Monday, 30 December 2013

My best buys of 2013

Here are my top 5 buys of 2013;

This was a wonderful purchase that we made back in April. Although more expensive than some of it's rivals, we did lots of research and found that this ranked highly on all levels. We have been thrilled with it ever since and Fred seems to love travelling in style.

Mr C bought me the Dyson for Christmas (and who says romance is dead!) and I absolutely LOVE it. We don't have much carpet downstairs and we only have a small house for which this cordless handheld is ideal. It's so quick & easy, perfect for any spills or crumbs without the hassle of having to heave a giant vacuum down the stairs whilst juggling a toddler! If you're after a new vacuum, I couldn't recommended this more highly!

I have had an iPad and I most definitely thinks that this beats it hands down without a second thought, especially considering the price difference. We use it for internet surfing, social networking and for Freddie to watch his films in the car and it does all this jobs perfectly. 

Everyone who is a regular reader or who follows me on Twitter knows that I think this pushchair comes second to none. You can read my full review HERE but if you read nothing else, read this... Buy this pushchair!! It's amazing! 

Last but not least is...

My Wedding Dress!

I aren't going to tempt fate by uploading a picture as I don't want to jinx anything but it is definitely my most favourite purchase ever! 

Top Posts of 2013

We are fast approaching 2014 and with that I thought it would be a nice idea to have a delve into the archives and re-read some of my most popular posts of 2013.

I love to look back over my posts; afterall that it the purpose of A Whole Nine Months and why it began. It's lovely to see how my baby had grown and reminisce on those days that seemed mundane at the time but somehow made it into the blog and now makes me smile.

2013 was my 2nd year in the blogging world and I'm immensely proud of how my '2nd baby' has come on. I thoroughly enjoy blogging, especially the community that it brings. We now have a presence on Twitter and although it's not the most important thing, it's nice to know that I have regular readers who enjoy my posts. 

I kicked off the year with a ranty post (a ranty post on A Whole Nine Months, NEVER! *insert sarcastic tone*) about a topic I'm very passionate about - Manners cost Nothing! Take a look at the post to see why I was stark raving mad at my journey from Leeds with a new baby in tow!

Continuing the theme of ranty posts, I then penned a letter to Mr Saintsbury regarding the atrocious situation that it parent & Child parking. Dear Mr Sainsbury was and still is one of my most popular posts although it's apparent that he hasn't read it himself because I've seen no improvement!

As a first time mummy, I have been thrown on a whirlwind adventure and at times, have struggled to know my rear end from my elbow! I blogged a list of 15 things no one told me about becoming a Mummy! and judging by the reaction I had on Twitter, I'm not alone. We're all in the same boat and that brings me comfort. The fact that we all mourn our pre-pregnancy boobies makes me feel that little bit more positive about my spaniel's ears. The shocks kept coming when I told you of the 15 things no one told me about being a toddler mummy!

I've told you about the Sad World in which we live and I shared my Letter to a Teenage Freddie in which I penned lots of advice. It'll definitely be something to show him when he's older. Do as I say and not as I do and all that!

April brought good news when I announced my enagement to Mr C. Regular readers will know that having a different surname to my baby bothered me so I was thrilled to post Hey Baby, I think I wanna Marry you! and have my readers share in my joy.

A massive part of 2013 for me personally was My Slimming World Journey and I'm now pleased to say I've lost 3stones. I hope that I will have more good news on my new healthy lifestyle in 2014!

2013 has been a wonderful year. We have had lots of 'firsts' which you can see here in 2013: A Year in Photographs. Of course our engagement was wonderful news and 2014 is surely going to be our best year yet.

Freddie is growing every day and he continues to amaze us with all he can do.

We have a wedding to first of all, plan and then enjoy and a luxury 5 ⭐family holiday to take. Hopefully Mr C's business will continue to go from strength to strength and we'll be able to enjoy a lovely way of life in 2014 as we have this year.

We continue to remember people who weren't able to spend 2013 with us and they will be carried in our thoughts, never to be forgotten. 

I hope that 2014 is a good year in terms of my blog. I thoroughly enjoying putting my thoughts down onto screen. It's therapeutic and sometimes, one of the only things to keep me sane. I want to continue to make and maintain wonderful friendships with fellow bloggers and I think 2014 may be the time for me to build some more relationships with some more brands.

As always, I'm thankful for our good health and our happy home. 

I hope you'll continue to read my little piece of cyber-space. To all, a Happy New Year and I sincerely hope that 2014 is wonderful for us all. 

2013: A Year in Photographs

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Christmas 2013

Mummy and Daddy got a rare chance to let our hair down so we took advantage and visited the Christmas Markets in Manchester in the run up to Christmas Eve. 

On Christmas Eve, we slept at my parents house where Freddie was allowed to stay up later than usual. He celebrated this occasion by eating his body weight in Pringles, emptying a tin of Roses over his head and rugby tackling the puppy in excitement. He also opened a Christmas Eve present, his Vtech Toot Toot Construction Set.

I didn't quite realise how many presents I'd actually bought for F! I had been purchasing bits and pieces every so often and when it came to laying them out on Christmas Eve, I was shocked at the amount! 

Some of his favourite presents were his Toot Toot construction set and car garage, his Freddie the Fire Engine Trunki and his Buzz Lightyear slippers!

My favourite gift was quite simply the fact that we were able to spend quality time as a trio. Mr C works very long hours so we don't often get chance to enjoy each others company for such a long time! 

It wasn't all sweetness & light though. We had spent alot of money to go to a lovely restaurant for our Christmas dinner with all our family members;  F on the other hand, had different ideas! From the minute we got there he screamed. I was so conscious that every other diner had paid lots of money to enjoy a meal that we spent the whole time sat in the car taking it in turns to eat a course! Here we are but as you can tell, I couldn't stay mad at his cheeky face for long! 

Christmas Day Night was spent playing the usual games and over-eating however our little festive elf was overwhelmed and was glad to hit the sack joined by all his favourite Toy Story characters! 

Did you all have a lovely Christmas? 

Any disasters like ours? 

Friday, 27 December 2013

A-Z of Me.

I was tagged by Emma at Crazy with Twins to do an A-Z of me! Here it is; 

A is for: A Whole Nine Months

My blog which, after F, is my second baby. I started it whilst pregnant and it's somehow carried on and we're approaching two years now. I really enjoy the community of blogging and having somewhere to document the hilarity which we call life raising a toddler.

B is for: Bride

On 1st August 2014, I will be a bride!

C is for: C Max

My new car is a Ford C Max. It's my 'fun bus' and my pride and joy!

D is for: Dentist

This is a difficult one for me as even writing the word brings me out in sweats! I have a horrific dental phobia which at times, threatens to rule my life. It's so hard for me as I have no idea what I'm scared of but being unable to pinpoint an exact cause makes it harder for me to understand or overcome. I'm currently having hypnotherapy for the issue and it is my new years resolution to begin to solve the problem! 

E is for: Education

I studied Primary Education at Edge Hill University. I graduated with a 2:1 honors degree in 2011.

F is for: Freddie

Need I say more? He's the star of the show & my whole life. 

G is for: Grandad

I am incredibly close to my Grandad, so much so that I named my son after him! I love him to the moon and back. He's the nicest man I've ever had the pleasure to meet.

H is for: Honeymoon

After our wedding in August (Did I mention I'm getting wed?) we are going on an amazing honeymoon to Cape Verde. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity in the most amazing 5 star hotel. 

I is for: Impatient

I'm incredibly impatient. When I want something doing I will have to do it there and then. I can't stand to wait for anything. I like to think of it as determined and driven however Mr C would probably describe it as bossy and annoying! 

J is for: Jessica

My real name.

K is for: Kite.

Because I couldn't think of anything else!

L is for: Liverpool.

This is where Mr C is from and where we lived pre-F. F was born there so apparently this makes him 50% Scouse however I think he's a Yorkshire man through and through. 

M is for: My Mother

I have the most amazing relationship with my Mum. She really is my best friend. 

N is for: Next

My most favourite shop. I buy literally everything for F from there. I love it!

O is for: Optimist

P is for: People

I'm a people person and love to be surrounded by 'people'. I hate been alone.

Q is for: Questions

I'm very

R is for: Rob

Mr C's real name.

S is for: Slimming World

I am currently on the Slimming World plan & I've lost 3 stones so far!

T is for: Tidy.

I am very tidy and I hate having a messy home. I throw so much stuff away as I can't bear to hoard!

U is for: University

University literally changed my life. Yes I got a degree but I also gained so much more than that. I gained independence, lifelong skills and earnt so much respect for my parents. I was a dreadful teen and our relationship improved so much when I moved away and developed a real appreciation of both of them.

V is for: Vet

I wanted to be a vet when I 'grew up' but I'm scared of or dislike 99% of animals!

W is for: Worrier.

When I can't sleep, I am a hideous worrier. I worry about the most ridiculous things that will never happen!

X is for: X Ray

I've never had one.

Y is for: Yorkshire. 

The place we call home.

Z is for: Zebra.

Because I couldn't think of anything else.

Monday, 23 December 2013

A Very Merry Christmas

I really can't believe how fast December has actually gone!

Luckily I've been very organised in terms of buying the presents but everything else had gone to pot till today as I was struck down with the dreaded sick bug. It really is typical. 

Ever the optimist, as a result of lots of sickness & toilet trips (sorry if you're eating your supper!) I managed to lose 5lbs in 5 days which means I've lost 3 stones now! I'm not going to start my raving again but Slimming World has really changed my life! 

Today has been hectic to say the least. We have Mr C's parents joining us for the festivities so I've had to clean the house top to bottom, paint 2 rooms and tackle the Christmas shop!

Luckily we are going out to a restaurant for dinner which meant I didn't have to stock up on all the turkey & trimmings etc. Every year I say that next year we'll go away on our own but it never seems to transpire and here we are again, ready for a hectic Christmas involving 17 of us! I suppose that is what Christmas is about!

We will wake up at my Mum & Dad's house as we stay over there on Christmas Eve so they can watch Freddie open his gifts. This will be followed by a mass breakfast of lovely butties & bucks fizz! 

Me & Mr C have agreed no presents but he's a sneaky one and I'm sure I may have a couple of treats under the tree!

I've promised Mr C that all social media & blogging will be banned so I can enjoy every second together without my phone attached to my hand!

So I'll take this opportunity; from myself, Mr C and of course Freddie, to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas! X

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

My Slimming World Journey

I don't normally post about things like this however as it's such a massive part of my life right now, I thought it deserved a small mention. If I bore you, do scroll past. If I can inspire you, then that's wonderful.

I've been following the Slimming World plan for about 19 weeks now and the results have been phenomenal. I've lost over 2.5 stones (37.5lbs) in that relatively small space of time with minimal fuss or stress.

Although I didn't put on too much weight whilst pregnant, I found that after F's birth I was so busy that I struggled for time when it came to cooking healthy home cooked meals. Within Fred's first year I'd put on quite a bit of weight and it'd started to affect my fitness and health so I decided to make a change. 

Initially I had preconceived stereotypes that everyone would be old and gigantic. They aren't. I am probably one of the youngest but there are women there of all shapes and sizes, after all we are all different and we have different goals & ideals etc.

I've always been 'bigger' but I was no way Rik Waller. (My apologies to any Rik fans out there!) And I certainly didn't want to be a size 0. I wanted to be healthy and happy with myself. I was worried that this would be expected and the pressure would be intense.

It isn't. You set your own goals and there is no time scale. I still want to lose another 1.5 stones but that is up to me, not anyone else or my group consultant. We laugh and call it fat fighters (a la Little Britain) but it really has  changed my life. I feel much healthier and my confidence has increased ten fold. Sometimes as a new mum it's easy to forget yourself but I feel better than I have in years.

The meals are easy to cook and we all eat the same, even 15 month old Freddie. They are all homemade and fresh and although they are a little more expensive than buying a microwave ready meal, they are substantial and nutritious for us all.

There is a stereotype of slimming clubs but honestly, if you are reading this and you feel like you need a kick up the arse in the new year, I implore you to go for it. 

*This is not a 'review' or a 'sponsored post'. It is in no way affiliated with Slimming World and I've received no financial reward. This is just my story as a normal mum.*

Monday, 16 December 2013

The Lurgy.

You know Christmas is around the corner when everyone starts coming down with the dreaded lurgy.

It's sod's law.

Twitter has been awash with parents pleading with their poorly offspring, desperate for even an hours unbroken sleep.

And Saturday, it was our turn to don the matchsticks and attempt an allnighter with only the remaints of Freddie's breakfast, lunch and dinner to keep us company! Yak!

When I checked on him before going to bed, his bedroom stank! The poor little Mister had vomited everywhere. I soon realised that I was the most unorganised mother in the world and only had one set of bedding! Nightmare! 

We spent the whole night, every single minute, awake watching Mr Tumble re-runs on YouTube. He was literally haunting me every time I attempted to close my eyes! Things turned even worse when Fred was sick all over my bed so we were well and truly buggered! I definitely need to invest in some spare bedding!

On a brighter note, Freddie is much better and it seemed to be a short lived thing, luckily! Fingers crossed we've got it out of the way before the festivities start properly!

If you're feeling under the weather, get well soon! 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Our Visit to see Father Christmas.

This week we took Freddie to meet Father Christmas. 

This was the first time he'd been as he was only a baby last year so it was particularly exciting!

The grotto was at our local farm shop and it was amazing. They had goats dressed up as reindeer which Freddie thought was hilarious,  a winter wonderland, Santa's sweet shop which doubled as the waiting room and then Santa's grotto itself. 

It's one of my most favourite places to go as whatever the occasion, they always make a massive spectical.

Nana came with us and we had the most wonderful time.

Initially Freddie was a bit reserved and was clung to my side which isn't like him at all! He's normally very curious and confident around new people but seeing a man dressed in a red suit with a gigantic beard shocked him somewhat, unsurprisingly! 

He soon warmed to him, especially once he'd realised the fact that he got a free toy! We chose a beautiful teddy bear which will be a lovely momentum. We asked Father Christmas for lots of Buzz Lightyear toys (and Mummy may have asked for a new Mulberry handbag! Hopefully Daddy will have been paying attention!) 

I love Christmas. It is my most favourite time of year, even more so now I have to make it magical for Freddie!

Have you been to visit Father Christmas yet?

What's on your wish list? 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Footprint Reindeer Cards

To continue with our Christmas Crafting theme, we made reindeer Christmas cards. They were super simple to make with minimal fuss but still a lovely keepsake momento to look back at next year to see how Freddie's feet have grown! 

They were so simple to make and I'm sure you don't need instructions. Rudolph's face is a footprint then a simple nose, eyes & the addition of antlers make it a lovely card to send to all your friends & relatives! 

Monday, 9 December 2013

Christmas Salt Dough Decorations

As a sentimental old sod, I decided last year that it would be our family tradition to purchase a bauble or Christmas decoration type thing which we'd hang on our tree up until Freddie was old enough to fly the nest. When the time eventually came, he would take said decorations with him and live in domestic bliss with an equally lovely female (who obviously mother has approved of) and together they wil carry on the tradition with the little Freddie Jr's of their own. Or so that is the plan. 

This year however I decided that we'd make our own for an extra oomph of sentimentality and also to earn some serious parenting brownie points to counteract the fact that we had both been in our pyjamas all day. 

As much as it pains me to admit, I aren't particularly 'arty farty' but these decorations were incredibly easy to make with minimal fuss or mess! 

Here is how we made our Homemade Salt Dough Christmas decorations.

Mix: 1 cup of flour

1/2 cup of salt
1/2 cup of water

And here is Freddie having a wonderful time, being an ever so compliant 15 month old decorating his salt dough with precision to rival Van Gough.

And as any mother of a 15 month old will know, this picture is a complete set up and within precisely 17 seconds he'd eaten the paint brush and smeared paint on all 4 corners of the living room! 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Winter Warmers: Carrot & Coriander Soup

Seen as though it's becoming ever so chilly, I've been spending lots of time in the kitchen making proper homemade Winter foods. You know the sorts that warm your tummy up on the inside? When we were young, I remember eating the same foods on a weekly rotation during winter as my Mum firmly believed that salads were practically outlawed in the winter! 

So here's this weeks 'Winter Warmer'.

Carrot & Coriander Soup

● 5 carrots
● 2 small onions
● 1 potato
● 1 veg stock cube
● handful of coriander
● salt & pepper

It's literally peel, dice & bung it all in with water to cover. I used my slow cooker for convenience to soften veg and then it's simply whizz with a hand blender. Simple! 

I leave the seasoning till afterwards as I like to freeze portions for Freddie but with a good sprinkle of salt & pepper and a handful of coriander to serve, it is delicious.

It's also FREE to anyone who follows the Slimming World plan. 

Nigella, eat your heart out! 

Our Review: Mamas & Papas Armadillo

My name is Jessica and I'm a pramaholic.

There I've said it. If there were such a thing, I'd be a fully pledged member of Pramaholics Anonymous. 

Fred is only just 15 months and he's already had 5 prams. That's near enough as many cars than Mr C has had in 17 years of driving. I just cannot seem to find a set of wheels that we can settle with, until now.

Meet the Mamas & Papas Armadillo...

Isn't she a beauty right? 

Rather than bore you with all the jargon, you can find all the important techy type info HERE!

Here's how we've got on with it; 

Normally retailing for £199.99, we made a wonderful saving on the Armadillo by buying an ex-display model from M&P in Leeds. Although more expensive than some of your typical strollers, this isn't a typical stroller however and well worth the money.

Our first set of wheels were an expensive travel system that paid three times as much as the Armadillo for and I can honestly say, this is much better.

From the extra large shopping basket and the XL hood and the easy multi position recline system, it isn't a normal buggy. I found that Fred was already outgrowing his previous buggy at only 14 months old whereas the Armadillo has a wriggle room seat that is designed to last till approx 3-4 years with lots of room to stretch, making it perfect for larger toddlers who aren't able to walk for very long.

I particularly like the full recline combined with the XL hood which makes it like a cosy cocoon in there. I'm honestly jealous when I see Freddie in there having a nap! We bought the M&P universal footmuff also which makes the whole thing extra snuggly! The peek a boo window means you can keep a close eye on them whilst they are all snuggly without having to disturb them.

I always presumed that we couldn't have it all. Our previous pushchair didn't recline but folded down really small meaning that it was wonderful for space saving in the car but not so good for comfort. The Armadillo folds down in one piece and opens in seconds using just one hand, perfect when you've got bags of shopping or a baby on your arm! 

If I'm honest, I really cannot think of any faults with this pushchair. It is more expensive than some of it's rivals but it hands down beats the 5 other prams we've had any day. It is also compatible with a car seat (with adaptors priced at £29.95) so for £230 you can have a complete travel system which will last from birth to 3-4 years. In terms of competitors prices, this is significantly cheaper than other big brand names.

Initially I wasn't over keen on the lemon drop colour however it's now definitely grown on me and we have got so many compliments and admiring glances. The Armadillo is also available in Coral Pink, Stripe, Blue Fizz & Black Liquorice so there is something to suit everyone. 

Fred likes his that much that he wants to sit in it inside as well as out! 

We award the Mamas & Papas Armadillo:

5 stars!

*Although this is a review piece, we bought the Armadillo with our own money. We have received no financial reward and all views expressed are my own*

I have linked up with the #TriedTested link over at We're Going on an Adventure!