Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Baking with California Walnuts #wellnesscracked

Baking with california walnuts banner
A little while ago I was approached by California Walnuts to share with you my favourite walnut-based recipe. Not one to turn a challenge away, I accepted! It was pretty easy, a recipe jumped into my mind straight away, coffee & walnut cake (my god I love that cake!). However, I'd only made it once before and a) have no idea where that recipe is and b) I live in a different house now with a seriously rubbish oven. 

The challenge was to use no more than 5 ingredients... this is where I cheated a bit, in the sponge there's 6 (thanks to the addition of coffee), but only one over isn't bad eh? And surely the buttercream counts as a separate entity? :) It's easily adapted - if you don't like coffee flavours in food, simply skip adding that to both the sponge and buttercream, and you'll have a delicious walnut cake instead :)

A little bit about the star ingredient, the walnut! I've always known nuts are good for you, a good source of protein and certain oils and fats, but I didn't realise the walnut is a bit of a super-nut! Did you know:

* They're a good source of plant-based Omega-3? Good for vegetarians :) 
* Helps to keep your heart healthy
* Supports brain function and vision
* Helps keep tiredness at bay (surely a mum's go-to snack then!)
* Helps keep your hair and skin nourished
Plus loads more!

With that in mind, maybe I should have picked a *ahem* healthier recipe, but I figured, I'm pregnant and I want coffee & walnut cake, so that's what I'm going to make :) Just as a disclaimer, I used decaf coffee for this recipe, so it's safe for pregnant mummies :) 

Walnut closeup
First off - I tried a Mary Berry recipe (since she's pretty much my favourite baker!) on the BBC Good Food site, but it did not go well... the sponges came out about as thick as a pancake... it didn't seem like much quantity of ingredients (like 100g flour, 100g sugar etc) whereas I'm used to making a cake using 225g of everything. So after that disaster, I went in search of another recipe and found this one! It was quantities and a method I'm familiar with - here's how I did it:

Sponge ingredients
225g unsalted butter (room temp)
225g caster sugar
4 free-range eggs (room temp)
4 teaspoons of strongly made up decaf coffee (I used Dowe Egberts)
225g self-raising flour
75g smashed walnuts

Buttercream ingredients
125g unsalted butter (room temp)
200g icing sugar
4-6 teaspoons of strongly made up decaf coffee
8 walnut halves to decorate

1. Preheat oven to 180c and grease & line with baking paper, 2 x 20cm round cake tins
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light, pale and fluffy
3. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure to fully incorporate each egg (this is where it's good for everything to be room temp to help prevent splitting)
4. Add the coffee and mix well
5. Add the walnuts and stir well, and then fold in the flour
6. Spoon the mixture evenly between both tins and put in the oven for about 25 mins
7. Once cooked, allow to cool on a wire rack (I had a cup of tea at this point) :) 
8. Once cooled, start the buttercream - beat the butter and icing sugar together until pale and light
9. Add coffee to taste
10. Spread half the buttercream between the sponges (once they're fully cool) and spread the rest on top of the cake, decorate with California Walnuts

A finished coffee & walnut cake

I'm really chuffed with how it turned out! Squidge didn't like it, but hey, it's coffee flavoured :P Hubby loved it, as did I. The only thing I'd do differently next time is put more buttercream in the middle (I put less than half), so there's less on top - the top was just too sickly!

A half eaten coffee & walnut cake

It was nice having a recipe that included the walnuts in the sponge too, it added a really nice texture, and meant the cake didn't feel quite as naughty as you're having lovely bits of walnut with each mouthful of cake too :) I can't think of a better way to enjoy walnuts on a sunny day, sat in the garden with a slice of coffee & walnut cake, with a glass of iced-tea on the side. I'm definitely going to be reaching for them as a snack more often, I had no idea they were such good nuts :)

What's your favourite walnut recipe?

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Friday, 30 June 2017

A new routine, a new era

Squidge on the way to his first full day of nursery

Yesterday I finished work, not just for the day, but for about 10 months. My maternity officially starts at the beginning of August, from now until then I'm using up all my annual leave. Squidge, hubby and I have a massive change in routine that's going to take a while to get used to.

Our old routine was good, Monday - Thursday Squidge would go to his grandparents and I'd go to work (hubby would work all 5 days). Weekends were ours, Sunday mornings were swimming lessons. Not all of this is changing. Friday's would be mine and Squidge's day together.

I had to start planning for the changes the baby will bring. I'm worried about how I'll cope with feeding a newborn baby and dealing with a somewhat demanding toddler (aren't they all demanding?). So to prepare for that, I thought it might be good for Squidge to start going to nursery just for 1 day a week, for 2 reasons. Firstly, every time we take him to somewhere with other kids he gravitates towards them and wants to play, plus his language skills are still behind - his vocab is amazing, but his pronunciation needs work, hopefully being around other children will help this. And secondly, I've reached a point in the pregnancy where I'm knackered and could definitely do with a good 1-2 naps per day, afternoons in work were tough! So I signed him up because I think it'll be good for him, and it'll be good for me to have a day to rest and prepare for the baby.

Thing is the only day of the week they could fit him in was a Friday, which has always been our day together. So here I am, it's Friday morning, I'm in the house by myself and he's at nursery. I'm sure he's having a blast, but my god does this house feel empty and quiet (I do have a radio on for company). I miss him like crazy.

So that's the first part of our new routine, no more mummy/Squidge Friday's. He's also going to still go to his grandparents - if we stopped that, he'd miss them like crazy, and they'd miss him. It's nice to keep some of the old routine going for familiarity while we're going through some pretty major changes as we prepare for a new baby. He'll be going there for 2 days a week. So from now and until January (when he starts his free hours in school) it'll be me and the baby for 3 days a week, and the 3 of us for 2 days a week - all of us at weekends :) Hopefully I'll adjust to being apart from him, but today was always going to be tough, I just need to remember that.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Pregnancy Roundup | Weeks 28-32

31 week baby bump

Excuse the tummy bumps in the pic above - they're the draw strings on my PJ bottoms :) How is this pregnancy going so fast!? I can't believe I'm sat here, in my jammies writing this and I'm 32 weeks pregnant. It only feels like a couple weeks ago I excitedly waited for hubby to come upstairs to bed so I could show him the positive pregnancy test! But that was late Nov/early Dec last year! How time flies.

I'm ever growing and my belly is becoming rounder and more uncomfortable by the day. Jeans have become very uncomfortable to wear, but they're still my go-to for work. Oh yeah, speaking of work, I only have 2 weeks left (2 weeks today actually) until I finish for maternity leave! By that time I'll be 34 weeks, meaning I'll officially be 'full term' (37 weeks) from the 19th July (due date is 9th Aug).

Dot in a scan at 31 weeks

I had a scan just over a week ago, and Dot is still breech. They're still not too concerned as there's plenty of time for him to move/turn.  He's growing nicely and all seems well, so they're happy at the moment. I have another scan when I'm 35 weeks, so hopefully he'll have turned by then, fingers crossed! They also weighed me, in total I've gained 8lbs, so they're really happy with that - should all be the weight of the baby (3.5lbs), amniotic fluid, placenta and all the extra blood I'm carrying (2litres).

Symptoms-wise, it's been heartburn city, especially if I haven't drunk enough in the day. I'm not sleeping that well, and I'm feeling pretty uncomfortable, but that's to be expected. My feet haven't been as swollen this time, which I think is partly down to wearing jeans/socks/shoes instead of dresses and ballet pumps (they always swell with those!). My allergies still aren't great too, but they haven't been keeping me up at night as much as before (apart from last night!).

big baby bump

Oh and my boobs have been leaking colostrum! This never happened with Squidge, so new to me in pregnancy. I think I'm going to see if I can buy some 1 ml syringes and start expressing small amounts and freezing them ready for when Dot is born :) 

I also want to buy a cord tie for when he's born to use instead of the usual plastic clamp. Technically, they're crocheted and with cotton, so I could easily make one myself, but I really need the care instructions, so I'm going to buy one/have one made.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Fathers day gift guide | 2017

Father's Day gift guide banner

I've been thinking a lot on what Squidge, Dot and I can get hubby as a fathers day present this year, and I'm still pretty perplexed over what to get. Last year he got lots of nice tool-type stuff, like a Stanley tool belt (super useful!), a small tool box for around the house, things like that. This year I want to get him something different. We moved house a year ago and there's still tonnes we need to do, so here's a look at some of the things I've been considering.

Big budget - £250+
Panasonic speaker

As much as it's out of our price range, a girl can dream eh! We've been eyeing up sound bars and wifi speakers for some time, but I'm yet to decide on what one will get us the best value for our money. What I love about this one, apart from the sleek modern look, is the fact that we could utilise our music subscriptions (I'm on Apple Music, hubby is on Amazon) to stream music to the speaker, exactly what we want. Better yet, the sound quality will be excellent, unlike our current solution (a small iPod speaker we subsequently don't use). The Panasonic CD speakers look beautiful, and I love that you can still put actual CDs in them, as we still like to buy CDs for our collection. If you're interested in this piece of kit, it'll set you back £379.99.

Nintendo switch

And while it's hard to get hold of, I couldn't put this slightly geeky guide together without giving mention to the Nintendo Switch. We bought one back in April, waited for it to be back in stock, and it was delivered mid-end May. It's such a great little console! Handheld with a high quality touch screen, and the pop it in the holder, plug the holder into the TV and you have yourself a full on console that multiple people can play on the TV. The games out for it are great (Mario Kart 8 deluxe, Zelda, Street Fighter 2, and SO many more). It's expensive, but in my opinion, worth it *if* you can get hold of it. It'll set you back around £279 (depend on deals etc).

Medium budget - £50-150
LEGO Mosaic Maker

If Daddy is a bit of a Lego geek (I'm literally surrounded by Lego fans!) then why not visit the Leicester Square store in London and head to the mosaic maker. For £99 you can have a lego portrait of you made. The portrait could be of Daddy, or the kiddies, or all of you :) Whatever you like really :) Plus it doubles up as a task, as it'll give you the instructions and bricks to make it all.

Small budget - Under £50
Tetris light

Here we're talking geeky things. I've had my eye on these for the hubby for a while, I think they're really cool and love how they work. You can configure the Tetris lights in any arrangement where they fit together, just like Tetris. My only reservation now is having a toddler in the house, he'd see it as a toy, and of course, if he can't play with it, there might be tantrums. These cost £23.96 on Amazon.

It's also worth mentioning escape rooms. They're taking the country by storm. In Wales alone, we have something like 17 of them now, and each one keeps re-inventing their puzzles and themes. Depending on whether you get a special deal or pay full price, you're looking at around £10-25 a head, and generally, a different challenge every time.

Squidge painting

If times are tight, you could get creative and do some crafts. Personally, some of my favourite presents to receive are ones Squidge has made for me, you really can't beat it. So why not get a piece of paper from your toddlers sketch pad, get out the glue stick, glitter, pens and stickers, write 'Happy Fathers Day' on the front and let the little ones go nuts decorating it. Then just spend the day making Daddy feel special - you really can't put a price on that :) 

Hopefully you'll find the perfect present for the Daddy in your life :)
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Monday, 5 June 2017

A mini babymoon

View from Goodwick beach

I almost can’t bring myself to call this a babymoon, as it was really going back home to Fishguard to visit family, but instead of staying in the family home, we stayed in a friend’s mobile home on a caravan park (Dinas Country Club).  However, given our funds, it’s the best we could do, and boy did we make the most of it.

Squidge pulling a suitcase
He really wanted to pull the suitcase to the car, he did a great job :) 

We packed up the car on Thursday morning and headed off for Pembrokeshire (where I used to live). The weather was forecast to be awful the whole time we were there, constant rain, boo. But when we got there, it wasn’t too bad. We stopped at the shops for some essential supplies (bread, butter, chocolate obvs). 

We got to the van about 2pm (I think) and unpacked. Once that was done, we went to see ‘Grandad Roddy’, or ‘Dada Rorry’ as Squidge calls him. On the odd occasion I referred to him as Grandad by accident (and not Grandad Roddy), I was swiftly corrected by the little man ‘Not Dada, DADA RORRY’ :)

We had dinner from the chippy, a rather fancy one, which was lovely, and headed home. As the van was new to Squidge, and everything was exciting, he took about 2 hrs to get to sleep and a lot of encouragement. It was his first time sleeping in a double bed!

Once he was asleep, we plugged in the Nintendo Switch and played Mario Kart until we went to bed. That night, we did not sleep well. Not only was it a new bed, but it rained all night, which kept us awake. Then Squidge woke at 6:30. 

Daddy and Squidge on the beach
Daddy and Squidge walking to the sea front

Friday it rained up until about midday. We went and picked up Grandad Roddy, and went down to Goodwick to our fav lunch spot (The Farmhouse Kitchen) - Daddy had a burger which was great, I had a toastie which was lovely, and Grandad had a baguette - be bought Squidge a picnic plate and had milkshakes. 

Squidge was brilliant, he stayed sat in his chair (not a high chair) the whole time. Once lunch was done, we went down to the sea front and took him to Ocean Lab to the £1 soft play there, it’s only tiny, but it was only him there, so he had a blast. By this time the weather was amazing – over 16 degrees and very very warm in the sun (you could feel yourself burn!). 

Squidges first time on a helter skelter
First time on a helter-skelter - he was so brave after being so frightened at the top!

While on his first helter skelter outside Ocean Lab he spotted ‘Sand pit!’, he means ‘the beach’ which was about 10ft away from where we were standing. The most and only annoying thing about this – as it was raining when we left, we didn’t bring swimming stuff with us, or the bucket and spade, or the sun block etc. It was all in the van. Either way, we made the most of it. I bought another bucket and spade from Ocean Lab and a new bottle of factor 50 sun block. For the first hour or so Squidge and Daddy were skimming stones by the sea, then when they came back up, I had the bucket and spade and Squidge took it down to the sea’s edge.

Goodwick beach
Goodwick beach, the Fishguard side of the breakwater, super still, no wind at all

He made lots of friends and played with a few children, running in and out of the sea as the tide would come in and out with the waves, he thought it was really funny. We had to take his trousers and shoes off for that bit, leaving him in a nappy and a long sleeved top! No pics I’m afraid, there was a naked 3 year old Squidge made friends with, so I didn’t take any pics.

After being tuckered out from the beach, and no nap, we went back to Grandad Roddy’s and got a take away. Once we’d had that we headed back to the van and Squidge crashed, he was shattered!

Lovely carvings at the caravan site
One of the many carvings around the caravan park, made from the stump of an in-situ tree

Saturday the weather was still nice and we decided to have a day of no driving and stayed at the van, we invited Grandad Roddy to come and chill with us. Squidge realised we’d brought his balance bike, so Daddy spent a lot of the day running around the caravan park keeping up with super-fast Squidge :) In the evening we headed to the clubhouse and had dinner, with an exhausted Squidge. It was a bit tricky, but we got through dinner and got the little man back and asleep, albeit about an hour later than we’d have liked.

Once he was asleep, we played Mario Kart until about 11pm when we were ready for bed. Just as we were turning the console off, I’d seen that a news flash had come through on my phone about a van driving into people in London, so we put BBC News 24 on to see what was going on, and to our horror a terror attack seemed to be unfolding. We stayed up until about 1:30-2am watching the news and seeing eye-witness people calling in with horrendous accounts of what had happened. We went to bed feeling sick to our stomachs, and I was on the verge of waking up Squidge to give him the biggest cuddle, but sense prevailed. Squidge slept until 8am, such a poppet.

A nice nook at the caravan site
A nook I really like at the caravan site right by the clubhouse

Sunday morning was spent packing up and cleaning the van, then at 12:30 we went back to the clubhouse for Sunday lunch, it was great! Good food and well priced. Squidge got the vanilla ice cream he’d been asking for so was one happy boy, despite waking up tired and grumpy (just like mummy). We headed straight home from there, and got home about 5:30 after a long break half way.

Squidge on Daddy's back
Once we were back home it was back to normality, and using Daddy as a horse :P

It was a lovely couple of days, and as we stayed somewhere different, it felt more like a little holiday than heading down that way has ever felt before. Just what we needed. The only downfall of the break was the horrendous wifi… if you managed to connect, it was too slow to actually update anything. Very frustrating after the London attack when I was trying to find out if friends and family in the area were ok, but in the grand scheme of things, pretty insignificant.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Our bank holiday weekend

Squidge tuckered out after a big weekend

As you know, this weekend was a bank holiday weekend. We didn't really have anything planned, and as always I had Friday off. We barely left the house, but still managed to have a great time, here's what we got up to.

Our umbrella fell over

The weather was beautiful so I'd planned on Squidge and I spending the day in the garden. There were only 2 things we needed to wait in the house for, that was the Waitrose delivery (between 8-9am), and then the delivery of our new Nintendo Switch (2-3pm). Once the shopping had been and we'd had breakfast, we headed out to the garden and slathered ourselves in sun block. Squidge started off playing with his water table, then his slide, then his balance bike, then did some digging, while intermittently ducking into his little tent for a 5 min timeout and a drink.

We headed in for lunch about 12:30 and waited for the Switch to be delivered (excitement overload for me!). When we went back outside, our big umbrella had fallen over! I had a feeling this would happen  as it was really windy, and it sounded like the umbrella was wiggling free of the paving slab.

It was easy enough to pick back up, but I had to fold it up as I can't pick up the paving slab to secure it. A bit later on Squidge wanted his paddling pool, so I got him in his wet suit and eventually got the warmth of the water right (that was an effort!) and he happily sat in it for 40 mins while waiting for Daddy to come home. He kept saying 'Daddy come home and see me sat in paddling pool' :)

Squidge waiting for Daddy in the paddling pool

Once Daddy was home, we seized the opportunity to whip out the BBQ for the first time this year. We had Asda burgers (which were surprisingly delicious) and some herby garlic chicken, with some salad and coleslaw. Squidge loved it, he loves eating outside, although it's tricky to keep him in his seat as he constantly wants to run off to play (what 2 year old doesn't!).

Squidge playing Mario Kart for the first time

In all honesty, I have a lot of trouble remembering what we get up to on a Saturday! I remember Squidge woke up early, 6:30 and so we were really tired in the morning after being kept up by the crazy thunderstorm that had happened overnight. 

I do remember one thing though, Squidge waking up from his nap, coming downstairs and playing Mario Kart (8 deluxe) on the Nintendo Switch for the first time, and this was his face... pure glee.

Squidge dressed as a builder

On Sunday Squidge woke fairly early again, but he jumped into bed with us and played on my phone (YouTube Kids) for a while just to give us a little extra snoozing time. Once we were up and fed we had a play and after lunch we went to visit our friends who had just moved house (literally 2 days before). Squidge had a little nap on the way there, which kept him going the rest of the day. 

Gardening with Daddy

Once we were home he really wanted to go outside, so we headed out to do some weeding in the garden and he had a blast! I don't remember ever loving gardening, but he really does, it's so nice. He just loves helping so much, and he's a really good garden helper :)

Squidge wearing dummies as earrings

Daddy places dummies on Squidge's ears, Squidge looks at me and says "Like Mummy!" <3

Not quite as lazy as the previous day. We started with breakfast, then Daddy took Squidge over to Asda to get some essentials (lime marmalade, bread, croissants... you know, the things you can't live without) :) While they were out, I set the dining table up with some crafts for Squidge (glitter glue, sequins, crayons etc) which he absolutely loved. I've yet to find a way to teach him how to hold a pen properly, any suggestions are welcome!

After that and after lunch we went to B&Q to pick up a planer for the alcoves hubby is building, and a couple hanging baskets for out the front. Once we were home we put a film on and I crashed on the sofa (much to the annoyance of Squidge!) while trying to give paracetamol time to rid me of my headache.

Later in the afternoon Squidge was bored, so Daddy asked if he wanted to go outside, Squidge smiled and excitedly said 'yes!' so off they went to do more weeding. I pottered about in the house for a bit before joining them, this time I planted some seeds in my propagator and we each planted a sunflower seed (so see who's grows the biggest). We had some dinner and wound down our day.

It really was a lovely weekend, and Squidge was really well behaved for most of it - he's mostly difficult towards the end of the day as he gets really tired, which is fair enough.

By this morning he was totally tuckered out, and the pic at the very top is how I found him this morning when I went to wake him up to go to Nanny and Grandads <3

How was your bank holiday weekend?

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Top 5 outdoor places for toddlers | South Wales

We've been members of the National Trust for about 3 years now. We love taking Squidge out to explore new places, or re-explore places he's been before. For us, the best places are ones with lots of green space for him to run about, with little places to explore. He just loves being outside, it's literally his favourite thing in this world.  Here's our top places to go around South Wales with a toddler (caveat, this is of course only covering places we've actually been!).

Dyffryn Gardens, Vale of Glamorgan
Dyffryn Gardens, the Pompeii gardens

This place is just fantastic! There's a little play park out the front by the car park, ever popular with kids. Then as you go through there's a nice short walk up to the house, and just beyond that there's vast gardens. They have some smaller formal gardens in different themes, like a mirror/reflection pond, Pompeii gardens, it's all very beautiful. Then they have a polo green and a massive garden with a little stream running through the middle of it with beautiful huge coi carp in it. There's loads of place to run about, and lots of benches dotted around for the tired grown ups, which double up nicely as little refreshment stops.
Entry fee: £9.60 (adults) or £4.80 (kids)  (or free if you have a NT membership)

Tredegar House, Newport
Tredegar House at Christmas

Another great National Trust place. Tredegar house is surrounded by vast gardens too - some of which you don't need to pay entry to walk around. There's pretty big gardens within the walls too (which you do have to pay for). As well as pretty, formal gardens, there's also the house, which is fantastic to walk around.
Entry fee: £9.20 (adult) or £4.60 (kids)  (or free if you have a NT membership)

The Kymin, Wye Valley
The Kymin, Wye Valley

This places makes a great walk/adventure. It's free entry, and they do have a little cafe there (The Round House), but it's not always open (seasonal). If you want to go into their round house, then there is a fee to pay (listed below). The walk starts around the round house, and then ventures into the woods - what kid doesn't like exploring the woods?!
Entry fee: £3.00 (adults) or £1.50 (kids) for the Round House (or free if you have a NT membership)

The Weir, Hereford
The Weir, Hereford

It's been a while since we visited here, but we absolutely loved it! There's no buildings to go in, it's just a walk, but not a very long one. There's a refreshment tent with an honesty box (when we were there, we were the only people who actually put money in it, tut tut!). The walk itself is in a loop, you start off on the higher ground, loop down some steps and walk back along the river, really lovely.
Entry fee: £7.15 (adults) or £3.50 (kids) (or free if you have a NT membership)

Forest Fawr, Caerphilly
Squidge at Forest Fawr

Just down the road from Mountain View Ranch (I'm sure this would  be on our list too, but we haven't been there yet - note that MVR has a Gruffalo trail!), it's a lovely walk through the woods with beautiful wooden sculptures along the way. When we took Squidge, he absolutely loved it! We went in the winter, so made sure we had our wellies!
Entry fee: FREE

There's loads of other amazing places, and a special mention has to go to Caerphilly Castle, Castle Coch and Cardiff Castle - all highly worth a visit :)

Friday, 26 May 2017

Tips on buying plus-size maternity wear in the UK

Given that this is my second pregnancy, 3 years apart, I feel like I'm becoming a dab hand at buying plus-size maternity clothes.  I did hope that this time around, the choice of clothes would be much better, but in reality, nothing has really changed. I'm starting to live in dresses (with 3/4 length leggings underneath), and when I'm at home, it's all leggings and vest tops.

For me, one of the biggest issues is that if you're anything like me, you might not have legs you want to show off. And what I struggle to find, is plus size non-skinny jeans - THEY'RE ALL SKINNY, WHY?! I honestly don't understand... I've had to buy normal jeans a size bigger that are wide legged - but this means it doesn't accommodate my bump very well.

The other big issue is that there is NO high street shop you can go to, to buy plus-size maternity clothes, your only option is online. On the back of that, I've found the sizing varies massively, and I mean, really massively.  I've had to go down 2 dress sizes to get things to fit, compared to my normal clothes - and that's not just across my bump, that's the arms and boobs too.

Anyway, rant aside, here's where I've found the best places to be for buying plus-size maternity clothes.

When I was pregnant with Squidge I bought a pair of plus size maternity jeans from them that lasted me really well, they were so comfortable and a really flattering cut, and not crazy expensive. This time around I've bought 2 maternity tops - both wearable now, and after the baby is born as they're suitable for nursing.

While I was disappointed that they don't stock their maternity range in store, I was pleased to see that another brand is now doing maternity clothes, therefore more choice. They have a nice range of tops, dressed and leggings, but if like me, you don't want to show off your legs, the only option they have is palazzo trousers (no thanks). I did order a maternity dress from them in my normal size, but when I tried it on it was 2-3 sizes too big, so I sent it back, but didn't re-order. I really do like the look of this one though, but looks like it could do with a belt for under the boobs to give the dress some shape.

I would give a special mention to Curvissa too, but on looking, all of the plus size maternity clothes I saw were all BonPrix ones, so never-mind :P On my travels I did find another site called Mojo Maternity, but they have a very very small range - all decent sizes (over size 20), but not much choice - could still be worth a look though :) 

It's pretty amazing just how niche plus size maternity clothes are, if only more brands would champion it!
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Thursday, 25 May 2017

5 Experiences I can't wait to share with Squidge

When you have kids, there's tonnes of things you look forward to doing with them. You know that you'll have to wait a long time for them to be old enough to do some of them, but that's ok, you're happy to wait.

Well, there's a LOT of stuff I can't wait to do with Squidge (and Dot) when he's older, and I know there's things the hubby can't wait to do too.

1. Play Minecraft together - we've been playing since it was in Alpha testing, so we're really keen to be able to share the experience with him, he's just a little bit too small at the moment!

2. Take Squidge to the cinema and not fret that a) it'll be too loud and b) he won't sit still for more than 3 seconds.

3. Take him to the gallery and him be old enough to appreciate it - yeah this one is also dependant on him being into art, hopefully he will be like his mummy :) 

4. Teaching him to crochet - I know he may never show an interest in it, but I'd love to teach him how to crochet.

5. Play *proper* board games together - by this I don't mean Monopoly, I mean games like Carcassonne, The Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride and the Lord of the Rings card game - proper games!

On a side note, I know the hubby is super excited to do some science experiments with Squidge (and Dot), and teach him all about the stars (which would obvs involve staying up late with a hot chocolate, all wrapped up) :)

What things are you looking forward to experiencing with your kids?

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Preparing your toddler for a sibling

From the day we found out we were having another baby, we told Squidge. It was early, I'd have only been 4 weeks pregnant at the time. The way I saw it, he's our world, he's our family, he deserves to be included.

I actually had the first positive pregnancy test just before going to bed, it wasn't a super strong line, but I was testing on the day my period was due. So the next morning, using a First Response Early Result test, and with my first wee of the day, I did another test and had a very strong result. When I showed the hubby, Squidge asked 'What's that mummy?', so we explained it to him. We said that it's early, but that mummy was having another baby. We told him he was going to be a big brother, and that in quite a few months time, there will hopefully be a little baby joining us. We explained that the baby will grow in my tummy before it comes out (we didn't go into any detail here, he was only just over 2).

In fact, it was Squidge that told our in-laws that we were having another baby. He pointed at my tummy and said 'mummy baby, baby in tummy', so I broke the news :)

We've also made an effort to include him in things with the baby. So when we had the 12 week scan and all was ok (i.e. there is a heartbeat, and there's arms, legs, head etc), we bought the baby their first present, which Squidge picked out.

Then when I was 17 weeks pregnant we went for a private gender scan. We brought Squidge with us to see it and be with us when we found out. While we were there we bought a heartbeat bear and part of the process of that is the record the sound of the baby's heartbeat. Squidge saw it being recorded, and then put in the bear. And now, if we squeeze the bear he'll say 'baby heartbeat'.

We've also always shown him the ultrasound pictures. We know he won't understand them, but it's all about including him in the whole process.  I've also sat down with him a few times to try and explain how things will change once Dot arrives, just to prepare him as much as I can.

I think it's really important to try and involve them where you can, and within reason. He's seen my bump grow, and knows there's a little baby in there.  In fact, on Monday night I was up with him really late (he had growing pains in his legs). I was cradling him like a baby while sat on a chair, and he was laying across the bump. His eyes were closed and sleepy. Then Dot kicked him in his side - Squidge opened his eyes and looked at me, I whispered to him 'Did you feel that?'... 'Yes' he said. I replied 'That was the baby kicking' :)

I'm also going to pick out a little teddy bear to give Squidge when Dot is born as a present from the baby.

I think it's really important to involve them in the process as their lives will be changing just as dramatically as ours. 

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Pregnancy roundup | Weeks 24-28

With week 28 clocking by, I'm now in the 3rd and final trimester. The home stretch. Quite a lot has happened the last few weeks, so I'll get on with the update :)

Hospital appointments
There's been a few! I went for a clinic appointment about 2 weeks ago, and had a surprise scan! They told me Dot is in the breech position for the moment, which made perfect sense as just a few days before that he'd been moving around like crazy. After that he felt really high up and the kicks were all in a difference place.  This weekend he had another crazy wriggle and the bump has dropped and got smaller (my jeans no longer stay up, that's how much it's gone down!).  At the scan they also measured him - he's tracking the growth chart nicely, but on the small side.

The Dr really urged me to start having daily injections of Klexane to reduce the risk of DVT. I asked for some time to think about it, but when I go back in 2 weeks I'm going to agree.

I've also been back for my 2nd GTT (glucose tolerance test for gestational diabetes). This is when it was picked up with Squidge, so I'd resigned myself to developing it again.  The results came back and well, technically I'm not diabetic, but I'm almost diabetic! My blood sugars were 7.7, if they were 7.8 I'd have been classed as diabetic, so I have to watch my sugar intake, no biggie.

Heartburn is back and kicking my ass. I'm still wretching every time I take my tablets at night too, all fun and games! I've been picking up Squidge more again, so my mid-back pain is worse again. I really need to stop picking him up! I'm just getting over a really nasty cold too, so still feeling really tired from that, and have a bit of a cough.

Much like ever, he has busy days and quiet days. Yesterday was a bit of a quieter day, he had a bit of a wriggle in the morning, quieter afternoon and quiet evening (although when writing this blog post he had a proper big wriggle!). Don't worry, I'm keeping an eye on him :) I've already been to hospital once for reduced movements, so I know to stay on top of it.

Birth plan
We've not really talked about it yet, as it's still early. I did mention to my Dr that I really don't want to be induced again. I know it might have to happen, and if it does, fine, but I would like to try and let labour happen naturally this time. I'd really like to avoid an epidural this time too. I only opted for it before as I'd been having contractions for 4 days and was only 3cm dilated - I needed something! 

As I'm consultant led I only get the option of a bed birth, otherwise I'd have opted for a water birth.

All in all things seem to be progressing well. I'll be having another scan in 2 weeks to check his growth - this is because his brother was small (very long, but very thin), so they want to keep an eye on his growth.
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