Recent Posts

The Siblings Project | March 2019

23.3.19


I'm not going to lie, three little ones aged 5 and under can be incredibly tough sometimes - especially now they are three little people, not two and a baby! Getting anything done on time is becoming especially tricky, let alone getting all three to look at the camera and not run away (hence why this post is almost two weeks late..).

But of course there are so many wonderful moments too, especially now that Lilah is developing her own little personality. She is developing such lovely bonds with Indiana and Parker now, and I can really tell how much she misses them being around when they're at school and preschool. I can tell she has an extra soft spot for Parker though - most likely because he's around her a little bit more than Indie. She loves to give him huuuge hugs and lots of kisses, and I can tell her absolutely loves it too.



The big two however, are still in the rather exhausting 'love / hate' relationship stage. They both tell us how much they miss each other when they're apart, but argue and wind each other up constantly when together. Thankfully most of the time when we're out somewhere, like the park of soft play, they are best friends again. I just wish they could keep it up when at home - and I reallllly hope Lilah doesn't get involved as she gets older. Help!

5 Film-Based Travel Locations for the Whole Family

22.3.19

There are so many destinations you can visit that are full of history and culture. But if this isn't something you're into, then why not pick a location for it's use in a film? Some people even make a hobby of visiting locations where films were made! But no matter what the reason, film locations can do much for the tourism of an area. So in this post I've put together a list of the best film-based travel locations you can visit - suitable for the whole family!


The Caribbean - Pirates of the Caribbean
Although the later films are probably not so suitable for younger members, most people have a soft spot for Jack Sparrow and his pirate crew. But not only can you pretend you're a pirate on your trip, you can take in the beautiful island sites as well. Any fans of these films can visit St Vincent, Wallilabou Bay or Port Royal to see some of the locations from the films.

New Zealand - Lord of the Rings
J.R.R. Tolkien might not have created ‘Middle Earth’ in Lord of the Rings with New Zealand in mind, but many of the places used for filming fit the look of the book perfectly! There are holiday deals that will let you hang out in Frodo’s beloved Shire, and you can go to see the real Mordor too, which is located close to Mount Ruapehu.

Iceland - Games of Thrones
For anyone that has been following the antics of The Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and the Iron Throne, a visit to Iceland to see where most of this epic series was filmed, would be a thrill! There are also Game of Thrones filming locations in Spain, Northern Ireland and Croatia. So plenty of chance to feel as if you're

London - Harry Potter
J.K. Rowling probably never envisaged that the Harry Potter franchise would become the largest in the world - now there are SO many locations you can visit that take you into Harry's world! The Harry Potter Studio Tour, which is just north of London, is a fantastic attraction. You get to see so many sets and props from the film such as The Great Hall, Diagon Alley and even the Knight Bus.


If you're in London then you also need to make a special trip to London King's Cross Station - better known as Platform 93/4 where Harry and friends board the Hogwarts Express. There is a special shop dedicated to all things magical, and even a special 'trolley prop' where you can have your picture taken. 

Kauai, Hawaii - Raiders of the Lost Ark And Jurassic Park
Anyone travelling to Hawaii would not be surprised that the producers and directors of these films decided it would be the setting for their films. You can kayak down the rivers or go on an air tour of Manawaiopuna Falls - which were used as the Jurassic Falls in the film. No one can guarantee that you will see any real dinosaurs or that rocks will come rolling after you, but you will see some of the most beautiful scenery that will more than make up for it!

With hundreds of new films released every year, the attraction of the filming locations is not likely to dwindle any time soon. The tourism industry have realised this, and more and more travel companies are now they are offering holidays to exciting film locations. 

Where would you like to visit?
This is a collaborative post

Lilah at 12 Months | AD

Paid partnership with SMA® Nutrition 

I have loved writing and sharing these monthly updates on Lilah, as she has grown over her first year. So much changes in such a short space of time, (babies grow 25 centimetres in the first year alone, and up to 0.5 centimetre a week!*), so I'm so glad I can look back on each month and see just what she was like then. But with her first birthday celebrated, it is time to share her last monthly update of her first year!


We had Lilah's one year checkup with the health visitor at the beginning of the year, where we got her weighed and had her height measured for the first time since she was tiny. As she was poorly over Christmas she didn't actually put any weight on (she was 18lbs 11oz at 11 months), but she is still on the 50th percentile so they weren't worried. Height-wise she is 73cm tall, which was also the 50th percentile. So although I've always thought she seemed diddy, she's actually pretty average! She's also got 10 teeth now - and another two molars on the way - which seems like soo many for someone so little.

Even when she was poorly she never stopped eating though. Lilah absolutely loves her food, and will eat practically anything we offer her (and also try and eat the things we don't too)! She's still having milk throughout the day though, as it's so important for her diet and nutrition. Since turning 12 months we have switched Lilah from SMA® Follow-on Milk to SMA® PRO Growing Up Milk, and she has a beaker of this when she wakes up in the morning, and another before bed. SMA® Nutrition has been leading baby nutrition research for over 100 years, and their SMA® PRO Growing Up Milk contains vitamin D and calcium to support the normal growth and development of bones.


Development wise I feel as if Lilah is changing and learning as each day passes. She has the cheekiest little personality now, and will perform to get a reaction out of you or make you laugh. She's grown so much stronger physically, this last month too. She's climbing on chairs and tables, is able to climb to the top of the stairs with ease, and she's practically running around now. SMA® Nutrition's team of nutritionists have an expert understanding of the changing nutritional needs of young children. Now that Lilah is growing into a toddler and not a baby, I feel as if this is extra important!

I cannot wait to watch Lilah grow and learn more over the next year. She is the happiest little lady I've ever met, and brings so much joy to our family. I just know there's a mischievous side waiting to come out though, so wish us luck!

What was your little one like at 12 months old?

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Breast milk is best for babies and breastfeeding should continue for as long as possible. SMA® PRO Follow-on Milk is suitable for babies over 6 months, as part of a varied weaning diet. Not intended to replace breastfeeding. SMA® PRO Growing Up Milk is suitable for young children from 1-3 years, as part of a healthy balanced diet and it is not a breast milk substitute.

* Johnson CP and Blasco PA. Infant Growth and Development. Pediatrics in Review (1997), vol 18, no.7 , 224-242

Lilah's First Birthday DIY Cake Smash

21.3.19

A DIY Cake Smash is something we have done for each of our children's first birthday. They are such a lovely way to mark such a special occasion and perfect for if you're on a budget (or simply cannot afford a professional photographer). You can make them as extravagant or simple as you wish, as long as you have the basics of a cake and a clean background.





Lilah turned one back in January, but I realised that I never actually shared the photos from her DIY cake smash! It was so lovely to watch her explore and eat her special cake - especially as we never really let her have such sweet treats before. And of course extra special, as we let her big brother and sister get involved at the end too.

For the decorations, I hopped onto eBay and found this lovely pink bunting, to add a touch of colour. Lilah's 'ONE' birthday crown was also from eBay, and an absolute bargain! At first I had my heart set on a gorgeous handmade crown. But I knew she wouldn't get it on longer than a few seconds anyway, so this eBay one did the job perfectly. Her personalised vest was from Esty, and her tutu was from Next. And finally, the cake was a simple Victoria sponge from the supermarket - again I would have loved a beautiful handmade one, but why waste the money when it's designed to be smashed?






We then simply placed the cake in-front of Lilah, and let her explore. She was a little unsure at first, but after a little encouragement she got stuck in eventually. From experience I've found that breaking into the cake and showing them what to do helps - some babies just don't want to touch and get too messy!

You can see Indiana's cake smash here, and Parker's cake smash here. We've done each one slightly differently, so I hope they give you some inspiration!


5 Reasons to Use a Steamer When Cooking

16.3.19

If you're anything like me, then you know how easy it is to fall into the trap of cooking the same meals every week. It's completely understandable that after a long day looking after little ones or work, that you want to cook something easy and familiar (that you know everyone will eat!). For those that do want to start experimenting more though, did you know you can cook new meals and still relax after a busy day with the help of steamer? Here are 5 reasons why a steamer could be a great addition to your kitchen.


1 - It's a much healthier way to cook
One of the best things about using a steamer is that it is a really healthy way to cook. No matter what you’re making you don’t have to add any oils in order for them to cook properly, ultimately reducing the number of fats you’re eating in your diet! Of course won’t take away the fat from things that are naturally fatty, but it will help you avoid adding any unnecessary extras. This guide on how to use a steamer can help explain more.

2 - It's easier and minimum fuss
If you prefer to make meals that are easy (and require very little effort), then using a steamer is a great option! For most items you can simply throw them into the steamer, and leave them to do their thing.

3 - It can be quicker
Although this won’t apply to every meal you cook in a steamer, the majority of the time it can be much quicker. Whether you’re steaming veg or cooking rice, the effects the steamer has can reduce the time by up to half! Perfect for those days when you’re in a rush and need a speedy meal.

4 - You can create almost anything
Okay so you can't cook everything in a steamer, but there are so many different things you can cook! From fish and shellfish to mains and desserts; to find some inspiration on what to cook you can visit this guide here.

5 - It helps keep your kitchen clean
One of the best things about using a steamer, is that they help keep your kitchen tidy! Often you have to use several different post and pans for one meal, but with a multi-level steamer, you can cook everything in one easy-to-clean place. How clever is that?
This is a collaborative post.

How to Have the Best Summer as a Family

14.3.19

I'm hoping we'll have another heatwave summer this year, but we're more than likely to have our usually average UK weather with plenty of rain... Either way, there are school holidays to think about, at least a few beautifully warm days, and of course the enjoyment of Bank Holiday weekends.

And though we may have had a glimmer of what is to come this summer; thanks to the freakishly warm February we had. I'm sure I'm not the only one who isn't that prepared for the months ahead. But there is no time like the present to start making plans and preparations. And this post is going to share the best ways we can prepare for the summer, and the joys it brings!


Your Home
Whilst most summer days are spent outdoors, you still need to make sure your home is able to cope with the heat. Luckily though, there are a number of things that you can do to your home to ensure that is it ready for the months ahead.

Often when the hot weather hits (like the crazy heatwave we had last year), your home can become unbearably hot. This is when you may want to think about getting some air conditioning units fitted, or even investing in portable options. If you do have air-con already, it's a sensible idea to think about booking an ac repair, to ensure that the system is in good working order before you need it. Of course if you cannot afford air conditioning, there are still many ways to keep your home cool - airing your home first thing in the morning and at night can keep the cool air circulating, as well as keeping curtains drawn so not to overheat a room during the day.

If you have young children, getting out in the garden is always going to be something that can easily please them (and be perfect for you!). Now is the time to start thinking about any preparations you can do in your garden to get it ready for the summer. Does the lawn need some TLC? Do you need to clear away the debris of winter (fallen leaves and last years abandoned items)? Or maybe even giving it a little makeover, so it's ready to be used come the summer? Getting the garden ready now means that it is ready and waiting to be used once the weather gets better!

The School Holidays
One of the biggest aspects of summer for families is of course the long summer break from school. This is a chance to step away from the rigid routine that school puts you in, and allows a little more relaxation on those summer days. Of course not every parent enjoys the summer holidays - it can actually be very stressful if you have to work. So if this is you, it's definitely worth thinking about holiday clubs and childcare options now - definitely do not leave this too late!


While the summer holidays may feel overwhelming at first, if you plan you can often avoid the worry of what to do (and avoid the boredom that can set in quite quickly). It isn’t always about expensive days out, and you don’t always have you have to go somewhere either. Pinterest is full of crafts and ideas you can easily do from home!

Mixing the cheaper days with the odd expensive day trip out can help you spread the cost. There are many family websites online that cover each local area. They are usually updated quite regularly, and will tell you about local events and free activities going on. Website like Groupon are always worth looking at too, as they have a whole range of fantastic deals, that can keep holiday costs down.

Plan a Holiday
Whether that is staying in the UK or heading off abroad somewhere, summer is the perfect time of year for a family holiday. If you do want to go away as a family, then you may want to think about when is best to book that holiday. Usually the earlier you book with package deals and the cheaper they can be - although sometimes you can find some amazing last minute deals. Booking early also gives you more time to save and plan for the trip too.

This is a collaborative post.

Kittie Lacey - The Fairytale Hairdresser | Simple World Book Day Idea


With Indiana now in Reception, this was our first real year of World Book Day celebrations and excitement. I was secretly dreading it; expecting her to come out with a crazy costume idea, or wanting one of the expensive ones from the shop.Thankfully though, she decided she wanted to be a character from one of her favourite book series' ever - Kittie Lacey from The Fairytale Hairdresser.


The outfit was soo simple and easy to do but also looked really effective and fun. And most importantly of all, Indiana loved it! So I thought I would share how I put it together, whether it's for World Book Day or simply dressing up fun.

So, to be Kittie Lacey you will need:

  • Blue t-shirt
  • Jeans / Dark blue leggings 
  • Brown belt
  • White boots / shoes
  • Pink hairspray or a pink wig
  • Hairdresser accessories - scissors, brush, bag, etc
  • Fairytale Hairdresser book to take with you!

I found it a little tricky to find a plain blue tee in the correct shade, but eventually found this one in the boys section of Next (£3!). Of course any blue t-shirt will do though! I then used blue jeggings that Indiana already had, and used one of my own brown belts. I didn't want to buy white wellies to only be worn once, so her white converse did the trick for shoes (although I think white boots would have looked more like the character).



For the pink hair I bought pink coloured hairspray from Poundland (obviously £1!), but next time I would maybe get two cans - one can wasn't enough to make it really pink. I probably wouldn't advice using hairspray if your child is dressing up during the week though - we're still a little pink tinged a week later! You can easily pick up a pink wig on Amazon relatively cheaply instead. 

And finally to complete the outfit, Kittie Lacey of course needs her hairdressing equipment! I actually raided the toy box for these bits, as Indiana already had a pretend doctors kit and styling kit with scissors and a hairbrush in. But you could just use what suitable bits you had at home already. Simple!


The Kitedrone Twinstar Kite | Review

13.3.19


In honour of National Kite Flying Day (February 8th), we were kindly sent a Kitedrone Twinstar kite from Character Options, to try out and review. I had never flown a kite before and neither had the Littles, so we were all so excited to get out and test it out.

Kitedrone offer the ultimate range of high performance kites. Available in two types (Aircraft and Twinstar), they have been designed to be super-easy to assemble, as well as easy to launch and fly. We received the Tiki Surfers Twinstar kite, and I am happy to say it was definitely both of those things!




The kite comes in it's own storage tube, which makes it easy to transport (and also protects the kite from being damaged while out and about or in the car). And assembling it was simply the case of attaching the four rods to form the traditional box shape, and then the line to the outside. The design is simple but effective, and can even be hooked up to a Go-Pro to record your flight!

It took us a couple of attempts to get the kite into the air - you have to keep the line short and taut as you launch the kite, and then give the line a light tug to get the kite flying. But once we had perfected the method we were up and away! As we've had such strong winds recently I was worried we would lose the kite at one point, but it held up really well. Jack and I just made sure to hold onto the spindle extra tight while the Littles were having a go.




The only tricky part of flying the Kitedrone Twinstar kite, was getting it to come back down! It easily flies up to 300 feet in the air, but then you've got to wind it back in once it does - an even harder task when it's super windy out. This definitely wouldn't put me off using it again though, as we had soo much fun flying it!

Twinstar kites are available in 4 colourful designs Tiki Surfers, Hot Rods, Unicorn and Fort and can be purchased now for just £29.99 each. They are aimed at children aged 5+, but are a perfect family activity, especially during these March winds!

We received this kite in exchange for our review. All opinions are honest and my own.

6 Steps to a Planning a Successful Children's Party!

Before I hosted my first children's party, I had nooo idea just how much had to go into the event. These days it's not just booking a hall and letting the party guests run wild - you've got to think of feeding them, the entertainment and of course party favours too! So I've put together this post to help you (hopefully) plan a successful children's party, in just 6 simple steps.


Guest List and Invitations
When planning for your child's birthday party, you have to consider who they want to invite. These guests could be their classmates, their relatives or friends they've made outside of the classroom. Make sure to send invitations early in advance (especially for parties during the holidays) and ask them to confirm their attendance with an RSVP by a certain date. This not only helps you with planning for the event, but will give you an idea of number to give to the venue, or entertainment if they require this.

Food and Drink
Most children's parties involve food in some way or another. Whether this is a little finger buffet, where the children can pick what they want, having pizzas delivered or even going out to a restaurant to eat. We decided to make little lunch bags for Indiana's party (filled with a sandwich, crisps, fruit, a tube yoghurt and something chocolatey), as these were easy to make in advance and relatively cheap.

It's also important to make sure you have enough drinks for the duration of the party - not just for during sit-down food. Most venues will have jugs to fill with juice or water. And don't forget drinks for the parents too!

Birthday Cake
A birthday cake is of course what makes the day complete, and regardless of age, everyone enjoys blowing out candles on a birthday cake! You can make your own homemade cake or order something a little more sophisticated from somewhere like wholesale party supplies. Don't forget to bring along candles for the cake too - or you can even pick up fun sparkler style candles for an even more exciting celebration. And if you've got a lot of guests attending, it's always worth having a back-up cake to hand out in party bags, so everyone gets a piece.


Party Decorations
Birthday party decorations will of course help to create a special atmosphere for the party. If you have chosen a particular theme for you party (such as Stranger Things, Frozen or Spider-Man), many places will sell party packs with items such as cups, plates, and tablecloths. Even if you haven't chosen a theme, you can usually pick up mix and match items from lots of websites or even your local supermarket. So whether you're on a budget or not, you can definitely make your party as exciting as you want!

Entertainment and Activities
A standard two-hour party is usually divided into free play (while guests arrive), then a session of entertainment, another for food and birthday cake, and then free play again while the party winds down. It's always best to plan how you're going to entertain guests, whether that's with music, games or a brought in entertainer.

Planning simple games works best for younger children. The most popular are -

- musical bumps
- musical statues
- musical chairs
- pass the parcel
- a best dancer competition
- duck, duck, goose

Most children will not hold their attention as well for structured activities, so they need to be fun and simple to understand. You can of course hand out simple prizes to the winners too - but just keep in mind that you should have enough prizes so everyone can have one in the end!

If you don't want to have any structure to your party, then hiring a bouncy castle and some other small toys / games would be a great alternative. This way little ones are entertained, but you don't have to be the one to do it!

Party Favours
Party favours don't have to be expensive at all. You can fill party bags with little trinkets and cheap toys from pound stores to keep costs down, and then just add in a slice of birthday cake. Why not think outside of the box though, and give out a homemade item or a book that can be enjoyed for a long time after the party. We bought books that cost £1-2 for Indiana's party from an online bookstore, and then wrapped them up and popped on a sticker from eBay that thanked the guest for coming. Super simple and cheap, and the guests loved them!

The best advice I can give is to not stress over the little things, and enjoy the party you spent so long planning. As long as your child and their friends have fun, then that's all that matters! And if anything goes wrong, there's always next year isn't there?

This is a collaborative post.

Helping your Child with their Balance + Coordination

12.3.19

Balance is something a lot of us adults take for granted. From going down the stairs, to even just sitting at the table, balance plays a key role in a lot of day-to-day activities. For children though, balance is something they need to master as they develop. This is why it’s important that they’re involved in activities that help encourage coordination and balance from a young age. With that in mind, here are some of the top activities that can help teach your child the skills they need.


Swimming
When you’re submerged in water, you have to learn how to work against the resistance of the water, while also using it to your advantage. Understanding how your body works differently in water is key to developing new coordination and balance skills, and it also helps your child begin to develop spatial awareness.

Cycling and Roller Skating
We all remember that feeling of riding our first bike - it’s terrifying but such an exciting feeling once you master it. Riding a bike or whizzing around in a pair of roller boots is all about learning how to position your body, so you maintain your balance. And although quite daunting initially, it’s the perfect way to help your children get used to using their posture to stay coordinated.

Playground Games
Climbing ladders, swinging on ropes and walking across suspended bridges all require a lot of concentration and agility. When things move unexpectedly (such as the swing bridge moving suddenly), it requires a lot of core strength to regain control over our bodies. So even though jungle gyms and playgrounds just seem like great fun to children, they’re actually teaching them valuable skills while training their core.

Simple playground games such as hopscotch and stepping stones are also brilliant for coordination. Hopscotch requires the rapid and frequent change in movements, while stepping stones mean leaping certain distances. All of these challenge your child’s coordination and balance.


What if your Child is Still Struggling with their Balance?
While it’s inevitable that your child may fall over on occasions, or lose control of their bike while riding, there are some other key signs that your child may need help with their balance and coordination.

These include:

* Frequently falling or tripping (and being unable to rebalance themselves quickly).
* Lacking fluid movements so they look more robotic.
* Refraining from joining in with physical activities.
* Being late to start walking or crawling, or other more physical activities.
* Having trouble in certain environments, such as uneven ground or steps.
* Struggling to get dressed standing up.

In cases such as these or if you're particularly worried, you should seek the advice of your doctor. It may be something that can be helped with a bit of support. And catching it early will help ensure your child’s development isn’t hampered in any way.
This is a collaborative post.

Easy Homemade Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

11.3.19

Mother’s Day is right around the corner, and while your partner is probably ensuring your little one has something wonderful planned for you on the day, it's also important you stop to think about your own mum too.

While you may be sending a card and flowers, or even taking her out for some Sunday lunch or a mid-week afternoon tea, she’ll probably be bowled over with a little surprise from her grandchildren. It doesn’t have to be something expensive (a ‘made at home’ gift always goes down well in my experience). You can even make it an extra big surprise by having it delivered by the likes of Parcel2Go, so she doesn’t even know it’s coming.

But what to make? I've made a list of the best (EASY) homemade gifts to create this Mother’s Day. They’ll also provide you with some great quality time with the kids, so it’s a win win really!


Pictures
Everyone loves photos don’t they? However now that we have our phones on us 24/7, we never get photos printed out. So for Mother's Day why not create a scrapbook, which you can fill with an array of photos (of course plenty with your mum herself in them), and then decorated by the little ones. Or you could pre-buy a frame, add in some of the best grandma and grandchildren photos, and then decorate the outside with paints and lots of other arts and crafts bits. Either of these is sure to go down a storm.

Homemade Decorations
Get extra creative with your little ones and create a little salt dough decoration. Salt dough is super easy to make, and you can put hand and footprints into the dough to make wonderful keepsakes, or even use a pre-made cutter to create hearts and stars. Once they’re made, you and your children can sit and decorate them with paints and glitter to make them really special. Don't forget to date and name them on the back, so you can remember how old your little ones were when they were created!

Candles or Plant Pots
Of course you can pre-buy the candles, but how about making the container? You can buy the glass holders (or recycle ones from your old candles), but the next step is where it gets extra crafty. Get paint that can be used on glass and get decorating with your little ones to make fabulous candle holders. You don’t have to stop at candles - with the addition of some soil and a cactus or a succulent plant, these glasses will make fabulous little plant pots (you can even add artificial ones if needed). These will be long-lasting special gifts, that I'm sure she'll cherish forever.

What are your easy homemade gift ideas?
This is a collaborative post.

The Wonder of Baby with SMA® Nutrition

7.3.19

Paid partnership with SMA® Nutrition

Even before having my own children I have been fascinated by the world of babies. How these beautiful tiny bundles, that rely on us as parents for absolutely everything, grow into walking, talking little people in just a space of a few years. Babies grow 25cm in just the first year alone*. Isn't that incredible?


Lilah is my third baby and although I've seen this amazing journey twice before, it is still so special to watch and experience. Born with 300 bones** and 10,000 tastebuds***, a baby’s rate of development is pretty extraordinary, and even at 10 months Lilah had changed SO much already.

The six month milestone felt huge every time for me too. Those hazy newborn days of constant feeding, changing and sleeping are mostly forgotten (unless you have a little sleep thief like my second baby Parker). At six months, a whole new world is opened up to you and baby, with the wonders of weaning, moving and even more growing!

Lilah started moving properly around six months, and I remember watching the won-der in her little face as she was able to reach new areas around the house (or toys she knew she shouldn't have). Now she is crawling incredibly fast, cruising and we're very close to the exciting walking milestone too. I find it amazing that just a few months ago she was simply fascinated by her feet, and now she's up on them moving around.

Despite Lilah being my third baby, it hasn't been the easiest journey. Advice and guidelines are constantly changing, and with every baby’s wants and needs being completely different, making decisions in the early stages of development can be confusing and overwhelming. I've found that things which previously worked when Indiana and Parker were babies, simply haven't worked for Lilah. It's for reasons like this that SMA® Nutrition have their own SMA Careline®, which has been supporting parents like you and me for 20 years.


Run by a dedicated team of expert parents, with first-hand experience in everything related to babies, you can call upon the free SMA Careline® team 24hrs a day, 7 days a week if you have any worries or are in need of advice on anything related to preg-nancy, babies or toddlers. The SMA Careline® is available to absolutely anybody, an-ywhere via Live Chat and Facebook messenger, and can offer tips and advice on any-thing from weaning, to breastfeeding and beyond!

Weaning has always been one of the biggest milestones for me. Despite eating a varied diet (a lot of food) Lilah still drank three bottles of follow-on milk a day - SMA® Nutrition have been leading baby nutrition research for over 100 years, gathering all the nutritional know-how on how little ones grow and develop. As she is now 12 months old, we’re switching her on to SMA® PRO Growing Up Milk, a fortified milk drink for young children from 12 months and contains vitamin D and calcium to sup-port the normal growth and development of bones
 

I have loved watching Lilah grow and change over the last 12 months, and I am even more excited to see what her next milestones are going to be. We still have so many to come, and they will be even more special this time, as not just Jack and I get to ex-perience these, but so do her big brother and sister! I am going to be sharing more about life with three little ones in one of my future posts. As I've mentioned before, every baby is so different, and the experience of watching Lilah grow with two older siblings has been so special.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: SMA® PRO Follow-on Milk is only suitable for babies over 6 months as part of a mixed diet. It should not be used as a substitute for breast milk during the first 6 months. SMA® PRO Growing Up Milk is suitable for young children from 1-3 years, as part of a healthy balanced diet and it is not a breast milk substitute.

What have you found most fascinating about your baby’s development? Comment below! 

References:

* - Johnson CP and Blasco PA. Infant Growth and Development. Pediatrics in Review (1997), vol 18, no.7 , 224-242).

** - Peate I, Gormley-Fleming E., eds (2015). Fundamentals of Children's Anatomy and Physioogy: A Textbook for Nursing and Healthcare Students, page 404. UK, Wiley Blackwell

*** Montague S et al., eds(2005). Physiology for nursing practice. 3rd Edition. Edinburgh. Elsevier.

8 Steps to Planning a Successful Wedding!

3.3.19

Planning your big day can be a very stressful time, so it is not something that most people leave until the very last minute. For the most part, venues, bands and honeymoons often need to be booked as much as a year in advance! This is why most couples spring into action and start planning from the moment the question has been popped. This post is going to share 8 steps that you can follow, to ensure that you have a successful wedding!

Create a Wedding Checklist
When it comes to planning a wedding, most people start by creating a checklist! It is important to jot everything down since there is so much to consider. This list can then be displayed somewhere where you can see it and refer back to it. Why not consider drawing up the checklist on a large whiteboard and displaying it in your home study. It's also likely that little things might be forgotten about at first, so having a list on show will help remind you. Not to mention, the level of satisfaction felt when you finally cross an item off the list!


Set a Budget
Weddings do not come cheap - which is especially true if you are hoping for a fairytale big white wedding that would make even Cinderella herself envious! Unfortunately, it can often seem that as much as you plan, unforeseen costs somehow creep onto the scene. It is important to set aside your “true” total budget from the onset so that you have this in mind with every purchasing decision.

Buy a Wedding Planner
Although having a large checklist on display is handy, you can't exactly take it out and about with you to appointments and venue visits. A large wedding binder with separated sections for each aspect of the big day is therefore a great way to keep everything in one place - and you can take it with you wherever you go! Everything from fabric samples, to venue polaroids, to contact details can be kept in this handy little bible.

Book your Venue Early
The best venues often become booked out as much as more than one year in advance. As such, the first thing that ought to be on your radar as soon as you know that you are getting married is the venue. Discuss and brainstorm with your partner the type of theme you would like your wedding to have, and then from there you should try and organise viewings at the locations as early as possible. It's definitely best to have a date for your wedding in mind before viewings too, so that once you've found 'the one', you can book straight away!

Send Wedding Invites with Plenty of Notice
Don’t get so consumed in planning your wedding that you forget about the invitations. After you have crafted beautiful wedding invitations, get them sent out at least between 6-12 months in advance. This is particularly important if you are getting married over the summer or during the festive season, when people are likely to travel elsewhere. You can even send 'save the dates' as soon as you've secured a venue, before the official invites.


Don't do Everything by Yourself
Although you will surely want every minute detail of your wedding to be perfect, you don’t have to do it all alone. Your friends and family will no doubt be more than happy to lend a hand in the preparations - and don't forget to involve you husband-to-be either!

And of course if you do get your wedding party involved, it's always best to thank them on the big day with a special gift. Buying personalised gifts for groomsmen and bridesmaids is a nice way to show your appreciation. Not only do these people have great honour and responsibility during the big day itself, they are also likely the ones who are there lending a shoulder to cry on throughout the stress and preparations!

Take Everything One Step at a Time
With so much to consider, it is easy to get overwhelmed when planning your wedding. Don’t get yourself worked up thinking about the never-ending list of things that you need to plan, book and organise. Tackle your wedding to-do list one step at a time. Organise the venue, then move on to the guest list and invitations, then the dress - don't stress about the small stuff before the big details are even sorted.

Remember to Relax!
And the most important step of all - RELAX. Your wedding may feel like the biggest thing in your life right now, but try not to let yourself get too consumed by the preparations. Remember to still make time to have date night with your partner and have fun with friends. You may find that planning is actually easier when you take the time to recoup and rejuvenate yourself, rather than dwelling on wedding plans 24 hours a day.

Planning a wedding can be a stressful time, but it is a time that you are only going to experience once. Don’t feel afraid to call on your support network and try to sit back and enjoy everything that comes your way. Good luck!

This is a collaborative post.

This Is Little Baby Bum - Songs and Stories Magazine | Review

2.3.19


Every time I pop into the local shop or any supermarket Parker runs straight to the magazine aisle. He loves looking through them, pointing out the characters and seeing what special free gifts are on offer. So when I was asked if I wanted to review the new Songs and Stories magazine from Little Baby Bum, of course I said yes!

If you're wondering why the Little Baby Bum name sounds familiar, you probably know them best as the world's largest education Youtube channel - home to animated videos of both traditional nursery rhymes, and their own original children's songs. And they have now brought their well known characters and fun to their very own magazine!





The magazine is packed full of fun and engaging activities, such as colouring and counting, stories, puzzles and even delicious snack recipes. Of course there are also a number of nursery rhymes for you and your little one to sing and dance along too. Plus there are scannable QR codes on nearly every page, which take you directly to the corresponding Little Baby Bum Youtube video. How cool is that? Parker was especially thrilled to find that the issue we received even had a whole page dedicated to Baby Shark - a winner for any child I think!

Every page is bright and colourful, which I think is essential with a magazine aimed at young children. Plus, despite being the Little Baby Bum brand, I don't think your little ones need to know who they are to enjoy what's inside - they can learn along the way, with the help of the pull-out chapter poster too! 




This issue of Little Baby Bum Songs and Stories included a lovely free bath book as a special gift. Lilah (13 months) took an instant shining to it, although I think all three will enjoy reading it in the bath too. Some free items with magazines can be cheap and easily break, so I was really pleased with to see the bath book!

Overall we were really pleased with the Songs and Stories magazine. The pages are packed with lots of things to read and do, and I love the added detail of the QR codes. I do think the magazine is quite pricey though (and therefore not something we could buy on a regular basis). But as an occasional special treat, I think it is fab for little ones! 

Sponsored post in collaboration with DCT Media

How to Organise your Family Calendar

1.3.19

Every year we all start out with the best of intentions, don't we? With new calendars and diaries; hoping to keep our lives as organised and prepared as possible. But now we're in March I’ve realised that things have started to slip, and we’re slowly descending back into a world of chaos.

Even though we still manage to get everything done and we still get to (mostly) everything on time, there are still those heart-stopping moments when I realise we’ve forgotten to something, or the deadline for an important piece of work has passed. So with that in mind, I thought I’d gather together some helpful tips on how you (and I) can finally organise our family calendars.


Make Everyone Responsible for Organising their own Tasks
This isn’t a possibility for really little ones, but it is great to introduce as your children start to get older. Create a calendar where each family member has their own section (weekly calendars are particularly good for this) and use this to assign to-dos and tasks. Then as each person completes their tasks, they tick them off - and perhaps even get a reward for getting to the end of their list. You could even create a calendar in Google so you can set up automated alerts!

Not only does this help you keep on top of everything each week, but it’s also a great tool for helping teach your children organisational skills. The incentive of a reward for achieving everything will also (hopefully) make them keener to do the more dreaded chores too.

Sort out Important Monthly/Yearly Tasks in Advance
One huge downfall for many families is to put things off until a later date. For example, if your yearly dental appointment isn’t due for another month or so you might say to yourself that you’ll sort that out next week. But before you know it, you’re overdue and struggling to get an appointment.

It's best to look at all those important things you need to do over the course of the year, and make sure they’re entered into your calendar well in advance. Need to tax the car in April? Make sure you’ve reminded yourself about this in the last week of March. Equally, I also find it beneficial to have an afternoon of booking and organising things that I can prepare in advance. For instance, you could book your MOT a good month or so before it’s due – and you might even want to look for companies that do remote MOTs so you don’t even have to leave the house!

Sitting down and looking at all of those important things you and your family need to complete each month, will really help you prioritise and organise your tasks. And even though this may feel like a daunting task at first, it will be more than worth it if you want to reduce your stress levels, and the risk of forgetting something, a few months down the line!

This is a collaborative post.

How to Prepare your Car for Long Road Trips

Most of us love days out and holidays as a family, but there are probably only a few of us who enjoy the long car journeys that these can involve. But with so many places to visit in the UK and further afield, it’s almost always worth the travel. And thankfully, there are a few ways we can prepare ourselves (and our cars) for these long trips!


Organisation
For any trip organisation is key, and this is especially true when it comes to packing your car. With clever packing, a long car journey could become a straightforward process! A spacious, reliable car will heighten comfort for everyone who’s travelling too. Luckily specialists like the AA can guarantee both qualities for customers, so you can keep children entertained and create comfort at the same time.

If you're worried about mess, make sure your children only bring small to medium sized items. This way they can easily be slotted in the side holders of each passenger door, or in the back pockets of the front seats. If you don't have either of these, it's definitely worth investing in a car seat organiser, as these save so much space!

Entertainment
Toys can be great entertainment devices, but only for a certain amount of time. Eventually, little ones are likely to want something else to focus on, so it may help to have a back-up plan. Consider your children’s hobbies. Do they like reading for example? If so, why not buy an audiobook of a story by their favourite author. Or if they like a certain film, then why not buy the soundtrack to listen to during the trip. You can even play simple road games as a family. Whatever it is, make sure to mix it up during the trip, to prevent anyone from getting bored.


Dining
A lot of people may prefer to avoid eating in the car at all costs. But when you’re stuck in a vehicle with children on a motorway, this can be tricky to sustain. Especially if you want to avoid hungry, grumpy passengers! If you prepare food wisely you can help to prevent most of the mess - opt for dry foods and lidded cups, and avoid anything crumbly or sticky at all costs. Better still, factor in a stop at a services - that way you can eat outside of the car, and everyone can stretch their legs too!

With a bit of forward planning, long car journeys can be just as fun as the destination we are driving too. Just remember to pack everything you need, plan your route properly, and stop regularly for food and toilet breaks!

This is a collaborative post.

The Me and Mine Project | February 2019

Can you believe we've reached the end of the month already? January felt like the longest month ever, but February went by in a flash. I think this was definitely helped along by half term, and the glorious sunshine over the last few days. Sadly though, the sun has disappeared again and we're back to the madness of school runs and fitting in family time. Roll on Easter!

I have a love / hate relationship with February half term. It's usually too miserable to do anything, and anyone with children will know how much harder it is to parent, when you're stuck indoors each day. Especially as my big two can't seem to get along longer than 5 minutes at the moment. But this year it felt different. Maybe because the weather meant we could get out a lot more. And definitely because Jack and I had a child-free (well.. we still had Lilah) weekend away!



Of course this month's Me and Mine Project photos were taken in our favourite February spot. We have come to this little clearing for the last 4 years now, and I love that you can watch our family grow each year. Yes it's probably a cheesy little tradition. But it's ours, and I bloody love it! You can see 2018, 2017 and 2016 posts here.