Wednesday, 3 May 2017

HELLO, AGAIN

Hello everyone.

Wow, it's been a long time, hasn't it?
I'm not really sure what happened if I'm totally honest. I was struggling a lot with my identity, which I wasn't expecting with Freya having just turned one at the time. I was under the impression that it was only new mums who struggled with their identity, and that I had been lucky enough to avoid feeling that way but I was most definitely wrong. 

I was a bit bored of just being 'Freya's mum'. Don't get me wrong, I love being a mum and I wouldn't be without Freya for anything, but I missed being me. I think I spent the first year of her life putting absolutely everything I had into being a good parent, that by the time her first birthday rolled around I was exhausted and needed to do something for myself. Funny thing is, that's the complete opposite of what I actually did. I stopped doing everything I enjoyed doing (hence the longboard absence on here) and just wallowed in self pity for a couple of months, which I do NOT recommend anyone to do. It's probably taken me much longer to pull myself out of this ruck because of how self destructive I was being. But alas, I am out of that deep dark hole and ready to be Grace again! 

I am now mum to a fully fledged toddler (more on that in another post coming soon) and although it's still as difficult as ever, it's also so much bloody fun now! Freya is the most amazing little girl and I'm so enjoying watching her grow up and explore the world around her. She continues to amaze me every day and I can't wait to tell you all everything she has learnt since the last time we spoke about her. 

I'm hoping to make writing a regular thing for myself again. It's something I really love to do and I find it so therapeutic and cathartic. I'm not going to set myself a schedule or anything like that just yet but I will let you all know on my instagram when a new post goes live. 

I hope you'll wait for me while I find my footing with blogging again. I've missed it. I've missed you all. 

I hope to see you soon. Thanks for reading, 

Grace x

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

I DON'T FEEL LIKE ME

When I was pregnant with Freya, people made a conscious effort to remind me that although being a mother is a wonderful thing, I shouldn't let it take over and I shouldn't forget who I am/was before I became a parent. At the time I just brushed comments like that off without even really listening to them. All I'd ever wanted was to be a mum and I could think of nothing better than putting my all into it and letting it completely take over who I am. And for a while I did just that. Being Freya's mum 100% consumed me, and I ruddy loved it. Every second of my day was spent with her and every second I was only ever away from her if she was asleep in her own room. And I almost feel embarrassed to admit that I was very overprotective of her. I still am to some degree. I just know that no one can do as good of a job at looking after my own baby girl than myself and her daddy. I know there is no one else she would prefer to be with and I know she's a definite home bird at heart, so why would I dump her with other people while I went out gallivanting? 

Now that's honestly how I used to feel and think. I just didn't understand why or how mother's could want to be away from their babies. Awful, isn't it? I don't think it helped that when Freya was barely a month old, her dad was admitted into hospital and I had no choice but to leave her with family members so I could visit him as babies weren't allowed on the ward for risk of infection. I found that really tough. I wasn't ready for it, and I think that made me turn all Mama Bear and want to have my cub with me at all times. But it wasn't, and still isn't, sustainable. 

I'm getting better, I think. I am starting to leave her with people we trust more often, but I do I still struggle with the idea of people doing things differently to the way Freya and I already do them when I leave her with someone. What if she can't settle because someone isn't doing the right thing? Or what if she gets herself all worked up and upset because someone doesn't understand what she's trying to convey? I can't bear the thought of her being inconsolable yet knowing I could make it better for her if I was there with her. We've actually started teaching her and ourselves some Makaton signs due to my panic over this, and we've also relayed some of the basics to our family members so that they definitely understand what she is asking for and when. 

I know some of you will be asking yourselves why I'm putting myself through the anxiety of leaving her with other people if I'm not ready or don't want to, and that's just the thing. I do want to. So, so much, because I feel a bit like I've lost myself. I've let being Freya's mum take over my life for a bit too long and now I don't really know who Grace is anymore. I can rattle off a list of Freya's favourite foods or TV programmes, and I could tell you her various clothes sizes in at least 20 different shops but could I tell you something I enjoy doing in my spare time? No. Could I tell you the last time I spent an hour just playing with makeup like I used to love doing or the last time I actually treated myself to something more than one of those creamy coolers from Costa? No, I couldn't.

 If I'm really honest, I can't identify with Grace anymore. I don't feel like that's me. I'm just Freya's mum now. And I don't want to feel like this. I'm still a young, 20 year old woman with so much life to live. And don't get me wrong, of course I want to do all those exciting things that life has to offer with my daughter. She is the most wonderful thing that's ever happened to me and I wouldn't change her for the world. But sometimes, just sometimes, I wish I could spend a whole day on my own. And I know I'd probably just waste all day on the sofa watching Grey's Anatomy (why has it taken so long for me to discover this programme by the way??) but at least I'd be doing something for me. And not hoping that Daddy will make it home in time for the next shitty nappy so I can get a turn off. Am I a bad mum for admitting I feel like this? I hope not. I'd hate to do wrong by my baby girl.

Thanks for reading,

Grace x

Monday, 23 January 2017

I'M STRUGGLING

Hi everyone,

How are you all? 

I think you can probably tell things aren't great over here. My blog has be seriously neglected over the past couple of months and for that I can only apologise. 

My mental health always takes a hit over the festive period and this year it has been quite intense, and definitely much worse than it has been in previous years. 

I am missing writing a lot, though I'm sure you can understand why I've had to take this break. 

I am planning a 'comeback', shall we call it, and I'm hoping to be back with a bang very shortly. 

I hope you will all be here waiting for me. 

Lots of love, 

Grace 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