I didn't know whether I should write this letter. I didn't know you nor do I know your Mummy. But I want her to know just how much you have touched hearts far and wide.
You have touched my heart a million times over and you've influenced how I raise my own child. Funny really as I've never met you and you're just a baby, not much older than my own. You have left such a legacy and you live on in so many hearts that you'll never be forgotten.
These letters won't heal your Mummy's heart though. It was shattered when you were so cruelly taken, I'm sure. She has gone through something that no parent ever wants to experience. She's done you proud though. She's a real fighter and to endure every day with a shattered heart is no easy task.
I remember the day you passed, still so vivid. The sad mood that engulfed Twitter; mothers and fathers awash with sheer heartbreak. No one should go through that. It isn't fair. There are no words. You are still with her though. You must be. She climbs mountains just to get through a day and that would be impossible if you weren't with her. You live on in the hearts of everyone who loves you. A shining star, sadly taken way too soon. So even though I didn't know you, even though I'd never met you; We'll blow bubbles for you. Hundreds and hundreds of bubbles, floating on to heaven's playground. So this week especially, you are in my thoughts, as are your precious Mummy and your family. Keep them strong. Show them that you are still with them, every step of the way. Much love xx
A few months ago I saw Busy Bee Mummy Bex's Take on the Alphabet Wall and I was well and truly inspired. It is amazing. Mr C is a joiner so of course I expected that he'd be able to cut me some letters no problem. I asked him and he begrudgingly agreed. That was 5 months ago. Up until last week, we still didn't have an alphabet wall. What is it they say? If you want something doing, do it yourself. That's the one isn't it. Unfortunately I'm in no way as creative as Bex so we were never going to have anything as amazing but I've found a solution for the uncrafty, useless husband types like myself... Mamas & Papas Alphabet Wall Stickers
As you can see they look really effective. At £16 for the full alphabet, they are a much cheaper alternative than a traditional alphabet wall with wooden letters. They are also significantly cheaper than the wall stickers from other companies. They were incredibly easy to put up and stuck on the wall with ease. They are also removable and restickable if you want to move them. We are moving house in a few months so we'll be able to take them with us. They are also wonderful for brightening up a child's room if you live in a rented property where you aren't able to decorate. The walls in Freddie's room are a textured wall paper and because our house is incredibly old, they aren't particularly straight so I was worried whether they'd stay in place or even stick in the first place. I was pleased to find that they went on no problem and have even withstood Freddie's attempts to peel them off!
If you're looking for wall stickers I'd definitely recommend these. You can buy them here. They are also available in Metallic Stars & Trees.
Although only 16 months, I've been comtemplating moving Freddie into a 'Big Boy Bed' for a few weeks. He's very big for his age and I found that he was waking in the night as a result of bashing his limbs against the cot sides. When I made the decision to move him into his cot bed I worried about how I was going to keep him in there and prevent him falling out in the night. Initially we considered a bed guard but I wasn't keen. I worried he'd fall over it or stand up against it and it'd collapse. I also thought this was adding another stage into the transition from cot to bed. I then debated putting the sofa cushions onto his floor in case he fell out but figured that it'd be pretty uncomfty sat on the sofa with no cushions in the evening! It also wasn't a long term solution. I came across a review of the 'Bed Bumper' on My Mills Baby (the power of social networking!) and thought that it looked a wonderful concept, something of which I was eager to try.
Bed Bumpers are by Purple Daisies who specialise in "clever kit for pre-school kids" The Bed Bumper is an innovative, simple and cosy bed guard which allows your little one to make the transition from cot to 'Big Bed' easily and safely , whatever the size or type of bed. In essence, it is a shaped foam wedge that fits underneath the sheet to create a barrier to stop the child falling out of bed. It is aimed at babies and children up to the age of 5 years.
It comes in a standard size and a mega size but extension pieces are available so it caters for all bed types. It is also available in a single or double pack. Freddie's cot bed is against a wall so I purchased a single original bed bumper. It is 100cm and fitted his Mamas & Papas cot bed perfectly. Priced at only £9.99, it is a much cheaper alternative than some of it's rivals. Freddie sleeps over at his Grandparents house regularly so the Bed Bumper is ideal that it is so portable and doesn't need to be fitted like a traditional bed guard. It simply slips under the sheet which holds it in place. The only downside for us is that our sheet doesn't have much stretch and struggles to fit over the Bed Bumper but that isn't any fault of the product. I'd suggest having a stretchy valance sheet to accommodate the Bed Bumper. Purple Daisies also sell an Extra Deep Fitted Sheet which is perfect to hold the non-slip bed bumper.
I popped in to check on Freddie a few tomes during the night and he was cosy and secure in his cot bed, nestled in by the Bed Bumper. This morning he woke and climbed over it no problems so I don't have to worry about him tripping over a bulky metal guard. I am happy to report that night one of 'Operation Big Boy Bed' was a huge success and part of that triumph I credit to our Purple Daisies Bed Bumper.
* I purchased the Bed Bumper with my own money and have received no financial reward for this review. All words are my own *
Freddie doesn't have a playroom as such as we are short of space in our little Yorkshire cottage. We have however created a space for him to house his toys although they don't often stay in this designated area and often end up around the house.
We are also short of garden space which means somehow we've ended up with a climbing frame in the house. On the plus side, this means he can use it all the time without having to venture outside in the cold.
Our best buy was definitely the Ikea storage units and baskets. Since this photograph we've invested in two more so all Fed's toys are now tidied into relevant boxes that make things easier to find.
The play mats are wonderful. We bought them from ELC in the sale and they have proved invaluable. We use them for messy play, crafting, baking & also a soft landing for any falls off the climbing frame!
I have linked up with Oh So Amelia for her Share It Sundays.
As much as I like to let F have free play and make his own choices as to what he plays with and how he plays, from time to time I also like to stage activities to encourage him to broaden his attention span and imagination. He got lots of construction related toys for Christmas (my friends must be very stereotypical!) and so far they'd been thrown around and chewed. Yesterday we made our very own building site. Yes it was messy, yes quite a lot of sand was consumed but the outcomes were wonderful.
Rice (or anything similar for different sensory textures)
Ideally I would have liked to carry out this activity using one of the giant gardening trays that are available from garden centres. I've not got round to buying one yet but his water tray proved an ideal alternative.
I used the sand and the rice for different textures however at our playgroup we use compost. Anything with a different texture is ideal for sensory play.
He really enjoyed picking the sand up in the diggers and tipping it out again. The mess mat proved invaluable in salvaging my carpet and is definite a best buy in toddler play time!
We played together and I told Freddie all about what we were playing with. He was using the word 'yak' lots (although not strictly a word!) as I kept saying it when he was attempting to devour the sand.
He also learnt to use the word sand and was proudly telling me what it was whilst strewing it around my living room!
We played with a little man who was wearing a hat and F told me this was 'Dada'. Daddy is a joiner so often comes home in his high vis and puts his hard hat on for F so it showed just how good his memory is becoming and how he can relate different circumstances.
We played together for about 15 minutes and then I let F carry on independently. He lasted about 5 minutes which for him, to focus his attention on one activity for such a length of time is wonderful. He loved the different textures and pushing his trucks through the sand.
I felt like he got lots out of this activity and although hard, I even managed to remain positive when he carried the tray through into the kitchen and tipped all the sand/rice combo onto my freshly mopped floor!
We're going to try some more activities in his tray over the next few weeks so keep activities eye out.
I have now been blogging for near enough two years and I am becoming more and more passionate about this each day. I have said before of how I love the blogging world.
I love the community.
I love how there is someone there whatever the time of day.
I love how there is someone there who's been through whatever I may be going through at that one particular time.
I love that I am making new friends all the time.
I love how these friends are able to recommend, advise and reassure.
I love how I have a constant document of my son's early years.
I love how one post brings back a thousand memories. A few words bring smells, feelings and emotions flooding back to me. It's almost as if I have that newborn in my arms all over again.
That's a gift.
Blogging to me, is a gift.
And now I'm looking for a gift.
Well not quite a gift as such. Maybe a favour? Or a helping hand? Or a mutual relationship with a wonderful brand who can also reap the benefits of A Whole Nine Months.
I am looking for sponsorship for BritMums live.
BritMums Live is the UK biggest social media conference and blogger event.
It takes place over two days; 20 & 21 June 2014.
It is where lifestyle bloggers and social influences meet and socialise, network their brands, improve their skills and fire their creativity.
More information about the event can be found HERE.
So what am I looking for?
Ideally, sponsorship to help fund fund this event. With only working part-time, planning a wedding and funding a toddler's pretty heavy obsession with toy trucks then we've not got much cash to spare at the minute.
I live in Yorkshire so obviously the geographics will involve a fairly long train journey to London, the cost of which I'm currently unsure. This will also involve a one night stay in London which will be approximately £150.
I will also require a ticket which are £98.03.
In return for the sponsorship I will be offering a very generous package. This can be negotiated but will include something along the lines of:
An advert on my homepage with direct link to your website for 12 months.
A post introducing your brand as my Britain's sponsor.
Your brand name mentioned in all my tweets and posts regarding BritMums.
I will use your product/wear your item at BritMums if applicable.
To review your product and feature a piece on A Whole Nine Months with link back to your website.
To feature your logo & or contact details on my business cards which I will hand out at the event.
Host a competition/giveaway on my blog.
As I mentioned above, these can be tailored and I will consider any other ideas of sponsorship.
I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE I'VE EVER RECEIVED! I'm a shopper. An avid shopper. Some (Mr C) would say I'm a shopaholic. I go in a lot of shops. I buy a lot of things. Especially child-related things. They are my weakness.
On Boxing Day I hit the shops at Birstall Leeds Retail Park to see if I could bag a bargain. Freddie was riding in style in his Mamas & Papas Armadillo. You'll have seen on Twitter how I'm ridiculously impressed I am with this pram. It is the best I've ever had apart from one thing... our broken handle covers! Within a week, my delightful child took it upon himself to feast on the foam that covered the handle. Within seconds he'd staked it out, like as lion on it's prey and devoured it! How a fifteen month old can be so agile, I'll never know. It goes without saying, I was devastated. Whilst shopping I decided to ask one of the advisors in store if there was anything I could do about said pram. She must have heard the despair in my voice about my beloved purchase that she said she'd see what she could The lovely advisor (I think she was named Joanne & I profusely apologise because she gave me asking feedback card with her name on and it took asking unfortunate trip in the washing machine.) couldn't have been more helpful. The end result? They replaced my pram. Free of charge. Just like that. It was no fault of theirs. No fault within the pram. They just genuinely cared about their customer and obviously have exceptional levels of customer service. They didn't know that I was a parent blogger. There was no advantage to be gained on their behalf. I sincerely hope that people reading this may be inclined to make their next purchase there, safe in the knowledge that their customer service is paramount. They care. And these days, that is rare. Thank you Mamas & Papas.
In this current climate, it's inevitable that cuts are made. They can not be avoided, there is no doubt about that.
It still hurts when you are hit with said cuts however and today, we were.
Ever since F was a few weeks old, we have used our local children's centre. It has been a place where I've made friends, sought advice and even a haven when this thing we call parenting got too much.
When I moved into the area, I had no friends who were local. My two best friends live a 30 minute drive away and neither have children yet so my local area could have potentially been a sad place. There was potential for loneliness, isolation and the depths of postnatal depression but luckily, it was there.
I haven't used all of it's resources as I've had no need but I do know it's a lifeline for people who may have postnatal depression, for those with debt problems, relationship issues or who just need that helping hand.
We have used it predominantly for the social aspect but most of all, for Freddie development. We did baby massage at 6 weeks, tiny tots and baby bundle. We've enjoyed classes and courses and even and 'school trip'. These classes were structured, organised, planned and run by a professional.
That's what I love about them. That they are specially designed for our children with education and development in mind.
Use a playgroup you may say? Yes we could but I find that Freddie is still a little too young. He doesn't do well with free play yet, he throws things and gets in the way of other, older children. He prefers structured activities with an outcome, where he's supported and stimulated. This may be because of my educational background or my insane need to control and for routine but I appreciate the classes at children's centres. I credit them for my son's advanced milestones, for his development, for his social skills and in part, his happiness.
At a playgroup there isn't much for a baby to do. For mothers who aren't very creative or imaginative it can be hard to think of things to do to aid their babies development. Classes at children's centres help in this. They teach parents how to teach their children and how to help them learn vital skills in their early skills.
Our centre is being affected because of council cuts. It is going to be an 'outreach centre' which in affect, is an empty building with a receptionist who can prompt you to other services in other areas. No classes, no professional, no life.
It won't be what we're used to. It won't be what we want and what our children currently love.
We are meant to be grateful that the building remains open. This is of no use to my son, that he can access debt advice by going to ask the receptionist to make a phone call for him.
Why have we been affected? Because of our postcode. We live in a 'nice' area with low levels of poverty. We have paid a premium for our postcode. Many work hard to afford to pay this premium and allow our children to be brought up in this area.
Why should our children be punished because of our desire to raise them in an area where they are safe?
I understand that we don't have a high level of need for debt advice or back to work help. Many don't need help with alcohol problems and the majority are willing to attend, they aren't typical 'hard to reach' families. These are parents that appreciate and enjoy these centres. They value them and are grateful.
This is shown in the attendance figures. All classes are oversubscribed. Parents in this area aren't hard to reach. They are here, they are wanting their child to be immersed in this.
They are getting punished.
I'm not getting into politics as to be honest, I don't really understand it. I understand cuts need to be made. I understand we don't have enough money. They are keeping our centres open that are in more deprived areas. The areas were there is more young parenting, drug and alcohol misuse, crime levels and poverty. I am all for supporting these people. All for it.
But what about postnatal depression? What about supporting mothers who need that additional help. I'm not sure on exact figures but just because the people who live in my area have more money, doesn't mean they aren't affected by this. Why should they be discriminated against?
We could access services in other areas but not in our community. I'm lucky, I drive. Some mothers don't. They may have to take several bus journeys to get to these with may isolate them further. They are also cutting staff numbers so the classes will be practically inaccessible because there will be one centre dealing with the demands of four or five communities.
What I do understand is that I am upset. I am mourning the service not just for Freddie but for my future children. Our children's centre was a massive part of Fred's first year.
One of .my resolutions this year was to blog more consistently and in order to do this, I'm going to start joining in 'linkys' and do weekly posts on A Whole Nine Months.
To kick us off, we're going to resume 'Fashionable Friday'. This is something that I briefly tried last year but it wasn't regular whereas I'm hoping this time round it can become more of a weekly post.
I love fashion but since having Fred, I seem to concentrate on his wardrobe more than my own; something which most mothers will sympathise with!
I like him to look fashionable but I'm also conscious that his clothes are comfortable whilst also being affordable but durable and hard-wearing.
I've been thinking about it for a while and last night I decided to stop debating and move F into a big boy bed. He's been bashing hit cot sides for a good few months now and although only 16 months he's fast approaching the size of a 2 or 3 year old which is making his time in his cot problematic logistically. We are staying at my parent's house at the minute whilst they are on holiday so I presumed that this would be the best time to do it. The travel cot is incredibly uncomfortable for him and they have a large king bed that isn't very high so I presumed that we'd start off bigger so he'd be used to having no barriers by the time came to take them off his cot at home. Initially he was wonderful. He's a very adaptable child and sort of gets on with anything, taking it in his stride. He even looked quite proud of all his space once bed time came and although I worried, he went straight to sleep. Like the big boy he is in his big boy bed. All was well until 12am when we retreated off to bed and must have disturbed him. At this point he must have panciked at not being in the familiar surroundings and safety of his own cot and the fun and games began and inevitably, operation Big Boy Bed was cancelled. Understandably he was probably perplexed to say the least. He's a baby (I use the term loosely seen as though he's in age 2-3 clothing!) and a big bed may have been daunting compared to his cosy 'cage'. He was shouting for me, shouting for his Dad Dad, shouting for Nana (who's 4000 miles away!) and then trying his luck shouting for the dog, who was, the only person that wanted to play with him at 2am. I quickly abandoned the bed idea and erected the travel cot where he soon went back to sleep, albeit after more shouting for the dog. Now I'm thinking we moved him too quickly. After all, he's still a baby. And I do want to keep him a baby forever. Then I thought I'd given in too quickly and reverted to the easy option of placing him in the confines of the travel cot. I'm not used to perserverence as *touch wood* he's always adapted to whatever changes we've made with no problem at all. Should we skip the double bed and wait till we get home to take the sides off the cot? Should I perservere and cope with a few nights unbroken sleep? Should we wait? This parenting malarky is hard work.