6th July 2018

Dear children; a year ago today, we flew back to the UK.

Dear children,

A year ago today, we flew back to the UK.

A whole year.

To the day.

The night before we boarded that flight, with our suitcases packed and lined up by the back door, we thought we’d go for a late afternoon swim to say goodbye to the desert for a while.

The heat was nearly suffocating that afternoon – but as you jumped into the pool, with fiery-red dragonflies dancing around your heads as you bobbed in and out of the water, I remember thinking “wow, you are such lucky, lucky children!”

And you were.

You really were.

The next morning, as our flight soared into the dawn sky, we didn’t know we were saying goodbye forever. We watched the familiar skyscrapers jutting out of the sandy vista from our plane window – impressive at first, glinting in the morning sunlight, but soon shrinking to nothing more than a city made from LEGO bricks as we drifted further and further away.

We had a brilliant summer together – but just before we were due to fly back, doubts crept into our mind. A calculator, a spreadsheet, frantic googling, tired eyes, stressed brows – and a decision.

We were going to stay.

That first bit was hard for me. So hard. Your Daddy wasn’t with us yet –  and we didn’t have a home of our own. I missed my friends, my routine, my safety net. Everything was raw. Everything made me cry. I thought we’d made a mistake more times than I dared to count. I wanted to go back to those familiar LEGO bricks. I wanted normality. I wanted the life we had built together.

I just wanted to go home.

But whilst I was looking back, you stepped forward with confidence. Right from the first day at your new school, when your steely-faced bravery sucker-punched me in the stomach with a heady mix of fierce pride and crushing guilt.

You mentioned Dubai a lot at first. Your friends. Your nanny. Your teachers. Your school. Your nursery. Your favourite places to go. You packed your little rucksacks with things you wanted to take on the plane when we flew back to visit – and seeing you do that was torture, as Daddy and I had already decided we wouldn’t be heading back any time soon to help you (and me) settle into our new lives in the UK. Every time he flew back to his job in the desert, my heart stabbed with pure jealousy. I wanted to go back too. But deep down, I knew I had to close that door to be able to open the one I was standing in front.

Goodbye had to be goodbye.

Our container arrived back from Dubai in December – and we moved into our new home. As we unpacked those boxes and you rediscovered your toys, I watched your faces light up with amazement. The sudden realisation that you were getting back those belongings, those things that had long drifted from your minds was both amazing and heart-breaking to witness.

It was a long winter – and it took all of us a while to get used to it. I hated the long, dark days. I hated the rain. But you three embraced it.

Before long, I was so used to seeing you in warm coats and wooly hats, with red noses and tears streaming from the cold, that I forgot what you looked like in your swimming shorts, with sunlight glinting on your skin. You didn’t mind getting mud on your hands, or getting soaked in rain, or feeling the wind whip around your faces in temperatures dipping freezing. You morphed into UK children, so happy and settled, so rarely mentioning that old life in the desert that I was sometimes left wondering if it had happened at all.

And I realised – slowly, but certainly.

I had to embrace it too.

And now we are here.

The first anniversary of our return to the UK.

And in the perfect completion of the circle, you broke up from school for summer. Shouting to your friends in the carpark to say goodbye. Grubby knees, worn elbows, and shoes scuffed at the toes. Smiling wide smiles at the thought of weeks stretched ahead, together at home.

We jumped in the car and drove to the coast to celebrate – and as we pulled up, your grandparents appeared and your eyes sparkled with delight. You strolled away with them, hand-in-hand, shrieking with excitement, in harmony with the seagulls circling above our heads.

Life is different, yes.

It couldn’t be more different.

But every step you have taken has swelled my heart with pride.

And as I watched you walking down that harbour, with the sun starting to dip on the horizon and a warm breeze ruffling your hair, I thought to myself: “Wow, you are such lucky, lucky children”.

And you really, really are.

Love from Mummy x



2nd July 2018

Our weekend at Bournemouth Beach Lodges…

What could be better than waking up to the roar of waves breaking onto the shore – and then running down to the sand and getting the whole beach to yourself, while everyone else still seems to be sleeping? Throw in the luck of brilliant weather – and I don’t think there are many UK breaks that can beat it, which is exactly why we had the most amazing time at Bournemouth Beach Lodges this weekend.

Bournemouth Beach Lodges are located on Boscombe Beach, which is just along the coast from Bournemouth Beach and Pier. Whilst it gets much busier along the coast, Boscombe stays much quieter. It definitely has a buzz, but it’s never unpleasantly busy – and that makes the whole vibe very relaxing and easy for parents.

There are 15 lodges in a row, just a stone throw from the beach (literally – even I could’ve thrown a stone and hit the sand). Each lodge can sleep up to six people, with a bathroom, kitchen, double bed and single bed upstairs, and double bed and single bed downstairs (converted from the table area and a sofa). Each has a lovely terrace, with direct views of the beach – and deckchairs to lounge on. We asked for a cot and a highchair, which were waiting for us when we arrived. And the steps up to the upstairs area had a baby gate at both the top and bottom, which I was really impressed by.

Whilst the lodges sleep six, there isn’t a huge amount of space to move around inside – so my first tip would be to pack light (and make sure you pack soft holdalls you can carry on your shoulder, rather than dragging a suitcase down a zig-zag cliff path to the beach like us – spot the first timers!) Packing light is really easy, because all you will need is swimwear, beach towels, perhaps one outfit for a trip into Bournemouth, and some snacks / drinks.

When it comes to food, there is a kiosk on the beach that opens around 10am and makes bacon and sausage sandwiches – and you can buy some essentials (bread, milk, eggs etc) from the lodge office – but if your kids like something specific for breakfast, I’d advise throwing it in, as there isn’t anything open early in the morning. The kiosk is perfect for lunch – and in the evening, you can order pizzas from a restaurant just down the beach, which will deliver to your lodge in 30 minutes (or head to a vast number of restaurants in the area). We had pizza one evening – and the next, we ate at Prezzo in Bournemouth.

Talking of Bournemouth, we had a brilliant afternoon down there on Saturday. We took the land train from Boscombe Beach (right outside the lodges), which goes all the way to Bournemouth Pier. Once we were down there (with three exhausted children fast asleep!), I was horrified to discover the beach absolutely packed – and I’m not exaggerating. Local press reports told us that 100,000 people were on that stretch of beach – and suddenly visions of the pier and aquarium being packed to the brim filled my mind, which was our plan for the afternoon.

But do you know what? With the beach packed, the inside attractions were really quiet – and we had one of the best family afternoons we’ve had for a long time. We started with RockReef at the end of the pier, which had 25 ‘clip and climb’ walls for the boys to try climbing up, along with a cave network they could explore with headlamps. Mabel slept through this whole experience, waking at the end to watch her brothers crawling like spiders up the wall (at 4 and 6, I was seriously impressed by how quickly they got the hang of it – and they are now totally hooked and want to find one close to us to continue their climbing obsession!)

We then walked over to Bournemouth Oceanarium, meeting turtles, penguins, and crocodiles – and Mabel especially enjoyed pressing her face up against the glass and meeting all the creatures (I used to take the boys to aquariums all the time in Dubai – I mean, we walked past walls of sharks and sting rays while even shopping in the mall – but I realised Mabel hasn’t actually been to an aquarium since she’s old enough to enjoy it and it was so lovely to watch her little face light up with amazement!)

We finished our afternoon in Bournemouth with dinner in Prezzo (kids eat for £1 is back on for summer, don’t ya know!) and with tummies full of pizza and pasta, we then slowly walked back to Boscombe along the promenade (which took us about 45 minutes in the lovely late afternoon sunshine.

So what were our highlights of our holiday at Bournemouth Beach Lodges? For me, it was sleeping right on the beach, waking up to the sound of waves and the tranquillity of that view first thing in the morning. It was sipping my coffee in the early morning sunshine and feeling totally detached from normal life for a while. We were only away for two nights, but I felt like we’d been away for a week. It was such a tonic to the mind.

For the kids, I think the best thing was the novelty of beach lodge living – with their beds upstairs and the beach right on their doorstep. And I know they absolutely loved the afternoon down in Bournemouth too – everything from the land train journey, to the ‘Clip and Climb’ at RockReef, to the Oceanarium, to the colourful beach huts in neat rows on our walk back home.

It was just fantastic – and we will definitely be back. I love the idea of an early autumn break, hopefully enjoying some brisk walks along the beach and then drinking hot chocolates on our terrace. It must be so tranquil at that time of year – and the lodges would be lovely and cosy when you wanted to retreat inside.

If you want to look at availability for the rest of the summer and ongoing, visit www.bournemouthbeachlodges.co.uk/  

And for more information about everything there is to do in Bournemouth for a holiday, visit www.bournemouth.co.uk/

 

 

We were guests of Bournemouth Beach Lodges this weekend, in return for an honest review

 

 

 

 

 



28th June 2018

We test: ‘Real Food Kids Will Love’ by Annabel Karmel…

Annabel Karmel could write a book about anything and I’d buy it. I totally trust her. I know that she’s the best at creating recipes that get the good stuff into my kids, whilst being so yummy that they don’t hesitate to pick up their cutlery and tuck in – and I’ve followed her recipes since my babies were weaning (and years afterwards) for that very reason. So I knew I was going to like her brand new book ‘Real Food Kids Will Love’ (released today) before I’d even seen it. But still, I was intrigued and excited to see what was in store – and when I got the chance to have a sneak preview of the book a few weeks ago, I ripped open that padded envelope and settled down on the sofa for a flick through immediately.

But I didn’t get to keep it for long. Because not long after I started scanning through the tantalising recipes for kids (there are over 100 in there), my eldest child stole it off me. And for the next 30 minutes, he sat there reading through every page, making a list of the recipes he wanted me to cook for him and his siblings. Every few minutes, he shouted out “MUMMY, LOOK!!” and held up a page with the most beautiful food photography pictured alongside the recipe. I quickly realised that the book wasn’t just written to provide me with inspiration in the kitchen – but to get children excited about eating wholesome, healthy food too.

Stanley’s picks were:

– Scrambled Egg Muffins

– Pot-Roast Chicken

– Thai Chicken and Rice Soup

– Fruit Flower Pots

– Easy Banana and Strawberry Ice Cream

– Blueberry Muffins

We decided to start with the recipe for the ‘Thai Chicken and Rice Soup’ – mainly because his younger siblings both adore curry and rice too, so I knew they’d like the flavour too. So the next day, we went to the supermarket to find the ingredients and got to work in the kitchen, with Stanley watching my every move.

I found the recipe really easy to follow, with only a few steps to work through once the prep had been completed – and once dished up, all three children tucked in straight away and cleaned up their plates. Mabel, in fact, was the first to get through her bowl and ask for another serving – and with plenty of vegetables packed into the dish, I had a smug smile on my face as I poured her another spoonful!

And it was really delicious. In fact, it was so delicious that my husband and I used the leftovers in the pot as the base for our dinner that night too (just chucking in some extra chicken and vegetables to stretch it further). It really is a recipe that the whole family can enjoy – and I think that’s the whole point of this book, as it encourages the whole family to enjoy the same recipes, the same food, and the same mealtimes.

So would I recommend the book? Without hesitation. For the vast range of recipes that will inspire you in the kitchen, without challenging you with advanced cooking skills (if I can do it, anyone can do it). For the gorgeous layout, tantalising photographs, and helpful tips from Annabel. And for the food you will go onto create.

It’s one of those books that you would add to your kitchen shelf now – and pick up regularly for years and years to come. With sections for ‘Family Favourites’, ‘Meat-Free and Vegan’, ’15 Minute Meals’, ‘Healthy Fast Food’, ‘Lunchbox and Playdate Snacks’, ‘Desserts and Sweets’ and ‘Holiday Cooking with Kids’, there is lots and lots of ideas and inspiration. I can imagine my copy will become heavily thumbed, as we work through the recipes and come back to revisit them in years to come. And if you are feeling a bit ‘stuck in a rut’ when it comes to feeding your children, I am confident you will love it just as much as I do.

Real Food Kids Will Love by Annabel Karmel is released today, June 28th 2018. You can get your copy at Amazon here – https://amzn.to/2yPo1Ex

 

This blog post is written in collaboration with Annabel Karmel



18th June 2018

Mabel tries: Baby Led Spreads

I am contacted about new products for babies and children on a daily basis – but every once in a while, a message makes me immediately stop what I’m doing and shout out loud “What a genius idea!” And when I found out about Baby Led Spreads a few weeks ago, that was exactly what happened.

So what are Baby Led Spreads? Designed for baby led weaning, these little jars contain a range of different healthy, versatile spreads. They can be used on sandwiches, as fillings in jacket potatoes, as an easy sauce for warm or cold pasta dishes, as bases for homemade pizza, or as dips for crunchy vegetables, breadsticks, or toast fingers.

The spreads are the perfect accompaniment to your baby’s diet, with a range of tastes, textures, and nutrients packed into each jar. You can pick non-dairy jars, dairy jars, or a mixture of the two – with six flavours to pick from, including ‘Spicy Pumpkin and Chickpea’, ‘Carrot, Apple and Hummus’, ‘Ricotta & Bean’, ‘Green Pea, Rocket and Dill’, ‘Red Lentil and Sweet Potato’ and ‘Avocado, Red pepper and Tomato.”

As a mum who went down the baby led weaning route fairly recently (with Mabel, who is my third baby), I would have found Baby Led Spreads so incredibly useful to have in the cupboard at home. I always found breakfast pretty easy – and dinner tended to be exactly what I was cooking for her brothers. But I often really struggled with inspiration for her lunches, usually giving her platters of bits and pieces I could find in the fridge. Having these little jars on hand would’ve given me so many options when putting together her plate – and I would have thrown the jars into my bag for meals out at restaurants too, letting her dip breadsticks into the spreads and feeling reassured she was getting some goodness.

We tried the jars out yesterday at lunchtime, letting Mabel use the spreads as a dip for her toast soldiers, cheese cubes, and tomato slices. I showed her what to do – and she carried on independently, happily gobbling up most of the plate. Her favourite was the ‘Avocado, Red Pepper, and Tomato’ – whilst her brothers (who happily dipped their toast soldiers into the leftovers in the jars) liked the ‘Carrot, Apple and Hummus’. I know the jars aren’t designed for older children, but it occurred to me that it would be a brilliant snack / packed lunch item to send into school, with a few breadsticks to dip into.

 

So how much do Baby Led Spreads cost? Well, I was seriously impressed. A selecion of 9 jars (three different flavours) costs just £6.50 (72p each) or a selection of 18 jars (6 different flavours) costs just £12 (67p each). Postage and packaging is free too, which makes it even more affordable.

But that’s not all, because this company has a heart too – and for every sale, money is donated directly to Bliss; a charity dedicated to helping babies born premature of sick (www.bliss.org.uk). For every 9 jars sold, they donate 30p to Bliss and for every 18 jars, they donate 60p.

You can buy them online at www.babyledspreads.co.uk

 

Written in collaboration with Baby Led Spreads



7th June 2018

Stanley tries: MentalUP (plus discount for every reader)

Summer holidays are coming – and if your children are anything like mine, they will need to keep their minds busy when school is out! I don’t always find it easy to dream up ways for them to do this, which is why I am relieved to have discovered MentalUP just in time – and having had the chance to play it, Stanley agrees…

Experts agree that the most effective and organic way to improve development in children is through play – and the MentalUp app contains a series of exercise that feel just like games to the children that are playing them. The app was developed by a team of doctors, scientists, academics and game designers, ensuring that every game challenges them, keeps their minds busy, and ultimately ensures that they have lots of fun.

 

So how does it work?

I’ve sat with Stanley while he’s played it several times now – and my favourite game is one called ‘Equalization’. It’s all about eliminating numbers you don’t need and collecting ones you do. Stanley really enjoyed it, completely unaware that he was practicing problem-solving skills as he played.

But that’s just one of the games… There are dozens with similar ideas, from remembering sequences of numbers, to matching patterns, to arranging letters in the correct orders. Each game helps children to practice different skills (focusing on memory, concentration, visual or logic) – and as the child progresses up the levels, the games become increasingly difficult.

MentalUp is used in 48 different countries worldwide, with over two million users. It has a rating of 4.8 in the app stores too, making it impressively popular with users.

The details…

MentalUp can be used on a computer, a tablet, or a phone.

It’s suitable for all children, adapting to their age, experience and performance.

Time is limited to 25-30 minutes per day, which is enough to keep their minds busy. I LOVE this feature! Stanley happily walks away saying he’s finished his slot, so no battles over handing back the laptop or iPad.

You can track your child’s performance with regular reports.

 

Where do you get it?

You can try the app completely for free for 7 days to see whether you like it. Head over to www.mentalup.co to sign up.

And if you want to buy the full-package, I have teamed up with MentalUP to offer a big discount. See below for all the details of the offer – and using the code 3056 with automatically apply your discount (valid until 24th June).

12 MONTHS PACKAGE

  • List price: £71.88
  • Current promotion price: £47.88
  • Price with the discount code: £23.88

6 MONTHS PACKAGE

  • List price: £35.94
  • Current promotion price: £29.94
  • Price with the discount code: £17.94

 

How to redeem the discount code (Android and IOS, Tablet and Phone)

After logging in, you will see the screen below. When you click on the buttons I’ve highlighted with arrows, you get to a screen with all the packages listed. You can then enter your promotional code.

 

 

Enter the code in the field and click “Apply code” – the package prices will then be automatically dropped.

 

Head over to www.mentalup.co or download it from App Store or Google store. The app is available both for IOS and Android.



28th May 2018

Motherhood is all about balance – and that’s why I love Annabel Karmel…

Regular readers of this blog will know that Annabel Karmel has been a bit of a guru to me since I became a mother. Because whilst I didn’t open a single other manual on motherhood, I religiously followed her recipes and tips when it came to weaning my first baby. And when I had a second and third baby, I reopened those books and revisited those much-loved recipes all over again.

But as much as I love Annabel’s cookery books, I don’t always have them to hand. I’ve been stood in the supermarket racking my brains about the ingredients I need for certain recipes. And whilst away on holiday or travelling with the kids, I have wished that I’d had the foresight to take a picture of the recipes on my phone so I could refer back to them when preparing food for the kids.

This is why I was excited to hear about the newly launched Annabel Karmel Healthy Baby and Toddler Recipes App, which includes a selection of her most popular recipes. The app is organised into neat sections so you can find the recipe you need (or browse for inspiration) – and when you click into each dish, there are ingredients and step by step instructions. You can add each recipe to a handy planner so that you are organised for the week ahead – and you can add ingredients to a shopping list section, so you have everything you need when you head to the supermarket. It’s well designed and easy to navigate – and means that I have my favourite recipes at the click of a button.

But do you know what? I don’t always have time to cook for the kids from scratch – and on the nights I’m in a mega hurry (which happens a lot), I’m a fan of the range of Annabel Karmel Chilled Toddler Meals too.

With dishes including ‘Lovely Beef Lasagna’, ‘Mild Chicken Tikka and Rice’ and ‘Tasty Spaghetti and Meatballs’, not only can the individual meals be stored in the freezer and prepared in a matter of minutes, they also contain good, wholesome, and nutritious ingredients. Each meal contains up to three of their five a day, are low in salt, and contain no artificial additives or preservatives So despite the fact I’m popping a meal in a microwave for their dinner, I am totally reassured that they’re getting a dose of goodness too.

So there may be nights when I flick through an Annabel Karmel book or open her app and knock up a dish from scratch – but there will also be nights when I reach into the fridge or freezer and pull out a chilled meal in a hurry too. And that is what I believe is called balance…

Find out more about the Annabel Karmel Healthy Baby and Toddler Recipes App here.

And find out more about the Annabel Karmel Chilled Toddler Meals here.

 

Sponsored Post



21st May 2018

When I was 11 years old, a friend wrote me a letter….

When I was 11 years old, a friend wrote me a letter and stuffed it into my hand in the cloakroom outside our classroom. As I unfurled the crumpled paper and started to read the words scrawled in navy blue fountain pen on the faint ruled lines inside, my breath caught in my chest. The world suddenly stood still. And whilst I can’t remember the content, I do remember they were spiteful and personal. She didn’t like me – and lying in bed that evening, I sobbed sad, unhappy tears as the words replayed in my mind.

I genuinely can’t remember the circumstances surrounding that letter. I may very well have written to her first or done something unkind to prompt it. We may have spat words at each other beforehand, both determined that we were right. It was long before the days of being interested in boys – but those were the days when stealing someone else’s ‘best friend’ was amongst the worst thing you could do. So looking back, with not a shred of memory about what the letter contained, that would be my guess. I guess I stole her friend. I guess it stung. And I guess she felt better as her fountain pen scratched the paper as she wrote.

I have no idea what happened to that letter. If it didn’t immediately get thrown in the bin, it probably ended up in a box somewhere, long forgotten with the years slowly fading the ink.

I do remember who wrote it though – and 26 years later, we are good friends. We meet regularly, putting the world to rights over strong coffees and glasses of wine.  We attended each other’s hen do’s and weddings. Our children play together. Our husbands stand over barbecues together. She’s part of my past, my present, my future.

I doubt she remembers writing that letter.

I hope she doesn’t remember writing that letter.

But imagine if we’d been born 25 years later. Imagine if we were 11 years old now, with phones in our hands, computer screens in our homes. Imagine if she’d typed that letter with angry taps, pressing ‘send’ before her mother called her down for dinner and she checked between bites that the message had been delivered so that she knew the words were playing in my mind.

Imagine if, 25 years later, I could look back at a stream of messages and find it right there at the very beginning.

To be reminded whenever I wanted to be reminded.

And imagine if she could’ve written it publicly and tagged me – or, with a sense of 11-year-old injustice and anger, I could’ve shared it with our peers, our parents, and the world.

I have no answers – but just imagine…

It scares me.

It really scares me.

Does it scare you?



27th April 2018

10 Arguments Couples Will Have When They Become Parents…

  1. 1. “You’re tired? Seriously?!”

Are you even a parent if you haven’t argued over who was awake more times in the night or who was up the earliest with the kids? I mean, sleep deprivation and parenting may go hand-in-hand, but both have the tendency to fray tempers. Especially when the person next to you in the bed has the audacity to snore as you are trying to settle a baby back to sleep.

  1. “It’s definitely your turn!”

You know how it pans out. The distinct aroma of a child’s skanky nappy starts working its way around the room – and it’s a game of who can make themselves scarce first. And if you are both unlucky enough to be on the scene at the same time as detection, it’s definitely not your turn to do it. Because you did it last time. And let’s face it, probably the time before that too.

  1. “Where are the sodding nappies?”

You’re out and about with the brood, when the smallest one needs a nappy change. You reach into your bag to pull out a nappy – but there are none to be found. You know there was one in there this morning, because you checked. And then you remember the nappy change before you left the house, when your partner clearly raided the stash because they couldn’t be bothered to walk upstairs. And it’s definitely not a coincidence that they are now googling the nearest supermarket on their phone…

  1. “It costs HOW much?”

Whether it’s investing in a new buggy to accommodate a new baby (because this one has tons of features we didn’t have with the last one), buying a dress that you saw online that you loved but wasn’t exactly thriftstore, or realising your two-year old now needs their very own seat on a flight and has nearly doubled the price of the holiday, it’s nearly impossible to navigate parenting without the odd argument about how much these little cash-guzzlers cost.

  1. “Good Cop, Bad Cop”

One of you does most the legwork, changes most of the stinky nappies, does most of the night shifts, calms the most tantrums – and the other walks through the door and has little people running to them with a look of pure joy on their little faces. And when it comes to disciplining, there’s usually one that is seen as the soft touch, while the other gets a rap for being unkind. It’s all part of parenting as a team, but it’s bloody unfair – and you aren’t afraid to say it.

  1. “Romance? Ha!”

Because children + romance = barely compatible. But one half of the couple probably wants to try anyway.

  1. “You want to buy a mini bus?”

When kids come along, car dreams are shattered. And whether it’s the first leap to a sensible family car (when you were quite happy in that sporty little number) – or having to succumb to a mini bus when your brood expands, it’s rare you’re going to agree in the early stages of your ‘discussions’.

  1. “The Wake-up Call”

Whether they flushed the toilet during nap time, shut the door a bit too noisily, or decided to ramp up the football a notch or two, if it’s their bloody fault that the baby woke up, you will be telling them. And then passing them the baby.

  1. “WHERE ARE YOU?”

It doesn’t matter if it’s a legitimate reason. It doesn’t matter if they are dealing with an emergency at work or if the car broke down or if an old friend flew half way across the world for a drink and a catch-up, if they aren’t home by the time they said they’d be home to share the parenting, it’s nearly impossible to bite your tongue and smile sweetly when they walk through the door.

  1. “Are you even listening?”

And when you’ve just completed a five-minute soliloquy about childcare dilemmas, the merits of every primary school in the area, or a list of adorable things your shared offspring did earlier that day and your partner looks up vacantly and says: ‘Sorry love, what was that? I don’t think I was listening…” Well. Seriously. They may as well just pack their bags now.

 



24th April 2018

My Top 15 Summer Buys for Little Boys and Little Girls (everything under £26…)

There are some gorgeous clothes out there for little boys and little girls this season. From dinosaur-print swim shorts, to ditsy-floral sun hats, to ice cream motif T-Shirts, to heart-shaped sunglasses, I’ve spent some time today pulling together my top 15 buys from the high street for toddlers and small children – and the best bit is that nothing in my selection costs more than £26… So now all we need is the sunshine to come out again.

My Top 15 Summer Buys For Little boys…

  1. Crocodile T-Shirt (part of a set of three) at H&M, £9.99 – Link to buy
  2. Colour Block Stripe Jumper at The White Company, £24 – Link to buy
  3. Dungarees at H&M, £14.99 – Link to buy
  4. Ice Cream T-Shirt at Boden, from £16 – Link to buy
  5. Shark Sun Hat at Joules, £12.99 – Link to buy
  6. Black aviator Sunglasses at H&M, £3.99 – Link to buy
  7. Yellow sunglasses at River Island, £6 – Link to buy
  8. Star denim shorts at Next, from £11 – Link to buy
  9. Shark Rash Vest from The White Company, £22 – Link to buy
  10. Balloon T-Shirt from Scamp & Dude, £26 – Link to buy
  11. Bear Espadrilles from H&M, £5.99 – Link to buy
  12. Dinosaur Swim Shorts from La Redoute, £12 – Link to buy
  13. Ice Cream Swim Shorts from Zara Kids, £7.99 – Link to buy
  14. Cork Sandals from GAP, £16.95 – Link to buy
  15. Dinosaur Cap from Zara Kids, £6.99 – Link to buy

My Top 15 Summer Buys for Little Girls

  1. Tassel Dress from Next, from £15 – Link to buy
  2. Cardigan from Boden, from £22 – Link to buy
  3. Floral Sun Hat from Olivier Baby & Kids, £24 – Link to buy
  4. Striped All in One from La Redoute, £19 – Link to buy
  5. Heart Shaped Sunglasses from GAP, £6.95 – Link to buy
  6. Watermelon Swimming Costume from H&M, £5.99 – Link to buy
  7. Cat Hat from Zara Kids, £9.99 – Link to buy
  8. Bear T-Shirt (part of a set of three) at Next, from £11 – Link to buy
  9. Leather Sandals from H&M, £19.99 – Link to buy
  10. Rose gold leather sandals from Next, £15 – Link to buy
  11. Rash Vest and Frilly Swim Pants from Boden, from £26 – Link to buy
  12. Frilly Denim Top from GAP, £14.99 – Link to buy
  13. Liberty Print Bloomers from Etsy, £20 – Link to buy
  14. Bee Print Leggings from Mint Rainbow Shop at Etsy, from £13.50 – Link to buy
  15. Striped Bow Sandals from Zara Kids, £19.99 – Link to Buy

 

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10th April 2018

After you arrived, everything changed…

Dear Stanley – on the eve of your 6th birthday…

Before you arrived, life was different.

It was busy, but it was ordered.

It was simple, but it was full.

I lived for booking far-flung adventures, going on romantic dinner dates, and drinking really good cups of coffee at the weekend with a magazine in my hands.

I dreamt of career promotions, and white weddings, and one day, so distant in the future that it seemed hazy and surreal, of perhaps having babies of my own.

But back then, I wore clothes that I knew wouldn’t get covered in muck by grubby mitts and open-mouthed kisses within two minutes of getting dressed.

I wore shoes that I knew I could walk in – not having to consider suddenly breaking into a panicked run to chase you or carrying you for the entire walk as you point blank refused to sit in your buggy.

And I ate the food that I wanted to eat, not giving two hoots whether I was getting my five-a-day or drinking far too many glasses of cheap white wine as I rolled out of the office and into a bar with friends.

Before you arrived, life was different.

I was happy – and to be honest, I didn’t know that anything was missing.

But it turned out that it was.

Because one April afternoon, six years ago to the day tomorrow, you changed everything forever.

A little boy, like I’d always dreamt.

And as I stared into your deep blue eyes as you were placed on my chest, in that very instant, my life spun into a completely new course.

Life wasn’t so ordered anymore – but it was still busy.

Life wasn’t so simple anymore – but it was fuller than ever.

I still dreamt of far-flung adventures – but first, I needed to check there was travel cots, and high-chairs, and food on the menu that you’d actually eat.

I still lived for romantic dates – but they happened so rarely, I would delve into my handbag for a lipstick and discover spare dummies, and odd socks, and tiny toy cars instead.

I still adored cups of good coffee, but it wasn’t just for the taste anymore. It was for the caffeine – and the stronger, the better.

I had changed.

I still considered myself strong – but I was softer round the edges. My eyes welled up at emotional songs and films – and I full-on lost control of those tears the first time I saw you perform in a nursery show.

And as hard as it was to even imagine a life without you in it again, the thought occasionally crossed my mind and paralysed me for a moment – so terrified of losing you that I couldn’t function, or speak, or move until I forced it out of my mind again.

After you arrived, I was painfully aware of my flaws. My lack of patience, my vulnerabilities, and my inability to remain strong in the path of a stubborn toddler with pleading eyes.

But I realised my strengths too. Not only physically (because who can truly feel weak when they have grown and birthed a small human), but emotionally. To get through those hard weeks at the beginning, to learn to become a mother away from nearly everyone I knew and loved, and to get to the end of one of the hardest days and realise that we had survived.

After you arrived, everything changed.

Everything.

And six years on, I find it hard to remember what life was like without you in it

You were my first baby.

The little boy that made me a mother.

You changed me, challenged me, softened me, strengthened me, and taught me to love in a way I didn’t even know was possible.

And as you celebrate tomorrow, with those same deep blue eyes sparkling with excitement and happiness, I will take myself back to our first moments together.

Quietly remembering the first time that we met.

When everything changed.

Everything.

And I will smile.

Love from Mummy x