Friday, 28 February 2014

#MeAndMine - A Family Portrait (February 2014)

Confession time!

You know what I'm going to say, right?

Yes. I took this photo yesterday.

On my phone.

A 'selfie'.

I know.

Epic fail!

Although I do have good reason. After the trouble we've been having with MC lately I had decided that this week (it's half term here) I was going to spoil her. I had each day planned out pretty much. Even including a day when I was just going to go out with her, have lunch, let her choose a new outfit and take her to the cinema to see the new Tinkerbell movie. A real girly day.

It all went out the window.

Matt and I were at a wedding on Saturday and MC became really poorly Saturday evening whilst staying with my parents. She didn't get any better and Monday she was even worse so her half term started with a trip to the doctors. A viral stomach bug coupled with a chest infection (needing antibiotics) which was seeing her cough uncontrollably and being so sick at the same time. I knew she was seriously poorly when she just wanted to stay in her bed in a darkened room. With the antibiotics and some TLC, I'm happy to report she's feeling much better (can't you just tell by the photo!) as of yesterday. But our half term plans have been snatched away from us and that makes me sad for my little girl.

She deserved a special time.

However, I've savoured the extra cuddles and downtime with her - I haven't savoured the sleepless nights but I've dealt with them as they are part and parcel of being a parent.

This week Matt has been working from home all week. It's been such a relief to have him here but I had planned for us all to have a couple of hours out together, as a family of four, one day. THAT was when I wanted to capture our Me and Mine photograph.

It wasn't meant to be.

As this post goes live I'll be preparing to travel to Kent with Susanne and Lisa where we'll be staying overnight. We are all attending Matilda Mae Remembers on Saturday morning.

As much as this week has been tough, I've stayed positive because I know just how lucky I am.

dear beautiful

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Amelie - The Perfect Travel Bag From Mia Tui

Last year I bought a Matilda Mae bag from Mia Tui.

I loved it instantly.

Not just because by purchasing it I knew that 10% would go direct to The Lullaby Trust in memory of Matilda Mae but it was, quite simply, a lovely handbag. I was also sent the Lottie bag free which is great small strap across handbag which I find perfect for days out.

I loved it so much I raved about it on all forms of social media and friends and family bought one too.

So when I heard Mia Tui were looking for bloggers to review their gorgeous range of bags I just had to volunteer.

I was sent the absolutely beautiful Amelie which was originally designed as a large travel bag (Mia Tui also do the Minnie Amelie - a slightly smaller version more suitable for women under 5ft 5") and it did not disappoint. I asked for the 'Teal' colour as, when ordering my Matilda Mae bag last year, I was torn between the Aubergine and Teal. I eventually went for the Aubergine.

The Amelie Teal colour is just beautiful. Really vibrant and stands out. It also looks amazing with the bright pink interior.

Which leads me on nicely to the inside of the bag. It is brilliant! Roomy, practical and the attention to detail is just fantastic.

What makes the interior of the Amelie bag so unique is that it contains lots of different interior
pockets and also comes with smaller bags inside - 2 clear PVC bags and a purse style bag that matches the colour of the Amelie. This means you can pretty much tailor make the bag to suit your requirements of usage. What's more, all the bags are waterproof inside and out.

I tried to get a really good photograph of the interior but it didn't do it justice like this one (left) from the Mia Tui website.

There's a large insulated water-bottle holder which is perfect for also holding an umbrella. There are many interior pockets as well as a handy clip for attaching your keys - meaning you'll never be rummaging around the bottom of your bag looking for them again. It also has a great phone holder and pen holders so you won't lose these items in your bag either.

The PVC bags contained within the Amelie are airline compliant which makes them great for putting your small bottles of liquids for aircraft carry-on. They can also be used for different things if you need them to.

I had the perfect job for the Amelie which makes my review even better…

I took it away with me on a hen weekend to London a couple of weeks ago (for those who don't know - I live in North Wales)!

I do have to admit I was worried that I wouldn't fit all I needed for 2 nights away. I also really worried about taking a shoulder bag all that way on the train and carrying it through central London on the underground tube. I knew that the other 9 girls I was travelling with were all taking wheeled suitcases. I was that worried that I also decided not to take the Amelie  But I did and I was glad I did.

Not only did the Amelie fit everything I needed for 2 nights away - including a pair of jeans, a pair of leggings, 4 going out tops (I needed back-ups!), 2 jumpers, underwear, a pair of shoe boots, all toiletries, make-up, hair straighteners AND a bottle of fizz! It was brilliant. I was really excited by the colour of the bag, so much so that I had my nails painted to match!

I needn't have worried about the fact it was a shoulder bag (it also comes with one long shoulder strap which I didn't take with me) as it was so comfortable. In fact, I think it was easier than having a wheeled suitcase as some of the girls struggled with them on escalators. The bag didn't ache my shoulder at all on the journey there and back and I really can't wait to use it for the wedding this weekend. Matt and I are staying over at a hotel and I cannot wait. This week has been emotionally challenging and I'm looking forward to letting my hair down and spending some time with my husband and my friends. And I'm thrilled the Mia Tui Amelie will be joining me!

The Amelie is priced at £63* but Mia Tui have a whole range of amazing bags and purses starting from just £15*.

So, if you're after a new bag (or even if you don't need one - but then what girl never needs a new bag?) then head over and check out the amazing range that Mia Tui offer.

Not only that, you can use my unique code 'SAHM15' to get a 15% discount on your order. How great is that? Just add your code to the discount box during the check-out process and you'll receive the discount.

I was sent the Baby Mia Tui Amelie 
but all photographs (apart from image credited above), 
words, views and opinions are entirely my own.
I also receive no financial gain whatsoever from the discount code -
it purely benefits you lovely readers.

*prices correct at time of writing

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Failing My Daughter

Mini Cheddar started full-time school in Reception in September.

She's excelled.

We always knew she was bright but, at just 4 years of age, she's already on stage 7 of the Oxford Reading Tree. Her reading, writing and spelling continues to amaze her teacher and she's polite and well-mannered at school. She was even given the Head Teachers award last term and now her name is clearly written in the 'Golden Book' for eternity.

We were all so proud.

So why do we have tears almost every morning?

Cries of "I don't want to go to school!" are a constant sound. It's exhausting me.

She says she's tired or her tummy hurts. This has been going on for weeks and is getting worse. I've had her to the doctors and she even had a day off school last week because of it.

This mornings meltdown was a particularly bad one. There weren't just tears. There was kicking, screaming and barricading the door.

It was immense.

The thing is, once she's in school she's fine. She loves it in fact.

Over the past few weeks I've been trying, unsuccessfully, to get to the bottom of it.

There were talks of two Year 2 boys, who I know had been a little bit pushy with her once previously, being the cause. I spoke to her teacher who said she'd look into it.

As someone who was bullied in Primary school by two older boys myself, my heart ached for my little girl at the thought of what she may be going through.

Apparently, when MC was taken to see their teacher, she thought it was all a big joke and started being silly.

I know that I would never have thought it was a joke when I was being bullied. I actually didn't tell anyone about it for months. Like MC, my mum took me to the doctors as she thought I was ill.

I wasn't.

I just wanted to play with my friends at break time and not be pinned up against the wall and made to play kiss chase or I'd "get a smack!"

My parents argued about my behaviour as they didn't know what was wrong. Eventually it all came out after my poor mum, at her wits end, rang the Head Master when I locked myself in the bathroom one morning and refused to go to school.

Mum still recalls that day and it's etched in my memory too. I never forget hearing Mr. Darlington's voice outside my bathroom door. "Now Heather, are you going to walk with me or am I going to have to carry you?".

I obviously walked.

I remember feeling so small sat in his green Jaguar as we drove to the school to sort the whole mess out.

No. It isn't bullying that is bothering MC. I know this because she eventually admitted to me that it had only happened once.

It isn't illness. It isn't lack of friends. It isn't a lot of things that I've been tearing my hair out over lately.

No, I think the problem may be me.

I think I've failed my daughter.

For the past year I've neglected her feelings. Because she's so bright Matt and I forget she's only 4 most of the time. I see her as a much older girl, capable and content to do her own thing whilst I apply more of my attention to her, now toddler, little brother.

Tiny Ched is my last child. Matt and I said we would only have two children. I feel a little sad that my baby boy is growing up so quickly. There will be no more newborn snuggles in our house. No more newborn smells. No more excitement of those last few days of pregnancy or first few days of new motherhood. I do however know that what awaits us is much fun and laughter watching our two children grow up together. I'm eternally grateful to have two happy, healthy and beautiful children. They have an incredible bond already and dearly love each other.

However, since the passing of Matilda Mae last February I've been a lot more attached to TC. He has also been a lot more attached to me - in fact his separation anxiety hit a peak towards the later months of last year. This, added to the fact that he's our last, has maybe had an impact on MC's behaviour.

I deeply suspect she's attention-seeking in a bid to attract more love and attention from me and I feel guilty as hell for not giving her the attention that she maybe deserves.

Don't get me wrong, I give her attention. Of course I do. She's my first born, my daughter, my gorgeously lovely little girl and I love her and her brother equally. We share hugs and kisses, we play together, we craft and bake things together and Matt and I even have a few days that we go out just the three of us so we can share extra special time with her.

I just can't help but think I could be giving her more. We moved house a few weeks before the Summer break last year. This meant that a chunk of my attention was focused on getting the house straight over the school holidays. Then after this, MC was straight into being at school all day.

At Christmas we spent a lot of time just the four of us and there was a lot of play time. Then January and she's thrust back into school.

Last Wednesday she said she was poorly when she woke up. She did look tired and, after giving her the benefit of the doubt, I rang the school to say she wouldn't be in.

A couple of hours later she came downstairs after going back to sleep.

"I feel better now" she said smiling.

"Well let's get you into school as it's only 9.15am".

She got upset.

"I want to stay home and play with you and my brother".

I first suspected attention-seeking after this comment and it's been on my mind a lot. There have also been a number of tall tales that I know aren't at all true. I know children make up stories but some where a little too wild for my liking, like she was really trying to spark a reaction from me.

Anyway, the meltdown this morning has brought it all to a head. Eventually, after convincing her to go to school today (an agreement only reached by me saying I'd go into class with her), I spoke to her teacher. Like an emotionally exhausted wreck of a mother I got upset. Standing there with my bottom lip wobbling and tears stinging my eyes I felt like even more of a failure.

We agreed to sit down with MC after school today.

The meeting went well. I first sat down alone with her teacher whilst MC played outside the classroom. Her teacher told me that they'd had a chat again during the day. MC had mentioned a couple of things about home which I knew to be untrue so I told this to the teacher. Her teacher said it sounded like she was attention-seeking. I then told her my suspicions and we brought MC back into the room.

We didn't get much more out of MC but she did suddenly mention her bother. She also said "I wish I could stay at home with mummy and TC as I miss them".

I'm now convinced that this, along with how much attention I've shown TC over the last year, has all contributed to her behaviour.

It's hard being a parent.

There's no manual for the first-born and there sure as hell isn't a manual for the second.

You can read countless books, webpages and take advice from well-meaning people but, at the end of the day, most of the time you just have to wing it and hope you're doing your best.

I know I'm not a bad mother (even though I've felt completely inept all day) but I really do think I've been failing my daughter.

Now I'm busy making plans and my mind is whirring on how to make this right again.

Next week it's half term and I have to put things right. Tonight I've already started to ignore any of her bad behaviour (not that there's been any, really) and praise her when she's least expecting it. It resulted in her asking me to bath her tonight (it's usually daddy's job) and then her wanting me to stay with her and stroke her hair whilst we read her story.

I know she wants more of my attention.

I can feel it.

Next week I want to plan a week of fun and attention just for her. I want to try and reset the balance. I want to shut off my iPhone and I want to give her my undivided attention. I know that's not going to be easy with TC around but I know I have to do something. My daughter has suffered because of me.


As a mother it's one of the worst feelings you can feel. Feeling like you've been failing them.

I know now what I must do.

Here's to next week and undoing the failings.

Here's to being a better mother.

Here's to, I hope, a happier daughter.

That's the most important thing of all.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Roaming With The Romans For #TeamHonkRelay Wales #SR14

If you've been living under a rock recently on social media then you probably wouldn't have heard of the latest mad badass thing us crazy bloggers are partaking in.

For those of you not in the know, let me try and explain a little...

Team Honk has been raising money for Comic Relief since December 2012 and last year a team of mad intrepid bloggers climbed Mount Snowdon. This year they thought big…and when I say big I mean HUGE!

Well over 200 bloggers, tweeters and Facebook'ers plus their friends and families are joining forces in a massive relay for this years Sport Relief. We are carrying the Team Honk baton as a relay from Lands End to John O'Groats in a huge zig zag across the country taking in 38 regional teams. The aim is to raise over £20,000 for Sport Relief.

Just HOW awesome is that?

This is one of the many reasons why I absolutely love blogging. Sure, there are the occasional spats - unfortunately it's a fact of life that you get the odd few that let the team down in some way - but, generally, the vast majority of bloggers are pretty blooming awesome. Some of my most treasured friends are ones I've met through blogging. We unite against the odds. We hold each others hands - albeit sometimes it's a virtual hand. We stand tall and fight for good causes. We raise money. We are a powerful voice.

So, when I heard about it I was keen to get involved.

Fair play to Tanya, Penny and Annie for pulling this mammoth task together. They deserve medals. Imagine trying to pull all this together with all these strong bloggers types? It's no easy task. But it's one that's been going amazingly. Just look at the photos of the relay so far.

I bet you're asking how I'm involved.

Well, my lovely blogger friend Claire and I are tasked with the important job of taking the baton across the Wales / England border for Team Honk.

Because there aren't really enough Welsh based bloggers to carry the baton into Wales and back out again us Welsh bloggers are a special bunch, we have our own second baton which started off in South Wales. It will eventually meet up with the main baton from Land's End and go all the way to John O'Groats on it's travels.

Claire and I have spent the last couple of weeks planning and scheming to try and get something good to live up to the awesomeness that has gone before us. We tried desperately to get some local or Welsh/Chester linked celebrities involved. Jade Jones and Iwan Thomas were sadly busy and the likes of Michael Owen just totally ignored us!

However, we have managed to bring together something that we are really happy with. Something fun and friendly and we are really looking forward to it.

This Thursday we will start off in the market town of Mold, Flintshire at a local school where some of the pupils will take part in a mini relay with the Team Honk Wales baton. Claire and I will then be walking through Mold hopefully via the Fire Station for some pole sliding (tbc) and on to the awesome Theatre Clwyd - home of fabulous arts and culture - to wreak some Sport Relief havoc. We hope to get on stage! Fingers crossed!

After that we will travel across into England proudly carrying the baton where we will be met by a Roman Solider at the Chester City walls. He will march us up into town telling us of the delights of Chester. I have to say a massive thank you to Roman Tours Ltd. for supplying us with our very own Roman for the afternoon. I am lucky enough to live very near to Chester and it's a superb city full of lots of history and culture. If you're thinking of visiting then be sure to get in touch with Roman Tours Ltd. I often see them with visitors and school parties and it really is something very special and unique in the city.

We will be hanging out down by the river and taking in the famous sights of Hollyoaks (aka Queen's Park Bridge)…sadly celebrity-less but having fun all the same. Then it's on to The Church for some well earned wine and cake!

But, and I've saved the best until last, Claire and I will NOT be doing all this in our normal clothes. Oh no! We will be wearing our Sport Relief Onesies, Sport Relief Headbands and our Sport Relief Deeley Boppers. Now, having never owned a onesie in my life, I was unsure what to expect. If someone had said to me (to quote Claire) "I look like a butch car mechanic" then I probably wouldn't have ordered one. But I did. It cost me £25 and despite looking like a very butch (and idiotic) car mechanic I will be wearing it all. Thankfully Claire and I will be together wearing the same!

Also, we will be giving out free Team Honk hugs to anyone who would like one in the hope that they enjoy their free hugs so much they feel they have to donate to the main text number. Although I get the feeling that we will be given a wide berth in our ridiculous outfits.

Surely that alone has got to be worth some sponsorship?

Thankfully my wonderful friends and family and been very generous in sponsoring us. I also jokingly said to Matt last night that if he sponsored us generously then I'd make it up to him. Unbeknownst to me, while I was in the bath, he sponsored £100. So yes, I've officially whored myself out for Sport Relief.

Again, that's got to be worth some more money, right?

If you normally donate to Sport Relief and/or Comic Relief then please donate to our fundraising target this year and support Team Honk Wales!


Or you can text HONK to 70005 to donate £5 to the Team Honk target.

Thank you xx

Team Honk 2014 blogger Relay

Monday, 10 February 2014

Muddy Puddles Are No Problem With The All In One 3 In 1

If you follow me on Twitter or are friends on Facebook you will have seen my desperate plea for suitable snow gear for Tiny Ched at the end of last year. I'd travelled somewhere especially to get one and they didn't have any.

Frustrated, and without suitable winter attire, I waited for suggestions from friends. There were a few good ones but nothing that quite ticked all the criteria I was after.

Then, a few weeks later, an email from Muddy Puddles dropped in my inbox.

I was thrilled when I looked through their website. They had everything that children need for outdoor play whatever the weather and all the items looked fantastic quality.

We were lucky enough to be sent the Baby All In One 3 in 1 to put to the test and as soon as it arrived I absolutely loved it. 

TC isn't 2 years old until the very end of March but we got the largest size at 2 - 3 years. It was a tiny bit big, as expected, but he still looked great in it (as you can see) and he will get plenty of use out of it over the next year or so. 

What I love the most about it is that it has a fully removable fleece inner suit. When you take the fleece inner out it's like a snuggly onesie! The fleece inner goes all the way through the all in one too, not just the main body. It even goes all the way up into the hood. So you can use the fleece on its own or the outerwear on its own depending on the weather, so it's not just one of these thick winter suits that you only use when it's bitterly cold.

Not only that but the outer suit is completely waterproof but also breathable so kids won't get all hot and sticky in it. The logos are also reflective which is great to keep kids visible.

I thought I may have problems getting TC into a full suit but this is so easy as it has dual zips on both the outer and inner, making it to easy even with the most wriggly and impatient of toddlers.

Let's be honest, the weather so far this year has been awful. Cold, wet and windy so this suit has really been put to the test over the past couple of weeks. It's been to the park in the cold and rain, it's been scooting in the wind and rain and it's seen its fair share of muddy puddles! But, throughout it all, TC has been kept perfectly warm and dry. This not only makes him happy but makes me very happy too.

We were sent the navy All In One 3 in 1 because, as much as TC is in touch with his feminine side, I thought the pink was a bit too much for him. For your little princesses though, the Fandango Pink version looks very cute indeed. 

The hood and cuffs on the suit are elasticated so they stay in place. This isn't the case with the usual baby snow suits that you can pick up most places. I remember we had one for Mini Cheddar when she was a baby and I was forever pulling her hood up.

As I've also mentioned move, most of them are just a standard thickness so you're stuck when the weather gets a bit milder. Also, many of them aren't waterproof at all. Believe me, there is nothing worse than a cold and wet child!

TC really took to his suit and has been so warm in all kinds of awful weather that he hasn't wanted to come indoors. I just need to get him to keep his gloves on now the little tinker!

I'd definitely recommend the Baby All In One 3 in 1 as a great purchase. It's not the cheapest at £59* but you get SO much more for the money you spend and you can't put a price on warm and happy children. Also, keep an eye on as they have some great sale bargains and I have seen the All In One 3 in 1 half price before now.

Make sure you check out the full Muddy Puddles range. They have everything from hats and gloves to socks and wellies so you can dress your little adventurers whatever the weather. 
*whispers* They even sell shorts and skirts!

I know TC will get so much wear out of this and we both think it's fantastic.

So what are you waiting for? Go check out the fantastic range of products on
now, you won't be disappointed. Just look at TC's happy face...

I tried to take a good photo that showed how fantastic the suit and the inner fleece is but I couldn't quite achieve it as well as Muddy Puddles did so I'm sharing this on my blog too. Isn't it fabulous?
Image from

We were sent the Baby All in One 3 in 1 
but all photographs (apart from image credited above), 
words, views and opinions are entirely my own.

*prices correct at time of writing

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Letters For #MatildaMae - Dear Baby Tilda

Dear Baby Tilda,

It seems strange that I'm writing this letter to you.

To 'Baby' Tilda.

You're only a month younger than TC. But he's not a baby anymore. How can this be? It makes me so sad and angry at the world. Life is so unfair sometimes.

I still struggle to believe you're gone.

I never met you, I dearly wish I had. I wish that with all my heart. I did meet your mummy briefly when you were just a tiny little secret growing inside her. She was quiet that night...wrapped in an excited and anxious bubble of early pregnancy. I wish now that I had gotten her to talk more that evening.

I'll never forget reading those words your mummy posted the day after you left the world. My heart flew up into my mouth. I couldn't believe it. Didn't want to believe it.

I felt sick.

My world stopped.

And then I sobbed.

Sobbed for a beautiful baby I'd never met.

Sobbed for a beautiful lady destroyed.

Sobbed for a beautiful family torn apart.

I have thought about you and your mummy every single day for the past year. Even on my happiest of days there is still something that pulls my mind back to you. I see you everywhere. In every star, every rain drop, every rainbow and more.

Sometimes I catch TC doing something for the first time and my heart aches all over again. Aches for the empty arms of your mummy. She is an amazing lady. I know you know that. I just wish she believed it.

I still can't believe that exactly 12 months have passed. A whole year since you were snatched from your loving parents by something so devastatingly cruel. No-one knows the real extent of what they face each day without you. I can't begin to imagine the gut-wernching pain they feel without you in their lives.

But you are everywhere, Tilda.

I really believe that.

Not just in the stars, rain drops and rainbows.

Your little life has had such a huge impact on so many people. Your legacy is something truly amazing. It really is quite wonderful.

Personally, I've been on a journey these last 12 months.

When something awful happens in the world, we stop for a moment. We think about how awful it is. We think about how thankful we are, how we aren't going to take things for granted and then we move on, eventually forgetting and slipping back into bad habits.

This time it's different.

You've had such an impact on myself and so many people, Tilda. Your little life has made some big changes to lots of lives.

Mine for one…

  • I am more tolerant of my children's behaviour. If one of them won't go to sleep at the time, I don't stress. I relish the extra cuddles.
  • If one of them is ill I stop what I'm doing completely. Even when I'm busy and they don't really need me, I just sit and spend quiet time with them. Again, I relish the cuddles.
  • I always checked on my children before I went to bed but now I spend a few moments sat on the bed or sat by the cot. I stroke hair. I wish cheeks. I feel love.
  • I don't stress about the small stuff. I'm more relaxed than I ever used to be. 
  • I've given up my freelance work so I can spend more time with my children. It's where I want to be. They are growing up so fast and I want to be a part of that.
  • I've found out about The Lullaby Trust and the amazing work they do. I cut back on cards and gifts this Christmas and donated money instead. Having met Francine recently, it feels great to support such a wonderful charity to help families like yours.
  • I am learning to also look after myself too. A happy mummy makes for happy children and that's what's important

There are a couple of other things that have happened. 

I've made two very beautiful and dearly loved friends because of you. 

Your mummy and Susanne. 

They mean so much to me. Susanne and I travelled to your funeral together and we read aloud. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do but I did it for you and for your mummy. 

I've told your mummy that I will always be here for her and I promise you that, Tilda. I'll always be here for Susanne too - you know how much she's helped your Mummy. She's helped me too.

As much as I love them, I would give up their friendship in a heartbeat to have you back where you belong. In your mummy's arms.

Life is so cruel but something special has happened. It's all because of you and your wonderful mummy.

Baby died,
People cried.

Candles lighted, 
Friends united. 

Money made,
Awareness raised. 

Legacy grew,
Look what love can do.

Rest in peace baby girl.

Love Heather xx

 Letters to Matilda Mae


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