Friday, 30 December 2016

Our family in December (with a round up of 2016)

A. Whole. Year.... and with that another amazing little member added to our tribe.

How proud I am to say this (not so) little Tribe is mine, It's been a year of change, a year of imbalance, a year of learning new ways of life, a year of happiness, a year of challenges, and most importantly, a year full of love. The love I have for my family is something no words could ever really fully describe, they are quite simply - my purpose. They lift me up, they inspire me, they encourage me, are there for me and love me, What a lucky Mama I am.

So with the year now coming to a close, I wanted to take a little trip back throughout the year as to what we've been up to.

In January I entered my third trimester in our fourth pregnancy, something that was so exciting but also very tiring by this point! It was also the month that our little chap turned two, celebrating with a trip to the zoo and a Bob the builder cake that I made.

Sharing thoughts of how I aim for positive births in February as I was getting closer and closer to my due date, not without mentioning the feeling of Mama guilt, anyone else feel this?

By March, the nesting surge was kicking in full mode, our little trio were so excited for the arrival of their newest sibling too which also made me feel so emotional about our little boy only having a few weeks left of being the baby of the family.

On the 15th of April we welcomed our fourth little one into our world and she couldn't have been anymore perfect. Sharing feelings of that first night, breastfeeding troubles, and our first photo as a family of 6.

In May I wrote about how much of a whirlwind it is welcoming a new baby, planting our sunflower seeds to be a nice symbol of 'new beginnings', and sharing my continuing support of breastfeeding Mamas, its also the month that is Halle's & my birthday (I did post about her birthday with a movie but Youtube removed the songs so i'm still altering it!).

In June our family dynamics seemed to get a little balance, but within myself I was having wobbles about blogging and hoping to find inspiration.

In July we planted our very own garden fit for butterflies and also grew our own right from tiny caterpillars, I caught the butterfly emerging from its chrysalis on film too!

In August, I revealed our newest little ones name, and we enjoyed simple days out over the Summer holidays.

By September, our family portraits were looking so different compared to the photos with a tiny newborn in, and I continue to be so emotional about how fast time seems to be going and how big my little ones are growing already.

October was the month our littlest lady turned six months old and eldest turned 6!

In November I spoke about Didi & I reaching six months into our breastfeeding journey together and after so many issues it felt so good to get to this point and still continuing to feed her.

And December, you have been good to us. It started off with the overall excitement that Christmas was on its way, but with the girls being in school now it also meant we had that gearing up part where it was all things festive. Nativities, fetes, decorations, festive baking, making etc. We had such a lovely relaxed Christmas and looking forward to see what 2017 brings for our family.

Happy New Year!familydecember22familyportraitdecember16-1familyportraitdecember20162With a little round up of photos of 2016.novembertribeNovember 2016family-portrait-end-of-sept-16October 2016 (can't seem to find Septembers post)AUGUST2August 2016July2016-3July 2016
June2016-8June 2016May2016-6May 2016April20161April 2016March2016March 2016 (Next time to need to sit back with the group, I look huge!! lol)
February2016-5February 2016
January2016-2January 2016

Our Snuzpod Baby.

I feel like I'm on a different journey in some ways with our fourth baby, some ways I feel more relaxed, others it's more fast paced, and then some feelings feel the same. When it comes to sleep and babies, with your first you always have someone offering advice - some welcomed, some not so much (even though I know they meant well). But sometimes it stuck around and made me think if we were making the right choices, but in fact we were - for us and our little family.

We've always done a combination of co-sleeping (to make it easier all round as I am a breastfeeding Mama, lifting in & out etc, and to do anything to enable better sleep) as they grew bigger, they started to spend more time in their own cots with the option of still coming in to have a snuggle. I did get to the point sometimes, especially when I was feeling the sleep deprivation at its highest intensity, I would feel myself getting stressed about mine and everyone else's lack of sleep.

This time around though, as much as we're still not getting a full nights sleep, we found the help of the snuzpod and its great design to have helped with the night wakings as it has the option to drop the side down and basically co-sleep. It made feeding easier for me and my back pain (from literally having no core strength because of my severe tummy muscle split) it was obviously comfortable for our little girl, spacious and sturdy too. Before discovering the Snuzpod, we had used a Moses basket with our previous three. It's something I absolutely adore because of the sentimental value, and it did serve us well, but as our babies were born chunky, them moving about as they grew bigger made me worry as it wouldn't feel as sturdy.

When I was expecting Elodie, I was asked if I wanted to review a Snuzpod, and to be part of the Snuz momma campaign. I instantly got the website up on my computer and started to look at the colours available as we were very kindly given the choice of colour. We've always left the gender of our babies a surprise so we wanted something neutral and opted for the stylish 'dove grey'. At the time we were asked about the Snuzpod, it was only available in Eco-white, natural, dove grey and espresso. As the past few months have gone by, they have now introduced four beautiful new colours which are sherbert, blush and putty - all stunning in their own right._mg_4491_mg_4489juneimg_5929img_5708oct1_mg_7204

Things to think about...
There are a couple of things I will mention, not so much negatively but just little notes to keep that are the weight of lifting the Snuz is obviously a bit heavier with it being wooden as opposed to the usual wicker handles of a moses basket, so transporting it as a portable sleeping method may be a bit bigger, I've found this an issue in some ways as I have severe tummy muscle damage so Mr T would be the one who carried it downstairs if needed.

I would love the design to have had a better way of making the fabric sides maybe machine washable? All of us parents know that if something is machine washable it makes life ten times easier. We've not had any major marks, but with it being white and siblings wanting to regularly peep over the sides to see their new sibling its safe to say there may be some little handprints but very minor. Its not a negative as such as you can remove it, its just not something I think would go down well as a regular thing, maybe if you were thinking of putting away for another, or to sell it may need a little refresh.

Why should I choose a Snuzpod?
We believe that the Snuzpod has so much to offer for ensuring your baby has a lovely place to sleep, even if it is used as the drop down side and attached to the side of the bed for a co-sleeping method. The design is so sturdy, stylish and practical. It's also got the added feature of being a portable sleeping area for your little one, giving you peace of mind if you want them nearby. When you think about the design itself, with it being made of wood you may think it to be bulky, but this is such a discreet style, and doesn't take up anymore space at all. The assembly of the Snuz was pretty simple too and took very little time to piece together - something which is always welcomed with open arms when getting ready to welcome a new baby! You can also choose from three beautifully designed bedding sets, we went for the 'cloud 9', all so lovely with little pops of colour.

Where can I purchase a Snuzpod?
You can find out more information on the Snuz website, but the retailers are Mamas & Papas, John Lewis, Babies R us, Mothercare and also from online stores. They sell at £199.95 so a bit more expensive than most moses baskets, but with all things in mind I think its definitely an investment (especially if you plan on having more than one baby) but also anything that promotes better sleep for everyone is worth a try right? and as much as we loved our moses basket before with the added sentimental value, we have both said that we wished the Snuzpod was around when we had our first baby, it really has been such a great product to use for our little one._mg_7217Collaborativepost
Thank you so much to Snuz for sending us this product for the purpose of this review, all thoughts, images & film are entirely honest & my own unless otherwise stated. We 100% recommend this product and believe its made life that little bit easier fourth time around - even if sleep still is a rollercoaster ;)

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Hello food! A relaxed approach to baby-led weaning.

So, our fourth little one is eight months old already, yes EIGHT! My that's whizzed by so rapidly and so many changes have happened already. Something that our littlest lady has been showing lots of interest in just before she turned six months old was food. She would constantly watch us eating, dribbling, eyes wide open and mesmerised as to what we were doing. Instincts were showing us that she was ready to start some eating along with her fab diet of breast milk. She started of with trying out some organic banana porridge at breakfast time with us, it's always quite hilarious when they try food for the first time as they're so eager, and even if they do enjoy it they pull the funniest faces and shivers! I don't like labels, so with the whole groups of 'baby-led', 'pureed only' and so on, I can say we have a relaxed approach to the whole thing, she showed interest - we responded, simple as that. As she's become more interested, the start of her eating journey as flourish, but some days she still prefers breast milk, especially since she's cut teeth!img_7595img_7600Along with the pureed food and pouches, here's a list of the things she has tried so far:

Breakfast: Organic banana porridge, butter on toast, banana pancakes.

Snacks: Steamed vegetables, cheese either cubed or grated, we've tried yoghurt but she doesn't seem keen.
Snacks that have also helped with teething: peeled & chopped apples. Cucumber and carrot sticks, breadsticks, biscotti.

Meals: Homemade cheese & potato pie, baked sweet potato sticks, pasta in tomato based sauce. and basically any meal we have really in smaller pieces. She loves to chew on steamed veg!
These are only some of the examples as she basically tries anything we have (within reason). She's yet to try out more fruits and vegetables, and spicier foods but its all a gradual process I guess, following her lead for the most part plus us offering things.

Along with the baby-led weaning, we've always added in the factor of puréed food. Either home prepared and cooked, or using some pouches. We've done this with all four of our children and it seems to have suited them well having the choice, different textures and a variety of tastes. We've recently been trying out the My Little Piccolo range, and so far they seem to be a hit. We were sent a beautiful box filled with a fantastic variety:

Squash, red pepper and chickpea (with a hint of rosemary).
Raspberry & apple (with soaked oats).
Sweet potato, beetroot, apple & pear.
Spring greens (with a hint of mint.)
Banana, blueberry & apple (with a hint of vanilla).
Peach & apple (with a hint of basil).
Apple & apricot (with a hint of cinnamon).
Cherry & yoghurt (with wholegrain oats).
Mango, pear & kale (with a dash of yoghurt).
Banana, strawberry & peach (with a hint of mint).

What a delicious selection of flavours right? The list above is the stage 1 range and we were also sent a couple from the 7 months plus range that included: Three grain vegetable risotto (with a hint of basil) & Sweet potato and beef ragu (with a hint of thyme.) You can check out more of the flavours on the My little Piccolo website, where you can also get recipes to re-create the meals for the whole family! The website also has lots of great resources for weaning, ideas and facts about the company and their goals, what I love too is that it's all started out as a family business and sticking to their Mediterranean roots and traditions. This is shown not only in the tasty food itself, but equally portrayed in the vibrant and fun packaging. The packaging is also really compact & practical, just the right touch for busy mamas on the go.img_7626Something I am trying to be better at is meal planning, especially as our family has grown to six of us now - I think its crucial, and some days I find myself baffled as to what I should cook, so a new plan is a must! any tips welcome!img_7628You can read more about the range on their website, and you can also find the pouches stocked on various places online or at your local Waitrose, or Asda.

Some great products we've used over the years have been:
- A good highchair, we've had a couple but the best is probably the one by Mountain buggy as its also portable, foldable and such a nice design. We're not using this one at the moment as it doesn't fit our wooden table but its still fab for taking out with us. We're using this Graco one at the moment which is doing the job.
- A leak-proof drinking cup. Wowzers, we've been through a LOT of these and the best we've come across
- Good spoons for the softer foods, otherwise the baby's hands are the best tools for this!
- I'd recommend an oil cloth may or something similar to save carpet stains. We still sometimes use ours but having wooden flooring is just as easy to wipe it up.
- Storage pots for making batches, or storing leftover foods.
- Foodie bibs, washable or wipe able, we've also used the long sleeve ones before but any kind will do just as well.
- Patience and realistic expectations. Now this one is very important, don't expect your baby to be eating lots right away, it's a gradual process, they go off stuff on regular intervals, they gag, then they decide they love the most random selection of foods and may surprise you, and themselves! As messy as it can be, try to enjoy.
- Don't forget to photograph these little memories, as before you know it they will be having a strong opinion of foods offered, dinner times will sometimes be war zones and also telling you one day they love something, the next they're repulsed by it, some days school dinners are yummier than home foods (thanks) but they don't make apple crumble as good as Mummy does. (Oh yes!).img_7591Collaborativepost

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Our siblings in December 2016

These photos were taken yesterday, the lighting was so poor hence why they are so grainy, the girls are still in uniforms, they're not in 100% focus, The tree hasn't been tweaked with yet since the kids decorated, Phoenix is wearing Yvie-Mae's Christmas hat she made from her school lunch, & Didi is looking rather confused at my silly faces. Sometimes technical perfection doesn't matter when you know you've free-framed a memory that will soon feel like forever ago.

I remember that when taking these photos, the kids were being so hyper and giggly, then the next minute fighting over who gets to hold baby sister. Phoenix was bouncing around doing his 'ninja turtle moves' and rattling off all the names of them including their weapon types - the boy is a ninja genius, and dinosaur obsessive. I've also loved looking back over this year in little snippets below, just to see how much our little sibling dynamic has changed.

I am still in disbelief that I have grown, birthed and with Mr T, are raising four amazing little humans. The past six years seem to have whizzed by and I feel like if I didn't capture all these memories, some would be lost forever, but I will always do my best to preserve just this, our little life together. Tomorrow its the end of term and to say it's welcomed with open arms is an understatement, I mean the kids still wake ridiculously early, even earlier more so when its not school, but i'm so glad that we won't have to be time-scheduled and out the door each morning. we can take a slower pace and enjoy each others company too. Of course it won't all be rosey, squabbles happen, thats life, but it shapes us and we always go back to one another.

They're so excited that Daddy is taking some much needed time off work too since starting his own business back when Didi was born. So here's our little four treasures in the month of December 2016, with a little round up of the year. img_8186img_8176tribephotojan-april-16mayjunejulyaugustmodernlullaby_5x5remindercardfront_ohsnap

Friday, 9 December 2016

A Crafty Christmas evening.

A few weeks ago I attended a lovely little Christmas craft evening with one of my great friends. I always feel really anxious when leaving my littles, lost really. As usually my hands are so full, i'm limited with being a breastfeeding Mama,  and I just don't feel at ease doing things for me without feeling guilt of not being with my little ones - something I'm slowly changing as its silly really as we all know it's only human to need time for ourselves where in return we feel so much better about ourselves and not burnt out. It's taken me six years to realise this one but i'll get there slowly, that putting my interests as a priority matters too and if anything the kids will benefit from too.

So it was a big thing for me to go out to this event, it was only 8pm-10:30pm and all of them were in bed asleep at home with Daddy (but littlest lady did happen to do her usual thing recently of waking up about 3/4 times before 11pm and she did just this) but ended up relaxing on the sofa with Daddy and falling back to sleep. She always senses I am around though, as soon as I put her in her bed she woke instantly for a feed - little minx. I did secretly love that little catch up though with full snuggles and baby hair stroking.

Back to the craft event: I attending this last year on my own and I loved it, It takes place at a local church hall where my friend & I have taken our kids to messy play for the past six years. Its all decorated beautifully with lots of nature hanging around entwined in twinkly lights, the lights dimmed and cosy, canapés floating around, mulled wine or spiced apple juice (I opted for the apple due to feeding & driving) the crafts available were ceramic painting, felting a pair of earrings, making your own sequin bauble, little pine cone Christmas tree ornaments, a fresh wreaths. It was just such a lovely evening, focusing on my creativity, and spending time with my good friend. There were some lovely ladies who were commenting on my designs which was nice and one of the workshop ladies asked if I was an artist, I just giggled and said "I just love to be creative!"

I started off making my very first wreath, I really enjoyed this and whizzed through the process with ease, I think I found it easier because I found it so therapeutic! I was sipping on my spiced apple juice, adding nature to a metal wire, berries, ivy leaves, then finished off with a ribbon and wooden heart. I want to write 'Home sweet home' on it too. but for now it's hanging in our porch. It's lasting pretty well so far!img_2284img_2406
Last year I made similar things including designing a ceramic plate based around our family, our little trio of children and did my 'three Christmas starts'. This year has seen our little Didi enter our tribe and I wanted to update with a new plate design. I just went off the top of my head and came up with this.craftevening1Its far from perfect but I think I like that makes me like it even more. It symbolises our tribe to me, our four amazing children, my wonderful life partner and our Christmas together. I used porcelain pens for all of it and just used brushing strokes to create a simple tree effect.img_2299I also made a cup for me to enjoy a cup of tea in (hopefully not microwaved more than once) on one side I did 'Mama' with four little hearts, one for each of my babies, the other side I wrote 'Beautiful minds inspire others' as I think thats something great to live by and believe in. We're also in the process of finishing decorating our girls room and this is something I always say to them so I thought i'd put it on a little pot for them to display in their room when they're next feeling a little bit crazy 'It's cool to be kind' - so true right? and something valuable for our children to remember when it sometimes seems the opposite for them. And finally I made four little pine cone Christmas trees using little beads, paints, glue guns, wooden stars then carefully glued onto a little ceramic pot. I have these up on our fireplace and I'll share a photo soon - its a far from perfect sight as Halle looked and inspected her new ornament and smashed it within two minutes. Luckily we have a glue gun and now a story to tell when she's older when she wonders why it's broken and as to why she had to touch it, inquisitive minds I guess, ha. img_2296
So it was just what I needed after all, to remember that two small hours can make such a difference to my mind set after a rough few months, and that I shouldn't feel guilt for doing something child-free. We were both saying how it was just so relaxing and how we could've spent so much more time making and talking. plus walking away with some goodies that we made with our own minds and hands was fab too! ...Of course when I got home the first thing I did was go in and check on them all, give them kisses and cuddles but thats being a Mama for you, always flying back to her nest no matter the adventure.
Do you like to go to any craft events? how often do you get time for yourself? I'd love to know!

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Precious little feet.

When you have babies, you will without a doubt come to the stage where they always kick their socks off, pull them off, chew on them, or just get freezing cold feet and not look bothered at all. With my two eldest daughters, when they were sitting/crawling I would just use the lovely baby socks from Baby Gap - they were the only ones that would really stay on really, and a mixture of hand-knitted baby booties from my Nan, They would always manage to kick those off though with their never-ending fidgeting! It was when my little boy was born that I came across one of my online photographer/blogger friends pages and saw that they spoke really highly of this wonderful brand. 

That brand was Inch Blue, It was then that I purchased a little rainbow pair for my little boy and goodness me he wore the life out of them. We even lost one of them in a local park and I put a little shoutout on facebook to see if anyone had seen it as I knew he loved them as much as I did, and luckily one of my friends who I hadn't seen in years posted saying they found his little rainbow mocc! They're still going strong now though with our little elodie wearing them day to day along with two other pairs she has been sent. Inch Blue work very hard in designing comfortable, vibrant and stylish baby shoes from the ages 0-6years. The variety of colours/designs available is amazing, made from soft-leather they are spacious and perfect for precious, tiny and constantly growing (& chubby!) feet.
_mg_6923The company have since  created a 'little brother' brand called Wolfie & Willow designing extremely comfortable soft-structured baby shoes. As stated on the site, these designs are great for 'little eco warriors' which you can buy in sizes 0-6months to 5-6 years. I was very kindly sent some moccs back in 2015 where you can see my little feature on them here, but recently they have ever so generously sent me two pairs of their beautifully handmade moccs for our little Elodie to test out. We received the 'Geranium' in yellow/white from Inch Blue which retail at £20, and the 'Magenta' from Wolfie & Willow which retail between £30 - 34. For some these may sound like a steep price tag but they are definitely in investment which last well for your developing little ones. I would personally choose the Inch Blue price tag to begin with as they spend a lot of time crawling, scraping them across the floor but they really do last well, then I may have chosen the other style from Wolfie and Willow for when they're toddling, as mentioned above they do go up to the age of 5-6 years so they are effectively slippers which you know they would get great use out of - not to mention the comfort and sleek style! I knew from previous experience they would not disappoint at all, the sheer quality is visible as soon as you open the box, the gorgeous selection of designs and colours are amazing- all by using vegetable tanning. With both styles of shoes, it is advised for them to only be used for indoor purposes, and to be cleaned with minimal washing due to them creating their own 'used leather' effect.img_7846Elodie has been loving her baby shoes, they are very handy for the chilly mornings on the school-run when she is usually in the baby carrier, they're super good for her getting a pushing grip on the wooden floor at home in her baby walker, and not to mention being the little additive to any clothing she is wearing. I've had many people commenting on how soft & comfortable they look and I am always so happy to say just how wonderfully designed they are. They're great through all seasons too as she started wearing them in the Summer, and still wearing now approaching winter, it gives her comfort and me reassurance that her feet are nice and cosy when being carried outside, or nice and snug when playing on the floor at home. They will no doubt come in handy when she's much more mobile and toddling about the place!_mg_7283_mg_5921They've since gone on to design their 'Amberly' tote handbags too which retail at £150, you can check out more about on their website. Overall the product quality level is of premium standard, gorgeous style, ethical and a family must-have which are all handmade in the UK. Here's the websites of the two companies and be sure to check out all the stunning designs before making your final choice as they're all just so lovely!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Our Family in November 2016.

Another month has flown by, and as much as I've felt like it's been a good month for us (other than the lack of sleep and occasional outbursts from over tired kids) it's been a nice month, days and I'm secretly glad as it's almost the Festive period! 

The autumn school term seems to have whizzed by, and as much as I look forward to the next holiday period with my little ones, its also something I find myself mourning as it is symbolising just how fast time is going by, for example - Yvie-Mae turned SIX last month. How on earth am I a Mama to a SIX year old already who is in year one, shocking for me and its something I am proud of but struggle to make sense of all the rapid change going on a lot. We've had time where we've gone for lovely walks to the park or local pub for Sunday roast, double the amount of school homework now, the starting of Rainbows for Yve's, the continuing of dance classes for both bigger girls and the enjoyment of messy play Wednesdays for the little two.

Next month is one of my favourites, the weather change and cosiness, chunky blankets, slippers & hearty foods, the festivities and gearing up to Christmas, letting our children know the true meaning of Christmas time - being with loved ones and cherishing it so much, the crafting, Phoenix has an introductory session at his future nursery (round the next building to the girls school) and of course the girls are going to be in their nativities and school plays, how exciting (and emotional for this Mama!)
november-family november
This photo makes me laugh, totally shows how much little lady follows her Mama, Koala bear baby :)novembertribe

Monday, 21 November 2016

Our siblings in November 2016

Some days I still can't believe we are parents to four amazing little people. They drive us mad sometimes but goodness me do we feel so grateful. They all have such individual personalities that bounce off one another, at times they can clash, but undoubtedly they love each other fiercely and protect one another so much. I hope they stay this devoted forever and their bond grows every single day

This month I thought I'd make a little note of our little siblings and their school run dynamics - the good & the...not so good!

Either the school pick up is with an over tired two year old, an almost certain leaky poo situation from a 7 month old, pouring down with rain and a huge load of traffic. We then pick the girls up who will then be over tired, hungry, agitated, bickering, and just exploding all emotions on the way home making me feel like I'm about to blow myself. We then arrive home to the "in still hungry", okay dinner is soon, "I don't want dinner", or the bickering continuing, and me waiting for back up from Tyrone, and us then willing bedtime to come as we are well and truly frazzled, then we realise it's only 5:23pm.

Then we have the other end of the spectrum. The two year old will be in full flow of hilarious conversation full of enthusiasm and new things he's saying, or recognising all that's surrounding him, telling me what way it is to Grampy's (shark way if you were wondering), delightfully tucking into snacks. The weather is autumnal but not hammering it down, we pick up our girls (baby still probably poops but on the occasion she doesn't, what a win!) I then get two minutes to do what I'm currently doing now and drafting a blog post before five minutes time when our girls are ready to greet us. We then all get into the car, tuck into snacks, and sing along to the tumble tots cd together which they love singing "I am the music man" while acting out the instruments. Phoenix's favourite is "jolly snowman" and boy does he let it be known! We then get home, our far from perfect or 100% ready but comfortable home is the place where the older three cram together on one square of the big corner sofa, awaiting cuddles with their baby sister. The safe place we are whole, and we await dinner and Daddy's arrival home from work, we then sit and chill with a DVD, blankets and snuggles and reflect on everyones day. I love to have conversations with them & know what they've been doing, thinking, feeling when not with me.

Either scenario, come rain or shine, this is our reality five days of the week and even though I feel like I'm losing at everything some days, I wouldn't have it any other way. It's exhausting, but even more amazing, & totally worth it.november-16img_7745imgk_7746img_7804
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