27 Sep 2016

Reading and bonding with my boy

I have always loved reading, and I'm kind of obsessed with books - you know, the real, paper, hard copy type ones (remember those?), not electronic or Kindle versions and all this new age stuff (how old do I sound?!). I like my books to be old fashioned, physical objects that I can keep, display and cherish in my bookcases around the house. I never borrow books, either - I like to own the books that I have read, almost like a little memento, or trophy if you like, it's kind of "my thing".

So reading to Becky has always been a big part of our time together, and this now also translates to Alex. He has always shown an interest in books , listening carefully when I read to Becky, but as he is growing, his own passion for books is really developing, too. At the grand age of two, my little boy is absolutely obsessed with books and is a right little bookworm - unusually so for a boy, many people comment, including his nursery carers, who seem amazed by his interest in books.

Nothing entertains him for longer or calms him down better when he's upset than to sit down, snuggle up and read a book.

And I so cherish these moments.

Especially at bedtime, as this is the only time in the working week that we really get to spend some one-on-one quality time together, but also all these random moments when he just brings me a bunch of his books and demands to be read to; lazy Sunday mornings, snuggled up under a blanket on the couch; on a rainy Saturday afternoon, spreading out with his sister and all our books on the living room carpet and reading one after another.

It's so nice to see how into the stories he is and how animated he gets, and he loves it when I make silly voices and noises. I think reading to your kids is one of the most important aspects of parenting, and one of the loveliest things to bond over. Moreover, it's so good for their emotional and cognitive development and builds the foundations for their future literacy, whilst also tapping into their imagination and creativity.

I hope he will keep this interest in books forever - and that we have many more of these moments of reading and bonding together.

What's your favourite bonding activity with your kids?


15 Sep 2016

Siblings September 2016

We've had a lovely summer as a family and it’s been so lovely witnessing the relationship between my little pair. Now that Alex is two and has started to talk and express his wishes, likes and dislikes quite vehemently, the dynamic between Alex and Becky seems to be changing a little, too. It's evident that it's intensifying and developing, and  they have a really tight bond and a lot of love for each other.

Alex still idolises his big sister; when she's at home, he'll always try to spend as much time with and around her as possible, he'll join into what she does (invited or not), and especially when we're out and about, he'll copy what she does. He's a very affectionate little boy anyway, but he has now started to randomly go up to Becky, too, and give her spontaneous cuddles and kisses, which were mostly reserved for me. But I don't mind, of course!

His other obvious sign of affection is that he'll go and pick a play fight with Becky; he'll go and tickle her and then he'll plant himself on her, and they are usually both in fits of giggles. It's really funny to watch!

I think Becky's attitude towards her brother is also changing; she's seeing him more and more like her little buddy now. They have proper little conversations together, and Becky constantly talks to him, explains things or encourages him or involves him in many of her activities, which is lovely. A few of the pictures below were taken at a playground, and she was all over Alex, trying to pick him up all the time, helping him to dangle from the monkey bars (which he obviously had to try, because his sister was on them, even though he's really too small), and she always insists on going down the slide with him, too.

But the thing that most makes my heart burst with pride and joy is that neither will go to bed without giving the other a kiss goodnight, and in the mornings they give each other a big hug, too, as if they haven’t seen each other for ages! It is so heart warming.

I can't wait to experience the next chapters in this blossoming relationship.

Linking up with the #SiblingsProject

14 Sep 2016

Review: Oral B Advance Power Kids Toothbrush

I’ve been talking to a few of my mummy friends lately about the dental hygiene of our kids – random, I know! Think it’s got something to do with the fact that our little ones are starting to lose their first teeth and all (I’m bracing myself for the day the tooth fairy comes to our house; Becky can’t wait!). And when I mention that we have been using an electric toothbrush for Becky since her 5th birthday, there’s always a lot of interest in that, so I thought I’d put together a little review in case anyone else is thinking of upgrading to one.

Just to pre-empt, this is not a sponsored post, and I’m not a brand ambassador for Oral B in any shape or form (though I should be, judging by the amount of people I have converted! Ha!) – not that that would influence my opinion anyway. But ever since my dentist recommended to me to start using an electric toothbrush around 2 ½ years ago, it’s really revolutionised my life - yes, that dramatic! – and I have become a little evangelical about it.

I can’t describe how clean my teeth feel after using the Oral B (I have the Oral B Pro 4000, in case you’re wondering), and since I’ve started using it, I’ve got John, my parents and John’s parent on to this, too, and they all love it as much as me.

So when I discovered that Oral B do a kids version, and that it’s available in pink and a Disney Princess design, I knew that Becky would love it, too. It’s recommended from 5 years upwards, which was the perfect timing, as we started using it on Becky when she had just turned 5. And what can I say? It's as brilliant as I'd hoped.

It has a smaller brush head than the adult version and performs really thorough cleaning through 5600 side-to-side movements per minute. It also has a two minute timer, which is great, so even when I’m not standing over Becky to make sure she brushes her teeth properly, she knows how long to brush for.

It has honestly made such a difference to the tooth-brushing experience. Becky loves using it – obviously primarily because it’s pink and features Disney Princesses – but also because she sees Mummy and Daddy using theirs, and I think it makes her feel all grown up having her own electric tooth brush. I’m also reassured that her teeth are brushed properly, because there isn’t much that she can do wrong, as the toothbrush takes care of everything automatically. I usually let her do her own teeth in the morning, without much supervision, so she learns to do it properly herself and to be in charge of her dental care, and in the evenings I usually go over her teeth one more time, just to make sure that we have covered all nooks and crannies.

So far, at each dentist appointment, her dentist has been very impressed with Becky’s teeth – no tooth decay or nothing there, which I think is a good result for our little sweet tooth!

We have got the battery powered one for Becky, and we are perfectly happy with it. There is a rechargeable version available, too, I believe, but I almost find the battery one more practical, as it takes two AA batteries and we’ve only ever had to replace the batteries after three months of use day in, day out, two times a day, which I think is pretty good going! And with a purchase price of £9.66 (we got ours from Amazon – bargain!), this has easily been one of the best purchases for Becky so far.

The toothbrush comes also in a boy’s version – I’ve seen an Avengers one, a Disney Cars one, a Star Wars one, and a Mickey Mouse style – and for girls there are the Disney Princesses and a Frozen version, too, so there’s plenty of choice for each taste.

When Alex is big enough, we will definitely be using it on him, too, as I can thoroughly recommend it.


6 Sep 2016

I'm A Year 1 Mum!

So it was Becky's first day back at school yesterday; her first day in Year 1! And what a difference a year makes.

While Becky happily skipped off to join her friends in the new class-room at the other end of the building, giving me a quick kiss and wave goodbye, I recalled what I had felt like this time last year.

Not only was I extremely emotional about my little girl joining big school, but I was also really scared as to how she would take to it, and I felt very insecure about the whole thing. I found the school run overwhelming and stressful (still do the latter; some things just won't ever change, I guess), I didn't really know what I was supposed to do when and where, which bag to bring on which day, and so on ... It's fair to say that the first few weeks of Reception were a steep learning curve.

Fast forward to September 2016, and I feel like a school mum pro! Whilst still stressful, the school run didn't half faze me like it used to; everyone was dressed and ushered out of the house by 8.25am - a little bit early even! Get me! - and at nursery and the school gates on time. *I'll glance over the fact that I didn't have the correct change for Becky's toast money, ahem, but hey, you can't win them all, haha!*

There were friendly "Hi-s" and "Hello-s" exchanged between all of us School Mums and School Dads, quick catch-ups about our summers in those cases where we hadn't seen each other for playdates in between, and just a quick glance through the window to be certain that Becky was ok (which, as always, she was) as opposed to the loitering around outside for ages, just to make sure that Becky wasn't calling for me (which she never did!).

It feels like I know what I'm doing now, and it feels good. The nervous wreck that I was last year has been replaced with confident Mummy, who's just glad that we are finally returning to our normal routine and structure. I no longer question whether Becky is ready for big school - she so is; she so always was. Only that her Mummy wasn't.

But now I am. Bring on Year 1.


5 Sep 2016

Ankle Boots: Working Mum Style

We're now steaming ahead through September, and even though I am still trying to cling on to the last few days of summer, the onset of autumn is undeniably palpable. I can't say that I'm not sad to see summer go; we've had a lovely time and made some precious memories as a family. And deep down I'm very much a summer, beach and sunshine kind of gal. That said, there is a distinct benefit of the change in seasons - it's the perfect excuse to update your wardrobe and invest in some key staples, right?

As I've grown older, my taste and buying behaviour have changed a lot; whereas when I was younger, it was more about trends and fast fashion, I am now a lot more discerning about what I buy, and rather than clogging up my cupboards with lots of things I never wear or only wear once, I'm more about the capsule wardrobe, with fewer, but more carefully chosen items that I can mix and match and dress up and down, depending on what I need and feel like on the day. And of course, these days I tend to spend most of my money on the kids rather than myself anyway, so it's no surprise that my wardrobe is a bit more... selective, shall I say.

Boots, however, are one of those staples that are absolutely crucial to my autumn / winter style. Ankle boots, to be exact. Throughout the colder months I pretty much live in them. I've never been a big riding boots or knee-length boots fan (sadly my calves are not made for full-length styles!), but ankle boots are a different story.

I usually alter between two styles: heels and flats. Heels, because I work full time, and sometimes you just have to look that bit more dressed up for meetings or business appointments, and I find a heeled ankle boot to be the perfect companion to any outfit - they instantly smarten up a look, even if it's jeans-based or a casual dress.

The second - probably the most important - style are flats. They are my absolute day to day essentials, and vital for the school run, as well as my off-duty (and let's face it, often even on-duty) and weekend look.

These two pairs of boots are both from Heavenly Soles at JD Williams and tick all the right boxes. They are both made of the most beautiful, supple leather (an absolute must for me; sorry to all the vegans out there, but when it comes to bags and shoes, I ONLY do real leather; I have a real aversion against fake and PU leather), and they are extremely comfy, even the heeled style. It's 3 1/2 inches high, so still on the wearable side, and the fact that it's a block heel ensures that even I can comfortably walk in them without wobbling or falling over myself.

And the flat Chelsea boots? What can I say. They, too, are absolutely fab,from the pull-on elastic to the rounded toe, and I love the gold metal wrap detail on the heel, which is an extra eye-catcher.
Below I've put together my go-to-looks for the office and for the school run.

Look 1: The Office
Even though I love dresses, I have embraced this season's midi skirt trend whole-heartedly. I picked up this pleated skirt in ASOS a couple of months ago, and I loved the bright pink of it. I've mostly worn it with flat or heelend sandals, but teaming it with the boots totally works, too, and will extend the life-span of the skirt from summer into autumn, as I can dress it up with a nice black jumper and use the pink of the skirt as a much needed colour pop. I'll finish off the look with a floral scarf and my cute satchel bag, which I'm totally in love with.

    Outfit details: Skirt: Asos, Boots: Heavenly Soles, Scarf: Becksondergaard, Satchel bag: Riani 

Look 2: School run
My mornings are usually manic, as I have to get Alex off to nursery and Becky to school (on time!) before work, and often this involves a lot of shouting (from me and the munchkins) and rushing and shoving the kids in and out of the car and into their respective destinations. So comfort is key here. My standard school run look is usually jeans, and lately I have been unashamedly rocking double denim (don't judge!). I try to steer clear from blue on blue denim combos, but my black jeans and my favourite blue Pepe Jeans denim shirt (similar here) make the look wearable and effortless, and not a tragic 80s throwback (I hope, at least!). Again, the boots finish off the outfit perfectly - I'd like to think it gives me a casual cool style (and I don't often describe myself as "cool" haha!) - like I can still rock a trend, even as a Mum of two! Again, I top off the look with a complementing scarf (I just love them!), and my favourite satchel bag.

    Outfit details: Jeans: Asos, Shirt: Pepe London, Boots: Heavenly Soles, Scarf: Sud Express, 
    Satchel Bag: Riani

What do you think? What are your autumn / winter wardrobe and footwear staples? And which looks are you rocking this season?

*Collaborative post. 


1 Sep 2016

My August 2016

It's the 1st of September, which means we're in the final few days of school holidays - yay! I can't say that I'm not looking forward to getting a sense of normality and routine back (even though I actually despise the stress and rush of the school run itself), and I think all school parents need to give themselves a big pat on the back for having survived six weeks of jollies and  - if you're a working parent - juggling job and childcare while keeping the little ones happy and entertained. Yay, we did it!

Therefore, August was very much defined by family time and trips to the beaches in beautiful Dorset and Somerset. We decided not to go abroad this year, and to not book anything in the UK in advance following our almost washout holiday to Cornwall last year, but just to do spontaneous day and overnight trips, depending on the weather and our mood. And we had a fabulous time; the weather played ball for once, and the kids loved getting muddy and sandy  - and so did we. In the picture above I have pulled together my favourite shots of the month. They are just a really nice memento of this summer and some lovely moments and memories we made as a family.

So whilst we spent the majority of the time day and road tripping, we also spent a weekend visiting our friends from uni in Cambridge and had a little reunion with a couple of other friends there. We all have kids of a similar age now, and they all got on really well, so it was just a lovely and relaxed (and a little bit drunken!Pssst!) get-together.

Then my parents came over for a week, and again, it was lovely to spend some quality time with them, especially the kids, who enjoyed the attention they got from my Mum and Dad. *And my Mum did all my ironing and Mum and Dad did our gardening, which was a big bonus, too, ahem!*.

All in all, August was a lovely month, and I'm sad to see summer go. It's my birthday in September, and as lovely as that is, it also means that I'm always acutely aware of how the years are racing by. I'm all the more glad that I have all these memories and this little diary to look back on!
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