Buying a Buggy…

As any long time readers of Florence Finds will know, or those who see me on Instagram, you’re much more likely to find me carrying my kids in a sling than pushing the buggy. We are huge fans of a woven wrap both for it’s closeness and convenience and before Cora was born the most use our Uppababy got was when my mum came once a week to look after Bea. However, once Cora arrived it started seeing a bit more action, although more as a pushchair with Bea than to put Cora in, as I think I would always choose to sling a baby and push a toddler. We were lucky and Bea became quite keen and proficient on her scooter when she started preschool and we started walking every day but prior to that when she was younger and less reliable both in terms of walking and behaviour, it was handy to be able to strap her in somewhere.

Now Bea is 4 and Cora is approaching 19 months and our travel system is once again gathering dust. Aside from my preference for slings I do resist using it because it’s heavy, cumbersome and inconvenient. I dislike getting it in and out of the car, I don’t like seeing it in the house and we have no where to store it easily (the cellar is the usual spot where it lives between mums visits but that means it’s much harder to whip out when we need a quick trip out.) It’s also really big for my mum who is quite petite and suffers with arthritis in her hands which makes it more difficult to manoeuvre up and down the three steps into our Victorian house where the cellars mean our ground floor is 1m above ground level. I should say, I’m not trying to be negative about the Uppababy. If you want a proper travel system and like a bigger pram I think it’s great but for me any of the travel systems or prams of that size don’t meet my needs as well.

We had been vaguely considering a Maclaren type pushchair for a while but not got around to doing anything, when I spotted the Babyzen YoYo+. A favourite of bloggers and Instagram it’s a good looking little pushchair, and folds up ridiculously small and light – in fact it was designed for its ability to fit in the hand luggage on an aircraft so if you’re into travelling with your little one it could well be worth the investment. But there’s the catch. An investment it certainly is, at around £370 for the pushchair (suitable from 6 months) and an extra £100ish for the newborn attachment to make it useable from birth, it was the priciest option that we looked at. For our needs it seems a bit excessive, but if you happen to be looking for a pram from birth it actually compares favourably with most of the travel systems (the Uppababy for example is around £900 these days for the full kit of frame, pushchair, bassinet and car seat adapters) – just check the car seat you have or plan to buy is compatible with the Babyzen as it doesn’t fit with all of them. The other major negative is the basket – it’s so ridiculously small that you’d struggle to put much in there at all, maybe your pre-baby handbag, which lets face it you probably won’t be taking out with the pram much, and I felt the frame seemed a bit light to hang a full changing bag off too. So despite my lust for it we started looking to see what comparable options were around but didn’t cost quite as much. I thought I’d share this as people often review their pram or buggy on blogs but don’t have much to compare it to which is a bit of a biased review imho.

On our first stop in John Lewis we were shown the Mountain Buggy Nano V2. This was £209 and very similar in terms of the fold down mechanism and size, although not quite as small so I don’t think it would fit in the hand luggage compartment. It was actually a few grams(!) lighter but to me I didn’t like the way it looked compared to the Babyzen (more like a Maclaren,) and it reminded me of a stripped out racing car where all the comfort had been removed in favour of reducing the weight. It did lie flat, so was suitable from birth, but didn’t take a car seat. It also felt a little sturdier than the Babyzen to me but I still didn’t love it, the basket was similarly small to the Babyzen and by comparison with other umbrella fold buggies it still seemed pricey so I kept looking.

Next stop was Mamas and Papas that I happened to wander into and asked what they had that compared to the Babyzen. By now I had refined my priorities and knew I wanted something that folded small for storage and was light enough to carry up and down steps/put in and out of the car with ease, but it didn’t need to be super small for travel. I also wanted a single push handle rather than two, to make it easy to steer with one hand. First I was shown the M&P Acro, which is super light, also folds really small (similar to the two above) and came in under £200 with the Bank Holiday discount they had on at the time. (RRP £179) Again, I liked it but it felt a little bit stripped out and basic, plus it was a bit flimsier and harder to put up and down.

Next we looked at the Armadillo City2 and I loved it! Again, with the BH offer it cost just £141, (and it’s currently in their mid-season sale at £139!) but weighed in at 7.3kg and folds in the same way as all the ones above to a very slim standing position for storage. The folding mechanism was easy (I found with some we looked at the sales person even struggled doing it!) and it felt sturdy despite its featherweight. The basket is a more reasonable size (although don’t expect much from any that fold in this way and you won’t be disappointed,) and it’s got a single bar handle so is easily steered one handed. It comes with the rain cover – I was surprised by how many considered a rain cover an extra, and a cup holder. The seat lies flat so could be used from birth which is handy to know as you never know when you might want to lie a baby in there even if you’re out with a toddler, and the hood even unzips at the back for a bit of ventilation in hot weather.

After quite a bit of use in the last month since we bought it, I feel confident recommending it to any of you looking for a light weight, slim folding multi-age group buggy. I’d love to hear if any of you already have it, or if you looked at it and opted for another alternative?

Rebecca x

Hello September…

Well hello readers!

Let’s just skim over the fact that I’m finally saying hello on the 19th of September and embrace the season for new adventures and fresh starts. I love September. That whole back to school feeling, new fashion trends to embrace, the need for new stationary in a throw back to new school years starting, the shifting seasons… I can’t get enough of it. This year it feels all the better as it’s co-inciding with the never ending house project coming to an end. In fact as I write this I feel like today was a bit of a milestone. Our Crittall door screen and back door (yes, that of the 20 week lead time…) was finally delivered and installed today, and I couldn’t be happier with them. Also, our thermostats and wiring were finally completed for the underfloor heating, separating the two ‘zones’ in the living area and tiled hall/utility, from the house radiators. I was pretty desperate after the cold snap we had a week or so ago to get the use of the heating back and typically just as this tropical feeling storm passes through I finally am able to switch it on. Those were the two remaining things outstanding from our build and to top it all off we had our snagging meeting with the builder and architect today too! It really feels like the full stop at the end of the project.

It’s been a long old year in terms of the house renovation – I went back to work in January and we started the build 2 weeks later. The rest of the year completely flashed by in a groundhog day of dust, builders and research research research into the right this that and the other for the interior finishes. People often ask me on Instagram or here how I plan a room scheme or makeover and in this case it was 6 rooms at once, but the answer is that I research and plan obsessively over a long period. It’s a bit mind blowing but for me it gives me confidence in my decisions that I won’t go off something when I’ve loved it for 6 months already, and when I know that every bit of the scheme works together too. Now we are really at the fun stage of adding in the bits of decor like art, furniture and a few wall colours and papers here and there. So yeah, more research!

Getting back to September, Bea started reception this month, having just turned four, and so far it has been pretty seamless. She’s returned to the same school she went full time to pre-school at for the last year so it hasn’t been much of a change or jump for her and for that I’ve been very grateful. She’s very good at adapting to new situations and I was surprised at how resilient she was starting pre-school – 2 days in and she was waving me off without a backwards glance, so I was surprised how emotional I was dropping her off to school for the first time. I was completely overwhelmed by guilt and regret that in the whole summer I hadn’t made any time or space for a day of just Bea and I and put Cora in childcare. Our childcare set up means whenever we have childcare in place I’m working, and I also didn’t take time off over summer, preferring to continue with term time holidays whiles she’s under 5 and we can, so although we enjoyed loads of lovely days out together, that feeling of time slipping through your fingers as a mum really hit home. What is it with kids making your eyes so leaky! It’s really made me re-evaluate again the time I spend with the girls and whether that needs reconsidering. So watch this space. On the flip side, Cora and Bea are so good together, and love each other so much, I shouldn’t feel too bad about not spending time with them individually. A year ago when Bea started pre-school I really breathed a sigh of relief to get some respite from probably the hardest phase of her life so far in terms of challenging behaviour, whilst trying to parent a frankly pain in the backside sleep thief baby. This time around the summer has been so much fun now she’s more grown up and co-operative and Cora is able to play with her too, and I’ll genuinely miss her and our little girl gang trio.

I hope you don’t mind me popping in here for a bit of a ramble… I’ve been longing to get back to the blog for such a long time, but the mental space and actual time just hasn’t been there. I finally feel like theres a semblance of a chance that I might be able to come back a bit more regularly and I’m really feeling ready to flex some creative muscle, so watch this space. ;) I have a whole pile of half written blog posts on everything from reading lists and books, to the room reveals from our reno project, travel and just some more general mum and life stuff, ready and waiting to be finished and published so hopefully I can get a bit more of a rhythm going.

Of course being September theres a few other things I want to tackle while my motivation is high! Cora is 18 months old now (Noooo!) and I still haven’t got back into regular exercise. My diet is appalling too so I’m on a mission to find some exercise I enjoy doing – I was thinking of trying Zumba and I really want to sort out my midsection 2 babies down the line so want to find a pilates class. That and some forward planning on the food front wouldn’t go amiss – I’m hoping to totally nail the next two days (Thursday and Fridays are often a bit of a car crash as I work them both and so does Pete,) by prepping ahead with the Instant Pot, something I’ve never really gelled with. So wish me luck!

I’d love to hear what you have all been up to. Are any mums out there reading who have been tackling new school starts? Are you looking forward to anything about Autumn or planning anything now summer is (whisper it) over? Drop me a comment, it would be lovely to chat again!

Rebecca x

Starting Advent Traditions…

I don’t know if it’s the political climate, the trend for more considered and authentic celebrations, or having a young family, but this year, instead of stuffing the advent calendar with chocolate I felt the need to do something more thoughtful. (Strike that, as well as the chocolate! You can’t leave out the chocolate!) Part of it was wanting Bea to enjoy the build up to Christmas more than just wanting daily chocolate, and part of it was a desire to start creating new family traditions and making memories. So I decided to fill the calendar with prompts for fun and celebratory things to do in the lead up to Christmas.

I thought I would share them here (we were a little late starting due to a sickness bug doing the rounds,) and you could perhaps take inspiration from the idea for the future or just pick a few to enjoy this year.

1. Light the Advent Candle
2. Write a letter to Santa (post before the 8th for a reply!)
3. Buy a Christmas Tree
4. Read ‘The Night Before Christmas’
5. Decorate the Christmas Tree
6. Sing some Christmas songs/carols
7. See some Christmas lights (We are going to an illuminated Christmas trail at Dunham Massey)
8. Make some Christmas cards
9. Put up some Christmas lights
10. Make some Gingerbread
11. Decorate your bedroom
12. Take a festive family photo
13. Decorate a Gingerbread house
14. Watch a Christmas film (Our Favourite is The Polar Express)
15. Go to a Christmas Party
16. Make some Hot Chocolate
17. Deliver some Christmas presents
18. Wrap a Christmas Present
19. Play some Christmas music (on the piano with Daddy)
20. Do something kind or charitable in the spirit of the season.
21. Eat a mince Pie
22. Hang up your stocking
23. Go to the theatre
24. Put out the carrots and mince pies for Rudolf and Santa!

Before you dismiss the idea as being too hard work, I need to let you into a little secret here – make the prompts work with you, not against you! For example, on Mondays and Fridays Pete works late which means I do solo school pick up, dinner, bedtime and all the tantrums in between. So on those days I’ve put in really simple things that don’t require much effort or input and that I hope won’t aggravate an already tired 3 year old. I’ve also manipulated the prompts to include some activities that we already have planned – for example, on the 6th it’s Bea’s school Christmas sing-along, and she has been invited to a party on the 15th. We are going to see The Snowman on the 23rd, and to a light show on the 7th. On the 17th we are seeing family we won’t see at Christmas.

I’ve also included some things kind of twice – buying and decorating the tree for example – as we didn’t feel ready (or able, as Cora has been ill this weekend) to put up the tree today but wanted to buy it. And making and decorating a gingerbread house seemed a bit ambitious for one day!

I’m planning on using my diary to keep a note of upcoming prompts so I can include Gingerbread ingredients in the weekly shop for example, and so I can get the decorations for Bea’s room put into a box ready rather than scrabbling about for them on the evening we need them. More than anything I’m just hoping to make some memories and savour the build up to the season. Particularly as I’m on maternity leave and it’s Cora’s first Christmas (although this is heavily biased towards Bea!) I’m hoping it will go well enough to become an annual tradition.

I’d love to hear if you already do something like this, if you can think of any prompts I could include in future years (I’m thinking ice-skating…?) or if you are inspired to include some in your calendar. If you do join in with any of them, no matter what the order, please do share and tag your photos with #FFAdvent and I’ll have a peep at what you are all up to!

Rebecca x

A tentative hello…

Well hello readers! Are there even any readers out there? I’d forgive you if not… it’s been almost 8 long months since I wrote a blog post here, announcing that Cora had arrived, bumping our little family to four. I’m lying when I say it’s been 8 long months though, good grief they have flown. The days have whistled past, the nights though? They have been loooooong. Having two children has Kicked. My. Ass.

So many times I’ve wanted to write a blog post but haven’t had the time. When I have had opportunity, sleep has often been higher up the agenda. Cora has not been a great sleeper… In fact as I write this, it’s 05.42am and I’m sat in the feeding chair, having failed to put her back down once and with the genius idea to try and use my time productively, I’m typing on my phone.


Cora at Francesca’s hen weekend // Plannign the amazing flowers with Miss Pickering // The Tipi’s pre-wedding // My sister, The Bride!

Aside from having a baby (which frankly, would have been quite enough thank you,) it’s been a busy old 8 months. Aside from the daily, no, hourly trials and tribulations of having two, we’ve had a few milestone events going on. My sister got engaged just two weeks before Cora was born and married a week ago. With a short engagement it was all hands on deck and lots of appointments and planning to be done that I helped her with. In September Bea started preschool nursery at the local primary school, a decision we had agonised over and I’ll come back to in a separate blog post at some point. And behind all of that… the project that has been grumbling along since we bought this house, but in ernest for the last almost two years, we are finally about to start the extension we had in mind when we first looked around this house.


Choosing floor tiles // My original inspiration for the extension // Bathroom shopping // Architects meetings

Some of you might remember the ‘monster pipe’ story. If not, here is the blog post if you want to read about it. Essentially our house is built almost on top of a large overflow sewer which predates the house and is massive. 1m across, 4m underground. (Which isn’t as deep as it sounds when you consider that we have cellars!) When we bought the house we were told there was no way we would ever be able to build over it but after realising (2 years in) that the house just wasn’t working for us with a baby in tow, we decided to make some bigger moves to try and get the go ahead. We managed it and then were planning to start in January this year when Cora was due in March, so we postponed. Looking back that wasn’t realistic at all… there have been delays and decisions at every turn and I’m determined to get this particular project right. Leaving the top floor aside, it will finish the house for us, adding a much needed family living/dining space and utility room, and rejigging the downstairs loo, hallway, landing and extending the first floor bathroom. What started out as simply adding a ‘glass box’ to the back of the house has spiralled somewhat… whilst I absolutely can’t wait to have it done, I really don’t want to ‘do’ it at all – particularly as we will be living in it throughout.

We’ve also been to Greece, Cornwall (twice) and The Lake District, Just So Festival, renovated the dining room and acclimatised to being a family of four. Honestly that has been my longest and toughest project, one I’m still working on, but also one that I finally feel comfortable with. It’s only taken 8 months!

Anyway, I want to expand on all of these things, and so many others, so I’ll be back. Fingers crossed!

Rebecca.

Bea at Two

Just over a month ago, Bea turned two. Gone are the days of measuring her age in months and gone is my baby. Theres now a true toddler in the house, and don’t we all know it!

It’s true what they say, that they just get more and more fun as they get older. I couldn’t understand when Pete used to say already at even 1 year old that she was so much more interesting now than a newborn (that with Bea we were endlessly fascinated by,) and another small one would be so, well, boring by comparison. Although I remember that new mum obsession well, I can finally see what he means. Bea is my little companion now, chats all day and has her own little ways and plans. God help me when they don’t align with mine.

Beautiful balmy evening for playing in the garden!

A photo posted by Rebecca Norris (@rebecca_norris) on

We still baby wear (the photo taken here was only a week ago), favouring it over a pram. In fact we used the pram for a wedding a couple of weekends ago, purely to put her in during the evening reception once she had fallen asleep in the wrap. The time I had used it previously was a few weeks before last Christmas for a big shopping trip – thats how seldom we do reach for it. I’m lucky I guess in that she is still pretty tiny for her age (she remains on the 9th gentile and currently weighs about 26lbs,) but she is also not wrapped for anywhere near as long as she used to be, having been keen to walk since about 22 months I’d say. Of course, little legs get tired and soon enough she reaches up with arms outstretched saying ‘carry,’ and now I can’t carry her as long in arms, she still has to go in the wrap. The difference is she often specifies if she goes on the front or back. In fact, beyond basic transportation, it has been a godsend for generally calming her as a toddler. When situations have been overwhelming, when she is tired, teething or unhappy for some reason, sometimes I still reach for the wrap just to reconnect and re-set and it has never failed us.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say the ‘terrible two’s haven’t really hit here yet. Bea started to tantrum around the age of 1, when she couldn’t have a toy or some other item (usually something dangerous/unsuitable,) but was always easily distracted. Now I find her behaviour deteriorates when she is tired, (no change there then,) and also clearly when she is seeking attention. I have always said, Bea is 100% amazing when you give her 100% of your attention! Thats not to say she’s outwardly demanding it – she doesn’t dance around me saying ‘look at me’ just yet, but she does immediately start doing mischievous/naughty things when I’m not able to give her all of my attention and that’s when I really risk loosing it with her. No amount of ‘Just wait one minute while Mummy does this‘ will work and infact, she does progressively worse things which makes me more mad and I have to remind myself in these situations to just stop, sort her out and come back to whatever I was doing later.

Girl on the train. #toddlersofinstagram #biggirl #two #love

A photo posted by Rebecca Norris (@rebecca_norris) on

Speech has been the biggest change in Bea over recent months. She really didn’t start saying words until she was about 19months, then new words came thick and fast. At two she was starting sentences and now she tells me whole stories about something that has happened or she wants to do. I absolutely love that we can have little conversations about things. At the end of the day she can tell me what she has done and her little observations can be really funny!

Just around the age of two we had a really difficult phase with pushing. Bea has never pushed other kids despite being subjected to it a lot herself and we couldn’t decide if it was a learned behaviour or frustration. I eventually recognised after a lot of chatting to mum friends and a bit of reading that she was feeling really overwhelmed and frustrated in social situations, particularly when toys were involved. It is natural for parents I think to encourage sharing as a necessary social skill but it took me time to realise she (and kids her age) aren’t capable of it. She was previously good at ‘sharing’ but on reflection she was just ‘giving’ toys to other kids when we asked. I eventually read a really useful article about how you shouldn’t encourage sharing, but the child (be it yours or another child,) who has the toy gets to keep it for as long as they want. You have to empathise with your child that they don’t get to have it just yet but explain when the other child is done, they can play with it then. This is supposed to make them feel more secure that when they themselves have a toy they want they will get to keep it as long as they would like and not cause pushing to get/keep a toy. It solved the problem here within 2 weeks.

Fortunately Bea continues to be a great sleeper. We have had our blips, often unexplained, but we had a month long particularly memorable spell of her not letting me put her down just before she was 2. I was exhausted mentally by having to wrap her or hold her for an hour or more and the effect that was having on my ‘me time’ after her bedtime. We thought about letting her cry it out as she was definitely of an age that she knew if she cried I would come back but she has never done this unless she has needed me for one reason or another. Leaps, teething, illness, so I ploughed through and just like that she stopped again and went back to normal.

We have also finally finished breastfeeding. I think bea was about 2 and 2 months-ish, and finally stopped of her own accord which was what I wanted. I have a lot more to say about our whole BF journey so I’ll save that for another post.

One major change that has come at just the right time, is that Bea is becoming really happy to play alone now. It’s a developing skill, but she will pick up books and ‘read’ (recite) them to herself or me, toddle off to the playroom to play with her train set or play with a puzzle while I get ready. It doesn’t always work and it doesn’t last for long but I’m certainly looking forward to it improving!

I could write all day about where she is up to and more, partly because this was such an overdue post but something else has been keeping me from blogging and that’s a new baby! :) I’m half way through now and we are incredibly excited and happy to be growing our little family. Bea is (so far) very excited too – most entertainingly looking into my belly button to ‘see the baby!’ and giving my bump big pats and cuddles.

Please do let me know where you guys are all up to with your little ones?

Rebecca x

A Tiger who came to tea Party

As you may have seen from this post, Bea recently turned two and we wanted to have a bit of a party to celebrate. Why not? Her absolute favourite book at the time was The Tiger That came to Tea and so I decided to loosely theme the party around that, more to give me ideas! A quick search on Pinterest gave me a few ideas for activities and I thought I’d just share it all here.

We ended up having 8 children there, most of whom were around 2 and a couple of older siblings that tagged along. I wanted to make sure they were occupied so the first thing we did was a craft activity painting a tiger face.

We put plastic table cloths down and I pre-prepared felt tiger noses, black cardboard tiger stripes, and google eyes. These were all put on the table in little pots, then each child got a paper plate and brush, and I squirted orange paint onto paper plates. They just had to paint the paper plate orange then add the eyes nose and stripes! I did pre-warn the mums to bring a bib for painting and not to wear anything they were too protective about too. ;) Obviously we all helped them but it kept them quiet and entertained for a while and they all behaved really well – I think because of the nursery ‘herd effect’ of them all copying each other! It’s a good idea to have a bowls of soapy water and an old towel on hand for hand washing afterwards too.

Next we moved onto party games and had a round of good old pass the parcel. After that we had the little ‘tea party’, again loosely based on the book so we had sandwiches and party ring biscuits along with hummus and carrot/cucumber sticks and some ‘tiger tail’ Organix carrot puffs. We already have one mini table and chairs, but borrowed another 2 tables and 6 chairs from friends to make the long picnic style table.

Lastly there was cake! I was intending to make a Tiger cake but frankly saw the light about 2 days before when I remembered that a cake decorating guru I am not! I opted for a ’2′ cake instead and was really pleased with how it turned out! It was actually really easy to make with just a round tin and a square tin (have a look at this tutorial here) although obviously just baking, cooling and icing/decorating did take a quite some time. (If you want a closer look I took a photo for Instagram on the day.)

We also decorated with tiger balloons we bought online and got inflated at the local balloon place. I added a foil tiger balloon because I couldn’t resist and we had an inflatable monkey hanging around too. (It was really hard not to deviate from the ‘Tiger who Came to Tea’ theme towards a jungle theme as the majority of Tiger stuff was jungle related.) As another bit of fun I asked my mum to make some long tiger tails out of tiger fabric and gave them to all the children to dress up in. Predictably some were not impressed but others wore them and took them home!

Over all we just really enjoyed it! It was a bit stressful to organise but I had lots of help and I was really happy to have marked the occasion and have all the memories and photos to look back on. And Bea had a whale of a time with all her little friends.

I hope it has inspired or given you some ideas – little people’s parties are quite a big deal it turns out!

Rebecca x

DIY Chalkboard birthday stats

I’ve long admired those Chalkboard typographic posters or prints that you see from time to time on Etsy (because you can pay people to produce one for you if you are organised!) or Pinterest. I decided I would do something similar for Bea’s 2nd birthday (more to come on her party soon,) and it was a lot easier than I expected.

And Bea is 2! #birthday #toddlersofinstagram #birthdaystats #twotoday #24months

A photo posted by Rebecca Norris (@rebecca_norris) on

I simply used her easel from Ikea and the chalks with it. I first wrote out some of the ‘statistics’ I wanted to include, and then used a piece of scrap paper to design the layout somewhat. This was mainly to make sure I didn’t run out of space writing her name across the top (and it still didn’t end up perfect!) but when I hesitated doing it freehand on the board I sometimes went back to the paper to see if what I was doing was going to work. I was really pleased with the effect and thought I’d share!

Rebecca x

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...