Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger AwardSo the very lovely Donna at Redhead Babyled has been kind enough to nominate me for a Versatile Blogger Award. I’m fairly new to this parent blogging lark but I do try and write about a variety of different things and hopefully there’s something to interest everyone.

The rules to the Versatile Blogger award are as follows…

1)  in your post, be sure to thank the blogger that nominated you
2)  write seven facts about yourself and nominate seven other bloggers
3)  you must use the versatile blogger award image on your post

Right then – seven facts about me…

1) I was born and brought up in the Vegas of the north – Blackpool! My parents still live there so I visit regularly but I hated it growing up and I can’t imagine I would ever go back to live there. I did once spend the night at the top of Blackpool Tower though which is pretty cool!

2) I started dancing when I was four years old and until recently still went to dance classes. I have appeared on stage in over 20 pantomimes and musicals; the most recent being The Sound of Music in 2012. When I was a teenager I danced in two summer shows in the Tower Ballroom (the very same one where Strictly Come Dancing is filmed when they go to Blackpool!)

3) I have a degree in French and Social Sciences (Economics and Social Anthropology) from Manchester University.

4) I lived and worked in France for six years on and off – from 1998 to 2003. I mostly worked on campsites but also did a ski season and spent one memorable winter working in an industrial laundry!

5) At the age of 31 I decided to retrain as a teacher and I have been a French teacher for the last three years. I am currently studying for a Graduate Diploma in Spanish so that when I return to work from my maternity leave I will be able to teach both languages.

6) I love the USA. I’ve been on two American road trips; one from San Francisco to LA to The Grand Canyon and then Las Vegas on my own in 2010. I had just met the man who was to become my husband before I went and we kept in touch on Twitter and email while I was away. By the time I came back and we met up again we had already fallen in love! The second road trip was for our honeymoon in 2012. We went from Boston to Vermont (just so we could go to the Ben & Jerry’s factory!), through upstate New York to Philadelphia and then down the New Jersey and Maryland coast to Washington DC before flying home. Amazing! I would love our next road trip to be to Memphis, Nashville and the Deep South… but we might have to wait a while before that one!

7) I play the ukulele.

And now I have to choose seven other bloggers to nominate (and try and find those who haven’t been nominated already!). Here goes…

The Laughing Owls

My Petit Canard

My Life As A Mummy


You Baby Me Mummy

Northumberland Mam

Tea Is The Answer

And many thanks again to Redhead Babyled for nominating me!


Knitting Friday #3

Knitted elf hat

It’s finished! (Almost). When I had completed the hat it was slightly too small (from the top down the sides) so I picked up all the stitches along the neck edge and free-styled a band in red wool to match the band around the face. I just knitted a couple of rows and then five rows of knit one, purl one rib to match the other bit. I then decreased on two rows before casting off.

Knitted elf hat

I am still planning on lining the hat with fleece but I haven’t hand chance to do it yet. There is still a pompom to be added to the plait coming from the top too. I’m going to do that tonight so that Toby can wear it for his party tomorrow. And I promise I’ll post a photo of Toby in his whole elf outfit after we’ve been!

Becky over at The Laughing Owls has a Knitting Friday post too – last week she had just started on the sleeves for Little Owl’s jumper so why don’t you pop over and see how much progress she has made this week.

Toby is five months old!

Toby at five months old

Another month gone. Time really does fly! Toby is now five months old and he is an absolute superstar! If you read my post about a possible four month sleep regression (and are possibly going through the same thing!) then you’ll be pleased to hear that things are almost back to normal in the sleep department. Toby is back to sleeping from 6:30 pm to 8 am probably five days out of seven and if he does wake up it’s just for one feed then straight back to sleep. That three weeks of waking up two, three or even four times a night must have been some sort of growth spurt I think because Toby went from 14lb 2oz to 15lb 13oz in three weeks, when he’d only put on 14oz in the four weeks before that! He is getting longer and longer (or taller, depending which way you look at it) too. I measured him the other day and he is 69cm which puts him almost in the 98th centile for his height, while he is only in the 25th centile for weight! He has grown out of all his 3-6 month sleepsuits and vests now, although separates are still OK. I can’t believe how quickly Toby is going through clothes – it’s good news for my friend’s two month old twins though!

We still haven’t got much movement – Toby has managed to roll from his front to his back a couple of times but it isn’t something he does often. He can also sit up unaided for a minute or so but still loses his balance quite easily. The newest development is that Toby has just found his feet! Whenever he is lying on his back he lifts his legs up and grabs his toes. It’s funny to see the slightly confused look on his face when he’s got stripey socks on! He loves to stand up when we hold his hands too. I can see he’s just itching to get moving. He gets really frustrated after a few minutes on his tummy because he’s trying so hard but just can’t quite work out how to move anywhere.

We haven’t started weaning – and on that note, no teeth yet either, although I don’t think they’re far away. We’re planning on waiting until Toby is six months and then going down the baby-led weaning route. He is starting to get more interested in food though. I’ve been sitting him on my knee while I eat lunch and he’s started grabbing (and squishing!) my sandwiches, although he hasn’t tried to put any food in his mouth as yet. We’ve also started keeping him up a bit later a few nights a week so he can sit with us (in his Bumbo seat on the table) while we have our dinner to get him used to the routine. The hope is it will be more normal for him when he comes to start eating with us. I’m really looking forward to starting our weaning adventures – I can’t wait to see Toby’s face when he tries different tastes for the first time!

Toby’s personality is showing more and more every day. He’s so noisy these days, always making funny squeaks and babbles. It’s the cutest thing and he really does sound like he’s joining in a conversation sometimes. He’s growing up so quickly. I know people say you shouldn’t wish away the baby years because you’ll miss them when they’re gone…But I have to admit that I’m enjoying Toby much more now than when he was a tiny baby. I found it really hard work looking after him when I didn’t get any reaction from him but now he smiles and laughs (and hardly ever cries!) and it’s just so rewarding.

So over the coming month we’ve got Toby’s first Christmas and the start of weaning to look forward to. I can’t wait to see what else it has in store!

Review – Hobbycraft Christmas Crafts

I was recently asked to review some Christmas craft bits and pieces by the UK’s largest arts and crafts retailer Hobbycraft. I do love a bit of crafting but it’s not something I seem to have a lot of time for lately!

I was sent a red felt stocking filled with various Christmas craft items – none of which retail for more than £2. I was pleased to see this as I sometimes think that making things yourself can end up being more expensive than buying things ready made if you aren’t careful. Most of the items are available on the Hobbycraft website although I do think that if you have a store near you (and there are loads) then shopping for these kind of things tends to be much more fun if you can browse in the shop.

Hobbycraft Christmas Craft Pack

So some of the items in the stocking were:

Foam Clay Santa Kit / Foam Stickers / Gingerbread man stickers / Gold cards / Merry Christmas stickers (which don’t seem to be on the website)

The stocking itself isn’t on the website either but there are some pre-decorated stockings and a great video with some ideas of how you can decorate your own stocking. There’s a great variety of products on the Hobbycraft website for any Christmas crafting you might like to do – whether it’s making a wreath, your own decorations or your own Christmas cards.

I have to confess I haven’t had chance to use all the things I was sent yet. I have decorated the stocking using some bits and pieces I had left over from previous projects. I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out – the felt stocking seems very well made so hopefully it will last Toby for many Christmases to come. I was going to buy him a stocking but I think it’s lovely that he’s now got one that I have personalised for him – it makes it extra special!

Decorated stocking

I’ve also used the Merry Christmas and foam stickers to make some gift tags – something I never seem to have enough of when it comes to present wrapping time. I had some small luggage tags left over from our wedding so I used those and just stuck the stickers on. Toby is a bit little for crafting at the moment but I know kids love stickers and if he was a bit older sticking on the foam stickers is definitely something he could help with. The Merry Christmas stickers are a bit fiddly though – even for a grown up!

Gift tags

The glittery gingerbread men stickers are lovely – I think I’m actually going to pop some string on them and just hang them on the tree. And as for the Foam Clay Santa kit (which makes a small model Santa), I think the hubby has got his eye on that one!

I had great fun with my Christmas crafts – I’m looking forward to doing much more arts and crafts as Toby gets a bit older and Hobbycraft certainly have everything we might need. I sense a trip to our nearest store coming up in the not to distant future – or we can always order online. Standard delivery is £2.95 which seems quite reasonable, or free for orders over £30. And having a quick browse around website I’m sure I could spend £30 quite easily – I’ve got craft-lust! I’ve not really had time to do anything crafty since Toby was born so I’m pleased I got this opportunity to be re-inspired. Thanks Hobbycraft!

**Disclaimer: We were sent these items to review. However, all opinions are my own.

Squeaking baby (The Ordinary Moments #5)

I’m linking up with Katie at Mummy Daddy Me again this week for some more ‘Ordinary Moments’.

Toby is showing his personality more and more each day. He’s become really vocal in the last couple of weeks – his favourite sound seems to be a really high pitched squeak that he really builds up to before it eventually comes out!

Hopefully, if this has worked, you should be able to see a video of him squeaking below!

mummy daddy me

Knitting Friday #2

Here’s progress so far on Toby’s Elf hat.

Knitted elf hat

I’ve only got another few rows to knit – I need to check because for a big baby Toby has a surprisingly small head! When that’s done it’s just sewing up, a few ties and pompoms and it’s done. Although actually I think I’m also going to line it with fleece to make it warmer and stop it stretching out of shape.

The Baby Sensory Christmas Party for which this hat is needed is next Saturday so it’ll have to be finished by then. Come back next week and you’ll be able to see the finished article (fingers crossed!).

Becky over at The Laughing Owls always has a Knitting Friday post too – why don’t you pop over and see what she’s been up to this week.

Operation shift the baby weight – one month update

A month ago I decided it was time to start doing something about losing the 3 stone I put on while pregnant with Toby. After a four month experiment (i.e. just eating whatever I fancied) it turned out that it wasn’t going to disappear on its own!

So, how are things going? Very well I’d say! I’ve been using the My Fitness Pal app to monitor my calorie intake. It’s really easy to use – there is a massive database of any kind of food you could think of including branded and supermarket own brand products. You just search for what you need, or you can even scan the barcode if you’re using a smartphone, and add it to your daily diary. Only once was I not able to find the product I was looking for but then it’s easy to add the nutritional information yourself and that also makes it available for other people to search. You can also save a meal which is a really handy feature for me – we only have about a dozen evening meals that we eat regularly so once they have been entered the first time I can just copy the whole meal. You can also use the app to keep track of any exercise you do and the calories burned are added to your daily allowance.

So using the app I have kept track of what I have been eating and I have to say I really don’t feel like I’m on a diet – which was my aim all along. I have had plenty of treats this month – there’s been cake, chocolate and even a glass or two of wine!

And so to the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

Here’s the progress I’ve made (I’ve included my starting point in brackets):

Weight: 13st 3lb (13st 8lb) – lost 5lb

Waist: 35 inches (37 inches) – lost 2 inches

Hips: 44inches (45.5 inches) – lost 1.5 inches

Bust: 41 inches (42 inches) – lost 1 inch

I’m really happy with how I’ve done so far. But now I have Christmas to negotiate so we’ll have to wait and see what next month’s update looks like!

Let it Snow!

Toby has never seen the snow but it looks like that might be changing in the next few weeks as the winter weather is really showing itself today. I loved the snow when I was little, although growing up in Blackpool it only ever snowed (and stuck) properly twice in my whole childhood. Once when I was about three and my dad strapped some plastic skis to the bottom of the buggy. The second time was when I was at sixth form and it was closed for three days because they couldn’t clear the snow off the car park! I have a feeling that growing up in Scotland Toby might get to see a bit more snow than I ever did. He doesn’t seem to mind the cold though – as long as he’s wrapped up nice and warm!

Snug as a bug
Toby doesn’t mind the cold!

Even though I’ve lived up here for ten years now I’ve never managed to make it as far as any of the Scottish ski resorts. Scotland is surprisingly big and getting to the Highlands can take longer than getting to London! So it’s been a long time since I’ve been skiing at all. I went on a school ski trip when I was 15 which I really enjoyed (although I think I enjoyed the sneaky beers with my friends as much as the skiing!) and then in the winter of 1999/2000 I was lucky enough to land a job as a Resort Representative in the lovely ski resort of La Tania, in between Courchevel and Meribel in the French Alps. Spending five months in the snow was fantastic but I didn’t get quite as much skiing done as I might have hoped. For one, when you are working in a ski resort there is much more work to be done than there is free time on the slopes. Secondly, after a Christmas Eve slip on a wet pub floor (although I told all my clients it was a skiing accident!) I spent my first ever Christmas Day away from home having x-rays in the doctors and a month in an ankle brace due to torn ligaments!

La Tania
This is where I lived and worked during my ski season.

My husband has also done his fair share of skiing and snowboarding. He was lucky enough to go on family ski holidays most years when he was growing up. However, a ski holiday is something we have never done together, and we haven’t had a holiday at all since Toby was born. With me being a teacher it’s hard to fit in a ski holiday unless we go at Christmas. Up here in Scotland we don’t even get February half term so that’s out too. This year though, while I am on maternity leave, we have the time to fit in a ski break. Unfortunately though, while I am on maternity leave, we don’t have the money to fit in a ski break. And so this is where the lovely people at Mark Warner come in. They are looking for people to become part of their Blogger Family programme and we would love to be chosen.

I know of course, that Toby isn’t old enough to enjoy any skiing yet but lots of the Mark Warner Chalet Hotels have an onsite crèche with fully qualified nannies so we could happily leave Toby to have lots of fun while mummy and daddy went off to explore the slopes. They even provide evening childcare so we could enjoy our dinner (with complimentary wine!) knowing that Toby was being safely looked after. It sounds like bliss – we would get a proper holiday with time to enjoy ourselves and Toby would have fun playing with the other babies.

This year may be the only chance we have for a while to get away on a family ski holiday so we would all be absolutely delighted if Mark Warner chose us to be a part of their Blogger Family.

**This post is part of my entry into the #MarkWarnerMum competition