29.6.12

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video
I've said before that Phiney is a wiggle bum. Always has been, even when she was in my belly. Right now her favourite place is on the floor - it allows her the freedom to roll from here to there and yesterday to debut her new move. We like to call it The Catapillar. She did this for about 2 minutes, but I figured maybe only Mama and Papa could be fully captivated by the full length video.

The girl certainly likes to move and if she had her way she'd be crawling already. Her determination and impatience pretty much guarantee it won't be long before she figures it out...

28.6.12

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Josephine's first real meal this lunchtime - left overs from our dinner last night (minus the pork) with mashed new potatoes then her first slice of apple for pudding. She loved it all, as you can tell. But boy oh boy this baby led weaning malarky is a messy business. The high chair is on order. Time for some more civil eating at the table me thinks.

Apart from lots of fun with food, is been a quiet old week round these parts, with matching Mama and daughter tooth ache. Phiney's tooth is coming through more everyday and is quite the weapon when she shoves your fingers into her mouth to chew on (ouch!), while mine resulted in a trip to the dentist and the discovery of an infection in one of my wisdom teeth.

Still, the antibiotics have kicked in and Josephine is coping admirably with the pain - although the total disregard for anything resembling a daytime nap is making any kind of housework or blogging nye on impossible. I'm following Em's lead on the housework front though - nothing is nicer for those with toothache than cuddling on the sofa and I'm more than happy to choose snuggles over dusting.

So, the news I'm sure you've all been waiting for, the winners of our giveaways. Drumroll please...

The winner of the Happy Circus giveaway is Lou from Little Green Shed
The winner of the Papier Mache magazine is Jude from Little Sleep

Congratulations to the both of you! If you can let me know you addresses I'll get the magazine out asap Jude and start knitting up your order Lou. And also another thank you to Lindsey from Lazer Baby Vintage for her very generous discount...I'm sure there's been a few people taking advantage of that one!  

Thank you to everyone for entering...I have some more seriously seriously good giveaways coming up over the next couple of weeks so stay tuned for those x

photos taken on my iPhone

23.6.12

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1. One of the veggie plot in our garden currently home to sweetcorn, courgettes, runner beans and peas.
2. The softest reusable nappies, folded and ready to be wrapped round a tiny bottom.
3. Just some of the vintage clothes in Josephine's wardrobe, including the most awesome stripey dungarees from here.
4. Thrifted wooden toys in the nursery.

Ben and I have always worked hard to live as green a life as possible; we recycle almost everything, make our own compost, grow our own food, rarely use the car and support our local shops and food producers to help reduce our carbon footprint.

When we found out we were pregnant last year, all these things took on a greater importance and meaning. Now we had a real connection to the next generation, the generation that would suffer the consequences of our mis-use of the planet more than any other. Now we were doing our bit to save the planet for our child, our baby. We knew straight away that we wanted to step it up a gear; not only to further reduce our carbon footprint but to set a strong and good example to our children. To teach them the importance of thinking about what they're doing to the planet and the importance of how their actions will affect other people, animals and environments around the world, both now and in the future.

We quickly decided that we wanted to try reusable nappies and that we wanted to avoid a nursery full of mass-produced plastic toys, opting instead for ethically produced, handmade or homemade ones. We also wanted to continue our love for everything secondhand, choosing to buy clothes, books and toys at charity shops when we could.

I'm really pleased, and proud, to say that we've achieved all those things. We use reusable nappies, on the whole, and think they're brilliant; the only new and plastic toys Josephine has have been gifts, although most of our family and friends have really taken on board our wishes and scour charity shops for lovely little secondhand treats. And with the exception of a few babygros here and the odd sale item there (because sometimes those bargains are just too good to resist) the majority of Phiney's wardrobe is vintage and secondhand. It's not always easy (as if I didn't have enough washing to do without a few poopy nappies chucked in), but we truly believe it's worth it.

So when I find a new vintage baby store stocked with delights, you can imagine how excited I get. The prospect of finding a truly unique piece for Josephine to wear, as opposed to looking like every other kid at Baby Cafe, and the comparatively great prices of secondhand to new is too good to pass up.

The lovely Emily, from new online baby and toddler boutique Little Vintage, contacted me recently asking if Josephine would like to try out a couple of pieces from her very tempting collection, and who was I to say no. Quick as a flash those superb stripey dungarees up there and an oh so cute knitted cardigan were hanging in Phiney's wardrobe waiting for her to grow into. Emily also sent the most fantastic romper covered in illustrated animals but, alas, it was too small. I've sent it back to her and it'll be back up in the shop soon. So if you have a baby girl, around three months old, please please go buy it. It really is the coolest.

Below are just some of the great pieces Emily is selling right now. They're good, right? The service Emily offers is second to none, with items quick to arrive and wrapped so sweetly, and she's always updating the shop with items for every age group, from newborn to age six and above. So go spoil that beautiful kiddo of yours and pick out something lovely. Not only will you be supporting this awesome new business, but you'll also be doing your bit towards being greener. That's one less mass-produced item in your home; a few miles spared on your carbon footprint. Oh, and a whole lot of brilliance in your little one's wardrobe.

ps. It's the last chance to enter the giveaways and claim your discount before they close tomorrow so head here for more details. Winners will be announced early next week.

18.6.12

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Josephine's Monthly Portrait. Taken in her nursery on the 18th of every month.

5 months old and what a month it's been. One of firsts a-plenty. As well as shaking her booty in her bouncer and sampling her first bites of food (which I have to admit to being rubbish about remembering to do and since this post, the poor child's hardly tried anything new - thanks for making me feel better about that Claire!), she's almost succeeded in getting her toes in her mouth and yesterday the top edge of her first tooth broke through her bottom gum. A TOOTH!

It's pretty tricky to get a glimpse of (as whenever you pull her bottom lip down she sticks her tongue out - it's a hilarious game, don't you know), but if you run your finger along the gum you can feel it's spiky edges. That'll be the cause of the red, spotty cheeks (face and bottom), stinky wee and grizzly noises. A tooth, I can't believe it. Time is flying...a little too quickly if you ask me.

It's also been a month of new noises, as Phiney's speech develops. Her favourite sound? Squawking like a bird, leading to the ever-increasing use of nicknames like Birdie and Little Bird. The nickname list is certainly a long one. I'll have to post it sometime.

As well as her bird-like noises, she's got a bird-like flapping of her arms nailed too. And that's not the only moving she's been doing. She mostly likes to sit up now, which she can do for a few minutes now before slowly falling sideways on to the pile of safety cushions, and if she's on your lap chances are she wants to stand or jump. My thighs are actually bruised by her bony little feet. Both Ben and I were walking by nine and a half months and I wouldn't be surprised if this little one followed our lead.

We love you so much Birdie, you and your dribbly ways. Your happiness and utter joy at everything new you experience brightens our lives, and it's impossible not to smile when you're around. There isn't a prouder Mama and Papa in the world.

Yesterday was Father's Day, and this beautiful creation was Josephine's present to her Papa. Ben, you are truly the most awesome Daddy. My heart bursts with happiness when I see you with Josephine; you light up each others lives. She adores you, and so do I. You're our world. We love you.

ps. there's still time to enter the giveaways and claim your discounts!

14.6.12

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A black hooded raincoat that keeps me dry and has a hood that actually stays up, ideal when pushing a pram leaves no room for umbrellas. I've come to accept a frizzy fringe.

Jogging bottoms in a dark colour that dry quickly, have a drawstring waistband that leaves room for a still slightly rounded tummy and allow me to crawl around on the floor and wipe bogeys and dribble on my legs without leaving a stain. That's Josephine's bogeys, just to be clear.

Battered old Converse. Sturdy, grippy and already filthy so who cares about the brown mark that muddy puddle I just stood in has left.

Raincoat, jogging bottoms and Converse?  My current uniform. It's official, I'm a Mama.


Oh, and don't forget the giveaways!

12.6.12

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Having Ben home for a week was complete bliss. All three of us enjoyed every second of fun, games and lounging about with each other. Sure, the constant downpour of rain and the freezing temperatures (one day it was the same as it had been on Christmas Day apparently) put a stop to the picnics, gardening and walks along the canal we'd planned, but the snuggles on the sofa and lazing in bed more than made up for it.

Plus it was a week of firsts for Phiney. Knowing what a wiggle bum this little one is, we knew she'd love her bouncer as soon as her legs were long enough to touch the floor. And, boy, did she. To begin with she looked a little unsure, but as soon as the music started the girl began to dance and show us her moves. It was brilliant and she's been bouncing in it every day since. Only moving and bouncing when music is played. When Papa's around it's old skool hip hop. When Mama's in charge it's Rhianna and Whitney Houston. If you didn't know before, Ben is way way cooler than me. But in my books, you can't beat a bit of cheese when it comes to shaking your booty and having a dance.
Next up was some food. Food? This girl is growing so fast I can't believe we're already here. She's five months next week. Insane. Anyway, we always thought we'd like to try baby led weaning and over the last few weeks it has become more apparent with every mouthful we ate, that Josephine was getting very interested in food.

There hasn't been any meals yet, and we don't plan on starting those for a good few weeks, but there's been plenty of experimenting. Baby led weaning is all about our little ones learning about food. The tastes, the textures and smells. It's about giving them some food and leaving them to explore. Because we're not particularly organised we haven't bought Phiney a highchair yet, but her borrowed Bumbo complete with tray served us perfectly well.

Day one: A tree of soft broccoli, some skinless cucumber, a piece of avocado and a chunk of strawberry. The cucumber was apparently too boring for words and after a quick sniff was returned to the tray. The broccoli's strange texture occupied her for a while and she was licking it like a lolly pop with a quizzical look on her face. The avocado and strawberry? Unsurprisingly those got munched. Not entirely, but she certainly had a nibble.

Day two: Ben decided to try more interesting mixtures of flavours. On the menu (all homemade of course - Ben's been so excited about getting to this stage and making her first meals) was Tzatziki, houmous, a broad bean, pea and mint paste and a tomato (skinless and seedless), basil and onion concoction. We dolloped some on her tray and she went nuts. Scooping and licking the food off her tray like a cat, and "mmm"-ing all the way. She loved every. single. mouthful. What a joy to behold. But then, with us as her parents, the girl had to love her food. Ben and I revelled in this beautiful sight. Our first lunch together, snacking on the same pulses but with a couple of pitta breads thrown in for those of us with teeth. Since then there's been some yogurt and sweet potato mash too, all gobbled up with delight.
Yesterday Ben went back to work and his girls missed him so. We're not whole without him here. But when he walked through the front door last night, Phiney's face lit up and the biggest smile flew across her face. Papa was back, and our house became a home again.
  
ps. don't forget to enter the giveaways and claim your discounts. More info here.

8.6.12

*GIVEAWAYS*

This is my 250th post and I can't believe it. So much in our lives has changed since I started writing for this little space and it's so lovely to have a diary of the amazing adventures Ben and I have been on over the last two years. Almost two years exactly, in fact. I just realised that next week it's the second anniversary of On The First Day Of Marriage too. Happy Birthday to you blog, old friend!

More than anything, I'm so grateful for the beautiful friends I've made through this awesome community. Across the seas I've found people to rely on for great advice and plenty of laughs, as well as the chance to catch a glimpse into the lives of some very lovely people.

So to say thank you to all my lovely readers, new and old, I've got a couple of little giveaways and awesome discount codes for you to enjoy.

First, a brilliant discount offer from Lazer Baby Vintage. I found this little store thanks to this lady and her tip to purchase Josephine that simply amazing blue and white striped romper up there (which obviously I did!) along with some cute little bloomers and a floral denim dress and beautiful white embroidered dress for Phiney to grow in to. Owner Lindsey has stocked the shop to the rafters recently and there are some really great pieces on offer. I'm talking coolness like this, this, these and most definitely these. And as a special treat to all you lovely people, Lindsey's offering a very generous 20% discount for the next two weeks. Just enter the code FIRSTDAY when you get to the checkout to claim yours. You won't be disappointed!

Next up is a chance to win a copy of the very cool Papier Mache magazine. Through a chain of rather uninteresting events I ended up with two copies of the latest issue and so I thought I'd pass the spare on to a worthy winner. Packed with pretty pictures, lovely stories and plenty of wish lists that will send you into a shopping frenzy, it's a great read. If you'd like to be in with a chance to to win just become a follower of the blog and leave a comment below.

Finally, I couldn't miss the opportunity to offer some Happy Circus goodness to you all. And this time it's a double whammy. Firstly we're giving you the chance to win a piece of clothing from the shop, in the size and colour of your wish. Choose from this, this, this, these and these. All amazing pieces for any baby's wardrobe, believe me. Phiney has one of each (if not more) and rocks them all. You can see Josephine wearing her brown version of the dungarees here and her patterned cardigan here.

All you need to do is become a follower of the blog then leave a comment (separate to the one for the Papier Mache giveaway if you're entering both) letting me know which item you'd like and in what colour and size.

We're also offering a very lovely 20% discount off all Happy Circus items for the next two weeks. Again, just enter the code FIRSTDAY at the checkout.

Both competitions close on Sunday 24th June and the winners will be announced the following day. The discount offers also end on Sunday 24th June at 12pm. The offers and giveaways are open to all readers.

Once again, thank you so much for all your support over the last two years. We can't wait to share the journey we'll be on over the next two.

Much love,
Ben, Nell and Josephine xx

5.6.12

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Despite a last minute re-location to our front room, our Jubilee picnic (which was originally meant to take place in the park along with thousands of others but was eventually rained off) was a huge hit. My Mum did a seriously stellar job with the homemade treats including sausage rolls, potato salad, cheese and bacon twists, impressive cupcakes, iced orange and ginger biscuits, scones and clotted cream and, of course, Coronation Chicken.

While we're not particularly bothered about the royals, it was most definitely worth celebrating the jubilee if just for the food. I'm seriously full up now, but the fridge is packed with leftovers that are calling me.

Josephine enjoyed the festivities, especially her homemade crown courtesy of her cousins and Auntie Chloe. She even got in on some flag waving action. Until she tried to eat it, at least.
 
It's crazy to think that when we were celebrating another royal event last year Josephine was just a tiny speck in my belly; we didn't even know she was there. And this year she was sat with us, laughing away and filling our lives with joy. What a difference a year makes.

Oh, and happy Diamond Queenie.

ps. tune in on Friday for some lovely treats for you, my lovely readers. It'll be my 250th post and I have a couple of giveaways and awesome offers lined up for you all xx

3.6.12

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As parents, we're learning all the time. There are the things we learn day to day - a handy trick to settle a cranky baby, a funny sound that will make her laugh every time, an object that will keep her occupied for ages - and there are the things that we learn over weeks and months.

Amidst our recent illnesses, and all the chaos that can bring, Ben and I have learnt how important it's going to be to simplify our lives. To clear some of the clutter we've gathered over the years and to plan our meals to avoid after-work stops in the busy supermarket and a spiralling food budget; to not pressure ourselves into pleasing everyone all the time or stretching our time too thinly.

We love living in a busy city. The hustle and bustle of the centre and the constant rumble from the main road are things we find quite comforting. Don't get me wrong, Bath isn't exactly the hectic hubbub of some sprawling urban areas, and since we moved from the centre to a quieter corner of the city complete with village atmosphere and community spirit, we are enjoying a slower, more family-friendly pace of life. But being able to walk 20 minutes into town and having the best shopping and restaurants on your doorstep is something that, for the foreseeable future at least, we cherish.

However, within the sprawling twists and turns of houses, roads, shops, bars and eateries, we want our home to be a sanctuary. Where things are easier. More pure, if that's the right word. Simple.

Yesterday was the start of a nine day holiday from work for Ben, and all three of us are very excited about it (Josephine was certainly thrashing her arms and smiling away when she was informed she'd have Mama and Papa to play with all week). But amongst street parties and jubilee celebrations, family BBQs and some lazy time lounging around enjoying each others company, there will be sorting and no doubt numerous trips to the charity shop or tip.

A couple of weeks ago I had a serious wardrobe clear out, with a secondary sort through earlier this week. When I have five minutes to get ready in the morning, searching through piles of never-worn clothes and accessories just doesn't appeal and I found myself wearing the same few items day in, day out. My new-look, streamlined drawers and rails make life so much easier and I'm wearing things I'd forgotten I even owned. Next up are the kitchen cupboards, garden store room, bookshelves and my ridiculous stash of fabrics and ribbons.

We're also going to undertake a food overhaul. From planning our meals for the week to cutting out the crap from our diets, it's time to save some money, experiment with new flavours (because we all get stuck in the rotation of the same eight or so meals, right?) and get healthier. Shed a few pounds and cleanse our bodies of all the rubbish a winter diet can bring.

I'm looking forward to it all. I think that a clean house (and I mean that in the clutter sense, not necessarily in the polished and hoovered sense!) will mean a cleaner and clearer mind, which will make room for other, more important things. Like quality family time and the exciting development of knitted-related opportunities.

I'll keep you informed of how it's going, but if you have any advice or tips to making life a little more simple, do tell.

Oh, and did you notice I've even simplified the blog and got myself a new header? Just the start of things to come...

Same pose as the last post, another awesome outfit. This one's from here. During these last few rainy days the three of us have been enjoying plenty of time playing on her mat, making eachother laugh. She picked up her little fabric letter block and showed us the J completely on her own. What a fluke.

1.6.12

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Our baby girl. Carefree in her tropical fish romper. Making our hearts swell with every smile and coo and every grasp of our fingers.

Today Josephine and I have had a lazy day, with cuddles and kisses; warm milk and naps, and a trip into the village where she fell peacefully asleep in her pram. Sleeping soundly in the knowledge that I was there and that she was safe. Like all children should.

One week ago in Houla, Syria, almost 50 babies, toddlers and children were awoken from their slumber by men who had burst into their homes with knives and guns. Awoken from their dreams, crying for their parents. Until their cries were silenced, along with nearly 60 other men and women. Today, on June 1st, bloggers have united to bring awareness to this horrendous crime and to protest against such an atrocity.

I urge you to read this article and sign this petition to voice your anger too; to blog, tweet (#tippingpoint) or Facebook about it. For something like this should not be able to occur in our world, in our times, without consequence. Without mothers, women, mankind standing up and declaring that this has to stop.

You can read more of the facts, the politics and what is known about the massacre here and on June 10th you can join the protest in London. No matter how small, please do something to raise awareness if you can.

And tonight squeeze your babies extra tight, hold them extra close, and think of the mothers, fathers and families in Syria who are unable to do so anymore.