creating extraordinary moments with Cow and Gate

*This is an advertorial post in collaboration with Cow & Gate Growing Up Milk.*

 

Our bedtime routine is pretty run of the mill; bath, brush teeth and a story.  Sounds easy right? You’d think so, but what tends to happen  is that he gets more lively in the last 30 minutes before lights out, almost like he’s letting off the last bit of steam before he can truly relax and pack in some zzzzz’s (how he has any left is beyond me) he’s pretty good and once he’s asleep, he’s out for the count until morning.

This week we’ve been trying something a little different. We’ve been creating some extraordinary moments with the Cow & Gate Growing Up Milk website.

This week we’ve been on a mission to the moon!

Thanks to Cow and Gate Growing Up Milk our story times have gone all interactive and technological with a personal story book created on their website. After much consideration choosing which adventure he’d like to go on, my rocket loving boy thought it’d be fun to go visit the moon which we look out the window for most nights. So after gathering up the right equipment; a space helmet, some moon rocks and making a discovery bottle full of glitter and sequins we were ready to go!

creating extraordinary moments with an online interactive story book

 

Then at bedtime we swapped our usual collection of books (I say collection, but really mean library, he literally wants to me to read everything he has in his bookcase!) for a personalised story  on the laptop which I’d made earlier. Popping some details (who the story was about, Mummy and Ronnie in our case) adding a landscape photo with some space around the sides and pressing create.

Toddlers love nothing better than seeing themselves on the screen so as we re-lived our mission to the moon, armed once again with his space helmet and moon rocks in hand, he was ready to hear the story about the time Mummy and Ronnie went to the moon. And for a rare moment, my boy was calm and engaged instead of listening to me read while practicing somersaults and headstands.

greating extraodanary moments with cow & gate with your toddler and this really cute online book

Toddlers love nothing better than seeing themselves on the screen so as well relived our mission to the moon, armed once again with his space helmet and moon rocks, he was ready to hear all about the time Mummy and Ronnie went to the moon. And for a rare moment, my boy was calm and engaged instead of listening to me read while practicing somersaults and headstands.

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This is a sponsored post 

 

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I love a challenge, it keeps life interesting and gives you something to aim for. Luckily I’m not too competitive so if I don’t succeed then it’s all down to experience with very few tears and minimum sulks.  So how does that  fit into a review of the latest Mercedes C-class saloon you ask?

My challenge was to see how it fared as a family car.


Now as challenges go, this was pretty luxurious; a high-end, top of the range car with all the mod cons a gadget loving mum could wish for. Pretty lush as challenges go, I totes admit. My only worry was the abundance of older gentlemen I’d seen driving around my Devon roads, it’s retirement central down here, which has a big baring on my observation so I did have a niggling doubt it wouldn’t suit our needs completely.

So there lay my challenge…. would a Mercedes C-Class Saloon suit a mum, teenager, tween and toddler.  We cover the whole age range right now so this was going to be a thorough test!

First Impressions

Ok, this is serious eye candy. End of. The front styling catches your eye straight away, it’s a long car but don’t for one minute let that put you off. (Keep reading and you’ll find out why.) There’s no mistaking the Mercedes quality as soon as you see it. Stepping in side, you’re greeted by a cockpit feel as you sink into the leather seats. My toddler was straight in the back, having a gander, the door depth meant no problems asserting his independence a making his own way into his seat. Time saver and toddler tantrum diverter all in one manageable lump!

Would I recommend the Mercedes C-Class as a family car? I tested it out over a long weekend with a toddler, tween and teenage. Find out how I got on.

Gadgets Galore!

First off was to get my seating position right. At 5’3″ I needed to notch the seat up and forward quite a bit. The controls are on the door and really easy to get the hang of, as well as those I’ve just mentioned, you can also adjust the depth of the seat which I could pull it back so it rested at the back of my knees supporting my thighs and still giving me plenty of room to move my lower legs. Next was to adjust the steering wheel height so I could see over the dash without it obstructing my view. Then we were good to go! Nearly.

Would I recommend the Mercedes C-Class as a family car? I tested it out over a long weekend with a toddler, tween and teenage. Find out how I got on.

There’s a central touchpad which controls the tablet style screen which sits in the centre dash and gives everything you need at the click of a button; radio, telephone, navigation and car settings such a colour and brightness of the ambient lighting. (I chose a cool blue which radiated from a lighting strip on the door to light up the door controls without being a distraction which was sooooooo chillaxing while driving in the dark.)

So with the toddler strapped into to his seat via the isofix settings, teenager commanding front seat position, tween reluctantly sitting in the back, Radio 1 selected, I’m cool like that <cough, cough>  directions set and temperature adjusted it was ready to drive.

The Drive

You select your (automatic) automatic gears  from a stick (is that the correct term?) just behind the steering wheel. A simple up for reverse and down to drive then push the button in the park. Theres no hand break so it’s foot on the accelerator and go.

Smooth was the word for the journey, smooth with bells on!

You can barely feel the gear changes and it gets up to speed in no time. We started in comfort mode but as we hit the twisty Devon lanes it was time to test it out in sport mode. The suspension dropped slightly and my god did it handle the corners superbly. I’ve never driven anything which felt so in control of the road. Barely touching the accelerator, every turn and brake gave the most comfortable car ride I have ever had. The toddler dropped off without so much as a murmur and the leg room was ample for my leggy 12-year-old.

Would I recommend the Mercedes C-Class as a family car? I tested it out over a long weekend with a toddler, tween and teenage. Find out how I got on.
Now anyone who’s had the pleasure of driving the narrow lanes going out of Beer and Branscombe in East Devon will understand my apprehension of taking a sparkly new, larger car on a jolly down roads where you often have to stop and reserve into a dug out pull ins. But I needed to see how this car would handle every situation I might find myself in, and this is where the reversing camera came into it’s own.

Would I recommend the Mercedes C-Class as a family car? I tested it out over a long weekend with a toddler, tween and teenage. Find out how I got on.
With guide lines helping you adjust your turn and giving you a much better view of what’s behind you than looking over your shoulder could ever do, I had no problem reversing to let traffic through. The same went for parking. Nothing phased me and that was where the real joy of having a large family car didn’t compromise on the possible difficulty you’d face in everyday situations.

And as a Family car?

I like to avoid any cries of I haven’t got any room, any whinging really, but the leg room thing is a concern, and the leg room in the back seats and passenger seat of the Mercedes C-Class was spot on. Comfort was at a premium with temperature adjustments for each passenger and scuff marks from the toddler’s feet on the back of the front seats immediately wipeable thanks the hard plastic back.

The doors open wide enough to get a toddler or baby into a car seat without any difficulty and if attaching via an isofix in the front seat, the air bag is automatically disabled. The isofix connections allow you to use the outer and middle seats so there’s plenty of options for positioning. It really passed the toddler test on several levels/

What really surprised me though, was the size of the boot. I managed a weekly shop and a pushchair with ease and hand bags / changing bag sat on the floor by my toddlers feet. The boot shuts by the touch of a button on the inner edge and opens via the key so no getting your hands dirty too.

Been there, done that, got the smudge marks on my face.

Avoiding dirty hands is a bonus, believe me!

Would I recommend the Mercedes C-Class as a family car? I tested it out over a long weekend with a toddler, tween and teenage. Find out how I got on.
School picks up were a dream. With the boys having no hesitation at being seen in such a cool looking car, I was able to find and park in a spot at the busy school road thanks to the parking assist. The stereo is crystal clear too, so with a Spotify playlist set up on my iPhone, I linked it to the media settings using the touchpad and we were off. There’s also 2 usb changing points as well as the cigarette lighter style charging point so plenty of places to keep devices topped up on long journeys.

Volume and telephone answer and hang up buttons are on the steering wheel but you can also select the stereo volume from a dial in the centre. With everything to hand it meant all my attention was on the road. I didn’t find the information screen a distraction, incase you’re wondering, as you can change radio channels with your left hand on the touchpad at a position which doesn’t feel at all restrictive.

As an added extra, we were lucky to have the sun make an appearance during our weekend testing out the Mercedes so I opened  up the panoramic sunroof  and let the fresh air in. It’s probably the closest I’d like to get to a soft top while still appreciating all that nature has to offer while driving!

Is It Fuel Efficient?

This is a big car, so I naturally thought I’d pay the price in fuel. Wrong! The information panel records how much you’ve used and relays it in a graph style and as you drive the information panel shows how much you’re using. I cruised along at 50 – 60 mph on the A roads & 70 mph on the motorway with an average fuel consumption of 80 mpg. You do see if dive down to the 30 mpg mark when knocking the accelerator into touch to get up steep hills and over taking but generally it sat at the 80 mark.  As a money savvy mum those stats made me smile.

And the bad……

Ok, I’ll level with you. I wanted to find a fault to make this a full and honest review so I dug deep and found it. Yes it, Just 1. There’s no rear wiper. For the best part of 2o minutes on the second day I tried every control and consulted the car manual to find where the bloody thing was. The back window needed clearing of morning dew and despite the large side mirrors giving me a clear view of what was behind, (which I noticed drop down when in reverse so you can a good view of everything around, so cool!)  I still wanted that window cleared.

Then I flicked on the rear demister and hey presto, problem solved! So no, there’s no bad points. I lied.

The Mercedes C-Class In A Nutshell

I’ll go as far to say that this has been one of the most enjoyable cars I’ve ever driven. It’s comfortable for all passengers, the drive is unbelievably smooth, it corners like a dream and it’ll get you out of trouble taking over the odd tractor or cyclist. Once behind the wheel you don’t feel like you’re driving a big car and with all the seat adjustments you can comfortably  manage long journeys with ease.

It looks good, it feels good and I felt safe. So would I suggest it as a family car?

Does a bear……….

Would I recommend the Mercedes C-Class as a family car? I tested it out over a long weekend with a toddler, tween and teenage. Find out how I got on.

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I’d never class myself as an opinated person, but there are occasions when I have to express a preference and one of these occasions is clothing for toddlers. Given the choice, my boy would be dressed head to toe in Paw Patrol & Fireman Sam apparel, I on the other hand am not a huge fan of character clothing. Sorry boy!
I much prefer to see a funky kitted out little chap, rocking the latest fashion and while mamas holding the purse strings, I’ve still got a little control. History has taught me it won’t be long until any opinion I have about fashion will be met with complete and utter ghast and grunts of “seriously, who lets their mum choose their clothes or on a good day, “it’s ok mum, I’ll go and choose them myself.” Hormone pending.

Kitting out the toddler in River Island, thus last collection of kids fashion is super trendy
Just take this outfit from River Island kids range for example. Seriously, how ruddy cute is it! If on trend comfy gear floats your boat then head over to their site sometime, you really won’t be disappointed. With my younger 2 boys being within their age range ( 0 -12 years ) I could be really mean and dress them in matching but the tween would probably disown me. In all honesty though,  I’ve been spoilt for choice trying to choose some toddler gear and the price works for me too, these boys do growth spurts with gumption!
Things I’m loving the most in the toddler range are little helpful extras like elastic waist adjusters to accommodate slim jim’s and the material being super soft. The sizes are pretty true to size and can withstand rough and tumble play.

While the boots have side zips so no fiddling round with laces and wriggly toddlers. Happy days! (Although my boy does insist on trying to undo them every time.)

I’ve now got one dapper looking dude to chaperone me on my daily errands!

Kitting out the toddler in River Island, this last collection of kids fashion is super trendy

Disclaimer 
I have been sent the products for the purpose of this review. All photos and words are entirely my own. 

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So many memories are made while travelling in a car. wiz back some 30 odd years and I can still transport myself back to the front seat of our Ford Cortina driving down the motorway at night from Up North to stay with our relies in Devon, Lionel Richie and Genesis playing away as I nattered away to my dad while mum sat in the back holding my brother and my sister slept. Car safety was a little hit and miss back then, but it’s a warm fuzzy memory which I treasure. Only ever topped by the lights which we thought were shaped liked boats at Granada Services in exeter and then the total excitement on the decent of the hill in my grandparents village. Yeah……. car journey nostalgia, love it.

I’m the kind of mum who’s always doing that “I remember when” thing to my boys. I had an awesome childhood and would love it of they looked back and reminisced like I do when they’re parents/uncles/any significant adult. So it’s got me thinking about some one the most memorable car journeys we’ve shared and I think the ones which stick the most are the ones I taken them on myself. Such as the first swimming lessons in a nearby private pool. A mere 10 minute journey, they were quite momental.

I was a late learner driver you see so as soon as I passed my test, I booked up simply because I now had the means to get them there rather than rely on others for lifts. Each Monday night we pilled into our Vauxhall Astra which always coincided with Phenomena being played on the radio and as we (ok, it was just me) sang loudly and badly, the boys pleading with me to stop through their giggles. I still try it now and then to raise a smile from my now nonchalant teens. Funny how even a groan of “seriously mum, can you just stop it now”  is enough conversation to keep me happy these days. simple things.

oh and another milestone has to be the first time I took my nervous and excited 11 year old to meet his friends in town where he walk around on HIS OWN for a few hours while I sat nervously in a coffee shop. Sure, he’d been out and about in the village plenty of times with his buddies but for a small village boy, who’d just started secondary school, this was a big moment, for us both. The whole journey was spent with me checking he had arranged the right meeting place, where I was going to pick him up and trying to hide my angst.

Seems like I did the right thing though as Family Lives author Suzie Hayman, who suggests Playing the “what if…” game allows you to voice concerns and then listen and coach them through coping mechanisms, so you can trust them to behave sensibly. Rather than the do and don’t rule of making sure they are ok on their own. It’s still a technique that pops up every now and then.

The ultimate car journey milestone in any parent’s log book has got to be the first journey home from hospital. I can vaguely remember all three of mine. My youngest being the clearest as I was taken aback completely by the look of sheer utter love and shock in my older boy’s faces. while I stared at them they stared at their brother. a huge tear jerker on a proud mum moment. As Suzy Haymen explains,

babies aren’t even sure at this stage where they end and you begin which is why they investigate their own hands, fingers and toes with as much curiosity as the bits of you they can reach. But they recognise your voice and show a preference for it, and want to be held and rocked and to hear you. Safety comes first in a car however so they need to be strapped into that seat, but keep a hands-on close connection and sing and talk to them on the trip home and go back to cuddling and holding as soon as you can.

Turns out my boy would go on to HATE every car journey which followed as he wanted nothing more than being held and so car journeys for the first 12 months were so what limited. If you’re in the same boat then one thing which helped was a change in car seat. Speaking of which, if you’re about to create your own car journey milestones then The Graco Milestone car seat will see you through them all being suitable from birth to 12 years. I’ve got through 4 already so finding one which lasts would’ve saved me a fortune!

What are your car sear milestones? mine has to be the car journeys to swmming lessons and the first rides home with my new babies from the hospital  read more here to see if you have any similar ones.

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Hands up who loves to get glammed up for crimbo (Me!)  Think dress, high heels, fancy pants hair; you get the picture. If you can’t watch movies in a sassy dress at 3pm in the afternoon when can you? And this year my toddler very nearly chaperoned me to the dinner table in the most adorable tuxedo suit EVER if it wasn’t for a Batman hoodie which I hated and he adored. Somethings just aren’t worth arguing over though so I packed away this bad boy ready for a major family wedding coming up in June where I’m sure he will coax oodles of  “awwwwww’s” from the guests  as he carries the rings for the lucky couple.

(Best hide the Batman hoodie that day)


Luckily it’s be made with a little one’s delicate skin in mind as the super soft material meant that there was no resistance getting it on. (We did have a major one getting it off as he assured me it would be the perfect attire for walking the dog. so I guess you could say it’s been toddler approved.) And the extra little details like the embroidered button and silk lapels give it a real quality edge, this one being modelled by my own little suit clad son is from House of Fraser .

We’ve just got to find a few more occasions to go to as it really is the most cutest thing I’ve seen this year. But if  a black tux is not thing and you’re looking ahead to any occasions which require your toddler getting suited and booted then here’s a pick of some other great ones out there right now from Roco Clothing, Marks and Spencer and Debenhams.

Serious cuteness overload….I KNOW!

 

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This is a collaborative post 

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