Wednesday, 16 August 2017

DEAR FREYA

Dear Freya, 

I'm sorry it's been so long since I've written to you on here, but you really have been keeping your daddy and I on our toes! 

You are 20 months old now and a real character. I feel like I breezed through the first year of your life, and I'd even go as far to say I thrived with a newborn, but having a toddler is a completely different ball game. Don't get me wrong, I love watching you grow up and learn new things but MAN I wish you were going at a slower speed. You just don't stop. Talking, walking, running, singing, dancing, you name it - you do it. All at once. But I love it. You are so clever it shocks me. You are having full blown conversations with adults, and although it can still be difficult to decipher what words you're trying to use, once we've worked it out, what you're saying makes perfect sense.

You still love your food, although you are becoming a tad more fussy the older you get. At the moment you've taken a particular dislike to all kinds of pasta, which is fine. We still offer it up to you at meal times and then it's your decision whether you eat it or not - we don't force you to eat anything. The only thing we do do is change your pudding if you don't try your meal. If you try your food and decide you don't like it or enjoy it and eat everything on your plate, you will have a yoghurt or an ice lolly along with a piece of fruit for pudding. But if you refuse to even try anything on your plate, and everything gets left, you are only given a piece of fruit and no sweet treat. This is working well for us at the moment but I do hope you drop the pickiness sooner rather than later! 

Your sleep is much better now! You regularly go 7-7 and I get to enjoy a blissful 8 hour sleep, but we still can't rely on your doing this every night! You do still wake up every now and again at stupid hours of the morning and it's absolutely horrendous when you do, but thankfully these are few and far between right now. We are still cosleeping for now, although we're hoping to have finished before your second birthday. We did try to stop when you were around 18 months old and you just weren't ready for it. We stuck to our guns for 8 nights and you only slept all night in your own bed for 1 of those. Yes, we probably could have been a bit stricter with it had we wanted to, but neither of us could bare seeing you so upset, and we both very quickly decided that if you weren't ready, you simply weren't ready. At the moment, I share a bed with you from Sunday - Thursday, and Daddy shares with you on Friday and Saturday. You definitely prefer sleeping with your mummy, but I'm hopeful that you'll warm to your Daddy soon! 

You have started going to nursery one day a week as well! I never thought I'd be sending you to nursery while I could still be at home looking after you, but you needed some outside stimulation and a chance to socialise with other children your age. And I'll be honest, I needed some me time back in my life. You're taking your time with settling in and still cry when we drop you off and pick you up, but the ladies who look after you ensure me you have a great time once I've left so I'm sure you're putting on the dramatics just for my benefit! 

I really am enjoying this stage of your development, Freya. As much hard work as it is, and boy is it hard work, I'm loving it. You are quite possibly the funniest person I've ever met, and you have me belly laughing numerous times a day. You love having your nails painted and you love reading books. You love sitting and having a 'cuggle', running and splashing in muddy puddles (no clues needed for who your favourite cartoon character is!) and you just love being you. 

I hope I'm doing right by you, baby girl. Parenting a toddler is so different to parenting a newborn. Now I have to worry about things like teaching you right from wrong, manners and being polite, teaching you how to act appropriately in public places and I'll be honest, it's all a bit of a minefield. But we're doing it, me and your dad, all for you. 

Lots of Love, 

Mummy x

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

A VISIT TO MANCHESTER WINTER WONDERLAND

A couple of days ago we were invited to the launch night of Manchester Winter Wonderland and oh my goodness, it was absolutely amazing. I was really struggling to get into the festive spirit this year but Winter Wonderland has completely changed that for me. I tried my best to take some photos while we were there but 1) Freya was so tired, bless her, and was therefore being just a teeny tiny bit demanding and 2) I was just taking in my surroundings and living in the moment. Everything was so Christmassy and exciting. It genuinely made me feel like a little girl who was all excited for santa to visit again. 

 

If you haven't heard of Manchester Winter Wonderland before, it is the UK's largest indoor Christmas Theme Park and is based at Event City. There is free parking with hundreds of spaces, but please be aware that Event City is right next door to the Trafford Centre so expect the roads surrounding to be busy, especially on the weekends, and be sure to leave your home with plenty of time to spare. Our usual drive to the Trafford Centre is only 30 minutes but because of problems on the motorway and congestion as we approached Event City, it actually took us 50 minutes to get to our destination. And that was on a Monday evening! 

 

With over 50 rides and attractions all under one roof, there was plenty for us to be getting on with at our visit. I actually snapped this photo to use as a guide whilst we were walking around so we didn't miss anything exciting, haha! We didn't really pay much attention to the rides as Freya is far too small for the large majority of them but the noise and lights coming from them really added to the festive feel, even for people like us who went nowhere them. 

 

We stayed for a little over two hours and our first stop was for a big dirty burger. I love coming to attractions like this because the food, albeit pricey, is always so, so good. Not the best if you're watching your weight (does anyone really do that in December?) but amazing all the same. The usual choices of burgers, hotdogs and chips were available but there wasn't a great deal of choice for children of Freya's age. I wish I'd taken her some snacks because she ended up with a hotdog which obviously isn't the best choice for a one year old, but oh well. It is Christmas! 

 

Once we all had sufficiently filled tummies, we attempted to sit down and watch the Basil Brush show. I say attempted because Freya did not make this easy. I used to love watching Basil Brush growing up so I was really looking forward to sitting back and reminiscing while he was on stage, unfortunately Freya wasn't into the whole idea of sitting on someone's lap and staying still, so we gave up and let her have a crawl around away from the main stage just a couple of minutes after he appeared. She was quite enamoured with him to begin with though so I did manage to get this super cute photo of her walking towards him. 

 
   

Next up was a visit to see Father Christmas! This was Freya's first visit to Santa and she absolutely loved him. There was a bit of a wait when we joined the queue and it took us about 15 minutes to get to the main man, but we did get to wander through Mr and Mrs Clause's house and see just how beautiful it is. I'm actually quite jealous of the bedroom...how gorgeous is that bed!! Freya wasn't too keen on Mrs Clause and was much more interested in trying to throw her newspaper across the kitchen or crying her eyes out because she was so tired. Because of her pretty rubbish mood, after a quick photo stop we very swiftly moved on and left Mrs Clause with the nice children. 

 

Lastly, on our way out of the venue, we snuck into the Christmas Circus to watch the acts before we made our way home. I'll be honest here, I wasn't hugely impressed with the standard of the acts but I think it was mostly because I'm an adult because the children in room absolutely loved it, and Freya kept being drawn in too so it wasn't all that bad! 

On our way out of Winter Wonderland we spotted a little fenced in area that we wished we'd seen on our way in. A baby chill out area! It was a genius idea. A little patch of land for them to call their own, filled with beanbags and toys and ride on cars and soft, fluffy rugs. We let Freya have a little five minute play but she was far too tired by this point (around 9.20pm) to fully enjoy it so we left pretty sharpish to avoid a meltdown. 
 

As a family we had such a lovely night at the launch of Manchester Winter Wonderland and I'm sure we'll be making this a Christmas tradition and taking Freya for years to come, but I do think Freya was perhaps a little too young to fully enjoy it this year. If she was another 6 or so months older I think she'd have been in her absolute element with the sounds and the lights, but if your children are around 2-3+ (the most suitable age for this in my opinion) they'll have an absolute whale of a time. 

We'd like to say a big thank you to Manchester Winter Wonderland for our invitation to their launch night and for really marking the start of our festive period. Winter Wonderland will be at Event City, Manchester until the 1st January 2017 and tickets cost £18.50 (plus £1.50 booking fee) and under 3's go free.

I hope you're able to make the visit and experience some of the magic that Manchester Winter Wonderland has to offer! 

Thanks for reading, 

Grace x

Sunday, 11 December 2016

WHAT'S IN MY TODDLER CHANGING BAG?

Once Freya had turned one we decided to take the jump and switch from a big, traditional changing bag to a much smaller toddler backpack, and I must say it's been a very welcomed change! It was such a pain carrying our huge changing bag around, especially since it was too big to fit in the basket of Freya's stroller (Cosatto Supa Go in Happy Camper) so it was always bashing about on the handles and we didn't even use the majority of things in it! 
 
Since this was quite a big change for us I thought I'd share the items we now take out and about with us whenever we leave the house. I try to always make sure the backpack is ready to go so there's no faffing at the last minute, but the two things I do pop into the bag every day are a free flowing beaker of water and a snack for Freya. 

I'll start with the little pocket on the front of the bag, shall I? This pocket has seemingly become my medicine compartment. I always carry a box of calpol, a tube of bonjela and a little tub of snufflebabe (best invention ever) just in case we need it while we're away from home. There is also a bottle of antibiotics in there at the moment as Freya is recovering from a nasty chest infection but the label on the bottle shared details of our address and GP surgery etc so I haven't photographed it for obvious reasons.
 

Now on to the main compartment. Firstly, and arguably most importantly, is bum-changing paraphernalia. We are huge fans of the Tesco Loves Baby range, as you can probably tell from the photo, and we buy our nappies, wipes and nappy cream from it. I always try and use fragrance free on Freya's little tush just in case she has a reaction to anything. I also love these nappy bags from Wilko purely because of the nifty little container they come in. I'd never seen them like this before! No more rummaging around looking for loose nappy bags for me! 
 

Now this thing is a bit of a weird one. Freya doesn't usually wear any shoes unless we're going to the park or some other outdoor activity where it's likely she'll want to get out and walk, but I've taken to keeping her very special Christmas Day shoes in her bag just so they're safe and always in one place. Obviously once Christmas is over she'll be able to wear these again but I'm trying to keep them special until then, and obviously (again) she has another pair of shoes to wear while these ones are in hiding. Speaking of shoes, I would really recommend finding a Clarks Outlet store if you like your babies wearing proper fitted shoes - we recently bought Freya two pairs of soft soled shoes, including her Christmas Day ones, for £15.99!!!!!
 

Next up is a spare outfit for Freya. Obviously she isn't anywhere near being potty trained yet so we still have to take a spare outfit in case of nappy leakage or even worse, the dreaded poonami. I tend to pack her spare outfit right at the bottom of her backpack and leave it there unless she needs it when we're out. I also try to replace it on the same day if it does get used, just to make sure we don't get caught short one day because I've forgotten to pack another outfit!
 

Lastly we have Freya's Red Book. I take this absolutely everywhere with us just in case we ever need it if *God forbid* something ever happens to her. The changing bag seems the most sensible place to keep it as we're never without it which means we're never without the red book. 
 

And that's everything! I can't believe how much I've managed to squeeze into that tiny bag, although it is definitely fit to burst now! 

When did you make the swap to a smaller changing bag? Or are you sticking with an old faithful that you've used since your baby was a newborn? 

Thanks for reading, 

Grace x

Thursday, 8 December 2016

BABY'S 1ST BIRTHDAY HAUL

So it's official. I have a one year old!!! 

 
Freya turned one a few days ago now and I thought I'd share the gifts her daddy and I bought her since she's been enjoying them so much. We struggled a bit with what to buy a one year old, and if truth be told, we ignored the age recommendation on a few things, but what harm can she really do with a plastic tea set?! Freya loves every single thing mentioned in this post and she's a pretty typical one year old, so I hope this gives some of you some inspiration if you have a first birthday coming up any time soon!

 
Freya loves bouncing on absolutely anything (regardless of whether it's actually bouncy or not) so a trampoline was an absolute must for us. This one was quite tricky to build but it was a bargain at £29.99 and is on offer at Argos at the moment for £24.99! 

 
Now I know it's probably a bit ambitious to expect Freya to be able to actually build this train, but she loves bashing blocks together and is always trying to figure out how to take them apart and put them back together again, so we thought we'd just add to her collection with this purchase.

 


Freya has a hand-me-down play basket at her Nanna's house from her big cousin and she loves taking the items out and then tidying them away again so we decided to buy her one of her very own to keep at home. 
 


 
Along the same lines as the bricks, Freya loves putting smaller things inside of bigger things so stacking cups were another definite birthday present for our baby girl.


 
 The Bruin Baby's First Band is a 2-in-1 instrument which is part piano and part xylophone (and makes a LOT of noise). Now for some reason I can't find the actual item ANYWHERE on the internet, which is a real pain. BUT I have found something very similar from the same brand - The Bruin 3 in 1 Musical set for £19.99, although the Baby's First Band only cost us around £12.00 . 
 
 
 
Our baby girl has a bit of a weird relationship with Peppa. She really, really loves the books, and the soft toys and the puzzles. She can recognise Peppa on cards and on yoghurt pots but she absolutely HATES the programme. It just really doesn't grab her attention in the slightest, but I couldn't not buy her something Peppa related knowing how much she loves that annoying little pig.
 

And that's your lot, I'm afraid! We didn't want to go OTT for Freya's birthday, mainly because we don't want her to grow up expecting a mountain of presents when we can't predict what our future financial situation will be, and secondly because she didn't have the slightest clue that it was her birthday so why spend hundreds on a day she won't even remember?! 

Can you remember what you bought your baby for their first birthday? Or do you have any ideas for gifts if their birthday is coming up? I'd love to know!

Thanks for reading, 

Grace x

Monday, 5 December 2016

FREYA-LOUISE'S CAKE SMASH

I know cake smashes aren't everyone's cup of tea but when I was pregnant, Lewis and I decided that we wanted to take Freya for a newborn shoot, a six month shoot and a first birthday shoot. So that's exactly what we did, and last weekend was the final photo shoot in the trilogy of Freya's first year. The Cake Smash & Splash. 

We had Freya's cake smash & splash done with a lovely lady called Lauren, who I know through the Baby Centre Birth Clubs and Instagram. It was so surreal meeting Lauren in real life, especially since we had watched each other's baby's grow up over the last year via a screen, but she put all three of us at such ease and was so welcoming. I won't ramble on for too much longer about the shoot. I'll just show you a few of my favourite shots below, but before I do, Lauren has a Facebook page and an Instagram page which you should definitely check out if you're looking for newborn/cake smash/child photo shoots and you're in the Manchester area. 

So here we go, my beautiful baby girl enjoying her cake smash and splash! 

 
 
 
   

 
           

Bloody cute aren't they?!

Did you have a cake smash photo shoot for your little one? Or was it not a thing at the time? I'd love to know!

Thanks for reading,

Grace x

Thursday, 1 December 2016

THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

Okay. Maybe calling this post 'The Final Countdown' is a bit dramatic. But in reality, that's truly how I'm feeling. Freya-Louise turns one in just two days and I'm not sure I'm ready for that. In fact I know I'm not ready for that. In two days my teeny tiny (at 8lb 14oz she really wasn't all that teeny tiny) baby girl becomes a toddler. I mean, she is walking so I suppose she's already a toddler but her birthday seems a bit more of an official start date for toddlerhood. 
 
I have loved the past year more than I could ever explain. Don't get me wrong, I feel like I've seen enough poo to last me a life time and I still haven't learnt how to get those horrible yellow stains out of vests (I am 100% guilty of throwing stained items of clothing away and just replacing them rather than trying to get them back to their former glory days). And there have been times when Freya has really, really tested my patience. Like right now, for instance, when I'm having to stop writing every couple of minutes to stop her climbing onto the TV stand and shaking her little booty to whichever annoying CBeebies jingle is playing at the time. (Note to self; buy a new, taller TV stand ASAP).
 
But there has also been absolutely amazing times. More amazing than I ever imagined they would be. I knew I would love Freya more than I knew possible, but I had completely underestimated how much pride I would feel when I looked at her. From watching her smile for the first time, to seeing her learn how to sit and crawl, and most recently helping her take her first steps and now looking on in awe as she toddles around like she's been doing so her whole life. I just feel so, so proud.
 
 Im proud of Lewis and I for keeping her alive for starters. But also proud that, so far, we seem to be raising a wonderful little girl. A little girl who is kind, and loving and affectionate but also incredibly independent and quite possibly as headstrong as they come. I hope she keeps those qualities as she grows up, but I also hope she has the ability to work on them and rather than just becoming the bossy girl in the playground at primary school, I hope she becomes the boss lady of the office in twenty years time. 
 
Now as much as I love my life and I love being a mum and a not-wife-housewife, I would hate to see her settle down as young as I have. I'm happy with my choices. I love the fact I am able to stay at home and raise my baby, and any other babies we may have in the future, and I am definitely not playing down how hard it is to be a stay at home mum. But part of me wants more for my daughter. I want her to travel, and explore and love harder than she ever knew she could. I want her to experience heartbreak and know it will only make her stronger. I want her to be educated and aware of how much she can do to help less fortunate people than herself. I want her to have more than I do. 
 
This last year has flown by so quickly. Everybody warned me it would, but I don't think you realise just how fast they grow up until you have your own. 
 
I feel so lucky to be a mother, especially to a little girl as lovely as Freya, and I hope the next year is just as special as this one has been. 
 
Happy Early Birthday, sweet girl.

Thanks for reading, 

Grace x