Back to School Dos & Don'ts

It's that time of year again, Back to School! (Although a lot of stores seem to have started their Back to School campaigns before the schools even broke up for the summer!!)  So I thought I'd put together some of my hints & tips to help prepare for the first day back at school.

  • Don't leave uniform purchasing until the last minute.  It's surprising how many people do, then have to trawl around multiple shops trying to get the uniform bits that they need.  
  • Be realistic about what you need to buy.  Do you want to constantly be washing uniform?  If not then it's wise to buy multiples of things to save trying to get jumpers dry in the middle of winter, ready for the next day.  Does your child really need 4 jumpers right now?  While it's still relatively warm it might be worth putting off buying lots of jumpers- in my experience they soon get whipped off at school and shoved into bags/drawers/a box because they get too warm.
  • Label your child's uniform. Especially if they go to a school where uniform with logos on is part of the uniform.  I have spent far too much time sorting through 15 identical jumpers trying to work out which belongs to which child.  You can go as basic as writing your child's name with biro on the washing label, up to buying personalised iron/sew in labels.  The same goes for polo shirts, PE kit, bags, shoes even!  There will often be multiple children with identical clothing to your child, and it's a lot more likely to come home if it's labelled!  (I once went through a stage where everytime a child took a jumper off I had to write their name in it.  It just wastes valuable time.)
  • Make sure you know what time your child starts and finishes school on the first day. Especially important if your child is just starting school and has staggered days where they may not be attending for a full day.  There's nothing worse than being late on your child's first day, or being late collecting them on their first day.
What are your best Back to School hints and tips?

Potty training Dos & Don'ts from a Nursery perspective

Do send your child in clothes they can pull up & down themselves. There's nothing worse than a potty training child coming into nursery in dungarees. Yes they look cute, but when it comes to potty training they are the devil's plaything!  90% of children I've seen who've come to Nursery in dungarees cannot undo them by themselves.

Don't put your child in a pull-up for months & expect potty training to just happen.  I'm not a fan of pull-ups, they're basically nappies shaped like pants. A child needs to feel the wetness from having done a wee and pull-ups just don't achieve that.  Plus some children can be lazy and would rather do it in their pull-up than walk to the bathroom and use the toilet.

Do send your child into Nursery with lots of spare clothes- underwear, socks and bottoms are your best bet.  (I've seen far too many children with 10 tops in their bags but 1 pair of pants & 1 pair of trousers!)  You can pick up packs of underwear, socks and leggings/tracksuit bottoms cheaply in Primark/supermarkets.

Don't yell at or belittle your child if they do have an accident.  Accidents happen to all, even those who may have been toilet trained for a while.  Telling your child off makes them feel ashamed of what they've done, and they're less likely to want to admit when they've had an accident in the future.

Do be prepared for having extra washing.  Again, accidents do happen.  One parent I know off will automatically throw clothes in the bin if her child has done a number 2 in them rather than wash them!

Don't send your child to Nursery in their favourite pants/trousers/skirt/dress.  I've had to look after several completely distraught children when they've had accidents and wet their favourite clothes

Sunday Introduction- Cassie and Light Up Zander's Life

Time for another Sunday Introduction post.  This week I'm talking to the lovely Cassie about her fundraising work inspired by her amazing son Zander.

1)Tell us a little bit about yourself and Zander 
I’m Cassie, Full time SAHM & Carer for our middle child Zander. Zander has just turned four.  He was born with heart defects, has had open heart surgeries, eating issues, has a pacemaker, has been diagnosed on the Autistic spectrum. He is an amazing little boy & is very unique.

Zander after his first open heart surgery

A happy chappy Zander home from hospital

2)Tell us about Light up Zander's Life, what prompted you to start it? 
Light Up Zander’s Life was initially thought of & set up by my good friend Kim Richardson. She knows how much Zander struggles with sensory issues & how expensive sensory items are. But we are doing well promoting LUZL & we have decided once funds are raised for Zander to continue fund raising to become a registered charity lighting up Children’s lives with disabilities.

Zander in his last week at Nursery

3)What is your initial aim for Light up Zander's Life? What sort of impact will reaching this have on Zander's life?
Initial aims is for sensory Hides, indoor & outdoor, bubble tubes, and other sensory Items. He will have a much calmer, less stressed daily life.  He will feel safe & secure and be able to be alone as he pleases. 

The first item funded by LUZL, a magic teepee

4) Once you've reached your initial aim, what will come next for you? 
Becoming a registered Charity & help others like Zander. 

5) How can people find out more about the Zander and your fundraising efforts? They can look up our page on Facebook: here Also our auction page: here They can follow me or Kim on Twitter: Cassie and Kim

6) How can people help Light Up Zander's Life? 
Contact myself or Kim, donate items to our Auctions, to a fund raising event themselves, buy a LUZL wristband £1.50 plus P&P. 

LUZL wristband
 A big thank you to Cassie for taking the time to answer my questions.  If anyone else would like to take part in Sunday Introduction and talk about their business/blog/charity work then please get in touch.

Thursday Throwback- Sibling love circa 2011

Back in 2011 I was working as a supply teacher, so I had the advantage of having the summer holidays off so I could spend as much time as I liked with my friends and their kids.  Fast forward to 2014 and I'm working in a Nursery and having to book leave to do things!

In 2011 I spent a lot of time with Vicky and her kids, and being snap happy with the camera managed to snap quite a few photos of Sophie and Ryan's exploits!  SO my Thursday Throwback this week is reliving some of the fun.

Exploits on the local park

Such a look of adoration here. :)
Quietly contemplating how to copy the big bro

Anything Ryan can do...

See-saw...the harmony didn't last long if I remember right!

Offering a helping hand
Other exploits...

We're lucky enough to have the National Space Centre here, and this was out first visit with one of Ryan's friends.  Sophie was a bit young to appreciate everything, but still had fun!

Feeding the goats in the rain at Gorse Hill City Farm.  Hopefully something we won't be repeating in a few weeks at another farm park!

Bus friends!  They used to love the novelty of riding a bus somewhere instead of going in the car.

Not entirely sure what they're doing here, I have a vague memory of Sophie ending up sat on Ryan's head!

What memories do you have of playing with your sibling/s?

Wednesday Wishlist- clothes!

Now, if this was a completely idealistic wishlist I'd be looking at all the skinny minnie clothes websites to match the skinny minnie body I'd need to wear said clothes.  But I'm not, I'm cuddly & look more like an apple than a stick insect.  Nevertheless, I'm a bit of a sucker for clothes!  Mostly nice casual stuff, as I have to wear smart trousers for work.

Evans black straight leg trousers  £25. Sadly the website is highly irritating and won't let me either save the photo or get the url of it, as it only lets me rolls over the image for a zoom!  I'm sure everyone knows what black trousers look like.  These are my go to work trousers- I did have 3 pairs but had to have 1 pair cut when I injured my knee (and a right mess the A&E nurse made as well!).  My other 2 pairs have seen better days, so 3 pairs would be ace!

Evans floral print swim dress  £25.  Another Evans item so no image, which is a shame as this is such a pretty one! Evans is one of the only stores I've seen that do swimming costumes by dress size and cup size.  I'm a 24 but quite busty and when I've looked elsewhere at costumes that are just done by dress size, I'm in danger of popping out and giving everyone nighmares!  I used to love swimming and haven't been for a few years now, so maybe a new costume would get me going again?!

Converse Star Player Re-mastered Trainers £45 from Schuh.
Hurrah, a photo!  I love Converse, although they don't always love me!  (I'm quite flat footed & they don't have a massive amount of arch support)  I already have 3 pairs in grey & turquoise, lilac & navy, but could do with a black pair.  I like the slightly different styling on these.

Purple cropped trousers £15 from Yours. 

I've pretty much lived in cropped trousers since injuring my knee, they're comfy, they help to keep you cool and I could get them on over my plaster cast!  I've got a range of colours in my cropped trousers, but no purple.  In fact 90% of my cropped trousers are from Yours- they last well and the staff in their stores are always lovely!

Floral top £15  from Yours.

I'm such a sucker for a nice top- I think tops outnumber pretty much everything else in my wardrobe!  I love the floral detail on the shoulders of this one, very pretty!

Sunday Introduction- Lisa from Lisa's Dummy Clips and Glitzy Bitz

1)Tell us a little bit about yourself
I'm Lisa. I live with my partner Micky and our 6 month old baby girl Sophie. I work in a call centre on a sales team.
2)Tell us about Lisa's Dummy Clips and Glitzy Bitz, what prompted you to start the business? 
Lisa's Dummy Clips and Glitzy Bits is something I set up after having Sophie. I got her a dummy clip and realised I'd be able to make them myself. The glitzy bitz is jewellery, which is something I used to make and decided to get back into again. 

3) What has been your biggest success so far? 
My biggest success has been having to make 15 dummy clips in the space of a week.

                              Examples of Lisa's Dummy Clips

4) What are your favourite and least favourite parts of the business? 
My favourite part is knowing that there shouldn't be any dummies going missing! Least favourite part is waiting on new stock coming and hoping it doesn't get lost!  
Author's note: we've all been there with lost mail!!

5) What do you have planned for the next few months? 
In the next few months I will be bringing some jewellery lines in as we will be in the run up to Christmas soon. 

6)Where can people find out more about the products you're selling?
People can find my page on Facebook -  Lisa's Dummy Clips and Glitzy Bitz   

A big thank you to Lisa for taking part.  I've still got plenty of space for anyone else wanting to share their business/charity/blog.

Thursday throwback- leg gate

So those of you who are regular readers may have noticed me mentioning an injury I recently suffered, so rather than just alluding to it I thought it was time I actually shared with you all what actually happened!

The short version is I dislocated my knee.  The long version is slightly more interesting and involves me getting slightly high on gas and air!

It was a usal hectic morning at work, I'd had an apprentice not turn up for work and my manager was at her daughter's assembly so I was holding the fort.  I sorted out pre-school ready to take my kids through, dashed off to get them, and as the gate opened the doorbell rang (late apprentice!) and the next thing I knew I was lying on the floor.  I could feel some pain in my left knee, so I put my hand out to feel it to find it wasn't quite where it should be.  Calm as anything I called for one of my colleagues for help, then everything went into super speed!  My manager was called- luckily only a few minutes away.  The kids were ushered back into the room they'd been about to come out of, and a pillow was found for my head as I couldn't even attempt to get up without an awful amount of pain shooting through my knee.

Unsure what to do, one of my colleagues called 111, I answered the same questions several times and they decided it was probably best to send an ambulance for me.  My Mum was called (handily working at home that day) then it was a waiting game.

The lovely lovely paramedics turned up, took one look at my knee and decided it was time to get the trolley and the entonox.  They took my vitals, then stuck me on the gas and air.  It gets a bit hazy from here on out- I know the entonox made me dizzy so I closed my eyes.

They somehow got me upright, without any swearing, and somehow got me onto the trolley, again without any swearing.  I then remember getting worried my mum didn't have my bag or trainers, so asked about those about 10 times!  They whisked me off to A&E, into a bay & the next thing I knew there was a doctor there, who popped my knee back in with a small tug.  Then it was down to x-ray to have it x-rayed, then up to A&E again to have it plastered.  At this point I'd come down from the gas and air and was anticipating being told to rest for a few weeks.

Wrong!  They put dislocated knees into plaster to stop them popping out again!  I could've cried at this point!

Fresh home from hospital, plastered from ankle to mid-thigh & sporting a pair of massacred trousers!

 I spent nearly 4 weeks in plaster, which were a nightmare in terms of personal care and getting to sleep!  I ended up having a total of 10 weeks off work, but reached the point where I was going completely round the twist being stuck at home, so went back as soon as my GP would ok it!

I'm still having regular physio, my knee's still quite weak and I get tired easily walking without a crutch.  (Apparently that's my body working harder to get my knee to work 'normally') But I'm heading in the right direction, albeit slower than I'd have liked!

My slightly more colourful 2nd cast

Wednesday wishlist- Outdoor Play

One of the things our last Ofsted inspection picked up on, was the use of the outdoor space and our need to improve it.  We're hampered a little as we don't have a large space- we have a narrow concreted yard, with a small astroturfed section.  I'd love for us to invest in some more equipment, but funds are tight at the moment as we don't have a lot of space to store things.
But a girl can dream, so I've been having a browse on the Toys R Us website for some inspiration!

Little Tykes Climb and Slide Playhouse, £69.99, suitable for ages 18 months+.  Find it  here
This would be ideal for our younger children, it would give them chance to safely explore their climbing skills (as opposed to climbing on chairs and tables, yes I'm looking at you Mr A!!) and who doesn't love a good slide?!  We already have a large wooden playhouse, which the kids love.  They often turn it into an ice-cream shop when role-playing!

Stats Funny Tunnel, £9.99, ages 3+. Find it here
Something else that would be good for physical development, something to crawl through.  Plus it works well as a little hidey hole.

My First Swingball, £14.99, ages 3+.  Find it here
More physical development, and the perfect opportunity for the kids to practise their hand-eye co-ordination and their bat and ball skills.  Plus the ball's attached to the post so no having to annoy the neighbours with repeated requests to fetch the ball back!

Little Tikes Spiralin' Seas Water Table, £49.99, ages 2+.  Find it here
The kids LOVE water play, and this has the bonus of having some toys in-built.  I like the ball spiral in the middle too.

Plum Premium Wooden Activity Table With Benches, £219.99, ages 3+.  Find it here
I love the idea of this table, it has covers so it can be used as a regular table, which can be removed and used for sand play. Plus the seating is built in- bonus!

This post is not affiliated with Toys R Us in any way, I just like the products I've seen. :)

Terrific Twos

Normally when people talk about two year-olds the mind tends to leap to the 'terrible twos', and forget about the positives.  Believe me, I've seen my fair share of terrible twos- we have a lot of two year-olds at work so we get to see the whole range of your typical terrible twos!  (My current favourite is A who throws a cracking tantrum if she doesn't think she's said goodbye to her Dad in the morning.  We have screaming, crying, kicking, dragging her feet along the floor, banging her fist on the floor and drooling!)

But going back to the positives, two year-olds are undergoing a massive amount of change and development- 80% of a child's brain cell development takes place by the age of 3.  80%!  They're developing on all fronts- language, cognitive, emotional and motor development is going haywire.  Their sense of curiosity is high as they try to explore the world around them and learn as much as they can as fast as they can.

Physical Development
This is a key stage for large/gross motor skills-rolling, walking, jumping, running, climbing.  They go from being wobbly just-started-to-walk-ers to developing a real finesse in their movements.
They're also developing their fine motor skills- beginning to hold a pencil correctly, dressing and undressing, doing up and undoing buttons, using cutlery and turning handles.
The biggest aspect of physical development is potty training and self-care.  If you think about it, we only spend a tiny fraction of our lives unable to deal with toileting independently!

Social and emotional development
Two year-olds begin to develop trusting relationships outside of their own family, with adults and children they see regularly.  They are also starting to see themselves as individuals (hence the word 'no' becoming a key part of their vocabulary!)
They are beginning to play with other children, as well as learning to understands the feelings and emotions of others.

Language development
By the time they turn 3 a child will often know around 300 words, or more.  They will be able to put 4/5 words together into simple sentences.  They will be able to understand a lot more in terms of instructions and questions.  They will also ask a lot of questions- this is where their sense of curiosity comes into play with wanting to know what EVERYTHING is.

Terrific Twos is also what a lot of Local Education Authorities are calling the programme for offering free nursery places for two year-olds.  (Not sure if the name's an overall government thing or not.)  I think two year old nursery places will be a topic for another post though!

Sunday Introduction- Emma and The Osborne Trust

Today's Sunday Introduction comes courtesy of the lovely Emma and The Osborne Trust.  Emma has been incredibly inspirational to a lot of people over the past year, although she will most likely argue against that!

1)Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I'm Emma, 37 and live in North Wales. I'm married and have 2 young sons. I love my handbags, shopping and these days smiling

2)Tell us about The Osborne Trust? What prompted you to start it?
The Osborne Trust is a newly formed charity to offer children whose parents have cancer some time out. This can be a trip to cinema, play centre, nature walk, etc whilst parents are undergoing operations and treatment.
I started the trust after I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year when I was 36 and my boys were 7 and 4. Operations and treatment is not only hard on your body but hard for your family to see you going through, kids need be reminded cancer isn't everywhere and you can still have some fun.

Emma's boys, with the sons of another cancer sufferer.

3)What would you say is the trust's greatest achievement so far?
Greatest achievement so far is the future fundraiser pink tie event in Oct where we hope to raise over 1k so we can support helping local families during their cancer journey.

4) What's next for The Osborne Trust?
The main aim in the first 12 months is fundraising. We are currently running a holiday tombola to win a 3 night stay at a holiday home in Caernarfon North Wales. £2 per entry. We have bag packing and donation bucket days at local football grounds, someone running a half marathon for the trust, the pink tie event, my eldest son whose 8 and his football team walking up Snowdon next year. We need to raise 5k to be able to register as a charity to move forwards. Long term I want the trust to be UK wide helping all families going through cancer where there are children under 16 years.

At the official launch of The Osborne Trust

5) How can people find out more about the trust? 
We are on Facebook- The Osborne Trust

Twitter- Osborne Trust
via our donating page here

6) How can people help The Osborne Trust?
They can share the page amongst their friends on Facebook , Twitter, do a fundraiser, donate via this lovely website
Bald and ill from chemo, but still got a smile on her face.
A big thank you to Emma for taking part, I cannot encourage people enough to go and donate, or at least share the Trust's page with your friends and family.

TMI tag

I used to love doing things like this when I had diaries/journals online before, so I can't resist doing this! :D

1: What are you wearing? Beige cropped trousers and a grey and yellow spotty vest.  I literally threw on the first thing I could put my hands on when I got home from work!
2: Ever been in love? No
3: Ever had a terrible breakup? Nope, never been in a position to break up with anyone. #sadface
4: How tall are you? 5' 8" Think that's about 172/173cm
5: How much do you weigh? Too much!
6: Any tattoos? Nope, I'm not entirely sure they'd suit me to be honest.
7: Any piercings? Nope, I did have my ears done once, but they botched one & it went through diagonally so I let the holes close up.
8: OTP? Soooooooo many depending on what tv show I've been watching!
9: Favorite show? Loads!  Although a lot seem to be getting cancelled or have recently finished a season.  At the moment- Big Bang Theory, The Simpsons, CSI, One Born Every Minute...I think that's about it at the moment.
10: Favorite bands? Again, there's loads depending on what mood I'm in.  I love the new Ed Sheeran album at the moment.  Other artists on my ipod include Alanis Morissette, Avril Lavigne, Backstreet Boys, Beyonce, Blink 182, Coldplay, Counting Crows, Daughtry, Eminem, Evanesence, Glee get the idea, I like lots of stuff!
11: Something and someone you miss? Something I miss- having the mobility to do half the things I want to do.  (Short version- I'm still recovering from a knee dislocation, long story-probably for another blog post!)  Someone- my friends.  A lot of them don't live locally so I rarely get to see them- dislocating my knee 4 weeks before I was due to see a lot of them didn't help either!
12: Favorite song? At the moment it’s about half of X by Ed Sheeran, I can't just choose one!
13: How old are you? 32 Say it fast & it doesn't seem that old.
14: Zodiac sign? Aquarius, no idea what that says about me!
15: Quality you look for in a partner? Eh!  I'm not even looking, and I'm not entirely sure I'd know what I'm looking for!
16: Favorite Quote? If you assume, you make an ass out of you (u) and me
17: Favorite actor/actress? It depends what mood I'm in, the other day I was in a Channing Tatum kinda mood!
18: Favorite color? Blue
19: Loud music or soft? It depends on what mood I'm in
20: Where do you go when you’re sad? My room, get cosy on the bed & watch things on Netflix
21: How long does it take you to shower? 15 minutes ish
22: How long does it take you to get ready in the morning? Depends how long I end up watching tv for- think that's my downfall!
23: Ever been in a physical fight? Nope, thankfully
24: Turn on? Blue eyes and dark hair, I'm such a sucker for guys with blue eyes & dark hair!
25: Turn off? Smoking, bad teeth, bad attitude...probably more
26: The reason you made your blog? I used to write a lot on Bloop & Livejournal, and had been thinking for a while about starting a blog.  I just went for it one day, and Nursery Nurse Confessions was born!
27: Fears? Spiders, wasps, fire.  I used to have terrible nightmares about fire when I was younger, I'm not really sure why.  I remember going to stay with my aunt with my Mum & brother, and although I was desperate to sleep in her attic room, I couldn't because I wouldn't have been able to get out if there was a fire.  I think I was 7 or 8!
28: Last thing that made you cry? Probably watching Long Lost Family last week
29: Last time you said you loved someone? It's very rare I say it to be honest, I wasn't really brought up in a family that were good at expressing their emotions.  I've probably said "Love you too" to one of the kids at work in the past few weeks.  
30: Meaning behind your blog name? I'm a Nursery Nurse, and originally planned this as something of a confessional about my frustrations at work, but decided against a moany blog.
31: Last book you read? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
32: The book you’re currently reading? A Peter Robinson one, the name escapes me at the moment.
33: Last show you watched? Some random film on Film4
34: Last person you talked to? My mum.
35: The relationship between you and the person you last texted? My mum to let her know what time I was leaving work
36: Favorite food? BBQ Chicken pizza, especially if it's from Frankie & Benny's!  *drools*
37: Place you want to visit? New Zealand, East Coast of America, Italy
38: Last countries you visited? Wales a few years ago on holiday.  Outside of the UK it was Spain in 2007
39: Do you have a crush? Not really nope
40: Last time you kissed someone? One of the babies at work earlier
41: Last time you were insulted? I can't remember really, I don't tend to get insulted all that much!
42: Favourite flavor of sweet? Chocolate, and liquorice.  Just not together!
43: What instruments do you play? None- I played violin (badly) briefly back in Primary School
44: Favorite piece of jewellery? I don't tend to wear jewellery much really, so probably my watch.  I got it for my 21st birthday & do feel kind of lost without it at times!
45: Last sport you played? Football with 1 of the kids at work!
46: Last song you sang? "When I was 2, I lost my shoe the day I went to sea, I climbed aboard the pirate ship and the captain said to me......" :D
47: Favorite chat up line? I don't have one, and can't say I remember any being used on me!
48: What’s your education?  9 GCSEs, 3 A-levels, a B.Ed degree and a diploma in Young People and Children's workforce.
49: Last time you hung out with anyone? About a month ago!  I met up with 1 of my friends and her family at the local park.
50: Who should answer these questions next?  Whoever wants to!

First time Mums- how old were you?

This picture has been doing the rounds on my Facebook page at the moment, and it got me thinking about the ages some of my friends had their first child, and how old I might be before I find someone to settle down with and even consider having children!  At work we have 1 set of parents who struggled to conceive, so were in their early 40s by the time their daughter was born.  Another set  have adult children, and their 4 year-old was a pleasant surprise in their early 40s!  The others range massively, the same with my friends, although nobody in their 40s has popped one out yet!

How old were you when you had your first child?  Do you wish you'd had your first child at a different age?

Holiday fun- cheese straws

Another favourite recipe of Sophie & Ryan, is cheese straws.  Sometimes it's nice to get the kids baking something savoury for a change!

The finished product, nom nom!

  • 8oz self-raising flour 
  • 3oz hard margarine/butter 
  • pinch of salt 
  • 6oz grated cheese (a strong cheddar gives the best flavour) 
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk
  • Optional extras- 1-3 teaspoons of mustard (the little sachets of mustard you can get in pubs/cafes work quite well), or small amount of chilli powder

Getting busy stirring the dough

  1.  Pre-heat the oven to 350-375f/gas mark 4-5 and grease a baking tray
  2. Mix flour & salt, then rub in the margarine/butter 
  3. Mix in the grated cheese & mix to a stiff paste with beaten egg & milk. (I tend to beat in the mustard too at this point)
  4. Roll out thinly & cut into narrow fingers (or other shapes if you're feeling fancy!) 
  5. Place on the greased baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until brown.
  6. Leave to cool, then enjoy
Rolling out the dough

Holiday fun- getting crafty

Crafty activities are always popular during the school holidays, and are always handy for those wet days!  While at Tesco doing the weekly shop, I had a nosey down the craft and stationery aisle (because I'm a stationery nut!) and noticed they've recently rebranded all of their craft range, and introduced some fantastic new kits ready for the summer holidays.  The bonus of all this, is they had a lot of their old branded range reduced.  I resisted a massive splurge, but had to buy the last glue stick- 15p!! (I always need glue sticks at work, but can never find them as my colleagues have a habit of borrowing them and forgetting to put them back in my drawer!)  So definitely worth a look in your local larger Tesco for bargain craft goodies.

The new range currently has a 3 for 2 offer on a range of craft essentials- poster paint, pva glue, paint brushes, rubbers, pencils, felt-pens, mini notebooks...

I love the range of paint colours- there's the bog standard primary colours, plus pearlescent, metallic, and neon.  All for £1 each (although pack sizes vary- basic colours having 300ml & fancier ones being 150ml) plus they're all included in the 3 for 2!
Photos courtesy of

The new range also has some fab eco craft sets where they can use everyday projects combined with the kit contents to make some gorgeous items.  My favourites are probably the Loo Roll Owl Family kit, and the Milk Bottle Jumbo kit.  There's also a Fabric Conditioner Piggy Bank, Hunk of Junk Pirate Island, Rocket Bottle jet pack & Fancy Fish CD mobile.  All of the kits are £3.50 each, which is very reasonable.  Unfortunately, the Tesco website doesn't seem to have these kits in stock, but they should be available in larger store.

This post is in no way affiliated with Tesco, and has not been paid for.  This is my own opinion and is purely for information.

Sunday Introduction- Debbie and Rocky Does L.A.

After accidentally deleting the original post (don't ask!) here's the new one!

Sunday introduction- I spoke to Debbie about the work she does with Rocky Does L.A.

1)Tell us a little bit about yourself
My name is Debbie and I work as a booking agent for a company in the States but most importantly I am a full time Mum to my beautiful little girl who is almost 4 years old.

2)Tell us about Rocky Does LA- what's it all about and how did you get involved?
Rocky Does L.A is a promotional trip to L.A and surrounding areas in California to interview and promote certain talents as well as arrange/attend any events we can and offers businesses the chance to come on board for sponsorship or people to generally get their hands on some cool signed items. We are also looking for a worthy charity to come on board, we want to help promote them as much as possible. 
I got involved through my friendship with Rocky Promotions and it grew from there combining their promotional knowledge with my booking agent experience.

3)How can people get involved with Rocky Does LA?
People can get involved by checking the link or by emailing me direct at

4) Which parts of the project are you enjoying the most and the least?
I'm enjoying the interaction with the talents that we have on board for the trip, some I have never dealt with before so it's nice to be getting to know them a little better. The part I am least enjoying hmm I don't think that exists, it's all character and experience building for me which is always a good thing.

5) Which brand/artist are you most looking forward to working with as part of the project? 
I am most looking forward to working with Kurt Yaeger, I've known him for almost two years now and it's no secret that he is a huge inspiration to me so to have the opportunity to finally meet up with him will be brilliant, I want others to see what I've seen from the start, a very strong, talented and kind man with a huge, huge heart!

Author's note- I knew she'd say Kurt!

6) Once this project is complete, what's next for you & your marketing skills?
After this project I will continue my work as a booking agent and with the material from the trip I will be able to push these great people more here in the UK so I will be working on bringing more great events to this side of the water.

A big thank you to Debbie for agreeing to take part in our first Sunday Introduction!  I've got a few more Introductions planned with 2 lots of people fundraising, and 2 small businesses.  If you'd like your business/fundraising activities/blog to feature in a future Sunday Introduction, please get in touch.

Holiday fun- fairy cakes

I'm hoping to do a few holiday fun related posts of things I've tried and tested either at work or with my friends' children.  Sophie (a friend's daughter) has always loved baking with me, so I thought I'd share one of her favourite things to make first- fairy cakes.

  • 110g/4oz softened butter or margarine
  • 110g/4oz caster sugar
  • 110g 4oz self-raising flour
  • 2 lightly beaten eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk
For the icing
  • 300g/10 1/2 oz icing sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons water 

A 2 year-old Sophie and her brother get mixing!

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line 2 12hole cake tins with cases (either paper or silicone)
  2. Cream the butter an sugar together until pale and fluffy
  3. Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, and add the vanilla essence
  4.  Carefully fold in the flour.  Add small amounts of milk if needed so that the mixture is not too thick
  5. Spoon the mixture into the cake cases until about half full
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown (or carefully stick a skewer or fork in- if they come out clean the cakes are done)
  7. Set aside to cool
  8. To make the icing sift the icing sugar into a bowl & add in enough water to make a smooth mixture
Now comes the fun part- decorating!  You're just limited here to what you can buy in the shops- supermarket baking aisles are full of a variety of things.  In the past we've used jelly diamonds, chocolate stars, Smarties, mini chocolate drops/chocolate shavings, hundreds & thousands, Skittles......the list is endless!

A few of the finished products!

And naturally, one of the best parts about baking, is licking the bowl clean!  This picture's not from a fairy cake session, but it illustrates the point nicely!

What would your perfect fairy cake topping be?

Coming soon..

I've been a bit slack since getting the blog off the ground and the initial burst of posts, so I've been considering a few things to give the blog a longer term 'life'.
  • I've just ordered a new layout and header on Etsy.  The current look is just too basic for me, and my IT skills aren't what they used to be, so there's no chance of me doing it on my own!  So hopefully we'll have a new look by this time next week.
  • I've set up a Facebook page ( & Twitter account (@NNConfessions) to hopefully begin to get my profile a bit further beyond my immediate friends.
  • I think my next step needs to be a Bloglovin account- I know quite a few bloggers I read use it, I'm just not 100% sure of the benefits at the moment, so if anyone has any advice, feel free to share!
  • A lot of the blogs I follow have a regular weekly themed post, so I'm thinking of following in their footsteps with a 'Sunday introduction' theme.  I'm aiming to talk to a few friends with their own businesses, blogs and fundraising schemes.  I've got 6 or 7 people in mind so far, so hopefully that'll be enough to get me going short-term.
  • I've got a playdough themed post in the pipeline, I just need to get some ingredients so I can actually make it! 
P.S. Just spellchecked this, and the blogger spellchecker doesn't recognise the word 'blog'! Bizarre!

Choosing childcare- part 2

In a previous post, I discussed some of the available option for those looking for childcare.  In this post I plan on exploring a little more about choosing a specific provider.  It'll most likely focus on choosing a Nursery as this is the aspect of the industry I'm most familiar with. 

Regardless of which childcare option you choose, there are a few general things for you to consider.

Research is your friend.
Research the different options and consider which works best for you- which option offers the best flexibility with the hours you/your partner will be working?  As a general rule of thumb, Nurseries open 8-6 Monday to Friday, but some will offer earlier starts and later finishes.  Childminders will vary massively depending upon their own needs and choices.
For Nurseries and Childminders in England, looks at the Ofsted website for inspection reports.  Both types of provider are regularly inspected and the inspection reports published online. (  Ofsted reports aren't the be all and end all though, nothing beats...

Visiting the provider
Always make sure you visit any potential childcare providers- I have known a parent send their child to a Nursery after only having dealt with them via telephone!  Nothing beats going for a look around, it gives you an idea of the environment your child will be in, an idea of what play activities are offered, what the staff are like and whether the environment will be suitable for your child.  If your child is active, they won't enjoy being in a small environment without space to explore.  I shudder at the thought of sending a child of mine to a Nursery neither of us have visited! 
Don't be afraid to make multiple visits either, choosing someone to look after your child shouldn't be taken lightly.  Try and visit at different times of day to get an idea of the routine.  Take your child with you- how the staff interact with your child says a lot about them and their potential for caring for your child.

Don't automatically choose the first option
I have met a huge number of parents who have chosen their child's nursery on the basis of it being the first nursery they visited, or the closest, or the cheapest.  Visit a range of nurseries- the one that looks good online or on paper isn't necessarily the best for your child, neither is the cheapest.  Weigh up your options after visiting them all- it's often a balance between what you can afford and what's the best provider.  Try and opt for the best you can afford, your child could potentially be spending several years in their care and you want the best you can get for your money.

Don't be afraid to ask questions
I've dealt with a number of parents who have come into the nursery to enquire about sending their child there.  In my current nursery very few of these parents seem to ask questions, and parents with a list of questions seem to be in the minority.  It may seem trivial to you, but if it's something you want to know then it's worth asking- you won't be thought less of for asking.
There's an excellent article on Mumsnet with some potential questions you could ask. ( This isn't a definitive list, and you're bound to have your own questions based on the needs of your own child.

Dummies- pros & cons

I've recently been off work after injuring my knee, and while I've been hobbling out and about exercising I seem to have noticed a large number of older children with dummies in their mouths.  Yesterday was a prime example on the 4 buses I took to & from hospital appointments.  One girl was around 5 and spent the whole journey with a dummy in her mouth, attempting to talk to her mother around the dummy.  At times the mother couldn't understand what she was saying, and had to ask her to repeat herself.  Later I sat people watching while having a coffee, and it seemed that everywhere I looked there were children who, in my opinion, should not have been sucking on dummies.
It's all too easy to bash on about the negatives of dummy use, so I've done a bit of research to find some advantages I didn't know about.

  • A dummy can help soothe a child- the urge to suck/sucking reflex releases chemicals that help to reduce stress.
  • Dummy sucking can help reduce pain when a child is teething.
  • For babies born with the urge to suck thumbs, fingers or fists, the use of a dummy can discourage them from doing so- sucking thumbs etc can cause dental problems. It's easier to wean a child off a dummy than a thumb, and parents have more control over dummy use than thumb use.  (I'm a case in point with this- I was a thumb sucker as a child, and will often resort to thumb sucking when tired or in need of comfort, as a result I have a slight overbite.  My younger brother was given a dummy, which he was successfully weaned off and has near perfect teeth.)
  • Dummies can possibly protect against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) when given to a child at the start of a sleep period.  However it is recommended that the dummy is not replaced in their mouth once it falls out.  Research is unclear on how exactly dummy use can help prevent SIDS, but possible explanations include dummies helping to keep airways open, and because babies sleep less deeply when they are sucking so there is the possibility of them waking themselves if they have difficulties breathing.

  • Dummies have been associated with dental problems- overbites or misaligned teeth, when used up to the age of 3 or 4.  (I have seen this with a number of children I've worked with.)
  • The use of dummies past the age of 12 months can affect the development of speech.  Having a dummy in their mouth can restrict their ability to babble, and as they get older start to learn to form sounds around their dummy.  Once the dummy has been removed this can then lead to speech problems as children have to re-learn how to produce sounds without the dummy.  (Again, this is something I've seen several times too.)
  • Dummies can actually lead to disturbed nights sleep for parents when the dummy falls out of the child's mouth and cries until it is replaced.
  • The use of dummies has been linked to ear infections by allowing bacteria to move into the tubes between the ears and throat.
Ultimately it comes down to parental choice- there are clearly advantages to some use of dummies up to the age of 1 year.  What concerns me most as an educator, is the over-use of dummies past that age and the possible problems it can cause.

I used two websites researching this, links to which can be found below.  I in no way endorse the full contents of these web pages, these were just useful pages I found using a search engine.

Did you use dummies with your child/ren? What advantages and disadvantages did you find from using them?

Choosing Childcare

Choosing childcare for you child can be a daunting decision- there are so many different options available it's hard to know what to choose.  So what are some of the options?
  • A Nanny/Au Pair- not always an option for a lot of families, depending upon financial circumstances. A Nanny/Au Pair works within your home, taking care of your child/ren in the home environment.  They can live in the house, or live elsewhere depending upon your needs/circumstances and that of the Nanny/Au Pair.  This has the advantage of allowing your child to stay in a familiar environment while they were being cared for.  In the UK no formal qualifications or training are required to become a nanny, although a number of them will hold a Level 3 relevant qualification.
  • A childminder- someone who cares for your child in their home, and may care for several others of varying ages at the same time.  In the UK there are more laws governing childminders than Nannies.  All childminders in England are legally required to register with OFSTED on the Early Years register (if providing care for children under the age of five), and the Compulsory part of the General Childcare Register (if providing care for children aged between five and eight years old).  Childminders do not have to be registered if they are only providing care for children over the age of eight.  Childminders in Wales are required to register with the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW). The registrations requirements are nearly identical to those in England.
    Childminders in Scotland are required to register with the Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (SCSWIS) In Northern Ireland, the Health & Social Services Trusts. are the relevant authority for the Inspection and Regulation of Childminders.
  • Nurseries-children are cared for on non-domestic premises alongside a range of children, and are grouped according to age.  Nurseries in England also have to be registered with Ofsted, and are regularly inspected.  The age in which children are accepted into a Nursery varies from provider to provider- I have seen some that will accept children as young as 5/6 weeks, and others that start at a few months old.  50% of Nursery staff must hold a Level 3 (or higher) qualification, and some Nurseries will also have a graduate with a  relevant degree working with them.
There are various advantages and disadvantages to each childcare method, and some people may choose a 4th option I haven't mentioned yet- grandparent care!  Hopefully this gives some idea of what is available out there, and I'm planning another post about choosing the right nursery.  (You lucky lucky people!)

Which childcare option do you currently use?


I'm fairly new to the world of blogging, although this blog has been something that has been brewing for some time.  I guess the ideal content of my first post, is a bit about the lady behind it all, so here goes!

My name's Sarah, I'm in my early 30s and live in Leicester, in the middle of England.  I currently work as a Nursery Officer in a small Nursery in Leicester. I'm room leader for the Pre-school room, with a range of children from 2 1/2 to 4.  I'm usually responsible for the After-school club children, as well as Holiday Care children. For the last 14 years I've worked with children in a variety of guises- student teacher, class teacher, youth club leader, supply teacher and nursery officer.  Through these roles I've had the advantage of working with children from 6months up to 14 years.

Through this blog I aim to explore a variety of things- changes in the childcare system, child development issues, book reviews (I do love a good picture book!) and any other childcare/education related issues/random musings that spring to mind!  I already have a few posts mentally planned (thanks to a bout of insomnia last night!), some of which I admit some parents may not agree with.  I don't have children of my own, so I can fully imagine some parents questioning what right I have to raise such issues. (Or maybe I'm being paranoid!)  But I have 14 years of experiences with a variety of ages, backgrounds etc.  I have a Bachelor of Education degree with QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) with specialisms in Early Years and English, and 7 months ago completed a Level 3 Diploma in Children and Young People's Worksforce (Early Learning and Childcare) which is basically what was once a NVQ Level 3 in Childcare.

I'm open to any questions anyone has, I know some people may have them, so feel free to ask away!  And please bear with me with any tweaks I make to the layout etc, it's been a while since I used an online diary or similar!