Sunday, 19 March 2017

Mother's Day Gift Guide



1. Moomin Mama Mug £17 from Amara (they have lots of other designs too, I need them all to hang from hooks above my breakfast bar, right?)  //  2. Luxury Large Vegan Gift Basket £31.99 from The Dirty Vegans (how amazing does this look! I can't imagine a more relaxing gift.)  //  3. Nobody Told Me: Poetry and Parenthood by Hollie McNish £6.29 from Amazon (I need this book. I love Hollie McNish a lot.)  //  4. Mother's Day Box £20 from A Kind Mama (how amazing do these donuts look? I need them in my life. Also, the brownies.)  //  5. Selfish Mother Sweatshirt £50 from John Lewis (it wouldn't be a Mother's Day gift guide without one of these, would it?) 

So, buy me all of the above, please, thank you.

This is a collaborative post. 

Friday, 10 March 2017

5 Things I Want To Do This Summer



I'm in summer mode. I have been leaving the house without a coat, I have been eating ice-cream and I bought a dungaree dress. I am all over summer. Obviously, it's not summer yet which is the only thing holding me back. It was half not term not long ago and we had the best time. I am constantly terrified of becoming one of those people who doesn't do things because of being a parent. It's too easy to use your kids as an excuse not to do something. When Ebony was a baby, we just took her along with us. 

With two kids, that's a little more difficult, especially when they have such different needs because of the age gap. But, I'm still determined to Not Be One Of Those Mums. It's tricky striking a balance between that and trying to do too much only to end up regretting it. I could have taken the kids down to London during half term but in the end decided it might be a bit much. So instead, we did as much as we could without straying too far from my comfort zone. And it was great. Ebony had a really lovely week off, Ember loved having her big sister around and I ended the week feeling pretty damn smug about how I was getting on as a mother of two. 

With a successful half-term tucked securely under my belt, my mind is now busy thinking up fun things to do during the summer holidays. Five whole weeks of free time. By then, Ember will be well and truly on the move which will complicate things slightly, but I'm hoping we'll be able to find plenty of things to do that they'll both enjoy. Here are a few of the things I have planned:

1. Bike rides
Ebony can ride her bike now so I'd love to take her on a proper bike road. And since she won't be needing that bike seat on the back of Laurie's bike anymore, Ember can perch happily in there. I have no bike and am not particularly gifted on two wheels, in all honesty, I would be much better suited to electric bikes because peddling and steering seems to be too much for me, but I will give it a go. 

2. The beach
One of my favourite days ever was when I took Ebony to the beach. I picked her up early from preschool and we got about eight zillion trains and walked for 3000 miles and then spent the afternoon eating a picnic on Formby beach. It was a really hot day and it was just perfect. We splashed in the sea, we built sandcastles and we dug holes in the sand. I want to do that again this summer. 

3. Camping 
Laurie got a tent for his 30th, I think we managed to go camping three times before the winter set in that year. Last year we didn't go once because I was pregnant, so I want to make up for it this year. I am already planning the places we can go and the things we can do. I know it will be hard work with a crawling baby but I think both the girls will love. 

4. Forest Walks
I love going for walks. I've been taking Ebony on long walks through forests since she first learned how to toddle. We went for a forest walk during half-term and had the best time. Ember had a snooze in the sling while Ebony climbed trees, jumped in the mud and ran wild and free. I have a book of outdoor forest school activities so I'm hoping we can work our way through that during the summer. 

5. Museums 
We didn't make it to any museums during half-term. We ususally do, but I decided it would be hard work with a baby who would eventually tire of being in the sling and a five-year-old who probably wouldn't want to sit in the baby area for very long. I'm going to make sure we go to museums in the summer. I love having a day out in Manchester and the cinema will probably be impossible with a nearly-one-year-old so I think we'll focus on museums instead. 

This is a collaborative post. 

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Baby Summer Dresses I Love



1. Painfully Adorable Rainbow dress £15.20 // 2. On Trend Cactus Dress (I am majorly feeling the cactus love right now) £11.20 // 3. Peter Pan Collar Dress (How cute?) £17.60 // 4. Chambray Leaf Dress £12 // 5. White Daisy Dress £5

If you're buying anything from Debenhams, make sure you check for Debenhams voucher codes on Codesium. They currently have a 10% discount code so grab yourself a bargain. 

I know it's technically not summer yet, but I can see the sun shining outside my window so I don't think it's too early to start thinking about these things. We're going on holiday in a few months and, despite having bags of baby clothes for her to grow into, I've already started buying bits for Ember to wear on holiday. I walked into Next with a £50 gift card the other day and left with a bag full of summer clothes. I cannot be stopped. I am a summer fanatic moving at speed towards my summer holiday. I got a couple of dresses for Ebony too and have spent the past few weeks arguing with her about whether she can wear them to the park yet (she can't, it's arctic out there, she doesn't care).

The rainbow dress is my absolute favourite. If I hadn't recently had a baby, it would probably make my ovaries explode. I am fighting the urge to buy it on account of the fact I have no money, but the voice in my head is growing louder and more insistent that buying it will bring me all kinds of joy. We have a couple of weddings this year and I feel like maybe this is the dress Ember needs to wear to one of them. Right?

One of my favourite things about having a second child is that we have a little more freedom clothes-wise this time around. With Ebony, we had to buy everything so when she moved up a size, we had to get a whole wardrobe of clothes in a short space of time which meant cost was a factor. This time around, we have all of Ebony's old clothes plus a bundle of hand-me-downs from a very lovely friend so Ember wants for nothing. That means if I see something and love it, I can usually afford to treat her (Laurie would probably disagree with this statement...).

This is a collaborative post. 

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Goodbye, Pregnancy Symptoms

Pregnancy symptoms, you either love 'em or you hate 'em. Just kidding, everyone hates them. What kind of person would love throwing up all the time, getting stretch marks and having heartburn? Nobody loves those things. They are things to be endured on the journey to motherhood. I hated being pregnant the first time but found the second time much easier. Perhaps because I am older and wiser (so wise, guys). Perhaps because I knew it would be worth it. Perhaps because I wasn't anxious about the birth (totes should have been). Perhaps because I was so busy napping I didn't have time to hate being pregnant. For whatever reason, I loved it. And now I miss it, sometimes, just some of the things. Not the waddling or the breathlessness or the general feeling of whale-ness, but somethings. Here are just a few of the symptoms I have said goodbye to: 

Goodbye, Hair
I think my favourite thing about pregnancy is the hair. Not the stuff that grows where it shouldn't, but the abundance of shiny hair atop my head. I don't really remember the extra hair when I was pregnant with Ebony, I think I was too busy Being Exhausted And Miserable to notice any of the good pregnancy symptoms. But, with Ember, I noticed. All of a sudden, my hair was thicker than ever before. I am most definitely a thick-haired woman trapped in the miserable body of a woman with thin hair. I loved it. A lot. It took ages to dry after a shower but it was worth it. 

After my first pregnancy, I didn't notice my hair falling out for quite a while. And when it did, it fell out slowly. Not this time. This time basically my entire head of hair came out in one bath. The most terrifying bath ever. Ember was in the bath with me and she ended up completely tangled in loose hairs. I had to pick them out from between her fingers and toes. It was almost enough to make me consider immediately having another baby (for the hair, obvs) or having Advanced Tricho Pigmentation Treatment

I must have lost half the hair on my head during that bath. Now I am back to just having my usual three hairs and it's depressing. I'm probably saving a fortune in conditioner and I'm definitely saving a lot of time. 

Goodbye, Restricted Diet
I turn into the world's fussiest eater when I'm pregnant. Not deliberately, of course. I get this awful taste in my mouth which lasts approximately nine months and can only eat a small selection of foods to get rid of it. If I eat the wrong thing, the taste multiplies and makes me want to die. And so I eat curries. All the curries. So many curries. And jelly. I don't know why jelly, but that's basically all I ate during the pregnancy. Curry and jellies, but never curried jellies. Though I totally would have if that was a thing. 

Goodbye, Stretching
One of the worst things about pregnancy is that constant feeling of stretching you get from about 16 weeks onwards. The skin on my bump felt tight constantly as though I could feel it stretching apart. It was horrible. But, admittedly, it looked better than the deflated sagged balloon I'm left with now. It is hard to choice which is the lesser of those two evils, the constant stretching or the wrinkly ball bag hanging where my midriff once was. 

Goodbye, Me-Time
This one wasn't so much a pregnancy symptom, as one of the perks of pregnancy. Not only can you nap whenever you like, you will also be given plenty of time to yourself. You can use this time for napping, if you like. I napped, read books, wrote, bathed and relaxed. It was lovely. It's basically society's way of preparing you for the fact that you won't have a second to yourself for the next twelve months. 

I now have no me-time. None whatsoever. For the first few weeks after the birth, I did manage to have a bath every day. Who would begrudge a woman with a painful undercarriage such a basic right? But now, not so much. Ember likes to be held all the damn time. The other day I put her down so I could pee and she immediately fell over and banged her head on the floor then looked at me as if to say 'See what happens when you neglect me' whilst screaming. I was mid-pee. The bump has since turned into a bruise which she thrusts in my direction each time I so much as think about having a wee. 

Goodbye, Clumsiness
Pregnancy basically turns me into goofy. A giant lovable idiot with an inability to avoid precarious situations. We decorated our bedroom in May and Ember was born at the end of August. During that time, I had a massive brown bruise just below both knees from walking into the corner of the new bed. I bashed into it every single time I walked past it. I walked into doorframes, supermarket shelves and pedestrians. I dropped things. I cut myself. I banged my head a lot. I have a friend who has a habit of warning me when there are steps, even when I'm going down the stairs, as you might for a frail elderly woman. I always thought this was slightly ridiculous until I got pregnant and fell down the stairs, then I wondered why she hadn't warned me to be careful on the stairs that day. 

What pregnancy symptoms do you miss and which were you happy to see the back of? 

This is a collaborative post. 

Monday, 27 February 2017

Making The Most of a Small Bathroom


Our bathroom is tiny. Like, really small. I loved the house so much when we looked around that I convinced myself it was ‘just normal size’ and that we had been spoilt by our bathroom at the old house which was big. But, erm, no, it’s just small. It makes me miss the old bathroom, though the rest of the house makes up for it (apart from the conservatory which is terrible).
When we did work on the house last year, we made a couple of small changes to the bathroom to try and maximise the space. It has made a huge difference, it’s still a small room but it feels less claustrophobic now. Here are a few tried and tested tips for making the most out of a small bathroom:
  1. Invest in a clever shower screen
    When we moved in, the shower screen was a huge rectangle of glass that jutted out up to the toilet and meant you had to contort your naked body into crazy shapes just to try and step in the shower without falling over the toilet. It was most annoying. We replaced it with a glass screen that folds away when not in use. It has made the room feel much more open and has made a huge difference to how big the room feels as you walk in.

  2. Choose space-saving items
    If you don’t have much in the way of space, it’s important to choose items that will work in the room. I learnt this lesson the hard way when I had to fit two giant sofas into a rental house. Our bath isn’t full-size, it is plenty big (unless you’re nine months pregnant and then it’s a bit of a squeeze) but a little smaller than your average bath. Measure your room and take a look at the baths on offer at Better Bathrooms to see what would work in your bathroom.

  3. Create some storage space
    Bathrooms are full of bottles and toilet rolls and towels, so it’s important to have some storage space available to minimise clutter. Last summer, we changed the sink for a vanity unit which has two huge drawers underneath it. It’s a lot wider than our old sink so I was worried that it might make the room feel smaller but it hasn’t at all. And the drawers hide all our clutter perfectly.

  4. Let there be light
    A light room is a bigger room, that’s what I say. We’re not responsible for any of the light in the bathroom, but there’s a big window and four spotlights and they help to make the room feel less tiny. Choosing a light coloured suite can also add light to the room.

  5. Think about layout
    We didn’t do this because we only added a few bits to the existing bathroom. If we had the money to completely redo it, I would have ripped everything out and gotten rid of the beige tiles that line the walls and floors. I hate those beige tiles. I want a white bathroom (but not enough to tile a whole bathroom, no matter how small it might be). Sob. If we could start from scratch, I would definitely change the layout of the room to try and create a better flow.

This is a collaborative post.

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