Top Tips for Baby Weaning

Weaning a baby can be one of the most daunting stages of their development. Until now all they're had is their milk, and once you've mastered them latching on and winding them it's pretty straight forward. But then they grow and they need more to sustain them and we move onto weaning.


Dear Matilda Mae

It is almost a year since you laid your little head to rest for the last time. At the same time my own little boy was doing the same. Surrounded by blankets, cuddly toys and without me checking on him for fear of waking him up. How so much has changed.

Because of you I am more careful. Because of you I am more grateful. Because of you I always say goodnight, just in case it may be our last.

If your tragic death has taught me one thing it is to cherish what we have. I am going through some tough times and maybe don't always remember this, but when I do my babies are held tighter and kissed more tenderly. Because you reminded me how short life is.

On the day myself and so many others found out about your loss, I was in disbelief. How could it be that only the day before your mummy had been playing with you, laughing with you and enjoying you and the next you be gone? I cried a lot over the next few days and weeks, and knew I had to do something. The flower release was my little way of celebrating your life and letting your mummy know I was thinking of her.

Since then your memory has spread to the skies and back. Your life has not been in earnest and you will never be forgotten. You have begun an incredible journey for so many and in your memory money has been raised that will hopefully help to put an end to a cause of death that breaks so many hearts and lives.

And whilst you may be gone, you are always around in our thoughts. When the skies turn red, I think of you. When the children blow bubbles I think of you. When I light a candle at night I think of you. And when I tuck in my children and kiss them goodnight I think of your mummy and send her strength. She is amazing - you would be so proud.

If I could say one thing to you, darling Matilda, it would be thank you. Sleep well, angel.


Letters for Matilda Mae

The Importance of the Internet as a Mum

It is fair to say that I am an internet fan. I write a blog, I am active on various social media and it's unusual for me to be found without my phone close by. I think in today's society it is the norm to be online at some point over the course of the day and much of our business cannot be accessed without an internet link.

However how important is the internet really, especially to myself?

I am a stay at home mum and a blogger. I have two very young children who take up much of my time and I also have chronic fatigue meaning that outings at the moment are a rarity. So for me, the internet is my sanity.

When my children demand the TV and won't let me sit down without jumping on me, I can pick up my phone and have a bit of 'me' time for five minutes. When my husband is working away and I am alone on a evening, I can chat to friends on twitter. And when I need to offload about one situation or another, there is always someone there to respond and lend an ear.

I use Pinterest a lot for finding ideas for the children to keep them occupied and entertained - messy play being a big favourite. And do you know how many uses there are for the simple toilet roll?


When my children are ill and I'm not sure whether a doctors trip is required, I can look online and find advice within a few clicks (particularly helpful when my daughter had Croup).

Not to mention online banking and food shopping, saving me time and sanity standing in endless queues with fed up, screaming children.

If I didn't have the internet I think I would struggle. It has opened doors for me via my blog that have given me self esteem, it has offered me a safe environment to be myself and it has saved my sanity on many an occasion. I feel that because of all this I can be a better mum to my children, as it gives me chance to breathe, take stock and be more rational during difficult times.

But all this does not mean I don't recognise the important of getting away from the screen. It is true that it is a great distraction from the humdrum of everyday life, but I do try and put my phone down and concentrate on the great loves of my life - my children. We play together, we read and when I have the energy we get outside and back to nature.


Personally the internet is important to me and I wouldn't be without it. Whilst some may think this is a sad fact, I feel it is part of life in today's society. And whilst it is a part of my life, that does not mean it is the most important nor that I don't make time to do other things.

How do you feel about being online? Is it taking over our lives or does it enrich them?

*This is a featured post

Ideas for Budget Birthday Parties

Remember back in the day when your birthdays parties were as simple as playing pass the parcel and blowing out candles on the birthday cake? These days, it can feel as if you are battling it out for the title of best party host, and the pressure is on to provide a memorable experience year after year. With H's third birthday party only a month ago and Baby J's second birthday looming in May ( also announcing his lack of baby status) I certainly have birthday's on my brain! So I thought I'd get few ideas together for parties that are guaranteed to deliver hours of fun without breaking the bank!

The Night The Dummy Fairy Came To Visit

Holly has always been attached been attached to her dummies, right from being born, so I expected that when the day came for her to give them up it would be a battle. I had in my head that I really wanted them gone by the time she was three, but as that day loomed closer and closer I got a little anxious as she was still just as attached, if not more so.

Tutorial: DIY Washi Tape Desk


When I decided to set up an office in our spare bedroom, I needed a desk. Budgets did not really allow for me to spend a fortune, and besides I do love upcycling old furniture. My sister had an old desk she didn't want anymore, so I took it off her hands and put it to good use.

I wanted my office space to be colourful, but not garish. I saw this pin on Pinterest and thought it was a great idea, so decided to give it a go.

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I ordered some washi tape from Cutetape and set to work.


Lost

Tonight I went out with a friend into the local town. We had dinner and then went to a couple of pubs for some drinks and maybe a spot of dancing. It is a town we frequented every Saturday night when we were younger and one we know well.

Things haven't changed much at all - the places are still the same, the drinks are still the same, the music  was even still the same in some places! But a lot has changed over those ten years. So much.

And me. I am certainly not the same. It isn't that long since I went on a night out, maybe four months (which in parenting time is not long at all, anymore), and yet I felt so different. Disconnected, I think. The music played and I tapped my feet but it all felt forced. My friend joked, I laughed, but it wasn't really me laughing. We drank our drinks and had a couple of horrible shots, just like we used to, but I wasn't really there. I was somewhere else. Another me.

It seems in the last months I have lost myself so much. Lost who I used to be. Lost who I am. I could always go out and enjoy myself. I was never self conscious on a night out. Whilst not the loudest I always fit in somewhere.

Now I don't know who I am anymore. And it makes me want to cry. Sure I have my roles - wife, mum. But I don't know any further than that. It is all I can do to be mum at the moment, how can I look past that?

Only months ago I was getting on with life and often feeling completely fulfilled; I loved my family, was getting to grips with being mummy to my two and feeling like I had finally found a place with blogging. Now in such a short space of time it all seems to have crumbled to nothing and I just don't know why, or how to get it back.

I feel like I am in mourning. Sometimes I think it is all in my head and if I changed my mindset maybe I would find myself again. I don't know. It's all just maybes.

I just feel so lost.

Summer Holidays

It is that time of year where we are all thinking of our 2014 UK holiday breaks - the weather is dreary and in some places snowy and we crave long, sunny days laid out doing very little.

I posted only last week about our thoughts for this year's summer holiday and the fact we had decided to stay in the UK. At the time we had decided to make the most of my in-laws caravan in Wales. However since then we have decided to go away with friends to Cornwall. I'm exactly looking forward to the long drive down there, but we are really excited to go away as a group with the children, and hopefully the weather will treat us well!

There are a few options we have considered of what type of accommodation to stay in and they all have their positives and negatives.

Caravan

And by this I mean a static, I'm afraid a touring caravan is not for me! We are familiar with static vans with my in-laws owning one in Wales. These are great as they aren't too expensive and often on sites filled with amenities and activities for the children right on your doorstep. The downside of these is they can be cramped when filled with children and their belongings, so space is at a minimum.

A cottage
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There are so many beautiful cottages in the UK, finding one to suit your needs isn't difficult. They come in all shapes and sizes so you can choose one to suit your needs and many are beautifully restored or converted from old buildings. we have stayed in a few cottages over the years and always felt they were cosy and homely - the type of place you want to curl up in front of the fire in. The only problem with these is they can be more on the expensive side and sometimes far away from anything, meaning a car is a necessity.

A lodge or chalet

Many holiday parks now have lodges or chalets on site, some are even dedicated to this type of accommodation. We visited a park like this last year in Derbyshire and had a lovely time - the accommodation was enough for what we needed and the grounds were well maintained. There was also plenty to do on our doorstep. With these types of accommodation you get the beauty of a cottage-style residence on a site filled with things to keep you occupied. Of course the lodges aren't quite as luxurious as a cottage can be, however many are of a high standard you may be surprised. These can also sometimes be expensive, though, and do make sure you take into consideration any extra activities when adding up what spending money to take.

Hostel

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Apparently the new concept that is becoming popular is 'poshtels' - upgraded hostels. Last year The Youth Hostel Association spent £10million on refurbishments and even added bridal suites! many of these are set in beautiful locations, such as the Lake District, offering you the chance to see somewhere you wouldn't normally. If you are looking for accommodation with a difference, but have a low budget these maybe the places to look out for.

So there are a few ideas for your UK break this year, let's just hope the weather is kind to us! Where are you planning on getting away this year?


*This is a featured post

Britmums Live 2014 Sponsorship Plea

I can't believe a year has gone since I last attended Britmums Live! A whirlwind of brands, bloggers and buddies it was the highlight of my blogging year and certainly the tipping point of my blog from being a hobby to something much more important to me. Since then I have worked with some fantastic brands and started some blogging relationships which have proved invaluable.


Already I am thinking about this years event, although considering I bought my ticket as soon as they were released last year, this is not a surprise! 

Last year I was sponsored by the online baby boutique The Essential One and I was thrilled to be part of their brand. Thanks to them I was able to attend the event and learn so much which I could then report back to them with and hopefully help them pick up a few things too. I also wrote several posts about their brand and worked alongside them with several campaigns. Unfortunately Baby J is now too old for their clothes so I am on the look out for a new company to work with.


I have now been blogging three years, although and I can barely believe it, and whilst I would not regard myself as I pro, I feel I know my way around pretty well. I have a significant following on twitter and over the last year have familiarised myself with Instagram and Pinterest as well as building my Facebook fan page. I am now trying to start vlogging and have set up a YouTube channel and tentatively dipped my toe in the waters. Over and over again I read that YouTube is set to be huge in 2014 and with it already having 1 billion subscribers, second only to Facebook, I feel it is the place to be and am excited to learn and share more.

So down to the nitty gritty. For any brands who aren't sure what Britmums Live is all about, it is the UK’s biggest, two-day social media conference and blogger event taking place on 20th & 21st June 2014, devoted entirely to a parenting audience and run by the UK’s largest parent blogging network of more than 4k influential and engaged bloggers. That's some pretty big numbers! For my sponsorship I am looking for my ticket price to be covered (£65), my train fare (around £90) and my hotel (£60), which is a grand total of £215.

And what would you get in return?

-A post introducing you as my Brit Mums Live Sponsor and three subsequent posts throughout the year. My blog receives around 1.8k views a month. Whilst I say four posts, last year I mentioned my sponsor in many more than this, not to mention tweets, retweets, facebook shares and instagram photos! I am extremely committed to any brand I work with and dedicated to sharing their products.
-Your brand name mentioned in all my posts, tweets and mentions of Brit Mums Live throughout my social presence, which totals 5k followers.
-A badge / advert on the homepage of my blog for a period of 12 months with a direct link to your website. 

-To use your product or wear your item throughout the event as well as hand out  business cards highlighting you as my sponsor. 

 
-To review any products or services that you feel would benefit from a blogger review. 

 
-To host competitions or giveaways for your brand on this blog. 

If you would be interested in sponsoring a parenting/lifestyle focused blog for this event, reaching out to over 5000 followers you can contact me by email hollybobbs@yahoo.com or through Twitter @hollybobbs.


Me And Mine - December 13

dear beautiful


I heard about this linky right at the start or last year and always thought what a great idea it was. Run by several of my favourite bloggers, it is a monthly post where we all share a family photo taken in the last month. However, I never felt I could really commit to it regularly and by the time the first month passed I'd already missed one deadline!

New Vlog: A Day In The Life of A CFS Mummy

Last weekend, inspired by Charlotte at Write Like No One's Watching, I decided to do a day in the life vlog. So, here you are!


Snow Fun Activities for Kids

So apparently the UK is due it's first snowfall of 2014 - Jessica Bridge of Ladbrokes recently commented "The odds suggest a White Christmas might be making a late appearance this winter." I have to say I welcome that with mixed feelings - I love to look at the snow, particularly when it's all new and untouched first thing on a morning. It really does make even the ugliest of sites look so pretty and magical. Unfortunately, not only am I not an outdoors person, but I hate the cold! Not really great for wintery fun!

Last year daddy and Auntie Laura took to the snow whilst myself and Baby J watched from indoors, lovely and toasty. This year though, I fear I may be dragged outside to partake in the merriment. Boy do I feel like Scrooge!

So I have taken to Pinterest and sourced some great snowy fun ideas.

Nothing beats a good old snowman! Grab a hat, scarf and some stones, put in a bit of work and you've got yourself a perfect replica of the classic film. Sort of.


Snow Angels. Last year H watched as Auntie Laura created her best snow angels. Note: if you own a dog you might want to clean up before you hear the snow is coming, or this could get messy!


For something a bit different you could try ice sculptures - make lots coloured ice cubes, and as you make your sculpture pour on a little water to make it stick together. Fantastic!

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Paint in the snow with squeezy bottles! Simply fill some squeezy bottles with coloured water and let them loose!

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Make a snow volcano. Got a budding scientist on your hands? Follow this recipe to make a volcano in the snow!

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And if you really can't stand to be outside, why not make your own snowy fun inside, with these great ideas!

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*this is a featured post

To Holiday in the UK

A few years ago my in-laws bought a caravan on Black Rock Sands in Wales. Having never been brought up holidaying in the UK, and definitely not caravanning, it wasn't something I was that excited about. However my in-laws were proud as punch and quickly decked it out with photos of the family and memorabilia from the beach close by.

Childhood Chic #3

Ok so before Christmas I started a feature I called Childhood Chic, where I shared photos of my little ones and what they were wearing. Unfortunately I got waaaay behind on it and then just couldn't face catching up. Well, today is the day. I'll try my best not to overload you with photos, so here are the best from the last few weeks!


H wears her hedgehog top from Baba & Boo and skirt from Kyna Boutique. J is wearing top from Zara and Jeans from Matalan.


When I saw these amazing trousers from Kitschycoo I just couldn't resist!


Top from Nutmeg at Kiddicare (it was £3!!) and tights from Slugs and Snails


I just love this photo of J - tights from Slugs and Snails, top from Mothercare


I already love the Indikidual leggings J has so when I saw the other designs were on sale I had to get some more - crunk white domino pants from Kyna Boutique. Whilst I was browsing I saw this Ava and  Luc dress and fell in love!


A fellow tweeter shared these dresses from Down With The Kids at Freckled Frog a while ago so I bought this one for H and the other colours for my friends' little girls for Christmas!


I bought this for J for Christmas - its from Little Bird Clothing at Mothercare


When Pumpkin Patch had a mega sale on I got this shirt for J - he's matched it with his Minnie's Macaroon hat!


I also bought this baggy jumper for H from Pumpkin Patch which goes great with skinny jeans.

Phew so there's my recent favourite outfits! I'll be back next week with what they are donning for the New Year!

Minnies Macaroon Hat Review


Just before Christmas we were sent two hats from handmade store, Minnie's Macaroon to try out, so we gave them a good wear in over the holidays and I have to say, we loved them!


Here's To 2014

We are now three days into the New Year and I am hoping so much that this one goes better than last year. What with my dads illness, my own PND and CFS and just generally raising two children so close in age, it has been a tough year all round.

Looking back on last year's first January post I didn't really make resolutions. Instead I planned to spend more time on my blog, which I did - 180 posts compared to 2012's 130! I've already shared my most popular posts for the year, but here is just a little of where my blogging took us all in 2013.


In February via my blog I reunited with an old friend - Leyla at This Day I Love. I am so happy that we have got back in contact and I know she is someone I will be friends with for a long time to come.


In April I finally took the plunge and attended my first blogging event at Kiddicare in Aintree. It was also the second time I met up with Susanne at Ghostwritermummy who I am so pleased to call a friend.


Myself, Susanne and Heather, along with lots of help, put together the NW Mile in Memory Walk for Matilda Mae. It might have rained but it was such a special day.






We enjoyed some lovely days out together including Manchester's Sea Life Centre, The Lookout at the Lowry, Chester Zoo and Wild Wings Birds of Prey.

Thanks to some fantastic brands our garden received a makeover!


I attended Britmums and Blog On and can safely say these were two of my favourite 2013 moments.

I attempted to climb the Yorkshire 3 Peaks and had an amazing experience.





And thanks to The Sweet Shop, Homesense, Cosatto and Next I enjoyed some time to myself and time to meet and chat with other bloggers.


So, what are my plans or goals for 2014?

*First and foremost to tackle this Chronic Fatigue, which in the last few months has taken over our lives. I am at (hopefully) my lowest point right now and I hope in twelve months I can look back on this, feeling like I am living again.

*To continue my blogging and get more into vlogging. I have recently set up a Youtube channel and so far am enjoying creating some vlogs and getting to grips with a different side of things.

*To start to eat better. My diet is appalling and there's no doubt it's contributing to my CFS, so starting now I plan on improving this considerably.

*To complete the Yorkshire Three Peaks, and this year we will do it!!

*To try and be happy. 2013 was a crap year, there's no denying, so here's to making 2014 a better one!

So here's to this year, I hope it's a good one for you all!


ohsoamelia


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