Sharing the parenting and What he wore

Laurence hasn’t had as much work on this week so he’s been around a bit more. It’s something we always want to embrace with him working freelance. It’s annoying when he has to work away or longer hours but brilliant fun when he gets to spend more time with us.

The girls have loved having him around to “play chase”, do more gardening and even a spot of baking! Admittedly, the TV hasn’t been on as much because someone less burned out than I am is here to keep things going. I’ve been teasing him that he’s better at this home educating/parenting lark than I am and maybe I need to be the one out working.

The truth is, we are all a bit happier when we get to share the load, parenting and working. In an ideal scenario, we’d find a way to hit that sweet spot more so that both of us get to pursue careers part-time (ish) and be with the children. Realistically, that can’t happen right now so it’s about making the most of the flexibility we have been blessed with – and we do have more of that than many families.

Another great thing about having him around more is that I’ve been able to kick through a fair few things on my spring cleaning (nesting?) list, which has meant getting some stuff out of the shed, like our good ol’ indo board, as well as massively decluttering all of our wardrobes. It’s made space for the baby’s things, simplified the morning dressing process for the kids and generally decreased the mountain of washing.

House of Fraser O'Neill t-shirt-2

It’s also made way for adding fun new bits like a T-shirt from House of Fraser. This is the O’Neill O`Riginals Odyssey Print. It’s organic, with a solid big print and a sea reference, always welcome in these parts. Laurence has gone off most of the big surf brands but he respects O’Neill for keeping their focus and doing things well. And I quite like the colour!

Here’s to more Spring days, getting the balance right.

In association with House of Fraser


Funky Giraffe mini baby haul and giveaway

I’ve been collecting a few bits here and there for baby girl number three since we’d given most of our baby things away. Mostly it’s second hand and I’m hoping to make a few bits too (we’ll see!). It’s been quite fun as I didn’t go through this process the first couple of times. In fact, Talitha was dressed in my cousin’s son’s stereotypically “boy” baby clothes. While I really didn’t mind, it’s fun actually choosing things because I like them.

When Funky Giraffe asked if I’d take a look at their collection, I enjoyed picking a few bits and making it an opportunity to give one of you the opportunity to win some of their sweet bibs too.

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In the throes of Spring tulips are fully on my mind, some of ours have opened but many in the garden are just waiting. I’m willing them to be OK as we may have planted them in too shady a spot. Anyway, this tulip bandana bib was just the thing.

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They also do bigger bibs, perfect for when you’re out and about with food and need a bit more coverage. I couldn’t resist snapping up a pair of purple socks. Is there anything sweeter than tiny baby socks?

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I also chose a bib from their bamboo range because it’s such a great fabric for absorbency and is naturally antibacterial too. I like that Funky Giraffe steers away from the typical baby colours and isn’t afraid to go bold and brave.

To win 10 baby bibs* from Funky Giraffe, visit their website and tell me what your favourite print in the bandana bib range is, then enter the Rafflecopter below.

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*Bibs chosen by Funky Giraffe. The winner can ask for girls’, boys’ or gender neutral styles.
UK entrants only

Post brought to you by Funky Giraffe


What I’m loving lately and Win a copy of Modern Romance

It’s been a while since I shared some of the things I’ve been loving lately so I thought I’d welcome the weekend with a little roundup. Let me know anything you’ve been into lately that you think I should checkout.

More time outdoors
What I'm Loving Lately-2 This is such an obvious thing but we are so much happier and healthier when we’re outdoors, aren’t we? The trouble is, I hate winter. Even all bundled up (this was my best winter on the layers front) I think having grown up in a tropical climate makes me particularly susceptible to suffering under the dark and cold. I’ve also been finding that carrying Ophelia or pushing a pushchair leaves me in agony with my ligaments softening in pregnancy.

I’ve been pushing through recently and committing to taking the kids outside once a day and staying out with them, even if it’s just the garden or the park across from where our home ed co-op meets, and it’s really been helping me to cope a bit better with everything else. It helps that we’ve had some warmer, sunnier days recently but I’ve been appreciating that there’s something to be said for a walk through the rain or pushing through the wind too. Ophelia is walking so much now that getting out is far less daunting. She’s also making good strides with learning to ride her scooter.

Peaky Blinders, Vikings and Winter’s Bone
wintersbone We’ve been waiting – it feels like forever – to watch Series 2 of Peaky Blinders. Yes, I know Series 3 is out now but Season 2 only recently came to Netflix. I was repulsed by so much in this series and really went off Cillian Murphey’s character, Tommy Shelby, in the earlier episodes but it’s impossible to stop watching, so beautifully shot and really captures British city bleakness. I only wish we hadn’t flown through the whole series in about a week.

Over on Amazon Video, I’ve been making my way through Series 4 of Vikings. This is one of those shows Laurence and I really should watch together as it appeals to both of us but for some reason we keep catching it when we’re apart. He doesn’t seem to be as into the latest series (maybe not enough full-on battles?) but I continue to be intrigued by what’s happening with Lagertha, the shield maiden turned earl. I have no idea how historical the programme is despite being produced by The History Channel but even if it’s pure historical fantasy, I’m happy to be taken in.

Also, a few weeks ago I watched Winter’s Bone on Netflix while babysitting for a friend and it’s really stayed with me. It’s truly a sign of a quality movie when you can’t stop thinking about it, isn’t it? This is the film Jennifer Lawrence was nominated in the Oscars for a few years ago and I can definitely see why. It’s terrifying, shocking, bleak and reassuring in one hit. I keep recommending it anytime “what have you been watching lately” conversations come up.

All the rainbows
Frugi rainbows Rainbows seem to have taken over children’s clothing. Maybe I’m really suggestible with this sort of thing but I’m desperate to get a hold of some for my girls, especially for Ophelia who is rainbow-mad at the moment. I love this Frugi dress and almost bought it for her birthday but wound up being a bit skint at the time. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get around to making some rainbow clothes. Time to dust off those applique skills.

Creating over consuming
Crocheting baby blanket - Instagram On that note, I’ve felt really convicted recently that I want to make more than consume. There’s a lasting pleasure that comes from creating that the quick thrill of buying just can’t match up to, for me anyway. Crocheting a granny square baby blanket for our baby due in July has been nothing short of therapeutic. I’m really looking forward to wrapping her in it.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
Modern Romance Instagram

Lastly, you might remember me going on about how Netflix’s Master of None was basically the funniest, most culturally literate TV series I’d seen in a long time and that I’d become an Aziz Ansari mega fan as a result. Well, on the back of that, Penguin asked me whether I’d like to check out his new book, Modern Romance and give away a copy. Well, yes I would. So here we go.

The book reads as a hilarious study of how technology, from sexting to online dating to social media, has complicated how people find love today. Ansari is astute in his understanding of people, open about his own experiences, thoughtful and laugh-out-loud funny in turn. He writes as he speaks and if you’ve ever seen his standup comedy, you’ll know that can only be a good thing.

To win a copy of Modern Romance, enter the Rafflecopter widget below.

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UK entrants only

Competition added to Loquax and ThePrizeFinder.

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Maternity picks with Lyst

Although I do a lot (most?) of my shopping online these days (life with small children…), I find it a bit of nightmare trying to find clothes I like. Often either feel overwhelmed with everything a Google search throws up or opt for a familiar website, even if it means not buying exactly what I was looking for.

I’m currently on the hunt for a maternity dress for an upcoming wedding so I’ve enjoyed looking through Lyst, a site that makes it easy to shop across a wide range of brands, putting together “lysts” you can review later. It’s a kind of wishlist system meets social network (you can follow people’s lysts). You can click straight through to purchase.

Above are a few bits that caught my eye when putting together my maternity lyst.

The pyjama bottoms are from Frugi, a brand I love because of its pretty prints and high quality manufacture as well as its commitment to using organic materials and ensuring fair production.

This boho swing dress is just the thing for easygoing summer style as the weather gets warmer. It is getting warmer, right?!

I have something of an unusual shape, small back size but big cup size so I’m really picky about what bras I’ll go for. Freya bras are the only ones that consistently give a shape I’m happy with. With it’s dotty pattern and lacy detailing, this nursing bra is anything but frumpy.

This form fitting lace maternity dress is probably the sort of thing I’m looking for wedding-wise. I’m not totally sure about the colour “berry” for me but I do love the look of it.

In association with Lyst


Make a matchbox trinket box

While I love getting my teeth stuck into bigger craft projects – I have a few on the go at the moment – there’s something surprisingly satisfying about quick projects that yield great effect with little effort.

Make a matchbox trinket box

So when Harveys Furniture sent me a few swatches from their sofas range with the challenge to use the fabric to craft a home accessory. I’m a sucker for little boxes so decided to quickly decorate a matchbox fit to hold the odd trinket. They have a fun quiz at the moment to find your “shape” with Sofas by You. I unsurprisingly got “comfort”!

Make a matchbox trinket box-2

You’ll need:
A matchbox
A pair of pinking shears
Glue gun with glue stick
Fabric

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Make a matchbox trinket box-4

Stick the fabric to each side of the matchbox. Do the same on the other side.

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Cut off any excess with pinking shears and repeat on the uncovered side. Le voila! A cute, handy little box for storing pins, jewellery or any other little bits you want to give a sweet home to live.

Matchbox trinket box

Brought to you by Harveys Furniture.


It’s OK not to be OK

I keep finding myself responding to any of the question “How’s the pregnancy going?” with “Fine, thanks. Just tired.” It’s not totally inaccurate.

Even compared to my own two previous pregnancies, I’m physically feeling positively spectacular to the point of sometimes forgetting that I’m even pregnant. That is if you don’t count the fact that I almost always need the toilet and even if you don’t see me making millions of bathroom trips when we’re out and about, you can bet “Need a wee” is there on my mental list of things I’m trying hard to ignore.

When I say “tired”, though, I mean crushingly exhausted. By 2pm most days all I can think of is lying on the sofa and letting the kids do their thing, checking in with me now and then. Any afternoon activity that requires my involvement has become something I will pay for later, usually by needing a 7pm bedtime, which means stuff that needs to get done in the evenings does not get done.

That has a knock on effect with the other thing I’m not saying in “Fine, thanks. Just tired.” I know that I’m a bit depressed. I have been for a while.

Most days involve mustering all of me to get out of bed, stay out of bed, do the basics and try to be present with my kids. It helps that we have commitments to meet with other people most days and even if I don’t talk about what’s going on, the company and the change of scene help.

Heaviness and hurt walk around with me most days, with a little anxiety joining us when I’m not expecting it. I find myself obsessing over every detail of the day when I wake up for the loo in the middle of the night. What happened? What did I get wrong? Why did I say that?

There is actual stuff going on in my life that I can’t talk about here but mostly, I have every reason to be happy. And I am. I enjoy my children and my husband immensely, work has slowed but is still coming in here and there (probably for the best with the lack of time and energy), we are comfortable and I am really looking forward to meeting this baby.

The girls have dubbed her “Butterfly”. “Heh-oh, Buh-fy!” Ophelia says to my tummy, stroking and kissing it. Who could but melt? She really does seem to understand there’s a baby in there now.

On the flip side, I find myself getting needlessly stressed over small day-to-day details, I am irritable with my family, I often feel like I’m not doing anything well, I am not enjoying getting bigger, needing to wee all the time, having little energy, and at 22 weeks pregnant, I’m still scared about what adding another child to this family means.

She is unquestionably wanted but the thought of spreading my resources in yet another direction, of establishing breastfeeding again, of sleepless nights, of coping with my other two children’s changing needs, of helping my Ophelia transition from being the baby of the family, of delaying other things I want to do a bit longer, of the general upheaval that comes with a new baby, of the thousand other things I can’t help worrying about…

No amount of anyone saying, “You’ll be fine” actually sates these thoughts. Because along with some of the perfectly valid stuff on my mind trundles a whole load that doesn’t make any rational sense, not even to me. Yet they are taking up as much space. And that’s probably because I am so often feeling like I’m not coping right now.

At the same time, it’s been difficult to identify for myself that something is up, rather than that I’m just being a bit pathetic. This isn’t like the crushing lows I experienced pre-kids years ago where I was literally out of action and needed to be medicated or else.

I have been depressed at times since having children but I’ve somehow managed, as I am now, to keep going, even if I am operating at a lower level than is normal for me. So, I’ve remained reticent, questioning how bad it has to be before I can call it what I know deep down it still is, depression.

I see the strangeness in being unable to say this face to face yet being willing to speak it into a computer screen, knowing that people who do and don’t know me will read it. It’s been a back and forth debate over whether to talk about it here either.

Anything I write about here opens me up to criticism and well-meaning but sometimes misguided attempts to solve a problem that can’t be solved by someone else. It’s one of the reasons I tend to only blog about the hard bits of parenting through the lens of what I feel I am learning from them or once I’ve reached some sort of resolution I can reflect on.

Yet even though I’m only at the point of knowing that I need to do something, I feel it’s worth sharing in case it helps someone else feel less alone, and that maybe it’s OK to not be OK.


Spring Shelfie: Getting set for Spring

I’ve mentioned before that I’m in the middle of giving the house an overhaul – for my sanity as much as anything else. We switched the girls’ room with the guest room and that’s made a huge difference to the amount of storage they have and freed up some much needed space in our own room.

Now I’m on a mission to massively declutter as I realise owning too much is affecting so many areas of our lives from money we waste to my daily stress levels. We’re literally suffering under a tyranny of “things”. So I’m being ruthless a room at a time and already it’s hugely changing the way I feel about our home.

The next job is to get through the mounting list of items that need to be repaired or upcycled. I’ve organised this in order of whatever is annoying me the most on a daily basis (handles that have fallen off, chipping paint, that kind of thing).

I’m also in the middle of re-organising shelves and walls while having a bit of fun styling them. I’ve been inspired by Oyster & Pearl to have a go at colour co-ordinating books and trying different layouts. I also love the way Owl and Accordion brings nature indoors with effortless style.

So it’s quite fitting to get in on Wayfair‘s Spring Shelfie challenge to crack on with waking up our home from a rather dreary winter. My “shelfie” above features a scatter frame set, this owl lamp and this pale blue ceramic jug from their collection.

I’ve also thrown in washed up coral I’ve collected from beaches and little pieces we’ve collected over the years. The lilies were a just because gift from Laurence, a real treat because we have a long-running joke about him never buying me flowers.

I can’t tell you it’s cheered me to rearrange a few shelves. A few more shelves, a few more things off the spring cleaning list and it just might feel Spring really is on its way.

Wayfair spring shelfie-2

Items featured provided by Wayfair for the purpose of this post