Let’s face it, giving birth is pretty darn hard work, there is no wonder they call it labour! So when you go to visit a new mama it is really nice to take them something that just says, “Well done you, here’s a little pick me up or treat for yourself’. Am I right?
With Reuben I was in hospital for a couple of nights, and I only had immediate family to visit, everyone else opted to wait until I was home (thank you!), however my husband knows how much I hate hospitals and wanted to bring me something that would pick me up a little bit and make me smile at 2.40am when I was trying to understand what the hell to do with this new, squalling pink thing that I was exclusively in charge of! Flowers are a no (yep, don’t go taking flowers into hospitals, they are now banned!!) and I couldn’t really be expected to get the chance to go and have a nice soak in the bath with some fancy bath products… so … chocolate!
I think these adorable decorated chocolates from Le Petit Bonbon are the perfect gift for new mums. They are delicious and can be nibbled at will! Each box contains 10 chocolates and is decorated according to the gender of your new baby (which is even sweeter if you have had a surprise!).
You can get your hands on some for a baby shower or new mama gift here.
You will probably have a beef stew recipe that you always break out when the weather starts to turn, or during the winter months when it is especially chilly. Well we love beef stew in our house and I am always trying to find new recipes to add to my collection that can keep everyone smiling and warm inside! This stew was in one of my favourite children’s recipe books ‘The Red One, An Ella’s Kitchen Cookbook’ which I never expected to like at all but was bought on the off chance by my Mum who is a total cook book hoarder! I’ve made a few adjustments to the original recipe to suit our family and I think this is a perfect stew, plus it is a great way to get iron into your child with all of that red meat and apricots!
What you need
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- 750g of diced stewing beef
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 300g carrots, chunky slices
- 4-5 dried apricots, chopped up into small pieces
- 2-3 dried prunes, chopped up into small pieces
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- 2 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 1 tablespoon of juice
- 750ml beef stock
- 150g blackcurrant jam (or plum/damson/apricot – play around with it!)
- freshly ground pepper to season
Preheat your oven to gas mark 2/160C/315F.
Heat your oil in a large casserole dish and brown your beef, setting aside with a slotted spoon to allow the oil to stay in the dish.
Add the onion and garlic and fry for 2 minutes until translucent and soft. Add the carrots, fruit, tomato puree and flour and cook for another 2 minutes.
Return the beef to the dish (with all of it’s juices!) along with the lemon rind and juice, stock and jam of your choosing. We really prefer the blackcurrant jam, it just seems to give such a rich flavour and it is truly delicious!
Season with pepper and cook in the oven on slow cook for 2 hours, checking that the beef is tender to the fork. If not, back in the oven for another 30 minutes, you really want the beef to just fall apart! Yum!
The recipe book tells me that I can serve this with pasta as well as mash potatoes, but I can honestly say the boys (and the adults too) only really like stews with mash potato and green veg in this house. You could, however, give it a go with pasta or even rice in your family! Either way, a platter of crusty bread on the table is a must while the rain pours outside… or maybe even the snow as we get nearer Christmas!
Leaf printing is so much fun, and now that the leaves are beginning to fall (aren’t the colours spectacular) I wanted to write about leaf printing because I think it is by far one of the most fun crafts, and one that you can get children of all ages involved in. I think that this in particular is the best way to leaf print and is one of the best Autumn crafts for kids that you can keep!
I thought it would be a nice idea to get my hands on some fabric paint and set the boys to work spicing up some vests, t-shirts and bodysuits for baby. What could be sweeter than having hand made outfits for baby to wear and show off, made by big brothers? While we were doing the leaf printing we also did some hand prints which I think are absolutely adorable and will be something to treasure.
I chose to use Dylon fabric paint which you can pick up at any hobby/crafting store, and I chose to use reds, yellows, golds etc to try and fit in with the Autumn leaf theme.
Here is what you will need:
- Dylon fabric paints or similar (Dylon are recommend for children, so that’s why I chose them, but avoid anything toxic!)
- Paint brush to paint the leaves
- Kitchen towel or a cloth to stop hands getting paint on them when you flatten the leaves.
- A few Dry leaves – if they are damp then it won’t work so well, so you can always put them on the radiator over a piece of kitchen paper or a tea towel.
- A few plain white/cream/pastel bodysuits, t-shirts, vests etc
Here’s how we did it!
I hope you give it a go and enjoy as much as we did, you can use bold colours but be aware that the paint doesn’t tend to show up so well, especially if you are using the child friendly versions. Be prepared for lots of mess, we have a bath as soon as we’ve done anything of this nature and we always cover the surface with a really, really large table cloth or splash mat – a wipeable one!
P.s – My top tip is when you have finished your designs and you have set them aside to dry, you need to take an iron and ‘seal’ the paint in. The only way to do this is to sandwich your design between two pieces of paper and iron over the paper, hold the dry iron for 30 secs. Job done.
Sometimes its fun to get involved in Halloween a little early, why not make the better part of October fun? Especially if you have children who love the whole ‘spooky’ scene and get really excited… why make it a one day event?
That being said, you probably don’t want to have your whole house decorated for the full month, or even let the kids go to school every day in fancy dress, however there is a way to enjoy the month and give it a creepy edge without over doing it.
I have ordered some of these super cool socks from Stance for the boys. They are ghoulish, they are fun and they are something that they will be able to use in the run up to Halloween… and every day after and beyond until they grow out of them.
You can find the various styles here at alexandalexa.com
I think these are a really cool solution to the problem that so many parents face!
My boys have just been bought new shoes for the colder weather, but when buying the shoes I had to consider pre-school and nursery, much like other Mums and those whose kids are at school too. I remember Reuben having the most adorable boots last season, however they were lace up and I was asked to provide shoes that he could get on and off himself at school, as in, no laces thank you very much. Toby always had his socks on when I went to collect him, shoes were left off because they were lace up!
This year, I’m not as keen on their shoes, I love lace up winter boots, there is something that is so much more nostalgic about them than the velcro straps, don’t you think?
These elastic bands look like laces with the ease and practicality of velcro! The lace up shoes go from being a hindrance to being slip ons, just like that. What’s even more fun is that the bands come in a variety of colours, which means your kids can have multicoloured laces on their favourite shoes, or if we are being sensible black is a welcome option for school.
There you go Mums, you never have to compromise on style and more importantly you never have to utter the words ‘Tie your shoe laces or you’ll fall!!’ again. You’re welcome.
You can find SHOEPS here.
This book is great. Humorous, clever and the perfect balance between reading and interacting with music.
The story is really catchy, with the ‘Nut House’ being just that – a house of nuts. Hazel and Wally (get it?!) are refusing to go to bed, but Mama nut insists it’s bedtime. The little nuts sing the song ‘We’re nuts, we’re nuts!’ over and over throughout the story, and you also get a free song and lullaby if you head over to the website, which just brings the whole thing to life!
P.s – Be prepared to giggle through your bedtime story with this one, and play spot it with the kids during the day – the illustrations are stellar!
What’s happening to baby this week?
This week it is safe to say on average, baby weighs just over a pound and is about 11 inches long (about the size of a grapefruit). At this stage baby has a really good sense of movement and can feel when Mama is dancing or moving about (an excuse to go out dancing perhaps?!) Blood vessels in the lungs are developing to prepare for breathing, and hearing is getting much more sensitive so those loud noises such as family member’s voices and vacuum cleaners won’t make baby jump, however if baby does jump you might be able to see it now as well as feel it!
The reality: How have I been feeling this week?
This well that pesky stomach acid is still bubbling away under the surface and causing me a lot of aggravation. I have to say I have felt a lot tireder this week than I have for the last few weeks, though that could be because I am really trying to push forward with organising the nursery and even organising the blog so that I can have a few days to myself (and my instagram – prepare for baby spam) after baby is born.
I have suffered with a few headaches this week as well, though I’m laying that at the door of being tired, I’m also conscious to keep an eye on things. One thing I have noticed this week is that my bump is getting rather heavy, I don’t ever remember suffering with a pain or acute heaviness with either of the boys, but this time I have a sinking feeling that I am going to need some kind of brace by the time I get to full term!
I have been looking for chocolate this week! Any chocolate lying around has been gobbled up faster than you can blink!
The bad, adorable and downright funny.
During a temper tantrum this week Reuben informed me that I was a ‘massive bad mummy’. I suspect it was his way of saying I was being really mean and not actually massive but at the time that is not how I took it and after asking him if he meant my belly we both ended up laughing!
I can feel so many kicks and can occasionally see the movements if I lie really still. Earlier in the week I was enjoying a relax with my husband trying to feel baby and he was treated to an almighty kick, it was lovely!
Still indigestion, but with the added annoyance of bump ache this week of pregnancy.
There is something about Autumn and Winter that makes me want to reach for that snuggly knitwear, and there is nothing sweeter than a hand knitted, pure wool cardigan in a classic style for your little one. Especially when it is knitted for you by someone you love.
Though I have never been adept at knitting myself, my mum is a dab hand and has made several beautiful pieces for my boys over the years. Her challenge this year is going to be to try out some of the styles from OGE Designs. I love the classic look to their knitting patterns, the effortless style and the fact that the designs are made for cashmere, merino and pure wool.
So if you, or someone close to you, is an avid knitter then pass them onto OGE Designs this Autumn/Winter and get some wonderful handmade pieces just for you.
You can find OGE Designs here on Etsy.
Wall stickers are the best way to spruce up your child’s room or play room without making major changes and having to re do the whole space again in a few years (or more likely when their next fad starts… so weekly then!)
I really love the selection over at Mirrorin, they have such a vast array of different styles to suit pretty much every taste and every room (even the bathroom!) They even have styles designed for the rest of the house – if you are a contemporary art fan then you really ought to check out their Banksy selection, it’s ultra modern and cool.
You can find Mirrorin here.
I have been really looking into things for the children’s bed rooms lately, especially now that I have a nursery to decorate! I wanted to do something for the boys room that was a little bit more grown up and sophisticated but still ‘toddler-ish’ enough for now. Something they could grow with that I wouldn’t be redecorating over and over again, possibly only tweaking.
For the baby I wanted a room that could be grown into, but that was still suitable for a nursery and that is when I reached out to one of my favourite sites Alex & Alexa, and they didn’t fail me! I came across these lovely night lights from L’Oiseau Bateau which will add a royal flare to any child’s room.
At the moment, I’m not far enough along in the planning to decide on one of these for my nursery (will I ever get the time?!) but I thought these were something I had to share with you all. They make a great alternative to the often gaudy and not so stylish princess or prince night lights from the highstreet, plus they take the historical form of Princes and Princesses so give your little ones a chance to learn about the rich history of the world. I especially like the way that these cast a soft glow, as opposed to the harsh light of many bed side lights.
You can find the lights here at Alex & Alexa.
What’s happening to baby this week?
Can you believe baby is (on average) around 1lb in weight and the size of a spaghetti squash! Baby is even starting to look like a miniature newborn with lips, eyelids, and eyebrows becoming more distinct. Babies eyes have formed, but the irises (the colored part of the eye) still lack pigment.
The reality: How have I been feeling this week?
This week has been a fall out from the last few weeks spent on holiday, which were a mixture of relaxing and hectic. A part of me feels super tired after being after and in the warm, not having to put up with the daily humdrum, and another part of me feels better rested and less stressed.
I have to report that the dreaded morning sickness has reared it’s ugly head (in fact it started at 20 weeks) and I have had a few mornings where I have had violent sickness and a one rather unpleasant evening on holiday too. Surprisingly I never had this with either pregnancy before after around 14-16 weeks. Fortuitously once I have been ill it seems to pass, and is confined to the mornings and that one exclusive evening! One thing that I am really suffering with, and it springs up at any time of day, sometimes all day, is indigestion. It’s appalling and will burn right from the stomach up the throat… this baby best arrive with hair long enough to plait!
I think thanks to the stomach acid all cravings seem to have disappeared, really I still love my chilli and noodles but I can’t stomach the thought of eating much when I have such discomfort.
The bad, adorable and downright funny.
My ever lovely husband watching me trying to pull my maternity jeans up and playing Jason Derulo ‘Wiggle wiggle’ on his phone. The lyrics ‘How’d you fit all that in them jeans’ did not amuse me, but seemed to amuse him!
Reuben is really talking to everyone about baby now, friends and family, random strangers and teachers are all given a full explanation as to the fact that Mummy has a baby in her tummy. Thank God he cleared that up for them, I would hate them to think I was just tubby.
The indigestion. It’s truly a killer and will not seem to disappear, despite the gaviscon and everything else I’ve tried.
There is something really cute about being able to dress children in adorable animal costumes, the odd Halloween and Christmas outfit too, after all it is your right as parent’s to enjoy creating those photo opportunities that your kids will hate when they get to their teen years.
That being said, it is rare that you find something that is adorable, practical and made with care and attention… that fit’s into the bill of future 18th birthday baby slideshow. Well, Little Animals Knitwear for kids is a beautiful brand that specialises in hand made and truly scrumptious woollen goodies for your little ones to use every day during the cool weather.
The wool is a super soft cashmere blend that is ethically sourced and dyed. What more could you want?
Check out all their hats and scarves here.
This is something I have been thinking about a lot over the last few weeks. After two weeks on holiday with the boys, I feel like I could use a holiday myself! I’m absolutely shattered, there wasn’t a day when we stopped and we just kept going and going, with so much to do and so much to see. We had a blast, but it has definitely not been the relaxing holiday of yesterday year where the tan is topped up and the cocktails flow.
I’m not complaining. I wouldn’t have it any other way, I have loved every minute of being with the boys and playing in pools, exploring bazaars and enjoying swimming in the warm sea. The journey home I did not enjoy, at all though and neither did they. They were tired, grumpy and just generally badly behaved. Reuben started the day by being rude and obnoxious towards me, deliberately defiant to his Dad and just, on the whole, a little rat bag. Toby was over tired and grumpy for most of the day, the child has an aversion to sitting still and displayed that aversion with a style that is rarely seen outside of zoos. I’m talking gymnastic style temper tantrums. By the time we got to the airport and got stuck in a huge border control que, I was about ready to cry and so were they. It didn’t even bare thinking about the 4 1/2 hour drive home.
I went from being the mother I like to think I am (the one I feel proud of and like to pretend I am all of the time) to being a raging, shouting, swearing (oh yes, swearing – and at the children too) monster that I absolutely abhor. I’m pretty sure I uttered the words, ‘ If you don’t stop doing that to people Reuben I am going to literally KILL YOU!’ Model your parenting from me people, just go ahead and consider me a guru.
Then something happened. A lady came up to me and asked how old the boys were. She had been watching them on the flight and had seen us all go from relatively cool and in control to frazzled as their behaviour deteriorated. I answered that they were 1, nearly 2 and 3 1/2 years old. She told me she was surprised by how well they had coped with a flight and how well behaved they had been, what lovely children. Was she seeing the same kids as me (at this point Toby was hanging upside down in a suspended crab because he didn’t want tot be held anymore and Reuben was casually trying to take the legs out of every person waiting for a passport check on his trunki)? I looked and at them and then back at her and she told me that for 1 and 3 you could hardly tell they were there, they had been quiet and well behaved for the most part, far better than most kids she knew who spent from take off the landing screaming or throwing things.
I couldn’t believe it, and then I looked at the boys again and really thought about their behaviour. Had it been so bad? Or was it more mine that had been questionable as the supposed adult? Had I lost my temper so many times with them because they were, in fact, behaving like normal children and I was the one ‘acting out’ because I was tired and frustrated? The simple fact is, children aren’t meant to sit still and behave themselves on travel days that take 14 hours, they aren’t meant be seen but not heard. They act out because they are bored and tired and fed up, just in the same way that we do.
My expectations of that trip home were just way too high. Why had my children’s behaviour been so much better on the way out? Had I asked Reuben why he had been so rude and uncharacteristically awkward/defiant towards me and his Dad since he woke up? Nope. So I decided I would. Do you know the reply? ‘Mummy, I don’t want to go home, I don’t want to go back to preschool and I’m sad that I can’t go to the pool. You said I couldn’t go after breakfast and that makes me angry and smashy.’ That is quite simply the same way I felt. I didn’t want to come home, go back to normality and the humdrum of daily life. The difference between me and a 3 year old is that I have years and years of understanding the way the world works and that holidays eventually end, life goes back to ‘normal’ and we look forward to the next one. If I could have a temper tantrum about it all without being locked up for ABH and criminal damage then I’d probably whack someone and kick a few chairs too!
Toby isn’t quite 2 years old and feeds from his surroundings, if his brother is behaving badly then he follows suit.
On the drive home, after our little chat about the holiday being over now but that didn’t mean we had to stop having fun, and how he would see all his friends at preschool and his Grandparents the week after, Roo was a dream child. He slept for the majority of the way, woke up to ask for drinks, food or a toilet break and then drifted again. Toby followed his big brother’s footsteps and calmed right down, though he didn’t sleep quite so well because he was hungry and over tired. I spent the rest of the journey really thinking about how the whole day had played out and how I should try to adjust my parenting style from now on, to really avoid those times when you just lose your cool. I’m not saying I’ve had an epiphany and will never lose it again, of course I will, but maybe an unnecessary meltdown can be avoided by asked more questions, stopping for a second and thinking about why the boys are acting out. Validating the way they are feeling and possibly expecting, not less, but different outcomes to situations.
So, a little challenge for you. If you are prone to losing your cool, or you just find that you are doing it more often of late, then I challenge you to sit down and really think about how your child is behaving and what it is that they are doing that drives you so crazy. Is there a reason? Have you asked? Is there a time or a place that the behaviour worsens, and if so, could something be on their mind that they can’t express because they haven’t learnt how?
Give it a go, or if you already are a pro at this, let me know and tell me how you make it work for you… unless it’s with wine. Then go away and come back after January ok?
Recently I asked a wonderful Facebook group that I am part of if anyone would be interested in writing a piece about baby wearing, how to, why to or anything related to it. It’s something I’ve done with both boys, though not constantly, and more so with Toby out of ease than anything else. I can hardly count myself as an expert, but some people are genuinely experts in baby carrying or baby wearing and can help new parents understand how and why carrying is such a positive thing to do for baby and for you. I am so delighted to share this piece by Mariann Hornyák, from Baby In Sling, who is a baby wearing consultant and puts into words perfectly how important carrying can be for helping to maintain the bond built over pregnancy with baby.
Finally you can be sure. You can exhale, relax. The second line is there: you are pregnant. This is the start of your journey with your baby. Yes, I called your fetus a baby. This baby will grow, develop, and get stronger. You carry him. You carry your baby in every second, close to your heart.
Your baby has free access to food, he can sleep anytime he feels tired and he is comforted, cuddled and loved in every moment. This is his real world. Your heartbeat is the music he listens to before falling asleep, your heartbeat is there when he awakes. He is secured, he is warm, he is fed and he is free to move and straighten his legs, turn his body. This is the perfect place for him. You can tell how happy he is.
You can feel his moves and kicks; soon he will listen to your voice and will react. He will fall asleep if his daddy tells stories to him. You already communicate in every minute. You are connected.
Your baby is there, part of your body, growing from there like the most beautiful flower from the ground.
And then something happens that your baby does not understand. He feels that something terrible is going to happen and he cannot hear your heartbeat anymore. He can only hear loud voices, see blinding lights, strange people. He has to fight with breathing, smells, cold and being separated from his heartbeat. That heartbeat meant the warmth, the safety, the food and the love; that was everything he had.
He is scared now. He is scared to death.
The only relief is if he can get that heartbeat back. Not as loud as before but the same rhythm. He can feel the warmth of your skin. He knows that he is part of your body. He does not understand what happened but does not want accept the change. His biological need is to stay close to you, close to the heartbeat that he already knows well. This is the only way he can survive, he believes.
He does not know anything else, only how life was in the womb. Every day will bring something new to learn. But he feels safe only close to you. You carried him for months, keep going now. Carry him close to your heart.
There is only one thing that can be even scarier than the noisy, crowded world: the silence in the darkness, when he is left alone without the heartbeat.
You can find Mariann here:
After a wonderful break away we are finally home, and how lovely it is to arrive home, despite missing spending time with the boys at the pool in the blistering heat!
I wanted to share my holiday with you in pictures, as it really is too long to write all in one post (especially with all of the laundry to do!) Hopefully over the next few weeks I will be able to get together a travel guide about Lara Beach and the best things to do over there with your kids. If anyone has any suggestions then please don’t hesitate to send them in to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and hopefully for all of the holiday makers next year we can have a good guide.
Anyway, back to our holiday in pictures!
So, if you are a regular to the blog you will know that I post at least once a day with new things and stylish information for the coolest parents and the kids that think they aren’t.
Well, this week I will be having a bit of an absence from the blog as I am on holiday in Lara Beach, which I will sharing with you all when I arrive home on 16th!
I really like Eka and I was so excited when I came across her fantastic big cartel shop just in time for Autumn/Winter. Not only are the accessories ethically made, but they are also some of the snuggliest, cosiest looking accessories I have seen for a while!
Mittens for kids are always sweet, but I love the idea of having ‘hidden message’ mittens, which I know children just love! You put your hands together and the message is revealed, be it a snowflake, heart or even smiley faces on your thumbs.
Such a sweet idea. At the moment, the only place to get hold of Eka accessories for kids is on notonthehighstreet.co.uk but do check out the big cartel shop too for even more luscious accessories for grown ups!
This is such a great idea, and such a space saver in your bag too after the drinks are finished, the ultimate water bottles for kids!
The Ohyo water bottle is a unique, environmentally friendly, space saving, collapsible water bottle that can hold up to 500ml of drinks, but when it’s empty it concertinas down to a third of its height. The bottle is made from environmentally friendly and BPA, PET free plastic… it’s even dishwasher safe!
The other thing I really like about these bottles is the child friendly sports spout that can be used by little ones as well as older kids, and having this about is bound to keep them all hydrated while they play!
You can find them at one of my favourite online shops Toyella.
This baby wrap is so adorable. You know when you see babies all warm and cosy in a pushchair or their mother’s arms and your ovaries start to twitch? Yeah, that kind of cute.
Made by the brilliant Tuppence & Crumble, these wraps (which have coined their own name of star snug) are the perfect solution for this cooler weather we are now getting, especially as they fit into everything from the pushchair to the car seat and even a sling.
Made from machine washable, super soft fleece, these are an absolute must have for your bambino for the cooler months.
You can find them on the Tuppence & Crumble site here.
Did you know that it is organic beauty week this week? Well, it’s also organic month, a time to celebrate all that is organic, and I wanted to post about one of my favourite brands (especially now I’m pregnant and have to stay away from chemical products) Green People and Organic Children.
You might remember my post not so long ago about the fantastic Self Tan that I had been sent by Green People to use and trial for that summer glow that I wasn’t getting during this pregnancy, if not you can read about it here. Or what about my post about the suncream we used for the boys over the summer? You can catch that one here too but that is just the tip of the iceberg for the fab products that Green People have to offer.
So why go organic?
Pretty thought provoking stuff right? With Green People you know what you are getting is certified organic, they even tell you by what percentage on every product. The products smell great and make you feel fantastic!
I challenge all of my readers to look at their products (not just for yourself, but for your children too) and put them aside for this one organic month and try Green People replacements. Feel the difference and you will be converted!
You can get hold of all of the products here.