5 Tips for an Easier Car Journey with a Toddler

Monday, 12 October 2015

Timing – Try, where possible, to plan your car journey at nap time/bedtime.  I know this isn’t always practical especially when toddlers tend to nap in the middle of the day but if you can it really is so much easier to travel whilst the bubba is hitting the sack.  However when this isn’t possible try and get up and go really early in the morning when your little one is at their happiest and by the time you have reached your destination they will have forgotten all about being restrained in their car seat for so long.

Nuna REBL Car Seat* - Speaking of car seats, we are MASSIVE fans of the REBL Car Seat by the lovely people at Nuna.  It’s a brand spanking new model of iSize car seats and this snazzy thing spins a full 360 degrees making it ridiculously easy to get your little’un in and out of the car.  Its suitable from newborn with its cosy insert and has 3 seating positions so you can really adjust it to yours and your baby’s needs.  I have found the Nuna REBL really handy now Harry is a full grown toddler as he obviously is a bit of a chunk and I’m probably the weakest woman in the world!  The seat is a lot more upright than our previous one and its nice and high so H can watch the world whizz past on our adventures out and about.  There is a gorgeous range of colours available, we went for the coffee brown which I think looks really good quality, chic and a little less boring than your usual blacks and greys.

Technology – I don’t know about you but my toddler is obsessed with my iPhone, iPad, laptop etc etc so we always make sure Harry has some sort of tablet attached to the back of my seat so he is kept happy for at least 15 mins with his fave movie or an episode of Curious George.  I know this can be a funny subject for some parents who don’t like their little ones to watch too much TV but there are times when only telly will help, and this is one of them!

Snacks – Food bribery can work wonders but try not to overdo it with the sugary treats as you don’t want to give your toddler any more energy than they already have, with no where to go and burn it off!!  I like to give Harry little pots of Cheerios or dried fruit he can pick at and play with, plus it doesn't matter if any of it goes on the floor as it’s so easy to clean up.  Also, take a non-spill sippy cup rather than free flow to avoid huge wet patches and water fights!

Clothes – I used to make the mistake of dressing Harry in his Sunday best on long journeys to see family etc and this was a fatal error.  Mainly because of the snack bribery, drink spillages, sweaty naps and crayons.  You can guarantee that at least one of those things is going to ruin that pretty dress or immaculately ironed shirt by the time you arrive.  Prep for this by having a travelling outfit, something light, comfy and that you don’t mind getting mucky – if all else fails just stick with a nappy!!

Harry's Toddler Room

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

I have been going on and on at Mr H about us updating Harry's nursery because, although he is still firmly sleeping in his cot (praise the lord), his room feels a bit babyish and not really somewhere he can go to play

I am in love with the whole Scandinavian/monochrome type theme that is going around kiddies bedrooms like chicken pox right now, however I do think a few of these rooms lack some all important colour and a "lived in" feel.  With that in mind I'm going to stick with whites, blacks and greys but with pops of colour in the accessories we choose.  I thought I would let you in on some of the things that are inspiring me for Harry's new big boy bedroom

Farg & Form Duvet Set
One of the main changes for Haribo will be the transition from a sleeping bag to a duvet and pillow.  The last time we tried a pillow in his cot he freaked out and wouldn't go near it, screaming until it was removed!  But I'm hoping this Farg & Form cloud duvet set is fun enough to make him want to snuggle up... wish me luck

Cox & Cox Storage Bags
Our living room is full to the brim with toys, I'm desperate to get some proper storage for some of the littler items so these Cox & Cox Striped Storage Bags are top of the list.  I prefer bags to boxes as I think they are easier for Harry to get to his goodies but they are also very easy on the eye!

Cox & Cox Dolls House Shelves
I am in LOVE with the Cox & Cox Dolls House Shelves and I know Harry will be too!  The first thing he hunts out is my nieces dolls house and Barbies when we visit them and I'm really keen to get him one of his own.  This beautiful one from Cox & Cox isn't just for play but can be used as a display unit as well

Susie Watson Designs Print
We bought a print from Susie Watson Designs back when I was pregnant with Harry and its by far one of my favourite things in his room.  I'm really eager to get another print from Lucy Loveheart's collection as I find them to magical and imaginative, this "Do You Believe in Fairies" print is no exception

Ferm Living Tent

I've been lusting over this Ferm Living tent since i came across it on Pinterest months ago and although I REALLY want it and love it, Harry's room just may not be big enough to house it!  However its still staying put on my list just in case we can squeeze it in somewhere.  I think tents are so fun and this one could be easily stored away when its not in use.  I also like the little pop of yellow!

Kukkia Gumball Machine

This wooden gumball machine from Kukkia isn't really part of the furniture list but it is a really cool and decorative toy that I think would look amazing on one of Harry's shelves..  I might even let him play with it. Maybe.

There's still a lot more we need to scope out before making a start on the paint job.  We are in desperate need of a decent blackout system as any sign of light sends Harry into a wild hysteria and he immediately wants to get up (Mama's I'm sure you can sympathise)  I've got my beady eye on some lush blackout blinds from VELUX as our current cheap roller blind is quite frankly rubbish.
I also need to decide on how to arrange the furniture, its a small cosy room so I'm not sure where we will put everything, I wish someone could come and sort that bit out for me!!!!

Please let me know of any nice bits and pieces you think I would like for Harry's toddler room.. Hopefully we will get it done soon and I can show you all when its finished!

Magic Ears.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

I know, I know, it’s been too long.. but I don’t want to bore you with an update of where on earth I have been and why I have been neglecting my blog so much, so let’s just leave it at that and I’ll say hello!

It feels like Harry was given his magic ears SO long ago now but it’s actually only been 6 months since he was implanted and just 5 months since they were switched on!  I can’t remember life before he had hearing, it’s so strange thinking about it and all the sounds he was missing out on.

If you follow us on Instagram you will know that Harry wears his CI’s all the waking hours of the day,  just like normal ears!  A few people have been quite surprised he wears them to things like soft play as they might fall off, get tangled or broken.  But these things are built to withstand “the toddler” and as long as I'm near him to pop them back on when they fall off there is no issue.  That’s the great thing about his magic ears, so far we haven’t really found any boundaries which is one of the most important things about Harry having them, I don’t want him to be unable to do something and I want him to have every opportunity there in front of him ready for him to grasp.  This includes going swimming.. we do get some bizarre looks sometimes when Harry launches himself head first into the water wearing his equipment as the first thing you think of is that they are electrical and surely can’t be submersed in water!  Yet his CI’s are fully waterproof meaning he can splash away till his heart’s content.

I still get so many comments and questions from passers-by, mainly all very positive and nice, wanting to know what on earth his Magic Ears are and how amazing technology is these days!  I have had one incident where I was ready to be rather rude to a fellow parent (male) at a local soft play who decided to sit and stare at Harry’s head with a look of horror!!  I understand that it isn't the “norm” but jeez do you have to make the staring that obvious!!

Hearing wise we couldn't ask for more from H.  He is surpassing all expectations and his audiologists and teachers are over the moon with his progress.  We are noticing more and more everyday how many low volume/frequency sounds he can hear, his favourite sounds are of course music and he really loves his Daddy’s whistling!  Our hearts are warmed every single day with every new noise he hears or sound he makes, however minor or silly it is.  Hearing the word "Mama" never fails to make me beam with pride

We still use Sign language on a daily basis with Harry and it has been one of the most useful things as he can tell me when he is hungry, thirsty, tired, wants more of something or pointing and signing what something is.  He loves to sign rabbit, duck and sea!  I will most definitely be teaching any future children basic signs as I think it’s a huge help in learning to communicate long before the use of speech.  We aren’t expecting any solid words from Harry just yet, hes obviously going to be a little behind at this stage but he’s really trying to copy sounds and mouths the way we say things.  Mama and Dada is enough for now!

Sometimes I completely forget that Harry is deaf which I can only see as a good thing.  He has taught me so much already about the world and how we shouldn't take things such as our senses for granted.  I think he is so beautiful even with his special magic ears, they are just part of who he is now.  I'm so excited for his future and I'm so proud of where we are as a family today

** If anyone is interested Harry is going to be featured in the NDCS (National Deaf Childrens Society) Winter Edition of their magazine – which we are SO excited about!  There will be a whole spread in the mag on his story from the moment we found out he was deaf to this very day.  I think it will also be available online so I will make sure to link it via my social media!

Fathers Day Gift Guide

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Daddy's Day is fast approaching, a day where your men can be forgiven for laying on the sofa with beer in hand and footy on the telly!

If you haven't sorted a gift for your Pops yet then here are a few of my favourite finds...

Personalised Map Cufflinks, £23.95 from All Things Brighton Beautiful - Lets start with these lovely little cufflinks from All Things Brighton Beautiful, an online boutique jam packed with unique crafty bits and handmade jewellry.  Mr H will be so pleased with his as they are personalised with tiny maps of our two favourite places in the world! 

Personalised Clasp Bracelet, £24 from Hurley Burley - This plaited genuine leather bracelet with personalised clasp is available in black and brown and in 2 sizes.  I love the idea of having initials on a leather bracelet and I think these look a lot more expensive than they are!  ALSO there is 15% off all Fathers Day gifts on their website now using the code DAD15

Shirt and Onesie Set, £21.76 from Etsy - This set is absolutely genius and oh so true!!!!  A father and son shot in these matching tops would be golden!

Horween Personalised Leather Toiletry Bag, £72.55 from Etsy - Horween Leather has been making the best leather for over 100 years and this gorgeous toiletry bag is no exception and would make an amazing luxury gift for the dad in your life! 

Smartphone Dock, £19.79 from Etsy - .. and finally for the gadget man in your life this smartphone dock is just perfection.  I love the idea of putting a little succulent in the docks storage compartment to make it into more of a decorative item, which would take pride of place on any dads desk

What are you getting your dad this Father's Day?

I'm a Working Mum.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

There is no "one-size-fits-all" definition of being a mum, there just isn't.  There is no rule book, guidelines or a walkthrough, you just get through it however is best for you and your family!

I'm a working mum.

I work by choice and nobody's forcing me into it.  Cue the shocked face and gasps from various mums and maybe dads out there but I actually enjoy going to work and having another purpose in life, outside of being Harry's mother.

For some people it is more than enough being mum and that is completely and utterly OK! For me, it just isn't!  Everyone is different.
Don't get me wrong I love that kid... I love that kid so much i want to eat him up like a squishy marshmallow sometimes but to feel complete I need to keep my brain whirring without the constant buzz of Thomas the Tank Engine in the background.  I need to drink a cup of hot tea without having to re-heat it twice three times.  I need to converse with like minded adults about the latest office gossip or last nights episode of Gogglebox

I obviously don't just work for my own selfish reasons.. promise!  I now get a payslip at the end of the month, which I missed so so much being on maternity leave.  I am once again able to contribute to the household and I love not feeling guilty when I want to splash out in baby Zara for Harry or take him out for a day of no expense spared fun!

Of course being a working mum comes with some down sides, the mum guilt being the biggest one of all!  The tears every morning when I leave my son can sometimes be unbearable and missing out on things he is doing is hard, I miss him immensely! n There are days when I look out of the window in my office and wish we could be running around at the park together or chilling on the sofa watching his favourite movie Despicable Me (no matter how many times I've watched it)
I actually only work 3 days out of the 5 though which is a great balance for us and I honestly think its good for both Harry and myself to have that time apart to both learn and grow as our own beings.

For now it works for us.  It might not be forever, things may change one day but right now i'm pretty happy with our setup

Whether you're a working mum, a stay-at-home mum OR a working-stay-at-home mum/dad/auntie/uncle/nan/carer.. I salute you, you're doing a fab job as neither is perfect or easy!

Are you a working or stay at home parent??

Lodge Life | Bluestone National Park Resort

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

I feel completely at home when swinging from trees, sitting round a campfire and basically just breathing in fresh air in big open green spaces! There is something kinda special about the smell of the great outdoors, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
So when I was invited to stay at Bluestone National Park Resort as one of their #BluestoneBloggers I jumped at the opportunity to go!
As you know Harry recently went through major surgery to have Cochlear Implant's fitted so we were in dire need of a break.  We needed to get away from cars, noise and appointments, so to say this trip was a blessing is an understatement

Checking in was a drive-thru system which we thought was fantastic as it meant no lugging a grouchy Harry in and out of the car.  We were lucky though and were the only guests arriving at that time but I could imagine there being quite a hefty queue at busier times of day or at peak season.  We were handed maps, park info and the all important keys and off we headed in search of 23 Augustus Way!  We found our lodge really quickly but I can imagine a lot of people getting lost as its not signposted that well and the verbal directions could easily be forgotten!  Bluestone is actually a car free place which i adored but you are allowed to drive down to your lodge to unpack your car, for us this wasn't a big deal as our lodge was close to the main car park (disabled/blue badge visitors are allowed a vehicle on site though of course)

After a 3 and a half hour car trip to Pembrokeshire where Bluestone National Park is based, we were more than ready to crash out with a pot of tea at our Lodge.  We arrived quite late in the afternoon as check in wasn't until 4.30pm (you can however pay a small fee for an earlier check in) so the plan was to get Harry fed and us all tucked up in bed nice and early ready for action the next day!  Despite the late check in, guests are very welcome from 11am to use all the facilities they have to offer which I think is a great touch and there are plenty of places to chill out, eat and drink if needed

We were so happy with our accommodation it was absolutely perfect and we took along some friends to enjoy the trip with us.  We were allocated the Caldey Connect Lodge which is actually two lodges with an interconnecting door, handy for when our friends wanted some down time or peace and quiet from little-but-loud Harry.  Both lodges were so spacious with plenty of room for Haribo to run and bike around and I also loved that it was all on one floor with no stairs or such dangers (However the lodges that are multi floor all come with baby gates)
The Caldey Connect sleeps up to 8 very comfortably and came with a travel cot which saved us so much space for the car journey!
I couldn't fault the cleanliness of the place in the slightest, it was impeccable and quite clearly very well maintained - Even the highchair provided was super clean!
One thing I was disappointed with was our bathroom, it was a wet room but it was literally a SOAKING wet room!  It basically flooded with every shower we ran so we spent a good while mopping it up with spare towels and trying to stop Harry from going swimming in it!  I have since heard though that you can request a lodge with a bath which is something to consider if you have a littl'un.  
There is no cleaning service or towel replenishment included as part of your stay but you can pay an additional fee if its something you would like to have and there is also no laundry facilities, but again Bluestone do provide a service at an extra cost.
Outside the patio doors of our lodge was a lovely green grassy area with picnic benches, which I am sure we would have made full use of during the summertime and you are welcome to use disposable BBQs if you wish!

In the heart of Bluestone is The Village which actually feels like a proper little Welsh village with cute little terrace cottages (which you can also stay in), where you can buy freshly baked cakes from Miller's Bakery, a pint at The Knights Tafarn or emergency supplies at Newtons Store.  I also came across a milk and butter vending machine which I thought was such a fab idea!  There were three restaurants in the village, The Farmhouse Grill, The Knights Tafern and The Oak Tree.  We only ate at the Tafarn which served traditional pub grub but it was surprisingly delicious!  I opted for hearty fish and chips with mushy peas and it was divine!  There is also a little spa in the village which unfortunately we didn't get time to try, but I have only heard good things and it looked like the perfect place to unwind.
The outdoor playground for the kiddies was SO good, 100% one of the best parks I have seen with all its tunnels, swings and slides to play on, Harry was in his element!

There was so many activities for both adults and children - including the babies and toddlers!  At the Adventure Centre was a whole list of sensory classes and crèche sessions as well as a Circus themed soft play area with giant Lego and cars to ride on!
Also in the adventure centre was a huge indoor playground which included rock climbing, crazy golf, a bouncy castle and a Lego wall as well as big squishy sofas for us oldies to rest our toes.

The Blue Lagoon water park was a massive highlight of the our trip, Harry absolutely loved it!  There were four different slides for the big kids and adults, a lazy river, water shooting out from everywhere and best of all a wave machine which had us in stitches!  Our friends also took a dip in the hot tub located outside and said the views were fantastic!  The changing rooms were again so clean, much cleaner and tidier than our local pools and we had no trouble finding somewhere for us all to change relatively quickly.  The pool water was also SO warm, almost like a bath which is perfect for young bubbas! We got to try out Harry's waterproof Cochlear Implants for the first time there which was so exciting! 

Our favourite place at Bluestone was most definitely Camp Smokey, a rustic woodland diner with a working water mill and camp fires.  I felt so relaxed and "at one with nature" and the chilli dogs were out of this world - yummy!!!  Also on the menu were toasted marshmallows which put a smile on everybody's face, especially Harry's!
The staff there were telling us tales of the "Adult Guest Only" parties they have there, with live music, food and dancing so if you are planning on visiting Bluestone with no children, Camp Smokey sounds like where the party's at! Ahhh I can still smell the camp fire smoke in my hair...

Also down at Camp Smokey was the Steep Ravine where a lot of the activities for big kids and adults took place including Laser Combat, Tree Climbing and Sky Wires.  We couldn't go to Bluestone without experiencing a bit of high rise adrenaline so we booked up for the High Ropes Course, which is very much like a mini Go Ape with added zip lining!  It was SO much fun we didn't stop laughing!  Mr H is a bit of a wus when it comes to heights so he was well out of his comfort zone and would still probably say now he would have preferred to have been sat with a pint of cider watching us swinging from the trees instead!  Our instructor Jack was lovely and lots of fun, trying to challenge us to do each of the obstacles with no hands (no chance) and making sure we were safe whilst up there with 50 foot drops beneath us - eek!  These activities are at a charge which we paid for ourselves, the High Ropes session was £28 pp for 2 hours and we enjoyed every second

Whilst we were zip wiring across 50 foot drops trees Harry attended a 3 hour crèche session which he seemed quite happy with!  I was really anxious about leaving him at a place I didn't know and with people I didn't know but as soon as we got in the room he was straight in there playing with a dolls house and didn't even notice us leaving!  Apparently he spent most of the 3 hours sat on a key workers lap but he was fine.  The crèche session again was at an additional cost of £25 for the 3 hours, which is pricey when you add on the cost of your "adults" activity, however we found it was worth it for a bit of a break and were really glad we got to do the High Ropes!

We also hired bikes for the duration of our stay and somehow I got roped into a 7 mile bike ride!  To say Harry enjoyed it would be a lie.. he pretty much cried the whole time and then eventually wore himself out so much he fell asleep.. ON the bike!!  I also wanted to cry myself.. i'm not cut out for exercise!!! We only went on the one bike ride but it was in such a beautiful setting, the scenery on route as stunning.  There are tons of different cycle and walking routes so make sure you grab a map or ask the staff which ones they recommend

So I think you can tell by my rave review that we had a great time at Bluestone!! I can't wait to go back again it was the perfect break for our little family and for our friends as well!!

My top tips if you're visiting Bluestone

  • Take a lot of warm clothes if you're going out of the warmer months.  Although our lodge had heating it took a long time to warm up and I found myself quite chilly in the evenings!
  • Take more clothes than you think you will need, you're bound to get muddy during the activities or even riding bikes and there are no laundry facilities on site
  • Take a pack of toilet rolls, enough for your stay as you only receive one or 2 per lodge
  • Request a lodge with a bath if you have babies
  • Take extra dishwasher tablets if you plan to use it
  • Be prepared for a lot of "hilly" walking, the site is massive!  Unless you fancy hiring bikes or a golf buggy (the golf buggies actually look like so much fun!!)
  • If you are planning on hiring bikes make sure you take your own helmet.  We assumed these came with the bikes but you either have to bring your own or buy one for a whopping £20!  We went without but got stung when it came to Harry as he had to have one of course!  We also took our own toddler bike seat as they don't provide these either
  • If you plan to eat out I highly recommend the Tafern Pub for dinner.  I had fish and chips and it was delicious!  Service was great and the food came really quickly, perfect when you have an impatient and tired toddler on your hands

Will you be visiting Bluestone this year??  Take a look at my YouTube video for more info on Bluestone!

*Our stay at Bluestone National Park Resort was kindly provided to us for free in exchange for an honest and open review! All of the opinions expressed are entirely my own!  Thank you so much Bluestone for such a great trip!!

#HelpingHarryHear | A World of New Sounds

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

It’s been almost 2 weeks since Harry’s Cochlear Implant’s were activated and we are starting to see the first signs of some real reactions from our little chap.  He has been turning a little to loud noises, laughing at some and his babble has become louder and constant!  There is no doubt about it that he is hearing himself more than anything else and spends ages chatting away to himself and shouting at us!

It’s so nice to see and hear because at first we weren’t really seeing any changes in him at all.  The Auditory Implant Centre assure us that Harry is doing so well and the implants are definitely stimulating his auditory nerve providing some hearing for him but they don’t want to shock or scare him so they are being “turned up” very gradually week by week.  We may not see any strong reactions for a couple of months, his brain needs to learn sound as if he was a newborn baby and eventually he will start to realise what he is hearing and where it is coming from.

As for keeping the actual head gear on, he has done amazingly!!  He very rarely touches them or yanks them off they just fall off a lot of the time as the magnet isn’t very strong.  A few people have asked why they can’t just use a stronger magnet in the headpiece and the reason is because it would rub on his delicate skin and become uncomfortable, eventually tearing his scalp so he wouldn’t be able to wear it.  As he grows and gets older his skin will get tougher and the magnet will be changed – we can’t wait for that as it’s a pain in the arse them falling off all the time!!

People tend to immediately stare at him when we have been out and about but this doesn’t bother me in the slightest.  In fact it makes me super proud and its lovely when strangers actually come over and ask what he has on his head rather than just shying away from it uneducated.  I am more than happy to explain what his magic ears are, how they work and how they are changing his little life already! 

Again, I just want to thank each and every one of you who have taken the time to check up on how Haribo is doing, and for your amazing comments on his first reactions video – I will pop it below in case you missed it!  I hope by now you have more of an understanding as to what a Cochlear Implant is and that you can help us to spread the word about them and deaf awareness as a whole

Mother's Day Gift Guide | with Etsy

Monday, 2 March 2015

Does anyone feel like its only just been Christmas?!! But now Valentine’s and Pancake Day is out of the way it’s time to focus on a more important holiday and that is MOTHERS DAY!  Yes.  A whole day dedicated to us mums/slaves to our babies!  One of my favourite placea to buy people gifts is Etsy, I know I will always find something unique, handmade and of amazing quality!  Let’s see some gift ideas for every type of mother..

Beautysets - Etsy Gift Guide Glam

What are you getting your mum this Mother's Day?!

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