Wednesday 31 March 2010


I was struggling with ideas of where to go for a family outing on Wednesday afternoon and was given a few suggestions after my SOS on Facebook.

We decided to go to the Candle Factory at Burwardsley and then afterwards onto Cheshire Ice Cream farm at Tattenhall. Luke is at the age now where he gets excited about surprises and the journey was a real adventure. He loved looking out for Beeston & Peckforton Castles so I'm guessing we will be venturing out there again in the Summer.

The Candle Factory was buzzing with children all doing different activities, pottery painting, decorating wooden spoons, making badges, fridge magnets and rulers. Luke was spoilt for choice and was so in awe of it all that he decided he didn't want to make 'nuffing'. We went downstairs to watch the candle making but again, Luke wasn't interested in making one. He spent the morning at nursery making Easter Crafts and I think he was activitied out! I've never pushed him into anything he doesn't want to do, believe me its not worth it with such a strong-willed toddler!

Onwards to the Ice Cream Farm, this is much more Luke's scene and Mark's too! We had a quick look round the petting zoo and then into the shop to buy our ice cream. As I have given up chocolate for Lent, I had to abstain from my usual 'Ferrero Rocher' with chocolate waffle cone and settled for Strawberry cheesecake, it was delicious but just not the same. There is now an indoor play area here too which was opened last year, a great place for adults to chat and children to play. It is a frequent meeting place for myself and my old schoolfriends as they are all Tarporley based. I am looking forward to going back in the Summer for my Ferrero Rocher Ice Cream!

Entry is free for both of these attractions. For more information go to:-

Tuesday 30 March 2010


I've no idea why I bothered to paint my nails last night especially when I know I am going to get covered in Facepaint. It comes off skin no problem just not off nails and clothes very well.

Half of my day was spent at Stapeley Water Gardens at The Palms. I am now listed as one of their preferred suppliers and they have me in to do facepainting for all their school holiday family events. Its a great opportunity for promoting my parties and I have had a couple of bookings from being there.
There was many a Grandparent spoiling the Grandchildren, A childminder from Wales with 3 children and a Dad with 4 children! Bet they just love the school holidays. The most popular request today was a dalmation dog, its normally pink butterflies!

Tomorrow, Mark & I are having an afternoon with Luke after his morning visit to nursery. We had to quickly paint a boiled egg at 5pm for the Easter Competition. He insisted on a red pig, so we will see if he we manage to win a prize this year. We have decided on a trip to the Candle Factory in Burwardsley and then afterwards a trip to the Ice Cream Farm at Tattenhall.

Monday 29 March 2010

Nantwich Children's Centre

Today was meant to be the last 'Tippy Toes' class at Nantwich Children's centre but between us we have failed to find a suitable venue with buggy park and spacious enough.
I was delighted when Jo Stainsby said we could carry on until the end of April.

Luke is my little helper at this class and handed out the rattles to the children and parents, held the bubble machine while the children popped them and gave out stickers at the end. In return he got a little treat in the way of a 'Cbeebies magazine'. I'm forever looking at new ways to entertain the children especially in the dance class and the magazine had the perfect thing. 2 inflatable dice, one is a numbered dice, the other has actions ie/jump, wiggle, dance, hop etc. We had a lot of fun trying it out in when we got home and I will be making my own to use in class.

I have made lots of my own props, my favourite creation is the life size 'Jack in the Box' the children just love popping out of it. I also adapted some little mice to use in 'Hickory Dickory Dock' dance. The mice were originally cat toys.

My mind is always working ten to the dozen but welcome any ideas that anyone could send my way.

Sunday 28 March 2010

Swimming with a toddler

Thursday started with Tippy Toes session at Sandbach and then picked Luke up from his Nannie's. He was deep into his lunchtime nap, much to his disgust I woke him which may not have been the best idea as he was a grumpy little man but it wasn't going to stop my plans to meet up with a friend for a swim. Luke has been swimming since he was 12 weeks old, one minute he loves it when I'm not allowed to hold him, the next he hates it when he's clinging onto me for dear life. This day he was the latter, holding on all through the session. He was born in the water so I always expected he would be the ultimate Water Baby, how wrong can a person be?

Today, we made the effort to go as a family to overcome his fear. He spent the first 10 minutes clinging on to his daddy like a koala then became very confident and splashing about and swimming furiously chasing his toys round the pool.

When I organised the first ever 'Bumps, Babes & Beyond' Show I met Anna Woodhart from Water Babies who runs Baby Swimming classes in South Cheshire. Here is a small biog about Anna. I've never taken Luke to one of her classes but I'm beginning to wish I had!

I first discovered Water Babies when my eldest son, Jack now 4, was about 6 months old. I was dreading returning to work and wanted to ‘do something else’- a feeling a think most new mums experience. I had also been looking into taking Jack to baby swimming classes and couldn’t find anything in my area, the closest was Liverpool!! So when I was reading my trusty Mother & Baby magazine one day and saw an article about 3 ladies who had quit their jobs, retrained and bought Water Babies franchises it seemed like the perfect solution. I literally put the magazine down, picked up the phone and off I went. Nine months later (after a huge amount of training and lots of hours of work!!) I launched my first class.

I am very lucky to be part of the world’s leading provider of baby and preschool swimming tuition, not only do we have the most highly trained teachers in the world, we also have a unique structured and progressive course that teaches you how to teach your baby. Nationally we currently teach over 20,000 babies per week water confidence and vital water safety skills.

I really, really love what I do- every day is different and exciting. We now teach over 600 babies and toddlers per week across Cheshire and Staffordshire and have just expanded into North Wales as well.

We have classes running 7 days a week in warm water pools across the area. If you would like some more information please call 01270 781239 or look at

Wednesday 24 March 2010

Design & Artwork by Nicola Francomb

Had a brainstorming session in Costa Coffee with Nicki Francomb from 'Nicola Francomb Design and Artwork'. Now I'm into my 3rd year of trading, I've decided I need a new corporate identity which covers all my 3 businesses into one. Its exciting stuff and I'll be posting on here when it has been finalised.
I first met Nicki when she attended the Baby Sign classes at Nantwich Children's centre withe her daughter, Isabella. Bella was one of the first babies to sign 'milk' at that class.

In my previous life as a Travel Agent and Business Development Manager, I found Business networking to be a very useful in making business contacts and generating business. This was one of the reasons I organised the 'Bumps, Babes & Beyond Show' as it gave me the opportunity to meet other like minded people who were pro-active in developing their businesses. In my blog, I will be introducing other 'Nantwich Mumpreneurs' to help promote their businesses too.

Nicki says :- I have worked within the advertising industry for over 14 years working with some highly creative people. I'm a designer and artworker (that's the more technical side for those not in the know) and am working on becoming a web designer too.
I've set up my own business 'Nicola Francomb Design and Artwork', after having my daughter, offering my skills to everyone from other new mums starting out on their own up to established companies.
My particular skills lie within brand identity, brochure and ad layouts, point of sale and proof reading.
Please contact 07887 986228 for further details or if you would like to discuss any requirements with me.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Baby Signing and the benefits

This week's topic was 'My Furry Friends', all children love to mimic animal sounds, so we sing and sign to 'Old McDonald', 'How much is that Doggy?' and bonded over 'This little piggy..'. It's such a fun session and now that a couple of the older ones are signing along too the parents of younger babies can see the benefits too.

The intellectual benefits of baby signing are:-

1. It increases the speed of the development of verbal language and vocabulary
2. It reinforces the use of verbal language.
3. Promotes language learning through concept.
4. Reinforces a child’s communication attempts.
5. Promotes early literacy.
6. Increases interests in books.
7. Promotes the early use of complex sentences.

Baby sign benefits extend to children over 3 years old also. Older children who used Baby Sign Language as infants and toddlers have better verbal and reading skills. Many parents use books along with teaching sign language. When you point to a picture and then show the sign for the word, both reading and communication skills are improved. Vocabulary is developed earlier and grows faster. The kinesthetic elements of signing reinforce verbal skills.

You can actually teach an infant Baby Sign Language, and it will promote the use of speech sooner rather than later. Language is conceptual. You have to be able to picture an item and relate a word to the picture in your mind. When a child learns how language works by using Baby Sign Language, it is only natural the baby will attempt to use the actual word as soon as possible. The fear that baby signing slows the development of speech is ungrounded. In fact, the opposite is true.

There are many intellectual benefits of using Baby Sign Language. An infant learning baby signing results in the early development of literacy and verbal skills. If you want to teach your infant how to communicate 1-2 years earlier, while developing intellectual abilities, Baby Sign Language is a key tool.
(taken from

If you are sceptical about Baby Signing come along to a class and see the results. You will be amazed! From a personal front, Luke was signing from 5 months, his first signs were dog and milk. He now speaks in full clear sentences and his memory is second to none, he is not quite 3 but everyone comments on how advanced his vocabulary is.
Watch the video of 13 month old Rowan, what a clever girl! I am so proud how many signs she has and how much she can communicate with her parents at such a young age.

Monday 22 March 2010

Just another Manic Monday

Monday mornings are mostly spent at home with Luke. This morning I made 3 batches of homemade Playdough for the 'Nantwich Baby Group' tomorrow. Its so easy and probably a lot cheaper than the shop bought play dough. I will post the recipe on here when I remember!

In the afternoon I take Luke with me to the Tippy Toes Class at the Children's centre, Nantwich. He used to be so easy to take to classes when I first started, but as he's gotten older, its been more difficult as he realises he now has to share his mummy with lots of other babies & toddlers. A healthy snack and a treat usually does the trick! I have been lucky to be able to start a business and not pay for childcare so I'm grateful for that.

We had 13 children at the Tippy Toes class, it was very lively and I'm certain they will all sleep well tonight. I noticed about 4 of the mums were expecting again with their 2nd child. I think they're all very brave!!

Monday 29th March will be my last class at the Children's centre, but they have kindly helped to find me a room at the Wyche School which is next door to the Centre. I will be starting classes there after Easter so anyone wishing to take a place please contact me on 07973 479471.

Sunday 21 March 2010

British Weather

I start nice and early on a Saturday morning, Tippy Toes Toddler dance class takes place at Pear Tree School, Nantwich at 9.15am. It always amazes me at how many dads we have at this class bonding over a boogie.

Then after a quick change and swapping all the dance equipment to facepainting equipment, I was off to the Family Fun Day at Rope Green Farm Nursery. After a week of sunshine, Saturday took a turn for the worse. When I arrived at 11am, I was pleased to see so many dedicated families, despite the rain. Some were even on the bouncy castle! The staff stood at various tombola stalls under umbrellas and kept spirits up, a couple of children even had their faces painted. I was only able to stay for an hour in which time the rain did clear away for a short while. What a shame after all the effort but I hope the press managed to get some good publicity shots of the Cheshire East mayor Cllr Margaret Simon and MP, Mr Edward Timpson.

After Luke's lunchtime nap, we were off to Haslington Playbarn again for the second time this week. This time we met Gwen & Chloe and Frankie & Rawdon. Us mummies met at the Aquanatal class held at Nantwich Swimming baths when we were pregnant. It is a gentle exercise class in the water suitable for pregnant ladies from 16 weeks. It was a nice way to compare notes and chat about our fears of becoming first time parents. I'm glad we've stayed in touch and remained friends.

Being part of a Baby Cafe & Post Natal Group was very important to me, especially in the early days. I love to meet new people and share experiences, I was given lots of useful advice and hope I managed to pass on my own words of wisdom too. My Baby Sign class is held at 'Nantwich Baby Group' which is a local group set up by first time mums, Alison & Toni. Its a friendly group and only costs a £1 to go towards the hire of the hall. It is held at Market Street Church Hall from 10.30am till 12pm.

For more details go to

Thursday 18 March 2010

Best of both worlds

This morning was a very lively Tippy Toes Toddler Dance class at the Wesley Centre in Sandbach. I introduced a new dance today which was 'Bob the Builder's, Big Fish Little Fish Cardboard Box' I don't know who was having more fun, me or the toddlers. Each session covers a number of different dances and the children learn to appreciate music & rhythm. We use props such as scarves, hoops, ribbons, toys and books. Its such a fun class and I love teaching it.

I collected Luke from his Nannie's house to learn that he had cried for me for nearly an hour when I'd dropped him off. He is a real mummy's boy and in his nearly 3 years has coped well having to share me with other babies but now he is starting to rebel! I now dedicate my time to him for 'Luke and Mummy Time' and this afternoon was just what we did at Haslington Playbarn. We played with cousin, Baby Alicia (as Luke calls her, but she has just turned 1) and lots of other playmates from past and current classes. We had a lovely time catching up and eating cake!

Haslington Playbarn is next to the Cricket Club in Clay Lane. It is a small indoor play area with ball pool and slides. It is free entry for adults and children under 18 months. They do not restrict your time there and we played for a good 2 hours. Luke was shattered by the time we got home and so was I!


Wednesday 17th March was my first Baby Sign session with Rope Green Farm Day Nursery. I will be teaching the staff to communicate with the babies in their care using Sign language. Each week, the parents will receive a copy of the signs learned so they can practice at home with their babies. The staff were all lovely and friendly and we managed to keep most of the babies amused for the 30 minutes.

Rope Green Farm Day Nursery is a private day nursery in Shavington (opposite Shavington High School) and is set within a working diary farm. They only opened in October 2009 and in their first Ofsted inspectin they received outstanding in all areas and outstanding overall. Nationally, they are the first private nursery to receive this in all areas.

To celebrate their achievement, they are holding a 'Family Fun Day' on Saturday 20th March 11am till 3pm. There will be stalls, tractor rides, easter egg hunt, bouncy castle, raffles, fun family games and face painting (offered by yours truly!)

Its free entry so go along and join in the fun and have a look at what this lovely nursery has to offer. Vicky Dodd is the founder and will be on hand to answer any queries on the day.

Tuesday 16 March 2010

The Sun has got his hat on, hip hip hip hooray!

This weeks topic for the Baby Sign class in Nantwich was 'Family'. Each week we focus on 10 signs to practice at home. It was lovely to have such a good turn out and I'm so proud when the older babies sign along to certain songs. It is held at Market Street Church Hall in Nantwich at 11am. The cost is £3 and includes a play and a cuppa.

The nice weather certainly gets people out and that was apparent when I went to feed the ducks with Luke after I'd picked him up from nursery. I regret ever getting him excited about seeing the ice cream van because now when he sees one he wants one! I didn't succumb today and bribed him with the play area on Brookfield. Bribery works so well with toddlers!

Tomorrow is my first day with a new nursery, Rope Green Day Nursery in Shavington. This is a lovely new nursery built on farm land run by Vicky Dodd. They have booked me to do Baby Sign sessions every other Wednesday so will keep me busy for the next few months.

If you wish to know more about Baby Sign and how it helps with development of speech, please visit my website and read the testimonials for yourself.

Introducing Nantwich's new blogger


I've read many other blogs and thought it was about time I did this myself. Its a great way of sharing experiences and telling people what I do. I spend my life on Facebook updating my status so thought this is a much better way to document my life!

For many local mums, most people know that I run Baby Sign & Toddler Dance classes but I have recently ventured into the Professional Facepainting route and do Kids entertainment and parties.

Aside from my business, I'm also mummy to a 'spirited' toddler, Luke who is 3 in April. I have so many lovely stories I long to share and would love to hear yours too.

Happy Reading!