Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Surviving emergency situations at home and on the go


Since becoming a mum, the health and wellbeing of my children has been my first and foremost priority. I've done a parent's first aid course {twice actually} and taught bub what to do in an emergency in the hope that we'll be better prepared should anything unforeseen ever happen. So far we've been lucky enough to survive most mishaps with bandaids, lolly water {paracetamol} or mummy kisses. I have it on good authority that mummy kisses can fix just about anything when it comes to small children, but Murphy's Law says there's bound to be a time they just won't cut it and I'm worried we'll be grossly unprepared. Having first aid knowledge is super important, but it's also best when it's backed up with the right equipment.

God forbid one of my kids ever break their arm or get bitten by a snake {yes we have them in our backyard} and I need to hold down the fort while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. I'd much rather be prepared for a crisis than find myself having to MacGyver up a splint and bandage on the fly {of course I still would, because they're my kids, but I'd rather use bandages than ripping up my top}. Which is why I was glad Survival Emergency Solutions recently contacted me asking if I'd like to try out one of their first aid kits.

When they first contacted me I went searching through our medicine cabinet to find our current first aid kit. I knew we had one, but I hadn't looked at it in what I thought was months, but turns out it's been a few years. I was shocked to find it only contained a handful of bandaids and a few expired bandages {who knew bandages even expired}. I was slightly horrified at the state of it given T's a first aid officer you'd think we'd be more aware of what first aid supplies are in this house. Evidently not. Despite all our first aid knowledge, we've clearly not been taking it as seriously as we should so I'm glad they contacted me as it's put everything into the forefront of my mind. I actually count myself really lucky that nothing bad has happened over the last few years while our kit has been in such a pitiful state.


Survival Emergency Solutions was founded in 1988 by twin brothers Jerry and Tim Tyrrell after the tragic cot death of a family member who was unable to be resuscitated. After the tragedy Jerry developed the Emergency First Aid Handbook which provides detailed essential steps in first aid for various emergency situations. The handbook won an Australian Design Award, has sold over 2 million copies since then and is now available in its fifth edition.

After developing such successful publications, the company then started developing first aid kits. Survival are now a leading provider of specialist first aid kits for the workplace, home, vehicle and outdoor activities. Their kits are extremely durable incorporating world class design features, an intelligent labeling system and the ability to add personal medical items such as asthma puffers, sunscreen etc. We've got the Family First Aid Bundle so we're prepared for accidents at home and when we're out and about.


SURVIVAL FAMILY FIRST AID BUNDLE


I chose the family first aid bundle because it combines the home first aid kit with two smaller handy first aid kits plus the emergency first aid handbook. It's designed with families in mind and is the most economical way to get a kit for the home and both cars. It's currently available for 40% off + you can use my exclusive survival first aid discount code {at the bottom of this post} to receive an extra 10% off.

Unlike traditional first aid kits that usually come in a box, Survival first aid kits are in durable, water resistant double stitched bags with stainless steel zips and individual compartments for each item. No fishing through a box looking for the right item. The first aid kits are labelled with a colour coding system, split into four sections: trauma, hygiene, information and utilities, making it even easier to locate the right item when needed, saving critical minutes during an emergency. In addition to this a lot of the labels have further explanation such as burns or abrasions, wound cleaning, shock, minor wounds, sprains etc so you can quickly identify which items you might need based on what type of injury you're dealing with. There's also a restock quantity shown so you know how many of each item should be in the kit at all times {individual items should be replaced as they're used either via the restock portal online, or by purchasing at your local chemist}.

Survival Home First Aid Kit




The home first aid kit is the most comprehensive Survival first aid kit available, containing over 160 items designed to treat minor everyday injuries through to managing major emergencies while waiting for medical help. They've thought of everything from items you'd expect to find like bandaids, bandages {numerous different types} and dressings {again multiple types} to items I've never had on hand before like splinter probes, hydro gel, shears and an emergency blanket. There's also a first aid in brief booklet, CPR kit and space to add personal items like sunscreen and medication. That's still only scratching the surface of what's included, a full list of inclusions can be found online. 

I love that Survival have managed to fit so many first aid supplies into such a compact {yet incredibly organised} bag. Even though it includes so much, it still only weighs 1.5kg so is portable and easily fits into our medicine cabinet. The best part is when it's folded up and put away nothing falls out of place.

Survival Handy First Aid Kit



The family first aid bundle also includes 2 handy first aid kits which are smaller kits designed to deal with minor injuries. It includes all the supplies needed to treat minor cuts and abrasions, splinters, sprains, snake bites and fractures, before seeking further medical treatment. At under 500g and only 18cm long it's small enough to fit into a nappy bag, backpack, pram or glove box making it perfect for day trips, camping, hiking or a car emergency kit. We've got one in both cars so I know we'll always have a first aid kit with us for trips to the beach, playdates and while running everyday errands just incase anything happens.



Free iFirstAid App and e-Handbook


iFirstAid is the Survival Emergency Solutions app making first aid information available at your fingertips no matter where you are. The free lite version covers essential first aid information including CPR instructions for adults, children and babies as well as step by step instructions for bleeding, burns, choking or poisoning. There's also a travel module with emergency contact numbers for over 200 different countries.

iFirstAid is available on both iOS and Android platforms. The full version of the app includes additional first aid modules as well as find my family, immunisation and emergency broadcast options. The full version {normally $9.99} is currently on sale for $0.99.




At the moment you can also download a free first aid emergency e-handbook online. The e-handbook is a 115 page PDF version of the popular First Aid Emergency Handbook {included in the Family First Aid Bundle and available for purchase separately}. The best way I can describe the handbook is it's basically like having a first aid course available in an easy to read, illustrated text book. There's so many emergency situations covered, including childbirth, which probably would of made me feel more at ease last year while I was preparing for a vbac and hoping to avoid an unplanned homebirth! If you've never done a first aid course, or even if you want a refresher or somewhere to refer to, I'd definitely recommend getting it for home {either the paper or e-book version}.


10% off survival first aid kits

Why choose Survival First Aid Kits?   


  • Compact & Lightweight design
  • Durable, well organised kits
  • Clearly labelled, colour coded compartments
  • CPR pouch including instructions
  • A kit for any occasion 
  • Emergency First Aid Handbook
  • Easy Restock Portal
  • FDA Approved
  • 30 Day Money Back Guarantee 

Finding Myself Young readers can use the exclusive discount code FMY10 to save 10% off the online price of any Survival Emergency Solutions products. Simply add the code at checkout.

Knowing we have the house and cars well stocked with easy to access, organised first aid supplies makes me feel much better prepared should something happen. We've actually already used the ice pack when I smashed my knee into the cot in the middle of the night. Such a mum injury right? She doesn't even sleep in the cot, it's just an aesthetically pleasing trip hazard at this point! Thankfully my knee didn't bruise too badly though because I got the ice pack onto it quickly. It's a good thing we had it too because we had no ice or frozen vegetables in the freezer {so I couldn't even MacGyver up an ice pack if I wanted to}.

How long has it been since you checked your first aid kit?

Toni x

* FMY10 discount code can be used for 10% off the online price of the entire range of Survival Emergency Solutions products. Discount code is valid until 30th June 2018.

Disclosure - I was sent a Family First Aid Bundle by Survival Emergency Solutions but I was not obligated to post a review. I have chosen to write this review as I believe Survival first aid kits are an essential product all homes should have and to give readers access to an exclusive survival first aid discount code. I did not receive payment for this post. All product photography has been used with permission. Prices quoted are valid upon publication, please check links to confirm current pricing.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Ultimate First Birthday Gift Guide

So my baby girl is turning one this week...

Everybody in my family thinks my kids are hard to buy for, apparently "they have everything" because our house resembles a toy shop. Yes, I agree, our house does somewhat resemble a toy shop {or a childcare centre} and we do have a lot of toys, buuuut there are always more toys. I guarantee I can always find things we don't have {that we obviously need}. If I had a bigger house and a never ending supply of money you can bet our house would be packed with way more toys than it is now. There's so many amazing toys out there, you just have to know where to look {or spend hours scrolling online shops while breastfeeding like me}. Thankfully you don't have to though, because I've done the hard work {aka research} for you and put together this awesome gift guide. I swear if toy scout was a job, I'd be all over it. If you have a one year old to buy for, or your own baby is about to turn one, this post is packed full of ideas, and they're all great for girls and boys.

Wooden vs plastic toys


I have to admit, when my big girl was a baby, our toy style could pretty much be described as plastic fantastic. I used to walk into all the department stores and be blinded by the bright colours, whizz bang sounds and cheap prices, I'd buy a new toy every time we went to the shops. I was so excited to finally have a baby I wanted e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. It's safe to say I quickly got over my fascination with all things noisy and plastic. The endless need for new batteries, creepy toys going off in the middle of the night and my house looking like shiny rainbow vomit had a lot to do with it. So began my obsession with wooden toys {around about when she was 18 months old}. 

Not only are wooden toys less likely to freak me out in the middle of the night, they're also inherently open ended providing numerous learning opportunities that evolve as your child grows. They inspire hours of pretend play, limited only by your child's imagination. They're also extremely durable and won't fade, crack or deteriorate as quickly as their plastic counterparts. All of these reasons are why I've only bought wooden toys for my girls for the past few years. The ones we've collected so far are such good quality I'm planning on keeping most of them for my future grandkids to play with.

But what do you get a one year old? They're too old for baby toys...


That's totally true, most one year olds are in that odd in between stage where they're too old for baby toys like teethers and blankies, but don't have the skills yet for things like puzzles and games. However, I like to think of toys that will suit them for the whole year not just what they can do right at this moment. Between 1-2yrs of age toddlers brains are developing rapidly and their physical, cognitive and language skills and abilities will also evolve exponentially.

During the next 12 months most toddlers will hit big physical milestones like learning to walk, but they'll also master less obvious ones like their pincer grip, through actions like grasping, stacking, transferring and sorting objects. They'll also start simple pretend play with their toys by mimicking actions you do with them. Not to mention their speech will start expanding and one of the best ways to facilitate this is through play.

I'm very passionate about learning through play so I've put together a list of some amazing good quality toys that will help develop these skills. And yes these are the actual presents she'll be getting for her birthday. The way she plays with each of them will continue to evolve as she gets older. Keep an eye out on Instagram to see them in action over the coming weeks and months.





HAPE ROLLER DERBY


The Hape roller derby is one toy that's been on my wish list for months. We hired it for her big sister when I was still pregnant and it was such a hit I've been wanting to buy it ever since. It's essentially a more toddler friendly version of a marble run using bigger balls. Kids put the balls into the top hole and watch them fall down the ball run, through the different holes, changing sides as they go and then finally dropping onto a bell at the bottom. It's such a simple toy, but it provides loads of tactile, visual and auditory stimulation. It's also a really easy way for younger kids to practice hand/eye co-ordination while placing the balls through the hole. I imagine her big sister will be keen to play with this one too as she's used it before, so I'm hoping it'll also help the girls practice turn taking.

I was so excited when The Creative Toy Shop added the roller derby to their Hape range, because I'd been having a bit of trouble tracking it down online. The Creative Toy Shop is an online toy store that stocks educational toys, activity guides and resources to facilitate play based learning for children of all abilities. I first met owner Brianna via her notes from a home educator Instagram account where she shares learning activities she does while homeschooling four young boys. She's now living my dream and running her own toy store alongside her teaching job. Everything available in her shop has been carefully selected to cater for children of all abilities, including those with special needs. You can follow The Creative Toy Shop on Facebook and Instagram.


EGG AND CUP GAME


This rainbow wooden egg and cup puzzle set is a great little matching game for toddlers. They can start to develop fine motor skills, hand/eye co-ordination, learn about balance and cause and effect by grasping the eggs and transferring them in and out of the cups. What I love most about this set is that it essentially grows with your child because it can be used to learn and reinforce different skills at different ages. As she gets older I'll also use it to teach her the different colours, for colour sorting, problem solving, counting and sequencing. I dare say her big sister will probably play with these a lot too.

The egg and cup game is made from renewable birch and hand painted using vegetable based paints. I got it from Works at Play, a Brisbane based toy store with a focus on affordable, sustainable, open ended toys, resources and play sets for at home and childcare centres. Owner Melissa is an Early Childhood Teacher passionate about sharing her knowledge of play resources and learning opportunities with others. Many of the toys and resources sold at Works at Play are Montessori or Waldorf inspired. You can follow Works at Play on Facebook and Instagram.


GRIMMS 7 RAINBOW FRIENDS



When it comes to wooden toys Grimms are pretty much up there with the best of the best. I'd even go as far as saying they're probably the world leaders in open ended toys. I think the best place to start your Grimms collection for a toddler is with the 7 rainbow friends in bowls. The peg dolls will help develop baby girl's pincer grip as she grabs them and transfers them in and out of the bowls. The bowls can also be stacked on their own. They're also great for introducing colour sorting and matching and eventually we'll use them to sequence the colours of the rainbow. As her imagination develops they'll also be fabulous for pretend play.

This set is made from sustainably sourced alder and maple wood and is hand finished with non-toxic, water based dyes. Each piece of Grimms has unique markings from the natural wood grain so no two pieces or sets will ever be exactly the same. I also got these from The Creative Toy Shop, they have an extensive range of Grimms toys with options for babies right through to older children.


RAINBOW SOUND BLOCKS





Wooden blocks provide children with a delightful tactile sensory experience and are a perfect first birthday gift for toddlers starting to explore grasping, stacking and sorting. These wooden rainbow sound blocks have added sensory stimulation with coloured panels and different beads within each block. Baby girl is obsessed with anything that makes sound so I know she's going to love shaking, banging, stacking and knocking them over to explore the different sounds they make. They're also a good size for kids who are still prone to mouthing {always use them under supervision with young children} and they pack away neatly into the included storage box when not in use.

Like a lot of the other items included in this list, wooden blocks appeal to a large range of ages so I know they're something she won't get bored of or grow out of quickly {I still love playing with wooden blocks at 33}. As she gets older I'll also use them for introducing colours and shapes and in treasure baskets. I also got these from Brianna at The Creative Toy Shop, which is my go to shop for sensory play items {and lots of other toys as you can tell}.


STACKING TREE



Baby girl loves stacking {and unstacking} everything at the moment so stacking toys were high on my list of items to find for her. Let's face it there are more than a few stacking towers around, but I fell in love with this wooden stacking tree instantly. Instead of stacking the rings vertically they stack horizontally on three different tiers. I love that it helps develop fine motor skills and being horizontal and tiered it'll make her work that little bit harder on her hand/eye coordination and problem solving. The rings can also be used to learn colours and introduce counting and one to one correspondence once she's a little older.

I found this awesome stacking tree from Mr Kipp & Little Jimmy a Ballarat based store that specialises in eco friendly wooden toys and bamboo dinnerware. Mr Kipp & Little Jimmy also offer Australia wide toy hire on a monthly basis with no minimum hire. You can follow Mr Kipp & Little Jimmy on Facebook and Instagram.


GEO TRIO STACKER





Still focusing on stacking, I also came across this cute geo trio stacker. I love that it combines colours, shapes, faces and sizes. Not only can the pieces be stacked, they can also be sorted by colour, shape and size. It's also really cool that it has the three dimensional version of each shape at the top. This stacker will be great for fine motor skills, hand/eye coordination, problem solving and spatial awareness. I'm pretty sure she'll enjoy chatting away to the face blocks too, she babbles away to anything with a face {pictures, toys, bells etc}.

The geo trio stacker is by Voilà, a wooden toy brand that craft colourful toys designed to stimulate and support physical and cognitive development. The tree stacker above is by Voilà as well. I got both of them from Mr Kipp & Little Jimmy where you'll find an extensive range of Voilà toys {we have quite a few toys from this brand}.


TREE TOP ADVENTURE ACTIVITY CENTRE



Activity centre cubes and tables are a pretty staple gift option for 1 year olds that you can't really go wrong with. Toddlers love to explore and play with anything and everything and activity centres give them a chance to play interactively with multiple items at once. Not only are they having fun putting items in and out, spinning, winding, opening and shutting, and pushing and pulling little pieces, they're also doing a great deal of learning. Each manoeuvre strengthens their hand muscles and assists fine motor skills as well as teaching cause and effect and problem solving.

We've had quite a few different activity cubes and tables over the years {I know I have a toy problem}, but I think this tree top adventure activity centre may be the best one I've ever seen, because it's a 3D tree! How cool is that?! The four quadrants that make up the tree include gliding tracks, bead runs, spinning beads and gears and flaps that open and close. What I also love about the tree design is that it's up off the ground so baby girl can play with it while standing {which is good because she's been walking since 10 months and prefers standing over sitting}. It also has enough room for both girls to play together. I'm sure her big sister won't be able to resist having a go, in fact I can just imagine all the pretend play that will happen here.

I found this amazing activity centre from Bubble and Bird, a Brisbane based online store specialising in wooden educational toys that help kids build, groove, imagine, learn, move and create. I've been shopping with Bubble and Bird since they first opened and they're also my go to store for my Indigo Jamm obsession. You can follow Bubble and Bird on Facebook and Instagram.


COLOUR AND SHAPE FLASH CARDS




These Two Little Ducklings Colour & Shape flash cards are a great way to introduce toddlers to colours and shapes. I specifically chose the colour & shape set as they're the easiest concepts for 1-2yr olds to learn. Although flash cards are a more structured learning resource, they work well for younger kids when used {under supervision} alongside other items. To start with I'll be using the colour cards in special colour themed treasure baskets {with toys and loose parts} to slowly introduce her to different colours. As she gets older I'll incorporate them into colour hunts {pick a flash card and go find items of that colour}, colour matching items to the cards, colour sorting and I'll also introduce the same activities with the shape cards.

The flash card set includes 25 cards, featuring primary and secondary colours and shapes, represented by everyday items children will be familiar with. They're printed on thick environmentally friendly 300GSM paper with rounded edges and come in a calico storage bag. I got them from Avidiva, an online store that stocks quality, stylish, natural, non-toxic gifts for mums and little ones. Avidiva stock a range of Two Little Ducklings flash cards including the high contrast cards {great for babies} and the alphabet, counting, fruits and vegetables and feelings and emotions cards that are all great for toddlers and preschoolers. You can follow Avidiva on Facebook and Instagram.


ONE YEAR OLD GIFT BOX



What's the best thing to get someone when you don't know what to get them? Easy, a gift box....  Gift boxes aren't just for adults, there's special toy gift boxes available for one year olds too. The Big Little Box Co is a Brisbane based online business specialising in curated and custom gift boxes for little ones from babies right through to 5 year olds. The best part is almost the entire range of products available are wooden educational toys designed to stimulate fine motor development. If ever there was a business right up my alley, this is certainly it! To compliment the amazing contents, the gift box itself is sturdy white gloss cardboard with a magnetic flap and your child's name is printed on top in vinyl in your choice of font and colour. The boxes themselves make great keepsake boxes after the gift giving is over.

The Big Little Box Co have a number of curated first birthday gift boxes, however because we have a couple of similar items already, I chose to create my own box. There's a huge range of toys and books available from The Big Little Box Co with prices starting at just a few dollars so you can put together a gift box for any budget. I chose all of our items based on where she's at developmentally and her current interests. She's starting to want to do simple puzzles so I chose the Hape colour and shape sorter and the wooden bee puzzle. The wooden lion is a screw puzzle to help work her fine motor skills. She also loves anything to do with music so I got an owl shaker. Finally we're collecting the "That's not my" Usborne touch and feel books so I chose That's not my duck to add to our collection. I can't wait to see her face when she opens up her box. I'm going to keep the box to use as a special baby memory box for her {and yes I'll be ordering a box for her big sister so she has one too}. You can follow The Big Little Box Co on Facebook and Instagram.


Still need other ideas?


Most of baby girl's gifts were deliberate out of the box choices as we have so many standard toddler toys already. If nothing on this list takes your fancy, other toys we already have that are great for toddlers are:

  • Shape sorters
  • Pounding peg toys
  • Bead maze runs
  • Push/pull toys
  • Sensory balls
  • Ride on toys
  • Walkers

Hopefully this list has given you plenty of gift ideas for the little ones in your life. To see all these toys in action and the different ways we play with them over the next few weeks, follow us on Instagram. Now I'm off to console myself over the fact my last baby is already turning one. Why do they have to grow up so fast?



Disclosure - Some of the products featured in this gift guide were gifted to us and others were purchased. I have purchased from all stores featured in the past and will continue to do so in the future. I have only included items I was going to/have bought for her. All stock images have been used with permission. To see these products in action over the coming weeks follow us on Instagram. Always supervise young children while playing with toys containing small parts.

*This post contains affiliate links

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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Personalised birth bunny from My Teddy

I have to admit I'm a terribly sentimental person. I love photos or objects that remind me of a special moment... and to be honest I can attach sentimental meaning to lots of things! I have quite a few boxes of sentimental things up in our spare room that I just can't let go of. So it'll come as no surprise then that I've always wanted something special to commemorate baby girl's birth. We got her sister a personalised teddy when she was a baby with all her birth details on it and one for our niece, so I've always been planning on getting one for baby girl too.

It's just taken me almost a year after her birth to organise it, whoops. Poor second child. Apparently all the stories about second children getting forgotten are true. I'm totally putting that down to sleep deprivation though and the fact I spend each day in a constant state of exhaustion. I only have enough energy to keep everyone alive most of the time, let alone organise non essential tasks. However I've finally managed to get hers organised and just scraped in before her first birthday thanks to My Teddy. Better late than never, right?

MY TEDDY PERSONALISED TEDDIES


My Teddy is a Queensland based online business that specialise in personalised plush teddies {and other animals}. Owners Toni & Chris started My Teddy from their lounge room back in 2004 and they've been bringing joy to kids and helping parents celebrate milestones ever since. The business has expanded in leaps and bounds over the last 14 years and they've now produced over 93000 personalised teddy bears including the birth bear we got for our niece a few years ago, so they were the logical choice for baby girl's teddy.

Ordering a personalised gift from My Teddy is super easy. All you have to do is choose which item you want {there's 96 plush toys and 30 teddy bears to choose from}, type in your personalised message and it gets sent off to your recipient. It's so simple and quick.



For baby girls gift I knew I wanted a plushie rather than a teddy. I know it seems a bit sacrilegious not ordering a teddy from My Teddy, but I knew that had so many other cute plush animals available and I didn't want a bear. Plushies are stuffed plush animals that can be personalised with embroidery on their belly or back. There are 96 different plushie options {many which are unisex}. All of them have a zip in the back meaning the stuffing pod is removable for easy cleaning {a must with small kids} and they can also be used as pyjama or storage bags if you don't want to use them as a stuffed toy.




For baby girl I chose the bunny cubbie. The bunny is perfect because baby girl was born just before Easter. It comes in grey, white or chocolate versions and you can get matching bunny snuggle blankets. I went with the single bunny in grey. I wanted a grey animal because her big sister has a grey elephant and their shared bedroom will be a grey, pink and white theme and my OCD meant I had to pick something that would blend in {the struggle is real}.




Once you've picked your 'teddy' you then choose which embroidery template you want sewn onto the front. I wanted hers to have birth details and be a similar design to her sisters so I went with the far right template on the second row. You can change the colours of the design to suit your own tastes. I went with dark pink, light pink and grey so it would blend in with the girls planned grey, pink and white theme.

I originally decided to get both girls special plush toys as keepsakes for their births {and just quietly it's a way of ensuring I always remember all their birth details}. I know in a few years time I'll still remember the date, but their weight and the time may become a bit hazy {my mum doesn't remember my exact birth details off the top of her head}. It's proven to be a good idea because when I was ordering the bunny I had to refer to a photo of the hospital card to remember her length. Looks like my memory is already going fuzzy! I also blame that on chronic sleep deprivation.

As you can see from the templates below there are heaps of options for other special occasions like first birthday and other birthdays, Easter or first Easter, christening and Christmas. Their great as an alternative to graduation bears to celebrate end of school years, or as a special teacher gift. They can also be embroidered with your own personal messages.


The entire ordering process took me about 10 minutes, but it could easily be done in under 5 minutes if you know exactly what you want. It took me a little longer because I had to look up her birth length {my bad} and I was looking after a cranky baby. Once you've ordered you get emailed a proof of your design the next day and you can send back revisions or approve the draft. 

Once I approved my draft {which I did late at night} the bunny was sent the next day and was at my house within 24hrs. It was super fast postage, which also happened last time I ordered from them a few years ago. I'm not 100% sure if that's influenced by the fact I'm also in QLD, but they definitely have one of the quickest turnaround times I've ever had from an online businesses. It's great if you ever need a last minute gift and only have a week or so to get something organised, which would normally rule out an online purchase.



The bunny I ordered looks just like these ones, infact the colours I chose are very similar to the one on the right. Her actual bunny is shown below {minus her name which has been purposefully blurred}.







It's safe to say she's pretty happy with her special bunny, and so am I {it's so soft I just want to rub my face on it... that's not weird at all}. I love that they're a gift they can enjoy while they're little, but they're also like a present for me too {an unofficial push present haha}. No doubt as the girls grow up we'll be getting rid of most of their plush toys, but the birth ones we'll be holding onto forever. 

Do you remember all your kids birth details?

Surely I can't be the only one who had to double check? *hopefully not*

Toni x



Disclosure - I was provided a My Teddy personalised teddy of my choice in exchange for this review. I was inquiring about ordering one when the opportunity arose to review one. All opinions expressed in this review are based on my experience with the ordering process when designing baby girl's bunny and the quality of the final product. I did not receive payment for this review.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Making rainbows with baby girl

As odd as this seems, I've actually found motherhood the second time around lonelier than when I became a first time mum. Which sounds a bit ridiculous, because obviously I have two little people to look after, so I'm never actually alone, ever. I do find myself in an entirely different situation to when I had bub though.

The first time around, by complete coincidence, a handful of my friends all had babies within 3 months of each other. Bub had a ready made group of friends to play with and I still had some of my closest friends to socialise with each week. Four years later however our original babies have grown up and are either at school, or starting school next year, so many of my friends have gone back to work. Mother's group catch ups have also been petering out for months and don't really happen at all anymore. I'm also the only one who had another baby last year.

All of that combined meant the last twelve month's have been somewhat of a weird limbo land where our social life has literally been a whirlwind of GP, hospital and specialist appointments and outside of that my only adult socialisation has been Facebook messenger. The only interaction baby girl's had with other children is with her big sister, or making eye contact with random kids at the shopping centre or in waiting rooms. It's a stark contrast to her sister's first year of life which involved rhyme time, aqua classes, sensory classes, play dates... hell I left the house more to socialise in her first year than I ever did before kids.

And then there's the mum guilt. With two kids to look after I feel like baby girl hasn't had anywhere near as much one on one attention as her sister had as a baby. I'm pretty certain that's an unavoidable casualty of having multiple children though. There's two of them and one of me, so consequently there's much less time to devote to playing with each of them individually, someone's bound to miss out at some point. There's a part of me that can't help feeling bad about it though.

Now that her big sister's at kindy 2 days a week and our doctors appointments for her allergies are winding down, I've finally got a small window of opportunity to focus solely on her. So I made a conscious decision to find a baby class I could take her to, for both her sake and mine. I knew I wanted something to do with music as she loves anything that makes noise, and the perfect place happened to come up in a Facebook suggested post. I normally find suggested posts an annoying distraction during my scrolling, but in this case it proved fruitful because I discovered Making Rainbows and went on an internet search to find out more.


Making Rainbows music, movement and sensory play


WHAT IS MAKING RAINBOWS?


Making Rainbows is a Brisbane based group music program which involves parents participating with their children singing, dancing, using various props and playing instruments. The aim of the program is to help families form a deeper bond with their child and to stimulate brain development and learning through music, movement and sensory experiences. Making Rainbows offer baby classes {birth to approximately 15mths} and mixed age classes for children under 5. Each class involves structured, development based activities that each child can do {with their parents} in their own way, depending on their abilities. All instruments and other props used are provided and there's enough of them for each individual child so everyone can join in together at the same time.

Making Rainbows was founded by Bernadette Clegg, a mum of 3 and special school teacher, in 2015. Studies have shown there's a strong relationship between music and brain development and that exposure to music from a very young age increases abilities in other areas. Bernadette has witnessed the benefits of using music as a learning tool for children first hand throughout her teaching career and Making Rainbows classes are her way to share her passion with other parents in a fun and relaxed setting. Although the program started with one single class, there's now 43 different classes across 18 Queensland locations {including Toowoomba which is opening this term}.

I've always been an avid believer of learning through play and making sure my kids have many fun learning opportunities throughout the day. For us that usually included a lot of sensory play, but since having 2 kids my ability to keep up with this has diminished, so I was really excited to find a class that has development based activities that include both sensory experiences and music only 10 minutes from my houseWe've been attending the baby classes for a few weeks now and they've definitely lived up to my expectations. I'm unable to record a video of our actual class for privacy reasons, but the video below gives you a better insight into what a class looks like.




On the surface Making Rainbows may look like just a group of mums and babies having fun moving along to music, which we are, however there's also an educational focus woven throughout every aspect of each class. The song choices, props used and movements made are all very deliberate to create a multi sensory experience conducive to physical, social, emotional and cognitive development. The classes provide a mixture of visual, auditory and tactile sensory experiences using a combination of bright colours, different textured items, fun music and musical instruments to stimulate or calm down the babies throughout each session.


Each week the babies get to socialise with other children similar in age and also learn new skills. They're developing fine and gross motor skills and learning to self regulate through song actions like shaking, banging, bouncing, grasping, clapping and waving. Obviously how much they respond, understand and can physically do is dependent on their age, but it's great to expose them to sensory experiences and concepts from a young age regardless. Also all the activities/movements are all easily adjusted to suit the babies abilities, from those who can't move right through to those sitting and even crazy ones like mine who start walking at 10mths.

Each class starts with the welcome to music song {from the video above} so that the babies have some continuity and {eventually} remember the same actions each week. The rest of the songs and props used throughout the class vary each week, which keeps it exciting for the babies and us mums. We've used a range of props and instruments including drums, shakers, soft toys, sensory bottles, puppets, posting boxes and a myriad of other colourful objects. Without a doubt baby girl's favourite is the collection of shakers she gets on her mat each class. I really love that the babies all calm down under the rainbow parachute at the end of the class with bubbles. I'm always surprised my little pocket rocket child, who walks non stop at home, will lay still under the parachute the whole time. Although I also don't blame her, I wouldn't mind laying down there myself.


Since we've been attending the classes I've noticed baby girl is a lot more aware of music and wanting to bop along whenever she hears it. She's always loved noise, but apart from singing row, row, row your boat while she rocks on my lap, I've probably been guilty of not spending enough time doing nursery rhymes or dancing with her. She actively dances to music now when she hears it, especially when she thinks nobodies watching, and she's got quite a good little bum dance happening {it's the cutest thing to watch}. I've also noticed that she continues practicing the skills she learns during each lesson throughout the week, like banging everything on every surface to see what noise things make and waving to everything, including the cat and the ceiling fan.

It's been great for her to spend time with other babies close to her age, and even though I was anxious about meeting up with a group of strangers, it's been good for me spending time with other mums too. It's amazing what leaving the house and spending time with other adults, in the flesh, can do for your mental health. Another added bonus is that our teacher also takes photos of us throughout the class {if you agree to it} which has given me a chance to capture precious memories of us together, which I adore, because I'm normally the one behind the camera. In addition to all the learning benefits, at the heart of Making Rainbows there's a real emphasis on building relationships and connections, both bonding with your own child and with the other mums {or dads} from the community.


We've loved our classes so much we've already signed up for next term. If you've got a little groover and shaker at home, or want an excuse to get out of the house and have some fun, enrolments for Term 2, which starts mid April, are open now {be quick as some classes are already filling fast}.

Do/did you enjoy dancing to music with your kids too?

Toni x



Disclosure - I was provided Making Rainbows classes in exchange for an honest review on my blog. However, I was in the process of enrolling for Making Rainbows classes when the opportunity for review arose and we've already enrolled for Term 2. All opinions expressed are based on our experience at the classes. I did not receive payment for this review.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Non chocolate Easter gift ideas for toddlers and preschoolers

Having had two kids now with dairy and soy allergies as small children, I understand how it can have a huge impact on Easter celebrations. Obviously the Easter bunny traditionally brings chocolate on Easter morning, but when you have a child with multiple allergies who can't eat chocolate that isn't an option. It doesn't mean they have to miss out on the fun of Easter though as the Easter bunny can be super resourceful these days tracking down lots of non chocolate gifts for little people *wink, wink*

While bub's outgrown her allergies now, this Easter baby girl will need something special for her present. Technically it's her second Easter, although the first one she was only 3 days old so she had no idea it was even happening. She probably still won't have a clue this year either, but she will notice her big sister getting things so I don't want to leave her out. I've spent the last few weeks scouring Instagram for some alternative Easter gifts and these are my favourite finds. The best part is, unlike chocolate which is gone as soon as you eat it, these gifts will all be used multiple times and be treasured for years not minutes.



EASTER CRAYONS




Crayons are always a hit with bub as she's obsessed with drawing anything and everything, all the time! I have so many pieces of artwork floating around my house it isn't funny. These cute little Easter crayons from Funny Little Things are the perfect non chocolate gift for any little budding artist. This set includes 2 Easter eggs, a carrot, bunny and duck and comes in a cute little calico bag. There's also an all egg crayon set available, both would be great for Easter egg hunts. To ensure crayons arrive before Easter orders must be placed by Monday March 19th.


EGG CHALK



Little artists will also love the early stART egg chalk from Micador. These are also great for younger children just starting to mark make as they can easily grasp the egg shape and draw with very little pressure. Also how cute that they come in a little egg carton! These are available as a 6 pack, but there's also a 24 pack if you want more or are looking for a combined gift.


BUNNY TIC TAC TOE GAME


This little wooden tic tac toe game from Bubble and Bird comes in a cute bunny rabbit drawstring bag that doubles as the game board. It's a great alternative Easter present for older children who understand how to play the game and also doubles as a little busy bag to take out to appointments or to take on play dates, to the grandparents house etc. Order by March 19th to guarantee delivery in time for Easter.


EGG CUP MATCHING GAME

If you love wooden toys as much as we do then you'll love this rainbow wooden egg and cup puzzle game from Works At Play. This is a great little game for toddlers right through to preschoolers as it can be used to develop different skills at different ages. Younger children can start to develop fine motor skills, hand/eye co-ordination, balance and learn cause and effect by grasping the eggs and transferring them into the cups. As children get older they can be used to learn colours, for colour sorting, counting and sequencing. Even better, they're great for play all year round, not just at Easter. To ensure arrival before Easter, pre-order by March 10th 2018 {however these are available all year round as well}.


EASTER EGG WOODEN STACKERS






Each year One Spotty Dog release a special Easter egg stacker and this year's version is amazing. There are 3 different colours available, however you can request custom colour combinations. Each stacker is 9 pieces with a spotty side, a striped side and a removable rainbow. These stackers are great for teaching balance, problem solving and developing fine motor skills as kids try to stack the pieces correctly. They're also great for open ended play as they can be stacked in a number of different ways and used in imaginary play as tunnels, bridges, rainbows etc. We're huge fans of One Spotty Dog stackers and own 4 different stackers including last year's Easter stacker. Orders for the egg stacker close on February 25th in order to ensure they'll arrive in time for Easter, use the code EGG to save 10% off {valid for egg stackers only}.


BUNNY STACKER




This gorgeous bunny stacker from Bubble and Bird is a great gift option for babies and toddlers. They'll develop fine motor skills grasping the pieces, stacking them on and pulling them off. The rattle piece is great for sensory development and learning cause and effect and there's even a hidden carrot to be found. Order before March 19th to guarantee delivery by Easter.


BUNNY WHEELIE




How cute is this handmade wooden bunny wheelie from Love Tildy? It reminds me of something my grandparents would of had as kids. I love how nostalgic wooden toys are and it doesn't get more nostalgic than natural push along toys. These wheelies are handmade in Australia and coated with a blend of beeswax and oils. Wheelies are made to order and require a 3 week turnaround so please order by the start of March to ensure delivery in time for Easter.


Disclosure - I did not receive anything for collating this list. I simply decided to create a list to help other allergy mums, knowing how hard it can be to find non chocolate gifts for Easter. All the businesses featured are ones I love and follow on Instagram and they were not notified about their inclusion until after the list was compiled. All product images are used with permission. These products are only available for Easter 2018, applicable order cut off dates have been included.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Same same, but different

Anyone who tells you the only thing that matters from a birth is a healthy baby has clearly never experienced a traumatic birth. My first birth was extremely traumatic. Instead of the calm, natural birth I'd dreamt of, I had the chance to labour ripped away from me with no notice thanks to an undiagnosed breech baby. I was whisked away for an emergency c-section amidst a flurry of fear, pumped full of drugs and felt like I had no control over the situation whatsoever. In the end I got a healthy baby, but I also got intense resentment, postnatal depression and anxiety which lasted for months. I felt like a failure as a mum from the very beginning and I had trouble bonding with my baby because of it.

So when I finally fell pregnant the second time I had huge fears of it happening again. I was offered an elective c-section from the very beginning, but there was no way I was ever going to agree to one. I wanted to have the natural birth I missed out on the first time. More than anything though I wanted the chance to at least try and achieve it. If something went wrong then I'd be fine with needing a c-section, I just wanted to be given the chance to attempt a vbac. Thankfully the hospital were very supportive of a vbac, I just had to dodge obstacles like gestational diabetes, a breech baby and the million and one other things that could derail my plan.

Apart from a minor blip where my little lady was lying transverse for a few weeks {just to freak me out}, I successfully avoided all the obstacles in my path. The final hurdle was to avoid needing induction. I honestly wasn't even worried about that because I was sure my baby girl was coming early this time. As the weeks went by though I started to get more nervous. It seems my lovely little ladies like to make me wait and wait and wait some more. Once I was officially overdue I felt like my dream of a vbac might be slipping away. In fact it got to the point I thought she was going to just hang out in there forever and I'd never go into labour at all {being overdue really messes with your head}.

40 weeks pregnant


We did have a few practice runs though with about 7 or so different periods of false labour. False labour is so much fun, its all the pain of real labour then after a few hours your body gives you the proverbial finger and says sorry just kidding, you wont be having a baby tonight. All pain, no gain. So much fun, not. Although her big sister put me through the same thing so I expected nothing less. After about the third time I stopped getting excited about having contractions and refused to even time them unless they went on for over an hour. I expected real labour to happen like the first time with a big pop and gushing of my waters. There's really no mistaking you're having a baby when that happens. Evidently this time was going to be different, I just didn't know it yet.

Early in the morning on Tuesday the 11th April I started having contractions, again. They were strong enough to keep me awake and by 4am I decided to call birthing suite. After hearing me breathing through some over the phone they told me to come in. So I called my mum and arranged for her to come watch bub, then went and told T we needed to go to hospital. He had no idea I'd been having contractions for hours while he was asleep because I hadn't bothered waking him. I'm considerate like that, and I honestly thought it would peter out as usual.

When we got to the hospital it was eerily quiet and calm. No screaming women in labour or queues of people waiting. We managed to skip triage and went straight to a birthing suite. I even scored a room with a birthing pool {not that I'd be allowed to use it}. It was going perfectly. Until it wasn't. My contractions started to fizzle out {as usual} and I had a panic attack thinking they'd send me for a c-section. I thought I'd totally blown my chance at a vbac.

Thankfully the midwives were amazing and instead sent me for a walk for an hour to see if the contractions would come back. So naturally we went across the road and had Hungry Jacks for breakfast because we were both starving by this point. My contractions slowed and were more like braxton hicks so after a few hours sitting around in triage we were sent home. I'd always feared being sent home, especially while having contractions, because we live an hour from the hospital and I was paranoid I'd give birth in the car. But, this time I was so happy, I felt like I'd dodged a bullet not being forced into a c-section.

I didn't have to wait long to visit my friends at the hospital again. The very next night at about 6pm I started getting contractions again. At least that's when I started paying attention to them and timing them thinking it might finally be the real deal. They kept intensifying and it got to the point where I couldn't talk through them. I actually had to stand and sway around in circles to get through them. After a few hours of that I called my mum again to come over. It was kind of surreal because even when she came over its like nobody in the room thought I was really in labour except me. It's probably my own fault because I have a high pain threshold, but I felt a bit like the girl who cried wolf trying to convince everyone it was actually real.

Even when we got to the hospital the midwife didn't believe me. She agreed I was having real contractions, but they weren't intense enough for me to be at the hospital so I'd probably be sent home. Her exact words "I don't think you'll be having a baby tonight". My response to that was something along the lines of fucked if I'm not, this baby IS coming out. Said completely metaphorically inside my head. I almost lost it. At nearly 5 days overdue after multiple cases of false labour I was done. If they sent me home I was staying there until my baby literally crawled out of my vagina on the lounge room floor. I literally started imagining being on the news because I'd had an unplanned home vbac and something had gone horribly wrong. Pregnancy hormones + the anxiety of a vbac + being almost a week overdue is a very potent combination.

I''m not sure if it was the stress of the situation, or my determination to prove the midwife wrong, but my contractions started ramping up instead of fizzling out. Hallelujah. After hearing me moaning through my contractions from the nurses station the midwife returned and decided that actually it was happening after-all. Suddenly I was getting a cannula and being moved to birth suite. Finally it was on like Donkey Kong and there was no turning back. I was having a baby!




Unfortunately I was having a baby very slowly. Despite consistent contractions 3 minutes apart from 10pm I spent hours in the birth suite pacing backwards and forwards, bouncing on a fitball and laying in bed pretending to sleep to pass time. Oh and peeing pretty much every half an hour the entire time. One of the things I was always intrigued by before having kids was whether or not you could/would be able to pee during labour. I honestly don't even remember if I did the first time around because everything happened so fast. but I can now categorically prove you can pee while in labour. And you can do it a lot! And it's super annoying because you have contractions the whole time. Thankgod for wireless monitors.

Anyway I digress...

After about 4 hours I had a VE to check if I was dilated and my cervix was still completely closed. So high and closed that they had trouble actually finding it. At one point I had the obstetrician, midwife and student midwife all at the end of my bed with the big torch light thing gazing deep into my nether regions all having a go trying to find it. Yep that was up there as one of the weirdest experiences of my life. You really do lose all sense of dignity while in labour. I'm just thankful they were all women. In reality they would see so many hoo-ha's every day it'd be a complete non event to them, but I certainly felt like some weird show and tell presentation. In the end it was decided I could have another 4 hours and they'd check again.

So I spent another four hours pacing, bouncing, rocking, swaying and peeing my way through contractions. And guess what T did? He fell asleep. Like all good birthing partners should, because clearly he was exhausted and had had such a long night sitting in a chair watching me go through so much pain. NOT BITTER ABOUT THAT AT ALL. I was debating whether to post a photo of him sleeping on Facebook so he could feel the wrath of my friends, buuuut that would kind of ruin the surprise of any birth announcement to follow, so I refrained. Still pissed about it though, just between you and me.

In the early hours of the morning {after T finished his beauty sleep} the obstetrician came back to check again and there was still no change. I thought for sure I'd be at least 1-3cm dilated by now. I mean hours and hours of contractions 3mins apart had to of been doing something. It's just cruel to go through all that and get nowhere. I wasn't worried though I thought ok so we'll move onto the cooks catheter and try and get things moving. Then she went to chat with her superior and delivered the blow. He said the best decision was to do an emergency c-section for failure to progress.

I was devastated. I immediately bawled my eyes out, but at the same time I didn't really fight it. I'd been awake for over 24hrs and in labour for 12 of those. I was exhausted and didn't really want to endure hours and hours of more contractions that could end up with the same result anyway. Maybe if I'd been labouring all day after a proper nights sleep instead of all night I might of had more energy and felt differently, but I was spent. I signed the consent forms amidst a stream of tears and then waited for them to come back and get me for surgery. For months leading up to this point I'd hoped for a vbac, but I always knew there was a chance I'd need a repeat c-section and I was ok with that. My tears were because I was petrified it would lead to postnatal depression again.

Being wheeled down the corridors to the operating theatre I was apprehensive, but it was different. Last birth I felt like I was being taken away because I was a failure before I'd even tried, but this time it was almost exciting. I was still clinging to some minute hope we'd get to theatre and I'd be magically dilated and push my baby out right then and there on the table, but if I didn't I still didn't feel like a failure. In an odd way it felt like a small victory. Things weren't playing out as I'd hoped, but I'd given it my best shot and I knew my body was ready to finally meet my baby. At that point it no longer bothered me how that happened, as long as it finally happened. I knew when I came out of that room I'd have my little girl.

The atmosphere in the room was so calm and organised, nothing like the fast paced chaos of my first emergency c-section. There was no rushing around, being pumped full of drugs and wondering what the hell was going on like last time. I requested they do another VE before they started the operation just incase there was a chance things were progressing {it'd been 2hrs since they last checked and my contractions had intensified, so I was hoping things may have changed}. As expected though there was still no change at all. Completely and utterly closed. This baby just did not want to come out, at least not the conventional way.

The anesthetist I had this time was so lovely and she took the time to explain everything she was doing. Everything felt so relaxed. The only time I was nervous was when she was trying to get the spinal in the right spot because the ob who was holding me in place said to me we're only allowed 2 attempts then you have to be put under. Umm I'm sorry why, why the hell would you tell me that at the exact moment in time I'm trying to grit my teeth through intense contractions and contort my body into the correct {highly uncomfortable} position for a big f@$* off needle to be inserted into my back? I'm petrified of needles as it is, I didn't need the added stress of thinking I was going to be unconscious for my baby's birth and miss it completely. Thankfully though the anesthetist was awesome and she got it in first time. I still remember the exact moment it worked because I started going numb and felt instant relief. It's kind of funny because first time around I was so scared of being paralysed and not being able to feel my legs, yet this time I was thinking thankgod and seeing it as a blessing. It helped that I knew my legs would just go tingly and warm instead of not being able to feel them at all.

During the operation I was speaking to the surgical nurse beside me about her grandkids and all sorts of things. It was like I was having a chat with old friends, not laying on an operating table being cut open. I honestly can't believe how vastly different both experiences were, even though they took place in exactly the same room.

Baby girl surprised them when they opened me up as she was posterior and her little face was waiting to greet them. Totally explains the excruciating contractions. She finally entered the world {screaming her lungs out} at 9:05am April 13th and they laid her on my chest. We both looked at each other and said wow she looks just like her sister. Like almost identical, except that she had brown eyes and brown hair. I had skin to skin with her until they took her away to recovery and it was just so magical and healing. I felt an instant connection with her. I felt like I already knew her. It probably helped that this time I got a baby that looks like me {her sister's blonde hair and blue eyes totally threw me when she was born}.



I really feel like this birth, even though it ultimately ended the same way as my first, was so very emotionally healing for me. After my first birth I spent months, years if I'm completely honest, trying to come to terms with what happened. Mourning the fact that I didn't get to experience a natural birth, feeling like a failure and feeling like less of a woman and a mum because of it. Thankfully 10 months on I still haven't had any of those feelings this time. If there's one thing I've learnt now I've given birth twice, it's that every birth is completely different, even when they end the same way. Also posterior labour really hurts.

Toni x

* for those interested, you can read about my first birth here.



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