Saturday, 27 July 2013

Beside the seaside, beside the sea

Last year's holiday to Lyme Regis

So by now, my LIFE AS IT WAS, featured a ten-month-old and an almost four-year-old. And, it has to be said, a few more grey hairs. 

It was about this time, Simon and I went camping to Dorset for a holiday, prior to visiting Weymouth for the Olympic sailing event.

Friday, 26 July 2013

10 must do's when holidaying with the kids...

In a few days, my family and I are off on holiday. We are flying to Spain and then going straight from Bournemouth airport on our return, to Lyme Regis. CUE song: Oh I do love to be beside the seaside; and if I'm honest, I'm far more excited about the latter - and that's not just because of our recent AMAZING summer weather either!

When it comes to packing, it pays to be organised right? I have definitely got my work cut out for me this year; I'm having to plan and pack for two holidays in one. I figured making a list would help. All you list makers out there just nodded right?! And you will no doubt already have your own from way back when, you organised bunch. But if you don't have a checklist yet, and you want to share mine, please do: Just click on camping or abroad

Meanwhile, here are TEN must do’s for TRAVELLING with kids.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Royal musings of a 4YO

On hearing the news about the new royal baby, Esme made her own announcement.

e: Mummy, one day I'm going to marry the new Prince.
m: Yes, I suppose you could.
e: And we will live in Princess land.
m: Brilliant. 
e: Will you and Daddy live with us in the palace?
m: You bet.

Slightly giddy musings of a mummy re the arrival of a new royal

So I've come over all royalist!

Sod the republicans... CHEERS! I'm raising a glass to you, the new baby prince, no name as of yet. To record the very moment you made your first appearance. It was live on the ever so fabulous Channel 4 news. I watched as Wills & Catherine appeared, walked down the steps - her in heels! To show you off to the world.  Wrapped in a shawl, in first your mother's arms, and next your father's. Yes, somewhat tardy, but you are here now - and so very welcome little Prince, third in line to the throne. 
It is most lovely to see you!

Esme finishes her reception year at school today. And the highlights were...

First ever parents eve when we were greeted with the news that the teacher had to tell Esme to be quiet. 

First ever nativity when I had Mary envy.

First ever assembly when her one line was the impressive, 'and began to spin her silky thread.' (The topic was mini beasts).

First ever sports day when she almost won, (or that's what she thinks). Check out the concentration...

Picture credit: Nichola Telehagen

What to take on hols with you when going abroad...

Holidaying abroad list
Passports, tickets, travel Insurance docs, EH1C cards, voucher for car park & car rental the other end, car seats if taking. Info on what to do, guidebook, baby sitting service, best restaurants 

What to take on hols with you when camping...


Info on what to do, guidebook, best restaurants etc

Monday, 22 July 2013

A letter to Sofia Faith (part 3)

Sofia sweetheart, you had suddenly found a contented serenity at Christmas which was to calm us all. But shortly after that, you had vaccinations, and they were the start of your being unwell in other ways. In short, we had two further months of screaming.

You really didn’t settle into yourself until you were six months old. And suddenly you arrived. Your placid little sunny self was here. And by God, it was a revelation... we all love(d) you so.

A letter to Esme Grace

I had a new baby, a much longed for sibling for you darling. And she cried. Lots. 

And frankly... It was all rather shit.

I went to ground. And there, I went to pieces. 

I spent six months muddling through with you both. 

Esme your love for Fia lasted seven days exactly. And the day that your father returned to work after a week's paternity, was the day the wheels fell off. 

I remember Nanny visited and asked you outright if you liked having a baby? You said 'no.' She asked you if she could take her home, and you said 'yes,' then smiled at the prospect.

You clearly disliked the new baby in our lives and hey, who could blame you; all she did was scream. I remember you covered your ears all the time, wailing to me too, 'Mummy, the baby is crying.' 

You retaliated with wild behaviour. Mostly as I was trying to feed Sofia. Cutting your hair one morning was classic. What was so incredible about that incident though was when you voiced why to your father...

I was in the rocking chair, nursing. Daddy was in the shower. Esme, you were colouring. Or were supposed to be colouring. Instead, you pulled a chair across to the bookcase, climbed up and took the now in reach scissors. Then you gave yourself a fringe, (wonky as), before trotting upstairs to show your Daddy. You got his attention immediately... mission accomplished honey.

e: Daddy, I've cut my hair.

d: You've done what?
e: (Louder) Cut my hair.
d: Why did you do that?
e: Because I wanted you to come to me. 

(Note: To date, that fringe has almost grown out again!)

Dealing with the two of you took time to get used to. As you would scream non-stop Fia, Esme you would demand. I was a walking zombie due to the no sleep factor and it was only a matter of time before Daddy would find the iron in the fridge.

I had no patience for your impatience Esme. In fact, I had zero tolerance for your impatience Esme, and I’m sorry about that. The television was on. A lot. 

To top having a baby sister arrive, you also began a new nursery in the same week. Yet again, you showed what a resilient little thing you are, as you took it all in your stride – aside from having no patience of course. Getting you there on time (9.30am) took all my efforts initially. I will always remember Fia howling and you shouting to be heard over her, 'Mummy, can I ride my scooter?' – Invariably you did.

I did receive a call from nursery sometime into your first term. They wanted me to have your hearing checked as they thought there was a problem. I knew of course that there was a problem - her name was Sofia and your world was turned upside down. 

We had your hearing checked, it was perfect. I remember you sat in the office at a table wearing headphones. Every time you heard a pitched peep, you had to put a farm animal in a pot. Clearly bored, and clearly hearing fine, you made me laugh out loud, when you removed the headphones, nodded to them, and whispered, 'Mummy, I want some of these in pink.' You've always been such a girl! - Apart from the time you actually lifted your leg to pass wind, age two.

After a morning at nursery you would always eat a good lunch – your favourite being scrambled egg. Or pasta. If you could get your hands on chocolate then you would be ecstatic. You would always show it to Sofia before eating it up. Not to be unkind, quite the opposite. You wanted to share the excitement. And with chocolate, it was never a case of eating it up as fast as you possibly could, no, strangely from the first time you tasted it, you would lick it, nibble it, and delectably savour it for as long as was possible. And amazingly, there wouldn't be any chocolate lost to your cheeks or chin.

I will always love watching you eat chocolate.

I will always love watching you.

I will always love you.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

A letter to Sofia Faith (part 2)

The time since you've been with us Sofia has been fraught and fractious. You began to scream when you were 24 hours old and you screamed constantly for the first four months, until pretty much Christmastime, when your present to us was a new found calmness.

Yes, like Esme, you've had tummy troubles too. The wonderful paediatric consultant that we saw with her, would later tell me with you, that to have a first allergic baby was rotten luck, but to have a second… was just rotten. Oh poor me!

So you both had tough starts, and I guess because of that, so did Daddy and I too. Just like Esme, you were lactose intolerant and allergic to dairy. But it was by Christmas that I'd managed to work it all out. I managed to breastfeed you by being dairy-free myself. Although breast-feeding came with its own difficulties. My kahunas were so so massive, it was difficult for you to feed without suffocating! 

In time, you were on a prescription formula that suited you, taking baby Gaviscon for the terrible colic and silent reflux that plagued all our days and nights.

I survived on four hours sleep a night for the first six months. Daddy spent many a night on the sofa with earplugs. You took ages to loose the foetal position. You kept your hands up in your face for the first two months, maybe a little more. 

You loved a dummy. It certainly brought you comfort. Just as well. You didn’t smile for three months due to pain. And then your smiles were sporadic. You were dubbed a disgruntled Churchill, and earned the nickname Winnie. 

Bless you. You had it hard. But then I think we all had it hard...

Two days in...

A letter to Sofia Faith (part 1)

You weren’t named immediately my darling. We were so elated that it had all gone so smoothly and that we had you here with us. That first hour with you was precious. The room was quiet and we were left to ourselves to stare at you in wonder and awe.

Daddy wanted to call you Sofia. And as he had just that moment before given me a beautiful eternity ring, I could hardly say no. Besides, I liked Faith for a middle name, and the writer in me, loved how the 'fia' and the 'Fai' sat together. So that was that. Although, as time has gone on you have shown solidly that you truly suit Mabel, and I've often used it for you, with great affection.

Oh that affection. We loved you so fiercely from the moment we held you. Our new life, our little sister for Esme Grace. Our Sofia Faith.

You weighed 8lb and I was pleased to see you had a few folds on you. Many bracelets of skin overlapping on each arm. How we could not stop watching you; taking in every detail there was to take. You had a little dot of a mark on your right earlobe that resembled a piercing - the very same as Esme. 

As we watched you in that first hour, you watched right back at us with your gorgeous wide open blue eyes. Our lives had changed yet again forever.

There was of course one person missing in that room the night you were born. Little Esme Grace. She met you the following afternoon when she climbed up on the hospital bed and peered in the little perspex cot beside it. Seeing you, she said to me, ‘I love her Mummy.’ Seriously, those were her first words.

and Grace met Faith for the first time

Thursday, 18 July 2013

A baby after miscarriage? And the point is...

To pass the point in pregnancy, where you last lost a pregnancy, your heart skips a beat. 

To pass the point in pregnancy, where you've had both your scans and find out everything is alright, your heart skips another beat. 

To pass the point in pregnancy, when that pregnancy becomes viable, you breathe a massive sigh of relief. And your heart skips a few more beats.

To pass the point in pregnancy of your due date, again you breathe a massive sigh of relief. And your heart skips a few more beats.

When you pass the point of giving birth to your baby, you cry tears of joy. 

And then you smile. Properly. Completely. And possibly for the first time that entire pregnancy. 

And when you pass that very point, and you finally hold your baby, your heart simply skips.

Even more down to earth with a bump (16)

Welcome Sofia Faith (PART 2)

As we were getting in the car, Simon stopped to chat to a neighbour. The enormity of how close our baby was to arriving, simply didn't register with him. But I was all too aware. 

Sitting was impossible, instead I leant over the back seat. As Simon began to drive he clocked me in the rear view. Then at last, he decided to put his foot down. Finally, he realised. Perhaps it was because by now, I was unable to talk. We flew 100mph up the A3.

Even more down to earth with a bump (15)

Welcome Sofia Faith (PART 1)

Sofia Faith was born September 1st, 2011. She came into the world in a hurry and almost arrived on the A3 whilst racing toward Royal Surrey Hospital. Within 30minutes of being there, she was in my arms. And I was in love.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Even more down to earth with a bump (14)

continuing my journey of Sofia Faith's pregnancy

This week I’ve had no niggles whatsoever and the backache and period pain has ceased. The thrush however is still present. Persistent or what? The midwife said the conditions 'down there' are perfect for it to thrive. Have invested in a hefty probiotic tablet to try and counteract it. I hear that the probiotic is also good for preventing colic. We will see... but that would be amazing.

I'm almost there; approaching my due date. I'm feeling very positive. At this point in the pregnancy, I'm happy that our baby is getting to develop its lungs fully, although I'm aware that the babe is getting bigger every day. ;-(

At night time, I'm now waking up at least four times for a wee. ;-(

The baby is not engaged or even remotely low for that matter. Apparently baby number two doesn't necessarily engage - they pop in and out and up and down all the time. Come to think of it, Esme didn't engage fully either. She was very high up, when I was induced and she was forced into making her journey out of me way before she was ready. She was so poorly though. (I'd use a further sad face here but it goes against the writer in me).

The midwife measured me and I am 44cms. SHOCK! HORROR! A whole four cm bigger than I ought to be. (If you go by the books that is). Pah! What do the books know?! However, I have galloped in size. 

They're sending me for an obsterician appointment. Not just because I'm measuring big for dates but because my urine sample has shown  up a high white cell count. Of course this indicates infection. And yes, I still have thrush. I'm actually rather worried now.

Almost due and fit to burst!

Even more down to earth with a bump (13)

continuing my record of Sofia Faith's pregnancy

Has been a positively lovely week. It started with a chilled out weekend and a wonderful MLD massage which gave me a real boost of energy. Lately I've felt exhausted just climbing the stairs.

I went out for a meal with some girlfriends and actually felt normal again - not pregnant. I enjoyed myself immensely. Probably haven't done enough of that, these last few weeks.

I ticked off two of the three outstanding pieces of work I'd left to write and put feelers out for the fourth. I am getting there. I suppose writing really ought to take a back seat and I should pack that hospital bag!

Esme has been both settled and happy. AND talking about the baby a lot more than usual. As if she knows it's soon. It is just as well she is being so good for me in the day – I am not sleeping well at night. My bump is cumbersome and uncomfortable. Plus I've had thrush as well this week. Sorry about that. Oh the joys of pregnancy.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Summer's arrived

So the rails are buckling at Waterloo. So the M25 is melting. So the UK has been basking in above average temperatures all week. So the heat wave is set to continue... So I am  (we are) loving it. Woo-hoo!

Friday, 12 July 2013

All talk

Wowzers - Sofia Faith (mischeivous 22mo) clearly has the chatter gene as well. 

This evening she came out with her first ever sentence - and it was seven words long: 

"Esme, lay down with me, night-night."

(Instigating pretend play sleep - My favourite game)

Esme Grace's first ever school report... fine. Actually pretty good, considering she is not going to be five until the very end of August. 

I know she is a friendly, gregarious little girl. I know she has difficulty concentrating at times, and finds listening tricky. I know she loves a good chat. In fact, I know she doesn't shut up. So, this particular line cracked me up: 
Esme can skilfully hold a conversation whilst involved in a different activity.
 My little one is already a woman huh?!

We are excited about...

...the new Disney themed Aqua Ears. 

Apparently, they're perfect for little ones learning to swim. And those splashing about in the pool. 

Sounds ideal for our two little girls on their summer holiday away in a few weeks time!

Do look out for the review on the GraceFaith blog. It'll be coming just as soon as our LIFE AS IT IS allows us to test them out. Yippee... roll on Spain and Lyme Regis!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Even more down to earth with a bump (12)

Continuing my record of Sofia Faith's pregnancy

I saw the Midwife for my last Anti-D jab. My urine sample and my blood pressure are both normal and it would appear that this oh so easy pregnancy continues in an oh so easy manner. 

OMG I spoke to soon. It has become clear I'm overdoing it. I am suddenly tired and the bump is far heavier. Also, not so good, I've been having cramps. Loads of them. 

I've mentioned it to my midwife; she's told me to rest. As if?! But ahem, actually by midweek this week, I finally admited to myself and my baby, that I do need to slow down. 

My cramps turned to contractions, and forget Braxton hicks, full on labour kicked in, fast and furious. Diarrhoea was the first sign. Pain was the second. Goodness. Huffing and puffing, I went straight to bed. 

Fortunately laying horizontally eventually appeared to calm things down again. However, all night I was awake with lower back pain, and the following morning heavy period pain. Honestly, I thought our babe was on its way; and it's far too soon.

Truly time to take it easy me thinks. 

N.B. Listen to your body as well as your midwife.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013


Q. When is a bar of soap not a bar of soap?
A. When you have a Fia in the house.

A first lesson in mortality for my young child

Over the last few days I've come to realise the fish episode taught Esme a great lesson in life. Her first in mortality. 

Death is a toughie for a child to comprehend. But if they have to go through it at an early age, then the passing of a goldfish is a good first time experience to help them understand the concept that not all things live in our world forever. 

I felt touched, that Esme was not only happy to have Fred the second swimming energetically about the bowl, but that she clearly felt some form of allegiance to Fred the first; for she told me that she was still a little sad about what had happened to him. 

To help with this, and at the good advice of a friend, Esme drew a picture of her and Fred the first, to keep him company under the sunflower. It gave her an understanding that his spirit lives on, even though he is in a box underneath the sunflower in the garden. 

So as twee as it may appear to be (being a fish and all), I actually think the whole experience of Fred's passing has helped my precious 4yo girl understand the concept of death. Helped her to realise that living things do come to an end. And that when that happens, their body is disposed of and their spirit lives on.

Fundamentally, it'll definitely do for now, and then, when she is older, she can make up her own mind as to heaven... hell... religion... spirituality and the such.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Swim swim swim, forever more up in the fish place in the sky.

It was a brief service. It took all of two minutes.
The sun shone. Then it went behind a cloud. 
And then he was gone.
Under the sunflower that has yet to burst into life.
Perhaps it will very soon now?
Farewell dear Fred.
Rest in peace. 

I only hope that the neighbouring cats leave you alone.

Friday, 5 July 2013

A sad day for Fred

This morning Esme found Fred, one of our fish, trapped in the new piece of weed we put in the tank last week. She came running into the kitchen to tell me, 'Mummy, Fred is very clever. Come and see.' My heart sunk.

I went and looked, half hoping he was floating on the top - I could have dealt with that better. But the poor thing was stuck in between two bits of weed. No longer struggling to get free; clearly exhausted. 

I let him go immediately. But Fred failed to open up. Still shaped like a letter 'c' where he had managed to spend (I presume) all night curled around the fat stem. I could see it wouldn't be long. 

With no energy left to swim, he was quickly sucked toward the filter, to be stuck there too for a moment. Horrified, I turned the filter off, and swallowed the lump that had formed in my throat.  

Esme worked it all out for herself. Her eyes filled with tears as she fell into my lap. "My fish is dying isn't it Mummy." Shocked by her understanding (her first brush with death), I hushed her calm. It didn't last long though and when we got to school, she burst into tears again. 

The teacher took my precious little 4yo girl by the hand into teddy corner. It was the first time this entire reception year that I've left her upset. Sobbing even. I haven't been able to stop thinking about her and the 3pm pick-up can't come quick enough. All over a fish. I feel this may perhaps be another very valid reason why not to have a dog... 

So water or ground burial do u think?

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Wednesday, 3 July 2013


Today I was delighted to be included in the first ever poetry and prose round up on Britmums, alongside some other really great bloggers. Thanks to Vicky Welton for picking up on my words.

Spice things up with this sweet chilli sauce recipe

Love sweet chilli sauce? You are not alone. But how many of us actually make it from fresh? Sister Kate from Ecuador sent me this ever so easy recipe a while back. It's so good, I thought I should share it... Question is, will you be sharing yours?!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Ahoy there mates! About that there Bounty of freebies, and a whole lot more, that you don't necessarily want...(2)

I had two children three years apart and each experience with the Bounty rep was negative. Sadly. Although the first was far worse. 

Ahoy there mates! About that there Bounty of freebies, and a whole lot more, that you don't necessarily want... (1)

I’m not sure why I’m bothering to write this post, as after a session on Twitter yesterday, I feel drained at the prospect. But yes, there is a Bounty Mutiny, and I am now compelled to join in. I’ll keep it brief.