Friday, 27 May 2016

Win one of Five Packs of Pampers Premium Care Nappies

Attention! Calling all parents of babies and toddlers. 

I know how much you all love giveaways and today we are giving away the new, super soft Pampers Premium Care Nappies to five lucky readers!

We recently got to test out Pampers' amazing new premium nappies. There is a link to my video test and review here (hint: you can follow the link to find the answers to our competition question). By the way, I don't think I mentioned this in my previous post but the new Premium Care Nappies go all the way till size 5.

Please follow the steps below to enter (you don't need to follow all but the more steps you follow, the greater your chances of winning). 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*The competition ends on 3 June 2016. Winners will be randomly selected using Rafflecopter.com and Random.org and winners will be announced on this site. Only participants with a South African delivery address are eligible to enter. The competition prizes are sponsored by Pampers South Africa, who are solely responsible for the distribution of prizes. 

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The 7 Quickest No-Bake Treats for School Events

We've all been there. It is nine p.m. and your child nonchalantly alerts you to the fact that it is their turn to take something for school bakers day, the very next day! Or perhaps you know it is your turn but you are simply too swamped with... well... life to create a Pinterest-perfect culinary artwork.



At this point, between two kids, it feels like I have to send eats to school every second week between bakers days, school cake sales, end of term parties, birthdays and even extra-mural functions. There is no way I am able to break out the Martha Steward bells and whistles every single time I am required to make something, so I have acquired an extensive artillery of quick and easy options for such eventualities. 

Here are some of my quick and easy favourites:

POPCORN:

This one is cheap and anyone can do it. I have a great popcorn machine but microwaving popcorn seeds in a sealed brown paper bag works just as well. You can add any colour or flavour you want, or even mix with sprinkles or other sweets and serve in individuals bags or popcorn buckets.

school treats

RICE CRISPY TREATS:

Melt rice crispies and marshmallows together and shape into anything under the sun. Decorate as desired. A super cute and easy idea is to stick the treats on ice-cream sticks so that they look like ice-creams and then decorate.

MARIE BISCUIT TREATS:

If you are in a hurry, this is an easy cheat. All you need is some Marie biscuits, icing and sweets of your choice to decorate. I make a simple glace icing using icing sugar and adding a few drops of water at the time until I have a firm but pliable icing. Then I add food colouring (it is normally best to split your icing into smaller bowls so you can create individual colours) and perhaps some flavoured essence. Then you can decorate, either using a spatula or piping the icing, depending on how much time you have. Your decorations can be very simple (just flod with sprinkles and sweets) or incredibly intricate. I have successfully created ladybugs, Minions, spiderman designs, Mickey Mouses (using one large Marie biscuit and two miniature ones for ears) and flowers. You can individually wrap each one if you want to look like you put some effort into it.

FUDGE:

This one is great as it can be made quite far in advance (so working moms can make it over the weekend to be served later in the week). Mix 125g melted butter, 2 cups castor sugar, 1 tin of condense milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence. (You can also add in chocolate, nuts or cherries). Microwave on high for ten minutes, stopping to stir after every thirty seconds. Allow to cool slightly (be careful, it is really hot!) and then pour into a greased square tin. Cut into squares once set. You should get about two dozen pieces from this recipe.


MARSHMALLOW POPS:

Stick two or three marshmallows on a skewer, dip in melted chocolate and decorate as desired. (Find a more detailed recipe here.)

school

MILK AND COOKIES:

I have seen one mom send a package with a few Oreos, coupled with a small carton of milk for each child. Genius- no effort at all! She presented each one in a cute little box so it looked very appealing. Find out if there are any lactose intolerant kids first though! 

TEDDY BEAR'S PICNIC:

Take one Barni cake bear and decorate using melted chocolate or icing and sweets to highlight the bear's features. (You will need to buy enough bears for each child so this might not be the most cost effective option but it is an easy one).

What are your favourite bake cheats? Please let us know!

Monday, 23 May 2016

I Never Meant to Become a Mommy Blogger


There has been a lot of emotive discussion lately about what it means to be a mommy blogger and the potential negative connotation this label carries. There has always been the perception that mommy bloggers are inferior to other bloggers out there and then there was this very angry viral post which had mommy bloggers everywhere up in arms. Of course, there are one or two truths hidden beneath all the anger in that post but for the most part, the various accusations in that post are not true for the bulk of 'mommy bloggers'.


If you had to tell me a decade ago that I would become a mommy blogger, I probably would have pointed you in the direction of the nearest mental assylum. At that time, I had just finished studying and was establishing my position as a task to be reckoned with in the corporate world. Sure, I had always enjoyed writing (I was even the captain of our high school newspaper club) and had for a brief period in high school considered a career in journalism but found that academic writing was more my cup of tea (yes, while my style of writing for this blog is very colloquial, I spent many years engaged in more formal academic writing).

Then things changed. I had two mini-me's. I decided to work from home. One day, on a whim, I decided to start a blog. I went with the free blog platform as I had no idea whether I would tire of this side project after a few months (note to self: upgrade to a more professional domain). With zero coding or graphic design experience, I designed all my own headers and social media icons (note to self: get a professional to sort all that garbage out). I learnt about foreign terms like search engine optimisation, Google Analytics and even a little bit of coding. Here I am, a year and a half later and still enjoying my thought outlet. 

When I started this blog, the intention was for the blog to have more of a business focus- writing about the struggles of establishing a professional home-bases business (back before I was deluded into believing that was possible)  and about achieving adequate work-life balance. There was always going to be a mommy aspect to the blog (there is the term 'mom'right there in the WAHM title) but that was not going to be the focus. What changed? For one thing, my entrepreneurial articles seemed to bore people and nobody read them.I think my focus changed a little bit too- spending more time at home with my children meant that parenting and lifestyle topics were at the front of my mind. I still do entrepreneurial posts sometimes but they are the exception these days.

Do I believe that mommy bloggers are sell outs as implied by that infamous article? For the most part, no. The mommy bloggers I have met are all likeable individuals with a strong moral backbone (part of the job description for being a good mommy). Part of being a decent mother is to conduct yourself in an honorable manner in order to teach your children about building good character and I think most mommy bloggers endeavor to do just that.

The truth is, that mommy bloggers are sometimes persuaded to 'sell' a certain product by PR companies. More often than not, these PR companies will not even pay for these services, instead paying in a currency called 'exposure' (a promise to drive traffic to your website), which carries no Rand value and so, usually do not pay said mommy bloggers' bills. Sometimes there is a freebie product or two delivered to said mommy blogger. It can sometimes be difficult to draw the line between pleasing a 'paying customer' and giving an objective review. However, I think most mommy bloggers realise that there is never any obligation to publish posts (unless there is a specific contract in place) and I personally have on several occasions refused to post about products that I am not convinced by. I will criticize where needed and I refuse to change this even if it means not pleasing everyone. I choose to have more personal posts than product and event related posts as I do not want this to become an advertising dumping ground. I will not buy social media followers even if that means that my following remains fairly small and I do not get a lot of paid work because of it. All of the above is true for most of the mommy bloggers I have encountered too.

So, while being a mommy blogger is not something I ever imagined myself doing, it is something that I love doing and this journey is not ending yet, even if there are a few scorned individuals out there who have a problem with this.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Why Kids Need Breakfast and Win with Kellogg's

Who likes cereal? I know I do. Well guess what? It's competition time and we are giving away two delicious Kellogg's hampers worth R300 each!!!


We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet it is also the most commonly missed meal. According to dietician Kelly Francis, spending breakfast time together as a family has a noticeable, positive effect on the children’s learning and wellbeing. She says “It is important that families sit down at breakfast time as a family. We teach our children how to walk, talk, but we forget that it’s important to teach them how to eat properly, to fuel their body with the right kind of foods. It’s about being an example and conscious of what we are teaching our children”. According to Francis, breakfast provides the body and brain with fuel after an overnight fast (that's where its name originates, breaking the fast). "Without breakfast the body is effectively running on empty, it’s like trying to start a car with no petrol!”

Studies indicate that breakfast helps children feel more alert and be in a better mood in the morning. That first meal of the day supports concentration in the classroom and helps fuel physical activity on the playing field which can translate into more fun. Breakfast intake has also been associated with improved memory, test grades and school attendance. Parents who encourage breakfast time with their children also encourage a healthy relationship with food and healthier snacking habits.Research has shown that children who start their day with breakfast tend to have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) and less chance of being overweight or obese.

Kellogg's believe that healthy eating habits  in adulthood start with education in your childhood.  So if you don’t already, try and take the time to ensure your children are properly fueled with breakfast, to feed not only their tummies, but their minds too.“Children must focus on putting the right nutrients in their bodies as soon as they wake up. This will ensure they can learn and grow, and become the best they can be,” Francis adds.

Unfortunately, many households do not always have access to breakfast and almost one in five children in South Africa goes without breakfast every single day. Kellogg’s South Africa has aimed to combat this issue with its Breakfast for Better Days™ initiative (read more about the programme and Jozi WAHM's involvement here).

Enough about all that now, who who wants some delicious cereal? Enter here following the Rafflecopter prompts below. You don't need to follow all steps but the more you follow, the more entries you get. Don't forget to share with a hungry, cereal loving friend!

ENTER HERE:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


*This competition closes on 25 May 2016. Entries only open to South African entrants and winners will be chosen randomly using Rafflecopter and random.org
**This is not a paid post. However, Kellogg's South Africa will be sponsoring the prize and are responsible for delivery of prizes.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Our Favourite Winter Kids Clothing for 2016

The temperature in Johannesburg is definitely dropping and if your children are anything like mine you find yourself shopping for new clothes each season as they outgrow things so quickly. I have noticed that the prices of clothing have practically doubled this winter, so one needs to shop smartly these days.

We have just finished our winter shopping and I thought I would share my favourite finds for those of you who are still doing winter shopping.  This is not a sponsored post, these are just some stuff I spotted and loved during my own shopping expeditions.

Cotton On Kids

While not everything here is always budget friendly, everything is super cute and you can find some really good economical buys if you look carefully. For example, they often have specials on girls pumps and leggings (buy one get one free kind of offers). I also spotted adorable boys superhero mask and cape sets for just R49.00- great for imaginative play. Their stores all have lovely little play areas for the little ones which is great if your kids are not shopping fans.  


I took the picture above at their gigantic new store at the Mall of Africa, which is apparently the largest Cotton On store in the world.

Pick 'n Pay Clothing

To me, Pick 'n Pay clothing is no longer a 'budget' store as their prices seem to have escalated a bit of late. However, they have a great selection of kids stuff. You can get the cutest warm kids onesies at a good price and for any animated character or superhero clothing they are the first place you should be heading.

Ackermans

This is my usual destination for staple kids clothing as they have one of the largest varieties of quality children's clothing at an affordable price (I have not had joy with their shoes, which don't seem to have the same quality as their clothing though). At the moment, they have a good selection of cute and very warm winter jackets for both girls and boys.

Mr Price

Their kids ranges tend to be a bit limited but are usually cute and well priced. I find that their girls dresses are cheaper than anywhere else and always adorable. They are also great for boys hoodies and bottoms (other the mundane corduroys one seems to find everywhere else in winter). 

Earthchild

We love their clothing as it is always super soft and comfortable looking, with exceptionally good quality. We usually wait for their sales and then stock up in a size bigger for the next season, as their styles are usually fairly classic and will not go out of fashion.

Picadilly

This is where most of our branded clothing comes from as they  are significantly cheaper than the usual chainstores. There are two branches, one  in Fordsburg, which I tend to avoid as it is in a bit of a dodgy location and the car guards outside scare me a little and one in Lenasia, which is probably far out for most but much more pleasant.

H&M

I have saved my favourite for last. We found lots of great stuff at H&M overseas so I was quite excited when they recently launched in South Africa. This is currently my favourite place for kids shopping as their stuff are good quality and pretty to look at. Their prices are similar to Edgars, Woolworths and the like. They have a wide variety of super cute children's clothing and unlike most other stores, the boys section was not a mere afterthought. Oh and they have organic cotton children's underwear which is roomy and comfortable (something that I battle to find elsewhere).


P.S. I am in love with the H&M beige-gold skinny jeans pictured above, but my little diva disagreed with me so we did not buy it.

Where are your favourite shopping places for kids? What were your best finds this winter? Please share!

Friday, 13 May 2016

Weird Things I Never Thought I Would Hear Myself Saying

Sometimes, parenthood feels like living in a distant parallel universe somewhere- a place where people do strange, surreal things. Sometimes, I listen to myself talking and think, "What? Did I really just need to say that?" Here are some of the odd things I found myself saying this week. I wish I could say they are made up but they are not.

jozi wahm alien


"No, we really don't need a dump truck or a tractor."

"I'm sure your aunt would love a pink truck for her birthday but why don't we get these earrings instead?"

"Take that potty off your head!"

"Why is there glitter in your poo?" (Yes, conversations about poo have become normal and it turns out that when toddlers eat cakes with glitter they get unicorn poop.)

"You need to point it down when you go to toilet!" (Sigh... boys and potty training.)

"Why are you wearing my bra? And why are your teddy bears wearing my panties?"

"We don't use our toes for eating". 

"No, we are not having snakes for supper. Nope, no worms either."

"Why do you think you need your own external hard drive?"

"Put away your schoolbooks now and go play." (I never thought I would be saying that!)

"Licorice is not made of snakes."
"Don't worry, your sister did not really pull your eye out. It is stuck in your head, I promise!"

"Don't listen to your sister. There is no ghost in the toy box."

Does anyone else live in a parallel universe? What strange things do you find yourself saying?

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

We Got Pampered by Pampers and Tested Their Newest Product

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to attend the launch of the new Pampers Premium nappies. It was an elegant high tea affair at the luxurious 10 2nd Avenue Houghton Estate hotel (side note: this is a beautiful venue that I have been very keen to visit since it recently became Halaal, since we do not have too many upmarket Halaal venues in Johannesburg and I have heard rave reviews about their fine cuisine).

roses nappies

You see, Pampers have launched a new version of their Premium nappies which are soft- really soft. To prove the point, we were given various silky soft materials to feel as we entered the venue (a piece of silk, a super fluffy blanket and some cotton wool) and then given the new Premium nappies to compare and to see for ourselves just how soft they are. 

So I got to drink coffee and eat pretty cakes and sushi in the company of well known local icons and fellow bloggers, while listening to talks about all the amazing new features of this great new nappy- how soft and absorbent it is and how it does not sag.

cake high tea 10 2nd Ave Houghton


Guess what... I already knew how awesome they are as I had a sneak peak at them as a home tester for the product. A few weeks back, I got sent a test kit and got to discover for myself just how amazing the new nappies are. I promised the folks at Pampers that I would keep my test results under wraps until after the launch but here they are and I am so excited to share them! 

As testers, we were given three tests to conduct and I am happy to say that all the tests passed the mommy test with flying colours. P.S. I am a video newbie and we all know I am a bit camera shy so please bare with me.

TEST 1:
 
The first test involved pouring blue tinted water into the nappy and then cutting through the nappy. The old nappies had a single chamber of absorbent material in the middle, which unfortunately sometimes led to that saggy bum phenomenon (yes, my son has had nappies practically sagging to the ground before but that is a thing of the past now). The new nappies have three separate chambers so that the liquid gets absorbed more evenly. By the way, the nappies absorbed an insane amount of liquid!

video

TEST TWO:

The second test was the wetness indicator test. I remember wondering why the newborn nappies used to have that awesome wetness indicator at the back (basically a line which turns from yellow to blue when the nappy is wet) but none of the bigger ones did. Well now they do, so there is no need to open the nappy to check of it is soiled- just look at the indicator at the back and if it is blue, it is time for a nappy change.

video

TEST THREE:

The thing that used to put me off the old Pampers Premium nappies was that it had a weird net thing inside which was great for keeping moisture off the skin but sometimes left checkered indentations on babies bottom. For this reason I must confess that I usually opted for the Pampers Active nappies previously. Now they have replaced it with a silky smooth interior which really does feel as soft as silk.

video

TEST FOUR:

The fourth and final test that I did (by chance) was the live human test, you know, the one that actually counts. We are working on potty training Squish (that is a post for another day) and he still wears nappies at night and when we leave home. These days, we mostly use pull ups but one day, I had forgotten to take nappies with me but still had the test kit so I used one of the nappies from there. It was a size smaller than what we usually use but seemed roomy enough. He had it on for a good few hours until evening bath time and was leak free even though he drank copious amounts of liquids. The soft nappy stayed dry and comfy and there were no saggy, draggy bottoms in sight!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

When the Terrible Two's Get Terrible

I once read that having a toddler is like having a blender with no lid. I can only nod my head in agreement with this statement.

Last year we had those initial tantrums when Squish did not quite have the vocabulary to express his needs. Since then he has picked up almost every word in the English dictionary (okay, not quite but he does know a lot of big words for his age) and we thought we were done with the tantrums. No such luck. At two years and four months, Squish has a truly terrible case of the terrible two's and we are slap bang in the middle of it. I don't remember Noodle's outbursts being quite as severe or frequent (unless time has dulled the memories of these) and they are getting incredibly frustrating to deal with. 


We have all seen funny forwards showing reasons why toddlers have tantrums. Well our little man has added his own bizarre, illogical ones this week. Ridiculous reasons for tantrums this week include:

1. His roll had a hole in it (now bear in mind that the aforementioned hole was there as a result of him biting the roll);
2. Big sister had a bowl of HIS Cheerios (the ones I recall paying for) and they are apparently only for boys. 
3. The wheels of his new HotWheels car (which came free in the Cheerios box) were cold. They can't be HotWheels if the wheels are not hot!  The tantrum came when I refused to microwave the wheels of the car.
4. He was not allowed to drive the Hotwheels car IN the cereal. (Hmmm... maybe we need a ban on Cheerios and Hotwheels).
5. He wanted chicken with chocolate sprinkles for supper. 
6.  He had to go the pink bathroom at grandma's house and pink is for girls (I have no idea where the sudden gender stereotypes are coming from because he did not learn it from us). 
7. We would not let him to watch Youtube (at 5 a.m.).
8. This morning he had a tantrum because the toothbrush 'didn't feel right'.
9. This morning he also had a full blown tantrum as he did not want to wear a jacket (and it is pretty cold in Jozi this morning).

While it is tempting to laugh at some of these seemingly irrational meltdowns, we deal with these as recommended by the experts- remove toddler from harms way, ignore the tantrums and do not give in to demands. We also deal with obvious causes for meltdowns (usually hunger, tiredness or over stimulation). We have our 'calm jars' (P.S. you can click on the link to find out how to make your own one). Hugs are provided when needed or, more often, time-outs are given where the tantrums in some way infringe on the rights of those around him. 

However, even if you have the skills to cope with toddler tantrums, I think it is a universal parental experience to be left drained and questioning your own parenting abilities. There is light at the end of the tunnel though. I know that this behavior is (mostly) normal and I know that this too shall pass. Most of the time, my son is the most loving and affectionate boy known to mankind. He is funny, entertaining and super cute and hopefully some day really soon the tiny little tantrum monster will go away.

What is the funniest thing your toddler had a meltdown over? Also, what are your proven methods for dealing with tantrums? Please share.