Essex Mums Newsletter January 2015
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The Forum    *   Essex Mums Love...   *   Things to Do   *   Places to Go   *   Places to Eat   *   Essex Mums Shop   *   Directory   *   Special Offers   *   Product Reviews   *   New on the Shopping Guide   *   Pregnancy & Parenting Articles   *   Recipes   *   Craft Ideas   *   Educational Activities   *   Blog   *   Events   *   Ad Rates   *    Competitions
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Happy New Year! I hope you and your family had a wonderful 2014 but that 2015 brings you even more happiness. It's been a great year here at Essex Mums and as the site has grown so much over 2014 I thought I would take this opportunity to go over the many different areas of the site - I hope that it will continue to be a useful resource for your family.

Once again I would also like to thank everyone who has been a part of the site this past year (and previously). When I started it back in 2008 I never would have dreamt of it becoming what it is now - hopefully a useful and interesting site, but most importantly a supportive, friendly and amazing group of parents who have been there for one another through thick and thin. Thank you Essex Mums, there's a lot I would have struggled to get through myself without some of you.
If you have something you'd like to add to the site, please use one of these buttons to get you there quickly!
The Forum
Without the forum, where would we be? So many of us have made great friends here, kids have grown up together and we've given and received some amazing advice as well as just having a lovely place to chat each day. If you've never posted, please make it your new year's resolution to come and say hello; if you posted once but decided it wasn't for you, please give us another chance! We're always happy to see some new faces, just dive right in to one of the daily threads, come and introduce yourself or arrange a meet-up! Don't feel daunted, it really is a friendly and welcoming group.

If you're pregnant or already a parent and need some advice, there's always someone who has been there, done that. There's a section for Essex Dads, for those of you who fancy a bit of stardom, who fancy a debate or just want a rant; you can ask for opinions on medical issues, or on schools and nurseries. If you want something different for your child's birthday party you can find it on the forum, and likewise if you have a business opportunity you'd love to share, you can do so here too. There's even an area for buying and selling where you can list items free of charge! The Local Business Noticeboard is a new section of the forum to post about and promote your business to our community. If you are interested in having your posts shared with our Facebook and Twitter followers too, email me on about forum sponsorship at just £20 a year.

As well as that, you can get professional advice from one of our experts:

  • Ask the Baby Expert: Ask Lisa Clegg author of The Blissful Baby Expert any questions you have regarding dealing with everything baby-related. 
  • Ask the Business Expert: Ask our business expert Claire Conby any questions you have about starting up or running your own business.
  • Ask the Children's Physiotherapist: Ask our Children's Physiotherapist Chris Smith from Kidsphysio2u any physical development concerns you may have, or for general children's physiotherapy questions. 
  • Ask the Counsellor: Ask qualified counsellor Amanda Wilkins any questions you have about emotional wellbeing, particularly within the pre natal and post natal period.
  • Ask the Dentist: Have a question about tooth and mouth care? Ask Charl Chapman from Essex Dentist.
  • Ask the Midwife: Any questions about pregnancy, labour, birth or postnatal care? Then ask our experienced midwife for some advice.
  • Ask the Occupational Therapist: Ask our Occupational Therapist Abi Johnson for advice about your child's fine motor skills, handwriting, self-care or difficulty accessing leisure activities.
  • Ask the Solicitor: For legal advice and questions - ask the Solicitors from Leonard Gray LLP 
  • Ask the Speech and Language Therapist: Post your questions about any concerns you have about your child's speech or language development to the Therapists from C&D Independent Speech & Language Therapy
  • Ask the Teacher: Have a question about your child's education? We have a range of teachers from Early Years right up to Secondary ready to help and offer advice
  • Ask the Trainer: Put your health and fitness questions to our forum Personal Trainer Zoe Randall 
  • Ask the Working Mums Coach: Are you are working mum who needs some advice, or are you looking for help to get you back into work? Come and ask our Working Mums Coach from The Pickle Shed
Essex Mums Love...
My favourite new addition this year has been the Essex Mums Loves... section. 2014 saw the first ever Essex Mums awards, where thousands of you nominated and voted for the people, places and things that make life as a parent in Essex that bit better. You can find out who won and read a bit about them in this lovely new section.
Things to Do
Hopefully a section you're all familiar with! The Things to Do section is a fantastic listing of what's on for families across Essex. It's divided into different areas to make it easy as well as types -  one off eventsparent and toddler groups,classesgroups for older children and things for parents. I'm always on the hunt for new goings on so please do contact me if you have anything you would like listed here or just submit the event yourself using our online form. Every event links through to a forum post with more details, which means there is also the opportunity to discuss things you have been to yourself, and find out what others have to say about them. Regular events, venues etc. are also listed on the map, which makes it easy to search for what's on near you.

I'm eager to make sure that all classes, groups etc are as up to date as possible so please send over any new details if you run a class, or let me know if you see something that is no longer running or needs updating. Oh, and make sure you mention you read about it on Essex Mums if you do go along to something new!

You can now make your event 'Featured'on Essex Mums for just a pound a week. Once you have added your event you can choose the subscribe option below the 'Add Your Event' button to start the Featured ad running, or pay via the Online Ad Payments page. It's only a pound a week, with the amount being charged on a weekly basis, so there is no need to pay the full amount upfront, and you can run the listing for as long as you like. When you want it to finish, simply cancel your subscription. 
Places to Go 
I still have hundreds of great attractions and days out to add to the Places to Go section but it's been filled out a bit more this year, giving detailed descriptions of venues and attractions across the county, divided into categories to make it easy to find something if you fancy a day out. If you would like your place to go listed here, just get in touch on section will be having a big revamp in the new year so watch this space!
Places to Eat
The Family-Friendly Eats section contains listings and reviews of family-friendly restaurants and cafes, so that parents make informed choices about where their family can enjoy a meal, and where might be best to avoid. It would be great to eventually award establishments certificates of family-friendliness, based on what the users of Essex Mums have said but for that we need more ratings and more reviews, so come and tell us about the best and worst near to you. You can also use the map to find places near you. If you would like to add a place to eat, just use our online form.
Essex Mums Shop
Our shop features lots of lovely products from small and local businesses so come and take a look! If you have any products you would like to sell through us and think would be a good fit, please get in touch!
The Directory is your guide to local services, shops and more. There are free basic listings available to all which include contact details, website etc. and inexpensive lifetime listings for those who would like a little more exposure. To add your company, just fill in the online form and submit your listing.
Special Offers
New last year, the special offers section features loads of great offers and deals for the parents of Essex. Come and have a browse and save yourself a few pennies!

If you would like to submit an offer for your business, just click here
Did you receive a camera for Christmas, and are now wondering how to get the best out of it?  
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With 12 years tutoring experience and over 500 customers in the last two years alone, Daniel Bridge will help you get the photos you want, at a fraction of the cost of a new camera or lens.
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Product Reviews
Want to find out what's worth buying and what's worth missing out on? Where is good to go and where to avoid? Then consult our crack team of Essex Mums product reviewers before making your purchase! Click on each reviewer on the Product Reviews page to see all of their reviews, or click here to browse the reviews or search by categories such as age range and type of product.  Click here if you have something you would like reviewed! We can allocate a reviewer to you, or you can choose someone you think fits what you're looking for.

Here are the product reviews added this month! 
My Underpants Rule! by Kate and Rod Power
My Underpants Rule! has been written by an ex-police officer and her husband to help parents to keep their children safer from sexual predators.  
Read Jenny's full review
Blaze-On Fairy Lights
I have always been partial to fairy lights. I think they can really add something to a room, are quite pretty and… well… make me think of Christmas, which is generally a good thing. The Blaze-On range of fairy lights are really something special however, and it almost seems to do them a disservice to just call them fairy lights! 
Read Louise's full review
Chicken Charades by University Games
Chicken Charades? I admit, it does sound a little on the silly side but after playing this game with my family, I would recommend it for any family party or gathering as it really is a lot of fun.  
Read Jenny's full review
Penpals at Home
Many primary school aged children in the UK will already be familiar with the Penpals for Handwriting scheme as it is used in a large proportion of UK schools. However, most of their parents have probably never heard of some of the phrases that the scheme uses such as ‘long ladder’ or ‘one-armed robot’ which is one of the reasons why these Penpals at Home books are so great. 
Read Jenny's full review
Haberman Bird Cup
The Haberman Bird Cup is a sippy drinking cup for babies and toddlers. This cup is part of the Haberman Anywayup range, and is available in three colours – pink, green and blue. I have been trying out a pink cup with my nine-month-old daughter Sofia 
Read Helena's full review
Father Christmas Experience at Marsh Farm
Marsh Farm’s Father Christmas Experience is a family day-out with festive surprises around every corner. Voted by our Essex Mums community as their favourite Christmas event last year, I was really intrigued to see what delights they had in store for us! 
Read Louise's full review
Dispatches from the Dating Zone – KT Valentine
So I put my little boy to bed and got out this book to review; Dispatches from the dating zone. I must admit even though I don’t get much time to myself anymore to read, I was hooked on the book and read it at every nap time with a cup of tea and a biscuit and every evening after I put the little fella to bed. 
Read Jenny's full review
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Summer Bodies are made in Winter!
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  • More energy
  • Craving healthy foods instead of rubbish ones
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New on the Shopping Guide
Looking for great gifts, fairtrade or handmade toys, clothes that are a bit different to what's on the High Street, or just something to treat yourself? You'll find it all and more on the Essex Mums Alternative Shopping Guide! Browse shops on the guide by category, or search the product guide for that perfect buy! Now is the perfect time to sign up for the Guide for 2015 and/or 2016 so drop me a line or book online if you're interested. All shops listed get a mention in the newsletter and on the forum and every new product added is shared with our followers on twitter and facebook so it's a great way to promote your shop.

Check out some of the gorgeous new shops added to the Alternative Shopping Guide this month: If you have a shop you would like to advertise on the Shopping Guide, please get in touch on
Pregnancy & Parenting Articles
The Pregnancy and Parenting section features fantastic information about different aspects of pregnancy and parenting written by our very own Essex Mums: everything from trying for a baby to raising teenagers. This section is a work in progress so check back regularly for new topics. Please bear in mind that all articles (unless otherwise stated) are written by members of the site and are not to be used in place medical advice from a doctor, midwife or health visitor. If you're interested in writing for this section yourself, please get in touch

It also features a baby names section to the site - a personal interest of mine and something I've wanted to do for years! It's full of interesting and unusual names, as well as the classics. You can rate and save your favourites, add anything you have to say about the name and search by origin, top 20s since 1903 and some fun categories that I am hoping to add more of!
Glucose Tolerance Test
A glucose tolerance test (GTT) or an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) is a screening test used to test your body to check how well it can regulate your sugar levels. It is offered to women at risk, usually between 26 and 28 weeks of your pregnancy, although may be offered earlier or later in pregnancy if needed. 
Read more
Crowning is when the widest part of your baby’s head (often referred to as their crown) emerges from your vaginal opening and remains visible without moving back inside after you finish pushing.  Your midwife will now be able to see your baby’s forehead and back of the head clearly. 
Read more
Tutoring for the 11+: A Level Playing Field?
In the 1960s very few children went to prep schools and most of us just attended the nearest local state primary school. Virtually no preparation took place for the 11+ exam and generally the top 10-15% of each class passed the exam and then their parents sent them off on the bus.
Read more

BoBo Baby Wear. Inspired, beautiful baby wear and gorgeous baby accessories at good value prices. Bows, flowers, bloomers and pettiskirts in fabulous fabrics and prints. 
For wonderfully versatile, stylish outfits for our very small friends who simply must have the very best..... For something a little bit different, look  what we have for you.....
Follow us on twitter @mybobobabywear &    
Take a look at our recipes section for some tried-and-tested family-friendly feeds! Do you have something you would like to add to this section? If so, please share it here. If anyone is interested in becoming a regular contributor please get in touch
Gluten-free classic sandwich cake
This gluten-free sponge cake will always be a simple and delicious tea-time favourite.  The quick and easy recipe simply switches regular self-raising flour for any ready-mixed gluten-free blend, and the end result is so light and moist that no one will be able to tell the difference.
Read Helena's full recipe
Paleo Scotch Eggs
A Paleo scotch egg recipe made with all fresh whole & healthy ingredients using no flour or breadcrumbs. They can be made in 30 minutes and are great eaten hot or cold for breakfast or lunch. 
Read Lorraine's full recipe
Craft Ideas
Our Craft Ideas section features arts and crafts for children of all ages. Just click on the image to find out how to make it! If you have any ideas, or would like to write a regular feature for this section, please get in touch!
Educational Activities
Our Educational Activities section features ideas to get your kids learning and help them with their homework. We really need some contributors for this section who can come up with some simple ideas, so if you would like to become a contributor or just have a few suggestions, please post them - anything is welcome, no matter how simple
Nine Times Table Trick
Have a child learning their times tables? Here’s a simple trick to help them remember their nine times tables up to ten. 

Read more

Could AVON be the answer?

Are you looking for that little bit extra each month to help pay for luxuries, or just to make ends meet? It may be worth your while considering AVON. There is no start up kit to pay for, you aren’t tied in to anything and you have complete control from the outset.

Comprehensive training and support every step of the way and no out of pocket expenses to worry about at any point. If you would like to know more and see how AVON can be YOUR answer, text AVON, your name and postcode to 07583 042 710, or click here to apply.

The blog features posts from me as well as from guest bloggers, so if you have something you would like to write, please get in touch!
Become a Hero for Hattie and Give Blood
Two weeks ago I was told the news no parent wants to hear. My baby girl has leukaemia.

A normal Tuesday school run with my 5 and 1year olds, followed by a 999 call and an ambulance to Southend hospital. Only to be told on Wednesday morning that my 1 year old Harriet (known as Hattie) has cancer.
Read more
The Gender Issue In Kids’ Clothing
When we think of children’s clothing, most of us think of all the cute garments we can purchase for our kids. From dress-up clothes that make them look like little adults, to playful and themed clothes for particular occasions, to the everyday attire they wear the most, kids’ wardrobes can be a great deal of fun (and, yes, some hassle) for parents. 
Read more
Why we need to talk about money
Money is something that few of us really like to talk about. Let’s face it, things like savings, life insurance and salaries aren’t always the easiest or the most interesting topics of conversation. Yet, as parents, we have a responsibility to deal with them properly. So, why is it that so few of us talk about money? 
Read more
Stevenson Brothers Handmade Rocking Horses…and Unicorns! 
We absolutely love the beautiful rocking horses by Stevenson Brothers. These fabulous pieces are made by hand at their workshop in Kent and truly are unique works of art! These traditional toys are great fun for both children and adults alike and can be handed down through the generations as a family heirloom. 
Read more
‘Sylvanian Village’ Competition Launch
EPOCH making toys’ flagship brand Sylvanian Families is giving away a ‘Sylvanian Village’ worth £500 in its latest competition. The competition, which will run between the 26th November 2014 and 31st January 2015, is the first in a series of celebrations to mark its 30th anniversary in 2015. 
Read more

Here at Essex Beauty Treatments in Rayleigh we offer the best in beauty and holistic treatments. Semi-permanent EyeLashes, Shellac, Waxing, Reflexology and many more. 

We are also very proud of the cleanse program we offer! Forever Living's C9. 

A nine day cleanse program that will help you feel great and look great. If you want to loose up to 12lb in 9 days and feel great then contact us at Essex Beauty Treatments for more details.
Lots going on this month! You can find full listings on the Things to Do section or search by area using the links below. Make sure you take a look to find fun things to do for your family, and let us know when you try something good. Oh, and remember to say you saw it on Essex Mums!
Ad Rates
If you'd like to consider advertising on the site, take a look at the Ad Rates page. There is a range of ads to suit all budgets, and if you want to hear how advertising on Essex Mums has worked for others, take a look at the Testimonials page. I am always happy to put together packages that suit you and are normally discounted so get in touch if you have a few ideas about where you'd like to be on the site and we can work together to find something that suits you.

We have a buy one, get one free offer running for the rest of January so if you book an ad through the new page you will get the same again totally free, on anything from a small newsletter ad for a month up to a banner ad for a year. Just book online and quote 'BOGOF' on your order to qualify.

If you would like help putting an ad together, we can provide this service free of charge.

Everything else
As always, please send any events, feedback, ideas etc. to me at I love hearing how people use the site and ways I can improve it. The normal newsletter will be back next month - I hope you've enjoyed this overview of the website!

I hope you have a lovely month and that I'll get to see you at a meet-up soon.

Kind regards
Fantastic things to win! Enter one of our great competitions or get in touch if you would like to run something yourself. New competitions are always being added so make sure you check the competitions page for new giveaways, and get in touch if you'd like to run a giveaway yourself. 
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