The Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide For Expectant Mums

Choosing a Christmas present for someone can be tough, but it can be even harder when choosing a special gift for a pregnant lady. You want to choose something practical, and clothes may not be a great choice (“What size shall I go for?!”).

I am now 25 weeks pregnant, and with Christmas coming up I know a few people who will be panicking about this sort of stuff,  with me in mind. If you’re reading this guys – I know it’s hard, but please…if you could just get me a bath filled with chocolate I would really appreciate it.

For those of you who can’t arrange delivery of a chocolate-filled-bath-tub for their pregnant loved one, here are a few other suggestions:

Milton Soother Steriliser and Solo Steriliser – To Keep Her Mind At Rest

milton soother steriliser

Every new mum worries about hygiene and their baby. We are all aware that baby’s bottles, dummies and everything else that goes into their mouth (including house keys, mobiles phones, etc.) will need to be sterilised. It is recommended now that you sterilise your babies things until they are 12 months old, as their immune systems are no where near as strong as ours. The Milton Soother Steriliser is such a clever little idea that seems an absolute necessity now that I have one – I couldn’t actually do without.

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Hang it from your pram after adding Milton sterilising tablets, put a dummy into the sponge, twist and leave the steriliser to do it’s thing. Then, after just 15 minutes, and with no need to rinse, you’re ready to go. I like to keep a dummy in there prepped and ready, should my little one drop hers. Then I can just swap them over.

The solution soaked sponge can be kept in use for 24 hours before you rinse it out and refill ready for the next day! So, no more crying baby because her dummy was dropped on the high street! The steriliser is available in cute Blue, Purple and Green, and is so easy to use that even the most sleep deprived mum, stumbling through town can get the hang of it.
The Milton Soother Steriliser is available on the high street, at around £6.99 from shops such as Tesco, John Lewis and Superdrug.

Solo Steriliser

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Milton also make a handy travel steriliser. This 2 in 1 steriliser can be used in the microwave or used as a cold water steriliser. It’s designed to hold just one bottle so is best suited for when you’re out and about, however, I did find though that we could fit a lot more into the steriliser at once, Holding a bottle, dummy and teether toy.

Again, like the soother steriliser the Solo is such a simple product to use!
If your preferred method of sterilisation is using the microwave, just fill with 60 ml of water put your equipment in as directed and stick in the microwave for just 2 minutes (depending on microwave strength) and if you don’t have much room in the microwave it still works if you lay your Solo on its side!
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If you will be using the cold water method (the old fashioned way as my nan calls it!) simply fill to the indication line, use a Milton tablet or fluid as directed and leave for 15 minutes!
Compared to our old clumpy electric steriliser, the new Milton Solo Steriliser is an absolute dream! Its so quick to use, very easy and nothing fiddly to work out! I also think that as a breastfeeding mum, I don’t use many bottles at all and only use them on a rare occasion when I do, this Solo is perfect for us as we wont be doing any ‘heavy duty’ sterilising, saving us space in the kitchen!

The Solo steriliser is available in many online retailers such as Amazon and , such as and Ocardo.

Beloved Brownies – To Nibble On

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Every pregnant woman deserves a scrummy treat to say ‘Well done for growing another whole human! You’re doing great! Only another 20 weeks to go’ and so the perfect parcel of the most delicious chocolate brownies says just that! But in a nicer way…

Beloved Brownies are a beautiful, independent business run by mum of 3, Lisa Course. I’m lucky that they’re based locally to me, and you’re all lucky that they deliver anywhere in the UK. The brownies are made with the finest ingredients, as well as free range eggs supplied from a local farm. They arrive in the sweetest packaging, an organic box, pretty tissue paper, and finished with a ribbon. You can even let Lisa know if you want a special message added to the handmade gift tag enclosed with every box you order.

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You can choose from Original, Banana, Salted Caramel, Chocolate Orange, Coconut, Pecan, Chocolate & Raspberry, Rocky Road or White Chocolate. But which one to choose? Impossible if you ask me!

I decided to give the Chocolate Orange brownies a try, and WOW what an incredible sensation (Lisa knows how I described eating them for the first time – he he) but there was just one problem … they did not last long! I don’t mean the amount of time that they keep fresh, as that comes in at about 5 days, but the fact I consumed them over 2 nights … I was impressed that they lasted even that long!

Over all, a wonderful, sweet gift that any lady would love, be her an expectant lady, or a new mum … or if you’re feeling super kind, the new dad might even appreciate some!

Lisa’s Beloved Brownies, can be purchased directly from her website here.

AVENT DECT Baby Monior – So she can hear everything

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I believe that a good baby monitor will be one of the most important buys for any new family, that will last them for years to come and keep their minds at rest, ultimately keeping the whole family happy- and safe.

The fab team at AVENT have delivered a simple but very high tech and effective baby monitor. The DECT monitor with temperature and humidity sensor has a very simple system that is super easy to use, looks stylish and does exactly what you want it to!

Just plug in and go… that’s it! The receiver has a charging battery that you can carry around with you as you move about the house or garden, it can play lullabies straight to baby’s room, the compact and easy to read monitor tells you the nursery temperature and humidity levels and continues to work even if there is a power failure. The monitor controls the night light on the baby’s room device and you can even choose to talk back into the monitor for baby to hear, is very lightweight and has a roaming range of 330 metres! If you know my family you may know that we do care for the environment and using as little energy as possible, the AVENT baby monitor has a fantastic energy saving ECO mode.

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I found that the monitor has crystal clear sounds due to its zero interference and private connection, meaning that it picked up even the smallest of noise from my girls room and so very easy to set up and use. The talk back feature was very useful if Willow woke up calling for a wee, and I could tell her that I was on my way so that she didn’t panic. We even used it to contact Santa when Willow wouldn’t sleep, Who knew that Santa could be contacted Via Baby Monitor?! The monitor even came with a handy travel bag for when staying over grandparents house, so that it didn’t end up scratched and damaged in transit. A very basic (in todays terms) baby monitor, that delivers exactly what you need. It made us feel secure and safe in our new house where we can no longer just hear them if they wake up.

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The AVENT DECT baby monitor can be found here, on Amazon for £81.31.

Dodo-Pad – To Keep Her Organised!

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As a new mum trying to juggle every day tasks, a common condition known as “baby brain” can often make life seem 1000x harder. Doctors appointments. Weighing clinics. Mums clubs. That promised slice of cake and a cuppa with her best friend. All your appointments and engagements are tucked away at the back of her brain and far too easily forgotten when baby starts crying for milk. Its not her fault, remembering to take a shower each morning is tricky enough.

The Dodo-Pad is the all-round life-organiser. Actually it is a ‘combined diary-doodle-memo-message-engagement-organiser-calendar-book’. Their words. Not mine.

Even from the cover of this pad (to say it in brief) you can tell that this is no ordinary diary/pad/you get the idea. Its actually hilarious. Containing funny drawings, (not so useless) common knowledge facts, lots of spaces for note taking and even instructed places to doodle, oh and a handy pocket to keep important stuff… like receipts for all those baby bits she needs to buy soon!

Each day of the year is laid out clearly, with 5 spaces for different engagements for each day. These spaces can be used for the expectant mum to write info for her, baby, dad, cat, goldfish… whoever… or actually to divide the day up into time slots… its completely up to her how she organises the diary. I find the concept such a great Idea!

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The 2015 Dodo pad is just £12.99 and available from their online shop.

As an extra little something to help her keep really organised (as if the Dodo pad isn’t enough!) Why not add the mini size Dodo Blank Book.
At just 136mm x 139mm it is the perfect companion for the changing bag, to make quick shopping lists, scribble down phone numbers and even (as I learned myself) to give to her toddler while she feeds the baby… what fantastic art my 2 year old made for me!

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The Dodo Pad Mini Blank Book can also be found on their online shop for £4.50. A wonderful little stocking filler!

Teatulia Tea – To keep her calm

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Its lovely to sit back, put your feet (and swollen ankle’s – sorry ladies) up and kick back with a nice book and a cuppa. Especially when you are carrying around all of that extra weight and scrubbing everything insight because you are nesting… you deserve a break mamma!

Teatulia organic teas are grown in a single USDA-certified organic garden in northern Bangladesh, and at nearly 2,000 acres, the Teatulia tea garden is one of the largest organic tea gardens in the world! Like a fine estate wine, Teatulia’s single garden organic teas ensure a purity, accountability and freshness that derive from perfect growing conditions: the soil is developed with the use of organic cover crops and mulching and the growing area is irrigated by rainwater. In short, Teatulia sell some of the best tasting tea in the world. And sitting down with a cup of Teatuila, in my finest china feels just perfect.

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There are five refreshing flavours to choose from: Lemongrass, Tulsi, Earl of Bengal, Green Tea and Black Tea. Simply tumble boiling water over your tea, steep for three to four minutes and let the aroma transport you to the Teatulia gardens. Or for an invigorating summer treat, let cool and splash over ice.

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Teatulia teas retail at £3.40 for 20 individually wrapped sachets and are available from Holland & Barrett, Harrods, independent health and wholefood stores nationwide. For further information visit www.teatulia.co.uk

 Monsoon For Oxfam Wash Bag – To pack in her hospital bag

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This beautiful little textile wash bag is created by the Self Employed Womens Association – artisan producers from India, for the newest collaboration for Oxfam by Monsoon to once again bring us a fab range that is affordable and high quality. The collaboration first launched in 2011 to help create livelihoods for disadvantaged communities and raising money to help Oxfam fight poverty around the world.

This practical little gift, can be stocked with lovely little treats and popped into her sticking ready for her hospital bag to use on the ward. Because, as much as us new mums hate to admit it … we still plan on taking our mascara! There will be photos taken remember!

The cute Oxfam washbag, is available for £6.99 and can be found here.

Echo Falls Tisane Alcohol Free Sparkling Infusion – To fill her glass at Xmas Dinner

We all love a nice glass of bubbly on Christmas day, whether that is champagne or something a little less ‘giddy’!

Personally, I haven’t had an alcoholic drink for a while, even before this pregnancy! But I do like to have a glass of something a little special at parties or get-togethers. I often choose for something simple such as an Orange and Lemonade…. not so classy! But, All of my dreams came true (OK, dreams that could be found fizzing in a glass) when I discovered the new Tisane Alcohol Free Sparkling Infusion from the lovely folk at Echo Falls.

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The drink is made from 95% fermented grape juice and 5% infused tea. And it looks totally stunning served in a champagne glass or my best crystal. At just 26 Calories per glass, it is so much more friendly on my (ever expanding) waistline.

The bottle looks very impressive, being served from the contemporary straight sided Champagne bottle and being perfectly finished with stunning labels. But once poured into the glass, the drink itself pulls out at all of the stops. It is surprisingly bubbly and refreshing and the slightest hint of tea sits perfectly on my tongue, whilst not being overpowering in the slightest.

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This alcohol free sparkling wine is perfect in colour, taste, sweetness and overall look. A personal recommendation for the dinner table on Christmas day… Or even to place on the table for the office party. A sweet treat that any expectant mum would love. I would be very happy to find a bottle tucked at the bottom of my Christmas stocking, ready to chill for later!

Echo Falls Tisane Alcohol Free Sparkling Infusion can be found in the Wine section of Tescos Online for £23.49 per case (around £3.99 per bottle).

Moon Times Cloth Pads – For feeling amazing after baby has been born

After the baby is born, and nature returns in the form of Aunt Flo, its only fair that the new mum to be feels as comfortable and as special as can be!

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Rachel Hertogs brings us her beautiful and very pretty range of organic cloth pads, a modern alternative to disposable sanitary pads. Her cloth pads are made from organic cotton and are available in an amazing range of sizes, patterns, styles and inserts to suit all flows. A perfect gift for any planet savvy mum! It has been noted that through the regular use of using cloth pads, women who are used to experiencing heavy or even painful periods have said how their flows have become lighter and much more manageable! Most certainly something to consider if your friend has turned to you for comfort (and a huge bar of chocolate) during her monthly.

The organic starter set contains a panty liner, 2 ‘pocket’ pads, and a selection of 6 inserts; 2 organic cotton, 2 hemp and 2 toweling and a tub which can be used to soak your pads after use, until washing.

The organic pad set, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what Moon Times have to offer, and the very useful website has lots of info. The Organic Pad set is just £30 and a great introduction to the world of reusable. Also, if you have any questions that are not answered on the site, just drop Rachel a message and she will get back to you. She is a wealth of knowledge and truly knows her stuff.

Rachels book Menarche, A Journey Into Womanhood, is a mums’ and girls’ guide to celebrating her first period. It is also available from her online store, and is most certainly worth a read.

Don’t forget to use the code MT10%OFF at the checkout too!

Comfort, Settle & Sleep – A book to help her feel prepared

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Knowledge is power, right? Something like that! I remember expecting my first baby and not having a clue what to expect! I knew that I wanted to keep things as natural as possible, keep every one calm and pretend that I wasn’t shaking in my boots with anxiety and confusion! Haha!

I liked to pick up books and read bits here and there but I often found these books too heavy to digest, too wordy and most definitely too blinking long… if I was to read one from front to back, it wouldn’t be baby advice that I was after, but teenager advice by the time I had finished it!

Mother of three and holistic therapist Samantha Quinn brings us Comfort, Settle & Sleep – a wonderful pick-up-and-refer book, revealing natural calming techniques to ensure that the sweet new bundle of joy makes a smooth transition from the womb to the cradle through the power of baby massage, reflexology and aromatherapy.

The little 128 page book delivers new mums with effective and practical ideas for head-scratching situations such as reading baby’s types of cry, sound and behavior, Physical and emotional benefits of baby massage, recommended complimentary therapies and natural remedies and solutions for colic, fever, cradle cap. reflux, teething and even Post natal depression… that’s just a few! Oh and dealing with sleep deprivation.

With beautiful photographs and clear step by step images to compliment baby massage Samantha’s book is visually educating also. I loved the idea of having a book that I can quickly refer too, that reflects my want for a more holistic and natural approach to my body, baby and the tender time during  the postnatal period, including wonderful advice on breastfeeding hiccups and even stretch marks! The book also boasts a wonderful resources section at the back of the book with some of the most useful contact information for websites and organisations that any new family may need. To be honest, I was ‘sold’ with the cute co-sleeping picture on the cover!

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A wonderful book, that any new mum (or dad!) would really treasure for years to come, well actually, a lifetime of invaluable knowledge!

The book Comfort, Settle & Sleep by Samantha Quinn is available on the authors website Mumma Love Organics for just £9.99

If you want any further information on the items featured here, please feel free to leave a comment below.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!!!!

olive

Indoor Party Games For When The Weather Is Bad

Indoor party games for when the weather is bad

Great British Weather- always unpredictable!

If there is one thing you can rely on, it’s the unreliability of British weather.
You may have spent weeks planning the perfect outdoor party, the gazebo may be up, party bags and accessories from a range of children’s party supplies, but the weather shows no mercy – and then, you find that you have a houseful of children to entertain. Plan ahead and make sure your party still goes off with a bang with these great indoor party games ideas…
Smaller children love a bit of magic – and you can do it!
All you need is three cups, one coin and a sea of cute little faces all looking on with eager enthusiasm. You will need to keep an eye on where the coin is (that is, under which cup you placed the coin!). Even better is when you can get the cups near the edge of the table and get the coin to drop over the edge… you can then do the big reveal that the coin has actually vanished!
Freeze!
Call it what you want, ‘freeze’, musical statues or something else, the rules stay the same. Play some music and make sure that the kids are ‘dancing’ in weird shapes and then stop that music! They have to hold their freeze position for as long as possible….
You can award small prizes for some of the most grotesque or weird faces and shapes being pulled! Make it fun as for some younger children the thought of being ‘eliminated’ can create a lot of tension and unhappiness in the room (it can for older children too!)
Paper bag sketches
These can create a lot of hilarity and laughs and are perfect for the older age group, from 10 years upwards. Using paper bags, or any other kind of bag or box in which the other groups cannot see into, place different objects in the box.
Divide your larger group of party guests into smaller groups (3 or 4 children works well) and give them each a box and 10 minutes to create a mini-sketch, using the objects in the box as props in their mini-play.
Give each group 3 minutes to perform their mini-play.
Add a touch of mystery – you can also add a word that the group must integrate in to their improvised script but, the remaining guests need to guess what the mystery word was. Have prizes for the winner. This is a great game and can cause spontaneous laughter for a long, long time.
Add an extra layer again – get the hosts to vote for their favourite sketch and award a prize. If you have adult helpers, get them involved with their own mini-sketch too!
Balance beam
However, before you think that you will supervising gymnastics, you’ll be pleased to know that this is a floor level beam. All you need is a roll of masking tape laid out in a straight line on the floor. Kids need to walk on the line, with one foot placed directly in front of the other. You can up the ante with kids walking backwards and then you can also introduce a blindfold (however, not everyone is keen on being blindfolded, so take care).
Hide & Seek
An old favourite that has been around for centuries! Hide and seek can be played along traditional lines; there is usually one person who is “it”. This guest will then be taken out of the equation and the remaining children then hide.
Indoors this game can be difficult to manage as if you have a large number of guests and a small house or venue, then it can be difficult to find enough places for guests to hide! Older children may want to add to up the ante a little more, by playing this game in the dark. You can give ‘It’ a torch or once they have finished counting, you can switch the lights on and off they go to find people.
But, it can be boisterous so keep the cycles of playing hide and seek under control…
Find the object
Or, another great game is to hide a pre-chosen object somewhere in the house or venue. Or you can create a trail of objects… again, another high octane game that can be difficult to control.
Calming down game – hot potato
You may not think from the name of the game that this is a calming down game but, it involves the children sitting in a circle. You then need to find an object, preferably something soft that can act as a hot potato. When the music is playing the hot potato needs to be passed around the circle as quickly as possible; unfortunately, the person holding the hot potato when the music stops is removed from the circle. The best bit is when you are down to two people!
Memory tray
And finally, another calming game is a memory tray. A variety of objects are placed on a tray and covered with a cloth. Guests get 30 seconds to memorise the objects on the tray which is then covered and removed from the room; the guests are then required to remember as many objects as possible. You can either get them to write their answer down, or call out on an individual basis.
You can always have round 2 as this tends to produce better results.

Are We Scaring Women Out Of Childbirth?

Childbirth.

A woman, laying on her back, legs in stirrups up in the air, she is screaming in pain with beads of sweat and tears rolling down her forehead. A panicked husband stood by her side, or is that him passed out on the floor? So many doctors and midwives, maybe even a surgeon. Utensils everywhere- ones that look like salad servers, ones that look like plungers and even one that looks like a pair of scissors big enough to castrate Godzilla. There are machines beeping, and a massive shiny light pointing at the mother-to-be’s bits.

Are there talks of tearing or cutting? Maybe even a rush to theatre to cut the baby from her womb? Is there loads of blood? That poor woman. How awful childbirth must be for her? Why would she ever consider going through that? Heck, why would she ever do it more than once?!

Good job it isn’t really like that then eh? ;) Maybe in a good soap opera or an epic blockbuster. But very rarely in real life. I’m pretty sure of it.

But why do we all have this sterotypical image of childbirth? To me it is absolutely horrifying and it really does make me wonder why I did ever chose to do it, not once but soon to be three times. Childbirth is one of the most natural things in the world (along side sex, breastfeeding and going to the toilet… all three going hand in hand actually) yet we have this image of it throwing us into a world of the unknown… and we all know that the biggest thing to be scared of is the unknown.

I was chatting to a lady this morning who wants kids, she is amazing around small people, has a lot of siblings but is not a mother herself yet, she wants to be and they will come soon. Despite her very loving and maternal image (I find her a very gentle and loving human being) she said something that shocked me this morning-  ‘I’m not sure if I can deal with the pain’ and we went into a discussion about epidural’s. Actually that’s a lie, I went into a rant about epidurals and the risks that they carry. I’m not against women choosing that method of pain relief and if women believe it truly is the way that they want push a baby into this world, then so be it, I’m not ever going to change their minds am I? But it made me wonder how these women get the idea pop up in their heads, if they cant handle the pain then an epidural is the only way forwards.  Actually I will take this moment to not single out epidurals, but include pethidine, diamorphine etc… I think the list may be a lot longer.

Is it because it’s what we see on TV? With programmes like One Born Every Minute (Which is a programme I am obsessed with, and I completely blame that show for the reason that I am preggo again) and even shows such as Teen Mom, we are so used to seeing a woman in labour with a drip firmly attached to the base of her spine. But how often do we see women with doulas, working through their ritualistic breathing techniques, deeply following holistic methods of pain relief such as hypnobirthing? Hardly ever, in fact I can recall seeing a woman use a TENS machine…. once. A TENS machine!

As I approach my 3rd labour, I am starting to learn more than ever. When I had Willow I knew nothing. I was given an induction and pethidine, I was put on a drip to artificially create my contractions and I even gave birth in an operating theatre, on my back. Damn, never again! With Olive, I went into natural labour, only had Gas and Air and delivered her on all fours (a much more comfortable position!). There was only myself, Jay and 2 midwives in the room, The room was dark, and silent. It was beautiful actually. And when this baby decides to make an appearance, I don’t even want to be on a bed! Oh, how I have changed! No I havnt changed, I have developed.  And if I am on a bed, it will be my own, at home. Jay will deliver her with a midwife on hand to watch, completely hands free and naturally. Just how God intended. I hope…. :)

I had a stranger approach me from my home town of Milton Keynes. We had a mutual friend who didn’t have a very good experience of labour. Her actual words were ‘Its so painful, I’ll never do it again ever. I’d rather DIE’. She had told this stranger (Who was days away from giving birth to her first) the whole ins and outs of this atrocious birth- it was so bad because she didn’t get the epidural that she asked for in the first few hours of her labour. Not that she tore or had a haemorrhage, and no forceps or ventouse were to be seen. This young girl asked me what my labour was like with Willow (I was still pregnant with Olive at the time) But instead of recalling how ‘static’ my labour was with her, I told her about the joy and the best bits- like the wonderful skin to skin, and that amazing rush of hormones that you get at the end of it all. I didn’t mention pain or the drugs that I was given. Actually, What pain? What drugs?! ;) She went on to have a beautiful labour without any pain relief other than just water, delivering her 9lb boy in the birthing pool. Completely unassisted. I firmly believe that if she entered that delivery room with the idea of pain and fear in her mind, her delivery would not have gone the same way at all.

It took me a while to get the stereotypical birth out of my head and think about what happens to us naturally. We need to spend more time educating women not to fear birth but to embrace it and love it and make it our own. We need to show women that there is nothing to be scared of, our vaginas are made to push a baby out and for those ladies who have to have a C Section for whatever reason, that’s fine too. Your body hasn’t failed. But you do still have options, that can make the experience more personal for you. We need to stop showing women what is in the hospital store cupboard and show them what is in their souls… a beautiful birthing woman.

So ladies (and gents), lets ditch this image of pain, and blood, and screaming and lets ditch the passed out husband! Lets welcome our babies into a world of love and emotion.  And most importantly lets stop scaring each other with silly stories!

olive2olive1

 

We Have A New Baby

Her name is Boo!!

She’s 8 weeks old, jet black and very very fluffy!!

Baby Boo joined our family last week and she has settled in puuuuurfectly!
She’s the first cat that we’ve adopted as a family even though I have had cats my whole life, except for these last few years whilst we lived in rented accommodation.
We chose the name Boo! because we picked her up at Halloween and being an all black cat , she’s quite spooky!!

The kids love her and are so behaved with her, but I most definitely think her favourite human is my hubby Jay! She won’t leave him alone :)

So, here she is…. SHES SO FLUFFFFYYYY!!

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Oh Internet How I Missed You

Yippee!!! Connection! To the outside world!
More importantly, we have our TiVo back! Ooh sweet sweet recordable TV, glorious Netflix, Mr.Bloom…. On demand.

Sorry, where was I?
Oh yeah that’s it. So we have now been in the new house for a week, we are half unpacked and the living room is 3/4 of the way to being finally decorated. Only another 9 rooms/hallways to go until we are finished! But even with bare walls and boxes everywhere, it already feels like home. Oh and we have a kitten!!!!
More about her in another post ;) hehehe!

We have always privately rented in the past, and all we had to worry about at the time was getting our belongings in and unpacked. This time, we have to deep clean, decorate and (gulp!) buy carpet!! But it’s going OK so far, I don’t think we will be finished by Christmas though.

It is our home though, regardless of what it looks like at the mo… And we are all in love :) xxx

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