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All is not as it seems…

I am not an organised Mummy. I’m generally the one borrowing a nappy after a poomageddon, stuffing a questionably clean muzzie into my daughter’s top as a makeshift bib or spending a small fortune on lunch as yet again I’ve forgotten to pack my son’s lunchbox!

We manage. We do OK. We muddle through. However I’m often self conscious that other mums are looking at me and wondering what on earth is happening, especially when in the midst of all of this my toddler is having a melt down about something crucial like me breaking his biscuit in half (or my favourite to date, that I didn’t pour him a glass of prosecco too)!!

Last week however I was the other parent. I was that calm, collected, together, organised Mummy.

Last week my babies napped at the same time as each other, I tidied my house in the afternoon, I prepared dinner in advance, I made lunch for the following day and I restocked the bag with nappies and other essentials. We were in the park later that day and I overheard another Mum tell her little girl they would need to go home as it was too hot for her to play any longer without cream and a hat, so I offered her spares that were in my buggy and then quickly reassured her this NEVER happens!

I realised in that split second that it isn’t a case of organised and disorganised, it isn’t good and bad, it isn’t right and wrong…it’s just the same as every other aspect of parenting, it’s good days and bad and even those Mums I hold on a pedestal have both too. No matter which one you’re having everything is made better by a knowing smile and a helping hand (or a nappy/bib/*insert other*)  from somebody who understands.

On that note…my awesome Parent Apparel jumper arrived today, I love it! Today’s arrival is appropriate as I’m celebrating the duo napping at the same time again, getting to drink a hot coffee and blog for the first time in months…however on other days it will serve more as an affirmation! 🙂

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7 weeks – Things we love…

We have almost made it through the first two months of life with a baby and a toddler, there have been a few things have been instrumental in maintaining my sanity levels during these past few weeks…

Nipple Shields and bottles – these have been the main reason I’m still able to feed. There is so much advice around that tries to dissuade us from using shields (without them I know I wouldn’t have been able to continue as I would have been upset at my inability to occupy and entertain Ted while I struggled) and from introducing bottles too early but in my experience doing both these things has enabled me to continue feeding Cora. They have meant that from week 2 I have had the chance to get some rest while Daddy takes over a feeding shift or two, leaving me with energy to look after the two little ones all day…all credit to you sole feeders out there, it is such hard work.

Lanolin – the nipple saviour, I need say no more!

Aldi Nappies and Wipes – bargains and never a leak, I can’t recommend them enough and just think about what you can treat yourself to with the savings! I recommend…

Origins Vitazing tinted moisturiser – it’s like a magic wand for my face! That and Laura Mercier Eyebrow Definer eyebrow gel mean I look vaguely human in a couple of minutes and we all know time is of the essence!

Cbeebies – one of my ‘I will never…’ claims I hold my hands up to breaking, Mr Bloom and Bing bunny are my toddler sitters during Cora’s morning feed and I’m not even sorry, sometimes they mean I even get to drink a hot cup of coffee too!

A cosy baby Blanket – once feeding is complete if Cbeebies is still working it’s magic I get Cora all cosy in her lovely soft mokee blanket and sit back for a sofa snuggle with my boy. I love the colours, the peach makes it feminine without it being pink and sickly, something that is often difficult to find for baby girls, it is also lightweight but cosy and is perfect to keep her warm in the car seat too – thank you to Mokee for sending it for Cora.

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Close Caboo – I’m far from a religious sling wearer but I do love the flexibility of choice and some situations are made a lot harder by a buggy, for these times the Close Caboo is perfect, Daddy can join in too!

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Ted hated being in a buggy as soon as he could walk so a double was never going to be a justifiable investment for us however the compact single/scooter/buggy board/sling mix and match seems to be working for us so far!

A biiiig baby bag – I only want to be taking one bag with me so I need it to be big enough to store all the essentials that a mum of two will need…

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I love my Tiba and Marl bag – so much space and a variety of cool designs.

Wellies – regardless of the weather, fresh air and the release of some toddler energy makes everything easier so wellies have been an essential for us both. One day last week we only made it as far as the quiet puddle covered gravel car park at the end of our road but we both got soaked and had lots of fun while Cora slept next to us!

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Coffee/Babychino – if the rain is torrential we have the fall back option of a Babychino date, although an almost two year old that chants Babychino with glee is embarrassingly precocious (and a little bit funny)!

Friends/Playdates – the ultimate sanity saver, friends. It’s great meeting up with those that have their own children so they can all play but equally it’s lovely seeing those without who love to lavish attention on mine and give me the chance to have 1:1 time with either of them or like last week spoil me with the chance to slip away for an indulgent, undisturbed shower and hair wash – now that’s a friend!

Photos – in this sleep deprived haze I have little chance of remembering these times very clearly so I’m loving photos and keepsakes (even more than normal) to jog my memory and to show the children when they’re older. We had a professional at home shoot with Nicola Streader and were so pleased with the natural pictures she captured.

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We have also used Memory Makers to create 3d prints of Cora’s hand and foot, we will be able to collect these in the new year and can’t wait to have them on the wall next to Ted’s.

As Cora’s early days have also coincided with the festive season we visited our local craft centre Poppies and had fun decorating a plate – we will definitely return each year now and build a collection.

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And today we did the obligatory Santa visit complete with real reindeer,  pretty grotto and family shot with the big guy himself. We would highly recommend Stewarts Garden Centre.

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We have a second date with Father Christmas on Christmas Eve, Breakfast with the man himself at Fair Oak Garden Centre.
The garden centres definitely seem to be the places to go for reasonably priced festive fun but booking what seems crazily early is essential, the Christmas Eve sessions sold out within hours of sales opening in September!

Sleep (Inc naptime) – who remembers that? We have been spoilt with a couple of 5 hour stints over the past week and it feels amazing to wake without a headache and stinging eyes, here’s hoping for more! Ted still naps at the moment so most days I get an hour and a half to two hours with just Cora unfortunately for her (and me) this is the time I have to use to run around like a crazy person trying to maintain some sort of order in the house, talking to her and/or bouncing her about as I go!

An awesome husband – credit where it’s due, it wouldn’t be fair to not give my partner in crime, OK less crime or trouble these days and more poo, sleep deprivation and toddler management but my partner none the less and I couldn’t do it without him!

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I’m not sure if things will get easier or just different, either way I think we’re adapting OK and it feels now like our little lady has always been here and we’re enjoying every second.

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Preparing to become a Big Brother

With Peanut’s arrival becoming ever more imminent now I started thinking more seriously about making sure Ted is as prepared as possible for the arrival of his new sibling.

So far we have…

– Been talking about the baby lots.

– Ted has been to all my midwife appointments with me – although generally he’s been trying to stop the lady touching me and then concentrating on eating the snack I’ve distracted him with rather than taking a great interest in what’s happening but as he’s only 19 months I don’t think that’s too much of a concern!

Including bump, in the morning when we snuggle up and slowly come round he now will lift my top up and kiss/blow raspberries on bump, we always use this as an opportunity to talk about the baby and how lovely he is being.

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– A new game called ‘Dinner, Dinner, Baby!’ This started with Ted lifting up both his top and mine and me telling him his tummy was full of dinner and mine full of baby…Daddy has since been added in and it has given us many laughs!

Including Ted in the preparations, letting him help unpack deliveries and talking to him about what everything is for. This has proved entertaining for everyone if nothing else!

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Helping! I am pretty obsessive about moisturising and in the morning as soon as Ted sees the pot of Bump Cream he heads straight on over with demands of “Ted, cream, help!” And then proceeds to rub cream on my bump…and then generally all over himself too!!

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Stories, We have been regularly reading:
There’s a House inside my Mummy for about the past 10 weeks and as well as being a lovely story that we all enjoy the illustrations are simple and easy to relate to our family so I definitely think they’ve helped make a few connections. We have also just added I’m a New Big Brother to our book collection on the recommendation of Emma at Our Fairytale Adventure, this is another lovely book to help understanding and the giggling noise button has given us some giggles of our own too. Ted instantly related to the story and pointed to my tummy during the first time we shared it and has asked to read it many times since.

Preparation, We decided rather than getting Ted a specific present from the baby that I would make a ‘feeding box’ a selection of old and new toys, stories and activities that I’ve put away in a large box that will be from the baby, dragged out at each feed time and packed away after. This will hopefully keep him happy and occupied (alongside a drink and snack) and allow me to feed the baby without an irate toddler protesting or any jealously ensuing! So far we have some building blocks, a few new and a few old favourite books, toy cars, dinosaurs and animals, aqua doodle mini and a dustpan and brush (Ted loves to clean!!). We also plan to let him have some chill out time in front of the TV during one feed and hope he’ll nap during another…all sounds so simple in theory!!

Is there anything else you think we could do to make things easier on the little guy?

The Twinkle Diaries
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Hampshire Days out with a Toddler – Longdown Activity Farm

Today we took our first trip to the farm. There are a few options locally to Southampton but we decided to descend on Longdown Activity Farm with a group of toddler pals!

Ted loves to explore as soon as we arrive anywhere, investigating the areas he can access without delay so it was good that he had a couple of entertainment options while we briefly queued to pay.

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Boo!

And lift the door options are always popular!

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Ted loved the open space as soon as we walked through, it is safe and enclosed so he was able to run about next to me without being restricted by the need for reins or a pushchair at all. That said it is also really pushchair friendly, which will be great once our new addition arrives.

First up…the ducks and a chance to practice one of the first signs Ted learnt over and over with excitement! On arrival we were given a timetable with all the interactive activities on so we planned our route based around these.

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We had arrived a bit before everybody else and were just in time to feed the baby goats. I was really impressed with how Ted responded, the goats pull at the bottle quite a lot while they’re drinking and I wasn’t sure how he’d feel about this but he happily sat on my lap holding the bottle until it was empty before declaring “All Gone” and clambering down!

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We headed straight to the first of many hand washing stations as soon as we’d finished, luckily Ted thinks anything involving water is a play activity so the constant cleaning was greeted favourably!

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Next up were the chicks! Again I was massively impressed with how unphased Ted was. He held the chick without hesitation…and took it very seriously, I do wonder what they were both thinking here (poor  chick!!)

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There were some massive bunnies in the barn that Ted got to touch too before heading for some more handwashing/water play!

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Our friends arrived as we were leaving the chicks and bunnies so we joined them for lunch and a play.

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Ted would happily have spent his whole day sat on the tractors…Mummy’s back wasn’t going to manage pushing him for too long though!!

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One of my favourite parts of the day was watching Ted check for eggs and how proud he was when he found one.

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Ted and his friend Hattie took their eggs to the farm shop (I was very impressed they made the journey without being squeezed or dropped)…

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Where they swapped them for a sticker. Ted loved his sticker but wasn’t too keen at giving up his egg!!

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We then headed off to feed the big goats their lunch, there was also the opportunity to feed the pigs and Ducks but we missed them this time while having our own lunch!

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At 1pm there was the chance to take tractor rides around the farm…what little boy wouldn’t be excited by that prospect? Ted couldn’t wait to get on.

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The cows were a good distraction while we waited for our turn, I’m not sure who was most interested in the other!

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The “bumpy bumpy” tractor ride was a massive hit and Ted would have gone round and round for hours on the back, by the end he was getting very confident/showing off (!) and wanted to stand…he’s so his father’s son!!

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After all that fun it was time for some tea and cake!

We had a fab day out and will definitely be investing in a season ticket next year, a lot of activities are in barns (including trampolines and soft play) so even in wet weather it will be somewhere to come in a splash suit and then take cover – a much better option than a stuffy indoor soft play area in my opinion.

Longdown opens from February half term through to October half term each year but does offer a Christmas Grotto with a few animals and the chance to see Santa too.

Entry was £9 for adults and free for Under 3’s.

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31 Week Update – signs I really am having a(nother) baby!

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I think I’ve been slightly in denial but this week and the arrival into the 30’s has been a reality check…it has dawned on me that I really am having another baby and pretty soon!

Aside from the obvious bump, the fact I’m now being forcefully kicked a quite frankly unreasonable amount of the time and that flopping down on the sofa in the evening doesn’t include a glass of wine currently the big eye openers for me this week were…

– The pram top arrived for the new buggy…

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– The birthing pool being delivered and sitting in the corner of the room staring at me…

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– Hypnotherapy classes beginning and starting my own lunchtime relaxation time. I will do full post on these in the near future.

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– Essential DIY work has been completed – out with the horrible old carpet…

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And in with the lovely new laminate! Much more practical for a house that is going to have even more food and bodily fluids flying around it in a few weeks!

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Sickness, aahhh just like their big brother was this little one is cramped and refuses to share space with my meals, so is kicking them straight back out again. It’s exhausting.

– Nesting has commenced…Lots of organising, cleaning and purchasing of very boring things like new mops, brushes and dustpans – what’s happened to me?!

Oh that’s right…I really am having a(nother) baby!

On a more positive note, things I’ve loved this week:

Naps – any excuse to crawl back into bed when Ted does is taken!

My little helper – everybody needs a personal moisturiser!!

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Feeling organised – although I’m hoping this little one isn’t planning on springing a surprise early arrival on us I’m organised enough (or almost) that we’d be OK!

Pregnant Friends – I have a handful of friends with due dates four weeks either side of mine and it’s great having people to share the highs and lows with who are in the same position/ level of discomfort!

See you at 33 Weeks.

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Travelling with a toddler #8 – Traditions and Memories

I remember attending a training course a number of years ago where we were all asked to share a memory from our childhood…nobody shared anything expensive or materialistic, everyone had a memory that involved time, attention and the majority some sort of tradition.

This has impacted massively on my parenting and although I’ve always known experiences over objects were important, from that day I knew I wanted to make sure when I had a family that we would create some traditions that we’d all look forward to repeating over and over.

Now I have my own little family that is due to expand again in a few weeks (eekk, that’s scary!) and Ted is at an age where he is starting to understand and get excited about things so we thought it was time to start. Lots will just find us naturally I’m sure, some will follow on from experiences Rich and I had as children and others we’ll create ourselves but all will be about minimal money and maximum quality time and attention.

Our first family tradition happened while we were away in Cornwall this August…

Fish and Chips on the Beach!

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It was a definite hit!

Ted was not remotely phased by the amount of sand he injested along with his chips…in fact I think he saw the deep clean of his teeth as an added bonus!!

We had an hour and a half of quality time, digging, paddling, finding stones, watching the sky change colour and eating chips plus staying up late…and it was awesome!

Now to get thinking about our next tradition – do you have any you’d like to share?

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Hampshire days out with a toddler – Sea City Museum

Yesterday, Ted and I spent the afternoon at The Seacity Museum in Southampton for their Dino Fest Toddler session.

It was brilliant.

The session ran from 1-2pm and was aimed at children from 18 months – 4 years. It only cost £3.50, a lot less than any of the other sessions we’ve attended.

Ted was probably the youngest there and I was a little worried how he’d cope with the structure initially but he did really well.

A lovely, bubbly lady called Jo ran the session, she was welcoming and enthusiastic with all the children and addressed them all by their names (aided by the stickers given on entry!) There were dinosaur toys and puppets on the carpet which Ted was excited by straightaway and kept him occupied until the story started, this was a short dinosaur picture book that kept all the children’s attention well and Ted happily sat on my lap for the duration.

After the story it was time to explore downstairs – Ted LOVED it! This was a smaller version of the exhibition we visited at the Eden Project a few weeks ago so he wasn’t daunted by the size, movement or volume of the dinosaurs and found the darkened room exciting, repeatedly telling me how dark it was, pointing out the dinosaurs and roaring.

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The sand pit was a massive hit too, even though he was a bit little and struggled to reach he persevered and really enjoyed using the brushes to dust off the fossils.

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There were also drawers with more fossils in that he enjoyed opening and closing!!

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And the interactive displays about texture and sound were really impressive too.

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It was great to see him joining in confidently among all the older children and giving everything a go.

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We had about 15 minutes to explore before heading back upstairs, we could have spent a lot longer there and I think we’ll definitely return with Daddy before Dino Fest ends.

Back upstairs in the learning zone it was time to get creative and although Ted didn’t really have the concentration for the full activity we were easily able to adapt it so that he had fun…

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And as always, he made lots of mess!

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The end result was this delightful dinosaur who was in his hand proudly for the rest of the day.

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Ted went home with not only this but with two rather impressive stickers…things don’t get much better in toddler world!

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We had a fantastic afternoon and will definitely be attending more of their toddler sessions in the future.