Although I would have loved to have kept breastfeeding both my boys until they no longer needed me to, it didn’t happen for us for a variety of reasons. I wrote about my breastfeeding story with Toby here, and the moment I realised my time breastfeeding Gabe was coming to an end here. I am very grateful for the fact that follow on formula exists and that I was able to feed Toby and Gabe in a way that worked for us.
We started weaning both boys at six months and followed a combination of spoon feeding and babyled weaning. It took Toby a month or two to really get the hang of eating solids but after that he would eat pretty much anything I put in front of him. He would eat the same foods as us and I was happy that he was getting all the nutrients and vitamins that he needed.
If you’ve read my blog before then you may well be aware that I have not been blessed with children who like to sleep. In fact if we include the sleeplessness induced by pregnancy then I am probably looking at about four years now of broken sleep. So when we were invited to the Trafford Centre in Manchester last week for the launch of BookTrust‘s Bath Book Bed campaign with their ambassador Jo Frost I was eager to go along and see if we could get some help!
BookTrust is the UK’s largest children’s reading charity and they work to inspire a love of reading in children. They also know that lack of sleep is one of the hardest parts of being a parent and that getting them to sleep can be one of the biggest challenges. And that’s why they have teamed up with parenting expert Jo Frost to try and help some of those sleep deprived parents. They’re also getting a little help from Peppa Pig too!
If you’re a regular reader you may have heard me mention that I have been in quite a lot of musicals in my time. I started dance classes when I was four and have pretty much been appearing on stage ever since. I have always loved watching movie musicals too – there’s something about a musical that just makes you feel so happy.
I thought I’d share some of my favourite movie musicals with you – most of these I first saw at home, and a lot of them when I was young back in the days when we had TVs half the size they are now. I’d love to see them on the big screen at the cinema though, or maybe even better, in the comfort of my own home on a 4K TV from Panasonic!
So here’s my list, in no particular order…
(I decided to leave out any animated films, so no Disney here I’m afraid)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
I can’t actually remember ever not having seen Seven Brides for Seven Brothers! I must have been really young when I first saw it, which is no surprise given it was one of my mum’s favourite films – she saw it something like seven or eight times at the cinema when it came out in 1954! I think we must have had a copy on video that we had recorded off the telly and I remember watching it loads when I was a kid. If you’ve not seen it you really should, it’s got some fabulous dancing and super-catchy tunes.
Slightly controversial here but I think I actually prefer Grease 2 to the original Grease film! It has a few of the same characters, a sort of similar story line, but it is just so cheesy. Plus it has a young Michelle Pfeiffer and the really rather sexy Maxwell Caulfield in it – the film almost ruined his career before it had started but he did go on to appear in Dynasty and its spin off The Colbys.
Johnny Depp singing. Do I need to say anymore? Sweeney Todd is a fabulous Stephen Sondheim musical. I love the lyrics and I’m a big fan of a sung through musical with no dialogue. The film version of Sweeney Todd also stars Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall and is the story of a barber who kills people and has them turned into pies. What’s not to like?
Singin’ the Rain
Surely there can’t be anyone out there who doesn’t love Singin’ in the Rain? It’s a movie musical classic and has so many fantastic songs and dances. It’s one of my ultimate feel good movies and will always put a smile on my face whenever I watch it. Although I think the iconic title song is brilliant I think my favourite song from this film has to be Moses supposes. Or Good Morning. Or All I do is dream of you. Or Make ’em laugh. Oh, I don’t know, they’re all brilliant, just watch the film already!
A Chorus Line
I knew one of the songs from A Chorus Line long before I ever saw the film. ‘One’ is the last song in the film and I love watching the stage fill with more and more dancers. It’s a very simple film really, with nearly all the action taking place on stage in an empty theatre as dancers auditioning to be in a chorus line (do you see what they did there) tell their stories. The only really well known actor in the film is Michael Douglas (although he doesn’t sing or dance) and I’ve just found out in researching for this post that it was directed by Richard Attenborough!
Hairspray is another fabulous feel good film. I’ve never seen the original film with Ricki Lake playing Tracey Turnblad but the 2007 musical version with John Travolta and Zac Efron is brilliant. The songs are so catchy and it has a great message too. And I defy you to listen to You can’t stop the beat and not want to dance!
Mary Poppins is another of those classics that I can’t remember not having seen. I must have watched it when I was very little and I can’t remember how many times I’ve seen it since. I was listening to an interview with Dick Van Dyke a while ago and he was explaining why his cockney accent was so awful – apparently the studio would only hire a vocal coach to work with him for one day, and the vocal coach was Irish!
I love the choreography of Bob Fosse and I was tempted to pick Chicago as one of my top movie musicals. But the film of Chicago doesn’t actually feature Fosse’s choreography and although I do like the film I much prefer the stage show. And so I picked Sweet Charity. I’ve actually been in this musical myself too. It’s not a very well known musical really but features the iconic song Big Spender. I think if I had to pick my favourite scene though it would be the dance sequence ‘Rich Man’s Frug’ – it’s just so weird and completely irrelevant to the plot!
I remember being so exited when I heard about Moulin Rouge – a new movie musical that wasn’t based on a stage show, written and directed by Baz Luhrman, and starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman. It promised great things and as far as I’m concerned it delivered. I love the way pop songs are woven into the story and Ewan McGregor singing Come What May is just adorable.
This is another musical, like A Chorus Line, that I saw in the theatre and didn’t really enjoy but then loved the film. It’s another sung through musical and I think I know every single word – I love putting the soundtrack on in the car and singing along. I remember when the film version of Evita came out and no-one was really sure if Madonna would be able to pull it off. I think she does, and if you don’t then at least you can just enjoy Antonio Banderas instead.
So there you have it – my top ten movie musicals. I know I’ve missed loads of favourites out (The Sound of Music, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Oliver, Annie, High School Muscial, Little Shop of Horrors, West Side Story, Les Misérables to name a few…) but I would have been here all day if I’d done my top 20!
Have I missed out any of your favourites? Let me know in the comments below – maybe you love a movie musical I haven’t even seen yet!
Next week is our fifth wedding anniversary – we were very lucky in that my parents paid for most of our wedding. But even though we weren’t paying we did our best to keep our budget to a sensible level. I think we spent about £8,000 altogether – which is way less than the UK average of nearly £25,000!
I don’t mean to ruin it for the romantics, but did you know what one of the biggest causes of divorce is? Debt, and financial problems. And spending a small fortune on your wedding is the quickest way to get yourselves off on the wrong foot financially.
It’s a fine line to tread, but there is a solution: trimming the costs of your big day, without impacting on any of the fun, enjoyment and memories. Here are some of the best ways to do it: Read more
I know everyone with children says it, but kids really do grow up so quickly and my two are no exception. No sooner is the nursery decorated and prepared for the arrival of a new born, than it is time to redecorate to accommodate the growing child who sees the nursery décor as just too babyish. In an ideal world, you will probably get a good few years out of the nursery decor, but as your child grows and establishes his or her own preferences (Bing bunny anyone?), it becomes apparent that the cute border and cot bed are no longer up to your child’s impeccable standards! As we have just moved house and the boys have started sharing a room it meant we left Toby’s old nursery behind and had to decorate a new room for them both. If you want to ensure you aren’t continuously redecorating it is a good idea to choose a modern theme that will also see your child into the forthcoming years. As we have just faced the same dilemma ourselves, I thought I’d share a little of my research with you – I hope it helps!
A Bed that dreams are made of
Kids change their minds on a whim and although they may have once insisted they will love their themed bed forever, you can be certain that they won’t. Instead of going for fads, invest in a durable bed which will stand the test of time and entertain their whims with themed duvet covers instead. Toby is currently in a full size single bed but I think a three quarter sized metal bed is a great idea for older kids as it will see them through until their teen years, and all you will have to do is change the mattress every few years. Small doubles (also known as three quarter size beds) are a great way to make your child feel a little more grown up and don’t take up as much room as a full-sized double. I’ve taken quite a fancy to the Bedstar range of small double beds as they are well within our price range and are really quite stylish.
Storage is a must!
The one mistake parents often make when buying furniture for their child’s bedroom is to think in miniature: small wardrobes, tiny desks, and incy wincy bookshelves. These may look great for a while, but are completely impractical for a growing child. Buy a full sized wardrobe that will fit their increasing clothes collection and install bookshelves that won’t look childish in years to come. We’ve actually just bought a new triple wardrobe (which is currently in our bedroom) for all the boys clothes. Storage will encourage your child to put things away which will make any parent happy! After all, you can’t complain about a messy room if they have nowhere to put all their stuff, can you?
Keep them involved
Giving your child a say in their newly styled bedroom will make them more willing to take care of it, so let them know early on what they can select for their room. Pictures, bedding and accessories such as bean bags and cushions are easily changed so allow them to choose items such as these which reflect their own personal tastes. Letting your child make decisions like these can also make the process a lot more enjoyable too, and not just for your child, but for you too, so be prepared to compromise – just a little! Toby isn’t really old enough to have much of an opinion yet but we did let him decide whether to stick with the space theme from our old house or choose something new. He stuck with space and I’ll be sharing a full room tour as soon as we’ve managed to get the shelves up and add the last few finishing touches.
According to the NHS website ‘colic is the name for excessive, frequent crying in a baby who appears to be otherwise healthy. It’s a common problem that affects up to one in five babies.’ This crying usually happens in the evening and can go on for several hours at a time. There are some other indicators that your baby may be suffering from colic; baby draws knees up to his chest, baby has a swollen stomach, baby passes wind more than usual. If your baby has some or all of these symptoms then it is likely that they are suffering with colic.
It isn’t really know what causes colic – it may be trapped wind, indigestion or some other discomfort but the truth is that no one really knows. As long as your baby is gaining weight, feeding normally and seems otherwise well then colic is usually nothing to worry about. Most babies will grow out of colic when they are between four and six months old.
However, there may be other causes for excessive crying in babies. I have had two babies with reflux and I know that in the past reflux was often dismissed as colic when in fact it is something which can be treated with medication if necessary. Things like allergies and intolerance can also present with similar symptoms. If you are at all worried you should always speak to your GP or health visitor.
So having said that colic isn’t usually something to worry about it doesn’t make it any easier to live with. I know how heart breaking, and exhausting it can be to deal with a baby that won’t stop crying for hours on end. I have been there so many times…rocking, pacing, singing, pushing, shushing…doing everything I can think of to try and get my babies to stop crying.
There are a few things you can try though to try and ease the symptoms of colic;
try to make sure you are winding your baby thoroughly after every feed.
an over the counter remedy such as Infacol may help to release trapped wind.
carrying your baby in a sling can really help to calm them – being upright against the warmth of your body can be very comforting. I can remember spending hours with Toby in a stretchy wrap walking up and down the living room to get him to settle.
a walk in the pram or a drive in the car can sometimes help.
white noise works brilliantly for some babies – you can get apps for your phone, or why not try the vacuum cleaner, a hairdryer or the washing machine. I have sat both my boys in their bouncy chairs in front of the washing machine before now!
baby massage can be very comforting for a baby, and also help to release trapped wind. I went to a baby massage course run by my local health visitors but there are lots of videos available online too.
Colic can be awful to live with, both for you and your baby, especially if you don’t have a lot of support. If you can then do speak to your partner, family and friends and take whatever help you can get. Even getting someone to take the baby out for a walk for half an hour while you have a shower, or a nap, or even just sit and stare into space with a hot cup of tea, can make the world of difference!
Motherhood is one of those experiences where you can read all of the books in the world on how to cope and still be completely baffled and unprepared once your little bundle of joy arrives. Whether you’ve considered redecorating the entire house in preparation or are just trying to baby-proof your existing space, you will quickly learn that it helps to have some kind of order to the home to make it the right place to bring up baby.
Tip 1: De-clutter
I don’t know about you but my drawers are packed full of junk. Everything from old bills to used batteries and things you don’t even recognise as cluttering up the place. If you want to make the home more organised, you’ll soon realise you have to make a start on de- cluttering.
Be absolutely ruthless when deciding what to throw out. A general rule to follow is if you haven’t used it in the last six months, it’s likely you’re not going to be using it again any time soon. It’s amazing how much better you’ll feel after you’ve tidied out the drawers.
Tip 2: Keep it short
One of the biggest mistakes made by many new mums when trying to redecorate is to do everything at once. You’re not superwoman so don’t take on too much. The key is to break down the tasks into small sections. Perhaps you could work on one room at a time.
Once baby arrives, you can do something small every day while your little one is sleeping. It could be hanging up new curtains, rearranging furniture, wallpapering one wall, or cleaning your sash windows; just be sure to do little tasks every day and you’ll be delighted by what you can accomplish.
Tip 3: Keep it neutral
How many times have you heard ‘they grow up so fast’? Well guess what – they weren’t kidding. Before you know it, your little one will be out of nappies and ready to start school. When decorating the nursery, keep it neutral. Don’t wallpaper the whole room in novelty baby prints. Keep it neutral to minimise the amount of work you need to do later on.
Redecorating is hard work ladies; especially with a newborn in tow. However, these simple tips it will make your life so much easier before or after the birth.
We redecorated Toby’s room before he was born – it’s the only room we’ve decorated since we moved in nearly three years ago! Did you redecorate ready for your wee one’s arrival?