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“Beep beep’m beep beep yeah” | I FINALLY passed!

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This time last week I was plodding about the house… already getting nervous about Thursday. For Thursday I would be having ANOTHER driving test. I hadn’t told anyone when my test was (aside from work). Mr Memoirs didn’t even have a clue. I have a terrible habit of getting myself worked up over things. I’ve always been a worrier. More so since having Eli of course, but still, I worry needlessly. Much to my disadvantage when I have an impending driving test!

After all these years of not driving… and not even wanting to drive, to it becoming such a necessity in my life that I was without. It wasn’t just the umpteenth walk up to the ‘local’ hospital for Eli’s physio appointment, or the walk up to Sainsbury’s for the second time that day, for the million things I’d forgotten (and having to cart it all back on the back of the pram)… or the fact I was trekking 2 HOURS every day to get Eli to nursery and back. It’s so much more than that. It’s the freedom to whisk my family away if need’s be. To be able to do things my friends do; and not miss out because the car seat would be a problem. Of course, I really wanted to be without the trek to the nursery. Nobody want’s to walk 2 hours every day in the howling wind and rain (granted, it was a lovely walk when the sun shone, but since July the path has been treacherous to say the very least – thank you Brentwood Council for making a massive pig’s ear of your roads – which in turn, made a massive pig’s ear of the path!). We’re free – as a family. And that’s so exciting.

I honestly cannot believe it. It feels very surreal.

My first drive was the nursery run. I felt liberated and a nervous wreck. I parked 5 minutes walk away in a pub car park because the nursery forecourt is a driving nightmare. Picking Eli up on Friday felt amazing. I did feel like I was an illegal driver however, and it really felt like all the other drivers KNEW I was new to the roads… it’s like they were all looking at me in my car. So very strange. I know they weren’t looking, at all!

The car still feels very big and I must have stalled about 40 times in the 6 drives I’ve done (mostly trying to get off the drive – it’s a hill). But all in all, I *think* I’m getting there. I CAN drive. I AM a driver. And that feels nice.

MM.

NB: I took 5 driving tests. Proof that you shouldn’t ever give up – if you want something, you will achieve it, eventually. Also, Brentwood Test Centre has a pass rate of 36% – they’re ridiculously harsh; to the point that I was failed on my last test because I wasn’t dramatic enough with how I was making observations – the examiner agreed that during the “incident” in question, I “did look”, it just wasn’t “obvious enough”.  I’d failed my previous tests for similar issues. I knew I was a good driver at heart, I let the nerves get the better of me, but this time I wasn’t going to be beaten! Plus my Provisional License was due to expire in October this year and I sure as hell was not going to get that renewed – I NEEDED that Full License! And I got it! DON’T GIVE UP – KEEP ON PLODDING! And you never know, if you’re taking your driving test as a ‘mature student’ like I was, maybe you might have a nicer test centre who appreciate how difficult it is to not be that ruthless and overly confident 17 year old! I will keep my fingers crossed for you. 

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CUSTOMER SERVICE | Kiddicare, Lakeside.

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I just HAD to write a blog post on the customer service we received on a recent trip to Kiddicare, Lakeside.

So let’s start at the beginning…

We decided that we REALLY, REALLY needed to get Eli is new car seat after massively outgrowing his old one a little while ago. The weather was pretty bleak on our journey to Kiddicare, so when we arrived and were greeted with (Starbucks) hot chocolate at the door, it was more than welcome! Such a nice touch.

We headed straight over the to vast car seat section of the superstore. A friend of ours had recommended the Maxi Cosi, Axiss car seat – but it had been priced at £225 previously on Amazon, so we had disregarded that one.

As fans of Maxi Cosi however, we started looking at cheaper models. We found a great one for £120… but it didn’t swivel. After struggling with our old car seat and pulling our necks/backs trying to get Eli into the damn thing without banging his head in the process, I wanted one that swivelled! So we looked at the Maxi Cosi Axiss anyway – it was priced at £160 in Kiddicare. Quite a saving! We checked out how much it would be on Amazon, and couldn’t believe the price had dropped to £113!!! Even better. We couldn’t believe it. We went to the Car Seat fitting desk to ask some questions about this model. They told us that this particular car seat only fits 20% of cars; and they test each car seat fits your car, for you. We thought this was a great service.

I mentioned the price difference… and then noticed that they had signs around the store that said “Price Match Guarantee”. I, cheekily, thought I’d ask the lady at the front desk if they would indeed price match with the Amazon price. She was so lovely and said that yes, indeed they would! As long as the item on Amazon was sold by Amazon, and not a private seller. We ACTUALLY couldn’t believe it.

So then we had the car seat fitted into our car – it was pouring down at this point and the two lovely assistants had smiles on their faces and nothing but positivity about them. The car seat fitted like a glove! Again, we couldn’t believe it.  Out of 20% of cars! PERFECT – LET’S BUY IT! We got to the car seat desk again to have our receipt for collection printed out. The car seat we’d ordered was the LAST ONE IN STOCK. Unbelievable.

So with that, we dashed to the till to pay. The lady at the till, again, was so lovely and polite. It makes such a difference to have a smile and a ‘hello’, doesn’t it? Another assistant sorted out the price match while some other items were put through the till for us. They then said, “So the car seat will be £99 today, is that ok?”. EXCUSE ME WHAT? WHO THE WHAT NOW?

This is where it gets RIDICULOUS. When Kiddicare do a price match, not only do they match that price – but they then extend the discount to a further 25%. How amazing is that? The car seat that we really wanted, that was £225 RRP was just sold to us for more than half the price! We felt like we’d committed a crime as we walked out the doors, with the same lovely assistant who had tested the car seat.

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She again fitted the car seat for us, for the drive home. She showed us how everything worked. All this in the pouring rain! Then she took the card board box away to recycle for us. So polite and patient, she didn’t rush or cut any corners. Just simple good manners and being good at her job. She strived to go the extra mile to make sure we were comfortable and confident with the car seat. You REALLY don’t get service like we received anywhere (apart from maybe John Lewis), and that’s such a great shame.

We can’t thank Kiddicare Lakeside, enough for their help that day – or the huge saving! It meant that we could have our first date night in a very long time 🙂 So there you go, always head to your local Kiddicare store or shop online at Kiddicare.com and get a price match where you can. We’re certainly customers for LIFE.

MM.

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Our changing bag: The Mulberry Clipper Holdall.

This has been the sight next to our front door, for the past NINE weeks. These are all our hospital bags, ready and waiting! Suitcase is mine, and is filled to the brim with every essential you need for your stay at hospital – you can read what those absolute essentials are, here>>I’ve FINALLY done it! Hospital Bag(s) are packed! The amazing Mulberry Clipper Holdall is our changing bag (more on that in a second), the Barbour bag to the bottom left is OH’s essentials (iPad, change of clothing, toiletries) and the Borough Market bag is all our food supplies!

So, Changing Bag… we spent such a long time searching for the “perfect” bag. We wanted something that didn’t look ‘Mummsy’. We didn’t want something that was feminine, OH will be carrying it around too! During our search we found that there was nothing that was completely unisex – apart from the generic black satchel style bags… which to be honest, just didn’t hit the spot for us! This is going to be a bag that we’ll use every day, so we wanted to be really happy with it! All of the ‘Mummsy’ style bags are pretty expensive anyway, £250+!

We looked for actual Leather satchels as we felt this would be most universal for us both. But with Leather, comes a pricetag. We soon found that even just nice Leather satchel bags, that weren’t necessarily for our purpose, were coming up at £400+. When we would look into the details of these bags, we found that there just wouldn’t be enough space for everything that a babba needs on a daily basis – as well as what we might need to cram in for ourselves too! We also decided we wanted something that would be kind of waterproof – Britain is not renowned for it’s dry weather is it!

We went to all the usual high street stores in search of just a standard, but small, holdall that would meet all our demands. We almost settled on this one from Barbour – Barbour Wax Cotton and Leather Trim Satchel, £119: Style available from JohnLewis.com

But, this bag is actually a little too big for what we need it for! It looked massive against me and I just couldn’t see ME using it. OH on the other hand, was chuffed with it.

So on with the search!

I’m a massive fan of Mulberry. It’s my favourite brand. So, I said I wanted a Mulberry Alexa…

Mulberry Oversized Alexa Messenger & Shoulder Bag, £925. Style available from JohnLewis.com

But then we realised that the £795 size wasn’t big enough… and £795 is a ridiculous price for a ‘changing’ bag! OH also concluded that an Alexa was too feminine for him. I did email Mulberry regarding changing bags, as they’re clearly missing a huge audience by not offering a selection! They replied to me with:

We have taken on board customer requests for changing bags and our soon to be available Autumn Winter 2012 collection will include the Rosie Baby bag in Black or Oak Tiger Print Nylon as part of the range.

Pretty exciting! But a bit too late…

Then I started looking at their holdalls. We’d always said we wanted a Clipper holdall. They’re classic Mulberry. They’re perfect for trips away. They’re a style that just will not date – but will get better with age.

We went along to Westfield: Stratford City to take a closer look. The Simple Mulberry Clipper Holdall (£350), was the perfect size! Inside and out 🙂

So we said “sod it” and bought it 😀 It’s beautiful. We’re over the moon with it – and more to the point, unlike ‘real’ changing bags, we’ll be using this holdall for years and years and years and years to come. It’s a style that is built to last! So we were happy to pay the £350 price-tag, because it’s going to get so much more use than a standard changing bag. It completely meets our very niche criteria and OH cannot wait to get outside with it 🙂

MM.

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Guest Post for Wriggly Rascals: Ligament pain during pregnancy.

 

When the lovely ladies from Wriggly Rascals approached me about doing this guest post I knew that it was something I could definitely discuss at length… I’d had ligament pain since the very early weeks of my pregnancy…

To read my full blog post, head over to www.wrigglyrascals.com and straight to Ligament Pain During Pregnancy ! Please do tell us all about your experiences with Ligament Pain during Pregnancy. What helped you out the most? How was your birth and recovery? Did you encounter the pain in subsequent pregnancies?

And don’t forget to sign up to the website to join the conversation!

MM.

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If you need any #pregnancy reassurance, ask @wrigglyrascals for help. www.wrigglyrascals.com

@wrigglyrascals is a new community to help #newmums, join in. www.wrigglyrascals.com
About Wriggly Rascals
Wriggly Rascals was set up by Shona Motherwell, a frustrated mum of twins Mhairi and Archie to get mums together to share pregnancy, baby and toddler advice via quick surveys to get the facts about what other mums do. Our mums pass on loads of great tips to mums who have asked for help. If you would like some advice, get in touch at www.wrigglyrascals.com

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I’ve FINALLY done it! Hospital Bag(s) are packed!

After weeks and weeks of , “Oh, I’ll definitely pack it this weekend!“, I did actually get round to packing my hospital bag(s) this week! But only after I thought I was going into labour with my coccyx pain! Perhaps Baby Boy Bump was tired of my excuses for not packing the bags too!

So, with this all in mind. I thought I’d share my list of ESSENTIALS. I’ve been through absolutely dozens of “What to pack…” lists, along with forums and speaking with friends. And I think I’ve pretty much formed the definitive list. You DO need to take lots to the hospital. I’ve chosen to take everything in a suitcase simply because it’s easier than cramming everything into lots of bags… it will also fit in the boot of our car neater 🙂 I do know it looks like I’m going on holiday, but I swear, it’s all completely necessary!

Here we go then…

FOR ME.
To have ready to hand.
Birth plan/preferences
Maternity notes
Cash for carpark
Cash for payphone – there might not be signal. The battery might go on your phone!

For labour/ward.
Maternity pads – two packs of 10
Breast pads – 15 pairs
Cheap nightie(s)
Large cotton knickers – 7-10 pairs
Bedsocks with grips to the bottom – your feet get cold during labour.
Massage oil
Lipbalm
Bobbles
Headband
Hair grips
Brush
Pillows – my usual pillow and maternity pillow
x2 Dark towels
Phone chargers
Change of clothing for leaving the hospital – baggy, to fit at least a 4-5 month pregnant bump.
Slippers/Flip flops
Fan
Stopwatch – to time contractions
Swimwear – for the birthing pool!
Hot water bottle
Plastic jug – useful for afterwards, going to the loo is likely to be quite painful. Pouring a jug of warm water over the affected area whilst going to the loo can allegedly help sooth the pain.
List of phone numbers on paper
Face cloth
Camera
Toilet roll – we like our quilted Andrex!
Plastic bag for dirty clothes/towels
Book/Magazines
Pen and paper – useful for writing down notes that may be passed on from doctors/midwives; or in the instance that I can’t talk whilst mid-contraction! Also good to have if we get bored and fancy hangman!
Clean clothing for James (Other half)
Ear plugs – it might be quite noisy… 
Nice nightie for afterwards
Dark dressing gown
Birthing ball – just incase there isn’t one spare. This can be left in the boot if not needed.
Birthing ball pump

Toiletries
Shampoo
Conditioner
Makeup bag
Mirror
Deoderant
Toothpaste
Toothbrush
Mouthwash
Facewipes
Antibacterial hand gel
Gaviscon
Anusol
Deoderant
Dettol wipes for ward
Lavender Oil
James’ wash bag with toothbrush/deoderant/bryl creme

Something extra…
Chocolates for the Midwives for afterwards
Card for the Midwives for afterwards

Food/Snacks/Drinks
Raspberry Leaf Tea
Mini cheddars
Bananas
Cereal bars
Frozen drinks – it’s apparently quite hot on the wards. A frozen drink will melt slowly, so will be much nicer than warm bottled water!
Juice – cordial
Bottles of water
Glucose tablets
Bendy straws – useful for drinking at any angle!
Crisps
Two plastic cups – so we can celebrate afterwards?!
Peppermint teabags – useful for trapped wind and cramps afterwards.
Dried fruit
Chocolate
Soreen

BABY CHANGING BAG.
Going home outfit
x5 vests
x5 baby grow’s
Pair of scratch mittens
Hat
Booties
Blanket
x6 muslin squares
x6 bibs
Soft toy
Swaddle
Towel
Cardigan – just incase, I know it’s July, but I do live in England.

Toiletries
Cotton wool balls/Cotton wool pleats
Grooming kit – for his little nails!
x27 nappies – a whole pack of Pampers New Born.
Sudacrem
Vaseline – useful for smothering over Baby Boy’s bum, it makes it easier to clean the first newborn poo’s away.
Bottles – just incase there’s an issue with breast feeding.
Ready made formula bottles – just incase there’s an issue with breast feeding.

Is there anything I’m missing from your own list?! Something that might have proven absolutely essential for you during labour or afterwards?

MM.

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Warning: May induce hysterical tears. (Or maybe that’s just me then!)

While watching the Britain’s Got Talent – Final last night an advert came on that reduced me to hysterical “I can’t breathe” tears. I got emotional at adverts before my pregnancy, but now it’s an absolute extreme set of events. Horrendous. Not only did I sob my heart out at the entire advert, not even knowing what the advert was even advertising, it got to the end and I couldn’t breathe when I found out it was for Volkswagen Polo. OUR CAR! Cue more intense hysterical sobbing.

The advert is tells the story of a very protective Dad, through the years of his lovely daughter growing up. Then handing out a brand spanking new Volkswagen Polo to her as she drives off to university… more crying ensues (on my part).

If you think you’re tough enough to watch this advert, click the play button below! Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

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Thoughts on the Silver Cross ‘Balmoral’ pram? As seen with Lily Allen.

After seeing this picture of Lily Allen with the Silver Cross “Balmoral” pram I just had to write a blog post to see what you all thought!

First things first, it’s an eerily old fashioned pram – one of which I had a miniature version when I was growing up for my own dolls, and loved dearly! I always said “When I grow up I want a pram like this in real life”. Now real life is happening and I can’t think of a pram worse!

Obviously, this is my own opinion, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

But this pram is clunky, it’s too old-fashioned for dare I say it; modern times…. and this is coming from someone who’s house looks like a throw-back to the 70’s. It just isn’t practical. How on earth would I get on a bus with this pram? It certainly wouldn’t fit into the boot or even the back seat of our modest family car either! Which just makes me think – is this simply a pram for the celebrities? Also, the only time I’ve seen this style of pram recently is on that “Gypsy Wedding” programme (of which I’ve only seen the one episode and was appalled with the explicit dance moves and provocative clothing of FIVE YEAR OLDS, so couldn’t watch it again).

Another thing is, this pram does not come cheap. It’s £1250. I know our iCandy Strawberry did not come cheap, but we chose it on it’s practical-ness, it can fit in all cars, its perfect for public transport, it can rotate to front/rear facing and converts to accomodate a car seat, carry cot and seat unit. The iCandy Strawberry will also cater a child up to 3-4 years old. I can’t see how this Balmoral pram will accomodate a child from 6 months upwards really!?

Also, looking at the gallery of the Balmoral style on the Silver Cross website I couldn’t help but notice that the model looks ‘too tall’ for the pram. Just look how low down that handle bar is! OH certainly wouldn’t be able to push this pram that’s for sure.

So what do you think then? Am I being unreasonable here?! Do you have the Balmoral pram?

MM.

 

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Our iCandy Strawberry: Seat unit/Stroller and Carrycot.

**Quick warning, this post is quite photograph heavy**

We had looked at lots and lots and lots of reviews of travel systems, push chairs, strollers, joggers, car seats – everything! We came to the conclusion that we *needed* the iCandy Apple. No, not because we’re massive Apple fans… but because iCandy products are the most innovative, easy-on-the-eye and well received. Also, it’s quite important to us that iCandy is a British brand – we’re massive supporters of all things heritage, so this was also a key selling point for us!

Upon further investigation, we found that the iCandy Strawberry was due to be released – after much anticipation. We watched a ton of videos from trade fairs and Which, along with reviews, and decided that we now *needed* the iCandy Strawberry. We called up John Lewis dozens of times awaiting the delivery of it to the shop floor so we could look at it in real life. FINALLY, it had arrived at the Oxford Street store, so we dashed down after work to have a butchers.

We were not disappointed – but knew there was a waiting list and all products that were being delivered, were going straight to customers who had pre-ordered, months and months and months previous.

We looked at a handful of forums and spoke to iCandy stockists and found that we were likely to have a 3 month wait. So we thought, ‘sod it, let’s get it ordered’. So at just 12 weeks pregnant, we ordered the entire package from John Lewis in Stratford. We just wanted to keep it simple colour-wise, black goes with everything – and is unisex. So we ordered the seat unit (£450) and seat unit flavour pack in Assam (£75) along with carry cot (£95) and carry cot flavour pack in Assam (£75).

We were told that we’d get a phone call when everything was in stock, ready for dispatch. Personally, I thought it would be longer than the 3 month wait… judging by conversations around the amount of pre-orders and the length of time it takes to dispatch to the stockist – for the stockist to then dispatch to the customer directly. Just 3 weeks later we got a phone call saying that all items would be delivered in a further 3 days time! We couldn’t believe it.

But hey, I did say we were organised, didn’t I? 😉

So, obviously, at just 24+1 weeks pregnant, we haven’t given it a proper test drive yet. But check out the pictures. We’re chuffed with it! Will have to follow up on this post when Baby Boy actually arrives! From driving it around the house, I can confirm that it is smooth, easy to manoeuvre and quite light. The iCandy Strawberry comes with ‘memory’, meaning that it can be folded with the seat unit attached still – it will then unfold back into the same position before it was folded.

What’s in the box? iCandy Strawberry Chassis, Stroller seat unit, bumper bar, wheels, rain cover and instructions/warranty.

What’s in the box? iCandy carrycot, bumper bar, rain cover, instructions/warranty.

Carry cot attached, with bumper bar. The carry cot features the Assam flavour pack – hood and cover.

Stroller, rear facing. The stroller features the Assam flavour pack – hood and seat cover.

Stroller, front facing.

Folded, free standing, with stroller still attached.

Folded, laid flat with stroller still attached.

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We’ve also ordered the Maxi Cosi Cabriofix car seat from Amazon, which attaches to the iCandy Strawberry chassis. You need to purchase the Maxi Cosi Cabriofix adapters (£30) however!

The complete iCandy Strawberry Travel System that we purchased above came to a total of £725 from John Lewis. We still need to purchase a the Parasol (£25), which can now be purchased online at JohnLewis.com

MM.