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Friday, 21 October 2016

Keeping Active at Work

A recent Telegraph article reported that office workers need to exercise for at least 
60 minutes a day. 

The Lancet found that the sedentary lifestyle associated with the hours working in an office environment could contribute to premature death by up to 60 percent. There are probably other confounding factors, such as eating convenience food at the desk but ultimately office careers involve several hours of sitting down and staring at a computer screen.

As a parent who works from home with currently just one child at home with me whilst the other is at school, I don't often have the opportunity to sit down long enough at a desk to feel like back pain or restless legs are on the cusp. I have worked in an office before and yes, it involved a fair amount of sitting down, often in an uncomfortable chair with the only exercise being few and far between breaks and walking a few paces to the printer.

As it stands, public health advice in the UK recommends just 30 minutes of exercise a day, but the research scientists strongly recommend double this level of activity in order to counter the risk of a sedentary lifestyle. However, for many, even achieving 30 minutes of exercise can be tricky, especially within a busy day involving commuting and family life.

Five minutes of activity every hour could be ideal, whether it be walking around the office, taking the stairs or even perhaps some exercises from your chair. How about yoga? Relax your mind and your body and reap the rewards. How about the following exercise? It is very simple to perform and not only does it open up your shoulders, improves posture and core strength but also encourages deep breathing which can also help reduce stress. Perhaps even listen to some relaxing music whilst exercising. I am definitely going to combine some gentle exercises with the hypnobirthing music I listen to currently.

A simple at-desk exercise yoga routine suitable for an office environment

Furniture at Work have created a fantastic short tutorial on office yoga and the yoga instructor has a lovely soothing voice, so I definitely recommend you watch it and have a go yourself. There are a variety of positions ranging from easy to rather difficult, so some could be better tested out whilst at home as you will notice from the clip!

This is a collaborative post; all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Third Trimester Stress and Worries

Alexander has not long turned 27 months old and Lily is approaching her first ever half-term holiday and just lately I have felt so stressed out and wondering how will I ever cope with an additional baby in the house!

Alexander has been on/off poorly for a couple of weeks now, as have many of my friend's children. If its not one thing it is the other and as soon as he got over the cold which had me feeling like a zombie for a a good few days, he caught a cough with Rob had caught whilst at work (*shakes fists at Freshers!).

As a result he has been off his food which is not like him. Admittedly he has been putting away a hearty breakfast and has even pushed PB on toast aside in favour of Shreddies, or pancakes - but he then won't eat lunch or snacks at playgroups and barely eat his dinner. I know he is out of sorts and when he had a 3 hour nap I knew he was brewing some kind of lurgy. But he has been so incredibly clingy; waking up in an awful grump after a too short nap or skipping a nap altogether despite getting up earlier. At playgroups he is usually so independent but he won't let me sit down and wants to take me by the hand and lead me everywhere and be held.

Lily, despite having a glowing parent's evening, doesn't really listen to me in the afternoons and evenings. She is apparently such a helpful girl at school, I wish she'd continue that behaviour at home! By 6 pm I feel completely done but I know I have to continue to get them ready and into bed despite their protestations. Rob has been working such long days, but his experiments are going really well and he can't exactly press pause.

I feel like my late afternoons and evenings involve a lot more voice-raising and generally feeling rather stressed. I lose my patience and can't wait to just get them to bed and collapse with a hot drink. And yes it makes me feel really guilty and then I start wondering how on earth will I factor in the needs of a newborn if Alexander continues like this? Especially a fed on-demand baby which usually involves dropping everything to get comfy on the sofa again.

I'm over 30 weeks now and I'm sure that it is this stage of pregnancy when the realities of impending motherhood kicks in again.

Fingers crossed the balance will be restored again soon and I will feel like I've got more of a grip on things.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Finishing Touches to the Kitchen

We haven't completely finished our kitchen, but we have the essentials at least.

I have some ideas that I'd love to be able to put in place though. It may not be for now, or maybe not even for this house but we are determined to put our own stamp on our house for however long we may live there.

So far we have painted the walls, changed the cupboard doors and door knobs, painted the kickboards and sides of cabinets to match the new doors and we have also installed new shelves, an induction hob and a new oven.

My big bug bear with the fairly wide galley kitchen is that if you look close enough, nothing has really been installed or fitted evenly. It is a Victorian terrace mind you, so it will have been altered along the way. But once I notice something being wonky or just a bit off-centre it does irritate me. But there is little we can do about certain things, especially when working with a budget.

I'd love to replace the rarely used cooker hood, which apparently serves to annoy me. Not only has it been installed slightly askew but too low so I often bump my head as I peer into saucepans on the rear rings of the hob. This is why I'd like to one day have a new one which will be fitted correctly and at the right height plus be fit for purpose!

The walls are pure brilliant white and I'd ideally like to inject some subtle colour in there, so we have been looking for the perfect roller blind too. I rather like the grey and yellow design as shown.
Perhaps in a future property I would like a statement feature wall within my kitchen, using white brick effect tiles which would add texture to the focal point. The only reason why we aren't able to do this right now is that we have painstakingly installed a white glass splashback and new shelves on the wall with the cooker hood. If the budget could extend to removing the existing clip art tiles and replacing the wall lights and cooker hood we would go for it.

Home renovations take a long time, and little details will come and go, such as magnetic air planters and my desire for a Le Creuset salt pig. But we are certainly getting there and I will share completed photos soon.

ideal finishing touches to kitchen, planter, wall tiles, blind, cooker hood, shelf and salt pig
1. Magnetic planter with air plant Moss & Twig 2. Grey and saffron geometric blind John Lewis / 3. Old White Brick Feature Wall Tile UK Feature Walls / 4. Stenstorp 60cm wall shelf IKEA / 5. Almond Stoneware Salt Pig Le Creuset  / 6. Built-in Stainless Steel cooker hood Whirlpool

Collaborative post:all thoughts, ideas and opinions expressed are my own

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Perfecting the School Run?

Alexander and his favourite bit of post

We have a few 'firsts' coming up...
Lily's first parent's evening and first half-term break and I *think* I may have solved the school run problem which started in the first week of term.

We are lucky that our school run doesn't actually involve driving anywhere, and the latest we should leave the house is 8:40 for school to begin at 8:55. However, whilst we may think we have enough time there are nearly always obstacles.

Usually it involves everyone trying to get ready. Lily dresses herself but sometimes struggles with tightening her shoe straps or her top button, but if Peppa Pig/Ben and Holly is on TV everything stalls, so off it goes. Reading book? Book bag? Water? Check!

Alexander needs more coaxing; new nappy, fresh clothes... tears when Daddy leaves sometimes. But getting him into a coat and the pushchair can be a struggle. Especially when I don't have the time to wrangle him in and risk having my pregnant tummy squashed in the battle. That is why I love it when someone is staying over, like my Dad and then I can casually walk Lily to school myself.
But then we were delivered a Boden Kids catalogue and Alexander adores it. That catalogue is what gets him into the pushchair without back-arching and resisting being strapped in! He has a good look at it whilst we are walking to and from school and makes us giggle when he 'oohs' and 'aahs' at the most loveliest clothes.

I have to choose my battles when we arrive at school though. For the first few days I'd park up the pushchair in the playground and get Alexander out and in we'd all go. Yes, after all the hassle of wrangling him into the pushchair not minutes before. Then he'd settle himself down at a table in Lily's classroom and begin an activity whilst I helped Lily get herself sorted. Then we'd have inevitable tears as I attempt to leave with Alexander in tow. Now I park the pushchair within the staffed courtyard right by the front door and leave Alexander there. I'm literally a matter of minutes as Lily gets stuck in and hasn't had a problem settling in whatsoever.

But I feel torn that I have to leave him there, sometimes crying. I hear tutting from parents who walk their children past him. But what can I do? He'll cry if I take him inside or he'll cry (albeit for a short time) if he remains outside in the pushchair. He knows I will come back. But then the Boden catalogue has turned things on its head and he is pretty content to say goodbye to Lily and resume flicking though the pages.

It probably is a bit of funny sight, seeing a two year old clutching a Boden Kids catalogue. Don't get me wrong, I love Boden, but I can't dress my children in head-to-toe Boden every day. The clothes are simply gorgeous and bright which suits our tastes. It could appear to be a bit middle-class to some bemused passers-by, but providing he is happy, I am happy too!

So, for the moment (however short it may be) I may have cracked the school-run saga. That is until I also have a newborn baby with me. Oh and Alexander refuses to have the raincover on when necessary, so that is a different battle entirely!

Monday, 10 October 2016

28 weeks pregnant | The Bump Diaries

Although I didn't film an update for 28 weeks, I have found the time to write something down at least.

Check longline flannel shirt Matalan / Maternity leather style leggings ASOS*
*Currently out of stock since they are in the sale - I totally missed the boat!

How I am feeling:


I have had a bit of a rough time what with having a cold which started on my birthday (I was ill last year too, boo!) and the kids were poorly too. Just when I thought Alexander was getting better it came back with a vengeance and a nasty cough which saw him coming into bed with us and I spent the following couple of days feeling like I had a hangover!

My own cold is slowly drying up. Going outdoors and coming back inside seems to make me reach for the tissues a bit more. Perhaps it is the detectable change of weather temperature. But seriously, where IS all that snot coming from?!


I've had period of hunger then times when my appetite has dipped. Probably all to do with having a lurgy and looking after other lurgified small children.


In my 20 week update I mentioned my concerns about sleeping on my side (particularly my left) and then sporting vertical creases around my left eye the next morning. I haven't managed to buy a satin or silk pillowcase yet (bit of an investment for a pillowcase, mind you) but I have been trying my darndest to hydrate the delicate skin around my eyes. Rob bought my some coconut oil, for the main reason of using it for perineal massage, but I decanted some into a spare little Lush sample pot (so handy!), especially for use on my face. So overall, I have been slapping coconut oil on my face and my bump, as well as using the Vaseline Spray and Go. I made the mistake of going the whole hog with the oil and used some as a conditioner for the ends of my hair, but must have used too much. Thank goodness for a quick spritz of dry shampoo.

Foetal development:

Last trimester now! Baby weighs around 2 1/4 pounds and measures 14.8 inches from top of the head to the heels. Baby Bee can blink and detect light within the womb and is busy piling on the fat.

Foetal Movement:

Baby Bee continues to beat the mattress if I lay on my side and has detectable periods of restfullness and activity during the day and night.

What I'm wearing:

I'm wearing 70/30 non-maternity and maternity wear. Since the weather has become cooler I am now appreciating the over the bump bands which come with some of my maternity jeans. Some are cut more favourably for a growing bump than others; some feel like they are trying to garrott my mid-section which is less than comfortable. Otherwise I like to wear ribbed knitted dresses and long tunic tops either in my usual size of a size up. Comfort is key!

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

21-27 weeks pregnant | The Bump Diaries

I have definitely slipped in keeping up with these updates on my blog as opposed to my vlogging channel Sophie and Lily. Although even two updates were merged as there simply wasn't much to report on.

So as I approach 29 weeks, here is a round up of pregnancy symptoms since 21 weeks;

21 weeks:

  • Baby has declared that it wants it's gender to remain a surprise! The 20 week anomaly scan showed a lot of umbilical cord coiled up down there plus baby was generally in a difficult position for this important scan
  • I feel on the verge of getting struck down with the dreaded leg cramp, but for the moment I know my limits on how far and how long I can stretch my legs whilst pointing my toes
  • I have started applying magnesium oil spray, but it does tingle/smart on my skin a bit
  • I have been upping the use of moisturiser and purchased another Vaseline Spray and Go, this time it is the 'Essential Healing' variety
  • Overall, felt a bit susceptible to unnecessary stress but I have put things in perspective
22 weeks

  • I have felt pretty emotional, often for no apparent reason
  • Itching to know the gender!
  • I have been struggling with Alexander clambering all over my bump, all elbows and sharp knees. But he kisses my tummy (and boobs!) through my top which is sweet
  • I have started experiencing very mild reflux, so will purchase some Rennies
  • I'm getting the cloth nappy bug again!
23-24 weeks

  • I have been experiencing what I can only assume to be Braxton Hicks and I have never had them this early before. Sometimes I can barely walk down the road without getting a stitch in the side of my abdomen. My usual walking pace is quite fast so perhaps my body is telling me to slow down a little bit, take it easy and drink some more water!
  • I have experienced my first bout of CRIPPLING leg cramp, owww!
  • I've also had a random symptom which I stupidly Googled (not a good idea at all!). My nose drips a very watery fluid when I bend over, literally splashing onto the floor and it tastes salty...
  • I have some Mod-Roc ready to produce a bump cast, but wondering when the best time is.
  • Bump is very active, and contorting and kicking the mattress when I lie on my side in bed
25 weeks

  • No bump cast as yet due to lurgies!
  • I've been feeling pretty warm in this weather
  • Suffering from bleeding gums but no sensitivity.
  • Lots of rapid growth and almost feel like my skin can't keep up with my bump growth!
  • My skin is rubbish at healing, it is taking ages for any rubs/blisters to heal on my ankles and the skin remains sensitive for many weeks afterwards
26 weeks

  • Baby brain is the order of this week! For some reason my brain thinks I'm either at 16 or 17 weeks pregnant!
  • I've had more leg cramp and it really hurts for the next few days despite baths and massages
  • I'm concerned that my recent craving for sweets and ice cream could influence my upcoming Glucose Tolerance Test

27 weeks

  • GTT was all clear and I ate my first mince pie of the season afterwards and it was very yummy!
  • Appetite has plateaued, so I don't feel like I need to overload on sweet things
  • I had a bad midwife appointment because Alexander was under the weather and exceedingly emotional. Despite this I heard the foetal heartbeat and it started out sounding like a galloping horse but transitioned to a chugging train. Midwife was reluctant to spend any more time examining my bump to determine whether the baby was head up or down so Alexander wouldn't get any more distressed
  • Bump is measuring 26.5 weeks which she told me was acceptable for my figure and stature
  • My usual midwife has jacked in community midwifery so hopefully for the next appointments I shall have one nice midwife to get to know
  • I haven't gained much weight according to the recommendations in the blue book based on BMI...
  • I am continuing to maintain squat exercises which should be helpful for my pelvic floor, preparing for labour and having a perkier bum, ideal!
  • I have started applying coconut oil to my bump too in addition to the Vaseline Spray and Go and my bump feels a lot more softer
  • I reckon my stomach muscles have separated...
Thanks for reading if you get this far!

Monday, 26 September 2016

Ariel the Mermaid Party Pack Review

Lily turned 4 years old last month and we had such a busy time generally. December, January and February is birthday season in our families so that means lots of present buying, card writing, wrapping and going to parties. What made it easier for us this year with Lily's birthday was the "Ariel Beautiful Mermaid" party pack for 8 from Party Bags and Supplies.

I chose the Ariel themed pack as Lily does love Disney's Little Mermaid and I thought it would go down a treat, which it absolutely did.

So what was included in the party pack?

Here is a photo showing you everything that we received:

What was included in a Party Bags and Supplies Ariel party pack

Let's start with number 1; the tablecloth
The Ariel-adorned single-use plastic tablecloth brightened up our table and provided the perfect backdrop to the rest of the underwater themed party essentials.

Number 2:
Eight medium-sized, child friendly paper plates which features the same Ariel design as on number 3 - the plastic cups, with slightly different Flounder and Sebastien, along with some sea-flowers. The variation adds a bit more interest; not everything has the same print on it which is good.

Number 4:
Sixteen soft paper napkins, which of course are always vital at a party, at the ready to wipe away buttercream, cake crumps and pizza sauce. These napkins featured Ariel in front of an open clam shell with a blue background and a floral design.

Now let me focus a bit more of number 5 because these are the exciting items of a children's party, especially for the children if not so much for the adults. I'm talking about party bags! I didn't have the opportunity to get stuck about what to fill the party bags with as the party bag came complete with eight of them.

What is in the Ariel party bags
The party bag itself is scallop shaped which fits in very well with the underwater Ariel theme and inside you will find 5 items. In ours, Lily found a bright piece of rubber jewellery, so she has been waving her hands around showing off her new ring now as well as her beaded bracelet. There is also one sweet treat; a Lovehearts lipstick, a springy sea-creature and a Sea Life activity and sticker book which could serve well as a rainy day activity. It does seem that this party pack is targeted to little girls, but if you wanted to put something in extra to suit the boys in your party then do so, and don't forget a slice of birthday cake!

I have now got lots of ideas for Alexander's second birthday in July and I hope the planning will go as smoothly as Lily's did thanks to the Ariel the Mermaid party pack from Party Bags and Supplies.

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