Monday, 31 May 2010

I Heart Shoes

Muddling Along Mummy has tagged me in the Shoe Lovers meme/award. Unfortunately my bottom of my wardrobe shoe closet doesn't contain the envy-inducing designer shoes that Muddling Along possesses (some Christian Louboutin's are on my wish-list. One day....) but my friends and family will tell you that I love love love shoes. I was trying to think about the last pair of shoes I bought, and realised sadly that my shoe purchases have almost ground to a halt since Miss E and Mr A came into my life. This is down to a combination of lack of shopping time, lack of money, and a lack of opportunity to wear gorgeous shoes.

So it seems like a great time to celebrate the shoes I already have...

Marriage wobbles

First to take their run down the catwalk are my wedding shoes. Yes, I wore these to get hitched. My dress was a knee-length prom-dress, so I felt killer heels were a must. I took them off for five minutes on the dancefloor, but I was determined not to be defeated so I slipped them back on until the end of the night. Yes, my feet did hurt the next day. A lot. But these shoes helped me feel the most fabulous I have ever felt!

On the red eye

These are my current favourites (Carvela from Kurt Geiger - Kurt Geiger is my shoe-shop of choice), bought a couple of years ago for a wedding, and poised to make an appearance at at leat one other wedding this year. They are super-high, and I feel like a bit of a giant when I wear them but they are much more comfortable than they look. I love the colour of them - in the winter I wear them with brighly coloured opaque tights.

When in Rome

These gladiator sandals are bespoke! There was a little cobblers shop I saw when we were on holiday in Turkey, and they measured my feet and made these beauties for me. They are so comfortable and I wore them a lot when I was pregnant (it was a hot summer). I did have to get Young Daddy to buckle them for me when I could no longer reach my feet, though.

Back to school

I saw these Jack Purcell Converse plimsoll trainers in Grazia and immediately sought some out. I'm now onto my second pair - they are the best trainers ever. I have big feet so buying trainers is a nightmare for me, but these somehow manage not to make my feet look like boats.

These boots were made for walking

I bought these shortly after Miss E and Mr A were born (they are my most recent footwear purchase. Sniff)when I realised how much walking I was going to be doing (it was the only way to get the babies to sleep in the early days). They are ugg-style boots made by FitFlop that I saw in Grazia, and they claim to tone your bum and thighs while you walk. I've lived in them this winter which should mean I have pins to die for. Sadly not. But maybe they'd be even worse if I didn't have the boots?

I'm pretty sure most people have already done this meme by now, but I'll tag a few nonetheless!

I have no doubt that these lovely ladies will have shoe collections that are pure shoe porn:

Friday, 28 May 2010

Guest Post: Life's a Beach

Today I've swapped blogs with Becky over at Single Mummy, as part of the Guest Post Day, organised by Erica at Little Mummy. Head over to Single Mummy to catch up on Becky's blog, which tells about her getting to grips with life as a single mum to her two gorgeous children,  and to read my post, 'Stepping up to the plate', about becoming more independent.


Thanks Erica for another Guest Post day and a chance to meet new bloggers and have new input on our own blogs.

As I sat on my picnic rug on Camber Sands on a slightly chilly Saturday morning last weekend I began to think about all the beach trips I had as a child. How many millions of people have enjoyed or endured a family day on the beach? Some things about those beach trips haven’t changed since the 1970s but in other ways they have.

Children still want to build sandcastles and dig holes to be buried in or to turn into a car or a boat or anything else their imagination and their parents’ ingenuity can create. They still love jumping over the waves and screaming when they are splashed by the cold & salty water. You still hear the adults shouting at their kids to “stop throwing the sand around”. Probably because of all this sand chucking you still get sand in the sandwiches… There are still the perennial games of boules, beach cricket and ball games.

Other things have changed either because society has changed or that the climate has. Unlike in the 1970s very few children were running around with nothing on at all for fear of other adults looking at them. Most of the younger ones were wearing the all in one swimming costumes which provide sun protection. All over the beach were little sun shelters either for babies or whole families. Unlike the woman on Brighton Beach most parents were obviously conscious of the dangers of the sun. The majority were cajoling children into regular application of sun tan cream.

I can remember there being nothing stronger than factor 4 cream and even that was hardly ever used. We made do with the windbreaks and keeping cool in the sea. Sunburn wasn’t seen as a problem mostly just an annoyance that would go away after several days on the beach.

Back then I’m sure we were allowed to roam quite a way from our parents even on the beach. Now most parents were keeping their children within eyesight and many took advantage of the coastguard’s free emergency wristbands. These had space for mobile numbers to contact parents of a lost child. Back then you would simply shout and hope.

By the time my children have their own children I wonder how days out on the beach will have changed? Will it be deemed “safe” for children to be on the beach in the sun at all? What technological advances will make it a different kind of day out. I’m sure children will still want to just get out the bucket and spade and build those sandcastles but they may well be covered from head to toe in protective clothing.

Enjoy taking your kids to the beach and I hope you all stay safe and un-sunburned!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Travelling with babies - my top tips

So, time to share my top 'holidaying with babies' tips...

1) Get sunhats with wide brims that tie under the chin. Ours didn't have ties so Miss E and Mr A spent the whole time pulling them off. Green Baby do some great ones.

2) It sounds obvious but don't put them in light-coloured clothes to travel in. I don't wear light colours myself for long journeys, so I don't know why I thought it would be a good idea to do so for the babies! They looked thoroughly dirty and bedraggled by the time we arrived at our campsite.

3) Always have an adequate supply of snacks. Snacks are great for distracting them when they get grouchy, and help them stretch if their next meal is going to be delayed until you reach your destination.

4) Good playthings on the plane include cardigan with buttons or a shirt (my babies will spend ages playing with the buttons), chunky necklaces, balloons (these are small to pack but are fun when blown up). I also took along a hand puppet, which was great for entertaining the babies when waiting in queues.

5) Miss E and Mr A were perfectly happy on take-off and landing - we gave them a milk feed if one was due, or a biscuit or some dried fruit to eat if not.

6) The UV swimsuits we bought the babies were a great buy (see them modelling them here). Ours were from John Lewis, and they took away the anxiety of them getting too much sun and were lightweight enough for them to happily sit in them during the day.

7) We wished we had bought one of those pop-up UV tents for the beach. We'd planned to use a parasol to give the babies some shade, but actually it was too windy for a parasol, so a little tent would have been perfect.

8) Pack baby clothes that are good for layering - so long-sleeved tops, tshirts, cardigans etc. Most of Miss E and Mr A's tops are vests, so it wasn't easy to just peel off a layer when the sun came out, or to pop a layer on when it got a bit chilly.

9) We bought some fabric travel highchairs that pack really small and can bit fitted to any dining chair. Ours were from Kiddicare, but they are available from lots of places, and they were really useful for bars or cafes that didn't have highchairs.

10) The advice we were given was to buy nappies out there rather than pack many from home. However, nappies don't actually weigh very much, and we found that they were really expensive to buy when away, so we wished we had taken some more with us.

11) Young Daddy and I both got quite a few nasty mosquito bites, but the babies escaped being bitten. I was sure to lather them in mozzie-repellent in the evenings, and we took mosquito nets that fitted over their travel cots (ours were from Mothercare).

12) Mums - strapless tops and bikini tops are not a good idea, unless you're happy to flash your fellow holidaymakers when your energetic baby yanks them down.

13) The bowl of water play idea was a great one in hot weather because it kept them nice and cool.

14) Another obvious one, but pack spare sets of clothing for the babies (and you if you've got room) on the journey in case of accidents. Mr A was sick on the plane so I had to change his outfit.

15) Cheshire Mum did a great vlog about using sterilising tablets to sterilise bottles when away, and we found this way of sterilising was really straightforward.

16) Because of the restrictions on taking liquids through security we took through sterilised empty bottles, a box of formula, and bought bottled water once we were through security. If you don't make a habit of using bottled water then it's not a problem, and apparently health visitors recommend Evian because it has a low sodium content.

17) For food for the babies while away (if they eat purees), we just packed our little handheld blender and some baby rice and bought stuff to make purees when we were out there.

18) I packed a picnic blanket in my hand luggage so that the babies and I could sit down and play in the airport. This was really useful when we arrived at the airport in Sardinia and we were waiting for our luggage and the pushchairs. 

If I've missed anything, or you've got any questions (or any tips to add) please ask! We definitely found that going away with the babies was a lot more straightforward than we expected and I can't recommend it enough.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Twins on tour - a week in pictures

It was cold when we arrived

But we had a little paddle in the pool anyway

We bonded as a family

Then the sun came out

And we all had fun on the beach

We visited the playground and enjoyed the swings

And ate some delicious food

It was a wonderful first family holiday and we can't wait for the next one...

Sunday, 23 May 2010

The Italian Job

We survived!

Yes, the Young family made it all the way to Sardinia and back in one piece, and we are still smiling.

Our accommodation was great (a snazzy mobile home), Sardinia is beautiful, and we got out and about as much as we could including trips to the beach, a local market, cafes, a restaurant (yes, just the one, but for us that's a huge achievement), and gorgeous Italian towns. Unfortunately the weather wasn't that great, so it was too cold (or windy) for swimming (one of the things I'd most been looking forward to) so we'll save that for the next holiday.
By far the best thing about our week away was spending time as a family, with no distractions. Our days were spent enjoying each other's company and trying new things and we were all very happy campers. Miss E and Mr A charmed everyone they met with their smiles and giggles and I have never felt so proud of them. They were fantastic to spend time with and amazed me once again with their capacity to adapt to new situations. And we've obviously trained them well as they slept through every single night we were away (I am available for hire for a very reasonable hourly fee!).

Things I've learned about my babies this week:
  • Sand is apparently very good to eat, though tomatoes and red peppers are not
  • Having spent eight and a half months loathing being hung upside down, Miss E has decided it's one of her favourite things in the world (fickle little lady)
  • Mr A's eyes are the exact colour of the sea at Costa Rei
  • Miss E has a very sweet tooth and would give up all savoury food if given the chance
  • Mr A thinks that ice-cream is very strange indeed, but he'll still eat it thank you very much
  • Miss E and Mr A are wary of strangers initially but warm up after a couple of minutes
  • Both babies are very happy and contented little people
And what I learned about myself:
  • I enjoy spending time away from the computer
  • I think of myself as an anxious person but at some of the most stressful times (mainly on the journey), I was calm and positive
  • A cold beer on a hot day is heaven
  • The attention I get walking round with twins makes me self-conscious and proud at the same time
I shall post some more photos throughout the coming week, and I'm also compiling my own list of travel tips to share....

Thursday, 20 May 2010

While I'm away...

...would you mind doing me a favour?

This week you've saved some valuable minutes not reading my blog because I'm on holiday. I think those minutes could be best put to use voting for Young & Younger to win the Best MAD Baby Blogger category in the Butlin's MAD Blog Awards 2010. So why not pop over there now and place your vote?

Many thanks! x

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Going off grid

Hopefully when you're reading this I will be feeling happy and relaxed on our first family holiday.

One of the things I'm most looking forward to while I'm away is some time away from the computer. Since I started blogging at the end of last year, my time spent online at home has sky-rocketed. Writing blog posts, commenting on blogs, and spending hours on Twitter now take up most of my free time in the evenings. A few people have blogged about the problems this can cause, such as Josie at Sleep is for the Weak, who thinks she needs to live more and blog less, and Karin at Cafe Bebe who wrote about how blogging has caused tension with her husband.

I feel I'm gaining a lot from my time online, including forging some great new friendships, and rediscovering a love for writing, but I'm losing out too. I can't remember the last book I read, craft projects are gathering dust, and I rarely find time to cook anything new and interesting. But the biggest thing I think I'm missing out on is quality time with Young Daddy. It's hard enough when you have young children to find time for your relationship, but when one of you has their face stuck to a computer screen all evening, it's even harder. I know he understands that the blogging is a form of stress-relief and enjoyment for me, but I think he wishes I would cut down on the time I spend doing it.

While I expect to feel slightly twitchy for the first few internet-free days on holiday, I can't wait to spend my evenings reading, chatting and playing games. I've packed a couple of books, travel scrabble (Young Daddy and I get super-competitive playing this) and my long-neglected cross-stitch and I hope it's warm enough to sit outside in the evening with a glass of wine and my husband (notice which one came first - sorry husband!) and put the world to rights.

The cross-stitch project I've been working on neglecting since Christmas

I find being online a bit like a constant buzz in my head, so some quiet time to reflect will probably be the most relaxing aspect of our trip.

What has blogging caused you to give up? Have you had to sacrifice other interests? Do you feel you spend too much time online?

Friday, 14 May 2010

Preparation, preparation, preparation

I'm a big addict fan of lists, which is a good thing, because you should check out this mother-of-all-lists, written to help me remember everything we need to pack for our holiday. Young Daddy turned rather pale when he realised it totalled four full A4 sides...

All four of us are off tomorrow to Sardinia for a week (ash cloud permitting), booked in a moment of pure madness many months ago. If any potential burglars are reading - my lovely friend Katie is housesitting for us, so please don't pay her a surprise visit. I do hope we have nice weather while we're away because the clothing I am taking for myself has been seriously limited in a desperate attempt to keep under Easyjet's stingy (free) baggage allowance.

I blogged about my holiday doubts a couple of weeks ago, and got some great tips and suggestions from you, a lot of which I shall be testing out over the next week. I shall report back when I return and shall hopefully be able to pass on a few gems of my own.

If you have tagged me in a meme (recently or a few centuries ago), I haven't forgotten, I promise! They will be top of my blogging to-do list when I'm home.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

House invaders

It's amazing how, slowly but surely, every room in the house gets taken over by baby-related items. My two are so little, yet their stuff is already everywhere. Let's take a room-by-room tour of the Young & Younger house...

Kitchen: Two highchairs. These fold down flat but they're still pretty bulky and I have to shift them everytime I need something from the cupboards they live in front of when folded. Then there's all the feeding gear - bibs, plastic bowls and spoons, steriliser.

Living room/dining room: We recently shifted our dining table into the kitchen, leaving the dining area of the living/dining room free for the babies to use as a play area. So it is now accessorised with a multi-coloured foam playmat, and toys in various boxes, baskets and other containers. The living area is almost baby-free, but there is a baby monitor on the side table.

Stairs: Always adorned with a pile of baby clothes and odd toys ready to make their way back upstairs. The red Bumbo seat sits at the bottom of the stairs, opposite the front door, perfectly placed for me to pop one baby while I'm ferrying them out to the pushchair or the car.

Snug/Spare bedroom: We use this room in the morning for breakfast and in the evening for the bedtime bottles so there are two bouncy chairs, another foam playmat and various toys scattered around and bedtime books piled up on the side table.

Bathroom: Rubber ducks, rubber frogs, a hand puppet, a wind-up plastic boat (one of Young Daddy's recent purchases for bathtime!), the babies' towels and a change mat. This is the smallest room in the house, so I need to think up some creative storage to hide all the baby bits away, as I'm sure their bathtime paraphernalia will just grow and grow.

Nursery: Speaks for itself!

Our bedroom: Stacks upon stacks of clothes the babies have grown out of. These need sorting into stuff to keep (I may be adamant there will be no more babies, but a girl's got to be prepared for the unexpected!), things to give to friends, and stuff for the charity shop.

Garden: Our neighbours must think we're bonkers, because a plastic slide took up residence in our garden shortly after we annouced we were pregnant. Young Daddy's boss passed it down to us and I'm sure the babies will love it when they're a bit busy.

And I know what you're going to say. It's just going to get worse! I should just accept now that my house is going to be taken over by kid-related objects. Just as our lives have been taken over - all part-and-parcel of that wonderful and exciting package that is family life.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Eight months and we're on the move

Apologies for being a blogger gone AWOL, but I was suffering with a poorly tummy last week and felt too sorry for myself to blog. Now I've dragged myself out of my hole of self-pity, given myself a talking to about neglecting my blogging duties and am reporting back for duty.

Being sick unfortunately coincided with Young Daddy's first night away (on a work course). I know I've been incredibly lucky, considering the babies turned eight months last week, to have lasted so long without having to do a solo night, and to be honest I had actually been looking forward to the challenge and a night in on my own. I survived to tell the tale, though it was touch-and-go for Mr A after I managed to drop him on his head. He had an egg-sized lump and an incredibly impressive bruise (I'm too ashamed to post a picture), but I'm pleased to say that he was fine. Phew.

It's really hard work taking care of two babies totally on your own, and has renewed my huge respect for single parents, especially those with twins. I take my hat off to you.

Mr A and Miss E's eight month highlights are listed above, the most notable of which are Mr A cutting three teeth, and Miss E's new mobility. She is one determined little lady, and applied her total focus to getting on the move this month. She perfected crawling backwards before she mastered forwards motion and there's no stopping her now. Of course, in typical Miss E fashion, she's now bored and now wants to walk. Knowing her it won't be long!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Roll up roll up

Miss E and Mr A experienced their first General Election today with a trip to our local polling station for me to place my vote. I wish I could say that I'm going to be staying up all night to watch the results come in, but I've been hit by a tummy bug all week so I'm destined for an early night.

And now you've had your practice vote it's time to vote for the big issue of the week. Head over to the Butlin's MAD Blog Awards and have a look at the amazing blogs shortlisted in the finals.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

The final countdown

After you're done mulling over who gets your vote in tomorrow's General Election (please read this post at Battling On about why you shouldn't waste your vote), there's another important vote that needs to be cast.


I'm delighted (and quite taken by surprise) to find that Young & Younger has been shortlisted for Best MAD Baby Blogger (sponsored by TinyTalk) in the MAD Blog Awards (sponsored by Butlins). Thank you so much to all you lovely, lovely, lovely (did I mention you're all rather lovely?) people that nominated me, and a big hello *waves* to any of you visiting my blog for the first time. Now I just need a minute more of your time to vote for me here please!

I'm up against some amazing baby bloggers, and there are some fantastic blogs shortlisted for the other categories so grab a cuppa and sit down and have a browse. I guarantee there's some fantastic reading there. Here are a list of the baby blogger finalists so pop by and check them out.

Muddling Along Mummy
Mellow Mummy
New Mummy

And if you're having problems deciding who to vote for, here are my compelling electoral promises:

1. Many, many, more cute baby pictures and tales to be delivered on a regular basis.

2. A warts-and-all vlog from the rumoured flashy awards ceremony (complete with swaying camera-work).

3. A chocolate brownie for every voter*.

* to be delivered next time we meet up. Young & Younger cannot be held responsible for the quality of said brownie.

And a massive thankyou and well done to the MAD organisers. The positivity and excitement the MADs have generated has been great fun, and hugely enjoyable to be a part of.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Doing it for the kids

I'm in the park, dodging the kids on wheels that shoot at me from all directions. Scooters, bikes, wheelie trainers ('wheelies'?), trykes whizz past me like rockets, each one making me wince as I anticipate its impact. 'Bloody kids', I think, and then it hits me. These two gorgeous babies in the pushchair in front of me are going to grow into Children.

I struggle for breath, want to sit down, the dizziness washing over me. What have we done?! I can picture myself with babies, and maybe,at a stretch, toddlers, but with two Proper Children? Small people that talk, and run, and argue, and shriek? And don't even get me started on teenagers. Oh no, no, no, I want to get off this particular ride. Now, please. I want out!

The magnitude of having offspring struck me suddenly the other day (only about 17 months too late - I think the shock of discovering I was expecting twins distracted me from thinking about anything else), and the fear was overwhelming. Having two Proper Children, well that would make me old, right? Like an official grown-up? A parent. A probable source of embarrassment and uncoolness. Someone who lays down rules and administers punishments. Someone responsible and consistent. Every part of me screams, 'I'm not ready! I'm not ready!'

But then I picture Miss E, laughing with a group of her friends on the way home from school. Or Mr A taking a bow after his first school play, and I feel that rush of excitement that shot through me when I saw the unmistakable blue cross on the pregnancy test, the exhileration all tingly in my tummy.

And I know I'm in it for the long-haul.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Holiday wobbles (and that's not just my thighs)

It's now less than two weeks until we jet off to Sardinia for a week, and Young Daddy and I have just had a major wobble about it all. Questions such as, 'are we mad?', 'will we actually be able to relax when we get there?', and 'will we even survive the flight?' have all been heatedly discussed. After totting up how much money we would lose if we cancelled it, and me realising how disappointed I'd be, we're trying to get ourselves organised so that we can feel less anxious about the whole thing. You know me, I love a good list, so with pen and paper in-hand I'm tackling the challenge head-on.

We're travelling independently, so there's no package deal or travel rep to cushion us once we're there. We fly courtesy of Easyjet, have booked a hire car to get us to our destination, and are staying in a two-bed apartment mobile home that should come with two travel cots (note to self: must check they will have a second travel cot).

We are in desperate need of your help and advice! What (inexpensive) travel essentials must we pack? What can't-live-without tips can you offer us about travelling with babies? Are we mad? Will we survive, or will this be so stressful I may never go on holiday again?

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Some words of (questionable) wisdom

The lovely Karin at Cafe Bebe has rightly honoured Martha Stewart as the Queen of all Things Domestic, by sharing the most valuable things she's learned from Martha, and tagging some bloggers, including myself, to impart our own words of wisdom - tips and secrets that we just can't live without. So here goes...

1. Stainless steel is a nightmare to keep smear-free, especially with kids about. When out styling kitchens for the magazine, I always have a bottle of baby oil with me to wipe away smears and fingerprints. It works, honestly!

2. Invest in a pot of blackboard paint. Paint a small area, paint a whole wall, paint a door, or just paint a patch on a glass storage jar to use label with chalk. We've had a blackboard wall somewhere in every place we've lived. In this house we've painted the whole door to the understairs cupboard. I started listing all the foods the babies have tried, complete with little pictures but as with so many of my 'great ideas', the novelty soon wore off!

3. Save time when changing the bedding, by keeping a full set together in a pillowcase. Use it to hold the sheet, duvet cover and other pillowcases for each bed, and it will save you from an angry husband who has spent the last ten minutes trying to squeeze a king sized duvet into a double duvet cover.

4. To keep your fridge smelling fresh, pop a little cup of bicarbonate of soda on one of the shelves. At the moment I'm going through bicarbonate of soda at a rate of knots trying to get the smell of baby sick off clothes, toys etc, because the odour makes me retch. I've so got to toughen up.

5. If you run out of shaving gel for your legs, hair conditioner is a great alternative. Ok, I admit it, I never actually bother to buy shaving gel. I always use hair conditioner. It's one less bottle clogging up the shower area.

6. I created a spreadsheet listing everything we could possibly need from the supermarket. A blank one is always stuck on the fridge, so we can just put a tick next to each item we need, as and when we run out or think of it. Otherwise we end up doing countless trips back to the supermarket to pick up everything we've forgotten.

I love this Words of Wisdom idea so much it might become a regular post here at Young & Younger. Now I need to tag some lovely bloggers for their fantastic tips. I'm going to tag Mummy Bear (@mrsscruff) at She was not at all domestic, as I reckon she must have some great beauty tips for us. Kat (@that_kat) at Housewife Confidential always has some valuable words of wisdom for me, so she's tagged. And Dotterel (@dotterel) at Bringing Up Charlie is a domestic dad extraordinaire so I'd love to hear some of his secrets.

Karin has added a Linky Tools widget to her post here so you can link back to your own Words of Wisdom post. 


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