Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Easter eats

We're heading towards the long weekend and if we're all good, very good indeed, the Easter Bunny may pay us a visit with a few chocolate treats.

Obviously there's a much broader reason why we're being treated to a four day weekend, but for me, it's all about the chocolate. And the hot cross buns. And the extra time with my family.

We're actually going to be going out for lunch on Easter Sunday so this past week, I wanted to have an early Easter themed celebration with my two boys. Nothing too fancy, just spring inspired recipes and a few treats too.


Monday, 30 March 2015

The week that was #10

Another week has flown by and I'm one step closer to having a break and I could really do with it. Things have been quite full on with work and anyone with an almost two year old knows just how demanding it is when you're at home, to keep them busy, get what they need and make sure everyone is happy.
That being said, I am having so much fun with Ethan at the moment. We can have pretty good conversations now, even if hubs and I are the only ones to understand everything he says, and I've been making a real effort to spend more time with Ethan and to do more things.


Friday, 27 March 2015

To Become Dad

I've written many a time that dads don't always get as much look-in or support as they should when they go on their journey to become dad. I've also said many a time to my hubs that he should write a guest post for this blog of mine, as he's a very eloquent writer and I think it would be really interesting to share his perspective for a change.

And finally, he said yes.

M&S, to celebrate the launch of their new online baby hub, got in touch to ask if Stephen would like to share his top dad tips which may also make it into a Dad's Survival Guide they're collating. 

So, here in his first post as To Become Dad, may I introduce you to my husband and his take on the whole bump to baby thing...


Thursday, 26 March 2015

Why don't we put ourselves first?

This is a question I have come to ask myself recently, when I've taken a step back and really looked at the way I think and do things.

When you first start on your journey to become mum, you know that your priorities will need to change and that the needs of another will soon trump your own, every single time.

When that line turns blue and you know that a baby is indeed on its way, you feel different because you know you have this responsibility to nurture and protect.

Suddenly, everything you do has a direct impact on your baby.

What you eat. What you drink. How active or inactive you are. How much sleep you have. Even what you wear ends up being determined by how much stretch it has and if bump feels comfortable.

And of course, you don't complain. Much. You knew you would need to adjust and you're compelled to do all that you can for your baby-to-be.

For me, as soon as I knew that I had a little bean (our nickname for Ethan before we knew who he was) I immediately thought about what I was doing and how that might impact on him. I read up on the nutrients I should be getting from my food, I never missed a breakfast and I always had a snack pack for when I could feel my energy levels dip.

I have never taken care of myself as much as I did when I was pregnant.

Soon after Ethan was born, all my good habits all but dissipated.

No more regular breakfasts. Much more lax about my eating habits. Nothing too bad really but I certainly wasn't a goody two shoes any more.

But why?

Well, yes I had given birth and bean was now Ethan, but why did I take that as a signal to stop caring for myself, my body, so much? I guess that my priorities, rightfully, changed as I adapted to becoming mum and putting Ethan first.

But I'm still doing it. Not necessarily with Ethan all the time, but in general. I am rarely the first in line. And it is my own doing.

I don't make the time to prepare or sit down to eat breakfast. It's never inspired me but I know it's important and I know it can't be good to go without until 1pm, or to rely on a sneaky snack in between if I get desperate.

I don't make the time to take care of myself like I used to when I had bump. Be it having a bath or having a good skincare routine, I was far more religious about these things when bean was in my belly.

Really, it's all too easy for me to let other priorities take over. Ethan. The house. Work. Family. And of course, some of these things should of course come first, be at the front of the line.

But, what if you're always at the back?

Yeah, yeah. I'll do something about it. I will. In a bit. Next time.

There's always a next time, though, so really my point is that we should all try and make a little more room for ourselves. Remember who we were and who we are today. Think about what we need and want.

And try to make the time to move ourselves to the front of the line.

Just sometimes.


Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Spring cleaning

In case you hadn't noticed, it's spring and it always means one thing to me. Cleaning.

Exciting, huh?!

No, really, this is the only time of year I will tend to get excited at the prospect of clearing clutter and cleaning things until they sparkle, or at least resemble their original colour or state.


Monday, 23 March 2015

The week that was #9

This week has been a week of two halves; work, lots and lots of work, and quality time with my little family.

DOING It's been pretty busy, I've spent some more time in the car travelling and I've been getting up extra early, even on my days 'off' (when do mum's ever have a day off, really?), just to get things done. It's left me feeling a tad frazzled and a bit under the weather but I've got just 10 days until I'm having a well earned break and it's definitely in my sights.

We did have some Ethan free time at the weekend which helped us to finally get some spring cleaning done. I'll be writing about this more later in the week but we managed to tackle quite a few things and make a noticible difference. Honestly, I never thought I'd get so excited about steam cleaning my floors!

It was hard work but so worth it and we even had some time to spare, so I got to have a bath. Bliss!

We really missed little man and couldn't wait to have him home again in the end. 

TRYING I've been really good with my creams for my psoriasis and you can see a difference, particularly when I stop using them for a day or two. I'm getting a lot better at making time for it and hopefully soon I'll find out about my light therapy.

I've also been having a few more tests to see just why my blood pressure seems so high. My GP referee me to a consultant at the hospital and they want me to wear a 24 hour monitor to see if that gives them any more to go on. In the meantime, I'm doing a lot of reading and making a few changes to my diet to help lower my cholesterol and do what I can to help my health in general. The next step is to work out how I'm going to move more...

GOING This week, on Mummy and Ethan Wednesday, we went to the new attraction at West Midlands Safari Park, the Land of the Living Dinosaurs, and had a really lovely day together (check out my post last Thursday for all the details).

At the weekend, Ethan went to the Sea Life Centre on Saturday with his Nanny and Grandad (and we'll be going again next weekend to preview a new attraction - well, Ethan does love his animals, as do we!) and on Sunday morning, we headed to one of our local parks. 

We are really fortunate to have some truly beautiful places to go within a 10 minute drive time of our house and Ethan loved going on the swings and slide and visiting the geese. 

In fact, it was almost exactly one year since we first took him there and he had his first go on a swing. 

Changed a bit, hasn't he?! 

EATING I've been cooking quite a lot this week, trying a few new things and getting an almost daily dose of avocado. God, I love that stuff! I've been adding it to tuna or houmous on Ryvita or crispbread at lunch and at the weekend, I couldn't resist whipping up a couple of bowls of homemade guacamole.

Anything goes with it, just mash one avocado, chop up some tomatoes, slice three spring onions, add the juice of half a lime then add a dash of hot sauce and a twist of black pepper. Serve with tortilla chips or on the side to some chilli. Either does it for me!

I've also taken our big spring clean as a chance to use up items that have long been stuck at the back of the cupboards. You know, those nearly empty bottles of sauce and long forgotten packets of who knows what? 

Well, I cleared out all the used or (*hangs head in shame*) out of date herbs and whatnot, wrote a list of what was left then planned my meal shop for the week around what we already had. It felt so good to do this, after being in the habit of just shopping for new and fresh food each week, and I was amazed at how many meals I had the main components for already.

I've got an Easter eats themed post coming later this week do you can see some of the things I've been trying.

I've also picked up Deliciously Ella's book. If you haven't heard of her, she's a fab, inspiring health and food blogger and her book is full of interesting information and recipe ideas using foods we should try eating more of. It sits nicely alongside my other recent read, I Quit Sugar for Life, and it's helping me think about and change my habits.

WEARING My new rose print tshirt dress and plimsoles from Cath Kidston are pretty lovely and the denim dress will be mine soon (my excuse is I have a discount code to use). That'll be it... until the new prints roll round!

PLANNING Hubs and I always tackle things around the home at this time of year and we will soon be giving our bedroom a mini makeover and tidying our garden and patio. I've got lots of ideas and will be sharing our plans soon, I promise.

Friday, 20 March 2015

A roarsome day out

I love going on day trips out and it's one of my fondest memories as a child. We were always going on coach trips or visiting museums and I very much want to introduce Ethan to as many experiences as possible.

On our last Mummy and Ethan Wednesday, we were invited to go along to a brand new attraction opening at West Midlands Safari Park, one of our favourite places in the Midlands to go to as a family on a day out. The only information we were given in advance was it would be something pretty special and very different to anything else the park had done before.

We were certainly intrigued and had one or two ideas from the invite we were sent but nothing really prepared us for just how special this new attraction was.

When we arrived, we headed for the Discovery Trail, first saying hello to the penguins which we both love, before heading off to explore the Lorikeet Landing, which is a heated indoor home to a flock of 52 lorikeets. Ethan was in awe of these beautiful birds and when two landed on my head, he kept pointing at me saying 'Mama, hat!' which made me laugh no end.

We then wandered down to see the hippos and meercats before arriving exactly as the new exhibit was opening for its previews.

But what was it?

Well, we had a little clue as we walked closer and saw something unusual in between the trees...

Dinosaurs! But not just any dinosaurs, as we were soon to discover.

No, the new attraction, Land of the Living Dinosaurs, features 38 life size dinosaurs that all have moving mouths, necks, eyes and, in some cases, tails.

You may know that we have a little dinosaur fan in our house. Well, it's more a case that hubs and I have loved dinosaurs since a young age, but Ethan too seems to like them, although he calls them 'roars'.

At least, I hope he likes them, seeing as he has a dinosaur themed playroom...


I've seen a few dinosaur attractions before but nothing that's come close to this new feature. Honestly, I thought it was fantastic. Roarsome, you might say (sorry!).

First of all, there are lots of dinosaurs to see. Lots. Not just a handful, well spread out, but lots of different types to see and all done to scale, based on the knowledge archaeologists have, and organised through the four ages that they walked the earth - Permian, Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous, for the geeks out there.

Second, there's atmospheric sound effects and music throughout the Jurassic safari which really add to the feel of it all, and the 'caution' signs dotted around really made me smile as they were a funny take on the 'don't feed the animals' type notices you see in 'real' animal enclosures.

Thirdly, this attraction is pretty large so you can really take your time walking around, reading the informative signs and spotting fossils as you go.

When we were there, two school groups were also walking around and it was really good to see the children really so into the feel of the place - they were even hesitant walking underneath the swooshing tails of the large dinosaurs!

Ethan wasn't scared at all, which I did wonder if he would be when I saw how authentic the park was trying to make the attraction feel. Instead, he pointed enthusiastically and kept saying 'rooooaaarrr!' all the way around.

Another great addition was the chance for visitors to interact with 'real' dinosaurs, in the form of a baby velocirapter called George being cared for by a park ranger and another dinosaur that walks about and says hello (forgive me, I forget his name).

Towards the end of the trail, we found an archaeological dig site which looked a lot of fun and we had to make a trip into the Dinosaur Trading Co. to pick a souvenir, which was quite hard to do as there was so much to choose from.

Ethan did manage to pick two friends in the end to bring home with him - luckily, they don't bite.

There was one more dinosaur left to meet before we left, and he was pretty hard to miss...

Ever the hero, Ethan waved goodbye to the big roar as we left.

It was a real shame that hubs couldn't join us on the day we went but we're planning on going back soon. As the Land of the Living Dinosaurs is included within the entry ticket price for the whole safari park (£19.99 adults, £14.99 children 3-15 years, £17.99 concessions, under 3's free), with a free return ticket included also, it makes this an even better value day out for the family.

The investment they made into this attraction (around £2.5m) really shows and whilst the real animals you can visit and tour around on safari are always going to be the stars of the show, the dinosaurs are certainly not to be missed.

* Thank you to West Midlands Safari Park for inviting us to the preview - we both thought it was T-rexcellent!


Thursday, 19 March 2015

The perfect lie-in

Ah, lie-ins. A long and distant memory, as I'm sure they are for many mums and dads.

Even though Ethan sleeps through most nights now without disturbance (touch wood), I still miss out on the chance to lie-in. Getting up at 6am every working day means I naturally wake up earlier when I don't have an office to go into and as soon as I wake up, my mind switches onto autopilot and I start running through all the things I need to remember, arrange, do...

But bed is still one of my favourite places to be and if I can keep myself nice and snug in bed, without work or household chores calling me up and out, then I will.

Just bring me a mug of tea.

And some toast. Soft and fluffy bread. Lots of butter and a smidge of Marmite. Perfect,

I'd prop myself up on some pillows, turn on my iPad and catch up with what's going on over on Facebook and Instagram, catch up on some of my favourite blogs and just generally ease into my day.


It could only be made better by the addition of these two.

Hubs on his handheld games console thing (don't ask me what it's called, he has so many of them) and Ethan taking over my iPad to watch Pumble (Mr Tumble) or Choo Choo (Thomas the Tank Engine).

This is my idea of the perfect lie in and Roberts Bakery has shared their ideas for treating yourself or someone special to breakfast in bed (along with a rather tasty loaf of their Soft & Fluffy bread, which lasted about two minutes in our house).

Why wait for a special occassion or Mother's Day to come around again before enjoying a bit longer in the morning in bed?

You know, the washing up can wait...

Monday, 16 March 2015

The week that was #8

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had a good weekend. We had a busy one to round off a busy work week, celebrating my Dad's birthday on Saturday and, of course, Mother's Day on Sunday - my second!

We were quite snap happy so I've decided to share our weekend in photos tomorrow whilst focusing on a few things from earlier on in the week in today's post.

DOING Ethan and I have been getting back into a routine of having Wednesday's together, just us two, and this week we had a busy day running here, there and everywhere.

The photo below was taken around 3.30pm and was the first time we had both sat down all day.

Here's the moment Ethan looked away from his homemade Shepherd's Pie... and someone else saw an opportunity to be had!

Cheeky kitty.

On Wednesday night, we invited my Mother-in-Law over for dinner. It's been a while since she had come over and we wanted to cook something nice as an early Mother's Day treat.

I had a go at making carbonara for the first time, following this recipe from Jamie loosely, and despite being nervous about scrambling the eggs, I managed to pull this off and wolfed mine down in a matter of minutes. What? I was hungry!

SNAPPING I love the fact that I managed to capture this moment between hubs and sleeping bubs. It's such a simple, sweet photo and I love the way Ste's arms are circling our sleeping little man.

The teddy's name is Tedmond, in case you were wondering.

SEEING This week, for the first time in a very long time, I've been pretty religious with my psoriasis skincare regime. Every night, I spent 20 minutes applying my steroid creams and believe it or not, the pic below shows a big improvement (I've kept it small as you really don't need to see this in full detail).

Trust me, it does look a lot better. It was all thick scaly skin before and now, I have managed to smooth the surface of my skin on all affected areas, just leaving pink or red 'staining'. I just have to keep on top of it so it doesn't start to get sore again.

WONDERING Some of the photos I've taken of this chap this week have had me wondering where time is going and when this toddler-almost-teenager arrived on the sofa.

DRESSING For Comic Relief on Friday, Ethan's nursery had a fancy dress day so it gave us a chance to put him in his spacesuit, all the way from Nasa thanks to his Nanny and Grandad. He kept it on all day and had many an adventure from the sounds of it.

INTRODUCING We have a new member of our family - Sven, the two metre tall cardboard reindeer, a gift from Ethan's Uncle. He doesn't say much but Ethan adores him.

ENJOYING As mentioned, this weekend was about spending time with my family, who I don't really get to see enough. We played, we went to the pub, we feasted on fresh chocolate eclairs as a birthday treat for my Dad and we enjoyed some nibbles whilst watching The Voice.

Ethan loved seeing his Gramps and Nanna and they both marvelled at how much more he has changed in the past few weeks.

On Sunday, Ethan spoiled me with a beautiful card and a Pandora ring featuring his birthstone, and we took my Mum for a meal at Ask. I got dressed up for the occasion, wearing my new Lindy Bop dress and curling my hair with my Babyliss Curl Secret styler for the first time (it took a while to work it out) and Ethan also put on his finest clothes for me.

I think he stole the show, don't you?

It was a lovely visit that went by too fast as always but we enjoyed each other's company and we captured quite a few memories - more photos to come in tomorrow's post.
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