Tag Archives: Shopping

Graco Symbio b: the toddler’s review

We’re half-way into the Symbio b testing and so far its a huge hit with the baby and I. I must add that other mums at school have also been admiring our wheels and one mum-to-be has just ordered one for herself, which just goes to prove how valuable personal recommendations really are.  Anyway, I decided it was time to convert the Symbio b and let the toddler have a turn…

symbio b toddler seat

Before I start, I have to point out that I am terrible at following instruction guides. I find the diagrams tricky to interpret and I have to read the written instructions several times before I can actually do the task. I am a kinaesthetic/ visual learner so I need to see something being done, whilst at the same time actually doing it myself. I think this is why it took me 20 minutes to convert the Symbio from newborn to toddler mode. Subsequent practises have been much faster and once you have the process under your belt its really quite easy.

The best thing about the fitting of the seat is that it is all secured with poppers. This means that it is all snug and secure and that there is little chance of getting things in the wrong place. Yes, first time you do it will take  a little longer than normal, but once its converted, the majority of us won’t need to do it again.

The baby nest is removed quite easily and the zips need to be done up again. Then its just a case of following the instructions to construct the seat. The seat cover is well padded and soft and as it is easily removed with the poppers, it can be easily washed if needed. This is a huge bonus for me as my last pram seat fabric was fitted to the seat unit and never really got clean again once the toddler had been let loose with a sausage roll!

symbio b toddler hood

There are three different height options for the harness so the seat really grows with your child and will last right up until they are ready to walk more. Another great point is the hood- its massive! The toddler doesn’t like having the hood up at all but if he was to fall asleep, I would be happy that the hood would provide more than ample shade for him- great in the summer, and it eliminates the need for an extra sun shade or parasol.

The seat can be reclined easily by pulling the handle at the back of the seat and again, you can swap the direction of travel with one easy motion.

Another important point- looks. As a buggy, the Symbio b is just as lovely to look at as it is in pram mode. It’s stylish and compact and moving it is just as easy. The only drawback, once more, is the size of the basket. It’s easier to access with the seat unit in toddler mode, but its still rather small, especially once the raincover is in the basket. Also, the foot rest at the bottom of the toddler seat seems to be a little short. The toddler’s feet already reach the end but I suppose he can always rest his feet over it when his legs get longer.

symbio b toddler side view

I can’t wait to use the Symbio b in toddler mode. Once the baby is 6 months, she is ready for the conversion, but until then we are perfectly happy using the newborn mode. Which brings me nicely to my last point. Converting the Symbio b from toddler back to newborn is so easy. Simply lie the seat unit flat, un-popper the seat fabric, unzip the zips at the back and insert the baby nest. You also need to re-attach the hood. That’s it!

And the toddler’s review? He told me that he likes his ‘fire engine’ pram (its bright red, like an engine) but on this particular day he was more interested in digging up the soil from my Yucca plant in the hallway- hence the grumpy face!


Graco Symbio b: the shopping centre challenge

Last week, I took the baby to register her birth. It was about time we made her all official. It was also about time the Symbio b took part in another challenge- the shopping centre challenge.

You all know this one. Can the pram make it through the door ways? Can the pram manoeuvre between cars parked close together when all the parent and baby spaces are taken? Can the pram take the pace? This is what happened…

Getting ready for the shopping challenge

Firstly, no we didn’t get a parent and child parking space. I like to think they were all taken by parents and children but I am a dreamer. Secondly, yes the pram did manage to manoeuvre between the sardine-like cars. Not a problem. Score 1.

Into the shopping centre and into the lift. We fit perfectly in with two other buggies and two other adults. Again, score 1 for the Symbio as it is a fairly compact pram so I didn’t feel we were taking too much of the allocated lift space.

Time for the doorway challenge. I bumped a couple to be honest. They were wide enough, but perhaps I am out of practise? I did  accidentally knock the pram a couple of times trying to get the wheels to swivel in the direction I wanted. This has never happened before so I think it was more human error than anything else. Score half a point here.

The floor: my old pram used to slide on shopping centre floors. What I mean is, the wheels didn’t turn, it was more of a skating motion if you see what I mean. To rectify it, I had to lock the wheels inside shopping centres and supermarkets. The Symbio coped fine. Score 1 more point.

The shopping basket. This is really the only thing I would, so far, change on the Symbio. No pram can be perfect, eh? After registering the baby, I nipped to Boots and stocked up on supplies for her and the toddler. I ended up with a huge bag which just would not fit in the basket underneath, despite the rain cover being on the pram rather than inside the basket. Luckily, I have a buggy clip which works really well and distributes the weight of the bag evenly so that there is no chance of it tipping up. BUT it would be nice to have a larger basket as sometimes you want to put more than the raincover inside.

That brings me to the raincover. I’ve had prams that have been a nightmare during shopping trips. You’re outside in the rain one minute, then inside in the artificial warm the next. How to make sure the raincover doesn’t become a chore? Practise, practise, practise! The Symbio’s raincover has clear indications as to which way round it goes and it fits over quickly and snugly, fastening with velcro at the sides. It can also be folded back onto the hood when you go inside, ready to pop back over when needed. Score 1 point.

Back to the car: Ok, so I have a big car with a big boot. I can only be fair and give a half point here. But I will say that the pram folds very compactly and the carry cot can be placed on its side so there is still room for shopping.

Overall points for the shopping challenge: 5/7

Fast asleep- she is in there, honest!

I’m going to be sneaky and add an extra point for the fact that the baby slept soundly the whole time- she clearly likes her Graco Symbio b!

What to expect when you’re no longer expecting

Ok, so without wanting to preach to those of you who already know all of this, here goes. By the way, why did nobody tell me any of this stuff anyway? I’m even talking to myself here- it’s only two years since my last postnatal period and yet I still forgot! So here is a little guide: What to expect when you’re no longer expecting- the postnatal period.

  • Firstly, it’s no longer about you any more. Those phone calls where friends and relatives ask after you? They’re really just  a formality now. What they really want to know is, how is the baby? Nobody really wants to know whether you are tired or what you had for dinner any more. They want the low down on the tiny bundle of joy you kept warm for the last nine months. You are no longer centre of anybody’s attention (aside from the baby, that is) and you better get used to it.
  • Babies take your grey cells.
  • It won’t be just the baby keeping you awake at night. Oh no. Did anybody tell you about the night sweats? This is one of Mother Nature’s final v-flicks in the whole baby-making scheme of things. Those first few weeks will see you shedding all that excess fluid in the most efficient of ways- sweating. You will wake up drenched in the stuff. Your head will itch, behind your knees will itch and your pyjamas will stick to you like lycra. If you decide to sleep with no covers, you will then wake up freezing. Oh, and then (if you’re breastfeeding) each time you feed the baby, your temperature will rise once more and the whole sweaty mess just gets worse. You now need to add an extra thirty minutes onto your morning routine (on top of the extra thirty you already added to accommodate the extra child) because your hair will need washing every morning. Unless you brave the school run looking like the wild man of borneo. I did it once.
  • Babies take your grey cells.
  • Giving birth is the best diet you can go on. It’s true. Within hours, you will notice that suddenly you can lean forward without grunting and without obstruction. It’s amazing. Your stomach will feel so flat! It may not look it, but that doesn’t matter. You instantly lose at least 5lb and then you get to sweat the rest off. If you’re breastfeeding, you’re allowed to eat an extra 500 calories and still the weight comes off! I like this one.
  • Babies take your grey cells.
  • It’s not time to ditch the big knickers just yet. Ok, so big knickers do not look so good. That’s a known fact. BUT towards the end of the pregnancy and in that immediate postnatal period, they are likely to be the only knickers you want to wear. For c-section ladies, they are quite possibly sanity savers. Yes, you may look longingly at your pretty little knickers each time you open your underwear drawers, but these bad boys serve a purpose in the long run. They really make you appreciate your normal clothes.
  • Babies take your grey cells.
  • Each time you look through your wardrobe is like going shopping. I keep re-discovering clothes I haven’t worn in, like, a year! It’s like going shopping. Honestly. Or at least the next best thing. Because, um, there really is no point in going shopping just yet. Unless you are ultra lucky and blessed with fantastic genes, it’s going to take a few more weeks to get back into your normal jeans again. Again, c-section ladies might find it takes even longer than they hoped, since all normal clothes now painfully rub against your scar. This is where the big knickers save the day once more. But there are still tops in there that you’ve forgotten about. If you’re breastfeeding, just make sure that the front can be easily adjusted… oh, ok then. Each time you open your wardrobe is like window shopping, then. So many clothes you forgot about and so many outfits you just can’t wear yet. Ho hum.

I wish someone had told me/ reminded me of all of these things. Of course, there are many more pieces of postnatal advice I could give. It’s just that I think I was supposed to be doing something else right now… did I mention babies take your grey cells?

Big Game Hunters: sand box review

I was recently contacted by the lovely people at Big Game Hunters, and I instantly fell in love with most of the stuff on their site. If, like mine, your kids love to be outside then I sincerely recommend this you take a look at this site. Highlights include the superb climbing frame collection, the simply gorgeous play houses and, of course, the fabulous garden games. We often get stuff like this around this time of year, as by the time you dig them out again in the spring time, the kids feel as though they are getting presents all over again!

The ghostwritermummy household has been very lucky indeed. We received a gorgeous wooden sand box to review and I have to admit that this is something I have wanted to get for a long time now. We finished the garden this year but the weather hasn’t exactly been favourable for playing outside ever since. However, the autumn and winter months, so far, have been lovely and the kids have been loving being outside, so the sand box has certainly been very well received!

Our sand box arrived really quickly and we were kept informed of our order each step of the way, which I think is a really important factor when you buy online. We assembled the box quickly and easily and all we need now is sand! Ever creative, we decided to make the most of all that our garden has to offer (as the toy shop had run out of play sand…) and we’ve so far filled the box with fallen leaves and twigs. The kids have loved this. They’ve spent ages playing in the box, sorting the leaves for pictures and rubbings and pretending to be explorers. Once the sand has arrived, no doubt they will continue to have fun.

The sand box itself is a good size, sturdy and fits well into our garden. It’s also a classic staple that I believe all family gardens should include. I have my own happy memories of sand play as a child and I know as a teacher the sand tray is always popular. My kids both love the sand pit at the local park too, and I’m hoping that this summer we will perfect the art of sand castles once and for all!

Overall, we love our sand box and there are loads of other products on the Big Game Hunters website that we have our eye on too. Pop over and see for yourself!

*I received a sand box for the purposes of this review. I did not receive any payment. These views are totally my own!

Mamas and Papas: I am in love!

Is it possible to be in love with a pram? I only ask because today I have met the gorgeous Mylo and I truly believe that I am in love!

I feel incredibly lucky to have been invited into the Mamas and Papas  headquarters today, to view some exclusive new ranges and to drool over the existing beautiful products which make the brand so fantastic. Can you tell I had a great day?!

Firstly, Lynne and Nicola at Mums Panel deserve a big fat thank you for inviting me and for arranging such a fabulous event. Secondly, my husband deserves a bit of a rest now because I have been bending his ear since he got home- so I thought I would blog about it instead now!

Ok, so the Mylo. Wow. Look.

The lime Jelly is my favourite colour but it is also available in Plum Pudding, Dove Grey and Black Jack. The carry cot is amazingly soft and luxurious and the selling point for me is the fact that it fits neatly onto a stand for those times when baby falls asleep on a walk and there is no way EVER that you will wake them… Also, good for refluxy babies: the mattress can be set to an incline! Hooray! Additionally, the carry cot can be adapted whilst on the floor and used to rock the baby to sleep. The pushchair variation for this model is also gorgeous. Look!

AND another selling point for me is that the Cybex Aton car seat fits onto the Mylo, which is the car seat we already have for the baby. So, what’s stopping me? Um, the price. This is Mamas and Papas top of the range model and the entire set costs £695. But it is SO funky and SO pretty (I hope Ghostwriterdaddy is reading this…)



Next on my wish list is the Urbo. Gorgeous, lightweight buggy/ pram:

As with all the pushchair ranges, the colours are divine and the one we looked at was a gorgeous, vibrant blue. This model is really compact and perfect for smaller car boots. I want one. I told you I was in love, didn’t I?


Finally, we looked at the Sola, a model I already have (in the grass colour) and one which is the reason why I initially jumped at the chance to attend the event today.

The Sola is such a fantastic, durable pushchair and when we bought it I promised my husband that I would never ever need another pram again, ever. And you know what? I don’t. We’ve had the Sola for almost two years now and there is practically no wear and tear to speak of at all. The fact that the buggy has lasted so well, particularly given the fact that the toddler and I enjoy daily power walks, is a massive indication as to the quality of the Mamas and Papas products.

Luka in his Sola!

So I don’t really need another buggy for the new baby. I’ve ordered a buggy board to fit on my Sola and I intend to wear my baby in a sling for a while too (We were lucky enough to view the new range of slings and carriers too, which I will post about this week.). BUT I came away today with the feeling that any amount is worth paying for the Mylo. Really. Truly. It’s fantastic. Did I mention that?!

In conclusion, the fabulous Mamas and Papas put on a fantastic show for us today and I am well and truly sold on practically everything. More than this though, we learnt today just how wonderfully family orientated the entire company is. I’ll blog more about this later. For now, I am off to dream… of lime jelly wonderfulness…

We are a book loving family

Chatting to my good friend @Minty_b yesterday (waterbirthplease), we found ourselves on the topic of books versus Kindles. How this linked on from the subject of Minty’s daughter deciding to talk through clenched teeth for the day( Strange Happenings) or my son’s repeated- successful- attempts at slipping out of his jeans halfway up to the slide, I’m not sure. But we do manage a few sensible conversations, you know.

Anyway, so we were chatting about Kindles and books and whether or not you can curl up with an electronic device as well as you can with a paper book. I declared the ghostwriter household as a ‘book loving family’ and remained unconvinced.

This is one of our bookcases at home:

You might notice that there are not only good old fashioned books here, but vinyl records too. Ghostwriterdaddy belongs to a diminishing set of people who still buy them these days. And he plays them regularly on the decks you might see on top. This is just one bookcase in out house and its crammed.

This is my daughter’s bookcase:

She loves books too. Here is one of her other ‘collections’:

I couldn’t take a picture of the toddler’s book case as he’s in bed right now. You’ll just have to trust me when I say that he has loads.

Our house is literally filled with books and herein lies the problem. We are running out of space! Is a Kindle really the only way to go? Defiant, I took the toddler to the library this morning. We spent a lovely hour or two reading and colouring. He was so excited to get his picture on the window and we have to bring ‘Dar’ (his sister) to see it after school. It was a lovely  morning, made all the more special by all the books.

So I’m still undecided. Do you have a Kindle or similar? What’s the big deal? Do I need to get one? I have to say that Minty posed some pretty good arguments, being a book lover herself. Maybe I need a few more opinions?

Baby and all bag- a review

I am extremely lucky to have been sent a really fabulous, innovative and above all handy bag to review. The Baby and All bag is more than just a changing bag. It’s an award winning, newly patented bag that really lends a helping hand!

Regular readers of my blog might know that my son benefited greatly from being carried in slings and carriers from a really young age. It helps his reflux and also helped us to bond after a pretty rocky beginning. Some of you might also know that we are off to Florida this summer and so the Baby and All bag has come at exactly the right time! Let me explain…

The Baby and All bag is a stylish looking changing bag with a baby carrier attached so that when little ones are tired of walking you can simply pop them in and off you go. It’s perfect for popping to the shops (we tried that one) and I’m thinking it will be ideal for Disney World. The toddler is at the stage where he can become tired of siting in the buggy yet his little legs don’t always keep him going for long. Sooner or later Mummy or Daddy are required to give a helping hand and I don’t fancy doing that in the heat on holiday. The great thing about the bag is that you just clip the seat together and pop him in- simple!

There are three different positions you can use but the toddler and I prefer the hands free hip position. This was always his favourite position in the sling as he can talk to me and still see what’s going on around him. That’s going to be essential for spotting Mickey Mouse!

I really can’t recommend this bag enough. Such a clever idea that it’s a wonder it wasn’t invented before! This is one essential travel item we will definitely be taking with us this summer. It will be handy for the busy airport before we even leave the UK and obviously, a girl can never have too many bags…

The Baby and All bag is available at Mothercare, Debra Clare and Amazon and is the winner of the following awards: Tommy’s Innovation for Baby Award, BPA Concept Award, Mother and Baby Magazine bronze award winner for most innovative product, and finalist in Practical Parenting and Pregnancy Awards. The bag also comes with a changing mat and retails at £45.95.


Verdict: a super stylish changing bag with lots of room for essentials and a fabulous integrated carrier- a fantastic product that ultimately enables busy parents to keep their little ones close without resorting to the buggy. Perfect for enabling toddlers to feel independent and for keeping them safe and secure.

Watching the pennies when grocery shopping

Today I have a guest post on my blog, dealing with a very current issue… money, and how to save it! Think Banking has very kindly put together the following tips to help busy parents to save pennies whilst out shopping. Please let me know what your top tips are when it comes to saving pennies!

Watching the pennies when grocery shopping

Walk into any store and you’ll be bombarded with temptation. Stores spend massive amounts of time and money on understanding how we shop and why we buy. They use this knowledge to their advantage – there are all kinds of things in a store designed to persuade you to buy now! Even the sweeties at the checkout are there to tempt you.

So how do you protect yourself from the power of temptation? If you want to save money buying groceries, you need to plan ahead! Preparation is going to be your key to success.

Make a shopping list and stick to it

The whole point of sticking to your (carefully planned) shopping list is to avoid buying anything you don’t really need.

Avoid temptation – go shopping in a hurry

It might sound odd, but if you need to be at the school gate in half an hour, then you won’t have time to pick up lots of extra items. Just make sure you’re not too rushed to make sensible decisions.

Shop less often
If you go less often, there is less temptation to overspend. Same goes for shopping on an empty stomach – which can seriously damage your willpower!

Buy in bulk to save money overall
Special bulk offers are really tempting, but try to stick to things that you really need. Buying things like canned goods, soap powder or bathroom products in bulk can be practical because they will eventually get used. Buying perishable items in bulk that can go in the freezer is also fine – just make sure you don’t buy more than the freezer can hold!

Shop around

If you have time, you might find it’s cheaper to buy different products in different stores as they may have different promotions. You could buy your cleaning products at a discount store and bulk buys at a cash and carry of some kind. Also, compare your receipts from different stores to make sure you’re getting the best deals.

Don’t get hung up on brands

Try some non-branded items in your shopping list and don’t just fall for the advertising.

Check your bank balance before you go shopping

Have you ever spent so much that you left yourself short to pay your bills that month? thinkbanking current accounts are designed to help people stick to a budget. Opening an account like this is an extra step you can take to help you watch the pennies.

Kiddy Car Seats- a very thorough review!

Our Kiddy Car Seats arrived last week, just in time for the mamoth journey down south to my parent’s house. The ultimate test, you might say. The baby hates to be in the car for too long, especially in the heat and so the three hours it takes to get there is often broken up somewhat for stretching of the legs and so on. Let’s just say that by the time we get there, we’re all desperate to get out of the car.

Anyway, this time around, the baby had his new car seat to recline in- and let me tell you, this baby reclines! We have the Kiddy Guardian Pro in Capt’n Sharky for the baby and it’s  a lovely design. Unlike the last seat, it fits really easily and straps the child in with very little fuss. There was no swearing and/ or kicking of car tyres from the husband. Also, the baby got a complimentary bandana which is a massive plus.

Kiddy Guardian pro in Capt'n Sharky

So the baby slept for most of the journey and for the rest he looked very cute and grown up. On the way home, he slept again but this time in the upright position. Both positions were fine for him to sleep in as the head guards supported him perfectly and prevented any of that stiff-neck-from-falling-asleep-nodding thing that he sometimes has going on. The big one also reclined in her seat (because she could), the very nicely designed Kiddy Crusier Pro in the bubble design.

Kiddy Cruiser Pro in Bubble

So the long journey was a success on all counts, even if the baby did wake up before we got home and *forced* us to dance like robots to Daft Punk just for his own amusement. But what about the ultimate test for any car seat? The reason why we spend ages choosing them, fitting them correctly and positioning belts etc. How would my new Kiddy car seats stand up to the unimagineable- a bump?

Today we were sat in traffic when a large van ploughed into the car infront of us, causing that car to plough into us. At first, I wasn’t entirely sure what had happened and then, as the baby began to scream and the big one’s faced registered complete and utter shock, I realised. I flew out of the car to tend to them and- thankfully- they were fine. I don’t think the young driver of the van was though- the car he’d hit had a nine-months pregnant passenger too.

I’m pleased to report that everyone was fine and no damage done. And the car seats? They may have prevented whiplash. Both children were securely fastened in and their necks protected by the head guards on the seats. Both children emerged smiling a few minutes later, whilst I stood shaking.

So now you know why this has been titled ‘a very thorough review’. My Kiddy car seats were put to the ultimate of tests and I’m pleased to report that they passed with flying colours! I would certainly recommend these seats- not only are they funky, fun and comfortable, but they conform to every standard going so that you know your kids are safe while you drive.

I don't think the baby was impressed with my robot dance...

*Kiddy sent me these car seats as part of my sponsorship with them for Cybermummy 2011. I did not receive any other payment and I was not asked to write a review. I wanted to share my experience; all views are my very own! I have written this post as part of Love Of Film’s show some respect meme, where I was tagged. This is my thanks to Kiddy for their sponsorship and their car seats.

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