My week in pictures #4

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So again, it’s not strictly a week, but this is a snapshot of what we’ve been up to lately. Things are getting a little more sparkly and festive!

What have you been up to this week? Are you on Instagram? If I don’t follow you already, let me know your details and I’ll give you a great big like.

Top row – The cute lit-up reindeer at the Fabulous Frost Fair. More illuminations, this time a bunny. A festive Christmas tree hat from M&S, which I have yet to get on baby gal’s head long enough for a photo!

Middle row – T-shirt, Zara Kids. My son at a bowling party, his first time. the My Little Pony stocking filler that I’m more excited about than my girl!

Bottom row – Pom-Pom garlands at Utility, Liverpool. Baby gal’s bracelet. Me and my lovely sis at her birthday party.

X Julia

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First boots and Little Bird love

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It was a bit of a milestone yesterday. I bought my little girl her very first pair of boots. Ankle boots in soft greyish-purple leather with a little bit of feisty sparkle round the top. In fact, seeing as she expressed her love for shoes and shopping so much (she cried and said “No!” when I tried to remove a pair of new red leather Mary Janes from her feet), I ended up buying her a pair of shoes too.

The shoes she’s been wearing were about three months old, and it suddenly dawned on me that although they still went on easily, her feet are bound to have grown a fair bit since we bought them. I was right, when we got her measured she’d gone up a size from a 4 to a 5. Big feet like her mum and bro!

We bought these Flora boots from Clarks, as they looked so cute with her thick grey tights and bright purple dress. I think boots are a bit warmer and sturdier for winter, but it’s always handy to have shoes too so I went for these navy ones from Little Bird at Mothercare.

It’s the first time I’ve bought something from Jools Oliver’s range but the quality seems really good and at £15 the price isn’t bad either. The clothes and shoes have a retro feel – think Peter Pan collars for girls and braces for boys – are all in bright, cheery rainbow colours.

Both pairs are pictured – the boots are slightly scuffed, as she had to wear them out of the shop. Of course she did!

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Things I didn’t do before I had children

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Let me say first of all, this is by no means an exhaustive list and I am absolutely not an expert in motherhood. This post started a few weeks ago, after a quick poll round my office on the things we do now as parents that we would never have considered ok to do BK, or Before Kids. I could go on and on with this, but thought I’d put my first thoughts out there to see how many of you agreed with them.

Feel free to add your own in the comments! X Julia

So here are the things I didn’t do… Before kids!

Let my children play on the iPad so early in the morning. This applies more to first born, as baby gal is still a bit young to really get much out of it. I don’t think I can explain it better than Michael McIntyre did in his stand up show that always makes me laugh out loud. I’ve just been searching for it and can’t find it, but basically he’s saying before you have kids, it’s so easy to be idealistic about how you want to raise them. For example, they won’t be allowed to play computer games, watch too much TV, etc, then when they come into your bedroom in the early hours of a weekend morning, you’re like, “Here, take the iPad! It’s on the side. Just watch what you like!” Anything to get that extra hour of precious sleep.

Buy fruit shoots. Or even know what they were, probably. It’s not that I mind the odd one, it’s just that I think they have a tendency to look a little bit on the chav side when guzzled by the under twos. This is something which can be avoided with child number one, but with any subsequent cubs, you can forget it. They see what their sibling has and want it all the more. You can see in this photo, I’m staying classy with my baby gal swigging away on the bottle!

Clean my house at rate of one chore a day, so that covering the whole house takes approximately one week. This is a tactic learnt from my late grandma, who when she was in her 80s, slowed her housework down to doing one job a day, spreading the load across the whole week. This is me now – only 50 years younger!

Involve pasta in about half of my meals. Where once my husband and I were both vegetarians, now we all generally want to eat differently and finding a meal that we all like is pretty difficult. Our go-to emergency meal? Pasta and pesto, with a bit of broccoli on the side if you’re lucky.

Walk past baby wipes in a shop and don’t buy any. Stockpiling wipes is an absolute must for me now, as I work on the theory that you can never have too many and it’s a nightmare if you run out mid nappy change. Despite this rule, I’ll also never pay more than £1 a pack, so living in close range to both Aldi and Home Bargains helps a lot. Don’t forget, wipes can be used for everything from cleaning little hands and faces to freshening up shoes, car interiors and even clothing!

Set my alarm for 5.40am, just so I can get a shower before the kids get up. When first born was a few months old and I was a total novice at this mum thing, a friend said to me if I don’t blow dry my hair before the kids get up, my day is ruined! I don’t go as far as to brave a hair wash so early, but I now know exactly where she’s coming from.

On the subject of hair, I didn’t know then that I would happily leave my locks for up to three to four days between washes. Where I used to be a shampoo everyday kind of girl, now I see washing my hair as a laborious chore best left to the professionals. Fortunately two pregnancies have left it fairly dry, so washing it any more than once every couple of days makes it massively frizzy. There is method in this madness.

Pre-kids, I wouldn’t have to worry about loading up my handbag with snacks, drinks and spare clothes. Whereas in my 20s I’d rummage around in the bottom of my bag for a packet of fags and a lighter, now I’m scrabbling for raisins, tissues and toys.

Choose clothes according to how easy they are to wash and how quickly I can make them form any semblance of an outfit in the few minutes I have every morning to get dressed. Top of my list are leggings or skinny jeans with jumpers and ankle boots. Quick shoulder check for snot or pasta sauce stains, and I’m done,

Think going out twice in one week is excessive. I caught myself yesterday telling a mum friend that I’d “already got three nights out booked in for December”. THREE nights out! Call the police! There was a time when I used to think staying in three nights in a month was a travesty.

Be so emotional. Why is it, that now I’m a mum I only have to glance at a John Lewis Christmas ad and be in floods of tears? The worst one (or best, depending on how you look at it), is the one where the little boy is waiting for Christmas Day to come just so he can give a present to his mum. Pass the Kleenex quick! Any sort of vague tugging at the heartstrings has me welling up. Having kids has definitely softened me up a bit.

Mami 2 Five
Mums' Days
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Win Tickets to The Fabulous Frost Fair

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It’s only a few weeks until the Fabulous Frost Fair, a luxurious Christmas event being held over three days from 21-23 November at the Hillbark Hotel in Wirral.

It’s the brainchild of fellow blogger Tanya Leary, who set up the fair with her sister Soraya and friend Ali. They had been going to similar events in the south of the country and wondered why there was nothing similar on Merseyside. The fair offers visitors the chance to buy special Christmas gifts from local businesses, as well as peruse food stalls, have spa treatments, watch demonstrations and take part in workshops.

On the Sunday, the fair will have more of a family feel where there will be crafts for children, carols, and even a few appearances from Father Christmas himself!

For more information you can visit their website or check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Even better, I have a pair of tickets to give away for the fair on Sunday 23rd November, and you can enter below. Good luck! If you don’t win, tickets cost £5 each and under 7s are free.

X Julia

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Happy Birthday Big Sis!

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We spent this weekend in Yorkshire, staying with my parents and partying with my sister, who turns 40 today. For me, this milestone birthday doesn’t actually feel that far away from the last one, or even the one before that. But when I think about what we’ve both done in that time, it’s quite some achievement.

My sister at 40 is happily married to a wonderful and successful man, has three gorgeous healthy children, a job – or should I say several jobs – she loves and a beautiful home. In many ways, it seems the anxieties a lot of us feel in our 20s and maybe 30s have eased, the sleep deprived haze of having really young children has lessened (most of the time) and things seem really positive and exciting in her life right now. Let’s say a big yay for being 40!

I can say this as my own big birthday is two years away, and I still feel a bit like I’ve just turned 30. I often find myself saying someone is about the same age as me when actually they are five or sometimes even ten years younger. I think I’m suffering some kind of crisis where the age in my head doesn’t match up to the age on my birth certificate! I even had to stop and work out recently how old I actually was, as I couldn’t remember if it was 37 or 38! (It’s 37, for the record.)

Not that I’m dreading 40. I’m pretty indifferent to be honest, apart from the excuse to throw a bit of a party and the fact that my husband will be celebrating his own (even bigger) birthday just the following week. When I look at my female friends who are already there or fast approaching, I see a group of women who are happier than ever in their own skin, age and experience giving them the confidence to not worry about what others think of them and to focus on the things that really matter. Many of them have become parents, experiencing the shift in priorities that comes when you become a small person’s whole world. Personally, I’ve gone through more in the past two years than I thought I would ever have to, after my husband fell ill and our whole world was turned on it’s head. Although things are much better now, I never take for granted the days where there is no real drama to contend with.

Despite all this, I still look at photos of myself as a child and wonder where the time went. This is one of my favourites, of my sister and I walking through Bluebell Woods in Ilkley where we grew up. The photograph has faded but those sundresses were white, pink and blue and the cutest thing ever. Looking at this now I can see a lot of my baby girl in my two-year-old self. She’ll be nearly four when I turn 40, my little boy nearly eight. Like most things in life it seems, they just keep getting better as the years roll by.

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Everything Mummy
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My Sunday Photo #4 – Poppy

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We’ve spent a bit of time this morning making this poppy for my son’s school assembly on Armistice Day.

Today we will be remembering our grandfathers and my father-in-law, who took part in the first and second world wars, as well as all the men and women of the armed forces past and present. Who are you remembering today?

X Julia

OneDad3Girls
You Baby Me Mummy
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My week in pictures #3

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Here’s a snapshot of what I’ve been up to lately. My pictures are dominated by Halloween, owing to my first born’s obsession with it and the fact that we had a little Halloween party over half term.

Top row – Halloween sweets; me and my gal; Lego Liver Building at the Lego Discovery Centre.
Middle row – Piñata; mummy lanterns; my not-so-spooky kitchen window.
Bottom row – Browsing fabric for the caravan makeover; work; Halloween dress, rejected by my daughter due to scratchiness of fabric!

How’s your week been?

X Julia

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Lego Heaven

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When I told my son we were going to visit the Lego Discovery Centre this weekend, his jaw dropped, his eyes popped and he jumped about a foot high off the bed, almost hyperventilating in excitement.

At five-and-a-half, he’s a huge Lego fan and at home it’s undoubtedly the thing that keeps him interested more than any other activity, after making random stuff from paper and glue, that is. “Shall I give you a clue where we’re going?,” I said. “It’s got something to do with Lego…” “The Lego Discovery Centre!”, he cried. Well they’re obviously getting their advertising right!

This Lego heaven is at The Trafford Centre in Greater Manchester, in a development across from the main shopping area called Intu.

We had planned to arrive early, but due to a sleepless night and a rather hectic morning it was about 11am by the time we got there. I was expecting to queue but we walked straight in and were told to wait a few moments for the next tour to begin.

When we were called, we were all given Lego badges to wear and were ushered through a Lego man shaped door. After a quick stop for a family photo, we went to join a larger group to listen to a professor (well a man dressed in a white coat) show the children how the Lego bricks are made.

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There was loads of stuff for them to join in with, as the professor chose a few volunteers to help him pull the lever to start the machines. At the end, they were each given a special Lego brick, which doesn’t sound like much but when you’re small and you’re given something for free so early on, it’s kind of a big deal.

Once inside, there was so much more to do than I had expected. There are three small rides, which are all included in the price, and perfect for my son’s age and a bit older. One of them involved riding in a car and shooting a laser gun at video targets as you rode around and another, which I went on (yes!), was like a lot of flying sofas with bike pedals attached, which you sat on and had to pedal as fast as you could to make the sofas fly high as the ride turned round. I think I had as much fun as any of the kids on that one!

There was a Lego workshop, where the children got to sit in a side room and take a class on how to build a small Lego plane; a soft play area; cars you could ride around a track made from Lego and my favourite part, Miniworld.

Miniworld is how I always imagined Legoland to be when I was little. Lots of scale models of famous buildings, including nearby Old Trafford, Blackpool Tower (very apt for us after last week’s visit), brilliant models of Liverpool’s Liver Building, Albert Dock, the Royal Albert Hall and the silver-buttoned Selfridges in Birmingham.

There was even a cinema showing Lego films, although sadly we had to give that part a miss as after four hours at the centre, our baby gal was getting a little tired of Lego! We just had time to visit the Star Wars section, which was much quieter with fab models of moving Stormtroopers, and of course the shop, and it was time to go home.

As it was Halloween ‘Brick or Treat’ week when we visited, the models were decorated with Lego ghosts and cobwebs, and we were invited to make a pumpkin out of Lego in the shortest possible time. After our Halloween party, we were more than in the mood for more spooky antics, and it added a bit more fun to what had been a fantastic day out. I’ll definitely be going again, and if we lived nearer I’m sure it would be a pretty regular treat. Just make sure you take your spending money for the shop – well you wouldn’t want to miss out on a Lego advent calendar now, would you?!

We were lucky enough to be given free entry into the Lego Discovery Centre in return for a review, but all these opinions are absolutely my own.

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Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

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Sunday Stars #3

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It’s week three of the new Sunday Stars linky, a place for bloggers to share their favourite posts each week.

Sunday Stars was set up by myself and a group of fellow bloggers as we wanted to create a place where all our best posts from the week could be shared between ourselves and then thought, why not let everyone join in?

We’re taking it in turns each week to host but we’ll all be commenting and re-tweeting throughout the week.

This week it’s myself and Katie from the fab blog Mami 2 Five who are hosting and we can’t wait to read your star posts!

So just tweet your posts to either of us, myself @rainbeaubelle and Katie @mami2fiveblog and also the @SundaysStars account using the hashtag #sundaystars and we will retweet.

We’ll also be pinning your posts to the Sunday Stars pinterest board.

Karen from Mini Travellers and Jessica from Mummy of Boy Girl Twins have picked their favourite posts from last week’s link up. They are…

Did I go back to work too early? linked up by mamavsteacher. This post was all about returning to work after maternity leave and other people imposing their views on personal choices,

AND

Milestones that matter, linked up by by KohlMama, which was a humorous look at alternative ‘baby’s firsts’. Vomit in the mouth, anyone?

They are both great posts and I recommend you give them a read if you haven’t already.

Next weeks’ hosts will be the lovely Stephanie from Diary of a Midlife Mummy and Lucy from Mrs H’s Favourite Things, so keep an eye out for them next Sunday.

Rules:

You can link up to three post old or new, anything that you are really proud of.
Add our badge at the bottom of your posts – up can grab the code below.
Share the love – try and comment on at least three other posts.
The linky will close at 11.55pm on Wednesday night, so there’s plenty of time to join in with your star posts.

Right, go!

X Julia

Mami 2 Five


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