Thursday, 11 September 2014

Winter "Germies" with Boots!

I will write separately about our more personal experiences of being back at school but, for now, I'm writing along with Boots #backtoschool "Digit-ill" campaign on the serious subject of Germies!

Germs are really topical in our house at the moment because Katie has developed Emetophobia or the fear of being sick.  She is worried sick (pardon the pun) about being sick or seeing someone else (including the cats) be sick.  Before the end of year holidays she experienced a panic attack in school when another child was sick in class.  To be fair to her he was spectacularly sick and I think it might have challenged even iron-stomached old me to clean it up.  This was further compounded by a friend's child being sick during the holidays and we watched Katie's anxiety spiral out of control.  We seem to be reigning it back in again with lots of talk about germs and our bodies and the biology of being sick and how to reduce the risk of catching some of those nasty sicky germs in the first place.

Last year we got involved with the Boots Back to School campaign and we're delighted to do so again this year.  This year's theme is all about technology and how children are at risk of catching bugs and head lice from touching screens and standing in close proximity to each other whilst learning.  Katie was tasked with taking a "germie" of herself and I was tasked with painting her face to look like a scary germ.  Being artistically challenged I hope you will appreciate what a challenge this was for me.  I almost felt sick at the thought of being creative with face paints.

First of all though I would like to share some tips and information from Boots to help us poor parents who generally fear the dreaded head lice more than any other bug or insect.

Boots very kindly sent me a little package of goodies for getting involved in the campaign and I was interested to see that you can now buy an Electronic Lice Comb which might be a nice change from all those horrible chemicals.  I've had a Nitty Gritty comb sitting in the bathroom in case I ever noticed any movement in Katie's very long blonde hair but thankfully it's remained unemployed so far, which considering Katie has just started Year 2 is pretty good going.  I suspect she's benefited from my very tight French Plaits sprayed with lots of hair spray! I hope I haven't spoken too soon!

Children are using a lot more technology in the classroom nowadays.  Interactive white-boards and Ipads as well as keyboards and cameras are all regularly used and second nature to our little technological whizz-kids.  Children share pencils and other equipment and sneeze and drop bogies on classroom tables and chairs.  They rarely wash their hands when they use the toilet it would seem and they then fiddle with their faces and put their hands in their mouths and up their noses.  This makes the school classroom like a pleasure park for the average germ.  I once saw an experiment done in a classroom with a UV spray that highlighted all the places the children had touched and potentially picked up germs.  It was amazing to see how one germ could spread around an entire classroom.

The Top 5 Tips I would like to share for keeping those nits and other pesky germs at bay are:

Katie showing us her scary face!
1. Always encourage children to wash
their hands if they are using technology, especially afterwards;

2. Explain to children how germs get into their bodies i.e. through fingers in mouths and try and discourage them from fiddling with their faces.  This is easier said than done to be honest and I struggle not to fiddle!  It does make them more aware of how they can take better care of themselves though.

3. Wipe your touch screens and other technology with anti-bacterial wipes every so often.
4. If you have a girl with long hair always tie it back for school.  This is almost a religion in our household.  Katie gets to wear her hair down on the last day of term as a treat, whilst I keep my fingers tightly crossed that the little blighters don't take the opportunity to crawl in.

5. Spray hair (girls and boys) with Tea-Tree Oil.  You can buy shampoos and conditioners with it in as well but I'm a big fan of a few drops mixed in water and sprayed over the hair.  It might even prevent Kiss Chase if the smell is bad enough!

 I will just say though that I'm a big fan of letting children get mucky and don't try too hard to kill germs at home.  I give a spray with an anti-bacterial spray when cleaning but we have cats and they climb over everything and I will say that we are rarely ill in our house!

Here are some of Katie's other "Germie" pictures.  I did help her a little with these because of her attire but we did have great fun doing them.....
Katie's selfie "Germie"

  Katie showing some places she thinks the germs might hide........

Under her umbrella...

On the table......

Hiding in the bushes

What are your Top Tips for keeping children healthy over the winter? Take a minute and share your Top Tips for #bootsbacktoschool tips along with your "Germies" on Twitter using the hashtag above.

As always the views contained here are all my own.  Boots did kindly send me a lovely care package and I have shared their information but everything else is all me!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Britain's Driest Nappy?

I really feel I've missed my vocation as a scientist....well the fact that I flunked my O'Level in Physics and didn't even get close to taking an O'Level in Chemistry probably put paid to that....but I still love a little but of alchemy or a scientific experiment.  The inner-scientist in me was delighted however to be able to take part in Pampers current campaign to claim the title as Britain's Driest Nappy along with Britmums.

Pip is now nearly 23 months and still wearing nappies.  I can't see that changing for a wee (get it?) while yet.  He's currently wearing a size 5+ partly because that boy does like to wee.  In fact I suspect he might be a contender for the title of Britain's Wettest Baby!

We are already Pampers fans in the Katie household.  I have tried various other brands including the big supermarket brands and have personally found that we are both happier in Pampers (I obviously don't wear them personally but I have to deal with any leaks and the nappy rash that follows a very wet tooshie!).  I was very keen though to try out Pampers Active Fit and do the nappy test.
First of all I'll share two short video clips from Pampers all about their campaign and their nappies......



So now for the trial.  This was quite fun so if you fancy doing the trial as well you will need the following.....

A nappy; a pair of scissors; 150ml of tap water; a piece of kitchen roll; and a stop watch.
 Firstly take your Pampers nappy (or other brand if you want to try this on other nappies too) and mould it to the shape that your baby would make if he or she were wearing it and slowly pour the 150ml of water into the centre/bowl you have created in the nappy.
When all the water has been poured in, set your timer for 1 minute 30 seconds and watch the water absorbing....

It's amazing how long a minute can take when you're watching the clock....

Finally! 1m 30s!
My "Change for Life" stop-watch came in very handy for this exercise.

Once the water has soaked in for 1 minute and 30 seconds you can take your piece of kitchen roll and roll it onto the surface of the nappy...

Kitchen roll laid down all ready to go.
Applying pressure to the kitchen roll.

Then lift the kitchen roll back up again and see whether there is any liquid on the kitchen roll.
Dry as a bone!
It was totally dry!

I will admit I was quite surprised that the kitchen roll was dry because it did feel quite cold to the touch when I was applying the pressure to the kitchen roll when it was on the nappy.

For the final step of the test you will need your scissors to cut the nappy in half across the nappy....

 You can then have a good look at the construction of the nappy layers and see where all that moisture has gone.

The absorbent micro-pearls have locked away the wetness.

 As I mentioned above, I am already a fan of Pampers but I promise you that I did the test precisely as instructed because I was keen to know how that nappy feels for Pip and how dry it is against his skin.  I obviously don't fancy doing that when I remove one that is soaked in his smelly pee!  It was reassuring to feel how dry it was.   Pampers state that their absorbent micro-pearls are able to absorb liquid up to 30 times their own weight - which is the equivalent of up to 3 small bottles of milk.  Pip wears one of these nappies and sleeps for 13 hours easily a night and we rarely ever get any leaks.

Have a go at the was quite good fun. Yes I really do need to get a life!

This is a post entry for #BritainsDriestNappy trial sponsored by Pampers. Learn more at

As usual all views are my own.  I was sent a pack of Pampers Active Fit nappies to do the test with but this in no way influenced my views or test results.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The Butterfly Effect.......

Over the school holidays, to try and help Katie (and me as it turned out) understand and accept change, we decided to grow some butterflies.  This came at the suggestion of Katie's Year 1 teacher who felt that it might be therapeutic for Katie to take care of the little caterpillars and watch them transform into something really beautiful.  With Katie's behaviour ever-deteriorating at home due to lack of sleep I'm pretty much prepared to try anything if it helps her feel settled and calm again.  

We ordered the caterpillar pack from Amazon.  It arrives with a habitat for the cocoons and a voucher for the caterpillars.  You can then order your 5 caterpillars online.  We placed our order before the start of the holidays and chose a delivery date just after the holidays started.  So a few days into the holidays a little pot arrived with 5 tiny caterpillars inside.  The lid is sealed and you do not need to remove the caterpillars until they become cocoons.  We excitedly watched our little caterpillars slowly munch their way through the contents of honey-like food at the bottom of their little pot.

Our tiny little caterpillars.

Day by day the little fellas grew and grew......

Some very hungry caterpillars.....

Until one rather over-achieving gifted and talented caterpillar threw a spanner in the works by doing this after about 5 days.... little bit earlier than his friends.....

You can see our first cocoon at the top left of the picture.
 We were rather nervous about what to do about our little over-achiever so we held off moving him into the habitat for a few days in the hopes that his friends would all join him as cocoons as well.  I had misplaced my sewing kit in the move which contained all my safety pins and we needed a safety pin to pin the paper the cocoons were attached to inside the habitat.  We bought some new safety pins and planned to do the big move after a visit from our Social Worker but G&T, as he became affectionately known, decided to emerge into a butterfly still in the cup on the day our SW visited so it was a slightly more delicate operation than I had first hoped.  Heart in hand I slowly transported the cocoons and G&T to their new habitat.

Cocoons safely moved to the habitat.
We then added some flowers and apple.....

Meet G&T our first-born!

And watched them grow....

Every day for 3 days, whilst our butterflies wings hardened, we fed them nectar in the form of sugared water dropped onto the flowers and fruit....

Until it was time to let them go.  Most of our footage has images of the children in so the only video footage I can share is this one....


Watching the butterflies take their first flights was wonderful and exciting.  We all loved every second of it.

So did it help us?

I think, as a project, it certainly gave us something else to focus on and it certainly helped distract Katie from some of the very challenging behaviour we experienced at the start of the school holidays.  This behaviour did continue throughout the holidays but not with the intensity we experienced during our first week and I think the butterflies along with our lock-down really helped that.  Katie struggled to leave the butterflies alone and I was concerned that they would get hurt at times (plus I saw the cats eyeing them up on more than one occasion) but thankfully that fear wasn't manifested although it did cause a lot of stress.  We were able to talk about the transformation of the butterflies and how things can change and that change can actually be really amazing.  I think that really helped Katie to settle more into our temporary house, although there is still a way to go on that front.  She is very keen to repeat the butterfly garden and there is even talk of trying it with Stick Insects.  I said we can only do it if I can name one of them "Stick Man".

I personally found the process very therapeutic as I struggle to adjust to living in the small environment we are living in due to our house build.  It was a reminder that this isn't forever and that when we move back home it will be  to a wonderful environment. It was also a reminder that we are going through a phase.  That we need to shed our skin of expectation and rebuild what has been torn down.  That is what we are doing with our house but also as parents.  We've hit a rough patch and it's a horrible rough patch.  I hope we can find our way through it and put all the pieces back together again.  I think we can and I'm trying every day to find ways of helping us all do that.  I will say that I am holding on very tightly to our butterfly experience and look forward to doing it again.  The butterflies certainly impacted on me in more ways than I ever imagined.

If you want to have a go as well here is a link to the kit we purchased....

Friday, 5 September 2014


One of the things that Katie and I enjoy doing together is making loom bands, along with half of the rest of the world it would seem.  Initially Katie was keen to have the bands and for me to make the more complicated bracelets etc for her but slowly she is getting herself involved and can now whip up a quick bracelet like a professional.

There are loom bands everywhere in our house it would seem.  My poor Henry vacuum cleaner is groaning every time I beg him to clean up for me as he fears for his innards clogging up with yet more brightly coloured bands - he secretly told me that he doesn't feel he needs a gastric band of any kind thank you very much!

We were very excited to be asked to have a play with some Rainbow Braid loom bands available from Amazon and say what we thought of them.  When I say "some" loom bands, what I mean to say is 5,400 brightly coloured loom bands.  I'm sure you can imagine Katie's excitement when she heard they were arriving.  Rainbow Braid even kindly sent us a new loom and hook as well, for which we are very grateful because we are constantly fighting over our loom.

The bands arrived within 2 days which was very impressive (even more so when you're constantly being asked when they will be arriving!) and Katie ripped open the bag enthusiastically (with me hovering behind her desperately trying to ensure I got the photographs before we had loom bands all over the floor!). 

As I expected Katie nabbed the pink before I could get a look in!

I tried to convince her to make a pink and green bracelet but she's having none of it!

 The bands are beautifully coloured.  They are very soft and stretchy which is great for little fingers, especially for children and adults who like to make their bracelets on their fingers.  The vast quantity of bands in the refill pack will keep you looming for a long time and there are 250 s-clips for the all important finishing.  Katie has been using the bands to make some pretty bracelets and giving them away as presents for her friends.  I made my nephew a flower bracelet which is fiddly but a design I've made before.  I did feel that I preferred a thicker band for that particular design because you have to slide the loom hook under the band on the hook and pull with your fingers and I found I was struggling to grab hold of the bands because they are so soft and translucent.  I am currently making Katie a head band with them however using a tri-band method and am finding that they work really well for this design.  I had hoped to have pictures of the head band when writing this post but time has over-taken me (and I got a quarter of the way through and realised I'd made a fatal error and had to restart) and it's not yet completed (Katie does like to set me a challenge and this one will take many hundreds of bands to complete - luckily I have 5,400 bands to help me along!).  I will add the picture to this review however when it's completed so you can see what it looks like.

Up close view of my flower bracelet
My nephew was delighted with his bracelet and keen to learn how to make his own
 All in all we were both totally delighted with the Rainbow Braid loom bands refill pack!

As is always the case the views in this post are all my own.  We received the bands to review and keep but have not been told what to write in any way.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

A Lushious Treat!

Last week I was delighted to attend my first ever bloggers event courtesy of Lush in Southampton.  Now, rather like Marmite, people always have an opinion on Lush.  They either adore the smell that envelops you as you wander down the high street or they would rather cross the road finding the Lush-ious smells too heady and over powering.

I adore Lush, in fact I could spend the whole day just meditating in those gorgeous smells which remind me of my favourite incenses.  I sadly rarely get to indulge myself in a quiet 30 minute amble around the store getting my fix since adopting the children.  Katie would love the shop but would spend the entire time either harassing me to buy her lots of bath-bombs or would shove things under my nose to smell and Pip would either just scream to get out of his buggy or quite simply take great delight in rearranging the carefully stacked piles of goodies.  The experience with both children would rather negate the relaxation impact that the shop has on me.  Needless to say I was excited to be invited to attend this event and meet other local bloggers and to also be going solo....sans enfants! It's been an incredibly difficult holiday period which I will write about separately.  I will just say that a treat was very much anticipated and appreciated by me.

Upon arrival were greeted warmly by the staff running the event and offered a choice sparkly wine or a selection of sparkly fruit juices.  There was also an array of fruit and delicious cupcakes....I was in Seventh Heaven to see that there were gluten-free carrot cupcakes for me.  Glass of fizzy in hand I had some time to wander around the store, greeting some of the other guests who were mostly beauty and lifestyle bloggers and just taking in the ambiance of the event and wondering what we were going to be doing.

I chatted with Christine, one of the members of staff, and learned a lot about the ethics of Lush and the fact that their products are mostly all vegan.  I also learned about the Lush factory/kitchen based down in Poole and the interesting fact that there is a spa linked to it.  As you can imagine my mind is busy plotting how I can get me to that spa post haste!  I discovered that the team members in charge of concocting the amazing products which include skincare and makeup actually have to take exams.  Once they have passed those exams they can have their sticker on the products that they have been overseeing the production of. 

First off we all did an ice-breaker which involved us pairing up with another blogger and giving each other an arm massage with one of the solid massage bars.  I paired up with the lovely Catherine over at Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder who is a massive Lush fan and who confidently chose the gorgeous smelling Each Peach (and Two's a Pear) massage bar for us to share.  She chose well and we bonded easily sharing our massages and information to nervously feed back to the group afterwards.

Next up we were put into groups to learn all about the Emotional Intelligence make-up range and also how to make face-masks.

The Emotional Intelligence experience is really good fun and based on colour therapy which is a subject very close to my Healer heart.  Colour therapy is based on the concept that colours have a big impact on how you feel and you can also enable and uplift your emotions by the colours you choose to wear.  Lush have created a range of make up colours that link with this concept using makeup.  Sitting comfortably on a chair next to the wheel, dry ice is poured onto the wheel to create a mystical ambiance.  Closing your eyes as the wheel is spun you take several deep breaths and relax.  Once the wheel stops you open your eyes and choose the first three colours that stand out the most to you.  The colours you choose highlight how you are feeling also also colours that would enhance your emotional well being.  I selected Feeling Secure; Strong; and Believe.  Interestingly, very interestingly considering everything that is going on at home at the moment, they all words that I deeply resonated with so there is definitely something in this.  At that moment in time I felt very strong and confident and I believe very much in myself and the journey that I am on.  I rather liked the lip colour that I chose for "Believe" and will be popping back to Lush soon to check that and the gorgeous eye liners out. What is really interesting about the products in this range is that you can wear them as eye or lip liners, the only difference is the brush used in the packaging.

After we had finished our Emotional Intelligence session we excitedly gathered around these inticing ingredients.....

We were going to learn how to make two Lush face-masks:

Catastrophe Cosmetic 

  and Cupcake

It was fascinating and I was riveted.  We sniffed, well we inhaled, and poked at every ingredient as it went into the bowl and discovered that the Cocoa Butter used in Cupcake comes from a peace community in Columbia whose residents choose not to be involved in the conflict and, as a result, are targeted by rebels.  Lush protect the residents and in return they are able to produce this lovely cocoa butter.  Where possible though Lush use local products and environmentally friendly packaging.  Catastrophe Cosmetic contains fresh blueberries as an antioxidant and rose for it's anti-inflammatory properties.  The result is, quite simply, cosmetic alchemy at it's finest.  Heaven Scent you might say!

For me, the event provided some much needed respite and I left with a spring in my step, carrying a bag full of gorgeous goodies including the two face masks we made and a Bubblegum lip scrub that Katie and I are fighting over, feeling the love of the local blogging community, many of whom I will be meeting up with in October.  Before we left though we had a group photograph outside which I share courtesy of Jessica over at Chique Unique Critique (that's me in the back row on the far right).

If you're not already following me on Facebook I have a lovely giveaway courtesy of Lush to give away to one lucky reader.  All you have to do is follow Life with Katie on Facebook and like and share this post.  I'll randomly draw one name out of a hat on 1st September at 5pm.

All that remains is for me to say a big THANK YOU to Lush in Southampton and to Rosie and all the staff for taking such lovely care of us all.  I had a Lushious Time!