family · fashion · parenting · review · travel

Bears At Butlins – Round Two! Part 1.

Hi All!

If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know that I’ve been with Adam for like, forever. Well maybe not forever, but it was 6 years in January and that’s like a quarter of my life so seems like ages! For our anniversary my mum suggested we went away and even gave us money for a trip away at Christmas but we didn’t book anything. Around mid January we started to entertain the idea of going away again just the two of us but we couldn’t agree on a place and honestly I didn’t really want to leave Eleanor for a couple of days. Sad I know.

Whilst scrolling through social media I saw an advert for the Sun Holidays and remembered one we went on many years ago to Cayton Bay and decided to see what destinations were on it. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Butlins Skegness was one of the holidays on offer and so I got the 10 code words from the internet and decided to get booked. We wanted to book for the middle of February just after Valentines Day and thankfully this date was available. I think with dining and housekeeping/towels included we paid just under £250 for the three of us in a silver two bedroom chalet and food which I thought was such great value.

For the trip I just wanted to be comfy so I popped my hair up into the mummiest of mum buns and popped on a boohoo chiffon shirt with floral embroidery. It has a slip underneath and I wore leggings and slip-ons for comfort.

We packed up the car and headed out on the Friday around 11. Travelling with toddlers isn’t always the easiest and I was honestly dreading the car journey. We decided to stock up on car snacks, my mother in law bought us a back of the seat organiser for Eleanor and we managed to sit her iPad on it with some pre-downloaded films on and she was pretty happy!

I sat in the back with Eleanor and was really comfy in our Qashqai +2. It was a fairly straight forward drive and we only stopped once at a service station to use the facilities and grab a bite to eat. We sat outside on picnic benches and introduced Eleanor to her first ever lunchable. She didn’t really get the hang of one piece of cheese/ham at a time and pretty much just bit into the full stack.

We arrived on site quite early and decided to check in and explore. We went through the drive through check in, found a parking space near our chalet and went for a look around. We headed towards the fairground which Eleanor really loved. Most of the rides are actually free and there’s also a playground.

Eleanor ran straight for the slide and was happily climbing up herself.

Next we went to find a ride that Eleanor could go on. She was slightly too small for most of the kids rides but we found a little train she could ride on with us and she loved it. Not sure if she enjoyed it more or if Adam did!

After checking out the Arcades we headed back to our room. We unpacked, pushed the two twin beds together and build a pillow fort for Eleanor then got ready for dinner.

For the first night I decided to go for something quick and comfortable as we weren’t allowed into our rooms till 4 and so we were a bit pushed for time. I kept my hair up and added a flicky pony I had previous bought from a small independent shop in Middlesbrough Town Centre. It’s one of the drawstring types and it super easy to put in.

For my outfit I wore my favourite stripy culottes from New Look Curve with a hook and eye top which was also New Look and ankle boots from Primark wide fit range. The whole outfit was bought on sale and probably cost around £15-20. Bargain!

Eleanor wore her new unicorn dress from H+M which was a steal at 2.99 with a pink fluffy cardigan she’s had quite a while.

We headed down to dinner which was quite busy as they only had one restaurant open. It was pretty standard food and honestly not as good as last time we went. Each night there was a fish meal, “dinner” style meal with a different meat, some form of pasta and a vegetarian option. We didn’t go hungry but most dinners were kind of pieced together rather than proper meals.

 

After dinner we headed to the skyline pavilion and of course Eleanor had to sit on every ride we could find. After a brief stint in the arcades we decided to find some seats, get some cans and watch the entertainment.

Adam was quite pleased to see that the evenings entertainment was wrestling. The company was NGWUK and they were pretty entertaining. Eleanor seemed to really enjoy herself and was shouting and pumping her fist in the air. I think she enjoyed the popcorn more though which was being sold by attendants going around with trays.

We headed back to the room tired after a long day and put Eleanor to bed who had fallen asleep in her pram on the walk back. With Eleanor safely tucked up in bed we chatted, planned the next day and watched a little tv. We ended up upgrading our wifi as the signal was so poor on the site and so we couldn’t contact anybody or even each other.

We made plans to watch some shows and go swimming the next day after breakfast and headed to sleep.

I’m going to break these posts up as they’re quite photo heavy and will finish this chapter here! Please keep an eye out for part two and let me know below if you’re a fan of Butlins, or if you prefer elsewhere!

Thanks for reading,

Hannah x

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baby · family · parenting · personal

A letter to my daughter for International Womens Day

Dear Eleanor.

On international women’s day I can’t help thinking about what kind of a woman you will be when you are older.

As any mother would, I have all these hopes for you. I hope you grow to be clever, courageous and kind. I hope you grow to be strong, smart and generous. I hope you grow to always love your family, to help your friends and to always find the good in the bad. I hope you laugh lots, I hope you know it’s safe to express yourself, I hope you follow your dreams and know it’s okay if you don’t always achieve them.

I want you to know I’ll always love you, never judge you and you always have my support. I’ll hold you up when you’re down, I’ll laugh with you when you’re happy and cry with you when you’re sad. I’ll be there to embarrass you when you bring your first love home – no matter what gender they are, all I’ll be there with a box of tissues should they break your heart.

I’ll always be your best friend and help you see the beauty in being a woman – if that’s what gender you feel you are.

You are incredible and one day you could change the world, and I’ll be there by your side.

I can’t wait to see the woman you will become, but for now I’m just enjoying my wonderful toddler who always makes my day and amazes me with her intelligence, her spirit and her loving nature.

Eleanor Bridie Lister you are my greatest piece of art and I love you dearly.

Happy International Women’s Day! 

baby · parenting · personal

Who’s baby? My Babiie! My Babiie MB200 Rose Gold/Blush Review.

Hi All!

It seems to me that every mum that I meet has a complete and utter obsession with prams. I’ve heard of mums going through 6-7-8 prams per child! For me I spent a long time choosing my perfect pram and I originally had a Venicci polka-dot travel system which I absolutely loved. As Eleanor got bigger and I started venturing out with her more without putting her into the car seat on wheels I realised how much effort and bulky a travel system is. I would never be able to drop it down on a bus if needed and we really struggled to get it into our car at the time and still have space for anything else. I decided to get a stroller and got a second hand Cosatto which I wasn’t crazy about and I quickly re-sold it. I then decided for Eleanors birthday to get a My Babiie MB51 in pink/grey chevron which both Eleanor and I completely loved.

Last year we were going on holiday and Eleanor was starting to get a little bit long for her MB51 and so I decided I’d go on holiday and then buy a new one when we returned, that way if anything happened to the pram whilst on holiday we would still be getting a new one. We were very lucky on holiday and our pram still came back in great condition and so we sold it on to make space for our new one!

I knew straight away I wanted another My Babiie. I had trust in the brand and Eleanor had always been cosy and comfy in hers. I also had got a ton of compliments about the pram from strangers and really loved the designs. I decided to go for the MB200 as it was a bit bigger and I wanted to go for a U shaped fold rather than an umbrella fold so it was easier to store at home. When choosing a design I never hesitated – I was definitely sold on the blush and rose gold. Blush and rose gold are two of my favourite colours and the pram that I chose is so stunning.

I did however have a bit of a mess around getting it. The hype for the pram was crazy and places were selling out thick and fast. Thankfully, I managed to get one from ASDA online and it was shipped quickly to my home address.

The delivery day arrived and I quickly unboxed it and slid it together. I was even more impressed with it in person and it certain looks more luxury than it did online.

I soon got to grips (literally) with the new handle and adjusted it to size and had a little push around my living room. It was smooth, easy to push and quite lightweight for its size.

  

Next I put it side by side with my old pram and looked at the differences. The MB200 has a wider and taller seat, more luxury fabrics and a much nicer finish. The wheels are higher quality and the bumper bar is one full piece not folding like the MB51.

I then looked at how I would store my new pram and was pleased to see it folded quite small and stood up itself. This now lives under the breakfast bar where my old fridge sat and is neatly tucked away.

I couldn’t wait to take it for a spin and we headed out that evening for a walk around Teesside Park whilst I pushed my new prized possession.

I’ve always loved having a fur on my pram and I quickly ordered a matching fur and personalised pom-pom from Big Mamas Baby Boom which I would highly recommend as the service was prompt and my fur is such great quality. I really love the pom-pom, which has survived all sorts of toddler messes and is still going strong!

 

I was so pleased with it once the fur arrived, but more importantly Eleanor has loved it since it arrived. She ran over and climbed straight into it the day it arrived and sat for quite a while watching a movie happily tucked up into it.

She has always managed to sleep in it and drops off quite easily in the padded seat. This makes life much easier when you’re out for the day as she can be quite ratty without a decent sleep. The hood fully extends so she can snooze in peace without having any sun/wind/people disturbing her. Thankfully there’s a little viewing window so I can still check on her and make sure she’s okay.

I love this pram. I get a ton of compliments and always see a lot of people looking over and talking about it. Apart from it being pretty, it’s also super practical. It’s comfy, easy and lovely to push, super simple to fold down and up and even has a carry handle. My only negative with it is I wish it had a toddler sized cosy-toes that went with it as the apron velcro isn’t the longest and can often be a pain to get on – but that’s only a tiny thing. Oh and a matching bag would be a dream!

Sadly this will probably be Eleanors last pram, and what a pram it is. If I was to have another baby I would most definitely have another My Babiie and really like the look of the travel systems. They’re really affordable and for the price are really great quality.

Let me know below if you love my pram or have any thoughts on My Babiie!

Thanks for reading,

Hannah xx

baby · fashion · parenting · personal · plus size

Black Cat Birthday On A Budget!

Hi All!

When I got my c-section date to have Eleanor, I wasn’t very pleased. They had scheduled it for Tuesday 13th, which meant that growing up some of her birthdays would fall on Friday 13th and being of Irish heritage, I can be quite superstitious. In the end though, I didn’t really care what the date was as long as she came healthy.

As her second birthday approached, It was evident that this would fall on a Friday the 13th. Rather than dreading this day, I decided to embrace this by throwing Eleanor a black cat party!

When I sat down to plan the party I decided that because she had a christening/birthday the previous year that I would throw her a proper party this year and invite her friends along. I was lucky enough to have a great venue available and soon made plans on how I was going to make her day special.

Her party was going to be held in St Lukes Church, which is the church I attend and where I hold our baby music class Wriggle & Rhyme. I thought about how I could decorate the space and soon found out that “Black Cats” isn’t a massively popular theme and I struggled to find anything that would actually go.

Thankfully, I’m quite crafty and set about making my own decorations. I made cat face shaped bunting, cat face paper fans, decorated black plates and cups with cat faces and other bits I went for black/white/gold and polka dots.

I managed to buy polka dot straws, white/black/gold tassel bunting and polka dot table covers from eBay and found some gold Happy Birthday balloons from New Look. I even got black, white and gold balloons for the floor for the kids to play with from card factory but unfortunately these were the WORST balloons ever and most of them popped the night before as we were setting up the space!

My last little touch was some cat faced pumpkins I found in ALDI! These sat at each end of the table (and we got to re-use them for Halloween!)

For the food we catered ourselves and did most the night before and some fresh on the morning. We did four types of sandwiches, sausage/cheese rolls, chicken nuggets, popcorn chicken and some other party style food which we purchased from Iceland. We saved quite a lot of money doing this and we got quite a lot of compliments on the food.

For Eleanor’s cake I decided to make it myself. I’m quite a good cake baker and knew I wanted to keep it simple. I made her a devils food cake (ironic that we were in the church..) and then vanilla cupcakes.

I made this cake topper from glittered paper by cutting out two identical cat faces, then using a craft scalpel to cut out the letters and then glutted the two layers together and attached it to cocktail sticks.

I also made different shaped cat toppers for the cupcakes. I used a cookie cutter as my stencil and then cut them out by hand. I finished them with a cocktail stick so they would sit neatly into the cupcakes.

The cakes then sat around the main cake on a separate table which I sprinkled with handmade confetti. The confetti was made from the leftover scraps of glitter paper which I cut out with a heart hole punch. 

Eleanor loved her cake. Here she is blowing out the candles with daddy!

 

We went with a “cat dress optional” theme and some people did, some didn’t. We attempted to draw little whiskers on Eleanors face but they were mostly off by the end of the day. She wore a sparkly black velvet dress, tights and a fluffy cropped cardigan.

I of course dressed the part and decided to wear the cat whiskers that Eleanor refused to.

For my outfit I went with a lace top over a strappy vest tucked into a fluffy tulle skirt. I finished the look with some gold cat ears that I made from leftover glitter paper.

For the entertainment my mum kindly booked a bouncy castle which we set up in an adjoining room which was great as it meant we could contain the kids in one area whilst we set up and unwrapped the food. The bouncy castle also had a slide which the kids seemed to love. I set up a spotify playlist and linked it to a docking station I have and let the kids listen whilst they bounced. We then went back into the hall and we had set up lights and projected “Happy Birthday” onto the wall.

For games we had a few round of pass the parcel. I wrapped up some mini plushy toys and some sticker books with sweets in between each layer and made sure every kid won something. We then finished with a disco and cake!

Considering we did it on a budget we had a fantastic day and we got loads of compliments on the decor, the cakes and the food. We were even asked by some kids if they could come next year which was a huge compliment. The biggest reward was seeing Eleanor really enjoy herself – she loved it!

If you’re willing to do things yourself and put the work in you can achieve a lot on a small budget. If you’d rather buy things and hire people in, that’s also great but I didn’t want to throw money away at a party she probably won’t remember when she’s older!

Now I’ve got to start planning for next year, I wonder what weird and wonderful party that will be! Or maybe I’ll do a quiet family meal and give myself a little break.

Who knows.

Thanks for reading!

Hannah xx

 

Community · parenting · personal

Making friends as mummy.

Hi all.

I’m not sure if it’s the same for everybody, but when I found out I was pregnant I had a lot of expectations and scenarios playing in my head which I thought would happen. I imagined being inundated with people wanting to spend time with me and the baby, I imagined going for coffees with groups of “yummy mummy’s” and our wee ones and I imagined weekly play-dates.

Honestly? It hasn’t quite worked out as I expected.

Starting from announcing my pregnancy, it almost felt like my friends dropped like flies. I stopped getting invited out to places, people stopped coming round and I started to feel so lonely. I ended up with SPD so was pretty trapped in the house and isolated.

In reality, it’s nobodies fault. People don’t want to feel like they’re imposing and as life moves on, people tend to drift apart.

For the first few months of Eleanors life I was too scared to really mix with other mums and tended to avoid playgroups as when I had tried, everybody seemed to know each other and I felt like a complete outsider. I was determined to make friends, but needed to do it on my terms.

Last year I started a crafts club within the church I now attend and I met a lovely lady named Paula who has fast become a great friend of mine. I had wanted to set up my own baby group as a way to get Eleanor to mix with other kids whilst doing something I love (music, dancing and crafts) and when I spoke to Paula she was also wanting to set up a similar group and so we put our heads together and Wriggle & Rhyme was born. We’ve been going for a few months now and seem to be going from strength to strength. I think my favourite part of it is helping people who are first timers feel comfortable enough to join in with our conversation and build friendships. This is one way I’ve found friends, but there are many other ways you can find new friends too, such as –

  • Join an online group. I was added into the “Mama Mates” group and honestly haven’t looked back. These women have become my village and I know I can always get help. I started somebody just reading posts but soon became engaging online and adding people. I then answered a post asking for volunteers and found myself invited to different events. When I put myself out there and actually accepted an invite, I found myself connecting with a wonderful, down to earth bunch of women whom I never thought I would of met. Our friendships then grew from me actually putting myself out there and suggesting meet ups and since then there’s been parties, ice cream dates, hang outs and just companionship. I know that at any moment I can pop into my group chat and one of my pals will be there to help me and that’s such an amazing thing.
  • Try a new hobby. I’ve made friends from going to Aqua Zumba/swimming and after a while of seeing the same faces we have just naturally started chatting. I’m also starting a new adults crafts club to bring people together.
  • Host/go to a playdate. I’ve hosted a playdate where I invited people I’ve met on parenting groups to my home and we’ve had a great time despite never meeting before. I just looked to invite children of a similar age to my little girl and Eleanor has always had a great time.
  • Don’t be afraid to say hi. You never know where a simple hello will take you.
  • Let your children make the introductions. If your children are playing together, try to strike up a conversation. I find it easy to ask about their child or to introduce my child to theirs.
  • Put yourself out there. I know it’s scary, I know it’s nerve racking but you don’t know where a simple hello will lead! A silly comment such as “I fancy a dinner” might lead to arranging a meet up and if you’re as lucky as me, you could end up finding a great group of friends from it.

Making friends is hard. There’s no real “etiquette” and as a whole, us British are painfully awkward. However if this is how you feel, then you’re probably not the only one who feels like this! I always make a real effort with new people who come to my groups to help them feel comfortable and a lot of them say “I don’t go to many groups because I’m scared and I feel like my child misses out” so generally, most people are just as scared as you are. Sit next to a stranger, have a tea together and see where the conversation takes you.

My last year has been enhanced by the wonderful women I’ve met both as friends and through my baby group who have grown to also be good friends. I bit the bullet and put myself out there despite being terrified and for me it has payed off massively.

I’m always looking for more friends so if you’re in the Teesside area and want to come to our events – get in touch!

Hannah xx

baby · parenting · personal · plus size

Whats the t?

Hi all!

Once again, life has gotten in the way and has stopped me from blogging as much as I would like to.

The culprit this time? My laptop decided to stop working – but only the t key! This made typing incredibly awkward as I had to copy and paste every single time I wanted to use the t key. Very annoying.

Now I finally have a new laptop after there was an accident which ended up in the screen getting completely smashed – making it completely useless. Finally I can get back to blogging and hopefully keep up with it. I do love writing, but I think I second guess myself quite a lot and really it’s gone on the back burner since I’ve had a child. I think I get a sense of guilt if I’m just sitting behind a laptop and not really engaging with my child, but there’s ways I guess I can do both as she’s a very independent baby who is just happy to play!

Well, I keep saying baby but she’s almost 2 – how did that happen?!

I figured with this post I’d give you a little insight into where I am with my life at the moment. I’m in the weight loss management program and I’ve lost around a stone and a half so far, and 3 in total since last year. Currently going through all the steps to eventually have weight loss surgery which isn’t something I’ve decided on lightly. I hope that people understand I have no way been pressured into WLS by anybody and I don’t dislike the way that I look at all. I’m happy and confident as a plus sized woman and will genuinely sad to be smaller – however I am doing this for my health and so that in the future I can have another child. I certainly couldn’t do another pregnancy like the last one and I really want another child in a few years. I also want some quality of life. I have sleep apnea and honestly I’m just so sick of being tired – which is another reason I’ve stopped blogging as much.

This summer I’ve been super busy helping out at lunch club at church. Lunch club is a thing my church runs where we invite the local kids into the church for a hot meal over the holidays to take some of the extra financial burden off families in the area. It’s also a great way to see all the kids and to do things like crafts with them and we’ve even had great fun with mini discos.

I also arranged and ran a fundraising summer fayre within the church which raised £500 for our youth services. We were all so happy with this and we plan to raise another around Christmas.

Finally, I’ve been working with AWAYOUT to do crafts and outreach with the girls in the blossom project which I love. I finished my sponsored swim for them – all 1416 laps of the pool swam and really enjoyed my time doing it.

Another big difference in my life is that for the past few months I’ve made a really amazing group of friends and we have been hanging out and having play dates as well as baby free nights. It’s so nice to be around other people who “get” you and who are on your wavelength. I almost feel like they’ve saved me a little bit and their support is really just so wonderful. I was slipping into pretty bad depression again but honestly this group of women have helped me so much – I don’t know where I’d be without them. So a massive thank you and shout-out to Charlotte, Nikki, Sam, Steph & all our beautiful squad babies, I truly love you all.

IMG_5368

Now i’ve been able to upload all my pics to my new laptop I’ve got a few local reviews and pieces to post, and I’m on holiday at the end of this month so watch out for that! We’re off to (hopefully) sunny Ibiza with a toddler – wish us luck!

Just wanted to say a huge thank you to those who stick with me, comment on my posts, ask how I am on IG etc. It means a lot to know that people care. I know my posts are more and more sporadic but I really will make an effort to keep people update!

Thanks for reading,

Hannah x

 

baby · Community · fashion · parenting · plus size

Why I Want To Lose Weight.

 Hi all.

This post has been a difficult one for me to write for a number of reasons. First and foremost I don’t want to upset/offend or trigger anybody with weight loss chat. Secondly, I am losing weight because I personally need to and believe that what everybody else does with their bodies is their business. Thirdly, I don’t want anybody to think that I’m now against fat bodies. I will never be against fat bodies. If I could be well and still the size I am – I would be happy with that. Unfortunately, I’m not healthy and this means I need to lose weight.

When I was pregnant with Eleanor, I was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea and it was tracked that I stop breathing around 100 times an hour when I’m asleep which is super scary. It means that I never ever feel well rested and I drop off asleep through the day for a few minutes which isn’t great. It’s quite embarrassing when I drop off and I hate it. The only way to tackle it is to use a c-pap machine which I just can’t get the hang of or lose weight…so I’m choosing the latter.

I’ve battled with my weight for quite a long time now. I’ve gone through every stage of hating my body to the point of hiding away and self harming, to parading my beautiful body along a stage at a plus size beauty pageant – whilst wearing a bikini! I’m at a happy place with my body and how I look, but not with how it functions and if I’m going to have a better quality of life then I really need to change.

For so long I’ve championed plus sized bodies and the amazing things they can do that defy the bullshit that doctors try to push on you. I’ve seen so many beautiful plus sized mothers bring their babies into the world when they were told they’d never be able to even conceive as a plus sized woman – I myself was one of these women. I was told at every step how high risk I was and truly bullied by the NHS. When Eleanor came there wasn’t a single thing about her that wasn’t perfect, and she’s growing to be an intelligent, bright and confident little girl; something they told me I wouldn’t be able to “cope with” and would have to have extra help with. I’ve had none and need none.

I’ve seen plus sized bodies climbing mountains and doing yoga, running marathons and being “healthier” than their slimmer counterparts.

Unfortunately for me – that not the case. My body is different from others because I have hypermobile joints which means they are unstable and move too much and even dislocate. This causes me extreme pain and so anything I can do to take pressure off them and improve my quality of life – I want to be able to go on long walks with my family and not worry if there’s somewhere to sit on the way around. I’m sick of staying in the house whilst Adam takes Eleanor out alone because I’m sore or because I need some rest as I feel isolated away from them and almost feel at times that they have a much better bond together.

The big thing I need to lose weight for is Sleep Apnea which is currently giving me no quality of life. I stop breathing in my sleep which means I never feel well rested and often fall asleep during the daytime – mostly when doing quiet tasks such as writing blog posts. I find it so hard to get the focus to write and finish a blog post, it takes me days/weeks to write just a snippet without nodding off which is why I’ve not been blogging as much.

With sleep apnea you get something called a CPAP (continuous positive airway machine) to wear at night which is a face mask which pumps out air into your nose and throat. Unfortunately, I find it hard to breathe through my nose and so I can’t use the machine without finding it very hard to breathe. It also triggered the PTSD which I was left with after my c-section that didn’t go to plan.. I’m hoping with weight loss that this gradually gets better.

It’s not just health why I want to lose weight. I’m sick of paying the “plus size tax” on clothes. I want to be able to go to shops like Primark and buy a pair of shorts for £3, not £30. I want to be able to see in my hand what I’m buying and not wonder what the sizing is going to be like on my online order. I want to have choices like everybody else and not have to stick to the same 2-3 shops I always do.

I’m going on holiday in September and in some ways I’m dreading it. I’m hoping that I fit in the seat okay and don’t need loads of extenders! I’m hoping I can fit down the water slides and have the energy to run around after Eleanor and dance with her at the kids disco.

Eleanor is my number one priority. I don’t want her to get bullied in school cause I’m the “fat mam” at the school gates out of breath and I don’t want her to be ashamed of me. I want Eleanor to grow up in a world that accepts people for who they are and doesn’t judge people for their appearance and I want her to grow up knowing that she is beautiful and perfect – but I also want her to be able to live her life without any complications like mine and I don’t want her to feel as unhappy I do at times. This world is a cruel place and people are really nasty (kids in particular who have been brought up to be fatphobic).

I really don’t want to cause any upset or offence to the plus size community because I fully intend to still be a member of the plus size community and body positivity for all – I just need to do this for my own health so that my life is actually worth living again and so that I can enjoy my family and be around to watch them grow.

Hannah x