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Marks & Spencer Back to school picks

Its so hard to believe it is nearly time for the kids to go back to school. If any of you are like me and leave everything to the last minute hopefully this post will help you get the last few bits and pieces sorted!

The basics

basicsI really think the key with school uniforms is good quality basics.  When you think about it, these clothes are in almost daily use and will no doubt take plenty of hard wearing. The M&S trousers come with a range of different options including adjustable wait, crease-resistant and with the stormwear technology which helps to repeal the dirt and mud stains as well as keeping dry in the rain.  They come in a range of colours and combinations of the above options.  For example see  here.  Similarly  with the skirts. They also come with the stormwear technology, adjustable waistband and variants of the different types of pleats.  Link here. 

Whether its shirts or polos you are after M&S have a great unisex range in a wide range of sizes – see here for the range of non-iron shirts!! I’m all about non-iron!! Again all the M&S school stock come in a range of colours.

Coats

mscoatsWhile most definitely a basic, this deserves a whole category to itself.  My mother always said, a good coat was crucial and I follow that advice with my own boys.  I have picked out my own favourites below.  Most of the coats come with Stormwear to keep the rain out and to repeal the mud and dirt.  Links for each are underneath. Starting from left to right.

 

  1. Padded Jacket – see here
  2. Pink coat – see here
  3. Black padded coat (comes in other colours) – see here
  4.  Cars print jacket  – see here (this one is currently reduced to €15 for €24, we have this one, its fab, go a size up as its quite small fitting.)

School bags

bagsSee opposite for some of my own picks. I attended the M&S press day back in June and as soon as I saw the Spiderman backpack I knew it would be a big hit in our house. The big man is superhero mad.  There are other avengers ones in the range.  For the whole range see here.  The sale is currently on and some of the Frozen ones are on sale, good value reduced from €19 to €11.

 

Hope this post is of some help for those last minutes bits.

Note: This post in in collaboration with Shopping Links and  M&S. 

 

 

Features, Mamma Reviews

Smoothie loving with the Nutribaby

Since the Nutribaby arrived in the Mamma Fairy house, we have become smoothie addicts! It is such a handy way to get the little people in our house to eat vegetables.  Surprisingly one of the big hits is a beetroot smoothie.

Beetroot-berry-kale-and-banana-smoothieIm not particular about the quanites so roughly to make two childrens portions of the Mamma Fairy beetroot smoothies I use:

  • 2 cooked beets
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 apple
  • 3 small celery stalk
  • cup of water to give it a lighter consistency
  • some ice

There are so many variants of this smoothie based around beetroots for example substitute the apple and carrot for banana and kale. For us that’s half the fun trying out what works.

The nutribaby itself is a genius multi use product, it has five key functions including warming bottles/food, blending, steaming and sterilising.  nutribabyFor me the large capacity is a big selling point as I like to batch cook for both the boys.

Uniquely there is also an associated app which is full of tonnes of recipes broken down into age ranges. We have also taken some smoothie inspiration from the app and have tried the Melon, banana and melon smoothie – seriously good! ( see here for receipe).

For anybody interested in downloading the app, it can be downloaded from the google play store.

Other smoothie receipes which have got the thumbs up from the little men are:

greensmoothieThe Hulk – the big man named this because of its vivid green colour.  Simply spinach, celery, green apple and cucumber.

The One Mamma Likes – self explanatory! My own personal favourite, carrott, banana, apple, lemon juice and a small bit of ginger.

If anybody has any tasty smoothie suggestions send them our way!

 

 

(pic credit: Pixabay)

Note: I am a blog ambassador for Babymoov and am part of the #stresslessweaning campaign, for which i received some products to try.  All opinions are my own or the boys where appropriate.

 

Features

The Mamma Fairy is 1

Well…. this month marks the 1 year anniversary of The Mamma Fairy Blog. Never in a million years did I think id still be here a year later and enjoying it as much if not more than the first few weeks. This blog started on maternity leave with my second and grew from there.  I never believed anybody would really be interested in my random ramblings……

TBS-Top-Mommy-Blogger-Badge-2016The last few days have been full of great news for The Mamma Fairy Blog.  I’m delighted to share that my little blog has been chosen as one of the Top 100 Mommy Bloggers of 2016 by The Baby Spot Magazine.  This is a huge honour. The Baby Spot is a highly regarded Canadian based worldwide online parenting magazine and to be recognised firstly by such a respected publication and along side some great names is really so overwhelming.

Secondly and hot off the press is the news that The Mamma Fairy blog has been short listed in The Parenting Blog category for the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards.Littlewoods-Blog-Awards-2016-Website-MPU_Shortlist Again to be named alongside blogs that I would have followed and read before my own blogging journey is really exciting.  I never set out to earn accolades as a blogger however to be recognised is so flattering.  Thanks to everybody who reads and follows the blog, it is very much appreciated.

To finish I thought id mention some of my own person highlights over the last year. Without doubt meeting and forming new friendships has been my highlight. I have been fortunate enough to attend a number of events over the last year where I  can honestly say I could not have been made feel more welcome.  One particular event stands out and thats the Netflix London lunch. I had the fear big time heading off to London with two fellow bloggers I had never met.  My fears were totally unfounded – Kellie of My Little Babog and Sinead of Bumbles of Rice were so nice and welcoming and I thoroughly enjoyed my time.

Im going to enjoy a nice cold glass of white wine to celebrate the year the was.  Here’s to another blogging year. Again a huge thanks to everybody who reads the blog and do keep any feedback or suggestions coming.

party

 

Take Care

~Mamma F

 

 

Features

Brilliant Buys To Keep The Kids Happy This Summer

The summer holidays are heading into the last few weeks and if you’ve managed to keep boredom at bay so far, you deserve a medal! If you’ve heard rumblings or you’re looking for new ideas, here are a few brilliant buys to keep the kids happy for the last few weeks.

Embracing Pokemon Go

pokemon_go_logoIf you’ve got older kids, the likelihood is that they’re tearing around searching for Pokemon. The new version of the retro classic has captivated kids all over the world. The good news is that there’s some great merchandise around. If you’re embracing the trend as a family, search online for Pokemon Go gear. You’ll find everything from caps to backpacks.

(Image source www.pokemongo.com)

Getting out and aboutairfield

It’s been a mixed summer so far in terms of the weather. But we’ve been lucky to enjoy a few days of sunshine and some warm evenings. The summer holidays offer a perfect excuse to get out into the garden and spend time together as a family. The range of outdoor toys is increasing year on year.  Invest in a modular climbing frame, which you can add to in the future. Buy some garden games like cricket, tennis or badminton. Have a look at sandpits and water trays for little ones. Go for aqua slides or water guns for older children, if your kids are like men water play provides hours of entertainment.

Finding Dory

The latest Pixar release has got everybody talking. If you’re a parent, you’ve probably already been pestered to book cinema tickets. If your kids are fans of Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, use this to encourage creativity. You can buy all kinds of crafts and art supplies adorned with their favourite characters. Look out for complete sets if you’re in need of an art cupboard clear out.

Paw Patrol

Paw Patrolpawpatrol is one of the most popular children’s TV programmes at the moment. If it’s a big hit in your home, try and channel your kids’ enthusiasm and create role play scenarios. You can buy fire engines, helicopters, and trucks. Encourage your kids to take on the roles of their favourite characters and have fun as a family. There are also lots of associated games you buy.  The big man got a brillant Paw Patrol board game for his 4th birthday.

 

Small world toys

Miniatures are big business in the toy industry this year. This type of toy is all about giving children a chance to act out real life scenarios. Small world toys give kids an appreciation of the world around them and encourage them to be imaginative. Playing together can improve their social and communication skills. Popular buys include Lego and miniature Disney Princesses and their pets. The beauty of ranges like Lego is that you can add to your collection over the course of time. There are also themes, which appeal to kids with a broad range of interests. You can buy everything from princesses in castles to mad scientists and dinosaur hunters.

The summer holidays are long (for parents maybe not so much for kids!), and even the most inventive parents may struggle to keep their brood entertained throughout. If you’re looking for inspiration for new toys, games, or treats, look no further. Hopefully, you’ve got weeks of family fun ahead!

 

 

 

Features

Changing #BoardroomEtiquette over time

I was asked to get involved in a campaign with Calibre Office Furniture  to discuss changes in #boardroometiquette over time. I jumped at the chance. I have been an Accountant for the past 12 years therefore have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of board room behaviour!

officeboarThe boardroom can be a scary place, many a deal is won and lost there, key decisions, multi million decisions are made there, decisions that can have huge ramifications. I still remember my first ever experience of being in a boardroom. It was 2003, I was in college going into my final year and the Partner in the Accounting firm suggested I come with her for the “experience”. I had and still have huge admiration for this woman, she was the only female partner in a firm with 20 other males. She was the ultimate #girlboss in my eyes.  

This was a time when boardrooms were getting a lot of media attention in the wake of Enron and the introduction of the Sarbanes Oxley Act.  I remember walking into the comany offices and the secretary in this particular firm was sitting directly outside the board room in an open plan office of about 100 people smoking!! It just wouldn’t happen now.

Female representation

The first thing that struck me that day was the fact the Partner I was there to support was the only female.  workstationThe gender diversity agenda is something that is coming to the fore in most organisations now but we still have a long way to go.  Improvement is good and its come a long way since 2003,  According to the Gender Diversity Index, in 2015, women held 17.9% of the board seats on Fortune 1000 companies. As of August 2015, only 2% of S&P 500 companies had all male boards of directors.[source] This is a huge and welcome improvement from 2005, when only 12% of S&P companies had at least one female director on their board.

Tips

Following the meeting, we walked back to the office and she gave me some advice that 13 years later is still ingrained in my brain. Simple but oh so effective.

  • KISS – Keep it Simple, stupid. As she pointed out, the board room generally isn’t the place for minutia, it’s the big picture, the final decision so don’t get bogged down in the detail.
  • Fix your chair! I may have laughed at this at the time but I most definitely do this. She told me to always fix your chair especially in a board room and there are lots of taller people (men maybe!!) that to rise up my chair so as not to look like the kid, be on the same level.  I love this advice and to this day always do this.
  • Don’t rise to it and never throw the toys of the pram……not much explanation needed here. Cool, calm and measured, if only it was that simple!
  • Have empathy for each other, despite differences of opinion, having empathy is so important.  

Thanks Calibre  for the opportunity. Have you any office/ boardroom stories to share? Would love to hear them.

 

Take Care

~Mamma F

 

Note: This is a collaborative post

Features, Mamma Reviews

Babymoov Review – Picnic time #stresslessweaning

As you know, I am a Babymoov blog ambassador, therefore I have been sent various products which will be getting a trial in the Mamma Fairy house. You may have seen my various tweets on our picnic outings – we travel up and down the country very regularly and the highlight for the boys is our picnics en route. Therefore when I was sent Babymoov products which were as I have been calling them “picnic friendly” I was thrilled.

Babymoov bowls

babymoovtubsI love these, genuinely i do. It’s a set of 6 different coloured bowls with lids with 250 ml capacity.  It the size of these that works for me. My 2 boys are such different stages so when we are out and about im bringing a variety of different items for them to eat. I used to find most bowls id bring were either two big or too small, however for these portion size works for us.  As an aside, my older man (almost 4) loves taking a different one to playschool lunch each day. For him its a surprise what colour Mama has put his lunch in.  They are also microwave, freezer and dishwasher safe.  They can be a little tricky to close but once you get the hang of its not an issue.

 

Babymoov lunch set

If somebody told me before I have kids that id be writing a post extolling the benefits of a lunch set id say they were mad! But this is just the cutest, most practical lunch set I have used.  babymoovThe plate itself has edges that go quite far up which is perfect for my boys who just can’t sit still! It means a lot less is dropped, (aka mama if fell off the plate by itself!).  I also love the packaging on this. It makes an  ideal practical gift for a new baby or for a child’s birthday.  It’s a full melamine set including a bowl, plate, spoon, fork and a cup.  lunchsetThe cup is perfect for our picnics, it’s a great size and in the words of my 3 year old like a grown up one! There are a couple of different designs, we have the teddy bear one. The range of products make it ideal from weaning right up. It is being used by both of my boys. 

Check out the gorgeous packaging on this lunch set.  Well worth its Stg£29.99 price tag. For more information on the above products see Babymoov. Thanks to Babymoov for letting me be part of ther exciting #stresslessweaning campagin.

 

Note: I was sent the above amongst other products to review however all views/opinions are my own or my boys where relevant.

 

Features

How Children Benefit from Holidays and Travel

Delighted to have Diane Pearce guest posting this month, Diane is an entrepreneur who has been buying and letting holiday cottages for 15 years. She is passionate about providing last-minute getaways to those seeking a retreat. She now owns BimbleBox, a popular holiday cottage rental website that exists to provide beautiful and affordable escapes to remember.

 

The school summer holidays are fast approaching, and parents all over the country are making decisions about what to do and how to keep their children busy. Tempting though it might be to allow our children to sleep in, spend hours on their consoles and while away the days watching the latest YouTube sensations, choosing to instead travel with your children provides a whole host of advantages.

Travels and adventures don’t have to come in the form of trips abroad to see the Great Pyramids, Niagara Falls or the Great Wall of China. There are so many cities, towns and villages to explore that you will be spoiled for choice. Once you make the decision to escape on a family holiday, you can rest easy knowing that you are making a significant and positive impact on your children’s lives in the following ways.


You will increase their appreciation for the world around them

Children are naturally curious, and feeding this healthy curiosity is something we should prioritise where possible. Taking our children to new places and letting them experience new things gives them a fresh perspective on their place in the world. They begin to realise how much more there is to life, which feeds their appetite for excitement and introduces them to new forms of fun and happiness. In this way, it becomes clear that travel really does broaden the mind.


You will get them accustomed to change

suitcaseWhen children never deviate from their daily routine, or have to forfeit control, they become completely unaccustomed to change and as such, don’t learn how to deal with it. Taking children on holidays from an early age allows them to develop coping strategies for change and stress. If their beach holiday gets ruined by rain or they don’t get their own room on their cottage holiday, they begin to learn that sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned, ultimately helping them to become more flexible, patient and easy-going adults.


You’ll help to develop their confidence

When children are continually exposed to new experiences and are encouraged to try new things, they develop a sense of accomplishment while building their independence and self-confidence. Though psychologists debate the realities of whether confidence is a result of nature or nurture, parents can certainly do what they can by providing them with opportunities to grow. Children regularly faced with changes will become confident dealing with diversity and unexpected outcomes. This will prove useful as they grow up into responsible adults, who will need this capacity in their work lives.


You’ll provide opportunities to learn and grow

When we go travelling, our minds aren’t often left unstimulated. We tend to go out, visit museums, art galleries or historic attractions, all of which provide opportunities to learn. These experiences widen children’s horizons and give education a real-world context while making them fun. For example, you could take your children out to a science museum, where they can learn about static electricity by making their hair stand on end, or you could take them to Dinosaur Adventure in Norfolk, where you can learn about dinosaurs while having an amazing time.


You’ll foster closer family bonds

Going on holiday as a family provides dedicated, quality bonding time which in turn provides memories that children carry with them forever. Psychologists have suggested that when family members spend time together and engage in mutual activities, they are building meaningful connections in the form of ‘crescive bonds’. You don’t have to spend much money to foster this bond; it can be forged by a game of football, cards or a play in the park.siblings

This last point is undoubtedly the most important. Research from the Family Holiday Association suggests that family holidays make up most of our happiest memories. 49% of Britons stated that their happiest memory resulted from a family holiday, while 55% of adults agreed that these same family holidays provided comforting memories that would stay with them forever. 24% even went as far as saying that they would recall these family holiday moments in times of stress or difficulty, to help them get through, using them as a ‘happiness anchor’.


Holiday advice for an ideal getaway

If you’re eager to provide a childhood holiday never to be forgotten, try to make it a collaborative experience. We are lucky enough to live in a diverse country, where each town offers something unique and interesting. Consider your child’s opinion; would they prefer a bucket-and-spade beach holiday or would they prefer a countryside retreat where they can go for a family walk through the nearby woods?

 

Many thanks for Diane for the above.

 

 

Features

Babymoov brand ambassador #stresslessweaning

You might have noticed the new #stresslessweaning tab on the header, well….I was delighted to become a Babymoov ambassador. blog ambAs a result over the coming months you will see lots of weaning posts and we will be putting some Babymoov products to the test. Babymoov has just also launched its first mobile application specially dedicated to food for baby:  “Cooking Babyfood” can be downloaded on Google Play Store right now and will soon be available on iOS.

I was fortuante enough to be able to chat to the Babymoov Nutritionist Julia, who kindly answered my questions in relation to begining the weaning journey.

Mamma Fairy – I have such a fear of choking at what stage can I leave him bits to chew himself?

Julia – Finger foods can be introduced from around 6-7 months and this can include soft pieces of meat. Offer big pieces that baby can grab and hold easily, then chew off manageable amounts, rather than small cut up bits that would likely be put into the mouth completely and possibly lead to more risk of choking. Many parents are very worried about choking, its perfectly understandable, but delaying lumps and pieces means that babies will be less equipped to deal with them later. Be brave – maybe have a friend or someone there for moral support?

Mamma Fairy – Stream v boil is the difference in nutrient content with one over the other significant?

Julia – Yes, some vitamins (e.g. B & C) are water-soluble so cooking with lots of water means the nutrients can leach out. Use minimal water when cooking veg, that’s why steaming or microwaving are usually recommended over boiling.

Mamma Fairy – Foods to help with constipation and those to avoid more so for my toddler but want to help prevent with baby toddler did suffer bad.

Julia – 2 things are important for preventing and managing constipation: fluid and fibre. Make sure your toddler is drinking enough water – maybe give a little well-diluted orange juice each day. Fruit and veg provide both fluid and fibre so plenty should be offered over the course of the day. Dried fruit like raisins can be useful e.g. in breakfast cereal. Offer some wholemeal bread and wholegrain cereals (e.g. Weetabix) to give extra fibre, though please be aware that too much isn’t recommended as it can be bulky and fill up small tummies too much. See GP or specialist if necessary.

We have just opened the box on the Nutri baby so looking forward to trying this out. Lots of updates to follow. nutribaby

 

For more information on the brand and the products themselves please see Babymoov website.

 

Features

Some useful tips including ebook – living and sleeping with arthritis

I was asked recently to contribute to an ebook in collaboration with Adjustable Beds.   I had previously written a review of a product which my mother and my husband had reviewed with regard to their own arthritis symptoms (see here) . Arthritis is a condition they both suffer with to varying degrees therefore I am acutely aware of the challenges both day to day and in particular sleeping that this condition can create.

I was delighted to be able to use the experience of my mother and husband in the hope that it would help somebody else in that position. Below is the quote I submitted having spoken to my family re their top tip.

“A warm shower and some gentle exercise first thing helps loosen the joints and move more freely during the day

 

Link to  arthritis-ebook

Hopefully this tips featured in the book will be of some help.

 

Take care

~Mamma F

 

Note: This is a collaberative post

Features, Mamma Musings

Preparing for a return to the corporate world!

 

annoyin

This one is a little light hearted, a little tongue in cheek, its my last post while on maternity leave!

The corporate world beckons from Monday morning. Its bitter sweet, I am looking forward to going back – child free toilet breaks, hot coffee, adult conversation but I will undoubtedly miss my wee men. I have been home with the pair of them for best part of a year and I will really miss them.  On the bright side they are in very safe hands with the legend that is The Nanna Fairy.

I was sent this info graphic and did laugh at how spot on it actually is! The info graphic (see opposite) was produced by www.gotomeeting.co.uk and depicts the  50 “most annoying” or most used corporate phrases used. Having a look through it a lot of these are creeping into everyday parlance also.

There are a couple from that list that drive me to the brink!!

My personal pet hates –

  • “ducks in a row” aaarrrggghhhhh – ducks where are the ducks??! Seriously no ducks, no more mentions of ducks, whats wrong with – “get organised”??

 

  • “bite the bullet – ok, nobody here is biting bullets! You are perhaps making a tough decision, your in business, its an important decision, its expected. Lets talk “tough decisions” instead.

 

  • “Going forward” – no just no, I have never and I will never use this phrase.

 

There are a couple from the list I haven’t heard of. Perhaps I should go back to the office to start “opening the kimono” or “looking across the piece”!

Anybody else have pet hates from this list??

Would love to hear them.

For now im about to take this off line while I get my ducks in row, to ensure I hit the ground running while thinking outside the box!!!

Take care

~Mamma F

 

Note: This is a collaborative post, thanks to www.gotomeeting.co.uk for the graphic