Wednesday, 24 August 2016

5 tips to get your toddler to eat

Squidge is by no means a good eater, far from it. But recently I’ve been trying some new things and had some success, so I thought I’d share my tips for getting your toddler to eat.  Of course there’s a massive caveat on this, that what works for Squidge, might not work for your toddler. But if you’re like me and willing to try some different things, it can’t hurt to give it a go.

Experiment with shapes

Toddlers like things to remain the same… within reason. If you’ve always cut carrots into batons and suddenly change to discs, you’re likely to incur a full on toddler meltdown.  It goes back to caveman times – they know what to trust, and suddenly if it’s a different shape, they can’t trust it.  However, toddlers do also like fun!

Make cookie cutters your new best friend

Oh my gosh, this was a revelation to me! I had the idea one day to use the smallest star from a cookie cutter set to cut Squidge’s sandwiches up – the result, he loved it!  It does seem wasteful as there’s lots of sandwich you’ll throw away, but before doing this, he’d take 1-2 bites of a sandwich and that’s it, so it’d all end up being thrown away, this way he’s eating at least half of it, so actually less wasteful.

I experimented by getting some other shaped cookie cutters and it worked really well. Now he regularly has little star and flower shaped sandwiches/toast/cucumber etc and loves it – he eats more than he used to, and more variety, thanks to it being in fun and appealing shapes.

Try egg shapers!

Ok, I’ll admit I haven’t tried this yet, but I have ordered them from Amazon. They’re little moulds that you put a raw egg into, seal it up and then boil it. The egg then takes on the shape of the mould to something cute like a bunny or car.

Think bitesize

Another mistake I made was not cutting things up small enough. Food became daunting and would make him not interested in it. A sandwich cut into quarters was still too big, so I started making things more bitesize. Toast is cut into 2cm squares, sandwiches are tiny flowers, everything is bitesize. As a result, he eats lots more and can graze on it.

Experiment with texture

Don’t be afraid to experiment with texture, but on a small toddler-sized-mouth scale. Squidge really likes the Annabel Karmel pasta shells, they’re small and easy to swallow but still taste like pasta. I make it up with some finely grated cheese, and either some double cream or garlic and herb Philadelphia, some poached salmon and some boiled bits of broccoli and it’s one of his favourite meals. I don’t make it for him often as I don’t want him to get bored of it, but he’ll usually eat it all. It’s a great way to get a few extra calories in him too with the addition of the double cream.

I hope these tips work for you, let me know if you give any of them a try, and feel free to leave a comment below with your tips :)

Monday, 22 August 2016

Why you should ignore the Tots100 scores

tots100 screenshot

I see a lot of people getting upset or ebullient when the tots100 rankings get updated each month, I used to be one of them.

My old blog, Makeup-Pixi3 has been as high as 202, but you know what? It means nothing. I currently have 3 blogs, this one and 2 that are inactive. You’d be surprised just how well the inactive blogs rank in the Tots100, even my blog that hasn’t been updated in over a year and gets almost no daily views!

In the August 2016 charts, this is how they fared…

Tots score = #343
Hasn’t been updated in 2 months
Gets about 250 views a day to various posts that do ok on SEO

Tots score = #754
Hasn’t been updated in over a year
Not on it’s own domain (.blogspot)
Almost no daily views (less than 10)
Tots score = #665
Posts regularly
Similar views to Makeup-Pixi3

Each of my blogs on Tots100 has the same social media links, so they link off to Instagram (about 1200 followers), Pinterest (nearly 30k followers), Twitter (6k followers), YouTube (just over 1000 followers, inactive, not uploaded in over a year).

It seems so silly that mummy-pixie is ranked #754 out of over 20,000 parenting blogs in the UK, yet it hasn’t been updated in over a year and no one reads it. I know bloggers who post great content several times a week and rank worse than that, they have a decent DA, good social metrics.

So please, when you see your rank go down, or not do as well as you'd like, just remember how silly it all is.  If an inactive blog can rank really well when it hasn't been updated in a very long time, you know the algorithm is very silly. Just keep blogging about what you love and putting the same great content out there.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Natural birth | Life after an epidural

Mummy and Squidge's first photo
Before you have a baby the Drs and midwives talk through your pain relief options as part of your birth plan, you don't have to decide what you want, but it's good to have an idea and prepare yourself mentally.

I'd always been adamant I was going to have a completely natural birth with no pain relief, if my mum could do it, so could I.  But as the pregnancy progressed and with all my health issues (gestational diabetes, asthma, supra ventricular tachycardia, underactive thyroid...) we realised that towards the end of my pregnancy, I was going to be induced.

Typically women who are induced are in labour (the whole process) for a lot longer, so I knew to do this without any pain relief would be crazy, but I was going to try my best.  Well, on the Friday (day 1 of induction) I had some co-codamol, but that's it - I'd been having regular contractions but in dilatation hadn't progressed.

This is the only pain relief I had until I was put on the drip about 7pm on the Sunday night.  After dealing with some pretty awfully painful contractions I asked for gas and air.  This really helped - I was off with the fairies when I was having it, but it didn't stop the pain.  So then I asked for pethidine... this really was amazing.  It gave me my first bit of proper sleep since Thursday night, and boy did I need it!

Later that evening as the pethidine wore off, I asked for an epidural. I knew the risks, they'd been clearly explained, but I didn't care, I knew I was a long way off (only about 2-3cm at this point) and completely exhausted after 3 days of this.  The epidural seemed to go well, but to be honest, it's all a bit of a blur.

At 3:48pm the next day, Squidge was born via venteuse delivery. I remember one of my proudest moments ever was being wheeled from the delivery suite down to the ward with Squidge on my chest. I felt like the proudest person ever, I did it, I gave birth to this perfect little boy. He was lying on my chest looking up at me, nothing could have been more perfect.

Now it's 22 months later, he's a thriving intelligent little boy who does all the normal toddler things like refusing to eat, throwing tantrums because he has paint on his hands. And me? Well I'm trying to lose the weight I've gained since having him, I'm battling pretty severe back pain but all in all I'm ok.

There is one symptom I still have though, something apparently caused by the epidural. That's loss of sensitivity in my bladder. I've had no 'accidents' or anything like that, no leakage, but I only get the 'I have to wee' feeling when my bladder is really full, and if I'm sat down, I don't get it at all. It's not something I ever thought about, not something I thought was even possible. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot that could have gone wrong and I'm truly grateful that I'm a pretty normal functioning person, I guess I just didn't expect to be feeling the side effects of the epidural this far down the line.

Did you have any long-term side effects from your epidural? And if you did, would you have one again?

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Potty training a-go-go

A smiling Squidge

Sunday was a special day.

We spent the day playing in the sand at Barry Island beach, Squidge jumping with the waves in the sea with Daddy while I look on. We had friends over in the evening while we sat in the garden with the outside lights on and eating pizza. It was a great day.

But that’s not why it was special. 

When we got home from the beach, we all needed a bath/shower. We started with Squidge, he had his usual play and usual screaming fit when we wash the soap off his hair. I then wrapped him up in a towel and we want and sat in front of the TV all snuggled up while we watched some Postman Pat. I said to Squidge ‘tell me if you need a wee wee and I’ll put a nappy on you’ – he didn’t respond.  A few mins later I put one on him anyway, and bundled him back up and cwtched him like a baby for about 15 mins while Daddy had a shower.

Daddy came down, swapped and I had a shower.

Then about 15 mins after I came back down, Squidge stands up and says ‘wee wee’ (it’s not unusual for him to say this). Then he said potty, grabbed his potty and sat on it (fully clothed). We said ‘you want to wee on your potty?’, he nodded, so we took his dungarees off, and then his vest (he also insisted on having his socks off! lol). He then sat down on the potty, concentrated and had a wee!!!!! We were amazed (as was he!), what a clever boy!

At 22 months old, he told us he needed a wee, got his potty out, sat on it and had a wee! We were so incredibly proud and amazed. I know this is just the beginning, and he might not want to do it again for a while, but it looks like he’s telling us he’s ready for potty training, so wish us luck!

Monday, 8 August 2016

Squidge 22 month update

I know I say this every month, and pretty much have since I found out I was pregnant, but oh my gosh, where has the time gone? How is my little toddler 2 in 2 months!

This month he's gone from strength to strength. His speech has come on really well, now starting to string 3 words together like 'mummy and daddy' or 'nanny and grandad (dada)', and without prompting. And he's finally trying to say his name (3 syllables, so not easy).


He's still in 18-24 months but is starting to grow out of some of them. Bizarrely, some of the clothes he's still wearing is 9-12 months, crazy! I'm now starting to think about buying him some next size clothes as and when I see them. I've managed to save up loads of vouchers from various places, so I should be able to buy him some really nice clothes with them.

If you read my post about Caerphilly Castle you'll know he's finally gone up a size in shoes too, I couldn't believe how long he was in his last pair, 5 months! So he's now a size 6 :)

I'm also in the middle of crocheting him a hoodie (pictured above), which should be finished in the next couple of days. No clue if it'll fit, if he'll like it, if it'll be too thick or stiff, but we'll give it a go :)


Where do I begin. He's all over the place at the moment.  For the most part, he's fighting naps and night time sleep as much as he can. Often, putting him down at night is now taking up to 2 hrs, and that's 2 hrs of either me or hubby going in and out of his room, so not having much time to ourselves.

He's also had a few bad nights recently, waking up really upset, so we're not getting much sleep either, leaving us feeling like zombies again. Oh and during the week, he tends to wake up about 6:45, but Saturday and Sunday it's 5:30am now :( So a very tired mummy and daddy!

We can't complain though, he's a good sleeper most of the time, and as we always remind ourselves every time we're up in the middle of the night with him, we're so incredibly lucky to be able to get these extra cuddles. So many parents don't get to anymore - just reminding ourselves of how lucky we are, really does help us find strength to keep rocking him, or keep going in and out of his room at 3am.


He's walking and running like a trooper, in fact, he's been walking for nearly a year now - in my Timehops from a year ago he's standing unaided - and by 11 months he was walking, albeit like Captain Jack Sparrow!

His speech is brilliant, he seems to learn a new word or two every day and has a really great understanding of things.  He's loving drawing at the moment and is getting slightly better control (I really do only mean slightly!). I've seen him grab the felt tip with both hands and hold it gently at the bottom to do more controlled lines, I was really impressed with that. He's also been doing dots with the pens.

He's also been wanting me more than normal, it's usually daddy he wants, but at the moment it's all 'mummy, mummy, mummy' :) I love it, it's so lovely being wanted :) Yes I'm tired as I'm getting less rest, but it's so worth it :)

Monthly favourites

Not many monthly favourites this month, definitely drawing. He still loves Postman Pat, but not as much as he did last month. He's watching a bit more Studio Ghibli again, and enjoying Thomas the tank engine (or as he calls it 'en'deem).

At the big cheese festival in Caerphilly he LOVED getting in the fire truck and wearing a fireman's helmet too, that was definitely a monthly favourite for Squidge. I think he looked rather awesome in it too :)


As I mentioned in my last update, it's his birthday soon. I don't want to get him too much, and I think I've done pretty well so far! I've bought him some Fuzzy Felt farm animals and a rocking horse. I'm also going to get another Brio train or two, and a bit more track, but that'll probably be it.


Thursday, 4 August 2016

Crochet | July 2016

Frida's Flowers CAL

I thought I'd start a series where I share with you my crochet project updates for each month, it also helps me keep track on what I'm working on :)

Like most avid crocheters, I have multiple projects on the go at the same time, it's really nice being able to dip into a different project depending on my mood - plus, starting a new project is always great fun!

First up is the picture above, that's from my progress on the Stylecraft Frida's Flowers CAL (CAL = crochet along). They release part of the pattern every couple of weeks, and everyone taking part can crochet it at the same time. If you're interested in taking part, the actual CAL is now over, but the pattern is still up if you want to have a go :) 

Granny square blanket

Granny square using Stylecraft batik yarn

Granny square blanket first rounds

Creating a granny square was one of the first things I mastered in crochet, in fact, I started a giant granny square blanket over a year ago which I'm yet to finish! I was browsing Lusciously Loopy's instagram a couple weeks ago and saw that Stylecraft had released a new range of yarn called 'Batik'. It looked absolutely gorgeous, so naturally I placed a cheeky order. When it came I fell in love! I could see it was going to make beautiful granny squares, so I set about making a big blanket for the lounge. After realising I needed more colours, I ordered the rest of the range! I'm still making the first round, so far I've made about 150 of them, I only have about 30 to go, then I can start on the 2nd round :P 

Moss stitch hat

Moss stitch blanket

I finished off a blanket a couple months ago with a moss stitch border and it looked fantastic, so I thought I'd give a go trying to make it into a hat.  Well, after creating the base chain, measuring it around my head (it fitted), I cracked on. After about 10 rows I wrapped it around my head, but it barely got half way round! So now it's just a swatch, I'll give it another go soon :) Love the colours for autumn though!

Toddler hoodie

Toddler hoodie

I *trawled* the internet looking for a good pattern for a toddler hoodie.  It was pretty simple, I wanted one that used a heavier weight yarn, that had a big hood and no buttons.  Alas, I really struggled to find one.  I ended up buying a pattern on Etsy that had buttons (so does up at the front) but seemed ok. It's not the best pattern, very basic, but it does work up really quickly :) I've nearly finished it now, I'm half way through one arm, then I have one more to do, and then add a border and buttons :) I just hope it fits Squidge!

Oh and just in case you're wondering what the yarn is, I got it in a Love Crochet sale, most expensive yarn I've bought! On sale it was over £8 a ball (now £13!), it's Japanese and by Noro, part of their Shinryoku range, colour 6 (now out of stock).

Call the midwife blanket

Call the midwife blanket

I really wanted to give this a go as it looked so beautiful. At the time I didn't have any cream yarn, so I went with pale yellow, in reality I wish I'd waited for cream! It's just a pram sized blanket but I'm really enjoying working on it.

The Holiday Blanket by Panda Gourgh

The holiday blanket progress

As an IG follower of Panda Gourgh I'd been watching her develop this pattern for a while and absolutely loved it! So as soon as she released the pattern I bought it and made a couple rounds. I haven't revisited it for a while as I've been busy with other projects, but how beautiful is this!? You can find the pattern on her Etsy store.

So that's what I've been up to in July, while Squidge sleeps, or I'm on lunch at work :)

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Makeup Revolution ultra sculpt & blend brushes

Makeup Revolution ultra sculpt & blend brushes in the box

If you've followed me here from Makeup-Pixi3, you'll know I'm a big fan of Makeup Revolution. Their products, for the price, are simply excellent. Like many brands, there are choice picks which really stand out, like their eye shadow palettes (their iconic pro 1 palette is my fav!). Another product I love of theirs are their makeup brushes. They're affordable, and good quality - the two key things I look for in a good makeup brush.

This set comes with 3 brushes and a makeup sponge.  I don't necessarily use these how they were intended, i.e. for contouring. I use them for applying foundation and blending in either concealer or highlighter. The middle brush is the one I use for foundation - it's great, the synthetic hairs are packed in tightly making it great for buffing in foundation - and with pretty much no shedding. The top brush (in the pic below) is the one I use for either blending in concealer under the eye, or highlighter on my cheekbones.  The bottom brush I use more for cream blusher, and the makeup sponge is a combination of foundation and concealer.

Makeup Revolution ultra sculpt & blend brushes flatlay

Despite the budget price (£14.99*), they're fantastic quality.  I don't have any of the Real Techniques bold metals in my collection, but I know these are Makeup Revolution's answer to them - all 3 coming in cheaper than any of Real Techniques bold metal face brushes (there are a couple of eye brushes that come in at £12).

Makeup Revolution ultra sculpt & blend brushes - close up of bristles

The bristles are lovely and soft, and the brushes are really easy to clean (sidenote: I've been using the Freedom Makeup pro studio brush bath to clean my brushes with recently and love it!) and dry fluffy.

What's your favourite makeup brushes?
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*Post contains PR samples

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Little Tikes first slide

The Little Tikes first slide in blue and green
When we moved house I knew I wanted to get Squidge some toys for the garden, as we didn’t have the space before.

One of the first things I bought was a little slide for him, it’s what he’d make a bee-line for every time we took him to the park.

After a search on Amazon and a read through the reviews, we settled on the Little Tikes first slide. It cost about £20 (currently £29.99), so not too expensive and is light enough to be able to pick up and move around (by a grown up) with ease.

Squidge climbing his new slide

It required only a little bit of assembly which the hubby did while I looked after the little man. It’s safe to be left out all year round, or like us, you can put it away each day (we put it in the garage to keep it clean). It also feels pretty solid, it doesn’t feel like it’ll tip backward, he’d have to really yank it for that to happen.

Wheeeeeeeeee, Squidge reaches the bottom of the slide

He has managed to have a couple of scrapes and scratches from it, but that was from him tumbling off the steps sideways and his face being smushed into the side of the steps. You’d get this with any slide though.

Squidge absolutely loves it and often asks us to get it out of the garage if we haven’t already :)

Monday, 1 August 2016

Thornhill farm shop Cardiff

Trikes at Thornhill farm shop

If you live anywhere near Cardiff and you're at a loose end with the kids, there's a great place you can take them that's totally FREE! Thornhill farm shop is just on the incline of Caerphilly mountain, accessible by either the mountain road (Thornhill side) or Heol Hir.

Chasing chickens at Thornhill farm shop

The highlight of our weekly trip to get our meat, is taking a little wonder around the paddocks to see the animals. There's pretty much always chickens and guinea pigs there, in fact, last time we were there one of the chickens had escaped, so I got to pick it up and put it back in it's pen :) At the moment they also have a couple donkeys, some pigs, llamas and a couple sheep. 

A pig at Thornhill farm shop

At the top near the cafe they also have a little children's area with a little tractor for them to climb in and a digger. Squidge loves jumping on one of the trikes that's a bit big for him and having a little play, oh and chasing chickens :P 

A goat at Thornhill farm shop

The site is a working farm with a shop and cafe, it's where we go most weeks to buy our meat, which is surprisingly well priced :) The farm shop is lovely, as are the staff, and often have a good stock of specialitity goods like our favourite white pudding (Clonakilty) and our favourite butter (Shirgar).

Llamas at Thornhill farm shop

Another great tip is to make sure you come back at Christmas, they set up one of their barns with xmas trees and fairy lights, and have lots of their animals in pens for the little ones to have a look at. Admission is usually about £2 a person, and you can shop xmas trees while you're there.

So if you're ever at a loose end, it's a great place to take the kids for half hour to look at the animals, just don't forget to wash your hands on the way out :) 
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