15 July 2018

How do you make a staycation feel like a real holiday?

This summer we are staycationing. Neither me nor the bubba has a valid passport and quite frankly, having a new baby, we sadly don't have the money either to go gallavanting abroad. We are going to have all four of us home - me (and the baby) on maternity leave, husband working from home and our older daughter off school. 

It is nice to have the whole family home of course, but at the same time, it would also be nice to have a holiday together. I have wondered thus, how to make our staycation to feel more like an actual real holiday - what kind of things could we do to make it a bit more special, and what kind of things could we go and see. 

So here is a collection of ideas and tips I am planning to follow during our staycation to make it feel more like a proper holiday. I asked a few blogger friends to give me their ideas too, and they had some great tips for staycations!


mum and daughter at lavender fields





Put your out of office on




It is so easy to just do a bit of work when you are home - especially if you are self-employed. There is always something you could do or should do. Even if you are employed it is so easy to just check a couple of emails on your work phone, or start thinking about project plans for the future. 

So be strict, turn the work mode off and holiday mode on. Sophie from Soph-obsessed explains, "Reduce and limit the use of phones and laptops. A vacation should mean no working but it's easier to be still responding to emails when you are on a staycation. I still make sure my out of office is on and my phone is on do not disturb!"

Minimise the chores

Chores, chores, chores.... That's probably the biggest thing you are missing when you are on a holiday. Like Maria from Happy Mummy says, make sure you have "no cooking or cleaning just like if you were really away! Get up go out for breakfast, have a nice day out with lunch and stop for dinner on the way home."

So if you want your staycation to feel like a vacation, those chores should be minimised. Get a cleaner in a couple of times a week, and let them deal with the housework, and eat out. Granted, this is not the cheap option, but definitely makes it feel more like a holiday when you don't have the daily drudgery to deal with.


mum and daughter at the beach



Explore and experience new things locally



When you live somewhere for a long time it is easy to miss out on visiting the local touristy things - like my husband who still hasn't visited the London Eye, despite it having been here nearly 20 years already... So, when you are having a staycation, it is the perfect opportunity to visit all those interesting places you never seem to have time to do during the week. Even if you don't live in a touristy area, I can guarantee there will be plenty of new places to explore locally. 



Victoria from Lylia Rose recommends making a proper day out of it. She says "plan days out every day so you're out most of the day. Even if exploring the local area, try and go somewhere you've never been. Don't buy normal groceries - go wild and have something different, including lots of treats and easy to prepare meals! Take lots of photos and wear lovely holiday clothes." 

Leaving the house and acting like you are on a holiday helps too. Have a day out, go to a new place to eat, and wear nice holiday clothes, and skip the telly in the evening in favour of spending some quality time together. 

Jo from Cup of Toast says they "have days out so it feels as though we've had a break from the house. Meals out in new places or pubs with large gardens where the children could burn off some energy. Pay for a cleaner to come in a couple of times during the week so we can ignore the chores. When we are at home, turn off the TV and read books instead or play a board game in the evening when the children are in bed." 





Learn something new

I loved the idea from Kate from Kate on Thin Ice for a 6 week, travel from home type of vacation. She suggested prepping a 6 week learning holiday - six countries in six weeks, where you have different recipes and foods every week, and "also incorporate learning about flags, culture and costume" for each of the countries. 

While this requires a fair amount of prepping, I think it would be such a fun and educational thing to do with kids over the summer. With older kids you could also ask them about the countries they would like to learn about and make them do the research, finding out what foods they would like to try and find some books for them to read about the country. In a large city such as London there are also opportunities to visit museums, restaurants and even cultural events to learn more about certain countries!


mum and daughter at a castle



Some things I have in plan for us this summer

This summer I am planning us seeing some new places locally. There are so many gardens and flower fields and other places to visit not too long a drive from us, so we will pack a picnic and go see some flowers or something. Or a new beach. Previously we have been to Hitchin Lavender fields and also a beach just an hours drive away from London and these would be nice to visit again. In addition, I have a corporate family membership to the English Heritage and Historic Royal Palaces so we will see at least one castle at some point. We recently went to Tower of London, and have visited Dover Castle in the past.

I have also converted some of our Tesco Clubcard points to tickets to nearby zoos - always a good idea with kids! And of course, we have London and all the great attractions there at our door step, so where possible, we will be visiting museums and other places there too. 



Staycations: ideas and tips for families. What to do and how to make your holiday feel like a real holiday if you stay home.




What would you do if you spent your holiday at home?






13 July 2018

What happens if you have Group B Strep (GBS) infection in pregnancy?

Like I mentioned in my birth announcement post, one of the issues that kept us in the hospital after birth was a Group B Strep infection (GBS for short). I had it in my first pregnancy too.

Surprisingly few people in UK have ever heard of GBS before, so I thought I'd talk about it here a bit and how my personal experience was, as I think it is quite typical of what others might experience too. I'll talk about how to test for it, how to talk to your healthcare provider about it and what it's likely to be like when giving birth with GBS. Obviously, I'm not a medical professional - I just know how to read - so take this post as personal reflections rather than gospel. I'll add some links that will provide more relevant and detailed information on risks and research.


pregnant mum on bed



Why care about GBS infection?

I first heard about this infection during my first pregnancy after reading online mums forums in my native language. I was really surprised to hear that in UK this is not routinely screened for. Most comparable developed countries do screen for GBS infections in pregnant mums, including my own home country.

About 20 to 40% of women have a GBS infection. It is also transient - so you might not have it now but develop it later, or have it and lose it later. If women have an active GBS infection at the time of giving birth, their babies may develop GBS infection as well. A small minority of babies born to mums with the infection end up very poorly. About one baby in a thousand births in UK develops a GBS infection. Of those babies one in ten will die and five in ten will have some sort of a lasting impact


How did I find out I had GBS?

After doing some reading I decided to get a private test done - I did this for both my pregnancies, after the 35th week of pregnancy as recommended. It is quite easy and affordable to get a postal kit. The actual testing and taking of the sample is easy, however a bit awkward, as this involves sticking a cotton bud up your fanny and bum. I'd recommend employing a small handheld mirror. And you should test early enough in the day so you can post it the same day (Mon to Thu) so the sample doesn't deteriorate in post. 

I used Strepelle this time, and was very happy with them. Unfortunately my first sample was lost in the post and after I contacted Strepelle, they sent me a replacement test the same day. I received it the next morning, thankfully, as at this time I was already overdue. I was really pleased how quickly it was sorted and a replacement test sent to me immediately. So I redid the test, sent it off on a Tuesday and got the results via a text message on Friday. A letter confirming the results was delivered the following week.


What did I have to do with the positive result?

If the results show as infected with GBS, you should talk to your midwife/doctor, and they will include it in the labour notes. It is worth making sure they write it in, and stamp it too, and it is worth adding the letter to the birth notes too so you can refer to it if anyone questions it. 

Because I got my results after I had finished all my appointments, the positive result hadn't been officially added to my notes. Although my notes did mention previous GBS and my obstetrician had written in my notes I should have antibiotics in labour again, I had to refer to the letter in the delivery room, as the midwives were umming and arring over whether they should indeed give me antibiotics, if there really was a GBS infection or was it referring to my first labour and blah blah blah. Much easier to sort this at one of the normal appointments, and even then, keep the letter handy.


pregnant mum on bed


What happened during and after labour?

During labour you get IV antibiotics. To ensure these get started early enough, you should get to the hospital as soon as your waters break or you go into labour. You are meant to be given the antibiotics four hours before the birth happens for them to have an effect.

In practice, having the antibiotics doesn't affect birth choices. All options, including water birth or a midwife-led centre, are available. I personally gave birth both times at the hospital labour and delivery ward because of other concerns, even if my first original plan with my first baby was to have a serene water birth. (Side note, with my second baby my birth plan only had one word - epidural...)

I had my antibiotics started as soon as my waters were broken. It can be annoying having the IV line though - I found I had to hold my hand in a very specific position for the antibiotics to drip in. And it took ages. Thankfully there are several hours of break between antibiotic dosages so it didn't bother my labour process too much.

After giving birth I was told that my baby would be monitored for 12 hours for temperature and heart rate and would also be reviewed by a paediatrician before discharge. While the guidelines technically say that if you have had antibiotics during labour this is not needed, in practice the doctors seemed to have quite a cautious approach to managing GBS. Unfortunately, even if you have the antibiotics your baby can still develop GBS, although thankfully it would be very rare occurrence. As we were recovering midwives would pop in our room every hour, or couple of hours to do those observations, and had there been anything they would have alerted the doctors.

In the end both my first-born and second-born ended up on IV antibiotics. For both of them it was more of a precautionary measure - with my first-born it was because of my own infection, and with my second-born, there were a "combination of minor markers" which in themselves I was told weren't of great concern but together made the doctors worry.

In both cases the doctors thought it would be better to start my babies on IV antibiotics while waiting for blood results to come back (in 48 hours) to see if there was an infection brewing. Thankfully, neither were affected and after the blood results were clear, IV antibiotics could be stopped and we got discharged from the hospital!

Like I mentioned before, I was quite surprised that this infection wasn't being tested on NHS and that there was very little information about it given, considering how seriously it was dealt with once you were confirmed to have it. I did my own research and personally, I am glad that I tested for it and it did make me feel safer knowing either way.


Have you heard of this infection before?





30 June 2018

From three to four! How our family is growing...

For the past year or so I have done a monthly family portrait and a post about our lives here on the blog. I've been sharing what we have been doing and what we have been enjoying, and of course posting a picture of us all. The last time I did this was in April. I was meant to update again in May but as you may know, something else happened... 

pregnancy family portrait in park

pregnancy family portrait in park

pregnancy family portrait in park kid kissing the bump


We started May as usual. I was enjoying my maternity leave, me and my husband were busying ourselves prepping for the soon-to-be-here baby, and Aili was in school, not really enjoying that so much. Her favourite catch phrase nowadays seems to be "School - it's sooooo booooring". By the end of May I was heavily overdue. On Friday, the 25th May we went to the park to have our last night as a family of three. We grabbed fish and chips, our picnic blanket and of course a camera and a tripod and faffed in front of it. And here are the results. Aili is not much for posing nicely in front of the camera anymore - nowadays she asks us "to have attitude" for the pictures. So we comply the best we can! 

Saturday 26th May we deposited the older child to her Nanny's, and off we went, to the hospital for the induction. I was 40+12 weeks pregnant and actually feeling pretty fine, and definitely feeling like the baby was not about to arrive on their own at all. Oh no, she was happily nestled in there. That Saturday evening we went to the hospital, I got induced, we went back home to wait for the effects, and then returned back to the hospital after a kebab and a film... 

Sunday 27th May was a busy one. 

And then Monday 28th May we had a visit from our big one to see the little one in the hospital! 


family portrait with a newborn

family of four with a newborn


I had to stay in the hospital for another five days for post-checks on our little one. There were a couple of things that needed to be monitored, although it was all mostly precautionary at that stage. Thankfully, nothing started developing so we were finally released and could go back home on Friday, 1st June! Hence, no chance of updating my May pictures on the blog, as was too busy at the hospital and then of course with a newborn back home. 

In June, I am not even sure what we have done. It has gone past in a sort of a milky haze. We've had a couple of visitors home, Aili has been going to school as always, and mostly we have stayed around home and our town. Aili had her fifth birthday, so we collected her from school bearing huge balloons and invited a couple of her friends for a playdate on the day. Having a rather grumpy newborn in the house we couldn't organise a proper birthday bash for Aili, so tried to make it special in another way, and have delayed her proper big party to July. 

Other than that we have done the normal newborn things - named her finally after much deliberation (Aija - pronounced Eye-ya!), registered her, bought more baby kit, took crazy amount of photographs, slept far too little, and lived in a rather chaotic messy house. It is all, little by little starting to normalise now, and things are starting to become more of a routine. I am loving seeing that interaction between the girls and how their relationship is developing. In the last pictures our new little one is nearly one month old, we took it after enjoying a summer bbq at her Nanny's!


family portrait with a one month old

family of four smiling

family portrait in the garden


So that was our May and June this year. Our growing family. It's been a wild ride but an enjoyable one!


You might also like: Our baby is here! and Our lives in April 2018



27 June 2018

My second-born at one month old

I can not believe that our newborn is now one month old. Time really does go fast.


baby with number one made from flowers


Aija has already earned an nickname - Little Miss Fussy Pants. And it's for a good reason. She. Has. A. Temper. Ever since the hospital she has been a bit of a drama queen. 

Quick to shout as soon as she gets annoyed about anything, she goes from zero to hundred in a millisecond. She doesn't give much in terms of warnings. It is happy go lucky baby one second, hangry little monster screaming the house down the next. It's not the cutesy newborn cry either that sounds a bit like a little kitty. No. It is proper tonsil-shaking scream. Our walls are made of paper really, so it wasn't a wonder when one of the neighbour's kids confessed to me that they had been woken up by our Little Miss Fussy Pants.

The sudden crying comes a lot when she is hungry. It doesn't seem she gives much of the newborn cues for hunger - she just sleeps soundly, until she wakes up angry-screaming. And once she wolfs down her milk, she falls asleep again. She was sleeping a lot in the first month, surprisingly so. It sometimes even felt like we didn't have a baby, bar the three-hourly screaming fits.


baby in a flower circle


I've been wondering what she will recognise as her name... It has been a struggle to NOT call her by her sister's name. So many times I've started to say Aili, and then had to correct myself to say Aija. Jokingly we've been saying she might start thinking her name is Ailiaija! Also, I've started wondering if she might start to recognise Aijabequiet as her name, as that seems to be what I keep telling her several times, everyday...

Because of her drama queen status we haven't ventured much out out. Not that I mind - it is actually nice to just relax back home, instead of what we did with the older one, where we were on the go constantly from the beginning. Our older one even appeared on TV as a newborn! We have been on the school run, to town a couple of times, a breastfeeding "class" and that's about it.



baby portrait amongst flowers


She has been growing well. I can't say she was a big baby when she was born, she really was just average sized. In the Red Book, she has been plotted on somewhere between the 75th and 91st percentiles, although for my personal growth chart (based on my height and weight) she measured in the 21st percentile when she was born. In comparison to her bigger sister, she was more substantial when she was born and feels much more robust. They were both very overdue, so neither of them were that fragile as babies born earlier can feel like.

Because Aija was a overdue baby she has been quite strong. Surprisingly strong at kicking you, just like she was when in my tummy. Man, that was painful. Also surprisingly, she started holding her head up all by herself already at the hospital. She even managed to turn from her back to her tummy just a couple of days old. She hasn't repeated that since, but she still holds her head up well, pushes off your chest and mostly enjoys tummy time.


baby with number one made from flowers


Now her hair started to thin out! She is also getting a bit of milk spots, and baby acne. She is of course still cute in our eyes (most of the time, when she is not incessantly crying) but I am looking for that baby hair to grow back and make her look like less of Friar Tuck!

That's about it really. She is a loud little drama queen who looks more or less like a monk ha ha. We do love her, really... even if she is a bit of a pain sometimes!




24 June 2018

Why I think the language around breastfeeding needs to change

So. Breastfeeding. With a new baby it has been on my mind a lot recently. It was also on the news a lot last week after the Royal College of Midwives released a statement that women's informed choice to breastfeed, bottle-feed, or a combination of both "must be respected".

I do hope the new statement brings on a change. The language employed in the promotion of breastfeeding is incredibly guilt-tripping and quite frankly, damaging. Damaging to mothers, damaging to babies and damaging to the whole aim of promoting breastfeeding.

I haven't talked about it here before but I have found breastfeeding a huge challenge. It was difficult and nigh impossible the first time. I wished and hoped that it would have been different with my second-born, but alas, it was even worse this time. 


mother breastfeeding in a hospital


The message you get given through all antenatal information makes it seem like it shouldn't be a challenge. All leaflets and information given is all about how breast is best, all mothers can and should breastfeed, it is difficult, but you just have to persevere and try and breastfeed you shall. That just about covers the NHS-issued angle to breastfeeding promotion.

When you venture on internet forums, you start to hear all sorts of extreme opinions. Breastfeeding gets equated to good parenting, that you are choosing to give the best to your baby, and that formula is evil and if you don't breastfeed you have chosen the easy route. Breastfeeding is apparently the natural thing to do and women have been doing it since the beginning of time. It is just because "modern women" have options to use formula and are lazy about it, that breastfeeding rates are low.

Well, that is just blatantly untrue. Women have always struggled to breastfeed for various reasons. Always. That's why lactation failures have been described in medical literature already in 1550BC, and archaeologists have found baby bottles dating over 4,000 years. Or hey, we've all heard about wet nurses too haven't we? That used to be a regulated and well-thought of profession back in the day.

So what if you can't breastfeed? Or what if you just simply do not want to? You are still going to hear all about how you should and definitely can breastfeed, if you just try hard enough. And try you must if you are to be a good mother.

First time around, I remember walking down the hospital corridors to the refrigerator to get my formula milk and having to walk past posters with smiling mummies, their suckling babies, with affirming statements such as "I'm happy. She's happy. Breastfeeding is the best decision I ever made" and "I'm not saying it's always easy. I'm saying it's worth it" and "Breastfeeding - What could be more natural?".

It wasn't just upsetting. It also made me incredibly angry. Why does this need to be stuffed down your throat when you are at your most vulnerable? How dare they start guilt-tripping women when they need support the most, whatever way they are feeding their babies, whatever the reason?

Second time around I spotted a poster in the delivery room (out of all places), saying the hospital was "baby-friendly" so they would not provide any formula milk or feeding equipment and you should prepare to bring it from home if you want to use any. It annoyed and angered me at the same time. What's so baby-friendly about starving babies if they need to be fed? And how about mother-friendly? Off you trot to local shops in your sleep-deprived state if you are finding it difficult, too bad, we are baby-friendly here! Thanks for slamming that in the delivery room where you are already tired, sleep-deprived and highly emotional.

The guilt-tripping language makes mothers feel like failures. It is damaging and should stop.


mother bottlefeeding in a hospital


It's also damaging to babies. If you are told breastfeeding is natural and you just have to make an effort, how long will you try? Anecdotally, I've heard of so many babies being readmitted for jaundice, dehydration or low weight gain, and it just doesn't make sense to me. Why not just educate women on how to feed their babies safely, whatever the means? I know it would have been a lot more useful for me to have someone talk to me about sterilising and baby-led feeding while in hospital, than having a couple of leaflets handed to me when leaving and Googling this information home.

There is a lot of promotion of breastfeeding, but the actual support when women face problems with it just is not there. Midwifes, bless their hurried hearts, I am sure try very hard to help at busy post-natal wards but there is only so much help you can give when your training tells you how to latch babies on and that everyone can and should do it. I found much of the help was almost like blind leading the blind, young midwifes repeating the lines about a good latch and to just keep trying, without any relevant personal or practical experience below their belts. Adequately trained breastfeeding counsellors or lactation consultants are rare to find, there might be one available once a week a couple of hours at a local breastfeeding clinic. Local doesn't really mean local by the way - it could be anywhere miles away from where you live. And when there are issues that could be corrected (like tongue ties, or prescriptions for drugs that help with milk coming in) you can be sure there are long waiting lists for treatment unless you can afford to go private.

It's just bizarre - the language employed and the contrasting lack of support. It is not right and it is not realistic. 

There are a huge variety of reasons why some women can't or choose not to breastfeed. We've all got our own priorities, our own motivations, and our own physical and mental abilities to work with. Women are perfectly able to understand information given to them about infant feeding, and make the best possible choice for their babies and for their families. Be that breast or bottle. So just give us the information and respect our choices. Without the guilt-trip.


What are your thoughts on breastfeeding?



8 June 2018

Our baby is here!

This is just a quick post to announce the birth of our second-born - our darling little daughter number two! She was born on 27th May, 8.29PM, weighing 3695 grams (that's 8'1 lbs for those of you not used to the metric system). 


newborn baby


As usual, I was supposed to update here a lot sooner and a lot more in detail, but time has just slipped away. As it does with newborns... Not to mention long hospital stays! 

On Saturday the 26th May I was off for an induction. I wasn't really looking forward to it, considering the train wreck my first labour was. More on that later, perhaps. 

This time the birthing went really well though. I do want to write a proper birth story at some point (and I did a vlog too!), so definitely more on this experience later. It did go really well, all things considering, and my pain was managed really well and the birth went excellently. It was all mostly calm and afterwards I walked to the shower on my own and I felt perfectly fine. Yes, I was tired, a bit sore, but all in all, it was a walk in the park compared to my first labour. 


newborn feet


As everything went so well I had been expecting to leave the following day. Our expected 12 hour observations turned into five days in the end though... 

Once we got out from the labour ward, paediatricians took a cautious approach and wanted us to remain in hospital for added monitoring. In this pregnancy I had these blood antibodies - essentially meaning that during pregnancy my blood could have attacked the baby's blood, causing her to become anaemic and jaundiced. To monitor this condition we had to stay in for a few days ensuring that her blood works were staying in the normal ranges before being discharged. Thankfully, all stayed normal and we only have to go back to check them again in a couple of weeks and that should hopefully be that. 

Separately, I also had GBS infection. Because of (as paediatricians put it) a combination of minor "markers", they felt precautionary IV antibiotics should be given while waiting for blood results on whether or not our baby had an infection. Thankfully, she didn't.

So, five days we were there... The time both flew by and passed painfully slow. There were so many appointments and tests, and then of course breastfeeding tribulations, and I was really missing my home comforts and my big baby, the new big sister waiting to spend time with her baby sister. 

As far as a hospital stays went, it was probably the best of a bad bunch as we had our own, rather big room, at the birth centre and could have privacy and rest, much more so than at a busy postnatal ward. I spent my down time mostly eating, sleeping and taking photos. I didn't really venture out much, other than to the SBCU, and I have to say that those cultures that still practice lying-in are probably taking the right approach to maternal recovery!

So, that was that. After five days at the hospital we finally got to go back home. And here we are. Enjoying life as a family of four. And it is wonderful. 

mum, dad and sister looking at a newborn




26 May 2018

Off to induction we go!

It has been a busy busy maternity leave. And a long one. My due date is now well past and off to induction I go.

Induction of labour was one of those things I was hoping to avoid this time. Make do a better labour from the last time, let the baby cook well, and come out when they want and with less pain, less interventions, less issues, less time in the hospital. But alas, here we go again.

pregnant woman on bed


Despite everyone telling me that you never know, the baby might appear any moment, I have been almost 100% positive the baby will not arrive ahead of the last possible moment. Perhaps it's genetic. Both me and my husband were late to arrive, although I believe neither of us were induced. Things were a bit more lax in the 80's. Perhaps it is genetic in another way - I seem to be permanently late and do things always at the last minute myself. Or perhaps it's psychological, being worried about what's going to happen and not wanting to go to labour. I haven't felt the urgency or the nesting instinct or anything like that, and had it not been for my husband kicking me along, we would probably be driving via Mothercare on our way back home from the hospital to pick up a moses basket for the baby...

The last couple of weeks have been quite busy for us. We have been busy prepping and preparing for the baby, buying cribs and changing tables, and washing prams and car seats, hunting down newborn clothes from the garage, washing, folding, storing.

pregnant woman sitting on bed and cradling belly


Last week we got even busier as I felt the baby was not moving normally. Because of the reduced movements and being already overdue we have been traipsing to the hospital daily for check-ups. Thankfully, everything has always been reassuring since and the movements went back to normal after the first check-up, and we have continued with the close monitoring instead of an earlier induction as was first proposed by the obstetricians. 

So. Off to induction we go. As last time I am preparing for a possibly long stay in the hospital. Of course, everything could go much much better than last time. Maybe the baby will just pop out... Unlikely story, but one can wish. So please, wish me good luck!





14 May 2018

Toad-in-the-hole with a healthy twist!

We're big sausage fans in our household but as they are quite fatty, we occasionally replace the normal sausages with chicken versions. As I'm not much of a cook, I was delighted to get an invite from Richmond Sausages to taste test their new chicken sausages and to learn a few new easy homely recipes using them. Their chicken sausages were launched recently and are available in all major supermarkets - and I was pretty interested in hearing that they have 30% less fat than normal sausages! So definitely a (slightly) healthier option.

Please note that this post and recipe is written in collaboration with Richmond Sausages. Please also check the giveaway for £25 Tesco voucher at the bottom of the post - winner could get plenty of sausages with that!


angellica bell talking

richmond chicken sausages

cooking demonstration

three sausage dishes


At the event we tasted loads of different family favourites made using the chicken sausages - they were versatile and worked well from pasta dishes to bangers and mash. My favourite recipe of the day was the healthy Toad-in-the-hole recipe though, which I want to share with you!

Toad-in-the-hole with a healthy twist

Ingredients:

Batter: 
1 cup plain flour
4 medium eggs
½ cup of milk
1 tsp chopped rosemary
few gratings of lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste

Filling:
8 Richmond Chicken Sausages
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 bag of spinach
1 ½ cups of broccoli florets trimmed and cut into bitesize pieces
1 cup frozen peas (thawed in cold water)

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 220C.
2. Make the batter. Whisk all the batter ingredients in a bowl until smooth, place in fridge to rest.
3. Pour oil in a large roasting tray (ceramic is recommended, but glass and metal work too). Put the sausages in the tray and toss them in oil to coat. Place in oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, until browned. Turn sausages half way.
4. Steam broccoli until slightly cooked by placing a bowl with 3 tbsp water, covering and microwaving for 2 minutes.
5. Remove the sausage tray from oven, add all the vegetables to the tray and give everything a quick shake.
6. Pour the batter over vegetables and sausages and quickly return the tray to the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the batter is puffed and golden.
7. Remove from oven, allow to sit for a moment and serve! Gravy goes nicely with this dish too.

And one of the tips I got was to keep the pan as hot as possible before pouring the batter in - even if it means you pretty much keep it in the oven, just pull it out a bit and pour the batter in right there and then. This helps the batter to rise properly.


buffet lunch made with chicken sausages

lunch on a plate

yorkshire pudding

picture of richmond chicken sausages packets


I had great fun at the cooking event and I got some fab cooking tips and instructions from both the professional chef developing recipes for Richmond, and Angellica Bell, the 2017 Celebrity MasterChef winner.

We yapped away at the end, going through the tips and all, and I got to ask Angellica also what kind of food she cooks back home for her kids. Unsurprisingly, not the MasterChef type fancy cuisine, but the usual lasagne, pasta and other homely dishes are what get her kids excited.

My child is unusually fussy but Angellica had a tip for that too. What Angellica tells her kids when they don't want to eat her meals is that they only need to taste, and if they still don't like it, she will prep something else. And after tasting, they usually are happy to eat it. Might be of course her cooking skills that are doing the trick, so my concoctions might not garner the same support back home... but I'll try that tip too!

me meeting angellica bell


Enter the giveaway below using Rafflecopter and comment on the post what your favourite sausage recipe you might make with the Richmond Chicken Sausages! Entry open to UK adults aged 18 and over, one entry per person, selection random, Wave to Mummy is the data controller. Full T&C's.

Try this traditional British sausage dish "toad in the hole" recipe with a healthy twist! Made using Richmond Chicken Sausages, seasoned Yorkshire pudding batter and green vegetables!


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You might also like: My other recipe posts



11 May 2018

What should you buy for your maternity wardrobe?

After two pregnancies I'd like to think I've got maternity wear down to a fine art. I've got a fair few tips and ideas on what to buy for maternity wear, and what kind of clothing is most useful for pregnancy and post-pregnancy. Based on my own experiences of what I've actually used and loved, here are my top tips on what to consider when shopping for your changing figure in pregnancy!

There are a couple of affiliate links in the post, and I have also reviewed a couple of maternity-relevant items new to me - Panache nursing lingerie and Want That Trend maternity dresses.

maternity wear tips


How much might you spend?

On one hand, you might not want to spend too much money on items that you wear only a limited time. On the other hand, it is well worth investing in some pieces, and preferably choosing items you can use for after pregnancy as well. Your body will (almost 100%) NOT bounce back straight after pregnancy. For example, while I lost weight fairly quickly after my first pregnancy, my pelvic bones took a couple of months to settle back into their previous shape before I could get back to my pre-pregnancy jeans. 

I personally bought many of my items from high street shops and paid special attention at sales to get good deals. I bought most items from H&M and Gap, as they are in my style and have a good selection of maternity wear. Gap in particular has a great selection of maternity jeans. As I work(ed) in an office I needed a fair bit of casual smart outfits and ended up  spent about £200 to £300 on an extensive wardrobe that got me through both weekdays and weekends. Additionally, if you consider suitability for nursing when buying dresses and tops, you will get much more use out of them over long-run.

Select natural fabrics as much as possible

Think breathable and natural - it's quite common that when pregnant, after giving birth and when breastfeeding your hormones are so out of whack you get very hot and bothered. Polyester and other man-made fabrics can easily make you hot and sweaty. Much better to choose cotton, linen and viscose in a slightly stretchy fabric.


loose and tight maternity wear top


Baggy and loose vs tight on the tummy

At the beginning of pregnancy, when you mostly look like you've had a few too many pies, slightly looser and empire-lined tops work well. These can also be very comfortable at the very last stages of pregnancy when your belly might start to be achy. But once your tummy starts to look like a proper pregnancy belly, tighter tops look much nicer as they don't add any volume to your upper body. They accentuate the pregnancy belly and you might as well enjoy the brief time where you don't need to be self-conscious at all about your tummy! I would prioritise buying figure-hugging tops and get just a couple loose ones for those awkward days.  

Hacks and items for creating a long-lasting pregnancy wardrobe

One of the most useful items I bought were long strappy tanktops. You can get these fairly cheap from high street shops (like H&M). During pregnancy, slip them underneath your pre-pregnancy tops that are getting slightly too short with ever-expanding belly or pair them with a nice blazer or cardigan for the office. After pregnancy, continue using them as nursing tops, either by themselves or slip them under normal tops to provide tummy coverage.

When choosing tops and dresses, consider their suitability for nursing. I find wrap tops, button-ups, zip-ups and deep and loose v-necks can work well after pregnancy as well for nursing.

Some items can be used to extend the life of your pre-pregnancy wardrobe. Bra extenders are amazing if you gain weight or bloat during your pregnancy - I used these a lot in my first pregnancy. Belly bands and belly belts are a bit of an opinion-divider. Some people find them helpful - personally I thought they were a bit faffy and would slip down easily. I preferred to go straight into maternity wear once my normal trousers started to be too tight.

maternity wear dresses - maxi and midi


Invest in a couple of dresses

My absolute favourite maternity wear are dresses. They are easy to wear, and look great while pregnant. They work in an office and during the weekend, and can be dressed up or down. There are lots of different styles but I find maxi-dresses especially nice with a pregnancy belly.

I was sent two dresses by Want That Trend from their Katie Piper maternity collection for a review. Now, I'm a big fan of Katie and have previously interviewed her for my blog, and was keen to see what her collection was like. (Oh yes, and if you fancy 10% off Want That Trend site - use the discount code WAVETOMUMMY10). 


katie piper maternity wear dresses


I really liked the designs, however, many were polyester-based so not something I would choose. I got the Nadine skater dress and  Geometric tile detail wrap dress as I loved the look of them and they were made from viscose (cellulose-based fabric). I have got a lot of compliments wearing them, and especially the Geometric wrap dress which I love. The wrap dress is a great figure-hugging fit, and looks fab in an office.

As for quality, I found the dresses to be very short. I am 5'7 or 5'8 and found the dresses were a tad too short to be comfortable, especially the skater dress which can easily ride up. Katie is 5'2 and while they sit nicely on her, I reckon you could be max 5'5 to feel comfortable in them. The dresses have been through a few washes and seem to be holding their colour and condition well. However, as viscose is thinner and less durable than cotton, I don't expect these to last longer than the pregnancy and some of the maternity period.

Get your nursing bra bought as close to delivery as possible

It's usually recommended that you go and get yourself measured again at the very last stages of your pregnancy before buying nursing bras. I personally found I stayed the same size during pregnancy, but some women do change cup/band sizes. Once the milk comes in, the breast size might change again, so usually non-wired bras are recommended to accommodate small fluctuations, but there are some under-wired nursing bras as well if you prefer them.

panache eleanor nursing bra


I was sent three nursing bras by Panache for a review. I found them to be absolutely true to size - I got the same as I wear currently and they fit perfectly. I've written about how to find the best bras for bigger busts previously, and Panache is definitely one that offers a range of sizes suitable for all figures. I measure at GG and Panache goes up to J!

I liked that Panache had an underwired cup for the Eleanor nursing bra. While you have to be more careful with underwired cups when nursing and make sure they fit perfectly, they are far more comfortable fit for bigger busts. Non-wired cups are good to buy as well as your breasts may get sore and they accommodate fluctuations in size better. I was also sent Sophie non-wired nursing bra, in both black and white. They are so pretty with their vintage lace design, and I loved that you could get matching knickers!

I found the bands on all the Panache nursing lingerie to be fairly stretchy, so I believe they will feel comfortable even if bloating a bit after pregnancy and while nursing. there was a good amount of settings too. The clip system worked well when tested and the bras fit true to size. The bras felt comfortable and supportive on and I'm looking forward to using them during nursing.


panache sophie nursing bra and shorts in black and white


In summary

As a conclusion I would say it is OK to spend a fair bit of cash on maternity wear, as you are likely to use it post-pregnancy and while nursing. Best fabric materials are natural and breathable fabrics as pregnancy can make you sweaty sometimes. It is good to think of ways to extend the usage of items, such as using bra extenders, long tank tops and making sure tops and dresses are suitable for nursing as well. Tight tops and dresses look fabulous with a pregnancy belly, so I always prioritised those.


What tips would you have for maternity wear?





1 May 2018

What happened in our lives in April 2018?

So, this is going to be our last family portrait as a family of three. Next month, by hook or crook, we will be a family of four! 

My due date is on 14th May, so the baby will come sometime in May, even if (like last time) we had a very late baby who had to be forcibly extracted. I am hoping for a late (albeit easier) delivery though as we are still in prepping mode. Should really sort out that cot sometime soon for example... Oh yes, and the hospital bag. 


wave to mummy family portrait april 2018


So, what have I been up to and enjoying the past month?

  • I finished work! A fair few late nights and I think I got most done and if I didn't... Well. Someone else will now have to continue. 
  • I have enjoyed being back home and relaxing although it has been strange not having work to preoccupy me. 
  • Have started thinking and planning all things baby. Thankfully we've got most of the things we already need, just need to dust them off. 
  • Taking bits and bobs to the charity and recycling - there is much more de-cluttering of my own junk to do though. 
  • The return of sunny skies and ability to dry laundry outside. It's the simple pleasures in life that matter... 


girl holding up a baby outfit and laughing

family looking at baby outfit

family holding a baby outfit



Aili has loved:
  • Her soon-to-be-here sibling!
  • Singing to mummys tummy every evening. 
  • Her new scooter - she is obsessed with it. 
  • Her tablet - she is loving listening to songs on it and looking at hair tutorials. She is turning into a little teenager!
  • Tiffany Tiffany Tiffany Bliss. It is a YouTube channel where this lady makes custom-made My Little Ponies of various characters - such as turning a PinkiePie into Ariel the mermaid. To be honest, she is pretty good, but my god is Aili obsessed! 
  • Saying how Paw Patrol is for babies (but secretly still loving playing with the characters when the opportunity arises)
  • Bunnies, Peter Rabbit and Max&Ruby. She wants to have a bunny birthday!
  • Growth mindset. This is something they are teaching at her primary school so every time I've told her I don't know how to do something she tells me "Mummy, you must try hard! You must have growth mind-set". She has explained that "If you try and try, your brain will GROW! This is growth mindset".


family portrait



Hubby has enjoyed:
  • Getting together with his rugby mates for drinks. 
  • Meeting new clients. 
  • Planning the cinema visits for the next month and a half (Black Panther, Avengers, Star Wars, Jurassic Park and so on - there are so many great films coming out!)
  • Getting back into the gym and weightlifting. 


So there. That's our life this past month. Next time see you as a family of four!

How was your April?


You might also like: What happened in our lives in March 2018?



26 April 2018

I'm 37 weeks pregnant. Full-term. On maternity leave. And very excited!

First things first. 

Eek!

I really can't believe I am already 37 weeks pregnant. This pregnancy has just passed by ridiculously fast like I mentioned the last time I wrote about my pregnancy. 10 weeks ago. I was hoping to write more about the pregnancy as I went along but you know, full-time job, an older kid and the general hustle and bustle just got in the way.


mum posing with pregnancy belly and light box


Last Friday was my last day at work. It is weird being back home now, with nothing other than baby stuff to do. And don't get me wrong - I have PLENTY of baby stuff to do. Still need to sort out the cot, the pram, the car seat, the clothes, the hospital bag, nursery, visiting the maternity ward... You know, bits and bobs. Bits and bobs I tell myself not to get too stressed which might push out the baby out sooner rather than later. *shudder*

In that sense I am glad I am now on maternity leave, but on the other hand, it does also feel weird. I was completing a big project at work and didn't quite manage to finish it. Almost done, but not quite dusted, and it bothers me a little bit. But such is life. On Friday before I left we discussed keeping in touch scheme, KIT days and so on, and got a lovely little gift for my new baby. 


child looking at a pregnant mum

child hugging a pregnant mum


As for how the pregnancy has gone, I have been keeping remarkably well over the third trimester. Nothing to complain of. I haven't felt big at all, in fact, I am quite comfortable. Sure, touching my toes is a bit difficult and bending over to pick stuff off the floor is getting uncomfortable, but I am moving and shaking just fine, perhaps a little slower. No pains, no aches. Sleeping fairly well, with minimum nightly bathroom breaks.  I was actually thinking that I could very well have continued working much later, had I had my baby prep ducks in a row and known that I would be so well ahead of time. The only issue I've had have been swollen feet - especially in the heat.

The baby has been moving very very strongly - I quite often have had fairly painful movements and they have been very very visible from outside. It's been almost like in Alien. This one is a real wriggler. I have nearly yelped a few times with unsuspected kicks, and I am particularly tired of the long stretches where the little one seems to extend both legs and arms at the same time...


showing a pregnant belly


Aili, my nearly five year old princess, has been very very excited about the newcomer. Everyday she wants to give a cuddle to the baby. She creeps into our room in the morning to cuddle the baby (i.e. my tummy), gives it a kiss at each school drop-off, and wants to sing a lullaby song to it when I put her to bed. It is so unbearably sweet.

She has also been writing some letters to the baby, which are not quite so sweet, one saying "I know baby is bad" and has made a sign for her room door denying her baby sibling the entrance. So as far as welcoming her new sibling goes, we shall see. I am sure she will be very happy, although the excitement might wear off after night time wake-ups and baby crying. We shall see.


mum holding a light box with 37 weeks written on it


But yes, I am very very excited, and looking forward to both prepping for the baby now, and meeting our newcomer! Exciting times!


When did you start prepping for your babies?




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