Being a parent requires a lot of energy, creativity and entertainment skills. As Annabelle grows her hunger for learning increases. It started with counting, moved to colours, letters, writing and now spelling. With two children it can also be difficult to constantly provide stimulation and new learning activities so we find it useful to have versatile toys.
Annabelle is 3.5 years old. She is finding out what she enjoys and that sometimes things take practice. Since starting preschool we have found ways to be more structured when encouraging her to learn. Her teachers have given her direction, she is set homework and we use any opportunity we can to learn. We are always counting. We are always finding letters and listing words that start with that letter. We practice sounds and phonics and we try to keep it fun.
When we were offered GEOMAG Magicube to review we were pleased to see what Annabelle would make of it. Plus the fact that it didn’t have smaller pieces means we could get it out when Matilda is around. The Magicubes are multipurpose. You can build with them, create shapes, match colours, spell words, match letters and create your own games.
It’s a strange way to start a Pride post when Pride starting as protest. However here we are some 50 years later there are reasons to be happy. Here we are legally married with a beautiful daughter that we are both parents to. With a second on the way conceived, like Annabelle, through the wonder of science.
Every June brings new Pride events and new ways to bring awareness and visibility to the LGBTQ+ community. June also ends up being one of our busiest months. We choose to spend the month sharing LGBTQ+ owned businesses, charities and accounts. We know just how important visibility is.
This year we have also been given opportunities to talk about our family and share our journey so far.
On our first ever trip to Birmingham we went to Cadbury World. Since our first trip we have taken Laura’s 90+ Nan, our bestie from Australia and plenty of other friends and family. It’s a great day out.
So we were excited when Cadbury World announced they were launching a special Parent + Toddler ticket for £16 on Monday to Fridays between 17th of May and 16th of July. The ticket allows an adult and child under 5 access to the whole experience and it is well worth it. If you go on a Thursday you even get to enjoy story time with Freddo. For full details see here: https://www.cadburyworld.co.uk/plan-your-visit/offers/toddlerticket
Mother’s Day in the UK always coincides with Spring and in now it seems like a reward for making it through winter. Sure we may have only had two Mother’s Days as Mothers but when celebrating my Mum (as Laura’s we celebrated on USA Mother’s Day) we usually go out for dinner so benefit too.
This year we have been giving some thought to gifts we would like to receive as well as gifts we want to give. As Annabelle is still young we are heavily influenced the gifts right now 🙂
So if you, like us, are looking for inspiration for something a bit different here are a few suggestions from us:
The sentimental Mum:
This is both me and my Mum. We love everything to do with making and remembering great times. We love photos and gives that have that extra bit of thought. It’s not about the spend so much as the thought and time taken organising the gift(s).
ASDA Photo has a great range of photo gifts to celebrate Mother’s and Mother figures in all generations. The range includes Personalised cushions, cards, mugs, canvas’s and desk decor (in case you miss your little ones faces when they head back to school and you are working from home. Our favourite gift is range of photo books though. We love photo books and have a selection to celebrate memorable moments. We have also given my Mum one for Christmas each year since Annabelle arrived.
We have always struggled to find an easy to use site and when ASDA Photo offered us the opportunity to try there’s we were delighted. Thankfully the ASDA photo website allows you to connect to GooglePhotos where we store all our photos. You can also connect to Instagram, Facebook, Dropbox and Flikr so plenty of options. They start from £6 so are super affordable.
It took me less than an hour to create a book with all our Christmas 2020 pics which is far and away the quickest we have ever put a book together so highly recommend checking out the site for Mothers Day and any other occasion!
Mapiful: Do you have a special place or significant location with your Mum? Then Mapiful would make a great gift. Essentially this is customisable wall art. You can pick any location, choose your map style and colour and add a personal phrase to add your own touch.
The Mum who needs a pamper
This is Laura right now. Annabelle and I are always asking her to take it easy and put her feet up and the best way to do that is to find things to do at home.
Mother’s Day Hampers: If you can’t choose one gift then you always have the option of putting together a hamper. Wilko’s have a great range of Mothers Day gifts that we were lucky enough to try out. Together with Annabelle we choose a Queen Bee pillow, cuddly toy, and comfy pink throw so we could get snuggly when watching movies. We also added in a few sweet treats (Love Hearts and Roses) as well as some stunning faux flowers to brighten up our living room. The range is super affordable and can be found here: https://www.wilko.com/en-uk/mothers-day
Razor: Okay this may sound like a strange one but we have recently tried razors from Estrid and they are so good. Here’s the thing, they are vegan razors! Designed to be kind and gentle to your body – seriously no nicks with these razors – and the planet. This is a lovely gift for a Mum who deserves a way to take care of themselves and has a social conscience and it’s only £7.95 for the starter kit.
It’s vegan as it uses natural ingredients like aloe vera instead of animal substances in the soothing strips. Buying one even helps make a difference. For every purchase they donate a portion to Kvinna till Kvinna, Medica Mondiale or the Fawcett Society. These organisations all work to support women and gender equality around the world, click the links to find out more. You can read more about the razors and the Estrid mission here.
The Cool Mum
Tiny Tot Tribe: Our personal go to for comfy jumpers. At some points this year we have managed a whole week of outfits with jumpers from Tiny Tot Tribe. They have tons of designs and lots of clothing options. Whether you want something cute or you want to match with your kids you should check out this small business. Oh and use Annabelle10 for a discount!
We hope whatever your Mothers Day plans are that you have a wonderful time and let us know if you take up any of our suggestions!
Disclaimer: we were kindly gifted the items from ASDA photos, Mapiful and Estrid Razors for review. Having used the products ourselves the comments above are all our own and we received no payment in exchange for the reviews.
As parents of a young child lockdown is interesting. It can be a challenge. It can be super fun. Overall it requires a lot of energy, creativity and entertainment skills. It can also be difficult to constantly provide stimulation and learning activities.
Annabelle is 2.5 years old. She is clever, bright and yet has a short attention span. It can be a challenging combination because it means she gets bored easily but if we don’t entertain her, or provide entertainment options she gets naughty. So everyday we have to have a variety if activities.
From painting and drawing to building, climbing and going to the park we try to mix physical activities with quiet more focused ones. We have to adapt based on her moods, her level of tiredness or the weather. We have also tried to be careful with not buying an excessive amount of new toys. Instead we try to rotate what toys we bring out. Sometimes it works really well. Other times it doesn’t and our lounge ends up with every toy strewn across it.
When we do add toys they have to be multiple purpose and when we were offered GEOMAG Confetti to review it fit the bill. A similar toy had been recommended to us as it is great for making shapes and constructing things. It takes building towers to the next level and can be incorporated into different games.
What a year it’s been. We are so glad to be getting into the Christmas spirit nice and early. There is something about twinkling Christmas lights and colourful decorations that bring a smile. It is also wonderful to have a toddler who is big into everything Christmas. Since December the 1st Annabelle has insisted on wearing Christmas themed clothes and her new BFF is the Nutcracker!
One big adjustment this year has been the move to online shopping. Okay it’s not new but when we are looking for gifts we like to wander the shops to find something different. It’s not the same online, you have to have more of an idea of what you are looking for.
So if you, like us, are looking for inspiration for something a bit different here are a few suggestions from us:
Mapiful: Do you have a special place or significant location? Then Mapiful would make a great gift. Essentially this is customisable wall art. You can pick any location, choose your map style and colour and add a personal phrase to add your own touch. We debated between Garden Valley, Idaho where we got married – but it was a just a blank map (it’s was in the middle of nowhere). Sydney where we lived for a year, but in all honesty we didn’t want to look at it everyday wishing to return. Birmingham, our home, was a close second choice but as it is ever changing we wanted to wait for the significant changes to finish. And so our top choice was London. It’s where we met. Where we fell in love and where we lived for 5 years. Plus it’s iconic.
Razor: Okay this may sound like a strange one but we have recently tried razors from Estrid and they are so good. Here’s the thing, they are vegan razors! Designed to be kind and gentle to your body – seriously no nicks with these razors – and the planet. This is a gift for someone you care about and who has a social conscience and it’s only £7.95 for the starter kit.
It’s vegan as it uses natural ingredients like aloe vera instead of animal substances in the soothing strips. Buying one even helps make a difference. For every purchase they donate a portion to Kvinna till Kvinna, Medica Mondiale or the Fawcett Society. These organisations all work to support women and gender equality around the world, click the links to find out more.
Available in a range of colours you can pick Blush, Lemonade, Peach, Space or Cloud. I went with Space as I like purple and Laura went for Blush as she likes pink, they look super cute hanging in the bathroom together!
You can read more about the razors and the Estrid mission here.
Tiny Tot Tribe: Our personal go to for comfy jumpers. At some points this year I have managed a whole week of outfits with jumpers from Tiny Tot Tribe. They have tons of designs and lots of clothing options. Whether you want something cute or you want to match with your kids you should check out this small business. Oh and use Annabelle10 for a discount!
Puzzles: Annabelle has loved puzzles for months. Not only do they hold her attention but she seems to enjoy the satisfaction of completing them quickly. We rarely check the age suggestions on the boxes and instead go for designs we know she will like.
Our latest addition has been a stunning Finding Nemo 24 piece puzzle. The reason it makes the suggestion list isn’t just the design though, it’s because it’s two-sided and the back allows you to colour it in. Not only do you get the puzzle to complete but it becomes an art project too. Annabelle loved it. Available from ToysandBearsonline this would make a great gift for a toddler or younger child and it’s currently on at a discounted price of £6.39.
In fact check out the online store for a huge variety of toys and games. There are lots of great puzzles and educational toys available for all ages.
Books: As well as puzzles, Annabelle’s big love is books. We read 3 or 4 stories every night and we are often asked to read stories during the day. During quiet time we often hear Annabelle reading the books to herself or to her dolls and it never fails to make us smile.
We have found that raiding our childhood books hasn’t been a good idea. Heteronormative families are the only ones represented. The grammar can be terrible. The stories just plain weird. And there are no POC represented. It has led us to seek out stories that show a different view of the world for Annabelle. Our two favourite books right now are:
Whose In My Family. This book covers every type of family situation there is and tells a story that Annabelle loves. She finds herself represented in the pages and it gives us an opportunity to discuss why being different is a good thing.
For a similar reason the other book we are enjoying is Big Splash Circus. The story is about finding your own special talent and not comparing yourself to others. It is also about having a go and trying new things. As the book is filled with vibrant colours and different characters it is easy to communicate the messages in a way that Annabelle enjoys.
Elf Cards: If you want a game that children and adults can enjoy then this is it. A modern take on snap this card set allows you to make up your own games. We play snap with the pictures but you can also do it with colours or with designs. Annabelle will happily play snap with us and it’s a game where my competitiveness is aloud 🙂
Bandana’s are one of our latest favourites for Bisbee. There isn’t a season that doesn’t need a bandana. Now Bisbee is getting more walks (thanks lockdown) it makes sense that she always looks good. Her Christmas one is from Jeliandmac the bandana is only £5.50 and is double sided. We also love SewBlueShop they are super cute designs that work on all collars and each bandana is £4.40.
Light-up collar sadly a lot of Bisbee’s walks are after it gets dark so we have invested in a great light up collar. Click the link to check our one out. It is great as you can cut it to size so it works for any dog. It also has a number of settings from flashing to bright. Best of all it is rechargeable so you don’t have to worry about batteries!
Cute dog collars: We love getting Bisbee collars to match the season. It seems only fair. We recently found Squigglestitch.co.uk on Instagram and they have a really cute selection. Our favs being the Aquafruit (perfect for a colour pop) and a fun house for all the colour (great for spotting a Bisbee that blends into winter environments).
We hope whatever your Christmas plans are looking like that you have a wonderful time and let us know if you take up any of our suggestions!
Disclaimer: we were kindly gifted the items from SquggleStitchCo, Mapiful, Estrid Razors, ToysandBearsOnline and The Big Splash Circus Book for review. Having used the products ourselves the comments above are all our own and we received no payment in exchange for the reviews.
It feels weird writing this post. It seems like we have been talking about Baby Smith Number Two for so long. In fact at times the preparation to get to this day had seemed overwhelming. For those of you following along you may have read the posts, if not here’s a quick breakdown of the journey so far:
Laura needed to get to a BMI of 35 to be able to try at the clinic we used to have Annabelle
We initially planned to try in May 2020 but Covid!
This time around it was meant to be Laura’s egg we were using – until we found out she was almost infertile
We decided to try Laura carrying my embryo in a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)
Laura lost 70 lbs to reach her BMI in time for us to have an appointment as soon as clinics reopened
Laura’s first womb check showed the lining is at 8.7cm but we can’t do the transfer till it was 9cm – second appointment needed
Laura’s womb responds to medicine and gets to 9cm
We found out that the clinic would start to let partners into the operation theatre mid-August
Our transfer day is the 25th of August – I can be there!
The 2WW (Two Week Wait) from implantation until being able to test for pregnancy can seem like the world’s longest time. Waiting, hoping, wondering, wishing, there is so much emotion that goes into it, and it’s so hard knowing there isn’t much that you really can do to determine the result.
Of course, after throwing so much time, money and heartache into IUI and/or IVF, you’ll likely try any old wives tales, any advice going, that may help. So here’s what we did before our positive pregnancy test – disclaimer of course, none of this is at all proven to make a difference.
However, it can’t hurt, right? So here they are!
1. Pineapple core
Purchase a whole pineapple, and divide into 5 sections. Eat one section per day, starting on the day of implantation (or day of insemination if you aren’t doing IVF). The core of the pineapple is most important to eat, this is said to promote implantation.
2. Brazil nuts
Eat 6 Brazil nuts per day for 6 days, starting on the day of implantation. Brazil nuts are an incredible source of selenium, which is a mineral that helps to thicken the uterine wall, and a healthy lining aids implantation. If you don’t like nuts, as my wife doesn’t, I recommend grounding them up and adding to smoothies – she barely noticed them! Which brings me to my next point-
Green smoothies! We packed those babies with the pineapple and brazil nuts as above, as well as a half orange for Vitamin C, banana for potassium, spinach for iron, oats and chia seeds – we got as many nutrients into Sarah as possible per day, and actually continued making and drinking smoothies for her whole pregnancy to try to grow a strong and healthy baby!
Shortly after implantation, within 2-3 days, I couldn’t stop Sarah from sleeping if I had tried. She would nap anywhere, anytime. We quickly adapted so S could nap whenever she felt the need – after all, your body needs lost of rest and relaxation to grow a baby in general! So we would recommend doing as much sleeping as possible.
Some of the naps feature in the funny video we put together you can see in this post.
One thing that had come up a lot in our research was that it was a good idea to keep the womb ‘warm’, and to keep blood flowing to and through it as much as possible. So we channeled that advice into our final two points, 5 and 6:
5. Fertility yoga
It’s a thing! We found some fertility yoga videos on YouTube and did them daily throughout the TWW. The poses are catered to not put stress on the body, but to instead ‘warm’ the womb, stretch and relax you. Well worth it, and a fun 20 minutes to set aside all day!
6. Womb dancing
And finally, we would dance around the kitchen together to George Michael’s ‘Faith’ (his documentary had just come out, and it seemed relevant!). It was lots of fun and made for wonderful memories later on, the dancing (Sarah made sure to do some hip rolls!) helped warm the womb, and best of all, it made us laugh, which is so important during this often stressful time.
The TWW is a time of anticipation at what’s to be and excitement, but also of anxiety and stress, and it can seem to be the slowest two weeks of your life. As well as the above to help implantation, we found making the most of that time to be the best way to get through it. Plan date nights or days, go on family walks, pamper yourself, read a new book – distract yourself from the impending date, and make some fun memories on the way.
Did you do anything more or different than the above to try to get that baby to ‘stick’?