Sunday, 31 May 2015

#SilentSunday / #MySundayPhoto

I took this at the park yesterday and it's just a simple moment captured - Ethan decided he didn't want to go down the slide and reached for hubs to help him down - and you can't even really see their faces, but the colours and composition are just really striking to me and there's just something about it that makes me smile.

It's definitely a memory I want to keep.



Wednesday, 27 May 2015

My pick of the Cath Kidston new season preview

It's a well known fact that I can't resist a Cath Kidston print and I'm always filled with glee to discover new products have dropped.

A preview of the new season prints has been revealed this past week and naturally, a few things have caught my eye.

However, my Cath collection has grown nicely over the past year or so and I need to be a bit more choosy about picking out anything new to add. So, what do you need to know about the preview range and what would I buy if I had some pennies to spare?


Well, Autumn/Winter 2015 at Cath seems to take a new spin on some old print favourites and there's a real emphasis on bold colours, with rich blues, ochre yellows and ruby reds dominating the collection so far.


Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The week and Bank Holiday weekend that was #18

I'm enjoying sharing my weekly goings on here, although some weeks I have more to say or share than others. 

But that's real life, isn't it? It's not always fun, interesting or exciting, it's not always new adventures, milestones made or lessons learnt. It doesn't mean that it's not worth documenting though. So for that reason, I'm pleased to still be here, sharing a weekly round up with you. 

This past week has been pretty packed from a work point of view again, so the only things that I really have to share were at the very start and very end of this past week.

WORKING My job saw me looking after the rather lovely Karen Hauer and Kevin Clifton, of Strictly Come Dancing fame, for a client event I helped organise at the press and VIP day of Chelsea Flower Show. 


Friday, 22 May 2015

BBQ this Bank Holiday weekend? Here's hoping!

Us Brits love a good barbecue don't we? With the Bank Holiday weekend just ahead of us, I thought I'd share some BBQ food inspiration and recipe ideas as I for one would very much like to tuck into something flame grilled whilst sat in my garden this weekend.

So here's my take on the perfect Bank Holiday weekend barbecue...

The essentials
* Burgers - add the cheese of your choice (cheddar or cheese slices are classics of course but why not try stilton, smoked cheese or mozzarela for a different taste?)
* Sausages - hot dogs or Cumberland, whatever you fancy
* Chicken wings - smothered in Frank's Hot Buffalo Sauce (honestly, it's be BEST sauce you can buy - I craved it when I was expecting Ethan and I'm still addicted to it now)


Thursday, 21 May 2015

Honestly speaking?

There's many times that I've been asked about why I blog, what I blog about and how I decide what to share and not to share.

For some, it's a hard idea to get their heads around, particularly if they're a bit wary of social media in general.

Sharing your thoughts, feelings, happenings and photos of your family life? Online, where anyone can see it? 


It's not for everyone.

Even within the blogging community, there's a divide in understanding and people's approach to it all. Some seemingly share only the good bits, the happy bits, the Instagram filtered bits. Some use code names for their children as a way to protect their identity in some way. 

Others are honest. Brutally honest, sometimes. Sharing all the highs and the lows and the mundane too, to really show what life as a parent is really like and to be truthful about who they are.

Some of this sharing can be quite raw and doesn't always make the easiest reading but the people who put themselves out there in such a way can really only be admired. They're sharing their experiences to help not just themselves but others, by giving them a virtual reassuring pat on the back, by lending some advice or simply giving people the chance to see things from another perspective.

If you're a blogger or a social media user, how much do you share? Does every photo have a filter? Does every comment you make have the same?

There's pros and cons to being honest, and to being guarded, and we all walk our own lines with what we feel comfortable with, sometimes falling a little more one side than the other than we thought we would, as some things take us off course or knock our balance off kilter.

I was going to start a linky called the perfectly imperfect parent (or PIPs as I affectionately referred to us as) and wrote about how really, we are all flawed and to be a parent is to be imperfect. We don't have all the answers and every day life can be really challenging. Imperfect. But that doesn't mean we are doing something wrong. Letting our kids or ourselves down.

Fellow blogger and Birmingham dweller Emma from Brummy Mummy of 2 is one such blogger who has an honest voice and shares the good, the bad and the ugly. I really admire her and love reading her posts, from Wicked Wednesdays where we are all encouraged to share a 'real' photo of our daily lives to her posts where she says how we all really feel from time, like this one about being a bit bored some days. 

With Emma's posts, she's using her experiences to reach out and say 'it's OK to be a bit crap, nobody's perfect!' and last week, her honesty was picked up in the national press.

The Daily Mail online ran a story about how her blog shares photos of her kids having tantrums and creating a mess, simplifying things a bit as they always do, and Emma had a whole heap of abuse hurled her way, from the DM trolls, as they always do.

I guess it's to be expected and sadly, a lot of these judgements are made by other women, mothers or bloggers. We are all entitled to our own opinions and that's why people like us have our own blogs in the first place - to share those opinions.

The beauty of the online world is that as long as no one is getting hurt, if you don't like what you see or read, you can move on. It's not for you. And that's ok. Just move on.

I wanted to share my thoughts on this topic as I don't have any answers but it stirred up a few things for me and I wanted to really say that people like Emma have my admiration.

I'm honest on here and share details of my life but it's always to a point, so I really commend those who don't really mind what other people think, knowing that creating a reaction is better than being ignored and that they have stayed true to their regular readers and themselves.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Face of a mother

There comes a time when you look yourself in the mirror and you see something. Something you didn't before.

You get so used to the same reflection, that you don't even notice the slight changes. You just go about your usual routine regardless. You know the shape of your face, the slope of your nose, the curve of your mouth when you smile.

But as time goes by, you change and those changes will one day show. Little by little. Almost invisible until you one day look at your reflection in a new way. Fresh light shows you new lines, new shadows and you realise your face has changed.

It happens to us all and it can take some time to notice, and I've recently noticed how my face has changed.

I thought it was the same old face I've always had but there's something different. Something I didn't notice before.

I am getting older, no doubt about it, and although my plump cheeks are still there, helping to give me a somewhat girlish look, there's other signs that I'm no longer a teen, no longer a 20-something.

No escaping it now! I've seen my face in a new light. I am older and, I hope, wiser. I am 10 years into my career. I'm five years married. I'm a mother of a wonderful two year old son.

And my face shows it all.

My face has the hallmarks of a mum.


Monday, 18 May 2015

The week that was #17

All work and no play makes for quite a quick and not the most interesting weekly update post this week. I've been so busy with so many things that I've not really tried anything new, been anywhere particularly exciting or even taken that many photos.

But, in a nutshell, key points from the past week include...

Ethan has been an absolute star throughout his chickenpox, which started the day after his second birthday (I'll be sharing a few tips on surviving the pox soon), and by Thursday last week, he was back at nursery and all his spots have almost completely faded away.

We've been having a lot of fun at bedtime and I've tried to make up for all the work I've been doing in the evenings where possible. Ethan's in a new phase where Mummy is his first choice and I've been taking advantage of all the cuddles and attention he's been giving me.

I won a past season Cath Kidston dress on eBay, in her safari print, which made me very happy and it's one that Ethan likes a lot too. I've also been drooling over the preview of their new season prints for Autumn / Winter - I'll no doubt share my top picks soon.

On Saturday, Ethan and I went to The Baby Show at the NEC. I went solo last year and had a good time and together we had a nice day out and got to see the lovely people at Arla Big Milk (Ethan polished off his milk in seconds), Tommee Tippee (we've got some fab new cups for Ethan to use) and Aldi too (who had invited me along to the show - see my preview post here).

On Sunday, I had to leave my boys after lunch to head to London for a work event. It's been something I've been building up to for a while and it's a mixture of excitement and exhaustion now the event has rolled around.

I'm looking forward to the Bank Holiday, as we're off to Cbeebies Land at Alton Towers, and then looking ahead to a week off at the end June / start July so just need to hang on for a few more weeks before having a proper, much needed break.

Whatever you're doing this week, have a good one!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Spend a little...

Wouldn't we all like to spend a little and live a lot? I definitely would like to make a few savings here and there so I've been looking at ways to trim our weekly food and household bill down and be a bit more savvy with our shopping.

I've always had a keen eye for a bargain and love a good deal but there's always new ways to save a little here and there, and new places to shop in too.

I for one have never shopped in Aldi. It's not really been a conscious decision, I was just set in a particular routine, but I popped into our local store last week to see what the fuss is all about. I've heard many great things about what Aldi has to offer, from award-winning wines and nappies to a good range of fresh food at a good price.

So, I set off with my bags for life (that's one thing I did know to do before I went!) and had a good wander around my local Aldi to see what was what.


Monday, 11 May 2015

The week that was #16

This past week has been pretty great for my little family - any week that starts with a Bank Holiday is bound to be good, right?

As you may have seen from my last weekly round up, Ethan's second birthday celebrations started early with a family party last Sunday then on Monday, we spent the day playing in the garden with Ethan's new playhouse and slide.

Well, Tuesday was his proper birthday and my little man officially turned two. You can see all three parts of his birthday fun in this video but here's a few more snaps for you to add to everything else I've already shared on here this past week (I've been quite snap happy of late!).

After opening his presents and playing with balloons on Tuesday, we headed out to catch a very special train. We'd booked tickets to go on the Seven Valley Railway and as Ethan's a big fan of choo choo's, we knew he'd have a great time.

The Kidderminster station was amazing, like stepping back in time, and we were lucky that the weather had started to brighten up in time for our journey.

We chose one of the train compartments to have to ourselves and it felt like we were boarding the Hogwarts Express.

We had a packed lunch and enjoyed the trip all the way to the final stop, Bridgenorth, around one hour twenty minutes away.

The train went through some lovely countryside, including the edge of the West Midlands Safari Park where we got to see the baby elephant who was celebrating his first birthday on the same day as Ethan was celebrating his second, which was an unexpected sight to see.

We had a lot of fun and as the weather took a turn for the worse when we arrived at Bridgenorth, we decided to stay on the train and enjoy the return journey, but not before we had a picture together at the front of the train.

Suffice to say, Ethan really enjoyed his trip on the train and we were so pleased too. It was a great day out and I'd definitely recommend it. What a nice way to spend his birthday.

On Thursday, I had a phototherapy assessment appointment as I've been approved for light therapy for my psoriasis again. They talked through how it all works again as a recap and I should hear about my time slots soon, which will involve three appointments a week.

I'm hoping that I will start to see an improvement by the time of my sister-in-law's wedding at the end of June, as I'm a bridesmaid and would prefer not to feel too self-conscious about the skin on my arms, chest and legs.

Here's hoping!

This week also saw me pick up some new wheels so let me introduce to you my new car, Carrie...

She's a beaut isn't she?

Ethan certainly found her to be a very comfortable ride on his first outing...

The not so great part of this past week is the fact that little man has chickenpox. We first spotted a few suspicious spots on Wednesday but we weren't too sure as there weren't that many and he seemed fine otherwise. 

By Thursday morning, there were a few more and a couple had blistered so we knew it was definitely chickenpox. I worked from home and kept an eye on him then Ste took over on Friday while I went into work. He has to be off nursery for a week, until the spots scab over, so we're taking it in turns.

To be honest, whilst the spots are pretty horrible, he's been so lucky to only have them on his body, neck and head. He has a few on his forehead / face and some in his nappy area which must be particularly unpleasant but really, he doesn't seem to notice. He absentmindedly scratches at his head but because there's no spots on his arms or legs, for now at least, he's been leaving them alone and he's had no fever or anything else either.

I feel really lucky to be saying this and I'm touching wood too just in case I jinx anything, but so far, Ethan has been an angel throughout this. 

Just like normal really.


Saturday, 9 May 2015

Ethan's 2nd birthday - caught on camera!

Much like his Mum, Ethan didn't just have one celebration for his second birthday. No, we celebrated on three occasions!

I put together this video of our special long weekend with Ethan, our friends and family and hope you enjoy taking a look at how Ethan turned two.


Friday, 8 May 2015

Fun in the sun

Ethan's birthday gifts had a garden-centred theme. Last year when he turned one, he couldn't walk so we couldn't really do too much outdoors - not without him in his pushchair, at least.

So this year, we've focused on making our garden a fun play area for Ethan. We have work to do on the garden and plan on creating a fenced play area with wood chip at some point (probably next summer now), but for the time being, Ethan has all the key features he needs to have lots of fun in the sun.


Thursday, 7 May 2015

Me and mine: April

I'm cheating just a little bit with this latest Me and Mine photo, as it was taken on 3rd May at Ethan's early birthday party. We didn't manage to get one of the three of us before April ended and as this month is young, we have plenty of time to capture another family photo for May so I'm going to go ahead and cheat for now.

So, here we are, in all our party hat wearing glory.

Cheesy grins at the ready.

This was a special day for us so I am glad we managed to get a photo of us all together, which proves more and more challenging as Ethan gets older.

But at least this project really helps to encourage me to make the time and do what I can to get us together and say 'cheese!' at the same time.

dear beautiful

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Mummy and Me: April

It's turning into a bit of a photo crazy week on here this week, but we've been snap happy recently and I wanted to join in with a few link ups seeing as I actually have a few photos worthy of sharing.

Ethan's at a tricky age where getting a photo of him, looking at the camera, looking happy and without any blur is almost impossible... just try getting me in front of the camera too. It just doesn't happen.

It's been eight months, EIGHT MONTHS, since I really had a 'profile worthy' pic of me and the little man. It's not about vanity (I really just want natural photos that capture real life), but I just haven't been in that many photos or the photos I have been in have been poor quality or involve one of the issues mentioned above.

For whatever reason, at the end of April, this changed and I managed to get a few photos with Ethan, just us two. A couple blurry (standard, but included because you can tell they would have been great photos if they had been in focus) and a lovely one that's now my new social profile pic.

You could say it's been a good month!

So, here's my Mummy and Me post for April... let's hope I have some new photos in May to share with you too!

Attempt 1:

Attempt 2:

Attempt 3 - almost got it!:

Attempt 4 - we have a winner!:

Nicola... Life Through My Eyes

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Turning two - a letter from me to you

Hello Ethan

It's officially your second birthday. 

As of 12.47am this morning, to be precise. 

You're twice as old as you were this time last year and an infinite amount more fun and amazing too. Every day, you're growing and learning and just becoming the most amazing little boy.

Who knew it could get any better?

When I wrote to you before your first birthday last year, I was feeling a mix of emotions and I'm much the same now. It feels like we've been waiting for your second birthday for a while now, impatient as we are, and although I still look back at your early days with great joy and a whole heap of love, I wouldn't swap it for now because you're your own little person.

You're you. Ethan, at two.

Lover of Boody and Buzz, of choo choo and Gordan, of Mr Pumble, Teddy Hat and Schen the reindeer.

Singer of 'Let It Go', keen colourer and a book worm who loves his bedtime stories. Particularly The Gruffalo.

Collector of Happyland little people and hoarder of cuddly toys, all of whom have a place in the lounge or in a particular spot in your cot.

Big fan of cuddles, the word 'no' (sometimes followed quickly by 'yes' when you realise you do actually want what we asked you about after all) and animals, especially Hockhock (Sherlock), Arty and the Woof too.

Cockney sounding when you say 'ello Mummy!' and brummie in your accent when you say 'bye-byyye'.

Strangely concerned about grass, your trouser legs being rolled up or your feet being covered and always accompanied by Putin (penguin) when you have a bath.

It's been an amazing 12 months. This time last year, you couldn't walk let alone talk. Now, just look at you!

You're 84cm or thereabouts tall. You pick up new words every day and understand so much more, so we can have real conversations now and you know what we mean or what we want you to do.

There are so many moments, big and small, that Daddy and I appreciate every day and want to remember. There's almost too many to count, but this letter attempts to contain a few so we can look back and you can see too what you were like and how much you were loved.

Some of our favourite memories this year include your first steps, when we went to Center Parcs for my 30th birthday last July, your first words and all the words you have said since and all the things you have discovered this year.

So here's to you, wonderful you, now you're two.

Just as it was hard for us to picture what you would be like before you were born, when you turned one and this time last year, looking ahead and imagining you at two, we have no idea where the year ahead will take us and how you will change further still.

All we do know is we can't wait.

Have a truly wonderful day our wonderful little man. We love you even more than we did yesterday but not half as much as we will tomorrow.

Thank you for giving us all we could ever want and for being all that I need.

I love you Ethan.

The biggest of happy birthdays,

Mama xx


Monday, 4 May 2015

The week that was #15 - the one with Ethan's 2nd birthday party

Happy Bank Holiday Monday everyone. It's time for another weekly round up...

This week, I was away from home for a couple of nights due to work and had a pretty tiring time of it. As such, this week's 'the week that was' is a little different, just as I don't have quite so much to report as normal - all the fun stuff at least relates to this past weekend!

I missed my boys and the week felt long because of everything I had to do so by the time the weekend rolled round, I was ready for some down time.

And of course, it was the start of Ethan's birthday celebrations too. On Saturday, our best friends descended on Birmingham and we met in the city centre at a lovely bar and restaurant for a birthday meal for Lindsay, who was 30 plus one.

Little did we know, we had more than just birthday's to celebrate... there was an engagement too, of two of our best friends. We were so over the moon and you can find out more here, where I shared my favourite photo of the week.

We headed back to ours on Saturday, late afternoon, for a celebration and a toast to not just one but two brides-to-be and grooms-to-be in our group. 

2016 is going to be an exciting year.

On Sunday, we had a mini party planned for Ethan with close friends and family at a lovely pub called The Hedgehog.

He turns two on Tuesday so it was the perfect chance to celebrate with some of the special people in Ethan's life.

It also gave me a good excuse to put a nice dress on and put my hair in rollers too.

We had a room to ourselves, lots of balloons and cake and it was a really nice afternoon spent in good company.

He was a very lucky boy, receiving lots of thoughtful gifts, including: a Little Tikes push car, Thomas, Toy Story and dinosaur books, Mr Tumble interactive book, blow up dinosaur playmat, jelly shoes, Justin Fletcher party CD, garden toys and an Olaf t-shirt to name a few. Suffice to say, he was a very happy boy indeed.

And he has even more to come on Tuesday!

He had a lot of fun and was in good spirits until he had a bit of a sugar crash after his choo-choo cake and needed a nap, desperately!

We packed up everything and came home to play with all his new things and to enjoy a quiet day today before his birthday tomorrow. We'll be going on the Seven Valley Railway steam train which I just know Ethan will love and we can't wait.

My baby's going to be two. TWO. Yikes!
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