Sunday, 29 March 2015

Pic of the week: #32

Another week, another dreary post. You won't want to read it. Basically, I was tired but I've been given a rest and I now need to snap out of my rut and be positive. Here's a positive photo:


This week was tough, but I've realised that all the things that made it tough are just part and parcel of motherhood. I'm no different to every other mum out there. They have babies who refuse naps, or will only nap on a human (or some other way that is often inconvenient), make a mess every meal time, love taking things out of cupboards and playing with things they shouldn't. Every other mum also has a constant battle with the housework, laundry pile, the empty fridge and food cupboards the state of their nails and appearance in general. Every other mum feels like they have a never-ending to-do list and feels frustrated that they can't do the things that they want to. I've got half-written blog posts in my drafts that I can't seem to get in the frame of mind to finish, I've got products I need to review, plans I need to make regarding the extension we're supposed to be building this year, I've got books and leaflets I want to read, and I've got friends and family members who want to get a decent conversation out of me. Yet I am managing to deliver on exactly zero of these fronts and I feel like I'm barely managing to be a decent mum to Joseph sometimes.

I hit a low point on Thursday where I actually felt like I was having a panic attack. I won't go into it but I just never want to feel like that again. It wasn't a good place to be. I've been staying at Ruari's parents' house for a couple of days to get away from the frustration at my house and to avoid being alone whilst Ruari is in Belgium this weekend. I brought my laundry pile to do here and, of course, Joseph. 

Today Ruari's mum plucked Joseph from my bed when he woke up at 6.30am and she fed him and played with him downstairs and let me lay in til 9am. I had breakfast in peace whilst Joseph napped on her instead of me; I had a shower without Joseph trying to gnaw at the toilet seat hinge and I went to the loo without Joseph climbing on my legs. I also dried my hair. With a hairdryer. We all went into town after a chilled out lunch and I even had my nails done whilst Fiona took him around some shops for an hour. We met back up for a coffee and we then bought him some gifts for his upcoming birthday from Waterstones and Sainsburys. We came back to the house and fed him his dinner. We skipped bath time as it was getting late and he went to bed at 8pm. The laundry pile has been tackled, my brother has been to my house to feed the cats, and a couple of blog posts have been worked on. It has been a much needed break. Thank God for grannies. Seriously.

Tomorrow I'm going back home. Ruari gets back on Monday night and then will be working all week. Joseph will probably refuse naps, there'll be mess everywhere and my laundry pile will be back to looking how it did last week, but I guess that's motherhood and I need to get used to it! Oh, and there's now officially less than a month left of my maternity leave, so as tough as it gets sometimes I need to remember to savour it as it'll be over in a flash and no doubt it'll be tough in a new way once I start back at work and the faff that is childcare will begin.

No, Nic, be positive! Everything will be ok!

Please leave your tips for getting things done / time management / laundry management / food management / life management in the comments below! x
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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Mummy Time #33: Jules

Mummy blogger and vlogger Jules got in touch when her gorgeous baby Giggles was ten months old. She talks a little bit about being a military wife, having trouble conceiving and how hard it is to do your blog justice when you're a mum... Which reminds me I still need to write my holiday tips! I hope you enjoy Jules' post!

Mummy:

Who are you?
Hi guys, we are called The Giggles Family. My husband is a soldier in the army therefore I am a military wife. I'm murrently a stay at home mum as my boy is only 10 months old. We call him Baby Giggles as he is crazy easy to make laugh. We live in Suffolk, UK and we have been blogging for about six months and weekly vlogging on YouTube for two months.

What do you do for a living?
I used to work in Social Care though due to my husband being posted we are all moving with him next month so I have to resign from my job ;( When I feel my boy is ready (or we run out of money!) I’ll be job hunting. I’d like to bring him up myself for as long as we can. It was a huge struggle for us to have a family, so I am even more keen not to miss a moment,

How do you find the times to get things done?!
As our blog is fairly new, I need to put a lot of work in to get it out there. That takes a huge amount of time to do properly and I often don’t feel I have the time to do it full justice because my son is my priority. This means I spend a lot of my evenings, often past midnight working on it. Getting up in the mornings is hard but helped by coffee! G started crawling last month which has actually made it easier as he can get to the toys he wants himself. We have tried to make the house baby safe so he doesn’t need chasing so much but as we won’t have this house much longer, it feels a bit pointless doing too much! Looking forward to the new house and hopefully starting out as we mean to go on in terms of how we lay it out.

How are you?
Hmmm, words to describe how I feel… Tired but satisfied; anxious about the move (we have a date but haven’t been allocated a house yet!); content being a mum after such a lot of heartache to get here; my mind is never clear as there is always something to do; and very much in love with my husband (though I’m not going to lie, adjusting to being new parents was hard at times).


What do you do to relax?
Either a long bath once G is in bed (though sometimes I’m naughty and take my phone with me to work on!), playing with G and generally getting out of the house.

How does a typical day go? 
On a working day, my husband give G breakfast so that he gets a bit of 1:1 time with him.
I then take over at 8am. We play for an hour/he tries to steal my breakfast with his puppy dog eyes then he’ll have a bottle.  I try to book an activity of some kind into my diary for the mornings so it may be swimming, baby yoga or just a walk somewhere. We both function much better when we’ve got out of the house each day!
Home for lunch then G will nap so I get on with household chores or maybe film a video.
He wakes around 3 so we play with his toys, look at books (read: try to eat books) and at 4 I start dinner. This usually ends up with G crying because he wants to be held at the same time so sometimes he ends up in the baby carrier.
His dad gets home from work, we all have dinner together and then they have a little bit of play time before we all do G’s bath time. That’s a really special time, just all being together and G loves the bath.
G’s bedtime is around 6.30-7am so his dad reads him a book while I snuggle with him for milk and then we get some time together just us downstairs. Too often though this ends up with us both on laptops working! We are trying really hard to cut this down and have blackout nights.


Baby:

Does G have a feeding routine?
We were advised by the first health visitor to feed G on a 4 hourly schedule, but it didn’t work for him or us. We were all miserable. We went back to on-demand feeding and were much happier.
He had struggles with reflux and colic and eventually was diagnosed with a cows milk intolerance (I hadn’t even known that cows milk was in formula!) so a change in formula again improved things loads.
We started weaning from 5 months old as I just felt he needed it. He loved it right from the get go, starting with sweet potato. Trying to move him onto lumps was trickier as sometimes babies who have had feeding troubles such as reflux are scared of the texture of lumps in the mouths. We just kept gently offering them though and eventually one day he started swallowing them. He now eats anything at 10 months old and loves spicy food and pesto!


Does G  have a nap/ sleep routine?
Yes, I tried really hard to learn his personal cues for when he was tired and go with those for naptimes. That helped us slip into a natural routine. Up until a month ago he was wanting a nap at 9am and then at 1pm. Since he started crawling though he has been hit and miss with his morning nap. There is too much he wants to explore! I let him miss it if he wants but always insist on the afternoon nap as otherwise he has night terrors from being over tired which are awful to see. He has just started copying baby signs and recently asked for milk and bed himself!

How do you keep G entertained?
He has his toys all within reach which entertains him ages. Mainly he stops just for cuddles!
He loves nursery rhymes and actions and he is very active so we try and get out to places he can be physical such as soft plays, gymnastics and swimming. I can’t wait for the summer when it won’t be too wet to crawl on the grass!


When G’s having a freak out, how do you calm him down?
Holding him close and putting on either Anna Pancaldi: Out Ahead or Ellie Goulding: Your Song on YouTube on my phone. He can watch those ten times over and not get bored. Must have a thing for blondes!

Does G seem to suffer with anything?
It feels like he was teething from about 3 months old until last week! The poor guy only got a day or 2 break from it at a time. Gel teething toys that we could put in the freezer, a Sophie Giraffe and Calpol helped a lot along with distraction and swimming. He also gets eczema and a painful tummy if he has anything with cows milk in so we are careful about that. We have just started the Milk Ladder with him with a dietician to hopefully help his body start coping with milk.

At what age did G become more mobile?
He started crawling at 9 months in the bath! It took a few more days before he could be encouraged to do it on dry land but now there is no stopping him. He is fast! It took another week or so before my husband gave in to baby proofing the home. It makes life so much easier. No major incidents yet though I have to watch he doesn’t eat the cats fur as she is very fluffy and sheds a lot!

What are your go-to resources for information about your baby when you're worried?
I google everything! I find Baby Centre generally a really good resource. My sister is a paediatrician so she gets a lot of texts from me with questions!


Holiday:

Have you taken G on any holidays or away from home?
As we are a military family, we live away from a lot of family. The only way G was going to get to meet them all was if we travelled so he got used to it early. We only travel at bedtime so he expects to be asleep in the car. I found a snooze shade really useful for this too.
We have a travel cot so it’s always the same one and take his own duvet, teddy and mobile for familiarity. He has always been close to his muslins so we make sure we take a bunch with us. Other than that we try and keep the routine the same.

Usually the first couple of nights he will wake more in the night. I think this is just a security thing of checking we are still there, but then settles down.

We have a holiday booked for next month to Centerparcs which I think he will love though I’m not looking forward to the first few wakeful nights.

What are your baby holiday essentials?
Travel cot, Snoozeshade, his mobile, muslins and loads of bottles as its not always as easy to wash them up/sterilise them.


Paraphernalia:

Does G have a favourite toy?
A dog soft toy in his cot, soft muslins and anything that makes a noise!

What was your most recent baby or baby-related purchase?
More muslins! I found some cute star ones in John Lewis that match his duvet. I love stars!
We also bought him some clothes as he went up a size (see my haul on YouTube) and some baby instruments as he loves making noise!

What have been the most useful products you've bought or discovered?
The Wonder Weeks App, Baby Lock (which locks the screen for him to watch YouTube), banking apps to sort out money on the go, and Blogger to blog on the run.

What is G’s mode of transport?
We mix between a mummy facing travel system when we need to walk far and a carrier for shorter journeys or when he is a bit more clingy e.g. teething. I started with a sling carrier and a wrap. We now use the Stokke carrier as it fits my husband better but I am about to review another wrap as I think it will fit me better.
I have noticed that when he has had time in a carrier, he is then more independent when put down. It’s like he has had his top up on cuddles to last a while!

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
Bottles, nappies, wipes, foldable bib, spoon, muslin, hat, gloves, spare outfit, money, phone and lipstick! This has made me realise I really should do an updated “What’s in my changing bag” video!

Where are your favourite places to shop for baby clothes?
Supermarkets have amazing clothing for the price, Primark is great for girls but not a lot for little boys I find, Baba +Boo have some bright pieces and Next clothes last a long time.


Advice:

What do you wish you’d known before you had a baby?
That the first 3 months are so hard, both on settling in with your baby and on your relationship adjusting. That it does get better and to not worry about the housework because baby cuddles are much more important!

What's the best advice or most useful tip that anyone's given you about parenting?
If you are struggling to conceive, try not to focus only on that. It’s easy to say now but I feel like I wasted weeks, months, years worrying when I could have been enjoying other things in life.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other mums or expectant mums?
Remember to eat and drink! Coffee is a blessing and you’ll get much more satisfaction at the end of the day from making your baby laugh than having a clean bathroom. Take lots of photos and videos (I wish I had started ours earlier) because it goes crazy quickly.

Thank you for sharing Jules! I'm now off to download the 'baby lock' app so we can watch Bruno Mars without the risk of him being minimised!

You can find Jules and the rest of The Giggles Family here:
Twitter: @thegigglesblog
Youtube: /GigglesFamily
Facebook: /thegigglesfamily
Instagram: @thegigglesfamily 
The Dad Network
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Sunday, 22 March 2015

Pic of the week: #31

Two posts in one night? I know, right? But I can't guarantee this one will be of decent quality as it's almost 11pm and I'm tired. However, I feel I must add a 'pic of the week' now as I'll never get round it to once the kraken awakens (and subsequently stays awake until 8pm with a 20 minute nap in between if I'm lucky). As much as the days can sometimes feel long, and I find myself gasping for a tea and some time to reply to emails/comments and read blogs, at least he's a good night-time sleeper (and has the cutest wee face) so for that I'm grateful. Oh and I'm fully aware that my life won't always be like this with the impending return to work a-looming.

This week has been another tearful one with me crying into my cereal on a number of mornings and not wanting to leave the house, but I kinda feel like I've turned a corner again with the help of seeing two of my friends today who always make me feel a little better; Emma and Sammi, oh and Bruno Mars. I think I'm just going to have to stick Uptown Funk on whenever I feel the tears welling up from now on. I'll let you know how that goes.

So, my week...

Monday; can't remember what I did but probably stayed indoors (worst mum ever). Tuesday; left Joseph with Ruari's mum and went to London to meet Sarah aka Buddy and Bear at a Mothers Meeting (business club edition) and initially didn't feel too crap about myself and lack of entrepreneurial spirit, but then suddenly did. I think I just need to accept I'm not an entrepreneur, or at all business-minded, and that doesn't make me a shit person. Meeting Sarah was great and she was lovely and meeting someone from IG IRL for the first time wasn't as terrifying as I expected. Wednesday; can't remember... oh, Water Babies (that's the only reason I left the house), Thursday; went to my mum's house in the afternoon, Friday; dragged myself out of the house and went to creche-y style play group in the afternoon where Joseph cried after me the whole time and I then roped my mum into helping me with my housework as I was struggling to keep on top of it all as Joseph has been on nap strike this week unless it's on a human. He didn't go to bed until 9.30pm that night!! Yesterday I forced myself out of the house and visited Ruari at work (he's worked every day bar one since we've been back from Goa); he and Joseph had the funniest moment with an apple whilst watching the rugby... I'll try to embed it here but it's also on my Instagram. Lemme know if you want to see the full version! Today; yeah, Emma picked us up and we visited Sammi who apparently lives in a different weather system where it's t-shirt weather - seriously we were sweating from the heat and needed sunglasses. (Where is this mystical place you ask? Surrey.) Joseph did a record number of poos today - pretty sure he's teething and I keep forgetting to put his amber anklet on (worst mum point again there). We drank tea and lemonade, ate pizza and cake, talked babies, holidays and getting stuff done avec bebs. It was a lovely day and I love those two.
So here's hoping for a happier week and my pic of this week is a re-gram from Sammi of Joseph with Casey and Matilda. Yeahh!

Oh, P.S. There are some awards going for bloggers. I don't understand them. But if you do and you'd like to nominate me for one, then that would be in.cred.i.ble. Here are the categories but I guess I'm perhaps a 'fresh voice' as I've been around for less than a year. You can nominate using this form - I think you can just fill out one category if you're just nominating one blog, i.e. mine {insert giggling monkey emoji here}.
BritMums
P.P.S. Linking with The Ordinary Moments / Mummy Mondays /
P.P.P.S. Go on, have a dance:
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Buddy and Bear giveaway winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway with Buddy and Bear! There were two winners from Twitter (@aurora27 and @jmsrowlands2) and one from Instagram (@lifeoflouly).

Being totally honest here; being the first giveaway I've ever hosted and having a bit of a personal connection with the brand, I was initially a little disheartened that the two Twitter winners were serial giveaway enter-ers (those whose timelines are purely tweets they've had to write for entries into competitions) and I came close to disqualifying them and re-drawing to get a name that I recognised and felt genuinely liked my blog and Buddy and Bear, but that felt wrong as I'd checked and they had won fairly and squarely. (Longest sentence and worst grammar ever, sorry.) I didn't re-draw in the end but just felt a bit uneasy about it all, wishing that someone who seemed more deserving had won and wondered whether other bloggers re-draw when that happens.

Anyway, it just so happened that the #pbloggers (parenting bloggers) chat on Twitter this evening was an 'open mic' to ask questions about blogging or parenting. So, I asked how others felt about serial giveaway enter-ers winning their giveaways and, interestingly, I heard a few perspectives; those who don't mind; those who hate it when that happens; those who hate it especially when they hear that winners just sell the stuff they've won, and those who are or were professional competition enter-ers 'pro-compers' but also bloggers themselves.

Overall I feel better about the whole thing; yes, some people have social media accounts set up purely for giveaways but there were reports of these people becoming regular readers and genuine fans of your blog/brand you're promoting, and some give away their winnings to people, friends, neighbours who are in need. I suppose that if a pro comper is also a blogger then they might actually blog about the thing that they won and garner further exposure for the brand, and perhaps even you as the original blogger... I like to think so anyway. Those who sell on their winnings were felt to be in the minority, but one blogger said someone had won the rugby tickets they were giving away and heard they'd sold them for £700!! (How annoying!!) I now feel like they're not just these faceless people who don't actually care about what they're entering into and, afterall, it must take some serious effort to enter into all these competitions and remember to track their entries in the first place.

TLDR? Congratulations to the three winners! I don't mind that the two Twitter winners enter lots of competitions, but I wish that everyone could win. I heart Buddy and Bear.... And here's a pic of mine and Sarah's feet from when we met this week!

I apologise for the offences committed to the English language in this post. My grammar is horrific.
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Thursday, 19 March 2015

Mummy Time #32: Codi Lynn

Codi Lynn is based in British Columbia and her blog (and awesome photography) showcases small independent businesses that she has discovered and fallen in love with through Instagram. I discovered Codi through Amaris (@lovelyblondecloset) who featured on here a little while ago and I have watched in awe of how she studies, works, blogs and raises two wonderful kids... An inspiration! I hope you enjoy learning more about Codi Lynn!


Mummy:

Who are you?
Hi! I am Codi Lynn, wife and mother to two amazing children. My son, Ezra, has just turned six this year and is all day at school in kindergarten and my daughter, Sophie, is one and a half, growing by the second. My husband is super amazing and keeps us all sane, he is super helpful and does most of the ‘dirty duties’ around the house. I am currently very emerged in school right now as I attend a solid year program to become a graphic designer. It was when I was on mat leave with my daughter that I knew I wanted a change of pace in my career. I loved being home with the kids but I have always liked to be busy working on a project. The idea came to my head to have a career in design when my husband and I were engaged, though it wasn’t until Mat leave that I decided to take action on the dream.

(My son became my son at two years old when I married his daddy, best decision of my life, I gained two wonderful handsome men that day. I have always referred to him as my son and am so blessed to have him in my life. Though I did not birth him so I do not have that experience to share and is the sole reason why most of this write up is about my experiences with my daughter.)

What do you do for a living?
I am currently running Creative Wife and Joyful Worker, a blog featuring other young entrepreneurs and their business successes, as well as some peaks into my day to day life with baking, crafts and photography.

How long did you take for maternity leave?
I took the full year of maternity leave and I loved it, I started back to work two days a week at my current job as well as going to school 3 nights and one full day during the week. This all started right after my mat leave ended and it was a change of pace to say the least. It would not be possible without the amazing help of our families helping with childcare and my husband rocking the show at home most nights with the children. He truly does more than I could ever image and am so grateful to have him.

How did you feel when you returned to work and how did it change things?
Returning to work didn’t change the routine so much, I tried to make an effort to see both in laws during the week when I was on mat leave so that the kids could continue to have a strong relationship with them. We are very fortunate to live in the same city as our immediate families and are also very grateful for the relationships we have with them. Both mother in laws are so happy to take care of our children during the day and give me a break when I was on mat leave, that going back to work that change seemed so natural. The biggest change was my son starting kindergarten. I was expecting to have a month to get used to the transition to not seeing him so much but since the schools in BC were on strike the students didn’t go back to school until a month later than expected. This ended up being the exact timing that I went back to work and started school. We managed the change, though it was hard getting used to seeing him so much less often.

How do you manage the work-life balance?
To be honest sometime I wonder if I do manage, haha! I get asked often how I do it all, but the truth is I don’t do it all. I pray often and give try my best to give a lot of my stress to the Lord, asking him guidance in decisions and growing my relationship with him through the business of life has made it all that much more able for balance. It was about a month back that I was feeling rather overwhelmed and in doubt with my ability to take on everything that I had taken on and then at the church service the speaker was talking about giving the pen to God and letting him write our story. I was taking too much control over my own life and not giving enough to him. This past month I have been able to relax and know that if I listen he will guide me.


How do you get things done?
I have to thank my husband for a lot of what gets ‘done’ in our house. I clean the house throughout the day, trying my best, though my daughter is like a tornado. You can clean it one minute but the next minute it is a disaster again. We try not to stress about it too much - and if we are going to take time to clean it will be when the kids are asleep so that it can stay clean for a longer period of time. Though since I am at school most nights a week it is my husband who has taken on much of the cleaning role and I could not thank him enough for all the hard work he does for our family.

What do you do to relax?
Relax. This is something that my sister just text me the other day. Something simple like, “I think you just need to relax.” I was getting worked up and stressed out about my parenting roles and doubting that i was doing a good job and making a positive impact on the lives of my kids. I had heard a story of how my son had spoke to someone in class and it had made me become overwhelmed and stressed. He had not been very kind and I didn’t know what to do... anyways… clearly this is something that I am still working on - and trying to figure it out. Though one thing I have been doing to relax is when my daughter naps I try to make sure that I take some of that time to focus on me, whether it is a bath, shower, paint my nails, straighten my hair, have a nap, read a book, etc… I take that time for myself to give myself the attention that I need. I have been realizing that I haven’t been spending enough time on me and that in itself is stressful.

What do you do when you have time to yourself?
This currently doesn’t really happen. I do homework the second the kids go to bed at night then I go to sleep. (besides nap time as mentioned above, which is also heavily consumed with homework)


Pregnancy:

How was your pregnancy?
Overall I would say was decent. I did not have any complications, though I also would not say that I overly enjoyed it. I don’t really know why, I was hardly ever sick (only 5 days in the first trimester that I vomited) - though I still did not really enjoy it. There were of course days, like hearing the heartbeat for the first time, feeling the first flutters and kicks, etc that were just truly incredible and I am so so happy to have experienced. Those days made me love it. But all the rest if I was asked for an honest answer I would say it was alright.

Did you have any cravings?
At the start of my pregnancy I craved oranges, all the time. I would eat like two or three a day. (I never ate oranges before this) Then later in my pregnancy I craved hazelnut milk chocolate like nothing else, it was strange for me because I was also never a huge chocolate fan before, but now it is pure gold goodness.

How did you decide on Sophie's name?
We did not find out what we were having nor did we have any names picked out; I had made a list but my husband and I never really talked about it too much, I think we both had a similar thought that once we see our baby then we will know. I ended up having to have an emergency c-section (which is a whole other story) and when the doctor placed our baby on my chest I said her name right away. Though it took us until the next morning to say that we had named her, we just wanted to be sure and test it out for a day before announcing it. And it stuck,

How did your prepare for Sophie's arrival?
My husband got me the book ‘What to expect when you are expecting” I enjoyed having this as I felt that it was easy to navigate and easy to read (I am not a big reader) I have heard good and bad reviews about it from my friends but overall I would still recommend it, I would just say that it is important to read a wide range of material so that you do not just get one writers view on childbirth. I did not read very much about c-sections, in fact I skipped over all of those parts. I had this thought in my head that I would not have to have one, so why would I need to know that. I was wrong. After  7 hours of full labour (fully dilated) my baby was not dropping and her heart rate was dropping. I was scared. I had not read about anything about having a c-section, the routine what happens, recovery, effects, nothing. With my husband by my side I knew that I was going to make it through this, though if I could make one recommendation for new mommas it would be to get educated on all aspects of child birth, even if it is not in your birth plan - you do not have much control overall in what your birth plan may become.


Baby:

How did you get on with breastfeeding?
I felt as though I was very blessed with breast feeding, my daughter was a great latcher and ate often. We had a great first couple of months until she never really seemed to be satisfied. I had spoken with a few friends about some concerns I had with feedings etc and I had advice to try pumping and feeding her from a bottle to monitor how much she is drinking to ensure she was getting enough. When we started to do this she started to become much more satisfied and we were able to know that she was getting enough food. That was a huge relief for me to know that she was getting enough milk at every feed.

Does Sophie have a feeding routine?
Right now she eats when she wakes up, we walk her brother to school (this takes about 45 minutes) we get home, I make a snack and she eats again, then it is nap time (1-2 hours) she wakes up and eats again, we go get her brother from school in about two hours then we come home for a snack for all of us, then shortly after that is dinner, bath and bed. :)

What does Sophie eat?
My daughter is a year and a half now and has no problem eating just about anything. I can honestly cut up just about any food and give it to her, writing this now I can't think of a food that she wouldn’t eat. That has been such a blessing that she is a great eater and totally willing to try almost anything.

What was your approach to weaning Sophie onto solids?
The first food that we fed was avocado. I would blend it up with some water and have it pretty liquified. I then moved onto other foods including carrots, beans and peas. She was a great eater. Every week we would try a new food and it was very slim that we came across anything that she didn’t like. I was surprised at how much more time-consuming feeding solids was in the routine and this definitely called for a change of the regular routine but it is so worth it having their belles fully and happy faced with some full meals.


Does Sophie have a nap/sleep routine?
The nap and bed time just kind of happened, I think that it was easier to make a routine because her brother was already on a routine. They both go to bed at the same time, 7pm every night and both wake up anywhere from 6.30am – 7.30am every morning. Sophie has a nap usually around 1030am-11am for anywhere from 1-2 hours in the afternoon and she has been a really great sleeper since she was young. We used to have to wake her up in the middle of the night when she was a baby to feed her, the doctor has recommended it as they thought she was a little bit jaundice and they needed her to be eating every 2-3 hours. After this passed, we could let her sleep and she slept like a champ, besides when teeth were coming in or a stuffy nose we could say we are very blessed with her sleeping habits.

What are Sophie’s favourite things to do?
Sophie love loves loves going for walks, she often grabs her shoes and points out the window, she is always sad to come back in after a visit to the park or walk down the road. She is a little adventurer and loves climbing everything. She loves climbing on the coffee table of sofa and jumping off into our arms.

When Sophie’s freaking out, what helps to calm her?
We usually go for a walk in the stroller; I find fresh air to be the best way to change the mood for anyone. Even me. If the weather isn't great the bath would be the next option, this is one of her favorite places in the house. She is always upset to get out of the bath, and could be playing in there all night.

At what age did your baby become more mobile and how did you cope?
At about ten months Sophie started standing up and walking around furniture, though this wasn’t such a bother as she didn’t manage to be super curious yet and was more focused on the actual fact of walking. It was just before she turned one that she started walking with no assistance and that is also when she started becoming super curious. She is pretty stable now and really good at climbing onto the kitchen table chairs and sitting good, though there was a good couple month span where she wasn’t so stable and had a few good falls while trying to climb up on different objects around the house. 

What are your go-to resources for information about your baby when you're worried?
A lot of the time I will read different blogs or just chime into the wonderful network of ladies/mommas in my community. Two of my sisters are both mommas and have a lot of great advice, they are my go to for immediate assistance, as well as my mother and mother-in-law are also very knowledgable and full of great ideas, calming tips and reassurance.

How do Ezra and Sophie get along?
We were so pleased that our son is so in love with his sister. Of course they have their moments and we are teaching both of them to keep their hands to themselves, but overall these two are two peas in a pod. They love giving each other hugs and always give kisses and snuggles before bedtime. It is such a heart throb to see and such a wonderful thing to experience as parents for us.


Paraphernalia:

Does Sophie have a favourite toy?
Sophie has a toy that we call Mr.Fox - I am not sure how this became her favorite but she carries it around with her the most often. Some other top favourites are her doggie and kitty stuffy that she got at Christmas time from my husband’s uncle. She loves giving them all kisses and then passing them off to one of us to give kisses to as well.


What has been the most useful thing you’ve discovered?
When Sophie was a few months old she was in her little rocking chair a lot, it was amazing and it was the only way I could have my hands free for a while. She even learnt to kick her legs to keep the chair rocking when it would slow down.

What is Sophie’s mode of transport?
We purchased the Bob Stroller and I love it, it has been great as we don’t always like to stay on the path and this stroller is great for jogging and ‘off roading’. Though my sister has a City Select that I have borrowed a few times and felt that this stroller is much more practical for the everyday needs, it compacts smaller and is a little slimmer in width, that you may not think makes a difference but when shopping in stores that aren’t built for strollers, it becomes that much more handy.

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
I always like to bring a pair of moccasin shoes that are super easy to fit in the diaper bag and of course very light weight.

Where are your favourite places to shop for baby clothes?
I like to support the makers within the community that I follow and have engaged with through my blog Creative Wife and Joyful Worker. I am aiming to open up my own small shop some day soon and think it is so important to support your local community.

Advice:

What do you wish you’d known before you had a baby?
I wish I knew about the after baby aspect of life that changes, everyone warns you about how life will never be the same with baby. They are right it isn’t your heart is oh-so full and overflowing with love. But what I didn’t know is just what your body experiences and what it goes through with all the hormone changes. This was not something that I had read up on, been told about, or had much knowledge at all on. I would give advice to other mothers to look into that aspect of change and just be prepared to feel different as a person after baby, and be accepting of the new person you become, rather than hard on yourself for not being the same. :)

What's the best advice or most useful tip that anyone's given you about parenting?
I think just the reassurance that I am making a positive impact on my children’s lives. The encouragement is so meaningful. I never thought that I needed to be encouraged and shown love that way so much, though after becoming a mother my love language changed and I love being reassured that I am doing a good job.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other mums or expectant mums?

Never be afraid to ask for help, you cannot do everything on your own. You can try, and you might become mighty close, but it is not worth it. There are people around you that want to be around you and your baby, let them help you.

Posts of Cody Lynn's you might like:
Small business spotlight: Whistle and Flute
Baby-safe Greek yoghurt painting


Thank you for sharing, Codi Lynn!

P.S. Don't forget there's still a couple days left to enter my giveaway with Buddy and Bear.
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Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The things you do: #3


Here we are, little man, you're going to be eleven months old tomorrow. I can't believe it.
  • You crawl like a pro now; none of this commando crawl business anymore. You're speedy, like, really speedy.
  • I love the sound you make when you crawl; the patter of your hands on the floor and your grunts.
  • You follow me around the house and I have to bring you everywhere with my to make sure you're not getting into mischief; no more quickly nipping to the loo for me- you've seen it all!
  • You like to babble; 'mamama' 'dadada' 'rarara'; you use that last one to get peoples' attention...
  • You loooove peoples' attention; and also the attention of the cats and animals at the zoo. We went to a wildlife park and there were lemurs curled up agajnst the glass and you were banging it to make them turn around. It didn't work.
  • You love spinning the ball on daddy's old Fisher Price activity centre- you crawl up to it, frantically spin it a few times then discard it.
  • You're strong-willed, which I like because that is something I'm not. You know what you loke, what you want, and you'll clamber over me to get to it. You can't really do that when you're older though so that'll need refining!
  • You love your granny and grandma and will happily sleep on both of them. 
  • You whine when people leave the room.
  • You seem to know when someone's leaving rather than playing peekaboo around a corner.
  • You still love peekaboo. You crane your neck to see if I'll come boo-ing.
  • You can be very smiley sometimes but also very frowny!
  • You cruise the furniture now and you can pull yourself up using flat surfaces; i.e. walls and the sliding door.
  • You love opening and closing doors, cupboards and drawers... And we still haven't childproofed.
  • You can climb up stairs and when you get to the too you look so proud of yourself. We're trying to teach you to bum-shuffle back down them.
  • You like music; you now shake to it with your arms in the air.
  • You still drink four bottles of milk a day but you're getting better at eating food too.
  • You sometimes hold food up in the air as if you're examining it, and then drop it over the side of your high chair as if it has disgraced you.
  • You loved paddling on holiday; it was the sweetest thing to watch.
  • You learnt how to make a clicking sound with your tongue - when you're crying I now 'click' at you and sometimes you'd calm down enough to click back to me.
  • You still enjoy being worn but I don't think you've got much longer left in the Solly wrap... I better bribe someone to take photos for a review soon!!
Linking with #TheList (sorry having trouble uploading the badge for some reason!)
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Sunday, 15 March 2015

Pic of the week: #30


This week has been a bit of a rollercoaster of emotion. Ok, maybe not so much of a rollercoaster, more just a trough, with four out of the seven mornings spent crying into my breakfast and Joseph looking at me like 'WTF?!'. I'm blaming hormones, post-holiday blues, and anxiety about returning to work. Let me address the culprits individually.

Hormones; I'm on. TMI, sorry. That's probably all there is to it. I'm pretty sure they're making me eat more biscuits, sweets and chocolates than usual (which is usually a lot anyway and hasn't calmed since Christmas!) I'm sure the junk food only messes with my hormones more and I kind of feel I need to try out clean eating. I think I'm going to have some fruit for breakfast tomorrow morning.

Post holiday blues; I'm grateful that I got to go on holiday in the first place - Lord knows I had my anxieties about taking Joseph beforehand which hindered my ability to get excited about going - but everything was fine, Joseph was fine, and I really wish I was still there. Who wouldn't want to be lounging by a pool, surrounded by family, eating curry every day and ordering room service in the evenings once the baby's in bed?

Returning to work; I've been bottling up a lot of my thoughts surrounding going back to work for fear of jeopardising my employment status, but I really need to vent. Lots of mums I've spoken to about this matter have said that returning to work isn't that bad nor as bad as you think it's going to be, so I'm trying to believe that's true because millions of mums have done it, right? I've been using up some of my KIT days in an attempt to ease me back into corporate life, but I'm not sure they've really helped. I've written about this before, I'm a broken record like that, but I still feel anxious, and that anxiety is making me question my capabilities and motives, and evaluate my life being raised by a single self-employed mother. Every day my thoughts remind me that my time with Joseph is almost up. Of course it's not really 'up'; I'll still see him every day, we'll still spend three days a week together, we can still go to Water Babies, go on mini adventures and visit friends and family; but it just feels like we're coming close to the end of a really special era, and perhaps that is what I'm having more trouble coming to terms with.

Activity-wise I've kept myself fairly busy to combat my low mood - I met up with a couple of friends and visited my dad and his side of the family in Eastbourne on Monday and Tuesday which was long overdue but lovely, bought Joseph a new car seat on Wednesday which was pricey, worked on Thursday to pay off some of the car seat, volunteered for Comic Relief through work with my brother on Friday night which was fun, tried out a baby rave on Saturday which Joseph really enjoyed, and then saw Grandma and Granny today for Mother's Day today. We steered clear of our usual baby groups and swimming as Joseph had a cold and I guess that may have given me a bit more time to be alone with my thoughts. I don't know.

On that bum note (sorry), I'm going to bed. Let's hope my fruity breakfast will be sans tears in the morning. I need to 'live in the now' more because I know I'll regret wasting the next five weeks feeling anxious.


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Happy Mother's Day


Happy Mother's Day to all of the wonderful mums I've met online and know in real life. You're all so inspiring and wonderful. I'm grateful for your support, your company, your being there.

I feel so very lucky to be a mum this year; I distinctly remember having a big belly last Mother's Day and wondering what my first 'real' mother's day would be like. So far it has been just lovely; Ruari got up with Joseph and prepared his milk whilst they let me stay in bed for a while, but I couldn't sleep. When I emerged Joseph sat on my lap and we had a big cuddle (I realise how lucky I am to have a cuddly baby). I was presented with a card with a lovely message that Joseph had thoughtfully dictated to Ruari, a bunch of roses and the jingling of a Lindt bunny - one of my favourite types of bunny!

Ruari has gone to work now so Joseph and I are going to try to make lunch for my mum before heading to Ruari's mum's house when he finishes at 4pm.

I wanted to try and tap into some deeper thoughts this morning but Joseph says he's done with nap time and wants to play!

Happy Mother's Day again; I hope you have a special day.
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Saturday, 14 March 2015

07.03.15 - Broadstairs

Last Saturday, Ruari and I took Joseph to a seaside town in Kent called Broadstairs. Having originally come from a stony-beached town (Eastbourne) I always consider it a novelty to go to a sandy beach in England; and I was determined to make the most of the sunny day and let Joseph feel sand between his toes seeing as he didn't get to experience that in Goa due to the heat. 

We headed straight to the seafront when we arrived and found a patch of sand to sit upon. It took a little while for Joseph to take in his surroundings and it was cute to see him clutching and letting go of  handfuls of sand.... And then attempting to eat it from time to time. 


We were originally going to find somewhere to sit down for lunch but we decided to have fish and chips on the beach; well. just chips for me. Whilst Ruari went to get the food, I took Joseph's shoes and socks off and buried his feet in the sand a few times before he decided he was ready to explore.


The food arrived and Joseph wasn't content with his packed lunch and wanted some of Ruari's cod! I loved how they shared.



After lunch we took it in turns to take photos by the beach huts and the water - Joseph loved being thrown in the air by Ruari. I like how he snuggled into my lap as we sat by the water... he crawled off shortly afterwards.





Ruari and I then had ice cream as we walked along the seafront. Joseph was given a cone to nibble on, which he enjoyed, and I fed him his yoghurt in a park to make it kinda as though he'd had an ice cream. 



We stopped by at a little shop and I bought Joseph a big knobbly rubber ball, a bit like the ones they have at some baby groups... Or is that just my local one?!


(Ruari wanted to strangle me after I made him take this photo of me as it's on the side of the highstreet where cars kept driving past between us (he was on the other side of the road to take the shot!))



After reaching this point we turned around and headed back to the car. It was a glorious couple of hours spent pretending we were still on holiday and trying to ignore the fact we weren't in swimming costumes and 30 degree heat. I really do love a sandy beach. 

Thank you for reading x

P.S. Apologies for the horribly unedited photos; I transferred all of my pictures to my laptop before fiddling with them as I was out of space... Not that my fiddling does any good as I have no idea what I'm doing! 


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Thursday, 12 March 2015

Mummy Time #31: Jem Armistead

I'm putting it out there; I have a style crush on a two year old. Not only am I jel of Livvy's wardrobe and extensive bow collection, I also love her eyebrows... and don't get me started on those lashes! In fact I swear she's a tiny Cara Delevingne (but much more beautiful, I think you'll agree!) Livvy's mum, Jem, shares some gems (sorry, had to) in this week's Mummy Time and if you have a mo, why not pop to their YouTube channel to hear what they sound like IRL (I could listen to Jem's accent all day!) And you might even catch Livvy singing 'Let It Go'! I hope you enjoy this week's post!


Mummy:

Who are you?
I’m Jem! I’m 26 years old, originally from Blackpool but now living in a small town called Seaham in the North East with my partner, Matt. Our little girl is called Olivia Amelie, although we call her Livvy 99.9% of the time, she is 2 years and 3 months old. I’m a stay at home Mammy but we don’t stay at home very much as we like to be out and about making the most of each day.

How are you?
Exhausted but loving every second of the so called “terrible twos”. I love being a mother and it is so rewarding but, my word, it is hard work!

How do to relax?
I usually just like to curl up on the sofa with a cup of coffee and watch re-runs of Friends. Simple but effective.

How does a typical day go?  
A typical day in our house, well, we have a bit of a set routine for the week. I know most people don’t take to having routines but we find it works for us and Livvy thrives on it. Usually we get up at around 8am, have breakfast then get ready for our morning activity. Monday is playgroup, Tuesday is free play at home, Wednesday we go to a class called Lively Learners, Thursday we go to dancing and Friday we alternate between a story group at the library and an art class. When we get home Livvy usually goes for a nap and I finally have chance to sit down for a little bit, have some lunch and catch up on some TV, I swear my Sky planner hates me for how full it is! In the afternoon we usually stay in and do some arts or baking or just general play time. If the weather is nice to us we will go to the park or sometimes we venture to soft play with some of our friends. As you can see I like to keep us busy as I find it makes bed time run a little smoother. Bed time is pretty straight forward. She goes up between 7.30-8pm, has a bath, clean pajamas, story time with Daddy then that’s her down for the night. It took us a long time to establish this routine at night and it’s only been in place for a couple of months. Before she used to fall asleep on me on the sofa then we would take her up but she wasn’t getting enough quality sleep this way.


Pregnancy:

How was your pregnancy?
Pregnancy, I’m not going to lie, was horrible for me. I enjoyed about 5% of it all. I had severe morning sickness for the first 6 months, then it came back again when I was 8 months. I get bad migraines at least three times a month and during pregnancy I couldn’t take my usual medication so I had to suffer for three/four days at a time with them. Then as I went on Livvy had stopped growing and we were in for many tests and scans during the last few weeks. I spent most of my pregnancy scared senseless that I wasn’t going to be taking my baby home. I hope next time round goes a little smoother!

Did you find out what you were having?
I am such an impatient person so as soon as the sonographer asked if we wanted to know I shouted yes please!


How did you decide on names?
We discussed names from pretty much the day we found out. For a boy it was always going to be Oliver, that was set in stone but for a girl we went back and forth so many times. At one point she was Maisie, then she was Ruby, then she was Poppy. In the end I was in hospital during one of my bad sick phases and Matt suggested Olivia, I will admit I kind of just said yes because I didn’t want to go through any more names haha but it really grew on me and it was the one that stuck.

How did your prepare for your Livvy’s arrival?
I read a few books and did a lot of research online. We got asked to attend antenatal classes at 35 weeks so we only ended up going to two and to be honest they weren’t very useful as they just repeated what I had read online.

How was your labour?
I was induced at 38 weeks because her placenta was failing and she had stopped growing. I had the pessary which didn’t work properly, I was contracting for 36 hours then finally had my waters broken at 9pm. By 10.15pm she was in my arms. I only used gas and air as I didn’t have time to be given anything stronger. The relief I felt afterwards was amazing. They estimated she was only going to weigh around 3.5 lbs but she actually weighed 5lb 9oz and needed no help at all.

Baby:

How did you get on with breastfeeding?
Unfortunately I couldn’t breastfeed and it took me a long time to stop feeling guilty about that so I’d like to say that if you too find yourself in that position don’t feel bad! Formula these days is amazing and you don’t need to worry that you’ve done the wrong thing by choosing it over breastfeeding. We are all trying to do the best we can for our little ones and that’s all that matters.

What was your approach to weaning Livvy onto solids?
We were advised to wean early as Livvy had severe reflux and she wasn’t keeping any of her milk down despite using medication and prescription milk. I really wanted to hold out until 6 months to do baby led weaning but instead we were thrown into it at 4 months. We started with just a little bit of baby rice then moved onto pureed fruit and veg. It was really important to me that she was independent with eating too so as she approached 5 months I would, with close supervision, give her carrot sticks, breadsticks etc to chew on alongside the pureed food. After 6 months we would give a lot of finger foods and we let her explore mushed food with a spoon. Her favourite at 7 months was cheese spread sandwiches!


At what age did youobiler baby become more m and how did you cope?
At what age did Livvy become more mobile?
Livvy started crawling at around 7 months old but to be honest she was really good when it came to exploring the house. She was never interested in wires or plug sockets. The only thing she was obsessed by was standing up at the TV stand. Luckily ours is rounded edges and she never had any slips near it. We had to get a safety gate for the kitchen door as that was the place she always wanted to be. She started being able to stand without holding onto things just before her first birthday but then she was poorly for a few weeks and it really knocked her confidence so we didn’t get those precious first steps until she was 14 months old. Once she started walking she was super confident so again there weren’t many tumbles. I remember the only time she did and it was horrible. She was stood at the back door and she missed the step and fell flat on her face. It was awful and I felt bad for days but these things happen. It’s impossible to keep them wrapped up and safe 24 hours a day even though that’s all you want to do. Now at two years old she’s running, jumping and dancing all the time. There is no stopping her. Enjoy the days when your baby will happily lay on their play mat and not move because once they start moving they don’t stop and its nigh on impossible to get things done!


What are your go-to resources for information?
I'm part of a Facebook group that is for Mam’s that were due the same month as me and that is my first port of call for advice. A lot of the ladies on there have older children so have experienced almost everything you can think of. If you can try and join one as I have made so many wonderful friends on there and they have been my rock through a lot of things. Failing that I take to good old Google or my Mammy friends on Instagram.

Paraphernalia:

Does Livvy have a favourite toy?
At the moment it’s her play kitchen. She got it for her second birthday and it’s been a massive hit. She loves making us dinner and cups of coffee. She has a little mixer too and tells us she is making us a cake almost every day. It’s brilliant for her imagination and I love encouraging role play as I find its brilliant for development.


What is Livvy’s mode of transport?
I’m a bit of a pramoholic I have to admit and Matt hates it! We had the Babystyle Oyster when Livvy was first born and it was the best. The carrycot was huge on it and she managed to fit in it even a couple of months ago, obviously she wasn’t actually using it, we just had it out to put away in the loft. It was so easy to manoeuvre as well, even one handed. I liked that it was a small chassis as I only use public transport and getting on and off a bus with a huge pram would have been a nightmare. We’ve had three different strollers too. We had the Mama’s & Papa’s tour stroller, this was bought last minute to go to the in laws and I later sold it for no other reason than it was plain black and I thought it was boring. Then we had the Lollipop Lane Marisota in pink butterfly pattern, again this was just used for going to my Mam’s in Blackpool, it was a lovely stroller but as with most they don’t last very long so now we have the Joie Brisk in the star pattern. It’s a brilliant little stroller, really light but a lot sturdier than usual strollers. For everyday use though we have the Mama’s & Papa’s Sync pram. It’s a lovely sturdy pram and Livvy always seems comfortable in it. We still use a pram every day because she is so little she gets tired when walking for too long.

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
A bag stuffed with snacks, not that she eats any of them at the moment. A pull up nappy, baby wipes and a bottle of water. Livvy usually picks one or two of her dolls to take out too. I usually take a change of clothes too because toddlers are messy at times.

Where are your favourite places to shop for baby clothes?
Next, H&M but I love a lot of the clothes some of the Mam’s on Instagram sell. Two of my faves have to be Bows & Bespoke and Lola’s Wardrobe. They have some gorgeous things. Livvy doesn’t really have a set “style” she can be in leggings, a t-shirt and converse one day then the next be in something super girly and floral.


Advice: 

What do you wish you'd known before you had a baby?
Just how much of a rollercoaster you go on. You have all these amazing highs, milestones that make you cry happy tears, days filled with laughter and moments where you just feel amazed at this little human that you have created. However you also have the horrible lows, the moments when they won’t stop crying and you’ve tried every trick in the book. The moments when they are in the middle of the supermarket having the biggest tantrum and the saying “just breathe” isn’t keeping you calm. The times when you feel so alone and scared at the idea of having to raise this little person and teach them how to be the best they can be. It’s such an overwhelming experience being a parent but it’s the best thing that could ever happen to you.


What's the best advice anyone's given you about parenting?
Go with your instincts. You know what is best for your child!

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other mums or expectant mums?
Cherish every moment.


Thank you for getting in touch and sharing, Jem!
Instagram: @thejemandlivvyshow
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