Happy Halloween - Noah's First Halloween

So today's the day, it's Halloween and it's Noah's very first Halloween too! 

I remember this time last year I was heavily pregnant and I was hoping that I would go into labour so he would be a little Halloween baby and I could nickname him pumpkin. Fast forward a year and I've got that pumpkin I was asking for and doesn't he look cute? 

We haven't really made any plans as of yet. I think he is a little young for trick o treating yet but I can't wait to take him when he's older. We are probably going to go out for a walk, out for dinner and then visit family but we are just going to see where the day takes us!  

Have you made any Halloween plans with your little ones? 

National Cat Day - A babies best friend

Give your cat a cuddle because today is National cat day! 

This time last year I blogged about my two cats and how important I think it is to show and teach children how to respect and love animals from a young age. I was pregnant with Noah at the time I wrote that post and couldn't wait to start putting my sentiments into practice. 

I hoped that Noah would develop a great friendship with the cats and that they would accept him into our family. Fast forward a year and I couldn't of pictured it any better.

Noah and Teddy are becoming the best of friends. 

Ted is usually a very timid and cautious cat and although he completely trusts Nick and I he is still jumpy if you move too quickly or are too loud. With this in mind we thought a baby would terrify him but thankfully we were wrong.

Teddy is really interested in what Noah does and will walk up to him to see what he's doing. He seems to want to be near him and often sits beside him. He has even been spotted guarding Noah's bedroom door at night which we find very endearing. Ted is very patient and trusting with Noah and seems to understand that he is a baby.

Noah is as interested in Ted as Ted is in him. With Noah being so young you would expect him to be really rough and heavy handed with the cats but incredibly he's not. He's ever so gentle with them and pets them just as we do as adults. When he strokes them I tell him "be nice" "ahhh nice" and he giggles and smiles. He's never grabbed the cats or pulled their tails but he has attempted to crawl over them once or twice! 

It makes my heart melt seeing both baby and cat interact in such a loving way. I can't wait to watch their bond blossom and to see them grow up together. 

Do you have pets? How do your children behave with them? 

Introducing the new wooden toy range from ASDA

Wooden toys are all the rage at the moment and for good reason too. There are so many pro's when it comes to choosing them over their plastic competitors. 

They look fabulous, are usually great value for money and are very hard wearing too. The main advantage for me is that they are a type of toy that don't need all the buttons, lights or batteries and they really encourages your child to use their creativity and imagination more. In this day and age where everything is electronic and digitial this is invaluable for both children and parents.  

When we were contacted asking if we would like to review a couple of the toys from ASDA's new wooden toy range I was more than happy to accept. I then had the hard feat of deciding on which toys to go for. I would of probably gone for one of the fabulous wooden kitchens if Noah was a little older but I chose the Wooden Toy Car Transporter and the Wooden Food Crates as I thought they were more age appropriate for him at the moment.

Wooden Toy Transporter

This is such a lovely toy. Not only do you receive the wooden car transporter but three little removable cars too. It's like two toys for the price of one! Each part of the transporters trailer comes apart too which is also a nice feature. It's clearly well made and excellent quality and for it to be just £12 is an absolute bargain. 

Noah really likes to play with the cars but is a little young to fully understand how they work just yet. It's a toy that's going to grow with him and I can see him having many years of fun with it. Photo's really don't do this toy justice, it's almost too beautiful to play with. 


Wooden Food Crates-

Food based toys are my favourite and as soon as I spotted these on the website I just had to go for them. For just £10 you receive 2 separate food crates filled with wooden toys foods; bread, cheese, onion, apple, aubergine, mushroom, baguette and a tomato. All of which look good enough to eat and I know that because Noah has tried on many occasions! 

I am so glad I chose this set because Noah absolutely loves them! He will take all the foods out of the crates and then put them back in. He chews on them, passes them to me, throws them around. He's had so much fun with these already in the short amount of time that we have had them. 

All in all we are very impressed with ASDA's new range of wooden toys. Both toys are superb quality, beautifully crafted and are excellent value for money. I can see us buying many more toys from the range in the future! 

- We were sent these products for the purpose of this review. However all opinions are my own. 

Our home: The kitchen

It's been a while since I last updated you on the progress in our kitchen so I thought it was about time I blogged about it. The kitchen is probably the room in the house that has been transformed the most and I'm so happy with the way it's turned out. I had a vision in my head of how I wanted my dream kitchen to look and I've got it. 

Here is a visual update on our kitchen from start to finish- 

Designing your dream kitchen

This year we were lucky enough to be able to escape the renting rut and place our feet firmly on the property ladder by buying our first home. If you are a regular reader of your blog you will know that for the past 9 months we have been renovating the house and it's been such a long and tiring process. We still have the odd jobs to do but we are pretty much at that finish line now and as stressful and tiring as the whole experience has been it's so worth it and we are ever so grateful to be in this position.

One of the huge benefits of buying a house that needs a full renovation is that you can start from scratch and put your stamp on every little detail in the house. My partner let me take charge of decor and design as he admitted he didn't really have a clue (not that I did either) and he fully trusted me with it. 

My favourite room to design was the kitchen. 

When we moved into the house the kitchen was a total nightmare. The red tiles and dated cabinets hadn't been altered since the 1970's and everything was falling to pieces. One of the first jobs we did was to rip the kitchen out and start with a blank canvas.

Once I had that blank canvas the fun really began.

I knew that I wanted a kitchen that had a farmhouse and homely feel to it without it being too old fashioned. I'm a huge fan of cream and wood together so we chose cream shaker style cabinets with a wood effect work surface. I think this combination works the best for the style that I wanted to achieve.

What I really struggled with was deciding which tiles to go for as there were so many options. I liked the rustic looking tile but as so many more people preferred the glossy underground tiles I had to take their opinion on board. I had also noticed how on trend they were so that helped me make the decision too. I'm really glad that we went for them as I think they look perfect in the room and do give it more of a modern edge. We chose a wood effect tile for the floor and I think they finish the kitchen off perfectly.

Of course when all this was completed we then had an empty shell of a kitchen. When designing the kitchen we opted for some of our cabinets to be intergrated so we could have our washing machine and tumble dryer in the heart of the kitchen. We already had our matching kettle and toaster but needed to buy a new microwave as we had broke ours months ago. I don't know how we managed for so long without one as we've found ourselves using it everyday since it arrived.

Now the new kitchen has been fitted, decorated, tiled, floored and filled with our appliances and belongings it's finally completed and it feels fantastic.

- This is a PR collaboration. 

Why I chose to be a stay at home Mum

I never thought I would be a stay at home Mummy. 

I have always loved the idea of staying at home with my son but I also knew that money would be tight. I wanted to go back to work to bring in the extra income so we could have the treats, the days out and the holidays. 

That is what my head told me but my heart felt something else all together.

On maternity leave with every month that passed by I felt more and more anxious. The thought of leaving Noah whilst I went back to work was painful to me. Even though I was only going back to work part time and leaving Noah with his Nan it still didn't bring me much comfort. I still had that mothers guilt

Perhaps I would of felt a lot better about the situation if I was going back to a job that I liked but in honest truth I hated it. It was always a very unprofessional environment and at times nasty place to work. 

When I announced to my employer that I was pregnant nothing changed in my terms of job role in fact I felt like I was asked to do more. This I didn't mind as I did like to keep busy but I didn't appreciate being told to go up 6ft ladders at 7 months pregnant. When I mentioned that I wasn't happy about doing this as it was unsafe for myself and the baby they would make snide remarks and talk about me behind my back. You can imagine how that made me feel, especially with all the pregnancy hormones brewing up inside me. It's ridiculous because I wasn't asking to be treat special because I was pregnant I just wanted to be treat in a fair and safe way. 

At one point they were understaffed so I was over worked, not given adequate breaks, or a place to sit, my ankles swelled and I had dizzy spells. I went to the doctor and he took one look at me and signed me off work due to exhaustion. On my return to work they had the nerve to issue me a disciplinary and demoted me. This is just a few of the examples of the misconduct I experienced while I was pregnant, just the tip of the iceberg.  

I knew from the beginning that when I returned to work I only wanted to go back for three days a week. I had discussed this numerous times with the management, during pregnancy and throughout my maternity leave. They knew what days I could and could not work and It seemed like everything was agreed on so I went ahead and arranged Noah's childcare. 

Now lets fast forward an entire year. A couple of days before I was due to go back to work they called me in for a meeting. I assumed that it was just to clarify everything and to be given my rota but I was wrong. The management had gone back on everything that we had agreed and put me into work all the days I said I couldn't do. You can imagine my disbelief after a year of thinking this had all been agreed to. They led me to believe everything was fine and then decided to throw a spanner in the works just days before I was due back. 

They said they couldn't agree to my flexible working request because they were low staff which I don't think is actually a legal reason to decline. When I told them I couldn't work those days (just like I had been saying for the past year) they said the only thing they could offer me was the controversial 0 hour contract. These contracts are a nightmare which the government are actually trying to ban! It would basically mean that one week I may of been working three days and others I wouldn't be working at all. This just wouldn't work for us as a family for numerous reasons. Firstly we need to know how much money is coming in each month as we have a baby, bills, car and a new mortgage to pay for. Secondly Noah, the childminder and I all need structure and being told a day before that we are at work the next day just was not going to work. 

Taking all these factors on board I was left with no option but to quit. I feel like it just wasn't worth it. Personally I think they knew what they were doing. I don't think they wanted me to go back and wanted to push me into resigning which they have accomplished. 

To be frankly honest I don't really care because the weight that lifted from my shoulders on the day I quit was immense and I feel it's the best decision I could have made. The only regret I have is that I wish I had of taken this further because I feel like they have gotten away with every wrong that they did. But anyway I've said good bye to the only aspect of my life that caused me stress and upset and I feel like that chapter is now closed.

I've traded all that in for something priceless. I now get to spend all my days at home with my son. I am able to spend every morning, afternoon and evening with him. Playing games, reading books, cuddling up. I'm getting to see him reach all his milestones which I probably would of missed if I went back to work and it's incredible.

Not only that but I now have more time to spend on the things that I enjoy to do. I am able to dedicate more time to the blog, take part in more blogging opportunities and focus on what direction I want to take it in. I am cooking and baking more which is great because I feel like I am improving. There are also a dozen DIY projects around the house that I am tacking too.

I am sorry that I rambled on but I feel like this blog post was a sort of therapy for me. By writing and publishing the post I feel like I have got it off my chest and let it go and I feel fantastic. 

So yes, I am now a stay at home Mummy and I'm loving it!  

Review: Rascal Raccoon Grobag

As a first time Mummy I am always worrying about one thing or another when it comes to my baby and most of my worries seem to stem from bedtime. Is he warm enough? Is he cold? Is he hot? Has he kicked his covers off? Is he ok? Then when I go in to check on all these worries I then worry about waking him up too! There's one easy solution to eliminate most of these worries and that's by getting your hands on a Grobag! 

The Gro Company became a pioneering brand back in 2000 when they introduced the world to baby sleeping bags making sheets, bedding and blankets a thing of the past. Although Noah has used a sleeping bag since he was around 3 weeks old we had never actually invested in a Grobag and shamefully bought cheaper alternatives instead. With all this in mind you can understand my excitement when I was offered the chance to review a Grobag of our own. We were about to see what all the fuss was about.

I have to admit I was playing 'spot the postman' for a couple of days when I knew the Grobag was on it's way and it was like Christmas morning for me when it arrived. The Grobag was packaged in it's signature brown card carrier with all the vital temperature tips and a free room thermometer. 

We were sent the 2.5 tog Rascal Raccoon Grobag in a size 6-18 months and my initial thought on opening the package was simply "wow!" Having used other sleeping bag brands for the past 11 months I automatically noted how superior the quality of the Grobag is in comparison. The 100% woven cotton material is luxuriously soft and the fleece lining is heavenly. I have to say I am rather jealous of Noah and I echo the "they should make them in adult size" sentiment that I am continuously hearing! 

With Noah being 11 months old and half way through the 6-18 month sizing I was a little worried that we wouldn't have that much space to grow into but I didn't need to worry cause the sizing is extremely generous on both length and width. 

The Grobag is very easy to put on and remove which is always a plus when you have a wriggly worm of a son. It simply zips up the size and has poppers at the shoulders and underneath the arm. It literally takes seconds to put on and remove. 

I love the cute animal character design as it's bright, fun and a little quirky. Another plus when it comes to their designs is that they come in such a different array of colours, patterns and themes. No matter what your taste I can bet there is a Grobag for you. 

Most importantly Noah must of agreed with everything I have said because the first night wearing his Rascal Raccoon sleeping bag he slept as snug as a bug in a
rug Grobag! 

- We were sent this product for the purpose of this review. However all opinions are my own. 

WellVine: Your trusted health partner – through pregnancy and motherhood

WellVine launches free health Q&A service, connecting to you to real doctors for bespoke support

Pregnancy and motherhood are some of life’s most rewarding experiences. From when you first discover you are pregnant, to holding your baby for the first time, to watching your children grow into little toddlers and adults – the journey is full of ups…and downs.

Some of the ‘downs’ are particularly related to health issues and concerns, for you, for your children and for the rest of your family. But finding easy, convenient expert help from qualified, experienced health professionals can be a difficult task. Women we spoke to described long waits for doctor’s appointments; the lack of expert support when needed; health professionals who often lack compassion and kindness; difficulty in finding time in busy schedules to even go to the doctor…and the list goes on.  WellVine was built on a simple idea: Connecting people like you to vetted and experienced doctors online, giving you access to bespoke health support – anytime, anywhere. We are currently offering a free trial of the service on an invitation-only basis until 5th November 2014. We really connected with Jenna and felt the readers of Chic Geek Diary would value this service, so we wanted to invite you to visit WellVine to try it out for yourselves, for free!

The WellVine story = Your story
The WellVine concept came to life when our founder, Hina, now pregnant with her first baby found herself frustrated with the lack of ready access to expert pregnancy advice. She wanted access to real doctors and health experts – as and when she needed it. She heard similar stories from pregnant women and from mothers short on time and struggling with a number of health queries about themselves and their children. No, it’s not ok to wait three weeks for a GP appointment. Neither is it ok to rely on information found through online searches – often difficult to trust and often providing conflicting perspectives leaving you more confused than before. From the new mum like Sofia to the veteran mum like Joanne with three young children, they all told us that access to real experts – at their fingertips – would make their lives easier. So we launched WellVine. Read more about the WellVine story on our site.

How WellVine helps people like you
Stop googling. Start connecting to real experts! From pregnant women, to new mums like Sofia as well as experienced mothers like Joanne, we want to make access to personalised health support easier.
We are offering a free trial service until 5th November 2014. Visit www.wellvine.co.uk.

The WellVine expert network consists of experienced health professionals at your service. Our experts provide personalised responses to your health queries online at www.wellvine.co.uk. You can post your queries anonymously if you wish, or on our public forums. In either case, you are guaranteed to receive a bespoke response from a qualified health professional with the right expertise to support you.

We thoroughly vet our experts so you can have peace of mind. We have carefully selected our experts to help with a range of pregnancy and motherhood health needs. Our expert network includes:

·         Senior doctors: For general health queries about pregnancy, children and you
·         Nutritionists: For diet and nutrition advice for the whole family
·         Fitness trainers: For support on antenatal/postnatal fitness and beyond
·         Mental health experts: For emotional wellness of mothers and mothers-to-be

Read more about our experts here.
And remember, you are not alone in the marathon that is motherhood. Join our growing community of mothers on WellVine.

 Common queries from women like yourselves – through all stages of motherhood…

Mum and toddler
·      Common health concerns – coughs, colds, infections and fevers?
·      Signs of serious illness?
·      Eating healthy and staying fit for mum?

Young children
·      Bumps and falls with active youngsters?
·      Allergies?
·      Nutrition advice for growing bodies?

Newborn baby and postpartum support
·      Baby vaccinations?
·      Development of baby?
·      Postnatal diet and fitness?
 Pregnancy health concerns
·      Pregnancy symptoms?
·      Eating healthy and staying fit?
·      Questions about trying to conceive?

How it works? Three easy steps:
1.       Query: Submit your query (anonymously or publically) at www.wellvine.co.uk. We will ask you a few simple questions so we can get back to you with a personalised response. It’s that simple, and takes just a few seconds.
2.       Response: One of our experienced and vetted experts will review your query and provide a bespoke response to help you.
3.       Meet: You can connect with others like yourselves within our growing online community. Find friends, share messages, photos and blogs. Access health news and updates. And ask as many other questions as you want!

So for Sofia and Joanne and all mothers like them, we hope we can help. WellVine – your trusted health partner for bespoke health support. Ask our experts. Free trial, open until 5th November 2014.

- This is a guest post. 

Review: September Nonabox

Another month, another Nonabox! We have been reviewing Nonabox for a while now and each month when the box arrives I can't wait to see what's inside! 

By signing up to the subscription service each month you will receive a Nonabox full of goodies that is tailoured to your babies age and gender. A box costs £25 a month (or less if you sign up for a longer period) and the contents inside the box are always worth more than the cost. 

Here is what was in our September box:

MAM spoons - £2.99 - We are huge fans of MAM and use not only their bottles but dummies, cutlery and cups too. It's nice to see some MAM product in the box.

Green People toothpaste - £3.50 - Noah is getting his first tooth through at the moment so this toothpaste couldn't of come at a better time. I can't wait to try it.

Shea Mooti Mama's Everything Body Balm - £16.99 - I've received this product in a previous months box and although it's a good product I haven't used the first one yet. It's always welcomed to receive a nice treat for Mummy though! 

Ella's Kitchen Milk and Vanilla Cookies - £1.99 - Noah is a fantastic eater and loves nothing more than feeding himself. I was excited for him to try these new Ella's Kitchen cookies but he wasn't really a fan. I don't think it's down to the cookies though it's just that he's gone off his biscuits lately and won't eat his biscotti either. 

Ella's Kitchen Wakey Wakey Round Ones - £2.49 - We haven't tried these yet but we will be doing soon. 

Overall I think there was a good mix of products in the September box but to me it felt like something (or a product or two) was missing. The box contents were only worth £28 and that leaves you feeling a little cheated when some of boxes last year were worth in excess of £70. 

As a huge fan of Nonabox I am anxiously waiting for the October box in hope that the standard of their boxes go back to the level they once were.

- I was sent this product for the purpose of this review. However all opinions are my own.