Thursday, 20 July 2017

TotsBots and Swim Tots!

We consider ourselves pretty knowledgeable when it comes to cloth nappies - we have put our 13 month old in 'cloth bums' since he was two weeks old, and have tried most types, finding out which ones work for us.

But when it comes to cloth swim nappies, we are not nearly as clued up! We haven't seen many different styles, and it seems much harder to find adorable prints in swim cloth nappies (as opposed to regular cloth nappies which have become somewhat of an addiction!). The first time Oskar went swimming was with his cousin, who's mummy kindly gave him disposable swim nappies, and after that we used the first swim cloth nappies we bought - which although were fine, we weren't keen on the drawstring waist, and the prints weren't amazing. 

So when one of our favourite cloth nappy brands TotsBots announced they were launching some new swim
nappies, we were very happy! 

We were lucky enough to have a trip to Brighton coinciding with the exciting arrival of our nappy, so tried it out on the beach!

First of all, this is the most adorable swim nappy print we've ever seen! We love whales and bright rainbow colours, so were in love with the 'Under The Sea' print before it was even on our boy!


Oskar seemed pretty happy with it too!


The first thing we loved about the Swim Tots Nappy was the Velcro fastening. We found it much easier to put on Oskar than the drawstring waist pants style that we had tried before, and easier to take off and change too. 


The Velcro fasteners made it much easier to get a perfect fit, which then seemed really comfortable for Oskar. 


The waist and legs are gently elasticated to catch number twos, and the nappy just seemed to feel much more secure and comfortable - more like a regular cloth nappy than other cloth swim nappies we've tried that didn't seem to have the best fit. 


The nappy is 100% breathable which was great during our beach trip as it was uncharacteristicly sunny and hot for England! It has a lovely soft microfibre interior, and is designed to be comfy and stretchy. 



We were thrilled with the Swim Tots nappy - it was easy to use, had the best fit of any Swim cloth nappy we've tried, was so comfortable for Oskar, kept him dry (although we were lucky enough to not be able to test out the number two effects!) and looked so gorgeous!



We will definitely be purchasing some of the other Swim Tots prints - even if we aren't graced with sunny weather, the Swim Tots Nappy is quite slim, so will be great under Oskar's little wetsuit for when we take him to a swimming pool.


As well as the beautiful Under The Sea print modelled by Oskar, there is another adorable new print 'Dig It'! 
Both Swim Tots are available in two sizes, so are suitable from tiny baby up to potty training, and are both £10.99 each.


We were supplied with a Swim Tots Nappy for the purpose of a review by the very wonderful TotsBots. 


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Saturday, 15 July 2017

4th wedding anniversary & marriage conversion!

We recently celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary - we cannot believe that wonderful day was already four years ago! 
We spent our 1st wedding anniversary on a West Coast USA road trip, our 2nd anniversary on a vegan food tour and a luxury hotel in London, and our 3rd at Birmingham Botanical Gardens with our son who was just 4 weeks old, so we wanted to make this one special too! 

Brighton is such a special place to us - we have been visiting for nine years, and got engaged there in 2011. As it's our favourite place in the world, any special occasion is an excuse to go, so where to spend our anniversary was an easy decision - we were so excited for this trip. And of course, it was even more special as we got to show our beautiful Brighton, to our beautiful boy! 

So early on Monday morning, 3rd July 2017, we packed up our car, dropped Willow off with her grandparents, and set off on the 3 and a half hour journey. 


After an enjoyable drive we arrived at the hotel we got engaged at six years ago. On the night of our engagement Lauren and I shared a bubble bath in front of the window with champagne by the moonlight, it was one of those amazing moments we will treasure forever, so it was lovely to have a bath in front of the window in this room too! It bought back so many wonderful memories, and we were excited to make new memories here too. 


In another nod to our engagement, the hotel also kindly left us a rose petal heart on our bed! As well as chocolates and a lovely 'welcome back' card. We felt right at home! 


All settled in, we decided to head out into the beautiful sunshine - we were eager to get outside and take in the magic of a place that holds so many of our memories, and we were also so lucky to get such good weather! It felt like we had arrived on a foreign holiday, and we felt a million miles away from chores, and work!


We spent a good couple of hours wandering along the sea front, taking in the sights, and enjoying the sunshine. Oskar was more than happy sitting in his pushchair, watching all the hustle and bustle of the pier, the promenade and the beach below us. We realised it was the first time our little boy had ever actually seen the sea, as on his first trip to the beach the tide was so far out we didn't see it!




After all that walking we were a little tired, and rather hungry! We decided to go straight out for dinner, and headed to somewhere that had been on our 'to visit' list on our last trip to Brighton, but didn't have time for. Purezza is a vegan pizza restaurant, and completely blew us away! The pizza was the best we had ever eaten, it was absolutely delicious. The decor was pretty, and the staff was so lovely. 

They even provide childrens meals for free, so after asking if he would manage his own mini pizza (of course he will, he is our son after all!), bought Oskar the cutest and loveliest little vegan Margherita pizza. He devoured it!

Full and happy, we wandered back to our hotel, and all settled down for a good nights sleep! It made us laugh that the hotel had asked if we needed a travel cot in our room for Oskar. We wish! Oskar only sleeps in one type of bed and that is a large one, with his mummies! 

Tuesday 4th July was our 4th wedding anniversary. Just being in Brighton was already so special, but we had decided to make it even more memorable by converting our civil partnership to a marriage. We had been unsure originally whether to bother converting or not - after all, we were married and wives in every sense of the word, and wording on our certificate seemed unimportant. Our wedding day four years ago was undoubtedly our wedding day - it was amazing, very traditional, and legally binded us. If we had another 'wedding day' for our conversion, it would have been a replica of our original wedding day, and feel like getting married twice, which would seem odd. For us, our wedding day will always be our wedding day, we have no desire to duplicate or replicate it (plus there is no way we are getting in to those dresses again without hitting the gym hard and eating much less!!) 
But a conversion seemed like a lovely way to reaffirm our vows and love for each other, particularly now we are mothers as well as wives! So we woke up on Tuesday full of excitement and happiness, greeted by more beautiful sunshine.



Not only we were greeted by sunshine, but delicious breakfasts in bed!  We had a lovely morning of food, cards, presents and cuddles. We understand why people wait until they have children to tie the knot, and why it's important for them to include their children in their marriage, solidifying them as a family, but we chose to do it the other way around, and are glad of the decision to marry before children. However there was something very special about having our son, our beautiful little boy, half of each of us and a mixture of both, be present on our conversion day. We got married as a couple, and had our conversion as a family. 


After breakfast we all got ready - we both wore white sundresses, in a tribute to our wedding day, and Oskar looked adorable in a linen shirt and trousers! We obviously didn't want formal wedding dresses, but equally wanted our outfits to reflect the occasion.


It was so beautiful making our way through Brighton to the Town Hall - the sun shone, we talked and laughed, it was perfect. 

Our conversion was booked for 12pm - the exact time of our wedding ceremony four years ago. It felt more exciting, special, and significant than we expected! It was so special that we got to reaffirm our love with Oskar by our side, and we admit getting a little emotional when reading aloud that we understand we were then legally wife and wife. And of course, how special that our marriage certificate states Brighton, our favourite place in the world. We still have our civil partnership certificate too, in commemoration of our wonderful wedding day in our home city of Birmingham.  It was just perfect.


After the conversion we decided to enjoy the beautiful day and spend some time in the Pavillion Gardens. The Pavillion is of course a famous landmark in Brighton, so to sit and enjoy a view of it, surrounded by flowers, was beautiful. Whilst we were there, we met up with Heather, who we have chatted to online over the past six months. Not only have we found lots in common with the way we parent (Heather has a beautiful son around Oskar's age), but she also gives us wonderful ideas in regards to being more eco friendly, and most importantly, we have loved getting to know her, so it was lovely to meet her finally!


Heather was kind enough to offer to take some pictures of us to remember our special day, and we were so glad she did, as she is a wonderful photographer;  I love how natural the pictures are, and how they captured our mood perfectly - right now we are the happiest we've ever been, and I think it shows!




After a quick stop back at our hotel to change, we headed back out, this time to the beach, as it was later in the afternoon so a little cooler. The sun reflecting on the water was stunning, and as he is still obsessed with sorting things into piles, Oskar had great fun with all the pebbles! It was one of those "life feels pretty perfect right now" moments, just sitting together on the beach, watching the waves crash and the tide ebb and flow, watching our son in front of us oblivious to the importance of the day he was a part of. It was peaceful, beautiful and special.



We decided there was no better way to finish off such a magical day than by going to our favourite restaurant, Food For Friends. We have visited every time we have been to Brighton, including on the night of our engagement, and always have the best time. The food is incredible, and it was lovely to have Oskar there with us, again the staff were fantastic with him. Despite having to wait a little while for our food, Oskar was so well behaved - we are really proud of how good he is when we eat at restaurants. 



After our gorgeous meal, we went back to our room to watch a beautiful sunset. We remember having this feeling in Brighton when we got engaged, but our 4th anniversary was just a perfect day, and one we will remember forever. 


Wednesday was our last day in Brighton , and we were very sad to be leaving! However, our hotel very generously offered us a day of free parking, so that we had an extra day in Brighton, as the weather was so sunny! We dressed Oskar in the super cute Frugi outfit given to him by Becky & Janay, a lovely couple who we have gotten to know on Instagram, and again, really get on with with, but also identify with their parenting methods too - Oskar looked so sweet!


Our first stop was breakfast at vegan restaurant VBites. We usually have full English breakfasts there  but the heat had stolen our appetites, so we went with delicious portions of mushrooms and hummus on toast. Next on our itinerary for the day was another Brighton landmark that is special to us, The Lanes. We spent most of the morning wandering the shops, buying tie dye Tshirts, vegan snacks, eco parenting magazines, and also went to an amazing shop we'd come across on Instagram, who have huge bottles of vegan perfume on the walls, all copies of famous brands, which they decant into 30, 50 or 100ml bottles, so we made a purchase here too! 


After lots of walking, we returned to Pavillion Gardens for a bit of relaxation! After a busy day in the hot sun our tummies wanted to be filled again, so we found somewhere else that had been on our list for a while for a late lunch / early dinner. The Hope and Ruin is a quirky pub serving vegan loaded fries and corn dogs. We wanted to try everything, so ended up with a table-ful of food - corn dogs, cheese dogs, pulled 'pork' topped fries, peanut butter & chilli jam fries...yum! 


Sadly as it grew closer to the evening, we reluctantly packed up the car to begin our journey home. But before we left, we stopped in Hove to enjoy a stroll along the beach huts, and one more hour enjoying the beautiful sea and sun! 



Brighton, our 4th wedding anniversary, and our conversion of marriage, were everything we wanted them to be and much more - we couldn't have hoped for a more incredible trip. It was full of sunshine, happiness, laughter, love and amazing food! We were in a place that symbolises us, who we are and the way we live our lives, so with our son by our side there really was no better place in the world than for us to become officially lawful wives.


We also have a little video of our trip on our YouTube channel here!


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Sunday, 25 June 2017

Why do we buy wooden toys?

Our son recently turned one, so we were excited to buy him some new toys! We have chosen wooden toys for Oskar since he was old enough to play with them, but him turning one coincided with us feeling he needed some new ones to better suit his developing skills.

 We chose Grimms 12 piece and 6 piece Rainbows, Grimms Waves and a wooden snail (along with a cuddly Whale these made up a Snail & The Whale story sack), some Grapat Nins, Mates & Coins, a wooden camper van, Plan Toys Racing Duck and Sort & Count Cups, a wooden walker & blocks, and some Bajo pebbles in Respin jute bowls. His favourite play methods currently are sorting things one from pile/container to another, and pushing things back and forth, so we chose toys that would be incorporated into those skills, and develop new ones. 



With wooden toys not being the usual choice, we often get asked why we choose them over plastic toys, so we thought it would be nice to give an explanation. So here are our ten reasons for choosing wooden toys!

1. They encourage imagination.
Wooden toys often have no set purpose, unlike many plastic toys that have a sole use such a pressing three separate buttons, or items that are replicas of adult life items such as a cash register. This encourages children to think up their own ways that the toys could be played with. For example a wooden rainbow is not just a rainbow, it can be stacked into towers, made into a marble run, arches to roll balls through, used to make pens for animals, houses for people, or bridges for vehicles. 





2. They last longer as they are durable 
Wooden toys are less likely to break than plastic toys, and although they are sometimes more expensive, they are a lot more hard wearing. 




3. They also last longer as they grow with the child. The ways that wooden toys are played with often evolve as the child grows and develops new skills. For example, Oskar has a wooden camper van that he currently likes sorting wooden figures in and out of, and pushing back and forth, whereas when he is older, he can act out scenarios with the camper van and people. 




4. Safer 
Wooden toys have no sharp edges from the toys breaking, and also none of the chemicals that lot of plastic toys have. They also have no batteries!



5.Eco friendly 
Wooden toys aren't a going to sit in landfill like plastic toys do - many plastic toys contain PVC, a type of plastic that does not readily degrade (and when it does, it gives off toxic chemicals) 




6. Educational 
Wooden toys have great educational value - they encourage fine motor skills and problem solving, and are also less distracting that plastic toys that have lots of lights and/or noise.



7. Attractive
Not the most important of reasons, but a bonus to buying wooden toys is that they look so beautiful on display!




8. Quieter
Another benefit for parents, is that wooden toys usually make a lot less noise! This is also useful when taking toys out, for example if needed to occupy a child at a dinner table in a restaurant. 




9. Timeless
Unlike many plastic toys that are based around popular current characters and trends, wooden toys are often timeless, meaning that they won't go 'out of fashion' and are even perfect to pass on through generations.


10. They fit in with Montessori and Waldorf play and education 
We loved the principles behind Montessori and Waldorf play/education, and they are something we hope to incorporate into Oskar's future education. For those unfamiliar with the terms, here are some brief explanations:

Montessori is an approach to education and play that encourages independence and individuality, whilst developing and utilising the child's natural interests. It uses self guided learning rather than formal structured learning. Learning through discovery gives confidence, and learning through something the child is interested in gives an enjoyment to learning. 

Waldorf, or Steiner education, like Montessori places an importance on a natural learning environment, but Waldorf focuses on the child's imagination, fantasy, stories etc rather than Montessori's application of learning to real life. Waldorf is more routine based, but more playful than Montessori. 


Do you prefer wooden toys? What are your favourites?


All of the beautiful toys mentioned (apart from the camper van) are available from Babipur - you can get 10% off site wide with code 'buddy'. 

All toys featured purchased by ourselves, or received as birthday gifts for our son.

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