Monthly Archives: July 2016

28th July 2016

Dear boys, there’s one more sleep and we are flying back to the desert…

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 18.39.56Dear boys,

There’s just one more sleep and we are flying back to the desert.

Back to Dubai.

Back to 45’C and little chance of playing outside until October rolls around.

And whilst I am ready to go home; to be in my own home, my own bed, and with my own things around me, I don’t think you will ever be ready to say goodbye to the weather, outdoor life, and family fun we have enjoyed for the last 5 weeks.

As expats, it never gets easier leaving the UK after a trip home; especially a longer visit over the summer. But as soon as we have walked through passport control and out the other side at the airport, our thoughts turn to getting home. Surviving a flight with two small people to entertain. Getting home and collapsing through the door with exhaustion. We can cope with saying goodbye, as this is the life we chose. The life we love.

But you didn’t choose it, which is why it stings to pull you away from so many people and things that you love.

As I think back to the last five weeks, memories flick through my mind in quick succession. The two of you watering flower beds with giant watering cans, howling with laughter with your cousins in the swimming pool, beaming with excitement as we flash past villages on train rides, throwing balls for your dog in the garden, running into the arms of your auntie as she gets home from work, jumping in puddles on overcast beaches, collecting eggs from chickens and dipping your toast into the brightest yellow yolks the very next day.

Precious memories.

But tomorrow, those summer memories will fade away for another year – and we will load four suitcases into the car boot, drive to Heathrow, and board a flight back to our life 3,000 miles away.

It’s earlier than usual, as your sister is growing so quickly in my tummy that we need to get home and start getting ready for her arrival. Your summer has been cut short so we can all get back into the swing of expat life before she makes her appearance.

I don’t feel bad about that – as I know that the gift of a sibling is far greater than a few more weeks playing outdoors. And her arrival means that visitors are booked up throughout the autumn – grandparents and aunties, visiting in quick succession to distract you from the change to our family dynamic (for a little while, at least).

Boys; you have an amazing autumn ahead – and that is what I am going to cling to as we kiss family goodbye at the airport tomorrow and walk away with tears stinging our eyes.

We are saying goodbye to a summer of fun – but we have so much to look forward to as we arrive the other side.

And as Winnie the Pooh once said: “How lucky are we to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard!” And what a clever bear he was!

Love Mummy x

20th July 2016

The last pregnancy

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 18.20.18As she wriggles around in my tummy, I think to myself ‘This is it now – 8 more weeks of feeling baby kicks and that is it. I will never feel a baby again beneath my ribs, stroke a bump in a maternity dress, or wash tiny newborn outfits to pack into a hospital bag.’

I tell myself ‘Enjoy it. Soak it up. Commit it to memory. One day, you can tell your daughter just what it’s like. But you won’t feel this again. This is it now. And soon, it will be over.”

I am pretty sure this is the last pregnancy. You can never be 100% sure with life’s twists and turns and a fourth baby would by no means be a disaster – but I am confident this baby will be our last. I will walk out of hospital in a few months time with a newborn in a car seat and that chapter of our life will be over.

The last pregnancy, now just a memory.

The first of ‘the lasts’.

I loved pregnancy so much the first two times that I imagined I would feel nostalgic and a little sad about that as my due date approached with my last baby. But the truth is that I don’t – I feel like it’s right. This pregnancy has not been easy on my body and I have no energy for my boys. I can’t wait for her to arrive. And even though she is still safely tucked up in my tummy, I already feel complete. I already feel done.

But I haven’t met her yet – and as much as I have got to know her wriggles, the positions she likes me to sit in, and the fact that she prefers me to lie on my left hand side at night (or I get a boot in the ribs for my troubles) I don’t really know her yet either. And I am sure that as soon as she is placed on my chest and we’ve met eyes, I will know exactly who she is – and saying goodbye to the newborn days for the last time will be harder.

Saying goodbye to the small sleepsuits, the tiniest vests, and the softest swaddles that all three have been wrapped in as newborns. Packing them away in boxes, selling them, having to hand them all over to a stranger to dress a baby I have never met. Or not having the courage just yet, keeping it stashed away, too painful to say goodbye to such precious memories (even if they are stained yellow with milky sick and bobbled from so much use).

That will be harder, I know that already. Not because I am aching to do it all again – but because I don’t want those hazy, but so special newborn days to be over too soon. I don’t want her to grow too quickly, to become a big baby, then a toddler, and then a child.

Then the baby days really will be over.

But for now, I can’t wait to walk out of that hospital and head home to my boys with their little sister, to start our life as a family of five. No more baby kicks in objection when I lie on my left side – but a baby girl swaddled in my arms.

The first of ‘the lasts’ – yes.

But more importantly, the first of the ‘the firsts’.

And I can’t wait for it all to begin.

19th July 2016

Currently Loving – July 2016

It’s been a while since I have written one of these posts, so I thought it was about time for some shopping and entertainment inspiration. As I’m in the UK at the moment (for another few weeks at least), there are a mix of UK and UAE companies this time round. And just shout if you have any queries about stockists or availability…

Currently Loving

1. (UAE). Good quality, fashionable, and affordable maternity wear has been a long time coming in Dubai – but all of a sudden, we are spoilt for choice. One of my favourite websites is Not only does the store have a range of stunning maternity dresses (which fit like a dream), stylish tops, comfortable trousers and plenty of nursing wear for when baby arrives, but they are offering Mum of Boys readers 20% off everything on the site until the end of August using the code MUMOFBOYSREADER – which gives me all the more reason to shop… Shop here

2. Jelly Cat (UAE and UK). Both my boys have had Jelly Cat soothers as newborns. Stanley still sleeps with his blue bunny and Wilfred is rarely parted from his monkey – so now has come the time to choose something for their baby sister… I still can’t decide, but I am tempted by this pink bunny with liberty-style floral print inside the ears. Available at John Lewis in the UK and Db Babies in the UAE.

3. Cath Kidston (UAE and UK). I recently picked up this Cath Kidston Foldaway Overnight Bag at the gifting suite of the Stylist ME Social Media Awards – and although I can’t find the exact one for sale on the website anymore, there are lots of other designs to pick from. It comes with a small pouch to keep valuables in and is roomy enough to use as a nappy bag (and is washable and waterproof too). The long strap means I can sling it over the handle of the buggy, making it really practical too. Available at in the UK and in Cath Kidston, Mall of the Emirates in the UAE.

4. Pregnancy Pillow (UAE). Thank goodness for my Pregnancy Pillow, which I bought a few months ago online. I am currently separated from it whilst in the UK and it’s not easy – and I can’t wait to get back to its pillowy support. I really recommend this style by Leacho (132 AED). Shop here.

5. Aden & Anais Swaddle Wrap (UAE and UK). I fell in love with Aden & Anais swaddles when Wilfred was born, with giant dimensions, the softest breathable muslin, and beautiful designs – and I’ve always secretly coveted the neon pink star design… Now that I have a little girl on the way, I am definitely snapping it up. You can shop online (with shipping to both UAE and UK) at

6. Fred & Noah (UK). It’s no secret that I am a fan of Fred & Noah leggings for Wilfred (and I have a few pairs for baby girl already too) – and the latest collection is just amazing. Wilfred has been rocking dinosaurs, whales, stars, and clouds while he’s been back in the UK. I don’t want him to wear anything else! Shop here.

7. Etsy (UK and UAE). I’m a fully fledged Boy Mama for a few months longer – and of course, I always will be after that too, so I adore this T-Shirt from Etsy. Shipped from the US to all over the world, it costs just $19.95. Shop here.

8. Zoomer (UK). Thank you to the makers of Zoomer for sending Stanley and Wilfred this very cool garden ride-on for their summer in the UK. Created by two mums, Zoomers are designed cleverly to be stable, comfortable and easy to steer – we’ve tried a lot of garden toys in the past, but this ride-on is definitely the most stable (you could take it to the park or woods) and the boys love it so much there have been more than a few scraps over who gets to ride it. Lovely addition to Nanna and Grandad’s garden, especially now the sun is shining! They cost £54.95. Shop here.

9. Selfish Mother (UK and UAE). You may remember me wearing a ‘MOTHER’ T-shirt in photos on this blog a while back – and Selfish Mother have just started selling these cool year T-Shirts (with £5 of every sale going to the charity KIDS CHARITY UK). I definitely want a 2012 and 2014 for Wilfred – too cute! They cost £18 each – and although they’re a UK company, they ship all over the world. Shop here.

10. Finding Dory (UK and UAE). We were lucky enough to get a very early release of Finding Dory in the UAE and watched it before we flew back to the UK at the end of the June. We LOVED it. I have a slightly fish-obsessed two-year-old and I knew it would be a big hit – and I wasn’t wrong. Both the 2 and 4 year old were glued to it from the second it started and they’ve been talking about it ever since. It opens in the UK on 29th July – the day we fly back to the UAE, which is a shame as we’d definitely watch a second time. There seems to be a lot of merchandise around too, so that’s his Christmas present sorted! Watch out for the Octopus; he’s definitely their favourite character!

11. Bear Nibbles (UK and UAE). We’ve always got Bear Nibbles in our house – even when that has meant buying in bulk and taking bags back to Dubai in our suitcases! These days you can buy them in the dried fruit aisles of Waitrose and at Ripe Markets in the UAE. And in the UK, we are spoilt for choice, with countless different varieties available in every supermarket – from Bear Claws, to Yo Yo’s, to Dino Paws. And now every multibox box comes with 3 x Alphabet Cards inside to collect. Oh and one packet of these yummy dried fruit snacks counts as one of their 5-a-day, which is music to my ears as they think it’s a treat! Supermarkets nationwide (UK); Waitrose and Ripe Market (UAE).

I’m also loving… 

Getting active! Find out the Best Trekking Poles and Walking Sticks here (now I just need to book a walking holiday!)

15th July 2016

Dear friends, bear with me. I will be back…

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 19.22.23Being back in the UK is wonderful in one respect, but so hard in another.

The fresh air, the greenness, the parks, the ducks to feed, the puddles to jump in. These things are so alien to us now, living in the desert for the past 6 years. My boys lap it up – and being around their family and friends means a smile is plastered on their face for the entire time we are here.

It’s wonderful and we need a dose of it every year, but I find it hard too.

Why? Because as my responsibilities have grown as quickly as my brood, I just can’t see all the people and do all the things I have been missing. The things that ‘summer’ has always meant to me.

Long summer evenings in a pub garden, nursing a glass of Pimms and laughing with my oldest friends until my cheeks ache. Days in London visiting school friends and old work colleagues on their lunch breaks, treading the streets of the West End with shopping bags in my grip, watching the sun set over the Thames as we tuck into plates of food in our favourite restaurants. Long train journeys to visit friends flung further away, with a coffee in my hand, stack on magazines in front of me, and weekend bag at my feet.

None of these things work when you are the mother of two, nearly three, little people.

Messages pop up on my phone on a near hourly basis and I try and fit in seeing everyone. I even have a spreadsheet this year to make it fit like a puzzle. Morning slots and afternoon slots (as Wilfred sleeps at lunch). Every day has a plan and I’m already exhausted with over a fortnight left to fill. Stanley asks me ‘what are we doing today?!’ and I know he’s so very excited to hear the answer every single morning – and that fills me with so much joy, but I feel the pressure for it to be ‘a summer to remember’ too.

When we say goodbye to friends after each meet-up, they ask ‘when will I see you again?’ and I don’t have the heart to tell them that there is only room for one visit per trip. How can I only have time to see these people that I love so much only once in a whole summer? In a whole year? I can’t ask the grandparents to do any more than they already do to help me with the boys – and I want to be with my children anyway; after all, they are the highlight of my summers too.

Then there are the people who I don’t have time to see – not through lack of interest, but absolutely through lack of time, as their free time just slot into the jigsaw of our free time. I type back ‘I’m so sorry, I’ll see you at Christmas?’ but I know that it’ll probably be the same story (with even less time) when December arrives and we fly back in.

Being an expat returning home is something you can’t understand unless you’ve been there – but all mothers understand the pull of their old life, their old hobbies, and their old friends. We all know how hard it is to fit things in when we have small people in tow – and even if our friends have small people too, it’s still not easy to find convenient dates and places that suit the various ages of all our children.

The difficulty in scheduling friends in may be all too obvious in my short summers back in the UK – but I feel like it’s a mirror, an exaggeration, and the perfect example of what every mother feels as their responsibilities grow. Plans made and then cancelled. Months, often years, between visits. Messages pinged back and forth before a suitable date, time and location is found. Snatched dreams of pub gardens, weekends away, and day trips to cities are just that; only dreams. Until their children grow up, at least.

But friends, please believe that I will be more present again one day. Once my small people get older and my time frees up once again. Maybe when we’ve relocated back to the UK, which has always been the plan one day. One day in the future. I will be back in that pub garden, I will be back visiting with my weekend bag slung over my shoulder and excitement for the days ahead bubbling in the pit of my (flat, not remotely pregnant) tummy. I don’t want to wish away this time in my life, but I know that one day it will pass.

As it will for most of you too.

And most importantly, I know you understand. You are either mothers yourself with equally difficult schedules to keep – or you are my friend, who has stuck by me for the past 4 years when so many others didn’t.

One day I will be back. And I’ll buy you a Pimms (or a jug, in fact). That’s a promise (I think…)

8th July 2016

Oh Wilfred, you are about to become a middle child…

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 19.57.42I am one of three children – and I am the middle child.

All through my childhood I felt a bit hard done by as the middle child. I didn’t get the privileges of being the oldest, nor was I babied like the youngest.

I fought battles for my sister – creating a petition when we wanted our ears pierced, for example – and then had to wait another two years to have my chance. She was marched off to the ear-piercing place and I hated her for those shiny gold nuggets and red ear lobes when she arrived home later that afternoon. I envied her when she washed her ears with sterilising fluid and winced with pain. I wanted to experience that too and felt the world was against me.

It was only fair that I should wait until I was the same age, my parents said. I disagreed.

On long drives across Europe, I had to sit in the middle seat of the car. The one without a door to lean on. The one with a bump under your bum and an uncomfortable strap across your middle. My head lolled from side to side when I tried to sleep and I woke up with neck ache, whilst the other two slept soundly against their doors.

My sister was too tall, they said. My brother was too small. I disagreed.

I helped my brother to write his name in chalk on my blackboard, teaching him the same way I had learnt at school – and when he decided to scrawl it up the side of the house in gigantic letters across the bricks, I somehow took the blame.

You encouraged him, they said. Or at least handed him the chalk, they added. I disagreed.

Can you see I’m still holding a grudge being the middle child?!

I always knew that I wanted three children – so not long after Wilfred was born, it suddenly occurred to me that (god willing) he would become the middle child one day. He’d wear the badge and maybe he’d feel the same injustice. In fact, maybe he’ll be writing a blog post just like this in 30 years time – or at least bringing it up every Christmas between glugs of port, while everyone laughed at his misfortune.

He’s always been the more “challenging” child – and I’ve found myself pointing out to friends that he is the classic middle child (takes one to know one). They pointed out that there are only two children, which threw me for a moment – but now that his baby sister is gearing up for her appearance in the world, he has the chance to fulfill my prophecy.

So Wilfred, as you veer into territory I know so well, remember this…  Being the middle child gives you an advantage in life too – you become a negotiator, you learn to fight battles, you are definitely a people person (seeing as they are everywhere) and you will find a streak of independence that will serve you well in later life.

But most of all, understand that in my eyes, it will not change anything. You will still get cuddles, you will be smothered in kisses, and you will still get just as much attention as you need.

In my case, it turned out that I wasn’t going to be the middle child forever, losing my brother 12 years ago and suddenly becoming the youngest. But in my heart, of course, I will always be the middle child – and I am adamant that my birth order shaped me into the person I am today.

Wilfred, I am sure that will be the same for you too – but you can count on one thing.

I will stick up for you between glugs of port at the dinner table every year.

It’s our birth right to moan, after all.

1st July 2016

Just the four of us – for a little while longer, at least…

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 19.58.58It’s been easy for me to bumble along in this pregnancy without giving much thought to the fact that our family unit is going to change beyond recognition in September.

My lovely little family that I adore so much.

Changed completely.

Easy, that is, until I started to feel so uncomfortable that I wanted to skip forward 10 weeks and have her in my arms – not in my belly, kicking my ribs, squishing my stomach, and putting ever-increasing pressure on my hips.

I am starting to struggle – and it’s much earlier than it was with the boys. I feel like I’m full term already, mooing like a cow as I attempt to turn over in bed (to the point that my husband sometimes even glances up from his book or phone to check I am not giving birth in the marital bed). I feel uncomfortable walking around for too long, but uncomfortable sitting down for too long too. My tummy feels like it’s going to pop. I limp for the first few minutes when I heave myself up from the sofa. Put simply, as happy as I am that I am growing a little miracle to add to our family, I am wishing away the third trimester so I can hold her in my arms.

But whilst I am counting down the days now and get a flurry of butterflies when I think about meeting our little girl for the first time, it has suddenly hit me like a lightning bolt that life is going to change as we know it.

My boys will have a sibling, which is wonderful – but how will she fit in?

My husband will have a daughter – but will he love her as much as his boys?

I will have a little girl – but will it feel the same as it did with my little boys?

And most importantly, we will change from a tight-knit family of four to a family of five – so can life ever be the same again?

I’ve had these worries once before, of course – whilst heavily pregnant with my second little boy in 2014, not really knowing whether I was going to be able to love another child like I did my first. Worrying about the fact that our family was changing. Unsure my husband would bond in the same way a second time.

There was nothing to worry about. Everything was wonderful – and that second little baby was as loved as his brother. And now, two years later, I can’t imagine life any other way. My heart swelled the moment I gave birth, with more than enough room for both my babies.

So I know that everything is going to work out in the end – but that doesn’t stop me looking back at this period as a family of four and feeling a little sad that it’s coming to an end.

My littlest baby will soon be my middle baby, his older brother will suddenly seem older, taller, and more mature – and I don’t know if I’m ready for all that.

I am so very grateful and happy for our little girl to be joining us – but I’m scared too. And if I’m honest, a little sad that this happy time as a foursome is coming to an end.

So for the next 10 weeks, I am going to try and put the aches, pains, kicks in the ribs, and sleepless nights to the back of my mind – and soak up every second I spend with my lovely little family of four.

Just the four of us – for a little while longer, at least.