Sparkles & Stretchmarks: A UK Parenting & Pregnancy Blog

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Me & Mine in June

And just like that...half the year was gone!

How on earth did it get to be the end of June already?!

I'm excited for Summer, but at the same time I can't help but feel apprehensive as I feel like the end of this Summer will bring a lot of change to our family dynamic as come September - Tyne will be starting pre-school and we'll be going from being together every day (As Jon & I both work from home) to Tyne suddenly being out of the house 3 days a week.

It gives me a lump in my throat to think about, but anyway...*deep breath*...we have the summer to enjoy first and I have so many fun things planned for us to do!

We're so lucky that we live in a tourist hotspot like Devon as there is always so much going on over the Summer, so there's plenty to keep us entertained...the downside though is that everywhere starts to get very busy around now, and we found this week while trying to take our Me & Mine photos that its already a struggle to get parked anywhere at all as there are just SO many people everywhere you try to go.

The photos ended up being taken on an evening trip to the seafront park that Tyne is loving at the moment - it's a tiny little park, no swings or anything but just a wooden pirate ship with rigging to climb, a crows nest and binoculars, and a slide but he LOVES it and insists on taking his pirate hat and sword whenever we go!

The park is right on Preston seafront, and along the front are rows and rows of lovely beach huts - so we decided to take our photos in front of them.

I went prepared with my tripod, but a lovely family came along and offered to help us try and get the children all looking - so they all stood behind my camera pulling faces and doing silly things to try and get their attention! Although the presence of strangers meant we got the famous "Grumpy face" from did work a treat where Tyne and Sailor were concerned so that was a bonus, thank you nice family who helped us!

This Month, Daddy Is Loving:

*The news that two of his favourite musicians - Joe Henry and Billy Bragg - are doing a tour together (and dropping hints for tickets for his birthday!)

*Getting excited about Independence Day 2 coming out at the cinema

*Getting to celebrate Fathers Day as a Daddy of 3

Mummy Is Loving:

*Bright warm evenings at the park before bedtime

*The return of Big Brother and Orange Is The New Black giving her plenty to binge watch when the kids go to sleep!

*Watching favourite old movies on the Disney Life app (Father Of The Bride and 3 Men & A Little Lady?! Yes Please!)

*Getting time to read again courtesy of books like "Brought Up Proper" by her favourite comedian Jason Manford and "Down The Rabbit Hole" by former Playboy girlfriend Holly Madison - got to love a bit of trashy reading!!!

Tyne Is Loving:

*Playing with his new Playmobil police station

*Visits to the Pirate park

*His first time "fishing" in the sea with Gagand

Noah Is Loving:

*SCREAMING - he's found his voice and loves to scream as loud as he can!

*Playing with any toy that his brother was trying to play with

*Taking his first steps!

Sailor Is Loving:

*Cooing and gurgling at everybody

*Tummy tickles

*Bath time

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The Me and Mine Project

Monday, 27 June 2016

Perfect Calming Books For Bedtime

My 3 year old son LOVES story time and as a result of this we have amassed quite the collection of books - as with anything, some are always more popular with him than others and he has a collection of firm favourites which we read again and again - I recently shared his current favourite books but personally I find that certain books suit certain times of the day better.

A lot of the books my little one loves are quite exciting ones or ones that require a bit of interaction, and these usually get him quite hyped up - which is lovely to see, but perhaps not the best books for bed time!

However we have settled on a firm few favourite bedtime stories which, due to their rhythm and flow are absolutely perfect for calming him down and getting him in a nice, settled mood ready for a good nights sleep.

Today I'm sharing those perfect bedtime books with you!

Encouraging Kids To Get Active & #EnjoyMoreWater

Now that Summer is here, we're spending a lot more time outdoors as a family which - in turn - means that the children are spending their days being a lot more active than usual.
Alongside all of the usual summer fun activities such as days spent at the park, going on "adventures" (or "walks" as adults tend to refer to them!), visits to the beach and games of football, rounders and other sports - I've been trying to think of new ways to encourage my 3 year old to enjoy spending time outdoors.
Like a lot of 3 year olds, he's very attached to his toys and over the past month or so since the weather has improved - I've noticed that it can be a bit of a challenge to get him away from them in favour of time spent outside - quite often he'll insist that he doesn't want to go anywhere because he'd rather be inside playing with his favourite toys.
And while this is fine some days, I do want to make sure that we make the most of the good weather while we have it so trying to show Tyne how much fun can be had outside has been top of my agenda.
We tend to visit the park often come rain or shine anyway, and as we live so close to the beach it's not really anything new to him - likewise we spend a lot of time having kick arounds with the football so again, this doesn't really pique his interest that much anymore.
But last week while visiting my parents in Liverpool, his Grandma asked Tyne if he'd like to help her with some gardening - and he jumped at the chance!

Together they walked around to the village florist, chose some flowers and then Tyne got stuck right into spending the afternoon planting them.
He loved digging the holes in the soil ready for them, chatting about the various bugs and worms he was finding, and choosing which flowers to plant in which spot.
It was lovely to see him having such a wonderful time enjoying time spent outdoors in a way that he hadn't experienced before, and it provided so many great opportunities for discussions about nature too.
It also gave us another great opportunity - lately we've been struggling to get Tyne to drink water as he's become a little fussy with it stating that it's "Boring" - but whilst he was watering the flowers he'd just planted, I took he opportunity to have a chat with him about why he was watering the flowers and how very important water was to keep the flowers healthy - and how us humans need to have water to keep us healthy too.

He seemed to really grasp on to this and chatted to me about how "Having a drink of water from his beaker is just like how the flowers have a drink of water from the watering can".
To combat the problem we're facing with him finding the taste of water boring, we added some Robinsons Squash'd - Robinsons juices are the perfect way to encourage fussy little ones to drink more water as they taste fantastic and come in a great range of flavours including new Orange & Peach and Lemon & Pink Grapefruit, and us parents needn't worry as they contain no added sugar, and are from artificial colours and preservatives!

Squash'd are a very concentrated squash which comes in a teeny weeny little bottle which is perfect for popping into handbags, hand luggage while travelling or picnic baskets!
I always have one with me and I am pleased to report that it's been a HUGE help in massively increasing Tyne's water intake.

How do you encourage your little ones to get active outdoors in the summer?
*This post is an entry for BritMums #EnjoyMoreWater Challenge, sponsored by Robinsons

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Investing In High Quality Household Items

For many of us, if asked how we'd spend a sudden windfall on household items our minds would immediately go to electronic luxiries such as flatscreen TV's, camera's, Pc's and laptops...
But what about the essential and often overlooked household items that really contribute the most to our families wellbeing?
When it comes to investing in quality household items, which are really the most important ones to consider?
I suppose the answers would change depending on who you ask, but here are my own choices.
1) Pots, Pans and Flatwear
Ok so it seems obvious, but these basic everyday kitchen ware items really are worth appreciating. Be it for how much we use them, or how we use them, it's worth taking care of them and using them correctly - and investing in high quaity sets can be very worthwhile.
A good mixed of pots, pans and flatwear will ensure you you have the tools to cook almost any dish imagineable. From light Summer meals, to hearty Winter dishes and everything inbetween. They're invaluable whether you use them when you have a family of hungry mouths to feed and cater for, or are planning a special meal for friends of family.
Of course there are many budget ranges available which do a perfectly good job but when you consider how much these items are used every day it really can be worth while investing in quality products which will last you a while.
2 Beds and Mattresses 
Now we all know the value of a goods nights sleep and just how essential it is for us all. Just as essential in this equation however is the bed we sleep in and the mattress we lie on. It's estimated that the average human spends a third of their life sleeping and yet it's something many of us do not take seriously enough.
Young or old, sleep is a key element for good physical and mental health. Very few adults actually get as much sleep as they should and we all know the impact not having a good nights sleep can have on us the following day. Not only can it make us grumpy, tired and forgetful, studies show that lack of sleep can have a very detrimental effect on our physical well being - even reducing your life expectancy!
To guarantee yourself the best quality sleep possible, comfort is of course key and so investing in a great bed and mattress can be very worthwhile - there are a huge amount of sizes, shapes, and designs to choose from on the market, and choosing the right ones for you, your sleeping requirements and your bedroom is very important...but sometimes overwhelming. The availability of beds and mattresses from companies such as BedSOS make finding the right one a much easier affair.
3 Baths and Showers 
 It has been said that water was the first medicine. Whether this is true or not, the ability to wash and feel clean is not only good for our physical health, it's also good for our mental health and for the soul.
There's nothing like coming in after a lousy day and having a nice soak in the tub, or an invigorating cleansing shower. It's almost a ritual act of cleansing, washing away ones troubles, as much as it is performed to look and feel clean. It's also a good habit to get kids in to and can really help them to wind down - we've all experienced an overtired and whiny child who suddenly perks up when you put them in the bath, I'm sure!
Investing in a qood quality power shower or a bath tub large enough for a good, comfortable soak - or perhaps even indulging in some extravagent features such as bubble jets or led lighting for extra relaxation points - could give the entire family a real boost!
Which household items would you consider most important to invest in?
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Friday, 24 June 2016


I saw a video pop up on my Facebook timeline the other day it - it showed a series of kids playing in parks whilst their parents stood nearby looking at their phones. Scene after scene of darling child calling out to their parent to watch them, as that parent seemingly ignored their calls and focused on the screen in front of them.

It was just one of many similar videos and articles I've seen in recent months suggesting that us modern-day mummies are spending too much time looking at our screens and not enough time watching our kids.

And haven't we all had those accusations made about us before?! I know I have!!

The assumption that being "connected" via our phones, tablets etc is leading to us being disconnected from our kids and partners is one that a lot of people seem to make...but I tend to disagree.

I'll admit that the amount of time I spend on my phone has worried me in the past, and it's something I've tried to curb - it can be difficult these days to know when to disconnect and getting the balance right is certainly something I've struggled with, so I can fully appreciate that it can be a problem...but should we always assume that any time a parent is using their phone when we think they SHOULD be looking at their child, we are automatically correct?

When I saw that video, it didn't encourage me to get off my phone and go give my children my absolute undivided actually made me a little angry.


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