Tuesday, 18 July 2017

6 Things I've Learnt in the First Year of Motherhood.

And so it's here. Violet's birthday is a mere two days away and I'm feeling strangely nostalgic. I keep thinking "this time last year..." and all the memories of pregnancy come flooding back as if it were yesterday. Today marks a year since I was 35+5 weeks pregnant and my waters went, marking the beginning of a long 32 hours of labour. I've never quite experienced anything as adrenaline-filled as knowing your baby is on its way. And nothing quite as frustrating as things not progressing as quickly as you'd hoped. But that was a whole 365 days ago, and here I am with an almost-one-year-old. Here's a few things I've learnt in my first year of being a Mother:


1) The love you have for your child, is 100%, without a doubt, unconditional. And just when you think you're full to bursting, you somehow love them just a little bit more each day. 


2) The human body, in particular us females, is absolutely incredible. Breastfeeding failures aside, I grew a baby. I don't think that truly sets in until you start watching them grow up. 


3) The speed a baby learns at is beyond amazing. Seven months ago Violet had just managed to sit up without throwing herself back or falling. Now V is walking! She's gone from lying on her back to actual walking in the space of seven months - that's actual craziness! Imagine if adults learnt at that speed, we'd all be super humans. 


4) Having another human rely solely on you for everything is an unbelievable responsibility, but the best thing in the world. Violet is incredibly independent and has been from a very young age but at the end of the day she still comes back to me to provide her with lots of love, cuddles and kisses. 


5) Not exactly, something I've learnt but our little family has been brought closer together. The hubby and I have worked as a team to make all the big parental decisions that need to be made in the first year of life. I couldn't have asked for a better partner in crime!


So happy almost birthday, to the most beautiful, clever and inquisitive little lady. We love you to the moon and back pretty girl. 

Mama xx
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Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Getting Ready for One.

Untitled #89

I know I keep saying it but I really can't believe Violet will be one next week! It's crazy how quickly time goes when you have children. And crazy how quickly they grow out of things and are ready for the next stage or milestone. So after browsing the web, I've managed to pick out some bargains ready for the next few months as Violet is getting older. 

Unbelievably we're almost ready for the next stage car seat. No more newborn seat, but an actual big girls chair. We've been eyeing up some of the chairs from Joie for a while but buying a new car seat is a big decision. Ideally we want another with an ISOfix base, but I think that still leaves our options pretty open. 

It's official, the bottle has gone during the day. Violet is still having milk at bedtime and one bottle overnight but dropping them will come over time. During the day she's having lots of water and loves the novelty of using a straw or sippy cup. These ones from Tommee Tippee are fab, they are insulated so keep water nice and cool too. 

As V has a summer birthday, I love the idea of a garden party to celebrate. If the weather is on our side, we will certainly be outside playing in the paddling pool. However, I'd love to get a few more bits for the garden. This picnic bench is just the sweetest thing and could easily be used for some arts and crafts as well as meal times. 

The crab paddling pool is definitely an upgrade on our basic pool. Violet is pretty much obsessed with the hose pipe so I really wanted to get her a sprinkler type inflatable too. Let's cross everything for the sun to be shining on her birthday weekend!

It's just crazy that we're preparing for moving into the second year of Violet's life. But I'm so excited to celebrate with her and continue to watch her grow into a very independent little lady. 

Katie xx
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Monday, 10 July 2017

The New Way to Travel.



Last month we were kindly asked if we wanted to be a part the YippeeYo* ambassador and after seeing so many fab reviews and photos, we couldn't say no. So what is a YippeeYo? It's a pull-along style buggy that can be used on pretty much any terrain. 

Our YippeeYo arrived swiftly, very well packaged with lots of foam peanuts, in three pieces. We attached the wheels very easily and the buggy was ready to go. The seat has space for two children, so Violet can take a friend or Stan her teddy bear with her! The harness is easy to adjust and tightens perfectly around Violet, despite her being small for her age. 

We've taken the YippeeYo on a few trips now and always found it easy to manoeuvre around. We've even had it on the beach, which was lots of fun and definitely easier than taking the pushchair. Violet loves the fact it's close to the ground too and she can have a good look at everything that's going on. 

Keep an eye on my social media for lots more YippeeYo fun!

Katie xx

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Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Violet's Summer Wardrobe.

Untitled #88
Despite being almost one (I know, how did that happen?!) Violet is just about moving into her 9-12 month wardrobe. Realistically I won't be buying everything off this list as we will probably need more jumpers than summer dress. But they're are certainly a few things I won't be leaving on the shelves, despite the questionable weather!

I adore pretty much anything from Next and I am sadly, one of those people that is up bright an early for the sale. I can't get enough of their animal designs this year and V will definitely be rocking some over the next few months. I've spotted a flamingo romper that I'm getting for her little birthday tea party, but I just love these pack of three tees with the flamingo design too. 

Violet got so much wear out of her denim jacket last year, that she definitely needs another. This one has caught my eye, with the gorgeous frill design, making it a little bit different. And teamed with the bird romper, she will be the coolest kid on the block. 

I'm pretty addicted to M&S kids wear too and I can definitely sense a theme throughout all the stores this year. We're loving the denim effect dresses and rompers, particularly the dungaree style that could be worn way into autumn and winter. 

And it wouldn't be a summer clothing wish list without a pretty party dress. We have lots of first birthdays coming up so of course V needs something lovely to wear. I can get enough of this prom-style mint green dress from M&S and the strappy similar version from Next is just as beautiful. 

So that's my summer picks for the girlies. Have you spotted any trends you're loving for babies this year?

Katie xx

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Monday, 26 June 2017

Using a Sling Library.

If you've followed my blog for a while, you'll know I've carried Violet pretty much from day one. We've tried so many styles of carrier and each have been the right ones for us at that time and could be used in different ways to carry Violet as she got bigger. 

V was carried in a stretchy wrap for her first few months, which was amazing, especially to support her head and neck when she wasn't able to herself. The stretchy wrap is super versatile too and I can still manage to carry her in it now. 


As she has got bigger, we've used our Mei-Tai carrier pretty much constantly. It's great for front and back carrying and I love the different styles and patterns you can pick up. 

However, Violet is getting a little bigger and the Mei-Tai was becoming uncomfortable for us both. So last week I headed to a local sling library to get some advice and potentially borrow a new style of sling. I went into the library with some prior knowledge of the style of sling I wanted to try, but I was completely open to try whatever was suggested. 


When we arrived, we filled in a little registration form and had a seat. The form briefly asked why we had attended that day, so the librarians running the sling library had some idea of our needs and if we were new to baby wearing. Violet happily played and crawled about, while we waited for our turn to speak to an adviser.  We then had a 20-ish minute chat and try on, but there was no time limit to the appointment.

I spoke with one of the sling experts and after looking at my Mei-Tai, she confirmed that it is indeed too small for Violet now. So we gave a ring sling a go. The ring sling, is exactly as it sounds - one piece of material and two metal rings to tighten and loosen the sling around baby. It's really easy to use and actually something we hadn't really considered in the past. But, it's working brilliantly for us. Violet and I are both so much more comfortable and content. 



The library was really great and I would 100% recommend heading down to your local one, if your looking to try a sling for the first time or you're wanting to give something new a go. It was a really relaxed atmosphere and a great way to chat to some like-minded parents. There was no pressure to hire the slings but I was more than happy to pay the £4 a week sling-hire charge to see how we get on. I know each sling library charges different rates and some ask for a deposit, but ours is really affordable and just ask for ID. 

I found my local sling library via Facebook, so it's well worth a check in your local area if it's something you're interested in. And it's definitely a great way to try out carriers before you take the leap and buy or even a way to hire a carrier for an occasion or holiday! 

Katie xx
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Sunday, 18 June 2017

Montessori-Friendly Reading.

I think the area of Montessori that I find the most difficult is finding suitable books for Violet. Montessori tends to avoid anything fantasy based until the child is of school
age, so talking animals/inanimate objects and unrealistic stories are pretty much a no go. This has proven a little tougher than expected but I think we have just about cracked it!

I've been taking full advantage of our library and have been rotating Violet's books on a monthly basis. I thought I'd share a few of our favourite books that are Montessori-friendly. 

Realistic Picture Books

We've had a few of this style of book and actually they're one of Violet's favourites. We do lots of matching games with this style of book using her Schleich animals. I tend to do animal sounds and asking Violet to point at animals too. This definitely worked better after we'd seen the animals at a farm in real life, Violet made the connection between the real animal and the photo, making looking at this style of book a lot more fun!



Lift the Flap Books

I'm not entirely sure these are strictly Montessori but Violet loves a lift the flap book. We have a few books that are still realistic but with the gimmick of lift the flap that V enjoys. We actually picked this one up in TKMaxx for £2.99, which is an amazing place for good book bargains. 



Story Books

Just because we don't read fantasy stories, doesn't mean we can't still pick up story books. Alfie and Annie Rose stories are brilliant, they have realistic drawings and the stories are real-life stories too. 



Reference Books

This may seem a little odd, but reference style books are great picks for Montessori life. Things like atlases and encyclopaedias are a great place to start and I actually remember flicking through reference books as a child and being in awe. So far Violet has only one reference style book but even at such a young age she's been looking at the images and likes pointing out the different things. This one is from Amazon and I know we will be picking up more from this brand in the future.



Katie xx
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Monday, 12 June 2017

The End of Maternity Leave.


And just like that my maternity leave was over...I've officially been back at work for four weeks now and although I'm in a very privileged position, it still feels like the end of the total freedom of mat leave. It's a very surreal feeling having 11 months away from a working environment and then being thrown back in. I not only headed back to work in May, but I also started a new job. Which has meant meeting new people and completely starting a fresh in my working life.

I am unbelievably lucky to have found a job where I can work evenings and spend my days with V. I spend the day running around after Violet and hopefully keeping her entertained enough to avoid a meltdown. Then three evenings a week I put my nurse-head back on and look after other people's families. I would be lying if I said it's all plain sailing, it can be incredibly exhausting, but we're absolutely making it work for us. 

The biggest change of all is my Mama friends heading back to work. We've had a maternity leave routine for so long now, the change is a little strange. Like I'm starting out all over again, putting myself out there at new baby groups and attempting to meet other mums too. But that's the beauty of having a baby - you always have a talking point. Plus I'm trying new things with V too. We've been to lots of soft play areas and even tried a trial swimming lesson last week. I'm fully taking advantage of any free sessions that groups have on offer! 

So here's to the next chapter of being a working mother, let's do this!

Katie xx

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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Tips for Travelling with Little Ones.

Violet has already been on two (and a half, long story) holidays in her little lifetime. All in the UK but nonetheless they needed lots of planning and preparation to ensure we had everything we needed. It's getting close to prime holiday season, and we're heading away again in August. So here's a few tips and tricks for travelling with little ones:

Plan, Plan and Plan some more. 

I think I must have covered every eventuality in my head, so we had a plan in place of what to do if something off piste happened. Thankfully we didn't have much drama on any of our trips and being in the UK, if all else failed we could get home pretty quickly. It's a good idea to have some clue as to what you'd like to do or see when you arrive at your destination and if there are shops or local amenities close by. 



 Find the Right Accommodation. 

Villas, cottages, lodges etc. are great for families because you don't have the worry of waking your neighbour through the conjoining wall. If you're a little unsure where to start when it comes to booking somewhere family friendly, take a look at Tots To Travel*. There are thousands of recommended breaks suitable for young families, each tailored to your needs and safety checked to ensure your little ones and you have a brilliant time. 



Write a Packing List.  

I'm the queen of writing lists in my phone. I have shopping lists, blog post lists, dates for my diary, you name it, it'll be on a list. So obviously my packing needs to be listed too, that way I can ensure we've got everything. I think we can all be guilty of over-packing at time too, but I think when you're travelling with a baby or toddler it really can't be helped. But having said that, always remember you're probably not going to be too far from a supermarket or local shop so if you have forgotten anything, it's not a crisis.

Try to Keep Some Bedtime Routine. 

Violet thrives off a routine, making a home away from home, for her is the key to things running smoothly. We're pretty strict when it comes to bedtime at home, she has a routine that we stick to everyday and it really works for us. Obviously routine isn't always easy to stick to when you're away from home, however we always try to as much as possible. That means she is in bed for her usual time most nights and she will have a bath, bottle then bed, if she can. And sometimes you might need to improvise!



Find Some Family-Friendly Activities.

The sites we tend to stay on, have a play park and swimming pool, as well as things for older children. It's a good idea to find out if there is anything near by for little ones to burn off some steam and hopefully wear themselves out. We found soft play centres and zoo's great in the UK, but if you're leaving the country water parks are a brilliant way to have some fun and keep cool.



Most of All...Relax!

This is a holiday for you as well as the kids, so make sure you relax. If you've planned and packed well, there will be nothing to worry about other than enjoying yourself. So pop those baby monitors on the balcony and sit back and relax with a sangria or two, you definitely deserve it!

Do you have any holiday plans this summer?

Katie xx

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Monday, 29 May 2017

Where to Buy Wooden Toys.

As promised, I've composed a little list of places we get Montessori toys from. I've tried to include all of Violet's faves and my favourite places to pick them up. I'm always looking for new items to add to our rotation, which we change a couple of times a month. Especially as she's getting towards being one (how did that happen?!) we're looking at toys to add and new things for her to try. So let's get started...


Babipur & Baba Me

These two are my absolute go-to when I'm looking for something in particular or for a particular brand. I know I can easily access the likes of Grimms, Holztiger, Plan Toys, as well as being able to get my cloth nappy fix. I've made lots of purchases from these stores, particularly Babipur, they have customer service that's second to none and a great online community for discounts and advice to when stock is available. Our bright 6-piece rainbow was a Christmas present for V, from the lovely Babipur and the pastel rainbow was a little treat from Baba Me, when the new Grimms stock was released. Both were delivered quickly and I received a 10% discount, using the loyalty codes in their Facebook groups. 


Yes Bébé 

Yes Bebe is another fab company, that's a little smaller than the others but still a brilliant place to buy toys. We actually get our Holztiger animals subscription from this website. Holztiger animals are the most beautiful hand crafted wooden animals, but can certainly be on the  proper side. The subscription service allows you to build up a collection, with a discount, depending on which tier you go for. We're currently on tier 2 which gives us a 20% discount on the animals each month. There's no contract and you can leave at any time. We really love waiting to see what animals arrive each month!

Independent Shops 

Small, independent shops are a gold mine for picking up unique toys. I'm a huge fan of a little place called Hebden Bridge, which is packed full of independent retailers and has at least three toy shops. Most of Violet's instruments have come from smaller shops, it's really lovely for her to be able to pick up the items and decide what she'd like. The bells in the photo were a Hebden Bridge purchase, which were shook the entire time we walked around! Museum shops and art galleries are a good place to hunt for different brands too. 


Supermarkets

A lot of supermarkets or high street shops seem to have clocked onto the fact that wooden or natural toys are "back in fashion". We go for wooden and natural toys because they're Montessori friendly, kind to the environment and will last for year to come meaning V will be able to keep them and hand them down. Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury's and even Aldi and Lidl have developed their own ranges of wooden and traditional toys. This apple shaped bamboo plate was from Aldi, and although it's great to eat off (we got some other designs), it's also fab for sorting games or storing toys when they're not being played with. It's definitely worth shopping around, sometimes the supermarkets have some amazing bargains. 


Facebook Groups & eBay 

Facebook is turning more and more into a marketplace. Which is great if you're looking for something second hand and for a reasonable price. I'm in several Facebook groups for wooden toys, natural toys and Babipur have a buy and sell page too. I've picked up some great bargains for our collection. The crochet bowls and peg people were actually from a wooden toy Facebook page, they're hand made by people in the UK and sold for a reasonable price. They're a great alternative if you can't quite stretch your budget to new or branded products. 

Car Boot Sales & Charity Shops

There is nothing more exciting than finding a gem in a car boot sale or charity shop. In the past I've picked up some Plan Toys goodies for less than £1 when they retail over £15. A few weeks ago we headed to brilliant car boot sale and picked up some gorgeous wooden toys that have been stored away for her birthday, we will certainly be heading back in search of other bits in the next few weeks. 

They're my top picks for wooden/traditional toys, I hope I've inspired you to go take a look for yourself and don't forget to head to Facebook to find any discount codes before you buy. Happy shopping!

Katie xx

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Sunday, 21 May 2017

Everyday Montessori Activities.

I've briefly mentioned in the past, that we follow some Montessori principles at home. We base a lot of Violet's play on independent learning, following her interests and "real-life" situations. She has free run of the house, with close supervision on the stairs of course! But other than that, she's able to crawl and climb around wherever she pleases and explore her surroundings. V will crawl off and play and come back to us when she's had enough or would like us to join in. She adores the independence and is constantly finding new things to investigate. With that in mind, I thought I'd share a few of the things we like to do that are Montessori-friendly. 
Violet has her own reading corner, where she can sit with her books and one of us will read with her or she'll flick through them herself. She's keen on reading lift the flap books and we tend to have a theme on going. It's usually farm or zoo related! We spend a lot of time at the library, which has a great children's area and plenty of space to crawl. But it also means we can rotate books regularly and can read new ones for free. V has her own library card too!
When we started out with Montessori, I did a lot of reading up. I remember distinctly reading that children need to see the real- life object before they can put a photo, picture or a toy into context. After reading this, it encouraged us even more to get outside and be more creative with learning. I'm the queen of finding free activities, and recently we headed to a local park to see the rare breed pigs. Violet was able to stroke them, get up close and we even fed them. We took this opportunity to get her pig toy out and show her some photos of the pigs when we got home. 

I did a similar activity after we'd been to a farm. We saw the cows being milked, fed most the animals and a calf had licked Violet's hand (which she found absolutely hilarious). We then talked about the cows and found them in her farm books. I really do think she is picking up words and will point to the cow in a book if you ask her to. 
One thing I love about Montessori is how you can use everyday objects to learn and play. All of our toys are open ended, we don't have any battery operated toys and he majority are natural materials or household items. As I've said before, we follow Violet's interests as much as possible. She loves water play, so sitting in her paddling pool is a must when the weather is nice. Instead of generic bath toys, she has pouring cups, a whisk, spoons and other kitchen utensils to use in the water. 

Violet loves spending time doing every day tasks too. She's really interested if we're in the kitchen and will often sit and watch what we're doing and join in if it's safe for her to do so. Her latest favourite task is helping me empty the washing machine. It does take a little longer than if I did it alone but she loves to get involved. We're not quite at the stage of helping me peg it out, but she will happily sit outside and watch me. We even watered the plants together the other day and she happily played with the hosepipe and watched the water for a good fifteen minutes. 
Our recent trip to the airport, ties back in with gaining real life experiences and understandings. We watched the helicopters and planes coming in and out of the airport. If we're close by Manchester airport she'll watch the planes go overhead so it was nice to get up close to smaller planes at the local airport. Plus it was another free activity that meant we had spent some time outside. 

Hope this was helpful if you're looking for Montessori ideas for little ones. I'm thinking of doing a post on where we get her open ended toys and which ones we recommend. Let me know if you would like to see this!

Katie xx


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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Fighting Bleeding Gums.

Pretty much as soon as I found out I was pregnant with Violet, I noticed the changes in my gums. Weirdly bleeding gums are a pregnancy symptom and I really wanted to keep on top of the situation. I invested in an electric toothbrush too, which I'm pleased to say is still going strong (not the same toothbrush head, you'll be pleased to hear!).

Even after having Violet, your body is never the same and I still struggle with my gums at times. So when I saw Corsodyl* were looking for reviewers, I thought this was the perfect opportunity for me. The addition of Some Lulu Guinness goodies, did make the parcel even more exciting. 

According to Corsodyl, the Ultra Clean toothpaste is proven to be four times more effective than regular toothpaste, at reducing the build up of plaque, which is themain cause of bleeding gums. The toothpaste itself has a pinky colour to it and does appear quite grainy to look at. I've put this down to the sodium bicarbonate which helps to keep the mouth super clean but also gives a unique taste to this toothpaste. I would say it's an acquired taste and not your stereotypical minty flavour, it took some getting used to however both me and my hubby have commented on how fresh and clean our mouths felt. If you're not a fan of strong mint flavours, this might the perfect toothpaste for you. 

I've definitely noticed a big improvement in how healthy my mouth looks and feels. I will certainly be picking up another tube as soon as this one is finished and might even stretch to using the mouthwash alongside it, for extra protection against bleeding gums. 

You can find the Corsodyl toothpaste nationwide for £3.99 or over at http://www.corsodyl.co.uk/leave-bleeding-gums-behind

Katie xx
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Tuesday, 9 May 2017

DIY Busy Board.


Violet has a keen interest in anything fiddly. I'm talking zips, buttons, toggles and those ties you have on a hoodie. You name it and she'll want to investigate it. I've been threatening to make her a Busy Board for quite sometime and as we try to follow her interests, this seemed like the perfect opportunity. 

V's Busy Board was made really simply and for less than £10, which is a bargain compared to the prices of ready-made ones on Etsy. I picked up most the things from Poundland and Wilko, and managed to find a cheap bit of MDF in our local hardware shop. 

Our board has a mixture of items; a lock, light switch, artificial grass, mirror, ribbon, zip, padlock and a wheel for the bottom of a chair. These were all easily stuck down with super glue and after letting it dry overnight, we were ready to play. 

This is a really easy DIY and definitely something you can easily tailor to the little monkey in your life. Perfect for little hands that want to explore everything! 

Katie xx
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Tuesday, 2 May 2017

A Change in Priorities.

The past few weeks I've had this niggly feeling in the back of my mind. I've been neglecting my social media and blog and I was feeling rubbish about it. But then I remember what I'd been doing instead of Tweeting or scrolling down Instagram - I've been spending time with my family. My tiny girl is growing up so quickly and I don't want to miss a second. And if that means neglecting my Facebook page a couple of days a week then so be it. 

There is so much pressure to build up followers, get as many likes as possible and work with lots of brands. I love the following I've built up over the past five years and I, by no means, want to give up my blog but maybe it's time to take the pressure off. Post when I like, what I like, when it feels right. 

I don't think any anticipates how much your life and priorities change when you have a child. Now I'm nine months into motherhood and I wouldn't change it for the world. But my world HAS completely changed. I don't have hours spare to type up posts or edit photos, in fact I'm typing this after V has gone to bed and now neglecting my hubby for my phone. My little family unit come first, and if that means delaying a few posts every now and again, then so be it. 

With that in mind, here's a few photos of what we have been up to the last few weeks. We've been spending lots of time outside, making the most of the dry weather and I'm so excited to spend even more time out there. 
So you might not hear from me as often but rest assured, I will still be here. But for now I'm busy making memories. 

Katie xx
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