Two

Two. We were supposed to be done at two. I was supposed to be done at two.

Just moments after E was born, I scooped her up into my arms and looked across to my husband.

“I’m never doing that again. I’m done.” (To be fair, my fanny was still stinging.)

Hubby nodded. “Two is a good number.”

14 months on and I have that oh-so-familiar ache. I’m longing for another baby. I don’t feel done.

It’s impossible to ignore, believe me I have tried.

And I often think that this feeling will pass, eventually. When the girls are both older and life gets easier. When nappy changes and night feeds are but distant memories. Maybe I’ll just look back and think “those days were hard” and never want to put myself through it again.

But right now I cannot ignore my feelings.

Stephen and I both like the idea of having a big family but (being far more sensible than I am) he worries about the practicalities of having a third child. Space, money, effort. I do think about those things too but my ovaries chime in with “WE’D MAKE IT WORK, SOMEHOW!”

Is being broody enough of a reason to have a third baby?

Although, this feels like more than just broodiness. I’m not getting ‘clucky’ at the sight of a newborn. I’m thinking about growing our family every waking second of the day. This is all-consuming.

Even on the hardest days.

When the kids have spent the the entire day squabbling.

Or E’s kept me awake all night.

When I’m so tired that my head pounds.

I. still. want. another.

We were supposed to be done at two. I was supposed to be done at two.

Jenna xx

Why I’m planning to have a ‘no spend month’
and how I’m hoping to do it

Why I’m planning to have a ‘no spend month’…

I have a confession to make. I’m addicted to shopping.

Not the kind of shopping that you might first think of when somebody says their addicted to buying things. I don’t spend a fortune on handbags, clothes or shoes. And I’m certainly not in debt.

But I still buy things we don’t need or even have the space for, purely for the ‘buzz’ of it. I like the feeling having new stuff. Whether it’s buying a pack of nice pens (I do love my stationary) for £3 or a bottle of kitchen cleaner for £2 (even though we have about 6 bottles of kitchen cleaner under the sink at home already).

I. Can’t. Seem. To. Stop. Buying. Stuff.

And this is why I’m going to try my very best to make February a ‘no spend month’.

Why now?

1. I’m fed up of the clutter.

I’m sure it takes me twice as long to tidy my house because of all of the ‘stuff’ we’ve accumulated. Most of the things I end up buying don’t serve any particular purpose and just end up gathering dust.

2. I want us to be able to afford a holiday abroad.

We’re very fortunate that we live comfortably in terms of keeping a roof over our head and food in our cupboards. And I realise that this is very much a ‘first world problem’ but right now we can’t afford to go on an overseas holiday this year.

I really wanted us to go on a ‘big holiday’ this year, before J starts school in September and we’re restricted to travelling in the school holidays and paying extortionate prices.

Small loans can go along way financially, but in order to save for a holiday I need to learn to curb my spending habits. Saving money for one month isn’t going to pay for a holiday – I realise that, but every pound I don’t spend will contribute to making our sunny getaway a reality.

3. It takes 28 days to change a habit.

February is ‘short’ month and not spending for 28 days seems achievable. Also, depending on who you ask, it supposedly takes 28 days to change a habit. We shall see!

How I’m planning to do it:

Realistically, I’m going to have outgoings in February, utility bills, pet insurance, driving lessons etc. and that’s fine. I can’t do much about those things but it’s everything else, the things I can do something about, that I’ll be focusing on.

I’ve broken those things into the following categories…

Food: 

We tend not to bulk buy food, we shop weekly and plan our meals so that there’s little or no waste. This means that we don’t have lots food in our store cupboards and freezer to eat up during February so I plan to food shop weekly as normal. Food is a necessary expenditure so I’m going to try my best to keep our shopping bills to a minimum by planning cheap, healthy family meals. I will not buy ANYTHING other than food from the supermarket. Cleaning products, toiletries and clothes will not be going into my shopping basket – we have plenty already.

I will also be avoiding spending money on lunches and snacks whilst out and about. I’ve realised recently that a couple of drinks and some cake from the cafe after toddler group can often cost me a small fortune.

Travel:

Not spending money on travel should be easy. I don’t drive and seldom use public transport because I’m lucky enough to live in a town where everything is within walking distance (including the shopping centre… gulp!)

Entertainment: 

I don’t want to spend the entirety of February stuck indoors with two littles – I think we’d all go a little stir crazy. Instead, I’m going to use this challenge as an opportunity to explore our local parks and free attractions. E and I attend Hartbeeps (toddler group) on Tuesdays but this has already been prepaid so we will continue with that. I also have a cinema gift card with a fair bit of credit left on it, so I’m planning to use this to take J to the cinema on the weekends. Convincing her to go without her beloved popcorn could be interesting though!

Another few ways I plan to get some free entertainment:

Using my library to borrow some books.

I’m thinking of taking advantage of Netflix’s free month trial too.

Downloading free podcasts to listen to.

Personal care:

The beauty of doing this early on in the year is that I’m already stocked up on smellies from Christmas gifts. I have more shower gels than you can shake a stick at. I shouldn’t need to buy anything in terms of personal care.  If I do, it would just be for the sake of it.

How I’m going to avoiding temptation…

I’ll be skipping any haul videos that come up on YouTube subs page or blog posts that are trying to sell me something.

I’ll be deleting marketing e-mails as soon as they enter my inbox.

I’ll be avoiding both going into physical shops and browsing online shops.

I’ll be leaving my bank cards at home when I go out.

I’ll pack lunches, snacks and drinks when we head out of the house in the mornings.

Wish me luck!

I’m planning to keep a weekly diary of how I’m doing (mostly to keep me accountable) so keep an eye out for those posts over the next few weeks.

Do you have any no spend tips for me?

Jenna xx

This is a collaborative post.

 

An interview with my 3-year-old

It’s almost a year to the day that I interviewed Jasmine and it was such a lot of fun to do. I decided I would do it every year so here we are, back again with another interview. I’ve kept to the same questions and it’s amazing to see how much J’s understanding and speech has come along in the last 12 months.

1) How old are you, Jasmine?

*holds up three fingers*

“Um, three!”

Me: How old are you going to be on your next birthday?

“Four!”

2) What’s your favourite bedtime story?

The Highway Rat!

{She knows it word for word!}

3) What does Daddy do for work?

He goes in his office and does lots of work every day.

{Stephen works from home in his office}

4) And what does mummy do?

She doesn’t work, she just plays.

{Mmmhmm}

5) What’s your favourite colour?

Pink and purple.

6) What’s Your favourite animal?

Lion… I don’t like scary lions though, I only like nice lions.

7) What makes you happy?

Drawing and Smooshy.

{Smooshy is Elowen’s nickname}

7) What makes you sad?

When Smoosh doesn’t want to play with me.

8) What’s your favourite song?

“Ginger bells…. ginger bells… *inaudible singing*… hey!”

{Oh I do love her version of Jingle Bells!}

9) Who is your favourite superhero?

Mummy.

{I got a bit choked up as I wasn’t expecting that. Move on over, Spiderman!}

10) Who is your best friend?

Smooshy

11) Where do you live?

In the North.

{Very specific!}

12) Where is your favourite place?

“Um, the supermarket!”

{Dirty. Rotten. Lie.}

13) What is your favourite food?

Croissants. And pasta and peas.

14) What are you good at?

Hide and seek.

15) What’s your favourite toy?

Jeffery… I love him.

{Jeffery is ginormous teddy bear that was gifted to Jasmine one Christmas. You can read about my love/hate relationship with Jeffery here.}

Jenna xx

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Life Lately: Elowen turns one, putting down roots and school applications…

Oh my goodness, it seems like such a long time since I did a ‘catch up’ kind of post on this here blog of mine. Even though I’ve massively stepped back from blogging (due to lack of time, mainly), this evening I’ve had the writing itch. In years to come, when I sit down and look through my blog, I’ll wonder what the heck I was up to during the massive gap between my posts. It’s also quite nice to have a bit of ‘brain dump’ every now and again, isn’t it?

So in no particular order, here’s what been happening in my life lately…

Elowen turned one:

My littlest lady celebrated her first birthday last month and it’s felt like the fastest year of my life. I did a cake smash photoshoot in our back garden which was a bit of a disaster, to be honest. The wind kept blowing my decorations down, it started to rain and Elowen was more interested in throwing her cake on the floor for the dog to eat. Now I know why people pay a lot of money for cake smash photo shoot sessions with a professional photographer! ;)

Shortly after her first birthday, E began taking her first wobbly independent steps. And now, just a few weeks later, she’s a bonafide toddler, stomping around all over the place.

E’s determination to grow up at a million miles an hour has left me feeling ridiculously broody. I keep thinking I want another baby (or 10?) but I’m sure the feeling will pass!

Settling into our new home/town:

We’ve been in our new house for over six months and I feel like we’re relatively settled here now and we’ve adapted to the changes – Stephen working from home, Jasmine going to a new preschool, etc. etc.

Stephen working from home is tricky at times – especially as he often spends a lot of the time on conference calls with clients – as you can imagine, a one year old and 3.5 year old make a LOT of noise. In the summer I would just take the kids out to the park when Stephen was on calls which made life easier. I still try to get us out of the house as much as possible but it’s much harder in the winter when the weather is bad.

I’ve found people here, other mums particularly, a lot friendlier. People weren’t unfriendly in Suffolk but those who lived in our old town had usually been born and bred there and were less fussed about making friends outside of their family/social circle. People didn’t really talk to each other. It’s different here. Whether I go to the park, playgroup or soft play, there’s always someone willing to have a chat – it’s made my life a lot less lonely.

We have a massive list of things that need doing to the house, a lot of which require a fair amount of time and money. It feels a bit overwhelming sometimes but I try to remember that we’re planning to live here for 10 years or so (at least whilst the girls are at primary school) so there’s plenty of time for us to get things done.

Our most recent project was the living room. The decor that we inherited when we moved in was not our style at all but because it was only cosmetic, it got put on the backburner. Until we got so fed up with the ugly wallpaper, we started tearing it off one evening! We repainted the walls, added photos and art to the walls, we (ahem, I) went a bit mad with fairy lights (I’m obsessed with fairy lights) and got a new dining table and chairs. It’s now one of my favourite rooms in the house. It still needs a few finishing touches but I’m really chuffed with how it’s turned out.

School application made:

Our primary school application for Jasmine has been made and I can hardly believe my big kid is starting school next September. *sob* We’re very lucky in that we’ve several ‘good’ primary schools in our catchment area so it was a case of visiting them and deciding which one we felt would be best suited for Jasmine. There were things we liked about all of the schools we visited and I’ve no worries about any of them but we do have our heart set on one in particular. Fingers crossed J gets a place there. :)

Back to education: 

In my last ‘life lately’ post, I talked about wanting to change careers and become a Doula. Well, I’m pleased to say that I start my NCT access course in January which is my first step on the ladder. It’s a 6 month course which will help me not only get back into education but also let me dip my toe in the water and decide if I want to continue on this career journey before making the big commitment of doing another degree.

Last month I met my tutors and fellow course mates at an ‘expression of interest day’ and I am SO excited to get started in the New Year. I am eager to learn and get stuck into something that’s just for me.

Looking forward to Christmas:

We are in full Christmas mode here and we’re loving the build up towards the holidays. I’ve already watched The Grinch (my fave festive movie) and cracked open the Baileys! ;) We’re having Christmas at home this year, with Stephen’s mum coming to visit, so it should be a relatively chilled one. That said, I’ve still got lots to do over the next week and a bit.

Jasmine wrote to Santa and asked for sparkly blue shoes like Elsa’s. They’re sorted (thank goodness for eBay). And I’ve ordered her main gift – a beautiful pink retro-style bike. I cannot wait to see her little face on Christmas day!

As for E, she’s a little trickier when it comes to gifts – she’s just had a birthday and doesn’t want/need anything if I’m honest. Let’s face it, she’s one, she’ll be happy enough playing with wrapping paper and cardboard boxes so I’m not going to sweat it on that one.

And on that note…

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a fantastic 2018!

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12 Days of Pedigree:
Getting your dog ready for the holiday season

*Countdown to Christmas klaxon!*

Oh, my goodness – it’s almost Christmas, guys! I am so excited to spend the holidays having some quality time with my family. But not just the human members, I fully intend to have our pooch, Heidi, join in with the festivities.

The folks at Pedigree recently asked me to share my twelve tips for getting my dog ready for the holiday season in regards to including her in the fun, but also keeping her safe. I really hope you find them useful.

1. Book your doggy’s Christmas hair do early!

Just as your hairdresser’s appointment book will fill up quickly during November and December, so will your dog groomer’s. Book your dog grooming appointment early to ensure that your pampered pooch looks (and more importantly, smells) their best come the big day!

2. Store the crimbo choccies in a safe place. 

Like a lot of families, we become inundated with boxes of chocolates, advent calendars and biscuits over the festive period. (Hey, you won’t hear me complaining!) But those tasty human treats can be pretty toxic for our four-legged friends. Even a small amount of chocolate could cause your dog an upset stomach. We put all of our choccies in a Tupperware container or biscuit tin and keep them well out of reach of Heidi.

3. Treat your doggy to an advent calendar!

Just because we’re hiding our chocolates away from Heidi, it doesn’t mean she can’t enjoy her very own treats during the countdown to Christmas. Most pet stores will sell doggy advent calendars in the run up to Christmas and I always think it’s a nice way to include Heidi each day.

4. Enjoy the winter walks, safely. 

I love winter dog walks, especially on cold crisp, sunny days. We tend to walk Heidi twice a day – once during the daytime and again in the evening, after dinner. Of course, this time of year it’s getting dark very early which means taking precautions during those evening walks. I’ve invested in a light-up tag for Heidi’s collar and a hi-vis jacket for myself. Granted, I won’t be winning any fashion awards any time soon but I daren’t take any chances when it comes to our safety.

5. Ensure your dog has a safe retreat.

With lots of visitors to the house, excitable kids and the general chaos that comes with the holidays – it can be a bit overwhelming for our pets. Heidi certainly becomes unsettled when there’s lots of things going on at once or if there’s changes to our normal routine. We’re hosting Christmas dinner at our house this year so I’ll be making sure that Heidi has a quiet space she can go to if she needs a break from all of the excitement.

6. Stuff a stocking for your pooch…

Each member of our family has a stocking which we hang up on Christmas eve for ‘Santa’ to fill. Heidi has her very own stocking which we stuff with healthy doggy treats and usually some kind of Christmas themed squeaky toy (which we regret buying as soon as she gets hold of it)! ;)

7. Get creative with photos of your pet!

Whilst I may enjoy sporting a very fetching Christmas jumper during the holidays, Heidi on the other hand is not so keen. She doesn’t enjoy dressing up, so we don’t do it. So, do you know what I do instead? I create festive snaps using phone apps and free online editing software. It’s loads of fun to do and it doesn’t annoy your pooch! I like to use Picmonkey to add festive ‘stickers’ to photos of Heidi – I think they’d make great Christmas cards!

8. Be tree safe!

We usually put our Christmas tree up off the ground (on a coffee table) and fenced off from the children and Heidi. This ensures that decorations don’t get pulled off and chewed on. The consequences of our beloved pooch eating Christmas decorations (such as tinsel and baubles) are unthinkable.

9. Be wary of which festive plants you bring into your home…

According to  the RSPCA “Some plants and flowers including poinsettias, holly, ivy, mistletoe and lilies can be toxic, so avoid these if you have pets.” I love having poinsettias in our house at Christmas but I’m going to invest in a artificial version to be on the safe side. It also means I can use the same one again and again each year!

10. Avoid overindulgence

We all tend overindulge with food over Christmas and it can be tempting to spoil your dog with tasty treats over the festive period too. Limiting the treats to a few a day will ensure that your dog keeps off the Christmas weight! On days when we give Heidi extra treats, we reduce her portion size at meal times to account for the extra calories she’s already had.

11. Plan ahead in order to avoid your dog feeling lonely this Christmas…

We don’t always host Christmas dinner at our house, other years we’ve gone to stay with family for the day (or longer). On some occasions we’ve been able to take Heidi with us but other times, when we’ve gone abroad for example, we’ve had to make other arrangements for her. For the longer trips, Heidi stays with a pet sitter or with friends. But even when we’re out for a few hours, we like to have someone on hand to pop round and check on her. We generally don’t like to leave her for more than 4 hours without a toilet break and a tickle! Make sure you’ve got dog sitting/walking sorted ahead of time to avoid the stress of arranging last minute petcare.

12. Watch out for needles!

If you opt for a real Christmas tree this year, then be sure to vacuum up the fallen needles frequently. They could cause some discomfort to your dog if they get stuck in their paws. We tend to stick to an artificial tree for this reason (and if I’m honest, I can’t stand the mess of a real tree!)

I hope you’ve found this post useful.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!

Jenna x

This post is a collaboration with Pedigree, but all thoughts are my own. For additional dental care information you can read the following Pedigree Reviews article for tips and advice.