Monthly Archives: October 2017

30th October 2017

Currently Loving – October 2017

This month nearly escaped me, but I’ve just found time to pull together the things I’m been coveting, trying, and buying this month (I’m blaming half term – it’s impossible to even have a wee in peace, let alone find the time for work!)

As you can see, my picks are getting a bit glitzy and festive – and that’s not surprising given this is the first autumn I’ve been in the UK for 5 years. It already feels festive and it’s still October, so please consider this a warning for how Christmassy my blog is going to get over the next few months! Sorry (not sorry)….

  1. Glitter Slippers, Boden

I now live in the UK and my feet are cold – step forward, slippers. And top of my wish list are these glittery numbers from Boden. From £22, click here to shop.

  1. Penguin Fairisle Jumper, Marks & Spencer.

I’ve spotted so many gorgeous Christmas jumpers for kids in the shops already this year – but this Fairisle penguin number by M&S is top of my list for Mabel. £10, click here to shop.

  1. Rose gold bag, H&M

I bought this rose gold shopper from H&M in Dubai before I flew back for the summer – and I’ve used it nearly every day since. I love it so much that I’m already worried about the day it starts looking a bit tired (it’s not real leather sadly, hence the affordable price tag!), so I hopped over to the UK website to see if I could buy a replacement. I was delighted to discover it’s just been added to the online aisles for £19.99, click here to shop.

  1. FujiFilm Instax Mini, John Lewis

The instant camera has been on my wish list for a while – and now it comes in Rose Gold (exclusively at John Lewis), I obviously have to have it. It’s £94.95 and comes complete with 10 shots of film, click here to shop.

  1. SAVE THE CHILDREN Christmas Jumpers, The FMLY Store

There are so many stunning designs in this year’s Save The Children Christmas collection by The FMLY Store that I had trouble picking my favourite, but I think it’s this MERRY design by Karen Elson that gets the top spot for me. Each jumper costs £50 (with 50% going straight to Save The Children) and you can pre-register to buy them here.

  1. Multi Vitamins, T-RQ (UAE)

Last month, I gave you a bit of an overview about these adult gummy vitamins by T-RQ – and this month, I wanted to go into more detail about why I especially love the Multivitamins. In fact, they are the only gummy multivitamin in the world that contain nine essential vitamins and minerals, all of which are 100% of the recommended daily value. I love them because I hate swallowing vitamins with water and they are so easy to chew (and taste great too), but also because they are made from only natural flavours and colours, with a plant-based formula, and no allergens, artificial flavours, or preservatives. You’ll soon be able to get your hands on bottles at most pharmacies across Dubai. Click here for more information

  1. Wire Letter, Oliver Bonas

Gorgeous wire letters to sit on a shelf in rose gold? Well of course I want one for every member of my family – especially when they are only £12 each! Click here to shop.

  1. Billy Bee Sugarplums and Honey by Paris Brosnan

The author Paris Brosnan sent my boys this delightful story – and I have so enjoyed reading it to them before bed. Highly recommended for your little people or for gifts. The paperback version is £7.99. Click here to shop.

  1. First Christmas Bauble, Not on the Highstreet

How gorgeous is this ‘First Christmas’ bauble from Not on the Highstreet? And if it isn’t your baby’s first Christmas, you can just pop their name on the bauble instead! Just £14.99 each, click here to shop.

  1. Yo Neighbor App (UAE)

I’m a big fan of this very clever app, which has just launched in the UAE. If you need something briefly (such as DIY tools, camping equipment, or baby equipment – and everything in between), you can search for those items based on the area you live and see daily / hourly charges for items available to hire nearby. It’s a great way to connect with your neighbours, save money, and live a little more sustainably. I’m seriously impressed. Download on iTunes here. Download on Google Play here.

  1. Initial T-Shirts, Mina and the Moon

I couldn’t resist ordering my three these long-sleeved T-Shirts with their initials in gold. They come in a choice of different styles and colours (also sweatshirts for a bit more warmth in winter) – and they start at just £14 each, click here to shop.

 

Written in collaboration with T-RQ and Yo Neighbor

This blog post contains affiliate links

 

 

 



26th October 2017

It was an autumn afternoon, back in 1999…

It was a cool autumnal afternoon, back in 1999. Quite unremarkable as days go, but I remember it clearly.

It was my first term at university and I was walking to campus for a late afternoon lecture. The sky was a dark, twilight blue as dusk rolled in – and as I strolled, my eyes were drawn to a house with the lights shining bright inside. Without the curtains pulled, I could see two school children sat in the lounge. They were watching afternoon TV, sipping cups of orange squash, and nibbling biscuits.

A scene being played out in thousands of houses all over the country.

A scene I’d played out thousands of times myself.

And my eyes took in that familiar scene as I strolled past the house to my lecture, it hit me like a lightning bolt.

That part of my life was over.

I would never be a schoolchild again. I’d never get home from school and raid the biscuit tin. I’d never sit and watch after-school TV.

It was over.

I had been so excited about moving on with my life, leaving home for the first time, cooking my own dinners, making my own decisions about what time I would roll into bed in the evening, and what time I might roll out of it the next day, that I’d completely forgotten that I was leaving so much behind.

Did I want to go back there? No way. You couldn’t drag me.

But for the very first time in my life, I had an understanding of the finality of time. And I was shocked to realise that there was no way back. Even if I ended up hating university and wanted to go home, I could never be a schoolchild again drinking squash and nibbling biscuits.

I often think about that autumn afternoon stroll to university, because the realisation had shocked me. And over the years that followed, it had taught me to stand still and think ‘enjoy this moment – because once it’s over, it’s over.’ I learnt to appreciate moments, like the last night at university dancing in a dodgy club with my housemates, the day my boyfriend proposed, and the final dance on our wedding day.

But the finality of time has never been more obvious to me than since my first baby was placed on my chest back in April 2012. I suddenly wasn’t pregnant anymore – and until that moment, I had no idea I would miss the bump that housed the very baby I had been desperately trying to evict.

In fact, in the months and years that followed, I wished so much I could go back and tell my newly-pregnant self to enjoy that pregnancy. To soak up every second as life would never feel as exciting or as special again. To sleep, to relax, to cradle my bump, to take hundreds of pictures of it. To truly appreciate those nine months.

And there were lots more moments to remind me that life was passing at a crazy pace.  There was the moment I was stood behind another mother with a newborn in a supermarket queue and her baby jumped in shock at a loud noise – and I suddenly realised, with absolute horror, that my baby didn’t do that anymore.

There was the pace at which he grew out of sleepsuits. The joy of seeing him in new outfits peppered with the sadness of folding away his tiny clothes into boxes.

There was the joy of seeing him walk for the first time, before the sinking realisation that I’d never see the funny commando crawl he’d mastered again.

And even now – five years later – there’s the one single word he mispronounces every single time, which I have no intention of correcting. Because once he’s mastered his entire vocabulary without any sweet little slips, he somehow seems less of my baby.

Life passes at such a fast pace that I find it hard to soak everything up sometimes. I find it hard to pause and think ‘I really should commit this to memory’. In fact, some moments I don’t want to remember – whether it’s a difficult day, or a tricky night with a grouchy baby – and it’s only with the benefit of hindsight, probably years down the line from now, that I’ll stop and think to myself ‘those moments were pretty special after all, I guess’.

So in many ways, I was right on that autumn day back in 1999. You can’t go back in time – and you often don’t appreciate something until it’s long gone, out of your reach.

But I was missing something too, because now I am a mother I get to see it all again through their eyes.

Complete with the TV after school, the orange squash, and the biscuits.

And this time, I’m going to try – really try – to not let it slip away too quickly.



11th October 2017

We try: Slumbertots Sleep Training

Rewind to the day I stopped breastfeeding Mabel to sleep, when she was 7 months old. The very moment that the milk stopped coming and she started flailing around on the boob and we both decided we were done – that was the very moment she stopped falling asleep in my arms.

As the months ticked on, I came up with other ways to get her to sleep. I’d lay her in her bedside cot and feed her to sleep with a bottle as I lay in the bed alongside, creeping outside when she was snoring away. When she got older, I’d lie her next to me in the big double bed to feed her. And when she stopped falling asleep doing that, I’d lie next to her and cuddle her until she finally dropped off.

This all worked well and I loved those bedtime cuddles – but as the months ticked on, it was taking longer and longer for her to fall asleep. She’d try to stand up, she’d try to roll, she’d laugh hysterically, she’d whip me in the face with her cuddly elephant, and she’d cry with frustration. A few weeks ago, with my husband in Dubai and my boys downstairs with their grandparents in their pyjamas, it took over two hours to get her to sleep. And as much as I enjoyed that sleepy time with her, that was the moment I knew that something had to be done. It wasn’t fair on either of us – I was frustrated and Mabel was over-tired. We both needed to come up with a better plan.

Step forward Katy from the sleep consultancy Slumbertots.

Katy is a Certified Baby and Child Sleep Consultant – and she’s also a mum-of-two, meaning she understood exactly what sleep deprivation feels like and how we feel as mums when bedtime isn’t going well. She’s also lovely – like really, really lovely. Warm, relatable, gentle, and helpful. She can work with you anywhere in the world, as the consultations are by phone/skype, whilst a lot of the support is by email. I highly recommend reaching out.

But back to my story. After a consultation (Katy offers 15-minutes free consultation to all parents), Katy came up with a 10-day plan to help me get Mabel to sleep happily in her cot. Katy works with parents that want all kinds of different things for their babies – and I made it very clear from the beginning that I didn’t want to simply leave the room and let her cry. With that knowledge, Katy came up with a very gentle 10-day plan, where I would gradually retreat from the cot.

Over 10 days I would move from sitting right by the cot and comforting her – to being able to walk straight out the room by the end of day 10. It sounded amazing, but I have to be honest, I didn’t have high hopes that it would work – I just couldn’t imagine Mabel ever settling herself to sleep.

I don’t want to go into exact details, because it isn’t really fair on Katy to give away the tricks of her trade, but let’s just say that I followed the plan to the letter – and I was amazed by how quickly it worked. Katy offers a couple of Skype calls throughout the plan too, alongside email support, which means that you can check in regularly, ask questions, and be reassured that it’s all working OK.

Night one was the hardest, but I was still pretty amazed by how quickly she settled down and went to sleep (it genuinely wasn’t that hard at all). The middle of the night wake-ups were also tricky for the first few nights, because whilst Mabel didn’t always wake up during the night, she wanted to come into the bed for milk when she did and I always obliged. However, after a few nights of staying in her cot (with me comforting her and laying her back down to sleep), she understood that she would be staying in her cot and learnt to settle herself back to sleep.

So now I’m at the end of the plan, how does bedtime go now? After her milk and her bath, I kiss and cuddle Mabel to say goodnight – and then I place her in her cot. I say ‘Sleepy Time now, Night Night. I love you!’ and I walk out of the room. And she goes to sleep! I’m still in shock.

The first night that I walked straight out, I went downstairs and put the monitor on and heard silence. I sat with the boys in their pyjamas, cuddled them as they watched the CBBC Bedroom Story – and I got to read them a story when they went up to bed. I hadn’t been able to do this for a long time, as I’d been with Mabel on the bed – and I was so, so thankful that Katy and Slumbertots had come into my life.

Highly, highly recommended!

www.slumbertots.com/



9th October 2017

One to download: Yo Neighbor

If you live in the UAE, I recommend that you grab your phone and download the app Yo Neighbor immediately – because honestly, I think this is one of the best app launches I’ve seen come to the UAE in a long time.

Let me explain. Yo Neigbor is all about renting out your belongings to your neighbours – so you can list all those items lying around the house that you don’t use very often to people that may need them for a few hours or a few days. You make some extra cash  – and your neighbours get the things they need much more affordably than buying them new.

So how does it work?

Firstly, you download the app and input the area where you live (Arabian Ranches or Jumeirah, for example) – and then you simply take pictures of the items you would like to hire out, upload them to the app, and name your price. People will soon start to see your items pop up in their feed – and they can contact you to arrange pick-up when they want to hire your item.

If you’re the one that wants to hire something from a neighbour, it works exactly the same way. Input your location, pick the category (such as Baby Stuff, Enjoying The Outdoors, or Let’s Get Fit!, for example) and start browsing what is on offer. The app is arranged so that the items closest to you are first in your feed, moving to those further away as you keep scrolling.

I think it’s a fantastic way to make a bit of extra cash when hiring out your belongings or to save cash when hiring things you need yourself, whilst also meeting new people in your community. I also love the fact the app offers UAE residents the opportunity to be more sustainable, given that they can share items, rather than always buying new.

It also works really well if you are in the UAE but don’t know how long you’ll be staying, so don’t want to buy everything new – or if you have just arrived and are waiting for your shipment to arrive.

 

What kind of things can I hire / hire out?

There are hundreds of different things you can hire / hire out, but I’ve listed below some of the categories I think the app works especially well for – those items you don’t need often enough to buy new, but that you need occasionally and wish you had a neighbour to borrow from…

  • Camping Equipment
  • Ladders and DIY tools
  • Baby equipment like cots and toys, for when friends are visiting
  • Barbecues and Outdoor Entertaining Items
  • Kid’s Costumes for dress-up days at school / nursery
  • Sporting Equipment like tennis rackets or golf clubs
  • Musical Instruments for lessons at school

There’s lots more too – so I highly recommend you download the app and have a browse!

Download on iTunes here.

Download on Google Play here.



6th October 2017

Love used to be about kisses at the station in the morning…

Love used to be about kisses at the station in the morning when you said goodbye, lazy weekends together on the sofa, booking last minute trips to Paris on a Friday afternoon, taking selfies where only two of you had to fit into a frame, date nights that lasted until the morning, wearing lipstick and pretty underwear and still thinking it mattered, holding hands as you strolled through villages, and feeling flutters of butterflies before they got home.

Love was new, exciting, passionate, and romantic. And you thought it would always be that way.

But then you became parents and it changed.

Slowly at first; feeling a fuzzy warmth when you realise the baby has her eyes and his feet, seeing each other at your least glamorous and most vulnerable, watching them cradle a newborn and wanting to capture it in your mind forever, saying ‘no, I don’t mind!’ when it definitely isn’t your turn to do the nappy, trying to squeeze more faces into those selfies and suddenly realising they are the best selfies in the world.

And as the years ticked on, love became different again.

It was about going on family adventures, about sandy trips to the beach and muddy trips to the park, about waking up early at the weekend and heading downstairs with sleep still in your eyes, about doing things together that might not be new, exciting, passionate or romantic, but that something made your heart sing with joy.

It became about knowing somebody so well that you could can tell in one glance how they are feeling, about booking date nights weeks in advance because it all got so complicated, about getting excited about buying furniture or upgrading the family car, about seeing the best bits of them in your children and knowing you made the right choice all those years ago.

And it became about making decisions that might not be best for the two of you, but are best for those little people – and knowing hand on heart, that those decisions were still right.

Love changes.

It isn’t always better – and there are arguments spat with sleep-deprived anger in the kitchen and glares shot across restaurant tables when one of you knew eating out with kids would be a bad idea .

It isn’t as pretty, or as spontaneous, or as passionate, or as exciting.

But it’s just right.

And if you’re lucky – if you’re very, very lucky – you still feel flutters of butterflies before they get home.