Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Happy Halloween.

Happy Halloween!

Apologies for the radio silence the past few weeks. We've had a lot on our plates and I really haven't felt like even looking at my blog. Hopefully I can get a bit more back on track now everything has calmed down. I will fill you all in at a later date, but for now I needed to get up the obligatory pumpkin picking post!

We took Violet to a local fruit picking farm to get her very own pumpkin this year. There were fields full of the things. Albeit some had been placed their by the "pumpkin fairies" but the majority were still attached to the ground. I had no idea how many shapes and sizes those things come in. 

Of course, Violet was far more interested in the wheelbarrow than actually choosing a pumpkin to take home. However, after she had got over the initial excitement (and realised she couldn't physically push the wheelbarrow) she did manage to pick out an unusual-shaped-not-quite-Orange pumpkin to take with us. 

We of course, had great intentions of carving our oval shaped friend, however a week later when we planned to turn it into a smiley face, he grew mould! So after our great efforts in a field, we ended up at Aldi to pick up a new one. Lesson definitely learnt for next year. Although we did have lots of fun in the pumpkin patch!

Katie xx

Saturday, 7 October 2017

A Violet Update.

It's been far too long since I did a Violet update. I have a fully fledged toddler! How on earth did that happen? Violet is now 14 months old and the most hilarious, clever and beautiful little girl. 

Violet has been walking since 11 months so now thinks she's a pro. We're now at the walking as fast as physically possible stage towards anything. I'm convinced she's done a little jog a few times, when she's been charging towards my legs. I felt like the walking stage would be more difficult than crawling. However it has its pros and cons. She loves walking independently, which is great in open spaces, like the park or at play groups. But in the middle of Tesco it's pretty tough to manage your shopping and a toddler pinching all of the food from the shelf!

Violet's current interests are books, books and more books. This little lady is obsessed with sitting and looking at the pictures and getting myself or Jonathan to read to her. Her favourite types of books are the tiny board style books, I think probably because they're easy to carry around and aren't as flimsy. Thank goodness for charity shop book bargains, we could easily open a library with the amount of books we have. 

And if we're not inside reading books, we're outside exploring. Violet's love for the outdoors has never wavered. She loves nothing more than being able to run around a park or play with the leaves on the floor. We've invested in a puddle suit from Lidl so she can splodge and get as muddy as she likes, and her clothes are still clean and dry. I do need to find some wellies to fit her little feet too!

Violet is "talking" more and more everyday. Her vocabulary of real words isn't the most extensive but she babbles away practicing noises pretty much all day. She also repeatedly grunts at you until you do whatever it is she wants, which is hilarious but I guess it's just her way of communicating. She can currently say "hiya", "og" AKA "dog", "shhhh" for "shoe" and also "moos" like a cow on demand! 

I love watching her little personality develop as she gets bigger. She literally does something new everyday and it's quite amazing to see. She never fails to make me laugh until my stomach hurts. And I love that she now chooses to come over and sit on my knee for a cuddle, even though she's the most independent and confident little lady I know. 

I love you to the moon and back Violet Grace, stay curious my darling girl. 

Katie xx


Tuesday, 26 September 2017

The Rise of Outdoor Playgroups.

Ever since Violet was around 6 weeks old, we've been to mother and toddler groups. You name it, we've tried it. Honestly, I don't love a general "parent and toddler" group, they're amazing places for new mums but they can be really overwhelming. I find that a more structured group forces you to speak to other people and everyone tends to be in a similar boat. 

As Violet has got older, it's become more obvious on the types of groups she enjoys and the ones that don't work as well for us. And by that I mean, V has no spatial awareness and is fiercely independent, which isn't great in small spaces, around small babies! However more recently I've found some amazing groups that really work well for little miss Bear Grylls. 

Forest schools and outdoor groups are becoming more and more accessible, which is really amazing if you have a toddler like mine. Violet is never happier than when she's exploring outside, but still getting to interact with other children. Outdoor play is so good for little ones and it's great to get a bit of fresh air yourself. It provides the perfect way to let off a little steam and tire those cheeky monkeys out! 

We first tried a proper "forest school" back in August. The whole set up was brilliant and Jonathan and I were really impressed. We really were in the midst of a forest, which was the perfect playground for Violet. Our second encounter with outdoor playgroups was at the Whitworth Art Gallery and their Toddler Outdoor Club. This is free and not quite as exciting as being in an actual forest but Violet enjoyed herself none the less. There both a little further than we would regularly travel, but since I've discovered one much closer to home. 

Our local group is Nature Tots and takes part twice a week in a park. The area in which the sessions take place is owned by the Wildlife Trust and is opened specifically for these sessions. The space has allotments, green houses, a mud kitchen, outdoor instruments and even a space for a camp fire. It's really amazing and so much fun for the little ones. This week we planted potatoes that'll be ready for Christmas and some spinach to take home. I really feel like Violet is learning as well as playing!

I really love seeing her little face enjoying the outdoors and to quote one of the mums at the session, a "Nature Tots Nap" after the group is amazing!

Katie xx

Katie Atkinson
Lifestyle blogger


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
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