White Cotton Peonies

Becoming a Johnson’s Ambassador…

Parenting / May 16, 2018 / 0 Comments

You may recently have seen from the ‘gram that I have been chosen to be a Johnson’s Baby Ambassador this year. As a brand that I grew up with, I was delighted when the team at Johnson’s approached me. Of course, it was a no-brainer that I’d accept. I wanted to write a quick post to explain why I’m so excited to be working with them and what you can expect over the coming year.

WHITE COTTON PEONIES

This blog and my social channels are a way of documenting our lives for the girls to look back on in years to come. In the process, it’s introduced me to some awesome people (yes, I’m looking at you) and of course paid collaborations always help towards paying the bills. However, I turn away a lot more paid work than I actually accept.

To become an ambassador for a brand is not something that I take lightly. I have to truly believe in what they’re doing, their products and their vision. I can honestly say that’s the case for Johnson’s.

WHY JOHNSON’S?

When I was preparing for Bells to arrive, I spent months preparing all of the “stuff” that we would need for her (this was consolidated into days for poor Millie). I carefully selected monochrome nursery accessories and toys (which later got replaced with tacky bright toys, but I digress), Scandi baby fashion and the very softest cotton muslins. However, when it came to choosing baby toiletries, I didn’t give it a second thought, I just grabbed Johnson’s Baby Bath and Lotion.

I am amongst millions of people to whom Johnson’s provides familiarity and confidence that they’re soft on little one’s skin. Both my mum and grandma used their products and so I knew that they must be good. Bells and Millie have sensitive skin and I have to be careful what I use on them, but Johnson’s has been part of our daily routine from day dot and I couldn’t be happier.

BAD REP

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room. Johnson’s have bad rep. They’ve had lots of bad press recently and often posts that I’ve seen from other bloggers promoting their products are met with a slew of criticism from others who have been misinformed and innocently believe a lot of the bad stuff that they’ve been told or have read. However, if I’ve learned anything since the days of dial up (yep, I really am that old), it’s that you shouldn’t believe everything that you read online.

To be 100% honest with you, this did make me nervous about partnering with them, not because I don’t love the brand, but because it’s hard for misinformed people to tell you that you’re not doing the best for your child. However, I’ve talked at lengths with the team at Johnson’s and I like them, I really like them. They actually care. Not in a corporate “care” kinda way, but in a genuine “we want to make a difference” kinda way. Therefore, as an Ambassador, my job is going to be to help dispel some of the myths for you, to speak to their science boffins to let you know more about the research and development that goes into each of their products and to hopefully give you some sneak peaks of things to come.

DISPELLING THE MYTHS

So, here are some of the basics that you need to know. Johnson’s baby products are free from parabens, Formaldehyde, phthalates, alcohol, soap and asbestos. They don’t cause cancer. They aren’t tested on animals. What’s more, some of the products are clinically proven to be as gentle as water and are supported by the Royal College of Midwives. All of these things are proven and over the coming year, I’ll be helping to give you some of the “sciencey” stuff that proves this.

JOIN ME

Along with meeting scientists, baby experts and having tonnes of exposure to Johnson’s smart folk, the Ambassadors are going to have unprecedented access to the brand. You can follow our journey using the hashtag #johnsonsambassadors. I hope you’ll join me for the ride.

 

#Ad. In the interest of being open and honest, this is a paid collaboration, but as I said, I wouldn’t choose to partner with them if I didn’t like or believe in their products. Pinky promise.

Stokke opens at Westfields…

I recently had the pleasure of attending the launch of Stokke’s first European standalone store. I’ve always lusted after their prams (hello middle age) and made my first Stokke purchase when we bought the Tripp Trapp. The Scandi brand are infamous for their well designed, well crafted products which stand the test of time. Yes, they may be towards the higher end of the price range but they’re designed to have flexibility meaning that they grow with your child.

Of course most people are likely to have discovered their highchairs (they’re the best you can buy in my opinion), but it wasn’t until I walked in to their store that I discovered they sell so many other things. Take for example their Flexi Bath! The concept is genius, not only folding flat for easy storage but making it perfect for travel (no more washing Bells in tiny sinks, poor love!).

It was great to try the products first hand allowing us to get a proper feel for them. We recently purchased the Newborn Set for the Tripp Trapp which has been invaluable with a toddler in the house (what is it with pokey fingers?!?) so we’re thinking of getting another Tripp Trapp for Bells as it would be even more perfect now that she’s becoming an independent lady… cue Beyoncé. Also on my wish list are their MyCarrier (Millie wants be held constantly so I’m hoping it will free my hands) and Sleepi which is a cot which cleverly transitions into a bed. I guess my bank manager will be hearing from me!

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For now, Bells is obsessed with the bath toys that they kindly gave to her. Bathtime has become considerably longer and the floor considerably wetter but it’s worth it when you see how happy she is .

Massive thanks to the Stokke team, it was lovely to see you all…  and of course any excuse to visit Westfields is a good one for me. If you fancy checking it out for yourself, it’s in the newest wing (just opened) if Westfields White City, London.

M xox

A positive C-Section…

ParentingPregnancy / Apr 27, 2018 / 0 Comments

Firstly, hello world. Sorry that I’ve been MIA… having two under two is more time consuming than I’d imagined (what a fool) and then of course there is dreaded reflux thrown into the mix… However, we’re all well, settling into life as four and finding our way as a newly expanded family.

I’ve been wanting to write this post, to share our experience of Millie’s birth, as even though it was by c-section, it was a lot more positive than that of Bells and I hope that it will help others who are faced with the same situation.

OUR FIRST BIRTH

With Bells, I was convinced that I was going to get the birth that I wanted – a tranquil water birth where the only assistance I would need was controlled breathing. Sadly, that wasn’t to be. Following an induction and 36 hours of labour, Bells went into distress and her heart rate started to struggle, leading to us being rushed to theatre in a bit of a whirlwind.

A mixture of all of the drugs (yeah the breathing wasn’t enough in the end!?!) and the shock of what had happened meant that I walked away from the birth with very few memories. I found myself constantly turning to Dickie with loads of questions, trying to fill in blanks. The one thing I do remember clearly is that I didn’t get to see Bells being born. Whilst of course I felt love immediately, not seeing her come into the world made me feel like we’d skipped a really important part of the process. We were handed a baby and told she was ours and I remember looking at Dickie in disbelief. Looking back now, that had a massive impact on how long it took for me to bond with Bells after the birth.

WHY ELECTIVE C-SECTION?

After our first experience, I was keen to have a natural birth but Dickie was still pretty traumatised by the whole thing and really wanted to have a sense of control over things this time around (he definitely has the memories that I do not). When we found out that Millie was also measuring small and was also high risk, we decided that an elective c-section was the right choice for us…. albeit reluctantly.

This didn’t stop me from feeling ashamed, as though I was cheating in some way. Dickie would laugh at me as at each consultant’s appointment when they’d ask what type of birth we would like and I would lie saying that we hadn’t yet decided. I felt that I would be judged in some way, that they would think I wasn’t a proper mother and was taking the easy way out. Having a c-section is definitely not the easy route however and there will be another post on that to follow.

A POSITIVE C-SECTION

The great thing about a planned c-section is that you get a pre-op where you can take your birth plan and talk through all of your wishes with your consultant and midwife. This not only meant that they were able to try and accommodate as much as possible (there was no time to do this understandably with an emergency), they were also able to manage my expectations so that I didn’t feel disappointed on the day when they couldn’t do a few things.

The day of the C-Section was surreal. We both walked down to the theatre holding hands and kissed before we went in. The atmosphere in the theatre was jovial and there was plenty of chatter. It was completely relaxed, with far fewer staff than we’d experienced the first time and it felt like a really happy occasion rather than one of panic.

Personally, the most positive element of the c-section was that they were able to drop the curtain for us to witness them lifting Millie out of my tummy. Whilst that might sound gross and the fainter in me wonders how I didn’t pass out… all that we could focus on was Millie. I felt bonded to her immediately, seeing her delivered into this world, taking her first breaths and looking around in wonderment. We chose delayed chord clamping but as soon as that was done, they were able to lift her onto my chest for skin-to-skin contact and I honestly couldn’t have asked for more. I’d finally got the birth that was as close to a natural birth as I could have wished.

One thing that I will never forget though is the music. Having been told that we were able to take a playlist with us, we took the Spotify playlist from our wedding breakfast. Masquerading as being sentimental, the truth was that with an unruly toddler to contend with, I had no time to create a new playlist for the birth. I probably should have spent a bit more time going through it though. Playing on shuffle, right at the point of incision, Leona Lewis came on, as if in slow motion singing “you cut me open and I keep bleeding, keep keep bleeding”. The whole theatre erupted into laughter before changing the track swiftly.

IT CAN BE POSITIVE

I genuinely never thought that I’d find myself writing this post. Having had such a traumatic first c-section, I didn’t think it would be possible to for it to happen any other way, but Millie’s delivery goes to prove otherwise. If you’re planning an elective c-section (be that as a first birth or following an emergency c-section) rest assured that it can be positive, it can be filled with love and it can fill you with happy memories that last a lifetime. You’ve got this.

Beautiful Botanicals from The Original Muck Boot Company

Fashion / Mar 12, 2018 /

Life has definitely changed in the last few years.

Rewind just four years and I was convinced that I was going to be a hard-nosed career girl for the rest of my days, living in the city with a penchant for parties. Kids? They were alright I guess, as long as they could be handed back and didn’t try to touch me with dirty hands at any point in the process. Fast forward to the present day and we now have two little monkeys, work is still something that I’m still passionate about (but not my entire universe) and we’re living in the English countryside and loving it.

Where Sundays used to be spent nursing a nasty hangover with the most effort being spent reaching for my mobile to call for a pizza, my favourite days are now those where we go out on long-walks through local country tracks, jumping in puddles and feeding the horses before stopping in a local pub for a good old Sunday Roast. Bliss.

Needless to say, my wardrobe… and footwear… has changed somewhat as a result. Don’t get me wrong, I still lust after Louboutins, but you’re much more likely to find me in my wellies than in heels. Hopefully all of this insight, gives you a little bit of background as to why I fell so in love with these RHS Tremont Tall Boots from The Original Muck Boot Company. I need practicality, something that I can throw on and be confident will be comfy, lightweight and 100% waterproof but that doesn’t mean that I don’t care about how they look!

Thankfully, I decided to grab a pair just before ‘The Beast From The East’ and so they’ve already been put through their paces. I love them as they’re nice and slim, which keeps you feeling feminine (no pasty feet over here thank you very much), along with 4mm neoprene with a breathable mesh lining to keep my tootsies cooler on warmer days (great when you’ve got a garden our size). There’s also a gel cushion insole which acts as a shock-absorber, making them super comfy for longer-walks.

If I’m honest though, I’m all about the looks and endorsed by the Royal Horticulture Society, they’ve got a whole range of boots in beautiful botantical prints inspired by the RHS Library. Practical doesn’t have to mean ugly…. thankfully. You can find more details here. They retail for £110.

 

M xox

My C-Section Hospital Bag

BeautyLifestylePregnancy / Mar 7, 2018 /

It’s fair to say that I was much more organised in my pregnancy with Bells… my hospital bag was prepared months in advance, as much out of excitement as necessity and I even had a playlist. This time around, my hospital bag has been left to the very last minute and my playlist? Well, I’m leaving it to the Radio Gods.

However, what I’ve lacked in organisation in time, I’ve made up for in efficiency of packing. I’m not sure if you remember, but last time, I packed to excess, EVERY eventuality had been covered, from black out blinds to battery candles and even room scent…. only then things went wrong and NOTHING got used. This time, my approach is to take the bare essentials only… hopefully meaning less to lug around the hospital for poor Dickie!

My packing has allowed for the likelihood that I’ll have a longer stay than a natural birth and as it’s a planned section this time, it’s likely that the wait will feel excruciatingly long too!

Here’s what’s in my bag:-

  1. 3 pairs of dark button-up pyjamas that allow for easy feeding
  2. Black Calvin Klein dressing gown to pop over my gown to walk to theatre (I’ve flashed one too many times in the past)
  3. Cheap dark cotton big M&S pants that will avoid anything from touching the wound (I thought they’d be nicer than disposable but cheap enough that I wouldn’t mind just chucking them away if needed)
  4. Nursing bras (only 3 for now, I figure I’ll buy more when my milk is in and I have a better idea of my melon size)
  5. My Mahabis slip-on slippers, keeping me warm and avoiding the need to bend over to pull them on
  6. A couple of pairs of black high waisted leggings that will make me feel secure but won’t mess with my scar
  7. My Cuddledry Baby&Me washbag including essentials such as non-scented shower gel, travel-sized shampoo and conditioner, moisturiser, lip salve (what is it with hospital air con?), hair bobbles and grips, deodorant, toothpaste and brush, foundation, mascara, vanity mirror. I know it seems crazy to be thinking about make-up after you’ve just had surgery and are balancing a baby, but last time, it was nice to have something for myself that made me feel human again).
  8. Breast pads (no more walking out of the hospital unaware of huge wet patches for me)
  9. Warm socks to rid the nervous shivers that you tend to feel
  10. Nursing vests (I couldn’t live without these! Pop them under a normal top or a cardigan for easy feeding and effortless style)
  11. A thick black cardigan – the last thing that you want to feel is cold when you’re sitting about waiting
  12. 4 loose tops (incase there happens to be any boob leakage)
  13. An old towel that I won’t mind getting ruined
  14. Maternity pads (the hospital ones remind me of the horrible things the school nurse used to give you when you started your period at school… you know the ones I’m talking about!)
  15. A book (in case I want distraction and to submerse myself in something… however I don’t think for a second I’ll be able to concentrate)
  16. Some trashy magazines with plenty of pictures (in case 15. is reality)
  17. iPad with movies (as much to entertain Dickie as myself)
  18. iPhone charger (I didn’t touch my SLR last time)
  19. Polaroid camera (I thought it would be cool and I love the idea of an instant physical picture that I can place by my bed
  20. Snacks for Dickie (just to torment me as I know that I won’t be able to eat before the op)
  21. Change of clothes for Dickie (I’m as keen for him to get skin-to-skin as for me… and sometimes, that leaves you a bit messy!)
  22. Chocolates for the midwives. They do such a great job, that having something on hand to say thank you is a must for me

Here’s what’s in baby’s bag:-

  1. 5 baby grows with built in scratch mitts and feet (guaranteed not to fall off)
  2. 2 baby hats
  3. 5 vests
  4. 3 muslins
  5. Swaddle blanket
  6. 20 nappies
  7. Nappy cream
  8. Nappy bags
  9. Infacol (I literally couldn’t live without this with Bells but it took me ages to discover it)
  10. Baby wipes
  11. Baby sponge
  12. Olive oil. Weird one, but apply a little to their bum as soon as they arrive and it makes that first nappy change SO much easier
  13. Comforter
  14. Family photo for the cot
  15. 2 Dummies (just in case)

Thankfully this time around, I’m using the brand new Cuddledry Baby&Me washbag which allows me to store all of mine and baby’s essentials in one place thanks to it’s 2 separate sections with colour coded zips to make finding things super easy. I got it especially to take to hospital as it’s waterproof and has two really generous compartments, but I know that it’ll be great for the future too as the parent side contains two BPA free re-fillable toiletry bottles which are 100ml making them great for carry on.

I think that I’ve covered, but no doubt I’ve forgotten something major! What did you pack? Is there anything that I’m missing? Anything that you hadn’t thought of? I’d love to hear from you.

Arrrrrrgh! It’s almost baby time!

M xox

NB: Cuddledry kindly sent the washbag to me to see what I thought… however, the fact that it’s now replaced a really cute Liberty washbag, shows you just how good I think it is. You can buy it here for £24.99 😘