19 October 2016

First Birthday Gift Ideas...

She doesn't need anything.
She won't have a clue what all the fuss is about.
You mustn't spend a fortune.
Don't go mad.

These were just some of the bits of advice I was given in the lead up to planning Elsie's first birthday. But of course, as new parents, we usually prefer to figure out these things for ourselves don't we? The first birthday is a huge deal after all. Ok so perhaps there was some element of truth to the advice, but I'd been planning and saving for this momentous occasion for some time so there wasn't much that was going to stop this very excited Mummy. 

So what do you buy for a one year old who would much rather eat car keys and empty the entire contents of anyone's handbag? Yes, we struggled too, so in the name of being helpful, or perhaps not so helpful when it comes to splurging the pennies on a tiny human who will undoubtedly prefer to rip apart the box anything of any value arrived in, here's a little collection of First Birthday Gift Ideas...

Something Personal...Or For Mummy

It's no secret that one of my great pride and joys is our Joolz pram. Even a year on I haven't gone down the lighter stroller route like most of my friends as I still absolutely love using it. Just when I think I couldn't love it anymore, Joolz very kindly sent us an amazing personalised bumper bar just in time for Elsie's birthday. 

So technically this was more a gift for mummy rather than baby, who really doesn't understand why I don't want her to wipe her mucky paws all over her beautiful new personalised bumper bar. But seeing as Mummy still looks like she's been dug up and always regrets whatever mismatched and screwed up ensemble she's wearing most days, she might as well be pushing a gorgeous pram to take the focus off hey?

Something For The Home 

We are currently renovating our house from top to bottom and while the Hubster is consumed with the important things like electricity and central heating, I'm getting a little ahead of myself and focusing on all the really important things, like cushions and curtains. Obviously. So when I stumbled on this personalised rocking chair from My 1st Years I couldn't resist getting Elsie one for her birthday. Ok so a chair isn't the most practical gift for a child who, unless she's harnessed in from all angles, won't sit still for more than 12 seconds, (I counted) but it will look very cute in her bedroom one day and I'm sure (I'm praying) she'll learn the art of sitting still long enough to make use of it. 

I also picked up a little personalised rucksack from My 1st Years too, which has been perfect for putting Elsie's packed lunches in when we go out for the day.

Something Fun

I'd been looking for an activity table for some time with the hope that it would encourage Elsie to stand and play, so when I finally found this one from the Early Learning Centre I was really pleased. It's really simple and oh so cute in design. With some encouragement Elsie is starting to play well and show interest in how all the little activities work. If you're looking for a toy that isn't a complete eye sore then this activity table is perfect. 

Something Musical

Elsie loves music. It's hilarious watching her hear the beat of any song and start bopping her head to the beat. The girl's got rhythm, (I think she got it from me...well she sure as heck didn't get it from her chicken leg grooving Daddy!) and dancing is definitley something I want to encourage her in as she gets a little older. Fisher-Price have recently released BeatBelle, the adorable sister of BeatBo, a musical alien that lights up and grooves to encourage baby to get up and move to the beat. With a bright multi-coloured light up tummy BeatBelle dances and moves along to her music. She comes with three modes of play to grow with baby and she even has a record button to personalise your own musical tune! 

BeatBelle has gone down a storm in the Albury household. At first Elsie was a little scared of her, well who wouldn't be if a funny looking alien started moving and singing at you. But she soon warmed up to her and enjoyed tapping away at her feet and bopping to the tunes. It's not just Elsie who has enjoyed getting down to BeatBelle's boogie, the rest of the family have had a hoot recording our own voices saying various, all baby appropriate of course, things...'have you pooed?' is a personal favourite of mine. Don't judge, we don't get out much these days and BeatBelle's alien voice is very funny.

I definitely think that as she get's a little more confident with walking and then dancing she'll make more use of this musical activity toy and we'll have lots of fun doing the BeatBelle Boogie! So if your little one is loving their music right now then this would be the perfect gift if you want to hold off on the drum kit for the time being. 

Thank you to Joolz and Fisher-Price for working with The Enchanting Blog.
read more " First Birthday Gift Ideas... "

16 October 2016

Elsie's Birth Story...

I do love a birth story.

Even before we were considering having a baby, when friends of our's had newly become parents, I was always keen to whisk past the 'how you feeling?" and "oh he/she is just adorable..." formalities so that I could get to the nitty gritty. I was always intrigued about that part of becoming a parent that frightened me and yet fascinated me the most- the birth story.

After Elsie arrived, I spent many a long night reminiscing about her birth and the key moments I wanted to pen down and remember forever. Time went on and I never found the time to sit down and actually write it, although I also wonder if I've been putting it off for fear of reliving details of an experience that was so wonderful yet so physically painful and life changing. Remembering the day that Elsie entered the world is like an out of body experience. I still find it hard to comprehend that that was me.

One of my first thoughts after giving birth, other than 'holy crap, will I ever be able to sit on a park bench again?", was that women are bloody incredible. I literally wanted to call every woman I've ever known to have given birth whether by c-section, natural or sneezed the kid out for all I cared. I just wanted to tell them that we were all supersonic. But there's no denying that however one does give birth, it's a trauma. Your body goes through such an intense and physical ordeal that it's hard not to relive some of those emotional moments and not remember the fear.

Yes women have been giving birth for a bazillion years, but it still is, and forever will be, one of the most intense and frightening experiences a person can go through. It's hard not to think back to that day without feeling quite emotional. Remembering my husband's face and all the little snippets of memories where I recall we felt that fear. We had come so far and were so emotionally entangled in the process that it's only natural to fear that something could go wrong. But we were lucky in our experience and for that I will always be grateful.

So here it is, a year after it happened, Elsie's birth story...

Due to my having gestational diabetes, we were booked in to be induced on Tuesday 25th August, five days before baby's due date.

Like most Mummas ready to pop, I was already having trouble sleeping, (or what I thought then was trouble sleeping, ha! How naive I was...) so I was up super early, around 6am. Plenty of time to wash and straighten my hair and shave my legs. Little did I know then that this would in fact be the last time in a very long time that I would have the time to achieve all of these things on the same day.

"Call us at 7.00am and you'll be given a time to come into the ward..."

I was literally pacing the flat waiting for 7am to arrive. Everything was packed. Bag for baby, a bag for me, a bag full of snacks and my crisp new nursing pillow all ready by the front door. Not forgetting my perfect little bag of colostrum test tubes waiting patiently in the freezer. I couldn't eat anything I was so nervous and thanks to having spent the previous three weeks nesting, there was literally nothing to do around the home, except pace. Again, if only I'd known then that having nothing to do would soon be a thing of the past.

Tuesday 25th August 2015
"Come in for 8.30am"

Eeek! I remember driving to the hospital I kept holding the Hubster's hand thinking this is the last journey we'll do together, just me and you. I wish I could remember the song that was playing, but my mind was all fuzzy, but I do remember that comfortable silence, just me and you. 

We arrived on the ward and chose a bed right by the window and I'm so pleased we did. I love being able to see the sky and on this particularly warm day, the colours of the sunset later that day became a calming focus during what I now know was labour.

Tuesday 25th August 2015
"You're only half a centimetre dilated"

Brilliant. Having had two sweeps previously leading up to this day, the midwife with extremely long fingers went in for a third attempt. Turns out three is the magic number. Either that or she did really have extremely long fingers. Nice. 

We made ourselves comfortable and tried to take away the nerves by watching Catch Me If You Can on the iPad. We got to about seventeen minutes in and I couldn't focus on it anymore, something was happening. 

Tuesday 25th August 2015 
"You should try and get some fresh air, go for a walk"

Sickness, diarrhoea and a certain pain that meant I couldn't talk for a few minutes each time began in waves, but no one ever said I was in labour. Holy cow bags. If this wasn't labour, I wasn't going to survive it.

We managed a walk around the hospital building but we kept having to stop every ten paces so that I could breathe through what I now know to be back contractions. Over the course of the next nine hours everything got more intense and the world filtered out whilst I focused on surviving and throwing up. 

Tuesday 25th August 2015 
"I need to assess you to see how things have progressed..."

Nope. Not happening. I'm not moving. If I open my eyes or move an inch, I'll crack.


Tuesday 25th August 2015
"Do you think she's ready to move so I can check her?"

Nope. Still not moving. Still not looking. Do not interrupt my counting or weird hand gesture woman or I'll crack. Leave me alone here to die and think about what on earth makes women EVER want to put themselves through this again? 

I couldn't speak. I couldn't open my eyes. 

The world around me had disappeared and only my breathing, counting and some weird hand gesture that I saw my yoga teacher do, existed in my head. If I'd taken even a peep into the real world I would have cracked and there would have been no going back. However, I was very aware that there had been a midwife hovering around us for quite some time now, waiting to poke her fingers up my foof to see if the pessary was working. It bloody better be otherwise what the heck was this pain? 

Tuesday 25th August 2015
"I really need to assess her now..."

She wasn't bogging off... I had to eventually muster up the energy to move. Slowly and carefully and without opening my eyes.

Tuesday 25th August 2015
"I'm afraid you're only 1.5 centimetres dilated..." 

That's it. I'm going to die. This isn't normal and I'm going to die.

Wednesday 26th August 2015 
I need a wee. 

Or so I thought. This wee turned into one almighty gush of just about any liquid excretion from ones body as humanly possible, including my waters and a lot of blood.

Wednesday 26th August 2015 
"She's fully dilated we need to get her up to delivery..."

Our peaceful corner of the ward was shattered as an alarm was raised and before I knew it were were surrounded by midwives all busy doing something.

They tried to get me to sit in a wheelchair but I shook my head and said that I needed to push. Sitting in a chair was definitely not an option at the present time. So back on the ward bed I went and off they rushed us to the delivery ward.

"There aren't any delivery suites available" one midwife said nervously and it was at this point it dawned on me that babies can be born absolutely anywhere. When you hear stories of women giving birth in car parks and on the side of motorways I've always thought, really? Couldn't you hold it for a bit longer? Ha! When a tiny human is ready to exit the body it's bloody ready to exit the body and you have about as much control over it as stopping a poo mid flow when you've had a dodgy curry the night before. It ain't happening.

"Shall we take her to a birthing pool? Would you like that Katie?"

Er I would have very much loved that pool sweet midwife FIFTEEN HOURS AGO. You'll be lucky to fill up a water balloon before this sprog exits my vagina let alone fill up a whole bloody great bath tub.

And breathe.

I so needed to push and at this moment in time I didn't care if I gave birth in a shark cage let alone a delivery suite. This baby was coming.

Wednesday 26th August 2015
This is it. 

With no delivery suites available, they whizzed us into a recovery room instead and within moments the midwives had turned a stark hospital room into a calm, dimly lit sanctuary and I can honestly say I've never felt more ready for anything in my life. This was happening and I knew exactly what I had to do. Everything we had waited for and everything we'd planned for had brought us to this moment. The moment where we became parents.

"Listen to my voice darling and only my voice..." my fairy Godmother Midwife Pauline said... I listened. I pushed when she said push, I rested when she said rest and I breathed when she said breathe. I owe my quick, safe and fairly straight forward (as much as anyone could hope for) birth to this woman and for that I will be eternally grateful.

At 2.11am on Wednesday 26th August, in the amber glow of a recovery suite, our little bean said hello to the world. The midwife placed baby on my chest and it squawked and squirmed with it's long arms flailing everywhere like a monkey falling from a tree.

The Hubster and I spent a few minutes checking over every tiny finger and toe and it was a while before it dawned on me that we didn't even know whether our baby was was a boy or a girl. "Don't you already know?" asked the midwife. Clearly they don't get a lot of gender surprises these days. "Let Daddy find out," she said as she helped me lift baby off my chest.

"It's a girl!" Daddy said.
"Is it really?" Mummy said.
"I don't know..." Daddy said in true Del Boy style as he checked again.

Our daughter, Elsie Belle Albury had arrived safe and well and we couldn't have been more shellshocked happy. Well as happy as you'd expect new parents to be; one can be having downed a shed load of gas and air in the space of fifteen minutes and the other having witnessed something so mind blowing before swiftly being asked to dress a tiny alien in very tiny clothes.

Life changed forever in that moment and we were given a gift that has since challenged us in ways we could never have imagined, but has made our hearts bigger and fuller than ever thought possible.

Elsie Belle, you will forever be my greatest achievement little one. Thank you for making me a Mummy.

read more " Elsie's Birth Story... "

7 October 2016

My Latch Diary...Finding Comfort & Reconnecting

I always imagined that I'd be a natural when it came to breastfeeding, but sadly this wasn't the case. As prepared as you are in the nursery and tiny weenie baby clothes department, nothing can prepare you when it comes to feeding your new baby. Some of us breeze through it and some have a few bumps. Then there is the rest of us who frantically search the internet, sob over help books and clear out the shelves in the baby stores for every teat, bottle or contraption that will ease the most vital aspect of caring for your tiny human.

Feeding becomes the crux for everything else and once you've got it figured out everyone's happy.

Even a year on and we are still struggling with self-settling and more importantly sleep in general. We've tried everything but we mustn't give up hope, which is why I'm working with Munchkin Latch Bottles to share our 'Latch Diary' as we continue with our mission to help Elsie, and the rest of us get a good night's sleep.

My Latch Diary

I breastfed Elsie until she was around the five month mark before we moved onto formula. As well as she took to bottles, there was always something missing. I felt as if that nurturing bond I had worked extremely hard to form had been abruptly cut off and Elsie did too.

After her feeds she would push away her bottle and turn her head towards me to find my boob that she so obviously needed for comfort and reassurance that she'd had up until that point to soothe her to sleep. But with my supply dwindling, as it wasn't needed as much anymore, I needed to find other ways to comfort her. In the end I had to drop the cradle feeding position and started to feed her facing away from me instead, and then once her feed was over I'd place her down on the bed and lay next to her to try and settle her to sleep. As much as it worked at the time, it now makes me sad. I loved nothing more than staring down at her face as she looked into my eyes whilst I fed her- both breast and bottle- and I feel like I cut her off too soon.

So when our Latch bottles arrived the first thing I was reminded of were these difficult transitioning days and I wished that I'd known about this range back when I was struggling to combine the breast and bottle. If I had I would have probably been able to feed my baby in my arms for much longer.

The Latch Experience 

The thoughtful people over at Munchkin recognise that the transition from breastfeeding to bottle can be difficult, which is why they've designed the Latch range with much consideration creating a unique accordion teat that mimics the comfort and movement of the breast which moves with baby as they feed. It also has an anti-colic valve fitted to prevent air bubbles which is always a bonus in those early constantly winding-burping days.

Elsie took to the Latch bottle like a pro and it's eased our feeding times in various ways.

The bottles are slim in design and lightweight meaning she's taken to holding them much easier than our previous brand, giving her the confidence she needs to develop her independence during feeding times. Elsie usually guzzles her feeds as if she's worried her next one won't come, but since using the Latch range, she's slowed down her drinking considerably which means we are able to spend more time soothing her during the feed and therefore settling a little better.

But the aspect I love most about these clever bottles is the way in which it's brought us closer together during feeding times again. I can lie next to her as she feeds and the flexible teat means that she's got the freedom to tilt her face towards me and move to get more comfortable as she settles down for the hour evening, something I've been missing since we transitioned from breast to bottle.

As baby starts to move from bottle to cup the Transition Trainer Cup, with it's silicone spout is flexible to give baby the confidence to practice a whole new skill when it comes to drinking. This cup has been an excellent way to ease Elsie into drinking water in between meal times. She took to it instantly and similarly with the Latch bottle, she wants to feed herself which she tries to do but still needs a little help to lift it and tilt her neck at the same time, but we will get there.

Finding Comfort & Reconnecting 

Using the Latch bottles we've been given the opportunity to reconnect again during feeding times and we couldn't be happier with the range. It's brilliant design means that Elsie is given the confidence to be independent, whilst still allowing us to soothe, teach and comfort her in the process. Taking part in the Munchkin's Latch Diaries has reminded me that these feeding times won't last forever so it's important to cherish every single one before she's all grown up. She may be destined to be The Baby Who Never Sleeps and will always struggle to self-settle, but it won't last forever so I'm making a conscious effort to appreciate every single feed from now on.

If you'd like to see more, we've made a little video of our Latch Diary experience too...

I would like to nominate the very lovely Polly from The Enchanted Pixie to try out the Munchkin Latch Bottle range next and I'm really excited to see how she gets on with it.

Thank you Munchkin Latch for working with The Enchanting Blog
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3 October 2016

Review: Fisher-Price 3-in-1 Sit, Stride & Ride Lion...

Keeping a one year old constantly entertained is about as easy as trying to keep a bunch of monkeys seated on a coach journey to Scotland and back. It's relentless and near on impossible most days. 

She's into everything and everything has about a twenty second interest expiration. She wants keys, she has keys, she lobs keys. She wants a book, she bites the book, she chucks the book. You get the idea. I'm not ashamed to already admit that I'm rather looking forward to the day when I'm yelling at her to switch the television off because her eyes will go square. But until that day arrives, as a family, we are having to pull just about anything out the bag, tag team style, to keep our little girl entertained and away from the food blender which is her new current obsession. 

So when Fisher-Price got in touch and asked if we'd like to try out their jazzy new 3-in-1 Sit, Stride and Ride Lion, I practically bit their hands off. 

In A Nutshell 

This brightly coloured lion offers a range of activities to keep a baby who is on the move entertained: 

1. The sit and play aspect includes ten light-up buttons, cleverly designed around the lion's mane that activate fun songs and phrases. The lion's nose lights up and his mouth opens to encourage hand and eye motor skills too, along with two other spinner and flap aspects for baby to play with and explore. 

2. The lion's back creates a ride-on for baby to scoot around and explore their surroundings independently. 

3. The seat can then be popped up to become a handle so that baby can push and walk the lion to encourage their walking skills. The lion is bursting with songs and phrases with each and every activity. 

What Baby Thought 

There are so many aspects to this ride on toy that Elsie's been enjoying. She's still not walking yet so anything with multiple activity points is a real bonus otherwise she quickly loses interest and darts off doing her 'crab swag' to find something else. She's being a little stubborn when it comes to attempting to walk so it's been great seeing her face light up when she pushes the lion along as it takes the focus off encouraging her to walk. 

Elsie loves the colours and of course the musical aspects of the toy and I love seeing her bop her head to all the different sounds as she presses the buttons around the lion's mane. 

I was also impressed with how well she inserts the balls into the lion's mouth as its mechanism is quite stiff, but she manages it if someone is holding the lion steady. 

The funniest part for us is seeing her confusion when she scoots backwards on the ride-on. She hasn't quite figured out how to move forwards and she looks baffled as to why she's moving further away from us. I'm pretty sure it won't be long until she clocks on and starts happily ramming our ankles with it. Can't wait. 

What Mummy Thought 

It's entertaining. There are so many great things about this 3-in-1 toy that I was impressed with including how entertaining it is for us as a family. It's so brightly coloured and the music and sounds are great, encouraging baby to learn numbers and songs. The lion's nose says phrases and sneezes when pressed which is cute and he then reacts when the lion is pushed along which I think will be more appreciated once Elsie is on the move more independently. 

It's versatile. It's not often you discover a toy that caters for such a range of activities for baby who is beginning to move. Having the option to walk, ride and sit to enjoy a toy is brilliant and I know that it will adapt to Elsie as she grows for quite some time. 

It comes with batteries. You know you've become a parent when you're relieved that a toy comes with batteries. There's nothing more annoying than when you've gone through all the excitement of dismantling a toy from it's sky-diving proof box to have to go on a hunt for a screwdriver and some batteries to make it work. This lion was singing and flashing away at us the minute he was freed. Score. 

There are only a couple of aspects I would slightly alter if possible. Firstly the mouth is quite tough to insert the balls into. Elsie does it OK if the lion is being held securely, but this isn't ideal for a baby with zero patience if you want her to play independently. 

Babies are obsessed with taking things in and out of bags, buckets or trunks so it would be great it the ride along provided a little storage compartment under the seat. When the push-along aspect is set up, Elsie keeps trying to put the balls under it but they keep falling through. It's not entirely necessary, but an aspect that I know would buy me another five minutes peace if it were possible. 

As with most Fisher Price products there are so many elements to the toys that keep babies and parents entertained which is why I think they are worth the investment. It's great to have a toy that can be used in a range of different ways throughout the day and in different places. We've been enjoying the musical lights and sitting activities indoors and then taking it outside to ride and stride along in the garden whilst the weather is still good. It will be great to see Elsie's skills develop with her lion as I'm sure she'll be whizzing past us soon shouting 'roooaarr!'

Thank you Fisher-Price for working with The Enchanting Blog. 
read more " Review: Fisher-Price 3-in-1 Sit, Stride & Ride Lion... "

26 September 2016

Elsie Belle...Now You Are One

We made it. Twelve whole months together and despite the permanent bags under my eyes and the pounds stones I still haven't lost, we seem to have done OK. Of course there have been some really really pants days. The kind of days where we've been tested in ways we never imagined possible and wallowed in self doubt in our inability to get anything right. But then there were the good days. These are the days that squashed all the pants days aside and filled our hearts with so much love and pride for how far we've come together and for all the good days we've got to come.

I always imagined that I would be really emotional as the big first birthday approached. I thought I'd be an absolute blubbering wreck, sobbing over a wine bottle 'Oh my baby's growing up too fast!' But it was quite the opposite. Of course there was wine, there will always be wine, but I was so consumed with making everything just perfect that I didn't have time to focus on the emotions of reaching this exciting milestone.

It's been such a busy year adapting to our new life as a family that I thought it would be a much more sensible idea to focus on the celebrations as opposed to opening the flood gates of what's been and gone. Consuming myself with organising a three day event to celebrate the fact that we have brought such a beautiful, bright and very funny little girl into the world was a much better plan.

So here you are as one year old little Miss Elsie Belle. One Year Old.

Instead of pointing you do this hilarious flappy hand waving gesture when you either want to be taken somewhere or you want something that's caught your eye. Usually at something not entirely suitable for little people

We think you might be starting the terrible twos a whole year early which we are thrilled about, not. When you don't get your way you've already started throwing yourself backwards and shouting and screaming at us in frustration. Excellent.

You're still rocking the dodgy crab crawl, or 'crab swag' as we've started calling it, to move about which you still don't appreciate as a mode of reasonable transport.

You could probably walk already but you choose not to- why would you want to when there are so many of us around to carry you all the time?

I think you were a Royal in another life. When we ask you for a kiss you bow your head which means we've been given permission to approach you and kiss your forehead. Cutest thing ever, although I am looking forward to the day you pucker up those lips. Mwah.

You think it's hilarious to bite our noses. I'm not entirely sure how this started but you find it very funny to clamp your five tiny but sharp little toothy pegs around our snouts and wait for us to yelp out in pain.

You are very good at making a mess. From emptying handbags to flinging perfectly piled clothes around the room you carry both out with Olympic style and precision. Considering that your Mummy has a slight massive OCD tendency with tidiness and organisation this is something she hopes dearly that you grow out of soon. Pleeease! 

We aren't kidding when we say you are very very tall for your age. The average two year old is 85cm long and you my darling are 82cm tall at just one year old. It's ok though, you're all in proportion and growing just beautifully so unlike the first time I was told you were going to be the tallest girl in the world school,  I didn't burst into tears in the health visitors office. You keep growing girl and Mummy promises to always make sure you never have ankle swingers.

You love climbing the stairs which is very clever but very unnerving all the same. Whilst the rest of the family are encouraging you to climb and explore, Mummy spends a considerable amount of time trying to teach you to climb downwards safely, but of course that isn't as fun. Being safe clearly isn't a priority in the world of baby exploration.

Music is one of your favourite things. It doesn't matter where we are, if you hear music you start bopping your head to the beat and waving your hands to the rhythm and, without sounding like a 'Stage Mum' already, girl you've got talent! Daddy and I are seriously hoping that you've got a mini Taylor Swift inside of you somewhere. Just promise us you'll look after us when you're rich and famous. Don't make me sell that story to the press about the time you...

Even though you still don't sleep very well and however demanding and relentless you may be, you are a gift and an absolute joy to be around. You make our hearts fuller and prouder than I ever thought possible.

Happy Birthday my darling girl. You are by far our greatest achievement and continue to be our greatest adventure.
read more " Elsie Belle...Now You Are One "

7 September 2016

Oh Elsie...No!

Why is it that every new stage is so much harder than the last? Yet we never fully appreciate the stage that we are currently experiencing until we are sweating our butts off and losing our marbles in the next. Oh how I miss those days when she would scream to high heaven every time I so much as uncrossed my legs. Because only now do I recognise how easy that stage was...oh those were the days! 

We appear to have well and truly entered that next stage in babyhood- the one where sitting down becomes a thing of the past. The one my friends called "fun." Fun. Ha...I had more fun having a full Brazilian wax in 28 degree heat two days before giving birth. This is just plain hard work.

Our daughter's almond shaped eyes have finally opened to the fascinating world that surrounds her and she wants to touch everything. We find ourselves saying "Oh Elsie, no!" a zillion times a day and she's not even walking just yet

Long gone are the days when you can expect a simple shopping trip to go smoothly or a coffee date to be a breeze, or a picnic to be enjoyable. Take a simple visit to the beach a few weeks ago. The Hubster and I had a rare mid-week-yay-the-sun-is-out day off together. What shall we do on what's set to be the hottest day of the year so far? We'll head down to the coast of course, along with half the UK pulling a good old sickie from work because the sun is out. Genius plan.


We set off mid-morning with a car full of all those baby-beach essentials feeling all smug that we were heading out for a day by the sea. Little did we realise that nearly five and a half hours later, our butts would finally hit the sand. Oh pants. But we'd made it at last, what else could go wrong? Hot, sweaty, hungry, thirsty and beyond bored we finally plodded down to the beach only to quickly realise that our dear little daughter would not in fact sit there nicely on the picnic blanket playing with her toys in the sand. Oh no, she wanted to become the sand. 

I've never experienced anything like it my life. Sun, sweat, seagulls, sun cream, soggy rice cakes, sand, babies and knackered parents are a terrible combination. It quickly dawned on us that our "chilled out" days are far behind us. Very far.  Triffic.

It's not just the days out that have now turned into events that only an Octopus addicted to Redbull could handle. Oh no, just being at home has reached a whole other level. Life has become one big hazard perception test and one didn't even realise that I'd applied for a licence. 

All her toys have been replaced with anything associated with the letter D: danger, dirt, damage, delicate, disastrous, disgusting and damn right annoying

The television has become her new drum set. Excellent. 

The washing machine is her new "Ooh look at all these buttons, knobs and flashy lights, I wonder what will happen when I press them all..." obsession. I'll tell you what won't happen little miss Elsie, that normal wash cycle that we wanted to happen. Nope. Instead we'll all spend the next half hour trying to figure out what cycle the wash will now be experiencing after you've pressed every single button. 

The staircase has replaced the Jumperoo, although I won't say I'm sad to see that eye sore make it's way up to the loft until further notice that's for sure, but we sure could do with some sort of harness for our little explorer who currently has zero awareness for height and safety. 

She loves a purse. I have no idea why, but she can clock them from a mile off. We were in a shop the other day and Elsie actually shouted at the woman in the queue behind us because she wanted her huge purse and obviously didn't hand it over. It was a tad embarrassing having to explain that 'she loves a purse' without sounding like I'm training my baby to be the next Artful Dodger from Oliver Twist

Then there are things like wipes, keys, phones and glasses. Oh and of course handbags which are her all time fave. Find the kid a handbag filled with crap and you've just bagged yourself approximately six minutes. She literally won't give up until she's emptied the entire contents of whoever's handbag and scattered everything from tampons, odd plasters and other bag random crap all over the place. Not only will she leave your bag turned inside out, but you can bet your money that she'll find the smallest, most dangerous and choke-able item in the bag and casually begin to see what it tastes like. Excellent. It's our most fun game to date. Not.

Did I mention how in to cupboards and doors we are right now? The only plus side from this experience is that when Christmas rolls around this year and the game Twister is pulled out, I'm going to win a medal for the new skills I've picked up lately. I've learnt to hold drawers shut with one leg and a cupboard door with the other, whilst washing up- all at the same time. Boom. 

It's all so very exhausting and worrying. Life is anything but relaxing these days. Although I am sort of having fun watching her explore her surroundings by herself a little more. Panic attacks and danger alerts aside, Elsie's world has just got a little more accessible and a lot more fun in her eyes and that's something very exciting indeed.
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5 September 2016

Elsie's First Birthday...The Details

I do love a birthday. Some people may think that planning children's parties are a bit overrated. I'm fully aware that Elsie won't remember any of it other than what she later sees in the zillion of photographs that we will one day bore her with, but reaching each birthday is a milestone that should always be celebrated no matter how old you are. Without the odd special day here or there life would become pretty dull in my book.

I haven't been this obsessed with planning an event since our wedding and we all know how stressful that can be. Thankfully this time around, there were no tears, (except baby ones) no dramas, (except a slight incident involving a small hand and a lit candle) and no pacing the floor waiting for very important things like wedding rings to arrive a few hours before the big 'I do', (there was a close shave on waiting for some photographs to arrive from France, but I'll go into that another day) Once a planner, always a planner, and refreshingly this was a much much lovelier event to plan and I was one very happy Mummy with how everything turned out.

It all started one night a few months back, whilst mooching through Pinterest instead of sleeping (because I don't tend to sleep very much in this house) I fell into the rabbit hole of gorgeousness and started planning our little girl's big day.

Word to the wise- beware as you start mooching through the world of beautiful, crazy ideas that look oh so pretty and oh so simple on Pinterest. For normal folk like you and I- time is precious. If like ,e, on some days you are still having to sacrifice a hair wash over a sit down breakfast because your spare time is so limited, then we can't afford to waste time and money making marshmallow rice krispies shaped into number ones that will evidently go into the bin (yep, that was me) or cutting out a load of gold glitter hearts only to forget to put them on the cake. Yep that was me again. Only plan to carry out realistic crafts that your sanity, patience and valuable time can handle.

I ditched my original unicorns and rainbows theme (we'll use that another year) and decided to go for something a little more classic and pretty- gold and pink. Original huh? But oh it was so much fun. I then found an abundance of perfect decor to suit my theme to a tee. Since sharing a few of these bits via social media a few lovely people have asked where things are from so I thought for ease I would put together a post featuring all decor and the details from Elsie's first birthday...

The Details 

Birthday Crown from Made By Moons (they have lots of gorgeous birthday bits including cards and large personalised number ones) 
Personalised Birthday & Sparkle Prints from Freddie The Kid (frames purchased from Wilkinsons and I painted them gold to match the theme)
Happy Birthday Sign from Amazon (various decor pieces from Ginger Ray)
Elsie Letter Balloons from Ebay (these are air filled, not helium and my local party shop filled for me for free which I then stuck on the wall using white tac) 

Birthday Cake by Ann's Designer Cakes
Elsie's Birthday Girl T-Shirt from Gap
Gold Glitter Number One from Cardoodle-Etsy
Pink & Gold Number One/Princess Crown Confetti from InspiredByAlma- Etsy
Large Gold and Pink Confetti Number One's from Ebay
Pink Table Cloths from Asda (in store)

As if life wasn't busy enough, I also sent myself a little bonkers with a few DIY's for Elsie's birthday parties. A few of these can be found on my Pinterest board that I created here, but I am planning on doing a few 'how I did it' posts soon. These include a Milestone Photography Frame, Table Centre Pieces, a High Chair Banner and of course, some good old party bags. I've also had a few questions about the presents we brought Elsie so I am planning a little post on gift ideas I'd recommend and some I wouldn't too soon. 

Thank you so much to all of you who sent lovely messages and well wishes to Elsie on her birthday. She is one very lucky and loved little lady. 
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11 August 2016

The Night I Ran Away...

The first time I ran away I was eight.

It was on one of those baking hot summer's days when school was out and everyday merged into one another, and you and your siblings would drive your mum absolutely bonkers with your constant bickering and annoying wind ups. On one of these blurry endless days my mum sided with my brother over something so obviously trivial now, but to my eight year old mind that was it. I'd had enough.

If there were awards going for the most dramatic of strops I could clear the boards.

"You always take his side. I hate you all. I'm leaving!" I screamed as I stormed up to my bedroom and grabbed my Beauty & The Beast pink sparkly suitcase that I adored and stuffed it with three pairs of socks, a vest and my treasured Larry the Lamb.

"Don't expect me to come back.
You're not taking me seriously! 
That's it I'm leaving..."

Cue my mum and brother in fits of giggles on the sofa as I storm past them and out the front door and slam it behind me.

I got as far as about five houses down the road before I looked down and realised that I had no shoes on. Damn it. So I returned home and declared that I wouldn't be leaving today as it was nearly dinner time, but I will definitely be leaving another day. Mum and Tom were now in hysterics as they had known all along that I would in fact have come back as soon as I got hungry, regardless of if I was wearing shoes or not.

Flash forward twenty-four years later and I decided to run away again; this time with my shoes on a bag packed with all the essentials required for a much needed spa break including a ice box full of prosecco. Standard.

I'm quite aware that I sound like a broken record when I go on about Elsie's sleeping habits, or her inability to actually sleep, but the struggle is real. The pain is real and the problem is real. Babies are notoriously meant to disrupt their parent's sleep, but over the last year I've come to realise the vast difference between a baby that sometimes doesn't sleep and a baby that really-and-truly-is-a-nightmare-sleeper. You can see it in the parent's eyes.

Those of us who know the pain and the utter frustratingly exhausting strain from having a baby who doesn't let them get more than three hours unbroken sleep, look entirely different from those who have the "odd bad night". We look as if we've been dug up. We look as if we're listening to you, but really we're just thinking about sleep. We are broken and life is really, really hard. 

When I'm not crying on the toilet or sitting on the stairs googling "why won't my baby sleep?" I'm making a vow to myself to find the cheapest and nearest hotel in the morning and book myself a room for a year night. It could be grubby and bed bug invested for all I care in those dark and stressful hours, just as long as it's cheap and it's quiet so that I can catch up on some much dreamed about uninterrupted sleep.

Of course I never do it. Bed bugs aside, running away isn't the answer. Elsie needs her Mummy and this is my life's purpose now, to be there for her and I'd only sit there in my grubby little hotel room feeling terribly guilty for having let this aspect of our parenting journey get the better of me. If there's one thing that Elsie has taught me, it's that I'm strong. We'll get through this tough time, we have to. Surely she won't be ten years old and still waking us every forty-five minutes will she? Don't answer that...I'd rather not know.

Even with all this positive pep talk I give myself, there was still no denying that this Mumma needed a little break. So when my sister asked me if I fancied a little spa break, I'd packed my pants and PJ's before she'd even booked us a room. Excited much...was I heck. 

A whole 24 hours of pampering and sleep- it was absolute bliss. I even made a little video of our little break away if you fancy a peek...

Sadly it all feels like a distant memory already. As I sit here I'm totally and utterly wiped again from working and juggling life on broken unhealthy sleep and I've realised more than ever that we can't run away from this problem anymore. Our time together is too precious to be thinking that escaping is the only answer. I can't run away anymore. Well that's unless another cheeky spa break pops up of course.
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2 August 2016

Appreciating Those Winning Moments...

As new parents the first time around I think it's safe to say that most of us focus way too much on the things we aren't able to achieve, rather than all the blooming great things we do achieve everyday.

In the early days during those (rare) moments when Elsie would settle down for a nap I would fly around like a contestant on that 90's game show, Finders Keepers, but instead of ransacking the house, which had already been done by myself and our tiny human, I'd be frantically trying to restore our home to some sort of liveable state before the chaos began again in a matter of minutes.

I would spring into the shower and wash as quickly as possible, similarly to how I imagine they shower in prison- on high alert and on a nerve wracking unpredictable timescale. But during these ever so un-relaxing showers, I would always make a mental note of all the things I could possibly get done whilst baby slept. They'd go something like this...
  1. Finish shower and dry self. Fingers crossed. 
  2. Cleanse, Tone, Moisturise. Or at least finish the process before the end of the day.
  3. Put contact lenses in- both eyes ideally. 
  4. Get dressed in clean clothes. Or whatever is closest, easiest to reach, or can get away with in public. 
  5. Put make-up on. Even if it's just mascara. Both eyes if possible. Or not. 
  6. Make breakfast and eat it. Biscuits don't count, but might have to suffice. 
  7. Brush teeth. Or just buy chewing gum later and make mental note to make use of free dental care while I can, (which of course one doesn't...that would involve remembering to make an appointment. Pants.) 
  8. Put washing on. Or leave it until tomorrow whenever. 
  9. Tidy up everywhere. Or not. 
  10. Make bed. Or not.
  11. Write a blog post. Or just glance at the laptop from across the room and make more mental notes of work that needs doing and just pray that baby naps again at some point throughout the day- which of course rarely ever happened which is why my posts have been so sporadic over the last year. 
Needless to say, I was (and still am some days) lucky if I got past task four, in that order and all before midday. But it was only recently that it dawned on me that if life was still like this after nearly a year, (eek) then perhaps this was actually what my life is meant to be like from now on. For the first time in a long while I started to focus on the things that I had achieved in a day, instead of the things I hadn't/couldn't/didn't/wouldn't and as it turns out, I was actually winning at a lot more than I was giving myself credit for- go me.

So in the name of supporting new and old parents everywhere, if you've ticked off one or more of the list below, especially if you're in the throws of those really early days, then you are most definitely winning today.

You're wearing at least one item of clean clothing. Even if this is only your knickers...boom.

You brushed your teeth before it's time to brush them before bed. Oh well then things are looking good.

If you've managed to pluck both eyebrows on the same day. Yep, I've left the house with just one eye plucked and left the other one for another day week. No one noticed...I don't think?

If you've found the time to plan this evenings dinner, brought the goods, then later cooked it and hopefully ate it all in one sitting, as opposed to standing in the kitchen, beyond knackered and looking slightly unhinged eating a lump of cheese and half a jar of Nutella for tea, then you are most definitely winning.

You washed your hair, dried it and if you're having a really really good day, even styled it. It doesn't matter when this rare and luxurious event occurs or if each stage is spread across the day, all that does matter is that it happens. When you become a parent, having a freshly washed set of locks becomes one of those universal signs that tells the world that you are in fact winning.

You've left the house. It doesn't matter if you're popping out for milk or spending the day with friends, we all know what a mammoth expedition leaving the house with a baby can be so if you've made it out even for a bit of fresh air, you winning at this parenting lark like a pro and you probably don't even realise it.

Your other half phoned and you didn't burst into snotty sobs before they've even asked how things are; blubbering on about how painfully knackered you are and that you can't cope and asking when are they coming home, all before 9.30am. If your conversation didn't start like this, then today is what can only be described as a good day. Whoop.

At least one task is ticked off that never ending to-do list. One thing, that's all it takes to feel positive having achieved something that doesn't entirely involve getting covered in crap. Unless that task involves cleaning the gutter or a blocked drain of course. Yuk.

You've returned a friends call or replied to at least one text message on that same day, you're on fire.

But the most rewarding winning moment of all comes around at the end of the day when baby is all snuggly, clean and content with a full tummy and you realise that you've made it through another day together. Both alive and well and even though chaos surrounds you and there were moments when you thought you were losing your mind, this is all that matters. This is now your sole job in life. From now on everything else has to come second and it's taken me almost a year to realise this fundamental aspect of becoming a parent.

It's OK if it takes a long time adjusting to your new life. For far too long I was so mad at life because our baby didn't slot into it like a perfect jigsaw piece and I now finally appreciate that it was us who needed to readjust to create a new puzzle picture that reflected our new world. 

The pre-baby versions of ourselves took these winning moments for granted, so it's inevitable that it takes a while to realise them as huge achievements in our new roles. But the sooner we realise how much we do achieve in a day, the sooner we can start to appreciate just how blooming well we are all doing at this parenting game. 

What are your winning parenting moments? 
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