Thursday, 30 October 2014

Trendy Thursday - Blah Blah Blah

My boys have pretty much been wearing the same thing on repeat over the last week, their Whistle & Flute ghost tops.. so I'm kinda struggling to have an outfit to show off this week!

Felix wore his Donna Wilson Blah Blah Blah leggings for the first time the other day.  I LOVE THEM!! They look adorable and the material is SOOOOO soft.  Just lovely.

Donna Wilson leggings

I spent the day enjoying looking at them but when I took them off at the end of the day I discovered they were covered in holes!! When I found the first hole I thought he must have snagged them on something but in total I found 8 holes, all over the leggings.  I think it must be some fault with the material.  Sad :-(  I tweeted John Lewis though and they reassured me I can get them replaced if I take them back to a store- a mission for half term!

What have your monkeys been wearing this week?  Link up below!  Don't forget to comment here and on other's who link up!  Please link back to me in your blog post :-)

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

A Visit To Old Down Country Park

It's half term.  It's raining.  What shall we do?  How about a trip down memory lane!

Years ago I used to be involved in guiding.  My Mum ran a Brownie pack and I used to help her.  Every year I would attend the pack holiday.  Many times we took the pack to Woodhouse Park in Bristol.  Whilst there we would take the Brownies on a day trip to Old Down Country Park, a place with an adventure playground and lots of farm animals to meet.

The last time we went on one of these pack holidays was 13 years ago now.  Since that time I don't think I've really given one thought to Old Down and I don't think Mum really has either.  However, we were trying to come up with a half term day trip, somewhere we could take a 17 month old and a 5 year old that they would both enjoy.. and Mum suggested: "What about that place we used to take the Brownies?".

Well, today we made that trip!  Old Down Country Park is in Thornbury, Bristol.  It's only about a 45 minute drive away.  It seems crazy that we've not thought about taking the boys before.. The forecast for the day wasn't great, but the thought of spending a day cooped inside with the boys didn't appeal.  We wanted to get out.

We arrived at Old Down to find it VERY quiet.  It seemed that the weather had kept the crowds away.  It has to be said it's a very outdoors place, there isn't much to be done inside.  I supposed that would keep most people away when the rains set in!  However, it worked in our favor.  The fact it was so quiet made it a very pleasant day.  Yes, it was rainy.  It was even cold despite yesterdays attempt at an Indian Summer.  There was plenty for us to see and do and when the cold and rain got too much, the cafe was a welcome retreat.

There are several play areas with a variety of activities; ride on cars, trampolines, swings, climbing frames, play houses, a zip wire.  There are all of the farm animals you'd expect including a gorgeous peacock and very friendly goats!

Old Down Country Park


The cafe is a real winner.  It was lovely and warm inside with two log burners (they only had one on the go and it was very cosy!).  Low lit with twinkly fairy lights and loads of delicious homemade fares, it really made me happy!  We had lunch there and were impressed with the wide choice of food.  Everything we ordered was tasty and didn't take too long to arrive.  We popped back to the cafe in the afternoon to warm up with a hot drink and I was very happy to see a Pumpkin Spice Latte on the menu - yum!  A fantastic cake selection as well.

We loved Old Down.  I had a lovely day with my boys, I feel really happy and content this evening and I just know that I will look back on this day as being a truly happy one.  One of those gorgeous warm memories that you cling to in tough times.  One of those memories you relive again and again.

Thanks Old Down!  We plan to be back soon!


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Boo! Halloween Fashion - Trendy Thursday

Whistle & Flute are one of our favorite brands.  My boys both have one of their cloud print tops which always look amazing.

A while ago W&F posted a picture on Instagram which got Ethan and I very excited - they were making a ghost print tee for Halloween!  Not any old print either, one that glows in the dark!  I ordered as soon as they went live and about three weeks ago our tees arrived in the post!

Whistle and Flute Boo! Halloween Top


Since then, Ethan hasn't wanted to take his off.  He was worn it all weekend for two weekends on the trot.  If he weren't in school, I'm pretty sure it would have been on him all week!  He's obsessed with it, he hugs it, kisses it, tells me how much he loves his ghost!!

Whistle and Flute Boo! Halloween Top


Felix is equally taken with his but a little less vocal.  He does say Wooooo! when he sees himself in the mirror though.

Ethan has already told me he'll be wearing his ghost top on the big day itself, along with his bat cape and superhero mask from Velveteen Babies.

I thought I'd share a few Halloween inspired picks from some other favorite brands:

H&M:

H&M Halloween Fashion


George at Asda and Hello Apparel:

Kids Halloween Fashion Hello Apparel George at Asda

You can always rely on H&M and George to come up with the goods for holidays, and for bargain prices as well!  The Hello Apparel top is awesome, I'd love that for my boys - it has a glow in the dark ghost!

Do your kids dress up for Halloween?  Are you having a party? Going Trick or Treating?  Well, whatever you get up to, if you have a kids fashion post, please do link up below!  Don't forget to link back to my blog, comment here and on other linked posts!  Thanks!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Trendy Thursday - hand printed chic!

Last Thursday I had a few precious hours to myself and I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  For ages now I've been inspired by hand printed items by Woody & Florence and the hand made look of clothing lines such as Bobo Choses and Beau Loves.  I really wanted to print a few items for the boys to wear and these were the results:


I have to say I was quite pleased with the results! Felix has already worn a couple of the vests underneath outfits and I think they really added a cool edge!


Ruffle collar - Polarn O Pyret
Kawaii Cloud Vest - Whistle & Flute
Harlequin leggings - Rock Your Baby
Moccasins - Belle & The Bear


Snake Vest - Mini Rodini
Harlequin leggings - H&M
Socks - Bebedepino via Gnome & Post

Have you made any hand printed items for your children?  Or any other handmade items?

If you've got a kids fashion post, link it up below!  Please don't forget to comment here, link back to my blog and visit others who join in!


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Back on the pills..

It's no secret I've been struggling in the last few weeks.  I've written about it a few times.  I had an appointment with the Dr this week, I'd decided it was time for action.

For the last 5 years I've been on and off medication for anxiety and PND.  Every time I come off them I feel somehow this will be the time I'll manage to cope, to not have to go back on them again.  Really, I shouldn't care.  If someone is diabetic, they take the medication they need to be healthy.  It should be the same for people with mental health problems.. and yet somehow, it isn't.  There is still a part of me that feels I "should" be able to cope without medication.  After all, exactly what is it about my life that is so hard?

Enough.

I really need to learn how to relax.  How to accept who I am.  To lean to do nothing.  It's good to want to be motivated, to work hard, but right now I have two young children, one of whom doesn't sleep though the night and sometimes only naps for 20 minutes a day.  I have very little time to myself.  Even blogging is hard to fit in.

Back to my Doctors appointment.  I explained how I've been feeling, but it was a forgone conclusion really, I was going to go back on medication.  I wouldn't have made the appointment if I didn't want to go back on them.  This time I'm trying Setraline.  Previously I've been prescribed Citaolpram and whilst I think it helped me, it never completely rid me of that nervous anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I thought it would be worth seeing if something else would do a better job for me and the doc agreed.

I took my first pill this morning.  I must admit I was a bit scared.  First of all, there's the knowledge that once you start the pills there is a likelihood that you will feel worse for the first 2 weeks.  Beyond that, it can take up to 6 weeks before you feel any better.  Whilst it's good to know that I should start to feel better in the long run, it's scary to know I might well feel worse first.  Then, there's the other side effects that tend to be worse in the first few weeks; nausea, insomnia, dizziness, feeling spaced out.  I've suffered from these before when starting to take citalopram so I know there's a chance this may be the case again.  The thought of having to carry on looking after the boys whilst feeling like this is worrying....

Day one is nearly over.  So far, I've not felt too much in the way of side effects.  I've felt some nausea but it eased when I ate.  I feel tired, but that's not surprising as I'm only managing about 4 hours sleep at night just now anyway...  I feel good that I've taken the first pill.  It's the first step to feeling better again I hope.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Trendy Thursday - Animalicious!

Lookee! Lookee!! Our first Pray 4 Trax necklace arrived!  I must admit, as was pointed out to me on Instagram, that I said I was buying these necklaces as stocking fillers for the boys, but when this one arrived the other day (and I knew just from the packaging what it was) I couldn't help getting it out and having a good look.  Felix saw it and wanted to put it on.  I could quite easily hide it away and put it in his stocking if it was just him, he's too young to say anything on Christmas Day.. Ethan has also seen it though and he would definitely think something was up if it came out of Felix's stocking.  I don't want to ruin Father Christmas for him so I think the necklace will have to stay out.  Oh dear!!

MarMar Copenhagen, Cissy Wears, Pray4Trax, Belle and The Bear, Bebe De Pino


Felix has also been sporting his MarMar Copenhagen leopard print suit this week and wow, I think he looks adorable in it!  Hubby likened him to Bet Lynch.  Whatever.  I have to admit there is a passing resemblance - platinum blond, animal print.. and he does like to hold a twig in his mouth rather like a cigarette...

MarMar Copenhagen, Cissy Wears, Pray4Trax, Belle and The Bear, Bebe De Pino

Leopard print suit - MarMar Copenhagen via CissyWears
Socks - BebeDePino via Gnome & Post

The curls and animal print do, as with much of what he wears, make him even more likely to be referred to has she and her, but whatever, I think he looks awesome, and he's comfy and happy!

What have your little trendsetters been sporting this week?  Link up below, tweet me and don't forget to link back and comment!

Before I go - have you seen my amazing Instagram giveaway?  If you like kids style and fashion, it's for you!





Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Being a stay at home parent is HARD.

I've been a stay at home Mum for over 5 years now and do you know what? It's hard.  Bloody hard.  Being a parent is hard full stop, but there's another element to being a stay at home parent.  Somehow, it's like you loose your identity.  You are Mum (or Dad) and that's about it.  Teachers will refer to you as Mum.  The dentist will refer to you as Mum.  Strangers in the street will refer to you as Mum.  Your own bloody Mum will refer to you as Mum.

Mum.

MUM,


EFFING BLOODY MUM.
Please, don't get me wrong, I love being Mum to my boys (or Mama as they call me).  It truly is the best and most rewarding thing I've ever done.  I don't regret it.  I'm just finding it hard.

I've always found being a Mum hard.  Having PND after having Ethan was the first hurdle.  Beyond that, I've always been an anxious person and so I find the day to day life of looking after first one and now two boys stressful.

Sometimes I think to myself, just what is it exactly that I'm finding stressful?  I don't get paid for what I do, I don't have a boss or have get a report in on time.  But when I evaluate each moment of the day, I find that it is full of stress.  Full of worry.  And I never go home from the job.  I can't even pee in peace.  Weekends, whilst being lovely family time, are no break.  My kids are my colleagues and they are always there.  They even come on bloody holiday with me - the cheek!!

Every day my head is reeling, I'm obsessing over somehow finding the "perfect" way to make my day with the boys somehow run like clockwork.  In my head life is a puzzle and I just need to find the right formula to achieve perfection.  But these are children I'm dealing with, little people.  They aren't going to conform!  It's like every day I get up and set myself up for failure and at the end of the day go to bed with my head held low, shameful after my day of underachievement.

Logically I know that trying to achieve perfection is ridiculous, especially when it comes to looking after children!  My day is boringly predictable yet at the same time impossible to predict.  What time will Felix nap?  Will he eat his food today or chuck it on the floor?  Will Ethan be happy when I pick him up from school?  Will anyone sleep through the night?

It's all so mundane.

That sounds contrite... Again, let me reiterate.  I love my children.  I love being able to bring them up but my God, I truly never realized how hard it was going to be.  I've dedicated my life to them and I still don't feel it's enough.  That I'm enough.

My husband says to me I need to relax more.  Do less.  Even the blog.  I love this blog.  I am amazed that people read and comment.  It's a lifeline for me.. but at times, it's also a bind.  I feel pressure to publish posts, to have something to say.  I know that in order to be able to cope with the days looking after the boys I need to have downtime in the evening where I do nothing much beyond vegging in front of the TV or reading a book.. but the trouble is the voice in my head.

It says:

"If ALL you do is look after kids and watch TV, who are you?  What is your worth?  What defines you?  You really are JUST Mum".

I spend much of my day fantasising about the future.  Or the past.  I sometimes even fantasise about the terrible job I had before I had Ethan.  The mind numbingly boring, tedious and pretty much pointless admin role I held.  God, that job used to drive me to distraction, it was so boring... but oh!  The thought of just being able to complete a task without interruption.  Or complete something full stop.  Or not have to do something at 1am because it was the only quiet time available.

What's the answer?  I don't know.  Maybe I'm not cut out for this stay at home Mum malarky.  But I just don't know what else I'd do!  What job could I get that would fit around school hours and pay enough to cover childcare costs?  Truthfully, I don't so much want to go back to work, I want to enjoy what I'm doing.  I want it to be as fulfilling as we're told it will be.  I'd like to have the time to dedicate to my blog, to see if I could really make it go places.  To make some money out of doing something I love would be amazing!

I know that lack of sleep and anxiety feed off each other and that as my boys aren't the best sleepers, I'm very susceptible to low mood due to sleep deprivation.  I'm going back to the Drs next week.  It might be time to go back on the pills.

That's another thing.  When I admit to myself that I'm not coping, that maybe I need something else to help me through these tough toddler days, my head very helpfully holds a Stones gig in my head, the opening song being Mothers Little Helper:


"Kids are different today", I hear every mother say
Mother needs something today to calm her down
And though she's not really ill, there's a little yellow pill
She goes running for the shelter of a mother's little helper
And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day"


Helpful, hey?  Honestly, I'm my own worst enemy.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Happy 1st Birthday Skellywear! Win a £50 spend!

Our newest sponsor is the lovely online cool kids retailer Skellywear. I'm super proud to be sponsored by Skellywear but that's not the only exciting news - today is their 1st birthday!  One whole year of supplying cool stuff to parents and kids!



Not heard of Skellywear?  Well, if you love funky kids clothes and cute toys, you'll love them.  The lovely lady behind Skellywear is Leonie.  She felt that the high-street offerings for children were far too mainstream, boring and full of gender stereotypes - something I tend to agree with!  Leonie looked for alternatives and decided to create her own shop as a solution!  Proactive lady!  Brands stocked include Corby Tindersticks, Naked Lunge, Dunns, Cute Graffiti.




To celebrate the birthday, Leonie is offering the chance for one reader to win a £50 spend at Skellywear. There's only one prize, but don't feel too down, for the next week you can get 20% off your order using the code happy at checkout.

The competition will run for two weeks from today and you can enter below using the rafflecopter below. Please note that once a winner has been picked at random using rafflecopter I will be checking that all of the steps have been followed correctly (i.e. for an entry you can follow Skellywear on twitter - I will check the name chosen is following).  This isn't to be mean and petty but to keep things fair.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Trendy Thursday - Curls Gone Wild!

Ooo, we love a Kenzie Jaws design in our house!  Kenzie's designs were one of the first to pop out at me on Instagram and I've been a fan for over a year now I think.  Both of my boys have a couple of her tees.  Last week we took delivery of one that I've wanted for Felix for ages.  Really, it couldn't be more perfect for him!

Let me present Curls Gone Wild!

Curls Gone Wild Kenzie Jaws

Curls Gone Wild Kenzie Jaws

Go on, be honest, it couldn't suit him more, could it?!  It has to be said that most of the children I've seen wearing this tee on Instagram are girls, but I felt Felix could rock it.  He might not have curly hair when he gets older.  I'm enjoying his soft golden curls for now and every time we step out of the door, we get complimented.  People actually come up to us in the street and tell me "never cut his hair!". And I don't want to!

Curls Gone Wild tee - Kenzie Jaws
Harlequin leggings - Rock Your Baby via MiraMira Dublin
Converse - Ethan's cast offs!

In other news, whoop whoop, we are closer to being the owners of some Pray 4 Trax necklaces!  As I type this tonight, a new batch have gone live on the Little Vikings site.  I just bought an orange bead bear necklace.  I also purchased an elephant one the other day from another store.  Exciting stuff!  They might well end up as Christmas presents, depends how long they take to arrive and how restrained I'm feeling!!

Over to you lot now, what have your little ones been stepping out in?  Link up below!  Please please don't forget to comment here, link back to me and visit others who join in!


Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Never good enough? What it's like to be a worrier and tips for coping:

I never feel good enough. I know I'm not the only one. Why? Why is it we feel like this? Does anyone know the answer? Is there anyone out there who is truly happy with themselves and what they achieve? Is this a state only reached after years of counseling?

I know that a certain amount of not being satisfied is good. After all, without that we'd never strive to improve and achieve. 

I seem to live in a permanent state of never feeling good enough.  I go from one worry to the next, always giving myself something new to fret over, always giving myself doubts in my ability. Sometimes I just want to bash my head in. From the moment I wake in the morning to the moment I fall asleep (and in between due to the tag team interruptions from the boys in the night) it's nagging at me:

"What are you going to feed the boys today? Is it healthy? You're planning beans on toast for tea?! My God you're a shit Mum! You should have fitted in time to make a homemade casserole!"

"Is Ethan too short?"

"How will Ethan cope with his school dinner?"

"How are you going to fit Felix's nap in today?"

There really seems to be no limit to my worry.  I've erred on the anxious my whole life.  Even as a child I remember worrying, about school work, about friends, about the safety of myself and my family.  I remember age six sleeping with a packed suitcase under my bed each night which included spare clothes, favorite toys and some books.  I kept it there in case there was a fire; I would be able to grab it before getting out.  I had also planned the safest escape route for the entire family.  For some reason I felt that it was my responsibility to get everyone out!  Fast forward to shortly after Ethan's birth over 5 years ago, one of the stupid worries I had running around my head was how on earth I would deal with packed lunches for him at school.. when I had a newborn to look after, this was just one of the extra silly things I gave myself to worry about on top of everything else!

Becoming a parent does mean extra worry.  Being a stay at home parent, even more so, I suspect.  Without a work place in which you become someone other than Mum or Dad for a few hours, your whole life revolves around your child/ren and house.  Your house almost feels like your office.  After all, it's your base.  It can be very very hard to gain perspective.

I've spoken to a lot of my stay at home Mum friends and I know many of them feel the same.  Though I feel we all worry to different degrees.

It's all going to be ok! Coping with worry.


How can we cope with all of this?  Well, for me, it's a case of constant evaluation.  Because I've suffered with anxiety for most of my life, I have to look out for signs that it's going beyond normal and more into the realm of requiring medication.  However, there are some things that I do to help myself to hopefully avoid this and these are things that help all of us in these situations:

1) See friends and talk:

I really think this is just about the most important step you can take to help yourself step off the worry train.  Just a few minutes (preferably longer if children will allow!) talking with other parents will ease your burden.  Soon you will realize that they too are worrying about just how much their child has eaten.  They will confide in you that no, Jack doesn't actually sleep through the night, he climbs into their bed. You can trade horror stories, worries, concerns. It's corny, but it's true, a problem shared is a problem halved.  Just by vocalising your worries it takes some of power away from them.

2) Exercise:

Walk.  Push the pram.  Put your child in a creche if you can and do a class.  You don't need me to tell you that exercise is good for you.  It releases those lovely endorfins we all benefit from.  I can tell you first hand this works.  I start Monday morning stressed to the hilt.  The whole week is ahead, I'm missing the weekend, missing having my husband with me, worrying about how I'm going to fit everything in.  At 9:30 am I put Felix in the creche at my local leisure centre and I do a class.  Whilst I'm in that class I physically cannot worry about anything.  I'm too busy sweating and trying to keep up.  After the class I find half of the things I've been worrying about have left my head, or their significance is greatly reduced.  Plus, I feel good about myself.  I feel fit and healthy.   I also feel good because Felix has had some time playing and socialising with other children, something I feel benefits him.

3) Set aside some "me" time:

I know.. I know. You feel you haven't got time.  If you can though, even just two hours a week, just setting aside a slot in your week where you do something for you can made heaps of difference.  This could be the exercise class! Hell, kill two bird with one stone why not,  you multitasking mutha!  Perhaps you've always wanted to learn to knit?  Find a local class.  Sign up.  Go out for a drink with a friend.

Coffee & cake therapy
Take a break!

4) Set aside "time off":

This is something I am learning to do.  I'm someone who's guilty of always trying to do too much (see the above about never feeling good enough!).  If we give ourselves too much to do, the chances are we end up doing most things badly, or at least, not to our standards.  It is SO important to switch off, do do NOTHING.  Sit in a chair in the dark.  Listen to the radio.  Sit in the garden and listen to the birds.  Put the phone and laptop away.  This leads me on to no 5:

5) Make a schedule:

This is something for the list makers out there.  Chances are, if you're a worrier, you probably also enjoy a good list!  To help myself focus on what needs to be done during the week, to fit in my exercise, blogging time and "doing nothing" time I made a schedule.  I was suffering with the feeling that I ought to be blogging/emailing/sorting things out any time I had a second where I wasn't with a child.  It was starting to make me feel very stressed and, to be honest, quite unhinged.  I decided to schedule my week, even though I was skeptical, and it's worked!  I now know which evenings I'm going to blog.  I have my exercise classes planned in.  I've organised a monthly meet up with friends so I have something to look forward to and guaranteed time to talk.  I also have very important evenings where there is nothing booked in.  All I do on those evenings now is take it easy.  I chat with the husband.  I watch TV.  I read my book.  I don't get my laptop out.  It's hard, but it's worth it.

Those are my top 5 tips for feeling better about yourself and reducing the worry in your life.  My worried never completely go away, as does my anxiety.  But I know that doing all of the above, I feel better.  Not all of the time, but some of the time.  And that is better!