Sunday, 2 December 2012

December Book Of The Month

As regular readers know, I am an ambassador for Barefoot Books . Barefoot have lots of amazing books for children and I will be highlighting one as book of the month, that I think you and your little ones would love. For December I have chosen a book that is great for Christmas but will also be a great read into the new year; The Princess And The White Bear King. 

Written by professional storyteller Tanya Batt, illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli, and now narrated by award-winning actress Miranda Richardson, this book will send a tingle of excitement down your spine as you journey on a breathtaking adventure to the magical land that lies east of the sun and west of the moon. Combining the themes of three classic wonder tales - "East of the Sun, West of the Moon', "The Black Bull of Norroway' and "The White Bear King' - this exquisite fairy tale takes its roots from the Scandinavian tradition, but its story and its message ("where there is no trust, there can be no love') are universal.

Take a further look at Barefoot Books and get 20% off your first order using the code TWENTY12 at checkout, including all our weekly dazzling deals and sale items.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Winter warmers

Winter is my favourite time of year and for me there is no better weather than a cold, sunny day when you can wrap up warm and go for a a brisk walk with a cup of coffee waiting for you at the end. Hats, scarves and gloves are amongst my favourite things to buy, and of course the obligatory new winter coat. I seemed to have passed my love of all things winter clothing down to Sofia as she loves wearing her hat and keeps saying ' coat ' and ' car ' recently. So far, I have bought her a sensible rainproof coat that will be great whatever the weather brings but I may treat her to something a little bit more fancy as we get nearer to Christmas. Here are a few favourites that I have spotted whilst browsing ; so cute

Blue cape by Belle and Boo
Catamini flower coat from Alex and Alexa
Fake fur coat from Zara 
Ted baker coat at Debenhams
Mini rain coat Boden
Pretty Princess coat by Cherub Child from Not on the high street

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

My Barefoot fundraiser for the Teenage Cancer Trust

As an ambassador for Barefoot Books ( Deborah Giannasi at Barefoot Books) I am very keen to support as many charities as I can, especially those that are close to my heart. Through online fundraisers and events, I can sell books and give a little back whilst happy readers can enjoy their new Barefoot Book. Starting this month, I am very happy to be supporting a local fundraiser who is raising money for the Teenage Cancer Trust,  Leanne Salisbury is raising funds with Help a Capital Child's Great Wall of China Trek. In March 2013 she will be giving her all to walk the great wall of China, whilst raising as much money as possible. Leanne wants to raise money as;

'TCT is devoted to improving the lives of teenagers and young adults with cancer by providing dedicated units so that they can be treated together, by age appropriate specialist in an environment tailored to them. Young adults tend to develop the most rare and aggressive cancers due to their rapidly changing bodies so they also provide training for specialists to ensure an age specific approach '

To help Leanne with her fundraising you can buy one of four wonderful Barefoot Books and for every book bought £1 will be donated to her charity. Leanne has chosen two of our books set in China, to keep in theme with her trek, and due to her love of words and stars has chosen books that show off a little of Leanne's personality. Whether you want to buy a book for your little one or treat family and friends for Christmas, take a look at Leanne's choices and click on the link at the bottom of the page to place your order.

The Great Race
4-  years

Race with the animals of the Zodiac as they compete to have the years of the Chinese calendar named after them. The excitement-filled story is followed by notes on the Chinese calendar, important Chinese holidays, and a chart outlining the animal signs based on birth years. 

Motherbridge of Love
for all ages

Cherish the special bond between parent and child with this beautiful, anonymously written poem. Through the exchanges between a little girl and her adoptive parent, this poignant selection celebrates love and family. 

Thesaurus Rex
3-7 years

Follow this mischievous dinosaur as he frolics, rollicks, frisks and romps. Each colourful page introduces simple synonyms and a fun-filled way to build vocabulary and word recognition.

Star Seeker
3-11 years

Journey through the night sky on a poetic trip that blends adventure, imagination and science to teach the basics of our solar system. Includes endnotes about the planets, stars, moons, constellations and even a little mythology.

If you are new to Barefoot enter TWENTY12 at checkout and you will get 20% off your order

Thank you for taking time to read and donate and I am sure you will all join me in saying GOOD LUCK to Leanne

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Little shoes

I have written about my children's shoe fears  on here before, when I was first looking for pram shoes. I am far from a snob when it comes to clothes for myself and Sofia ; whilst I do like a few treats now and again I like to mix and match clothes that are reasonably priced with a couple of more expensive pieces to jazz up the wardrobe. One thing I do like to spend a little extra on is shoes. For me, investing in a good pair of shoes is well worth it, after all they do all of the hard work carrying us around every day. When it comes to children's shoes it is imperative that we give their cute little feet room to grow, breathe and develop in good quality shoes. But, why oh why do children's shoes have to be so ugly ? As expected with my initial fears, it is definitely apparent that Clarks has monopolised the market, sucking guilt ridden parents into their light up, sparkly, brown, clumpy shoe hell. It really is quite odd the  amount of dislike I have for Clarks; my husband really is fed up of me droning on about them! It is just every time I mentioned buying Sofia her first shoes they automatically mentioned how I ' had ' to buy from Clarks as they are the only place that measure ' properly'. I wouldn't really mind all the marketing brainwashing if the shoes were actually nice but they are not and they are charging a hell of a lot of money, especially considering they are made abroad, and from reading reviews are not always the quality they profess to be. It was not my intention to have a rant about Clarks, I simply wanted to share
a few of the lovely shoes I found whilst looking for Sofia's first pair. After much searching I stumbled upon Tiny Toes Baby Shoes and fell in love with their very cute but equally as supportive, soft and good quality as THAT shop. I realise that they are equally, if not more, expensive than Clarks but the fact that they are handmade in England make the extra pennies worth it. Here are a few others that I liked along the way;

Elephantino girls shoes from Mon Petit 
Boys Emilio shoes from Livie and Luca
Girls red London Boots from Livie and Luca
Unisex navy T bar from Tiny Toes baby shoes  
Tip Toey Joey gold trainers from Alex and Alexa
Converse trainers from Office 

Monday, 5 November 2012

Pitter Patter Painters

Whilst I think of myself as a very creative person, I am not the best at drawing or painting. My husband on the other hand is a very keen artist and is always drawing, painting or taking photographs and I think this has started to rub off on Sofia already. From quite an early age, Sofia has been picking up pens and trying to draw and it is very cute to see her scribble her ' name ' on birthday cards and pictures for family.  As the little one is only one, we have not had much exposure to painting, mostly because she puts everything in her mouth but also as it likely to get very messy! However, recently we had the perfect opportunity for Sofia to get her hands dirty, get messy and have lots of fun without all of the washing up. The Walker Art Gallery, in Liverpool, put on and event called Pitter, Patter Painters; a free event where toddlers can get to explore art and painting with lots of fun along the way. The day was lots of fun and Sofia loved getting her hands full of paint and drawing on benches and walls without getting told ' no, no, no ' . Activities included hand painting and freestyle drawing on walls but also had a few of fun ideas such as a paddling pool of paint with different shaped balls that you could coat and throw on to paper to make different shapes; definitely one for the garden if you want to try at home! I also loved the idea of having a bench coated in paint but with a layer of plastic over so that little hands who don't like getting messy can still enjoy the colours and textures.

The painting session was a part of the gallery's BIG ART project, a great project that aims to allow children to get involved in art at an early age, with a room dedicated for children to take part in various crafty activities and lots of fun ways to educate. There may be a museum near you with something similar, so it is worth checking it out. You can also check out the Tate website, with a page dedicated to   kids that has lots of great ideas for activities that you can do at home to have some pitter patter painting fun. The thing with painting though, is that it should be fun and doesn't need to be structured and organised. so get creative, don't be one of those mums who worry about the mess and get splattering.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

November book of the month: The Kite Princess

As regular readers know, I am an ambassador for Barefoot Books . Barefoot have lots of amazing books for children and I will be highlighting one as book of the month, that I think you and your little ones would love. November's  book of the month is ' The Kite Princess ', written by Juliet Clare Bell and illustrated by Laura-Kate Chapman with a CD enclosed that is narrated by Imelda Staunton.

Princess Cinnamon stitch is a tomboy who has no interest in courtly life. She'd rather cartwheel through puddles and dance with alley cats. Can she show the king and queen that there's more to life than being pretty or good?  As well as a great story that celebrates individuality and independence, this book provides a visual feast for the eyes that you and your little one will love. Help your child express themselves in their own personal way and have some fun as you read along.There are instructions in the back of the book to make your own kite, just like princess Cinnamon, so you can get really step inside the story.

Take a further look at Barefoot Books and get 20% off your first order using the code TWENTY12 at checkout, including all our weekly dazzling deals and sale items.

Monday, 29 October 2012

A year in breastfeeding

I have written about my breastfeeding experiences here before, so to celebrate a year in breastfeeding and co-sleeping,  as Sofia turned 1 recently, I thought I would simply share some of our pictures that say it all really.

A year in books

As an ambassador for Barefoot Books and a new mummy, I am passionate about books, reading and education. For me, it is never too early to introduce the wonderful world of books to babies; it can be a pleasure for both parent and child. We all want our babies to to be babies and for them to enjoy their time with us before moving on to a more structured way of learning, at school , but we can all play a big part in our children's education. Reading to young children is extremely important in the development of communication skills and can also be beneficial to their emotional development; helping them to make sense of the world around them . Reading is also fun, engaging and allows our children to be creative. 

If you are thinking what age is best for your baby to be introduced to books, I would always say as soon as possible; not quite straight out of the delivery room but almost! Personally I am not one for a strict routine but over the past year, since having Sofia, we have naturally fallen in to a nice pattern that suits all three of us. Whether you are like me or you have a more robust routine, introducing books early on can help establish a relaxed bedtime routine as well as allowing for great bonding time. As your child grows and becomes more interested in something other than sleep and milk, you can start to introduce books that your child can interact with and enjoy, particularly books that have emphasis on colour and texture for those exploring little eyes and hands. To help with ideas on what books you can buy/loan during your child's first year, I have out together a few of the books we have enjoyed with Sofia, who will be turning one shortly and is growing to love books more and more.

Newborn onwards

As I mentioned, bedtime is a great time to introduce books to young babies, whether that be short, calming stories or books to aid you in singing lullabies whilst your baby drifts off to sleep. My favourites have been Night Night Stories, by Usborne; a small collection of short stories featuring animals that need a little bit of reassurance before they go to sleep and Barefoot's Baby's first book that features lot of little rhymes and stories that are a great introduction to children's literature

3 months onwards

This is a great age to start to introduce colours and textures, as you baby's eyes start to explore and there hands start to reach out to touch new things. I have loved the Priddy books that we were bought, with Fuzzy Bee being a book that is picked up again and again by Sofia. The Priddy books are bright and attractive for babies and some have rustle, giving added fun for baby. Baby Touch books are also great, with simple and fun images that bring a smile to your baby's face.

6 months onwards

By 6 months, your baby will be wanting to explore more and more and will be more efficient in trying to turn pages and engaging with the images on the page. Babies will love texture even more at this stage, so books like the Usborne ' That's not my.... range ' are great. Sofia has also loved a beautiful Peter Rabbit finger puppet book; first of all giggling at daddy using the puppet and now trying to move the puppet herself. Introducing classics is wonderful for you as well as baby, as you remember what your favourite books were when you were a child;wanting your child to enjoy reading stories even more.

9 months onwards
Your baby is now getting more and more eager to get involved in the storytelling process and is quick to try and jump ahead and turn the pages. This is a great age to introduce action rhyme books, like the Claire Beaton from Barefoot, and get used to singing pat-a-cake over and over again. ' Heads ' by Matthew Van Fleet  is also a fun book that allows those little fingers move little flaps on the page to reveal animals tongues, heads, feet etc. 

12 month onwards
It's hard to believe that your baby has grown so quickly and is now very active, wanting to sing and dance like a little toddler. Books that have CD's attached, like the brilliant Animal Boogie from Barefoot allow interact and move about as you are telling a story. These books can be enjoyed from baby years right through to school years and are a great addition to a child's library. At this age babies can also hold their attention a little longer and may enjoy more detailed stories that are a little more in depth. As well as the classics, like ' Guess how much I love you ' , picture books that allow a hide and seek like game are great, with HUG by Jez Alborough a definite favourite in our house.

For help in getting access to books  take a look at Bookstart, an organisation that supports you to enjoy books with your child from as early an age as possible. You may have heard about Bookstart through your local children's centre or library but if not ask next time you drop in. Your local children's centre may also have a 'Toy Library', a scheme in which you pay to loan toys and books, including giant books with toy characters from the book that are great for reading in groups.
If you would like to buy the Barefoot books featured or browse some of the titles, take a look here and search by age group to find a book suitable for your little one. If it is your first visit to barefoot then please enjoy 20% off your first purchase using code TWENTY12 at the checkout.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Adopt a word

1 in 10 children in the UK have communication difficulties that require specialist help. For me, this was a surprising number and something that I come across via Adopt A Word . Adopt a word is an initiative that supports I Can, a children's communications charity providing practical solutions and support for children and carers. I Can tell is that ' for children with communication problems there is no magic cure, but with the right help. their outcomes can dramatically improve'. I am in no way an expert on children's communication, I simply make sure that I am aware of guidelines as to how my child should be developing and when to raise any concerns I have. It is good to know that there is great support out there for those experiencing difficulties, which is why I wanted to help out by adopting a word. I happened upon the campaign by chance, being a lover of words and books,  and think that it is fantastic.

As an ambassador for Barefoot Books, I have sponsored the word ' barefoot '. As an ambassador for Barefoot I want to spread the love of books and reading to parents and children and an an adopter I am making a small contribution to something that could be so big.

Whilst reading about I can and adopt a word, I came across Talking point , a service for parents and carers that provide information and advice for those worried about communication difficulties. The site is great for new parents as it gives guidlelines of development milestones, that we are all told about in numerous books and health visitors, but what can be lost amidst the madness of bringing up baby. Of course there is always support from health visitors and children's centres, with great groups such as chatterboxes, to help parents and children. Of course it is important not to over think and worry if your baby is not hitting the development milestones as we all know every child is different, some doing things quicker than others and some longer. It is good, however, to familiarise yourself with key indicators for development and to learn how you can help make the most of your child's communication. If you want to help out other children as well as your own that why not adopt a word!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Barefoot Books featuring Babywearing

As an ambassador for Barefoot Books, I am often asked for books that feature breastfeeding, co-sleeping or have a general promotion of attachment style parenting. This week, 8-14th October, is International babywearing week so I thought I would share a few books from Barefoot that have images of women wearing their babies; for you and your little one to enjoy. These books are not specifically about babywearing but feature images that are part of the everyday life of the characters in the book, which is great as it is seen as just normal rather than different.

Bear Takes a trip 2-6 years

Bear and his friend are taking a trip to the mountains. Tell the time with them as they make their way to their destination on many different types of transport and have lots of fun when they get there.

Off we go to Mexico 4-10 years

Travel to Mexico and discover its many wonders, from the amazing monarch butterflies in the Highlands to a mariacho show in the village square. The rhyme and lyricism of the text is complemented by the endnotes about the history of the country, national fiestas, and a glossary of simple Spanish vocabulary.

Mama Panya's pancakes 4-10 years

Glimpse into a Kenyan village with the story of Mama Panya and Adika’s market day and learn an important lesson about community and the rewards of sharing. Includes a helpful map, facts about Kenya, Kiswahili greetings, and even an easy-to-make pancake recipe.

Catch the goat 3-8 years

Chase after a mischievous goat! Ayoka has been left in charge of the family goat — but within minutes the goat has vanished. This Nigerian market tale helps youngsters count from ten to one and uses humour to impart a simple message about responsibility. Includes endnotes about life in Nigeria and Yoruba traditions.

Welcome to the world  all ages

Welcome new babies to the wonderful world with this collection of photographs and poems from many cultures. This unique anthology celebrates the feelings of hope, wonder, surprise, delight and fascination at each new generation of children

If you would like to take a closer look at these books visit the Barefoot site. If if this is your first visit to Barefoot and would like to buy a book, enter TWENTY12 at the checkout to get 20% discount off your first order.