22-09-2014

Work clothes, play clothes, and comfort clothes – with Joules Clothing

joules clothing

Chloe wears: Striped Top by Joules, denim boyfriend shorts, Converse. 

I like my clothes to be comfortable AND look good. I wouldn’t wear something that was comfortable but lacked any style, nor would I wear something that looked great at the expense of being comfortable to wear.

When I’m around the small ones, I need decent pockets (to hold lens caps and loose change so I don’t misplace them, and to hold my phone so I don’t drop it whilst child-wrangling), and I also need clothes that don’t show up stains easily, and tops that are resistant to stretching or sagging after repeated misuse by little grabby hands.

This Christen long sleeved jersey top from Joules is fun, soft, and made from quality fabric so there’s no worry about it clinging in the wrong places.

joules clothing

Sam wears: Teal mini check slim fit shirt by Joules.

Being limited to slim fit shirt styles only, Sam has pretty much exhausted the high street of their selection, so was pleased to find a new option in this slim fit men’s shirt from Joules. It is perfect for Sam’s frame, as well as being a smart option for the office.

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joules clothing

Arlo wears: Joules Rafe Boys Chinos, Donna Wilson fox top.

These block colour trousers are the perfect accompaniment to a bold patterned top. I love that the chinos are smart yet durable – built to withstand the antics of a busy preschooler, and will work well paired with literally everything.

joules clothing

joules clothing

Rory wears: Jersey top from Joules (part of a two pack), Handmade is Haute leggings, Monkey and Mole moccasins. 

I love a good pattern clash, and this striped Joules baby top is ideal for the purpose. Rory is currently rocking an oversized look, as we sized up to last all winter. These two pack jersey tops also work very well as pyjama separates.

Smart, withstanding, and comfortable – We are loving our picks from the Joules Autumn/Winter collection!

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Our chosen Joules clothing selection was provided for the purpose of this feature. 

21-09-2014

Arlo turns four – party prep

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It seems very weird to start planning an Autumn celebration in the middle of a heatwave, but Arlo’s October birthday has a habit of creeping up very quickly after the summer ends.

This year, he is having a ‘big’ party. We haven’t done the hire-a-hall thing before, so we thought we’d give that a whirl (even if it’s just so that we can be resolute in our opinion to NEVER do it again).

It’s his final year at preschool, he’s very settled there and he knows everyone, so it’s the perfect time to invite all of his class along. Next year, when he is in the first few weeks of big school and probably still learning names and faces and everything is new, we know it will be more enjoyable for Arlo (and for us!) to do a more low-key celebration, perhaps a family day out instead.

The invites

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Designed by me, printed at Printed.com

The theme

This was an easy one. It had to be dinosaurs – Arlo’s favourite thing. I don’t yet know how much or how little the party will actually be themed (don’t hold me to it!) – I’m not sure how much little ones really notice themed food at that age, and it is extremely hard to theme a party properly without dedicating a lot of time and/or money (at least, by Pinterest or parent blogger standards, anyway). This one will depend on how much spare time I find myself with in the weeks leading up to the party.

The venue

A huge church hall. Space was the key here, as the top three things Arlo has asked for are plenty of ride on toys and happy hopperz so that they can have races, and a bouncy castle with a slide.

happy hopperz

The entertainment

See above. We are keeping it pretty simple, and concentrating on the things that Arlo loves most. I’m currently worrying that it won’t be quite enough for 30 or so children, but then again, I’m pretty sure most three and four year olds just enjoy having a big space to run around in. Children tend to flock to Sam where ever we are. He’s like a fun magnet, kids attach themselves to him after deciding they want to do what he’s doing. And so I am pretty confident in his ability to be able to lead a large group of preschoolers on a dinosaur hunt and maybe a few other games.

Food and Drink

When checking the alcohol policy, I was sold on the venue when they didn’t miss a beat in responding, “Absolutely. We encourage it!!” Children’s party food is all very standard and they are easily pleased. But for the adults, it’s a big plus point to be able to have the option (should they choose to) of something sparkling to help soften the cacophony of a echoey hall of hyper children. So, on behalf of the parents, thank you, Waitrose, for treating us to a supply of your Prosecco range in celebration of Arlo’s big day.

waitrose prosecco

Now all that’s left to do is to resist the temptation to get sucked into the Pinterest vortex over the next few weeks before this whole thing spirals into a party-planning beast that I have neither the time or the patience to pull off…. Wish me luck!

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The drinks for the grown-up guests at Arlo’s party have been kindly supplied by Waitrose, who wanted us to tell them how we best like to celebrate with a glass or two of Prosecco. 

21-09-2014

A London Adventure – Open House London

wapping with children

We fancied a London adventure this weekend, so we hopped on a train to London Bridge (12 minutes!), and went for a wander.

It was Open House weekend, where hundreds of buildings and places open their doors to the public. When looking online at list of participating places, we found ourselves spoilt for choice and got a bit flummoxed by the options.

So, we set off with no plans save for the hope that our wander might see us stumbling upon a few extra things as part of the Open House London festivities, and we weren’t disappointed.

poppies tower of london

Our first stop was the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppy installation at the Tower of London.

More and more ceramic poppies are being added to the installation each day, until the number totals 888,246 – the number of British military fatalities during the war. It’s a very poignant tribute to mark the centenary, and something that I’ve been wanting to visit since it began in August.

(If you are into World War One history, another centenary commemoration well worth visiting is Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace, which is a street gallery exhibition in St James’s Park, depicting the battlefields as they are today – and it was put together by my Aunt and Uncle!).

We followed the river along to St Katherine’s Docks, which is great for a potter, with its cafes and picturesque setting.

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Continuing on towards Wapping,  there are pedestrianised stretches of the river with high walls and no cars – perfect to let toddlers loose for a run around.

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We came upon the Hermitage Community Moorings , which were open for us to go down and have a look, yay!

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Wondering through Wapping in search of a pub, we came across the Captain Kidd and had a drink overlooking the Thames.

 

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At Wapping Station we hopped on a bus that would drop us directly under the Gherkin. And from there we conducted our own little walking tour of the city’s high rises – the cheese grater, the walkie talkie…and Dada’s office. All buildings that Arlo is obsessed with, but had yet to see up close.

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Then it was back over the bridge to look up at the Shard (for the millionth time) and get our train home from London Bridge station.

I really love exploring London with the children. It’s like a giant playground, there is always something interesting to see or do, and a lot of it is completely free of charge. Bar our travel and our drinks at the pub, we spent nothing on our day out, and this walking route was about as child and buggy-friendly as London goes.

 

 

10-09-2014

Siblings (September)

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Arlo asked for a photo with Rory – the posing was all down to him. 

There’s something about this photo. It shouts “BROTHERS” to me, and has me imagining the future – it’s definitely a keeper.

Arlo and Rory’s friendship has blossomed and swelled this summer. I will never tire of watching their games and their joy at being together.

I think Rory is going to miss having his favourite playmate around now that Arlo is back at preschool.

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This month I’m sending you to see Kelle and family over at Dinky and Dandy, which is just a feast for the eyes - check it out! . She’ll be sharing a photo of her children from this month, and sending you along to visit someone else. You can follow the circle around to see what all the hosts have been up to.

Have you taken a sibling photo this month? Link it up below!



04-09-2014

Sleep – It’s getting (a bit) easier.

IMG_9349Last night, Rory woke at 11pm, just as I was going to bed. I fed him, and waited for him to settle in his cot, before hitting the hay myself at 12am. At 2am, Rory was up again, and this time would not settle for being settled in his own bed.

I brought him into my bed and he spent the next hour wriggling at my breast, pulling my hair, tugging at my ears, and stroking my face with his hands (this sounds endearing, but when this is every single night, it gets damn tedious, let me tell you). After that, we both slept for an unconfirmed amount of time. I can’t check the time on my phone during this point of the night as it automatically makes Rory think it’s time to get up.

Then I woke with my back seized in pain from being locked in the same position for too long, and it took several attempts to unlock my back and prize myself away from Rory before I could successfully turn in the bed. Turning away from Rory disturbed him of course, and after a minute, I find myself turning back to him, hoping I can feed him back to sleep.

But it fails, and Rory is now sitting up in bed, chatting away, clapping, and climbing over my head as I pretend to sleep (sticking diligently to the ‘don’t talk to them or let them know you are awake’ tactic that never works). Rory breaches my man-made barrier and starts bashing Sam over the head, laughing because he’s spotted ‘fun dada’. Sam is pushed so far towards the edge of the mattress, he’s barely clinging on.

Eventually, Rory decides that he IS tired and he DOES want to feed. He settles back to sleep just as it’s getting light. And just as Arlo is waking up at 6am. Sam quickly intercepts and takes Arlo downstairs, at which point I get a glorious THIRTY MINUTES in the bed. Rory asleep, me dozing, more room for both of us.

Sam has to leave for work at 7am, so my lie-in doesn’t last long. But two things occur to me. 1. How is it that my quality of sleep is so poor that a mere thirty minutes can make a real difference to how tired I feel when I get up? (My 21-year-old self is crying for me). And 2. This twenty-minute GODSEND has only become possible recently, and what a difference that makes.

Before Arlo was weaned, he always had to come and see me in the morning. And that, of course, would lead to EVERYONE being wide awake, rather quickly. It’s so easy now – Sam can take him downstairs swiftly and with no fuss. It’s such a simple and small change, but I’m still getting used to this little bonus.

Week by week, the sleep thing is getting (a bit) easier.

We moved Rory’s cot into Arlo’s room over the summer, which has had the knock on effect of stopping Arlo pissing about in the evenings for hours on end. Gone are the noisy protests of “I’M NOT TIRED” “I’M HUNGRY”, “I DON’T WANT TO GO TO BED”, etc. Gone are the repeated episodes of him sneaking out of his room at bedtime. His 9.30pm bedtimes have crept back to 8pm.

Arlo actually seems to have some kind of consideration for Rory being there at bedtime, and so he stays quiet and relaxed in his bed, which naturally leads to ACTUALLY FALLING ASLEEP a lot faster than it does when he consistently fights sleep by refusing to be still for longer than a second.

It seems that Arlo has come out of his horrendous sleep phase FINALLY. It was about six months of dramatic night wakings, nightmares, wailing and writhing around, not settling again without considerable effort. He is MOSTLY going all night quite peacefully at the moment.

The change has really been quite remarkable. Arlo obviously feels massively reassured by the presence of someone else sharing his room. And on top of that, he is comforted by the increased presence of Sam and I in his room during the night, as we pace the floor trying to settle Rory.

Having our room free of children in the evenings has been a big change for me, too. I can turn the lights on in our bedroom and do my face cleansing routine before bed. I can read a book in bed.

Rory has (for the most part) cut out his 9.30pm wake up, which means I generally get an evening and he wakes just as I’m going to bed. The other day he slept right through from bedtime until 2am – that felt like a crazy amount of time to have so much space in my bed. Pure luxury.

I say “It’s fine”, “I’ve learnt to adapt, to live with it”, and “I’m managing”. And I am. But I’ve realised that I’m doing myself a disservice to play down the sleep thing in my own head. I’ve recently realised that it’s OK to accept that years of broken, unpredictable sleep has had some effect on my mental health. That light bulb moment really shouldn’t have even been a light bulb moment, because NO WONDER. Certain anxieties that are closely linked to sleep, and it makes perfect sense, and it’s OK to feel that way.

I’m not saying that my experience has been any better or worse than anyone else’s. It’s an aspect of parenting that we all have to deal with. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get hard. Or that we have to play it down.

Give yourself a break from beating yourself up because you feel that you should be stronger. It’s OK to be kind to yourself.

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