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A FAMILY LIFESTYLE BLOG

WICKED WEDNESDAY | #11 This is how we roll at play time.

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I  hope you are all having a fab week. This week we haven't been a very well household, however despite all the germs we still have some material for our Wicked Wednesday. My little lady found it highly hilarious that she could actually get her little head stuck in this bag, don't worry she couldn't fit it all in. 

TBT | Our Wedding Day

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Hello everyone,

Its a Thursday and therefore I would like to take a moment throw back to 2013...

My favourite moment from 2013 was no doubt the day that I married my best friend. Our wedding day was truly beautiful, it was all we could have dreamed of and more. Both Tony and I were so thankful that we could spend our special day with our closest friends and family. It was all exciting and surreal and I thought it would be the perfect time to take a stroll down memory lane to one of the most important days of my life so far.

So without further ado, here are some of my favourite photos from our perfect wedding day...

16th March 2013...
After what seemed hours I was finally ready. 

I will never forget this emotional moment with my Mum.
Our Vows
The Newly weds - Mr and Mrs Combes

The Confetti Shot

Ohhh Another Confetti Shot

Taking a moment to breath and have a drink! :)
Our First Dance as Husband and Wife
This photo even made it into a venue brochure! :)
What made this year unforgettable was not only did I marry my best friend, but we found out that were expecting our a little girl. 2013 was definitely a year that I will always remember and be thankful!

Have a great day!

BAKES | Easy Peasy Smartie Slices

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Any opportunity to get into the kitchen to bake and I am there, and I have to say that it's something that my daughter enjoys too. But baking with the baby isn't for the fainthearted, especially if you like a clean and pristine kitchen. When it comes to baking with a little one there is always so much to think about, so make sure that you pick a time that they are not tired and you have lots of patience. Baking or cooking with children is a great way to encourage them to take a more active role in choosing, preparing and cooking simple food that may even help them to discover new foods and new tastes. While you’re cooking, let your child hold the ingredients, talk about where they came from and discuss how you think the recipe will turn out. The more familiar children are with ingredients and the more they feel involved in the process, the more likely they are to eat the food at the end. When she's a little older I think that baking and cooking with her will become a time for other learning, such as reading numbers in the recipes or on the scales, not forgetting about all those ingredients that she can learn about too. How making baking quick and easy will alleviate the stress and hopefully keep the mess to a minimum, which is why I wanted to share this Easy Peasy Smartie Slice Recipe with you all today. 


And all you will need is three ingredients: 

250g of Rich Tea, fine crumbs

2 tubes of Smarties 

400g sweetened condensed milk 

METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 160c and grease and line a baking tin with parchment 

2. Place your Rich Tea biscuit into a processor until you have fine crumbs, if you don't have a processor added them into and bowl and crush with the end of a rolling pin. 

3. Next, add the crumbs into a bowl, add the smarties and then the condensed milk. The combined mixture smells amazing and requires taste testing. 

4. Place in the mixture into the lined deep tray and place in the preheated oven, cook until golden brown. Once it's cooked through, remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Slice into squares and enjoy!

WICKED WEDNESDAY | #10 Mummy I am stuck, help me!

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How are you all? So this week for Wicked Wednesday my daughter has got herself into more mischief. She had become obsessed with throwing her ball down this little gap so she could squeeze herself into this little gap. Toddlers are such funny little people sometimes. 


How To Get Your Baby To Nap For Longer

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The one thing that so many new parents are most concerned with is about sleep. When your new born comes along you will not sleep very much even though you wouldn't change it for the world sleep deprivation can be tough. I feel that the hardest part of becoming a parent for me was the first few weeks and the sheer exhaustion that overcame me. I cannot say this for all babies but getting them to nap is the easy part but making it last is where it can get complicated.


Being a parent is hard and so we could all do with more sleep, am I right? I thought that today would be a good chance for me to share all my secrets in getting my little lady to nap for longer, and in doing so she has become such a great little sleeper. So if you want your baby to nap for longer, please read on. 

A Good Routine Can Be Everything...

There are actually some many great benefits in getting your baby into a good routine as soon as you can. If you actually sit there and think about it, us parents, would really struggle without some kind of routine in our daily lives. So for instance, think about if your alarm does go off, how do you feel? If you're anything like me you will feel completely out of sync all day, mood swings are a given and you will probably feel that the day has been wasted due to that alarm. Babies are the same. They like a routine and they like to know what's coming next. As soon as you establish a routine, you will begin to understand their needs and actually give your babies a sense of security and in a way give them some comfort. It's human nature to want a routine and therefore, babies who have one, generally sleep better. In the first few weeks trying to get your new born into a routine can be hard. I remember all those cancelled date night or cocktails with the girl, just so I could do all I could to get my baby into a routine.

A Soother...

Whether it's a blanket, a teddy or a dummy. By using a soother will try and help your baby feel at east and settle into a longer nap. My daughter has a yellow blanket and won't settle unless she can snuggle her little nose into it, we also use a dummy to settle her down at night time. Love them ot hate them parents have been using these little gems for years. I'm not saying that you should use one at all, it's just something that we used that worked for us. I never really planned on using a dummy! I wanted to be able to power through and not let my daughter rely on one, but at just two days old, I completely caved and gave my daughter dummy. It was so awful to hear her cries her sobs and feeling completely useless! Being a first time mum is hard, perhaps I could have stuck it out, but do you know what I don't care and I don't regret giving her one. My daughter settles into a slumber so quickly now. There will be a time where we will ditch her dummy, and with a little hope it will be an easy transition for her.

White Noise is Surprisingly Helpful...

For a parent with a newborn baby in the household, sleep can seem like only a dream. Even if you’re past the waking up every few hours for feedings phase, your baby might still have some trouble falling asleep. When a nice warm bath doesn't work then it's time to think about other ways to get your baby to sleep. White noise has been a gem. White noise refers to sounds that mask other sounds that might occur naturally in an environment. I made a discovery after a particularly hard morning with her, she wouldn't settle. I tried a bottle, nappy change, cuddles and it was time for a warm bath. But it didn't work. So I started to dry my hair and poof, she was a sleep when she heard the hairdryer. I cannot tell you how happy see her snooze in her baby chair. There are so many benefits in using a white noise app to get your baby to sleep. The most obvious benefit of white noise for babies is the fact that it could help them fall asleep. If you notice your baby tends to fall asleep at noisy times outside of regular nap time or bedtime, then they might respond positively to white noise. There are a couple of different things that we use for a white noise for our little lady. The first is a Soothe and Glow Seahorse when cuddled, the belly gently glows and he plays over five minutes of music and ocean sounds. The music is comprised of eight gentle lullabyes and classical selections, along with soothing sounds of the sea. We also have a Slumber Elephant, which is a favourite of our when she is really struggling to settle. A soft, plush elephant companion is the perfect sleeping buddy for children of all ages. It has a calming starry sky display and a peaceful selection of sounds help relax and soothe baby to sleep.


Using Your Hands to Soothe...

Learning to self-soothe is as important a milestone as smiling, crawling or walking. But it's not always the easiest. In the early days, your baby can’t manage to voluntarily control their hands or movements enough to initiate his own self-soothing strategies – as they will be heavily dependent on you to help him settle to sleep.This is normal and doesn’t result in habits because before 3 months of age, babies don’t develop habits or expectations. That why I like to use my hand to help soothe her by stroking her face or tapping her tummy really lightly. 

Your Voice Becomes a Comfort...

Everyone knows that lullabies help babies sleep. As soon as a lullaby begins, a soothing sense of order infuses the infantile consciousness. The swaying rhythm is close to its own heartbeat, and the quiet melodious sounds a blessed relief from the world’s usual racket; the simple, repeating melody is also a source of comfort. Lullabies aren’t the only such source. Being rocked in a cradle has much the same effect. Being strapped to the side of a walking mother works well, too, A mother's voice is also something that can be soothing to a baby, once a baby develops hearing inside the womb they become familiar with your voice and it's therefore a comfort to them. So a little song or simple humming is a great way to soothe them into a slumber.

So, now that I have let you into all the secrets about all the ways you can settle your baby to sleep, I thought that it would be a good opportunity to share what I do if my daughter wakes during the night, which isn't often I have to be honest. My daughter has a strict routine and goes to bed at 7.30 after a bath, bottle, book and bed routine. Normally she settles quickly, but if she does wake during the night I will wait it out to see if she can self-soothe herself to sleep. No more than ten minutes. But if there is no way that she is falling back to sleep and is screaming or sitting up I will go to her. But I will try and go in with a soft approach and put her elephant night light back on, give her a dummy and place her yellow blanket across her, then pat her tummy. I will then try and leave and if I am lucky she will go straight back to sleep but if we have some trouble I would pick her up, give her a cuddle and slowly make my way out of the room. If you are consistent with your methods I am more than sure that these wake ups with become less and less and your little one will become a better sleeper, and sleep for longer.

What is your little like a bedtime? Are the a good sleeper?

WICKED WEDNESDAY | # 9 Oh the mess!!!!

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I hope you are all having a great week. It's Wicked Wednesday time. Over the last two weeks this little monkey thought it has been highly hilarious to pull all of mummy and daddy's DVDs out of the unit. Cheeky girl. But when I tell her no that's naughty, she runs away and hides in the curtains. :) 

Six Ways to Get Your Baby into a Routine

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Are you struggling to get your new baby into a routine? Perhaps you have already tried and nothing seems to be working? Well, you have come to the right place. So why don't you go and stick the kettle on, stay a while as I will share all my secrets with you in how we got our daughter into a routine at just six weeks old. I must say, it will be hard at first, but once you establish a routine it will be a good thing for everyone. 


After what seemed like forever both my husband and I were finally holding our baby, our beautiful miracle baby. I want to say it was love at first sight, however as soon as I found out we were expecting we completely fell in love. Now, with tears streaming down our faces, we were finally a family, a family of three. Welcome to parenthood. A few days into parenthood we both began to feel overwhelmed. The emotional roller coaster that you go through in those early days are tough. Our daughter came into the world and turned our life upside down and right side up again, we didn't mind of course, but this little person depends on us. Being a first time parent can take some time to get used to, but one thing to considered in those moments of sheer exhaustion, lack of sleep and emotional roller coaster is that the baby is probably feeling the same as you. With a little time you will adjust to all the change and wouldn't want it any other way. 

But I do need to be completely honest here, after all that's one of the main reasons why I decided to start a blog is to be completely honest. There are things that, I'm afraid that don't become easier and that is sleep. It's tough. It's draining. Broken sleep is awful. Some of us new parents are lucky and get a great little sleep who can sleep through straightaway, you lucky people! Whilst others get a night owl who is awake for the best part of two years and never wants to go to sleep. Now if you are one of those parents who have a little night owl, I feel for you, I really do. However, things can change. Trust me. Our little lady started to sleep through at six weeks old and it took a whole of of hard work and dedication, believe me as soon as you can get them to sleep through, establishing a routine is so easy. Being the good person I am I want to share all my secrets with you. I have written a complete guide for you to use in order to establish a routine with your little one, and one that actually works. So if you want to sleep again, then please read on...

Why should you get your baby into a routine?

Before we even get into the great ways to get your baby into a routine, there is one major thing that we need to ask ourselves. Why should you get your baby into a routine? Apart from the MOST obvious answer - to get some sleep. A shocker, I know. There are actually some many great benefits in getting your baby into a good routine as soon as you can. If you actually sit there and think about it, us parents, would really struggle without some kind of routine in our daily lives. So for instance, think about if your alarm does go off, how do you feel? If you're anything like me you will feel completely out of sync all day, mood swings are a given and you will probably feel that the day has been wasted due to that alarm. Babies are the same. They like a routine and they like to know what's coming next. As soon as you establish a routine, you will begin to understand their needs and actually give your babies a sense of security and in a way give them some comfort. 


Not only with establishing a routine as soon as you can be good for you, your lifestyle and your sanity, but it will also be a great thing when it comes to leaving your precious bundle of joy with your family or friends. With a good routine your friends and friends will be able to soothe and comfort your baby and make them feel at ease in new surroundings. As the babies will understand the difference between day time and night time, they will know what to expect and hopefully, without too much excitement sleep though. Even when it comes to travelling or going on holidays you still need to try and keep to some kind of routine in place, as not all babies are as resilient as others. With my daughter she was just shy of her first birthday before we decided to go on a big family holiday, before this we had never used a cot bed or anything and in our case she didn't cope too well being away. However, we still kept to a routine and by day three she was more than happy to sleep in the cot bed and I could tell she felt more settled and slept through. 

When Should You Start Introducing Your Routine?

Like with most things, time is all you need. The early days of parenthood is hard enough, doing it for the first time can be even harder as you have never done it before. You, you partner and your new baby are just getting to know one another, in some kind of way you're trying to figure out ways that work for you all. Even though trying to establish a routine as soon as possible is pretty important, I am in no way saying you need to put any kind of extra pressure on top of of everything else, no new parents needs that. If you do try and establish a routine so early, it may not work. The early days are a time to figure out what it's like to be a parent, being in complete awe of your new baby and to catch up on any broken sleep. Sleep deprivation is awful. Personally, start think about establishing a routine when your baby is between three and six weeks old. 

So now that you know when you should start establishing a routine, it's now time to think about ways to try and establish that routine. It is going to be hard work, you may feel at times that it's not working bug whatever you do, don't give up, hold out because soon enough you will see the benefits. So what do you need to do?

Teaching Your Baby the Difference Between Day and Night...

As soon as your baby is welcomed into the world, your life is pretty chaotic. You have friends and family coming to meet the new addition, you have appointments to go to, all whilst trying to figure out feeding times, nappy security and sleeping. But even though this may be the chase in the first few week, around the third or fourth week you will all begin to feel a little more settled. So teaching your baby the difference between day and night is a great place to start in establishing a routine. When your baby wakes up change their clothes. keep their feeds and nappy changes lively and fun. At night time try to make all nappy changes quiet, feed with just a night light only and give no eye contact as hard as that will be. Who doesn't love to get lost into those beautiful blue eyes? A purchase that I have never regretted is getting some black out curtains, they have literally been life saving as dramatic as that sounds. 

Introduce a Bedtime Routine...

A good bedtime routine is everything. It's one of the best ways to end the day in a calm manner for both you and your baby. We all know how it feels to wind down, have a hot bubble bath, a cup of tea and read a book. This is exactly what you need to do with your baby, it's also some extra bonding time with them too. You can introduce a bedtime routine around three to six weeks. This is the routine that we live by today and it's never failed us, yet. Remember the three B's!!! Bath, bottle or boon and then bed! Live by that mantra. My husband and I decided to leave it a few weeks before trying to introduce our new bedtime routine and at four weeks old it started to work a treat. And from that day we haven’t looked back, bed time is fairly smooth. When my daughter was a little older we added our own fourth B – Book. 

Understanding Your Baby’s Cues...

Now this is something that comes with time, but it's still something you should try and figure out when establishing a routine.Your baby’s cues, or non-verbal language, are their way of trying to tell you what they need. It may take a few weeks to get to know your baby’s cues. But if you do sit back and watch your baby, you will be amazed at how even very young babies can give clear signals that they want to interact, tired or hungry. By responding to their baby cues will help your baby develop a sense of trust in their ability to influence his environment. Not only that, it will also help them build a secure attachment to you. At first it was so hard to understand our daughter's different cries, but it did get easier. Another thing you could try is set cues for your daily activities, so you baby will understand what to expect. So, for instance, putting a bib or muslin on will show then that it's now mealtime. As I mentioned earlier behaviours such a dimming the lighting in the room, or getting your baby in their pyjamas will let them know that it's bedtime and soon enough it will come naturally.

Growth Spurts Can Changes a Routine...

During a growth spurt your baby will put on weight, length and head circumference more quickly than usual. They may also hit a developmental milestone, or master a skill that they may been working on for a while. But in a nutshell, growth spurts are awful! Just when I thought I was actually getting somewhere with a routine, dare I say, nailing it she would have a bloody growth spurt and we would have to start again. Just before and during a growth spurt, your baby may seem sleepier than usual. Waking up less at night, having a lie-in, or taking more naps. All signs that you baby is getting ready for some growing. During a growth spurt your baby may be more restless and super clingy where they are wanting to be held all the time or cry if you put them down. So what should you be doing during a growth spurt? Basically try and respond to your baby's cue and try to give them what they need whether it's an extra feed, a longer nap or a cuddles. Be patient with them growth spurts can make babies sleepy and out-of-sorts

Don't Expect Perfection...

Whether you like it or not, your baby’s routine won't always run like clockwork. Although babies like consistency, you can expect changes from day to day and as your baby grows. But always put your baby's needs first. If your baby starts to get fussy, but isn't due for a nap or a feeding for another hour, follow their lead. Their needs have the utmost importance on any schedule or appointment you may have in place. Life will get in the way too. Holidays, siblings and plans with friends and family will all play a part in daily life with your baby. So take a breath, relax and take a minute. Each baby is different and it won't always run smoothly and there will be a few bumps along the way...but I think it makes it fun, right? Okay not so fun when you don't sleep but the extra cuddles and kisses at night will make up for it.

When establishing a routine try and have fun with it. A routine doesn't mean you have to make it all work and no play. Everything you do with your baby is a bonding experience, so also make time to sing songs, cuddle, and play. These are the little ways that have really helped us get our daughter into a routine, it was hard work, lots of late nights and we had no social life for some time. But soon enough our daughter got into a routine that fits us, her and our lifestyle.

WICKED WEDNESDAY | #8 Its all too much for this one

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Yep, this weeks Wicked Wednesday is pretty funny. It was lunch time and I think it got a little too much for one little lady, yay it's nap time! Now shall I nap too? Or shall I blog? Hmmm....

BAKES | Broccoli and Cheese Muffins

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Do you have a fussy toddler? Yep me too, so I am always try to find ways to get more vegetables into my daughter. Let's face it muffins are a tempting treat for most children so why not try a savoury version to help with your child’s recommended 5-a-day! These Broccoli & Cheese Muffins are so easy and quick to make, great fun to do with the children and a great alternative for a lunch option. This recipe freezes really well so bake in batches and defrost for lunchboxes and snacks. I have found that these muffins have be a fantastic option for those who are beginning to start their weaning journey, especially those who are using a baby-led weaning method and of course perfect for fussy eaters too.


To make these Broccoli & Cheese Muffins you will need:

80oz of plain flour 
5oz of cheese, grated 
1-2 small florets of broccoli, finely chopped 
6fl oz of semi-skimmed milk 
3 tbsp of olive oil 
3 tsp of baking powder 
1 egg, beaten 
a good pinch of salt and pepper


METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180c and grease a 12 hole muffin tin.

2. If you prefer to cook your broccoli before adding into the recipe then you should add some broccoli to the water and cook for 10 minutes. Once cooled chop the broccoli very finely. In a bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, finely chopped broccoli and grated cheese

3. Add the oil, beaten egg and mix well thoroughly and the spoon the mixture into a greased 12 hole muffin cases, making sure they are 2 thirds full.

4. Place in the oven and bake for around 30 minutes or until golden

What to do For Halloween.

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It's the first of October which means that Halloween is just around the corner When I was younger my mum and dad would never let me go trick or treating as they said it was begging and they also didn't like that we would be disturbing people at home. I thought it was so unfair but on a few occasions I did sneak out with friends to go trick or treating but I soon understood why they wouldn't let us go...people don't always open their doors :( Nowadays there is more of a hype centred around Halloween and more people are are getting involved even shops have aisles and promotions dedicated to Halloween. However even though we are becoming more accustomed to Halloween many parents don't want to go door-to-door and lets face it not everyone wants visitors at their doors. Last year my daughter was too young for Halloween and due to sleep deprivation we didn't get involved. Even though she may still be too young to go trick or treating but there are so many other activities we could get up to so I have complied a little list of different things that you and your family could get up to this Halloween. 

No to trick or treating? Still let your children dress up and have lots of fun in the comfort of your own home. Its a win-win situation as one your children are getting involved and two you don't have go around your neighbourhood getting cold. There are so many activities that you all can take part in...why don't you get creative? Help your children make their own costume (how easy would it be to make a ghost!!!) or let them loose with paper, crayons, paints and create a masterpiece. I will definitely be letting my little lady loose and getting creative with her, she absolutely loves messy play. 

What is Halloween without a bit of pumpkin carving? Carving pumpkins is a really fun activity that all the family can take part in. However take great care with sharp knives and obviously make sure that children are supervised at all times. But once you have scooped out the insides don't forget to try and cook up a pumpkin feast and get the little ones involved to create the ultimate Halloween food or treats. 

You could have a Halloween party. This could be a small gathering just for the children or you could get involved and have a big party for everyone to enjoy. My Auntie always holds a Halloween party for adults and children, it is so much fun watching people arrive in their Halloween costumes (no costumes - no entry) and then get stuck into some fun-filled Halloween games such as the apple bobbing. Remember how fun this game was?

How about organising a Halloween themed night in with the family? There are so many ways to keep them occupied at home why don't you let them indulge in Halloween treats, watching scary movies (my favourite has to be Hocus Pocus) or share the best ghost stories with a torch under your chin - my brother was always great at doing this with me and my sister. But if you do want to venture into the garden you could hold a Halloween scavenger hunt. What is not to love? Just hide all those treats in places not too hard to find and if your children get tired you can call it a night. Yay!

Take your children to locally organised events. As Halloween has become more popular I am sure that there events being held in your area. For my area there are lots of craft fairs, the library hosts an event called 'Spectacular Spooky Stories' for children and the there is a big trick or treating route around the main town where most shops like to get involved in the Halloween spirit. Go to Goggle, research and find out what is happening in your area!!!

You could also take your family out for the day. There are so many great locations that host events for Halloween that will sure to get you all spooked! I came across this Halloween guide that has a big selection of events that will be taking place around the UK that will be perfect for you and your family. I would love to go to London for Halloween as it has so many scary locations such as the Tower of London or the London Dungeons I think these would be really great this time of the year! So I think that is about all I could think of at the moment. I love these different ideas for Halloween instead of going door-to-door and let face that is soooooo last year! :)

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