Springtime Stylin'

In January I announced the exciting news that Hollybobbs is being sponsored by the fantastic baby clothing brand, The Essential One to attend Britmums Live - the UK's biggest social media conference.

Last week I received some lovely sleepsuits and I couldn't wait to share them! As soon as I saw them go live on The Essential One site I knew I had to have them! I always have a soft spot for bright colours and with spring being pretty wet and dismal thus far I needed something to cheer me up! Adorned with cute sheep and announcing 'I Love Daddy' in bright yellows and blues, they are the epitome of springtime.


To be able to proudly display the eye-catching designs to their full, these sleepsuits button down the back rather than the front. With an extremely wriggly ten month old, this new way of fastening took a while to master, but to be honest it isn't much different - in the end I still have to fight an angry baby and chase him around the room, one foot in, one foot out!


As with anything I've had from The Essential One before, the brushed cotton is super soft and they wash really well. I'm as yet to see a bobbly bit on anything from them! With their soft tissue paper wrapping and special newborn scent in the packaging, the whole experience of receiving an Essential One package is lovely!


They also sent us some matching dribble bibs - with Baby J teething on and off and constantly blowing raspberries, they are much needed! In sunny stripes they add a bit of cheer to any outfit.


Do check out The Essential One - they are a fantastic brand and I cannot recommend them highly enough! Oh and did you know they now do maternity wear? Come back soon for a fab giveaway!

*I have been sent this product for free to review, however all opinions are my own.

Baby J is Ten Months Old

Today Baby J turns ten months old. I can't believe in two tiny months my little man will turn one - a whole year old! This last twelve months have gone by so unbelievably quickly it really doesn't seem almost a year ago I was getting ready to go into hospital. Having two children taking up our time definitely makes the minutes go on fast forward!


Easter Sensory Box

I love my sensory boxes and have creating since H was about six months. With Easter coming I couldn't resist the chance to make a bit of springtime fun during this miserable season.

Me & My Shadow

Lately we seem to be going to the park quite a bit! Most times J sleeps soundly so H gets some mummy time and we can both go on the swings and slides together. At one stage the slide was her favourite, but lately she loves mummy and H swinging side by side together, or mummy giving her a 'big push'!


One day last week, whilst my mum and dad were at an appointment, we walked to their local park and had a quick swing. Baby J was awake so he joined H on the swings and loved being pushed next to her, his smile was a picture!


Although it was bitterly cold, the sun did keep coming out to say hello so I showed H where her shadow was and how she could move it about. She loved watching it dance as she swung her legs and arms about and then chased it around the park.


When the sun went in we learnt about how our shadows only come out to play when the sun comes out, she was most upset when it went bye bye!


The weather may be terrible but we are going crazy being stuck in all day so I am trying my best to get out as much as I can. I want to make the most of these days, I am becoming increasingly aware that they don't last long - soon I will have a toddler and a pre-schooler, the baby days long gone.

Water Bead Play

A few weeks ago I came across the fantastic site, How To Train Up A Child. Filled with tons of play ideas for little ones, it is now my go-to guide for inspiration!

When I saw a post on water beads, lights and eggs, I had to give it a try so I jumped on eBay and ordered away. They arrived quickly but it took me a few days to decide how many water beads  I needed for a good play, so first we tried the eggs and lights out. Today it was the beads' turn!


We pulled out H's sand table and along with the plastic eggs, cups and a couple of spoons, set to play. Unfortunately due to J's tendency to chew anything and everything he had to watch on, much to his frustration.

H loved touching the beads and the first thing she did was start squishing them under her hands.


She then set to work transferring them into plastic cups with the different spoons...


...and then between hands.


However she had the most fun throwing them on the floor, watching them bounce and roll!


Fortunately this isn't a messy activity and can be easily cleared away once they've had enough.

I would definitely recommend this for your toddler, it was great fun, in fact I ordered a load more beads today, ready for some Easter fun!

The C Word

Crash.

It hit me like a ton of bricks.

The words you never want to hear.

The biggest fear.

Cancer.



For as long as I can remember I've had a seemingly irrational fear about my dad's health. With my grandad passing away in his early fifties I always worried the same would happen to my dad. Up until seven years ago my biggest fear was that he wouldn't be alive to walk me down the aisle. It's also a lot to do with why I didn't want to be older when I had children - I knew they may face the same anxiety I went through.

My dad has had ongoing health problems for over a year now. In fact after all he went through last year, we thought things could only get better. How naive we were.

I cannot put into words what you feel when you hear that word. Fear. Crippling oh-my-god-I-can't-breathe fear. Anger. Confusion. More anger. Questions. So many questions - Why? Where? How long?

The thought of losing either of my parents is more than I can bare. It comes to us all, I know, but all my life I have refused to acknowledge this and been petrified of it. I rely on them for so much. They are the ones I turn to for advice, the ones I talk to before anyone else and, apart from my husband, who know me the best. They are my guidance and my safety net and without either one of them I fear I may lose myself.

So here we are. Biopsies. Scans. Tests. Chemotherapy? Radiotherapy? Surgery? Untreatable.

Who the hell knows. Well a week on Thursday we will. We will stand together whatever the result. And inside I will crumble.

Blog/Life Balance

Just lately I have been struggling to get a healthy balance between the time I spend on my blog (which includes tweeting and facebooking) and the time I spend with my family. I often find myself 'nipping' onto Twitter throughout the day, often can't watch a whole TV show without jumping on to see what everyone's up to and just lately Little H has commented a couple of times about me putting my iPad/phone down. Clearly I'm over-doing it.

But I really don't know how to balance it and once again I'm considering whether blogging is the right thing for me. I'm obviously an all-or-nothing person when it comes down to it and really cannot seem to find a balance.

I know a lot of people blog at nap times or on an evening, but I am still one for napping when they do, otherwise I can't last the day in a decent frame of mind, and as Mr H and I eat after the kids are in bed we often don't sit down until 8.30pm and I don't want to spend my only time with him tapping away at the computer.

So I'm putting out a plea for advice - how do you all do it? I know plenty of other bloggers who have much more on their plates than I do, with school runs, looking after many more children or holding down jobs. Some bloggers manage to post daily when at the moment I'm struggling to manage two a week. I am heading to Britmums this summer and certainly don't want to put an end to my blogging now, but when it's affecting my time with the children I just don't know what to do.

A Week In Photos #10 & #11

I missed my photo update last week, so here is a double catch-up!

Glow Eggs

As it is coming up to Easter I gave been gradually collecting a few items together to put together a fun sensory box. Amongst these items were some plastic eggs. A few days ago I came across a fun post on Pinterest via Train Up A Child and decided I HAD to give it a try! It involved water beads, submersible tea lights and said plastic eggs. Unfortunately when the moment arose to have a go I hadn't put the beads in water long enough so we couldn't give them a try quite yet, so I'm saving them for another day.


I dragged H's water table from the garden. It has been sat there unused all winter and after seeing other bloggers use them for indoor play I decided it should go to waste no more. After a quick clean down I filled it with water, then threw in the eggs with the lights inside. I pulled down the blind and let the kids go wild.



They loved it and spent a good hour exploring the lights, splashing around and transferring them from one side of the table to the other. I added some sponges, cups and spoons and they had a great time. I love it now J is old enough to join in these activities and he has so much fun! My kitchen was soaked and so were the children but they absolutely loved it and that's what matters.

 
 
PS Apologies for the grainy images, iPhones don't do well in the dark!

Matilda Mae's Flower Release

Yesterday was Mother's Day and I had a special way planned to celebrate it. Over the last few weeks I have been raising money in memory of Matilda Mae - the little girl who tragically passed away at nine months old. I approached the day with some trepidation - would I be able to make it the special event I had hoped for and would I be able to honour Matilda and her mummy sufficiently?

I had planned to let the flowers go at Formby Beach, however the weather wasn't good and both children weren't feeling well, so instead I went to my local Country Park where there is a reservoir. I set off to the quieter side of the reservoir and my husband guided me to a part close to the water where it was sheltered. It was a very windy day, however once we got to the right spot it calmed down and was really peaceful.

I gently placed the flowers one by one into the water and watched them float away in the wind. At first they all clung together next to the waters edge, but as they became brave they set off with some gusto. Only one little flower stayed with me near the edge, hovering next to a rock. Eventually it too said it's goodbyes and then made its voyage to join the others.

We said our goodbyes to Matilda and we hoped she liked her flowers. In her memory I raised £178, which has been donated to Bliss Charity.

Thank you so much to all those who donated, I was truly touched to have so many contributions. If you would like to add your donations, please do to Matilda's Precious Star Fund.

I have put together a montage of the photos I took, so all those who contributed could join with me.

Good Night Little Star

Today the skies of Twitter lit up with shining stars, brightly displayed for one little girl - Matilda Mae, who has left this world too soon.

It really is incredible how one so young can touch so many and bring a community together. Matilda Mae trended on Twitter, so far-spread was the love. In her name over £2000 has been raised to support Bliss Charity. Families wore pink and purple in her memory. Bubbles were blown. Candles were lit. Her name will always be in our thoughts and lives have changed because of her.

Sleep tight little angel. Shine your star brightly, we will wish upon you nightly.

What's In My Comic Relief Bag?

The fantastic designer, Emma Bridgewater, has designed an exclusively new range of homeware goodies for the upcoming Comic Relief 2013. The range includes an apron, oven gloves, tea towels, mugs and a bag for life. I was lucky enough to be sent one of the bags for a sneak preview and I have to say I was quite excited!

Wiggly Worms!

Last week we were forced to stay inside waiting for a delivery, so had to find entertainment for a stir-crazy toddler! Whilst I was in Wilkinsons a few days before I had picked up some pipecleaners (for a £1 may I add!) with this activity in mind, and this was the perfect opportunity.

Whilst Baby J was napping (I didn't think the sharp wire in the pipecleaners was suitable for him to be trying to chew on) I pulled out an old colander and said pipecleaners and showed Little H how to thread them through the holes. It only took a couple of attempts before she was doing it herself, although of course mummy had to play too!


H loved pulling them out at the end and throwing them all over, pronouncing them wiggly worms!


Mummy had the most fun making pipecleaners animals, though. Can you guess what it is yet??

Little Tiger Kids Review

Little H was recently sent a set of books from Little Tiger Press, who are a company who have  recently launched their Little Tiger Kids range. Their aim is to produce "warm, bright, bold and appealing reads that are fun for children and for adults." We were sent My First Touch And Trace: Count 123, My First Book of Words: 100 First Words and My First Lift and Learn: My First Colours. The books were particularly relevant as H is just learning about colours and starting to count. She is also potty training and likes to look at these kind of books as she sits on her throne!

Count 123 counts from 1 to 20 and each page has a flap with two examples of the number of items and also the ability to trace the number. At the back of the book it gives a refresher on each number and then another counting activity. It is a well thought out book which not only teaches counting, it also helps to read the numbers, trace them and point out the items H is counting.

100 First Words is very similar to a couple of other books H has, with pages that cover different topics, with lots of pictures to look at and identify. It covers things such as Out and About and Bed and Bath with words of varying difficulty from duck to xylophone. I do really enjoy books like this as they are different on every page and H seems to love the challenge of pointing each item out, so they keep her entertained.

My First Colours is a smaller book which goes through many colours and has several items in each colour under each flap. H has gone through the book many a time. When it arrived she hadn't yet learnt brown, grey or black so she has enjoyed discovering and pointing out these new colours.



These books are bright, colourful books and nice and sturdy meaning it can stand up to two rough children. I think they are lovely addition to your toddlers educational book collection. Head over to Little Tiger Press for more books and information!

*I was sent the books for free to review, however all opinions are my own

A Week In Photos #9

In matching suits at Baby J's christening
 
Jasper babysitting Peppa Pig

Fun with pipecleaners

Sibling cuddles

A brave duck!

Weekend away

Enjoying the peace of the Lake District & hubby's birthday!
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