21 July 2017

Our New Home...The Renovation Project Part One

Packing up...this photograph was taken from our first night in our first home 

A few weeks ago marked a year since we sold our first home and bought our first house.

It's been a funny old year since that day. We woke up on moving day, aching from our last night spent in our first home on the cushions from our sofa. Surrounded by all those items you've left until the last minute that you think won't take long to pack and are sure will fit in the moving van. Everything went really smoothly until we ran over our completion time and were technically "squatters" in what was very much still home as we scrambled around trying to officially leave it for the last time.

I remember crying my eyes out on the way to collect the keys from the estate agents with our family car jam packed around me. What had we done? Have we done the right thing? I suppose everyone gets those last minute jitters wondering if this hugely expensive commitment that you'd just signed your life over to is the right thing to do. But it was oh so much more for me.

Elsie saying goodbye to her first home

I'm not ashamed to admit that I was in a bad place when we bought this house. In the midst of not quite knowing that I had PND, we had decided to sell our beautiful, modern, two bedroom flat for a 1930's house which had never had anything done to it since the day it was built. When Jack had originally sent me the estate agents link to the house, I replied with, "it looks as if someone died in it, sod off." To this day we're still not entirely sure as to whether or not the previous owner did, in fact, die in it, but what we don't know won't hurt us and all that... *as she prays silently that she hasn't brought a haunted house

"Just picture it's potential, what we could make it into- just like the flat, but on a bigger scale," he said.

So much to my surprise, I took the reigns on this crazy idea and within a week we had sold our flat and had our offer accepted on the house, even though I still wasn't 100% sure that we were doing the right thing. As much as I loved our flat, I was really struggling with Elsie to leave it and return to it because there was no lift and no parking space as we were so close to a train station. Every time I wanted to even pop out for milk, it became such an expedition that I started to feel a bit trapped. There were, of course, a load of other factors which made us feel like it was the right time to move on and it's a good job we did seeing as baby number two was soon to make herself known.

Packing up our home with a nine-month-old baby was a hoot! 

As the new house needed so much work doing to it, we luckily were able to move in with my parents whilst we renovated the house, which has been, as you can imagine, stressful on both parties. The past year has been trying for us all and I think we are all very ready to have our own space again. Similar to having your first baby, I honestly had no idea of the scale of the project we were taking on. Six months I thought. Six bloody months. How deluded was I? Fast forward (and I use that term ever so lightly...) one year, three weeks, five days and approximately nine and a half hours later and we're still not in our new home.

How's the house coming on? 

When do you think you'll move in? 
Oh around seven months ago.

Have you got a time scale in mind? 
I literally have no idea.

It's funny because even though this is my house and it will someday be my home, the fact that's it's taken us so long to complete the renovations and that I have only visited it sporadically over the past year, I don't feel as if I have any connection to it. Of course, I've had my say and input with regards to the renovations, but I honestly had no idea how expensive, messy, huge, complicated, time-consuming and life sucking this whole project would be. I've not exactly been the best renovation partner either. In fact, up until a few weeks ago me "and my stinking attitude" wasn't welcome at the house. I hadn't seen it for almost six months. Yep. Not even a photograph had glanced my way until the house was made to look like something that didn't resemble a building site.

But it is happening. It's taking shape and we're finally seeing the light at the end of a very expensive long tunnel. We've taken on the renovation project ourselves, led by Jack and my Dad and with the help of lots of family and friends in the building trade. The blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into this project is unbelievable when I look back at photographs of each different stage. My hubster has again put his life on hold for us whilst he builds us a home, along with my Dad and for that, I will always be so grateful.

So I've decided to share our home renovations on the blog for a number of reasons. Firstly all of our friends and family are keen to know what the house originally looked like and how we're getting on. I usually give them the "stinking attitude" story and so secondly, in the name of being positive, I wanted to celebrate how far we've come and how close we are to finally moving into our family home.

The Original House & The Plan

The house needed everything doing to it, from new electrics to central heating, so we thought seeing as we wouldn't be living in it from the start, why not get everything done at once. It will only take six months after all. Six months. Ha.

Here are the estate agent photos to give you an idea of the original house...

We spent a good month or so thinking about our ideas before finally taking the plunge and putting in for planning permission for a kitchen extension on the lower ground of the back of the house. As well as this we would knock down the wall between the living room and dining room to make an open plan space. The current kitchen would, therefore, become a utility room and downstairs toilet. The previous owner had installed a toilet downstairs in the hallway, but it took up too much space and a lot of the natural light so we decided to remove this and add a toilet using some of the old kitchen space, now the utility room. Upstairs would pretty much stay the same, except for decoration, windows and we knocked down the separate toilet to make one larger family sized bathroom.

Needless to say, we had our work cut out for us in making this house a home for our little family. Six months we thought, six months. Ha. We're literally trying to do what most people take a life time to do on their home and we've almost crammed it into just over a year. But we're almost there. There's even been talk of a moving in date...eek!

This is just part one of our house renovation project posts, say tuned for the second part coming soon where I'll be sharing the early stages of the renovation project including building the extension. 
read more " Our New Home...The Renovation Project Part One "

18 July 2017

Will I Ever Be Sociable Again...?

Obviously I know the sensible answer to this question, but at one point over the weekend I actually wondered when, if ever, I'll be able to be sociable again. More importantly, if I'll ever be as fun as I (think I) once was pre-mummahood. 

Last weekend was a busy one for us as we were invited to two social events, a family BBQ and a first Birthday party. As much as I enjoyed both gatherings, man was it hard work. 

Long gone are the days when you only have to worry about getting yourself ready and, once there,(probably on time) what you'll drink next. Oh no, social events these days are literally about showing your face and keeping your untrained chimps in line. 

Take Saturday afternoon for example. We were only an hour late, which is a win in my book when you're trying to get a family of four out the front door looking half decent. When you finally arrive it's all about logistics. It all starts with access to the venue. Luckily there was ample space for our horse and cart double buggy and we were able to get it around the side of the house with about as minimal effort and disruption as it would take the Chuckle Brothers to manoeuvre a small sofa. It was a breeze. Next is finding a suitable place to park our abundance of baby paraphernalia so that we can a) be out of the way from all the normal folk trying to have a fun time and b) get access to it at all times and still be a part of the fun. So we arrived, late, slightly sweating and dishevelled, but we made it and that's all the that matters. Now let's have some fun

Wait a minute, silly me, we still have two sprogs to take care of amongst all the fun happening around us. The toddler is set free and of course she makes a bee-line for the water feature with as much eagerness as I imagine a professional gambler does when they spy a poker table. There was no stopping her. Thankfully I brought with us seventeen changes of clothes. You know the standard amount of clothes one tiny human requires for an evening out. 

So whilst Elsie's loving life by the water feature and trying to soak anyone who walks past her, (apologies Auntie Lauren)  the Hubster and I are are presented with drinks. Then I do what I'm sure most breastfeeding Mumma's do, check the clock and wonder when the last feed was/next one will be and of course I have absolutely no frigging idea and take a big bloody gulp of that chilled wine because you bloody deserve it. I'm having one drink and I'm going to enjoy it. 

Cue baby waking up needing a feed. Clock shmock, breastfed babies couldn't give a rat's arse about time. Wine aside, I'll have a pint of water thank you. Excellent. Boobs are out, let's get this party started. 

The rest of the evening pretty much follows the same pattern as it would at home. Keeping little people alive. This meant keeping Elsie away from the pond, (yep a pond, every parent's worst nightmare next to roads, car parks and choking objects) away from the side access to the house which led to the road, (excellent) watching her down steps, from eating anything she could choke on, touching anything breakable, drinking from beer bottles...you name it, she was into it. Thankfully she didn't clock the shots doing the rounds as they look like perfect toddler treats in those sprightly coloured sized sippy cups, who wouldn't want one of those.

If I wasn't on toddler watch, did I mention there was a pond?! I was changing a soaking wet toddler or a pooey baby or sat in the corner with my boobs out feeding baby, secretly giving evil eyes to every other sod there who could indulge in several alcoholic beverages irresponsibly, whilst attempting to be sociable. 

The babies were an absolute hit with everyone there which was lovely and thankfully we had a whole lot of help from family so we could have the odd free moment, but for the most part I don't actually think I asked one person a question about them. I was even showered with lots of compliments about my blog from people who I didn't even know and yet in the midst of them talking so kindly about both my real babies and my virtual baby, I was always distracted. Later, as we rounded our little troop up to head home just as the sun was setting and everyone was entering party mode, I couldn't help but wonder, would I ever be sociable again? 

Then came the first birthday party on Sunday. The Hubster couldn't make it so I trudged in two hours late, baby in her car seat in one hand, baby bag and toddler on reigns in other hand and the birthday present practically balanced on my head. Same procedure as the previous event- arrive late, bundle in, say hi to people that you will only then inevitably say bye to a few hours later without anymore conversation happening in between and then find somewhere suitable to set up camp. 

Thankfully at this event, there wasn't a pond. I quickly found my fellow Mummy friends, well as quickly as an overloaded donkey can anyway, and sat down for round two of attempting to be sociable. Within half an hour of being there I'd used up a packet of wet wipes on the aftermath of Elsie devouring an ice lolly the size of a traffic light and clearing a splendid amount of projectile vomit from all over my neck (arms, chest, back, boobs...) curtesy of Billie. 

But as I glanced around, pretty much everyone else was also doing something similar. We were all in the same parenting boat. OK so I was the only one caked in regurgitated breast milk, but everyone else were too cleaning up, telling off, feeding, wiping, consoling, dragging away from sudden danger or preventing some sort of destruction caused by their small humans. The most commonly used word amongst the chaos was "sorry". Sorry, you were saying? Sorry, I missed that. Sorry, hold on. Sorry, do you mind helping me? Sorry, could you watch her for me. Sorry, I'll be back. Sorry, sorry, sorry. 

Sorry... for being a parent? 

This is life now. It won't always be like this. There will come a day when I won't be needed as much and I know I'll miss it. I've had years being sociable, having unlimited drinks and enjoying the carefree life and it was during this time that I was always yearning for the life I have now. I wanted to be a Mumma so badly that my heart ached. I didn't want to be carefree anymore, I wanted to be needed. The me back then would never have imagined that life would be this crazy wonderful. OK so I didn't imagine the stress, the mess, the copious amounts of crap I'd be covered in on a daily basis, but the me back then would never have dreamed that by now I'd be this lucky. Right now I'm a parent and I'm needed. Being sociable has just changed it's definition for the time being and for that I'm not one bit sorry. 
read more " Will I Ever Be Sociable Again...? "

30 June 2017

Breastfeeding Is Hard...

For something that’s meant to be so natural, it’s surprising how bloody hard it actually is to do.

I’m no earth mother. Breastfeeding never came naturally or easy for me. The first time I attempted to breastfeed my first baby, I remember feeling so let down when it didn't just happen like I thought it would, or like I thought it should. From the moment we arrived home from the hospital, my nipples were already scabbed over and unbelievably sore from endless false latches and I was dreading the next feed which of course came all too quickly. The next four months were spent literally fighting to breastfeed my daughter. I tried everything from visiting my local breastfeeding clinic to watching endless YouTube tutorials on how to get baby to latch correctly. I tried three different brands of nipple shields and brought expensive nipple repair creams and spent hours trying to express a measly few drops of boobie juice, all in my pursuit to feed my spoglett from the boob. It was exhausting

I literally fought for four long months before I finally gave in and we fed her a bottle of formula and much to my surprise, my baby was absolutely fine. She guzzled the whole bottle and I went out for a long overdue date with the Hubster. From that point on I realised that I had been putting a whole lot of unnecessary pressure on myself to feed my baby, which took away a lot of the enjoyment out of those first few months of becoming a parent. I knew right then that if I was ever lucky enough to have another baby, then when it came to feeding, I would go with the flow. Of course this time around there have been moments of meltdowns.  Where I've cried out to my Insta buddies for help when I've had my udders out for hours on end, but I've soon given myself a good talking to and remembered my promise to myself. 

Even as a second time Mum, I’d forgotten about so many aspects of breastfeeding that I found hard the first time around; feeding in public, the afternoon cluster feeding sessions, oh and when baby decides to start using you as a human dummy to name a few! I know that I want to breastfeed and it is my choice to do so and when it works, life is just great, but in the same respect there are a whole host of challenges that can sometimes have a huge impact on your breastfeeding experience. So I've put together a round up of my breastfeeding challenges to not only help others, but as a reminder to go easy on myself to give myself a little credit. Something us Mumma's aren't very good at doing.

It's A Skill 

There's a knack to it and neither you or the baby know how to do it straight away. Babies do this amazing thing where they instinctively nuzzle down your body in search of your boobs. It's brilliant to watch and hilarious when they do it to Daddy only to be disappointed when they are arrive at their destination to find no boob. But when they do get to the right boob, it's not always a harmonious meeting. Latching on is a skill. 

There are positions and angles to get right before anything productive happens and if not done correctly, that's when it all goes tits up. Literally. Bad latching leads to sore nipples. Sore nipples equals unhappy Mumma and unhappy Mumma equals unhappy baby. No one learns the Tango overnight. Be prepared to invest time into learning this skill and take any help or advice when and where you can. Don't be disheartened, even if it doesn't come easy at first. Remember to always listen to your head over your heart if the time ever comes when you've really had enough.

It’s A Commitment

There is no scooting around the fact that if you decide to breastfeed, it’s a full on commitment. You’re working around baby’s demands, with no measure of how much they are getting or how often they will require a feed. Feeding on demand can be really stressful. Imagine working to someone else’s schedule and having absolutely no scooby as to when anything is happening. It’s like one of those ridiculous tasks on Big Brother where you literally have to drop whatever your doing at any hour of the day and rush to the source of the noise and whip your boobs out as quick as possible. 

Be prepared to have to stop whenever and wherever to feed; walking down high streets, mooching about in supermarkets, in the queue in Ikea (checking out the meatballs to be exact), pulling over when driving, whilst having your hair highlighted, as soon as you step out the shower...absolutely whenever baby needs it, your boobs are on call for the foreseeable future. It's time consuming and at times super frustrating, but it's not forever and it is your choice. Breastfeeding has been a much easier experience this time by reminding myself that this is what it's all about, it's a commitment and it's my choice. At any point when it all gets too much, there are other ways I can feed my baby and the world won't end.

Confidence to Feed in Public 

The first time around I might as well have carried around a tent to pop up every time I needed to whip out my boobs to feed Elsie. I was so concerned about everything and everyone else whilst the two of us got in a right old tizz, struggling under an apron-style cover up, trying to juggle muslins and nipple shields practically in the dark whilst attempting to get that all important latch. It was a right old faff. Neither of us were happy and all my baby wanted was milk. This time around I couldn’t give two hoots about anyone else except my baby getting her milk. 

If you don’t like it, don’t look. 

If it offends you, I’ve got a spare muslin to cover up your face which fyi, offends me just as much. 

I’ve got a whole host of comebacks just in case some ignorant plonker decides to interrupt my baby's feed. Some people have no table manners and eat like absolute slobs, do I ask them to put the table cloth over the heads? Nope. So why should us breastfeeding Mumma’s be made to feel uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I casually sling a muslin over my mammoth boob, but not my baby. Try to find the confidence in what you doing and be proud of what you both have achieved together, no one else matters.

What to Wear

Nursing clothes are expensive. Which is just terrific when the last thing you can afford to spend your precious maternity leave funds on are expensive layers of material that you won’t be wearing forever. Finding outfits to wear to breastfeed is hard. Last time I breastfed during the autumn months so it was easier to do that layer up trick with vest tops under your normal clothes. 

But breastfeeding in the summer, well it’s as if you need to think like a stripper when it comes to deciding on what to wear. You need to wear minimal clothing with quick access to the boobs whilst leaving a little bit to the imagination (i.e. trying to hide the post-baby pouch) I’ve been rotating two off the shoulder dresses from ASOS, find them here and here, thanks to a recommendation from the very lovely Charlotte over at Write Like No One's Watching and when at home I live in these vest tops from H&M.

It's Your Choice 

It's no secret that midwives and health visitors are, in majority, pro-breastfeeding. Just recently when I said to my health visitor that I'd given Billie a formula bottle which she threw up, her response was "good girl". Not exactly the response I was hoping for when already feeling the pressure to feed my baby whilst juggling a twenty-one month old who requires just as much attention as the newborn. 

Breastfeeding in no doubt comes with it's fair share of challenges, but when you finally get the hang of it, there really is something quite magical about it. Being able to comfort my baby and help her to grow is just wonderful and it's something I'm enjoying a lot more the second time around. It may last another week or another month, who knows, but for the moment I'm savouring our achievement together and have bottles of pre-made formula in the cupboard for whenever we're ready for them.

No one ever writes on their C.V. how they were fed in those first few weeks of life or were asked it on their first date so it really doesn't matter. However you decide to feed your baby, always know that your doing the best for your baby. Don't be hard on yourself and do whatever makes you a happier, healthier Mum.

Billie is wearing the gorgeous new baby wear range based on the Children's classic, The Hungry Caterpillar which has recently launched at Sainsbury's this Summer. The baby sleepsuit and romper are super soft and wash beautifully. The towel is really bright and fun and perfect to wrap your little ones up like a caterpillar after their baths. 

It was so much introducing this brilliant story to both the girls before bedtime. Elsie absolutely loved the story and Billie looked just adorable in her new baby grow. The range is available online now. We were kindly sent these items to review.
read more " Breastfeeding Is Hard... "

26 June 2017

Becoming A Big Sister...

How do you think she'll cope with a new baby?

It was probably the question I was asked most after we announced that you were to become a big sister. I had of course wondered, worried and stressed about since the moment that little stick confirmed that our little family of three was soon to become four and to be honest, I had no idea how you would cope. Your time as an only child was being cut a little shorter than we, perhaps, would have intended and, as your Mumma, I felt really guilty about this. We were just getting into a rhythm. Our buddy-ship was tighter than ever and now everything was about to change again.

The past year has been a bit crazy for us all. We moved from our first home to live with Nana and Grumps whilst our house is being made into a home and, although life isn't quite how we'd pictured it and at times it's been tough for us all, you've been surrounded by a whole lot of love and attention every day which is all that really matters. But now that you've become a big sister it means another big change for us all, especially you my dear girl.  This family transition is the start of a new chapter for our little family. I wanted to document this transition for you and for us, to remember those precious last days as a family of three before we became a perfectly completed family of four before the years whizz past us in a fuzzy blur.

The week leading up to your sister's arrival, it's almost as if you knew that life was about to change in a big way. You all of a sudden blossomed into this little girl who was so in tune with the world around her. We spent our last few days together, just us doing pretty much nothing except appreciating being in each others company. We snuggled lots and I held you so tight whenever you'd let me, just hoping that those hugs would reassure you enough that you are so unbelievably loved. I knew that things would change once we became a family of four and my greatest hope, aside from your sister arriving safely, was that you would adapt to this change with ease. You are our everything and the very thought of you feeling misplaced and unsettled was the last thing we ever wanted.

The day before we went into hospital, we spent the day together at Richmond Park. We took you to feed the ducks. The simplest of activities, but the most perfect of outings, just us three. The ducks weren't as friendly as the ones that follow Peppa around- these ones were vicious and greedy and you wouldn't let Daddy put you down. You made us smile and laugh all day long with your funny ways and we soaked up every second that we were just yours. We walked across the park, spotting the deers from afar whilst you clutched our hands so tight. I was anxious and emotional and I couldn't help but keep kissing your head and savouring those last few hours where my hands and my heart were totally and completely yours.

I was in hospital for four days and even though you came to visit me every day, it was the longest we'd ever been apart. I felt lost without you, my little shadow and my heart ached knowing that you would be feeling something similar in my absence. I had a lot of time to think about us as a family and imagine what you would be like with another baby around. The day Billie arrived you came to meet her in hospital and we played it cool and casual, neither one of us holding your sister nor really acknowledging that there was a baby sized elephant in the room. When we tried to introduce you, showing you to her hospital crib, you would have thought we'd just said "here's your new pet Python!"as you sprung back saying "na!" and ran off to cause some sort of chaos down the hospital corridors. It was then I knew that my first baby was feeling a bit wobbly about what was to come and I knew that the next few days, maybe weeks wouldn't be easy for us.

Then the time finally came to bring your sister home. You ran to me from the kitchen and flew into my arms as soon as we walked through the door. But in that same moment of pure happiness, I'll always remember the way your face quickly changed the second you glanced over at the baby in the car seat that we'd brought in with us. You were so confused and sad all at once. It's amazing to think how aware you were about the whole situation. We had naively assumed that you would be none-the-wiser, but you knew. You knew that this little bundle was here to stay and it upset you in a way I wasn't prepared for, none of us were. You sobbed your little heart out when you heard those newborn cries, repeatedly saying "Mamma, Dadda..." over and over again, touching our noses, a nervous disposition that you only stopped doing recently. 

We spent the next three days glued together as a family getting to know our new addition, all the while consistently reassuring you that you were still our girl. Making you feel as safe and as loved as possible. As the days passed you slowly became more settled, but there were, and are still, moments that remind us that you're still adjusting.

You are having to get used to so many new changes. My hands aren't always free for you and it's something that I'm too am having to get used too. But with these changes also comes some good. I've watched your bond with your Daddy grow into something beautiful. Before I was your 'go-to' person both day and night, but over the past six weeks I've had to take a step back and that's allowed you to spend so much more time with him and it's made me realise how I perhaps should have given you both more space to grow together long ago. You both laugh together so much and I adore the way you look at him and call for him in the night now to settle you back to sleep. You spent the first part of your life being a Mummy's girl and it only makes my heart feel bigger watching you become Daddy's girl now.

Thankfully you're not so freaked out as you once were by your little sister. You still peer into her cot every morning with a look that says "you're still here then?" and you react the same way Mummy would if a toad landed in her lap every time Billie so much as touches you. We've managed to get a couple of photographs of the two of you together, which you mostly ruin with a look of disgust or disinterest, but we'll get there.

There are signs that you love her of course. The way you check where she is all day and night, to make sure that we haven't forgotten her, or left her somewhere, which is handy (running on zero sleep can make Mumma a little forgetful...joke, obvs.) The way you're so patient when I'm feeding her, telling me that 'Baby' needs Mumma's boobie for milk, is just the cutest. The way you go and get your own baby and sit there pretending to feed her, just like Mumma. The way we've caught you stroking her with your Bunny's (or Numo's- don't ask, you named him randomly last week) ears across her face. The way you tell me with concern when she's crying and the way you help me by bringing me her things. You've even gently given her a kiss on the head twice, so I know that even though you're still little, you love her and that you're going to be one amazing big sister. 

Everyone says that having a sibling is the best gift you can be given and I'm already seeing why this is true. You're having to learn to be patient and to be gentle. You're being given time to bond with others and watching you grow and learn how to be more independent makes my heart burst. There will be times when you'll still want me all to yourself. Those moments when you're hurt, or sad, or tired, or moments when all you want is your Mumma's arms wrapped only around you and that's OK.

My arms and my heart will always be here for you my girl. You've taught me how to love unconditionally and you make my heart bigger and prouder with each and every day. You've brought out the absolute best in me- you taught me how to be a Mummy and for that you will always hold such a special place in my heart. Thank you for choosing us and thank you for being ours.

So the question still remains: how do I think you'll cope becoming a big sister? Oh I think you'll be just fine darling girl. Just fine.
read more " Becoming A Big Sister... "

9 June 2017

New Mum Essentials

The first time I became a Mummy I thought I'd thought of everything. Baby's bedroom was bursting with beautiful new baby grows and accessories galore. I'd stocked up on enough nappies, wipes and cotton wool to see our little human through to pre-school and I'd purchased enough Jelly Cat toys to start my own travelling puppet show. But there was one thing I'd forgotten in all the new baby hype and excitement...me.

Having spent the best part of a year taking such good care of myself whilst cooking our sproglett, the moment she arrived all my energy was thrown into taking care of her and I didn't have any time to look after myself. When your first baby arrives, your life as you once knew it really is flipped upside down and it took me a while before I realised that I just needed a few simple things to make this whole process a bit easier. Having spent a considerable amount of time thinking about what I wanted to do differently this time around, particularly knowing that I have a cheeky little toddler and a previous run in with PND to contend with, I wanted to make sure that this time around I was a little more prepared to take care of me. So here's my list of New Mum Essentials that I hope some new Mummas find useful.

Cushions, Cushions & More Cushions

Whether you're breastfeeding or bottle feeding, you're going to be spending a lot of time snuggling, cuddling, recovering and of course feeding your new little bean so it's important to feel as comfortable as possible, particularly during the early days and for those long, long, long nights.

As I write this post, baby Billie is propped up whilst on my boob on my Widgey Donut Nursing Pillow. It's a little more in the pricier range of nursing pillows, but I absolutely love it. The fabric is super soft and I've washed and tumble dried the cover loads and it's still really soft and comfortable for both baby and mummy. I took my cushion with me into hospital, so used it as a bump pillow before labour, a support cushion during labour and then to feed baby from that point onwards.

I also have the Widgey Pregnancy Pillow which was a life saver during both my pregnancies when sleeping and I'm currently using it as a support cushion during our night feeds. Both cushions can also be used for baby at a later stage when propping them up to play or supporting them whilst they nap.

A Life Saving Sling

There comes a point when you just want your arms back. Even if it's to sort some washing out or put a bit of mascara on, you'll know when it get's to that point where you'll try anything to free up your hands and a sling could just be your thing.

Some babies don't particularly like being slung in a sling so it's definately worth borrowing a friends for a hour or two or visiting your nearest sling workshop before investing in one. I tried out a friend's sling for just an hour and instantly knew it would be one of the most invaluable purchases I'll make throughout this baby stage. I purchased the Boba Wrap in navy and I pretty much used it every single day until Elsie got too heavy for my back and then I switched to a Baby Bjorn carrier once she was about six months old. Billie has already been in it just so that I can get Elsie's meals prepared and so far it's working a charm this time around.

A Beauty Box...

This might sound a odd, but one of the first things that was neglected pretty quickly when we brought our first baby home was my skin and nails. I was lucky if I had time to shower and brush my teeth each day in the early days, let alone cleanse, tone and moisturise even once a day. It took a few months to realise that I needed to have a little collection of quick and easy products that would not only help me freshen up my knackered state, but remind me of who I was once was too.

This time around I was prepared from the start. I put together a little basket of essentials such as hand cream, hair bands, a nail file, nipple cream, lip balm and a couple of easy-to-use beauty products. A few weeks before Billie arrived, the lovely people at La Roche Posay to see if I wanted to try out their Toleriane range of which I'd heard amazing things about, particularly for sensitive-prone skin, already so course I scrambled over the keys to accept.

The Dermo-Cleanser is light and milky and it easily glides across my skin cleaning up any make up or grim from the day with ease leaving it feeling so fresh and smooth. I follow the cleanse in the morning with the Ultra Moisturiser which again is so light and refreshing, it literally does soothe my skin and it absorbs really quickly. At night I've been using the Ultra Overnight Moisturiser to hydrate my skin, which is very much needed after pulling all nighters with two under twos.

It's been a while since I've been treated to any new products and I think it's safe to say that I've found my new favourite brand. My skin has been absolutely blooming amazing since I started using this stuff. I've been waiting for the post-birth hormonal outbreaks to hit me full force and even though I'm eating chocolate hob-knobs as if they are going out of production, so far my skin is continuing to be the clearest, healthiest I can ever remember it being. This range is perfectly made for postpartum skincare and as a bonus, this skin care range is super affordable so during a time when all your pennies are needed for nappies and wipes, you won't feel guilty about looking after your skin post-pregnancy.

Amazon Prime 

A friend suggested this to me and she was blooming right, best investment ever. Not only is this amazing for the whole family- with movies, box sets and music on tap and free speedy delivery on a whole range of essential stuff you'll need forever, but the main perk of this membership is for those 'oh crap I need nappies asap' moments. Life will be so much easier having those huge heavy boxes of nappies and wipes delivered straight to your door and you can even Subscribe and Save on these baby essentials where they arrive on selected dates so you don't even have to worry about running out. Best subscription ever. Not to mention Peppa Pig on demand at stupid o' clock and The Walking Dead to watch if your baby ever goes the heck to sleep. 

A Notebook & Pen

Perhaps the most simplest and handiest thing on the list, but it's good idea to have a notebook and pen to hand, particularly if you're old fashioned like me and can't get into the habit of using your notes application on your phone. I use mine for jotting down things like gifts so that I can thank family and friends in more detail at a later date, as well as thing like feeding times and lengths in the early days as the days and times can be a real blur whilst you try to adjust to keeping your new tiny human alive post-labour on pretty much sod all sleep.

It's also handy to jot down any questions or concerns you have to ask your visiting midwife or health visitor as they usually arrive as the most random of times and you forget everything you wanted to ask in your I'm sorry I'm still in my PJ's knackered state, (FYI, they honestly don't care if you're still in your PJ's so don't stress yourself out unnecessarily!)

A Support Network

They say it takes a village to raise a child and in my experience it takes a whole flipping community of family and friends, both online and of course in real life. It took a few weeks after Elsie was born to realise that I wasn't being realistic when I thought I could manage the life we had before and our new baby. Asking for help just wasn't me and when it was offered I was a little embarrassed.

It was if I looked like a failure when Mum arrived to change our bed, tidy up the flat and leave with bags of washing. I felt as if I looked lazy with my Mother in Law arrived to cook us dinner with piles of ironed clothes leaving with bags more to do. But this is normal and if it wasn't for the oodles of help that we got back then and continue to receive every single day I honestly don't think we'd be doing half as well as we are today. If someone offers to help, take it gracefully and enjoy it. Adjusting to this new life is hard and the less overwhelmed you are with the everyday stuff, the more you can focus on your recovery and taking care of that all important new bundle of pure squidgy love.

If you're about to embark on this crazy wonderful new parent lark for the first, second, third, whatever time, wishing you all the love and luck in the world. Remember to look after yourself and know that even though it doesn't feel like it most of the time, you're doing blooming amazing. 

Thank you so much to La Roche Posay for your kind gift. As always, all opinions are my own and I only share things I honestly love and believe others will too.
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30 May 2017

From Bump to Baby Number Two...

After a very long two day induction, (again without any pain relief until my waters had to be broken, a procedure that will forever leave me wincing every time I set eyes on a small hook. I'll share all the details at some point. Lucky you!) on Sunday 7th May at 4.09am, the Hubster and I welcomed our second daughter, Billie Rose Albury into the world weighing a perfect 7lbs 1oz and we couldn't be more in love.

The last three weeks have been a complete blur, trying to adjust to life with two babies under two, which of course means working on a constant carousel of changing nappies, feeding, cuddles and comforting each one in turn. How the bloody hell do people do this with twins? Or triplets. Or numerous small people all of whom aren't sleep-potty-or unable to communicate what the actual heck it is that they want-trained. How do those people manage? Because for me, it most definitely is a whole new mine field just getting everyone down the stairs in once piece in the morning, let alone navigating through an entire bloody day.

Even though the weeks are flying past, I'm yet to be on my own with both of them for longer than a morning. I've been making mental notes on how I can muster up some sort of routine with the two of them and I've been planning, with military precision, as to exactly how I'll ever leave the house by myself with the both of them. Ideally with all of us fed, watered and wearing something that doesn't resemble pyjamas. A task I'm clearly putting off for as long as possible. But with most things, I'm hoping that the thought of it is actually worse than the reality. She really really hopes

But in all honesty, life with a newborn is already very different the second time around. Everyone said it would be, but having only ever known the baby who never slept from the moment she burst into this world with her extremely healthy set of lungs, it was hard to envision life being anything but painfully exhausting again. However in true second child style, Billie has subtly nestled into our lives with ease, giving us all the opportunity to adjust and adapt to our new way of life quite nicely, something that we all really needed, particularly Elsie.

Sadly, she didn't take the arrival of her little sister too well at first, something that I'll talk more about another time. Elsie's reaction to Billie's homecoming was heartbreaking and it still brings tears to my eyes when I think back to how upset and disrupted she was that first night we brought her little sister home. But Billie has allowed us to give Elsie the attention she needs to feel supported and safe during this unsettling time. Something that we are certain would be a very different scenario if Elsie had been the second baby to arrive.

With her big blue eyes and beautiful dainty features, Billie is an absolute breath of fresh air. Her hair is immaculately shaped around her perfect little face. She has the longest fingers and her nails were neatly rounded as if she'd had a little manicure before her arrival. Her feet are really long too and we already call them her flippers. She's so chilled and calm and is easily comforted as long as she's been fed and winded.  She doesn't like being moved if she's in a comfortable sleep and will cry out as if to say, "leave me alone, I'm quite happy here thanks!"  She is a delicate rose who has immediately restored harmony and balance within our little family and we are so in love and content.

Each day feels a little easier and surprisingly life is so much more normal than it was the first time around, even though the time and the days seem to run away without me even more than before. My arms are constantly full with one of the girls, which is altogether wonderful, but also really hard. I'm learning how to manage our new life, particularly how to give each one enough of my time and attention that means neither misses out. Something that I'm sure no parent ever feel that they achieve successfully. Have I played with Elsie enough today? Have I stared at every detail of my new daughter's face enough, just like I did with Elsie? Have I taught Elsie anything new today? Have I cuddled Billie enough today and made the most of her newborn size. Snuggled her up on my chest and breathed in her beautiful new scent enough? The thoughts are endless, but deep down I know I'm doing my best and I know that we're going to be more than alright.  
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26 April 2017

Gestational Diabetes...A Survival Guide

Having had Gestational Diabetes during both my pregnancies, I've scoured the internet a fair bit for as much information as possible, but I've never had much luck when it comes to finding advice that comes from woman who have actually experienced it themselves.

I appreciate that it isn't all that interesting, but during pregnancy everything is heightened and when you're worried about pretty much everything anyway, it's reassuring to know that you aren't the only one having to test your blood four times a day, inject yourself with insulin and accept that you can't eat or drink anything fun whatsoever for nine months, otherwise you'll have to squeeze a giant baby out of your foof. Excellent. So I've put together my own Gestational Diabetes Guide to help any fellow Mumma-to-be's who too are currently enjoying this ever so tedious and annoying aspect of pregnancy. 

What Is Gestational Diabetes?

It's a type of diabetes that affects pregnant women, usually in the later stages of pregnancy, but sometimes earlier if diagnosed with it during previous pregnancies, like moi. Our bodies naturally produce insulin to break down the levels of glucose in our blood. During pregnancy our bodies are producing such high levels of crazy hormones that these can sometimes effect the way your body uses and produces insulin, so therefore your body is overloaded with sugars if it isn't given the right amount of insulin to break it down.

Too much sugar isn't good for you and it definitely ins't good for a growing baby which is why your diet needs to be controlled and in some cases medication, (additional insulin), is required to help keep your glucose levels in order.

The Downsides

By having GD, particularly when not managed properly, your baby is at risk of a whole host of scary things such as growing too large, developing diabetes later in life, obesity, problems during birth, prematurity, low blood sugar levels after birth and few other things which can be found here.

Your pregnancy will from now on be monitored by a specialist team which will also potentially result in early induction or a c-section, dependant on invidual circumstances. Say goodbye to those lovely birth plans and visions of a water birth as you'll be having a consultant-led birth from now on. Yep. I cried too when I was first told this...well sobbed if I'm honest. 

You are also now at higher risk of having Type 2 Diabetes in later life. Brilliant.

You'll have to monitor your blood sugar levels at least four times a day. Talk about boring and bloody annoying. My fingers look as if I've spent a considerable amount of time trying to find a piece of hay in a stack of needles.

You could potentially have to inject yourself with insulin more than once every day. It will take time to practice doing this with confidence as well as finding a part of your body that is comfortable and manageable to inject so that the insulin flows easier into your blood stream. My legs at one point looked as if a boxer had used them as a punching bag, it was gross. It took a while to realise that the insulin wasn't leaving my legs properly so was forming bruises and lumpy pockets of un-dispersed insulin in my legs. Attractive. 

I couldn't bring myself to inject my tummy so have now moved on to my butt cheeks which seems to be working fine and to be honest, no one wants to look back there currently anyway so I'm not too worried as to how it's looking. As long as my bloods are balanced, that's all that matters.

Another downside to injecting insulin is the risk of having a 'hypo' if you don't eat regularly. Hypoglycaemia- when your blood sugar levels drop too low and you feel all light headed and faint. I've come over all funny on a few occasions and had to scurry around for something high in sugar  to bring your sugar levels back up to normal, which is moronic in itself seeing as you've been keeping away from anything remotely high in sugar!

Having gestational diabetes feels exactly like you're attending fat club during that one actual time in your life when you were looking forward to shedding the food guilt for a while. OK so we are all (mostly) wise enough these days to know that being pregnant doesn't give you a free pass to eat a dozen doughnuts in one sitting or hit the drive through every single day. Calories, fat and sugar don't sail through your system without skimming the sides just because you're cooking a tiny human. Oh no, what you eat during pregnancy is really important for the growth and development of your unborn sprog, not to mention that aftermath of having a baby (if you've been there before, you'll know the squidgy-everything-kind-of-goes-saggy-sage post-pregnancy I'm talking about!) and having GD literally means no cheeky syns or cheat days allowed. Aren't we lucky.

Well in a couple of ways, yes we are and I don't say that lightly trust me.

The Benefits 

You're protecting your baby. It's better to know early on that your pregnancy and baby require a lot of additional care and consideration rather than not knowing at all, or it being too late to do anything about it.

You will both receive additional care and support throughout your pregnancy which means additional growth scans to monitor baby and you'll be seen by a specialist team of midwives, nurses and consultants who are dedicated to ensuring you have the healthiest pregnancy and baby possible, providing you follow the level of care advised.

It's an education. Everything you learn in terms of managing a well balanced, low sugar diet is a life long benefit for both you and your new family who sadly are now at higher risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes in the future, so it's sensible to embrace these changes and adapt them post-pregnancy too.

Managing Gestational Diabetes Through Diet

There's absolutely no hiding from the fact that having Gestational Diabetes means you have to manage/cut down/avoid all Sugar (Simple Carbohydrates) and Starchy (Complex Carbohydrates) foods.

This is the hardest aspect of having GD, particularly if you only crave sweets stuff or carbs, so you might as well suck it up now.

As with all diets and metabolisms, foods work and react differently for everyone. I've sat in my diabetic antenatal waiting room for hours listening to some pregnant woman fret over high blood levels from just having plain oat cakes and cottage cheese for breakfast, whilst others have sat their sipping fizzy drinks seemingly without a care in the world. It's a constant frustrating battle, particularly when you're feeling so blooming hungry.

This is the probably the biggest headache when it comes to gestational diabetes, what works for you one day won't necessarily work the next day. Your hormone levels are working overtime in fits and waves through your pregnancy and there are various points when these peak (around the 28 week mark I was advised) throughout baby's growth spurts and developmental milestones so what you ate one day might not keep your bloods low the next day. Totes annoying. 

What foods work for me might not work for you and visa versa, plus I have Coeliac Disease so I stick to a gluten free diet anyway (double shite balls hey) so am already restricted in certain areas, but I thought it might be useful to have a few food suggestions that I've been enjoying (she says through gritted teeth) and experimenting with during my pregnancy...

Snack Suggestions
  • Humous, humous, humous...I live on the stuff. 
  • Avocados 
  • Cheese & Gherkins (typical pregnant chick) 
  • Oat Cakes 
  • Mini Breadsticks 
  • Crispbreads with humous or cottage cheese 
  • Corn cakes (a tastier alternative to Rice Cakes) 
  • Obvious healthy choices such as cucumber, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli etc. All usually dipped in humous. 

Meal Suggestions 
  • Bolognese- homemade- no pre-made sauces- swap the pasta for Kale or Salad 
  • Salmon- I've tried all of these recipes and served with minimal portion or rice or new potatoes. 
  • Sausages- my favourite recipe is Jamie Oliver's Cherry Tomato Sausage Bake. just go easy on the mash potato when serving yours up. 
  • Eggs on toast with bacon and avocado
  • Omelette and salad
  • For more meal ideas check out Tommys.org

Medicated Gestational Diabetes 

Unlike my first pregnancy where I managed my GD solely through a healthy diet up until the final few weeks where I had to take Metformin tablets with my evening meal, I've had a completely different experience this time around. Despite attempting to manage it through diet this time around, my bloods weren't having any of it from early on so I've been on Insulin with my evening meal and before bed to stabilise my fasting sugar levels over night since the very beginning of this pregnancy. 

This has been a real eye-opener in terms of what having GD for the rest of my life would be like and it's not pretty and it certainly isn't fun. It's definitely changed my outlook on the foods I eat and the lifestyle I lead. For the moment I can see a light at the end of the tunnel as once baby arrives, it should go away, but there is a good chance it might rear it's ugly head again in the future and will stick around forever, which I'll be gutted about it. 

There's no denying that Gestational Diabetes is a frustrating and worrying chore, but there really isn't much one can do about it except play by the rules, listen to the specialists and just hope that baby is born healthy and safely, which is of course your main priority throughout this entire experience. 

Despite having watched every episode of ER and Gray's Anatomy, I'm not medically trained and all the information I've included in the post is what I've learned from my midwife, diabetic consultant and personal experience. Please refer to your specialist for any specific medical reference or head over to the Gestational Diabetes section on Tommys.org for more information. 
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14 April 2017

Review: The New Monsters Range From Fisher-Price

If there's one thing every parent has in common, aside from keeping you child alive of course, is the daily task of keeping those little energetic sprogs entertained each and every day. We're constantly torn between visiting yet another play park or gearing up the energy to do something as adventurous as swimming or soft play, and if you're feeling particularly brave, baking cakes or finger painting- Eek! It's an endless but inevitable part of parenting and when you're dealing with tiny humans with short attention spans it can all get a little bit exhausting, especially when, some days all you want to do is stay at home and hang out with your little pickles.

Which is why I'm always up for trying out new toys and gadgets in the hope that we can enjoy more mornings or afternoons at home. More so now than ever as my pregnant trotters are starting to swell and all I really want to do is have five minutes peace to drink a hot cup of tea and put my feet up. So when Fisher-Price asked us to review their brand new Monsters range, this waddling Mumma of course said yes and ran to put the kettle on. 

In A Nut-Shell 

Full of colour, quirkiness and fun these little monsters are designed to introduce your baby to a range of emotions, expressions and feelings as well as developing baby's senses. 

The Fun Feelings Monster (£9.99) with it's bright rolling face which changes emotions from happy, to sad, to surprised. It plays a funny sound to represent each emotion when baby rolls it around. 

The Hungry Monster Maze (£19.99) includes six colourful discs for baby to slot into the monster's head and then watch them roll into his belly and down his tail as it makes funny chomping sounds and his eyes light up. 

Lastly the Press n' Go Monster Vehicle (£14.99) will get babies moving as they press down the monster's funny head and watch it whizz across the floor.

What Baby Thought 

Like most baby's, anything new and colourful is always bound to catch their attention. Our little people want to explore new things, particularly ones that they are allowed to touch so Elsie was thrilled to be handed over three new brightly coloured new contraptions to figure out and enjoy.

Her particular favourite is the Hungry Monster Maze. She's always had pretty good fine motor skills so she loved slotting the discs into the monster's head with ease, scooping them up from his tail and starting all over again. 

What surprised me the most about her interaction with the toys was how quickly she figured out how each one worked. I didn't really have to demonstrate how each Monster worked, which to me was a clear sign that perhaps she was a little too old for this range. She mastered each Monster so quickly that it suddenly dawned on me that our little girl isn't so little anymore.

What Mummy Thought 

This isn't in any way a criticism on the toys themselves as perhaps six months ago Elsie would have been less mobile and would therefore get more enjoyment from each product.  I can definitely see how much fun these toys would be to a younger baby, and the guidelines suggest from six months old, so it all depends on each individual baby's interactive stage. 

These Monsters would make a great first birthday gift for babies who are needing entertaining at the sitting and crawling stage so I'm definitely looking forward to enjoying these toys again at a later stage with baby number two. 

They come with batteries. I know I've mentioned this before but there really is nothing more frustrating than having to hunt down batteries to make a toy work after you've spent a good ten minutes of your life hacking away at the packaging, so this is always a bonus in my book. 

My initial thoughts were perhaps that they were priced a little high for what they did, but on reflection I was looking at them from the wrong angle. Elsie has moved on so quickly to the next stage of learning and interaction that I hadn't even realised that we needed to change the way we entertain her. It was fun seeing her explore something new and talking her through all the different types of expressions and emotions which we both enjoyed. What is lovely is that I could really see her enjoying these particular toys again in a few months time with her brand new sibling showing them how each monster worked and encouraging them to play with her. 

Disclosure: We were kindly sent the featured products for the purpose of this review. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible and keep the sprog entertained whilst I enjoy a hot cup of tea. 
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13 April 2017

Elsie Belle at 18 Months Old...Entering The Toddler Territory

So you made it through the first year in a sleepless blur of winding, milk dilemmas and weaning woes thinking that you've finally got this baby lark down when boom! a cocktail sausage comes flying across the room and hits you straight on the boob! The source of flying cocktail sausage has come from your fully fledged toddler who wanted a BabyBel, and not said cocktail sausage, which she'd been given and then lobbed across the room in a raging temper. Goodbye baby days, hello emotionally inept mentally irrational toddler territory! 

As if life wasn't stressful enough already being one big hazard perception test, where you are constantly on edge trying to foresee any potential life endangering threats that your child is seemingly on the hunt for, (seriously when did doors, drawers, steps and windows become such dangerous heart stopping standard household features?) you now have to contend with the fact that you will be playing the longest game of charades and there is no sodding prize for realising that she wants her water in the pink cup, not the purple one before all hell breaks loose. Except of course that your ears might get a 45 second break from the whingeing if you figure this out in time. If not, take cover. 

Aside from the mini tantrums, and I''m fully aware that these are due to increase, peak, surprise and test us big time over the course of the next few years, life has altogether just got more amazing. She's evolving into this wonderful person who keeps us all entertained and laughing every day and I'm constantly having to try and stop and really appreciate the character she is becoming. 

She's now showing us all the love and adoration that we had so long been yearning for throughout those baby days, where all you wanted was a hug back or kiss from her to be reassured that everything you were doing was right on track; That alone is priceless for a new parent. There's nothing quite like the feeling you get when your baby finally chooses to wrap it's arms around your neck and hold you so tight like you're the most important thing in the world to them. It sure does make up for the lack of sleep and ducking from flying objects that have offended her in some way or another.

So here you are little Miss Elsie Belle. Eighteen months old.

You love telling everyone and anyone who your Mumma and Dadda are which is altogether very lovely and also very much like having a walking, talking name badge. 

Your speech is slowly coming on, not helped by the fact that you are growing more attached to your 'num num' (dummy) which I'm reluctant to take away just as your sibling is about to arrive. You are also quite fond of watching us frantically guess what it is that you're actually trying to say or want us to get for you. You have this hilarious range of tones for each word you say and your current favourite words are no (or na), door, iPad, burp, pop, more, bowl, Ed (Sheeran, yep you now say his name) boobies, (which you learnt in the swimming pool and enjoyed repeating very loudly!) oh, and purple. 

Purple is your favourite colour. We think it is anyway. Either that or it's just the only colour you actually like saying despite us constantly correcting you that everything in the world sadly isn't the colour purple.

To say that you're obsessed with Peppa Pig is quite an understatement. If your snack isn't in your Peppa bowl or we try and talk you out of reading the longest blooming 'Goodnight Peppa' book before bed you kick off. It's the only thing you want to watch on TV (which is great in some ways because Mr Tumble is a tad annoying and don't even get us started on that wet blanket of a rabbit Bing!) But whether we like it or not, it looks as if Peppa will be a permanent feature in our family for quite some time. 

You are a whizz on the iPad which is altogether impressive and worrying. You swipe between apps quicker than your Nana can unlock her phone and read one text message. You're a pro when it comes to putting on your current favourite Ed Sheeran tune (Castle On The Hill) and then flick between puzzles which you've aced with ease before searching YouTube and watching endless Peppa Pig episodes. We then have the dilemma of tearing you away from it so that your eyes can have a break which is always fun. There have been a few concerning encounters when you've been watching grown men pretend to be Peppa Pig characters and there was a close call when you almost ordered a seductive cowgirl costume on Amazon. Apart from that you're pretty much destined to be a technical genius before the age of two.

You're brilliant at hiding. Honestly, when you don't want to do something, like have your nappy changed, you run to the other side of the room whispering 'hide' with your hands over your face, eyes peeping through your fingers, and it's as if you've disappeared. You clever thing! 

The head butt is an occasional reaction of yours when life just isn't going your way. As in your welly boot just isn't playing ball and slipping onto your foot as you would like or you've been given the wrong snack because we aren't mind readers and we failed to guess the right snack you were after in time. Silly us.

You hate the swings. While every other sprog is laughing with glee at being pushed backwards and forwards through the air, you sit there with an expression that resembles that of being put on the naughty step. 

You are a little fiery and in some ways we love this about you. You know what you want and what you don't, but you also listen when we explain to why you can't do certain things and you usually swiftly move on.

You embrace the world around you and we love watching you take everything in with your wise eyes. Life is a game and you get so much joy out of learning, playing, entertaining and just being with others. You don't like being alone and that's OK because we all adore having you with us. 

You give the best hugs and the worst kisses- which mainly involves biting our noses. We've started to teach you how to give 'bunny kisses' with our noses to encourage you not to take keep trying to take a chunk out of our faces and so far that seems to be working. 

You are an absolute joy to be around and even though your sleeping is still as unpredictable as ever, you inject so much fun and light into each and every single day. Your Dadda and I always end each day re-telling stories from things you've done or said or learnt from that day. We sit and scroll through photographs and videos that the other might have missed, beaming with so much pride and love for you darling girl that I wonder if it's possible for hearts to actually burst. Thank you for being you. Thank you for being ours and thank you for continuing to teach us how to love unconditionally and wholeheartedly. You will always be by far our greatest achievement. Now if you would just try and sleep through the night that would make life even better...! 
read more " Elsie Belle at 18 Months Old...Entering The Toddler Territory "