Baby · Happiness · Health · Pregnancy

Jayne, 29, Pregnant, Fed Up…

Grumpy Cat

I’m now getting to that delightful stage of pregnancy where everything is uncomfortable. Any clothes which sit under my bump fall down, while over-the-bump stuff makes me itch and all of my long tops are *just* that little bit too short to cover everything adequately, so I feel like I’m fighting a constant battle with the lower 1/5 of my stomach. Bump bands (you know, the stretchy strips of fabric which go under clothes to cover your tummy) are brilliant, in theory, but I bought mine from eBay and have managed to buy ones which some GENIUS made in a shiny, slippery material, which means they actually make my trousers slide down and tops slide up worse than ever before.

Putting shoes on is puffing me out. Genuinely. All of my boots are ones that need to be pulled on, not just stepped into and doing laces it like some form of medieval torture because I have to get my leg up high enough (no small feat when you’ve got SPD) and lean forward far enough to reach, which pretty much means that the baby has to live inside your rib cage, (which, incidentally, is where the rest of your organs are already trying to take refuge because there’s a PERSON growing where they used to be) so your lungs feel like they’re being forced up and out of your mouth.

It’s okay though, because bedtime gives welcome relief, doesn’t it? Well, no, it bloody doesn’t. If I sleep on my back, I snore so loud that I even wake myself up, let alone the rest of the house, and if I sleep on my sides, I wake up every 20 minutes with horrible hip pain. This means I have to turn over in bed, which elicits a loud CRACK from my pelvis, which went into full relaxation mode about 7 months too early. I used to sleep on my stomach, but not only is that not not safe for the baby, it would be like trying to sleep draped over a watermelon.

“I know..” you think, “I’ll go for a walk and get some nice fresh air to make me feel better”.

HA.

Dream on, porky. Walking, for some reason, brings on Braxton Hicks, so even on a short trundle around the supermarket, by the time I get to the frozen aisles, I’m bending over and clutching my ever-tightening bump like a mad woman, causing mild alarm in anyone who walks past.

And being out in public means answering the same set of questions over and over and over again…

“Yes, stranger who I’ve never met before, I am pregnant. I have about 5 weeks left…yes, I know, I’M HUGE aren’t I? Yes *insert sardonic laugh* I’m absolutely certain it’s not twins! You’re so funny and your jokes are SO darn original!”

I know people are just being kind and it’s nice that they want to engage with me, but I wish they’d engage their brains first. It never occurs to people that I’ve had to answer the same questions to just about every person that I’ve encountered for the last few months. For them, it’s a fleeting 30 seconds, but this has been MONTHS in the making for me. Tedious, people. Tedious.

I shouldn’t moan.

I shouldn’t, but I bloody well want to and it makes me feel better for a few minutes to have a little rant, so it’s what I’m going to do. Well, that and sit here being really uncomfortable.

At least I only have a few weeks left.

Home

My M&S Magical Dining Room

Now that we’ve got another baby due, Husband and I know that we need to move as soon as possible. We’ve been saving like mad over the last few months, and we have a really definite set of specifications about what we want from the new house. One of those things is a dining room; I’ve not had a dining room since Sausage was tiny and having had to eat off of our laps for the last 5 years has not been fun. I dream of having a room where we can sit as a family to eat our meals, a place where we can go when we have people over; heck, I’d even love to be able to host Christmas this year, and fill a room with our loved ones whilst serving turkey and all the trimmings. I love to cook and bake, but without a dining room to appreciate it in, cooking a lavish meal can sometimes seem a bit flat.

My favourite home and style blogger, Jen from Love Chic Living is currently hosting a competition with Marks and Spencer to win £200 of vouchers to help create the ideal dining room, so I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring and try to show you what I’d love to do once we have the space to do it, if money were no object.

My M&S Magical Dining Room

Padded kitchen chair – £383 for two
marksandspencer.com

Linen Sparkle Runner – Marks & Spencer – £35
marksandspencer.com

2 Marble Placemats – Marks & Spencer – £25
marksandspencer.com

Champagne Bowl – £9.50
marksandspencer.com

The table should be the centre of any dining room and I’m a big fan of real oak – real wood has a warmth to it and the gorgeous tone of this table just invites you to sit down and eat. The chairs I’ve chosen have lots of thick padding because I think that dining chairs should be super comfy – sitting down to a good meal should mean staying around the table, even after the food is finished, to enjoy the company you’re in, and sitting in a hard, uncomfortable chair makes that less of an option.

I don’t want to cover that gorgeous oak with a tablecloth, so I’ve chosen a soft grey table runner, which will accentuate the table but add a sophisticated look to the room. I’ve also chosen marble placemats because I love the contrast of the sharp edges and ultra glossy finish with the other, softer touches on the table. I’ve also gone for a monochrome pallate for the whole room, because it looks grown up and simple, but can also be added to with colourful touches for Christmas or other occasions.

I don’t often think about light fittings because most of our rooms have fixed chandeliers in this house, but I adore the slightly deco style of the ceiling light I’ve chosen and think it would add a real glamour to the room, as well as allowing maximum light (I hate eating in a dark room!). I’ve also gone for some retro touches with the champagne bowls and cocktail shaker, because who doesn’t love a pre-dinner tipple?!

The glass cake stand has been added because I’ll need somewhere spectacular to present my baked creations and I chose the cutlery set because I love the unusual shape of the forks and I think that they’d be the perfect compliment to the rest of the table. The sideboard would be the perfect place to keep all of the cutlery and table settings when we aren’t eating and would allow us to keep the room looking really uncluttered and inviting.

Finally, I’d hang the deco-style mirror above the dresser, to make the room look bigger, reflect a bit of light and to give you somewhere to check your teeth and your lipstick after you’ve finished eating!

So, what do you think of my choices?

Giveaway

Win a Jelly Jamm Bundle!

If you haven’t already seen it, Jelly Jamm is an absolutely gorgeous kids show which manages to be really fun and educational at the same time, which is a real bonus. Sausage loves the brightly coloured characters and all of the fab songs in the show, so when we were asked if we wanted to offer our readers the chance to win a bundle of Jelly Jamm goodies, we jumped at the chance! Here’s what the official website has to say:

“Jelly Jamm’s main objective is to entertain 4-6 year-old girls and boys. In order to achieve this we need a high-quality product with an educational point of view. To elaborate on this educational perspective we collaborate with child education experts  and screenwriters specialized in preschool. Adding this to our previous production experience allows us to define our educational philosophy from which many elements of the series are developed such as characters, storylines, the world of Jammbo and its musical nature.”

Here’s what you could win:

Jelly Jamm

  • A Jelly Jamm DVD
  • A Bello soft toy (23cm)
  • A Green Musical Dodo
  • A Jelly Jamm Lunchbox

To be in with a chance of winning, just fill in the following Rafflecopter widget before midnight on 27th January 2014. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Money

10 Household Money-Saving Life Hacks

Sponsored post

money saving

The many expenses of running a household can add up quickly, even without us noticing. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to cut down your expenses by making small changes to your habits. In fact, some of these money-saving life hacks are not only better for your bank balance, but better for the environment, your health and even your peace of mind.

1. Make a Meal Plan
The average household wastes over £500 per year on unused food alone. In many cases, this can be avoided simply by making and sticking to a meal plan. Impulse purchases in the supermarket may seem like a good deal, but if they don’t fit into a meal plan they aren’t going to be used.

2. Replace Your Lights
Nowadays saving on energy usage and electricity prices is a major concern not only because of financial reasons, but also to cut down your home’s carbon footprint. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. Although the bulbs are pricier, they use much less energy and last much longer.

3. Replace Soft Drinks With Water
Instead of drinking soft drinks or bottled water throughout the day, stick to tap water. Fill a jug and keep it chilled in your refrigerator. If you’re unhappy with the taste of your local tap water, try adding a little lemon juice or mint to the jug to give it a little boost.

4. Buy in Bulk and Share
Buying some groceries and other supplies in bulk can help you keep costs down, but there are times when a bulk order can be too much for one household. By pooling your resources with a friend or neighbour, you can make a bulk order for some item you both need, and then split the supplies between you.

5. Turn Off Appliances
Even when they’re not on, your television, stereo, game consoles and other devices are using up a small amount of electricity in “standby” mode. Switching them off manually – or better yet, switching them off at the wall – can save energy. Although the amount of energy saved in one period is small, over a year it can build up, saving a few pounds every month.

6. Take Lunches to Work
If you eat near your place of work, you’re probably spending more than you have to, and probably not getting anything like the value or nutrition you could get if you packed your own lunches. Bringing food to work can save hundreds of pounds a year and help you stick to a healthier diet to boot. It does take a little extra time, but the rewards are well worth it.

7. Entertain at Home

Drinking in pubs is an expensive proposition, but sometimes you want a change of scenery. If you have the space, create an area for entertaining in your own home. Keep it for special occasions and invite friends around instead of going to the pub. You’ll save not only on drinks and snacks but also on transportation.

8. Turn Down the Thermostat
According to the Energy Saving Trust, setting your thermostat just one degree lower can save you up to £60 a year. In most cases, you won’t even notice the difference in temperature. If you do, it will be small enough that you can easily make it up simply by putting on a jumper.

9. Cook in Bulk
Another way of avoiding waste in the kitchen is to prepare multiple meals at the same time. If you cook in bulk, you can make several servings at one time and freeze the excess. Not only does this reduce waste, it means that on an evening when you can’t find the time to cook, you’ll heat up some of your frozen meals rather than ordering a takeaway or eating out.

10. Check Your Insulation
Poor insulation means wasted energy on heating. Even without doing major DIY, you can save some money by making sure that loose doors have draught excluders, your boiler has a new insulation jacket, and your curtains are drawn during the evenings.

Education · Family · Parenting · Pregnancy

How to Teach Your Kids About Sex

sex educationI’m not a parenting expert, not by a long shot; I’m more of a “fly by the seat of your pants” kinda girl (the fact that I’m quoting a fictional hooker has probably undermined any potential expertise I’d have gained, anyway…). Having said that, I like to think that Husband and I are doing a reasonable job of raising Sausage, who’s a kind, bright, inquisitive little girl and one of the things that has set us in good stead is our ‘no-bullshit’ rule.

When I was pregnant with Sausage, Husband and I made a pact that if we were ever in a position to explain something to her properly, we’d never whitewash her the way some parents do and would do our best to always explain things in a kid-friendly, but accurate manner. This is as much for our benefit as it is for hers. From our point of view, it means that we’ll never be in the tricky position of trying to think up some elaborate tale about the ways of the world, plus it’ll instill a sense of trust between us all. I often think that the more parents lie to their kids when they’re little, about things which are easily explainable, the more potential damage they could be doing to their relationship. Imagine growing up being told fairy stories about every fact of life, then having to learn it all the hard way when you’re older, not knowing if what your parents told you about anything  was ever true.

From Sausage’s point of view, I like to think that giving her information does a few things – firstly, it instils a sense of trust from us because we credit her with being logical and reasonable enough to be able to be given facts. Also, I link to think it brings us closer together. If, when she’s older, she knows that she can talk to Mum and Dad about anything, without having to watch us squirm with discomfort at “awkward” questions, she’s more likely to come to us for the really important stuff. And, on a totally different note, I’d much rather she learn about the science of reproduction from us than from her peers, who (I hope…) know a lot less about it than we do!

I’m always surprised that parents are reluctant to let their kids have sex education during primary school, too. The way I see it is that if you’re not able to give your child the information they need about sex, then why not feel relieved that a professional is doing your job for you? I completely refute the premise that teaching kids about sex will make them go out and do it – we taught Sausage the basic principle of nuclear fission once, but she’s not out trying to procure fissile materials. Kids aren’t sheep and I think many parents fail to credit them with enough intelligence and maturity to deal with cold, hard facts. If anything, teaching them that SEX leads to BABIES might make them think twice about unprotected sex.

The thing with kids (and some sciences, for that matter) is that there’s always a level to which you can break things down where they get the information they need, without making it too graphic. We’ve told Sausage that females have an egg and men have a different type of cell, called a sperm and they fit together like pieces of a puzzle. The Dad gives his sperm to the Mum and it fertilizes the egg, then it lives in the Mum’s tummy for nine months so that it can grow into a baby. She was more than satisfied with this description and we didn’t need to go into details about HOW daddy gives mummy the sperm (although, it may occur to her to ask when she gets older). That’s the easiest way to break it down, for us, it doesn’t go into unnecessary detail (which I think would probably just confuse her at her age anyway) and allows us to give an accurate and totally squirm-free explanation.

Sausage found a book in the library called the Flip Flap Body Book, which tackles  How Babies Are Made in a way that we were really comfortable with and I highly recommend it if your little ones are asking questions that you aren’t happy to answer (if you read the Amazon reviews, people are saying that it’s even good for up to 9-year-olds, so don’t feel like you’ve missed the boat if you’ve never tackled the subject with your child).

All in all, I genuinely think that honesty is the best policy when it comes to kids, especially when it’s something like this which can, in reality, be so easily explained in a way that suits you both.

Good luck!