Alcohol alternatives when pregnant!

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When I was pregnant I found it hard to find a nice drink to have as an alternative to my usual wine or cocktail. Throughout the nine months I had a lot of social events like family parties and hen weekends and I must have tried all the alcohol free drinks and didn’t really enjoy any of them.

I usually drink Prosecco or Long Island Ice Teas. So first I tried a number of different non alcohol wines and cocktails – all of which were far to sweet and fruity for me. None of the wines tasted anything like wine 😦

Next I tried alcohol free ciders, again way too fruity (even more than normal cider), then on my friends hen party I decided to bring along some Shloer and alcohol free Becks. Becks was by far the best and did surprisingly taste slightly like lager.

So on all of those social events I was very disappointed that I’d even wasted money on these drinks and not just stuck to diet cola – at least I would have known what I was getting.

However, the other day my husband brought home Belvoir Elderflower drink for my in laws that were coming for dinner. I really enjoyed a glass of this with our food and then after thought – this would have been great as a nice refreshing alternative to alcohol when I was pregnant.

If you are pregnant and love fruity drinks you will be fine, if not then I’d say try Elderflower or just stick to the pop, juice and plenty of water!

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Perfect Gifts for Teachers

Teachers work their backsides off to give our little monkeys the best chances in life. They teach them all the things that we can’t and educate them for the life ahead.
My mum was a teacher, and it didn’t mean much to me when I was little except for that last week of term…..because that was when my mum would bring home 30 boxes of chocolates and because no mummy can eat that much my brother and I would get our pick. It was like a second Easter in our house, only with no bunnies, no eggs, but lots of quality street. My mum, as much as she appreciated all the boxes of tasty chocolates would always say how nice it would be to get something other than chocolates.

Well times have changed and these days teachers get less chocolates and plenty of other things. So this got us thinking, what can you buy those lovely ladies and gentlemen who work so hard at making our tiny humans clever.

A drinking vessel – We loved this ‘I Can’t Adult Today Mug’ so much when we first came across it that we decided to stock it at Milo and Matilda. Perfect for a teacher, it’s a great way to remind them that it’s summer and they have six weeks off from being an adult! We admit it, both of us in the Milo and Matilda office use this mug, it makes it a little hard when doing the tea run, especially when we forget which one has the sugar in, but honestly we couldn’t love this mug anymore than we do right now! We are sure any teacher would feel the same.

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Chocolates – If you are going to go down the traditional route and buy a box of something cheeky, we suggest getting something special. Hotel Chocolat is known for some of the finest and tastiest chocolates. You don’t have to spend more just buy a small token. We especially love these Caramel Tiddly Pots. If I was a teacher I’d keep a box of these in my desk at all times for nibbling on demand.

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Space form are well known for there lovely little glass tokens. These are the tiny gifts that last. These are a lovely way to show a teacher that they were special to your child. We love the one below, but there are other designs available, and some come with options to personalise them also.

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Pamper Gift Basket – Teachers work hard, they deserve a cheeky bit of pampering at the end of term. This is something you can put together yourself. Buy a small basket or box, put in a relaxing candle, bottle of bubble bath or a lush bath bomb and some luscious hand cream will do the trick (a favourite of mine is this Loccitane Shea Butter one.)          If your teacher is a man this can easily be adapted to suit, throw in a black pepper scented candle, some sandalwood soap and a bottle of whiskey scented bubble bath and your on your way to gift perfection.
If you haven’t got the time to make a gift basket there are a couple of lovely companies that we have seen who create some amazing baskets, including this Organic Pamper Box designed specifically for teachers.

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Flowers – Another of the more traditional gifts, but flowers can be so much more than a bunch. Try getting something that lasts a little longer, like potted flowers or a cactus. This way the gift isn’t finished in a week and can be enjoyed for weeks to come. We have just discovered this amazing flower company Bloom & Wild, they have a range of flowers that can be delivered through the letterbox. We especially love ‘The Jamie’ as this Trio of Succulents which are long lasting look absolutely amazing. Marks and Spencer offer a slightly larger version without the cute packaging.

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We asked a couple of teachers this week what the best gift was that they received from their little ones. One said Gin, we love that.

Finally a great suggestion from one of the teachers mentioned above was a class or group present. If you and some of the other mums are close it might be nice to club together and buy a the teacher something special. A little piece of jewellery or a larger version of the pamper hamper would be a super treat for any special teacher.

Whatever you decide on, the thanks from your tiny human is more than enough to put a smile on any teachers face for the summer…..however a bottle of gin will make that smile much bigger.

The perfect child free night away – Oulton Hall Review

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Last week my husband and I spent our very first night away from Matilda and took ourselves off on a relaxing spa break. We absolutely love spending all of our time with Matilda, but a day and night away was just amazing.

We booked an overnight spa package through – Spa Breaks. The package included – access to the spa, one 60 minute treatment each, light lunch, £28 each towards our evening meal and Bed and Breakfast at Oulton Hall.

We arrived at 1:30pm and headed straight for the spa. Our first impressions were a little disappointing, as we walked down the path from the spa car park to the spa entrance the gardens were very over grown and run down – you could tell no gardening had been done this Spring / Summer.

However, once inside the Spa was lovely – we headed to the juice bar to grab our light lunch. The food was great, I had the Asian bento box and my husband had the English one. I would highly recommend both of these, I’m a massive fan of scones with clotted cream, and the English box was great for this. Once we had very full tummies we then relaxed in the spa, we spent a nice hour moving between the jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. I was once told that when you are on a date away from your kids not to talk about them, unless its about fun things you are planing to do – so we chilled in the jacuzzi discussing our bucket list and all exciting places we want take Matilda.

We both had a ‘Fit for Business’ back massage, my massage was amazing. The girl that carried out the massage was lovely, she talked me through all of the different oils and massage pressures. I’ve had quite a few back massages, all around the world and that was definitely the best. However, I think the experience is a bit hit and miss, as my husbands message was a little shorter than mine and he wasn’t that impressed with the massage or the overall experience. I think he was a little sad when I told him how great my girl was, he loves a good massage and he wasn’t asked which oil or pressure he would like 😦 After the massages we did a little more relaxing in the spa and planning our future.

At around 5:30pm we went and checked into our room, the room was nice, it looked as though the bedroom had recently been decorated and the bathroom newly tiled. After throwing our bags in the room we thought it was about time we headed outside and had a drink in the champagne bar! The champagne bar is located on the other side of the hotel to the spa, overlooking the golf course. The gardens here were a lot nicer and as it was a lovely sunny day it was great to have a little chill in the sun before it was time to get ready for our evening meal.

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We thought we would make the most of our child free night and have a glass of wine whilst getting ready for dinner, the hotel staff were more than happy enough to bring us up a wine bucket and some wine glass so we could crack open the bottle we had brought with us.

Our evening meal was in the Calverley Grill, we weren’t expecting much as we don’t normally have great experiences in hotel restaurants. However, we were pleasantly surprised, for starters I had the goats cheese and my husband had the broccoli soup, for mains we both had the chicken with chunky chips and then we shared a creme caramel for dessert. The starters and main were amazing and had real flavour to them. Neither of us liked the dessert but I think that was just down to personal preference – as we didn’t really like the texture. All the food was covered in our £56 food allowance. Drinks could not be included in the allowance so we just paid the extra for our wine and beer.

The next morning breakfast did not disappoint. The majority of the food was a self serve buffet with a few items like pouched eggs available to order. So we stocked up on lots of lovely food before our drive home.

So all in all we had a fabulous time on a little night away and I would definitely recommend a spa break (and Oulton Hall) for those tired parents in need of a chill day and night.

Matilda’s Mummy

We’re Going to The Zoo!

I hate zoos. I am against animals being locked in tiny cages for our amusement.
I don’t hate all zoos though, I do believe that some are genuinely in it for the conservation of animals and if they are done right the animals don’t suffer and are really well cared for. Whilst I’d still prefer the animals to be in the wild I’m not against these.
Singapore zoo is one of my favourites and having been a couple of times I highly recommend this to anyone visiting the city.

The other day a friend suggested a trip to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park. After a little research I really liked the look of it, so on bank holiday Sunday we headed down for the day.

The car park was packed and I was a little apprehensive that it may be really busy inside but honestly I didn’t think it was. They seem to have enough going on that it never felt crowded and we never spent long in a queue or waiting too see anything.

We arrived about 11am so we headed straight to grab a couple of coffees and some sandwiches to take with us and then we headed off to see some animals.
Entry was £16 for an adult and the boys were free as they are both under 2.

We saw polar bears, spider monkeys, mara’s, lions, leopards, meerkats, zebras and giraffes just to name a few. I fell in love with one of the tiny baby baboons and if I could have taken him home he would have been in Milo’s changing bag quicker than you can say ‘Safari adventure

Lunch consisted of sandwiches and mini cheddars on a picnic bench while the boys ran around the grass. Well Milo wobbled around and fell over a lot. But it was lovely, and the sun was shining making the day delightful.

We headed back to the animals and the boys watched with the most excited looks on their faces. I think Milo’s favourite animal was the spider monkey, the enclosure is open so they are just wild, swinging around the branches above you. He couldn’t get enough of them and finally dragging him away meant tears. But it wasn’t long before we were at the next stop and there was something else to make him smile.

Late afternoon the boys both fell asleep and we used that as an excuse to grab a couple of ice creams and sit in the sun.

The enclosures are huge, the animals look healthy and happy and there are plenty of viewing areas for each stop so you can see loads.
The cafes are plentiful and although it’s just your usual sandwiches, cakes and sausage roll type fare it wasn’t overly expensive and it tasted good.
There are endless areas where you can stop and grab a picnic bench and have a bite to eat. If you are more prepared than we were take a picnic with you….and don’t forget the sun cream. We covered the boys but neglected ourselves and both ended up crispy and red, rookie manoeuvre.

Before we left we headed to the monkey house soft play area (indoor) and the boys had a whale of a time monkeying around. We could have spent longer here but toddlers get tired and cranky and it was time to head back.
There is also a huge outdoor play area, we didn’t have time this trip but all the kids there looked like they were having a great time, there is so much to do here!

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I love this place, I can’t wait to return and hopefully as Milo grows he will enjoy the animals more and more. I highly recommend!!

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Milo’s Mummy x

The Best Baby Shower Games

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I loved my baby shower and I also loved planning all of my friends showers. So if you are organising a shower and you are stuck for what games to play here is my ultimate top games. I have played ALOT, but these are the ones I have found most fun organising, playing and getting people involved with.

Guess that Poo

This is a fantastic classic. Get a variety of different chocolate bars and just before the baby shower, melt each one into a different nappy. All the guests then need to smell and taste each nappy and guess which is which. You will have all your guests bonding over how funny it looks eating poo out of a nappy.

Baby Food Tasting

Get together a few random foods that are easy enough to mash / puree – the smeller the better. If you have any little jars those work perfectly, if not dig out your small tupperwear boxes. Place a different puree in each jar and have the guests perform a taste test.

Sweets in a Bottle

Place two different types of sweets into two baby bottles – count the sweets as you place them in (M&M and Skittles work really well). Have the guests guess how many sweets are in each bottle. This game is great as the mummy to be gets to keep the two bottles afterwards.

Play-Doh Babies

Give all the guests a blob of play-doh, they then have 10 minutes to create the cutiest play-doh baby. The mummy to be then gets to judge who has created her the best looking baby. This is another game that will have all the guests giggling away and reminiscing about their childhood.

Late-Night Nappy Notes

Okay so this isn’t really a game but more of a fun activity. Before everyone arrives place a nappy and a pen on their seat / table. Have all guests write a funny quote, words of encouragement, inside jokes etc. I loved reading all of my nappy notes at 3am in the morning when changing Matilda’s nappy – it made those middle of the night wakeup calls that little bit easier and funnier.

So if you are a Mummy to be – congratulation and I hope you love your baby shower.

If you are a bestie that is organising  a shower – have fun, arrange the above games I guarantee your guests will have a great time.

Matilda’s Mummy x

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Baby Script Balloons are ideal for your Baby Shower deco – only £6 from http://www.miloandmatilda.co.uk

Does white noise help babies sleep?

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So my answer is a definite YES!

Matilda was a very upset newborn. As a family we had to fight colic, a milk allergy and silent reflux, which meant we had endless hours of screaming. Matilda is also one of those few a babies that did not want a dummy – so white noise was a life saver for us. Whenever she was having one of her screaming fits the only way we could calm her down was to play white noise, using the ‘Sound Sleeper’ app – in particular the hairdryer and hoover.

So if you are reading this because you have a colicky baby I really do feel your pain, and it’s annoying when people say it will get better – but it really will, and hopefully white noise will work for your family :). White noise did not stop Matilda screaming completely when she was screaming from 5pm until 11pm but a lot of the time it did seem to calm her. The ‘Sound Sleeper’ app was great because the volume does seem to go a lot higher than most white noise machines, and this really is needed when a baby is screaming at the top of their lungs. I would hold Matilda tight to my chest, rock her and gently tap her bum whilst my husband would play the white noise on this phone next to us. I would keep doing this until she stopped screaming and would fall to sleep.

Before Matilda’s prescription milk and silent reflux medication started to work, she would cry none stop in between feeds. Our lives were sleep, feed, scream repeat. So after / or during a feed Matilda would just start screaming, there was no consoling her with anything put white noise. Even my parents and grandparents could not believe how magical it was, I could sit rocking her, walk around soothing her – but she would not stop screaming until I turned on the white noise. She would then start to calm down and fall to sleep.

As Matilda is now older we still use the white noise during her day time naps. She is such a light sleeper. If I put her down to sleep even just closing the door wakes her up. So now she has the white noise on when she is napping so that I can get my jobs done around the house.

There are also many fun little white noise machines out there for babies, like Ewan the Dream Sheep and Soothe and Glow Seahorse. These didn’t work for Matilda as a new born as they don’t play for that long and were not loud enough. But from about six months old she started to love these at bed time, we alternate between the two and turn these on at the start of her bed time routine. Ewan is just adorable and soft, his belly lights up and he plays four different heartbeat and womb sounds which lasts for 20 minutes – this is an ideal time for getting Matilda ready for bed, putting her down and helping her drift off to sleep. Soothe and Glow Seahorse also has a light up tummy and features eight lullabies and classical music with two ocean tracks – however with this you are unable to choose which sound to play, the seahorse just runs through all eight on repeat. The seahorse only plays for five minutes, which some times isn’t quiet long enough to help Matilda drift off to sleep. However, I think the Seahorse may just be one for kids a little older for Matilda.

So to conclude I think white noise is great, it reduces stress is babies (whether thats stress from colic, being ill, being over-tired, under-tired, overwhelmed from this new world) and helps babies fall to sleep and stay asleep for longer.

Matilda’s Mummy

Ultimate Fathers Day Ideas

Last Father’s Day my belly sent a card to Milos daddy, I was so excited about the thought of being parents that I felt the need to celebrate the day. Father’s Day has never been a thing for me, as it was just my mum, brother and I growing up, so I wanted to make this extra special because it was kind of a first for me as well.

This year I’m even more excited, because this year we are parents and it means Father’s Day is official. On Mother’s Day I was spoilt and I want to make sure I return the love. I have always been more of a giver, I just love giving presents, writing people little notes, sending cards, packages of sunshine when people are feeling down. I prefer other peoples special occasions to my own.

So we here at Milo and Matilda thought we’d come up with the ultimate Father’s Day idea list. You don’t need buckets of cash, unless you want to, you just need a little bit of love and a spot of imagination.

  • A picnic. Outdoor or indoor. Nothing beats a picnic, it’s personal you can spend as little or as much as you like and you can tailor it to match daddy’s tastes. For Milos daddy it would be lobster rolls, cured meats, fresh fruits, scones with clotted cream and some bubbles.
    You could buy your partner (from the kids) or your dad his favourite beers, or even those fantastic personalised ones, then grab some of his favourite sweet and savoury treats and head down to the local park and enjoy an afternoon spoiling him. Picnics also work well inside, set a rug down in your siting room and lay all the food out as if you were outside. A lovely alternative for a rainy day!

Picnic in the Park

  • A drinking Vessel. What dad doesn’t love a good mug. Especially when it’s the first Father’s Day. Milos daddy said they should be called SMugs because it makes him smile every time he uses it because he is a dad and he’s making sure his whole office knows, again. And if Dad works outdoors or loves gardening on a weekend, there is always the option for a cool tin mug instead or the traditional porcelain one.
  • A Handprint. A gift we absolutely love and is sure to melt all hearts is your child’s handprint. You can have a go at home and make a card or picture or if you fancy really making the most of this then head down to one of those fantastic pottery cafes that seem to be popping up all over the place. We did this at christmas and made Milo and Matilda’s Daddy’s absolutely gorgeous little baubles for the tree. Be advised most places need between 3-7 days to finish the items in the kiln and glaze them so give yourself plenty of time.
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Probably the wrong time to make a bauble but you get the idea of how cute these gifts are!
  • Vouchers. Now we are not talking a boring old B&Q or Debenhams voucher, we are talking the homemade variety. I remember making these when I was a child and as I think about it now I could think of nothing nicer. Breakfast in Bed, one football match on the TV moan free, a six pack of beers or a night off the cooking. Those kind of things. Again its personal and you can tailor it to suit your family and the dad in question.
  • Scrabble. Another of our favourites is the sentimental gift of the scrabble family frame. Daddy can keep it in his office or his study or you can pop it on view in the sitting room for all to see. There is the option for just daddy and his daughter or son, or the option for the whole family. Matilda’s mum made us one just after Milo was born and I love seeing our names linked together.
  • Memories. Probably the most important one of all because there is nothing nicer than creating memories. Go for a walk somewhere you have never been, visit the zoo or an aquarium. Drive to the nearest beach and collect shells or spend the day playing board games at home. Just do something you don’t normally do. Laugh lots and make the very most of the beautiful family you have, remember to take lots of pictures and print a few off for the fridge.

So to all Dad’s out there we wish you a wonderful Fathers Day.