Monday 30 September 2019

An interview with my four year old

Two years ago, I did a post called “An Interview with my Two Year Old” where I asked Isla these exact questions (except the first which I changed as Archer isn’t a baby anymore!). I said I’d redo it every six months but it just didn’t work out that way...

But now Isla is four and much cheekier and chattier than she used to be so I thought I’d see how her answers have changed! Be sure to check out the old post here to compare!

1. What do you like to play with? I like to play with my barbies!
2. What makes you happy? Playing with Archer, when we play the baby game
3. What makes you sad? Um, when things are too loud so I can’t sleep
4. What makes you laugh? When daddy does a fart kiss or when Alexa (yes, the amazon dot) does a fart 
5. How old are you? Four. You knew that!
6. How old is mummy? 23? Give me a clue. Is it 27?
7. How old is Daddy? Daddy is 27 because he is really tall and he’s a grown up!
8. What is your favorite thing to do? Play with my brother and laugh at him. 
9. Who is your best friend? Um, Archer because I love him and he’s my brother (oh my heart!!!)
10. What do you want to be when you grow up? A hairdresser because I love hair. 
11. What are you really good at? I’m good at doing something cool (she just got on all fours and did a weird kick thing.... okay..)
12. What don't you like to do? I don’t like to sleep. 
13. What did you do today? I played with my friends at school, I think one is six. 
14. What is your favourite thing to eat? Tacos and fajitas! 
15. What is your favorite movie? My favourite movie is... oh dare I say it... return to oz!
16. What do you want for Christmas this year? Can I have... definitely... a new yoyo and some Harry Potter Lego and figures. And a boomerang. I forgot the rest. 
17. What is your favorite animal? A penguin. 
18. What is love? When somebody likes another person so much and they ask each other to get married if they like. 
19. What does daddy do for work? He does something for money... does he give people money on the computer?
20. What is your favourite colour? Pink and purple!
21. Tell me something fun about you? I play with people.

How would your little one answer?

Thursday 26 September 2019

Is my son ready for potty training?

Potty training. It sends shudders down some parents spines, it’s messy and it’s often difficult. It isn’t something we can avoid though. We had Isla potty trained by two years and two months old, and she was dry at night by around three and a half years old (probably longer but that’s when we realised she didn’t need the nappy at all!)

So how did we know she was ready? Archer was a baby and pretty much as soon as he was born, she began helping us change his nappy. We’d had a potty around the house for a while but we never asked her to use it, it was just there. A couple of months after he was born, she began fussing during her nappy changes. Crying, running away and acting very shy about it all unless she was hidden and just with me or Jack- strange considering she never used to care about who saw her bottom before. It didn’t take long at all for her to be fully dry- two weeks at most!

Archer is another story. They say boys take longer, but we’ve also put off trying as he isn’t as talkative as Isla was at two. He talks yes, and he uses sentences and tells us what he wants, but he’s not talked about his business much. He did go through a stage where he would tell me “my poo coming” a minute or so before one came and I tried to use that as a signal to get him on the potty but he would scream and hold it in, absolutely terrified of sitting on the potty. 

We left it. I didn’t want to traumatise him and he’d never mentioned wee so I didn’t know if he was even fully aware of all the functions enough to begin potty training. 

They say with boys, there are a few signs to watch out for, hinting at readiness and he wasn’t covering them all at the time, but I think he is now:

1. Pulling at a wet/dirty nappy 
2. Hiding to wee or poo 
3. Showing interest in or talking about other family members toilet habits 
4. Larger intervals having a dry nappy 
5. Communicating a need to wee or poo, or that they have already 

Other than pulling at a nappy I’ve noticed all of these in Archer. He does hide and then reappear when he’s done a poo (though he doesn’t tell us in advance as much anymore). He’s definitely interested as he has no concept of personal space when one of us is using the loo- I have to remind him that everyone does their own wiping! We also had him come to us and ask to do a wee a few times- we’ve sat him on the toilet and he hasn’t like it as it’s “too big” so we didn’t get anywhere. 

I think our next step is going to be finding a new potty. He thinks the toilet is too big and he isn’t keen on the low down standard potty- I think squatting is too unfamiliar so I’d like to find something more similar to sitting on a chair. 

We have pants now and we’ve talked about when we will wear them a little. He doesn’t let on that he understands although he does ask to put them on. 

It’s hard. He understands so much and talks so much but he just doesn’t seem to want to talk about this very much so it’s hard to know if he’s taking any of it in. 

I think potty training till definitely start over the next few weeks though, and if it doesn’t work perhaps in the new year. He’s not even two and a half so I know he still has a long time! 

Thursday 19 September 2019

30 Weeks- Pregnancy Update

Thirty weeks pregnant! The ten week countdown begins- of course that’s with the assumption I give birth on my due date, which is unlikely. Isla was born at 38 weeks and Archer at 37, and my poor sister is currently nearly two weeks overdue. So really, it’s a pointless countdown but one I’ll participate in anyway! Yay!

I skipped my 29 week update because I’ve been feeling absolutely awful. I did have a check up on the day I turned 29 weeks with the midwife, but there wasn’t much to update on until my blood results came back. 

Recently I’ve been feeling very run down- normal in pregnancy to an extent, but I mean to the point where climbing the stairs had me breathless and resting before I even reached the top. At only 29 weeks when it started, how was I supposed to last till 40? I’ve also had horrendous restless legs. All my muscles seize up and I find myself kicking out involuntarily and unable to sit still for more than a few minutes at a time... it’s been driving Jack insane as he’s taking the brunt of most kicks in bed!

The most concerning symptom I had with all of this has been my resting heart rate. I feel breathless for no reason, and my heart starts to pound and my BPM have been up to 120 when I’m doing nothing at all. The answer here was pretty clear- anaemia. I had it with Isla and highly suspected I have it again, and I was right. My levels have dropped from 126/L to 105/L. While not exceptionally low, it’s low for me and I’m now taking iron supplements and I have to keep an eye on the breathless/heart pounding feeling in case it relates to anything worse. 

Other than that, I’m feeling mostly well in myself and trying not to let it get me down. The SPD is still creeping up on me but I’m thankfully educated enough to keep it manageable- you can read an update on that here. 

I had my first bump measurement at 29 weeks! I measured the 91st percentile with Isla and the 50th with Archer (and those numbers translated exactly to them at birth!) so I was weirdly excited to see how this little one is doing. I measured exactly 29cm at 29 weeks meaning he isn’t big or small, but it did line up to the 90th line on the chart- I’ll see over the coming appointments if he stays on that line. 

It’s been getting me down a lot that the little complications are coming up. Compared to my last two pregnancies, this one has mostly been easy so far but as I approach the end it is getting more tricky. I struggle with basic daily tasks without feeling sore or exhausted to the point of tears and I know it’s having a strain on Jack to do so much to help when he also works full time. Thankfully he understands, but it doesn’t make me feel less guilty. 

Hopefully with these pills I pick up in the next few weeks and can cope a little better!


4D Baby Scan with Window to the Womb- Milton Keynes [Review]

If you’d asked me back during my first pregnancy if I’d consider a 4D pregnancy scan, I’d have told you no. Admittedly, I’d always been sceptical about them and found them a bizarre concept- why not just have the NHS scans and be happy with those?

This opinion was completely changed for me when I asked Jack back at 14 weeks if we could book in for an early gender scan. I explained to him that I was impatient to find out and that it was something I’d like to try, and he was on board. We went to the Milton Keynes Branch of Window To The Womb at 16 weeks and found out our third baby is a boy! They did a sneak peek of the 4D setting and even back then, you could really see detail... look how he was all curled up with his hands pressed on his face!

I’ve been debating going for the full 4D for a while- then I was very kindly offered the Very Important Baby package by the team at Window To The Womb in Milton Keynes and of course I was thrilled to accept and see our littlest boy again.

One of the best things about the scans here is the fact you can bring up to five guests. Understandably the NHS scans are in the hospital, so it is just mum and one other person in attendance, but having these scans at Window To The Womb meant I could get my children involved. It’s worth baring in mind that these scans still are primarily diagnostic and used for checking the well-being of both mum and baby before moving into gender and imagery, but as I said, as it isn’t a hospital setting you can bring your family!

Both Isla and Archer absolutely loved seeing “baby brother” for our gender scan so they were thrilled to be invited back to see what he looked like. It’s the perfect early bonding experience for them. 

When you first arrive at the clinic, you’re warmly welcomed by the staff who sign you in and invite you to take a seat. Pregnant women rejoice, the sofas are ridiculously comfortable and the atmosphere is so relaxed and pleasant, it really adds to the excitement and joy you feel waiting to see baby. There’s even a fully stocked waiting room/playroom for those with children which means they’re kept nice and entertained while the staff help you fill in a couple of routine forms.

Window To The Womb offers a variety of different scan packages, but as I said we were booked in to the Very Important Baby scan which would include:

-100% longer 4D scan (than the lower package)
-Six full colour photo prints
-Two larger full colour photo prints
-Full movie of our scan
-Two photo keyrings
-Gender confirmation (99% accurate, and baby is still a boy!)
-All images digitally available on the Bumpies App (you receive a code which you can also share -with friends and family who download the app!)
-Well-being check and report
-Free rescan if baby does not cooperate

They say that the best time to have this scan is between 27-30 weeks pregnant as baby is chubby enough to look like a proper baby in photos, but not so big that they’re all squashed up and unable to wiggle into a better position. 

Thankfully our little one was very cooperative- he began with his hand pressed up against his face (just as he was when we saw him at 16 weeks- oh my heart!) but with a little wiggling and a change of my position we were all able to see him properly. The scan is so realistic it genuinely blew my mind, and I can’t believe how “real” he is in there. 

Jack and the children got to sit on the big comfortable sofa and watch the entire thing on one of the three huge HD televisions around the room. The staff even invited Isla up to speak to baby so she could watch how he reacts to her voice! I can’t properly explain how amazing the entire experience was, to watch him play with his feet and yawn and stretch... it really made it all the more real for us all. 

After the scan you get to go and select your photos and things to take home from your package- the fantastic part being it wasn’t too hard to pick as we got all the images to keep digitally anyway! I didn’t have to worry about losing any if they weren’t chosen. They get sent to the free Bumpies app and with a simple code I had them all within minutes of finishing. As you can see, Isla and Archer loved picking pictures of their baby brother!

There are lots of optional extras as well as the photos you get- bears, booties, gender reveal items... they have a huge selection. 

The Window To The Womb team in Milton Keynes were exceptional. Having such an enthusiastic and welcoming team really makes the experience so much more worth it and I’m so grateful that we got to share this experience with them. 

If you’d like to find a local clinic for your own scan, you can do by visiting their website here. If you're not sure if it's worth it... I wasn't either, but it really is. Being able to see how he's growing was wonderful and I feel all the more excited to meet him now and it's been wonderful sharing his photos with our family and friends and comparing his looks to his brother and sister as newborns!

I was kindly gifted the Very Important Baby package by Window To The Womb in Milton Keynes in exchange for this review. I paid for the gender scan myself. All photos and opinions are my own. 


Tuesday 17 September 2019

First Week Of School- How are we adjusting?

Isla has been in Reception class at school for a week now! She’s done five sessions, though only three have been the full hours- they did a staggered start to get the children adjusted which I think is a fantastic idea.

It’s safe to say, despite me being unsure about it all as you can read here in my previous post about school, she was more than ready. I can’t believe how easily Isla has settled into it all, considering it’s a huge change to our routine after the summer holidays. 

I thought the lunches and long days may exhaust her but so far she’s not bothered. Every morning Isla flies into the classroom and barely looks back, other than pausing to hug her brother goodbye she’s gone instantly. The confidence is amazing. She’s also eaten all her lunch every day of the week, even on the day where she decided she wanted to try curry- she isn’t fussy at home but I doubt I’d have ever convinced her to try it if I’d cooked it!

Archer is adjusting. The first long day he seemed very quiet and withdrawn and clingy. There were a few moments where he tried to talk to her as well, before remembering. It was a little sad. Back when Isla was in preschool he napped for the 2-3 hours that she was gone, and then when he dropped his naps he had her home anyway as it was Summer! It’s all new to him to be alone with me!

We’re doing lots of baking and playing and he’s getting used to it I think. He loves the free access to the “Isla” toy boxes without her getting cross that he isn’t playing her game properly or the usually “she/he isn’t sharing” arguments cropping up. I think he’s also enjoying the extra attention- he’s the second child so he’s never had time just with me. 

I’m putting him into a little toddler gymnastics class starting next week which will give him something exciting to do with mummy- just like Isla getting to go to ballet every week! We also plan on starting toddler group again now it’s September and he will be in charge of what we do for once as Isla won’t be there....

As for me and Jack? It’s definitely different for me. I’m getting up much earlier to get them ready and Jack walks past Isla’s school to go to work every day so he’s got the added company on his trip every morning. I have a lot more to remember compared to preschool and even though we’ve started it still feels like there’s always a million things to sign and bring in- I’m sure it’ll be like this for the next 18 years haha! Thankfully when I’m much more pregnant, Jack is able to drop Isla on his way to work and let me rest.

It’s all new to all of us. Getting up earlier and remembering book bags and cleaning school shoes.... it’s been an exciting step and I’m not really sure why I dreaded it. 

Friday 13 September 2019

Am I getting SPD again?

As you may know, my second pregnancy I suffered severely with symphis pubis dysfunction, otherwise known as SPD or pelvic girdle pain. In short, it’s a condition that up to 1/5 of pregnant women get and suffer with to varying degrees. Your pelvis itself becomes hyper mobile, and can misalign which is extremely painful and reduces your movement.

If you haven’t read about my past experience and why I was induced as a result, be sure to check it out here

It was around this stage of pregnancy I began to feel the pain last time. At 28 weeks I was on crutches and I was in a wheelchair by 32 weeks. Of course, because of this, I’ve been ridiculously worried and over cautious about doing everything I can to not get it again.  

It’s unavoidable really, if it happens it happens and nothing I do can stop it essentially, but I can stave it off and ensure I don’t just “soldier through” so I don’t cause myself more pain and reduction of mobility than necessary. 

Simple things like not hoovering, or pushing the pram often or standing at the sink for too long have helped so much. Jack has been an absolute star as of course, he’s very worried about it all happening again- it was very hard for him to work and come home to a toddler, and immobile wife, and messy house. 

I’ve chatted to the midwife and she’s given me these tips to try reduce my risk of getting too bad again, I thought I’d share them in case anyone who reads this is going through similar:

1. Knees Together 
Whenever I need to move, I try do it with my knees together. If I’m rolling over in bed- knees together. If I’m getting out of the car, I swivel around with my knees together instead of climbing out one leg at a time. You get the idea!

2. Short Walks
One of the biggest mistakes I made last time was trying to just push through the pain. It meant double the pain the next day- I just hated admitting I couldn’t do what I did before. Now I make sure I rest often and keep my distances short wherever possible. It’s a shame but it’ll help in the long run. 

3. Epsom Salts
If I feel the pain creeping in after a busy day, and begin dreading moving or climbing the stairs to bed, a warm bath filled with a cup of Epsom salts genuinely works magic. I don’t know how or why the salts work but they do! Plus free floating in the warm water helps get everything aligned again. The midwife said similar can happen just floating in a swimming pool. 

4. Maternity Support Belt
I have been using one of these for all three pregnancies. I had it with Isla initially as I couldn’t walk home after a long shift without crying in pain (in hindsight I probably had SPD with her too) and I relied on it with Archer by the third trimester! You can get them on Amazon or free from an NHS physio (your midwife or GP can arrange this appointment) and they’re easy to stick on under your clothes. They hold everything “up” a bit whic relieves the weight on your pelvis, and holding the bump in place stops it misaligning. 

I do think I have SPD again. It’s been clear it’s affected me for all three pregnancies at varying degrees.... I just hope with all my heart that it doesn’t get as bad as last time. 

Have you been affected by SPD/PGP in subsequent pregnancies? I’d love to hear your experiences. 

Monday 9 September 2019

I’m not ready for her to start school.

I’ve just sat down, and had a little cry. Maybe it’s just my hormones, I told Jack. He said I’m being silly.

How can I explain how excited I am, but also very very sad? 

Tomorrow is the last day before Isla starts school. Yes, she’s done a whole school year at preschool already, five days a week- but that was only three hours a day. In reception, she will be in someone else’s hands from 8:45am till 3:30pm. 

Most mornings, by 8:30, she’s still parading around in her dressing gown, trying to swindle me out of more coco pops in exchange for cuddles under the blanket while we watch CBeebies with her little brother. Now, she will be running up the hill to school, stifling yawns as she spots her friends and disappears for the day. 

Lunchtime, I’d let her come into the kitchen to pick what she has. Archer wants a banana, she wants an apple. Sometimes if she was lucky I’d make noodles or pasta, and she could help me cook. 

She would go to preschool for a couple of hours. I’d relish in the quiet as it meant just chasing after one child for a while and getting some housework done. If she was tired, or had a sad day, at least it was only a couple of hours and she’d get to come home. 

We’ve had four years of long days together. Some days we made the most of every minute. Some days I swore I couldn’t wait for her to start school as we argued like we were both children- we are both strong willed and stubborn. Some days, I’d tell her I was too tired or too busy to play as I tried to keep up with the housework. 

It breaks my heart with regret to remember how often I said no to things. It’s impossible not to compare my parenting over the last years with those Pinterest perfect mums online who seem to have time for a trip, healthy lunch, educational craft activity and housework every day. I did my best for her, I have to keep telling myself we didn’t waste a moment. 

I feel so excited for her. School will help her grow and teach her things I never could. She will be permanently surrounded by all her little friends. She will flourish. 

I feel sad because the time with her felt so long, but now it’s done I feel like I really didn’t make the most of it. She will be in someone else’s hands most of her days now. 

I’m so so proud of our Isla, she’s grown so much and so fast- but it feels like it all went too fast. Isla is completely ready for school- more than ready. I think it’s just going to take me a little longer to stop seeing her as my baby. 

Sunday 8 September 2019

28 Weeks- Pregnancy Update

I did it, I’ve made it to the third trimester with only some moaning. Okay- that’s a lie, I’ve moaned an awful lot. Of course I’m grateful to be having a healthy baby and after two miscarriages I know how special each successful pregnancy is... but it’s bloody exhausting.

The great thing about hitting the third trimester is, despite there being anywhere between 9-12 weeks till I should give birth, I feel like the end is in sight. It’s the home stretch, and of course I’ll be getting much fatter and much more sore but there isn’t another stage after this where it’ll happen again!

I have been getting sore. I don’t know if it’s just inevitable after having SPD so severe I was induced (read about that here) last time. I’ve been trying to take it easy but the wincing pain is creeping back every time I roll over or walk further than normal- if I do push myself I find I’m useless for a day or so after. Epsom salt baths and general rest are helping, I just hope I can carry on staving it off till I’m full term and avoid induction. 

Other than that, I do feel really well in myself. I’ve started having a lot of dreams about when he’s here and what he may look like- and a whole lot of crazy dreams with enough drama and details as a blockbuster movie! 

My cravings are also moving on from vinegar and sweeties- I’ve been obsessed with green grapes! The only issue is, some strains of green grapes taste sort of leafy and grassy and I want the specific strain with that crunch and tart/sour taste. I’ve bought the “wrong” grapes home from Tesco twice and promptly left them in the fridge to be neglected or eaten by someone else. Nothing has felt more disappointing in my life. 

We’re going for a 4D scan this week and I am so excited to see baby boy again. He’s gaining baby fat and should look nice and squashy and like a real baby! I think it will be a lovely experience as we get to bring Isla and Archer to see him!

He does have a name by the way, we just aren’t sharing it with the whole world till he’s here. I shared Archer’s name with a lot of people before he was born, and even though it was definite, people took it as an invitation to offer alternatives. 

Overall, nothing has really changed this week. Baby is as big as a coconut apparently and I don’t want to think about pushing a coconut out of my foof right now so I’m avoiding the fruit comparisons from now on!


Friday 6 September 2019

The Ultimate Softplay Survival Guide

On a rainy day, with an empty schedule, you may find yourself wondering- should we take the little ones to the soft play? Even the name is suggestive of a warm, padded area in which a parent can set their little mite free to burn off energy in a lovely safe environment perfectly suited to them, while they enjoy a coffee and some peace.

It’s all a bloody lie. 

The truth about softplay is that it is a sticky, noisy battlefield that the inexperienced parent will leave in a hurry with the changing bag and child being dragged unceremoniously to the car, undoubtedly covered in someone else’s snot and tears. 

Want to survive? Keep reading. 

Socks are required for hygiene. Never assume this is an unnecessary rule, I guarantee the day you forget socks is the day someone steps in something disgusting underneath the ballpit balls. 

Of course, if you’re heading into softplay without prior planning, I can guarantee the only pair (or “close enough” pair) you can find will have a hole in, perfectly placed for a toe to pop out. Embrace it. Don’t let the tutty mums judge you and attempt to hide your feet under an infant- act like you MEANT to give that toe some air. Own it, and you’ll feel like you can do anything. 

If you’re interested in sitting around and watching your baby “try” to play by rolling near something vaguely resembling a padded slide, head to the baby section. Usually reserved for under 4’s, you can rest assured that they’re out of harms way for a while and finally have that hot cup of tea you’ve wanted for months. 

Until the “I don’t care” mums who are far too distracted by their phones and having a chat arrive along with a rambunctious and rather large child. Of course, no matter how close to adulthood that child is, they’re going to be clambering all over the baby section. If you glare and mumble loud enough, the child is usually embarrassed enough to leave and go to the (apparently) less appealing section for children their age. 

3. LIE
Of course, the best thing to do is lie. Don’t want to go? The soft play is closed. 

Don’t want to buy a snack or drink and you’ve been caught sneaking in 10p cartons of juice too many times to risk it again? The cafe section is closed. 

Don’t want to pay full child price for your newly turned one year old who hasn’t magically gained the ability to play like a big kid? Lie about their age for as long as possible!

As much as softplay does suck, and as hard as it is to survive at times, my children love it. They’ve just got to the magical stage where they bugger off and play alone for at least 15 minutes at a time and I trust they’re okay on quiet days. 

Even after the worst experience, something about being a parent makes you forget and you’ll be back- and now you’ll be ready.


Wednesday 4 September 2019

The Second Trimester was NOT easier

Today, I come to the end of the second trimester. Tomorrow I am in the third! The final stage, the one where I’ll be allowed to moan again because as everyone knows, the second trimester is a “breeze”. It’s the easy middle part where you are glowing and full of a strange magical energy and you can achieve anything!

That’s what all the books say, and it’s a lie. 

Sure my first trimester wasn’t hard- I wasn’t sick at all this time and I wasn’t actually that tired a lot of the time... so maybe the second didn’t seem magically better because I didn’t have anything bad to improve from? There were some little improvements- I didn’t want to remove my boobs because they hurt so much and the cramps and ligament pains stopped. But mostly, it’s been worse, and here’s why. 

1. Sleep
What sleep? I’ve been absolutely exhausted the entire second trimester and I fully call it on the rumour that you get your energy back. I have not had my energy back and I’ve got so big this trimester I’ve been far too uncomfortable to sleep through the night. Add in how often I get up to pee...

2. Peeing
The urge to go to the toilet every hour or more was supposed to lessen during the second trimester, as baby moves up in your body and takes the pressure off your pelvis and bladder. Well... tell that to my uncontrollable need to go two times every night for the last 10 weeks nearly!

3. Glowing
While a pregnancy is barely there in the first trimester, and by the third you are large and swollen and exhausted, the second trimester is meant to be a time of glowing and clear skin for most. Not me. The only glowing I have is the heat coming off my skin because I’ve been non stop sweating and too hot for the last few months! I feel like a radiator. If this is my peak I dread to think what state I’ll be in over the next two months. 

4. Sex drive 
Hello? Sex drive? You were supposed to reappear and I think my husband has been expecting you any time now? Honestly it is the last thing I want or can comfortably manage by the time I collapse grunting into bed and spend ten minutes huffing and trying to arrange the pillow fort that has become the only thing I cuddle at night. Sorry Jack, this one was a big fat lie and I probably smell anyway even though I showered ten minutes ago - all that sweating. 

Honestly, it hasn’t been all bad but it definitely wasn’t the massive improvement that I was promised. I can’t imagine how I’ll moan for my third trimester. 

Looking at my post history it may seem like I’m complaining about being pregnant a lot, but it’s not all serious. I’m so grateful and I’m trying to take in every moment and every annoyance and just remember it all. But the second trimester DID suck..!


Monday 2 September 2019

Top Tips & Tricks for Meeting Characters at Disneyland Paris

When you’ve spent all your money booking, and spent hours planning for a trip to Disneyland Paris, there’s nothing more disappointing than missing your favourite characters!

When we went, we managed to meet just about everyone that was available as well as some surprise meet and greets, so I’m sharing my top tips for meeting characters at Disneyland Paris. 

1. Check the programme
You will either receive this at your Disney hotel if staying in one, or you can pick it up at the park entrance. It has a list and location for daily regular meet ups- arrive early if you don’t want to queue and plan a route from each meet to the next. We managed to be first in line a lot of time by keeping an eye on the times!

2. Green/Cream Umbrellas
Dotted around the park, you’ll notice large green or cream parasols/umbrellas. They seem insignificant but these are where either surprise or organised meet and greets take place! Take note of them and if you see a character on a “walk” towards or near one, head over just in case! You’ll likely catch an unscheduled surprise photo opportunity! We managed to catch some princesses by heading towards them, as you can see below.

3. Extra Magic Hours
If you’re staying in one of the Disney hotels that offer extra magic, when you enter the park you can queue to meet Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and others on Main Street before their advertised slot, saving hours. They often come out early for the extra magic guests! It’s also worth checking who is at the princess pavilion every morning to either wait and save on queue time, or skip and come back later if you have already met that princess. 

4. Lineberty App
We didn’t realise the first time we wanted to meet Buzz in his advertised slot, but you need to book a place via this free app! There are other characters on it too. The places go fast so we missed out but we stood and waited anyway and because not all the booked people showed up and buzz had some time left, they fit us in at the end anyway. If you’re nearby it’s always worth a shot.

5. Closed the meet line?
Sometimes you’re late to a popular meet, or the line fills up too fast. If it isn’t too crowded, and you hover at the end, the character will still say a quick hello to your little ones waiting as they pass. It isn’t as good or long as a proper meet but if they get a high five and you’re quick with the camera it’s still worth it. Just remember to let the character leave for their break and not hassle them too much! 

6. Pick a clever lunch spot 
We realised from eating our lunch at Colonel Hathi’s Pizza Outpost in adventure land, that the tables on the left of the outside area are next to the bridge the characters walk along when taking a quick break. In just one hour of sitting eating our lunch (and it was very tasty and reasonably priced!) we managed to say hi to and meet every character working that park section! Some multiple times per meal, so they began to remember us and say hi if they saw us out and about.

Aladdin & Jasmine were regular passer-by's at this restaurant spot!

The bridge where characters passed us by as we ate!

7. Get a good parade spot
We were exceptionally lucky that our children didn’t mind waiting up to an hour to guarantee a front row place for the parade every day. We were also very lucky that because we took the time to attend meet ups, the characters that took place in the parade remembered our children and ran to say hi to them when they had a chance. We did lots of very happy, loud shouting to our favourite characters on our children’s behalf which often drew them in when they picked who to come and see in the parade!

8. Don’t want to queue for Mickey?
Mickey is the most popular and most famous character and he does have a building specifically for his meet and greets, but understandably it gets very busy. If you head towards the phantom manor instead, you can often see him with a 10-15 minute line maximum in a slightly different outfit under the gazebo! It isn’t in the programme so it’s definitely worth remembering. 

Do you have any more tips for meeting characters? Let me know and I can add them with credit! I hope you have the best holiday!

Sunday 1 September 2019

Baby Born Surprise [Review]

Surprise packs, eggs and blind bags are all the rage with children at the moment. Isla is especially keen on any type of toy you buy with absolutely no idea what is inside- it’s a bit like a present you have to unwrap and she loves the concept of collecting.

Baby Born Surprise is exactly the type of surprise toy she loves- there are twelve to collect, and ten individual surprises to discover when you open and interact with the doll!

When you first open the plastic casing, the baby surprise is wrapped inside a beautiful pink branded blanket, keeping the contents hidden. Once this is open, you discover your first surprise- which collectible swaddle is your baby wrapped in? Each swaddle is assigned a birth month, so you can find out your baby’s birthday with this and your children’s favourite numbers. They can also find out their baby’s star sign with this information!

Isla now has the butterfly and duck- for some reason she thought the duck was hilarious. I must admit, they look adorable sleeping in these little swaddles. The fabric is exceptionally soft and really well put together as well- the attention to detail for such a small product really makes it feel worth it.

The next surprise is baby’s hair- as I said before, there are 12 dolls to collect and each one has its own hair style. Isla loved this doll as she had the cutest pink hair band and brown hair.

The most exciting part for Isla was the eye surprise. Each baby arrives “sleeping” and with a little water and some gentle wiping, your child wakes the baby up to discover their eye colour.

Combining the eye and hair colour will reveal the first letter of your baby’s name- Isla had “F” for this doll!

Next up, we found out our little baby was a bouncing girl by opening the surprise containing either a pink or blue bottle. We filled it with a little water and Isla gave her her first feed, ready to discover the next surprise in her nappy (the concept of which, Isla found absolutely hilarious- what child doesn’t find pee and poo hilarious at times?).

The inside of the nappy will fill with water and a pattern will be revealed- each pattern lets you know what your baby’s favourite food is. 

We did find it a little bit difficult to get the baby to do the "wee" but I figured that an extra bottle of water was enough to get it working- just the one didn't do the trick fast enough for Isla!

It was actually really exciting to join in and help Isla with this surprise toy- it took a lot longer than the usual ones she comes home with and we did a lot of talking and chatting about what each of the things she discovered meant for her baby. Having so many different characteristics also fascinated her, and she’s been telling Daddy and Archer all about her new babies and what they’re like!

I’d really recommend these little dolls for a stocking filler or a small birthday present- they’re the perfect size and definitely something I believe she’s going to play with consistently even though the surprise aspect is over. Being an egg shape, they could even be used as an alternative to chocolate at Easter! It’s nice to know she hasn’t just unwrapped a surprise containing more plastic that she will look at once just for the sake of opening something- a baby is a wonderful interactive imaginative toy. 

I was gifted two Baby Born Surprise dolls in exchange for this honest review. All words and opinions are my own. All photos are my own. 


I Had Gender Disappointment.

Let me preface this post by saying, I am more grateful than I could ever put into words that our baby is healthy, growing and developing exactly as he should be. In essence, the gender is not what is important and it isn’t a case of me preferring one sex over the other because in the grand scheme of things it’s such a small thing.....

But yes, for the smallest time, I was sad about the result of our gender scan. 

I already have one son and one daughter, so when I fell pregnant for the third time people were intrigued to know my preference. It was the first thing anyone asked me and it began swirling around in my head- what would I prefer? When I was pregnant with my second, people would say “you already have a girl, I hope you have a boy!” so that became the focus and hope- but with one of each already people want to discuss how the family dynamic would change with the “tie breaker”. 

It wouldn’t have occurred to me to have a preference. Both my son and daughter are so different and wonderful and it has nothing to do with their sex, just their personalities. But as I said, with people seemingly only interested in what I would prefer, I did begin imagining either a son or daughter and names and bedroom sharing ideas... I decided I’d quite like another girl. 

I didn’t believe this baby was a girl even once. I’ve been right twice before, and I had a strong lean towards this baby definitely being a boy. If you’ve been following me, you’ll know I was bang on the money and we’re super excited to be having a second boy!

As I discussed in my post “Am I excited for baby number three?” we’ve kept everything from newborn up from Archer, so my bank account is extremely pleased it won’t need to pay for a single wardrobe item besides a few token/seasonal items. Score right?

I was disappointed. I felt horrifically guilty for being disappointed. The sad thing was, I wasn’t even upset about the gender of my child itself, I was upset about all the materialistic elements which made me feel even worse! I wouldn’t get to buy a new wardrobe. I liked a million girls names, and not one boy name. I like silly gender stereotypical items like hair bows and frilly knickers. I liked having a sister more than a brother growing up and thought Isla would too. 

Notice how all my reasoning was not related to the child itself? That’s how I’ve got through this. It was purely my own imagination and fantasy of what life may be like when baby came. Yes I imagined a girl and it was a little painful to suddenly lose this but after a little shake and a few days to “mourn” I managed to pick myself up and I’m thrilled. 

I think mums are often ashamed to admit they have had gender disappointment. We’re made to believe we should always say “baby is healthy, the gender does not matter” and no it doesn’t matter but that doesn’t mean our overly hormonal and emotional selves can’t be sad for a little while if it is different to what we fantasised about. 

Don’t be ashamed if you’ve felt the same, and don’t feel as though it makes you a horrible person. I felt that for a while, I felt guilty. Why should I though? Of course I love my son already and I will love him more when he is here. Now I know his name, and I’m getting things ready for him, I couldn’t imagine him being anything other than who he is and I wouldn’t change him for the world.

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