Friday, 27 February 2015

Favourite Toddler Toys & Birthday Gift Inspiration!

Back at Christmas I recall stressing myself out quite a lot when it came to deciding what sorts of presents to buy for Tyne and what sort of things he'd most enjoy playing with over the course of this year.

Now that his 2nd birthday is just 1 month away, I'm back to thinking about gifts again and trying to decide what exactly to buy for him.

So I thought I'd do a little breakdown on exactly which of his toys he seems to get the most use and enjoyment out of, and what I've decided to buy him for his birthday.

Current Toddler Favourites

Trains & Vehicles

Tyne is very much into "actively" playing with his toys now and really enjoys anything that involves imagination and role playing - he loves to push his trains and cars around while making appropriate noises for them, and he always asks for toys to "talk" to him (meaning myself or Jon pick up the toy and give it a voice, engaging in a pretend conversation with Tyne on behalf of the toy!).

His go-to toys are ALWAYS his trains and vehicles - he has a Happyland box which stores all of them (just!) and it folds out to become a road play mat, he also has a lot of wooden track and bridges which he loves putting together.

He spends ages just pushing around the cars and tractors, and mostly playing with his various Thomas engines....which are without doubt his favourite toys!

Play Kitchen

We gave Tyne a play kitchen at Christmas and we keep it in the living room with all of his play food and his shopping trolley. 
He plays with it a few times each day, and likes to pretend to make coffee or lunch for me and Jon. 
He also pretends to wash the dishes afterwards, and seems to really enjoy deciding where he's going to put things away afterwards and of course deciding what he's going to "cook" for dinner!

Ride On Toys

Tyne's ride-on Thomas train is still very much a firm favourite and has been ever since he first got it at 9 months old! I don't think theres been more than a few days that have passed since when he hasn't played on it, he adores it and it's by far the best toy purchase I've ever made!
Dress Up

Tyne has recently shown a real interest in dress-up costumes. Every time we go to the supermarket he runs straight over to look through them, and he recently got his first ever one in the form of a Spiderman costume!

He was absolutely delighted with it, and wore it for an entire day telling everyone he met that his name was Spiderman! 

Ideas For His Birthday

Based on the things that we know he loves, we've decided that the following will be what we buy for his 2nd birthday...

A Play House

Whenever we visit soft play centres, Tyne always heads straight for the Little Tikes plastic play houses and just loves pretending they're his house - going in and out of the door, waving to us from the windows and so on.

I think an outdoor play house will be lovely for him when the weather starts to get a bit nicer, so we're definitely going to be being one for his birthday! It's just a matter of deciding on which one!

BMW Ride On

This is something we've had put to one side for him for quite a while, he already has his cozy coupe which he really enjoys but now that he's really started to show an interest in cars we think he'll appreciate this more "realistic" one!

More Trains

He already has far too many but they are his absolute favourite thing, we just couldn't possibly let his birthday go by without buying more Thomas trains! He keeps requesting "Talking Henry" and "Talking Spencer" so those are the ones I think we'll need to look out for!
His grandparents are going to be buying an amazing wooden train table that Tyne plays with every time we visit a nearby toy store, so I can't wait to see his reaction when he opens that gift!!

A sandpit

Tyne absolutely ADORES the sand and would quite happily spend every minute of every day digging at the Beach if we'd let him! We're very lucky to only live a few minutes walk away from the beach which is great, but it's not something we can fit in to doing every day so I think a nice sandpit out in the garden will be great for him! We've bought this wooden one from Plum which I actually got on sale for an amazing £12!!

More Dress Up

Now that he's starting to really get in to dress up, I'm going to buy him a few little dress up costumes and make him a little Dress Up box - I'm thinking the standard offerings like a Police outfit and Doctors coat to begin with, and of course a Train driver costume is a must for our Thomas fan!

So that's what we'll be buying Tyne for his second birthday at the end of March! 

What are your little ones favourite toys to play with?

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Our Travel Plans for 2015

Travelling has to be one of my absolute favourite things to do in life - if I don't have a holiday booked to look forward to, then I find myself constantly scrolling through various holiday websites looking for great deals and inspiration on where to visit next.

It doesn't make travelling particularly easy considering that I made the conscious decision a few years ago to stop flying.

I have always been terrified of flying, but I used to force myself to do it thinking it was all worth it to experience a great holiday - but eventually I started to realise that actually it WASN'T worth it as I would spend the entire holiday worrying and panicking about the plane journey back home - and so I decided to stop putting myself through it and instead embrace alternative ways to travel - after all, people managed to see the world long before the invention of aircraft!

I soon discovered my love of cruising, which was fantastic as it enabled me to see the world via one of the most luxurious methods of transport in existence without ever needing to set foot on a plane! 

I desperately want to get away on a cruise this year but with a toddler in tow and a new baby on the way, I just can't decide how feasible it's going to be.

Babies are not allowed to travel on cruise ships until they're 6 months old, and sadly for us all of the cruises we're interested in taking this year are taking place before the new baby will have hit that age - so we're currently trying to decide whether to bite the bullet and take a cruise just the 3 of us leaving the new baby with his grandparents while he's still too little to realise, or whether to just abandon the idea of a cruise this year and do something else instead.

The "something else" would most likely be a trip to EuroDisney, which is something I've wanted to do for years but always felt a bit awkward doing without any kiddies with me! So now that Tyne will be 2, it seems like a good opportunity to finally experience it!

So as it stands, our travel plans abroad this year will either be a trip to Eurodisney or a cruise to the Norwegian Fjords!

Which would you go for in our situation?!

We are also planning lots of little trips within the UK too, as I like to try and experience as much of our own country as possible!

We've already visited Bluestone this year, and next week we are off for a week in Newquay which we are very much looking forward to!

We have an overnight trip to Southampton planned for the end of March to visit Peppa Pig World for Tyne's birthday and I'm hoping to visit some nearby museums and landmarks too...there are so many places in the UK I want to visit such as Stonehenge and Portsmouth Dockyard.

We're also going to be booking a trip to Tamworth sometime in May to visit Thomasland at Drayton Manor for a day or two as well!

I'm also thinking it would be nice to have a little couples break away to Bath in between mine and Jon's birthdays in Early September, we'll be having a visit home to Liverpool for new babies Christening before Summer AND we're hoping to fit in an end of Summer break to Center Parcs too!

Phew! Just the thought of all this travelling has me why do I still want to plan more?!!!

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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

What Instagram Didn't Tell You.....

Ahh Instagram...such a beloved app by bloggers far and wide, but isn't it just all too easy to make life look effortlessly glamorous and wonderful with the assistance of the Amaro filter and a bit of creative cropping?!

Today I'm coming out of the Instagram closet to share the truth behind some of my recent Instagram "snaps"....

My recent Bump Watch photograph - oh look at me...all big smiles, proudly displaying my bump, not a care in the world.

What this photo does NOT show you is that not 10 minutes after it was taken, I was laying on my bed crying with my legs in the air while poor old Jon administered yet more hemorrhoid cream because I have bum grapes that belong in a Guiness Book Of Records.

Yay Pregnancy.

Ahhh...such a lovely snapshot of Tyne lovingly stroking my bump.

This photo accompanied a blog post all about how I'm encouraging him to bond with the baby before its born.

My intentions are all good of course....but since this photo was taken he's developed a new favourite thing to do with the bump....hit it.

Yep...he likes to come up, give it a good old whack and say "HIT THE BABY!!!"....

And when asked what he's going to do when the baby is born...his response is, yep you guessed it!, "HIT THE BABY!"....I think we may have a slight case of the Damien's on our hands.....

This photo was proudly displayed on my Instagram feed a few weeks ago, showing our new wall decor in the dining room.

I MAY have forgotten to mention that it took 3 hours and a LOT of excessive swearing to actually complete the job....oh and a lot of arguments too, big ones....there were nearly lawyers involved....

This was my proud little display of my fabulously diverse cooking skills showing my attempt at some handmade Mediterranean lamb koftes with brown rice  ... yes I was quite proud of that meal! It was very tasty too!

Although Instagram failed to show you that I had to eat it with my hand wrapped in a wet bandage because I'd burned it THAT badly on the grill when I accidentally set fire to the original set of kebab sticks.....

Does YOUR Instagram account hold any hidden secrets?! Feel like sharing? Come'll make me feel better!

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Monday, 23 February 2015

My Baby Essentials vs Unnecessary Extras!

There's always a lot of talk about which items are actially necessary for a new baby and which are just additional clutter to waste your money on.

Personally, I think this very much depends on the person - what one person considers useful another may think a total waste of time.

But for arguments sake, here is my list!

Baby Essentials

Changing Bag - some women seem to be able to get by with a standard hand bag, I always hoped I'd be one of those women since I was never too keen on changing bags but I soon realised this was not going to happen. Babies come with a distressing amount of things that need to be taken on every single outing - far too much for a standard bag to comfortably hold!

Microwave steriliser - While I was pregnant with Tyne, sterilisers were a bit of a minefield to me. There were so many different kinds to choose from and I didn't know where to start! My sister told me that microwave ones were easiest, and I have to say she was right!

Changing Mat - Another thing I was unsure about pre-baby was changing mats. Surely they're just as comfortable being changed on the bed or sofa?! Well...yes, they may be...but the contents of a babies nappy can reach surprising places! A changing mat is MUCH easier to clean than your bedding or cushion covers! Changing mats from Tesco can cost less than £10 and are well worth the investment!

Water Wipes - When I realised that using baby wipes isn't recommend for the 6 weeks of a babies life, I was horrified at the idea of having to use cotton wool and water - how inconvenient?! Fortunately I discovered water wipes which can be used from birth and I couldn't have been without them - particularly during my post c-section hospital stay!

Aquaint Sanitising Spray - Tyne had a dummy from an early age which he was constantly dropping, so this stuff was a lifesaver on trips out!

Breathing monitor - An expensive addition to my list but certainly the one item that gave me the most of peace of mind.

Unnecessary Extras

Nappy disposal bin - Something I bought last time that never came out of its box. The standard bin is just as easy to use and who needs one more thing to remember to empty out?!!!

Nappy stacker bag - I fail to see the point?!! We keep our nappies in the packaging they come in, in a cupboard. Do they need to be kept in a pretty pouch which just needs to be refilled all the time?!

Wipe warmer - In my opinion, the faster a human being (no matter how small) learns the harsh life lesson that nobody really cares if their rear end is cold when being wiped...the better for them!

Wipe dispenser - Again, I just don't see the point. In 2 years of using wipes, I have never struggled enough in getting one out of the package that I have thought "Oooh I really wish this was in an additional case..."....

Muslin Cloths - A controversial one, as I see these on EVERYBODY's must have lists - I bought plenty of them when I was having Tyne. Guess how many I used? None. Ever.

Maybe it's coz I didn't breastfeed, maybe it's coz he was never a sicky baby - maybe it'll be different this time - but I swear, Tyne has reached the age of 2 without ever needing a muslin.

What would be on your must have and unnecessary extras lists?

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My Maternity Style

I'm not going to lie, I am not one of these women who manage to look effortlessly stylish while carrying around a perfectly neat little bump.

I follow plenty of those women on Instagram, I ooh and ahh at their photos and imagine myself in pretty pastel knits perfectly accessorized with a rose gold statement necklace and freshly manicured nails....then the real me puts down the Ipad and casts a despairing eye over my beached-whale self in 2 day old pyjamas covered with splatters of whatever food my toddler has eaten that day, hair scraped back in a ponytail, glasses on in an attempt to cover up the under-eye circles that no other man-made product could conceal...and I realise that my reality is never going to quite come up to that standard.

But of course there are days in life that do require me to change out of the afore-mentioned pyjamas and squeeze my ever expanding stomach and impossibly gigantic breasts into some kind of clothing acceptable to wear in the outside world...and on these rare occasions, I do find myself suddenly overcome with the urge to put on a bit of make up, do my hair and try to look somewhat human.

So I thought I'd share a few snaps of what I like to wear when those days come around!

I'm no fashion expert but I do enjoy clothes and experimenting a look I've been loving lately is hats! Fedoras in particular - they look so glam yet effortlessly stylish paired with a poncho and some patterned leggings.

I recently bought one for myself from New Look, and put it together with this outfit on a Christmas dinner out with some friends.

Sadly...I didn't have the nerve to actually wear the hat outside of the house. I loved posing around with it indoors, but I feared I looked more like a quaker than a fashionista and so it stayed at home that evening....and probably won't see the light of the day again! 

Oh well, it was fun to try!

I do love the rest of this outfit though - the green tartan print leggings from Matalan are my current go-to whenever I need to leave the house, and the oversized black dipped swing top from BooHoo is SO COMFORTABLE to wear while massively pregnant and I love that it doesn't cling anywhere!

Another favourite staple item at the moment is basically a very similar pair of leggings but in a red tartan print! These are from Primark and they are SO comfortable!

I wear these with my black plain t shirt all the time!

Sticking with the patterned leggings theme (When I like a fashion trend, I find it difficult to hold back and end up buying every available option as though they're....well...going out of fashion?!) - this outfit is another current favourite. The leggings are again from Primark and they're what they call "Comfy Leggings"...they feel much silkier than your standard legging and I do enjoy this added little luxury as they feel a bit more special than bog standard leggings! I wear these most often with a plain black fitted t shirt  (This one is from New Look) which shows off the bump completely, and I usually pair it with a statement necklace too.

This was an outfit I wore to a dinner party I recently held for my family - the blue kaftan top is from the Apricot range at New Look and was something I bought before I was pregnant - I wasn't sure it would still fit but because of the style it does and it actually frames the bump pretty well!

I wore it with navy maternity leggings and my gold glitter pumps got their first outing too!

I also recently treated myself to this new dress - it was in the Outfit sale for £5 (As shown in my recent Sales Haul!) and I love it! It's so comfortable and easy to wear with just plain black leggings, but looks like I've made a bit of an effort - particularly when worn with this floral headband!

I've been loving my new brown boots from my recent Sales Haul, and have been wearing jeggings more than usual too...I picked up this checked shirt for our recent bluestone holiday and I'm quite liking wearing that open with a t shirt underneath.

I also picked up this plaid t shirt from New Look and I love it! The photo doesn't do it much justice but its nice and loose, super soft and sooooo comfortable - it's also nice and warm without being as claustrophobia-inducing as I find some jumpers can be during pregnancy! And of course, as always, plain old black leggings are a constant wardrobe staple for me!

I bought this long line green cardigan from New Look last week - It's impossible to photograph outdoors as you can see, it just gets swept away! - but usually it has quite a flattering fit and I love wearing it over very plain clothes paired with a leopard print scarf!

Another current love of mine is ponchos.

These are the ones I have so far (Both from New Look).

None of my pre-pregnancy coats fit me anymore and, since I`m hoping to get my health issues sorted and lose a lot of weight after this baby is born, there doesn't seem much point in paying out tons of money for a maternity coat - so a poncho is the perfect solution!

So that's how I'm dressing the bump this time around!

To read more about my second pregnancy, please take a look at the following posts: Our Pregnancy Announcement | Our Gender Reveal

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