Mothers Day this year should have been a Cream Tea Cruise with my Mum, Sister and our kids. We would have eaten lovely little sandwiches and cakes whilst taking in the views around Exmouth.
Instead we stayed at home and I didn’t see my Mum today for the first time ever since both my parents fall into the vulnerable category as they’re both over 70 and have health conditions.
Isabelle was very concerned that she didn’t have any presents for me, but I would much prefer healthy kids than lots of presents.
I did get flowers, chocolates, cards and paintings from my kids which was more than I needed, but really lovely.
Supporting Local Businesses
Since we stayed at home we did have a bit of an unusual treat. As many local businesses are struggling given the current situation many are offering delivery services of food and provisions to keep themselves going as well as offering what they can to keep up community spirit. So with that in mind we ordered a take-away roast dinner from our local pub.
We did have to go and collect it but it was all within the social distancing guidelines. It felt good doing our bit to help a small local business as well as getting a nice dinner for ourselves.
The best place to find out about local food deliveries are Facebook pages and groups local to you. Have a look at the Facebook pages of places that you go to regularly to see what they’re offering. Lots of them are now closed to the public but are offering delivery services.
The same for buying your essentials. The supermarkets are being ransacked, but many independent or smaller ‘corner shops’ still have lots of stock available.
There’s a lot to be said for community spirit and pulling together in times of need. The more we support our local businesses, the more people get to stay in jobs and we benefit from what they have to offer.
Even when the Coronavirus outbreak is over it’s sad to think that lots of businesses won’t survive. There will be loads of people out of jobs and in general the country is going to take a long while to recover from this.
I know there’s huge debates going on with regards to whether the schools should be shut or kept open during this time, but given the current advice for non-essential contact to be avoided we’ve made the decision to keep Isabelle home from school.
Every parent knows that when you have to stay home with the kids due to illness etc, you start to get cabin fever pretty damn quick and crave getting out of the house more than anything.
Here are a few things that should keep them entertained and you from pulling your hair out. These range from educational recommendations to arts and crafts ideas for all ages.
Crest Awards – Challenging and thought provoking real-world STEM projects for young people of all ages.
iDEA – The Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award, known as iDEA is an international programme that helps you develop digital, enterprise and employability skills for free. Through our series of online challenges, you can win career-enhancing badges, unlock new opportunities and, ultimately, gain industry-recognised Awards that help you stand out from the crowd.
Tinkercad – Tinkercad is a free, easy-to-use app for 3D design, electronics, and coding. It’s used by teachers, kids, hobbyists, and designers to imagine, design, and make anything!
Oxford Owl – has loads of great Reading, English and Maths resources for primary aged kids.
So far so good. I’m really liking having a list of seven meals and knowing that I have all the ingredients for them . I keep a list of the meals on my phone and we decide in the morning what we’re going to eat that day. It’s also good to get the family involved in picking what meals they want for the following week.
Chris usually does the food shopping but as he’s working so much at the moment I thought that we’d do a bit of online shopping so that he doesn’t have to use his spare time this way. As we don’t normally do it I made a few mistakes like ordering just one banana and the jacket potatoes we received were the biggest ones I’ve ever seen.
I don’t think I did too well on buying lunchtime stuff so I had to do a quick tip up but it’s not the end of the world.
Spaghetti Bolognaise – A family favourite. We always do a big pot so that there’s some leftover to freeze. I think Freddie would eat pasta every day of the week if we let him.
Takeaway curry – we totally failed on the meal plan front and opted for a takeaway curry. What can I say other than ‘that’s life’.
Filled Pasta and Sauce – A staple meal for us is pasta.
Sausage and Mash with Onion Gravy – I slice about four red onions and cook them slowly in red wine. I cooked the sausages in the oven for about half an hour before popping everything in the slow cooker and adding some beef stock. I left it on low for a couple of hours and thickened with a bit of flour and added a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Scrummy with buttery mash and broccoli.
Steak and Chips – we had some lovely bits of steak in the freezer so today is the day. We have it with chips, mushrooms and salad.
Chilli and Lime Taco Kit with Chicken – this is a boxed kit that we got from Aldi. They never seem to be enough for us so I bulk them out with additional veg and extra wraps.
Pizza – we’re having a pizza and movie night as Aladdin is on Sky which Isabelle is very excited about.
Top Tips to make Breastfeeding and Returning to Work Easier
Going back to work following Maternity Leave is essential for most of us rather than a choice. There are so many things to think about and organise long before your first day back such as childcare and possible changes to your hours. Something that kept me awake at night, other than the baby was worrying about how I was going to carry on breastfeeding when I went back to work.
Do I have to stop Breastfeeding when I go back to work?
The answer is simply, NO. There’s no reason why you should stop feeding your baby but you may need to express milk for your baby to take whilst you’re at work, and you may need to express during your working day.
This is something that is asked time and again on Parenting Groups and Forums, and a lot of women use their return date as an ‘aim for’ date when thinking of weaning their baby from the breast.
This isn’t the case for everybody though. Some babies don’t take from a bottle or cup at all so feed before mum goes to work and then when they get home again. Some mothers also find that they aren’t able to express milk easily so it’s worth having a go a little while before you go back to work.
The European Commission recommends that Employers should provide Breastfeeding Mother’s with:
Access to a private room where women can breastfeed or express breast milk
Use of a secure, clean refrigerator for storing breast milk during working hours
Facilities for washing, sterilising and storing receptacles
What will I need to Express Breastmilk?
A Breast Pump – This could be a manual or electric pump but I find the most effective way to pump is with a Double Electric Pump.
Bottles/Cups – This is personal preference to your baby. Some will take breast milk from a bottle whilst others will take it from a sippy cup or other form of beaker.
Teats – If using a bottle, it may be that you might have to try out a few teats before finding the right one for your baby. I’ve been using slow-flow or newborn teats so that the milk comes out slower which mimics the rate at which your baby feeds from the breast.
Milk Storage Bags – Milk can be expressed and frozen which is great for building up a bit of a stash for when you’re away from your baby. This could also be useful if you were ill or need to catch up on some sleep when they can be fed by someone else.
A Cool Bag – For putting your expressed milk into. I pour all milk into one bottle and cap it, pop it into my cool bag and put it into the fridge. I prefer this since I don’t want colleagues to question it or touch it to be honest. This also keeps it nice and fresh on the commute home.
A Safe Place to Express or Breastfeed – This ideally needs to be a comfortable lockable room with a chair and access to the above. A toilet cubicle is most definitely not an option and if this is suggested I would seek further advice via the Health & Safety Guidelines for New and Expectant Mothers.
Accessible Clothing – This may seem like a no-brainer but the first time I wore a dress as I considered myself ‘baby free’ I had to get pretty much undressed to express. Clothes with buttons I find best.
Letting your Employer know you’re continuing to Breastfeed
If you’re planning to express breast milk or breastfeed (if baby is nearby) then you will need to notify your Manager so that they can put the necessary arrangements in place
Other things to consider when discussing this with your employer is that you have somewhere comfortable to sit with a plug socket within reach.
It’s always a good idea to keep the lines of communication open with your employer so that you both know each others expectations. I thought that I would need to express twice during the day which is what was agreed between us. Once in the morning and again in the afternoon, but I find that once a day suffices and leaves me comfortable to work and doesn’t eat into my working day too much.
If you work with hazardess substances your employer will need to make the necessary arrangements in place to ensure your safety for the duration of your breastfeeding journey.
When is the Best time to Express Breast Milk?
This is very individual to you. I thought that I would need to express at around 11am and the again at 2pm which were when Freddie would usually feed, but I’ve managed to get it down to one pump session at 1.30pm which is enough until I get home again.
Also be prepare for your baby to want to feed more than usual when you get home, and unfortunately they might start to wake up to feed when they’ve previously slept through the night.
Like breastfeeding in the beginning, it’s all about finding your feet. Having been back at work since May I feel that we now have a good system in place. Freddie does feed more when I get home and the following day but it’s working well for us. As far as work is concerned, I schedule the time into my calendar like I would a meeting and so far it’s gone without any problems.
Looking for a decent Breast Pump?
I’ve been using the Ameda Finesse Double Electric Breast Pump which is designed with the same technology as a hospital grade breast pump. It can be plugged into the mains or be used with batteries so you can move about.
The pump is both easy to use and wash, and is light enough for transporting to and from work. There are multiple settings to find the perfect speed and suction for both comfort and optimum supply. The proven Airlock Protection reduces the risk of contamination for safe milk.
It was recommended to use the Dr Brown’s Options+ Baby Bottles featuring the new breast-like teat shape which is great for switching between breast and bottle feeding. The teats flow mimics the flow of the breast which is perfect and reduces confusion for your baby.
Our Breastfeeding Journey has by no means been an easy one, but Freddie is fifteen months old now and we seem to have quite a good feeding routine going on which is definitely a weight off.
*We were sent the Ameda Finesse Double Electric Pump + a selection of Dr Brown’s bottles for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
4 month baby update – I’ve said it before, but I’m going to say it again. Time is truly flying away and Freddie is getting bigger by the day. He’s four months old now and is starting to form his own little personality.
He’s definitely a smiley happy baby and the only thing that makes him cry is hunger or fighting tiredness at the end of the day. Oh and he’s rather put out at being put down as well!
He loves to see everything! The trees when he laying in his pram, and I’ve just got a sling so that I can at least attempt to do things which he loves. He clearly likes to be upright and in prime position for absorbing everything going on around him.
He’s desperately trying to sit up. If we lay him down he stomach crunches so the his head and legs are up. Imagine an overturned tortoise!
Freddie smiles a lot which is always nice when you’re knackered. He has really ticklish feet and back and does a proper belly laugh when tickled.
Poor Freddie! As I said he’s a smiley happy baby, but his gums are definitely giving him troubles. He has flushed cheeks and a temperature at it’s worst, and his little confused face is so sad to see. There are no signs of any teeth cutting through yet though. He dribbles and chews on anything and everything, but he likes the teethers that you can put in the freezer and also his Squidge & Pip teether.
Freddie is very inquisitive and loves to play with toys. He has quite good hand eye coordination and can pick toys up and move them around until he finds the right bit that he wants to chew on. His favourites have to be the Lamaze toys that you can clip to his chair or pram with lots of textures and dangly bits.
He also quite likes tummy time on his play mat. He has a tummy roll which he can push himself forward on.
We’ve just started Baby Sensory Classes which Isabelle did as a baby and the first week he just stared at all the other babies, but this week he was more interested. Who knew that an egg box and pegs were so interesting!
I’ve particularly been keeping an eye on his weight since I’ve reestablished breastfeeding to make sure that he doesn’t suddenly dip. I’m so pleased that he seems to be gaining weight at a steady rate with his last weigh in at 15lb 3oz. He’s in size 3 -6 months clothes which he fills nicely as well.
He had his last lot of immunisations last week which left him with a temp and feeling grizzly, but it’s nice to know that he’s done now until he’s a year old.
This has been my biggest concern. Restarting breastfeeding has been so rewarding but also a major source of paranoia. Is he still hungry? Has he had enough? Am I making enough milk?
So I was offering him formula after nearly every breastfeed ‘just in case’ he was still hungry. He wouldn’t drink it so clearly he’s getting what he needs.
He’s not that great at it. He likes to be in my arms and not in his crib. We were lulled into thinking we had a bit of a routine going and then just like that it’s all over the place. I’ve been reading up on the four month regression. It’s just a stage which could be e down to a growth spurt or teething, but either way we hope it settles down quickly.
#whatwedidthisweek – Back to normality. I’m back at work and Isabelle is back at school. I was feeling positive in the morning until I got to work and remembered that all my email folders had been deleted by our IT department. It went from bad to worse as there’s no getting them back. BUT it’s okay because I can create new ones. They just won’t contain any of the work so not that okay really.
I’m really struggling with back ache this week and not being able to walk very far which you can read all about in my Pregnancy Diary Post. This was so apparent when we took the dog out for a walk and our usual twenty minute loop took more than an hour. Thankfully, although it was bitterly cold the sun was out so it wasn’t all too bad.
Isabelle decided to make herself some jazzed up socks that look more like something you would put over a cast, but she was really happy with her creations so who am I to argue.
It was my birthday on Wednesday. I worked and kept it quiet from my colleagues as I don’t feel particularly in the mood for celebrating the fact that I’m getting older and knackered. I did however, come home to a lovely Pina Colada birthday cake made by my Mother-in-law. I was also given lots of lovely presents including some nice relaxing bath things which I’m sure will help with my back ache. I was also given some ‘fat clothes’ aka maternity clothes which I wasn’t so keen on. Why do they have to be so mumsy and stripey!
The weekend’s I’m finding harder than the weekdays as Isabelle really is a super ball of energy. She doesn’t really do sitting and playing so that I can rest. She needs constant entertaining which is exhausting. I’ve managed to get her to watch some you tube videos but only at the same time as she’s doing her gymnastics routines or playing ‘don’t touch the floor’!
Even though she’s seven, she can’t quite understand why I need to sit down or just have a little bit more quiet that normal.
Sunday we went into town to take back some of the ‘fat clothes’. We had a look at the prams in Mothercare where Chris nearly had a heart attack looking at the price tags. There are a few that I really like with the Egg Stroller being at the top of the list and a Silvercross one as well. Isabelle really enjoyed picking out clothes that she would like to buy both for a girl and a boy. We went in Mothercare, Primark Debenhams and H&M and that was as much as my back could manage.
I did, however pick up some new bits and bobs including some comfy PJ’s. Isabelle bought the brightest pink fluffy jumper from H&M which she absolutely loves. She does look rather gorge in it though.
We went out for dinner in the afternoon to the Mill on the Exe but I had to get Chris to drive me so that I didn’t put any more pressure on my back. They do a rather large carvery so I opted for a child’s portion. Good job really so I had some room for the chocolate brownie afterwards.
The rest of Sunday as I knew it would resulted in me sitting on the sofa in a coma like state with the odd trip to the kitchen to take a swig of Gaviscon.
It’s been a while since I wrote a Happy Days Linky post. Mostly because we’ve been sitting on a secret. A big one!
As announced this week by Isabelle we are looking forward to becoming parents again in June 2018.
Whilst we’re extremely happy with this news, I’ve been feeling really poorly and was slightly worried about announcing to the world as we did have a bit of a scare at about eight weeks.
I am officially 14 weeks today and the exhaustion that I’ve been feeling has eased off enough to feel half human.
I feel a bit sorry for Isabelle as I’ve not really had the energy to do very much so we’ve watched quite a lot of films snuggled on the sofa where I may have had a sneaky catnap or two.
Advent Calendars – Isabelle has been on countdown for ages to the day she could start opening her calendar. We got her a Smiggle one this year and Nanny got her a My Little Pony Chocolate one. Ryan has two also but he’s far too grown-up to show interest either way. We also got Charlie (the dog) one which is full of gourmet dog treats.
We went to Isabelle’s Christmas Fair at school on Friday where there was a game where you either got a prize or a Brussels sprout. Isabelle asked what you did if you got a sprout to which I told her you had to eat it. She won one prize and one sprout. I burst out laughing when she turned round with her mouth full of chewed up sprout, crying that she was going to be sick. Of all the times to take any notice of what I say it was then. Bless her.
I’m writing this post on our second day of our midweek break at Bluestone Wales. We arrived yesterday so this is our official full day at the resort.
The Drive Up
We set off from Exeter yesterday whilst the sky was a strange yellow colour and the sun looked like it was on fire. I think from all of our friends facebook status’ that we were the only people in the whole of Exeter that hadn’t taken a picture and posted it.
The drive was pretty uneventful until we got closer to Wales. The closer we got to the resort the windier it became. There were leaves and bits of bush and twigs whirling around outside the car, and we could feel the wind against the car which swayed a little bit.
We arrived slightly early for check in and as the weather was pretty grim we sat in the carpark to wait. Some other people were slightly braver than we were and got out to take a bit of a walk. I think we were far more sensible as we watched them try to keep hold of their hoods, umbrellas and children.
A bit about Bluestone
Bluestone which will be celebrating it’s tenth birthday in 2018 is set in the middle of Pembrokeshire National Park surrounded by beaches and countryside with lots of historic features.
It’s a luxury resort where the kids can roam free, explore with lots of both indoor and outdoor activities for all ages.
There are a range of lodges and cottages to stay, and whilst the resort has a fantastic village vibe going on, it’s extremely spacious.
Bluestone does everything it can to remain an environmentally friendly business by following the Green Dragon Environmental Management System. Just from our first reccy around the resort we could see that a lot of love and attention to detail has been put into creating the Bluestone experience.
Once we were given the keys to the lodge we made our way down there to drop off our luggage. Once you have checked in and done the drop off, Bluestone is a car-free zone which is great for little ones. There are golf buggies and bikes to hire and of course there is the option to use your legs as well, oh and a bus service around the resort.
We were staying in a Dinas Lodge which sleeps eight people. My first impression was a good one. The lodge is huge. There is a living area where there is a TV and sofas which leads onto the kitchen/dining area. Again the kitchen/diner is massive with high ceilings and french doors that lead to a patio area. it’s decorated in natural tones with dark wood and leather sofas.
The kitchen is fully equipped with everything you would need to cook for a family of eight all week long. We have two fridges with a small freezer compartment in each fridge, a full sized oven and hob, a dishwasher and all the necessary kitchen gadgets such as toaster, kettle and cafetiere.
The bedrooms are all of a good size with plenty of space for our clothes. Most importantly we have two bathrooms which is always a bit of a deal breaker when there’s eight people all staying in the same space for a week.
Once we unpacked we went for a wander around the village which is just up the road from us. We found a lovely coffee place, the Pub (of course), the Orchard Restaurant, the park (the other of course), The Firehouse Grill and some shops all to explore in more depth.
Our first impression is very positive. I love the high ceilings and the open plan layout of the lodge. We really like that everything is on one level which isn’t as big a deal for us since our youngest is seven. Having the large dining table which seats all of us was great for our first night which was curry night.
Can’t wait to have a proper look around tomorrow. You can also keep up to date with what we’re up to by checking out our Instagram feed.
*disclaimer – we were given a mid-week stay at Bluestone in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
The teen getting a sprinkle of humour- for those of us with teenagers you will know all to well how they seem to have a serious lack of sense of humour. We saw a glimmer of return when my two had a pants fights. It started off with Ryan putting a pair of his pants on Isabelle’s head (clean of course). Isabelle grabbed a pair off the airer and the fight commenced. No shouting or ending in tears (Isabelle’s). It was silly but fun!
The ukulele – I was greeted the other day by a newly bought blue ukulele which Nanny had bought for Isabelle. She can’t play it for toffee but wholeheartedly gives it a go. She sang and played everything she said to me for the rest of the evening. Yey!
A lie-in – I had one! Until 9.30 and then breakfast in bed which I ate downstairs. My sleep pattern has been shot to pieces for a long while so I spend most of the time feeling exhausted. I woke up at 6.30 and nearly got up. I read but I must have dropped off as the next thing it was 9.30. Perfect!
Work Free Evenings – I work on my blog in the evenings every night. There is a lot to do and I get stressed if I have an evening off. Anyway, as I haven’t been sleeping that great again I thought that I would try and reduce the amount I did which wasn’t a lot as my brain was so fuzzled I was quite often sitting in front of my laptop but actually watching TV. Not productive at all. So this week I’ve had Friday and Saturday night off and it felt good. I think I’m going to try and do this on a regular basis. We watched the newest Purge film which was pretty rubbish.
Decluttering – I’ve been watching What Katy Said’s decluttering videos (which are awesome) and it’s got me motivated to do the same. My starting point is storage so I need to go and buy some boxes/baskets etc so that I can start to sort and have somewhere to put things. The amount of NEW pink plastic we have since Isabelle’s Birthday is ridiculous.
Baking – Isabelle and I with the help of one of her Brats dolls made Jam Heart Biscuits yesterday. The weather was pants as it kept bucketing down and Isabelle gets a bit stir crazy if you don’t give her something to do. They were really easy to make and it was something to show Daddy when he got home as well.
Walking – I love walking Charlie. It gives me time to think or not. Yesterday the little pain in the butt took himself off to the skate park to scav for food. There’s usually pizza boxes and McDonald’s wrappers so plenty to choose from. Every time I think he’s got over this he does it again. How he doesn’t get run over by a bike or skateboard (they don’t stop) I don’t know. This probably shouldn’t feature on my Happy List but after the fact I always find it funny. I do wonder if I’m going to end up on You Tube entitled ‘Crazy Dog Catcher Hits the Skate Park’. Charlie thinks it’s a great game to run up and down the ramp thing, usually with some stolen food hanging out of his mouth. Little sod!
Originally posted 09.09.12 before being a stand alone blog but such happy memories not to keep.
It was our daughter’s 2nd birthday yesterday and we had a lovely family Birthday celebration barbeque. We were deliberating over what to get her for a gift as we didn’t want to buy something just for the sake of buying. We took a bit of a risk with it but in the end I won, and got her a gorgeous wooden play house. I could picture her in my mind playing with it even in the cold weather. As long as the weather is dry she can go out with her wellies and coat on and get years of play out of it.
Her reaction was exactly what I was looking for with squealing and laughter which made my day.
Despite my previous status of hating all things pink, I have been completely swayed with a little help of Isabelle and this was our outfit of choice. I think we may have to add some of these style dresses to the site.
And to top off our lovely day, after much agonising over whether I could pull off the cake. This was what I managed to muster up.
We were so pleased with how it turned out and Isabelle knew that it was Peppa and George straight away. Phew.
Happy 2nd Birthday my Little Princess