Saturday, 30 August 2008

Mini-review: bababing play mat

As we are expecting our third child we are currently on the look out for any product that will make life easier to slot this baby into life with 2 other children who both already have social and education commitments, without being too costly of course!

This week (after much online reading and soul and bank account searching) we took delivery of the bababing playmat (and diaper bag but that's another story...). We thought about getting this product basically because we go out, we go to friends houses and often babies just need somewhere to lie to have a stretch out especially if they've been captive in a car seat for a while. Yes the same could be accomplished with a simple blanket I suppose but this little device has some fab features which make it ideal...

It arrives rolled up for easy storage, its evident that the material is high quality as well as the finish. Velcro straps secure it in position and there is a convenient carry handle, perfect for slipping it onto the stroller handle.

It also has integrated buckles which allow it to strap onto the also available day hiker backpack. We have decided against this bag but its a great option for more outdoor-sie families. The backing material is waterproof (great if you have other children who spill drinks or do want use it when you are out & about & the ground may be damp) and very hard-wearing.

In contrast the inner red unisex blanket linning is soft & comfortable ans has a cute company logo embroidered on it. Its not a tight fit to the zips onto the backing material so toddlers slip-sliding may be possible, but it also means after washing it is not going to shrink beyond the reaches of the zip and be un-usable.

The inside cover zips off and is machine washable for convenience, the hardwearing backing is wipe clean and hand wash only.

The re-rolling processing is fully labelled for those moments where you forget how to do anything from lack of sleep, of course the labelling is on the back so you don't see you've done it wrong until you start but its still a helpful pointer...

The only slight downside we have seen is when re-rolling its easy to miss the securing straps by rolling it too tight, which is opposite to what we expected.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Starting down the road...

I can't believe it my little baby girl turned 6 years old today, it seem like only 5 minutes since she was hoisted over the blue surgical drape and blinked her eyes in disbelief at the shockingly white world which greeted her.

In the interests of developing a common interest to cultivate in her older years and spend some time together (and honestly not aimed at persuading her to take her hands off my Nikon D300 forever) we bought her her very own digital camera.

To say she seems pretty taken with it would the understatement of the century, she's managed to take over 200 photos with her little fisher price camera in less than 4 hours. Not sure even my D300 would beat her on continuous, hmm maybe we'll have to try one day, a shoot out of the photography variety. Of course most of them were very 'bad', she likes self portraits, but often focuses on just her mouth of ear, I fear she would hit explore if we were to post her greatest hit from today on flickr, who knows what drives the magic donkey?

Anyway, my position as house photographer is safe, so long as I have photoshop on my side...

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Moments like these...

Well, I had hoped to be showcasing our lovely new shinny pram and writing about all its lovely features and comforts for the little one who will be joining us in December but sadly everything has gone a bit pear shaped this week! After much deliberation we decided we had chosen too early and based our choice only on what we hadn't had for the other 2 (a large impractical springy status symbol with a designer badge) and promptly went and bought that. We (I) realised since that when its throwing it down or snowing and your picking your middle child up from nursery you won't care what pram you are pushing so long as 1) your youngest is warm & dry, 2) you can steer it home quickly. So our choice of the mamas & papas ultima only met half of the criteria for sensible winter pram.

Hot on the heels of this realisation a new mamas & papas brochure landed on our door step and we saw they sell a model which will face the parent, and fold small and has a nice separate carrycot. We contacted customer services & they told us yes we could exchange as long it our original was in salable condition. So we trotted off home with our new mamas and papas switch 3in1 in prim to slot it altogether and stroke it basically!

However, once put together it became obvious this is not a well design pram. The hood does not recline it goes only half way down so it would be difficult to slot my newborn into the pram while keeping an eye on 2 other children. The apron does not actually attach to the hood (or it didn't on our model) so you get the impression it would blow off with a gust of wind. The hood continually slouches down like a lazy teenager and impacts of the length of the zip on rain cover leaving half the carrycot exposed to the rain.

After much hand wringing we called customer services again and handed the pram back and to our massive surprise got a refund (even without the box which we binned straight away!). So we skipped down to another pram shop only to find our next choice is not in stock, never fear, candidate number 3 should be here on Thursday all being well, am so looking forward to ripping it open.......

Processing preset will be available on the other blog this week...

Monday, 18 August 2008

One for you, one for me...

Having been very excited about all the lovely, outdoor, active, sunny, photogenic activities I would enjoy with my 2 children over this summer the last few weeks have been marginally disappointing because of all the rain, cloud, wind etc.

So when I friend suggested ceramics painting we jumped at the opportunity even though it was away from our intended free activities for this week! And we're glad we did we managed to (mostly) amuse 5 children aged between 9 and 4 weeks, smell some pretty intense varnish and then of course reward ourselves for being so child-centered by popping off for coffee, milkshakes and cakes afterwards. And yes we ALL ate all of our dinner too.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Tired of ebay & paypal?

Yes, us too!  Having been a seller on ebay for many years (pushchair addiction knows no bounds and is easy to indulge with ebay saved searches...) I periodically swear off the whole site alone with the paypal payment system in disgust at a fee rise, change in feedback policy or listing guidelines or as recently all three at once.

There are reams of websites devoted to HOW evil paypal and ebay are, but realistically if you want to make a little extra cash there are few other options to do so online.  That said is there actually any money made in the end?  With buyers moaning about paying for packaging as well as postage, listing fees, final value fees, paypal payment fees and paypal transfer fees can anyone seriously expect to come out with more than they are paying the vast corporation that operates it?

Despite all the expenses involved my number one irk remains the inability to have even medium speed access to money you have 'earned' through ebay, never mind fast.  Having recently been away for a fantastic weekend at center parcs Nottingham I went into overdrive planning auctions, ironing baby clothes, finding old textbooks and hours photographing and listing in order to ensure whatever money was raised would hit the bank before we went away so we could have some extra treats.  And what happened?  None of the buyers paid on time they all delayed by several days and the funds we raised hit the bank when we got home.

So I was all excited to hear about a paypal top up visa card, excellent idea to be able to transfer smaller amounts of money free onto a more readily accessible format.  Great idea, of course subject to the usual paypal drawbacks.  Having decided to be sensible and not transfer my whole paypal balance (a whopping £60!) at once incase it all went horribly wrong I test transferred £10 to my shiny new paypal visa.  Of course despite the fact paypal state it would appear on the card the next day, it in fact took 3 days, although it whizzed out of my account instantly, as ever.  Having complained and actually received an e-mail reply which apologised for teething difficulties I decided to try again and transferred a huge £20, which dutifully left my account 2 days ago, I'm still waiting for it to arrive on the card.

So the moral of the story is, no quicker, no cheaper, same old story.