My worst day as a Mum…

Today was my worst day as a Mum and as I sit here eating my feelings (double chocolate cake from Patisserie Valerie no less…!) I am only just starting to let go of the stress & tension that I have carried with me all day. We are heading into a new adventure as a family, travelling the country on tour with a musical in a different venue every week. I didn’t go into this lightly; I knew it would be challenging to be away from home but I thought I might get a few more weeks in before the meltdowns began.

We started with a 6am wakeup call from a very excited Isla… we did our best to convince her to make it to her usual 7am but not quite… a short first nap and then we headed down to Manchester’s aquatics centre to check out the baby pool. A sweltering walk, baby wearing in the heat, all the way there only to discover the baby pool was closed but ‘the guy who updates the website isn’t in today…’. Good. Back we go. I got glass in my foot… And on it went…

Do you ever have those days where every little thing seems to go against you? Heavy doors slamming on you – making it impossible to get the pram inside, a screaming baby that keeps trying to pull your hair or pinch you no matter what you do to soothe them, a phone dying just as you need the maps the most – leaving you to ask strangers who all recommend you go in opposite directions… Yup. Now you see why I need the cake.

But what do you do when this tiny person relies on you to be an all knowing oasis of calm and comfort at every moment of the day? It’s taken me nearly a year to say, you know what… it’s ok. Sometimes you lose your temper in a public shopping centre when they bite you and make you bleed. Sometimes you just have to let them cry because you wouldn’t let them steal from the LEGO shop. Sometimes you can’t be the perfect mother. It’s taken me nearly a year to realise that’s just not a thing. But we survived. We made it back to the flat that I really can not find for the life of me no matter how many times I come here. We had dinner with no tantrums, a relatively calm bath & only a few tears at bedtime.

As she finally relaxed into my arms and gave up the fight she’d been battling all day, I told her how much I love her. Again and again. Almost as a, ‘Sorry I wasn’t good enough today’. But tomorrow is a new day & we’ll start again. I’ll try to be more patient, properly prepared, better organised… the list goes on.  For me that’s what being a Mother is; finding the strength when you thought you had no more to give.

For tonight I’m going to take a deep breath, which may well be my first of the day & keep telling myself ‘It’s ok’, while I resist the urge to google how many calories were in that giant piece of cake…

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Isla’s First Trip to the Beach

I couldn’t resist sharing a few of these with you! We took the opportunity to head down to Omaha Beach while visiting some friends in France. It was Isla’s first time on the beach and it was such a beautiful thing to witness.

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Both Nanny & I forgot the towels so we were just going to let Isla have a little paddle and go. Isla had other ideas. She instantly fell in love & wanted to go for a swim!

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We played in the shallow waves for as long as I could convince her to stay, but she kept trying to make a break for deeper waters!

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Isla would have stayed all day if we had let her, but without a sunshade or towels we had to cut the visit short!

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Eventually we gave in and stripped off her jeans to go for a deeper paddle before giving in completely and putting her in her totsbots swim nappy & swimsuit!

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The difference a filter makes… Haha! It actually looked like the final picture but I couldn’t resist a moodier edit on the shots from my camera!

I can’t wait till next time & I’ve promised Isla that we will come prepared for a whole day of splashing & sandcastles!

 

Little People, Big Dreams: Coco Chanel – Book Review!

If you follow us on Instagram you’ll know that Isla is obsessed with reading… We read 10+ books a day and she regularly becomes obsessed with certain books and makes me read them again and again… all… day…

I thought I’d start a monthly book review of our favourite new (or old!) titles for you to check out with your little one!

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Today’s new book came from the National Theatre Bookshop on the Southbank in London. It is ‘Coco Chanel’ from the ‘Little People, BIG DREAMS.’ series written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara with beautiful illustrations by Ana Albero.

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Isla & her friends are ready to dive in…

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In this new series, you can discover the lives of outstanding people from designers and artists to scientists. All of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. The first book follows Coco Chanel, from her early life in an orphanage – where she was a genius with needle and thread – to her time as a cabaret singer, hat maker and, eventually, international fashion designer. This inspiring and informative little biography comes with extra facts about Coco’s life at the back.

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The story encourages young girls (and boys!) to dare to be different, to be extraordinary and aim for the skies when it comes to their dreams. They introduce some incredible role models that I hope will inspire Isla for years to come.

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I don’t agree with limiting your child to the age limits that they put on toys & books – so I’d say you could enjoy this book with your little ones from birth to 10 years. The text is a great size for new readers to challenge themselves but not too much to feel daunting!

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Daddy helped Isla & her friends read the story a few times before letting her just explore the book, practise turning the pages (carefully!) and enjoy the illustrations!

These beautiful books would make a perfect gift and we will be adding the rest of the series to Isla’s first birthday wish list I’m sure! 🙂

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It definitely has Isla’s approval – a kiss for Coco!

You can find these books for £9.99 at The National Theatre BookshopWaterstones or at many independent book shops across the country!

Leave me a comment & let me know what you’ve been reading this week & what we should be reading next! We love anything independent, quirky or with great role models! 🙂

Or join in with our reading club over on Instagram using #BabyBookClub

 

 

The Body Confidence Programme Review & Results

The day I gave birth to Isla was the best day of my life & she continues to bring so much joy every day but as a new Mum I think it’s very easy to lose your sense of self. My life has changed in every way possible; new house, new life, new town, new baby… all wonderful things but all together, a lot to deal with. When you add to that a new body that you can’t recognise as your own anymore, it’s easy to forget that you can be anything other than a sick & dribble covered mess that probably hasn’t showered for a few days…

I have slowly learnt to embrace the stretch marks that cover my stomach and my ‘mum-tum’ but the complete lack of confidence is not me and I’m just not willing to stay like that for a second longer. It was time to make a change or two… or three!

I was very kindly invited to join The Body Confidence Programme by the brilliant Ru-Tee who has meticulously put it all together with the promise of reducing by 16 inches over 8 weeks, which is two jean sizes!!

When you start the programme you get a food list, menus, daily emails and weekly conference call with Ru-Tee and all the other brilliant people on the programme to discuss your triumphs & challenges of the week. In the first call I was asked about my energy levels and my confidence that I said were both around a 2/10. Not good enough. Certainly not to walk down the aisle & feel great about myself. I was asked to take some ‘Before’ photos which actually made me feel sick at just the thought of doing it let alone sharing them at the end of 8 weeks… but I took a deep breath and just did it!! I will share my results and those photos (AHH!) at the end of this post!

The food list has no sugar, dairy, gluten, chemicals or anything you can’t pronounce so you have to cook everything from scratch and use all organic produce. I’m not the world’s greatest cook and since having the baby I’ve barely had time to feed myself a good meal even once a week, so the biggest challenge for me was always going to be time-management. After the first week of juggling, it got much easier & fit easily into our daily routine! Part of me doing this programme was allowing myself to put ‘me’ first for once & not allow any ‘mum-guilt’ to seep in!!

The first week was incredibly hard, I’m not going to lie. I am a self-confessed sugar addict so going cold-turkey was always going to be difficult. The cravings were like a little devil sat on my shoulder saying ‘Go on, just a little won’t hurt!’… I pushed through, stayed strong and emerged through the fog to find more energy, and much more balanced emotions!

As the weeks went on I consistently lost the inches and started to feel better about myself bit by bit! You get one cheat day a week, that I basically binged on everything I wasn’t allowed so that I would stick to it 100% the rest of the week! Speaking of percentages – there are lots of lifestyle aspects to the programme and along with your measurements every week you assess how well you’ve stuck to these too! For example – ‘Went to bed by 10.30 every night – 80%…’ ‘Chewed your food 35 times – 20%…’ Err… must eat slower… must eat slo… Oh wait it’s gone. Still got to work on that one…

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The most important thing for me was the support that you get, as I found I doubted myself by Wednesday every week… Am I doing enough? Am I sure that’s on the food list? What if I’ve put on inches this week…? It’s so easy to do but those conference calls were a saving grace. To hear that 10(ish) other people were going through exactly the same thing, makes it so much easier to stay focused. You feel like you are part of an incredible team and that spirit is encouraged and fostered by Ru-Tee’s enthusiasm and genuine love for what she does!

Week 5 was one of the hardest for me but once the end was in sight and I started to fit into my old clothes again, the confidence I had once taken for granted was starting to emerge. I found myself running after Isla with ease & not needing to nap during the day at all. These changes happened slowly over the 8 weeks but by the end my energy was up to a 9/10, my skin was looking so much better and I hadn’t been sick once!! I’ve spent most of my life ill – constant colds, flus and being stuck in bed for weeks at a time. To not be ill for a whole 8 weeks in a row is a huge deal for me, and regardless of the weight loss that in itself is invaluable!!

The promise of the programme is to reduce by 16 inches which is 2 jean sizes…

I reduced by… Drum roll please…

40 INCHES!!!!

Yes… seriously! I have taken the crown for best ever results on the programme… I would like to thank Isla for her words of encouragement, Barney for his constant support & not offering me Baileys… No, I’m just kidding.

I promised you those before & after pictures… So here they are… *Gulp*

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I’ve never committed to anything like this before but the programme encourages lifestyle changes that you can implement after your 8 weeks is up! I’ve continued to follow 75% of the programme since I finished (I’ve gone back to drinking caffeine and alcohol!) and while my weight loss has slowed, I’ve continued on my journey in a way that is sustainable for me in the long term! I loved the food on the diet & there’s nothing faddy about it. All good food that never leaves you hungry as so many other diets I’ve tried in the past have!

I’m incredibly proud of the hard earned success but I honestly couldn’t have done it without Ru-Tee’s support. Dieting can be incredibly lonely & the temptations have always been too much for me – but that support just lifts you up and carries you through to the end of the 8 weeks! If you are feeling like you’ve lost yourself since having a baby and feel like finding your energy & confidence again I can’t recommend this enough! Commit to it and to yourself because you deserve to feel wonderful again!

If you want to join the next programme it costs £450 & starts on Saturday 13th August – you need to sign up by Monday the 8th at 2pm to secure your place and you can even use my special discount code to get £50 off: Poppy50off

To use the code just select the £450 payment option – add it to your basket and enter the code into the coupon code box.

More information can be found on the website here – if you have any questions, leave me a comment, drop me a message or get in touch with Ru-Tee!

I can’t wait to hear all about your journey & see your results so please send me your before & after photos so I can share in your success too!

 

Top 10 Tips to keep baby cool during the heatwave

Get your paddling pools at the ready… the heatwave is here & (apparently) set to stay! Last summer I was heavily pregnant & struggling to keep myself cool but this year is all about keeping Isla happy so here are the top ways to keep baby cool & happy in the heat…

  1. Keep baby out of direct sunlight as much as possible – find a shady spot to sit & make sure you get a sunshade or parasol for the pram while you’re out & about!
  2. Get your hands on the highest factor sunscreen that you can & COVER them in it! We have a sensitive skin Factor 50 for Isla & re-apply it regularly!
  3. Keep their fluid levels up – if they are over 6 months offering water regularly. You can make it fun by making your own fruity ice-lolly’s.
  4. Get the paddling pool out but make sure it’s in the shade! Set yourselves up for a day enjoying the garden & get out all the water toys to explore.
  5. Wide brim hats are a must – and if your little one is like Isla & keeps taking it off – try & get one with a fastening under the chin.
  6. At bed time try a cooler bath than usual but make it a quick one.
  7. Get a room thermometer and try to reduce the temperature well in advance of bed time.
  8. Remove any unnecessary bedding & keep clothes to a minimum. Check the thermometer to see what they should be in! I’ve included a helpful chart below…!
  9. Try to create a breeze in their room – we put a fan next to the window and put a bowl with ice packs in front of it which helped lower Isla’s room by 5 degrees!
  10. If they fall asleep in their pram keep it in the shade & make sure it is well ventilated – don’t cover it in a muslin or blanket as that can make the temperature soar dangerously high inside.

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We’re off to get in the paddling pool now – Leave me a comment & let me know your best tricks to keep your little one cool & how you are enjoying the sun…

 

10 Months

Isla turned 10 months last week & I have been too busy chasing after her to post a blog! She can now walk!! Only 10 or so steps at a time but she’s very pleased with herself & is getting better every day! I know it won’t be long before I’m running after her!

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She’s getting more & more chatty every day & has recently discovered screaming to get what she wants, which is… testing! She’s interested in everything, especially if it could possibly cause her harm, the oven being a particular favourite!! I really do have my work cut out for me!

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She loves singing ‘Let’s go fly a kite’ & dances along to every thing she can – no matter how short the song! Daddy has become ‘Ba Ba’ & she points at pictures of him when he’s at work until I get them down to let her kiss them! We still only have two teeth but I think we aren’t far off many more breaking through!

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Is it too soon to start planning her first birthday party? I can’t believe how fast this year is going. Easily the best year of my life, watching our tiny best friend grow into the cheekiest little madam!

Father’s Day at Waddesdon Feast Festival

This weekend was Father’s Day & not just any Father’s Day but Barney’s first Father’s Day!! I was determined to make it extra special, starting with a coffee & presents in bed, which Isla very kindly helped him open! She chose the unicorn wrapping paper that concealed a Chewbaca talking mask… I couldn’t resist! And a personalised book all about Daddy & Isla’s adventures! It’s so beautiful that I’ll do a separate review soon!

We had a very chilled out morning & then headed off to Waddesdon Manor with my parents for the Feast Festival! We arrived to GIANT queues and very nearly turned around but after some detective work & lots of confusion from the staff working there we established that we didn’t have to join the mammoth queue as we already had tickets! Not a great start but we boarded the short bus ride up to the festival with great relief that food was near!

We stepped off the bus to a flurry of activity, families eating on the long table, watching performances on the grass, creating flower crowns in a tent and all having a brilliant day!

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We immediately went in search of Lunch, quickly spotting the pulled pork & Rueben Sandwiches! While I left the more patient of our party in the queues, I took Isla off to explore! Naturally we found our way to the best stall… Prosecco & cake… What more could a girl want on cheat day?!

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We found a quiet spot to settle down for Lunch. Isla made her way round everyone to get a taste of everything…!

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Clearly a Daddy’s girl, as she was most interested in stealing Grumps’ Apple Watch!

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Cheers!! We have so much to celebrate on Father’s Day, not just the best Daddy in the world to Isla, but the best partner I could ever ask for!

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This cheeky monkey took the opportunity to escape as quickly as she could before I trapped her again in the baby wearer!

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After Lunch we walked around the festival checking out all the stalls, Barney must have tried every Cheese at the festival! And we even spotted some rather unusual visitors… If you follow me on Facebook you will have seen a video of Isla coming face to face with this big bad wolf!

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We walked around the back of the house to take in the beautiful Gardens before heading over to the Aviary and to watch the Jazz band! Nanny & Isla led the dancing with enthusiasm!

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I don’t know how Barney managed to escape my camera lens for most of the day, must be years of practise! Luckily I captured these two up to their usual mischief on the way back to the bus! Isla is so lucky to have such an incredible Daddy & I just love seeing them together having so much fun!

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We had a brilliant day, despite the slight hiccup at the start! I would highly recommend visiting any of Waddesdon’s events (we visited the Chilli Festival last year & loved that too!) just make sure you pre-book your tickets and turn up early to get a good seat at the table if you want one – or bring a picnic blanket like we did! There is so much to do for children of all ages & the Jazz band was a particular highlight for us! For more information on their upcoming events check here.

The Big Breastfeeding Cafe with Medela

Today was the big day! Hundreds of Mum’s across the country connected to talk all things breastfeeding & expressing thanks to Medela‘s Big Breastfeeding Cafe! I hosted a cafe at home & we had an amazing time!

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All set up, ready to go including some goodies from Medela to give out!

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Isla had to be the first to tuck into the strawberries of course… 😉

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Some of the top tips shared were: “Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get it right the first time… Breastfeeding takes time to establish & that can be different for every baby even if it was easy with your first!”

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“Be patient, and don’t feel silly to ask questions/advice from friends or Breastfeeding specialists!”

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Nosy girls checking out cutie Bella getting changed! Haha!

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As you can see, my littlest guests didn’t think much of the chat!

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A big thank you to Gurgle Magazine for sending over a few copies of your latest issue for the ladies to enjoy! 🙂

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Isla took to her usual position of watching everyone eat… Haha!

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As you can see Mums & Babies all had a fantastic time sharing experiences, tips and advice! We talked about everything from best nipple creams to the best/worst advice we were given & how that impacted our breastfeeding/expressing journeys!

And one final piece of wisdom for any Mum’s struggling on their journey…

“Keep going, know that you are amazing & doing the best you possibly can for your baby every day!”

Thanks so much to Medela & Bump PR for organising such a great event for Mum’s all over the UK – it was great to be a small part of it! 🙂

8 Months

8 Months old & Isla is making huge leaps each month now! She’s crawling at the speed of light and is a determined young lady to say the least… She knows what she wants and she knows how to get it. We are certainly going to have our hands full.

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Isla’s favourite thing this month has been swimming – she now happily kicks all the way around the pool, I’m fairly sure she thinks she’s doing it all by herself! Haha!

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Weaning has been going well & we have found ourselves in the world of baby led weaning as she won’t let us help her and certainly won’t even consider food that has been pureed!

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Isla has just started to pull herself up on everything and walk her way around the room while holding on, so it won’t be long until I’m running after her I’m sure! As we head into Summer I’m most looking forward to playing in our new paddling pool & watching Isla explore everything with her growing curiosity!

 

Reading with Isla & Baby Lit

If you follow us on Instagram you’ll have noticed one of Isla’s favourite activities is reading, but our little madam is rather particular about her reading material… Enter BabyLit. They make an adorable range books that can introduce classic literature to your baby in a fun & stylish way!

“At BabyLit, we believe in the power of reading. Why? Because books take us places. Good places. And when we read with a child, we go places together. It’s more than just reading. It’s learning. It’s experiencing. It’s growing.”

Sounds good to me!

When I told Isla we were going to be reading during our photoshoot today she got just a little excited…

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That is her face whenever I get one of the BabyLit books out… Absolutely hilarious.

Things get serious pretty quickly though…

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This week I bought Isla two new books from BabyLit, Romeo & Juliet – to join in with all the celebrations for Shakespeare 400 & Moby-Dick!

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Before you start worrying that Isla might be slightly traumatised by the ending of Romeo & Juliet all the books don’t really tell the story as such… They introduce key characters and themes with beautiful pictures and usually all while counting to 10! (1 town, 2 lovers… etc etc!)

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I think it’s so important to encourage reading from an early age & you really can’t start too soon! If you want to buy your little one some of BabyLit’s amazing books you can shop direct or find them at a local supplier. We’ve got our eye on Midsummer Night’s DreamThe Wizard of Oz next!

They also make play sets, puzzles, dolls, notebooks and totes so you can really bring their favourite characters off the page!

Follow us on Instagram for more & you can find BabyLit here too!

Oh and just one more thing… I couldn’t resist sharing a few behind the scenes shots from our little photoshoot…

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Isla’s personal wardrobe mistress/assistant/dribble wiper for the day was my brilliant Mum, which she thought was just hilarious!

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So much love for Nanny!!

This is the first time I’ve convinced my mum to step in front of the camera, and I’m going to treasure these photographs forever. I juggle being Mummy, blogging and running my own photography business as well as the rest of life & I couldn’t do it without the amazing support my Mum gives me! And as you can see Isla is also a huge fan! 🙂