Friday, 30 October 2015

50 Things I've Learnt During The First Year

 Some  observations, 'words of wisdom' and home truths from my first year of parenting!

  1. -The human body is absolutely amazing. Yep, the very same body that couldn't  carry me around the field during cross country (circa '02)  managed to grow a little human. It was stretched to its maximum capacity over 9 months, endured excruciating pain and birthed a little human, and it still kinda blows my mind.
  2. You know what else is amazing? Witch Hazel. Cooling, soothing witch hazel. If there ever should be a 'next time ' it's sure as hell the first thing being chucked in the hospital bag.
  3.  Expectant parents are like putty in the hands of marketers. I too am guilty of stocking up on so many useless products that I was led to believe were 'essentials'
  4. On the subject of stocking up, we are still scraping through tubs of never ending Sudocrem and bottles of baby shampoo... a year later. Oops.
  5. You probably will have a big ol' cry at some stage in the first few weeks of parenthood. One you will be able to look back on and laugh at. Those pesky hormones, eh?!
  6. ...And sadly, those hormones will never be the same again. Get used to weeping over everything.. cute animals, old people, Grand Designs...
  7. Stretchmarks do fade. OK, so they don't completely vanish over night, but they do fade- You only have to look at your baby to know that they are very much worth it.
  8. You will never have to set an alarm clock ever again.
  9. 7.30am is considered 'sleeping in' My teenage self would shudder at the very thought.
  10. I really thought baby clothes were extremely awkward to put on, until it came to dressing a walking toddler. This is the time of day I count as my daily exercise.
  11. Had I known Gaviscon was available on prescription I wouldn't have have bled my bank account dry buying it in Boots.. at least my advantage card reaped the rewards! 
  12. I never really appreciated sleep until becoming a mum, and if I could turn back time I would happily have clocked up more hours in bed and felt no guilt whatsoever.
  13. Never under estimate the power of a baby wipe. Not only do they clean baby, they'll also be used to clean your sofa, your floor, yourself in between showers, and those baby food stains from your jeans. 
  14. Every one loves a birth story. I have never shared so many intimate details with other women since becoming a mum. 'You leave your dignity at the door of the hospital' - Correct!
  15. The Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep machine is a lifesaver and I would happily kiss the feet of the person that created it.
  16. Google is both your best friend and worst enemy.
  17. You will say it a thousand times over, but they really don't stay babies for long, and time is so fleeting that it's kinda terrifying.
  18. There is no one i'd like to slap the face off more than the person parked in 'parent parking' minus a child.
  19. Wise is the mum who doesn't brag about their baby's fantastic sleeping habits, for it's sure to change that  very night.
  20. ...And watching  your baby sleep will never get old, a year on and i'm still besotted with my little snoozer. The sleepy stretches and rosy cheeks make my heart melt.
  21. There is (sadly)  a lot of snobbery and competition amongst mummies regarding everything from choice of feeding, changing bag, clothes to pram. Which is ridiculous as we're all knee deep in dirty nappies and cleaning spaghetti bolognese off the floor. 
  22. You become the most selfless version of yourself and will happily leave a shop with nothing other than items for your baby. You'll go without washing your hair, often skip a meal and change plans last minute to suit your baby's needs.
  23. The smallest things will give you the biggest sense of joy like watching your little one's reaction to new toys/people/surroundings.
  24. The injections will always be worse for you than your baby. Always.
  25. If you've been blessed with a bad sleeper, it does  and will get better. I promise.. It may take 10 months, lots of tears and gallons of caffeine. But it will get better.
  26. Listen to advice from friends, read the books, blogs and magazines but always go with your gut instinct.
  27. You start doing the things you promised yourself you would never do and previously judged other mums for doing. 'No child of mine will ever have a dummy!' - She's had a dummy from day one. 'My child won't touch sweets until she's at least four' - There's milky buttons stashed in the cupboard, just three years early..
  28. I used to think Sleeping when baby slept was the most ridiculous piece of advice ever offered, but now that I start  work in the evenings, it's my saving grace.
  29. You start to think about the future more, and really want to strive for the very best for your family.
  30. There is no better therapy than having a fellow mummy friend. You can rant about your lack of sleep, your partner's inability to multitask, laugh at your parenting mishaps and complain about your inability to lose baby weight while scoffing cake and tea.
  31. There comes a point you stop apologising for clogging up your Facebook newsfeed with pictures of your little cherub, if people aren't happy to see them- why are they on your 'friends' list to begin with?!
  32. ...And although friendship is a two way street, you naturally begin to weed out the people who haven't been there through the biggest change in your life. 
  33. If you are anything like me your sense of fashion will have taken a back seat to comfort. Anything oversized, fluffy or arse covering, im buying it.
  34. I still can't help but lick the spoon after a dose of calpol... strictly for nostalgia purposes.
  35. Your little one will always gravitate towards the most insignificant things so do yourself a favour and go easy on your Visa card at Christmas.
  36. You will quickly realise there are many different stages of tired.
  37. Overtired, fighting sleep baby is the devil in disguise.
  38. I've called my daughter so many pet names during the last year I doubt she knows which one is her actual name. 
  39. Children's television programmes are most definitely thought up whilst on acid trips. I'm convinced of it.
  40. Invest early in a good stain remover. If it's not sticky Calpol on bed sheets, it's those luminous orange pasta bibs. Our washing machine is on constantly and there will always be something steeping in the sink.
  41. Hearing your baby laugh is undoubtedly the best sound in the world, there is no greater sound.
  42. Watching my daughter grow and learn new things by the week really has made the sleepless nights, fatigue and chaotic house all worth it. (No, really!)
  43. I love a good pregnancy announcement and find myself getting emotional despite not even knowing the person. Damnit, Facebook.
  44. Mummy Guilt. Ugh, mummy guilt. Well that's a whole Blog post on it's own.
  45. Baby dancing is both the cutest and most hilarious thing to witness. 

  46. Returning to work after Maternity leave is never as a bad as you think, in fact it's probably worse for your co-workers who will be subjected to daily baby stories/ thousands of pictures.
  47. You  suddenly appreciate your own parent/s so much more.
  48. Write things down. It's amazing how fast babies change and develop. You'll want to remember their first tooth cutting, first solid food, first steps.. and if you didn't manage to note it down, your social media time lines may help with that!.  I can almost hear my Grandparents  tut at the very thought.
  49. Enjoy the good days, don't be too hard on yourself. Don't be afraid to ask for help. We're all making it up as we go along, aren't we?
  50. Pour a drink, exhale a sigh of relief, you have made it through the first year!


Thursday, 8 October 2015

The Party

I love a good browse on Pinterest. Whether it be for recipes, beauty tips or even quotes i'm always left feeling inspired, which is why it was my first port of call when planning Eva's first Birthday party. Although many of the party ideas are a little too 'far fetched' for my liking (Think glitter toffee apples.. watermelon carved as tortoise.. what the...) there were plenty of ideas that caught my my eye and I was keen to try out.

We decided to go for a Pink and Gold theme to keep it simple and easy to buy for- there is no shortage of pink party decorations in the shops or online! We picked up the majority of the party tableware from Home Bargains which was absolutely amazing for quirky little bits like the stripey straws, polka dot cupcake stand, sparkly wands and 'honeycomb' style paper garlands. It really surprised me how inexpensive these were in comparison to many online party supply shops. It is without a doubt worth having a browse around- Keeping in mind it is one of those shops you nip in to get one thing and come out with everything you don't need! It is amazing.

We didn't set a budget per say, but were keen to keep costs down, the most expensive decoration being the £7.99 pastel pink and Gold  'Happy Birthday' banner from Ginger Ray which I intend to use year after year. Stuart joked that Eva will be sick of the sight of it by her 21st and so be it!, it's beautiful! - well as beautiful as birthday banners come.
I really wanted to add some personal touches around the house and to the table so I ordered Polaroid-style prints of Eva from the very beginning until now. I placed them on to a pin board with mini wooden pegs (which cost next to nothing on Amazon) across a line of string found in the cupboard!. It cost very little and made a really nice touch- Another Pinterest idea! A quick Google search and you'll find lots of sites that will print your photos in an authentic Polaroid style. Years ago I owned a Polaroid camera but buying the film proved extremely costly so I loved the fact  that I can use a service like this for a one off now and again. If you are wondering, I used photobox!.

A few months after Eva was born I ordered this custom made letter frame from a lady I had came across on Instagram who specializes in little crafty pieces- I love stumbling across these kinds of independent sellers on Instagram- they're usually the best finds! I was able to choose the fabric and design and with help from the seller and we came up with this. It's one of my favourite things in Eva's bedroom and thought it would look perfect on the table keeping with the pink theme. I also used a shabby chic inspired photo frame (a Poundland bargain!) and inserted one of the 3d prints we received at our gender scan.

The majority of the party snacks on the table ran with the pink girly theme! Stuart and I definitely have a sweet tooth and had no problem filling our trolley with the tastiest treats Tesco had to offer. So much so, we completely over bought and spent the weekend in a sugar induced coma. In fact it was the first time in our (almost) four years together that we have declined cake. I suppose there's a first time for everything!
We decided to keep the hot food simple. We served up finger food like the obligatory cocktail sausages, mini pizzas, sausage rolls, spring rolls, chicken goujons, tikka bites as well as savoury snacks like crisps and dip!Stuarts mum made trays of sandwiches and my mum made a pavalova for dessert. We stocked the fridge with beer for the boys, Prosecco for the ladies and fruit shoots for the kids.
I ordered a Wilton nozzle to do the icing on our cupcakes and was extremely impressed with the results, It was completely foolproof  and a bargain at the price of £2.32 with free delivery!
Wilton Icing Nozzle If you're anything like me and struggle with decorating your cupcakes you need this in your life.. and there's always sprinkles to cover up botched attempts!
As the ages of the  kids coming to the party ranged from 10 months-15 years we decided sweet cones would be the best route to go down when it came to party favours. That and the fact that as first time parents we were absolutely clueless to say the least when it came down to the contents of Party bags these days- Safe to say we have a lot to learn. Times like these I am starkly reminded that we are such newbies in the parenting world ( Like our first proper family outing were we came home with wet jeans and spent the guts of £15 on two cups of coffee and shop bought sandwiches - We definitely missed the 'Essential Parenting items' memo which specified that we needed a rug, a thermos and a cooler box for such outings...)
 I purchased the sweets in bulk on Amazon (just as easily picked up in pound shops) as well as the cellophane bags, and spent a Saturday afternoon making them up and trying to refrain from eating any- this was surely the hardest part of the entire process.  Ah well! The kids seemed happy enough with their sweet cones and the littlest member of the family went home with some new stacking cups, Peppa Pig buttons and a bag of biscotti biscuits!

Months before Eva's party we had thought about getting a local baker to bake the cake. The only issue being it was £40. Yes £40. Now I am definitely one for supporting local businesses and I understand how much time, not to mention the costs and effort that goes in to baking and decorating a cake, but in the end we just couldn't justify spending that much on a cake. In fact £40 could have just about covered our food shop for the party! We browsed Marks & Spencers, Tescos and Sainsburys and we both agreed on this white chocolate cake. (We probably would have opted for a Peppa Pig cake but Nana and Grandpa had already purchased one for her party on the Friday night) It was beautiful, tasted delicious and I didn't feel the need to force feed everyone to make sure I got my moneys worth! It reminded me of a girl who I once worked with who got a cake specially made with a photo of her daughter's favourite boyband printed on it. Her story always had me in hysterics as she recalled crying when the cake was cut! The poor girl barely got near her cake as her mum stuck it in the freezer to preserve it for as long as possible! 
We were a little paranoid that the older kids would find the afternoon slightly boring- At the beginning we had thoughts of hiring out a room in a leisure/play centre but  we felt Eva would have been limitted to what she could do and we wanted it to be as enjoyable as possible for her. Luckily we have a park across the road which they ran back and forward to. To be honest there really was no chance to be bored once all the cousins were reunited together, kids really can find fun anywhere.

It felt lovely to have a full house with everyone enjoying each others company, eating, drinking and having a laugh. In the end i'm so glad we decided to have it in the house- not to mention the fact the leftover prosecco made the cleaning up after no hassle at all!

Most of all the Birthday Girl went to bed a very happy little lady (Who wouldn't be if they had a brand new slide in their living room!)
So that pretty much concludes the first of  many Birthday related blog posts! If you would like to know where anything is from, please feel free to ask! 


Monday, 5 October 2015

Happy 1st Birthday!

My  little Eva,

Today is your very first Birthday.  Yes, it has been a  whole year since we welcomed you into the world.

Born at 3.46 am, the midwife told me afterwards to try and get some rest, but how could I? I couldn't keep my eyes off you, not for one single second!
I held on to your tiny, wrinkly fingers our first night together and was in absolute awe of you. 
You were instantly forgiven for the heartburn, all the little aches and pains and the constant rib kicking- even in the womb I knew you were going to be one active baby.
I looked at you and couldn't help but smile through the exhaustion and took photos of your every move!  I have the thousands of photos to prove it.
 Even in the weeks that followed, when I was recovering both physically and mentally I was just so happy that you were finally here. 41 weeks had felt like a lifetime to wait- there were times I was adamant that you weren't ever going to arrive!

Your Daddy and I had spent nine months trying to prepare physically and mentally for your arrival. We changed our car, we moved house, we read countless books, websites and sought advice from other people trying to fill our brains with us much information as possible to be the best parents we could be. But it turns out you were pretty easy to keep happy, as long as you had a good supply of milk, cuddles on demand and a lovely big bed to nap on. Yes, I said bed! -You've never been a fan of your moses basket, bouncer or cot for that matter but that is a story for a different day, and one that you will hear on repeat for years upon years, especially if i've had a glass of wine or three.

Daddy went back to work after a fortnight and we were suddenly on our own during the day, just us.

We spent many months trying to figure each other out and establish a routine. You've taught me to be selfless- For a start frequent hair washing went out the window, hello dry shampoo. You've taught me to be patient- your feeds and naps don't run like clockwork. Plans have been cancelled when we haven't slept quite well or you have been cutting a tooth. It has been a massive adjustment but one that is made all worthwhile when you smile, laugh or say something funny and completely out of the blue.

Watching your little personality emerge has been an absolute blessing and you amaze us more with each passing day. We are ridiculously proud of all your little achievements from starting to walk and saying your very first words (even if we hear the word 'Peppa' all day, every day)
 Thank you for the best year of our lives, little one, for bringing so much joy to not only us, but our family and friends. 

Our biggest surprise, our biggest blessing.

Mummy and Daddy xxx

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