Thursday, 31 August 2017

#TBT When You Learn You're Going to Become a Mum

#TBT post, from February 2015, shared again as it was five years ago today that I first learned that I was going to become mum....

For some people, it's a decision they made a long time ago and for others, it's a surprise but either way, finding out you're going to become a mum is a really special time.

Whether you've been trying for ages or succeeded on your first attempt (ahem), when the blue line appears on your pregnancy test, you're heart skips a beat and you realise that this is it. This. Is. It.

You're going to have a baby. You've going to grow a bump. Someone will, someday, call you Mummy.


It's a moment I know I will never forget. It was something we had very much wanted and very much planned (I don't do that well with surprises and like to have a good idea about what's going to happen and when, as much as I can) and Ethan seemed to be very happy to go along with this. After three months, the line went blue and my journey to become mum began.


Suits you

We have had our fair share of special occasions as a family over the past couple of years. Two years ago, both my Sister-in-Law and my Brother-in-Law got married, within the space of four months, and then last summer, one of my best friends got married then two of our best friends married each other just four days later - and we were involved in the wedding parties for all of them!

* Sponsored post

Of course, we had to look the part, and with so many celebrations to enjoy, we had to find the perfect outfit - and both hubs and Ethan had to find the right formal attire to go with the different weddings, themes and colours.

Finding the right mens suit, I am told, isn't always easy. When it was our own wedding, almost seven years ago now, I left the groomsmen suits to Stephen to sort out. I didn't know what to look for and thought that it was best to leave him to it, as he would know what style he wanted to go for and how he wanted his groomsmen to look. In the end, it was quite a traditional black suit with a short tail, paired with a white embroidered waistcoat and a rich purple tie, to tie-in with the purple bridesmaids dresses I had chosen.

Then, in the case of my Dad, he really wanted to make a statement - and opted for a bold pinstripe with a hat to top off the look!


Wednesday, 30 August 2017

How Can a Polytunnel Encourage Your Child to Eat Healthily

It is a common and concerning problem: tea time tantrums. From hissy fits when peas are on the plate to refusing to eat anything red, children, as they grow and develop, have all kinds of food fads.

* Collaborative post

As parents, it is our responsibility to ensure that they eat a balanced diet that supports and nurtures what can sometimes be rapid growth, physically and emotionally. But if you precious poppet won’t eat peas or leafy greens, won’t touch carrots or entertain anything that resembles a fruit, what can you do.

You need to get creative. And that means getting down and dirty in the garden. The answer to your faddy eater may lay in domestic polytunnels or within the flower borders of your garden.
So, roll up your sleeves, and get planting – but, more importantly, get the kids involved!

Plant and Grow Your Own Food

Sounds too messy and time-consuming? Or maybe you are no gardener and therefore, have no clue what makes a parsnip grow big and flavoursome? Or maybe you just don’t have the space in the garden?

The good news is, there are solutions...


Friday, 25 August 2017

The Deep - on at Sea Life Centre Birmingham until 17th September!

Today is the first day of our holidays, with over two weeks together before Ethan starts school. I have lots of things planned in and a trip to the Sea Life Centre Birmingham will almost certainly be on the cards, so we can catch their limited time special event - The Deep.

This latest special event is about exploring the mysteries of The Deep, where children can attempt to solve the secrets of the sea and become a Junior Nekton. Visitors can navigate to each of the Nekton zones and use the decoders to solve the puzzles along the way, collecting a reward at the end of the challenge.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

#TBT - Destination Mum

* Post first shared in February 2015

The name of this blog - To Become Mum - was chosen at a time when I was about to embark on my first adventures in mummyhood.

I didn't know what to expect. What it would be like. What I would be like. I wanted to share the things I learned and tried and failed and succeeded at.

My journey to become mum.

I guess I used to think of becoming mum as a kind of destination; follow the map, take directions if needed, trust my own sense of direction and one day, I would arrive at 'Mum'. I expected the journey to begin when I knew I was expecting then, after baby was born and having had a short while to find my feet and learn the ropes, I'd know that I had arrived.

From bump to baby to toddler, I now realise that being 'Mum' really isn't a destination at all. It's not something that you can know the directions to for sure, no matter how many times you check the best routes, plan ahead, leave enough time or consult paths previously tred.

Becoming mum, or dad, is actually a journey. One that takes time. Some parts are easy going and you pick up a few shortcuts others have twists and turns and expected bumps in the road. You can be thrown road blocks one minute and the rest of the time, all the lights are in your favour and you can sail through, happy and content and without anything holding you back.

It's a journey that never really ends. Sure, I became mum on 5th May 2013, when my beautiful son was born. Or, even earlier than that, on 14th August when a blue line appeared and told me what I had hoped so much for was true. But I am more a mum now than I was then and I'll be even more so in the weeks, months and years ahead.

Because I'm learning. And it takes time and practice, putting theory into practice, learning lessons, picking up a few minors and hoping you'll be forgiven any majors you might have marked against you along the way. 

Maybe it just wasn't your day. Perhaps you missed something in your blind spot.

You can always try harder next time. 

You never stop learning as the roads are always changing and, sometimes, the signs just don't seem to be there. I've never travelled these roads before, having a toddler who can walk and talk, who will one day soon need to be potty trained, and who one day, a long time away yet I hope, will create his own path and his own journey to wherever he wants to go.

I may be his guide, there as a compass to show him where true North lies, but he will make his own way in life just as I have in mine.

So for now, we are travelling companions - hubs, Ethan and I - all looking ahead to each and every milestone and doing all we can to enjoy the ride.

Because becoming mum is the greatest journey of my life. And all roads lead to what matters most. My family and my beautiful son.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

A bloomin' lovely competition - win a £500 Rattan Direct voucher

As summer rolls on, I am desperate to spend more time outside and want to create a garden to be proud of. I would love to have a patio set of rattan furniture to relax on and enjoy all year round - which is why I'm excited to share this competition with you.
* Collaborative post

Rattan specialists, Rattan Direct, is offering one lucky winner the chance to win a £500 voucher to spend on anything on their website - and all you have to do is share a snap of your garden!
The 'In the bloom' competition is all about celebrating our very own great outdoors. So what's in bloom right now? Hardy geraniums bloom through early summer when the garden is catching its breath. Other perennials help out: Siberian irises, Hattie’s pincushion, London pride, Granny’s bonnet. For bulbs there are camassia and alliums, then lilies and gladioli.
Roses are wonderful throughout June and July. There is also lavender (who doesn't want a family photo in the middle of a lavender field?!). A flush of annuals – cosmos, sweet peas, petunias, lobelia, sunflowers. Dahlias, cannas, crocosmia and day lilies add glamour. Oh, and hydrangeas – in pink, white or blue.
If you have a gorgeous garden and want to share a photo of it in all its glory, you could scoop this prize and win some beautiful rattan furniture to really make the most of your outdoor space.

Monday, 21 August 2017

How to Use Furniture to Enhance Your Interior Design Style

Do you marvel at the glossy pages of interior design magazines and wonder how people seem to have impeccable interior design style and taste?

Try as hard as you might, you look at your own living room, dining room, study and bedroom and find that somehow, they lack a ‘certain something’. Is this ‘certain something’ the best-kept secret in interior design, you may ask? What is it that stops your interior design style looking individual and yet cohesive?

* Collaborative post

Take a look at some of these insider tips and enhance your interior design style (and better still, they come in under budget too!).

Work with what you’ve got

It becomes expensive if you are constantly chasing a certain look or style and in an effort to grab it, you are continually buying new furniture and replacing the soft furnishings. With this in mind, the following insider tips are principles that can be applied to the furniture and items you already have in a space.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Tried and tested: Toddler Fun Learning app

At the mid-way point of summer holidays, I am sure that many parents are running out of things to do and children may start being more difficult to entertain. I'm not an iPad parent as such but I don't think there's any harm in giving children some screen time, as long as you know what they're using and it's one of many things that they might do in the day.

Ethan often asks to watch or play something in the mornings or when we get back from preschool. Not always, as more often than not he manages to sleep in until I wake him, but he has favourite shows on Netflix or films on DisneyLife like most kids and we also have a few apps too that he likes to play on.

We've just been introduced to the Toddler Fun Learning app, which was created by education experts and features not just a fun range of videos and games offering something to learn, but also has parenting features so you can limit the time your little one has to play.


Thursday, 17 August 2017

Toddler and Baby Event at Aldi starts today!

I love a bargain as much as the next person, and you can always rely on Aldi for a great deal. Their fab Toddler and Baby Event is back and it starts in store TODAY - so a brilliant time to pick up a bargain.

I've been fortunate to work with Aldi a few times over the years as Ethan has grown up and quickly came to love their baby range, from Mamia nappies, wipes and toiletries, to the snacks that are great for toddlers. 

This time, with him being that little bit older, Ethan's been treated to some new bath toys. Bath toys do seem to need replacing every so often, no matter how well you look after them, and there's some really fun ones in the new event - including these foam alphabet and number shapes, which are great for us to squeeze in a little learning fun amongst the soaking and splashing.


Summer garden all year round - win £100 worth of artificial grass

With the weather yo-yo-ing between clouds and rain and spells of lovely sunshine, it's fair to say we've had a typical British summer so far and the time we get to spend outdoors may be a little less than we would like. I actually managed to have my first BBQ of the year last weekend, when the sun had it's hat on for a little while, and it was really nice to spend some time outdoors with family, enjoying the garden, the company and of course, the weather.

* Collaborative post

It's a shame that our summers often leave us disappointed and I would love to spend more time outdoors in our own garden, but it's just been so damp and dreary. Add to this the fact that any period of rain causes grass (and weeds) to shoot up all over the place in next to no time, and our garden can quickly become unruly so it takes a lot of time and effort to get it back into order.

All of this makes me think that the best way to go is artificial grass. Realistic, easy to install and very easy to maintain, it can help create a luscious looking garden, all year round, come rain or shine. It's a great choice for families and for pets too as it's soft to play on and I really think it would make a big difference to our space - when we get the chance to use it, but also every day, when we look out the window to see a beautiful green lawn.

If summer has let you down and you'd like to give your garden a boost now and for the months and years ahead, then this competition could be for you...


4 novelty gift ideas to give to your friend who's a teacher

Did you know that a teacher in the UK works an average of 60 hours a week running around children and adolescents while also educating them? 60% of them are under the age of 40, whilst 31% are aged 30 and younger. These numbers contribute to a young academic workforce and may also reflect in your pool of teacher friends or they may even be your child’s teacher.

* Collaborative post

Despite the fact that teachers in the United Kingdom are among the highest paid in the world, they are still not millionaires (unless someone’s YouTube teaching channel becomes an overnight sensation!). Therefore, you know you must get creatively novel when any of your teacher friends or childs teacher have a reason to celebrate. Here is how you can surprise them with four different gifts bordering on novelty:

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Reclaiming our house - the big summer clear out!

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!).


Monday, 14 August 2017

When the kids are away (in bed), the adults will play (online Bingo!)

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'.

* Collaborative post

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.


Thursday, 10 August 2017

3 ways to save money without really trying

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. It’s always worth speaking to customer services (try using the ESA contact number)to check your bill status and if you can get a better deal.

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...


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Top tips for a tip top time at Thomas Land, Drayton Manor

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:


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Don't slip up at work

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!

* Collaborative post

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.


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

My 'mumiform'

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!):

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