Sparkles & Stretchmarks: A UK Parenting & Pregnancy Blog

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Me & Mine In August

This month I tried my absolute hardest to be super organised with our monthly family photos, infact the ones we've ended up using were taken back on August 1st!

I wasn't too happy with them though - they were taken around 9pm one evening on the seafront and although the sunset was beautiful and the skies were the pinkest I have ever seen, it didn't translate that well on camera and so I wanted a do-over.

Thinking we had looooads of time, I was sure I wouldn't end up using these ones...and so, every single family day out that we've had since (And there's been about 15 of them, we have literally been all over the place this month!), I have got the tripod out and tried to get some more no avail!

Every single one we've tried has been a joke...I'll share them at the end of this post because lets face it, at this point my outtakes are becoming more of a regular feature than a decent family photo is, aren't they?!


Back to the photos we've ended up using - as I mentioned they were taken at 9pm after an evening spent at the local fair ground.

This is very much a key feature of our summers - we live in a seaside town which is one of the UK's busiest tourist destinations...this has lots of drawbacks (such as the fact that it takes about an hour to complete a usually 5 minute long journey to the supermarket thanks to all the tourist traffic in the Summer!), but it also has lots of perks - one of them being that there is no shortage of summer fun, atmosphere and things to do around here!

The fairground comes to town every June, and stays until September - and as we all love it so much, we spend a lot of time there.

We visit usually once or twice a week throughout the summer, trying out the different rides, sampling the various fairground food offerings such as chips, doughnuts and candy floss, meeting the characters they have walking around and just generally having lots of fun.

On this particular evening, we'd taken a "McDonalds picnic" to the town green, and after eating it we'd headed over for an hour or so on the fair - this Summer is the first one that Tyne has been tall enough to ride the bumper cars and this particular evening had been his first go on them, he was delighted!

After the fair, we bought some doughnuts and walked along the seafront taking in the pretty sunset...which is when we set up the camera and snapped away.

This Month:

Daddy Is Loving:

*Watching Stranger Things on Netflix

*Visiting Kents Cavern

*Reading Green Eggs & Ham to the kids at bedtime

Mummy Is Loving:

*Seeing some great movies at the cinema including The BFG & Ghostbusters

*Reaching the 2 Stone award on her weight loss journey, and going down a dress size

*Making birthday wishlists and planning how to celebrate her birthday next month!

*The late Summer evenings out as a family

*Making travel plans

Tyne Is Loving:

*His first rides on the bumper cars

*Lots of days out with his cousins

*Visiting Nanny & Gagands new caravan lots

*His new Ghostbusters cd for the car

*Deciding where to go on our next holiday

Noah Is Loving:

*Saying "NO!" to everything he is asked

*Singing "Noah, Noah!" when we ask him "Who built the ark?"

*Counting! We discovered that he knows how to count "1,2,3" this week!

*Running about

Sailor Is Loving:

*Chewing on anything he can find


*Giving big slobbery kisses

*Blowing raspberries

*Doing "Shall We dance"

*** are this month's outtakes...

I had high hopes for the below photo shoot attempt...this one was almost ok apart from the sun blinding us all...

But then....take a look at this one!
Mummy: Not bad...
Noah: Nailed it!
Daddy: Passable
Sailor: Well he's a baby, it's fine..
Tyne...OH DEAR.

And for the grand finale, my favourite attempt of all!


If anyone wants to hire me for wedding photos or anything, get in touch.

If you'd like to take a look at our very hectic but super fun month in video form, take a look at Monthly Montage video below! (probably not that interesting to anyone but me as its just lots of clips of my kids on various days out to be fair, but why not share right?!)

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The Parent Pod - An Exciting New Collaborative Project!

As much as I love writing and as much as I know it will always be my biggest passion, I've been in the mood for some new challenges lately and so recently, I've taken myself back to my YouTube channel.

I've started to upload regular weekend family vlogs, capturing my everyday life at home with the children - and I try to force myself to be in them too, rather than only focusing on the kids which is the easy thing to do (though they do feature more heavily because lets face it...they're a damn sight cuter!) and I feel like it's helping me to become a little more confident each time I force myself to stand in front of the camera.

And I have also taken another big step - along with some other lovely blog friends of mine, I have decided to launch a brand new channel - a channel by parents, for parents. 

The aim is to create a supportive YouTube community for parents with no business agenda (there is no money involved in this channel, its just a group of people coming together to create content and get their voices out there) , just "normal" mums & dads sharing their own personal advice, tips and support on all aspects of life as a parent - from potty training and post natal struggles to handling your child going off to high school and how to tackle talking about drugs, we want to cover all of the bases and make sure that there is relevant content for everyone - no matter what age your children are, no matter what your background - we're a diverse bunch of people and we hope to be able to create a community to support all parents alike.

I'm excited about this project, and I want to make it into something really positive.

And we don't want to just be a channel of people talking at YOU....we want to be a totally open, immersive and involved community - we will regularly be opening up guest vlog slots, asking for new contributors to projects, and setting up monthly "Talking Points" where you can involved...even if you're not a blogger or vlogger yourself, we want to find ways to get EVERYBODY involved in this together.

Our Channel - The Parent Pod - launches on September 1st.

It is run by a core group of people including myself along with Emma from My Pretty Mummy, Aby from You Baby Me Mummy,  Bex from The Mummy Adventure, Kay from Mummy B, Hannah from Hi Baby Blog, Pamela from Life With Munchers, Alex from Lamb & Bear, Rachel from Blogging Mummy, Lucinda from Teacher2Mummy,  Emma from Sophie Ella & Me, Lucy from Hello Beautiful Bear & Leanne from A Slice Of My Life Wales.

But like I said...we are not and never will be a closed channel, and we want to involve as many people in this project as want to be involved.

We would love you to get involved with us by subscribing to our videos HERE or liking us on Facebook HERE where we will be putting out more information about how to join in with us.

You can also follow us on Twitter @The_Parent_Pod for updates on our latest videos and callouts for projects.

Here's a little look at our Channel Trailer....

So....Wish us luck!!!?

I hope you'll join us tomorrow at 6pm when our launch video goes live!

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Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The Tantrum

Last week, when Jon & I were at a local farm with the boys, enjoying a nice summer family day out, something happened that I hadn't experienced before.

We'd just fed the sheep and were heading to wash our hands, when a little boy - a very small boy about 18 months old or so - started to throw the most massive tantrum.

It was like nothing I'd ever seen before - his arms were flailing about everywhere, he threw himself down on the floor, he kept his body as stiff as a board so that no matter how hard his poor mother tried to lift his tiny little frame up from that dirty concrete ground, she just couldn't manage it.

Every time she got a grip on him, he wrestled free and planked himself flat onto the floor again. Stiff as a board. Totally immovable.

And all the while this was going on, he was screaming at the top of his lungs. Literally full on, ear piercing, blood curdling screams...over and over and over again.

 The noise was enough to send the nearby donkeys in to a bit of a meltdown, and between the donkeys frustrated squeals and the boys hellish high pitched screams I thought my eardrums were going to burst.

His mother, bless her,  was trying her best to make light of the situation, even laughing a bit about his display and trying to entice him out of his tantrum.

First of all promising him some sweeties if he stood up like a good boy, then changing tack and telling him off  a bit instead - she was floundering, you could tell. Her face went all red, and her eyes were darting around - trying to see how much of an audience they'd amassed.

Worrying about how many people might be judging her.

But the boy - oh my goodness, the boy was relentless - I'd never have expected so much willpower in such a tiny little tot, he'd looked so sweet and innocent on the farm earlier that day - with his huge brown eyes like saucers and his cheeky little grin as he chased around after the chickens and ducks, chuckling to himself, relishing in his new found farmyard freedom.

But now - now he was like a child possessed - kicking his mother with force in the stomach as she tried desperately to scoop him up, and then reaching out and grabbing fistfuls of her long hair so that she had to stop trying to pick him up and instead try to prize her hair out of his grasp before he tore any more of it from her scalp, mortified as people around her started to tut loudly and whisper in not-quite-hushed-enough-voices about how "their child would never dare behave that way".

I thought then about that news story I'd read a while ago - about the woman in the department store whose young toddler had been asked to leave after having a particularly epic tantrum.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Devon Days Out: Kents Cavern

 A couple of weeks ago, we headed for a day out with a bit of a difference...

Kents Cavern is one of the most important Stone Age sites in all of Europe, and is possibly Britains oldest cave.

Now I have to admit, being a little bit claustrophobic and taking a 3 year old who isn't so keen on the dark, I was a bit concerned about whether or not this day out might be a disaster in the making....but I was growing tired of the usual parks, beaches and farm days out that are so plentiful here in Devon and we all fancied doing something a bit different.

So we headed off to Kents Cavern feeling a mix of excited and a little apprehensive!

We'd told Tyne already that the caves would be dark in some parts, and he was also feeling a bit nervous about it...but after chatting about how Batman lived in a cave he was more than up for it! Wondering if this might even be THE very cave that Batman lived in!

When we reached Kents Cavern, I was quite surprised to find that it looked very quaint and welcoming - I'm not sure exactly what I expected, but perhaps something a little daunting in some way?!

Instead we wandered in past a pretty tea room and picnic area with a lovely view over Torbay, and headed in to the nice open cafe and gift shop area where we greeted and informed that the next tour of the cave would be taking place in a few minutes.

After a very short wait, we headed in to the tour meeting point where our guide, Amy, informed us of how the tour would work, how long it would last and what we could expect.

Our group consisted of around 20 or so people, one of whom was a teenaged girl who expressed her absolute disinterest in the experience loudly to her Dad - giving him a dramatic eye roll and saying with a deadpan expression "Look at my face, look at how excited I am to be here." - I'm telling you this because it's important and I'll be coming back to it later on!

And then off we went!

Can you see the face in the rocks?!! This wasn't man made!

I was surprised to find that the caves were reached via a big wooden door, and when we stepped inside with the door closed behind us - it didn't feel small and enclosed as I expected it to, infact it was very large and roomy - there was plenty of space all around us and above our heads, and I didn't feel at all uncomfortable or concerned.

The tour was started off with a bit of a light show and some recorded information about how they were discovered which was actually very interesting, even for someone with no prior interest in this sort of thing such as myself.

And then we headed off, following Amy through the caves.

Although we were warned that certain parts would be steep and narrow, I never found it to be something that I noticed at all - the incline was very slight and I don't think many people would struggle with it, and the narrowest point was still wide enough to walk through with a little room at either side of you.

There was never a need to duck down, or twist yourself in any way to get into any part of it which is something I had expected - infact the caves can even be navigated by a small single pushchair which was interesting to know!

Every so often, Amy would stop us and point out some areas of interest within the cave - she showed us the various stalactites and stalagmites and discussed their age with is and how they were formed...this may all sound like it could have been dull but Amy was a very entertaining guide and she had us laughing out loud more than once with her anecdotes and little jokes.

When we reached the Bears Den, we experienced the famous Kents Blackout - where all of the lights are switched off and you experience the complete darkness of the caves.

I found this absolutely fascinating, I literally couldn't see my own hand in front of my face - I've never experienced such absolute darkness, and to think that is the darkness that the explorers who discovered those caves all those years ago would have experienced is quite mind blowing - how they continued to dig through them with only lantern light I'll never know!

Our tour lasted for around 45 minutes, and all of us thoroughly enjoyed it.

Tyne, my 3 year old, was thoroughly entertained throughout and surprised us all by not even whimpering during the black out - he took it completely in his stride and has told everybody he meets all about it since.

And that stroppy teenager who had no interest in the caves? Well, she laughed more than any of our group throughout the tour at Amy's jokes, seemed interested throughout, didn't make another such comment to her Dad and I saw her leaving with a smile on her face - so doesn't that just say it all?!

This really is a wonderful experience for young and old alike, and I would highly recommend a visit if you're ever in the Devon area.

Once the tour was over, I was surprised to find that there was plenty more to do at Kents Cavern.

Outside Tyne had fun fossil digging through the sand boxes, painting and crafting, and even had a go at using a crossbow for target practise which he just loved!

We had a little wander through some of the Woodland trail, and then enjoyed a delicious cream tea from the cafe enjoying the lovely view.

Our day out at Kents Cavern was such a lovely change from the usual same-old days out, and we will certainly return again in future - infact I am very tempted by their regular evening Ghost Walks!!!

To find out more about Kents Cavern or book a trip, just visit

To read more from our Devon Days Out Series, click here

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Sunday, 28 August 2016

#SundayBest - A Linky To Show Off Your Best Posts!

Welcome back to #SundayBest - A brand new linky hosted by myself and the lovely Sian from Quite Frankly She Said.

Thank you to everyone who joined up last Sunday and helped to spread the word.

What I love about linkies is how it helps not only to get your blog posts seen, but it also helps you to reach out into the community more and get to know your fellow bloggers - I find myself feeling so inspired by the posts I read on linkies, and it's such a great way of finding new blogs that you'll love.

Each week we will be picking out our favourite posts from the link ups to share with you.

Blogs Of The Week

My favourite post from last week was this one by Belle Du Brighton as she asks "Why Can't I Shout About My Blog?"

Sian's favourite post (And one I also would have voted for, too) was this incredibly moving and thought provoking post from Kate at Family Fever - At Least You Had A Healthy Baby

Featured Bloggers -  please feel free to grab the badge below to display on your blogs!

Sparkles & Stretchmarks Sunday Best


We want to keep things nice and simple, so there are very few rules and if we all play nicely then everybody benefits!

1. You can link up to 2 posts per week - the post can be about anything at all, but the theme is Best Posts so try to link up ones that you feel really showcase your blog. Posts can be old or new, as long as they haven't been linked here before.

2. You must add the Badge to each post that you link up

Sparkles & Stretchmarks Sunday Best

3) Please comment on both Host posts, and the post immediately before yours - and then do feel free to hop around and comment on as many other posts as possible - the more love you give, the more you're likely to get in return!

4) Please write #SundayBest at the end of each comment you leave so that we know you're joining in!

4) If you'd like myself & Sian to tweet your posts, just send us a link with the hashtag #SundayBest and we'll RT for you - you can find us on Twitter @Sparkles_blog and @QFSheSaid

And that's it!

Let's Get Linking!

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