Thursday 27 June 2013

One Year Ago

One year ago, I got to experience the utter excitement that is finding out you are pregnant.

I still remember the first time I saw those two blue lines - it is not a day I think I will ever forget.  December 13th, the wind was blowing, the rain was falling and I had a long day of work ahead.  There was a voice in the back of my head reminding me that I hadn't had a period yet, despite me taking the 7 day break in my contraceptive pills, but I was blaming it on too many late nights, not enough rest and a  confused body.

Still the niggle wouldn't go away and I realised the only way to put my mind at ease was to pee on a stick.  I quickly bought a Boots cheapie on my way to work and took it into the changing rooms without even considering the result.  After two minutes, I had changed into my uniform and remembered to check the results.

Two blue lines.

I had never seen two blue lines before and I grabbed the packet to make sure it meant what I suspected. 
It did.

Still in disbelief, I left the staff room to start my shift, walking round in a daze of daydreams, wondering how often the tests were wrong. 3 hours later and it was time for a break.  I rang my best friend and asked her what it meant.  She told me straight up, you can have a false negative, but not a false positive. I still wasn't convinced and blamed the value test, so a trip back to Boots for a Clear Blue and a trip to the public toilets later, I was the proud owner of 3 positive pregnancy test.  My heart seemed to stop and any thoughts that 
were in my head where replaced by the image of those two blue lines.

I was pregnant.

I returned to work and told them I had been violently sick and needed to go home, only I couldn't go home.  I had moved back in with my parents for a while and that was the last place I wanted to be.  I wandered and tried to think, but I couldn't get the image out the way. I finally got the courage to text the bloke and ask him to meet me straight from work in a local pub.

I sat in the pub waiting.  I ordered a coffee and then panicked that I shouldn't be drinking caffeine so sat there just watching it.  Eventually the bloke, the man I had been with for only 4 months walked through the door with a big bouquet of flowers in his hands.  He knew something was up and came and gave me the biggest hug.

I had spent two hours wondering how to tell him but in the end I just whispered in his ear 'I'm pregnant'.  I can't tell you what expression was on his face as he didn't move.  He didn't let go, he just held me.  He told me it was ok and that he would hold me until I told him to let go.  He couldn't have reacted better and we stayed that way a long time.

I think we both knew straight away what we would do.  We were not children any more and we had created a living thing, a foetus, a baby.  We both asked the question and we both answered.  This was the beginning of something and we were about to embark on an adventure.

When Dylan was 8 months old, we decided that we wanted another little baby.  Despite him being so completely and utterly unplanned, we were enjoying parenthood, had fallen deeper in love as a couple and wanted  a playmate for our beautiful boy.  My body was still not back in a rhythm due to breastfeeding but we decided to see what happened.

Two days after returning from Britmums Live, (6 weeks later) I felt completely and utterly exhausted.  I thought I was still recovering from a busy and exciting weekend but when  my mum came round to visit, I ended up going for a nap whilst she looked after Dylan.  As she was leaving, she asked if there was anything I wanted to tell her, and feeling a little baffled, I answered 'no'.

She got me thinking though, and feeling restless that evening, I decided to do a test just in case.  I didn't tell the bloke, I just disappeared for a shower, clear blue in hand. 

It took less than 5 seconds for the two blue lines to show up.
I looked down and smiled -  the biggest smile.
My whole body felt excited and I ran out of the bathroom, stick in hand to tell the bloke our amazing news.  A new life, A new baby, A new brother for our beautiful boy.

One year ago I felt the elation of finding out I was pregnant.

Both babies are equally loved and equally wanted.  If I could go back in time then I wouldn't change a thing, but finding out you are pregnant can be the scariest and the most amazing thing in the world.

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Tuesday 25 June 2013

Breastfeeding Support

When I was pregnant with Dylan, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed. I can't tell you why or what contributed to the decision but my goal was always 6 weeks of exclusive breastfeeding.  I was incredibly lucky that it seemed to come naturally to both of us and six weeks into our journey I could see no reason on earth why I would want to stop.

It was at this six week mark where the novelty of a new baby was starting to wear off for family and friends and I was ready to get into our own little routine and meet some other mamas.  I nervously turned up to the local children's centre for the Breastfeeding support group one Tuesday morning in the hope of finding some new friendships and I am so glad I did..  (Looking back, it seems silly to have waited the six weeks - getting support right from the beginning is so important and I didn't wait so long with baby number two).

I met mothers of all ages and backgrounds, feeding newborns, feeding babies and feeding toddlers.  They were friendly, accepting and encouraging and are the friends I still drink coffee with every week, nearly two years later.  At the group I learnt it was OK to breastfeed for 6 days, 6 weeks, 6 months or even 6 years if it is the right thing for you and your family, and that having the right information and support makes the world of difference.

I had support in the early days, through the growth spurts, through weaning and even when I decided that my breastfeeding journey was over.  The women I met stopped me questioning myself and helped me realise what a wonderful thing I was doing for my baby.  I believe that every mother should have the right to feed her baby however she would like to, and if that is with breast milk then she should have the support to make sure she can.

Since having my second son I have continued to attend the same group and have seen mothers come and go, some dropping in just for advice and some making life long friends like I have.  I am not a peer supporter but I can tell my story and my children are there as great examples of how happy, healthy (and chunky) breastfed babies can be.

The support I got helped me breastfeed far longer than the 6 weeks I had originally envisaged and Dylan was nearly 9 months when I decided that it was the right time for us to stop.  Archie is now 4 months old and we are still going strong.  I have the support and the knowledge now to continue for as long as it is right for both of us and I don't see an end any time soon.

I am firmly pro-choice when it comes to parenting, but the benefits of breastfeeding are undeniable for both mother and baby.  This week is Britain's National Breastfeeding Week and hopefully it will be providing the support for mums who need it.  There are lots of bloggers writing about their breastfeeding journeys and I recommend you check out the lovely Faded Seaside Mama , Circus Queen, Pobbing Along, The Brick Castle and Mum2BabyInsomniac.  I have another post coming up later this week where you can win a fantastic nursing bra set from Mumba on top of this fantastic giveaway of thousands of pounds worth of breastfeeding goodies.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Thursday 20 June 2013

3 years ago

3 years ago, I was young, single and carefree.

3 years ago I was packing for a rock festival, preparing myself to see the awesome ACDC, Aerosmith, Rage against the Machine, Megadeath and more.

3 years ago I had no idea where the future would take me, what I wanted to do with myself and who I would become,

3 years ago I thought I had the whole world at my fingertips.

Some relationships take years to develop.  Some couples know each other for decades before realising what they have found.  Some only take weeks.

Sometimes life throws you in one direction even when you were steering a different course.  

3 years ago a girl met a boy.  They camped, they watched music, they danced, they sang along, they drunk rather too much.  3 years ago I had no idea.

3 years later and I have found a man I truly love.  One who looks after me, provides for me and loves me.  A best friend.

3 years later, and we have two beautiful boys of our own. Two blue eyed babies who filled a space in our hearts that we didn't even know existed.

3 years later and we are a family.

We may not have taken the traditional route, we may not have had a plan but would we change anything?  Hell no!

It is strange to look back at the boy and girl we once were as it was not that long ago, yet everything has changed. 3 years ago I was taking the first steps that would lead me to where I am now and I would take them over and over and over again.

3 exciting, eventful, exhilerating, emotional and extraordinary years.

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Wednesday 19 June 2013

Time for a BBQ!

Finally the weather seems to have improved and we have been busy having BBQs in the garden - pretend ones that is.  Dylan's imagination is growing by the day and he is loving role play and pretend at the moment. The Toadstool sent him a Haba BBQ set to play with and he has been enjoying cooking for his brother and I and attempting to feed chicken drumsticks to poor Archie.

The set comes as a selection of barbecue foods, all made with felt and soft materials and incredibly high quality.  I love the fact that they are not plastic like most children's toys and the colours are vibrant and fun.  It also comes with a BBQ grill and I was very disappointed with this as it was made of thin cardboard and not sturdy enough to withstand a toddler.  We have made sure that the set goes back in the box after every play but the grill is already looking crushed and battered and certainly won't last until the end of the summer.

toddler toys, imaginative play, haba, bbq toy

I am going to attempt to make my own grill out of some stronger materials as the toy food is fantastic and Dylan loved practising picking things up with the tongs (included). I think this toy is perfect from when they start with imaginative play and will last a long time as the food is great quality.   

haba bbq set, children's toy review

All the food items are machine washable which is brilliant for my house as it won't be long before Archie is crawling around and chewing on everything he can find.  The fact that the food is made of soft materials is also great for having a baby around as should anything accidentally get thrown, it isn't going to cause any harm.

imaginative play, pretend play, role play review kids

It is sold at £26 which seems a little expensive when you would have to replace part of the toy but if you have a toy kitchen or grill already then this would be a great addition.  Dylan loves playing with it and it is great watching him explore, learn and develop his imagination.

Amendment : This toy has now been discounted as the quality of the grill is in question.  You can also buy the food separately at a considerably cheaper rate which is a real bargain.

Disclaimer:  We were sent this toy free of charge for the purpose of this review but all thoughts and opinions are completely my own.
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Monday 17 June 2013

Legoland Day Out

I was over the moon to find out that I was a finalist in the 'best pregnancy blog' category for the 2013 MAD blog awards earlier this year, and when they announced a trip to Legoland for all the shortlisted bloggers and their families, the little kid inside me was jumping around in delight.  

The day finally arrived and well rested after staying in a hotel the night before, we made it to the Legoland hotel for 8am.  We had an exclusive screeing of the new Chima 4d movie before the park even opened and then we were let loose with the most amazing wrist bands ever.  Not only could we use the Q-bot entrances all day, if the ride didn't have one, we simply show up at the exit, flash our gold bands and got straight on the rides! This was priceless with a toddler who has no concept of patience.

Taken by the lovely K from My Two Mums

We went on rides, got soaked to the skin, enjoyed delicious pizza and made the most of synchronised napping by getting on the big rides.  We spent the day with
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Saturday 15 June 2013

Lilliputien Toys Review

Archie is nearly 4 months old and getting more and more interactive by the day, both with the people around him and with his toys.  He has the motor skills to bat and pull and the co-ordination to reach what he wants.  The Toadstool sent us some toys from their gorgeous Lilliputiens range to try out and Archie is really enjoying playing with them.

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Thursday 13 June 2013

Homemade Father's Day Bunting

With less than a week to go until Father's Day, I decided we would get creative again and make a homemade gift for daddy.  Last year he loved his homemade Daddy photo frame and this year I decided that Dylan and I would make some bunting to go above his computer.

I am not going to pretend to be an artisitc genious but I do love to make things and this had to be suitable for a 22 month old.

daddy bunting, fathers day craft, homemade toddler

I cut out the letters that spelt Daddy from an old cardboard box and prepared some paint with sponges (I couldn't find any of our art ones so cut up an unused kitchen scourer) and some bits and bobs that I had picked up from the pound shop.  I had sequins, cardboard shapes, torn up tissue paper, mini pompoms and some little stars.

toddler craft, toddler make,father's day, craft supplies toddler
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Wednesday 12 June 2013

Base Kid's Fashion

Summer is meant to be on the way, and despite the grey clouds I have been busy planning the boy's summer wardrobes.

For Dylan it will be all about bright T-shirts and knee length shorts and Archie will be in rompers or dungarees.  Base asked me to take a look at their kid's range and I thought I would share my favourite pieces.

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The Busy Life of a Mum

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client.

Being a mum to two under two is certainly not the easiest job I have ever had.  The hours are long, the sleep is scarce and forget throwing a sickie! Luckily it is by far the most rewarding and seeing their faces when Santa has visited is a great Christmas bonus.

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Monday 10 June 2013

Wonderful Words

There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to explain what is wrong.  A lack of communication can cause no end of problems and life as a toddler is tougher than we give them credit for. So maybe they do get to ride around in comfy chariots, snack throughout the day and nap every afternoon.  Maybe they  do have a pair of adults running around after them making sure they have everything they need - it doesn't always mean they can let us know what they need.

Dylan's vocabulary is growing daily and he is always amazing me by using a word I had no idea he could say.     He is desperate to learn more about the world around him and is a little sponge, taking everything in.  With his new words, comes a better communication and I am learning more about him all the time

He becomes cheekier every day and he can let me know that something is broken, that he wants help, that he needs reassurance, that he is hurt and that he is tired. I still need to read his cues, but he helps me by vocalising his thoughts.  When we play, there is conversation.  Gone are the days of my voice filling the silence, Dylan chats away and sings along warming the room with his beautiful voice.

We still have a long way to go and with the increase in vocabulary we are also seeing an increase in frustration and tantrums as he still doesn't have the words to vocalise everything he wants to say.  Sometimes his pronunciation is not quite right and it takes me several guesses to correctly work out quite what he is on about.

Some of his mis-spronunciations make me giggle on a daily basis.  He often asks for a cheese and ham 'wosinge' rather than a sandwich and he loves to dance around to his 'shit-kick' as opposed to music.  As his speech improves some of those cute baby words are turning into real understandable ones though and I miss the cute variations that we once heard.

Every day he is learning, repeating and understanding more than ever before and his language is turning him from a baby into a little boy.  He has become more assertive, more determined and more interested in everything and he revels in learning about the world.  His words help me see it through fresh eyes as he wonders at a leaf falling from a tree or the animals he can see in the clouds.

With language comes power and Dylan is certainly learning his.

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Saturday 8 June 2013

Mama Mio Skincare

I hate to say it, but my body is just not the same as it was pre-baby.  There are lumps and bumps in places that were once smooth and my tummy has a silver map of something resembling the london underground etched into it thanks to stretch marks.  As much as I tried to look after my body during pregnancy and afterwards, motherhood has taken it's toll.

I was invited along to learn about Mama Mio's pregnancy skincare range and their new 'Fit Skin Test' and I was interested to see whether their products could make any difference at all to me. 

The fit skin test is
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Thursday 6 June 2013

Being Me

Since becoming a parent, I have become so caught up in . . . well . . . being a parent, that I look back on the photos of pre-baby me and barely recognise myself.  I spend my days with two beautiful boys, and spend my evenings writing about them,  to then go to sleep with the littlest right by my side.

Now I am not complaning about this - I wouldn't swap my life for anything right now, but I am wondering whether it is time to start focusing a little more on me as well. 

I looked a lot less tired pre-baby

I used to love reading books and my journey to and from Cybher this weekend saw me finally finishing a book I started reading long before Archie was even born.  Putting the laptop down half an hour earlier a few nights a week to read a little shouldn't be hard and I am looking forward to working my way through the growing pile of literature on my bookcase.

I used to run.  Not that far or that fast, but I loved the freedom, the space, the fresh air and the energy it gave me.  Running was my time to reflect and I do all my best thinking on foot.  I got out of the habit through pregnancy and have been too lazy to get back into it, but this mummy tummy is not going to shift itself and with the seafront only a couple of minutes jog away, I have the perfect reason to start up again.

A few days before Dylan was born.

I used to be creative, but now my projects are all half finished (or not even started).  I want to make an effort to finish one thing every month, even if it is only little and get back to my sewing machine again as it is long neglected.

Before having children, the bloke and I used to eat out regularly, watch lots of films and spend whole nights just chatting.  Now we are more often than not found on our seperate computers, blogging or playing zombie games. I want to introduce a date night every now and again where we make sure we find a babysitter and go and enjoy each other's company.  One day the children will leave home and I still want a best friend to share my life with.

Pre- babies

I am not sure how easy it will be to break the habits, and my little nest in our sofa is rather comfortable but I really feel it is time to get a better balance of mummy and me. 

Do you still enjoy the same things you did pre-baby?

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Tuesday 4 June 2013

Hands Full

Everywhere I go I am met with questions about my beautiful boys.  People want to have a look in the pram at a sleeping Archie or a chat to Dylan wherever we are, from the post office, to playgroups to the park. They ask the boy's names, how old they are, how they sleep and eventually get round to reciting two phrases - 'isn't he big for xxx months' and 'don't you have your hands full!'

It is true that I have two children under two.  I either have a double pushchair with me, or one in a pushchair/on a trike and one in a sling.  Having two is definitely harder than having one child, although I realise this more now when I only have one to look after.  Having two is certainly not twice as hard as having one child though, and although I may seem to have my hand's full, I wouldn't change a thing.

Here go, Bubba

My days are busier and leaving the house takes that little bit longer.  My days are also fuller and it is a rare occasion when the boys decide to nap at the same time.  My days are however, full of more fun and excitement than ever.  They are full of pride watching my gorgeous boys and any hard moments are completely worth it when I see the two little people that I created becoming friends.

When I was pregnant I couldn't decide whether an 18 month age gap was crazy or clever.  On the one hand I have two in nappies, two in a pushchair, two that are still dependant so much on me and two that need constant attention.  On the other hand, Dylan has soon forgotten life without his brother in it and hasn't shown even a hint of jealousy.  He has been given a playmate, a partner in crime.  Someone to teach, to learn from, to fight with and to love.  Archie has had a sidekick from the very beginning and the energy and effort I put into entertaining and stimulating Dylan as a baby is now a task shared as Dylan shows Archie toys, talks and sings to him and provides a constant show for his entertainment.

Dylan is happier to have his nappy changed or sit in a pushchair with his brother besides him and some of our daily battles were eliminated by the newest member of the family's arrival.  He is learning to share and already I can see how much he will love Archie being able to interact more.  They already have their own little games and Archie cannot wait to be on the move and joining in with his big brother too.

I may struggle sometimes with a child that wants to sit down and feed and another that wants to be pushed in the swings, but the furthur into our new adventure I go, the easier it gets to balance their needs.  My hands are full right now, one hand to carry Archie and another to hold Dylan's hand.  They have half of me each but they also have half of each other and we happy this way..  

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Monday 3 June 2013

Prezzo Spring Menu

Prezzo have a lovely new spring menu and we were invited to taste it for ourselves last month.  The new menu comprises of some small main courses that are perfect for sharing.  I went along with the bloke, my mum and dad and the two littles and we loved trying all the new dishes.

There were 8 new tasty additions and we ordered a large selection of dishes including 6 of the mini mains.  Prezzo recommends 2-3 per person and this seems like a good guide.  

prezzo spring menu, antipasto, prezzo review

The firm favourite was the Carbonara Risotto - I could quite happily have eaten a huge bowl of it and it is really worth visiting just to try it out.  The Macaroni Florentine was gorgeously cheesy and also went down a treat.

carbonara risotto, prezzo spring menu
Do not miss out this one!

I am not a fan of mushrooms, but my parents loved the Arancini (crispy risotto and mushroom balls) and the Mushroom Crostini and the prawn brushetta was refreshing and rather spicy with the chilli garlic butter.

prezzo spring menu, tasting menu, small main meals
All for one!

We also ordered the new executive Pizzas -steak and rocket and queen margherita.  They were both so much bigger than we imagined and were perfect for sharing although I could quite happily have eaten the queen margherita as a meal.  It was split into three sections so was far from boring, and the bechamel sauce and buffalo mozzarella third was divine.

queen margherita, prezzo pizza, large pizza

Dylan picked his way through most of the dishes and seemed to enjoy each and every one.  The best thing about the tapas style meal is that you can try a bit of everything and there is always something that the littles will want to try as well.

toddler eating, prezzo

Our meal ended as all good dinners should - with delicious deserts.  If you have not already tried Eton Mess Cheesecake then it is about time you went to your local Prezzo!

 eton mess cheesecake, prezzo desert, english cheesecake company

I would highly recommend the new Prezzo spring menu.  We had fantastic service and the food was incredible.   Every member of the family enjoyed it and we are all looking forward to visiting again (and ordering several portions of the carbonara risotto!)

Disclaimer: Our meal was complimentary for the purpose of this review but all thoughts and opinions are completely my own (and my family's) as are all photos.
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Sunday 2 June 2013

Making Over Our Living Room

We moved into our home in November and although it is looking incredibly full of 'stuff',  we have not got round to adding some of the personal touches we intended, and with two small children around getting the motivation to do these things doesn't always come easily.  Money supermarket have set a bloggers challenge to makeover a room or part of a room with £50 and it seemed like the perfect excuse to make those changes.

Here is the space I wanted to work with:

I love photography and whilst it may not be a skill of mine, we do have a lot of beautiful photos that I want to show off. I decided that the money would be used to create a photo wall behind our living room sofa.  I love the elegant white or wooden frames that many houses have, but our lives are all about colour so I chose some beautifully bright frames from ikea to add some personality to the room.  They were very reasonably priced and the smaller sized came in packs of two for £2.50.  I have also bought some cheap wooden frames from the poundshop which I want to paint with some leftovers we have around.

I found a brightly coloured photo-clock on Ebay which forms the centre of the wall (and is somehow the only clock we have in the entire house!) My final piece was a gorgeous glass bottle to go in the window which I picked up for 25p from a local bootfair and filled with some water beads that we have been using for messy play with Dylan.   

And voila! Our living room looks brighter and our gorgeous photos are finally on display!
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