OUR FAVOURITE BOOKS - WORLD BOOK DAY


With World Book Day tomorrow, I thought I'd put together a little piece on our favourite stories, it's not something I often blog about or even think too much into if I'm honest. Reading is such a natural part of our day to day lives that I almost forget it's a 'thing'. We love reading to Noah, we always read a story before bed and books are always on display for our boys to grab at any point of the day, I think reading is really important. Over time we've begun to learn what style of books Noah enjoys and those that he doesn't, we tend to let him choose books each evening and only step in when we've read the same one for five nights in a row. Please tell me other children do this? I never really talk about the stories we enjoy, I say we because it would be a total lie to say me and John don't have preferences, that we don't groan when certain books are pulled off the shelves to be read, and then feel all smug when we know they've selected a favourite of ours. I think your enjoyment, or lack of completely translates to your little one. Plus, how are you going to get all into character with the voices etc, if you're not really feeling the book yourself?

BLOG TIPS: HOW TO GET BLOG WORK


Everyone's first question when they realise blogging can be a career is 'How do you earn money?'. Realistically nobody is paying me to sit here and write my inner thoughts every day, as lovely as that would be. I don't have a set wage and the money I earn completely varies dependant on an unlimited amount of things, but the point is still there, bloggers do get paid. At least the those who are making a job of it. The question remains the same, how? How do bloggers earn money, how do you find paid work, does paid work find you?

WHY THE HOUSE MOVE?


We've thought about moving house for such a long time, don't get me wrong I really do love our house, all the memories we've made and even our village is dreamy - rural, with a small park. If I could pick it up and move it 15 miles south then it would be the perfect home - but I can't and as 95% of our life is situated in that town 15 miles away, it's making commuting and everything else that comes in with that, time, money etc - a big old problem. Moving home is not something everybody has done, and it's not even something everybody plans to do. I get it, I really do. People buy their forever homes and that's where they live till they're taken out in a box, others prefer to buy and sell and buy and sell till they are blue in the face. Some people don't even buy at all, forever stuck in a renting rut or simply content with what they've got. Everybody is totally different, though I think when you know it's time, you just know. And we just have to go with our gut.

CASDON DYSON BALL VACUUM REVIEW


My boys are both petrified of the vacuum at home, whenever I contemplate having a quick run around with it, I have to declare it loudly so they can both jump onto the sofa for 'protection'. I'm not sure if it's the noise, or the thought they have to tidy their toys away for me to do it that scares them, but alas, they don't like it. Their requests usually vary from asking me not to do it (believe me I would take them up on that if I could) or to sit with them on the sofa whilst I vacuum and while I pride myself on my ability to multitask - I'm not quite that good sons. So, when I was kindly asked if I'd like to review the Casdon Dyson Vacuum of course I jumped at the chance, I'm a real firm believer in learning through play and whilst this isn't your ordinary educational toy, it's definitely helped learn my boys that there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of when it comes to vacuuming.

18 MONTHS ON - THE BABY PRODUCTS YOU REALLY DON'T NEED


I don't think you can open any book or magazine that's aimed at pregnant ladies or new mothers that isn't going to force feed you lists upon lists of what you need for a baby. It's really overwhelming and I remember feeling so out of my depth for not knowing the different between a crib, cot or moses, at the prime old age of 21. It was scary. I packed my hospital bag at 25 weeks because every book told me I had to be prepared, logic now tells me even if I had gone into labour that early, my baby wouldn't have needed clothes, vests and muslins for a long time. But that's just it, the books don't really tell you the things you actually need to know, the useful information and the type of thing your girl friend who has four kids under her belt is going to sit you down and tell you straight. I wish I'd had one of those friends, but as I was the first of mine to give birth, it all weighed on me to establish what was needed and what wasn't. It's safe to say I didn't get it all right, of course I was a first time Mum, but a lesson learned means I can share now the things that I'm certain you will not need for your baby.

TRAVEL TIPS - FLYING WITH CHILDREN


Travelling with a toddler isn't easy, I'll be honest, sometimes you get a fluke, hit the home run and they sleep throughout most of your journey, but most of the time they don't and that means being on top of your game to keep them on their best behaviour. Before I had children I used to think that the holiday began when we reached the airport, my Dad is still a firm believer in this phrase and always heads straight to the bar no matter the time. When you've got smalls tagging along, it's really not the same and in my eyes our holiday doesn't begin until we are at our destination and our bags are unpacked - oh how times change. We've been lucky to fly away every year at least once since our boys arrived, along that way we've learnt some invaluable lessons and sharing is caring after all.

BUSY, BUSY, BUSY


Last week was pretty manic, seems a little strange as we're actually on half term now, so in theory it should be much crazier this week as opposed to last but thankfully John is off a couple of days this week to help man the fort. I can't really put my finger on what exactly it was that sent us on a hectic spiral, but it felt as though I always had something I needed to be doing, that I wasn't managing to do. Or that plans weren't going how they should and it would send our whole day off kilter. Thankfully one advantage of a busy week, is a fast week and the weekend was around before I even had time to think what day it was. Along with the weekend came sunshine, and I must admit it had me longing for the spring and summer months.

STORYTIME: A LORRY CRASHED INTO US


I wanted to feature more personal and 'life stories' on Babies and Beauty, because essentially this little space is a huge part of my life, so it makes complete sense. What better way to start than telling you something pretty scary that happened to us almost three years ago now. I feel like I can talk about it more openly now, but at the time and for a good year or two afterwards it utterly terrified me, the constant re-running it through my head of what happened and what could of happened. It ultimately made me a really nervous driver, understandably I'm sure you'll agree? It's not everyday that you expect a forty four tonne vehicle to smash into the side of you on a motorway, though it's a thought that runs through my mind now every time I overtake one.

CHILDREN ARE EXPENSIVE


I love spending money, I think if you looked through my internet browsing history you can quite clearly see I have a slight obsession with Zara and Maisons du Monde. I just can't help it. I've spoken a lot about how fickle I generally am, that doesn't just apply to interiors and wanting to redecorate my house every third day, it goes for everything, the boys clothing, my fashion, the food I like and don't like. Everything varies from month to month and something I love one moment, can be completely relegated the next - possibly not the best trait to hold when your purse strings certainly don't allow for it. I am without a doubt the spender in our household, while John is much more frugal and thrifty, it makes a good balance, or so I'd like to think.


GETTING OUTDOORS WITH CHILDREN

There are many known benefits of connecting children with nature at a young age. Being outside stimulates the senses in a unique way as children experience the free-flowing, ever-changing natural environment which envelops them. Furthermore, being one with nature contributes to children's intellectual, emotional, social and physical development. This brings us to the conclusion that having your own garden gives you a place to develop your child’s connection with nature as well as a green space to relax in and to enjoy the environment on a daily basis. My boys adore being outside, if you've seen me over on Instagram you'll know 99% our feed is us exploring, it does the boys the absolute world of good and they're always more tired when they've had fresh air in their lungs. Sometimes though, you can go off on an adventure, whether it's timing issues, the weather or any number of reasons, and that's why getting in the garden is great. But the question is, how do you create a child-friendly garden for your young nature lover?

NO MORE BOTTOM BOTHERS


Noah was our easy child, I think everybody has one in their brood and we were lucky he was our first, some may say otherwise and that we were lured into a false sense of security, which is definitely true. Because of this Patrick was a shock, a wild shock, but one we feel really lucky to have even on those very hard days. In every aspect of childhood so far Noah definitely spared us any problems, if life was a journey his has been smooth sailing, he rarely even gets a cold, a complete textbook child in every respect. Patrick is the opposite, he completely suffers with everything from colds to nappy rash and so it's imperative for us to be on our A game with him.

A LIVING ROOM REFRESH + DISCOUNT CODE



If you're new around here you won't have seen that we're actually looking to buy a new house, it's worth mentioning as it's the reason why we wont be making any major changes to our current house. However, if you're not so new here, you'll know I am so fickle with decor and interiors, I'm constantly browsing pinterest boards and therefore my taste is forever changing, thus me wanting my house to follow suit. It's idealistic, I don't have the creativity nor the funds to be constantly evolving my house to fit with trends. So, apart from being slightly stuck in a rut until we move and I get to unleash my desire on a brand new house, I had to think a little differently. Changing my house, without changing my house. A near on impossible task you might think.


A TOXIN FREE HOUSEHOLD


With little ones around the house, most of us do our bit to keep things non-toxic, or so I'd like to think. We update our cleaning cupboards, and remove all the damaging stuff, opting instead, for eco-friendly options which don't leave our little ones at risk of exposure. I've certainly boarded onto the method cleaning hype, I love their stuff and couldn't recommend it more, sure it's a little pricier but I find the bottles are huge and last a lot longer compared to their rivals, in addition to all their other health benefits. In truth though, I try my best here and there but I know there are many more toxins in our homes than just disinfectants, it doesn't start and end with an anti-bacterial spray and I'm certainly not increasing our years, one method product at a time. In fact, I was so shocked to read you may be exposing yourself and your children to chemicals without even realising it. You could, of course, argue that they can't be that harmful if they're in every home. And to some extent, you'd be right in assuming that few of us experience the side effects. I certainly haven't, or so I'd like to think. But that's not to say that we'll all come through such exposure unscathed. Are you willing to take the risk?

SPENDING VALENTINES APART



Valentine’s Day is the annual day of love and it seems to be growing in popularity every single year. I know some people say 'You should show people you love them all year around, not just for one day' but that isn't realistic is it. We all have good and bad days, and I think a day that is completely dedicated to showing someone you care, should be celebrated. It doesn't have to be just for those of us in relationships, or marriages, I even celebrate it more with my boys that me and John do. It's for everyone. However there is more now that ever you can buy for your other half alongside the traditional items, like a bouquet of roses or box of chocolates. Many choose, like us, to share the love with close friends or family too. But for some, this just may not be a possibility, whether it’s because of distance or working away from home. If getting together on the day proves tricky there are still plenty of ways for you to celebrate with your Valentine. 

EASY WAYS TO LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS


Living within your means involved spending no more than you earn. So you shouldn't be putting purchases on credit cards or needing to delay
bill payments if you want to do so. The trouble is, we often start spending extra money as soon as we begin to earn it, this is only setting yourself
up for a fall and let's face it, who wants a fall when money is concerned? Money is a huge safety blanket for a lot of people and it's wise to have
a little behind you should anything arise that you need to pay for; a failed MOT, a flat tyre, a broken television, or an unexpected school trip.
We've all been there, and knowing you've preempted the problem and set aside some cash, is always a good feeling.

'BLOGGING ISN'T A JOB'


If you were anywhere near social media last month, you will have seen, or experienced the ripples of the whole blogger vs hotel fiasco. It blew up, and while I felt absolute outrage on behalf of the influencer Elle Darby, it raised a big point - blogging truly isn't seen as a career option. I've known this deep down for some time, the odd comment here and there, but honestly it's generally from a generation that I don't feel grasp the concept of modern technology. How can I explain to my 70 year old Nan, who grew up in an era where the nearest phone was three streets away in a box - that suddenly I can ring somebody across the world on a computer? Never mind the fact I'm earning an income from what she essentially see's as 'doing nothing'. It's easy to assume that someone who sits on a computer at home, is doing what the other 99% of the population who sit at computers in their homes do - mess around, play games, chat on social and other general nothingness. Usually when someone heads to work, it's a specific zone, whether it's your office, a supermarket floor, in a lorry, there's a designated area in which you need to be, to be seen as working. Blogging doesn't fit that criteria, I can work from my phone on the go, my laptop in a coffee shop, or even head out to an 'event' and it look like a total jolly. It's all still work, just as it would be if I was scanning items on a conveyor belt - yet, still, it's completely unrecognised.

PLANNING THE PERFECT FAMILY CITY DAY TRIP


Many people plan their family getaways around which sun-kissed destination they most want to visit, but there's more to going away as a family than just lapping up the sunshine and splashing in the pool (though let's be honest, isn't that one of the best bits) One of the best places to take your children, is to a city; there, they'll be able to learn something (disguised as fun, winner!), be able to explore some of the best children's attractions in the world, and all-around enjoy the thrum of a bustling metropolis. I'm sharing five tips to ensure your city break is the best it can be.


MY BIGGEST REGRETS


Motherhood came as a bit of a surprise for me, it wasn't something we planned, so I almost just stumbled into it - I didn't have a clue what I was doing if I'm honest. So it's safe to say that I really began my journey by winging it every step of the way, not that much has changed in the four years, though I'm definitely a lot more confident in my abilities as a parent, which I guess is key when you've got little ones looking up to you for reassurance. Even if you're clueless inside, as a Mum you almost have to appear like you've got it together don't you? Over the past years there has been so many things I wish I'd done, or that I wish I didn't do, motherhood is a huge learning curve and naturally in life, there will be regrets. I am no exception to that.