Thursday, 30 June 2011

Review - Halos N Horns Bath Products

Halos N Horns

When I first realised that Zane had sensitive skin I went on my favorite mummy forum to find out which bath product other Mums had been using to bathe the little ones with. The same name kept coming up, Halos N Horns.

The reason that they are better for sensitive skin than standard bath products, is that the makers think that it is important to remove as many chemicals as they can, and replace them with plant based alternatives. Halos N Horns products are free from SLS (Sodium Laureth Sulphate), Parabens, Phtalates, Methylisothiazoline, Tricolsan, and Propylene Glycol. Replacing these chemicals with plant based alternatives means that the products are gentle on skin, kind to eyes, and hypoallergenic. Perfect for childrens skin.

I decided to put Halos N Horns to the test and I have been sent two products to review, Mango Melon Mayhem Shampoo & Condition, and Toothy Fruity Toothpaste.

I was really looking forward to trying these products out so gave Zane a bath straight away, the shampoo smelt subtle but fruity. It created a lather which wasn't really foamy, which meant that it didnt drip down his forehead into his eyes, which is brilliant for a happy bathtime. After his bath I had a look at the results and his hair was soft, and seemed really clean. The dry skin on his head seemed to better too so I was pleased to see that it hadn't dried his scalp out like other products had. It's great that it is suitable for sensitive skin because Zane loves getting mucky so needs to have a bath frequantly, I know that I can use it without worrying that it will irritate his excema. I would definately use this shampoo & conditioner again.

We have used the Toothy Fruity Toothpaste everyday since receiving it and Zane loves it, it tastes of strawberries and bananas, so because it tastes nice, it is a better experience and he wasnt so bothered about me putting his toothbrush in his mouth. The toothpaste is SLS free so you can be confident that your child isnt swallowing chemicals, and also as this is the ingrediant which creates foam, your child wont get a mouth full of foam, which I imagine would be a strange sensation for a young child. The toothpaste contains recommended amount of flouride advised by the British Dental Health Foundation too so you know that their teeth are getting the protection that they need.

You can buy Halos N Horns products from a wide variety of retailers, the RRP price for the shampoo and conditioner is £2.69, and the the toothpaste is £2.29.

Check out their website to see the rest of their range

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Ever wondered why you look at the clock at the same time everyday?

I have noticed that I always look at the clock at 11:11 and 14:44 everyday, its so strange! I have spoken to other people about this too and they say the same, and 11:11 seems to be the most recurrent time. It has made me wonder why it happens so frequently so I have researched it.

The results of my search are quite interesting, and there seems to be two arguments for why this happens. The first being that it is a message from your angels to get your attention, and the second being that it is coincidence, and because you have noticed it a lot, you have started to put a significance on the particular sequence of numbers, so I guess how you interpret it depends on your beliefs regarding spirituality.

I believe in angels, but I can also see that you could get yourself into a routine which would mean you would have time to glance at the clock at certain times everyday. I will use 11:11 as an example of this. I wake up at the same time everyday, rush to get to work, then work through my jobs with initial gusto which starts to wear once I have had a catch up and completed all of my priority jobs, which takes me a couple of hours to around 11 o'clock, I probably have a little rest, make a coffee and then sit back at my desk, look at the clock to see how long until its time for dinner and there you go, its 11:11. You have to remember that you body has its own natural clock and rhythm so this adds to the theory that it is just a coincidence.

I would love to go with the spiritual explanation as it is something which is close to my heart. Angels need to get their messages to you to help us heal our own lives, they do this by sending them in signs and symbols, which we often ignore because we write them off as coincidence or them just being our imagination.

I have found some information about what these number messages could mean by Doreen Virtue. It is very interesting, especially with the number combinations that I keep seeing.

111 - Monitor your thoughts carefully, and be sure to only think about what you want, not what you don't want. This sequence is a sign that there is a gate of opportunity opening up, and your thoughts are manifesting into form at record speeds. The 111 is like the bright light of a flash bulb. It means the universe has just taken a snapshot of your thoughts and is manifesting them into form. Are you pleased with what thoughts the universe has captured? If not, correct your thoughts (ask your angels to help you with this if you have difficulty controlling or monitoring your thoughts).

222 - Our newly planted ideas are beginning to grow into reality. Keep watering and nurturing them, and soon they will push through the soil so you can see evidence of your manifestation. In other words, don't quit five minutes before the miracle. Your manifestation is soon going to be evident to you, so keep up the good work! Keep holding positive thoughts, keep affirming, and continue visualizing.

333 - The Ascended Masters are near you, desiring you to know that you have their help, love, and companionship. Call upon the Ascended Masters often, especially when you see the number 3 patterns around you. Some of the more famous Ascended Masters include: Jesus, Moses, Mary, Quan Yin, and Yogananda.

444 - The angels are surrounding you now, reassuring you of their love and help. Don't worry because the angels' help is nearby.

555 - Buckle your seatbelts. A major life change is upon you. This change should not be viewed as being "positive" or "negative," since all change is but a natural part of life's flow. Perhaps this change is an answer to your prayers, so continue seeing and feeling yourself being at peace.

666 - Your thoughts are out of balance right now, focused too much on the material world. This number sequence asks you to balance your thoughts between heaven and earth. Like the famous "Sermon on the Mount," the angels ask you to focus on spirit and service, and know your material and emotional needs will automatically be met as a result.

777 - The angels applaud you, congratulations, you're on a roll! Keep up the good work and know your wish is coming true. This is an extremely positive sign and means you should also expect more miracles to occur.

888 - A phase of your life is about to end, and this is a sign to give you forewarning to prepare. This number sequence may mean you are winding up an emotional career, or relationship phase. It also means there is light at the end of the tunnel. In addition, it means, "The crops are ripe. Don't wait to pick and enjoy them." In other words, don't procrastinate making your move or enjoying fruits of your labor.

999 - Completion. This is the end of a big phase in your personal or global life. Also, it is a message to lightworkers involved in Earth healing and means, "Get to work because Mother Earth needs you right now."

000 - A reminder you are one with God, and to feel the presence of your Creator's love within you. Also, it is a sign that a situation has gone full circle.

So when I look at the clock at 11:11, my energy and brain power is starting to flag, I want to go home and be with Gary and Zane, so my angels want me to know that I need to correct my way of thinking, carry on thinking positively and keep myself motivated to get through the day. When I look at the clock at 4:44 they want me to know that they are still with me, I am not alone and soon I will be where I want to be.

I would love to hear from anyone else that frequently see's the same time, and also whether the meaning for their combination is true to how they could be feeling at that time.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Twenty things I didnt know about breastfeeding before I started.

Jaishree J Vyavaharkar

This is a late entry for Breast Feeding Awareness Week, but I thought it was important so I wanted to post it still. When I was breastfeeding I thought it would be so simple and straight forward, as I am sure a lot of people do too. I found that once I was actually doing it, it wasn't anything like I thought it would be. I want to post twenty things I didnt know to hopefully help other people, and also for my own record for when I hopefully get a chance to try again.

  1. Cluster Feeding is completely normal, you are not starving your baby and they are not feeding so much because you are not producing enough milk for them.
  2. The length of time the WHO recommends to breastfeed is 2 yrs, the world average is 4 years, but the media (or formula companies) would have you believe that you should stop at 6 months when you start weaning and introduce follow on formula.
  3. It is better to be proactive rather than reactive when finding out breastfeeding information. I really wish that I had found out more information before Zane was born rather than be stuck when the time came to do it and have 10 people telling me different ways that I should be doing it.
  4. Your breasts don't feel so big and engorged after a few months, it doesnt mean your supply is diminishing.
  5. Breast milk is very useful for conjunctivitus, and also contains natural pain relief. For the mother it helps prevent osteoarthritis and breast cancer.
  6. You can drink alcohol in moderation whilst breast feeding.
  7. Teeth dont mean the end of be able to breast feed.
  8. A poorly baby which wont eat or drink will almost always take a breastfeed, so you dont need to worry that they are not getting the nutrition that they need.
  9. When a baby gets a bit awkward on the breast at around 9/10 months, it is not necessarily a sign that they are self-weaning. It will probably turn out to be teething or distraction. and within a few weeks they will be the great little feeder they were before.
  10. Midwives and Health Visitors dont nessessarily know all there is to know about breastfeeding. There are lots of support groups available such as La Leche League, and also there are support groups at Childrens Centres and Babycafes.
  11. When you go back to work you can still feed once you get back home and your supply will be fine, and it will give you chance to reconnect with your baby.
  12. There are laws to protect mums who breastfeed in public.
  13. Breastfeeding is a great sourse of comfort and can solve almost anything!
  14. You can do extended breatfeeding, and once you find the right support groups you will find that it is actually more common than you would think.
  15. Babies can have tongue tie, which can affect feeding because the membrane underneath the tongue is too short so the tongue cannot move freely. A simple procedure can help free the tongue and you can feed straight away.
  16. A child has regular growth spurts which can mean extra feeding is required.
  17. Applying pressure to the nipple on the side you're not feeding off stops the leaking.
  18. You dont need special clothes to breastfeed in, you could wear a vest underneath your normal top which you can pull down and protect your modesty.
  19. The supply and demand system is so finely tuned that your breasts adapt to baby feeding at different times on different days or needing more watery milk on hot days.
  20. Breastfeeding is one of the hardest, but most rewarding thing that you can do.
I only planned to do ten points, but it turned into twenty, and I am sure there is a lot more that I dont know. I think the most important things are research and finding the right support, preferbly before your baby is born. I never realised how much breastfeeders were proud of what they are doing, so I was silly to think that I couldn't go to a support group without a baby and I would have had a lot more support and knowledge.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Review - WOW Toys

WOW Toys

WOW Toys are a multiple award winning toy manufacturer who make some fantastic toys, most are suitable from when your baby is 18 months old. Their toys don't require any batteries but they still have amazing features and functions for your child to discover. The toys are designed to assist with early development by including exciting features which assist with a range of sensory skills, ranging from development of fine motor skills to interactive role play. Perfect for little ones to explore!

WOW Toys have sent me a Roll-It Riley to review with Zane. If any other children are obsessed with transport like Zane they will be in their element. He was so excited just seeing the box, it has lots of pictures showing you features of the toy, and their is a lovely scenery in the background behind the toy, which can be pulled out of the box and used to aid play if you wanted to.

The toy is very durable, the plastic feels very solid and thick, and the thing that impressed me the most was that the main body of it was all one piece, so it felt like it was safe to play with and I knew it wouldn't break easily, which to me makes it feel llike it is more value for money as I know that it will last.

The toy came with two separate accessories, a workman figure, and a road sign. Zane loved to put the workman in the seat space and then take him back out again, so it is great for his fine motor skills, and I can see that when he is older he can use him for role play, its will also help adults get engaged in the play too. The construction sign will be useful in the future to assist with role play, and it is something which you can point out in real life situations.

Zane loved playing with Roll-It Riley, he liked pushing it along the floor and as it is a friction powered toy it carried on going after he had stopped pushing. The roller makes a noise as it moves across the ground which is engaging, and it is also split into two halves so you can spin and sort the faces, adding an extra dimension to play.

I love this toy because it is sturdy, I can trust that it wont easily break. It is suitable for a very long time as it can be played with in many different ways, all enhancing sensory development as the child grows. The only thing that I didn't like was that to get it out of the box there were lots of ties holding the toy in place and it took me a while to separate the toy from the packaging, Zane got quite impatient. That is only a one off problem though, so to counteract that you could detach it before the child see's it so that they could play straight away. The ties do come in useful for us though because we reuse things as much as we possibly can, we can use these ties for gardening to tie plants to cane's.

You can visit WOW Toys on their fantastic website which is full of personality on the following link

I'm sure you will find something which your child will love for a very long time.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Breastfeeding Awareness Week 19th-25th June 2011 - My Journey

I thought that it would be very appropriate to cover Breastfeeding Awareness Week as although it isn't something that I do anymore, I still think that it is very important and more people need to be made aware so it is something that I support.

I always wanted to breastfeed, even before I had Zane, I just felt that it was the right thing to do, a mothers milk is superior to any other so I was determined. It also goes along with my philosophy of "what would cave woman have done?", we have evolved from her so she can't have been going wrong for us to still be here. I thought it was as simple as latching baby onto boob and off you go, it may hurt a bit at first but that was normal, I didn't do any research.

When Zane arrived after a very traumatic birth for the both of us he was sent straight to SCBU. He was very drowsy from the birth and the drugs and wasn't at all interested in a feed. The nurses tried to get him to latch when he stirred for a fleeting moment but it just wasn't happening, he wasn't the slightest bit interested. Throughout his first night I slowly made my way to SCBU from my ward to try to feed him every time he stirred. He still wasn't interested so I enjoyed the cuddle. The SCBU nurse was insistent that he needed a feed quickly so I needed to make a decision on whether or not to give him some formula when he next woke. I asked what effect that would have on breastfeeding and she explained about the gut flora changing and never being the same again. Instant guilt trip, let you baby starve, or make it so that he no longer has a virgin gut, and could have nipple confusion, it was either or, we couldn't let him wait to feed on his own accord. I decided I didn't want him to starve so give him formula if he woke. I felt awful going against everything that I had planned for and it was the start of so much confusion surrounding breastfeeding.

Over the next few days the SCBU nurses tried their best to help me, some were lovely, some were forceful. There was no privacy for me to try and feed. I was given a screen around us so that I could feed but it was useless because of how the room was laid out the other parents who were visiting their babies were either side of me. I am such a prude, I could never do that it a room full of strangers, never mind some of them being men. I carried on persevering as well as topping up with formula which he gulped down. The whole time I was expressing on the ward. I was told to do it every three hours to get my breasts into a routine. The pumping machine I borrowed from the hospital was very loud, and I was the only person in the room who was breastfeeding and pumping so I felt out of place,  and nervous of waking everyone up in the middle of the night because of the noise. It was also so depressing to pump for ages and only get 10ml. I felt useless and like I couldn't sustain him, along with the disappointment of my birth being what I would have never expected. My head was a mess and my hormones were going crazy, all I could do was cry. I will never forget how pleased I was to see my Sister In Law and my Nephew when I felt my worst. After a cuddle and a talk I felt a little better and she gave me more confidence to get out of there! I was fed up of hospital, and I didn't know why I couldn't leave. After my visitors had left I approached a midwife who said that I couldn't leave as they had concerns about his feeding. I felt even more useless, like I was failing my son because I couldn't feed him.

The next night I couldn't stand to be in hospital any longer and broke down to Gary. He had brought me some hot chocolate to cheer me up, so he sent me for a bath and made me a chocolate for when I got back. After that he said that we had got to try harder to get Zane to latch. He told me to lie down and try that position and would you believe it, he latched straight away! I was elated, and Gary went to fetch a midwife to check that everything was right. The next morning we went home at long last after 5 days in hospital.

That wasn't the end though. Once home it was just as much of a struggle, he would only feed lying down, and I was trying to be superwoman with an episiotamy, so I found it stressful lying down for a long time when I could have been doing something else. I carried on with expressing rather than being persistent with exclusively from the breast, which the visiting midwife wasn't happy about, instead of taking her advice I started hiding the pump when she came.

After 6 weeks of exhausting colic, Zane started to have green mucus in his nappies. I couldn't take the stress of breastfeeding anymore and after visiting the doctor to discuss the nappy problem I changed to exclusively formula feeding. It took a while but after trying a few brands the nappies got better and the colic disappeared. Looking back now I wonder if something I was eating was affecting his digestion.

I had feelings of guilt changing to formula but there was less of a weight on my shoulders so after a short while I was happier and could get my head round other things. I believe breast is best, but formula saved my sanity when I needed it the most, so I would never say formula feeding shouldnt be so common.

On reflection I wish I had of stuck with breastfeeding, but at the time I couldn't, my mental health was suffering because of it. If I were to have another child I would still breastfeed, but I would do a lot of research and get a support system in place before the birth so if I had any questions or problems I had someone to speak to.

I think breastfeeding awareness shouldn't just be dedicated to one week of the year, I think mothers to be should have a mandatory breastfeeding lesson before the birth and after so people are more informed and they can be put straight about the breastfeeding myths that exist.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Importance of Showing Appreciation

The definition of appreciation
1. Recognition of the quality, value, significance, or magnitude of people and things.
2. A judgment or opinion, especially a favorable one.
3. An expression of gratitude.
4. Awareness or delicate perception, especially of aesthetic qualities or values.
5. A rise in value or price, especially over time.
I was going to write about Breastfeeding Awareness Week today, but something more significant has made me think today. Yesterday I found out that someone that I know passed away over the weekend. I didn't know them well, just a hello in passing and we spoke over the telephone on occasion, but it still made me feel sad that they had passed. They were only young, maybe a similar age to me, so it was a great shock to hear, as it is whenever you hear of somebody young dying. Everyone that I spoke to said what a lovely person they were and they too were very shocked, everyone was sad that such a nice person was no longer around.
Today I found out that they hadn't just died, but they had taken their own life. They had been terribly lonely in a life that didn't make them happy. The smiley, bright, cheerful person who always had a hello for you whenever they saw you was terribly depressed inside, but put on a front so that you couldn't tell. I wonder if they knew how highly people regarded them, and if they did, would it have made life just that little more bearable. Knowing that people were pleased to see their smiley face and that they were greatly appreciated, just for being around and for being them.
This tragedy has has made me see the importance of showing gratitude to everyone around me, and I hope that this post will make the readers see that they should show it more, or be happy that they are hopefully already making someone else feel good inside by showing them appreciation for the smallest of things.
RIP. God, you have a wonderful new angel and I hope they will be at peace with themselves now they are with you. Although I don't think that they knew it, they will be missed.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Review - Bum Deal Giraffe Print Nappy

This is a very special review as it is my first, and what else could I do as a first review except for a cloth nappy! I have been sent a gorgeous nappy from Ella at Bum Deal Nappies. Bum Deal Nappies specialise in  funky, easy to use cloth nappies that are affordable prices, making cloth nappies seem so easy.

I received a Bum Deal Giraffe print nappy, with a soft minky outer, and Velcro for fastening. It is suitable from birth to potty, and it has poppers up the front so that you can adjust the size. They also sent me a Bamboo/cotton booster which can be used for heavy wetters, or to convert the nappy into a night nappy, a reusable wipe which was double sided with fleece and terry towelling, and some Little Lambs flushable viscose, and paper liners.

When I received the nappy through the post it was gift wrapped beautifully, like I was getting a  present, which lets face it, buying nappies is like buying yourself a little present, everyone knows you don't just buy them for your babies bum except of course to make them even cuter! I put the nappy, booster and wipe in with the rest of my nappy wash and did extra prewashes to make it all more absorbent, and then pegged them out on the line to dry. I was amazed at how quickly it all dried, even the bamboo/cotton booster, usually mine are the last thing to be dry.

When we came to use the nappy I was very pleased with the fit. The Velcro meant that it was snug around Zane's waist, and there was no gaping around the legs.  I had used two microfibre inserts and it was still very slim, I had no trouble at all fitting his trousers over the top of the nappy. I changed the nappy after three hours and there were no leaks, no red marks around the legs, and the most important thing is no wet bum!

I changed Zane into one of our own nappies but used a microfibre and the bamboo/cotton booster. I also used a Little Lambs flushable viscose liner. It was nap time so these were really going to be put to the test, I had my full faith in the booster as I rate bamboo very highly, but I was worried about the viscose liner not keeping the moisture away, making him uncomfortable and waking him. I must add that I was suprised at how soft the liner was, not at all coarse or unflexible. He had a lovely long nap and the nappy was still reletively dry, I changed it after four hours and again there were no leaks, I think he could definately have worn the nappy for longer, the liner had kept his bum reasonable dry, he was only very slightly moist which I think is still good performance because of the length of time that it was worn. I later used the paper liner and was equally impressed.

This was the first time that I had used a double sided wipe, usually I use just fleece. I used a solution of water and a drop of bubble bath to soak the wipe before use. I was extreamly happy with how the wipe performed, it was thick, which for me feels like it is more effective, and with it being double sided the terry was very good at getting solids off without having to keep going over an area, and then the fleece side was lovely for drying his bum.

Overall I am very impressed with Bum Deal Nappies. The nappy was gorgeous and a superb fit, which is excellent as the nappies retail at a very affordable £6.45. I feel that you could have a whole stash of these and you wouldn't be disappointed, or take too much of a hit to your bank balance either. The bamboo/cotton booster was my favorite item, I was so impressed with the time that it took to dry, and its performance whilst in use was excellent, I would definately buy more of these, and again the price is excellent at £1.50 per booster. I loved the double sided wipe, using it felt like I was really caring for his bottom as he was lovely and dry when I had finished, and there were no chemicals. Also I wasn't adding anything at all from the nappy change to the landfill which is important to me. I think that the flushable liners both performed well, and I was impressed with their softness, personally I prefer fleece liners for day to day use, but the flushable liners would be perfect for if you were out for the day and didnt want to carry soiled fleece.

Check out these products and more on I sure you will find something that you love!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Its too soon to choose a school!

I am frequently getting asked if we have put Zane's name down for a school, and the thought of thinking about that far ahead in time scares me! I don't want to wish his life away, I miss him as my newborn baby who didn't move so fast and give backchat to the cartoon characters on the TV.  I look forward to every milestone that he meets, but we let him do everything in his own good time, and its more of a surprise when he does something spontaneous rather than after us coaching him. I seems strange for me to say, right he is starting school at age four, lets put his name down, when I don't know that he would be ready for school then.

The inevitable thing is that he needs an education, but there are so many options, how do I know now what would be suitable for him in say 4 years time? He could need a different approach to education rather than mainstream school, but there may be different provisions in my area by then, or with cost cutting exercises the school we choose could be shut down in the meantime.

Over the past 18 months I have come to the conclusion that the school we want him to attend needs to centered around activity based learning rather than sitting at a desk being recited to, it needs outdoor space which is functional and used for everyday learning, and it must be child led rather than working at the speed that the national curriculum specifies.

Whilst looking for schools which fit my specification I stumbled upon the Montessori concept. The Montessori concept has an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respects a child's natural psychological development, acknowledging the fact that children have an innate desire to learn and giving them the freedom to explore the world around them at their own pace. Typically in a Montessori school the classrooms are of mixed age, the child choose their own activity out of prescribed options, there are uninterrupted blocks of work time, and it works with a constructivist model where students learn from working with materials rather than from direct instruction. Sounds perfect for us, and fits the bill, the only problem is that they are not common in my area, the nearest one is 11 miles away, which isn't that far, but it would mean 45 minutes on the bus each way which I don't think is fair on a small child, although Zane would love going down the motorway everyday. This school is a dream for me, and I would be ecstatic if Zane could go there. Another type of school with a similar concept is Steiner Waldorf, but again, the nearest one is miles away.

A more available type of education is a Forest school. Forest schools are a type of outdoor education which offers children an opportunity have hands on experiences in a woodland environment. Why a forest? Well it encourages curiosity and exploration using all of the senses, it empowers children in the natural environment, and encourages spatial awareness and motor development. Luckily for us one of the local schools is going to become one. It is something for me to look into, it fits most of my specification and it is only on the other side of town, so much more accessible to us.

My last option for formal education has been announced today in my local area. Seven schools in our catchement area are currently under consultation to get Foundation status and form a Co-operative Learning Trust. This means that the schools would colaborate together and share rescources for teaching and learning. This is great in terms of being enabled to reach full poential, but I dont know where it would stand in terms of the specification that I have set out. I am going to attend a meeting for the public to see what the proposal is and if it would benefit us. The meeting is at the end of the month so I will update once I have digested all of the information.

After writing mostly about alernative schools you might be wondering what I have against mainstream education. Well for me I was very shy, and I got lost amongst the 30 other children in my class right from Reception class. I was too shy to answer or ask questions so I just did what I could, nobody gave me the one on one time to bring the best out of me and see past the shyness. My year 9 English teacher said that I would get no more than a D at GCSE, I actually got an A because my teacher in years 10 and 11 took more interest in us as individuals and she made the learning interesting by doing different activities which made the learning memorable. And with Gary he is super intelligent, he can explain how anything works without even looking at it, but he struggles to write down on paper what is going on in his head, his brain is just moving to fast. Being assessed verbally or by doing physical tasks would have suited him so much better, and he would have got better grades at GCSE and A Level. Zane seems to have a similar learning style to Gary, he wants to see and do rather than watch, he quickly figures out how things work, and he cant sit still for a second. I can imagine him sitting in a classroom, getting up whilst the teacher is talking and just wondering off to investigate something that he is curious about, and I dont want that to be labelled as naughty when he is just learning on his own accord.

So, in conclusion we have a lot of desicions to make and it seems like a short space of time as people are saying we need to do it already when he is only 18 months old. I will be sure to post my thoughts and discoveries as time goes on.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Pecking for Power

I have observed the chickens a lot since we got them and I like to think that I know their personalities and behaviours quite well. I thought that Henny Penny was top of the pecking order, she is the biggest, she bosses them all around and she isn't shy to having a good go at the others if she isn't happy with them. Next I thought was Sandy, she pecks Pinky and Scragbag, but not too often and not viciously. Scragbag being third down because I have only ever seen her pick on Pinky, and there is always a group of three that stay together, Henny Penny, Sandy and Scragbag. Pinky has very much been sent to Coventry and she is rarely seen with the other three unless there are treats being offered and even then she has to hang back until the rest have finished.

So one night I noticed that actually Sandy is top of the Pecking order, followed by Henny Penny. She is my kind of leader, firm but fair and let you know what is expected of you and doesn't abuse her power. I noticed that she was top when we were watching them go in the coop one night. She got in first which isn't unusual, and all of the others were waiting and watching, when Henny Penny went up the ramp and into the coop Sandy gave her a good going over, more than I had ever seen. The other two were watching in anticipation and hung back for quite a while whilst Henny Penny tried to get past Sandy. Eventually she barged past, and the other two went up, both got pecked but not nearly as much as Henny Penny did. Once we shut the door behind them there was a massive commotion! The next morning Sandy was missing quite a few feathers on her chest and there was blood so I think Henny Penny didn't take light to being bossed around. This has happened every night since, so its not just Sandy vying to rule the roost.

The problem we have with our pecking order is that Pinky gets picked on and I feel very sorry for her. She barely has any feathers on her neck from when the others attack her, and she seems very lonely. She spends all day by herself and she sleeps in the nesting box away from the others too. I think sleeping separate is a good idea because she cant be harmed, but being so lonely cant be good for her health.

So what do we do? Part of me says that this is natural and I am thinking that I am labelling her with human emotion which she doesn't have, Pinky could well know her place and deals with it accordingly. But then the other side of me says that she doesn't look like a happy chicken, and should be keep her to one side and give her some TLC. If we did that how would she integrate back into the group?

I think one of the first things that I am going to do is make sure that they are living in optimum conditions, then I know that the things that I control are not what is affecting them and then I can review after a few weeks. I am going to look at sourcing a better quality feed, the availability of drinking water, boredom, and vitamins and treats. It will be hit and miss but I will be getting a good result at the end, happy chickens lay happy eggs, which make me lovely cake's!

I hope you have enjoyed my first post about the ladies, look out soon for more updates on how I have helped Pinky.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

How I found my parenting path.

Up until Zane was 5 months old I didn't feel like I was on this planet. I had quite a traumatic birth and it still affects me now, 18 months later. I bumbled along not understanding anything, it was like my brain was mashed potato, using the sterilizer was like rocket science to me.

We tried to take the routine approach which the SCBU at the hospital had had him on for the time that he was in there, which worked for a bit but then it stopped working, he wanted different things at different times so I looked into something different. I had always liked watching The Baby Whisperer on TV, and I had one of her books so I dug it out and had a read. In it was one of the best things that I have read about baby care. Tracey Hogg had identified what each cry meant, and so you could respond to the baby appropriately. We started this and Zane's cries seemed to match what the book said so it was so much easier to care for him so we started the EASY routine. Only I realised after a week or so that  Zane's own natural routine didn't spell EASY, and actually we were being baby led without realising and he was happy, I had less of a fog in my head, and it wasn't because I was following the Baby Whisperer, it was because I was following Zane.

So we continued, when he was tired, we let him sleep, when he was hungry we fed him, he had his own pattern so it was easy to follow. I had a lot of comments from people about letting the baby rule the roost, and making a rod for my own back which bothered me because we were happy, but it seemed we were going against the grain. I needed some back up so I did some research, and found some wonderful information about being baby led, and gentle parenting, I finally felt comfortable with our choice and have stuck with it, we have a bright, intelligent, independant and inquisitive boy, and I have good posture from my rod!

Here is a poem which I have found along the way which summarises how I feel about raising the gift that is our son.

Children Learn What They Live
By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Copyright © 1972 by Dorothy Law Nolte

I hope it touches you as much as it did me.

Monday, 6 June 2011

What a difference a change makes....

I always do my shopping at Tesco's, ever since I moved in with Gary seven years ago. We lived close by and we could get Clubcard points so it was great for us. We have since moved away from that side of town and have taken the car off the road so it isn't convenient for us to get there, so I continued as a customer by doing online grocery shopping.

For a while I was happy with the service that they provided. The drivers were always on time and we got the shopping that we wanted. I have noticed over the last few months that the service has gone downhill quite considerably. We would have frequant substitutions, and the picker had obviously not used their common sense, sending us products which were not similar to our required item, a basic example was unsmoked bacon rather than smoked, could they not just substitute it for another brand of smoked? I have heard of more extreme examples from friends such as strawberry yoghurt's sent instead of strawberries. Then I requested a butternut squash, they sent me the worlds smallest squash which was the size of a banana, the next week I got the worlds largest squash, probably big enough to feed my whole street, and I live on a very long road! Another thing which would annoy me was for a 50 item shop, I would get 30 bags, most items packed individually, and it would take me forever to unpack everything. The thing that put the nail in the coffin for me was when I would look at the use by dates on my fresh produce and it would all expire by Monday, when I had it delivered on the Friday. What was the use of that, I have a tiny freezer so I could only freeze so much. We had obviously ordered a weeks shopping because of the amount of meals ordered so why have we been given the stock which Tesco's need to clear as soon as they can. I may not be a very profitable shopper by not visiting their store and having impulse buys, but I have spent thousands of pounds with them over the past 7 years, they should treat online customers customer the same as anyone which visits their stores and gets the best produce on the shelf.

So, I complained for the first time ever. I wrote to them and got a reply the next day, they were very sorry, said that my complaint was going to be passed onto the store which provided the groceries so that retraining could take place, and sent me a code for £6.00 off my next shopping. I tried them again to use the voucher and had high hopes that I would be more satisfied. I wasn't, nothing had changed so I decided instead of wasting more time complaining I would spend my money elsewhere.

On Friday I had my shopping from Sainsbury's instead of Tesco and I have to say I was very impressed. The website was easy to navigate, and I found a voucher code for a £10.00 discount which actually worked! When the shopping arrived the delivery driver was very talkative, he noticed that I had brought baby products and asked if we had children which is always a good thing to ask a parent, then he said he knew it was our first delivery from them so he wanted to go through the basics of their delivery system. They have to call us if they are going to be late, along with giving us a £10.00 voucher as compensation, and he explained their receipt and how they show what substitutions have been made. He was very pleasant, and cheerful, and it was like he was serving us like in the supermarket, rather than just dropping our shopping off.

After he left I took a look at the shopping, instead of 30 bags, there was 6, all in order of where they would be kept, e.g. fridge items, and cupboard items which made putting it all away much easier, and less frustrating. All of the fresh produce had a decent life, every packet of meat had a different use by date spread over the week which makes cooking a more pleasant experience as we can eat what we wanted whenever rather than having to eat what was going out of date. I was also very impressed with the packaging, it seemed like wherever they could they had cut down on unnecessary packaging which is something that I think is very important. Since the delivery I haven't found a single negative point with the products we have received.

I am so impressed with Sainsbury's that I am going to continue buying from them, Tesco's loss is their gain. This week I am going to try the feed a family for £50.00 scheme, the menu's look yummy and hopefully it will save us some money.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Perfect day for a nappy wash!

What a beautiful day! A perfect day for giving my nappies a good wash and hanging them out in the sun. I have tried a few different methods of cleaning my nappies over the last year and I think I have found the best combination so far. I now do a prewash with the temperature off so that the solids don't bake on, then with a full dose of Fairy gel and a scoop of Napisan I put them on a 60 degree wash for 2 hours and 20 minutes. After the main wash has finished I rinse and spin until no more bubbles come out into the water, usually it takes two rinses. When they come out they smell lovely and fresh, no ammonia smells or stains, and they are so soft, who would want to wear paper pants when you can have such soft and squishy cotton against your bum!

I will continue to experiment though, I love using different oils so that they are fragranced with tea trea, or lavender, but Fairy smells so fresh I have stuck with that until I find something special to try out.