9/01/2019

Getting Eric Ready Big Brother Ready* | Just Add Ginger


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When I was pregnant one of my biggest concerns was that Eric didn't really understand what was going on. He didn't really start speaking until after his second birthday (which was causing me a lot of stress in itself) and could only say singular words at a time. And as much as we would encourage him to touch my bump and would talk about the fact that he was going to be a big brother all he would really do would be to pull my top down and want to go and play with his toys. 

It wasn't until he met Little Alexander that we started to notice a shift. Although a little back we had been gifted the Baby Annabel Learns To Walk (find out more about her in this post) I think that because she was a doll that actually did something the concept of role play was lost on Eric. However he really started to take an active interest in Alexander and it was through play that things started to click.

image shows a young boy playing with a baby doll.

Okay so he still didn't understand that there was going to be a new baby coming to live with us or that he was going to take on a new role and that the family dynamic was changing but what did happen was that his nurturing side really came out. He started to care for Alexander and act out how to look after a baby on him. The doll comes with detachable clothes and a plastic bottle and he would pretend to feed his baby and take an interest in changing his nappy (we did this using one of Ezra's) and wanting to dress him in other clothes (again some of Ezra's were borrowed for this).  

With a soft body and plastic head, hands and legs Little Alexander makes the ideal baby doll for our sometimes heavy handed Eric too. Because even though Ezra is now here, Eric is still showing a lot of interest in his dolls. And whereas some I am nervous for him to play with around a newborn (you just don't know where a toy will land if it gets thrown) I'll happily keep Alexander out all the time.

I think having a doll has given Eric an increased sense of importance. If either Ryan or I need to feed Ezra, wind him or show him a bit of attention then Eric will often replicate that behaviour through his play. He also likes to direct his baby to do other things like sitting him up in a chair to watch TV, offering him different foods or finding him somewhere to sleep. And it's been amazing to watch this loving and caring side towards others flourish

Whether your child is about to get a new sibling or not I absolutely recommend Little Alexander. He makes the ideal doll for tiny hands and helps enhance role play. He just comes with the bottle at the 36cm size but if you want to there are accessory sets available (although from what I have seen no extra outfits which is a shame). Even though we were gifted the doll with the amount Eric has played with it I wouldn't think twice about purchasing it. It's helping him learn about caring for babies, teaching him how to use his 'gentle hands' and above all he absolutes loves it...and that's enough for me!


*I was very kindly gifted a Little Alexander doll to review. This does not affect my opinions. They are always 100% honest and guided by my own personal experiences. 

8/26/2019

And Then There Were Four... | Just Add Ginger


When I was pregnant this time round I was convinced the baby would come early. Eric was born at 40+6 and in my head, knowing that second babies could arrive sooner meant that this one was destined to fit that mould. 

However, when I hit 40+6 this time I had started to lose faith that this baby was ever going to arrive. I was so fed up that my decision to wait things out until he was ready had gone out the window and all I wanted was him to get the bloody hell out of me.

image shows newborn baby wrapped in a cellular blanket and laying in a cot.

Ezra William Everest entered this world on 23rd July 2019 at 6.22am at 41+1 weeks. He was a pink and cuddly 8lbs 9oz chunk, born at home on our sofa after a labour that lasted about 24 hours (latent and active). Everything got a bit chaotic just before he was born because I was convinced I needed to go to hospital for more pain relief but after a few moments of calm he appeared after just a couple of pushes (I honestly thought I was just having a poo)!

It was so hard keeping his name a secret but I love it so much I didn't want anyone to spoil it. It's very much a 'me' name. And after a while of hating every name I heard I wanted to hold his close to my chest until he was actually here: 

Ezra is a name both Ryan and I loved. I know it's a really popular name at the moment but I've only ever known one other Ezra so I loved how unique it sounded. It also complemented Eric's name really well and they just roll off the tongue really easily. I can just picture them in the future being thick as thieves and off playing together outside with me shouting down the garden "Eric, Ezra...it's dinner time...."

William is a family name from my side that I wanted to use in the memory of my great uncle who passed away a few years ago. I liked all the soft sounds and how melodic and rhythmic it made his full name sound too - like he might grow up to be an artiste of some kind one day.

Everest was the part of baby's name that I was so scared people would judge. I don't know of anyone who has used it or has it as a name but I think it is just beautiful. Both Ryan and I love the great outdoors, and I just couldn't help but think what a stunning name it would make. We were going to use something else as his second middle name but one day I was listening to the Everest soundtrack in the shower and realised I would be devastated if we didn't get to use it. 

It's taken a while for me to settle into our brand new family dynamic (with two children under three life never seems to stop) but we are slowly getting there, hence my lack of content over the past month or so. Finding time for everything is tricky and often you need to decide what is more important to you - food, sleep or a wee - but I'm ready to start getting back on track. 

So be prepared for a lot more mummy-related content both here and on my YouTube channel. I won't be committing myself to my usual schedule just yet but I have lots of plans for future posts. But without Ezra having a routine just yet, I never know what time I have to play around with! 

Here's to the next chapter....I have a feeling it's going to be a crazy one (in the best sense of the word)!


6/13/2019

My Current Daily Routine With My Two Year Old Just Add Ginger

Becoming a stay at home mum was a big adjustment for me. I worked with children in the past but it was only once I had found my feet as a parent that I realised that being at home with a baby 24/7 was bloody hard work. 

It took me a while to find my rhythm. Eric has never been one for a strict routine so things chop and change all the time and have kept me on my toes. However, lately I finally feel like we have established a good little daily routine that means we both get the most out of our day whilst still being completely flexible. 

image shows a toddler boy lying on his back in the woods and looking to camera

Now I'm by no means a mum expert, but because it did take me so long to find something that worked I wanted to share what we currently do. We are about to go through a big life adjustment with the new baby coming so now more than ever it is imperative that Eric is settled, and knows what he is doing

I should also say that whatever we are doing let Eric know. I talk him through what the plan is as and when it happens so that he isn't left confused. He may only just be exploring his words but I never underestimate his understanding.

image shows a mother and toddler son walking through the woods in autumn. They are dressed in warm clothes.

Morning: The time Eric wakes up everyday does vary and I don't make him keep a strict wake up time because he does occasionally still wake up and stir during the night. So the time he does get up in the morning is a pretty wide window between 6am-7.30pm.

As soon as I go in to get Eric I gauge his mood. Sometimes he wakes up starving and grumpy and other times he is in a pretty good mood so I can get him dressed before breakfast (I always do this step first on a Monday and Thursday because Eric goes to the childminder. 

Breakfast for Eric usually consists of the same thing everyday (check out my post about what he tends to eat here). He eats in his highchair (which is now a toddler table) and I will put on a Julia Donaldson animated short for him to watch. This gives me time to drink a lukewarm coffee and grab some breakfast. 

After breakfast and a nappy change / getting dressed we will either head out somewhere or (if the weather is dry) go into the garden for some play. I am a big fan of free play so leave the patio door open so we can go in and out as we please. 

Then, around 3.5-4 hours later (usually around 10.30 - 11am) it's time for biscuits and bed. Eric will go to the kitchen to find his biscuit and he knows that means we are going upstairs for stories and nap. He walks up the stairs, puts his biscuit on the bed, then I lift him in and he will "tell" me what stories he wants to listen to.

If he's in the mood to sleep, a nap will last about two hours, although this is Eric we're talking about, so sometimes it barely lasts two minutes! 

While he sleeps I try and nap, then I'll sort out the dishwasher, grab a snack, watch some trash TV and enjoy the peace.

Afternoon: When Eric wakes up I tend to seize the opportunity to give him a bath. We throw in lots of toys, make loads of bubbles and he has some water play and a wash. I'm not going to lie - doing this means I can have a wee (or poo) and brush my teeth if I haven't been able to that morning. I dry him off and put his nappy on in the bathroom and they we are on the build up to his lunch.

One of Eric's favourite things to do after a bath is to run into our bedroom, jump on the bed and then potter around with our books or my makeup and jewellery. He thinks it's hilarious. When I finally coax him out I get him dressed in his bedroom and then we'll head downstairs. 

While Eric has his lunch I'll have mine. I will put on something for him to watch (at the moment it's usually Baby Shark or some of the Simple Songs episodes on Amazon Prime) and then it's play time, a class, or I try to take him out somewhere again. 

Being as pregnant as I am right now I'm not always in the mood to go out (the tiredness hits me around 3pm) so I do have to admit defeat and have a movie afternoon with him where he will watch the film, colour in and play with his toys. He seems happy to do this sometimes but if he does want to go outside again he will let me know bring me his coat and shoes as a cue.

Evening: Dinner time for Eric (if he has it) is in between 4.15-5.30pm depending on how the day has panned out. I will cook for Eric and tidy round the living room, putting away toys, folding clothes and generally making it a more grown up space ready for when he goes to bed

Eric isn't the best at tidying but will help by taking any nappy sacks to the bin for me. And if I need to finish off the dishwasher he will pass clean plates, bowls and cutlery to me so I can put them away. Then I clean up around the living room and hallway as and when it is needed or attempt to put some washing on / collect it from the line or dryer and fold it up ready to go upstairs. 

Ryan usually is home for around 7pm (on a good day) so he does the bedtime routine. If not, I treat Eric to a biscuit so I can get him up the stairs again for bed. He's not the biggest fan of going to sleep at night and will protest so whatever gets him in the mood to walk up the stairs works for me. 

Mondays & Thursdays: Eric goes to the childminder twice a week so on those days I try and get housework done as well as having time for myself. We do have a cleaner now who comes bi-weekly which has taken some of the pressure off me but I save up any big errands, cleaning or creative work until Eric is out the house so I can concentrate on it fully.


Images: Rachel Clarke Photography

6/10/2019

Empowered Bumps The Practical Birth Partner Workshop | Just Add Ginger


I have been trying to look at pregnancy so differently this time round. I've been taking things a lot more in my stride, been trying to keep calm and do as much research I can into techniques I can implement during both my pregnancy and labour to stop me panicking and getting too stressed. 

I first heard about Jenie and Empowered Bumps Hypnobirthing through Codie and for a long time really wanted to attend one of her pregnancy relaxation classes. But with Ryan's sometimes erratic and unpredictable work schedule and the distance I'd have to travel to get to the class I soon realised that it just wasn't going to be possible. 

image shows a birth affirmation card and range of arts and crafts objects

However, The Practical Birth Partners Workshop was definitely something I wanted to take us both to if I could. With us planning a home birth I thought it was really important for both Ryan and I to learn some new strategies to help me manage my own discomfort and to help me stay as focused and relaxed as possible to keep me motivated and feeling positive. 

So with Eric safe and happy elsewhere, Ryan and I got in the car and set off to the workshop which was run from Baby Bear's Den in Crosby - a newly opened space set in the grounds of a nursery that runs classes for pregnancy, babies and families too. It's a hub that I feel has been desperately needed in our area and it was the perfect place for the workshop to be set. 

Light, bright and airy, there was an immediate feeling of tranquillity that hit you as you entered the room. A small seating area was set up next to sets of yoga mats, birth balls, an inflated birthing pool and beautiful affirmation boards and bunting. Everything just felt so serene and instantly set the tone for what the class was going to entail

Joined by two other couples we first all sat down and introduced ourselves before Jenie did a little introduction and we started some initial activities. All of us had different stories and were there for different reasons but it was nice knowing we were all on the same journey and there to support each other. I didn't feel embarrassed or ashamed at any point during the day and I think a lot of that I can attribute to the other attendees who were there. 

The workshop was a combination of guided learning, practical relaxation techniques and conversations that touched on birth preferences, the role of the birth partner and our rights as expectant mothers / fathers and ways we can empower ourselves to hopefully help achieve the birth experience we want. 

What I loved about the workshop is that I got to practise techniques I had heard and read about in a guided class environment. It's one thing seeing something on paper but it's a completely other thing actually giving them a go and knowing you are doing them right. I really respond to that style of learning - I like to be supported. 

It was also brilliant learning new things. Things that I wouldn't have had a clue about had it not been for the workshop. Rebozo, different styles of massage and new breathing techniques...all of these Ryan and I now have in our 'toolkit' ready to pull out during labour should we need them. And all of them fully adaptable and workable around my disability.

The workshop also gave Ryan more of an active role to play. He has been so focused on sorting out the birthing pool but now he has more to do. He's not the type to show when he is scared or nervous but I know there is a strong chance that during labour he will be so now he has a lot more he can draw on to direct his thoughts should they start to deviate. 

Jenie was an incredibly charismatic and approachable class leader. She was easy to talk to, relatable and didn't at any point preach to us. The class was 4 hours long but with her leading us the time absolutely flew by and I was a little bit gutted when it all was over because she made it so enjoyable!

image shows two hand painted positive birth images

Self care as a pregnant person is so important and I felt like - for the first time in a while - like I was really doing something for myself. Especially as someone who has and does struggle with anxious thoughts. I now feel like I am really doing myself justice and putting things in place to support myself in the lead up to welcoming this baby.

The workshop really resonated with Ryan to - so much so that he has suggested we book on for the Empowered Bumps Intensive Hypnobirthing course. It's making me feel so excited that he is fully on board with what I want and I know that the workshop has really helped him feel secure in his role as my birth partner.

If you are in the Liverpool area and want to learn more about hypnobirthing, Jenie, or any of the services she offers, definitely check out the Empowered Bumps website. You can tell she is incredibly passionate and dedicated about what she does and as someone who does get a bit nervous thinking about birth, attending her workshop has really helped me feel more empowered than ever! 



6/06/2019

Baby Names We Loved (But Aren't Using) | Just Add Ginger


For a really long time, trying to think about our baby's name was one of the most difficult tasks. As soon as we thought we had found a name a day or so later I would go off it and we would be right back at square one. When I was expecting Eric we already knew what his name was going to be so it was less of a stress, but I think naming a second baby is much more difficult because you need something that complements your first child.

image shows newborn hands holding a large toy nappy pin

Little One has a name now that I am 99.99% sure isn't going to change (I feel it in my bones that this is his name) however once I had gotten over disliking all the names we did have a list of both boys and girls names either both of us really liked and were thinking of using, or ones that I was trying to convince Ryan to like so that we could possibly use them.

Boys

I found trying to come up with boys names a lot more difficult than girls. Deep down I knew this baby was a boy even before we found out but because I had quite a few girls names that I had decided on before, coming up with a new list of boy names was always going to be a little bit more tricky.


Arthur: This is a family name on both mine and Ryan's sides and it was a pretty strong contender at one stage. However I just didn't think the name suited us as parents. Arthur is obviously very traditional and I didn't like the abbreviations of it (Art, Artie) should we want to shorten it to a pet name. I know it's grown in popularity over the past few years but it felt a little bit too vintage for us.


Hugo: This name was on my list before we knew Eric was on the way and I do still really like it. However, it has also been on my list of names I would call a dog and the association I have in my head of a little cavalier King Charles or Labrador called Hugo running round is just too strong. I think the name itself is gorgeous but I just don't think I could use it for a child (I'm still keeping it on the table for future pets though)!

Ernie: Again, this is a family name that I absolutely love. But Ryan really wasn't sure. Whereas I thought it was adorable picturing a little Eric and Ernie running around, Ryan could only think of Morcambe and Wise!


Fox: This was one of our middle name ideas and we both really, really liked it. For a good long while this was going to be the baby's middle name. The only reason we didn't go for it is because there was a name we loved so much more and one day I decided that if we didn't use this certain name and didn't go on to have more babies I would be devastated.


Floyd: Again this was a contender for a middle name. Ryan is a huge Pink Floyd fan so the fit was perfect. And even though I was the one who initially suggested it, I soon went off the idea because I think it's much more of a dog name than a baby name.


Girls 

I have said this over and over again but in my heart I know I'm so much more of a boy mum than a girl mum. Don't get me wrong I'd love to have a daughter one day but I honestly don't think it's going to happen. So with that in mind, thinking of girl names is my guiltiest pleasure. There were so many I liked last time (you can check out the baby name video I made then here) so I took some from that list and a few more were added once Ryan and I started talking about names again.


Annabelle: If this baby had been a girl, this would have been his name. I think Annabelle is just so pretty and girly and I love the way you can shorten it to Anna, Belle or Annie. I'm not discounting it for future children so it's still very much on the table.


Margeary: This would have been in memory of my grandma (although we updated the spelling after watching Game of Thrones) and it was one of my top choices for a while with the idea that I would have shortened it to Gigi. However I much prefer it as a middle name. Like with Arthur I don't feel it's a first name that naturally suits us. Also - every time I'd say it it didn't quite fit (I think it's because it ends in a y which sounds a bit clunky with our surname). 


Arya: Half inspired by Game of Thrones and half because it has been so popular the last few years both Ryan and I loved this name. It's pretty but powerful (we especially associate it with power after GOT season 8)! It was only bumped off the list of potential names because I was so set on using Annabelle and it's definitely a name choice I'd pull out again for if we go on to have another baby.


Erin / Eireann: Ryan really liked the idea of Erin (or the Irish version Eireann) but for me it's too much of an association with the famous model. I also think that Eric and Erin just sound too similar and it might get a bit confusing for both them, us, and anyone else who would be using their names.


Ophelia: This was on my previous list and I still love it to this day. It's a quirky name that's a little bit unique but has literary connotations to the Shakespearean character. It's still high on our list of name options so I'm not discounting it but I don't think I'll get to use it purely because I think if we do have another baby down the line it is going to be another boy.

What baby names do you love? 

5/30/2019

Mummyhood, Mental Health & Me | Just Add Ginger


Becoming a mother for the first time was a massive rollercoaster for me. Not only was it daunting, exhilarating and exciting beyond measure, but it really took its toll on my mental health and led me to  experience one of the darkest times in my life so far.

I have always been a bit of a worrier but in the first few months of Eric's life I felt like I was going crazy with it. Consumed daily by anxious thoughts, compulsive behaviour and feeling completely out of control, every day was overrun by negativity at a time when I should have been elated. It was a long and bumpy road to recovery but I finally turned a corner in the Autumn of 2017 - right around the time Eric was six months old. (If you want to know the full story I made a YouTube video all about it which goes into a lot more detail).

And since then I've only been getting stronger. I am more open about my feelings (not looking for sympathy, but more so that I'm doing myself justice), I am able to stay calmer and more rational thanks to techniques I learnt at CBT, and I feel for the first time in a long time that I am myself again.

stock image of a woman holding a newborn baby's hand

However, it's not always great. Especially at the moment. Up until a week or so ago I was doing brilliantly, but my worries and anxieties don't care about timing, and at the moment I've been having more fretful moments

I've had such a different, more positive experience of being pregnant this time but it is really starting to take its toll on me physically and that in itself is affecting how I feel mentally. Lack of sleep combined with long days, a toddler who is currently residing right in the middle of Tantrumville, aches and pains, Braxton Hicks and massive mood swings and I'm just all over the place. 

I know part of it is something that just happens during pregnancy. With hormones raging it's only natural I feel a bit out of control of how I feel. But it's not just that. 

This time of year is a massive trigger for me in itself. This is when everything started for me the first time and I think I associate warmer weather too much with the start of my descent into that dark place. So as much as it's amazing to be expecting a baby it is also really, really difficult. 

I am having to be so careful with how I go about my day. I don't want to do anything that will cause me to slip. And that's hard because a lot of my coping strategies revolve around avoidance and with social media being pretty much inescapable and uncontrollable that isn't always easy. 

 My worries are completely irrational too. They spring up out of something I usually see online and then just stick. For example (and I cannot believe I'm admitting this in a blog post) the other day I decided I had Lyme disease. For no reason. I just decided I had it. That's how unpredictable and somewhat ridiculous my mind can be. These thoughts appear and just make no sense although to be, they are the absolute be all and end all. 

And naturally when I start to feel anxious trying to not be upset in front of Eric is incredibly difficult. Because he is just too young to understand. But it happens. I just can't control it. I cry and cry and cry and he has to see it happen. Thankfully he's pretty laid back so he hasn't gotten upset at the same time but still...it does make me feel like a bit of a Mum failure.  

I'm doing all I can to prepare for labour and birth so that I am calm and relaxed. With control being a big factor in the direction of my thoughts if there's something I can organise I will. I'm planning a home birth, have been practising hypnobirthing and have called on lots of local friends to be on my 'Labour Tree' should I be by myself and need help. I'm also hoping to start going to a pregnancy relaxation class. 

And whereas I isolated myself when I was feeling so bad last time I'm now reaching out. I've admitted to myself that I have been struggling and am trying my best to surround myself with love. I'm getting in touch with friends and trying to arrange regular catch ups so that I don't feel alone. Getting back into creating content has also really helped because my mind is occupied and I am less inclined to let the negative thoughts work their way in.

But as much as I'm trying to be social I am also valuing my privacy. I'm not sharing lots about my pregnancy online and am even being quite reserved when it comes to friends and family. My midwife appointments are for me only and I keep it that way. If there are any issues I will tell people but otherwise it's my business and mine alone. Bump shots are kept to a minimum as are scan photos and videos. I'm just not putting that pressure on myself this time. I'm enjoying this journey for exactly what it should be...mine.

So that's where I'm up to at the moment. A lot of days are wonderful but some days are utterly shit and everything gets too much. But that's okay. It's only natural. And I'm embracing that fact. 

I can't imagine being a mum of two and just knowing how it's going to work is daunting in itself. I can't plan for it. I'm not in control. So it's no wonder these feelings are filtering back in - I may just be misplacing those feelings of anxiety over this big life change and putting them on something else

I don't know how things are going to change in the next few months. Nobody can say. But I really do feel that I'm helping myself by opening up about my struggles so fingers crossed I've already set myself on a better path.


5/26/2019

Learning Hypnobirthing At Home* | Just Add Ginger


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When I was pregnant with Eric I read a book on hypnobirthing but I never really followed through on anything it said. It came with accompanying tracks which I would listen to and they would send me to sleep but when it came to labour I think I was just too scared for anything to resonate. 

This time round things are very different and hypnobirthing has played a big part in helping me keep focused and relaxed. I don't even really know how I rediscovered it. I think there have been quite a few people over the past couple of years talking about it and the idea must have stuck. With my determination to have a calmer pregnancy I became hyper aware of any resources or recommendations that were mentioned and it just went from there.

image shows a flat lay of red roses, a book on hypnobirthing and three birth affirmation cards

I made the decision to learn about hypnobirthing at home rather than on a course so that I could take things at my own speed. I wanted Ryan as my birth partner to be fully on board and with his work hours not always being consistent, the 'at home' approach just made more sense. 

So with all that being said, here are the three main resources I have been using to help educate myself when it comes to hypnobirthing. So if you are wanting to know more about the whole thing or are looking for a place to start, I can honestly say that all three of these resources have revolutionised the way I think about pregnancy, labour and birth, have made me really appreciate my body in a whole new way, and are making me really look forward to the experience of pushing this baby out.


The Positive Birth Company Digital Pack - I jumped on the chance to invest in this the minute I saw that there was a special offer running a few months back. And it was by far the best impulsive decision I've made. 

The pack is broken down into 43 videos which cover a range of topics - from the science of hypnobirthing right the way through to relaxation techniques. And everything makes so much sense! I would watch a couple of videos every night before I went to bed or in the morning when I would first wake up and they are really easy and enjoyable to watch. 

You have access to the course for 12 months after you purchase it and the pack comes with other resources too (MP3s, a course booklet, birth preferences template and more) so you are getting a lot much bang for your buck. 


'Make Your Birth Better' by Siobhan Miller - Off the back of investing in the digital pack I decided to buy Siobhan Miller's (founder of The Positive Birth Company) book. Watching videos was great and so easy to digest but I also wanted something I could read through to accompany all the information I was being given. 

I am halfway through the book at the moment and like with the digital pack, it is really resonating with me. It's full of tools and techniques you can apply during labour and delivery and also has positive birth stories from real mums with different birth experiences that all illustrate how well hypnobirthing has worked for them. 

It's a really inspiring book to reference, especially if I find myself second guessing my abilities or if I feel my confidence waning. 

I would say that the digital pack has worked slightly better for me (I think it's because I'm more of a visual learner), but the book complements and reinforces everything the course teaches you so combined the two are great for keeping your spirits and your motivation up!


I Can Do This Studio Birth Affirmation Cards* - I was very kindly gifted a set of birth affirmation cards by Hannah at I Can Do This Studio and they have been the perfect addition to my hypnobirthing education. The cards themselves are beautiful and all the phrases are really empowering ands uplifting to read. 

I keep the majority of the cards hung up on the wall by my side of the bed so that they are the first thing I see when I wake up and the last thing I see before I go to bed. I also keep one perched on the mirror in our living room (I spend quite a lot of time in that part of the house so it made sense to have one there). 

At times when I do feel my confidence slipping or I need a little reminder of how strong I am I look at them and repeat the phrases a few times in my head. This is normal enough to get me back on the straight and narrow. 

I think the affirmation cards will be incredibly helpful during labour and the birth (Ryan can read them to me if I can't do it myself) but even now in the lead up to the big day having them in my periphery at all times is enough for them to start embedding themselves in my subconscious. 

During labour I'm planning on having the affirmation cards displayed downstairs in the living room sitting in between some little tea lights I've bought. Even just being able to spot the outline of them out of the corner of my eye should be enough to prompt the positive feelings they are already evoking in my mind and fingers crossed help keep my spirits up if I am starting to panic.


My Hypnobirthing Playlist - A random fact you may not know is that Eric was born as a song from The Rocky Horror Picture Show was playing (Hot Patootie (Bless My Soul) for anyone who is curious). When it came to compiling my birth playlist back then I wanted upbeat and motivating tracks that I could dance, sing and ultimately push to. 

pinterest friendly image that shows a flat lay of a book, red roses and birth affirmation cards

But this time I've changed my mind. Hypnobirthing touches on using visualisations during labour so I've taken that idea and used it when finding tracks that I will want to listen to. 

Everything I have chosen evokes a memory, creates a mental image or is from something that makes me feel really relaxed. Every song or piece of music is calming and soothing and it is my hope that when my surges begin, instead of being scared and stressed, listening to the playlist will help me stay focused and remember to breathe


5/23/2019

What My (Fussy) Toddler Eats | Just Add Ginger


Up to a point, Eric was a really good little eater. He would try lots of foods and didn't really turn a lot down (except avocado, which I still haven't come to terms with). However, on the lead up to him turning two that completely changed and my once adventurous toddler became the fussiest, pickiest little thing and I just wasn't prepared!

It's gotten to a point where I just am having to wing it - which is pretty much the story of my life when it comes to motherhood anyway. I've gotten some advice from the lady who did Eric's two year review which I am trying to make work, but when it comes to meals, it's literally a guessing game as to whether he's going to eat what you put in front of him every single time. 

image shows a flat lay of a variety of foods on a black plate


And that's why I thought I'd write this post. Not only as an insight into what I feed my toddler but also to hopefully give a little support and inspiration to any parent out there who is currently going through the same thing. Because as frustrating a stage as it is, we are not alone in it!

Breakfast - This is easily the time of day when Eric eats the most. He is a creature of habit with breakfast so always asks for an apple or banana and then will have either a pancake, toast or a small pastry (as a treat) with it. Throw in some more fruit and some water and he'll happily munch away with minimal protest. 

Lunch - Before we had Eric's review I used to give him a sandwich, some dried cheerios and some more fruit and a yoghurt or cheese for lunch, but one thing that was suggested at his review was that I try switching lunch and dinner around to see if that helps with Eric's eating. 

So now - if we are not on the go - Eric will have a bigger lunch to dinner. He will have some leftovers, two fish fingers / chicken nuggets and some sort of vegetable or if I'm feeling daring, a jacket potato followed by fruit and cheese or a yoghurt! And it does seem to be working (kind of). Sometimes he will turn his nose up at what's on his plate but more often than not he will eat (or at least pick at) his food. 

Dinner - Eric's appetite definitely decreases as the day goes on, and realising this I have started to give him an earlier dinner and opt for something lighter - a piece of toast with cream cheese and some dry cereal, Weetabix or a scotch pancake with fruit usually go down really well. I give him his dinner in between 4.15-5pm and then if he still shows signs of being hungry I will offer him some milk before bed (although Eric is still not the biggest fan).

Snacks - Snacking is our biggest problem with Eric. If you gave him the chance he would just graze all day (I wonder where he gets that from.) I used to give him a morning and afternoon snack but now I only give him something if I need to bribe him up the stairs for nap time (or bedtime) and then we have the 'biscuits and bed' routine that I mentioned in this post.

However if Eric is showing signs of being really hungry fruit or dairy is always my go-to. Eric is a fiend of fruit so it always is a hit and since he has discovered apples he will happily carry one round with him chomping away. He eats the entire thing so it keeps him occupied for a good while and is normally enough to carry him over to the next mealtime.

pinterest compatible image showing a plate of food and title of accompanying blog post

What meals are a big hit with your little ones? Are there any tactics you use to get your fussy eaters to finish off a meal? Let me know your ideas in the comments.


5/19/2019

Our Private Scan Experience At Bump of Churchtown, Southport | Just Add Ginger


After my last pregnancy and how much it affected my mental health, this time round I wanted to go straight into things as prepared as I could be. True enough - I can't be in control of how my pregnancy was going to go, but I could be in command of managing my emotions and feelings of anxiousness that I know so, so well. 

A part of this was booking myself in for some private scans - little milestones I could look forward to if things should get a little rocky or I felt myself start to wobble. I'd heard about Bump of Churchtown from Codie, and after being told some really good things I decided to head there for a little peek in on baby.

Image: Bump of Church-town

Because we found out about Baby no2 so early the first thing I did was book an early reassurance scan. I think we went for this around 7/8 weeks and it was such a good decision to make. Nobody knew we were expecting and I was just so on edge that having the knowledge baby was nestled in there with its heart beating away was the comfort I really needed to carry me through to the dating scan. 

Stepping into the studio it immediately felt so welcoming. The decor and layout of the waiting room feels really intimate and helps take the edge off your nerves as you wait for your appointment - it is almost like you are sitting in someone's living room and the little rustic touches really add to the calm and cosy atmosphere.

Image: Bump of Churchtown

The first scan was so long ago that remembering it all is a bit of a blur but I do remember being so relieved that everything was okay I cried. The whole experience left a good impression on me, so much so that I decided to sign up for the studios scan package , which meant that I would get to come back an additional two times to see baby alongside the scans you receive on the NHS. 

Each time I came back to Bump of Churchtown I felt so well looked after. The staff must see so many women every day but they really do make the experience so special for you. Rachel (owner and sonographer) took the time to point out so many interesting things on the screen and answered any questions that we had. She was very patient with us when it came to bringing Eric (who naturally didn't keep still and wanted to raid all the cupboards and play with everything and really took her time with the scan to ensure we got to spend plenty of quality time with our littlest boy. At no point did we feel rushed or like there was a time crunch working against us. 

As someone who does get worried easily and is often visited by anxious thoughts, opting for private scans really helped to put my mind at rest. The studio is staffed by qualified sonographers so I knew I was in safe hands and Rachel also gave so much insight to what we were seeing during the scan and you just don't get that level of detail at your regular hospital ones (which is completely understandable - #noshade). 

I had private scans with my last pregnancy but going to Bump of Churchtown made the experience much more special - more than I could ever have hoped. Going there has been one of the highlights of this journey and the team made every visit just so wonderful for us. From seeing baby as a little tiny blob to finding out we were having a boy to one last look in at him in 4D I feel like going there has helped my pregnancy become such a positive experience and I actually miss having an appointment to look forward to.

When you find a hidden gem of an independent business that really leaves a lasting impression on you you should shout it from the rooftops and if you are pregnant or know someone who is and you are in the Liverpool area, then you need to book in to Bump of Churchtown. For a calm and comforting atmosphere, exceptional staff and an experience you'll cherish forever you really couldn't ask for a better setting!


5/16/2019

Dirty Dancing at the Liverpool Empire* | Just Add Ginger


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There's definitely one thing I really struggle with when it comes to being a parent and that is making time for myself. I find it really tricky. Partly because there are always a million and one other things that need doing and partly because I don't want to miss out on family time. 

flat lay image for playbill for dirty dancing - the classic story on stage with two pink flowers framing the programme


But when SeatPlan reached out and asked me if I wanted a pair of tickets for a show at the Liverpool Empire - well - the opportunity for a very rare night out sans husband and child sounded too good to refuse. So, with one of my friends in tow, on Monday evening we headed out to the city centre to watch Dirty Dancing.

Dirty Dancing is one of those films that is up there on my list of all-time favourites. From the music to the dancing to the absolute dreamboat that is Patrick Swayze all in all I must have seen it about a hundred times if not more. And with being so in love with the film I was really keen to see how it translated to the stage. Would it do Johnny and Baby justice? Or would I be left sitting there unable to separate the stage show from the film? 

official production photography for Dirty Dancing
Image: Alistair Muir // c/o Dirty Dancing Tour - The Classic Story On Stage

The minute we stepped into the theatre you could tell everybody was buzzing for the show. Everyone seemed so excited for it to start and were chatting and laughing animatedly amongst themselves. And as the opening music started and the whoops and cheers from us all came right on cue. 

I don't quite know what I was expecting from the show but it was completely captivating. From the seamless set changes to the music to the choreography it was almost like you had been sucked into the film. There were a little differences between the film and the stage production but all in all the story we all know and love so much was exactly the same. 

I'm going to be completely honest - because some of the set changes were really swift I did find myself getting a bit confused as to what was going on. But looking back I can appreciate the decision to do this. With the stage having modular props and sets the show ran really smoothly, drawing your eye from scene to scene with the same smooth transition that emulates the way you watch it on screen. 

official production photography for Dirty Dancing
Image: Alistair Muir // c/o Dirty Dancing Tour - The Classic Story On Stage
But now to the part that I'm sure most of you are reading this review for. Did the stage show live up to the film? In a nutshell yes and no. 

The main reason being that I don't think you could ever really fill Patrick Swayze's shoes. He is synonymous with Johnny Castle. Nobody could really portray the character in the same way. And the same with Jennifer Grey. The film and the characters are just too iconic. 

However what the production did do is portray the story in a new way. A fresh way. And if you can see the two as separate entities then you will love the production just as much as the movie. From the inclusion of a live band on stage to Kira Malou's charming and comic portrayal of Baby to the injection of humour in some of the staging it is a really fun show to watch. 

And the dancing ... oh my god the dancing. It was just sensational. Especially that of Simone Covele who plays Penny. The chemistry between her and Michael O'Reilly (Castle) as dance partners was incredible.

Dirty Dancing is a show that is sensual and sexy, seducing you with every song and dance number and drawing you into the story of Johnny and Baby. If you're a fan of the film you will find yourself joining in with those iconic lines ( 'I carried a watermelon' and 'Nobody puts Baby in the corner' got the best reception). And those who are new to the story will get swept away by the production. 

The show is still touring in the UK so if you'd like to catch it, head to SeatPlan to nab tickets while you can. But if the show isn't for you then there are lots more for upcoming shows available across the country (Les Mis is coming to Liverpool in the autumn and you can bet your bottom dollar I'm going to be twisting Ryan's arm to taken me to see it)!

Imagery: Alistair Muir - c/o  Dirty Dancing Tour - The Classic Story On Stage

* I was very kindly gifted a pair of tickets by SeatPlan to review in exchange for this post. This does not affect my opinions. For more information, please see my disclaimer

5/09/2019

How I Manage Temper Tantrums | Just Add Ginger


As a parent I am no stranger to tantrums. Eric infamously had his first one at 14 months (over a yoghurt of all things) and well....things have only gotten more interesting since. 

If you have watched Eric's 2 Year Update then you'll know that we feel that since he had his birthday Eric has just decided to grow up. And whereas there are some great improvements in some of his areas of development (he seems to be picking up new words every day) hand in hand with that has come a drastic increase in the intensity of his temper tantrums! 

image shows a mother, father and child sitting together on a blanket in the woods

Now I am by no means an expert. In fact, at the moment with my hormones being all over the place I find managing these tantrums pretty difficult. However it is for this reason that I wanted to share some of the things I do to cope when I do find myself in the middle of a temper storm. These are the things that make things a little bit better and - quite frankly - stop me going insane! 

Stay Calm - Yeah I know - easier said than done right? But as much as trying to cope with a tantrum can make you want to tear your hair out it's important to try and look at things from your child's perspective. I saw a quote recently about toddlers trying to manage their feelings and the importance of the adult to remain calm and it just resonated with me. 

So now I just sit or stand in silence and watch. I practise my "up breathing" (thank you hypnobirthing) and try and stay as level headed as possible. Believe me it isn't always easy, but if I start to get stressed I take a step out the room, have a minute to myself and then head back into the fray. 

Don't Punish The Emotion, Challenge The Behaviour - As he grows up I would never want Eric to think that he could not tell me something. So I'm starting early and when his temper strikes I let him feel. He can't verbally communicate with me so tantrums are his way of expressing himself when he gets completely overwhelmed. 

That being said I do intervene of his behaviour is starting to become unacceptable. Whether that is throwing things, hitting, knocking over furniture or gnawing. He isn't the type of toddler to lash out at others in malice (although the gnawing has been aimed at Ryan and I once or twice) and I'm working hard to not let it get to that point. 

And if he's getting really irate, not paying attention to what he is doing and is looking like he might hurt himself I (if I can) put him in his cot so that I know he is safe.

pinterest pin image from just add ginger - how to manage temper tantrums


Take A Breath - As exhausting as it is for Eric to have a tantrum it can be for me too and sometime I do struggle to hold it together. And that's okay. Because as parents we can't have it together all the time. So, if I know Eric is safe I do step away for a moment, take a deep breath and then carry on. I don't want him to see that I am not coping - he needs me and I need to be there. But I need to be there for myself too. 

Cry Out Of Sight - Once Eric has calmed down and we have moved on from the tantrum I put a pin in how I feel and come back to it when I'm alone or with Ryan. I vent, I cry and I get everything off my chest. You just can't hold on to things as a parent. It isn't fair to you or your child. So at the end of the day I let go of everything that has made me feel angry or frustrated or sad and I move on, ready to start over again the following day.


4/21/2019

5 Helpful Gifts For Mums-To-Be | Just Add Ginger


Let's kick things off with a big fat disclaimer - this post is in no way a passive aggressive means of me gift seeking from friends or family! I was really nervous to write a post like this just in case it was misinterpreted that way. But no, it is simply me sharing my thoughts on gifts I think a fellow mum-to-be would find incredibly useful. 

Baby showers are becoming more and more popular in the UK so if you are attending one soon and want to think a little bit outside the box, here are my thoughts on some great alternatives to the more obvious cutesy clothes, baby toys or keepsakes.

image shows a newborn baby's feet and legs

Nappies & Wipes - As a new parent your life pretty much centres around constantly keeping tabs on how many nappies you still have left in the house. The last thing you ever want is to be faced with a baby poo explosion and only then discovering you have just run out of nappies - especially if it's the middle of the night! 

With it coming up to Baby Event season in the shops, boxes of wipes and nappies tend to go on offer. And this is the perfect time to pick up a box or two. Yes okay - it's not as cute as baby clothes or a soft toy but it is a really, really useful gift to get someone that will be greatly appreciated!


 Self Care Supplies - When you've just had a baby your emotions can be all over the place. Your body has gone through a lot, your sleep pattern completely changes and sometimes you don't know whether you want to laugh or cry. It can be tough! 

Throw in the fact that there is a new little life that is totally dependent on you and time for self care is extremely limited. You just don't think about it in the same way anymore. But it is extremely important for both your physical and mental wellbeing. 

Putting together a little parcel of mum's favourite pamper products, ways to wind down or some tasty treats is a great reminder to her to take some time out and relax (even if it's just for a minute or two in the day.) 

Stuck for ideas? Bath or shower products, fancy tea bags or a jar of coffee and some biscuits or something chocolate-y are great additions, as are a candle or incense and some new pjs or fluffy sock. It all depends on what mum enjoys, but having that reminder that she is okay to take off that mummy hat from time to time is something she will really appreciate.


Bigger Baby Clothes - Mum may already have all the clothes she needs for baby's first months, but if you simply cannot resist the call of the cute babygrows and outfits then why not pick up one or two in a slightly bigger size? Babies outgrow clothes at what seems like the speed of light sometimes so having a few bits and bobs all ready to go for when little one moves up a size means mum isn't completely without and feels just that little bit more prepared for the months to come. 

Places that I love to shop for baby clothes and who offer pretty good sizing are Primark (for a true to size fit), H&M (who offer in between sizes compared to other shops), TKMaxx (for gorgeous one off designs) and Next or M&S (who I think do some of the best babygrows - the sizing is on the bigger end of the scale so things tend to last that little bit longer.)


Pre-Made Meals - Enjoy cooking or consider yourself a bit of an amateur chef? Then get yourself some freezable tubs and jump in the kitchen. Because after you've just had a baby eating can easily get pushed down your list of priorities (and sometimes even gets forgotten altogether.)  

Batch cooking and bringing boxes full of frozen food to a baby shower may seem odd but when mum (or dad) are in the delirious state of adjusting to a new routine having something quick and easy to eat that can just be thrown in the microwave will be a godsend. It might be a meal that take them ages to eat and they may end up enjoying it cold, but it is a meal. And it ensures that they are taking care of themselves as well as their little one.


A Helping Hand - When Eric was born, Ryan had three weeks off for paternity leave and if my mum hadn't come up straight afterwards to help me I think I would have been so distraught. Because being a mum to a newborn (especially if you haven't had a baby before) can be one of the loneliest times in your life. Everyone you know is in work, you might not have any mummy friends who are in the same boat and the days are long.

Offering your time or making plans for after the baby is born gives mum something to instantly look forward to. Of course, you need to gauge the timing (taking into account recovery and any paternity / holiday their partner may be taking) but just being there is an invaluable gift. Even if it's popping over for a coffee and letting mum have a shower or offering to take the baby on a walk for 20 minutes while she has a nap! It's a present that is absolutely priceless. 

Especially if you can plan for it to be a regular thing. Once every few weeks, once a month, or as often as you can. In those first couple of months where mum is trying to refine herself and balance life with a new baby, having that reminder that she isn't on her own and does have friends around her who are happy to sit with her, chat to her about anything other than being a mum, or to be a shoulder to cry on...I honestly think that is one of the best gifts you could offer.