30 Sep 2015

My September 2015


September has been all consumed with Becky starting school and the ensuing adjustment period, trying to work around her short induction sessions, getting used to a new routine and juggling a hundred things at the same time.

When I scrolled through my photo album, I realised that sadly this means that I took a lot less images than I usually do. Quite fitting, actually, as the last four weeks do seem like a bit of a blur. Which means, I haven’t got as much to share this month. Nevermind, c’est la vie.

Still, below are some of the highlights of September (clockwise from left):

1. Becky starting school is no doubt the biggest event. Doesn’t she look so grown up in her little uniform?

2. Getting a shiny new camera for my birthday and learning to operate it and – hopefully – eventually learning to take better quality images.

3. Going out for some spontaneous birthday drinkies with some mates in Brecon. It’s not our usual place where we go out when we’re in Wales, and it made for a nice change.

4. Watching Becky and Alex play together a lot more this month, and becoming more and more like little buddies.

5. Lots of trips to the park and making the most of the Indian summer.


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29 Sep 2015

Alex, 14 months


Alex has passed the 14 months mark, can you believe it! In terms of his physical development, there isn’t that much to record this month. He’s still crawling at a phenomenal speed, he’s still cruising along furniture and he’s still standing up while holding on to things for a long period of time. He’s not attempting to actually walk though, but hey, I’m sure he’ll do it in his own time. I think he’s close, but he's just not fussed, because his crawling is getting him from A to B much faster, so why would he bother!  

So whilst there aren’t any physical milestones to report, his personality and character, however, are really beginning to shine. He is such a little joker! He loves making us laugh and knows more and more how to do this, whether that’s playing peekaboo with us (with him doing the peeking) or blowing raspberries on us, or chasing us around or play-fighting – he is getting really good at it all. And he is so strong, he can almost rugby tackle me by himself, haha!

He’s also very cheeky and naughty, which is as cute as it is exhausting. He rarely listens to us when we say no, even though it’s obvious that he understand what we mean, and he will just repeatedly do the things we tell him not to. Examples include touching the coals in the fireplace, opening and closing the fridge and oven, banging doors, bashing table lamps, pulling stuff down from shelves and tables, attempting to climb up the stairs, or in fact, anything, and so on. On the one hand I admire his strong will, stubbornness and resolve, but it’s also extremely tiring because he’s got bundles of energy, much more than I have!

His repertoire of sounds is also forever expanding; one of the cutest things is his latest addition “oh-oh”, which he says whenever he’s dropped something or knocked something over. Often, especially when he's complaining about something, he will make the most amazing concoction of sounds and noises, which almost sound like a massive rant - it's so funny!

He’s already such a character and such a little dude!
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28 Sep 2015

Being a school run mum



Today Becky started school full time, and boy, it hasn’t come a day too early. The last three weeks have been more stressful than I imagined and an organisational nightmare, as Becky was only in school for three hours a day as part of a phased induction procedure for reception children. And whilst - luckily - Becky has settled in really well and loves school, it’s fair to say that I haven’t adjusted to being a school mum quite so well.  

It appears I completely underestimated the drastic change and transition school would mean for all of us, not just for Becky. The last few weeks have honestly been some of the most exhausting periods of late; juggling the nursery run with Becky’s afternoon school sessions, remembering who needs what when, getting myself and the kids ready on time, picking Becky up on time, remembering everything she needs to bring (Does she need her PE kit today? Is it ‘show and tell’? Does she need her library books? Have I filled out the form for xyz?), making sure she’s settled and entertained for the morning and afternoon around school times, and all this while balancing it with my full time job and several trips to London and head office for meetings. I feel like I have been run over by a bus, and I don’t like it.

I’ve been feeling ill a lot, I’ve not slept properly and yet kept falling asleep at ridiculously early times, and I feel like I’ve been chasing my own tail for the last few weeks. I think the most difficult adjustment for me is that I no longer have the flexibility of the nursery set-up for both kids, where I’m the client and I can drop Alex and Becky off at my leisure and whenever we managed to get ready. Nursery was there to serve me, but now it feels like I am there to serve school, and with two little ones’ needs to coordinate each morning and now actually having to adhere to a schedule – well, it’s not easy.

To make things a little more manageable, I have been taking turns with one of Becky’s friend's Dads to do the childcare, drop-off and pick-up duties, and in fairness to Becky and her friend, they have been delightfully easy and well behaved and have been entertaining themselves beautifully without needing my attention too much, bar making sure that they hadn’t snuck off somewhere and the occasional “Mummy, can we have a drink”, “Mummy, can we have a sweety” or “Mummy, we’re hungry”, so I have been able to get on with my job (luckily I work from home).  

But still, we have been out of routine for the last few weeks, there has been way too much iPad watching and too much eating rubbish  - however, I refuse to feel guilty about that - and it’s time normal service resumed. So today Becky went in for a full day, followed by her first time at after school club. I’ll admit, I’ve been nervous how today would go for her. Is it all a bit too much to take in? Longer school hours AND a new after school setting with new carers and a new group of children… But I can happily report that she has been fine and has had a great day, and when I picked her up she was running around with her friends in the playground and laughing and joking, which is a huge relief.

So after the first couple of weeks of being a school mum, I’ve concluded the following:

1. Being a school mum is even worse than a nursery mum, as school and work seem pretty incompatible. Why do all meetings and parent / teacher gatherings have to be in the middle of the day? And there are so many of them! This, I really have to get used to.

2. Always check your child’s bag after school. Good heavens, the amount of paperwork and forms and info sheets she’s been coming back with every day is incredible. Who would have thought that there is so much admin and things to act upon at reception level?

3. No matter how hard you try, you will not get a single bit of info out of your child about how the day went. Me: “Did you have a nice day?” Enthusiastic nodding. “What did you eat today?” Becky: “Errr, for pudding we had jelly. I don’t know what we had for lunch.” Aaarrgh! Me: “Did you learn anything today”? Becky: “No.” Me: “What did you do today?” Becky: “I don’t know.” Me: “Did you play with a new friend?” More nodding. Me: “What’s her / his name?” Becky: “Don’t know.” These have been our daily conversations. I’m guessing if she was upset or didn’t like it, she’d tell me, so I’m taking the silence as a good thing.

Being a school run mum has been far more intense than I thought it would be, and I can’t quite believe that this is going to be my life now for the next however many years. Urgh. But I’m pleased to say that so far I’ve managed not to screw anything up and forget vital pieces of kit / signed forms / money for something or other etc. But let’s face it, it’s only a matter of time …

* Linking up with #ShareWithMe and  #BestAndWorst linkies. 
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27 Sep 2015

My Sunday Photo 27th September 2015

May I present my son, caught in the act stealing his sister’s grapes – and looking rather sheepish. I had put Becky’s grapes on the bookshelf so he wouldn’t be able to get to them, because they were huge and he had his own portion with cut down grapes on the table. But no, he didn’t want that, he wanted his sister’s, and did everything to get to them, including climbing into the drawer to elevate himself and eventually succeeded and gorged on them. Determined and crafty monkey!

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25 Sep 2015

School Dinners and Picky Eaters


When Becky was a baby and we first started the weaning process, I was determined to give her the biggest variety of food you could imagine. I was cooking all sorts of meals from scratch; Annabel Karmel would have been proud! 

I spent a fortune on fresh ingredients and fed her everything from organic chicken to avocados and lychees – basically, my child was going to be a gourmet, a healthy, happy eater with a nutritious, balanced diet that would help her develop and grow.

And initially she was. She was eating well and loved her food, and I was secretly high fiving myself for a job well done. Picky eater? Pah! Not my child!

Fast forward two years, and Becky went from a baby with a healthy appetite and natural curiosity for food to the pickiest eater ever. I don’t know how, or what caused it, but all she would suddenly eat was Cheerios (with milk as well as dry), pasta – plain, or on a good day with pesto and peas – or chicken dippers and chips (I curse the day I gave her this meal for the first time, it probably spoilt her taste buds). Oh, and toast - plain or occasionally buttered. And that’s about it.

To this day she has remained picky and completely wary of trying anything new. I cook healthy and balanced meals full of vegetables and proteins and the right food groups, as good nutrition is extremely important to me. After years living with an eating disorder, I know everything there is to know about good and healthy foods, and I try to incorporate this into our lifestyle. But Becky is totally not interested. She will not for the life of her try anything I cook regularly for me and John, so most of the time I end up making her extra dishes (I know, I know, I’m silly, but I don’t want her going hungry) or just give her that slice of toast with some cheese at dinner time.

Luckily, though very much to my frustration, she has been eating really well at nursery. I don’t know whether it’s peer pressure or whether they just had a certain knack with kids and picky eaters (or whether their cooking is just better than mine!) but her daily reports always said that she‘d eaten everything and often even had seconds. Seconds!

A complete contrasts to home, where she will do anything to avoid eating. Snacking – yes. Sweets – yes. But a proper meal, she’ll do anything to get out of, or she’ll spend ages just poking her plate and moving one thing from one side to the other. I just don’t think she’s that interested in eating. I think in her world it’s almost a waste of time. At least I knew that she had eaten well at nursery, so I could live with the fact she was a picky eater at home.

But now she’s at school and my concern is somewhat intensified. At school, no one is going to watch whether she’s eaten her school dinner in the given time. If she spends half an hour just poking it, it’ll go in the bin by the time the school bell rings, and no one will be none the wiser whether my little girls has had some food or not.

It really worries me. Becky is a petite, delicate and skinny little thing and smaller – and definitely much lighter - than most of her friends and classmates, and while that is certainly not a bad thing, I do worry for her nutrition.

I'm even considering making her packed lunches, but a) there really is no guarantee she would eat them and b) in all honesty, I could totally do without the hassle. I’ve got so much to think about and sort already, I really haven’t got time to be doing that every day, too, on top of everything else, when she gets perfectly nice school dinners. And I’m sure that it wouldn’t make any difference to whether Becky eats or not. If anything, I would probably have to stick to giving her the same things over and over, whereas the school does offer a well balanced choice of foods that actually sound rather yummy.

So whilst I do worry about Becky’s nutrition, there’s not much that I can do right now other than ask her every day whether and what she’s eaten, and trust her when she says that she’s at least tried some – and not just the pudding.

I just really hope she grows out of this phase soon and that she’ll learn to embrace new foods and realise just how much lovely and tasty stuff she is missing out on.

Have you got any experience with picky eaters and school dinners? Would love to hear your thoughts and tips. 

* Linking up with #ShareWithMe

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23 Sep 2015

Get set, bake!


With the Great British Bake Off once again dominating our screens, Millwood Education, a leading supplier of nursery equipment, educational resources and supplies, is challenging little bakers to join its Junior Bake Off.

Designed to help children eat well and improve their cooking skills along the way, the competition encourages creativity from junior bakers. With their parents’ assistance, little ones are asked to produce a creative bake from one of the following categories: desserts, biscuits, bread or pastry.

Creativity is key, so everything from colour, design to decorative display will be taken into account when the winner is chosen. The first prize is this colourful kid’s baking set (pictured above), containing all the essentials a little star baker needs, combining fun and functional tools.

Two runners up will also each receive a printed kid’s apron and a selection of kitchen utensils (see below) - easy to put on, take off and store away until the next baking venture.

The Millwood Junior Bake Off is open to all UK residents aged 7 and under and is open until the 29th September. Enter the competition by simply submitting a photo of your creative cakes here, on Millwood’s Facebook page or simply emailing info@millwoodeducation.co.uk.  

Becky and I love baking, we regularly bake cakes, fairy cakes, cupcakes or cookies, and it’s a way of spending quality time with her, mixing the dough, fighting over who gets to lick the spoon (obviously Becky always wins!), colouring the cake mix and icing with pink food dye (somehow all our cakes end up being pink – what else?!) and watching Becky as she impatiently looks on as the bakes rise in the oven.

If you have a little star baker or just fancy giving this a go, well, what are you waiting for? Get your pinnies on and let’s bake! 


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21 Sep 2015

Alex's autumn / winter wardrobe


With the summer season now well and truly over and Alex continuing to grow so fast, he was due some new clothes. So over the past couple of weeks I’ve been picking up bits and bobs here and there and started compiling his autumn / winter wardrobe – this little dude is so “fashion”, ha!

I have to admit that I absolutely love shopping for boys clothes. I’ve always thought that they are just so lovely and cool, whereas the majority of girls clothes are simply pink and a little too cutesy for my liking – but then, Becky absolutely loves it all, so who am I to argue?

The majority of stuff I have picked up so far has been from Next (I do love their kids’ clothes!), Florence & Fred at Tesco, Tu at Sainsbury’s and George at Asda. The latter three mainly because it’s just so convenient; it’s somewhere I shop regularly, and their collections are really nice and such good value for money.

I don’t mind spending a bit more on things that have a little bit more longevity, like outdoor clothing, or things that need to be fitted properly, like shoes, and I certainly indulge my kids now and again in branded clothes if they are irresistibly cute, but overall I like the fact that kids clothing today is so accessible and that you can pick up such bargains. Alex goes through so many clothes changes a day at nursery, it’s handy that I can stock up on basics that still look super sweet.

So far I have several pairs of trousers (corduroys, jeans and joggers), a lovely winter coat, some long-sleeve tees and a pair of pre-walker booties, as he’s still only just cruising. I still need a couple of cardies, jumpers, vests and hats to complete his wardrobe. I’ve seen a few nice things online at Gap and H&M, so next time I’m in town, I shall be taking a proper look at their collections and filling in the gaps.

Below is my shopping haul so far, clockwise from left:

Light grey jeans – Tu @ Sainsbury’s
Orange and blue stripy tee – Florence & Fred
Brown corduroys – Next
Set of three super cute long-sleeve tees – Next
Booties – Next
Winter coat – Next
Stripy baby joggers – George @ Asda
Animal slogan tee – Florence & Fred
Jeans – George @ Asda


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20 Sep 2015

My Sunday Photo 20th September 2015


We’re almost two weeks into Becky attending reception, and this is the scene that is happening outside the school gates nearly every morning: Becky and her best friends hugging each other, giggling and dancing in excitement, both that they’re at school, but also that they are seeing each other again. It’s neither a particularly good quality picture – just quickly snapped with my iPhone in the spur of the moment – nor particularly well framed, but it does make me smile every time I look at it because it captures the pure, innocent, warm and genuine emotions of kids. I love observing Becky and her friends, building their little social circles, enjoying each other’s company and going through crucial milestones together. 


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18 Sep 2015

Safety First


A few weeks ago I was driving home from a day out at the beach when I was hit by a car (by a driving instructor, of all people! Oh the irony!). Luckily it was a relatively low-speed collision – the guy rammed into me at a round-about – but it still left me a little shaken. I’m a fairly confident driver I would say, but when it’s not just about you but also your kids, things like that can give you a real fright and put the fragility of life and how quickly things can change into perspective.

I had been in the process of upgrading my kids’ car seats at the time, as they are both outgrowing their respective ones, and initially I was just going to buy a relatively inexpensive booster seat or booster cushion for Becky, as she seemed the right age and weight. However, the accident made me re-evaluate all the safety measures in the car, and I decided to invest in a proper booster seat with back and side protection.

After lots of research, I decided to buy the Maxi Cosi Rodi Air Protect Group 2/3 high back booster seat. At £125 it’s not cheap, but I was persuaded by the good reviews and safety certificates of this award winning seat. And now that we have used it for a good few weeks and Becky loves it, I thought I would write a little review in case anyone else is looking for a booster seat from the ages of 4+.

Before I even looked at any other brands, I checked out Maxi Cosi first, as I’m a big fan of their seats and have used the Cabriofix and the FamilyFix Base with both Becky and Alex, and Becky has been in the Maxi Cosi Axiss with its rotating base for easy access (another superb cat sear I can only recommend) for the best part of the last four years - which Alex is now going to be upgraded to.

In terms of spec, the Rodi Air Protec’s key features are as follows:

-          It’s a forward facing high back booster
-          Simple fitting and securing with the car’s own seat belt instead of a harness
-          Recline positions
-          Specifically designed air-filled side impact protection system
-          Headrest anchor for added stability
-          Adjustable seat height & width to grow with the child
-          Suitable from 15kg to 36kg, roughly 4 to 12 years

As I said before, the safety features were the most important factor for me in my decision to buy the Rodi Air Protect. According to Maxi Cosi, 25 per cent of all car accidents involving children are side impact collisions, which means that the head of the child is extremely vulnerable. The seats’ patented Air Protect technology aims to alleviate this and provides extra support for the head, releasing air at the precise moment of impact and therefore protecting the child’s head and body, in essence acting like an air-bag. The headrest anchor gives added stability, so you can be sure that in case of an accident, it won’t move forward and is kept in position.

Although at only 4.7kg the seat is remarkably light-weight and not bulky at all, it’s noticeably sturdy. It’s padded throughout so Becky is comfortable and cosy in it. The installation is extremely simple, using just the car’s 3-point seat belt, which means it’s easily transferable between cars, which is another bonus, as we are often swapping it between mine and John’s car.

Becky loves it. Even though she liked being in the Axiss, she had been outgrowing it slowly but surely, and had found the harness in particular a nuisance of late, always complaining that it’s too tight (even though it wasn’t), and restrictive, whereas with this one, the car seat gives her a lot more flexibility to adjust to her comfort levels while still being safe. In fact, she loves climbing into the seat and fixing the car seat herself (I always check it’s done correctly, of course), and she feels like a big girl being able to do it on her own.


The Rodi Air Protect offers a slightly higher seating position than many other models in this category, which means Becky is sitting a little bit more elevated and can enjoy the view out of the window. The Maxi Cosi also reclines, which is rare for a Group 2/3 booster, so it’s another big advantage for longer journeys and when she inevitably falls asleep in the car.

The backrest and shoulder supports are adjustable, allowing the seat to grow with your child and ensuring that he / she will be comfortable at every stage. It also has removable covers, so it’s easy to pop them in the wash as and when necessary, and having washed the covers of my previous Maxi Cosi seats many a time, I can attest that they have a very good lifespan, too.

Just to be on the safe side *excuse the pun*, I did compare the Maxi Cosi Rodi Air Protect to other brands and high back booster seats in the group before I purchased it, but none of them ticked all my boxes like this one. I can honestly say that in terms of safety features and overall performance, I am confident that I have made the right choice and that Becky will be as protected in the car as possible. Maxi Cosi tend to test their seats in excess of legal requirements, which I’m really impressed with. The price tag might be high, but if you consider that you will get years out of this seat, it’s a worthy investment - and you can’t put a price on safety, can you?

So from both Becky and I, the car seat gets a big thumbs up and we can thoroughly recommend it.

*Picture Source: Maxi Cosi 
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15 Sep 2015

Siblings September 2015


These pictures were taken whilst I was just playing around and trying to get to grips with my new camera (as you can tell, Testino’s got nothing to worry about just yet). But when I looked back through them, I realised that they actually perfectly sum up Becky and Alex’s relationship right now, so I decided to use them for this month’s Siblings Project. 

They only show Alex and Becky playing together in the play room (neither would "pose" for my pictures and both more or less refused to smile, as they were so engrossed in what they were doing), but I feel you get a good sense for the dynamic between them. Now that Becky is at school, she seems to be adopting much more of a teacher role, showing Alex how to use her toys, placing him on various ride-ons, spurring him on to pull himself up and cruise along with the walker, and generally being a great big sister. Alex is obviously chuffed to pieces whenever she gives him the time of day. He loves copying what she does, and he constantly watches her and vies for her attention.


We have had a couple of first, small squabbles though recently. Now that Alex is mobile, there is literally no stopping him. He’s very persistent and stubborn, so when he wants something, he will usually try to get it at all cost, which can leave Becky frustrated, especially when he is snatching her toys or breaking her things. She never shouts at him though, bless her, she understands that he is little, but she will occasionally complain to me or lock him out of the play room to prevent him from interfering, but overall she’s remarkably patient with him, and so supportive and lovely.

It’s great to see how their relationship is maturing, how they are both more aware of each other and know that they belong together into one family unit, and to watch them become better buddies week by week. 


dear beautiful
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14 Sep 2015

How To Stage Your Home

A few weeks ago I wrote about how we are short of space in our current house - mainly due to the fact that one of the bedrooms is our home office - and how we are currently at a crossroad in terms of what to do next property-wise. The options we are currently trying to decide on are to either extend or to move house.

While I’m more in the staying put and adapting camp, John favours the moving option. I’m not against moving per se, but the hassle and upheaval of a relocation does put me off a bit. However, if we do decide to move, I would definitely prefer to sell first and be chain free. I’ve never been in a chain scenario before, but I have witnessed several friends in that situation, and I can appreciate just how stressful it is, so I would try and avoid it.

When putting a property on the market, there are lots of things that vendors can do to ensure a quick house sale, one of the key things being some simple home improvements, or “home staging” to make a property more presentable.

Whenever I look at properties online or at estate agents, I’m always surprised just how few people put the effort into creating an attractive environment and good impression that will appeal to potential buyers. Especially since there are so many simple and cost-effective tricks to update and smarten up your house. I’ve compiled a few points that we will certainly be doing as and when we are ready to proceed:

Neutralise the décor
So many people make the mistake to assume that their choices in colours and décor are compatible with other peoples’ tastes. But the truth is that few people will share a love for purple walls or that bright red floral wallpaper that seemed like a good idea at the time, and they might not be able to see past a loud and bright colour scheme. It’s therefore worth putting in the hours and redecorating in a more neutral colour palette, even if in your eyes magnolia is the most boring shade on earth. Once you’ve moved, you can reinstate your purples and reds as much as you like. When we bought our house we did it up pretty much from top to bottom, and we went for a neutral colour scheme anyway. Partially, because we bought the house with a future resale in mind, and partially, because taste-wise, we like the clean, calm beiges and creams anyway. So we won’t need much more than a lick of fresh paint to revive the look.

De-personalise
I think when it comes to the presentation of a home, every house needs a little bit of personality, but as with everything, less is more. Once you’ve made the decision to put the house on the market, try to detach yourself from it and remove anything that is just a little bit too personal and adds nothing to the overall impression of each room, like tons of photographs, kids’ drawings, sports trophies, your collection of porcelain figurines etc. – you get the picture. Viewers want to imagine how a room can function for them and not get distracted by other people’s junk.

De-clutter
In the same vein, keeping rooms and surfaces clean and uncluttered is also essential. It will not only create the illusion of space, but will make rooms a lot more inviting. I’m not much of a hoarder anyway and regularly declutter, but the kids’ toys are something that I will have to take a look at and find clever and stylish storage solutions for which will tidy them away effectively.

Furniture
Think about the furniture in your rooms. Are some rooms too cramped with cupboards, side-boards and oversized sofas? Or are some maybe the opposite, sparse and uninviting? It’s worth thinking about the proportions of furniture in rooms, and if necessary, storing a heavy armchair in the garage or investing in a couple of extra pieces to maximise the effect of the space.

Accessorise
Sometimes, all a room needs to look smarter and more inviting is a few clever accessories to tie everything together and add those all-important finishing touches. For our living room, I’m thinking a couple of new cushions and throws in the same colour, complemented by a scented candle here or there (in the same shade, too, if possible), and some nice new blinds to set the mood. In the kitchen, I’d probably have some fresh flowers on the table and some colour coordinated place mats and hand towels etc. as further accents. And in the bathroom, I’ll probably replace the towels and rug with new ones – again, colour coordinated – and maybe a few new storage baskets to clear away make-up items and cosmetics. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective.

Curb appeal
Finally, don’t forget the exterior of the property. After all, first impressions count, and you only have a few seconds, so make it count. After sprucing up the interior of your home, make sure to go over the outside, too, and clean up the driveway, plant fresh flowers and / or shrubs, and generally tidy up the front garden or outside space you have. If you don’t, not only will it look unappealing, but you might also create the impression that this is a huge task, which might put off potential buyers. Neither John nor I are big on gardening, so on occasion we have used the services or a local gardener who has tidied up everything for us, and we’ll certainly do that again to create the right look.

So, there you have it, my top tips for successful home staging. If you have any other quick and easy tips, I’d love to hear them, so drop me a line below.

*Collaborative Post. Picture source: Pinterest.

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13 Sep 2015

My Sunday Photo 13th September 2015


This is Alex playing with the big boys the other day. My friend was over with her two boys, nine and six years old, and they were building lots of fancy constructions out of Becky and Alex’s Duplo blocks. Naturally, Alex wanted to join in, and all three of them played really nicely, with the boys having been very patient with my little man. 


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11 Sep 2015

Life BC (Before Children)

Young Love: Gosh, how fresh faced we looked BC!

It’s fair to say that our life has changed dramatically since we’ve had kids. It wasn’t quite the colossal shock to the system with Alex as it was when we first had Becky, but still, having kids has had an impact on our lifestyle and habits like nothing else.

So in memory of my pre-mummy self, I’ve compiled a little list of Life BC (Before Children), and the contrast to life after:

Having a Lie-in:
I used to looooove my lie-ins. I can’t even begin to describe how much. In fact, my bed is my favourite place on earth, better than London, Hong Kong, New York or a remote beach in Bali put together. My weekends would be spent having 12 to 14-hour sleep-athons, and I never ever got up before 12pm on a Saturday or Sunday. Now? I’m lucky if I get seven full, uninterrupted hours, averaging more like six, and a lie-in is if the kids don’t wake me up before 7am. This, my friends, is really hard and probably the biggest sacrifice of parenthood.

Drinking a coffee – warm:
Those who know me, know that I am a coffee aficionado who can’t function without my daily
(over-) dose of caffeine. Unfortunately, the only time I can actually drink my cuppa warm and undisturbed is when I’m at work. As soon as the kids are around, I leave a trail of freshly made and gone cold coffees around the house. A sacrilege, in my book!

When I could still enjoy a drink without thinking about it. 

Nights out
This is an obvious one. It’s not the nights out per se that I miss; I miss the nights where you could go out, stay out and drink as much as you wanted, and have the luxury of nursing a hangover the next day. Fast forward to today, and nights out consist of one sneaky vino with your mummy friends down the local, where we clock-watch pedantically and keep checking our phones, paranoid that a domestic emergency is happening in our absence. And let’s not even start on having an actual hangover when having to get up at 7am and looking after two kids at the weekend. Two words: Worst. Nightmare.

Hangover. From. Hell. 

Date Nights
See above, as they are a similar scenario. It’s not just that they are a rare occasion, but when they do happen, one of us is driving so one of us is sober enough to deal with the kids if needs be, and it’s all a rather sensible and grown-up affair compared to the going-out-for-lots-of-drinks-and-letting-your- hair-down nights of the past.

Going to the toilet in private
Gone are the days where you could go about your daily business in the bathroom without a small person bothering you / following you / talking to you / trying to break the door down (insert your own scenario here). Apparently when you’re a mummy, it’s too much to ask for five minutes to yourself.

Having a bath
The last time I had a bath was when I was in labour with Becky nearly five years ago, when the midwife told me it would ease the labour pain (did it heck! But that’s another story). Actually, that’s a lie. I had a bath in Moscow of all places, during a press trip in September 2013, where I stayed in the swish Radisson hotel and seized the opportunity for a child-free and uninterrupted soak. Other than that, I’m lucky if I manage to jump in the shower for two minutes and wash my hair without a small child bothering me / following me / talking to me /  trying to break the door down (see above).  

Wearing a “normal” bag
Gone are the days when I could just go out with a nice handbag carrying my phone, purse, keys, a hair brush and maybe some lipstick. Now I can’t go anywhere without my changing bag and 100-plus kiddie paraphernalia contained in it. And you can bet your last pennies that the one thing I end up needing won’t be in it anyway!

Travelling light
In the same vein, travelling with just an elegant suitcase and nothing else is a thing of the past. When we travel now, we need to take prams, car seats, suitcases and travel bags each, hand luggage, toys, ipads, sticker books, story books, clothes for all weather conditions - basically everything but the kitchen sink. Even if it’s just for an overnight stay with the grandparents  - we may as well be moving house.

This was just a little weekend trip. 

Travelling overseas
I’m not saying this is impossible with kids, but I, for one, don’t fancy going on a long-haul flight with two little ones, especially not with Alex. It’s bad enough when I take them to Germany on my own a couple of times a year, and that’s just over an hour’s flight. So our dream destinations of China, Japan and Vietnam have to wait a few more years at least, and Cornwall, even if it’s rainy, it is for the time being.

John and I on honeymoon, road tripping through California. 

Relaxing weekends
As I said above, weekends BC consisted of lie-ins, nights out, cosy nights in - basically doing what the hell we wanted or didn’t want to do, and being lazy and relaxing was one of the best things about weekends. I was, as they say, living for the weekend. Now, weekends are hard work. Much harder work than my working week. Because I have two lively kids at home, who want entertaining from dusk till dawn, need ferrying around from ballet to play dates, and where we cram lots of stuff into the two days a week to have quality family time. Forget “Fri-yay”. Am I the only one who is glad when it’s Sunday night, safe in the knowledge that “Mon-yay” is only one sleep away?

Reading a book
I'm an avid reader, at least I used to be. No Kindle or reading app has ever come close to the enjoyment I get out of owning and finishing actual books. However, this too has taken a step back. I'm either too tired to read a book, or have got absolutely no time to cram this into my schedule. I barely manage to read all the blogs I want, but at least they come in bite-size format that even my baby brain can deal with. 

Being spontaneous
Ok, I’m German. I like things to be orderly and I like to plan and know things in advance. So I may not have been that spontaneous before, but at least it was nice to be able to do things on a whim and without much preparation. These days I can’t even pop to the corner shop without logistical precision and kids in tow, bribing them with sweets and mini toys to be patient.

So this is my run-down of all that’s changed since I’ve become a Mummy. Would I trade my two kids to have this life back? No way! Despite everything, my kids are worth every little change and sacrifice. But it’s nice to reminisce and think of all the stuff we could do and never appreciated at the time.

What’s changed for you since having little ones? Let me know in the comments below.

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9 Sep 2015

First Day At School


So, Becky has officially started school today. Excitement levels had been rising in our house over the last few days, and when she woke up this morning, she literally couldn’t wait until she could put on her shiny new school uniform. I had to calm her down a bit, as the induction process of her school sees that reception children start on a staggered schedule, only spending three hours per day there for the first few weeks, and Becky was allocated the afternoon slot, so she had all morning to pass before we could finally get ready.

I have to say, even though I had a massive lump in my throat when she was dressed in her uniform at how grown up and beautiful she looked, I haven’t been quite as emotional about it today as I expected. Maybe a bit melancholic and sentimental, but I think I’ve made my peace with her starting school, even though it does feel like such a milestone.

However, it’s hard to be emotional and dwell on it for too long when you witness the excitement and anticipation of your little girl. It may have taken me a while to get used to the idea that Becky will start school this September, at only 4 years old – in Germany kids don’t start school until they are at least six, many are actually seven – but I have to acknowledge and accept that she is soooo ready for it. And I’m happy for her.

We had a home visit by her reception teacher and teaching assistant last week, and she got to know them a little already, and her school is on our way to her old nursery anyway, so it’s not an unfamiliar place. And a few of her older friends are already at the school, hence she is just happy that she will be seeing them and hasn’t felt any sense of apprehension about starting there.

So today, after lunch, we got ready, and I walked her to school. We had a lovely chat going up, and she kept skipping and chanting “I’m starting school today” all the way. Being German, I left in good time to make sure we’re punctual, even though it’s only a ten minute walk *ahem*, so we were the first ones outside the school. But then the other children and their parents began to arrive, including Becky’s “best friends” (she has many, bless her) Austina, Amelia and Fraser, and a big, excited hug-fest ensued, while us Mums and Dads looked at each other a little nervously.

But, predictably with Becky, I needn’t have been nervous; as soon as the doors opened, she just marched straight into her classroom, as if she’d never been anywhere else, and started chatting to her teacher before finding her peg and drawer and placing her bags and PE kit in the allocated spaces.
And then her and Austina started exploring the classroom and playing with some of the toys, and I was quickly forgotten and redundant. Which is fine. I’m so glad she is how she is.

So I gave her a quick kiss, said “ I love you” and then left her to it, pondering just what a momentous new chapter this is for her – and for us – and what a remarkable and brave personality she has. I’m so proud of her.

When I picked her up after her first session, she was beaming from ear to ear and didn’t stop chatting away, telling me everything she did at school. I may be a bit sad that my little girl is growing up, but how can you stay blue for long when you’re met by such enthusiasm and zest for life?

I really hope she will enjoy school, have a lovely time and look back at these years as a positive experience, just like I did. I loved everything about school and have some of the best memories – and friends! – from that time, and I hope, that in twenty years’ time or so, she will still be friends with Austina, Amelia, Maya & Co and remember this day and the very many to come. 

Doesn't she look so grown up and smart? 

This is a little German tradition: In Germany kids who start school receive a big "school cone" full of sweets, and my Mum and Dad, who were still over since Alex's Christening, made sure she had one, too. Naturally, I'm having my work cut out stopping her munching down all the sweets in one go!

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6 Sep 2015

My Sunday Photo - 6th September 2015


This is a picture from Alex’s christening last Sunday, taken in the pub after the ceremony. I love this shot – Alex and his little friend Annabelle, who is seven months old and looked absolutely lovely on the day, too. They looked like just the perfect little baby couple, having a casual chat, and it’s almost like Belle is saying: “Hey Alex, check out my toy! It’s awesome!”. And Alex is playing it cool. It’s one of those shots that will make me smile forever. 


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5 Sep 2015

Alex, 13 months


I’m a little late this month with Alex’s update, what with everything we’ve had on the last few weeks and August having been such a busy time. But - my little boy is now 13 months, and it’s fair to say that he is blossoming with every week.

He recently had his one year review, which confirmed that he is right on track development –wise, scoring full points in every category apart from standing in the middle of the room unaided, but I’m not bothered about that. He’s almost walking now, pulling himself up like a little champ and cruising along the furniture, and on occasion he lets go and stands for a mille-second on his own, so I don’t think it will be long before he’s off properly.

Even though it was nice to hear officially that Alex is meeting all of his developmental milestones, I’m not too bogged down on official stats and percentiles – I can see that he is thriving, and that’s the most important thing, whether he starts walking at 8 months or 16.

He was weighed though, and I was surprised to learn that he is actually a lot lighter than I thought. Becky was such a petite little girlie – still is – whereas he is such a bruiser of a boy, so we assumed that he’d be way up there on the 12 kg or 24lb mark, but he weighs, in fact, only 9.9kg or 21lb and is still only between the 25th and 50th percentile, according to the HV. And he’s 76 cm tall, which I believe is a fair bit taller than Becky was, but I will have to dig up her red book and check.

He now also has 11 teeth in total, they are coming thick and fast. Some days he seems a little bothered by it and is a bit grizzly, but most days he seems fine, which is good. I love his toothy grin, it’s so cute.

His speech is coming on brilliantly, too, and he now has quite the array of sounds in his repertoire. I could listen to him all day, I think it’s the cutest thing in the world.

He’s such a happy and funny chappy, and everyone always comments on how he never cries, which is true. He only really cries if he has hurt himself  - which tends to happen more often now, as he is mobile and very nosy, so he keeps sticking his hands and fingers where he shouldn’t, often in split seconds before we have the chance to react. I’m not going to lie, it’s intense, and I had forgotten just how hard work this stage is. I’m perpetually exhausted and have to be so on my toes to prevent him from harm and keep him out of mischief, but at the same time I don’t mind. I know I will be sad when this stage is over, so I’m trying to take things in my stride and enjoy every minute of my clever, funny and gorgeous boy. 
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2 Sep 2015

Alex's Christening


Alex’s christening took place at the weekend, and it was an absolutely lovely day. Three of our closest and oldest friends became his godparents, among them one of my childhood friends from Germany. She had come all the way with her two boys to attend this special day and become Alex’s godmother, which I’m really grateful for, as I never take any of my German friends traveling to the UK for granted.

For some reason we only have a few snapshots of the day. I think we were so busy with preparations and life generally in the run-up to the day, that photography simply became an after-thought. And, understandably, we weren’t allowed to take shots during the ceremony anyway. Saying that, we have at least a few nice images that we can look back on.

The ceremony was relatively brief, with the vicar giving an informal sermon about the significance and symbolism of a Christening, and I feel he struck a nice balance between "worldly" and religious, before proceeding with the actual baptism. Becky was allowed to pour water from the river Jordan into the fountain, and later on she was given additional big sister duties by holding the candle on Alex’s behalf. She loved being part of the ceremony, and we all thought it was a lovely touch.

After the christening we went for a nice meal and afterwards everyone came back to our house. It was only a small, intimate affair with close friends and family, but it was a happy and jolly day that we will treasure.

And Alex just looked like a dude, don’t you think? (Or like an English Gentleman, as my Mum said).

Alex and his godparents. He was clearly a little bewildered at this stage as to
what the fuss was all about.


I love this shot - I think it's so funny. As if Alex is saying: "Who on earth are you?"


My Mum and Alex. 

Alex and "Oma & Opa". At this point he was tired and hungry and visibly fed up, bless him. 

More pictures, and Alex is not impressed. 

But at least he's happy here with his lovely godmother.

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