Ava with her doll's house

One of my favourite things to do is to watch my little girl happily and contentedly playing with her toys by herself. When she doesn’t know I’m there or has just got so completely absorbed in her play that she forgets I’m there and I can watch her with her big imagination creating lovely scenarios with her toys. She’ll talk to them and move them around and boss them about and it’s so adorable. I love to just sit and watch her role playing and I’m often surprised at just how much creativity and imagination such a small person can have.

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Imaginative play can help to develop and improve fine and gross motor skills, allows for self-expression and empathy for others and helps to develop problem-solving skills as well as language skills. It’s important to let children sometimes play by themselves allowing them to play exactly how they want to, to develop these skills.

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It always makes me smile when her play involves copying off mummy or daddy, like when she makes cups of tea for us or herself with her tea set, and when she follows me round the house sweeping while I sweep and chatting to herself or to her toys or to me.

She’ll sit by her dolls house and talk to the family that live there, tuck them up in bed and put them in the bath, and move the furniture around; completely and utterly involved in this little world she has created. She loves (and so do I) her pretty wooden dolls house ‘Blossom Cottage’. It’s not too big so it doesn’t take up too much space and it is easily moved around by a handle in the roof (Ava also likes to use the handle to post the dolls through!). Blossom Cottage comes with a really sweet little furniture set and a cute wooden family so you don’t have to buy everything separately which is great, and I think it’s a really good price for a nice wooden house. The dolls house with the family really encourage and allow imaginary play, and she can easily play alone or mummy can join in too. I love the creativity a dolls house inspires – I’m not a very creative person at all; but a dolls house and dolls make it so easy to think of ways to play together and brings up unlimited things to chat and think about; I love it. Plus, everyone needs a sheep in their bedroom.

Big Game Hunters have so many lovely wooden toys on their website http://www.dollshouses.co.uk and I especially love the Le Toy Van Play Oven. Wooden toys are my favourite type of children’s toys – I think they look so lovely, and they last really well too.

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Ava has very recently started to be interested in dressing up for the first time, inspired by lots of dressing up clothes at her toddler class. We always had a big dressing up box when my sister and I were growing up and we loved role playing in our fancy dress (I was mostly a bride), so I can’t wait to share that love with her and expand her fancy dress collection, while watching that imagination of hers develop even further.

Would I buy it myself? Yes definitely, it looks nice, is a great price especially as you don’t need to buy furniture or dolls separately, and Ava loves it.

We were sent the Blossom Cottage Dolls House & Furniture & Family from Big Game Hunters to review, but all views and opinions are my own and completely honest.

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APRIL

April 1, 2014

An April Stroll

April already. I don’t flaming believe it. Ava is 2 and 3 months already. I am 29 and lots of months already. It feels like life is flying by recently, even more so than usual and it’s been a big blur of sickness (yes, even more) and tiredness. Or maybe that’s just how I’m feeling today. Tired and meh. I’m been feeling totally overwhelmed recently with how much there is to do and how much I want to do, and there’s so much to do that I don’t know where to start so I’m not doing any of it.

We want to move house as soon as possible; we would like to move to a nicer area so that Ava can go to a good school and so that we can walk out our front door and be happy to have a stroll around and walk to the village park or pub or both. At the moment the area we live in is not that great, and it is certainly not a pretty village. With this house we compromised on the area to be able to buy our first house, and it’s a nice house and it’s a good size; but with the next house we will most likely have to compromise on the house to be able to buy in an area we want to live in. But before all that jazz we have a lot of work to get done to make this house ready to sell. And it’s very overwhelming. We had almost everything done on this house when we bought it, but because it is an old house, the damp has crept back in and the walls have begun to crumble; and everything leaks, breaks and causes us problems. As well as all of that, we have so much stuff to sort through, get rid of and organise.

I’m also currently setting up a new website that I am starting, that I am rather excited about but am not getting much time to keep going with it now that Ava rarely naps these days, and then in the evenings after she is asleep I am just so tired that I can’t bring myself to crack open the laptop.

I decided at the beginning of the year that I was finally going to learn (teaching myself) to play the piano this year. I got my first keyboard, tried to play the first week without Ava banging her own tune on the keys, and then since then it has sat gathering dust in the nursery/spare room. I really really want to play (and I will), but I need to get a stool and a keyboard stand and go off on my own once a week or so to the nursery to do it. However, the nursery/spare room/dumping ground is full of stuff that needs sorting out and that I haven’t had the time to sort out yet. I feel like everything I want to do in my life is holding on for when we move; and that cannot come soon enough. Although I’m not even sure it will be this year *waaahhhhh*.

Street Dancing classes have also not appeared in my life yet either, despite trying (really). I just can’t seem to find a class that is local to me. There’s lots of adult tap, ballet and ballroom-type dance around but surprisingly very few street dance classes. Maybe it’s because us adults are too uncool to be street. Although I still think I’m down with the kids. Did that sentence just prove I’m actually not?

So April, bring it all on; all the spring cleaning, sorting, organising, learning, creating, moving and hopefully SUNSHINE and happiness.

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Ava: 26 Months

March 8, 2014

Ava at the library

Loves: her building blocks, Justin Time (a children’s TV programme), our cats, dancing with mummy, her pull-along Brio doggy, splashing in puddles, being cheeky, socks and wearing as many as possible at a time, having her toe nails cut (?!), walking, chasing the cats, playing with the cats tails, kissing the cats, annoying the cats, ignoring mummy and running away.

Dislikes: having her nappy changed, getting dressed, doing as she is told, sitting in trolley’s, not being allowed to walk somewhere i.e around the supermarket (I’ve only got two hands!), mummy going to the loo (??!).

Favourite Foods: Butternut Squash Risotto, Pizza, chocolate buttons, Pate sandwiches, Egg sandwiches, chocolate buttons.

Favourite Toy: Her pull-along Brio dog ‘Doggy’. I tried to call him Humphrey, but she insists on Doggy. He even came on a walk with us the other day and is only slightly worse the wear for it. And also Woofy (the Sheep) as usual. My girl is really imaginative when it comes to names. ‘Woofy’ is only ‘Woofy’ because she thinks he’s a dog. Plus there’s two Woofy’s. Like I said; imaginative.

Favourite Book: She’s not been as interested in her books recently, despite getting lots of lovely new one’s for Christmas. But we went to the library this week and spent some time there and got a few books out and she’s started showing a bit of an interest again.

Challenges this month: EVERYTHING! She is one difficult child suddenly this month. She is testing out her boundaries to their limits, and mine. The week before last was awful, so….. getting her to listen to me, trying not to say ‘no’ too much, trying not to yell at her, getting out of the house (after chasing her around for an hour and repacking her bag/my bag/everything after she has unpacked it for a tenth time, and doing her shoes up again and changing her bum again – not her fault I know), stopping her from chasing/hitting/throwing things at/getting scratched by/kissing to death – the cats, stopping her from pulling my hair, getting through breakfast without twenty meltdowns…. and the rest!

It’s an amazing but difficult time! I can’t believe it’s March already – it’s the boys 30th birthday next week! We’ve got lots going on and I’ve got to wrap all the millions of presents I’ve bought him (and I’m a crap wrapper; rapping on the other hand I’m pretty good at), so I’ve got a busy week ahead of me. Hope you have a good one!

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This Lovely Age

February 12, 2014

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My mornings usually start with Ava being brought into our bed by daddy. She’ll often wrap her arms around my neck and give me a kiss and then try her best to get back to sleep. I’ll be half asleep but it always makes me smile.

After breakfasts she’ll say “Oddjob (orange), geen (green), white haveit”! Which means I have to pass her my many bottles of vitamins and she’ll shake, rattle and roll them all over the place, practicing her colours and her counting until: enough. “Out” she’ll say; and it’s time to play.

She tells me she loves me many times a day ‘love you mummy’ . She goes into her own little imaginary play world where she huddles up with all her toys; talks to them, bosses them around and has very serious conversations with them. Then she’ll run in to me and say “Look at me mummy!” and shows me whatever it is she’s done that she’s really proud of (filled her little bag with jigsaw pieces for example).

She loves bathtimes with Daddy and runs her little naked butt along the hallway without fail every time in excitement. She knows words and phrases I hadn’t even realised she had picked up on us saying, and her ability to remember something when she has only been told it once astounds me. Every day she makes me laugh with the funny little comments she comes out with. She loves dancing now; we spend lots of time holding hands with each other and her favourite toys and dancing round the room giggling and silly.

She is the most loving little character and wants to shower everyone and everything with her affectionate (aggressive) cuddles and kisses (imagine gritted teeth and squeezing).

This is such a lovely age.

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Sunday Schmooze {No.2}

February 2, 2014

So I failed already. Miserably. I said I was hoping to write a Sunday Schmooze post every Sunday and I fell at the first hurdle: the second week. So let’s just forget that idea shall we? I’ll write a Sunday post whenever I can and hopefully that will be most weeks. Consistency is not my forte it seems.

Anyhoo; it is our friends 30th birthday today so yesterday we partook of a little day drinking that became evening drinking which was rather good, and we haven’t done that in so long. It was a fun day and I love spending time with my friends. There’s lots of us turning 30 this year (eek) so there’s going to be an awful lot of celebrating being done. I’m thinking of doing ‘Go Ape‘ for my birthday in July. I’ve always wanted to do it and I think it would be a great thing to do with all my friends and family.

This week I got some new jeans because my usual one’s have a little hole underneath the flies (grand) and I went for a different style this time. I got the Topshop Joni jeans in black and I’m loving them so far. They are highwaisted and skinny (of course), and I love that I can wear them as normal jeans with a top over as normal or I can wear them with something tucked in or a crop top (I mean with the tiniest bit of skin showing) and show off the high-waisted-ness of them and my shape a bit differently. I haven’t gone for black jeans for a while and it’s nice having them again because they go with everything. I’ve also got some high-waisted black trousers this week to wear for going out so there seems to be theme going on. I don’t know if they are suddenly on trend or if I have just come across them more but I like it. They make me feel a bit different in my style which I always like. I tend to live in one pair of jeans because I always have a favourite that I throw on, but I’m hoping that I’ll mix it up a bit with my new Joni jeans and still wear my Leigh jeans (after a bit of sewing action happens – where’s mum?).

I also got my hair cut this week to just below my shoulders! That’s quite a few inches off! I haven’t had it this short in years but I just fancied a change. I always get bored with my hair and it grows quite fast at the moment so it’s not a problem if I don’t love it. But I’m liking it so far! It feels weird having shorter hair again but it just feels a bit cooler or something and I can have it a bit more mussed up and I like it!

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Hope you’ve all had a great weekend!

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What I Read

January 30, 2014

Rivers of London

In the last few weeks I have read the majority of the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch (Midnight Riot in the US). If you had asked me during the first book if I would now be on the fourth (and final at the moment) one of the series I would have said no siree. I didn’t love the first book but I did like it. I found it a little too gruesome for me with faces falling off all over the place, but I did enjoy reading it and liked the characters, and that it is quite different from what I normally read (lovey dovey girly books). I have owned Rivers of London on my kindle app for quite a while now, and tried reading it once before but couldn’t get into it easily. After finishing it I decided I wanted to find out what happened next to the characters and wanted more magic in my life. I have now read:

Rivers of London
Moon Over Soho
Whispers Under Ground

And I’m about to begin Broken Homes. But I’m trying to make myself wait a little bit before starting this one so I don’t stay up all night reading for at least a little while.

I much preferred the second and third books to the first, which never happens, and apart from the gross-ness of the first I think that it may be because you know the characters a bit better by the sequels and perhaps care more about what happens to them. I do think it’s mostly because I just preferred the plotlines in the second and third books though.

The series is centered around a young police officer called Peter Grant who, after an encounter with a ghost finds out that he can do magic and is recruited into a secret branch of the Metropolitan Police that deals with magic and the supernatural.

One thing that drives me absolutely crazy about these books is how terribly edited they are. They get worse as they go along, and there are literally mistakes every few pages in some of them; words missed out, extra words and more. I can’t take it. How can a published series of books be so poorly edited that it looks like they haven’t been proof-read at all. I kind of want to offer up my proof-reading services to the editors because they certainly need to get some better one’s. I care about good spelling and grammar and I could take the odd tiny mistake, but tons and tons in a published book is just ridiculous! Ok I’m done.

The books are described as ‘urban fantasy’, but honestly, that would have put me off if I’d known that first and hadn’t heard some good reviews. Even though I loved The Harry Potter books (which I don’t think these books are like at all by the way) and all the magic involved I generally like my books to be realistic and relatable; and my science mind sometimes struggles with things that aren’t real. Not that I’m saying ghosts aren’t real. Or river goddesses. But I’ve still really got into these books and am looking forward to starting the next one. I think it might be because they are based in a real place (London), and it is the real world we live, but with magical creatures in the mix.

These books aren’t perfect but I’ve definitely enjoyed them and will keep on reading them if more are published. Hopefully I’ll be proof-reading them at the same time so no-one else has to suffer.

Have you read any of the Rivers of London series? Do you think you will? Let me know about any books you’ve read recently and loved in the comments – I’d love to hear.

Follow me on Bloglovin’ here and you’ll make me a happy girl ;)

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Lilly and Sid Review

January 21, 2014

Lilly and Sid; a children’s clothing brand recently sent Ava this lovely snuggly jumper dress.

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It is an Angora mix super soft knit, and it really is super duper soft. I can’t stop snuggling her when she is wearing it. It is so thick and warm and perfect for our winters; not only is it great for wearing to the park and for a long cold winter walk, but I also find myself throwing it on her when it is really cold in our house. (And then spending the rest of the day cuddling!) It looks cute with tights or black leggings and sometimes even bare legs in our house!

It is machine washable which is a huge bonus although it has gone slightly bobbly after lots of wearing and washing. Lilly and Sid do free next day delivery on orders over £40 if you order before 3pm.

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Lilly and Sid baby clothing is designed in London; inspired by street trends and vintage treasures with a British twist. They aim to provide timeless pieces, with quality and attention to detail a key driving force. In 2012 Lilly and Sid were voted best selling baby wear brand amongst UK boutiques. They donate 5% of their profits to UNICEF which is wonderful and their limited edition range comes from ethically sourced factories in the UK and offshore.

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Sunday Schmooze {No.1}

January 19, 2014

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1. I’m going to try to write a post every Sunday (we’ll see how that goes – wish me luck); A Sunday Schmooze: a chatty post where I talk (ramble?!) about the happenings of my week or whatever is currently tickling my fancy (rude?). This is the first one.

2. We went back to Ava’s toddler group this week after the Christmas break (it started last week but we had a sickness bug AGAIN); she is suddenly one of the loud confident one’s! She just wants to hug and love everyone all the time, it’s so cute. She shouted “bye everybody, love you” when we left! Because it was Ava’s birthday over the holidays she got to wear the birthday hat and everyone sang to her. :)

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4. I’ve recently realised Amazon.co.uk sells quite a few things that we sometimes struggle to get hold of like Ava’s snacks and my echinacea and raspberry tea, and most things are cheaper than buying them from the supermarket if you buy them in a bit of a bulk. I’ve become a bit addicted this week to trying to think of things that we already get that amazon might sell cheaper to save some money!

5. We had a lovely Carrot and apple fresh juice at my mum and step-dad’s this week and I love the feeling it gives me putting something really healthy inside of me. I do make some green smoothies at home but I really want to try to do a few a week and put things we already have in the house into them; like coconut oil, almond milk and coconut water; to get lots of goodness into all of us. I’m having trouble getting Ava to drink anything other than water (which is all she’s ever drunk, except milk of course), but we made progress the other day when she tried two sips of carrot and apple juice. It’s a start people, it’s a start.

Hope you had a great week!

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A Year in Birds and Lilies Land - 2013

In January 2013 I mused on the things I wanted to change about myself in ‘Goals for 2013‘; these included to stop comparing myself to others (still do!) and do more exercise (which I did! Yay!).

February saw some ponderings of the painful variety in ‘Motherly Musings – Immunisations‘; where I talked about why we had decided to immunise our daughter.

I shared my ‘35 Before 35‘ in March, on which I better get cracking; as well as ‘5 Things I’ve Learnt as a Mother‘.

April was a good one for me, with ‘How I’m Getting Back to My Happy Weight in 4 Minutes of Exercise a Day‘ (I’m still doing this), plus ‘And then…. {There’s always something new to figure out with these kids}‘ – which is still totally true.

In May I shared how excited I was for the summer months with Ava and what we would get up to, and my disbelief at having a 16 month old (she’s now TWO, disbelieving self of the past!) in ‘16 Months‘.

June saw me opening up big time with ‘My Infertility Story‘, for which I have got so much amazing and lovely feedback on, which I am so grateful for.

I tried to get myself to slow down in ‘We’ve Got Time‘ in August, and also shared loads of pretty pictures from ‘Our Summer Holiday to Cornwall‘ (makes me long for summer).

I went for a bit of a moan in October talking about the ‘Whirlwind‘ that is life: including washing, sickness bugs, the terrible two’s coming early and tiredness. It was a good one! There’s a couple of pretty wedding pictures in there too.

‘Breastfeeding, Sleep and Our Family – How Our Daughter Started Sleeping Better in a Week‘ in November was a good one for me to write because it meant we were starting to get more sleep!

December consisted of Ava posing in beautiful clothes in ‘Susie and Toto Baby Boutique Review‘, as well as ‘Ava’s Christmas List‘ and in ‘Ava: 23 Months‘ I revealed my daughter’s dislike for daddy at times and the challenges we were facing with an almost two year old. To finish off the year we wished you a Merry Christmas in ‘Mistletoe and Wine. And Cheese‘.

It’s been a great year and thank you so much to everyone who has supported me and this blog; and shared, liked and written comments. I really appreciate you xxx

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Happy New Year!!! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

This year my motto is to lighten up. I feel like I need to have more fun and try to relax and not worry about the little things. I never used to stress so much when I was younger (which I’m sure is normal) and I actually used to think it was a bit silly when people said they were stressed without any actual big stressors in their lives.

I have a young daughter and I want our days to be fun and happy and playful. I don’t want her asking me to play but me being too caught up in housework and the mundanities of every day life to get down on the floor and play with her.

I have realised that I worry and moan about far too many little things and it doesn’t solve anything so I am going to chill out about the small stuff, play more, dance more, kiss more, be silly more and focus on what’s important; my family and friends and living a good (and healthy) life. This isn’t really a resolution (although I suppose it kind of is) but more of a way to live my life from now on. I feel really optimistic that 2014 is going to be a great year and I’m really excited! (And chillaxed!!!)

Here’s to a wonderful, fun-filled, happy and lightened-up(?!) 2014! CHEERS!

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