Capturing Normal With The AMP Photo Co

Being the one usually behind the camera, you’re never that comfortable being photographed. It’s nonsense really as I know that when I’m staring through a lens, I’m not thinking how that person looks, I’m working out the settings, the composition and the focus. So why I feel a certain sense of unease having someone taking my photo is bonkers. But I do. It’s for that very reason why I detest staged and posed photos, to me, they lack personality and not a true capture of that moment in time. 

Nope, give me lifestyle, reportage style photos any day and this was reinforced recently when the boys and I were the muse for The AMP Photo Co, based here in Devon.

Curious? Well the session looked a little like this……

After several emails back and forth, one half of the award-winning husband and wife duo, Mike gave me a little background on how the location photo shoot would work. His wife Anna is credited with being one of the top wedding photographers in the country so I knew we’d be in good hands.

We were to choose a setting in which we’d be photographed just going about our day and Mike would be in the back round capturing every little moment. I was keen on a snap shot of raw family life; Our ‘normal’ is a different ‘normal’ to this time last year. The boys are teenagers, doing normal teenage things. My pre schooler is our happy little distraction, always keeping us grounded. Ditto for the dog.

And how best to preserve these days than in a picture diary which we can look back on one day and really feel that moment. Good or bad, it’s a memory and not the social media perfect we try to put out there.

Instead of the staged studio photos a typical shoot depicts, I look at these photos and I see a 17-year-old who is tired after a night out with his friends.

Capturing the moments we sometimes miss with The Amp Photo Co location photoshoot

I see a 13 year old, who I worry isn’t happy, smiling.

When you’re so focused on one little negative it’s so easy to miss the positives.

Capturing the moments we sometimes miss with The Amp Photo Co location photoshoot

I see a 3-year-old who is fascinated with the world around him.

Capturing the moments we sometimes miss with The Amp Photo Co location photoshoot

Who might be the smallest in our family but has the biggest personality.

Capturing the moments we sometimes miss with The Amp Photo Co location photoshoot

And I see a mum who’s often a little pre occupied with her thoughts……..
Capturing the moments we sometimes miss with The Amp Photo Co location photoshoot

but is easily distracted by the slightest thing her kids do to make her smile.

Capturing the moments we sometimes miss with The Amp Photo Co location photoshoot

Then there’s our spaniel, the one who gets over looked most of the time, but our go-to for cuddles.

Capturing the moments we sometimes miss with The Amp Photo Co location photoshoot

And that’s what The AMP Co photo shoot showed me, what is going on in our family right now.

Our normal.

Capturing the moments we sometimes miss with The Amp Photo Co location photoshoot

 

Many thanks to The Amp Photo Co for let us experience a photo session on our local beach in Devon 

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A Review Of The Cosatto Hug Isofix

The new car seat laws have completed confused me and I know I’m not the only one, since February 2017, manufacturers aren’t allowed to introduce new models of backless booster seats for children shorter than 125cm or weighing less than 22kg.(existing booster seats and cushions are not affected by new rules.) The states that children must normally use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, whichever comes first, so all is worth taking into consideration when buying one so you don’t find your having to keep replacing them, which is my main reason for the Cosatto Hug Isofix  being top of our choice.

Having a car seat which will see my son through to the next 6 years means I can relax and not worry about having to start my research once again in a few years. Next on my must have list were isofix fittings. To me, it’s a much more safer way to travel and so much easier when moving between vehicles as you don’t have to faff around removing seat belts. The Cosatto Hug Isofix also has a top tether for extra stability, and it certainly feels a lot more locked in with that top tether in place.

And then there’s finding something which my son will like. I’m very lucky t have quite an articulate toddler, but I’m also rather unlucky to have such an article toddler sometimes, as he will quite happily tell you if he doesn’t like it. And when you have a child with an opinion, then Cosatto designs are a blessing. I’ve been drawn to their fun and funky patterns for years. You can spot them a mile off! After a process of elimination we settled on the cutely named Cuddle Monster, with extra-cushioned Side Impact Protection and 5 point safety harness it looks the business too.
When being used as a stage 2 and 3 carseat (usually around age 3 or above 15kg) you can use the adult car seat which saves even more time getting in and out the car. Although my son is only just 3 and has a habit of moving his arms out the straps or an adult seat belt so I’ll be sticking with the 5 points harness for as long as is comfortable. Plus the unit wriggle system helps stop that happening even more.

5 point harness & anto escape set up (under the arms)
There’s 5 recline positions and an adjustable head rest as well as super squigy, padded seat (our old booster seat was rock hard and the kids hated it so shouldn’t have any problems this time.) And the removable seat liner is a great potty training protector, not that I imagine that’s what it’s for, but pop a plastic bag underneath and hey presto, you’ve don’t have to worry about an accidents.

A review of the Cosatto Hug isofix

padded seat and arm rests

Proof in the pudding is what my mini precious cargo thinks of it…….the smile says it all really!

The Cosatto Hug Isofix is currently on special offer at selected retailers check their stockists page to find out more

Disclaimer

I have been sent this car seat in return for my honest thoughts, all photos and words, unless otherwise stated are my own 

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Toddler Lunch box Ideas For A Toddler-Sized Challenge

Having worked in a school in the past, it was astonishing to see the difference in the sizes of what the kids brought in for packed lunch. I remember saying at the time that there needs to be some more information giving clear examples of what is a suitable portion size. The parents were getting the healthy message (the majority were at least) but there were a few children who came in with more food than an average adult could eat in one sitting.

I guess I wasn’t alone in thinking that there was a gap in information as the Infant & Toddler Forum launched the #rethinktoddlerportionsizes campaign to help raise awareness of it’s not just what we put on toddlers’ plates it’s also how much last year.

I not alone in thinking that there should be a clearer message that it's not just what we put in a toddlers’ lunch box it’s also how much

And they’re back with a challenge for parents, grandparents and guardians to see how can you take all the ITF’s guidance and make it PRACTICAL and easy for all parents to follow every day at every meal?

Curious? Why not visit Toddler Sized Challenge to find out more, join in and share, comment, vote and have the chance to win £1000 and two £500 runners-up prizes as well as spot cash prizes of £100 for commenting and engaging.

a toddler lunch box meal planner for the Toddler sized challenge

I’m weighing in with my tuppence and submitted a suggestion to the challenge already. too with some lunch box ideas on how to help parents ensure they’re getting their toddler lunch boxes spot on.

There are some great menu ideas on the website a but I’ve purposed an idea for downloadable sheets of menu planners with suggestions for toddler lunch boxes  Taking inspiration from the Think Toddler Sized website and creating a go to sheet for lunch boxes which can be printed off and placed on your fridge, or saved as a photo of your photo along with a quick read shopping list section of items to buy.

The idea is about simplifying life for parents, grandparents and carers and taking the stress out of thinking what to buy.

Now I’ve shared mine, what’s would your idea to help parents to Think Toddler Sized be? Why not visit the website (links here if you missed it earlier http://bit.ly/ToddlerSizedChallenge ) to see what’s already been suggested and see if you can come up with something new then upload your idea to the website. You’ve got to be in it to win it!

Think about:

  • The 4 different food groups: carbs, protein, dairy and fruit/vegetables
  • How often different types food should be offered every day
  • How much should be on the plate – think toddler portions

a toddler lunch box meal planner for the Toddler sized challenge



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Reviewing The Sleep Tight All Night Bear

Sleep, babies, toddlers, blah, blah, blah. They have got to be one of the most talked about subjects on every parent’s lips at some point in their kid’s lives and I totally put my hands up, I have quite an unconventional approach to sleep. 3 babies in and I ripped up the rule book and stopped fretting about what everyone else did with my last baby and followed my son’s lead.

We co slept for 2 years as that was the only way he settled and even now he wanders into my bed most nights or mornings.  He’s a happy, sociable child and I’ve never had the sleep deprivation that I experienced with my older kids. So why am I reviewing a sleep aid device, if I don’t think my son has a sleep problem you’re probably thinking?

Well, as much as I have no problem with early morning or night-time snuggles. As a work from home mum, who’s most productive part of the day tends to be the evening. I could REALLY do with cutting down our bed time routine. In the past I can spend over an hour settling, reading and sitting with my boy waiting for him to nod off for the night. He’s such a busy little thing at the best of times and seems to pull every last snippet of energy out the bag just before he heads off to dream land.

Which is why I’m testing the Sleep Tight All Night, I was curious to see if it helped cut down bed times.


Looking light a normal teddy, it’s a cuddleable sleep aid which helps teach your child when to sleep and when to get up by using different coloured lights and sounds to differentiate day and night. There’s a selection of  soothing white noise and nature noises for night and cute phrases for day.

We started off by keeping the Sleep Tight All Night  bear downstairs in daytime mode for few days while my son got use to it, then we moved onto to introducing it to our bedtime routine. Each night, after the usual round of stories, I remind my boy to get his sleep teddy, he pull’s out the unit which sits under a velcro’s patch of material at the bottom, set the timer, then go through which noise he wanted.

reviewing the sleep tight all night bear to helpmeet toddler settle more quickly at bed time and improve our bedtime routine

After a few days or so, he’d always opt for the heart beat sound but only after he’d been through every other one. I really started to notice a difference to how quickly he settled after a week. There’s was much less resistance and tossing and turning as he went through the same routine ending with selecting his noise, putting the monitor back in the teddy and telling me the light is red so time for bed. Then laying down quietly, drifting off in half the time he’d done previously.

reviewing the sleep tight all night bear to helpmeet toddler settle more quickly at bed time and improve our bedtime routine

I’ve not seen any change to keeping him in his bed all night yet, but if I’m honest, I’ve not really enforced this as I don’t have a problem which him coming in to sleep with me as he drifts straight back off. So I can’t comment on how effective it is in that respect, that said, I will be trying it out when he’s a little older and able to understand that he needs to stay in his bed and go back to sleep.

In a nutshell, the Sleep Tight All Night teddy has cut down bed time by helping my toddler settle and wind down to relax off to sleep. It’s given my son some independence and control over his bed time routine and is now a permanent feature on his pillow, I’m hoping it helps maintain some normality when going on holiday too!

Disclaimer

We were sent this product for the purpose of this review, the Sleep Tight All Night is available to buy  from Golden Bear Toys 

 

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What’s on your tots plate?

Have you ever got to the end of the day and wondered if your toddler has eaten enough? I speak from experience of bringing up 3 toddlers over the years when I say that is probably one of the biggest worries as a parent. All three of my boys have been little and often eaters making it really hard-working out if they’ve managed all of their main food groups along with the required vitamins and minerals.

I think I did ok as my older two are relatively healthy (although my middle son is currently on a sugar binge which is having a really negative effect on his skin but I’ve very little control over what he eats during the day or weekends so it’s a loosing battle.)

Which leave my last little 2-year-old snack loving son. His current favourite thing to do is ask for food only to take 1 or 2 bites and refuse the rest. Not good. But recently I’ve been totting up everything he’s eaten using a Tot It Up  food tracker which takes the worry and working out away.


It’s really quick to set up and even quicker to see a run down of how your toddler has eaten. Once you’ve navigated your way around the different foods, it’s quite simple to see a complete round-up of how you’ve managed that day. I was quite shocked how far behind the recommended daily amount after my first day of using it which really helped to plan the rest of my son’s weekly menus.

If you’re intrigued how much your child is eating then why not take the The Tot It Challenge? It aims to encourage 1000 mums to try out the Tot It Up food tracker, which will help build the biggest picture of toddler eating habits and activity nationwide.  Understanding habits will help shape future advice to support families.  We know that other mums are inspired by you, so we would like you to encourage mums to get involved, so that we can further understand habits.

All the people who sign up and have a go will be in with a chance of  winning 1 of 10 £50 love2shop.co.uk shopping vouchers.  Entrants should register at http://www.infantandtoddlerforum.org/tot-it-up-loginand complete at least one day’s food intake, drink and activity (that is at least one day’s breakfast, mid-day meal, evening meal, snacks, drinks and activity).  The competition closes on the 21st November 2016.

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This is a collaborative post

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