Posts filed under ‘parenting’

5 reasons to love the OXO Tot twist top water bottle (a review with a pair of thirsty explorers)

boy drinking from OXO twist top water bottle on Selsley Common - nipitinthebud.co.ukIf you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know how much we love OXO kitchen tools and utensils.  If you’re a new visitor here thank you for taking the time to hang out with us – you might like to read our other OXO product reviews after you finish here.  We first reviewed the OXO Tot twist top bottle when Euan was 18 months old.  3 years later when his baby brother Luca was in need of his first drinking cup we returned to the OXO website and reviewed it again.   Luca was 9 months old in our second review but soon got the hang of drinking from the straw (the packaging recommends 18 months + but in our experience there are no safety issues for children younger than that, they just might find it tricky to hold the bottle or drink from the straw).  We wanted to try something a bit different for this review so we took our bottles out for an Easter Sunday bimble on Selsley common and this is the result.

If you already love these water bottles you’ll understand why we kept our video short.  It illustrates all you need to know really – that this water bottle is easy to drink from with or without hands, it’s lightweight and easy to carry and it’s strong enough to handle whatever a toddler may throw at it.  If you’re not familiar with the OXO Tot brand and need a little more persuading here are 5 reasons why we love their twist top bottle and think you will too:

1/  the flexible rubber drinking straw

There’s something about straws that just makes drinking easier.  I share Luca’s water bottle during the day and find it much easier for both of us to stay hydrated than drinking from a cup.  Luca likes drinking from it because we share it and he feels so grown up having the same bottle as his big brother.  Euan likes it because when he’s  drawing at the table he doesn’t even have to pick it up (did you spot Luca carrying it by the straw in his teeth in the video?).  It’s a brilliant water bottle for travelling as children can’t tip their head back in their car seat to drink from a normal cup or bottle.  Or when the boys are poorly or need a drink in the night it’s much less disturbing to their sleep to just turn them on their side and put the straw to their mouth for small sips than sitting them up to drink from a cup.  We all agree water just tastes better from a straw! If that’s not been your experience because of plastic mould growing straws the OXO designers have thought of that too.  Their rubber straw is in two sections and comes apart easily for cleaning.  If you do find it starts to deteriorate, gets lost or your toddler bites through it using it as a carry handle (the texture is quite appealling to teethy toddlers) you can buy a replacement (2 for £4) .  It makes good environmental sense to make sure a perfectly good water bottle doesn’t need to be discarded when the straw goes astray.
30-3-18- OXO Tot water bottles for review

2/  It doesn’t leak. 

This is like the holy grail of claims with baby/toddler food and drink storage.  The twist top design of the OXO water bottle means the straw disappears inside when the lid is closed creating an airtight seal.  There will be a few drips if the bottle is opened and shaken about as a little water from the last sip remains in the straw and even OXOs brilliant design can’t defy gravity! (as demonstrated by Luca below).  But I’d take a few drips over less effective designs any day.  Of course the clever design can’t account for user error so we have had leaks on the sofa or carpet when Luca has cast it aside unnoticed with the straw still out (he’s a wanderer afterall).  And I have had a leak in my bag when he helpfully posted the bottle into it upside down and I didn’t notice it was not shut properly.  To be really sure of no leaks you’ll want to take on responsibility of closure with smaller children.  Euan can be trusted to close it properly, Luca cannot and is not physically able to at under 2 years old.

3/  it’s easy to measure your fluid intake

This might sound obvious as it’s a see through bottle but it’s a really important feature for us.  At a glance Euan can see exactly how many fingers worth of water he’s drunk.   If I wanted to be really precise about how much he’s had from a full 300ml bottle there’s a measuring guage on the side.  Between losing his previous twist top bottle and receiving this new one Euan didn’t get on too well with staying hydrated at school.  He was taking in a plastic Lego water bottle which is opaque and every day it was coming home full.  At 6 years old he found it too hard to remember to drink from it when he didn’t have the visual prompt of seeing the water level inside the bottle.  It was such a relief when his replacement OXO bottle arrived!  When he has a cough or a cold I put cooled herbal tea in it as that also encourages him to pick up his bottle more when the drink inside is an interesting colour.  In the summer the nice wide opening at the top of the bottle means ice cubes can be added easily to keep drinks cooler.

4/ it has an easy grip handle for hands big or small

The bottle can hold 300ml so it’s not too heavy for children and is a nice clutchable size even for a toddler like Luca.  It’s easy to hook your finger through the carry handle on the top as shown by Euan running along after Luca in the video.  If you didn’t want to carry it by hand you can use a caribiner to clip it on to almost anything – a bag, on the buggy, through a coat button hole etc.
toddler holding OXO twist top water bottle on Selsley Common

5/ it’s strong, durable and made of BPA free plastic

Our bottle was unscathed by Luca’s ”kick, kick” experiment down the hill.  He’s heading towards 2 years old with throwing arms in full force and so far his bottle has shown no signs of distress being thrown down the stairs and launched down the slide at the park.  We’ve never know any OXO Tot products to break and unlike some other clear plastic items in our cupboard it doesn’t even look scratched or cloudy from daily use.
OXO Tot twist top water bottles on Selsley Common

Disclosure: I requested and was sent a replacement OXO Tot twist top water bottle to review.  I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.

The OXO Tot twist top bottle is available to buy from the OXO website and costs £8

April 13, 2018 at 6:58 am 6 comments

#myheartylife | 14 – Gratitude| Success| Beauty

Reflecting weekly on the beauty in every day moments, reasons to be thankful and celebrating small successes with the #myhearty life linky.
(all rather Easter orientated this week!)

Father and son looking at bugs inside a fallen down tree trunk

G and 3 year old E bug hunting in a fallen down tree

I’m grateful for . . .
The school holidays and not having to rush to get up and out in the morning. Euan has stayed in his pyjamas all day a couple of times and he says it’s one of his favourite things about school holidays.  As Easter approached I had that feeling that we should make the most of the break and visit somewhere using our National Trust membership like we did last Easter.  The poor weather however made it easy to choose the opposite, to switch gears and savour the slow pace of staying in. On slow mode, no timescales, no agenda.  Our days over the Easter weekend were a lovely blur of playing, lego making, snacking and hiding mini eggs.  We did attempt an Easter egg hunt at Woodchester Park on Sunday but the rest of Gloucestershire obviously had the same idea and cars were lining the entry road for half a mile or more from the car park.  We’d had to make an emergency stop en-route for E who felt car sick so we turned tail and headed for nearby Selsley Common for some fresh air.  It was the right decision as poor E emptied his stomach as G turned off the engine and immediately felt better.  Our amble on the common was just what we needed and the boys enjoyed being the masters of our route with us following slowly behind them. They barely noticed we were there as raced off happily (can you tell from that first photo that G is running to keep up with L!). They loved exploring in their own little world of imaginative play in the dip of a small quarry calling out from time to time only to point out something interesting they’d spotted or had made. Luca gave a few dog walkers a surprise when he kept scrambling up steep slopes and appearing as if from nowhere over the top.Easter sunday walk Selsley common_Dad and toddler running - nipitinthebud.co.uk
Easter sunday walk Selsley common_boys making names using rocks - nipitinthebud.co.uk

I succeeded with …
Containing the chocolate fest that is Easter to the weekend and letting the boys decide how much they ate. It sounds mad even reading it like that but when presented with an Easter egg the size of your head you’re not going to easily wrestle it from a toddler’s grip. E didn’t even have his first Easter egg until he was about 4 years old and it lasted for about a month. Luca’s first egg at age nearly two lasted an hour, albeit shared beautifully with his brother who was happy to delay opening his realising it meant double chocolate for him in the long run. In the afternoon E wanted to re-hide the eggs from his morning hunt, a concept L just couldn’t grasp so he was given his share of eggs. My instincts were screaming ‘just one, save them, think of how much sugar that is if he eats them all” but I rolled with letting him work his way through them. And it turned out he really liked the process of unpeeling the foil wrappers, would take a bite and then move on to the next one. So the total amount of chocolate he ate was not even half as much as it looked like. And the result, no adverse change in behaviour or affect on sleep overnight (he did have more energy by bedtime than he would normally after a 2 hour bimble outside!). Confirming perhaps that by limiting sweet treats as part of a healthy lifestyle the seasonal blow outs aren’t going to do much harm. And an important lesson noted that children do stop when they feel they’ve had enough and it’s important to give them that experience occasionally rather than always leaving them with the sense of wanting more.

I found beauty in …
Hiding Easter eggs around the house and watching the boys race off to find them. It was probably a common sight in many homes last weekend but what moved me so much was how it spoke to the relationship between my boys. There’s 4 years and 3 months between them so it could be understandably annoying to have your nearly 2 year old brother trailing round after you. But E is always so nurturing with Luca and they share in a way that pours right out of their heart and not because anyone tells them too (this was evident in Luca sharing with E but grabbing his egg to his chest saying ”my, my” when I asked if he had a bite for me.  If these brothers continue to be the best friends they are at age 2 and 6 then I know I’ll have done a good job of parenting.
Easter Sunday egg hunt_brothers sharing eggs
My previous #myheartylife reflections can be found here

If you’re publishing a blog post that fits in with one or all of the #myheartylife prompts why not join the linky? Simply add your blog link at the bottom of Mary’s latest post here. Sharing comments with other #myheartylife bloggers is always lovely and if posting your cheerful moments on social media too please use the tag #myheartylife. Enjoy living and sharing your hearty life.

April 6, 2018 at 8:50 pm 3 comments

#myheartylife | 12 – gratitude| success| beauty

Reflecting weekly on the beauty in every day moments, reasons to be thankful and celebrating small successes with the #myhearty life linky.
toddler with green pants on his head laughing at selfie - niptinthebud.co.uk
I’m grateful for ….
Toddlers wearing pants on their heads obviously!

This month I have been feeling particularly grateful for family.  My parents have been visiting every Tuesday afternoon since 6 year old Euan was one and I had returned to work 2 days a week.  We had a gap in childcare between George needing to leave for work and me returning home. I always appreciated Mum and Dad’s love of spending time with Euan and it’s been heartwarming to see their relationship deepen from having 1:1 time.  I was especially grateful for the pause Tuesday afternoons brought when I was pregnant with Luca and then when he was a newborn.  I’m still grateful for the weekly meal Mum brings with her and the pause it gives me to put the laundry out or dash around picking things up without being following by Luca or being ask lots of questions by Euan.  The boys love hanging out with their grandparents and with each visit I’m reminded of how lucky we are to have them nearby.  Last weekend it was my Dad’s birthday and I took Euan to the Kingfisher Treasure Seekers Hub in Gloucester to make him a present. It’s a fab craft shop where you can take part in a Make and Take workshop and create anything you like from the huge range of craft materials available.  Euan chose a wooden bird picture frame and made it beautifully unique with tons of PVA glue and shiny things.

I succeeded at …
Slowing down when all my instincts scream ”faster faster, more more”.  It’s not a regular occurrence so I’m taking the win when I can and hope it’ll serve as a reminder in future.  I’ve been feeling a bit frustrated of late that I can only be creative in the short time that Luca naps each day.  If my mind wanders in the daytime and I pick up a notebook to jot something down Luca pulls it from my hand and flings it on the floor!  If ever a child communicated by throwing things it’s Luca.  Sometimes if he’s sat on my lap facing me and I look away to say something to G he puts his hands on my cheeks and says ”this way” as he turns my face back towards him.   Determined not angry, forthright in his actions where he lacks language.   For a boy of few words it’s pretty powerful – his only other 2 word sentences are ”Mumma milk” and ”Dadda burp!”.   After a particularly vexing day last week I resolved to just be present when we returned from the school run; to do less, observe more and enjoy most .  And the irony of it was that by sitting alongside him and participating in his play only as an observer and cheerleader I was able to appreciate that there are moments during our time together when I can find pause and quiet thought without it unsettling Luca.  It reminded me of the value of Special Time where you top your child up before trying to get things done rather than zipping off to do it first impatiently calling over your shoulder ”I’ll be back in a minute, just hang on”.  I quietly reached for my camera and took some photos of Luca absorbed in car play.  I pondered what blog post they might tell the story of.   We played together, he played alone.  I photographed him and thought out this blog post.  Zero frustration,  two hearts brimful and two peaceful minds (well mine was, I suspect Luca’s was something like this ”car, car, brrrrmmm, bang, car”)

I found beauty in …
Nature and the industrious work of a pair of magpies who had spent a couple of weeks preparing their nest in a tree opposite the back of our house. From our bedroom window we had a perfect view straight into the tree and enjoyed their comings and goings and the fact that their presence kept the seagulls quiet.  On Sunday as the boys enjoyed the beautiful sunshine while playing in the yard they suddenly heard the buzz of a chain saw.  Luca ran in to me in the kitchen and Euan fearfully called out ”what is someone chopping down?’‘.  I went upstairs to look through the back window and saw two men cutting branches from the tree with the Magpie’s nest balanced within its branches.  I hoped it was just a bit of sprint time pruning.  It wasn’t.  Half an hour later they had chopped all of the branches off and spent the next couple of hours burning the wood.  The next day at breakfast time Euan spotted one of magpies up on the rooftops and looked sad as he remarked ”the magpie is up there Mum looking for his home but it’s gone hasn’t it”.  We all felt really sad for the magpies and hope they find another tree to build a new nest in before they are ready to lay their eggs in April.  It’s hard having to explain to a kind hearted child that the beauty we appreciate is not always appreciated by others and can be destroyed so suddenly.  I was reminded of gentle parent L R Knosts perceptive quote  “It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”  We hadn’t taken any pictures of the Magpies so here’s a photo of the boys drawing in the back yard on that lovely sunny afternoon before the chain saw shattered their peace!  I see such beauty in watching a child absorbed by their own creativity.

Thank you for reading.  My previous #myheartylife reflections can be found here.
I’d love to hear what you’re finding beauty in, feeling grateful for and celebrating success with in the comments.

If you’re publishing a blog post that fits in with one or all of the #myheartylife prompts why not join the linky?  Mary is away this week so there’s plenty of time to get your thinking cap on for next time.  Enjoy living your hearty life.
#myheartylife linky logo copy

March 31, 2018 at 1:00 pm 5 comments

beetroot and chocolate cupcakes (using less sugar)

20-03-20_BLOG Beetroot and Chocolate muffins-6The first time I made these beetroot and chocolate cupcakes was long before I had small boys to bake them for.  I’ve only made them a couple of times since then as I now realise as a health conscious parent that they’ve got more sugar in than you might want to give your baby/toddler.  On the plus side though they have a portion of veg in and good fats not just a dose of sugar/carbohydrate so if you feel the urge to eat cake it’s not all bad.

OXO Good grips measuring cups_beetroot and chocolate cupcake ingredients - nipitinthebud.co.uk

beetroot and chocolate cupcake ingredients in OXO Good Grips measuring cups

I struggle with sugar cravings at certain times of the month and often eat healthily by day then lose all will power by the evening and reach for sugary snacks.  This week I decided to embrace the idea of a sweet elvenses after a slow walk home from school drop-off with Luca.  I had everything I needed to make these beetroot and chocolate cupcakes, a willing helper and my list of favourite podcasts ready to play on Stitcher.  When I reviewed the recipe I felt confident reducing the amount of sugar would make them more tooth kind without compromising the flavour.  At nearly 2 years old Luca is such a lover of cake and all things sweet so this reduced sugar version is definitely the one I shall return to now (please note I didn’t say ‘low sugar’ as they’re not! – I’ve included the nutritional information at the end of the ingredients list)

I think this recipe could work with even less sugar with the addition of a banana.  I reduced the sugar content by more than half that of the original recipe and switched out castor sugar for a 5:1 blend of coconut sugar and stevia.  The quantities below made a tray of 12 cupcakes the perfect size for toddler hands (they look small in the picture below because I optimistically used muffin cases forgetting I’d halved the ingredients!)

20-03-20_BLOG Beetroot and Chocolate muffins-8

Ingredients to make 12 cupcakes or 6 large size cupcakes

185g beetroot (one large beet)
150ml oil (I use rapeseed oil or coconut oil)
150g self-raising flour
50g dark chocolate melted or cocoa powder
55g raisins
2 eggs
50g sugar (I used coconut sugar this time)
10g stevia

Nutritional value per cupcake (calculated using the free app Myfitness pal):

213 calories, 17.6g carbs, 14.9g fat, 2.9g protein

To make beetroot and chocolate cupcakes

  • Pre heat oven to 185°c
  • Cook raw beetroot until soft or use pre-cooked shop bought beetroot and blend (I used the Magimix this time but have used a hand mixer before as well)
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs into the oil.  Add to the cooked beetroot and mix well.
  • Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Add the melted chocolate to the egg/oil/beetroot mixture.
  • If using cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate add it to your sifted flour in a separate bowl.  Add the sugar and raisins.  Mix well.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix everything together lightly.
  • Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases bake for 20-25 minutes until brown and risen or a fork comes out of it clean.

20-03-20_BLOG Beetroot and Chocolate muffins-720-03-20_BLOG Beetroot and Chocolate muffins-10

March 23, 2018 at 2:03 pm 4 comments

how it feels sometimes parenting a 3 year old

8-11-15 - E sticking 4 copy 4B

Trust him.

Fretting. Comparing. Fearing. Worrying. Judging. Wanting. Hoping. Wishing. Lacking. Erring. Deliberating. Procrastinating. Postponing. Trying. Working. Modelling. Learning. Grieving. Sickening. Incapacitating. Immobilising. Paralysing. Frustrating.

Trust him. Let go. Re-frame.

Invigorating. Dreaming. Bettering. Moving. Touching. Giggling. Tickling. Imagining. Creating. Making. Baking. Legoing. Cycling. Walking. Dawdling. Scooting. Dashing. Swimming. Splashing. Bathing. Reading. Singing. Dancing. Collecting. Drawing. Sticking. Cutting. Pegging. Mixing. Painting. Brushing. Helping. Wondering. Umming. Ahhing. Watching. Waiting.

Trust myself.

Struggling. Saddening. Maddening. Gladdening. Improving. Growing. Capturing. Memorising. Building. Breaking. Sitting. Playing. Sticking. Recharging. Giving. Never ending. Loving.

Trust him. Anxiety’s a liar.

14-11-15 - E with purple mixels copy 4B

2015. I remember the day I wrote this. George was away and I was having a tough time responding patiently to Euan’s craft making meltdowns. In a moment of pause later, while he was absorbed in his drawing, I wrote out all the words I was feeling. The words that screamed “not good enough”, filled me with sadness and made me question my worth as a Mother. I took a deep breath, looked at him absorbed in his drawing, and thought of all the words I was experiencing. And slowly my load felt lighter. Trust him.

March 16, 2018 at 10:54 am 5 comments

a Dr Seuss birthday party

Our big boy turned 6 in January! I can hardly believe it really as it still only seems like a blink away that he finally made his wonderful entry into the world. We wanted to give E a party to celebrate this milestone birthday (each year feels epic but this one was accompanied by losing a his first baby tooth and gaining 3 molars!). He chose Dr Seuss as a theme following on from the standard set by his 3rd birthday and we returned to the same venue, our local community cafe Roots to celebrate our fab boy with family and friends. What a wonderful time we all had thanks to Steph and Tom from Limitless Kids coming to do some party games and E’s buddies embracing the request to dress up. Even making the party food was fun as G and I made our best efforts at Seussian names for the nibbles.


February 8, 2018 at 10:38 pm Leave a comment

unbecoming

Ageing is an extraordinary process - David Bowie quote copySometimes a blog post writes itself because someone else hits the nail on the head so hard you can’t ignore it or say it any better!  This David Bowie quote and the additional thoughts shared by Glennon Doyle on Instagram today is one such post.
It also adds meaning to a post titled ”Unbecoming” that’s been in my draft folder for many months that begins

”Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything.
Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place”
(author unknown)

Some days I marvel at how far I’ve come, dealing with anxiety, work related stress, infertility, baby loss and the unexpected bone wearying exhaustion of  being a parent.  Some days I wonder why I’m still triggered by things from my childhood, teens and life pre-children.  I take comfort at least that I am discovering, painfully and slowly, that there’s always something to be learnt from our mistakes.   Growth only comes from walking the difficult path to challenge the person formed in the shadows of the opinions of other and encourage the person you really are to wriggle free and into the light.  Perhaps thats what the phrase ”Life begins at 40” really means?

5-2-17 - my boys* copy for blog

My boys are asleep upstairs and I shall soon crawl into bed between them and end my day counting my blessings. I’m always too tired to read and if I try to by day L just bats the book out of my hand but the one book I’m getting glimpses of at the moment is Brene Brown’s ”Braving the Wilderness – The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone”  I’d forgotten what the book was actually called and when I re-read the quote about unbecoming was reminded instantly of it. It seems to me that the journey to unbecoming is on the same road as true belonging.  A journey that enables you to be so comfortable in your own skin that it doesn’t matter to you what anyone else thinks.  So much so you don’t need to belong anywhere or be anyone other than your beautiful, unique self.
Brene Brown Authenticity quote

January 12, 2018 at 10:46 pm 1 comment

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About Nip it in the bud


Welcome to my blog about growing and cooking allotment veg since 2009 and growing sweet boys since 2012. Take a walk with us through our life in Gloucester with a boy, a baby and 3 cats.

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The boys and I had the most gorgeous morning at the allotment. I was pleasantly surprised how much we achieved despite a wandering toddler. We returned with lovely forced pink rhubarb from our plot grandad Dave and also some greener rhubarb from our old plot neighbour. #nipitinthebudblog #gloucesterlife #allotmentgardening #growingwithkids #pinkforcedrhubarb
So happy and proud of the infinity Lego cube he's just made. Thank you @sarahfrugalfunforboys for the inspiration and video link #welovelego #gloucesterlife
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