Monday 28 March 2016

The Siblings Project - March

 I can't believe it's taken me this long to join in with The Siblings Project. It's a great way of documenting the relationship between my girls every month including all the ups and downs.

Eva was 3 in January and Ophelia turned 4 months old last week. When Ophelia was first born, Eva really wasn't keen. She was completely disinterested and didn't want to interact with her at all. 4 months on and their relationship couldn't be any more different.

Eva is still very much Miss Independent but every now and again she tries to interact with her sister. She's very caring towards her now. If she is ever crying she is the first one to comfort her, telling her that everything is going to be ok. She will then come and tell me that Ophelia needs my milk. She loves to change her nappies and likes to pick out outfits for her to wear. She does shout at her a lot too though. If she is pulling her hair, she gets very annoyed and if she cries or makes noises in the car when one of her favourite songs is on such as 'let it go', she goes nuts. 

Ophelia is besotted with her sister. She watches her every move and giggles at everything she does. You can see that she idolises her. 

In this last month i've really seen their relationship change. They are both finally interested in each other and always looking for attention from each other. It's such a lovely thing to see.

They've had a pretty exciting month together. The first half of the month we were still in Australia. They had plenty of trips to the beach, a trip to Sydney and a mini holiday to Surfer's Paradise. The supergirl picture was taken at Movie World theme park. I love it. It's one of my favourite pictures of them.

It was Mother's Day this month and I honestly had the most amazing day as my first as a mum of 2. The girls laughed and smiled all day which made me feel so grateful. I am loving watching their bond develop. I look forward to updating you on their relationship next month.
The Me and Mine Project

Funky Giraffe Bibs - Review and Giveaway

We were recently given the opportunity to review some bibs from Funky Giraffe. We were given a voucher and allowed to choose what we wanted from their range. I breastfeed Ophelia so we haven't used many bibs but this couldn't have come at a better time as Ophelia has cut her first teeth so she is dribbling all the time. So much so that we need to use a bib to keep her clothes dry.

One of the first things I noticed on their website was their huge range. There really is something to suit all different tastes. They make the bandana style and also the traditional square shape. They also have cotton, satin and bamboo material. Another nice unique touch is their personalised range.

There are lots of different designs on the website. I picked all girly ones. We were having a holiday in Australia so one of the prints I chose was this adorable Koala print. All of the bibs were £4 (except the personalised one) but the more you buy the cheaper they become.

I wanted to have a personalised one too as I love anything with the girls' names on. When personalising you could add a picture and text. You could change the font, size and colour. I found creating the personalised one very easy to do.

Delivery to the UK is free when you spend £7 which I think is amazing. They also deliver around the world and their worldwide shipping is very reasonably priced. They have a dedicated site for USA and Australian customers. This was really handy to know as lots of people were asking where I'd bought Ophelia's bibs from whilst we were in Australia, so it was great to be able to point them in the right direction.

The bibs arrived quickly which I wasn't expecting. I thought it would take a while as one was personalised. I was instantly surprised at how nice they were. The pictures on their website don't do them justice. The prints were vibrant and the fabric was so soft. Both hubby and I thought the quality was fantastic. So much better than anything you can buy on the high street.

The shape and size of the bibs is just right and there are 2 poppers on the back to adjust the size as your baby grows.

Overall, we are really happy with the bibs. They've been so helpful with Ophelia's teething. I love the fact that they have a soft material all around and not the plastic underneath. This has been a lifesaver with Ophelia's neck. Normally the dribbling and other bibs have been causing her to get a very sore neck but these one's don't rub at all. They look very stylish and fit her well. They also wash well too.

Now for the good bit. We are lucky enough to be able to offer you giveaway to win 7 bibs of your choice. How good is that?! All you have to do is enter using the rafflecopter link below. UK only please. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday 25 March 2016

Ophelia's Easter Basket

One tradition I started when Eva was born was making an easter basket every year. As much as I know easter is all about chocolate, we always like to give something else too. Another tradition within this tradition is that we always use the same basket. The basket was used at our wedding which the bridesmaids carried confetti in. I love the fact that we can use them every year. Luckily for us we have 2 baskets. 

This year will be baby Ophelia's first easter. She's 4 months old now so here's what I have bought for her basket.

I've had my eye on this super cute hooded bunny jumper from The White Company for a while and easter was clearly the perfect time to get it. I adore The White Company. In fact Ophelia's entire room is decorated with things from there.

This adorable small teddy is from Jellycat. If you squeeze him he makes a 'baaa' sound. We love Jellycat soft toys in our house. They really are super soft and if you don't have any in your home, I urge you to get one. They are the best teddies to snuggle up to.

I don't think there's a character more suited for Easter than Mr Peter Rabbit himself. I bought this Buggy Book from John Lewis. It's an ideal size for Ophelia and very useful as it clips on to a buggy, car seat or bouncer.

This Dress is also from John Lewis. I love the print and I thought it was quite easter themed but it can be worn whenever. it's really good value for money. I actually bought Ophelia 3 dresses from there on the same day as their current collection is stunning. I could have bought so much more too. Look out for an upcoming wishlist post.

Finally, I bought this book. Even though we have mountains of books in the house, I think it's important for Ophelia to have her own collection. I thought Spot's First Easter Book was ideal seeing as it's Ophelia's first easter. It's also a lift the flap book which I love. 

So that's her easter basket for this year. Do you do easter baskets? Have you got any easter traditions?


Friday 18 March 2016

Sun, Sea, Sand and Breastfeeding

As you may know, we have been in Australia for the first few months of Ophelia's life. This has meant many trips to the beach. As a breastfeeding mum this can be a bit of a task in more ways than one, from things such as dealing with exposure to tackling the extreme heat. 

Here are my tips for breastfeeding on the beach:

1) Make a den
When it comes to breastfeeding I do it anywhere and everywhere in public but I always cover up. I found I felt very exposed on the beach so I set up a little hideaway retreat in the form of a pop up tent. This was my safe place when the beach was too busy. It was big enough for me to sit in, shaded and relatively cool. In my retreat I was able to feed with a top off or just a bikini top on without covering up.
If you have the space and spare hands take some small pillows with you to make the tent more comfy. However, with 2 small children we had enough to pack so I used bags to lean against and folded up  towels for comfort.

2) Wear a Kaftan or Sarong
These items can prove invaluable for feeding whilst sat on the beach. I would whip my kaftan off and use it to cover up whenever I was feeding outside of the tent. It was a fantastic alternative to a blanket as it was thin and wouldn't make Ophelia to hot.

3) Have an endless supply of water available
Water is so important whilst breastfeeding but even more so when you're feeding in temperatures that us as Brits are not normally used to. It's so easy to become dehydrated and over heated. I consistently drank water the whole time we were there.

4) Take a fan or water spray
A device that has proven to be one of my favourite things is our water spray bottle which has a fan attached to it. Holding a baby against your chest makes it easy to get too hot whilst feeding at the best of times, let alone whilst battling with the heat at the beach. Both baby and yourself can get too hot and sticky.
I would spray it occasionally whilst feeding to cool us down as it would create a cold, mist effect. Eva also helped in that department which was great as she found it like a game. Nothing entertained her more than to think she was squirting mummy and her sister with water.

5) Brush the sand away
This may seem very obvious but I thought i'd mention it regardless. Give yourself a dusting off before you feed. Sand gets everywhere. One of its favourite hiding places is cleavage. It sticks to that area like glue. Before feeding brush yourself off so that your baby won't get any its mouth or eyes.

6) Get an umbrella
If you're lying or sitting on a beach towel or bed then make sure you're under an umbrella. This will protect you both from the sun and also help keep you covered up.

7) Check local customs
It obviously hasn't been a problem feeding in Australia on the beach but do double check local customs. In places like Dubai they like you to cover up your body etc so do keep that in mind.

I hope this will help you on your travels. Have you got any other tips or tricks to add to this?

Thursday 17 March 2016

Taronga Zoo Sydney

I don't know about you but when I was younger one of my favourite places to visit would be a zoo. I don't know whether it was an age thing or the way some zoo's have turned out but for me they started to lose their charm. Perhaps it was the idea of seeing animals in small enclosures that started to put me off. Then I had Eva and I started to visit them again. We've frequented lots of zoo's since she's been born but nothing has compared to the one we got to visit on Mother's Day of this year. The excitement was reignited in me and I have Taronga Zoo in Sydney to thank for that.

Taronga Zoo is located in Sydney and has one of the most glorious backdrops I have ever seen. If getting close up to our world's most intriguing animals wasn't exciting enough, the stunning scenery will have you captivated.

Upon entering the Zoo I immediately realised this wasn't an entertainment complex but more of a conservation project. You can read more about their mantra here, Our Mission but to summarise they believe in animal's futures and that they do not wish for them to just disappear. This is sadly happening rapidly. It upsets me to think that so many of our beautiful creatures in the animal kingdom will not be around by the time my daughter's have their own children, if not sooner. 

The zoo is absolutely massive with lots of animals and trails to explore. We started off with the reptiles. There were lots of different types of snakes etc to view including one of the biggest one's i've ever seen. 
One particular thing I thought was great about the reptile house was the amount of room we had to walk around and manoeuvre a pram. It didn't feel cramped at all. There was plenty of space and plenty to see without blocking anyone's view.

The giraffe's were a huge hit with all of us. Even Opehlia was fascinated by them. They've got a pretty cracking view though, I have to say. I wouldn't mind my home overlooking the opera house.

My favourite animal (the elephant), had a lovely asian inspired home. I think they are the most beautiful animals to watch. They are mesmerising, so much so, that I got too distracted with their beauty to take any good photographs.

Eva's favourite part of the day was seeing the monkey's and gorilla's. She thinks they are funny and cheeky.

There are so many animals to see from penguins to kangaroo's, to zebra and pelicans. The list is endless. 

There are plenty of places to eat with a huge variety on offer. We had baguettes and crisps but there were many hot options available. You could also take a picnic and eat it at the many leafy, green areas that the zoo has to offer. The food we bought tasted nice and was reasonably priced. 

As you can see from the pictures below, we all had the most wonderful day. Eva thought it was amazing. There was so much to see and do. There were a few play areas around including a water area which was great for cooling Eva off. There are shows and talks throughout the day and you can enjoy animal encounters at an extra cost. 

Overall, it was a fantastic day out and I can't recommend it enough for families or adults alike. It's suitable for all ages. It's a great fun and educational outing. I was very impressed with the way the zoo was laid out. It never felt squashed or cramped. The toilet facilities especially the parent rooms were brilliant. I was also really happy with how buggy friendly the zoo was. There are ramp options available everywhere. 

My top tips to enjoy your day to the max:

1) Get there early - The park is very big and with little children it will take a while to see everything

2) Pick up a map - As i've just mentioned the park is huge so a map will guide you around and also tell you talk and showtimes so you don't miss anything

3) Wear comfy shoes - You will do a lot of walking so wear sensible shoes

4) Keep hydrated - If you're visiting during the summer make sure you drink plenty of water. It can get very hot. 

5) Take a stroller or carrier or hire one - I can't emphasise enough just how big the park is. Eva became tired a lot. We actually took her trunki, so we were able to pull along when she was tired. There are strollers available to hire from the zoo.

Adult tickets are $46 and children between 4 and15 are $26. There are other pricing options available which you can view here, Tickets. It can be accessed by car, bus, train or ferry. We had the car and found that easy enough. There was plenty of parking available which was a short walk away from the entrance. When we go again, we'll take the ferry as that seems like a fun option. 

** A big thank you to Taronga Zoo for providing us with adult tickets for the purpose of this review**

Wednesday 16 March 2016

Kinetik Non-Contact Thermometer Review

If you follow me on social media you will know that Ophelia has now cut 3 teeth at 16 weeks old. Her first came through at 12 weeks. She's been very good with it but there have been days when she's has been a bit down in the dumps and under the weather. I've had to check her temperature a lot whilst they've cut through. 

We were sent a Kinetik Non Contact Thermometer to review which I jumped at the chance of receiving as it's so difficult to hold a normal thermometer under a babies arm or in their mouth. We have one that you can pop in a babies ear but even that is a bit of a struggle to do as it always disturbs Ophelia.

The thermometer uses infra-red technology to take accurate readings within one second. It also has different modes which allows you to measure room, body and surface temperature which is displayed in either celsius or fahrenheit. It also has a built in memory for 25 readings. This is very handy for seeing whether your child's temperature is going up or down. This i've found very helpful as I do suffer from baby brain quite a bit and become quite forgetful!! 

It's very simple to use. All you have to do is turn it on, take the cap off, then hold it a couple of centimetres away from your child's forehead and press scan. 

We've loved this product. It's proven invaluable whilst we've been away on holiday. We've been able to take Ophelia's temperature whilst she's sleeping, without disturbing her. We even used it on the aeroplane as they are always cold with all the air blowing around so it was great to keep an eye on her during the night time flight without waking her up. It's also been great for checking room temperatures whilst we've been here.

I like the fact that it beeps if the temperature is too high. I think this is a great feature as a lot of the time, you can't remember what a normal temperature should be especially if you are worried.

I also love that it's more hygienic than a normal thermometer. You don't have to give it a clean after every use like you would a regular one.

It's very small and fits in the palm of your hand and therefore is ideal for travel or to simply carry around in your change bag or handbag. 

Hubby has also had a fantastic time proving to me that my baths are always way too hot. I always have a boiling hot bath and he's constantly telling me that the temperature is too high and it's not good for me. He has loved sneaking in and measuring it before I jump in. Needless to say he's been able to be very smug!! 

I'd definitely recommend this to everyone. It's easy to use, fast and effective and has certainly made our lives easier whilst taking Eva and Ophelia's temperatures. You can buy the thermometer from their website here, Kinetik Wellbeing.


Monday 14 March 2016

Mother's Day 2016

This mother's day was slightly different for me as we were in Australia and it was my first as a mum of 2. The day came as perfect timing because hubby had arrived back in Australia the day before and we hadn't seen him for 7 weeks. 

It was so wonderful to be back together as a family. I'm not going to lie, it's been very difficult without him but i've got to give myself some credit. Reflecting back, I think I did a great job looking after the 2 of them by myself.

We stayed in a hotel in Sydney on the Saturday before mother's day so it was lovely to wake up in a huge comfy bed and know I was in for a special day. I had beautiful flowers delivered to the room and Eva then presented me with my cards and present. She was so excited although she kept singing happy birthday, which made me laugh!

Hubby had bought me such a thoughtful gift. It was a set of bracelets from Lily Belle. There was one for me, one for Eva and one for Ophelia. They are exactly the same and all have our names on, (well mine says mummy). They are ridiculously cute. Eva was ecstatic to have the same bracelet as mummy and her sister. I've had a sneaky peek at their website and there are so many adorable things on there that I want for me and the girls'. 

We then went out and had a very tasty breakfast and I had a glass of champagne as a little treat.

Next was the main event. We were lucky enough to have been able to review Taronga Zoo, so we chose to do it on mother's day as we knew it would be a fun day out for all of us. We really did have an amazing time there. It's the best zoo we've ever been too with the most breathtaking views as the icing on the cake. There was so much to see. By the time we got back in the car at the end of the day, both girls were snoring. Look out for a full review of the zoo on my blog very soon.

I just love the following pictures that we got on the day. It sums up what being a mum is all about. Making these 2 beauties happy. 

I couldn't have asked for a better day. I was spoilt rotten by hubby and my daughters. The best gift of all was having us all back together and seeing how happy this made Eva and Ophelia. I'm not sure we'll be able to top it next year.

What did you get up to for mother's day?

Thursday 3 March 2016

But what about me?!

As you probably know last November I gave birth to our 2nd beautiful baby girl, Ophelia. From the outside most people would have viewed this as the happiest time of our lives. I was able to take beautiful photographs and share them with you. I'm sure people thought it looked great but things weren't all it seemed. I have always been very good at covering my feelings up and putting on a brave face.

This post is probably one I should never write and perhaps readers won't understand it without being in the situation themselves. You see expecting and having a baby is supposed to be a happy time and bring so much love, joy and happiness to everyone. It's exciting. Family are thrilled. Babies symbolise love and light. But sadly this wasn't the case for us.

I'll take you back to where it started, February 2015. I had been at a blogging event all day and couldn't stop weeing. I got home did a pregnancy test and it was postive. Hubby and I were ecstatic. This time around we decided we would tell our immediate family straight away. I was only 4 weeks but we decided that with it being our 2nd baby, I may need help and support from them if I was tired. I skyped my mum and sisters (they live in Australia), we told my dad and my in laws. They were all very happy. We were on cloud 9.

Then a few weeks later my mother in law became very ill. It was a rapid deteroritaton that came out of nowhere. For someone that fit and healthy to be that ill was quite a shock. I won't go into too many details out of respect for my husband's side of the family but the short of it was that she was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour. From the off we were told that there was going to be no happy outcome with the illness. 

Everything was a waiting game. We didn't know how long she would survive. She kept fighting it and fighting it. She needed around the clock care and support but she was at her own home.

She eventually was admitted to a hospice in October. My due date was the 12th November. My husband had time off work to go there everyday. To cut a long story short. I had Ophelia on the 21st and she passed away 4 days later. If you read my blog post called My PostNatal Stay In Hospital, you will know I was stuck in there for over a week with an infection. Therefore, I was in hospital when she passed away. 

I've had to write this post as a form of release as I honestly feel I need to talk to someone about all this. Perhaps counsilling will be the way forward. 

I don't want to come across as selfish and please understand that this is not my personality. I don't need to be the centre of attention or anything like that but during my pregnancy and for the month after I had Ophelia,  I have never felt so alone and scared in all my life. I was upset and depressed and I couldn't tell anyone as when I did it was all thrown back in my face. I tried to reach out to family members and my husband on many occasions but it was always brushed off.

You see last year was a big year for me too. Not only was I expecting our 2nd child but it was also my 30th birthday which I felt was an important one. That was all forgotten about too. 

I struggled with the pregnancy. I work in an operating theatre so I was on my feet all day. I would then come home and look after Eva, who was 2 so always on the go and requiring attention. I was extremely tired. Nobody seemed to care especially my husband. His mind and attention was always with his mum. 

Whenever I spoke to anyone about how I was feeling, telling them I was alone, struggling, tired and upset, I was always told to suck it up and get on with it. Even my own family did it to me. I was always told how could I moan and say I'm upset when my mother in law was ill etc.

I had 2 bleeds towards the end of the pregnancy which they put down to stress and not having any rest. On the 2 occasions I was admitted to hospital, I went alone. No husband by my side. Not a soul.

When I was having contractions my husband just left the house and spent most of the time at the hospice. He eventually came back and we went to the hospital. He didn't hold my hand. He didn't offer me any support. He was completely disinterested.

As you can imagine. When she passed away the loneliness escalated. I had to attend the funeral with a 1 week old baby. I'd had a cesarean. I'd just had a baby. I'd been in hospital for a week. No one was bothered. The sympathy cards were coming but no new baby cards. 

In the end I decided I needed to be with my family and we booked a last minute trip to Australia on boxing day. Whilst here I made the decision with my husband to stay here for 3 months and he return home where he could grieve alone. 

I hope I haven't come across as a horrible person. I'm really not. Having a baby should be a wonderful time but it was honestly the worst time ever for me. I cried pretty much every day during my pregnancy and in the weeks after. 

I understand that it was a difficult time for my husband and his family. It was for everyone. But I was going through a lot too and I was alone. There were times when I didn't want the baby. I hated myself for even saying it but this is how everyone made me feel. 

This time in Australia has allowed me to become a happier person again and has made me appreciate how lucky I am to have 2 beautiful, healthy girls.

I needed this time away from the upset back in the UK. I've now only got 2 weeks left here in Australia. I'm extremely anxious about my return home which is why I felt the need to writ this post and get a lot off my chest. I'm so worried that my life will be the way it was when I left. I'm worried I will be alone. I'm worried that no one will care or be interested.

Have you ever had anything like this happen to you?  

Wednesday 2 March 2016

Vital Baby Nurture Health and Safety Kit Review

I was recently sent the Vital Baby Nurture Health and Safety Kit to review. The kit includes 3 items which are a digital bath and room thermometer, nasal decongester and a flexisafe thermometer. They are silicone and BPA free. These are all ideal products to have for newborns which makes this a really handy kit to have.

When the kit arrived, I was instantly drawn to the colour of it. I love how bright all the products are. This is proving quite useful at night time. There's nothing worse than searching for things that don't stand out in dark rooms.

My favourite item of the 3 has to be the bath and room thermometer. It is ridiculously cute. I love the fact that you can use it in the bath and in any room of your house. I am one of these people that has a very hot bath so I am useless at getting the temperature correct for my daughters. It's vital to get the temperature correct for newborns as they can't regulate their own body temperature. 
To use, you place the teddy in the bath and then start to fill it up with water. The digital display tells you the temperature and also flashes red as a warning if it's too hot. It will also tell you if it's too cold. I think this is a great feature as i'm always concerned about the bath or bedroom being too hot but I never seem to think about it being too cold. The temperature is displayed quickly.

Once Ophelia is older she will really appreciate this thermometer when she can play with it properly like her sister does. 
As you may know I am currently on holiday in Australia. The kit has come away with us. I am finding our teddy extremely handy here to monitor the temperature in the bedroom. As you can imagine the temperature is rather high here, so the room is either too hot or too cold, once the air conditioning is on. 

The thermometer has also been used many times since Ophelia has been born. Between the snuffles, general worrying over having a newborn and the teething (yes you heard me correctly, she is teething already) I can honestly say it's had its uses. 
It can be used orally, underarm or rectally. On a newborn, I find orally to be very difficult as they can't keep their mouths closed. The most accurate way of taking their temperature is in the rectum but I don't like to do that. I've been using it underarm. 
It's fairly simple to use. Once the temperature has been taken you hear a normal beeping sound accompanied with the temperature reading on display. If it's too high the beeping will be quite fast. 

The nasal decongester is honestly something I never thought I would use. However, having a newborn in the winter months has meant it has been invaluable. I have heard of people manually sucking the mucus out of their babies noses but I just could never bring myself to do that. 
To use you simply push the bulb, place the device in your babies noise and then slowly release the bulb. It's perfectly sized to allow your thumb to push the bulb inwards. The tip is also a good size for Ophelia's nose and is soft. 
Ophelia had a very bad cold and this worked wonders to help relieve her. I have to say that I find this doesn't work very well if there is only a small amount of mucus. It only works if there is a lot of it which is why it was great when she had her severe cold. 

Overall, I think this is a fab, handy kit for anyone with a newborn. It would make a great gift as they are all essential items. It's a very good size too. It doesn't take up a lot of room. As mentioned earlier, the kit has come to Australia with me, so it's also handy for travel purposes. 
You can purchase it here, Health and Safety Kit.

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