swim like a fish

9-10-14_e with swimfin framedWednesday is pool day for me and E and it’s becoming the highlight of my week.  I love seeing him splash and giggle and grow in confidence and I love the huggy, nurturing closeness of time spent together in the water after two days at work.  E’s become a confident jumper off the side and slide diver at our local pool. Now he’s nearer 3 than 2 and becoming independent in all things I wracked my brains for how to help him to learn to swim without forcing it or feeling like he was putting too much of his confidence in me supporting him (like many a fearless toddler presuming Mummy will always save the day).  So how to help him float as he learned to swim while not risking any water gulping sinking panics?
SwimFin high res logo
After a spot of googling I came across SwimFin, a teaching aid, floatation device and fun water toy all in one.  Created by Kevin Moseley, a swimming instructor with over 30 years experience, it’s unique, self-adjusting design is suitable for all ages, from toddlers taking to the water for the first time to advanced swimmers who want to develop stroke technique.
For E it’s just what I wanted as it leaves his arms completely free to move for any swim stroke, including back stroke.  The fin is worn high up on his back, secured with velcro straps, and suspends him in the water without tipping him forward.  He’s used to me supporting him under his tummy when he kicks and splashes and it was great to feel the difference in his weight when wearing the SwimFin compared to when he’s not wearing it.  He wasn’t very keen to doggy paddle which is actually when SwimFin provides the most support for a beginner because it’s almost fully submerged.  For a first try though I was just impressed he kept his fin on for the whole of our time in the pool.  I think all the admiring glances helped, responded to with ”look at me, I’m not a boy I’m a shark”

Swimfin au_back stroke
Learning to swim is a life skill we’re keen for E to have and SwimFin  makes it simpler, easier and more fun.  I would have loved to have pictures of our own little fish in action but you can’t take pictures at our local pool.  Roll on next summer for taking SwimFin to the beach!  If you’d love a SwimFin too it’s available in 7 different colours priced £21.99.  It’s a great investment because it continues to be fun and useful after your child has mastered swimming on their own and can be used by the whole family (larger straps are available for bigger kids). And unlike our noodle or the floats at the pool there will be no teeth marks in it or signs of wear for many swims to come!Swimfins in action
Disclosure:  I approached SwimFin about writing a review and they kindly sent me a sample.  I was not required to write a positive view and all opinions expressed are my own.  (pool pictures used courtesy of the SwimFin gallery)

October 24, 2014 at 8:18 am 1 comment

wordless wednesday

wordless wednesday

October 22, 2014 at 7:00 am 2 comments

of puppets and pandas

Traidcraft finger puppets 4B It’s lovely to receive a message saying ”we really like your blog”.
It’s fab when accompanied by an offer to review products we’ve not come across but know we’ll love as soon as we start browsing the on-line catalogue.
And it’s delightful when the products are toys; beautiful fair trade toys made using traditional handmade techniques. The Traidcraft shop is the perfect place to start for birthday gifts or a little pre-Chirstmas ideas collecting.
Collage - finger puppet bag 4B
We chose a finger puppet set as E is really loving role play at the moment.  The finger puppets are beautifully made with padded faces so they’re very much like individual toys in their own right.  They’re large on E’s tiny fingers so he favours us wearing them, or most especially Grandad!  What he loves most is the boat bag they come in, he’ll happily play for ages putting small objects into it, closing the velcro, opening the velcro, taking things out, putting things in… in that satisfying way only a toddler can.  With so many children’s toys relying on lights and sounds to make them interesting it’s so lovely to see such a simple toy like this creating so much pleasure and interactive play.  Very handy and space-saving for car journeys too.
30-9-14 - panda cup at Nana and Grandads 4B
We also received a stainless steel panda cup and bowl set – a great option for real-life and make believe breakfasts. If I drank as much tea as E pretends to make for me I’d slosh when I walk and his own china tea cup lost it’s handle when it was dropped recently. This hand painted bowl and cup have received nothing but compliments since we’ve been using them, particularly the bowl which is every day for one snack or another. (the cup is small as you can see but as E’s not a big drinker at breakfast time he looks so proud when he holds it up and says ”Mum I drank it all”.
Collage - panda bowl 4B
This is a lovely set for children and after lots of use there’s no sign of the enamel paint wearing (and yes it has been dropped a few times but no harm done). The only down side to a toddler adopting such a lovely panda bowl is that no other tableware will do so if giving it as a gift be sure to warn the parents to never lose sight of it at any time!
30-9-14 - E at Nana and Grandads 4B
We were really impressed with the quality of these Traidcraft products and the range of toys and gifts for children available in the their on-line shop.  Browsing the website  for gift ideas couldn’t be easier with ready made suggestions for him and her.  For those of you who like to get a head start on Christmas shopping there is something for everyone and delivery is free on orders over £50.
Traidcraft logo
Traidcraft is the UK’s leading fair trade organisation. Their mission is to fight poverty through trade, practising and promoting approaches to trade that help poor people in developing countries transform their lives.

Disclosure: I was sent these toys to sample. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.

October 19, 2014 at 4:00 pm 1 comment

wonderful walnuts

walnuts on path 4B
A friends’ garden, a foragers delight, strewn with walnuts from next doors’ tree.
walnuts 4B
I find fresh walnuts to be less bitter, softer and have a slightly different taste to shop bought walnuts. Perhaps that’s because I’m cracking and eating them as I go rather than taking the time to cure, crack, soak and store my single carrier bag full of walnuts.
walnuts shelled 4B
I’d like to say I did something amazing with them but dropping a handful of walnuts into my muesli has been the extent of my creativity!

October 18, 2014 at 7:40 pm 2 comments

barefoot adventures in Baby Bogs

E in bogsSince receiving a pair of Baby Bogs from Bear-Foot as our introduction to barefoot shoes E’s worn nothing else ”I love my bog boots Mummy”. Ask him what he likes about them and he might say they’re blue, they have monkeys on them, they’re comfy or he can put them on by himself (all very important factors when you’re two years old). I suspect it’s simply because they have a name and every day sounds like an adventure with a call of ‘find your Bogs, it’s time to go”.
Bogs E squatting 4B
E’s first outing in his boots was to a local hotel to meet Nana and Grandad for Sunday lunch. Smart enough for dining out and as cosy as a pair of slippers with their plush Neo-Tech™ insulation lining E quietly played under the table with his cars as we waited for our food. We thought our post lunch stroll in the gardens would be a tame start for Es waterproof boots but were pleased to find the torrential rain of the day before had left the grass suitably soggy.
Collage - bogs at Bowden Hall 4B
We couldn’t have foreseen that kicking about in a pile of innocent looking grass cuttings would result in a composty christening of his boots – thankfully Grandad was close enough to catch E before he catapulted face first into the middle of it! Talk about putting his boots through their paces! Two minutes later, cleaned with just a baby wipe, E’s boots merely looked a slightly darker shade of blue and once sponged at home virtually like new again. What a winning combination – 100% waterproof and machine washable for freshening up after really epic adventures.Collage - mucky bogs 4B
It’s lovely letting E dash about in his Bogs without worrying whether he’ll trip and fall over (it has been known in conventional plastic wellies which lack the grip and flexibility of the Bogs).  E seems to be all the more agile as he walks a tightrope or scrambles like a mountain goat at the playground and I suspect the natural vulcanized rubber sole is just half of the story.Collage - bogs trialled
The other half of the story is that barefoot shoes are designed with feeling the ground beneath your feet in mind and with plenty of wriggle room around the toes. When I contacted Phil at Bear-foot about E’s squashed toes he explained

”toddlers keep their heads up more when they are walking barefoot. The feedback they get from the ground means there is less need to look down, which is what puts them off balance and causes them to fall down. Walking barefoot develops the muscles and ligaments of the foot and increases the strength of the foot’s arch therefore, improving awareness of where they are in relation to the space around them and contributes to good posture”.

Toddler feet are triangular shaped with a gap between the big toe and second toe – the result of the natural tendency of the feet to splay when unhindered by poor shoe design. Shoes that do not allow enough wriggle room at the toe end not only change the shape of the foot, potentially causing problems in later life, but also effect movement and stability.
xrayS_large”The big toe is essential for balance and for our forward movement. And by forward motion, we are talking interaction in the proper [kinetic] function of ankles, knees, hips and lower back (and beyond)…So for our children the big toe and it’s natural development is a big deal. The perfect shoe allows the foot to behave exactly as it would if bare”.
Bear-foot shoe outlines
Phil has written some really insightful articles for the Bear-Foot website about the benefits beyond the cool of choosing barefoot shoes for children, what happens inside your child’s shoe when there’s not enough room, how to measure your child’s feet, and what criteria to look for with whatever shoes you buy. Phil is an absolute barefoot enthusiast in the very best kind of way which makes the customer service he provides absolutely unbeatable. He says ”quite simply, we are passionate about foot health and development – for our own children and yours too”.
Baby bogs at Bear-FootThere are currently 6 styles of Baby Bogs in stock at Bear-Foot plus a wide range of shoes for boys and girls. Priced at £35 Baby Bogs can seem expensive compared to Supermarket wellies but as E wears them every day they’re great value for the added comfort and grip they provide and being ready for any adventure, puddles or not.  It’s a good job I don’t have a girl as well or these flower stripe Baby Bogs would accidentally be falling into my shopping cart right now!
Bear-Foot logo jpeg

Disclosure: I was sent the Baby Bogs to sample. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.

October 15, 2014 at 10:00 am 1 comment

wordless wednesday

E and E lunch 4B

October 15, 2014 at 7:00 am 4 comments

Crucible 2 at Gloucester Cathedral

Crucilble 2 logoCity life has many benefits – one of the greatest is having a cathedral on your doorstep.  For the last month Gloucester Cathedral has been hosting one of the largest free exhibitions of contemporary sculpture in the UK.  Crucible 2 features 100 pieces, created by 61 artists, placed in and around the medieval building.  The first Crucible exhibition in 2010, heralded as ”the sculpture exhibitions of the decade”, attracted 130,000 visitors and was everything it claimed to be.  Siberian Tiger
The current Crucible 2 exhibition is simply breathtaking in its scope and for bringing art to life in a tangible way.  Where else are you allowed to touch the sculpture and encouraged to let children interact with it in their own unique way (which generally means, without exception, climbing up onto the back of a tortoise, tiger and hippo).
I discover something new each time I go with the pace and direction set by a meandering toddler and I’ve yet to find all 100 exhibits!
Crucible 2 is open until 30th October and if you’ve not visited yet it is a fabulous way to spend a day. It’s heartening to see coach loads of visitors arrive just to see this wonderful exhibition.  If you need any more persuading click here for a 2 minute feature on BBC Points West to show you what you could be missing.
e crucible exhibit
© Tiger and Hippo images reproduced from Crucible 2 Facebook page:  Siberian Tiger by Rembrandt Bugatti photographed by Steve Russell, courtesy of Gallery Pangolin.  Unless by Kenneth Robertson photographed by Crucible 2 team.

October 13, 2014 at 8:06 pm 1 comment

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