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

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Us // February

Another month has zoomed past. I don't know if it's because February is a whole 3 days shorter than January, but it seems to have absolutely flown by.

It's been such a laid back month - I only worked 5 days! So I certainly don't have to complain about being exhausted from over working. Half term fell in the 3rd week, which gave me some time off and we are currently on holiday with Simon's family in Centre Parcs which has given me another 2 days off. Teachers obviously don't usually abscond during the year for holidays, but this was booked before they asked me to stay on, so not much choice. Obviously I'm very sorry to all my students........

The BIG NEWS this month was Simon breaking his wrist after a fall from his bike. It led to a 9 hour A&E wait (seriously - 9 hours. Overnight.) and a very tired household the next day. His job is very hands on, so he has been struggling slightly with work so it's maybe for the best that we are away this week to give him time to rest his hand instead of trying to plough onwards. That said, what an awful time to break a wrist! His cast means he is pretty limited in what he can do - the great plans we had for swimming have been modified, and cycling is obviously not going to happen while we are away. There are loads of other things to do at Centre Parcs, though, and spending time with his family is what it's really all about.

This month Isabelle and I went to two birthday parties - both of little people we met at our breastfeeding group. So we have had lots of fun playing with our friends, and enjoying lots (and lots, and lots) of party food. At one of the parties my friend had a bouncy castle, so Isabelle had her first ever bounce - although she wasn't hugely thrilled at all!

We also had some lovely days out with our breastfeeding group friends to the park and to a local farm. It's only a little one, but it was nice just to get out and get some fresh air and to do something different. I'm not marking it off our spring bucket list quite yet, however, as I want to go to a bigger farm to do that! We had lots of fun with the animals, however, and then spent an hour at the fabulous park which is at the same location.

Isabelle honed her gymnastic skills several times at the gymnastic centre which she always loves, and she continued to go to mums and tots with my dad on a Wednesday. At home she has dressed up, painted with ice, had a sensory bath and played with a light box. She absolutely loves dancing at the minute, and has been asking for music during the month so she can dance. She isn't content to do it alone however, she INSISTS that I dance with her and is actually pretty strict about where I am allowed to stand and what moves I am allowed to do! We spent most of our down time this month reading. She picks out piles of books and brings them to me, and we have sat for up to an hour wading through them. Isabelle definitely has her favourites - at the minute she adores 'Dragon Stew' which I have been made to read up to five times in a row! She has always loved stories, but her love for them seems to be growing and has been our biggest activity throughout February. So much so that we installed her new book wall, and I rejigged all our book storage, so that she can reach her books more easily.

As the weather continues to improve we have been spending more time outside with lots of park visits and a wander around the local castle gardens. Isabelle loves being outdoors, though we have a tendency to focus our big outdoors outings on walking the dogs which means she is usually on my back rather than stretching her legs, so in the next few months I am determined that dog walking will come second to Isabelle walking! That said, we have done a lot of dog walking this month as Simon isn't as able with his wrist. That meant, of course, I have gotten to use my new Tula loads which has been fabulous! I was thrilled to finally get her wearing gloves, after several meltdowns at the very sight of them! Once I told her they were just like her oven glove she was on board. We bought some new ones for her (as we had lost one of her others) and she is more than happy to wear them - although we are through the worst of the cold weather now!

We also made a trip to Ikea to plan our brand new kitchen which was immensely exciting as we have been waiting for so long (FOUR YEARS!) to get rid of the horrible kitchen we currently have. March and April will see the old kitchen ripped out and the new one put in, and I simply cannot wait to have it done. Seeing the plans was great, and I often get them out just to marvel at the beauty!

So right now, we are at Centre Parcs enjoying some much needed time with Simon's family. I'll do a full update on our week once we get back. March is going to be great in some respects - the lead up to Isabelle's birthday and Easter, and the beginning of the kitchen works. However, it is also my last month of part time work so it will definitely be bittersweet, as I can't believe I will have to be back at work full time again soon. This time has flown by, but I'm so pleased that we have managed to fit so much in!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Ikea faves (which don't come flat packed!)

You should know by now we have big love for Ikea in our house. All our bedroom furniture, Isabelle's furniture, playroom furniture, our dining table and chairs, and very soon our entire kitchen, are from Ikea.

Ikea is fabulous. It is inexpensive, pretty good quality, and has stuff which I love. Maybe it doesn't stand up to the test of those with...higher standards...but we love it!

What I love most about Ikea is that you can pretty much buy anything there - and a lot of it doesn't come flat packed. So, here are some of my favourite Ikea products, which you may not even know they sell, and which I think are amazing.

1// Chocolate
They have the most delicious, hazlenutty, chocolate in Ikea which costs just 50p. My mum introduced this to me, and since then I have loved it. It really is yummy and, to me, is just as great as much more expensive chocolate.

2// Storage bags
Ikea sell a range of incredible resealable food storage bags. They are much stronger than your average, have a double zip lock, and come in different sizes and colours. I now use them to store everything - food, play dough, toiletries - you name it. I cannot recommend these enough!

3// Bibs
I spent ages trying to find great bibs before I found the ones at Ikea. They are plastic backed so clothes stay dry, have a little pocket to collect falling food, and are absorbent to ensure the spilled drink doesn't run straight off the bib and soak the trousers. We have 6 which are in constant rotation and have served us fabulously well. I would never use another bib again! They also sell plates, cups, bowls and cutlery which we use and which again are great.

4// Craft stuff
Chalk, colouring pens, hama beads, crayons, paper, paint, paint brushes, coloured paper...they sell so much for crafting with. It's not hugely cheaper than anywhere else for this, but they have a great range and it's so easy to pick up when you are there getting all those things you didn't know you needed.

5// Frying pan
When we got married, we had some very impressive looking John Lewis cookware on our wedding list which we were thrilled to get. Three years was all it lasted - although to be fair it was used every day. We replaced our much loved wok with this frying pan from Ikea. Simon is a bit snobby about cookware, and we weren't sure if this cheaper style pan would be any good - but it's fabulous! Made of sturdy stuff, absolutely non-stick and is wearing very well. When we get the kitchen redone one of our pitstops will be in the cookware department to stock up on many more bits from their range.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Our wedding songs

On Thursday, I got into the car and turned it on and the radio stated up. A little fact about me is that I only listen to Classic Fm - I despise all other radio - so that is what automatically came on. The song which had just started was the song to which I walked down the aisle on our wedding day. For the next few minutes I enjoyed every single moment as I listened to it and told Isabelle all about the day Simon and I got married.

The song I walked down the aisle to is one of the more common wedding songs - Pachelbel's Cannon in D. I knew for a long time that this was the song I would have playing in my last few minutes as an unmarried woman, as I think it is really one of the most beautiful pieces of classical music around. I hear it on Classic Fm every few months and, each time I do, it transports me right back to our wedding and it makes me smile as feel just as wonderful as I did then. I was sure that I would be terrified walking down the aisle, but when the time came it was just absolutely wonderful, and hearing Canon in D reminds me of that wonderful feeling and lets me experience it all over again. I can see so much of the detail in my mind to this day - watching the bridesmaids go first, waiting with my dad, starting up the aisle and seeing family and friends...the whole thing. I know it maybe sounds silly, but hearing the song just makes my whole mood lift and makes me feel almost as if I am back there on that day, almost 4 years later. Even though most of the chat about songs at a wedding is the song for the first dance, it is definitely Canon in D which I automatically associate with our wedding day and all those happy feelings.

However, we did have a pretty great first dance song too. It was also chosen years before we got married - a joint decision not long after we had started going out as it just seemed to be the perfect song to have at a wedding. Neither Simon nor I are great dancers, and the thought of being centre stage to dance was not something we looked forward to at all. We had a good few practice sessions in the house but again, when the time came, we both really enjoyed those few special moments dancing to Jack Johnson's Better Together. The whole song is about how a couple create memories together and how each of them is better when they are with the other - how could there be a more fitting song for the start of a marriage? It's not a song I hear often but, when I do, it doesn't take me back to our wedding day. Instead, it takes me further back to the day we said in passing it would be our wedding song - all the way back to the start of our relationship when we never could have imagined being married with a beautiful daughter.

Lastly, the second dance at my wedding was my daddy and me. My sister suggested that this would be something nice to do and I am so glad she did, as it was so nice to have a few special moments with my dad on my big day, after all that he did to help us achieve it. What other song could we have danced to but My Girl? Again, it isn't a song I hear a lot but when I do it makes me think now of my dad. I think that the ultimate tear jerker would be if Isabelle decided to do the same at her wedding and dance with Simon to the same song - the mother of the bride would definitely be a sobbing wreck then!

Three very different songs, each of which had such a special part in our wedding day and which I love hearing now to have the memories of that day flood back again.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Sensory bath fun

I've posted before about some of the sensory fun we have had in the bath, using shaving foam bath paint and mouldable bath foam to have some extra fun. Tonight, however, we took bath time to a new level and Isabelle had a bit of a disco bath rave! (Apologies in advance for the really poor photographs - the dark made is very difficult to capture anything without it being fuzzy so I gave up pretty quickly!)

We had some glo-sticks left over from a light box activity (more on this in a few weeks) which I knew would be perfect for bath time, as I have seen them be used many times by other mummies. We flicked off the lights, cracked our glo-sticks and got our party started!

We only had 5 glo-sticks left, but as it was already totally dark in the room it was enough to give us a great glow from under the water. We splashed about and waved them for a while, before Isabelle asked for "Some music daddy, music so I can dance"! She is obviously going to be a party animal when she is older - unlike her dad and I. Simon popped some music on from his phone and Isabelle stood in the bath and had a rave! She loved waving the glo-sticks around, and the bathroom was pitch black so it gave a great visual effect and they wiggled and glowed.

Isabelle had asked for some of her little cups in the bath - these are actually neon shot glasses from the pound shop which were also left over from our light box activity. She spent a while scooping and pouring with these before I squirted some of our mouldable bath foam into one of the glasses to make a 'shot'. Simon stuck a glo-stick 'straw' in to it and it gave the coolest effect - the light from the glo-stick lit up the foam from inside and made the foam and the glass glow too! We poured some more shots and lined them up on the edge of the bath to have glo-sticks stuck in by Isabelle. She loved putting the sticks into the cups, and kept asking us to fill them with foam. The foam smells of strawberries, which added another dimension to our sensory play.

It was a short bath, as Isabelle was tired from a day running about outside with her friends, but it jam packed full of sensory fun.

(The glo-sticks and foam are not edible, so this activity requires extremely close supervision).

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Isabelle's book wall

The last thing missing from Isabelle's playroom was an area where her books were more accessible so she doesn't constantly have to ask for us to get her stories, she can help herself whenever she likes. Isabelle loves stories - she can sit for half an hour or longer and listen to different books, and often she will sit and 'read' them to herself.

We previously had all her books on two shelves in the playroom. One she could reach but had just a few books on it, and the other she couldn't access. Yesterday I decided that the whole bookcase needed tidied up, as the bottom shelf was a mess of board games we never play, and bits and bobs we have collected recently (paper plates, plastic cups, a deck of cards...). I moved all the board games, and our wedding album, upstairs and replaced them with our craft materials which had been on the shelf above. That allowed me to move all Isabelle's books down a shelf so she can now reach them all.

That led to a delightful hour of her pulling out book after book and bringing them to me, before declaring she didn't want them read...she just needed them out.

However, the catalyst behind the whole reshuffle was the creation of a small book wall for her - somewhere that she can see her books and access them easily. Of course, like half the country, to make this I used two Ikea picture ledges.

I had initially thought of putting these behind the door, however they didn't quite fit. Instead, Simon trimmed them down to size and he popped them up beside our Expedit unit which houses all her toys. I did buy 3, but after deciding on the height of the first shelf we decided just to use two of them.

To start us off, I have put some of Isabelle's favourite books up on them - ones she asks for all the time. On the top shelf we have her big nursery rhyme book (which is actually too big to fit on the bookcase shelves!), Toddle Waddle and A Friend Like You. Both Toddle Waddle and A Friend Like You were bought in big book sets from The Book People - we have ended up with so many great books buy buying that way, and it makes buying her books so cheap. Last week I got 20 books for just £16!

On the lower shelf we have The Tiger Who Came To Tea (her absolute favourite), Peace at Last, The Snowman and Knock Knock, Open The Door! She adores all those books - even though The Snowman obviously has no words so I tell it slightly differently every time!

I plan to change the books around regularly to include some of her favourites, any new books, and any we haven't read in a while. I love this little addition to our playroom - which is now absolutely bursting at the seams, and looks totally chaotic even when it's tidy! I am hoping it will help us continue to raise Isabelle as a bookworm, although she is currently well on the way without our help!

Monday, 16 February 2015

New Kitchen Plans

Our house is pretty great, and over the last 4 years we have managed to change almost all the bits we weren't in love with to create a lovely space for us and Isabelle. There were some 'interesting' wall colours when we moved in, and so most of the revamp took place by buying vast amounts of cream paint. We redid Isabelle's bedroom before she was born, and I posted about the playroom space that we created. Bigger jobs were the bathroom and ensuite, which Simon and his dad tackled. The main bathroom still isn't quite what I would love, but it's much better than before and it is much more our style.

That just leaves one, pretty big, area of the house which we both hate. The kitchen. There is nothing about the kitchen that we like at all. The main problem, as we see it, is that it's so dark. Dark tiles on the floor, dark tiles on the walls and dark kitchen cabinets. We hate it. There is also a ridiculous 'bit' of worktop and shelving which sticks out into the middle of the room - not a breakfast bar, just an annoyance. We have talked many times about what we would do to the kitchen if we changing it and then last year, we decided that the time was right - we have the money, we don't have any other projects's time.

Yesterday we had our first meeting with our kitchen designer. That sounds a lot fancier than it actually was considering, like all our home furniture, we have decided to get our new kitchen from Ikea. A lot of people turn their nose up at Ikea kitchens but, actually, they are pretty great. My parents installed an Ikea utility room and it looks great and does a perfect job. We also know that Ikea will be considerably cheaper than elsewhere. Since we know we aren't staying in this house forever, we don't want to spend £10,000+ on a kitchen we won't get the best from. So, Ikea it is. Ikea have a great kitchen planner you can access at home to start drawing up your kitchen plans before you ever see them, which is what I had done and what we arrived with yesterday. The Ikea kitchen guys were great and helped us work out the kinks and issues, and gave us some really helpful tips on what would work best where. It's so exciting to see our kitchen taking shape!

So here is a little look at some of what we are hoping will be in our brand new kitchen....

I'll update more as the kitchen revamp progresses!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Tula & me!

I mentioned in a post last week that I got a brand new Tula, and was gushing about how much I love it.

I've posted lots of times before about my babywearing ways, which have now blended into my toddler-wearing ways. Even though Isabelle is 23lbs and almost 2 years old, I still love wearing her - in fact now more than ever as she can chatter in my ear as we walk, and we have some lovely mummy & me time.

I had never been a fan of buckle style carriers but last summer I noticed that my mei tai wasn't feeling comfortable anymore and it felt like I needed more support, so buckles were the way to go. From there, it has been a slippery slope into the Tula world.

It started when I bought a preloved Retro Bikes print canvas Tula after lusting over it for some time. I was immediately won over as not only was it just gorgeous, but it was so, so comfortable. Isabelle felt weightless the first time I popped her into it, and after adjusting it properly there was nowhere that it pulled, pinched, dug in or felt sore. I still can't get over how absolutely weightless she feels when I wear her in a Tula! It adjusts with buckles under the arms, around the waist and on the chest strap. I have them all as tight as they will do, and can honestly say that the Tula is the most comfortable way I have ever worn Isabelle. The padded straps never dig in, and the wide waist band really spreads her weight well.

After buying the Retro Bikes, I spent an insane amount of time on various Tula Facebook groups lusting over other prints and carriers. It was there that I learnt about the world of wrap conversion Tulas - carriers they make with woven wraps. This is where the Tula world gets a bit crazy.

The WC Tulas are only sold in stockings. Tula release these WCs in small batches during a stocking. They post them at a specified time on their website and only those with the fastest finger manage to buy one. In the USA, they sell out in seconds. Us European bunch are much more civilised, and it can be at least several minutes until ours are all gone! Because they are released in such small batches, these Tulas become very highly sought after and their price sky rockets. A WC you can buy for £200 can end up being sold on for £800 or more! It's a supply and demand market, and the demand is high while supply is low, so WC Tulas just become more and more sought after, pushing prices up even more....a perpetual cycle.

Anyway, I decided to give a stocking a go and was gutted not to score the Tula I wanted, but did score another. However, I knew I wouldn't love it, and when it arrived I never even tried it on and sold it to a mum in America on the bst (buy/sell/trade board). In the meantime, I bought a new Arrows print Tula to console myself after a rough time in November, and after initially hating it it really grew on me.

Over Christmas, I calmed down a bit, but then two weeks ago there was another EU stocking. During January I spent an insane amount of time eyeing up Tula WCs online, and had fallen in love with all things rainbow. I tried to get the most sought after rainbow in the stocking but failed....then ended up with my gorgeous Girasol Rainbow instead. I'm so pleased as I really do love it, and I have been walking the dogs more than ever just so I can get lots of use out of it!

I recently came across a Tula Pinterest board which has, seemingly, every Tula ever on it! If you follow my Pinterest you will have seen the insane number of Tulas I pinned earlier this week, because I would just love any of them! There is a definite rainbow theme....and also a serious price tag theme. Since I will probably never score any of these, I would have to pay market value which, for a few, is over £1500! No way. Never. So instead, I will admire them online. Here are a few of my favourites...

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Toddler snacks: Banana, honey and oat muffins

I'm always looking out for new snacks for Isabelle so when I overheard these muffins being talked about in the staffroom at school, I knew they would be a great option. The banana and honey in them give them a great natural sweetness without needing to add any sugar (although the recipe does call for it, but I left it out).

I have to admit, this recipe is entirely stolen from the Home Economics department of my school...and moreover they actually gave me all the ingredients, which were weighed and measured out! As I'm not a natural baker, that was just perfect for me, and I was delighted when the technician brought me my bag of goodies with the recipe!

250g plain flour
75g porridge oats
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp dried nutmeg (or cinnamon to avoid allergies)
2 medium sized, ripe, bananas
1 egg (beaten)
75g vegetable margarine
30g light brown sugar
175ml semi-skimmed milk
3 tbsp runny honey

1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl
2. Mash the banana, and melt the margarine
3. Add the mashed banana, melted margarine, milk, beaten egg and honey to the dry ingredients and mix until combined
** top tip - run your spoon under the hot tap before scooping your honey out, and it will slide off perfectly **
4. Spoon the mixture into muffin cases so each is 3/4 full - mixture makes 12 muffins
5. Bake for 20 minutes in an oven at 220C, or until they are golden brown
6. Cool on a wire rack

For some reason, I cannot bake muffins that don't stick to the cases. No matter what I do, mine always stick firmly to the muffin case! Hopefully yours won't, however.

Isabelle had a munch and seemed to enjoy them, but as it was just after dinner when I made them she wasn't overly hungry. Simon and I managed to polish off 6 in one evening though, so they are definitely tasty!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Spring Bucket List

The weather has been a little bit warmer this last few days, which makes a change from the 5inches of snow and -7C weather we had for the few weeks before. I was able to walk the dogs at the weekend with just a hoodie - no coat! So even though it's still winter really, I'm starting to get excited about the onset of spring and all the different things Isabelle and I will be able to do with the lighter, drier days.

So here is my spring bucket list...

It's not going to be long until I am back at work 5 days a week, so I want to make the most of the time we have together at the minute. Swimming, gymnastics, birthday parties, breastfeeding group and lots more insider activities will be happening too, but it's the outdoor bits that I am really looking forward to.

Fingers crossed it doesn't rain the whole time...

Monday, 9 February 2015

Instagram lately

I am a huge Instagram fan, and post endless streams of pictures of Isabelle and what we get up to. The pictures are all iPhone snaps, and they certainly aren't ever set up or posed - we just snap as we go.

Here are my 9 most recent uploads - 8 of them are of course of my girl! I snap her all day long, especially any of the inane things she gets up to, so here we have (starting top left):

1// Isabelle ready for 'work'
2// Her homeless look
3// Cinderella Jay
4// Stickerhead
5// Breaking free with baby
6// Popcorn!
7// Her first plaited pigtails
8// Her awesome hiding place...under the table cloth
9// Hula hoop fun

If you don't already, you can follow along with my Instagram here:
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Saturday, 7 February 2015

Saturday with my crazy kid

The pictures below show how Isabelle spent her Saturday morning. She got all her bits for her "outfit" and insisted I help her put them on. Then she got the keys and told me "I going to work now, mummy!". After spending ten minutes playing with the lock (since when was she tall enough to reach on her own?!) she filled her bag with goodies - the house phone, my mobile, the keys, mini pegs and my pens. The keys then came back out again and were tucked into her "pocket". My child is nuts, and absolutely hilarious. 

After she was finally convinced to derobe from her peculiar outfit, and after her nap, we headed out with the dogs. I used our brand new wrap conversion Tula (shhh, don't tell Simon!). I scored it in their stocking last week**, and have been so excited for it to arrive! I have wanted a rainbow WC tula for ages, and this was the first one I ever really lusted after. I was a little nervous that I wouldn't love it after a bad experience with my last WC Tula, but it is absolutely love. Such a comfortable carrier, and just beautiful as well. I may dedicate a whole post to Tulas soon... Anyway, I know people think I am crazy for lugging my almost 2 year old around on my back, but I love it. The whole time I walked she chatted way in my ear, and she is at the most wonderful stage where we can actually have little conversations with one another as her speech is developing so well. We chatted about all we saw, and I felt so lucky and privileged to have been given the gift of such an amazing daughter.

After our walk we had lunch and I managed to spectacularly burn mine. I made the quesadillas I featured a while ago, and after we gobbled those up we headed out to see my granny. My sister in law, nephews and dad all turned up at various points so it was a busy afternoon. 
Isabelle has been a bit(!) under the weather with a cold this week so when we got home she really was the worse for wear. She ended up being carted off to bed at 6.30pm, a sobbing wreck. It's been a tough week for us as she has been so miserable, but today was such a great day that it helped blow the cobwebs away.

(**for non-Tula mums that means I ordered it during a stocking in which the Tulas go up and sell out within minutes - it's an achievement to score! )

Friday, 6 February 2015

52 Books in 52 Weeks: books 1 - 5

Earlier this month I proclaimed that I was starting my own little challenge to read 52 books in 52 weeks, after neglecting reading for far too long.

I can't actually believe that I have read 5 books in the last 4/5 weeks! I, amazed that I have managed to find the time, but it just shows that I have been wasting time on nothing (Facebook!) in the evenings when I could be doing something else. It's been great to be reading so much again, and I can honestly say that it doesn't feel like a challenge or a chore at all, it feels just right to be reading so much again.

Every so often I'm planning to bring you an update on what I've been reading, so I thought that now would be a good time to share with you books 1-5.

1// Glittering Fortunes by Victoria Fox
This is a perfect book to take on holiday. It's not remotely taxing to read, it holds your interest, and there are some parts which were so filthy they made me blush! It's the usual boy and girl meet, overcome adversity and their dislike of one another to find they are actually in love. I particularly liked the parts set in Norfolk in places which I know from visiting Simon's family. One for when your brain isn't quite in gear.

2// Love Detective by (not pictured)
This was wonderful. A girl goes to India to escape her hum drum life, and ends up chasing her sister across then ou try. Of course she falls in love with a handsome stranger along the way. What I loved about this story was the detail of India. It made me want to go there, to visit and experience all the sights, sounds and smells which were described so well. I love bools which are written in first person, as it makes the thoughts and events much funnier - to me anyway. This is definitely one I would recommend - I couldn't put it down!

3// Spare Brides by Adele Parks
Not my usual sort of book at all. It is set in the early 1920s, and I'm not usually a fan of period dramas. It was slow to get into, but I ended up thorough enjoying it. It follows four high society girls after the war, and is mainly focused on an affair one of them is having. What I found interesting was how much it made men hine about the war and the aftermath. I don't particularly have an interest in history and it never crosses my mind. It certainly isn't something I would normally read about, so the fact that I enjoyed this and it made me think is testimony to the book.

4// Undertaking Love by Kat French
Classic chick lit. Girl meets guy, they have a cant stand one another/actually love one another relationship which ends in the obvious get together. I really enjoyed this book, but I did feel likes something wasn't quite right with it - something about it just didn't ring true but I can't put my finger on it. I did, however, cry bucket loads at two very emotional points during it, so much so that my mascara was liberally streaked across my cheek and my hoodie! Another which I would recommended .

5// Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream by Abby Clements
This was in my original pile of books to read last year and yet it's only now I am getting round to it. It started of on a good note as the main character is a teacher with whom I therefore found it easy to relate - especially since she is treated badly and works in a school of total hoodlams! This was a great story which follows Amelia and Jack as they move to the country and renovate a cottage. It made me want to live in an old cottage! And inspired me to start a mood board on Pinterest for our new kitchen. However, as much as I really did love it (and then end left me smiling), the timeline in it just didn't seem right. Once they move to the country everything in the book seemed to happen so quickly, and without any real conviction. The whole house was renovated in 4 months which doesn't seem that feasible, for example. Just a niggle of mine. But overall, a big thumbs up.

I have actually picked Spare Brides for the inaugural book for the new book club I am part of, however I would recommend Love Detective most highly.

On to books 6 - 10!

Thursday, 5 February 2015

That glorious moment...

When the toddler is napping, dinner is bubbling in the slow cooker and it's time for tea, cake and a book.

And that moment lasted today for 1hr and 45minutes while Isabelle napped. Sadly, the cake lasted for less than 1 minute 45 seconds...

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

5 ways to explore the sense of TOUCH

(This was a guest post earlier this week, linking up with Adventures of Adam and their 5 Senses Challenge.)

Isabelle is very like me in many ways...including her uncertainty of certain textures. For a while, this was frustrating when we tried to take part in sensory play as it meant she often refused to touch the materials! However, I soon learnt that sensory play was actually the best way of developing her sense of touch by giving her lots of opportunities to touch a wide variety of materials and therefore allow her to become comfortable with textures on her terms.

Isabelle's biggest 'touch' dislike seems to be any material which appears wet. She is happy to play all day with dry materials, but if it seems wet or sticky she isn't happy. With that in mind, I have set up lots of different activities geared towards her sense of touch to help varying degrees of success! Here is a quick round up of some of our favourites.

It was with this play dough that I first really worked out that the reason Isabelle balked at some play activities was the texture - she cried ON SIGHT at the play dough! However, it was also the first time I realised how important it was to continue to offer her these play opportunities as, by the end of the play session, she has become a total dough addict and it is now one of her favourite things! This play dough is different than normal dough, as it uses a special ingredient to become super stretchy and oh so silky.

This gloop (or goop) was always a big risk to take with Isabelle. She had actually played with a similar material before and loved it, but when faced with this cornflour and water mix she was having none of it! She did deign to touch the mixture after some play time which I took as a huge success, but other than that she was not interested. Simon and I, on the other hand, adore this stuff! It has the weirdest texture ever - both solid and liquid! One of my absolute favourite 'touch' materials.

Another big risk was our clean glitter mud mixture. This has a soapy, slimy, soft feel to it which is very different to anything else we have played with. It was mouldable and sloppy all at the same time! Isabelle was happy to use the tools to squish and mix it and even let it on her feet, but she wasn't thrilled with the idea of touching it at all. She did, once or twice, and decided it wasn't for her at all. 

This mouldable foam soap is one of very few sensory materials we buy 'ready made'. It came from Poundland and has provided us with endless entertainment. Thicker than shaving foam, mouldable, and totally delicious smelling, this mouldable foam soap was initially met with tears. However, Isabelle soon came round after prodding it with her finger a few times and getting used to it's unique texture. It also expands straight after being sprayed from the can which is loads of fun!

A 'safe' way for Isabelle to explore different textures is to offer them to her in through the medium of a sensory balloon - balloons filled with a variety of materials which give a real workout to her sense of touch. She can poke, squash, squeeze and even throw the different materials when they are in this form in a way she feels more comfortable. Our sensory balloons were a big hit - filled with a mix of wet and dry materials they allowed Isabelle the chance to explore while still feeling safe and happy.

These are just some of our favourite activities to challenge the sense of touch and help little people explore the world around them with their hands to help them become comfortable with the huge number of sensations we all deal with every day.

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Isabelle sleep talks...

Actually, Isabelle sleep SHOUTS.

When I was younger I used to sleep walk quite frequently, and once I even ended up outside the house during the night. I have always sleep talked, especially during times of high stress in my life like when I start a new job.

So it's really no surprise, I guess, that Isabelle is also a sleep talker. She quite often just mumbles and we can hear her through the monitor, or sometimes you can heat different little words floating down.

However, more recently there has been NO doubt at all what she is saying, because Isabelle has started sleeping shouting. For some reason, recently Isabelle is angry while she is asleep and she wants to tell us about it!

The last two nights have been two of my favourites. She has a bit of a cold at the minute which maybe isn't helping her state of mind, and it also means she hasn't been sleeping well so we have had her in with us. Two nights ago, I woke up to her yelling...


She really does love chips, but I am yet to see her baby steal any - but it's obviously something she is worried about! Then, last night it was...


You can see she is quite possessive about her food and drink...

Both times she was sound asleep, and she actually has always had a habit of crying while sound asleep and at times we have had to really work to wake her up to get her to stop crying. 

I have no doubt that when she is bigger she will be up wandering the halls in the middle of the night. I do not look forward to the day when I wake up and she is standing at my bedside yelling about food.

However, I do very much look forward to her being 16 years old. I shall creep into her room at 4am, nuzzle right up to her ear...and scream "NO THAT'S MY CHIPS!" 

Monday, 2 February 2015

Why do we bother with toys?

Do you ever look round your play room full of toys and think "Why do I bother buying these?".

Isabelle doesn't have a huge amount of toys, but she has plenty. Almost all of them have been carefully chosen by me after a lot of thought and deliberation. We don't buy her toys on a whim, and coming up to Christmas and her birthday I can be found scouring the internet for ideas of what to get her next. I'm so lucky that our families always ask what we want, so we don't end up with piles of things that aren't our style of toy.

I do wonder though, quite often, what on earth the point is in me spending hours online looking at toys for her, before excitedly buying her presents. Because, more often than not, Isabelle doesn't even look sideways at most of her toys!

Here are some of the things she played with today...

The house phone
Pom poms and cut up straws
Her shoes
A plastic bowl
The washing machine
Lollipop sticks
The back door keys
Candles (unlit!)

She does play with her toys, especially her kitchen (although that's where she plays pom poms, making us 'Pom pom soup'), and she loves her books. But I can definitely say that she plays most often with things that are not traditional, shop bought toys. 

When I see pictures of how much other kids get for Christmas and their birthday it does make me feel like a mean mummy for only giving her a few presents. But this is the reason why. For now, my kid is just as happy playing with a 10p piece as she is playing with a £10 toy!

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