The Frank Diaries: His Bright & Bold Bedroom

What feels like many, many moons ago, when Frank was just a plum in my tum, I started dreaming about his nursery having found out we were having a boy. Having pinned like a demon, I deduced that my ideal baby boy’s room was not very babyish at all. Instead I wanted a room that he could grow in to; a stylish, fun, eclectic space full of colour and pattern. I planned to share the various stages of progress with you, but here we are nearly six months later and I’m skipping straight to the finished product. Meh- who likes the middle stages anyway?

Shall we have a quick reminder of the room when it was essentially just a bland, beige dumping ground?

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But now… Ta-da!

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Now, I’m no interior designer and I’m sure I’ll be adding and tweaking as time goes on, but both Paul and I are thrilled with our (mainly my) efforts. Frank’s pretty indifferent but that’s to be expected.

The first big decision after painting the room white was the triangle feature wall. I knew I wanted a feature wall of some kind, and had considered stars, polka dots and just a simple block of colour, but it was triangles that seemed to fit my brief the most. They’re fun, modern, stylish and just a little bit masculine. And being stickers they’ll peel off easily when Frank decides he wants to cover his walls with Arsenal and car posters instead. Sigh.

I ordered the stickers from Etsy, and Paul and I spent an August afternoon applying them. Paul was just going to ‘supervise’ seeing as this bizarre triangle wall was all my idea, but ended up masterminding the insanely complicated pattern, and doing the majority of the labour seeing as I was 8 months pregnant and had a good excuse. The stickers were easy to put on (and take off when we went completely wrong with the pattern), and we probably had the wall done in about 3 hours.

On the opposite side of the room is the changing corner. I went for the ever-popular Hemnes chest of drawers from Ikea, and this houses all of Frank’s clothes. Next to it is a simple and not so attractive Argos storage unit containing his ‘toiletries’: nappies, wipes, creams, cotton wool etc. And yes, that is a portable cd player you see on top. I’ve gone old school.

The multi-coloured string lights are from Cable & Cotton, and are probably my best purchase of the whole room. Frank can’t get enough of them and we’d often take him up to the changing table when he was going through a particularly miserable phase, just to stop the crying. You can’t see it so well but there’s also a black and white mobile hanging  in front of the mirror. It was a gift from a friend and the spirals and stripes also have Frank squealing with delight. Never has having your bottom wiped been so much fun!

The final ‘zone’ is the reading wall. Once again, the picture shelves are an Ikea favourite (now discontinued), and the bear print is Not On The High Street. The white bench was part of an Ikea dining set and we keep it for when we have more guests than chairs, so to make a bit of a feature of it I sourced some colourful storage boxes for underneath which are currently full of toys, books and, erm, more baby wipes.

What else? I agonised over what rug to go for and ended up with two; a grey sheepskin rug for under the changing table and a pale blue one (featuring more triangles) for the middle of the floor. (I can’t remember for the life of me where it’s from, apologies.) And in terms of artwork I tracked down the Be Happy My Baby print having seen it on a Pinterest image, and both the Lion print and the Amazing Things Will Happen print were gifts from lovely friends.

It is genuinely a really happy, fun room to be in, and no matter how miserable I am when I’m having to change or feed Frank in the middle of the night, I always feel calm and content sitting in there with nothing but the fairy lights on. I am slightly nervous about him being overstimulated when he starts sleeping in there as there is lots to look at… but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

You like??

Sama x

 

 

 

Jennie & Andy: Let There Be Light!

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It’s been a surprisingly productive week in terms of wedmin. After the worrying, dithering and indecision of my last post I seem to have acquired a sudden decisiveness that’s most unlike me. On Tuesday I fell in love with some shoes for my bridesmaids, realized they were in the sale and about to go out of stock, and by Wednesday, after a mad dash around London by my bridesmaid Chantal to find the few remaining pairs, 6 sparkly pairs of heels were purchased. After months of going back and forth over where we’d spend our wedding night, we had a new idea, and had it booked and sorted within the week.

Back home my Mum’s cracking on with the decorations team. She had her group of ‘Stitch and Bitch’ friends over for a bunting sewing day, resulting in an enormous pile of over 500 bunting triangles! The jam jar pile is steadily growing, and we’re almost there with the vintage china collection.

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Ta-da!

The next job on my wedding to-do list is sort out lighting, and gosh there’s a lot of choice out there. I feel like lighting really is one of the big things that maybe we should have thought more about already. Firstly, for practical reasons, we’re going to be outside. The garden gets dark, and we’ve got a marquee with guy ropes. If we don’t get this one right we’ll have guests groping their way to the loos in the dark. We don’t want any disasters. Blood and wedding dresses don’t seem like a great combination… Secondly, for the more exciting reason, I love lighting. When I first started scrolling through Pinterest for wedding inspiration, some of the images I was drawn to straight away were off beautiful lighting displays, bare bulbs hanging in clusters over tables, tea light jam jars hung from trees, walls of fairy lighting twinkling into the night. I love the warmth and the atmosphere the right lighting creates.

As much as my decisions will be driven by what’s pretty, I’m trying very hard to keep in mind that whatever lighting we string up around the garden is going to have to be connected to a power source. That means we need to hire generators. I, like I’m guessing the majority of brides in my situation, don’t have the first clue about hiring generators!  Apparently you can also wire up strings of fairy lights to much more discrete car batteries, so I think planning that is a job that’s getting handed straight over to Andy or to my brother. Both far more technically minded than me! Any tips, hints or general ideas on this one are very much welcome!

Our marquee comes with a standard lighting package, which means simple up or down lighters from the main poles. Other than that we don’t have anything so far. Everything else we’ll have to add in, so now we come to the fun part – lighting inspiration! This is what I’ve thought of so far.

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Fairy Lights

First up, the classic – fairy lights. If I had my way, there would be fairy lights all over the house, all year round. As it is, Andy won’t allow much more than a string around the headboard of the bed. I’m thinking fairy lights are a must for around the poles of the marquee. They’d also be pretty wrapped around some of the trees in the garden to make everything glow once it gets dark.

Festoon Lighting

Ah festoon lighting, my newest love. There’s something really quite romantic about festoon lighting. I’ve seen pictures of the tent we’re having covered in festoon lighting and it looks absolutely stunning. I think there’s going to have to be some kind of lighting feature wall made out of either fairy lights or festoon lighting.

Lanterns

I’m a little bit in love with lanterns (can you guess a theme to this post!? ). Here in Hong Kong, we’ve just celebrated Mid-Autumn festival, which is a festival of lanterns. On mid-autumn night, children take their lanterns out onto the beach or into the park to gaze at the moon. It’s a hopelessly romantic festival, with the only light coming from hundreds of coloured paper lanterns. I would love to bring some lanterns into the day. I’m thinking of unlit ones perhaps hanging in the roof of the marquee, and maybe some lit with candles deeper into the garden.

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Candles

A Pinterest obsession of mine at the moment is candles; Candles in jam jars hung from trees, candles in paper bags lining pathways; Tall white pillar candles on tables; the list goes on!

Disco Lighting

As we’re (probably) not having a DJ or a band, this is another area that won’t just sort itself out. Do we want any sort of disco lighting? I’m not really sure. On the one hand, strings of festoon lighting are much prettier than swirling techno colours all over the ceiling, but then on the other hand, is it really a party without them? If we do decide we want them, then where on earth do we go to hire them? It’s not the sort of thing stocked in the pretty vintage hire companies we’ve used so far!

Fire Pits

I’m not sure this really falls under the category of lighting exactly, but I would love a fire pit. I’ve got visions of cozy blankets for the evening, a roaring fire and plenty of toasted marshmallows.

So that’s it, lighting ideas so far. It’s all so pretty I have absolutely no idea how to choose. Would it be over kill to just have it all!?

Jennie x

The Frank Diaries: Surviving the Newborn Stage

Hello you ruddy marvellous lot. Happy 2016 and and all that. We had the most un-celebratory New Years Eve on record I think. Homemade pizzas (one of which we forgot about and completely decimated), the last episode of the Agatha Christie that was on over Christmas, and the London fireworks on our phones whilst in bed. Watching the clock on Big Ben count down from 60, whilst simultaneously hearing the fireworks from 11 miles away due to the time delay, was a slight anti-climax though. I won’t lie.

Christmas was equally as low key but very pleasant indeed as we travelled round various parts of London and Kent visiting our four families. Other than dressing him in the obligatory Santa outfit, we didn’t make a huge fuss about it being Frank’s First Christmas™. Paul and I didn’t even bother getting him a present (shock horror!), although he did get some lovely bits from doting grandparents, aunts and uncles. And I enjoyed copious amounts of cheese, chocolate and alcohol. As I said, low-key but satisfyingly pleasant.

To accompany this blog post I thought I’d share some pictures that were taken at my Mum’s house over Christmas by my brother in law. He is by no means a professional photographer, but likes to sit and quietly click away on his fancy Dan camera. I love seeing the day from a reportage point of view, and as most of my photos of Frank are iPhone selfies enhanced by a clever Instagram filter, it’s truly lovely to now have some more natural images of him (and my gorgeous nephew, Eithan) that capture the ‘every day’. So thank you very much, Colin :)

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But anyway, this post isn’t about Christmas or the New Year. It’s about survival. Frank turned three months last week, which means as we enter 2016 I no longer have a newborn baby. My mind is boggled. In many, many ways it is a huge relief to be in the ‘infant’ stage. He’s still very young and vulnerable, but now that he sees so much more and his synapses have gone in to overdrive, his personality is really starting to emerge and he’s just so much more enjoyable. He’s also chubbed out big and is cultivating quite the double chin, which is super cute.

Frank was not an easy newborn. I don’t think I had unrealistic expectations, but he did (and still does, to be honest) cry an awful lot. See, there are babies who whinge when they want something and whimper when they’re unhappy, but are generally happy to gurgle and look around in blissful unawareness. But then there are babies who fly in to inconsolable rage at any given moment, turning purple in the process, causing the cat to fly out the cat flap in fear of his life, and stopping only to eat, sleep or poo. Frank was most definitely the latter.

In the depths of the night feeding sessions I would more often than not find myself asking the internet a desperate question. Why does my baby cry so much? How do I get my 4 week old to sleep for longer? Does my baby have reflux? What is colic? Baby forums became my sanctuary, and I’d scour the posts looking for other new mums who had asked the same questions, eagerly reading the answers and words of advice from those who had been there, done that.

But the problem with babies is that they are extremely changeable and totally unreliable. What seems to work one day might not work the next, and what might work for one baby may have the complete opposite effect on another. So it’s all trial and error, this baby rearing lark. However, three months in I’m pretty sure I know what my baby likes and doesn’t like now. We have a bit of a routine going. I’m down with the kid.

Here’s what works for us:

Baby wearing

Whilst pregnant I knew that I wanted some sort of sling. The hippy in me wanted a wrap as opposed to a structured carrier so I bid for an Ergobaby Wrap on eBay and had fun practising the basic wrap for newborns before he arrived. At three days old and with Paul instructing me via a YouTube tutorial, we somehow managed to get Frank in snugly and I felt like some sort of Earth Mother Goddess. It soon became clear, however, that when I most needed the sling (i.e. when Frank was massively overtired and screaming inconsolably), the Ergobaby just wasn’t going to cut it. Too time-consuming and complicated to get on. Some quick research and a call-out on a baby forum later and I had a NCT Close Caboo winging its way to me which is SO much better. In the early weeks Frank would usually nap in this once a day when I would potter around making lunch, tidying up etc. I wouldn’t say he particularly loved or loves the sling. He nearly always protests as I put him in and will generally take 5-10 minutes of frantic jiggling and shushing to settle him, but there’s no denying the sling is a great tool in the early weeks for a baby who just wants to be close to you.

Swaddling

In the first month I put out a couple of desperate, baby-related pleas on Facebook and got a multitude of helpful messages from my mummy friends. SEVERAL people suggested swaddling but I have to admit I was really reluctant in the early weeks, and I’m not too sure why. I think I thought he wouldn’t like it. Eventually I gave in and it changed everything regarding Frank’s sleep. He had a pretty severe startle reflex and having his arms bound to his sides improved his sleep enormously. I started with a Gro-Snug which worked well initially but kept riding up around his face in the middle of the night, and am now on Swaddle Me blankets. I use them for every sleep, day and night. In fact, I rely on swaddling so much now that I am quite scared he won’t settle properly once he starts to roll over and we can no longer swaddle! But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it…

Dummies

Ok, hands up who said whilst pregnant that they wouldn’t be giving their babies a dummy? I know I did. I’m not even sure why these little plastic wonders are frowned upon by many, but what I do know is that I’d bought a pack of two ‘just in case’ prior to Frank being born, and had effectively shoved one in his mouth within the first few days.

Nowadays his dummy is used as a sleep aid and I intend for it to stay that way. When he’s swaddled and on my shoulder, he’ll often start sucking on my jumper. In goes a dummy and he falls asleep fairly quickly, spitting it out just as he starts to fall in to a deep sleep.

White noise

Apparently it’s bloody noisy in the womb, so many babies are calmed by white noise. I use an app on my phone called Sleepy Sounds and Frank LOVES it. There are lots of different sounds on there but it’s the hairdryer he really responds to, calming in an instant if he’s hysterical, and sending him to sleep when it’s bedtime. I do have my concerns as it needs to be pretty loud to have any effect, and as it’s on my phone I don’t like having it too close to his head. But again, this is a big part of our sleep routine and something Frank struggles to settle without.

Rocking

Paul takes the mick out of me for calling Frank a ‘motion baby’ but he really is. Whether he’s rocked, bobbed, swayed or swung, Frank likes to move. However, I can already feel this constant motion already taking effect on my back and knees, and it’s only going to get worse as he gets bigger, which leads me to…

…The Swing Chair

A few weeks ago his napping was driving me absolutely mad, as he would wake- without fail- 30 minutes after going down. Every time. I’ve read a lot about it and realise now that it happens as he is coming out of his light REM sleep cycle. Whereas he should slip in to a deeper sleep at this point, the transition wakes him up and he can’t re-settle. You can’t get anything done in 30 minutes, and with me needing to get back in to Utterly Wow mode this month, I desperately needed a solution. The internet told me a swing chair would be my saviour, so we asked for one as an early Christmas present from his Nanny and Grandad, and I think I actually wept tears of joy the first time he napped in it and I had to wake him 2.5 hours later.

A few weeks in and it doesn’t work every time, but as I type he’s upstairs gently swinging away, having been down for 1 hour 4o and counting. The swing chair may be huge, cumbersome and ghastly to look at, but boy it delivers.

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So there we go. These are the tools that settle my demanding diva and have got me through the newborn stage. The ‘routine’ is quite extensive, and many a time I lament the fact that I have to do all these things to get Frank to sleep when other people seem to simply lie their angels down and walk away, but needs must. Some might say I’m ‘making a rod for my own back’ (possibly the most over-used sentence on baby forums), but I’m confident these are all just temporary solutions. As it happens, I’m pretty much following the method of American paediatrician, Harvey Karp who wrote The Happiest Baby On The BlockHis method is all about the 5 S’s: Swaddling (yep), Side or Stomach position (Frank goes to sleep on my shoulder or in my arms on his side), Shush (white noise), Swing (hell yes), and Suck (pass me that pacifier). And he’s a Doctor, so he must be right.

Right?

Sama xx

Paris & Joe: The One With The Wedding Dresses

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So I left my dress hunt having just had a wonderful, despite the bead-crushing, experience at Teokath in Canterbury. I knew the dress would be Jenny Packham but I didn’t want to go back to Teokath as I had my beady eye on a gorgeous number spotted on Pinterest, which I now knew they did not stock.

Unfortunately, it turns out the gown I was lusting after was actually a 2013 collection dress and I couldn’t find a boutique that stocked it, although I must point out that my “search” consisted of looking through each boutique’s online catalogue and you can take a guess at the accuracy of that. Eventually, out of sheer desperation, I emailed Pantiles Bride in Tunbridge Wells, a stockist of JP. Did they have the dress I was looking for? No. Could they borrow it? Yes!

And that was how the next phase of the dress hunt began, trekking up to Tunbridge Wells with my mum, maid of honour and sister on a Jenny Packham Designer Day, which not only meant heaps more Jenny Packham gowns than I could ever imagine but also a 10% discount if I ordered there and then. Imagine my disappointment when I arrived and found the one I wanted desperately to try had not arrived… Well actually I wasn’t that disappointed. It might have been the brightness of 30 glittering JP gowns, some I had never even seen, but I put the disappointment to the back of my mind and we got on with some serious dress trying.

Pantiles Bride is a genuinely stunning boutique, it’s all cream plush carpets, big thick drapes and you pad around in your socks. Fizz on arrival and (given that it was a rather cold day in April) the heating was on so I was lovely and toasty whilst hanging around in my beige granny pants. The thing I love most about Pantiles Bride, though, is Alex the bridal consultant who manages to inject a bit of humour and fun into what could be a really gushy serious affair. Don’t get me wrong I want the fluff that comes with buying my wedding dress, but I also don’t want someone who tells me I’m embracing all my bridal beauty when I clearly look like utter rubbish.

After much strutting and fizz guzzling we had managed to whittle the dresses down to two: Esme and Eden. Now these two are seriously stunning dresses and you only have to search “Jenny Packham” on Pinterest to catch a glimpse of the beaded beauties. But for some reason I just could not commit. I couldn’t pinpoint anything in particular but in hindsight I think I just didn’t feel a pull towards either of the dresses. Yes, they were lovely but I wanted to change little details and neither seemed like my perfect dress. We headed home on a promise to return at the end of the year, closer to the wedding when I might feel a bit more decisive and with an added bonus of Christmas shopping in Tunbridge Wells.

But it was not to be. I received an email from Alex in August to say that if I wanted the Esme dress I would need to place my order by the end of September as she was sadly being discontinued. All of a sudden the pressure was on. I began having Esme-related dreams and I knew I needed to go back and try it one more time, just to be sure.

So off we trotted on a sunny Thursday mid-September. By this point I was quite pleased having lost a stone since my last visit (I had also convinced myself that this was why I couldn’t make a decision) and the wedding was now less than a year away. Alex had told me that this time, the Jenny Packham I had wanted to try last visit would be in the shop. No pressure.

We arrived 10 minutes late, courtesy of Southeastern Trains, and at exactly the same time as my mystery dress. Alex had been hiding downstairs fearing my wrath at potentially a second disappointment of the dress not arriving. She took it out of its FedEx box in front of us and instantly I was in love. And luckily for me I loved it even more when I put it on! My mum had originally been rooting for Esme and my best friend’s vote was with Eden, but they both agreed that this was the best dress for me. Decision made, I couldn’t believe how easy that had been!

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Post dress purchase celebrations!

We dabbled with ordering it in Champagne, the colour that I tried it on in, but in the end my mum was quite set on Ivory and I didn’t care enough about having it in Champagne to dash her dreams of a blushing bride in white. I recently received a swatch of the material in the post and am super happy that I didn’t go for Champagne so I guess mum did know best.

I am now the most recent convert to believing in “when you try on the one, you’ll know”, having thought it was a complete load of rubbish before. Now I am just disappointed that I will only get to wear it for one day – I might have to organise an annual Friends-style gathering to stop the dresses gathering mothballs, or is that a bit strange??

Paris x

Paris & Joe: Bridal Shoes & Something Blue

 

Before launching in to this absolute corker of a post from Paris, I just want to thank everyone who read/shared/said nice things about my last excerpt from The Frank Diaries. There was me thinking the general reaction would be Jeez, cheer up love, you’ve just had a baby, and instead I got an outpouring of love and understanding and sisterhood and, most surprisingly, thanks. It wasn’t necessarily a difficult admission for me to share- let’s face it, I’m an open book when it comes to personal thoughts and feelings- but I totally get now that it’s a subject that other new mums may not find so easy to talk about. So I am truly humbled that my ramblings touched so many people.

Anyway, on to more exciting things… WEDDING SHOES. This week’s post from Paris might be my favourite so far or hers. Enjoy!

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If I thought that I could breathe a big sigh of relief after I had bought my wedding dress and reclaim my brain for thoughts other than wedding fashion, I was wrong. In the very same appointment that I bought my dress I was given the homework that any bride-to-be wants… shoes. Oh and underwear, but that is far more boring.

So this post is all about shoes. I would not normally consider myself a “shoe girl”. I have so few pairs of work shoes that it hasn’t been unknown for me to be dashing off to a last minute event, realising that all my suitable pairs are locked in the office and I am faced with the prospect of UGGS and a pencil skirt (great look, obviously).

Which brings me on to my next important point, being comfortable. If I’m not doing my daily commute in my pixie ankle boots (yep, still with the pencil skirt) I am usually chilling in some kind of converse type shoe or better yet, slippers. I don’t know how many pairs of slippers Joe has thrown away over the years, he is amazed that I have any left.

So with these being my shoe criteria it was clear to me that I didn’t want a massively high heel. As much as I grappled with the idea of adding some much needed length to my ridiculously short legs, I knew that I would be limping down the aisle, which wouldn’t be ideal. So I started ticking the “mid-heel” box.

I wanted something unusual but while the other brides-to-be I know head towards an overload of glitter I knew that wouldn’t be possible for me and my already super glitzy dress. Last year I went through a phase of rather loving the bright pointy court shoes that seemed to be floating around. I bought a pale yellow suede pair and wore them to a wedding, where they were immediately ruined traipsing through a muddy field. I probably should have known better with it being a December wedding and no amount of dry brushing or wet mopping could get them clean. One good thing did come from the ruined shoes though, I decided that I wanted suede shoes for my wedding and preferably in yellow or blue.

So that was the plan and I went on a Pinterest rampage collecting images of shoes from Kate Spade, Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo and Vivienne Westwood such as these:

They didn’t all match the brief but each pair had something a bit different. However, try finding anything on Pinterest in the real world! I was having serious shoe difficulties.

And my difficulties were about to get a million times worse, specifically, mum-level worse. She was not happy about my shoe dreams and was not afraid to make this known.

Now I do have to feel a little sorry for my poor Ma as she hasn’t really had much luck with my wedding. It has felt like I have broken her heart at every turn, whether it be not getting married in a church, not having a strapless princess dress and let us not even breathe about the time when I said I wanted to stay with Joe the night before (I believe Sama did this and I haven’t ruled it out just yet, sorry mum). The guest list couldn’t accommodate everybody my mum wanted and remember when I nearly bought my dress in champagne? Luckily for me I am about as eazy breezy about it as I can be but my mum’s instant dislike of less-than-bridal shoes did start a bit of a shoe wobble. And that’s when I fell in love with these beauties:

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Charlotte Olympia, Desiree. The pom-poms. THE POM-POMS! My heart sank at the £550 price tag as I tentatively asked Joe whilst hiding behind my computer screen:

“Joe… what’s my wedding shoe budget?” (This was a loaded question, the budget is my area of expertise.)

“I don’t know. What was you thinking?”

“Well, what do you think is expensive?”

“Hmm, what do you think is expensive?”

I was getting nowhere fast so I showed him the shoes. He liked them, I was bolstered. I told him the price and his response was a big fat laugh but I took it on the chin knowing that, having found them in the “bridal” section, my mum would absolutely love them and Joe was no match for her.

My mum hated them. And I think that is when I properly had that wedding realisation that all the wedding mags bang on about – you can’t please everybody, so just please yourself.

So when a few weeks later my bridesmaid, Sophie, whatsapped me these lovely blue suede numbers I knew that I had to have them and I didn’t care what anyone else thought.

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My blue suede beauties!

The Tallulah shoes from Hobbs were a complete steal at £65 after being 50% off and they are blue, suede, a bit pointy and sooo comfy. I keep strutting around the flat in them and practicing my aisle walk, which will involve absolutely zero limping. And do you want to know the best bit? My mum loves them. The irony.

So brides-to-be tell me all about your wedding shoe woes? Are we thinking traditional or something a bit different?

Paris x

Jennie & Andy: Unnecessary Panicking and Necessary Beautifying

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The past few weeks have been up and down on the wedding planning rollercoaster. It’s seen a wedding dress wobble- do I really love it as much as I thought I did? Am I completely sure this is the ONE out of all the many out there? Should I book a couple more bridal appointments, just to be sure…? A budget panic when I realised I haven’t actually factored in the cost of my flight back to the UK. Andy’s is booked, but mine isn’t – am I even going to be able to go to my own wedding?! I’ve had a heart fluttering moment when I realised Prosecco-on-tap vans are actually a thing, and a heart sinking moment of falling completely in love with a completely out of our budget videographer. The videographer I never knew I wanted, but turned out to be the videographer of my dreams. There’s even been the odd “why on earth are we doing all this, why don’t we just elope” wine-fueled chat too!

Luckily I’ve had my married bridesmaid Lucy, and one of my best friends who is getting married the week before me and going through so many of the same debates, questions and panics, to talk me through each and every wobble. I resisted the urge to go and try on more wedding dresses and fallen back in love with my own, remembered all the reasons we’re planning our wedding the way we are, and come to terms with the sad reality that the dream videographer is going to have to stay just that, a dream.

Despite these ups and downs these weeks have been quite productive, ticking a few more bits off the wedding planning to do list. After several months of dithering and indecision I’ve booked professional hair and make up for the day. I started out thinking that I’d do my own make up. It’s a pretty pricey addition to the budget, and I’d been scared off professional make up by those horrific make over photo shoots where you leave with about 3 inches of make up on your face, and eyes so ‘smokey’ you look like you’ve been punched. I want to look like myself on my wedding day, not a scary plastic bride. I was worried too, that being away from the UK I wouldn’t be able to fit in a trial, and the thought of someone else doing my make up for the very first time, on my wedding morning was quite a scary one.

With this in mind I had a couple of department store trips for product demo looks to attempt to recreate at home. It was after a few of these sessions I realised a truth about myself: I’m actually quite rubbish with make up. I can do a day-to-day mascara and concealer look, and throw on a bit of eye-liner for a night out, but other than that I’m clueless. I don’t actually own half the products that I would need to recreate any of the looks the lovely make up counter ladies did for me, and the list of products I would need would add up to a fair amount on their own. I considered the fact that by buying products I would actually be making an investment, that I’d be able to use them again but in reality, I don’t think I would. They’d just sit in my bathroom cupboard going slowly dry and past their best.

I decided, for me, professional hair and make up was the best option. I’ve booked The Wedding Hair Company, found through  the Little Book For Brides. After a scroll through their website I fell in love with the romantic, relaxed hair styles. It’s all very loose and pretty. Perfect for a summer day in the garden. I shared some ideas with them and they came back saying what I wanted was ‘them’ to a tee! They’ve promised me too, that we’ll be able to squeeze in a trial on my flying visit back to the UK in February so there won’t be any unpleasant wedding day surprises.

wedding hair inspiration

Relaxed, wavy, floral-entwined gorgeousness!

the wedding hair company looks

I’ve booked hair and make up for me and my Mum, and hair for my bridesmaids. Now it’s booked I’m completely happy with the decision. Mum is thrilled too – I think I get my inability to put on make up from her! I love the idea that I’ll have some body that can give me advice on how to get my fairly thin, fly-away hair into something that looks thick and glossy. I’m pondering extensions too, more for body than length. I’m excited to treat my bridesmaids to professional hair, too. They’ve been sending me ideas of things they like, which luckily are so very similar to the style of The Wedding Hair Company. As they’re all in matching dresses, I’m keen to them to pick individual styles for their hair. When it comes to make up, I’m hoping for a natural, pretty, glowing look that will stay in place all day. I want to look like me, but on a really, really good day!

Does anyone have any tips for wedding day hair and make up? Has anyone gone for wedding day hair extensions?

Jennie x

The Frank Diaries: Out of The Fog

I have logged on to finish this blog post so many times now, I’ve been that close to scrapping it altogether and writing about something totally different. I wasn’t exactly a regular blogger to begin with, but now I have a young baby who fights sleep all day long unless it’s on me, it’s become even more difficult to find the time to get online. Ok, let me rephrase that. I spend all day online. On my phone. One handed whilst breastfeeding/cuddling/housing a sleeping baby. But it’s become even more difficult to sit at a laptop and type. Is there a machine that will allow me to dictate future blog posts, I wonder? There should be.

What I originally set out to write about was the torrid time I had in those first few weeks. Reading this post back to myself, it now seems incredibly bleak, and, I’m pleased to say, out of date. Nearly 10 weeks in, we’re well out of the fog and I’m very much enjoying my beautiful, stubborn, funny baby and starting to enjoy the monotonous repetitive simple existence that is maternity leave postpartum. But I’m going to share it anyway. As is the way with this blog, my witterings serve not only as a permanent reminder for myself (and a good form of contraception when I start to think I could handle a second child), but hopefully as something for other shell-shocked, grieving, exhausted new mums to relate to.

So anyway. Here it is.

The First Two Weeks

I vividly remember what a close friend (and now mum to two beautiful babies) once told me when I asked how it was going after her first child was born. She said: “The only way I can describe it is devastating. Our life has been devastated.” I think there may even have been tears in her eyes as she said it. (Or I could hear it in her voice- I can’t actually remember if this was by phone call or face to face.)

Either way, the emotion behind and the conviction with which she said this simple statement really did take me by surprise. At this point I didn’t have many friends with babies, so my contact with new mums had gone little beyond a congratulatory card in the post, followed perhaps by a “Hey! Sprog is gorgeous. How’s it all going?” text several weeks later.

As I’m sure many of you can relate tomy Facebook feed these days is full of baby-related status’ (amongst the Buzzfeed articles and cat compilation videos). Proud arrival announcements, babies dressed as pumpkins/Christmas puddings/Easter bunnies depending on the time of year, selfies of mum and baby in bed together, all traces of exhaustion masked by a carefully selected Instagram filter (ahem, guilty). Prior to having my own baby I was led to believe that giving birth was horrendous and that sleep deprivation would be a killer, but that it would all be worth it because once he was here I would realise what true love really felt like, unicorns would sing, and life as I knew it would be complete.

I’ll be honest, the first two weeks with Frank were horrible. HORRIBLE. Whilst there were moments when I’d stare in wonder and bewilderment at this tiny person I’d created (usually when he was asleep), and tentatively whisper “I love you, Frank”, hoping that I meant it, the vast majority of the time I was experiencing one or several of the following emotions:

fear

Arriving home from the hospital I just remember feeling scared. Scared of the night ahead without professional support, scared of Frank, scared of the next time he’d want to feed (breastfeeding was excruciatingly painful before I discovered nipple shields, but that’s a whole other story), even scared of my much-loved home that now felt totally alien due to this strange creature we’d just brought in to it.

grief

Paul and I were shell-shocked. We were exhausted. Nothing was the same and everything was different. The life that we had spent ten years building together, the daily routines we’d established, the evenings we’d under-appreciated and the simple things that made us happy… gone. Those first few days were largely spent mourning our freedom and old life. And this made us both immensely sad. One evening I vividly remember gripping his hand tightly and whispering “I want to go back”. And meaning it. Which of course leads to…

guilt

How could I be mourning our old life? How could I even be contemplating a desire to go back and not get pregnant? It’s what I had so desperately wanted and struggled to get. It’s what thousands of women across the globe desperately want and struggle to have. Paul and I had created a life, a little miracle, yet in those early days I genuinely believed we’d made a ginormous mistake. And don’t even get me started on Lenny. Our ginger fur ball, our ‘first-borne son’ as Paul affectionately calls him, who was completely freaked out and all but disappeared in those first few days. Several times I would seek him out in a lonely corner of our house, bury my wet, snotty face in his fur and whisper “I’m sorry, Lenny, we still love you, don’t hate us”.

exhaustion

You don’t know what true exhaustion is unless you’ve made it to the final interrogation stages of SAS: Who Dares Wins, or you’ve just had a baby. In the 62 hours between going in to early labour and leaving hospital I think I got about 3 hours sleep. Once home, I was lucky to get 2-3 hours of broken Z’s a night for the first week. Physically, you can deal with it; the adrenaline somehow keeps you going. But it’s the mental exhaustion that’s the killer. That’s what had me in tears multiple times a day for a reason I couldn’t even begin to understand or articulate.

lonliness

Due to Paul’s job, he was only able to take a week off work, and before I knew it he was kissing me goodbye at 8am on a Monday morning and shutting the front door behind him, leaving me…and Frank. After the initial what the hell do I do now panic, we’d somehow make our way downstairs and set up camp on the sofa. And there we would remain for the majority of the day.

My favourite time of day, a moment of calm and respite, was late morning. Frank would either be feeding or asleep on me, tea and biscuits would have been consumed, Facebook/Instagram/Bloglovin’ scoured, Holly and Phil’s friendly, familiar faces on the tellybox. Despite the severe lack of sleep, this was cosy and comforting and quite nice.

I was also lucky enough to have someone pop in nearly every day- whether it was my Mum, Paul’s mum, a close friend or even the midwife. I wasn’t good company of course- more often than not I would just cry and talk about how bleak life had become and how much I wasn’t enjoying it- but the support was there, and for that I will always be so, so grateful.

But, by heck, those first couple of weeks were lonely.

misery

What you get when you combine all the above. The ‘Baby Blues’ as they like to call it. There’s no doubt about it, for the first two weeks I was seriously glum.

cuddles

Glum. (But definitely enjoying sofa snuggles.)

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8 days old and doing his best Mr Burns from The Simpsons impression.

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The calm after the ‘hysterics at 3am’ storm.

Things didn’t suddenly get better once we entered week three, but it was at this point that I realised I had to snap out of my misery and self pity, and began to see the woods for the trees. (I have no idea what that phrase means, but I think it’s contextually accurate.) Feeding had become infinitely better, I was getting more like 4 hours of broken sleep a night which was meagre but manageable, Frank and I had established some sort of daytime routine, and- wait for it- I was getting out and about, even if it was just to walk down to the corner shop to buy yet another pack of bourbon biscuits.

Much has happened between now and then. We’ve had the dreaded ‘colic’, on-going jaundice, dabbles with cranial osteopathy, a bout of mastitis, and a tongue tie division (and subsequent regrowth). I may well go back and expand on some of these events at some point, but given the time it’s taken me to share this particular passage of time, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

In the meantime, I want to say to any new mums what I was told again and again in those early weeks.

It does get better.

Infinitely better, in fact. He will still frequently and inexplicably scream the house down, his sleep is seriously questionable and I worry every day that I’m not doing this parenting lark very well. My breasts are unrecognisable, Paul and I get infuriated with each other far more often than we used to, and I still miss my independence immensely.

But I can now say that I am well and truly, head over heels in love with my little boy. I mean… look at him!

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Til next time…

Sama xx