Thursday, 15 September 2016

Buying baby clothes on a budget - Charity Shops

I have always tried where possible in life to spend as little money as I can on things. Be it the weekly food shop, meals out or clothes. In my mind I think what could I be doing with the extra money we spend on these things and begrudge paying more than necessary. Of course we have the odd splurge and I am far from tight but I try my best to make our money go as far as I can. 

When it comes to buying clothes I am a huge advocate for scouring the sales and charity shops are some of my favourite places to find a bargain. I know some people feel uncomfortable about wearing second hand clothing as you don't know where it has come from but I tell them to think about shopping in Primark. How many people could have tried that dress on before you and you wouldn't even know! 

My charity shopping doesn't really stop with me as I see no reason why my children can't be dressed in second hand clothing as long as it is in good condition and is washed before they wear it (sometimes I skip this part with Ted as I know the shop always wash things before they even make it onto the rails).

So when it came to buying clothes for our baby girl I wasn't afraid to shop secondhand and I have found her some beautiful clothes I may have not been able to justify at full price. Here are some of my favourites...



Here are my top 5 tips for Charity Shop spree's....

1. Get to know your local area- I know certain shops in Northampton are more expensive than others. For some reason Oxfam shops seem to price things up a lot higher than other charities so check out what you have in your local town. Some of the best are Barnardo's, British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research stores. 

2. Pop in regularly. Most stores will have a changeover of stock every week or so and people donate all the time.

3. If there is anything specific you are after then ask. Often stock is kept out the back and a member of staff may be able to find what you are looking for.

4. Know your prices. Always consider how much something would cost full price. I have seen charity shops trying to sell second hand Primark clothing for more than it would cost originally!

5. Rummage. Don't be afraid to dig to the bottom of baskets, a lot of baby girls clothes were found in a 50p basket full of clothes so I had a good scramble around and dug out the best bits.

Happy Hunting!


Monday, 29 August 2016

Making Happy Memories with Willow - Our Special Days at Butlins

Those of you that have been following our journey will know that 2016 has been a tough year. We have been through more than we ever thought was possible and we have memories of times we wish we hadn't had to go through. 

Despite all of this we have kept going and learnt to replace these bad memories with lots more good ones. With the help of an amazing charity called Willow we were able to go on a much needed break away recently to make some extra special memories and bond as a family after a rocky few months. 

Willow are an amazing charity who work with young people aged 16 to 40 who have been unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with serious illnesses. They work to put smiles back on their faces during some of the hardest moments they will ever have too face and we are so grateful for their support. 

When Joe was asked what he would like to do for his special experience he instantly knew it had to be something for the whole family. After all despite Joe being the one who was unwell, his cancer had such an impact on us as a family that we all needed a pick me up. Willow suggested a weekend away in Butlins might be nice. We agreed, a break away was just what we needed. They booked everything for us and took all of the stress of planning a break away from me which was so helpful.

  
Our Holiday

We arrived at Butlins Bognor Regis after a reasonably stress free journey, despite being held up on the dual carriageway by a stray swan which the police had to chaperone to the edge of the road...I know it was totally Hot Fuzz territory! I haven't been to Butlins since I was about 6 and a lot has changed since then. I am planning on writing up a full review post soon of our Butlins experience but for now this post will be about the memories.


Arriving in the Pavillion we were all in awe at how big it was and Ted's little face lit up, there were arcades, sweet shops, rides, stages for big shows, an epic swimming pool and activities galore. 

We went for a lovely lunch when we arrived and the staff were brilliant with Ted, talking to him about Pokemon and giving him a colouring sheet. Joe got a beer and I enjoyed a delicious mocktail. We were beginning to relax already. After lunch we were able to check in to our apartment which was the perfect size for the 3 of us and Ted had the choice from two beds in his twin room. It felt so good to be alone with my boys without any stresses and just concentrate on spending a few days as the McDonald's.


During our break we spent so much time walking around the site and along the beach catching Pokemon (which made the boys very happy!). We went swimming, watched a few shows, drank lots of Costa coffee, spent too much on the arcades and ate fish and chips and donuts on the seafront. My heart felt like it was going to explode and on the final night I was so emotional about returning home, in my hormonal preggers state I sat and cried because I wanted so badly to stay there in that Butlins bubble with my boys.


It was amazing to see the smile on Ted's face having both his parents well and happy again. He slept so peacefully every night, despite being woken by the odd seagull 'screaming' in the morning. That little boy has understood more about the past few months than we gave him credit for and although we always reassured him that Daddy would be ok it has taken months for him to feel like Daddy is going to be staying with him for the long haul. I hope that those 3 nights away and all the joy we shared will be something for him to treasure and hold on to. Something that when he looks back on being a toddler his little brain will remember over the sadness and worry he had to see when Daddy was in and out of hospital.
 

We want to thank everyone at Willow for making this weekend happen. We are so thankful for all of their help and support, they are an amazing charity and I hope so many more families will be able to replace any sad memories with wonderfully happy ones just as we have.


 

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Sometimes It's Tough!

I have decided to share this picture because sometimes pregnancy is hard. It is exhausting having a surge of strange hormones in your body, not knowing how you might react to every day issues and being totally out of control of your own emotions at times. 

Pregnancy Hormones Motherhood

This week I have cried because our holiday was over and tonight I cried over everything and nothing. People don't always understand that sometimes it is possible to cry even without anything actually being wrong with you. 

I am not depressed, I don't have much to be sad about and I have a beautiful family and life. I am pregnant...hormonal and sometimes it isn't easy. I am the woman on the left loving her life and embracing her bump and pregnancy glow but I am also the lady on the right who feels emotional, achey and a little bit scared about everything all at once...and that is ok!


Thursday, 4 August 2016

2nd Trimester Catch Up and VBAC Update



I cannot believe I am writing this but I have just entered my 3rd Trimester!

I have no idea where the past few weeks have gone but now at 27 weeks we are only a few short months away from meeting our baby!

Me...

I am relieved to say the sickness has well and truly worn off. I think it went at about 18 weeks and I have gone back to being able to eat most food again, obviously avoiding the pregnancy no no's. It is such a change from the HG I suffered with in my first pregnancy and it feels great to be able to function without the underlying nausea of all day sickness lingering. 

I have slight sciatica symptoms with sore hips making sleeping a bit difficult at the moment so keeping an eye on that. I also have the pleasure of weird pregnancy dreams coming back, not something I missed from last time round so night times are a bit of a struggle. I also have consistent low blood pressure of 90/60 which is pretty normal for me but drops sometimes making me feel really dizzy and out of breath. I plan to get my iron levels checked when I have my 28 weeks bloods too just in case I need a top up as some days just climbing the stairs is a killer! 

No cravings yet, I didn't have any with Ted either and am making sure I eat a nice balanced diet and treat myself when I feel like it. 

Baby...

Baby girl seems to be developing well with her 20 week scan measurements all perfect, she has short legs like her Mama and a chubby little tummy like her big bro but all that could change. She is a strong baby, a lot more active than Ted ever was and I am enjoying all those kicks, perhaps not in the middle of the night though! 

She has lots of beautiful clothes already and I am planning a baby shower for September with lots of pastel colours and a hot air balloon theme. She also has a name which we love and it is really nice to be able to talk about her with close friends and family. 

Birth plans...

I have had 1 appointment with the VBAC team at our local hospital and am in discussions about possibly giving birth in a birth centre which is attached to the hospital but this will be a big fight on our behalf to persuade them I am not as high risk as I look on paper. 

The VBAC team went through a debrief from Ted's birth and despite me being under the impression that his shoulder got stuck and they 'had' to do the emergency c-section that was far from the story. My notes don't mention his shoulder getting stuck or him being under any stress which was what I always thought happened. It turns out that they were probably being overly cautious as they thought he was going to be bigger than he was and if he was bigger he 'may' have got stuck. So essentially the VBAC midwife told me that had it been her choice she would have let me go on my own a bit longer as I was labouring well. Therefore I may have been able to have a vaginal birth but that wasn't the outcome. 

So where does this leave me now? She said that I am actually a great candidate for a VBAC as I have shown I can labour well but the birth centre where I want to have the baby sees me as a 'high risk' because I have a scar. The next step is to meet with the matron who is in charge of the midwife led unit to see if she will consider accepting me there. 

My main reasons for wanting to have the baby there is that they have 3 birthing pools and I want to try for either a water birth or at least use it for pain relief. It also has a much more homely atmosphere and given our experience this past year and Ted's birth being quite traumatic I want to avoid that clinical hospital environment unless truly necessary.

Other symptoms...

Round ligament pains - lots of stretching as my bump gets bigger
Exhaustion
Backache

Swollen feet after long days
Gone up 2 bra sizes!
Super shiny hair
Strong nails
Glowing skin
Drinking more water

We have a couple of holidays planned before baby arrives and are enjoying spending time as a family of 3. Ted is excited about baby but has no interest in feeling her kicks (he has a short attention span!). 

Hopefully I will be able to update you a few more times before she arrives and I have a Baby Shower Gift Guide coming up soon with lots of lovely products for you to check out! 



Thursday, 28 July 2016

It's a Girl!


I realised that I forgot to share the news over here from a few weeks back. Sorry guys I think life just got a bit busy but here is our gender reveal! We are having a baby girl! 

Ted is over the moon and we are loving the excitement of having one of each. I got stuck into buying lots of pretty girlie things and Joe is looking forward to having a little princess to spoil! 



Friday, 1 July 2016

Disney's The Lion Guard Toys

Rewind back to 1994 and the release of The Lion King in UK cinema's. Where you there? 
 
I was only 6 at the time but I remember watching it for the first time and was in awe at the songs, got chills every time Scar was on the screen and shed a few tears when 'Simba's Daddy' died. My little brother who is now 21 was a huge fan and actually got through 2 copies of the video as he watched it so often! The second movie was a huge hit too with the lovable rogue Kovu melting everyone's hearts including Simba's daughter Kiara.
 
Fast forward to 2016 and there is a new kid on the block...Simba has had a second child and Kiara's younger brother Kion wants in on the action. Alongside a colourful team of animal friends he embraces his destiny and forms The Lion Guard! 
 
The Lion Guard series on Disney Junior follows Kion and his buddies as they take off on brave adventures to defend the Pride Lands. We love the show and it is so heart warming being able to share the magic of The Lion King with my little boy. Ted's favourite character is Beshte the hippo who is The Strongest in the Lion Guard. The other characters consist of Ono, a Stalk and The Keenest of Sight, a fun loving honey badger called Bunga who is The Bravest, Fuli the cheetah who is clearly the fastest and of course Kion who is The Fiercest. Together they make quite a team!
 
 
As with all Disney films and shows we knew there would be some great toys to accompany the release and we have been lucky enough to get a sneek peek of the new toys which go on sale on 2nd July. Ted's little eyes lit up when he opened our delivery and he played with them all afternoon!


We were sent the Kion figure that comes with an interactive toppling wall, the figure is really sturdy and the wall fits together like a puzzle which makes it easy for little hands to put together. RRP £9.99
 
Two packs of minifigures that come in 'blind bags' as my son quite rightly pointed out to me (he watches too many YouTube unboxings!) These are £2.99 each and there is a special limited edition Bunga to hunt down. These packs are so popular with children and if you are clever in the store you can work out the shape of the character to try and avoid duplicates...pro tip!
 
 
Finally was the Collectable Lion Guard set with all of the characters. I think this is by far my favourite set as the figures are really well made, have great attention to detail. Ted loves his Beshte figure and we had a great time running through the characters while he told me who each one was. This set is really good value at £12.99 RRP
 

Here is a little video of Ted's run down of all of the characters. If you want to join in with lots more Lion Guard fun and be in with the chance of winning some prizes hop over to Twitter on 6th July at 1pm and join in with the Twitter Party just follow #LionGuardToys, hopefully we will see you there!
 

Monday, 9 May 2016

First Trimester Update


As I approach 14 weeks pregnant I thought it would be a good time to note down how the first trimester has been for me second time around.

I found out I was pregnant at about 5-6 weeks. We have been TTC for almost a year and with our miscarriage in September I allowed myself and my body a while to get back on track. I am quite confident we conceived around Valentines....I know it's one of those babies!!

I actually took a test the day before my period was due as I am super impatient and had been doing tests constantly for months but this time I didn't feel the pang of disappointment and as that little cross displayed I began to well up. I was filled with excitement and an awful fear of miscarrying again, something that has stayed with me the whole way through my first trimester.

Pushing my worries to one side I showed Joe the test and he was over the moon. Obviously we have had Joe's health concerns hanging over us which meant it was hard for either of us to think about the future. At times I felt like the baby was being pushed to one side but we had so much on our plates we just didn't want to get ahead of ourselves.

I had very few symptoms for the first couple of weeks. Mainly tiredness until the nausea kicked in around 8 weeks. I haven't been nearly as sick as I was with Ted but the nausea, heightened sense of smell and food aversions have been a real pain. I couldn't open the fridge or cook anything for weeks without being sick. At 13 weeks I am coping better with things finding my own ways to deal with things like holding my breath as I quickly open the fridge, eating little and often, making sure my stomach never gets empty and listening to my body when it needs to rest.

Other symptoms I have had...

Sore boobs
Metallic taste in mouth
Cramping
Heavy discharge
Round ligament pains
Exhaustion
Dizziness
Floaters in vision
Low blood pressure

I also had to go to hospital at 11 weeks for a scan as I had brown discharge and cramping which worried me. Luckily baby was fine and the nurse said it was nothing to worry about but always best to get checked out.

We have decided to find out the sex of the baby and will have our 20 week scan just after our wedding in June. I am trying not to think of baby as being either a boy or a girl as I don't want to get my hopes up either way. My family and Joe are all convinced it's a girl as my symptoms are so different but I am well aware that each pregnancy can be so different regardless of the sex.

I have a meeting with the VBAC team as well as my usual consultant as I plan to have a vaginal birth following Ted's c-section. I really wanted a water birth but I am classed as a 'high risk' pregnancy so that may be off the cards.

My belly popped this weekend which was much earlier than it did with Ted. I have quite the bump on me now and I am feeling the strain of having a toddler to take care of whilst battling pregnancy exhaustion...Hoping things pick up in a few weeks!