Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Your Baby Box

So as you probably already know, the V Family are expecting a new addition very soon. It might be baby number four for us but as baby products are always changing and each child tends to have different needs it can sometimes be difficult to find the right product to suit. 

This is why I was so thrilled with the samples I received in my Your Baby Box from Your Baby Club. It gives me the chance to try out some new products without having to spend a fortune to do so.

Your Baby Box

My sample box contained:
  • A Nuby UberSoother
  • A MAM Anti Colic Self Sterilizing Bottle
  • Tommee Tippee Weaning Spoons
  • Ella's Kitchen Organic Baby Food
  • A Bibetta Neoprene Bib
  • A sachet of Paddy's Bathroom Bubbly Stuff Bubble Bath
  • Tommee Tippee Bath and Room Digital Thermometer
  • Metanium Everyday Barrier Ointment
  • Macmillan Children's Books Reading guide
  • A Planet Cards Catalogue

What is Your Baby Box?

Started by Your Baby Club, when they grew disappointed with other free packs (the ones you can pick up at boots… you know the ones!) Your Baby Box is a free gift to pregnant women and new mums which contains samples and products that might come in useful with a new baby. Delivered straight to your door, with a value of around £15.00 and is 100% free of charge!

If you like the sound of this simply sign up to Your Baby Club HERE and enter the daily competition to win a box – and because Your Baby Club send out 5000 every month, if you don’t win first time round, you're likely to win within 1-4 days of entering. 

Good luck!  

About Your Baby Club 

Your Baby Club is a place for mums to join brand parenting clubs, enter competitions, claim free samples, free trials, discounts, free parenting magazines, catalogues, vouchers, parenting apps and MORE – all in one place. Their goal is to provide families with substantial insight into baby brands so they can make an informed decision as to what they want spend their money on. They also support a number of charities including Count the Kicks, and Meningitis Now as they believe it is important to sponsor causes that matter most to mums. 

You can also connect with Your Baby Club on Twitter (@YourBabyClub) and Facebook (@YourBabyClubUK).

I received this sample box as a gift for our upcoming baby from Sway PR and FanFinders. 


Friday, 15 July 2016

Theraline Maternity and Feeding Pillow Review

It's no secret that I haven't particularly been enjoying this pregnancy (other than feeling the baby moving of course, who wouldn't love that)! 

One of my many complaints was about trying to get comfortable at night, I just couldn't seem to find a position that worked for me. I even resorted to stealing extra pillows from my husband and children to try to boost myself up and get more comfy. But, as they say, crime never pays and I still couldn't find a happy position.

Then the Theraline Maternity Pillow came into my life and completely changed things for the better.

Theraline Maternity and Feeding Pillow

I had the best sleep I'd had in ages on the very first night I used it. Let me tell you why...

It's filled with micro beads which means the pillow adjusts to my shape, providing me with the support and comfort I so desperately need at this point in my pregnancy (currently 30 weeks).

Theraline Maternity and Feeding Pillow

I've also been struggling with some pelvic pain in recent weeks and this pillow has been an absolute godsend. It helps with the pain at night because I can wrap myself around it and tuck the end of the pillow between my legs.

Theraline Maternity and Feeding Pillow

During the day I use it on the sofa in a 'U' shape to give my pelvis extra support. I even take it with me on car journeys (though obviously not when I'm driving) and when visiting family and friends!

Theraline Maternity and Feeding Pillow

The material is soft and cosy but the best part for me is that I don't overheat when I'm using it - somehow it keeps me snug and cool all at the same time. While I'm on the subject, you might like to know that it's anti-allergenic and the cover can be washed at 60°C.

Theraline Maternity and Feeding Pillow

Not only does it support my bump, back, legs and pelvis, but because of it's length it also supports my head and neck. I think pregnant women need as much support as they can get in all areas so any product that gives this much comfort is a winner in my eyes!

Theraline Maternity and Feeding Pillow

The pillow has so many possible uses and I just love that versatility. I'll be having my fourth c-section so I know it will be a great support after my op. It'll also be perfect for feeding baby, helping our other children hold baby comfortably and even supporting baby as it grows.

Theraline Maternity and Feeding Pillow

It's not just me who has taken a shine to the pillow in our household - both N and E manage to sneak a snuggle on the pillow whenever they can. Let battle for the pillow commence!

Theraline Maternity and Feeding Pillow

The Theraline Maternity and Feeding pillow can be purchased from Boots for £44.95 (price correct at the time of writing this review) and is worth every penny in my opinion. It screams quality from the moment it arrives in it's stylish bag which, by the way, is perfect for travelling with.

Theraline Maternity and Feeding Pillow

The only thing left for me to say is thank you. Thank you to Theraline for creating such a wonderful product and vastly improving my pregnancy experience this time around. I only wish I had one of these for my previous three pregnancies.

Are you pregnant and in need of some comfort? Do you already own a Theraline Pillow and have something to add? I'd love to hear from you.

I received this product for review purposes. I am always honest in my reviews and all opinions are my own or that of my family.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The Dreamday Pattern Journals Review

You may or may not already know that I love stationery - yes, I'm a stationery addict. Notebooks, journals and pretty much any kind of paper product have always been a favourite of mine which means that I have quite a collection (I do write lots of to-do lists though so I am managing to work my way through them). 

When the opportunity arose to try out a couple of The Dreamday Pattern Journals, I simply couldn't say no!

The Dreamday Pattern Journals

These gorgeous notebooks are so different to any of the others in my collection because they are not only great for writing but also colouring-in, musing, drawing and doodling. Such a great way to get some stress-relief.

The Dreamday Pattern Journals

If you're anything like me you might find yourself drawing little patterns while you're thinking about what to write next. These notebooks are perfect for that little quirk because scattered throughout each book are some beautifully patterned colouring pages. These pages are inspired by iconic design locations - I received the Japanese style (the 5th in the Dreamday Pattern Journal series) and Moroccan style (the 6th in the series) which are due to be released this month.

Other titles, already released, include: Mid-Century Modern, Art Deco, Heraldic and Renaissance. Each notebook has a RRP of £10.95.

The Dreamday Pattern Journals

The notebooks have a combination of pages: blank with patterned, double blank and even double patterned which I have to admit are my favourite.

The Dreamday Pattern Journals

The Dreamday Pattern Journals

The feeling of quality and luxury is something that really stood out for me. Published by Laurence King Publishing and designed in London by Pentagram, one of the world's most iconic design studios, each notebook contains over one hundred pages of uncoated ivory paper.

The Dreamday Pattern Journals

The front of each notebook has a space for your details or whatever information you want to use it for (perhaps the title of your next novel)!

The Dreamday Pattern Journals

As soon as they arrived I couldn't resist writing a quick list and doing a spot of doodling at the same time.

The Dreamday Pattern Journals

N also took a shine to them, I discovered this after she had disappeared with one for a while...

The Dreamday Pattern Journals

She has since taken over that particular notebook, hiding it in her room so E can't get her little mitts on it.

These stunning notebooks are fun to use and have made a fantastic addition to my collection (and N's). I think they're a must-have for any stationery addict!

Are you a stationery addict? Do you have a Dreamday Pattern Journal or are you itching to add one to your collection? I'd love to hear from you.

I received these products for review purposes. I am always honest in my reviews and all opinions are my own or that of my family.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Sterilisation During A C-Section

Regular V Family Fun readers will know that I'm due to have my fourth c-section this September. 

As soon as I found out I was pregnant I knew that this would definitely be the last time - I was 100% sure that I didn't want to be pregnant again or have any more children (four children is enough for anyone, right)! 

When I mentioned this to my midwife, she told me that I could be sterilised at the same time as my c-section to prevent any future pregnancies. This sounded like the perfect solution for me so after some thought (it's a big decision after all) I asked her to put the request in my notes.

Every time I see my midwife she double checks that it's still what I want and when I saw my consultant he did the same before explaining that it's an irreversible procedure where, depending on what they find once they've opened me up, all or part of my tubes will be removed.

From what I've read online it only adds around an extra five minutes to the c-section although I'll probably be too distracted by our baby to even realise how long they're taking anyway!

I'd love to hear from anyone who has been through this... Does it really only add a few minutes to the c-section? Does it add to the recovery time afterwards?  Did you experience more pain afterwards? Did the sterilisation actually work (I've heard that it doesn't always work)? If you can answer my questions please leave a comment below.

I'll post an update after the big event in September with my own experience of having a sterilisation during a c-section so if you're considering this as an option I may be able to answer your questions by then.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Low-Lying Placenta (Placenta Praevia)

As I write this post I'm currently 29 weeks pregnant. I was around 21 weeks when I went for my anomaly scan and the sonographer discovered that I had a low-lying placenta (also known as Placenta Praevia) which was slightly overlapping my cervix.

Low-Lying Placenta

I had to have an internal scan there and then to double-check that it was in fact low (it was) and then she told me I would need another scan (external and internal) at 32 weeks to see if it had moved. I already had an appointment booked with my consultant for a few weeks later so she didn't give me much information at that time, only that I should go straight to hospital if I started bleeding.

I left the scan feeling upset and a bit of a failure to be honest - why was my body not working right! I had never had this problem before, the placenta had been high in all three of my previous pregnancies. 

When I got home I googled the condition and was hit with a variety of information, the scariest being that if I started to bleed it could be life-threatening to both me and the baby. No wonder the sonographer was so insistent that I went to hospital if I had a bleed!

If you find yourself in the same position, I would recommend the nct website, it contains clear information about Placenta Praevia which is easy to understand and not quite as scary as some of the other websites out there.

At my consultant appointment I was told that the vast majority of women who have a low-lying placenta at the anomaly scan will not have it by the time they have the 32 week scan. Apparently as your uterus expands with the pregnancy, the placenta moves with it - away from the cervix. He also said it was a good thing that mine is posterior because it would be less likely to attach to any previous c-section scar tissue and is therefore more likely to move up.

He said I should avoid sexual intercourse and tampons (I'm not sure why anyone would use tampons when they're pregnant but I suppose he had to cover all bases) until the 32 week scan just in case the placenta hasn't moved and it causes bleeding. I'm assuming if it has moved up at that point I'll have the go ahead to continue with that particular area of my life (no, I'm not talking about tampons)!

So how will it affect the birth of our baby? Regular V Family Fun readers will know that I've already had three c-sections so either way I'll be having another one. According to my consultant, if the placenta has moved up then baby will be delivered at 39 weeks. If it is still low at the 32 week scan then the c-section will be brought forward.

Now it's just a waiting game - I'll be sure to post an update after the scan (fingers crossed for good news).

In other ways the pregnancy is going well - I'm pleased to share that the glucose tolerance test I had last week showed that I don't have gestational diabetes. Every test and appointment brings me one step closer to holding our baby in my arms and that's what this is all about isn't it!

Have you experienced Placenta Praevia or do you know anyone who has? I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Wet Head and Air Storm Z-Tec Bow Review

If you asked my children what their favourite part of having a blogger for a mum is, no doubt they would tell you that getting to try out toys and games for the blog is definitely the best part. I can see their point, as a child I would've loved receiving things like this in the post...

Wet Head and Air Storm Z-Tec Bow

I had to hold them back so that I could get some photos of the toys before they got stuck into playing!

Wet Head was the first to be unpacked. This is the game that is poised to replace Pie Face in 2016 so we had high expectations.

Wet Head

So what's in the box?
  • Hat
  • Water Tank
  • 8 Pins
  • Spinner
Wet Head

Wet Head

It was really simple to set up and once we'd filled the tank up with water, we were ready to play.

Wet Head

We had a few practice games indoors before taking it over to my parents house where we played it in the garden - it's a brilliant game to play outside on a warm day!

Wet Head 
Once the hat is in place, you spin the spinner and follow the instructions.

Wet Head

In my opinion the anticipation is what makes this game so exciting, wondering if the pin you're pulling out is going to get you drenched or not. If you manage to avoid a soaking then you can pass the hat onto the next player.

Although the game is aimed at children aged 4+, E wanted to play too (and no, she didn't get wet)! 

Wet Head

There was lots of laughter when the wrong pin was pulled and that player got wet, especially when it was Grandad.

Wet Head

Wet Head

There is another twist. Players have the option to play with the included spinner or download the free Wet Head Challenge app and ask each trivia questions. Players can also create their own way to challenge family and friends! 

The Wet Head Challenge app is available on iOS and Android. It includes fun trivia questions and a special recording feature. The record feature allows players to capture every drenching moment and share their videos on YouTube or social media. Use #WetHeadChallenge to join in on the splash of fun and to see what others are posting!

Price £19.99rrp.

Next up was the Air Storm Z-Tec Bow.

Air Storm Z-Tec Bow

The box contained the bow and three arrows.


We also took this to my parents house because their garden is bigger than ours and we thought we'd be less likely to lose the arrows. Hmm, unfortunately that wasn't the case because T shot the very first arrow straight into the neighbours garden! 

Luckily my parents have friendly neighbours so we soon retrieved the arrow and play continued.

Air Storm Z-Tec Bow

There were two whistling arrows and one with a suction cup. Each arrow has two hooks which you can clip straight onto the bow making it quick and easy to load.

Air Storm Z-Tec Bow

Air Storm Z-Tec Bow

Other than E, we all had a go with this too and I'm actually not sure who enjoyed it more - the children or the adults!

Air Storm Z-Tec Bow

Shooting the arrows straight up into the air proved to be one of the most popular activities with the Air Storm Z-Tec Bow. 

Air Storm Z-Tec Bow

It can travel distances of 100 feet so it was really interesting to see it flying high into the sky (and trying to guess where it would land).

Air Storm Z-Tec Bow

This is recommended for children aged 8+ and is priced £19.99rrp.

I would recommend both of these toys if you're looking for some fun, new games this summer. I particularly loved their versatility, how we could play with each item in so many different ways.

Do you already own either of these products or do you think your family would enjoy them as much as mine has? I'd love to hear from you.

I received these products for review purposes. I am always honest in my reviews and all opinions are my own or that of my family.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Pregnancy Cravings!

Today I'd like to talk about pregnancy food cravings. You know, the ones that make you feel like if you don't get said item in your tummy now you just will not survive the next ten minutes. Please note: pregnant women can be quite dramatic!

Now when I'm not pregnant I'm a crisp kinda girl but as soon as I become pregnant I'm all about the sugar. Thank goodness I take good care of my teeth.

When I was pregnant with T, all those years ago, it was Wispas that I couldn't survive without. I remember hubby popping to our local late night convenience shop at about 11pm and bringing back five, yes FIVE, Wispas so that I'd have enough to last me the week. Bless his 'never had to contend with a pregnant woman before' socks. Those bad boys were all devoured in one sitting! Needless to say he never made that mistake again, in any of my subsequent pregnancies.

Three years later, when I was pregnant with N, I had the same desperate need for a Wispa but unfortunately it was during the time they had stopped making them so I had to go without. I can't promise that I didn't complain about this on a daily basis but I did make do with alternatives even if they were inferior in my eyes.

Fast-forward eight years to when I was pregnant with E. This time my pregnant sweet-tooth had turned to cupcakes  - I just couldn't get enough of the sugary, cakey loveliness!

So another two years have gone by and somehow I find myself pregnant again. Everything about this pregnancy has been different to the others so I suppose it's only right that my cravings have been different too! This time, instead of insanely craving one yummy item, I have a whole list of treats that I simply can't live without...

1. Peanut M&Ms

2. Cream tea (the scones must be warm and the clotted cream must be thick)

Cream Tea

3.Wheat Crunchies (only bacon flavour will do)

4. Costa decaff latte

5. Pastries (mainly the kind with chocolate but in reality any pastry will hit the spot)

Costa

It's quite amazing that I've never had a problem with gestational diabetes but, as I said before, things have been very different in this pregnancy and I go for my Glucose Tolerance Test in a few weeks time so we'll have to wait and see. These sugary treats may have to be a thing of the past!

What were your pregnancy cravings? I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, 17 June 2016

The Butterfly Dawn Blog Planner From Jera's Jamboree And GoodwinDZN

Planning is a vital part of running a blog of any kind and it's a subject that I've seen mentioned many times on social media. Everyone seems to have their own way of doing it but if you want to make life easy on yourself then the sensible solution is to buy a ready-made Blog Planner.

My lovely blogging friend Shaz from Jera's Jamboree has collaborated with the very talented GoodwinDZN to come up with a Blog Planner that not only looks great but covers a huge range of planning requirements for any type of blogger. 

FYI: Goodwin DZN is a graphic design business which has for the past four years designed graphics for indie musicians which includes all promotional material (logos, covers, posters, t-shirts etc) and pitches for a radio station in London.  

Introducing the Butterfly Dawn Planner...

Butterfly Dawn Planner

Shaz very kindly sent me a free download of the planner so I could see for myself how useful it can be and I have to say, they really have covered everything. It's useful for both my book blog and my family blog - it helps me feel in control! 

The best part for me is that you can print out the planner (and specific pages) again and again. Some pages you might even want to laminate and write on with a dry wipe pen so you can reuse them.

There are a few pages which are available as a free download (see below) and the full planner is available to download digitally for just £4! 

So what pages can you find in the Butterfly Dawn Planner?

Blog Mission Statement

Whether you are new to blogging or an experienced blogger, everyone needs to make plans for what you are hoping to achieve.  You will be able to keep your mission at the front of your planner to remind you of the message you want to share with your audience, whether you are on track with what you were hoping to learn and if your goals have stayed the same or changed.

Monthly Editorial Calendar

The place where you can see your month ahead at a glance and plan your posts.  Dates are blank for you to complete. Print out one for each month or laminate and use a dry wipe pen. 

Checklist

Want to see your tasks for the week in one place?  Use the checklist for tasks and the day of the week they need to be completed by.

Daily To Do List

Prioritise your tasks with due deadlines and check whether the task is in progress.  Space for you to note anything you need to do before tomorrow.

Download this page for FREE here

Thought Shower

Use this blank mind map to capture those thoughts when you’re spending creative time planning for future content. Print out for each session or laminate and use a dry wipe pen.

Content Planner

Plan your content with requirements, notes and ideas, preparation and value to your readers.  Is this a collaborative post? Sponsored? Affiliate?  Deadlines, tags, and categories can be recorded.  At a glance you will be able to see where you are in the process of planning your content.

Archive Planner

Why would you need a record of your archives?  The Archive Planner has been included for those evergreen posts from your archives that with a little updating can be re-posted to a new audience.  On this page you will be able to record information such as the original date of the post, what you need to edit and why you are re-publishing.

Pitch List

Have you made pitches to brands?  Here’s where you will record the information, including the date you contacted the brand.

Weekly/Monthly/Annual Statistics

Whether you want to keep a track of your analytics (subscribers, page views, bounce rate, social media etc) on a weekly or monthly basis there is a page to complete for both.  From the start of the week/month to the end you will be able to track where you are towards your blog goals.  Most stats are already on this page but there are blanks for you to add your own.  Transfer your monthly statistics on to the annual page for an overview of the bigger picture.

Butterfly Dawn Planner

Twitter Monthly Statistics

Easy to complete, keep a record of your followers, tweets, impressions, profile visits, mentions and tweets linking to you. Use these statistics to make goals and achieve them.

Facebook Tracker

Running a campaign?  See at a glance the impact of your Facebook post.  How many likes, shares, comments and shares did the post you’re tracking receive?  What was the reach?  Use this to keep your goals on track.

Expenses and Earnings

In most planners you will find these basic accounting functions on separate pages but in this planner you can track your finances with a running total.  Record your earnings and expenses and you will be able to see at a glance the financial health of your blog.

Ads/Sponsors Tracker

Record on this page the start/end date of the ads on your blog as well as the revenue and if you have been paid.  You might not be accepting ads at the moment but you might consider it in the future. 

Affiliate Tracker

Keep a record of the affiliate programmes you have been accepted on and use when planning your content.

Giveaway Tracker (1)

The Giveaway Tracker records the purpose of a giveaway funded by you (ie; you may have a goal for increasing your Instagram followers and decide to use a giveaway for entrants to do this action to enter). Use the tracker to organise your giveaway with the title of your post, what you are giving away, start/end date as well as the details of the winner and more.

Giveaway Tracker (2)

This tracker organises your sponsored giveaways.  As well as recording information from the funded giveaway you have the option of adding the company, their website and contact.

Linky List

If you take part in linky’s regularly it can be hard to keep track on who you are going to link with and when.  Use this page to record the linky name/website, what day of the week and the host’s social media information.

Contacts

Keep a record of your contacts in one place.

Download this page for FREE here

Passwords

If your planner isn’t leaving your home then you might want to use this page for recording your passwords.  However, for security purposes, remember that it should be kept secured.  Only use it if you’re confident you are the only person with access to your blog planner.

There are also two specific pages just for us book bloggers...

Books To Read

The majority of book bloggers have huge towering ‘to be read’ piles.  Use this page to record the title, author, genre, publisher, source (did you purchase it? was it gifted? Is it a review copy?), is there a deadline? Date finished reading.  Use the tick box for adding to your schedule, when your review is drafted, when the review is scheduled and published and shared with social media.  Straightforward recording but it might save you from missing out that all important novel you should have been reading.

Download this page for FREE here

Butterfly Dawn Planner

Blog Tour Tracker

Blog Tours are usually booked up in advance so keep yourself organised with this simple recording page.  Note the date, publisher, PR contact.  Did you say you would review? Or host a guest post? Take part with a Q&A?  Use the tick box.  Write your notes and then use the tick box to record where you are in the process.

There are also two Yearly calendars (2016 and 2017) for those of you who want to see the year at a glance. 

If this design isn't quite your thing, never fear because there are plans for alternative designs in the future and they're happy to take suggestions so if you are a blogger with a niche and would like specific pages created for you, get in touch. It's definitely worth keeping an eye on the website.

Do you use a blog planner? Is the Butterfly Dawn Planner everything you've ever dreamed of as a blogger? I'd love to hear from you. 

Monday, 13 June 2016

Personalised Goodies From I Just Love It

I love gifts and goodies that have been personalised, for me it makes an item so much more unique and special. It's usually this kind of thing that I find myself holding onto for years - I just can't part with them!

Along came the lovely people at ijustloveit.co.uk who gave me the chance to try out some of their personalised products. I chose this gorgeous Earthenware Mixing Bowl (£24.99) and Wooden Spoon (£7.99), personalising them both appropriately with 'The V Family'.

ijustloveit.co.uk

The original plan was to do a Pancake Day blog post because these two items are just perfect for mixing up some pancakes. Unfortunately I was struck down with my worst case of pregnancy nausea to date and just the thought of making pancakes turned me green so that was a definite no-no.

Anyway back to the products...

The first thing I noticed was the personalisation - I love the font and the location of the words on the bowl. Obviously you would have your own words (unless you fancy thinking of my family every time you're baking) and this can be any message up to 40 characters.

ijustloveit.co.uk

Measuring 24cm in width, I've found that it's just the right size for my baking needs. Without sounding too much like goldilocks, it's not too big but not too small - it's just right!

ijustloveit.co.uk

The wooden spoon is the perfect accompaniment. I've had various wooden utensils that have felt really flimsy and ended up splitting quite quickly but here we have a nice sturdy spoon made from quality (and sustainably sourced) beech wood.

ijustloveit.co.uk

You can also have any message engraved on the spoon (only up to 20 characters for this item though) and it measures 30cm long.

ijustloveit.co.uk

I think these would make a great gift idea, especially if you know any Mary Berry/Paul Hollywood wannabes!

ijustloveit.co.uk

It's worth having a look at the I Just Love It website, particularly with Father's Day just around the corner because they have conveniently gathered loads of personalised gift ideas for this occasion all in one place and they offer free delivery if you order 3 or more items!

Our personalised mixing bowl and spoon are already a family favourite and, thanks to the quality, I have a feeling they'll be a V Family kitchen essential for a long time to come (I told you I just can't part with personalised items).

Have you shopped at ijustloveit.co.uk? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I received these products for review purposes. I am always honest in my reviews and all opinions are my own or that of my family.