11 Months: Time for Tea

Child's Play

And just like that, my baby has turned into a little play-mate! She has started to understand imaginative role-play and it is so much fun!

For Christmas we gave her a beautiful little play kitchen, but didn’t buy any bits and pieces for it, so I stocked it with her bowls, cups, spoons and an empty porridge box.

My parents then gave her a little teapot and cups for Christmas and the play began!

Violetta, after being led by her auntie, quickly got the hang of the teapot and the teacups; pouring everyone cups of her imaginary tea and saying ‘cheers’ with chinking cups to anyone who would stop for a drink!

This has led to a realisation that she also has a new level of understanding instructions, as we now go into my kitchen and I ask her for a cup of tea. She promptly crawls off to her kitchen, sources the tea pot and (most times – although sometimes we’ve imagined them) the teacups, and brings them over to pour me tea!

Following this, we have started ‘making’ porridge, cups of water (from her little sink) and all sorts of other food and drinks. She even chews her imaginary food after putting it in her mouth.

I think it’s time for the real playing to begin and I am so excited.

I’ll be popping some play ideas up here on a weekly bases so feel free to tune in to see what we’ve been up to and what you can try with your littles.

Love Victoria and Violetta x

A Job Role to Fill!

Lifestyle, Parenting

There’s a gap in the careers market that I think really needs to be filled.

I need a life PA.

And I bet I’m not the only one (was going to say Mum, but then I realised I needed this before I became a Mum!).

Life these days is just so busy, it’s almost impossible to keep on top of everything.

Everyone kindly sends you email reminders when policies are expiring, invoices when payments need to be made and calendar notifications for important dates (if you remembered to put them on your calendar in the first place), but someone like me could really do with this all being consolidated.

My life PA would be sent all my important house admin to keep on top of, make sure I had the best rates for energy/insurance/etc. They’d make sure I always had enough stamps to send important mail. They’d give me enough notice to actually purchase and wrap birthday presents and get them in the post in time, instead of being a last minute thing when that’s really not my style – I much prefer the personal touch but I can never seem to get organised enough! They’d make sure we see a dentist and an optician whenever we’re supposed to (twice a year?!) and they’d consolidate important information about term dates, classes, fees due etc for the kids activities.

Oh, and I don’t have a bottomless pot of money (or much of a pot at all for that matter!) so this would all need to be done on a shoestring budget.

I feel like there’s someone out there who would be SO suited to doing this for busy Mums, for a sensible price, and who with enough people to do it for could actually manage to make a good living doing it!

So if you’re out there, here’s the idea for you : )

I’m off to try and sort my diary, send last minute cards and presents, check the calendar for our Christmas arrangements, try and get a food shop and sort out our energy bill.

Happy Mummy-ing!

Victoria x

 

Father Christmas at Bluewater

Local Things to Do

Totally worth it!

Cost: £10.00

Note: photos are extra (£7.50)

Why is it worth it? The kids absolutely loved every minute (even Violetta!).

The experience starts with a little cookery lesson with the elves. How to make a gingerbread man! Good rhetoric and funny little jokes as well as lots of participation from the children who then receive an elf hat to write their name on. The magical gingerbread man is then put in the over where he comes to life!

You are then taken through to meet Mrs Claus and decorate your own gingerbread man tree decoration in a sweet craft room with oversized craft essentials!

Then it’s on to the next room to meet the real life gingerbread man:

And finally, time to meet Father Christmas! In a beautiful little grotto with an elf to take the photo:

You are given a little card so you can decide if you want your pictures and for £1 extra you can download the digital copy later!

All in all a fab experience and one I’d definitely recommend. We didn’t even have to book in advance; we just popped to the box office (down by Pizza Express) and booked for the next slot!

Let us know if you go along!

Victoria and Violetta x

How To: Christmas Shop with a Baby!

Lifestyle

This year is my first year of Mummying at Christmas.

I have never been especially good at getting ready in advance and quite enjoy the thrill of leaving all the shopping to do on one day, with stops for mince pies and mulled wine, then coming home to go through all the purchased goodies, sorting them, stacking them and eventually the week before Christmas (generally while hubby is at his Christmas party) setting myself up with Love Actually, Elf and White Christmas, an endless supply of hot chocolate and nibbles and wrapping, labelling and decorating every single one.

It was mad, it was last minute and I absolutely loved the thrill of it. I totally, completely failed to realise that this is a pipe dream when you have a ten month old baby who is into everything and wants to help (can I call it that, really?) sorting, unwrapping, tearing, exploring textures and ‘posting’ very usefully in hidden places.

How did I realise this? I carefully compiled Christmas present lists of what needed to be bought for who (with a lot of gaps – I love spontaneity when I see the ‘right’ gift for someone), I set of for Bluewater with Violetta in tow and optimistically set off to shop.

This is not a negative post. I absolutely loved it. Every minute. But oh my goodness, I think I’m mad.

I started off with all the best intentions – a lovely lunch with my miniature bestie! Pizza Express have a wonderful Bambino menu, so we had a pizza and a mini bowl of pasta respectively (shared dough balls to start, naturally) and all was well in the world. We then wandered round looking at the lights, ambling through the shops chit chatting (me) about what we could buy people, wooing the shop assistants (V – she was given a key ring in Jo Malone and a chocolate coin in Ted Baker!) and generally enjoying the festive atmosphere. We even stopped and listened to the gorgeous choir!

Then, bang! It was nap time and Violetta was getting grumpy. No problem though, out came the Snooze Shade and after a couple of laps of the shopping centre she was soundo. I thought this meant I had an hour or two to make all the purchases, popping back to the car to drop bits off as needed and then, when she was well rested we’d stop for a hot chocolate and milk break, before finishing off any little bits and heading home.

I am so naïve sometimes!

Firstly, navigating a buggy, picking up things in shops, taking them to the tills, paying for them, bagging them and then balancing enough bags on the pram (with a sleeping baby in who wakes up if the wind blows) before the run back to the car every few bags should not be underestimated! Add into this that I am a moocher and you begin to see where I went wrong!

A few items ticked off my list (including some of the unknowns, thankfully!) Violetta woke up. She had been asleep for all of 30 minutes. This is unheard of!

So we popped off for a drink break – which was super lovely actually and exactly what I wanted it to be. But then I realised I still had to finish the whole list of presents. Eek!

Anyway, long story short – we did it! Thank goodness for Ella and her nibbly banana biscuits, Ted and his cheeky chocolate coin and a heavily discounted penguin that we spotted in House of Fraser, who I think might be Violetta’s new best friend as she cuddled him non-stop until she went to !

My car was full to the brim, Violetta was just on the edge of having had enough, but we did it! And guess what – I loved it : )

I think next year I may get someone to meet me half way through and look after V for me, instead of relying on a nap to get things done, but other than that we had a wonderfully festive mummy-daughter day and I really thoroughly enjoyed it. I think V did too, judging by the happy, giggly and chatty mood she was in all the way home and right up until she fell asleep.

Happy festive shopping!

Victoria x

PS. I’m just about to post this and I looked over to the sofa where I have piled all the goodies to show Mr S…. I have literally just realised I will now have to find the time to wrap them. Oh my. 11 sleeps ’til Christmas!

Frogprince Baby Music

Local Things to Do

Today Violetta and I tried out a local music class ‘Frogprince Baby Music‘.

In short, Violetta absolutely loved it!

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In a small (quite hard to find if you’ve never been there before), unassuming hall in East Greenwich Pleasance called The Bridge, a nutty Italian musician runs a fantastic little class for babies to pre-schoolers.

With more baby percussion that you can imagine for the babes to play with in the middle, Stefano’s keyboard, harmonica collection, ukuleles and guitars at the front and little mats around the edge for everyone to sit on, the venue is set for a great hour of music.

Stefano is fun, engaging and chatty with the kids, taking time to involve each and every one of them in the music at some point. It’s whacky, funny and the hour flew by. Today was the Christmas class so it was a mix of classics, Wham, random Christmas songs I’d never heard of and chatty music breaks in between.

When I say Violetta loved it, I’m not kidding. She wasn’t bothered about me being there at all and spent the whole class in the middle of the room, banging on the drum, shaking the maracas, singing, dancing, playing and generally having the time of her life. And she wasn’t the only one – the kids were happy to bop about, play with the instruments and be around the music.

For just £5.00 PAYG this class is a great way to spend a Thursday morning.

Top Tips:

  • The room wasn’t massively warm, so wrap up snug if you go on a chilly day.
  • There’s space to leave your buggies inside.
  • The Bridge is inside the park and is locked until just before the class. If you get there early there’s a little coffee shop and play area directly opposite.
  • To find out whether the class in on you can visit the website or there are plenty of updates on the local facebook groups : )

 

Victoria and Violetta x

 

 

Our Top Ten Christmas Jumpers of 2017

baby, Favourite Brands

(for baby girls!)

Violetta and I have been searching high and low for our favourite Christmas jumpers and we’ve compiled our shortlist for you! Click the pictures to find them online.

The Little White Company

Stylish, classic, timeless, super soft and cosy.

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JoJo Maman Bébé

Fun, old-fashioned and so soft (cashmere bled). These was up beautifully too.

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Marks and Spencer

Budget price, great quality, super soft, every day wear,

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Angel’s Face

Small business with fantastically unique items for sparkly girlies.

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Mothercare

Affordable, comfy, easy to find

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Happy Christmas Shopping!

Love Victoria and Violetta x

Mummying My Way

baby

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m pretty headstrong. I’ve been called feisty, opinionated and many other things that imply strongly that I like to do things my way. And I do. But it’s worth noting that alongside that I have also been told that I am one of the most caring, giving and easy to talk to people.

Makes for an interesting combination, doesn’t it!

I’ve never been a great one for being told what to do. I’m not a rebel at all, goodie two shoes through and through, but I know my mind and I like to be the decision maker of my own life.

So now that I have a daughter, that fierce independence is still there. You’re probably thinking that I sound like I think I know it all? Absolutely not. I’m the first person to ask for other people’s input about what they did, how they crossed certain obstacles in parenting and what they really enjoyed, but what I always do is take in the information, think about it and then decide how I’m going to do it.

I don’t subscribe to any of the traditional methods out there, or any of the new ones for that matter. I don’t attachment parent, I don’t do controlled crying, I haven’t done baby led weaning, I haven’t fed my daughter exclusively on breastmilk, I haven’t ‘co-parented’ with my husband and I haven’t religiously co-slept. I’ve done bits of all of them.

Let’s start with ‘co-parenting’. Mine and my husband’s relationship is quite traditional; he’s the bread-winner, I’m the stay-at-home-Mum. I just happen to run a business too. But that doesn’t make any difference to me being a stay-at-home-Mum. I spend most of the day, every day, with my daughter. She is rarely away from me and we enjoy doing everything together.

I am the main decision-maker on what my daughter wears, eats, her routine, her activities and which brand of nappies she wears. My husband has input as we do discuss everything, but he defers to my opinions a lot. Why? Because he’s (physically) at work Monday – Friday 7am – 9pm ish. When he’s not at work he’s available on his Blackberry. I can’t remember the last time he didn’t have to work both days at the weekend. Not only that, but he trusts my judgement. He respects my ability as a Mummy and knows that everything I do is with the best intentions for our little girl. Don’t get me wrong – he puts me to the test from time to time (‘but she’s half Italian, I don’t understand why she can’t eat pasta now’ when I had literally just started weaning her!), but we tend to find a compromise or I assure him that we can do what he is suggesting in the not-too-distant-future. When hubby looks after Violetta at the weekend, if I have to pop in to work, I lay out her clothes, pack the nappy bag, set out breakfast, lunch, milk, snacks etc and jot down her nap times. Why? Because he doesn’t spend enough time with her to know it all off-hand and I’d so much rather that the precious time they spend together is used for fun and playing, than with a grumpy baby who’s out of her routine, or a grumpy Papa who can’t work out which milk has to be mixed into the baby porridge.

Now, none of this is to say that I think every family should operate in this way! Absolutely not – I have utmost respect for every which way families choose to operate. This is just the way it works for us.

I’ve already written about weaning and breastfeeding and I’ll be doing posts on spending time together, sleep routines and more of our parenting style in the not-too-distant future.

 

A Local Heaven for Children and Parents

baby, Local Things to Do

We have found the perfect answer to rainy afternoons, burning off energy, meeting friends and having some mummy/daughter time.

In Woolwich Arsenal, in an unassuming, converted warehouse, is a haven for children and parents alike.

Under 1 Roof kids is everything you hoped for when you pictured in your mind the kind of place you would spend some time with your children.

Violetta and I have been frequent visitors since she was born, but the venue has really come into it’s own now that she’s a little bit older.

Today our plans for seeing friends fell through. Faced with the prospect of a day indoors and a little baby with too much energy to spare at the end of the day, there was an obvious answer as to where I would be spending the day!

We jumped in the car and headed of to Under 1 Roof. For just £1.00 (as she’s under 1) we had entry to the play area. This is by far my favourite soft play I’ve been to. It’s safe, secure, clean, not too big and because it is attached to a playroom for older children too, it doesn’t get too busy.

After spending some time burning off some of her extra energy and learning to climb steps for the first time, we headed into the Menagerie Café for lunch. This place exceeds expectations. Everything about it is focused on families and it is easily the most child-friendly place I have every visited. With lots of high chairs and plenty of space around each table, as well as a healthy children’s menu, pouches and plates/cutlery for the kids too, it’s absolutely ideal. Parents are well catered for too, with lovely cakes and bakes, an extensive lunch menu and drinks to rival your favourite coffee shop. To top it off, the staff are amongst the friendliest I’ve ever met.

Whoever came up with this incredible concept really does have the most wonderful imagination. As well as being a child’s dream, there are so many more services available all ‘Under 1 Roof’. From hairdressers to crafters, children’s clothes to party suppliers. Every class worth doing holds a session there and there’s even free parking.

Today I found a second hand clothing shop with the most beautiful, pretty clothes in immaculate condition for truly amazing prices. I couldn’t resist a little bag of goodies and have a feeling I’ll be a regular customer!

I know that this is somewhere we will be visiting again and again and again as Violetta grows up and I know how lucky we are to have it on our doorstep.

If you live locally and I’ve tickled your tastebuds, go and have a look! You won’t be disappointed.

www.under1roofkids.com

 

Making Big Changes

Lifestyle

11 years ago I left school.

9 years ago I started Footsteps and embarked on a business degree.

6 years ago I graduated from university with a First Class Hons.

6 years ago I met my now husband.

5 years ago my health started going downhill.

4 years ago I started receiving medical diagnoses.

3 years ago I got engaged.

2.5 years ago we bought a house.

2 years ago we got married.

1.5 years ago we fell pregnant.

1 year ago, while pregnant, I was admitted to hospital for a lifesaving operation.

1 year ago I survived and so did my baby, against all the odds.

9 months ago I had my daughter.

6 months ago I started feeling ill again.

3 months ago my thyroid medication was changed.

2 months ago my dance school entered it’s 9th year.

1 month ago I went back to teaching.

2 weeks ago I covered my main staff member for a full time week of teaching alongside the administration of running the business.

1 week ago I decided to make a change.

3 days ago I finalised my decision.

Yesterday I actioned my plan.

Today begins a new mindset and a fresh start.

I have embraced every step I have taken – I love my work and I am passionate about what I have created. I live for the children I teach and their families. But I live for myself and my family too. And it turns out that the year I’ve had has forced me to make some big decisions. I’ve taken the decision to scale back my business to give me more time to do what I love – teaching. Thanks to the changes I will have a more definite schedule, meaning I have more time with my family, and I’ll be focusing on getting a few blog posts out too, because it turns out I quite enjoy this! I think these changes are going to make me happier, more fulfilled, less stressed and more present in everything I do. I’m sad to have had to make this big decision, but excited about what it might mean for the future.

I hope you’ll be joining me for the journey.

Two Tired and Stressed Parents

Uncategorized

Not exactly an exciting blog post, is it!

But there you have it. We are tired. We are stressed. Two demanding jobs and a new baby will do that to you.

Why this post?

Because I just laughed out loud at the text I send my husband this morning:

‘Sorry for insulting you about pasta’.

Yup, I had to send an apology for that.

It turns out that going back to work , having not really stopped working, while hubby continues with his super stressful job, having him away on a stag do for a long weekend and holding down the fort myself, and having a very upset, distressed, teething baby, all at once, is a lot!

So I’m asking for help.

I’m going to take this as an opportunity to prioritise me (I always prioritise V, that goes without saying, but she needs me to be at my best in order to be ok) and see how I go.

I’ve called in reinforcements, tidied the house, allocated working hours and booked onto a 2 hour course for mums.

Watch this space!