First trimester pregnancy favourites

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Isn't it funny the things you come to depend on when you're pregnant. I was watching back my YouTube video about my favourite products from my first trimester and honestly some of them are so random! But I guess growing a baby does funny things to you.

So I wanted to share some of my most used products and things from the past few months. It's mostly edible things if I'm honest, but there are a few beauty products and other bits and pieces in there too.

I think I'll do a favourites update for each trimester this time around. It's always nice to be able to look back at the things you were enjoying when you were pregnant. Tinned mandarins anyone?

What were your favourite things in the first few months of pregnancy?

My symptoms disappeared | 9-12 week pregnancy update

Monday, 16 January 2017

Has anyone else experienced this? At roughly nine weeks pregnant, I went from feeling pretty... well, pregnant. Nauseous, so very tired and bloated. Then, nothing. I felt completely normal.

It worried me. I read up on it and apparently it's not uncommon for symptoms to subside early on, but it's never happened to me before so I wasn't sure what to make of it.  Thankfully, I've now had my scan and know that all is fine and as it should be. But pregnancy can be such a worrying time anyway can't it? 

I didn't feel like I should film an update for a while, but I'm glad I changed my mind. It meant that I had to combine a couple of weeks into one update, but better that than no update at all! 

So, this takes me to the second trimester. Already! I'm sure the second, and definitely third trimesters will feel longer than this one did. I hope so anyway. I want time to slow down for the next few months ...I may regret saying that when I get to the last few weeks!

I'd love to know if anyone else has felt this way during their first trimester. Please let me know in the comments below.

Here we go again | 8 week pregnancy update

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Even though Dan and I always talked about having four babies, I was never sure it would actually happen. We left quite a big gap between my daughter and our third baby Ayden; mostly because of work and just general life stuff getting in the way. But after he was born, I never felt done. Most of my friends with three children said that after the third they knew their family was complete. I never felt that. As thrilled as I was to have my three beautiful children, there was still a little nagging feeling that I wasn't quite finished having babies.

Maybe I'm the kind of person who will always feel that way. Eternally broody. Well, if that's the case I'll have to learn to ignore it, as number four will most definitely be our last.

So, here I go again. So very blessed to be experiencing pregnancy for the fourth and final time. I predict it'll be an emotional one; experiencing all my last pregnancy moments and milestones. I never documented my pregnancies before, which is something I really regret. I was even useless at filling in those pregnancy diaries. This time, I'm going to document every last bit - and try to remember and compare it to my other pregnancies too, so it'll almost be a memory of all four.

I'm writing this at eight weeks pregnant, but won't publish it until I've had my scan and told family and friends. Once I've had the scan I'll start with real-time weekly updates. 

So, right now at eight weeks pregnant my symptoms are pretty typical of all my pregnancies; no actual sickness, but plenty of nausea throughout the day, mostly in the early evening though. I'm putting that down to being at my most tired and hungry at that time of the day. Speaking of tired... bloody hell, I'm exhausted! By 6pm all I want to do is face plant the bed. And some days I do. Just for ten minutes. It helps. Poor Dan is having to make do with the most unimaginative meals ever, cos I just don't have the energy or enthusiasm to make anything. 

I definitely have a small bump. To others it probably looks a lot like a cheese baby, but it's definitely a baby bump. My jeans still fit and button up, but they're not comfortable and I feel so frumpy in everything. I've never found maternity clothes that I particularly like and prefer to dress in regular clothes as much as possible throughout pregnancy (apart from jeans of course), so I'm hoping to be able to do that again. But I'd love to hear your maternity clothes recommendations if you have any, just in case I'm missing out ;)

At the moment, the baby is the size of a raspberry, measuring 1.6cm and weighing just 1g. How cute! I can't wait to have my scan in a few weeks, so I'll hopefully know that all is well and can start getting excited for the months ahead.

I talk about my early pregnancy signs, symptoms and cravings in a lot more detail in my eight week update video below if you'd like to know more.

I'll post updates here and on my YouTube channel, so you can follow along in either or both of those places if you'd like to. And I'd love to hear your experiences too, so please do comment below and we can have a good old natter about baby bumps, all-day morning sickness and pickle cravings.

A hello... and a thank you

Monday, 9 January 2017

When I pressed publish on my first video of 2017 I was equally excited and nervous; but the few hours afterwards were filled with so much love, happiness and well wishes. I could never have imagined such a wonderful reaction. 

It's my favourite video I've made to date. I laughed, cried and felt all the feels looking back over a year's worth of footage. Picking up a camera to film my little family has been, by far, one of the best decisions I ever made. Time goes so fast and I struggle to accept how quickly my babies are growing up, but having these videos to watch back helps. I can relive special moments, remember the little things I'd forgotten, stare at their squishy little cheeks and rewind - just for a minute or two.

To think we'll have another little squishy-cheeked human to add to our family this year is just amazing. We're all so excited for the months ahead.

Thank you so much to everyone that has sent us their congratulations. It really does mean the absolute world.

Dear nine-year old me...

Friday, 25 November 2016

Remember sitting at your first McDonald's birthday party, surrounded by colour, happy faces, excitement and food that you eat without cutlery!? A happy meal from McDonald's was the ultimate treat. The highlight of many a Christmas shopping trip with my mum. Fast forward a couple of decades and now my children consider a trip to the magical land of the golden arches to be the ultimate treat.

When I received an email inviting me to the Swansea branch of McDonald's, where I had my first ever chicken mcnugget experience, there was no question about it. I was going!

I don't think I've been to the Swansea restaurant since I was little, so just stepping inside the doors was a walk down memory lane. The layout hasn't changed a great deal, but everything else has moved on dramatically. iPads at the tables, self-service kiosks and table service! Nine-year old me would have been in her element. 

I was invited to the store, along with fellow bloggers Alina and Kelly, to see the evolution of McDonald's restaurants; including new digital features for customers, an incredible array of technology in the kitchen and such an impressive and varied menu, as well as the option to personalise your order.

McDonald's franchisee Ron Mounsey hosted the event and was a joy to listen to, as he spoke about his job, the changes he has seen in stores over the years and the exciting plans for the future. We were introduced to the Swansea team and given our uniform for the evening, which my kids think is the coolest thing ever!

First stop was an explanation of the self-service kiosks. I hadn't seen these in a McDonald's restaurant before so this was all new to me. It's such a good idea and would make life much easier for me when taking three children into a restaurant. Plus, they'd enjoy being able to place their own order on the touch screen themselves. You can also easily customise your order yourself, just adding or removing items from your burger or meal on the screen before you complete it.

After a tour of the restaurant, staff facilities and food storage areas, we were let loose in the kitchen. Under close supervision, of course. This is where I was really impressed. The level of organisation and cleanliness was amazing. Not a bun out of place and the whole kitchen ran like clockwork. I was particularly taken with the wall of burger boxes, all colour coordinated and organised perfectly.

The best bit of the evening? Without question, being taught to make my own Big Mac. I have a real soft spot for a Big Mac - it's my guilty pleasure, if I fancy a treat. You just can't beat that burger sauce. So getting to make my own was definitely a highlight for me. Turns out the angle at which you place the cheese does matter and 13g of onion is exactly a pinch!

It was great fun getting to make my own burger. And even more fun getting to eat it afterwards. But the excitement didn't end there. We were lucky enough to be given a sneak peek at a new range of burgers - the McDonald's Signature Collection.

Wow. These burgers were seriously good. The black packaging, with striped paper inside, is very instagram-able and high end, with the products inside to match. The burger itself is delicious and, combined with a brioche-style bun and a choice of three flavours - classic, BBQ and spicy - McDonald's are on to a winner for sure. The range is available now from selected restaurants and, if you get chance to try it, I would highly recommend. 

Nine-year old me thought McDonald's was the coolest place on earth all those years ago. The difference in 2016 is amazing and my mum would have had a tough job getting me out of there! I had a great time learning more about the company and the way it works. If you'd like to find out more, you can do so here.

*This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.

My work from home tips

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Over the last ten years I've been a part-time and full-time working mum, a SAHM and now I work from home. It's fair to say, none of those combinations is easy and there are plenty of pros and cons to both.

When I was going out to work every day and my husband did the school drop-offs and pick ups, I spent a lot of time feeling guilty that I was out of the house so much and cursing my husband for making so much bloody mess when he cooked the kids their tea! Seriously, how does someone manage to use every pan and plate to make pasta pesto!?

Staying home has a whole other set of 'mum-guilt' issues. Not only from a financial perspective but, when I'm working from home, it can be difficult to switch off. I'm making a conscious effort lately to try and stay off my phone and laptop when the kids get home from school, so I can give them my full attention.

So I've had to become more strict about how I use my time when they're at school and nursery. I'm not 100% there yet, but I think following these tips is helping me to find a balance that works for me:

1. Get dressed and hustle. If my husband is taking the kids to school on his way to work, it can be tempting to stay in my PJs a little bit longer and sit on the bed with my laptop. No! It's never a good idea. I get dressed, make the bed, put my face on and tidy the kitchen; even if I don't need to leave the house for hours, it just helps me to start the day on the right foot. 

2. Fresh air. Even if it's only for 20 mins, a bit of fresh air does wonders. When I was working in an office I'd always look forward to my lunchtime walk to grab a sandwich. It clears my head and helps me to be more productive in the afternoon.

3. Snack healthy. Working at home means full access to the kids' stash of leftover halloween sweets. It's a bad idea. I try to stick to healthy options and snack little and often, to avoid those annoying mid-afternoon slumps, where Netflix and a hot chocolate might be too hard a temptation to resist!

4. Lists, lists, lists. If I don't make lists, I'm a nightmare. I forget things, feel overwhelmed and struggle to focus. Writing everything down helps me to structure my time and get stuff done. And who doesn't like ticking things off a to-do list?

5. Create a designated space. Something I think will help me to keep my work and mum-life separate, is having my own office space. I've mentioned it here before and I'm still in the process of planning my perfect home office. I want to make sure I get it right. A space that's calm enough so I feel removed from what is a busy, noisy household; but also helps me to feel inspired, creative and focused. Not much to ask for then!? I've come across a few tips to help me get the most out of my home office space and you can see some in the video below:

I've also been pinning plenty of organisational tips to keep my office area as functional, but still stylish as possible. This pink wall and desk set-up is the home office space of my dreams!

What are your tips for working at home? Do you have an office space and, if so, how do you like to organise it? I'd love to know.

*This post is sponsored but all opinions are my own.

Back to it | How I minimise back pain

Friday, 11 November 2016

There aren't many downsides to having children. Other than not being able to go to the toilet alone and having to share chocolate. But one not so welcome result of having children for me is a slightly dodgy back. Years of bending over cots to lift my little ones and lie them down when they're sleeping, not to mention carrying them out of car seats and swinging them around like monkeys has definitely taken a toll on my lower back.

It's fine as a general rule, but there's definitely a weakness there. It's so common among parents, so I thought I'd share my thoughts on the things that help to minimise back pain for me.

Exercise is, hands down, the best possible thing for my back. If I follow a regular routine of morning yoga, my back feels flexible and strong. It's just difficult to fit it in around busy mum life, so the easiest thing for me is to follow a programme on Youtube in my own home. Yoga with Adrienne is my first stop - her routines are fun, effective, free and not too long so, if I drag myself out of bed 20 mins earlier than usual, I can easily fit one in before the school run. If I fancy something a bit higher intensity, I'll go for a HIIT work out with Lucy Wyndham-Read.

Mums spend so much time hunched over, changing nappies and feeding their babies, it's not hard to see why back pain can become an issue. Even though my children have passed that stage, I'm definitely guilty of poor posture at times. Usually it's because I'm hunched over my laptop working, or lifting my toddler incorrectly. My husband has been nagging me for years to make sure I lift correctly and bend at the knees. He's so right and I wish I'd listened sooner. Yes, it feels a bit weird to squat at the knees to lift your little one, but better that than a pulled lower back any day!

On the subject of hunching over a laptop, last year I did a lot of work sat on the edge of my bed. Mostly because it was the quietest place in the house and meant I could get at least five minutes of uninterrupted time to get things done. It also meant that, without realising it, I was slowly damaging my back, which resulted in months of lower back pain, stiffness and discomfort. I've learnt my lesson. Now I work sat at the kitchen table, which isn't ideal privacy-wise, but at least means my posture is good. I've mentioned on the blog before that I'm looking forward to having a home office space to work. I'm still working on that but, with Christmas looming, I'm hoping to do it as cost-effectively as possible. So I'm currently on the lookout for stylish, cheap office chairs and desk accessories. So please comment with any
recommendations, as well as any tips you might have for looking after your back :)