Tuesday, 26 April 2016

A Fabulous Family Day at At-Bristol Science Centre

We had a fabulous - educational - day at At-Bristol on Sunday and I wanted to share it with you. As is the way nowadays, this is easiest done through the medium of Vlogging as then you can virtually experience what we did.
So I don't need to say much, as the whole thing is captured on film. Editing it took far too long as I had 66 clips of footage........ yikes. Choosing the music took a long time too, but we now have it for posterity and I do so love watching our videos back. After all, home movies pre-date You Tube and kids always want to be able to look back at their childhoods.

So without further ado, here is the Vlog :-)

Oh and in other news, my Lil Lady turned 3 months old yesterday (but this pic was taken today) :-)

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Summer is Here... Well Nearly

Clean windowsill and flinging open the windows and blinds
My sparkly windowsill as I quickly embark on some Spring cleaning. Loving opening the windows!
It is my firm belief that Summer Solstice is high Summer or Midsummer rather than the start of Summer and I am really glad to have found some content that agrees with me. A quick Google and I found this:
Although the June solstice marks the first day of astronomical summer, it's more common to use meteorological definitions of seasons, making the solstice midsummer or midwinter. Read more here: http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/june-solstice.html
It makes sense to me for so many reasons. One, on the odd day, or sometimes just odd hours in a day, it's starting to FEEL like Summer. Also, two, in Pagan traditions 1st Feb is classed as the first day of Spring. If you therefore class a season as three months, that means Summer starts at the beginning of May, making the Solstice the height of it. Third, the evenings draw in from the Summer Solstice onwards, meaning it is the longest day. The start of something wouldn't see a decline would it? No! So intuitively you can guess that of course Solstice is the height of Summer just like it is the height in our hours of daylight! Yes, see you are agreeing with me now!

Also, there is a misconception that Summer Solstice is always 21st June when in reality it can vary from 20-22nd June. 2016 it will be on 21st though. I used to always spend Summer Soltice practicing yoga, usually in a really spiritual place like Glastonbury for example, but for the last 5 years I have spent it at BritMums Live (Cybermummy in 2011). This year it is on Saturday 25th June and I am yet to buy a ticket. It's a one day event now and I just popped on their snazzy new website (is it new? Looks it to me) and saw that there is a fringe drinks night the night before. Looks like I have some organising to do and a sponsor to seek.

So, astronomers class Summer Solstice as the start of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Meteorologists though, instead of agreeing with me that it starts at the beginning of May, consider the start of Summer as 1st June. I am glad to hear that many cultures have Midsummer celebrations on Summer Solstice confirming my view that it is indeed high Summer :-)

I'm REALLY looking forward to spending Summer as a family of four and seeing what my baby girl makes of it.
Taken yesterday when she spent an evening in the garden watching her brother play on the swings.
Her routine now is that she ALWAYS falls asleep on the afternoon school run so as I type this she is asleep. Ordinarily she stays asleep in the buggy but as I had her, yesterday and today in the Oyster Lite stroller instead of the pram, both days she has woken up when we get in. So I have breastfed her back to sleep and she is cosy on my knee right now. She's happy there and I am happy to have her there so I am typing this with the background noise of Aaron saying "when is dinner?". I don't feel sorry for him though as he ALWAYS has a sandwich crisps and a drink on the way home from school.

Again, I am sorry I did not blog/vlog enough during my pregnancy or the 12 weeks past since birth, but I am back on the horse now and have even put a video compilation together of her first 4 weeks. It was meant to cover her first 12 weeks to make me current and up to date, but it was long enough as it was and already took me 12 hours to edit. See what you think:

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Queen's 90th Birthday and Thomas The Tank Engine Visits London

The Queen actually turns 90 tomorrow 21st April 2016, with her official birthday being celebrated with the nation on 10th June 2016. However, there are celebrations throughout the land during April, May and June, including street parties/tea parties and much more. 

The major celebration is this one:

May 12 – 15: Every evening from May 12 until May 15, a 900 horse extravaganza is on the cards with 1,500 riders, actors, dancers, musicians and other performers taking part in a 90-minute show at the 655-acre private Home Park in Windsor.

Video projection, LED effects, and theatrical lighting are said to feature in the show, which will depict a journey through her 90 years including the Queen’s birth, World War II, her marriage, the coronation and her reign.

All 25,000 tickets are already sold out (what!) but there’s a chance you can get one of 5,000 free tickets HERE. If you do miss out, ITV is broadcasting the final night on May 15, when the Queen will attend, live with Ant & Dec anyway (phew).
It's hard to believe that she doesn't turn 90 until tomorrow with how much it is being covered on the TV today. Feels like all of the advertisements feature the 90th in some way and right now as I type this, Holly and Phillip are covering the birthday on This Morning.

They've just shown the official photo that was taken of 4 generations, showing all of those immediately in line for the throne. 

Everyone is talking about it today due to Prince Harry standing on blocks, which the photographer had to do, as each image is being used for a postage stamp so he needed clear space around each face and couldn't therefore have little Prince George sitting on anyone's knee.

Inside cover of A Visit to London for Thomas The Tank Engine
As regular readers will know, Aaron has been a huge Thomas the Tank Engine fan for years and years, so we were delighted to hear that THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE™ MAKES TRACKS IN LONDON
Egmont, the children's publisher has released a modern twist on a classic tale that sees Thomas visit London to celebrate the Queen’s Birthday.
The book: A Visit to London for Thomas the Tank Engine

In this new book, the little blue engine makes his way to London to celebrate an exciting milestone in British history: the Queen’s 90th Birthday.   On his way to the capital, Thomas visits a number of iconic London landmarks, from St Paul’s Cathedral to the Houses of Parliament and Tower Bridge, before arriving at Buckingham Palace to wish the Queen a ‘happy birthday’.
We received the book last week and although Aaron is now too young old to have a Thomas book read to him, I was thrilled to see that the wording is hard enough to stretch him, but easy enough that he could read it unaided. He only needed help with a few words. He is five years of age, two months away from six, is in year 1 at school and is reading level 12. It's such an interesting AND educational book for him to read - an added bonus that Thomas has been such a favourite all his life! He's read the book a few times already, with Daddy being thrilled with his reading ability. There is so much history in the book with it covering a large number of London landmarks including the Tower of London and even the Cutty Sark.
A list of the characters and their names in A Visit to London for Thomas The Tank Engine
The book also sees Thomas and the Fat Controller visit modern day landmarks such as the Shard and the London Eye, adding a modern twist to this iconic British classic.  As a much-loved British institution with enduring appeal, Thomas & Friends™ has been loved by generations for over 70 years. Without losing Thomas’s heritage and charm, A Visit to London for Thomas the Tank Engine is current and appealing to today’s *pre-schoolers.

^ *Although that is the official word, Aaron is in year 1 at school (second year, with Reception being the first year of school in the UK) and he really loves the book having read it several times already. He knows Big Ben and really connects with the illustrations and finds the text a fab read! 
Boarding Barge in A Visit to London for Thomas The Tank Engine

Sue Allan, Publishing Director for Brands and Licensing at Egmont Publishing, commented: “We decided that Thomas’s next journey should be to the big city as it felt fitting that he should do his part to celebrate the Queen’s 90th Birthday. While getting Thomas to London was simple, navigating him around the capital’s most iconic attractions was a challenge, particularly as many of them are not on the railway lines. We ended up treating him to a trip on a barge down the river Thames! We really hope the book gets children excited about London and inspired to visit the capital this summer.
Travelling the Thames in A Visit to London for Thomas The Tank Engine
The original Thomas the Tank Engine books were written by the Reverend W. Awdry, with the first being published in 1945. To date, over 200 million Thomas & Friends books have been sold around the world.

A Visit to London for Thomas the Tank Engine is now available in stores priced at £6.99.

You can WIN a copy in my GIVEAWAY here:
- all entry options are mandatory. You MUST tweet the competition using the widget below. You MUST follow @NewMumOnline on Twitter and you must comment on this blog post - see widget below. Finally, you must be resident in the UK.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thomas meets the Queen in A Visit to London for Thomas The Tank Engine
New research
from children’s book publisher 
Egmont revealed
  • a third of children would like to pay a visit to the Queen at Buckingham Palace
  • little ones top favourite attractions: The Science Museum, The London Eye and Buckingham Palace.
Key findings:

  • Buckingham Palace visit is more popular with children than Big Ben and the Natural History Museum.
  • A third (32%) of children would like to visit Buckingham Palace on a London visit.
  • Nearly all (90%) children surveyed who haven't been to the Capital want to visit London.
  • Yet, 37% have not had the opportunity to visit the Capital yet!
  • Almost 40% of children are inspired to follow in the footsteps of their favourite story book characters.
  • When asked where they think the Queen lives, 90% knew she lives at Buckingham Palace.

Science Museum
London Eye
Buckingham Palace
Big Ben
Natural History Museum
SEA LIFE London Aquarium
Tower of London
Tower Bridge
The River Thames
Houses of Parliament

One of the city’s biggest draws for little ones appears to be its range of family friendly attractions, with the Science Museum being ranked number one (37 per cent) as children’s favourite place to visit in London.

The Natural History Museum (30 per cent) and SEA LIFE London Aquarium (21 per cent) were also big hits, being ranked fifth and sixth in the top ten. And, London’s iconic architecture, both modern and historical, certainly do not fall short, with the London Eye being children’s second fnavourite place (37 per cent) to visit and Big Ben (31 per cent) and the Tower of London (24 per cent) being highly placed at fourth and seventh. 

Topping the poll of parents’ favourite landmarks to visit with their families is Buckingham Palace, accounting for 33 percent. And, museum attractions also scored highly on parents’ ‘must-visit’ list with the Natural History Museum coming in a close second (30 per cent) while the Science Museum and British Museum took fifth (28 per cent) and eighth place (19 per cent) respectively.

When asked what they think of London, one in ten children (11 per cent) said that they find the city noisy and scary but the majority of those polled (40 per cent) think London is big and exciting while almost one in five (18 per cent) think the city is really fun. 

Despite many children enjoying the great culture and attractions of the Capital, over a third (37 per cent) have still never visited London. For those that haven’t visited the city, 38 per cent say that this is due to being too far away, 26 per cent said it would be too expensive and 20 per cent say that they think they are too young to visit.

Egmont UK commissioned One Poll to survey 1,000 British children aged 6-10 years old in April 2016.

A Visit to London for Thomas the Tank Engine is available in stores now for £6.99.
WIN a copy of A Visit To London for Thomas The Tank Engine

At the moment I can't get enough of the facts and figures surrounding the Queen's 90 years. I've turned into a history buff and this fabulous Infographic by NRS Healthcare showing 90 facts, laid out in a timeline is just perfect for satisfying my curiosity. Even The Metro thought it was worth sharing! I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. NRS Healthcare specialise in mobility aids for the eldery but want to crush limiting negative stereotypes and the Queen's excellent health at 90 years of age provides the perfect role model for their AGE UK campaigns, such as "As Young As You Feel".

This post is a collaboration with Egmont Publishing and NRS Healthcare, who are not connected with each other in any way. I made the umbrella to include them in this blog post, given all of the 90th birthday coverage I am seeing on TV today.

I've added this post to Super Lucky Di's blog competition linkup for comps ending in May 2016
SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

ThePrizeFinder - See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/thomas-tank-engine-visits-london-book#sthash.TqSkBa4h.dpuf

Monday, 18 April 2016

12 Weeks Old Today

My lil lady is 12 weeks old today and ever so bonny. As sad as I am that we have all too soon met this milestone, I am thrilled that the 4th Trimester is NOT over until she turns 3 months which thankfully is 7 days away.

The other day I got a letter in the post from my medical centre, where my GP is based, inviting me to a "weaning" workshop in May. My heart skipped a beat as I am not yet ready for solids and high chairs. I had hoped this newborn stage would last forever.

If you've just had a baby, hold them close, as it all whizzes by in SUCH a blur. Take lots of photos and make sure you get some video too!

I am using the milestone cards, so this is her today, posing for her 12 week Instagram pic :-)
Just like her brother she poses for the camera. Another blogger's baby hey?!??! Right now, as I type this, she is chewing her hand, which has now developed into a shout. It's not a cry, but rather a shout which means she wants me, so I will come back to this in a second.

She's on the breast now which totally soothes her when she's teething or is it pre-teething, I don't know.

We bought her a Nuby teething toy yesterday but she just licks it. Doesn't seem to realise she can chew it. But we were very impressed that she can hold and wave it around. But she doesn't grab it like a finger. You have to put it in her hand.

The weather was amazing this Sunday so we got lots of outdoor time. Favourite pic below. Before taking her out of the car I took a pic through the window and love the mix of her and reflections; me and the trees. A passing moment captured for posterity.

Although this is a close second and was taken in the same location. All of my best pics of my boys are taken from behind when I am literally stealing a (non posed) moment. But, Aaron just so happened to turn round and catch me. Rather than taking from the photo, it added to it. I love the tree branches above that are near them, couple with the naked one to the right, that is further away. It is rare that my camera captures dept like that, showing the difference between the foreground and that far away view that has caught their attention.

Before the two pics above we'd been in a playground. You can see Aaron in full flight here

The WHOLE time we were there my lil lady slept, meaning Aaron had a whale of a time with both of his parents fully focused on him. He's had no reason yet, in 12 weeks to be jealous of his Sister. Even when she was a mere FOUR DAYS old I still took him to football. Just that she was in a sling. Can't recommend baby wearing enough. And then, when I think she was only four weeks, we went all the way to Birmingham to Thomas Land. So life is pretty unaffected for him apart from that he adores her of course.
And I do too. My beauty - here she is at 11 weeks:

Our favourite current outfit though is hands down, this one from Next:
Also from the weekend, but from Saturday, below as you can see, she can sit up now without toppling over :-) Long enough to take a few photos without worrying about her:
That pic was taken Saturday evening, after we had spent the whole day at a soft play area. It started with a birthday party from 11:30 to 1:30 but we were allowed to stay all day free of charge so we did. Out of 15 children, only Aaron and the birthday boy stayed on but they had a whale of a time. Each time they came to our table they necked a WHOLE glass of drink. At one point they visited us for 3 drinks in the space of 20 minutes. No, it didn't mean he was tired in the evening. Neither did it mean he went to bed any earlier. Aaron's always had energy in bucket loads. His sister has lots when she is awake but she sleeps so so so much more than he ever did. It's only from weeks 9-12 that we are starting to see much much more of her. Her personality is shining through and we get lots of giggles and smiles. Also Monday, the day she turned 12 weeks, she cried when I left the room. I wondered when THAT would start to happen. A few weeks ago she started the crying to be picked up, whereas previously there had to be something wrong for her to cry. 

As I type this she is sitting in her bouncer chair talking to herself in squeaks and screams. Sounds SO cute.

Last week we decided to try our Oyster Lite stroller even though we adore our Mothercare Orb pram. I discovered that it means we can use her Ted Baker snow suit (my cousin bought it when she was born and it is exclusive to Debenhams) for longer as it protects her from the Spring breeze when she doesn't have the protection of the pram's carrycot walls around her 
I adore that the pink of the stroller is identical to the pink on the lining of the suit. Debenhams pictures of it online do not do it justice at all. They need my lil model :-)

This is the week I hope to catch up with my bloggy reviews, so watch this space :-)

Great thing with the stroller is it is easier to get it in the garden which Aaron made full use of. Also, given that she is sitting up she can see everything. Aaron therfore gave her a full tour of the garden, telling her what each and every thing was. Fully believing she could understand everything. My heart just melted fully just watching them. Oh my goodness and he was so slow, careful and tender in all his explanations, fully appreciating that she was seeing these things for the very first time. I guess that's why I found it so moving when I then watched ROOM on Saturday night (I have a test copy of the DVD to review before its release).
Above you can see a close up of what he was showing her, amongst many other things.
She needs me now so I will say goodbye.

Liska xxx

Sunday, 10 April 2016

My New Mum Summary of the Last Ten Weeks with Baby

I haven't blogged nearly enough since my new baby arrived. Lots of things now, I can't blog about, as they're forgotten. I don't think I can blog authentically about the sleepless nights of the first 7 days as the rawness and teariness that would make the post meaningful, poignant and heartfelt has long since gone - Mother Nature is great like that. That's why, blogging as you go along is the ideal way, but I just didn't have the time or the inclination in those early weeks which is a shame as I know I would like ro read back over them. I would like my little girl to have records to look back over, for when she has her own babies and wants to compare their birth to hers. So I have the info to hand when she asks questions. Our memories aren't as good as we think they are. Blog posts OFTEN remind me of things I have forgotten. But I pledge now, to record more. To blog more.

Starting with this post 
of my 
favourite photos 
from the last few weeks.

Week one. At two days old. I pick this one. It was the Bounty photographer who surrounded her in her blanket like this. None of the arranging woke her. For the first few weeks my baby slept and slept and slept. So very unlike her brother.
They've been inseparable since day one, brother and sister. The bond has only strengthened since and Aaron shows no signs of getting bored. The day she was born was a Monday. The birth was at 15:39 and we then spent ages in the recovery room. By the time we got to the ward it was touch and go with regards to visitors and I'd already missed dinner. But I pre-empted it in the recovery room and got Aaron & Grandma to arrive at the ward shortly after we were settled down there. I didn't want Aaron to not only go to bed without me, but also without SEEING me! It was the first time I hadn't personally collected him from school (thank you Grandma Mwaaah) and I was desperate to see him and for him to see the baby. Moments like the below made their mad dash to the hospital for the last 30 minutes of visiting time so so worth it. Daddy took them home though *cries* so I was alone. As much as I would have loved Daddy to stay (you couldn't make it up actually, when he could with our first he wasn't allowed to and he we were in a hospital, with our second baby, where he was allowed to stay, but I wanted Aaron to have one of us home and they needed a lift back home anyway). As hard as it was to say goodbye, especially when I couldn't move from the chest down and couldn't even yet raise my knees, it was for the best as we did skin to skin all night which I feel really established breastfeeding. Actually I feel it takes 6 weeks to establish it fully but that got us off to a confident start (but more on that in another *soon to come* post as it got worse before it got better).
Her face was very large and swollen in those early days, as you can see above, but it is because for the final few weeks in utero she was upside down and engaged. If you did a headstand for over 3 weeks I am sure blood would rush to your head too LOL.

Given her perfect engaged position it's almost a shame she came out the sunroof hey! But at 10 lbs 10 oz I think it was the best laid plan and thankfully WAS a planned c-section unlike last time where I had a natural active labour for 18 hours and THEN a c-section. I would say this was more straight forward, but just like Aaron was 8 days late, the c-section was postponed from 21st January to 25th January. So even plans, like nature, can be delayed. 25th was definitely meant to be as all the anxiety I had about 21st disappeared once they postponed the appointment, literally like a cloud lifting. 

I was released from hospital Wednesday 27th after having the lil lady on Monday. Wednesday we arrived home very late as getting out of hospital took ages. Thursday and Friday hubby did the school run and I rested in my PJs with my gorgeous girl.

Saturday and Sunday though, I had this "loneliness" thing. Something I also encountered after having Aaron. So when hubby tried to go to the barbers on Saturday the whole family had to go too no matter how long it took to get baby ready. So off we went. We were out for about 4 hours and baby slept in the sling the WHOLE time. Unbelievable. But if I remember rightly it was her first time in it. 

Sunday hubby wanted to go to the shops to get my birthday present and same deal I was overcome with panic at the thought of being home alone. So off we all went. 
Week two. This week began badly. On my birthday the husband returned to work after paternity leave. I was bereft on the Sunday night and Monday morning and it was like deja vu a hark back to being a new mum with Aaron. I did my first school run alone, on foot and finally, I discovered I had a nasty urine infection picked up from hospital. So Monday morning this week sees me visiting the midwives in floods of tears. But it was onwards and upwards from there and took 3 courses of antibiotics to get better.
Ten Days Old
And photos permitting, I will continue to add one of the two of them:
But it wasn't all bad as he was off a few days later, the same week, so we did celebrate my birthday in style after all with a fabulous family meal at the Beefeater. Baby was only 8/9 days old but she was fine and slept in the pram mostly. I wasn't confident breastfeeding outside then so she guzzled from a bottle a few times during the meal.
Week three. This week there are a few contenders for pics but I will pick these two.

As you can see the swollen face/head has long since gone and my lil lady's personality now shines through her face. Showing herself to be the girl she will become.

Week four. I just had to pick this picture as it is the first time I could really see the diva in her. It's one of my favourite pictures of all of the hundreds I have taken. It was taken on a day where I treated myself to an all day breakfast in a cafe :-)

Week five. It felt like she smiled from the very beginning oh her life thus far but it was the weekend  of week 5: 26th/27th/28th February that her smiles became BEAMS and could be done on demand in response to someone smiling at her. (My best friend, her husband and her son - Aaron's best mate - were here for the weekend that weekend and my BFF was blessed with lots of smiles from my baby girl). Actually, a couple of days before, at the Thursday breastfeeding group, I saw similar but did not capture it on camera.
Whenever we are in the kitchen Aaron follows, always taking a keen interest in whatever is going on. He will run and get anything and everything he is asked to get and ten weeks in the novelty shows NO signs of wearing off. I am thrilled with his helpful spirit and love for his sister. So far so good.
Whilst  the friends were here for the weekend, we went together to a VIP event for bloggers at Thomas Land meaning the lil lady experienced her first long car journey and she was as good as gold.
Week six. Heart melts. She only has eyes for him, as below. The above picture doesn't capture the whole scenario but I clearly do get it on camera below. She will literally look behind her if she hears his voice, turning her head left and right as he moves. She only started doing that with my voice during the Easter hols. She's done that in response to Aaron more or less since day one. I'd say the feeling is mutual judging by Aaron's interest in his Sister. Sibling love (not yet rivalry) is so so lovely. I didn't know I would be blessed with these moments so early on. I hope he still loves her when she is old enough to play with. It's difficult as I fear his playing days may be over by then, but I think he'll always make time for her. For many other reasons, the age gap HAS worked well for us.
Week seven. A lovel morning picture still in her Kissing Rabbits 2.5 tog Anorak Gro Bag from the night before.
Week eight and I finally resist the urge to dress her in a sleepsuit:
But not everyday though. Here she is at Aaron's Easter school performance (concert) snug in a Next sleepsuit and being very well behaved throughout. Fab as it meant she did not disturb the students/performers or parents/audience in the school hall and it meant that I could record/video the whole thing.
I've tried to keep up with the Milestone Cards but have missed a couple but did manage - thankfully - to do weeks 1, 4 and 8:
Week nine. Love these ones.
Of course, she had to be specially decked out for Easter so it was all about the Easter bunny in these two outfits:
Week Ten. As in, last week. She met her Godmother. We went to see Robinson Crusoe on a special private preview and as a result Charlotte from Berice Baby got this great picture of us:

Week ten, we also went to the Ideal Home Show. Baby, me and her Godmother, my niece. Thanks to seeing a tweet about it, I got complimentary tickets courtesy of British Gas. Thank you British Gas, and yes I did get a picture on your stand :-) This was the closest I got to Wilbur as it was on the way out and he'd already gone home. My niece saw your stand on the way in, but somehow I didn't. I'm a bit scattered when I arrive somewhere when travelling with a baby. As I told Charlotte at the movie screening, it takes me a while to "land" when I arrive. At Thomas Land I made the mistake of trying to say hello to people whilst still full of adrenaline - they must have thought I was wired LOL.

Lil lady slept in the sling, on the way there (as it was easier to navigate stairs on London transport without her in the pram) and continued to sleep for the first few hours that we were there. She then woke, fed and couldn't have been more happy in her buggy. I even listened to lots of Vitamix presentations without her fussing as she was just looking up at lights and listening to all the voices, utterly fascinated.  As in the photo above, below, I am using my wonderful Wuti Wrap from We Made Me. If you would like to know more, I videoed it being demonstrated at The Baby Show back in October, when I fell in love with it and then a few weeks later, after chats on Twitter they sent me one to review. I adore the breathable lightweight fabric it is made from.
So that's it really, a brief summary of the last ten weeks, which now gives me permission to write current posts from now on, in a timely manner, that can be cathartic as they'll be what is on my mind at the time rather than me scratching my head to remember the past, as recent as it may be.