Sparkles & Stretchmarks: A UK Parenting & Pregnancy Blog

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Me & Mine in May


After last month's utter fail of a Me & Mine month, I was DETERMINED not to be short changed in the family photo stakes this month .

So knowing that May was shaping up to be a very busy month with us going away on our cruise holiday halfway through it (and Sailor not going along with us due to not being old enough to cruise, so knowing we wouldn't be getting any complete family shots during the holiday!) - I made it my mission to take the camera along with us on the first few outings we had during the month.

One Saturday afternoon on a nice sunny day, we headed to a park in the next town over from us and so I made the effort to lug the camera and tripod along with us - not the easiest thing to do as getting two babies, a toddler who is constantly trying to run away, and a overflowing changing bag safely anywhere isn't easy but after balancing the tripod in the pram base we just about managed it.

Luckily the park was quiet so we were able to dump the pram and our stuff, and just set the tripod up wherever while we got some shots!

Because there were a few different options of places in the park to get the photo, we've actually ended up with the opposite problem to last month and instead of having nothing but a couple of very blurry photos to choose from - we actually have too many photos that I really like so it's hard to narrow down which to use!

I always set the camera up to snap 10 images at once, in the hope that one of the batch will capture everybody looking somewhere in it's general direction - and this time I was fortunate in that I ended up with lots of keepers!

One day I hope to get my act together in this whole "Mum of 3" thing enough to manage to get some lovely photos of all of us in nice co-ordinated outfits, looking polished and preened but to be honest that's not likely to happen any time soon! Just getting out of the house and to our destination with everybody happy, fed and still wearing everything they left the house in is miracle enough at the moment (Noah in particular has a habit of losing socks wherever he goes!)

It's pretty appropriate that our photos for May are taken in the park, because that's pretty much where we've been spending all of our time lately!

I remember writing about how much I hate the park back when Tyne was an only child, and although it's never going to be my favourite place I have definitely come to appreciate it a lot more since having more children - particularly on sunny days when you just want to get out and get some air and feel the sunshine on your skin, but you don't want the hassle of sand everywhere (The other "go to" thing when you live in a seaside resort like we do!) and you don't want to pay a fortune to go to the pier or the zoo/farms etc - for those days when you just want somewhere free to go for an hour, the park is a lifesaver!

We have a great geological park just down the road from us which has a sand area, diggers, fossil digging, a trampoline and all kinds of other things which Tyne just loves but I like to try and find a new park each time we go out as it makes it more of adventure that way so that's what we've been doing this month - going to a new park a couple of times a week.

Now that Noah is old enough for the swings he really enjoys it too - I think I'm going to be in trouble once Sailor is old enough though, as most parks only seem to have two swings - I can see a lot of swing-related arguments in my future!

In the Month Of The May, Mummy Has Been Loving:

*MAD Blog Award excitement - being listed as a finalist and getting excited about going to a real awards ceremony! Eeeek!
*Eating healthy and feeling more energised
*The return of Britains Got Talent on Saturday nights
*Getting to go on a cruise again!!!
*Visiting beautiful Norway for the first time and seeing the majectic Fjords
*Watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix - and loving Titus!!!

Daddy Has Been Loving:

*His Mantic Games delivery - lots of new little figures to paint!
*Finally getting to watch Deadpool - hilarious!
*Cruising through the Norwegian Fjords and having a great holiday
*Mummy being listed as a MAD Blog Finalist! (#Fan)
*Watching the new series of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Tyne Has Been Loving:

*His new bedtime story book Cops & Robbers
*His toy handcuffs and arresting anybody and everybody for being "cat thieves!"
*Playing sword fights with Noah with their new foam swords
*Watching "The Pirates" and "Hotel Transylvania" on Netflix ...a lot!
*"Homemade Subway" for lunch (A ham roll and a cookie!)

Noah Has Been Loving:

*Playing sword fights with Tyne
*Crawling after Tyne and smothering him with kisses if he catches him!
*Hiding all the remote controls
*Attacking the recycling box in the kitchen and redistributing it all around the house!
*Constantly trying to escape up the stairs!

Sailor Has Been Loving:

*Tummy tickles
*Cooing at everybody and trying to "chat"
*Lots of cuddles
*Lots of milk!

So that's us for May...fingers crossed we manage some more half decent photos for June!

To see our month in moving pictures, have a look at our Monthly Montage video for May - we've been joining in with Alex from Bump To Baby on her #MyMonthlyMontage challenge since October and I love that we now have an incredible 6 months of videos to look back on - it's incredible to see how much our family has changed in such a short time!

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Monday, 30 May 2016

Dressing For A Cruise As A Plus-Sized, NON Body Confident Woman!

Without a doubt one of my favourite aspects of cruise holidays is the fabulous FORMAL evenings!

On each cruise there will usually be at least one formal night, sometimes 3 or 4 - and these are a chance to really go all out on the glitz and glamour, which I LOVE!

After all - I spend most of my life wearing wotsit-stained leggings and baggy sweatshirts with comical mummy-life related statements on them because once you grow a human in your womb, this is henceforth what constitutes fashion! So the chance to wear a glitzy, fancy evening gown and an ACTUAL pair of heels is too good to pass up!

I spend the months before a cruise narrowing down my outfit choices and this is as much a part of the cruise experience for me as actually going on board is - I usually love it! Spending hours browsing for the perfect evening gowns and cocktails dresses, and some appropriately nautical attire for the day times.

However, this time around I found shopping for clothes much more challenging.

I spent months upon months getting the boys cruise outfits sorted out, as - let's be honest - shopping for your kids clothes is so much more fun and when there are nautical shirts and 3 piece suits to be had, who wouldn't want to focus on the teeny ones outfits?!

But this meant that I ended up leaving my own wardrobe to the last minute - and given that I've managed to go up a ridiculous 3 (ok, 4 in some shops!) dresses sizes since our last cruise holiday (pre-children!), there was no way that wearing any of those was an option!

The problem I faced was that I have far more hang ups about my body now than I ever did before I had kids, and I have placed a lot of limitations on myself when it comes to what I will wear - I don't like to show my arms or legs much at all, I like to try to keep my cleavage out of view as much as possible (which is hard with a chest the size of mine!) and I won't wear anything fitted as my lumps and bumps just don't need to be shown off - but more than that, I am also really struggling with some medical issues at the moment which have left me with a VERY bloated stomach that - most days - looks as though I'm 9 months pregnant.

Given that Sailor wasn't going to be travelling with me, I was very paranoid about constantly being asked if I'm expecting and having to face the embarrassment of explaining that I wasn't - so I needed to try to find outfits that A)fitted, B) didn't invite unwanted questions and C) looked half decent.

I found that this was quite a difficult task and after spending a full day trawling around department stores and high street shops, I realised that the only way I was going to get an evening gown that fitted and looked half decent was to pay at least £300 - and that just was not something I was prepared to do!

Luckily, after a LOT of time spent browsing online and sending away for things to try on, I managed to kit myself out.

Here are some of my favourite outfits from the cruise.

This pale blue gown with silver sequin beading on the bodice was a very last minute find, just two days before travelling - I loved the icy blue colour, and it actually reminded me of Elsa from Frozen's dress which seemed very appropriate for a cruise to Norway!

The dress was from Quiz Clothing and was actually from their sale section, reduced to just £50 which I was amazed at! It was sleeveless which concerned me, but I managed to find a shawl in the perfect matching shade of blue on eBay for only £5 - result!

Quiz have an amazing new range of everything from going out dresses to maxi dresses in stock right now, but my favourite have to be their stunning occasion dresses  - I am hoping to be a couple of sizes smaller by the next time we cruise and I will absolutely be heading straight to the Quiz website to get my evening cruises when I need them!

This black and pale pink floral patterned playsuit was one of my favourite outfits during the cruise - it was so very comfortable, and could be dressed up with heels for dinner and dressed down again with sparkly flats for the casual evening on board - It was another last minute purchase and I actually spotted it whilst walking past the Reduced rail in Asda - it was a steal at just £10! (I saw another woman wearing it on board on another evening and was SO tempted to give her a wink and whisper "bargain playsuit!" but I thought I'd better not give our secret away!)

Friday, 27 May 2016

P & O Cruises Aurora With Kids - Our Honest Thoughts

As mentioned in my last post, we've just returned from a 7 night holiday to Norway aboard the P & O Cruises ship Aurora.

We booked the holiday just over a year ago, and travelled along with our friends Colin & Sarah and their baby son Harry (aged 10 months).

We had an absolutely brilliant time in Norway itself - the country was absolutely stunning, and we would absolutely love to return in the future - you can read all about our adventures in Norway and see our photos HERE or watch our videos on YouTube here and here.

For this post, I'm going to focus on the cruise aspect of the holiday and what we thought of our first experience with P & O Cruises.

Jon & I already knew that we loved cruise holidays - as someone with an extreme fear of flying, cruising is the perfect solution for me to be able to travel and visit wonderful new places without needing to worry about the anxiety that flying brings to me - we had our first cruise experience before we had children about 5 years ago, aboard Royal Caribbean's Independence Of The Seas and it absolutely was the best 10 days of our lives!

I honestly can't praise Royal Caribbean highly enough, that holiday was truly the holiday of a lifetime for us and the ship offered SO MUCH in the way of entertainment - there were lively parades and parties on board most nights, a great Royal Promenade down the centre of the ship lined with bars and shops, an amazing 3 tiered main restaurant serving food of an unbelievably high quality, an ice skating rink, a theatre producing world class shows, a flow rider surf machine, a video arcade, Johnny Rockets 50s themed diner and SO much more - we couldn't fit everything in to a 10 night holiday, there was that much to do!

So we knew that P & O Cruises would have a very hard time living up to the exceptionally high standard of cruising that Royal Caribbean had spoiled us with - but I was willing to go into it with an open mind, and hoped that P & O would surprise us - well it certainly did surprise me, but unfortunately not in a positive way.

For a ship that advertised itself as "Family friendly" I found the Aurora to be anything but, and that is what really annoyed me.

Our Holiday To The Norwegian Fjords

Last Monday, Jon & I along with Tyne & Noah headed off on a week long cruise of the Norwegian Fjords aboard P & O Cruises Aurora.

Unfortunately (and ironically, given his name!) Sailor wasn't able to come with us due to his age as babies under 6 months old aren't allowed to travel on cruise ships (we had booked the holiday before we knew that we were expecting him!) so he enjoyed a week of peace and quiet with my parents at home instead!

I'll be focusing on the cruise aspect of our holiday and my thoughts on P & O Aurora in my next post on Friday, but for today I want to concentrate on the ports that we visited.

I love getting out and seeing the world, but given my extreme fear of flying it can be difficult to do so - thankfully cruising gives me the freedom to see the world without having to face the anxiety of flying, and so last year when we sat down with our friends Colin & Sarah to discuss the idea of taking a holiday together with our kids we chatted about places we'd like to visit.

I have visited 8 countries so far in my life, which I don't think is too bad for someone with a fear of flying and considering I didn't take my first trip abroad until 12 years ago - and during my time travelling I have discovered that I'm really not a lover of beach holidays or hot weather! I really don't enjoy lounging in the sunshine for hours on end (i'm too pale for that for a start!), and prefer to spend holidays sight seeing and experiencing a different way of life.

Norway has been pretty high up on my list of countries to visit for a long time, and when we discovered the Norwegian Fjords cruise we knew it was right for us!

Tyne was very excited to visit "Elsa and Anna's home country" and was keen to see all of the trolls and vikings, and snow capped mountains! 

We visited four ports in Norway during our cruise, and travelled some of the most beautiful Fjords which were absolutely breath taking - we also travelled through the worlds longest and deepest fjord.

The ports we visited were Bergen, Flam, Olden and Stavanger - here's a look at what we did in each port, and the photos we took!


Flam was by far the favourite port for all of us - the scenery was quite simply breath taking! The ship docked right alongside the centre of the village, and the view from the moment we stepped off it made us literally gasp.

We were surrounded by enormous snow capped mountains lined with beautiful and vibrant green trees and cascading waterfalls - the beautiful and elegant fjord panned out ahead of us and, in the perfect Flam sunshine we had that day, glistened a beautiful shade of blue.

We spent a while just taking in the beautiful scenery - even Tyne at 3 years old commented on how pretty it was, and asked if the trolls lived up there in the snowy mountains.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Mobility Scooters Can Improve Your Life

Mobility scooters are a big personal mobility aid that comes in small packages. They are meant to supplement the mobility of many people who is in some way physically unable to move around like they would like to, whether it’s a permanent disability or not. Electrically powered scooters eliminate much of the need for upper body strength that manual scooters still require.

Who uses mobility scooters?

Mobility scooters can aid many in their mobility needs. There is a large number of people who suffer from permanent health conditions that would otherwise render them almost completely incapable of movement.

Think of the infamous people Stephen Hawking who is rather incapable of getting around, but is otherwise very capable –perhaps one of the most alive today! It is people like this who benefit the most when it comes to mobility scooters.

Everyone has their own journey to take in life. You can find these types of scooters for sale at many locations; in fact you can find quality mobility scooters for sale at that can be used to improve the life of someone you know.

Generally, the people who use these wheelchairs, most of them are people with some severity of disease that is severely limiting to their mobility such as coronary issues, lung issues, arthritis, and obesity among other complications.

Any disease that generally can limit the user from walking for extended periods of times, but can still walk at least a few steps confidently on their own make up the great majority of users for mobility scooters.

On the other hand, it is not necessary for a person to be almost completely immobile to benefit from a mobility scooter, in fact, almost anyone with even minor mobility issues can benefit from using a mobility scooter.

Many people who find themselves overweight due to a medical condition and find it difficult to get around for long periods of time or who are simply getting older and cannot seem to walk the way they used to can benefit from using one of these scooters. Getting around a county fair, or just going shopping in a local grocery store can prove to be a huge burden for even people with the most relatively minor mobility issues or pain due to walking.
Essentially, anyone who wants to improve their mobility can find that purchasing a mobility scooter for sale at Mobile Scooters will aid them in their independence.

What are the benefits of a mobility scooter?

Mobility scooters not only improve a person's mobility, but they also offer them a new reality of independence. Many people who suffer from a severe disability that would otherwise leave them completely unable to get around independently find that they have a wonderfully increased self-esteem.

Manual wheelchairs either require someone to be aiding you at all times, or they require that the user have significant upper body strength, especially for all-day outings. Electronic wheelchairs eliminate this inconvenience completely.

Another benefit of the mobility scooter is the style. These scooters do not look like wheelchairs and separate the user from appearing even more “disabled looking”. These mobility scooters are for sale at Mobile Scooters and can be found in many makes and models as they can differ greatly from chair to chair.

Unfortunately, some chair models can run into obstacles in the area of size. Some areas that are otherwise completely accessible by a standard wheelchair, may be too small, or the turn radius too tight for a mobility scooter. Although this is generally not the case, it is still something to take into consideration, especially in urban areas.

No matter the reason, or the person who is in need of a good mobility scooter, we are confident that the mobility scooters for sale at Mobile Scooters can improve the life of someone in need. With the added independence, self-esteem, and mobility, this scooter can improve the quality of life tenfold in many people who need it.

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