Saturday, November 25, 2006

Are your children watching too much TV?

Having a 20 month old son, I am beginning to get slightly concerned he may be turning into a television addict! I have read numerous reports on TV and the effects of this on family interaction and dominating family situations which in this day in age is becoming more evident.

Communication is a strong factor in childhood and parenthood, children learn there first verbal skills at home and if there is a strong presence of TV then this may effect the concentration levels your child develops as he/she grows. Not to mention the advertising and images they are exposed too.

My son seems obsessed with Disney/Pixar films, its one after the other he will request, whether its Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc or Toy Story, he has already become engrossed in them at such an early age! It was only the other day I came in to the living room to find him hiding behind the sofa at the beginning of Monster Inc! It made me think I need to introduce some TV control!

Where are the days when families used to play board games together or the days when TV was a luxury, nowadays it's a common denominator in any household. Praise does go to a number of kid's television channels, in the UK especially, CBeebies is fantastic and very educational, programmes such as Number Jacks and Razzledazzle are just a handful of great programmes for your children.

Most sensible households will acquire a delicate balance between watching TV and interacting, playing, and exploring with the family. I think the more we understand TVis an issue the more families will become aware of the consequences. Little things like, no TV when you eat as a family, so that communication isn't lost, an hour of TV a day during holidays, make sure your children get outside as much as possible and enjoy outdoor activities, rather than becoming sofa babies so young! It's better to start the control of this at an early age, once they can argue with you, these times will become more difficult and demanding.

For some extra fun with the kids, which isn't associated with the TV, check out for some great FREE colouring downloads!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Terrible Twos

Toddlers get real bad press in regards to the talk of tantrums, whining and the terrible twos. The truth is, most of the time they're amazing, kind and full of fun. How do we cope with the bad times and make the most of the good?

As a mother I find it best to keep positive, its easy to let it all get you down, especially when its in the most embarrassing places. Just the other day my son decided to have a huge tantrum in the middle of a busy shop, its so difficult to be patient, as you can feel all the eyes digging. But I was able to try and control him even if I did receive a few kicks and screams. The best way I have found is to ignore it after its happened, children of this age don't know wrong from right, especially after the event, so if you are going to say they are wrong or discipline them its best to do it at the moment they misbehave and not dwell on it any longer.

Understanding what your toddler wants will help overcome these difficulties, especially before they can talk and communicate to you, my son has developed quite early and talks all the time and asks for what he wants. Its amazing that within a few months we are communicating properly, he understands me and vica versa! Even if sometimes all he can say is 'chocolate' over and over again, I don't give in, they do play tricks and believe me they start very young picking up on everything! Including knowing your weaknesses!

Your child is dependant on you, you are the greatest person in their lives, remember, although these times seem never ending, these years are over too quickly and thats when we wish we could turn the clocks back. Being their everything is a great feeling, enjoy it, as these times wont last forever either.

Don't forget, be that child again, we all have it in us, its just our children which bring it to the surface! Visit for some extra special gifts for your toddler or some fun colouring pages to enjoy with them!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Fun Colouring in for Kids! has created something truely special for your kids to enjoy! Not only have we a fantastic online shop for the adults but now you can print off your childs favourite theme for them to colour or decorate as they wish!

Below are some fun ideas for the themes or perhaps children's birthday parties!

Fun Ideas:

1. Princess/Fairy: Try glitter and cotton wool, add clouds in the sky or some magic fairy dust! Girls will have loads of fun making their picture pretty and pink!

2. Nautical: Again try cotton wool for clouds, or collect some real shells and sand and stick to the little boys masterpiece!

3. New Baby Brother or Sister: What a perfect gift for a new baby from their sister/brother. Not only is this a great opportunity to deal with sibling rivalry but talk to your child about their new sister/brother, it will definately be some quality time for you and your child, especially at a time when they may be feeling a little left out.

4. Let's Play: Boys and girls alike will love this colouring in piece, use loads of bright coloured crayons to create a special picture to perhaps frame for their room!

5. Birthday Parties: Why not print out enough pictures for all the children, then they can have some fun decorating the pictures, and you can judge the winner and have a prize for the best one! Dont' forget a huge mat or table cloth, it could be messy! If needing a unique present for a child's birthday try for a personalised gift that will be treasured for years.

Hope your have fun with the kids!

* Please supervise your children, and encourage toddlers not to put pencils or crayons in his/her mouth when coloring or drawing.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What’s expected of new and expectant fathers?

Having experienced being pregnant and the expectations I personally had of my partner, it has now made me ask myself a huge question “Are all us women the same, do we expect too much?”

We have all seen the movies, being pregnant, mother and fatherhood, being in love and wrapped up with the joys of parenthood, it all appears so perfect, but real life is not like this, well it sure wasn’t for me!

Expectant Dads – A word of advice!

One of the biggest issues I would say is for you men to actually stand back and realise your partners life has already changed, whereas you can still do what you want, when you want, she is already adapting into motherhood and the emotional and physical changes that are taking place. I know it will appear daunting to believe your life could change so dramatically, and the person you thought you knew inside and out seems to be changing in front of your eyes!

As a mother and having experienced the changes within myself, I never for one minute thought my partner would be suffering or needing any support, I was too busy worrying about the new arrival, weighing up all the things that needed to be done, moaning about him still doing everything as he used too and not realising what it was like for me! When in fact he was actually going through some major changes too, not only the daunting aspect of fatherhood but also watching his partner change so much.

There is no simple answer, I don’t have the answer, but the most important thing is to talk, the more you talk about your feelings the more likely your going to understand one another.

For all you pregnant women out there – look at the signs, perhaps you need to realise your partner may be experiencing exactly the same as you but is being too strong to admit it! He also needs to know how important his role is, not only now but also for the first stages of your parenthood journey together. It’s not all about us women! And don’t be worried to say your finding it difficult, its quite normal, even now before your baby arrives.

For all expectant fathers – Please have patience with your partner, her life has already changed, and her emotional and physical self needs you more than she ever has! Remind her how beautiful she is and how much you love her, I know it sounds corny, but sometimes that’s all we need! Oh, don’t be surprised to get the "how can I be beautiful when I look like this" reaction! Or even her throwing something your way! Patience is the major factor; you are at the beginning of a long journey together!

Patience for one another and the ability to talk about everything will honestly get you through the hard times. Two of you have made this new life, so now is the real time to stick together!

Lets not forget the joys you have to come, they sure outweigh these difficult ‘high expectation’ times. Not to mention the fun you will have when kitting out their nursery, or buggy shopping, and then eventually the day will come when you meet your baby face to face, and from personal experience nothing will beat it! Well until the next one arrives of course – but that won’t be for a long time for me, if ever!

And if you are struggling for that perfect gift to make your new baby’s room extra special, check out

Monday, November 13, 2006

Post Baby Weight Loss!

Now you have had your baby, its a shame we can't give birth to the extra pounds gained whilst pregnant! Its a delicate balance and the key is to shed those extra pounds slower, then they are more likely to stay away!

Talking from experience, after my son, I was distraught that the extra weight didn't just fall off, I thought a couple of months, then it got to 4 months and thats when I decided to do something about it - infact if it weren't for someone saying I still had my baby tummy (not a nice thing to say to a sensitive new mum though is it), it possibly could have been longer.

I decided to go down the route of eating a healthy balanced diet, this included 3 large meals per day, which almost a year on is still my eating regime! This has to include at least 5 portions of fruit and veg per day, lots of water, make a chart with 8 glasses, tick them as you go! Record everything you eat, and really try and avoid crisps, biscuits and chocolate. Dont' get me wrong I love my chocolate and still do, but its a balance and having self control.

Another key to shedding the weight is to try to avoid alcohol, thats the killer, especially beer, lager or any alcho-pops! I love my wine so limited myself to a small (125ml) glass each evening with my dinner, that was like my pudding too! Not the best advice but we are all different and to wind down after a day with your new born or toddler, a chilled glass of white usually does the trick!

An average day:

Breakfast: Bowl of ceral, skimmed milk, piece of fruit or small glass of fruit juice

Mid-morning snack: piece of fruit or handful of nuts/raisins

Lunch: Jacket potato with 2 tbsp of low fat cream cheese or houmous, heaps of roasted vegetables and loads of salad, try balsamic vinegar as its a great dressings and no fat at all.

Afternoon snack: low fat chocolate bar or biscuit (Tip: weight watchers ones are great!)

Dinner: Salmon steak with tbsp of sweet chilli sauce, plus some extra chilli's on top, if you like it HOT (don't forget chilli's are known to speed up your motabolism) then a few new pot's and heaps of veg, lots of variety!

And WATER WATER WATER, its the key! Don't give up, it won't be long till your a yummy mummy with a flat tummy again! He he - I must admit I didn't go down the exercise route, only cause I never had time, but as my son has grown he sure keeps me fit, as he never stops and neither do I!

And why not spoil your new arrival with a precious gift for their nursery at

Good Luck :o)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What better way to start your christmas shopping than a FREE GIFT!

Its really funny how we all try and prepare for christmas early, especially when children are involved, as there is so much to think about, first are the onions pickled, then is the wine muled, then the most important, have you the Father Christmas outfit, then of course the hoof prints on the lawn! Oh whisk me back to my childhood please!

What used to complete my christmas was my father! He was a star (still is), creeping down the stairs to see if BIGGA BAGGA (as my sis used to call him!) had been!!!!!! Singing to all the old movies like 'scrooge' and even going to the trouble of ringing bells before we went to bed and leaving hoof prints on the lawn!! Or Maybe it was Father Christmas after all!

To celebrate all those memories and times still to come of Christmas, Illustrate My Name is doing a promotion whereby they will be giving away a FREE piece of name art - Excluding the frame (the Art will be sent Unframed) to the first 100 bloggers that blog about the site in a positive way.

They also need to include a link back to the site with anchor text "Unique Baby Gift" or "Personalised Baby Gift".The promo is restricted to People in the UK. You will need to write a line like: "Illustrate My Name is giving away 100 free personalised name art pictures to the first people that blog about the site and includes a link and the correct anchor text"

People who decide to blog about the site should send the link with the blog back to chris(at)


Monday, November 06, 2006

Whats in a child's name? How important is choosing the right name for your baby?

Who doesn't spend hours sitting with a 'baby names' book, or search every search engine under the sun for the best baby name generator! I certainly did, I actually spent hours searching, and still struggled to decide until very last minute! Its an overwhelming experience enough being pregnant and knowing (or not knowing) how your life will change, let alone thinking of the right name to suit your special arrival!

It was real funny as my husbands favourtie names made me cringe, and I am sure that some of my choices did the same to him! But eventually you come to that important decision, just in time I hope!

I hate to mention particular names, but just the other day a friend of mine told me about their friend who had just called their baby boy ZIGGY! I thought why?? But when you come to think about it, any name, no matter how traditional, biblical or just different, becomes PERFECT.

Once the name has been decided, check out our Unique baby gift

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Coming soon to

A Unique Gift from Me to You!

Illustrating from my own mac studio in Oxfordshire, England - you will struggle to find anything so unique!

I am committed to not only producing unique gifts, but I believe in making you and your children smile!

Having spent hours illustrating so many cute things from xylophones and booties through to pink fairies and lazy deckchairs, our library of illustrations is huge and allows us to create something so special!

We even offer to do bespoke illustrations around any theme you require!

Each individual piece is created and boasts such adorable illustrations that children and parents alike will love these pieces being displayed in their nursery/playroom or bedroom.
Jodie Gaul Up Close and Personal

I have always had an eye for design and illustrating from an early age, being a graphic designer by trade, I have a very creative and imaginative side!

Since having my son in 2005 I realised that the baby/child gift market is so huge and competitive, and I spent hours searching for unique/modern gifts (something different so to speak!).

My first experiment with my illustratemyname design was for my son's bedroom theme, which is nautical, it looked so lovely and so many comments were made, "where did you get that piece"; "its just right for his room". This made me think perhaps there is a market out there for this product!

From this moment illustratemyname was BORN! We are now proud to be a fully functional online personalised gift service offering people unique illustrated name art and gifts. Come visit us at: