Hubs and I have been together for over 13 years, married for almost seven, with a four year old about to go to school. Add to that the fact we like collecting things, used to own over 700 DVD's (still have many of them, just without the boxes) and I'm sentimental thing who finds it hard to throw things away, and we have accumulated A LOT of stuff.

When we overhauled our lounge last year, we had a skip for all the rubble and the old fireplace, so we took the opportunity to get rid of quite a few things while we were at it. I don't know how it happens, but you do just seem to gather so many things over the years. Like it quietly multiplies at night, while you are sleeping.

Even with paperless bills for the most part, we seem to have paperwork coming out of our ears and with the weather being like it is, the summer / winter clothes rotation doesn't always work so we have a spare room full of laundry to be sorted and spare bedding for when the weather gets cooler or warmer again. There's even a floor fan in there, just in case it may be needed again this year (if we're lucky!).

For a couple of years now, Ste and I take turns when it comes to Ethan's bedtime routine and he can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour and a half to fall asleep - which means that we don't really get all that much time to ourselves. When my day starts at 6am, and with us both working full time, there's a lot to pack into our days, and even more so when Ethan starts school in September, so we have to find small ways to fit in some 'me time'.

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Of course, like many families, we love a bit of a box set binge and often there will be hubs watching one thing and I'll be watching something else on the iPad, although there's a couple of things we are catching up on together at the moment.

At the end of a long day, a bit of telly is called for, right?

We are also guilty, like most people, of spending a lot of time online, be it watching YouTube video after YouTube video or, in my case, catching up with my social media feeds. And occasionally, Ste will pop online, play a scratchcard or other online game, and win a few pounds here and there.

Like most people, I like to save money wherever I can and I love reading about people's hints and tricks when it comes to pinching the pennies. Whether you're a coupon queen or love to compare the market, there's lots of ways to save some cash here and there if you're willing to look around and plan out your budget.

I'm all about budgeting, at least in theory (!), and have a spreadsheet set up detailing all our incomings and outgoings month-by-month, so I know where we stand, what we can save - and what we can play with.

Here are the top three ways in which I try to save money for the fun, or necessary, things in life, without really thinking about it...

Thomas Land at Drayton Manor is one of our favourite places to go for a fun family day out, as it's close to home (we're in Birmingham) and offers a lot of different experiences in one place, all year round.

Ethan, like many boys and girls, has loved Thomas the Tank Engine since a young age and having the chance to see the characters comes to life never fails to put a big smile on his face. At the weekend, we were invited along for a family day out - our first visit since we went to the Magical Christmas event last December (tickets are on sale already for this year) - and although it was busy because of the summer holidays, we still had a great time.

Here's our favourite things to do:

For most of my professional career, I have worked in an office. Both smaller spaces and open plan layouts, with lots going on around me. It's certainly a change from when I'm working at home at my desk!

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I'm very particular about my desk environment and in offices I've worked with in the past, I've found it difficult to get comfortable. I do suffer with back pain, related to how many hours I have spent at a desk over the past 12 years (thankfully less so these days) and I know that having the right desk set-up is an important part of health and safety in the workplace. Having your computer at eye level, feet on the floor, legs and arms at a 90 degree angle... all of this helps you to maintain a good posture and just make your time at your desk much more comfortable.

What does a mum look like? I'm one of those people who was and still is determined to look like and dress like I want, as it shouldn't matter what you wear whether you're a mum or not. I think a lot of new mums fear the idea of looking 'mumsy' and I'd say that we all want to hold onto the 'old' us, even if our clutch bags get replaced with changing bags.

I don't think my style has changed since becoming a mum but at weekends and when running around after Ethan, I do have a preferred, go-to look that's easy to put together and comfy too. You could call it my muniform - mum uniform - and with some help from JD Williams, I have an outfit to share with you that fits my personality and my lifestyle as a mum of one too.

Take a pair of skinny jeans / jeggings, add a bold tee, throw on a biker or bomber jacket and then finish with some Converse or pumps (I hung up my heels, for the most part, a long time ago - I'd rather be comfortable!).

I found some great new season pieces at JD Williams, from women's tops to maxi dresses, but decided to update my mumiform with three new pieces that tap into a few of the latest trends... (oooh get me, trying to be all trendy!):

I'm really excited to share with you the full review of our grey and yellow themed lounge, which we transformed in terms of decor and layout last year, and have just updated with some new finishing touches and two feature walls - with a little help from Posterlounge.

If you saw my mini makeover part one post last week, you'll have seen that we turned one big wall into a feature wall using eight alternative movie poster prints from the Harry Potter franchise that I picked out from the range online at Posterlounge. I love everything to do with the wizarding world of Harry Potter and these posters are so fun and really make an impact.

But I didn't just stop at one wall. Oh no!

So, the summer holidays have begun and so too have the days our, special events and great offers to be had. This is the last summer break for us before Ethan starts school and whilst we are still at work, with some holiday time, we are packing lots into our weekends and have a summer wishlist / bucket list of things we want to do - and one of them was to visit the new Octo-Glow event at National Sea Life Centre Birmingham.

Ethan is a HUGE fan of the Octonauts and still talks about when he first met them at the Sea Life Centre a couple of years' ago. He also LOVES going to visit the penguins, sharks, Dori and Nemo fish (as he calls them) and the sea turtle too and last weekend was no different.

In our house, we love nothing more than dimming the lights, getting the popcorn ready and putting on our favourite film on our own version of the big screen. Hubs and I met at Blockbuster when we were working there as students, and we clicked (sorry!) over our love of film, years later having a movie twist to our wedding theme and amassing over 700 DVD's (most of which we just have digitally now!).

It was inevitable that Ethan too would grow up to love films, particularly Disney, and he's pretty partial to popcorn too.

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Whilst going out is great, home is where it's at for us and we like transforming our lounge into our own cinema, popcorn, snacks and all, and of course, cuddles on the sofa.

And it seems we're not alone. Many other Brits, and Brummies, are happiest when doing just this.
The Gruffalo is perhaps the most read and most loved book in Ethan's library, and a firm bedtime reading favourite since he was little, which is why I am excited to announce a new link up between Organix and Chessington World of Adventures Resort with this special competition.

We recently went to Chessington World of Adventures Resort for Ethan's fourth birthday, specifically as they have the new Gruffalo River Ride Adventure, and when we started our weaning journey, Organix was a range that I always had in the cupboard - and still sometimes do as their organic baby / toddler snacks are really handy to have and Ethan loves them.

Organix Goodies has partnered with Chessington World of Adventures Resort and its new Gruffalo River Ride Adventure to offer little explorers (and us mums and dads too) the chance to GO FREE!
So, I may love the Harry Potter books, films and world and I may have the Deathly Hallows symbol tattooed on my arm, and we may have called one of our new rabbits Gryffin, but I'm not a complete fanatic - I just love the magical wizarding world, like I'm sure many of you do too.

That being said, with the updates we have just added to our yellow and grey themed lounge following the big makeover last year, you might not believe me...

It all started with a lovely email from the friendly people at Posterlounge - a great online site that specialises in (you guessed it) posters, and canvas prints, in a choice of sizes to suit the space you have, on a whole host of themes from art and film to music and motivational quotes.

They asked if there was anything I might like to review and that's where I quickly became obsessed... I discovered really quirky versions of the film posters for Harry Potter, where the essence of the film is captured through a number of icons. The minimalist design was clever and eye-catching, and I've always liked alternative art like this as it's fun and playful. Of course, I couldn't just choose one of the film posters from the franchise, so I quickly added all eight to my basket and thought I'd work out where to put them later (possibly going up the side of the stairs). A trip to Ikea for frames would be needed!
Ever since the funny yellow creatures appeared in the original Despicable Me film a few years ago, it seems that the Minions have taken over and stolen many hearts - including that of my son. With their silly antics, funny language and crazy capers, it's easy to see why they appeal to children (big and small) and with the latest film instalment, Despicable Me 3, it's time to go bananas for the yellow guys in dungarees all over again.

A firm favourite for many, if you have a child who's a Minion fan or know someone who is, then you'll no doubt love the new dinner and cutlery sets from specialists Arthur Price. The perfect gift and something that will last a lifetime, these gift sets are really quite special and a must for any serious Minion lover.

I've thought about writing this for a while but then just as quickly, I don't have the words or don't want to say anything at all. I am the kind of person who likes to keep busy, particularly during tough times, as routine and having something to focus on helps me to cope - or at least feel like I am.

I've been doing fine. I think. I feel it, most of the time. But when I stop, even though I keep looking ahead but just want to stop for a minute, I feel a bit lost. Not sure what to do when the distractions fall away.

I want to write something, by means of update on here, but mainly as a way to just get it out. And to tell people that it's ok to feel this way; not knowing how to feel, or what to say. I don't think I can say a lot, but at the same time I want to say something. Because, in my experience, there aren't a lot of people around to provide support, or to talk to you or advise you or care for you.

It's hard for me to say because it means that it happened.

Just over three weeks' ago, I had a miscarriage.

I was 14 weeks when it happened. At my 12 week scan, instead of seeing a 12 week baby, there was just a gestational sac the size of a 5 week pregnancy. And no visible sign of a baby.

Taken just before our scan, in our bubble of excitement of being pregnant

Hubs and I left broken. There was no support offered, just an early pregnancy scan appointment made for two week's time. We were left alone. With questions, with worry and with little hope - although I tried desperately to find answers, to find hope.

My dates weren't wrong. My body may have believed I was pregnant, with all the signs as you would expect, but the one appointment we had told us that we were wrong.

We faced two long weeks, the longest of our lives, before knowing for sure.

Three days before the early scan, I started to bleed. Two days before, I miscarried.

Although it's what we had expected, I had tried my best to cling on to hope.

Hubs was by my side, but we were alone. No-one came to see us, or told us to go and see them; not a midwife or a doctor or a sonographer. "You can do this at home, no need to come in." Straightforward, matter-of-fact, no further advice at all.

Just hubs and I. Coming to terms with what we had lost, no matter how early. It was the thought of what was going to be. We'd spent three months daydreaming about the baby we were going to be having. I had every symptom, and we were so excited.

The baby came and went almost like a dream.

Looking at these photos is difficult, as I was just so happy 

There is support out there but you have to find it. Despite the fact that miscarriage is as common as it is (something you only find out more about when you have to (because nobody wants to know about the reality, the possibilities, really), there just doesn't seem to be the support system in place. Unless you find it yourself or find someone to ask for it.

But, for me, I didn't know what to ask. What to say. How to feel.

The same way that people don't know what to say to people going through this. I haven't a clue what someone would say - I didn't know how to articulate how I was feeling and had no idea what would help.

Everyone handles things differently and I guess we all find our own way.

My way has been to take some time but to use routine to keep me busy and help me move on. The practical side of my brain tells me that everything will be ok, and it will be and we have been. It's been the toughest thing we have had to go through but with Ethan and so many reasons to be grateful, and to keep going, life continues.

We will never know what could of been. And we may always wonder. But we have each other and I will take comfort from what we do have - and what we might be lucky to have one day.

We all know that play is an important part of a child's development and it's great to see your little ones running around and playing free. It can be hard though to not feel anxious, worried that they are going to fall and hurt themselves - and I know how protective I am when Ethan is out and about.

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Scraped knees and bruises are part and parcel of being a preschooler, and Ethan seems to have quite the collection. Boys, eh?! He doesn't seem to mind or notice though and I think of it just being a sign of how much fun he is having at this age. And boy, is he!

His new preschool building has been updated and has a bigger garden with different areas to play in, and inside it's bright and colourful too. Just like the local playgrounds we take him to, with their wet pour playground surfacing, we know that when he is playing with his friends, he is having a great time and has soft nursery surfaces around him so that he can't do himself too much mischief.

I've written before about my interest in mindfulness as a way to help with everyday wellbeing. I received a book about becoming a mindful parent a couple of months' ago and there's still a few things from this that have stuck with me and resonate. 

Mindfulness is a bit of a buzz work, and another trend of late has been Danish inspired living - anyone get a bit obsessed with Hygge last autumn/winter? Well, there is a new mix of the two that other parents like us may be interested in - a meditation book to help children sleep from a Denmark. 

The Children’s Meditations In my Heartby emerging Danish author Gitte Winter Graugaard, promises to help children to fall asleep within minutes. Now available in three different languages, it is beginning to change bedtime routines the world over - so you can see why I was keen to snap up one to review!

Ethan is a pretty good sleeper by all accounts now, as you'd hope for aged four years old, but we do still have to take some time to settle him in the first place. Hubs and I take turns each evening to put Ethan to bed, reading him one story (or three) and playing songs, with more success in a shorter time span for hubs than for me. So I'm keen to find ways to help us reduce the bedtime settling routine and to help Ethan relax into sleep quicker, as some nights it can take over an hour for me.
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