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Your first thought when good friends invite you over for a meal at their house - 'Hooray! I can't wait to see them'. But if your friend doesn't have a child/only has a baby or older children, then a second thought runs through your mind,  'Damn, their house is going to be trouble'.

People who don't have children or who have infants, do not know the pitfalls of having a toddler running around. People with older children have forgotten all about it. No one takes time out to toddler-proof their homes ahead of a visit with friends. But those of you with children between the ages of 10-42 months will know what I am talking about.

There are actions that you can undertake that will reduce the headaches and suffering that may otherwise occur. If you have invited over friends who have a toddler, here are...

Some tips to toddler-proof your house to save you and your guests some stress:

1. Put away sharp knives. I can't tell you how many houses we've been in that have had huge, sharp knives on the edge of dining tables, on a coffee table, at the bottom of a butcher's block and even on the kitchen floor. Seriously. On. The. Floor.

2. Blow out those candles. Yes, lighting a candle can be quite nice and relaxing. But arriving at a house covered in lit candles when you have a two year old? My heart begins fluttering as I picture my toddler a) burning down your house or b) getting third-degree burns on his hands and face.

3. Move your bottles. I understand you like to display your valuable wine bottles on a low shelf or on the floor. But maybe you could keep them up high so that hundreds of pounds worth of wine don't stain your carpet? And remember, my family lives on one income, we will not be reimbursing you.

4. Hide your sweets. I appreciate that you want to be welcoming, but a giant bowl of candy and chocolate? Have you ever met a child? Do you not care if my child get hyped up and shrieks the entire drive home (all whilst being covered in wine)?

5. Pick up the pens. A pen or a marker in the hands of a toddler who doesn't have paper? Neither you or I want my child to write all over your walls.But how can I stop my lightning quick toddler if he finds a pen while we have our backs turned for half a second (cause that is all it will take)?

6. Be prepared for the mess. You would be surprised how quickly a small child can destroy a room. I always try to tidy up after my children, but many people say not to worry. I hope they are not huddled in a corner, in tears, after our departure.

Are you sure you want to Invite Me To Your House?

If after all this, you still want to invite me over. Just tell me a time (that obviously does not interfere with my child's nap time or bedtime) and I will see you there.

 

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Not Another Photo!

First of all, let me apologise that all my photos and posts so far this week have centered around seeing the butterflies at Wisley. I took a ridiculous amount of photos. After seeing the butterflies on Saturday, I thought I would take a lovely picture of my two darling children. Um, not sure why Moozles is giving me the stink eye. She wasn't even in a bad mood (but can you imagine how scary she is when she is actually angry??!!). Moozles is obviously not a ham like her brother.

If you enjoy seeing other family photos gone wrong, pop on over to Brummy Mummy of 2 for more Wicked Wednesday fun.

brummymummyof2

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Butterfly Spotting at RHS Wisley

Look at my eagle-eyed explorers. This weekend we thought we would take a break from our weekly museum visits and enjoy some nature. We live a half hour's drive from The Royal Horticultural Society at Wisley, which is in Surrey. It is such a lovely place to visit. And there is loads of space to run around in, plus a nice little adventure playground for the kids. And once a year, for about seven weeks, their glasshouse is filled with butterflies.

We have gone to see the butterflies each year, but this is the first year that Dubz has properly enjoyed it. Now that he is 2 1/2, he understands things so much better than before. Last year we carried him around and he barely noticed that there were butterflies. But this year he was walking around, trying to spot butterflies with his big sister. And since Dubz normally wears a trilby, he looked a bit like an explorer.

There is a buggy park outside the Glasshouse (you can't bring buggies in). We normally leave our coats on the buggy because the Glasshouse is really warm (butterflies like it hot and humid). There is a Learning Zone in the Glasshouse, that has information about how things grow. The kids really enjoyed looking at the interactive screens and learning about roots. We finished off our visit with a trip to the Glasshouse Cafe for tea/juice and cake. They recently added a small softplay (for under fives, though my six-year old was on it too, shhhh).

Butterflies in the Glasshouse is on until the 7th March 2015. Tickets are included in your entry price. You can book timed tickets online so that you don't have to queue but the queues shouldn't be too bad on weekdays. Entry to Wisley costs £32.75 for a family of four (under fives are free). But you can get a family membership for £60 for the year which includes two adults, four children and one guest.

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Running in Lavender

 

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my boy and the butterflies

Today we went to RHS Wisley to see the butterflies. Dubz had such a fun time. He ran around saying, 'more butta-fly'. He would spot them from far away and then would crouch down or stand really still to look at them. We had been nervous that he would be afraid of the butterflies, or that he would be rough and tread on some. But he behaved so well. And before we left, he posed on a little bench. He is such a little poser. Dubz often tells me 'take pic-cha' and I have to take a photo of him and then show him the picture. Instead of playing games on my iphone, he will sit and look through the photos on my camera roll.

my boy and the butterflies

 

I am linking this post to My Sunday Photo over at OneDad3Girls and Ordinary Moments at MummyDaddyME.

 

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When people hear that I'm from California, they look at me quizzically and ask why on earth I live in the UK. Believe it or not, I actually like this country. And I love living in London. Weather is not everything. Yes, really. Plus, we are quite lucky in Europe to receive such generous annual leave as well as maternity and paternity leave.

Maternity LeaveMaternity Leave

 

 

 

 

 

 

During my first maternity leave, I had 13 months off (with some of that time as annual leave). I had 12 months off during my second maternity leave. I know many people who took a similar time off. I know many people who took closer to six months off. I don't know anyone who took less than 20 weeks off. But in the USA? They can get up to 12 weeks. Of. Unpaid. Leave. And if you work part-time, or at a small company, you wouldn't even get that much leave.

Did you know that the USA is the only developed country that doesn't offer paid maternity leave? It seems all the other developed countries - countries such as Mexico, Australia, Sweden and the UK - class maternity benefits as important. Americans cannot think this is okay. How can it be acceptable not to support women when they have babies? Is it a weakness for women to want to spend more than a month with their newborn child? I read somewhere that some American companies don't think they should pay for mothers to bond with their babies. Surely supporting mothers supports society.

Americans are often quoting the first lines of The Constitution - 'We the people'. I cannot imagine that the people, especially the mothers, are happy not to have fully paid maternity leave. I loved both of my periods of maternity leave. I bonded with my babies. I learned to be a mother. This is not to say that I couldn't have been a good mother if I went back to work at eight weeks. But it means that when I went back to work, I was able to concentrate on my job. I could concentrate on working without worrying constantly about an infant at daycare/nursery.

President Obama is trying to pass a law that would give federal workers 12 weeks of paid family leave. But shouldn't everyone already have that as a minimum. Can you imagine being a low-paid worker who has to return to work 1-2 weeks after having a baby?

Could you handle having a baby in the USA? Perhaps you have? How long was your maternity leave? I'd love to hear from you.

 

I'm linking this post to The Prompt linky run by Mum Turned Mom. The topic this week is 'Family'.

 

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Fighting Eczema

Winter means eczema in my house. Husband suffered from it as a child, and both our children have outbreaks between October-March. And there are days I get lazy and I stop moisturising the kids on a daily basis. And I regret it as soon as their cheeks get red (photo above). It's less of a problem for my six-year old daughter. But my two-year old son, Dubz, needs daily moisturisation.

I have previously blogged about how Aveeno products are the only things that have helped my kids' eczema (here). But I thought I could offer my top three tips on how to deal with red, blotchy, scaly skin.

1. Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise. In the morning and after baths. I have tried hundreds of lotions and potions (including steroids, anti-fungals and antibiotics creams, all prescribed by our GP). Aveeno is the only thing that helped my son. Unfortunately we hadn't discovered it when I my daughter was under three (that's when her eczema was at its worst). The doctors prescribed so many creams, thinking she had ringworm. Then when they thought my son had ringworm too, I had enough experience to be able to tell the doctors that it was actually eczema.

Fighting Eczema

2. Bathe infrequently. We are all told to bathe babies and children every day, as part of their routines. But baths are quite drying on the skin, even if using a bath oil. My kids have 2-3 baths per week during the winter. They get a wet face cloth to their faces everyday (more for the boy). And in the summer, when the kids bathe every other day, I don't always use bath oil/cream. Plain water is fine for washing the body.

Fighting Eczema

3. Keep the air moist. When it's very cold, many of us have the central heating on most of the day and night. Dry air leads to dry skin. We used a humidifier when Moozles was little. But it broke and I never got around to replacing it. So now I pop a wet face cloth on the radiator at bedtime, and sometimes during the day. It's a DIY-humidifier.

Do your little ones suffer from eczema and dry skin during winter? How do you cope? If you haven't tried Aveeno and would like to, pop over here to request a free sample.

 

Family Fever
I was sent some Aveeno products for the purpose of a review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
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My Winter Face

Last week I attended a party at a cool and trendy London hotel (Ham Yard Hotel). Simple invited me and some beauty journalists and bloggers to come over for champagne, canapes and tips on rebooting our winter skincare routines. Oh yes, we are in the throes of winter. Besides shivering when I'm outside, I know it is winter because my face is dry and itchy.

Besides the cold weather effecting our complexions, many of us overindulged in December. And our skin are suffering. That's why Simple are urging everyone to focus on their skin in January. According to Simple, 'December was about fun. January is #aboutface'. The party was fun too. Besides the beauty tips, we got the chance to make artwork, utilising skincare tips, with the guidance of the very talented Sophia Langmead. I'm not very creative, but I was pleased with my creation (below and in the top photo).

My Winter Face

No matter your skin, here are some tips for giving your complexion some much-needed TLC:

1. Drink lots of water, fruit and vegetables. Take it easy on the sugar.

2. Take off your make-up before bedtime. This is something I am very bad at doing after a night out, but will try to remember. Even if it is just leaving some face wipes on my nightstand.

3. Take extra time and care with your skin. Put on a face mask and relax in the bath. Maybe give yourself a face massage during cleansing. Perhaps relaxing to some music after putting on moisturiser.

My Winter FaceMy Winter Face My Winter FaceMy Winter Face

Simple was designed for sensitive skin, and I have sensitive skin, so I am keen to try out my new skincare products (I was given the chance to grab some products so will get started on them soon). I'll let you know how I get on. I'm also planning to start using a facial scrub and mask on a weekly basis. How are you taking care of your skin during winter?

 

Mama and More
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I was invited to Simple's #aboutface event and given some skincare products for the purpose of this post. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
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