Martin suggests by doing this you could save £1000's, full details here. He does say also there maybe things you prefer buying at the next level up. His point is that you buy with your wallet, not your head. How many times have you thought x is better because a) you know the brand or b) it's a named brand?

He has done various tests and often people can't tell or prefer cheaper brands. I personally prefer cheap supermarket cola, for example, I think Pepsi & Coca Cola taste like syrup, but it is down to personal preference. If you don't like, say value beans, you move up a level on that item each week.
There's a thread on about the best and worst from each label.

I tweeted @MartinSLewis during the show when he mentioned the downshift challenge and said what about if you have to buy savers range anyway. The response was 'little we can do on that'.
Now I think he missed a good marketing point here.
Yes, I know he sold moneysavingexpert but it is a mine of useful info. How about a link to:

For me the easiest way to save money, plan meals in advance, yes it sounds like school, Tuesday we have fish, Wednesday meatballs but you can buy what you need with no waste.

I debated writing all meals down on paper and tombola style picking them out, eccentric but fun, well for me.

Another great point, again a MSE board supermarket reductions here and here. Find out when & where, and how your local supermarket reduce stock, insider knowledge.

Also use your local market / farm shop / butchers. They will tell you what is in season, how to prepare and cook.

If you can't cook, now is the time to learn. There are ways for almost everyone:
  • Cooking class (adult education centre / Jamie's ministry of food), apps, 
  • good old fashioned books (library, ebay, charity) online (good recipes and usually helpful hints and tips from people actually using the recipe),
  • experimenting (cooking isn't baking, throw what you want in, weights & measures don't really count, just a bit of sense! And I say this with a lot of end of the month meals coming from less than a carrier on Ready, Steady, Cook!)
  • Asking an elderly / lonely neighbour or family member, many family recipes are lost. You'll learn a new skill and (hopefully) they'll enjoy the company. Offer something in return and make them happy too, your first cake, Christmas lunch, first meal of new year. My neighbour, although elderly has a better social calendar than me, so what about some DIY / window cleaning.

Kate (on Thin Ice) mentioned some great ideas on her How to save money at Christmas post.

How about merging the Christmas presents and money saving one? Only things you make? Now this can turn into a nightmare if you're not careful. I tried a homemade Christmas last year, everyone got food gifts, but I made most into a hamper and costs got way out of hand.
  • Fudge is easy to make and can be flavoured with different things easily.
  • Gingerbread men? The perfect man? You can bake some for friends, attach a poem. Done.
  • Snowman poop? Reindeer poop? Reindeer food? Get the kiddos involved, the love and fun is the point of Christmas. Yes, I'd love a xyz but its not something I can bask in the warm glow of, well unless it's the SMEG fire I want!
As with cooking, if you can't sew, learn! The Internet is full of free sewing patterns as are libraries. Buy old clothes and take them apart for the fabric. Not only will you have one offs but you'll see and learn how they were constructed. Again remember that lovely lady two doors down? Ask her if she sews and could teach you. An hour a week, for a meal, a cup of tea, history transcribed for next generations, her floors mopped, whatever.

A final thought, have you checked if you could get a better deal on broadband packages?

Please leave me a comment with any other ideas you have.

Reasons to be Cheerful

This week's reasons to be cheerful.

For more information on Reasons to Be Cheerful (#R2BC), check out this post from Michelle at Mummy from the Heart for a full description.
  1. I'm going to see Michael Bublè tonight! Well a tribute but as close as I'm getting. If you wonder why I'm so giddy... look at A-Z of Me.
  2. My brother rang me. We are getting back to the relationship we once had. He has asked us to move nearer to him. An opportunity we discussed.
  3. My NSPCC Postnatal Depression group finished. Although I am sad to be leaving such a lovely group, I hope to continue with the friendships we (myself and Kiki) have made.

I'm sorry it's short this week.

A Positive Result

A Positive Result

A positive result
The test was positive, so wasn't I?
In another life I'd tried so hard
Wanted so much
It had been seen as the next step,
Inevitable, easy, expected.
But it wasn't to be,
Now after everything,
It happened.

As you grew, so did I,
Both of us developing,
Growing independantly, but as one...
As your strength developed, mine wained.
I was torn between doing the right thing,
Whatever that was or is,
Did I deserve you?
Did you deserve me?
I felt you deserved better.
That you were worth more.
I wanted you to have the best.
Was this the start of me becoming a true mother?

Baby Sleep Issues

As I said in this week's Reason to be Cheerful post, the Little Lady is coming along great, definitely developing her personality, and exerting her independence. 

However, this is turning bedtimes in to a nightmare! I was very lucky that she slept through (12am - 6am) from 3 weeks; although that made me feel like a horrible person at the time. I mean some parents are up all night and I was depressed?!

For some reason at the moment she doesn't want to go to bed. Up until the last couple of weeks she was going to bed about 9pm until 7 - 8am, settling herself in between, and 2 or 3 daytime naps of 30 minutes if I was lucky. Now she just won't settle on a night. I've tried extra feeds, both during day and a larger night feed; controlled crying; soothing bedtime lullaby light projector with just music, just lights, both.

I haven't tried incorporating baths in to a bedtime routine as they usually make her quite excitable!

Please leave me a comment telling me your hints and tips.

Blog Names, Titles, and Taglines

Yet another Reason to be Cheerful post started with:
but onwards and upwards
...and all that jazz...

I mentioned I am thinking of changing the name of this blog, and seen as 'Onwards & Upwards' is becoming a theme, maybe this should be the new one?

My other thought was 'Meh, Meh, Me'.

How did you choose your blog name? Any flashes of inspiration to share? Do comment and let me know.

Reasons to be Cheerful

Another blah week really, but onwards and upwards... And all that jazz.
Actually I'm thinking of changing the name of my blog, and 'Onwards & Upwards' is becoming a theme. 
Either that or 'Meh Meh Me'. 

For more information on Reasons to Be Cheerful (#R2BC), check out this post from Michelle at Mummy from the Heart for a full description.

  1. Number one this week has to be that Daddy had another job interview today, (that's 4 from 200+ applications!). It went well and he starts a trial tomorrow. It's only temporary until Christmas at moment, but he's working and earning more than the £40 a week Condemnation think he needs to live on. 
  2. My depression has been a struggle lately, it has been great to have my carer around more, but the more time you spend with someone, the more time you have to row. For Daddy, it's been hard not to work, he's never been out of work in 20+ years. For me, I had someone there when I wrote the days off and went to bed; or just didn't get out of it. We have had some good moments, I wouldn't go so far as to say days, but... well you know. I also had a good appointment with my CPN, she's a lovely lady, good at letting me rant it out. With a wicked sense of humour too. 
  3. The Little Lady is coming along great, definitely developing her personality, and exerting her independence. Which is fantastic and awe inspiring, but turning bedtimes in to a nightmare!
I hope you are all having a fantastic week and have something wild and exciting to look forward to this weekend.

See you next week x 

Reasons to be Cheerful

I'm late with my reasons to be cheerful this week, sorry!
I'm still having a flat time of it of late. I think I'm beginning to figure out why, but it takes time to a) identify and b) find the strength and motivation to do anything about it.
  1. It was Daddy's birthday on Friday and he said I did well with presents. I love giving presents and seeing people's reactions. Unfortunately when I'm not well and depression is in full force, it's very self destructive. I second guess myself, and end up thinking I'm useless, I've got it so wrong. Being told I got good things, even if I did go overboard is a sense of pride and acknowledgement that I am doing OK. 
  2. We had planned to go out for said birthday, but unfortunately my friend who was babysitting ended up getting flu and feeling rubbish. I'm sure it didn't help that she felt she was letting us down. I told her I would rather she was better, I need her! I did manage to get another friend to babysit, so we could go.  
  3. The friend who had Kiki on Friday let her stay overnight, so I had the whole night off too. It was the first time I've been away from my baby for more than an hour or two. It was hard, but I knew she was being looked after well. 
  4. We finally had our CAF closed too.

I'm struggling this week, so hope everyone else is feeling cheerful! x

Chicco Bubble Gym Play Mat

Chicco Bubble Gym Play Mat

A few weeks ago I agreed to test the Chicco Bubble Gym Play mat through Mumsnet.

Chicco description:
A great new gym and play mat with colourful fun design and decoration. The large diameter mat is soft and well padded, and has a soft shaped pillow with cute hedgehog design! The perfect surface for baby to explore whilst developing coordination and muscles!

The gym toy bar arches have 7 multi-activity hanging toys providing babies with lots of fun and stimulation. Featuring a mirror, crinkles, squeaks and teethers!

The arches support an electronic activity panel with multi-coloured soft light effects, 25 minutes of musical melodies and fun sounds. Its also possible to safely and securely connect your Mp3 player and personalise the playlist for baby, to increase the fun or help them relax on the soft mat!!

When the box arrived I thought 'What the heck?!' It was huge! I mean 70cm squared is a large playmat, would I even have the room to lay it out? Thankfully the excessive packaging was just to ship to me, the actual toy box was pretty normal sized. Kiki immediately enjoyed the polystrene chips it was packed in with. 

My first impression of the Chicco Bubble Gym Play Mat and it's packaging:
It looked bright and fun, also I liked that the 'pillow' is separate and not inbuilt, meaning Kiki could use it when laid on her back or front, wherever she wanted. The packaging quite difficult to undo, silly cable ties. Some toys for the arches are attached with Velco, however the toys not on Velcro strips, i.e. red / green plastic rings, were very fiddly and difficult to hang. I imagine anyone with any dexterity problems would be very frustrated quickly.

What did Kiki think about Chicco Bubble Gym Play Mat?
She loved looking at the colours and grabbed quite happily for the toy hanging from the centre. She really didn't like the lights, I think they may have been too low, but enjoyed the music aspect of it.

We have been able to lie on the mat whilst listening to music / audiobooks. She was able to reach toys above her hands, whilst kicking others. 

She is trying to move towards her favourite toys, shuffling along. It encouraged her to reach for things out of her immediate environment.

Thoughts on the "Happy Moments" (A booklet of offers Chicco provide to customers)?
I have looked at the booklet but nothing really appealled to me, so I don't think I will use any of them.

Would I recommend Chicco Bubble Gym Play Mat to other parents?
I would recommend Chicco Bubble Gym Play Mat, after you get passed the faff of getting the gym out of the box and toys attached! I like that the toys can be swapped around and that the pillow is separate. It is great that the mat itself is easy to wipe if there any accidents. I really enjoyed the music element and was able to lie with my baby listening to music or audiobooks.

Is the Chicco Bubble Gym Play Mat is value for money?
I think it's reasonable for the money, but not sure whether people would prefer an inbuilt MP3 player, not always practical to attach phone, so may have to purchase separate player.

I was picked by MNHQ to review this product/ service, which I received for free. This review is in my own words and reflects my true opinion.

Geekalicious: How To Back Up Your Blogger Blog

I recently found this post by Nickie O'Hara at Geekalicious, and have to say:

a) I have never even thought about it before,
b) I cannot believe how easier it is,
c) why had I not found her before?

I have just followed Nickie's step-by-step guide and have now backed up my blog in a matter of minutes, and it was so easy.

It you have not backed up your blog yet, go do it now! 

Celebrating the small things

As I mentioned in my last Reasons to be cheerful post, I've been feeling a bit flat.
After a rubbishy weekend for a couple of reasons, including the one that's making my head want to EXPLODE right now, I am trying to accept and celebrate the small wins.

On Friday morning, me & Kiki had a CAF meeting with various people including my Health Visitor, my CPN and as couple of Outreach workers who are involved with us.

A CAF (Common Assessment Framework) is about supporting children / families with additional needs. For more detailed information, please view the web link here.

My Health Visitor initially discussed with and the staff when I was an inpatient at The Mount. It was to provide us with additional help, should the need arrive.

Unfortunately there wasn't much help around at the beginning, not because of a lack of support, purely because everything seems to shut down for the summer holidays!

Anyway, at the meeting it was agreed both myself & Kiki were doing OK, so the CAF has now been closed.

Only a little win, but a victory for us none the less.

Reasons to Be Cheerful

So last week I started up my Reasons to Be Cheerful posts again. How has my week been?


That's basically it. I have felt flat for no 'real' reason, nothing majorly wrong, just not content. For every positive, I'm finding at least one negative! But onwards and upwards, and all that jazz.... 

For more information on Reasons to Be Cheerful (#R2BC), check out this post from Michelle at Mummy from the Heart for a full description.

  1. I finally made my baby some drool bibs, I have been meaning to use the FQ's I bought for some time, so that's a plus. Kiki has been drooling excessively, so another good point. I wont tell you how much time and stress it took!
  2. Following on from last week's post, the 30 Days of Friends Competition has had comments! As a blogger , I love comments. They make me feel that it's not just me talking to myself, all though I'm, cool with that! lol Thank you to everyone that comments. I read lots of blogs, especially on my mobile, so I can't alwys reply, but appreciate every single person that takes times to reply.
  3. Again, horrible news of children being killed. The debate around dangerous dogs being made extinct surfaces. Along with, there is no such thing as a dangerous dog, just dangerous owners (which is the side I'm on, if you are interested). I am lucky I have a great dog, a true family pet. I got him from a rescue centre six years ago. He is great with my daughter, very protective, but not possessive. And the Little lady is doing well.

What are your reasons to be cheerful this week? 

Baby Bibs

My little one has been teething for what feels like months now. She is constantly trying to put thing in her mouth to bite on, see previous post about MAM teethers for smaller babies. As well as this, she is a seriously drooly baby! I not overly concerned, I wipe her face often & have cream to add if any redness appears but as any parent knows, drooly baby = soaking wet tops, several changes a day. As if babies don't need changing often enough!

I have been looking at bibs I could leave on, but the either look like she's about to eat or are expensive. I mean seriously £5 for a bib? So I turned to the Internet. I looked for patterns for the bandanna style bibs. The first one I tried was shaped, supposedly to look like it was draped, but I didn't like it.

My next attempt was to use some of the FQ's (fat quarters) of material I bought for making bunting for the nursery, which to be honest I had no chance of making whilst ill and suffering from serious case of CBA syndrome.

I cut the material (2 different fabrics, 1 of the tattoo inspired one and 1 of the Jolly Roger one) in to 14" inch squares and the in half diagonally.

I picked up a plain white bath towel in a charity shop to use a backing, hoping it will hold a large puddle. I cut two 14" squares and again cut diagonally.

With the right side of the material facing each other, wrong side up, I machine sewed a seam approximately 1/4 inch in all around, barring a small gap in one of the straights. Not the corner, made that mistake with first prototype, very difficult to turn right way.

Turn material right way out, poking corners out with scissors, knitting needle, etc. 

Sew again on right side (if wanted).

Sew Velcro tabs to either side of points.
I should point out that I made a small error here, I actually picked up the wrong velco, I bought self adhesive stuff. As it wasn't strong enough to remain in place, I atempted to stitch edges. It ruins needles quickly and clogs machine. 
Don't do it! 

And viola. One cute dribble bib.

Add to child!