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See posts about: // Isabelle // Parenting // Family //

Friday, 30 August 2013

Izzy's Autumn Wardrobe

I had a major panic recently that Isabelle had no clothes for the 6-9 month phase of her life, which will be from October until Christmas. I charged my sister, sister-in-law and mother with the bulk of this buying, after having a small nervous breakdown in Next one afternoon! I'm not a shopper, and have pretty much zero style, so I feel totally out of my depth when it comes to dressing my little girl in anything other than sleepsuits (which, honestly, I always have her in if we aren't going out in public!) They didn't disappoint and, along with some online bits and bobs I got, Izzy's autumn wardrobe is now complete.

As with my own dress style, the most important thing when it comes to Izzy's clothing is comfort and practicality over style. So, we have lots of soft and comfy tops and bottoms that Isabelle can learn to crawl in (hopefully!), and that can be teamed with almost everything else we have to create lots of different outfits. Here are some of my favourite bits, all from Next and H&M.

Top row: 
Next pack of 3 tops £9; H&M Sweatpants £3.99; H&M Twill Trousers £9.99

Middle Row:
H&M Beret £3.99; H&M Fine Knit Leggings £5.99; H&M Fine Knit Jumper £6.99

Bottom Row
H&M Hooded Top £7.99; H&M Fine Knit Dress £5.99; Next Denim Dress £14

I am in love with the little beret from H&M, and the three pack of long sleeve tops from Next will be perfect for under dresses like the little denim dress, or teamed with her trousers, leggings and sweatpants around the house.

There are lots of beautiful things - especially in Next - that I have my eye on for her 9-12 month wardrobe, and many I may snap up in the sales for when she is older...

Thursday, 29 August 2013

The NYC Cab in our Living Room

Simon and I do not have a lot of art work in our home - barring little crafty bits we've made ourselves (see my 5 Pinterest Projects We Actually Made). Neither of us are art lovers, and we just don't really 'get art'. However, hanging in our living room is this lovely, quirky little piece of artwork.

It shows a New York City yellow cab and, what might not be easily seen in the picture below is the fact that it's actually a 3D piece of art, built up of 4 layers of cardboard and plastic, with spacers in between.

(Excuse the extreme reflection!)

Probably unsurprisingly, we bought this in New York City. For our honeymoon, we spent a week on Cape Cod, and 3 nights in my favourite city - New York. We had been there together on our world trip in 2009, and I had been several times before that, so we had done all the main 'touristy' bits then. We used the 3 nights to visit some of our (my) favourite places and do a bit of shopping. While walking down 5th Avenue one of those days, we saw an art store with huge pieces of artwork which caught Simon's eye. On closer inspection, we saw that these huge pictures were actually 3D, built up over many layers to give an amazing effect. The pictures in the window depicted New York's skyline, huge fairs and many more. Simon wanted to go in, but I wasn't bothered, so we didn't. 

Walking back down 5th Avenue later that same day, he asked again if we could go in, and I agreed. Inside were some of the most impressive pieces of art we'd seen - all built up in the same 3D way: layers and layers of the same parts of picture built over one another to give amazing effects. 

We wanted one, but nearly fainted when we caught sight of the price tags on any of them. After a wander round the shop we saw our little NYC cab, but were pretty horrified to see it was priced at $450! We did ask the guy if he could do us a deal, and he dropped down (eventually) to $200. We hmm-ed and ahh-ed, to which he scared the life out of us by PUNCHING the glass in the frame! We both expected shards everywhere, but his point had been they use 'break proof' glass, so it would travel back well, and it was worth $200.

Enjoying the NYC portion of our honeymoon

Simon and I are pretty cheap, and we told him that was still a bit much for us, and started to leave...only for him to drop it again to $150. Even at that price, we deliberated, but decided that we really loved the whole 3D art idea, and it would be lovely to have this as a memento of our honeymoon. We handed over the money, and it was packaged up with a little handle tied on, which is one of the cleverest packagings I have ever seen! Unlike previous NYC souvenirs, we actually remembered to bring this one home, and it now hangs in our living room, lovingly dusted at least once a week.

Have you any special mementos of holidays, or your honeymoon? Or anything with a special story behind it in your home?

(PS, try as I might, I cannot find a link to the shop we got this from. Never mind that it was two years ago, but there is nothing on the frame to identify it!)

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

5 things I hope Izzy DOES inherit from me...

After my "5 things I hope Isabelle doesn't inherit from me" post, someone remarked that there must be some good qualities I have that I hope she does get. So after a little think, here's what I came up with...

1) My dedication to family
2) My love of children and animals
3) My love of reading
4) My hair (she seems pretty set for that one!)
5) My myriad of unusual laughing styles

And while we're at it, 5 things I hope she inherits from Simon...

1) His gentle nature
2) His musical ability
3) His artistic talents
4) His calmness in every situation
5) His love of the outdoors

Hopefully, she'll get the perfect mix of all our best bits. Either that, or she'll get all our worst bits.....

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Reviews Day Tuesday: NasalGuard Cold&FluBLOCK

It might still technically be summer, but that doesn't mean that cold and flu season is too far off. Since I am still nursing Isabelle, I don't like to take any medication and pass it on to her, and I don't like having to give her anything either. That meant that a few months ago when we both got a cold at the same time, we suffered were a few very miserable days.

So I was pretty intrigued when NasalGuard sent me some of their Cold&FluBLOCK. Unlike other products designed for cold and flu season, the Cold&FluBLOCK is a preventative measure - aiming to stop you catching a virus in the first place. That makes great sense because, as we all know, prevention is better than cure. 

What makes Cold&FluBLOCK so interesting to me is that it is suitable for everyone - babies, children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and the elderly. This means I can use it on myself and Isabelle safely. As it is an external treatment, it can also be used with 'traditional' products which you may be using, unlike some tablets and nasal sprays. 

Cold&FluBLOCK comes in a 3g tube, costing £11.99 from Boots stores, and at That little tube can be used for up to 150 applications, which is pretty incredible, and tells you how little of the product you actually need to use each time. 

Without being too scientific, Cold&FluBLOCK is a positively  charged gel which attracts the negative charge in cold and flu viruses. It is applied around your nose and above your lips, and is there to catch viruses, and stop them before they enter your body to make you unwell.
I found this so easy to use - just a little drop on my finger covered a huge area, and I almost always squeezed out too much as it spreads so well. The Cold&FluBLOCK can be used under or over make-up and, I have to say, I was a bit sceptical about that. In the past, gels I've applied under/over make-up have ended up 'peeling' or 'rolling' into little chunks so I assumed this would do the same, but it absolutely didn't. I would personally prefer to use it under my make up, but when I did put it on over the top, it dried totally clear and couldn't be seen at all. The instructions say to put it on first thing, any time your face gets wet (e.g. after swimming or showering) and every 4-6 hours. I think that I would find it hard to remember to do that to be honest, but I left it with my normal face lotions and potions and got into the habit of applying it every morning, so I think it's just about adapting your habits to include the Cold&FluBLOCK.

So, does it work? Well, I used it on Isabelle once or twice but, since she is teething and continually slobbery, I knew it was all getting rubbed off and couldn't keep up with putting it on all the time, and she has since caught a cold. Despite being in such close proximity to her all day, and being constantly sneezed and slobbered on, I haven't caught the same cold. As this is a preventative product we'll never know for sure, but that seems pretty promising to me!

If you'd rather not spend a few days snotty and miserable this autumn/winter, I suggest you get your own tube of Cold&FluBLOCK from Boots and give it a whirl! 

Monday, 26 August 2013

Little girl is growing up...

Last night saw a big move for the Jay household - Miss Isabelle moved from her crib into her cot. She has slept in a cot before at my in-laws, but, of course, this is a permanent move. Simon was quite gung-ho about the whole thing - he jetted upstairs and took the crib apart without a second thought. I was a little more upset by the whole thing, especially as we were also shipping all the little baby clothes and the Moses basket back to my sister-in-law for use in November.

Luckily, we have plenty of room in our bedroom to have the cot in on my side of the bed, where the crib used to be. So, Isabelle will be staying in with us for a while yet, until her clingy mummy is ready to let her go to her own room.

This all comes after a busy few weeks. Isabelle has started using her high chair to join us for meals, she holds herself up immensely well during tummy time (after many weeks of face planting and lazily lying on her side instead of bothering to look up), and been rolling around like a wild woman. Her teeth are coming through, and just yesterday she sat up by herself for the first time. I just finished buying her 6-9 month wardrobe, and she is now just 6 weeks away from weaning onto solids. She has also been sucking her thumb, and I was devastated when she sucked her thumb to sleep instead of nursing to sleep one day last week.

I don't know where the heck the last 20 weeks have disappeared to, all I know is my little tiny lady is not so little anymore...

Every mummy's nightmare: the rash that doesn't go

Two nights ago we had our first medical scare with Isabelle. Luckily it was just a case of first time parents panicking - but I am still glad we did.

Having popped Isabelle into the bath, Simon noticed a red rash on her left shoulder and down her chest. It was red blotches, with small pin pricks of red in it. We had a look, gave it a little press, and decided to do the old fail safe "glass test". Unfortunately, neither Simon nor I have any sort of medical training, so we weren't 100% sure what the results of the glass test were. It didn't look like the rash had disappeared entirely and, although neither of us actually said it, only one word was in mind: meningitis. We hmm-ed and ahh-ed for a few minutes, doing the test again, and being none the wiser.

So we did the only thing we know to do in a confusing medical situation: we phoned my brother. No answer. I then phoned my sister-in-law who told me he was actually still at the hospital at work, but, being a mummy  herself, was able to sympathise with my uncertainty and fear, and offered to continue trying to get hold of my brother while I phoned the out of hours doctor (also her suggestion. I was ready for A&E if I'm honest). While Simon amused Isabelle in the bath, I phoned the out of hours doctor, and they were fantastic and rang back within a few minutes, as did my sister-in-law and then my brother. After answering numerous questions from all medically trained people, it was decided that the rash was most likely nothing serious, and while we should keep an eye on Isabelle,  she would most likely be fine. Of course, they were right.

My mental image of my brother at work...

This all led me to realise one thing: I am woefully underprepared for a medical emergency with Isabelle. That said, I'm not sure if you ever really can be prepared for real emergency involving your child - all you can do is your best.

It also reminded me that, other than a rash and flu like symptoms, I have no real idea what the symptoms of meningitis are - especially those specific to a baby. I know I shouldn't go around assuming every rash she gets is meningitis, but I'd really rather be safe than sorry! So, I looked up a list of meningitis symptoms in babies to share with you all, and educate myself.


  • Tense or bulging soft spot
  • High Temperature
  • Very sleepy/staring expression/too sleepy to wake up
  • Vomiting/refusing to feed
  • Irritable when picked up, with a high pitch or moaning cry
  • Breathing fast / difficulty breathing
  • Blotchy skin, getting paler or turning blue
  • Extreme shivering
  • A stiff body with jerky movements, or else floppy / lifeless
  • 'Pin prick' rash / marks or purple bruises on the body
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Sometimes diarrhoea
  • Pain/ irritability from muscle aches or severe limb/joint pain

  • You'll see a rash is actually pretty low down on the list, and it comes after a whole load of symptoms which would definitely have me concerned something was wrong anyway. The thing with this list is that not every baby will get all these symptoms. Some get some, others get others, and some babies I've heard of have almost none. That's pretty terrifying.

    While these are great things to be on the look out for, remember that parents always know best when something just isn't right. I know not everyone is lucky enough to have my brother permanently on call (and that is something we will be forever grateful for, especially as he has so willingly dropped everything in the past to help us during a medical issue) but if you are worried, get on the phone to your out of hours doctor and don't be shy - tell them exactly why you are worried about your little one, and don't play anything down. If you are REALLY worried, get them to A&E. yes, it might turn out to be nothing and you will feel stupid for time wasting, but at the end of the day it's better to have it that way than any alternative, surely?

    So just a scare for us this time, and I hope we don't have to deal with any more in the near future, but at least now I will know what else to look out for with a rash, and remember that the out of hours doctor service is always there when I'm not sure, and can't get that brother on the phone.

    Saturday, 24 August 2013

    The new parenting fad experts fear could KILL your baby

    That was the title of an article my dad cut out of the paper for myself and my sister-in-law. "Oh my gosh, what is this new fad?" I wondered. What horrors are crazy new age parents getting up to that is KILLING babies?

    This is the article I article about co-sleeping. 

    It starts with the story of a woman who awoke one night to find her son missing - he had wriggled down under the duvet, where he was sleeping between his parents. The woman felt so guilty that he could have been smothered, she stopped breastfeeding and moved her son to his own room right away.

    Then, it goes on to give some information about how statistically, babies who co-sleep (with the phrase co-sleeping incorrectly used in this article to describe bed-sharing - when a baby sleeps in the same bed as their parents) are more likely to die of SIDS, and how breastfeeding is to blame for this.

    Source: Daily Mail
    The article in question describes how babies who bed-share are 5 times more likely to die of SIDS, and that 88% of SIDS deaths that occurred in babies who bed-share would not have happened had the child been sleeping alone. As Simon pointed out, since there is no real evidence as to what causes SIDS - just many theories - how can these stats be in anyway accurate? Who can say what WOULD have happened, without an exact replication of events for testing?

    So, what is causing the rise in bed-sharing? According to the Daily Mail the culprit is...breastfeeding! According to the article: "pressure on women to breastfeed has led to a huge rise in co-sleeping, with 80% of mothers succumbing to it. Because breastmilk is easier to digest than formula, babies grow hungrier faster and need to be fed more often than their bottle-fed peers. Many mothers feel the only way they can get any sleep at all is to keep their child by their side." The woman whose story starts the article says her son ate so often (every 2 hours) that she never would have gotten any sleep if she hadn't bed-shared.

    That is based on truth: breastfed babies DO need fed more often (and two hours is totally normal - this woman obviously received poor support from her health care professionals), and it is more easily digested. But the implication that, because of this, breastfeeding mothers are so sleep deprived they are forced into bed-sharing is pretty ridiculous. I speak to new mommas every week at baby groups and not once has anyone said to me "Gosh I'm so exhausted I have no choice but to bed-share".

    Source: Daily Mail
    There is also blame laid at the feet of Heidi Klum and Angelina Jolie - two women who practice the "trendy" attachment parenting, which promotes feeding on demand and never letting a baby out of your sight. This is a totally inaccurate view of attachment parenting. It is widely accepted in the UK now that feeding on demand - breast or bottle - is how a baby should be fed. After all, if you are hungry, you eat. So why shouldn't your baby, whose stomach is as tiny as their fist? Attachment parenting is NOT the same as never letting your child out of your sight, it's about parenting in a way which nutures bonds between parents and children, and challenges parents to treat their children with kindness, respect and dignity - something I think we would all like to think we do [API]. Poor Heidi and Angelina, being blamed for all of this!

    Luckily, the second half of the article provides the counter-argument, which I was relived to get to when reading. Firstly, the title of this article is ridiculous: bed-sharing is not a "new parenting fad" - it has been happening for thousands of years. In fact, NOT bed-sharing is a very new, very western world phenomenon - bed-sharing is still practised across the majority of the world. It's also pointed out that statistics show that Japan has a very high rate of bed-sharing, and has the lowest SIDS rate in the world, debunking any real link between the two.

    It is also highlighted that if you do your research and bed-share SAFELY, mum and baby can both be perfectly happy and healthy, and it's actually safer for a breastfed baby to bed-share than a bottle fed baby. This is due to heightened maternal awareness of the position of a breastfed baby over a bottle fed baby.

    So, how CAN you safely bed-share? Here are some key points:

    * Babies should NEVER be placed between parents, they should be on the outside of the mother
    * There should be something stopping a baby from rolling off a bed - but there should be no risk of a baby becoming trapped between the bed and that object
    * NEVER bed-share if you have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs, or if you are over-tired
    Babies should not be close to the duvet or pillows on a bed

    Following those rules, no disrespect intended, the lady whose story starts the article was NOT practising safe bed-sharing, and therefore a potential incident was only too likely to occur - just like if you don't drive your car safely, you increase your risk of an accident.

    Source: Daily Mail

    My opinion:
    I think you will be unsurprised to know I was totally disgusted reading the article. It is full of sweeping statements, assumptions and poorly researched and referenced facts - and this is coming from someone who doesn't even bed-share! Simon and I made the decision long before Isabelle arrived that bed-sharing wasn't for us. We do, however, co-sleep (which means we share a room with Isabelle, and as I mentioned, is a statement used incorrectly in this article), but while we knew we wanted to keep her close by, we also knew of too many people who bed-shared and it became a problem for their relationship. That said, every morning from 5.30/6am (no earlier) if Isabelle wakes, I will bring her into bed beside me until 7am when Simon gets up and we wake up too. I don't sleep during this time, I feed her and doze next to her, just allowing myself a few extra minutes relaxing in bed so I don't have to get up at any ungodly hour. She sleeps soundly, with her crib pulled up tight against the bed (where it somehow fits perfectly) to stop her rolling out in case I do fall asleep. 

    So, personally, bed-sharing isn't for us, while co-sleeping is. It's definitely a controversial topic, but it isn't something which is generally recommended by midwives here, simply because all too often people put their babies in unsafe bed-sharing situations. However, safely done, bed-sharing can be a wonderful experience for a whole family. 

    As always, each family knows what is best for them; go with your gut do what is best for your own family. And, remember, whatever you do - never, EVER believe the Daily Mail's shock headlines.

    So what do you think? Is bed-sharing for you? Is it safe? Or is it likely to "kill your baby" like the DM say? 

    Friday, 23 August 2013

    My "go-to" recipe

    I am not well renowned for my cooking, with good reason - I can't cook. But there is one thing that I can cook, a fail safe I have to fall back on (and even it has gone wrong many times!). I like to call it Sarah's Famous Chicken Curry, and it's so simple that anyone can make it. It only takes around 25 minutes which means it's great to make when looking after a littlie. It's also gluten free, as my dad is a coeliac, so we have to have some tricks up our sleeves for when he comes to eat us out of house and home! I usually make a batch and freeze whatever is left over, ensuring we have lots of homemade food ready for days when we just can't be bothered. You'll see from the recipe that I am not one for using quantities or specific timings - which is probably why everything else I attempt turns out badly! This isn't fancy, but it does the job every few weeks.

    2-3 chicken breasts
    Chicken stock
    1-2 tbsp curry powder (we use a Tesco own brand which is gluten free, in medium)
    Cornflour dissolved in water
    1 onion, chopped
    1 green apple, chopped
    1 tin chopped pineapple
    Handful raisins


    1) Brown the chicken and onion in a pan, I use vegetable oil for this. I use a wok to make this curry, simply because I cook everything in a wok...

    2) Make up some chicken stock, using 1-2 stock cubes, depending on how much curry you are making. I usually make around 1l of stock. 

    3) When chicken and onion are cooked, add in the  curry powder and stir together with chicken and onion for 1 minute, then add the desired amount of stock. Add in the cornflour to get the required consistency.
    (This is where mine has previously turned into Sarah's Famous Chicken Curry Soup. If that happens, cook off as much liquid as possible, and add more cornflour, while panicking)

    4) Throw in the pineapple, apple chunks and raisins, and allow to heat through.

    5) Serve with rice, poppadums, naan bread, other Indian accompaniments, and enjoy!

    It sounds so simple! So how come I always end up flustered...?

    Thursday, 22 August 2013

    A day in the life of a cloth bum mum

    After reading a similar post from Sian over at Jumbled Purple, I decided to give you an insight into a day in the life of being a cloth bum mum, in the hope that people will see it's not quite so horrific and difficult as many people believe!

    When Isabelle wakes up I take her night nappy off and let her bum have some air while she kicks around, firstly in our bed, then on her playmat. I get her washed and dressed for the day and put on her first day nappy - a Little Lamb bamboo fitted nappy with a Tots Bots wrap.

    While Isabelle naps, I run around doing a million things, including putting the nappy wash on. I do this every other day, always in the morning. It's as easy as a normal wash - I lift the mesh out of the nappy bucket and stick it into the washing machine. I put on a rinse to start off with then, when that's done, a long 30/40/60 degree wash with an extra rinse. I use EcoSprout washing powder which is specifically designed to be cloth safe. The wash takes around 2 hours.

    After Isabelle has been up for a while I change her into a bumGenius Freetime - an all in one nappy. This is brand new, first outing today! I throw the Little Lamb into the new mesh liner in the bucket, and give the wrap a wipe as it's totally clean and dry and can be used again later.

    We're having a quiet day today, so after we've taken the dogs out and Isabelle has another nap, I change her again. The Freetime comes off as one and into the nappy bucket. This time she is changed into a 'cheapie' nappy from Tiny Nippers.

    The wash has been sitting waiting for me to get round to putting it out. Although you can chuck it in the tumble drier, I hate using ours for any washing. Instead, I use two Ikea sock driers to hang all my boosters, inserts, liners and wipes, and a normal clothes horse for the rest of the load. I take down the last nappy wash, and replace it with the new one. Luckily, today was dry so I got to put everything outside. If it's raining, it all goes into the garage instead.

    Another nappy change, and another cheapie nappy. More nappy free time for her ladyship.

    The last day nappy of the day goes on - a Little Lamb OSFA pocket with a microfibre insert. These aren't the prettiest, but they do a great job. (No picture of this as she was having a mini meltdown at the time!)

    Isabelle is getting dressed for bed, and her night nappy goes on. This is a (old style) Tots Bots Bamboozle size 1, with a size 2 Little Lamb booster for extra absorbency. I am using the same Tots Bots wrap from this morning as it just got one outing, and I put a One Life cotton booster between the nappy and wrap for even more absorbency. This will last Izzy until she gets up tomorrow morning (roughly 12 hours), saving her lazy momma from changing her bum during the night!

    When Isabelle is sound asleep I get round to sorting the dry nappies I took down earlier. It takes 10 minutes to sort the liners, boosters, inserts and wipes from one another, then stuff the pocket nappies and put the everything away nicely, ready for another day. Most of the wash from this morning is dry too as it's been out all day, so they are brought in and put away, or left in the garage over night to dry completely.

    So there you have it, pretty much the same as every other mum's day - except instead of throwing the nappies out, I spend 20-30 minutes every other day getting them washed, dried and put away. Not a huge amount of trouble at all and, to me, so worth it to get that gorgeous 'fluffy bum', and help reduce my landfill contributions and carbon footprint. 

    Wednesday, 21 August 2013

    The Story of Us

    Since my blog focuses on being a mummy, and my life with my family, I thought I would give a quick guided tour of the Jay family history - how Simon and I met, and how we ended up where we are.

    Incidentally, how/when we met is actually a topic which has never been resolved. One thing IS certain, we both studied Physical Geography at Lancaster University, and we were in the same year. This is where the stories diverge...
    Simon's goes that we were in the same tutorial group in first year for another subject, and we spoke then.
    My version is that, while I had potentially seen Simon... but I certainly hadn't ever spoken to him before  the middle of second year.

    Christmas Ball after 2 months together

    In any event, at the end of second year we started to 'date', having gotten to know one another while studying (or should that be 'studying'?!) for our exams, and things started off brilliantly. To throw a spanner in the works, I am from Northern Ireland while he is from England. To throw a chainsaw in there, I was spending summer 2007 at summer camp in the USA, followed by a family holiday in Mauritius. When we returned to uni in October 2007 for our final year, we picked up where we had left off, and spent that year together. Realising pretty early on that this was quite a serious thing, I lined up a job as a nanny in his native Norfolk for when we graduated in 2008, and we planned to go travelling after my sister's wedding in May 2009. The plan was for me to work in Norfolk until around March, but by Christmas I was too homesick and had to leave early. That left 4.5 months of living in different countries. We made a monthly trip to see one another and, before we knew it, we were on a round the world trip together.

    In Sydney after 1.5 years together

    When we arrived home, I started a PGCE, and Simon made the pretty amazing decision to uproot his whole life and move to live with me in NI. Obviously, at this point, we knew that we were heading for marriage and both knew we wanted a family, but we just weren't quite ready. Moving into 2010, I began to think more seriously about it all, and we discussed that by the end of that year, we would be engaged. Imagine my surprise when midway through the year, on holiday in Cornwall, he pulled out a beautiful ring! That kick started the busiest year of our lives - I started a new job, he took on our business, and we found and bought a house, all while planning a wedding!

    22/07/2011 - married after almost 3 years together

    We moved into our home in March 2011, and got married in July 2011. Then, it was baby time! Starting our family didn't come as easily as everything else had done, but we were delighted in January 2012 to find out I was pregnant! Unfortunately, our wonderful little baby wasn't meant to be with us, and it took us both quite a while to recover from our loss. We knew we still wanted a baby more than anything and in July 2012 we were blessed enough to fall pregnant again with our beautiful little lady. 

    10/04/2013 - Our family is completed after 5.5 years together 

    She joined us on April 10th, 2013 and since then, our little family has been happily muddling along, finding our way together. Hopefully, someday in the future, I'll be able to come back and amend this post to include the birth of our second baby. And third....and maybe even a fourth?!

    Tuesday, 20 August 2013

    Friday, 16 August 2013

    5 Pinterest projects I've actually made!

    Pinterest is a bit like window shopping - you go there and pin all the lovely things you wish you had, and most of the pins end up never actually being "had". I go through phases with Pinterest - I'll go nuts for a while, then nothing for months, and repeat. Since I'm in a "nuts" phase, I thought I'd share with you 5 Pinterest projects which I pinned during my first "nuts" phase and - shock, horror - we actually have in our home!

    1) Photo walls
    If you look on my "For our bricks and mortar" board, you'll see a large percentage of the pins are dedicated to photo walls in the home. When I used to think of photo walls I thought of old ladies with a hundred pictures of their family in horrible frames. Pinterest showed me that these are a great way to show off your pictures and make a feature wall. This is something we decided to do in our living room, and I love how we will be able to display pictures of Isabelle as she grows, along with our own little bits of "artwork". Luckily, Simon is a picture framer so this was a cheap option for us!

    (There is an oval frame missing in the middle at the minute!) 

    2) Wall decals
    For anyone who doesn't know what these are, they are basically giant wall stickers. You can get really anything you want and, after seeing them on Pinterest, I became obsessed with them, both for our living space, and also for our nursery. Trees seem to be a major theme for living areas, and I chose the one below from Etsy. I was initially unsure, but love how it looks in our living room. I also ordered Isabelle's from Etsy, and have never loved a piece of artwork so much!

    3) Map hearts
    These take up one of the spaces on our photo wall. I have them pinned in my "Beautiful crafts I could never make" which is true, because Simon made them for us! They show the map location of places we hold dear - where we live, were we met, where we got married, where Simon is from, where we went on honeymoon and where we got engaged. It was actually pretty simple - I used an online mapping system to source various maps, and Simon "cut out" the relevant piece in a heart shape using a computer program, then framed them.

    4) Button letter
    Somewhere along my Pinterest journey, I become obsessed with buttons. I never knew how many things you could do with buttons...they are massively versatile when making crafts. I'm not actually the most crafty person in the world - and I couldn't sew a button on to save my life - but I did make a button "S" (for Simon and Sarah) and it was surprisingly easy (although I incurred quite a bad burn from the glue gun!). I keep looking up bags of buttons on eBay, and would love to make some button Christmas cards this year (although with an 8 month old in tow that sounds like a recipe for an A&E trip if I ever heard one). I've pinned so many cute ones onto my "Cute as a button" board, but highly doubt mine will look anything like that!

    5) Repainted old furniture
    One of our spare rooms - Simon's parents' room - had mismatched furniture. A cheap wardrobe bought from B&Q, two even cheaper bedside tables from a Lidl sale, and a bookcase left behind by the previous owners. We talked time and time again about getting a chest of drawers, but never did, and I hated the look of the room. Pinterest saved the day yet again, when I saw how beautiful painted furniture can be. Simon brought home an old chest of drawers (did I mention we own an antique shop?) and we chose some paint. The end result was a wardrobe, chest of drawers, 2 bedside tables and a bookcase which all match beautifully. We even lined the drawers of the CoD and the shelves of the bookcase in off cuts of the same wallpaper from B&Q.

    Now, to master some recipes from Pinterest, make my Christmas cards, and periodically add bits and bobs to my "Moustaches" board...

    What's your greatest Pinterest achievement? If you don't already, why not follow me on Pinterest here.

    Thursday, 15 August 2013

    5 things I hope Isabelle doesn't inherit from me...

    Parents want to pass on all their best traits to their kids, nobody wants to pass on their worst. So here are 5 things I hope I don't pass on to Isabelle....

    1) My fussy eating habits
    2) My biting sarcasm 
    3) My tendency towards being obsessive
    4) My inability to handle change
    5) My short fuse

    Anything you hope you don't pass on to your littles?

    Wednesday, 14 August 2013

    Countdown to Christmas?

    Twice in the last two days, I've been given the information that it is a mere 132 days until Christmas 2013. News which, quite frankly, startled me, as it really doesn't sound like a lot. It does make me a little "eye-rolly" when, come November 1st, the Halloween things disappear and you can't go into a shop without being assaulted by Jingle Bells and wrapping paper.

    I'm sure I'm not the only person who has noticed the shine disappear from Christmas as we've gotten older and, although I enjoy the lead up to Christmas, and the family time it brings, I wouldn't say I get over-excited by it. Simon and I are not the sort of people who put our tree up in November - we wait until around 10 days before Christmas. We don't start our Christmas shopping in June - we come up with some ideas early on, forget all about them, and then spend late November online choosing bits and bobs. 

    But this year, of course, is a little different. This year we will have Miss Isabelle to think about. She will be almost 9 months old, so far too young to know anything about Christmas, but I know that won't make it any less special for us all. I am 100% sure that she will be spoilt rotten by everybody - if their treatment of Jacob over the last two years is anything to go by that is! 

    Simon and I discussed a long time ago how we would treat Christmas with our children. Both of us (along with everyone else I think!) think that Christmas is far too commercialised, and the last thing we want is for our kids to grow up expecting to receive hundreds of pounds worth of gifts. I'm hoping that each year we can buy a stocking full of mini gifts, a few 'medium' gifts, and a big one. I have to admit...I have already chosen Isabelle's big gift for this year! I know that is totally flying in the face of everything I've just said, but it's something I saw when I was pregnant and I can't wait to get her. I don't want her finding out of course, so I won't tell you what it is...!

    Christmas is always going to be a tricky one for us, with our families spread out across two islands. The first year we were married I wasn't ready to go away for Christmas, so we stayed with my family, and last year we went to Simon's. That means that this year, much to my mum's delight, the three of us will be with my parents again. And since Jacob and his younger brother/sister will also be there (and only a month old!) it is set to be the biggest, busiest, 'bestest' Christmas yet!

    Oh, and the thing I am most excited about this year? Dressing my child up in a variety of novelty Christmas outfits of course!

    Tuesday, 13 August 2013

    Reviews Day Tuesday: Tiny Nippers Pocket Nappies

    There are a lot of different reusable nappies out there and, if you look on a "big" retailers site, you will find a great selection of the large brand names. However, there is also a huge market for what are known as 'eBay cheapies'. There are lots of different brands of cheapies - Alvas, Sunbaby, Yellow Bloom - and you can buy them on eBay, or from various websites. At some point during pregnancy I stumbled upon the Tiny Nippers website. They are a UK retailer of Alva pocket nappies, and all the 'cheapies' I have bought have been from them. (They also have a selection of other baby products which I like to dabble in!) 

    A birth to potty, pocket nappy in snaps. They come with 1 microfibre insert, and the inner is a stay dry layer. The outer is either PUL or minkee

    These are advertised as fitting from 10lbs, as with many BTP nappies. I started using them on Isabelle when she was roughly 10/11lbs, using them snapped down on the smallest setting. They fit her perfectly around the legs on this setting, and there is a leg snap on each side to adjust them even more, so they fit her perfectly round her chunky thighs. The waist snaps cross over, so I can see it fitting a skinny baby, and at almost 15lbs, we use it on one of the smallest settings, again fitting perfectly. I can see these fitting her for a long time to come.

    I haven't had any issues with containment of solids or wee. No leaks at all, and they have withstood some good testing on the solids front! Unlike some of my other pocket nappies, they have very good elastic around the waist, which I think helps a lot with containment.

    As with all pockets, the insert has to be removed before washing, even partially, which I don't enjoy. Once out, they are simple to throw into the bucket, and wash really easily at any temperature. There haven't been any issues with staining yet. These dry really quickly - the outers dry over night in the garage and the inserts maybe take 24hrs in the garage, or just a few hours out on the line.

    Ease of use:
    I find these nappies really easy to use, and Simon said this week they are some of his favourites. They have a pretty 'traditional' snap system so, once you are happy with the setting you are using at that moment in time, they are a breeze to put on and take off. They are also really easy to stuff as the pocket is a great size.

    Appearance and quality:
    Appearance wise, these are my favourite nappies! They come in such an amazing range of colours and prints that it's almost impossible to choose your favourite! The elephant one Izzy is wearing below is my current love. I really don't think anyone could find fault with the appearance of these. Quality wise, I see no difference between them and many of my other pocket nappies which were more expensive. The inners are soft, the inserts are soft and a good size, and the outers are wonderfully soft PUL or minkee. As mentioned above, the elastic is nice and strong.

    Apart from their adorable look, this is the best bit about these nappies. Tiny Nippers sell them for £4.39 or £4.59 depending on the nappy. That means you could buy a whole set of 24 for less than £150! You can also choose not to buy the insert - if you have plenty - and this lowers the price by 80p.

    Bug bears:
    My only question about these nappies is how long they will last in comparison to more expensive nappies. For example, the elastic is great now, but it may slacken more quickly than other brands with repeated use. I also know that, in the future, I will need to boost them as the 1 insert will not be enough as Isabelle grows. 

    I have to give these nappies 5/5! I know a lot of people don't rate them, but I am totally in love with them. They are so lovely to look at, and seem to be great quality - so much so that I am slowly selling off more expensive nappies and replacing them with these! Even if they only last for Isabelle and no future babies, they are so cheap that it wouldn't take much to replace them. As I mentioned, I know I will need to boost them in the future, but I own plenty of boosters already, and even if I didn't, because the nappies are so cheap even buying a full set of boosters, or more inserts, would STILL make them cheaper than many big brand cloth nappies. If you are unsure about cloth, buying one or two of these would be a great way to start out without breaking the bank!

    ** Unsure where to start with cloth nappies? Check out my Cloth Bum for Beginners page. In Northern Ireland? Check out the Cloth Nappy Library Northern Ireland **

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