Throwing A Baby Shower- Is It Still an American thing?

When my older children were born baby showers where unheard of in this country, along with finding out whether you are having a boy or girl by scan and pregnancy tests that give results in a minute. I had to wait four hours for the results of my first pregnancy test!

Now we find more and more British parents having baby showers and they are growing all the time in popularity. So what are baby showers? They are parties thrown for the mum-to-be before the birth to celebrate her pregnancy and shower her with gifts. Some choose gifts for the baby, some choose gifts for the mum-to-be. There are also usually games and cake involved.

You can find this cake on Dee Cake site

The baby shower is usually arranged by a non family member, this could be a friend of the mum-to-be or a work colleague. They are held usually in the later stages of pregnancy when the mum has found out that baby is doing well, but they can really be held at any time, even after the baby has been born.

How you hold the party is really up to you but first you decide on a budget and go from there. You may want a theme and tie in party food and decorations and it is traditional to play party games, like Stick the Dummy on the Baby; which is like pin the tail on the donkey. Or you could play charades or even have a baby quiz.

You could even have a gorgeous Pinata like this one:

You can find this on My Baby Shower site
In the USA baby showers have been popular for a long time and celebrities often have them. Jessica Alba, the star of Sin City recently held a competition in aid of Mother’s Day where she hosted a baby show for a lucky winner in Los Angeles. The mum-to-be Jessica Turner chose a hippo themed party.

I’m not sad that I didn’t have a baby shower myself, but I would love to host one for someone else…maybe when the grand kids come along?

Did you have a baby shower or do you think they still very much an American thing?

Exploring Social Skills with Flummox and Friends

From the very beginning of our lives we are learning how to interact with other people, how to respond to a smile, how to talk to each other, how to ask for things and many more skills that help us to get on with other people. For some the learning is not as natural as it is for others. This may be because of  special conditions such as autism, attention deficits and other learning disabilities.

Star is such a person, she talks out of turn, talks only about what she wants without consideration to others, has difficulty in seeing things from another person’s perspective, zones out into a world of her own and generally finds it difficult to understand other people. She has received a lot of help with this and is learning these skills that often come naturally to others.

We were asked to review a short show about how we can learn these skills. The Show is called Flummox and Friends and you can see a pilot episode here. The show focuses around three inventors and their friends and neighbours. While they invent things to help them with their interactions it’s often their friends and neighbours that show them how it’s really done. The show also has musical pieces and animations which help to re-enforce the messages.

It took Star while to become engrossed in the show but I think that was mainly because it was something she was unfamiliar with. She particularly loved the music and animations. She laughed out loud at the characters silly dances and tried to copy them. When we talked about the show afterwards she was more interested in talking about the silly dances than anything else. I could see a lot of her behaviour traits in the main characters of the show and I do think that if it was a show she watched regularly then it would help her with her social skills. I’ll definitely be watching the website for when more episodes are available.

Along with the show there are downloadable guides for extended learning for both parents and schools. These focus on the messages Tune In, Connect and Have Fun. Each section has guidelines for talking and learning about these particular social skills.

Tune In is about tuning into yourself, those around you and the world around you. This involves self-awareness, perspective taking and and assessing the social context.

Connect is about communicating, predicting feelings and sharing and appreciating unique qualities.

Have Fun is about using play to re-enforce social skills and aid interaction with others.

This is a Sponsored Post, All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Picnic With Hedgehogs

I was really excited about this months Center Parcs Family Blogger Challenge, it was to have a picnic and if there is one thing me and my children love it’s picnics!

However, having one proved more difficult than I anticipated because of the wonderful British weather. Sunny one minute, pouring with rain the next. So rather than venture out to our usual picnic venue, the duck pond, we decided to have our picnic in the garden so we could run inside if the weather turned. We were lucky enough for it to stay nice while we were out. The kids have been promised a trip to the duck pond tomorrow to feed the ducks.

I didn’t really do anything special for the picnic, just a selection of the kids favourite foods, like chicken, salad, sausage rolls and fruit. My piéce de résistance was my home made hedgehog bread rolls with raisins for eyes.

hedgehog bread rolls tucking into some salad

This cheeky little fella escaped and tried to nibble the treats

Even though we only managed to go as far as our own back garden the kids had a lovely time and the picnic got a thumbs up all round.

For a chance to become the next Center Parcs Family blogger simply share pictures of your fun filled family picnic on your blog. Visit Tots 100 for full details and good luck!
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
I’m linking this post up with Country Kids from Coombe Mill

My Pregnancies – Boo

Last time I told you all about my pregnancy with Star which was worrying because of all the bleeding. I also had very bad SPD.

Before getting pregnant with Star both me and my other half had had fertility tests, but we never really had an explanation as to why it wasn’t happening. However, it did happen in the end and just after Star’s first birthday we decided it would be nice to have another baby. We also decided to go for it straight away as I wasn’t getting any younger and we could be trying for a long time. Four weeks later I had a positive pregnancy test!

Then around six weeks into the pregnancy I started bleeding again. I also had a pain in my shoulder which was really worrying as my midwife told me it could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. A visit to the Early Pregnancy Unit showed that it wasn’t but they couldn’t tell me why I was bleeding. I tried to remain calm, I’d experienced the same with my previous baby and she’d been ok. It’s still such a worry though.

The bleeding continued and I ended up back at the EPU again at nine weeks and thirteen weeks. A dating scan showed that baby was doing fine and again I tried to be calm. I then had a whole three weeks of no bleeding, but I had fortnightly checks with my midwife.

When I had my twenty week scan it was seen that I had a low lying placenta which was in fact covering my cervix. This was given as a possible reason for the bleeding. So for the first time I had a reason, but it didn’t make me feel any better, especially when they told me that if it didn’t move it could prove dangerous later in the pregnancy and I would most likely be having a C-Section.  I was booked for a thirty six week scan to see if it had moved. Another animality picked up on the scan was the increased amount of fluid around the baby.  They told me that it could be that baby was not swallowing properly or the kidneys where not doing their job. They even said it could mean the baby had a chromosomal problem. I tried to feel consoled with the fact that they did a detailed scan on the baby and believed the kidneys and bladder to be working ok, and I saw baby blowing bubbles which had to be a good sign. Then, with two much fluid I was in danger of developing polyhyrdramnios which could mean ending my pregnancy stuck in hospital and becoming incredibly huge. Suddenly all the bleeding didn’t seem so bad in comparison.

The gorgeous Boo at 20 weeks, perfect in every way, just a shame mummy was not so perfect too.

Just a few days after my scan I was back in hospital after a really big bleed and a lot of pain. They blamed my placenta. I was tested for infection because of the pain, but after a couple of days things settled down again. I did, however, continue to bleed sporadically for the next two weeks.

I made it to thirty six weeks and went off for my scan, fingers tightly crossed. After much scanning and checking and double checking and even more scanning (I couldn’t say they were not being thorough  the final diagnosis was….the placenta had moved. whoo hoo! There was a 5cm gap which was deemed big enough for me to try for a vaginal birth. The estimated weight of the baby at this stage was 7lb 6oz. Wow! big enough to come out already….please!

A week later I was bleeding again. Worried that it could be placenta praevia because my placenta was still pretty low I was sent for a check-up. The blood turned out to be from a burst varicose vein! phew!

I went into labour while watching Eastenders. The contractions where pretty strong but five mins apart so I expected a fair wait. At 10pm I decided to go to bed. I knew I wouldn’t sleep but hey, it would be nice if I could get some rest. At 11.30pm I was in the taxi on the way to the maternity hospital. On arrival I was examined and found to be 4cm dilated and in established labour.

My midwife was a student and she was lovely. Just a few hours after arriving in the delivery room I was pushing. The midwife broke my waters, boy it was like Niagra Falls, I thought it would never end. Then I foolishly hoped that that huge bump had been mostly water and my Boo was going to be really small. By now it was the early hours of the morning and I was shattered. So tired I didn’t want to push anymore, I wanted to sleep. I had to find the energy deep inside to push out my baby. My lovely bouncing 9lb baby girl. so happy I hadn’t found out the flavour at the scan. We’d called her Boo while still inside, and even though she does actually have a name we still call her Boo now!

Then we had a little more drama as Boo had passed meconium while inside and was rushed off to have her airway cleared. I could see them working on her in the corner of the room and it was so terrifying. Just a few moments later she was breathing and they brought her over to me. That few moments had felt like a lifetime to me.

Then we celebrated because my Boo was the student midwife’s fortieth delivery which meant she became a fully qualified midwife.

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The magic moment when I met my Boo!

Bloggers Are Also Bonkers!

Last year I went to Blog Camp and it inspired me to write this blog. I did have a blog (or three) at the time, but I didn’t really have a direction (read as- a clue as to what I was doing)
Going to Blog Camp taught me many things. One was that is was ok to change your blog, you see that’s where I’d been going wrong, instead of changing my blog I started a new one and had several blogs all going in different directions. So I came here, to this blog which was called something completely different and basically a load of crap and re-invented it (to hopefully something a little less crap!)

Last year I also learnt a lot about taking photos and editing them. Something I’m still not brilliant at but I think that’s because I need a more fancy camera that will do all the work for me, any PR’s out there got one they’d like me to review? (If you don’t ask, you don’t get)

There was lots more that I learnt but that was last year and now I’ve just been to Blog Camp  Summit this year and learnt a whole heap more. I just wanted to point out that it was last years event that started me out on the path I am now, and I’m come such a long way (don’t bother going back to look at the rubbish posts in my history, I’ve deleted most of them) and I’ve made so many new friends. I’ve gained so much from my blogging but my proudest moment has to be becoming a finalist in the MAD blog awards. So you see, these brilliant Tots100 events can bring you great rewards.

So what did I learn this year?

Well,. first up, I have to say I’ve become a lot fitter and the four flights of stairs didn’t phase me (I think they almost killed me last year)

A grill session with some great bloggers ( Sally from Who’s the Mummy, Chrissie from Mediocre Mum, Helen from Fuss Free Flavours and Ruth from Geek Mummy) taught me that it’s ok to take time out from blogging if you need to. Also, you need to follow your heart and take your blog where you want it to be. Find your voice and do things your way, it’s ok to do reviews and sponsored posts if that’s what you want but you will learn in time how to balance things out and keep your readers happy. One more tip was to make a sock puppet, but the reason why is a secret only for those in attendance. Finally, Sally gave us a quick lesson on the metrics of the Tots100 ranking, which really is quite simple, honestly.

number of people who love your blog + number of people who loved your blog even more in the last month + number of people who like socialising with you x number of kids you have + how many bathrooms you have – number of people you’ve p**d off in last three years (or something like that)

An advanced SEO session with Judith Lewis taught me that I need to analyse some brilliant keywords for my blog and create a new page for them to bring in the traffic from search engines. This procedure involves much work and spreadsheets, apparently spreadsheets that have pretty colours work better. I can’t go into too much detail here right now (it was a lot to take in and would take up a lot of this post) but once I’ve had a go and worked it out for myself I may just make a new post to let you know how I get on and if it works.

After lunch I went for an interesting talk on Pinterest by Cathy James from NurtureStore. Now, I’ve used Pinterest for a while, I find it a great resource for, well, practically anything I’m planning from parties to picnics, wallpapers to cake decorating. However, I’ve never fully optimised it for my blog, and didn’t really know how. But now I do and it’s pretty straightforward. You can create images specifically for Pinterest to go with your blog posts and you can cross post your images to different but relevant boards (so long as you don’t do it all in one go) Images should be portrait rather than landscape and your boards should be organised on your page with the most appealing images as the cover. Also, up to 50 is the optimum number of boards to own. Apparently Pinterest can bring  you lots of traffic to your site and I have to admit I have noticed this from an image I posted from my daughter’s birthday party last year.

We also had a talk from some PRs from Frank, Volvo, Parent Dish and Argos which was very interesting. It’s always good to know how the PRs work and how they want to develop their relationship with bloggers.

Finally, we had an amusing talk from Andy Cope who told us about his research into why only 2% of us are happy and what we can do about it. In a simple summary you have to stop chasing happiness, for example, stop saying you will be happy when you achieve ‘this’ or you will be happy when ‘that’ happens. Instead you need to chose to be happy anyway. His little tip was to wake up every morning and be thankful that you don’t have toothache. So you need to stop being a mood hoover, moaning about everything and waiting for happiness to happen and instead chose to be happy anyway. I like to think I’m an optimistic person, and I think the best of people and look for the best in situations. Even so I know I’m guilty of chasing after happiness. But now I’m going to just chose to be happy each and every day, and as for the mood hoovers in my life, well hopefully I can make them happy too.

Just one more thing to say, did you know, Bloggers are awesome!! It’s true, I met some really lovely people at the summit and I know some of them will be real friends from now on.
Bloggers are also Bonkers! <<<<< click for more photos

from left to right Jaime from The Oliver’s Madhouse, Charly from PODcast and me!

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

Some people only write reviews when things go wrong with products, which is good because it lets people know that there could be potential problems. I’ve also seen negative feedback with say things like, I had to return this item because the colour did not suit me…is this useful?

I write reviews on most items I buy because I like to give genuine feedback. If I have a genuine problem with a product I will write my review in the appropriate place.

I write reviews on my blog too, but they are mostly positive. Why? Because I only write reviews for the things I’ve loved. If I don’t love them I let the person who sent me them know with details why and then let them decided if they would rather me write a negative review or not write one at all. It’s always the latter.

This is my blog, my place and I’ll let you know about the things I love. If you want to find out what other people have hated about the product then you will need to look elsewhere.

My reviews may all be positive, but they are still genuine.