Thursday, 12 December 2013

Daily Photo Challenge - Brit Mums

For this post, I've chosen a photo not traditionally thought of as showing an angel, but one which shows my little angel.


He's full on, fiesty, energetic, cheeky, he drives me mad with his constant questioning "why?" on a constant basis, but he's mine and he's wonderful and I adore him. This photo was taken after a particularly challenging morning with temper tantrums, tears, a breakdown in the supermarket and throwing lunch all over the place and an argument getting him back into his carseat. We got home, I set him up in the front room with a drink and something to eat while I unpacked the shopping, and when I walked into the front room again I found him asleep. I watched him for some time and it helped to soothe my frazzled nerves to stand and watch my angel in his peaceful slumber. 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Daily Photo Challenge - Brit Mums

I found an interesting fact the other day which fits in nicely with this theme.


According to the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, while both male and female reindeer grow antlers in the summer each year, but the male reindeer loose theirs in late November-mid December, while the females retain theirs until after they give birth in the spring.

With this in mind, as far as every historical rendition depicting Santa's reindeer is concerned, every single one of them had to be female.

Reindeer are one of my favourite animals. They're majestic, beautiful, somehow magical because of their connection to Father Christmas and for me they represent Christmas. 

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Daily Photo Challenge - Brit Mums

For this post I knew exactly what image I'd use.


As the mum of a 3yr old who is like a Tasmanian devil of activity, mischief, curiosity and energy, I don't get much peace. What never fails to amaze me with J is that he's like an Energizer bunny with the batteries removed when he finally does go to sleep - he goes from chattering away and fidgeting like mad to snoring softly, normally cuddled up with a soft toy or two, in thirty seconds flat.

On this particular evening he'd chosen Rupert Bear to cuddle with and go to sleep, as you can see from the image Rupert is nearly as big as J! A gift received for my baby when I was pregnant from one of the ladies I work with, J never paid Rupert that much attention until very recently, and now he and the other bear the same lady gave me (the same size, a black bear with a red ribbon) have become firm favourites for snuggling with at bedtime. 

I took this photo as J looked so peaceful and innocent and it made my heart melt. There are times he drives me completely bonkers, but when he's all cute and asleep and looking as beautiful as this there is no way I could imagine life without him. 

Daily Photo Challenge - Brit Mums

Well this one caused me a great deal of head scratching.


I don't have a fireplace at my house - well, not a nice one anyway, we have a grotty old gas fire that we've never used in six years of living here. Most of the time it doesn't bother me - I don't miss not having a fire - but at this time of year I'm always envious of people who do have a proper fireplace, an open fire, to cosy in front of. There's something so warm and comforting and festive about the thought of decorating the mantle with candles and pine cones, enjoying a festive glass of Baileys in front of the flames while the wind howls and the snow falls outside and you're all curled up in a comfy armchair enjoying the crackle of the flames.

This image shows exactly what I dream of having in my front room every Christmas - and I'm sure J would love it, too. Though the cleaning it out and sorting out the wood each time wouldn't be my favourite task, I think it would be worth it just for a few weeks of the year when I'd want to use it! When Daddy P and I were on honeymoon in November 2006 our cottage had a beautiful fireplace and every night we'd curl up in front of it to watch films and as our bedroom was directly above, it was always lovely and warm in there by bedtime. At home, it's J's room right above the fire, so if it was a proper open fireplace it would make his room nice and cosy which would be lovely as it can get rather chilly in there, particularly first thing in the morning.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Daily Photo Challenge - Brit Mums

The final post for this today and I'm all caught up for the Brit Mums Daily Photo Challenge, though tomorrows photo has me puzzled so far!

#Day 4

Baking is one of our favourite things to do. I'm not an expert when it comes to baking, but we do those packet fairy cake mixes (like today) and J loves to try different food colouring in the icing. We do (calorific) Smarties cookies and at the weekend we'll be making mince pies and jam tarts with my mum. Not all the cakes made it as far as being iced since J couldn't help himself and ate two while D was mixing in the food colouring to the icing! It was a lovely way to spend a relaxed rainy afternoon.

Daily Photo Challenge - Brit Mums

I'm nearly all caught up to date with the Daily Photo Challenge from Brit Mums after a delayed start! Here's the Day 3 entry!

#Day 3

J is a very keen dancer. He takes very little persuasion to start busting a move! It seemed very appropriate that the Day 3 post - subject Dancing - featured my groovy dude!

Daily Photo Challenge - Brit Mums

Cracking on with this rapidly in order to catch up, this is my post for the Daily Photo Challenge for Brit Mums Day 2!

#Day 2

Well as you can see from my chosen photo, although the official theme is shopping/crowds for Day 2, my image shows the local town centre as the least crowded high street ever!

This photo was taken at 6pm on Friday evening, and I was in town to get a bit of Christmas shopping (yes, some of the shops are open, but not all) and stopped at the chippy to pick up dinner for the family on the way home. As I waited at the chippy I wandered outside to admire the Christmas lights in the high street and this was the view I found. It was so eerily quiet you could imagine it was the middle of the night!

Daily Photo Challenge - Brit Mums

I'm a little bit behind as it's already 4th December, but I've just found this and wanted to participate!

Join the #SnapHappyBritMums Daily Photo Challenge for December!

#Day 1

The theme being advent I thought I would share a photo of J's lovely advent calender. This incredible Christmas tree with 24 individual pockets containing chocolates and topped with an angel / fairy was hand made by Grandma P, who knitted it. Isn't she talented? We've hung it at the bottom of the stairs so first thing in the morning J comes downstairs and finds his chocolate treat! 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

So, this is Christmas!

It’s only December 1st but already J has met Father Christmas! There was a local village bazaar on that we went to at lunchtime today. He went very shy and was attached to me but in a way it was a good thing as too often recently he’s been trying desperately to run off and I’ve been exasperated with him for doing so! For a £2 donation he got a photo with Father Christmas and a lovely gift of books and some giant size monster playing cards. It was quite a small affair but it was wonderfully Christmassy and reminiscent of the types of events I attended as a child with my family. Amongst the stalls were home-made cakes, knitted jumpers, hats, scarves and gloves, scented candles, painted glass ornaments, silk scarves, jewellery, Christmas ornaments, hand crafted wooden toys and puzzles as well as a cafĂ© area serving drinks and snacks including mulled wine and mince pies. We only spent a few minutes there as it didn’t take long to walk round, spend our money and do a full circuit and end up back at the door again, but we had a good nose around and we’re getting into the Christmas spirit! This afternoon Daddy P is getting the decorations down from the loft and we’ll be listening to Christmas music and putting up the decorations! Mince pies and peach schnapps for Daddy P and myself, jam tart and fruit juice for J! I love this time of year, even more so since becoming a mum! It’s so much more fun with kids!

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Maxi-Cosi 2wayFix base and 2wayPearl - An Introduction

As you may have gathered from some of the posts I’ve been doing recently, my most recent product test will be the new Maxi-Cosi 2wayFix base and 2wayPearl carseat.

Maxi-Cosi 2wayFix base and 2wayPearl 2014 Raspberry Red rear facing position

Maxi-Cosi 2wayFix base and 2wayPearl 2014 Raspberry Red forward facing position

This brand new product is not yet available for sale. It will be officially launched in January 2014 and can be purchased from your local Maxi-Cosi retailer. However I have been fortunate enough to be selected by Maxi-Cosi since J meets the criteria exactly that they’re looking for to get feedback about this product.

Extended Rear Facing (ERF) is much safer than putting your child travelling forward facing too soon. Currently the European standard is ECE R44-04 which states that a child can go into a forward facing carseat at a minimum of 9kg. To accompany this information, there is an approximate age guideline of 9 months. However, the truth is that many children are not the minimum weight of 9kg when they reach 9 months old – J wasn’t 9kg til he was almost a year old – but many parents misunderstand the information provided and when they see the approximate age guideline they accept that as the age that their child must go into a Group 1 carseat, which most commonly is forward facing. The result is that many children go into a forward facing Group 1 carseat much sooner than necessary. 

Group 0+ carseats (infant carriers) are suitable til 13kg. J didn’t reach 13kg til he was 20 months old. Technically speaking I could have been transporting him in the CabrioFix or Pebble carseat til he reached 20 months old on the basis of his weight – however, due to his height, this wasn’t possible. As a very long baby / now tall child, the harness of his CabrioFix was over a half inch below his shoulders and his head was crowning over the top lip of the CabrioFix by the time he was 9 months old. It was for that reason I swapped him into an Opal carseat, to keep him rear facing for longer as the thought of him going into a forward facing carseat at that point was not an option as far as I was concerned, especially since he was not yet the minimum weight requirement for a Group 1.

When you look at a baby, toddler or pre-school child you will notice their head is rather large and out of proportion in comparison to the rest of them. Couple this with the fact that their neck / spine muscles are less developed than an adults, and in a forward facing carseat a rear impact could cause some serious injuries to a child that is too young. If an impact can give an adult whiplash, think how much damage that could do to a delicate child’s neck? In a rear facing carseat the child will be pushed into the safety of the seat during impact, the shock being absorbed by the seat across the width of their shoulders rather than concentrated on the neck.

Some people will say that their child is too tall to be comfortable rear facing. J was rear facing in his Opal til he was 19 months old and he had plenty of room. At 19 months old he reached the maximum height to be rear facing in the Opal – there is a guide on the side of the carseat to demonstrate when the child is too tall for rear facing and must go forward facing. At no point were his legs squashed, or did he show any signs of being uncomfortable. Far from not liking travelling backwards he always enjoyed it, and being able to play peek-a-boo with other drivers when we were travelling in the car was a favourite past time of his. Even if his legs had been a bit squashed I would far prefer an ankle or leg injury in comparison to a neck or spinal injury had we ever been involved in an accident.

Comfortable and snoozing, rear facing in the Opal carseat at 18 months old

Lots of people will say their child prefers to be forward facing. How does the child know, if they have only ever travelled rear facing, that they prefer forward facing? Why is the child dictating what to do when as the parent, it is your job to keep them as safe as possible? You wouldn’t let them run in the road because they wanted to, because you know it’s not safe – so as you know its safest to travel rear facing for as long as possible, why not? It’s safer for everyone to travel rear facing, adults included – the amount of whiplash injuries caused by RTC’s show that.

J was still rear facing in my car in the Opal long after he was forward facing in my parents cars in the Pearl. He used the Pebble on the FamilyFix base in their cars for longer than he was in the CabrioFix in mine simply for the fact that the recline option for the Pearl on the FamilyFix base provides a more upright sitting position for the Pebble or CabrioFix and allows more leg room. Once he reached 9kg he then started using the Pearl in their cars, but always as reclined as possible, so that in an impact the shock would travel up the length of the carseat rather than against him. Due to this he knew what it was like to be forward facing and rear facing, and I never had any issues getting him to travel rear facing in my car. It was also far easier to get him in a rear facing seat as you place them into the seat from a comfortable position outside the car – in a forward facing seat it’s much more awkward to get them into the seat properly (with the exception of the Axiss, which turns to face you).

Under new standards, which were introduced in June 2013, a child travelling in an iSize approved carseat must remain rear facing til 15 months old. At the time of writing this, the current ECE R44-04 standard is running alongside the iSize standard for some time to come, and at this moment the only carseat which is approved to iSize standard is the Maxi-Cosi 2wayFix base and 2wayPearl.

Yes, it’s expensive, and yes, it’s only suitable for use in cars that can offer IsoFix points. Bearing in mind it’s the first of its kind, you know the price will come down once more of these seats are available and it becomes more commonplace for iSize seats to be used. Currently the iSize standard only covers IsoFix fitted units, so a seatbelt fitted base or carseat cannot meet iSize standard. To read up about the iSize standard, click here and for any enquiries to the Maxi-Cosi team click here.

We have had a delay in being able to start testing the product as the vehicles we will be testing in are my parents – a 2012 Vauxhall Insignia and a 2012 Vauxhall Corsa. Since we live a long distance from my parents it isn’t a possibility of popping into see them very frequently and as mum has not been well J hasn’t spent as much time with her recently as he would normally. This was an unforeseen circumstance that we couldn’t have predicted. She regularly looks after him one day a week usually, so he would be with her and travelling in her car and my dads car much more often. We have had a physical fitting by trained staff in both vehicles of the 2wayFix base and 2wayPearl and it is a successful fitting with no loss of space to the front seat passenger in either vehicle. I was concerned that in the Corsa we would find that the front seat passenger had to be moved quite far forward but it was not necessary to move the at all – it takes up the same amount of space in the vehicle as the FamilyFix base and Pearl.

Vauxhall Insignia

Vauxhall Corsa

With the 2wayPearl you must keep the child rear facing til 15 months then you have the option of leaving them rear facing or going forward facing for the remaining use of the unit, which is when the child reaches 105cm (approx. 4yrs) I will be testing the 2wayPearl in rear facing and forward facing positions in the Insignia and the Corsa with J as he is 3.5yrs old and 100cm (15.5kg) I am interested to see whether he seems to have any preferences or seems more or less comfortable rear facing than he does forward facing etc.

I am very much looking forward to this product test and I hope you enjoy reading about my experiences here. Please remember that all opinions provided are my own and I am not receiving a fee from Maxi-Cosi to promote their product. I am a big fan of Maxi-Cosi products and a big fan of ERF and this combination is very exciting for me!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Maxi Cosi FamilyFix / Maxi Cosi Pebble / Maxi Cosi Pearl

When my mum and dad discovered I was pregnant, they decided it made sense for them to have a carseat to use in both their vehicles as they are very “hands on” grandparents.

They decided that the Maxi Cosi FamilyFix base in combination with the Maxi Cosi Pebble would be the best idea, as a check on the Car Fitting List advised* the FamilyFix base was suitable to use in both their vehicles at the time, and a physical fitting from trained staff confirmed this. At the time, they also purchased the Maxi Cosi Pearl, the Group 1 carseat for 9-18kg that also fits on the Maxi Cosi FamilyFix base. Collectively this combination is known as the FamilyFix Collection.

The FamilyFix base is fitted with IsoFix only.

Fitting the FamilyFix base is very straightforward. It is only fitted using IsoFix - there is no seatbelt option. You can use the yellow plastic IsoFix guides if necessary, but sometimes the IsoFix points are very easy to locate and anchor to without the guides. (If you need guides call the Dorel UK Customer Care team to order) Once the IsoFix points have locked in that’s the first green light illuminated and your first ‘success’ chime. You then adjust the support leg correctly for your second green light and chime. The final green light and chime is when the carseat (either CabrioFix, Pebble or Pearl) is fitted onto the base. It’s very straight forward and self-explanatory and if you get a red light and a ‘fail’ noise you know instantly something has gone wrong with the fitting.

Red lights on one and two indicate incorrect IsoFix fitting and incorrect support leg fitting. The final light is not on, indicating a seat is not in place on the base. The three green lights show the base is functioning properly.

To remove the seat from the FamilyFix base simply use the grey release clip at the front.

Using the Pebble on the FamilyFix base has all the advantages of using any carseat with base combination, but as well as that when the baby gets older you can use the recline positions offered by the FamilyFix base, which when using the Pebble will allow baby to sit more upright and have more leg room, thus promoting Extended Rear Facing. The Pebble is suitable for use up to 13kg (approx. 12-15 months) and J used the Pebble in mum and dads cars til he was 13.5 months old, when he did become too tall even after the base adjustment. At this point he moved into the Pearl carseat. The minimum weight for using Pearl is 9kg - maximum is 18kg. This carseat is a Group 1 forward facing.

Initially I insisted that when travelling in the Pearl he was in the most reclined position, as by doing so if there was an impact the force would be more likely to travel up his body than shunt against him and potentially cause injury. This suited J very well as he likes to have a nap in his carseat when he’s out with Nanan and Grumpa!

I think its fair to say that J - and Tiger - are very comfy in the Maxi Cosi Pearl

Both the Pebble and the Pearl have an easy-out spring loaded harness so when you press the red button to undo the harness it literally springs open and out of the way, making getting your child in and out really easy. The harness height is adjusted by the head rest which you pull forward and up or down as required. Once the harness height is correct, you know the head section is at the correct point for optimum protection even in a side impact. The fabrics on both carseats are again easy to remove with no messing about with the harness required. Washing is again recommended by Maxi Cosi as handwash only 30 degrees, I’ve always done them handwash cycle in the machine at 40 degrees and they come out fluffed up and good as new. Whenever I strip the fabrics off a carseat to wash them I always give the carseat shell a good thorough vacuum to make sure there is no crumbs or debris around the harness which could cause problems tensioning / releasing the harness properly, and give the plastic a wipe over with a soft cloth and some furniture polish to keep it clean and operating smoothly. I’ve never had issues with my carseats or harnesses by looking after them well. I tend to remove fabrics once every 3 months for cleaning unless there has been some sort of disaster (normally involving chocolate!) Also it’s a good idea to remove the carseat every so often anyway to clean the vehicle seat and re-fit to confirm it is fitted properly and all pieces are functioning correctly.

On the front of the FamilyFix base there is a grey button you can press at any time to check if all the lights still show up green (correct fitting) and ‘success’ chime. Beware that if you take a corner too quickly and the support leg lifts from the floor, the second green light (for correct installation of support leg) will activate ‘fail’ chime and then ‘success’ chime when the support leg rights itself after the corner. In addition, when the products were brand new they had a very annoying squeak as you travelled. This was solved by wiping the carseat shell and the base over with a soft cloth and some furniture polish to add a little layer of lubrication and since then if the squeak starts again just wipe over and it stops. It would be a good idea to do it every 3 months when you wash the fabric and clean out the carseat as part of your upkeep and maintenance.

My mum and dad tend to get me to double check the fit of the base and seat before they take J out in either of their cars, but it is always correctly fitted and it’s just them doubting their own abilities! The unit swaps between mums and dads cars and is suitable in either. I really like this unit for the ease of use, along with the security of knowing with the light and sound indication that it is fitted properly. J is always comfortable and secure in the seat and thanks to the base he is up quite high in the car so he can see all around him without any issues - when he’s awake, that is!

* Maxi Cosi advises a physical fitting of the car seat is carried out in your vehicle by a Maxi-Cosi trained advisor who are available at your local nursery retailer prior to use to ensure a safe fitting. Maxi-Cosi cannot be held responsible for the performance of an incorrectly fitted car seat or a car seat fitted without physical fitting confirmation. 

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Family Time

My mum isn't very well at the moment, so I've travelled from home to stay with her & dad for a few days. Fortunately I had time booked off work anyway and so did Daddy P - unfortunately the circumstances mean that while I'm here, he is at home with our Ickle Pickle Pot J and our dogs; while I am here, sleeping in the bedroom that was mine when I was a teenager and sitting up on the computer way after my dad has gone to bed and thinks I have too.

I drove away from my boys today with a heavy heart. I really didn't want to leave them at home alone, but in this instance it's for the best. I keep checking my bags thinking I've left something vital at home - it's only just dawned on me the vital thing I have left at home is my husband and our son. I miss them terribly already and I only left them this afternoon! Sitting here editing photos taken over the last week have just reminded me of the little monkey I have at home and what a wonderful little man he is (when he's not screaming and throwing a massive tantrum!)

J feeling the love

Also of course missing my wonderful husband, who is so wonderful that without a moment's hesitation he suggested that I travelled down here to stay with mum and he'd stay at home with J, and thankful for wonderful husband's work colleagues who quickly moved mountains to ensure that his holiday time could start earlier than planned, enabling me to get here today (Friday) instead of the planned Sunday.

While I left the boys with heavy heart, I know they'll look after one another. I did all the shopping before I left so I know they won't go hungry and Grandma P has promised me she'll look after them in my absence. I couldn't stay at home fretting while mum was in hospital and dad was beside himself. He makes out like he's tough as old boots but he's a soft old sausage really and he adores my mum. Watching them walk hand in hand earlier made me melt, I'm so proud of them - they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in September this year, and they still walk hand in hand.

Here I am, sitting in my old bedroom listening to the rain fall on the sloping window and the trains going past on the railway line that feels close enough to touch, yet somehow it's so quiet compared to my house with dogs claws scrabbling for grip on laminate flooring and either a dog singing, a radio playing a favourite song, the TV showing Thomas, or Peppa, or Shrek for the five hundredth time or a toddler asking "Why, mummy?" and a washing machine on spin cycle. Its very odd to have switched from wife & mummy mode back into daughter / older sister mode. I am missing Daddy P and J like mad but right now my family time has to mean being here for my wonderful mum like she has always been there for me whenever I've needed her.

With my mum

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Coming Soon - Product Review!

I’m very excited today. We have a brand new (not yet launched) product coming our way for a review. It should arrive any day now.

While the company are providing the product to us free of charge in order to provide the review, the opinions written will be entirely my own and I will not receive a fee for writing about the product.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Maxi Cosi Opal

Since J was still quite young (10 months) when he became too long to travel safely in the Maxi Cosi CabrioFix carseat, I was keen to find an alternative that would keep him rear facing for as long as possible, since that is the safest way for younger passengers to travel in a car.

Additionally, he was still under 9kg which is the minimum weight for a Group 1 carseat which made it even more difficult to find a suitable option.

Fortunately, it was around this time that Maxi Cosi launched their Opal carseat. This seat is a Group 0+ and Group 1 combination carseat, which means it’s suitable from birth up to 18kg. Up to 13kg the child can travel rear facing, and up to 18kg forward facing. As it is a combination seat, it offers the same seat size as a normal Group 1 carseat with the added bonus of being suitable from new-born, which meant I didn’t have to worry about J not being 9kg yet.

Maxi Cosi Opal Intense Red

Again we had a physical fitting prior to using the Opal – it is another unit fitted with the 3 point seatbelt in the vehicle. Even in my small 1999 VW Polo it fitted well, and comfortably even in the rear facing position. Many people are put off ERF seats because they think they’ll take up a lot of room – well I can confirm the Opal fitted very well, though it did minimise space for the front passenger as I had to have that seat quite far forward in order to accommodate the Opal rear facing. This meant that when Daddy P travelled with us he wasn't especially comfortable (he's 6ft+) but as we don't tend to do regular long drives with all of us in the car it wasn't a huge issue for us.

The silver hooks on either side of the seat hole the harness out of the way when you're getting the child in & out. The rubber backing on the harness pads ensures they grip the clothes, making escaping the harness much more difficult. Always ensure the harness is correctly tensioned to the child - you should not be able to get more then 2 fingers between the breast bone and the harness. The child should not be wearing thick padded coats or snowsuits which may lead to the harness not being correctly tensioned. 

The only annoying thing I found was the horizontal seatbelt section was right across the gap you had to put the child in / lift them out of the carseat which made it awkward. J was 10 months when he started using it so it wasn't so bad but with a newborn I would think this could be quite difficult. 

The Maxi Cosi Opal fitted rear facing in a 1999 VW Polo. There is a space between the back of the carseat and the front passenger seat as there should always be when fitting a rear facing carseat. The seatbelt in this vehicle was at full length to accomodate the Opal rear facing. There is no standard length for seatbelts in vehicles, so before purchasing one you should always get a physical fitting from trained staff to ensure the seat can be safely and correctly fitted. Sometimes the tilt of the vehicle seat may also make a carseat unsuitable as the carseat cannot be fitted at the correct angle, so it's important to check before you buy.

A comment that a lot of people make is that their child prefers to be forward facing, but I contest this, as J was rear facing and perfectly happy in his Opal up until he was 19 months old. This is beyond the new recommendation to keep babies rear facing til 15 months old. At 19 months old J hadn’t yet met the 13kg maximum weight limit for rear facing in the Opal, but he had reached the maximum height for rear facing travel in the Opal. There’s an indicator on the side of the seat to show you. Once you adjust the headrest to a certain height, it will show you that the seat can no longer be used rear facing – it’s due to the head crowning over the top of the main part of the carseat shell. He weighed 12.5kg by this point so he wasn’t far off the 13kg mark, and like a normal Group 1 carseat this seat can be turned forward facing from 9kg (though the recommendation from Maxi Cosi is to keep baby rear facing as long as possible)

J rear facing in the Maxi Cosi Opal at 18 months old

I love how easy the Opal is to adjust the harness height – there is no messing about. You grab the headrest and bring it forward, then pull the headrest up or push it down to adjust it. By doing this, it also adjusts the harness height. You should always go by the harness height for correct headrest adjustment – when using rear facing the harness should be level with the child’s shoulders, or a maximum of half an inch above or below the height of the shoulders. When using the seat forward facing, the harness should be level with the child’s shoulders, or a maximum of half an inch above. When forward facing, the harness should never be lower than the shoulders as in an impact this could cause compression injuries.

As well as this very easy harness adjustment, the Opal fabrics are even easier than the CabrioFix ones for removing to wash. Again, Maxi Cosi recommend a maximum 30 degree handwash only for optimum care, but again I have washed on handwash setting in the machine at 40 degrees and never had any issues. One thing I notice with the Opal is that after a few months of use the fabric becomes quite flattened, but a wash fluffs it back up again as good as new and again it’s nice and padded and comfy. The downside is that the harness pads can’t be removed for washing, but I found a damp cloth or a baby wipe cleaned them up no problem.  I’ve always managed to adjust the Opal harness to the right height required without any issues and because it can be done so easily & quickly it means you’re confident before every journey that it is correctly adjusted.

A huge bonus for me with this seat is that it is width adjustable. J looks quite lost in a normal Group 1 seat as they’re so broad compared to him, but in the Opal I can have the width set to fit him well and it doesn’t look really wide!

The downside to a combination Group 0+ and Group 1 carseat is that it is like a normal Group 1 carseat in size and weight, which does mean you’re unable to remove it from the car like the CabrioFix and fit it into a pushchair chassis, so it does mean you have to get baby out of the carseat and into the pushchair every time you arrive at your destination. I only ever used to use the CabrioFix on the pushchair chassis occasionally when we went to the shops by car, so it didn’t make too much difference to me not being able to do that.

J is now 100cm tall so the harness is on the highest setting but it is exactly right for him – he is forward facing as he is now 15.5kg but I am proud to have kept him rearfacing til 19 months old as this is far longer than many people manage.

A few months ago I got a new car which meant re-checking the fit of the carseat to ensure it was suitable for use. The new car is a Toyota Yaris Verso, and I find fitting the Opal in this vehicle so much easier as it’s taller than the Polo, with flatter seats in the back and plenty of space and it takes about a minute to successfully fit the Opal into this vehicle and there’s no messing about – the only thing I didn’t like about fitting the Opal into the Polo was the amount of fussing about you had to do because the seatbelt was only just long enough and there was such limited space in the car. Now it’s in and out within a minute and I’ve no issues doing it.

I really like this carseat and it looks so comfy and J can see out of the window brilliantly because of the height of it, it offers recline positions when forward facing so even if he falls asleep in it I can make him comfortable without any issues (there’s a button on the underside of the front edge of the seat to press in and lift the front of the carseat up in order to recline) The guideline is that a Group 1 carseat is suitable until approximately 3.5yrs old (maximum weight 18kg) while J will be well below 18kg when he hits 3.5yrs old he remains a very tall child for his age (on the 95th percentile) and as I mentioned before he is already using the highest possible harness setting so there’s no more scope to adjust it but he continues to be comfortable and safe and I’m in no hurry to change him to a high backed booster seat so I will be continuing to use the Opal for him for as long as possible.

J forward facing in the Opal - 100cm tall, 15.5kg, 3yrs 1month old 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Maxi Cosi CabrioFix & EasyBase 2

Before J was born, I did a lot of research into which carseat was the best option for me.

I wanted an infant carrier with a carseat base, but I didn't have IsoFix in my car, which meant that I needed a base that could be secured using the 3 point seatbelt.

As there is no standard length for seatbelts or seatbelt webbing in vehicles, when fitting a carseat using the 3 point seatbelt it is always recommended that you have a physical fitting from trained staff prior to purchase to confirm suitability.

The Maxi Cosi EasyBase 2 was suitable for use in my car at the time (a 1999 VW Polo) In combination with this base, we used the Maxi Cosi CabrioFix carseat (though the Maxi Cosi Pebble is also compatible with the EasyBase 2.)

The advantage of having a carseat base meant we could leave the base secured in the car and just click the carseat on and off as necessary. It saved time when we were going out, rather than having to mess about fitting the carseat every time you just got baby into the carseat in the house, carried the carseat to the car and clicked it onto the base before setting off. I was confident every time that the seat was correctly fitted and it saved time when going out with baby - which any new mum will tell you is a bonus!

J was very tall even as a young baby, but the CabrioFix was long enough for him to last quite a white. We removed the lumbar support cushion at around five months old as he needed the additional space for his bottom - the headhugger remained in place til he was 9 months. When I adjusted the harness on the carseat to come through the top holes, I brought it through the bottom holes of the headhugger to hold it in a higher position in the seat to be able to continue using it. 

I also got the matching footmuff to use with the CabrioFix which I found an excellent accessory, well worth the money - it meant J was warm enough in the car in his day clothes and just with the footmuff on, and because the harness goes inside the footmuff you can be confident the harness is correctly tensioned and not too loose on the baby because of the extra padding between them and the harness that you'd get by adding a winter coat.

As you expect to find with a child in a close fitting item such as the CabrioFix carseat, J got quite hot in it during the summer months so I also invested in a Summer Cover. This terry towelling fabric goes over the normal carseat fabric and means that baby remains cooler. Plus it's easy to remove and wash, which I did several times over and every time it came out good as new despite being the cream colour which a lot of people thought was really inappropriate for a baby carseat fabric colour!

The standard fabrics on the CabrioFix carseat can be removed for washing easily - and you don't need to mess with the harness at all to do so - which was another huge bonus for me. Maxi Cosi recommend handwashing fabrics at 30 degrees for optimum care, but I put them in our washing machine for a handwash cycle at 40 degrees and they came out brilliantly every time. I wash them then give them a fast spin in the machine and lay them on an airer to dry and they were ready for use again by the next morning.

Due to how tall J is, he became too long for the CabrioFix at 10 months old - his head was crowning over the top lip of the seat no matter how much I jiggled his legs to shift his bottom down and keep his head contained in the seat shell. In a rear facing carseat such as the CabrioFix, the head should not crown over the top lip of the seat, so at that point we needed to get the next stage carseat for him.

Our Dogs

This is our boy dog, Buddy. He is a Border Collie and was born in July 2005. He has been our dog since he was 8 weeks old. He is bouncy, playful, protective and loving. He and J are Double Trouble. They get into all kinds of mischief together!

This is our girl dog, Holly. She is a cross breed (Border Collie cross) We don't know how old she is, but we rescued her in December 2007 from a local rehoming centre after she was found wandering down a busy main road with no collar and no chip. She is cheeky, boisterous and loves nothing more than running round the garden with J.

Our Family

This is J with my mum. J calls her Nanan. 

This is J with my dad. J calls him Grumpa.

This is Daddy P's Mum - J calls her Grandma.

This is Daddy P's dad. J calls him Grandad.

Daddy P's sister & her husband - Auntie Jo & Uncle Dips

Cousin Aaron

My brother & his wife - Uncle Jay & Auntie Em

Monday, 21 October 2013

A Bit About Us

This is my son, J.

J was born in August 2010. He is currently 100cm tall and weighs 15.5kg. He is our product tester.

This is me with J.

We live in Norfolk with Daddy P.

Daddy P and I have been together since July 2000 and married since November 2006. 

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