Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Ozeri Bathroom Scales and Pedometer Review.

Last week I was kindly sent two products from Ozeri to review, the Ozeri Touch Total Body Bathroom Scale and the Ozeri 4x3 Sport Digital 3D Pedometer. As I have previously discussed I am currently trying to lose weight so these products came at just the right time!

Ozeri Touch Total Body Bathroom Scale
Amazon Link
The scale looks stylish and minimalist, I think it would fit nicely into most bathrooms but it is also very slim so you could easily put it in a cupboard or somewhere similar if you didn't want it on display. It also comes in white. The LED display is clear and easy to read, even with my rubbish eyesight! The scale turns on automatically when you step on it and turn off again a few seconds after you get off, I believe the supplied batteries will last a long time. 

It is also very easy to use, the instruction manual is very easy to follow and also includes educational material about what the different measurements mean - the 4 metal pads can measure your body fat, water and muscle percentage and also your bone mass. You can set up to 8 profiles which means you can track your weight loss etc, this is easy to do and takes only a few seconds, the scale then works out which profile is yours by how much you weigh - it is all very clever! 

There is also a tare function which allows you to weigh pets, children luggage etc by weighing yourself with and without them and then two separate numbers are displayed on the screen. There is no maths involved! This would have been a godsend before our holiday to check our luggage weights, but will also be handy when weighing Casper as we don't go to baby weigh-in very often now.

So all in all I would recommend this product, it is easy to use, accurate and looks beautiful. It will definitely be invaluable in setting healthy weight loss targets for me too! 

Ozeri 4x3 Sport Digital 3D Pedometer
Amazon Link
This pedometer is quite big which can make it difficult to attach securely to clothes but it makes it really easy to use. The display is clear and the buttons are big enough to press easily. It comes with a detachable wrist strap and a frame you can slide it into which has a clip on the bag for securing to clothes. I found it best when kept in a pocket as I was worried I would lose it if it fell off while clipped on my clothes. It is slim when you remove it from the clip frame so fits discreetly in a pocket.

The only thing I don't like is that the step counter automatically resets at midnight- I work night shifts so I would like to manually reset my steps when I get into bet at 8am. The pedometer is easy to set up once you have read the enclosed instructions and measures many different things - steps, distance travelled and calories burned - it is easy to cycle through the different displays and you can even set a step target, there is an increasing line on the step screen which shows you how close you are to your target which I find very motivating.

I probably wouldn't recommend this to people as there are similar products available, even apps on smartphones. But I enjoy using it and shall continue to try and get my 10 000 steps in!

Monday, 30 May 2016

10 Things...Holiday Edition

10 Things We Took On Holiday That We Really Didn't Need!
  1. Teddy Bear &
  2. Story Books - I actually thought that we would continue our normal bedtime routine...Fool!
  3. Socks for me when I'd only packed shoes that I don't wear socks with...
  4. Vests for Casper- I think even I can agree that 26 degrees is warm enough to go without!
  5. Towels- they are heavy and the hotel provided them, which I would have known if I had actually read the info instead of skim reading it. My aunt brought micro fibre towels for going to the beach- they are lightweight and fold up very small, I shall be investing in some before the next holiday.
  6. A really uncomfortable bra which creaks when I move - definitely should have tried it on before taking it away. 
  7. Three shirts for The Man who hates wearing shirts and only wore one of them for approx 20 minutes as it was too hot and uncomfortable. We were only away for 5 days and knew we wouldn't be doing anything too formal. 
  8. A book for me to read- I absolutely did not have time to sit and read!
  9. A handbag, everything we took out with us went in The Man's pockets or on the buggy. My hand luggage bag would have been just fine without a handbag as well.
  10. An empty tube of deodorant..the full one was on the kitchen table at home...don't pack with a rampaging toddler assisting!
10 Things We Didn't Take That We Really Should Have...

  1. Sun Hats for all three of us - I also left these on the table at home because I am a dick!
  2. Sun Glasses - see above.
  3. The Athens guidebook - see above!!!
  4. A variety of sun cream - I only took factor 50, mainly for Casper, but I have olive skin and 50 is a little overkill for me. 
  5. Toddler Milk in ready mixed cartons - we don't use this anymore but it would have been very handy for a pre-bed drink as Casper usually has a beaker of cow's milk at home. I thought it would have been easy to source while away but it wasn't really so he just had water instead. I wasn't too worried as we weren't away for very long but the cartons would still have been handy!
  6. A light baby blanket - it would have been very useful for naps in the push chair and on the plane. 
  7. A book for The Man to read- he doesn't like afternoon naps or sleeping on anything that isn't a bed so he would have had time to read. I would pick a nap over almost all activities - I fully blame nursing for this, before I started my training I never napped now it's whenever I can squeeze one into my day!
  8. A really bright luggage tag - I hate the baggage carousel anxiety; a disgustingly loud tag would have made it much easier to spot our bag. It's another thing to add to the list for the next holiday (we are off to Oman in September).
  9.  Nipple Cream - not for nipples but for almost everything else! I use the Lasinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream as lip balm; barrier cream when Casper has a sore bum and on all of us if we get sore/dry skin. It is a life saver and would have been lush on my sun burnt shins and on Casper's legs where his swim nappy rubbed.
  10. More snack food for Casper - I pack lots for the plane journeys but didn't think about the days that we were there. We were in a pricey hotel so we avoided eating there at all costs! But this did mean we sometimes had quite big gaps between meals, so Casper ended up picking on foods that I would not normally give him so often (packets of crisps and biscuits) which were easy to get and throw in a bag. But if I had been more prepared I could have brought dried fruit or baby snack foods with us to tide him over. 
This was our first abroad holiday so I don't think we did too badly but there is definitely things to remember and change for the next trip!

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Holiday! A Review of the Companies We Used.

Apologies for the silence, we have been in Athens for few days. This was our first abroad holiday since firing out a baby two and a half years ago, so consequently was Casper's first time on an aeroplane too! So I was a little apprehensive about how he would behave but he was actually fine - only a couple of strops, mostly due to having to stay in his seat for landing and takeoff! His ears didn't seem to bother him and the other travellers were fab and happy to engage with him so it was much less stressful than I had predicted.

We flew out with Air France who were great, the staff were friendly and really lovely with Casper. We got priority boarding due to the toddler and in a particularly awful queue we were skipped to the front which definitely avoiding a major tantrum! There was a special kids meal which was brought out before the adult ones it included a hot pizza pocket type affair, a potato salad, biscuits and a mini Mars bar. Casper was asleep when it came out so I packed most of it away or later but the adult version was similar but with an orzo salad and an apple tart which was all very tasty and seemed fresh. We kept the buggy with us until the boarding gate when the staff took it to the hold for us, unfortunately they didn't return it at the transfer airport which was a bit of a nightmare as we had a wild toddler rampaging free around Charles De Galle airport for nearly 3 hours but that was really the only negative of the outward journey. I would happily fly with Air France again and recommend to anyone, but especially those with small children.

We stayed at the InterContinental Athenaeum in Athens which was stunning! The rooms were huge, as were the beds- all three of us happily slept in ours. We were in a newly refurbished room - it was slick and luxurious but also felt cosy and relaxing. The staff were amazing with Casper, they were all so friendly and smiley; in fact everyone we met in Athens seemed to love children- he's never been kissed by so many strangers! The only thing that let the hotel down was how pricey everything was, we didn't eat there as main courses were 30-40 euros, a coffee and an orange juice was 15.50 euros, but we got a great deal on the room and the hotel puts on a free shuttle bus into the centre which meant we could go and find food that was more in our budget.

The return flight was with Alitalia who I wasn't as impressed with, Although they didn't really do anything wrong as such everything just seemed a bit less than Air France. The staff were professional but did not come across as very personable and didn't really engage with the toddler.Te food was particularly miserable, there was no child options so he had to have the same dry sandwiches as us - he didn't eat much that night (luckily I still had the Air France food in my bag, so they saved the day!). We took the buggy right up to the plane door and it was returned for the transfer- very handy with an over tired toddler and a long way to walk. The planes were also really rattly and noisy, fine for me as I am not a nervous flier but I can imagine it would be pretty unsettling if you were anxious. I would fly with them again if they were cheaper than other options but I wouldn't recommend them.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things #2

Nancy Tillman

Nancy Tillman is a wonderful author and illustrator; we have 4 of her kids books and I love all of them - even if they do make me cry! The first one I purchased from Amazon when I saw it on offer and noticed the amazing reviews, the others soon followed when I realised how special they are! These are the titles we own:

  1.  Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You, a truly perfect book which focuses on the unconditional love between a parent and child. I have read a fair amount about attachment parenting and the positive impact that knowing you are loved and supported has on a developing brain and this book is almost an instruction manual in how to let your children know that you will love them no matter what - I can almost recite it from heart! 
  2. On The Night You Were Born, this one focuses on how special and unique you are - "You are the one and only ever you". It is probably my least favorite of the ones we have, we still read it often at it is great but not quite on the same level as Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You.
  3. It's Time To Sleep My Love, is written by Eric Metaxas and illustrated by Nancy Tillman. The text is a beautiful poem that makes you read it in a relaxing rhythm- just right for bed time: "You'd better close your eyelids quick, so you can dream my love my love, so you can dream my love". 
  4. The Spirit Of Christmas, I bought this book as a gift for Casper last year- our first Christmas without my Nan and it completely broke my heart "...the thing that was missing from Christmas was you...". It is written from the point of view of someone who can't feel Christmassy even though there are decorations and carols, then they realise that it isn't things that make Christmas it is the people that we love.
  5. The Crown On Your Head, I have just purchased this one today and can't wait to read it! 

There are many reason why I love Nancy Tillman's books; the first has to be the stunning illustrations- they are so intricate and detailed, Casper loves looking at them and spots something new every time, some even have text hidden in them which I didn't spot the first few times of reading. Secondly the text is always just perfect, gentle rhythms which are made to be read aloud at bedtime and messages which are sentimental enough to make you cry but not sickly sweet (even for cynical old me)- my Mum actually refuses to read them because they always make her tear up! Also the hardback format is great for toddlers that think that being gentle is only throwing things halfway down the stairs instead of right to the bottom...

We read three books before bed every night and these books get chosen often, I recommend them to anyone who will listen and often buy them as gifts. I could go on about them all night but I will resist and just say that you definitely won't regret purchasing any of these books- this is what happens:

Monday, 16 May 2016

Oh The Diets I've Known...

Apologies for the silence- I have been working nights! I have found out today that I have been accepted on a program to help you lose weight, eat better and have more energy- it starts in June so in the run up I thought I would talk about my weight-loss/gain up until this point. It is called the Body Confidence Program - expect to hear much more about it!

I have been over weight for as long as I can remember- when I was 5 a school friend told me I was fat and the label has stuck- I look back at pictures and realise that I wasn't fat, I was absolutely normal. I am classed as morbidly obese now though- my BMI is 44- and my weight is affecting all aspects of my life. I avoid social events, my relationship with The Man is suffering and I just want to curl up and die most days- not to commit suicide, but just to not have to be me any more. I avoid photographs as much as possible which makes me sad because there is hardly any photos of us as a family that I don't delete as soon as they are taken.

Over the years I  have tried many diets, generally with success for short periods followed by massive failures and weight gains well over what I had lost, these have included:

  • Weight Watchers- too many numbers, too confusing.
  • Slim Fast- didn't like any of the shakes.
  • The Cambridge Diet- I need to eat real food, living off of shakes and bars is just too miserable for me. I did lose nearly 2 stone on this plan but could not maintain it for the long run.
  • Slimming World- I lost 1.5 stone the first time round but have never motivated myself to stick to it again. On paper this seems like the best diet for me, I can't explain why I can't stick to it other than I am just feeling very self destructive at the moment- I start diets, stick to it for about 2 weeks then completely throw in the towel. 

I am beginning to think that the key to my weight loss is to try to like myself- I need to feel that I deserve to look after myself and treat myself right. My internal dialogue is, and always has been very negative especially regarding my weight- I often refer to myself as disgusting and sickening amongst other horrid things. So I plan to avoid "Diets" for a few weeks, and just focus on being my own friend for a bit, snack less, avoid sweet foods and try to be more active but all in a very low key way while I try to fix my head too! I'll keep you updated...

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Hear Us Roar!

So, today I had a school friend attempt to school me in the art of appropriately communicating with a recently bereaved friend. I am a freaking nurse. A NURSE. She is not. And it made me think about how people perceive the work that we do, well... first I was completely fuming, then I cried because I have a cold and it's all too much... then I thought.

She has no clue how many hands I've held; hands that are dying; hands that are grieving; hands that are scared. How many tears I've shed for daughters losing their Dads, for sons losing their mothers, for people slipping away with only me in the whole world who cares. How many times I have broken peoples hearts with the worst news of their lives, the times I've lied so that people will drive safely to hospital, the times I've sent police to peoples houses because they are too vulnerable to be told over the phone.

She has no idea about the life changing decisions I make on a daily basis while she decides what font to use. Nursing is not about doling out meds, dealing with bodily fluids and flirting with doctors. So essentially, sit down, back off and HEAR US ROAR. This also goes for Jeremy Hunt.

ETA: I am no saint or martyr, this could be any nurse's delerious rant.

Monday, 9 May 2016

My Beautiful Nan

Today marks one whole year since my beautiful Nan died. She was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer when Casper was about 2 months old, she endured chemotherapy, operations and bad news but passed away just over a year after diagnosis.

Nan was my absolute idol. She was funny, clever, generous and always stood up for the underdog. I never heard a racist, homophobic or bigoted sentence leave her mouth. Nan was a nurse too and could always out-gross the rest of us nurses with her gynae stories, but also inspired me to try and see the best in my patients and to be tolerant of people in stressful situations.

I love her so much, I can't even express how much. I still cry everyday, I miss her so much. I can't believe that a whole year of events has happened that I haven't shared with her, but even more I can't believe that there is the rest of my life to live without her- my heart aches just thinking about what a long time it will be. How will we cope without her help? Without her guidance? I have so many questions left to ask, so many more cups of tea to drink while we watch the news, so much more...

So please, hug your family close today, tell them how important they are and love each other with all that you are. Cherish life now, you'll never know how much you will miss it.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Things I Have Only Said Since Having A Baby...

  1. Please don't rub pork in your hair.
  2. Why is there a tombliboo in the grill?
  3. Can you take your tummy out of my tomatoes?
  4. Don't kiss the drain!
  5. Please don't put jelly in your pocket...
  6. Get out of the washing machine!
  7. *screams* He just hit me with a bottle of rice wine vinegar! 
  8. Do not put anything in the toilet that you expect to get back out.
  9. Did the dog just eat your poo??
  10. No, don't poke the spider, just wave hello.
     I'm sure there will be many more! Have you got any to add?

Saturday, 7 May 2016

A Good Birth Story!

Alright, so tonight I want to document the story of HC's birth- mostly for selfish reasons (I want to store it so I don't forget) but also because I had a positively lovely labour and birth experience and I know that when I was pregnant I was bombarded by scary birth stories- they're just not helpful! I read a wonderful book called The Good Birth Companion by Nicole Croft (which I would highly recommend, but I'll do a full post about this book soon), she writes that in other cultures birth is not seen as a painful thing and it is partly our cultural expectations which lead us to feel as much pain as we do. Not that birth isn't painful but staying as relaxed as possible definitely helps!

So I started to feel some weird tightening feelings across my belly during the day, and I was really struggling to wee- I was having to sort of lift the baby up so that urine would come out- I decidedly ignored these signs, HC was 10 days late and I had decided that he was saying in there forever, I went shopping with my Mum and said nothing to her. By dinner time I had noticed that the tightenings were becoming more regular, almost 30 mins apart, I mentioned this to The Man but continued as normal. When we went to bed at around 11pm they were definitely contractions and were too uncomfortable to sleep through so I got up at about midnight and told The Man that I was in labour but he was to get some sleep and I would wake him when I needed to.

I went to get a towel to sit on in case my waters broke on the new sofa, I felt them go on the way back to the chair but was able to hold them in (I believe that my waters did not fully break as they came in fits and spurts not a huge gush) until I got to the loo where I passed the good old mucus plug. I then rang the labour ward of my local hospital and told them the story, the midwife felt that I was probably in labour "Well you are 10 days overdue, so it is likely to happen at some point!", and advised to come in when the contractions were 5 mins apart and the pain was too much to bear. So I took some paracetamol, opened my contraction timer app, put on a documentary I had recorded about the Nazis and finished writing my Xmas cards.

As each contraction came I breathed deeply, stood up/ leant on the back of the chair and rolled my hips until they had passed, thinking "This is one less contraction until I meet my baby, I will not have it again and this will not last forever". By 4.30am things were getting more uncomfortable so I took more paracetamol and ran a bath- this woke The Man so I updated him and told him to get dressed After my bath, contractions were regularly 5 mins apart and pretty painful so I rang the ward to say we were coming in. I got dressed- why I didn't just put pajamas on I shall never know, I'm pretty sure I was a bit delirious!

The drive in was the worst part- during contractions your tail bone is moved backwards which is why people in labour often don't want to be sat down or lying on their backs. I felt nauseous and hot, but we made the half hour journey safely. We arrived at approx. 6am, just before handover from day to night staff so the admitting midwife wasn't keen to do a vaginal exam as the morning shift would only need to do it again soon. I requested gas & air and after a minor disagreement about a TENS machine (I didn't believe it would help, she thought I should try,.. I didn't have it!) I got the Entonox- it is very weird, it is like you are drunk- you can still feel the pain but it's like it's not yours or you are too distracted to focus on it. I needed to be on the bed when using it as I felt like I'd fall over!  I had a massive hospital bag packed but all I really wanted was my lip balm and silence- The Man put the radio on for about 30 seconds before getting The Look...

By this point the contractions felt almost constant and were very intense. They wanted a urine sample which I couldn't produce as it felt like I would push the baby out! While I was in the bathroom the morning midwife came in and was chatting to The Man, I heard her say "Don't worry, we'll check her now but she's probably only 4cm dilated" I was nearly suicidal- if it was this painful at 4cm I would not cope with another 6cm! I went out and had this conversation:

"I need an epidural."
"Let me just check you first..."
"Go and get the anesthetist- it's Sunday, there'll only be one on. And on the way back bring the pethadine"
"Will you just let me check you first?"

So I hobbled onto the bed between contractions. They couldn't get a trace on the fetal monitor - I think due to my fat belly and the baby being so low, but at the time they thought he was back to back (essentially when the baby is the wrong way round and your spines are pushing together making contractions very painful and labour longer as the pointy bit of the head isn't pressing on and opening the cervix) I had heard stories- and demanded a C.Section! The midwife reassured me and got the monitoring lead that attaches to the babies head, while placing this she also performed a vaginal exam: "Oh! You're fully dilated...I'll be right back!"

She came back with the senior midwife - standard practice I believe- and told me I could push when I felt like I needed to. As soon as I knew I was fully dilated my whole perception of the pain changed- it is meant to hurt when you are squeezing out a baby so lets get on with this, it's perfectly normal!. I was determined this baby was coming out, I was done with all this! After the first contraction that I pushed I said to The Man "It hurts!" and the senior midwife said "Well you are having a baby!", but I was too delirious to care, I even think it is pretty funny now! After the second one I was convinced that he was never coming out, so on the third I really went for it and HC slid out all in one go- I
should have stopped once the head was out but I didn't think about that and had a lovely tear- that'll learn me to listen to instructions!!!

Our beautiful slimey baby was born at 9.10am and put on my chest and we cuddled for a long time while they stitched me up- it was a bit of an ordeal, worse than the labour actually. But they'd given me back the Entonox which I'd thrown away in disgust when the midwife had said that it makes it harder to push! The Man went to ring family, my Mum had wanted to be there but I didn't want to wake her until we knew how far along I was and by the time we did it was too late! I reckon I had about 9 hours of proper labour, only 3 in hospital and just 20 mins of pushing, which I think is pretty good going for a first baby- maybe I'll do it again!

Thursday, 5 May 2016

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things #1

I discovered this company and their beautiful prints when browsing a company called The Little Life's website- I fear that this company no longer trades, but please let me know if I am wrong as I loved a lot of their products. But anyway, I have since purchased straight from Olive et Oriel as I am obsessed with their prints!

My favorites are the minimalist, monochrome typographic prints- I have 3 A4 sized ones and 1 smaller one. All are printed on good quality, thick card and are just perfectly cute and quirky. I initially bought the "Wild and Wonderful" one to go in HC's nursery but while waiting for a nail it was put up n the living room, and has since been joined by 2 more - "Embrace the chaos" and "Wild and Free". The latest addition is a smaller "Have Courage & Be Kind " print. 

 I love the messages and feel they are particularly relevant to my wild child, who is certainly a free spirit! I also drum into him the importance of being kind- I'm terrified of having one of those children that other parents keep their kids away from! He does have a propensity to air on the boisterous side so I like to remind him that being gentle and considerate is very important.

As for the company itself I have no complaints- the ordering process was simple, I feel that their products are priced fairly (I paid £7.69 for the print below), the P&P was free and my order arrived well within the advised time scale. I will certainly be highly recommending them to friends and family.

So go check them out (Olive et Oriel)!!!!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

It's All Blues and Twos!

I am not working until tonight so I have all day to play with the monster. We have mostly been out in the garden- HC loves being outside more than anything. But we have also been playing with his building blocks- which are actually my old blocks from when I was his age! I am trying to persuade HC to engage with colours and counting at the moment, so we were sorting the bricks in to piles of the same colour- which are all "Blue" according to HC- he is able to sort them into the right piles but will not say any colours except blue! We also build towers and count how many bricks are in the tower, the only number HC will say is two, although he did say "One two three GO!" when he forgot I was listening the other day...

HC's speech is generally pretty good he is just very stubborn- in many aspects of life but especially with requests to say specific things- here is an example of such a conversation:

"Casper, can you say three?"
"Bob Dylan"
"Bob Dylan??? Can you say three?"
"Mummy, where's the dog?"

But with enough repetition from The Man and I things do eventually seep into his vocabulary- "thank you" being a prime example, after weeks of pointed hints he suddenly shouts "FANK OOO MUMMY" at an appropriate time- so proud!

Monty took the opportunity to sunbathe by the potty...of course.

This Little Life...

Hello! This is my first blog post so I thought I had better introduce our mad house:

  • Me- I am a nurse, Mum and angry feminist.
  • The Man- He is a tree surgeon, Dad and all round good egg.
  • Hurricane Casper (HC)- He is our wild, wonderful and bonkers 2 year old- General Purveyor of Mess, Madness and Mayhem.
  • Monty- He is our very tolerant Cocker Spaniel! 
We live in beautiful Devon, I grew up here, The Man moved here many years ago and HC was born here. Our interests include- food/cooking, playing, travelling and reading; expect these to be reoccurring themes in the blog, but also random ramblings and as many pictures as I can squeeze in!