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Monday, 24 October 2011

Boardwalk Empire sexy pregnant loungewear

Love her or Hate her, you can't deny Paz de la Huerta has an amazing body and man, was I envious of her beautiful sleek baby bump in the new series of Boardwalk Empire, where she often frolics about naked. Steve Buscemi's Nucky's Ex good time girl slash cabaret dancer Lucy Danziger has become a frustrated, pregnant recluse out of an arrangement (not yet known) with the accidental father - a puritanical, married, prohibition cop.

Turns out, the bump is a cleverly made prosthetic taking 3 hours to apply, airbrush and make up onto her hot bod which is probably a good thing as the actress parties hard and her on-screen character smokes and drinks whisky. Well it is 1920.

As she's shut in her flat all day she saunters about in her negligées and beautiful silky dressing gowns, and well, I'd love one! (Makes a change from lounge wear of leggings, big vests and ponchos.)

There is a shop near me that has the perfect offering it seems... But it's strangely always shut.

Carousel (135 Richmond Road, Twickenham TW1 3AT) one of Twickenham's last antiquey/vintage shops, looks well kept and has switched on fairy lights adorning the window- but is never open. Shame, as it would make a killing.

I'm on a mission to step inside and see what wonders it bestows...

And hope to find something like these Carine Gilson silk kimono gowns in Teal or Orange but for much less than my monthly rent!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Bilingual animal madness! Lingo zoo iPad App review

Lingo Zoo £1.49 from iTunes app store (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)
Mindshapes bring us another Super kids' app- this one is an animal puzzle app with a twist. Once completed, each puzzle delights the tot in howling, screeching or yapping the animal sound followed by the spoken name in both English and Spanish. This is perfect for Leon as we're teaching him Spanish and I think that he will benefit in time for our move to Madrid next year.

Designed for 3-5 year olds to improve concentration, attention and spatial skills, I'm impressed that Leon is very able at completing the puzzles. He's ploughed through the 7 levels from the farm, via the woodland and all the way to the jungle. At times he got frustrated if the piece didn't fit into place straight away, and I'd help him a little bit to encourage him that he was correct in choosing where to put the piece- he just needed to drag it a bit slower or with a touch more precision.

Once the levels are completed, the animals react with more animals sounds if touched, and the puzzles can be reset to play again and again without losing access to further levels.

*I received an access code to review this app- but all opinions are mine. It's a fab app and I even bought a download to use at my mum's place!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Early morning wet wakeup call: hunt for the perfect nappy

Leon's been waking up at 6.30am recently with a big "mamaaaaaa!!" until I reach his bed-side and he points at the mattress which is, once agan drenched. He soaks through his nappies every morning resulting in more laundry and earlier wake-up calls. He's 22 months and familiarising himself with the potty, and can go for some dry periods during the day... But I still don't feel he's totally ready for the potty and, well I'm thinking of waiting until baby #2 is out and we move to Madrid (Feb/March) to begin the proper stuff.

Meanwhile I've been trying to find the ideal nappy for him.

Initially I was a Nature Babycare fan- chlorine-free and without the plasticky feel. I felt this was the next best thing to cloth nappies. I loved them and used them for over a year.

But then the price went up a quid (£6.49 for 28 Or 32p each), and my local Boots stopped stocking them, meaning an extra 5 minute walk to Waitrose... And more importantly, Leon had several morning episodes of waking up with the gel stuff all over the place and wet pyjamas, so I searched for an alternative.

I toyed with Boots own brand Super Dry (£4.39 for 28 or 16p each) and Pampers Active Fit & Baby Dry (£6.49 for 27 or 24p each). These were all fine during the day, but like the others, it was first thing in the morning that was the problem, and more than once, on the branded nappies, the gel would come out the top of his nappy and all over him and the bed, which wasn't a nice experience.

If Leon was potty-trained this would be, I suppose, the time for his first morning pee- but alas, he'd have to climb out of his cot, or call out to me in time to lift him out and do his business. So until then, nappies will have to do.

The solution? Friends suggested going one size up- so I've gone for size 6 nappies, even though size 5s go up to 25kg and Leon was 16kg last time I checked. And yes... It worked!

For my next baby I'd like to use washable nappies and have my eye on the birth to potty style available from several brands now, and will hopefully try them out on Leon first! Will save hundreds of pounds and quite frankly I'll feel less guilty about chucking away all those nappies.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Free Olympic Tickets for Nearest and Dearest

This morning I was fortunate to attend the launch of P&Gs Olympic Partnership called Nearest and Dearest, valuing the role of athletes' support networks prior to and during the London 2012 games.

Free tickets for families and friends
Previously I had assumed that athletes received automatic ticket allocation, but this is not the case at all! Fortunately, P&G, one of London 2012 main sponsors have plenty to go around and have generously allocated a large part for their Nearest and Dearest: 2 per Olympian and 4 per Paralympian (who tend to have bigger teams of support- and often more seats available).

Too much support?
Andy Hunt, Team GB's Chef de Mission and CEO of British Olympic Association, outlined how athletes' friends and family support is so important - but so is limiting the distractions to athletes that could obstruct the competing element.

Diffused in the form of roadshows and workshops up and down the country for the next 6 months, athletes' Nearest and Dearest will gain all information needed to prepare themselves for the event of their life-time: access information, how they can help best support the athletes, ticket information, and possible media training. With an emphasis on digital media, online forums, and building a network of these key supporters, Olympians and Paralympians should feel all grounds are covered and can focus on their event entirely, instead of explaining to friends how to find a parking spot moments before a race (as happened to Sophia Warner, GB Paralympic sprinter!).

Colin Jackson (former 110m hurdles champion) outlined how family asking how they could help was "always well intentioned, but because of my training I couldn't always give them enough time to explain or help. This will provide a real support for both the families and the athletes"

Valuing the Nearest and Dearest
Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of the British Paralympic Association, added that the emphasis was on the involvement and value of the people behind the athletes, recognising the key role they play in helping them achieve their goals. Reflecting this, will be the P&G branded Nearest and Dearest Lounge welcoming their friends and family during the Games in a comfortable setting and supposedly acting as an easy meeting point when athletes are available to meet up. P&G Olympics Project Director, Nathan Homer, also outlined the charitable foundation P&G have set up, helping mums across the country to receive bursaries specifically to reach their dreams, with athletes sitting on the judging panel.

In a nutshell, it was wonderful to hear how P&G, the BOA and BPA were together improving communications for the athletes' support network and guaranteeing tickets per athlete, but even more so, hearing from the athletes themselves how they prepare for the games and all this while leading seemingly normal lives.

Keri-Anne Payne (Team GB marathon swimmer) explained how she was getting married in September 2012 - amazing how she's planning her wedding parallel to the Games- and that she's looking forward to hearing her brothers' voice shouting out from the crowds. She assured us that she can still hear the cheers from the crowd despite her head being underwater! She's so delighted that her family can be there especially after panicking after such high demand for tickets. Now she doesn't have to think about it, and can concentrate on winning GB some medals!

Sophia Warner (GB Paralympic sprinter) is already a mother of 2 young children with a full-on marketing career and has been training for over 12 years! What a woman. She's taken a year out to concentrate on the Games and unsurprisingly expects a bit more of a helping hand from her man over the next few months ;)

Colin Jackson happily compered the conference though I rushed off before explaining to him personally how he was my hubby's finishing line dipping idol when younger.

I attended the launch following my involvement with the Life Before P&G challenge, but the Olympics/P&G partnership is considered to be the most far-reaching in Olympic history spanning the next 10 years which is pretty awesome.

Blocked : A tiny tale of towers

Once there was a tot who preferred knocking down towers to building them (Even after professional illustration)

He soon found the joy of building - followed by a swipe of the fist shortly afterwards.

And now stacks whatever he can get his hands on.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Mindshapes launch: Hickory Dickory Dock iPad app review

A few months ago, I disliked the idea of letting Leon play with my iPhone- dismissing it as bad for his little brain and worried that he'd call/text/email someone he shouldn't, or delete a precious app. And my recently-won iPad? I'd hide it from him worried he'd toddler-bash it like my long-gone MacBook Air. But now, at 21 months, he's grown up so much and I trust him to be careful and well, he's become a little master of the touch-screen gadgets. I also saw the array of toddler-friendly apps and decided this would be the ultimate distraction for an upcoming long-haul flight. Truth be told, there were so many to choose from, I was a bit lost. Leon is familiar with many of the silly (though entertaining) talking cats or animal noises apps but I wasn't sure which ones would actually help him learn something.
Thankfully I was recently invited to the Mindshapes launch event showcasing some top-notch educational apps making learning fun from a very young age. Held at the fantastic Maggie & Rose children's club in Kensington, Leon and I were shown the range of fabulous apps from the developers and it was clear that they were expertly put together with fantastic illustrations and engaging content.

Hickory Dickory Dock £1.99 from iTunes app store (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)
Designed to help little ones learn to tell the time, this brilliantly illustrated app holds a different mini-game for every number on the clock that the player can explore. See what the big purple fluffy mouse gets up to at each number on the clock: from cleaning the dusty clock, lining up the correct weights to retrieve a chunk of cheese, get fed a load of fruit or sing and dance! The animation is really fabulous and it's not surprising when reading that Mindshapes' team members' hail from noted video game developers including EA, Atari, Sega and Eidos Interactive.

I'd recommend it for slightly older children as the objective is to learn numbers and the concept of the clock. However, as you can see, Leon certainly enjoyed discovering the different levels of the app with a concentration span of 10 mins on average.

It looked brilliant on the iPad, but I can imagine that the smaller screen of the iPhone or iPod touch would make it slightly fiddly.

The Mindshapes education expert explained to me how the apps were created with the national curriculum in mind so that they could potentially be used in classrooms across the country- wow! This may be more relevant to the apps aimed for older children such as the arcade-style game Meteor Math (6yrs+) but it's comforting to know there is a deep educational foundation to each app that Mindshare develops. Each one created using their 5 i's: Imaginative, Immersive, Intelligent, Interactive and Intuitive. And while I wasn't sure Leon would 'get' the app he was trying, I was reassured that at this young age, it's all about discovery. Since then, I've been downloading a lot more!