Wednesday 31 July 2013

Every Single Day

There is nothing quite like a hospital stay to make you realise how special every single day is.  As stressful as it was spending a few weeks on the ward, we knew what was wrong and were busy fixing it.  Other children came in with serious problems, lifelong problems and unknown problems.  We never know what is right around the corner.  Every single day together is a blessing and I am determined to make the most of this summer as we were unsure whether we would see any of it at all.

Every single day is an opportunity to play, to learn and to spend time together.  We are lucky enough to live within walking distance of shops, parks and beaches and this summer we will be there.  When Archie and I had a few hours off from the hospital, we went for walks along the beach, saw friends and went swimming and kayaking in the sea ( It may have been more of a paddle for Archie).

Now we are home, we will not let Dylan's bad leg stop us from getting out and having fun.  It may be a little while before he walks but there is so much you can do sitting and I am determined to do something different and something new every single day, even if it is only something little.

Today, I bought a huge milkshake with all the trimmings and Dylan and I tucked in together, two straws, two scoops.  Somehow we had never yet done this and we giggled as we licked the whipped cream and slurped up the dreggs.  Tomorrow, who knows!  Every single day is a blessing though and after weeks cooped up in a cubicle, I can't wait for our adventures.

Every single day is precious so here is to the start of a fun filled summer!
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Tuesday 30 July 2013

Fisher Price Piano Gym

A little while ago we were sent a lovely new playmat for Archie and he has been loving it.  The Fisher Price kick' n' play piano gym has actually kept both children rather amused.

fisher price activity gym, kick and play baby gym,

It works when baby is lying on his front or back as the toy bar can be attached along the floor, giving Archie a little mirror to admire himself in as well as toys within easy reach..  He is happiest on his tummy so this mat is perfect for him as many are designed only for lying on your back.  

The mat comes with four different toys which you can alternate so they never get bored and the mirror which hangs centrally.  Archie is a big fan of the frog and cooes away at him whilst trying to get the rings into his mouth.  

fisher price kick and play mat, baby gym, activity mat

What really sets this mat apart, is the kick piano at the end.  As Archie excitedly throws his legs around, he kicks the keys on the piano and sets off notes and tunes.  The musical rewards help teach about cause and effect and Dylan loves watching Archie make a noise.

The piano can also be turned so that you can sit and play and Dylan loves to join in and play his own tunes.  He has even had a go at lying under the mat as baby toys appear to have become more exciting suddenly now somebody else wants to play with them!

toddler on baby gym, siblings and baby activity mat, fisher price

I have found that although the arch is easy to remove and change, the piano part cannot be detached which I would like as once Archie is a little bigger, he won't be able to fit under the arch and reach the toys and still straighten his legs.  It is the perfect size for him now though and really it won't be long until he has outgrown lying under a playmat as he rolling around the room now, therefore the piano to sit at will be perfect for him.

I love this playmat for Archie and think they are invaluable at stimulating play and developing their little skills and more importantly, my little tester loves it too.

Disclaimer:  We were sent this activity mat free of charge but all thoughts and opinions are completely my own.
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Monday 29 July 2013

A Very Hungry Catepillar Nursery

Very Hungry Caterpillar, baby boy nursery, unisex nursery, VHC nursery theme
Archie's new nursery is finally finished and it has a beautiful The Very Hungry Caterpillar theme.  I love the simple white with pops of colour and it will last him through from his baby days to toddler.

Whilst we were in hospital, Archie was given a lovely big cot to sleep in, and despite the hospital noises and disturbances, he fell into a lovely little sleep pattern.  Coming home has been wonderful, but trying to get the little man back into his crib has been challenging and sleep is now a thing of the past.

All of this has spurred me on to finish Archie's Very Hungry Caterpillar nursery and tonight he is sleeping in his big cot for the very first time.  Dylan went into his own room at 11 weeks as he outgrew the crib but Archie still feels so little.  He is rolling around all over he place though so I think he needs the freedom and space of a proper cot now.

Very Hungry Caterpillar Nursery, hungry caterpillar kids room

When we found out we were pregnant for the second time, I went out to buy something for my new baby, and happened to choose a Very Hungry Caterpillar blanket.  It has become the theme which his bedroom has been designed round, so here is a tour of Archie's very own nursery.

Children's bedroom themes, The very hungry caterpillar, hungry caterpillar nursery

I like a baby's room to be calm and it will be a long time before he is playing in there so keeping it simple seemed the best option to help promote restful sleep.  We painted the walls white and got a dark blue carpet (which will hopefully hide the inevitable stains)

Hungry Caterpillar nursery, hungry caterpillar bedding, cot bedding, very hungry caterpillar, Eric carle

Two of my friends painted beautiful pictures for the walls, and I made some simple fabric canvases of my own.

We ordered a cot bumper and matching pillows for the nursing chair and found some great coordinating storage boxes too.

Hungry Caterpillar storage, very hungry caterpillar children's bedroom

I still have a lovely caterpillar to hang on the wall, to hang little coats and jackets from but this involves a drill so has taken a bit longer to get round too.  We also still need to buy some blackout curtains to finish off the room.
Hungry caterpillar nursery, mamas and papas nursery furniture

I love the simple theme, the handmade pieces and the calm feel of the room and I am  hopeful that my little man finds it comfy enough to sleep in.
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Sunday 28 July 2013

How to Make Very Hungry Caterpillar Wall Art

When we decided on a Very Hungry Caterpillar theme for the nursery, I browsed online shops and ebay looking for the perfect little touches to make Archie's room special.  I could find wall stickers, but there didn't seem to be many pictures. 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Wall Art, Hungry caterpillar, homemade canvases, hungry caterpillar canvas, fabric room decorations

After using my creative side when we originally did Dylan's nursery, I decided to make Archie some wall art and it was the simplest thing to do.  I bought 4 blank white canvases and 4 fat quarters of different Very Hungry Caterpillar fabrics.  

How to make fabric wall art, very hungry caterpillar nursery, wall art for children's room

Armed with a heavy duty stapler and a pair of scissors, I had some lovely wall canvases in no time, and enough spare fabric to make a little taggy or sew some shapes on a plain blanket.

homemade wall canvas, fabric hungry caterpillar, very hungry caterpillar nursery

I think they look fun and are so easy to do that you can make them for any room theme given the right fabric.  It worked out only £10 to make 4 new pictures for the little man's beautiful room.

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Tuesday 23 July 2013

How to Survive a Hospital Stay - Staying Sane

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.

As you may well know, we have recently moved into our local hospital.  Dylan managed to break his leg just as the summer weather was starting and so the boys and I are now inmates.  Days are long and difficult as keeping two immobile under 2s occupied when they have such different needs is a challenge in itself.   Add in that the usually active toddler cannot wear himself out and the days go on for a long long time.

I am busy writing a couple of posts about how we are surviving our stay but I thought I should start with the most important lesson - staying sane.  

Being cooped up in a cubicle with your beautiful but exhausting children takes its toll and at the end of the day I have very little time for myself before I need to curl up on my chair-bed and try and get a little rest  It is very important to use this time wisely, and make sure you relax as everything else can wait.  A happy mamma makes for happy children.

My number one lifesaver comes in a purple packet and tastes utterly scrummy.  That's right, Cadburys produce sanity in shiny little bags called Chocolate Buttons.  I was recently asked to shop for Cadburys products in Asda and you really don't have to ask me twice when it comes to chocolate!

Every night, when the boys eventually drift off, I escape as fast as I can to the children's ward garden armed with a sugary snack.  Every day I reward myself for surviving, for keeping my cool, for playing all day long and for staying strong for them.  The fresh air revives me and the sugary treats relax me.

Every now and again I do share - not with the children of course, but with the friendly nurses who are helping make our stay bearable. Sometimes they come and talk to Dylan, sometimes they take Archie for ten minutes for a walk around, sometimes they bring Dylan gifts for his stay, toys, books and stickers and they are always there when I need to hear a friendly adult voice.

My secret stash is hidden in  . . . well obviously I won't share that information, just in case you know where we are! But lets just say I don't let my stash get too low.  

Parenting can be hard, there are ups and downs and many hurdles along the way, but thank goodness there is always chocolate to brighten even the cloudiest of days!  It didn't take me long to realise how easy it is to run yourself into the ground in this situation and spending my day out of hospital unable to get out of bed was a bit of a wake up call.  Now I make sure I relax when I get a chance and of course a chocolate biscuit or two doesn't hurt!
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Saturday 20 July 2013

5 Months In

We are now 5 months in to our life as a family of four.  This last month has had its ups and downs and Archie has celebrated turning 5 months old in the hospital.  5 months seems to signal a huge change and my baby boy seems to be growing up rather too fast.

 Archie is well and truly a mummy's boy.  He can look rather serious at times, but the moment he catches my eye a huge smile spreads over his face.  He is happiest in my arms and doesn't like to venture too far from me.  He has become very smiley over the last month though and he now gives out gummy grins to anyone who will talk to him.  He is laughing more and more and loves my silly voices.  I think he will be the thrill seeker of the family as he loves being thrown in the air, or when I make sudden movements or loud noises.

He may not be crawling yet, but Archie is well and truly on the move.  He explores every corner of his cot as he twists, turns and rolls around and in the blink of an eye he has moved across the room somehow.  He likes to curl his legs underneath him and then push off against them to go forward.  He is still happiest when he is stood up and hasn't quite mastered sitting unaided yet.

It appears that I breed big hungry babies, and just like his big brother, Archie has stopped putting on weight when he turned 4 months old and started dropping through the centiles in his little red book.  Despite me wanting to wait until 6 months to wean, we have been advised to start now and from 5 months our weaning journey will begin.

Dylan has always been affectionate with his kisses and hand holding, but he is now asking for cuddles with 'Bubba' all the time too.  Dylan loves to show Archie everything he is doing and all day long I hear 'Look Bubba, look' as Archie is shown everything from a toy, to grapes, to Dylan's knees.

Teething is well and truly underway and Archie is soaking through bibs in no time (chewing them probably doesn't help).  Everything goes straight in his mouth and I have invested in a Sophie Le Giraffe after reading such fab reviews.  Archie fell instantly in love with it, and his little legs stiffen in excitement when he hears the squeak.  I see no signs of any imminent arrivals but Dylan didn't get his first two until 8 months so I expect Archie will be similar.

Breastfeeding is still going well and we are still demand feeding with no real schedule.  Nights are all over the place but we are sharing a room on the ward with a child who wakes up screaming at random points in the night as well as having children that need inhalers or medicine through the night, and don't always take them quietly.  I have no idea how much Archie is waking up from other noises or from wanting milk but even on our night at home we have two night feeds still. 

At 5 months Archie is a happy, healthy and beautiful little baby but I can see him growing up before my eyes.

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Wednesday 17 July 2013

It Goes Too Fast

It seems like only last week that I was in the Midwife led unit ready to meet my baby boy.  Only yesterday that I had a tiny newborn curled up on my tummy as he slept so peacefully.  In a flash the months have passed and today it is 5 months since that life changing moment that Archie entered the world.

My baby no longer spends his days snoozing on me.  He no loner feeds every hour or two and he no longer fits so comfortably in his pram.  His little limbs have uncurled, his hair has fallen out and re-grown in the lightest blonde.   His face has taken on personality and is often adorned with the most perfect smile.

5 months old, baby boy, beautiful baby

My beautiful boy is well and truly on the move, even if he is not yet crawling.  He examines and explores every corner of his cot as he twists and turns and rolls.  His hands find the bars, his gums inspect anything in reach.  His eyes search out people and toys and his legs stiffen and wriggle in excitement.

His beautiful face is lit up with smiles and the whole room lights up when he lets out a laugh.  There is no sound more precious than a baby's gurgling giggle and Archie is getting more generous with his.  The best smiles are still reserved for mummy but he is a happy and content little man.

At some point in the next month, we will start our weaning journey.  Archie is increasingly interested in what we are eating and there will come a point when milk is not enough for him anymore.  There is something immensely precious about these first few months where I am his only source of food, nutrition, sustenance and I am sad about the prospect of this ending.  It is astonishing how much a baby grows up with that first mouthful.

5 month old baby boy, giggling baby, beautiful boy

Over the next month we will also be making the transition from Carry cot to pushchair, another change that I am reluctant to make.  My baby is not so little and already looks squished in his cosy buggy but as a tummy sleeper, I know that the carrycot is still the best choice both for his development and his rest.

In the next month we will have to move the little man into his own bedroom.  He is outgrowing his crib and the cot is all set up for him in his very own room.  I am still not ready to make the move but I know our days of sleeping so close are numbered as babies do not stay small forever.  Archie is not sleeping through the night and as well as dreading the distance, there is the added negative of night time wanderings for feeds.

Every month is full of choices and changes, yet this one seems even more so.  Every single day I see my teeny tiny newborn growing before my eyes and as wonderful as it is to watch him turn into the amazing little boy I know he will be, it is all going far too fast.

Disclaimer:  I have been compensated for the link in this post

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Monday 15 July 2013

Picnic Time

We may be cooped up in the hospital for the summer, but that isn't stopping us enjoying a good old-fashioned picnic.  The beautiful weather this weekend coupled with a suffocatingly hot ward meant we were over the moon when the nurses agreed to let us take the little man into the hospital garden (albeit with bed attached to him).

We skipped the blankets and bundled on the little man's bed instead with our bread rolls, scotch eggs, cocktail sausages and the picnic staple - strawberries.  

We enjoyed the fresh air and Dylan's cousins made the most of all the toys that the children's ward have on offer.  My little superstar did not even moan when he saw the motorbikes, wendy houses and trampoline, instead finding a police helicopter and an ambulance that he could play with on the bed.  Archie loved the activity centres and the freedom as he is now rolling around all over the place

The fresh air certainly worked it's magic and bed time was much simpler and faster than usual, with the littles settling early enough for me to enjoy the garden again with my laptop and some choccy treats.

We may be missing most of the summer, so we are really making the most of every bit that we get!

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Emmaljunga Ozone Review

I am a self confessed 'pramaholic' and cannot walk down the street without checking out every buggy we pass.  When I was asked if I wanted to try an Emmaljunga pram, I was excited, as it is not a brand I had heard of or seen in the UK before, yet they are huge in other parts of Europe.  I was sent the Emmaljunga Ozone to try out with the carrycot as well and after a few weeks of use, I have to say I am impressed.

The pushchair comes as a seat,  chassis and storm cover and the carrycot is sold separately.  The frame is easy to fold and not as big or heavy as you would imagine although as a larger pushchair it still takes up some space.  The four wheels give the pushchair great suspension and it was easy to maneuver, even with my 15kg toddler in the seat. I found it light to steer, didn't struggle at all with curbs and had no problems lifting the buggy in and out of boots.

The basket is a great size and well protected and I could fit everything and anything in there quite comfortably.  The handlebar is adjustable making it great for different height parents and for storing the pushchair.  The seat can be both parent and world facing and is much more traditional than most pushchair seats currently on sale.  It is very well padded and looks incredibly comfortable and I loved the inbuilt strap between the child's legs as it keeps Dylan secure on days when he wants to get in and out and I don't always put the harness on.  It is incredibly easy to change from seat to carrycot, and a car seat can also be bought seperately making this a complete travel system.

I must admit that I didn't find the pushchair seat to be the best looking but it was certainly functional and comfortable and Dylan had no problems falling asleep in it.  The hood was easy to use and was a decent size and had an extra peak to keep the sun out of baby's eyes.  I love how padded the seat it is as it makes the transition from carrycot to seat much easier and I can imagine it comes into its own during the winter months.

My favourite part of the pushchair though was the carrycot.  The mattress was unlike any other pram mattress and more like a pillow in softness, and a special valve underneath helps keep baby cool or warm by changing how much air is allowed in.  The carrycot was a great size and the only one we have ever come across that I am sure will last a baby until they are 6 months.  Both my boys are tall and Dylan out grew his icandy carrycot by 11 weeks as he touched both ends.  At 4 months, Archie still had plenty of growing space in here.

The mosquito net pulls out of a zip in the hood and there is also a ventilation panel that can be unzipped in the back of the hood which would be perfect on days like today where you need to keep baby a little cooler.  The carrycot is covered in pockets including one on the apron which I find incredibly handy as I can always do with more storage.  

The carrycot is an additional £229 on top of the price of the pushchair but it is a fantastic carrycot and the ultimate comfort for your newborn.

I was very interested to see the storm cover and unfortunately don't have any pictures of it on the buggy.  Rather than a traditional raincover, the storm cover is all grey with some large reflective strips and has nothing covering the child's face.  The storm cover provides enough shelter that the baby or toddler is fully shielded without having their face covered, which will be great for the children that don't like the shields.  I found it very practical if I wanted to take Archie out late, as it made the carrycot extra dark inside yet didn't overheat the little man and the reflective strips meant that walking home was not a hazard.  It is a very different design to the traditional but I found it unique and useful.

The Emmaljunga Ozone is an incredibly practical pram and despite its more traditional style, has all the mod cons that you would want when choosing your child's wheels.  Personally I prefer it more for a younger baby than a toddler but the bloke loved the seat unit and thought it looked good as well as being easy to push.  The pushchair comes in a large range of colour and fabric choices and is £436 for the pushchair and then £229 for the carrycot.  Since using the Emmaljunga I have noticed a few others around and I am sure now that Babydino are stocking them there will be plenty more on the streets in the near future.

Babydino are the only online retailer to offer a 'buy back guarantee', meaning that should you buy a pram or pushchair from them, they guarantee they will buy it back when you have finished with it.  They take into account what model and condition it is in but having looked at their pricing, I was very impressed that they were offering about the same as the pushchairs would sell for second hand and without the hassle of trying to sell them!

Disclaimer:  I was loaned this pushchair for the purpose of this review but all thoughts and opinions are completely my own.
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Thursday 11 July 2013

A Day in Our Life - The Hospital Edition

This may not be a typical day for many and two weeks ago it was not a typical day for us.  For the next few weeks though, this is our reality and I thought I would share a day in the life of Dylan, Archie and I.

Our alarm clock goes off around 6am, and by alarm clock, I mean the first of the little people that we share a ward with wakes up, in turn waking us all.

A little chat and a cup of milk and possibly a cheeky episode of rhyme rocket on the laptop whilst Mummy adjusts to the bright lights and noise of a busy bay.

playmobil, toddler in traction,

It is 7am
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Wednesday 10 July 2013

Kiddie Bikes Review

This summer was meant to be one of outdoor games, lazy afternoons in the park and building sandcastles at the beach.  The closest I will be coming to that now is watching the more active inpatients out our bay's window in the rainbow ward garden as they run around enjoying the English weather at its best.

I am lucky that we do have a little garden at home and before the little man fell and inured his leg, we had been making the most of it come rain or shine.  We were sent a Kiddie bike for Dylan to play on and his 'Mote-bike' soon became a favourite toy.  Dylan loves to be outdoors and even in the height of winter, we donned our waterproofs and went puddle splashing, so he hasn't minded the light rain or wind as he pushes himself around the garden.  We were sent the bike suitable for 2-4 year olds and my incredibly tall 23 month old found it a great size for him.

toddler dude, kiddie bikes, toddler bike, toddler motorbike

The strong and solid seat meant he wasn't likely to fall off, yet the bike is incredibly light as it is completely plastic.  The stickers give it personality although being a toddler, he does tend to like pulling them off.

Dylan finds the bike easy to steer and push along with his feet and he can climb on and off himself now after having help for a month or so.  It can be used inside and outside and he has no problems turning himself round if he is using it indoors.

Despite the bike being plastic and not looking as hard wearing as some of the other options available, this bike has had constant use for a couple of months and still looks like new.  It has been ridden every day by Dylan and friends that come to visit who are aged 2 and 3 and they all love it.

The bike does come in two size options, 1-3 and 2-4.  I haven't seen the younger one but I would recommend thinking ahead so if your child is nearly 2 or large for their age, I think the 2-4 year version would be fine a little early.  Priced at only £19.90 this is an absolute bargain as it has provided hours of entertainment and hours of peace for me.  I think it is really important to encourage children to play outdoors and this is definitely our favourite garden game.

Although the little man may be out of action for this summer, I know that won't stop him making the most of his motorbike when he is back on his feet over the autumn, and it is light and easy to store ready for next summer when I bet he will be whizzing round on it!

Disclaimer:  We were sent this bike for the purpose of an honest review 
and all thoughts and opinions are completely my own.

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Sunday 7 July 2013

A Mother's Job

A mother's job is complex.  It is one that, once you have taken on, you can never retire from.  It is all consuming, a constant journey of learning - about yourself, your children and your role.  A mother's job is twenty-four seven.  A mother's job is hard.

I didn't quite realise how real 24/7 was until recently.

And then I spent a few days in hospital with the boys.  A house got squeezed down to a cubicle.  Sleep was rare and patchy at best and although I may have been in the bathroom alone, I could hear at least one child wailing for me in the background.  This was a real job.

Whilst in London on Tuesday,  Dylan fell.  He was just playing with toys and tripped.  I had my back to him but he was right behind me, so the moment I heard the scream he was in my arms.  After 40 minutes of screams and a cold compress on his left knee (where we thought the pain was), the centre manager of the venue we were in and I decided it was best to take him to hospital.

I have learnt to never underestimate a mother's instinct.  It is a powerful thing and nobody knows our children the way we do.  This was not just a normal fall and an ambulance arrived to transport us to the local hospital, UCLH.

An examination and an X-ray revealed only that we couldn't move Dylan without causing excrutiating pain and that Archie can wait hours for a feed when completely necessary as I refused to let go of my eldest son.  In an instant Dylan had changed from my confident, energetic toddler to a helpless baby boy who clung onto me with everything that he had.

Chilling out in Hospital

Eventually my poorly baby, the littlest one and I got admitted and moved to a bed on the 11th floor.  We were assured that there were no broken bones, and blood tests were done to rule out any underlying problems.

A long night followed with a child who was terrified of anyone that wasn't mummy, incase they wanted to move his leg and who didn't want to settle in an unfamiliar bed.  A long night in a claustrophobic cubicle, Dylan, Archie and I.

At 5:30pm the next day, Dylan had still not moved his right leg at all and we were taken down for a skeletal ultrasound where they found what I had suspected all along - a broken bone, a fractured femur.

Finally we had answers and after x-rays to confirm it, my beautiful boy had his right leg put in traction.  My little boy will be spending the next 4-6 weeks stuck in a hospital bad that he can't even comfortably sit up in yet and as Archie is breastfed on demand, he will be staying too.

I have 6 weeks to learn how big a job motherhood really is, how full on, exhausting and emotional it is.  6 weeks of keeping a toddler amused in bed and probably a second birthday spent on the ward.

A mother's job is never done.  It is full of guilt, fear, tiredness and sacrifice.  Thank goodness it is also full of excitement, entertainment, cuddles and love.  My job for the next few weeks is clear, so if I am not around as much on the blog then you know why  My job is to be strong for my family - to be organised, upbeat and positive.

I couldn't have gotten through this week without the help of two gorgeous bloggers - Ruth and Monika and without family and friends that have sent their love.
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Tuesday 2 July 2013

Kiddy Evolution Pro Review

One of my favourite brands in the baby world have recently released a new product and they invited Archie and I to try it out.  Kiddy's new Evolution Pro infant car seat really is one of a kind and we have fallen head over heels for it.  

Unlike other baby car seats, this comes in a large choice of colours and even the outer shell can be brightly coloured.  We went for Jaffa, the bright orange version as I love the shade and it would be perfect for a little boy or girl.  

Kiddy Evolution Pro, newborn carseat review

The car seat comes with
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Monday 1 July 2013

4 Months In

We are now 4 months in to our new adventure as a family of four and life without the littlest member seems a lifetime ago.

4 month old baby boy, 4 months old, baby dinosaur

Archie turned 4 months and we hit the classic 4 month sleep regression hard.  Our nights went from one wake up, to hourly feeds from 7 until 6 am and I started to doubt my supply.
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