Saturday 30 June 2012

A day with Grandad

Wednesday was a busy day in our house. You see it was our little man's very first birthday. With all the coming's and going's throughout the day, everyone wanting to see our beautiful birthday boy, there was no chance to really go out anywhere for the day. 

It was decided that over the weekend we would make the very most of our time, and whether it rained or shined...We would do something for Leo. To help us celebrate we invited Luke's Dad along, Leo's Grandaddy. 

The weather was a confusing affair so it was decided that we would visit the Butterfly farm, where we could escape any potential rain and enjoy a vast array of different butterfly's!

This was Leo's second visit to the Butterfly Farm, and we first visited back in February. Leo loved every moment even back then, so we knew he could only love it that little bit more.  We all piled into my little 206 and off we went to Stratford...

Leo was even more curious this time around, wanting to touch anything and everything that came his way. Luke found what he thought to be a dead Butterfly and gently picked it up to show it to Leo. Unfortunately Leo was a little to quick with his hands and managed to make a swipe at the poor thing, which apparently was not quite as dead as Luke first thought...Judging by it quickly flying away from the swiping motion of Leo's hands.

The farm have recently added a few Iguanas to the 'flight' area, and I was very taken a back to see them roaming around completely free. They are not hard to miss and we found one having a good old munch on some leaves. There are many signs warning that these reptiles may be quick to snap...So it is safe to say that I steered very clear.

I even held a Snake on our adventure today, the only One out of Luke and Grandaddy to do so. Brownie points for Mummy on this occasion! 

Having got back around 7pm, both of my boy's are completely spark out. Even Luke is fast asleep and dreaming...You would think they had experienced a very busy day....

I will let the pictures do the talking of our exciting day!

How have your Saturday's been? Been on any adventures this weekend?

Friday 29 June 2012

Leo's First Year

Leo's First year in life has been a year for First everything. 

Each new day has brought a new adventure for us to live and a new experience for us to learn from. Each new discovery has taught us both valuable lessons that have allowed us to grow, play and love together.

Leo's very first experience was his journey into the world and that to this very day is the most amazing day of my life. 

As the days since Leo's arrival turned into weeks, we were soon rewarded with the most amazing gift for all the late night feeds and early mornings. Leo's very first smile. For a while it was only his uncle that could make his little cheeks curl into the beautiful gummy crescent moon. Just watching him smiling was the greatest thing, and even now when he smiles I cannot help but think 'Wow'.

When Leo turned 12 weeks old in September 2011, we decided the time was right for him to move into his very own room. Luke and I spent Two days painting his room and getting it all ready before putting him in his big boy cot for the very first time. That night I missed my little baby desperately, but with him growing so quickly his moses basket was becoming pretty snug. The very first night in his cot at 12 weeks old, was the very night he rejected the dummy I had resented giving him, and since then...We have never looked back.

The weeks soon turned into months, and at just over 4 months old, we slowly embraced our weaning journey. Leo took to food right away, he loved baby porridge and that was our starting point. From there we took it very slowly and did not rush ourselves. Now Leo eats like a pro, and loves food with a great enthusiasm. You could say he has a see food and eat it motto...

In October Leo experienced his very first Halloween. In true style a 4 month old Leo and I set about carving pumpkins and taking many a photo! 

In November at 20 weeks old, Leo rolled over for the very first time, and just after this magical moment it was time to jet off to Tenerife for Leo's very first holiday. Leo was only 5 months old and was the model baby as we took off into the sky for a week away in the Winter sunshine. While we were away Leo visited his very first beach, and we collected some seashells for his memory box. His very first seashells.

Shortly after our return from holiday, we were graced with the most heartfelt sound. Leo's very first belly laugh. A noise that erupted from the very pitt of his tummy. That rang loud and true and brought a smile to anyone and everyone that witnessed it. Leo has always been such a happy baby boy and continues to make us smile everyday.

Winter was here and we were now eagerly awaiting Leo's very first Christmas. Despite Leo only being just over 5 months old we decided to make it a Christmas to remember and implement our traditions early on. We took Leo to ride on the Santa Express, where Santa was visiting with all his Elves.

The Christmas Tree was covered in our little man's very own decorations and this years tree was extra special, as it was Leo's first. Our little man even received a very special letter. A letter from the not so little man in Red! When the big day arrived, Leo saw Christmas in with style...

With the new year upon us, many new firsts were about to broaden our horizen. Leo's first tooth popped through in January at 6 months old. I had many feelings about this but excitement won over in the end. Then out of nowhere he began to clap his little hands. My heart melted...

Winter was still all around us at the end of January, and although it was hat and coat weather. We still braced the park for a morning walk, and this is when Leo and I fed the Ducks together for the very first time.

In February we saw the first and only snow fall of Winter. My hopes for a White Christmas had been dashed, but Leo finally got a glimpse of the white stuff!

By mid February Leo had a new found mobility - crawling. This was the beginning of our constant on the move, not being able to sit down adventure. Leo currently prefers to crawl over finding the use of his Two feet! This was also the month he discovered his wave, and now he loves to wave at everyone we come across. It is surely a great way to make friends on the train! 

Back in May Leo discovered that he could use his walker to get around the house. Cruising and using the walker were very exciting. Still...He was yet ready to put one foot in front of the other and walk.

It was in May that we began hearing actual words coming from Leo's little mouth, and then in June we took Leo to see his very first firwork display. It was here that he also had his very first fairground ride.

That sums up Leo's very first year and many of the first's that he has experienced. Some amazing moments for Leo and myself, precious moments that I count my lucky stars for being able to re-live at any moment I choose to. 

It was Leo's very first Birthday on Wednesday June 27th and we have come such a long way. We have both grown from our exciting year together and I know that we still have many firsts to come, and I look forward to them. We are now into our Second year together and I cannot wait to share our adventures with you.

Thursday 28 June 2012

Britmums Live 2012

Britmums Live is the biggest blogging event of the year and is dated in all blogger's diaries as an event not to be missed. I had heard so much hype and excitement buzzing around this event that I just had to attend.

On Friday 22nd of June I packed my bags and with my iPad in hand, I prepared for a whole weekend away in London. A weekend full of blogging seminars with fellow bloggers who wanted to meet new people and polish up their blogging skills.

 This date had been in my diary for months, but it quickly came around and on that morning I gave Leo a longer than normal embrace, you see that cuddle had to last him...and me all weekend long. Leo was going to be staying at home with his Daddy and his Granny, where he would have a great time and not even realise that I had gone.

I took one more loving gaze at Leo before getting out of the car and heading to catch my train. A train that would take me accross country, far away from him. Where I would learn many new things and meet many inspirational women.

Have you ever had that feeling where you feel you have forgotten something?

On my Two hour journey to London I had this feeling. I had either forgotten a very important item...Or a special someone. It turns out I had everything I needed but that special someone I was missing was Leo, and travelling alone is not something I am accustomed to. I suddenly realised that I hide behind my baby boy, and he helps break the ice with people with his bright Blue eyes and beautiful smile. Usually I find many people to speak to on the train, on this occasion though...Leo was not here, and I was left to stare out of the window.

As the journey progressed and we neared London Paddington, the butterfly's in my tummy seemed to have a mind of their own. They were up and down and it was apparent that along with my excitement, I was also very nervous.

Arriving into London Paddington and heading up to the Taxi rank is something I have become accustomed to. It was strange not to have Leo in his buggy and being able to go up the escalator instead of the lift was a luxury I had long forgotten. The taxi pulled up along side me and asked me where I was going. To my dis-belief I was informed that this 10 minute journey from the station to our hotel was going to cost me £30.00 due to apparent road closures. Now I may be skeptical but I knew right there and then he was having me on. I told him to forget it and I would wait for another taxi, and that is exactly what I did. My taxi journey cost me £12.00. 

My nerves had all but vanished by the time I met my room mate for the weekend - Bex over at Mummy Adventure. In the butterfly's place was pure excitement. Bex and I soon arrived at Britmums Live and were instantly looking around for familiar faces, for me though I did not recognize a single person.

Walking into the Brewery and seeing bloggers in every direction was pretty amazing. I looked around the room and kept wondering who had which blog. Everyone was now making their way into the Hub where all the brands had set up their stands. To name a few brands in attendance we had Crocs, Lego, Johnsons and Disney! 

As soon as we walked inside we were soon carrying around many a goodie bag, before we had even started any seminars. Particular brands that stood out for me were Crocs, Lego, Warner Brothers and Disney.

My first session was all about taking my blog to the next level. Presentation, grammer and content are key to a successful blog. I like to think I present myself and The Life and Times of The Working Mum to a good standard, and if I ever do miss a apostrophe or miss spell a particular word, please feel free to call me on it.

The message of the session was an important one: you must always make sure you keep your voice. remembering the reason you started blogging in the first place, keeps your blog authentic and from the heart. It does not matter if people disagree with what you have to say, the whole point is to write what you want to write. Not what you feel other's may want to read. You need to have confidence to push yourself to the next level

With sessions over for Friday, it was time to attend the Brilliance in Blogging awards. Katie Hill was to be presenting these prestigious awards to the winners, and it was lovely to watch the winner's reactions, when they were called up to accept the award. Everyone had clearly prepared the speech and gracefully accepted their awards. I could not help thinking how brave they were going up there and talking to the masses of bloggers who were sat sipping their Champagne.

Britmums had covered every base. Where you have Champagne and wine...You obviously need big muscly men with not all that much on to fill your glass each time it mistakenly gets drunk. These men were known as the Wine Buffs....Looking at them you can see how they got that name, with their rippling biceps and perfectly formed 6 packs, oh and those little pants...They certainly were buff.

 You know that they are very special when you show your other half a photo of them and he says 'WOW'!

We were lucky enough to meet some great people and bloggers, and ended up heading out for dinner with everyone. Upon returning to the hotel, Bex and I stayed up for hours chatting about anything and everything. It was like being a child again and having your best friend around for a sleep over. Blogging has introduced me to some amazing friends, who started out as nothing more than a Twitter avatar on my computer, and progressed into a real life friendship.

With a few hours sleep under our belts and no real hangover to speak of, it was back to Britmums for our first full day of seminars. Vikki from Love From Mummy and Angela from Mum of Three Boys joined us at the hotel so we could all ride together for the short taxi ride to the Brewery. 

I felt so much more confident on our second day, armed with my iPad and many a business cards, I was determined to learn plenty and mingle with as many people as possible. I handed out my cards to everyone and anyone. I spoke to as many people as I could before we were beckoned into the first seminar of the day.

The morning started with a great keynote from Sarah Brown, and I was impressed to know that even she was caught up in the addicting world of Twitter. Sarah was funny and witty and while she was talking had the whole rooms attention on her.

The keynote was followed by Two Beginning Blogging Sessions. We were told all about the laws relevant to blogging and how we must always speak honestly. When reviewing a item you must stick to the facts, by going off on a tangent you risk de-faming a company and/or brand. This can lead to not so great legal proceedings being filed against you. It was not all doom and gloom though and topics soon moved along to Search Engine Optimization, which can really help drive in traffic to your blog. I intend to look into this further when both the boy's in my life give me 5 minutes...

After the double session we did take the time to mingle further with the brands. It was so nice to talk to people about how they worked with bloggers and share details on how this could be a possibility. Lego had a very steady queue of people lining up for their turn to decorate a cake, the cake with the most creativity was to win!

I of course had a little dabble in decorating my cake, but it was no winner. Unfortunately I am not a huge icing fan, so I was pretty stingy with all of the decorations.

I attended a session entitled 'Sod The Stat's' and for me this really stood out. I have to admit that I do religiously check how many hits my site has, on a rather regular basis. However I know I am not alone in this. I think you can blog for happiness and also take a unhealthy interest in the numbers that come along with it. Some truly inspirational women spoke out in this session, I sat their with my heart on my sleeve listening to their stories. Their reasons for blogging were completely unique, and edged on a more tragic note to my own.

I really felt for these women who had the heartache of losing a child, but found the strength to reach out and share their journey with people around them, helping others who were going through the same things they had. 

Sara at Walking with angels really touched me. I highly recommend you check out her blog and follow her inspiring story.

You truly can blog for happiness and care about your stats, and you can blog for happiness and sod the stats. It is a personal that each and every blogger has to make.

I like stats and I love comments. They are feedback for the work I have put in and make me feel valued. I don't get emotional if for some reason I don't get comments but it is always great to know that someone has taken the time to read what you have written. I blog for Leo, and I blog for me. Time is so precious and before you know it, years have rolled by. I love knowing that in my little corner of cyber space, time is frozen. I can go back in time to when Leo was a newborn and re-live those moments that made me smile, or even cry.

This session almost had tears falling from my eyes, but I pulled myself together and told myself very sternly that I was not about to cry. No way was I about to do that. 

The most amazing part of the conference for me was 'The Bloggers Keynote' - Some truly heartfelt, funny and emotional posts were read out. The impact of the post multiplied by x1000 with the post's author reading it as it was meant to be read. 

 Hayley from Downs Side Up, read her post 'What to Say When a Baby is Born with Down's Syndrome'. A post that demonstrated the raw emotion and love that had been poured into it. Watching Hayley up on that stage reciting her heartfelt words, I found the tears balling up in my eyes and sliding down my cheeks. I had no control over my feelings and as soon as Hayley said 'In summary, the birth of any of your children should not be by far and away the very worst day of your life.' I was a blubbering mess. I could not contain myself any longer, I felt the need to run up onto the stage and just give Hayley the biggest hug. She was amazing.

Ministry of Mum was up next, and this time around instead of tears just falling from my eyes, I could not contain the giggles that were relentlessly bestowed on me from her opening line. A post that was just so funny and true that even when her children found Mummy and Daddy in a very compromising position. Ministry of Mum kept her charm and audacity.

These Two posts for me showed how dynamic and unique each blog can be. It showed that one minute the whole room can be crying and in the next instance, laughing like there had been no tears there 5 minutes before. That is just amazing. 

Britmums has been the most amazing event. I have learnt so much and met some incredible people. Now I need to go back through those all important notes and implement my lessons.

I would like to thank my sponsor - Kathleen at Slugs & Snails for all of her support in making sure I attended Britmums. Without Kat and her generosity I would not have been in attendance.

Keep your eye's pealed for Kat's latest Slugs & Snails designs. They are fresh,exciting and original and I personally cannot wait to see them. As soon as more details are provided, I cannot wait to share all Kat's creativity with you. **Watch this space**

You can follow Slugs & Snails on Twitter at Slugsandsnails0

Thanks again Kat!


Leo Turns One

Today my beautiful little boy turned One year old.

This for me is such a big deal, not only does it mark Leo's very first year but it also represents my very first year as a Mummy. I love to plan birthday's and make a real effort, and yes there may have been times where I went a little over the top, but I wanted Leo's very first birthday to be a memorable occasion. I wanted Leo to look back and think 'Wow, they did this right from the very start!'

So my birthday planning began many weeks ago. My thoughts turned to cake...I thought cake and I even dreamt cake, but I was stuck. I could not afford to buy a fancy cake from those fancy bakers and the supermarket cake's were not what I had in mind. Many people told me to bake one myself but I could not even fathom the idea, just in case I created a charcoal mess. However I did raise to the occasion and my very first attempt at a birthday cake was a success!

The past few days have been incredibly busy while I made the final preparations for Leo's big day. I baked a Vanilla Sponge Cake in the shape of a number One and smiled a satisfied smile when I saw that my attempt looked...and even tasted like it was supposed to. There were a few icing disasters but I was so proud to have made my little man's very first birthday cake.

I went to sleep last night like a child at Christmas, knowing that when Leo woke up he would find the living room full of balloons and birthday banners, and of course presents all for him!

Leo awoke early and I took that as my cue to take my birthday boy downstairs and smother him in happy birthday hugs. Leo looked around the room at all the balloons and looked completely bewildered, and just kept staring at the alien objects that were completely out of the ordinary. 

He soon discovered the balloons and had a wail of a time tapping them all with his hand, they bounced from wall to wall and had Leo speed crawling to keep up with them. I was hoping that he would soon find the presents and start ripping the wrapping paper off each and every package. However Leo decided that he was not interested in the presents and when asked if he would like to open one, and handed a brightly coloured parcel, he shook his head from side to side in a matter of fact 'No' gesture. 

It soon felt like my birthday, I started to open presents in the hope he would gain interest. I slowly peeled one piece of paper back before offering it to him, where I was again met with his shake of the head. Inside Leo's packages were many special treats, he had Waybuloo's and books. He even had some bath toy's. The best gift of all was a Smart Trike that we could not wait to use. 

With all the excitement of the morning, opening presents and many a card it was soon time for the birthday boy's lunch. We fed him at lightening speed and lay him down for a well deserved nap before preparing ourselves for a leisurely walk into town. 

Leo squealed with delight as we placed him into his new trike and we wheeled him into town. Each little sway and jiggle with the steering made him squeal with laughter. He loved the ride and made it no secret that he was having a great time.

We walked to the river and spent some time at the park, where Leo swung away in a swing smiling as he went backwards and forwards. He spent so much of his birthday smiling, and above all else happy.

We had many visits from excited family members who could not believe that a year had passed already. That the Leo who was once so little was now cruising around and crawling at lightning speed. They felt just like I did. 

With Leo's birthday coming to a close and bedtime drawing near we decided that it was time to light Leo's cake and wish him a happy birthday. The cake was a hit and I was incredibly proud to have made his cake from scratch. Of course I did worry that it would not taste as good as I hoped, but when the time came to have a little bite, I was even more impressed with myself. It tasted....Dare I say it? Great!

Leo's cake was covered in fountains and even had a special candle that un-wound and sang happy birthday. I was truly worried that his special cake may actually take off and hit the kitchen ceiling! However when the sparkles dazzled off Leo's very first birthday cake, he stared mesmerized. Transfixed on this special moment that was all for him. 

I did start to wonder if any other One year old's out there had to worry about their cake flying off to the high heavens before you even had chance to sing happy birthday!?

Leo has had a brilliant day and has truly been spoilt rotten, just as he should be. His birthday marks his very first year of life and my amazing first year of being a Mummy. It has been lovely watching Leo enjoy his special day and I would like to thank you all for your birthday wishes and kind words. 

Is it just me who feels that this first birthday is a little bitter sweet? It means that Leo is not a little baby any more. He is actually a number... One years old. It means that he is well on his way into toddler hood and in this next year he will become a child, a little boy who runs and talks. 

How did you feel on your little one's first birthday?

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Happy First Birthday Leo!

Dear bright eyed boy,

Today you turn One year's old. One whole year old...

I keep saying it over and over in my head, trying to make sense of how quickly the time has gone.

The reality of it all, is that it has all gone far too quickly...

When did it happen Leo? When did you decide to suddenly get so big and grow up?  I seem to have awoken this morning and found a toddler in my newborn baby boy's place.

A year seems to have come around so very fast, and I don't think I am ready to have a One year old just yet. Watching you grow day by day, month by month, has shown me just how much you can change and how quickly you learn new things in the blink of an eye.

It does not seem Five minutes since you turned our lives upside down, and arrived in your little blue bundle. You arrived with your 10 perfect fingers and your 10 perfect toes, all of you just perfect and complete. Your little button nose and your dazzling blue eyes added the finishing touches of beauty and charm to one cheeky baby boy.

You changed every ones lives in that one instance, in the most amazing topsy turvey way.

You changed us all for the better.

Now a year down the line, you have learnt many ways of the world but also have much more to learn. Your first year of life has taught you how to love, laugh and cry. You have learnt other lessons of course, I only have to look at you to know this. You can move all by yourself and a year ago today you were just a baby in my arms, struggling to keep your little sleepy eyes open after making your journey into the world.

On the day you were born Leo, I was supposed to be at work. Calling in sick was the only thing I could do, as you were not planning on waiting around and I don't think that would have gone down incredibly well in the office. You were adamant you were coming out and meeting Daddy and I on that very day. Nothing else would do, and the determination in you was apparent even then. God...I wonder where you get that from!?

You were born at 12:56 in the water, just as I had planned, my precious little water baby. This is my proudest moment, holding you taking in every single detail, knowing I had played a part in creating you. You were everything I thought and dreamt about for 9 months, wondering who this little person was, growing safely tucked away in my tummy. Every little kick you gave me was special, and I used to stay up late with my hand on my baby bump, just so I could feel your kicks.

Your arrival and every day after that have just made my dreams for your future even more magical. I see you going on to achieve so much and if your first year in life is anything to go by, you are going to take year Two by storm, and every year after that too!

I stand by your cot watching you sleep soundly, tucked up dreaming dreams that only you can dream, happy dreams...exciting dreams. Dreaming about the magic that the world holds for you and the next adventure that we will both take off on next. Day by day you are becoming more you, but you still need me to hold your hand and be your Mummy.

Now here we are, a whole 12 months into our journey together, I look at you and I can see it is you, the same little baby boy we brought home from hospital...But you are so grown up now, so different. You are no longer a little fragile baby and you don't need me in the same ways you used to, you want to go on grown up adventures and see the world wonders, you do not want to sit around as you would much rather be off exploring on your new found feet.

You are growing up, and I love watching every single second of your life adventure.

I am scared to blink, just in case I wake up tomorrow and you are turning Two! Please Leo, just slow down and stop growing up on me at such an incredible pace.

Happy Birthday Baby Boy!

Today you will be spoilt rotten, there is an scrumptious Birthday Cake and presents galore. Today is all about you. So you best hurry up and wake up as I am sat here waiting for you to come down stairs and see how amazing everything looks!

Enjoy your big day beautiful boy, and we will make it one to remember.

Happy Birthday Leo!

We all love you to the Moon and back again.

Mummy & Daddy


Tuesday 26 June 2012

Way Back, When

A year ago to this very day on Sunday the 26th June 2011, the sun was shining so very bright in the sky and I was 38 weeks plus 6 days pregnant. The weather was lovely for everyone else but I was not in a position to be able to enjoy it. In fact the sun was no friend of mine, nor my very swollen ankles and blooming, ready to pop at any moment bump.

Looking out of the window I could see that it was a lovely day, and had it been any other day I would have been out there enjoying it too. 

However this was not just any other day.

I had been having twinges way down low in my tummy since Friday, but I put it down to a dodgy tummy and  not for one moment did I even consider I could be in the early stages of labour. That never crossed my mind for a moment. Not even when I had a show. I kept calm and did not worry and my first instinct was to Google what a show actually was and was soon sure that is what I had experienced.

I decided to call the maternity triage who told me 'It sounds to me like you are in the early stages of labour, but don't worry you will probably have days ahead of you yet. Stay at home as long as possible and hopefully we will see you soon'.

Having been told I was in the early stages of labour, I beamed from ear to ear and hoped that when bean finally did decide to grace us with his presents...My ankles would reduce back to their pre-pregnancy state and I would be able to once again shower myself in sunshine.

Until that moment though, I was adamant that I was staying put in the comfort of my room. I drew the curtains hiding away from the rays that made me feel so uncomfortable, and that was how I planned to spend the rest of the day until the sun finally relented and said goodnight. 

Luke of course had other plans...

He came in and turned my plans on their head. He turned off the DVD that I was just settling down to watch and marched me out to the car, where he announced that we were off to have a walk around a derelict cinema that was under refurbishment, before I even had chance to tell him that I was in the early stages of labour.

Even when I did manage to tell him exactly what the triage had said, he did not believe me...Nope he did not believe a word. So I was marched up and down steep stair cases and even paraded around Tesco where my only objective was to purchase a mass array of ice lollies. 

After our little adventure all over town, Luke returned me to the confinement of home and even left me while he went over to his Mother's for the afternoon, and then well on into the evening. This was the extent of him not believing I was actually starting to go into labour. Luke always thought I would go over due, so all of this happening one whole week early... Seemed to make Luke very sceptical.

I spent the evening out in the garden with my family, I could not sit down and I was pacing around the garden when Luke finally arrived home. I was not aware that I was having contractions but this uncomfortable wave in my tummy kept returning. It was only when my Mum told me she was pretty sure that I was experiencing contractions that it even occurred to me.

Around 11pm everyone else retreated into the house, but I just wanted to stay outside in the cool breeze that was brushing all over me. I did attempt sleep that night and try I did, but sleep never did come because I could not lie down. The only comfortable places I could find, were standing on my feet and sitting on the loo. 

I spent the whole night combining my Two comfortable places while Luke slept like a baby. After a long night pacing the halls and wishing time to go faster so morning would come sooner, and Luke would be awake again. 

Morning finally arrived and it was a new day... 

It was June 27th 2011 and I had gone through the night on paracetamol and ice lollies, but today was the day that my little man and I would meet for the very first time.

A year makes so much difference, and today instead of scorching heat we had Grey cloud and instead of preparing for labour, I am making the final preparations for my beautiful boy's very first Birthday.

Sunday 24 June 2012

Plum Baby Cookery School

When you have a child every day brings a new set of adventures. It could be those first steps or that magical first word, or it could even be the very first time your baby has solid food. 

Weaning is a adventure in a whole different league to anything else baby will ever discover. All those new tastes and fusions just awaiting to be discovered by their developing taste buds. Right from the start I have been very particular about what Leo eats, and my rule of thumb is that if it is not something I would eat...Then why should Leo?

We started off cooking up Leo's food up, he had Carrot and Apple, Sweet Potato, Swede and anything else that would be particularly tasty, that I could get my hands on to cook up for him. We took it slowly and let Leo guide us with what he wanted and did not introduce more than one food at any time, just so we could keep an eye on how he reacted to the new tastes.

When Leo got to 6 months old and he was able to try meat for the first time, that is when our home cooking seemed to go down hill. I could not get the consistency right when blending the meat, and instead of lapping up the new tastes that I thought he would love, Leo would refuse to eat it. Trying it myself it was soon clear why he would not eat it, and if someone presented me with such mush I would send it straight back to the chef!

I took to the super markets on the hunt for a tantalising meal that would tickle Leo's taste buds in all the right places, and after reading the back of many a jar and putting it back, I came across Plum Baby. Leo's meal that night was Mint Pea and Lamb puree which he absolutely loved. I tasted it too and boy did it taste good.

You may be aware that Plum Baby has recently launched a new range of stage 3 meals and very appropriately called them the 'Taste Adventures'. The yummy new dishes are based on world cuisine, providing baby with a totally organic yet toe curlingly scrumptious meal. 

What's on the Plum Baby Menu?
- Sweet Cape Curry with Beef
- Chickpea and Chicken Tagine
- Mediterranean Paella and Salmon
- Aubergine and Lamb Moussaka

These are all things that I would personally eat myself, and the aim of the game is to show parent's that weaning is the greatest adventure. If you can introduce good wholesome food at a young age, then there is much less chance of them falling off the rails further down the line.

Plum Baby has been a big part of Leo's weaning adventure thus far, so when we were invited to the Plum Cookery School to take part in a cookery lesson with children's food expert Beverley Glock, the author of the successful book 500 Baby and Toddler Foods. There was even the chance to become One of the stars in Plum’s brand new weaning videos. The videos will be a guide to help parents across the country with any weaning worries that they may have.

Plum has teamed up with Celebrity chef, Rachel Allen who will be on hand to give all of her recipe suggestions, answer any cooking-related questions and tell of her very own personal experience about weaning her little ones. Rachel will be working closely with Beverley Glock and together they will work with Mummy's to help create the next range of Plum recipes.

 The Plum Cookery School is even being run out of Beverley's very own kitchen! 

We travelled to Prince Risborough, where we were warmly greeted and welcomed into the cookery school. There was a cup of tea awaiting our arrival and the most yummy fruit muffins were laid out on the table, but they were not just any muffins. These muffins even incorporated some of the Plum Baby fruit purees. Clever Beverley had also reduced the amount of butter from 75g to 25g so we did not feel quite so guilty about indulging in 2...3...or the entire plate!

Plum Baby opened up their cookery school doors to 5 very very privileged parents and babies (myself and Leo included!) so we could learn all about the weaning journey, take part in recipe development classes and even have ample opportunity to speak to the people in the know with any questions we may have.

The aim of the cookery school is to show parent's that weaning does not have to be a run of the mill affair. It can be exciting.

So while myself and Becky - Mummy AdventureAngela - Mum of Three Boys, Lilinha - Lilinha Angel's World donned our plum baby aprons the babies were being watched by the careful eye of Two nannies. They later got to taste-test a range of the new 'Taste Adventure' recipes.

Once our hair was tied back and the food had been chopped and diced we were ready to step into Beverley's beautiful kitchen. There were Two very yummy recipes on the menu for lunchtime and the first one was a re-creation of the delicious Beef Cape Sweet Curry. This tasty curry has sweet ascents of mango and raisins to provide sweet flavours and multiple textures, that are ideal for a baby...and even us!

In fact Beverley has re-created the Sweet Cape Curry with Beef before... and even went as far to serve it to her dinner guests. The curry went down a storm and it was only at the end after the meal had been devoured, that they were informed that they had in fact eaten baby food. 

Second on the menu was a Maltese recipe that Angela had picked up from her Father. It is a rice dish like no other that I have ever tasted. Ross fil-forn is a traditional Maltese dish, and after the rice has been boiled it is placed in the oven to bake. It is then combined with baked mince, eggs and rice, and served with Parmesan Cheese.

The babies were soon in the kitchen and munching on all the Plum Baby snacks that they could sink their few little teeth into. Once the cooking was completed and the fragrant herbs and spices were filling up the kitchen, we all dished up a plate and sat out in Beverley's beautiful garden. The sun was shining high in the sky and it set the perfect setting for a chat all about the food and products.

 It was so lovely to see everyone at Plum Baby so excited and passionate about their products and what they do. You know a product is great when a company are excited about what they are doing and how they are doing it! 

So what did I learn?

The day was incredibly informative but in the best possible way. It was fun from start to finish. I have taken away so much from my time in the kitchen with Beverley and the Plum Baby team. Weaning does not have to be a daunting time for you or for baby. 

Make sure that everything you feed your little one is tasty. Make it a adventure, just because they are little it does not mean that they do not want something full of flavour and exciting! 

My biggest lesson of the day is something that I would never ever have considered, and you may even think I am losing my marbles...But make sure to wash your eggs before you use them. Why? Well if you ever do look at your eggs when you take them out of the box, and you witness lots of White speckles? Well...That's Chicken  poo and a simple rinse under the tap makes all the difference.

Happy Cooking!

The Kings Cross Hotel

I would like to take you on a little journey, a little journey to the hustle and bustle of London.

You will be staying at the not so chic Kings Cross Hotel and as soon as you step through those very narrow doors, you will wish that you had not.

I write this from the confinement of room Four, our second room on our second night stay.

Arriving at the Kings cross Hotel was not a horror moment...but we were in for a few shocks!

The corridors are narrow and the rooms could be compared to that of Harry Potter's cupboard under the stairs... Although it has to be said, I think he has much more space.

The rooms are furnished with dust and grime and if you are especially lucky you will have a little rodent friend. No this was not in the room description.

I am all for boutique style, in fact I love it. I have stayed at some great hotels but unfortunately I will not be adding the Kings Cross hotel to my top ten visits of all time. Not even with the highly innovative flowers that have been bulked out with feather dusters...deliberate or lazy cleaners?

Speaking of lazy cleaners with feather dusters, instead of just using them as decoration maybe they should use them on the surfaces around the room?

I can look past the fact the room was pokey small, and I can accept that we had a communal bathroom... And shower, it was all forgotten when I found the tea, coffee and a tin of green peas, and it has to be said that the beds were not too uncomfortable.

The first night was everything I expected of a budget hotel, but on the second night while following Twitter and minding my own business, I suddenly saw a rather large shadow dart behind the sink....The flick of a long tail and a shake of large ratty ears was our furry room mate saying hello.

The cheeky rat darted backwards and forwards making his presence known, Becky at was soon up on the bed shining her phone light while I strategically kneeled on the floor trying to locate our furry friend... A unwanted dweller who was not even paying towards the rather steep room rate!

So of course a complaint was filed, and the manger on duty came up with a great plan to get rid of the rat... I would like to say that he called an exterminator but that would be bending the truth. No he had a much more imaginative idea... His plan was to Sellotape down the carpet by the sink where the rat was making his entrance into our oh so glamourous room.

Of course this was not good enough in our eyes and the cheesy smile that spread all over the managers face was not entertaining us either.

The fact that the hotel has a rat sneaking up through the floor boards is not the greatest reason to stay is it?

I let him know that maybe a exterminator would be a better option?

The agreed solution was a brand new room, so here we are taking in the new sights and sounds...Only now we are right by the reception, and our personal details have been taken directly off the booking forms... And used to find us on Facebook. I find this highly un-professional and rather scary, not to mention a complete and utter violation of the Data Protection act.

The manager on duty even  took it one step further and sent me a direct mail to my inbox. I had no contact with said hotel manager over Facebook but below is his contact attempt to me. I have taken out his name (just to respect his privacy! You he did not...)

It is safe to say that I will writing a very well informed trip advisor post and warning anyone and everyone... Not to stay at the Kings Cross Hotel... Unless you like big fat rats and creepy hotel managers!

Friday 22 June 2012

I'm off to Britmums 2012

Britmums 2012 is finally upon us, and tomorrow morning I am travelling to London to attend the biggest blogging conference of the year.

I will be absorbing great information at a number of blogging workshops and meeting so many amazing people behind the blogs that I have loved reading over the last year.

None of this would have been possible if it was not for my amazing sponsor. Kat at Slugs & Snails has sent this small town girl off to the big city to mingle with the very best of the blogging world. A massive thank you to Kat!

I cannot wait to tell you all about my exciting trip to the capital. There of course will be plenty for me to share with you upon my return.

I hope everyone has a great weekend and if you have not yet checked out my great sponsor, then you really should. 

Slugs & Snails are the world's very first tights for boy's and come in the most imaginative designs!