To my friends,

You have welcomed into the world the baby you have hoped and dreamed of for the past nine months, and more. Your bundle is fresh and new and whilst you start to memorise every little detail of their face and breathe in that newborn smell, you'll no doubt find your mind racing ahead to the days, weeks and years ahead of you. What will it feel like to bring them home? How will you go from being a two to a three? What will they grow up to be?

It's such an amazing time and one that you can't really describe. Everything is new, you're terrified that you might break her and you realise that there really is no handbook delivered with your baby. You go home when someone else tells you too and you're allowed to just take them with you and start caring for them.  Just like that. With no guides. No step by step instructions. This is it - you're a parent now.

But it'll all come to you and whichever way it does, however you feel and whatever you choose, it'll be the right choice for you and for your baby. I don't think anyone really knows what kind of parent they will be or how they will find all the new experiences.
We are big animal lovers in our house. When hubs and I bought it, 12 years ago, we soon added a cat to make the house a home - Sherlock, a rescue kitten we named before finding out she was a girl. The next year, we added a dog as Sherlock needed a Watson, and brought home another kitten - (Mori)Arty. Our animal brood expanded again last summer when we got two rabbits, Hudson and Gryffin. They keep us busy, but they're all part of the family!

If you are a little pet crazy like we are, or you are thinking about getting a pet for your family and for your children to care for, then there's a show coming up that will be right up your street... or if you just love animals, you'll have a great day out too!

The National Pet Show exhibition is coming to Birmingham, NEC, on the 3-4th November, and not only is it set to be bigger and better than ever before - I have two sets of family tickets to giveaway!

Not only can you meet some of the hundreds of animals at the event, you can watch animal action displays, listen to talks from the experts, experience interactive demonstrations and shop for the festive season! This year Noel’s Ark returns, creating a fun filled area for kids to enjoy, storytelling and book signings. Whether you’re into dogs and cats, hamsters and rabbits, snakes and spiders or fish and ponies, the National Pet Show is the perfect day out for animal fanatics.

Full details on the show are below, as is entry to my competition, via Rafflecopter, where you could be one of two winners to pick up a set of family tickets (for four people) to use on a date of their choosing...
Full details on the show are below, as is entry to my competition, via Rafflecopter, where you could be one of two winners to pick up a set of family tickets (for four people) to use on a date of their choosing...

In less than a week, I enter the third trimester and for me, that’s when things start to get real. Properly serious. There’s a baby coming!

Whether it’s your first child, second (like for me) or third or fourth, there’s always going to be a great deal of preparation involved. For us, the first time around, it was really unknown territory and we had to think about EVERYTHING. We had to buy ALL the gear and equipment and furniture, from changing mats, cost and Moses baskets to travel systems and car seats and all the cute clothes in-between.

One consideration at the time was our car. I had a Clio back then, and fortunately it was due for an upgrade at the time so we could consider what the latest model had to offer and pick an option that would suit our growing family. Size, safety and affordability were all priorities - it’s only natural to want to get the best but at the best price too. With maternity leave on the horizon, I needed to be sure to save as many pennies as possible to cover not only the things we needed to buy for baby, but also my contribution to bills and so on. 

Preparations for baby really got underway at the weekend for us, as we took stock of the baby things we stored away from Ethan’s early days, cleared the nursery and even put together our travel system.

Nesting has well and truly begun!

I’m only a week away from the third trimester and I know the next few weeks will fly by so the more I do now to plan and prep, the easier it will be further down the line.

You may have seen my Aldi haul from their recent Baby and Toddler Specialbuy event, so you can see that I’m starting to get the essentials in as well as a few other nice things here and there, for baby or for the nursery.

I first started shopping at Aldi when Ethan was young because their Mamia range and baby foods were really good and great value. The team is kindly sending me off to pick up all the bits you need for a newborn - nappies, wipes and so on - so that I know we have got everything ready in plenty of time.

One of the things in life I have a bit of an obsession for is stationery. I love the stuff! The start of a new notepad is always exciting, I get a kick out of organising my work into folders and over the years have kept a presentation folder of highlights, that dates back to work experience achievements when I was a fresh-faced student. I should also say, that I like to hoard!

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A blast from the past - how my blog used to look a couple of years ago!

I have so many sticky notes, notecards, binders, document wallets, pens, highlighters… you name it, I have it stored in my bureau. My desk at work holds more delights…

I'm in the need of some new business cards that reflect my blog design now, rather than an old look it had a while ago, and if I were ever to consider making this space of my a full-time job, I would of course need even more stationery and design needs. 

I am all about branding and consistency. If you want to be taken seriously and create a strong identity for yourself that will be recognised and understood, you need to have good visibility. A memorable logo, defined branding pack including colours and fonts, and a clear presence across platforms that all ties together is a great way to ensure you are seen and make an impact.
Last Wednesday, I took Ethan to London for the day as we’d been invited to the launch of the autumn / winter 2018 collection from Boots Mini Club - with a very special guest. 

Only my celebrity best friend.
Not that she knows it.
But for years I’ve loved her. Her TV shows. Her radio show. Her books. Her style. 

Fearne Cotton. (Who’s birthday it was yesterday, FYI).

She has designed clothes for Boots Mini Club for a while and the new season drops feature some fun and colourful options for baby, plus boys and girls, with the range now going up to the age of seven due to popular demand.

I jumped at the chance to go to the event - being on annual leave meant that it was easier than normal for me to actually say yes to an invite like this for a change - and knew that Ethan would enjoy the adventure, getting to go on the train and squeezing in a visit to Hamleys, the Lego shop and M&M World whilst we were there.

It’s the last few days of the summer holidays and looking back at everything we have done and enjoyed together, it’s clear how much Ethan has grown.

We have lots of adventures captured in his summer holiday scrapbook and photos like these two are really special for capturing those ordinary moments that seem extraordinary.

This was taken at our local park and the opportunity to climb a low tree presented itself. Ethan is in the moment, at five years three months old, and it just feels like I’ve captured something of his personality at this age.

The boy in the tree.

If you are following home renovations shows like Love it or List it, you might have seen the interior designers opting for practical and stylish flooring that fits for every type of homeowner. This kind of flooring is called laminate flooring and it is definitely trending. Below are some facts related to laminate flooring that will surely surprise you.
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Last week, before our Bank Holiday break away, we visited ThinkTank, Birmingham's award winning science museum, and boy was there a lot to see! We have never been before - well, Ethan has but on a preschool trip, so it was our first time visiting as a family - and there's plenty to take in across the four floors of interactive displays, plus the outdoor science garden.

There's everything covered; animals and dinosaurs, the human body and medicine, materials and manufacturing, transport and trades, and even space in the Planetarium (extra cost applies).

Ok, I'm going to mention the 'C' word. I know that it's still August and technically still summer. And I know it's crazy when the shops start to stock festive cards before we've even had the need to turn the heating on at home. I know, I know. BUT, I am one of those people who likes to be prepared and with a baby coming before Christmas, my planning is starting even earlier.

I have started making lists when present ideas pop into my head and it won't be long until I am compiling my annual Santa's grotto guide for the Midlands (it'll be my fifth one this year!) - although we will have to think about when we book in to see the man in red ourselves as my due date is 8th December...

Planning is also my way of spreading the cost. We'll all have our own ways and tricks for saving moneys, bagging bargains and making sure we budget for the big day, and the earlier you start thinking about these, the less stressful life is all round, I find.

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There’s a week left of summer holidays for us so we are fitting in a few last adventures, and moments of quality time at home, before the routine all kicks in again. And today, I am taking Ethan on the train to London (so excited to reveal what it’s all for... follow me on Instagram for live updates on my Stories!) and I have got everything packed in my bag to keep both of us entertained on the journey. 

Including the Readly app.

I’ve been making an effort to sit down and relax more and to read more too. I love reading but often feel too tired and it’s been an age since I last bought a magazine. I pick up free ones and Ethan gets the odd one too to keep him happy and occupied, but generally they do cost quite a bit, especially if you or the rest of your family have varied tastes, and it can be hard to find the time.

But not any more!
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