Friday, 18 July 2014

A wonderful weekend in Bristol

Last weekend we managed to fit a lot in. We visited one of our favourite people, caught up with a lot of Jamie's family and got to celebrate with Vicky and Graham on their wedding day.

Unfortunately my camera is playing up and my phone ran out of battery half way through the wedding so I haven't got many photos but I can work with what I've got.

We drove down Thursday night after putting Fred to 'bed' in his car seat. Our plan was fool proof, Fred would sleep all the way and then seamlessly transfer in to a ready travel cot when we arrived. Unfortunately he woke up when we got there. That night he woke up a few times and couldn't cope at 5am when it was unexpectedly light. (he has a black out blind in his bedroom) from 5am he spent the next 3 hours in our bed. 

I got pushed out, but I didn't mind. 
He is cute enough to make up for it.

On Friday Fran took us on a whistle stop tour of Bristol. 
I wanted a selfie on the Clifton suspension bridge, it took a few takes.

We enjoyed lunch outside in the sunshine. I particularly enjoyed listening to the conversation of the impossibly posh couple on the next table. Bristol is VERY good for people watching.

Saturday was the day of the wedding.
Vicky (Jamie's sister) wore a beautiful pe-loved gown and her Grandmothers pearls. She looked stunning, and Graham knew it. Neither of them stopped grinning all day.

The wedding was at Goldney Orangery, the gardens surrounding are beautiful.

 Fred enjoyed exploring and playing with his Dad and Grandpa on the grass most of the afternoon.

I was kindly lent my dress by one of Fran's housemates. 
It was lovely to feel so glamorous for the day. The only draw back of the dress was that I had to take it off to feed Fred. It was a nightmare!

Fran lives in a massive 5 storey house with over 20 others including two families. They eat together most evenings and are committed to living in unity as a Christian community. It was wonderful to stay with people who are purposfully putting others before themselves and trying to serve each other everyday. I think it would be great to live there as a single person but I really don't know how the couples and families manage, they must be blessed with a lot of patience!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Fred - 8 and 9 month update

It has been two months since I last blogged. I can't believe it has been that long!
Fred has grown up so much, he is now non-stop.
He talks (babbles) constantly and all he wants to do is walk, unfortunately he cannot walk on his own yet.

It is back breaking wandering around with him hanging on to my hands. I am doing everything I can to teach him to crawl, he is nearly there though. I have been using a bubbles container as motivation.

Fred now weighs 21lb and has officially moved up a whole percentile since starting solids. His eating has now been further helped by the introduction of his two front teeth.

 Weaning is going really well,  he now helps himself to his dinner out of a bowl.
Some of his current favourite foods are; sweetcorn frittas, crumpets, bananas, pears, eggy bread and chicken tagine.

 We have done so much in the last couple of months.
We have had 2 visits from Grandparents and one of his Great Aunties.
We have started to go on more summer days out. We have been to the zoo, gone to longer walks and to the beach. Fred loves being out side, thankfully we have had so much good weather that he gets to play in the garden or go on the swings in our local park most days.

He really enjoys being in the garden exploring. He strokes leaves, pulls the heads off dandelions and regularly tries to eat mud.

Sleeping, over the past two months, has been very up and down. For a while he was reliably waking once a night for a quick feed - then teething happened in earnest. We had a couple of nights where he woke up 4 times.
 He seems to have settled back in to a good sleeping pattern now.
 Thank goodness.

Some of his current favourite things are; cleaning his teeth, having his legs massaged after his bath, reading books, bubbles, bouncy and rattling balls and of course practicing his pout, but it still isn't quite as good as his dad's.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Monkee Genes; A Review

I have wanted a pair jeans from of Monkee Genes for a couple of years - ever since I discovered that such a company existed- but I assumed I would not be able to afford them. 

Monkee Genes makes organic, fairly traded unisex jeans and trousers. 
The Monkee Genes slogan and promise is: 

This is exactly what I am looking for when buying fairly traded clothes. A company that cares about every part of the manufacturing process and can honestly say that every person involved in making their clothes is paid a fair wage. Something else I look for is good quality, good looking and comfortable clothes (also ideally not too hippyish). Monkee Genes fit the bill.

My photos don't quite do them justice (my photographer could do with going on a course - or he could buy me a tripod!)

My new jeans are purple, made of bamboo and fit really nicely. The bamboo gives them a nice stretch and a relaxed fit, they stay in shape all day.

Monkee Genes have a big choice of fit and colours. 
Prices range from £50 -£70 which is a reasonable for good quality jeans.

 My pair were a freaking steal! I shopped the sale- naturally. 
I paid £15 and £5 postage. 
I would buy another pair in another colour but I think I should probably wait until Autumn as I don't wear jeans that much over summer.
I got really confused about the sizing because the size is in man sizes, but there is an easy conversion chart on the website, I followed its advice and they fit great.

The only thing I'm not too keen on is the length of the front pockets. I think it's because they are unisex, my phone and change get lost half way down my leg. In the grand scheme of things this is just a niggle.

T-shirt- Wombat, Jeans- Monkee Genes, Pumps- Newlook

I hope that next time you want to buy a pair of jeans you will look at the Monkee Genes website and see if you can find a pair you like. If you are going to spend the money on jeans anyway, why not try Monkee Genes.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Fred 7 month update

This month my little baby has turned in to a tiny boy. 
I am stupidly sentimental about the little baby we were blessed with 7 months ago but I am also really excited about all of the new things he is learning daily.

Fred is now continually inquisitive. He wants to explore everything, it is amazing to watch him discover his world.

Fred now weighs 19 lbs, he has put on an impressive 2 pounds in a month!
He has suddenly got a little belly and deliciously squidgy thighs. 

We have been having so much fun with food recently, some meals Fred doesn't eat much, more food ends up on the floor then in his mouth.
One of the baby led weaning mantras is 'food before one is just for fun' I try not to worry about how much solid food he is eating but some days I put humous on everything just to make sure he eats some. 
As you can see from the pic below, food is most definitely fun.

This month we have had a few 'firsts'...
Fred's first Easter and subsequent Easter egg hunt 
(we had our exploring hats on).

Fred's First Wedding, Which was also the first time he has been properly embarrassed by Mummy.
Yes we took his highchair but forgot his bib, that's just how we roll.

Fred continues to Dance and has mastered clapping. In the last few weeks he has found his voice. He screams and yodels really loudly just to experiment with his voice. It is fun but sometimes I worry what the neighbours may think. 

Sleeping is still only OK, we are working on making it better though.

Fred loves being followed, every time we go upstairs one of us holds him while the other follows. It gives him so much joy. 
He also now gives us proper hugs and has started kind-of kissing me. 

An unexpected and welcome bonus of Fred dancing is that Jamie now plays his guitar more often.

We are really blessed to have a generally happy boy who is easily entertained.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

First night out - What I Wore

Last Friday I got to go to my Friend Abbie's 30 birthday bash. I couldn't go to all of it because they went for a meal starting at 6.30pm and I had to be home to feed Fred before bed.
I did manage to have time to straighten my hair, put on some make up, choose my outfit and paint my nails. It was luxurious!

It was lovely to get out to see people I haven't seen for a while and do something completely unrelated to Fred. But of course everyone just wanted to talk about him. Its funny people often complain that mums only talk about their children and are very boring, but most people bought the conversation around to him!

Oh well it was still enjoyable, and I got to have a REAL cocktail!

My challenge to myself this year is to only buy fairly traded or second hand clothes. 
This skirt is from People Tree, it was in the sale before Christmas.
There are so many good things about the skirt.
 I love where it sits on my waist, that I can manage to fit a cardigan underneath it, that it is the perfect length for picnics, it has lovely deep pockets, and it doesn't need ironing!

We don't have a huge amount of money to spend on clothes, so both Jamie and I try to buy things that we will keep and wear for years to come. 
I don't follow fashion too closely, I just wear clothes that are comfortable and make me feel pretty. 

The cardigan pictured I have had for 7 years (I know that is probably taking it a bit too far) I have had to mend hole in it and re-dye it. Finding the perfect black cardigan is so difficult that I gave up and mended the one I had. 
It has seen better days.

Fairly traded clothes can be expensive, for the obvious reason - everyone in the supply chain is being paid a fair wage. To make my money stretch further I often take advantage of the end of or mid season sales. I have just ordered some Jeans from Monkee Genes that I found in their sale section, they were a steal at £15!

These photos have made me realise I need some new pumps, they are a state.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Fred 6 months update

So Fred us now 6 months old! 
He is fun now, he giggles and dances, and is learning to clap. 
(he hasn't quite got it yet, but he is trying)
We got Fred some sunglasses, he loves them!

I went and got Fred weighed last week, he is 17lb.
His current favourite foods are crumpets, asparagus, mango, and apple.

In the last couple of weeks he has grown his two lower front teeth, which has completely knocked his sleep off kilter. He still has two naps, one longer 2 hour nap in the morning and a half hour nap in the afternoon. He is generally asleep by half 7 but has been waking up 3 or 4 times before he gets up between 6.30 and 7.30 am. Its tiring but it isn't half as bad as it was!

This month as well as learning to dance and clap (sort of) Fred has learnt to sit up, grab his feet and pull his socks off. He is happier now that he can sit up and look around.

Swimming lessons are going so much better now,
 He even swam under water last week!

 My parents came to visit last weekend, it was so nice to have extra help. We took Fred in his first boat trip, and we all went swimming. 

This month we made up a new game called baby fishing.

Thankfully we haven't had any illness this month. 
Lets hope it continues!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Ordinary moments:- Getting to grips with food

For a couple of weeks now we have let Fred play with some of our food. He isn't yet 6months but he was almost snatching the food from out plates so we decided that he was ready to have a go at eating. 

We are doing baby led weaning, this means Fred feeds himself chunks of food and we don't use purees. It is comforting to know that because Fred is in control of what and how much he eats, he wouldn't be eating unless he was ready.
He is definitely eating! We have even found some food his nappy. So far his favourite foods are cucumber, crumpets, apple, tomato and porridge. He is not such a fan of broccoli and cauliflower, he pulls some great faces as he gets to experience we tastes and textures.
Although fun, food is very messy! This morning he managed to get weetabix inside of his coverall bib, as well as all over his face, high chair and floor.


I have linked up with Ordinary Moments over at Mummy daddy me again this week.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Baby Fred at 5 months

Our cheeky little monkey is growing fast! I can't quite believe he is 5 months old already.

The last month has been a bit of a blur - thanks to the lack of sleep. 
Since sleeping more Fred now giggles a lot more and his balance has improved considerably! It may just be a coincidence but I think it's related.

Fred now sleeps loads better. He generally has two naps a day one much longer than the other. Over night for 4 of the last 7 nights he has gone to bed just after 7, woken once for food and slept until the morning. It is amazing! I feel like a whole new person. Although now that some of the fog of tiredness has lifted I am noticing how much I HATE my hair. (something I am going to be sorting out today!)

Currently Fred's favourite toy is Terry the Triceratops. Terry is bright, jingly, crackly, squeaky and even has a chewy ring. 

Last week we started swimming lessons. He hated it. He sucked my shoulder the whole time. I have been told we will like it better this week. We shall see!

He is nearly rolling over, but he would prefer to be able to sit himself up. He spends most of the time that he is on his back doing a baby version of crunches.

We have started letting Fred play with food, currently he just gums bits of cucumber and sucks out the juice, he is really enjoying it though. As we are going to do baby led weaning I feel it is OK to let him explore food now so that he will start eating when he is ready. 

I'm afraid that once again I have no idea how much he weighs, just more. He has nearly grown out of his 3- 6 month sleep suits. 

I am hoping that this month his sleeping continues to improve, we avoid illness and he learns to like swimming.

Friday, 7 March 2014

AWOL - Struggling

 Sorry I have been missing from this blog for a couple of weeks. We have been having a difficult time and suffering from a severe of sleep. We are now doing a lot better, but it is always hard to find my blogging mojo again after a couple of weeks off. I have many blog posts planned - I am nearly a week late with Fred's 5 month update! 

As I said we are now doing loads better. We have even managed to catch up on some sleep! I wrote the following post at the height of my sleep deprivation. I think it is important for me to publish it as it is part of my story and it is only right that I blog about some of the hard things of motherhood as well as the good things.


So this is what sleep deprivation looks like. 

What it feels like is drowning in tiredness, exhaustion and emotion.

For 5 nights now Fred has been waking too many times for me to cope. He has never been a great sleeper. I have become used to a mild amount of sleep deprivation and a manageable amount of tiredness.

 Waking 4 times a night now seems a luxury compared to this week. Last night has so far been the worst nights sleep since Fred was born. He slept for less than an hour at a time. A few times his slept for less than 10 minutes before he needed settling again. It is soul destroying.

I honestly feel that if I don't get more sleep soon my body will stop working. How can an exhausted body feed a ravenous baby? 
How can an exhausted body rock him to sleep yet one more time? 
How can an emotionally drained Mum love him as much as he deserves?
How can an exhausted Dad help over night and still manage to go to work?
How can you help a baby to learn how to sleep when you aren't even sure you remember how?
How many times do I have to say if he slept life would be perfect for it to happen? 
How many times can I be expected to pray for sleep before giving up?
How can we make this better?

Friday, 21 February 2014

Top Ten Tips for shopping at Charity shops

My challenge to myself this year is to only buy second hand or fair trade clothes. This is already difficult as all of my clothes are too big! My bum has disappeared so even my smallest pair of jeans are baggy. I never used to like my big bum but now it has gone I miss it!  So I need some more jeans and trousers. Unfortunately I have only bought one successful pair of jeans from a charity shop but I have bought many tops, cardigans and dresses that are now well incorporated in to my wardrobe.

For our day out at the Harry Potter studio tour I wore two of my favourite charity shop finds.

My red jeans I bought from a charity shop in Manchester for £5.99. I was pregnant so it was a bit of a gamble as to whether they would fit me or not. The gamble paid off I LOVE them. They are one of the two pairs of trousers that still look OK on my small butt. My top is my most recent charity shop buy. My friend Jen found it and made me try it on. I wasn't convinced when I saw it on the hanger but it really suits me, it is good for breast feeding and makes me feel a little fancy. It cost £4.99.

I have been shopping in Charity shops for clothes for 8 years now so I have gathered some top tips:

1. Go with an open mind - Every time I shop knowing I need a certain item I come home disappointed, but if I go just to see what I can find I find some lovely things.

2. Try before you buy - too many times I have decided that an item of clothing will fit me without trying it on. Second hand clothes may have been stretched or misshapen and you wont necessarily notice unless you try them on.

3. Set yourself a budget - Just because your spending money in a charity shop doesn't mean you are saving money. I have spent too much before and didn't notice because I was only spending a few pounds in my favourite charity shop every couple of days.

4. Take Cash - Most Charity shops now take cards but it is easier to keep an eye on what you are spending when you use cash.

5. Only buy things you love - It is not worth even a pound if you aren't going to love and wear it regularly.

6. Take a friend - It is good to have a level headed friend who knows your style and size as he / she may spot something that you wouldn't have noticed and they can keep you under control if you get the urge to splurge.

7. Make a day of it - If you have time it is worth taking an afternoon or a day every now and then to properly explore all of the charity shops in your town. 

8. Make friends with the volunteers in your favourite charity shop - Since having Fred it has been so much easier to start conversations with some of the older ladies in one of my favourite charity shops. They are happy to keep an eye on Fred for me while I try things on and they will give me their opinion if I don't have friend with me.

9. If you have the chance it is always worth travelling to a posh town or village and finding their charity shops. They often have better quality, less worn clothes.

10. Donate your own clothes - if people don't keep donating good quality clothes charity shops will not have good things for you to find. I like to think I have some friends that I have never met who are my size and share my style. We are effectively swapping clothes whilst donating money to charity. 

Monday, 17 February 2014

Ordinary Moments; Playing With Daddy

One of the best things about being a mum is getting to watch Jamie being a dad. 

Fred adores him. Jamie gets more smiles and giggles then everyone else. 
Hearing and watching the fun they have together makes all of the sleepless nights worth it. 
I also know it is going to get more fun. I can hardly wait!

I am linking up with Katie at MummyDaddyMe again this week.
 Don't forget to have a look at the other lovely posts.


Friday, 14 February 2014

Easy and cheap three bean chilli recipe

As promised this is my recipe for three bean chili.
It makes roughly 6 portions of chili.
You will need:

Three tins of various beans
Two tins of chopped tomatoes
Two chillies
Two cloves of garlic
Two onions
Two peppers
Two carrots
A corgette
Table spoon of tomato puree
Table spoon of sugar
Table spoon of Worcester sauce
A chicken or vegetable stock cube (depending on whether your vegetarian or not)
And any other veg you fancy throwing in. Sometimes I use leek instead as onion, I would put mushrooms in but Jamie doesn't like them. You could also add a splash of red wine.

Start by cooking you're chopped onions, garlic and chilli in a little oil until soft. Add the drained beans, the tinned tomatoes and chopped carrot, stir and bring to the boil. Add all of your other veg, the sugar, worcester sauce, tomato puree stir and then put a lid of your frying pan, turn the hob down and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes or until the carrot is soft. Season to taste. Boil your rice or cook some jacket potatoes and its ready. :)

I have worked out that it costs about 80 pence per portion. A very cheap and yummy meal!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Save money on Valentines day

 If like me you are taking part in the Great British Budget challenge this February, you probably haven't got much spare cash to be spending this valentines day. Here are a few ways I have come up with to help you celebrate valentines day on a budget:

✳Buy flowers that aren't red roses. Roses are expensive at the best of times, but during the valentines period the price sky rockets! Other flowers are just as nice and are a lot cheaper. (Just don't buy carnations)

✳Stay in and cook. Pull out all the stops and make something challenging. Your other half is bound to be impressed.

✳If you can't cook, go out for lunch or dinner next week. Restaurants are ultra busy over valentines weekend, miss the crowds by celebrating a week later.

✳Make something. A special photo album of you time together will always go down well.

I may now come across as a bit of a Scrooge, but if you are really serious about saving money this Valentines day. 
Don't celebrate it.
There I said it.

If you love someone and want to show them you care why wait for Valentines day? Buy them flowers and go on lovely (inexpensive) dates all through the year.

If you are a fan of Valentines day then please ignore the above suggestion. The essence of Valentines day is to spend time with the person you love. It doesn't have to be big or fancy. Put some thought and time in to it and I'm sure your significant other will appreciate it.

Friday, 7 February 2014

How to save money on your weekly shop

Currently we spend under £40 per week on our food shop. £40 comfortably feeds two pretty hungry adults. 
One is breastfeeding the other just eats a lot!

Spending this little takes some planning, a little compromise and a willingness to cook.
Below is an average weeks shopping list.

I plan our evening meals in advance but I am open to change if I spot a really good offer. I never buy portions of chicken, I always buy a whole one and portion it up myself, this way I can make 4 meals for two from one £4.99 free range chicken. I don't enjoy cutting up the chicken but it is worth it. To buy an equivalent amount of breast meat would cost nearly the same price as the whole chicken.

At least two of our evening meals a week are meat free. I learnt how to make 3 bean chili from scratch and veggie curry. Jamie is not really a fan of vegetarian meals but he loves curry and chili so the vegetarian versions are bearable.

For breakfast we eat porridge, because we like it. But it also happens to be much cheaper than cereal- it is also lower in sugar and salt. Win win.

We shop primarily in Aldi, partly because I can walk there. Saving a tiny bit more money on petrol. It is a good super market but only if you are willing to be flexible as they don't always have everything in- this week they had run out of free range chickens so I bought a pack of bacon and a pack of mince instead. Since changing our main super market shop to Aldi it has been much easier to stick to our £40 budget.

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing with you my recipe for 3 bean chili and some ways to make the most of a whole chicken.

Lisa from the blog TheLifeOfWife suggests having two simple meals a week such as beans on toast.

What tricks do you have for reducing your food bill?

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Baby Fred - 4 Month Update

Fred is now changing every day, he comes out with new noises and experiments with a new expression or two every day. He has just learnt to squeal. It took 3 days if experimenting and practicing, but he now has it down.

He is a strong baby, he is determined to stand as much as possible. 
Once he grabs a finger he has to be persuaded to let go. He enjoys practicing sitting up, but he hasn't got the control to hold himself up yet.

I got Fred weighed last week and he is a pudgy 16lbs 4oz. He has nearly doubled his birth weight!

This month Fred's sleep has been terrible, he has been waking up almost every 2.5 hours and it is not unusual for him to be awake for over an hour in the very early morning. It has been exhausting. I'm praying that it is over. Last night he slept for a solid 6 hours- the first time he has done this in 4 weeks.

We at still very much fans of our cloth nappies. We are taking a break from them at the moment though because we can't keep up with the sheer amount of washing being generated by Fred's illness. We thought at first he had a tummy bug, this theory was confirmed by the doctor but ten days later we are still going through a ridiculous amount if nappies! (We going back to the doctor tomorrow) 

This month we have all been ill. Jamie and I have been hit by bad colds thankfully we are now recovering. It will be such a relief to be well again. Looking after a baby while ill is hard. - There has been some crying.

 Despite being ill Fred is generally laid back and happy. Though I'm concerned he has developed a taste for calpol. 

I hope our 5 month update is happier with less illness and more sleep. If you pray we would appreciate your prayers!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Ordinary Moments; Teething

This week as well as having to deal with a bad belly (read - soooo many dirty nappies!) Fred's teething has been turned up a notch. 

Dribbling, gnawing on anything that will fit in his mouth, sucking his fingers- when he remembers that he has them, and some grumpiness.

We have many teething toys, but many are currently a little too big for Fred's mouth or a bit unwieldy. Most of the time he doesn't manage to get them to his mouth without help.  I bought the teether above on a whim from the central isle in Aldi and it is a hit! It is small enough to fit in his mouth and light enough for him to control it.

It is strange that these small things mean so much to me now. It is because they mean so much to me that I now realise how much my life has changed. Of course life has physically changed; we don't go out for dinner anymore, sleep is at Fred's mercy, I spend my days with him and don't go to work. But the biggest change is internal; my motivations and passions are different.

I now get excited about teething toys.
The old me is rolling her eyes. ;)

My life has changed a lot and I love it (most of the time).