As I sit bounce on my birth ball and write this post, I am currently 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant.
The “Any news?” and the “How are you feeling today…. ?” and the “Any twinges?” and the “Any sign of movement?” and the “Do you think it’ll be today?” and even the “ARE YOU IN LABOUR?!” messages are coming in thick and fast. In fact, they’ve been coming in thick and fast since around 35 weeks. Granted, the influx of messages this past week isn’t helped by my stint on BBC Radio 1 with Scott Mills & Chris Stark; that was my bad. But also, imagine this, 5 weeks of daily messages that aren’t really helping with my precious Oxytocin* levels.
*Oxytocin is the ‘love hormone’. The hormone we release when we feel good. This exact same hormone is responsible for every single surge we experience during labour. The hormone that drives your labour is Oxytocin – so we want to ensure our body is filled with Oxytocin!
I know the messages are well meaning and I know they’re from a good place, mostly of excitement for us all, which is lovely! Even when its from the random ‘friend’ with whom you’re “friends” with on Facebook, but haven’t spoken to since you left school or the SECURITY GUARD in sodding Waitrose! I’ve been polite and responded with my favourite affirmation, “My baby will come when my baby is ready”. – Which I know has caused some annoyance, but it is a true statement and it’s my go-to affirmation! Let’s be honest though, we really aren’t going to forget to message or indeed announce the arrival of our little babe. Honestly, we won’t…. Unless the messages and calls and comments keep coming, in which case, maybe we won’t tell you anything 😉 (To say that, The First Fourty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing a New Mother is looking very favourable right now, would not be an understatement 😉 haha)
So, with this all in mind, my phone is either on silent or on Do Not Disturb…or perhaps I’m resting/nesting/napping/busy hanging with Eli. And if I do happen to open a message regarding the imminent arrival of our little one, even if its sent under the clever guise of “How are you doing today? Not as hot, which must be great for you!“, then I’m truthfully sorry, but I just cannot reply to these messages or comments any longer. James will update you instead. I’ve already taken myself away from social media (if you hadn’t noticed). The pressure of going into the later stages of my ‘due window’ and receiving daily communications like the above is driving me to distraction. I was tempted to switch my phone off completely… but I would assume that reaching the answer phone would only stir up additional excitement. So Do Not Disturb and having James monitor my messages it is. This might sound drastic or even dramatic, but in the most polite of terms, I have to put myself first now. I struggle with anxiety, and I’m dealing with all-sorts in me head as it is, so from my own personal perspective, this is just something that I need to do.
Being ‘overdue’ is exactly why we should be given a DUE WINDOW – or a ‘due month’. Every NHS provider here in the UK will allow a woman to reach 42 weeks before any medical assistance. And even then, we can decline intervention of any kind, unless there is a medical necessity of course. Therefore your ‘due window’ ranges from 37 weeks to 42 weeks. As my sister pointed out the other day, women have been giving birth for millions of years without assistance – they’ve also been giving birth without a specific time slot for the baby’s arrival too.
The obsession on due dates is mind-blowing. The pressure on women to give birth by an exact date is ridiculous. Dates can be wrong, really wrong. My cycle following my miscarriage went from being a standard 28 days to anything up to 35 days. I don’t know the exact moment I ovulated and I don’t know the exact moment I conceived this little babe. My body is not a robot, and neither is my baby. So how on earth is the baby meant to know when to arrive?! She doesn’t get an alarm clock in there that goes off at 40 weeks. In actual fact, here in the UK, only 3-5% of babies are born on their ‘due date’. Thats potentially 97% of women going into the later stages of their own due window. This is quite commonplace. And even though I’ve been doing alllllllll of the old wives tales (Curry, Pineapple – of which has now severely blistered my tongue, x3 cups of Raspberry Leaf Tea a day, 6 dates a day etc), NOTHING will kickstart labour unless the mother is relaxed, calm and at ease. Any slight stress or apprehension, (darling family and friends, I am really sorry, but the messages are included here) WILL stop labour from starting. This most certainly happened with Eli so I have been doing EVERYTHING I can to avoid the trauma of Eli’s labour and birth happening a second time around – with Hypnobirthing playing the integral part here <<<< That will be my next post.
So, until I’m stress-free and relaxed, my baby will not release the hormone, Fibronectin. Yes, this is getting very Science, but as I said, this is not down to me, this is all precise science. Fibronectin is the protein produced by the baby which is released into the amniotic sac. This protein is then picked up by the cervix and given the go ahead to start labour. My baby quite literally knows when and how to be born.
Here is a list of things keeping me busy in the meantime:
“My baby will come when my baby is ready” – by literal means, as mentioned above. I trust that my baby and my body will work together when the time is right. My baby is cosy and healthy and safe in there right now. She’s still kicking the crap out of my ribs and undercarriage. So thats the main thing!
Cleaning and tidying, again.
Probably re-packing my hospital bags for the 100th time.
Waking every hour during the night to empty what appears to be a full bladder that comes from god only knows where.
Ordering a take away because its too hot and I’m too tired to cook.
Enjoying the final days/weeks of my pregnancy – I feel so lucky to have had these last 9 months with my bump (despite the sickness, the additional appointments, the SPD and despite the hot, hot heat!). If this is the last time I’m pregnant, I really want to treasure it in the final stages.
Most importantly of all, I’m cherishing being able to hang out with our nearly 7 year old boy who’s life is also about to be turned upside down when his little sister finally decides to arrive. The Summer holidays have fallen at just the right time for us – so I’m treating these final days, just us two, as a real luxury.
I know and understand its difficult to be patient when you’re excited for us – we’re desperately trying to be patient too! And also please know, that this post isn’t meant to cause offence, its more just a way to update you all with were we’re at. I apologise profusely if this does offend; this is sincerely not my intention and I really hope you can all understand. We honestly appreciate all of the kind words and messages; I will look back over everything when the babe is here 🙂 James will also be in touch when anything of significance happens. And we promise we won’t forget to let you know when she does to decide to arrive Earthside.
Which you never know, could always be sooner than we think 🙂
When it comes to a new baby, regardless of whether its your first or 5th child, you will ALWAYS need to buy new things/newborn safety products/textiles/GENERAL STUFF. Plus, there’s always something new thats come out to make life as a new parent easier too.
When we had Eli, we were pretty organised. We love a spreadsheet and we love a bit of market research as it happens too. Getting organised was a real pleasure and never, ever a chore. We spent a lot of time researching exactly what we needed and using the spreadsheets helped keep us in check with budgets too. Once you’re into the swing of this new parenting lark, you will realise that there are more items that you simply cannot live without. You won’t know this until the baby is earth-side and understand how your baby works and what their additional needs may be. You’re learning on the job basically.
When it came to this pregnancy we were obviously excited to get organised again. We pulled out the pram and got it cleaned up. Went through all the old furniture, toys and essentials. As there is a 7 year age gap between our two children, some things we had sold, donated to charities or as we sadly found, a lot of the remaining items had actually perished (yes, you read right, we’ve actually had plastic items, electronics and textiles perish) after 5 house moves and their years in storage. Out came the old spreadsheet and we continued to add to it as we remembered all the items we really could have done with in those early weeks/months with Eli. SO many new items have launched since we had Eli in 2012; that will definitely help us and keep our little family unit afloat amongst the newborn chaos that will very soon ensue.
So? Whats this a bout a wishlist then?
WELL, stranger on the internet, I just had to share the secondary helper in all this organisation. Let me introduce you to >>>The Amazon Baby Wishlist.
Firstly, this has been great for us to keep track of what we still need to buy and what we’ve managed to get. Amazon is usuallythe cheapest place to find items; with the exception of individual retailer sales and promotions. We always cross-check before we buy online. But in general, Amazon.co.uk is our go-to! Its been great for budgeting too.
So? What’s so good about it then?
Well, let me talk you through how it works!
// CREATE YOUR WISHLIST
This is mega simple to set up with your details, including potential baby arrival date. You can have a few users who can participate in adding to the wishlist – this is helpful for when James and I are both looking at different items and can easily see what eachother has found. You can also see what has been purchased too (this is great when you’re sharing the wishlist, but I’ll get to that bit shortly).
// ADD ITEMS FROM ANY WEBSITE OR BROWSE THE AMAZON CURATED LISTS FOR RECOMMENDATIONS
The curated lists are really helpful, especially for first-time parents!
// PLANNING ON A BABY SHOWER? OR SIMPLY WANT TO SHARE YOUR LIST?
This is a great, great tool! You can easily share the link of your wishlist with friends and family so they know *exactly* what you would like, or in our case, exactly what we NEED. This also means you’re not getting duplicate items from well-meaning gift-givers or items that you really don’t need or have the space for! Thus saving your friends and family time and money too.
// FINALLY, ADD ITEMS AS YOU GO AND KEEP TRACK OF EVERYTHING IN ONE PLACE
As mentioned earlier, this is great for when several users are adding to the list. Again, also useful to see what’s already been purchased – especially when you’ve shared your list with friends and family, so no duplicate items! James has a tendency to delete items from the list once purchased. But there’s no reason why you can’t leave items on the list as the status changes to “Purchased”.
And thats not all!
FREE WELCOME GIFT
An exciting new gift is released each month, choose one and make it yours.
Claim yours here >
Prepare for baby’s arrival by saving up to 30% on a wide range of baby items.
// Spend £200 to receive 10% off. Use code WISHLIST10
// Spend £500 to receive 15% off. Use code WISHLIST15
// Spend £800 to receive 20% off. Use code WISHLIST20
// Spend £1000 to receive 30% off. Use code WISHLIST30. (Prime members onlY)
We managed to take advantage of the 20% code above – it worked out so well – especially as we had been given gift cards too. We managed to get £800+ worth of items for £360 in the end! There are several terms and conditions to being able to take full advantage of the codes above however – so make sure you read all the details here. Our main issue when trying to checkout was the delivery, oddly. For this promotion to apply, you need to make sure you select the same delivery option for all items being shipped, for example, all items must be dispatched to you using FREE delivery or all PRIME etc.
A few weeks back we had our 20 week scan and we’re ridiculously excited to say, we’re having a baby GIRL! 🖤🖤🖤
An ACTUAL baby girl! ⚡️🖤✌️
I’m almost 23 weeks pregnant now and still feeling waves of disbelief that I have a little girl growing super well inside me. But believe me when I say, we would have been happy either way. Especially considering how long it’s taken to get to this point – a healthy baby is all we wish for.
Eli has been desperate for a sibling for as long as I can remember now and he will be the BEST Big Bro, we just know it. He reckons his little sister is going to be “annoying” but we know he’s happy deep down 😂 Oh and he refused to have his photo taken with the scan of his little sister (!!!) because he was down with the pox 🙈
I always vowed that if we had a girl, I wouldn’t be into dressing her in all that pink stuff! Well, when I said that, I might have been lying because so far, all I have bought is PINK! Ha. It’s all just too cute though man!
The pictured Big Bro Tee is from the gorgeous @lennieandco; which we bought it ahead of our last pregnancy in 2017. It’s been sat in Eli’s wardrobe, waiting for a happy baby announcement since. Incidentally, the 20 week scan that we had, was originally scheduled to be Friday 15th March – which was our due date for my second pregnancy. It would have could have been a 1st birthday for that pregnancy🌈 I had to get the date changed. It just didn’t seem ‘right’. It all feels a little bit happy sad🖤
Stay soft. Stay brave. Stay fierce. Stay kind. Stay curious. Stay honest. Keep supporting your peers, your family, your friends & strangers, who happen to be WOMEN. Oh and just love with your whole heart, you wonder WOMAN 🖤
These words, by Elizabeth Gilbert, resonated with me⤵️
“The women I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because shit worked out. They got that way because shit went wrong and they handled it. They handled it a thousand different ways on a thousand different days, but they handled it. Those women are my superheroes”.
BTW – I’m all for equality and you’ll usually find me defending men, actually. “But how is that fair when a man isn’t able to get involved too?”. For today, today, let’s just celebrate the WOMAN and her achievements, yes? ✌🏼✌🏿✌🏾✌🏽✌🏼✌️
(If this is your first time here on my blog, HELLO! I had a miscarriage in August 2017. It wasn’t ‘over’ until the ERPC in October 2017.. This is a lengthy post – as always, I am sharing our experience as a means to continue the conversation of trying again after loss).
OK, I’ll start from the very beginning…
A year ago (January 2018), I stopped drinking. I started taking the recommended dose of Folic Acid and additionally, Vitamin B12. (Just incase). The “better” eating happened. Then when we moved to Manchester in May, I began the exercise – cycling to school and back twice a day was also helping my mood! I’d been on the pill for a few months post-miscarriage to get my periods back into a regular routine, but came off them at the start of 2018. Every single person you speak to regarding your miscarriage will tell you, “you’re most fertile after having a miscarriage… you’ll fall again quickly”.
We decided that we weren’t going to look at fertile days, or take ‘trying’ too seriously. After my Miscarriage, I didn’t want ANY added stress or pressure. We wanted it to happen on our own terms… after all, “you’ll be amazingly fertile after a miscarriage“.
But after our trip to Florida in June, I started to get a bit anxious about trying again and opened up my FLO app to begin tracking my periods, mood, health and everything in-between. From then on, we began trying on the most fertile days of the month.
September came and I still hadn’t fallen. Now, I understand that this really isn’t a long time, compared to other couples who try and try and try for years. But I’d fallen pregnant with my first two pregnancies within 3 months of trying. Granted, I was a lot older now – but I am only 32 still. Not exactly elderly! I lost a little weight and continued cycling and enjoying walks in the great outdoors (thanks to our new National Trust membership!). I knew fine well that out of every 100 couples trying for a baby, 80 to 90 will get pregnant within 1 year. The rest will take longer, or may need help to conceive. But at the back of my mind, the whole “shouldn’t you be mega fertile now?” voices were constantly trolling at me and I couldn’t help but worry that something else was going on in my body, that:-
I had no control over (ie, my Endometriosis or something more sinister…
Something had ‘broken’ during my ERPC procedure that had left me with some kind of scarring…
Or worse, had everything actually ‘come away’ following the ERPC operation?
So, September onwards, we began tracking my ovulation and BBT (Basal Body Temperature). I bought a few packs of the ‘cheapie’ ovulation kits by One Step and the results were so interesting – see below:
The only problem with tracking your Ovulation is that, your day begins by thinking about your fertility… This meant, I couldn’t really escape my own pressures of falling pregnant. It was alllll I could think about. To the extend that I began to distance myself from outside of this little bubble. You can clearly see where I began a minor social media hiatus!
I was tracking everything via the app. Every little niggle! You track so much and think about it so much, that your body eventually convinces you that you’re pregnant. (Hence the early testing in September and November). But when you’re tracking everything, you’re reminded every month when you’re bloody period arrives that you’ve failed again this month. It’s the most heartbreaking few days – every time you go to the loo and get that little reminder that your body wasn’t up for fertilisation. To top it off, we had Eli listening to my tummy to check if a baby was in there… he’s been desperate for a sibling for as long as I can remember now.
On Thursday 15th November, I was making Eli an outfit for BBC Children in Need. Looking back at my tracking, I’d had a few ‘off days’ . I’d had period type cramps and felt so light-headed. I wasn’t due on my period for another week but thought I could be coming on early. Then on the evening as I was finishing sewing, I managed to stab my hand with a pair of exceptionally sharp fabric scissors. Normally, I’d be fine and get a plaster. Blood does not bother me, heck, once you’ve watched 24 Hours in A&E, you can muster pretty much all of the blood. The DRAMATIC scenes that ensued are frankly, pure comedy. I was freaking out so much. I had to lay on the bathroom floor for fear of passing out. Never, have a I ever been like that.
The next day I went to the GP to see if I could get a Tetanus injection – just incase I was pregnant. I didn’t want to get an infection. Luckily, it turns out I was up to date. Phew.
Something still didn’t sit right with me about the way I had so ridiculously overreacted the night before. So at lunchtime, I went upstairs and did a quick One Step pregnancy test. I was 99% certain it would be negative as I’d had the cramping… it was also the very first time I’d ever done a test without James by my side.
I couldn’t believe my eyes as the second line appeared in 2 1/2 minutes. Again, I nearly passed out and laid on the sofa to compose myself. I thought I better ring James. I thought he’d go mad with me for doing the test without him…. I’d kind of played it cool on the phone. I’d convinced myself that the cheap test couldn’t POSSIBLY be correct. And 5 whole days before my period was due?!
I convinced myself it was a false positive. It HAD to be, right?
At school home-time I told Eli we needed to pop to the chemist to get something for my tummy… he immediately said “Why, is there a baby in there now?!”. “I really hope so darling”, I responded.
I got 4 of the Superdrug own pregnancy tests – the same ones we’d bought when we fell with Eli. So I had some trust in them. I’d used a variety when I fell pregnant in 2017 and going back to the Superdrug own brand tests made me feel a bit safer, weirdly.
I waited on tenterhooks for James to get home from work – and with an evening urine sample, the results were… (see below)
The second line was so faint, I couldn’t see it and had to put the picture under all of the filters on photoshop to see it. But, as I said when I fell with Eli, you can’t be a little bit pregnant, can you!?
We told Eli our news immediately. We wanted to be open and honest with him – especially as he had seen me go through our miscarriage. We told him that we would tell all our family and friends at Christmastime as a present! (And you can’t tell anyone when its a present, can you!?) HOW Eli managed to not tell anyone before Christmas, I will never know. But that kid man, he is just a total boss.
Speaking of which, I went on Timehop and we realised that we’d done our first pregnancy test with Eli on the SAME weekend – 18th November 2011. Strange; we must have conceived this baba around the same time as we conceived Eli.
Over the next few days, POW, the pregnancy symptoms came in thick and fast.I felt so sick. I was so tired. And continued to track pregnancy tests and my symptoms – just incase.
I had every single pregnancy symptom going; and then-some.
My skin burst into the worst cystic acne ever. Mostly on my lower cheeks and jawline.
‘Morning Sickness’ – except, it’s not just the morning, is it. It’s ALL DAY and ALL EVENING.
The Exhaustion – I was falling asleep after dropping Eli off at school and then again straight after tea.
Extreme bloating – by 7pm, I was looking mega preggo.
Food aversions – the smell of cooking is just the WORST. Couldn’t face meat. Couldn’t face big meals. Ended up surviving on plain boiled rice and rice cakes. Good job I was taking ALL of the pregnancy vitamins by this point.
Couldn’t face Tea or Coffee (still can’t do my beloved (now decaf) Coffee, even the smell is nauseating).
Brushing my teeth became the enemy – every single time I’d bork.
Sheer, unadulterated, brain fog – not being able to articulate what you want to talk about or not being able to remember why you entered a room; or even why the kettle is in the fridge is somewhat frustrating and also kinda scary.
Increased thirst – which is quite something for me as I’m always guzzling water as it is!
Extreme Overheating – I had repeated ‘hot flashes’ that made me feel so faint. Luckily, touch wood, I’ve not fainted.
A weird one now – an version to LEGO. ACTUAL LEGO. It wasn’t that I had a want to eat it or anything, but the sight of Lego made me so, so nauseous! I had to have Eli pack it all away and not play with it in front of me. SO WEIRD. I have no idea what caused it or why. But 5 weeks on, I’m finally becoming ok with the Lego being around again.
By 10th December, we were being seen at the Early Pregnancy Unit in Stepping Hill Hospital for an early Scan. By my app, I was exactly 7 weeks pregnant. I felt anxious but the full-on symptoms gave me hope that we would perhaps see a pregnancy sac.
And low and behold, as soon as the scan went on, the heartbeat was found. The tears of relief rolled down my cheeks. We were so bloody happy.
It’s difficult to put into words how you feel when the Sonographer say’s… “and there is your baby with a strong heartbeat fleeting away”. The scan looked more like 6 weeks than 7, but we were reassured that the baby would likely catch up, or the conception date could be a little out – did you know that sperm can travel for 7 days before fertilisation?
Fast forward to Christmas Day and I’m 9 weeks pregnant. I’m mainly surviving on:-
Orange ice lollies
Jamaican Ginger cake
Ginger beer (not ginger ale, ginger beer)
Raw carrots – in abundance.
Apples – but must be cut up
Bananas on rice cakes with a dash of honey
Plain boiled rice and soy sauce
Yoghurts with peach compote
Orange drinks – Fanta or Capri sun
Chewy sweets – Haribo, Randoms etc
I can only drive if I have original Tic Tac’s
Chips & curry
Chips & gravy
Chips with salt & vinegar
Salt and vinegar crisps – (preferably, Disco’s)
We also got to finally let our parents know we were with child. Which again, was another big relief. We spent the rest of the festive period SO relaxed. Which is just what I needed. This was mostly my view:-
Never spent so much time in bed, in my life. We decided ‘bed rest’ was for the best. This baby is so precious and I just didn’t want to overdo it by rushing about at my normal pace, lifting loads at will – up & down the stairs with laundry or the Dyson. I had also stopped cycling for fear of falling off etc. By week 11 I was just so tired, that being in bed was definitely the only place for me to be honest!
Also, is there a better way to spend your pregnant-life than in pyjama’s?! These ones are still my favourite, from NEXT. They also still fit, at the minute, hurrah!
Almost up to date now. We had our 12 dating week scan on Friday 18th January, again at our local hospital of Stepping Hill. I felt sick with nerves and worry and anxiety – what if there was nothing there like our last 12 week scan? I couldn’t speak. James and I spent the 10 minute car journey in silence, him asking if I was ok… then muttering “you’re scarily quiet… “.
As is rather usual, scans were running a little late, which is totally reasonable given the detail they require. I forbid anyone to get frustrated with this – even with a full bladder!
We were called into the scan room and soon as the sonographer addressed us I broke down in tears. She had asked a question about my previous pregnancy and what happened at my 12 week scan. To which I blubbered through the details of my miscarriage – she looked perplexed. Then we ‘clicked’ that she was in-fact referring to the issues that came up when we had the 12 week scan with Eli – his NT measurement was high, so we were referred to the Fetal Medicine Unit at University College London Hospital (UCLH) . Because of the sensitivity of time, the referral was organised for the very next day. The appointment at UCLH would include a detailed scan, counselling and the invasive Chronic Villus Sampling (CVS) procedure based on the results of the scan and our consent. CVS would be able to tell us if there were any genetic/chromosomal abnormalities.
Once we’d explained everything, I was asked to get myself comfortable on the bed. I couldn’t. I was on the verge of an anxiety attack, I felt like I was about to pass out. I was sobbing and shaking and sweating. I was so scared of being scanned. It seems ridiculous and all I could do was apologise. The worry I’d been bottling up the last 12 weeks had come to the surface. The constant anxiety at every niggle – the worry that my symptoms suppressing. Was I losing the baby? The constant anxiety of every, single, toilet visit – inspecting the tissue incase theres any trace of blood. Apologies if this is *too much information*, but I’m just giving an honest insight to the daily struggles.
Eventually, I came round and shakily got onto the bed. The warm gel was applied to my tummy and the Sonographer went to work. Within seconds (felt like YONKS) she showed us our babe on the screen. Firstly, I was so SHOCKED at how large the baba was. It never, ever, ever, becomes less amazing. I was sobbing again and clenching James’ hand so tightly. The relief of seeing that baby, an actual child, on the screen, is unbelievable. Secondly, the baba was bouncing about and flailing it’s arms so much – which was brilliant to see – but made it difficult for the Sonographer to get the measurements she needed.
The Sonographer managed to get the length measurements and gave us a due date of 27th July. The EXACT due date we were given with Eli. I mean, what are the odds of that?! The dates made my pregnancy 12 weeks & 6 days. A little further along than we thought!
The baby flipped the wrong way, then FELL ASLEEP, meaning the Sonographer couldn’t get the crucial NT measurement. She asked me to go for a walk and to drink some more cold water to try and get the baba moving about again.
So cold water was had and I waddled up and down this flight of stair no less than 50 times. We were called back in and I felt giddy this time – excited to get a second viewing of this wonderful babe. Except, the baby had moved into another awkward position. The Sonographer made me dance, tilted my body at odd angles, inserted a ‘soft play’ cushion under my knees and finally, made the bed go so far backwards I was slipped off, head first. Baby eventually played ball and it was confirmed that the NT measurement was low-risk, being 1.5m. Again, relief flooded my veins and I felt dizzy. (Although, that could have been due to the blood-rush from the bed being tipped up!).
So here I am. Week 14. Already with huge bump – yes there definitely is one in there – and feeling slightly less queasy, but still a lot tired.
By sharing this (ridic long) blog post, it has been cathartic for me and if it gives hope to those who have been through loss, then that would make me really happy too. A new pregnancy, does not replace the one you lost. To have a million worries is normal and expected. Just look after yourself Mama, because I certainly am!
Help make this festive period brighter for 500,000 children around the world.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know, we’re a LEGO family. Like, not just a family who has a son who LIVES FOR LEGO (which we are)… but a family who all love to join in with the brick-making too. Just this weekend I completed four LEGO builds – and refused to let Eli play with any of them until I had managed to fully complete the set of four. Yep, I’m THAT Mum. For me, I find LEGO therapeutic. It works as cathartically as writing or reading does. I find solace in LEGO. Perhaps this is also why it has the power to hold Eli’s concentration for so long too.
Eli lives for LEGO.
Take today for example, its Children in Need (BBC Appeal Day, 2018), and the theme at Eli’s school was “Do Your Thing” (dress as someone you aspire to be/something you’d like to be). Eli chose to be a LEGO MASTER BUILDER. OF COURSE HE DID! There ain’t no costume for that, I so engineered this one myself (if you want a DIY post on this, do let me know).
Eli builds the most interesting, engineeringly brilliant and clever creations. Just like how I am with cooking; Eli rarely likes to stick to the instructions… he prefers for his own imagination to take full focus. It’s been a real education for him – especially as he was born with several conditions; LEGO has potentially helped with his fine & gross motor skills, as well as encouraging role play and story telling. We’ve seen first hand how powerful a “toy” LEGO really can be for a child. With this in mind, I wanted to share with you an AMAZING initiative that LEGO have set up.
This festive season, the most awesome gift you can give is the gift of play. Visit a LEGO Store between now and 9th December or use your LEGO Bricks at home to build a holiday ornament. Display it in-store, in LEGO Life (on the app) or share online with #BuildToGive. For every ornament built and shared, LEGO will donate a LEGO set to a child in need of play. Now how good is that? And so simple too. I know a lot of you will have LEGO at home, so lets get building and sharing!
If you have budding builders at home, they can join #BuildToGive in LEGO Life by building a Christmas decoration at home,uploadingand sharing it in the app.
Help LEGO reach THEIR goal!
By participating in #BuildToGive you can help LEGO reach their goal of giving 500,000 children the chance to play this Christmas.
HERE IS A QUICK EXAMPLE OF A SIMPLE FESTIVE HEART ORNAMENT that I MADE
Legal disclaimer: *In connection with the #BuildToGive 2018 Holiday Campaign, the LEGO® Group will donate one LEGO set to charity for every #BuildToGive ornament that is built either at home with LEGO Bricks and shared on social media with #BuildToGive or in a LEGO Retail Store. Children under the age of 13 must obtain parent’s permission to post to social media. Total donation not to exceed 500,000 LEGO sets with a total value of 5,000,000 USD. No purchase necessary.
I have a natural affinity for Norfolk, with my long, long, long, long, long (etc) lost ancestor’s naming their own land in Norfolk with our very own family surname – Briston. But it was Nor-Folk, the brand, who I fell in love with on Instagram last year (@Nor_Folk). Not only is this a brand that is founded by a Husband-and-Wife design team, but its an effortlessly cool brand to boot. Fiona and Bobby, along with their super-stylish (and super-cute) son Stanley, live in the most incredible of homes;and together they are The Nor-Folk. They’re a design-led lifestyle brand, who design and print their own clothing range, collaborate on Homeware & Gifts and feature local Norfolk contributors on the Journal.
As someone who has a very definite WORK HARD attitude, in all things in life, I thought that the ‘Work Hard’ Adult Tee was a proper piece of me. Of course, I found the #Twinning combination of ‘Play Hard’ Kids’ Tee completely irresistible and ordered both as soon as we were finally moved in Berlin. (Play Hard, a perfect slogan for my little one who cannot wait for play time!).
Eli was given the ‘Hello’ Tee as a gift from our lovely friends at Christmas (lucky boy!). Sadly, it wasn’t quite the right size. So I got in touch with Fiona (who I didn’t expect to be working over the festive period) and she replied at lightening speed. As the tee was purchased in the UK, but we’re now in Berlin, it made sense to send the new size of this wicked tee directly to me. After just a few emails all was arranged and a few days later the replacement tee was on my desk in Prenzlauer Berg. A really small team, but a team that fundamentally strives for customer care.
Both of these Tee’s are available in Black or White options, for the ultimate in minimal monochrome styling. I love that all the designs are unisex too. With my Mama-head on, I might also add that these cotton tee’s wash exceptionally well and are just so wonderfully soft. The three styles we own are all made in the U.K. and are finished with the hand printing in Norfolk itself. Which is just ace of base.
There’s something a little bit special about buying products from a family-run business; whether that be a Husband-and-Wife team or a Mum/Dad-preneur. You’re not funding a corporate machine – you’re supporting real people. A real family. And that feels really good.
Wishing Fiona, Bobby and the Nor-Folk team lots of luck and adventures for the exciting year a head. We look forward to seeing the brand grow from strength to strength!
Well, I’ve been meaning to write up this post for a long while now! But, the usual happened… Lots going on with work, Eli running riot, holiday shopping, going on holiday (INCREDIBLE HOLIDAY – post to most certainly follow), more work and family time.
SO! Where do I begin?
We had the most amazing weekend at The Big Feastival and we were so sad when it came to an end! From start to finish – from the delicious food and drink we had the pleasure of tasting, actually watching and meeting our favourite Chef’s and of course, the absolutely incredible activities and performers for the kids. (I *even* loved the camping part too!). Quite literally, our perfect festival! We cannot wait until next year!
This post is most likely to be quite photo-heavy.
So here it goes!
Our journey there (and back) was brilliant. No traffic and beautiful country roads as we travelled from our Essex-home to the Cotswolds. Eli slept a lot which was also great. We’d been up since 5am, so we hoped he’d sleep in the car to catch up. (We also could have done with sleeping en route too – we barely slept a wink for the excitement!)
Our car was brilliant going across the fields – finally, proper off-roading in our off-roading car! It was raining and really quite chilly when we arrived on site, at Alex James’ farm. We decided it best to hire a Mr Trolley, because as you can see, we did not travel light! I don’t know how we would have managed without it to be honest, lots and lots and lots of trips back and forth to the car I guess! Which, frankly, isn’t ideal with a toddler and drizzle! We hired the trolley when we arrived and again when we were packing up on the Sunday. We hired the trolley for the minimum time of 30 minutes. We weren’t far from the car so filling and emptying the trolley and returning it back to the Mr Trolley stand took no time at all! We located some flat land within the Family Campsite and set to work…
Our wicked tent cost just £50 from Halfords! I honestly cannot recommend this tent enough. I’m not a camper, by any stretch of the imagination, (although after this trip, I might be a camper now!), but this tent was perfect! It took about 15 minutes to put up and about 10 minutes to take back down again (thanks to the help from Mr Eli of course!). It was sturdy and roomy inside; and it felt like really good quality. We’ve had a ‘pop-up’ tent previously (unfortunately, this tent is lost somewhere between France and Newcastle due to friends not returning it back to us, post-2008 Surf trip . They know we’re not happy about it…) and the new tent is by far a better product! I look forward to camping with this tent again.
We decided that we didn’t want to sleep on the floor of the tent – let’s be honest, we’re too old to be sleeping on the floor now. I also refused to sleep on a blow-up bed or with a sleeping bag. We purchased two very, very comfortable camp bed’s for a tenner each from eBay (brand new, inc postage!) and we took a long our Winter duvet as it tends to get very cold on a night, even in August. I suppose you could call us Glampers in respect of this. Eli also equally had his Glamping cap on with his Little Bird by Jools Oliver sheets and blankets in his travel cot.
Never before have we been to a festival where there are food stalls on the camp site. The main ‘arena’ didn’t open until after 10, so the stalls were much-needed for our breakfast before you head into the main area. Of course, this isn’t any old food van on a campsite! This is a “Le Swine” van by Bruno Loubet! Also wanted to mention that on each campsite there are an amazing amount of loo’s, showers and an area to use a cooking stove should you wish. There were no camp fires allowed on the site, at all. I thought this was brilliant. I was of course worried about other people using gas around out tent due to there being several tragedies in the past few years, so this set me at ease. And how nice is it waking up and not smelling of fire?! Definitely made for a lovely camping experience.
And… we’re in!
We watched DJ BBQ for a wee while and then decided to head for some late-lunch!
Mr Memoirs headed straight to the DJ BBQ stall where he ordered this incredible pulled pork burger! YUM!
Me, being me, opted for Risotto… because that’s what you have when you arrive at a festival, right?
We then spent some time at Adam Henson’s farm. Eli is a massive animal-lover so he was in his element being able to get up close and personal with all the lovely animals!
The Doom Bar tent by Sharps Brewery was particularly awesome, with its beach and secret tasting rooms! I had a lovely pint of IPA which tasted like honey.
We’ve been going to festivals for over ten years now. But this festival was special. We had our beautiful, and well-behaved, little boy in tow – it literally could not have been any better!
Dancing at the main stage!
Having a drink with one of our favourite people, Mr Gennaro Contaldo. Last time we caught up with Gennaro, Eli was fast asleep and we were sat they didn’t meet properly. This time, Eli was more than awake!
Want to also do a massive shout-out to the ever-so-brilliant ladies from the Up All Hours tent. They provided a cosy, home-from-home environment in which you could change and feed your little one’s. I loved chatting to you both over the weekend! Thank you for making our festival experience a fresh and clean one! (And cheers for all the goodies you send us home with too!). Up All Hours is a new parenting platform that connects, entertains and most importantly supports parents who are ‘Up All Hours’. sign up, here> Up All Hours.
The Katsu curry from Yu Kyu was so good I had it TWICE over the course of the weekend.
Chatting to David Loftus while we wait for Jamie and Jools to come from round the van!
These two people, right there, are my favourite people. I adore Jamie and Jools (I know you’re all so sick of hearing this now!) but I do. We’re huge Jamie Oliver fans – every recipe we’ve ever cooked and in every Jamie restaurant we’ve ever dined, we’ve always eaten the most tasty food our tummies could muster. And Jools, well, Jools has given me the chance to dress my son in beautiful clothes that suit US as a family. Our son wears clothes that reflect him as a person and he looks so damn cool it’s untrue (not even being biased). Oh, and while we’re on it…
Speaking with Jools Oliver is probably the most star-struck I’ve ever been! (Even after meeting all those rockstars… and indeed the actual Queen!). She’s just beautiful, isn’t she?!
We had a lovely Gin and Tonic while the boy slept, from the great guys over at Fever Tree. We love their soft drinks (mixers), they go amazingly well with Sipsmith Gin and Chase Vodka too!
Watching Daisy Lowe bake (who knew she was doing that now?!) with her Mum Pearl Lowe and Danny Goffey standing infront of us.
Seeing Jamie and Gennaro cook together in real life was an absolute pleasure. The relationship they both have is wonderful. They were so funny, informative and so full of passion.
My path recently crossed with Alex James’ via work. I would have loved a chat and a proper photo with him but unfortunately his P.A wouldn’t let me. Such a shame! I took a #selfie irregardless, ha!
We waited for what felt like hours for our pizza’s from Rossopomodoro – but when they arrived, my goodness, they were goooood! Worth the wait!
Fat Boy Slim was incredible! We hadn’t intended on staying for the set from Norman Cook, but we got sucked in! Eli was fast asleep and the crowd was just so happy – the atmosphere was amazing!
The next morning was our final day (booooooo). Mr Eli helped us pack up the tent so we could then go into the main arena and enjoy the rest of our last day at the festival.
Eli and I had lovely bacon rolls and Mr Memoirs opted for Kedgeree from What The Dickens!
Our first stop (and possibly my actual highlight of the festival!) was seeing the delightful Mr Bloom swoon. Eli was in absolute awe – he was so mesmerised, it was beautiful to watch him!
Then we went to see Jamie and Adam Henson…
…followed by Monica Galetti (who was surprisingly lovely in real life!)
After a final mooch around the site and a spot of lunch (yes, we went and had a Katsu Curry again) it was time to get the car packed up and drive home. We literally had the BEST weekend – we had the time of our lives, all of us. This is the perfect festival for a family – and of course, a foodie.
I must also take this opportunity to thank the brilliant folk over at Jamie’s Italian without whom we would not have had tickets The Big Feastival! We sadly missed out on the Early Bird tickets for the 2015 Big Feastival as it was while we were on holiday (we didn’t time that well did we!) but we will certainly be booking up when they’re available for general release.
One of my favourite things to do is cook and cooking/baking with Eli is double the fun! Eli has Wednesday’s off from nursery, so Wednesday is OUR day. We usually do fun things like go to the local play group, paint or bake. Or as last Wednesday would have it, all three – and more!
I had 2 very over ripe banana’s – which is often the case. So one of my favourite things to do with those banana’s that are well ‘past it’, is to make this delicious Banana Loaf. I call it Banana Loaf, but I know people who fondly refer to it as Banana Cake or Banana Bread. Whatever your preference, this is a fail safe, incredibly yummy recipe! I have adapted the recipe, from Mary Berry’s “Baking Bible” and added a little secret ingredient at the end, which I know goes down very, very well with my family! There’s usually very little left after it’s been freshly baked… but it does have a good shelf life if you can resist the temptation of eating it all in one go!
100g Softened Butter
175g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs (I used Medium, but Large is the preferred if you have them in!)
2 Ripe Bananas (mashed)
225g Self Raising Flour
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
2 Tbsp. Milk
Sea Salt (I use Maldon Sea Salt Flakes).
1) Preheat the oven to 180C / Fan 160C / Gas 4.
2) Lightly grease a 2lb loaf tin, then line the base and sides with baking parchment.
3) Measure all ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat for about 2 minutes, until well blended.
4) Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface.
5) Here comes my secret ingredient! I love to sprinkle sea salt flakes over the top before popping the tin into the oven. It adds texture and has such a nice contrasting taste to the crust. It’s very well received by those who have eaten this finished product!
6) Bake in the pre-heated over for about 1 hour, until well risen and golden brown. A fine skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean if the loaf is ready.
7) Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out, peel of the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack.
*Recipe adapted from “The Baking Bible”, by Mary Berry.
Honestly, one of the easiest recipes to bake. Always tasted. Always works! Perfect for using up those miserable looking banana’s to boot! You can of course always add sultana’s or even chocolate chips to the cake batter. It’s a very adaptable recipe!
We’re mad on Christmas, always have been – always will be. I think most people are surprised our tree and decorations aren’t up yet to be honest… but we’re traditionalists since Mr Eli arrived, getting a real tree again this year, on 1st December.
Anyway, I digress. We had decided last year, that we would buy Mr Eli a Christmas book every year; that we would sit and read on Christmas Eve. Last year we went classic with The Night Before Christmas, by Clement. C. Moore. This Christmas Eve, we’ll be reading our amazingly beautiful “and the Very Merry Christmas” book by Belle & Boo creator, Mandy Sutcliffe.
I’d had this book on my ‘wish list’ since it was announced on pre-order. I was TOO excited. So imagine my absolute joy at opening the book and seeing the below specially signed copy from Mandy herself.
I’ve had a very quick flick through the first few pages, but do not want to look further – I don’t want to spoil our Christmas Eve read!
But from what I’ve seen, I can assure you, this is a very pretty book that will make just the perfect Christmas present for any little one! We really cannot wait to read this one.
Do you have any Christmas traditions you and your family create year-on-year?