Do you have a favourite outfit for your child(ren)

Do you have a favourite outfit for your child(ren)? 

I totally do.

I love dungarees. I luuuurve polka dots, I adore purple –  putting them together and adding some corduroy made me feel things that you just probably shouldn’t about clothes! And what’s more, I just happened across this one day in H&M. There was only one pair on the shelves and they were in the next size up and as everyone knows, H&M clothes are very reasonably priced. It was as if the clothing fate fairy just landed in our lap. I had to have them (for my little Bug, of course!) 

Image

I snatched them up and hurried to the till and Bug has been wearing this pair (sized 12 months) for at least the last couple of months – of course now she is starting to fit them, I am panicking about her outgrowing them. I am the kind of clothes shopper, that when I find something I really REALLY like, I need lots of them in different sizes and colours! 

They wash beautifully, I can tumble dry them (which is a god send for any mum) and there’s no ironing needed as they come up beautifully.

H&M don’t appear to have them online anymore or in any stores and ebay are not showing any second hand pairs (apart from one pair in her current size, in an auction I have missed).

My advise to other mums; when you find something you like – buy it and stash it, choose one in every colour, and size until they are 18 (or have their own opinion on what to wear!)

I am so SO sad that this love affair with them will be over soon, so this is a very public plea H&M:

H&M – Please help me love your fabulous clothes for just a little bit longer and help me find a bigger size dungarees ❤

Choosing a Canvas

For our first wedding anniversary my lovely wife bought me a canvas print of us kissing on our wedding day, because the 1st year is paper right?! (Yes, some of gays also follow the traditional themes too you know!)

We also have a canvas print of a beautiful picture taken by my favourite photographer ever, Sara-Jane of Shutterbaby of our Bug when she was 16 weeks old. This picture was actually the picture that launched her Baby Modelling career! 

So, when I was offered the chance to review a Canvas from Canvas Design, I jumped at the chance as I have been meaning to add a couple of new Canvas Prints to our living room and we had some brand spanking new high res pictures of the kids to pop on, courtesy of the fabulous above-mentioned photographer! 

I was super excited to receive the packaged up canvas that was sent via courier and very quickly too:

Image

I made us very late for some appointment as I couldn’t wait to get my desperate mitts on it. It was packaged up securely in several layers of bubble wrap, naturally and it was definitely a scissors out jobby….rather than using teeth and fingers in a mad rush which is my normal style!

Image

I’ve made the mistake of ordering a too-cheap-and-too-good-to-be-true Canvas before, and I could just tell straight away that the quality on this Canvas was FAR superior. The actual canvas is 380gsm pure cotton and the frame is made of pine sourced from European forests.  They only use 18mm or 38mm pine gallery bars to make your canvas print frame. They do not use the cheap solution that most other canvas printing companies tend to use.

Image

Canvas Design was formed back in 2004 from an idea that originated from designing wallpaper. One of their customers had asked if they had heard of Canvas prints and whether they could do that too, and so, a new love affair with Canvas began. They’ve been printing canvas ever since and have even been featured on TV shows such as ITV’s 60 Minute Makeover.

Their frames start at 6inches and go all the way up to 40inches and their pricing is from £7.99, making it affordable and accessible for all. Their pricing can be found here.

Delivery is FREE on all orders and they aim to deliver all orders within 48 hours. You will receive a text the day before delivery just to let you know it has been dispatched and on the day of delivery you will receive a time slot, which you can change if not convenient.

Et voilà ! Our Canvas print, hung and ready to be admired. I adore this picture and getting to look at it every day, is a real treat and makes my heart happy!

Image

Canvas Designs have very kindly offered all my readers 15% off any order by using the code BLOG15.

Aaaaaaaaaaand as if that’s not good enough, why not enter an amazing competition to win your very own canvas? Canvas Design are offering one of my lucky readers a free canvas of ANY size (from 6×6 to 40×40). 

<a id=”rc-1429e71″ class=”rafl” href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1429e71/&#8221; rel=”nofollow”>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>
<script src=”//d12vno17mo87cx.cloudfront.net/embed/rafl/cptr.js”></script>

* I received the product mentioned in this post free of charge, to review from my own perspective. All words, experiences and opinions are genuinely and entirely my own.*

How to create a ladybug themed birthday party

We did it! Bug is officially 1.

Her birthday party was amazing and went without a hitch. The wife did not keel over at the amount of people I had invited and not quite told her about and the sun literally shone down on us all…..so we did what we do best and we fired up the BBQ! We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day!

We are really, REALLY lucky and know a LOT of talented people, who helped create such an amazing event. Bug had the best Ladybug birthday party a 1 year old could wish for. Here are my favourite things from the day:

1. Bug’s cake

It was one of the talking points of the whole event. Made by the UBER talented Peny, at Megberry Cupcakes, who has been making bespoke cakes for our family for as long as I have been ordering bespoke cakes. I wouldn’t EVER go anywhere else. Her work truly speaks for itself and I’ve never been unhappy/disappointed or let down by her, ever. How amazing is this though:

Image

2. Custom made gingerbread cookies made by Ice My Biscuit, made especially for Bug!

I think all I had said is ‘Ladybird/Ladybug themed’  and Steph totally understood what I was looking for and created the perfect platter for us. How talented must you be, to be able to create something so intricate, so detailed and so darned delicious! Again, they were a big talking point and I’m REALLY glad I stashed a couple away to have some with a cup of tea later! She also posts her biscuits, so you don’t necessarily have to be local!

Image

3. Happy birthday Ladybug banner

Purchased on ebay, it was perfect to add a little extra ladybug glamour to the event!

Image

4. Ladybug tablecloth

Another ebay purchase – you can buy them from online party stores, but much cheaper on ebay! This is before we loaded it with food. Look at that SUNSHINE!

Image

5. Ladybug dress

No party is complete without a cute 1 year old, in a gorgeous ladybird dress, here’s Bug bossing her Nanny on her birthday!

This one is from Gymboree, it’s 6-12 months and she has worn it from 6 months right up to her 1st birthday. I will be super sad when we have to retire it, but not quite yet! ImageIs it wrong that I’ve started to plan our 6 year old’s 7th Summer birthday party already?!

Whatever you do, I hope you have a successful event!

x

Planning a 1st birthday party

20140228-233146.jpg

I’ve been planning Bugs party since the day she arrived, practically.

Anybody that knows me, will know that I love any excuse to have a get together and a 1st party is not exception. I know lots of people who think their pretty pointless and it’s absolutely true that baby won’t remember! We’re doing it really as a celebration for having survived the 1st year.

We’re lucky to now live in a pretty big house, but even though I’ve tried to be selective, I think I’ve invited too many people.

Oh well, we will just make it work!

I did for a second look at hiring a space, but of course as we have planned it on a Sunday, many of the local church halls are not available and I’m not changing the date!

I’m also trying to organise this whilst watching the pennies!

So far – wine has been ordered through an account I have with an online company, who had given me a 40 pound voucher.

Food has been ordered using our Nectar points.

Plates, and decorations have been ordered via ebay, with the rest of my nectar points!

Cake – small special one from a friend who makes them and a larger one for the masses from Costco!

All that’s left is fruit and veg from market for buffet, prosecco from Aldi and houmous and olives from my local Turkish store! Oh and I need Cutlery from the pound shop.

In an ideal world, the weather would be warmer and we would have outside games, but I truly do have enough toys indoors to keep the little ones entertained.

I have 6 hours of children’s songs to annoy the parents with and a couple of pass the parcel games ready!

Party bags have been finalised with some bargains I picked up recently and some leftover bits I had from Luke’s last party.

Amazingly, I feel pretty organised and there’s a week to go!

E x

The Mum tag

The super lovely Kate from Willow Makes Three has tagged me in her ‘The Mum tag’ post. It’s a great way to get to know more about me and to get involved with fellow bloggers. ‘The Mum tag’ consists of 20 questions, questions about before, during and life after the new arrival.

Image

1. Are you a Stay at Home Mum, or a Working Mum?

I’m a stay at home mum. I know that I am very lucky to be in this position and I hope never to take it for granted.

I wanted to be a mum for as long as I can remember (when people at school were announcing they wanted to be Doctors, Scientists, Lawyer’s etc, I just wanted to be a Mum) and when Bug came along, it didn’t make sense financially for me to work with 2 needing childcare and luckily both my wife and I wanted me to be at home with them. 

It has been difficult though as all my friends with babies of a similar age, are either going back to work, or have gone back to work and so I’ll find myself in the position of having to make some new friends.

2. Would you have it any other way?

No, I really wouldn’t. 

3. Do you co-sleep?

Not now. In the early days we did as a way to cope and get through the night. I was breastfeeding and it was just easier.  Now, luckily Bug sleeps well (fingers crossed) in her own cot. Of course, both the kids get to join us in our SuperKing Bed at the weekend…. which is the reason we bought such a big bed!

4. What is your one must-have item for your baby?

Oh gosh, you’re asking someone that is addicted to baby stuff, about ONE ITEM?!

Funnily enough I was thinking about this the other day. We have a Motorola Video Monitor, and it has been an absolute godsend and saved many trips up and down stairs. It’s a complete Luxury that I just couldn’t be without. I do think its helped us get on a proper schedule with Bug, and allowed her to sleep through the night. If I had heard her stirring/crying on a regular baby monitor, I am sure I would have gone into her room to check on her and she is quite a light sleeper – I would have woken her. I can check on her safely from a distance, and allow her to self soothe when she needs to.

Image

5. How many kids do you plan on having?

Both my wife and I always wanted 5, but of course this depends on so many factors, our age, my fertility, our donor’s availability, how difficult the terrible 2’s are for Bug….. eep!

6. Date night? How many nights per month?

We’re trying to get out once a month, I think its really important to have couple time, to have time to be something other than a parent. The first one being this Saturday, as a birthday ‘thing’. The wife is arranging it all, so it will be a complete surprise. I’ll let you know how it goes 😉

7. Your child’s favourite show?

Bug isn’t interested in the TV at AL! It’s like it doesn’t exist. Luke loves it of course, and his favourite show changes on a weekly basis, from Tree Fu Tom, Scooby Doo, Grandpa in my Pocket and Ben 10!

8. Name one thing you bought before you had your baby and never ended up using?

Soooooo many clothes. We were utterly spoilt by friends and family and on packing away the clothes she had so many things she hadn’t even worn, still with labels in tact. Everything has been packed away for future children of ours (or hopefully, my sisters!)

9. Your child’s favourite food?

I so want to say corn, because she really, really loves it and it’s healthy right and therefore we are wonderful parent’s – ha. But if I am being completely honest, she cannot seem to get enough of Heinz Biscotti biscuits. *Shamefaced*

10. How many cars does your family have?

Just the one, a ford C-Max, which I feel like we have already outgrown.

When we were looking for a new car, I was pushing heavily for a 7 seater, but in the end we decided to go for the C-Max, feeling like it was spacious enough. So I’d like to say publicly to my wife: I TOLD YOU SO!

Image

11. Weight gain before pregnancy, during and after and now?

URGH. I was already overweight before I got pregnant, and put on about 1.5 stone during pregnancy which I was actually quite pleased with. Struggling to get rid of it now. Now that Bug is walking, perhaps all the chasing after her will help shed a few lbs! Here’s hoping.

12. Dream holiday with your kids?

Last year we were lucky enough to have my dream holiday; we spent a week in Texas, visiting our in-laws and extended family and introducing Bug to them, then we flew with my MIL to a villa in Orlando and spent a month there, having friends flying over to join us, then we flew back to Texas for a week to see the family again. We had a house with a pool in Orlando, the kids both love the water, it was blissful and to be honest pretty hard to top! We’ll probably not get that opportunity again, because the wife wont get such a large chunk of time off work like that again. It was perfectly timed!

13. Dream holiday without your kids?

As sappy as this sounds, I honestly wouldn’t be happy on holiday without the kids! I’d be too busy worrying about them!

14. How has your life changed since your baby has been born?

It hasn’t much. I was already a Mum to Luke, but I was working part time – now I’m a stay at home mum full time. We were already doing family stuff and waking up early every weekend 😉

15. Finish the sentence: ‘It makes my heart melt to see …

My two playing with/hugging/loving on each other:

 

Image

16. Where do you shop for your kids?

Where don’t I! I’ll shop anywhere from Primark for basic white onesies to use as layers, to children’s fashion stores, such as Cissy Wears. I do however try to shop smart and use sales, vouchers and special offers to get bargains. I ain’t no dummy!

17. Favourite makeup and skin care products?

Shortly after I had Bug, I had a makeover at the Bobbi Brown counter in John Lewis, as a way to make me feel better about the weight I had put on and hide the dark circles under my eyes. I’ve been a convert ever since and use ALL of their products. I am also a really big fan of Nivea moisturising cream and Lush Dream Cream is AMAZING for dry skin/people suffering with eczema. 

18. Huggies or Pampers?

Pampers, but even better than Pampers – Aldi nappies. Cheaper, too!

19. Have you always wanted kids?

Since, for-EVER.

20. Best part about being a mum?

Every single bit. Even when you are downright knackered, worst day ever, crying into your chocolates – something amazing will happen; Luke will make Mummy an amazing and thoughtful picture, Bug will do something incredible like walk for the first time. Something always happens to remind you how wonderful your family really is and how lucky you are.

It is certainly the most amazing thing that has happened to me, and several people have commented that it has been the ‘making of me’. I don’t know whether I entirely agree, but I think being a mum has made me a little more compassionate, more sympathetic, a little more patient and a LOT more of a cry baby!

Hopefully that gives you a better insight in to me, Do you want to do ‘The Mum tag’?

Keeping in touch with family overseas when you have children

It’s can be very difficult having family who live so far away.

Image

it almost feels like it is an entire days plane ride away. In reality its a 9-10 hour flight from Lonfon to Dallas, but with check in and the travel to the airport, it really feels like a full day, I cant think of how difficult it is for those who have family in Oz. Then of course you have the challenge of squeezing as many special moments into the precious time you have together.

In an ideal we would be closer of course, but I am so very thankful that we have technology that we have today, that allows us to keep in touch and allows them to watch their grandchildren grow and not feel like they are missing out too much. My top tips for keeping in touch with family abroad when you have children are;

– Weekly Skype chats: We have a scheduled chat every Sunday evening with Grammy and Poppy and I think its really important that we have that connection. It gives us as chance to go over what we have been doing in the week, talk about any funny stories from the week we might want to share, let the kids do their homework with the grandparents. We also try to Skype big events if people can’t make it – we transmitted out wedding in Boston, via the internet – it was amazing!

– Facebook: You can set up a private group to share videos and pictures and family news if you don’t fancy clogging up your feed.

– Email: Once your children can type they may love having a go on the computer and sending messages out to family. Luke certainly loves typing out messages, and LOOOOVES using the smilies! Some people get pages and pages of them 😉

YouTube: For special birthdays and when we have lots of time we record video messages to send to family. We’re always taking video and I am permanently attached to my phone so we can catch everything from first crawl, to first steps to singing silly songs in the car.

iMessage/FaceTime: Grammy just got an iPhone, which means we can send free iMessages (just like SMS messages) back and forward instantly and FaceTime pretty much anywhere, it does make them feel like we are closer when things are in ‘realtime’.

I also FaceTime with my middle sister Jo, who lives in Liverpool (a bit closer than Dallas!), and somehow it makes the distant just feel a bit less so. We speak almost every day, and it’s really, really important to me that Luke and Lilla grow up knowing their family.

Phone:  Our families numbers are saved in our phone under the name our children refer to them (i.e. Nana, Grammy & Poppy, Nana Joan etc) and Luke now knows how to pick the phone up. It’s important to me that they feel like they can pick up the phone anytime to have a conversation with them.

Photos: Not only do I take pics of the kids obviously, but we take pictures of their artwork and achievements to share with the extended family. I’ll often take up free photos offers too online, to print pics of the kids out to send to family. I used some professional pictures we had done in September of 2013 and managed to keep quiet about them and use them in a calendar Christmas present.

Mail: Everyone loves to receive something in the mail, that isn’t a bill right? So why not think about sending something your children have crafted to family members.

Pinterest: There are LOTS of great ideas for craft ideas that would be great presents online, I could spend hours on Pinterest.

Do you have any different and fun ways to keep in touch with friends and family?

An unexpectedly lovely day out

We’ve been a bit quiet of late at ATBS towers, as Grammy has been visiting us from the US and staying with us for the last 10 days. We’ve had a REALLY lovely, special (and mega busy) time, and are all very sad to see her go. It’s funny how even though we didn’t really have any firm plans, we found ourselves running from this to that with hardly a moment spare!

Bug (of course) had been saving herself up her BIG WALKING MOMENT for when Grammy was here, having crawled first when we were on holiday with Grammy. It’s clear this baby loves herself an audience! This made us all very happy and Luke has very much enjoyed all the extra cuddles and naps, too. 

So, having dropped Luke and school and Grammy off at Heathrow for her flight home, the wife, bug and I drove into town for a casting with River Island for Bug today.

I have to say of the castings we have been to, it was the calmest, most pleasant experience to date. The Studio was on the fourth floor and had a lift! Oh yes, I’ve been to some very awkward castings, on a high floor  in an old building with rickety stairs, with NO lift before!

I was a bit surprised when she was invited to the casting, we love their clothes for Luke but I didn’t think they made anything for babies. They didn’t – until now! So that’s exciting, River Island will be selling awesome baby clothes soon!

Image

Crossing fingers for Bug that she gets this job, to add to her growing bank balance!

We also tried to find somewhere to lunch in Shoreditch, enjoying a rare day today in town, in the sunshine.

The first place we tried, of course was a bit too hipster for us and didn’t have a highchair and I was about to tweet ‘Shoreditch hates babies’ (which is totally inaccurate) but then we stumbled across The Goodlife Diner in Shoreditch, who definitely welcome kids and had a cool thing chair to clip on the diner table so Bug could sit with us (yay!) and actually their food was pretty dang good. It certainly passed the ‘American’ test with the wife and that’s ‘something’ 😉

They even gave Bug an Etch-A-Sketch to play with. Hand’s up who remembers those! 

All in all it was an unexpectedly lovely day.

E x