This time last year


It feels like a bit of a strange November. This time last year we were going through IVF.  It was a weird, intense kind of time.  The days were literally dark, creeping up to winter.  Each day started very early with different jabs, scans and appointments with the consultant to monitor progress and the next step in the treatment.   The next 3 weeks would bring meetings with the embryologist and IVF specialists.  About 10 days later we would find this cycle didn’t work for us.  A failed attempt at IVF brings with it a whole raft of other feelings. The money spent, the uncertain future, the quandary of whether or not to have another attempt.  

By this time last year we’d had enough of the emotional rollercoaster, and whilst we hadn’t given up completely, we did need a break from it all emotionally.  So a trip to Mauritius was booked and a will to try to have a new year, new start, as much as was possible.   That led me to take a completely new role at work, one that looked a bit of a challenge.  In hindsight it may have been the massive distraction that was needed.

The new year would bring the biggest surprise ever for us and, a good few weeks after that I would tell my wonderful boss about how I would need to go on maternity leave around September or October, I wasn’t too sure at that stage.  He nearly fell off his chair.  It was a good year though.  That new challenge I took shaped itself into one of the best places I’d worked in recent times.  

We went on our holiday and enjoyed a very sunny and delicious time taking it all in before life changed all over again.  We kept Little Z heavily involved every step of the way, even buying a huge penguin as a present for him from his baby sibling as he’d asked for a penguin almost every single week.

A year on from that time we have another little boy. I’m not sure I’ll ever not think it’s amazing that it happened.  A year on from that time I finally wrote a Thank you email to the consultant and nurse that helped us through it all.  It felt a bit premature to do it whilst I was pregnant.  

A year on from that time we’re moving that bloomin penguin about from place to place as Little Z is more fascinated with his little brother than this stuffed bird. A year on from that time things are so different.  

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Finding a healthy life post-baby

After the longest ever labour followed by a crash section with Little Z, I didn’t really know if I was coming or going and it took me about a year before I was ready to start thinking about myself. That sounds like a really really long time but I was so sleep deprived, I was constantly on the search for my next nap and I remember the Other Half used to coax me into going onto the laptop. I’d look at him slightly bewildered and ask why??? Did that have precious baby sleep information on it? And he’d remind me I needed some chill out time. I was a big mess now I think about it, for at least the first 5 months of his existence.

This time, with Baby E, things can’t be more different. Ok I’m sleep deprived but its not an earth shattering life changing experience that I need to get to grips with. I have semi-professional mum skills and life already changed a few years back. So this time, its more of the same as wonderful as it is and it means I’m thinking about myself a lot sooner.

So for anybody who’s just emerged into the post-baby domain, here’s a few things I’ll be trying to do to get somewhat healthy.

A good diet post baby

Diet post pregnancy

I had grand plans to put on a lot of weight during my pregnancy, eating whatever the heck I liked, especially cake. As luck would have it, gestational diabetes got me and I quickly had to change my sweet and carb heavy diet to one where I was testing my blood sugars 5 times a day and controlling the carbs no end. The diabetes has magically disappeared since E came along and the temptation to now stuff my face is pretty high. I had a whole list of cakes mapped out but, sadly, my body couldn’t really take too big a splurge. It’s taken me a good few weeks to start eating cake again and I do love it. I just can’t live off it anymore, as much as I’d love to.

Whilst some celebrities have shed the pregnancy pounds through a no-carbs diet, such an eating regime can prove a little expensive for those of us who might not be able to afford grilled salmon on a daily basis! I would give it my very best shot with steak though, if I could!

The main thing to realise seems to be not to go straight into a major diet whilst breastfeeding. Instead, many blogs recommend that we try and balance our hormones with plenty of zinc that can be found in red meats and nuts, whilst keeping our vitamin B6 levels topped up with lots of broccoli and bananas.

This time round, and learning a bit from the last time I was trying to lose my pregnancy weight, I’ve found the following has really helped me:

Water. Water. Water! Whilst it doesn’t take away complete tiredness from feeding a baby round the clock, it does keep my hydrated and my skin from feeling like it’s gone completely dry. I’m sure the nice spa lady would still tell me I don’t drink enough.

Lots of Fruit and Veg. I learned to love a lot more fruit during pregnancy with GD as it gave me a sweet fix through the day. It was a bit like my new drug and whilst it in no way replaces strawberry laces I did completely fall in love with donut peaches.

Nuts. There are some amazing nut selection boxes right now and yes, they can be high in calories but they also contain a heck of a lot of good vitamins in them. This is why I have bought several tubs of dry roasted peanuts. Honestly.

Cake. Because everyone needs some delicious cake sometimes. Even if you can only manage a sliver right now. Just make sure ALL of the cream is in that one sliver.

Getting sleep post-baby

Getting sleep post baby

Baby E sleeps a million times better than Z ever did. I’m not really sure why. Maybe its that he entered the world in a much calmer way than Z did. Maybe we’re much more relaxed overall. Maybe Baby E just realises how fantastic sleep is.

Right now we are still in the patchy sleep stage and these are getting better there are still nights where I can literally feel my eye twitch because of the tiredness and wonder how I’ll look sporting an eye patch.

These things have definitely helped this time round:

Having a long hot shower / bath in the evenings. Preferably with some very nice bath products. One of my best friends gave me a box of luxury products when E was born and, wow, are they nice. It really does relax you after a frazzled day.

Sleeping when the baby does. I’ve done this a lot better this time. There are definitely days when I don’t manage to nap and I guess its not just possible when you have an energetic four year old and spellings and reading to do but the catnaps do help a lot.

Having a very comfy bed to maximise the quality of sleep. If your bed’s a bit battered and / or you absolutely adore and are addicted to storage space (like me!), then now’s the perfect time to check out the Bedstar website and research how a divan bed that comes complete with storage drawers could prove particularly handy for hoarding all the new baby clothes.

Blackout blinds. These really do help. I’ve found Baby E sleeps much better upstairs than he does when he’s snoozing downstairs in the Moses basket. (The NHS website also has many other helpful sleeping tips for new parents which are probably a lot more professional than mine!).

Exercises post baby

Exercises post baby

That’s not me running by the way. I can’t remember the last time I did that!

One thing I need to start doing is going for walks again. I did it with Little Z and it helps my tummy muscles a lot. Having had a c-section has meant I had to take it very easy for a good few weeks, but I’m now at the stage where I can start doing gentle exercises again and walking is one of them.

One big thing some women find is that their tummy muscles are not what they used to be. At some point I’ll be trying to strengthen my core muscles again and toning up my tummy muscles again. Or at least trying to. That’s my mission for the new year, starting off gently, maybe about 10 minutes a day. Seriously, I am that unfit!

(If you’re a new mum who just stumbled onto this page in a sleep deprived stupour during a night feed then hello. and Congrats! And I hope you get some sleep soon!).

(*Written in collaboration with Julie Simmons)

Baby E at 9 weeks old


We’ve hit 9 weeks old this week and something slightly strange has happened.  Usually he’s woken for a feed by normal baby crying which starts off all grizzly at first and gets louder and louder until I’m feeding him.  The last couple of days he’s simply woken up and done some loud baby “shouting” rather than crying.  As Z never did that I’m finding it really strange but it’s so funny to hear, like an angry little man demanding his food impatiently as if he’s annoyed by the crappy milk service being offered at 3am.  It’s definitely nicer than hearing him cry though.  He does love the sound of his own voice right now and will keep coo-ing and calling out.  One time he was so tired his eyes were completely closed and he was still calling out whilst falling asleep all at the same time.  I’m trying to record him doing that again but of course he’s then wide awake staring suspiciously at the strange black device being pointed him constantly. 

My friend said something a few weeks back about how babies will look at you in the most adoring way no matter how you look and never was such a truer word spoken.  Baby E has given me the biggest smiles this week despite me looking like some kind of bag lady tramp with the greasiest hair possibly imaginable.  I’m still very much at the phase of feeling victorious if I fit in a 10 second shower somewhere in the day.  Hair washing is a luxury most days but oh those 10 minutes of freshly dried hair is amazing, right before I have to tie it back up again so the baby doesn’t grab it and eat it!  Despite all the greasiness and zombiness, the Other Half and I recalled how much more relaxed we are this time.  I think it took me over a week to switch a laptop on again when we had Z.  And about 5 months before we left him somewhere.  This time we waited about 6 weeks before we started going out again. 

He’s now a lot less terrified of his big brothers loudness and general clanging about and loves watching him.  His big eyes follow him about the room as best he can, head tilting all angles to get a good view.  Little Z on the other hand always wants to pick his baby sibling up, whether he’s awake or not.   There is a lot of “don’t wake him up” type of reminding going on at the moment.  Coincidentally, Baby E always wakes the few seconds I leave the room with both of them together and Little Z always swears he most definitely and absolutely did not wake him up.  Honest mum. 

I’m hoping the next few weeks brings with it a lot more hair washes and a lot less shocked looks from Little Z each time I look presentable.  “Is it your birthday mummy?” was one such question when I put on a dress last week and did’t just throw on a top with jeggings.  Hmm! 

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Win Toys worth £60 with George At Asda

When I was little, one of the big things I really really wanted was a beautiful working oven toy. A nice big red one, not a pink one, because red was my most favourite colour in the world. My parents got me a huge kitchen set and it had sink, an oven and little shelves. It was all very plastic fantastic and had a very bright yellow hob. But it didn’t have a working oven. I was always secretly slightly disappointed at that. I couldn’t understand why toy companies wouldn’t allow an 7 year old to own a fully functioning gas oven, what use was a pretend oven? I mean, what could possibly go wrong? I made my peace with the pretend oven eventually and moved onto Star Wars toys, typewriters and, eventually an amazing Commodore 64 where I’d wait patiently for 45 minutes or so to play Bomb Jack. These are some of my most favourite memories when it comes to playing with toys as a child.

These days I relive a lot of my childhood through Little Z’s toys. Things have moved on quite a lot and, in some ways, have stayed the same. There are still the same classical kitchen sets and dolls houses and there and a whole host of brand new trends and toys to go with it. If I had to pick a kitchen set now it would probably be this. How lovely and red is that!

Red Kitchen AsdaIt would be something I could probably play with for a while, just to test it out of course. Little Z would want to play on it for hours, practising making cups of pretend tea and playing with the oven that will have to function on imagination.

George at Asda have a huge toy selection of such toys, all selected to feed the imagination and crafted to provide fun to both little and big kids. They are giving away a £60 voucher to one lucky winner to spend on a toy of their choice. All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment below telling me what your favourite childhood toy was.

You can also build up some optional bonus entries by selecting the other options on the Gleam form. The giveaway will end on the 4th December at 11pm afterwhich a winner will be chosen at random. Please note, this giveaway is only open to those living in the UK. Good luck!

<a href=”” target=”_blank”>Competitions at ThePrizeFinder</a> – See more at:

How to sleep when the baby sleeps (In 15 easy steps)


A day after I had Baby E, a hospital doctor came in to do some post C-section checks and uttered some words I’d not heard since I had Little Z almost 5 years ago…”You should sleep when the baby sleeps”. I was a bit speechless. Mainly because I had gone almost crazy trying to achieve the harmonious sleep synchronisation in all the time Little Z was a baby. I managed to do it a handful of times but other than that I spent a lot of time wondering whether this was some kind of new mum urban myth and eventually concluded it was something to lure naive mums into thinking there was some kind of quality sleep out there just within reach, if only they slept when the baby slept.
So when I heard a medical professional utter these words I was slightly speechless. Could it be? This theory was a plausible one that many mums through the world were putting into regular practice? I decided that, this time round, I would master this sleep filled skill. 

After a good few weeks I have found that yes! It is possible.

And here’s how to sleep when the baby sleeps (In 15 easy steps!)…

1. Notice that the baby looks like he is about to doze off into a lovely deep slumber. Rock baby for, what feels like, all eternity, just to be sure his eyes don’t ping open like the jack in the box baby you are becoming far too used to. 

2. Place baby very very very carefully into crib using whatever slow motion ultra careful method you use. Take all the time you need. There is no rush.

3. Think about how if you go to sleep now, you’ll get 3 hour sleep (a la Chandler from Friends).

4. Wonder if you should change the bedding as the baby threw up a bit on it. Decide it probably didn’t soak through to the memory foam mattress and if you sleep at a certain angle you probably won’t touch it.

5. Think you should probably put at least one load of laundry on. You can’t remember the last time you did any kind of washing and you’re pretty sure both you and the baby are down to your last set of pjs.

6. Decide the kitchen looks like a bomb hit it and do the dishes quickly so it looks slightly less like student digs

7. Realise you’re hungry and have a very quick sandwich with whatever you can find. You’ve learnt how to wolf down your food. Think that you should really prepare dinner too but that hopefully you can just wing it tonight with something from the freezer. Or Just Eat. Probably the latter.

8. Weigh up whether you have enough time for a shower. You can’t remember the last time you washed your hair but you’re pretty sure it’s been more than 5 days. The scraped back look is starting to look more like crazy-could fry food in it- greaseball look. Decide one more day won’t hurt. After all, you’ve just had lunch and now you want tea. You can’t do both. 

9. Have nice cup of tea. Keep hearing phantom baby cries. Keep checking to see that baby is indeed still asleep.

10. Dive into bed and think “If I sleep now, I’ll get 2 hours sleep”.

11. Doze off after 30 minutes and get back up another 30 minutes after that as courier is threatening to bang down door. Collect parcel grumpily resisting urge to shout at delivery man when you see minute parcel could have been posted through the letter box and doesn’t need signature.

12. Rock stirring baby to sleep whilst holding breath.

13. Answer the phone to the random number calling. You tell them in a hushed voice that no you don’t want your car serviced, yes you no longer have it. Uh huh, uh huh, you will promise to call them if you have another car that needs doing soon. Yep yep, thank you. Goodbye.   

14. Unload washing machine and scatter clothes about on clothes horse in the conservatory. It’ll all dry somehow. Who needs order.

15. Dive back into bed and settle on a quick power nap before the next cycle of feeding begins.

There you have it, it can be done. As long as you include a quick clean up, answering the door and phone to random people and brain wind down time to actually fall asleep you WILL sleep…when the baby sleeps.    

Written in collaboration with Matteessman 

Baby E at 8 weeks old

Sleep has been scarce this week and I couldn’t understand at first why we’d suddenly gone back to so many feeds.  Eventually, a quick google told me he’s going through a big mental leap where he now recognises patterns and can differentiate regular patterns.  Which explains why he’s been looking at his hands a lot.  It’s very cute.   It’s expected to last around another two weeks so I think we’re going to have a lot more cuddling and frequent wake ups for a bit.

There is a lot of cooing and gurgling and it’s so lovely to see him communicate and smile. You can see his little head turn to follow us as we move about the room. Although, with little Z he tends to give up eventually as his big brother moves at the speed of a bouncing ball most of the time.  His big brother is enjoying being an entertainer but has to be regularly reminded to be gentle and that “he’s just a baby, he doesn’t understand what a light sabre is just yet.”  I think Little Z is desperate to have a Jedi fight with someone and frequently argues “it’s pretend Mummy!” each time I point out the vices of fighting.  Baby E mostly looks bemused at the antics of his big brother whilst Little Z is always slightly disappointed that Baby E doesn’t really do anything fun.   I have no real clue how to juggle two right now and I’m not sure whether I’m doing it right or not.  It feels very much like I’m winging it at the moment.   It will balance itself out soon, hopefully. 

I get the feeling Baby E may be a thumb sucker.  He’s trying very hard to put it into his mouth but just not got it quite right.  Throw in a love of hugging muslins and I think this baby is slowly turning into Linus from Charlie Brown, which would be very cute of course.   It’s just not quite emerged yet so we’re still waiting.  It reminds me I need to go watch the new Peanuts movie with Little Z when it comes out! 

(Week 17 of Project 52 and linking up to Sunday Photo)

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Planning a new adventure

I absolutely love planning my next adventure. It’s usually a sunny holiday somewhere abroad which encompasses a lovely hot sunny beach with a lot of culture and history thrown in. Somewhere we can go to see a new place, new people and learn a lot whilst of course, eating a LOT of amazing food and making a tonne of memories in the process.


The planning process is just as exciting I find. I’ve always been someone that loves hotels and can easily spend hours pouring over sites such as Expedia looking at place after place and then having some very important discussions with the Other Half about how much we should budget for this next little gem. My argument usually starts with “this could our last holiday in a while because…”. He’s sussed me out a long time ago.


Over the years I’ve loved adventures abroad with my friends where holidays were made up of accommodation and transport of the most budget kind to places like Paris, accidentally booking a hotel bang opposite the Moulin Rouge to girlie holidays to Dubai over 10 years ago when it was just an up and coming place and didn’t look anywhere as sparkly or busy as it does these days.

Adventures with the other half were slightly different. They’ve evolved from holidaying wherever the heck we liked and taking hundreds and hundreds of photos as we’re both so trigger happy, to finding more family friendly places once Little Z came along (and still taking hundreds of photos!). We were slightly terrified of taking him abroad at first and didn’t venture abroad again until he was nearly two years old to Dubai again; a place I consider extremely family friendly for Little Z and delicious for a foodie like me. We got a lot more confident after that and even braved Malaysia one year. It was an amazing experience and I really hope to explore more of the Far East some day, particularly Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. Oh and food! If you do like eating (and who doesn’t?) then this is one part of the world that is an amazing visit and one you could just eat your way through. Its just a very very long way away. Then there were the adventures close to home, one of favourites being Edinburgh.


Of course this year our holiday plans will evolve again with the addition of Baby E and having to go on holidays in the school holidays (Boo!). We’re still not brave enough to escape around the Christmas holidays and, realistically, I think that holidays abroad are not going to be anytime within the next six months. I think that does give me plenty of time to reminisce back over all our memories and start plotting our next adventures. I’m thinking of starting with some local trips, like maybe up to beautiful Scotland again. And then maybe Disneyworld. Possibly! 


Written in collaboration with Expedia

How to make friends on the school run


Having had Baby E around the time Little Z started school meant I’ve missed out on quite a few weeks of the school run. I’ve been pretty lucky with a lot of family helping for weeks and so I’ve only just got into it.

I felt a bit awkward stood about like the new girl in the playground wondering whether I should talk to the other parents or just keep my head down and pick up Z and run for it.   

I’ve been somewhat distracted by some of the very sights on my way, like the one above.  I’ve yet to pluck up the courage to get up close to it (and potentially trespass!) and take some more pretty shots.  I may brave it over the next couple of weeks and hope they don’t let any wild dogs loose.  I’ve also spent a bit of time taking those mandatory autumn leaf shots that everyone takes around this time of year.  Golden leaves on the ground, golden leaves on the trees, just pretty golden colours everywhere. I’ve not done the ankle level shot yet, my c section scar doesn’t let me bend down that far without wincing a bit.  I’ve spent the remainder of my time gazing a fair amount of time gazing at a fellow mums city jogger buggy that folds with ONE HAND.  Ooh it is nice.  I have no real memory of what the baby inside or the mum look like at all but the buggy is very very nice.  So it’s fair to say I haven’t really done much chit chat in the playground so didn’t know what the adults or the other children looked like.

Then last week I started doing the afternoon school runs.  The first day was a mini distaster as I tried to get the Quinny out and had a big wrestling match with it in broad daylight as I tried to figure out how to put it altogether.  After resisting temptations to kick it repeatedly I managed to cobble it together and do a grumpy frazzled but successful pick up.  5 minutes later there was more buggy rage as I tried to unsuccessfully collapse it and the urge to abandon it, albeit it for a millisecond, was pretty strong.  I was saved by a quick Google of “how to collapse a Quinny” with a bemused woman looking on.  Obviously I should have given it a bit of a practice at home but having used it for 2 whole years previously with Z I thought I had it down to a tee.  

The next day I attempted the sling. I’m not a natural baby wearer so the first time was more than a bit daunting as I tried to put a squirming E into it.  We did it though and E dozed off after a defiant cry of not wanting to be in it at all. 

I was suddenly surrounded by 3 other mums and one tiny smiley child, each congratulating me on the new baby and cooing over the sleeping little boy inside.  And it’s been the same every day since with even Zs dinner ladies wanting a regular peek.  I now know who owns which child Z plays with and who the very broody parents are. E is oblivious to the attention and enjoys the mini snooze before we pile back into the car. 

So that’s how you make friends on the school run. 

(Week 16 of Project 52 and linking up to Sunday Photo)

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