Monday, 31 October 2016

Halloween Celebrations!

They're creepy and they're kooky,
Mysterious and spooky,
They're all together ooky,
Our Little Family.


Halloween is almost my joint second favourite holiday (apart from that big one in December, of course), so I like to make sure we make a big deal of it and make it fun for the kids. Long story short but the last two halloweens we haven't enjoyed as I would have liked to. Halloween 2014 I was preparing for my best friends funeral, and Tommys first surgery. Last year I was 9 months pregnant had almost lost the ability to walk (and smile, it seemed). So this year I really wanted to make a big deal about it and show the kids some of the Halloween Spirit they'd been missing out on! Annoyingly it falls on a Monday this week, so with school runs and business, we will only be able to manage Trick or Treatimg, so had to do our celebrations on the weekend, which the kids absolutely loved. Grace even saying "you're the most amazingly creative mummy I've ever seen" (thanks Pinterest), and it was the first one I've truly enjoyed for a couple of years.
On Saturday we all got dressed up and we took the kids to a Halloween party.
(L-R) Dracula, Devil witch, Me(!), Chuckie, a broken doll, and of course, our little pumpkin!

Sunday morning, we spent carving pumpkins for the pumpkin competition at our local pub. After some hard graft and the house stinking of pumpkin (not in a good way), we headed off to the pumpkin competition-where I won the adult category!!

My Winning Pumpkin!

We then came home and did some Halloween painting and drawings, whilst our spooky evening meal cooked. We even put a blanket down and ate in the living room whilst watching The Addams Family, and drunk blood (juice with food colouring).






We even decorated the house to get fully into the Halloween spirit-granted some of the decorations are up all year round!




And even the cat got in the spirit!

All in all it was a brilliant day for us all and we loved celebrating-it was over too fast! So that's it about Halloween from me and my little Pumpkins until next year.... Now can I say the C-word yet?! 🎄 🎁 

Lucy x

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Smiggle Xmas Party 🎉

As it's coming up to Christmas, me and my girls were really excited to be invited to the Smiggle Xmas Party!

So Smiggle (where a smile meets a giggle-you see what they did there?), if you don't already know is like Disneyland for stationary, with pencil cases of all kinds, colour changing pencils, notebooks and diaries that are out of this world, funky erasers and pencil sharpeners, pretty much everything you would need in that department except 10x cooler than you would expect-but then it goes above and beyond with its little gadgets and off-the-hook essentials you didn't know you needed until you walked through the door. I'm talking glitter lamps, fluffy key rings, magic 8 balls, the funkiest lunch boxes, silicone watches that only tell you the time when you touch them and fold up headphones. And so much of it is SCENTED!


It's no secret that I am a massive stationary fan-I don't even think 'fan' is the right word. Obsessive? Addict? You get the picture. If in doubt, buy me stationary (it's my birthday next week 😉) and both my girls share this love, so when we were invited to check out their new bits, we all jumped at the chance. 
We were invited to the store in the Trinity Centre, Leeds, where there was mince pies and juice, and we were able to browse the shops goodies with much help from the friendly, cheerful staff who were clearly as excited to work there as I was to just be there! The shop was literally top to bottom with colourful exciting things, and although the shop was compact, there was plenty of stuff to look at and the staff were really helpful and knew the products well.


We entered a competition to win a party there, all whilst trying out the smiggle pens and we eyed up the brand new advent calendars-25 days of a different smiggle treat every day of December. How cool is that? 
So just as I thought our letters to santa were ready to be sent, we've added a whole lot more to the list and crossed our fingers. 
Here's a few of the bits we fell in love with. 

Yes that is a money box where a cat pops out and sneaks your money away with its teeny paw. Esmee's favourite!



Grace's favourite was the foldable silicone water bottles (top shelf) which also had a little clip to attack to your bag or lunch box. Very very cool and may find its way to the North Pole for her 😉


Also monkey versions of the stealing money boxes, 3D zombie pencil cases and plenty of little craft kits. Perfect for stockings (the advent calendars are at the bottom!)


This was my favourite pencil case (or one of them) with the jewel effect zip 😍

And finally my girls with their goodie bags after a wonderful morning! Thanks smiggle-we will definitely be back!!


Monday, 24 October 2016

My Pregnancy And Birth Story: Part N

As my sweet fifth baby turns one at the end of next week, I wanted to reflect and share the journey we had to welcome him into the world. Also, as with any birth story although I've tried to keep gory details to a minimum, there are bits of this story which may be slightly TMI!

Josh and I in London, pre pregnancy test!

14th February 2015

Josh and I went to London for some very rare couple time together with no kids (!!). Naturally we got drunk, because if I wasn't drunk, did I really make the most of my child-less time? So we boarded the train to London and cracked open the koppaberg and started to unwind. After the first tiny can I had such bad heartburn and felt a bit weird and although pregnancy was my first thought, I pushed it to the back of my mind and put it down to likely starting drinking in the morning and my lack of being able to handle my drink any more.
The night went on (we had an amazing time in London by the way) and as I got more drunk I was thinking more and more about how strange I was feeling, and sat in a pub in Trafalgar Square mentioned it to Josh, and after him asking if I was thinking what he was thinking, we were on the same page! So like two excited teenagers we went over the road to Boots and bought a pack of two pregnancy tests. I literally dread to think what that woman thought as she served me, swaying and quite possibly hiccupping!

So, massive anti-climax, I did a test and it was negative. Weird. I'm so in tune with my body, and I honestly have always just "known" I was pregnant. And this time was no different, only a pregnancy test was telling me different.
Except I woke up the next morning, and there was a line that had developed overnight. Albeit faint, but I'm sure the saying goes "a line is a line"? After googling, and becoming even more confused (and growing more and more obsessed) by our situation, I did still have one test left. So the next day I took it, and although still faint, there was definitely a line. Ten pregnancy tests later, I started to believe it. I was pregnant!!

Baby Numero Cinqo

I was so so sick pretty much straight away, and (tmi warning) because my cycles hadn't returned properly with still breastfeeding Tommy, I was unsure of my dates, so we payed for a private ultrasound (a really posh place where I sat in the car park barfing into a Burger King bag-classy as ever) to give us a rough idea, which put us at about 7 weeks and confirmed there was just one teeny tiny dementor living in my womb, sucking the very being out of me. 
I had never ever been this sick before in any of my pregnancies, so looking after four children, breastfeeding one, and not being able to move without throwing up really took its toll on me, and I had lost about a stone by my booking in appointment at 10 weeks.
The doctors had said if it didn't improve, my best option may be to have IV fluids at the hospital, but miraculously the following week, although my sickness didn't fully leave for the full pregnancy, I did start feeling more human.

The weeks went on, we had scans, appointments, we told friends, family, the children were really excited, it was a lovely pregnancy apart from the sickness, and it flew fast.

29 weeks!

On our first wedding anniversary, as a family we went for a 4d scan, to see our baby for the last time before we would meet him/her. These scans freak some people out, I can see why. But for us, this was just lovely bonding time. I've had 4d scans with all except my eldest, and it really helps me visualise my baby, and the children love having a photo on their wall of their soon-to-be-here sibling. You can see their little features, they suck their thumbs, roll, yawn, stretch. It's amazing to picture an actual baby. 

Late To The Party

My "due date" (I hate that term) came and went. Although of course I knew babies came in their own time and the due date was just an estimate, I didn't expect to be making it 9 days past the date they had given me, and onto my own birthday.
The day before my birthday I had started with mild contractions every 15 minutes that weren't going away but weren't getting stronger either. I got some rest, thinking it was probably the start of labour, and woke up at 1am and my contractions were getting more intense and I couldn't settle for toilet visits, so I rang parents to collect the older children as I didn't know how quickly it was going to progress, as my previous labours had been 3-4 hours once established. Turns out, it wouldn't be so quick. I tossed and turned all night as I had more and more surges getting more intense but just not strong enough. I woke up exhausted on my birthday, and spent a few hours bouncing, walking and trying to progress myself naturally. By lunch time I was having a contraction every 5-7 minutes and although I knew they weren't strong enough yet, Josh thought it was best we go to the hospital to just see what was going on.
We got there and sure enough, although the monitors were showing good strong contractions, my cervix wasn't thinning efficiently and wasn't dilating as fast as it maybe should have been, so we stayed at the hospital for a while longer just to see what was happening.

41+2 weeks pregnant

Now at this point, you can imagine my scenario. I was 9 days "overdue", heavy, I'd had no sleep, it was my birthday, I hadn't seen my children on my birthday yet, and was just told my body wasn't doing what it was supposed to be doing, and the more I thought about it, the more I wound myself up. Convinced I was going to need medical intervention, I stayed quiet for the rest of the day. Willing my body to do what it needed to do, what I knew it was capable of doing.
It was very important to me for my birth to be as intervention-free as possible. Ideally, I would have liked a home birth, but for a number of reasons, I decided to birth at the hospital.
And after spending 10 hours at the hospital, with surges coming every 5 minutes and having to breath through them, I was checked to have no cervical changes. Fucking devastating.
I was given options at this point, the midwife (who was lovely but I currently hated) explained she could break my waters if I wanted, but had no progress been made within 24 hours, having pitocin would be the best option. I cried. Convinced my dreams of a "perfect" birth were being flushed away. It took all of my strength to decline that intervention. I was ready to meet my baby, but I also wanted to meet my baby when he was ready. I wanted to give him and my body a chance. So we came home.

I had tried so hard to progress my labour, I had willed my body to do it, I had to just give up trying. Just temporarily. Just to rest.
We arrived home at 10.30pm and I slipped myself some codeine (that the midwife had given me) and tried to get sleep. I was still being woken every 5 minutes but managing to get sleep in between, and by 1am I was wide awake unable to rest. I ran myself a hot bath (not being patient enough to put any cold in and almost causing myself to pass out) and whilst in the bath I had my "bloody show" (google it, I'm not going into that right now).
It was at this point I started to relax, knowing that things were happening. I started to trust my body, and combined with the small amount of rest I'd got, things seemed to begin to progress a little bit more.
I wanted to stay at home as long as possible, to be totally honest I wanted to stay at home until he was born, then lay not moving in the comfort of our own home. But the time came, maybe 2am where the pressure was intense and I felt it was time, so I woke Josh up and asked him if he could take us to the hospital.

All of my labour notes from previous labours 😂

We arrived at the hospital, every step I took was bringing a contraction, I knew we were soon going to meet our beautiful baby. The midwives took me into the birthing centre where they ran the birthing pool where me and Josh planned to both get in to deliver our fifth child, I changed into my nightie and we put some meditation sounds/music on.
The midwife, Nicola examined me, and informed us I was 5cm dilated but still not effaced. Although I knew my body was being efficient, had I not had the examination I would have trusted my body, but the fact my cervix wasn't thinning was playing in the back of my head.
I just want to mention here, Nicola was the most amazing, understanding midwife I've come across in all of my pregnancies and labours. She read my birth plan thoroughly, she spoke to me, she listened to me, she understood me. She knew what I wanted and was respectful, and that really made her the exceptional midwife she was that day. Even in the heat of the moment, I could feel her positivity and understanding of me.
At about 5am I felt I needed to push, in fact, my body was pushing. In between the contractions, the music was giving me some focus and I really felt how euphoric this birth was. I still remember clearly how I smiled at the situation, at how truly happy I was in that moment. Something that doesn't come often for me.
I pushed for long enough (I even farted really loudly on one contraction-which was possibly the most embarrassing thing I've ever experienced) before Nicola asked if she could examine me, to check I wasn't pushing on my cervix. I agreed, as normally my babies were born in a few pushes
She said I was 8cm but still not effaced. My baby wasn't in the right position. At this point she realised he was in a position where his head wasn't fully on the cervix meaning my contractions weren't doing what they were supposed to do. Which made perfect sense. So she asked, and let me just give glory to that word, she asked me, she didn't tell me what she would like to do, she didn't say what she thought I should decide, she asked if I would like to break the waters, to which I said I would. I knew there was a strong possibility that his head would turn once the waters were broken. Although it wasn't what I had wanted in the beginning, it was what I felt was right to do now.

Noah about 1 hour old, being taken to get weighed

So at 6.10am Nicola broke my waters. At 6.13am after 3 pushes, our beautiful baby BOY was born. With a head full of hair and his daddy's nose, ten tiny fingers and toes, all 9lb 7oz of him was here. And my 32+ hours of labour had all been worth it.
He latched on and we fed for 40 minutes while I delivered the placenta. Something that, after 40 minutes wasn't detaching itself, so it was in our best interest to have the syntocinon to deliver the placenta. Which was fine, and off my placenta went to be made into capsules and smoothies (see previous post). I had my tea and toast, and lapped up the amazingness of my new baby boy, and we had some time together, just the three of us. Because it was early morning, we hadn't felt we needed to text anyone about his arrival straight away, we just laid together cuddling, in a perfect little love bubble. 
After about an hour, Noah was weighed and checked over, and I FaceTimed the children to see their new brother before anyone else did (got to love technology) and text everyone to notify them of his arrival. 
It was then that Nicola, because I didn't get to birth in water with josh as we had wanted and had interventions she knew I wasn't keen on having, mentioned something called 'rebirthing' to me. Something that I've never heard of before, despite my huge fascination and research of birth. Rebirthing is where mum and baby lay in a warm bath, for the baby to feel it is still in the womb. I talked to him, stroked him, he slept and we cuddled and fed, until we were both ready to emerge from the bath together. It was a beautiful bonding experience for us, and I would recommend to anyone to look it up (not to be confused with other rebirthing techniques, this one is specific to labour).

My drawing of a photograph of me and Noah 'rebirthing'

Noah's birth was truly amazing, it's made me cry just reliving it! I can't believe this was almost a year ago and my baby is now a walking talking little boy!

Lucy x

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Breastfeeding, Mean Girls and School Holidays

Exciting things are happening in the Fraser household! After being a stay-at-home mum (I would say housewife but that definitely doesn't apply), I've taken the step to become a breastfeeding peer supporter! I'm a few weeks into the course now and I am more than excited about finishing and starting to work on the post natal ward at my local hospital.

Our own breastfeeding journey is going well, though Noah is starting what can only be described as "gymnursestics" and I regularly get a swift kick to the face whilst he's still latched on-I am still loving our milk time together.

Also in the news recently there is a breastfeeding advert about to come out, and also supposedly a breastfeeding emoji too!
All positive things moving forward to a world where breastfeeding is normal!

Moving on from boobs, although it is my favourite topic, I had a realisation the past week or two-girls are mean!
Yes I know, I've always known girls can be catty, but this week for one reason or another (without delving too much into my eldest daughters private life), I've been shocked at how awful girls can be, and how it's shrugged off as "girl behaviour" instead of being addressed. Girls especially at a certain age are sensitive and mouldable, and for some reason or another seem to act out in a way to hurt others. It's heartbreaking but all I can do I suppose is be there for my daughter and guide her the right way.

The kids have broken up for half term, which happens to be my favourite half term because it's HALLOWEEN!! I will definitely have a post dedicated to my favourite time of year and the fun stuff we will be doing to celebrate!

Lucy x

Sunday, 9 October 2016

A Letter To My Youngest

Dear my sweet final babe,

Being the youngest of five must be hard. Up until your older sibling starting nursery mornings, you've never had the luxury of my full undivided attention, nor have I had the pleasure of absorbing every inch of your greatness without any distractions.
Though for numerous reasons, our relationship didn't start off perfectly, you reeled me in with your big enchanting eyes, and it didn't take long for me to be head over heels in love with you.
The thing is, you being my final child is hard for me too. Not because I don't love and enjoy you-I feel those things more than you could ever imagine. Being a mother is all I've ever known, you and your siblings are part of me, you all make me who I am. And I'm terrified of who I will be and what purpose I will have when no one needs me to brush their teeth, when no one needs an injury kissed, when my days and nights are quiet and my house is tidy.
I blinked and you grew. All of you. I was born to be a mother, although some days I feel the strain, some days I shout (I'm sorry), some days its too much-being your mother is my favourite thing to do and be in the whole world.
With all these things said, when you start to be independent, I start to miss the days you would feed all day long, needing me, forcing me to bond with you  (thank you-it worked), I miss getting to know you, soaking in every last bit of your changing appearance, sniffing every fibre of you, soaking up every last minute, willing it to last a bit longer. But it doesn't. Its gone in a flash.
I don't think I will ever not want another baby. The feeling of another life kick and roll inside my stomach, the excitement of what's to come, the joy at seeing my family grow, and the older ones to have the gift of becoming a sibling again-that yearning just never goes away, not just for myself, but for us all. I want to give you the gift of being an older sibling-you'd be an amazing one. I want another chance to cling on to that raw love that we all experience, to see my families hearts expand and see everyone become this new unit. But I also want to soak you up. The last time you need to be cuddled to sleep won't be overshadowed by the exciting prospect of a new life. We can explore the world at your pace without me being too tired or sick from growing another person. Although it pains me to ever say you are my last, I'm excited for our future. I'm excited to watch you grow with your older siblings.
I'm excited to plan the things you were maybe too young to do before now. I'm looking forward to it just being 'us'.

The decision is bittersweet, and I don't think it will ever not hurt to call you my last baby. But you deserve my 100%. I promise not to take you for granted, I promise to enjoy every stage of your development, and I promise to love you as I love your siblings, and make all of your lives full of joy, a joy that maybe couldn't be fully reached when I'm preoccupied with a baby.

I'm sorry I wont ever give you the gift of being an older sibling, but I'll make sure our choice will be worthwhile for the whole family. We have an amazing future ahead of us, and who knows-as situations change and things just happen, maybe one day you may get to be the big brother you would be so good at being. But for now, our decision is final-you will remain our youngest, and I'm happy with that.

Mum, x

Friday, 7 October 2016

Non-Label Parenting

Non-Label Parenting; A Friday Night Ramble.

Modern society likes to put a label on things. Thin, fat, miserable, weird, expensive, girly, boyish... a lot (all) of them really grind my gears. I hate labels.
A newish one I've heard is "attachment" parenting. If you haven't heard of it, it's when mums do things like breastfeed, co sleep, carry in slings, are super attentive to their babies needs and have a deep connection with their child. Basically just parenting back-to-basics. 
While it's nice to have a name for your values, and find a group of like minded friends, there doesn't seem to be a label for parents that do the opposite, or not one that I've heard, which leads people  to believe that "attachment parenting" is some new age trend, aside from the "normal" parenting that include cry it out methods, formula feeding and naughty step training you find in parenting books and on mum forums-all of which have been drilled into us to be the normal way of parenting. 

The truth is, all parents are parenting. There are no wrongs and no rights, just parents raising children to grow into the world and contribute in their own way with their own personalities. If we were all raised the same we wouldn't be able to have that, and it's a blessing in itself. 
My own personal values with parenting aren't necessarily the next persons, and although some may say I fit into a certain box, why should that define me as a parent? For the record I don't fit in a box. I do things my own way, not to a rule book. I like to do things naturally, I like to go with the flow, I'm just not crunchy enough to fit into that category. And I don't really want to.
I've learned a lot along the way and still continue to learn with parenting, and my views on a lot of things have changed over the last 10 years. But I still do things a lot differently to how a lot of other mums do things. Neither of us are wrong, but neither of us should be labelled or seen as normal. We are all PARENTING. All doing things our own way. 

I can't understand why society has turned doing things baby-led and through instinct into a strange thing. It's believed babies have to feed to a tight schedule, they're urged to sleep alone and through the night (and cry it out if they don't) parents are made to believe they need to teach their babies not to need us for long. That they need to get back to "normal" ASAP.  Which fits in with some people's lifestyle, and I'm not saying it's wrong. But why is it the parents that work with their children as a team from the get go, that get the label for going against the grain? Why is there even a grain to go against? Why should any persons parenting style or decisions be made to feel not right?

Parents, mothers in particular, can be so hard on other mums, and I know so many mothers feel obliged to go against their instincts out of fear of doing something society deems "not normal". I'm not trying to say what is wrong or right for others, I only know what is right for me and my family. And the things that are right for me are just normal parenting. No label. Just doing my job.

L x