Mama & Baby

The first of many

I’m a self confessed party planner addict. I’ll be the first to admit I get carried away but ever since planning our wedding it just sparked a little obsession for me. I love spending hours during an evening scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram and I just enjoy being able to get my teeth stuck into a little project. So when we realised that our whole family would be in our home town for our cousins 18th it seemed like the perfect oppuritiny to throw a birthday bash for the girls 1st birthdays. Evie and Isla are only 12 days apart in age and Lil and I are best friends as well as cousins so it just seemed so perfect for our girls to have a joint party. 

Our cakes were made by a lovely lady called Laura who is local to me and I found by chance when I ordered cupcakes from her a few years ago. It turns out she went to my high school, she lives round the corner from my Mum and Dad and she’s a slimming worlder too (@raising_3boys_sw). She currently only makes cakes for friends and family however when her youngest son starts school next year she will be focusing on her cakes so if you’re local to the Southport area keep an eye out on Laura’s page because you can see just how incredible her cakes are!

Our beautiful cake toppers and cupcake toppers were made by the lovely Anna at Lucy Rose Party who makes the most fabulous party decor. The toppers are the perfect finishing touches to any cake.

I came across @whirling.in.wonderland on Instagram and I was immediately obsessed with these garlands! Once I saw it I couldn’t get it out of my head (anybody else like me and just obsess over things until you get them!?) and I knew it would make the most stunning back drop for the party table. I messaged Kimberley and asked if she could squuuuueze me in as I knew her order books were pretty full but luckily she had a slot so I ordered the 15 twirl garland in pastel colours and as you can see from the pictures it looked incredible! I’ve never come across anything like this before I just think it’s so unique and eye catching!


I was lucky enough (and when I say that I really mean it. I’m so thankful and grateful when people send me things. I would never ever contact a shop or business and ask for something for free because I’m just not about that life but I am genuinely grateful when people do send me things out of their own choice. TANGENT.) to be contacted by Aimee who owns Make My Day Stationery and asked if I would like some unicorn party boxes. Of course I jumped at the chance because quite frankly they’re bloody fabulous! What I didn’t expect was all the extras Aimee sent to us too including personalised straws, thank you tags and some beautiful prints.

I have been following Pretty Little Maison since before I was pregnant and had been in awe of Alice’s talent. She kindly made us a family name sign which we’ve had for well over  a year before she ventured into working on chalkboards full time. I knew I was going to order Evie a birthday board for a very long time so when it came round to it I was so excited to design it with Alice. It’s such a lovely keepsake and we will be framing ours and putting it up in Evie’s bedroom.

Isla also had a beautiful birthday print which was created by the lovely Emma who owns Mackymoo Creations.

I decided to do the party ‘favours’ myself as it was just a little something for people to be able to take home if they wanted to so I made the cone popcorn bags which I purchased off eBay (click here) they were only £1.85 for 25 cones and pink ties which I then stuck unicorn thank you stickers on also from eBay (click here) and filled with popcorn!


Beaus Little Bakery then very kindly sent us the most beautiful unicorn biscuits which finished off the party favours perfectly! Look how cute they are! Shimmery rainbow unicorn biscuits. AMAZING.

Also I just want to say a huge thank you to the always lovely @_eviemichelle for the beautiful bows for Evie and Isla which went perfectly with their party dresses! I’m so glad I was able to include so many Instagram shops and businesses into the girls party as we have shared our first year of motherhood with so many of you through Instagram which has had a few lows but so many highs! There’s an mixture of gifted items but also a lot of things which I purchased with my own money here and I hope this comes across as genuine and grateful and not braggy in any way. I know this is slightly excessive to some and the girls won’t remember a thing but we created so many amazing memories and shared such a lovely day with our family and that’s what it’s all about. 


Oh and one last thing. What is a 1st birthday party without your own snapchat geo filter hey!? (Really easy and simple to do, just log into Snapchat on a computer or laptop, create your filter, select your location and purchase! Ours cost just £5!!)

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Mama & Baby

Collect with Clubcard

If you’ve followed me on Instagram for a while you’ll know that 70% of my maternity leave has been spent in Tesco. Okay maybe that’s an exaggeration but I have spent a hell of a lot of time over the past 12 months. I’ve just got a slight addiction to that shop . . . But with a baby in tow it’s without a doubt the best shop for our family as it literally has everything under one roof. Not only that but I always get sent vouchers and coupons through my Clubcard and as the saying goes “every little helps” (particularly on maternity leave!)

Tesco have re-launched their Clubcard which is now contactless so a tap is all it takes and it’s really simple to use alongside the newly designed app. It’s now easier than ever to collect your points, keep track of them, watch them tot up and then spend them in-store or even convert them into exciting days out. It’s that simple to turn your shop into big adventures. Which let’s face it, when you’ve got a family being able to save money on days out just by doing your weekly shop is win win!

If you’re anything like me I am constantly losing paperwork and most stuff that comes through the post gets thrown into a draw never to be seen again. That’s why I find the app so handy because it saves all of your vouchers and coupons in one place and you can simply print them off as and when you need them. It also gives you a running total of your points and the cut off date to collect points before you receive your vouchers. We’re saving ours up to take Evie to Nickelodeon Land as 50p of Clubcard vouchers coverts into £1.50 to spend at Blackpool Pleasure Beach; therefore a £24 adult ticket will only cost you £8 in Clubcard vouchers!

If you head over to the Tesco Clubcard website you can see for yourself just how many different rewards are available. I’ll be totally honest I thought the most you could get with Clubcard points was a cheap pizza when eating out but there is so much more that you can use your points on. From spa days to holidays, driving lessons to breakdown cover, a trip to the zoo or even paint balling. It’s a really simple and cost effective way to keep the whole family entertained as there are hundreds of places and activities to choose from. It’s always a bonus when a family day doesn’t have to break the bank!

And one last thing; before motherhood turned me into a bit of a self confessed Tesco addict (this is definitely confirmed when you are on first name terms with some of the checkout staff) I had no idea I had been collecting Clubcard vouchers so I had a lovely £19 voucher waiting for me when I logged into my account! So it’s definitely worth logging in to your account (click here) regularly to check for vouchers and keep track of your savings.

This post was sponsored by Tesco but as always all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Mama & Baby

Returning to work

There’s this thing that people will do all the way through your maternity leave and that is ask you “when do you go back to work?” It’s constant and consistent and it’s always said with a twinge to their face. It’s the dreaded question.

4th September 2017 in case you were wondering.

I have had the best 13 months of my life, 11 months and 3 weeks of them have been spent with Evie Pops and they have been more incredible than I could have ever imagined. But when I embarked on maternity leave I knew that it was exactly that; a period of leave. I’ve always known I’d be returning to work for financial reasons like 99% of the population I can’t just give up my job to stay at home with my child. If you can then you are super lucky. We have a mortgage to pay, we need food on the table and clothes on our backs. I’ve tried to cherish every day of maternity leave, from the days where we go on adventures and eat cake to the days where we sit in our pyjamas and watch CBeebies. My god some of those days have been testing and some days (most*) I breathe a sigh of relief when Daniel walks through the door but nevertheless I’ve tried to cherish it all.

I love my daughter beyond words; I genuinely think about how much I love her and realise there are not enough words in the dictionary for me to describe it. However that doesn’t mean I have to be surgically attached to her until she turns 18. As much as I adore being a Mum, which I honestly do with all my might, I also love being just Emma.  I honestly believe that me returning to work will benefit the both of us! It makes me all sorts of anxious at the thought of leaving Evie and her trotting of to nursery after spending near on every day together for the past 12 months but as I mentioned in my Instagram post the other day I’m also quite excited. She’s a sociable little soul and she thrives off being around other children. You can see the excitement in her eyes and those swirling wrists of hers when she interacts with kids whether they’re 6 months old or 8 years old! I’m excited that she gets to spend two whole days a week at nursery being stimulated, learning new things, being creative and making friends (in all honesty sometimes I feel guilty she doesn’t get enough stimulation when I’ve got to clean the bathroom, hang the washing out and nip to Tesco). It’s scary that she’ll have this little part of her life that I’m not a part of but in the same way I’ll have a little part of my life that she’s not a part of. No one at work will expect me to wipe up their shit bum (or at least I friggin hope not), I will be able to go to the toilet alone, eat my food without sharing (being snarled at) and swap Mr Tumble for meeting minutes.

It’s okay to be a mother but also want a bit of ‘you’ time; to continue to focus on your future, your career, your goals. My career path has changed dramatically since having Evie because I made the decision to go from being full time to part time and therefore it has closed a lot of doors. But I’m more than okay with that. I have chosen to give up a small part of my career in exchange for a larger part in my daughters life. That’s my choice but some people don’t even have the choice. I feel lucky that I’m able to go back part time. Some mothers don’t return to work at all, some mothers return full time, others work weekends or night shifts and you know what . . We’re all doing the best we can. We’re all doing what works for us. There is no right or wrong. 

I got slated on a certain “website” for returning to work after having a baby and I quote “it seems madness for them to have children and then need to go back to work. She’s going back to work in a few months and her little one isn’t even one yet” I honestly couldn’t believe what I was reading?! There are so many things wrong with this statement I wouldn’t even know where to start!!!! All I will say is YES I’m returning to work as I am contractually obliged to all thanks to occupational maternity pay (which I’m unbelievably grateful for) but also because I WANT to. How about that heyyyyyy? P.s. I return to work one WEEK before my daughter turns one *eyeroll.eyeroll.eyeroll*

Travel

Croatia 

It’s taken me a while (understatement of the year) to get this blog post up as I ummed and ahhed about whether to do it or not. This is probably more of quick recap of our time in Croatia rather than a ‘review’ so to speak. I do feel like holidays are so person specific that you can’t possibly please everyone (reason 101 why I should not spend hours on Trip Advisor) for example; something that I find really important in a holiday may have no relevance to someone else. However I have had a lot of questions about where we stayed in Croatia since I obviously instagramed the hell out of our first family holiday so I thought I would share a few details for those who have asked.

We stayed at the TUI Family Life Bellevue Resort in Rabac, Croatia. We chose Croatia because I’ve heard amazing things (the scenery did not disappoint!) and because the flight is just under 2 hours from Manchester! We booked through Thompson, something we had never done before. I am obsessed with booking holidays, it genuinely becomes a full time job and I research for hours, days, weeks and months. In the past I’ve always booked our hotel, flights and transfers separately so to book a package holiday was a new experience for me. Danny and I have only visited one all inclusive hotel before which we both hated . . (Okay it was just me who hated it). In all honesty I’ve never seen the appeal of eating in the same place every night as I love getting dressed up and going out on holiday (as it’s such a rarity at home). However with a 9 month in tow we figured AI would be our best bet as it meant no cooking or cleaning (if we did self catered) and as Evie does mostly BLW we thought it would be easy to eat from the buffet and also the added benefit of it being a family life hotel meant we weren’t worried about making a mess or being nosey at meal times! 

As it got closer to our holiday we became slightly sceptical as this was a brand new hotel and the opening had been delayed by a few weeks so when we arrived it had only been open for 10 days. I stupidly joined a Facebook group as I wanted to keep up to date with what was going on however it was just a page for everyone to vent their anger and issues which in turn worried me even more so I quickly unfollowed that group! Thankfully when we arrived apart from a few expected teething problems everything was pretty much perfect! The hotel was stylish and modern, the location was stunning and the staff were lovely especially with Evie! 

I’m not sure whether I’m a knitpicker (Danny would say yes) or that these issues we faced would annoy everyone but there was a shortage of highchairs so every mealtime became a bit stressful! We had to hover near someone who looked like they were about to leave in hope we could swipe their highchair which became extremely tedious by the 4th day. I know it was only the second week of them being open but you would think with it being a family life hotel they would have expected a lot of kids!? Also we stayed in the main reception block which was brand new (beautiful stylish and very modern) but their was only ONE lift in a block of 6 floors. Again, a family life hotel where the majority of people are bound to have prams and strollers and there was ONE lift!? Seems absolutely crazy to me! On a few occasions we ended up lugging a 22lb baby, a changing bag, a stroller and inflatables up 5 flights of stairs as the queue for the lift was ridiculous. Hopefully they will be able to address these issues as you do have to give them the benefit of doubt with it being such a new hotel. 


At the hotel there were so many day beds as well as regular sun beds which I think made our holiday so much easier with Evie. Her and Danny spent a lot of time napping (winning at life when Daddy day care takes place in the shade and I can sunbathe) which meant we didn’t have to try to get her to nap in the pram very much.

We honestly had such a wonderful first family holiday and I really want to return to Croatia as it was so so beautiful! I hope this answers any questions I’ve had but please do feel free to drop me a comment or message on Instagram and I will get back to you. 

Mama & Baby

Ella’s Kitchen 10 month goodies

We are huge fans of Ella’s Kitchen here in the Manchester household. As I’ve mentioned before; weaning Evie was one of the most daunting things I’ve ever done. Mostly because I didn’t have a clue where to start, what to do? How much? How often? Plus the fact your baby has just drank milk for 6 month so moving onto solids is scary! So when I came across the Ella’s Kitchen app and their Veg for Victory campaign it helped me massively! It had a plan of action and a ‘structure’ so to speak plus it was full of information which is exactly what I needed! Once I found my feet and I felt confident in what I was doing then we were away and weaning became so much fun! I genuinely believe focusing on veggies in the beginning has played a massive part in Evie’s weaning journey and she is now pretty open to all foods and enjoys the majority of things which in turn makes my life a lot easier.


Ella’s Kitchen recently sent us some new goodies to try out now Evie that has hit the 10 month mark as this coincides with their products going up a stage. Their 10 month meals have a lot more texture to them and are bigger in size and the snacks are also aimed at babies age and their development. For example the melty puffs (which have always been a massive hit with Eves) now come as melty hoops which are a lot smaller and encourage babies to start using the ‘pincer grip’ to pick up food.

We also received a chicken casserole, cheesy pasta, tomato-y pasta and cottage pie. As Evie has gotten older wherever possible I do try to give her whatever we are having for dinner (or a similar variation) but these meals are so handy to have in the house for when you just don’t have time to whip up a full meal. Sometimes you walk through the door at 5pm and Eves has the patience of a pea when it comes to being hungry (I do wonder where she gets that from . . ) so I need something super quick but still healthy! The thing I love about Ella’s Kitchen is there are no hidden nasties and the ingredients are clearly labelled on the back. Also they send their products in the best brightly coloured boxes full of shredded paper which Evie thinks is just the best thing ever.


Mama & Baby

Evie’s 10 month ‘update’


It’s hit me like a tonne of bricks this week. Ten months old. It feels like some sort of milestone because it’s double figures? Not only that but she’s come on leaps and bounds within the space of 4 weeks. Now its all ‘is she crawling yet?’, ‘When do you go back to work?’, ‘Is she talking much?’ And I’ve entered panic mode. Panicking that I go back to work in 8 weeks . . . am I soaking up every second of her?, are we having enough fun?, is she stimulated enough?, will she miss me?, will she remember me? . . You know all the normal daily crazy Mum thoughts. Of course she’ll remember me but from being with her for (pretty much) every single day for a whole year to suddenly handing her over to a stranger at nursery is a daunting thought. But for now I’m going to try and focus on the present and not the future. We will cherish every day and when we get to the next hurdle that’s when we will overcome it. There’s no point wasting today worrying about tomorrow!


We have entered 10 months old with 4 teeth! We’ve gone from none to 4 in the space of a few weeks; 3 on the bottom and one on the top. I won’t lie we didn’t even realise she had 3 bottom teeth, we just felt them one day and there they were, 3 little toothy pegs. But that top tooth. Wow. You my friend are a little bitch (in the voice of Kim from Kim and Aggy of course). You hear people talk about teething but when you experience it first hand it really does make for hard work. Thankfully we are out of it now and she’s back to her sassy little self . . Until the next one makes an appearance!

We have started to move! Finally! My little lazy lady has started to finally shift her bottom and make her way round the room. She’s not crawling yet but she is doing this hysterical bum shuffle roll and shimmy Lara Croft style to get from one side of the room to the other. I’m not exactly encouraging her to crawl because let’s face it once she starts moving she’ll have my life. All in your own time little one, there’s no rush.

If you watch my Instagram stories you will see she’s become quite the dancer. Not so much moves like Jagger but more like moves like Mummy (after a wine). She’s an absolute hoot and has us (and everyone else around her) in hysterics every time she does it. I honestly don’t know where she gets her rhythm from.

We are still being very screechy. Think high pitched. Think loud shrieks. Think sore throat roars. However we’ve started to actually ‘chat’ a lot more and Dada is still her favourite word. But it’s okay baby because we save the best till last don’t we and when you say Mama we will shout it from the rooftops!!

Don’t get me wrong when I see a squishy little newborn I get all sorts of broody however I adore her at this age. She’s so much fun, so responsive, so cheeky, so smiley, so mischievious and just a proper little character. 

Mama & Baby · Travel

Evie’s holiday wardrobe

Long gone are the days where I am obsessing over my holiday outfits months in advance. It’s now all about Evie! I was panic buying clothes for myself 2 days before we flew as I really didn’t give it a second thought until I began to pack. Whereas Evie’s holiday wardrobe had been building since March! I thought I would do a little blog post on her holiday essentials and outfits.

(Hat from Sunshine and Shade, costume from Monsoon)(Towel hoodie from Baby Gap)(Costume from Monsoon)(Sunsuit fromHatley)

(Top from Zara, sandals from Baby Gap, shorts from Matalan)

 (Jumpsuit from Primark)

(Dress from Zara)

(Dress from Zara)


(Dress from Next)

Mama & Baby

The things they don’t tell you about

So it’s 26th September 2016 and we have had our tiny little human being that belongs to us in our lives for two whole weeks. Two weeks of crying every day with happiness (me and Danny), two weeks of floating on cloud 9, two weeks of feeling utterly blessed and surprisingly two weeks of feeling confident. I felt like I was born to do this, it came naturally to me and I didn’t feel these ‘baby blues’ that people spoke of! The general rule of thumb is that the baby blues hits you a few days after getting out of hospital however I felt nothing but sheer joy. That was until I woke up near enough two weeks to the day after giving birth and BAM I was hit with all emotions you could ever contemplate feeling all at once. Sadness, happiness, fear, jealousy, anger, love. All at once. I freaked out big time. I cried non stop for 48 hours. I genuinely believed I had post natal depression as I could not stop crying and I couldn’t see how I would ever stop crying. My mind was hazy and I couldn’t think properly. I constantly worried I was going to drop Evie or fall down the stairs holding her and I couldn’t watch the news because every time I saw something I immediately thought it was going to happen to my baby.

At the time I couldn’t see how I was ever going to overcome these feelings, they were such strong thoughts and emotions that I believed they would be with me forever. Now I realise that my hormones were all over the place (I had also just been diagnosed with PUPPS but that’s a story for another day!), my body had just had to cope with a hell of lot and it was totally normal to feel this way! You now are in charge of another human being, a human being who you love like you have never loved before; of course you are going to be all over the place! Anxiety + wild hormones = a little bit cray cray and that is totally okay! It’s okay not to be okay! You’re not alone. I could not have got through those few weeks without Danny and my Mum they were incredible. Post partum anxiety is probably the most normal and natural thing that can happen to you I just wish I knew this at the time! 

I doubted myself so much when I was pregnant, would I be a good Mum? How would I cope? is Motherhood really for me? But from the second I met my baby girl my whole world just shifted. Everything fell in to place. No one had me down as a ‘natural’ mother and I’m okay with that! Even I knew that pre baby Emma didn’t come across as an overly ‘maternal woman’ (what ever that may be). Pre baby Emma was lazy, selfish, highly strung and stubborn. I make myself sound like a wanker, I probably was bit! I’ve never had confidence in myself with regards to anything, but surprisingly I doubted myself more during pregnancy than I did once I actually had Evie! Of course I still do doubt myself when it comes to parenting but at the same time I know I’m capable of making the best decision for my baby more than anyone else and that I was meant to do this. A lot of people say they lose themselves when they have a baby, well in fact I found myself and I’m not ever going to shy away that. Evie has changed me in more ways than I could have ever imagined and I am eternally thankful for that.

Travel

Where memories are made | Ribby Hall Village

I love a staycation, don’t get me wrong going abroad is still probably top of my list but now with a baby in tow it’s a totally different ball game. Holidaying in England now means it’s like home from home, things are a lot easier and potentially more relaxing! Luckily for us when we visited Ribby Hall for the weekend temperatures hit highs of 19 degrees so it was like we were holidaying in the French sun anyway!


When you enter Ribby Hall it’s like driving into a cute miniature village they have their very own Spar, a Starbucks and Papa Johns! It feels really homely and family orientated from the moment you get there. 


We stayed in the Sapphire Cottage which sleeps up to 6 people and includes one master bedroom (with en suite), one twin bedroom and a bedroom with bunk beds. It is situated next to Fisherman’s Reach and the cottage has bi-fold doors which lead to your own patio where you can look out onto the fishing lake.


There are so many things to do for the kids from sensory adventure, archery, nature trails, miniature golf, rock climbing, soft play . . The list goes on!

They’ve recently had a huge renovation in their leisure pool which now includes interactive water features, children’s splash lagoon, thrill slide, hot tubs and a sauna and steam room. It was completely baby & child friendly and the new shallow pool area (pictured below) was great as we could just sit down with Evie whilst she had a little splash around. 

As our cottage was situated by the lake we were constantly visited by the ducks which Evie absolutely loved! The ducks are so friendly (is that even a thing? Friendly ducks?) but seriously they come over to you and stand right next to with no fear whatsoever. It was so cute seeing her interact with them and follow them around! 

Whilst we were there I visited The Spa Hotel which is situated within Ribby Hall’s grounds where I had the most amazing facial ever! I had the 50 minute Ishga Anti-Ageing Rejuvenating Facial and it was complete and utter relaxation! The hotel and spa facilities looked amazing and as soon as went back to meet Danny I told him we would definitely be returning without Evie (soz babes) for a spa break!


Whilst we were there we also visited the wild discovery petting zoo. It’s currently in he middle of renovations and they are adding more animals this year to their ‘Safari Walk’ which is exciting! It’s an interactive animal experience and they do daily talks and you can take part in activities. Evie absolutely loved being able to get really close to lambs!


I had heard of Ribby Hall before we visited but I didn’t even realise how close it was to where we live and we will absolutely be returning again! I think we’ll make it a family affair and invite Nana and Grandad next time too. We seriously crammed so much into 3 days and made so many memories and I would recommend it to anybody with young kids as there is just so much for them to do whilst catering for the adults too. Thanks for having us Ribby Hall!!!

Lifestyle

BMW 2 series Active Tourer

One minute you’re 17 years young and jumping into a tiny little Corsa with only your purse and your keys in tow . . next thing you know you’re a Mother and you’re lugging the pram, the changing bag, a spare outfit, a baby and the kitchen sink into your family car.

Bowker BMW were kind enough to lend us the 2 Series Active Tourer which we had the pleasure of driving to Ribby Hall Village for a family weekend. 

Edit
If you hadn’t of noticed I am no car expert. I don’t know any of the fancy lingo and I can’t tell you what half of the buttons do. Let’s be honest here, Danny and I drive my Mum and Dad’s old Ford Focus that was gifted to us because, well it’s free and I am on maternity leave. And for that we are super grateful! However, I am no Jeremy Clarkson but what I can tell you is that this car was an absolute dream to drive and as a Mum it genuinely did make my life that little bit easier! I mean any car that has an auto boot is a winner in my eyes. When you’ve got your hands full with a baby, 10 shopping bags and a pram to put in the boot then auto boot is the one. The boot was big enough to fit our pram in without taking it apart and for those of you who have a Joolz you will understand what a momentous occasion this is! In fact I managed to fit a Joolz Day, a Bugaboo Chameleon, 2 car seats, 2 babies, 2 adults and a lottttt of shopping bags into this car!!!

Whilst we had the car we fitted our isofix car seat in it which is the Britax Dualfix. Definitely not a small car seat but it was the perfect fit in the Active Tourer and it’s always a bonus when the passenger doesn’t have to sit with their knees touching their chin because of a car seat in the back!

We had an absolute ball test driving this car and I will be so sad to give it back! I never really thought about BMW as a brand that makes ‘family cars’ but they have managed to merge the practicalities and needs of a car for families with the sleek design of a classic BMW and I love it! 

Thank you to the guys at Bowker BMW for lending us this car for our family weekend adventure! Keep an eye out for my Ribby Hall review coming very soon.