ONE MAMA’S BUMP DIARY (weeks 23-25)

baby bump soft

The bump is big. Yes, yes it is… I am growing a human.

My inner critic has been harassing me a little this week, despite the fact that I am not enormous or about to keel over with obesity but we all have these moments of self-doubt, (don’t we?) and for some reason mine was this week. I’ve not been eating as well as I should have. I’ve had far too many cravings for ludicrous coloured ice creams dipped with hundreds and thousands of hundreds and thousands and I’ve been eating a LOT of chocolate not to mention drinking a gallon of ribena each day! so all in all I think we can safely say “Mama’s got a sweet tooth!”

Aside from that, I also haven’t been sleeping that well as I can’t seem to get comfy now I’m that little bigger and feeling rather more cumbersome. I’m a little snappy with my husband and have already started to feel a little bit like I am nesting. He is well accustomed to it now it’s round too but I still feel bad. Hope he knows it’s the hormones and not actually ‘me’. I think he does (fingers crossed).

But it has been a good week for self-loving though and this is what we are going to talk about in my “Glow with the Flow” session this week.

Here are my self love activities that I can tick off:

SELF-LOVE

  • given myself about 4 facials in a fortnight. Cleanse, tone and moisturise. I use a bamboo flannel and take 10 minutes to really relax and treat myself.
  • gone to the woods. Freddie and I go pretty much every Friday. He loves it, I love it and being outside in nature does wonders for the soul – fact.
  • looked though old photos of Freddie and reminded myself how far I’ve come as his mama and what I’ve learned along the way.
  • taken a load of naps  – the best being yesterday’s 2 and a half hour one and I still managed bed at normal time! Thank you my man!
  • had a coffee with fellow mama. So good to be able to share this world of motherhood
  • read my book (this is such a rarity but o so good for the soul!)
  • chatted on the phone to bestest friends – nothing better.
  • went swimming in my PJs  – not quite as liberating as skinny dipping but fun all the same!
  • did yoga and balanced with the best of them – gave myself the kudos!
  • cooked, baked, sewed made smoothies and scrapbooked!
  • My little one and I have also crafted together but will be writing about that in a separate post soon. ( Easter crafts)

I hope this inspires you to do a little of all the things you love and see how much better you feel in mind and body.

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C A M P B E S T I V A L

An insight into festival life this summer, with a baby in tow ….

It’s been a week back from the fun fest…..

Some thought us mad taking our 11 month old son with us to a festival, others thought us brave, some gave us an impressed nod and others thought we were totally crazy but my husband and I had never been to a festival… so when your mate says let’s meet at Camp Bestival 2018, I’m working and can sort you some tickets…. and then someone else says they have craft work for you and want you to help out with am exclusive private breakfast gathering, We were hardly going to say no to the hottest family festival around!!!

The theme this year at Camp Bestival was “Set Sail” and I couldn’t wait to get involved! Dress up is something I love to do, stemming from my love of theatre and I couldn’t wait to plan my outfits! I thought I’d down well with my look but my goodness were there some fabulous sights! People really went to town and I figured as long as you have something to give a little nod to the theme you’ll blend right in! I was of course anticipating lots of glitter and sparkle but I’ve never seen so many face gems and sparkly make up. It was like a glitter confetti gun exploded and everyone was like “shoot me, shoot me!”

Obviously being a festival organised by the very talented Rob Da Bank, I was expecting some great music but the line up was truly fantastic. There was such an eclectic mix of new/ fab music reverberating with crystal clarity around the Lulworth Estate as well as the awesome headliners, Rick Astly, Clean Bandit and some genuine favourites; The Cuban Brothers who bizarrely I remember gigged at Goldsmiths’ Club Sandwich! We picnicked on Friday afternoon right by the main stage and were treated to artists Dodi and Rae Morris. Both beautiful singer song writers with stunning voices, not out of place on your Spotify playlists and for a while we revelled in the joys of listening to live music al fresco and it was bliss. There was so much to see and do with such a variety of genres and activities you could never get through all of it in a weekend. But that’s the beauty… you’ll always leave wanting more.

The food options were also amazing and at times it was hard to decide which stall to go to. There was everything from Pad Thai, organic burgers, fresh oysters, burritos, vegan establishments, sushi, and Ghanaian cuisine to name only a few. A serious feast fest known as the Feast Collective and perfect when you all fancy different things for lunch/dinner. We enjoyed the thumping tunes from DJ BBQ and his 21 hour smoked pulled pork but perhaps not the place to head towards if you are vegan.

Camp Bestival really was a feast for the senses and the most exciting, enthralling, magical, enchanting, dazzling, intoxicating weekend ever that tired us out (in a good way) and meant we all slept for 10+ hours after we made a swift escape before the storm hit and the rest of the festival was cancelled.

It was also the first time we have ever camped with a baby and we definitely learnt a few things this weekend when it comes to packing and being festival virgins! Can you ever really be prepared for camping in 40mph winds with an 11 month old?

Here are our top 10 tips for camping at a festival with a babe in arms:

1️⃣ 🎒PACK LIGHT – you most definitely won’t need everything you have packed and I know this because I packed for every possible eventuality. I can’t help it now I am a mama – it’s like I’m in competition with myself to be ready for anything. However when your pitch is 4 fields away from your car and your poor husband is doing shuttle runs with 5 times his body weight and he says to you “I’ve only bought the essentials some things I’ve left”, you nod (pray he has bought the pillows) and realise that you can survive with the bare minimum.

2️⃣ BUT BE PREPARED – still make sure you have your rain mac, sunnies, suncream and boots to hand because you just never know when the weather will change.

3️⃣ 🏡HOME COMFORTS – dummies, familiar foods, toys, books, blankets it’s amazing how little ones relate to things they recognise especially if you are sleeping in a tent for the first time. We took our travel cot with the hope Freddie would sleep easy.

4️⃣ 💰CASH – sometimes it’s just good to have some on you especially when to rent a trolley you might need a large deposit.

5️⃣ 👶🏼🍼 BABY GEAR – you need to keep Baby warm at night so don’t forget the warm sleeping bag. Sleep suits and vests are great to layer up and it’s worth packing an extra blanket. Ear defenders are also a must for little ears to protect them from the loud sounds of a music festival! Don’t forget the dummy and ready made milk and I packed pouch food to make it simple.

6️⃣ 📆 PLANNING vs SPONTANEITY – we didn’t plan to see a particular artist, or event this year as we just wanted to get a feel for what a festival is like so we wandered around taking in all the sights and sounds. Next time though we think we might read through the programme in more detail and make a mini plan of the things we’d like to see/ do/ visit etc. We were lucky enough to see some great stuff though just by wandering aimlessly around and that, I guess, is the beauty of a festival!

7️⃣ 📝 ESSENTIAL ITEMS:

* Trolley – to cart everything including your child/ children (lots of families have them and decorate them too! Not sure how great they would be in mud though.

* Torch -you will need one. We took head torches as easy to carry and I like to be hands free but we also found our tent lantern really useful for those midnight nappy changes.

* Bin liners – for everything – keeps the tent organised, everything cleared away and when you leave you’ll feel good for having kept Britain tidy!

* Bucket – I hate to admit it but sometimes when you have to go you have got to go and the toilets are just too far away and when there are people all around……only a bucket and a bag will do!

* Toilet roll – for in the campsite but also during the day at the festival when the toilets have usually run out of toilet roll.

* Rucksack – to carry all essential items for the day without having to head back to the tent.

8️⃣ 🦄 FANCY DRESS – there is no hiding from it I’m afraid and anything goes, So my advice is embrace it and immersed yourself in the glitterati! Don’t forget a mirror so you can actually see where you are putting the gems and remember the face wipes if you like to sleep fresh – although part of the festi vibe is to rock that glitter for as long as possible! Each year there is a theme too so make sure you keep up to date and I like to do a few searches on the internet to get a little inspo!

9️⃣ 💧WATER – I’d suggest to take your own water bottle that you can fill up on site but also bring a couple of bottles of water to keep on the tent. You never know when you might have to wash or warm some milk. Plus remember to drink lots – festivals are very thirsty work as you do not want a dehydration head ache!

🔟 💤 NAP – key. We were not really there long enough but it would be my top tip. Give yourself and your little ones time to nap and recharge before heading back out into the craziness… we headed back to the tent for tea around 4/30ish to keep a little routine with babe but find what works for your family.

I hope this proves it can be done and gives you confidence. It was an adventure but one we won’t forget!

Going Wild

Going wild – a 30 day journey of discovery in the Dorset countryside with mama and baby

The month of June, when summer finally arrives and the countryside is a buzz with nature and the weather entices you outside on a daily basis so what better way than to spend your days outdoors appreciating the beauty of Mother Nature and really enjoying what she has to offer. Having spotted something online about the #30dayswild campaign hosted by The wildlife trusts across the UK, I thought it would be fun to challenge myself and see what I could find and do that involved nature and being outside. It’s hard sometimes to find the motivation to get about and do things especially when you’ve just landed on planet Motherhood but I can not express how therapeutic being outside with your baby is. Not only will you feel great your little one will be encapsulated by nature and experiencing his/her new world first hand with you!

30 days sounds like a long time but it went so quickly and it was amazing some of the things we got up to. Being accountable on social media has its plus points for sure. Mainly it was a chance to really stop and look around and to really see what nature there was right outside our front door, but during the month I realised how much it did for my wellbeing and no doubt little Freddie’s too. He’s always been a lover of the outdoors right from the start when we would go walking everyday and watch the changing of seasons but now, to be able to share in the delights of his surroundings is a real joy. As he is grows, he can now notice the movement of the butterflies cruising from bud to bud and hear the bees buzzing. He loves to watch the trees move in the wind and looks up to see the clouds. I’ve found myself wanting to learn more about what we’ve seen in the hope when he is old enough to ask me “mama, what’s that?” I’ll be able to respond confidently and be able to teach him about the wildlife around us. We’ll see though….

I hope my posts on Instagram might have inspired some of you mamas out there to step outside with your seedlings and share with them the beauty that is all around us, both in cities and in the countryside. I know I’ll be taking part again even if it’s just to nourish the soul. You can find more of my wildlife posts @MrsStrongman. Children remember their experiences, we all love to make memories and so this family is staying wild!

Cows go Moooooooooooo

When the farmer opens his gates to the public, grab the bull by the horns!

Open farm Sunday is a special day in the countryside calendar when farmers open their gates and let the public in! LEAF Open Farm Sunday began in 2006 and since then over 1600 farmers across the UK have flung open their gates and welcomed 2 million people onto their farms.

It is a brilliant opportunity for everyone, young or old to discover what it means to be a farmer, at first hand and to witness the fabulous work they do across the country, producing our food, caring for livestock and enhancing the countryside with all the goods and services our farmers provide.

curly sheep

Each farm will offer something different and will be based around the farm’s individual story of how they are where they are today. Activities might include a nature walk, tractor ride, demonstrations, local crafts, mini farmers market and plenty of activities for the children.

farmThis was my first year attending. Tom was working so I decided to take Freddie. His great uncle is a farmer so it’s basically in his blood…. so off we went to visit Knife Hill Farm in Winterborne Stickland. What a treat it was. Freddie loves the tractor ride, as did I! There was even a tractor simulator on site, as well as animal petting, milking demonstrations, farming machinery on display and a trusty tractor ride that was a definite highlight for the visitors. There was space for picnics and even though it felt stormy, the rain held off. It felt like a true privilege to be able to explore the farm and hear all about how they farm organically in the heart of Dorset. The farm workers were extremely passionate about their work and it was great for the children to see what happens at Knife Hill Farm, home to 400 cows who graze the grass and clover leys around the dairy. You could even sample the types of products that contain the milk produced by the farms cows. I kept thinking how great it was for the children to be able to see the journey of the milk and begin to understand a bit more about how the milk makes the transition from something that cows produce to products on the supermarket shelves.

Open Farm Sunday runs each year so keep your eyes open in 2019 to find a great farm near you opening it’s barn doors!

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tractor ride
“Cows go MOOOOOOOOOOO!”

Wood fair fun!

An enchanting country fair exposing a creative and skillful country life.

Sunday 20th May, a beautiful day to be out and about in the countryside and attending my first wood fair up at the Living Classroom where we go to Bush Babies. It was put on by the Dorset Coppice Group who are working hard to promote their love of the woodland, share their skills and passions as well as their services. The Coppice group’s aims are:

  • to promote the coppice industry and its products to the public
  •  provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information between members
  •  form a bridge between coppice workers, landowners and other relevant agencies
  •  provide an educational resource for schools and other groups to encourage outdoor learning in The Living Classroom 

And they also provide courses throughout the year for anyone who is interested in learning a new skill, working with wood or who would like to know more about the preservation of craftsmanship.

We arrived early and wandered around the lovely stalls of handmade wooden crafts; from toadstools, bowls, walking sticks, coat hooks and even magic wands made from wood that had been constricted by wild honeysuckle. I certainly learnt a few tricks or two. There were birds of prey perched in the shade and a beautiful working horse demonstrating his use for coppicing. What a treat.

 

 

My highlight though was being front row watching a sparring competition and as a new member of the country community it felt like an initiation! I had no idea what a spar even was before I sat down. But that was all about to change ….

The thatchers taking part in the competition take 28 inch long straight hazel sticks, known as gads which have been cut from the coppice at Bonsley Wood, during the winter time when the sap is low. This allows them to be strong enough to use on the ridging (the top part of the roof to you and I). To make the spar each gad is riven in half by splitting the wood in-between any knots, split down the middle following the natural grain of the wood. They can be split multiple times (fours, sixes, eights) and usually the more times it can be split the more skilled the spar maker. The points at each end are then created using an exceptionally sharp spar hook.

They are then bundled up with a colour tie and can be sold by the thousands to working thatchers.

The thatcher uses spars by double twisting them to form a U shaped peg as Rod Miller described for me “like a hair pin with a smooth edging which will allow the water to roll of it on the roof.” They have to be skilfully twisted, not just bent in half in order to work effectively.

The competition was to see how many spars the thatchers could make in 15 minutes. It was tense. Blazing sunshine in the middle of the day was probably not the best environment for the thatchers but they stepped up to the challenge and stayed professional to the end, each perched on their stool or chair with hooks, thigh pads at the ready. Many different techniques were used to split the hazel, each competitor using their own long standing knowledge of how to work the hazel and their tools.

The winner was Rod Miller, founder of R.V Miller Ltd who very kindly shared his knowledge with me to enable me to write this post. He is Dorset thatcher and member of the National Society of Master Thatchers. His business celebrated 50 years in 2016 and it seemed to me what he doesn’t know about thatching, you don’t need to know!

It felt like such a privilege to be witnessing first-hand something I was so ignorant about. To learn from experts and locals who had travelled from all around to be apart of this local woodland fair was a joy and an absolute pleasure. It has certainly made me want to look more closely at thatched roof houses.

To be apart of something where skilled craftsmen are demonstrating and sharing their love for their livelihoods with the local people is fantastic. We need these trades to preserve our history so the more we know, the more we can hope to understand and try to make a difference. Weirdly, a part of me wants to make my own spar and I have kept one that Rod twisted for me as a momento! I’ve been inspired!

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wood fair 2018

 

 

Happy Holidays

For a little less stress this Easter try my EGG-stra useful top tips for travelling…

Last year my husband and I (with 5 month old bump) flew to Texas to visit family and it was the last time we flew without having to think about anyone else. O how times have changed…

We are very lucky to have family in France and Spain and at 7 months old Freddie has already been on an aeroplane to France and Spain twice. On this occasion, just last week,  I even did the trip on my own. It was a little more tricky getting bags into the overhead lockers, carrying baby and bags onto the plane and putting on the baby seat-belt on without my man to help. Going to the toilet was also a challenge, as was getting toys/books etc out of my very organised rucksack, but it can be done. A little quirk you need to know about me is even when I travel on my own, I pack 3 times. The first time I pack is like I vomit up all my favourite holiday clothes on the bed. During the second packing session,  I sort through my clothes thinking about the weather forecast,  colours that blend well and shoes that will probably be inappropriate for a trip k, going on. The final packing stint sees me layout all my narrowed down outfits in concession, ensuring I have enough to wear and then add the toiletries. O how times have changed…now all I think about is the baby and I just hope I have enough knickers to see me through!

I hope this blog helps those families off on holiday with babes this Easter, who like me, like to plan for every eventuality, but hate the burden of carrying lots of bags and just want a zen experience when travelling with children.
My top travel tips

📁Be organised – this is essential if you want to remain smiley,  just at your own smugness if nothing else,  for not having to empty all the contents of your bag out for the dummy. My advice is get a rucksack. I have a Land Bag, which I bought on Amazon and for me it was perfect. The best bit is there are compartments in the bag perfect for baby things such as: nappies, bottles, toys and you can see everything. This is essential for that face to stay smiley!

🙌Go hands-free – when travelling on your own this is a must and also helps when you need to hold little hands. The bum bag is your freidns and you can find some cool ones out there so don’t be out off. You can access the main essentials: keys, money,  phone and passports, car park ticket with the pull of a zip and they will always be close by and accessible even if you have a baby on your hip. The bonus is you can use this on holiday too!

🎒Pack a bag- within a bag. I take a little foldable rucksack because trust me, you won’t want to carry a big nappy bag around on holiday with you. It also gives you permission to take only the bare necessities.

🚃📱📖✏️Take toys and books – when travelling with any children one should always provide entertainment, for some it could be the digital nanny (ipad) for others it might be a good old colouring book and crayons. For littlies I suggest small things to chew and a book to read. but what I found out recently is that my little man loves an old magazine page (quality thick paper) and an empty wet wipe packet – he is mesmerised by the noise. But whatever you decide make is accessible and age appropriate. You will thank me. O and take spares for the nights you might be out….new toys/ activities will give you, at the very least, 30 minutes of quite time.

🍼👶Find Substitutes abroad – I found an amazing website that helps you know what to buy for your babies when you arrive at your destination. It gives you the names of brands you might use at home and tells you the equivalent of what to buy on your hols. By buying abroad it will give you heaps more space in your bags and will stop mamas like me worrying about what to get in the super market when faced with a mix of foreign options. I bought nappies and milk. check out babies abroad

Smuggle your scent – babies like to smell you and smell things from home so make sure you pack his/hers favourite blanket, his cuddle toy and a few other familiar things like his dummy, toys books or anything you think might make him/ her feel secure. Sometimes even a piece of clothing that smells like you could work. It also helps to have an opaque blanket that you can use to block out the horrible strip lighting and subdue the other stimuli on the plane.

Ask for help – there are nice people out there and if you don’t ask sometimes people will assume you are OK. Also,  when travelling as a solo parent, when someones offers to help remember to say yes  – I nearly turned down help on this last trip as I had ,managed all by myself the whole trip from Spain to Bournemouth and could have easily got my bags on my own surely….. but when the lovely customs man came to ask if he could help …he was my hero – getting bags and pushchair off the bag carousel whilst holding a 7 month old is not easy. FACT. Be gracious.

You’ve got this mama!

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Monkey Business

Charlie’s Chimps is a highly energetic, fun and engaging class combining drama, dance and music.

Logo - Charlie's Chimps

When you are new to an area, especially as a new mama, you are on the constant look out for things to do with your little ones to keep busy and to meet other people like you, but it is not always easy to find out exactly what’s on. This was one of the reasons I started my blog. Facebook can be really useful but it is not always the medium of choice for baby groups and as with most good set ups, word of mouth is the best form of advertising around. But if you don’t know anyone these recommendations are hard to come by. So, when I spotted a Charlie’s Chimps flyer, a bright sunshine of sunshine yellow displayed on a bulletin board, it was like a beacon!

I found the website and contacted Megan on Facebook. Megan was super quick to respond and gave me clear information for my taster session. So, the following week off Freddie and I went to our first Charlie’s Chimps session. It certainly did not disappoint.

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 Freddie liked his new friend Leo the Lion

Charlie’s Chimps is a highly energetic, fun and engaging class combining drama, dance and music. The star of the show has to be Charlie the Chimp himself. He is a larger than life puppet; cheeky but full of cheer. He loves cuddles, bubbles and a good ol’ dance in the jungle! The whole session is packed with songs, music and movement and little ones will not be bored! It is a wonderful sensory experience and children get to have hands on experience too by being invited to play instruments, games and even chance to use some very cool themed props as well as singing along to a jungle chorus.

 

Freddie went along when he just turned 6 months, and he wasn’t quite sitting up on his own so it was a little hard for him to appreciate some of the activities but he sat on my lap and enjoyed playing with the instruments (just not in the way they were intended!).

Megan offers a little break in half way through  – perfect for your little monkeys to can catch their breath and have a quick drink – as can mums and dads and then it is off again to meet more jungle characters.

IMG_5786 Freddie meeting mini Charlie

The classes last around 35 minutes to ensure maximum engagement and enjoyment and there is not a moment wasted! The class I went to was held at Blandford URC hall on Whitecliff Mill Street, so really central and an excuse for a coffee afterwards. Please check the website for current classes and times and there are also workshops available.

Megan is vivacious and with a performing and teaching background she is the perfect person to take you on this wonderful fusion journey of drama, dance and music with your little people. So, if you like high energy, music, games and having lots of fun with your little one  – get in touch with Megan and get ready for a jungle adventure and let your babes revel in the limelight.

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