Eating Out Review: Prezzo

Following our trip to Wagamama a few weeks back, this time we went around the corner to Prezzo – of all the italian style chains this has been one of our favourites, particularly as they usually have really good offers!  It’s all about finding the bargains!

I ate here a few times when pregnant – pasta was one food that I couldn’t stomach during pregnancy, even looking at it was a complete no no so not sure why I ended up in Prezzo in the first place, however the lasagne went down so well that I had to go back! I was wondering if the taste of  it might have rubbed off on E!

What I love about Prezzo is that they don’t just have a generic kids menu – which in most restaurants is aimed at bigger kids, and the smaller ones just have to like it or lump it – they also have a tots menu (aimed at those up to age 5).  It’s £3.95 for three courses and a drink, which is excellent value.

So, what’s on the menu?

Considering it’s aimed at those ‘with smaller tummies’, the portion sizes were pretty generous.  There’s only one starter – garlic bread, which comes with or without cheese; two choices for the main course – either pasta (with a choice of 3 basic sauces) or a small margherita pizza (with a choice of three toppings).  Dessert is either ice cream in a choice of flavours or a fresh banana, then either juice or squash for the drink.

E polished off the garlic bread (this is always a winner), but the tomatoey pasta mainly got launched on the floor.  We realised pizza may have been the preferred option when bits of Daddy’s meal were sneakily snaffled off his plate. Of course the ice cream was polished off, no problem.  We turned the drink down in favour of our own water – as I’m a mean mummy who hasn’t let E taste juice or squash yet!

The paper menu included puzzles and various things to colour in, however E decided that the crayons were much tastier than the pasta so these were swiftly hidden at the other end of the table!

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Results:

Food: 4/5 standard italian fayre, nothing adventurous
Service: 3/5 – could be friendlier
Baby-friendly: 5/5 separate menu, clean highchairs, colouring activities
Toilets/baby-change: 3/5 clean and tidy, nothing special

Total: 15/20

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The Story of E – Season Three Recap

Well as you can see I’m a bit late with this one – should have been done at the end of December but what with Christmas and everything else (see my last post!), well I hope I can be forgiven for the slight delay!

What’s she up to?

Well it’s no wonder I’ve not been able to post much on here – so much happened between 6-9 months! Everyone always told me that once we hit 6 months that’s when the real fun begins and boy were they right! She’s a right little character now and learning so much. Where should I start!

Weaning

I guess the biggest change we’ve had is that E is now on solid foods. I was really looking forward to weaning E, I couldn’t wait to see her little face when she tried new tastes and textures but there was also part of me that was dreading it… what if she hated everything?

E was about 25 weeks when we started weaning – we wanted to wait until as near to 6 months as possible as per the recommended age. I know many people do it earlier but we just didn’t feel E was ready any earlier than this.

I’d been reading a lot about Baby Led Weaning (BLW) before we started but I decided that I wanted to start with purees and spoon feeding, just to see what she was like with different tastes.

I 100% agree with the principles of BLW, I just wanted to be selfish for a little bit as I think it’s just so cute feeding a baby! I made up a few different purees to start with (carrot, sweet potato, broccoli, parsnip, apple, pear) and froze small portions of them in ice cube trays, so it was really simple when it came to mealtimes. We did this for a few weeks before starting to introduce more textures and flavours. I’d like to say I did all the cooking myself, but I must admit to cheating a little bit. I did carry on making different purees and mash, but as I am often lacking in imagination when it comes to cooking we did make use of various jars and pouches in the early days until we had become a little bit more confident with what she liked/didn’t like.

We did move onto BLW quite quickly – my confidence was a bit shaky to start with as I couldn’t bear the gagging reflexes however I persisted as I knew it was all a part of E’s learning experience – and mine!
I’ll write about this in more detail in another post but while I was at this early stage of weaning, I completed an infant first aid course run by Millie’s Trust. It was scary but I’m glad I did it and I do think it’s helped me get over my fears.

E is a pretty confident little eater now – although she’s still a little bit picky with certain things, however she’s still young and I’m sure certain things will come with time. There are certain foods that are flavour of the month, yet next week I know she won’t eat them. Sometimes she likes to pick things up herself, other days she’ll want me to spoon feed her. I guess it’s all a bit trial and error but we’ll get there.

We’re currently transitioning onto cups and cutlery – this will be fun. I’m just glad the weather is getting a bit warmer as I’m think introducing naked feeding time is a must at this stage!!

Crawling

And I was panicking when E started to roll… that was nothing compared to the speed she now gets across that floor!
The crawling came at about 7 months – no signs then all of a sudden, zoom…. she was chasing after an IKEA catalogue that I’d flung on the floor! Weirdly I was heading to IKEA later that afternoon so I’m sure it was some sort of sign!
Since then there’s been no stopping her – I just feel sorry for our poor cat. She was confused enough when E was immobile but now she has a little terror chasing after her and trying to grab her tail wherever she moves to!

Teeth

Oh the dreaded teeth! It seems likes she’s been teething since about 10 weeks but with no sign of anything in her gums I did start to wonder if they’d ever appear, getting all the more jealous of other babies who already had about 6 teeth and were confidently chewing on food! Little did I know that when they did arrive I’d be wishing them back to whence they came!

Teething must really suck if you’re a baby – toothache is such a horrible thing as an adult so for a little one who can’t express what they’re going through it’s just horrible to see them going through this.
I actually think we’ve been quite lucky with E’s teeth compared to some other stories I’ve heard but even so, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

We had three nightmarish nights when the first tooth decided to show – it didn’t help at all that for one of them we were staying with family and E was in a travel cot. No sleep for the household that night.
We’d begun with a very hot clingy baby, a rash and then a few sporadic sleepless nights with the worst one being while we were away. The next morning the tooth had popped through and there was a sea of calm!

We’ve got six teeth so far – two bottom and four top. After the banshee inducing crying with the first tooth, the remaining five didn’t give us so much of a peep. She’s obviously hardened up to the fact now!
Seriously though, I do hope that the rest don’t give her too much trouble but I believe the molars are pretty bad. We are preparing ourselves for the worst!

What’s next

Well as I’ve been so late with this blog, it won’t be long til my next update when E is 1!! Scary how fast that time has gone!

Eating Out Review: Wagamama

Since E was very young we’ve never shied away from taking her to restaurants – both her dad and I are real food lovers, and we’re hoping it will rub off.  We want her to get used to trying new tastes and to feel comfortable in restaurants – meaning that we can enjoy the experience all together as a family.

The first time we took E out for a meal, she was only around 6 week old and she just happily snoozed away in her car seat under the table!  Now she’s older and eating real food, I really enjoy being able to pop her in her high chair and let her experience the same things that we do.

Now we’re not a huge fan of chain restaurants and generally prefer to eat at more local, independent places, however for the purposes of this blog, the larger restaurant chains are going to be more well known to the majority of people, as opposed to the little cafe round the corner from our house so we will be trying a few more out – and as I’ve found many of them are very well equipped for families so are ideal for introducing baby to eating out, without too much stress!

Wagamama is actually one chain that I’ve never had an issue with.  We have an abundance of chinese restaurants and a handful of decent thai places but that’s really as far as oriental cuisine goes round here – so having a wagamama on our doorstep is actually very welcome.

We decided to head here with a couple of friends (also with baby in tow) on a Sunday lunchtime – due to the location we knew it would be busy so called to book, forgetting their policy of no bookings for tables under 8 people.  However, when we told them we had two young babies with us, they waived their usual rules and were happy to book us in.  So far so good!

On arrival, we were shown to a table at the back of the restaurant – I had completely forgotten about the layout of the tables (long benches) in Wagamamas and had a mild panic about where they were going to fit us in with two highchairs!  No need to worry, they give you ones that clip to the table!

Phil and Ted

Have you ever used a Phil and Ted highchair?  They’re pretty cool!

When we’ve taken E to restaurants previously, we’ve always either taken our own food – particularly when we were just beginning weaning, or she’s eaten off our plates, but we decided to try something off the kids menu this time.

The staff in the restaurant were brilliant and really friendly with the babies – we’re familiar with the adult menu but they were happy to go through the children’s dishes with us explaining what each one consisted of, so we could make an easy decision.

My all time favourite dish at Wagamamas is the classic Katsu Curry and I was so excited to see that they did  a mini version of it too – including a vegetarian option of Yasai (Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato).  I ordered the latter for E – she’s not a massive fan of chicken (or any meat for that matter) so we thought this would go down well.  The dish arrived very well presented – with a small portion of sticky white rice, a decent size portion of the Yasai, plus a salad of grated carrot, cucumber and sweetcorn.  The curry itself came in a separate dish which meant E wouldn’t have to eat it if she didn’t like it.

For around £4, it was pretty good value for money, and it seemed like a pretty healthy option. The portion size was probably more suited to a slightly older child but it wasn’t overwhelming for a baby or toddler, particularly if you are used to baby-led weaning.  And of course any left over, was obviously going to be polished off by me or her dad anyway!

All round I’d highly recommend it – it’s nice to see a kids menu that’s not all burgers and fish fingers – and as E seemed to love it we’ll  definitely go back.

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Results:

Food: 5/5 tasty and fresh, miniature portions of the adult menu
Service: 4/5 – friendly, smily staff – happy to explain the menu
Baby-friendly: 4/5 great menu, cool highchairs – not much space for large prams – we put our umbrella fold under the table, but if we’d had the larger buggy we’d be a bit stuck.  Take your sling!
Toilets/baby-change: 4/5 spotlessly clean – I didn’t use the babychange here but my friend said it was fine!

Total: 17/20

It’s been a while!

Here I am back again – it’s been a while since I last posted. There’s obviously a lot with E to catch up on but this is a post just about me!

Under the Weather

The main reason for my absence is that for the past few months I feel like I’ve been fighting off illness after illness. It’s not been a brilliant time to be honest.
I got a cold around mid-October and since then it’s just been one thing after another. It took me about 6 weeks to shake off the cold and then just after Christmas I ended up with a stint in hospital. The doctors thought I had a blood clot and I had to go through a whole rigmarole of tests to discover it was actually gastro related but it was a scary time. I was given medication for that which seemed to help but just a few days later I got tonsillitis.

I haven’t had tonsillitis for 18 years, so it was a bit of a shock to the system. Back then I was told off for kissing too many boys! I promise I haven’t been doing any of that this time around!

The tonsillitis seemed to clear up pretty quickly but then turned into a nasty ear infection. It was so painful and I couldn’t hear properly for about 2 weeks (which came in handy in a few situations!) I was overjoyed when my hearing finally came back though. Once the infection had cleared up I thought I was over the worst of it, only to be hit by another cold followed by an even worse bout of tonsillitis. I’ve really not been having much luck.

Keep taking the pills

I can’t tell you how many antibiotics I’ve been on since the New Year – I really don’t like taking medication if I can help it and I’m all about the prevention rather than the cure but unfortunately everything I had was too nasty just to leave so antibiotics it had to be.

E has been pretty lucky and managed to avoid most of my illnesses – we’ve had a few days when she’s not been too well but she’s a little fighter and she generally makes a full recovery after 24 hours, while I’m still lagging behind with my rubbish immune system. E has started nursery now so she’s bound to pick up a few bugs here and there – I’ve never been too bothered about her getting ill, as long as it’s nothing serious. I’m of the thinking that the more things she gets at a young age, the more her immunity will build up so she’s super healthy when she’s older!

She did manage to pick up conjunctivitis last week – one of the most contagious things ever. After fighting to put drops in her eye (have you ever tried to administer eye drops to a strong, wriggly, screaming baby? I have no useful advice apart from to go back to the doctor and get cream, i’m sure it’d be so much easier) it cleared up within a few days but lo and behold who was the next person to get it? Yes me, her already poorly mummmy!

So here I am writing this blog with a lovely red, crusty eye – having the same issues of trying to get the eye drops into my own eye. Seriously who invented these things?

Building up Immunity

I don’t know if my low immune system has anything to do with having a baby. Throughout my pregnancy I wasn’t ill once (not counting morning sickness), I didn’t even have the slightest of snuffles. In fact I’ve never felt more healthy than in those 9 months – the ‘blooming’ phase was just so true for me. When E was tiny, I remained pretty healthy but then it’s like after a few months someone switched off my immune system and I’m under attack.

Most of my friends who are new mothers have experienced a similar thing, although none seem to have had it quite as bad as me. We assume that when the baby is born we pass on most of our immunity to them and then we need to build it back up again, it’s obviously just that some take a bit longer than others!

I have started taking vitamins now – I really wish I’d started earlier. If you’re reading this and you’ve just given birth, then start taking your vitamins now and hopefully you’ll avoid the immunity slump further down the line.

I’m hoping that there’s no other illnesses waiting around the corner to ambush me – I would just like normal service to resume as soon as possible!

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Exciting Times – My new venture!

So as if I haven’t or enough to do looking after a baby, I’ve decided to set up a business!

I hope you like some of the stuff I’ve done?

It’s a hobby turned business really, I’ve had some lovely comments on the work that I’ve done and a few requests from friends so I thought I’d open it up to the wider world and see what happened!

I’m not expecting to make my millions from it (although you never know do you!)
I’ll still be returning to my ‘normal’ job at the end of my Maternity Leave but just using my spare time to set up on my own.

Most of the work I do is done in the evening once E has gone to bed so I’ll still have plenty of time to spend with her on my days off. It probably means less time to do the housework but is that such a bad thing??

Want to take a peek at my shop?
Then take a look at my new Facebook page here

I hope you like it… And if you do please click the like button. I’m hopefully going to run a competition for a freebie once I get to the landmark 100 likes so click away.

And don’t forget Christmas is just around the corner…

The Story of E – Season Two Recap

So following on from the Season One recap – here we are already at the end of Season Two (3-6 months)! It’s really scary how fast it’s going. Where’s my little newborn gone?

What’s she up to?

We’re on the move!! Okay so we haven’t mastered crawling yet but you can’t put E down on the floor without her rolling from one end of the room to another, so you still need eyes in the back of your head. She rolled for the first time on our holiday and since then there’s been no stopping her.
Just recently I’ve had to borrow a playpen off a friend in order to contain her while I get the housework done otherwise there’s no telling where she ends up. She’s such an inquisitive baby and seems to be drawn towards all the things she shouldn’t, such as remote controls and tv cables!! I didn’t think I’d need to start baby-proofing the house until she could crawl – I was so wrong!!

She’s also great at sitting up and relished the opportunity to sit and play with some of her toys – by playing, I mean bashing stuff on the ground but it’s very cute!
Top Tip: Buy your baby some stacking cups – I got some from Ikea for about £2.  E loves them and they are her go to toy at the moment. Every baby I know who has them absolutely loves them – such a simple thing!

We’re getting lots more smiles and giggles – which melt my heart. Seeing her giggling the other day with my friends little boy was just adorable.
And despite teaching her everyday to say ‘Mama’ she’s only gone and said ‘Dada’ instead! I think someone has been teaching her in secret when mummy isn’t looking!
We’ve had our first holiday, first wedding, first Christening – it’s been a busy few months but loving every minute of it.

There are still ups and downs, including teething which isn’t a pleasant experience, but I wouldn’t change the rest of it for the world!

Next season preview:  Weaning, moving rooms and looking for a nursery (boohoo!)

Here is E at 6 months:

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Are mother & baby groups worth going to?

Mother and baby groups can conjure up a number of images.

Of course they can be great for babies development; learning lots of new skills and experiencing different surroundings.  For mums it can be the chance to meet other like-minded folk with similar worries or aspirations, spark up some new friendships or at the very least, a way to stop going stir-crazy from staring at the same four walls for days on end.

However, they can also put the fear of god into someone like me, who although very sociable, can be painfully shy when it comes to meeting new people.  Would I walk into a group to find a competitive coffee-drinking clique who would tut at my silly questions and obsess over our feeding and sleeping habits?

The Lazy Daisy Chain

E was only 6 weeks old when I attended the first group which was part of the Lazy Daisy franchise.  (You may have heard of Lazy Daisy via One Born Every Minute or if you follow Tom from McFly’s wife, Giovanna Fletcher).
I’d heard that Baby Massage was good for babies with reflux (which E appeared to be suffering from at the time) and as none of the free classes were running locally I thought I’d bite the bullet and sign up for a paid class.
Most classes that you have to pay for aren’t cheap – which is why I’ve not attended many – unfortunately statutory maternity pay doesn’t really stretch that far!  This one worked out around £6.50 per class for 5 weeks and each class lasted around 45 minutes – with time before and after to get settled, chat to the other mums or just sit with a cuppa and a biscuit (included in the price thankfully!)

The Lazy Daisy classes were nice and relaxed – and very much baby led so any feeding/crying/nappy changes could be dealt with, without feeling you were interrupting anything.  The sessions included various songs/nursery rhymes to accompany the baby massage sections, and a little added exercise at the beginning for mum and a relaxation session at the end.  It was all very gentle and natural and quite a calming way to spend an hour.

I didn’t go with the intention of making any new mum friends which is just as well as I didn’t!  It was a very small group, and don’t get me wrong they were all lovely, but I could tell from the first week that there wasn’t going to be any lasting relationships made.  Perhaps it was just new mum nerves but no one in the group seemed to click and we all went our separate ways at the end of the course.

 Surestart Baby Massage

Several weeks later I attended another baby massage course which was more local to me and it couldn’t have been more different!  This was a free course run by Surestart at our local children’s centre.  (Check out what’s going on at your nearest children’s centre in case you’re missing out – some of our local ones are fantastic!)
This course was literally just about massage so the techniques were much more in depth than the Lazy Daisy course and I really enjoyed doing it.  We were also given a booklet to take home, which included all the various positions/techniques so we could carry on doing it at home.

The mums who attended were all very different – from all walks of like but all very down to earth and very chatty.  There were one or two who didn’t come back after week 1, however those of us who stayed all got on and it was nice to see them each week.  At the end of the course, I stayed in touch with another mum, who in fact only lives around the corner from me and since then I  have seen her and her little boy quite a few times.  We’re a similar age and seem to have similar things in common and it’s been lovely to spend time with them.  Not a bad result from a free baby group!

Baby Bounce and Rhyme

We’ve occasionally attended another group together at our local library – Baby Bounce and Rhyme.  Basically half an hour of Nursery Rhymes and music suitable for singing to your little ones by bouncing them up and down on your knee.  It’s also a free class that is run by the local authority – SMP stretches further when you can make the most of the freebies!
I don’t go to this every week, but E does love it.  There’s songs which she loves that I’ve never ever heard of – but I’ve swiftly had to become an expert at them seeing as she enjoys them so much!
If you’re thinking of attending a group but aren’t sure I’d just say go for it! Certainly try out any free groups that get the chance to.
If you don’t like it, you don’t need to go back and you’ve not wasted any money.  You might love it and it might become part of your weekly routine, and you may meet some lovely new friends.   You’ll never know unless you try!

I don’t think groups are something that will become a regular part of our lives but having the opportunity to try them out has been great – and I now know where they are if I ever just need to get out and do something a bit different.