The truth about being a mum!

Being a mum is a roller coaster of emotions, a huge life-changing event, an ongoing learning curve, and the most amazing, miraculous thing I have ever done.

mother and son

The first three months with Harry felt like a ‘baby bubble’. I was a brand new mum and nothing could touch me. I was euphoric, running on adrenaline a lot of the time and probably still slightly in shock that a little human being had come from inside me! It was such a special time and went by in a flash.

Now that Harry is four months, I feel more adjusted to motherhood, but I also feel that I have to be a ‘fully functioning’ mum rather than one still in the safe haven of the newborn bubble!

I think making that leap from your old life to parenthood is a gradual process. It’s so intense and overwhelming at first, with the sleep deprivation, working out how to change a nappy, and the absolute amazement and relief that your baby is here on this earth and is healthy.

The second stage is when it becomes your new normal. When you realise it’s an ongoing adventure! At that point I think you need to start letting go a bit. Letting go of your old life and the pressure to ‘do it all’ a lot of the time. I now realise that it’s not possible, nor does it really matter! It’s all about adjustment, doing the best you can, appreciating every special moment and not being too hard on yourself!

An innocent, pure little baby has the ability to remind us of what is important in life; they strip away all the stresses and strains, judgements, opinions and pressures. They allow us to love, unconditionally and forever. Everyone says being a mum is hard work, and it truly is. But to be given the chance to be one makes me feel incredibly lucky and so thankful. Harry is changing and developing by the day and it’s amazing to watch and help him grow. Like I said, it’s an ongoing adventure and he is teaching me just as much as I am him!

Love, Laurel

No longer a newborn! Harry’s 3 month update

Harry turned 3 months last week! I can’t believe it! He is officially no longer a newborn, which is sad in a way, but it’s amazing at the same time. We are really starting to see his little personality develop, and it seems like he does something new almost every day. He now weighs over a stone in weight – 14lbs 14oz at his last weigh in a few days ago. He loves to chew on his fists, his bib, and any toy that he can manage to navigate into his mouth!

3 month old baby boy

He laughs and giggles when I do ‘funny’ things and actions – this involves me dancing about, making faces and doing weird voices – but he loves it! He sits quite happily in his Bumbo seat now. A good trick is to put him in front of our full length mirror in our bedroom so he can see himself, Ella and me (usually making the bed or sorting endless washing) in the reflection.

smiling baby

He sleeps well at night – usually about 7 hours straight, which we are trying to gradually increase bit by bit, but he hasn’t quite mastered going to bed any earlier than 10.30pm! He also naps during the day but not a huge amount. He loves toys now and enjoys watching TV and just anything interesting that is going on around him! He is going through a growth spurt at the moment I think, because he has been a little bit clingy over the past week. All in all though he is a perfect little boy and we are so lucky! He makes us smile all day every day and I am so excited to continue to watch him grow and develop. Time is passing way too fast!

Love, Laurel

Blissful Raw Cacao Protein Truffles recipe

I was recently asked by That Protein to try out one of their recipes: Blissful Raw Cacao Protein Truffles. They sounded perfect for me, because at the moment I really need easy snacks that I can just grab and eat on the go! I could easily end up eating pretty unhealthily this way, so I need to be clever about what I am snacking on. I had never tried protein powder before, but my husband makes protein shakes after the gym.

chocolate-protein-bites

I was sent the ‘Blissful Brown Rice Protein Powder with Raw Cacao’ from That Protein and decided to give their protein truffle recipe a go. I have seen lots of protein bite recipes around and had always fancied trying them out.

Ingredients (10 truffles)

  • 2 tbsp agave nectar or brown rice syrup
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 50 ml coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract
  • 200g of gluten-free oats or mixed nuts, such as pecans, hazelnuts and macadamias (I used oats)
  • 2 scoops (I used 6 tablespoons) That Protein’s Blissful Brown Rice and Raw Cacao Protein Powder
  • Desiccated coconut to coat the truffles

Method

  • Put all in a food processor, pulverise the oats (or chop the nuts) until ground and then add in all the remaining ingredients, aside from the coating. Blend up until combined and sticky
  • Roll into balls and coat in the coconut

The recipe is high in protein and the truffles taste really, really chocolately and are very satisfying despite their small size. The organic raw cacao is packed with antioxidants and the truffles’ high fibre content helps keep you fuller for longer. They were really easy and quick to make and were so handy to just store in the fridge. I ended up wrapping each one in foil so I could chuck one in my bag on the way out! I will make them again using nuts this time and I think adding a little bit more coconut oil would make them even more moist.

raw cacao protein truffles

That Protein is a Range of Dairy-Free Organic Plant Proteins infused with novel Super Foods and comes in three variants – Happy Happy Hemp Protein with Baobab (rrp £14.99); Blissful Brown Rice Protein with Raw Cacao (rrp £12.99); and I Heart Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder with Chia Seeds (rrp £12.99). Recommended by VOGUE, the range was developed by nutritionists from Northern Ireland and is packed with vitamins and minerals with proven health benefits to be enjoyed by anyone.

Thanks to That Protein for letting me try this recipe out. Planning to try the Blissful Raw Cacao Protein Shake next!

Love, Laurel

Ten things you can do whilst holding your baby

Sometimes Harry just wants to be held, and sometimes I just want to hold him! I know this newborn stage is just going to fly by so I am making the most of it and getting lots and lots of snuggling done! He is getting so big so quickly!

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I am one for multi tasking though, and I have found myself doing all manner of things whilst holding Harry. Safety comes first obviously but there are lots of things you can do whilst holding a baby at the same time! My top ten are:

  1. Making bottles (using Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep in my case)

  2. Doing anything on your phone – smart phones really are a lifesaver! Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram, plus the Netmums app are my faves. Books are a no go as they require two hands, so I just read everything on my phone! As well as taking a million photos and videos of Harry – you can never have enough!

  3. Eating and drinking certain items – potentially messy but doable!

  4. Doing your make up (badly)

  5. Watching TV / YouTube

  6. Doing the online food shop (Asda click and collect I love you)

  7. Yoga moves and squats (learned at Baby Yoga!)

  8. Kissing and cuddling and smelling that amazing baby smell. And making funny faces and noises to get him to smile!

  9. Writing this blog post!

Ok that’s only 9 things but you get the idea!

Little Harry is two months old now, and growing up so fast! He is giving us beautiful smiles every day and making the cutest little baby sounds. He is already growing out of some of his 0-3 month clothes, and is really starting to love his toys and his playmat. He loves music and does these huge grins when we are making funny faces at him. He is sleeping well at night and guzzling milk like there is no tomorrow! Part of me wants time to stand still whilst another part can’t wait to see him grow and develop. He has his moments like any baby but he is such a good boy and we are so lucky!

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Love, Laurel

Review: Havaianas from Flipflopshop.co.uk

It’s finally good weather here in Northern Ireland! We are off on our first little weekend away with Harry and Ella tomorrow. We are heading for our caravan in Ballycastle and can’t wait. It’s been really hot and sunny for the past few days and I really hope it stays that way for the weekend.

I haven’t had much time to shop for summer items yet so when Flip Flop Shop kindly contacted me and asked if I would like to review a pair of flip flops I jumped at the chance.

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I chose the Havaianas in navy with a hot pink strap. I love flip flops and have lots of pairs but these are my first Havaianas. I chose the navy colour because I thought it would go with jeans as well as more summery dresses and shorts. I love the hot pink strap – my favourite colour! They are really comfy and mould to my feet really well. I have heard from friends that these are by far the most hard wearing flip flops so I will probably have them for ages.

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Flip Flop Shop have a massive selection to choose from including brands like Havaianas, Quiksilver, Birkenstock, Animal, Roxy, Fit Flop and Reef. They offer free shipping and free returns and are priced really reasonably.

Now I am going to get packing for our weekend away – soooooo much more stuff to pack these days with wee Harry in tow!

Love, Laurel

Baby Buys I Love

Now that Harry is almost 8 weeks old, we are settling into more of a routine. The days are so busy and time comes at a premium, but I am loving every minute with my gorgeous little man.

8 week old

When I was pregnant, I had no idea where to start when it came to baby purchases. It seemed like there were just so many options and different ways of doing things and it took us a while to decide on what to get. We made the main purchases before Harry arrived, but some we made after he was born, when we started to realise what we actually needed!

Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine – makes your bottles in 2 minutes flat! Now that we have made the switch to full time formula feeding, we decided this machine was a must have. It adds a ‘hot shot’ of water to your bottle, you then add the powder and shake, and then it adds the remaining amount of cold, sterilised water to give you your bottle at the perfect temperature! So no boiling the kettle or cooling bottles. Highly recommend this product. You can do it one handed as well – very important!

Fisher-Price Rainforest Peekaboo Leaves Musical Mobile – Harry absolutely loves this mobile. Obviously he still sleeps in our room in his moses basket, but he also naps or just rests in his cot in his room once or twice a day. This mobile has leaves which slowly flap up and down and then four little rainforest animals underneath which spin around. There are four music options – Bach, Mozart, Beethoven or rainforest sounds. It’s very colourful and holds Harry’s attention really well. It’s also really relaxing and I’ll put the music on when I am changing him. It’s great for getting him off to sleep in his cot or just for stimulating him for short periods while I am nearby. It helps him get used to his own bedroom too.

Ikea Hensvik Changing Table and Cabinet – this was only £60 and is such a useful piece of furniture. It’s essentially a shelving unit/dresser, with a changing table attachment which can be removed after it is no longer needed. There are four shelves – we use the bottom two for all of Harry’s supplies – nappies, toiletries etc. The top two we use for displaying a few toys, and for a small supply of everything we need to change a nappy. That way everything is to hand. His changing mat obviously sits on the changing table and we can easily reach for a nappy, wipes, nappy bag and other little items like Sudocream or his nose drops. When he gets older the attachment can be removed and we can use the unit for books and toys. A brilliant buy!

MAM Dummies – We always naively said we wouldn’t give him a dummy – that lasted 3 days! At first we bought the Tommee Tippee dummies but Harry wasn’t that keen on them. These MAM dummies however are his preferred choice! They have a silk teat and a better shape for his little mouth. He still isn’t a huge fan of a dummy, but it is useful for when he gets a bit fussy and we don’t want to keep lifting him. It basically pacifies him for short periods and that’s fine with us! No way will he be sucking it for as long as I did as a child – and I’m not telling you how long that was!

Pampers Nappies – pretty obvious but they are the best ones. We tried Asda brand and Boots brand and they leaked far too often! They also weren’t as soft or flexible. There are usually deals on Pampers anyway so we are sticking with them for now.

Muslin cloths – I always wondered what these were really for, they seemed a bit random. Now I must be armed with a muslin and a spare bib at all times! They are so useful as having a baby can be quite a messy job and there have been more spillages and accidents than I expected lol! Muslins can be used for mopping up just about anything, and they will be!

Quinny Buzz Xtra Travel System – this took us forever to choose, but we are really happy with our choice. We got the pushchair itself which comes with the buggy attachment. We then bought the carrycot attachment for use now while he is small. The system holds the Maxi Cosi car seat for shorter walks and journeys. It’s really easy to manoeuvre, quite easy to assemble and store and it’s just a practical, well designed system. Harry is happy and comfortable in it and we have been out somewhere almost every day so we are getting plenty of use out of the Quinny Buzz. We got ours at Kiddicare at a good price.

So those are the main things that I can highly recommend so far! Being a mum is such an amazing experience, but it is a big change, especially at first. So when a product or baby item makes things that little bit easier or more straightforward, it’s worth every penny in my book! Gives you more time to spend just enjoying your baby! Harry is already becoming so much more interactive and alert, and I can tell this time is just going to fly!

Love, Laurel

M&S Glazed Chicken Thighs recipe

I was delighted to be asked to try out one of M&S‘s recipes from their Great British Summer campaign this week. I went to the Forestside Belfast store to get the ingredients and it was so busy – the place was buzzing. It seems lots of mums on maternity leave like myself frequent the store on weekday afternoons as I saw about a million Maxi Cosi car seats and travel systems! There was a lot of food tasting going on which I think was creating a great atmosphere.

marks and spencer chicken

Anyway the recipe I tried out was Glazed Chicken Thighs. I have to be honest and say I am not a huge fan of chicken thighs, however the M&S ones were really big and had loads of meat on them – I would definitely buy them in future. I suppose you might say, ‘these aren’t just any chicken thighs….. these are M&S chicken thighs’!

Ingredients

  • 8 Chicken Thighs
  • 4 tbsp Tomato Sauce
  • 4 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 4 tbsp Honey
  • 4 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Brewers Paste

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
  • Place the chicken thighs into a large oven proof dish.
  • Mix together the remaining ingredients with 50ml of water.
  • Coat the chicken thighs in the glaze and cook for 35 minutes, occasionally lifting them out to brush or spoon the glaze over them.

marks and spencer chicken

marks and spencer chicken

marks and spencer chicken

The recipe was so simple and easy to make, and we had it with some salad, coleslaw and chili bread. It was an easy, summery dinner and we were able to make it whilst wee Harry sat in his bouncer watching us!

The glaze was delicious and gave the chicken a great flavour, and the meat itself was lovely. I know you are probably wondering what Brewer’s Paste is? It’s very similar to Marmite actually. It is less thick in consistency, and can be used for marinades, as well as spread on toast which I will definitely try as I love Marmite.

The food tasting in store also had the desired effect on me as I bought a Hog Roast Pie which I had sampled. So tasty! Will be having that tonight I think! Also got some lovely pink roses for my mum which had 25% extra free – a big bunch for only £6.

marks and spencer hog roast pie

Thanks to M&S for letting me try out the recipe!

Love, Laurel