My 15 Month Little Lady...

on Friday, 30 May 2014.

My beautiful LL,

Another few weeks have gone by and with therefore its time for another letter from Mummy.  15 months of having you in our lives- wow!  It feels like you have always been a part of our family, I can't really imagine just being a '3' now.  This past month seems to have whizzed by and I am excited to spend the warmer months with you and your sister.

I have been thinking a lot recently about you being the baby of our family.  Of course you are our baby, you are the littlest, but at 15 months I remember thinking that your sister felt quite a lot bigger than you.  She was properly walking, saying quite a few words and was a lot more interactive than you are.  They say that the smallest child often isn't as quick to do things and to a point I can understand that.  We don't have as much one on one time together and a lot of the times I focus my conversation on Mads.  

I think that's part and parcel of having a big sister, but you and I have a very special bond and always have done.  I often glance over at you when I am chatting or occupied with Mads and you smile the biggest smile, the one that reaches right to your eyes.  That special smile reserved for Mummy.

You aren't walking yet and aren't really showing signs of wanting to either.  You will walk around the room constantly with your baby walker, or on any piece of furniture you can get your hands on, but as soon as I try and hold your hands to guide you, you sit your bottom firmly on the ground.  You also aren't really talking- you babble, shout and chatter with glee, but you don't really have any recognisable words yet.  You don't even really say Mama or Dada properly yet.  You do the usual waving, clapping and pointing at everything, and you understand a lot of what we are saying, but you still just seem so much more like a baby than Mads did at your age.

What you can't say in terms of words, you make up for in terms of affection and happiness.  You are the happiest little thing I know, rarely crying (unless having a mini strop over something) and always smiling.  You offer smiles and giggles to anyone, and have such a carefree, cheerful personality.  We went to the dentist for the first time the other day and you kept trying to hold his hands while he was trying to put them near your mouth!  Speaking of teeth, we now have nine!  Lots have sprouted this month, including some of the big bad back ones, and they have been giving you a little bit of grief.  At nursery they tell me you constantly want to cuddle and at home you are never far from my side- always wanting to lie on me and snuggle.  I love this side of you, you are an absolute joy to be around.

Your hair has grown long this month and it seems that after a long time being straight, you are developing little curls like your big sister.  Hers was always long and unruly even when she was born, but I definitely think you are going to be curly too.  In fact you have the exact same colour hair as her now and I think you are looking a lot more like her too.  When you sit next to each other on the sofa quietly after your naps, I marvel at how beautiful you both are.  I still can't believe I played a part in helping create you both.  

Sleep wise you are still amazing, having a long nap in the afternoon and going to bed at 7 and sleeping through until at least 7 the next day.  You are starting to become a little picky when it comes to food but I am hoping and praying that you won't become as fussy as Mads.  You used to love sandwiches but now won't touch them and you still have a real thing about fruit- you hate it.  But other than that you will eat most things.  Your favourite toys are still both your sheep and you love to bring them out your cot in the morning and give them to me to cuddle.  You also still adore dancing to One Direction 'What Makes You Beautiful', although you will happily dance to anything.  You make us laugh so much when you wiggle your little body to the beat. 

I am not worried about you not achieving some of your milestones yet, you will get there when you are ready.  I know that I treat you more like a baby than I did Mads at this age, but that's just it- you are MY baby.  You will be ready to do these things in your own time and when you are, we will all be there to cheer you on and tell you how clever and special you are.  Because that's just it- you are a very special part of our family and we all absolutely adore you.

Next month is going to be a busy one with a weekend away, a holiday and hopefully lots of fun with family and friends.  Keep being you my littlest lady, we all love you exactly the way you are.


Mummy couldn't love you anymore if she tried.

Thank you for being mine,


Love Mummy xxx



Some Questions About Running...

on Wednesday, 28 May 2014.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, regular readers of this blog will know that back in January I started a simple mission- to lose the last of my baby weight, get fit and above all feel better about myself.  After years of starting faddy diets or exercise attempts and then sticking to them for literally a few days, I didn't hold out much hope that this time would be different.

But this time it has been different.  I have found a passion in running and I can honestly say that it has changed my life.  It has made me feel like a new person and I am loving the way it has changed my mind set, my body and my health.  I have gone from having many wasted gym memberships, horrific attempts at Zumba classes and getting out of breath when walking up the stairs to signing up to three races this year so far, including two half marathons.  I never ever would have thought I would be typing that. 

I am by no means an expert on running nor have I had any professional advice on starting out, but I get lots of messages and emails from people asking me different questions about my running journey.  I thought I would put together some of the ones I get asked the most.  I really am just a beginner and this is just my thoughts- it might not be right, but I love to read about other people's fitness journeys and I read a lot of running blogs, so I hope that these questions will help anyone who wants to start running but is scared to give it a go...

my running journey


Had you ever run before?


No.  I used to run cross country at school once a year and hated it and that was literally it.  I have never run regularly before and thought it was something I really wouldn't enjoy but I really love the way it makes me feel.  I have never stuck at regular exercise, having so many wasted gym memberships but I have stuck to running so far.


 How did you start?


I just ran.  I know that there are a lot of Couch to 5k programmes which encourage you to get the best out of running by combining slow walks with running over a period of a few weeks but I didn't bother with this. I literally just started running a mile, slowly without stopping.  Then after a week or so I began to add a mile or so each time with the aim to get to 5k. (approx 3.1 miles) I never ran flat out, preferring to just go steady.  If I felt like I needed to stop or walk for a few seconds I would do, and then I carried on.  Within a couple of weeks I could run 5k without stopping, although sometimes I was quicker than others.


What trainers do you use?


When I first started running I just used my regular old Nike Airs and my very unused gym kit.  However I found that my feet and knee were hurting after each run, so much so that I would be in a lot of pain.  After some research I decided to go to my local Up and Running store to seek their advice.  They have a fabulous service where they analyse your running style on a treadmill and they found that I over pronate which basically means my foot turns outwards when running.  They suggested I needed a sturdier shoe so recommended me the Saucony Guide 7's which have a bit more support than a normal trainer.  They weren't cheap, about £100ish, but since that day I haven't had any more pain.  It's worth the investment for something that I use a lot but if you haven't got pain then I am sure normal trainers will do the trick.

saucony guide 7


 Do you have any special kit?


Yes and no.  I just use my regular old gym kit for running. (check out Aldi who bizarrely do really cheap but nice gym stuff!) I also have a great cheap sports bra from TK Maxx which keeps my wobbly bits in check.  My only indulgence rather than my trainers is my Nike Sports Watch which Mr E bought me for my birthday.  It keeps track of your times, distance, calories and route and I wouldn't be without it.

nike sports watch


How do you record your results?


Although some people just run and don't care about beating their own records, I find it motivates me to see if I am improving.  When I first started I used to run with my iPhone and record the times with Nike Plus, it is free from the App store and I can't recommend it enough.  There is like a little community on there, you can see how your friends have run, what their personal bests are and challenge each other to compete.  It is really motivating to try and beat your results each time.  I now use the watch which syncs back to the community each time.  I also use FitSnap to post my photos to Instagram as I like to have a record of each run- this is also free and I love to play around with it.  Although not everyone's cup of tea, I love to post my photos to social media as I find other people's photos really inspiring.


How often and how far do you run?


I normally try to run at least two times a week, but I aim for three.  I do two short runs, I have found a perfect 5k route that leads me back to my house so I do that in the week and then I do a longer run at the weekends.  I have been slowly building up my miles (I read somewhere you should increase your distance by 10% each week) and so far the most I have run is 8 miles as sometimes I don't have time to do a longer run.  I actually find that I enjoy the longer runs  more as I don't push myself as hard as I am trying to keep my stamina going.  Life gets in the way sometimes though and I have been poorly quite a bit recently so that has occasionally stopped me from running.  


Do you run flat out?


I don't run at my maximum level as I find that I get so tired that I don't enjoy the run.  I do know that you are supposed to do interval running (e.g run as fast as you can for a minute then slow down and repeat) but as yet I haven't tried this.  I basically run at probably 70% of my maximum stamina and then occasionally push myself a little bit harder.


How do you find the time?


I used to be one of these people that said I don't have time for exercise but a 5k run takes me less than half an hour.  I used to make excuses but the reality is if I can sit and absent mindedly flick through social media for an hour, I can fit in a run.  I normally go just when my husband has come home from work, after I have given the girls dinner as I find once we have got them to bed I cannot be bothered and lack motivation.  At the weekends I go when they are napping in the afternoon or I sent my alarm earlier and go out before they wake up.  


What do you eat before a run?


I really don't know what the proper way is here, but I find that if I eat before hand I feel sick.  So if I go out first thing in the morning I won't eat breakfast and if I go out in the afternoon I will make sure that I haven't eaten for at least an hour beforehand.  I then will drink lots of water and eat a cereal bar, some fruit or a smoothie when I get back.


Do you listen to music?


Yes.  I know that a lot of people say, especially in races, that you shouldn't listen to music, but I really enjoy putting on my music and running.  I turn it down low enough so I can still concentrate on my breathing and hear if there are any cars or people nearby.  I do get bored of my music so change my playlists often, Mr E got me an iPod shuffle for my birthday as a present from the girls so it's lightweight to use when I am out and about.


What are your personal bests?


I really find that pushing myself to beat my goals helps keep me motivated.  I started off in January running 5k in about 33 minutes and 10k in an hour and as of today my personal bests are 25.09 for my 5k and 54.22 for my 10k.  I obviously don't beat these every time but I get excited when I do!  They aren't particularly fast compared to some people but I enjoy getting a buzz from breaking my own records.


What keeps you motivated?


I really do struggle sometimes to get out there and run, usually I find the first half a mile hard and want to turn back.  It sounds cheesy but I try and think to myself about how far I have come and how I feel now when I find a pair of my jeans fit well that haven't fit for years.  I also have signed up for three races- a 10k in June and 2 half marathons in August and October so I have something to aim towards.  Having a goal definitely keeps me motivated and training so I plan to sign up to lots of races next year too.


Have you changed your diet?


Yes and no.  I had a pretty horrific diet before, eating large portions and being a real victim of snacking.  Myself and my husband had got in the habit of having a 'treat' most evenings- sharing a large bar of chocolate or a packet of biscuits.  To initially lose the weight I cut down on my portions and eliminated the snack element of my diet.  However now I am down to my goal weight, I do endulge and will have at least a couple of treats a week, I just make sure that I don't go as crazy as I used too.  I have just been doing small things that make a difference, like eating more fruit and veg, and swapping things like normal potatoes for sweet potatoes. 


What results have you seen so far?


I used to get out of breath walking up the stairs so running has dramatically helped my fitness levels and my overall wellbeing.  I have also managed to lose just over a stone and a half in weight and lose five inches from around my tummy.  I also have gone from a dress size 12-14 to an 8-10 which I haven't been since I was in my early 20's. I definitely contribute all of this to running and whilst I still have a wobbly tummy, I am now proud as I can say that this is definitely just from having two babies rather than too many cupcakes!



***This post may be a little self-indulgent and like I said, I am most certainly not an expert, just a beginner who is really enjoying it.  But I know that I love to hear about other people's running so I hope that this may help anyone thinking about starting to run.  I can honestly say that it is one of the best things I have ever done.  If you prefer photos of my ladies, then they will be back soon, just mixing it up a bit! ;) ***





{The Ordinary Moments 14} #21 'While You Were Sleeping...'

on Sunday, 25 May 2014.

Every night when myself and Mr E go to bed, we check on our sleeping beauties like most parents do I am sure.  I always go into LL's room first, pausing for a second and listening to her breathing, the peaceful rhythm of deep sleep.  I stroke her head and run my fingers through the soft wisps of her hair.  Then it's into Mads room, where we turn off the mushroom lights that help send her off to the land of nod.  She is usually cuddling some sort of creature, her unruly curls splayed out around her on the pillow.  I lean down to kiss her as she is easier to reach than LL, before leaving the door ajar and whispering 'Night Night'.  

There's something really magical about sleeping babies, not least because it's a chance for you to unwind and have a break after a busy day.  Watching them in a deep slumber- so peaceful and still, their little chests rising and falling, it's a part of parenthood that I wish I could bottle up sometimes.  I often yearn to wake them up and scoop them in my arms for a cuddle, but of course I don't.  Just for a small moment each evening I get that huge rush of love, of feeling acutely aware of what a gift they are and of how lucky I am to be their Mummy.

But the reality is, it's just a couple of seconds of what has become part of our night time routine.  Last Thursday I had to take Mr E to an appointment and so therefore I had to wake up the girls from their afternoon nap.  I realise how lucky I am that they nap at the same time and that Mads still naps at all at three, but also I am pretty strict with making sure that unless we are doing something really exciting they both go upstairs to nap every day.  

They were both fast asleep and neither were in any hurry to be roused.  As I was gently trying to wake Mads up, I paused for a second and just observed her.  That overwhelming sense of love came back and I just had to sit down on the chair next to her bed and watch her for a couple of minutes.  She has been changing and growing so quickly recently and we see glimmers of the little person she is becoming, a person who has the world to explore and learn about.  But lying there asleep cuddling one of her toys, she looked so little still.  Those beautiful curls, that little button nose and those deliciously long eyelashes.  I felt this smitten feeling wash over me- that even though we can have testing times, I am so lucky that she is mine.

I should definitely take a few minutes every now and again to watch them both, just for that little bit longer.

sleeping mads may 14 

 On another note, bar 'Rabbit' who sits on the chair in Mads room, I don't remember that many of the cuddly toys from my childhood.  I remember having lots but the memories have grown hazier over time.  Therefore I thought I would take a couple of photos of the 'privileged' few who get to share her bed.

One day a long time in the future when a few of them will be in the loft, some may have new found friends to cuddle them after a mass clear out to the charity shop, or the most special may even have pride of place in her own home, I hope that we will look back at these photos and smile and remember the tales of her most favourite friends and of the many little snippets of memories we have of this amazing period of our lives.







A New Stationery Obsession- And a Sticker Stack Giveaway...

on Thursday, 22 May 2014.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a *teeny* obsession with stationery.  For as long as I can remember I have been what you may call a stationery geek, and our house is overrun with pretty pens, notebooks and folders I genuinely have no use for.  At school I used to get excited every term to buy a new pencil case (I was one of those children) and vividly remember going on 'extremely important' shopping trips with my Mum to buy new pens and pencils every Summer.

Although I am actually pretty unorganised I like to pretend that I am not and therefore I have a notebook for every occasion.  However since my freelance work has stepped up a gear, I decided I needed a monthly planner to sort my life out.  A quick browse around the wonderful world of instagram via Hayley led me to Sticker Stack.

Sticker Stack is a site full of gorgeous East Asian stationery and I wasted pretty much an hour browsing all their gorgeous things.  I have had an obsession for Korean and Japanese stationary ever since one of my childhood friends went to live over there and used to send me back amazing sticker albums.  

I bought the Apple Simplanner, a large, colourful monthly planner with no start date and a huge note section, which was a bargain at £6.00 and a really very cute set of memo stickers that Mads has her eye on.  I am a sucker for a post it note.  With a team based in the UK and a team based in Korea, my goodies arrived beautifully packaged a couple of days later.








I was so impressed with the service and the quality of the products I just had to email and say thank you and I soon found myself chatting to Ben the owner of Sticker Stack.  He is really lovely and although originally from England, he moved over to Korea a few years ago where he met his wife and had his children.  After a few emails back and forth and with me mentioning I would love to support his company on my blog, he very kindly asked if I would like to give away some bits in a competition.

I only review a few products on this blog, but I really was so impressed with my purchases and wanted to shout about them as I know that there are lots of people who are also stationary lovers like myself.  I love it when small business owners are so passionate and this definitely came across when I was chatting to Ben.


If you want to be in with a chance of winning the goodies below then all you need to do is leave a comment below with your favourite item from the Sticker Stack site.  

You could win...


This gorgeous 100 Stories journal/notebook which I very very nearly bought myself, I love the idea of capturing tiny little snippets of our story.


This super stylish A4 briefcase wallet, perfect for storing receipts, artwork, photographs or your endless supplies of scrap paper, if you are anything like me!


It's wonderful to receive a handwritten note, I love to get happy post, so brighten up someone's day with these super cute letter writing sets.


Coral is one of my favourite colours, perfect for summer, and so I would love this corner wallet to store my cards, coins and other bits and bobs.


These two way Deco pens look stylish (they remind me of the Pantone colours brand for some reason) and they will make your notebooks look positively pretty!




If you wanted to support this fabulous small business on social media too then then you can follow them on facebook, instagram and twitter- I am sure they would appreciate it!  

(Competition ends on 12th June at midnight...)


NB.  I paid for my Sticker Stack goodies and have received no payment for this post but I wanted to shout about them because I really do think they are fab.  


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