Monthly Archives: September 2012

Another short hiatus whilst we move house

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No sooner am I back from holiday, than we move house! Yes, I seem to like a challenge as my life seems to have been non-stop recently. Unfortunately, Sky broadband can’t seem to manage a seamless transition from old to new house so they’re disconnecting us today, and we’ll be activated again in the new house sometime next week (you guessed it – they couldn’t specify a date!).

So I’m having to take another mini blog hiatus. I will have a dongle in case of urgent queries (and for stealing a few moments when I’m having serious withdrawals). It’ll all be worth it as we’re moving so Dexter can have a garden and we can be near the best nursery / primary school in town.

See you on the other side!

Mustn’t forget the baby…

 

 

A fairytale wedding and excellent first holiday for Dexter (… & some serious eye candy for the ladies)

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So here it is – the post I’ve been putting off. There’s just so much to say about our recent holiday that I’ve been finding housework to do rather than contemplate it. But its such a major event in Dexter’s life, it deserves a good write-up – so here we go.

Our holiday began at 2am on Friday 14th October – we drove to Gatwick in Grandad’s car with Dexie fast asleep beside us in his car seat. We thought we’d left plenty of time to clear all the airport formalities but we ended up having to run for the departure lounge! Our meet-and-great service was terrible and the TravelEx girl was desperately flirting with Craig so we were held up before clearing security. Luckily having Dexter with us meant we had speedy-boarding with Easyjet – so we had a few minutes to recover from the airport dash before the plane took off. The flight was largely empty which was excellent news as Dexie got his own seat in-between mummy and daddy – he was amazing and slept virtually the whole flight.

We arrived at the apartment tired, excited, and desperate for a swim. Unfortunately my suitcase broke on the flight so I held everyone up at Faro airport reporting missing items with Lost & Found. The apartment was listed on both Owner’s Direct and HomeAway.co.uk and seemed to show stock photos of other apartments for sale in the complex. Because of this we weren’t 100% sure how they would look in the cold light of day. We weren’t disappointed as they were stunning. The decor was lovely, and the rooms were huge. All of us remarked throughout the holiday that you could quite happily live there. There were also some extra features like a touch screen stove, state-of-the-art air con and all the mod cons you could think of.

Dexter explores the beach – he liked the feel of the sand on his toes

My only criticism of the apartments would be the pool. There was some light maintenance needed and it was much too cold for Dexter. As I’m not a strong swimmer, I thought this wouldn’t bother me but it was so hot out there that the pool was essential for cooling off.

We were based in Quarteira – a small beach town that was largely closed for the summer. It was perfect as I didn’t want a busy resort given I’m still carrying my baby-weight. We spent a large chunk of our time relaxing on the beach or having a few beers at the beach-side bar. Dexter coped fantastically with the heat and was perfectly happy in his Koo-di travel cot laying on the beach. This was undoubtably the best thing we packed as it kept him in the shade and allowed him to nap wherever we went.

The worst buy has to be his pushchair. Although the Quinny Buzz 3 is brilliant and everything we want from a pushchair, we bought ours secondhand the wheels were very worn. They only lasted 6 hours in the heat before one burst unexpectedly whilst we were out. Unfortunately the apartments had already let out their only on-site pushchair to another couple so we were screwed. We tried his Mamas and Papas baby carrier but Dexter is really heavy and it was too hot to use this all the time. We ended up popping in a new inner tube (we brought one with us) and tying some rubber gauze around the hole in the tyre – this seemed to do the trick.

Somehow Dexter settled into a routine perfectly. We still gave him a bath every night using his Summer Infant bath seat and this worked perfectly. He was asleep every night by 8pm with no fuss, and woke up at 6am ready for play-time and a bottle. This was brilliant as nanny and grandad could babysit for us and we could grab a taxi into Vilamoura for drinks and food. We hadn’t expected Lynne and Terry to be so generous with their baby-sitting but it was much appreciated as Craig and I really enjoyed having time alone. We ate in some gorgeous restaurants (our favourite was the Mayflower) and talked loads about Dexter and the sort of parents we want to be. It was actually really romantic staring across the marina with a few drinks, and reminded me why I’m so in love with Craig and my little family.

Dexter really enjoyed having a whole uninterrupted week with daddy

Of course, the whole reason we were in Portugal was to attend the wedding of Alison and Kenny. Kenny is one of daddy’s closest friends and they used to live together back in daddy’s care-free days. Alison’s dad used to own a villa in the Algarve so it’s close to her heart. About 50 of us flew out to be part of their special day which is testament to them being so lovely. When Dexter was born, Alison and Kenny were the first to invite us round for a BBQ. I’ll never forget crying in their garden because Dexie wanted a feed and I was too tired to breastfeed. This BBQ was where Craig and I decided on the name Dexter after quizzing Kenny and Alison’s children Reece, Jay, Jess and Becca. They managed to convince Craig that the name isn’t synonymous with big glasses stuck together with sellotape and being dunked into toilets at school.

The wedding was beautiful. The entire day was spent at an exclusive hotel and we had the run of the entire grounds. The ceremony was held in the shaded garden and was pretty much perfect. The music was provided by an acoustic guitarist that looked like he’d starred in a Whitesnake video but he was excellent. The vicar was really funny and threw in a few jokes throughout the service too. Jess (Alison’s daughter) gave a brilliant reading too which brought a little tear to my eye. If I have a daughter and she grows up to be anywhere near as bubbly, friendly and confident as either Becca or Jess I’d be the proudest mum on the planet. To top it all off, Alison and the girls looked really stunning – it really was an idyllic wedding.

Dexter was supposed to make an appearance at the reception with nanny and grandad but the taxi drivers out there were shocking and failed to turn up. Lynne had already woken Dexter to dress him and felt it would be cruel to take him when he was so sleepy. I was a bit gutted as I’d been raving about him all day and wanted to show him off (but to be honest we were both a little drunk!). Lynne was also going to bring a much-needed pair of flip-flops with her as my feet were ruined in the heels I was wearing. To be honest I picked the worst outfit ever. Everyone else was in maxi dresses and managed to keep cool. I, on the other hand, wore a silk shift dress that showed every lump and bump. It also marked easilyand I was stuck with a water mark from a champagne glass before the ceremony even began. I’ve had to untag myself from a few pictures of me that were posted innocently on Facebook as I can’t bear looking at myself – time to hit that diet and get back into a size 12 I reckon.

Craig was on form as always. He looked really lovely and was really funny after a few drinks. There was some ‘dad dancing’ on the dancefloor and lots of bad jokes. The after-dinner speeches were great with Py (the best man) and Kenny trying to outdo each other with the comedy. It’s really lovely that all Craig’s friends are so close after all these years. Many of them have known each other since secondary school (that’s a good 30 years). They’re a really great bunch of guys and I guess our own wedding will be just as fun if we get everyone drunk enough.

The resort in the early morning – everything was perfectly manicured

Our apartment from the beach – we were seconds away from this everyday – bliss!

We were so close to the beach!

On the last night we took out nanny and grandad for a posh meal to say thanks for coming on holiday with us. It was a really relaxed week with them, and their support was invaluable. They were really lovely company too and we had a few giggles along the way. Dexter is lucky to have such awesome grandparents. As we were waiting for the meet-and-greet service at the airport on the way out to Portugal – mummy overheard nanny Lynne chatting to a lady and heard her say “We don’t see enough of him” (about Dexter). It broke my heart a little bit. We should all see each other much more than we do – hopefully Craig can take Dexter to see his mum and dad more often now he’s in charge of day-time childcare.

Terry and Lynne at the Mayflower Restaurant in Vilamoura Harbour

So what did we learn about Dexter on holiday? We learnt that he’s an amazingly well-behaved and happy child. He handles change brilliantly and always has a smile for us. His sleeping is much improved and he’s regularly managing 12 hour night-sleeps, with a few naps throughout the day. We can now leave him with babysitters with confidence knowing he won’t fuss throughout the night. This is excellent as it means we can go out for dates more regularly. We’ve also learnt that Dex hates cold water and it’ll take a while for him to enjoy swimming. We’re going to try taking him to the local pool here in Reading as its heated – if that doesn’t work we might have to leave it awhile before trying again. Finally, our little lad will sleep anywhere. The one night he came out with us in the evening he sat in a bar with us whilst Craig watched a Champions League match – the noise was deafening. After this there was a live band and karaoke… Dexter slept through the whole lot!

Craig and I have now promised each other that we’ll go away a least once every year. It’s important for us that Dexter grows up having seen and experienced different places. He needs to realise there’s more to life than ‘home’ so he grows up worldly and responsible. This was a relaxing beach holiday and one spent with family and friends. In the future, when he’s old enough, we’ll take Dexter to places where we can explore the local culture and we can entertain him easily. We’ve spoke about Disney World (my idea of hell but a rite of passage for any child), Safari’s and other clichéd holiday destinations. They’ll need to be lots for him to do so we can fill his days with new experiences. Until he’s old enough to appreciate it, we’ll pick parent-friendly destinations where we can enjoy the peace and quiet. I know Mauritius and the Maldives are high on our list.

As there is so much we want to see and do as a family, it’s unlikely we’ll go back to Portugal. It would have to be somewhere really special for us to visit somewhere twice. As a relaxing beach holiday however, we’d definitely recommend Portugal. It was so family-friendly and the climate was perfect in late September. I really liked the way that the Portuguese seem to really love spending time with their children. They eat late into the night and there were countless buggies past 10pm down on the Marina. The prices are excellent and there are lots of water parks and boat excursions in the peak season. We didn’t do any of these as it wasn’t what we wanted from this holiday but I’ve heard that they’re well worth the money. We stayed at the Cavalo Preto apartments in Quarteira (right next to the beach). These apartments were truly stunning and great value for money given they are a short taxi ride away from the action-packed Marina.

Finally, I know I promised some eye candy for the ladies. So here’s my Craigy! He was separated-at-birth from David Beckham don’t you know!

Ready. Steady. WEAN!

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At 4 months we got a bunch of weaning advice in the post and into my email inbox (I’m sure most novice mums will recall this). Craigy and I have poured over these and researched the subject thoroughly to work out just when and how to start Dexter off.

Although it seems that all the recommended reading suggests that babies should stay on exclusively breast or formula milk for 6 months, Dexter appears to be showing all the signs of being ready.  We particularly liked Plum Baby’s advice as this gave us the confidence to trust in our instincts. To be honest, everything disappears into his mouth, he sits up straight when feeding, and cries uncontrollably when mummy and daddy eat dinner. I realise some people might disagree with us adding new tastes to his diet, but we feel it’s right so stand by our decision.

So, armed with a dozen coupons that came through the letter-box, we went to Tesco’s to see what was available for him to try.

Our aim is invariably to give him weeny portions midway through his morning and afternoon bottle. We wanted something healthy, tasty and easy with no artificial e-numbers or flavourings or nasties. As he becomes accustomed to eating he’ll have pureed versions of mummy and daddy’s food. We eat fresh and home-cooked food every night (as Craig is a fantastic cook) and find this more flavoursome than store-prepared food. We always have meat, 3 veg and carbs so there is always something on our plates that can be blended to be suitable for our precious lad.

Right now however, we opted for Ella’s Kitchen. He’s got a number of fruity super-smooth-puree’s to enjoy, and… he’s loving it. In fact, I can’t believe how well he’s taken to it. There’s no throw-back and he swallows immediately with minimal mess. He’s also already started grabbing at the spoon (and our hands) so he can control the process.

Yet another milestone done. We’re so proud of you!

Looks like daddy’s going to have a great time cleaning your butt-butt throughout the day when mummy goes back to work next week!

And… of course it would be totally rude to not mention Madhouse Family Reviews. We have recently won a trio of gorgeous anyway-up cups with Cheryl and can’t wait to introduce them to Dex’s routine. Thanks Cheryl , can’t wait to receive them.

So when did your lil one start weaning? Have you any advice for us as Dexter starts his adventure of discovering new food?

 

Model Behaviour – Autumnal Style for Dexter

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Taking a beach holiday in mid-September, we knew that Dexter would have to experience a considerable drop in temperature when we got home. Having said that, we didn’t expect it to be this awful. Since stepping off the plane it has been non-stop rain. We’ve now got the heating constantly on, an extra blanket in Dex’s cot, and the lights are on until 11am as there’s no sunlight through the window. Yep we’re back in the UK and it’s absolutely miserable.

As I unpacked our suitcases and started putting away Dexter’s cute little summer rompers, t-shirts and shorts, I realised we might aswell go ahead and whack the lot on eBay. By the time there’s even a hint of sun, he’ll have outgrown them all!

I always get a little depressed this time of year. I love the sun and long evenings. I love holidays and seeing my other half in shorts. I can’t stand the rain and gloominess of the onset of winter – I always joke to Craig that I feel like we’re in a drugs den when there’s no natural light streaming in through our windows. This year it’s even worse as I’m going back to work next week and am feeling apprehensive about leaving Dexie throughout the day.

Luckily, just hours after sorting Dexter’s clothes into bundles for sale, the postman arrived with a little parcel from the States. Ripping open the packaging, Dexter has been sent a beautiful hand-crocheted beanie hat from the über talented Jessica of Eat Pray Yarn. Instantly, the change in the weather seems that little bit more bearable.

Dexter’s new hat! (Eat Pray Yarn)

Okay, it’s only a hat, but it’s so irresistibly cute that it has me actually looking forward to a cold early evening walk with Dex. It’s adorable! It’s warm and toasty and has none of the hard seams and labels that shop-bought alternatives have. The colour is also really mute so matches the whites, browns and deep blues of his winter wardrobe.

I bang on about it at least once a week but I truly love handmade things. I love the idea that no two items are the same and you have some say over the colour and style. This cute little hat reminded me that Autumn is an opportunity to bring out all the little knits and crochets I fell in love with when I was pregnant. Let’s face it – nothing says “Baby” like a homemade pair of booties or a teeny crocheted cardigan. I bought loads of these and Dexter hasn’t worn any yet! Browsing  Eat Pray Yarn’s Etsy shop brought it all back and I quickly trawled through his drawers to pull out these forgotten treasures.

Eat Pray Yarn’s Holiday Snow Pixie Bonnet

It seems that homemade vintage is a firmly in vogue at the moment too. Check out these adorable tights for boys created by Slugs & Snails. I’d love to have the guts to get Dexie in a pair but I think Craig would turn his nose up.

Slugs & Snails: Bright Tights for Bold Boys!

So the theme of Dexter’s Autumn wardrobe has been inspired by this one beautiful hat. I’m thinking 1920’s baker boy with a modern twist. Dex will still hang on to his Next hoodies and jeans, and I’m still lusting over these gorgeous Skeanie boots, but they’ll always be teamed up with his new beanie as a nod back to my love affair with homemade. I’ll also be sneaking in some handmade cardigans and jumpers so we can keep him looking like a baby and not walking high-street editorial!

Skeanie Infant Snugs in Chocolate

Going handmade can also be an affordable alternative to buying new. With Halloween around the corner, the temptation is to run out and buy an outfit they’ll wear for one day only. This will set you back £20+, and that’s before you buy all the decorations for your home that seem so important when there’s a child in the house. So how about this gorgeous (and tasteful!) pumpkin hat instead? Team it up with an orange sleep-suit and you’ve got an adorable outfit you can wear again that hasn’t cost you the earth from the high street.

Eat Ptay Yarn’s Pumpkin Hat

Eat Pray Yarn hats and other handmade goodies can be purchased from Etsy and shipping from the States to the UK is quick and inexpensive. There is also a Facebook page to browse for inspiration for other accessories. You can also reach out to Jessica if you have any questions or want a custom item – she’s lovely – this personal touch is another reason to buy outside of the high-street.

I have been generously given a promotion code so my readers can save 15% on any order placed. Please quote MyMillsBaby when ordering to receive your discount.

If you are just as enamoured with the Skeanie shoes featured in this post, you can purchase them here, or if you’re quick, you can try your luck with these competitions from two of my favourite mummy bloggers The Mummyblogger and A Twenty Something Mum.

Finally, I dare you not to secretly covet those adorable boys tights pictured earlier in this post. If you fancy a pair, you can get them here.

 

DISCLAIMER: I was sent a hat from Eat Pray Yarn to review but all the words and opinions in this post are my own. I have not received any payment for this post, nor had any communication with any other mentioned retailers.

Giggles, gymnastics and posing at 4 months

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I can’t believe how quickly you’re growing! Looking back through photos of you laying next to your earliest cuddly toys, you seemed dwarfed by some of them! Now, you’re able to grab and chew them with ease.

Your little personality is coming into its own now. You’re cheerful and endearing, sweet-tempered and loving. A tearful tantrum is always followed by a smile and you’re able to calm yourself down now without mummy. You’re also an avid chit-chatterer and each day you’ll make a new sound. Giggles are now prolonged and more frequent and just when mummy thought she couldn’t love you any more, she finds a little bit of extra room in her heart with every laugh you give.

Your legs are now super strong. Everyday you’ll come into mummy’s bed in the morning after daddy has gone to work. You’ll finish your long sleep with mummy then wake us up at 8am by kicking off the bed sheets and giggling beside me. You also love to stand up. After changing your nappy on your mat, you’ll stretch out your arms towards me and I’ll pull you up by your arms into an upright position. Standing there smiling in your sleepsuit you look like a mini gymnast after a world-class floor routine.

How much did mummy and daddy struggle getting a shot of you on your legs?!

You continue to take such stunning photographs and seem to enjoy posing. Mummy and daddy both have photos of you set as the background on their laptops and you seem to recognise yourself whenever you catch a glimpse of our screens.

We have had the odd bad day. You gave your dad a fright a few weeks ago when you screamed for 2 hours whilst mummy was having a few drinks with her friend, and yesterday you refused to let me put you down all day. We put these outbursts down to you feeling a bit tired or a bit unwell. They are always short-lived and never a problem.

We’ve had just one accident so far when mummy dropped an iPhone on your head. You sustained a tiny cut on your eyebrow and mummy stayed up all night crying. I’m sure this is the first of many knocks and scrapes but I could do without another for a few months as I was devastated.

Rolling still seems a long way off, but your sitting is progressing well and its only a matter of time before you can do this unaided.

This next month will be a big one for you. We have the challenge of introducing you to ‘grown up’ food, you’ll be going swimming for the first time ever with daddy on holiday, and I suspect we might get a ”mama” or “dada” out of you. We’re also moving house and moving you into your own room, and mummy is going back to work. These are massive things for us both to deal with and I’ve had lots of tears myself as I’ll really miss being with you during the day. Daddy will be with you from 10am – 3pm and I know you’ll make him as happy as you’ve made me with lots of giggles and little milestones. Just don’t forget mummy please, and save some smiles for me in the early evening.

Photoshoot with mum and dad

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I signed up to Likebees recently and noticed a canvas deal (400 x 600) for just £19. Given they’re usually £55 it was too good to miss. Craig and I started flicking through pics to immortalise and got stuck. So in a bid to get some new snaps we converted our living room into a studio and came up with these. Given we only had a white blanket and a camera, I think we struck it lucky!

What do you think!?