Thursday 30 June 2016

Me and Mine June

Well June has been exciting, the newest member of our tribe arrived this week and I am now the mama to a beautiful baby girl as well as my trio of boys.  She was born on the 27th meaning that our Me and Mine photos for this month are incredibly last minute as we were waiting to see if she came early like her brothers and then being caught in the newborn bubble meant that we left our photos until tonight which was a complete and utter disaster.  Nobody wanted to take them, especially not Finn and the light was starting to go.  I managed two photos before they refused to sit on the bed so this is what you get.  We made it into a picture though, we recorded our family this month and that is what matters.

Mama is loving having a baby girl, breastfeeding again after so long, that she got her homebirth and being able to lie flat on my back again.

Daddy is loving time off work, his new 7 seater car, squishy newborn cuddles and watching the Euros.

Dylan is loving having a little sister, learning about Pirates at school, meeting his new teacher ahead of year one and helping Finn learn to walk

Archie is loving showing everyone his new baby, stroking baby girl's hair, singing his numbers very loudly and team Umizoomi

Finn is loving climbing on everything, taking selfies on his toy phone and saying Cheeeeeese, learning the actions to his favourite songs (wind the bobbin up) and strawberries.

Baby girl is loving cuddles, milk, more cuddles and more milk

Next month hopefully we can get some nice shots of the six of us, or indeed in focus would be an improvement, but this seems to sum up the first three days of life with four under five.
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Friday 17 June 2016

What the Boys Wore - Polarn O Pyret

All children are created equal, they are all the same, yet so different.  Babies are just that and whilst their gender plays a part in many things, it doesn't need to affect how we dress them and Polarn o Pyret's latest collection 'Same difference' celebrates unisex design.   Known for their long-lasting and bright designs, this Scandinavian company have a reputation for great quality and clothes that can last through many children and this wonderful unisex outfit that Finn is wearing will be perfect for our baby girl to wear next year too.

polarn o pyret, unisex kids clothing, rainbow kids, same difference

I am sorry for yet more beach pictures, but it is our favourite place to be at the moment and these clothes are perfect for a crawling, cruising, climbing baby in the sand.  The wonderfully bright rainbow stripes mean I can always spot him and the soft stretchy fabric doesn't restrict him at all as he explores.

The purple shorts seemed to be a head turner and we had so many positive comments about how nice it was to see a boy in purple.  Often purple is confined solely to the girls section but these shorts are ideal for a child whatever the sex in.  They looked lovely on finn's little legs and were generously sized for his cloth nappy too

I love Finn in bright colours and these items are going to be a staple part of his summer wardrobe.  I really love that the range goes from birth to 6 years (and the sizing is generous) so you can buy matching for siblings too.  In fact, Britney bump has a short sleeved vest in the rainbow stripes that I cannot wait to get her in!

The t-shirt and shorts are currently both £10 each in the baby sizes (up to 2 years) and the range includes a hat, dress and playsuit as well as other items.  You can find them on the Polarn o Pyret website

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Baby Proofing the House

So it turns out we have a second climber.  Finn isn't yet walking but that doesn't mean anything is safe.  He can climb on and off our bed, up and down the stairs and he has mastered getting in and out of his highchair too.  He is a speedy crawler and he cruises around the furniture, although it doesn't last long before he drops back to his knees as he is faster on all fours.  

Babyproofing is a bit more difficult with two older children as well and our only bathroom is upstairs which means the big two need easy access to it all day and they aren't the most reliable at closing doors or gates after them.  Because of this we are making sure we teach Finn how to get up and down the stairs safely as well as making sure he is always supervised when he is doing it.

I checked out Sunlife's Baby Proofing tips and they seem to cover all the essentials - it is amazing how exciting a washing machine can be for a toddler and I think Finn would probably climb in to get a better look if you knew how to get it open! Thankfully most washing machines come with a child lock system and the doors are pretty tough to open when you are only one year old.

My top 5 things for babyproofing are

1) The TV - children are so fascinated by the bright pictures and securing it to the table or wall safely stops them pulling it down on themselves.  Finn can often be found holding on to it so ours is safely attached!

2)The Toilet - I have a baby who is obsessed with the toilet so we have to make sure the bathroom door is always shut or he is there with such speed playing with the seat - not the most hygenic!

3) Hot drinks - no more leaving them on the coffee table, they are now safely stored on the mantelpiece so that small fingers can't reach in.

4)The cot - once Finn could pull himself to standing, the base needs to be lowered as I wouldn't put it past him to attempt escape! Making sure there is nothing he can reach and not filling his cot with teddies and cushions for him to climb on has been essential too.

5)Small toys - Having two older brothers means there are some very small pieces in some toys, especially their playmobil.  We have a rule about where it can be played and it is all stored in the bigger two's bedroom - a Finn free zone.

Overall we haven't gone overboard with the babyproofing and we are trying to encourage him to stay away from certain things rather than covering them up completely.  It does mean that we have to be more vigilant but it paid off with the bigger boys!

Disclosure : Collaborative Post
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Art with a 4 Year Old

I have a four year old who is suddenly obsessed with art.  Everything has the potential to be recycled, covered in gloopy glue and paint and repurposed.  He looked quite upset recently when he realised what happens to all the things in the recycling bin and since then our bins have been a lot less full as things seem to be squirrelled away to make 'art' with.  

Writing never appealed to him until he started school and I know how important art is for his fine motor skills so it is something we have encouraged.  The Works do some great art supplies and they are such great value too - something you need with a 4 year old that can use a whole tube of gloopy glue on one egg box.  

We have been stocking up on the kids craft supplies and have an over the door shoe organiser in the dining room which has different craft items in each pocket - I saw the idea on pinterest and it is perfect for children if you find one with clear pockets - everything is on display so they can feel inspired.  Pompoms end up everywhere but they are much softer on your feet than lego blocks - trust me!  

Here are our top tips for doing art with children:

1) Aprons are a must! children are messy and easily distracted and if like mine they want to get creative as soon as they get in from school, you will want to protect their shirts!

2) Have art supplies somewhere easy to reach, but not too easy.  We keep paint and glue higher up so they need to ask first but things like stickers and stampers lower down so that they can start without me.

3) Limit what you keep.  Dylan would happily fill the house with recycled rubbish but we don't have the space and I really don't need it all.  He has a special drawer for projects and art work as well as a wall in the playroom to display his best bits.  If they get full then something has to be thrown out to allow for something new

4) If you want to encourage them to be arty without the mess then look at water painting.  Aquadoodles are brilliant for inside and giving them a paintbrush and a pot of water is ideal in the summer - get them painting the side of the house and know that it will all dry the same day!

5) Make a list of birthdays and never have to buy a card again.  The boys love making birthday cards so we keep a list of whose is coming up so that they are never forgotten

6) For younger children, expensive supplies aren't always worth the money.  Cheap and lots of it are the way forward and the Works sells a range that starts at 49p.

7) Once you start with glitter, you can't go back so be aware when you introduce it for the first time!

8) Try and enjoy it.  It is great for their motor skills, encourages creativity and imagination and takes the stress out of rainy days.  
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Wednesday 15 June 2016

Full Term - Feeling heavy and crazy hormones

I have reached week 37 which means that I am full term.  It feels like a period of limbo, this five weeks that are considered the 'right' time to have a baby - knowing that very soon everything will change, but for now we are just waiting.  Nobody knows when this little girl is going to arrive, it could be tomorrow, it could be that I have another month of carrying her safely inside, but she is coming.

I feel completely torn, physically I don't feel ready for another baby but emotionally this pregnancy is taking its toll.  We don't have everything ready for her yet and whilst this pregnancy has been tougher than the others, I don't feel ready to give up my bump, to share my baby with the world and to never be pregnant again.  I know that even when I am struggling physically I have it easier than most women, at 37 weeks I can still scramble around soft play, still power walk a double school run when I leave it too late to do comfortably (again) and still care easily for three young boys.  I have plenty of aches though, I was told with fourth babies they can engage and pop out several times a day and I am pretty sure that Britney bump is playing that game.  Sometimes I waddle, sometimes I am taken aback by the power of her kicks and sometimes I just really want to find a comfortable position to sleep in.

Emotionally however, I am finding this time a lot more difficult.  I seem to go from full of energy, ready to run a marathon to needing to sleep for a week and barely able to get off the sofa - and I do this about 5 times a day.  I can be incredibly excited and happy one minute and really grumpy the next without any real cause and I get periods of feeling really anxious too.

My biggest craving right now is space, which of course isn't something I get a lot of with three young boys.  I can't go to the toilet without an audience and I think knowing how attached I will be to this baby once she arrives, how impossible it will be to leave her, makes me crave a bit of 'me time' now whilst I still can (in principal).  I can often tell what will help bring me out of a grumpy mood, but unfortunately the timing is always terrible.  I fancy a long walk just as dinner needs to be cooked, or I am desperate for a hot shower just as I have to go on the school run.  The bloke has understood that it is best to always have chocolate buttons in the house for these moments - if in doubt, sugar always helps.

I am not doing anything to try and bring on labour, I really believe that babies come when they are ready and I am feeling so torn between wanting her here so that I feel a little more hormonally balanced (well as much as you do with a newborn of course) and wanting her to stay put until I feel a bit more ready.  Having such a small age gap this time and the fact Finn is still just a baby, not yet walking, means that I probably won't ever feel really ready for her arrival and I know that whenever she comes we will be fine.  

These final weeks are such a strange time, I feel unsure making too many plans, but I know the best thing is to stay busy.  I want to treasure every moment as we are but I can't wait to meet this baby I have been growing for so long.  I am looking forward to the birth but wondering how I will cope with four under fives.  I want to enjoy my bump a little longer but I want to meet the final member of our family.  It really feels like we are in limbo now and I have a feeling there are a few more weeks to go.

and yes I am sitting on my birth ball in a Care Bear onesie

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Monday 13 June 2016

A Homebirth Basket

I am 37 weeks and all set for my first home birth.  I have birthed once in the hospital, twice in the midwife led unit and for this fourth baby, staying at home feels like the natural thing to do.  I know that things can still be unpredictable though, that sometimes there is a need to transfer and even if we stay at home, it is helpful to have everything in one place, so I have prepared a home birth basket as opposed to a hospital bag.

I will have a holdall ready so that if anything changes the contents of my basket can be tipped in as we leave, but I want to think positive and feel prepared to birth this baby in the comfort of my own home.

The basket is layered so that the things I need for labour are at the top and the bits for after baby has arrived are nearer the bottom - hopefully this means we don't have to go rooting through when I need something!

homebirth, honebirth bag, homebirth basket, planning a homebirth

For the labour I have: 

-Waterproof sheets
I am planning on taping these to the floor to protect the carpet and having one spare to use either on the sofa or the bed if that is where I want to birth.

-Blankets for comfort
I want to make a cosy nest in case I decide to stay out the water so I will use blankets on top of the sheets and bring in my birthing ball when labour starts

I am hoping to use a pool for pain relief and birthing in

-Birth preferences
I understand the unpredictable nature of labour, but I feel happier having my preferences written down for the midwifes in case I am not in a position to communicate.  Things like immediate skin to skin, delayed cord clamping until the cord turns white, no offering of pain relief - waiting for me to request it.

-My notes
Obviously my maternity notes are pretty vital!

Labour can be sweaty, hairbands are pretty important

-Cord tie
I am planning on using a cord tie rather than a plastic clamp - it looks more comfortable than a big chunk of plastic on their belly and can help it to heal faster too. (I bought this one from Heartstrings on facebook)

homebirth, cord tie, homemade cord tie

-Cooling spray
I got given this in a baby show goody bag and think it might come in quite useful

-Bottle of water
I always get really thirsty in labour and it is important to keep hydrated.  This will actually be living in the fridge until things kick off though,

For wrapping myself and the baby in when we get out the pool/when she is born.

For after I have:

-Baby vests
I have a couple, one in newborn just in case she is smaller than expected and one in up to 1 month size

-Baby sleepsuits
Again I have both newborn and up to 1 month size

-Baby hat
I can't resist a little white baby hat!

-Nursing bra
I have a few ready, but this Emma Jane one looks super easy and perfect for sleep too.

-Breast pads
I have reusable breastpads as I find them more comfortable and cost efficient as well as less wasteful.  I won these Mama Design ones in a competition recently and they feel so soft

-Blanket for the baby

-Comfy pjs
I have some nursing friendly pyjamas that I got when I had Dylan and whilst it is tempting to buy new ones, I find my old worn in ones so comfy that those are what I really want.

Muslins are my essential baby item, our house is full of them, although they aren't all as pretty as these Frugi ones. (I purchased these from the Natal Family)

We are planning on using cloth nappies from birth again and I have mostly Totsbots teenyfits alongside a couple of other brands.

-Mama pants

-Post partum pads
I am going to be using reusable pads this time - after doing some research on the chemicals in disposables I feel this is the best choice for me and my body.

I know the advice is to use cotton wool, but waterwipes are so much more convenient so I will have both ready.  I have a pack to use for me too for keeping clean and fresh.

-Cotton wool
I have bought some fresh cotton wool for cleaning baby too

-Phone and camera battery charger
Because of course I will be taking far too many photos!

At the moment my basket is safely packed and stored in my bedroom and when labour begins I will take it to whichever area I plan on using - most likely the living room.  Did you have a birthing essential?  I only did this all 15 months ago but I still had to google what I would need!

Everything you need to pack for a homebirth,

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Sunday 12 June 2016

Taking a Baby to the Beach

We are lucky enough to have a beach pretty local to us, but even if you don't, the chances are you will be visiting one this summer either as a day trip or on holiday.  Taking a baby to the beach can be fun as well as challenging, especially with older siblings as well.  As part of our role as Huggies® Little Swimmers® ambassadors we have been challenged to 'get set, splash' this summer which really isn't hard.  We love to be outdoors, the children love having the freedom to run around and water is all just part of the fun.

Finn's little swimmers are the perfect beach companion for him - he can wear them in the sand without me worrying about keeping him covered or any nasty accidents and if he decides to crawl off and explore in the sea then I know that they won't swell up or inflate.  The fun characters from the upcoming Disney© Pixar film 'Finding Dory' mean they look bright and fun in the sun and they are easy to tear off at the end of the day when it is time to take him home.  

I have put together a little video with my top tips for taking a baby to the beach - but my main tip is to be relaxed - eating a little sand doesn't do them any harm, the beach is full of shells and rocks and things to explore if you forget the buckets and spades, and as long as you have some wipes and some Huggies® Little Swimmers® in your changing bag you are pretty much set!

So what are your top tips for taking a baby to the beach?

I have made this video as part of my role as a Huggies little Swimmers ambassador
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Friday 10 June 2016

What the Boys Wore - Bebe Threads

Subscription boxes are everywhere and none are more exciting than when they involve kids clothing.  Bebe Threads is a new company offering not only an online boutique but also a mystery box based on your answers to a series of questions about your preferences and your child's style.

Bebe Threads sent us a box that included a unisex choice, a girls and a boys selection.  It came beautifully packaged, perfect for a gift and I couldn't wait to see what was inside!  

First up was the unisex item in a newborn size.  I love unisex clothing and with a baby on the way I was looking forward to seeing what they chose.  This Duns Sweden romper is stunning - from a company we already know and love and made from Organic cotton. 

Secondly it was the 'boys choice' and Bebe Threads sent us a summer romper from Serendipity - again organic cotton and a light airy choice for summer days.  This lightweight all in one is perfect for warm days and easy to wear with poppers under the crotch and down the front.  The sizing is generous (Finn at 15 months is wearing the 12-18) but it looks super comfortable and smart.

And finally the 'girls choice'.  This stunning dress by Nui is absolutely my favourite item - the colours are stunning, the print is dreamy and fun and the material is organic, soft and light.  It came with an adorable matching nappy cover too to complete the outfit.  Girly without being pastel or pink I think this is a beautiful item and I would be really happy to receive something like this in a mystery box.

I really like the concept and I feel like they picked great items, appropriate for the season and really unique - none of these are your average high street buys.

If you decide to order a box, your items will come with between a 15% and 30% discount.  The choices are one outfit for £25 or three for £70 on an every other month basis.  If you like any of these items or want to check out their online store then head over to Bebethreads

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Thursday 9 June 2016

A Girl

I always knew that Dylan was a boy.  From that terrifying moment that I saw those two blue lines that changed everything, I knew I was going to be a mama to a boy.  The twenty week scan only confirmed my intuition and I never really thought about things being any different.  We settled into life, our little family of three and I loved being mama to my boy.  When we found out we were pregnant with our second little bundle, I was convinced that he too would be a boy.  I saw my future as a boy mum - whatever that may entail.

Finn was a huge surprise, but it only made sense to me that he would be a little boy as well. I considered myself to be so lucky to have a trio of boys.  Finn was our last and whilst I thought about the fact I would never get to experience things from the other side, never have a daughter, I was happy and content with my tribe of boys.  I felt certain that it was my role.

When we discovered there was a fourth baby on the way, it wasn't just a shock because we thought we were done, but also because things felt a bit different.  The idea that it may because this was in fact a girl was still hard to accept, but in my heart, I was convinced that it would be a little lady joining 'my boys'

Despite knowing from quite early on that we were growing a girl, it hasn't been an easy thing to get my head around.  I pictured myself surrounded by boys and a baby girl had never been part of that picture.  I was excited from the beginning, of course I was, but it was such a strange concept, that it has taken a while to really get my head around it.

Even this week, I asked the sonographer at my growth scan to check the sex - just incase they had missed something, and for the fifth time they told me that this is a baby girl.  In only a few weeks we will be parents to a daughter, my boys will have a sister and I will get to experience everything that comes with having a little girl (the nappy changing is scaring me already!)

I haven't gone crazy with the pink, in fact there is very little of it in her wardobe, and you won't find frills or bows either.  I can't work out if it just isn't my 'thing' or whether three boys has made me nervous of it.  This little lady has some beautiful clothes waiting for her though, lots of unisex styles and plenty of girly things in blues, purples and yellows.  Finn's clothes have always been bright and plenty come from the girl's section so she has plenty of hand me downs to grow into still.  

I know that really a baby is a baby and unless you are changing their nappy, there isn't much difference, but there are things that come with raising a girl that I know will be different to raising boys.  I am hoping it all falls into place, that by the time these differences take shape, I will feel more natural in my role as mama to boys and a girl.  I keep wondering whether she will be 'one of the boys', or will she assert her femininity from an early age?  She will be given the same opportunities, the same rules, the same toys and the same love as her brothers of course, but how will things be different with a girl?

For now I am enjoying the final weeks with my boys - these boys who couldn't be more different if they tried.  I always considered that I had 'one of each' because Dylan and Archie were such opposites and I can only imagine that very soon there will be four completely seperate and opposing personalities living together in this house as siblings.  This little girl is going to have three big brothers to protect her,  to love her, to wrestle with her and to teach her and I think she is going to be a pretty lucky little girl because of that.
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Monday 6 June 2016

8 Months Pregnant

8 months pregnant, baby girl bump, 35 weeks pregnant belly
On the first of June, this pregnancy and this baby suddenly became a whole lot more real.  Rather than an event in the future, I had to admit that I was due next month and suddenly all the instincts which I had been missing decided to kick in.  I went from completely disorganised, to staying up until 2am building furniture so that this little lady will have some drawers of her very own.  I organised all the little clothes and packed them away, washed the shell of the Snuzpod and started to get my head around the fact we will soon be a 6.

8 months pregnant, baby girl bump, 35 weeks pregnant belly

I am now 8 months pregnant which means that there is only a month until my due date and only a matter of days until I am considered 'term'.  I am starting to feel much more excited about having a little baby around again but still completely not ready for her arrival either.

This month I feel like my growth has really slowed down, but at the same time I seem to constantly have limbs up in my ribs so it may be that baby has moved position.  I am convinced this little one is going to be into martial arts of some kind as some of the kicks and punches I get are strong enough to take my breath away or make me sit up very straight.  Considering my placenta is at the front again that is quite impressive and I don't remember Finn being so strong.  I think the bump has definitely dropped over the last week, but I don't know whether she is engaged yet or not - at the last midwife check she was completely free.

8 months pregnant, baby girl bump, 35 weeks pregnant belly

The heartburn I was experiencing has pretty much gone and my bladder still seems to be coping well.  I wake up in the night to turn over but I don't have to get out of bed (other than for Finn).  My feet seem a long way off but I still feel quite physically active and have no problems navigating soft play with the boys or going for long walks.  I can walk all day, but standing still is hard, and I get light headed if I stay in one place too long.

This last month is about preparing the boys for a new arrival and enjoying my final weeks where I can refer to my family as 'my boys'.  I always thought it would be just us, that I would always get to use that term and I think anything else is going to take some getting used to.

This last month has brought up lots of questions and I have found myself explaining the role of the placenta to a four year old as well as showing them lots of google images of quite how this baby fits in my tummy.  It has been really lovely seeing their curiosity, even if I don't always have the answers.

8 months pregnant, baby girl bump, 35 weeks pregnant belly

This week I have a growth scan, consultant appointment and a home visit from the midwife to talk through my plans for the birth.  As I approach term it looks like my home birth plans are all go, but I am hoping for co-operation from the whole team.  

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Saturday 4 June 2016

What the Boys Wore : Toby Tiger

This half term holiday hasn't been at all what I expected.  The sun I was hoping for was replaced with showers, the temperatures dropped and everyone was just a bit too tired for most of the week.  Finally today the sun came out - not until 3pm of course, but suddenly the clouds parted, the skies brightened and we managed to enjoy a bit of the half term holiday I had planned.

We are lucky to have a beach within walking distance of our house and it was exactly what we needed - fresh air, space and ice cream.  The boys were sent some wonderfully colourful clothes from Toby Tiger, an organic clothing company committed to letting kids be kids and it seemed the perfect day to wear their new outfits.

Finn's outfit has to be my favourite, the blue t-shirt with a turtle on is just the perfect colouring for him and the shorts satisfy my love of all things rainbow.  They are both super soft and stretchy and feel built to last.  He is wearing age 1-2 which has plenty of growing space and fits a cloth nappy underneath easily.  

Archie loved how comfortable his outfit was - as a child that needs to move and climb at every opportunity he needs stretch and his shorts and tee offer that.  He is wearing 3-4 as an average sized 3 year old and they will definitely both fit next year too.  The colours are vibrant and the stripes and print hide any mess pretty well (something he also likes to test).

Dylan was sent a long sleeved top and blue shorts and he loves them both.  The shorts are soft and exactly what he would choose for himself.  The red pocket on the back makes the outfit look really well put together and we love that the print wraps around the back of the top as well. 

What I really love is how well these clothes all go together.  The whole range is bright and the core colours run through it all making it easy to mix and match and meaning that getting siblings looking co-ordinated is really easy.  I love how great the boys look together in these outfits and everything is really unisex so they can be handed down and I can even match our little bump into the gang when she arrives.  (in fact I have my eye on a couple of sleepsuits for her already).

These clothes are just perfect for the summer we are hoping to have and the longer length on the shorts will be great to keep them covered in the sun.  Everything is light and airy and such fantastic quality too.  

Thank you to Toby Tiger for sending us such a gorgeous collection of clothes.

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