21 August 2017

The Extension...The Renovation Project Part Two

The one thing that probably swayed me the most when deciding to put an offer on the house was the moment we discussed the idea of building an extension onto the back of it. I've always dreamed of having a kitchen that could be the heart of the house. The place where we could socialise with family and friends over food and drinks. Space where, as a family, we would make plans, chat about our days and share a heart to heart over tea, biscuits and hugs.

A good-sized family kitchen is the dream. So we decided to go for it.

You know those families on Grand Designs? Who you see a year later and they are still sitting on a building site, looking tired, stressed and are eating dried beans because their project is bleeding them dry. Well that's us. Ok, so it's not really us. We're not really living off beans...just yet, but the rest is definitely us. The only difference here is we don't have some know-it-all property expert giving us advice and telling us that we were being a tad optimistic about the budget and our six-month project in the first place.

Looking back now we could never really afford this dream kitchen. We've spent months torturing ourselves about this decision. How naive we were as to how long it would take to build. Realising too late what a huge impact it would have on getting the rest of the house renovated. How unrealistic we were in terms of how much it would cost us: financially, mentally and physically. If we hadn't decided to go ahead with this extension then we would have definitely been comfortably living in the house by now, minus a ton of grey hairs and stress-related wrinkles that's for sure.

Coulda, Woulda, Shouldas behind us, one thing is for sure, our dream kitchen is almost finished. Almost!  So as it's the main part of our renovation project I thought I would share this first.

The Extension

The Foundations

The extension is where all the fun began. Whilst we waited for our plans to be drawn up and sent to the council for approval, the Hubster hired a digger and spent one long weekend last summer, (yep, last summer) flattening our overgrown garden to become a make-shift builders yard for the mammoth project about to begin. Then began the task of digging the foundations in preparation for the extension.

The Extension- Outside

Once the foundations were completed and approved by the council, work could begin on the structure of the extension.

The Extension- Inside

As soon as the extension exterior and roof were complete, with a kitchen window, bi-fold doors and two Velux roof windows, work could then commence on the inside of the building. The original back kitchen door was knocked down and moved across to provide access to the utility room from the new kitchen. The original back garden doors could then be removed and steels were put in place to create a wider open planned space from the kitchen area through to the dining area.

Once these inside renovations were complete then work began on the walls and the floor of the extension. I appreciate that a lot more went into this process, but for the sake of keeping people interested, as I myself am beyond bored about talking about pipes and electrics, I'm skipping all that faff and going straight to the part where the walls were plastered because that part was way more exciting. 

The Kitchen

Ahh, the kitchen. The long awaited kitchen.  I'm planning to do a full post on the kitchen as soon as it is completed because, after all, the kitchen is the whole reason why we are not yet living in the house and it's the reason why we have aged about twenty years over the past year. It's almost done. We are finally at a point where we can say that we will be moving in a matter of weeks, not months now, weeks, but this all depends on our kitchen being completed. So in the meantime, here's a sneak peek at its work in progress!

It's been a very long road to building our home, but we're nearly there. All of which you can read about in Part One of Our Renovation Project

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14 August 2017

DIY: Baby's First Year Photo Collage

I can't actually believe that in two weeks time, Elsie Belle will be two years old. Two Years Old! Eek!

It suddenly dawned on me whilst busy planning and preparing for her second birthday celebrations, that I still had a few posts from her first birthday that I wanted to share. In the lead up to her first birthday, I spent a ridiculous amount of hours, usually in the dark at stupid o' clock, searching for ideas on Pinterest, (you can mooch my first birthday board here) in my quest at making her first one extra special. I wanted so badly to make the whole thing memorable and looking back now it was so daft as I almost gave myself a nervous breakdown trying to make every blooming DIY project I'd pinned to my board. Such a numpty.

Where do I start? Oh yes, first there was the incident with a marshmallow mix that was meant to make a batch of cute pink number ones. The sodding mix went rock hard within seconds, scalding my hand in the process, whilst I cried trying to squish the lumpy remains into number one moulds.  The whole thing cost me a small fortune and was a complete and utter waste of time and tears. OK so I didn't read the how to part very well and if you're curious, the marshmallow number ones were meant to look like this but looked like something a cat threw up instead. You don't need a photo of cat spew, I'm sure. 

I then attempted some fancy glittery vases, (see here for how the fancy glittery vases should have turned out) but I didn't have enough glitter and couldn't be arsed to wait for another forty-five packets (which I reckon would have been needed) to arrive to cover approximately eight vases, so mine were a poor half arsed attempt at creating some fancy table centre pieces. Ugh. 

Oh and I almost forgot to mention the "get your baby to make their own art" idea. I should have known this one would turn out to be a disaster before attempting it. This one went down a real hoot with Elsie having an absolute meltdown when I covered her hand in pretty pink paint. I had to finish the job of course about an hour after I'd managed to clean her up and calm her down. It's actually quite difficult trying to create art on behalf of a one-year-old, now matter how crap you are at art. 

I think you get the gist.

Most of it was totally unnecessary and Elsie for one will never really appreciate all the time, effort and tears that went into trying to theme her first birthday party perfectly. But there was one thing that I managed to create, quite successfully and it was inspired by this Baby's First Year Milestone Frame. It's something that I'm hopefully going to use every year for both the girls so I thought I would share my little DIY Milestone Frame seeing as I won't be showing off any jazzy marshmallow moulded numbers or glitzy centre pieces anytime soon. 

Baby's First Year Photo Collage

What You Will Need: 

  • A Frame- I looked everywhere for a distressed gold frame large enough for the photographs to fit comfortably and I eventually found the perfect one but as a mirror on sale from Dunelm. So we removed the mirror and just used the frame. Alternatively, you could buy a normal picture frame and remove the backing or if you're handy with a saw, make a custom made one to suit your theme or style.
  • Photographs- I ordered a batch of Retro Prints from Cheerz which worked perfectly as I could write a personalised caption under each photograph i.e. One Month Old etc. 
  • Jute Ribbon- which the photographs are positioned across the frame on. 
  • Pegs- miniature pegs to hold the photographs to the string, I picked these up from The Works
  • Decorative Roses- or any small decor item to suit your preferred colour scheme or theme.
  • Double Sided Sticky Tape/Drawing Board Pins- I opted for the drawing pins to hold the string in place.
  • Scissors- a standard requirement for pretty much all DIY's. 

DIY Steps:  

  • Take apart the back of your frame so that you are just left with the frame itself. 
  • Measure the ribbon that your photographs will hang from, going across the width of the frame leaving enough at each end for attaching it to the frame. Cut required amount of rows to fit frame comfortably, I had four rows of ribbon, each with three photographs attached. 
  • Spend some time lining up your photographs attached to the string. Make sure that each row of photographs leaves enough space for each row above and below it. TIP: I used blue tac to attached each row in position so I could keep lifted the frame to face me to check on the positioning of each row. 
  • Arrange your photographs along the ribbon in order, attaching them with the pegs to gauge the correct positioning. Once happy with this, remove the photographs in order to fix the ribbon to the frame.
  • Once you are happy with the positioning of each row, pin down one end of the ribbon, then pull tightly and twist the ribbon to form a secure string. This makes the jute ribbon stronger to hold the photographs. Pin the other end to the opposite side of the frame. 
  • Flip the frame over and begin re-positioning your photographs. FYI: The positioning of rows and photographs all took a little time to get right so patience and perhaps wine is needed at some point. 
  • Once happy with the photographs positioned, then you can begin decorating your frame! FYI: I had to use additional pegs to keep the roses in place. 

I was really pleased with how my frame turned out and I can't wait to use it again in a few weeks for Elsie's second birthday celebrations. Needless to say, I'll be keeping things a lot simpler this year...I've just ordered a truck load of Peppa Pig party supplies from the internet, no glitter or sodding glue required this year, whoop whoop!

If you liked this DIY post and want to save it for another time then Pin the image below to your Pinterest account...

For more baby's birthday ideas check out my previous posts: First Birthday Gift Ideas / Elsie's First Birthday...The Details

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10 August 2017

Life With Two Under Twos...

You've got your hands full. 

Yes, thank you so much for your helpful observation, I say to the stranger in my head. My face, on the other hand, is doing some sort of I can handle this, keep calm, expression trying not to swear aloud, whilst I wrestle my twenty-two-month-old monkey back in her side of the horse and cart, (aka, our double buggy) as she kicks and screams for the world and space to hear, "NO ME WALK MUMMA!" All the while the eight-week old newbie is crying as if she'd been left in a soggy wet cardboard box and never been fed in her life.

Yes, I suppose you could say that my hands are quite full.

The thing is with having two under twos is that you never quite know when it's all going to go tits up.
One moment you're sitting there peacefully admiring your little beauties, feeling like a goddess because you've created two amazing little beans and that you are totally winning at life. The next moment, the shit literally hits the fan and you don't know who to wipe up first or if it's acceptable to just sit and cry in the corner for just a bit longer.


I'd say on average that we encounter a scene, where they are both testing my Mumma skills to the limit,  at least two to three times a day. Sometimes more if we're all particularly sleep deprived/poorly/teething or just generally have a shite balls day. It's these moments where you well and truly feel the pressure of having two babies, under two years of age. I imagine that it's pretty much the same as having any amount of kids at any different ages, it's all bloody hard. Except when they are smaller, it just feels harder because they are all still so dependent on you.

Someone always needs feeding, cleaning, changing, attention, or cuddling and if those things aren't happening someone is always crying or disrupting a moment of peace with an unexpected thunder bolt in the shape of a toddler tantrum because you gave her a broken "bic bic" (biscuit...I know, what a silly Mumma, of course, a broken biscuit is totally unacceptable in the world of toddlers, duh!

Life with two under twos is so unpredictable and I knew it would be, but there really isn't any preparing for it. However much you worry, you literally have to wing it, all day every day. 

I spent a majority of my pregnancy with Billie worrying about how life would be with two babies. I wasted so much time feeling guilty that I was about to royally mess up the first born, just by giving her a sibling of all things and the rest of the time panicking about how the bloody hell I was going to manage. I'd sit in the bath sobbing, mostly because the water had gone cold and I didn't have the energy to try and hoist my whale size arse out of the tub, but also because I was torturing myself about how on earth I was going to cope with two babies. I was terrified.

I would send random messages to my friends who were already in the two small babies boat asking for advice and reassurance that I wasn't going to drown. Not in the bath obviously, there was sod all chance of that seeing as half my body wasn't even submerged in the tub, but once the baby arrived. I would ask them the most random of questions about life logistics that I was constantly torturing myself with: How do you all get ready in the morning? How do you manage bath time? How do you get everyone in the car? How do you cope? I just needed to know that we would be OK. 

Of course, they would send me amazing long replies filled with examples and advice that would temporarily ease my fears, but it only dawned on me once Billie arrived, that there aren't any real answers. You literally have to wing it, just like you've been doing ever since the moment you entered this crazy wonderful world of parenting.

We are all winging it. 

Every day different. Every hour is unpredictable. Anything can change in a minute and every child is unique. You can only do your best in the moment and don't be too hard on yourself when you have a cry as soon as everyone is finally strapped in their seats in the car or you need a few moments to breathe as soon as you're allowed to shower. 

I've had a few messages from some of my lovely Instagram friends who are about to have their second babies and their messages all follow a similar tone to those that I sent my friends before Billie arrived. So I thought I'd share just a few little tips that I've found helpful or discovered over the last few months...

  • Pack the bags the night before- a tip that my lovely midwife told me. It sounds like the simplest of tips, but I've really noticed that our mornings are so much more stressful when I haven't prepared our bags the night before. 
  • Snacks- stock up on a selection of healthy and naughty snacks that you can use according to the level of emergency or the current temperament of the toddler. Use them as distractions when feeding the new baby or tantrum deterrents. 
  • TV/iPad- don't hate it, embrace it and again use it when you need it. I can't stand the television on and I try to make a point of turning it off during the day as much as possible so that it serves its purpose as and when I need it throughout the day. 
  • Do one little thing for you every day- even if this means washing your hair, putting on makeup, or watching a program once they've both gone to sleep. Just really try and squeeze in something for you and appreciate that moment as a reward or a treat. Yesterday I wore an ironed top and did my make up. Win. Today I painted my nails, at 10.45pm. Win. And tomorrow I'm hoping to do a bit of work. A possible win.
  • Don't think about the things you haven't achieved- only think about the things you have achieved and if that has only involved keeping two small humans alive, then you have totally achieved something amazing that day. 
  • Embrace the help. This is something I still find hard to do and feel guilty about most days. I have a lot of help around me and it's taken me a while to realise that it does take a village to raise a sprog and now I have two sprogs I need all the help I can get. It doesn't mean I'm failing, it means I'm more balanced, less stressed and therefore everyone is happy. If the help is there, embrace it.

It's been three months now since I entered the two under two territory and I have to say, that I blooming proud of myself. I'm still learning how to manage us all on a daily basis and there are still moments every day where I have to take a moment to breathe (or cry) because it all gets too much sometimes. But mostly, we're doing just fine and unlike the first time around I give myself a daily reminder of just that...we are doing just fine
read more " Life With Two Under Twos... "

24 July 2017

Jumping in Muddy Puddles...

I owe Peppa Pig a lot.

Not only has that squeaky pink piggy given me several precious, priceless, moments extra sleep in the mornings, just enough time to ease myself out of the coma I'd undoubtedly fallen into after our usual disruptive nights. But she also saved me from having to jump in a muddy puddle wearing just my trainers. Oh no, Peppa says, "if you want to jump up and down in muddy puddles, you must wear your boots!" phew. Thanks Peppa, I owe you one, again.  

You see I've never been very good with dirt. I like things clean. As much as I'd like to be one of those outdoorsy types, I'm just not cut out for it. Even my one camping experience was cut short after I spent one night in a tent to watch the infamous Eclipse and woke up to find a bloody toad under my pillow. So that put a sharpish end to my tent stay and my want to ever try that out again. While we're on the subject of the Eclipse, we had to traipse through miles of smelly cow fields to risk our lives perching on the edge of a cliff just to watch the clouds through those groovy cardboard Eclipse safety sun glasses in the wind and rain. I wasn't impressed. But there were Pringles for breakfast, I remember that bit..see I told you I wasn't outdoorsy. 

I don't do dirt, I don't do animals, I don't do bugs and I really really don't do mud.

Last week when meeting a friend for a play date, she suggested that we still go for a walk even though it was planned for rain. My inner indoors clean freak had no excuses. Plus she promised coffee and cake, which won me over quite quickly. 

Shortly after the coffee and cake was consumed, (thank you lovely, it's definitely on me next time!) the heavens opened and we scrambled to get our babies and ourselves rain ready. Once suited and booted my friend gave the sprogs the go ahead to find the muddy puddles. Find the muddy what?! Oh, crap bags. This sounds messy. Getting muddy and wet are two things totally out of my comfort zone, which was evident from Elsie's response to this madness. She literally looked at me as if to say, really Mumma? I can do this?! 

Yep. All point to the bad Mumma. 

Up until this point, I honestly don't think that I'd let the child jump in a rainy muddy puddle. How bad is that? 

It's not that I haven't on purpose, I promise, it's just that when it rains, I'm the type of person who retreats inside and puts the kettle on, instead of thinking 'hey peeps, let's get our boots on and run outside to get wet and covered in mud!" Eek!

But her face. Oh her face was a picture that made my heart both burst and sink. She was so happy. It was like watching The Little Mermaid, the bit where she gets her legs and doesn't know quite what to do with them. So excited and so innocent the way that her face simply lit up with every splash, run and attempt at jumping. Yeah, she hasn't quite got the hang of jumping yet, but we'll get there. 

I think she couldn't believe that I wasn't pulling her away or wiping her hands clean. She was in her element and seeing that made me feel so guilty.

As parents, there are so many aspects of you that you want to instill in your child, but rarely do you think about the parts that you don't want them to become. As a child, I'm pretty sure that I was outside a lot of the time. We learned how to play with nothing except the space around us and our imaginations and as Elsie emerges from her baby stages into little girl territory, it's becoming apparent that I need to let her explore the world so much more. I don't want her to fear the outdoors like me, I want her to love it. I want her to have an abundance of interests and hobbies. I want her to know that there is so much more to the world than Peppa Pig on the television or Ben & Holly on her iPad. 

Just because as an adult I've chosen to prefer the indoors to the outdoors, I'm realising now that I need to let her experience as much as possible so that she can embrace the fun in everything life has to offer and if that starts with muddy puddles then so be it.

One day she wont even find muddy puddles as fun. One day she'll just want to spend rainy days alone in her bedroom while she messages friends or listens to music that I just don't get. One day she wont want to hold my hand and ask me to jump in muddy puddles. So I've decided that for her birthday, she's getting a puddle jumping suit, just like the one her buddy was wearing and from now on when it's raining, we're all going to put our boots on and jump in muddy puddles.

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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. 
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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... "