My Week That Was {13}

Monday: We packed the car up and set off for Butlins, Bognor Regis at around 8.30. We planned to stop at a Little Chef on the way but the three we passed were all boarded up. By 11 we were all hungry and ended up having a burger and chips from Burger King.
Shortly after half past 1 we arrived at Butlins.
That afternoon and evening we explored the complex, had chocolate crepes, watched Billy Bears Storytime, went bowling and went to Papa Johns for a really yummy dinner.

Tuesday: This morning started with a really lovely breakfast at the hotel. On the way to the restaurant we saw a leaflet for Beauleui Car Museum and both got excited. We'd planned to stay on the complex that day but couldn't turn down a day out.
We certainly didn't regret it. It was a fantastic day out which we all enjoyed.
Before dinner we saw Barney, which made Charles very happy and then we went for cocktails.

Wednesday: We'd planned to go to Brighton today so soon after breakfast we hit the road.
We visited the sea life centre and then went for Fish and Chips on the Pier.
We then went back to Butlins and had a few hours fun on the Fairground.
That evening we went back to Papa Johns for dinner and it was even better than the first night. The boys ate lots too which made us particularly happy.
We popped to the shop afterwards and then headed back to our room.
I downloaded a book onto my Kindle and snuggled in bed with the boys to read it.
It was probably my favourite evening of the whole holiday.

Thursday: We spent Thursday on the resort. The morning consisted of another amazing breakfast, then we went on the Fairground, walked to the beach for an explore, watched Bob the Builder on stage and then had lunch with Billy Bear, Elmo popped along too.
We were invited to a panto at Butlins but lunch ran over into 2 o clock so we missed it. Instead we went back to the Fairground and for a drink (Strawberry Daquiri, mmmmm) and went back to the hotel room.
To our surprise both boys fell asleep on the bed for well over an hour so we relaxed with a gin and tonic and got the majority of our items packed and in the car without the boys in the way.
We decided to have a late dinner tonight after eating a big meal at lunchtime so we went to the Tots Disco, which the boys loved, Harry in particular as he danced with one of the Redcoats and wouldn't let go of her hand!
I then sat and watched Barney with Charles, which was absolutely amazing whilst my husband and Harry went for a drink at the bar and listened (danced in Harrys case) to Chris Andre.
Our dinner plans changed and we ended up having to go to one of the two places open past 8 o clock.
We were all pretty tired so rushed our meals and went back to the room.
I had a lovely long soak in the bath before going to sleep.

Friday: Home time.
The journey was easy despite it being Good Friday.
We got home around 3. I put a load of washing on straight away. By 4 o clock Harry was being very sick. He ended up in bed early, although woke at 9.30 and was sick all night.

Saturday: My mum had Charles for the day and Harry slept most of it. I've never seen him so poorly. It was awful.

Sunday: Lazy day with a very poorly Harry still.
My husband worked all day.



A Sneak Peek

I couldn't wait to look back on some of the photos from our 4 night break. We had a couple of days out including a day out at Beaulieu, and a day at Brighton visiting the Sealife Centre and the Pier.
Not to mention a few too many photos of the fairground at Butlins and of Barney!





10 Things I've Learnt This Week

1: I need to go back to being all blonde. Dark roots around my face do not look good.

2: A pair of tweezers and a magnifying mirror should be in my handbag at all times. My eyebrows are a disgrace right now.

3: A car museum can be really interesting, and old cars are absolutely beautiful. I'm not bothered about their speed or how well they are made but just to look at them is amazing.

4: My husband seems to understand Harry more than I do and I seem to understand Charles more than my husband does.

5: My husband and I are more scared of big(ish) fairground rides than our 3 year old son!

6: Cider doesn't excite me anymore.

7: Brighton isn't as amazing as it's made out to be.

8: Full english breakfasts taste much better when followed by a glass of grapefruit and natural yogurt.

9: My boys are very messy eaters.

10: I pack FAR too many clothes, even when trying not to.


Family and Marriage

For about 3 weeks before I had my first date with my (now) husband we had been emailing. We talked about our families and what we was going on in our lives at that time. I was still living with my mum and brother at that time as I was only 17 and we were going through the process of selling what had been family home before my dad left us and buying somewhere for just the three of us.
My husband mentioned that his parents were divorced and said that the break up of your parents marriage can almost put you off getting married yourself.
At the time I thought this was a sad thing to think, and I still do, but I totally understand that feeling.

As far as I was concerned our family unit was safe, secure and was unbreakable. We were happy.
Although apparently not all of us were and this resulted in my dad having an affair with my best friends mum and leaving his family home, without telling us.
Obviously this caused a huge mix of emotions and is the main cause of my anxiety and depression since.
Thankfully the 3 of us left connected and got on with it. We didn't need him anymore.

My dads unfaithfulness, lies and the way he treated me then, and since then, affected my relationship with my husband for a long time. I didn't trust him and thought he would cheat on me.
I have a constant fear over our mortgage and that it will stop being paid although deep down I know my husband would never do that to his family. Unlike my dad.

Marriage is hard.
Bringing up a family is hard.
And I think it's especially hard when you come from a broken home because if you look back to your past for reassurance you wonder what was real and what wasn't.
You look back at things you did do, or didn't do, or the things your parents did or didn't do, and wonder which experiences and lessons you can take with you on your journey of marriage and parenting.

We've been married 8 years this year and although we argue over silly things sometimes, and will sulk and moan at each other, I think we know that our marriage is ours.
We don't need to look at what others did, or didn't do, to know how to make it work, how to keep it strong and to keep it secure.

I wrote a while ago about The Fairytale. I'm not sure anyone's perfect fairytale exists. After all our fairytales tend to involve very little hard work and challenges.

The hard work and challenges make life real. And without those what would there be to be proud of?

Marriage is hard work.
Parenting is hard work.
Life is hard work.
And doing all that hard work to keep each thing ticking along, to keep everything happy, secure, and safe is something to be extremely proud of.

All we can do is promise our boys that we will continue to work hard, to face challenges and to make life the best it can be for them.
To be a happy family.
And give them the best life we can.



Perfect Children

My children are perfect.
To me they are.

I'm horribly paranoid when out and about with them. I feel like everyone, EVERYONE, is watching me and judging me.
I try my best not to notice, to ignore and to not care but it hurts.
Really hurts.
So what if my children don't eat all of their dinner when we eat out.
Ok, Charles won't sit still for any amount of time, but I try and keep him there, what else can I do?
Harry will sit with a knife and fork sometimes. Yes, a knife, what an awful parent I am! And although it clearly looks like I'm not aware of what he's doing, I am. I watch from the corner of my eye, I don't have to stare at him and not take my eyes off him.
Yes I'll let Charles walk a meter or 2 away from us, as long as we can see him and he can see us it's ok, depending on where we are.
Children get bored, impatient, fed up, as we do. We are able to take ourselves off to bed if we want, and have control over where we go, children don't get that control, so of course they are going to run around, sit on the floor, and vent their frustration in a different way to us, in fact you see adults doing the same when they get frustrated. We stand and pace the room, because we can, yet we tell children not to. How is that fair?!

Both boys are slightly poorly at the moment and have a bad cough, sometimes resulting in a coughing fit. It surprises me how many people will look at my children in disgust as they struggle to catch their breath and gag as they cough.

In fact, over all I'm pretty annoyed, frustrated and hurt at the amount of people that seem disgusted with my children. How they look down their noses at them.

CHILDREN. That's what they are.
3 years old and 20 months old.
Still learning etiquette and correct behaviour.

How can I parent them properly, and to the best of my ability, and naturally, when I feel pressure from parents who are clearly perfect themselves?

It saddens me that parents don't support other parents enough.
Parenting is all about learning, it's a "journey" (I do dislike that term) and I think there's not one person who gets it completely 100% correct.

I'm certainly not going to restrict my boys from everything. Whilst we learn how to parent them, and bring them up correctly, or in a way we see fit, Charles is currently exploring his independence and seeing how far he can go, and Harry is just exploring, well, everything.

Our children might be awful to some but to us they are perfect, even if they are a handful.


My Mothers Day

Due to my husbands birthday being on the 10th of March I made the decision to postpone Mothers Day, his birthday was much more important to me and I didn't want it to be shared with what is essentially, just a commercial day.

On the morning of my Mothers Day I wasn't lucky enough to be treated to a lay in.
I was treated to breakfast at one of our favourite little restaurants/tea rooms/cafe and afterwards we went for a short walk around the park it is situated in.
I used to play in this park a lot when I was little so it was nice for the boys to walk around it too. It's a lot smaller than I remembered it to be!

The boys were both poorly at various times during the day so we dropped them off at my mums and continued with our plans of a carvery dinner, but just with my husband and me.

It was a lovely day, other than the boys being poorly of course, and just what I like. Not enough fuss but a couple of treats.



My WI Experience: Victoria

When I put out a call on Twitter for members of the WI to share their experiences I didn’t quite expect to find someone as dedicated as Victoria Heath from Butterfly Crafts.

Victoria is a member of two WIs in Cambridge as well as being President of one in Hertfordshire.
Reading through
Victoria’s answers to my interview questions I felt really inspired.
My main reasons for wanting to join is to meet people, make friends and to be me. Victoria show’s that the WI is perfect for that.

How long have you been a member of the WI?
I am a member of two
WIs and also the President of another. I joined my first WI in Cambridge in December when I moved and have recently joined a second. However, before I moved to Cambridge I was approached by a friend to see if I was interested in setting up a WI in my village, this was back in Autumn last year and I was elected President in December.

What made you join?

I joined as a member in
Cambridge as a way to meet new people with similar interests. When I moved the only people I really knew were my boyfriend and a couple of his friends so it was a great opportunity to meet some new girlfriends. There was a new WI set up in Cambridge with a majority of younger members and so I thought this would be perfect.

I joined the other WI because I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to recreate a WI in the village, there was one a few years ago but it folded because no one really wanted to run the committee and so we have tried again. I wouldn’t necessarily have thought about joining the WI until I was approached but it seemed like the right thing to do and I feel proud at having created this for ladies within the village.

Did you go to the meetings alone or did you know someone who already went?

To say I was nervous before going to the first Cambridge meeting would be an understatement, I get really anxious at new things and have all thoughts of “will people like me” or “will I be judged for what I am wearing” but that was just in my head! I did go to my first meeting alone but what had helped was following the WI on Twitter beforehand and start to interact with members or at least the Committee so you can tell people you are going and it’s your first night.

What were you expecting from the meetings and from being a member?

I was expecting to meet new people who were interested in the same things as me but also people who came from totally different backgrounds and interests but were all interested in what the WI had to offer. I was also expecting to learn new things and that would mainly be new crafts because to me, the WI has a stereotype of learning crafts and handicrafts. I was also expecting cake, lots of lovely cake!

Were your expectations met?

Absolutely! – well, on the idea of meeting new people and people from different walks of life who share the same interests. With
Cambridge being such a large city there is such a vast array of members. I was hoping there would be more crafts but I also know from being a President that you have to try and cater to everyone’s interests and have variety. I have joined the second WI in Cambridge because I think I would prefer to be in a smaller group where people get to know each other more and where there is more of an opportunity to learn and have demonstrations and workshops.

What do you get out of it?
Something I wasn’t expecting – to feel like my ‘old’ self again. Joining the WI in
Cambridge has opened me up to meeting new people and making new friends, and I was surprised at how quickly this has happened. It has made me feel like my ‘old’ self again and also grown my confidence at talking to new people. This is actually what I had hoped to get out of it and now I really enjoy my Wednesday meetings. I also get the chance to do things I perhaps might not have had the chance to such as learn about bike maintenance or how to make Christmas decorations in felt. Over time I hope to grow those friendships and utilise the group as a way to making Cambridge my new home.

What type of activities do you do?
Activities depend on what members want. At one
Cambridge meeting we primarily have speakers because the group is so large (140 members) that practical activities can be challenging. However at the other group I have joined, there are fewer people and so we are hoping to be much more hands on with learning new skills and crafts including knitting, sewing, vintage make-up, cooking, bike maintenance and much more.

For the WI where I am President we have spent quite a long time putting the programme together for the year and will have a mixture of talks including someone from the local archives and a talk about Beatrix Potter along with workshops on gardening, sewing and card making. We also have impromptu activities such as a pancake toss or a quiz.

Do you think there is a stereotype concerning women who are part of the WI?

I think there can be but I would like to think it is changing. There are some WIs which are still primarily for the older generation and that is great as it provides them with a social outlet but more recently there are WIs opening up aimed at the younger generations and I think that is helping to change the impression of what the WI is about. However, if you are a younger person who joins a WI and finds there are a lot of older women, don’t discount it immediately, older women can be a lot of fun and actually end up being very lively when younger people are around.

Do you recommend joining and being part of the WI?
Absolutely. The WI is great for women of all ages and if like me, you are new to an area it is a brilliant way to meet like minded people and do something for yourself.

Complete this sentence: The WI is perfect for....
Making new friends, learning new skills, getting involved with your community and doing something for yourself.


My Week That Was {12}

This week has been a bit of a haze really with two over-tired poorly boys so I can't remember a huge amount of what happened!

Monday: Charles still seemed quite poorly so I kept him home from pre-school. Every now and then he would lay on the sofa and go to sleep for a little while, which is completely unlike him.

Tuesday: Charles seemed a bit better today so after a morning of watching Tangled I took him to pre-school and went into town to the Vodafone shop to pick up my replacement phone.

Wednesday: Again a morning of staying at home and then the pre-school run.

Thursday: I'd had enough of staying in and needed to get out so we went over to Matalan in the morning to look at their swimsuits for the boys. I also bought myself a pair of Chinos and tights.
I decided to avoid Jo Jingles with Harry this afternoon as I was becoming increasingly irritated by the lady who runs the class, especially as she talked to Harry in a disrespectful unnecessary way the previous week.
I asked him if he wanted to go to Jo Jingles or to the Zoo, he replyed with "ROAR!" So we had our first trip to the zoo with just the two of us.
I decided to not take his pushchair and to just let him walk wherever he wanted. It was really lovely.

Friday: We watched Labyrinth this morning and then took Charles to preschool. He fell over on the way in and cut his knee but the pre-school let me use their first aid kit.
All three boys had a haircut after Charles had finished pre-school.

Saturday: After a rubbish nights sleep and waking up with a migraine my husband let me go back to sleep for an hour or so.
I got up and he then went off to work.
My mum took the boys in the afternoon so I could have a bath, wash my hair and get some bits sorted for holiday.
Mum came back to ours with the boys and babysat as me and my husband went out with friends we haven't seen for 7 years! It was a really lovely night with amazing food.

Sunday: Today will be full of packing, popping to Matalan to change one of the swimsuits as they clearly expect a 4-5 year olds waist to be triple the size of Charles'! I will also be on the hunt for some black boots as my ones decided to break last week and I desperately need some for our holiday!



Therapy Taught Me

It's been a week and a half since my last therapy session.
I haven't talked about therapy as openly as I would have done say last year, or the year before, because I wondered what I was getting out of it. I wondered if putting it on here was boring people, if it was a case of "oh she's talking about that again".

To keep it all fresh in my mind, to go over it and to keep working at it, reminding myself of what I need to do to be happy, to feel safe and live the best life I can I have decided to write it all down over time.

Therapy taught me that it's good to have a place to write everything down. To have somewhere to go if I am feeling a bit down, just needing somewhere to vent and to let go.
I find a lot of the time I can write something down, and then I feel much better.
It might be too personal for some but if me sharing some of these feelings makes me feel better then where is the harm?
Mental Health is such a taboo subject and making it normal, talking about it openly, is surely going to help to break that?

We shouldn't have to hide away and not talk about feeling a bit pants, or feeling anxious over things which, to others, seems irrational.

I found that by telling my therapist that I wanted to do something, or that I aimed to do X by 2 weeks I then felt I had to do it. I had no pressure from her, non-whatsoever. But I then felt like I would be proud to walk in, sit down with her and say "you know I said I wanted to go to go to the WI? Well I went. Except rather than going with two friends, I went by myself"
When I said that to my therapist she couldn't stop telling me how proud she was of me.
That made me feel amazing.
But one thing that worried me about our final session was that I wouldn't have her to go to to say "I'm going to do this, or I want to do this".

So, we agreed that it would be good for me to do that on my blog. To replace her with this.
I could replace her with a family member, I know that. But there was something different with having her in that role.
Maybe because she was there to help me move on, to support me, and only knew me in this way.
I sat in with her one day and commented on how strange it is that we sit in a room, with a stranger, and pour out our feelings, information about our personal lives, we cry, we laugh, we talk about anger and hurt and we talk about happy times.

I wrote a post on February 15th. I've Got a Plan, and once this was out there then it was pretty much, well I have to do this now.
The same happened with the WI thing. Even though the two friends I was supposed to be going with were unable to go, I had people asking me if I was going.
It wasn't a good enough excuse to say "no because my friends are not going".
The support of knowing that people were wanting to know if I was going, were wanting to know if I had gone, and indeed how I had got on was really encouraging.
So it would be silly to not use that to my advantage, and to do similar again.

Therapy Taught Me: My blog is a good thing.


Lindam Clarity Digital Audio Monitor {Review}

For a while we didn't use a monitor with Harry. I'm a pretty light sleeper and a lot of people I know think it's not important past a year old.
I realised that, despite being a light sleeper anyway, I was keeping myself awake by listening out for him. I decided it was time to get the old monitors out, except the boys had been using them as walkie talkies and as a result the backs were missing and they weren't in the best of condition.

Lindam kindly offered to send us their Clarity Digital Audio Monitor to review.

The monitor is easy to set up and had rechargeable batteries included so we were able to set up the units straight away.
I was interested to see what the battery life would be like. My plan was to leave the cradle for the parent unit downstairs next to the sofa, away from grabby hands, and then to take the monitor to bed every night without the use of the cradle.
Our previous monitor didn't seem able to be able to last long out of it's cradle and had a very poor battery life. I assumed this would be the same for all monitors but the Lindam monitors can be off the cradle all night and still have plenty of power.
The parent unit will operate up to 300 metres away from the main unit.
The monitors also have the option on being mains or battery operated.

The sound is clear and free of any interference. The monitors offer a two-way talk back function so you can simply press the button on the side of the parent unit to comfort your child. Although I did find there was a slight delay in getting the sound back after pressing this.

The baby unit is compact and has a night light in the centre. The parent unit has a light feature to indicate sound levels, this can be really useful if your baby stirs.

The specifications as listed by Lindam are:
  • 300m range
  • Talk back feature
  • Portable parent unit operates with 2xAAA rechargeable batteries provided or with the power docking station supplied
  • Parent unit charging docking station
  • 120 automatically selected channels for interference free monitoring
  • Out of range warning
  • Parent unit LED Sound Level lights
  • Comforting night light
  • Mains or battery powered
  • Adjustable volume control
  • Low battery warning
  • Includes Parent unit docking station and Nursery unit power adaptor
  • Includes 2 x rechargeable batteries for parent unit
  • Belt clip
We were sent the Clarity Digital Monitor for the purpose of this review. All words are honest and my own.


More Than Freebies

Sometimes I wish more people understood blogging. Or in particular what my blog means to me.
One friend refers to it as "your blog" (said in a silly pathetic voice) and constantly asks "what have you got for free recently?"
I've heard a few people say "I'm going to set up a blog so I can get loads of free things"
Ok, I admit that reviewing items is a perk of blogging but it's not what it's about for me.
Reviewing isn't always as easy as people seem to think. You have to take time to write the post, research it in some cases, and photograph it, edit the photos, and so on.

I've had some fantastic opportunities in the two years I've been blogging. I appreciate every single thing that I am offered, sent and given, but would I say that it's all my blog is about? No.
If I wasn't offered things to review would I still blog? Of course.

My blog isn't about the freebies. They are an added extra.
My blog is therapy for me. A best friend in some ways because if I'm feeling a bit down I can run straight to it, write everything down, post and feel better.
I've made a lot of friends due to it too. Some I would even consider as being best friends, despite never meeting them or only meeting them once.
Is that weird? Maybe. But the friends I have made know me inside and out because they read my blog. They know there's more to it than freebies.
They read the personal posts, they offer advice or a virtual hug.
And I guess those who thing it is just about the freebies don't understand it, and probably don't want to, especially if they haven't looked at it properly in two years.
In fact it kind of offends me that friends don't want to understand this as it is a big part of my life.

Thankfully some people get it.
My therapist "got it" and said it was a really positive thing for me to have in my life.
My husband gets it.
My online friends get it.

And even better, my BritMums Sponsor Medela get it.
This tweet today made me smile and tear up.
I try hard to promote breastfeeding without being to 'Nazi' about it.
When they agreed to sponsor me to go to BritMums Live I was over the moon. I wanted to shout it out to everyone.
They were my dream sponsor.
To me, when they agreed to sponsor me the excitement was more than them just sending me to the conference, and more about the fact that I was good enough to work with them.

A main issue of mine, in my personal life, is not being good enough, not being accepted, and not being recognised for doing good things.

The following made me feel amazing and made my day.
This is why I blog.
Not for the freebies.
But for that lovely feeling of being good enough, being accepted and being recognised for doing good things.



Medela Breastfeeding Cafe

As you may, or may not know, I breastfed Charles for just over 18 months and am still breastfeeding Harry, who is now 20.5 months old.
I'm very passionate about breastfeeding and really hope that this year I can get the ball rolling and can train to be a Breastfeeding Peer Support.

I think people tend to be a bit surprised when they learn that I didn't go to a breastfeeding cafe with Charles until he was 13 months old and then it was just a one off because I didn't gain the support I needed.
I passed my driving test 5 days after Charles' first birthday, so going to any breastfeeding cafes was either impossible or would interrupt my husbands work. Looking back if I could have driven in the first place then I would probably have gone to cafes as it would be easy to get there, and I would have had more in common with the other mums as we would have all had newborn babies.

I also only attended one breastfeeding cafe with Harry, which was when he was around 6 or 7 months old. There was two of us there, myself and a friend, and that was it.
Going to a breastfeeding cafe with a baby and a toddler wasn't the best experience of all.
Although we were told there was a nursery nurse to keep the toddlers entertained you still can't switch off and feel the need to have one eye on them and one eye on the cakes.
If Charles was at preschool when Harry was a newborn then I would have definitely made the effort to go to a breastfeeding cafe, but Harry was 14 months old when Charles started preschool and I didn't want to go through the same experience as last time.

I think a lot of questions regarding breastfeeding are around the first 3-5 weeks. It's the time when a lot of us feel we need support, and just to know we are doing it right, and that baby is getting what they need.
Getting out with a newborn in this time can be a struggle. Add that to a feeling of being anxious out with a newborn, meeting new people and so on and you can understand why new mums may avoid breastfeeding cafes.
From what I've seen more mums tend to stick to Google and asking for advice on Twitter. This, I think, is great, I certainly get a lot of support from my Twitter friends. Of course being restricted to 140 characters and not having an expert on hand can be frustrating and this is where Medela comes in.

Medela’s Breastfeeding Café hosted by babyworld.co.uk has been relaunched!
The Breastfeeding Café  is a monthly web chat to provide mums with a fun and interactive support forum. and was originally launched in 2012 was such a success Medela and babyworld have decided to run it again.
Once a month mums are invited to join the live café session, to share their breastfeeding stories and tips, as well as ask questions and get advice from the experts. These monthly events are a unique opportunity for mums to get support from Medela’s lactation consultant and babyworld’s independent midwife.
As one of the country’s leading parenting website, babyworld.co.uk provides a trusted place for mums to meet, and find the information they need on conception, pregnancy and babies. The site gives mums support in all aspects of parenting, and this extended partnership with Medela certainly marks their commitment to becoming a respected forum for breastfeeding mums.

With more than 20 years of experience working with breastfeeding mothers Medela’s lactation expert, Sioned Hilton, is able to guide mums through every breastfeeding hurdle.  She’ll be helping with specific issues and advising on general breastfeeding concerns, the advice will be friendly and practical with the latest in research based finding and peer-to-peer tips sitting happily alongside each other. The partnership has created a unique platform for those seeking support and information. Thanks to the Breastfeeding Café, mums have the chance to engage with experts on a personal level without having to leave the comfort of their own home.  These sessions provide a space for general discussion, sharing advice and for mums to realise they are never alone.
As well as responding to individual concerns, each month there will be expert advice posted on topics relevant to both expectant and breastfeeding mums therefore allowing mums to browse the site in their own time to pick up other top tips. Topics will cover everything from how the body changes during pregnancy through to breastfeeding for working mothers.

The Breastfeeding Café will be held once a month on a Wednesday at 8pm. Last time this was by far the most popular time for mums, as either their baby was asleep or they had an extra pair of hands to help out. Not only is the café set to provide great support it is ensuring it is accessible to as many mums as possible.

Commenting about the service, Debbie Bird, Editor of babyworld.co.uk ‘said ‘Last time we ran the Breastfeeding Café it was a great success so we are thrilled to be teaming up with Medela again. We feel it’s really important to be able to offer mums trustworthy and honest advice, and Sioned does just that. We hope the café will continue to be a great success and mums will feel they can come to Babyworld.co.uk with their queries and concerns.’
Sioned added:’ The Breastfeeding Café is a brilliant platform to connect with mums all across the country, I hope they really enjoy the regular events and benefit from logging in each month.’
The next breastfeeding café will take place on 20th March and is set to be very popular!

My WI Experience: Sam

Continuing my series of posts from WI members sharing their experiences is Sam who writes Smart Cookie Sam.
It has been lovely about writing this series and getting other members to share their experience is that everyone is positive. And more or less joined for the exact same reasons, and gained what they intended to.
I'm glad Sam picked up on a couple of points with regards to trips and meeting times. Having researched local groups this week I noticed that if I wanted to go to another group in addition to the one I will be attending anyway, I would need to get someone to look after the boys. 
How long have you been a member of the WI?
I’ve been a member for 6 years now of my local branch which is Marton cum Grafton WI (North Yorkshire West Federation)

What made you join?
I had lived in my area for a few years but realised once my kids were at school I didn’t see anyone anymore.  Most of my friends had gone back to work (me included).  I also found that I hardly knew anyone in my own village. I wanted to meet some new friends who had common interests in crafts and baking, etc.

Did you go to the meetings alone?
 No, two ladies from my village who were the president and vice president took it in turns to give me a lift the first few times. Even though they lived in my small village I didn’t really know them at all then. They were very kind and welcoming. Now there are more members we all take it in turns to share lifts!

What were you expecting from meetings and being a member?
I must admit I did have stereotypical preconceptions of the WI before I joined.  I thought it would be all “Jam and Jerusalem” and I would be by far the youngest member of the group but this is completely the opposite.  I joined when I was 35 and was one of the younger ones but not the only one.  We do not sing Jerusalem at our meetings and I have never made jam.  The film Calendar Girls (which is one of my favourite films of all time) did make you think that you would get dreary speakers.  We have had really interesting ones over the years and our programme organisers on the Committee work very hard to ensure there is something for everyone throughout the year.

Were your expectations met?
Yes they were.  After about 6 months I felt happy enough to join the Committee. I was the Treasurer for three years which was a great learning experience for me.  I had to come off the Committee due to big work commitments but I would love to rejoin in the future if they’ll have me.  
I just feel sad sometimes that I have missed a few meetings recently what with one thing and another. The other thing I find disappointing is that there are trips organised but I can’t go on them as they’re mainly during the week when I am working.  Our WI is vibrant and I think this is down to the previous Presidents and our current one. 

Do you think there is a stereotype regarding women and the WI?
Yes, to a certain extent.  At first when I joined the WI my husband teased me along the jam and Jerusalem lines and said “Are you stripping off for a calendar?”  Other friends have made jibes about the WI being full of “old grannies”.  My WI is not full of old grannies, there are ladies of all ages.  I really enjoy chatting to the younger members and the older members. I think the stories and life experiences they share are wonderful.  I do think that attitudes are changing towards the WI though, there is a swing back towards baking and crafts and some younger members want to hark back to what it was like when their mum’s or grandmas were young. 

What type of activities do you do?
Our WI has a varied programme of activities to suit all our members.  Our programme organiser tries to have hands on craft activities, a historical lecture, poetry, travel, a cookery demo, etc. We always go on an outing for our June meeting which is always lovely. In previous years this has been to a vineyard and last year we went to Swinton Park near Masham which is a gorgeous hotel with a birds of prey centre.  We watched a bird demo and then had tea and cake.  We always have a bbq in July and host regular activities such as quiz nights, village coffee mornings, carol singing and we always do teas and coffees at the village Open Gardens.  There is something for everyone.

What do I get out of it?
Well to begin with I made lots of new friends, I’ve learnt new skills and been educated about current issues and local affairs at the same time.  I just wish I could make every meeting though.

Do you recommend it?
Definitely. Go for it.  The membership fee of £33 for this year is well spent thinking of all the new things I have learnt over the years.  You will make new friends where you will have something in common and you don’t have to be an expert cake baker or jam maker!

The WI is perfect for- socialising, tea and cake!


My Week That Was {11}

Monday: With a slight snowfall during the night my husband took Charles to school and collected him as we didn't want to risk my car on the roads. My mum came over for the morning and played with Harry so I could get on with housework and blogging.
My husband took me into town in the afternoon so I could, yet again, take my phone to the Vodafone shop.

Tuesday: Yuk. Tuesday was a tough day with the boys. I think they were both feeling tired and run down. Charles had the beginnings of a cold.
I was waiting to hear from Vodafone all day with an update on my phone.
I had to take Harry to the doctors in the morning. Charles had preschool in the afternoon.
I attended my first WI meeting.

Wednesday: I was on a high all day following the WI meeting.
I had my last therapy session today which I felt quite sad about but loved being able to tell her how well I'd done with the WI meeting.
I headed back down to the Vodafone shop to pick up my phone, only to find out, whilst there thankfully, that the issues still weren't sorted. I just let Harry walk there as I thought we would only be quick but after 40 minutes I was completely stressed. He had pulled my earrings out, pulled my hair, almost exposed my chest to everyone, managed to knock down two accessory arm things and ran around the shop making the staff laugh. I had to leave in a rush as I had to leave my phone there, again, and head to the other side of town to collect Charles from school and didn't think I'd make it!

Thursday:  Another trip into town to the Vodafone shop. This time to pick up my SIM as, surprise surprise, the phone isn't working and needs to be sent off.
I then took Harry to Jo Jingles in the afternoon, I think it's our last session next week and although Harry is enjoying it (I think) I will be glad when it's over.

Friday: Charles' turn to go to the doctors. He went to bed for a nap in the morning, which is totally unlike him! Thankfully my husband looked after Harry, and made me some lunch whilst we were gone.
I kept Charles home from preschool today, which was a good decision anyway as we were longer than I thought at the doctors and after waiting for our prescription and he would have been half an hour late to school.

Saturday: After an early morning wake up call, which is all I've had this week, Harry went for a nap mid morning. Whilst he napped I snuggled on the sofa with Charles and watched Labyrinth. We actually ended up watching it twice today as he fell in love with it. (proud mummy moment)
My mum came round in the afternoon and I was able to go and have a peaceful bath....peaceful until Charles then gatecrashed it at the end.

Sunday: With it being my husbands birthday last week today is my Mothers Day. I had busy night up and down with the boys, including a hot chocolate trip at 5:30 because Charles was cold.
My husband surprised me with breakfast out. We had mentioned last week about going out for breakfast but I chose to have a present instead.
We all had pancakes, except for Charles as he has lost his appetite, then went for a little walk.
I was allowed to choose where the boys would take me for dinner today so I chose a carvery. We've now decided to leave the boys at my mum and go without them as 1: they won't eat much anyway 2: It will be my treat to eat my dinner with no hands getting in the way and with no unnecessary toilet trips 3: It will be stress free.



An Acceptable Mothers Day

Today is my Mothers Day, as it was my husbands birthday last Sunday.
I'd like to say I was treated with a full nights sleep, a lay in, coffee in bed, a nice hot bath and a trip to the toilet with no audience or interruptions. Heading downstairs to a beautiful breakfast buffet. Of course the complete opposite happened. I was up a few times in the night with the boys, and both decided that I should be awake at 6:45.
I tried to go back to bed but despite our efforts we couldn't wake my husband as he was in such a deep sleep. He is now having an uninterrupted trip to the toilet, and I am downstairs stopping the boys from fighting over the ride on toys and matchbox cars, making my own coffee.
The interruptions, early night and early wake up would have been acceptable if we were waking up at the Millenium Baileys, in Kensington.

We are yet to take a holiday as a family of four. This saddens me because when Charles was 4 months old he had his first holiday. It was just a UK break but it was just what we needed to connect as a family of 3. Whilst on this holiday we booked a second holiday at the same place for just 4 months time. And once that holiday had passed we had a third holiday booked, camping in the South of France, in 4 months time.
It was lovely having these breaks to get back to being a family, and having that special bonding time. Especially for my husband and Charles.

Due to one thing or another our plans for a family holiday never materialised and the closest we came was a mini break to London last year. We stayed at the Millenium Baileys for two nights. It was amazing and made us realise that mini breaks in the UK, in a top hotel, are just as good.
Amazing breakfast buffet, comfortable beds with really the comfiest pillows I've slept on for a while, staff that treat you like you are a VIP and can't do enough for you, all add to the luxury of this hotel.
It's safe to say we all miss staying there and hope to return one day (I'm hinting at a romantic break there for my birthday).

I was sent a beatiful L'Occitane Hand Cream gift set for Mothers Day and in exchange for this post. All words are honest and my own.


Boy's Summer Wardrobe Checklist

Not only do I need to start thinking about updating my own wardrobe for the summer, I also have two growing boys to think about.
I thought having a second boy would be easy when it came to clothes due to the fact he would just be handed down his big brothers clothes. And with Harry being born in the Summer, the same as his brother, surely the clothes would fit around the same time (summer clothes fitting in summer, winter clothes fitting in winter etc)
Ideally this would have happened, but with Harry being chunkier than Charles was (and maybe taller) all of the clothes ready to be passed down don't fit!

So instead we get to invest in new clothes for them.
As with my wardrobe, I like to get things that the boys could get a lot of use out of. In 2010 I bought Charles some lovely shorts, they were far too long and as a result he's been able to wear them every year since, he may even get to wear them again this year.

Neautral tshirts are always great because they can be worn in the winter with a long sleeve top underneath or a cardigan over the top.
I always get tops a size too big for the boys. I think boys can get away with wearing clothes that are over-sized, without it looking scruffy or like the clothes don't really fit.
Also there isn't normally a big difference between a size 3-4years and a 4-5years for example, so it makes sense to invest in the bigger size so it will last a little bit longer.

Cardigans. Nice thick ones and a couple of thinner ones. I much prefer cardigans and zip up tops for the boys than jumpers due to the ease of getting them on and off. Again, these are an investment because they are not just suitable for a particular season.

In my opinion children can never have too many pairs of jeans! I used to get frustrated due to the amount of choice girls have (jeans, skirts, shorts, leggings) compared to boys but then I discovered coloured jeans and chinos!

Shoes and boots. Like women, children can never have too many shoes, especially living in the UK where the weather is so unpredictable. One day you are dressing your child in a tshirt, shorts, and Converse and covering them in a layers of sun lotion, and the next day you are in need of jeans, jumpers, winter coats and a pair of Hunter Wellies.

I'm not going to let our silly unpredictable weather beat me and will ensure that my boys are dressed appropriately and stylish whether it's raining or the sun is shining!



Lindam Easy Fit Plus Deluxe Safety Gate {Review}

The first thing any parent should do when their child shows an interest in becoming mobile is simple.
Purchase safety gates.

I remember when Charles first started crawling. Baby gates went up on the kitchen door, at the bottom of the stairs and at the top of the stairs. And after we had moved him from cot to bed and realised he would wake at 5, come into our room and wake us up, we placed a baby gate on his bedroom door.

We purchased Lindam Safety Gates. We have the screw fit ones as well as the pressure fit.
The screw fit is permanently on our kitchen door and at the bottom of the stairs.
All other areas have pressure fit (even at the top of the stairs which is NOT recommended by Lindam but we simply have no choice)
Despite having no previous experience with buying baby gates we instantly knew to go for one made by Lindam.
We had heard of Lindam, I think it's one of those brands that everyone recognises when it comes to particular products.
Change Bags - Pink Lining
Nappies - Pampers
Nappy Rash Cream - Sudocrem
Safety Gates - Lindam

The pressure fit gates are fantastic and very practical. I think these are, for our needs anyway, most useful for bedroom doorways due to the fact that you don't really want permanent fixtures here, as you won't need the gates on the doors for that long (there comes a point when children learn to open them *sigh*) and they do make doorways slightly narrower due to the bars either side.
These are also great if you don't want a gate up all the time and just need one here and there.

We were recently sent the Easy Fit Plus Deluxe Safety Gate.
  • NEW - Contoured, slim line handle design for easy one handed opening.
  • NEW - Extra wide walk through section.
  • 4 point Pressure Fit - U shaped power frame provides solid pressure fitting.
  • Triple opening action.
  • Double locking option.
  • One or two way opening for maximum flexibility.
  • Strong steel construction.
  • Assembled and ready to use.
  • Adjusts to fit openings from 75cm to 82cm.
  • Can be extended up to 138cm with separate extensions
  • Safety barrier conforms to EN 1930:2011.
We plan to use this for Harry's room when he goes into a bed but in the meantime will be using it downstairs.
Our lounge leads off from a small hallway/lobby area. It can get quite crowded in the lobby area if we are bringing in our grocery delivery, loading or unloading the car etc, and also in the summer we need a plug socket by the front door to be able to mow the front lawn, this is quite difficult when you have two children wanting to escape through the front door.

So having a pressure fit gate which we can easily and quickly attach to the doorway is ideal at keeping the boys (and the cat) confined in the lounge. They are able to see us and know we haven't abandoned them and more importantly we are able to keep an eye on them and make sure they are not up to any mischief! Much better than closing the lounge door I think you'll agree.
My husband is normally head of attaching gates but I decided to try it for myself. It couldn't have been easier, well it could if the boys hadn't insisted on helping me out!
It was as simple as attaching the 'arms', making them fit snug in the doorway and there you go!

Charles recently learnt how to open gates with this type of lock BUT for some reason he cannot open this one! This now means that maybe we will transfer it onto his bedroom door so I can get an extra half an hour sleep in the morning.
There is also the added lock at the bottom of the gate in addition to the handle at the top.

The Easy Fit Plus Deluxe retails at around £23.99 (which is a really good price for this! I was pleasantly surprised) and is available to buy at Argos.

We were sent the safety gate for the purpose of this review. Words and photos are honest and my own.


My WI Experience: Elizabeth

When I first started blogging there were a few blogs I instantly fell in love with, and regularly stalked on Twitter.
One of those was Elizabeth, who blogs at MommaTwo. Elizabeth really helped me out in the early days of my anxiety and made me realise that these feelings I was, well, feeling, were completely normal and other people went through the same.
From that moment on I took a real shine to her.
I also started stalking her Twitter hashtag #whatyourocking everyday. She would tweet a photo of her outfit that day, and as I admired her pretty dresses I found myself buying more and wearing more.
And from then on my style was born.

I remember Elizabeth mentioning last year that she had been to a WI meeting. At that point, yes in a little girl admiring her idol kind of way, I looked to see if I had a local group. I found a few and specifically the group I will be attending once the weather stops being silly and allows me to get there.
I wasn’t quite ready to go at the time but Elizabeth certainly planted the seed in my head ( as did Kirstie Allsopp)

When I put the call out asking for friends to get involved with this little project of mine I was glad Elizabeth agreed.
I joined a month ago but had been as a guest twice in the six months before - I had to wait until I could definitely make the times of the meetings, which I couldn't when I was working full time. We meet in the evenings but I often wouldn't have been home in time as I worked quite a long way from home.

I joined because I wanted to meet more people locally and I enjoy crafty things and know my Grandmother enjoyed it - I also quite liked the idea of being a proper 'country wife'. This felt like a proper 'country folk' thing to do. 

I went along initially because my next door neighbour is a member and she thought I might like it - we've already bonded in our love for charity shops and vintage things. 

I was expecting lots of 'jam and Jerusalem  and laughing at little old ladies, if I'm honest - I was kind of anticipating a rather ironic enjoyment of the whole thing, with added baking and craft.

What I actually got was much better - lots of wonderful women with excellent senses of fun and humour, no singing, sadly, but real camaraderie. I am the youngest member by at least 25 years but we're hoping to change that soon and I'm planning on pestering some school run Mums to come along. 

I get to meet new people and take part in things, and join in with more activities in our local village, so it's helping me to meet more people and find out more about what's around us - we've lived here a year but because we were both working full time we haven't learned much about the area or met many people - and I'm enjoying that, and throwing myself into as many things as possible. 

So far I've seen talks on dairy farming and gardening, been bowling and am looking forward to a theatre and shopping trip next month. 

I think there's certainly a stereotype of middle class and country living old ladies - and in our group that is lived up - but they're bloody good fun and we're hoping to expand the group.

I think more people should join the WI as there's an awful lot of good with the groups and it's a great way to learn about new things and meet people - but there's also a strong political undercurrent and seeing women come together and bring change, and help people - well, it's important. 

The WI is perfect for anyone who wants to DO more, and to spend time with like minded, interesting people. It's what you make of it. 

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